B.C. - 1500
Julius Caesar entered the Netherlands in the first century BC, and found it inhabited by various Germanic tribes. The western part of the Netherlands became part of the Roman Empire. The Franks controlled the region between the 4th and 8th centuries, and it became part of Charlemagne's empire during the 8th and 9th centuries. The area later passed into the hands of Burgundy and the Austrian Hapsburgs, and finally, in the 16th century, it came under Spanish rule.
1500 – 1900
When Philip II of Spain suppressed political freedoms, and a growing Protestant movement arose in the Netherlands, a revolt led by William of Orange took place in 1568. Under the Union of Utrecht (1579), the seven northern provinces became the United Provinces of the Netherlands. War between the United Provinces and Spain continued into the 17th century, but in 1648, Spain finally recognized Dutch independence. By the end of the 17th century, Holland became a leading seafaring and trading power, with settlements and colonies around the world. In 1688, the English Parliament invited William of Orange, stadhoulder (a sort of governor), and his wife, Mary Stuart, to rule England as King William III and Queen Mary II. William then used the combined resources of England and the Netherlands to wage war on Louis XIV's France. In 1814, all the provinces of Holland and Belgium were merged into one kingdom, but in 1830 the southern provinces broke away to form the kingdom of Belgium. A liberal constitution was adopted by the Netherlands in 1848.
Dutch colonists ofted named their settlements abroad after people and towns in their native country:
- Brooklyn = the Dutch village Breukelen
- Coney Island = Konijn eiland
- Bronx = a Dutch farmer Jonas Bronck
- Wall Street = the Dutch river Waal
- Rhode Island = Rode eiland
- Staten Island = in honor of the the Dutch governing body Staten Generaal
- New Zealand = the Dutch province of Zeeland
- Tasmania = the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman.
1900 - 2000
The country remained neutral during World War I (1914-1918). In spite of its former neutrality, the Netherlands was occupied continuously from 1940 by Germany during WW II. As a result of this, Queen Wilhelmina moved to London and established a "government in exile". In May 1945, the Netherlands was liberated, and Wilhelmina returned her country. In 1948, she abdicated, and her daughter Juliana became queen until 1980, when her daughter Beatrix ascended the throne. Following WW II, the Netherlands grew rapidly, both politically and economically. It joined NATO and also the European Economic Community (later, the EU). In 1999 it adopted the Euro, the single European currency.