The City in European History

Antwerp and Amsterdam


Questions for Girouard, Cities and People, Chapter 7
Lecture Notes on Amsterdam

1. According to Girouard, Rome’s glory days as a city of lavish spending and lavish patronage of the arts ended by the mid-seventeenth century.  Summarize the reasons explaining this decline.

2. Explain how “the center of European prosperity” shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic coast.  What were the implications of this shift for European urban life, especially for a city like Antwerp?

3. Summarize the sources of Antwerp’s wealth, indicating how urban growth reflected the city’s prosperity.  On what sort of urban amenities did the citizens spend their money?

4. What combination of factors brought about Antwerp’s decline.  And how did the Dutch take advantage of this situation?

5. Summarize the main features of Girouard’s overview of urban Europe in the 1660s (p. 150).  What does it tell us about the future?

Chapter 8 (pp. 150-166)

1. Girouard writes: “What impressed contemporaries about Amsterdam was that it was a city entirely dedicated to making money.” (p. 151)  What aspects of the city gave visitors this impression?

2. How did this Dutch dedication to making money affect the urban topography and layout of the city?  Note, for example, the views on pp. 154-156.  How was the town hall symbolic of this dedication?

3. How did Amsterdam grow?  What sort of houses were built in the new districts?

4. Describe the nature of life and leisure in Amsterdam, both for the monied and lower classes.  Evaluate the nature of the legendary Dutch toleration.

5. Describe the Bourgeois Baroque style in painting.  What types of paintings did the Dutch favor and where did they display them?


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Last Update: 30 March 2004

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