History by Eden Design
On 16 October 2006 the Committee
for the Development of the Dutch Canon presented its report, a wall chart
and the website entoen.nu
, both designed by Eden Design Amsterdam, to Maria van der Hoeven, the
Dutch Minister of Education, Culture & Science.
Eye-catcher is the chart with 50 'windows'. Behind it each time a short
story that illustrates the significance of the relevant component of the
Via the so-called
Sub-topics the canon window opens out as it were, to offer insight into
the possibilities for expansion in the education sector.
Main lines of the canon
The fourteen “main
lines of the canon” are meant to serve as background texts to the
fifty windows. They are the red threads running through the history of
the Netherlands that indicate the cross-links between the separate windows,
thereby helping to create cohesion in the topics, objects, persons and
themes featured on the chart.
1. The Low Countries
by the sea
The modern-day Netherlands was largely “created” by human
hands: dyked-in, reclaimed and developed. Adapting to and struggling against
water is a red thread in the history of this region.
The Beemster polder; The great flood
2. On the periphery
The region that is today known as the Netherlands, is a river delta on
the periphery of the European continent. This geographic position has
determined the history of the region throughout the centuries. In 4500
BC, an agrarian society began to develop here and from the beginning of
the Christian era the region formed one of the frontiers of the Roman
Empire. In later centuries, the region became part of other large empires.
It was only from about 1590 that the first contours of the modern-day
Netherlands began to be mapped. However, the borders would often be changed
The Roman Limes; Charlemagne; Charles V
3. A converted country
Little is known about the religion of the earliest inhabitants of the
region, but thanks to Tacitus (among others) we do know something about
the gods that the people here honoured. The people of the low countries
converted to Christianity from about 600-700 AD. Monasteries became centres
of culture. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, wars were waged
in the name of the true doctrine. Today, Christianity still remains an
important feature of Dutch culture.
Megalithic tombs; The Roman Limes; Willibrord; Erasmus; The Beeldenstorm;
4. A Dutch language
The earliest extant words written in Dutch date from circa 1100. They
were written by a Flemish monk. Printed material in the “mother
tongue” only became available in the sixteenth century. Many people
continued to speak and write in Latin (scientists) and in French (the
elite). Regions had their own dialects. And yet the Netherlands has a
long history of literature in its own language. The borders of language
do not run parallel to political borders.
Hebban olla vogala; The printing press; The Statenbijbel; Max Havelaar;
Annie M.G. Schmidt
5. An urbanised country
and a trading hub at the mouth of the Rhine, Schelde and Maas rivers
From circa 1100, urbanisation began to take place in the region and trading
centres were established. The centre of gravity initially lay in the south
(Flanders and Brabant), but by circa 1500 the north (province of Holland)
was a strong centre of trade. From circa 1600, the provinces of Holland
and Zeeland were important hubs for trade in Europe. The modern-day Netherlands
continues to fulfil this function.
The Hanseatic League; The canal ring; The port of Rotterdam
6. The Republic of
the Seven United Netherlands: founded on rebellion
Towns, with their citizens, have different interests than the nobility.
The first signs of a clash of these interests could be seen early. In
the late Middle Ages, the Burgundian rulers tried to bring the Low Countries
under one administration, but this policy met with resistance from both
town-dwellers and the nobility. In the sixteenth century, this resistance
blended with the call for Reformation. War broke out and the nobility
became “gueux’. William of Orange rose to become the leader
of the Rebellion and for this reason is known as the “ father of
the fatherland”. The unique political structure known as the “
Republic” developed after his violent death in 1584. Features of
the Republic: the administrative power of regents; weak central authority;
Floris V; Charles V; The Beeldenstorm; William of Orange; The Republic;
Spinoza; The canal ring
7. The blossoming
of the Golden Age
The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was a superpower in Europe
in the seventeenth century: economically, politically and culturally.
The period was short but intense. Immigrants (Jews, Flemings, Huguenots)
played an important role in this blossoming.
In the cultural domain, the scope and quality of seventeenth-century painting
was particularly remarkable. Economically, it was shipping, the staple
market, the highly-developed land cultivation and industry. Politically,
the Republic had a unique form of government on a continent where monarchies
were the rule. The disaster year of 1672 signalled the beginning of the
end for this period of previously unknown blossoming. Thereafter, the
Republic was a humble player on the European stage, dependent on the European
powers for room to manoeuvre. In economic and cultural terms, the Republic
was also less of a European player from the end of the seventeenth century.
Rembrandt; Michiel de Ruyter; Spinoza; Country mansions
8. Business sense
and colonial power
Dutch ships took to the seas from about 1600. Europe was the world’s
centre of trade, but business was conducted in Asia, Africa and America
as well. Colonies were established in Asia and America. The Dutch also
traded in slaves on all three continents. In the nineteenth century, the
centralisation of the Dutch administration of the colonies led to lengthy
wars. To this day, the Netherlands still maintains strong ties with Indonesia,
Surinam and the Antilles.
The VOC; Slavery; Max Havelaar; Indonesia; Surinam and the Antilles; Diversity
in the Netherlands
9. Nation-state, constitutional
In the second half of the eighteenth century, due to the influence of
the Enlightenment, among other things, the need arose among a broad range
of people to acquire and disseminate knowledge. New ideas about the organisation
of the state and society were discussed. The patriot movement’s
attempts to limit the power of the Stadholders (governors) and to give
the people a greater voice were initially unsuccessful.
The modern-day Dutch state was formed between 1795 and 1848. The foundations
of the nation-state were laid in the French period (1795-1813). After
the defeat of Napoleon, William I, the son of the last Stadholder (governor)
became king of a united kingdom. This “restoration” of the
Netherlands did not last long, because Brussels joined in the rebellions
of the year 1830. In 1848, the foundations for a constitutional monarchy
(as the Netherlands still is today) were laid with the drafting of the
Constitution by Thorbecke. The kingdom became minor power that cherishes
Country mansions; Eise Eisinga; The patriots; Napoleon Bonaparte; King
William I; The Constitution
10. The rise of modern
From circa 1870, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht began to
grow into cities. Industrialisation reached the region relatively late.
The laying of the first railways began somewhat earlier. Distances became
smaller: the integration of the Netherlands had begun.
The call for equality under the law became stronger. “Common”
citizens demanded their say in society and politics. This resulted in
universal suffrage being granted to men and women in 1917 and 1919 respectively.
“Modern” artists of the time no longer regarded themselves
as the keepers of established artistic traditions and reveal themselves
as artistic innovators. In literature this goal is reflected in the “Movement
of the Eighties”, in painting, in Impressionism and Post-impressionism
and in the applied art of the Art Nouveau and Modernism movements.
The first railway; Opposition to child labour; Vincent van Gogh; Aletta
Jacobs; The First World War; De Stijl
11. The Netherlands
in a time of world wars: 1914-1945
As a small country, the Netherlands tried to avoid involvement in large
conflicts in Europe. It succeeded during World War I, but at its end,
the Netherlands was dragged into a world crisis. The blackest moments
of the German occupation were the bombing of Rotterdam, the deportation
and murder of the Jewish population and the winter of starvation. In Asia,
the war began in 1942, but after the liberation of 1945 a new war began
that lasted until 1949. World War II is referred to as “ the past
that refuses to become history”.
The First World War; De Stijl; The crisis years; World War II; Anne Frank;
12. The welfare state,
democratisation and secularisation
Reconstruction began immediately after the end of World War II. After
those years of deprivation and hard work, the 1950s heralded in a period
of great change in the lifestyle of the Dutch population. The welfare
state and an affluent society ensured a radical rise in the standard of
living. In addition, people were breaking their ties with their church,
socio-political group and family. This change was marked in particular
by less hierarchical relationships between parents and children, the rise
of new male and female role patterns and increasingly open views on sexuality.
In terms of politics, this was combined with a strong movement towards
democratisation: the authority of established, elite groups was called
Willem Drees; The great flood; Television; The port of Rotterdam; Annie
M.G. Schmidt; The natural gas deposit
13. The diversification
of the Netherlands
After World War II, the Netherlands became embroiled in a colonial war
with the Indonesian independence movement. During and after this war,
many Dutch, Indo-Europeans, and Moluccans left for the Netherlands. Other
immigration waves followed: in the 1960s, workers from Mediterranean countries
arrived, at the time of the decolonisation of Surinam (1975) people arrived
from the former colony and later from the Netherlands Antilles, as well
as numerous other regions. Dutch society changed with this increasing
immigration. Inevitably, tensions arose between the established inhabitants
and the new arrivals.
Indonesia; Surinam and the Antilles; Diversity in the Netherlands
14. The Netherlands
After World War II made way for the Cold War, the Netherlands became an
advocate of Atlantic and European cooperation. Once the Cold War had ended,
European cooperation rapidly gained momentum. In this phase, the Netherlands
was also active in UN peacekeeping missions.