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Antwerp

ANTWERP

ANTWERP. Few early modern cities experienced such profound changes as Antwerp. The city on the River Scheldt was transformed from a sixteenth-century commercial metropolis to a small town of only regional importance by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the same period, Antwerp changed from an open cosmopolitan city with strong Protestant influences into a bulwark of the Catholic Reformation.

In the first half of the sixteenth century, the Low Countries were fully integrated into the vast Habsburg empire and the international economy. Antwerp profited greatly from this situation, experiencing unparalleled economic and population growth. Its commercial expansion was based on the convergence of important international trade in English cloth, Portuguese spices, and South German copper and silver. Although this "foreign" under-pinning made the Antwerp world market vulnerable, by the mid-sixteenth century the indigenous Antwerp merchants had gained considerable influence. Commercial expansion stimulated existing industries and attracted new ones. In addition, art production boomed, and many printers, publishers, and booksellersthere were at least 271 in the sixteenth centurytraded on the international market. The city also experienced extraordinary demographic growth. The Antwerp population more than doubled within half a century, from around 40,000 in 1496 to 100,000 in 1566. A small mercantile elite owned an overwhelming percentage of the city's wealth, reflecting a social polarization during Antwerp's golden age. Nevertheless, there are strong indications for the existence of a broad urban middle class that profited from the booming economy, socially and culturally. Among other things, this new middle class benefited from Antwerp's well-developed and highly laicized educational system, which included schools for both boys and girls.

The new religious ideas that divided sixteenth-century Europe easily penetrated Antwerp's cosmopolitan community, and the city became a center of Protestantism in the Netherlands. An eclectic evangelical movement in the 1520s and 1530s gave way to Anabaptist and Calvinist communities in the 1550s. For economic reasons, the Antwerp city magistrate (the main political body of the city) cautiously adopted the central heresy placards (legislation to counteract and punish the Protestants), focusing their repression on the poorer Anabaptists. From the 1560s onwards, the fortunes of Protestantism were closely linked with political resistance to central government policy. In 1566, Calvinists and Lutherans were allowed to organize a church; the Calvinist leaders even tried to seize power. The arrival of the duke of Alba in the summer of 1567 ushered in a period of severe repression. The Antwerp city government was put under custody and rebels and heretics were systematically prosecuted. Alba's policy, and the fortunes of war in general, were detrimental to the vulnerable Antwerp metropolis. Anti-Spanish sentiment flourished after the "Spanish Fury," which began on 4 November 1576. Spanish soldiers ransacked the city and killed about 8,000 people. From 1577 onwards, the Antwerp city government supported the politics of William of Orange (William the Silent) and the rebellious States-General. In 1579, the Calvinists gained control of the city administration, two years later proscribing the public exercise of the Catholic religion. Antwerp became a Protestant stronghold of international importance and a backbone of the Dutch Revolt.

The year 1585 was a watershed in Antwerp's history. In August of that year, following a long and brutal siege, the Antwerp city fathers were forced to surrender to Alexander Farnese, duke of Parma, and his Spanish troops. Many people fled the city for religious, political, or economic reasons. In four years, the population halved, falling to only 42,000 inhabitants by 1589. Among the emigrants were merchants, artists, intellectuals, and skilled craftsmen who contributed significantly to the economy and culture of their new homelands, especially the towns in Holland and Zeeland. After 1585, ecclesiastical and civil authorities closely collaborated to build up a new Catholic Church. New religious orders, such as the Jesuits, played a key role in this process of Catholic Reformation, which possessed a clear anti-Protestant stamp.

After a severe crisis in the late 1580s and 1590s, the Antwerp economy experienced an Indian summer. The closure of the Scheldt to navigation after 1585 notwithstanding, the resourceful Antwerp merchants managed to integrate the city into the Iberian trade system. A number of luxury industries recovered, and art production profited highly from the strong demand created by the construction and redecoration of churches. Artists such as Peter Paul Rubens turned Antwerp into an international center of baroque art. Yet, in the second half of the seventeenth and even more in the first half of the eighteenth century, the Antwerp economy declined. The closure of the Scheldt was confirmed by the Peace of Westphalia (1648), and the position of the port was further wounded by the mercantilist measures of the mighty European states. Furthermore, shifts within the economy of the Southern Netherlands were unfavorable for Antwerp and transformed the once thriving city into a provincial town.

See also Alba, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, duke of ; Dutch Republic ; Dutch Revolt (15681648) ; Netherlands, Southern ; Parma, Alexander Farnese, duke of ; Rubens, Peter Paul ; Westphalia, Peace of (1648) ; William of Orange.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Marnef, Guido. Antwerp in the Age of Reformation: Underground Protestantism in a Commercial Metropolis, 15501577. Translated by J. C. Grayson. Baltimore and London, 1996. Includes lengthy introduction on urban society in sixteenth-century Antwerp.

Soly, Hugo. "Continuity and Change: Attitudes towards Poor Relief and Health in Early Modern Antwerp." In Health Care and Poor Relief in Protestant Europe 15001700, edited by Ole Peter Grell and Andrew Cunningham, pp. 84107. London and New York, 1997.

Van der Stock, Jan, ed. Antwerp: Story of a Metropolis, 16th17th Century. Antwerp and Ghent, 1993. Collection of articles written by leading scholars.

Guido Marnef

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"Antwerp." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Antwerp." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antwerp

Antwerp

Antwerp (Flemish Antwerpen, Fr. Anvers) City-port on the River Scheldt, capital of Antwerp province and Belgium's second-largest city (after Brussels). Antwerp rose to prominence in the 15th century and became a centre for English mercantile interests. It was the site of Europe's first stock exchange (1460). Sites include the State University Centre (1965), the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (1880–90), and the 14th-century Cathedral of Notre Dame. Though heavily bombed during World War II, it retains many attractive old, narrow streets and fine buildings. Industries: oil refining, food processing, tobacco, diamond cutting. Pop. (2000) 446,525.

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Antwerp (province, Belgium)

Antwerp (ăn´twûrp), Du. Antwerpen, Fr. Anvers, province (1991 pop. 1,605,167), 1,104 sq mi (2,859 sq km), N Belgium, bordering on the Netherlands in the north. Antwerp (the provincial capital) and Mechelen are the chief cities. The province is largely a flat, cultivated plain, drained by the Scheldt River and its tributaries and served by the Albert Canal. It is mostly Dutch-speaking and was part of the duchy of Brabant.

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"Antwerp (province, Belgium)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Antwerp (province, Belgium)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/antwerp-province-belgium

Antwerp

Antwerpburp, chirp, Earp, slurp, twerp, usurp •Antwerp

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"Antwerp." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved December 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/antwerp