Delving Into Orange Boven

Way back when I started the Regency pelisse I posted about recently, I got very excited about the version of the inspiration image that is labeled ‘Orange Boven Dinner Dress.’ I had no idea what the description ‘orange boven’ meant and so I went looking for information…which led me down the research rabbit hole.

Orange Boven Dinner Dress. Engraved for No. 54 New Series of La Belle Assemblee Feb. 1, 1814.

Turns out that ‘orange boven’ is much more than a description of color. In fact, it is connected to Dutch history! (That fact reminds me strongly of Orange Pekoe tea, which has nothing to do with tasting like oranges and everything to do with a historical association with the House of Orange and the Dutch East India Company, in addition to the tea leaf grading system.)

I’ve put together a few excerpts from my research to better explain the historical context of ‘orange boven.’ These first excerpts are from “The History Of The Northern War; Commencing In 1812, To The Congress At Vienna In 1815.” John Hampdon, Esq. 1815. (The full text of this book is free on google books, you can view it by clicking the link. If you put “history of orange boven” into the search feature it will take you directly to the relevant pages, some of which I have condensed here.)

From Chapter XXIII. Pages 360-361.

“…But it was not necessary that the troops of the allies should make their appearance in those countries, which had so long endured the miseries of French subjugation, to free them from their invaders…the sentiments and feelings of the conquered countries, which had so long been kept down by their presence, being now unchecked, spontaneously burst forth in favour of their legitimate governments.

Holland, which had so long groaned under French tyranny; which, from the peculiar nature of the country, and the dispositions and habits of its people, had suffered more from the continental system than any other part of Europe, set the example of liberating itself from its oppressors. All at once, and, there is reason to believe, most unexpectedly, both to the governments of Great Britain and France, on the 15th of November an insurrection broke out in Amsterdam, where the people rose in a body, proclaiming the house of Orange, with the old cry of Orange boven, and universally putting up the orange cockade. The example of the inhabitations of Amsterdam was immediately followed by those of other towns in the provinces of Holland and Utrecht; the French authorities were dismissed; a provisional government formed, from which two deputies were sent to the prince of Orange in this country; and the following laconic and emphatic address to the Dutch was circulated:

Orange boven! Holland is free–the allies advance upon Utrecht–the English are invited–the French fly on all sides–the sea is open–trade revives–party spirit has ceased–what has been suffered is forgiven and forgotten–men of consequence and consideration are called to the government–the government invites the prince to the sovereignty–we join the allies, and force the enemy to sue for peace–the people are to have a day of rejoicing at the public expence, without being allowed to plunder or commit any excess–every one renders thanks to God–old times are returned–Orange boven!’

The prince of Orange lost no time in going over to Holland; and the ministry of Great Britain nobly seconded him in his purpose of completely liberating his country…”

From Chapter XXIV. Pages 375-376. Another account of the same events.

“Nov. 21, 1813.

The baron Perponcher and Mr James Fagel have arrived this day from Holland…to inform his royal highness the prince regent and his serene highness the prince of Orange, that a counter-revolution broke out in…on Monday last, the 15th instant, when the people of Amsterdam rose in a body, proclaiming the house of Orange with the old cry of Orange boven, and universally putting up the Orange colours.

This example was immediately followed by the other towns of the provinces…

The French authorities were dismissed, and a temporary government established and proclaimed in the name of the prince of Orange, and, until his serene highness’s arrival, composed of the most respectable members of the old government, and chiefly of those not employed under the French.”

From Chapter XXVI. Pages 399-400.

“Amersterdam, Dec. 2. About three o’clock, his serene highness the prince of Orange made his solemn entry into this capital, thorough the gate of Haerlem, under the roar of artillery, and with the ringing of all the bells. The joy was general among all classes of inhabitants; the numbers of the populace that were assembled, and flew to every part where his highness passed, were past description; the joyful acclamations of Huzza! Orange boven! And Long live prince William the First, sovereign price of the Netherlands! were uninterrupted. The whole city will be illuminated this evening.”

Some of this same text occurs in this source as well: The New Annual Register Or General Repository Of History, Politics, And Literature For The Year 1813 (1814).

Sunday morning, 21 November 1813, marks a crucial moment in Dutch history. On behalf of the prince of Orange – then living in England – a provisional government was created to reassume power from the French. (Rjksmuseum)

Here is another account, from a few decades later. This is from a  History of Europe During The French Revolution. 1789-1815. Archibald Allison, 1841. (Again, the full text of this book is free on google books, you can view it by clicking the link. If you put “history of orange boven” into the search feature it will take you directly to the relevant pages, some of which I have condensed here.)

From Chapter LXXI. Pages 657-658..

“At Amsterdam, the [French] troops were no sooner gone than the inhabitants rose in insurrection, deposed the Imperial authorities, hoisted the orange flag, and established a provisional government, with a view to the re-establishment of the ancient order of things…the people every where, amidst cries of ‘Orange Boven!’ and universal rapture, mounted the orange cockade, and reinstated the ancient authorities; and after twenty years of foreign domination and suffering, the glorious spectacle was exhibited, of a people peacefully regaining their independence, and not shedding a drop of blood, and, without either passion or vengeance, reverting to the institutions of former times.”

Here is a much more succinct mention. This is from A History of Germany; From Its Invasion By Marius to the Year 1850 (1862). (Again, the full text of this book is free on google books, you can view it by clicking the link. If you put “history of orange boven” into the search feature it will take you directly to the relevant pages, some of which I have condensed here.)

From Chapter LI. Page 350.

…Meanwhile the partisans of William of Orange, then in his twenty-second year, were rousing the nation with the cry of “Oranjie boven,” Up with Orange. Hats were decorated with orange-colored ribbons, and on every tower waved a banner with the inscription–

Up with Orange, down with Witt;
Him who says nay, may thunder split.

Another source I came across is a book published in 1900 called Anneke: A Little Dame of New Netherlands. Written by Elizabeth Williams Chimney, there is an entire chapter with the title ‘orange boven.’ The forward of the book reveals its fictional nature and I have not been able to find another reference to the information on the first page of the chapter, but it is an interesting and quick read if you’re further interested in this topic. This link will take you directly to the first page of the ‘orange boven’ chapter.

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4 responses to “Delving Into Orange Boven

  1. How interesting that this phrase shows up in English in a (French?) fashion magazine! Being Dutch I recognized the term immediately, but it does sound a bit weird in English 😉 (‘Oranje boven’ is what we’d say now, although historically the name came from the French ‘Orange’, so they might have shouted the French version in the past). We still have an old song with this in it, ending the phrase with ‘long live the queen’, traditionally sung at ‘koninginnendag’, the day we used to celebrate the queen’s birthday (it’s now kingsday). Funny how some things stick around, I had no idea the phrase was this old, although it makes sense given it’s relation to the royal house.

    • What excellent insight! Thank you! It is interesting, isn’t it, how fashion terms are taken out of context and language. 🙂 I am so tickled that you recognized the phrase immediately–it was foreign to me, not being Dutch!

  2. Atelier Nostalgia had a lot more detail, but I was going to comment to say that boven translates literally to “above” in Dutch. So it makes sense that it’s part of a phrase to support the monarch! This was an interesting rabbit hole 🙂

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