New Netherland (Vandverse)

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New Netherland
Nieuw Nederland
Colony (Dutch Republic)
1568–17th Century
New Netherland map published by Nicolaes Visscher II (1649–1702)
Capital New Amsterdam
Languages Dutch
Religion Dutch Reformed

Mennonite, Catholic

Political structure Colony
 •  Established 1568
 •  Disestablished 17th Century
Currency Dutch rijksdaalder, leeuwendaalder

New Netherland (Dutch: Nieuw Nederland; Latin: Nova Belgica or Novum Belgium) was a colony of the Dutch Republic that was located on the east coast of North America, and was founded in the late sixteenth century. The claimed territories extended from the Delmarva Peninsula to southwestern Cape Cod, while the more limited settled areas are part of OTL New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The colony has its origins in small scale trade efforts launched by the individual components of the Dutch Republic, such as the County of Holland, in the wake of the successful Anabaptist confederacy formed in the Americas by Frisia. After the outbreak of the Dutch Revolt in the mid sixteenth century, moderate Spanish leaders considered deportation of Dutch religious dissenters to the Americas a means to prevent further rebellion. In 1568 two Catholic (but Protestant sympathetic) nobles would be exiled by the king's representative, the Duke of Alba, leading to the formal beginning of the colony.

History[edit | edit source]

Early Colonization[edit | edit source]

Beginning in 1539 the Anabaptists of Frisia had begun a migration to the Americas, settling several settlements in OTL Connecticut. Word of this reached the Dutch, who followed this development closely. The highly mercantile cities of the Lowlands considered trade with the new colony and the natives of the region a profitable opportunity, and sponsored trade expeditions in search of fur pelts and other highly sought after goods. Additionally, many Dutch settlers were attracted to the colonies for various reasons, whether economic or in search of religious freedom. This was only amplified after the outbreak of Protestantism in the Lowlands, and the harsh response by the Spanish king, Philip II.

In 1564 the nobility of the Netherlands urged Philip to create realistic measures in response to the reformation, hoping to prevent the outbreak of widespread violence, but the Spanish demanded harsh action against the reformers. The following year, notable acts of iconoclasm occurred, such as the monastery church at Steenvoorde being sacked by a religious mob. Across the Netherlands other groups followed, leading to the period of Beeldenstorm; a riotous iconoclastic movement by Calvinists to desecrate and destroy church art and ornamentation. The nobility became divided on this issue, as nobles such as William of Orange opposed it, while others such as Henry of Brederode supported it. The Spanish king responded by sending an army of 10,000 soldiers, led by Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba, to march into Brussels.

Alba took harsh measures and rapidly established a special court (Raad van Beroerten or Council of Troubles) to judge anyone who opposed the King. Alba considered himself the direct representative of Philip in the Netherlands and frequently bypassed Margaret of Parma, the king's half-sister who had been appointed governor of the Netherlands, and made use of her to lure back some of the fugitive nobles, notably the counts of Egmont and Horne, causing her to resign office in September 1567. In response to his takeover of government, the number of people choosing to flee to the Americas increased, with most traveling to the Frisian colonies. Others chose to settle an independent colony to the west, known as Guldenhaven (OTL Bridgeport). Having received word that Alba suspected them of treason, the counts of Egmont and Horne devised a last ditch effort hoping to help shield the reformers, as well as themselves. They presented Alba with a scheme to create penal colony for religious dissenters. Alba accepted and exiled both men, while others who were openly non-Catholic, such as Hendrick van Brederode, he had executed. Alba's serious of exiles and executions only further stoked the fire of rebellion in the Netherlands, but also led to thousands fleeing.

The Egmont-Horne expedition was financed by both of the nobles, as well as by numerous sympathetic merchants or companies. One such merchant, Balthazar de Moucheron, was appointed a captain and tasked with scouting the region. In early 1568 Egmont and Horne, along with 200 Dutch Calvinists, and 200 Spanish soldiers, arrived in Vrijpoort on OTL Long Island. Alba's soldiers were tasked with ensuring that the rebellious counts did not break their vows, but once in the Americas these soldiers acted largely rebelliously as well, with many deserting to flee home or to safer settlements, and those that remained acting rambunctiously. Tensions also persisted between the Catholic soldiers and the Protestant settlers, with the latter eventually strong-arming the soldiers from power.

The colony initially struggled to survive, especially after a Spanish attack against local natives increased hostility with their neighbors on the island. In 1570 Philip de Montmorency, Count of Horn, died of disease, while Egmont was wounded in an battle later that year. After the 1572 capture of Brill by the Sea Beggars under William II de La Marck, rebellion in the Lowlands broke out once more, and a small Dutch contingent was sent to the colony to ensure their loyalty. The port became a haven for privateers of Dutch and English origin, who constantly harassed Spanish shipping in the Atlantic. In 1574 a Spanish governor was dispatched to restore order in Vrijpoort, leading to the expelling of the pirates. However, as Spain declared bankruptcy the following year, the Spanish were once again ousted, and this time did not make an attempt to retake the colony.

The English later resumed their support for the Dutch rebels in the 1580s, and by 1585 a small English minority had developed in Vrijpoort. In 1585 an English-born explorer named Henry Hudson would be hired by the Dutch in search of a Northwest Passage. That year he would explore the waters off the east coast of North America aboard the Flyboat Halve Maen, first making landfall at Newfoundland and then at OTL Cape Cod. Traveling along the shore south, he discovered OTL Delaware Bay and began to sail upriver looking for the passage. This effort was foiled by sandy shoals, and the Halve Maen continued north. After passing Sandy Hook, Hudson and his crew entered the Narrows into the Upper New York Bay, which had be previously scouted in 1524 by explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano.

As the number of colonists to Long Island and Connecticut increased, Egmont and other leaders became interested in the lands to the west, and supported Hudson's expedition. Upon returning to the Netherlands, Hudson reported that he had found a fertile land and an amicable people willing to engage his crew in small-scale bartering of furs, trinkets, clothes, and small manufactured goods. This stimulated interest in exploiting this new trade resource, and it was the catalyst for Dutch merchant-traders to fund more expeditions. Initial expeditions were delayed by the ongoing war in the Lowlands, but following the truce with the Spanish in 1609, expeditions to the region resumed in earnest. In the meantime, Egmont fell out of favor and was replaced by a Calvinist and veteran commander of the war with Spain, Gerrit de Jong. Distracted by the war effort, the Dutch declared de Jong governor of all territory between the Frisian colonies, whose border had been recently negotiated upon, south to the English claim in OTL Virginia.

In 1590 the Dutch East India Company would be founded, which would be a major step toward colonization of the Dutch Americas. Nobles primarily from Amsterdam took advantage of the decline of Antwerp and other southern ports in the war, and dominated trade to Vrijpoort. During this time the first settlements were created in OTL New Jersey, although several settlements would be destroyed or abandoned. In 1591 Arnout Vogels would be hired to follow up Hudson's findings, and he would lead Dutch colonists to Noten Eylandt (Governors Island) and Staaten Eylandt. During the war the Admiralty of Amsterdam would also commission Jan Cornelisz Mey and Symon Willemsz Cat to the region, making one of the first major successful trade missions. In 1594 Cornelis Rijser built Fort Nassau on Castle Island in the area of Albany up Hudson's river. The fort was to defend river traffic against interlopers and to conduct fur trading operations with the natives. The location of the fort proved to be impractical, however, due to repeated flooding of the island in the summers, and it was abandoned in 1600. In 1610 Adrian Block would create the region's most famous map, which would be used for all subsequent expeditions at the time.