Merchants & Buccaneers is the seventh episode of the television series The Story of the Netherlands, that begins with the Fall of Antwerp during the Eighty Years' War. Thousands of protestants flee with all their tools and furniture to the north, where they join forces with Dutch and Zeeland merchants. It sets off a Golden Age for them... but not for the crowds of impoverished German and Scandinavian refugees who invariably end up in the merchant navy doing forced labour. And neither for the Asian and African slaves that are traded by the ships' crews. Even before the Peace of Münster is signed and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands is officially recognized, the foundation for a worldwide colonial empire has been laid. Not by trading, but by brutal force.