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Some Dutch history



Statistical Dutch Catholic - Protestant border at ancient Roman frontier


The Netherlands, 21st century —

A statistical boundary between Nijmegen and Arnhem divides a Roman-Catholic south and a Protestant north. This is right at the edge of the Roman empire where the "great rivers" were a northern border.

The Netherlands is delta, and the Rhine first splits just inside the border with Germany. Distributaries change courses in historical timescales but have maintain a general path westward out to sea.

For the Romans, Nijmegen was the frontier. Beyond the rivers' domain were the Germanics, and although the two peoples conducted extensive business, the cultural border lasted for the duration of the Roman empire.

While the line dividing Catholicism and Protestantism today is conceptual and generalized,* it adheres to the original cultural boundary.

The language hasn't held that firmly, though it's not far off. Belgium is bilingual, Flemish (a form of Dutch) in the north, and French in the south.

But the religious border has barely moved in all these years.


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* The Netherlands is one of the most secular countries in the world. You don't see people in the streets over religious differences.

(A notable exception was the 1985 papal visit, when Utrecht fell into violence. But that was a protest against a religion — and an expression of popular condemnation of Catholic policies.)

No Protestant-Catholic disagreement rises to the level of embattled dispute.


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