The Netherlands and Scandinavia in North America (text version)

A timeline listing key events from the arrival of the Norsemen to the departure of the Dutch. 

Eric the Red founds a colony in Western Greenland.


The Norseman Eric the Red founds a colony in western Greenland; the settlement lasts until the fourteenth or fifteenth century.

Leif Ericsson explores the North American coast


Leif Ericsson, returning to Greenland from Norway, is driven onto the North American coast, which he explores and tries unsuccessfuly to settle.

Abdication of Charles V

25th October 1555

Abdication of Charles V Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain in favor of his son Philip and brother Ferdinand; Philip II inherits control over the Low Countries, which include the Netherlands region. 

Beeldenstorm: Iconoclastic fury.


Calvinist destruction of Catholic images, one of several outbreaks of the destruction of religious images in 16th century Europe, begins in Flanders. Beeldenstorm, a Dutch term roughly translated as "statue storm," refers specifically to the destruction and defacement of Catholic images that spread through the Low Countries in the summer of 1566. 

Dutch revolt against Spain begins


The revolt of the Protestant Seventeen Provinces begins against Philip II of Spain, an ardent Roman Catholic and sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands.

Dutch nobles beheaded at Brussels

5th June 1568

Dutch nobles Egmont and Hoorn beheaded at Brussels for treason to the Spanish crown; their deaths provoke outrage throughout the Netherlands.

Capture of Den Briel

1st April 1572

Dutch "Sea Beggars" capture the strategic city at the mouth of the Rhine and establish their first foothold on land, a turning point in the uprising of the Low Countries against Spain. The "Sea Beggars," a largely Calvinist Dutch guerilla and privateering force, would eventually conquer the northern Netherlands and establish a Dutch republic.

Dutch defeat Spanish fleet at Battle on Zuiderzee

11th October 1573

In the Battle on the Zuiderzee, a shallow bay in the northwest of the Netherlands, a Dutch fleet defeats a larger and better equipped Spanish fleet. The Zuiderzee was of major strategic importance, as supply routes for the cities in the area controlled by both the Dutch and Spanish went almost exclusively through it. The defeat helped convince the Spanish to abandon their goal to conquer North Holland. 

Relief of Leiden, lifting of the Spanish siege

3rd October 1574

After several months of the Spanish siege on the rebellious city, the second in less than a year, the Prince of Orange instructs the city's inhabitants to break the dykes, flooding the city and allowing the liberators to sail in, ending the Spanish siege and bringing relief to a starving population.

Founding of Leiden University


Leiden University, the first university in the Netherlands, is founded by Willem the Silent. It is believed Willem chose Leiden as reward for its heroic holdout against the Spanish siege one year earlier.

Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish painter

28th June 1577

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, an influential Flemish Baroque painter with an extravagant style, is born in Siegen, Germany. In addition to his successful career as an artist, Rubens occupied several influential positions as a scholar, diplomat, and art collector. Rubens was knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, and Charles I, King of England. 

Union of Utrecht

23rd January 1579

A mutual defensive pact of seven northern provinces against Spain is signed in Utrecht, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands previously under the control of Habsburg Spain. The pact was a response by the Protestant provinces to the 1579 Union of Arras in which the southern states of the Netherlands expressed their loyalty to Spain. The Union of Utrecht would become a de facto constitution and remained the only formal connection between the Dutch provinces until the creation of the Batavian Republic in 1795. 

Willem I serves as first stadtholder 


Willem I, prince of Orange-Nassau, serves as first stadholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Willem originally served the Habsburgs as a member of the court of Margaret of Parma, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, but the centralization of political power and the Spanish persecution of Dutch Protestants convinced him to join the Dutch uprising.

Crowns of Spain and Portugal united


Following a dynastic crisis upon the death of young King Sebastian I of Portugal, who had no dynastic heirs, the crowns of Spain and Portugal are united under Philip II in the Iberian Union.

Act of Abjuration

26th July 1581

Representatives of the United Provinces abjure their oath of allegiance to Philip II with a formal declaration of independence. The act bears a striking resemblance to the Declaration of Independence of the United States written almost 200 years later. 

Willem I assasinated

10th July 1584

Willem I, prince of Orange-Nassau, assassinated at his home in Delft by Catholic Frenchman Balthasar Gérard, who believed William had betrayed the Spanish king and the Catholic religion.

Prince Maurits assumes stadholdership


Prince Maurits of Orange-Nassau assumes the stadholdership of the United Provinces of the Netherlands after the murder of his father. 

Spanish Armada defeated

29 Jul 1588

Spanish Armada defeated by combined English and Dutch fleet. The fleet of Catholic Spain sailed against Protestant England with the intent of overthrowing Elizabeth I and ending her involvement in the Spanish Netherlands. After the repulsion, the people of England hailed Elizabeth as a hero and the Protestant movement across Europe was invigorated.

Anthony van Dyck, Flemish painter

22 Mar 1599

Anthony van Dyck, a Flemish Baroque painter with an influential style of relaxed elegance, is born in Antwerp.Van Dyck became the leading court painter in England. He is best known for his paintings of the family of Charles I of England and his work with Biblical and mythological subjects. 

United East India Company chartered


United East India Company chartered by the States General of the United Provinces and granted a 21-year monopoly over the Asian trade. It is widely considered the world's first multinational corporation and was the first company to issue stock. Two years earlier, the English government created its own monopoly enterprise: the English East India Company. 

Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch painter

15 Jul 1606

Rembrandt van Rijn, widely considered the most important painter and printmaker in Dutch history, is born in Leiden. Rembrandt produced his art in a period known as the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world.

Dutch defeat Spanish fleet at Gibraltar

25th April 1607

In the Battle of Gibraltar, a Dutch fleet surprises and engages a Spanish Fleet anchored at the Bay of Gibraltar, destroying most of the Spanish fleet in four hours of fighting.

Henry Hudson in command of Halve Maen


Henry Hudson, an Englishman in service of the Dutch Republic, is put in command of the East India Company ship Halve Maen. Hudson explores from Delaware Bay to the upper Hudson as far as present-day Albany. His original mission was to covertly find an eastern passage to China.

Founding of the Bank of Amsterdam


The Bank of Amsterdam, the first exchange bank in Northern Europe, is founded. Its intended purpose is to discourage the circulation of debased coins, a side effect of ordinances set by the Dutch government that set the legal value of coins. The ordinances created an incentive for mints to debase coins and pass them to creditors in Amsterdam at ordinance prices. The bank is widely seen as the precursor to the modern central bank.

Twelve years' truce with Spain

9th April 1609

Twelve years' truce with Spain begins. The truce marks the first time the Dutch Republic is recognized as an independent state by outside powers.

Fur trading post on Castle Island


Fur trading post Fort Nassau established on Castle Island, present day Port of Albany

The name New Netherland first appears


The place name New Netherland appears for the first time in a resolution of the States General of the United Provinces concerning trading licenses between New France and Virginia.

New Netherland Company licensed by States General

11th October 1614

The charter granted a monopoly of trade between the 40th and 45th parallel for a period of three years, starting on January 1, 1615.

Beginning of Thirty Years' War in Germany


A series of wars fought predominantly in Central Europe involving most of the countries in Europe; one of the longest continual wars in modern history.

Synod of Dordrecht

13th November 1618

The Dutch Reformed Church holds a series of meetings of the church council to settle the controversy over the rise of Arminianism.

Beheading of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

13th May 1619

Beheading of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, leader of the peace party, at the Hague 

Chartering of the West India Company

2nd June 1621

West India Company [WIC] granted charter for a trade monopoly by the States General.

End of the Twelve years' truce with Spain


End of the Twelve years' truce with Spain; the war against Spain resumes under the leadership of Maurits of Nassau, Prince of Orange.

First colonists arrive in New Netherland


First colonists arrive in New Netherland where they are settled at Fort Orange (Albany), the mouth of the Connecticut River, on High Island (Burlington Island) in the Delaware River, and on Governors Island. Forts are built on Governors Island and on the upper Hudson ( Fort Orange). Cornelis May, as senior skipper, is considered first director of New Netherland. 

Birthplace of New York State on Governors Island


Birthplace of New York State by de facto transformation of the New Netherland territory into a province by imposing the Republic's legal-political infrastructure with the planting of the first settlers on Governors Island (then named Noten Eylant or, in pidgin English, Nutten Island until 1784); the locus of New York's cultural patrimony of toleration.

Publication of De Jure Belli et Pacis

6 Sep 1625

The publication of De Jure Belli et Pacis, by Dutch statesman and jurist Hugo Grotius, lays the foundation for the science of international law. 

Prince Frederik Hendrik becomes stadholder upon death of Prince Maurits


Prince Frederik Hendrik, the youngest child of Willem the Silent, becomes stadholder upon the death of Prince Maurits. 

Willem Verhulst arrives as director of New Netherland


Willem Verhulst arrives as director of New Netherland.

Daniel van Crieckenbeeck killed by Mohawks


Daniel van Crieckenbeeck, commander at Fort Orange, is killed while supporting a Mahican war party against the Mohawks.

Peter Minuit replaces Verhulst as director


Peter Minuit replaces Verhulst as director, purchases Manhattan Island; moves settlers from Fort Orange, Connecticut, and Delaware to Manhattan. 

Piet Heyn captures Spanish silver fleet for the WIC


Piet Heyn, a Dutch naval officer, captures Spanish silver fleet for the Dutch West India Company.

Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions


The Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions, establishing the patroonship plan of colonization and laying the ground rules and expectations of the patroons and inhabitants, ratified by the Dutch West India Company. 

Patroonships founded in New Netherland


Patroonships of Rensselaerswijck (upper Hudson), Pavonia (Jersey City), Swaenendael (Lewes, Delaware), among others, founded in New Netherland.

Jan Vermeer, Dutch painter


Jan Vermeer, a Dutch painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle class life, is born. Vermeer is known for his use of bright colors and the proficient treatment and use of light in his work.

Swaenendael Colony destroyed by Indians

1 Jan 1632

Swaenendael Colony, built one year earlier, destroyed by Indians. No colonists survived. 

Minuit replaced as director


Minuit removed as director of New Netherland, replaced by Bastiaen Jansz Crol.

Wouter van Twiller, director of New Netherland


Wouter van Twiller becomes the fourth director of New Netherland after Peter Minuit is recalled by the Dutch West India Company in Amsterdam for unknown reasons. 

Peter Minuit hired by Swedish South Company


Peter Minuit hired by Swedish South Company, establishes New Sweden on the Delaware River (Wilmington, Delaware); Minuit lost at sea while returning to Sweden

Willem Kieft, director of New Netherland


Willem Kieft becomes fifth director of New Netherland. His authoritarian style leads to conflicts with many of the inhabitants as well as Indians and surrounding colonies. 

West India Company opens fur trade to everyone


West India Company opens fur trade to everyone.

Johan Printz becomes governor of New Sweden


Johan Printz becomes governor of New Sweden. 

Kieft's war with the Indians


Kieft's war with the Indians around Manhattan Island commences.

Prince Willem II as stadholder


Prince Willem II, Prince of Orange, son of Frederik Hendrik, serves as stadholder. After serving only three years, Willem II dies of smallpox at twenty-four years of age. The First Stadtholderless Period for the provinces Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel follows. His son succeeds him in 1672 as stadtholder and, in 1689, also becomes king of England. 

Petrus Stuyvesant becomes director general

11th May 1647

Petrus Stuyvesant becomes director general of New Netherland, Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba, and other dependencies in the Caribbean. 

WIC ship Princess Amalia lost in Bristol Bay

27th September 1647

WIC ship Princess Amalia lost in Bristol Bay, former Director Kieft and Domine Evardus Bogardus drowned with eighty-two others.

Peace of Westphalia

15th May 1648

Peace of Westphalia, settling Eighty Years' War with Spain; end of Thirty Years' War, ratified.

Swedish relief ship Kattan (The Cat) lost

August 1648

Swedish relief ship Kattan (The Cat) bound for New Sweden lost off Puerto Rico.

Hartford Treaty

2 Aug 1650

Hartford Treaty, settling boundary dispute between New Netherland and New England, signed.

States General assumes control


States General, opposing authority of princes of the house of Orange, assumes control over Dutch general policy. 

Stuyvesant abandons Fort Nassau


Stuyvesant abandons Fort Nassau (Gloucester, New Jersey); replaces it with Fort Casimir (New Castle, Delaware) below Swedish Fort Christina.

First Anglo-Dutch War

23 Oct 1652

First Anglo-Dutch War begins. 

Construction of defensive wall across Manhattan

14 May 1653

The Dutch construct a defensive wall across Manhattan Island (Wall Street) after threat of invasion from New England. 

Swedes capture Fort Casimir


Under new governor Johan Rising, Swedes capture the Dutch post Fort Casimir on Trinity Sunday, rename it Fort Trefaltighet (Fort Trinity).

Stuyvesant conquers New Sweden


Stuyvesant conquers New Sweden in the Delaware Valley.

Peach War

September 1655

Indians around Manhattan attack New Amsterdam, Pavonia, and Staten Island in a conflict known as the Peach War.

Baruch Spinoza excommunicated from the synagogue

27th July 1656

Baruch Spinoza, Dutch philosopher of Portuguese-Jewish parentage and exponent of pantheism, is excommunicated from the synagogue. 

Esopus Indian Wars in New Netherland

September 1659

Esopus Indian Wars in New Netherland.

English naval force captures New Netherland

27th August 1664

English naval force funded by the dukes of York and Albany captures New Netherland in a surprise attack during peace time.

Admiral De Ruyter retakes WIC trading posts

4 Mar 1665

Admiral Michiel Adriaansz de Ruyter retakes most of the WIC trading posts lost the previous year to English in Africa; De Ruyter's plans to retake New Netherland are aborted. 

Second Anglo-Dutch War

4th Mar 1665

In the second of four Anglo-Dutch Wars, England tries to end the Dutch domination of world trade and ultimately fails despite initial successes.

Admiral Crijnsen retakes Dutch colonies


Admiral Abraham Crijnsen retakes former Dutch colonies in the Guianas (Wild Coast of South America) seized by the English.

Third Anglo-Dutch War


In the Third Anglo-Dutch War, part of the larger Franco-Dutch War, England's Royal Navy joins France in its attack on the Dutch Republic. Fearful of French motives, Parliament eventually forces the king to abandon the costly and unsuccessful war. 

New York captured by Dutch naval force

August 1673

Dutch naval force captures New York; New Netherland restored as a Dutch colony.

Treaty of Westminster

19th February 1674

The Third Anglo-Dutch War ends and New Netherland becomes New York once again as a result of the peace of Westminster.


About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

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