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Dutch Hegemony Time line

April 6, 2014
William of Orange - great Dutch radical and patriot. Fought for the freedom of religion against the Spanish Inquisition. A master political tactician and profound democrat

William of Orange – great Dutch radical and patriot. Fought for the freedom of religion against the Spanish Inquisition. A master political tactician and profound democrat

Dutch Hegemony Time line

785 A.D. – Charlemagne conquers the lowlands and adds them to his European Empire. Situated in a region with rivers, lakes, wetlands and woods, what became the United Provinces (and later the Netherlands) was a difficult area both in which to live and to conquer. It was one of the last regions of Europe that the Romans conquered. It was only in the 1st century BC that the Roman Empire was able to conquer the southern regions (around Nijmegen). Its northern regions were not conquered, not even invaded. Under Roman tutilege, the region began to prosper.

800-1200 A.D. – Charlemagne’s empire collapsed – as series of small kingdoms – dukedoms take form – some with German other with French nobles in charge.

Economically already, it continued to prosper. As notes:

After the fall of the Charlemagne Empire (he died in 814) the Low Countries territory has been divided into several smaller states – ruled by dukes and counts. At the same time, already in the Middle Ages, a strong economical development made the Netherlands one of the richest areas in Europe. Agriculture along with crafts and commerce, rich towns and important trading links reaching as far as Asia and North Africa, transformed the Netherlands into the area where the feudal power has been limited, safety of movement and economical activity established, sustained growth possible.

1000 A.D. – major work begins on building dykes – land reclamation

1100 A.D. – work begins in the region around Amsterdam.

1100sTanchelyn preaches in Antwerp – attacking the authority of the Pope and all other ecclesiastics, scoffing at the ceremonies and sacraments of the Church. Motley considers him a usurper. All Antwerp was his harem; he levied vast sums upon his converts; he organizes an armed guard of 3000 followers, executing all who resisted his commands; followers “drank the water in which he bathed and treasured it; he announced his approaching marriage to the Virgin Mary and then ordered his supporters to pay for the wedding expenses and his wife’s dowry. He was assassinated in 1115 by an obscure priest.

1100s – A series of heresies follow – the doctrines of Walden, Waldeneses, Albigenes, Perfectionsts, Lollards, Poplicans, Arnaldists, Bohemian Brothers “waged perpetual but unequal warfare with the power and depravity of the Church.” Nowhere was the persecution of heretics more relentless than in the Netherlands. In spite of the intense repression against the heresy, Waldo translated the Bible into French and then it was translated to Dutch ending the papal monopoly on being able to read and interpret the Bible.

1217 – Middelburg Charter – due process for all. local charters establish the limits to which a noble can bring charges against, arrest citizens of towns. An attempt to limit arbitrary violence against townspeople from the crown. Includes the following: – sets up a series of laws for fighting, disputes, – insists that everyone from nobility to homeless must go before the law (courts called “schepens”) – people accused of crimes will be tried in the town where they are accused”

1275 – trade between England and Holland, which had proceeded for centuries was interrupted by a ten-year trade war in which both sides engaged in piracy against the merchant ships of the other. Trade with the Mediterranean organized largely through the city of Bruges.

1275 – formal date for founding of Amsterdam

1300 – Already at this early date, the Dutch were engaging in intensified agriculture.

1386-1389 – The Lowland cities “thus advancing, in wealth and importance were no longer satisfied with being governed according to the law, and began to participate, not only in their own but in the general government.” – Assemblies of provincial estates are formed made up of both nobility and merchant classes. Went on for the following century with the six chief cities of Holland (Amsterdam, Gouda, Leyden, Dort, Haarlem, Delft) having the right to send representatives to regional assembly. Same was true of Flanders – ie …beginning of a strong regional democracy…with elected representatives.

1400 (approximately) – The haringbuis – (herring fishing boat) first appears. “a fishing boat whose high length-to-breadth ratio offered greater maneuverability, seaworthiness and speed without great losses in cargo space.” Herring boats – early “factory ships” that could catch, process, salt fish on board removing several steps in the production process, permitting the Dutch to sell fresher herring (and other kinds of fish) than their many competitors.

1400s-1500s – 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 of the Kingdom of France.

1452 – Printing of the Gutenberg Bible. Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (c. 1398 – February 3, 1468) was a  Germanblacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe. His introduction of mechanical movable type printing to Europe started thePrinting Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important invention of the second millennium, the seminal event which ushered in the modern period of human history. It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses. This event would profoundly influence the birth of the Protestant Reformation.

1477 – Lady Mary of Burgundy marries Archduke Maximilian of Austria in August. The territories of the Netherlands become a part of the Hapsburg Empire through this marriage.

1500 – Michael Angelo was beginning his David and Copernicus was getting serious about astronomy; Amsterdam was both a lively shipping center and one of the most intensely Catholic cities in Europe.

1500 – What would become the United Provinces together had a population of about a million people.

1500 – 1700  – Dutch shipping dominated the world “carrying trade;” it grew tenfold during that period. As of 1585 , the Dutch owned three times the tonnage of the English, and more than the tonnage of England, France, Portugal, Spain and the Germanies combined. The percentage of Dutch built ships was even greater. Dutch shipping reached its heyday in fact, only in the second half of the seventeenth century, the Dutch having used the occasion of the English Civil War to establish “undisputed ascendancy in the world’s carrying trade.”

1516  – (or there abouts) The haringbuis (Herring fishing boats) add the use of a large dragnet for herring, first noted at Hoorn in West Friesland in this year. Not only did the Dutch dominate the North Sea herring fishery, known as “The Great Fishery” but, likewise, they dominated the Iceland cod fishery and the Spitzbergen wale fishery too.

1517 – Martin Luther pins his 95 Theses on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Thus begins the Protestant Reformation. In 1521 Luther is excommunicated.

1520s –  Charles V begins an inquisition against supporters of Protestantism in the Lowlands

1520 – Oct 7, The 1st public burning of books took place in Louvain, Netherlands, then a part of the Spanish Netherlands

1520 – The Anabaptists, Protestants who baptized believers only and not infants, grew as a movement in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. Some later emigrated to America and established themselves as the Amish of Lancaster, Pa.

1523 – Nov 30, Amsterdam banned the assembly of heretics; Hapsburg authorities are particularly ruthless in their efforts to suppress the rise of Protestant thought in the Low countries

1525 – John Pistorius – a former priest who rejected the Catholic Church’s Mass, married and became a baker, is sentenced to death and burnt at the stake in September.

1529-30 – In England, people start being burnt at the stake for heresy in the aftermath of the publication of the Tyndale Bible in 1526. Catholic officials, prominentlyThomas More,[14] charged that he had purposely mistranslated the ancient texts in order to promote anti-clericalism and heretical views,In particular they cited the terms “church”, “priest”, “do penance” and “charity”, which became in the Tyndale translation “congregation”, “senior” (changed to “elder” in the revised edition of 1534), “repent” and “love”, challenging key doctrines of the Roman Church. Betrayed to church officials in 1536, he was defrocked in an elaborate public ceremony and turned over to the civil authorities to be strangled to death and burned at the stake. His last words are said to have been, “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes.”

1533William of Orange born

1534 – “The Naked Truth” march through Amsterdam by Anabaptists…soon thereafter tortured and burnt at the stake by the Inquisition; Similar event happened the next year, 1535 with the fall of Munster and the end of the Anabaptist “moment” in the sun.

1534 – The Society of Jesus – otherwise known as the Jesuit order was formed by Ignatius of Loyola (born Íñigo López de Loyola), a Spaniard of Basque origin, and six other students at the University of ParisFrancisco Xavier from Navarre (modern Spain), Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, Nicolás Bobadilla from Spain, Peter Faber fromSavoy, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal. They met in Montmartre outside Paris, in a crypt beneath the church of Saint Denis, now Saint Pierre de Montmartre. Although not originally created to fight the Protestant reformation, they would soon become the storm troopers of the Catholic Church’s efforts to eliminate the new religion in Germany, the Spanish Netherlands and France

1536 –  Death of Erasmus; with his passing that strain which opposed religious intolerance, Catholic or Protestant, fades to be soon replaced by the severe religious factionalism of the Catholic Inquisition and Protestant Lutheran response.

1536-1538 – Great purge of the Catholic Church of England in the aftermath of Anne Boleyn’s beheading. Monasteries and friaries are seized, the property – great wealth – confiscated by the state to add to Henry’s treasury. The transfer of wealth and property give impetus to the development of capitalism in the country under Henry VIII’s successor, Elizabeth 1. A revolt against the religious reforms by conservative religious elements in England’s north is crushed. Catholicism in England would never recover. A possible Spanish naval assault by Charles V, King of Spain, from the Low Countries in 1539 never materializes as a result of quarrels between Spain and France. Dutch reformers would have a base of support, however unstable, which would see them through the worst of times. That England could challenge the Pope opened the way for others to do likewise

1540 – Ghent loses its charter and privileges; the laws and privileges of Ghent are annulled, a precursor of what will happen to other Dutch/Walloon towns under Hapsburg rule. Ghent rebels, the rebellion is put down and the ring leaders of the revolt are executed in May. Ghent is forced to pay tribute to Charles V. Thus began to process of taking away municipal charters under Hapsburg rule. Both Lutheran and more reformed forms of Protestantism appear to be contracting, the ranks of the reformers becoming more demoralized by the repression.

1546 –  Charles V intensifies his persecution of Protestantism in the Low Countries, with the flourishing Antwerp printing industry as its prime victim. Many of the Protestant victims move to England where they invigorate the English pro-Protestant press

1548 – 1563 The Council of Trent meets in Trent and Bologna in northern Italy. It is central feature of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, an attempt to respond to the Protestant Reformation. Catholic religious authority is re-enforced in the hands of the pope. By the end of the session some 270 bishops had attended, the vat majority of them Italian. No concessions on theological grounds whatsoever were offered to Protestants. The gulf between these two major branches of Christianity (the third branch being the Eastern Orthodox Church) is deepened; it becomes irreconcilable. The decisions of the Council of Trent will widen the antagonisms in the Spanish Netherlands between the Protestants in the North and the Catholics in the South.

1549 – In 1549 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which further unified the Seventeen Provinces under his rule. It centralized the Dutch provinces and towns and took away their hereditary rights.

1550s – the establishment of radical bases of reform beyond the reach of Hapsburgs repressive reach (Emden, London) keep the flame of religious reform alive in the Low Countries. The publication of radical literature from both places (Emden and London) is key. Dutch exile communities  in London’s Stranger Church (established by Jan Laski) and encouraged by the then Archbishop Cranmer in Kent.

1553 –  The death of Edward VI in England ushers in a more repressive Catholic interim period in England and force the Dutch reformers to hightail it back across the North Sea to the refuge of East Friesland, in the territory of Countess Anna’s realm. Overnight Emden becomes the “capitol” of the Dutch reform, – a major center of of evangelical printing. Between 1554 and 1569 some 230 separate titles came off the Emden presses. As a result, reform ideas spread to nearby West Friesland and Groningen – the outlying districts of Hapsburg rule (and from there south to the Dutch population centers)

1555 – Abdication of Charles V; Philip II comes to power. Treaty of Augsburg (also known as the Treaty of Passau) is signed. With it the permanent division of the Christian world was recognized between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Reform Movement although Reformed Protestants were offered no formal legal status, ushering in what is referred to as “The Second Reformation,” – the long struggle of the Reformed churches for recognition. With the Treaty of Augsburg, Charles V’s life long quest to unify Europe under the authority of the Vatican at Rome is abandoned

1555 – Gian Pietro Carafa is elected Pope Paul IV, founder of a new period of Inquisition from Rome. The Roman Inquisition first issued a general “Index of forbidden books for the whole Church.” The next year, even the independent Inquisition in Venice, always careful to keep papal power at bay, followed suit and on its own initiative it burned ten thousand books in March 1558. The works of Luther (of course), other Protestant thinkers and well as medical and scientific manuals were destroyed under his orders. The Pope’s new Index included all the works of Erasmus. Paul IV hatred of Protestant reformers extended to Jews as well. It is he who issued a canon that established the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, the Cum nimis absurdum. All Jews in Rome were forced to wear yellow hats and shawls. The Ghetto was locked at night and a curfew imposed

1557 – Spanish Hapsburgs declare bankruptcy (the first indication of growing decline). In the Spanish Netherlands Philip initiates a plan to reorganize the Catholic Church’s administrative structure, greatly increasing the numbers of dioceses fro four to fourteen, creating four bishoprics and three archbishoprics in an effort to counter and suppress the growing “heresy”. The plan is opposed by “all interested parties” in the Netherlands from the poorest to the most privileged. The Dutch nobility also opposed the appointment of the bishop of Arras, Antoine de Perronet, Sieur de Granvelle, better known simply as Cardinal Granvelle. There is great fear in the Netherlands that Granvelle’s appointment meant the extension of the Spanish Inquisition to the Dutch provinces, intensifying the local Dutch repressive apparatus. They are correct about that.

1558 – Queen Elizabeth I – easily one of the greatest of English royalty – comes to the English throne. The atmosphere immediately is more tolerant, open to the Dutch reformers who return to England in large numbers.

1558 –  Public Protestant demonstrations take place in Antwerp as reform elements come back into the open. Stimulated by higher taxes and by Philip II effort to remove local noble privileges won 70 years prior, the Dutch all round resistance begin to take shape. Whereas the French reform nobility are attempting to extend their privileges, the Dutch reform nobility are trying to preserve their earlier won rights. A national anti-Spanish occupation sentiment spreads through the Netherlands.

1559 – Philip II signs truce with France, the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, the secret clauses of which seal a French-Spanish united policy against Protestantism. According to Wallerstein (Modern World-System Vol 1) the treaty marks “a rough and unstable balance between the French monarchy and the Spanish branch of the house of Hapsburg, the two leviathans that still towered over all the other powers and whose long quarrel was now rather suspended than ended.” It will lead directly to the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands and St. Bartholomew Massacre in France. Then Philip II announces he is leaving the Low Countries: Beginning of an intensified Spanish Inquisition in the Low Countries. He never returns.

1559 –  William of Orange, who was distantly related to Philip II, is appointed stadhouder in three Low Country provinces.

1561 –  Dutch fears of the extension of the Spanish Inquisition to the Netherlands are intensified as Philip II sends a Spanish military administrator, Alonso del Canto, to reinforce the work of the overworked local inquisitors in seeking out Spanish heretics fleeing the intensified persecution back home. Local notables who had backed the work of the Inquisitions for decades now pointedly withdrew their active support.

1562 – order breaks down in the Low Countries as the reform movement(s) spread to the main Dutch population centers. Pieter Titelmans, the Inquisition’s chief inquisitor in the Netherlands, writes in frustration that “In the countryside and villages…the poor simple people have been misled by these people who can go back and forth to England and other places.” (MacCulloch pps 300-301)

1564 – Failing to quell the growing opposition, Cardinal Granville – executor of the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands is relieved of his post. A temporary victory for the Dutch.

1566 – The “Compromise” Document put together by the lower nobles and some bourgeois elements – some 2000 signed it – all agree to oppose the Inquisition in the Low Countries. By then, according to Motley by then some 50,000 people in the region had been burnt to death since 1559.

1566 – 1572 – The first Dutch uprising in both the north and south Netherlands and its suppression


The “Iconoclastic Fury”…Dutch grassroots response to the Spanish Inquisition – mass destruction of Catholic Churches…

1566 – April 9 – Beggars’ Dinner, mass Protestant outside rallies; Outbreak of the “Iconoclastic Fury”, known in Dutch as “the Beeldenstorm” – the mass desecration of Catholic Churches in response to the excesses of the Inquisition. It is often compared with the storming of the Bastille and the street riots in Petrograd in 1917

1566-7 – Two waves of mass repression against the Protestants. Hundreds of thousands tortured and executed

1567 – In August, 1567 the Duke of Alba, with a highly trained army of 12,000 sets up a military occupation of the Lowlands and two thousand prostitutes to “service” them . Establishment of the “Council of Troubles” – or “Blood Council” as it came to be known. William of Orange is forced into the opposition. He concludes an alliance with with French Hugueot leaders Coligny and the prince of Conde; his own religious preferences were Protestant but not strictly Reformed. Elizabethan England feels threatened by the presence of such a large Spanish military force so close to the English coast.

1568  – Antwerp’s population tops at around 100,000. From this point on as a result of war, repression, the population will over the next forty years take a terrible dive. In response to the continued repression a great wave of refugees flood out of the Netherlands; perhaps as many as 100,000 left, many of them moving northward to Emden or across the North Sea once again to London. This was one of the greatest dispersals so far of the many movements of people caused by the Reformation and it was probably permanent (MacCulloch – p.303). But now the split between the Catholic and Protestant realms of Europe has become a permanent fissure; the rebellion with explode once again in the Spanish Netherlands four years later, in 1572.

1568 – 1648 – The “official dates” of the Eighty Years’ War. It was Spain’s attempt to deny the United Provinces their independence.It ended with the Peace of Münster when Spain finally recognized the United Provinces.

1568 – The execution of Counts Egmond and Horn. On June 5 of that year, they are executed in a plan conceived by Philip II, executed by the Duke of Alva. Thousands once again flee the Netherlands in the face of Alva’s fierce repression.

1571 –  The Synod of Emden meets in October of that year. It was a gathering of 29 exiled Calvinist Church leaders (Ministers and Authors) who were to become the founders of the Dutch Reformed Church. It established the rules and doctrines of the Dutch Reformed Church. Coming after the defeats and disasters suffered at the hands of the Duke of Alva, these exiled Church leaders decide that the Dutch Reform Church would decidedly ally itself with Geneva and Calvinism. All ministers, it was decided must be prepared to subscribe to the 1562 Belgic Confession, and Church order would be presbyterian, in which all ministers and elders would have an equal voice.

1572 – 1576 – The second uprising (more “Protestant”) of only Holland and Zeeland in the north ending in the Pacification of Ghent. Southern Provinces suffer much heavier population losses than the North. Among the latter, Holland and Zeeland in particular, well entrenched behind strong lines of defense, came to enjoy virtual freedom from devastation and slaughter after 1576

1572 – On April 1, “Sea Beggars” under the leadership of Dutch pirate de la Marck seize the Dutch port town of Brill where they rounded up and executed 19 Catholic priests. In its wake much of norhtern Netherlands rose in rebellion against Alva, but the duke’s continued cruelty only recruited more rebels. It marked a turn in the Dutch war against Spanish control. Realizing that Alva’s repressive policies were not working, Philip II recalled him to Madrid, but now the Protestant revolution against Spain was renewed with new vigor and would never vacillate again. The Spaniards now found themselves in a war on a global scale that would result in their permanent loss of the northern half of the Low Countries twenty years later.

1572St. Bartholomew Day Massacre. Although the exact number of casualties will never be known – some estimates suggest between August 23-25 of that year somewhere between 25,000 and 100,000 French Protestants were slaughtered by Charles IX egged on by his mama, Catherine de Medici – for three days the most savage killings and mutilations of Protestants took place in Paris. This was followed by similar acts of state directed Catholic barbarism throughout France. In France, while the Protestants would somewhat regroup, the fact of the matter is, that they would never fully recover and over time (the next 100 years) their once powerful base would erode, especially in Normandy where it had been particularly active. The massacre’s impact would have reverberations throughout Europe, marking the deepening of the Catholic-Protestant divide that would never be breached. This was also a blow to the Dutch Protestant cause…as France had offered much material support which evaporated over night.

1572 – Haarlem holds out against Alva for six months before it falls; Naaden, Zütphen fall the same year to Alva; the entire populations of all towns are massacred.

1572 – 1579A Spanish Fury was a vindictive or rampant bloody pillage of cities in the Low Countries by Spanish regular or mutinous troops that occurred in the years 1572–1579 during the Dutch Revolt. The most famous ‘Spanish Fury’ was the sack of Antwerp in 1576. Sometimes this singular expression refers to the entire mutinous campaign of 1576, to the city punishments of 1572.

1573 – December 18 – The Duke of Alva leaves the Netherlands, never to return. Number of casualties of his six-year rule will never be known – probably in the hundreds of thousands

1574 – At the end of the year, with the Duke of Palma now leading Philip II’s forces, Ghent capitulates to Spain and with it went the hope of maintaining the northern and southern Netherlands into one unit. Antwerp and Bruxelles will follow suit in 1575.

1575 – 1675  – During this century the United Provinces excelled in every industrial field and had no effective competition

1575 – Leiden University (DutchUniversiteit Leiden), located in the city of Leiden, is the oldest university in the Netherlands. The university was founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange, leader of the Dutch Revolt in the Eighty Years’ War. The Dutch Royal Family and Leiden University still have a close relationship; Queens Juliana and Beatrix and King Willem-Alexander are all former students. Leiden had been under siege by Spanish forces for more than a year, but managed to hold out until help came (in the form of the Sea Beggars) to lift the siege. 

1575 – Philip II declares bankruptcy, unable to adequately fund his troops and military operations against the United provinces

1576The Sacking of Antwerp – On 4 November 1576, mutinying Spanish tercios began the sack of Antwerp, leading to three days of horror among the population of the city, which was the cultural, economic and financial center of the Netherlands. The savagery of the sack led the provinces of the Low Countries to unite against the Spanish crown. The devastation also caused Antwerp’s decline as the leading city in the region and paved the way for Amsterdam’s rise.

1576 – The Pacification of Ghent – This was an agreement, that unfortunately soon unraveled – to respect religious tolerance especially of the Netherlands’ Catholic and Protestant communities. Crafted in large measure by William of Orange it was an attempt to unify the religious factions against Spanish tyranny. Had it succeeded, the Netherlands and Belgium would be one country and their combined weight in European history would have been considerably greater.

An allegory of th Pacification of Ghent – 1577 attempt at religious peace between Dutch Catholics and Protestants

An allegory of th Pacification of Ghent – 1577 attempt at religious peace between Dutch Catholics and Protestants

1577 – 1579 – A radical uprising in the southern Netherlands.

1578  – Protestant Revolt in Ghent. Protestants in Ghent rise up against Catholics, turning their wrath against Catholic churches which they destroy and desecrate. “They rose in wrath against the Catholics.”

1579 – 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 defense against the Spanish army. The country is divided into two from 1579 on (United Provinces in the North; a loyalist regime – to Spain – in the south).

1579  – Treaty of Arras. Philip II counters the Union of Utrecht with this treaty meant to bind the southern provinces to Spain and to separate them permanently from separatist movement in Holland and Zeeland.

1580 – Dutch denied access to the Lisbon spice market which was under Spanish control after the union of the Iberian crowns.

1581 – This was followed in 1581 by the Act of Abjuration, the declaration of independence of the provinces from Philip II

1584 – William of Orange assassinated in Delft by Balthazar Gérard, a Frenchman, Jesuit priest, sympathetic to Philip II. The Vatican promised Gérard that  a choir of angels would accompany him to Heaven where he would be offered a seat of  honor, placed at the right hand of Jesus Christ and Mary, the Blessed Virgin. Instead, Gérard was caught before he could flee Delft, and imprisoned. He was tortured before his trial on 13 July, where he was sentenced to be brutally – even by the standards of that time – killed. The magistrates decreed that the right hand of Gérard should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disemboweled alive, that his heart should be torn from his bosom and flung in his face, and that, finally, his head should be cut off.

1584  – Fall of Ghent to Palma shortly after William of Orange’s death. He understood that if Ghent went to Spain that the gulf between the “Celtic-Catholic and “Flemish-Calvinist” Netherlands could hardly be bridged. Ghent capitulated to Spain although religious liberty was not granted by Philip II. Protestants there were given two years to leave and they do so. A city of the grandeur of Paris at the time, it lost its splendor and never recovered. Brussels and Antwerp will experience the same fate the next year, 1585.

1584 – Treaty of Joinville. The Treaty of Joinville was signed in secret in December 31, 1584 by the French Catholic League, led by France’s first family of Catholic nobles, the Guises, and Habsburg Spain. In this treaty, Philip II, King of Spain, agreed to finance the Catholic League. The aim of the treaty was to form a Catholic alliance against Protestant forces, notably Elizabeth I of England, in response to the potential succession to the French throne of Henry IV of Navarre, at this point a Protestant. In reality, there was little concerted effort on the part of either signatory to act against Elizabeth, as the Catholic League’s position in France deteriorated as Henry IV gained support. However, Elizabeth was very disturbed by the nightmare scenario of a Catholic alliance between France and Spain against England, even if the prospect of which had been remote given the prolonged Habsburg-Valois conflict. She, for the first time, endorsed direct military intervention in the Spanish Netherlands. This Spanish territory was in the process of an uprising against Spanish rule; the Spanish response was a crackdown under a hard-line military governor, the Duke of Parma. Elizabeth’s decision represented a complete reversal of her previous policy, which was not to support rebels rebelling against legitimate authority. Since, in turn, she might have become vulnerable to revolts from English Catholics, the new policy illustrated just how much the Treaty of Joinville alarmed her. As a direct consequence, Elizabeth signed the Treaty of Nonsuch with the United Provinces in 1585, financing an expedition to the Netherlands, led by Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester of between seven and eight thousand soldiers. This was the catalyst for the war between England and Spain which climaxed in the launch of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

1585  – In an attempt to deny Henry of Navarre the French throne, a  Civil War in France over the succession begins. It starts with a call to intensity the Inquisition there and to deny any “heretics” (ie, Protestants) the right to rule the country

1585 – The Treaty of Nonsuch is signed; Elizabeth I agreed to supply 6,400 foot soldiers and 1,000 cavalry, initially intended as a way of lifting the Siege of Antwerp (1584-1585), together with an annual subsidy of 600,000 florins a year  – about a quarter of the annual cost of the revolt. As a surety for this assistance, the Dutch were to hand over Brill and Flushing to England. These she would garrison at her own expense. The treaty granted Elizabeth the right to appoint two councilors to the council of state of the United ProvincesPhilip II took the treaty as a declaration of war against him by Elizabeth. Three years later he launched the Spanish Armada in an attempt to invade and conquer England. The resources spent by Philip on the Armada (10 million ducats) undoubtedly diverted significant resources from fighting the Dutch revolt at the time. Around 110 million ducats were spent on the partially successful campaign against the resurgent revolt.

The surety provoked the objection of Zeeland, which was to lose the most by this measure. Elizabeth rejected the title of Governor General of the Provinces offered to her in the treaty. When the head of the English troops in the Netherlands, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, did accept this title, Elizabeth considered it outrageous.

1585 – On August 17 Antwerp surrenders to the Duke of Palma and returns to French control. The Zeelanders and  Hollanders organize a naval blockade. The Scheldt River trade closes down, eliminating Antwerp as the main maritime port in N. Europe. The world spice trade is transferred from Antwerp north to Amsterdam.

1585 – Dutch put an embargo and general prohibition on trade with Antwerp to weaken the Spanish ability to launch military offenses against their positions. There is a formal Dutch and English prohibition on trade with Antwerp but it resulted in opening of a vibrant black market trade which could not be stopped. Spain retaliated by placing an embargo on Dutch ships.

1586 – On January 1 Robert Dudley – First Earl of Leicester offered William of Orange’s position as governor-general of the United Provinces. It was a Dutch effort to place the Dutch states under the direct authority of Queen Elizabeth but it did not work because Elizabeth had no wish of antagonizing Philip II of Spain, the Dutch arch-enemy. His effort to dominate Dutch politics and assume dictatorial powers fails as he is successfully opposed by the political acumen of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

1587 Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, is executed on February 8. In revenge, Philip II prepares for a major invasion of England to overthrow Elizabeth I and Protestantism there.

1587 – Leicester leaves the Netherlands, tail between his legs. The sovereignty of the Dutch states is declared in “The Short Presentation” (in Dutch, Corte Verthoning). Along with the Treaty of Utrecht it became the Magna Carta of the Dutch mercantile republic. It establishes the primacy and sovereignty of Holland among the Dutch states.

1588The defeat of the Spanish Armada. The decisive naval battle took place off the coast of Gravelines, in the United Provinces, on July 29 of that year. Half of the original Armada – a fleet consisting  130 ships carrying 2,500 guns, 8,000 seamen, and almost 20,000 soldiers – was lost and some 15,000 men had perished. In the end, on 67 Spanish ships and fewer than 10,000 men survived. It was a decisive victory for England, saved the crown of Queen Elizabeth of England, strengthened the position of the Dutch rebels in the United Provinces and the Protestant reformers in France.

The Spanish and Portuguese had a monopoly of the East Indies spice trade until destruction of the Spanish Aramada in 1588, which permitted the British and Dutch to seek their share of this wealthy import business.

1588 –  in December of this year, two of the three Guise brothers in France are murdered at Blois, severely weakening the Catholic League and giving an opening for Henry IV to assume the crown of France.

1589 – Breda is re-captured by the Dutch. “It was the first Netherlands town to be captured from Spain since 1580, and the first Catholic town to fall into the hands of the reformed Netherland.” (den Tex. Vol 1., p194)

1589  – On August 2, Henry of Navarre becomes king of France, changing the balance of power in Europe. Now Spain shifts its military attention from the Netherlands to France, giving a measure of relief to the Netherlands.

1589 – 1595  – with the help of both France and Great Britain, the Dutch begin offensive operations; by 1595, the Spanish are driven south beyond the main rivers of the Netherlands.

1619 - Beheading of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, one of the United Provinces most esteemed politicians

1619 – Beheading of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, one of the United Provinces most esteemed politicians

1590 – 1595 – Amsterdam finances several voyages north and east through the Bering Sea to try to establish a northeast passage to Asia. The effort failed.

1590 – For the first time Dutch ships (Holland merchantmen) ventured to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar and to enter the Mediterranean. This was a beginning of an enormous economic expansion. Stimulated by the overseas trade and the money it brought into the country, activity and prosperity increased by leaps and bounds on all sides in the Northern Netherlands.

The Dutch maritime entry into the Mediterranean was a result of a grain crisis in that region. Venice, among others, had been able to satisfy its grain (mostly wheat) needs from the rest of the Mediterranean region, mostly different parts of the Ottoman Empire (Syria, Egypt) as well as Sicily and N. Africa. A combination of factors – population growth, land exhaustion resulted in an increasing structural shortage of grains that was filled by Dutch controlled Baltic trade which took wheat from places like Poland and Russia, stored it an entrepots in Amsterdam and transported it s. into the Mediterranean regions, a part of the general shift of the global economy away from using the Middle East as a trade middleman between E. Asia and Europe. Supplying the Mediterranean with grain was a fundamental part of the mix.

1590 – 1670  – described (Wallerstein) as the “Dutch agricultural century” as compared with the European agriculture at the time.

1592 – Cornelis de Houtman was sent on his mission to the Indies.

1592 – on December 2 of that year the, Alexander Farnese, the Duke of Palma, the United Provinces’ most effective adversary, dies. Among his other victories for Philip II, was the surrender of Antwerp in 1585 to his forces, which effectively placed all of the southern (Spanish) Netherlands under Philip II’s control and led to the permanent division of the Netherlands into what would later by the Netherlands and Belgium. But he failed to reconquer Holland and Zeeland.

1592  – In this year, just when the transition of the Untied Province to the status of world power began, the first Arminian controversy broke out. In the high days of Protestant theology when all was grace and all was salvation, Jacobus Arminius was to grasp the most nettlesome branch of the Calvinist logic, the paralogic or psycho-logic of predestination, the doctrine of positive reprobation. Arminius rejected the view that grace is salvation, a view espoused by his chief opponent, Francois Gomar. He proposed as an alternative that grace is the indispensable prerequisite for salvation, the necessary instrument of salvation.

1594Compagnie Van Verre is formed (The Company of Trade With Distant Lands)

1595 – Compagnie Van Verre organizes a four ship fleet for the Orient. It arrives near Jakarta on July 22, 1596. Cornelis de Houtman makes a treaty of alliance with the sultan of Bantam. It is the beginning of the Dutch usurpation of Portuguese control of the East Indies trade.

1595 – Dutch ships begin visiting the harbors of the Greater Antilles.

1596  – Philip II goes bankrupt again 1596 – Joint English-Dutch naval attack on Spain

1598 Treat of Vervins signed between Henry IV of France and Philip II. Henry had declared war on Spain in 1595 and had recently promulgated the Edict of Nantes, on 13 April. The Edict and this treaty brought to an effective end the Wars of Religion in France, which had spread to a conflict European-wide. By its terms, Philip recognized the formerly Protestant Henry as King of France and withdrew his forces from French territory, depriving the remnants of the Catholic League of their support.In retrospect, some historians see this as the final defeat of Philip II, who had furthered dynastic causes through championing ultra-Catholic principles, and a sign of the long downfall of Hapsburg Spain and the gradual rise in European hegemony of France during the ensuing Grand Siècle. 

1598 – Just prior to his death, now that the military situation in the Spanish Netherlands (essentially modern Belgium) quieted down, Philip II grants joint sovereign of his prosperous, but war-devastated colony to his favorite daughter, Isabel and her husband, Albrecht (Albert) son of Austrian Hapsburg Holy Roman emperor Maximilian II. Over three decades of their careful guidance as archdukes, and with a treaty at last concluded with the United Provinces in 1610, the southern regions of the Spanish Netherlands began to stabilize and to prosper once more. The former humanist traditions of Erasmus, evaporated in the fury of religious warfare are re instituted. A period of rebuilding and political tolerance – under the aegis of these Catholic monarchs – a kind of liberal interim – follows. The reign of Albert and Isabella is considered the Golden Age of the Spanish Netherlands. It is during this time that the Spanish Netherlands established a clear and separate political identity from the United Provinces. As a result, the United Provinces separate from the Spanish Netherlands. The two would never, until today, reunite politically. The irony of the situation is that the rebellion and Protestant movement began in the South, which would remain under Spanish control while the North would separate into what today is the Netherlands.

1598 Death of Philip II. He his succeeded by his son – Philip III.

1598  – An attempted reunification of the north and south Netherlands fails

1598 – Compagnie Van Verre dissolved; new companies formed. 22 ships leave for the Orient of which eight returned loaded with spices to turn a profit of 400%

1598 – Dutch salt traders, unable to secure salt in Portugal, began to exploit the immense deposits around the lagoon at Araya, near Cumaná in Venezuela. According to the Spanish governor, from 1600 to 1606 his province was visited every year by 120 foreign ships, most of which were Dutch salt carriers of an average capacity of some 300 tons. Dutch traders also came to Cumaná bringing cloth and hardware, taking Venezuelan tobacco and Margarita pearls. In 1609 with the truce between the United Provinces and Spain, the old Setúbal (Portugal) trade was resumed and the Araya voyages disappeared.

1600 – Amsterdam has a population of 50,000.

1600 – The East India Company, also called the English East Indies Company is incorporated by royal charter on December 31, 1600. The company was formed to share in the East Indian spice trade. That trade had been a monopoly of Spain and Portugal until the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588) by England gave the English the chance to break the monopoly. Until 1612 the company conducted separate voyages, separately subscribed. There were temporary joint stocks until 1657, when a permanent joint stock was raised.

The company met with opposition from the Dutch in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and the Portuguese. The Dutch virtually excluded company members from the East Indies after the Amboina Massacre in 1623 (an incident in which English, Japanese, and Portuguese traders were executed by Dutch authorities), but the company’s defeat of the Portuguese in India (1612) won them trading concessions from the Mughal Empire. The company settled down to a trade in cotton and silk piece goods, indigo, and saltpetre, with spices from South India. It extended its activities to the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.

1601 – Now 65 ships left for the East Indies…of those 11 were completely lost with a great number of crew perishing. Portuguese competition essentially crushed.

1601 – The English established their own English East Indies Company, a chartered company. The same year, a French expedition reached Bantam and a French East India Company was formed in 1604.

1601 – A Dutch fleet of only five vessels intervened and drove off a Portuguese fleet of 28, when in December of 1601, the latter came to try to reclaim their control over Bantam.

1602 – on March 20, 1602 to be exact, after months of wrangling, the Estates General, governing body of the United Provinces, passed legislation with the strong support of different investors, merging the efforts of the different Dutch merchants trading in the East Indies into one company, a chartered company, a company that was named the Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie  (V.O.C.) or as it is more commonly known in English: The Dutch East Indies Company. (DEIC). As Om Prakash notes “The companies (Dutch and English East Indies Companies) represented a major institutional innovation over their predecessors, the Portuguese, and concentrated on exploiting the Cape route. they successfully integrated the functions of a sovereign power with those of a business partnership: the new joint stock company represents a fusion of public and private interests with a technically superior organization.”The Dutch East Indies Company and the Economy of Bengal 1630-1720″, p.7

1605 – The Dutch expel the Portuguese from Amboyna “when Dutch Admiral Steven van der Hagen took over the [Portuguese] for without firing a single shot.” Ambon was the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) from 1610 to 1619 until the founding of Batavia (now Jakarta) by the Dutch. The Treaty of Amboyna signed in 1605. It not only gave the Dutch a monopoly of trade on the Island, but it also recognized the suzerainty of the Dutch over the island.

1606 – The first Dutch slaver recorded in the West Indies appeared in Trinidad in 1606.

1607  – Spanish House of Hapsburg goes bankrupt again.

1607 – Joint English-Dutch naval attack on Spain. The United Provinces fleet under the command of Jacob Van Heemskerck attacked and destroyed the Spanish fleet at  the Battle of Gibraltar.

1608 – The Dutch hide trade from Cuba and Hispaniola was said to employ twenty 200 ton ships

1609 – The Bank of Amsterdam (Amsterdamsche Wisselbank) created. The bank was administered by a committee of city government officials concerned to keep its affairs secret. It initially operated on a deposit-only basis, but by 1657 it was allowing depositors to overdraw their accounts, and lending large sums to the Municipality of Amsterdam and the United East Indies Company (Dutch East India Company). Initially this was kept confidential, but it had become public knowledge by 1790. The agio on the bank money dropped from a premium at peak of around 6.25% to a discount of 2%, and by the end of the year the bank had to declare itself insolvent, offering to sell silver at a 10% discount to depositors. The City of Amsterdam took over direct control in 1791, before finally closing it in 1819.

1609  – Peace Treaty signed with Spain, the Treaty of Antwerp which resulted in The Twelve Year Truce, a lasting  truce. But it created a permanent tension between Oldenbarnevelt – who negotiated it – and Prince Maurice, the stadtholder who opposed it and wanted to continue the war with Spain to regain more territory in Belgium from them. It was a prelude to Oldenbarnevelt’s arrest, trial and execution in 1619.

1609  – The Dutch begin to challenge Spanish naval and maritime hegemony in the Mediterranean

1609 – Henry Hudson, in the service of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, discovers and sails up what is now named the Hudson River to Albany (christianed “Fort Nassau”)in the Halve Maen (English “Half Moon”). He originally named the river “Mauritius”, after Maurice. He was covertly attempting to find the Northwest Passage for the Dutch East India Company. Instead, he brought back news about the possibility of exploitation of beaver pelts in the area, leading to private commercial interest by the Dutch who sent commercial, private missions to the area the following years.

At the time, beaver pelts were highly prized in Europe, because the fur could be felted to make waterproof hats. A by-product of the trade in beaver pelts was castoreum—the secretion of the animals’ anal glands—which was used for its medicinal properties and for perfumes. On their 1614 map, which gave them a four-year trade monopoly under a patent of the States General, they named the newly discovered and mapped territory New Netherland for the first time. It also showed the first year-round trading presence in New Netherland, Fort Nassau, which would be replaced in 1624 by Fort Orange, which eventually grew into the town of Beverwyck, now Albany.

1609 – Dutch ships which have entered the Mediterranean Sea area a few years prior, begin to dominate the Mediterranean trade

1610 – The V.O.C. gained a foothold in Batavia (Indonesia / Dutch East Indies)

1614 – King James I of England forbade the export of cloth “in the white” and the Dutch retaliated by prohibiting the import of finished goods; to which James I retorted by prohibiting, once again, the export of wool. Project failed; by 1617, this trade war was over; the Dutch essentially won.

In this same year, a Dutch ship for the first time enters the Red Sea, soon to be followed by British and French vessels marking the beginning of the end of Portuguese control of the Levant (Middle East through the Mediterranean to Europe) trade.

1615 – – V.O.C. has 50 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies Route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports rose steadily from 50 in the second decade of the century to 103 by the sixth and 156 by the last decade.

The V.O.C., by controlling producing areas, established a virtual monopoly of the trade to Europe of spices and later coffee, which it introduced from Arabia to Java at the end of the 17th century. Conversely, it monopolized the sale of european goods to Indonesia.

But this “long haul trade” was only a part of its activities.

Elsewhere in the Indian Ocean and throughout the East it traded in competition with Chinese, Malays, Arabs, “all skilled traders by sea” and with other Europeans. Even in the Java Sea, a larger volume of native shipping persisted; it was tolerated and encouraged to do so as long as it respected the Company’s monopoly of certain commodities.

Dutch business acumen and shipping efficiency was widely, through by no means universally successful against its trading opponents elsewhere.
– Dutch trades supplanted Portuguese and Arabs in S. Persia, supplying cloth and arms, diverting considerable quantities of silk and carpets to Batavia for trans-shipment to Europe.
– By the control of the harbors of Ceylon, the got the greater part of the foreign trade of the Kandy Kingdom in their hands.
– They overtook the Portuguese trade to Formosa and handled the small – but lucrative – amount of trade permitted after 1639 with Japan.
– on the other hand, they made little headway on the China coast
– the Portuguese at Macao continued to trade with India, with Europe; Chinese authorities refused to allow any other European in the Canto region.
– In India, the Dutch shared the field not only with remnants of Portuguese trade with Goa, but with the English and later the French. The Dutch exported piece goods from Pulicat and other places on the Coromandel coast to Indonesia but never came near a monopoly of those exports

Replica of the Batavia – Dutch East Indies commercial ship from early 1600s

Replica of the Batavia – Dutch East Indies commercial ship from early 1600s

1618 – Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, architect of the Dutch East Indies Company and much of the political unity reached among the United Provinces, is placed on trail for treason in Amsterdam. He and stadholder Prince Maurice, important former allies, find themselves on opposite polls of what was essentially a religious controversy (between the Dutch Reform Church and what were called the Arminians) over what today would be considered a most minor squabble over theology – the extent or limits of God’s grace. Next year he, Oldenbarnevelt, is beheaded.

1618-19 – In the East Indies, off of the Dutch base at Jacatra, Java, the Dutch, under Jan Pieterson Coen, beat off a serious English attack; Since the regent of Java had favored the English in that contest, Coen imposed Dutch rule throughout Java, with Jacatra as his fortress and the center of dominion.

1619 – Coen established a fortified base at Batavia, windward of Gao and Malacca. And the Dutch a permanent strategic advantage. He and his successors used this advantage to eliminate European competitive buyers and to establish “as near as possible” a monopoly on East Indies trade.

1618-1648 The Thirty Years WarDuring this period, Catholic gains were threatened with reversal. The Catholics struggle to hold the line of their influence in Europe against a Protestant offensive. It is estimated that some 40% of the population met early death as a result of the fighting or the accompanying famine and disease. The opponents fought themselves to a standstill; refused to negotiate until both sides, exhausted met at Westphalia in 1648 (see below). At the heart of the conflict was religious zeal – ideological blindness – on both sides

One consequence of the Thirty Years War was the understanding – gleaned through not just the three decades but more than a century of destruction – that religious crusades will no longer work in Europe, that such wars are unwinnable on both sides, and that one has to accept the existence of alternative religious models.

1619 – The Synod of Dordrechtthe Contra-Remonstrants (Gomarians) carried the day against the Remonstrants (Arminians) and had the latter excluded from the state. As a result of the Synod (synod = a major religious conference), the Dutch Reform Church adopted an extreme version of Calvin’s theory of pre-destination. By this was meant that a person’s actions have nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not they receive “grace” – go to heaven – it is all decided by God and his (it is virtually always a “he” not a “she”) decisions are unknowable. What are referred to as the “Arminians” (not to be confused with Armenians) essentially accepted most of this philosophy, but there was a little wiggle room in their thinking concerning how it was that people lived their lives, that it mattered and could add to the possibility of being blessed). It was the thinking of the Arminians which was rejected. One result of this was a split between the Church of England, which rejected this version of theology and the Dutch Reform Church at the time.

1620 – Amsterdam has a population of 100,000. By 1622, Leyden’s population had reached 44,500, up from 12,100 in 1581. “While the cities of Flanders and Brabant emptied themselves, those of Holland expanded by leaps and bounds.” In the same year, 1622, urbanization had gone very far in the United Provinces with a full 60% of the population being “townsfolk”.

1621 – Dutch and English competition over control of the Banda Islands ends with “the massacre of Banda” which Coen “pacified” by massacring all who had sided with the English.

1621The Dutch West Indies Company was chartered. For the next 21 years it pursued a course of plunder and conquest, as well as competitive trade. As a result of the Dutch entry into the Caribbean, the Spanish trade with the region shrank by 1640 to less than 10,000 tons annually and continued to shrink throughout the century. Dutch traders stepped in as carriers for Spain and Portugal in the New World, as they already were in the Old, and Amsterdam became a market for logwood, cochineal and cacao, for Peruvian silver and Brazilian gold – as well as for eastern silk and pepper.

1621 – 1700 – In the steady expansion of transatlantic and inter-American trade, the Dutch were at first the principal but not the only carriers. Their predominance was challenged first by the Portuguese who managed to hold on to Brazil and later in the century more and more by France and England.

1622 – By this year urbanization had grown to such a point that 60% of the people in the United Provinces were “townsfolk”  and three quarters of those lived in towns with populations of over 10,000. The rural to urban shift had largely taken place

1623 – Portuguese base at Hormuz falls to Shah Abbas with the help of the British. Hormuz declines as a trading hub thereafter.

1623 – 5 – Outbreak of plague in Holland, corresponding to one in London

1625-1675  – Approximate period when the United Provinces achieved and maintained hegemony in the Modern World-Economy. By about 1625, either just before or just after, marks the beginning of “the irremediable decline of the Levant trade” – the global maritime system from the East Indies, China and India through the Middle East (the Persian Gulf or Red Sea) through the Mediterranean to Europe and back. The Middle East, the wealth of which in large measure came from its position within the world trading system enters into decline as the spice trade – especially in pepper – shifts from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic route around Africa and the Dutch totally supplant the Portuguese in control of that trade on the high seas.

As Braudel (the Mediterranean, Vol 1) noted: “And in 1614 the appearance of the first large Dutch vessel in the Red Sea had been another hint of what wsa to come. This capture from the rear, partly by land, partly by sea, of the traffic of the East (including Persian silk), the spread throughout the area of Dutch textiles, the belligerent arrival of the English and the French marked the beginning of a second Eurpean age in the Indian Ocean that was to be more catastrophic to the Levant than the imperfect domination of the Portuguese.” Thus marks the beginning of the decline Portuguese control of global trade.

1627  – Spanish House of Hapsburg goes bankrupt again

1634 – In order to better coordinate their trade with the Spanish mainland, the Dutch seized the island of Curaçao, which also possessed valuable salt pans. There they create “a naval screen” – protection for English, French and other Northern Europeans could establish colonies in North America, protected from Spanish naval attacks.

1635 – 7 – Outbreak of plague in Holland, corresponding to one in London.

1637 – 1645 – Portuguese ports in Ceylon and Southern India are seized; Goa was never captured but it was successfully blockaded during this period; its exports were largely diverted to other ports under Dutch and English control. Goa never recovered.

1639 – Dutch seize the Portuguese trading colony/base at Formosa; the same year, Japan permitted limited trade with a European country. Again it was the Dutch that benefited

1640 – Most of the island of Ceylon (today Sri Lanka) in Dutch control

1641 – After a decade of attacks and counter attacks, the Dutch seize Malacca from the Portuguese. It is left to decay like Hormuz; the trade it had handled moves to Batavia.

1647 – Spanish House of Hapsburg again goes bankrupt

1648 – Treaty of Westphalia. Spain recognizes the sovereignty of the United Provinces and ends its state of war with the Dutch. Principle of the sovereignty of nations is established. Important turning point in European history.

1650 – Amsterdam has a population of 200,000 and it served as a veritable “melting pot” “turning Flemings, Wallooons, Germans, Purtuguese and German Jews, and French Huguenots into “true Dutchmen” “. The United Provinces as a whole had a population of more than 2 million (double the number from 1500)

1651 – The English Navigation Act of 1651 is passed.In an attempt to break the Dutch monopoly on shipping, it decreed that goods entering England had to be shipped on English ships. Beginning of a serious attempt on the part of both English and France to protect their domestic industries from imports from the United Provinces. The Dutch rejected the terms, and Britain had to pull back but a new tension between the countries would take root and grow with time and would lead to the first of several Anglo-Dutch wars. With the end of the Thirty Years War om 1648, England feared that in the coming peace, Dutch commercial interests would grow and intensify accordingly. With the peace, England ends being the carrier of Spanish gold and silver from the New World. That monopoly was lost with the peace. Beginning of a new constellation of tensions within the core. Prior – England, France, United Provinces were in alliance against Spain. Now a new alliance between France and England against the power of the Unite Provinces began to take shape.

1652-1654First Anglo Dutch War. To protect its position in North America, in October 1651 the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England passed the first of the Navigation Acts, which mandated that all goods imported into England must be carried by English ships or vessels from the exporting countries, thus excluding (mostly Dutch) middlemen. This typical mercantilist measure as such did not hurt the Dutch much as the English trade was relatively unimportant to them, but it was used by the many pirates operating from British territory as an ideal pretext to legally take any Dutch ship they encountered.

The Dutch responded to the growing intimidation by enlisting large numbers of armed merchantmen into their navy. The English, trying to revive an ancient right they perceived they had to be recognized as the ‘lords of the seas’, demanded that other ships strike their flags in salute to their ships, even in foreign ports. On 29 May 1652, Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp refused to show the respectful haste expected in lowering his flag to salute an encountered English fleet. This resulted in a skirmish, the Battle of Goodwin Sands, after which the Commonwealth declared war on 10 July.

Victory in the naval battles varied, but in the final Battle of Scheveningen on 10 August 1653, Admiral Tromp was killed, a blow to Dutch morale, but the English had to end their blockade of the Dutch coast. As both nations were by now exhausted and Cromwell had dissolved the warlike Rump Parliament, ongoing peace negotiations could be brought to fruition, albeit after many months of slow diplomatic exchanges. The British captured about 1200 to 1500 Dutch merchant ships. The war ended on 5 April 1654 with the signing of the Treaty of Westminster (ratified by the States General on 8 May), but the commercial rivalry was not resolved, the English having failed to replace the Dutch as the world’s dominant trade nation. The treaty contained a secret annexe, the Act of Seclusion, forbidding the infant Prince William III of Orange from becoming stadtholder of the province of Holland, which would prove to be a future cause of discontent. In 1653 the Dutch had started a major naval expansion programme, building sixty larger vessels, partly closing the qualitative gap with the English fleet. Cromwell, having started the war against Spain without Dutch help, during his rule avoided a new conflict with the Republic, even though the Dutch in the same period defeated his Portuguese and Swedish allies.

As a result of the war, the Portuguese are able to recapture Brazil

1654 – 5 – Outbreak of plague in Holland, corresponding to one in London

1660s –  Dutch industrial production, growing over the previous hundred years, peaks in this decade.

1660s  – The Dutch continue to dominate the Baltic trade although the British are starting to make inroads there.

1661- 2 – The Dutch loss of the Formosa outpost to Koxinga (Chinese military leader and Ming Dynasty supporter) brought an end to the profitable silk trade for the V.O.C. Profitable silk trade with China ends in 1666.

1663-4 – Outbreak of plague in Holland, corresponding to one in London

1665 –  V.O.C. has 103 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports 

1665 – 1667 The Second Anglo-Dutch War was fought between March 4, 1665 – July 31, 1667. It was part of a series of fourAnglo-Dutch Wars fought between the English (later British) and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes—where England tried to end the Dutch domination of world trade. After initial English successes, the war ended in a decisive Dutch victory. English and French resentment would soon lead to renewed warfare. The Dutch lose New Amsterdam and some West African forts to the British. 

On 31 July 1667, the Treaty of Breda sealed peace between the two nations. The treaty allowed the English to keep factual possession of New Netherland (renamed New York, after James), while the Dutch kept control over Pulau Run and the valuable sugar plantations of Suriname which they had conquered in 1667. At the same time the Dutch accepted the English seizure of the Cape Coast Castle and abandoned their claim, long violently upheld, of a monopoly of trade on the Slave Coast. This temporary uti possidetis solution would be made official in the Treaty of Westminster (1674). The Act of Navigation was moderated in favor of the Dutch. The peace was generally seen as a personal triumph for De Witt.

Up until this time, the Dutch had held the Spanish at bay in the New World, providing the naval screen, behind which the British and the French could begin the establish their American colonies. Second, sugar cultivation was launched in the Americans in Brazil, being shifted, after the expulsion of the Dutch from Barbados, the first great English Caribbean plantation colony. Third, the Dutch conducted the first serious slave trade in order to furnish the manpower for the sugar plantations; when they lost the plantations, they tried to remain in the field as slave traders., but by 1675 their primacy ended with the creation of the Royal African Company of the English.

1668The Triple Alliance between England, Sweden and the United Provinces is formed to try to block French expansionist plans into the Spanish Netherlands.

1670 – About 100 Dutch ships are annually employed between the Netherlands and the East Indies

1670 – The highly profitable trade with Japan started to decline. The cause of this are rather complex…and is associated with role of precious metals (gold and silver). Most of Europe’s trade with Asia – it is Europeans buying Asian products and paying for them in gold. – result: gold flows moved heavily from Europe to Asia…and trade was dependent upon the ability of the Europeans to extract New World gold and silver in order to pay for Asian goods (spices, silk, Indian textiles, Chinese porcelain, etc). – as the flow of New World gold diminished, the Dutch established a relationship with the Japanese that in exchange for Indian textiles and Indonesian textiles – whose markets the Dutch came to control, that the Japanese would pay the Dutch in gold, with which the latter could then make more purchases.. – but Japan cut off these relations in 1670 cut off selling gold to the Dutch somewhat disrupting the trade.

1672-3Third Anglo-Dutch War – British navy joins France in its attack on the United Provinces.  The Third Anglo-Dutch War or Third Dutch War (Derde Engelse Oorlog or Derde Engelse Zeeoorlog) was a military conflict between England and the Dutch Republic lasting from 1672 to 1674. It was part of the larger Franco-Dutch War. England’s Royal Navy joined France in its attack on the Republic, but was frustrated in its attempts to blockade the Dutch coast by four strategic victories of Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter. An attempt to make the province of Holland an English protectorate rump state likewise failed. The English Parliament, fearful that the alliance with France was part of a plot to make England Roman Catholic, forced the king to abandon the costly and fruitless war. 

This war temporarily interrupted the flow of pepper to NW Europe as a result of the naval battles. As a result of a reduction of supply the price of pepper spiked, which in turn induced the English East Indies Company to enter the market for pepper after 1672, cutting into the Dutch monopoly on the product. – a price war over pepper followed between the V.O.C. and the English, but because the V.O.C. had far greater resources it was able to out-last the British. – still soon, after the war ended, other European countries enter into the competition for pepper – including the French East Indies Company, the Danes, breaking the Dutch monopoly. – as went pepper so went other spices in time. The Dutch tried to suppress the French-English entry into the pepper trade; they were temporarily successful but not for long.

1672 – 78The French-Dutch War, often called simply the Dutch War (French: La Guerre de Hollande; Dutch: Hollandse Oorlog) was a war fought by France, Sweden, the Prince-Bishopric of Münster, the Archbishopric of Cologne and England against the Dutch Republic, which was later joined by the Austrian Habsburg lands, Brandenburg and Spain to form a quadruple alliance. The war ended with the Treaty of Nijmegen of 1678, which granted France control of the Franche-Comté and some cities in Flanders and Hainaut, all formerly controlled by Spain. The year 1672 in Dutch is often referred to as Het Rampjaar, meaning the year of disaster.

Until the War of Devolution (1667–68), Louis XIV of France considered the Dutch United Provinces to be trading rivals, seditious republicans and Protestant heretics – but military allies nevertheless. France and the United Provinces had been friends and allies for a century (since the 1560s) but this was ended by the Triple Alliance of 1668, which the Dutch signed with England (against whom they had just fought a war) and Sweden in support of Spain, another recent foe. Louis now felt deeply betrayed by the Dutch, and came to regard them as an obstacle to French expansion into the Spanish Netherlands.

During the four years of peace following the War of Devolution, Louis prepared for war against the United Provinces.Louis’ first and primary objective was to gain the support of England. England felt threatened by the growing naval power of the United Provinces. It had already fought two naval wars (essentially) against the Dutch and lost. Thus, the English did not need much encouragement to leave the Triple Alliance they had signed with the Dutch United Provinces, but to help things along, Louis XIV agreed to send financial support to the English in the amount of three million pounds annually. Sweden agreed to indirectly support the invasion of the United Provinces, by threatening Brandenburg if that state should intervene in the war against the Dutch Republic

1674Treaty of Westminster is signed ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War.  Signed by the Netherlands and England, it provided for the return of the colony of New Netherland to England and renewed the Treaty of Breda of 1667. It also provided for a mixed commission for the regulation of commerce, particularly in the East Indies.

1678  –  Louis XIV continued his conquests at the expense of the Spanish Netherlands, capturing Ghent and Ypres (25 March). The talks progressed in Nijmegen, but were thwarted by the French decision to protect Swedish interests. But with a new French victory in July, the United Provinces signed the Peace of Nijmegen in August 1678. Other peace treaties are signed with the other contenders in the coming months, where the decadent Spain would come out defeated, losing to France the Franche-Comté and most of the various captured cities of the Spanish Netherlands. The United Provinces, which ran the risk of being wiped out in 1672, could celebrate the reduction of some tariffs in its trade with France. Sweden, whose military tradition was not sufficient to stop the rise of Berlin, managed to leave the conflict with territorial losses negligible.

Although the outcome was at first glance inconclusive, it would have great importance for the events of the next 40 years. France, which in the final years of the war fought almost alone against a powerful coalition, left the episode as a great military power of continental Europe. Following the war, Louis XIV began to be referred to as the “Sun King.” Following the war, the United Provinces started to show signs of decay. Its pre-eminence as a naval power would eventually be ceded to England. Ruled by William of Orange after the Glorious Revolution, England was to become the sworn enemy of France. Spain and Sweden, shy participants in this conflict, lost importance and would suffer great territorial losses in the following decades.

The song “Auprès de ma blonde” or “Le Prisonnier de Hollande” (“The Prisoner of Holland”), in which a French woman grieves for her beloved who is held prisoner by the Dutch, appeared during or soon after the Franco-Dutch War – reflecting the contemporary situation of French sailors and soldiers being imprisoned in the Netherlands – and remains an enduring part of French culture up to the present.

1679 – The peace conference which ended the war between France and the United Provinces droned on for three years. Unlike at Westphalia, Catholic and Protestant diplomats sat down with each other face-to-face as they hammered out an agreement.

1685Revocation of the Edict of Nantes; expelled from France by Louis XIV and deprived of their freedom of religion there, a massive invasion of French Huguenots emigrates to the United Provinces resulting in a boost to Dutch industry.

1690  –  V.O.C. has 156 ships plying the Holland – Dutch East Indies Route. the number of ships returning each decade from Asia to their home ports.

1690George Eberhad Rumphius, German historian in the service of the V.O.C. completes his masterpiece, Herbarium Amboinense, a six volume study of the plant life of Amboyna, “the first sound work on Asiatic botany.” (Amboya is in present day Indonesia.) It was published posthumously in 1741.

The work covers 1,200 species, 930 with definite species names, and another 140 identified to genus level. He provided illustrations and descriptions for nomenclature types for 350 plants, and his material contributed to the later development of the binomial scientific classification by Linnaeus. His book provided the basis for all future study of the flora of the Moluccas and his work is still referred to today.

After going blind in 1670 due to glaucoma, Rumphius continued work on his manuscript with the help of others. His wife and child were lost to an earthquake and tsunami on February 17, 1674. In 1687, with the project nearing completion, the illustrations were lost in a fire. Persevering, Rumphius and his helpers first completed the book in 1690, but the ship carrying the manuscript to the Netherlands was attacked by the French and sank, forcing them to start over from a copy that had fortunately been retained. The Herbarium Amboinense finally arrived in the Netherlands in 1696. However, “the Dutch East India Company decided that it contained so much sensitive information that it would be better not to publish it.” Rumphius died in 1702, so never saw his work in print; the embargo was lifted in 1704, but then no publisher could be found for it. It finally appeared in 1741, thirty-nine years after Rumphius’s death. Much of the natural history in Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (“Old and New East-India”) by François Valentijn was by Rumphius and they were close friends.

1726 – The V.O.C. begins to lose its dominant position in global trade. Even though the company was only interested in the balance sheet, it soon found itself burdened with an expanding empire and an indolent bureaucracy which, in the 18th century, became not only unwieldy but tolerant of graft and corruption. Furthermore, even though its profits were far below what they were rumored to be, the Company kept its dividends artificially high and was soon forced to borrow money to pay the interest on previous loans.

1741 – The Battle of Colachel (also spelled Kulachel) Dutch East Indies Company is defeated by an alliance of S. India principalities (probably supported by Great Britain). In the words of the noted historian, Prof Sreedhara Menon, “A disaster of the first magnitude for the Dutch, the battle of Colachel shattered for all time their dream of the conquest of Kerala.” The Battle of Colachel was a death-blow to the power the Dutch East India company in the Malabar coast. Subsequent peace treaties saw the transfer of the remaining Dutch forts which were incorporated into the Indian principality’s  lines. Another direct outcome of the event at Colachel was the takeover of the black pepper trade by the state of Travancore. The Dutch monopoly on the product was broken.  This development was to have serious repercussions on the Dutch and the trading world of Kerala at large. In 1753 the Dutch signed the Treaty of Mavelikkara with the Raja agreeing not to obstruct the Raja’s expansion, and in turn, to sell to him arms and ammunition. This marked the beginning of the end of Dutch influence in India. The VOC continued to sell Indonesian spices and sugar in Kerala until 1795, at which time the English conquest of the Kingdom of Kochi ended their rule in India.

1741 – Rumphius’ Herbarium Amboinense is finally published 39 years after the author’s death. 275 years later, it is still considered the authoritative work on the subject.

1750 – It is about at this time that the Dutch, along with the British and French launched what could be called “the peripheralization”  of the Indian Ocean.

1780 – 1784 – Fourth Anglo-Dutch War.  The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780–1784) was a conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Dutch Republic. The war, tangentially related to the American Revolutionary War, broke out over British and Dutch disagreements on the legality and conduct of Dutch trade with Britain’s enemies in that war. Although the Dutch Republic did not enter into a formal alliance with the United States and their allies, U.S. ambassador (and future PresidentJohn Adams managed to establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic, making it the second European country to diplomatically recognize the Continental Congress in April 1782. In October 1782, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded as well. Most of the war consisted of a series of largely successful British operations against Dutch colonial economic interests, although British and Dutch naval forces also met once off the Dutch coast at the Battle of Dogger Bank. The war ended disastrously for the Dutch and exposed the weakness of the political and economic foundations of the Republic.

1780 – When Holland’s naval supremacy was seriously challenged by the British in this year a blockade kept the Company’s ships from reaching Holland, and the discrepancy between capital and expenditures increased dramatically until the Company’s deficit was so large it had to request state aid.

1783 – By this year, the Dutch, for more than 200 years the single greatest commercial maritime power its day, no longer owned a single ship.

1784 – As a result of its loss in the Battle of Dogger Bank, the Dutch yield to the English the right to trade in their territories, and bit by bit was forced to abandon its lands and its rights.

1790 – A new company, formed that year, met with no commercial success; and in 1796 the Dutch East India Company only retained Java and Ternate in its position.

1795 –  The French Revolutionary Army defeats the Prussians on the territory of the United Provinces, which collapses in the aftermath of the battle. France sets up a “Batavian Council” run by local directorate (controlled by Paris). It remains under French military occupation and is pressured to follow French policies and provide manpower to the French military as well as subsidies to Paris.

1798The Batavian Republic suppressed the company and annexed to itself the minute remnants of the glorious company which had been founded in 1602. Its debt of 140 million guilders was assumed by the state, and the commercial enterprise became a colonial enterprise.


Braudel, Fernand. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. Harper and Row. 1972. (first published in French, 1966)

MacCulloch, Diamaid. The ReformationViking Press: 2003

Motley, John H. History of the Dutch Republic: 1555-1566

Wallerstein, Immanuel. The Modern World System II: Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy: 1600-1750. Academic Press: 1980. Chapter 2

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