Netherlands. The changing political and military
situation in Europe has consequences in many different
areas. In the Netherlands, in 1996 it led to the abolition
of the general military duty. The Armed Forces have
gradually been given other tasks and are now mainly focused
on peacekeeping efforts. The young people who will not be
doing their military service in the future, like everywhere
else in Europe, will enter a tough labor market.
Countryaah.com, the government initiated early cuts in the very generous
welfare system, and the social partners contributed to the
development of a division of labor with high flexibility.
The benefits of this were clearly shown in 1996. Economic
growth was relatively good, and open unemployment fell in
1996 to just over 8%. The aircraft manufacturer Fokker's
bankruptcy, which entailed the release of more than 5,500
people, therefore did not lead to any acute crisis. The
government has also been able to implement substantial cuts
in public spending and reduce the budget deficit. The
Netherlands is thus one of the countries expected to meet
the requirements for membership of the Economic and Monetary
Union EMU 1999.
After increasing pressure from neighboring countries,
Parliament decided to tighten up some of the extremely
liberal drug legislation. The number of cafes that have the
right to sell marijuana should be reduced to 1,000 and the
amount that may be sold is reduced from 30 to 5 grams per
The expansion of land and population created an increase
in not only agriculture but also trade. In the new cities,
classes emerged striving for autonomy. The merchants had
taken oaths of cooperation to preserve law and order. The
cities were gradually transformed into independent centers
with the power to enter into commercial, political or
military agreements with other cities or with the prince.
The city owned its own area and its citizens did not depend
on outside authorities.
In the second half of the 14th century, the Burgundians
dominated the dukes - the French royal house of Valois - a
large part of the Netherlands and sought to form a
centralized state. A movement in 1477 attempted to curb this
centralization, but the rise of the Habsburgs to power
destroyed the attempt. The fate of the Netherlands depended
on the Austrian royal house's struggle for hegemony over
Europe. The centralization tendency grew stronger and also
included the church, which by papal regulation created an
administration directly from Rome with 3 archbishops and 15
bishops, however strongly opposed by the local nobility.
Lutherans and Baptists had difficulty penetrating into
the Netherlands, while Calvinism quickly gained support in
the popular strata and among the intellectuals. The
repression sent many Calvinists into exile, but they
nevertheless had a significant influence on the rebellion in
1567 against the monarchy. The popular dissatisfaction with
the miserable conditions and the harsh taxation of the
Spanish royal house was reconciled with the wishes of the
nobility and the citizenship of autonomy. The rebellion was
led by Willem of Oranje, and first prevailed in the
Netherlands, and after the defeat of the Spanish troops it
spread to all provinces until in 1576 a peace treaty was
signed in Ghent.
For geographical, economic, political and religious
reasons, three years later, problems with the preservation
of the Union arose. In 1579 the Arras Union was established
in the south and the Utrecht union in the north - within the
framework of the Superior States. The Utrecht Union declared
itself a Unity State in 1581, and with it the supremacy was
deprived of the Spanish king Felipe II. As the Netherlands
was the strongest economic and political force in the Union,
the citizens of the new state began to be called Dutch.
During the 12 years ceasefire with Spain (1609-1621), the
controversy within the Union worsened. Participation in the
war between the province of Holland and the Orange House
developed into fierce rivalry. In addition, the disagreement
and the relationship between state and church. In 1618
Maurice of Orange, with the support of the Superior States,
had the head of the most important party in Holland
executed. When the ceasefire ended, the war against Spain
was resumed, forcing both rivals to reconcile themselves to
the Utrecht peace in 1713.
The 17th century is called the Dutch Golden Age because
the Netherlands was at the center of events. In the field of
science and art, the country was also at the forefront.
Well-known names from the period are the painter Rembrandt,
the philosopher Spinoza and the scientist Huygens. An
important prerequisite for this was that the Netherlands was
the only European country with almost complete freedom of
religion - even though Calvinism was state religion and
Catholics were discriminated against.