In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Holland is Number 25 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Holland, or the Kingdom of the Netherlands as it was formally known, remained neutral during the war. The book covers political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on political history deals with the period from the establishment of the Republic of the United Provinces in 1581, following the long struggle for independence from Spain, up to the reign of Queen Wilhelmina, which began in 1898 and continued through World War I and beyond. Topics covered include the rise of the Dutch Republic, relations with Britain and France, French domination under Napoleon, the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1814, and the breakaway of the southern provinces to form the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830−31. The section on social and political conditions stresses the division of the population into a Protestant majority and a large and growing Roman Catholic minority and the important role played by religious divisions in the political parties and in public education. The section on economic conditions is brief—it mainly covers Holland’s successful effort to restore solvency after the costly breakup with Belgium and its commitment to a policy of free trade.

Last updated: September 5, 2014