Front Page Titles (by Subject) 80.: Holland - Judgments on History and Historians
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80.: Holland - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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(I) The northern provinces consisted of Holland, Zeeland, West Friesland, Utrecht, Overyssel, Groningen, Gelderland, also of the Lands General, a large section of Northern Brabant, and sections of Flanders. These were always treated as conquered territory, were a sort of common prefecture comparable to the Swiss subject lands. Up to the sixteenth century these regions were little noticed; after their fight against Spanish rule—detachment from Spain and Calvinism went hand in hand—their fame was great. Here was a new nation, a new culture, a new world power; in battle it always seemed to gain new strength. On its success visibly depended the whole fate of Western Europe.
For two decades this entire development hinged on William of Orange; without him neither the rise nor its continuation would be conceivable. Spain itself acknowledged this through the high price on his head. When he was finally murdered, his people had advanced so far and England was so dependent on their salvation that the defense continued most vigorously, albeit amid great new perils, until the fate of the Armada gave the Dutch breathing space.
They were not popular on the outside, having the reputation of being overconfident and harboring unkind feelings toward the Germans in particular (in 1582 people thought they had poisoned the herring). Charles V had practically detached the Burgundian circle from the German empire.
Spain kept regarding them as people committing high treason and deserving of extermination, against whom any methods were permissible. However, the campaigns of Maurice of Orange liberated the northern provinces from the Spanish rule.
Of the powers which had freed themselves from Philip II’s grasp, France had already made peace in 1598; England had desired it for a long time and made it in 1604; Holland alone continued to fight for the time being, in even greater danger since Spain’s hands were otherwise free, but actually protected by Henry IV. And yet the war had its advantages along with great sacrifices.
Little Holland, which was constantly fighting with the sea, had what may have been the strongest “will to live” of all times.
(II) On the federal constitution of the Netherlands. It is the epitome of nothing but practical usage which lives on because it is really alive and because people hesitate to replace it with uniform freedom and universal permissiveness whereby the real inner strength might be damaged.