William the Rich made the Bergisches Land a centre of humanistic science - a world view based on occidental philosophy and oriented towards the values and dignity of individual human beings (tolerance, freedom from violence, freedom of conscience). Humanism refers to the totality of ideas of humanity and the striving to improve human existence. After conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, it permitted the free choice of religion in 1565. Nevertheless, the Bergisches Land was also the scene of bloody conflicts during the famous 30 Years' War. From 1600 to around 1650, Spaniards, Swedes, Dutch and Bavarians plundered the Bergisches Land. In addition, there were further privations due to diseases such as the plague and dysentery.
At the beginning of the 18th century, there was a first strong upswing, the first factory owners clad their half-timbered houses with slate. This gave rise to the Bergisch house style that is still typical today. At the end of the 18th century, the industrial revolution also began in the Bergisches Land, and more and more farmers became factory workers.
The upswing and peace were disrupted by Napoleon through a siege lasting over 15 years. With the liberation of the Bergisches Land by the Cossacks, it was annexed to the Prussian Rhineland Province in 1822. In the Bergisch towns at that time, many people worked under the most difficult hygienic conditions - many died from diseases such as the plague and cholera.
In the 19th century, the Bergisches Land became the largest and most important economic centre of the German Empire. Examples of the outstanding achievements are the first electric rack railway from Barmen, Germany's highest railway bridge in Solingen-Müngsten, the reconstruction of Schloss-Burg, the Barmer and Ronsdorf dams, etc. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Bergisches Land was in full bloom.
Changes during the world wars: After World War I, the city of Wuppertal was formed by uniting Elberfeld and Barmen. In World War 2, the large Bergisch cities were frequent targets of bomber attacks due to their industry and were partly reduced to rubble.