Rijksmuseum ’80 Years’ War. The Birth of the Netherlands’

Important subjects

The 80 Years’ War is a crucial event in Dutch history. It led to the founding of the Netherlands. This war started 450 years ago, and it’s the first time that this whole period is covered in an exhibition. Issues that were important during this war, are still important today. Religious freedom, self-determination, terror, persecution amongst others. Learn more about the period prior to the war in the first room of the exhibition. Philip II became sovereign of the Netherlands, and not everyone was pleased with this.


A divided country

Because not everyone was happy with the authority of Philip II, a revolt against authority and church arose. This revolt later changed into a civil war. During the revolt it became clear that there was a lot of difference between the Protestants and the Catholics. For the Protestants, the word of God was the most important part of faith, for the Catholics images and paintings also played an important role. Philip II himself was a Catholic and defended their interests. The Protestants revolted. They demanded more space for their own faith and started the Beeldenstorm (the Great Iconoclasm). During the Great Iconoclasm, churches and the statues inside were destroyed. A number of these victims of the Great Iconoclasm and other ‘eyewitnesses’ can be seen in the exhibition.


Wondering how the war ended, and how it caused a split between the northern and southern part what we now know as the Netherlands and Belgium? The exhibition tells the whole story of the war from beginning to end. Visit the Rijksmuseum and learn more about this important period in Dutch history.



Museum informatie

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Museumstraat 1
1071 XX

+31 (0) 20 6747 000




Children aged 18 and under: Gratis

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