After the golden age came the epoch of wigs and revolutions. This was the eighteenth century. By the end of the 17th century we had been conquered by the French. The French king Louis XIV ruled over a large area from his magnificent palace in Versailles. The Netherlands was also part of this area. In the 18th century it was still believed that the king had been given his power by God. This made the king an example to many men in this era. They wore the same clothes as Louis XIV. They also wore wigs, just like the king. Louis XIV probably wore his wig because he was bald. He also powdered his face white. That was fashion back then. Rich people weren't allowed to turn brown.
After Louis XIV, Louis XV became king of France. Louis XV was the great-grandson of Louis XIV. He was the worst king France ever had. In the year 1715 he was crowned king. He was only 5 years old at the time. Unable to handle money, he wanted to be constantly spoiled and surround himself with luxury.
Louis XV received a lot of criticism from famous and influential philosophers. Rousseau was one of the philosophers who disagreed with the way he ruled the country. He was an important philosopher in history. He said louis XV had not been given his power by God at all. He was given his power by the people and had to take good care of the people. Voltaire was a colleague of Rousseau's. He said someone who didn't do his job well could be fired. The king did not do his job well and was therefore allowed to be fired.
At the end of the 18th century, the King of France was indeed dismissed. Louis XV was succeeded by Louis XVI. He had to deal with a huge national debt and some failed harvests and did not know how to rectify the situation in his kingdom. The people rebelled. The king was taken off the throne and executed. This was done through a new invention. Thanks to the guillotine, they were able to decapitate people very quickly.
The Netherlands was a bit of a 18th century for most of the 18th century. They had made a lot of money in the 17th century from the trade in spices. But they had also lost everything because of the wars with England and France. After they got the fright, they came up with a new way to make money. This time they brought men and women from West Africa and transported them by boat to the Dutch colonies in South America. The Africans had to work here as slaves on the sugar and cotton plantations. The living conditions of the slaves were very bad. They were treated like dirt. That's why there were more and more people protesting the slave trade. The slave trade is a black page in Dutch history.
But the Netherlands became rich again thanks to the slave trade. As in the Golden Age, they built huge houses and expanded their cities. Many wealthy traders and noblemen had two houses. They had one in town and one in the country. The houses in the countryside were often huge. Also they had huge gardens. These houses are called country houses. There were whole neighborhoods full of houses like this.
- Thinking about state and society in the EnlightenmentNow you learn at home and at school that you have to form your own opinion. In the past, this was often punished. History was changed by the 18th century philosophers.
- Slave labour on plantations and the rise of abolitionismUnfortunately, slave labour still exists. In the history of the Netherlands there was also a lot of slave trade. The Netherlands has made a lot of money from it.
- The pursuit of fundamental rights and the political influence of the citizenry in the French and Batavian RevolutionWhat would you do if you were the boss of the Netherlands? In history there have been many people who wanted absolute rule over the Netherlands.