Dutch historians come up with 50 icons to represent 3,000 years of history

Historians in the News

Historians have come up with a checklist of 50 icons or windows to illustrate 3,000 years of Dutch history. Ranging from the megalithic tombs in Drenthe (hunebeds) to the euro, the aim of the Canon van Nederland is to outline what important elements in the development of the Netherlands could be taught at both a primary and secondary level.

The list takes the form of a flow chart through time and includes the first example of written Dutch, the Beemster polder and the Groningen natural gas fields, as well as events which shaped world history, such as the invention of printing and the two World Wars. At a time when the Dutch are trying to get to grips with their own identity, an understanding of Dutch history can help newcomers integrate into society, the commission which drew up the list said. But the list was in no way to be used to choose or create a national identity. That would be a ‘threatening, yes dangerous’ thought. ‘It is meant to help exchange ideas. It is for all the Dutch,’ said professor Frits van Oostrum who led the commission.

Megalithic tombs circa 3000 BC
Early farmers

The Roman Limes 47 A.D.-circa 400 A.D.
On the frontiers of the Roman world

Willibrord 658 A.D.-739 A.D.
The spread of Christianity

Charlemagne 742 A.D. – 814 A.D.
Emperor of the Land of the Setting Sun

Hebban olla vogala circa 1100
The Dutch language in writing

Floris V 1254-1296
A Dutch count and disgruntled nobles

The Hanseatic League 1356-circa 1450
Trading towns in the Low Countries

The printing press circa 1450
A revolution in reproduction

Erasmus 1466?-1536
An international humanist

Charles V 1500-1558
The Low Countries as an administrative unity

The “Beeldenstorm” (iconoclastic outbreak) 1566
Religious conflict

William of Orange 1533-1584
From rebel nobleman to “father of the country”

The Republic 1588-1795
A unique political phenomenon

The Dutch East India Company (VOC) 1602-1799
Overseas expansion

The Beemster Polder 1612
The Netherlands and water

The canal ring 1613-1662
Urban development in the seventeenth century

Hugo Grotius 1583-1645
Pioneer of modern international law

The Statenbijbel (authorised version of the Bible) 1637
The Book of Books

Rembrandt 1606?-1669
The great painters

Blaeu’s Atlas Major 1662
Mapping the world

Michiel de Ruyter 1607-1676
Heroes of the sea and the wide reach of the Republic

Spinoza 1632-1677
In search of truth

Slavery circa 1637-1863
Human trafficking and forced labour in the New World

Country mansions 17th and 18th centuries
Prosperous living

Eise Eisinga 1744-1828
The Enlightenment in the Netherlands

The patriots 1780-1795
Political conflict about modernising the Republic

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821
The French period

King William I 1772-1843
The kingdom of the Netherlands and Belgium

The first railway 1839

The Constitution 1848
Fundamental rules and principles of government

Max Havelaar 1860
Scandal in the East Indies

Opposition to child labour 19th century
Out of the workplace and back to school

Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890
The modern artist

Aletta Jacobs 1854-1929
The emancipation of women

The First World War 1914-1918
War and neutrality

De Stijl 1917-1931
Revolution in design

The crisis years 1929-1940
Society in the depression

World War II 1940-1945
Occupation and liberation

Anne Frank 1929-1945
The persecution of the Jews

Indonesia 1945-1949
A colony fights for freedom

Willem Drees 1886-1988
The welfare state

The great flood 1 February 1953
The danger of water

Television since 1948
The rise of mass media

The port of Rotterdam since circa 1880
Gateway to the world

Annie M.G. Schmidt 1911-1995
Going against the grain of a bourgeois country

Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles since 1945
Decolonisation in the West

Srebrenica 1995
The dilemmas of peacekeeping

Diversity in the Netherlands since 1945
The multicultural society

The natural gas deposit 1959-2030?
A finite treasure

Europe since 1945
The Dutch and Europeans

For further information see www.entoen.nu

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