"I never read the life of any important person without discovering that he knew more and could do more than I could ever hope to know or do in half a dozen lifetimes." -J.B. Priestley
Writers, philosophers, actors, activists, politicians, socialites and sports personalities shape the way people think. They become important people by using their platform to fight for causes they believe in, write down inspiring words or encourage people to make a change in order to better benefit their society.
Throughout history, there are many people who have fought against society's rigid rules and became heroes. They have aspired to inspire and their life's work still remains very important even years after their passing.
Without those who dare and fight for change, a country or civilization would remain the same without any progress.
The Netherlands, which means low countries, is no different. Throughout history, the Dutch have fought for important causes and become pioneers in social and economic changes that have been imitated by European and other countries all around the world. Known as being a very tolerant society, this has let important Dutch people leave their mark without judgement throughout history.
Superprof is here to inform readers about the important people who have shaped the Netherlands, and the world in some cases, with their policies, art, writings, outstanding physical talents and social causes.
Sit back, sip your coffee and inform yourself about the important people throughout Dutch history!
Important Artists in Dutch History
The term artist does not only refer to those who have a talent painting but also to individuals who have practised any creative arts such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, musician, singer, filmmaker, performer or actor.
There are and have been various important Dutch figures that are well-known for their artistic abilities. Whether they left their mark centuries ago or are doing so in the present day they should be remembered for their important contribution to society.
Vincent Van Gogh
Probably one of the world's most celebrated 20th-century Dutch painters, Van Gogh's post-impressionist style influenced modern Dutch art and other painters working today. In his paintings, he used striking colours and vivid descriptions in his landscape paintings and portraits.
Born in Zundert, Netherlands on March 30 in 1853, Van Gogh painted some of the most famous paintings ever known to man such as the Starry Night, Café Terrace at Night, At Eternity's Gate, Sunflowers, Irises and the Portrait of Dr.Gauchet.
Even though he has painted masterpieces that are now celebrated, Vincent Van Gogh was extremely unsuccessful during his short 37-year lifespan. Known by many as a "mad" artist or painter who fought aggressively with friends such as Gaugin and who cut off his own ear.
Van Gogh spent his last couple of years in France and experienced his artistic breakthrough before he shot himself in the chest and died.
His paintings can be viewed by any art lover since they are displayed in many museums throughout the world.
Eddie Van Halen
Born in Amsterdam, Eddie Van Halen is one of the most well-known musicians of the 20th and 21st century. He has been ranked by Rolling Stone as being the eighth greatest guitarist of all time and by Guitar World as the number one greatest of all time.
Van Halen moved to the United States when he was only six years old and always had a keen interest in music. In 1972 Van Halen formed a band named Genesis that was shortly changed to being called Mammoth. This band was not highly successful. After a short period of time, Eddie Van Halen became annoyed of singing vocals and hired David Lee Roth.
The band reached mainstream success in 1977 when discovered by record producer Ted Templeman. They released their first album in 1978 and have been celebrated as being one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Eddie Van Halen has influenced many guitarists style and is one of the Netherlands greatest treasures.
While Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt and not in the Netherlands, she spent the grand majority of her life living in and around Amsterdam. Her family moved to the Netherlands and Anne became an immigrant at a young age after the Nazis gained control over Germany.
While she was in Amsterdam hiding for two years from the Nazis due to the fact that she was Jewish, she wrote from the ages of 13 to 15 a diary stating her wishes, experiences and fears. Her writings known as The Diary of a Young Girl were originally written in the Dutch language but have been published in many other languages. It is known as one of the world's most widely recognized books.
Anne Frank has been viewed as a beacon of freedom and strength. The Anne Frank House, also known as the Secret Annex where the Frank's hid for two years, that is located in Amsterdam along a canal is one of the Netherlands most visited museums with over 1.2 million visitors recorded in 2013 and 2014.
Important Political Figures in Dutch History
The Netherlands has become a liberal country with much social tolerance due to the fact that many political leaders and activists have worked hard to promote their causes. Dutch society is one of the most cosmopolitan in the world with many immigrants feeling welcomed and accepted.
As a consequence of various intelligent political decisions, the Netherlands is one of the world's most prosperous countries. It is celebrated for its freedom of the press, economic freedom, great quality of life, well-renowned healthcare, education and infrastructure.
There are many Dutch men and women who are known for their political decisions that have helped many.
Find lessons to learn Dutch in London here.
Johan de Witt
Born on September 24 in 1625 in Dordrecht, Johan de Witt was an important politician in the 17th century and commonly known in Dutch culture. He was the Grand Pensionary, the most important official during the time of the United Provinces, from 1653 to 1672.
Throughout his political career, he wanted to intensify the economy by encouraging trading and shipping in the United Provinces mostly concentrating his attention on the province of Holland rather than the province of Zeeland. The flourishing sea trade that happened under de Witt's control of the Netherlands made the United Provinces a leading European power during the Dutch Golden Age.
He was extremely liberal and accepting of all types of people from various different religions. His negligence of the Dutch army led to criticism and blame for the numerous defeats in the Rampjaar. The country was in havoc and this lead to three countries invading without any issues. As a result of this hysteria, Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelius de Witt were publicly hung in the Hague in 1672.
Many historians strongly believe that William of Orange encouraged rioters to execute the de Witt brothers.
Johan de Witt is still viewed today as a powerful symbol of regulated government power, internationalism and tolerance for diversity. These are all values held incredibly high by the Dutch people.
Kuyper was Prime Minister from 1901 to 1905. He was not only a politician but also a journalist and neo-Calvinist theologian. He created his own political party known as the Anti-Revolutionary Party and dominated it from 1879 to his death in 1920.
Well-known for his promotion of pillarisation, the segregation of societies or social groups divided into different pillars, and anti-thesis in public life which would allow Protestants, Catholics and other groups to have their own schools, universities and organizations.
During his time as Prime Minister, he worked hard to improve working conditions for employees in all sectors. The law was passed to help those in the fishing and harbour construction industries. He often defended the middle-class groups known as "the little people."
His political ideals have dominated Dutch politics to this day creating an alliance and understanding between Catholic and Protestant groups. His political ideas viewed everyone as equal; the poor are not better than the rich and the rich are not superior people to those living in poverty.
Ruud Lubbers was the longest serving Prime Minister in Dutch history. He was in office from 1982 to 1994 and has left an impressive legacy behind.
Lubbers was known as a great team leader and notable economist. During his time as Prime Minister, he helped rebuild the Dutch economy after the recession in the 1980's. During this time he reformed social security and reduced the deficit. He also worked as humanitarian addressing many important social causes.
He was known for his great problem-solving skills and extensive knowledge of political matters. Lubbers believed that the vast size of Holland's government was negatively impacting the economy. He was famously quoted saying: "More market, less government."
He encouraged industries to create more jobs for citizens. Lubbers also worked with the United Nations and the European Union as part of a long political career.
Important Sports Figures in Dutch History
Dutch citizens are extremely healthy and active. It is reported that over two-thirds of the population over 15 years of age participate in some form of sports or physical activity weekly. Another statistic goes to show that 4.5 million inhabitants are registered to one of the 35,000 sports clubs in the Netherlands.
Football is the most commonly played sport in the Netherlands followed by volleyball and field hockey.
The Dutch football team has always done fairly well at an international level playing in the FIFA World Cup Finals in 1974, 1978 and 2010 where they were most recently defeated by Spain. There are many talented football players that have gained international fame.
Widely regarded as being one of the best football players to ever play, Johan Cruyff led Holland to the finals at the 1974 FIFA World Cup. During that tournament, he was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player.
After retiring from playing football, he became a manager for teams of Ajax and Barcelona. His influence left a lasting mark at both football clubs.
In 1999, Cruyff was voted by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics as the European player of the century.
La Masia is the name of FC Barcelona's training facilities and was the brainchild of Cruyff. He is also widely known as one of the pioneers of "total football" which left the public speechless in the early 70's.
An attacking midfielder born in 1962, Ruud Gullit was featured on FIFA's 2004 list of Top 125 Greatest Living Footballers. Gullit was captain of the Netherlands national team at UEFA Euro in 1988 when they won the tournament.
He played for important teams such as Chelsea, Milan and HFC Haarlem. Known for his long dreads and moustache Gullit won the Ballon d'Or in 1987 and was named World Soccer Player of the Year in 1987 and 1989.
He has retired from playing and is now the assistant manager to Netherland's national football team. A position he has been occupying since 2017.
While the Netherlands is mostly known for having talented football players, there are other extremely accomplished athletes in other sports. For example, Mariann Vos is a Dutch cyclist that has been widely regarded as being on the finest cyclists of her generation.
She is a road-bicycle racer, mountain-bike racer and track racer. She has won many world championships and Olympic medals. Most notably the gold medal in the points race at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the gold medal in the road race at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
She is one of the Netherland's most recognizable athletes.
There are many important people in Dutch history that have brought the Netherlands to prominence and fame on the world stage. Whether they were or are politicians, artists or athletes they have all done their part to make a difference for their country or experience their 15-minutes of fame!