Tulip Mania: Madness in the 17th Century Netherlands

A R T L▼R K

On the 3rd of February 1637, the tulip mania collapsed in the United Provinces (now the Netherlands) as sellers could no longer find buyers for their bulb contracts. Tulip mania refers to a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for tulip bulbs reached astronomical levels. This phenomenon resulted in all kinds of financial speculations, gambling, and, in the aftermath of this period, had a disastrous impact on Dutch commerce.

The first tulips were brought to Europe from Turkey around 1554. Allegedly, Ogier de Busbecq, the ambassador of Ferdinand I to the Sultan of Turkey, sent the first tulip bulbs to Vienna, from where they were soon distributed to Augsburg, Antwerp and Amsterdam. The flowers’ unusual nature and exotic beauty quickly caught the eyes of the wealthy. That is why initially the possession of tulips was attributed to status. With time, however, the tulip mania…

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