Gaspar Fagel

First name
Last name
Date of Birth
Date of Death
Born in
The Hague
Died in
The Hague

Gaspar Fagel was a Dutch statesman, writer and quasi-diplomat who authored correspondence from and on behalf of William III during the English Revolution of 1688. Fagel took a doctoral degree in Law (1653) at Utrecht University. He was pensionary of Haarlem (1664–70), judge’s clerk for the States General (1670–2), and Grand Pensionary of Holland (1672–88). He was appointed Grand Pensionary only three days after the murder of the De Witt brothers. See: NNBW, vol. 3, col. 382; Edwards, 2002. Fagel had a keen interest in botany and gardening and designed (1676–88) the gardens of his manor Leeuwenhorst. See: Den Hartog and Teune, 2003

Somewhere in September 1674, the Provincial Synod of South Holland takes notice of the fact that ‘certain placard dated 19 July 1674’ (‘zeker placcaat in dato den 19e July 1674’) had been given out by the High Court of Holland to stop the ‘Theological-Political Treatise’ along with three other pernicious books (The Hague, GA, 0003–04: ‘Evangelisch-Lutherse Gemeente’, inv. no. 47). The Synod in this special meeting lastly expressed its gratitude to Fagel for his outstanding contribution (and perhaps personal intervention) to outlaw these books in the entire Province of Holland:

… that they expressed their gratitude to the lord Pensionary for his good efforts in this [matter], and for the promulgation of the said placard against the ‘Leviathan’, ‘Bibliotheca fratrum Polonorum’, ‘Philosophia Scripturae interpres’, and ‘Tractatus theologico-politicus’, and that this has pleased the honourable [lord] [and] that he offered his services to help out in a similar case.

Quoted in Walther and Czelinski, vol. 1, p. 321–2, no. 112–3).

Spinoza’s posthumous works are offered for public sale in the first weeks of January 1678. The first known official reaction is the condemnation by the Kerkenraad of Leiden on 4 February 1678. One week later, the Leiden Burgomasters take the decision to seize copies of the posthumous writings in the local bookshops. Alarmed by the Leiden deputies, the Grand Pensionary of Holland Gaspar Fagel informs the States of Holland on 17 March 1678 about the complaints submitted by the North and South Holland Synods concerning the dissemination of the Opera posthuma. Finally, after many intensive debates and internal deliberations the Supreme Court of Holland, Zeeland and West-Friesland decide to suppress the posthumous works in an official placard on 25 June 1678.