Join us on our journey throughout the history of the Netherlands. We start in so-called "pre-history".
History of the Netherlands
Join us on an epic journey exploring the history of a region in the northwest of Europe known as the Low Countries, which roughly includes today’s Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and bits of northern France. We present you with a chronological narrative of the lowlands from the dawn of civilisation to the present. The articles and podcasts are made by Republic of Amsterdam Radio, a group of history nerds with a passion for telling stories.
Throughout history, the Low Countries would often be defined by their interactions with great powers nearby. This began with the Romans.
A common misperception is that once Roman influence ended, the European continent went into a dark abyss with very little happening until the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century.
On our journey exploring the history of the Low Countries, we can't forget the 'Father of Europe': Charlemagne or Charles the Great.
After the collapse of Charlemagne's empire at the end of the 9th century, the lowlands became the playground for many family feuds.
At the end of the first millennium, an agricultural revolution was about to change the lives of the peasants in the Low Countries.
Freed from the need to be working the land due to the improvements in agriculture, people in the Low Countries began congregating in urban centres. For the first time, they were able to put their fingers onto the scales of power.
This is how the Dutch have reshaped their wetland wilderness into one of the most densely populated places on the planet.
In the 13th century, wool was the most important commodity in Flanders, with Bruges as the epicentre of the wool trade. The industry determined the political, social and economic relations and left its mark on architecture.
In 1302, an unexpected victory of an untrained Flemish infantry militia over a professional force of French cavalry ended the French annexation of the County of Flanders.
Count Floris V, loved by peasants and urban commoners, left a large legacy in Holland. However, his good deeds could not prevent him from being murdered.
In the 14th century, up to half of the European population died of the Black Death after it first struck in 1348. Jews were often blamed for the plague and subsequently burned at the stake as punishment.
Meet the man who managed to unite the Flemish cities behind him and dared to defy the French king for the benefit of England and the wool and textile trade in Flanders.
When John III, Duke of Brabant, died in 1355 without male heirs, his three daughters and their husbands claimed the inheritance with violence.
When the counts of Holland wanted to break the autonomy of Friesland, they incurred the wrath of the Frisian freedom fighters.
Eating herring is a Dutch tradition. This silvery, slimy fish is even part of their national identity, thanks to a myth about a humble herring fisherman.
Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, initiated a dynasty that would change the Low Countries forever.
Philip the Bold set the tone for a dynasty that was going to contribute so much to the emergence of a lowland culture and identity.
John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, asserted himself as the dominant power broker in the Low Countries of the late 14th, early 15th century, showing the ever-restless towns what might happen to them should they rebel against his authority.
In the early 1400s, an English army with longbows, a mad dog and a treacherous bridge would once again make the future of the Low Countries uncertain.
Jacoba of Bavaria, Countess of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland, was a strong leader but went down with power-hungry men, even from her own family.
Before Amsterdam made an international name for itself as a port and trading town, it became known as a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Thanks to a Eucharistic miracle.
In the late Middle Ages, innovative ideas entered the Roman Catholic Church thanks to a Dutch priest and his Modern Devotion movement, who rejected the materialism and excesses of the clergy.