In 1636, Dutch Society Went Ballistic Over Exotic Tulips, And This Is What Sparked The Craze

dvoevnore - - illustrative purposes only

The power of flowers is often overlooked. I mean, who would think that such a delicate organism is capable of causing catastrophes?

Well, according to Scottish author Charles MacKay, all of Dutch society went ballistic over exotic tulips in 1636.

Apparently, tulips wreaked havoc on the economy, and many people even spent a whole year’s salary on rare bulbs with the intention of reselling them for a profit.

MacKay referred to the event as “Tulipomania.” But how did the Dutch get to that point? What sparked the tulip craze?

It turned out that MacKay’s accounts of tulip mania were greatly exaggerated. He wrote, “Many who, for a brief season, had emerged from the humbler walks of life, were cast back into their original obscurity.

Substantial merchants were reduced almost to beggary, and many a representative of a noble line saw the fortunes of his house ruined beyond redemption.”

However, a historian named Anne Goldgar did some digging into MacKay’s claims and found that they didn’t accurately reflect what was happening during that period.

After studying records from Amsterdam, Alkmaar, Enkhuizen, and Haarlem, the center of the tulip trade, she discovered that the market for tulips was much smaller and more reasonable than MacKay portrayed.

The Dutch were prospering in the mid-1600s due to trade through the Dutch East India Company. As a result, many merchants had money to spare, which was how tulips became a source of fascination.

dvoevnore – – illustrative purposes only

Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered to your inbox.

1 of 2