Dutch Republic

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> States >> Dutch Republic

Map of Europe in 1700 showing the Dutch Republic published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license
Capital The Hague
Language(s) Dutch, Zeelandic, West Flemish, Dutch Low Saxon, Frisian languages
Religion Calvinist
Population Approximately 2,000,000 inhabitants (aside from colonies)
Annual Revenues about £2,500,000 (normalized in British pounds to allow comparison)
Government Republic
  • in Africa
    • Cape Colony in Southern Africa
    • Fort Nassau on the Gold Coast
  • in the Indian sub-continent
    • Dutch Coromandel (Negapatnam)
    • Dutch Bengal (Chinsurah)
    • Dutch Malabar (Cochin)
    • Dutch Suratte
    • part of the coast of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka)
  • Malacca
  • various islands and establishments in the Sunda Islands
    • part of Java Island
      • Batavia (present-day Jakarta) the capital of the establishments of the Dutch East India Company, already counting some 150,000 inhabitants
    • Banda Islands
    • Ambon Island
    • Moluccas
    • Celebes Island (present-day Sulawesi)
  • in South America
    • Surinam (Dutch Guiana)
  • in the West Indies
    • Curaçao
    • Sint Eustatius in the West Indies
Rulers 1672-1702: Stadtholder William III of Orange

1702-1720: Grand Pensionary Anthonie Heinsius

Army On the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession, the Dutch Republic fielded the second most important army in Western Europe. For more details see the article on the Dutch Army
Navy At the end of the 17th century, the naval power of the Dutch Republic was in decline. Nevertheless, the republic could still count on a powerful navy.

For a comprehensive list of the warships of this navy, see the article Dutch Navy

Trade By 1715, the Dutch merchant fleet was still the largest in the world. For its part, the Dutch East India Company was the largest and most active charter company in international trade. The state guaranteed a monopoly to this company for all trade with the East Indies. However, the Dutch East India Company was unable to maintain a monopoly on trade with the Western Coasts of Africa and with America.

As soon as 1680, some 200 vessels and 14,000 sailors were involved in whale hunting and in the production of whale oil. An industry mainly centred around their establishments of the Spitsbergen Island.

Like most colonial power, the Dutch Republic had imposed a monopoly of trade to its colonies. Thus:

  • all exportations of coffee from Surinam could be done exclusively to the Dutch Republic;
  • all exportations of spices from the Moluccas could be done exclusively to the Dutch Republic;
  • all importations in the colonies had to come from the Dutch Republic and local manufacturing severely limited.

In Europe, thanks to its domination of the Moluccas, the Dutch East India Company was the main reseller of spices (mainly nutmeg, mace, cloves). It had even restricted certain cultures to specific islands. Thus, nutmeg was produced exclusively in the Banda Islands; cloves, in Ambon Island; etc.

Furthermore, the Dutch East India Company obtained

  • wax, tortoiseshell, sandalwood, sago and rice from Celebes Island
  • sugar, rice, cardamom, sulfur, indigo, arrack and rhum from Java
  • cinnamon from Ceylon
  • saltpetre, opium, dyeing, silk and cotton cloth from the Coast of Coromandel and from Bengal
  • pepper, cardamom, steel and wood from the Coast of Malabar.

Dutch merchants

  • bought tea, silk, china and rhubarb in Canton (Guangzhou) in China in exchange for silver of for spice
  • sold silk, cotton, and materia medica from China and India, but also sugar, deer pelts and shark skin and bought copper, silver, camphor, porcelain, lacquer ware and rice in the artificial island of Dejima in the Bay of Nagasaki in Japan
  • sold slaves in America, through smuggling
  • sold woollen cloth, pepper, cinnamon, indigo and saltpetre, pearls, copper and steel in Smyrna (Turkey) where they bought cotton, silk, sponges, anise, figs, dates and currants

The Dutch also imported timber, pitch, fish oil, coarse canvas, hemp and suet from Russia. They also acted as intermediary in the commerce of cereals exported from Poland to various European countries.

The Dutch exported wine, brandy, salt, cheese, dyeing, fruits, tobacco and spices to Scandinavia and imported Swedish copper.


Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 1, Vienna 1876, pp. 101-102

Anon.: The History of Modern Europe, Part II, London: 1784, pp. 300-301

McEvedy, Colin: The Penguin Atlas of Modern History (to 1815), Harmondsorth: Penguin Books, 1972, pp. 54-61

Scherer, Herman: Histoire du commerce de toutes les nations depuis les temps ancies jusqu'à nos jours, Vol. 2 – Temps Modernes; Paris: Capelle, 1857, pp. 72-73, 120, 256-332