Netherlands: The Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands
At the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) the former United Provinces and the former Austrian Netherlands were united under King William I, son of William V of Orange. In 1830, however, the former Austrian provinces (Belgium), whose language, religion, and culture differed from those of the Dutch, rebelled against Dutch rule and declared independence. An agreement between Belgium and the Netherlands was reached only in 1839 (see London Conference). William I was forced to abdicate in 1840 and was succeeded by William II, under whom Jan Thorbecke introduced important constitutional reforms in 1848.
Under William III (1849–90) the Netherlands enjoyed a period of commercial expansion and internal development. The Industrial Revolution progressed rapidly after 1860. Trade unionism grew in the late 19th cent., and considerable national social-welfare legislation was passed. At the same time the country's cultural life flourished, led by the painter Vincent van Gogh, the writer Louis Couperus, and others.
In 1890, Queen Wilhelmina began her reign of almost 60 years. The Netherlands was neutral in World War I. In 1932, a 19-mi (31-km) dam was completed; it enclosed the Zuider Zee and thus created the IJsselmeer, a large freshwater lake. A number of large polders, including the Northeast Polder and Eastern and Southern Flevoland, were later reclaimed from the IJsselmeer.
In World War II, Germany invaded (May, 1940) the Netherlands without warning, crushed Dutch resistance, and wantonly destroyed Rotterdam. The queen and her government fled abroad. German occupation authorities, headed by Arthur Seyss-Inquart, established a reign of terror; underground resistance led to mass executions and deportations. Of the approximately 112,000 Dutch Jews, about 104,000 were deported to Poland by the Germans and exterminated. Allied airborne landings (1944) at Arnhem and Eindhoven liberated Zeeland, North Brabant, and Limburg provinces.
Sections in this article:
- The Postwar Years
- The Kingdom of the Netherlands
- A Succession of Wars
- The United Provinces
- Revolt in the Netherlands
- The Rise of the Netherlands
- Land and People
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