The Dutch Improvisation Spirit of 1590, or: How We Loved It When a Plan Came Together…

There was a time when us Dutchies ruled the waves, a fact of which we are today simultaneously as proud of as we are ashamed of it (something about getting mad rich from selling human beings as property will do that to you). But that power trip is a thing of the past; nowadays our marine exploitations are solely constricted to trade, state-sponsored stupidity, and occasionally blasting Somali pirates out of international waters. The latter is going quite fine, actually: turns out that firing board cannons from a 21th century destroyer at hand-made Somalian boats with people holding AK’s is like playing rock-paper-scissors with a BFG-9000.

Nobody said that warfare is pretty.

While the Dutch standing army currently ranks somewhere between such military Juggernauts as Uzbekistan and the Dominican Republic in terms of size, at least we can still boast some reasonable striking power, garnishing such fancy, state-of-the-art equipment as F-16 fighter jets and AH-64 Apache helicopters (because nothing says “Fuck you!” in such an unmistakable and universal language as a Hellfire missile to the face). So even in these times of financial distress (which is a euphemism for the socioeconomic clusterfuck that followed when capitalism finally revealed its deep flaws), it’s a bit of a shame that the Dutch government is currently planning to further cut its military budget, sinking it below the NATO standard of 2% of the GDP.

But focusing on our organized military strength is putting us at risk of forgetting that in earlier times, we were less “Sir, yes sir!” and more A-Team. The birth of our nation, though sorely lacking in the Indians-slaughtering department, nevertheless saw a glorious age of a rebel nation giving Spanish people the finger left and right, a period which lasted no less than eighty years! That’s right, one of the few wars that we as a nation can convincingly claim to have actually won lasted almost a goddamn century. Kind of makes you wonder whether or not we actually beat them, or whether they just got tired of getting on their horse (or caballo, as they call it) and stroll roughly a thousand miles north for almost thirty thousand days in a row.

Since times were rough and resources were sparse, we adopted to improvisation. “If you can’t beat them, join them” is a maxim for pussies who lack a right hemisphere. How about this: “If you can’t beat them in a fair fight, make like a McGuyver/A-Team/Homer freakshow!” You can learn a lot from the past, even the made-up parts.

Especially the made-up parts. source

So when those godless Catholics had their hands on the city of Breda, Maurice of Nassau took a long, hard look at the locked gates of the city and muttered to himself: “Fuck it! We’re gonna Trojan Horse this place all the way back to freedom.” We all know that there’s an inverse relationship between how crazy a plan is and how likely it is to succeed, so no surprises when seventy of Nassau’s best soldier managed to hide in a boat carrying peat long enough to bypass the Spanish guards. Once inside the city, they made like the Achaeans, opened wide the gates and led to rest of the Dutch army in. No historical record states whether or not Maurice yelled “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers!” while entering the city, so scholars are forced to speculate.


After the onslaught of the event became clear to the public eye, the Spanish language acquired at least a dozen new synonyms for ‘fuck up’ and Dutchmen all around partied like it was 1599. Those truly were the good old days and the sooner we tap back into that improvisation spirit of 1590, the sooner we will once again raise our banners in all the corners of the world.

Frank Kool
Frank Kool
Born and raised in Holland, spent his time procrastinating and studying Psychology and Philosophy. Frank harbors a special interest in weird social phenomena (which are ALL social phenomenon if you think about them long enough).


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