In a recent blog, I wrote about how the pilgrims did not go to America from England for religious freedom for the first time, but they had that in Holland and that they left Holland because they got sucked into the worldly, materialistic ways of the Dutch at that time.
Before the Reformation came to the Netherlands in the mi-16th century, the Netherlands were not an independent country, much like America was in the colonial days before we kicked England out of our country. For a while, the Habsburg Dynasty of theocratic Catholic Spain gave the Dutch a lot of autonomy.
As the Netherlands got richer, Spain wanted a cut. The Catholic theocracy was also nervous about the Reformation blooming in the Netherlands and started clamping its grip on the Dutch. The people of the Netherlands rebelled, and there was much bloodshed, persecution and war. In time, Spain lost and had to leave the Dutch alone, much as was the case in the American Revolution.
The first influence in 16th century Netherlands was from mainly from the Anabaptists, a belief that was popular with the Dutch then. Later Calvinism took root. The Calvinists, who were persecuted by the Catholics from Spain, fought back, and destroyed Catholic churches and images as well as their ideas. They took them down much like Bruce Lee took down the secret, evil fortress in Enter The Dragon.
In the 17th century, the Netherlands became a hotbed, a strong fortress for the Reformation.
Today, sadly, the imprint of the Reformation in the Netherlands is only a shell, symbolism over substance.