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The Dutch Republic : its rise, greatness and…

The Dutch Republic : its rise, greatness and fall, 1477-1806 (urspr publ 1995; utgåvan 1995)

av Jonathan I. Israel

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
420946,690 (4.08)19
The Dutch Golden Age - the age of Grotius, Spinoza, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and a host of other renowned artists and writers, was also remarkable for its immense impact in the spheres of commerce, finance, shipping, and technology. It was in fact one of the most spectacularly creative episodes in the history of the world. In this book, Jonathan Israel gives the definitive account of the emergence of the United Provinces as a great power, and explains its subsequent decline in the eighteenth century. He places the thought, politics, religion, and social developments of the Golden Age in their broad context, and examines the changing relationship between the northern Netherlands and the south, which was to develop into modern Belgium. One of the principal aims of the book is to provide a new type of integrated history which draws the different dimensions of the discipline firmly together in strictly non-technical language. The result is a comprehensive and lucid account as useful to the reader primarily interested in artistic and cultural history as to the student who needs a survey of the Republic's institutions, class structure, and economic development. At the same time it will provide an invaluable aid to scholars interested in new research and new interpretations.… (mer)
Titel:The Dutch Republic : its rise, greatness and fall, 1477-1806
Författare:Jonathan I. Israel
Info:Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1995
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806 av Jonathan Israel (1995)


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It does what it says - a heavyweight (in every sense) overview of Dutch history from the late medieval period to Napoleon, focussing on how the Republic came into being, how it was governed, and how the political system related to developments in religious and intellectual life. Economic, military and colonial developments are covered as well, but not quite in the same level of detail.

What really interests Israel - probably to the despair of some readers, although I found it oddly fascinating - is the complicated way in which the Republic operated as a not-quite-federation of unequal and frequently disunited provinces, each of which had its own internal conflicts and divisions. In most of what I've read before about Dutch history, you only really get to hear about Holland, with the occasional passing mention of Geuzen in Zeeland and sieges in Brabant. But when you're reading Israel you also have to be aware of how the political manoeuvres in The Hague are affected by the complexities of relations between Groningen and its Ommelanden, or between the three quarters of Gelderland (I still don't know why they call them quarters if there are only three of them...). Endless fun, if you enjoy that kind of thing.

The other big element of the book is the analysis of what was going on in religion, science and philosophy (and to a lesser extent, the arts), and how it was enabled and sometimes restricted by the peculiarities of the Dutch political system. Israel makes it clear that there's a lot more to it than the standard idea that official tolerance created a kind of free market in ideas and gave the Netherlands an advantage over the repressive, absolutist rest of Europe. In fact, when it comes down to it, the religious establishment in the 17th century Netherlands had as little tolerance for divergent ideas as their protestant and catholic neighbours, and preachers were constantly campaigning to have sects other than their own shut down, books burnt, professors banned from teaching Descartes or Spinoza, and all the rest of it. There was always a strong "Voetian" element in the Dutch Reformed Church that felt that religious observance ought to be enforced by law. And it never took much to provoke the urban working classes to start an anti-Catholic riot. Where the Dutch Republic was different from the rest of Europe seems to have been in a pragmatic sense at the highest levels of government that public order mattered more than religious conformity. The state never regulated what people believed, but it could - and did - intervene to stop them causing unnecessary trouble, e.g. by publishing revolutionary ideas in Dutch, or by over-zealous preaching. Then as now, Dutch society was all about minimising overlast (nuisance). The other key thing in the 17th century Netherlands was that there was so much divergence from province to province and town to town, that you could almost always find somewhere where your views were acceptable. Spinoza moved from Amsterdam to Voorburg after he was expelled from the synagogue; professors who were too unorthodox for Leiden were generally welcomed in the rival universities at Franeker or Groningen (and vice-versa).

Whilst reading this book, I more than once had to wonder why OUP didn't split it into two (or more) volumes. This is essentially narrative history that you want to read sequentially and at leisure, not a reference book for dipping into. But a dictionary-sized book like this (1130 pages of text plus another hundred of index and bibliography) is just far too heavy to hold comfortably. My Everyman edition of Motley is about the same total number of pages in total, but in three nice, pocket-sized volumes. You could easily slip one of those into your backpack. Not that you can in any way compare Motley's chatty style and unconcealed protestant propaganda with what Israel is doing... ( )
2 rösta thorold | Oct 13, 2018 |
Het kado aan mezelf met alle boekenbonnen die ik voor mijn 50e heb gekregen.
Sommige boeken zijn gewoon te mooi om niet te hebben !
  pjotrb | Sep 20, 2013 |
Dit is een monumentaal werk. Meer dan 1200 bladzijden lang vertelt Jonathan Israël de geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Republiek van de Bourgondische tijd tot in de negentiende eeuw. Twaalf jaar werkte de auteur aan zijn Magnum Opus. Onmisbaar voor iedere Nederlander ( of Vlaming) die zich voor zijn verleden interesseert. Daarbij ook nog fijn beschreven. ( )
  judikasp | Apr 5, 2013 |
Many words about a small country

It took Jonathan Israel 12 years to write The Dutch Republic with a core text of 1130 pages: it will take you some time to tame this beast. What you get is a clearly written wider context of the Dutch Republic, a country of some 2 million people, and its political history from before the Burgundian time until the day Napoleon blew up its remains.

Mr. Israel does not treat all periods evenly. E.g. The last century, a period of decline, is covered in about 100 pages. The Dutch Republic was very much like the European Union today: a patchwork of entities that had to be convinced into compromises (albeit with often Holland as its leading power). This makes the many chapters on political history tough going; the casual reader may be discouraged by the book's sheer volume and level of detail and Amsterdamers will certainly be topographically challenged. On the other hand, the attention to macro economic development and demography throughout the book are certainly a plus. In general I found the thematic chapters about this exotic world where “unsophisticated folk in taverns” discussed if God really turned Moses' staff into a serpent (the impact of Cartesian thought, p.892) the most rewarding and mostly too short to my liking. I would not rate this my "definitive history" on the Dutch Republic.

The author paints a story of republicanism vs. support for the House of Orange and (the Calvinistic) religion vs. the values of the Enlightenment. Mostly, but not always, the church and the house of Orange were in the same block, as were Republicans and the proponents of the Enlightenment. The common man and woman usually supported the church and the house of Orange and they were regularly willing to protest and riot for their favourites in a society that was otherwise very orderly. Additionally there were the maritime provinces (rich, supporting the navy) vs. the landlocked provinces (poorer, supporting the army). Being surrounded by larger countries, its foreign policy was based upon finding allies much of the time. Its overseas colonies were seen as necessary for its survival. However, its smaller scale and the mercantilism of its neighbours led to its decline and fall. It was a country both benefiting and suffering from its location in between larger powers. Through time the gap with the southern Netherlands became set, because of the continuous inspiration the north drew from the revolt against Spain and the institutions established with independence. At the same time the south was strongly influenced by the Counter Reformation. Belgium's revolution against the Habsburgs was conservative in character.

Mr. Israels stresses the difference between the Low Countries north and south of the great rivers as early as the 14th century. A century earlier the north had barely been habitable. Flanders and Brabant never showed much interest in the north and allowed the rise of the county Holland. Holland soon had a relatively large number of inhabitants in towns. The subsequent Burgundian state retained its orientation on the south and remained a playground for a southern, French-speaking elite. The duke was more interested in France and England, where Holland's interest were primarily the Baltic and the competition with the Hanseatic League. Without a noble leader the State of Holland even waged war independently from the south. Holland would be the main financier of the emperor to bring the other Northern provinces into the Habsburg empire. Holland and Gelderland stressed the Batavian myth as an expression of nationalism, and something not shared with the southern provinces.

The impact of Christian humanism was deeper and more widespread than in Germany, France, or England. It had arisen first in the Netherlands and, in contrast to elsewhere, had captured the civic schools early enough to inspire an educated elite by 1520 (p.52). Erasmus was its great inspiration. The Dutch translations of his works speeded up the Reformation. With the Habsburg government opposed the early Dutch Reformation was a bottom-up process, which makes it strikingly different from Germany, Switzerland, Britain and Scandinavia. The worldly character and weak organisation of the Catholic church may have helped (p.75). Monasteries and nunneries were emptying. The wider spread of Luther's works in the Netherlands may have to do with the more highly urbanised society and consequential higher literacy. Also, incorporation into the Habsburg Empire came too late for some northern parts. The Habsburg inquisition could curb the development of Lutheranism only at an elite level. Lutheranism could not organise itself as in Germany, which led to diversity, including Zwinglians, Mennonites and spiritualism. In much of the northern Netherlands the prosecution of Protestants withered. Calvinism spread mainly from the refugee churches in London and and particularly Germany where its leaders spent long times. Calvin's strength was his clarity and appeal for order that helped counter the fragmentation of Dutch and Flemish Protestantism. Calvinism made little impact in some profoundly rural areas.

The Northern provinces were highly urbanised for their times, but no city dominated the others. At the same time, agriculture, foremost in Flanders, added high value through various innovations. Cheap Baltic wheat helped Dutch farmers to be innovative. Bulk freight and herring fishery dominated northern industries. Holland had some 1,800 seagoing vessels by 1560, far more than any other European country. Lacking dominant merchants, ship ownership was spread in the north.

The Habsburgs tried to weld the Low Countries into a single, integrated state serviced by a growing university-trained bureaucracy. The reliance on non-noble administrators and assignment of posts to people from elsewhere somewhat alienated local nobility. On the other hand, the Habsburgs organised loans from the provinces to the public to fund its war against France.

William the Silent openly stated in the Council of the State that repression of the individual conscience had no place in the government of the country. As such he was backed by other leading nobles. Margaret of Parma had to suspend the anti-heresy placards temporarily, allowing the coming out of Calvinism. Philip II refused and sent the Duke of Alva. This led to a temporary repositioning of the Catholic church and confiscation of Orange's property whereupon the prince decided to join the rebels. He managed to find funding for the revolt in Germany. Alva's tax proposal was another attack on the independence of the provinces.

Mr. Israel mentions as causes for the success of the revolt the northern power block of Holland (the only province with institutional cohesion), the backing of the nobility and patriciate in the north, the more militant character of Catholicism in Wallonia and parts of Brabant, and the difficulty for an army to operate in low-lying areas (p.170). Throughout time the Calvinists would become less tolerant of remaining Catholics. Politics remained fractional after the death of William the Silent and as a protectorate of the English queen Elizabeth. Van Oldebarnevelt managed to get at least much of the military decision making under the States of Holland, made Maurice of Nassau stadholder of Gelderland and managed to broker other compromises. Maurice proved to be an effective and innovative general, reducing the duration of sieges with extensive bombing. Influenced by Justus Lipsius and his study of Roman warfare, order, drill and standardisation were also important elements (p.267) and had great influence in Germany (Prussia) and in Gustavus Adolphus' Sweden.

The Republic's rise as the centre for "rich trades" and the processing industries that accompanied them made Holland into Europe's chief emporium with a primacy in world commerce. This went hand in hand with a dramatic transformation of Dutch urban society. Immigrants to Holland and Zeeland from the south Netherlands greatly helped starting this (p.309). Many monastic and convent buildings were offered as workshops. The Twelve Year Truce with Spain allowed trade to develop. The Thirty Years War gave space to the Dutch textile industry. Soon business was expanded to the Iberian Peninsula, the Levant, the Indies, Brazil and Africa (Brazil being particularly important for early Dutch colonialism). The truce itself was a compromise after a failed offer of recognition of Dutch independence from Spain in exchange for the Dutch trading posts in the Indies (p.400). The largest investors here were often South Netherlanders. Cities enjoyed heavy immigration at a time that their death rate was still higher than their (high) birth rate and expanded (p.329). Employment and wages were better than elsewhere (double of Germany's). Germany but also England became major sources of immigrants. The towns in the inland provinces remained stagnant. Overall, agriculture was very profitable, leading to large scale land reclamations like the Beemster. The system was complemented by extensive social security organised by the towns for old and sick care, poor relief (orphans and the partly abled could still earn money in this high-income time, p.355) and madhouses. It was organised by the towns who decided about the contribution of the Reformed and tolerated churches. Cities expressed their pride in such institutions, but also used them as an instrument to maintain order. In Amsterdam about 10% of the population was recipient of charity. The Reformed Church had a very limited backing in the beginning (some 10% of the population), but successfully increased its following thanks to state backing. The same, without the state backing, applied to a lesser extent to the other religions, including Catholicism. The authorities became more relaxed about Catholic proselytising once the Reformed had a stable position. In those lands were Catholicism remained supported by the state Protestantism ebbed away.

The Truce led to conflicts between Remonstrants and stricter Counter Remonstrants about the role of the state and the flavour of Calvinism in the new Republic. The latter group won, causing a rise in the power of stadholder Maurice and the beheading of his opponent Oldebarnevelt. The end of the Truce led to economic contraction and the long-term decline of the West Frisian ports. The worsening financial situation led to the invention of stamp duty on all legal contracts and documents as a means to tax the affluent (p.485). Remonstrants soon made a come back. The Mantuan war made the Habsburgs diverted their military expenses to the Italian theatre, with as a result that the Dutch army soon exceeded the Spanish in size. After the fall of 's-Hertogenbosch, Spain offered an indefinite truce, which was opposed by Counter Remonstrants, Zeeland and those most relying on colonial trade, which Usselincx found necessary for the Republic's long term flourishing (p.510).

The vast number of artists (with many coming from the south) depressed the costs of art and allowed civic government to use art as propaganda or to impress the public. The older art from Catholic churches that was not too Catholic graced the walls of civic buildings. The economic rise allowed an outpouring of art that "has never been equalled by any other society or age". There must have been some 200,000 quality paintings in the country by 1650, whereas part of the production was exported to protestant parts of Germany. The difficulty to obtain certain dyes from the Americas and the Mediterranean led to more monochrome pictures in the 1620's. Brown and grey dominated and more austere scenes were painted. Leiden University only grew seriously after 1590, soon exceeding Cambridge and Leipzig thanks to many (more than half) foreign students. Theology, law and medicine were the favourite disciplines. Mathematics also figured prominently in academic life and in Dutch high culture.

The Peace of Westphalia was a great boost to the economy, although not for those parts reliant upon antagonism with Spain (Zeeland, Dutch Brazil, inland garrison towns). In general Holland gained, the periphery lost. The Baltic bulk trade drastically fell in importance, but "rich trades" and industry rallied.

Stadholder William II again chose the side of the Counter Remonstrants to reduce the power of the regents. As one of the first he did with a direct appeal to the people. His untimely dead would lead to a period of rule by regents. By now, toleration of minority religions could not be reversed anymore, although intolerance remained on a local and regional level. The Counter Remonstrants could usually count on the populace for support. Dutch freedom was a complex phenomenon rooted in a deep preoccupation with order and discipline (p.677). Neighbourhood watches were the most important instruments of discipline in the towns. Dutch society was often less permissive of errant, deviant or flamboyant behaviour than of unorthodox ideas. Dutch society was more prone than elsewhere in Europe to repress bawdiness, eroticism, undisguised homosexuality and street prostitution (p.682). Even Amsterdan had no real "red light district"; brothels "can be compared to the 'hidden churches' of the Catholics". Foreign observers remarked on the coldness of the Dutch female, who eschewed all coquetry. High necklines remained in fashion when elsewhere bossoms flaunted. Discipline was also enforced by the house visits of preachers from the Reformed consistories. Bible and catechism reading increased literacy levels beyond the already high levels in the south. Reading and writing were considered more important than arithmetic in elementary education. Schools were subsidised institutes of rod learning, later often teaching the poor free of charge.

Mr. Israel sees England's loss of trade to the Dutch and their Navigation Act as the main cause for the First Anglo-Dutch War. At first the Dutch lost to the superior English navy, but by expanding the war to the Sound and the Mediterranean, peace was enacted. De Witt used this to exclude the House of Orange from a role in Holland, basing himself upon the superiority of the Florentine Republic (p.726); Machiavelli was another inspiration for the republicans. The peace meant another rise in wealth for Holland as core of the Republic. The coronation of Charles II benefited the position of his nephew, the young William III.

De Witt underestimated the threat of Britain and France who signed a secret anti-Dutch pact in 1669. The Dutch ambassador to London failed in his intelligence. Louis had also pacted with the Prince-Bishop of Muenster. At the same time De Witt proposed to abolish the stadholderate forever. His republicanism was supported by an intellectual coterie with Spinoza as the most famous person. De Witt still proposed a position for William III, however. The full scale war of 1672 against France, Britain and Muenster led to much popular protest against the authorities, with women playing a notable role. William became stadholder, while De Witt was lynched by a rioting mob and his allies were purged. The Dutch navy won the Third Anglo-Dutch War and alliance with Spain saved the land. Still the merchants of Amsterdam took the view that the vesting of power in a hereditary ruler, rather than the States, was detrimental to business and financial confidence (p.814). Bonds fell on the Amsterdam Exchange. The stadholder's men were also more corrupt and less capable.

1688 seemed to become like 1672 (p.845). Mr. Israel presents the Glorious Revolution as an invasion prepared for by William with (at first secret) consent of the States to create an anti-French union (p.848). In preparation the Stadholder had hired soldiers in Germany to protect the Republic's hinterland. This gave him "the pick of Dutch forces", an army bigger than James II's, to invade Britain. The Dutch invasion fleet was four times the Armada. James' irresolution led to his army crumbling and Orange's entry into London in triumph. Dutch troops guarded London for months to come. William was "master of England (...) long before Parliament met and hesitantly agreed to make him king".

The decline of Dutch maritime and industrial power would set in in 1688 during the Nine Years War, but broadly the Golden Age would last until about 1740. After 1688 the trend became one of de-urbanisation. As of 1688 real wages and the price of large houses fell in Amsterdam (p.859). This was at the same time of the Dutch decline in Asian trade and in West Africa. New commodities were imported by the French from areas where the Dutch had no garrisons (p.940); this after a period when the Dutch had developed the intra-Asian trade for lack of Spanish bullion. In Asia the system of consultative government of governors and councils was replicated. The chambers at home were managed by the local regent elites, rather than by shareholder representatives: the Company had received generality powers from the States General and all diplomatic tasks were done in their name. Still competence was important to generate profit and most governors were from modest or humble backgrounds.

After William's death, Holland chose no new stadholder and held new local elections. The Republic soon entered the War of the Spanish Succession with its largest army ever (larger than Britain's), requiring very steep taxes. The disruption of trade with Spain, the Spanish Americas and France caused unprecedented costs. The war exhausted the Republic and France. A separate deal between France and Britain brought benefits to the latter. After the war the Dutch brought their army back to previous peace time levels, whereas other European powers reduced to a lesser degree. The war had been fought on credit which did not comply well with its crumbling urban economy. Amsterdam's trade remained static at best but overall production fell in absolute and relative numbers (p.1000) after 1720. The root cause was the expansion of industrial activity and industrial mercantilism elsewhere (p.1002). States closed their borders for others' production and the Republic lacked Britain's vast imperial power, large navy and populous colonies to sustain growth. The smaller cities shrank, whilst Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam continued to draw their vitality. Skilled workers emigrated, the lesser skilled to the Americas. Dutch capital was invested overseas, now that institutions like the Bank of England made it more secure. Regents became more and more rentiers, their wealth held in paper securities. Workers defended themselves through strikes and workers' societies "to protect the established Protestant worker" against employers keen on using child and foreign labour. The middle strata were squeezed while immigration from Germany remained high. Just like with England, the Enlightenment's impact was on the decrease in the 18th century. Dutch science went from Cartesian deductive science to empirical esprit systematique and Newtonian science. Spinoza remained a significant undercurrent of Dutch cultural life, but ultimately, the principal preoccupation of the later Dutch Enlightenment was the decline of the Republic (p.1064).

The weak resistance to a French army in 1747 turned the fortune of the House of Orange again. The stadholderate was returned by popular demand. The demands were also aimed at the way the regents ruled the city and the subordination of the citizenry. The staddholder's main advisor wanted to set up a cabinet to act as central executive. These reforms were a bridge too far for William IV, who died soon after. His son William V was weak and indecisive. Dutch support for the American Revolution and the British expectation that taking over Dutch colonies and offset losses in North America led to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (p.1097), a disaster for the Republic. A Patriot Movement started stressing participation of the people (irrespective of religion) and people's militias, based upon the American example. Only Prussian intervention could stop the revolution. The French invasion, happily awaited by many, ended the stadholderate. The new Batavian Republic became a French protectorate. ( )
5 rösta mercure | May 10, 2012 |
DE REPUBLIEK, 1477-1806 geeft een onvoorstelbaar compleet en levendig beeld van de geschiedenis van de Nederlandse Republiek. De Bourgondiërs, de Habsburgers, het begin van de Reformatie en Renaissance, Alva, De Opstand, de Republiek als wereldmacht, tachtig jaar oorlog, de VOC, regenten en armenzorg, tolerantie en onderdrukking, het Twaalfjarig Bestand, Oldenbarnevelt en Maurits, de universiteiten, de kunst van de Gouden Eeuw, de stadhouderloze tijdperken, de Engelse Oorlogen, het Rampjaar, de gebroeders de Witt, de Glorieuze Revolutie, de patriotten - alles krijgt zijn plaats in dit weidse panorama.

NBD|Biblion recensie
De auteur van dit kloeke boekwerk is een Engelse hoogleraar geschiedenis, die reeds verschillende titels over Nederland tijdens de 17de eeuw op zijn naam heeft staan. In dit werk biedt hij een uitgebreid en gedetailleerd overzicht van politieke, sociale, economische en culturele ontwikkelingen in Nederland vanaf de late middeleeuwen tot het eind van de Bataafse Republiek. De meeste aandacht gaat uit naar de periode van de opstand en de daarop volgende bloeitijd in de 17de eeuw. Israel blijkt over een omvangrijke detailkennis en een vlotte pen te beschikken. Anders dan sommige Nederlandse historici beschouwt hij de Noordelijke en Zuidelijke Nederlanden niet als een soort natuurlijke tweeeenheid die door toevallige gebeurtenissen werd verbroken, maar gaat hij ervan uit dat bepaalde factoren onherroepelijk tot de breuk tussen Nederland en Belgie aanleiding hebben gegeven. Vlot leesbare vertaling met een aantal kaarten, tabellen, zwart-witreproducties en literatuuropgave en register. Gebonden, kleine druk.

(NBD|Biblion recensie, Redactie)
  -Cicero- | Sep 17, 2011 |
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The political, economic, and cultural core of the Dutch Republic after 1572 was the province of Holland, and it is logical that our story should begin with the rise of Holland to the prominence in the Low Countries during the thirteenth century.
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The Dutch Golden Age - the age of Grotius, Spinoza, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and a host of other renowned artists and writers, was also remarkable for its immense impact in the spheres of commerce, finance, shipping, and technology. It was in fact one of the most spectacularly creative episodes in the history of the world. In this book, Jonathan Israel gives the definitive account of the emergence of the United Provinces as a great power, and explains its subsequent decline in the eighteenth century. He places the thought, politics, religion, and social developments of the Golden Age in their broad context, and examines the changing relationship between the northern Netherlands and the south, which was to develop into modern Belgium. One of the principal aims of the book is to provide a new type of integrated history which draws the different dimensions of the discipline firmly together in strictly non-technical language. The result is a comprehensive and lucid account as useful to the reader primarily interested in artistic and cultural history as to the student who needs a survey of the Republic's institutions, class structure, and economic development. At the same time it will provide an invaluable aid to scholars interested in new research and new interpretations.

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