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In Oss , a grave dating from around BC was found in a burial mound 52 metres wide and thus the largest of its kind in western Europe. Dubbed the "king's grave" Vorstengraf Oss , it contained extraordinary objects, including an iron sword with an inlay of gold and coral. The contemporary southern and western migration of Germanic groups and the northern expansion of the Hallstatt culture drew these peoples into each other's sphere of influence.

The Germanic tribes originally inhabited southern Scandinavia , Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg , [14] but subsequent Iron Age cultures of the same region, like Wessenstedt — BC and Jastorf , may also have belonged to this grouping. Archaeological evidence suggests around BC a relatively uniform Germanic people from the Netherlands to the Vistula and southern Scandinavia. By the time this migration was complete, around BC, a few general cultural and linguistic groupings had emerged.

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One grouping - labelled the " North Sea Germanic " — inhabited the northern part of the Netherlands north of the great rivers and extending along the North Sea and into Jutland. This group is also sometimes referred to as the " Ingvaeones ". Included in this group are the peoples who would later develop into, among others, the early Frisians and the early Saxons. A second grouping, which scholars subsequently dubbed the " Weser-Rhine Germanic " or "Rhine-Weser Germanic" , extended along the middle Rhine and Weser and inhabited the southern part of the Netherlands south of the great rivers.

This group, also sometimes referred to as the " Istvaeones ", consisted of tribes that would eventually develop into the Salian Franks. The Celtic culture had its origins in the central European Hallstatt culture c. This would have been the northern reach of the Gauls. In March 17 Celtic coins were found in Echt Limburg. The silver coins, mixed with copper and gold, date from around 50 BC to 20 AD. In October a hoard of 39 gold coins and 70 silver Celtic coins was found in the Amby area of Maastricht.

Although it is rare for hoards to be found, in past decades loose Celtic coins and other objects have been found throughout the central, eastern and southern part of the Netherlands. Dutch archaeologists even speculate that Zutphen which lies in the centre of the country was a Celtic area before the Romans arrived, not a Germanic one at all.

Scholars debate the actual extent of the Celtic influence. One of the most important is Caesar's own Commentarii de Bello Gallico. Two main tribes he described as living in what is now the Netherlands were the Menapii , and the Eburones , both in the south, which is where Caesar was active. He established the principle that the Rhine defined a natural boundary between Gaul and Germania magna. But the Rhine was not a strong border, and he made it clear that there was a part of Belgic Gaul where many of the local tribes including the Eburones were " Germani cisrhenani ", or in other cases, of mixed origin.

In later Roman times their territory seems to have been divided or reduced, so that it became mainly contained in what is now western Belgium. The Eburones , the largest of the Germani Cisrhenani group, covered a large area including at least part of modern Dutch Limburg , stretching east to the Rhine in Germany, and also northwest to the delta, giving them a border with the Menapii.

Their territory may have stretched into Gelderland. In the delta itself, Caesar makes a passing comment about the Insula Batavorum "Island of the Batavi" in the Rhine river , without discussing who lived there. Later, in imperial times, a tribe called the Batavi became very important in this region. The approximately years of Roman rule that followed would profoundly change the area that would become the Netherlands. Very often this involved large-scale conflict with the free Germanic tribes over the Rhine.

Other tribes who eventually inhabited the islands in the delta during Roman times are mentioned by Pliny the Elder are the Cananefates in South Holland; the Frisii , covering most of the modern Netherlands north of the Oude Rijn ; the Frisiabones , who apparently stretched from the delta into the North of North Brabant; the Marsacii , who stretched from the Flemish coast, into the delta; and the Sturii.

Caesar reported that he eliminated the name of the Eburones but in their place the Texuandri inhabited most of North Brabant, and the modern province of Limburg, with the Maas running through it, appears to have been inhabited in imperial times by from north to south the Baetasii , the Catualini , the Sunuci and the Tungri. Tacitus reported that the Tungri was a new name for the earlier Germani cisrhenani. North of the Old Rhine, apart from the Frisii, Pliny reports some Chauci reached into the delta, and two other tribes known from the eastern Netherlands were the Tuihanti or Tubantes from Twenthe in Overijssel, and the Chamavi , from Hamaland in northern Gelderland, who became one of the first tribes to be named as Frankish see below.

The Salians , also Franks, probably originated in Salland in Overijssel, before they moved into the empire, forced by Saxons in the 4th century, first into Batavia, and then into Toxandria. After a series of military actions, the Rhine became fixed around 12 AD as Rome's northern frontier on the European mainland. A number of towns and developments would arise along this line. The area to the south would be integrated into the Roman Empire.

At first part of Gallia Belgica , this area became part of the province of Germania Inferior. The tribes already within, or relocated to, this area became part of the Roman Empire. The area to the north of the Rhine, inhabited by the Frisii and the Chauci , remained outside Roman rule but not its presence and control. Romans built military forts along the Limes Germanicus and a number of towns and smaller settlements in the Netherlands. Perhaps the most evocative Roman ruin is the mysterious Brittenburg , which emerged from the sand at the beach in Katwijk several centuries ago, only to be buried again.

These ruins were part of Lugdunum Batavorum. The Batavians , Cananefates, and the other border tribes were held in high regard as soldiers throughout the empire, and traditionally served in the Roman cavalry. In the first centuries after Rome's conquest of Gaul, trade flourished. And Roman, Gaulish and Germanic material culture are found combined in the region. The leader of this revolt was Batavian Gaius Julius Civilis.

One of the causes of the rebellion was that the Romans had taken young Batavians as slaves. A number of Roman castella were attacked and burnt. Other Roman soldiers in Xanten and elsewhere and auxiliary troops of Batavians and Canninefatae in the legions of Vitellius joined the revolt, thus splitting the northern part of the Roman army. In April 70 AD, a few legions sent by Vespasianus and commanded by Quintus Petillius Cerialis eventually defeated the Batavians and negotiated surrender with Gaius Julius Civilis somewhere between the Waal and the Maas near Noviomagus Nijmegen , which was probably called "Batavodurum" by the Batavians.

Dutch writers in the 17th and 18th centuries saw the rebellion of the independent and freedom-loving Batavians as mirroring the Dutch revolt against Spain and other forms of tyranny. According to this nationalist view, the Batavians were the "true" forefathers of the Dutch, which explains the recurring use of the name over the centuries. Jakarta was named "Batavia" by the Dutch in The Dutch republic created in on the basis of French revolutionary principles was called the Batavian Republic.

Even today "Batavian" is a term sometimes used to describe the Dutch people. This is similar to use of "Gallic" to describe the French and "Teutonic" to describe the Germans. Modern scholars of the Migration Period are in agreement that the Frankish identity emerged at the first half of the 3rd century out of various earlier, smaller Germanic groups, including the Salii , Sicambri , Chamavi , Bructeri , Chatti , Chattuarii , Ampsivarii , Tencteri , Ubii , Batavi and the Tungri , who inhabited the lower and middle Rhine valley between the Zuyder Zee and the river Lahn and extended eastwards as far as the Weser , but were the most densely settled around the IJssel and between the Lippe and the Sieg.

The Frankish confederation probably began to coalesce in the s. The Franks eventually were divided into two groups: the Ripuarian Franks Latin: Ripuari , who were the Franks that lived along the middle-Rhine River during the Roman Era, and the Salian Franks , who were the Franks that originated in the area of the Netherlands.

Franks appear in Roman texts as both allies and enemies laeti and dediticii.


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By about , the Franks had the region of the Scheldt river present day west Flanders and southwest Netherlands under control, and were raiding the Channel , disrupting transportation to Britain. Roman forces pacified the region, but did not expel the Franks, who continued to be feared as pirates along the shores at least until the time of Julian the Apostate , when Salian Franks were allowed to settle as foederati in Toxandria , according to Ammianus Marcellinus. Three factors contributed to the disappearance of the Frisii from the northern Netherlands. What happened to them, however, is suggested in the archaeological record.

The discovery of a type of earthenware unique to 4th-century Frisia , called terp Tritzum , shows that an unknown number of them were resettled in Flanders and Kent , [36] likely as laeti under Roman coercion. Second, the environment in the low-lying coastal regions of northwestern Europe began to lower c.

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Tectonic subsidence , a rising water table and storm surges combined to flood some areas with marine transgressions. This was accelerated by a shift to a cooler, wetter climate in the region. If there had been any Frisii left in Frisia, they would have drowned. As a result of these three factors, the Frisii and Frisiaevones disappeared from the area. The coastal lands remained largely unpopulated for the next two centuries. As climatic conditions improved, there was another mass migration of Germanic peoples into the area from the east.

This is known as the " Migration Period " Volksverhuizingen. The northern Netherlands received an influx of new migrants and settlers, mostly Saxons , but also Angles and Jutes. Many of these migrants did not stay in the northern Netherlands but moved on to England and are known today as the Anglo-Saxons.

The newcomers who stayed in the northern Netherlands would eventually be referred to as "Frisians", although they were not descended from the ancient Frisii. These new Frisians settled in the northern Netherlands and would become the ancestors of the modern Frisians. Old Frisian is the most closely related language to Old English [43] and the modern Frisian dialects are in turn the closest related languages to contemporary English.

By the end of the 6th century, the Frisian territory in the northern Netherlands had expanded west to the North Sea coast and, by the 7th century, south to Dorestad. During this period most of the northern Netherlands was known as Frisia. In the 7th and 8th centuries, the Frankish chronologies mention this area as the kingdom of the Frisians. This kingdom comprised the coastal provinces of the Netherlands and the German North Sea coast. During this time, the Frisian language was spoken along the entire southern North Sea coast. Dorestad was the largest settlement emporia in northwestern Europe.

It had grown around a former Roman fortress. It was a large, flourishing trading place, three kilometers long and situated where the rivers Rhine and Lek diverge southeast of Utrecht near the modern town of Wijk bij Duurstede. Between and around Dorestad was often fought over between the Frisians and the Franks. After Roman government in the area collapsed, the Franks expanded their territories until there were numerous small Frankish kingdoms, especially at Cologne , Tournai , Le Mans and Cambrai.

By the s, Clovis I had conquered and united all the Frankish territories to the west of the Meuse , including those in the southern Netherlands. He continued his conquests into Gaul. After the death of Clovis I in , his four sons partitioned his kingdom amongst themselves, with Theuderic I receiving the lands that were to become Austrasia including the southern Netherlands. A line of kings descended from Theuderic ruled Austrasia until , when it was united with the other Frankish kingdoms of Chlothar I , who inherited all the Frankish realms by He redivided the Frankish territory amongst his four sons, but the four kingdoms coalesced into three on the death of Charibert I in Austrasia including the southern Netherlands was given to Sigebert I.

The southern Netherlands remained the northern part of Austrasia until the rise of the Carolingians. The Franks who expanded south into Gaul settled there and eventually adopted the Vulgar Latin of the local population. It completely disappeared as a spoken language from these regions during the 10th century. A widening cultural divide grew between the Franks remaining in the north and the rulers far to the south in what is now France.

In the late 19th century, Dutch historians believed that the Franks, Frisians, and Saxons were the original ancestors of the Dutch people. Some went further by ascribing certain attributes, values and strengths to these various groups and proposing that they reflected 19th-century nationalist and religious views. In particular, it was believed that this theory explained why Belgium and the southern Netherlands i. The success of this theory was partly due to anthropological theories based on a tribal paradigm. Being politically and geographically inclusive, and yet accounting for diversity, this theory was in accordance with the need for nation-building and integration during the — period.

The theory was taught in Dutch schools. However, the disadvantages of this historical interpretation became apparent. This tribal-based theory suggested that external borders were weak or non-existent and that there were clear-cut internal borders. This origins myth provided an historical premise, especially during the Second World War, for regional separatism and annexation to Germany.

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After the tribal paradigm lost its appeal for anthropological scholars and historians. When the accuracy of the three-tribe theme was fundamentally questioned, the theory fell out of favour. Due to the scarcity of written sources, knowledge of this period depends to a large degree on the interpretation of archaeological data. The traditional view of a clear-cut division between Frisians in the north and coast, Franks in the south and Saxons in the east has proven historically problematic.

Even though the Franks are traditionally categorized as Weser-Rhine Germanic , Dutch has a number of Ingvaeonic characteristics and is classified by modern linguists as an Ingvaeonic language. Dutch also has a number of Old Saxon characteristics. Because texts written in the language spoken by the Franks are almost non-existent, and Old Dutch texts scarce and fragmentary, not much is known about the development of Old Dutch.

Old Dutch made the transition to Middle Dutch around The Christianity that arrived in the Netherlands with the Romans appears not to have died out completely in Maastricht , at least after the withdrawal of the Romans in about The Franks became Christians after their king Clovis I converted to Catholicism, an event which is traditionally set in Christianity was introduced in the north after the conquest of Friesland by the Franks.


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The Saxons in the east were converted before the conquest of Saxony , and became Frankish allies. Hiberno-Scottish and Anglo-Saxon missionaries, particularly Willibrord , Wulfram and Boniface , played an important role in converting the Frankish and Frisian peoples to Christianity by the 8th century. Boniface was martyred by the Frisians in Dokkum In the early 8th century the Frisians came increasingly into conflict with the Franks to the south, resulting in a series of wars in which the Frankish Empire eventually subjugated Frisia.

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In , at the Battle of the Boarn , the Frisians in the Netherlands were defeated by the Franks , who thereby conquered the area west of the Lauwers. The Franks then conquered the area east of the Lauwers in when Charlemagne defeated Widukind. The linguistic descendants of the Franks, the modern Dutch -speakers of the Netherlands and Flanders , seem to have broken with the endonym "Frank" around the 9th century. Although the people no longer referred to themselves as "Franks", the Netherlands was still part of the Frankish empire of Charlemagne.

In , the Frankish empire was divided into three parts, giving rise to West Francia in the west, East Francia in the east, and Middle Francia in the centre. This division was an important factor in the historical distinction between Flanders and the other Dutch-speaking areas. Middle Francia Latin : Francia media was an ephemeral Frankish kingdom that had no historical or ethnic identity to bind its varied peoples. It was created by the Treaty of Verdun in , which divided the Carolingian Empire among the sons of Louis the Pious. Situated between the realms of East and West Francia , Middle Francia comprised the Frankish territory between the rivers Rhine and Scheldt , the Frisian coast of the North Sea , the former Kingdom of Burgundy except for a western portion, later known as Bourgogne , Provence and the Kingdom of Italy.

Middle Francia fell to Lothair I , the eldest son and successor of Louis the Pious , after an intermittent civil war with his younger brothers Louis the German and Charles the Bald. In acknowledgement of Lothair's Imperial title, Middle Francia contained the imperial cities of Aachen , the residence of Charlemagne , as well as Rome. Most of the lands north of the Alps , including the Netherlands, passed to Lothair II and consecutively were named Lotharingia. Although some of the Netherlands had come under Viking control, in it technically became part of East Francia , which became the Holy Roman Empire in In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Vikings raided the largely defenceless Frisian and Frankish towns lying on the coast and along the rivers of the Low Countries.

Although Vikings never settled in large numbers in those areas, they did set up long-term bases and were even acknowledged as lords in a few cases. In Dutch and Frisian historical tradition, the trading centre of Dorestad declined after Viking raids from to ; however, since no convincing Viking archaeological evidence has been found at the site as of , doubts about this have grown in recent years.

One of the most important Viking families in the Low Countries was that of Rorik of Dorestad based in Wieringen and his brother the "younger Harald" based in Walcheren , both thought to be nephews of Harald Klak. And again in , Rorik was received by Charles the Bald in Nijmegen , to whom he became a vassal. Viking raids continued during that period. Harald's son Rodulf and his men were killed by the people of Oostergo in Rorik died sometime before Buried Viking treasures consisting mainly of silver have been found in the Low Countries. Two such treasures have been found in Wieringen.

A large treasure found in Wieringen in dates from around and is thought perhaps to have been connected to Rorik. The burial of such a valuable treasure is seen as an indication that there was a permanent settlement in Wieringen. Around , Godfrid arrived in Frisian lands as the head of a large force that terrorised the Low Countries. Controlling most of Frisia between and his death in , Godfrid became known to history as Godfrid, Duke of Frisia. His lordship over Frisia was acknowledged by Charles the Fat , to whom he became a vassal.

Godfried was assassinated in , after which Gerolf of Holland assumed lordship and Viking rule of Frisia came to an end. Viking raids of the Low Countries continued for over a century. Remains of Viking attacks dating from to have been found in Zutphen and Deventer. In , King Henry of Germany liberated Utrecht. These Viking raids occurred about the same time that French and German lords were fighting for supremacy over the middle empire that included the Netherlands, so their sway over this area was weak. Resistance to the Vikings, if any, came from local nobles, who gained in stature as a result.

The German kings and emperors ruled the Netherlands in the 10th and 11th century. The Dutch city of Nijmegen used to be the spot of an important domain of the German emperors. Several German emperors were born and died there, including for example Byzantine empress Theophanu , who died in Nijmegen. Utrecht was also an important city and trading port at the time.

The Holy Roman Empire was not able to maintain political unity. In addition to the growing independence of the towns, local rulers turned their counties and duchies into private kingdoms and felt little sense of obligation to the emperor who reigned over large parts of the nation in name only. Friesland and Groningen in the north maintained their independence and were governed by the lower nobility. The various feudal states were in a state of almost continual war.

Gelre and Holland fought for control of Utrecht. Utrecht, whose bishop had in ruled over half of what is today the Netherlands, was marginalised as it experienced continuing difficulty in electing new bishops. At the same time, the dynasties of neighbouring states were more stable. Groningen , Drenthe and most of Gelre, which used to be part of Utrecht, became independent.

Brabant tried to conquer its neighbours, but was not successful. Holland also tried to assert itself in Zeeland and Friesland, but its attempts failed. The language and culture of most of the people who lived in the area that is now Holland were originally Frisian. The sparsely populated area was known as "West Friesland" Westfriesland. As Frankish settlement progressed, the Frisians migrated away or were absorbed and the area quickly became Dutch. The rest of Friesland in the north continued to maintain its independence during this time. It had its own institutions collectively called the " Frisian freedom " and resented the imposition of the feudal system and the patriciate found in other European towns.

They regarded themselves as allies of Switzerland. The Frisian battle cry was "better dead than a slave". They later lost their independence when they were defeated in by the German Landsknecht mercenaries of Duke Albrecht of Saxony-Meissen. The center of power in these emerging independent territories was in the County of Holland. Originally granted as a fief to the Danish chieftain Rorik in return for loyalty to the emperor in , the region of Kennemara the region around modern Haarlem rapidly grew under Rorik's descendants in size and importance.

In , the name "Holland" first appears in a deed referring to a region corresponding more or less to the current province of South Holland and the southern half of what is now North Holland. Holland's influence continued to grow over the next two centuries. The counts of Holland conquered most of Zeeland but it was not until that Count Floris V was able to subjugate the Frisians in West Friesland that is, the northern half of North Holland. Around AD there were several agricultural developments described sometimes as an agricultural revolution that resulted in an increase in production, especially food production.

The economy started to develop at a fast pace, and the higher productivity allowed workers to farm more land or to become tradesmen. Much of the western Netherlands was barely inhabited between the end of the Roman period until around AD, when farmers from Flanders and Utrecht began purchasing the swampy land, draining it and cultivating it. This process happened quickly and the uninhabited territory was settled in a few generations. They built independent farms that were not part of villages, something unique in Europe at the time. Guilds were established and markets developed as production exceeded local needs.

Also, the introduction of currency made trading a much easier affair than it had been before. Existing towns grew and new towns sprang into existence around monasteries and castles , and a mercantile middle class began to develop in these urban areas.

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Commerce and town development increased as the population grew. At home, there was relative peace. Viking pillaging had stopped. Both the Crusades and the relative peace at home contributed to trade and the growth in commerce. Cities arose and flourished, especially in Flanders and Brabant. As the cities grew in wealth and power, they started to buy certain privileges for themselves from the sovereign , including city rights , the right to self-government and the right to pass laws. In practice, this meant that the wealthiest cities became quasi-independent republics in their own right.

Two of the most important cities were Brugge and Antwerp in Flanders which would later develop into some of the most important cities and ports in Europe. Most of these wars were fought over the title of count of Holland , but some have argued that the underlying reason was because of the power struggle of the bourgeois in the cities against the ruling nobility.

The Cod faction generally consisted of the more progressive cities of Holland. The Hook faction consisted for a large part of the conservative noblemen. But perhaps the most well known is Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut. Leading noblemen in Holland invited the duke to conquer Holland, even though he had no historical claim to it. Some historians [ who? Europe had been wracked by many civil wars in the 14th and 15th centuries, while Flanders had grown rich and enjoyed peace.

Most of what is now the Netherlands and Belgium was eventually united by the Duke of Burgundy in Before the Burgundian union, the Dutch identified themselves by the town they lived in, their local duchy or county or as subjects of the Holy Roman Empire. The Burgundian period is when the Dutch began the road to nationhood. Holland's trade developed rapidly, especially in the areas of shipping and transport. The new rulers defended Dutch trading interests. The fleets of Holland defeated the fleets of the Hanseatic League several times. Amsterdam grew and in the 15th century became the primary trading port in Europe for grain from the Baltic region.

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Amsterdam distributed grain to the major cities of Belgium, Northern France and England. This trade was vital to the people of Holland, because Holland could no longer produce enough grain to feed itself. Land drainage had caused the peat of the former wetlands to reduce to a level that was too low for drainage to be maintained. Charles V —58 was born and raised in the Flemish city of Ghent ; he spoke French. When he was a minor, his aunt Margaret acted as regent until France relinquished its ancient claim on Flanders in From to , Charles's government in the Netherlands had to contend with the rebellion of Frisian peasants led by Pier Gerlofs Donia and Wijard Jelckama.

Gelre attempted to build up its own state in northeast Netherlands and northwest Germany. Lacking funds in the 16th century, Gelre had its soldiers provide for themselves by pillaging enemy terrain. These soldiers were a great menace to the Burgundian Netherlands, as when they pillaged The Hague. The dukes of Burgundy over the years through astute marriages, purchases and wars, had taken control of the Seventeen Provinces that made up the Low Countries. They are now the Netherlands in the north, the Southern Netherlands now Belgium in the south, and Luxemburg in the southeast.

Known as the "Burgundian Circle," these lands came under the control of the Habsburg family. Charles —58 became the owner in , but in he left to become king of Spain and later became the Holy Roman Emperor. Charles turned over control to regents his close relatives , and in practice rule was exercised by Spaniards he controlled.

The provinces each had their own governments and courts, controlled by the local nobility, and their own traditions and rights "liberties" dating back centuries. Likewise the numerous cities had their own legal rights and local governments, usually controlled by the merchants, On top of this the Spanish had imposed an overall government, the Estates General of the Netherlands, with its own officials and courts.

With the emergence of the Protestant Reformation, Charles—now the Emperor—was determined to crush Protestantism and never compromise with it. Unrest began in the south, centered in the large rich metropolis of Antwerp. The Netherlands was an especially rich unit of the Spanish realm, especially after the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis of ; it ended four decades of warfare between France and Spain and allowed Spain to reposition its army. In , Charles granted the Netherlands status as an entity in which many of the laws of the Holy Roman Empire became obsolete.

The "Transaction of Augsburg. A year later the Pragmatic Sanction of stated that the Seventeen Provinces could only be passed on to his heirs as a composite entity. During the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation rapidly gained ground in northern Europe, especially in its Lutheran and Calvinist forms. By the s, the Protestant community had become a significant influence in the Netherlands, although it clearly formed a minority then. Nevertheless, the Catholic rulers Charles V, and later Philip II , made it their mission to defeat Protestantism, which was considered a heresy by the Catholic Church and a threat to the stability of the whole hierarchical political system.

On the other hand, the intensely moralistic Dutch Protestants insisted their Biblical theology, sincere piety and humble lifestyle was morally superior to the luxurious habits and superficial religiosity of the ecclesiastical nobility. In the second half of the century, the situation escalated.

Philip sent troops to crush the rebellion and make the Netherlands once more a Catholic region. In the first wave of the Reformation, Lutheranism won over the elites in Antwerp and the South. The Spanish successfully suppressed it there, and Lutheranism only flourished in east Friesland. The second wave of the Reformation, came in the form of Anabaptism , that was popular among ordinary farmers in Holland and Friesland.

Anabaptists were socially very radical and equalitarian; they believed that the apocalypse was very near. They refused to live the old way, and began new communities, creating considerable chaos. The movement was allowed in the north, but never grew to a large scale. The third wave of the Reformation, that ultimately proved to be permanent, was Calvinism.

It arrived in the Netherlands in the s, attracting both the elite and the common population, especially in Flanders. The Catholic Spanish responded with harsh persecution and introduced the Inquisition of the Netherlands. Calvinists rebelled. First there was the iconoclasm in , which was the systematic destruction of statues of saints and other Catholic devotional depictions in churches.

Blum says, "His patience, tolerance, determination, concern for his people, and belief in government by consent held the Dutch together and kept alive their spirit of revolt. The other states remained almost entirely Catholic. This treaty ended a forty-year period of warfare between France and Spain conducted in Italy from to Spain had been keeping troops in the Netherlands to be ready to attack France from the north as well as from the south.

With the settlement of so many major issues between France and Spain by the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, there was no longer any reason to keep Spanish troops in the Netherlands. Thus, the people of the Netherlands could get on with their peacetime pursuits. As they did so they found that there was a great deal of demand for their products. Fishing had long been an important part of the economy of the Netherlands. However, now the fishing of herring alone came to occupy 2, boats operating out of Dutch ports. Spain, still the Dutch trader's best customer, was buying fifty large ships full of furniture and household utensils from Flanders merchants.

Additionally, Dutch woolen goods were desired everywhere. The Netherlands bought and processed enough Spanish wool to sell four million florins of wool products through merchants in Bruges. So strong was the Dutch appetite for raw wool at this time that they bought nearly as much English wool as they did Spanish wool. Total commerce with England alone amounted to 24 million florins.

Much of the export going to England resulted in pure profit to the Dutch because the exported items were of their own manufacture. The Netherlands was just starting to enter its "Golden Age. The population reached 3 million in , with 25 cities of 10, people or more, by far the largest urban presence in Europe; with the trading and financial center of Antwerp being especially important population , Spain could not afford to lose this rich land, nor allow it to fall from Catholic control.

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