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 The history of Holland and the story of its ancient Capital and Residence Dordrecht

Part 4 

From the year 1356 to 1417

Counts of Holland Arms.svg Wapendordrecht
Coat of arms of the County of Holland Coat of arms of Dordrecht

Holland and Zeeland ruled by the House of Bavaria 1356-1417

Hainaut-Bavaria Arms svg

Coat of arms of Holland-Bavaria


William V was now in possession of the entire Holland-Hainaut inheritance (July 1356). His tenure of power was, however, very brief. Before the close of 1357 he showed such marked signs of insanity that his wife, with his own consent and the support of both parties, invited Duke Albert of Bavaria, younger brother of William, to be regent, with the title of Ruwaard (1358). William lived in confinement for 31 years.

William V 1329-1389 "the Insane", Stadtholder 1347, as William I Duke of Bavaria-Straubing, as William III Count of Hainaut, as William IV Count of Zeeland and as William V Count of Holland 1356-1389

Guillaume III de Hainaut

William was born Frankfurt am Main, May 12, 1330,

son of Margareth II and Emperor Louis IV of Germany, William married 1352 with Mathilde (Maud), 1339-1362) daughter of Count Henry of Lancaster and sister of Blanche of Lancaster), due to insanity he was replaced by his brother Albrecht of Bavaria in 1358.

IAfter his father's death in 1347 William ruled Bavaria, Holland and Hainaut together with his five brothers until 1349. With the first division of the Wittelsbach possessions in 1349 he received Hainaut, Holland and Lower Bavaria together with his brothers Stephen II and Albert I (who after him became Count of Holland). After the next division of Bavaria in 1353 he ruled together with his younger brother Albert I in Bavaria-Straubing, Holland and Hainaut. William had engaged in a long struggle with his mother Margaret, obtaining Holland and Zeeland from her in 1354, and Hainaut on her death in 1356. In 1357, he began to show signs of insanity, and his brother Albert assumed the regency in Holland and Hainaut in 1358 as Ruwaard Albert I. Hr had only one daughter, who died in 1356. Also, he had illegitimate children :

  1. Wilhelm, married 1398 Lisbeth Hughe
  2. Elisabeth, married Brustijn van Herwijnen, lord of Stavenisse

1357 About the reign of William V (1330-1389), Count of Holland and Zealand (1354-1359) we find only a few events worthy to arrest our attention, since the only transactions in which he was engaged, were a petty warfare with the Bishop of Utrecht, unattended by any important results, and the mediation of a peace between Wenceslaus, Duke of Brabant, and Louis II of Male (1330-1384) Count of Flanders (1346-1384). As a price for his interference he received from the former the lordship of Heusden, and having afterwards adjudged the town of Mechlin to Louis of Flanders, whereby Brabant was deprived of both these possessions, gave rise to the old saying common in the Country, "Heusden mine, Mechlin thine.

1358 A great fire in Dordrecht destroyed many houses and because of that William V granted to the Capital of Holland, the privilege of storing goods not only transported by the rivers Meuse and Lek (Stapelrecht) but now also those goods transported by the other major rivers in Holland, called Maasrecht. In the second half of the same year William V went to the court of England to pay a visit of ceremony to King Edward III and his aunt Queen Philippa because the king had acknowledged him as Count of Holland and Zealand.

1359 After his return, he began to show symptoms of aberration of intellect, which soon increased to uncontrollable frenzy. He killed with his own hand, and without any cause of offence, Gerard van Wateringen, a nobleman highly esteemed in the Country in consequence of which act he was deprived of the government and placed in confinement at the Hague, whence he was removed to the Castle of Quesnoi in Hainaut, where he continued a hopeless lunatic until his death, which did occur in 1389.

It was thought that the remorse which William V endured for his conduct towards his mother, was the occasion of this calamity but as he is represented to have been naturally of a fierce and cruel disposition, it is probable that the seeds of his malady had always lurked in his constitution.

William V and his father Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria, had declared Albert (1336-1404), younger brother of the William V, heir to the County, if he should die without issue, the government in the present case appeared naturally to devolve on him, as standing next in succession.

The Cods (Delft), however, thinking that Albert was inclined to the party of the Hooks (Dordrecht), and that they should consequently be deprived of the authority which now rested wholly in their hands, used their utmost efforts to obtain the nomination of Matilda, Countess of Lancaster, the wife of William V to the regency, although, their principal objection against the government of the late Countess Margareth, had been the dislike they felt to be ruled by a woman, which was called "vervrouwd".

As, however, they found it impossible to sustain the claims of Matilda upon any plausible ground, since she was a foreigner, and had no children to succeed, they yielded to the wishes of the nation in general, and acknowledged Albert as governor in 1359, securing a pension of 12,000 schilds to the Countess Matilda.

On assuming the administration, Albert pledged himself to govern during his brother's incapacity, with the assistance of the "good towns" and according to the advice of those whom he and the good towns should appoint and to do justice in all cases according to the laws and customs of the land.

Albert of Bavaria Governor (Ruwaard) of Holland , Zealand and Friesland

Albert of Bavaria 1336-1404, Duke of Bavaria-Straubing, Ruwaard 1358-1389, Count of Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland and Friesland 1389-1404

Albert de Bavaria

Duke Albert I or Albrecht (July 25, 1336, Munich – December 13, 1404, The Hague) was a feudal ruler of the Counties of Holland, Hainaut, and Zeeland in the Low Countries. Additionally, he held a portion of the Bavarian province of Straubing.

Albert was the third son of Empress Margareth, daughter of William III, Count of Holland and Hainaut, from her marriage with Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor. He was only 10 years old when his father died, leaving most of his Bavarian inheritance to his eldest half-brother, Louis V, Duke of Bavaria.

Albert married in Passau, July 19, 1353, Margaret of Brieg from Silesia (1342/43 – 1386), and had seven children :

  1. Katharina (c. 1361 – 1400, Hattem), married in Geertruidenberg in 1379 William I of Gelders and Jülich
  2. Johanna (c. 1362 – 1386), wife of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans
  3. Margaret (1363 – January 23, 1423, Dijon), married in Cambrai in 1385 John the Fearless
  4. William VI, Count of Holland (1365–1417)
  5. Albert II, Duke of Bavaria-Straubing (1369 – January 21, 1397, Kelheim)
  6. Joanna Sophia (c. 1373 – November 15, 1410, Vienna), married on June 15, 1395 Albert IV, Duke of Austria
  7. John, Count of Holland (1374/76 – 1425), Bishop of Liège

He also had several illegitimate children.

Albert contracted a second marriage in 1394 in Heusden with Margaret of Cleves (c. 1375 – 1412), sister of Adolph I, Duke of Cleves, but they had no children.

Ruwaard of Holland Zeeland and Friesland 1359-1389

1360 Albert's first care was to diminish somewhat of the power of the Cods, by bestowing the offices of the County upon the nobles of the Hook party, the principal of these, Reynold van Brederode, he invested with the office of Bailiff of Kennemerland, of which he deprived John van Blomestein, a Cod nobleman. On Reynold's first journey as bailiff through Kennemerland, he was attacked by a party of Cods, who lay in wait for him near Castrichem, three of his retinue were killed, and he escaped with his life only by taking sanctuary in the church of the village.

1361 Immediately after this outrage, the Cods shut themselves up in the fort of Heemskerk, where they maintained a siege of eleven weeks, chiefly by the assistance of the citizens of Delft, who themselves broke out into open rebellion, chose Henry van Woerden, Gilbert van Nyenrode, with other nobles, as their leaders, and making an irruption into the Hague, threw open all the prisons, and carried the inmates with them back to Delft.

Albert was at that time in Zealand, but on the news of these commotions, repaired immediately to Holland, raised a general levy of troops, and laid siege to Delft. The citizens withstood the powerful force which he brought against them in person, for the space of more than ten weeks. At length they were obliged to surrender, on condition that the town should pay a fine of 40,000 schilds, that its walls should be thrown down, and that the inhabitants should humbly sue for pardon, from which their leaders and the strangers found among them were excluded. Only one of the nobles, Henry van Woerden, suffered death, the rest made their escape to Heusden, which they held out during a twelvemonth, and, in fine, obtained a pardon, on promise of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

1364 Edward III of England, although he had acknowledged William V as Count of Holland, Zealand, Hainaut, and Friesland, perhaps from his being too much engaged in the wars with France to enforce his pretensions, was yet so far from having surrendered the claim of his wife Philippa, that, after her death, which happened in 1364, he bestowed the portion to which she was entitled on his son Edmund (1341-1402), Earl of Cambridge, between whom and Margaret (1348-1405), daughter of Louis II of Male, Count of Flanders, a negotiation of marriage was then on foot.

It was upon the knowledge of this fact, probably, that Albert summoned an assembly of the nobles and towns at Geertruydenberg, and obtained from them a decree, that the late Queen of England had no right to any portion of Holland, which being one undivided County, had lawfully devolved upon Count William, in right of his mother, and upon himself as governor.

1366 Fortified with this declaration, and provided with full powers from the towns, Albert set out for the court of England, accompanied by several nobles in order to terminate the affair, which, nevertheless, was not done until six years after. The good fortune that had hitherto attended the arms of Edward III in France, had then so far deserted him, that he was no longer in a condition voluntarily to provoke an enemy, or lose an ally and he therefore gratified the Governor of Holland by a final surrender of all claims in right of his wife, to a share in the inheritance of William V.

After his return in Holland Albert, to further develop Holland as an independent state and to further expend the trade with Germany, France, Flanders and England, Albert ordered to establish "The Mint of Holland". At that time Dordrecht was the most important trade centre of Holland and The Good Towns decided to choice Dordrecht as the seat of The Mint.

1375 In Dordrecht the first coins were stamped at the Mint for use in the Lowlands, Burgundy, Germany and England and the Florin, or Guilder (Gulden), was stamped for the first time and would be in use until 2002 when the Euro was introduced.

Civil war in Flanders 1379-1382

1379 Although the continual struggles between Holland and Flanders had now ceased, the former found herself still involved in the affairs of her former enemy, though in the midst 1370s a somewhat different manner and, on the present occasion, the feelings of the people and government were arrayed in opposition to each other.

The extravagance and rapacity of Louis II of Male (1330-1384), Count of Flanders (1346-1384), had excited discontent and hatred among his subjects, especially the inhabitants of Ghent, who, weary of his extortions, at length flatly refused to contribute another farthing. The Count, deeply offended, quitted Ghent, and retired to Bruges, the inhabitants of which town having accommodated him with a moderate sum, obtained permission to dig a canal from the river Leys, above Ghent, to Bruges.

To these causes of discontent was added the imprisonment of a burgess of Ghent by the court's bailiff in contravention of the privileges of the city. Irritated by these circumstances, the Ghenters broke out into hostilities assumed the white hood the usual insignia of revolt drove the pioneers from the canal at Bruges; murdered the Count's bailiff, who, with two hundred men, had been sent to arrest the ringleaders and plundered and burnt Adeghem, a favorite Country residence of Louis II, near Ghent.

1380 From this beginning, the revolt soon extended itself to the other towns, the burghers chose leaden from among themselves, and, under their command, laid siege to Oudenarde, and made an assault on Dendermonde, which still continued faithful to the Count. They were foiled in the latter enterprise by the courage and conduct of Theodore van Brederode, a Holland nobleman, whom Louis II had placed in command of the garrison but the siege of Oudenarde in 1381 lasted until a compromise was effected between the Count and his subjects, which, however, was soon broken, and Louis II, in 1982, having subdued Courtray and Ypres, laid siege to Ghent.

Albert of Holland constantly supported the cause of Louis II of Flanders, and afforded him such assistance as he was able, which nevertheless was but trifling, since he himself was cut of from funds because the "good towns" of Holland and Zealand, with Dordrecht at their head, were unwilling to spend any money in oppressing the insurgents of Ghent with the argument that the good relations with the cities in Flanders and Brabant were of more importance.

1381 In defiance of his express prohibition, he continued during the whole war to send them stores of provision, ammunition, and other necessaries, especially during the siege of Ghent, when the inhabitants, having secured the conveyance by water from Holland and Zealand, received from thence regular supplies of meal and bread, when shut out by the besieging army from the resources of their own Country. But their aid, however liberally afforded, was insufficient to prevent scarcity among the immense multitude collected within the walls of the town and it became at last so excessive, that the men of Ghent besought the mediation of Joanna (1322-1406), Duchess of Brabant (1355-1406) and Albert of Holland, to procure peace and pardon from their sovereign.

Six of their number, therefore, with the ambassadors of the two princes, repaired for this purpose to Louis II, at Bruges, who, well knowing the straits to which the town was reduced, haughtily replied, that "he would consent to no peace unless the whole population, both male and female, from the age of fifteen to sixty, came out to meet him on the road to Bruges, barefoot and bareheaded, with halters about their necks, when he would pardon or put them to death, according to his pleasure.

This answer being reported to the citizens, it was determined to select five thousand of their choicest troops, and to send them, under the command of Philip van Artevelde (1340-1382), to attack the Count in Bruges. They accordingly marched thither, when Louis II no sooner heard of their approach, than he collected his troops, to the number of forty thousand, among whom were eight hundred lances, and advanced about a league beyond the town to give them battle.

The host of enemies in front, with ruin and starvation behind, gave to the Ghenters the courage of despair, at the first fierce onset, they drove back the citizens of Bruges, the lances, though composed of the flower of the nobility and knights of Flanders, made not the smallest resistance, the flight soon became universal. The Count, with about forty more, hurried back to Bruges, closely pursued by the Ghent men, who entered at the same time with the fugitives, and speedily made themselves masters of the city of Bruges. Count Louis II himself escaped capture only by means of a poor woman, who concealed him in her hut, whence he fled in disguise, and by night, to Lille (Rijssel), in Brabant.

The battle of Rosebeke 1382

1382 After this victory, all the towns in Flanders, except Oudenaarde and Dendermonde, submitted to the Ghenters. In this distress, Louis was forced to supplicate the aid of his liege lord, Charles VI (1368-1422), King of France (1380-1422), who, at the age of fourteen, marched into Flanders in person, at the head of a powerful army, and defeated the insurgents in a battle near Roosebeke, where their leader, Philip van Artevelde, was slain. This event restored, in some measure, the affaire of Louis II but the Ghenters obtaining not long after the assistance of a large body of English troops, under the command of the Bishop of Norwich, Louis II was unable to effect the pacification of his states during his lifetime, he died in 1384.

1383 The Weavers of Ghent (the progenitors of the revolt), an important group of merchants fled their city and settled in the trade centre of Holland, Dordrecht and they founded the famous Gothic Market Hall of Dordrecht, this market was used for the wool trade and would be used until the 16th century, from 1544 to present it is in use as the Town Hall of Dordrecht.

Rise of the house of Valois (Burgundy) in the Southern-Lowlands (Flanders and Artois)

1384 Louis II's death, which happened in January, 1384, made way for the succession of Philip II "the Bold" (1342-1404), Duke of Burgundy in right of his wife, Margaret III (1350-1405), Countess of Flanders (1384-1405), the only legitimate child of Count Louis II, to the Counties of Flanders and Artois and these rich and flourishing provinces thus became a portion of the Burgundian state.

Count Margaret III was heiress to the duchy of Brabant, through her aunt, Joanna, the present Duchess, (widow, of William IV. of Holland, and afterwards of Wenceslaus of Luxemburg) who, in order to extend still further the influence of her family in the Lowlandss, labored effectually to promote an union between the houses of Burgundy and Holland.

1385 Through her means, a double marriage was concluded between William (1365-1417), Count of Oostervant, who later became Count of Holland and Zealand in 1404, eldest son of Count Albert of Holland, and Margaret (1374-1441), daughter of Philip II of Burgundy and between John "the Fearless" (1371-1414), eldest son of the Duke of Burgundy, and Margaret (1363-1423), daughter of Count Albert. Their weddings, attended by King Charles VI of France in person, were celebrated at Cambray, in a style of unparalleled magnificence.

After his accession to the County of Flanders, Philip of Burgundy made a reconciliation with his new subjects, granting to the citizens of Ghent full pardon and restitution of all their franchises and immunities, on condition only of their return to obedience.

Albert sides to the Cods party

1386 The marriage of William and Margaret was followed early in the next spring by the death of their mother, Margaret (1342-1386), daughter of the Duke of Brieg, in Silesia, an event which caused a great change in the state of parties, and much confusion in Holland. Albert, after the loss of his wife, formed an illicit connection with Alice van Poelgeest, the daughter of a nobleman of the Cod party, whose youth, beauty, and insinuating manners, soon gained such an ascendancy over the mind of her lover, that the whole court was henceforward governed according to her caprices.

The Cod party, in consequence, daily increased in power and influence, to the great dissatisfaction of the Hook nobles, now long accustomed to enjoy alone the favor and Countenance of their sovereign; and instigated at once by ambition and revenge they resolved upon a deed of horror and blood, to which, it is said, the Hooks induced Albert's son William van Oostervant to lend his assistance.

1390 A number of them assembled at the Hague, where the Lady Alice was then residing at the court-house, and on the night of the 21st of August forced their way, completely armed, into her apartment. On their entrance, William Kuser, the Count's steward, threw himself before them to defend the terrified girl from their violence. He was slaughtered on the spot; and, a moment after, Alice herself fell dead, and covered with wounds, at their feet.

The murderers betook themselves to flight. However Albert was deeply grieved, but did not take action against the Hooks and he took no measures to bring them to justice until he was urged by the importunate solicitations of Conrad Kuser, the father of the murdered man, when he at length determined to cite the Hook nobles, to the number of fifty-four, who were supposed to have had a share in the transaction, before the supreme court of Holland.

1394 As not one appeared, their lives and estates were declared forfeit. William van Oostervant repeatedly besought his father to pardon the criminals but, finding him deaf to his intreaties, William retired in anger to the fortress of Altena, and thence to the court of France, whither he had been summoned to do homage for the County of Oostervant.

War with Friesland

1395 Duke Philip II advised William of Oostervant to seek a reconciliation with his father, by proposing an expedition into Friesland, that he might at once avenge the death of his uncle Count William IV, and re-conquer his inheritance; an enterprise which the present condition of Friesland rendered it highly probable would be successful. Since the death of William IV (1345), the Counts of Holland had not attempted to interfere in the government of Friesland, or even to get themselves acknowledged as lords of it.

1396 In Holland, two factions had sprung up of the nobles and people, analogous to those of the Cods and Hooks which persecuted each other with unrelenting fury. Albert, therefore, was readily induced to favor the designs of his son William of Oostervant, and to entrust to him the conduct of the proposed expedition against Friesland, he solicited succors from France and England, who each sent a body of troops to his aid, the former under the command of the Count Waleren de St. Pol, the latter under the Earl of Cornwall, these joined the army of Holland, strengthened still further by a number of German auxiliaries at Enkhuysen.

From hence the allied troops set sail on the 22nd of August 1296 in a fleet of four thousand and forty ships, and arrived in safety and good order at the Kuinder, where the landing was to be effected. The Frieslanders, meanwhile, had not neglected to take measures for their defense, they made an alliance with the Bishop of Utrecht, preventing by this means the passage of the Holland troops into their Country by land and assembled together in arms the number of thirty thousand men.

The Frieslanders however refused to follow the wise counsel of one of the chiefs of their nobility Juwo Juwinga, who advised that they should shut themselves up in their fortresses, allowing the enemy to land unmolested, and to waste their strength in sieges, when hunger would soon compel their retreat out of a Country totally destitute of the means of supporting so vast a multitude.

Heedless of his monition, the Frieslanders advanced to meet the invaders in three divisions, and declaring that they would prefer to die "free Frieslanders" rather than submit to a foreign master, they determined to make their stand at the dyke nearest the landing-place. They were full of spirit and courage but being ill armed, and clad only in coats of leather or coarse cloth, they were ill able to withstand the well-tempered weapons and heavy armor of their enemies, who were said, moreover, to have amounted to one hundred and eighty thousand strong.

In spite of these disadvantages, they maintained a fierce and obstinate contest for some hours, fourteen hundred were slain, and the rest forced to take flight, numbers more perished in the pursuit, in which only fifty were made prisoners, since they persisted to the last in their resolution rather to die than yield.

The victorious army carried fire and sword through the Country, but on the other hand suffered much injury from the frequent skirmishes in which they were engaged by the Frieslanders, until the approach of the rainy season obliged them to retire into winter quarters, they carried with them the body of Count William IV, which had been taken up from the place of its sepulture. Count Albert was, for the time, acknowledged Lord of Friesland.

1398 Little more than a year elapsed, however, before the Frieslanders again threw off their forced subjection, surprised Staveren, and forced the garrison to evacuate. At the same time, the people of the Ommeland of Groningen made a treaty of union with the town, one of the articles of which purported, that they should mutually assist each other to keep the Hollanders out of their Country. From henceforward Groningen and the Ommeland remained permanently united.

1400 William of Oostervant once more conducted an army into Friesland, and forced the inhabitants to do homage to his father, and to promise a subsidy of sixpence for every house but no sooner had he departed than they again revolted and at length Count Albert found himself obliged to make a truce with them for six years, without insisting upon their acknowledgment of him as lord of Friesland.

Stadtholder John, Lord of Arkel

1401 John, Lord of Arkel, had long filled the office of Stadtholder of Holland, Zealand, and Friesland, as well as that of treasurer of the Count's private domains, without having given any account of his administration of the revenues. This was now sharply demanded of him by the Count but Arkel, a man of an ambitious and insolent temper, instead of obeying, declared war against his sovereign, and endeavored to take by surprise the strong frontier town of Oudewater but failed in this attempt, them he made an irruption into Krimpen whence he returned with considerable booty to Gorinchem, a town confided to his government by Albert some time before.

1403 The warfare had lasted two years, rather to the advantage of John of Arkel, when William, of Oostervant, himself took the command of an army, composed of native troops and auxiliaries from England, Cleves, and Utrecht, for the raising of which the towns once more contributed funds, and laid siege to Gorinchem. Although the immense number of his soldiers enabled him to surround the town entirely, and cut off all communication from without he could not, after a blockade of twelve weeks, force it to a surrender.

He therefore listened to the terms of accommodation proposed by the mediation of his brother, John III "the Pitiless" (1374-1425), Bishop elect of Liege (1389-1418), that John van Arkel should retain all his possessions, but be obliged to sue for pardon on his knees, and permit the Count's flag to wave a whole day on the tower of Arkel. As Arkel's principal object was to evade the inspection of his accounts, he gladly acceded to any terms of which that was not made a condition.

Albert's latter years

Despite outbreaks from time to time of the Hook and Cods troubles, Albert was able to make his authority respected, and to help forward in many ways the social progress of the Country. The influence of the towns was steadily on the increase, and their government began to fall into the hands of the burgher Patrician class in the cities who belonged to the Cod party, opposed to them were the Nobility and the lower classes, belonging to the Hook party.

In Albert's latter years a fresh outbreak of civil war (1392-1395) was caused by the Counts espousing the side of the Cods, while the Hooks had the support of his eldest son, William. Albert was afterwards reconciled to his son.

1404 This was the last event of importance which occurred under Count Albert's administration. He died on the 15th of December, at the age of sixty-seven, having governed the County for forty-six years, first as Ruwaard, then as Count. His son William of Oostervant succeeded him as Count William VI of Holland, as William IV of Hainaut, as William V of Zealand, and as Duke William II of Bavaria-Straubing.

William VI 1345-1417, as William II Duke of Bavaria-Straubing, as Count William IV of Hainaut, as Count William V of Zeeland and as William VI Count of Holland and Friesland 1404-1417

Guillaume IV de Hainaut

William was the eldest son of Albrecht of Bavaria and Margaret of Brieg, he was born in 1365, he married in c. 1400 with Margaretha of Burgundy (1374-1441) the daughter of Duke Philips "the Bold" (1342-1404), they had only one child :

  1. Jacqueline (Jacoba), born 16 August 1401

As William had for along period before his father's death performed all the more active functions of the government, it might have been supposed that his accession to the title of Count would have caused little or no change in the state of affairs, nevertheless, the animosities between the Cod and Hook parties, which appeared to have been mitigated for a few years, now revived with increased fury. The Cods had regained their ascendancy with the rise of Alice van Poelgeest, and though many of the Hook nobles, suspected of a knowledge or participation in her murder, had been included in the reconciliation between William and Albert in 1395, they were never admitted to any share of power. On his accession to power William upheld the Hooks, and secured their ascendancy over the Cods party.

The Hooks, by the favor of Count William, were advanced to offices in the County, and to a participation in the government of the towns, which the Cods being as unwilling to lose as the Hooks were eager to obtain, for neither party yielded to the other in cupidity or ambition, their rivalry caused violent commotions in several towns, particularly Delft, Haarlem, and Amsterdam, where a number of the most respectable burghers lost their lives.

The Hooks and Cods struggles in Dordrecht

1405 Dordrecht narrowly escaped a general massacre. Half of the senate of this town was changed on a certain day in every year, the Count appointing the new members from a double number, nominated by the great council of forty, but this year, William VI, fearing lest any change might be the occasion of disturbances, left the same magistrates in office, a proceeding as yet unheard of in the towns. The majority of the members of the senate at that time were of the Cod party, and, after this unexpected mark of favor from their Count, they began to guide affairs entirely according to their pleasure, and to exercise acts of oppression on the Hooks.

This excited murmurs of discontent among the people, mostly inclining to the Hooks, and they took occasion to present frequent petitions for the reformation of abuses, which they alleged to exist, a course of conduct so deeply resented by the cods, that, with a view of keeping the citizens in check, they passed a resolution in the senate, that a fort should be erected within the walls of the town. The burghers, hardly [believing they would carry so bold a measure into execution, made no movement, but quietssly allowed it to be finished, provided with ammunition, and garrisoned with the adherents of the Cod party.

Numbers of the people then assembled in arms around the fort, and were no sooner perceived by the Cods within, than with a loud shout of " Assault, assault!" they sent a shower of arrows among them. The burghers in return attacked the fort with such vigor, that they forced the Cods to evacuate it, and retreat on every side. Many of both parties were killed but the leaders of the Hooks stopped the slaughter upon the retreat of their adversaries, securing only the persons of their chiefs.

The Bailiff and Treasurer of South Holland, the Schout of Dordrecht, two Burgomasters, and four Sheriffs, all Cods, were committed to the city prison where they remained for some time in considerable danger of being sacrificed to the popular vengeance. On the arrival of Count William VI to appease the tumult, he testified high disapprobation of these lawless proceedings but at the same time appointed new magistrates, and gave the senate permission to banish a certain number of persons from Holland. The remainder of the Cods effected a reconciliation with the new government early in the following year, and peace was by degrees restored to Dordrecht.

In the meantime, John the Lord of Arkel, dreading, probably, that he should now be forced to surrender his accounts, again took up arms, and made himself master of Woudrichem, which he plundered and burnt. But John of Arkel having besieged and taken his forts of Gaspen and Everstein, repaired for assistance to Reynold IV, Duke of Guelders (1402-1423), whose sister he had married and, in order to bind him, more closely to his interests, he surrendered to him his Lordship of Arkel in 1407, on condition that it should never be dismembered from the Duchy of Guelderland. Arkel shared the usual fate of the feeble who seek the protection of the powerful.

The disturbed state of the towns was not the only difficulty with which William had to contend in the first years of his government. His reign was much troubled with civil discords, but he was a brave soldier, and was generally successful in his enterprises.

The war of succession for the French crown

1406 William VI, had formed an alliance between his only daughter, Jacoba or Jacqueline (1401-1436), and John (1398-1417), Duke of Touraine, dauphin of France, son of King Charles VI (1368-1422) of France, and involved him in some degree in the cabals of the French court.

The insanity of King, Charles VI, most probably schizophrenia, and the weak and vicious character of his wife Queen, Isabella of Bavaria (1370-1435), had rendered the royal authority in France utterly inefficient, giving unrestrained license to the ambition of the nobles, and leaving the kingdom a prey to the fury of the rival factions, so celebrated in history, of Burgundy and Orleans.

It was during the ascendancy of Queen Isabella that her son John, Duke of Touraine, and second son of the King of France, had been betrothed to Jacoba of Holland, niece of John "the Fearless" Duke of Burgundy. John had, since that time, resided chiefly with his future father-in-law but owing to the youth of the parties, the marriage was not completed until 1415, when Jacoba was declared heir to Hainaut, Holland, and Friesland; which, after the death of William, were to be governed by her husband John, Duke of Touraine, and to descend undivided to the eldest son, or, in default of heirs male, to the eldest daughter, of this marriage. The ancient laws, privileges, and customs of Hainaut and Holland were to be preserved unimpaired, and no offices conferred on foreigners.

1407 The internal politics of the bishopric of Liege were more than problematic, the powerful guilds of the city seeking to take control of the government, simulating the cities in Flanders and Holland. The bishops were forced to give up many of their powers until John of Bavaria, younger brother of William VI, became bishop. He refused outright, and on the contrary sought to re-establish many of the old Episcopal rights. He was driven out of the city of Liege, and sought refuge in Maastricht, the only city to remain loyal to him.

The battle of Othee 1408

1408 The Liegois, however, were baying for his blood, and they laid siege to Maastricht twice, first in 1407 (24 November-7 January), and again in 1408 (31 May-22 September). Both sieges were unsuccessful.

In August 1408, John II "the Fearless" (1371-1419), Duke of Burgundy (1404-1419) marched from Flanders and joined with the Count of Namur, together they entered the lands of Liege near Dinant. Count William VI of Holland also came with an army, but as his forces came from the north (Holland), his men were not united with those of John II of Burgundy. Anthony (1384-1415), Duke of Brabant (1406-1415), brother of Duke John II, was not officially at war with the Liegois, yet he kept a strategic reserve at the borders of Brabant and Liege in case his brother needed his assistance.

On 22th September, the Duke of Burgundy and his army approached Liege, Henri of Perwez, leader of the Liegois, abandoned the siege of Maastricht and immediately headed back to Liege, taking with him all the men at his disposal. His first stop was at Liege itself, where he left his wounded men behind and replenished his ranks with reserves and inexperienced raw recruits.

The following day the Liegois marched out of their city, towing along their mighty artillery train, in the hopes of surprising their enemies off-guard. They were unlucky, the forces of Hainaut-Holland had already joined up and were ready for battle. The open plains and fields of the area could not hide the rebel force, and they realized they could not return to Liege and took up a defensive position. The Liegois were attacked and were totally defeated. The bloody battle of Othee (near Tongeren, Tongres) became a great military victory for the Bishop and his allies.

Relations with Guelders

1412 After some ineffective hostilities during the last years Duke Reynold IV of Guelders and Count William VI of Holland agreed to a truce, which was followed by a treaty of peace, wherein the interests of Arkel were wholly sacrificed. Reynold of Guelders surrendered Gorinchem and the Lordship of Arkel to the Count of Holland for 100,000 French crowns, on condition that the castle of Ayen, and the Lordship of Born, should be conferred on William, son of the Lord of Arkel, with a pension of five thousand guilders during his life.

This treaty was concluded, as may be supposed, without the intervention or consent of the Lord of Arkel, who was then in Brabant. He was afterwards seized by the Lord of Zevenbergen, and brought prisoner to the Hague: thence he was conducted to Gouda, and finally to Zevenbergen, where he remained in confinement until 1426, when he was released, and died not long after.

War with Friesland

The Hollanders, under the government of William VI, entirely lost their footing in Friesland, Staveren only had remained in the actual possession of the Count, by the truce made between Albert and the Frieslanders in the year 1400. The truce had since been renewed from time to time, and the last, made in 1412, now drew to a close.

1414 The Frieslanders, observing that but negligent watch was kept by the garrison of Staveren, suddenly surprised the city, drove out the Holland troops, and forced them to evacuate the whole province. William, enraged as he might have been at this loss, made no attempt to repossess himself of Staveren but, on the contrary, concluded a truce with the Frieslanders, who thus at length found themselves free from all foreign dominion.

1415 By the death of his elder brother, Louis (1397-1415), Duke of Guyenne, without issue,  John, Duke of Touraine, husband of Jacoba, succeeded a few months after to the title of Dauphin, and thus became heir-apparent to the French crown. Immediately upon that event, ambassadors were dispatched to Hainaut to invite him to the court of his father, but the state of France was not such as to induce Count William VI to risk the safety of the young prince, the husband of his only child Jacoba, by sending him thither.

That Country, besides being desolated by civil dissensions, was now engaged in a dangerous and ruinous war with Henry V (1386-1422), King of England (1413-1422), nine thousand of her bravest knights lay dead on the field of Agincourt (1412), and the hope of arresting the progress of the conqueror appeared almost chimerical. The Orleans faction had now entire possession of the courts and viewed both William and the young dauphin with dislike and suspicion, on account of their close connection with the Duke of Burgundy.

These feelings were still further increased on finding that the deputies sent by the Duke of Burgundy to Valencienne, during the stay of the French Ambassadors there, had been admitted to more than one secret conference with the Count, while the latter were obliged to content themselves with a public audience. In consideration of these circumstances, William persisted in retaining the dauphin under his own protection.

1416 While matters were thus pending, King Sigismund (1368-1437) of Germany, later Emperor, arrived at Dordrecht, on his way from the court of Paris to that of London, whither he was accompanied by the Count of Holland, for the purpose of negotiating in concert a peace between France and England and Sigismund further would solve the problems with Friesland regarding their independence from Holland.

King Sigismund had never been sincere in his endeavors to effect a reconciliation, or that, finding it impossible to bring the belligerents to reasonable terms, he thought it best, considering the enfeebled and distracted condition of France, to consult his own interest by siding with the stronger, he abandoned ere long the character of mediator, and concluded with England a treaty of alliance against France. William, disgusted at this selfish policy, abruptly left England, without waiting for the emperor, having succeeded only in effecting a truce between England and France for five months, which was afterwards prolonged.

Repose being thus for a season secured to France from without, William determined to use his endeavors to allay the distractions prevailing within the kingdom. He therefore yielded to the reiterated solicitations of the French ambassadors, and conducted the Dauphin as far as Compeigne, he himself proceeding to Paris to arrange the terms of his reception. After long contestations with the members of the Orleans faction in that court, William declared, formally, that the young prince should either come to court in company with the Duke of Burgundy, or return immediately to Hainuat.

1417 The Frieslanders obtained in 1417 from King Sigismund of Germany a charter, confirming the entire independence of their state. William VI was the less inclined to undertake any expedition into Friesland.

William's reign was marked by internal strife within the County of Holland. In particular, Lord John of Arkel supported William's enemies in Holland. Arkel became a part of Holland in 1412 at which point John accepted his defeat at the hands of William. The herring fishery, a source of such immense national wealth to Holland, began rapidly to increase. In 1414, Jacob Beukelson, of Beervlietss, discovered the new and excellent method still in use, of drying and barreling herrings, and two years after, the first large herring sein was manufactured at Hoorn.

Prior to his death, William ensured his nobles swore allegiance to his only daughter, Jacoba (Jacqueline). However, on William's death in 1417, a war of succession broke out between his brother John, Bishop of Liege and his daughter Jocoba (Jacqueline) of Hainaut.

He died in 1417 of a dog bite, leaving an only child, a daughter, Jacqueline (or Jacoba), who had in her early youth been married to John, heir to the throne of France. At a gathering held at  The Hague (August 15, 1416) the nobles and representatives of the cities of Holland and Zeeland had promised at Williams request to support his daughters claims to the succession. But John of France died (April 1417), and William VI about a month later, leaving the widowed Jacqueline at 17 years of age face to face with a difficult situation.

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