The history Essay

Submitted By keithfranke711
Words: 1530
Pages: 7

Golden Age of the Netherlands
Prior to the 17th century, the Low Countries were a place a relatively high wealth and culture. The Northern Renaissance was centralized in this region, and men like Rabelais, Pierre de Ronsard and Desiderius Erasmus were all core figures in the area of humanism. The Northern Renaissance could be seen as a precursor for the future success in the Netherlands. And during the 17th century the Netherlands rose up to become one of the most powerful countries in the world. The “Golden Age of the Netherlands” in the 1600’s can be attributed to a strong economy based on mercantilist policies, a unique sense of culture and values, and political independence. The expansion of the Dutch economy can be attributed to expanded trade and internal industries. The toleration for different beliefs and ideas was a unique attribute to the Dutch at this time. Gaining independence from Habsburg Spain was key for future Dutch success. During the 1600’s, the Dutch possessed one of the strongest economies Europe had ever seen. The people of the Netherlands had traditionally supported themselves through three main industries, fishing, trade, and textile production. These three core industries would help serve as the basis of the Dutch economic machine during the 1600’s. With a history in fishing, the Dutch were familiar with the open sea and using this knowledge were able to take over the Baltic Sea trade from the Hanseatic League. The use of excellent merchant marine vessels such as the Flyute was critical to Dutch trade domination. Throughout the golden age Dutch ships carried silk from China, spices from India, and sugar from the New World. These products were transported through trade cities such as Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam where they were sold across Europe. The position of the Dutch merchants as the middlemen for many important commodities made them very rich. The main proponent of the all this trade was the Dutch East India Company. Founded in 1602 as one of the first joint stock companies in Europe, the VOC quickly grew to become a major player in the international spice trade. Men like Jan Huyghen van Linschoten and Cornelis de Houtman were essential to helping spark the VOC into the spice. These men had worked for the Portuguese when Portugal was a major player in the spice trade in the 1500’s, and were able to bring their knowledge of trade routes and essential connections to kick start the VOC into the spice market. The Dutch East India Company was able to set up important trading posts in Dejima, Malacca , and Ceylon. These posts helped to fuel Dutch trade interests, imperialist attitudes, and world influence. The sister to the VOC was the Dutch West India Company who among many things, brought raw sugar from the West Indies to important sugar refining cities such as Amsterdam. Both the East and West India Companies were examples of the mercantilist policies of the Dutch in the 1600’s. Another facet that helped improved the Dutch economy was the establishment of the Bank of Amsterdam, which was one of the first central bank in Europe. The Bank of Amsterdam helped to further Dutch economic interests by extending credit to trading partners, such as giving a loan to a farmer in the West Indies to start up a sugar farm in exchange for exclusive trade rights with the VOC. Overall, the strength of a strong economy played a huge role in the success of the Dutch during this time period. Another aspect that made the Dutch so successful in the 1600’s was their ability to create a unique and productive culture. The people of the Low Countries were generally protestant, and many followed Calvinist ideas. The emphasis on work preached by John Calvin took a strong hold on the Dutch and perpetuated into the work ethic of the entire country. The protestant ideas of men like Luther, Calvin and Hus were all strongly represented in the middle and merchant classes. However despite being mostly protestant, the