The Low Countries are seen as one of the few European regions in which a relatively large number of cities developed at an early date. Generally this urbanisation is understood to be a result of a process of commercialisation and specialisation, and in the view of some this urbanisation might have continued into modern industrial times. However in the Netherlands, as elsewhere, continuous urban growth was not general before the mid-nineteenth century. Why some cities experienced growth while others languished remains an interesting and relevant question. In this article some recent studies on urban decline in the Low Countries are evaluated. Why and where did this happen and what were the societal consequences of de-urbanisation? Three studies on Zeeland form an intriguing starting point for a discussion on decline in Dutch urban development that could be seen as a-typical, but is arguably part of the regional and temporal variety of the Dutch society in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.