What happened was what always happens in such calamities -
a frantic, mass migration of refugees.
The Netherlands became split
along the lines of the military slog -
Protestant north, Catholic south.
But, as so often in our story,
the most astonishing flowerings
happen in the midst of human disaster.
In the Protestant Dutch Republic,
as art was purged from churches branded as idolatry,
it simply shifted location into other places,
especially private homes.
In the years when they were most beleaguered by war,
the Dutch became most prolific at buying pictures
which reminded them of what they were defending.
It was the first mass-market for landscape art,
precisely the kind of low art which Italians condescended to.
The life of the rustics.
It was what the Dutch were most passionately attached to.
The simple face of their homeland.
Now, the reason why the Dutch felt so emotionally invested
in this landscape was because they had been responsible
for physically making so much of it.
There's this old saying that God made the world,
but the Dutch made Holland.
And exactly at the time where they reinvent landscape painting,
this was literally true.
This was an area called the Beemster.
200,000 acres of what had been the inland sea of the Zuiderzee
were turned into this glorious pasture between 1607 and 1612,
while the Dutch were at war.
It was reclaimed with the aid of 43 windmills,
pumping the water out.
This wasn't just topography, wasn't just land,
it was their homeland.