Gaspar Fagel (25 January 1634, The Hague – 15 December 1688) was a Dutch statesman, writer and quasi-diplomat who authored correspondence from and on behalf of William III, Prince of Orange during the English Revolution of 1688.
Fagel was born into a distinguished patrician family. Little is known of his early life, but in 1663 he was elected Pensionary of Haarlem and as such was also a member representative of the States of Holland.
In 1667 Fagel was one of the signers (the other signers where Grand Pensionary Jan de Witt, Gillis Valckenier and Andries de Graeff) of the Perpetual Edict, that was a resolution of the States of Holland in which they abolished the office of Stadtholder in the province of Holland. At approximately the same time a majority of provinces in the States-General of the Netherlands agreed to declare the office of stadtholder (in any of the provinces) incompatible with the office of Captain general of the Dutch Republic.
In 1670, he was made Greffier (secretary) of the Staten-Generaal and in 1672 after the resignation and subsequent murder of Jan and Cornelis de Witt. He was distinguished for his integrity and the firmness with which he repelled the attempts of Louis XIV of France against his country, and for his zeal in supporting the claims of the William III, Prince of Orange to the English throne.
Fagel was responsible for writing several letters on instruction from William III and several letters purported to be from William III himself (with William's permission). In 1687, Fagel wrote an open letter to the English people, as Pensionary of Netherlands, deploring the religious policy of James. The letter was generally interpreted as a covert bid, by William II, for the English throne.
In 1688, in preparation for the English Revolution during which William III landed in England, Fagel wrote to English advocate James Stewart calling on public figures there to not use the various anti-Catholic Test Oaths and associated legislation to restrict the liberties of Catholic citizens. While his correspondence called for liberty and freedom of religion, Fagel also suggested that the Dutch would support the softening of some laws only if:
|“||...those Laws remain still in their full vigour by which the Roman Catholics are shut out of both Houses of Parliament, and out of all public employment; Ecclesiastical, Civil and Military: as likewise all those others, which confirm the Protestant Religion and which secures it against all the attempts of the Roman Catholic.||”|
The effect of this letter, and others, was to assure the Parliament that William III would not stand in the way of the Parliament's legislative agenda which manifested itself in the form of the Bill of Rights of 1689.
- An Unknown Statesman? Gaspar Fagel in the Service of William III and the Dutch Republic, Elizabeth Edwards (2002)
- A letter, writ by Mijn Heer Fagel (Pensioner of Holland) to Mr. James Stewart (Advocate); giving an account of the Prince and Princess of Orange's thoughts concerning the repeal of the test, and the penal laws, Gaspar Fagel (1688)
Johan de Witt
|Grand Pensionary of Holland
Michiel ten Hove