Dutch Republic


Dutch Republic
Republic of the Seven United Netherlands / Seven Provinces
Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden / Zeven Provinciën
Confederal Republic

 

1581–1795
 

Prinsenvlag Dutch Republic Lion
Motto
Concordia res parvae crescunt[1]
(Unity makes small things grow)
Provinces and Dependencies
Capital None

De facto The Hague (government seat)/ Amsterdam (cultural/financial centre/largest city)

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).

Contents

History

Until the 16th century, the Low Countries – roughly now corresponding to 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 Union of Utrecht is regarded as the foundation of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, which was not recognized by the Spanish Empire until the Twelve Years' Truce in 1609.

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.

Economic perspective

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

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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 Dutch Golden Age. The Dutch dominated world trade in the 17th century, conquering a vast colonial empire and operating the largest fleet of merchantmen of any nation. The County of Holland was the wealthiest and most urbanized region in the world.

The free trade spirit of the time received a strong augmentation through the development of a modern, effective stock market in the Low Countries.[3] The Netherlands has the oldest stock exchange in the world, founded in 1602 by the Dutch East India Company. While Rotterdam has the oldest bourse in the Netherlands, the world's first stock exchange — that of the Dutch East-India Company — went public in six different cities. Later, a court ruled that the company had to reside legally in a single city, so Amsterdam is recognized as the oldest such institution based on modern trading principles. While the banking system evolved in the Low Countries, it was quickly incorporated by the well-connected English, stimulating English economic output.

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

Politics

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, 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. Stadhouder in Dutch can be translated as city-holder, but can also be seen as place-holder, similar to the English word 'stead' and 'in stead of', since the House of Orange-Nassau was not the House of Holland (yet); they 'merely' occupied the highest legal level in the republic.

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.

Religion

In the Union of Utrecht of January 20, 1579, Holland and Zeeland were granted the right to accept only one religion (in practice Calvinism). 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, Catholic services in all provinces were quickly forbidden and the Reformed Church became the "public" or "privileged" church in the Republic.[7]

During the Republic, any person who wished to hold public office had to conform to the Reformed Church and take an oath to this effect. The extent to which different religions or denominations were persecuted depended much on the time period and regional or city leaders. In the beginning this was especially focused on Roman Catholics, being the religion of the enemy. In 17th-century Leiden, for instance, people opening their homes to services could be fined 200 guilders (a year's wage for a skilled tradesman) and banned from the city[8] Throughout this, however, personal freedom of religion did exist, and was one factor - along with economic reasons - in causing 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 known as the struggle between Arminianism and Gomarism, or between Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants. The Synod of Dort in 1618 tackled this issue, which led to the banning of the Remonstrant faith.

Beginning in the 18th 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 their services took place secretly in non-recognizable churches.

Decline

  • 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. The necessity to maintain a vast army against France meant that less money could be spent on the navy, weakening the Republic's power against England. 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.

See also

References

  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. http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext91/feder16.txt. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  5. ^ Barbara Wolff (1998-06-29). "Was Declaration of Independence inspired by Dutch?". University of Wisconsin–Madison. http://www.news.wisc.edu/3049. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  6. ^ http://nl.wikisource.org/wiki/Unie_van_Utrecht 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

Further reading

  • 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

Coordinates: 52°04′48″N 4°18′00″E / 52.08°N 4.3°E / 52.08; 4.3


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