Historians have often portrayed the Dutch Republic as the first ‘bourgeois’ society. What they had in mind was an early example of a society dominated by the sort of middle class that emerged in most other European countries after the French and Industrial Revolutions. In this article, ‘bourgeois’ is perceived in a slightly different way. By looking at the ‘bourgeois’ as ‘citizens’ – often, but not necessarily, middle class in a social sense – the article paints a picture of a plethora of blossoming urban civic institutions. Such civic institutions also existed in other European countries. What set the Dutch Republic apart, however, and indeed made it an early example of a ‘bourgeois’ society, was the dominance of these civic institutions in the Republic’s socio-political life.