History of the Netherlands
This page details the history of the Netherlands from 1566 to the present day.
God created the world but the Dutch created the Netherlands.— Dutch maxim
The Dutch Revolt
The Habsburg Netherlands erupted into revolution in the 1560s as a result of the Spanish Crown's centralization, suppression of Protestantism, indifference for local nobles, and disregard for commerce manifested in sanctions on trade with England and other Protestant nations. William I, Prince of Orange, one of the most powerful nobles in the Low Countries and former confidant of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, emerged as a principal leader of the Dutch Revolt. By 1572, the rebels had occupied most of Holland and Zeeland, soon followed by other territories. Spanish and Italian troops, under the hardliner Duke of Alva, raised taxes and indiscriminately massacred citizens, contributing to the growth of the rebel movement. On 8 November 1576, the Pacification of Ghent brought a short-lived peace that allowed the States-General, the supreme governing body of the new country, to begin revenue collection and statebuilding.
Less than three weeks after the loyalist Catholic counties of Artois and Hainaut were joined in the Union of Arras on 6 January 1579, the states of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, and others signed the Union of Utrecht in opposition. In 1581, the Act of Abjuration renounced the states' allegiance to Philip II of Spain. By invitation of William I of Orange, the French prince the Duke of Anjou traveled to the Netherlands to serve as the country's new monarch. After being rejected by the Dutch provinces, he died in 1584, followed shortly by the assassination of William I by a Catholic radical. In 1588, the States-General promulgated the Deduction of Vrancken, which established a basis for the sovereignty and independent identity of the Low Countries as well as the supremacy of the County of Holland. After over twenty more years of war, a twelve-year ceasefire with the Habsburgs was agreed upon on 9 April 1609. Soon after, France, England, and Venice recognized the sovereignty of the Dutch Republic.
During the twelve years of peace, the new sovereign entity built new infrastructure, consolidated its industries, and worked to accommodate the thousands of immigrants rushing into the country from the rest of war-torn Europe. The government would also face the gargantuan task of satisfying the dream of decentralization while conserving the confederation as well as upholding equality while maintaining unity. By the dawn of the century, the Republic was approximately half Protestant, half Catholic; internally, the Protestant side was too developing its own sectarian divide — the hardline Calvinists led by Franciscus Gomarus and the liberal Remonstrants led by Jacobus Arminius. The Synod of Dort, in May 1619, put the debate to rest by taking the side of the Gomarists and rejecting Arminian doctrine. At the same time, the trial and execution of the Arminian politician Oldenbarnevel confirmed the supremacy of the Prince of Orange and the Gomarists. Naturally, the Orangists and the Gomarists established a political alliance soon after.
In January 1622, the war with Spain resumed following the expiration of the truce. A decade later, the town of Maastricht fell into Dutch hands under Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. In 1637, the Dutch Stock Exchange crashed due to the manic popularity of tulips, flowers which later became heavily associated with the country. Peace talks with Spain eventually began in January 1646, after months of stalling by a number of Dutch provinces, particularly Zeeland. Upon Frederick Henry's untimely death in 1647, the Republic's refusal to permit Catholicism within its borders led to another round of negotiations. By the summer of 1648, the Peace of Münster declared the Dutch Republic at peace and sovereign.
William II, Prince of Orange, the new stadtholder of Holland, continuously had his authority disrespected and his input ignored. On 4 June 1650 the States of Holland decided to disband groups of soldiers without the consent of the Prince of Orange — this led to an invasion of Amsterdam with an army of 12,000 Orangist troops. The army promptly got lost in the fog and failed to occupy Amsterdam, leading to the city of Amsterdam and the Orangists to enter negotiations. Not long after, William II suddenly died of smallpox, leaving behind his heavily pregnant wife, Princess Mary Henrietta of England.
Later Golden Age: 1650–1712
|Later Golden Age|
William III (1679–1712)
Adriaan Pauw (1651–1653)
Johan de Witt (1653–1678)
Gaspar Fagel (1678–1690)
The Later Golden Age encompasses the second half of the Dutch Golden Age, traditionally dated 1588 to 1712, which is also referred to as the 'long 17th century'. This period saw numerous notable events, both domestic and international, including the foundation of colonies in America, Africa, and Asia, the First and Second Anglo-Dutch Wars, the Franco-Dutch War, and the twenty-year Anglo-Dutch Union.
First Anglo-Dutch War & the Act of Exclusion
The English government under Oliver Cromwell passed the first Navigation Act in October 1651, a piece of legislation which would deal a great deal of damage to Dutch trade. Dutch attempts to protect its merchant fleets led to the outbreak of the First Anglo-Dutch War in the summer of 1652. England, a republic, severely reprimanded the States-General for allowing the dominance of the House of Orange-Nassau — this was met with an equal reaction in the Netherlands, where many came to rally support for William III, Prince of Orange.
Peace came in the spring of 1654. The Treaty of Westminster, a rather conventional peace treaty on the surface, was signed on 21 April. Little known to the States of Holland, it included a secret clause known as the Act of Exclusion, which would forbid any member of the House of Orange-Nassau from holding the stadtholdership of the country. This would remain an incredibly embarrassing moment for the Republic for years to come.
In England, Charles II was restored as monarch in 1660. Despite his friendliness with the Dutch, the country of his daughter's son, he continued to pass legislation that harmed the Netherlands. On 20 July, Princess Mary Henrietta, the widow of stadtholder William II, Prince of Orange, petitioned that her son William III be made a 'child of state' and that the Republic take responsibility for his education. The States-General agreed to this, revoking the Act of Exclusion and signaling a welcome return of the Orange-Nassau family to national prominence.
In 1658, the Dutch government signed the Treaty of Perpetual Alliance with the Iroquois Confederacy (a.k.a. Hödenoshieoné), gaining a valuable ally against the rival colonies of New France and New England. Soon after, a Municipal Charter was granted to New Netherland in 1656, giving the colony burgher government and limited representation. In order to compensate for their loss, the States-General granted the Dutch West India Company (GWC) a trade charter for the interior of the North American continent. For the next several years, the GWC and the Dutch-aligned Iroquois would cooperate in order to halt French expansion and expand Dutch holdings all across the continent, participating in violent conflicts such as the Quiripi Wars, which erupted later that decade.Peter Stuyvesant, the banished Director-General of New Netherland, became Governor-General of Formosa, a position he would begrudgingly retain until his death in 1669. After the defeat of the Zeng family and Japan's continuation of its commercial embargoes, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) appointed a new governor for the colony, Jacob van Aertens. Under its new patroonship system, a number of Dutch families arrived on the island. Today, many in Tauland can trace their ancestry back to these families as well as the Stuyvesants.
Rivals to victors: 1664–1676
In August 1664, English ships attempted to capture the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam under Director-General van der Grift. Compounded with England's renewed economic warfare against the Dutch Republic, the incident quite quickly sparked the beginning of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The Battle of Rodenbergh on 5 March 1665 was the turning point of the war, with New Netherland forces gradually pushing back English advances from the north and the south. In 1667, the Treaty of Breda was signed between the two countries, with the Netherlands emerging victorious. New Netherland annexed the New Haven Colony (which had formally joined the Connecticut Colony in 1665), the Colony of Maryland, and the remainder of Long Island from the English. In Guyana, the Corantijn River was established as the boundary dividing their South American possessions.
Soon after the conclusion of the Treaty, Charles II of England died, leaving his throne for Princess Mary Henrietta, mother of William III, Prince of Orange. She was crowned Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland on 1 March 1667 as Henrietta I. Her ascension marked a turning point in Anglo-Dutch relations. She forged a close relationship with Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt, aiming to create a united coalition against the expansion of France under Louis XIV in Europe and America. With newfound mutual cooperation, the two countries spearheaded an effort to contain France, establishing the Triple Alliance in 1668 with Sweden and the discreet cooperation of Spain. In 1676, the Peace of Nijmegen halted French expansion to the north and the east and affirmed Anglo-Dutch supremacy over northwestern Europe.
William III's rise
William III was elected stadtholder of Utrecht and Holland in 1673 and 1674, respectively. The Dutch States Party, led by Grand Pensionary de Witt, attempted to halt his ascent to power but were ultimately unable to do so due to his popularity in the County and his connections both within and outside the Netherlands. Within the States Party, he found an ally in the mentally unstable figure of Conrad van Beuningen, burgomaster of Amsterdam, who acted as a mediator between him and the republican segments of the States-General and the Council of State, allowing for peaceful administration of the Republic to continue.
As a young prince and potential Stadhouder, he actively sought further education. Tutors from the universities of Cambridge, Leiden, and Amsterdam gave him further instruction in history, politics, theology, natural science, and other subjects. He resolved to follow in his mother's footsteps regarding an anti-French foreign policy, upholding the Calvinist faith while maintaining civil order, and discreetly preserving the influence of the House of Orange-Nassau balanced with the States-General. In 1679, with the assistance of his Zeelandic noble cousin William Adrian of Nassau-Odijk, William III became the province's stadtholder.
The fervently Calvinistic German prince, Charles II, Elector Palatine died childless in 1682. He was the brother of William III's wife, Elizabeth Charlotte of the Palatinate, Princess of Orange. In order to prevent the Palatinate from being transferred to the rule of the Catholic Neuberg family, William III staked a claim on the region, traveling to the Holy Roman Empire. He successfully obtained the title of Elector Palatine shortly after, thus effectively uniting the Netherlands and the Palatinate in personal union. This also had the effect of creating an anti-French polity to the east of France, causing Louis XIV to be blocked from all sides except south.
In the winter of 1684, William III traveled to England in order to voice his opposition to provisions affecting the Dutch in the new Navigation Act 1684. Reminding his mother, the Queen, and the Houses of Parliament that he was the heir apparent to the English throne, amended the bill to include numerous exceptions for the Dutch maritime trade. Soon after, the Queen officially invested him with the title Prince of Wales, cementing his intention to inherit the Crown of his mother. In return for his patriotic actions, the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht decided to make his stadtholdership in their provinces hereditary in the male line in April 1685.
Oliver Cromwell first proposed a "partial fusion of sovereignties" between England and the Netherlands in 1651 in order to advance the Protestant interest in western Europe and resist Catholic expansion. This idea was firmly opposed by the Dutch Council of State and Britain's radical Fifth Monarchists. On 25 October 1653 and 18 November 1653, possible union as between the two countries as proposed by Oliver Cromwell were wholeheartedly rejected by the Dutch government for the last time. Just under four decades later in 1692, the countries would enter into personal union under William III, who in fact possessed the stadtholdership of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht, the Crown of England, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as the countship of the Palatinate. It should be noted that while leading the Netherlands this Anglo-Dutch union was never a true political union and rather it was an aliging of foreign policy objectives.
Great Silesian War and Prince Maurice's War (1750-1755)After resurrecting an old Brandenburg testamentary claim to Silesia and forming an alliance with France and other smaller German states, Prussia invaded Austrian Silesia in 1750. France, Bavaria, and Saxony, and Sweden had supported the Franco-Prussian Entente. Britain had supported its ally, Austria. Spain, having a Habsburg monarch, and territories in the low countries, soon became quickly involved in the war. The Dutch Republic was also attacked by the French due to their interests in the region.
Prince Maurice's War was the North American theatre of the Great Silesian War. Prince Maurice's War was one of the largest colonial wars in North America, where the colonies of Britain, Spain, and the Dutch Republic were pitted against those of France and their native allies.
The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vienna on 16 February 1755. The treaty granted the Dutch possession of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Basin region, while the British were granted possession of Guadeloupe (including the islands of Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Les Saintes, Marie-Galante, and La Désirade). In Europe, Prussia's territory was divided between the allies. East Frisia becomes part of the United Provinces, and East Prussia has been granted to Russia, who then had exchanged it for the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia shortly after, which had been under the Polish Dominion.
These where just a number of the numerous wars the Netherlands fought
The French Revolution
In the midst of the French revolution, the French invaded the Dutch Republic in 1795, replacing it with a pro-French client state known as the Batavian Republic. The stadtholder sent an order to the colonies to surrender to England for safekeeping from the French while the Dutch Republic was in exile. However, colonies resisted this order and refused to surrender to the English or French. One notable exception is New Netherland, which took advantage of the opportunity and declared independence from the Dutch in 1796.
Eventually, revolutionary France was defeated in 1814. The low countries was restored to Dutch hands in the same year, but this time under a monarchy: the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with the House of Orange as the ruling family.
Short 19th century
With the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, several critical reforms were enacted. These reforms could be divided into 2 categories, company reforms and administrative reforms. The company reforms reorganized the numerous trading companies, The West indies company (West Indiesche Compagnie) and the Dutch East Indies (Verenigde oost indies he compagnie) were split into smaller companies. The goal of this was simple, to encourage competition and innovation among them. Most notably where the Royal Tussenland company (koninklijke Tussenlandt compagnie) that operated in Tussenlandt and the Goudkust compagnie.
The administrative reforms were considered just as crucial but are often forgotten. These reforms did away with the old decentralized nature of the republic, no longer did the provinces act as defacto independent entities. From 1814 onwards the power would be with the central government in the Hague, with the provinces acting more on regional matters. This was to better control the kingdom, protect it and govern it.
During the early 1800s in the Netherlands, her time was mainly spent at home on slowly industrializing, solidifying and building up the governmental institutions, rewriting the constitution of 1841 with the new constitution of 1844 that gave parliament more power. It is often said by historians that in these years the Netherlands, while one of the great powers, still was building the necessary institutions that would make it a remarkably resilient adaptable, and efficient government later on. All of this was helped by the riches coming in from Asia and the Americas fueling the industrialization and the state as a whole.
Wars of Humiliation (1850-1857)
Canton War (1850-1857)
The Dutch had a long monopoly over the Chinese trade since the establishment of Formosa (now Taulandt) in the 17th century. Aiming to break the monopoly, the Kingdoms of France and Britain supported a growing revolt in Canton that aimed to overthrow the Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty requested help from their ally, the Dutch.
On 1 March 1850, a Dutch admiral sunk a British ship carrying gunpowder en route to Canton. As soon as Europe got word of the incident, Britain hastily declared war on the Dutch Empire. France soon joined on the side of Canton and the British. This quickly developed into a global conflict, with British and Dutch colonies being pitted against each other in the Americas and multiple naval battles being fought on the English channel. In China, the Anglo-British-Cantonese alliance was slowly pushing back the Dutch and the Qing.
Notable are the numerous raids that took place upon the Dutch coast by British and French privateers, just as notable where the concurent raids by Dutch privateers upon the British and French coasts. This was the only true fighting that took place as both sides has their military held up by manning their European borders.
2nd Dutch-Spanish War (1850-1855)
While the Netherlands was distracted, Spain declared a separate war against the Dutch, aiming to take possession of conflicting claims in Tussenland and in the Maluku islands. The Dutch surrendered in 1856. In the resulting treaty, the Dutch ceded a large portion of the Mississippi basin region to New Spain, and they were forced to release South Tussenland as an independent nation, effectively locking the Dutch out of the Gulf of Florida. In the East Indies, the Dutch had ceded the Spice Islands (Maluku) to the Spanish. This had soured relations between the Dutch and the Spanish, until in 1881, Mexico had declared their independence as the Empire of Mexico.
When the wars came to an end in 1857, the Netherlands entered a new reality. The wars of humiliation had been costly to the treasury and on the empire, it had taken away the monopoly on trade with the middle kingdom, and valuable islands and had weakened the position globally. It led to an economic depression that lasted roughly three years, only ending when Dirk van Sytzama became prime minister. Under him a new political movement became dominant, calling for reforms to strengthen the Netherlands. All the while implementing rules that banned child labour, enacted a working week and ensured fiscal responsibility and administrative reform. His party the Anti-revolutionaire partij (ARP) oversaw the transition from the old “Empire” to the new empire, this being done by the way of economic reforms.
ARP rule in this period (1861 - 1870) is often characterized by historians for its stability, economic reform and economic growth. While the quality of life improved for the average citizen the Netherlands also became more militaristic, once again like the days of the old republic. With many, a Dutchman saw the loss of the colonies and the wealth due to the weakness.
Rebuilding the military
From 1870 onwards as the Netherlands was getting back on its feet, with it exceeding production levels of 1850 for the first time. It became clear to the ruling “Christelijke democraten partij” (CDP), that the world was no longer safe. In the past 20 years since the end of the wars of humiliation, the Netherlands navy had slowly rebuilt itself, yet remained a small but capable navy focused on defence, while the Dutch army was reliant upon 3 professional regiments used for the colonies. This in the eyes of prime minister Floris de Noorman could not continue. What made it more apparent was when tensions arose with Britain over Aceh. It was thus in 1870 that the first of the so-called “Fleet laws” (Vloot wetten) and “Army laws” (Leger wetten) were taken in.
The Fleet laws were, in essence, large-scale building orders for the Netherlands navy, these laws would be enacted every 5 years, and were long-term oriented. For it was clear to the Dutch officer corp and the members of parliament that the Netherlands had a strong maritime tradition, and some of the largest and most advanced shipyards in Europe but it had to build up its forces.
These expansions would see the Netherlands by 1900 possessing the second largest fleet in Europe second only to the British. It was a fleet unrivalled by its neighbours and often said to be able to go toe to toe with the British if needed.
The army laws were in the same spirit as the fleet laws, they had a focus on professionalizing the military, expanding it and building up its military industry. This saw the enactment of conscription, (Diesntplicht or Nationale dienst). Each man once he turned 18 would serve for a period of 2 years. During this time they learned basic military skills, it was in essence meant to build up a large pool of manpower. During the humiliating wars, the Netherlands lacked a reserve force.
During this period of reform, the Netherlands became more standardized also adopting steel helmets, the field grey uniforms that they would become famous for. All of this resulted in the Netherlands in which it was normal that at least 7 out of 10 males would be part of the reserves, this aided in the militarisation of Dutch society as a whole.
These conscripts were led by a professional core of officers, with 200,000 men being the standing force (professionals). It was during this time that the military was divided into 20 divisions of 10,000 men each. A majority of these forces, at least 12 of the 20 divisions, were stationed throughout the empire, a majority in Tussenlandt. With around 8 at home for home defence.
Thus when the 1900s came the Netherlands possed a robust, professional and modern military. It was a military that had become known for its professionalism, ability to respond and its brutality in the colonies, it was often said that;
“A single Dutchman can equal 10 Frenchmen”
All of these reforms, combined with the resurgence of the Netherlands economy, its becoming a leader in several parts, made the Netherlands once again one of the “Great powers” with it being considered the 2nd or 3rd power in Europe after Britain or France depending on who you asked. This made the Dutch government confident with its foreign policy more aggressive.
1900 to 1939By the 20th century, the Netherlands had rissen out of the ashes of the 2nd Dutch-Spanish War (1850-1855) and the Canton War (1850-1855), fought primarily in North America and in Asia. The war caused a massive loss of Dutch territory and prestige. Although in the 1870s, the Dutch economy started to recover. In the next thirty years, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was gradually able to rebuild itself and modernise its military and navy. It was thus able to rebuilt itself into one of the primary powers of the world.
The Dutch-Mexican War (1901-1903)By the 1890s, tensions arose when the Dutch condemned Mexico's activities in the Boer Provinces. In March 1900, the Netherlands warned Mexico to cease activity in the Boer provinces, but Mexico ignored the warning. The following month, the Netherlands marched its troops into the Black Hills Republic (nominally Mexican territory) to protect the Amerikaner settlers there. Mexico was outraged by this violation of its sovereignty. In an attempt to diffuse the tension, the Netherlands offered to purchase all former and claimed territories to avoid conflict, but Mexico rejected it. Mexico issued an ultimatum to the Dutch to end their presence inside Mexican territory but was once again ignored. Mexico took no further action until the following year. On February 3, 1901, Mexico declared war on the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
On the seas, the young Mexican navy was no match against the Dutch navy, which had blockaded important Atlantic-facing Mexican ports. However, the war was slow and drudging for the Dutch on land, having difficulty penetrating Mexican defenses. The tides eventually favored the Dutch when they won the siege of Santa Maria in the spring of 1901. The Dutch emerged victorious in a series of naval battles on the gulf and captured Matamoros and Tampico in the same year, prompting calls for peace. On June 4, 1903, peace was signed on the city of Williamsburg in neutral Virginia in favor of the Dutch.
After the war, territory that was lost during the 2nd Dutch-Spanish War was returned to the Dutch. In the Boer provinces of Mexico, the Northern Boers identified more with the Dutch than the Mexicans, and they were invited to be absorbed into the Federation of Tussenland, but they rejected the offer, citing cultural differences as a result of 75 years of Hispanic influence. There was also opposition within Tussenland against their entry into the Federation. The provinces of Irokesenland and Westerzee feared that two new Amerikaner dominated provinces would upset the political balance within the Federation and threaten Tussenland's cosmopolitan nature. As a compromise, borders were redrawn, and the independent Amerikaens Free State was created.
On the other hand, the Southern Boers identified more with Mexico and elected to stay within the Mexican Empire, granted that their autonomy would be restored and be allowed to continue self-rule.
Independence of Dutch Tussenland
Despite winning the Dutch-Mexican War and having new territories annexed into the Tussenland Federation (as unincorporated territories), the Kingdom of the Netherlands was slow (and reluctant) to parcel out these lands to the Amerikaners. Due to this sluggishness, the Tussenlanders, independently of the Dutch, established the Tussenland Land Agency which started surveying the land and opening it up to settlers. This led to the Dutch dismissing and replacing the leader of the Federation. However, Tussenlanders were loyal to the dismissed leader, and started to resent the Kingdom of the Netherlands for this act. This soon grew into a conflict between Tussenland and the Netherlands, with the latter blockading Tussenland's Pacific ports and the Mexican Gulf. Tussenland declared independence on February 14, 1905, and it was not long until the Tussenlanders drove off the Dutch from America. Despite this, the Dutch still did not officially recognize Tussenland independence until 1911.
Quasi-War with the New Netherland (1905-1906)
Back in 1905, New Netherland supported the Federation of Tussenland in their independence against the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Dutch conducted a blockade of the Gulf of Mexico to prevent Tussenlander ships from entering or exiting the Atlantic. However, goods and resources could still be shipped to Tussenland due to their Pacific ports and through New Netherland. Naturally, in September 1905, this blockade eventually extended to the seas of New Netherland. At first, NNL ships could pass through with ease through the blockade, as the Dutch only targeted Tussenlander ships. However, this changed when on February 1, 1906, the Dutch warship Amsterdam sunk the JHS Restaurasie, a merchant ship owned by the Jonkman Shipping Company based in New Netherland. New Netherland issued a diplomatic protest against the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but both sides took no further diplomatic action.
Instead, New Netherland mandated the outfitting of merchant ships with weaponry in order for them to defend themselves in case of a Dutch attack. This soon rapidly developed into an undeclared naval war between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and New Netherland. In 1906, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was able to sink four more ships of New Netherland. This rapidly escalated into an undeclared naval war between the two powers. The Dutch had the upper hand in 1906, but the tides were quickly turned in the following years. The Quasi-War catalyzed New Netherland's ship production, enabling them to outfit and deploy new submarines and armed merchant ships. The willingness of the Dutch to continue the blockade gradually started to wane in 1908, as their ships were constantly harassed by NNL merchant ships and submarine fleets. Since this was an undeclared war, there was no formal conclusion to the Quasi-War. However, the last naval encounter between NNL and the Netherlands was on April 4, 1910.
The Tulips Uprising (1910)
Due to the development of events in the Netherlands and in Europe as a whole, ideas of anti-militarism, anti-colonialism, Communardism, and even anti-monarchism took root in the kingdom. Since the loss of Tussenland, the Netherlands' naval blockade and warfare had worn out the civilian populace, who were starting to grow weary of the constant wars. This culminated in the Tulips Uprising in 1910, where various factions coalesced into a single front, demanding civil and political reform in the Netherlands.
This uprising was easily halted by the Dutch, however, and support for it soon faded. Historians attribute the failure of the Tulips Uprising to the disunity and infighting between the factions. For example, the anti-colonialists were composed of both monarchists and anti-monarchists, and they never got to a consensus on the topic of monarchy. There were also Communards who refused to cooperate with the monarchists and anti-colonialists. These circumstances ultimately led to the failure of the Tulips Uprising.
Involvement in the Russo-Corean War (1932)
The Dutch became entangled in a conflict in Asia after Russia launched a punitive war against the Corean Empire in 1932. The Netherlands, called upon by Corea due to their established alliance, played a strategic role during the war. The Dutch provided naval and logistical support, notably through the utilization of Tauland as a naval base. This move, based on a controversial agreement with Tauland from 1895, inadvertently drew Tauland into the conflict, causing strain in Dutch-Taulander relations due to the island's substantial civilian casualties and resulting anti-war sentiment.
Dutch participation took a turn following the outbreak of the Great War in Europe. Fearing a broadening of the conflict and potential intervention by Russia's ally, Great Britain, the Netherlands withdrew from the Russo-Corean War in a strategic pivot that shocked both allies and adversaries. This withdrawal was formalized swiftly with Russian recognition, initiating the Dutch military's retreat from Corean soil. The abrupt abandonment significantly soured Dutch-Corean relations, perceived by Corea as a stark betrayal reminiscent of previous Dutch diplomatic maneuvers.
The Netherlands during the Great War (1935-1939)
During the Great War, Camille Laframboise of France and Emmerich Stefanov of Austria engineered an attack against the then-neutral Netherlands and Rhineland to shock Great Britain and Russia and distract them from the other active fronts of the war. The plan was dubbed Operation Vendémiaire, and was launched on September 7, 1937. France had hoped that the Netherlands would easily capitulate, considering that they recently pulled out of the Russo-Corean War.
The French made a rapid push into the Netherlands capturing Antwerp by the end of September, but forward-placed Dutch units inflicted heavy damage on the French attackers, providing significant resistance and preventing the French army from moving north. As December came closer, the operation came to a stalemate, with British reinforcements, Dutch firepower and heavy resistance the defenders able to halt the French advance.
Despite the Dutch victory against the French campaign, substantial damage was inflicted to the nation, including the destruction of the city of Leiden.
Interwar period: 1939–1960
Reform and unrest in the Dutch East Indies
In 1941, the Netherlands initiated the Herschikking reforms in the Dutch East Indies to bolster the nation's post-war recovery by optimizing resource extraction. These reforms triggered significant societal changes in the Dutch East Indies, including a significant rural-to-urban migration and a subsequent surge in informal urban housing. These reforms also entailed curtailing the power of several local polities, including the Djohor Sultanate, creating widespread discontent and unrest among the colonial subjects. This eventually culminated in the Djohor Uprising in 1952, a violent conflict between Djohorean rioters and Dutch forces.
East Indies Crisis (1960-1976)
The East Indies Crisis, which unfolded from 1960 to 1976, stands as the most intense and violent colonial conflict in Dutch history, resulting from heightened tensions between the Soendanese people and Dutch forces. Throughout the 1960s, the Dutch government's strategy was to suppress the uprising by any means, leading to harsh tactics that drew international criticism.
The ongoing conflict demanded more troops, forcing the Netherlands to change its conscription policies. This change, coupled with the high number of war casualties, put significant pressure on Dutch society. Public opinion turned against the war by the 1970s, leading to Prime Minister Geert Dijkman, who had served since 1971, eventually being ousted from parliament.
He was succeeded by Koen Haverman, a former soldier in the East Indies and a member of the Party for Democracy (PvD). Haverman shifted Dutch policy, initiating the withdrawal of Dutch forces from Soenda. This move in 1976 effectively ended the long-standing Dutch presence in Soenda. The conclusion of the conflict triggered a major refugee crisis. Supporters of the Dutch were forced to flee, with many relocating to the Netherlands, New Batavia, or neighboring countries.