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The Impact of a New State in Europe

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

Abstract

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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Notes

  1. 1.
    For a sympathetic treatment of Leicester’s career in the Netherlands, see F.G. Oosterhoff, Leicester and the Netherlands 1586–87 (Utrecht, 1988 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J.L. Price, ‘A State Dedicated to War? The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century’, in The Medieval Military Revolution, ed. Andrew Ayton and J.L. Price (London, 1995 ), pp. 183–200.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    For the problems which arose with England from Dutch attempts to enforce this blockade, see S. Groenveld, Verlopend getij (Dieren, 1984 ).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    See J.L. van Zanden, The Rise and Decline of Holland’s Economy. Merchant Capitalism and the Labour Market (Manchester, 1993), pp. 71–9.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Cf. J.L. Price, Holland and the Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford, 1994), Part 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 9.
    As in G. Parker, ‘Why did the Dutch Revolt Last So Long?’, in Spain and the Netherlands 1559–1659 (London, 1979), p. 63.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Golo Mann, Wallenstein (Frankfurt am Main, 1971), pp. 499–505;Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    M.E.H.N. Mout, “Holendische Propositiones”. Een Habsburg plan tot vernietiging van handel, visserij en scheepvaart der Republiek (ca. 1625)’, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 95: 3 (1982), 345–62.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Cf. R.J. Evans, The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy 1550–1700 (Oxford, 1979), ch. 6.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    A good example of the confusion in perceptions of national interest which could arise from the conflict between ideological sympathy and other motives can be found in the disagreements over English foreign policy in the 1620s and 1630s, cf. S. Adams, ‘Spain or the Netherlands? The Dilemmas of Early Stuart Foreign Policy’, in H. Tomlinson (ed.), Before the English Civil War (London, 1983 );Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    L.J. Reeve, Charles I and the Road to Personal Rule (London, 1989), ch. 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 13.
    However, the Dutch part in the Thirty Years War has never been comprehensively studied, and remains underplayed in G. Parker (ed.), The Thirty Years War (London, 1984)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    but cf. J.I. Israel, The Dutch Republic and the Hispanic World 1606–1661 (Oxford, 1982 ).Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    J.V. Polisensky, The Thirty Years War (London, 1971), ch. 5, gives rather more consideration to the Dutch, see also the same author’s Tragic Triangle. The Netherlands, Spain and Bohemia 1617–1621 (Prague, 1991).Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Cf. R. Stradling, The Armada of Flanders: Spanish Maritime Policy and European War,1568–1668 (Cambridge, 1992 );CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    R. Baetens, ‘The organization and effects of Flemish privateering in the seventeenth century’, Acta Historiae Neerlandicae, 9 (1976), 48–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 18.
    R. Liesker, Tot zinkens toe bezwaard. De schuldenlast van het Zuiderkwartier van Holland 1672–1794’, in Bestuurders en geleerden, ed. S. Groenveld, M.E.H.N. Mout and I. Schöffer (Amsterdam/Dieren, 1985 ), pp. 151–60.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Cf. P. Geyl, Orange and Stuart (London, 1969), originally published in Dutch in 1939.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    J.I. Israel, however, prefers to stress the economic motivations behind the Holland regents’ decision to take a firmer line both against France and with regard to England at this time, see ‘The Dutch role in the Glorious Revolution’, in The Anglo- Dutch Moment ed. J.I. Israel (Cambridge, 1991), esp. pp. 110–19.Google Scholar
  20. The most up-to-date study is H.L. Zwitzer, ‘De militie van den staat’. Het leger van de Republiek der Verenigde Nederlanden (Amsterdam, 1991).Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    J.R. Bruijn, The Dutch Navy in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Colombia, SC, 1993 ).Google Scholar
  22. 24.
    J. Heringa, De eer en hoogheid van de staat. Over de plaats der Verenigde Nederlanden in het diplomatieke leven van de zeventiende eeuw (Groningen, 1961 ), p. 263.Google Scholar
  23. 25.
    See C.R. Boxer, The Dutch in Brazil,1624–54 (Oxford, 1957 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© J. L. Price 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HullUK

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