To the Dutch Republic, even more than to Florence at an earlier day, is the world indebted for practical instruction in that great science of political equilibrium which must always become more and more important as the various states of the civilized world are pressed more closely together, and as the struggle for pre-eminence becomes more feverish and fatal.
-John Lothrop Motley, from the Preface
Motley spent five years in Dresden, Brussels, and the Hague to produce, in 1856, this popular three-volume history hailed by readers of the time and recognized by scholars since as a standard of the field. The lessons for modern society Motley finds in the microcosm of Holland continue to hold true in today's uncertain political environment, and his dramatic narrative and eloquent, lyrical prose remain a delight. The author's respect for the people of the Netherlands and their triumphs as a nation still shines through, and this love letter to the Dutch Republic retains the power to instruct and inform.
American diplomat and historian John Lothrop Motley (1814-1877) studied law at Harvard and Göttingen, in Germany, where he befriended Otto von Bismarck. He traveled extensively in Europe, frequently in the diplomatic service, but he is remembered primarily for his literary output of historical essays and criticism, political pamphlets, and novels. Oliver Wendell Holmes presented his biography in 1879 under the title John Lothrop Motley: A Memoir.