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1200-1585: the Early History
1585-1672: the Golden Age
1672-1795: a small Setback
1795-1813: Recession and Decline
1813-1940: Recovery and Expansion


The personification of the city of Amsterdam, protected by Mercury, the god of trade.
(Amsterdams Historisch Museum)

1200-1585: the Early History
The early history covers the period 1200-1585. Amsterdam developed round a dam in the Amstel river at the end of the 12th century. The name Amstelledamme occurs for the first time in the toll concession of Floris V, Count of Holland, dated October 27, 1275. During the 14th, but especially the 15th century, Amsterdam underwent a rapid development, which laid the foundation for the Golden Age.

Aerial map (woodcut) by Cornelis Anthoniszoon (1544)
Only very few medieval buildings survive today. Some examples: the Old and New Churches and the Houten Huis (Wooden House) at the Begijnhof. Throughout the Middle Ages houses were generally built of wood, a vulnerable type of construction material. The famous Houten Huis is no exception to this rule. Consequently, most of them were destroyed. Nevertheless, a surprisingly large number of Amsterdam dwellings still have timber frames.
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