First edition. Three volumes.
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1880. Frontispiece illustration.
Quarto, three-quarter brown smooth calf over marbled boards, spines with red and burgundy gilt lettered labels, extra gilt, all edges marbled, marbled endpapers. Very minor rubbing and scuffing.
John Lothrop Motley (April 15, 1814 – May 29, 1877) was an American author, best known for his two popular histories The Rise of the Dutch Republic and The United Netherlands. He was also a diplomat, who helped to prevent European intervention on the side of the Confederates in the American Civil War.
In 1846, Motley had begun to plan a history of the Netherlands, in particular the period of the United Provinces, and he had already done a large amount of work on this subject when, finding the materials at his disposal in the United States inadequate, he went with his wife and children to Europe in 1851. The next five years were spent at Dresden, Brussels, and The Hague in investigation of the archives, which resulted in 1856 in the publication of The Rise of the Dutch Republic, which became very popular. It speedily passed through many editions and was translated into Dutch, French, German, and Russian. In 1860, Motley published the first two volumes of its continuation, The United Netherlands. This work was on a larger scale and embodied the results of a still greater amount of original research. It was brought down to the truce of 1609 by two additional volumes, published in 1867.
The reception of Motley's work in The Netherlands itself was not wholly favorable, especially as Motley described the Dutch struggle for independence in a flattering light, which caused some to argue he was biased against their opponents. Although historians like the orthodox Protestant Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer (whom Motley extensively quotes in his work) viewed him very favorably, the eminent liberal Dutch historian Robert Fruin (who was inspired by Motley to do some of his own best work, and who had reported already in 1856 in the Westminster Review Motley's edition on the Rise of the Dutch Republic ) was critical of Motley's tendency to make up ""facts"" if they made for a good story. Though he admired Motley's gifts as an author, and stated that he continued to hold the work as a whole in high regard, he stressed it still required ""addition and correction"". The humanist historian Johannes van Vloten was very critical, and responded to Fruin in the introduction to his Nederlands opstand tegen Spanje 1575-1577 (1860): ""..about the proper appreciation of Motley's work (..) I agree less with your too favorable judgement. (..) We cannot build on Motley['s foundation]; for that — apart from the little he copied from Groen's Archives and Gachard's Correspondences — for that his views are generally too obsolete."" Although appreciating his efforts to make Dutch history known among an English-speaking audience, Van Vloten argues that Motley's lack of knowledge of the Dutch language prevented him from sharing the latest insights of the Dutch historiographers, and made him vulnerable to bias in favor of Protestants and against Catholics. -wikipedia.