Netherlands United, 1815-30 1848-1870

Belgian War for Independence 1830-1831

The Northern Netherlands, 1830-1848

Foreign and Colonial Policy . Belgium declared independence in 1830. The Netherlands reacted by sending troops (1831), but a French Army intervened; Dutch troops withdrew. International diplomacy set in, Belgium's independence and neutrality was recognized in 1839 (so late because of the reluctance of King William I. to recognize Belgian independence). The Duchy of Luxemburg was split in a western part - the Belgian province of Luxemburg - and an eastern part - the (catholic) Grand Duchy, united in dynastic union with the Netherlands (the flags are still close). The province of Limburg - the population predominantly Catholic and siding with Belgium, the fortresses of Maastricht and Venlo held by the Dutch - also was split between the Netherlands and Belgium. The split of 1830/39 was the last noteworthy change in the borders of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
In 1845 the Dutch West Indies were dissolved, into the separate colonies of Suriname and Curaçao.

Domestic Policy . In 1834 priest Hendrick de Cock split with the Dutch Reformed Church, rejecting the church ordinnance of 1816 (which had mde the church a tool of royal policy); he and his supporters formed dissenting churches, which in 1869 merged to form the Christian Reformed Church.
King William I. abdicated in 1840 in order to marry Countess d'Oultremont, a Catholic. In 1840 the constitution was amended, yet the hope of liberals to limit the authority of the king and introduce parliamntary rule was not realized yet. King William II (1840-1849), fearing revolution, in 1848 called a liberal cabinet under Donker Curtius; the politician most influential in shaping the new constitution was J. Thobecke. In 1847 the fortifications of fortress city Bergen-op-Zoom were razed.

The Economy . During a considerable period - between 1830 and 1839, King Willem I. stubbornly refused to accept Belgian independence; the armed forces were held in readyness, causing quite a burden for the national budget, money which could not be invested elsewhere. In 1841 a law masked bankrupcy of the state.
It is often stated that the Netherlands, regarding industrialization, lagged behind its southern neighbour Belgium. Unlike Belgium, the Netherlands provides of few natural resources - little coal (S. Limburg, not mined until 1901) and no iron ore, key resources during the period of early industrialization. In addition, railroad construction seemed less urgent to Dutch politicians - the Netherlands had an excellent network of navigable waterways - than to Belgian politicians who, for centuries, have suffered from obstacles put up by the Dutch to harm Belgian trade, such as the blockade of Antwerp and the criticized Rhine tolls. The railway connection connecting Oostende and Köln, opened in 1843, served to circumvent the Dutch Rhine toll.
In 1839 the Netherlands' first railway line, connecting the capital Amsterdam with the seat of government Den Haag, was opened; in 1843 it was extended to Utrecht, in 1845 to Arnhem. Pump stations powered by steam engines permitted the drainage of lakes and swamps at a larger scale than before; the Haarlemmermeer was drained 1845-1852. The construction of canals continued.
The potato blight of 1845 also affected the Netherlands; the Dutch version of the Corn Laws was repealed that year.
In the Dutch East Indies, the cultivation system (cultuurstelsel) was introduced, in order to raise the colony's revenue; a policy of gradual extension of Dutch rule in her sphere of interest (delineated in a treaty with Britain in 1824) was implemented.

Article William I., from Wikipedia, English edition
Article Willem I., Willem II., Nederlandse Grondwet (constitution), Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, Haarlemmermeer, Afscheiding van 1834, from Wikipedia Dutch edition
Development of Parliamentary Democracy, from the Holland Page (scroll down to find the chapter)
Short History of Dutch Catholicism : Revival 1795-1890, from Katholieke Documentatie Centrum at Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen
Nederlands en Belgisch Limburg, from Museum voor Vaderlandse Geschiedenis, in Dutch
Periode 1814-1840; Periode 1840-1848, onder koning Willem I (Period 1814-1840 resp. 1840-1848, under King Willem I.), from Parlement en Politiek, in Dutch, official site on the history of the Netherlands' Parliament
DOCUMENTS Links to Documents on the History of the Netherlands in the 19th Century, posted by psm-data
Map : Ecclesiastical geography of the Netherlands 1801-1853, from Commissaris 1935, posted by Katholiek Documentatie Centrum at Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen
Coins issued under Willem I. 1815-1840, and under Willem II. (1840-1848), from Numismania
Portrait of Willem I., from Art Istocracy
Portrait of Willem II., from Art Istocracy
REFERENCE Mark T. Hooker, The History of Holland, Westport : Greenwood, 1999; KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.2 H783h
J.C.H. Blom, A Small European Nation State (1830-1870s), pp.387-404 in : J.C.H. Blom and E. Lamberts (ed.), History of the Low Countries, trsl. by James C. Kennedy, NY : Berghahn Books 1999, KMLA Lib. Sign. 949.3 B653h
A.J.W. Camijn, Een eeuw vol bedrijvigheid. De industrialisatie van Nederland, 1814-1914 (A century of industry, the industrialization of the NL), Utrecht : Veen 1987 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on May 5th 2006

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