Struggle over the Flemish Milch-Cow
Crispijn de Passe the Younger (Dutch, Cologne ca. 1594–1670 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.
The Dutch Golden Age was a period from 1581 to 1672, when the Netherlands experienced the "Dutch Miracle", transcended to the foremost maritime and economic power. In 1568, the Seven Provinces started a rebellion against Philip II of Spain, leading to the Eighty Years' War with Spain and the Thirty Years' War between other European superpowers. Protestants moved from the southern to the northern Netherlands, many settled in Amsterdam, transforming a port town into one of the most important commercial centers in the world by 1630. In addition to the migration of Protestants, there were also influxes of refugees who had previously fled from religious persecution, particularly Sephardi Jews from Portugal and Spain, and Protestants from France. Catholics moved in the other direction - to the southern provinces, modern Belgium. North quickly gained the highest literacy rates in Europe, an abundance of capital, the largest merchant fleet in Europe. The Dutch dominated trade in the Baltic Sea, between China and Japan, and with the English colonies in North America. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) was the first multinational corporation, financed by shares that established the first modern stock exchange. The Bank of Amsterdam, the first central bank, was established in 1609. The Dutch Golden Age is the art period dominanted by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Frans Hals. Some notable artistic styles and trends include Haarlem Mannerism, Utrecht Caravaggism, the School of Delft, the Leiden fijnschilders, and Dutch classicism. 1672 is called a disaster year" when the Dutch Republic was attacked by England, France, Münster, and Bavaria. The invading armies quickly defeated most of the Dutch States Army and conquered part of the Republic.