The Impact of a New State in Europe

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


The Dutch Republic was a new state in early seventeenth-century Europe and yet it rose to the position of a major power within only a few decades of its uncertain emergence into independence. Precisely when the Republic can be said to have become an independent state is difficult to say. It could be traced to the risings in the towns of Holland and Zeeland in the summer of 1572, but until the Pacification of Ghent in 1576 they were just a handful of rebellious towns with a very uncertain future, and after this agreement they were a part of a wider political constellation comprising almost the whole of the Habsburg Netherlands but with an almost equally uncertain status. The traditional starting point for the Republic is the signing of the Union of Utrecht in 1579, although this was an alliance for the better prosecution of the war with Spain and not the conscious founding of a new state. Perhaps the rejection in 1585 by Henri III of France and Elizabeth of England respectively of separate offers of sovereignty over the rebel provinces could be marked as the point at which the Dutch decided they had to go it alone, were it not for confusion of their status which resulted from the ambiguities of the governor-generalship of the earl of Leicester. Only after Leicester’s ignominious withdrawal from the Netherlands in 1588 can the Dutch Republic be seen as entering into European history as a fully independent actor.


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Copyright information

© J. L. Price 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HullUK

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