Lists of Dutch inventions and discoveries

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History of the Netherlands
Leo Belgicus
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The Netherlands had a considerable part in the making of modern society.[1][2][3] The Netherlands[4] and its people have made numerous seminal contributions to the world's civilization,[5][6][7][8][9] especially in art,[10][11][12][13][14] science,[15][16][17][18] technology and engineering,[19][20][21] economics and finance,[22][23][24][25][26] cartography and geography,[27][28] exploration and navigation,[29][30] law and jurisprudence,[31] thought and philosophy,[32][33][34][35] medicine,[36] and agriculture. Dutch-speaking people, in spite of their relatively small number, have a significant history of invention, innovation, discovery and exploration. The following list is composed of objects, (largely) unknown lands, breakthrough ideas/concepts, principles, phenomena, processes, methods, techniques, styles etc., that were discovered or invented (or pioneered) by people from the Netherlands and Dutch-speaking people from the former Southern Netherlands (Zuid-Nederlanders in Dutch). Until the fall of Antwerp (1585), the Dutch and Flemish were generally seen as one people.[37]


See also[edit]


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  1. ^ Motley, John Lothrop (1855). "The Rise of the Dutch Republic", Volume I, Preface. "The rise of the Dutch Republic must ever be regarded as one of the leading events of modern times. Without the birth of this great commonwealth, the various historical phenomena of the sixteenth and following centuries must have either not existed, or have presented themselves under essential modifications."
  2. ^ Rybczynski, Witold (1987). Home: A Short History of an Idea. According to Witold Rybczynski’s Home: A Short History of an Idea, private spaces in households are a Dutch seventeenth-century invention, despite their commonplace nature today. He has argued that home as we now know it came from the Dutch canal house of the seventeenth century. That, he said, was the first time that people identified living quarters as being precisely the residence of a man, a woman and their children. "The feminization of the home in seventeenth century Holland was one of the most important events in the evolution of the domestic interior." This evolution took place in part due to Dutch law being "explicit on contractual arrangements and on the civil rights of servants". And, "for the first time, the person who was in intimate contact with housework was also in a position to influence the arrangement and disposition of the house."
    Rybczynski (2007) discusses why we live in houses in the first place: "To understand why we live in houses, it is necessary to go back several hundred years to Europe. Rural people have always lived in houses, but the typical medieval town dwelling, which combined living space and workplace, was occupied by a mixture of extended families, servants, and employees. This changed in seventeenth-century Holland. The Netherlands was Europe’s first republic, and the world’s first middle-class nation. Prosperity allowed extensive home ownership, republicanism discouraged the widespread use of servants, a love of children promoted the nuclear family, and Calvinism encouraged thrift and other domestic virtues. These circumstances, coupled with a particular affection for the private family home, brought about a cultural revolution... The idea of urban houses spread to the British Isles thanks to England's strong commercial and cultural links with the Netherlands."
  3. ^ Tabor, Philip (2005). "Striking Home: The Telematic Assault on Identity". Published in Jonathan Hill, editor, Occupying Architecture: Between the Architect and the User. Philip Tabor states the contribution of 17th century Dutch houses as the foundation of houses today: "As far as the idea of the home is concerned, the home of the home is the Netherlands. This idea's crystallization might be dated to the first three-quarters of the seventeenth century, when the Dutch Netherlands amassed the unprecedented and unrivalled accumulation of capital, and emptied their purses into domestic space."
    According to Jonathan Hill (Immaterial Architecture, 2006), compared to the large scaled houses in England and the Renaissance, the 17th Century Dutch house was smaller, and was only inhabited by up to four to five members. This was due to their embracing "self-reliance", in contrast to the dependence on servants, and a design for a lifestyle centered on the family. It was important for the Dutch to separate work from domesticity, as the home became an escape and a place of comfort. This way of living and the home has been noted as highly similar to the contemporary family and their dwellings. House layouts also incorporated the idea of the corridor as well as the importance of function and privacy. By the end of the 17th Century, the house layout was soon transformed to become employment-free, enforcing these ideas for the future. This came in favour for the industrial revolution, gaining large-scale factory production and workers. The house layout of the Dutch and its functions are still relevant today.
  4. ^ including the Dutch-speaking Southern Netherlands prior to 1585
  5. ^ Taylor, Peter J. (2002). Dutch Hegemony and Contemporary Globalization. "The Dutch developed a social formula, which we have come to call modern capitalism, that proved to be transferable and ultimately deadly to all other social formulations."
  6. ^ Dunthorne, Hugh (2004). The Dutch Republic: That mother nation of liberty, in The Enlightenment World, M. Fitzpatrick, P. Jones, C. Knellwolf and I. McCalman eds. London: Routledge, p. 87–103
  7. ^ Kuznicki, Jason (2008). "Dutch Republic". In Hamowy, Ronald (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 130–31. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n83. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024. Although today we can easily find much to criticize about the Dutch Republic, it remains a crucial early experiment in toleration, limited government, and commercial capitalism... Dutch shipping, banking, commerce, and credit raised living standards for the rich and the poor alike and for the first time created that characteristically modern social phenomenon, a middle class... Libertarians value the Dutch Republic as a historical phenomenon not because it represented any sort of perfection, but above all because it demonstrated to several generations of intellectuals the practicality of allowing citizens greater liberties than were customarily accorded them, which in turn contributed to producing what we now know as classical liberalism.
  8. ^ Raico, Ralph (23 August 2010). "The Rise, Fall, and Renaissance of Classical Liberalism". Mises Daily. Retrieved 30 August 2014. As the modern age began, rulers started to shake free of age-old customary constraints on their power. Royal absolutism became the main tendency of the time. The kings of Europe raised a novel claim: they declared that they were appointed by God to be the fountainhead of all life and activity in society. Accordingly, they sought to direct religion, culture, politics, and, especially, the economic life of the people. To support their burgeoning bureaucracies and constant wars, the rulers required ever-increasing quantities of taxes, which they tried to squeeze out of their subjects in ways that were contrary to precedent and custom.
    The first people to revolt against this system were the Dutch. After a struggle that lasted for decades, they won their independence from Spain and proceeded to set up a unique polity. The United Provinces, as the radically decentralized state was called, had no king and little power at the federal level. Making money was the passion of these busy manufacturers and traders; they had no time for hunting heretics or suppressing new ideas. Thus de facto religious toleration and a wide-ranging freedom of the press came to prevail. Devoted to industry and trade, the Dutch established a legal system based solidly on the rule of law and the sanctity of property and contract. Taxes were low, and everyone worked. The Dutch "economic miracle" was the wonder of the age. Thoughtful observers throughout Europe noted the Dutch success with great interest.
  9. ^ Shorto, Russell. "Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City (overview)". Retrieved 30 August 2014. Liberalism has many meanings, but in its classical sense it is a philosophy based on individual freedom. History has long taught that our modern sensibility comes from the eighteenth century Enlightenment. In recent decades, historians have seen the Dutch Enlightenment of the seventeenth century as the root of the wider Enlightenment.
  10. ^ Molyneux, John (14 February 2004). "Rembrandt and revolution: Revolt that shaped a new kind of art". Socialist Worker. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  11. ^ The Dutch Republic was the birthplace of the first modern art market, successfully combining art and commerce together as we would recognise it today. Until the 17th century, commissioning works of art was largely the preserve of the church, monarchs and aristocrats. The emergence of a powerful and wealthy middle class in Holland, though, produced a radical change in patronage as the new Dutch bourgeoisie bought art. For the first time, the direction of art was shaped by relatively broadly-based demand rather than religious dogma or royal whim, and the result was the birth of a large-scale open (free) art market which today's dealers and collectors would find familiar.
  12. ^ Jaffé, H. L. C. (1986). De Stijl 1917–1931: The Dutch Contribution to Modern Art
  13. ^ Muller, Sheila D. (1997). Dutch Art: An Encyclopedia
  14. ^ Graham-Dixon, Andrew (4 April 2013). "Interview: Andrew Graham-Dixon (Andrew Graham-Dixon talks about his new series The High Art of the Low Countries)". BBC Arts & Culture. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  15. ^ Struik, Dirk J. (1981). The Land of Stevin and Huygens: A Sketch of Science and Technology in the Dutch Republic during the Golden Century (Studies in the History of Modern Science)
  16. ^ Porter, Roy; Teich, Mikulas (1992). The Scientific Revolution in National Context
  17. ^ Van Berkel, Klaas; Van Helden, Albert; Palm, Lodewijk (1998). A History of Science in the Netherlands: Survey, Themes and Reference
  18. ^ Jorink, Eric (2010). Reading the Book of Nature in the Dutch Golden Age, 1575–1715
  19. ^ Haven, Kendall (2005). 100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time
  20. ^ Davids, Karel (2008). The Rise and Decline of Dutch Technological Leadership. Technology, Economy and Culture in the Netherlands, 1350–1800 (2 vols)
  21. ^ Curley, Robert (2009). The Britannica Guide to Inventions That Changed the Modern World
  22. ^ During their Golden Age, the Dutch were responsible for three major institutional innovations in economic and financial history. The first major innovation was the foundation of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), the world's first publicly traded company, in 1602. As the first listed company (the first company to be ever listed on an official stock exchange), the VOC was the first company to actually issue stock and bonds to the general public. Considered by many experts to be the world's first truly (modern) multinational corporation, the VOC was also the first permanently organized limited-liability joint-stock company, with a permanent capital base. The Dutch merchants were the pioneers in laying the basis for modern corporate governance. The VOC is often considered as the precursor of modern corporations, if not the first truly modern corporation. It was the VOC that invented the idea of investing in the company rather than in a specific venture governed by the company. With its pioneering features such as corporate identity (first globally-recognized corporate logo), entrepreneurial spirit, legal personhood, transnational (multinational) operational structure, high stable profitability, permanent capital (fixed capital stock), freely transferable shares and tradable securities, separation of ownership and management, and limited liability for both shareholders and managers, the VOC is generally considered a major institutional breakthrough and the model for the large-scale business enterprises that now dominate the global economy.
    The second major innovation was the creation of the world's first fully functioning financial market, with the birth of a fully fledged capital market. The Dutch were also the first to effectively use a fully-fledged capital market (including the bond market and the stock market) to finance companies (such as the VOC and the WIC). It was in seventeenth-century Amsterdam that the global securities market began to take on its modern form. In 1602 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) established an exchange in Amsterdam where VOC stock and bonds could be traded in a secondary market. The VOC undertook the world's first recorded IPO in the same year. The Amsterdam Stock Exchange (Amsterdamsche Beurs in Dutch) was also the world's first fully-fledged stock exchange. While the Italian city-states produced the first transferable government bonds, they didn't develop the other ingredient necessary to produce a fully fledged capital market: corporate shareholders. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) became the first company to offer shares of stock. The dividend averaged around 18% of capital over the course of the company's 200-year existence. Dutch investors were the first to trade their shares at a regular stock exchange. The buying and selling of these shares of stock in the VOC became the basis of the first stock market. It was in the Dutch Republic that the early techniques of stock-market manipulation were developed. The Dutch pioneered stock futures, stock options, short selling, bear raids, debt-equity swaps, and other speculative instruments. Amsterdam businessman Joseph de la Vega's Confusion of Confusions (1688) was the earliest book about stock trading.
    The third major innovation was the establishment of the Bank of Amsterdam (Amsterdamsche Wisselbank in Dutch) in 1609, which led to the introduction of the concept of bank money. The Bank of Amsterdam was arguably the world's first central bank. The Wisselbank's innovations helped lay the foundations for the birth and development of the central banking system that now plays a vital role in the world's economy. It occupied a central position in the financial world of its day, providing an effective, efficient and trusted system for national and international payments, and introduced the first ever international reserve currency, the bank guilder. Lucien Gillard (2004) calls it the European guilder (le florin européen), and Adam Smith devotes many pages to explaining how the bank guilder works (Smith 1776: 446–55). The model of the Wisselbank as a state bank was adapted throughout Europe, including the Bank of Sweden (1668) and the Bank of England (1694).
  23. ^ De Vries, Jan; Woude, Ad van der (1997). The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1815
  24. ^ Gordon, John Steele (1999). The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power: 1653–2000. "The Dutch invented modern capitalism in the early seventeenth century. Although many of the basic concepts had first appeared in Italy during the Renaissance, the Dutch, especially the citizens of the city of Amsterdam, were the real innovators. They transformed banking, stock exchanges, credit, insurance, and limited-liability corporations into a coherent financial and commercial system."
  25. ^ Gordon, Scott (1999). Controlling the State: Constitutionalism from Ancient Athens to Today, p. 172. "In addition to its role in the history of constitutionalism, the republic was important in the early development of the essential features of modern capitalism: private property, production for sale in general markets, and the dominance of the profit motive in the behavior of producers and traders."
  26. ^ Sayle, Murray (5 April 2001). "Japan goes Dutch". London Riview of Books, Vol. 23 No. 7. Retrieved 18 May 2014. While Britain’s was the first economy to use fossil energy to produce goods for market, the most characteristic institutions of capitalism were not invented in Britain, but in the Low Countries. The first miracle economy was that of the Dutch Republic (1588–1795), and it, too, hit a mysterious dead end. All economic success contains the seeds of stagnation, it seems; the greater the boom, the harder it is to change course when it ends.
  27. ^ Schilder, Gunther (1985). The Netherland Nautical Cartography from 1550 to 1650
  28. ^ Woodward, David, ed (1987). Art and Cartography: Six Historical Essays, p. 147–74
  29. ^ Paine, Lincoln P. (2000). Ships of Discovery and Exploration
  30. ^ Day, Alan (2003). The A to Z of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia, p. xxxvii-xxxviii
  31. ^ The Dutch made significant contributions to the law of the sea, law of nations (public international law) and company law
  32. ^ Weber, Wolfgang (26 August 2002). "The end of consensus politics in the Netherlands (Part III: The historical roots of consensus politics)". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  33. ^ Russell, Bertrand (1945). A History of Western Philosophy
  34. ^ Van Bunge, Wiep (2001). From Stevin to Spinoza: an Essay on Philosophy in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic
  35. ^ Van Bunge, Wiep (2003). The Early Enlightenment in the Dutch Republic 1650–1750
  36. ^ "The triple helix in Dutch Life Sciences Health". Holland Trade. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  37. ^ Frisians, specifically West Frisians, are an ethnic group; present in the North of the Netherlands; mainly concentrating in the Province of Friesland. Culturally, modern Frisians and the (Northern) Dutch are rather similar; the main and generally most important difference being that Frisians speak West Frisian, one of the three sub-branches of the Frisian languages, alongside Dutch.
    West Frisians in the general do not feel or see themselves as part of a larger group of Frisians, and, according to a 1970 inquiry, identify themselves more with the Dutch than with East or North Frisians. Because of centuries of cohabitation and active participation in Dutch society, as well as being bilingual, the Frisians are not treated as a separate group in Dutch official statistics.

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