The Dutch Republic was a cultural powerhouse in the modern era, producing lasting masterpieces in painting and publishing-and in the process transforming those fields from modest trades to booming industries. This book asks the question of how such a small nation could become such a major player in those fields. Claartje Rasterhoff shows how industrial organisations played a role in shaping patterns of growth and innovations. As early modern Dutch cultural industries were concentrated geographically, highly networked, and institutionally embedded, they were able to reduce uncertainty in the marketplace and stimulate the commercial and creative potential of painters and publishers-though those successes eventually came up against the limits of a saturated domestic market and an aversion to risk on the part of producers that ultimately brought an end to the boom.
This study offers the first complete overview of the remarkable public finances of the Dutch Republic of the United Provinces. Wantje Fritschy has analysed the development and structure of its public revenue and expenditure. She argues that a ‘tax revolution’ and the ‘fiscal resilience’ of the provinces together were more important for its surprising performance than Holland’s public debt alone, and the institutional and economic characteristics of its ‘urban system’ were more important than wealth due to foreign trade. Comparisons with the fiscal systems of three more centralized states - the Venetian Republic, Britain and the Ottoman Empire - underline the crucial importance of long-term ‘urbanization trajectories’ in understanding early-modern fiscal performance. It was not because it was federal that the Dutch Republic collapsed.