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Some Dutch history

Stelling van Amsterdam, an early Dutch military inundation system

The Stelling van Amsterdam, a city wall made of water,1 was a military waterwork system intended as the defense of last refuge during any invasion of the Netherlands.

Constructed between 1874 and 1920,2 the SvA was modeled on earlier Dutch waterlines, most of them exquisite hydrological systems; and was — like most of them — never deployed.

The system, comprising floodplains, hydrological mechanisms, fortifications and artillery, required complex techniques and elaborate cooperation, but was based upon a simple principle — precise flooding.

Too shallow to sail, too deep to charge, the Stelling van Amsterdam, or "Defense Line of Amsterdam,"3 stood at a distance of between 10 and 15 kilometers from the old city center.

The SvA was engineered on the model of earlier Dutch military waterlines, most notably the Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie (a post-Napoleonic upgrade and eastward movement of the Oude Hollandse Waterlinie.)

The first important application of the tactic was in the defense of Leiden in 1574 when rebel holdouts broke dikes in their fight against the domination of the Spanish. The success of the method in that battle inspired invention and refinement that continued as long as the technique remained applicable — until the 20th-century and its military aircraft.

Though never deployed, the Stelling van Amsterdam was — as the earlier "Hollandse Waterlinie" — a militarily deterrent.

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1.) I plagiarized the term "city wall made of water" from the original "stadsmuur van water."

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2.) r.e. "between 1874 and 1920:"
The initiation and completion dates of the Stelling van Amsterdam vary between sources.

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3.) The name of the Stelling van Amsterdam is not easy to translate.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee lists the name of the system in English as the "Defence Line of Amsterdam" (using the European spelling of the word "defense.")

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