1799: Judith van Dorth

On this date in 1799, Judith van Dorth was shot on the outskirts of Winterswijk for supporting an attempted restoration of the House of Orange to the Dutch throne against the Batavian Republic.

Although the Netherlands had been a Republic for two centuries, it was torn by revolutionary conflict from the mid-1780’s — predating the French Revolution, but finally coming to power in 1795 when its neighbor’s mass conscript armies drove William V of Orange to England.

The 52-year-old van Dorth, an impoverished noble of Orangist sympathies, recklessly tried to raise an internal revolt [linked page in Dutch] backing an English-Russian invasion to restore William in 1799.

The uprising came to nothing, and after the invasion — a footnote in the sweep of Revolutionary Wars — was repelled, van Dorth was condemned for treason by a military tribunal to set an example. [linked page in Dutch]

She was shot within 24 hours near Winterswijk’s Jewish cemetery, and apparently survived the barrage. One of the firing squad had to shoot again when he saw her move — legend has it that this occurred when she had already been packed into her coffin.

She remains the only woman in history executed by a Dutch military court. A biography of her life is available in Dutch.

The House of Orange, one of the most successful of European dynasties, regained power in the Netherlands following the Napoleonic Wars. William V’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter Queen Beatrix reigns there today.

On this day..