De binnenplaats van het Leprozenhuis te Amsterdam
In the 15th-16th centuries, as a result of a protestant migration, Amsterdam became the most important trading city in Holland. In the 17th century Amsterdam grew to the #1 port in Europe and the leading financial center of the world. Amsterdam trading ships sailed to North America, Indonesia, Brazil, and Africa - the later Dutch colonies. Dutch East India Company, founded in 1602, was the first multinational corporation to issue stocks to finance its business. Amsterdam was governed by a body of regents, an oligarchy group with control over all city's life, and the foreign affairs of Holland. Regents spent on the water-ways and infrastructure, hospitals, churches, favored private investment and helped to raise standards of living, allowing the Amsterdam Golden Age - the earliest industrial economy. Amsterdam's wealth was generated by commerce sustained by the encouragement of entrepreneurs of any origin. Amsterdam was a city where immigrants formed the majority. Most immigrants were either Lutheran Protestant Germans, French Huguenots, or Portuguese/Spanish Jews. There was also an influx of Flemish refugees following the fall of Antwerp. Wealthy immigrants were welcomed and got all privileges except those of citizenship, but no encouragement was given to poor Dutch from the countryside or other towns of Holland. During the Napoleonic wars, Amsterdam's fortunes reached their lowest point. At the end of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution gave the economy a big boost and led to a huge influx of worker migrants from the Dutch countryside.