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The Netherlands is a country in Western Europe.


The people speak Dutch and the country is Catholic with a Dutch Reformed minority.


Under Hapsburg Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and King of Spain, the region was part of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands, which also included most of present-day Belgium, Luxembourg, and some land of France and Germany. During the Protestant Reformation, the northern parts of the Netherlands experienced a small but significant rise in Calvinism.

The Eighty Years' War erupted in 1572, with Dutch unhappy with unfair Habsburg taxation. In 1588, some of the northern provinces signed the Act of Abjuration, which was their declaration of independence. The movement was backed by the British and the French. By 1652, the war had ended, and the Spanish lost the northern part of the Low Countries. However, the Hapsburgs kept a relatively large area in the south.

Despite victory, the Dutch faced economic hardship. They were on low morale throughout the war, and face destruction of their cities. In addition, Lutheran king Maurice of Nassau, son of William the Silent who was assassinated in 1580, holding absolute power, firmly put down rebellions by Catholics. The United Provinces faced decline throughout the 17th century. However, they managed to capture the island of Goeree from the Portuguese, and a small coast known as Mauritius.

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