HAGUE, THE (in Dutch, ’s Gravenhage, or, abbreviated, den Haag; in Fr. La Haye; and in Late Lat. Haga Comitis), the chief town of the province of South Holland, about 21 m. from the sea, with a junction station 91 m. by rail S.W. by S. of Leiden. Steam tramways connect it with the seaside villages of Scheveningen, Kykduin and ’s Gravenzande, as well as with Delft, Wassenaar and Leiden, and it is situated on a branch of the main canal from Rotterdam to Amsterdam. Pop. (1900), 212,211. The Hague is the chief town of the province, the usual residence of the court and diplomatic bodies, and the seat of the government, the states-general, the high council of the Netherlands, the council of state, the chamber of accounts and various other administrative bodies. The characteristics of the town are quite in keeping with its political position; it is as handsome as it is fashionable, and was rightly described by de Amicis in his Olanda as half Dutch, half French. The Hague has grown very largely in modern times, especially on its western side, which is situated on the higher and more sandy soil, the south-eastern half of the town comprising the poorer and the business quarters. The main features in a plan of the town are its fine streets and houses and extensive avenues and well-planted squares; while, as a city, the neighbourhood of an attractive seaside resort, combined with the advantages and importance of a large town, and the possession of beautiful and wooded surroundings, give it a distinction all its own.
The medieval-looking group of government buildings situated in the Binnenhof (or “inner court”), their backs reflected in the pretty sheet of water called the Vyver, represent both historically and topographically the centre of the Hague. On the opposite side of the Vyver lies the parallelogram formed by the fine houses and magnificent avenue of trees of the Lange Voorhout, the Kneuterdyk and the Vyverburg, representing the fashionable kernel of the city. Close by lies the entrance to the Haagsche Bosch, or the wood, on one side of which is situated the deer-park, and a little beyond on the other the zoological gardens (1862). Away from the Lange Voorhout the fine Park Straat stretches to the “1813 Plein” or square, in the centre of which rises the large monument (1869) by Jaquet commemorating the jubilee of the restoration of Dutch independence in 1813. Beyond this is the Alexander Veld, used as a military drill ground, and close by is the entrance to the beautiful road called the Scheveningensche Weg, which leads through the “little woods” to Scheveningen. Parallel to the Park Straat is the busy Noordeinde, in which is situated the royal palace. The palace was purchased by the States in 1595, rebuilt by the stadtholder William III., and extended by King William I. in the beginning of the 19th century. In front of the building is an equestrian statue of William I. of Orange by Count Nieuerkerke (1845), and behind are the gardens and extensive stables. The Binnenhof, which has been already mentioned, was once surrounded by a moat, and is still entered through ancient gateways. The oldest portion was founded in 1249 by William II., count of Holland, whose son, Florens V., enlarged it and made it his residence. Several centuries later the stadtholders also lived here. The fine old hall of the knights, built by Florens, and now containing the archives of the home office, is the historic chamber in which the states of the Netherlands abjured their allegiance to Philip II. of Spain, and in front of which the grey-headed statesman Johan van Oldenbarneveldt was executed in 1619. Close by on the one side are the courts of justice, and on the other the first and second chambers of the states-general, containing some richly painted ceilings and the portraits of various stadtholders. Government offices occupy the remainder of the buildings, and in the middle of the court is a fountain surmounted by a statuette of William II., count of Holland (1227–1256). In the adjoining Buitenhof, or “outer court,” is a statue of King William II. (d. 1849), and the old Gevangen Poort, or prison gate (restored 1875), consisting of a tower and gateway. It was here that the brothers Cornelis and Jan de Witt were killed by the mob in 1672. On the opposite side of the Binnenhof is the busy square called the Plein, where all the tram-lines meet. Round about it are the buildings of the ministry of justice and other government buildings, including one to contain the state archives, the large club-house of the Witte Societeit, and the Mauritshuis. The Mauritshuis was built in 1633–1644 by Count John Maurice of Nassau, governor of Brazil, and contains the famous picture gallery of the Hague. The nucleus of this collection was formed by the princes of Orange, notably by the stadtholder William V. (1748–1806). King William I. did much to restore the losses caused by the removal of many of the pictures during the French occupation. Other artistic collections in the Hague are the municipal museum (Gernsente Museum), containing paintings by both ancient and modern Dutch artists, and some antiquities; the fine collection of pictures in the Steengracht gallery, belonging to Jonkheer Steengracht; the museum Meermanno-Westreenianum, named after Count Meermann and Baron Westreenen (d. 1850), containing some interesting MSS. and specimens of early typography and other curiosities; and the Mesdag Museum, containing the collection of the painter H. W. Mesdag (b. 1831) presented by him to the state. The royal library (1798) contains upwards of 500,000 volumes, including some early illuminated MSS., a valuable collection of coins and medals and some fine antique gems. In addition to the royal palace already mentioned, there are the palaces of the queen-dowager, of the prince of Orange (founded about 1720 by Count Unico of Wassenaar Twiekels) and of the prince von Wied, dating from 1825, and containing some good early Dutch and Flemish masters. There are numerous churches of various denominations in the Hague as well as an English church, a Russian chapel and two synagogues, one of which is Portuguese. The Groote Kerk of St James (15th and 16th centuries) has a fine vaulted interior, and contains some old stained glass, a carved wooden pulpit (1550), a large organ and interesting sepulchral monuments, and some escutcheons of the knights of the Golden Fleece, placed here after the chapter of 1456. The Nieuwe Kerk, or new church (first half 17th century), contains the tombs of the brothers De Witt and of the philosopher Spinoza. Spinoza is further commemorated by a monument in front of the house in which he died in 1677. The picturesque town hall (built in 1565 and restored and enlarged in 1882) contains a historical picture gallery. The principal other buildings are the provincial government offices, the royal school of music, the college of art, the large building (1874) of the society for arts and sciences, the ethnographical institute of the Netherlands Indies with fine library, the theatres, civil and military hospitals, orphanage, lunatic asylum and other charitable institutions; the fine modern railway station (1892), the cavalry and artillery and the infantry barracks, and the cannon foundry. The chief industries of the town are iron casting, copper and lead smelting, cannon founding, the manufacture of furniture and carriages, liqueur distilling, lithographing and printing.
The Hague wood has been described as the city’s finest ornament. It is composed chiefly of oaks and alders and magnificent avenues of gigantic beech-trees. Together with the Haarlem wood it is thought to be a remnant of the immense forest which once extended along the coast. At the end of one of the avenues which penetrates into it from the town is the large summer club-house of the Witte Societeit, under whose auspices concerts are given here in summer. Farther into the wood are some pretty little lakes, and the famous royal villa called the Huis ten Bosch, or “house in the wood.” This villa was built by Pieter Post for the Princess Amelia of Solms, in memory of her husband the stadtholder, Frederick Henry of Orange (d. 1647), and wings were added to it by Prince William IV. in 1748. The chief room is the Orange Saloon, an octagonal hall 50 ft. high, covered with paintings by Dutch and Flemish artists, chiefly of incidents in the life of Prince Frederick. In this room the International Peace Conference had its sittings in the summer of 1899. The collections in the Chinese and Japanese rooms, and the grisailles in the dining-room painted by Jacobus de Wit (1695–1754), are also noteworthy.
The history of the Hague is in some respects singular. In the 13th century it was no more than a hunting-lodge of the counts of Holland, and though Count Floris V. (b. 1254–1296) made it his residence and it thus became the seat of the supreme court of justice of Holland and the centre of the administration, and from the time of William of Orange onward the meeting-place of the states-general, it only received the status of a town, from King Louis Bonaparte, early in the 19th century.
In the latter part of the 17th and the first half of the 18th century the Hague was the centre of European diplomacy. Among the many treaties and conventions signed here may be mentioned the treaty of the Triple Alliance (January 23, 1688) between England, Sweden and the Netherlands; the concert of the Hague (March 31, 1710) between the Emperor, England and Holland, for the maintenance of the neutrality of the Swedish provinces in Germany during the war of the northern powers against Sweden; the Triple Alliance (January 4, 1717) between France, England and Holland for the guarantee of the treaty of Utrecht; the treaty of peace (Feb. 17, 1717) between Spain, Savoy and Austria, by which the first-named acceded to the principles of the Triple Alliance; the treaty of peace between Holland and France (May 16, 1795); the first “Hague Convention,” the outcome of the “peace conference” assembled on the initiative of the emperor Nicholas II. of Russia (July 27, 1899), and the series of conventions, the results of the second peace conference (June 15–October 18, 1907). The international court of arbitration or Hague Tribunal was established in 1899 (see Europe: History; Arbitration, International). The Palace of Peace designed to be completed in 1913 as the seat of the tribunal, on the Scheveningen avenue, is by a French architect, L. M. Cordonnier, and A. Carnegie contributed £300,000 towards its cost.