Dutch Golden Age

Dutch Golden Age

Overview
This article focuses on social and cultural history. For political events, see History of the Netherlands
History of the Netherlands
The history of the Netherlands is the history of a maritime people thriving on a watery lowland river delta at the edge of northwestern Europe. When the Romans and written history arrived in 57 BC, the country was sparsely populated by various tribal groups at the periphery of the empire...

 and Dutch Revolt
Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands This article adopts 1568 as the starting date of the war, as this was the year of the first battles between armies. However, since there is a long period of Protestant vs...

 (1568–1648). For more information about notable Dutch persons in the Golden Age, see List of people from the Dutch Golden Age.


The Golden Age was a period in Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 and art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 were among the most acclaimed in the world.
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Encyclopedia
This article focuses on social and cultural history. For political events, see History of the Netherlands
History of the Netherlands
The history of the Netherlands is the history of a maritime people thriving on a watery lowland river delta at the edge of northwestern Europe. When the Romans and written history arrived in 57 BC, the country was sparsely populated by various tribal groups at the periphery of the empire...

 and Dutch Revolt
Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt or the Revolt of the Netherlands This article adopts 1568 as the starting date of the war, as this was the year of the first battles between armies. However, since there is a long period of Protestant vs...

 (1568–1648). For more information about notable Dutch persons in the Golden Age, see List of people from the Dutch Golden Age.


The Golden Age was a period in Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 and art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648. The Golden Age went on in peace time during the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 till the end of the century.

Causes of the Golden Age


In 1568 the Seven Provinces that signed the Union of Utrecht
Union of Utrecht
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain....

  started a rebellion against Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 which led to the Eighty Years' War. Before the Low Countries could be completely reconquered, war between England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 broke out, forcing the Spanish troops under Philip II to halt their advances. Meanwhile, Philip's Spanish troops had conquered the important trading cities of Bruges and Ghent. Antwerp, which was then arguably the most important port in the world, had to be conquered. On August 17, 1585 Antwerp fell which initiated the delineation of the Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

 (mostly modern Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

). The United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 (today's Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

) fought on until the Twelve Years' Truce
Twelve Years' Truce
The Twelve Years' Truce was the name given to the cessation of hostilities between the Habsburg rulers of Spain and the Southern Netherlands and the Dutch Republic as agreed in Antwerp on 9 April 1609. It was a watershed in the Eighty Years' War, marking the point from which the independence of the...

, which did not end the hostilities. The Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

, which ended the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

, brought formal recognition and independence for the Dutch Republic in 1648.

Migration of skilled workers to Netherlands


Under the terms of surrender of Antwerp in 1585 the Protestant population (if unwilling to reconvert) were given two years to settle their affairs before leaving the city and Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 territory. Similar arrangements were made in other places. Protestants were especially well-represented among the skilled craftsmen and rich merchants of the port cities of Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

, Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 and Antwerp. More moved to the north during the period 1585-1630 than Catholics moved in the other direction, although there were also many of these. Of those moving north, many settled in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, which was a small port in 1585, but thanks to the immigrants was quickly transformed into one of the most important ports and commercial centres in the world by 1630. The exodus can be described as 'creating a new Antwerp'. This mass immigration from Flanders and Brabant was an important driving force behind the Dutch Golden Age.

In addition to the mass immigration of natives from the Southern Netherlands, there were also significant influxes of non-native refugees who themselves had previously fled from religious persecution, particularly Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 from Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and, later, Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

s from France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. The Pilgrim Fathers also spent time there before going to the New World.

Cheap energy sources


Several other factors also contributed to the flowering of trade, industry, the arts and the sciences in the Netherlands during this period. A necessary condition was the supply of cheap energy from windmills and from peat
Peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

, easily transported by canal to the cities. The invention of the sawmill
Sawmill
A sawmill is a facility where logs are cut into boards.-Sawmill process:A sawmill's basic operation is much like those of hundreds of years ago; a log enters on one end and dimensional lumber exits on the other end....

 enabled the construction of a massive fleet of ships for worldwide trading and for defense of the republic's economic interests by military means.

Wealth and birth of Corporate Finance


During the later part of the 16th century the Dutch, traditionally able seafarers and keen mapmakers, obtained an increasingly dominant position in world trade, a position which before had been occupied by the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 and Spaniards
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

In 1602 the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 (Dutch: Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC) was founded. It was the first-ever multinational corporation
Multinational corporation
A multi national corporation or enterprise , is a corporation or an enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation...

, financed by shares that established the first modern stock exchange
Amsterdam Stock Exchange
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the former name for the stock exchange based in Amsterdam. It merged on 22 September 2000 with the Brussels Stock Exchange and the Paris Stock Exchange to form Euronext, and is now known as Euronext Amsterdam.-History:...

. This company received a Dutch monopoly on Asian trade and would keep this for two centuries. It became the world's largest commercial enterprise of the 17th century. Spices were imported in bulk and brought huge profits, due to the efforts and risks involved and seemingly insatiable demand. To finance the growing trade within the region, the Bank of Amsterdam was established in 1609, the precursor to, if not the first true central bank
Central bank
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that usually issues the currency, regulates the money supply, and controls the interest rates in a country. Central banks often also oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries...

.

Monopoly on trade with Japan


These various reasons for the domination of Amsterdam as a trade center led to a trade monopoly in 1640 by the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 (VOC) with Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 through the trading post on Dejima
Dejima
was a small fan-shaped artificial island built in the bay of Nagasaki in 1634. This island, which was formed by digging a canal through a small peninsula, remained as the single place of direct trade and exchange between Japan and the outside world during the Edo period. Dejima was built to...

. This former island in the bay of Nagasaki measures but 15,000 square meters, from here the Dutch traded between China and Japan and at the same time paid tribute
Dutch missions to Edo
The Dutch East India Company missions to Edo were regular tribute missions to the court of the Tokugawa Shogun in Edo to reassure the ties between the Bakufu and the Opperhoofd...

 to the Shogun. Until 1854, the Dutch were Japan's sole window to the western world. The collection of scientific learning introduced from Europe became known in Japan as Rangaku
Rangaku
Rangaku is a body of knowledge developed by Japan through its contacts with the Dutch enclave of Dejima, which allowed Japan to keep abreast of Western technology and medicine in the period when the country was closed to foreigners, 1641–1853, because of the Tokugawa shogunate’s policy of national...

or Dutch Learning. The Dutch became instrumental in transmitting to Japan some knowledge of the industrial and scientific revolution that was occurring in Europe. The Japanese purchased and translated numerous scientific books from the Dutch, obtained from them Western curiosities and manufactures (such as clocks), and received demonstrations of various Western innovations (such as the demonstrations of electric phenomena, and the flight of a hot air balloon in the early 19th century). In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch were arguably the most economically wealthy and scientifically advanced of all European nations, which put them in a privileged position to transfer Western knowledge to Japan.

European Great Power


The Dutch also dominated trade between Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an countries. The Low Countries were favorably positioned on a crossing of east-west and north-south trade routes and connected to a large German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 hinterland through the Rhine river. Dutch traders shipped wine from France and Portugal to the Baltic lands
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

 and returned with grain destined for countries around the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. By the 1680s, an average of nearly 1000 Dutch ships entered the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 each year. The Dutch were able to gain control of much of the trade with the nascent English colonies in North America and following the end of war with Spain in 1648, Dutch trade with that country also flourished.

Other industries


National industries expanded as well. Shipyards and sugar refineries are prime examples. As more and more land was utilized, partially through transforming lakes into polder
Polder
A polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments known as dikes, that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually-operated devices...

s, local grain production and dairy farming soared.

National consciousness


The outcome of the revolt against Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, better known as the Eighty Years' War, that had been fought over religious freedom and economic and political independence, and ended in total independence of the reformist northern provinces (see also Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

), almost certainly would have boosted national morale. Already in 1609 much of this was accomplished, when a temporary truce was signed with Spain, which would last for 12 years.

Social structure



In the Netherlands one's social status in the 17th century was largely determined by income. Social classes existed but in a new way. The landed nobility had relatively little importance since they lived in the more underdeveloped inland provinces and it was the merchant class that dominated Dutch society. The clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 did not have much worldly influence either: the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 had been more or less suppressed since the onset of the Eighty Years' War with Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The new Protestant movement was divided, although exercising social control in many areas to an even greater extent than under the Catholic Church.

This is not to say that aristocrats were without social status. To the contrary, it meant rather that wealthy merchants bought themselves into the nobility by becoming landowners and acquiring a coat of arms and a seal. Aristocrats also mixed with members of other classes in order to be able to support themselves as they saw fit. To this end they married their daughters to wealthy merchants, became traders themselves or took up public or military office to earn a salary. Merchants also started to value public office as a means to greater economic power and prestige. Universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 became career pathways to such a public office. Rich merchants and aristocrats sent their sons on a so-called Grand Tour
Grand Tour
The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage...

 ('Great journey') through Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Often accompanied by a private scholar, preferably a scientist himself, these young people visited universities in several European countries. This intermixing of patricians
Patricianship
Patricianship, the quality of belonging to a patriciate, began in the ancient world, where cities such as Ancient Rome had a class of patrician families whose members were the only people allowed to exercise many political functions...

 and aristocrats was most prominent in the second half of the century.

After aristocrats and patricians came the affluent middle class, consisting of Protestant ministers, lawyers, physicians, small merchants, industrialists and clerks of large state institutions. Lower status was attributed to farmers, craft and tradesmen, shopkeepers, and government bureaucrats. Below that stood skilled laborers, maids, servants, sailors, and other persons employed in the service industry.

At the bottom of the pyramid were 'paupers': impoverished peasants, many of whom tried their luck in a city as a beggar or day laborer. It should be noted that the people of the Netherlands rebelling against Philip II gave themselves the nickname "De Geuzen", which corresponds to the French word "gueux" (beggar).

Because of the importance of wealth in defining social status, divisions between classes were less sharply defined and social mobility was much greater than elsewhere. Calvinism, which preaches humility as an important virtue, also tended to diminish the importance of social differences. These tendencies have proved remarkably persistent: modern Dutch society, though much more secularized, is still considered by many to be remarkably egalitarian. Despite less income inequality than in other European countries, the difference between a dockworker's one-room hovel and a great merchant's mansion in Amsterdam was so obvious as to require no commentary.

Workers and laborers were generally paid better than in most of Europe and enjoyed relatively high living standards, although they also had higher than normal taxes. Farmers produced mainly cash crops for a nation that needed large amounts of fodder to support its urban and seafaring population, and prospered as a result.

Religion


Calvinism was the state religion in the Dutch Republic. This does not imply that unity existed. Although the Netherlands was a tolerant nation compared to neighboring states, wealth and social status belonged almost exclusively to Protestants. The cities with a predominantly Catholic background such as Utrecht
Utrecht (city)
Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 312,634 on 1 Jan 2011.Utrecht's ancient city centre features...

 and Gouda
Gouda
Gouda is a city and municipality in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland. Gouda, which was granted city rights in 1272, is famous for its Gouda cheese, smoking pipes, and 15th-century city hall....

, did not enjoy the benefits of the Golden Age. As for the Protestant towns, unity of belief was also far from standard. In the beginning of the century bitter controversies between strict Calvinists and more permissive Protestants, known as Remonstrants
Remonstrants
The Remonstrants are the Dutch Protestants who, after the death of Jacobus Arminius, maintained the views associated with his name. In 1610 they presented to the States of Holland and Friesland a remonstrance in five articles formulating their points of disagreement from Calvinism.-History:The five...

, split the country. The Remonstrants denied predestination
Predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

 and championed freedom of conscience, while their more dogmatic adversaries (known as Contra-Remonstrants) gained a major victory at the Synod of Dort
Synod of Dort
The Synod of Dort was a National Synod held in Dordrecht in 1618-1619, by the Dutch Reformed Church, to settle a divisive controversy initiated by the rise of Arminianism. The first meeting was on November 13, 1618, and the final meeting, the 154th, was on May 9, 1619...

 (1618–19). In the end the sheer number of reformist branches may well have worked as an antidote to intolerance.

Renaissance Humanism
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

, of which Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1466–1536) was an important advocate, had also gained a firm foothold and was partially responsible for a climate of tolerance.

This tolerance was not so easy to uphold towards Catholics, since religion played an important part in the Eighty Years War of independence against Spain (with political and economic freedom
Economic freedom
Economic freedom is a term used in economic and policy debates. As with freedom generally, there are various definitions, but no universally accepted concept of economic freedom...

 being other important motives). Hostile inclinations could however be overcome by money. Thus Catholics could buy the privilege to hold ceremonies in a conventicle (a house doubling inconspicuously as a church), but public offices were out of the question. Catholics tended to keep to themselves in their own section of each town despite making one of the largest single denominations (for example, the Catholic painter Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer
Johannes, Jan or Johan Vermeer was a Dutch painter who specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime...

 lived in the "Papist corner" of the town of Delft
Delft
Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland , the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague....

). The same applied to Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

s and Jews. Utrecht, whose population was still 40% Catholic in 1650, with an even higher share amongst the elites, was something of an exception to this pattern.

Overall, levels of tolerance were sufficiently high to attract religious refugees from other countries, notably Jewish merchants from Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 who brought much wealth with them. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes, issued on 13 April 1598, by Henry IV of France, granted the Calvinist Protestants of France substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic. In the Edict, Henry aimed primarily to promote civil unity...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1685 resulted in the immigration of many French Huguenots, many of whom were shopkeepers or scientists. However, some figures, such as the philosopher Baruch de Spinoza (1632–1677) experienced social stigma for their ideas.

Science



Due to its climate of intellectual tolerance the Dutch Republic attracted scientists and other thinkers from all over Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Especially the renowned University of Leiden (established in 1575 by the Dutch stadtholder
Stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

, William of Oranje
William the Silent
William I, Prince of Orange , also widely known as William the Silent , or simply William of Orange , was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years' War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648. He was born in the House of...

, as a token of gratitude for Leiden's fierce resistance against Spain during the Eighty Years War) became a gathering place for these people. For instance French philosopher
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 René Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

 lived in Leiden from 1628 until 1649.

Dutch lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

s were famous for their knowledge of international law of the sea
Law of the sea
Law of the sea may refer to:* United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea* Admiralty law* The Custom of the Sea...

 and commercial law
Commercial law
Commercial law is the body of law that governs business and commercial transactions...

. Hugo Grotius
Hugo Grotius
Hugo Grotius , also known as Huig de Groot, Hugo Grocio or Hugo de Groot, was a jurist in the Dutch Republic. With Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law...

 (1583–1645) played a leading part in the foundation of international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

. He invented the concept of the Free seas or Mare liberum, which was fiercely contested by England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, the Netherlands's main rival for domination of world trade. He also formulated laws with regard to conflicts between nations in his book De iure belli ac pacis (On laws of war and peace).

Christiaan Huygens (1629–1695) was a famous astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

, physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

 and mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

. He invented the pendulum clock
Pendulum clock
A pendulum clock is a clock that uses a pendulum, a swinging weight, as its timekeeping element. The advantage of a pendulum for timekeeping is that it is a resonant device; it swings back and forth in a precise time interval dependent on its length, and resists swinging at other rates...

, which was a major step forward towards exact timekeeping. Among his contributions in astronomy was his explanation of Saturn's planetary ring
Planetary ring
A planetary ring is a ring of cosmic dust and other small particles orbiting around a planet in a flat disc-shaped region.The most notable planetary rings known in Earth's solar system are those around Saturn, but the other three gas giants of the solar system possess ring systems of their...

s. He also contributed to the field of optics
Optics
Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light...

. The most famous Dutch scientist in the area of optics is certainly Anton van Leeuwenhoek
Anton van Leeuwenhoek
Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch tradesman and scientist from Delft, Netherlands. He is commonly known as "the Father of Microbiology", and considered to be the first microbiologist...

, who invented or greatly improved the microscope
Microscope
A microscope is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy...

 (opinions differ) and was the first to methodically study microscopic life, thus laying the foundations for the field of microbiology
Microbiology
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, which are defined as any microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell , cell clusters or no cell at all . This includes eukaryotes, such as fungi and protists, and prokaryotes...

.

Famous Dutch hydraulic engineer Jan Leeghwater
Jan Leeghwater
Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater was a Dutch architect, mill builder and hydraulic engineer.- Biography :Leeghwater was born as Jan Adriaanszoon. Only later did he adopt the name Leeghwater, from laag water or low water. It is not clear exactly how the prevalent spelling of Leeghwater's name came about...

 (1575–1650) gained important victories in The Netherlands's eternal battle against the sea. Leeghwater added a considerable amount of land to the republic by converting several large lakes into polder
Polder
A polder is a low-lying tract of land enclosed by embankments known as dikes, that forms an artificial hydrological entity, meaning it has no connection with outside water other than through manually-operated devices...

s, pumping all water out with windmills.

Again due to the Dutch climate of tolerance, book publishers flourished. Many books about religion, philosophy and science that might have been deemed controversial abroad were printed in the Netherlands and secretly exported to other countries. Thus during the 17th Century the Dutch Republic became more and more Europe's publishing house.

Culture


The Low Countries witnessed a cultural development that stood out from neighbouring countries. With some exceptions (notably Dutch playwright Joost van den Vondel
Joost van den Vondel
Joost van den Vondel was a Dutch writer and playwright. He is considered the most prominent Dutch poet and playwright of the 17th century. His plays are the ones from that period that are still most frequently performed, and his epic Joannes de Boetgezant , on the life of John the Baptist, has...

) the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 movement did not gain much influence. Its exuberance did not fit the austerity of the largely Calvinistic
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 population.

The major force behind new developments was formed by the citizenry, notably in the western provinces: first and foremost in Holland, to a lesser extent Zeeland
Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

 and Utrecht
Utrecht (province)
Utrecht is the smallest province of the Netherlands in terms of area, and is located in the centre of the country. It is bordered by the Eemmeer in the north, Gelderland in the east, the river Rhine in the south, South Holland in the west, and North Holland in the northwest...

. Where rich aristocrats often became patrons of art in other countries, because of their comparative absence in the Netherlands this role was played by wealthy merchants and other patricians.

Centres of cultural activity were town militia (Dutch: schutterij
Schutterij
Schutterij refers to a voluntary city guard or citizen militia in the medieval and early modern Netherlands, intended to protect the town or city from attack and act in case of revolt or fire. Their training grounds were often on open spaces within the city, near the city walls, but, when the...

) and chambers of rhetoric
Chamber of rhetoric
Chambers of rhetoric were dramatic societies in the Low Countries. Their members are called Rederijkers , from the french word 'rhétoricien', and during the 15th and 16th centuries were mainly interested in dramas and lyrics...

 (Dutch rederijkerskamer). The former were created for town defence and policing, but also served as a meeting-place for the well-to-do, who were proud to play a prominent part and paid a fair sum to see this preserved for posterity by means of a group portrait. The latter were associations on a city level, that fostered literary activities, like poetry, drama and discussions, often through contests. Cities took pride in their existence and promoted them.

Painting




Dutch Golden Age painting followed many of the tendencies that dominated Baroque art
Baroque art
Baroque painting is the painting associated with the Baroque cultural movement. The movement is often identified with Absolutism, the Counter Reformation and Catholic Revival, but the existence of important Baroque art and architecture in non-absolutist and Protestant states throughout Western...

 in other parts of Europe, such as Caravaggesque and naturalism, but was the leader in developing the subjects of still life
Still life
A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made...

, landscape, and genre painting
Genre painting
Genre works, also called genre scenes or genre views, are pictorial representations in any of various media that represent scenes or events from everyday life, such as markets, domestic settings, interiors, parties, inn scenes, and street scenes. Such representations may be realistic, imagined, or...

. Portrait
Portrait
thumb|250px|right|Portrait of [[Thomas Jefferson]] by [[Rembrandt Peale]], 1805. [[New-York Historical Society]].A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness,...

ure were also popular, but History painting
History painting
History painting is a genre in painting defined by subject matter rather than an artistic style, depicting a moment in a narrative story, rather than a static subject such as a portrait...

 — traditionally the most-elevated genre
Hierarchy of genres
A hierarchy of genres is any formalization which ranks different genres in an art form in terms of their prestige and cultural value....

 struggled to find buyers. Church art was virtually non-existent, and little sculpture of any kind produced. While art collecting and painting for the open market was also common elsewhere, art historians point to the growing number of wealthy Dutch middle-class and successful mercantile patrons as driving forces in the popularity of certain pictorial subjects.

This trend, along with the lack of Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 church patronage that dominated the arts in Catholic Europe, resulted in the great number of "scenes of everyday life" or genre paintings, and other non-religious pictures. Landscapes and seascapes, for example, reflect the land reclaimed from the sea and the sources of trade and naval power that mark the Republic's Golden Age. One subject that is quite characteristic of Dutch Baroque painting is the large group portrait, especially of civic and militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 guilds, such as Rembrandt van Rijn's Night Watch
Night Watch (painting)
Night Watch or The Night Watch or The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq is the common name of one of the most famous works by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn....

.

Today, the best-known painters of the Dutch Golden Age are the period's most dominant figure Rembrandt, the Delft
Delft
Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland , the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague....

 master of genre Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer
Johannes, Jan or Johan Vermeer was a Dutch painter who specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life. Vermeer was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime...

, the innovative landscape painter Jacob van Ruisdael, and Frans Hals
Frans Hals
Frans Hals was a Dutch Golden Age painter. He is notable for his loose painterly brushwork, and helped introduce this lively style of painting into Dutch art. Hals was also instrumental in the evolution of 17th century group portraiture.-Biography:Hals was born in 1580 or 1581, in Antwerp...

, who infused new life into portraiture. Some notable artistic styles and trends include Haarlem Mannerism
Mannerism
Mannerism is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when a more Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century throughout much of Europe...

, Utrecht Caravaggism, the School of Delft
Delft School (painting)
The Delft School is a category of mid-17th century Dutch Golden Age painting named after its main base, Delft. It is best known for genre painting: images of domestic life, views of households, church interiors, courtyards, squares and the streets of that city...

, the Leiden fijnschilder
Fijnschilder
The Fijnschilders , also called the Leiden Fijnschilders , were Dutch Golden Age painters who, from about 1630 to 1710, strove to create as natural a reproduction of reality as possible in their meticulously executed, often small-scale works.Although in the seventeenth century, as in modern Dutch,...

s, and Dutch classicism
Classicism
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

.

Architecture


Dutch architecture was taken to a new height in the Golden Age. Due to the thriving economy cities expanded greatly. New town halls, weighhouses and storehouses were built. Merchants that had gained a fortune ordered a new house built along one of the many new canals that were dug out in and around many cities (for defense and transport purposes), a house with an ornamented façade that befitted their new status. In the countryside, many new castles and stately homes were built. Alas, most of them have not survived.

Early in the 17th century late Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 elements still prevailed, combined with Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 motives. After a few decades French classicism
Classicism
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

 gained prominence: vertical elements were stressed, less ornamentation was used, natural stone was preferred above bricks. In the last decades of the century this trend towards sobriety intensified. From around 1670 the most prominent features of a housefront were its entrance, with pillars on each side and possibly a balcony above it, but no further decoration.

Starting at 1595 Reformed churches were commissioned, many of which are still landmarks today.

The most famous Dutch architects of the 17th century were Jacob van Campen
Jacob van Campen
Jacob van Campen , was a Dutch artist and architect of the Golden Age.-Life:He was born into a wealthy family at Haarlem, and spent his youth in his home town. Being of noble birth and with time on his hands, he took up painting mainly as a pastime...

, Pieter Post
Pieter Post
Pieter Jansz Post was a Dutch Golden Age architect, painter and printmaker.-Biography:...

, Pieter Vingbooms, Lieven de Key
Lieven de Key
Lieven de Key was a famous Dutch renaissance architect in the Netherlands, mostly known today for his works in Haarlem.-Biography:...

, Hendrick de Keyser
Hendrick de Keyser
Hendrick de Keyser was a Dutch sculptor and architect born in Utrecht, Netherlands, who was instrumental in establishing a late Renaissance form of Mannerism in Amsterdam...

.

Sculpture



Dutch 17th-century achievements in sculpture are less prominent than in painting and architecture, and fewer examples were created than in neighbouring countries. One reason for this was their absence in the interiors of Protestant churches; after all, objection to Roman Catholic veneration of statues had been one of the contentious points of the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. Another was the comparatively small class of nobles. Sculptures were commissioned for government buildings, private buildings (often adorning housefronts) and exteriors of churches. There was also a clientele for grave monuments and portrait busts.

Hendrick de Keyser
Hendrick de Keyser
Hendrick de Keyser was a Dutch sculptor and architect born in Utrecht, Netherlands, who was instrumental in establishing a late Renaissance form of Mannerism in Amsterdam...

, who was active at the dawn of the Golden Age, is one of the few prominent home-grown sculptors. In the 1650s and 1660s, the Flemish
Flemish people
The Flemings or Flemish are the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Belgium, where they are mostly found in the northern region of Flanders. They are one of two principal cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons...

 sculptor Artus I Quellinus, along with his family and followers like Rombout Verhulst
Rombout Verhulst
Rombout Verhulst was a Brabant sculptor.-Life:Rombout Verhulst studied in Mechelen with the sculptors Rombout Verstappen en Frans van Loo ....

, were responsible for the classicizing
Classicism
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

 decorations for the Amsterdam city hall
Royal Palace (Amsterdam)
The Royal Palace in Amsterdam is one of three palaces in the Netherlands which is at the disposal of Queen Beatrix by Act of Parliament. The palace was built as city hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the seventeenth century. The building became the royal palace of king Louis Napoleon and later...

 (now the Royal Palace, Amsterdam). This remains the major monument of Dutch Golden Age sculpture.

Literature


The Golden Age was also an important time for developments in literature. Some of the major figures of this period were Gerbrand Adriaenszoon Bredero, Jacob Cats
Jacob Cats
Jacob Cats was a Dutch poet, humorist, jurist and politician. He is most famous for his emblem books.-Early years:...

, Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft
Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft
Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft - Knight in the Order of Saint Michael - was a Dutch historian, poet and playwright from the period known as the Dutch Golden Age.-Life:...

 and Joost van den Vondel
Joost van den Vondel
Joost van den Vondel was a Dutch writer and playwright. He is considered the most prominent Dutch poet and playwright of the 17th century. His plays are the ones from that period that are still most frequently performed, and his epic Joannes de Boetgezant , on the life of John the Baptist, has...

.

See also

  • First Stadtholderless Period
    First Stadtholderless Period
    The First Stadtholderless Period or Era is the period in the history of the Dutch Republic in which the office of a Stadtholder was absent in five of the seven Dutch provinces...

  • Tulip Mania
    Tulip mania
    Tulip mania or tulipomania was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed...

  • Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World
    Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World
    Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World is a book by the historian Professor Timothy Brook in which he explores the roots of world trade in the 17th century, through six paintings by the Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer...