Village Fair, 15th century
Master of the Hermitage Sketchbook (Netherlandish, 16th century)
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.