Exactly 350 years ago, Johan de Witt was having what could be called a rough summer. The man who had spent the last 20 years as de facto ruler of the Dutch Republic had been stabbed on June 21st by a would-be assassin, barely surviving the attempt. On August 4th, he was forced to resign his post as Grand Pensionary by his political opponents, after a series of defeats at the hands of the English and the French. As a member of an old patrician family, de Witt represented the Republican interests of the ascendant merchant class and the oligarchy, in contrast to the more traditional authority of the landed aristocracy, personified by the
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