The United Provinces in the Seventeenth Century




1600 - 1.5 million
1700 - 1.9 million


Maurits/ Maurice (1584-1625)
Frederik Hendrik/ Frederick Henry (1625-47)
Willem/ William II (1647-50)
[1650-72 No stadholder]
Willem/ William III (1672-1702)


Twelve Years Truce with Spain
1618-19 Synod of Dort
1652-4 Anglo-Dutch War
1664 Second Anglo-Dutch War
Peace of Nijmegen
Treaty of Rijswick


Hugo Grotius, Mare Liberum
Constantijn Huygens, Korenbloemen
Benedict Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus



Frederick Henry

William II

William III


The United Provinces, Republiek der Zeven Verenigde ProvinciŽn, (also sometimes referred to as the Dutch Republic or the Netherlands) was a federation of seven states - Holland, Zeeland, Gelderland, Utrecht, Friesland, Overijssel and Groningen. Of these, Holland was the largest and most important. Standing at the mouth of the Rhine, the Low Countries had long been a wealthy trading centre; during the seventeenth century, the Dutch extended their trade worldwide. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was founded, and it came to dominate the trade of New Guinea, Borneo, Sumatra and Java. In the West, the Dutch settled and traded in the Caribbean, Brazil, and North America. Dutch ships carried goods for many other countries, and Dutch religious toleration attracted many productive immigrants. At a time when most Europeans worked in agriculture, over half the population of the United Provinces lived in towns of more than 30,000.

Attracted by the Provinces' wealth, the Spanish crown tried to regain control of the United Provinces in the early seventeenth century, while the French had ambitions of conquest in the later part of the century. After the Twelve Years Truce (1609-21), the Dutch fought Spain intermittently until 1648. In 1672, Louis XIV of France invaded, and only the network of alliances that William of Orange constructed preserved Dutch independence in the forty years of warfare that followed.

The seventeenth century was the golden age of Dutch art - Rembrandt (1606-69), Frans Hals (1583-1666) and Johannes Vermeer (1632-75) created some of the greatest masterpieces of all time.


351 schedule