The Invention of the Netherlands RADIO BBC Radio 4 Wednesday 23 May In the 17th century, the Netherlands rose to become the world’s foremost economic and maritime superpower, controlling territory in Asia, Africa and the Americas. The story of how this transformation occurred forms the basis of the latest series in the Invention strand, presented by Misha Glenny.
It’s a tale that encompasses Britain and the way that ideas from the Netherlands – notably around trade and the administration of empire – were imported to England with the invasion of William of Orange in 1688.
As the series also outlines, it was an empire that didn’t last long, partly due to the Netherlands’ population being so small. But if the country’s subsequent history has been less about world leadership, it’s been no less fascinating.
The second episode, for example, finds Glenny looking at how the feuding of different cities scuppered efforts to build a unified kingdom of the Netherlands after Waterloo; while the final show looks at the key role the region played in the formation of the EU.
The Embarkation of William III, Prince of Orange, at Helvoetsluis – painted by an unknown Dutch artist – was purchased for Hampton Court Palace in 1846