Dutch Republic

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"United Netherlands" redirects here. For other uses, see United Netherlands (disambiguation).
Republic of the Seven United Netherlands
Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden

1581–1795
Flag Coat of arms
Motto
Concordia res parvae crescunt[1]
(Latin: Small things grow by concord)
Anthem
Wilhelmus van Nassouwe
"William of Nassau"
Territory of the Dutch Republic in 1789
Capital de facto The Hague (the seat of government), or Amsterdam, (cultural, financial centre and largest city)
Languages Dutch
Religion Protestant, Catholic, Judaism
Government Confederal republic
Stadtholder
 -  1581–1584 William I (first)
 -  1751–1795 William V (last)
Grand Pensionary
 -  1581–1585 Paulus Buys (first)
 -  1787–1795 Laurens Pieter (last)
Legislature States General
 -  State Council Council of State
Historical era Medieval / Early modern
 -  Eighty Years' War 1568–1648
 -  Act of Abjuration 26 July 1581
 -  Franco-Dutch War 1672–1678
 -  Anglo-Dutch War 1780–1784
 -  Treaty of Paris 20 May 1784
 -  Flanders Campaign 1793–1795
 -  Batavian Revolution 18 January 1795
Population
 -  1795 est. 1,880,500[2] 
Currency Rijksdaalder
Today part of  Netherlands
 Belgium
History of the Low Countries
Frisii Belgae
Cana-
nefates
[3]
Chamavi, Tubanti[4] Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Gallia Belgica (55 BC – 5th c. AD)
Salian Franks Batavii[5]
unpopulated
(4th–5th c.)
Saxons Salian Franks[6]
(4th–5th c.)
Frisian Kingdom
(6th c.–734)
Frankish Kingdom (481–843)Carolingian Empire (800–843)
Austrasia (511–687)
Middle Francia (843–855) West
Francia

(843–)
Kingdom of Lotharingia[7] (855– 959)
Duchy of Lower Lorraine[8] (959–)
Frisia Arms of Flanders.svg

Friesland (kleine wapen).svg
Frisian
Free-
dom
[9]
(11–16th
century)
Counts of Holland Arms.svg
County of
Holland
[10]
(880–1432)
Utrecht - coat of arms.png
Bishopric of
Utrecht
[11]
(695–1456)
Royal Arms of Belgium.svg
Duchy of
Brabant
[12]
(1183–1430)
Guelders-Jülich Arms.svg
Duchy of
Guelders
[13]
(1046–1543)
County of
Flanders
[14]
(862–1384)
Hainaut Modern Arms.svg
County of
Hainaut

(1071–1432)
Arms of Namur.svg
County of
Namur

(981–1421)
Armoiries Principauté de Liège.svg
P.-Bish.
of Liège

[15]
(980–1794)
Arms of Luxembourg.svg
Duchy of
Luxem-
bourg

(1059–1443)
  Flag of the Low Countries.svg
Burgundian Netherlands (1384–1482)
Flag of the Low Countries.svg
Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1795)
(Seventeen Provinces after 1543)[16]
 
Statenvlag.svg
Dutch Republic
(Seven United Netherlands)
(1581–1795)
Flag of the Low Countries.svg
Spanish Netherlands
(1556–1714)
 
  Austrian Low Countries Flag.svg
Austrian Netherlands
(1714–1795)
  Flag of the Brabantine Revolution.svg
United States of Belgium
(1790)
LuikVlag.svg
R. Liège
(1789–'91)
     
Flag of the Batavian Republic.svg
Batavian Republic (1795–1806)
Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810)
Flag of France.svg
part of French First Republic (1795–1804)
part of First French Empire (1804–1815)
   
Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Princip. of the Netherlands (1813–1815)
 
United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–1830)


Kingdom of the Netherlands (1839–)
Flag of Belgium.svg
Kingdom of Belgium (1830–)
Flag of Luxembourg.svg
Gr D. L.
(1839–)
Gr D. of
Luxem-
bourg

(1890–)

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

History[edit]

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 control in 1581, see Spanish Netherlands.

Until the 16th century, the Low Countries–roughly now corresponding to Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg–consisted of a number of duchies, counties and bishoprics, almost all of which were under the supremacy of the Holy Roman Empire, with the exception of the county of Flanders which was under the Kingdom of France.

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.[17] This was the start of the Eighty Years' War.

In 1579 a number of the northern provinces of the Low Countries 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 (10 July 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 unsuccessful and in 1588 the provinces became a confederacy. 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 Peace of Westphalia in 1648.

The Republic of the United Provinces lasted until a series of republican revolutions in 1783-1795 created the Batavian Republic. During this period, republican forces took several major cities of the Netherlands. After initially fleeing, the monarchist forces came back with British, Austrian, and Prussian troops and retook the Netherlands. The republican forces fled to France, but then successfully re-invaded alongside the army of the French republic. After the French Republic became the French Empire under Napoleon, the Batavian Republic was 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" were used. In 1815 it was rejoined with the Austrian Netherlands, Luxembourg and Liège (the 'Southern provinces') to become the Kingdom of the Netherlands, informally known as the Kingdom of the United Netherlands, to create a strong buffer state north of France. After Belgium and Luxembourg became independent, the state became unequivocally known as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as it remains today.

Economic perspective[edit]

Dutch East-India trading ship 1600
Onrust Island near Batavia, 1699

During the Dutch Golden Age in the late 16th century onward, the Dutch Republic 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.

Courtyard of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, 1653

The free trade spirit of the time received a strong augmentation through the development of a modern, effective stock market in the Low Countries.[18] 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 and fastest navies in the world, allowing for their varied conquests including breaking the Portuguese sphere of influence on the Indian Ocean and in the Orient, as well as a lucrative slave trade from Africa and the Pacific.

Politics[edit]

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. The 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:

  1. The Duchy of Guelders (Gelre in Dutch)
  2. The County of Holland
  3. The County of Zeeland
  4. The former Bishopric of Utrecht
  5. The Lordship of Overijssel
  6. The Lordship of Frisia
  7. The Lordship of Groningen and Ommelanden.

In fact, there was an eighth province, the County of Drenthe, but this area was so poor it was exempt from paying federal taxes and as a consequence 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 of the House 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 princes of Orange, and the Republicans, who supported the States General and hoped to replace the semi-hereditary nature of the stadtholdership with a true republican structure. Stadholder in Dutch means 'city-holder'.

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), but some shipping expeditions were initiated by some of the provinces, mostly Holland and/or Zeeland.

The framers of the US Constitution were influenced by the Constitution of the Republic of the United Provinces, as Federalist No. 20, by James Madison, shows.[19] Such influence appears, however, to have been of a negative nature, as Madison describes the Dutch confederacy as exhibiting "Imbecility in the government; discord among the provinces; foreign influence and indignities; a precarious existence in peace, and peculiar calamities from war." Apart from this, the American Declaration of Independence is similar to the Act of Abjuration, essentially the declaration of independence of the United Provinces,[20] but concrete evidence that the former directly influenced the latter is absent.

Religion[edit]

Interior of the Oude Kerk at Delft during a Sermon, 1651

In the Union of Utrecht of 20 January 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 personal religion and that no person should be prosecuted based on religious choice.[21] William of Orange had been a strong supporter of public and 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.[22]

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.[23] Throughout this, however, personal freedom of religion existed and was one factor, along with economic reasons – in causing large immigration of religious refugees from other parts of Europe.[22]

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. In 1618 the Synod of Dort 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 private churches.

Decline[edit]

  • 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, the Orangists regained power, and 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 this 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ In full oncordia 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. ^ Demographics of the Netherlands, Jan Lahmeyer. Retrieved on 10 February 2014.
  3. ^ Roman foederati
  4. ^ The Chamavi merged into the confederation of the Franks; the Tubanti merged into the confederation of the Saxons.
  5. ^ Roman foederati
  6. ^ Roman foederati
  7. ^ Part of East Francia after 939, divided in Upper Lorraine (as part of West Francia) and Lower Lorraine (as part of East Francia) in 959.
  8. ^ Lower Lorraine — also referred to as Lothier — disintegrated into several smaller independent territories and only the title of a "Duke of Lothier" remained, held by Brabant.
  9. ^ Lordship of Frisia and Lordship of Groningen (including the Ommelanden) after 1524 and 1536 respectively.
  10. ^ Including County of Zeeland, that was ruled by neighboring County of Holland and County of Flanders (until 1432).
  11. ^ Utrecht included Lordship of Overijssel (until 1528), County of Drenthe (until 1528) and County of Zutphen (until 1182).
  12. ^ Duchy of Brabant included since 1288 also the Duchy of Limburg (now part of the Belgian Province of Liège) and the "Overmaas" lands Dalhem, Valkenburg and Herzogenrath (now part of the Dutch Province of Limburg).
  13. ^ The county, later duchy, of Guelders consisted of four quarters, as they were separated by rivers: situated upstream Upper Quarter (the present day northern half of the Dutch province of Limburg), spatially separated from the three downstream Lower Quarters: County of Zutphen (after 1182), Veluwe Quarter and Nijmegen Quarter. The three lower quarters emerged from the historic gau Hamaland, and formed the present day province of Gelderland. Guelders did not include the Cleves enclave Huissen and the independent counties of Buren and Culemborg, that were much later seceded to the province of Gelderland.
  14. ^ Including County of Artois (part of Flanders until 1237) and Tournaisis.
  15. ^ Throughout the Middle Ages, the bishopric was further expanded with the Duchy of Bouillon in 1096 (ceded to France in 1678), the acquisition of the county of Loon in 1366 and the county of Horne in 1568. The Lordship of Mechelen was also part of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.
  16. ^ The name Seventeen Provinces came in use after the Habsburg emperor Charles V had re-acquired the Duchy of Guelders, and an continuous territory arose.
  17. ^ Pieter Geyl, History of the Dutch-Speaking Peoples, 1555–1648. Phoenix Press, 2001, p. 55.
  18. ^ Arrighi, G., (2002), The Long Twentieth Century, (London, New York: Verso), p.47
  19. ^ James Madison (11 December 1787). Fœderalist No. 20. 
  20. ^ Barbara Wolff (29 June 1998). "Was Declaration of Independence inspired by Dutch?". University of Wisconsin–Madison. Retrieved 14 December 2007. 
  21. ^ Text of Union of Utrecht
  22. ^ a b Israel, J.I. The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477–1806 Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995
  23. ^ van Maanen, R.C.J., Leiden: de geschiedenis van een Hollandse stad. II. 1574–1795, Stichitng Geschiedschrijving Leiden, 2003

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°05′N 4°18′E / 52.083°N 4.300°E / 52.083; 4.300