Provincial Finances of the Dutch Republic 1572-1795

English | Nederlands


The history of public finance is a crucial element in the history of the Dutch Republic in the period of the Ancien Régime. This project releases the available key figures regarding its public finance prior to 1795. The finances involved are those of the various provinces that, due to the federative nature of the former Republic of the Netherlands, were much more important for the functioning of the state than the so-called Generaliteitsfinanciën (the finances of the Generality of the Republic).

Quantitative data have been made available for the provinces Overijssel, Drenthe, Groningen, Holland, Utrecht, Friesland and Zeeland. For the province of Gelderland the available archival material was insufficient for publication. For Staats-Brabant, the main region in the Dutch Republic under the direct authority of the States General, the preserved material turned out to be too voluminous and too lacking in survey-material to allow processing.

The project as a whole has been carried out as a joint venture of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and the Huygens Institute of Netherlands History. The Fryske Akademy in Leeuwarden was involved in the volume on Friesland for which additional financing was provided by the Professor Van Winterfonds and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. The volume on Zeeland was a collaborative effort of the Huygens Institute of Netherlands History, the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and the Zeeuws Archief in Middelburg; it was made possible by a subsidy granted by the Province of Zeeland.

The released material is presented in three ways:

Firstly, digital data files have been made available offering access as closely as possible to the material in the original sources. The amounts in the files are always in Dutch guilders, however.

Secondly, the publication in book form contains an edited version of the figures, in the form of combinations of amounts and a realignment of items. The books also contain an introduction and further explanations on the public finance of each of the provinces. The book on Holland contains in addition a reconstruction of the figures for the important period from 1572 to 1668, made available online; a Memorie van de financiën van Holland en West-Friesland drawn up in 1755, that is summarized in the book, has been made electronically available in its entirety.

Thirdly, spreadsheets were constructed on the basis of the aggregated electronic data. They were complemented by estimates for missing data for all provinces and by data and estimates for the finances of the Generality and the admiralties of the Dutch Republic. These spreadsheets were made available online as well.

NB Use of the electronic files with the original data is not advisable without preliminary consultation of the introductions and explanations in the books, because of the not only lacunar, but also diverse and complex character of the archival material used.