At no time have the Anglo-Dutch relations been so close and intimate as they were during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was during this period, when England was still very backward in manufactures of every sort1), when the trade between England and the Netherlands was chiefly in the hands of the Dutch2), when improved methods of agriculture and gardening were badly needed 3), when the English fish-markets were supplied by Dutch fishermen 4), when emulation of the all round supremacy of the Dutch led to conscious imitation of their institutions, industries and system of political economy, that immigration on a vaster scale than had ever taken place before, brought about a peaceful conquest which prepared the way for a Dutch prince to the throne of England, and laid the foundations of her future industrial and commercial greatness 5). It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and we may safely say that next to their own energy, the British owe their subsequent prosperity to the religious persecution on the continent and especially in the Low Countries in the 16th century. Again and again after the Diet of Worms in 1520, religious motives brought large numbers of immigrants from those parts 6). Though some of them brought a vast amount of money with them 7), yet most of them were destitute or nearly so, and had to work for a living. These skilled artisans had a great influence on the industrial development of the country, which the leading statesmen were not slow to realize, and as a rule they protected them in spite of the opposition on the part of the native artisans, who, in their jealousy of the superior skill of the aliens, repeatedly tried to get restrictions put on them 1). In the reign of Henry VIII., especially before his excommunication, these religious refugees did not meet with a hearty welcome; we even read of some Flemings being proceeded against for heresy at Witney in 1521 2); of four merchants of the Steelyard who did penance at “Paules Crosse” in 1526 3); of 24 Dutch heretics, 19 men and 6 women being tried in London in 1535, and some more in 1538, two of them, a man and a woman, being burned at Smithfield 4).


United Province English People Fishing Trade Privy Council Henry VIII 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1903

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  • J. F. Bense

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