The Netherlands, and particularly Amsterdam, experienced a Golden Age during the majority of the 17th century. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was founded to trade with India and other Southeast Asian countries. It experienced rapid growth and is considered to be a forerunner of modern corporations. The public was offered shares of ownership in the company and many of these owners realized fortunes as the company grew. The company became a pioneer of outward foreign direct investment by establishing foreign colonies where it possessed quasi-governmental powers.
While visiting the city of Brussels, we took a day tour to the city of Bruges, located west of Brussels near the coast of the North Sea. Bruges is considered to be one of the best preserved medieval towns in the world and due to its canals, is referred to as the “Venice of the North.” Bruges is in the Flanders section of Belgium where Dutch is the primary language.
Freiburg was founded in 1120 as a free market town. Its name would generally be translated as “a fortified town of free citizens”. The town was strategically located at a junction of trade routes between the Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea regions, and the Rhine and Danube rivers.