The rise and fall of the Dutch domination of European trade

GDPR

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The traditional trade 'map of commerce' whose main artery ran from the Baltics via the Low Countries to the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Peninsula with offshoots to Norway and the British Isles remained essentially unchanged in spite of the opening up of European colonies and the rise of transatlantic trade. This Baltic-Cadiz route remained the greatest employer of European shipping. In 1660 it was dominated by the Dutch.

The impressive Dutch trading network came to be in spite of, or perhaps because of, the Dutch Republic's 80-year-war with the Spanish. The Dutch dominance of European trade is well-illustrated by a comparison of its merchant marine to those of other European powers. In 1670 it totaled 568,000 tons. That was more than the merchant marines of France, England, Scotland, the entire Holy Roman Empire, Spain and Portugal combined.

The basis of this Dutch trading network was the huge grain surplus produced in the Baltic, primarily by Poland-Lithuania. Almost all of it was shipped to the Dutch Republic and about 80% of it was shipped in Dutch vessels. The Dutch then re-exported about 40% of it to those parts of Europe, primarily in the south, which did not produce enough food to feed their own populations. This abundance of basic food in allowed Dutch farmers to specialize and their cash crops, and the products made from them, in turn went to markets all over western and northern Europe.

More important in terms of value were the 'rich trades'; commodities (spices, sugar, silk etc.) that the Dutch gathered in Southern Europe and then sold in Northern Europe. By the 1660s this was creating seven times the profit the freight from the Baltics were creating.

What then explains this dominance? Part of it is surely technological. The Dutch created a ship known as a Fluyt which gave them a hugely competitive edge. It maximized carrying capacity and minimized cost due to standardized designs and labor-saving services adopted by shipyards in Amsterdam. An English ship of 250 tons was 60% more expensive than its Dutch rival because of this. Furthermore, the Fluyt was purely a ship of trade and had no pretensions of being a warship. This allowed a 200-ton Fluyt to be crewed by 10 men, as opposed to 30 for the comparable English ship. Through this the Dutch could undercut their rival carriers by between 33% and 50%.

Another aspect was a drive to exploit the resources available outside of Europe. By 1602 the Dutch East India company had been founded and one of "the greatest commercial undertakings in European history was underway". The Dutch wrestled pre-eminence in South-East Asia from the Portuguese and by 1660 the Portuguese were confined to Goa and Macao while the Dutch were in Cochin (India), Malacca, Indonesia, Formosa, and modern Sri Lanka. This ruthless accretion of dominance in that part of the world allowed for massively profitable goods to be shipped to Europe.

A third aspect of this dominance is financial. The Bank of Amsterdam (1609) quickly eclipsed Venice and Genoa as Europe's premier money market and was soon joined by a loan bank. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange gave Dutch merchants a head-start in managing their business affairs. Credit could be obtained as easily nowhere else in the world, the same went for insurances for goods. Indeed, these services were so good that during the Third Anglo-Dutch War the English fleet was insured at Amsterdam.

Dutch primary would continue for a long time. But by the middle of the next century there was serious decline both in relative terms as well as in absolute terms. By the end of the eighteenth century the rich trades receded and the Dutch fishing industry collapsed.

By 1650 the Dutch population became stagnant. There may have been low-growth until 1700, but the eighteenth century was most definitely marked by demographic stagnation. Dutch predominance also attracted the hostility of foreign powers. This was reinforced by common economic beliefs at the time that, simply put, held that the amount of silver and gold coinage was finite and that there one country could only prosper at the expense of the others. The English and French, with their sights set on the Dutch, implemented mercantile policies, such as the Navigation Acts and tariffs for cargo carried in foreign ships. Every time a government implemented such a policy, the Dutch suffered. Sweden, for example, passed an act which barred foreign ships from their ports except if that ship was carrying produce of its own nationality. It hurt Swedish merchants and consumers, but it hurt the Dutch more.

Direct action in the form of war was also taken by France and England. Decades of incessant warfare eventually exhausted the Republic's resources. The burden of taxation to maintain the debt accumulated and the armed forces, in particular, inflicted structural damage on the Dutch economy. High indirect taxes on consumption led to correspondingly increased wages and diminished competitiveness for producers.

The technological gap was also closed by foreign powers and the Dutch faced increasingly fierce competition because of it as well. As the rest of Europe developed their own commerce after the Thirty Years War, the Dutch entrepot was less needed. Some sectors, of course, continued to expand, but domestically there was a marked turn away from manufacturing and trade towards finance and especially loans to foreign governments. It became, in the words of Charles Wilson a 'rentier economy'. A far more passive player in Europe's economy.

Source: Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory.
 


Lempo

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Rotterdam still is the busiest port in Europe, isn't it?
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Quite interesting piece there on the Dutch merchant's forging of a link between the Baltic trade and the Silk Route trade from the Orient and into Southern Europe. Essentially they seemed to bridge two major trade routes.

I wonder did this expansion of and linking from the Baltic trade to the European end mean that Dutch finance would inevitably travel eastwards as much by letters of credit toward the Orient as much as by their vessels?
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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@Justinian.....did William of Orange's reign as King of England temporarily reduce in anyway the decline of Dutch fortunes?
 

Mitsui2

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The traditional trade 'map of commerce' whose main artery ran from the Baltics via the Low Countries to the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Peninsula with offshoots to Norway and the British Isles remained essentially unchanged in spite of the opening up of European colonies and the rise of transatlantic trade. This Baltic-Cadiz route remained the greatest employer of European shipping. In 1660 it was dominated by the Dutch.

The impressive Dutch trading network came to be in spite of, or perhaps because of, the Dutch Republic's 80-year-war with the Spanish. The Dutch dominance of European trade is well-illustrated by a comparison of its merchant marine to those of other European powers. In 1670 it totaled 568,000 tons. That was more than the merchant marines of France, England, Scotland, the entire Holy Roman Empire, Spain and Portugal combined.

The basis of this Dutch trading network was the huge grain surplus produced in the Baltic, primarily by Poland-Lithuania. Almost all of it was shipped to the Dutch Republic and about 80% of it was shipped in Dutch vessels. The Dutch then re-exported about 40% of it to those parts of Europe, primarily in the south, which did not produce enough food to feed their own populations. This abundance of basic food in allowed Dutch farmers to specialize and their cash crops, and the products made from them, in turn went to markets all over western and northern Europe.

More important in terms of value were the 'rich trades'; commodities (spices, sugar, silk etc.) that the Dutch gathered in Southern Europe and then sold in Northern Europe. By the 1660s this was creating seven times the profit the freight from the Baltics were creating.

What then explains this dominance? Part of it is surely technological. The Dutch created a ship known as a Fluyt which gave them a hugely competitive edge. It maximized carrying capacity and minimized cost due to standardized designs and labor-saving services adopted by shipyards in Amsterdam. An English ship of 250 tons was 60% more expensive than its Dutch rival because of this. Furthermore, the Fluyt was purely a ship of trade and had no pretensions of being a warship. This allowed a 200-ton Fluyt to be crewed by 10 men, as opposed to 30 for the comparable English ship. Through this the Dutch could undercut their rival carriers by between 33% and 50%.

Another aspect was a drive to exploit the resources available outside of Europe. By 1602 the Dutch East India company had been founded and one of "the greatest commercial undertakings in European history was underway". The Dutch wrestled pre-eminence in South-East Asia from the Portuguese and by 1660 the Portuguese were confined to Goa and Macao while the Dutch were in Cochin (India), Malacca, Indonesia, Formosa, and modern Sri Lanka. This ruthless accretion of dominance in that part of the world allowed for massively profitable goods to be shipped to Europe.

A third aspect of this dominance is financial. The Bank of Amsterdam (1609) quickly eclipsed Venice and Genoa as Europe's premier money market and was soon joined by a loan bank. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange gave Dutch merchants a head-start in managing their business affairs. Credit could be obtained as easily nowhere else in the world, the same went for insurances for goods. Indeed, these services were so good that during the Third Anglo-Dutch War the English fleet was insured at Amsterdam.

Dutch primary would continue for a long time. But by the middle of the next century there was serious decline both in relative terms as well as in absolute terms. By the end of the eighteenth century the rich trades receded and the Dutch fishing industry collapsed.

By 1650 the Dutch population became stagnant. There may have been low-growth until 1700, but the eighteenth century was most definitely marked by demographic stagnation. Dutch predominance also attracted the hostility of foreign powers. This was reinforced by common economic beliefs at the time that, simply put, held that the amount of silver and gold coinage was finite and that there one country could only prosper at the expense of the others. The English and French, with their sights set on the Dutch, implemented mercantile policies, such as the Navigation Acts and tariffs for cargo carried in foreign ships. Every time a government implemented such a policy, the Dutch suffered. Sweden, for example, passed an act which barred foreign ships from their ports except if that ship was carrying produce of its own nationality. It hurt Swedish merchants and consumers, but it hurt the Dutch more.

Direct action in the form of war was also taken by France and England. Decades of incessant warfare eventually exhausted the Republic's resources. The burden of taxation to maintain the debt accumulated and the armed forces, in particular, inflicted structural damage on the Dutch economy. High indirect taxes on consumption led to correspondingly increased wages and diminished competitiveness for producers.

The technological gap was also closed by foreign powers and the Dutch faced increasingly fierce competition because of it as well. As the rest of Europe developed their own commerce after the Thirty Years War, the Dutch entrepot was less needed. Some sectors, of course, continued to expand, but domestically there was a marked turn away from manufacturing and trade towards finance and especially loans to foreign governments. It became, in the words of Charles Wilson a 'rentier economy'. A far more passive player in Europe's economy.
Apart from the odd nugget and piece of disconnected knowledge, my real introduction to Holland in the Gouden Eeuw came when I first read Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches: An interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age.

I presume you know it? I believe it went down very well in the Netherlands itself when it was published there.

Having read a fair bit of Dutch history since, I've wondered whether at least a small part of the reason for the Dutch decline was almost psychological, in that the country came to see itself as almost too respectable to behave in the brilliantly inventive and buccaneering ways that had stood it in such good stead both in its fight for freedom and its rise to opulence.

Justinian said:
...during the Third Anglo-Dutch War the English fleet was insured at Amsterdam
A very Dutch touch!.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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I wonder also did Peter the Great wish to challenge Dutch trade in and out of the Baltics by building a merchant and naval fleet for Russia and did the Dutch miss out on improving shipbuilding technology out of that.

By the 18th century Dutch naval ships were generally scorned in other navies as being cumbersome, awkward and old fashioned when measured against the newer sharper frigates of England and France.

Spanish shipbuilding seemed always to be a reflection of the exuberance of Spain in tending towards the grandiose rather than the practical and the Dutch seemed to fall behind in technology quite dramatically between the 17th and 18th centuries.

So did the advent of the finance-house/rentier economy stagnate shipbuilding technology?
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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The impressive Dutch trading network came to be in spite of, or perhaps because of, the Dutch Republic's 80-year-war with the Spanish. The Dutch dominance of European trade is well-illustrated by a comparison of its merchant marine to those of other European powers. In 1670 it totaled 568,000 tons. That was more than the merchant marines of France, England, Scotland, the entire Holy Roman Empire, Spain and Portugal combined. [...]

Direct action in the form of war was also taken by France and England. Decades of incessant warfare eventually exhausted the Republic's resources. The burden of taxation to maintain the debt accumulated and the armed forces, in particular, inflicted structural damage on the Dutch economy. High indirect taxes on consumption led to correspondingly increased wages and diminished competitiveness for producers.

The technological gap was also closed by foreign powers and the Dutch faced increasingly fierce competition because of it as well. As the rest of Europe developed their own commerce after the Thirty Years War, the Dutch entrepot was less needed. Some sectors, of course, continued to expand, but domestically there was a marked turn away from manufacturing and trade towards finance and especially loans to foreign governments. It became, in the words of Charles Wilson a 'rentier economy'. A far more passive player in Europe's economy.

Source: Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory.
All great stuff.

Missing ingredient in that extract: 1672.

In February 1672 William III was raised to Captain-General.

Already the diplomacy of Louis XIV had cobbled together an anti-Dutch coalition. This included a covert agreement with Charles II.

23 (N.S.) March 1672: the English navy, without warning, attacked the Dutch Levant convoy, off the Isle of Wight.

Then ensued a co-ordinated series of declarations of war. First Louis XIV's, 6th April, on the basis of some very vague grievances. Then England two days later.

In May the French army moved across the Spanish Netherlands toward Maastricht, crossing the Maas on 22 May. The prince-bishop of Münster declared war on the Republic. On 18 May the Elector of Köln followed suit. The allied army was now 118,000 infantry and 12,500 cavalry — outnumbering 4/1 anything the Dutch had to oppose them.

The French fleet had combined with the English under the Duke of York (later James II). The Dutch admiral, De Ruyter, took on the larger force off Southwold (the Battle of Sole Bay, 6 June — still commemorated by Adnam's Broadside ale, yummy). It was an indecisive engagement, except in one crucial regard — the English had taken enough of a battering to prevent any full-on naval assault in the short term. De Ruyter, back in port, was able to use his manpower to stiffen the land defences.

The French army soon mopped up the border garrisons: Louis himself watched the crossing of the Rhine at Lobith (just south of Arnhem — where morale collapsed and the town capitulated, 15 June). The main line of defence along the IJssel was now outflanked. The Prince of Orange now regrouped along the "five points" and the Dutch withdrew to a final defence of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht.

Even this went awry. In Utrecht the citizens revolted, and surrendered. Cardinal de Bouillon held the first Romanist service in Utrecht cathedral for a century.

Two things, in parallel, then changed.

First the dykes were breached, inundating the whole "water-line" from Muiden, in front of Amsterdam, all the way to Gorcum, on the Waal. Behind that line, the regular Dutch defence was in tatters. Muiden surrendered, thus rendering the "water-line" useless — meanwhile (this being summer) the water level was rising very slowly. There was widespread defeatism among Dutch officials. Pieter de Groot was sent as negotiator with the French, and came back recommending submission.

Then, the second factor, intervened. And this — I always see — is something marvellous. The populace in Dordrecht, then Schiedam, Rotterdam, Gouda and Delft had had enough with the Regents (a further cause of discontent came from peasants whose land had been flooded). Delft was seized by women, workmen, peasants and fishermen. Their demand was to end the Perpetual Edict (and the elevation of the Prince) and restore the stadtholderate. Militia were organised.

There had been outbreaks of popular disorder in 1566, 1572, 1576-7, through the 1580s and 1617-18. This one was very different, and much more radical. Orangist propaganda fuelled the resentment; but did not — could not — control it. July 1672 — when public opinion made William Stadtholder — changed the basis of Dutch politics irrevocably. One might usefully speculate how this moment in turn generated what happened in England in 1689.

The disorder led to the assassinations of the De Witt brothers and the purging of the other "traitors", characterised as the "Loevestein faction". On 27 August the States of Holland empowered the Stadtholder to take charge, and restore order. The main demonstrations (5-8 September) were mainly without further violence. Ancient privileges were restored (i.e. at the expense of the oligarchical élite). The Reformed church became the accepted confessional faith.

The military balance didn't change immediately. The "water-line" held; and — as the autumnal rains set in — French advance was generally blocked. Then there was Dutch diplomacy: the Empire and Brandenburg signed up for a Dutch alliance, advanced on Köln, and obliged the French to divert forces south. When the winter frosts set in, Marshal Luxembourg should have been able to advance — but missed the chance.

Back at sea, in the shallow water around Zeeland, De Ruyter took on the Anglo-French fleet three times, seeing them off on each occasion. Further afield, Dutch privateers were making mince-meat of English shipping. English opinion turned sharply against Charles and the war, leading to the peace of February 1674. Already Spain had joined the anti-French alliance. By June 1674 of all that Louis XIV forces had occupied, only Grave and Maastricht remained.

My main source: Jonathan Israel's door-stopper (1200+ pages).
 
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GDPR

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All great stuff.

Missing ingredient in that extract: 1672.
Yeah, I purposely left out a detailed description of 1672, the rampjaar and included it in my general statement on wars. As your post shows a great deal can be written on that particular year. Thank you for that addition.

It ties in nicely with what I wanted to say to Nebuchadnezzar. I don't think there's any evidence to suggest that William of Orange - I much prefer William III because, well, William of Orange makes me immediately think of the Pater Patriae of the Netherlands - managed to reverse or temporarily halt the Dutch decline while king of England. It bound the two countries together in their coalition against Louis XIV, and William III was absolutely crucial in keeping him and France contained, but the reasons for Dutch decline were rather structural as I understand it.

Regarding William III and Louis XIV Blanning notes the following: "for the first time, a major European state was in the hands of a ruler with the necessary intelligence, determination and resources to arrest the French juggernaut"
 
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General Urko

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The Dutch are a highly idiocyncratic and eccentric people and in different ways from us and indeed are largely incompatible with many other races! And I have lived and worked in The Netherlands!
 

GDPR

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I wonder also did Peter the Great wish to challenge Dutch trade in and out of the Baltics by building a merchant and naval fleet for Russia and did the Dutch miss out on improving shipbuilding technology out of that.

By the 18th century Dutch naval ships were generally scorned in other navies as being cumbersome, awkward and old fashioned when measured against the newer sharper frigates of England and France.

Spanish shipbuilding seemed always to be a reflection of the exuberance of Spain in tending towards the grandiose rather than the practical and the Dutch seemed to fall behind in technology quite dramatically between the 17th and 18th centuries.

So did the advent of the finance-house/rentier economy stagnate shipbuilding technology?
I don't think Peter had that intent. It is interesting to note though that Dutch individuals played a massive role in the construction of the Russian fleet around that time. To the point, as I understand it, that certain Russian words regarding ships and maritime issues are recognizably Dutch in origin.

I read somewhere that (part of) the Dutch decline in shipbuilding is explained through the empirical instead of scientific approach to shipbuilding. That is to say, the shipyards stuck to experience and tradition. They became organizationally inflexible. I'm not sure if I find that an entirely satisfactory explanation, but it probably did play some role.

As regards your other post: Blanning very much implies that when he talks about the importance of Amsterdam as a financial center for European commerce.
 

Mitsui2

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Yeah, I purposely left out a detailed description of 1672, the rampjaar and included it in my general statement on wars. As your post shows a great deal can be written on that particular year. Thank you for that addition.

It ties in nicely with what I wanted to say to Nebuchadnezzar. I don't think there's any evidence to suggest that William of Orange - I much prefer William III because, well, William of Orange makes me immediately think of the Pater Patriae of the Netherlands - managed to reverse or temporarily halt the Dutch decline while king of England. It bound the two countries together in their coalition against Louis XIV, and William III was absolutely crucial in keeping him and France contained, but the reasons for Dutch decline were rather structural as I understand it.

Regarding William III and Louis XIV Blanning notes the following: "for the first time, a major European state was in the hands of a ruler with the necessary intelligence, determination and resources to arrest the French juggernaut"
Lucy Worsley (who grows increasingly irritating with every series she fronts but does know her stuff) had an excellent summary of William & Mary's accession to the British throne on the BBC the other night. It was primarily about the deliberate use of what we'd now call "spin" to manufacture the whole "bloodless Glorious Revolution" myth.

There wasn't anything new in it as such for anyone who's read up on the history (certainly from the Dutch side), but it did reinforce the impression I've always had that that particular Willem was a very smart cookie indeed, whose own agenda had bugger-all to do with "saving England for Protetantism" except in so far as that meant depriving Louis of the British navy and getting it under his own control.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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I don't think Peter had that intent. It is interesting to note though that Dutch individuals played a massive role in the construction of the Russian fleet around that time. To the point, as I understand it, that certain Russian words regarding ships and maritime issues are recognizably Dutch in origin.

I read somewhere that (part of) the Dutch decline in shipbuilding is explained through the empirical instead of scientific approach to shipbuilding. That is to say, the shipyards stuck to experience and tradition. They became organizationally inflexible. I'm not sure if I find that an entirely satisfactory explanation, but it probably did play some role.

As regards your other post: Blanning very much implies that when he talks about the importance of Amsterdam as a financial center for European commerce.
Worth mentioning the time spent by Peter the Great working incognito as Pyotr Mikhailov in a Dutch shipyard(Zanndam)and also for the East India Company.
 

Mitsui2

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The Dutch are a highly idiocyncratic and eccentric people and in different ways from us and indeed are largely incompatible with many other races! And I have lived and worked in The Netherlands!
"Amen!" to the first bit but I've known lots of Dutch folk who've got on very well with other races all over the world. I think some Dutch people actually thrive best away from their native society, though - as, indeed, do many Irish.

Lots of Irish I've known, meanwhile (and I should probably include myself in that) find much to admire in the overall Dutch character - and vice versa for many Dutch people I've known. I think it's something to do with each seeing qualities in the other in which they feel their own society is in some way lacking.
 

GDPR

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Worth mentioning the time spent by Peter the Great working incognito as Pyotr Mikhailov in a Dutch shipyard(Zanndam)and also for the East India Company.
Indeed. As I recall Peter the Great was very fond of the Dutch Republic while Dutch was supposedly his preferred foreign language. His fondness can be somewhat seen in the layout of St. Petersburg as well.
 

gerhard dengler

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The traditional trade 'map of commerce' whose main artery ran from the Baltics via the Low Countries to the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Peninsula with offshoots to Norway and the British Isles remained essentially unchanged in spite of the opening up of European colonies and the rise of transatlantic trade. This Baltic-Cadiz route remained the greatest employer of European shipping. In 1660 it was dominated by the Dutch.

The impressive Dutch trading network came to be in spite of, or perhaps because of, the Dutch Republic's 80-year-war with the Spanish. The Dutch dominance of European trade is well-illustrated by a comparison of its merchant marine to those of other European powers. In 1670 it totaled 568,000 tons. That was more than the merchant marines of France, England, Scotland, the entire Holy Roman Empire, Spain and Portugal combined.

The basis of this Dutch trading network was the huge grain surplus produced in the Baltic, primarily by Poland-Lithuania. Almost all of it was shipped to the Dutch Republic and about 80% of it was shipped in Dutch vessels. The Dutch then re-exported about 40% of it to those parts of Europe, primarily in the south, which did not produce enough food to feed their own populations. This abundance of basic food in allowed Dutch farmers to specialize and their cash crops, and the products made from them, in turn went to markets all over western and northern Europe.

More important in terms of value were the 'rich trades'; commodities (spices, sugar, silk etc.) that the Dutch gathered in Southern Europe and then sold in Northern Europe. By the 1660s this was creating seven times the profit the freight from the Baltics were creating.

What then explains this dominance? Part of it is surely technological. The Dutch created a ship known as a Fluyt which gave them a hugely competitive edge. It maximized carrying capacity and minimized cost due to standardized designs and labor-saving services adopted by shipyards in Amsterdam. An English ship of 250 tons was 60% more expensive than its Dutch rival because of this. Furthermore, the Fluyt was purely a ship of trade and had no pretensions of being a warship. This allowed a 200-ton Fluyt to be crewed by 10 men, as opposed to 30 for the comparable English ship. Through this the Dutch could undercut their rival carriers by between 33% and 50%.

Another aspect was a drive to exploit the resources available outside of Europe. By 1602 the Dutch East India company had been founded and one of "the greatest commercial undertakings in European history was underway". The Dutch wrestled pre-eminence in South-East Asia from the Portuguese and by 1660 the Portuguese were confined to Goa and Macao while the Dutch were in Cochin (India), Malacca, Indonesia, Formosa, and modern Sri Lanka. This ruthless accretion of dominance in that part of the world allowed for massively profitable goods to be shipped to Europe.

A third aspect of this dominance is financial. The Bank of Amsterdam (1609) quickly eclipsed Venice and Genoa as Europe's premier money market and was soon joined by a loan bank. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange gave Dutch merchants a head-start in managing their business affairs. Credit could be obtained as easily nowhere else in the world, the same went for insurances for goods. Indeed, these services were so good that during the Third Anglo-Dutch War the English fleet was insured at Amsterdam.

Dutch primary would continue for a long time. But by the middle of the next century there was serious decline both in relative terms as well as in absolute terms. By the end of the eighteenth century the rich trades receded and the Dutch fishing industry collapsed.

By 1650 the Dutch population became stagnant. There may have been low-growth until 1700, but the eighteenth century was most definitely marked by demographic stagnation. Dutch predominance also attracted the hostility of foreign powers. This was reinforced by common economic beliefs at the time that, simply put, held that the amount of silver and gold coinage was finite and that there one country could only prosper at the expense of the others. The English and French, with their sights set on the Dutch, implemented mercantile policies, such as the Navigation Acts and tariffs for cargo carried in foreign ships. Every time a government implemented such a policy, the Dutch suffered. Sweden, for example, passed an act which barred foreign ships from their ports except if that ship was carrying produce of its own nationality. It hurt Swedish merchants and consumers, but it hurt the Dutch more.

Direct action in the form of war was also taken by France and England. Decades of incessant warfare eventually exhausted the Republic's resources. The burden of taxation to maintain the debt accumulated and the armed forces, in particular, inflicted structural damage on the Dutch economy. High indirect taxes on consumption led to correspondingly increased wages and diminished competitiveness for producers.

The technological gap was also closed by foreign powers and the Dutch faced increasingly fierce competition because of it as well. As the rest of Europe developed their own commerce after the Thirty Years War, the Dutch entrepot was less needed. Some sectors, of course, continued to expand, but domestically there was a marked turn away from manufacturing and trade towards finance and especially loans to foreign governments. It became, in the words of Charles Wilson a 'rentier economy'. A far more passive player in Europe's economy.

Source: Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory.
Thanks for that. An interesting read.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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I like the Dutch. There's a sort of blunt pragmatism in them which is quite endearing. When they say they are going to do something they generally do it as well. Lot to admire in them.
 

Mitsui2

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I like the Dutch. There's a sort of blunt pragmatism in them which is quite endearing. When they say they are going to do something they generally do it as well. Lot to admire in them.
Oddly enough one of my most pleasant early realisations about Dutch people in general was the opposite or rather the complementary aspect of that same mechanism, i.e. by and large when Dutch folk don't want to do something they'll actually say they won't do it - and why - rather than that dreadful thing we Irish have of saying "Of course I will! Of course I will!"... and then doing nothing.

I always found it a wonderfully refreshing quality. Saves a lot of time and energy.

After many years of thinking about the noted Dutch tendencies to pragmatic tolerance and straightforwardness I came to ascribe them to the simple fact that for 500 years or more they've lived with the knowledge that if they foostered and faffed around the way we do they'd all bloody drown.

You can see how knowing that would concentrate the mind a hell of a lot.
 

GDPR

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Lucy Worsley (who grows increasingly irritating with every series she fronts but does know her stuff) had an excellent summary of William & Mary's accession to the British throne on the BBC the other night. It was primarily about the deliberate use of what we'd now call "spin" to manufacture the whole "bloodless Glorious Revolution" myth.

There wasn't anything new in it as such for anyone who's read up on the history (certainly from the Dutch side), but it did reinforce the impression I've always had that that particular Willem was a very smart cookie indeed, whose own agenda had bugger-all to do with "saving England for Protetantism" except in so far as that meant depriving Louis of the British navy and getting it under his own control.

There is a very interesting point here that the advent of William of Orange in England was in fact a coup, organised at the highest levels and not a simple matter of dynastic transfer of succession

He arrived with an enormous fleet and London remained under military occupation for 15 months after he was installed as monarch. At the time diarists like John Evelyn had no doubt England had been invaded.

The consequences were remarkable though. William not only harnessed England to the anti-French cause, but changed the country into a constitutional monarchy where royal prerogative was subordinate to common law, thereby ensuring Dutch freedoms, allowing the foundation of the Bank of England and Dutch-style financing by long-term loans. This was to give Britain the edge in the long series of French wars - and eventually the British Empire.
 

Mitsui2

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There is a very interesting point here that the advent of William of Orange in England was in fact a coup, organised at the highest levels and not a simple matter of dynastic transfer of succession

He arrived with an enormous fleet and London remained under military occupation for 15 months after he was installed as monarch. At the time diarists like John Evelyn had no doubt England had been invaded.
That's exactly what Worsley's programme was about - the fact that it was effectively (and in legal terms) a treasonous coup, and an examination of how the myth (with William's help and advice) was manufactured.

You're in the UK, aren't you? You can see it on iPlayer from here - BBC Four - British History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley or it's repeated later this week.

It covers the (sometimes unintended) later effects too.

The woman herself does begin to grate a bit, though!
 

GDPR

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That's exactly what Worsley's programme was about - the fact that it was effectively (and in legal terms) a treasonous coup, and an examination of how the myth (with William's help and advice) was manufactured.

You're in the UK, aren't you? You can see it on iPlayer from here - BBC Four - British History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley or it's repeated later this week.

It covers the (sometimes unintended) later effects too.

The woman herself does begin to grate a bit, though!

Thanks. I ve been interested in this ever since
O level history when our Scottish Master casually enquired "When was the last time England was successfully invaded?" and we replied "1066". "Wrong."

The resonance is deep because of course - Norn Iron. Treasonous lot that we are.
 


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