Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden / Zeven Provinciën

Republic of the Seven United Netherlands / Seven Provinces

Confederal Republic


1581–1795 [3]
[4] [5]
Flag Coat of arms

Concordia res parvae crescunt[1] (Unity makes small things grow)

[6]1658 map of the Dutch Republic.
Capital The Hague
Language(s) Dutch
Government Confederal Republic
Legislature Dutch States-General
Historical era Early Modern Age
- Established July 26, 1581
- French Revolutionary Wars January 19, 1795
Today part of Netherlands

The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden), the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces (Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Provinciën) — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately the modern Kingdom of the Netherlands. Alternative names include United Provinces, Foederatae Belgii Provinciae (Federated Belgic Provinces), and Belgica Foederata (Belgic Federation).


[hide]*1 History

[edit] HistoryEdit

For history and links to the earlier history of each of the provinces, see Seventeen Provinces. For the southern provinces that did not secede from Habsburg rule in 1581, see Spanish Netherlands.Until the 16th century, the Low Countries – roughly corresponding to modern Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – consisted of a number of duchies, counties and bishoprics, most of which were under the supremacy of the Holy Roman Empire.

Most of the Low Countries had come under the rule of the House of Burgundy and subsequently the House of Habsburg. In 1549 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which further unified the Seventeen Provinces under his rule. Charles was succeeded by his son, King Philip II of Spain. In 1568 the Netherlands, led by William I of Orange, revolted against Philip II because of high taxes, persecution of Protestants by the government, and Philip's efforts to modernize and centralize the devolved-medieval government structures of the provinces.[2] This was the start of the Eighty Years' War.

In 1579 a number of the northern provinces of the Netherlands signed the Union of Utrecht, in which they promised to support each other in their defence against the Spanish army. This was followed in 1581 by the Act of Abjuration, the declaration of independence of the provinces from Philip II.

In 1582 the United Provinces invited Francis, Duke of Anjou to lead them; but after a failed attempt to take Antwerp in 1583, the duke left the Netherlands again. After the assassination of William of Orange (July 10, 1584), both Henry III of France and Elizabeth I of England declined the offer of sovereignty. However, the latter agreed to turn the United Provinces into a protectorate of England (Treaty of Nonsuch, 1585), and sent the Earl of Leicester as governor-general. This was not a success and in 1588 the provinces became a republic.

The Republic of the United Provinces was officially recognized in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), and lasted until French revolutionary forces invaded in 1795 and set up a new republic, called the Batavian Republic which would be replaced by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Holland.

The Netherlands regained independence from France in 1813. In the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 the names "United Provinces of the Netherlands" and "United Netherlands" are used. In 1815 it was rejoined with Austrian Netherlands, Luxembourg and Liège (the 'Southern provinces') to become the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, in order to create a strong buffer state north of France. After Belgium became independent, the state finally became known as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as it remains today.

[edit] Economic perspectiveEdit

Main article: Economic history of the Netherlands (1500–1815)

History of the Low Countriesvde
Austrasia Frisian Kingdom
Carolingian Empire

ca 800–843


Cty of Flanders 9th century – 1384

Lotharingia, then Lower Lorraine 855–954–977

of Liège
Imperial Abbey of Stavelot- Malmedy +
[9] Duchy of Bouillon
10th century
– 1795

Other feudal states [10]

County of Luxembourg 963–1384

10th–14th centuries

Burgundian Netherlands

Duchy of Luxembourg



[12] Habsburg Netherlands 1482–1795 (Seventeen Provinces, Burgundian Circle)

Spanish (Southern) Netherlands 1549–1713


Dutch Republic 1581–1795


Austrian Netherlands 1713–95


Liège Revolution 1789–92


United States
of Belgium

[17] French Republic 1795–1804
French Empire 1804–15


Batavian Republic 1795–1806


of Holland


United Kingdom of
the Netherlands
since 1815


Kingdom of Belgium since 1830


Grand Duchy of Luxembourg since 1839

History of the Netherlands

This article is part of a series----

Early History
Germanic tribes
Roman Era
Migration Period
Frankish Realm/The Franks
Middle Francia
Holy Roman Empire
Burgundian Netherlands
Seventeen Provinces
Eighty Years' War
United Provinces
The Golden Age
The Batavian revolution
Batavian Republic
Kingdom of Holland
First French Empire
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Modern History
Netherlands in World War II
Military History
Dutch Language
Dutch literature
Naval influence
Inventions and discoveries
Luctor et Emergo
Dutch heraldry

Netherlands Portal vde

From an economic perspective, the Republic of the United Provinces completely outperformed all expectations; it was a surprise to many that a nation not based on the church or on a single royal leader could be so successful. This period is known in the Netherlands as the Golden Age. The Dutch dominated world trade in the 17th century, conquering a vast colonial empire and operating the largest fleet of merchantmen of all western nations. The County of Holland was the wealthiest and most urbanized region of Europe.

The free trade spirit of the time received a strong augmentation through the development of a modern, much better functioning stock market in the Low Countries.[3] A stock market was established first in Rotterdam and later in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam modernization of the financial institution took place, and the oldest stock market based on modern trading principles is found here. While the banking system evolved in the Low Countries, it was quickly incorporated into the well-connected English, stimulating the English economic output.

Between 1590-1712 the Dutch also enjoyed having one of the strongest navies in the world. This allowed for their varied conquests, including breaking the Portuguese sphere of influence on the Indian Ocean and in the Orient.

[edit] PoliticsEdit

The republic was a confederation of seven provinces, which had their own governments and were very independent, and a number of so-called Generality Lands. These latter were governed directly by the States-General (Staten-Generaal in Dutch), the federal government. The States-General were seated in The Hague and consisted of representatives of each of the seven provinces.

The provinces of the republic were, in official feudal order: the duchy of Guelders (Gelre in Dutch), the counties of Holland and Zeeland, the former bishopric of Utrecht, the lordship of Overijssel, and the free (i.e. never feudalised) provinces of Friesland and Groningen. In fact there was an eighth province, the lordship of Drenthe, but this area was so poor it was exempt from paying confederal taxes and, as a corollary, was denied representation in the States-General. Each province was governed by the Provincial States, the main executive official (though not the official head of state) was a raadspensionaris. In times of war, the stadtholder (stadhouder in Dutch), who commanded the army, would have more power than the raadspensionaris. In theory the stadtholders were freely appointed by and subordinate to the states of each province. However in practice the princes of Orange-Nassau, beginning with William the Silent, were always chosen as stadtholders of most of the provinces. Zeeland and usually Utrecht had the same stadtholder as Holland. There was a constant power struggle between the Orangists, who supported the stadtholders and specifically the House of Orange-Nassau, and the Republicans, who supported the States-General and hoped to replace the semi-hereditary nature of the stadtholdership with a true republican structure.

After the Peace of Westphalia several border territories were assigned to the United Provinces. They were federally-governed Generality Lands (Generaliteitslanden). They were Staats-Brabant (present North Brabant), Staats-Vlaanderen (present Zeeuws-Vlaanderen), Staats-Limburg (around Maastricht) and Staats-Oppergelre (around Venlo, after 1715).

The States-General of the United Provinces were in control of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the Dutch West India Company (WIC), although some shipping expeditions were initiated by some of the provinces, mostly Holland and/or Zeeland.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution were influenced by the Constitution of the Republic of the United Provinces.[4] In addition, the Act of Abjuration, essentially the declaration of independence of the United Provinces, is strikingly similar to the later American Declaration of Independence,[5] though concrete evidence that the former directly influenced the latter is absent.

[edit] ReligionEdit

In the Union of Utrecht of January 20, 1579, inhabitants of Holland and Zeeland were granted freedom of religion. Every other province had the freedom to regulate the religious question as it wished, although the Union stated every person should be free in the choice of his personal religion and no person should be prosecuted based on his or her religious choice.[6] William of Orange had been a strong supporter of public as well as personal freedom of religion and hoped to unite protestants and catholics in the new union, and for him the Union was a defeat. In practice in all provinces catholic services were quickly forbidden and the Reformed Church became the "public" or "privileged" church in the Republic.[7]

During the Republic the only church which was allowed to hold public service was the Reformed Church. To hold any public office in the Republic, people had to conform to the Reformed Church and take an oath to this matter. In how far services of different religions or denominations were persecuted, depended much on the time period and the regents of a certain city or region. In the beginning this was especially focused on Roman Catholics, being the religion of the enemy. In Leiden for instance, in the 17th century people opening their homes to services could be fined 200 guilders (a years wage for a skilled tradesman) and banned from the city[8] Throughout this, however, personal freedom of religion did always exist, and led to - along with economic reasons - large immigration of religious refugees from other parts of Europe.[7]

In the first years of the republic, controversy arose within the Reformed Church, mainly around the subject of predestination. This has become know as the struggle between Arminianism and Gomarism, or between Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants. The Synod of Dort in 1618, tackled this issues, which led to the banning of the Remonstrant faith.

After the end of the 17th century the situation changed from more or less active persecution of religious services to a state of restricted toleration of other religions, as long as it took place secretly in non-recognizable churches.

[edit] DeclineEdit

Long-term rivalry between the two main factions in Dutch society, the Staatsgezinden (Republicans) and the Prinsgezinden (Royalists or Orangists), sapped the strength and unity of the country. Johan de Witt and the Republicans did reign supreme for a time at the middle of the 17th century (the First Stadtholderless Period) until his overthrow and murder in 1672. Subsequently, William III of Orange became stadtholder. After a stadtholderless era of 22 years and the Orangists regained power, his first problem was to survive the Franco-Dutch War (which was related to the Third Anglo-Dutch war), when France, England, Münster and Cologne united against his country.

Wars to contain the expansionist policies of France in various coalitions after the Glorious Revolution, mostly including England, burdened the republic with huge debts, although little of the fighting after 1673 took place on its own territory. After William III's death in 1702 the Second Stadtholderless Period was inaugurated. The end of the War of Spanish Succession in 1713 marked the end of the republic as a major military power.

Fierce competition for trade and colonies, especially from England, furthered the economic downturn of the country. The three Anglo-Dutch Wars and the rise of mercantilism had a negative effect on Dutch shipping and commerce.

The establishment of the Bank of England, at a time when the Dutch were fighting against the French on Dutch soil, meant that money could be borrowed from London at lower interest rates[citation needed], and at greater reliability and protection. Gradually, London displaced Amsterdam as the leading European financial center.

[edit] See alsoEdit

[edit] ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ In full Concordia res parvae crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur. Hubert de Vries, Wapens van de Nederlanden. De historische ontwikkeling van de heraldische symbolen van Nederland, België, hun provincies en Luxemburg. Uitgeverij Jan Mets, Amsterdam, 1995, p. 31–32.
  2. ^ Pieter Geyl, History of the Dutch-Speaking Peoples, 1555-1648. Phoenix Press, 2001, p. 55.
  3. ^ Arrighi, G., (2002), The Long Twentieth Century, (London, New York: Verso), p.47
  4. ^ Alexander Hamilton, James Madison (1787-12-11). Federalist Papers no. 20. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
  5. ^ Barbara Wolff (1998-06-29). "Was Declaration of Independence inspired by Dutch?". University of Wisconsin–Madison. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  6. ^ Text of Union of Utrecht
  7. ^ a b Israël, J.I. The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806 Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995
  8. ^ van Maanen, Leiden, De Geschiedenis van een Hollandse Stad, 1574-1795, Stichitng Geschiedschrijving Leiden, 2003

[edit] Further readingEdit

  • Israël, J.I. The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806 Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995
  • Reynolds, Clark G. Navies in History. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998
  • Schama, Simon The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. New York: Random House USA, 1988
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