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Eighty years' war

The meaning of «eighty years' war»

The Eighty Years' War (Dutch: Tachtigjarige Oorlog; Spanish: Guerra de los Ochenta Años) or Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648)[4] was a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces of what are today the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg against Philip II of Spain, the sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands. After the initial stages, Philip II deployed his armies and regained control over most of the rebelling provinces. Under the leadership of the exiled William the Silent, the northern provinces continued their resistance. They eventually were able to oust the Habsburg armies, and in 1581 they established the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The war continued in other areas, although the heartland of the republic was no longer threatened. This included the origins of the Dutch colonial empire, which began with Dutch attacks on Portugal's overseas territories. At the time, this was conceived as carrying the war with the Spanish Empire overseas due to Portugal and Spain's being in a dynastic union.

The Dutch Republic was recognised by Spain and the major European powers in 1609 at the start of the Twelve Years' Truce. Hostilities broke out again around 1619, as part of the broader Thirty Years' War. An end was reached in 1648 with the Peace of Münster (a treaty part of the Peace of Westphalia), when the Dutch Republic was definitively recognised as an independent country no longer part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Peace of Münster is sometimes considered the beginning of the Dutch Golden Age. Nevertheless, despite achieving independence, from the end of the war in 1648 there was considerable opposition to the Treaty of Münster within the States General of the Netherlands since it allowed Spain to retain the Southern Provinces and permitted religious toleration for Catholics.[5]

There were numerous causes that led to the Eighty Years' War but the primary reasons could be classified into two: resentment towards the Spanish authority and religious tension. The first was initially articulated by the Dutch nobility who wanted to regain power and privileges lost in favor of the King, so they settled the thought that Phillip II was surrounded by evil advisors.[6] This eventually developed into an overarching discontent against the absolutist Spanish regime. Religious resistance, on the other hand, came with the imposition of an ecclesiastical hierarchy for all of the Spanish territories. This created resistance in the Dutch provinces, which had already embraced the Reformation.

In the decades preceding the war, the Dutch became increasingly discontented with Spanish rule. A major concern involved the heavy taxation imposed on the population, while support and guidance from the government was hampered by the size of the Spanish empire. At that time, the Seventeen Provinces were known in the empire as De landen van herwaarts over and in French as Les pays de par deça—"those lands around there". The Dutch provinces were continually criticised for acting without permission from the throne, while it was impractical for them to gain permission for actions, as requests sent to the throne would take at least four weeks for a response to return. The presence of Spanish troops under the command of the Duke of Alba, who was brought in to oversee order,[7] further amplified this unrest.

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