Back to news
Next article Previous article

New Dutch canon updated to include more diverse perspectives

About Holland



An updated version of the so-called Canon of the Netherlands was released in June of 2020. The canon consists of 50 "windows" that summarize important historical themes, and is meant to serve as an inspiration for Dutch history education. The updated version pays attention to more diverse historical icons.

Ten of the Canon's previous windows were replaced. For example, Floris V, Willem Drees, the canal belt were removed, and Marga Klompe and Anton de Kom were added.

The Canon's main goal is to raise awareness about shared Dutch history, James Kennedy, chair of the committee that revised the Canon, said to NOS. "It is an educational tool that can help teachers to capture the imagination of students. We do not claim to summarize the whole history or to establish a Dutch identity," he stressed.

The committee's aim was to give more balance to the Canon, he said. "We looked at the total picture of the stories and perspectives. We saw a gap in the history of the Caribbean and colonialism, for example. The Surinamese resistance fighter Anton de Kom represents that history and a specific voice in it. But the passage about Michiel de Ruyter, for example, was also slightly modified."

Anton de Kom was a prominent black author and civil rights activist who wrote in opposition to colonialism. He also joined and served the Dutch resistance for four years during World War II, when he was arrested. He died in a German concentration camp in 1945.

The committee also specifically focused on the role of women in Dutch history and politics, and added Mary of Burgundy and Marga Klompe to the Canon. Marga Klompe became the country’s first female Cabinet minister, when she took the post of Social Work Minister in 1956, a post which she held under three different prime ministers. "But we did not add people simply because they are women or have a diverse background. Klompe introduced the social assistance law. That law is more unique for the Dutch welfare state than the pensions that came under Drees, we thought."

More regional information was also added. "For example, it was said that it had a lot about the Randstad. With the addition of Jeroen Bosch, we can give more about Brabant. We also go more intp the mines in Limburg. We removed the canal belt, also because we already had many windows on the Golden Age," Kennedy said to the broadcaster.

New additions to the Dutch Canon

  • Trijntje
  • Jeroen Bosch
  • Mary of Burgundy 
  • Johan van Oldenbarnevelt 
  • Sara Burgerhart
  • Anton de Kom
  • Marga Klompe
  • The immigrant workers
  • Coal and gas
  • The "Oranje" feeling

Deletions from the Dutch Canon

  • Floris V
  • Karel V
  • The Republic
  • Canal Belt
  • De Stijl
  • Willem Drees
  • Crisis years
  • Multicolored Netherlands
  • De Gasbel


The new Dutch canon in a timeline

224 views Visits



Please log in to see or add a comment

Suggested Articles

About Holland

How to survive a Dutch summer

profile photo of a member

Milou Bowman

August 05

About Holland

Five things the Netherlands does best

profile photo of a member

Milou Bowman

July 29

About Holland

East Netherlands' regions join forces in the field of AI

profile photo of a member

Milou Bowman

July 27