1506-1555 The Netherlands under Charles V

1506-1555 The Netherlands under Charles V

Charles V succeeded his father Philip the Handsome as ruler of the Low Countries in 1506. His predecessors had tried to unite the loosely connected territories. Charles V completed this task. In so doing, he laid the foundations for a prosperous, centrally governed state.

Previous Next

1566-1648 Dutch Revolt and the Rise of the Dutch Republic

1566 Miracle Year

1572-1574 War in the Netherlands

1568-1584 William of Orange

1585-1610 Maurice

1609-1621 Truce and turmoil

1648 Treaty of Munster

The Dutch Revolt, or Eighty Years War, is the term given to the armed struggle of the Northern Netherlands to shake off Spanish rule. In addition to fighting against foreign dominion, the revolt was also a desperate civil war between two key sections of the Dutch population. The Dutch Republic emerged from the conflagration as a robust sovereign state and the economic powerhouse of Europe.

Previous Next

1595-1640 The Dutch Overseas

1595-1616 The route to the Indies

1602 Trade with the East: VOC

1623 Trade with the West: WIC

In the 16th century, the Dutch were Europe’s premier cargo shippers. Then they followed Spain and Portugal far beyond Europe to areas in the Far East and the West where Spain and Portugal had for the past century held a monopoly on the lucrative trade there.

Previous Next

1600-1690 Golden Age of the Dutch Republic

1600-1665 Amsterdam’s Prosperity

1637 Tulipmania

1670-1680 Tolerance

1660-1680 Scholarship in the Republic

1688 Stadholder William III becomes king of England

Where else in the world can one enjoy all the comforts of life and all the interesting things that a person might wish to find? What other country is there in which one can enjoy such perfect freedom ...?

That is what French philosopher René Descartes wrote in 1631. He often visited the Dutch Republic and his words speak for themselves.

Previous Next

1650-1715 Republic at war with its neighbours

1652-1674 Anglo-Dutch wars

1672 Disaster Year

1701-1713 The War of the Spanish Succession

The Dutch Republic often found itself at loggerheads with surrounding countries. Maritime wars with England were not a great problem for the Dutch: Holland had its naval heroes. But the Republic was also drawn into major European land wars, and often against the French.

Previous Next

1780-1810 Patriots, Batavian Republic and the French

1781-1795 Patriots vs Orangists

1795-1806 Batavian Republic

1806-1813 French Period

In the late 18th century, economic crises raised tensions in the Republic to new heights. Political movements such as the Patriots questioned the ability of Stadholder William V to govern. Unrest culminated in 1786 in civil war, revolution, coups, foreign intervention and eventually in 1810 in annexation by France. These turbulent years laid the foundations for a fresh start for the country, with a centralised state and a monarchy.

Previous Next

1800-1980 Netherlands as colonial power

1820-1950 Indonesia and decolonisation

1700-1830 Surinam

Under the Republic (1588-1795) the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and West Indies Company (WIC) had gained footholds around the world. When these companies collapsed, their overseas possessions fell to the Dutch state. It was only in the 20th century that the main Dutch colonies - the East Indies and Surinam - gained political independence.

Previous Next

1810-1848 Kingdom of the Netherlands

1813-1815 King William I and Waterloo

1830-1831 The Belgian Revolution

1848 Thorbecke and the constitution

When Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated at Leipzig in 1813, the Netherlands shook off its French yoke. A new constitution was adopted - a monarchy - and until 1831 a union with Belgium. The country was ruled by a king with absolute power. In 1848, revolutionary reforms set up a constitutional monarchy instead, and this remained so.

Previous Next

1935-1945 Second World War

1940 Invasion





On 10 May 1940, German troops invaded the Netherlands. In the years that followed over 100,000 Dutch Jews were murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps. While some Dutch people collaborated with the Germans, there were others who resisted. In the Dutch East Indies, the war began with the Japanese invasion of Java in March 1942. The Japanese imprisoned some of the Dutch and mixed race population in internment camps where conditions were appalling.

Previous Next

1850-1918 Modernisation

1863 Abolition of slavery

1850-1900 Social unrest

1860-1918 Industrialisation in the Netherlands

The Industrial Revolution came to the Netherlands in the second half of the 19th century. New heavy industry, railways and other technical innovations transformed everyday life. Overseas, slavery was abolished in 1863. While in the Netherlands, the long struggle for universal suffrage ended in 1922 in elections in which men and women were able to vote.n.


1945-2012 Postwar period: affluence and emancipation

Reconstruction - welfare state

Emancipation - youth culture

Netherlands and Europe

Multicultural society

By the time the Second World War ended in 1945, Dutch society had utterly changed. Apart from the tremendous personal losses and material damage, the economy was all but destroyed. What had once been taken for granted, the Dutch East Indies for example, was gone, and a new catastrophic war seemed imminent between the communist East and the capitalist West. Yet the Netherlands recovered with surprising rapidity.