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Netherlands: The Dutch Golden Age

Netherlands: The Dutch Golden Age

The Golden Age

Throughout the 17th century, the Dutch led the world in trade, art, and exploration. Historians call this period the ‘Dutch Golden Age’. Why the Golden Age? Well, during this time the country became one of the wealthiest and most powerful in the world.

Portugal and Spain began global exploration in the late 15th century. In the 16th century, these two countries began to build overseas empires. Other European countries soon began their worldwide explorations. They were all motivated by the Spice Trade and set out to find these valuable goods. You see, spices from Asia were worth more than their weight in gold.

1602, the Dutch East India Company was established by the Netherlands to import and export spices like cinnamon, cardamom, pepper corn, ginger, and turmeric between their origin point in Asia and the high paying markets of Europe.

The Dutch East India Company quickly became the number one trader of Asian goods in Europe. This led to BIG profits for those involved. By the 1670s, ten percent of Dutch men were sailors, and the Netherlands had more ships than England, France, Portugal, and Spain combined!

So, what did they do with all this newfound wealth? The money earned was used to pay for more empire-building and to support architecture, religious buildings, sciences, and ART!

For the first time in history middle class Dutch citizens could afford to purchase art. Dutch paintings from the 17th century feature landscapes, scenes from the sea, homes, everyday objects and, portraits of the proud Dutch people.

One of the most famous paintings from this time is Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch.’ Watch the video and you’ll see that it’s one big story of a group proud Amsterdam citizens.

I think that’s one of my favorite things about art. Every work of art tells a story, you just have to keep your ears and eyes open.




watch: Why are lemons are so popular in Dutch paintings?



watch: Mauritius and the Spice Trade

watch: How trade and exploration led to the creation of time zones

Netherlands: Welcome to Holland

Netherlands: Welcome to Holland

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Netherlands: Tulip Mania

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