The Netherlands is a relatively recent creation. This delta region was one of Europe's centres of power for a long time without being a unified entity, even in the eyes of those who lived there. There was no Dutch state and no Dutch nation; the Low Countries were a watery region which gradually became less watery and was ruled, in succession, by the kingdom of Germany, the dukedom of Burgundy and the kingdom of Spain. The demarcation of the area that we use - roughly speaking, the borders of what later became the Netherlands - is therefore actually an artificial one.
How did the Dutch state and nation come about? Who are the Dutch? Where did they come from? What makes them Dutch in a world that is becoming smaller every day and in a Europe that is drawing ever closer?
In just over a hundred pages, the historians Herman Beliën and Monique van Hoogstraten outline a history of the Netherlands in which the origins and development of the Dutch state and nation are central. Of course the most important figures and events also have their place in this brief and lucid story of the Netherlands and its people.
Herman Beliën was a historian; part of the faculty for new and theoretical history at the University of Amsterdam. Monique van Hoogstraten is a historian and publicist, currently working as a correspondent for the nos in Israel and the Palestinian regions.