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Dutch Golden Age 1588-1702

But Philip was a different sort of man. Morose, dictatorial, fanatically Catholic, the new King hated the north, and cared for nothing but Spain and his religion. In August , he paid a brief visit to the Lowlands and coldly addressed the territory's notables, the members of the parliamentary States-General. He demanded of the Dutch a three-million-guilder tribute to Spain in addition to the taxes already being paid, suppression of all Protestant sects and submission to his half-sister Margaret, the Duchess of Parma, whom he had made regent of the Lowlands. Philip then bade a hostile farewell to the States-General and set sail for Spain, which he never left again.

The first effect of Philip's harsh policies, enforced by the Duchess of Parma, was to arouse the Lowlands' Protestants, already inflamed by the anti-Papist preaching of the Calvinists. A wave of religious rebellion swept the country. Crowds attacked Catholic churches with Reformation zeal, threw down statues, and burned and smashed everything connected with the hated priesthood. One English observer said of such a riot that it "looked like hell where were above 1, torches brandying and syche a noise!

The Spanish answer was brutal and ruthless. In , Philip sent the Duke of Alva and 10, troops north to replace the Duchess of Parma, and the years of the "Spanish Fury" followed. Town after town in the Lowlands was besieged, taken and ravaged. Alva executed his mission with a zeal that made him, and by extension all Spaniards, hateful to every Dutchman. He established a court called the "Council of Troubles" to try Netherlanders for heresy and sedition Dutchmen called it the "Council of Blood" , and it was this court of injustice that sent the Counts of Egmont and Hoorn to their deaths.

By groups of 30, 40 and 50 people at a time were being condemned to die; their property was confiscated by the Crown. At this point the young nobility of the Lowlands began to take up arms against the oppressor. Later, the resistance to Spain became a democratic—or rather, a bourgeois-revolution; at first, however, it was led by princes and counts.

William's role is comparable to that played by George Washington years later in the American Colonies: he was by every measure the father of the new republic. He quickly, became the center of resistance in the fight, its voice, its general. He found the money and the troops.

William was only 26 when King Philip left for Spain, but was already widely known as a brilliant diplomat and a man of culture as well as a dashing ladies' man. He was heir to the rich possessions of the family of Nassau in Germany. When Philip took over his followers took great pains to protest their continued loyalty to their overlord.

Amsterdam: capital of the Golden Age -

Their fight, they stated repeatedly, was not against the Crown but against the tyranny and injustices perpetrated by the representatives of that Crown. The Dutch national anthem stems from those days, and still contains a line in which William says, "I have always honored the King of Spain. One is again reminded of the course of events leading to the American Revolution. The first turning point in the war came in , when the Spanish siege of Leiden was broken by Dutch seagoing guerrilla fighters called Sea Beggars. These were rough and ready mariners who banded into a semi military organization to bedevil the Spaniards wherever they could.

Often they were more pirates than guerrillas, harassing peaceful shipping for their own benefit, and even occasionally raiding English coastal towns. William disapproved of their unsavory tactics and only reluctantly recognized them as part of his forces. They were, nevertheless, an effective weapon in the fight against Spain. That the Sea Beggars were able to sail up to Leiden to lift the siege is a dramatic indication of the spirit in which the Dutch fought their rebellion.

Leiden is not a port. Normally it is several miles from the sea.

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But in their dogged defense against the troops of the Duke of Alva, the people of Leiden had opened the dikes and flooded their land to hinder the foe, the Sea Beggars actually sailed in over the fields when they went to Leiden's rescue. Thousands of acres of farm land were spoiled by the flooding, but time and again during the war the Dutch made similar sacrifices such as burning their own crops to aid the fight against the hated Spaniard.

Five years after the successful defense of Leiden, eight of the northern provinces-Utrecht, Holland, Zeeland, Guelderland, Overijssel, Friesland, Groaning and Drenthe-signed a treaty called the Union of Utrecht. At the beginning of the war, each Dutch province had fought on its own under the loose control of William of Orange. Now these eight provinces were bound in a "firm union" for the common defense. Two years later they took the final step of rebellion: they abjured the King of Spain as their legal lord.

The States General met in to draw up a document in justification of their moral right to act:. The other prince they were turning to was William of Orange, and to King Philip it now seemed that this man was the sole cause of his troubles. Making the mistake of many statesmen before and since, Philip imagined that the war was kept going by a few men rather than by deep-seated social conflicts. So he issued an infamous "ban" which described William as "chief disturber of all Christendom and especially these Netherlands.

Prince William's court was in Delft, which, being strategically located and easily defendable, was a stronghold of the revolutionary cause. At this time there was no hint of the fame Delft would earn as an art center 50 years later.

Dutch Empire/Dutch Culture During the Golden Age

In the confusion that followed its leader's death, the cause of Dutch freedom did in fact suffer for a while, but Holland's anger over its hero's death was too intense to burn out William's son Maurice took over as commander-in-chief and the fighting went on. More towns were captured and recaptured; soldiers killed and were killed; peasants saw their houses and harvests burned time and again.

One region of the southern Netherlands changed hands 25 times in 11 years. Actually, though the men of the time could not perceive it, the war had already been decided at the time of William's death. No assassination, no siege, no battle could undo the inexorable shift of the war in favor of Holland. For the Dutch revolution was, of course, not the brainchild of one man or his family.

The Renaissance and the Reformation had swept aside the circumstances in which nations and populations could be passed around and inherited like so much real estate. There was no longer any bond strong enough to keep the people of Amsterdam in one empire with the monarch in Madrid. At last, in , the trend of battle became clear when the Dutch won a decisive victory at the Battle of Nieuwpoort. Though final peace would not be achieved for almost 40 years, a temporary truce was signed in , and Holland was never again threatened by the Spanish armies.

For all practical purposes, the United Provinces were free to develop as an independent nation from the first years of the century. In fact, so closely did the birth of the new school of painting coincide with the birth of the nation that a French art historian has remarked that it was as if "the right to having a free and national school of painting had been part of the stipulations of the treaty of This new school of painting was actually a branch of the Flemish art that in earlier centuries had produced such masters as the Van Eycks, Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel.

But while Flemish masters such as Rubens and Van Dyke continued brilliantly into the seventeenth Century in the traditional vein of European art, the Dutch school moved on its own way toward an ever-more-searching realism, and established itself as a separate stream. The evolution of these two schools of painting was clearly related to the political developments of the war.

When the eight northern provinces formed their "firm union," they created a permanent division within the Lowlands, drawing a boundary that has stayed much the same to the present day. The southern provinces that did not join the union comprising modern Belgium—were neither able nor particularly anxious to break their bonds with Catholic Spain. The social system in the south was still feudal, dominated by an aristocracy that was largely French-speaking and not nationally oriented.

What Protestants there were in: the south fled north many of these were businessmen from Antwerp, and their loss debilitated the southern provinces as much as did the continued Spanish occupation there. It would be two centuries before Belgium emerged as a stable, independent nation. The northern region, which came to be known as Holland after its biggest most prosperous province, flourished. The war had not only set the boundaries of the new nation as an 18th Century chronicler put it, "Mars had stood over the birth as midwife" but it had also changed its spirit.

Most of the old liberal men of noble birth had died during the war, the new leaders were merchants and Protestants. The aggressiveness, the national pride and hatred of Spain that had been stirred up by the war were now employed in developing the strong, mercantile economy that such a small nation needed to survive among its large neighbors.

With almost a crusading spirit the Dutch began pushing Holland to greatness, and their weapon was trade. Trading was nothing new for Holland. On the return trip north they carried spices and other valuable goods brought from the East Indies by Portuguese ships. But then Philip Il closed down all Portuguese and Spanish ports to Dutch ships, and the merchants of Holland were forced to sail to the East themselves and trade there directly. In the first three Dutch ships to make the round-trip voyage returned to Amsterdam, of the crew of men only 89 had survived.

Nevertheless, the following year 22 more ships left for the Far East, and from then on the number increased steadily and rapidly. In , the first Dutch ship reached Japan, and presently the Dutch were the only Europeans allowed to trade there. In , Oliver van Noort, former pirate and Rotterdam innkeeper, sailed west through the Strait of Magellan to the Moluccas, south of the Philippines, and home around Africa. He was only the fourth captain in history to sail around the world after one Portuguese and two Englishmen. It was always trade, rather than colonizing, that provided the prime motivation far Dutch expansion, yet a colonial empire emerged in the process.

The mariners built strong points on distant shores to protect their ships and stores tram natives or marauding European ships; the strong points became forts, the forts led to further conquests. We have a dedicated site for Germany. The humorous side of Dutch culture of the seventeenth century is obscured by a change that took place around Religious treatises and books of manners warning against laughter contributed to a new image, that of the humourless, Calvinist Dutch.

Mainly based on a manuscript with some two thousand jokes, the lost laughter of the Golden Age is reconstructed and analyzed. Most jokes are crude and obscene, and they throw new light on attitudes towards sexuality, religion and other aspects of life. In this insightful analysis of the greatest treasure trove of early modern Dutch jokes, Rudolf Dekker has reconstructed the personalities, issues, virtues, and foibles that occasioned discrete smiles and guffawing laughter in the upper echelons of Dutch society.

Dekker's comparative historical approach, which ranges well beyond the Netherlands, restores the currency and the flavour of humour in early modern Europe. Price goes beyond the standard descriptions of the cultural achievements of the Dutch during this time by placing these many achievements within their social c. Price goes beyond the standard descriptions of the cultural achievements of the Dutch during this time by placing these many achievements within their social context.

Dutch Culture in the Golden Age is distinctive in its broad scope, examing art, literature, religion, political ideology, theology, and scientific and intellectual trends, while also attending to the high and popular culture of the times. This comprehensive look at the Dutch Golden Age provides a fascinating new way to understand Dutch culture at the height of its historic and global influence.

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Dutch Culture in the Golden Age by J. Price goes beyond the standard descriptions of the cultural achievements of the Dutch during this time by placing these many achievements within their social c The seventeenth century is considered the Dutch Golden Age, a time when the Dutch were at the forefront of social change, economics, the sciences, and art. Get A Copy.

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