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Established views of the early modern economy have changed considerably. De Vries and Van der Woude maintain that the Dutch economy was exceptional in its process of ‘modern economic growth’ in 1500-1815. This article argues that economic growth in the Netherlands was probably not much faster than in England, as is clear from the development of real wages. The modernity of the Dutch economy in this period appears to be a product of economic and institutional changes in the middle ages.