Lat/Long: 52.5000, 5.7500
Also known as Holland, the Netherlands is a kingdom in northwestern Europe bordered on the west and north by the North Sea, on the east by Germany, and on the south by Belgium. Part of Charlesmagne's Frankish Empire and later incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire, the Netherlands enjoyed great prosperity and autonomy in the fifteenth century as part of the Hanseatic League. This independence was threatened in 1555 when the Netherlands, a hotbed of Protestantism, passed to Catholic Spain. Introduction of the Inquisition to stamp out Calvinism and other Spanish policies prompted the Dutch to revolt against Spanish rule in 1568. United as the United Provinces in 1579, the Netherlands declared their independence in 1581. It immediately became an important maritime and imperial power, exploring and acquiring possessions in the East and West Indies, India, and North America. The Netherlands battled Spain during the Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1648, which ended with Spain recognizing Dutch independence in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The seventeenth century represented the golden age of Dutch commercial and cultural activity. Dutch commercial activity led to conflict with England and France, and from 1652 to 1713, the Netherlands engaged in a series of imperial wars with these powers that exhausted its resources and saw England and France take many of its colonial possessions. Dutch power further declined in the eighteenth century, and in 1713, it was given to Austria. During the French Revolutionary wars, France overran the county, and in 1795, it made the Netherlands into the Batavian Republic. In 1806, Napoleon I gave the Batavian Republic to his brother as the Kingdom of Holland. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna united the United Provinces and the Austrian Netherlands to become the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. This arrangement continued until 1830, when Belgium revolted against Dutch rule. At the London Conference of 1839, European powers separated Belgium and the Netherlands into separate states. During the later half of the nineteenth century, the Netherlands experienced rapid economic growth thanks to industrialization.
Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988), 822; Courtlandt Canby, The Encyclopedia of Historic Places (New York: Facts on File, 1984), 2:646-47.