The Dutch Revolt (1566–1648) Created A Precedent Against All Dictatorships Around The World

In the 16–17th century, the Netherlands, or the low countries called at that time was under the rule of the Spanish King Philip II, he was the king of the Spanish empire which at this time included large parts of Europe.

Philip was very religious, and Catholic and required his people to be so.

Other religions and philosophies of life were not allowed. You were a Heretic if you adhered to something else and often this was combined with severe corporal punishment and death.

The people who fell under the Spanish empire had little say in how they were governed. The King himself made all the decisions and there was certainly no question of separation of powers.

We would now call this a dictatorship.

King Philip loved to make war and did so with a great display of power. He fought against the Ottomans, the French, the Portuguese, the English, and finally, the Dutch revolted.

The Southern Part of The Netherlands Starts to Hassle

Mainly the southern part of the Netherlands started to get tricky. They split off from the rest of the Dutch regions and formed the Southern Netherlands.

This group of provinces was Catholic and the Northern part called the Dutch Republic did not want this.

This doesn’t really sound like an uprising towards Philips but more like a real civil war. Two groups within a country disagree and start arguing.

More and more people in Europe feel the need to adhere to Protestantism. This large group of believers may become a threat to Philips and its Catholic beliefs.

So Philip instituted a mandate that everyone within his realm had to be Catholic. He also wanted there to be a central government. Here the Republic did not agree. At that time William of Orange was a stadholder in a number of cities and thought this was a bad idea.

The regions were allowed to regulate their own laws and Philip II sowed unrest when they were no longer allowed to do so. One of the reasons why things started boiling over in the Netherlands.

The Eighty Years’ War Starts

In 1568, the Eighty Years’ War begins. The Netherlands had become occupied by the Spanish at this time, and William of Orange had a plan to invade the Netherlands. Among other things at Heiligerlee, known from the “Battle of Heiligerlee”.

The attacks in the Republic did not go so well and William of Orange lost many. The Battle of Heiligerlee was won but to no avail.

During his second attempt at the Battle of Den Briel was won. In 1572, the “watergeuzen” conquered the small Dutch town.

These actions eventually lead to the Dutch independence.

Act of Abjuration: “Plakkaat van Verlatinghe”

On July 26, 1581, the Plakkaat van Verlatinghe was officially signed and ratified by the States-General of the Netherlands.

Historically, this was one of the first declarations of independence in the world and created a precedent for, among other things, the Declaration of Independence of the United States.

The Dutch revolt can more or less be seen as a revolutionary in terms of independence from western countries and many would follow.

Door Johannes Hinderikus Egenberger —, Publiek domein,

Originally Published on Medium

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