The Rise of the Dutch Republic & Their Golden Age: History & Timeline

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: The English Civil War: Summary, Causes, Effects & Timeline

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:07 Dutch Golden Age
  • 0:40 Independence from Spain
  • 1:58 Economic Growth
  • 2:55 External Expansion
  • 3:43 Society & the Arts
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the birth of the Dutch Republic and the Dutch Golden Age which followed. Through innovation and economic success, the Dutch became one of the most powerful nations in seventeenth-century Europe.

Dutch Golden Age

Hardly a day goes by without you hearing about the stock market. On some days, most companies appreciate in value, and on other days, their stock prices go down. Considering the vast sums of money that can be made on the global market, it comes as little surprise that one of the first countries to pioneer global commodities trading used their financial wherewithal to become a European superpower.

Indeed, despite their small size and relative lack of natural resources, the fledgling Dutch Republic of the 16th century was so economically powerful and politically relevant, that the time period is often referred to as the Dutch Golden Age.

Independence from Habsburg Spain

Prior to the Dutch doing much of anything that could qualify as 'golden,' the Dutch first had to gain independence from Habsburg Spain, who ruled over the Dutch provinces. Rebellion was first instigated for religious reasons, as the Dutch provinces were overwhelmingly Protestant, and many favored a radical, Calvinist interpretation of the Bible. In 1568, the Dutch stadtholder, William of Orange, attempted to wrest control of the Dutch provinces from the Spanish but ultimately failed.

Though the Spanish maintained nominal control of the territories, the provinces' rebellious attitude sustained, and in 1572, a group known as the Sea Beggars provided the impetus for further rebellion when they captured the northern city of Brielle. Several northern provinces immediately declared allegiance to the rebels, and in 1579, the Dutch provinces split between the northern rebels and a southern group that chose to remain loyal to the Spanish.

Fighting continued until 1609, when a 12 years' truce was declared between the rebellious northern provinces and the Spanish crown. Though attempts were made at a lasting peace between the two sides, war resumed in 1621 in the midst of the Thirty Years' War in the neighboring Holy Roman Empire. Several decisive Dutch military victories in the late 1630s and early 1640s eliminated the financially ailing Spain's appetite for war, and in 1648, Spain was forced to formally recognize the Dutch Republic as an independent state.

Economic Growth

Despite the Dutch Republic's unique position as a republic surrounded by absolutist monarchies, on the face of it, the Republic in the 17th century did not possess the characteristics often necessary for economic success. The territory controlled by the Dutch Republic contained few minerals or natural resources, and large portions of its territory were under sea level, prone to flooding if dikes or windmill pumps failed.

In response, the Dutch fostered the growth of internal industries, such as textiles, sugar refining and glass blowing. Most importantly, however, the Dutch were accomplished shipwrights and traders. Their traditional boats, called 'fluyts,' could carry more cargo than the average 17th century trading vessel while also requiring a smaller crew.

The Dutch further pioneered financial markets as well, first by creating the public Bank of Amsterdam in 1609 to foster investment and further development of trade and industry. The Dutch also created a commodities market where the goods being loaded and shipped on the docks could be traded publicly.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account