What are some common names in the Netherlands

IV. Review of Dutch history

From a purely geographical point of view, the Netherlands was located on the edge of Europe. As a result, they already had an external position in the medieval empire and, thanks to their water-rich landscape, more easily evaded central rule. Crucial to what then became the Dutch state was the federation of a number of independent provinces that united against Spanish absolutism in the 16th century in order to defend their ancient freedoms. The independent state, which emerged from this 80-year defensive struggle, almost a civil war, remained a federation with limited central power - the “States General” - until the French Revolution. It was held together as a unit by the enormous preponderance of the powerful and rich province of Holland with the Orange as governors who, among other things, played a leading role as commanders of the combined armed forces. Of course, the provinces also harmonized internally, and Holland's rich culture rubbed off on the others (Zeeland, Groningen, Friesland, Gelderland, Overijssel and Drenthe), hence the name “Holland” used abroad for the entire republic. In the late 18th century one can speak of a beginning supra-regional national consciousness. Thanks to the trade and wealth of Holland, this federal republic had become a kind of major European power in the 17th century, which was also due to the fact that not only the German Empire, but also France and England were temporarily paralyzed by great internal turmoil.

Geographical peripheral location

The geographical peripheral location is also decisive for the political culture of today's Netherlands, which made it possible, after the political losses in the 18th century, to convert the external position into a spectator position and thus to stay mostly outside the storms and upheavals that the continent and before especially the central power Germany shook. This led to a relatively peaceful development and ensured continuity. The uprising against absolutism and the Spanish Inquisition had left a traumatic aversion to tyranny and unrestricted manpower. Not “unity and order”, but “freedom and cooperation” meant - to put it simply - the political-moral primacy. A federal republic guaranteed particularist rights and freedoms, including freedom of belief, albeit with restrictions. After all, this resulted in a pluralistic society and at that time meant extensive tolerance. This pragmatic tolerance, which arose naturally from the diversity of denominational communities, has been part of the social moral code ever since. It earned the country the reputation of being a haven of freedom and asylum for the persecuted. Both the pluralism of an essentially bourgeois society and the federal structure of the old republic prevented the emergence of princely absolutism. They forced a system of voting and pragmatic compromises. This also resulted from the character of the oligarchy, the predominance of a bourgeois patriciate, especially in Holland, with an elite jointly exercising leadership.

One can speak of a proto-democratic structure which has undoubtedly facilitated the continuous transition to modern democracy. The modern party system was already - unlike in Germany - in the pluralistic and sect-rich little landscape of the republic. This complicated system with its often cumbersome trading machinery had to give way to a strong leadership in times of war and crisis, be it the Dutch “Raadspensionaris”, a kind of chancellor, or the Orange governor. It was therefore dependent on peace on the outside and on compromise on the inside. The prerequisite for this was the position of the audience, while the central location in particular always easily involved the German states in armed conflicts and required a system of rule in which swift and decisive decisions were possible. These are circumstances and forms of reaction that were taken for granted in everyday reactions and actions in both societies, even below the state-political level.

author: Hermann von der Dunk
Created: January 2007