Two small but economically precocious states on the western periphery of the European mainland have, for different reasons, punched above their weight as far as the global history of economic history is concerned. This is especially so in the case of the Netherlands in recent decades. Two authors here contribute their own interpretations of the emergence and trajectory of the field in their respective countries focusing upon their differing economic, political and intellectual contexts and their relationships with the outside world. The subject, as it has developed in both localities, has much to offer to the future of the discipline particularly because, in neither polity, has economic history been irrevocably divorced from social and cultural history. This is the case despite growing specialization of research tools and methods, and despite a concerning drift towards path-dependency arguments within the new institutional economics of recent years.