On 7 february 1668 there was much ado at the Buitenhof in The Hague. Noblemen, foreign diplomats and Dutch regents arrived in coaches or on foot at the stables of the Prince of Orange, which had been transformed temporarily into a theatre. It was the opening night of the Ballet de la Paix (Ballet of Peace).
The Ballet de la Paix was officially staged to glorify the Peace Treaty of Breda (1667). The Treaty of Breda was signed at the Dutch city of Breda, 31 July, 1667, by England, the Dutch Republic, France, and Denmark-Norway. It brought a hasty end to the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667) in favour of the Dutch. It was a typical quick uti possidetis treaty. In the latter stages of the war, the Dutch had prevailed. Lieutenant-Admiral-General Michiel de Ruyter virtually controlled the seas around the south coast of England. His presence encouraged English commissioners to sue for peace quickly. Negotiations, which had been long protracted, and had actually begun in Breda before the raid, took only ten days to conclude after resumption of talks.
The war had been won under the leadership of Johan de Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland and leader of the anti-Orangist movement. It might seem strange the De Witt was among the guests at a court ballet of his political opponent, the young William III, Prince of Orange. William took this event as an excuse to launch his own political campaign, which was aimed at reviving the office of Stadtholder and the central position of the Princely House of Orange in Dutch politics. The Ballet thus appears to have been political propaganda for the Prince, rather than a celebration of the Peace Treaty itself.
Details of the play, its sources and performance can be read in Bésanger, Imre, "Ballet de la Paix: Staging a Seventeenth-century Theatre Performance, in: Drama, Performance and Debate: Theatre and Public Opinion in the Early Modern Period, Leiden, Brill, 2013, pp. 333-346.[number of readers: 752]