British Museum collections, £12.99
Silver 3 florins of the Revolt of the Austrian Netherlands
The Netherlands, AD 1790
A breakaway region of the Habsburg empire
The Habsburg empire occupied a large part of Europe from the fifteenth century until the First World War (1914-18), at various times ruling Austria, Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, parts of Italy, and Switzerland, as well as Spain and her overseas dominions. Because of this diversity, the empire was never a fully unified state, and the house of Habsburg often met resistance to its rule. The Low Countries rebelled in the sixteenth century, with the northern, largely Protestant provinces shaping themsleves into a separate Dutch kingdom, while the Roman Catholic southern provinces (present-day Belgium) remained within the Habsburg Empire.
In the eighteenth century the Habsburg empress Maria Theresa (reigned 1740-65) brought a degree of reform to her rule of various parts of the Empire. However, her son, Joseph II (reigned 1765-90), had a more uncompromizing attitude to his dominions. This sometimes provoked hostility and rebellion, as in the southern Netherlands. This coin is an example of a silver 3 florin piece that was issued during the short period (1789-90) when the southern Netherlands became independent of Habsburg rule.