Je maintiendrai: the Second Dutch Golden Age. Part 1: Renaissance

Author: HenryPouet
Published: 2017-03-18, edited: 2017-03-18
Old AAR for mine, playing to bring back glory to the Netherlands! Using earlier versions of HPM (Historical Project Mod), Map improvements mod and RectangularFlagFrames mod.
Here it is! The Netherlands! Les Pays-Bas! Nederland! In all its glory! Well... not yet.

A completely flat - and thus hard to defend - region, the Low Countries were ruled and/or contested by several of its numerous neighbors in its long history, the worst of all being Mother Nature relentlessly trying to flood the country. The actual nation became independent when the Republic of the Seven United Provinces led by William I of Orange declared independence from Habsburg Spain in 1568 to fight against high taxation, Protestant persecution and centralization efforts. After 80 years of war, the Dutch were finally free - with the exception of the southern catholic provinces.
This marked the beginning of the Dutch Golden Age, an immensely successful trade and colonial empire with ships floating the Geus being seen all around the world - which is impressive especially from such a small country.

Our goal in this AAR is to restore the previous glory of the Republic and make it one of the Great Power of Europe, one of the Great Power of the World. We will aim at:
- Getting back our rightful territories - with the limit of good looking borders: I'm open to suggestions.
- Becoming one of the leading power of the world in prestige, industry and military.
- Maybe getting some more territories - again with the limit being border esthetic appreciation.
- (Optional) Playing world police and achieve world's best looking map.

I'm playing HPM (Historical Project Mod) with Map Improvements mod and RectangularFlagFrames mod.
Here's our population. Most of our people are colonials and most of them illiterate of non-accepted cultures, which is not ideal but good enough: we basically just want them to work in the mines and in the fields to dig some of those sweet, sweet RGOs to feed our industry at home. Our total population is quite small and will need to grow a lot to supply soldiers and craftsmen for our glorious Empire.
Our Good King William I of the house of Orange-Nassau swiftly set the Nationalist Party in power. While having had good economic policies, the king is seen as having failed to put down the Belgian rebellion: even with initial military successes, the threat of French intervention and British support forced him to back down before finally abdicating in 1840 after signing the Treaty of London. This is not what's gonna happen here, we have no intention to sign this humiliating piece of Diktat! We're gonna put down our rebellious subjects, this is the first step for the Netherlands to achieve glory again!

In order to do that we need to build cash reserves and thus tax our population. They're not gonna be happy but eh, we don't ask them to like it.
With our newly acquired money, we quickly build up troops to our limit. With the stated intention from the UK to back up the rebels, we have to get ready. A bit later we start constructing more ships - namely cheap frigates and clippers - to keep dominating the seas in Indonesia, seeing as there is no real way to beat the British navy in Europe. We also rise some cheap irregulars in the colonies to prevent native uprising.
Now for the most important part: allies. Realistically, we do not have the power to crush Great Powers by ourselves: we need to restore balance in the concert of Europe. Luckily, after french pressure in the early days of the rebellion, years of diplomatic work with made them rethink their way: we could serve as a trade and colonial adversary of size for the UK in areas where France does not have interests or the means to be so.
And finally they abide: the promise of a strong ally and a good rival against Perfidious Albion suffice to convince the French to join us.
The plan is simple: DO. NOT. DO. ANYTHING. Protect the mainland.
While we're getting ready for war in Europe, our colonial troops bring news of great success in Indonesia, marking the end of the Aceh war. Cheers for Nederland! Huzzah!
On the morning of February the 1st 1837, crowds start to gather around officials - mayors in the smallest villages - and an announce is made. That's it. It's here. The day some of them had hoped for - but most feared - has come: the armistice with the South is broken and war is upon us. Although everyone knows that this time it will either succeed or bring an end to the country and its dreams of being a Great Power again.
On the 2nd, allies from each side answer the call to war: England, France and various native Indonesian kingdoms join the war. This is now a major conflict.
One month later, Belgium is being subjected. Actually, being subjected well enough to allow us to change plan "Do nothing" and switch to plan "Do a bit but not too much and please be careful". While the Dutch high command is puzzled by french tactics of letting random stacks of soldiers die, they know France has the manpower to back up such tactics and most generals realized they don't really care enough about french people dying stupidly to actually do something about it.
Europe being stuck in a stalemate because of the British blockade, most of the action actually takes place in the colonies where an expedition from Dutch Indonesia is set up to attack and take control of South Africa. At the same time the first colonial corp land on the Dark Continent, the Dutch diplomats inform the British embassy that they now lay claim on what used to be our legitimate possession.
Victory! The rebels are crushed and their pretend government surrender to our terms. The British continue the war effort and claim to recreate Belgium out of ashes.
Sadly for them, we're gonna make the task harder by enacting harsh repression. All the rebel leaders are passed by arms and a couvre-feu is enacted. The population is not happy indeed, but rebellious sentiment is kept low. The bodies we left in the streets and the fields assured of that. Future historians will count 17.000 to 20.000 people executed by firing squad, excluding the "Belgian" troops and thousands of other exiles.
But the war goes on as the British expedition in Sumatra reminds us. No prisoners are kept and the attitude of the soldiers against natives is absolutely disgusting. Don't worry, we're gonna make them pay. With their blood. Because we're gonna kill them.

On the other hand, local allies receive warm congratulations from Amsterdam for the successful siege of Singapore, the supposedly "Ultimate British Fortress". Ah! Pff.
The war takes it toll on our people. The blockade and cost of building and supplying our troops is heavy: our economy is crashing. Will we be able to continue much longer like that? Or will the pressure of Albion push our own people to end us for them?
The answer is no: by outlawing slavery our starving people don't care anymore about the war and... well.. y'know... their starvation.

Actually, IRL this would have bankrupted the Netherlands immediately since their colonies heavily relied on slavery to keep their colonies profitable. But eh.
Our victory against the World Police's will and the restoration of order in our own country showed to the world that we're nothing to joke with. Yay for first step to world domination!
To put an end to this war and find a compromise with Albion, we need to retake control of all the territories we're claiming: that means we have to kick them off Indonesia. That's perfect since the South Africa expedition is done and on its way back. The plan is simple: land on the coast of Sumatra, march on Padang, seize the fortress and wait for the British to attack on a mountain. Actually I don't know how good of a plan that is. I mean nobody is that stupid, that would be suici-
That's it. That's it! After the lost of their two expedition corps - Sumatra and Belgium - and the failure to protect their colonies, the British are fearing for the rest of their empire, all at our mercy: now the cowards are backing down! That's it, retreat to your island Albion!
After ten long years of war, our citizens celebrate in all of the empire our glorious victory against the foreign oppressor! Well, everyone except for the "Belgian" of course. And the colonies, they don't really care. And the Boers they don't like us that much. And the people who lost their jobs and houses because of the war. And those who died obviously.

But all the others rejoice!
This, my friend... this is it. This is the first step to a new glory. This is the first step to a Second Dutch Golden Age!

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Images: 20, author: porkpotpie, published: 2017-09-01, edited: 2017-09-24