Part of the European History in Perspective book series (EUROHIP)


The new state which emerged from the Revolt of the Netherlands appears at first glance to be a somewhat haphazard collection of territories thrown together by the accidents of rebellion and war. In the aftermath of the break-up of the short-lived united Kingdom of the Netherlands and the creation of a separate Belgian state after the revolution of 1830, both Dutch and Belgian nationalist historians tried to discover an historical necessity in the existence of two separate states in the Low Countries. Consequently they argued that the earlier division between North and South brought about by the Revolt was similarly the result of fundamental differences not historical accident.1 Later generations of historians have found it rather more difficult to believe that the Dutch and Belgian peoples were already in existence in some sense before the Revolt, and that this national divide determined the political outcome of the movement. As far as the Dutch Republic is concerned, while it may be possible to discern long-term similarities in the social, economic and cultural developments of its constituent provinces, what is more immediately evident is the lack of much natural unity among them. In particular, the actual extent and boundaries of the new state seem more obviously the result of geo-strategic forces than of historical inevitability.2


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  1. 3.
    See James D. Tracy, A Financial Revolution in the Habsburg Netherlands (Berkeley, CA, 1985) and Holland under Habsburg Rule, 1506–66 (Berkeley, CA, 1990)Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    J.W. Koopmans, De Staten van Holland en de Opstand (The Hague, 1990 ).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See Martin van Gelderen, The Political Thought of the Dutch Revolt (Cambridge, 1993).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 8.
    J.I. Israel, Dutch Primacy in World Trade (Oxford, 1989),ch.3.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Pace the advocates of an economic crisis of the 1590s e.g. Peter Clark (ed.), The European Crisis of the 1590s (London, 1985).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Jan de Vries, The Dutch Rural Economy in the Golden Age 1500–1700 (New Haven, CT, 1974)was a pioneer work in arguing for the central importance of the rural sector for Dutch economic growth in this period.Google Scholar
  7. Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic. Its Rise, Greatness and Fall 1477–1806 (Oxford, 1995).Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    Pieter Geyl, The Netherlands in the Seventeenth Century 2 vols (London, 1961–4).Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    K.H.D. Haley, The Dutch in the Seventeenth Century (London, 1972 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© J. L. Price 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HullUK

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