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_The aim of this series is to sketch the history of Modern Europe, with
that of its chief colonies and conquests, from about the end of the
fifteenth century down to the present time. In one or two cases the
story commences at an earlier date; in the case of the colonies it
generally begins later. The histories of the different countries are
described, as a rule, separately; for it is believed that, except in
epochs like that of the French Revolution and Napoleon I, the connection
of events will thus be better understood and the continuity of
historical development more clearly displayed.

The series is intended for the use of all persons anxious to understand
the nature of existing political conditions. 'The roots of the present
lie deep in the past'; and the real significance of contemporary events
cannot be grasped unless the historical causes which have led to them
are known. The plan adopted makes it possible to treat the history of
the last four centuries in considerable detail, and to embody the most
important results of modern research. It is hoped therefore that the
series will be useful not only to beginners but to students who have
already acquired some general knowledge of European History. For those
who wish to carry their studies further, the bibliography appended to
each volume will act as a guide to original sources of information and
works of a more special character.

Considerable attention is paid to political geography; and each volume
is furnished with such maps and plans as may be requisite for the
illustration of the text_.


* * * * *


The title, "History of Holland," given to this volume is fully justified
by the predominant part which the great maritime province of Holland
took in the War of Independence and throughout the whole of the
subsequent history of the Dutch state and people. In every language the
country, comprising the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht,
Friesland, Gelderland, Overyssel and Groningen, has, from the close of
the sixteenth century to our own day, been currently spoken of as
Holland, and the people (with the solitary exception of ourselves) as
'Hollanders[1].' It is only rarely that the terms the Republic of the
United Provinces, or of the United Netherlands, and in later times the
Kingdom of the Netherlands, are found outside official documents. Just
as the title "History of England" gradually includes the histories of
Wales, of Scotland, of Ireland, and finally of the widespread British
Empire, so is it in a smaller way with the history that is told in the
following pages. That history, to be really complete, should begin with
an account of mediaeval Holland in the feudal times which preceded the
Burgundian period; and such an account was indeed actually written, but
the plan of this work, which forms one of the volumes of a series,
precluded its publication.

The character, however, of the people of the province of Holland, and of
its sister and closely allied province of Zeeland, its qualities of
toughness, of endurance, of seamanship and maritime enterprise, spring
from the peculiar amphibious nature of the country, which differs from
that of any other country in the world. The age-long struggle against
the ocean and the river floods, which has converted the marshes, that
lay around the mouths of the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt, by
toilsome labour and skill into fertile and productive soil, has left its
impress on the whole history of this people. Nor must it be forgotten
how largely this building up of the elaborate system of dykes, dams and
canals by which this water-logged land was transformed into the Holland
of the closing decades of the sixteenth century, enabled her people to
offer such obstinate and successful resistance to the mighty power of
Philip II.

The earliest dynasty of the Counts of Holland - Dirks, Floris, and
Williams - was a very remarkable one. Not only did it rule for an
unusually long period, 922 to 1299, but in this long period without
exception all the Counts of Holland were strong and capable rulers. The
fiefs of the first two Dirks lay in what is now known as North Holland,
in the district called Kennemerland. It was Dirk III who seized from the
bishops of Utrecht some swampy land amidst the channels forming the
mouth of the Meuse, which, from the bush which covered it, was named
Holt-land (Holland or Wood-land). Here he erected, in 1015, a stronghold
to collect tolls from passing ships. This stronghold was the beginning
of the town of Dordrecht, and from here a little later the name Holland
was gradually applied to the whole county. Of his successors the most
illustrious was William II (1234 to 1256) who was crowned King of the
Romans at Aachen, and would have received from Pope Innocent IV the
imperial crown at Rome, had he not been unfortunately drowned while
attempting to cross on horseback an ice-bound marsh.

In 1299 the male line of this dynasty became extinct; and John of
Avennes, Count of Hainault, nephew of William II, succeeded. His son,
William III, after a long struggle with the Counts of Flanders,
conquered Zeeland and became Count henceforth of Holland, Zeeland and
Hainault. His son, William IV, died childless; and the succession then
passed to his sister Margaret, the wife of the Emperor Lewis of Bavaria.
It was contested by her second son William, who, after a long drawn-out
strife with his mother, became, in 1354, Count of Holland and Zeeland
with the title William V, Margaret retaining the county of Hainault.
Becoming insane, his brother Albert in 1358 took over the reins of
government. In his time the two factions, known by the nicknames of "the
Hooks" and "the Cods," kept the land in a continual state of disorder
and practically of civil war. They had already been active for many
years. The Hooks were supported by the nobles, by the peasantry and by
that large part of the poorer townsfolk that was excluded from all share
in the municipal government. The Cods represented the interests of the
powerful burgher corporations. In later times these same principles and
interests divided the Orangist and the States parties, and were
inherited from the Hooks and Cods of mediaeval Holland. The marriages
of Albert's son, William, with Margaret the sister of John the Fearless,
Duke of Burgundy, and of John the Fearless with Albert's daughter,
Margaret, were to have momentous consequences. Albert died in 1404 and
was succeeded by William VI, who before his death in 1417 caused the
nobles and towns to take the oath of allegiance to his daughter and only
child, Jacoba or Jacqueline.[2]

Jacoba, brave, beautiful and gifted, for eleven years maintained her
rights against many adversaries, chief among them her powerful and
ambitious cousin, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Her courage and
many adventures transformed her into a veritable heroine of romance. By
her three marriages with John, Duke of Brabant, with Humphry, Duke of
Gloucester, and, finally, with Frans van Borselen, she had no children.
Her hopeless fight with Philip of Burgundy's superior resources ended at
last in the so-called "Reconciliation of Delft" in 1428, by which, while
retaining the title of countess, she handed over the government to
Philip and acknowledged his right of succession to the Countship upon
her death, which took place in 1436.


_November_, 1921






I. The Burgundian Netherlands 1-11

II. Habsburg Rule in the Netherlands 12-26

III. The Prelude to the Revolt 27-46

IV. The Revolt of the Netherlands 47-68

V. William the Silent 69-81

VI. The Beginnings of the Dutch Republic 82-109

VII. The System of Government 110-118

VIII. The Twelve Years' Truce 119-126

IX. Maurice and Oldenbarneveldt 127-138

X. From the end of the Twelve Years' Truce
to the Peace of Munster, 1621-1648.
The Stadholderate
of Frederick Henry of Orange 139-158

XI. The East and West India Companies.
Commercial and Economic Expansion 159-185

XII. Letters, Science and Art 186-201

XIII. The Stadholderate of William II.
The Great Assembly 202-211

XIV. Rise of John de Witt.
The First English War 212-224

XV. The Administration of John de Witt, 1654-1665,
from the Peace of Westminster to
the Out-break of the Second English War 225-235

XVI. The last years of De Witt's Administration,
1665-1672. The Second English War.
The Triple Alliance.
The French Invasion 236-250

XVII. War with France and England. William III,
Stadholder. Murder of the brothers De
Witt, 1672 251-257

XVIII. The Stadholderate of William III,
1672-1688 258-273

XIX. The King-Stadholder, 1688-1702 274-284

XX. The War of the Spanish Succession and the
Treaties of Utrecht, 1702-1715 285-297

XXI. The Stadholderless Republic, 1715-1740 298-305

XXII. The Austrian Succession War and William
IV, 1740-1751 306-315

XXIII. The Regency of Anne and of Brunswick,
1751-1766 316-320

XXIV. William V. First Period, 1766-1780 321-326

XXV. Stadholderate of William V (_continued_),
1780-1788. The English War.
Patriot Movement. Civil War. Prussian
Intervention 327-336

XXVI. The Orange Restoration. Downfall of the
Republic, 1788-1795 337-343

XXVII. The Batavian Republic, 1795-1806 344-356

XXVIII. The Kingdom of Holland and the French
Annexation, 1806-1814 357-366

XXIX. The Formation of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands, 1814-1815 367-375

XXX. The Kingdom of the Netherlands - Union
of Holland and Belgium, 1815-1830 376-388

XXXI. The Belgian Revolution. The Separation of
Holland and Belgium, 1830-1842 389-404

XXXII. William I abdicates. Reign of William II.
Revision of the Constitution, 1842-1849 405-410

XXXIII. Reign of William III to the death of
Thorbecke, 1849-1872 411-418

XXXIV. The later reign of William III, and the
Regency of Queen Emma, 1872-1898 419-425

XXXV. The Reign of Queen Wilhelmina, 1898-1917 426-428

EPILOGUE 429-432


INDEX 445-464


THE NETHERLANDS, _about_ 1550
THE NETHERLANDS, _after_ 1648 AFTER p. 444



The last duke of the ancient Capetian house of Burgundy dying in 1361
without heirs male, the duchy fell into the possession of the French
crown, and was by King John II bestowed upon his youngest son, Philip
the Hardy, Duke of Touraine, as a reward, it is said, for the valour he
displayed in the battle of Poictiers. The county of Burgundy, generally
known as Franche-Comté, was not included in this donation, for it was an
imperial fief; and it fell by inheritance in the female line to
Margaret, dowager Countess of Flanders, widow of Count Louis II, who was
killed at Crécy. The duchy and the county were soon, however, to be
re-united, for Philip married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Louis de
Male, Count of Flanders, and granddaughter of the above-named Margaret.
In right of his wife he became, on the death of Louis de Male in 1384,
the ruler of Flanders, Mechlin, Artois, Nevers and Franche-Comté. Thus
the foundation was laid of a great territorial domain between France and
Germany, and Philip the Hardy seems from the first to have been
possessed by the ambitious design of working for the restoration of a
powerful middle kingdom, which should embrace the territories assigned
to Lothaire in the tripartite division of the Carolingian empire by the
treaty of Verdun (843). For this he worked ceaselessly during his long
reign of forty years, and with singular ability and courage. Before his
death he had by the splendour of his court, his wealth and his successes
in arms and diplomacy, come to be recognised as a sovereign of great
weight and influence, in all but name a king. The Burgundian policy and
tradition, which he established, found in his successors John the
Fearless (murdered in 1419) and John's son, Philip the Good, men of like
character and filled with the same ambitions as himself. The double
marriage of John with Margaret, the sister of William VI of Holland, and
of William VI with Margaret of Burgundy, largely helped forward their
projects of aggrandisement. Philip the Good was, however, a much abler
ruler than his father, a far-seeing statesman, who pursued his plans
with a patient and unscrupulous pertinacity, of which a conspicuous
example is to be found in his long protracted struggle with his cousin
Jacoba, the only child and heiress of William of Holland, whose
misfortunes and courage have made her one of the most romantic figures
of history. By a mixture of force and intrigue Philip, in 1433, at last
compelled Jacoba to abdicate, and he became Count of Holland, Zeeland
and Hainault. Nor was this by any means the end of his acquisitions.
Joanna, Duchess of Brabant (1355-1404) in her own right, was aunt on the
mother's side to Margaret of Flanders, wife of Philip the Hardy. Dying
without heirs, she bequeathed Brabant, Limburg and Antwerp to her
great-nephew, Anthony of Burgundy, younger brother of John the Fearless.
Anthony was killed at Agincourt and was succeeded first by his son John
IV, the husband of Jacoba of Holland, and on his death without an heir
in 1427, by his second son, Philip of St Pol, who also died childless in
1430. From him his cousin Philip the Good inherited the duchies of
Brabant and Limburg and the marquisate of Antwerp. Already he had
purchased in 1421 the territory of Namur from the last Count John III,
who had fallen into heavy debt; and in 1443 he likewise purchased the
duchy of Luxemburg from the Duchess Elizabeth of Görlitz, who had
married in second wedlock Anthony, Duke of Brabant, and afterwards John
of Bavaria, but who had no children by either of her marriages. Thus in
1443 Philip had become by one means or another sovereign under various
titles of the largest and most important part of the Netherlands, and he
increased his influence by securing in 1456 the election of his
illegitimate son David, as Bishop of Utrecht. Thus a great step forward
had been taken for the restoration of the middle kingdom, which had been
the dream of Philip the Hardy, and which now seemed to be well-nigh on
the point of accomplishment.

The year 1433, the date of the incorporation of Holland and Zeeland in
the Burgundian dominion, is therefore a convenient starting-point for a
consideration of the character of the Burgundian rule in the
Netherlands, and of the changes which the concentration of sovereign
power in the hands of a single ruler brought into the relations of the
various provinces with one another and into their internal
administration. The Netherlands become now for the first time something
more than a geographical expression for a number of petty feudal
states, practically independent and almost always at strife.
Henceforward there was peace; and throughout the whole of this northern
part of his domains it was the constant policy of Philip gradually to
abolish provincialism and to establish a centralised government. He was
far too wise a statesman to attempt to abolish suddenly or arbitrarily
the various rights and privileges, which the Flemings, Brabanters and
Hollanders had wrung from their sovereigns, and to which they were
deeply attached; but, while respecting these, he endeavoured to restrict
them as far as possible to local usage, and to centralise the general
administration of the whole of the "pays de par deçà" (as the Burgundian
dukes were accustomed to name their Netherland dominions) by the
summoning of representatives of the Provincial States to an assembly
styled the States-General, and by the creation of a common Court of

The first time the States-General were called together by Philip was in
1465 for the purpose of obtaining a loan for the war with France and the
recognition of his son Charles as his successor; and from this time
forward at irregular intervals, but with increasing frequency, the
practice of summoning this body went on. The States-General (in a sense)
represented the Netherlands as a whole; and it was a matter of great
convenience for the sovereign, especially when large levies of money had
to be raised, to be enabled thus to bring his proposals before a single
assembly, instead of before a number of separate and independent
provincial states. Nevertheless, it must be borne in mind that the
States-General had, as such, no authority to act on behalf of these
several provincial states. Each of these sent their deputies to the
General Assembly, but these deputies had to refer all matters to their
principals before they could give their assent, and each body of
deputies gave this assent separately, and without regard to the others.
It was thus but a first provisional step towards unity of
administration, but it did tend to promote a feeling of community of
interests between the provinces and to lead to the deputies having
intercourse with one another and interchanging their views upon the
various important subjects that were brought before their consideration.
The period of disturbance and the weakening of the authority of the
sovereign, which followed the death of Charles the Bold, led to the
States-General obtaining a position of increased importance; and they
may from that time be regarded as forming a regular and necessary part
of the machinery of government in the Burgundian Netherlands. The
States-General however, like the Provincial States, could only meet when
summoned by the sovereign or his stadholder; and the causes for which
they were summoned were such special occasions as the accession of a new
sovereign or the appointment of a new stadholder, or more usually for
sanctioning the requests for levies of money, which were required for
the maintenance of splendid courts and the cost of frequent wars. For
not only the Burgundian princes properly so-called, but even Charles V,
had mainly to depend upon the wealth of the Netherlands for their
financial needs. And here a distinction must be drawn. For solemn
occasions, such as the accession of a new sovereign, or the acceptance
of a newly appointed governor, representatives of all the provinces
(eventually seventeen) were summoned, but for ordinary meetings for the
purpose of money levies only those of the so-called patrimonial or old
Burgundian provinces came together. The demands for tribute on the
provinces acquired later, such as Gelderland, Groningen, Friesland and
Overyssel, were made to each of these provinces separately, and they
jealously claimed their right to be thus separately dealt with. In the
case of the other provinces the States-General, as has been already
stated, could only grant the money after obtaining from each province
represented, severally, its assent; and this was often not gained until
after considerable delay and much bargaining. Once granted, however, the
assessment regulating the quota, which the different provinces had to
contribute, was determined on the basis of the so-called _quotisatie_ or
_settinge_ drawn up in 1462 on the occasion of a tribute for 10 years,
which Charles the Bold, as his father's stadholder in the "pays de par
deçà," then demanded. The relative wealth of the provinces may be judged
from the fact that at this date Flanders and Brabant each paid a quarter
of the whole levy, Holland one sixth, Zeeland one quarter of Holland's

As regards the provincial government the Burgundian princes left
undisturbed the local and historical customs and usages, and each
province had its individual characteristics. At the head of each
provincial government (with the exception of Brabant, at whose capital,
Brussels, the sovereign himself or his regent resided) was placed a
governor, with the title of Stadholder, who was the representative of
the sovereign and had large patronage. It was his duty to enforce
edicts, preserve order, and keep a watchful eye over the administration
of justice. He nominated to many municipal offices, but had little or no
control over finance. The raising of troops and their command in the
field was entrusted to a captain-general, who might not be the same
person as the stadholder, though the offices were sometimes united. In
the northern Netherlands there was but one stadholder for the three
provinces of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, and one (at a somewhat later
date) for Friesland, Groningen, Drente and Overyssel.

The desire of the Burgundian princes to consolidate their dominions into
a unified sovereignty found itself thwarted by many obstacles and
especially by the lack of any supreme tribunal of appeal. It was galling
to them that the _Parlement_ of Paris should still exercise appellate
jurisdiction in Crown-Flanders and Artois, and the Imperial Diet in some
of the other provinces. Already in 1428 Philip had erected the Court of
Holland at the Hague to exercise large powers of jurisdiction and
financial control in the provinces of Holland and Zeeland; and in 1473
Charles the Bold set up at Mechlin the body known as the Great Council,
to act as a court of appeal from the provincial courts. It was to be, in
the Netherlands, what the _Parlement_ of Paris was in France. The Great
Council, which had grown out of the Privy Council attached to the person
of the prince, and which under the direction of the Chancellor of
Burgundy administered the affairs of the government, more particularly
justice and finance, was in 1473, as stated above, re-constituted as a
Court of Appeal in legal matters, a new Chamber of Accounts being at the
same time created to deal with finance. These efforts at centralisation
of authority were undoubtedly for the good of the country as a whole,
but such was the intensity of provincial jealousy and particularism that
they were bitterly resented and opposed.

In order to strengthen the sovereign's influence in the towns, and to
lessen the power of the Gilds, Philip established in Holland, and so far
as he could elsewhere, what were called "vaste Colleges" or fixed
committees of notables, to which were entrusted the election of the town
officials and the municipal administration. These bodies were composed
of a number of the richest and most influential burghers, who were
styled the Twenty-four, the Forty, the Sixty or the Eighty, according
to the number fixed for any particular town. These men were appointed
for life and their successors were chosen by co-option, so that the town
corporations gradually became closed hereditary aristocracies, and the

Online LibraryGeorge EdmundsonHistory of Holland → online text (page 1 of 46)