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(nĕth`ərləndz), Du. Nederland or Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, officially Kingdom of the Netherlands, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 16,407,000), 15,963 sq mi (41,344 sq km), NW Europe. It is bounded by the North Sea on the north and west, by Belgium on the south, and by Germany on the east. It is popularly known as HollandHolland,
former county of the Holy Roman Empire and, from 1579 to 1795, chief member of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Its name is popularly applied to the entire Netherlands. Holland has been divided since 1840 into two provinces, North Holland and South Holland.
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. AmsterdamAmsterdam
, city (1994 pop. 724,096), constitutional capital and largest city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, North Holland prov., W Netherlands, on the IJ, an inlet of the Markermeer.
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 is the constitutional capital; The HagueHague, The
, Du. 's Gravenhage or Den Haag, Fr. La Haye, city (1994 pop. 445,279), administrative and governmental seat of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, capital of South Holland prov., W Netherlands, on the North Sea.
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 is the administrative and governmental capital. The kingdom also includes three overseas territories, ArubaAruba
, island, autonomous part of the Netherlands (2005 est. pop. 71,600), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), in the Lesser Antilles off the coast of Venezuela. Oranjestad is the capital and main port. The population is largely of mixed European and indigenous Caribbean descent.
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, CuraçaoCuraçao
, island (1989 est. pop. 146,100), 178 sq mi (461 sq km), an autonomous country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located in the Lesser Antilles off the coast of Venezuela. Curaçao is semiarid; most of the plant life is of desert character.
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, and Saint MartinSaint Martin
, Du. Sint Maarten, island, 37 sq mi (96 sq km), West Indies, one of the Leeward Islands. Since its occupation in 1648 by the Dutch and the French, it has been divided. The northern part (1999 pop.
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 in the Caribbean Sea, as self-governing parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Caribbean islands of BonaireBonaire
, island (1990 est. pop. 11,000), 112 sq mi (290 sq km), a special municipality of the Netherlands, in the West Indies off the coast of Venezuela. It was formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles. Kralendijk is the chief town.
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, SabaSaba
, island (1990 est. pop. 1,100), 5 sq mi (13 sq km), a special municipality of the Netherlands, one of the NW Leeward Islands, West Indies. It was formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles. The rugged island is actually the cone of an extinct volcano rising to c.
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, and Saint EustatiusSaint Eustatius
, island (1989 pop. 1,861), 8 sq mi (20.7 sq km), a special municipality of the Netherlands, one of the Leeward Islands, West Indies. It was formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles.
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 are special municipalities in the Netherlands.

Land and People

The Netherlands has 12 provinces: ZeelandZeeland
, province (1994 pop. 363,900), c.650 sq mi (1,680 sq km), SW Netherlands, bordering on Belgium in the south and the North Sea in the west. The main cities are Middelburg (the capital) and Vlissingen.
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, South HollandSouth Holland,
Dutch Zuidholland, province (1994 pop. 3,313,200), c.1,085 sq mi (2,810 sq km), W Netherlands, bounded by the North Sea in the west. The Hague is the capital; other cities include Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Leiden, Delft, Schiedam, and Gouda.
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, North HollandNorth Holland,
Dutch Noordholland , province (1994 pop. 2,457,300), c.1,080 sq mi (2,800 sq km), NW Netherlands, a peninsula between the North Sea in the west and the Markermeer and IJsselmeer in the east. The province includes several of the West Frisian islands.
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, FrieslandFriesland
or Frisia
, province (1994 pop. 607,000), c.1,325 sq mi (3,430 sq km), N Netherlands. Leeuwarden is the capital. The province includes several of the West Frisian Islands along the North Sea coast and borders on the IJsselmeer in the southwest.
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, and GroningenGroningen
, province (1994 pop. 556,600), c.900 sq mi (2,330 sq km), NE Netherlands, bordering on Germany in the east and the North Sea in the north. Groningen is the capital of the province, which has both an agricultural and industrial economy.
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, all of which border on the North Sea; and North BrabantNorth Brabant
, Du. Noordbrabant, province (1994 pop. 2,259,800), c.1,920 sq mi (4,970 sq km), S Netherlands, bordering on Belgium in the south and on Germany in the east. The capital is 's Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch); other cities include Tilburg, Eindhoven, and Breda.
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, LimburgLimburg
, province (1994 pop. 1,125,200), c.850 sq mi (2,200 sq km), SE Netherlands, bordering on Belgium in the west and south and Germany in the east. Maastricht, on the Meuse (Maas) River, is the province's capital and chief industrial center.
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, GelderlandGelderland,
, or Guelders
, province (1994 pop. 1,851,400), c.1,940 sq mi (5,000 sq km), E central Netherlands. It borders on Germany in the east. Arnhem, the capital, as well as Nijmegen and Apeldoorn are the chief cities.
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, UtrechtUtrecht
, province (1994 pop. 1,056,000), c.500 sq mi (1,290 sq km), central Netherlands. Utrecht (the capital) and Amersfoort are the chief cities. It largely comprises low-lying land and is drained by the Lower Rhine (Neder Rijn) River.
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, FlevolandFlevoland,
province (1994 pop. 253,700), 931 sq mi (2,412 sq km), central Netherlands, on the E shore of the Markermeer and IJsselmeer. Lelystad is the capital; other cities include Almere and Emmeloord.
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, OverijsselOverijssel
, province (1994 pop. 1,044,600), c,1,500 sq mi (3,885 sq km), E central Netherlands; it borders on Germany in the east. Zwolle is the capital; other cities include Almelo, Deventer, Enschede, Kampen, and Zutphen.
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, and DrentheDrenthe
, province (1994 pop. 451,400), c.1,030 sq mi (2,670 sq km), NE Netherlands, bordering Germany in the east. Assen is the capital, and Emmen is the chief industrial center. The province is comprised largely of heath country where farming is pursued.
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. The country is mostly low-lying. About 40% of it is situated below sea level and comprises territory (mostly in the western part of the country) reclaimed from the sea since the 13th cent. and guarded by dunes and dikes. The land is crossed by drainage canals, and the main rivers, the Scheldt, Maas (Fr., Meuse), IJssel, Waal, and Lower Rhine, are canalized and interconnected by artificial waterways, linked with the river and canal systems of Belgium and Germany. The Scheldt estuary includes the former islands of Walcheren, North Beveland, and South Beveland. The West Frisian Islands are located off the northern coast of the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is extremely densely populated. The maritime provinces include many of the famous cities of the Netherlands—Amsterdam and RotterdamRotterdam
, city (1994 pop. 598,521), South Holland prov., W Netherlands, on the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse) River near its mouth on the North Sea. One of the largest and most modern ports in the world, Rotterdam is the major foreign-trade center of the Netherlands and its second
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 (the chief ports) and The Hague, LeidenLeiden
or Leyden
, city (1994 pop. 114,892), South Holland prov., W Netherlands, on the Old Rhine (Oude Rijn) River. Manufactures include medical equipment, machinery, graphic arts, and food products. The famous State Univ.
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, DelftDelft
, city (1994 pop. 91,941), South Holland prov., W Netherlands. It has varied industries and is noted for its ceramics (china, tiles, and pottery) known as delftware. Founded in the 11th cent.
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, Utrecht, DordrechtDordrecht
or Dort
, city (1994 pop. 113,394), South Holland prov., SW Netherlands, at the point where the Lower Merwede divides to form the Noord and Oude Maas (Old Meuse) rivers.
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, SchiedamSchiedam
, city (1994 pop. 72,515), South Holland prov., W Netherlands, on the Nieuwe Maas (New Meuse) River, near Rotterdam. It is famous for its gin, which is widely exported. There are also shipyards and factories that manufacture chemicals, glass, and lumber.
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, and VlissingenVlissingen
or Flushing
, city (1994 pop. 44,211), Zeeland prov., SW Netherlands, on the southern coast of the former island of Walcheren. Its manufactures include shipbuilding, chemicals, and gears.
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 (Flushing). In addition, AlkmaarAlkmaar
, city (1994 pop. 92,962), North Holland prov., NW Netherlands. It is an important market town with varied industries. Alkmaar also attracts tourists, especially because of the famous Edam-cheese market, held weekly in front of the 16th-century weighhouse.
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, GoudaGouda
, city (1994 pop. 69,917), South Holland prov., W Netherlands, at the confluence of the Gouwe and Hollandsche IJssel rivers. Gouda is famous for its cheese. Other products include smoking pipes, textiles, candles, pottery, flax, and hemp.
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, and EdamEdam
, town (1994 pop. 25,640), North Holland prov., N central Netherlands, on the Markermeer; chartered 1357. It is a picturesque town that attracts many tourists. Edam is noted for its cheese.
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 are internationally known as cheese markets, and HaarlemHaarlem
, city (1994 pop. 150,213), capital of North Holland prov., W Netherlands, on the Spaarne River, near the North Sea. Although an industrial center with shipyards, machinery plants, and textile mills, Haarlem is chiefly noted as the center of a famous flower-growing
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 is the center of the flower-raising district. The inland provinces have generally poor and sandy soil. Leading cities include BredaBreda
, city (1994 pop. 129,125), North Brabant prov., S Netherlands, at the confluence of the Mark and Aa rivers. It is an industrial and transportation center. Manufactures include machinery, textiles, and canned foods. Breda was founded by the 11th cent.
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, 's Hertogenbosch's Hertogenbosch
, Fr. Bois-le-Duc, city (1994 pop. 95,448), capital of North Brabant prov., S central Netherlands, at the confluence of the Dommel and Aa rivers. It is an industrial and transportation center with a large cattle market.
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, EindhovenEindhoven
, city (1994 pop. 196,130), North Brabant prov., S Netherlands, on the Dommel River. It is an industrial center and rail junction. Chartered in 1232, Eindhoven was a small town until the founding (1891) of the Philips Electrical Company; then the city rapidly expanded.
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, and TilburgTilburg
, city (1994 pop. 163,383), North Brabant prov., S Netherlands, near the Belgian border. Long a major center of the woolen textile industry, Tilburg also produces chemicals, printing supplies, filtration membranes, and automobiles and is the headquarters for several
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 in North Brabant; MaastrichtMaastricht
, city (1994 pop. 118,102), capital of Limburg prov., SE Netherlands, on the Maas (Meuse) River and on the Albert Canal system. It is an important rail and river transportation point and an industrial center.
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 and HeerlenHeerlen
, city (1994 pop. 95,794), Limburg prov., SE Netherlands. It is an industrial and transportation center. Manufactures include textiles and food products. The city was a major coal-mining center from the late 19th cent. to the early 1970s, when mining operations were closed.
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 in Limburg; and ArnhemArnhem
, Ger. Arnheim, city (1994 pop. 133,670), capital of Gelderland prov., E Netherlands, a port on the Lower Rhine. It is an industrial, transportation, and tourist center. Textiles, electrical equipment, metal goods, and ships are manufactured.
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 and NijmegenNijmegen
, city (1994 pop. 147,018), Gelderland prov., E Netherlands, on the Waal River, near the German border. It is a rail and water transportation point and an industrial center. Its manufactures include metal products, paper, clothing, and soap.
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 in Gelderland.

Linguistic conformity to Dutch, the official language, is complete except in Friesland, where Frisian is spoken in places. After the Netherlands obtained independence in the late 16th cent., it became largely Protestant. Now, however, Roman Catholics, concentrated in the southern provinces, make up the largest religious group (31%), while about 20% are Protestant. Muslims are a small but growing minority; some 40% of the population claims no religious affiliation. The archbishop of Utrecht is the Roman Catholic primate of the Netherlands.


Agriculture, which engages only a small percentage of the workforce, is specialized, mechanized, and efficient, and yields per acre are high. The major crops are truck-farm commodities, sugar beets, potatoes, and grains. Cattle and poultry are raised and dairy farming is important; the country is known for its cheese industry. Horticultural production (especially bulbs) and fishing are also important, as is tourism.

The Netherlands is heavily industrialized. The chief industries are food processing, petroleum refining, and the manufacture of chemicals, electrical machinery, metal products, and electronics. The country's few natural resources include coal, natural gas, and petroleum. A considerable amount of the country's wealth is contributed annually by financial and transportation services. Amsterdam is one of the world's major financial centers, and Rotterdam is one of the world's busiest ports. The Netherlands has a large foreign trade. The main exports are machinery, chemicals, natural gas, processed foods, and horticultural products. Imports include machinery, transportation equipment, chemicals, fuels, foodstuffs, and clothing. The main trading partners are Germany, Belgium, France, and Great Britain.


The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy governed under the constitution of 1815 as amended. The hereditary monarch is the head of state; the prime minister is the head of government. There is a bicameral legislature, the States General. Members of the deliberative upper house, the 75-seat First Chamber, are elected by the 12 provincial councils. Members of the more powerful lower house, the 150-seat Second Chamber, are popularly elected. All legislators serve four-year terms. The royal succession is settled on the house of Orange (see NassauNassau
, former duchy, W central Germany, situated N and E of the Main and Rhine rivers. It is now mostly included in the state of Hesse, and partly in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
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), which adheres to the Dutch Reformed Church. Administratively, the country is divided into 12 provinces.


The Rise of the Netherlands

One of the Low CountriesLow Countries,
region of NW Europe comprising the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The northern parts of the Netherlands and Belgium form a low plain bordering on the North Sea, but S Belgium and Luxembourg are part of the Ardennes plateau.
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, the Netherlands did not have a unified history until the late 15th cent. The region west of the Rhine formed part of the Roman province of Lower Germany and was inhabited by the BataviBatavi
, ancient Germanic tribe that settled (1st cent. B.C.) in the Rhine delta. Batavian regiments served under Rome, although this relationship was interrupted in A.D. 70 by the anti-Roman conspiracy of Civilis, one of their leaders.
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; to the east of the Rhine were the Frisians. Nearly the entire area was taken (4th–8th cent.) by the Franks, and with the breakup of the Carolingian empire, most of it passed (9th cent.) to the east Frankish (i.e., German) kingdom and thus to the Holy Roman Empire.

The counts of HollandHolland,
former county of the Holy Roman Empire and, from 1579 to 1795, chief member of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Its name is popularly applied to the entire Netherlands. Holland has been divided since 1840 into two provinces, North Holland and South Holland.
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 emerged as the most powerful medieval lords of the region, next to their southern neighbors, the dukes of BrabantBrabant, duchy of,
former duchy, divided between Belgium (Brabant and Antwerp provs.) and the Netherlands (North Brabant prov.). Louvain, Brussels, and Antwerp were its chief cities. The duchy of Brabant emerged (1190) from the duchy of Lower Lorraine.
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 and the counts of FlandersFlanders
, former county in the Low Countries, extending along the North Sea and W of the Scheldt (Escaut) River. It is divided among East Flanders and West Flanders provs., Belgium; Nord and Pas-de-Calais depts., France; and (to a small extent) Zeeland prov., the Netherlands.
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. In the 14th and 15th cent., Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Gelderland, and Brabant passed to the powerful dukes of BurgundyBurgundy
, Fr. Bourgogne , historic region, E France. The name once applied to a large area embracing several kingdoms, a free county (see Franche-Comté), and a duchy.
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, who controlled virtually all the Low Countries. Though the Dutch towns and ports were slower in economic development than the flourishing commercial and industrial centers of Flanders and Brabant, they began to rival them in the 15th cent. They nearly all belonged to the Hanseatic LeagueHanseatic League
, mercantile league of medieval German towns. It was amorphous in character; its origin cannot be dated exactly. Originally a Hansa was a company of merchants trading with foreign lands.
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 and enjoyed vast autonomous privileges.

In 1477, Mary of BurgundyMary of Burgundy,
1457–82, wife of Maximilian of Austria (later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I), daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The marriage of Mary was a major event in European history, for it established the Hapsburgs in the Low Countries and
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 by the Great Privilege restored all the liberties deprived by her predecessors. Her marriage to the Archduke Maximilian (later Emperor Maximilian IMaximilian I,
1459–1519, Holy Roman emperor and German king (1493–1519), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. As emperor, he aspired to restore forceful imperial leadership and inaugurate much-needed administrative reforms in the increasingly
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) brought the Low Countries into the house of Hapsburg. Emperor Charles V gave them (1555) to his son Philip IIPhilip II,
1527–98, king of Spain (1556–98), king of Naples and Sicily (1554–98), and, as Philip I, king of Portugal (1580–98). Philip's Reign
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 of Spain. By that time the northern provinces (i.e., the present Netherlands) had reached economic prosperity.

Revolt in the Netherlands

The inroads of CalvinismCalvinism,
term used in several different senses. It may indicate the teachings expressed by John Calvin himself; it may be extended to include all that developed from his doctrine and practice in Protestant countries in social, political, and ethical, as well as theological,
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 were helping to distinguish the Low Countries from Catholic Spain; the nobles, supported by many of the people for economic and religious reasons, demanded greater autonomy for the provinces in addition to the removal of Spanish officials. Philip's attempt, first through Cardinal GranvelleGranvelle, Antoine Perrenot de
, 1517–86, statesman in the service of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and of King Philip II of Spain; cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
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 and then through the duke of AlbaAlba or Alva, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, duque de
, b. 1507 or 1508, d. 1582, Spanish general and administrator.
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, to introduce the Spanish Inquisition and reduce the Low Countries to a Spanish province met determined opposition from among all classes of the population—Catholics and Protestants alike.

The struggle for the Low Countries' independence began (1562–66) in Flanders and Brabant. The northern provinces, under the leadership of William the SilentWilliam the Silent
or William of Orange
(William I, prince of Orange), 1533–84, Dutch statesman, principal founder of Dutch independence. Early Life
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, prince of Orange, succeeded (1572–74) in expelling the Spanish garrisons. The Low Countries united under William in their struggle against Spain in the Pacification of GhentGhent
, Du. Gent, Fr. Gand, city (1991 pop. 230,246), capital of East Flanders prov., W Belgium, at the confluence of the Scheldt and Leie rivers. Connected with the North Sea by the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal and by a network of other canals, Ghent is a major port and
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Alessandro FarneseFarnese, Alessandro
, 1545–92, duke of Parma and Piacenza (1586–92), general and diplomat in the service of Philip II of Spain. He was the son of Duke Ottavio Farnese and Margaret of Parma and thus a nephew of Philip II and of John of Austria, under whom he
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, who in 1578 succeeded John of Austria as Spanish governor, reconquered the southern provinces, which remained in Spanish possession (see Netherlands, Austrian and SpanishNetherlands, Austrian and Spanish,
that part of the Low Countries that, from 1482 until 1794, remained under the control of the imperial house of Hapsburg. The area corresponds roughly to modern Belgium and Luxembourg.
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) and were gradually reconverted to Catholicism. The river barriers were crucial in protecting the rebellion and the Protestant religion of the north. The seven northern provinces—Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel, Friesland, and Groningen—formed (1579) the Union of Utrecht and declared (1581) their independence.

William the Silent, assassinated in 1584, was succeeded as stadtholder (chief of state) by his son, Maurice of NassauMaurice of Nassau
, 1567–1625, prince of Orange (1618–25); son of William the Silent by Anne of Saxony. He became stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland after the assassination (1584) of his father.
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, who was at first guided by Johan van OldenbarneveldtOldenbarneveldt, Johan van
, 1547–1619, Dutch statesman. He aided William the Silent in the struggle for Dutch independence from Spain and opposed the dictatorial policy set by Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, chosen by the States-General as governor-general in 1586.
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. An English expedition under Robert Dudley, earl of LeicesterLeicester, Robert Dudley, earl of
, 1532?–1588, English courtier and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. A younger son of John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, he was early brought into the society of Edward VI and Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth.
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, to aid the Dutch against Farnese was ineffectual; later Maurice won important successes, and in 1609 a 12-year truce was concluded with SpinolaSpinola, Ambrogio
, 1569–1630, Spanish general, b. Italy, of a noble Genoese family. In 1602, Spinola entered Spanish service in the Netherlands. He took (1604) Ostend from Maurice of Nassau after a long siege and then carried the war into the northern provinces.
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, the Spanish commander.

The United Provinces

Fighting with Spain was resumed in the Thirty Years War (1618–48), after which the independence of the United Provinces—as the independent Netherlands was then called—was recognized in the Peace of Westphalia (1648). Spain also ceded North Brabant, with Breda, and part of Limburg, with Maastricht. Still struggling for independence and involved in religious contention between Calvinists and RemonstrantsRemonstrants
, Dutch Protestants, adherents to the ideas of Jacobus Arminius, whose doctrines after his death (1609) were called Arminianism. They were Calvinists but were more liberal and less dogmatic than orthodox Calvinists and diverged from the teachings of the Dutch
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, the Dutch laid the foundation of their commercial and colonial empire.

The Dutch East India Company (see East India Company, DutchEast India Company, Dutch,
1602–1798, chartered by the States-General of the Netherlands to expand trade and assure close relations between the government and its colonial enterprises in Asia.
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) was founded in 1602, the Dutch West India CompanyDutch West India Company,
trading and colonizing company, chartered by the States-General of the Dutch republic in 1621 and organized in 1623. Through its agency New Netherland was founded.
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 in 1621. The decline of Antwerp under Spanish rule and the right (awarded to the Dutch in the Peace of Westphalia) to control the Scheldt estuary gave supremacy to the Dutch ports, particularly Amsterdam. Dutch merchants traded in every continent (including exclusive privileges in Japan), and captured the major share of the world's carrying trade. The United Provinces opened their doors to religious refugees, notably to Portuguese and Spanish Jews and to French HuguenotsHuguenots
, French Protestants, followers of John Calvin. The term is derived from the German Eidgenossen, meaning sworn companions or confederates. Origins

Prior to Calvin's publication in 1536 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion,
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, which contributed vastly to the prosperity of 17th-century Holland.

With material wealth came a cultural golden age. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jacob van Ruisdael, Frans Hals, and others carried Dutch artDutch art,
the art of the region that is now the Netherlands. As a distinct national style, this art dates from about the turn of the 17th cent., when the country emerged as a political entity and developed a clearly independent culture.
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 to its peak. The Univ. of LeidenLeiden, University of,
at Leiden, the Netherlands; founded 1575 by William the Silent, Prince of Orange. It became a state institution in the 19th cent. It has faculties of theology, law, medicine, science, arts, social science, philosophy, and geography and prehistory.
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 won world acclaim; the philosophers Descartes and Spinoza and the jurist Grotius were active in the United Provinces.

Prince Frederick HenryFrederick Henry,
1584–1647, prince of Orange; son of William the Silent by Louise de Coligny. He became stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands upon the death (1625) of his brother Maurice of Nassau.
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, who had succeeded his brother Maurice in 1625 as stadtholder, was in turn succeeded by his son, Prince William IIWilliam II,
1626–50, prince of Orange, stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands (1647–50), son and successor of Frederick Henry. He married (1641) Mary, eldest daughter of Charles I of England.
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, in 1647. His death in 1650 signaled the opponents of the house of Orange to reassert the rights of the provinces and the States-General. Jan de WittWitt, Jan de
, 1625–72, Dutch statesman. Like his father, Jacob de Witt, burgomaster of Dort, he became a leading opponent of the house of Orange and played a vital role in the three successive Dutch Wars.
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, the political leader of the estates of Holland, was chosen (1652) grand pensionary and led the Dutch republic for the next 20 years. To prevent Prince William III of Orange (son of William II) from regaining the authority of his father, de Witt by the Eternal Edict (1667) abolished the office of stadtholder in Holland and secured the virtual exclusion of the house of Orange from state affairs.

A Succession of Wars

De Witt's administration was largely encompassed by the Dutch WarsDutch Wars,
series of conflicts between the English and Dutch during the mid to late 17th cent. The wars had their roots in the Anglo-Dutch commercial rivalry, although the last of the three wars was a wider conflict in which French interests played a primary role.
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 with England (1652–54, 1664–67), arising out of the first of the English Navigation ActsNavigation Acts,
in English history, name given to certain parliamentary legislation, more properly called the British Acts of Trade. The acts were an outgrowth of mercantilism, and followed principles laid down by Tudor and early Stuart trade regulations.
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 (1651) and the Dutch-English commercial rivalry. The Treaty of Breda (1667) was advantageous to the Netherlands; it gained trade privileges and had its possession of Suriname recognized. The Netherlands reached the peak of political power when, by forming (1668) the Triple AllianceTriple Alliance,
in European history, any of several coalitions. 1 The Triple Alliance of 1668 was formed by the Netherlands, England, and Sweden against France after Louis XIV had invaded the Spanish Netherlands in the War of Devolution.
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 with Sweden and England, it forced Louis XIV of France to halt the War of Devolution against Spain.

Louis XIV took revenge by starting (1672) the third of the Dutch Wars, in which the French overran the Netherlands. In defense, the Dutch opened their dikes and flooded the country, creating a watery barrier that was virtually impenetrable. De Witt sought to negotiate peace but was murdered (1672) by a mob of Orange followers. The stadtholderate was restored to William IIIWilliam III,
1650–1702, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1689–1702); son of William II, prince of Orange, stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and of Mary, oldest daughter of King Charles I of England.
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 (after 1689 also king of England). The war devastated the provinces, but in the Treaty of Nijmegen (1678–79) the Dutch obtained important concessions from France.

The Netherlands again fought Louis XIV in the War of the Grand AllianceGrand Alliance, War of the,
1688–97, war between France and a coalition of European powers, known as the League of Augsburg (and, after 1689, as the Grand Alliance).
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 (1688–97) and in the War of the Spanish SuccessionSpanish Succession, War of the,
1701–14, last of the general European wars caused by the efforts of King Louis XIV to extend French power. The conflict in America corresponding to the period of the War of the Spanish Succession was known as Queen Anne's War (see French and
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. On the death (1702) of William III the stadtholderate was again suspended and the States-General resumed control of the government, but in 1747 the republican party lost power, and William IV of Orange became hereditary stadtholder. In the 18th cent. the relative commercial, military, and cultural positions of the United Provinces in Europe declined as those of England and France ascended. The Netherlands sided against England in the American Revolution and as a result lost several colonies at the Treaty of Paris of 1783 (see Paris, Treaty ofParis, Treaty of,
any of several important treaties, signed at or near Paris, France. The Treaty of 1763

The Treaty of Paris of Feb. 10, 1763, was signed by Great Britain, France, and Spain.
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A patriotic movement by J. D. van der Capellen (1741–84) began to popularize the ideas of the Enlightenment; when in the French Revolutionary Wars the French overran (1794–95) the Netherlands, there was much popular approval. William V fled abroad, and the Batavian RepublicBatavian Republic,
name for the Netherlands in the years (1795–1806) following conquest by the French during the French Revolutionary Wars. The United Provinces of the Netherlands were reconstituted as the Batavian Republic in 1795 and remained under French occupation and
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 was set up (1795) under French protection. In 1806, Napoleon I established the Kingdom of Holland and made his brother Louis Bonaparte (see under BonaparteBonaparte
, Ital. Buonaparte , family name of Napoleon I, emperor of the French. Parentage

Napoleon's father, Carlo Buonaparte, 1746–85, a petty Corsican nobleman, was a lawyer in Ajaccio.
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, family) its first king. Bonaparte was deposed in 1810, and the kingdom was annexed by France, whereby French legal, financial, and educational reforms pervaded the Netherlands.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands

At the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) the former United Provinces and the former Austrian Netherlands were united under King William IWilliam I,
1772–1843, first king of the Netherlands and grand duke of Luxembourg (1815–40), son of Prince William V of Orange, last stadtholder of the Netherlands.
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, son of William V of Orange. In 1830, however, the former Austrian provinces (Belgium), whose language, religion, and culture differed from those of the Dutch, rebelled against Dutch rule and declared independence. An agreement between Belgium and the Netherlands was reached only in 1839 (see London ConferenceLondon Conference,
several international conferences held at London, England, in the 19th and 20th cent. The following list includes only the most important of these meetings.
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). William I was forced to abdicate in 1840 and was succeeded by William IIWilliam II,
1792–1849, king of the Netherlands and grand duke of Luxembourg (1840–49), son and successor of William I. He served with Wellington in the Peninsular War, was wounded at Waterloo, and led the Dutch army in the Belgian revolution (1830), after his father
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, under whom Jan ThorbeckeThorbecke, Jan Rudolf
, 1798–1872, Dutch statesman. An eminent jurist and the leading liberal politician of his day, he was one of the men appointed in 1848 by King William II to revise the constitution.
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 introduced important constitutional reforms in 1848.

Under William IIIWilliam III,
1817–90, king of the Netherlands and grand duke of Luxembourg (1849–90), son and successor of William II. William III ruled as a constitutional monarch, and his long reign was unmarred by friction with the States-General.
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 (1849–90) the Netherlands enjoyed a period of commercial expansion and internal development. The Industrial Revolution progressed rapidly after 1860. Trade unionism grew in the late 19th cent., and considerable national social-welfare legislation was passed. At the same time the country's cultural life flourished, led by the painter Vincent van Gogh, the writer Louis Couperus, and others.

In 1890, Queen WilhelminaWilhelmina
, 1880–1962, queen of the Netherlands (1890–1948), daughter and successor of William III. Her mother, Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont, was regent until 1898. Wilhelmina married (1901) Prince Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (d.
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 began her reign of almost 60 years. The Netherlands was neutral in World War I. In 1932, a 19-mi (31-km) dam was completed; it enclosed the Zuider Zee and thus created the IJsselmeerIJsselmeer
, shallow freshwater lake, NW Netherlands, bordering on the provinces of North Holland, Flevoland, and Friesland. It was formed from the old Zuider Zee by the construction of a dam (completed 1932).
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, a large freshwater lake. A number of large polders, including the Northeast Polder and Eastern and Southern Flevoland, were later reclaimed from the IJsselmeer.

In World War II, Germany invaded (May, 1940) the Netherlands without warning, crushed Dutch resistance, and wantonly destroyed Rotterdam. The queen and her government fled abroad. German occupation authorities, headed by Arthur Seyss-Inquart, established a reign of terror; underground resistance led to mass executions and deportations. Of the approximately 112,000 Dutch Jews, about 104,000 were deported to Poland by the Germans and exterminated. Allied airborne landings (1944) at Arnhem and Eindhoven liberated Zeeland, North Brabant, and Limburg provinces.

The Postwar Years

The German collapse in May, 1945, was followed by the immediate return of the queen and the cabinet. The Netherlands became a charter member of the United Nations (1945) and in 1947 joined in a close alliance with Belgium and Luxembourg, which became (1958) the Benelux Economic UnionBenelux Economic Union
, economic treaty among Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. It arose out of a customs convention signed in 1944, but was not fully established until 1958.
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. The country also participated actively in the development of the organizations that came to be the European Union, and in 1949 joined the North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO), established under the North Atlantic Treaty (Apr. 4, 1949) by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States.
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Queen Wilhelmina abdicated (1948) in favor of her daughter, JulianaJuliana
, 1909–2004, queen of the Netherlands (1948–80). She succeeded on the abdication of her mother, Queen Wilhelmina. A popular monarch, she married (1937) Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld (1911–2004), with whom she had four daughters.
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, who continued to rule with a coalition cabinet dominated by the Catholic and Labor parties. In 1959 a new coalition excluding the Labor party was formed, and similar coalitions primarily held power into the 1970s.

The Netherlands gave IndonesiaIndonesia
, officially Republic of Indonesia, republic (2005 est. pop. 241,974,000), c.735,000 sq mi (1,903,650 sq km), SE Asia, in the Malay Archipelago. The fourth most populous country in the world, Indonesia comprises more than 13,000 islands extending c.
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 independence in 1949, and in 1962 relinquished Netherlands New Guinea (now PapuaPapua
or Irian Jaya
, province (2014 est pop. 3,486,000), 123,180 sq mi (319,036 sq km), Indonesia. Comprising most of the western half of New Guinea and a number of offshore islands, it is Indonesia's largest province; the extreme western peninsulas and offshore
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) to Indonesia. Despite the loss of the eastern empire and the catastrophic floodings in the North Sea storms of 1953, the Dutch economy expanded in the 1950s and 60s. Industry was enlarged significantly. After the 1953 floods, the 25-year Delta Project was begun. As a result of the project, WalcherenWalcheren
, region, Zeeland prov., SW Netherlands, on the North Sea at the entrance to the Scheldt estuary. Middelburg is the chief city and is also the capital of Zeeland prov. Vlissingen is also important.
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 and North and South BevelandBeveland, North, and South Beveland
, peninsula developed from the above former islands, Zeeland prov., SW Netherlands, in the Scheldt estuary.
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 were joined to the mainland and ceased to be islands.

Considerable controversy surrounded the marriage (1966) of Crown Princess Beatrix to Claus von Amsberg, a former German diplomat who had served in the German army in World War II. In 1967, Princess Beatrix gave birth to a son, Willem-AlexanderWillem-Alexander,
1967–, king of the Netherlands, eldest son of Queen Beatrix. He served (1985–87) in the navy and graduated (1993)from Leiden Univ.; he has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1998.
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, the first male heir in line of succession since 1884.

In the early 1970s the Netherlands enjoyed material prosperity and considerable influence in European affairs. The country suffered, however, from a ban on the sale of petroleum imposed by Arab nations in the wake of the Arab-Israeli War of Oct., 1973, in retaliation for the Netherlands' traditional friendship with Israel. The embargo was lifted in mid-1974. SurinameSuriname
, officially Republic of Suriname, republic (2005 est. pop. 438,000), 63,037 sq mi (163,266 sq km), NE South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Guiana region, it is separated from Brazil on the south by the Tumuc-Humac Mts.
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 was granted independence in 1975.

In 1980, Queen Juliana was succeeded by Queen BeatrixBeatrix
, 1938–, queen of the Netherlands (1980–2013). The oldest daughter of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, she received a law degree from the Univ. of Leyden (1961).
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. In 1981, Prime Minister Van Agt's support for deploying U.S. cruise missiles on Dutch territory caused an intense public outcry. He was defeated in the 1982 elections, and Ruud Lubbers became the next prime minister, primarily through a coalition of Christian Democrats and Liberals. The Netherlands population increasingly protested against the presence of foreign armaments on their soil, and in the late 1980s nearly 4 million Dutch citizens signed an antimissile petition.

Lubbers formed his third government in Nov., 1989. During the 1991 Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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 the Netherlands sent two marine frigates to aid the anti-Iraq coalition forces. In the 1994 elections the Christian Democrats and their coalition partner, the Labor party, lost seats. With some difficulty a new coalition government of left- and right-wing parties was formed and Labor party leader Wim Kok became prime minister. In early 1995 unusually heavy flooding along major rivers necessitated massive evacuations in the country.

Also in 1995, Dutch peacekeepers under UN auspices were overwhelmed by Serb forces in the Bosniak-held town of Srebrenica; the Serbs subsequently massacred Bosnia civilians. Several investigations were launched into the role played by the peacekeepers. An independent investigation that released its report in 2002 said that UN and Dutch political and military officials shared some of the blame for placing peacekeeping forces in an untenable position, and Prime Minister Kok's government resigned to accept responsibility.

In the subsequent election campaign (May, 2002), the right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn, who ran on an anti-immigrant platform, was assassinated, stunning the nation. Voters subsequently veered to the right, giving conservative and rightist parties a majority of the seats in the new parliament. A center-right government, headed by Christian Democrat Jan Peter Balkenende and including Fortuyn's party, was formed in July, but the coalition collapsed in October.

Elections in Jan., 2003, gave the Christian Democrats and Labor nearly the same number of seats (44 and 42, respectively) and resulted in significant losses for the Pim Fortuyn List (LPF). Balkenende remained prime minister, but the new center-right government excluded the LPF. Dutch voters strongly rejected a proposed new constitution for the European Union in 2005; voters appeared to resent a likely loss of Dutch influence under the new charter despite their country's sizable contributions to the EU.

Balkenende's government fell in June, 2006, when one of the member parties withdrew over a government minister's tough handling of a Somali-born Dutch politician's citizenship case. In November, the parliamentary elections resulted in some lost seats for the Christian Democrats as both far-right and far-left parties increased their seats. Although the Christian Democrats nonetheless remained the largest party, neither the governing coalition nor that aligned with Labor secured a majority in parliament. In Feb., 2007, Balkenende formed a new, centrist coalition government that included Labor.

Disagreement over whether to further extend the deployment of Dutch troops with NATO forces in Afghanistan led to the collapse of the government in Feb., 2010, and elections were scheduled for June. The elections were a major defeat for the Christian Democrats, who lost half their seats; the anti-Islamic and Eurosceptic Freedom party won more seats and placed third. The Liberals won, but secured only one more seat than Labor, and politically the new parliament was very fragmented. In October the Liberals and Christian Democrats agreed to form a minority conservative coalition government with the support of the Freedom party. Liberal Mark RutteRutte, Mark
, 1967–, Dutch politician, prime minister of the Netherlands (2010–), b. The Hague. He studied at Leiden Univ. (M.A., 1992), where he joined the youth organization of the conservative-leaning Liberal party (VVD).
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 became prime minister. In Apr., 2012, the government collapsed after it could not get Freedom party support to pass an austerity budget; the budget ultimately was passed with the support of other parties. In the September elections, the Liberals and Labor won the largest blocs of seats, and subsequently formed a coalition government with Rutte as prime minister. Queen Beatrix abdicated in Mar., 2013; King Willem-AlexanderWillem-Alexander,
1967–, king of the Netherlands, eldest son of Queen Beatrix. He served (1985–87) in the navy and graduated (1993)from Leiden Univ.; he has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1998.
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 succeeded her. In the Mar., 2017, parliamentary elections Rutte's party placed first and the Freedom party second; 13 parties won seats.


See P. J. Blok, History of the People of the Netherlands (5 vol., tr. 1898–1912, repr. 1970); P. Geyl, The Revolt of the Netherlands (2d ed. 1958); S. Schama, Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands 1780–1813 (1977); A. Vandenbosch, Dutch Foreign Policy Since 1815 (1981); S. Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (1987); A. Hopkins, Holland (1988); H. H. Rowen, The Princes of Orange (1988); J. Israel, Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585–1740 (1989); J. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall, 1477–1806 (1995).



(also Low Countries), during the Middle Ages, a region in northwestern Europe, lying between the North Sea and the Ardennes, in the basins of the Rhine, Maas, and Scheldt rivers. It is the area today occupied by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and a small part of northeastern France.

Prior to the 14th and 15th centuries the Netherlands were not a unified political entity but were divided into many feudal domains. Foremost among them were the duchies of Brabant, Limburg, Luxemburg, and Gelder; the counties of Flanders, Artois, Hainaut, and Holland; the bishopric of Utrecht; and the seignories of Zeeland, Friesland, and Groningen. Most of these lands were first united during the 14th and 15th centuries by the Burgundian dukes, becoming part of an extensive Burgundian state. After the state disintegrated, the region came under Hapsburg rule at the end of the 15th century.

Under Charles V, Friesland and several other lands were annexed to the Hapsburg possessions in the Netherlands. In 1548 all the Netherlands, constituting the “Burgundian circle” of the Holy Roman Empire, were proclaimed to be one indivisible group of lands comprising 17 provinces. Although sovereignty over the Netherlands rested with the Hapsburg rulers, the region was administered by vicegerents, called stadholders, under whom was the State Council consisting for the most part of members of the native aristocracy. The highest representative body of the estates was the States General. Most of the central administrative bodies were concentrated in Brussels.

A number of factors combined to make the Netherlands an important center of Western European culture and learning: the early and intensive development of cities, especially in Flanders and Brabant; the cities’ strong international ties; the clash between the feudal-chivalric order and the merchant-artisan socioeconomic system, which was steadily growing stronger (becoming a bourgeois system during the 15th and 16th centuries); and the Netherlands’ position between France and Germany, between Romance and Germanic influences. Many important medieval philosophers were natives of the Netherlands, notably Siger of Brabant, Henry of Ghent, William of Moerbeke, Godfrey of Fontaines, Jan van Ruysbroeck, Geert Groote, and Thomas à Kempis, as well as the leader of northern European humanism during the Renaissance, Erasmus of Rotterdam. Literature in both French and Netherlandic flourished. A school of architecture and art and a school of music developed, whose importance extended far beyond the borders of the Netherlands. Despite the vestiges of political fragmentation and the lack of national-linguistic homogeneity, the Netherlands culture is generally regarded as a unified whole until the late 16th century.

In 1556, after the disintegration of Charles V’s empire, the Netherlands passed to the Spanish king Philip II. The early development of capitalist relations in the Netherlands and economic, political, and religious oppression by Spanish absolutism precipitated an early bourgeois revolution. After the revolution, which was victorious only in the northern part of the country, the north and south separated. A sovereign state—the bourgeois Republic of the United Provinces (Dutch Republic)—was formed in the north. The south, which remained under Spanish rule, came to be called the Spanish Netherlands, and when the region passed to Austria after the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), it was called the Austrian Netherlands. In 1814–15, at the Congress of Vienna, both parts of the former Netherlands were united to form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in which the southern provinces were under Dutch domination. As a result of the Belgian revolution of 1830, the southern Netherlands formed an independent state, called Belgium, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands became the official name of the northern Netherlands.



Official name: Kingdom of the Netherlands

Capital city: Amsterdam

Internet country code: .nl

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and blue; similar to the flag of Luxembourg, which uses a lighter blue and is longer; one of the oldest flags in constant use, originating with William I, Prince of Orange, in the latter half of the 16th century

National anthem: “Wilhelmus”

Geographical description: Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany

Total area: 16,485 sq. mi. (41,526 sq. km.)

Climate: Temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters

Nationality: noun: Dutchman(men), Dutchwoman(women); adjective: Dutch

Population: 16,570,613 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Dutch 83%, other 17% (of which 9% are non-Western origin, mainly Turks, Moroccans, Antilleans, Surinamese, and Indonesians)

Languages spoken: Dutch, Frisian

Religions: Roman Catholic 31%, Dutch Reformed 13%, Calvinist 7%, Muslim 5.5%, other 2.5%, none 41%

Legal Holidays:

Christmas DayDec 25
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 9, 2012; Apr 1, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 6, 2015; Mar 28, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 2, 2018; Apr 22, 2019; Apr 13, 2020; Apr 5, 2021; Apr 18, 2022; Apr 10, 2023
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
New Year's DayJan 1
Queen's BirthdayApr 29
Second Day of ChristmasDec 26


1. a kingdom in NW Europe, on the North Sea: declared independence from Spain in 1581 as the United Provinces; became a major maritime and commercial power in the 17th century, gaining many overseas possessions; it formed the Benelux customs union with the Belgium and Luxembourg in 1948 and was a founder member of the Common Market, now the European Union . It is mostly flat and low-lying, with about 40 per cent of the land being below sea level, much of it on polders protected by dykes. Official language: Dutch. Religion: Christian majority, Protestant and Roman Catholic, large nonreligious minority. Currency: euro. Capital: Amsterdam, with the seat of government at The Hague. Pop.: 16 227 000 (2004 est.). Area: 41 526 sq. km (16 033 sq. miles)
2. the kingdom of the Netherlands together with the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, esp as ruled by Spain and Austria before 1581; the Low Countries
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Critique: As informed and informative as it is stunningly beautiful, Marilyn Aronberg Lavin's An Allegory of Divine Love: The Netherlandish Blockbook "Canticum Canticorum" is very highly recommended for academic library collections and would be an enduringly popular Memorial Fund acquisition for community libraries.
Authors Note: There is no catalogue for this exhibition; merely a picture book of some of the best-known Netherlandish paintings in the London National Gallery, few by Mabuse.
A treat it would be to hear as eloquent a writer as Mochizuki on the post-iconoclastic Netherlandish paintings proper, the ones that (unlike the things in the Great Church in Haarlem) give their interpreter more than their interpreter gives to them.
Yet if journeys to mainland Italy may be convincingly deduced from the evidence of encounters with the work of particular masters in Antonello's pictures, his manifest familiarity with Netherlandish painting requires other explanations.
It will no doubt become indispensable to scholars of Netherlandish music and culture, particularly the Burgundian-Habsburg courts of Philip the Fair, Marguerite of Austria, and Charles V.
Carlyle Industries announced that it has acquired Netherlandish button manufacturer and distributor Button Fashion Holland BV.
Familiar to historians of the Counter-Reformation and sixteenth-century Netherlandish art, Molanus' text should also interest medievalists, and not simply on account of the author's vast erudition, which, in addition to embracing almost 800 Greek and Latin authorities, extended to the consultation of images, many of medieval origin.
Unlike English common law, which favored children over widows and son over daughters, Netherlandish custom recognized that ownership of the family estate was shared by both spouses, and favored the rights of the widow over those of her children.
In his concluding overview, he identifies seven regional groupings of the Anabaptist reformation moment: Swiss Brethren; South German and Austrian Anabaptists; Hutterites; Lower German, Netherlandish, English and Prussian Anabaptists following Melchior Hofmann and Menno Simons; the revolutionary Munsterites; North Italian Anabaptists; and Polish-Lithuanian Brethren.
A collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the MFA Houston and the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, 'Pleasure and Piety's showcases 40 of Wtewael's best works, including religious and mythological scenes, and argues for his status as the most important painter working in the Northern Netherlandish mannerist style (Fig.
of Amsterdam) Bakker seeks to explain the importance of landscape in 17th-century Netherlandish painting by starting with what the real landscape, the visible world, meant for people.
In this new work, familiar symbols of mortality--eggs, cut fruit, skulls--resound with echoes of van Beyeren, and the eerie glow of neon light could almost pass (in mood, if not in color) for a steely Netherlandish sky.

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