At the start of the century, an argument had developed between two Leiden University theologians, Franciscus Gomarus and Jacobus Arminius, both portrayed here by engraver Willem van Swanenburgh. The argument concerned a number of crucial points relating to Calvinist doctrine, most notably the belief that God has predestined some to be saved and others to eternal damnation, regardless of the individual’s actions. Arminius argued against this crucial tenet of Calvinism, claiming that human beings have free will and can make decisions that will lead to salvation. During the Twelve Years’ Truce (1609-1621), the conflict escalated, pitting the Remonstrants, a relatively small group of Arminius’ followers led by Grotius’ close friend Uytenbogaert, against the orthodoxy – and power - of the Dutch Reformed Church. Oldenbarnevelt was sympathetic towards the Remonstrants: he argued for toleration and offered them protection.
Willem van Swanenburg, Portraits of Gomarus and Arminius, prints [BN 542 and BN 47]