Netherlands History

By | March 8, 2021

The Netherlands is a small country located in the western part of Europe. According to homosociety, it has a population of over 17 million people and its official language is Dutch. The currency used in the Netherlands is the Euro (EUR). The economy of the Netherlands relies heavily on services, trade and industry. Agriculture also plays an important role in the economy, producing grains, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits and vegetables. Tourism is also important for the country’s economy with many visitors coming to experience its vibrant cities, unique culture and beautiful countryside. The government has been investing heavily in renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.


From above all the younger Paleolithic and Mesolithic, a number of places with rich implements are known. Agriculture was introduced in the southwestern Netherlands with the band ceramic culture from Central Europe via Germany around 4000 BC. In the northeast (Drenthe), the funnel cup culture is characterized by rectangular megalithic tombs from about 2500 BC, while elsewhere it exhibits simple skeletal tombs. Somewhat later, the metal-using bell-cup culture appeared with, among other things. copper daggers and flatmark tombs as well as piles; complicated tall structures with surrounding wood-planked occur. The transition to the Bronze Age occurred gradually; In addition to the fact that metal weapons such as swords became commonplace, fire burial conditions also began to occur, an influence from the urn field culture.

The early Iron Age of the Netherlands, with slight influence from the Hallstatt and Latene cultures, was at least to some extent arable: so-called celtic fields are found in sandy areas, while in marshland, among other places. in Ezinge northwest of Groningen, excavated well-preserved house plots at very large artificial heights, the terp, gradually erected by a largely livestock population. Graves from this period are also known.

Netherlands Life Expectancy 2021


The southern Netherlands inhabited by Belgians was conquered by Caesar in 57 BC, but in practice was soon lost to the Romans. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Netherlands. However, in conjunction with Augustus’ quest to move the national border to Elbe, Drusus undermined the same. 12 BC the Batavas in the Rhine Delta and the Frisians along the coast. Even after the Romans returned to the Rhine border 9 AD they tried to keep these areas, despite repeated revolts (compare bataver). The country belonged administratively to the province of Gallia Belgica, from 90 AD. to Germania Inferior.

From the 240s AD the Netherlands was subjected to repeated invasions of Salian francs. After the empire stabilized under Diocletian, the River Waal was in effect a frontier until major Frankish invasions 406 finally put an end to Rome’s supremacy in the area.

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The early history of the Dutch territories

During Karl the Great (768–814), the united Christian Frankish empire expanded toward Elbe at the expense of the pagan scissors. When the kingdom of France was divided by the Treaty of Verdun 843, the Netherlands came to belong to Lothar I’s inheritance, a kingdom between the western and eastern francs, which stretched from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. From 855 the Netherlands was part of Lotharingia. Feudalization had gained a foothold already at the beginning of the 1000s. Politically, this meant a split. Lotharingia had 959 been divided into Upper and Lower Lotharingia. The Netherlands belonged to Lower Lotharingia, which in turn was divided into individual self-governing counties. The most important in the Netherlands were the province of Holland and the bishopric of Utrecht.

The county states gradually became more independent and fought each other’s battles. While Utrecht initially held the strongest position, Holland and Geldern became the most important areas during the latter part of the Middle Ages, when the urban system was also developed. Although cities in the Netherlands could not compete with European trade centers in present-day Belgium, such as Bruges and Ghent, for example. Leiden, Haarlem and Rotterdam important cities for trade and textile production. The Middle Ages also meant improved conditions for agriculture as they began to build large dams to the sea and dry the invaded areas. Despite economic developments, the Netherlands was unable to feed the growing population, and extensive emigration took place, especially to the northeastern parts of present-day Germany.

The trend towards an independent Netherlands

During the 1400s, the whole of the Dutch area, which, apart from the Netherlands, included today’s Belgium and Luxembourg, came under Burgundian rule. However, the Burgundian rulers, Philip  III (the good) and Karl the bold, must fight hard battles against the bourgeoisie of the big cities. The fighting resulted in 1465, among other things. the creation of a representative stand assembly for the Dutch area, the General States (Staten-Generaal).

After the death of Karl the Bold in 1477, the Netherlands passed as a unified unit through inheritance to the Habsburg house and gained a position as a special unit within the German-Roman empire from 1548 onwards. After Karl V’s abdication in 1556, the Netherlands attacked the Habsburg Spanish branch. The pursuit of centralization by the Habsburg rulers aroused strong reactions in the Netherlands and, during the Duke of Alba’s time as governor (1567-73), resulted in the open revolt of the Gueus. The uprising had not only economic and political dimensions but also religious, in that the Reformation gave the Reformed doctrine a strong position in the Netherlands, especially among the higher citizenship of cities. The opposition to the Spaniards was led by William I of Orange (really Nassau-Orange), governor of the provinces of Holland and Zeeland,

In the fight against the Spanish military power, Vilhelm sought to engage the entire Dutch area and gather Catholics as well as reformists on the side of the insurgency. In practice, however, the fighting became increasingly marked by religious war, which seemed to deter the Dutch Catholics. The so-called pacification in Ghent in 1576 gathered the Dutch provinces around a program based on religious tolerance, but the victorious Spanish commander Alessandro Farnese succeeded the following year in the southern provinces for a settlement between the Netherlands and Spain. Through the Union of Utrecht in 1579, the majority of the northern provinces were excluded from this settlement, and through Akte van Verlating in 1581 they completely broke with Spain.

independence struggle

Cities in the south such as Antwerp, Bruges and Ieper had assisted the Union in Utrecht, and Akte van Verlating was intended to cover the entire Dutch area. In practice, the military development led the Spanish to consolidate their power in the southern “Belgian” provinces. The seven provinces in the north (the so-called United Netherlands), the Netherlands, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overijssel, Geldern, Groningen and Friesland, formed the independent Netherlands, with the later addition of the province of Drenthe.

The Netherlands was initially threatened by the Spaniards, and William I of Orange sought military support abroad, primarily from France and England. Vilhelm’s son Moritz continued this policy after Vilhelm was assassinated in 1584. Although the foreign aid was not successful, the Netherlands’ own land and naval forces succeeded under the leadership of the very prominent Moritz, winning victories and, among other things. the areas around the Scheldem estuary, the so-called Generality countries. This was economically important, as it provided the opportunity to block Antwerp and favor Amsterdam at the expense of its most important trading competitor.

From 1609 armistice prevailed in the war against Spain, but the fighting resumed in 1621. The war, which initially went bad for the Netherlands, took a turn for the better towards the end of the 1620s. Moritz was succeeded in 1625 by his half-brother Fredrik Henrik, also a prominent field lord and politician. Increasingly, the war came to form part of the thirty-year war. During the Westphalian Peace in 1648, Spain formally recognized the independence of the Netherlands.

Alongside the war against the Spanish, the new Dutch state had domestic political problems. In practice, the office of governor in the various provinces became hereditary among the princes of the house of Orange, but the power that the ruling governor could exercise was circumscribed. The wealthy bourgeoisie had great influence through the general states and through the chosen states (the state) in the provinces. This was especially true of the Dutch bourgeoisie, since Holland was the dominant province through its economic strength.

In the period immediately following 1587, the Netherlands was in practice jointly governed by the governor Moritz and Jan van Oldenbarnevelt, the leading man in the Dutch states. However, during the first decades of the 17th century, an open power struggle arose between Moritz and the Dutch bourgeoisie under the leadership of Oldenbarnevelt. Moritz could count on support from both the nobility suppressed by the bourgeoisie and by the wide population stocks. At the same time, there was opposition among the bourgeoisie in the other provinces against the dominant position of the Netherlands, which also had to do with contradictions between agriculture and trade and between coastal and inland provinces.

The power struggle also had a religious dimension. Within the dominant Reformed Church, the strict and literate observant Gomarians wished that the Church and its doctrines would determine the political and cultural life of the Netherlands, while the more tolerant Arminians (Remonstrants) considered that religion and politics should be separated. Oldenbarnevelt and the higher Dutch bourgeoisie supported Arminianism, but Moritz allied with the Gomaris, who had a majority in the general states. Using the authority of the states, Moritz was able to arrest Oldenbarnevelt and his closest supporters. The over 70-year-old Oldenbarnevelt was executed in May 1619.

Moritz had won, and in practice the Oranese governor was granted a status corresponding to a ruling monarch. The opposition, however, continued within the higher bourgeoisie. The Oranese party was warlike, as the governor as military commander gained greater influence during wartime. The new governor of 1647, William  II, was unable to prevent the end of the peace in 1648, but came into conflict with the Dutch bourgeoisie regarding the continued politics and the need for a large army. In 1650, Wilhelm appeared to have won through the use of military force, but when he died in the fall of that year, leaving behind the posthumously born son William  III, the citizens seized power.

The days of glory

During the period 1650-72 there were no governors, but the Netherlands was ruled by the higher bourgeoisie, especially in the Netherlands, and their representatives, the “regents”. The political position of the citizens reflected economic, social and cultural development. The Netherlands became the world’s leading trading nation during the War of Independence. The original trade with the Baltic Sea region, France and the Iberian Peninsula remained very important, but in addition the Dutch managed to effectively circumvent the Spanish and Portuguese attempts to keep the Netherlands out of trade with India and the Far East. To protect the trade, Dutch forts and postings were established in Africa, on the shores of the Indian Ocean and in the Indonesian island world. From 1602 this trade was reserved for the Dutch East India Company,

Trade brought in very large sums, and huge wealth was created, while at the same time the country’s population as a whole enjoyed a relatively unknown wealth for the rest of Europe, even though the wars led to a high tax burden. The surplus of capital led to an expansion of the banking system, where Amsterdamsche Wisselbank was given a semi-official position and reputation for solidity, which meant that depositors could possibly pay to have their money on account. On the other hand, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange was a seat for extensive trading with elements of bold speculation in options and futures trading.

Economic prosperity was reflected in a rich cultural life with painters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals and philosophers like Spinoza. At the same time, in many respects, the Netherlands was strongly influenced by the governing Reformed church, although in practice religious tolerance was applied to the numerous Catholics, as well as to Jews and Arminians.

But trade also led to conflicts. The English navigation act of 1651, which excluded the Dutch from the trade in England and its colonies, led to an unsuccessful war for the Netherlands in 1652–54. After the war, the strong man of the Netherlands, the council pensioner Jan de Witt, succeeded in strengthening the Dutch fleet and the international position of the Netherlands.

A new war against England with French support in 1664-67 meant naval success, but since England and France jointly fought in the war against the Netherlands in 1672, the country’s country military weakness was revealed. French troops seemed to be on their way to occupy the Netherlands, riots broke out in the larger cities, the Witt lynched and power transferred to William  IIIas governor. William managed to fight back the attack, including by opening the ramparts towards the sea, as before in the history of the Netherlands, thus preventing the French advance. At the same time, the Dutch fleet under Michiel de Ruyter won victories over the united French-English fleets. Through diplomacy, Vilhelm succeeded in bringing Spain, the emperor and Brandenburg to his side in the conflict and asserting Dutch interests in the peace of Nijmegen in 1678.

However, the threat of expanding France during Louis  XIV remained. Through the glorious Revolution of 1688 and the deposition of Jacob  II of England, William and his wife Mary, daughter of Jacob II, could  jointly ascend the English throne. Thus, the Netherlands was united with England in the personnel union. The ensuing war with France in 1688–97 made no difference, but was soon followed by the Spanish War of Succession (1701–14), a war that put an end to the development of French power, but which also had negative consequences for the Netherlands.

18th century stagnation period

William III died childless in 1702, and after his death power in the Netherlands returned to the bourgeois oligarchy. Holland was still dominant, and the board was managed by the Dutch council pensioner. Now, however, the Netherlands stagnated financially. During the staff union with England, Wilhelm had tended to favor English interests, not least in relation to the English fleet. It was England (after 1707 Britain) that now became the world’s dominant naval power. Dutch trade did not decrease in volume as a whole, but became relatively less significant. The Netherlands was no longer an economic center of the world, even though it remained financially important through aggregate capital.

Economic stagnation had its counterparts on both the cultural and the political levels. The Frederas after the Spanish war of succession gave the Netherlands only a series of fortresses of limited strategic value at the border with the Austrian Netherlands (the former Spanish Netherlands, equivalent to today’s Belgium). The limited groups of the higher bourgeoisie that ruled the Netherlands remained in control until military adversity occurred in the course of the Austrian succession war (1740-48). This led to popular unrest and once again to the summoning of an Oranese governor, William  IV. He belonged to the Nassau-Dietz branch of the Oranien House and was succeeded in 1751 by his son Vilhelm V.

The reintroduction of a Dutch governor’s office in common did not mean any increased political influence for the broader peoples. However, under the influence of the Enlightenment ideas on the distribution of power, a “patriotic” movement arose with demands for political change. When the Netherlands, in connection with the liberation of the North American colonies, happened in an unsuccessful war with Britain in 1780–84, the patriots managed to seize power. William V fled but was reinstated with Prussian gun power in 1786–87. During the French Revolution, French support was hoped for in the patriotic camp, and when French troops occupied the Netherlands in 1795 they had the help of a patriotic uprising.

The Netherlands, which in 1795-1806 was called the Batavian Republic, was completely dependent on France, and no more important political decisions could be made without French approval. The Dutch constitution was reformed according to French design: the general states were replaced by a national assembly, indirectly elected by those who held real estate, and the old provinces were replaced by ministries. Binding to France dragged the Netherlands into a disastrous trade and fishing war with Britain, causing internal contradictions. Napoleon I tried to further integrate the Netherlands into French politics by making his brother Louis Bonaparte (Louis) king of the Netherlands, who in 1806–10 was called the Kingdom of Holland. The attempt, however, failed, as the king associated himself with Dutch interests and with Dutch attempts to circumvent the Napoleonic continental system, which was aimed at Britain. In 1810, the Netherlands was incorporated with France and temporarily ceased to exist as an independent state formation.

The Netherlands during the 19th century

Following Napoleon I’s case, Wilhelm V’s son was appointed regent, now as King William I. To create a barrier against France, the Netherlands was merged in 1814-15 with the southern parts of the once united Dutch territory, today’s Belgium and Luxembourg, to the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. However, it turned out that the approximately 350 years that have passed since the separation made it difficult to make the association work. Historically, differences in culture, language and economy led to conflicts and a Belgian revolt in 1830. The Netherlands were militarily stronger than Belgium, but the attitude of the great powers made the break between Belgium and the Netherlands definitive and regulated in international agreements in 1839.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg remained united with the Netherlands in the personal union until 1890. William I abdicated in 1840. Under son William  II, the revolutionary unrest in Europe in 1848 led to reforms of state law, and a development from personal kingship to parliamentary rule began. This development continued during William  III (1849–90) and Vilhelmina (1890–1948), at the same time as the right to vote was expanded. General voting rights were introduced for men in 1917 and for women in 1920.

During the 19th century, the foundation of a party system was laid in the modern sense. Religion was partisan from the outset in that there were Reformed and Catholic parties, while there was also a liberal party that wanted to separate religion and politics. A central political issue has long been state support for religious schools, which in the 1880s led to bridging the traditional contradictions between Catholics and Protestants and co-operating between them in office. Towards the end of the 19th century, a socialist movement emerged in the Netherlands in connection with the ongoing industrialization. Thus, the basis for the characteristic features of Dutch politics was laid by a strong but partly overlapping division on the basis of religious and socio-economic dividing lines, Verzuiling, which has been in place up to the last few decades (see State Condition and Politics above).

Industrialization started with the textile industry, especially in the eastern Netherlands, and the exploitation of the coal deposits in Limburg, but gradually it also included processing and technology-based industries such as Philips. During the 19th century, a transition from the agricultural economy developed during the Napoleonic Wars occurred. Trade gained a boost, which in addition to Amsterdam also applied to Rotterdam. The Dutch colonial empire in the East Indies was expanded during the 19th century, and their income was significant for both the private business and the state finances. At the same time, however, administration and conflicts with the locals placed financial demands on the Dutch state.

The Netherlands during the 20th and 2000s

During the 19th century, the state leadership had sought to keep the Netherlands out of international conflicts, and the Netherlands managed to remain neutral during the First World War. However, the war brought strain, and there were mutinies in the army in 1918. Politically, the war was postponed in a conflict with Belgium, which wanted to take possession of the territories at the Scheldt and the Dutch Limburg, basically areas conquered during the Liberty War against the Spaniards. In the Netherlands, they reacted sharply to the Belgian requirements, which did not lead to any territorial change but created tensions between Belgium and the Netherlands.

During the World War, domestic political bourgeoisie had been created around, on the one hand, the expansion of voting rights, on the other, state support for religious schools. Regardless of the compromises, power in general lay with the Protestant political parties, also during the 1930s depression.

Foreign policy tried to preserve neutrality, but during World War II the Germans chose to attack both the Netherlands and Belgium in conjunction with the attack on France in May 1940. The Netherlands were occupied, and the royal family and government moved in exile to London. Directly involved in the land war, the Netherlands became the result of the Allies’ unsuccessful attempts to land troops at Arnhem in the final stages, but the war also caused severe suffering with food shortages and reprisals against the resistance movement. Particularly affected were the Dutch Jews, who were largely deported to extermination camps.

During the war, Dutch India had been occupied by the Japanese. After the war demands for independence were raised, and after fierce contradictions both in the colonies and in the Netherlands, independent Indonesia was created in 1949. However, the Netherlands retained their possessions in New Guinea until 1969, when they were annexed by Indonesia. In 1975, the Dutch Guiana colony in South America also became independent under the new name Suriname. Of the Dutch colonies, there are now a handful of islands in the Caribbean, formerly called the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba gained greater autonomy in 1986 and in 2010 Curaçao and Sint-Maarten received the same status. Instead, the remaining islands were granted status corresponding to the Dutch municipalities.

The post-war Dutch foreign policy has been strongly focused on European and Western cooperation. The Netherlands left the neutrality and joined NATO. The close cooperation in the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) from 1948 onwards played a role as an example in the emergence of both the military-oriented Western European Union and economic EC cooperation.

The Netherlands was one of the original signatories to the Treaty of Rome and within the EU, the Netherlands has generally been committed to strengthening the Union’s position in relation to the individual Member States. In 2005, however, citizens voted no in a referendum on the approval of the EU’s constitutional treaty, which meant that this could not be adopted as the Lisbon Treaty until 2009. The country has also come to take a more skeptical approach to the EU’s continued enlargement and, above all, to a Turkish membership. In 2002, the euro was introduced as currency in the country.

In domestic politics, immigration and integration policies have become increasingly at the center of political debate. The background is the extensive immigration, not least from the former colonies, which has taken place in recent decades and which has increasingly come to be regarded as problematic. Above all, the cap has been directed towards Islam, which many consider to be incompatible with the traditionally so tolerant Dutch society.

In the 2002 election, a pronounced immigration-critical party set up for the first time and also won major successes. At the end of the electoral movement, party leader Pim Fortuyn was murdered, and two years later filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by a militant Islamist, a few months after his Islam-critical film “Submission” (‘Submission’) was shown. Pim Fortuyn’s party (List Pim Fortuyn) did not succeed in repeating the election successes in the 2003 election, but immigration and Islam criticism was continued by Geert Wilders, who in 2004 broke out of the Liberal VVD and in 2006 formed the strong Immigration and Islamic Critical Freedom Party (PVV). In the parliamentary elections that year, the party won nine seats and in 2010 the party became the third largest with just over 15% of the vote. Since the fall of 2010, the party has been serving as a support party for a minority government consisting of the VVD and Christian Democratic CDA. PVV has been heard for several of its requirements, including ban on a comprehensive veil. Geert Wilders is charged with hate crimes for his anti-Islamic statements. He wants to ban the Qur’an and have produced an Islam-hostile movie that has been shown on the internet.

Party politics has made the situation more complicated during the 2000s. This has resulted in prolonged government formation and the fact that governments have been forced to retire prematurely. The government that was formed after the 2002 elections managed to remain only a few months and already in January 2003, new elections were held. Christian Democratic CDA, which has dominated Dutch politics ever since the breakthrough of democracy, remained the largest party and Jan Peter Balkenende remained as prime minister of a coalition together with the two liberal parties VVD and D66. In June 2006, the D66 left the government after making a declaration of no confidence in the Minister of the Interior Rita Verdonk (VVD).

In the 2006 election, the CDA retained its position as the largest party, but after lengthy negotiations in coalition with the Social Democratic Labor Party and the small Christian Union (CU). In early 2010, the Labor Party left the government because of disagreement over the country’s military presence in Afghanistan and in June 2010 elections were held. The CDA now declined sharply and became only the fourth largest party in parliament after the VVD, the PvdA and PVV. Not until October did they succeed in forming a new government consisting of the VVD, with its leader Mark Rutte as prime minister, and the CDA. However, the government did not have a majority in Parliament, which never happened before, and therefore Geert Wilders PVV sought and received.

PVV withdrew its support to the government in connection with budget negotiations in 2012. The party opposed several of the cuts that the government, in its quest to meet the EU deficit target, presented in spring 2012. Without PVV’s support, the government had no parliamentary base and had to resign and announce new elections. The ruling party’s VVD, with 26.6% of the vote, won the re-election in September and Rutte was commissioned to form a new government. The Social Democratic Labor Party also went ahead in the elections (24.8%). The previously so strong CDA continued its cancer trend, further falling to only 8.5%. PVV was also a loser, but with just over 10% of the vote retained its position as the Netherlands’ third largest party.

Historical overview

about 4,000 BC Agriculture is being introduced in the southwest of the Netherlands.
about 2,000 BC Representatives of the bell-cup culture introduce metalworking.
about 600 BC Hallstatt-influenced Iron Age culture in the southern Netherlands.
57 BC Under Caesar’s leadership, the Romans conquer parts of the present Netherlands and gradually expand their empire.
400s onwards The Germanic Franks gain control of the southern and central Netherlands.
843 France is divided, and the Netherlands is moved to Lothar I, from 855 to Lotharingia.
1000s onwards Increasing feudal fragmentation.
1400s The Netherlands became part of the Burgundian Empire and in 1477 passed through inheritance to the Habsburg house.
1465 The Standing Assembly of the General States is added.
1556 In the division of the Habsburg Empire, the Netherlands falls to Spain.
1568 The Netherlands rises in open rebellion against the Spanish empire.
1579 Union in Utrecht. The provinces that largely make up today’s Netherlands join forces to continue the fight against the Spanish.
1648 The independence of the Netherlands is recognized by Spain, and the Netherlands stands as the world’s leading trade and maritime power.
1672 The governor William III seizes power in connection with war against France.
1688 The Netherlands unites with England in the union of workers.
1713-14 End of the war against France without major gains for the Netherlands. Decline period begins.
1795 The Netherlands is occupied by France and becomes the Batavian Republic.
1806-10 The Netherlands is under French control and is called the Kingdom of Holland.
1814-15 The Netherlands joins Belgium and Luxembourg with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
1830 Belgium rebel and become an independent kingdom.
1914-18 Despite internal and external problems, the Netherlands manages to remain neutral during the First World War.
1940-45 The Netherlands occupied by Germany.
1949 Indonesia becomes independent from the Netherlands.
The Netherlands becomes a member of NATO.
1952 The Netherlands is a member of the Coal and Steel Union.
1957 The Netherlands is a member of the EEC.
1975 Dutch Guiana becomes independent with the new name Surinam.
2002 The currency gold is replaced by the euro.
2004 The controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh is murdered by an Islamist.