During the Eighty Years' War, not only the interests of the Low Countries were at stake, but also the values and norms throughout Europe. Therefore, it is a good thing that this month an English translation will be published of Revolt in the Netherlands: The Eighty Years' War, 1568-1648. Anton van der Lem, curator of rare books at the Leiden University Library, has beautifully updated his classic.
In 1568 the Seventeen Provinces in the Netherlands rebelled against the colonial rule of the king of Spain. A confederation of duchies, counties and lordships, they demanded the right of self-determination, the freedom of conscience and religion, and the right to be represented in government. Their long struggle for liberty and the subsequent rise of the Dutch Republic was a decisive episode in world history and an important step on the path to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Dutch Revolt remains one of the most under researched of all the great political upheavals of early modern Europe. It also is one of the most complicated too. Its narrative is no easy storyline to recount. Nor is its meaning clear. Everyone looking for a comprehensive introduction and overview of the Revolt would do well to consult Anton van der Lem’s new book, a reworking and expansion of an earlier 1995 version. This is a classic narrative summary of the troubles, from the first stirrings of aristocratic dissent in the mid-sixteenth century to the peace of 1648.
Anton van der Lem recounts in vivid detail the roles of the key protagonists, the decisive battles and the war’s major turning points, from the Spanish governor’s Council Of Blood to the Twelve Years Truce, while all the time unraveling the shifting political, religious and military alliances that would entangle the foreign powers of France, Italy and England.
The book gives an overview that also canvasses historiography and contains a very helpful, updated bibliography, maps, and a chronology of main events as appendices.
Revolt in the Netherlands: The Eighty Years' War, 1568-1648 is published by Reaktion Books Ltd in London.