History of Netherlands: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kathryn Miedema Dominguez

Kathryn has taught elementary students for over ten years and has her master's degree in elementary education.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the major events that have shaped the country of the Netherlands. It is located in the Western part of Europe and has endured many rulers of various empires.

History of the Netherlands

What would you do if your house were flooding because the sea level is rising? In the Netherlands, they have learned to build dikes (similar to dams) to stop the water from flooding their country. It is in the Western part of Europe next to the North Sea. For hundreds of years, the sea level has been rising and flooding the land. Therefore, the Dutch (the people of the Netherlands) have built walls called dikes to control the amount of water going onto the land.

Map of the Netherlands next to the North Sea.
Netherlands Map

Ancient Times

Before civilization, there were various hunter-gatherer tribes in the Netherlands. Eventually, they developed into farming societies. The predominant tribes in this area were of Germanic and Celtic origin. The three largest tribes were Nervii, Frisii, and Batavi.

In 13 B.C., the Romans took control of the area. They ruled the region until the 4th century. It was inhabited by various Germanic tribes until one tribe, the Franks, took control until the 8th century. Charlemagne became king of the Franks and therefore ruled the region.

Map of Germanic tribes in the 5th century.
Germanic Tribes Map

Eventually, the Netherlands became part of the German Empire when Charlemagne died. During the 9th and 10th century, the region was attacked many times by Vikings. Between the 11th and 14th century, towns and businesses began to thrive.

Independence from Spain

Eventually, the Spanish Empire took control of the area until Prince William of Orange led a revolt to gain independence in 1579. This was a very important time for the region because it ended the Eighty Year War between the Netherlands and Spain. The region finally became its own kingdom and was named the Seven Northern Provinces of the Netherlands.

The Overthrow of Napoleon

In 1795, under Napoleon, the French occupied the Netherlands and once again they were not their own kingdom. However, the French Empire was defeated and Napoleon was overthrown, and William of Orange became the king in 1815.

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