In 2015 it was four hundred years ago that the eminent jurist Hugo Grotius, then pensionary of Rotterdam, wrote his Remonstrantie at the request of the States of Holland and West Friesland. To mark the occasion, chairman Jaap Sajet of the Morasha foundation took the initiative in 2014 for a scholarly study that placed the Remonstrantie in its historical and social context, including a new complete edition of the Remonstrantie with explanatory notes, a facsimile of the original, a retranslation into modern Dutch and an English translation. As fellow board members of Morasha at the time we could not imagine the vast scope of this project. Sajet’s vision surpassed our imagination.
The Remonstrantie marks the beginning of the debate on the Jewish presence in the Dutch Republic, by one of the greatest contemporary jurists. Grotius discusses the issue of the rights of Jews in connection with the political and religious situation in the Dutch Republic. It is the principal purpose of the Morasha foundation to promote publications on aspects of Dutch-Jewish history which have so far been insufficiently explored. As such, this edition is highly appropriate to the objectives of Morasha.
In 1615 Hugo Grotius gave his view on how to deal with the influx of Sephardi Jews at the request of the States of Holland and West Friesland. In this Remonstrantie nopende de ordre dije in de landen van Hollandt ende Westvrieslandt dijent gestelt op de Joden (A Remonstrantie on the Regulations to be Instituted in Holland and West Friesland Regarding the Jews), Grotius first raised the question whether Jews ought to be admitted in the first place. After having answered in the affirmative, he considered the terms and conditions to be applied to their admission. That the Remonstrantie was eventually shelved is no reflection on its contents. If anything, it had to do with the political situation in the Dutch Republic at the time.
Dr Jaap Meijer previously published an edition of the Remonstrantie in 1949, though without a retranslation or an English translation, so that it was not accessible internationally. It was time to engage with the Remonstrantie once more.
Publishing the work of a scholar as exceptional and eminent as Hugo Grotius requires much of everyone in the project. The researcher has to be well acquainted with the period and the issues Hugo Grotius was faced with in 1616. We are very fortunate that Dr David Kromhout expressed a great interest in the project and was available and willing to do the research. Not only did he write the article on the backgrounds to Grotius’ advisory report, he also had to identify and translate the numerous Latin references and notes in the Remonstrantie. We appreciate the advice provided to Dr Kromhout by Prof. Marc de Wilde and Prof. Henk Nellen. Dr Adri Offenberg brought his great expertise as a book specialist at the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana to bear on the transcription of the seventeenth-century manuscript.
As a historical text can be challenging to read even when presented in a contemporary font, a retranslation into modern Dutch in the edition was included. This was a formidable task, and we are delighted with the result provided by Marijke Blankman MA. She has come up with a contemporary retranslation that nevertheless remained as close as possible to the source text. Dr Cis van Heertum translated this retranslation into English, using the Authorized Version of 1611 for the biblical quotes so that these, too, are consonant with the period of the Remonstrantie itself. Will Kelly carefully read the final version of David Kromhout’s English text. We are honoured by the introduction by Piet Hein Donner LLM, who as former Justice Minister and Vice-President of the Council of State operated at the interface of politics and science, as Grotius before him.
A scientific council was established to supervise the project and ensure a high academic standard, consisting of Prof. Irene Zwiep, Prof. Emile Schrijver, Dr Adri Offenberg and Steph Scholten MA, who was succeeded by Rachel Boertjens MA after he left for Scotland. We are very grateful to them all for their dedication, their valuable contributions and their commitment in seeing this book through to completion. We also thank Rachel Cilia Werdmölder MA for her expert assistance in the final editing process of the book.
Dr Ruud Koster coordinated all aspects of this complex project from beginning to end with great enthusiasm and determination, from grant applications to contacts with the publisher.
In addition to a great deal of work and effort, it was necessary to find sponsors to make sure this edition would see the light of day. We thank our sponsors and donors for having responded generously to our request for support, and so having provided the financial means to realise this edition.
Our deep gratitude goes to Jaap Sajet, chairman of Morasha until his death in 2015, who was so committed to the history of the Jews in the Netherlands. He was the inspiring force behind this publication, and it is sad that Jaap has not been able to see his vision reach fruition.
This book is dedicated to his memory.
Marianka van Lunteren-Spanjaard
President of Morasha