1st Edition

The Dutch Wars of Independence Warfare and Commerce in the Netherlands 1570-1680

By Marjolein 't Hart Copyright 2014
    248 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    248 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In The Dutch Wars of Independence, Marjolein ’t Hart assesses the success of the Dutch in establishing their independence through their eighty years struggle with Spain - one of the most remarkable achievements of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Other rebellions troubled mighty powers of this epoch, but none resulted in the establishment of an independent, republican state. This book:

    • tells the story of the Eighty Years War and its aftermath, including the three Anglo-Dutch Wars and the Guerre de Hollande (1570-1680).
    • explores the interrelation between war, economy and society, explaining how the Dutch could turn their wars into commercial successes.
    • illustrates how war could trigger and sustain innovations in the field of economy and state formation ; the new ways of organization of Dutch military institutions favoured a high degree of commercialized warfare.
    • shows how other state rulers tried to copy the Dutch way of commercialized warfare, in particular in taking up the protection for capital accumulation. As such, the book unravels one of the unknown pillars of European state formation (and of capitalism).

    The volume investigates thoroughly the economic profitability of warfare in the early modern period and shows how smaller, commercialized states could sustain prolonged war violence common to that period. It moves beyond traditional explanations of Dutch success in warfare focusing on geography, religion, diplomacy while presenting an up-to-date overview and interpretation of the Dutch Revolt, the Anglo-Dutch Wars and the Guerre de Hollande.

    Timeline of major events.  Introduction – The Dutch Revolt, the Military Revolution, and the global context.  Chapter 1 – Military events: from the Dutch Revolt to ‘la Guerre de Hollande’, c. 1570-c.1680.  Chapter 2 – The making of a professional army.  Chapter 3 – The Dutch ‘Schoole of War’: drill, tactics, and siege warfare.  Chapter 4 – Garrisons and civic communities: strengthening the local bonds.  Chapter 5 – Warfare in the countryside and the threat to farming communities.  Chapter 6 – Admiralties, privateers and the colonial connection.  Chapter 7 – War and the strength of Dutch public finance.  Chapter 8 – Warfare’s new economic opportunities.  Conclusion: The advantages of military discipline and commercialized warfare.  Bibliography.


    Marjolein ’t Hart is head of the research department on the history of the Netherlands at the Huygens Institute (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) in The Hague and Professor History of State Formation in Global Perspective at VU University Amsterdam. She has published extensively on the early modern history of the Netherlands (in comparative perspective), including books on warfare and state formation (1993) and financial history (1997).

    "This work is a brilliant success at marrying the latest scholarship and wonderfully clear narrative and synthesis. 't Hart clearly answers one of history's mysteries: how did the northern Netherlands forge a nation out of disparate units; successfully battle the superpower of the 16th century, Spain; build the most successful commercial state in Europe; and experience a Golden Age, all while fighting an 80-year war? Indispensable for collections in early modern Europe, military, or state formation history. Summing Up: Essential." --J. J. Butt, James Madison University, in CHOICE