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The history of Dordrecht part 5




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


Part 5


From the year 1417 to 1436



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 1417-1436


Coat of arms of Holland-Bavaria

The death of William VI left the government of the County in the hands of his young and widowed daughter, who had barely attained the age of seventeen. Yet, endued with understanding far above her years and a courage uncommon to her sex, joined to the most captivating grace and beauty, the Countess had already secured the respect and affection of her subjects, which, after her accession, she neglected no method to retain, by confirming everywhere their ancient charters and privileges and the Hollanders might have promised themselves long years of tranquility and happiness under her rule, had it not been for the unprincipled ambition of her paternal uncle, John of Bavaria, surnamed the Ungodly, because he constantly refused to receive priest's orders as bishop elect of Liege.

He forgot the debt of gratitude he owed his late brother William, as to endeavor to deprive his only daughter Jacoba of her inheritance. Being resolved to abandon the spiritual condition, and procure himself to be acknowledged as Governor of Holland, he repaired to Dordrecht, where he had many partisans, and was proclaimed there, as well as at Briel, in the lordship of Voorne, this estate having been conferred on him by the late Count.

Jacoba or Jacqueline 1401-1436, Duchess of Bavaria, Count of Hainaut, Halland and Zeeland 1417-1433


Jacoba, or Jacqueline was born on 15 August 1401,she was the only daughter of William VI, Duke of Bavaria and Count of Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut and Margaretha of Burgundy, daughter of Duke Philips "the Bold".

Jacoba was at first a friendly but short tempered woman who became the victim of her time though she became a cruel ruler without scrupulous, prepared to remove her opponents mercilessly.

She was only 13 years of age when she was married, 6 August 1415, to John (1398-1417), Duke of Touraine, second son of Charles VI (1368-1422), king of France (1380-1422), who on the death of his elder brother Louis (1397-1415) became dauphin. John of Touraine died in April 1417 (of an abscess in his neck, though he was rumored to have been poisoned), and two months afterwards Jacoba lost her father (31 May).

Struggles for the succession of power in Holland and Zealand

1417 After her fathers dead she went to Holland, on 22 June Jacoba arrived at The Hague and was after some discussions, acknowledged as Countess of Holland and Zealand by the nobles and the towns of Holland and Zealand who belonged to the Hook party (the small cities and petty nobility), the city of Dordrecht, who was not present at the event, because the city had changed to the Cods party some years before and was obliged to her uncle John III of Bavaria because Dordrecht was of meaning that Jacoba was to young (only 16 years of age) to govern the County.

All the other towns, however, both of Holland and Zealand, and whether espousing the Hook or Cod party, refused to acknowledge John III of Bavaria. Having, therefore, made a league with William van Arkel and John van Egmond and with their assistance possessed himself of Gorinchem. On this commencement of hostilities by her uncle, Jacoba assembled her troops, obtained some auxiliaries from Utrecht and Amersfoort, and placing herself at their head recaptured Gorinchem, where, in a sharp enCounter, the followers of John were defeated, and William of Arkel, with more than a thousand men, were slain.

On the 10th of November 1417 Dordrecht (centre of the Cods party) acknowledged, as only city, John III of Bavaria as Ruwaard (Governor) of Holland and guardian of Jacoba. The schism between Countess Jacoba and Dordrecht became definitively when Jacoba openly declared Dordrecht her enemy on December,12, 1417.

1418 The presence of so formidable an enemy in her states, made it advisable that the young Countess should marry without delay. Her father had in his will named as her future husband, John IV (1403-1427),Duke of Brabant (1415-1427) eldest son of Anthony, late Duke of Brabant, and first cousin to Jacoba. Although she showed no inclination to the person of the young prince, the union was so earnestly pressed by her mother Margaret (1374-1441), sister of John "the Fearless", Duke of Burgundy, her uncle, that, a dispensation having been procured from the Pope, the parties were married at Beervlietss on 18 April.

As a result, the city of Dordrecht, Duke Philip III "the Good" (1396-1467), Duke of Burgundy (1419-1467) and a part of the Cods party acknowledged John of Bavaria as Count of Holland and Zealand and on April, 26, 1418 he was invested at Dordrecht. This would be the introduction to the last episode of the Hooks and Cods wars and finally placed Holland, Zealand and Hainaut into Burgundian hands.

John of Bavaria, to whom this marriage left no pretence for insisting on the regency, saw himself obliged either to resign altogether his claims to the government of Holland, or to adopt decisive measures for obtaining sole possession of it and as motives of ambition swayed him, far more than those of natural affection, he determined to thrust his niece from the seat of her fathers, and found means to induce Pope Martin V (1417-1431), and Emperor Sigismund to lend their aid to his project.

Both the Pope and the Emperor were at this time attending the Council of Constance, opened in 1414 for the purpose of reforming the church in its head and in its members, and of terminating the schism of double Popes, which had now lasted for thirty-six years. Thither, therefore, John sent a trusty ambassador, to resign his bishopric into the hands of the Pope, and to solicit in return a dispensation from holy orders, and liberty to enter the marriage state.

Pope Martin V consented without hesitation to his wishes, and a matrimonial alliance with Elizabeth of Luxemburg (1390-1451), widow of Anthony, Duke of Brabant, and niece to Emperor Sigismund, gained him the favor and support of the Emperor who declared the County of Holland and Zealand a fief reverted in default of heirs male to the empire, with which he invested John of Bavaria, commanding the nobility, towns and inhabitants in general, to acknowledge allegiance to him, and releasing them from the oaths they had taken to Jacoba and John IV of Brabant.

Upon the strength of the imperial mandate, John of Bavaria assumed the title of Count, and was acknowledged at Dordrecht but notwithstanding that he promised the towns an extension of their privileges, and among the most important, bound himself not to coin money without their advice and consent, he found none inclined to forsake their allegiance to the Countess Jacoba; they declared, on the contrary, that "the County of Holland and Zealand was no fief of the empire, nor was the succession in anywise restricted to heirs male".

So far from supporting the pretensions of John, the towns of Haarlem, Delft, and Leyden, had raised a loan for Jacoba of five hundred and thirty English nobles by the sale of annuities in Hainaut and, uniting their forces with those of the other large towns, laid siege to Dordrecht, the expedition being commanded by her husband, the young Duke John IV of Brabant. His troops were not in sufficient number to carry the town by assault, which was so plentifully stored and victualled, that, after a blockade of six weeks, he was obliged to abandon the undertaking from a scarcity of provisions in his own camp.

DSC 0041Commemorative stone originally from the in 1870 demolished Spui gate at the Westside of Dordrecht, since 1974 placed on the wall at the riverside of the Groothoofds gate at Dordrecht. The text reads as follows :

"In 1418 this city was besieged here by lofty powerful Duke Jan van Brabant but by the hand of God driven back roughly. Soli Deo Gloria"

The young Duke John VI and his wife Jocoba resided at Castle "Ter Merwede" (former Caste "Merwe") at Dordrecht (1418-1420), rebuild in 1307 and now owned by Theodore van der Merwede, a member of the Hooks party. After the siege of their city the inhabitants of Dordrecht destroyed the castle out of revenge and the fief became a stone-quarry for the city. The Castle was never rebuild again and the remains can still be seen today. Duke John VI and Jacoba fled to Brabant and Theodore van der Merwede fled to the citadel of Geertruydenberg. (By excavations at the spot were found many black arrows fired at the Castle).

Encouraged by this success, John III of Bavaria advanced to Rotterdam and took the city on October, 10, 1418, the capture of which John IV of Brabant found himself unable to prevent, and the former, in consequence, became master of a considerable portion of South Holland.

John III of Bavaria Count of South-Holland 1419-1426

John III Duke of Bavaria-Straubing

1419 John and Jacoba being precluded by this means from receiving succors from Brabant, consented to an accommodation under the mediation of Philip III 'the Good" (1397-1467), Count of Charolais and the future Count of Holland, son of Duke John "the Fearless" (Dutch Jan zonder vrees) (1371-1419), Duke of Burgundy 1404-1419, the Duke himself being at this time fully occupied with the affairs of France and England.

By the treaty now made, Rotterdam, Dordrecht, and Gorinchem, with a considerable portion of South Holland, were surrendered to John III of Bavaria, to hold as a fief of the Count and Countess of Holland in case Jacoba died without issue, John III of Bavaria was to be immediately put in possession of the whole, of her states. The treaty of partition was merely a truce, and the contest between uncle and niece soon began again and continued with varying success.

The government, moreover, was to be exercised in common by John III of Bavaria and John IV of Brabant for the next five years. The members of the council of state, and the treasurers of the County, the schouts and sheriffs of the towns, with the bailiffs of the open Country, were to be appointed by them jointly, taking the oath, nevertheless, to John IV of Brabant and Jacoba, who were likewise to enjoy alone the revenues of the Counties of Holland and Hainaut. John of Bavaria agreed on his side to surrender all right to the County founded upon any imperial or papal grant, in consideration of 100,000 English pounds to be paid in two years.

Although this treaty was, it should appear, sufficiently favorable to John III of Bavaria, he did not long adhere to its provisions, John and Jacoba moved to Brabant soon after, he took advantage of their absence to extend his authority in Holland, conferring upon his own adherents, chiefly members of the Cod party, all the public offices, without the intervention of either Duke John IV or Countess Jacoba.

Perceiving the course of conduct pursued by Count John III, Philip van Wassenaar, Burgrave of Leyden, and several others of the Hook nobles, made a league with the citizens of Utrecht and Amersfoort, and declared war against Count John III, and took possession of Rhynsburg and other forts belonging to the Cods. John III of Bavaria, upon these unexpected hostilities, repaired to Gouda to assemble his troops whence he advanced directly to the siege of Leyden, garrisoned by four or five hundred Utrechters in addition to the burgher guards.

1420 After a siege of about two months, provisions became scarce within the town, and the besieged, despairing of relief, since Duke John IV and Countess Jacoba were folly occupied in appeasing some disturbances which had arisen in Brabant, listened to the conditions offered them by Count John III and consented to receive him as Governor. Leyden, which until then had belonged to Burgraves of its own, as a fief of Holland, was henceforward annexed to the County, under the immediate rule of the sovereign.

Count John III, then, with the design of invading Brabant itself, marched to the frontier town of Geertruydenberg, which immediately opened its gates but the citadel, under the command of Theodore van der Merwede, held out for some days, and the delay occasioned by its reduction, though short, lost him the chance of conquering Brabant.

1421 The nobles of Brabant, dissatisfied with the administration of Duke John VI, a prince of slow understanding and addicted to indolent pleasures, summoned his brother Philip (1404-1430), Count of St. Pol from France, and conferred on him the office of Governor of the Duchy in 1421. This gave John III of Bavaria a far different antagonist to contend with. Philip, on his arrival, lost no time in collecting a force sufficient to oppose his purposed invasion and Count John III was able to execute nothing more in Brabant than to surprise and pillage Lillo and Zandvlietss.

The feeble John IV of Brabant, at variance both with his brother and his subjects, was reduced to make a treaty with his rival, whereby he ceded to him Holland, Zealand, and Friesland, for the space of twelve years and this conduct without bettering the condition of his affairs, served but to increase the dislike with which he had for some time been viewed by the Brabanters nor was this feeling manifested by them alone.

Through his incapacity, Jacoba now saw herself stripped of her fairest possessions, nor did there appear any security for her retaining the rest he, moreover, maintained an illicit relation with the daughter of a Brabant nobleman; and, with the petty tyranny which little minds are so fond of exercising, he forced her to dismiss all the Holland ladies from her service, and to fill their places with those of Brabant.

Jacoba, bred up from her infancy in Holland and Hainaut, was devotedly attached to her Country and people and this last act of injustice, on the part of her husband, increased the contempt and aversion with which she had long regarded him, to an uncontrollable degree. She secretly quitted the court and, accompanied by her mother, escaped by way of Calais to England, where she was courteously received by King Henry V of England.

At the end of the same year a disaster occurred which would have great impact on the further history of Holland and Zeeland and as special for Dordrecht, the Capital of Holland and its surroundings. During the night of 18th on 19th November 1421 a heavy storm at the North Sea coast caused the dikes to break in a number of places and the lower lying polder land of parts of Zeeland and the "Hollandsche Waard" at Dordrecht were flooded. A number of villages around Dordrecht were swallowed by the flood and were lost, causing the enormous quantity of about 6,000 casualties.

The result of this disaster was that Dordrecht lost his hinterlands and last but not least his importance as Capital of Holland, due to the fact that the city was fully surrounded by water, for decades, and could only be reached by water. Nevertheless the power of the city was not yet come to an end for the coming centuries. The whole story of the St. Elisabeth flood you can read on the St. Elisabeth flood page.

1422 In the winter of the same year, she held at the baptismal font the infant son of the king, afterwards Henry VI. Jacoba was now determined at all risks to procure the dissolution of the bonds that had become so odious to her and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (1390-1447), brother of the king, tempted by her large inheritance, and captivated by her personal charms, eagerly entered into a negotiation with her for a future matrimonial alliance which had been projected even before her flight from Brabant.

An almost insurmountable difficulty, however, presented itself, in the necessity of procuring a dispensation from the Pope. Martin V. had granted one three years before, against the wishes both of the emperor and John of Bavaria, for her marriage with John of Brabant and it appeared scarcely reasonable to ask him now to revoke it, when by so doing he must offend besides these princes, to whom her alliance with England would naturally be distasteful, the powerful Duke of Burgundy, who, in case Jacoba and John of Bavaria should die without issue, stood next in succession to the County.

Despairing, therefore, of success in this quarter, Humphrey and Jacoba applied to Benedict XIII., who had been deposed by the Council of Pisa in 1409, and was acknowledged only by the King of Arragon. Benedict, flattered with the recognition of his authority, and pleased with the opportunity of acting in opposition to his rival, readily granted a bull of divorce, which they pretended to have obtained from the legitimate Pope, and which Martin V. afterwards publicly declared to be fictitious.

Although such a divorce could not, by any means, be considered as valid, the marriage between the Duke of Gloucester and the Countess Jacoba was, nevertheless, solemnized in the end of the year 1422, having been somewhat delayed by the death of King Henry V. But the advantages accruing from it to either party by no means Counterbalanced the discreditable circumstances under which it was contracted.

Humphrey could not establish himself in the states of his wife, without the assistance of English troops and money but though he had been named, after the death of his brother, Protector of the kingdom, he found the people little inclined to make any sacrifice of either the one or the other to advance his private interests. They had now, during seven years, been engaged, with little cessation, in wars with France, which, although attended with brilliant successes, and the conquest of nearly the whole kingdom, inevitably proved an immense drain of men and treasure while the marriage of Jacoba with the Duke gave cause of offence to an important and useful ally of England (Burgundy).

1423 Philip "the Good" of Burgundy opposed the marriage of Jacoba and Humphrey because of his claims to the County of Holland in the highest degree. She had no children by the Duke of Brabant, nor did it appear probable that she ever would but her union with Humphrey might prove more fruitful, and the birth of a child effectually deprive Philip from the succession. He therefore complained of this step as of an affront offered to himself, to the Duke of Bedford, elder brother of Gloucester, and regent of France, who promised for his brother, that he should submit the question of the legality of his marriage to the decision of the Pope.

1424 He found Humphrey, however, determined to resign, on no consideration, either his wife or his claim to her states but having obtained for her an act of naturalization from the English parliament, together with subsidies of troops and money, he set out to Hainaut, where, Philip of Burgundy and John of Brabant being unprepared for resistance, the towns universally opened their gates to him. But a very short time elapsed before Philip Count of St. Pol assembled an army of Burgundians and Brabanters, who made themselves masters of Braine le Comte, where they put the English garrison to the sword.

Humphrey returned to England under pretext of making the necessary preparations, bat in reality, probably, from a conviction that he should not be able long to withstand the power of Burgundy (he would never return to Jacoba and stayed in England). He left Jacoba in Mons, she was delivered by the citizens of Mons into the hands of the Duke's deputies, and conducted to Ghent, to be detained there until the Pope should decide the question of her marriage.

1425 After remaining some little time in confinement, Jacoba escaped, in male disguise, to Antwerp, and resuming the attire of her sex, proceeded, with a considerable body of Hook nobles, to Dordrecht but she found the city unreachable because it was fully surrounded by water, due to the St. Elisabeth flood of 1421. Thence she proceeded to Woudrichem, which opened its gates to her, as well as Oudewater and Gouda. The citadel of Schoonhoven resisted for about six weeks and the army which the Hook nobles assembled to besiege it, but they were ultimately forced to surrender on conditions. Their lives and estates were granted to all the defenders except one, named Arnold Beiling, who was condemned to be buried alive, but besought a respite of one month to arrange his affairs, and take leave of his friends it was granted upon his word of honor alone, and he was permitted to depart without further security. He returned punctually at the time appointed, and the sentence was executed a short distance without the walls of the town.

1426 The death of Count John III "the Pitiless" of Bavaria, by poison, administered, as some say, at the instigation of the Countess-dowager Elisabeth of Luxembourg, others, by his steward, a knight of the Hook party, some months after the return of Jacoba to Holland, although it delivered her from an inveterate and powerful enemy, did not contribute to retrieve her fortunes.

John III had named Philip of Burgundy his heir in case he should die without issue, that ambitious prince now took advantage of the event to obtain from John IV of Brabant the title of governor and heir to the County of Holland, John himself retaining the name of Count, and being acknowledged as such by all the towns which had held to the party of John III of Bavaria. The Duke of Brabant confirmed the privileges of the nation, engaging that no offices should be given to strangers, and that no money should be coined without the consent of the council and the towns. He declared also, that no exiles of the Hook party should be permitted to return to their Country without permission from himself and his council. From this time he does not appear to have concerned himself in any way with the government of the County. He returned immediately after to Brabant, when Philip came into Holland, where he was acknowledged governor by the greater portion of the towns.

Countess Jacoba remained meanwhile at Gouda, where hearing that some towns of the Cod party, principally Haarlem, Leyden, and Amsterdam (Dordrecht was not present because the city was busy fighting the effects of the St. Elisabeth flood of 1421) had united their forces to besiege her, she obtained assistance from the Utrechters, who had always remained faithful to her cause, and advanced at the head of her troops to meet her enemies near Alpen, where she gained a considerable victory over them. This success was followed by the welcome news, that an English fleet had been equipped for her service by the Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, bringing five hundred choice land troops.

1427 It arrived, in effect, early in the next year at Schouwen, under the command of the Earl Fitzwalter, whom Humphrey had appointed his Stadtholder over Holland and Zealand. Philip "the Good", being then at Leyden, assembled an army of 4000 men, and sailed from Rotterdam to Brouwershaven, where the English, joined with the Zealanders of the Hook party, were encamped. Immediately on the landing of the Cods the troops came to a severe engagement, which lasted the whole day, and terminated to the disadvantage of the English and Hooks 1400 of the former, and some of the principal nobles of Zealand were slain Fitzwalter himself being forced to seek safety by flight.

This unfortunate encounter, Jacoba lost the whole of Zealand: nevertheless, she did not yield to despair, but taking advantage of the absence of Duke Philip from Holland, she engaged the men of Alkmaar, with the Kemmerlanders and West Frieslanders, to lay siege to Haarlem; this undertaking also was unsuccessful; but the Kemmerlanders made themselves masters of Enkhuyzen, Monnikendam, and several forts belonging to the Cod party, they attempted likewise to gain possession of Hoorn, but found this city determined to defend itself with the utmost vigor.

The animosity entertained by the burghers against Jacoba arose from a circumstance which affords but too strong evidence of the disregard into which, during this turbulent period, the numerous laws made to provide for the security of the subject had fallen. A young man, named John Lambertson, the son of Lambert Kuyf, burgomaster of Hoorn, happening to see the Countess at Gouda, incautiously observed, that it was a shame that so noble and lovely lady should be dragged hither and thither like a common woman.

This remark being repeated to Jacoba, the youth was seized, tried, and condemned to death by the supreme court of Holland. The unhappy father pleaded, in the most moving terms and with the offer of a large sum, for the life of his only son. He failed in obtaining a remission of the sentence but hopes were given him, that at the last hour, on the scaffold, a mandate would arrive from the Lady Jacoba to stay the execution. They proved delusive, and the sufferer was beheaded on the day appointed. The deep resentment which an act of such lawless cruelty excited in the breast of the father was shared by all the members of the government, who came to an unanimous resolution never, in any case, to acknowledge Jacoba as Countess.

The burghers, therefore, fortified their town, which as yet lay open, with astonishing rapidity, Lambert Kuyf applying to this purpose the whole of the money which he had offered for his son's ransom, and sent to demand assistance from Duke Philip against the Kemmerlanders. On the arrival of three hundred Picardins, under the command of Villiers de Lisle Adam, they attacked the besiegers in the suburbs of Hoorn, defeated, and put them to flight.

The loss of this battle and the advance of Philip in person did not permit Jacoba to continue any longer in North Holland. She therefore retreated once more to Gouda, when all the towns in that quarter opened their gates to Philip. The Hooks, exasperated at their defeat before Hoorn, vented their rage upon the town of Enkhuyzen having collected a few vessels, they surprised it as the burghers were engaged in their midday meal, seized more than a hundred of the principal persons and beheaded them. Under pretext of securing them from similar assaults in future, Philip placed foreign garrisons in the greater number of the towns, and erected a citadel at Hoorn.

The Dutch against foreign troops

The filling of the town with foreign soldiers, an act unprecedented in the history of the Country, was the first of those violent and unpopular measures pursued by Philip of Burgundy and his successors, which, in the next century, lost them so rich and fair a portion of their dominions.

It was followed by others no less inimical to the ancient customs and privileges of the people, the Kemmerlanders were punished for the support they had given to their lawful sovereign, by the forfeiture of their charters and immunities they were forbidden to assemble together for any cause, and to use any other arms than common knives without points the towns and villages which had adhered to Jacoba were condemned to pay a fine of 123,300 crowns within six months, and to be subject to a perpetual tax of four groots (halfpence) for every hearth. Alkmaar was to furnish 8000 crowns as its portion of the fine, to be deprived of its municipal government, and the citadel and walls to be razed to the ground.

The suspension of their privileges had before been inflicted on the Kemmerlanders by Count William III in 1324, and it appears that the Counts claimed the power of imposing this penalty on any sufficient cause of offence but that of fixing a permanent impost upon the inhabitants in general, or destroying the walls of the towns, had, on no occasion, been exercised by any of their sovereigns, and formed a precedent equally new and dangerous, disarming them too, was a mode of vengeance peculiarly offensive to a brave and spirited people, who were, moreover, bound by their laws to hold themselves in readiness for the defense of the Country. Even those towns which had been friendly to Philip, were obliged to contribute heavy "petitions" for the payment of his troops.

After the reduction of North Holland the Duke of Burgundy advanced to the siege of Zevenbergen, the frontier town of South Holland, on the side of Brabant. It was defended, during a considerable time, by the valor of Gerard von Stryen, its commander, but was at length forced to surrender and the Countess Jacoba found herself reduced to the possession only of Gouda, Schoonhoven, Oudewater, and Montfort. Her affairs were now in a desperate condition. The Pope had not only declared her marriage with the Duke of Brabant valid, but prohibited the contraction of any future marriage between her and the Duke of Gloucester, even after the death of John of Brabant, whose health and strength were rapidly decaying.

This event, which occurred within a short time from the issuing of the papal bull, and the intelligence that the English parliament had granted 20,000 marks expressly for her relief, inspired Jacoba with hopes, nevertheless, the Duke of Gloucester would lend effective aid towards reinstating her in possession of her inheritance and emboldened her to appeal to a general council of the Church against the decree of the Pope. But the Duke of Bedford having concluded a truce for his brother with the Duke of Burgundy, forbade him to go to Holland, and Humphrey himself showed no inclination to second the efforts of the Countess. In spite of her remonstrance, and of the reproaches of his own Countrywomen, he forsook his noble and highborn bride for the charms of Eleanor Cobharn, whom he now married, after her having lived with him some years as his mistress. Jacoba, conscious of possessing, besides her princely birth and rich estates, all the alluring attractions of her sex, was struck to the heart by this cruel and unlooked for desertion.

She remained shut up and inactive at Gouda, where she spent many long dreary months in constant expectation of a siege. It was delayed in consequence of the absence of the Duke of Burgundy in Flanders. At length, on his arrival before the walls, Jacoba and the Hook nobles, seeing no chance of defending themselves against a force so superior to their own, offered terms of compromise to the Duke, to which he readily listened, being indeed so favorable, that he could hardly desire more, even after the possession of Gouda.

By this treaty, Jacoba was to desist from her appeal to a council of the Church against the decree of the Pope to surrender her states to the administration of Philip as heir and governor, but retain the title of Countess, with an engagement not to contract another marriage without the consent of the Duke, of her mother, and of the three estates in which case, she was to resign, in favor of Philip, her claim to the allegiance of her subjects. The government of Holland, in the Duke's absence, was to be entrusted to nine councilors, of whom the Countess should name three, and the Duke the six others, three natives, and three from other parts of his dominions.

1428 The Duke was to have the sole nomination of all the higher offices, both in the towns and open Country. The future revenues of the County, after the subtraction of salaries to public officers, and other necessary expenses, were to be paid to the Countess. (We shall see, hereafter, that under one or other of these pretences, Philip reduced the income thus provided for her, to a very insufficient sum). The exiles on both sides were to be permitted to return to their Country, and no one, under a penalty, should reproach another with the party names of Hook and Cod.

The Duke of Guelderland, and the Bishop of Utrecht, should be at liberty, if they so desired, to accede to the treaty, from which, all such as were concerned on the death of John III of Bavaria were excluded. Jacoba was obliged to go through the towns of Holland with the Duke, and cause the oaths to be taken to him as heir and governor and thus deprived of all authority in the government, she retired to Goes in South Beveland.

The new council of nine was forthwith appointed, with power to nominate and remove bailiffs, Schouts, Treasurers, and other officers in the Duke's name, and to audit the public accounts. As six of the members of this council were named by the Duke, and the whole held their offices only during his pleasure, it is evident that the interests of the Lady Jacoba could have been very little cared for. The council had, however, no authority over her revenues, or the granting and withholding of privileges. Having effected this compromise, Philip appointed Francis van Borselen, a Zealand nobleman, his Stadtholder over Holland and Zealand, and returned to Flanders.

1429 After the loss of her states, the Countess Jacoba lived in comparative retirement at Goes and the Hague but she soon found that, having neither offices, wealth, nor titles to bestow, her most devoted adherents began to desert her. Her revenues, after payment of the salaries of the public officers, barely sufficed for her support, and on the occasion of any extraordinary expense, she was obliged to have recourse for assistance to her friends of the Hook party but as they had neither advantages, nor even payment to expect in return, they soon became weary of such unprofitable generosity.

One friend, and one alone, was left to her in this time of need, Francis van Borselen, although a conspicuous member of the Cod party, and appointed by Philip as Stadtholder of Holland, was ever ready to assist her with his purse and counsel, though at the risk of alienating his friends, and even of losing his valuable offices.

1432 The gratitude and esteem which such conduct naturally excited in the breast of the forsaken princess, soon deepened into feelings of the tenderness attachment and under their impulse, she consented to a secret marriage with Borselen, though she well knew the penalty which must attach to a discovery.

This event was soon known to Philip, who had too many of his partisans around her, to admit of its remaining long concealed nor did he delay to make use of it as a means of depriving Jacoba of her title of Countess, all that now remained of her birthright. His first measure was to cause Francis van Borselen to be arrested at the Hague, and conducted prisoner to Ruppelmonde after which, he allowed a report to go abroad, that the unfortunate nobleman was to be released only by death, judging with good reason, that the desire to save a husband so beloved, would reduce the Countess to such terms of submission as he should dictate. The issue justified his expectations.

1433 By the terms of the treaty of 1428, it had been provided, that if Jacoba should marry without consent of the Duke, her mother, and the states, she should forfeit the allegiance of her subjects. To this article she now consented without hesitation and upon condition 1433 that the Duke should release Francis van Borselen and confirm their marriage, she renounced all right and title to the Counties of Holland, Zealand, Friesland, and Hainaut, reserving only a life interest in the baronies of Voorne, South Beveland, and Thoolen, with the tolls of Holland and Zealand in the event of the Duke dying before her, the County was to revert to herself and her heirs. Philip afterwards created Borselen Count of Oostervant, and appointed him forester of Holland, but deprived him of the office of Stadtholder.

1434 Such was the end of the troubled and disastrous reign of the Countess Jacoba. Everyone from whom she might have expected help betrayed her in turn, her second husband John IV of Brabant, her third husband Humphrey of Gloucester, her cousin Philip "the Good" of Burgundy, all behaved shamefully to her. Her romantic and sad life has rendered the courageous and accomplished Jacqueline the most picturesque figure in the whole history of Holland.

1436 She struggled long against her powerful kinsfolk, nor did she know happiness till near the end of her life, when she abandoned the unequal strife, and found repose with Francis of Borselen, Her marriage with Frank van Borselen was happy but, in the summer of 1436, it became obvious that she was gravely ill. Jacqueline died of "consumption" (presumably tuberculosis) in Teylingen Castle on 8 October 1436, and since she had no children, Philip of Burgundy inherited Hainaut and Holland. Her husband Frank survived her thirty-four years.

Table of the House of Bavaria
Count / Countess Rule time Born-Died House
William V of Bavaria 1349 - 1389 1329 - 1389 Bavaria
Albert I of Bavaria 1389 - 1404 1336 - 1404 Bavaria
William VI of Bavaria 1404 - 1417 1345 - 1417 Bavaria
Jacoba of Bavaria 1417 - 1433 1401 - 1436 Bavaria

Next : The History of Dordrecht part 6
Coming soon

The St. Elisabeth flood of 1421

The St. Elizabeth flood (November 18, 1421) or the collapse of the Hollandsche Waard

Dordrecht Ancient Capital of Holland

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


As long as people live in the delta of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt rivers they were plagued by floods. subsidence of the soil and the rise of the sea, not surprising in a country which has always been largely below sea level.

After the floods which take place around 250 AD, the deltas of the Lowlands became too unsafe to live there. Until around the year 900 almost the entire delta region was an uninhabitable swamp (due to the, so called, third Dunkirk transgression of the sea level). After 900 fishermen and shepherds inhabited the area, this would be the beginning of Holland as a separate county, though the "new" lands were at first (called West-Frisia, even as Zeeland and southern part of present North-Holland) used as a food source (fish) for the young diocese of Utrecht.

After the storm floods of 1014, 1134 and 1170 (during the latter flood the Zuiderzee in West Frisia was formed) they started to build dykes around the highest lands. In the centuries after conquering even new polders and salt marshes and mud flats. Quarrels about who had to pay the maintenance of the dykes runs like a thread through the history of the deltas.

The "Hollandsche Waard" (Waard = low-lying land with dikes around) was an agriculture area in Holland on the north-border of North-Brabant. The actual Groote Waard came into existence in 1283, after the damming of the river Meuse at Heusden and Maasdam was completed and the establishment of a ring dyke was finished. It was a wet area, North of the Merwe riverbed clay layers, at the southern parts peat-lands. The Groote Waard was faced with several storms and river floods.

Before 1421 the Hollandsche Waard was a region of about 50,000 morgen, (a piece of land which could be plowed in one morning) or 42,500 acres construction and pastures ground. the area had a ring dyke, in the 12th century (by 1200 is already spoken of Dordrechtsche Weerd), and there must have been an embankment there.

At the end of 1421 a disaster occurred which would have great impact on the further history of Holland and Zeeland and as special for Dordrecht, the Capital of Holland and its surroundings. During the night of 18th on 19th November 1421 a heavy storm at the North Sea coast caused the dykes to break in a number of places and the lower lying polder land of parts of Zeeland and the "Hollandsche Waard" by Dordrecht were flooded. A number of hamlets and villages around Dordrecht were swallowed by the flood and were lost, causing the enormous quantity of about 6,000 casualties.

The result of this disaster was that Dordrecht lost his hinterlands and last but not least his importance as Capital of Holland, due to the fact that the city was fully surrounded by water, for decades, and could only be reached by water. Nevertheless the power of the city was not yet come to an end for the coming centuries.

The Hollandsche Waard before the flood

The Hollandsche Waard was bounded to the north by the river Merwede (from Dordrecht to Woudrichem), to the east by the Meuse (from Woudrichem to Heusden), to the south by the old border between the County of Holland and the Ducky of Brabant, the line from 's-Gravenmoer via Geertruidenberg and Strijensche Zwaluwe to the Maasdam.

grootewaCoat of arms of the Hollandsche waard, the four quarters represent the four historical territories (click to enlarge)

The first quarter is the weapon of Holland. The second quarter is the coat of arms of Bavaria, the Bavarian Land area, the northern and southwestern part of the Hoeksche waard. The third quarter is the coat of arms of Dordrecht. The fourth quarter is the weapon of Strijen, since a large part of the Hoeksche waard belonged to the Lordship Strijen. The crown and griffin are taken from the coat of arms of Dordrecht, which portrays the importance as Capital of Holland, the lions are the shield holders of the arms of Holland.

The Hollandsche Waard was divided in three parts
  1. The Tysselins (or Tiesselins) Waard
  2. The Dordrechtsche Waard
  3. The Groote Waard

1. The Tysselins Waard : West of the Dordrechtsche Waard, between the present river Old Meuse and the former rivers Dubbel and Binnenmaas to Maasdam and north of the Groote Waard.

In the Tysselins Waard were situated Leyderkerke ('s Gravendeel), Maasdam, Poelwijk, Nesse, Wolbrantskerke, Tiesselinskerke, de Mijl and other hamlet and villages.

2. The Dordrechtsche Waard : East of the Tijsselins Waard and North of the Groote Waard, bounded by the former river Binnenmaas (Damped Meuse).

In the Dordrechtsche Waard were situated the city of Dordrecht, Dubbeldam, the monasteries of Heisterbach and Eemstein and many hamlets and villages with or without castles, such as Merwede, Crayestein, Old Sliedrecht, Lang Ambacht, Giessenmonde, Kort Ambacht, Houweningen Werkendam, Tolleusen (Touloysen), Erkentrudeskerke, Almsvoet and others.

3. The Groote Waard : South of the Binnenmaas was a dyked area, bounded by a dyke to Strijen, Geertruidenberg and from there back to the Maasdam.

In the Groote Waard (south of the Binnenmaas) were ssituated the city of Geertruidenberg and many hamlets and villages, such as Strijense Swaluwe, Broec, Strijen, Zillaershoeck, Weede, Wieldrecht, Twintighoeven, Dubbelmonde, Almonde and others.

De Hollandsche Waard included the areas now known as :

The area was generally bounded by, from the east : The Damped Meuase, from Heusden to Woudrichem, the Upper and Lower Merwede (Merwe) to Dordrecht and the Old Meuse to Hoecke (Puttershoek). Through the Hoeksche waard roughly along the line Puttershoek - Maasdam - Strijen - Moerdijk.

From east to west : The Land of Heusden and Altena, the Biesbosch and the Island of Dordrecht and the eastern part of the Hoeksche Waard. South of this whole stretch the current border with North-Brabant, approximately from Heusden to Moerdijk.

Groote WaardMap of the Hollandsche Waard shortly before the St. Elisabeth flood (click to enlarge)

Besides the cities of Dordrecht and Geertruidenberg, the Hollandsche Waard had a large number of church villages and hamlets. Some of them still exist : Dubbeldam (at present day part of Dordrecht), 's Grevelduin-Capelle or Sprang-Capelle (at present day part of Waalwijk), Hoecke (Puttershoek), Hooge Zwaluwe, Lage Zwaluwe, Maasdam, Strijen (rebuilt elsewhere) and Werkendam.

Causes of the flood

The disaster that took place in 1421 in the Hollandsche Waard has a history of myopia which plays an important role. In the vast polder, which was created around 1157 (during the reign of Florence III, 1141-1190, Count of West-Frisia and Holland 1157-1190) and which extends between Dordrecht, Geertruidenberg, Heusden and Gorinchem, there eventually was a deep divisions among the population. Each group was seeking its own advantage and dyke maintenance was neglected. During the fourteenth century there are a few dyke breaks in Werkendam and to the south of Dordrecht.

There was no money for a thorough dyke maintenance because it was used for the "war budget", needed for the Hook and Cod wars which divided the county of Holland. An example of these "civil" wars was that in 1417 the Countess Jacoba of Bavaria (Hooks party) declared war to Dordrecht because they sided with her uncle, Duke John III of Bavaria (Cods party), In 1420 troops from Dordrecht, as Capital of Holland (at that time centre of the Cods) attacked Geertruidenberg (a city of the Hooks) and changed the town into a mess.

On the seafront, near Strijen and Zevenbergen, outside the dykes, the people themselves not only neglected the maintenance of the dykes but also downright undermined the dykes, because in that region the "salt nuts" was an important source of livelihood. People digging out the peat soil on either side of the sea-dykes and burn it for use of the salt that remained. The deep wells, which arose in the salt nuts, became a major threat to the dykes, but not everyone wants to admit this.

Shortly before the flood the Lord of Putten and Strijen, Jacob van Abcoude (1391-1459), at that time a member of the Hook party, had a prolonged conflict with the city of Dordrecht (Cods) about the salt nuts, on October 16, 1421, it is said, the dispute was settled and determined was that the wells did not endanger the safety of the dykes (in the accounts of the city of Dordrecht is spoken of as settled for 1 year).

But within a month the opposite was showed, the sea broke through the weak dykes near Broeck and an unprecedented disaster affected the once prosperous Hollandsche Waard. The sea-arm Hollands Diep was created and the most parts of the Hollandsche Waard disappeared in the waves. During and after the St. Elisabeth Flood (1421), the entire Groote Waard flooded. The north and the south part of the area are now separated by water, called the Biesbosch, the Island of Dordrecht, the east side of the "Hoeksche Waard" and parts of North-Brabant.

During the Flood

In the night of November 19, 1421, the feast day of St. Elizabeth, a disastrous northwester storm battered the coasts of Holland and Zeeland. Earlier, in 1404, and later, in 1424, there are storms that are named for this saint, but none was as devastating as the St. Elizabeth flood of 1421. The storm has terrible consequences because the water between the islands of Zeeland and South Holland was pushed inland.

The inundation of the Hollandsche Waard, on 18 November 1421, was induced by the seawater from the south-west en the waters of the river Merwede from the north, all the lands between the Merwede and the dykes south of the Binnenmaas between the Meuse and the Maasdam. Particularly the salt waters from the south-west  brought devastation as can be proved by witnesses of several people but also by official city accounts. "The flood was caused due to a North-western storm around midnight by high tide (not springtide), six days before the new moon".

Water mass

Jan Engbrechtszoon was the first who, in the early morning of the feast day of St. Elizabeth on 19 November, heard the bells of the great Church of Dordrecht pealing. Panicked he ran into the street, from everywhere the citizens of Dort came forth, in the dark they ran to the city gates and climbed on the walls, To their amazement they saw masses of water as far as their eyes could see.

The whole of the Dordrechtse waard, the Tysselinswaard, and the Groote or Zuid Hollandsche Waard was under water. The monks of the monastery of Eemstein and Heisterbach were beaten in the flight and saw horrific things on their grueling journey to Dordrecht: drowned cows appear, whole families on floating roofs. And a cradle with a child in it, and one cat out desperately to jump back and forth rocking the cradle to save it.

Master of the St Elizabeth Panels 001The Hollandsche Waard during the St. Elisabeth flood, painting 1470 by Master of the Elisabeth panels now at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (click to enlarge)

In the city of Dordrecht was great consternation, the water stood on the walls and gates (the walls appeared to be watertight), only a small part outside the dyke at the North Gate was still spared, but all the lands to the Castle "Huis te Merwede" was washed away. How many victims the disaster caused is not in an approach to say, but it must have been thousands.

Who had chance to flee, fled to Dordrecht or Geertruidenberg, but many drowned with homes and property in the waves. Several noble families were by the loss of their property plunged in such poverty that they were forced to seek for employment in the foreign or to beg their bread. Dordrecht prevailed but the water stood on the walls, as far as the eye could see a sea, the previously lush meadows covered by water. Only a small portion dyke outside the North Gate, was the only excursion that Dordtenaren itself, long afterwards, could afford. As much as possible was tried to save the city from the waters, using immense sums of money. The current Biesbosch is still the memory of this storm disaster.

Accusing fingers were pointed to the farmers, angry that the dykes would have been pierced, or to the proud Dordtenaren who had left in the lurch their country lady, Countess Jacoba of Bavaria in 1417, and now received the punishment of God. But the real cause was poor maintenance of the natural levees and irresponsible digging of peat with the agreement of Jacob van Abcoude (1391-1459), Lord of Strijen and Stadtholder of Holland (one of the richest Nobles of Holland in the early 15th century).

After the Flood

Map of the Biesbosch, by Jacob en Pietsser Sluyter, 1572

Since 1421 the former Hollandsche Waard between Dordrecht and Geertruidenberwas was changed in an immense expanse of water, but nature benefited, because in the floodplain nature was formed during the decades some small islands came up, covered with rushes here and there, and was called the Biesbosch, but more to the south with the name of the Bergsche Field, though soon after the disaster efforts were made to recover the lost land, particularly because the city of Dordrecht could not lack its rich hinterland.

After the first shock, the restoration of the dykes was forcefully addressed. But in 1424 a storm surge again struck the Groote Waard. The damage was so great that was decided to leave the Groote Waard to her fate. The scars of the disaster were for centuries visible.

Dordrecht as Venice of the North  

Dordrecht was from that time on fully surrounded by water and could not longer be reached by land and permanently separated the cities of Geertruydenberg and Dordrecht (which had previously fought against each other during the Hook and Cod (civil) wars) to the south. To the north and west Dordrecht was separated from "Ijsselmonde" and the "Hoekse waard". Most of the area remained flooded for several decades. Reclaimed parts of the "Groote Waard" became the Island of Dordrecht, the "Hoeksche Waard" and north-western North Brabant (around Geertruidenberg). The mayor part is flooded since and is now called The Dordrechtse and Brabantse Biesbosch which became a National park in the 1990s.

Map of Dordrecht after the St. Elisabeth flood (1575), in the 16th century still surrounded by water (click to enlarge)

Ground plan of Dordrecht in 1581 (click to enlarge)

Help was promised soon, John III of Bavaria, then Count of Holland, came to Dordrecht in person to view the damage and promised to cooperate to a quickly re-dyke the areas. Most of the prominent cities of Holland, even Hooks or Cods,  promised financial assistance.

John III ordered on April 6, 1422 that within eight days the start of repairing the dykes jointly and declared the land of unwilling forfeited if not was corporated with the city of Dordrecht. The unwilling were mainly those of Heusden, Altena, Sprang, 's Gravenmoer, Bezooien, and that reluctance, combined with the sad time conditions, which caused the embankments progressed very slowly. The cities Haarlem, Delft, Leiden, Amsterdam and Gouda donated a sum of 2,500 Bavarian guilders to maintain the dykes, Several years later Duke Philip of Burgundy (the successor of John of Bavaria) in November 1425 promised a sum of 28,000 crowns but nothing came and from time to time only small parts of land was reclaimed, The total embankment of the former Waard was in general impossible, the country, largely composed of peat land was too deep to leave country silting provisionally possible.

It took until 1467 before on the east side the land of Altena was reclaimed and in 1471 to west new dykes were build at Old Bonaventure. At the Merwede side the dykes were destroyed by the waters and there the lands were not recovered. The lost hamlets, villages, monasteries etc. were replaced by government fees, (says Vossius) "shall do it partly hoping that they (the owners) with even greater courage maintain the dykes" . The monks of the monastery Eemstein obtained at the Devel in the Zwijndrechtse Waard land to rebuild their monastery. The monastery of Heisterbach was lost forever. The Castles Crayestein and Huis te Merwede became ruins while Crayestein was totally lost.

De Biesbosch shortly before the completion of the Delta works in 1965

In the decades after the Great Flood the Groote Waard changed slowly to the Biesbosch. Raised sand and silt from the Merwede river led to the formation of sandbars and marshes. When the Haringvlietss dam and the Delta Works were completed in 1968, the Biesbosch changed from a brackish water in an inland freshwater lake.

The Biesbosch 

In the centuries to come the area to the east, called the Biesbosch, slowly raised above the water level through siltation. The history of about, in total, 72 villages, hamlets and monasteries were swept away by the water. Only forty were later rebuilt though a lot of them not on the same spot. The entire flooded area was changed considerably and the course of the rivers changed forever. From that time on the city of Dordrecht was situated on an island, fully surrounded by the great rivers of Holland (Merwede, Meuse, Dordtsche Kil and Hollands Diep).

The border river flows are nowadays still more or less at the same place. In the Hoeksche Waard is still a piece of dyke, which once formed part of the ring dyke of the Groote Waard. The southern border, now North Brabant territory is extremely blurred. The area is now crossed by the Bergsche Meuse, Amer, Dordtsche Kil and New Merwede channel (The channel was digged between 1861 and 1874, to gave faster drain to the waters from the Upper Merwede (Waal).

The Groote waard at present day, a large part is now National park The Biesbosch

Drowned Hamlets and Villages

Of some hamlets and villages were traces found in excavations, from others only the name survived. There is said that 72 villages drowned during the St. Elisabeth flood but I could trace a total of 48.

 29 drowned hamlets/villages on the north bank of the Damped Meuse
Alloysen Exact location not known
Almstein Exact location not known
Almsvoet At the north-border of the Damped Meuse, between Erkentrudekerke and Eemkerk in the Tijsselinswaard.
Annekerke Exact location not known 
Aeryntswaert At the north-border of the Damped Meuse, between Eemskerke and Dussen in the Dordrechtsche waard
Crayensteijn Or Kraayenstein Castle or Fortress, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard between Sliedrecht and Giessenmonde
De Mijl Near Dubbeldam, now part of Dordrecht, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Tijsselinswaard
Dordsmonde Existence not proven
Eemskerk Or Eemkerk, at the north-border of the Damped Meuse, a small village at the river Eem, betweem Almsvoet and Aeryntswaert in the Dordrechtsche waard
Eemsteijn A Monastery, at the north-border of the Damped Meuse in the Dordrechtsche waard. The monastery was founded in 1377 by Reinoud Johan Minnebodeszoon, a Dordtenaar who, with permission of Albrecht of Bavaria, founded a monastery on his own purchased land. The monastery would fulfill an important role in the south-west of the Netherlands. The monastery was on the contemporary Biesbosch area, near the village Eemkerk and served as Augustijner-monastery. The bishop of Utrecht Floris van Wevelinkhoven (1315-1393) recognized Eemsteijn as monastery in 1382
Erkentrudekerke Or Erkentrude, at the border of the river Dubbel in the Dordrechtsche waard, for the first time mentioned in 1240, the parish church belongs to the chapter of St. John in Utrecht and would have been part of Toloysen. Possibly, the church survived the Elisabeth Flood for some time and have done service to early 15th century. The village would have located on the river Dubbel which after the flood became a quagmire. In 1990 archeologists encountered a mass grave to the south of the district of Dubbeldam, now Dordrecht. Here were found 90 graves in the area known as the Mokveld which now serves as a football field. The researchers believe that this was the remains of the village Erkentrude
Giessenmonde Between Lang Ambacht and Kort Ambacht, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard
Gregenmonde Exact location not known
Hardeverd Exact location not known 
Heysterbach The monastery Heysterbach was founded in 1203 by Aleida of Cleves-Holland, the wife of Count Dirk VII of Holland, who died that same year. According to a legend, the marriage between Aleida's daughter Ada of Holland and Louis II of Loon have taken place in this monastery. The monastery was in the 13th century known as one of the principal in the County of Holland. The most revenue came from fisheries. During the Flood of 1421, 24 monks drowned. Some knew and sought to save a shelter in Dordrecht. The monastery was situated at the mouth of the river Merwe between Castle "Merwe" (later Huis te Merwede) at Dordrecht and Old-Sliedrecht in de Dordrechtsche waard, at the location of the modern chemical factory of DuPont in Dordrecht
Houweningen Houweningen, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard, which was first mentioned in 1105, had a parish church and an average population of about 50 people. The village was south of Hardinxveld and was drowned during the St. Elisabeth Flood. In 1983 there was debris in the middle of a beet field in the north part of the Biesbosch. They had not suspected that the village had a church but they found a stone wall
Kort-Abacht  Between Giessenmonde and Houweningen, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard 
Kruiskerke Near Wolbrandskerke in the Dordrechtsche waard
Lang-Ambacht  Between Crayensteijn and Giessenmonde, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard
Ledekerke Existence not proven, probable the same as Leijderkerke in the Dordrechtsche waard
Leijderkerke Between Maasdam and Tiesselinskerke, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard
Merwede Existence not proven
Nesse Between Leijderkerke and Tijsselinskerke, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard
Poelwijk Existence not proven
Sliedrecht Or Old Sliedrecht, between Dordrecht and Crayensteijn, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard, not to be confused with Over Sliedrecht which is now called Sliedrecht
Tiesselingskerke Or Tijsselinskerke, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Tiesselins waard
Toloysen Or Toileusen, situated near Erkentrudekerke in the Dordrechtsche waard. In 1286, the locality was for the first time in church chronicles mentioned. In 1316 Rikhout Noordeloos was granted the fief of Tolloysen from the Count of Holland. Around 1350 Dirck van der Merwede receive the area as a legacy, but sees nothing in the heritage and sells it to Count Albrecht of Bavaria. However, one of his sons Daniel used title Lord of Tolloysen. In 1357 a church was founded called St. Nicholas Church, probably built of brick and half wood. There is a religious conflict with the nearby church-village Erkentrudekerke which find the expansion of the Dordrecht angle very stale. The church would not have existed long (possibly ± 40 years), which the parishioners had to go to the church in Erkentrudekerke. After the flood of 1421 the villages lost their right to exist and in 1452 appeared a charter that the hope of rehabilitation for certain was excluded. The history of Toloysen started in the 12th century and was located at the south-east side of the city of Dordrecht, probably near the south border of the Wantij. The village is so far not been found
Werken Between Werkendam and Woudrichem, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Land of Altena
Wolfbrantskerke Wolbrands or Wolfrandskerke is a former church-village, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard near Dordrecht. The village was situated on the west side of the river Dubbel. Two living mounds or village settlements were found, remains were found in the neighborhood of the modern districts of Zuidhoven, Sterrenburg I, II and Crabbenhof in Dordrecht. In 2006 and 2007 excavations were made in the north-east area of the station Dordrecht-Zuid on the outer area of the current pool "Acapulco". Found were parts of a church and a cemetery. There was also a wooden foundation found. Remarkable is that the small cemetery contains many female bodies. By the excavations a total of 110 skeletons were found.
19 drowned hamlets/villages on the south bank of the Damped Meuse
Achthoeven Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Almonde Between Dubbelmonde and Drimmelen, on the south border of the Damped Meuse, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Broeck On the South-west dyke of the Groote waard, about the spot where the Moerdijk bridges are now situated, on the bottom of the Hollands Diep river
Drimmelen Or Driemijlen, between Almonde and Standhazen on the south bank of the Damped Meuse, the second Drimmelen is still designated as "Old Drimmelen the third Drimmelen is nowadays no more than a marina
Dubbelmonde Between Twintighoeven and Almonde, on the south border of the Damped Meuse in the Groote waard
Giessen Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Herradeskerke Or Herrade. Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Hoekenesse Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Leerambacht Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Oudeland Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Strijen On the north-western part of the Groote waard, after the Dordtse Kil came into existence after the flood part of the Hoeksche waard, later rebuild
Strijensche Zwaluwe On the South-west dyke of the Groote waard, near Broek, about the spot where the Moerdijk bridges are now situated
Standhasen Between Almonde and Geertruidenberg, on a southern arm of the Demped Meuse, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Twintighoeven Between Wieldrecht and Dubbelmonde, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Vorensater Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Weede On the north-western part of the Groote waard, after the Dordtse Kil came into existence after the flood part of the Hoeksche waard. The survived citizens of Weede fled to the nearby village Cillaarshoek, a piece of dyke north of current Strijen in the Hoeksche waard. Their descendants still live there. Near Weede, directly on the southern border of the damped Meuse a strategically important large castle stood, built in the beginning of the 13th century, with a floor plan of 50 x 75 meters and was probably the largest castle in Holland at that time. The remains of this castle were discovered in 1957. Some wall remains to a height of 1.50 meters is still valid. The village was also in possession of a church with a related spiritual. The village Broek fell within the parish of Weede
Werkenmonde Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
Wieldrecht Between Weede and Dubbelmonde on the south border of the damped Meuse
Zillaershoeke Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area
  • J.L. van Dalen: De St. Elisabethsvloed na vijf eeuwen herdacht; uitgave 1925
  • J.L. Terwen: Het Koningrijk der Nederlanden; uitgave 1858
  • W. Nijman: De ramen der Grote Kerk van Dordrecht
  • Rien Allewijn: Een zee van water, 1983

Stories and Legends of the St. Elisabeth flood

Several stories has survived, common after a dramatic event, in which details about the flood are told. 

One story goes as follows :

The wealth of the Groote Waard had became proverbial in Holland, it was told (van Spaen and other writers) that the inhabitants were so wealthy that nothing was to expensive, they owned many gold and silver jewelry and even golden and silver spurs. The Hollandsche Waard was used as a large store shed for the city of Dordrecht, Geertruidenberg and the whole of Holland.

Vossius writes in his Yearbooks (17th century) "72 villages, with so many churches, were gobbled by the waters, the tower-tops were nearly invisible the next day, during the night when all the people slept they were surprised by the waters. Who calculate the lowest amount of casualties tells that 100,000 drowned by the waters. The family van der Merwede was one of the Nobles who were beaten hard by the waters, they lost all their properties, together with other Lower-Nobility and were forced to beg for their bread. Mayor Heyman van Blijenburg of Dordrecht aided the Lower-Nobility as well as other important families".

Another story goes as follows :

During the flood a cradle with a child and an inventious cat hopped from one side to the other to balance the cradle in the water. Some says that the cradle washed at Kinderdijk, a village situated to the north of Dordrecht, but that's unlikely because with a North-western storm the cradle could not drift to the north. Others mentions the village of Houweningen in the Dordrechtsche Waard but that is also unlikely because the village was one of the first who drowned forever.

Van Spaen writes that the cradle landed at the Vuilpoort in Dordrecht but that is also far from proven, nevertheless the child arrived at Dordrecht and was take care of by an unnamed family and was raised by the name of Beatrix (the happy one). Mathijs Balen (17th century) writes that Beatrix later married to a wealthy Dort's family.

Balen says that Beatrice later married Jacob Roerom and became the matriarch of a distinguished Dordts family. It is also recorded that Beatrix itself had a golden cross around her neck when she was rescued. they say that On the cross her arms was engraved. This is strange, because that weapon had been able to determine her origin. At that time, it claims, a cord blood coral with a golden cross from her rest with a preacher at Biervlietss. Besides the child not many residents were saved. Only some, which ships and with their hands, were spared. But Pietsser Dirksz and his wife and son Dirk, floating on a beam of a house survived and, says Balen, his son Dirk became a significant gender and progenitor of an important Dordrecht family.

The history of Dordrecht part 1

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

Part 1

From the year 993 to 1222

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

Origin of the name Holland

In the next parts of the history of Holland I will enfold the story of the formation of land, or rather its recovery from the waters, being only of recent date because after the, so called, third Dunkirk transgression the water level of the North Sea decreased and from the middle of the tenth century the area we know now as Holland became slowly suitable for habitation.

The first mention of Holland in any document is found in an imperial gift brief dated May 2nd 1064. In this the phrase omnis comitatus in Holiandi occurs, but without any further description of the locality indicated. A comparison with other documentary evidence, however, leads to the identification of Holland with the Merwe, or the bush-grown fenland lying between the rivers Waal, the Meuse and the Merwe. It is the district surrounding the city of Dordrecht.

The word Holland is indeed by many authorities thought to be a corruption of Holt-land (it was sometimes so spelt by 13th-century writers) and to signify wood-land. The earliest spelling is, however Hollandt and it is more probable that it means low-lying-land (hol = hollow), a derivation which is equally applicable to the district in Lincolnshire (UK) which bears the same name.

....Note : A strange phenomenon is that there are more sources about the history of Holland and its ancient Capital Dordrecht written by English writers than Dutch sources. It is obvious that English historians were aware of the importance of this part of the history of Holland. The name "Dort" for the city of Dordrecht is from English origin. Next follows some examples how English historians wrote about our history :

From CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, LONDON 1922, HISTORY OF HOLLAND BY GEORGE EDMUNDSON wrote :---- 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. ----

From HOLLAND THE HISTORY OF THE NETHERLANDS BY THOMAS COLLEY GRATTAN WITH A SUPPLEMENTARY CHAPTER OF RECENT EVENTS BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE Lardner's ‘Cyclop.’ vol. x. 1830 CHAPTER IV : ---- The district in which Dordrecht is situated, and the grounds in its environs which are at present submerged, formed in those times an island just raised above the waters, and which was called Holland or Holtland (which means wooded land, or, according to some, hollow land). The formation of this island, or rather its recovery from the waters, being only of recent date, the right to its possession was more disputable than that of long-established Countries. All the bishops and abbots whose states bordered the Rhine and the Meuse had, being equally covetous and grasping, and mutually resolved to pounce on the prey, made it their common property. A certain Count Thierry, descended from the Counts of Ghent, governed about this period the western extremity of Friesland - the Country which now forms the province of Holland; and with much difficulty maintained his power against the Frisons, by whom his right was not acknowledged. Beaten out of his own territories by these refractory insurgents, he sought refuge in the ecclesiastical island, where he intrenched himself, and founded a town which is believed to have been the origin of Dordrecht. ----

From HISTORY OF HOLLAND and the Dutch Nation FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE TENTH TO THE END OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. Including an account of the municipal institutions, commercial pursuits, and social habits of the people. The rise and progress of the protestant reformation in Holland. The intestine dissentious foreign wars BY C. M. DAVIES. In Three Volumes Vol. I LONDON: G.Willis, Great Piazza,Covent Garden. MDCCCXLI. PART I CHAPTER I : ---By Ansfrid, predecessor of the present bishop, the domain of Utrecht had been enriched by the addition of Teisterband, (an ancient County, extending from Wyk te Duurstede to the old Meuse), and thus brought close to the territories of the Counts of Holland, over the whole of which, likewise, the Church of Utrecht had a spiritual jurisdiction; and this furnished the bishops with a pretext for laying claim to the temporal sovereignty of the County. Hence arose disputes of a nature easily exasperated into hostilities. On the present occasion, the Bishop Athelbald had encouraged his vassal, Theodore Bavo, margrave of that part of his diocese which bordered on the County of Holland, in his attempts to extend his authority within the confines of Count Theodore's territories. Theodore compelled Bavo to evacuate Bodegrave, of which he had possessed himself, and in order to provide a barrier against the encroachments of this restless neighbor, he built and fortified the celebrated town of Dordrecht, which became, and long remained, the capital of the County, and ever afterwards held the first rank in the assembly of the States. Here he levied tolls upon all vessels passing up or down the Waal. This excited great. discontent among the merchants, particularly those of Tiel, who earnestly petitioned the emperor to release them from the exactions of the Count of Holland, representing, that otherwise they would be forced to discontinue their trade to England, and consequently should be unable to pay him their accustomed tribute.----


The Lowlands as it was in the 10th century

On the map you can see how The Netherlands looked like at the end of the 10th century with Dordrecht situated on an island at the North sea coast.

The first official written mention of Dordrecht dates from 980 AD, where it is called 'Thuredriht', a name most likely referring to a ford - 'driht' or 'drecht' being an evolution of 'trajectum' - in a certain river 'Thure', no longer in existence, most likely part of the present Voorstraat harbor also called the Old harbor, or for that matter near the dwelling of a fisherman, or whatever of that name. Even the old German thunder god 'Thor' has put forth a claim to the title. The name of the settlement, however, seems to have been in use for centuries before. Thor or Thur(e) - driht from the middle ages was named Dort by the English and Dordrecht by others.

Groote WaardA large part of the original Holland, later called the Groote or Hollandsche Waard submerged  by a great inundation in 1421 (the St-Elisabeth flood) and its modern appellation of The Biesbosch (reed-forest) is descriptive of what must have been the condition of the entire district in early times.

The Capital of Holland, Dordrecht, lost most of her hinterland to the west (parts of the Hoekse waard, to the south (the area from (Old) Strijen to Moerdijk and to the city of Geertruidenberg (now part of North-Brabant) and to the east (the area to the Land of Heusden and Altena (Heusden, Dussen).

After this flood the city of Dordrecht was for several decades fully surrounded by water before the north-eastern parts of the former Groote and Dordrechtsche waard were retaken from the water and the Island of Dordrecht and the Hoekse-waard were formed. See also the story of the St. Elisabeth flood of 1421.

Introduction to the County of Holland

The story that follows next describes the history of Holland, their Counts, their struggles for independence and last but not least the story of their Ancient Capital Dordrecht, the story of both can be seen as one because the surrounding lowlands of the city of Dordrecht called Holt-land was later given to the whole County of Holland, the area as mentioned above and last but not least because the Counts of Holland made Dordrecht their residence, about 200 years, from the beginning of the 11th until the beginning of the 13th century.

Dordrecht was founded in 1008 by Count Theodore or Diederic (Dirk) III of the house of Frisia/Holland and was given city rights in 1015, it was the residence of the Counts of Holland until 1203 and was chartered in 1220 and fortified in 1271, it was the capital of Holland and the leading town during the 11th to the 17th century and one of the most prosperous medieval ports in the Netherlands, although severely damaged by the St. Elisabeth flood in 1421, Dordrecht stayed the leading city of Holland until it was surpassed as residence by The Hague in the 17th century, as seaport by Rotterdam in the 18th century and as Capital of the Netherlands by Amsterdam in the 19th century.

It was the first not, however, till late in the 11th century that the Counts successors adopted the style "Hollandensis comes" as their territorial designation. It is found for the first time in 1083 on a seal of Count Theodore V (Dirk V), 1052-1091, the name Holland became gradually extended northwards to connote all the land subject to the rule of the Counts between the island Texel in the north and the river Meuse (Maas) to the south, the border with Guelders to the east and East-Frisia to the northeast.

Theodore (Dirk) II 932-988, Count of West-Frisia 939-988

Count Theodore II of Holland

Theodore II Count of West-Frisia, born 932 Egmond-Binnen, died 6 May 988, buried Abbey Egmond aan den Hoef, married with Hildegarde (daughter of Count Arnulf I (The Great) of Flanders 890-965) Countess of Flanders, born c. 940, Ghent Flanders, died 10 Apr 990, buried Abbey Egmond aan den Hoef, children :

  1. Arnulf, born 961, Ghent Flanders, died 18 Sep 993, Egmond aan den Hoef
  2. Hildegarde, born c. 961, probably Vlardinga
  3. Egbert, born c. 962, Egmond-Binnen, became archbishop of Treves (Trier), died 18 Sep 993 Treves Rheinland
  4. Erlinda, born c. 965, Egmond-Binnen

After the death of Arnoul I (889-964) Count of Flanders, Count Theodore II occupied Ghent and Waas, taking advantage of the weakness of the government of the County of Flanders during the minority of Count Arnoul II (951-987). In 960 he built a fortress at Flardinga (a name similar to Flandringa or Flanders), near modern Vlaardingen, where he stayed several times when he was in his new territories. Theodore II was also the founder of the Abbey of Egmond (near modern Alkmaar).

In 983 he obtained from Queen Theophana, mother of King Otto III (980-1002), King 983-1002, Emperor 996-1002, with whom he was in great favor, a considerable extension of territory, that now domain-covered by the Zuiderzee and southward down to Nijmegen. In the deed of gift is spoken of as holding the three Countships of Maasland, Kinhem and Texla, in other words his rule extended over the whole Country from the right bank of the Meuse to the Vlie. He appears also to have exercised authority at Ghent.

Arnulf (Aernhoud) of Ghent 961-993, Count of West-Frisia 988-993

Count Arnould of Holland

Arnulf Count of West Frisia, born 961, Ghent Flanders, died 18 Sep 993 Egmond aan den Hoef, buried Egmond aan den Hoef, married in May or Aug 980 with Liutgard Countess of Luxembourg, born c. 963, Brussels Brabant, sister-in-law of Emperor Henry II, died 14 May 995, children :

  1. Theodore III, born c. 981, Ghent Flanders, died 27 May 1039
  2. Siegfried or Sicco, born c. 983, Ghent Flanders, died 6 Jun 1030
  3. Aleida, born c. 987, Ghent Flanders, died c. 1045, France

Arnhulf was Count till 993, when he was slain in battle against the West-Frisians, and was succeeded by his twelve-year-old son Theodore (Dirk) III.

From the year 993 to 1100

The founding and ancient story of Dordrecht


Theodore (Dirk) III or Hierosolymitas, 981-1039, Count of West-Frisia 993-1039 and Holland 1015-1039

Count Theodore III of Holland

Theodore (Dirk) III Count of Holland and West Frisia, born c. 981 Ghent Flanders, died 27 May 1039, married with Otelhild (Uthildis) Princess of Saxony, daughter of Roman Emperor Otto II, born about 983 Schweinfurt Unterfranken Bavaria Germany, died Zassen, 7 July 1044, children :

  1. Theodore IV, born c. 1015, Dordrecht, died during the battle of Dordrecht 13 January 1049
  2. Florence I, born c. 1017, Dordrecht, murdered near Nederhemert Guelders 28 June 1061
  3. Luitgard, born c. 1019, Dordrecht, died 1038
  4. Bertrade, born c. 1021, Dordrecht, died 1056
  5. Swanhilde, born c. 1023, Dordrecht, died 1079

993 During the guardianship of his mother Liutgardis, the boy was despoiled of almost all his possessions, except Kinhem and Maasland.

Count Theodore (Dirk) III, as descended of the Counts of Ghent, governed in this period the north-western extremity of Flanders which was called Frisia, the area from the islands of Zeeland to West-Frisia along the coast of the North-sea. This area consisted at that time of several small islands in the North sea who were uncovered from the waters, after the third Dunkirk transgression the sea level slowly decreased, and was shortly partly inhabited by Frisians (Flemings). These islands nowadays forms parts of South-Holland and Zeeland. In this area Count Theodore III with much difficulty maintained his power against the Frisians, by whom his right was not acknowledged.

Beaten out of his own territories in Flanders and Walcheren by these Frisian refractory insurgents, he sought refuge in the ecclesiastical island, where he in-trenched himself and where he later founded a town which was later called Dordrecht.

As soon as Theodore III was arrived at mans estate he turned upon his enemies with courage and vigor.

998 In 998 Theodore III waged war successfully with Emperor Otto III (980-1002) and the powerful bishop of Utrecht Ansfried (940-1002) at Vlardinga and made himself master not only of his ancestral possessions, but also of the district on the river Meuse known as the Bushland of Merweda, hitherto subject to the see of Utrecht.

1002 Theodore III, settled in the district in which Dordrecht is now situated, and the grounds in its environs which are at present day submerged (Groote waard), formed in those times an island just raised above the waters, and which was called Holland or Holtland (which means wooded land, or, according to some, hollow land). In the midst of this marshy tract, at a point commanding the courses of the rivers Meuse and the Waal (Old Waal), he constructed a stronghold and toll place in 1002.

1008 To control the trade routes to England he founded a Castle, "Burcht Merwe" at the Merwede river near the trade place of Thuredriht and founded Thure-Foundadrecht also called Dordracum, Durfos, Dortrecht, Dort, Dordt or Dordrecht in 1008 and made it his residence. In 1015 Theodore III began to levy tolls. Burcht "Merwe" at Dordrecht should stay the residence of all the Counts of Holland until 1203.

The Wars with the Dioceses of Utrecht, Liege (Luik) Cambrai (Kamerijk) and Cologne (Keulen)

1010 The right to Theodore's possession was more disputable then that of long established Countries. All the bishops and abbots whose states bordered the Rhine and the Meuse had, being equally covetous and grasping, and mutually resolved to pounce on the prey, made it their common property.

During the episcopate of Bishop Ansfrid of Utrecht (995-1010), the domain of Utrecht had been enriched by the addition of Teisterband (Tiel), (an ancient County, extending from Wijk bij Duurstede to the Old Meuse), and thus brought his territory close to the territories of the Count of Frisia/Holland, over the whole of which, likewise, the Church of Utrecht had a spiritual jurisdiction, and this furnished the bishops with a pretext for laying claim to the temporal sovereignty of the County.

The possession of Dordrecht became so injurious to the commerce of Tiel, Cologne and the Rheinish towns with England that complaints were made by the bishop of Utrecht Adelbold II (975-1026) and the Archbishop of Cologne (Keulen) Herirbertus (972-1021) to Emperor Henry II (972-1024).

1015 Hence arose disputes of a nature easily exasperated into hostilities. On the present occasion, the Bishop Adelbold II (1014-1028) had encouraged his vassal, Theodore Bavo, Margrave of that part of his diocese which bordered on the County of Holland, in his attempts to extend his authority within the confines of Count Theodore's territories. Bishop Adelbold II, together with his ally Bavo invaded Masaland at the Merwe, by the river Lek and Ijssel, hostilities arose at Flardinga (Vlaardingen). Theodore III was victorious and the Bishop with Bavo returned to Utrecht. The elder son of Theodore III, Theodore IV, later Count of Holland, born at Dordrecht.

1016 In 1016 Theodore III compelled Bavo to evacuate Bodegraven, of which he had possessed himself, and in order to provide a barrier against the encroachments of this restless neighbor, he fortified the celebrated town of Dordrecht, which became, and long remained, the Capital of the County, and ever afterwards (until the 17th century) held the first rank in the assembly of the young Seven United States.

Here he levied tolls upon all vessels passing up or down the Waal (Merwe). This excited great discontent among the merchants, particularly those of Tiel, who earnestly petitioned Roman Emperor Henry II (1010-1024) to release them from the exactions of the Count of Holland, representing, that otherwise they would be forced to discontinue their trade to England, and consequently should be unable to pay him their accustomed tribute. These complaints, supported by the influence of Bishop Adelbold II of Utrecht, had so great weight with the Emperor, that he commanded Duke Godfrey II of Lower Lorraine (Brabant) (1012-1026), to assist the bishop in expelling Theodore from his fortress at Dordrecht.

1017 The second son of Theodore III, Florence I, later Count of Holland, born at Dordrecht.

1018 In 1018 Godfrey, in obedience to his orders, assembled a large body of troops, and accompanied by the Bishops of Cologne (Heribert 999-1021), Cambrai (Gerard I), Liege (Baldrick II 1008–1018)), and Adelbold II of Utrecht, with their forces, landed at Dordrecht on the Merwe, near the stronghold of the Counts of Holland (not to be confused with the battle of Vlardinga in 1015, the first battle against Bishop Adelbold II of Utrecht).

Emperor Henry II took part with the complainants and commissioned Duke Godfrey II of Lorraine (965-1023) to chastise the young Frisian Count. Duke Godfrey II invaded Dirks lands with a large army, but they were impeded by the swampy nature of the Country and totally defeated with heavy loss (July 29, 1018). Duke Godfrey II himself was taken prisoner.

In the engagement which ensued, an event, as singular as unexpected, turned the fortune of the day in favor of the Hollanders, and saved the infant state from the destruction which appeared inevitable. The battle was at the hottest, and the Hollanders were defending themselves bravely, but almost hopelessly, against superior numbers, when suddenly a voice was heard crying, " Fly, fly." None could tell from whence the sound proceeded, and it was therefore interpreted by the troops of Lorraine, as a warning from Heaven.

Their rout was instantaneous and complete, nearly the whole of the foot soldiers belonging to the Bishops of Liege and Cambrai (French Flanders) were slain and numbers, in their eagerness to escape, were drowned in the Merwe, including the Bishop of Liege Baldrick II, the shore is said to have been strewed with dead bodies for the space of nearly two miles.

The Bishop of Utrecht, with a few followers, saved themselves by flight and the Duke of Lorraine remained a prisoner in the hands of Theodore, who shortly after released him, Theodore III had the good sense and moderation to spare his prisoners, and set them free without ransom, in order that he might negotiate a reconciliation with the emperor.

He received in return an imperial amnesty, and from that period the Count of Holland and his posterity formed a barrier against the ecclesiastical power and the remains of the imperial supremacy continually struggled, to be only shattered in each new assault.

1021 Under his mediation, Bishop Adelbold II, finding himself destitute of allies, was reluctantly brought to terms of accommodation and the Count of Holland afterwards held the disputed territory of Bodegraven and Zwammerdam, as a feudatory of the bishop. John Egmont, an old chronicler, says that the Counts of Holland were "a sword in the flanks of the bishops of Utrecht."

The result was that Theodore III was not merely confirmed in his possession of Dordrecht and the Merweda Bushland (the later Holland) but also of the territory of a vassal of the Utrecht See, Dirk Bavo Count of Bodegraven, which he conquered. This victory of 1018 is often regarded as of the true starting-point of the history of the County of Holland.

Having thus established his rule in the south, Theodore next proceeded to bring into subjection the Frisians in the north. He appointed his brother Siegfrid or Sicco (983-1030) as governor over them. In his later years Dirk III went upon a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from which he returned in 1034 and ruled in peace until his death.

1039 The title Count of Holland appears to have been first borne by the Frisian Count Theodore (Dirk) III, who founded Dordrecht in 1008, where a wooden church was build, the predecessor of the present Dordrecht Minster.

Dordrecht as the ancient residence of the County of Holland

From the 11th century the Counts of Frisia and Holland and their Court took residence at Dordrecht in 1008 and build Castle "Merwe" which was finished in 1015 and would stay the residence of the Counts of Holland until 1203 when the Castle was destroyed during the Loonse war, a war between the County of Holland and the Bishops of Liege (Hugh de Pierrepont, 1200-1229) and Utrecht (Theodore of Are, 1198-1212) with their allies. These bishoprics should stay the plaque for the County of Holland for several ages as we will see in the story of the history of Dordrecht and Holland.

....The Thuredrith (Dordrecht) versus Vlardinga (Vlaardingen) doctrine....

Many scholars still withstand that Thuredriht (Dordrecht) is mentioned as the place where Dirk III made his residence on the border of the river Merwe and not near modern Vlaardingen on the river Merwe? which, as they tell, actually was the river Meuse (Maas)?, I can't understand that scholars still persist in this story despite of the many evidences that tells another story. Even the old river Thure (present part of the Voorstraat harbour in Dordrecht) gives evidence that in the old records is spoken about Dordrecht.

The reason for this error must be that Theodore III fought three wars against the See of Utrecht and Cologne, namely in 998, 1015 and in 1018. The first two in 998 and 1015 took indeed place near Vlardinga as is written in the annals "at the Bushland of Merweda near Vlardinga" but the third took place in 1018 near "Thuredriht at the Merwe" (Dordrecht).

More evidence is also that the river Meuse (Maas) and the river Waal can only be reached when coming from Tiel and further inland Colonge via the river Merwe (Merwede) when sailing in the direction of the North sea by passing Dordrecht en NOT Vlaardingen More evidence is also that Scholars agree with the story that his son Theodore IV was killed during the fourth war against the see of Utrecht, Cologne and Tiel in 1049 at Dordrecht (and not at Vlardinga).

When looking at the map of the Netherlands in the 10th century above we can see that Dordrecht was situated at the mouth of the river Merwede and had an open link with the North Sea and ships from Tiel, Cologne (Koln) and the Renish towns, sailing to England, had to pass Dordrecht. The name used in the annalsof the Counts of Holland and Frisia, written by the monks of the Abbey of Egmond, is Thuredriht (Dordrecht) and NOT Vlardinga (Vlaardingen).

Regarding this dispute I have only one question left : "Where are the ruins of the Castle at Vlaardingen"?. Count Theodore III owned only a stronghold at Vlardinga (Vlaardingen).

Thuredriht = Dordrecht at the "real" river Merwe (Merwede) and from Dirk III (1008) until Dirk VII (1203), the Counts had their residence at Dordrecht. After 1203 the residence was taken to The Hague by William I, the younger brother of Theodore VII. In 1204 Burcht "Merwe" was destroyed during the "Loonse" war (1203-1206). Later a second was build on the same spot in the 13th and 14th century (present called "Huis te Merwede").

The birthplace of the children of Theodore III and his successors is mostly mentioned as Thuredriht, of which scholars still believes as situated at modern Vlaardingen ?, but in the annals is clearly written that Count Dirk III, founded Thure-Foundadrecht also called Dortrecht, Dort, Dordt or Dordrecht in 1008 and made it his residence in "Burcht Merwe", a Castle build for his family.

Burcht "Merwe" and Caslte "Huis te Merwede"

By excavations in the 1980s is found that the first stone building that stood at this site was build before 1100 and probably consisted of a tower house at the north-eastern corner and 3 round towers which were connected by 2 residential buildings and 2 curtain walls.

The Castle of Dirk III as it could have looked like in the 11th century.
huis-te-merwede4 huis-te-merwede7 huis-te-merwede6
The ruins of Castle "Huis te Merwede" at present time

The above excavations proves that there was indeed a Castle in the 11th century on the same spot as the later Castle "Huis te Merwede". Burcht "Merwe" would stay the residence of all the Counts of Holland until 1203 when the "Loonse" war broke out and Dordrecht en Geertruidenberg became part of the Ducky of Brabant (see later).

1039 Theodore III died in 1039 and was succeeded by his son Theodore (Dirk) IV (1015-1049) and the war with Utrecht continued with evil consequences for Holland, since the Bishop of Utrecht Bernold (1026-1054), taking advantage of the embarrassment it occasioned to Theodore IV, induced Henry III (1017-1056), Holy Roman Emperor (1039-1056). to lend him his assistance in regaining possession of those lands about the Merwe and Rhine, of which, he maintained that Count Theodore III had unjustly deprived his predecessor.

Theodore (Dirk) IV, 1015-1049, Count of West-Frisia and Holland 1039-1049

Count Theodore IV of Holland

Dirk IV, was one of the most enterprising of his warlike and strenuous race. He began the long strife with the Counts of Flanders, as to the lordship over Walcheren and other islands of Zeeland; the quarrel was important, as dealing with the borderland between French and German overlord ship.

1043 Theodore IV began the long strife with the Counts of Flanders for the lordship over Walcheren and other islands of Zealand. The strife, which lasted for 280 years (1043-1323), though it did not break out into actual warfare before 1167. Theodore IV and Baldwin V of Flanders (1011-1067) had a common danger in Emperor Henry III (1017-1056) of Germany and first allied in the struggle for Lorraine.

Emperor Henry III had a dispute with King Henry I (1008-1060), of France (1031-1060) about the overlordship over Upper and Lower Lorraine (former Lotharingia (the northern part later called Brabant and the southern part later called Lorraine), the quarrel was important dealing with the borderland between French and German overlordship in the Lowlands.

Ten years war with Germany and Utrecht, Liege and Cologne (1046-1056)

1046 Emperor Henry III occupied Upper and Lower Lorraine. Godfrey III "the Bearded" (997-1069, Count of Lower Lorraine, allied with Baldwin V, Count of Flanders and Margrave of Antwerp (1035-1067), Count Theodore VI of Holland, and Herman, Count of Mons and Hainaut (1039-1051). Emperor Henry III gathered an army and went north to the Lowlands. At Flushing (Zealand), Henry III was defeated by Theodore IV and the Hollanders sacked the palace of Charles the Great (742-814) King of the Franks (768-714) near Noyon and Godfrey III burnt Verdun. Emperor Henry III fled to Utrecht. In the same year Godfrey III made public penance for burning Verdun and assisted in rebuilding the city. The allies besieged Liege, defended stoutly by Bishop Wazo (985-1048), Bishop of Liege (1041-1048).

Theodore allied himself with Godfrey III "the Bearded" of Lorraine, who was at war with Emperor Henry III and his territory was invaded by a powerful Imperial fleet and his army. But Theodore entrenched himself in his stronghold at Vlardinga, and when winter came he surrounded and cut off with his light boats a number of the enemy ships and destroyed a large part of their army as they made their way amidst the marches which impeded their retreat. He was able to recover what he had lost and to make peace on his own terms.

1047 The next year Emperor Henry III at the head of a numerous army, sailed down the river Lek and Merwe from Utrecht to Dordrecht, which he forced to surrender, as well as the towns of Vlardinga, and Ehynsburg, in Delftland. He was not able long to retain these places, Theodore IV and his allies overran and devastated the bishopric of Utrecht, while Godfrey III made himself master of the imperial city of Noyon and the emperor's army was forced to evacuate Delftland, from the overflowing of the Meuse, which rendered it impossible for the troops to remain in their encampments.

The force of the floods, also, having broken down the dyke which confined the bed of the river, it extended itself so widely as to become too shallow to admit of the passage of the Emperor's ships, which being embarrassed in the mud, were easily mastered by the Hollanders in their light flat-bottomed boats, contrived purposely for this sort of navigation. The Emperor was, therefore, obliged again to retreat over-land to Utrecht, pursued by Theodore IV and a small band of troops, who so harassed the rear of his army, that Henry with difficulty succeeded in reaching the city in safety. His departure left Theodore IV at liberty to regain possession of all the territory he had lost for a short time, which, however, he was not destined to enjoy long in peace.

On a tournament held at Liege, having accidentally inflicted a mortal wound on the brother of Herman II (995-1056), Archbishop of Cologne (1036-1056), the followers of the archbishop, together with those of Theodwin, Bishop of Liege (1048-1075), immediately attacked the Hollanders, and slew, among many others two brothers of the Count. Theodore IV himself hardly avoided the same fate by a hasty flight, and enraged at the conduct of the Bishops of Liege and Cologne caused all the merchant ships of both cities to be burnt, and forbade any future traffic with both Bishoprics.

1049Two years later he was again assailed by a coalition headed by Herman II (995-1056) Archbishop of Cologne (1036-1056) and Bernold (?-1054) Bishop of Utrecht (1027-1054). They availed themselves of a very hard winter to penetrate into the land over the frozen water.

Dordrecht occupied by Utrecht (1049-1081)

The bishops of Liege and Cologne hereupon made a confederation with Egbert, margrave of Brandenburg, and Bishop Bernold of Utrecht and Bishop Adelberd III of Luxenburg (1047-1072) of Metz, and with the assistance of some disaffected nobles of Holland, gained possession of the city of Dordrecht in 1049.

Count Theodore IV, at the head of a not very numerous force, soon after re-entered Dordrecht by night, and obliged his enemies to evacuate it, but a few days afterwards, while passing unguardedly through a narrow street, he received a wound from a poisoned arrow, shot by an unknown hand, and died within three days on January 13, 1049. The street in which this accident occurred afterwards bore the name of " 's-Graaven Straat" or Count's Street and still exist at present day.

Theodore IV died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother Florence I (1017-1061). The reign of this prince, like that of his predecessors, was rendered turbulent and unhappy, by the restless jealousy and enmity of the Bishop of Utrecht and his allies of other bishoprics.

Florence (Floris) I, 1017-1061, Count of West-Frisia and Holland 1049-1061

Count Florence I of Holland

Floris I Count of Holland, born about 1017, Dordrecht, died 28 June 1061 (murdered) near Nederhemert Gelderland Netherlands, married about 1050 with Gertrud Princess of Saxony, born about 1028 Schweinfurt Unterfranken Bavaria Germany, died 4 August 1113, children :

  1. Adelheid, born c. 1050, Dordrecht, married Arnulf IV, Count of Looz born c. 1044 died c. 1141, childrenb : Arnulf V, Count of Looz born c. 1050, died 1088
  2. Albrecht, born 1051, Dordrecht, died young
  3. Theodore (Dirk) V, born 1052, Dordrecht, died 17 June 1091
  4. Pietsser, born 1053, Dordrecht, died young
  5. Bertha, born 1054, Dordrecht, married 1072 king Philip I "the Fat" of France (1052-1108), died 1094, Montreuil-sur-Loire France
  6. Florence, born 1055, Dordrecht, died young
  7. Machteld, born 1057, Dordrecht, died young
  8. Florence, born 1059, Dordrecht, died young
  9. Adela (Christina), born 1061, Dordrecht, died 1085

Florence I, like his predecessors, was hard-fighting and tenacious, he gradually recovered possession of his ancestral lands.

1052 The eldest son of Florence !, Theodore V, later Count of Holland, born at Castle "Merwe" Dordrecht.

1054 During his reign he found a formidable adversary in the able and warlike William I of Guelders (?-1076), who, become bishop of Utrecht in 1054, and was determined to recover the lost possessions of his see.

1058 Bishop William I (1054-1076), formed a confederacy against Florence I, with his brother Wishard, governor of Guelders, Anno II (1010-1075), Archbishop of Cologne (1056-1075), Bishop Theodwin (1048-1075) of Liege, Count Lambert II of Louvain (Leuven) (1041-1063), the Lord of Cuyck, and Egbert, margrave of Brandenburg. These nobles, with their united armies, accompanied by some troops of the Empire again invaded the County of Holland. The attack was renewed in 1061 (see later).

1059 At first success attended the invaders and many places fell into their hands, but finally they were surprised and defeated near Dordrecht in 1059. The Counts of Guelders and Louvain were among the prisoners that fell into the hands of Florence I.

1060 Florence I, despairing of being able to withstand so overwhelming a force, had recourse to a stratagem, much in use in the warfare of early ages. In a field, near Dordrecht, where his forces were drawn up to await the attack, he caused pits to be dug, and lightly covered with turf, into which several of the enemies', horse, when advancing briskly, as if to certain victory, suddenly fell, and being unable to extricate themselves, the whole army was thrown into the utmost confusion, at this moment Count Florence I led forward his troops, and as they met with scarcely any resistance, the issue of the battle was decisive in their favor, 60,000 of the allied troops were slain, and his brother Governor Wishard of Guelders, Count Lambert II of Louvain, and Bishop Theodwin of Liege were made prisoners.

1061 A like success attended the arms of the Count in a second invasion, by Archbishop Anno II of Cologne, Egbert Margrave of Brandenburg, and the Lord of Cuyck, whom he defeated, and put to flight in an obstinate and murderous battle, fought near the village of lower Hemert.

Wearied with the combat,  in the hour of victory, Florence I fell asleep under a tree, not far from the scene of action, when the Lord of Cuyck, having reassembled his scattered soldiers, returned, and surprising him thus defenseless, put him to death with a great number of his followers. They did not, however, venture to attack the main body of the army, which retired in safety to Castle "Merwe" at Dordrecht.

Florence I left by his wife Gertrude (1030-1113), daughter of Herman (995-1059), Duke of Saxony (1011-1059), one son, Theodore V, and two daughters, Adelheid (1050-1088) and Bertha (1054-1094) who married in 1072 with Philip I "the Fat" (1052-1108), king of France (1060-1108).

Theodore V (Dirk), 1052-1091, Count of West-Frisia 1061-1091 and Holland 1081-1091

Count Theodore V of Holland

Florence I was succeeded by his son, Dirk V, a child, under the guardianship of his mother, Gertrude of Saxony (1028-1113).

Theodore (Dirk) V Count of Holland, born about 1052, Dordrecht, died 17 June 1091, married before 26 July 1083 with Othelhildis von Sachsen born c. 1054, daughter of Duke Ordulf von Sachsen (1022-1072), she died during the birth of her stillborn daughter 18 November 1087, children :

  1. Florence II "the Fat", born 1085, Dordrecht, died 2 March 1121
  2. Stillborn daughter, born 18 November 1087, Dordrecht

1062 The dowager of Florence I, Gertrude of Saxony (1028-1113), withdrawed from Castle "Merwe" at Dordrecht and escaped to Zealand (then called West-Frisia) with her young son and sought revenge for the murder of her husband Florence I and her father in law Theodore IV and the lost of the County of Holland, leaving Bishop William I of Urrecht in undisturbed occupation of the disputed lands.

1063 Gertrude contracted a marriage with Robert the Frisian (1031-1093), the second son of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders (1013-1067), Count of Flanders (1036-1067) a man famous for his adventurous career who was an allied to Theodore IV and Florence I in the ten years war (1046-1056) with emperor Henri III and William I of Guelders, Bishop of Utrecht (1054-1076). On his marriage his father invested him with Imperial Flanders, as an apanage ~ including the islands of Frisia (Zeeland) west of the Frisian Scheldt. He now became guardian to his stepson, guardian in whose inheritance lay the islands east of the Scheldt. To this Robert thus, in his own right and that of Theodore V, was Robert ruler of all Frisia (Zeeland), and thus became known among his Flemish Countrymen as Robert the Frisian.

War with Germany, Utrecht, Frisia and Lorraine (Brabant)

1064 Bishop William I of Guelders seems now to have seized his opportunity and occupied all the territory that he claimed. In this he was confirmed by two charters (April 30 and May 2, 1064) of Emperor Henri IV of Germany (1056-1084), Roman Emperor (1084-1105) and Bishop William I of Utrecht that the whole of the County of Holland west of the Vlie (Ijssel), and about the Rhine, with the abbey of Egmond, besides all those lands from which Theodore III had expelled Theodore Bavo (Bodegraven and Zwammerdam) in 1018, was given to the Bishopric of Utrecht.  Among the possessions thus assigned to him is found comitatus omnis in Hollandi cum omnibus ad bannum regalem pertinentibas. An examination of these documents shows the possessions of Theodore V as in Vestfiinge et circa oras Rheni, i.e. west of the Vlie (west of the Zuiderzee and Ijssel = West-Frisia) and around the mouths of the Rhine.#

# The historian Wagenaar (Vat. Hist., boek vii., No. 1) is of opinion that the Counts of Holland had no footing in Friesland, east of the Zuyderzee, until long after this period. But the whole of the land lying between the Yssel and " Liore," is mentioned in the grant of Emperor Otto III (980-1002) to Theodore II (930-988), Count of Frisia/Holland.

The Liore is much more likely to be the Lauwers in Friesland, than, as Wagenaar supposes, the small stream of the Lee in the southern part of Delftland, which, as Medemblick and Texel are also named, would exclude the Country lying between, that is, the greater portion of Delftland, and the whole of Rhynland and North Holland, indeed, a single glance at the map will suffice to show that it was hardly possible this stream could have been the boundary fixed upon for the County.

The supposition that the Lauwers is in reality the river meant, besides the similarity of the name, is further confirmed by the great probability which exists, that the Zuyderzee was still, as in the time of the Romans, an inland sea, Friesland and West Friesland forming one continued tract of land along the north of it, intersected by the Vlie, which connected the Zuyderzee with the ocean, the rivers Medemblick, Chimelosara, and other small streams.

Empress Theofana (960-991), after the death of her husband, and during the minority of her son, Otto III, enjoyed a large share in the administration of the empire and her alliance with the family of Count Theodore II of Holland, induced her to use her influence to obtain for Theodore a grant of all those states as an hereditary fief which he had hitherto enjoyed in usufruct only.

In this grant were comprehended the lands lying between the Lauwers (Liore) and Yssel, a village, then known by the name of Zonnemare, the territory between the streams of Medemblick and Chimeloes, or Gemarcha , Kemmerlarid, Texel, and Maasland, with the reservation of the tribute, commonly called "Huuslade." By this grant the hereditary succession to the County was placed on a secure and permanent footing, and from it, perhaps, might more properly be dated the commencement of its existence as a separate and independent state.

Robert I the Frisian, later Count of Flanders (1071-1092) whose reputation stood high for courage, and ability, prevented the bishop from attempting to obtain a recognition of his rights on the County of Holland for some years but Robert I was occupied with internal problems in Flanders.

1070 Baldwin VI (1030-1070), Count of Flanders (1067-1070) died after a short reign, leaving his son Arnulf III (1055-1071) an infant only 16 years old, when the government was assumed by Countess Richilda (1031-1086) of Mons and Hainaut, widow of the late Count, as regent during her son's minority, the guardianship of his nephew Count Arnhulf III of Flanders (1055-1071) being disputed by Richilde.

On Robert's demand that Richilda should make an amicable surrender of the administration, she not only refused compliance, but confiscated Aalst, and the five islands of Zealand west of the Scheldt, possessions of Robert I in Flanders, and exercised great severity on those she suspected of being his partisans.

The nobles and people of Flanders becoming weary of her extortions and oppression, sent a petition to Robert I the Frisian to come over and take possession of the regency, to which he was entitled, moreover, by a will made in his favor by his brother Baldwin VI, a short time before his death, at Oudenaarde.

1071 To avenge these injuries, Robert I collected a considerable body of troops, and besieged Richilda in Rijssel (Lille), she retired on his approach and fled into France and placed herself under the protection of Philip I "the fat" (1052-1108), King of France (1060-1108), liege lord of Flanders. She succeeded so well in making her cause appear identified with that of her son Arnulf III, that King Philip marched in person at the head of a powerful force to defend the interests of his vassal. The two armies meeting near Cassel, King Philip I sustained a severe defeat (February 1071), the young Count Arnulf III, who was present at the battle, was slain, and Richilda herself taken prisoner.

The king of France was 'glad, therefore, to conclude a peace on terms the most favorable to Robert I, whom he acknowledged as Count of Flanders, engaging at the same time to marry his step-daughter, Bertha (1055-1094), daughter of Florence I, who shortly after became Queen of France. Richilda was subsequently released, at the intercession of Emperor Henry IV (1050-1106).

While Robert was thus engaged in Flanders, an effort was made to recover the County of Holland and other lands now held by Bishop William I of Utrecht. The people of Holland (Dordrecht and Leyden) rose in revolt, but by command of Emperor Henry IV were speedily brought back under Episcopal rule by an army under the command of Godfrey the Hunchback (1043-1076), Duke of Lower Lorraine (1067-1076), to his alliance, by promising him the government of Holland, as a fief of the bishopric and gave him the command of the united forces of Utrecht, joined to some bands of mercenaries from the neighboring states. Godfrey IV, although small and deformed in person, was a leader of undoubted skill, brave, sagacious, and eloquent, and the expedition under his conduct was entirely successful.

Robert I advanced to Leyden, and attempted, but in vain, to make a stand against Godfrey IV and his allies, He was defeated in a severe battle and forced, with his wife and her children, to take refuge in Flanders (Ghent). Holland, and the whole of Zealand (West Frisia), submitted to Godfrey IV of Lorraine, later he also conquered and brought under subjection the West-Frieslanders (North-Holland) in 1076.

1072 Godfrey founded the city of Delft, he governed the Country for about four years with great harshness and severity.

1076 Again, at the request of the bishop, Duke Godfrey visited his domains in back of the Frisian borderland. At Delft he was assassinated by one Gilbert, a servant of Count Theodore V, soon after Duke Godfrey IV caused himself to be conveyed to Utrecht, where he died on February 26, 1076, Bishop William I of Utrecht died the same year on April 17. Conrad, successor to the see (1076-1099), assumed, likewise, the government of Holland, and to defend himself against any disturbance on the part of Robert I the Frisian and Theodore V, he completed the fort of Ysselmonde, begun by William I, which commanded the passage along the Yssel river.

1077 The Hollanders and especial Dordrecht, unable to endure with patience the Episcopal yoke, earnestly desired the restoration of their lawful sovereign, while the young Theodore V wished no less ardently to recover his paternal inheritance, Theodore V now grown to mans estate, was not slow to take advantage of the favorable juncture and Robert I the Frisian being in tranquil possession of Flanders, found himself at liberty to assist his adopted son in the enterprise he now formed for this purpose.

In order to strengthen themselves by an important alliance, they sought the friendship of William I "the Conqueror" (1066-1087), then king of England, who had married Matilda, sister of Robert I the Frisian. King William I sent some vessels to their assistance, which, uniting with those of Count Robert I, sailed towards the Merwe.

A large number of Utrecht ships lay in the mouth of that river, to oppose their passage, but after a long and severe contest, the whole of the bishop's fleet was either captured or dispersed, and the fortress of Ysselmonde, where Bishop Conrad himself then resided, was forced to surrender, on condition that, a free passage being granted to him and his followers, the bishop should renounce all claim to the states of the Count of Holland, and restore all the conquests made by himself or his predecessors. The fortress was afterwards dismantled, and the inhabitants joyfully took the oath of allegiance to Count Theodore V.

Dordrecht retaken by the Count of Holland 1078

In 1078 Dirk V returned to his heritage Burcht "Merwe" at Dordrecht where he married with Othelhildis, Countess of Holland in 1083.

1085 The eldest son of Theodore V, Florence II "the Fat", later Count of Holland, born at Dordrecht.

1091 Theodore V died in 1091 and was succeeded by his son Florence II "the Fat". This Count had a peaceful and prosperous reign of thirty-one years. In Dordrecht began the construction of a Romanic Church, progenitor of the later famous Gothic Dordrecht Minster (13th century).

Florence (Floris) II "the Fat", 1085-1121, Count of West Frisia and Holland 1091-1121

Count Florence II of Holland

Dirk V died in 1091 and was succeeded by his son Floris II "the Fat". This Count had a peaceful and prosperous reign of thirty-one years.

Floris II "The Fat" Count of Holland born 1085, Dordrecht, died 2 March 1121, married  1113 with Petronilla of Saxony,  Princess of Oberlothringen, born about 1086, Alcase-Lorraine, France, died 24 May 1144 buried Abbey Rijnsburg, children :

  1. Theodore (Dirk) VI, born c. 1114, Dordrecht, died 5 August 1157
  2. Florence "the black", born c. 1115, Dordrecht, died 26 October 1132
  3. Simon, born ?, Dordrecht, died ?
  4. Hedwig, born ?, Dordrecht, died ?

Florence II "the Fat", was, unlike his ancestors, a man of a pacific and somewhat indolent disposition, insomuch that he lived during the whole of his reign in peace, not only with Emperor Henry V (1106-1125), but even with his restless neighbor and hereditary foe, the Bishop of Utrecht. During his reign the first (1095-1099) Crusade took place, which was likely the reason for his future good relations with his former enemies.

Florence II sought to increase his power rather by friendly alliances than by conquests, he married Petronella (1086-1144), daughter of Theodore (Didrick) II (?-1115), Duke of Alsace, and half sister of Lothair III (1075-1137), afterwards Emperor of Germany.

Peace with Utrecht and Germany

1093 Florence II ended the conflict with Bishop Burchard (1100-1112) of Utrecht, which he inherited from his father Theodore IV, giving back the former possessions of Utrecht. This should be seen in light of the power struggle between Pope Paschal II (1099-1118) and Henry V (1086-1125) Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire), Florence II become his vassal.

From the year 1100 to 1200

1101 In 1101 he was endowed with the title of Count of Holland by Bishop Burchard of Utrecht, after acquiring Rhineland (Leiden and surroundings) ('comes de Hollant', up until that time the Count's dominion had been officially referred to as Frisia).

1106 On the accession of Henry V to the empire, the Florence II entered into a treaty with him, by which it was provided, that they should use their united efforts to obtain possession of the part of Zealand and Flanders west of the Scheldt, of which the Flanders Countess-dowager Richilda had deprived Robert the Frisian in 1071.

1108 Around 1108, Florence II married Gertrude, the daughter of Theodoric II (1070-1115), the Duke of Lorraine, half sister of the later Emperor Lothaire III (1125-1137). Gertrude changed her name to Petronila (derived from Peter), in recognition of her loyalty to the Holy See. Petronila and Floris II had four children, three boys and one girl: Dirk, Floris, Simon and Hedwig, respectively. Dirk became his successor, Dirk VI of Holland, while Floris became known as Floris "the Black" and contested his brother's power.

1114 The eldest son of Florence II, Theodore VI, later Count of Holland, born at Dordrecht.

1121 Florence II died after a peaceful reign of nearly 31 years and was burried in the Abbey of Rijnsburg.

Theodore (Dirk) VI, 1114-1157, Count of Holland and West-Frisia 1121-1157, Count of Frisia 1125-1157

Count Theodore VI of Holland

Theodore VI de Holland, born 1114, Dordrecht, died 5 August 1157, married with Sophie Countess of Rheineck born about 1117, Rheineck Rhineland Germany, died 26 September 1176 Jerusalem, Holy Land, children :

  1. Theodore (Dirk) or Pelgrim, born 1139, Dordrecht, died on the way to the Holy land in 1151
  2. Florence (Floris) III "Crusader", born 1141, Dordrecht, died 1 August 1190 Antioch, Holy Land
  3. Otto, born c. 1143, Dordrecht, became Count of Bentheim, died after 1207
  4. Baldwin (Boudewijn), born c. 1145, Dordrecht, Bishop of Utrecht 1178-1196, died 30 April 1196 Pavia
  5. Theodore (Dirk), c. 1147, Dordrecht, became Bishop of Utrecht 1197, died 28 August 1197 Utrecht
  6. Robrecht, born c. 1149, Dordrecht, died before 1190
  7. Sophia, born c. 1151, Dordrecht, Abbess of Rijnsburg (1179-1186), died after 1212, Fontanella Cremona Italy
  8. Hedwig, born c. 1151, Dordrecht, died 28 August 1167, buried Rijnsburg
  9. Geertruid, born c. 1155, Dordrecht, died 10 August 1203
  10. Petronella, born c. 1157, Dordrecht, murdered Castle "Merwe" Dordrecht, 4 December 1203

1121 After the death of Florence II his widow, Petronilla governed in the name of Theodore VI (1121-1157), who was still a minor. The accession of her half-brother, Lothair III of Supplinburg (1075 – 1137), Duke of Saxony (1106), King of Germany (1125), and Holy Roman Emperor from 1133-1137, to the imperial throne on the death of Henry V (1086-1125) greatly strengthened Theodore VI, and his mother's position.

1125 The East-Frisian districts, Oostergoo and Westergoo, were by King Lothair III transferred from the rule of the see of Utrecht to that of the Counts of Holland.

1132 These Frisians proved very troublesome subjects to Theodore VI and they rose in insurrection under the leadership of Theodore's own brother, Florence "the Black" (1115-1132), the revolt was sentenced and Florence was murdered by Herman and Godfried of Kuyk.

1133The abbey at Rijnsburg was established by Petronilla. Two of her granddaughters, Sophie (1151-1212) and Hedwig (1151-1167) would later join this abbey, Sophie as Abbess of Rijnsburg (1179-1186). Theodore VI and his mother Petronilla supported the abbeys of Egmond and Rijnsburg, which flourished in this period.

Emperor Conrad III (1093-1152), who was of the rival house of Hohenstaufen, gave back these East-Frisian districts to the bishop of Utrecht Andries van Cuijk (1070-1139) but it was in truth somewhat of an empty gift. The Frisian peasants and fisher folk loved their independence, and were equally refractory to the rule of any distant overlord, whether Count or Bishop.

1138 Theodore VI and his wife Sophie went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and it was on this pilgrimage that their first son Theodore who was called Peregrinus (Pilgrim) died when he was only 12 years old.

1139On the return journey Theodore VI visited Pope Innocent II (1130-1143) and asked for the abbeys of Egmond and Rijnsburg to be placed under direct papal authority and this request was granted. In this way Theodore VI removed the Bishop of Utrecht's influence over those Abbeys.

1141 The second son of Florence II, Florence III the "Crusader", later Count of Holland, born at Dordrecht.

1155 The East-Frisians revolted again and plundered the area of Santpoort nearby Haarlem, but they were beaten back by the knights of Haarlem and Osdorp

1156 Count Theodore VI resolved the protracted conflict between the abbeys of Egmond and Echternach, which had been ongoing ever since the establishment of Egmond in 923 by Count Theodore I. At the time of the establishment the Count had granted Egmond the rights over all the churches in the area, which had previously belonged to Echternach, including the churches in Dordrecht, the rest of Holland and the island Schouwen.

Repeated attempts were made to regain these lost rights, initially with little result although the Abbot of Egmond was a witness at the agreement, it seems he may have been under pressure there, as only a little while later he excommunicated both Count Theodore VI and his son Florence III. This perhaps is the reason that Theodore VI was, unlike his forefathers, not buried at Egmond, but at Rijnsburg.

1157 Theodore VI died August 5, 1157 and was succeeded by Florence III.

Florence III, 1141-1190, Count of West-Frisia and Holland 1157-1190

Count Florence III of Holland

Florence III "Crusader" of Holland born 1141, Dordrecht, died 1 August 1190 Antioch, married on 28 August 1162 with Ada of Scotland, sister of king William I of Scotland, also known as William the Lion, born 1140 Scotland, died 11 January 1205, buried Abbey church Middelburg, children :

  1. Ada, born 1163, Dordrecht, married 1176 Otto I, Margrave of Brandenburg 1170-1184, died after 1205
  2. Margarethha, born 1164, Dordrecht, married 1182 Dietssrich V, Count of Cleves (?-1193), murdered Castle "Merwe" Dordrecht 3 November 1203
  3. Theodore (Dirk) VII, born 1165 Dordrecht, murdered Castle "Merwe" Dordrecht 4 November 1203
  4. Willliam I, born 1167, Dordrecht, died February 1222
  5. Florence, born c. 1169 Dordrecht, Became Bishop-elect of Glasgow for five years (1202-1207) but apparently never received consecration, died Middelburg 30 November 1210, buried Abbey church Middelburg
  6. Baldwin (Baudewijn), born c. 1171, Dordrecht, died in exile 19 July 1204
  7. Robrecht, born c. 1173, Dordrecht, died before 1190
  8. Beatrix, born c. 1175, Dordrecht, died young
  9. Elisabeth, born c. 1177, Dordrecht, Abbess of Rijnsburg, died 27 August 1228
  10. Hedwig, born c. 1179, Dordrecht, murdered Castle "Merwe" Dordrecht 13 January 1204
  11. Agnes, born c. 1181, Dordrecht, died 22 April 1228

Florence III reversed the traditional policy of his house by allying himself with the Hohenstaufens. He became a devoted adherent and friend of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (1122-1190). He accompanied the emperor on two expeditions to Italy in 1158 and 1176-1178. Frederick I thanked him by making Florence III part of the imperial nobility.

Dordrecht as trade centre of Holland

1157 Florence III, finding, on his accession to the government* that the Flemish merchants evaded the payment of the tolls at Dordrecht, by passing down the Meuse (now old Meuse) by Geervlietss and Bornesse, obtained permission of Emperor Frederick I to establish a toll at Geervlietss which became the most important toll station in Holland at that time. This was actually the legalization of an existing situation, because the Counts of Holland (Theodore III) had charged tolls illegally since the start of the 11th century at Dordrecht.

The toll place at Vlardinga was uncovered since 1050. The toll place at Dordrecht was still in use but was soon replaced by Geervlietss because dikes were build around the hinterland of Dordrecht (De Groote or Zuidhollandsche Waard) and the city was fast growing to the greatest trade centre of Holland.

1165 During his reign many islands in the delta of the North Sea between Zeeland and Maasland (modern South Holland islands Ijsselmonde, Groote waard and Goeree-Overflakkee) became suitable for occupancy and exploitation. This was because the water level further decreased since the 11th century (after the third Dunkirk transgression).

Many farmers from West-Frisia and Flanders came to Holland to turn the swamps into agricultural lands. Dikes and dams were build and the border between Holland and the see of Utrecht had to be determined. There was a dispute between Florence III and Bishop Godfried of Rhenen (?-1176) of Utrecht about a new dam in the Rhine at Zwammerdam, Emperor Frederick I sided with Florence III and the dam was build.

During the whole of his reign Florence III had troubles with East-Frisia.

The eldest son of Florence III, Theodore VII, later Count of Holland, born at Dordrecht.

War with East-Frisia and Flanders

1167 A war with Philip Count of Flanders (1143-1191) concerning their respective rights in West-Zeeland broke out, he was beaten and captured in Bruges and had to accept Flemish liege-lord-ship in Zeeland as ransom. The second son of Florence III, William I, later Count of Holland, born at Dordrecht.

1170 A great flood caused immense devastation in West-Frisia and helped to form the Zuider Zee.

1188 The second daughter of Theodore VII, Ada, later Countess of Holland, born at Dordrecht.

1189 Florence accompanied Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa upon the third Crusade, of which he was a distinguished leader.

He died in 1190 at Antioch of pestilence and was buried there.

Theodore (Dirk) VII, 1165-1204, Count of West Frisia and Holland 1190-1203

Count Theodore VII of Holland

Theodore VII Count of Holland, born 1165, Dordrecht, married 1186 with Aleida of Kleve (?-murdered 11 January 1204). Theodore VII had a short but stormy and for Holland and his family a disastrous reign, children :

  1. Aleida, born 1187, Dordrecht, probably imbecile, murdered Castle "Merwe" Dordrecht 4 December 2003
  2. Ada, born 1188, Dordrecht, married 5 November 1203 Dordrecht with Louis II Count of Loon (1169-29 July 1218), died in exile 1227

Second war with Flanders

1191 During the reign of Theodore VII (1190-1203) the County of Holland became the victim in the civil war that broke out in the Holy Roman Empire in 1197, Theodore VII took the wrong site joining the site of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in the civil war against the Welfs dynasty. Because of that he had to face powerful enemies such as Germany, Flanders, Brabant, Frisia and even his younger brother William I, who had accompanied their father Florence III during the Third Crusade, and returned September 1191, soon after his return disagreement arose (reason unknown) between the new Count and his brother. William therefore sought to support the rebellious West-Frisians. Theodore tried to restore the overlord ship in West-Zeeland, lost as ransom in 1167 by his father Floris III, with the Count of Flanders Baldwin IX but without success.

1195 Theodore VII tried to restore the Liege-lordship in West-Frisia (Zeeland), lost as ransom in 1167 by his father Florence III, but the negotiations with the Count of Flanders Baldwin IX had no success. Because of that Theodore at that time could not get away from Zealand and sent his wife Aleida with an army to West-Frisia. In November it came to a engagement between Aleida and her brother-in-law William. Aleida knew to bribe the leaders of Oud Niedorp and Winkel and William was defeated.

Civil war in Germany, war with Guelders

1196 Emperor Henry VI of Hohenstaufen (1165-1197) tried to find fellows in the Lowlands against the Welfs dynasty (Otto IV of Brunswick, rival king 1198-1208). In the same year his great-uncle Bishop Baldwin of Holland, Bishop of Utrecht, 1178-1196, died at Mainz on 30 April.

Theodore VII supported Emperor Henry VI and because of that the Emperor supported Theodore VII by giving him the right to levy toll on Flemish traders in Geervlietss and also added the "Groote Waard" (the surrounding lands of Dordrecht) to Holland at the cost of the see of Utrecht. Theodore VII temporarily got the princely authority of the see of Utrecht, but this meant war with Count Otto I of Guelders (1150-1207) who was a follower of the Welfs.

1197 His great-uncle Theodore of Holland was elected as Bishop of Utrecht with the help of Theodore VII but died the same year on 28 August. Emperor Henry VI of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty was losing the civil war and Theodore VII changed allegiance to the Welfs (Emperor Otto IV of Brunswick, 1175-1218). Theodore VII interfered in the struggles between Duke Henry I (1163-1235) of Brabant (Lower Lorraine), and Count Otto I of Guelders, but without success. After the dead of Emperor Henry VI on 28 September.

In the same year the West-Frisians, stirred up to a revolt led by his brother William I who supported the rival King Otto IV of Germany, a Welf, and invaded Holland but this revolt ended in Theodore's favor. King Otto IV of Brunswick was defeated at the battle of the Grebbeberg. The brothers were reconciled and William I was made Count of East-Frisia.

Theodore VII change side to the Welfs dynasty

1198 Otto IV of Brunswick was proclaimed King of Germany as rival to Philip of Swabia, youngest son of the late Emperor Henry VI. A new Bishop, follower of the Welfs (Otto IV) was elected in Utrecht, Theodore II of Are (1197-1212), and the see of Utrecht took over princely authority of the "Groote or Hollandsche Waard" again.

From the year 1200 to 1222

War with the Duchy of Brabant (Lower Lorraine) and Utrecht

1202 Theodore VII allied with Otto I of Guelders because the Duchy of Brabant claimed Holland and they both attacked Brabant, Den Bosch was sacked by Theodore VII and on his return to Holland, laden with booty and prisoners, he was intercepted near Heusden by Duke Henry I (1163-1235) of Brabant's army, strengthened by the soldiers of Cologne and Liege, together with some troops from Limburg and Flanders.

Dordrecht as a fief of Brabant (Lower Lorraine) 1202-1283

A sharp engagement ensued, in which Theodore's troops were entirely defeated, and he himself was taken prisoner. He was released within the year upon payment of 2000 marks of silver as ransom, but by the treaty then made with the Duke, he was obliged to surrender Breda. He had to accept the Duke of Brabant as Liege-lord in the southern part of Holland, the Hollandse Waard and all the lands lying between Strijen, Waalwijk, and Brabant.

The Bishop of Utrecht (ally of Brabant) became Liege-lord in the northern part of Holland (read the area above the river Waal (Merwe) and the south border of West-Frisia, Maasland and Rhineland, (Leiden). Because of this ransom Theodore VII lost his capital Dordrecht (1202-1220) and Geertruidenberg (1202-1213) for a short period to Duke Henry I of Brabant. The ancient capital of the County, Dordrecht, became a fief of Brabant, and so continued until the year 1283, when John I, Duke of Brabant, released the Count of Holland from his fealty.

1203 Theodore did not long survive this calamity, at the end of 1203, it is said, he was attacked by a severe sickness at Dordrecht, and on the approach of death, earnestly desired to see his brother William I, with a view, probably, of bequeathing to his protection Ada (1187-1227), only 17 years of age, whom, as he had no son, left as heiress of his dominions.

He made Holland inheritable for females and his daughter Ada, inherited Holland after his dead. He died, however, before his wish could be accomplished, and his untimely fate brought new miseries on his Country, the government falling into the hands of a girl of tender years, guided by a mother, sufficiently shrewd, indeed, and courageous, but intriguing and ambitious.

Siege of Castle "Merwe" at Dordrecht, November 1203 - January 13, 1204

After Theodore VII was defeated he withdraw in his Castle "Merwe" with his family but the Castle was besieged by a coalition of enemies of the Count of Holland :

  • Hugo de Pierrepont (?-1229) Bishop of Liège (1200-1229), as ally of Bishop Theodore (Dirk) II of Are
  • Flanders, as ally because of the Tolls Flemish traders had to pay to Holland at Geervlietss from 1196
  • Theodore II of Are (?-1212) Bishop of Utrecht (1197-1212), out of revenge for the loss of the Hollandse Waard and Theodore's support of the Hohenstaufen

During this siege the Castle was attacked and heavy damaged (during excavations in the 1980s, under the foundations of the later Castle "Ter Merwe", 14th century, foundations were found of the predecessor of the present ruins, together with burned arrows). Theodore VII survived only for a short time and died 4 November 1203 in his Castle "Merwe" at Dordrecht, during this long siege many of his relatives died of hunger and by the sword, namely:

  1. His sister Margaretha born 1164, Dordrecht, Dowager of Dietssrich V, Count of Cleves (?-1193), died 3 November 1203
  2. Count Theodore VII of Holland born 1165 Dordrecht, died 4 November 1203
  3. His daughter Aleida born 1187, Dordrecht, died 4 December 1203
  4. His old-aunt Petronella born 1157, Dordrecht, died 4 December 1203
  5. His wife Aleida (Adeleide) of Kleve Germany, born ?, died 11 January 1204
  6. His sister Hedwig of Holland born 1179, Dordrecht, died 13 January 1204
  7. His younger brother Baldwin, born c. 1171, Dordrecht, died in exile as prisoner of Flanders on 19 July 1204

The last wish of Count Theodore VII was that the guardian-ship of his daughter and her states should be confided to his brother William I, was frustrated by the intrigues of the Countess-dowager Adelaide of Cleves, who, in order to debar him from all share in the administration, had determined upon marrying her daughter, (intended heiress in the female line), to Louis, Count of Loon (Looz) (1169-29 July 1218), who apparently wanted very much to take over the more important County of Holland.

But the question of female succession was not accepted without a challenge with her uncle William I, though It was the intention of Theodore VII that Ada would be his heiress after his dead. To secure the recognition of his daughters rights he had appointed his brother William I in 1196 as her guardian.

Knowing this, his widow Aleida (Adeleide), an ambitious woman of strong character, however, as soon as her husband was dead, had summoned Louis II to come secretly into Holland, during the lifetime of the Count and attempted with the Nobles of Holland, who now for the first time make their appearance as a power in the Country, to oppose the claim which William I had made to the Count-ship as heir in the male line. The wedding took place at Dordrecht before the funeral of Count Theodore VII.

Unsuitable as the match appeared, (since Loon was only a small fief of the bishopric of Liege), she now succeeded in gaining the consent of several powerful nobles to it, and used such dispatch in the completion of her design, that the nuptials of the young Countess were celebrated at Dordrecht, before her father's body was consigned to the tomb.

William I, on his arrival at the Zype, was informed about his brothers dead, and his niece already married, being unable to obtain a safe conduct from Aleida or Count Louis, to visit his brother's grave at Egmond, which he made the pretext of his coming, he returned into West-Frisia (Zeeland).

Ada of Holland 1187-1227, Countess of Holland 1203-1207

Countess Ada of Holland

Ada of Holland, born 1188, Dordrecht, married 5 November 1203 Castle "Merwe" Dordrecht with Louis II (1169-1218), Count of Loon and Rieneck and VisCount of Mainz 1191-1218, son of Gerhard II, Count of Loon and Rieneck. He waged war against the Duke Henry I of Brabant in 1194 for the inheritance of Albert III of Moha and the rights on Maastricht and Sint-Truiden. He had the rights of both cities, because he was regent of Duras. Louis II died from poisoning in 1218. Ada of Holland remained childless and died in 1227.

The "Loonse" war 1203-1208

The lost war of Holland still was not the end of the disaster that took place at that time because a few days after his dead a new war broke out, "The Loonse war" (this war should last until 1208), a war about the succession between his daughter Ada of Holland and his brother William I.

The dowager Aleida, Ada and Louis II of Loon gathered political support for their claim against that of Willem I. They found allies in Bishops Theodore (Dirk) II of Are of Utrecht (1198-1212)* and Hugo de Pierrepont (?-1229), bishop of Liège (whom he later helped to win at the battle of Steppes October, 13 1213) against Duke Henry I of Brabant. Further Count Philipe (1174-1212) of Namur, Regent of Flanders and Hainaut (intent on revenge for Flanders defeat against Theodore VII in 1195) and Duke Philip of Schwaben (rival king of Germany until 1208).

* Bishop Theodore II of Are was constantly embroiled with William I, the later Count of Holland, and each in turn was the prisoner of the other. He joined Ada of Holland and Louis II, Count of Loon, in an attempt to dispossess William I but without success. Later in 1206 he and his allies were driven out of Holland and had to take refuge under the walls of Utrecht. He contrived, however, to take Dordrecht, and burned and plundered it, but in the end he was obliged to give up his rights.

Willem I was supported by Duke Henry I of Brabant as well as by the burghers and the lesser nobility of Dordrecht and by the free farmers in the Hollandse Waard. Nevertheless Duke Henry I of Brabant must have disliked the prospect of being surrounded by allied forces, Aleida and Ada, the wife and the daughter of his former adversary the Count of Holland to the west, the Count of Namur (also the Regent of Flanders and Hainaut) to the south-west, the ambitious Count Louis II of Loon, now Ada's husband and the Bishop of Liège to the south, the Duke of Schwaben to the east and the Bishop of Utrecht to the north.

On demand of her mother Aleida of Cleve and with the consent of the Bishop of Liege, one of the besiegers of Castle "Merwe", Countess Ada, together with her young husband Louis II, escaped in the beginning of December 2003 from Dordrecht and fled to Haarlem.

Within a very short time, however, symptoms of discontent at the prospect of being governed by a female, and a stranger, began to manifest themselves among some of the nobility, even those who had consented to Ada's marriage, and Philip van Wassenaar, one of the leaders of the disaffected nobles, brought William I disguised to the island of Schouwen. Here he was received with every demonstration of joy, and shortly after, proclaimed throughout Zealand as lawful governor of the County.

The Kennemerlanders (Haarlem and surrounding), headed by Walter of Egmond, and Albert Banjaard, quickly followed the example of Zealand, and Lady Ada, and her husband, who were then at Haarlem, escaped with difficulty, in the darkness of the night, to Utrecht. But the young Countess, unable to support the loss of her mother's presence and counsel, ere long quitted that city, and hastened to rejoin her at Leyden. After her arrival at Leyden Ada was informed that her mother was killed during the siege of Castle "Merwe" at Dordrecht.

By the end of December 2003 she was besieged by Philip van Wassenaar, by order of William I, who managed to take his niece Ada prisoner in the citadel of Leyden. The citadel being poorly supplied with provisions was soon forced to surrender. Countess Ada was sent prisoner to the Island of Texel, and subsequently taken to the Court of John "Lack land" (1167-1216), king of England in 1205.

1204 The tide turned against William I in 1204. William, now being Count, however, was not more secure in his government, since Louis II, a young man of high courage and enterprising spirit, was little inclined to sit down quietssly under the loss of his bride and mother-in-law, and her princely portion.

He courted to his allies (the Bishop of Liege Hugh of Pierepont, Philip I (1175-1212), margrave of Namur, and purchased the friendship of the warlike Bishop Theodore II of Are from Utrecht for the sum of two thousand pounds Flemish), the alliance of the Duke of Limburg Henry III (1140-1221). Philip I of Namur was now governor of Flanders, in the absence of his brother Baldwin IX (1172-1205), elevated about this time to the throne of Constantinople.

An irresistible bait was held out to Philip I of Namur, by the offer of abolishing the tolls at Geervlietss and Bishop Theodore II of Are removed the toll place at Dordrecht, near Castle "Merwe", to the river Waal (Merwe) at Woudrichem more inland. Philip I promised immediate and effective aid to Louis, and many of the Holland nobles, seeing his party so rapidly increasing, fell off from their allegiance towards William I, who, thus deprived of the means of resisting the force arrayed against him, was obliged to retire from Haarlem to West Frisia (Zealand).

1205 After his departure, the whole of Holland submitted to Louis, through the activity and efforts chiefly of the Bishop of Utrecht, nor was William I long allowed to remain unmolested in Zealand. Philip I of Namur (1174-1212), landing with some troops in Walcheren, quickly made himself master of the island, and about the same time, Hugh van Voorn, a Zealand noble in the interests of Ada, possessing himself of Schouwen, subjected nearly the whole of Zealand to the authority of Louis II. While Zeeland was conquered by Philip I, Count Louis II of Loon and Bishop Theodore II of Are conquered the cities Haarlem, Leyden and Dordrecht in Holland.

William, to avoid being taken, prisoner, was forced to conceal himself from the pursuit of his enemies, under a pile of wet nets in a fishing boat, in which he happily escaped. In a short time, the administration of Philip van Voorn, governor of Zealand in the name of Louis II of Loon, became so intolerable to the inhabitants, that they determined to search out William, who was secreted in one of the islands, and to re-establish him in his authority. Willem, while still hiding, managed to organize a people's insurrection in Zeeland against their new lords, which gained momentum in Holland itself.

The scheme was executed almost as soon as formed, and Philip van Wassenaar, and Walter van Egmond, William's partisans in Holland, being informed of his restoration in Zealand, assembled with great expedition a considerable body of Kemnemerlanders, and fortified themselves in Leyden. They were driven from thence by Louis, before Count William I could advance to their assistance, who, on his arrival, found his adversary encamped near Voorschoten. William, marching to Ryswijck, took up an advantageous position there, when the Duke of Limburg Henry III, having moved forward from the camp of Louis, for the purpose of reconnoitering, was so astonished at the number and excellent condition of the enemy's troops, that he made a precipitate retreat.

This step spread terror and mistrust through the remainder of Louis's army, and the flight soon became general, arms, tents, provisions, all were left on the field, the women even joined in the pursuit of the fugitives, great numbers of whom were slaughtered, and Count Louis himself hardly reached Utrecht in safety.

Dordrecht sacked by the Bishop of Utrecht and Luik (Liege)

1206 This success was Counterbalanced by the loss of Dordrecht, which, having been captured by William's troops, now fell again into the hands of the Bishop of Utrecht.

The Bishop of Utrecht, Theodore II of Are, and Hugh of Pierepont, Bishop of Liege (1200-1229), with the help of troops from the Philip I of Namur, regent of Flanders, attacked the Capital of Holland, Dordrecht, and pillaged and plundered it and burnt a large part of the town to the ground, including the Romanic church which dated from the 11th century and many other important buildings.

So unfortunate an event disposed William to hearken to terms of accommodation and William I had to accept a treaty, which was signed at Brughes (Brugge), divideding Holland between William I and Louis II and Ada as Count and Countess of Holland. This ended the armed conflict, but William I now started a political offensive for the support of the neighboring rulers and of the population within his opponent's fiefdom. This he did very effectively.

Then, the Bishop of Utrecht (Theodore II of Are) suddenly changed sides to Willem I, after a clear indication that Louis II of Loon was losing the confidence of his supporters.

1207 The Count of Loon, thus deprived of his most active ally, induced Philip I of Namur to make an irruption into the island of Schouwen. William hastened thither upon the news of his landing, but before the two armies came to an engagement, a peace was effected by the interference of Matilda of Portugal (1157-1218), Countess dowager of Philip Alsace (1143-1191) of Flanders.

Louis being then at Utrecht, received there the news of the reconciliation between his rival and his ally, which left him no alternative but to consent to a treaty, concluded under the mediation of Philip I of Namur, who, however, took care that the terms of it should be highly advantageous to him. William, therefore, never thought fit to adhere to its conditions, of which the principal was, that he should obtain the restoration of the Countess Ada to her husband, and Louis, perceiving that there were no hopes of his performing this stipulation, sent in an ambassador (Walter Bertrand) to John "Lackland", king of England (1199-1216), to solicit the return of his wife.

King John, at this time engaged in a war with France, and in disputes with his subjects, was desirous of gaining as many partisans as possible to his own cause, and that of his nephew, King Otto IV (1175-1218), and later Emperor of Germany, whose rival, Philip of Swabia (1177-1208), was supported by the king of France. He consented, therefore, to restore the Countess, on condition that Louis should serve him in arms as often as required, and adhere to the Emperor Otto IV, so long as he should remain the ally of England. But as the circumstances in which King John was placed, his kingdom being laid under an interdict, and himself at variance with his nobles, did not admit of his affording any active assistance to Louis II.

1208 After the last important ally of Louis II, Duke Philip of Schwaben had been murdered in the beginning of 1208, William I agreed with the return of Ada under condition that she had to accept the loss of her County. Ada and Louis didn't keep their promise and continued the fight but finally William became undisputed Count of Holland, Louis II never regained any footing in Holland or Zealand again and William remained in peaceable possession of the County in 1208.

Countess Ada, after her re-union with her husband lived until the year 1218, when she died without children, her husband Louis II of Loon died the same year, probably of poisoning.

During the Loonse war the residence of the County of Holland was moved from Dordrecht to Haarlem in 1204 and 's-Gravenzande in 1208 during the reign of William I and The Hague from 1238 during the reign of his grandson, later King of Germany, William II.

William I 1167-1222, Count of East-Frisia 1196-1222, Count of West-Frisia 1203-1222, Count of Holland 1207-1222

Guillaume Ier de Hollande

William I of Holland born about 1167, Dordrecht, died 4 February 1222, the younger brother of Theodore (Dirk) VII. William I was raised in Scotland. He started a revolt against his brother Theodore VII in 1196 and became Count in East-Frisia after a reconciliation. East-Frisia was considered as part of Holland by the Counts of Holland. He took an active part in the events of his time.

Count William I was married twice. First, he was married in 1197 at Stavoren to Adelheid of Guelders, daughter of Otto I, Count of Guelders, born about 1187, Zutphen, died on 12 February 1208 while William was away on crusade. On his return he married secondly, in July 1220, Marie of Brabant, (1190-1260), daughter of Henry I, Duke of Brabant widow of Emperor Otto IV. William I and his first wife Adelaid of Guelders had the following children:

  1. Ada, born c. 1202, Haarlem, Abbess at Rijnsburg 1239, died 15 June 1258
  2. Richardis, born c.1203, Haarlem, died 3 January 1262
  3. William, born c. 1206, Haarlem, Regent of Holland 1234-1238, died 30 August 1238
  4. Otto, born c. 1208, 's-Gravenzande, Regent of Holland 1238-1239, Bishop of Utrecht, died 3 April 1249
  5. Florence IV, born 24 June 1210, 's-Gravenzande, murdered Corbie, France 19 July 1234, buried Rijnsburg

1210 The third son of William I, Florence IV, later Count of Holland, born at 's-Gravenzande.

1213 On January, 13 King Otto IV officially made Willem ruler of all lands that had formerly belonged to his grandfather Count Florence III and his brother Theodore VII, leaving Louis II and Ada with empty hands in spite of all their efforts. In the same year William I successfully reclaimed Geertruidenberg and granted the burghers civic privileges. The ancient Capital of Holland, Dordrecht, was also reclaimed but not before 1220 though both stayed a fief of Brabant until 1283.

1214 William I fought by the side of the Emperor Otto IV of the Welfs dynasty of the Holy Roman empire, in the great battle of Bouvines in 1214 against king Philip I of France.

1216 In 1216 he and many others changed allegiance to emperor Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen dynasty he took part of the battle with the later King Louis VII (1187-1226) of France, an expedition against king John "Lackland" of England (1167-1216). The Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) excommunicated him for this. Possibly because of this, William then became a fervent crusader.

1217 William I is perhaps best known in history by taking part in the fourth Crusade (1217-1219). He campaigned in Prussia and joined in the conquest of Lisbon and in Spain against the Moors and William conquered the city of Damietssta in Egypt against the Sultan of Egypt (Al-lek al-Ka) in 1219.  In Europe, he was nicknamed William the Crazy for his chivalric and reckless behavior in battle.

1220After his return from Egypt he reclaimed Dordrecht in 1220 from the Ducky Brabant and granted civic privileges to the burghers of Dordrecht. The earliest charters conveying civic privileges in the County of Holland date from his reign those of Geertruidenberg (1213) and of Dordrecht (1220) #, in the same year Dordrecht was granted the store-right for the wine trade which should stay at Dordrecht until 1795. He did not long survive his return from the fourth Crusade and died.

1222 The following cities received city rights by Count William I : 1213 Axel (Zeeland), 1213 Geertruidenberg (Holland), 1217 Middelburg (Zeeland) and 1220 Dordrecht (Holland).

The "real" age of Dordrecht as ancient Capital of Holland

In accordance to historians the town charter of Dordrecht was granted in 1220 by Count William I of Holland (1168-1224). Some historians even believe that Dordrecht is much older because early writings about Thuredriht, sometimes mentioned as modern Vlaardingen?, is the same place. In that case Dordrecht dates from about 980. Other writings stated that Count Theodore III of Holland (993)-1039) founded Dordrecht in 1008 and fortified the city in 1015 and made it his residence.

In the Middle Ages several cities already existed in the south of the Lowlands (now Belgium, France and Germany), like Luik (Liege), Metz, Achen (Aken), Koln (Keulen), Maastricht, Ghent (Gent), Brughes (Brugge) and in the Lowlands itself for instance Utrecht and Deventer. It is likely that Dordrecht also was grown to a city like these cities but that has never been proven so-far. In my opinion Dordrecht as settlement at the border of the river Thur(e) dates from before 1000 AD and became a village in 1008 and a city in 1015.

During archeological excavations in the 20th century in the old city center the archeologists found foundations of buildings they never expected. In the last 100 years there are more and more rumors that the Dordrecht Minster (Grote Kerk) is not the first Church on the same spot, the Old Court, the Agustiner Church, and the New (Nieuwe) Church and other old buildings are probably not the first on their respective spot either.

Of course it's impossible to dig on these spots without demolishing the present buildings so we will never know. Keep also in mind that it was usual in the Middle Ages that, when attacked by foreign enemies, the conquerors burned the conquered places to the ground and rebuild it in their own way. The ruins of Castle "Merwe" is one of the buildings of which the age is uncertain until this day. There were more Castles build on the same spot, the first in 1015 and later one in 13th and another in the 15th century.

The fact that Count Theodore IV of Holland was attacked and killed in 1049 at Dordrecht by the army of the Bishops of Cologne, Liege and Utrecht can only be explained when Dordrecht was already an important city in those days. His successor, Count Theodore VII of Holland, also died at Dordrecht in 1203, this can be seen as more proof that the city was an important meeting place and residence for the Counts of Holland in the Middle Ages (11th-13th century). Further is known from ancient documents that Dordrecht was in already in the 11th century governed by a predecessor of a Burgomaster and a Schout (who represented the Count), typical for a real city. 

In my opinion was Dordrecht already a city in 1015 with civic privileges (given by Count Theodore III of Holland, who belonged to "The House of Frisia-Holland", and received two centuries later as ancient Capital of Holland from the Counts of Holland (William I), who belonged to "The House of Holland", "city-rights" (civic privileges) in 1220, see the story above. In other ancient writings we can find proof that Dordrecht was already a city, complete with a Ruwaard and Burgomaster which functions are typical in a city, further Dordrecht was already an important trade centre in 1159 and aloud to trade goods in 1200, by Theodore VII, Count of Holland (1165-1203), who was married with Alieda or Adeleide, a strong ambitious woman, the text of this grant reads as follows :

Grant of a Hanse to the Citizens of Dortrecht

Theodore, Count of Holland: Grant of a Hanse to the Citizens of Dortrecht, 1200. (The townsmen of Dortrecht were organized in a gild which they called a "hanse").

I, Theodore, by the grace of God, Count of Holland, and Adelaide, Countess of Holland, my wife, wish it to be known to all, both present and future, that we decree that our townsmen of Dortrecht may enjoy in their own right the following freedom in the said town, namely, that it is permitted to no one in Dortrecht to cut cloth for retail sale except to those who are designated by this trade, being called cutters of cloth, and except they be in the hanse and fraternity of the townsmen belonging to Dortrecht. And that this charter, instituted by us, may forever be secure and intact, we corroborate it by affixing our seals thereto, and the signatures of witnesses. These are the witnesses, etc.,..........

Source. Medieval Sourcebook , From: C. Gross, The Gild Merchant, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1890), Vol. I, p. 293, reprinted in Roy C. Cave, Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936, reprint ed., New York: Biblo, Tannen, 1965), p. 219.

The first Hanse of 1200 that was granted was the Cloth-trade by Count Theodore (Theodore VII) of Holland and in 1220 the Hanse for the Wine trade was granted by Count William I of Holland, after he returned from the Holy Land. From 1293 on the Wool-trade was granted by Count Florence V and King Edward I of England.

....Note: the "real" city-rights given by the Counts of Holland belonging to the House of Frisia/Holland dates from 1015 and the first city rights by the Counts of Holland (civic privilege) from 1220.

Keep in mind that there are older cities in Western Europe who became cities much earlier, prove that "city rights" were not a monopoly of the Counts of Holland alone but these rights were given by ALL (Counts, Dukes and Kings) in those days and were granted to places with important roads, waterways and strategic locations, all over Europe and not only in the Lowlands. With other words :

The first (original) city-right was granted in 1015 (by The House of Frisia-Holland). The second city-right (civic privilege or Stapelrecht) was granted in 1200 (by The House of Holland).

Dordrecht had already city-rights when the Counts of "The House of Holland" came to power in the 10th century. Dordrecht is at this moment thus 1,000 years old (in 2015) and as settlement probably 1,200 years old.

The history of Dordrecht part 3

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

Part 3

From the year 1299 to 1356

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

Holland ruled by the house of Avesnes-Hainaut 1299-1356

Coat of arms of Holland-Hainaut

Upon the death of his cousin Count John I on 10th November 1299, John of Avesnes returned immediately to Holland, where he was acknowledged as by the nobles, commons, and towns, as Count, in right of his mother, Adelaide, sister of William II, as Count he took the name John II of Holland.

John II 1247-1304, Count of Hainaut 1280-1304, Count of Holland and Zeeland 1299-1304

Count John I of Hainaut

John II of Holland and Avesnes, born 1247, was the son of John I of Avesnes, Count of Hainaut (1218-1257), and Aleida, sister of Count William II of Holland (1227-1256). He married in 1270 with Philippa of Luxembourg born 1252, Luxembourg, died 6 April 1311, Valenciennes, children :

  1. William, born c. 1286, Hainaut Belgium, died 7 June 1337, Valenciennes
  2. Henri, born c. 1271, Valenciennes, died after 18 March 1303
  3. Alix, born c. 1273, Valenciennes, died 26 October 1317
  4. Marguerite, born c. 1274, Valenciennes, died 18 October 1342
  5. Isabelle, born c. 1275, Valenciennes, deid  December 1305
  6. Jean Compte, born c. 1278, Valenciennes, died 11 July 1302
  7. Jeanne, born c. 1279, Valenciennes
  8. Marie, born c. 1280, Valenciennes, died 28 August 1354, Murat Castle Bourbonnois
  9. Valeran, born c. 1282, Valenciennes

On his succession to the Count-ship of Holland in 1299 the Hollanders (with Dordrecht as precedence) and the lower nobility, Duivenvoorde, Santhorst and van der Mije were willing to receive him but the Zeelanders were hostile and a long struggle ensued before his authority was generally recognized.

1300 In Zealand, however, Count John II found the party of Wolferd van Borselen among the nobles, sufficiently powerful to offer a formidable resistance to his authority. John III van Renesse, who had been banished by Wolferd, due to an unsuccessful attempt to gain possession of the late Count's (John I) person, returned to Holland, but as he could not find sureties for his future good conduct, the negotiation with John II was broken off, Renesse retired into Zealand, where he not only made a reconciliation with the friends and partisans of Borselen, his former rival, but even succeeded him as their leader.

But Flanders was unable to support him against Holland because Count Guy of Dampierre (1226-1304) of Flanders was taken prisoner (together with his son Robert III of Bethune (1246-1322)) in the hands of King Philip IV of France (1268-1314), and the Country was overrun by the troops of Count Charles I of Valois (1270-1325). John III van Renesse, therefore, turned his eyes towards King Albert I (1255-1308) of Germany (founder of the house of Habsburg), to whom he represented that Holland and Zealand had now reverted to the empire as an escheated fief, of which it would be easy to take possession, since most of the nobles and towns were strongly averse to the government of a native of Hainaut.

The king, flattering himself that Holland could not long resist his power, sent letters to each of the towns separately, demanding their homage, and shortly after marched at the head of an army, and accompanied by the archbishops of Metz, Treves, and Cologne, as far as Nijmegen.

But the towns, instead of complying with the mandates of the emperor, transmitted his letters to Count John II, and the people of all ranks assembled round his standard in such numbers, that he was able to advance to Nijmegen with a force far superior to that of the emperor, who, on his approach, hastily retreated to Kranenburg and, suspecting that he had been purposely deceived by John III van Renesse, consented without hesitation to a treaty proposed by the Archbishop of Cologne, in which he promised to retire immediately and leave John II in quietss possession of the County, on his doing homage for it as a fief of the empire. On the arrival of a fleet from Zealand in the Lek, to the assistance of the Emperor, John van Renesse found the treaty already concluded, and were advised by King Albert I to return without delay to their own Country.

During their absence, John of Oostervant, son of the Count of Holland, entered Zealand, ravaged the open Country, threw down the forts, and made himself master of Schouwen, Walcheren, and South Beveland and as the Zealanders sailed homewards down the Waal, they received intelligence that Count John II had posted ships in the mouths of the Lek and Merwe to intercept their passage. They, therefore, landed, and, after an unsuccessful attempt to surprise Schoonhoven, retired to Flanders, from whence they made irruptions from time to time on the coasts of Zealand.

1301 In the meantime Bishop William II Berthout of Utrecht (1296-1301) not satisfied with the share he had borne in the revolt of Gijsbrecht IV van Amstel, Gerard van Velsen and Hermann van Woerden against Count Florence V, preached a crusade against Holland, and made an assault on Monnikendam, but, being forced by the Kennemerlanders to take refuge in Overyssel, he consented to purchase a peace by the cession of Amstel and Woerden. In the same year the young city of Amstel (Amstelland) received city rights from John II and became later known as Amsterdam.

In the summer of 1301 John II went into Hainaut, leaving the government of Holland and Zealand in the hands of his brother Guy and his third son, William, now about fifteen. He had conferred upon the former the lordships of Amstel and Woerden. On his absence Bishop William II Berthout of Utrecht invaded Amstelland, but was killed in battle. John II made use of his victory to secure the election of his brother Guy of Avesnes (1253-1317) as bishop of Utrecht (1301-1317).

1302 The Count, unable from the feeble state of his health to undergo the slightest exertion, surrendered the whole government of the County into the hands of his son William (now his heir, both the elder brothers being dead, of whom John, Count of Oostervant, was killed at the battle of Courtrai in 1302) and retired into Hainaut for the last time.

War with Flanders 1302-1304

A war with Flanders followed, in which the Flemings were at first victorious, but after a struggle of many vicissitudes they were at length driven out of Holland and Zealand in 1304 but not before the young Prince William (1285-1337) had to deal with the powerful Flemish enemy Guy of Dampierre Count of Flanders (who was released from prison by King Philip IV of France, a few months before) and his ally John III van Renesse in Zealand.

1303 The greatest zeal in the service of their Country, under the young Prince, then just eighteen, was found to pervade all ranks of men, the nobility took the field at their own cost, and the towns voluntarily supplied double their quotas of troops, while his uncle Guy, bishop of Utrecht, brought to his aid a brave and numerous body of auxiliaries.

With this army Prince William embarked on board a considerable fleet of ships, with the design of intercepting the Flemings on their way to Zealand, But finding that they had already landed in Duyveland, with Count Guy and John III van Renesse at their head, the Holland troops hastily left the vessels, without the permission of Prince William, and had hardly reached the shore when they were attacked, while yet in disorder, by the Flemings. A severe battle ensued, in which the Hollanders sustained a total defeat, several of the nobility were killed and Bishop Guy was taken prisoner, William only avoided the same fete by seeking refuge within the walls of Zierikzee.

After this victory, Count Guy of Flanders sailed to North Holland (West Friesland), where the inhabitants, struck with dismay at the overthrow of an army on which they had relied, and whose equipment had left them nearly defenseless and urged, moreover, by the intrigues and solicitations of John van Renesse, who labored incessantly to forward Guy's interests, submitted with little resistance, and all the towns in that quarter, except Haarlem received Flemish garrisons.

Holland overrun by Flanders except Dordrecht

While in this troubled condition in West-Friesland, John II (1275-1312) Duke of Brabant (1294-1312), with whom Count Gay of Flanders had formed an alliance in 1302, invaded South Holland, made himself master of Zevenbergen, and Geertruidenberg, and sat down before Dordrecht. This ancient city was saved by the valor of one of its citizens, Nicholas van Putten, then in command of the garrison and burghers.

After several sallies by the besieged, the Brabanters found themselves obliged to retreat to Waalwijk, where, being followed and attacked by the Dordrechters, they were defeated with great slaughter, and the Duke, with the remainder of his troops, lost no time in making the best of his way back to Brabant. Guy of Flanders, meanwhile, had marched without check to Utrecht, of which he took possession. Nearly the whole of Holland, except Dordrecht, was now overrun by Flemish troops, and Zealand, except Zierikzee and West-Friesland except Haarlem subdued.

Count John II remained sick in Hainaut, Bishop Guy, his brother, was a prisoner, and the young William shut up in Zierikzee. It seemed, indeed, as if the County had wholly fallen a prey to her ancient and inveterate for when it was at once set free by one of those sudden bursts of enthusiastic energy which are characteristic for this remarkable people.

Witte van Hamstede, an illegitimate son of Florence V, having sailed out of Zierikzee in a single vessel, was driven by stress of weather into Zandfort, and thence proceeded with a few followers to Haarlem, the only town of West-Friesland which had not submitted to the Flemings. From hence he sent letters to the other towns, upbraiding them with cowardice, and earnestly exhorting them to resist to the last their insolent enemies, he himself being come, he said, to deliver Holland from Flemish tyranny.

His call did not remain unanswered, within two days the burghers of Delft, Leyden, and Schiedam, rose with one accord, slew or drove out the Flemish garrisons, and Nicholas van Putten, of Dordrecht, taking advantage of the occasion to attack the Flemings in South Holland and the County in the space of a single week was nearly cleared of her invaders.

Guy of Flanders was at Utrecht at the time of this revolution, and immediately on hearing the intelligence, set sail in a number of cogs that were lying in the Yssel, and proceeded through Hollands Diep to the island of Schouwen, with the design of surprising Count William III in Zierikzee; but, finding the garrison prepared to receive him, he retired by way of the Scheldt into Flanders.

The Battle of Zierkzee 1304

1304 After the departure of the Flemings from Holland, Prince William returned from Zierikzee to Dordrecht, where he was welcomed with the most extravagant joy, the citizens congratulated each other that he was come to avenge their disgrace, every house was illuminated; and the Country people, on hearing of his arrival, flocked in crowds to see him, the Lord Witte van Hamstede also brought a considerable force of West-Frieslanders and Kennemerlanders to place at his disposal.

The recovery of Holland was ere long followed by that of Zealand. Prince William, hearing that Count Guy was preparing a fleet in Flanders for the reduction of Zierikzee, sent a petition for succors from Philip IV of France. Since the separation of Hainaut from Flanders, the interests of the former state and those of France had been closely connected. Philip therefore, at the request of his ally, sent sixteen Genoese and twenty French vessels to Holland, under the command of Rinaldo di Grimaldi, of Genoa, commonly called "the Admiral" an officer of superior skill and experience.

Hearing that a fleet was preparing in France to assist the Hollanders, Count Guy of Namur (1272-1311), younger son of Guy of Flanders, hastened, before it was in readiness to act, to lay siege to Zierikzee; and made several attempts to carry it by assault, but was constantly repulsed by the valor of the inhabitants. During the whole of the siege, the women shared the fatigues and danger equally with the men, they carried the large stones from the streets to supply the engines on the walls, and when any fire occurred, from the combustible missiles of the besiegers, they undertook to extinguish it alone, that the men might not be called off from the defense.

Meanwhile the French fleet united with that of Holland in the mouth of the Meuse, and after being long delayed by contrary winds, came within sight of the Flemish ships, eighty in number, lying in the Gouwe, between Schouwen and Duyveland, on the evening of the 10th of August 1304. Here four of the Holland vessels ran aground on the sands not far from Zierikzee, in consequence of which, William and the French admiral determined to delay the engagement till the following day. Hardly had they come to this resolution, when they perceived the Flemish ships advancing towards them in battle array, as they drew nigh, the Hollanders, encouraged by a short and spirited address from their leader with loud shouts of "Holland, Holland! Paris, Paris" threw a shower of arrows and stones among the enemy, which the Flemings were not slow in returning.

In the early part of the battle the latter mastered three of the Holland vessels, and greatly annoyed the rest by missiles thrown from the "cokets", or small stages fastened to their masts. Suddenly, however, the mast of one of the largest ships, to which a turret of this kind was attached, fell with a tremendous crash, and the Hollanders, taking advantage of the confusion, ran alongside, boarded, and took possession of her, putting the crew to the sword. At this moment the four stranded vessels, launched by the tide, came drifting down upon the combatants.

The sailors, while they had been forced to remain inactive spectators of the contest, had prepared torches of dry wood, and tow, and other combustibles: these they now threw flaming into the faces of their adversaries, and created considerable disorder among them. The fight, however, was continued by moonlight with unremitting fury until past midnight, when the victory proved decisive on the side of the Hollanders, most of the Flemish ships being either captured or destroyed.

Partial skirmishes were renewed throughout the night with the few that remained, and early the next morning the vessel which contained Count Guy of Namur was observed with all her sails up, endeavoring to escape. Being prevented by the lightness of the wind, Grimaldi came up with her, and forced her to close combat, a long and destructive conflict ended in the capture of Count Guy, whom Grimaldi carried prisoner to France.

The inhabitants of Zierikzee, unable from the uncertain light to distinguish the combatants, spent the night in the deepest anxietssy, they had come to a determination, in case their Countrymen were defeated, to make a general sally, women as well as men, and fight their way as they best might through the camp of the besiegers. On the news of the victory obtained by the Hollanders, the Flemish troops left the siege in confusion and dismay, concealing themselves for the most part among the sand-hills of Schouwen, where about five thousand were made prisoners.

The imprisonment of Count Guy of Namur terminated the war in Zealand, and Prince William was received in Middleburg with lively expressions of satisfaction from all, except the partisans of Flanders, the greater part of whom subsequently quitted the city. The other towns of Zealand speedily followed the example of Middleburg, and many of the disaffected nobles, upon a promise of pardon, returned to their allegiance, while the more zealous adherents of Count Guy retired into Flanders. John III van Renesse, the prime mover of these disturbances, was drowned with several others, within a week of the battle of Zierikzee, while attempting to cross the Lek in a ferry-boat; and thus the County was entirely freed from its enemies.

Count John II had scarcely received the intelligence of his son's success, when the sickness under which he had so long languished carried him to the grave, on the 22nd of August 1305. John II of Avesnes was pious, affable, humane, and beneficent; but indolent and irresolute, negligent in the administration of justice, and averse to any kind of business, passionately fond of hunting and hawking, and too much addicted to the pleasures of the table, "he laughed in his very heart", says his historian, "when he saw a jolly company assembled round him".

William III "the Good" 1285-1337, as William I Count of Hainaut, as William III Count of Holland and as William II as Count of Zeeland 1304-1337

Guillaume I de Hainaut

William III "the Good" Count of Hainaut d'Avesnes born about 1286 Hainaut, married on 19 May 1305 with Jeanne de Valois born about 1294, died 7 March 1342, Fontenelle Yonne France, children :

  1. Elizabeth, born c. 1318, Hainaut Belgium
  2. Sibylla, born 1310, Le Quesnoy France
  3. Margareth I, born 1311, Le Quesnoy France, married February, 26 1324, in Köln, with Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria (1282-1347), died 1356
  4. Jan, born 1315, Le Quesnoy France, died 1316
  5. Philippa, born c. 1314, Mons Hainaut, became Queen of England, died 14 August 1369, Windsor Castle Windsor Berkshire England
  6. Johanna, born 1315, Le Quesnoy France, died 1374
  7. Willem IV, born c. 1317, Le Quesnoy, France, died 26 September 1345, Warns Friesland
  8. Agnes, born c. 1320, Le Quesnoy France, died after 24 November 1327
  9. Louis, born 1325, Le Quesnoy France, died 1328

John II died in 1304 and was succeeded by his son William III, surnamed the Good (1304-1337). In his reign the long-standing quarrel with Flanders, which lasted during a century and a half (1167-1323) and caused so many wars, was finally settled by the treaty of Paris in 1323 with Louis I (1304-1346) Count of Flanders 1322-1346, by which the full possession of West Zeeland was granted to William III, who on his part renounced all claim in Imperial Flanders. Amstelland with its city Amsterdam, which had hitherto been held as a fief of Utrecht, was by William III on the death of his uncle Bishop Guy (1317) finally annexed to Holland.

This Count did much to encourage civic life and to develop the resources of the Country. He had close relations through marriage with the three principal European dynasties of his time. His wife was Jeanne of Valois, niece of king Philip V "the tall" (1292-1322) of France 1316-1322. In 1323 the emperor Louis IV of Bavaria (1282-1347) wedded his daughter Margareth and in 1328 his third daughter, Philippa of Hainaut, was married to Edward III (1312-1377), king of England 1327-1377. By their alliance William III occupied a position of much dignity and influence, which he used to further interests and increased the welfare of his hereditary lands. He was in all respects a great prince and a wise and prudent statesman.

Although the government of the County had been placed in the hands of William for some time before the death of his father, he received homage anew after that event from the nobles and towns. He took the name of William III as Count of Holland and Zealand.

1305 Early in the year, he repaired to the court of France, to fulfill a contract of marriage which had been made for him in the lifetime of his father, with Joanna of Valois (1294-1342), daughter of Charles of Valois (1270-1325), and niece of King Philip IV of France.

Upon his arrival he found a treaty on foot between France and Flanders, wherein all the allies on both sides were included, except himself in respect of the Counties of Holland and Zealand. He therefore attempted to negotiate a separate peace with Robert III of Bethune (1249-1322), successor to the County of Flanders (1305-1322), after the death of the old Count Guy, but could not succeed in obtaining anything further than a four years truce.

The first schism between the Counties of Hainaut and Holland

After 5 year of reign by William III as Count of Holland and Zealand (1305-1310) the first differences between the Counties of Hainaut and Holland were unveiled, Holland and Zealand became aware that the house of Avesnes, as a foreign dynasty, often made decisions in favor of Hainaut while Holland and Zealand were placed at the second rank.

1310 At the expiration of the four years truce with Flanders, in the summer of 1310, Robert III of Flanders prepared to invade Hainaut with a considerable army. Count William collected a sufficiently numerous body of cavalry to oppose him, but found himself nearly destitute of infantry, since the people of Holland and Zealand, when called upon to serve in the war, perceiving probably that the security of Holland was sacrificed to the welfare of Hainaut, resolutely refused obedience, declaring that they had enough to do in defending their own coasts from the threatened invasion from Flanders.

After reconciliation between the principal towns of Holland (Dordrecht, Delft, Leyden and Haarlem) was concluded that Hainaut should pay the costs for the war with Flanders themselves and that no support of infantry should be given for reason that a new war with Flanders was not in their interest. William III was obliged by the principal towns of Holland to conclude a treaty with Robert III of Flanders on most disadvantageous terms, agreeing to hold the islands west of the Scheldt as a fief of Flanders, to pay to Guy of Namur, (the same who had been taken prisoner at Zierikzee), the brother of Robert III the Bethune, a yearly sum equal to the revenue of those islands, and to resign all rights to Waasland (Antwerpen) and the four manors.

Peace with Flanders after a long period of wars (1167-1323)

1320 By the treaty made between France and Flanders in 1320, the disputes between the latter and Holland were referred to the arbitration of the King of France Philip V "the Tall" (1316-1322), and accordingly an agreement was afterwards entered in 1323 by the two Counts, under the mediation of the new King of France Charles IV (1322-1328) in Paris, whereby the Count of Flanders Loius I (1322-1346) released the Counts of Holland from their homage for the Zealand Islands, and William III on the other hand, renounced all right to Aalst, Waasland, and the four manors. Future differences were to be settled by the arbitration of six good men, chosen on each side. This treaty was confirmed by the principal towns of Holland, Hainaut, and Flanders. The conclusion of this propitious peace, which put a final termination to the long and desolating wars between Holland and Flanders.

1324 William III strengthened himself still further by alliances with the families of the principal sovereigns of Europe. He himself was united to the first cousin of the reigning King of France, Charles IV, and in this year his daughter Margaret (1311-1356) became the wife of Louis of Bavaria (1282-1347), King of Germany (1314-1328 and Holy Roman Emperor (1328-1347).

Relations with England

1325 In 1308 Edward II, king of England had been married to Isabella (1295-1358), daughter of King Philip IV of France, but from his deficiency in courage and talent, as well as his weak subservience to contemptible favorites, he failed in securing the love or esteem of the princess. She was now at the court of her brother King Charles IV of France, forming a party to deprive the husband she detested of the crown, and to place it on the head of her son Edward. Her brother was unwilling to help her, though he was said to encourage secretly the design of Isabella, but publicly refused her any Countenance or assistance, and even commanded her to leave the kingdom. it therefore became necessary to look to some quarter from whence she could receive speedy and efficient aid.

1326 Count William III of Holland seemed the most likely to afford, and, in order to gain his support, Isabella opened negotiations for a marriage between her eldest son Edward (1312-1377), heir apparent to the crown, and Philippa (1314-1369), second daughter of the Count. Shortly after, she repaired in person to Hainaut, where she interested John de Beaumont (1288-1356), brother of Count William III, so successfully in her cause, that he raised a body of three hundred lances for her service. The Holland troops set sail in company with the Queen from Dordrecht, and, on their arrival in England, found a large majority of the nation so disgusted with the government of the court favorites, that scarcely an effort was made in defense of the sovereign.

1327 The young prince was proclaimed king by the name of Edward III, and within a short time after sent to Holland to demand his promised bride, but on account of the youth of the parties, and that their too near relationship made it necessary to procure a dispensation from the Pope, which there was considerable difficulty in obtaining

1328 The marriage was concluded in 1328, when William III himself went over to England to be present at the ceremony. During his stay in England he negotiated with his son-in-law King Edward III to place the wool staple again in Holland, without success, the wool staple should stay at Mechiln (Brabant) though during the 100 years war with France (1337-1437) the Edward III wool staple again came to Dordrecht from 1338 to 1343.

Schism between William III and Holland

The personal alliances of Count William III with France, Germany and England was also in favor of Holland but the disproportional expenses of his court, his excessive love for tournaments and the costs for the marriages of his daughters caused discontents by the towns which ware of meaning that his wealthy Hainaut also had to pay for it.

Because of this the Count was accustomed to make "petitions" or Beden, as they were called, to the towns, together with his frequent journeys, cost the Country sums so immense that they refused to pay the penalty and involved him at first in altercations with the Kennemerlanders, which, had his authority from the beginning less respected and proved as injurious to him as the revolts of the West-Frieslanders had been to some of his predecessors.

1330 When William, according to the custom of the County, demanded in person a "petition" of the Kennemerlanders, they replied, that they would consent to pay it only on condition that the Count would sign a certain charter of privileges (like Dordrecht already enjoyed), which they presented to him. On his refusal, they persisted in withholding the subsidy, and William withdrew in auger to the Hague, whither he shortly after summoned the deputies from Kennemerland before the council, or supreme court of Holland.

Here they offered to increase six fold the sum required of them, provided the Count would accept their conditions, but, so far from yielding to their solicitations, he deprived them even of those immunities which they already enjoyed, and had purchased with infinite cost and pains. Their sheriffs and burgomasters being imprisoned on a single word from the Count. The privileges of the towns, it is evident, stood even yet on a very insecure foundation.

1331 Dordrecht, in all probability, was in the habit of supplying liberally the demands of the Count, since William granted them freedom from tolls through the whole County, and extended still further the staple right they already enjoyed in prejudice of the ancient privileges of the other towns.

1332 The people of Dordrecht exercised their rights with so little restraint, and with so many acts of extortion against other Holland towns that they not only roused the hostility of the whole of North Holland, but excited the anger of the Count himself, their principal defender. He commanded a general levy against them, the tidings of which reduced them to speedy submission, they were deprived of all their later privileges, and had no small difficulty in retaining those back which they before possessed.

William, besides the appellation of Good, or Pious, added to his name, was termed the Master of Knights and the Chief of Princes; he was brave in war, affable to his subjects, strict in the administration of justice, and his reputation for valor and sagacity stood so high, that Germany, France, and England eagerly courted his alliance.

William, during the latter part of his life, was grievously tormented and enfeebled by the gout, yet his helpless condition did not prevent his espousing actively the cause of his son-in-law, Edward III of England, now about to enforce his imaginary claims to the crown of France.

1337 He induced John III (1300-1355), Duke of Brabant 1312-1355, Archbishop Walram von Julich (1332-1349) of Cologne, and Guillaume V (?-1361), Duke of Juliers 1356-1361, to enter into the alliance with England, and he himself engaged to furnish King Edward III with one thousand men at arms, at his own cost, who should remain a year in his service and, in case of necessity, this subsidy was to be increased by a like number, to be paid by the King from the time he landed in the Netherlands.

Edward III, on his side, agreed to allow the Count, and his son William III (1307-1345), who was appointed as Count of Zealand (1337-1345) at the beginning of 1337 to help his father during his sickness, the yearly stipend of six thousand livres, in lieu of the annuity he had hitherto enjoyed from the King of France; and that Crevecoeur, St. Alliges, and St. Surpeth, in the Cambresis, should remain in possession of the young Count of Zealand, who, on his turn, bound himself to fulfill the obligations of this treaty after his father's death.

Scarcely a fortnight elapsed from the time of its signature when this event occurred. Worn out by his infirmities, the old Count expired at Valenciennes, on the 7th of June 1337, leaving one son, William, who succeeded him, and four daughters, Margaret, Empress of Germany, Philippa, Queen of England, Joanna, married to the Duke of Juliers, and Elizabeth.

His government was not altogether a happy one for Holland, he depressed the rising industry of the towns by the demand of enormous "petitions," to supply a lavish, and often unnecessary expenditure and he is accused of sacrificing the interests of Holland to those of Hainaut, or, as his contemporary historian expresses it, "forsaking the fruitful Leah for the more beautiful Rachel".

William IV 1317-1345, as William II Count of Hainaut, as William IV Count of Holland and as Count William III Count of Zeeland 1337-1345

Guillaume II de Hainaut

William III was succeeded by his son William as Count William IV of Holland and as Count William III of Zealand. During his reign (1337-1345), he was mostly occupied defending Hainaut against France and England. He married in 1336 with Joanna of Brabant (1322-1406), daughter of John III of Brabant (1300-1355). She afterwards married Wenceslaus (1337-1383), Count of Luxemburg in 1352, into whose family she brought the rich Duchy of Brabant.He left no children by his wife.

1338 Edward III of England, his brother-in-law, urged him to help him invading Tournay and Picardy in France but the Count of Holland refused to follow him, asserting that, being a vassal of the King of France, in respect of Hainaut, he was bound rather to defend than assist in invading his dominions. Edward III, out of revenge, took his way through Hainaut, which suffered grievously from the passage of his troops.

1339 In Dordrecht the foundation was placed of the Tower of the Dordrecht Minster and the oldest parts of the high chorus of the church are built, the Minster was finished by the end of the 14th century, except the tower which was never build as was intended (see the whole story on my Dordrecht-buildings pages).

The Count of Holland, exasperated at the circumstance of Philip VI (1293-1350), King of France 1328-1350, having given the officers of the French army permission to supply themselves with provisions and money by plundering Hainaut, again returned to the English alliance, and declared war against France, which he now invaded, and took some places of small note but, on the other hand, his County of Hainaut was cruelly ravaged by the French troops, under the Duke of Normandy, who laid siege to Fontaine-l'Evêque.

The Count, anxious to preserve fortress Evêque, besought the assistance of King Edward III, then in England. In compliance with the solicitations of his ally, Edward embarked on the 22nd of June at Dover, and fell in with the French fleet of one hundred and twenty large, besides numerous smaller vessels, near Sluys (Zealand).

Either William or the Hollanders had any share in the signal victory gained by the English and Flemish but the Count was present at a meeting of the confederates subsequently held at Vilvoorden, where the siege of Tournay was resolved on, and attended the king thither at the head of a powerful and well-equipped body of cavalry from Holland and Zealand. He did not, however, remain with the king's camp during the whole of the siege, but employed his troops in gaining possession of Mortaigne, St. Amand, and some other small towns.

1340 While Edward III was engaged in this enterprise, his mother Jeanna of Valois (1294-1352, Countess-dowager, sister to the French King, interposed her good offices between the belligerent powers, and a truce for nine months was brought about by her mediation, which was afterwards prolonged for two years.

1343 William was fond of adventure and made a journey to the Holy Land in disguise, and on his way took part in an expedition of the knights of the Teutonic Order against the infidel Wends and Lithuanians.

1344 The finances of the see of Utrecht were reduced to so dilapidated a condition, that Bishop, John III van Diest (1322-1340), had been forced to alienate nearly the whole of his revenues. His successor, Bishop John IV van Arkel (1342-1364), had, on the contrary, managed his affairs so well, that within a short time after his succession, he redeemed the whole of Overyssel, pledged to the Duke of Guelderland and, in order to live with more frugality, he withdrew to Grenoble, leaving his brother Robert van Arkel, protector of the bishopric in his absence.

1345 For vaguely reasons William declared war against Utrecht immediately after the bishop's departure, and laid siege to the city with an army of thirteen hundred knights, and twenty-eight thousand choice troops. He had remained six weeks before the town, when he was induced by his uncle, John de Beaumont, to conclude a truce, to which he consented only on condition that four hundred citizens should sue for pardon, kneeling before him, barefoot and bareheaded, and that he should receive a sum of twenty thousand pounds Flemish for the expenses of the war.

From Utrecht, William returned to Dordrecht, whence he sailed shortly after to the Zuyderzee, for the purpose of chastising the Frieslanders, who, irritated by his continual and heavy exactions, had taken up arms against him. A storm separating his ships and the troops were forced to land in small bodies in different parts of the Country, the Frieslanders attacking them while thus divided, slew three thousand seven hundred and the Count himself, with some of his nobility, being surrounded by a great number of the enemy, he was killed exactly on the spot where the ancient sovereigns of Friesland were accustomed to hold their supreme court.

The question as to the succession now brought on Holland a period of violent civil commotions. His inheritance was claimed by his eldest sister, the Empress Margareth I of Holland, as well as by Philippa of Hainaut, or in other words, by Edward III of England.

Rise of the house of Bavaria in Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland

William's nearest heirs were his four sisters, Margaret II (1311-1356), Countess of Hainaut and Empress of Germany, Philippa of Hainaut (1311-1369), Queen of England, Joanna of Hainaut (1315-1374 and Isabelle of Hainaut (1323-1361), the County of Hainaut had always been an undivided hereditary state, it appeared naturally to devolve on Margaret the eldest.

Edward III, king of England, however, the husband of Philippa, the second daughter of William III, put in his claim to a share of the inheritance, and appointed Otho, lord of Cuyck, John de Clynton, and Adam de Shareshull, to arrange the terms of the division.

Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria (1282-1347), Holy Roman Emperor (1328-1347) considered himself entitled to the whole of the states, as husband of the elder daughter (Margareth) and as suzerain of a fief escheated to the empire on failure of direct heirs, he delayed not to invest his wife with the titles of Margaret I Countess of Holland, Zealand, Friesland, and Hainaut.

The first Stadtholderate in Holland and Zeeland 1345-1349

Margareth came in person and was duly recognized as Countess in Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut but returned to her husband after appointing her second son (the eldest, Louis, renounced his rights) Duke William of Bavaria, as Stadtholder in her place. William was am minor of sixteen, and disorder and confusion soon reigned in the land. The sudden death of the emperor in 1347 added to the difficulties of her position. In 1349 Margareth was induced to resign her sovereignty, and the Stadtholder became Count under the title of William V of Holland.

Margaret I 1311-1356, Empress of Germany 1324-1347, as Margaret II Countess of Hainaut 1345-1356 and as Margaret I Countess of Holland, Zeeland and Friesland 1345-1349

Countess Marguerite II of Hainaut

Margareth II of Avesnes (1311-June 23, 1356), was the daughter of William III of Hainaut and Holland (1286-1337) and his wife, Jeanne of Valois (1294-1342), and succeeded her brother following his death in battle. She married February, 26 1324, in Köln, with Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria (1282-1347), Their children were :

  1. Margareth (1325–1374), married: 1351 Stephen, Duke of Slavonia (d. 1354); 1357 Gerlach von Hohenlohe
  2. Anna (1326-1361, married John I of Lower Bavaria (d. 1340)
  3. Louis VI the Roman (1328–1365), Duke of Upper Bavaria, elector of Brandenburg
  4. Elisabeth (1329-1402), married first in 1350 Cangrande II della Scala, Lord of Verona (d. 1359) married second in 1362 Count Ulrich of Württemberg (d. 1388)
  5. William V of Holland (1330–1389), as William I Duke of Lower Bavaria, as Wiliam V Count of Hainaut and Holland
  6. Agnes (Munich, 1335 – November 11, 1352)
  7. Albert I of Holland (1336–1404), Duke of Lower Bavaria, Count of Hainaut and Holland
  8. Otto V the Bavarian (1340–1379), Duke of Upper Bavaria, elector of Brandenburg
  9. Beatrix (1344-1359), married 1356 Eric XII of Sweden
  10. Louis (October 1347 – 1348)

1346 Margaret repaired in the month of January to Holland, to secure herself in possession of her states before the King of England could gain a footing there. The people took advantage of her anxietssy to be acknowledged, to obtain some desired rights and immunities, of which the most important was the engagement she entered into for herself and her successors, never to undertake a war beyond the limits of the County, unless with consent of the nobles, commons, and "good towns", and if she did so, none should be bound to serve except by their own favor and freewill.

She was then unanimously acknowledged by all the members of the state, but shortly after recalled by her husband to Bavaria. As Louis VI (1328-1365), the eldest son of the Emperor, had resigned his right to the succession she sent her second son, William (1330-1389), then only sixteen years of age, to take the administration of affairs during her absence, surrendering to him Holland, Zealand, Friesland, and Hainaut, and retaining for herself merely a pension of ten thousand old crowns.

The Hook and Cod civil wars in the Lowlands 1347-1490

1347 After the death of the Emperor, which happened in the October of 1347 (during a bear hunting), Margaret, finding that William was either unable to pay, or purposely withheld this trifling annuity, and irritated at his breach of faith, returned to Holland, and resuming the government and obliged William to retire into Hainaut. He did not, however, remain tranquil under this deprivation, but secretly used every means in his power to conciliate the favor of the nobles and the dissensions that now arose between the mother and son gave form and vigor to the two parties of nobles and people, which in this century divided Holland, as well as Germany and France.

1349 The nobles espoused the side of William (Cods), while the people and inhabitants of the towns, with the exception of the larger and more aristocratic cities, adhered to Margaret, who was supported besides by the Lord of Brederode, and a few others of the most popular nobility (Hooks). The former were called by the party name of " Cods," because the cod devours all the smaller fish and the latter by that of "Hook" because with that apparently insignificant instrument one is able to catch the cod.

It does not appear what occasion gave rise to these very primitive appellations, so characteristic of the people and their pursuits. Dordrecht, as aristocratic town, sided with Margaret and became the centre of the Hooks, though many burghers and merchants sided with the Cods, while Delft sided with William and became the centre of the Cods.

1350 The Cods, dissatisfied ere long with the somewhat feeble administration of Margaret, sent repeated messages to William in Hainaut, persisting him to come without delay into Holland, and assume the government of the County. After some hesitation, real or affected, he complied with their request, and secretly repaired to Gorinchem, where he was met by the men of Delft, who brought him in triumph into their city and shortly after, most of the principal towns of Holland and West-Friesland acknowledged him as Count.

Perceiving that the party of the Hooks was not sufficiently strong to reinstate her in the government of Holland, Margaret besought the assistance of the King of England against her son, which she obtained, by promising to resign the government of the County for a certain number of years into the hands of Edward III. During the negotiations, the "Cods" in Holland seized and destroyed seventeen castles belonging to the "Hook" nobles, who had gone to join Margaret in Hainaut.

1351 As soon as she could collect a fleet of English, French, and Hainaut ships, she sailed to the Island of Walcheren, where she fell in with a number of Holland vessels, commanded by her son in person. A sharp naval engagement, at Veere, ensued, in which William was totally defeated, and forced to retreat to Holland. Margaret, anxious to improve her advantage, followed him to the Meuse, where, William having received some reinforcements, another desperate battle was fought, ending in the entire discomfiture of Margaret. A vast number of her adherents were slain, and Theodore van Brederode, one of the few nobles who espoused her cause, and the chief staff of her party, was taken prisoner. The remainder of the Hook nobles were afterwards banished, and their castles and houses razed to the ground.

1352 Margaret fled to England, where she prevailed upon King Edward III to mediate a peace between herself and her son. She was shortly after followed by William himself, who married there Maud (Mathilda) 1339-1354, eldest daughter of Henry of Rosemont (1300-1361), Duke of Lancaster. William likewise accepted the mediation of Edward III but after affairs had been pending for a considerable time, the decision was referred to John de Beaumont, uncle to Margaret, and Walrave of Luxemburg.

1354 According to the terms of the agreement made under their auspices, William retained Holland, Zealand, and Friesland, while Hainaut remained in the possession of Margaret during her life, with a yearly income of about two thousand four hundred pounds.

1356 Margaret did not long survive the reconciliation with her son. She died in June 1356, and thus the County was again transferred to a foreign family, passing from the house of Hainaut into that of Bavaria.

Table of the House of Avesnes Hainaut

Count / Countess Rule time Born-Died House
John II of Avesnes 1299 - 1304 1247 - 1304 Hainaut
William III "the Good" of Avesnes 1304 - 1337 1285 - 1337 Hainaut
William IV of Avesnes 1337 - 1345 1318 - 1345 Hainaut
Margareth I of Avesnes 1345 - 1349 1311 - 1356 Hainaut

The history of Dordrecht part 2

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

Part 2

From the year 1222 to 1299

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

Florence IV 1210-1234, Count of Holland and West-Frisia 1222-1234

Count Florence IV of Holland

Florence IV, being a minor, succeeded William I under the guardianship of his maternal uncle, Gerard III of Guelders. He maintained in later life close relations of friendship with Gerard and supported him in his quarrel with the bishop of Utrecht (1224-1226), Otto II of Lippe.

Florence IV Count of Holland, born 24 June 1210, Haarlem, died 19 July 1234, Rhijnsburg, married before 06 December 1224 with Mahaut (Maud or Mathilde) of Brabant, born about 1200, Brabant Belgium, died 21 December 1267, buried Loosduinen, children :

  1. Aleida, born 1226, 's-Gravenzande, died 9 April 1283, Valenciennes Nord France
  2. William, born 1227, 's-Gravenzande, died 28 January 1256, Hoogwoud
  3. Florence "the Guardian", born c. 1228, 's-Gravenzande, died 24 March 1258, buried Abbey church Middelburg
  4. Margarethha, born c. 1230, 's-Gravenzande, died 26 March 1277
  5. Machteld, born c.1232, 's-Gravenzande

1222 In February Count William I died and his son Florence IV, being a minor, succeeded William I as Count of Holland and West-Frisia (Zeeland) under the guardianship of Count Baldwin of Bentheim (1190-1248) and his maternal uncle, Gerard III of Guelders (1185-1229).

1227 Florence IV was knighted aged 17 years. He sometimes made the wrong decisions. He maintained a close relations of friendship with his guardian Gerard III of Guelders and supported him in his quarrel with the bishop of Utrecht about the overlord-ship of Salland (1224-1226). the government of his County did not have his highest priority, he joined the battle of Are in 1227, outside his County and joined the crusade against the "Stedingers" near Bremen in 1234.

The battle of Are

Groningen, Overijssel and Drenthe were since the middle of the 11th century a fief of the Bishopric of Utrecht given by the Holy Roman Emperor. The inhabitants of Drenthe were unhappy with the oppression of the Bishop of Utrecht Otto II of Lippe (1216-1227).

The local lords of the Drenths city of Coevorden, though nominally under the authority of the Bishop, began to oppose him. Bisshop Otto II traveled to this area to call the rebellious province of Drenthe to order, and he had called up many of his warlords to support him together with a couple of war bands supplied by the Bishops of Munster and Cologne, further he was aided by his former enemy, Count Florence IV.

On July 28, 1227, a large group of rebellious Drenths led by Rudolph of Coevorden met on a field near the present-day village of Ane (a village close to Hardenberg) The Drenths knew that they did not stand a chance if they faced this army in the field, and they managed to lure the Bishopric army into an area with soft and swampy ground called the ‘’Mommenrietsse’’. The horses of the Bishop’s army sank into the ground, and the knights with their heavy armor were unable to fight effectively. The Drenths rebel army was light, and was used to fighting on this kind of ground. The Drenthe rebels managed to beat the Bishop’s forces and killed Bishop Otto II, and many of his supporting warlords, Florence IV escaped back to Holland but his guardian, Count Baldwin of Bentheim was wounded and captured but shortly after released. A few years later Bishop Wilbrand of Oldenburg, roused the Frisian people into supporting him against the rebellious Drenths which led to the Frisian-Drentic War in 1231-1233.

1229 The only important act of Florence IV in Holland was that he started building a new residence (Binnenhof) for the Counts of Holland in The Hague, after his dead his son Count William II finished the living area and started building the Hall of fame "Ridderzaal" which was finally finished by his grandson Florence V in the 1290s.

Crusade against the Stedingers

Who were the Stedingers : In the year 1106, a few Frisians made a long journey from the mouth of the Rhine to Bremen. They wanted to talk to the Archbishop of Bremen about taking over settling land on the Weser River, under certain conditions. They made an agreement whereby the Archbishop gave the farmers and their descendants the swampy regions south of the Hunte on both sides of the Weser for cultivation. This land was to pass from father to son in free hereditary possession. Every settler would pay a yearly tax of one pfennig, and in addition would pay the 11th sheaf of all fruits of the field and a 10th of livestock. In the administration of their lands and in secular jurisdiction the farmers and their descendants were free. They became known as Stedingers, and turned the swamps into polders. To attract settlers, the new settlers were given many rights and low taxes. Stedingen developed into a rich farmer republic in the early 13th century.

The archbishop of Bremen Gerhard/Gerhard II of Lippe (1190-1258) and Maurice (1168-1211), Count of Oldenburg tried to curtail the rights of the farmers, which led to a revolt in 1204. Archbishop Gerhard II excommunicated the farmers in 1228 and convinced the Pope to declare a 'crusade' against the Stedingers in 1232. An army of crusaders was initially repelled by the Stedingers in 1233. The archbishop managed to defeat the Stedingers in the Battle of Altenesch in 1234 with a large army of crusaders, including Florence IV of Holland.

This was a rare crusade, with support of the Roman Catholic church, because the Stedingers were not heathens nor heretics, only because they became wealthy and paid less taxes than the surrounding communities the Stedingers were slaughtered. Nearly 5 000 Stedinger bodies covered the blood soaked earth of their land, where once the waters of the Weser had flowed. In the Saxon Chronicles it is stated objectively and realistically: "ALDUS NAMEN DE STEDINGE EREN ENDE" (Thus the Stedingers met their end).

After his return from the crusade against the Stedingers Florence IV took part on a tournament in July at Corby in Picardy, France with many other knights and was intentionally stabbed to dead by Philips Hurepel (1200-1234), Count of Clermont, son of King Philips II of France (1165-1223) . It is said that Philips acted because Florence flirted with his wife Mathildis II of Boulogne (1202-1259), Florence was only 24 years of age. Philips of Hurepel himself was deadly wounded during the same tournament the next day.

Florence was known as a brave knight who easily followed the politics of the Roman Catholic Church and as such he made sometimes wrong decisions. The following cities received city rights by Count Florence IV, 1223 West-Capelle and Domburg (Zeeland).

Florence was murdered in 1234 at a tournament at Corbie in Picardy by the Count of Clermont. Another long minority followed his death, during which his brother Otto III of Holland, Bishop of Utrecht (1233-1249), acted as guardian to his nephew William II.

Count William II, 1228-1256, Count of Holland and West-Frisia 1235-1256, King of Germany 1247-1256

Count Willem II of Holland Granting Privileges

William II of Holland was born February 1228, William was only seven years old on the dead of his father. His uncles William and Otto III of Holland (bishop of Utrecht) were his guardians until 1239.

William II. became a man of mark as King of Germany in 1247 and was destined to become Holy Roman Emperor but was murdered in 1256 shortly before his corronatian.

William married January 1252 Elizabeth (?-1266) of Brunswick, oldest daughter of Duke Otto I (1204-1252) of Brunswick-Lüneburg, children :

  1. Florence V,  born June 24,1256 The Hague, murdered June 27,1296 near Leiden

1235 William II (1222-1256) was only a minor when his father died. During his reign, the residence of Holland was finally placed at The Hague, because the loss of Castle "Merwe" at Dordrecht and because Dordrecht was since 1203 a fief of Brabant and so continued until the year 1283, when John I, Duke of Brabant, released the Count of Holland from his fealty.

King of Germany

1247 Pope Innocent IV, having deposed the emperor Frederick II in 1247, after several princes had refused to allow themselves to be nominated in the place of the Hohenstaufen, caused the young William II Count of Holland to be elected king of the Romans with the help of Henry II, Duke of Brabant and the archbishop of Cologne, he was elected in 1247 as king of Germany after Emperor Frederick II was excommunicated. After a siege of five months, he took Aachen in 1247 from Frederick's followers. Many of the German princes recognized his claim only after his marriage to Elizabeth (?-1266) of Brunswick, oldest daughter of Duke Otto I (1204-1252) of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

Acts as King of Germany (1247-1256)

The War of the Succession of Flanders and Hainaut (1246-1253) was a series of feudal conflicts between the children of Margaret II (Black Margaret) (1202-1280), Countess of Flanders (1244-1280). They concerned the succession to the two Counties, Flanders as a fief of Louis IX (1214-1270), King of France (1226-1270), Hainaut as a fief of William II as King of Germany.

Introduction to the conflicts : Jeanne, Countess of Flanders (1199–1244) was as heiress Countess of Flanders and Hainaut because she was the eldest daughter of Baldwin IX (1172-1205) Count of Flanders (1195-1205) and as Baldwin VI Count of Hainaut. Jeanne's younger sister Margaret was first married to Bouchard IV (1188-1244) Count of Avesnes (1212-1244) but the marriage was broken in 1221 per orders of Joanna. By Bouchard, however, she had already three children, including John I of Avesnes. In 1223 Margaret remarried with William II (1196-1231) Count of Dampierre (1216-1231), who gave three offspring, including William III and Guy of Dampiere (1226-1304) who became later Count of Flanders, Gewijde van Dampierre (1251-1304). The rights to Margaret's inheritance between the sons of Avesnes and those of Dampierre were the cause of the conflicts.

In 1244, the Counties of Flanders and Hainaut were claimed by Margaret's sons, the half-brothers John I (1218-1257) Count of Avesnes (1246-1257) and William III (1224-1251) Count of Dampierre (1247-1251). In 1246 Louis IX (1214-1270) king of France (1226-1270), acting as an arbitrator, gave the right to inherit Flanders to the Dampierre children, and the rights to Hainaut to the Avesnes children.

This would seem to have settled the matter, but in 1253 problems arose again. The eldest son, John I (1218-1257) of Avesnes, who was uneasy about his rights, convinced William II, the German king recognized by the pro-papal forces, to seize Hainaut and the parts of Flanders which were within the bounds of the empire. William II was theoretically, as king overlord for these territories, and also John's brother-in-law. A civil war followed, which ended when the Avesnes forces defeated and imprisoned the Dampierres at the Battle of Walcheren. William II, as king of Germany, interfered and brought the war to a successful conclusion.

Acts as Count of Holland and West-Frisia

1248 William II started building the Hall of Casle (Ridderzaal) in The Hague, this was the beginning of the city of The Hague.

1253 In 1253 a Latin school was erected in Dordrecht (present Johan the Witt gymnasium), being the oldest high school of The Netherlands. From 1600 to 1615 Gerardus Vossius, a close friend of Hugo Grotius (Hugo de Groot), was rector of the Latin school.

William fought with Flanders for control of West-Frisia (Zeeland). In July 1253, he defeated the Flemish army at Westkapelle, and a year later a cease-fire followed. From 1254, he fought a number of wars against the Frisians.

1256 William II was on the point of proceeding to Rome to be crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire but from 1254 he had to fight a number of wars against the Frisians. In a battle against the Frisians near Hoogwoud on January 28, 1256, his horse fell through the ice, and William was killed.

Like so many of his predecessors he left his inheritance to a child, Florence V, who was two years old on his fathers death. His body was recovered 26 years later by his son Florence V of Holland, the remains of William II were buried in the Abbey church of Middelburg in 1282.

Many privileges and grants were given to the cities in Holland and West-Frisia (Zeeland). The following cities received city rights by Count William II, 1237 Oostburg (Zeeland), 1242 int Anna ter Muiden (Zeeland), 1245 Haarlem (Holland), 1246 Delft and 's-Gravensande (Holland), 1248 Winkel (Holland), 1248 Zierikzee (Zeeland) and 1254 Alkmaar (Kennemerland).

Government of the cities of Holland and West-Frisia (Zeeland)

The towns of Holland were not, as in other nations, merely portions of the state, but the state itself was rather an aggregate of towns, each of which formed a commonwealth within itself, providing for its own defense, governed by its own laws, holding separate Courts of justice, and administering its own finances, the legislative sovereignty of the whole nation being vested in the towns, forming in their collective capacity the assembly of the states.

The government of every town was administered by a senate (Wethouderschap), formed of two, three, or four burgomasters, and a certain number of sheriffs, (Schepenen), generally seven, only Dordrecht had from old days only one burgomaster. The duties of the senate were, to provide for the public safety by keeping the city walls and fortifications in repair, to call out and muster the burgher guards in case of invasion or civil tumult, to administer the finances, to provide for the expenses of the town by levying excises on different articles of consumption, and to affix the portion of County taxes to be paid by each individual.

To the burgomasters was committed the care of the police and the ammunition, of the public peace, and of cleansing and victualling the town. The senate generally appointed two treasurers to receive and disburse the city funds under their inspection, and an advocate, or Pensionary, whose office was to keep the charters and records, and to advise them upon points of law. The Count had a representative in each town, in the person of the Schout, an officer whom he himself appointed, sometimes out of a triple number named by the senate. It was the business of the Schout besides watching over the interests of the Count, to seize on all suspected persons and bring them to trial before the "Vierschaar" or judicial Court of the town.

This Court was composed of the sheriffs, and had jurisdiction over all civil causes, and over minor offences, except in some towns, such as Leyden and Dordrecht, where the power of trying capital crimes was specially given to them in the charters granted by the Counts, the Schout was also bound to see the judgments of the Vierschaar carried into execution.

Besides the senate there was, in every town, a council of the citizens, called the Great Council, (Vroedschap), which was summoned in early times when any matter of special importance was to be decided upon, but afterwards their functions, in many of the towns, became restricted to the nomination of the burgomasters and sheriffs for the senate.

The Government in Dordrecht as Capital of Holland

In Dordrecht, the most confined and aristocratic of the municipal governments of Holland #, the great council consisted of forty members, whose office was for life, and who filled up the vacancies as they occurred, by election among themselves. The senate of Dordrecht was composed of one burgomaster, whose office was annual, nine sheriffs, and five councilors (raden), four sheriffs and three councilors went out of office one year, five sheriffs and two councilors the next, and so on alternately, their places were filled up by the Count, or the Schout on his behalf, out of a double number nominated by the council of forty.

The only representatives of the people in the government were the so-named " eight good men" (goede luyden van achte) and their functions were limited to choosing the burgomaster in conjunction with those senators whose term of office had expired, if they were unanimous, their votes reckoned for twelve, but the burgomaster chosen must always be one of the ex-senators.

# The reason that Dordrecht had a aristocratic government is proof again that the city was already grown as a real city for centuries.

Merchants, Traders and Guilds

The inhabitants of the towns being generally merchants and traders, were divided into guilds of the different trades, at the head of each guild was placed a deacon (deken), to regulate its affairs and protect its interests, and as the towns obtained their charters of privileges from the Counts, so did the guilds look to the municipal governments for encouragement and support, and for the immunities they were permitted to enjoy. Each guild inhabited for the most part a separate quarter of the town, and over every quarter two officers, called " Wykmeesters" were appointed by the burgomasters, whose duty it was to keep a list of all the men in their district capable of bearing arms, to see that their arms were sufficient and ready for use, and to assemble them at the order of the magistrates, or upon the ringing of the town bell: the citizens, on their part, were bound to obey the summons without delay, at any hour of the day or night, over all the wykmeesters were placed two, three, or four superior officers, called "Hoofdmannen" or captains of the burgher guards.

The guilds, when called out to service within the town, assembled, and acted each under their own banners, but in defense of the state they were accustomed to inarch together under the standard of the town, and dressed in the city livery. As every member of a guild was expected to have his arms always ready for use, and the burgher guards (Schuttery) were frequently mustered, and drilled under the inspection of the burgomasters and sheriffs the towns were able to man their walls, and put themselves into a state of defense in an incredibly short space of time. In this manner each town formed, as we have remarked, a species of republic, containing within itself the elements of civil government and military force.

The Burghers

The burgher, for the most part, considered his town as his nation, with whose happiness and prosperity his own was inseparably linked, not only as regarded his public, but also his private interests, since his person was liable to be seized for the debts which its government contracted, and the government, on the other hand, if he were too poor to pay the County taxes, stepped in to his relief, and not unfrequently discharged them for him.

This separate existence of the towns, a source of national strength inasmuch as, by developing to its fullest extent the social activity of the people and giving to each individual a place in the political scale, it formed, as it were, a heart in every one of the extremities of the body politic, was yet a cause of weakness by the disunion, jealousy, and opposition of interests which it occasioned. The municipal government and privileges of the towns extended over a certain space without the walls, which the burghers enlarged as they found occasion by grants obtained from the Counts, whether by favor or purchase.

The "open Country", Bailiffs and Nobles

The portion of the County not included within these limits, and commonly called the "open Country" either formed the domains of the nobles or abbeys, or were governed by Bailiffs, whose office was analogous to that of the Schout in the towns, and who were, like them, appointed by the Count. Both nobles and abbots exercised the low jurisdiction in their states, and sometimes the high jurisdiction also, the nobility had the power of levying taxes on the subjects within their own domains, and exercised the right of private warfare among themselves, of the latter privilege they were always extremely jealous, and the efforts of the Counts to abolish or modify it were for many centuries unavailing, in fact, it fell into disuse in Germany and Holland later than in the other Countries of Europe.

The nobles were exempt from the taxes of the state, being bound in respect of their fiefs to serve with their vassals in the wars of the County, and if from any cause they were unable to attend in person, they were obliged either to find a substitute of to pay a scutage (ruytergeld), in lieu of their services, in the same manner as other vassalsof the Count, such, however, was only the case when the war was carried on within the boundaries of the County, or had been undertaken by their advice and consent, otherwise the service they rendered depended solely on their own will and pleasure.

Examples of the above existed also outside Dordrecht :

1. The monastery Heysterbach was situated at the mouth of the river Merwe between Castle "Merwe" (later Huis te Merwede) at Dordrecht and Sliedrecht in de Dordrechtsche waard, part of the Groote waard and founded in 1203 by Aleida of Cleves, the wife of Count Dirk VII of Holland, who died that same year. According to a legend, the marriage between Aleida's daughter Ada of Holland and Louis II of Loon took place in this monastery. The monastery was in the 13th century known as one of the principal in the County of Holland. During the St. Elisabeth flood of 1421, 24 monks drowned and the monastery was lost and never uncovered.

2. The Village Houweningen, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard, which was first mentioned in 1105, had a parish church and an average population of about 50 people. The village was south of Hardinxveld and was drowned during the St. Elisabeth flood and never uncovered.

3. Erkentrudekerke, at the border of the river Dubbel in the Dordrechtsche waard was for the first time mentioned in 1240, its parish church belongs to the chapter of St. John in Utrecht and would have been part of Toloysen. Possibly, the church survived the Elisabeth Flood for some time and have done service to early 15th century. The village would have located on the river Dubbel which after the flood became a quagmire.
The story of the St. Elisabeth flood is written down on this site.

The Council of State

The chief of the nobility were appointed by the Count to form the council of state, or supreme Court of Holland, the council of state assisted the Count in the administration of public affairs, guaranteed all treaties of peace and alliance made with foreign nations, and in its judicial capacity, took cognizance of capital offences, both in the towns (unless otherwise provided by their charters) and in the open Country.

To this Court, which resided at Dordrecht until the 14th century, where the Count generally presided in person, lay an appeal in civil causes from all the inferior Courts in the state. In after times, as the towns increased in wealth and importance, and the more prolonged and expensive wars in which the Counts were engaged rendered their pecuniary support necessary, they, likewise, became parties to the ratification of treaties and were consulted upon matters relating to war or foreign alliances.

It was probably the custom of summoning together deputies from the towns for these purposes which gave rise to the assembly of the states, as historians are unable to fix the exact time of its origin. It has been generally supposed that before the middle of the sixteenth century, the six "good towns" only, that is, Dordrecht (as precedence in the assembly of the States), Haarlem, Delft, Leyden, Gouda, and later from the 14th century Amsterdam enjoyed the right of sending deputies to the states.

The small towns were likewise accustomed to send deputies to the states when a measure was to be discussed which peculiarly regarded their own welfare, as, for example upon the occasion of a question concerning the imposition of a duty on the exportation of corn, when deputies appeared from most of the towns of the Waterland (Monnickendam and surroundings), where the principal commerce in grain was carried on, and in like manner, when unusual precautions were found necessary to secure the herring fishery.

Deputies of the towns which depended on that trade for their support were summoned to the states to consider of the measures proposed by the government for its protection. As it does not appear that the same towns were always summoned to the voting of supplies, it is most probable that the Counts invited such of them to appear at the assemblies as they thought most able or willing to contribute towards satisfying their pecuniary demands, in the same manner as our own sovereigns in former times were wont to do.

The deputies to the states were nominated by the senates of the several towns, each town possessing but one voice in the assembly, whatever number of deputies it might send, the whole body of the nobility likewise enjoyed but one vote, though it was often represented by several, never by less than three deputies. The states were generally summoned by the Counts to Dordrecht and later the Hague, or to any other place where they might happen to be residing.

It appears to have been competent for any one or more of the towns to call an assembly when and where they judged it expedient, but the more usual practice was to petition either the Count or the council of Holland to issue the summons.

The deputies of the nobles and towns deliberated separately,. and afterwards met together to give their votes, when the nobles voted first, and then the towns, the ancient city of Dordrecht having the precedence. The deputies were called together to deliberate upon specific question only: if any new matter arose, they were obliged to delay their decision until they had consulted their principals upon it, and no measure could be carried, if either the nobles, or any one of the towns, refused to give their vote in its favor.

The principal officers employed by the assembly of the states, were a registrar or keeper of the records, who acted likewise as secretary, and an advocate called the Pensionary of Holland, whose business it was to propose all subjects for the deliberation of the states, to declare the votes, and report the decisions of the assembly to the Count, or council of state, although this officer did not possess the right of voting, he was accustomed to take a share in the debates, and generally enjoyed great influence both in the assembly of the states and the whole Country, the nobles, likewise, chose a Pensionary, nearly always in the person of the same individual.

The States of Zeeland

The constitution of the states of Zealand, differed from that of Holland, inasmuch as the clergy in the latter did not form a separate estate, nor were they represented in the assembly, whereas in Zealand, the abbot of St. Nicholas in Middleburg, enjoyed the right of giving the first vote as representative of the ecclesiastical state, the Marquis of Veere and Flushing (Vlissingen) represented the whole body of the nobility, and had likewise one vote, while deputies were sent from six, only of the principal towns, Middleburg, Zierikzee, Goes, Veere, Flushing, and Tholen.


The administration of justice was conferred on the magistrates of the city, certain fines being appointed for various crimes and misdemeanors, among the rest, for homicide. It is probable that the more aggravated cases of homicide, such as amounted to murder, were punished with death, since in a charter of privileges of the same kind, granted to Dordrecht in 1253, this punishment is awarded to the willful slayer of another. Delft likewise received a similar charter of privileges during the reign of William II.


Florence (Floris) V 1254-1296, Count of Holland and West-Frisia (Zeeland) 1256-1296

Count Florence V of Holland

He was under regent ship until 1263 by his uncle Florence "the guardian" (1258) and his aunt Aleida (1226-1283). Florence V was fore destined during a reign of forty years to leave a deeper impress upon the history of Holland than any other of its predecessors. He was a man of chivalrous character and high capacity, during his reign he proved himself an able and beneficent ruler.

Relations with England and Flanders

During his reign the cities in Holland and Zeeland grew as never before and the trade with foreign Countries extended to a high level, especially the trade between England and Holland (already existed for ages) was still extending itself, to the great advantage of both Countries.

Florence V married 1270 with Beatrix (1260-1291) Countess of Flanders and Dampierre, daughter of Count Guy I of Dampierre of Flanders, they had in total nine children :

  1. William, born c. 1274, The Haque, died very young
  2. Otho, c. 1275, The Haque, died very young
  3. Margaretha, born c. 1276, The Haque, the only child who became adult
  4. Theodore, born c. 1277, The Haque, died very young
  5. Florence, born c. 1279, The Haque, died very young
  6. John I, born 1281, The Haque,, died November 1299
  7. Machteld, born c. 1284, The Haque, died very young
  8. Beatrix, born c. 1286, The Haque, died very young
  9. Elisabeth, born c. 1288, The Haque, died very young

During his minority he was under regent-ship until 1263 by his uncle Florence "the guardian" (1258) and his aunt Aleida (1226-1283). Florence V was fore destined during a reign of forty years to leave a deeper impress upon the history of Holland than any other of its predecessors. Florence V was a man of chivalrous character and high capacity, during his reign he proved himself an able and beneficent ruler. The trade between England and Holland had existed for ages, and was still extending itself, to the great advantage of both Countries.

Alike in his troubles with his turbulent subjects and in the perennial disputes with his neighbors (Germany, Flanders and France) he pursued a strong, far-sighted and successful policy. But his active interest in affairs was not limited to Holland alone. He allied himself closely with Edward I (1239-1307), king of England (1272-1307) in his strife with France, and secured from the English, great trading advantages for his people.

1271 To balance the power of the nobles he granted charters to many of the towns, of with Dordrecht was his most favorite city and it got many charters. In 1281 Florence made himself master of Amstelland, Gooiland and Amsterdam (the latter destined to become the chief commercial town of Holland in the Golden Age (17th century).

The trade carried on by the Hollanders with England was become highly valuable to both nations, the former giving a high price for the English wool for their cloth manufactures, while they procured thence (chiefly, perhaps from Cornwall) their silver for the purpose of coinage.

1275 A quarrel between the merchants of the two Countries, some years before this time, had been followed by numerous acts of piracy on the part of the Zealanders, in consequence of which, Edward, in the year 1275, ordered that all Zealand ships coming into the ports of England should be arrested. Florence, unwilling to lose a commerce so advantageous to his subjects, granted shortly after a safe conduct to all English merchants trading to his states but four years elapsed before he was able to obtain permission for the ships of Zealand to frequent the ports of England as usual.

1281 About the same time (1281), with the grant of this permission, a treaty was set on foot for the marriage of Margaret (b.1276), the daughter of Count Florence V, with Alphonso (1273-1284), son of the King of England. Margaret was 'to have as her portion, whichever moietssy of the County of Holland the king should choose, and to inherit the whole, in case Florence died without a son, the disputes between the merchants were, by the same treaty, deferred to arbitrators chosen on both sides.

1285 The birth of a son to Florence in 1281, and the subsequent death of Alphonso, rendered this contract ineffectual, but prior to the latter event, in 1285 another marriage was agreed upon, between John I, the Count's infant son, and Elizabeth, daughter of Edward. The king engaging to pay fifty thousand livres (tournois) as her portion, and the Count settling upon her a dowry of six thousand livres. . In March the progress of building of the Tower of the Dordrecht Minster was further advanced and the Maria chorus and the cemetery were finished and officially inaugurated by the Bishop of Durham Antony Beck.

1292 According to the terms of the treaty with England, John I was sent to the court of the King of England, to be educated, where he remained until the completion of the marriage with Princess Elisabeth.

1293 The friendship cemented by this alliance, was highly advantageous to the commerce of Holland. The Edward staple of wool was, to distress of Flanders, removed from Bruges and placed at Dordrecht in 1293, already a town of extensive trade in wines, grain, salt, iron, wood, and cloths (with a short interval the wool staple should stay at Dordrecht until 1652) and the subjects of the Count were permitted to fish, without restriction, on the English coast at Yarmouth. This is the first grant we find of a privilege, which the Dutch continued to enjoy, with little interruption, until 1652, the beginning of the first English-Dutch sea war) during the time of Cromwell. In Dordrecht the construction of the Augustijner-church (at the Voorstraat) began, one of oldest churches of The Netherlands.

Trade in the Lowlands in the Middle ages

The trade of the Lowlands with the Mediterranean and the East was mainly through the favored cities of Bruges and Ghent in Flanders, which already in the twelfth century had risen to the first rank in the commercial world. It was the resting-place for the Lombard merchants, and a store place for their merchandise. It also became the great marketplace for English wool in the 13th century and the woolen fabrics of all the Lowlands, as well as for the drugs and spices of the East.

When the overland trade with India fell off with the discovery of the Cape passage by sea at the end of the 13th century, the merchandise in Bruges and Ghent withered. By the end of the 13th century the cities of Flanders, Bruges and Ghent, lost most of their merchandise to the capital of the Northern Lowlands Dordrecht, a city, situated at an open arm of the North Sea and surrounded by great rivers flowing inland was thus more suitable as sea harbor for the ships from England, the Mediterranean, North Europe, Far East, and thus for further transportation of goods inland and to Germany.

Another reason was also that since about 1050, gradual silting had caused Bruges and Ghent to lose its direct access to the sea. A storm in 1134, however, re-established this access, through the creation of a natural channel at the Zwin, but not for long. Starting around 1450, the Zwin channel, which had given the city its prosperity, also started silting.

Dordrecht, on his turn, the ancient capital of Holland, lost in the 15th century, part of his importance due to the inundation called "St-Elisabeth flood" in 1421 though it still stayed the capital of Holland and the first of the principal towns until the end of the 16th century and was as sea harbor replaced by Rotterdam and as capital by The Hague in the 16th century (1588) and later by Amsterdam in the 19th century (1810).

Merchant hostilities with Flanders and England

1295 Te loss of the wool staple to Holland outlined evil blood with the Fleming's and they sought revenge for the lose of this lucrative trade route. They did not have to wait long because in 1296 Florence forsook the alliance of Edward I for that of Philip IV (1268-1314), king of France 1285-1314, probably because Edward had given support to his former father-in-law Guy of Dampierre (1226-1305), Gewijde van Dampierre, Count of Flanders (1278-1305), in his dynastic dispute with John II of Avesnes (1247-1304), Count of Hainaut 1280-1304, who was a nephew of Florence V by his aunt Aleida.

In reaction to this Edward I removed the staple of wool from Dordrecht in Holland to Bruges and Mechiln (Mechelen) in Flanders, The Count of Flanders, Guy of Dampierre and king Edward I of England became close friends and it is said that they supported the disaffected nobles of Holland against Florence V.

The murder of Florence V

The disregard in which Count Florence held the nobility, in favor of the cities and Country men, had excited in the greater number a spirit of jealousy and hostility against him, the reason for this hostility originated in 1278, when Florence sided with the craftsmen and farmers in Amstelland and Maasland against the local nobles. Florence forced Gijsbrecht IV van Amstel (1235-1303) in 1278 to surrender his lordship of Amstel, which he conferred upon John Persyn, the same who had signalized himself in suppressing the revolt of the Kennemerlanders (Haarlem), conducted by Gijsbrecht IV van Amstel.

Hermann van Woerden was exiled and Florence said to have beheaded the brother of Gerard van Velsen. In 1281 Florences V made a treaty with the former nobles and Hermann van Woerden was freed from his exile, though they never forgot what Florence V had done to them and they sought for a suitable moment for a conspiracy against the Count.

The first year of disaster in Holland

1296 In 1296 the disaffected nobles, headed by Gijsbrecht IV van Amstel (1235-1303), Gerard van Velsen and Hermann van Woerden, formed an alliance against him, secretly supported by the Count of Flanders and probably also the King of England.

In June 1296 they invited him to accompany himself and the other nobles on a hawking excursion during a visit to the bishop of Utrecht. During this event they took him prisoner and imprisoned Florence V in the Castle at Muyden, at the mouth of the Vecht, with the design probably of transporting him thence by sea to England.

As soon as the rumor of the Count's imprisonment became known, the West Frieslanders, and the people of Kennemerland and Waterland, manned a number of vessels, and besieged the Castle of Muyden. But they were not able to laid a successful siege and could only prevent his being carried to England. Hereupon the conspirators secretly tried to bring him by land to Brabant or Flanders, gagged and disguised with his feet and hands bound and mounted on a sorry horse, on the fifth day of his confinement they travelled towards Naarden.

Hardly had they advanced half way to Naarden, when Gerard van Velsen, who rode forward to prevent ambushes of the people, encountered a large body of the inhabitants of that city. To his demand of what they wanted they replied "bring us our Count". Hereupon, van Velsen rode back with all the speed he could make, to give the rest of his party warning of their approach. The nobles, unable to resist so numerous a force, attempted to avoid them by flight; but in leaping a ditch, the Count's feeble horse fell with his rider into the mire, and finding it impossible to extricate him before the arrival of his deliverers, who were close behind, they murdered their helpless victim and caused on him more than twenty wounds (June 27, 1296).

While Florence V was yet alive, John van Arkel, Theodore van Brederode (d.1318), with the other nobles who still remained faithful to him, had, upon intelligence of his imprisonment, assembled at Dordrecht in June 1296, and sent to John II of Avesnes, Count of Hainaut 1280-1304 and Count of Holland 1299-1304, a requisition that he would come into Holland without delay, and assume the government until the Count could be released.

Count Florence V of Holland (1254-1296), the "Keerlen God" (Peasant God), is one of the most important figures of the first, native dynasty of Holland (833-1299). His life has been documented in detail in the Rijmkroniek by Melis Stoke, a clerk of the city of Dordrecht, 1270-1296, and chronicler of Florence V. He is credited with a mostly peaceful reign, modernizing administration, policies beneficial to trade, generally acting in the interests of his peasants at the expense of nobility, and reclaiming land from the sea. His dramatic murder was probably engineered by King Edward I of England, "the Longshanks", and Guy of Dampierre, Count of Flanders, and this made him a hero in Holland.

John I 1281-1299, Count of Holland and West-Frisia (Zeeland) 1296-1299

Count John I of Holland

The condition in which the death of Florence V. left Holland, was deplorable in the extreme. Engaged in hostilities with Flanders, her nobility discontented and rebellious, her people alarmed and suspicious, and her young prince John I a minor, in the hands of a monarch who had given but too many proofs of his unscrupulous ambition, while to these difficulties was added that of a divided regency until 1299.

Three days after the death of Florence V they dispatched the Abbot of Egnond to the court of the King of England, beseeching him to restore to them their young Count John I, and to send with him a force sufficient to protect him from the fate that had befallen his father.

Guy of Avesnes 1253-1317, who became later Bishop of Utrecht 1301-1317 (successor of Bishop William II Berthout (1296-1301), was the younger brother of John of Avesnes, came into Holland, commissioned by John I to undertake the administration in his behalf, until he should repair thither in person, which he promised to do shortly.

Although John of Avennes was the closest relative to the young Count, being the son of Adelaide of Avennes (1226-1283), sister of his grandfather William II, yet Louis of Cleves, Count of Hulkerode, related in a more distant degree, assumed to himself the administration of affairs, his supporters being principally found among the friends of those who had conspired against Count Florence V. Guy of Avennes, not having sufficient influence to prevent his exercising the authority of governor, agreed to divide the government with him, until the arrival of his brother John II.

West-Friesland was allotted to Louis of Cleve, who resided at the Hague, while Guy of Avesness reserved to himself Holland, and remained at Geertruidenberg, Upon the arrival of John of Avennes in Holland, he found the great majority of the people favorably disposed towards him, and within a short time his party became so powerful, that Louis of Cleves was forced to retire into his own territory.

Of the conspirators against Florence V, Woerden and Amstel fled their Country, and died in exile but the greater part fortified themselves in the castle of Kronenburg, which was besieged and taken. Van Velsen, Hugo van Baarland, William van Zoenden and some others were made prisoners, while the remainder were rescued by the interference of the Lord of Cuyck and the Count of Cleves. In August 1296 Gerard van Velsen, Hugo van Baarland and William van Zoenden were tried at Dordrecht, severely tortured, and, together with other of their accomplices put to dead (broken on the wheel).

The enemies of Holland were not backward in taking advantage of the embarrassments she was now laboring under. At the time when the late Count had lent his assistance to John II, bishop of Utrecht, against the Lords of Amstel and Woerden, that prelate had consented that these two lordships should be transferred to the sovereignty of Holland. This arrangement was by no means acceptable to his successor, Bishop William II (1296-1301), who sought, therefore, every means of disturbing Holland in these possessions.

The West-Frieslanders had become so deeply attached to the person of Count Florence V, that during his life there was no hope of shaking their allegiance, but after his death, it was found less difficult to revive in their breasts their ancient love of freedom, particularly as they had conceived the idea, from the long residence of the young Prince John I in England, that he was not the real son of Florence.

Wolferd van Borselen, the leader of the nobles of Zeeland, who had before been aided by Guy of Dampierre, Count of Flanders, in his treasonable undertakings, and had, since the revolt of 1287, lived in retirement or exile, now applied to the same quarter for assistance in the ambitious projects he was forming. Having surreptitiously obtained from the inhabitants of Dordrecht two ships of war, under pretence of a threatened invasion by the Flemings, he went forthwith to Guy of Dampierre of Flanders, and found but little trouble in persuading him to invade Walcheren, and lay siege to Middelburg.

Middelburg had been blockaded some months, when John of Avennes advanced to its relief, and on his arrival at Zierikzee, the Flemings hastily raised the siege, and retired to Flanders, sustaining severe loss in their retreat, from a sally made by the besieged. John II having been received with great joy in Middleburg, did not long remain there, as the events which were occurring in West-Friesland urgently demanded his presence.

At the instigation of Bishop William II, and relying on his promises of assistance, the West-Frieslanders once more took up arms, mastered and destroyed all the castles Count Florence had built, except Medemblick, which they blockaded. Governor John of Avennes was at this time fully occupied with the affairs of Zealand.

Medemblick, surrounded by the insurgents, and cut off from all supplies, was on the eve of a surrender, when John II came up to its relief, he forced them to raise the siege, but the weather becoming suddenly cold, his troops conceived so great a dread of being blocked up by the ice, that desertion became general, some retreated to the ships in the harbor of Medemblick and the remainder returned home by different land routes, not without considerable loss of life. John II, thus left nearly alone, had no resource but to retire to Holland.

1297 The king of England, anxious to secure an influence in the court of his intended son-in-law, sent ambassadors to Holland, requiring the attendance of three nobles out of each of the provinces, and two deputies from each of the "good towns" at the marriage of Count John I in January 1297 with Princess Elizabeth of Ruddlan (1282-1316), and at the confirmation of the treaty. Accordingly, the English ambassadors were accompanied on their return by the deputies of the nobles, with Theodore van Brederode at their head, and those of the good towns of Holland, Dordrecht, as precedence, Haarlem, Delft, Leiden and Gouda together with the good towns of Zeeland, Middleburg and Zierkzee.

They were detained some time at the court of England; but at length the marriage was celebrated with great splendor, and the ambassadors, laden with rich presents, returned with the young bride and bridegroom and a well-equipped fleet to Holland.

The conditions imposed by Edward I in the treaty made on this occasion, rendered the young Count little more than a nominal sovereign in his own states, he was obliged to appoint two Englishmen, Ferrers and Havering, members of his privy council, and to engage that he would do nothing contrary to their advice, or without the consent of his father-in-law. The disputes between Flanders and Brabant on the one side, and Holland on the other, were to be referred to the mediation of King Edward.

On the return of John of Avennes from the war in West-Friesland, he found that Count John I had landed in Zealand, and knowing he had nothing but hostility to expect from Wolferd van Borselen, who had obtained possession of the young prince's person, and was devoted to the interests of England and Flanders, deemed it advisable to retire without delay into Hainaut. His departure left Borselen without a rival, and he immediately assumed the title of governor of Holland, and guardian of John I.

The West-Frieslanders still refusing to acknowledge John I as the son of Count Florence V were attacked, the first step of Borselen was to march with the young Count into that province, at the head of an army, of which some Englishmen who were present are said to have remarked, that, "if such an army were landed at one end of England, it might march, in spite of all opposition, to the other". With so powerful a force, it was a matter of no great difficulty to subdue the West Frieslanders; and it was done so effectually, that this was the last time the Counts of Holland were obliged to carry war into their Country.

This success increased the influence of Wolferd of Borselen, and his authority in the state became almost absolute, he obtained from John I a written promise to protect him against any evil that threatened him from the murderers of Florence V, although most cities were his friends and he had nothing to fear from them. John I bound himself also to be guided entirely by Borselen's advice until he should attain the age of twenty-five.

1298 Borselen excluded from the privy council all members who were not in his interests and obtained for himself the investiture of the fortress of Ysselstein, and the lordship of Woerden. Further Borselen attempted to levy heavy and arbitrary taxes on the whole nation. Opposed by Philip IV (1268-1314) of France, he obliged John I to conclude a treaty with Flanders, promising subsidies to Count Guy of Dampierre during his war with France. The ambition and rapacity of Borselen had already excited indignation and disgust against him by the principal towns (Dordrecht, Haarlem, Delft, Leyden, Gouda, Middleburg and Zierkzee).

When he thought to deflate the coin and forced Count John I to organize a conference with Flanders, the cities became furious. (in this conference Robert III of Bethune (1249-1322), Count of Nevers, nicknamed "The lion of Flanders", and his father Count Guy of Dampierre of Flanders, swore solemnly that the conspirators against Count Florence V had received neither assistance nor encouragement from them. "The young Count, though forced by Borselen, received their oath, kept his eyes fixed on the ground the whole time they were present, and could not be induced to look upon them" --Melis Stoke--).

1299 The murmurs of the citizens of the principal towns became loud and general when a quarrel, in which van Borselen involved himself with the town of Dordrecht, concerning its immunities, brought matters to a serious crisis. Bailiff Aloud van Ierseke of South Holland, appointed to that office by Borselen, claimed the right of hearing some criminals in custody at Dordrecht, for a crime committed within the precincts of the city. The magistrates of Dordrecht, deeming this right to belong solely to themselves, proceeded to take the examinations, without noticing the claim of the Bailiff; and while they were thus employed, Borselen himself, accompanied by Count John I, regained to Dordrecht.

He demanded that the whole of the documents relating to the matter in question should be immediately delivered to him, and concluded that it belonged to the jurisdiction of the Court of Holland. The magistrates refused to surrender them, on the plea that, according to the charter of William II of 1152 (the right of pronouncing judgment without appeal), they alone had the power of hearing and deciding all causes whatsoever occurring within the limits of Dordrecht. Borselen, enraged at this answer, threatened them with imprisonment if they did not obey, and withdrew immediately to Delft, and thence to the Hague, commanding five of the Dordrecht's magistrates to follow him.

The Dordrechters considered it unsafe for their magistrates to go alone, so they sent with them deputies from the great council of the town, making it about ten or twelve persons. Two of them, one John and Paul, were particularly noted as strenuous defenders of their privileges, being for this reason obnoxious in a high degree to Borselen, they remained at Delft, while three others, John the Miller, Peter Tielmanson, and Jacob went to the Hague for the purpose of holding a conference with Count John I.

They were detained there some time, on account of the absence of Borselen, without whose advice John I durst not to interfere in the affairs. Immediately on arrival of Borselen he inquired where John and Paul were, this excited suspicions in the minds of the others that he meditated some evil design against them. Warned by their companions, the two councilors hastily returned to Dordrecht. When Borselen came with the Count shortly after to Delft, he found them already gone.

Their departure, without permission of Borselen, reproached the magistrates of Delft and caused discussions on this subject in the senate of that town. Bailiff Aloud van Ierseke of South Holland offered to fight in single combat any one who would maintain the cause of the sheriffs of Dordrecht was just. But the burghers of Delft would permit no one to accept the challenge, being of opinion, that the immunities of the towns ought not in any case to be subject to the chances of a battle. John and Paul were accused of contumacy by Borselen's party, not waiting the arrival of the Count, who menaced Dordrecht with the consequences of his high displeasure.

On return of John and Paul, bearing of the threats used by the Count, the burghers of Dordrecht thought it advisable to put themselves in a posture of defense. Four "hoofdmannen" or captains of burgher guards were appointed and letters dispatched by the senate to all the "good towns" of Holland and Zealand, in treating them to consider the cause of Dordrecht as their common cause.

Their preparations were not made in vain, shortly after the town was besieged by Borselen, in order to cut off all communication from without, by land and water, he stationed troops in the surrounding forts, and a number of vessels, called "Outlyers" in the Merwe. Bailiff Aloud van Ierseke also, who commanded the fort of Kraajestein near Dordrecht, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard between Oud-Sliedrecht and Giessenmonde, caused pile work to be laid across the river to avoid its passage.

During the work, a single cog boat, having approached close to the town, excited such a commotion within the walls that the burghers broke out, and hurried, some by land, some in boats, to Kraajestein. Here they came to a sharp engagement with Aloud's troops, they killed and wounded a considerable number, and returned with the loss of only one life to Dordrecht.

When Borselen was informed of the defeat of his alliance he tried to get levy from towns in Holland and Zealand against Dordrecht, but he was unable to get their support against their Capital, because of the discontents which had spread over the whole County. Borselen retrieved to the Hague and understood that he was no longer safe, so he leaved the court by night and carried the young Count with him to Schiedam and whence he took ship to Zealand.

On the discovery of the abduction of Count John I the court and village of the Hague were in uproar, numbers hurried to Vlaardingen where, finding that the ship in which Borselen had sailed lay becalmed in the mouth of the Merwe, manned all the boats in the port with stout rowers, and quickly reached the young Count's vessel, whom they found very willing to return with them. Borselen was taken prisoner to Delft.

Hardly had the burghers of Delft heard of his arrest when they assembled before the doors of the prison, demanding with loud cries that "the traitor should be delivered up to them". The Schout and the Sheriffs, struck Borselen with terror, thrusted him and stripped of his armor out at the door. He was massacred in an instant, every individual of the immense multitude eagerly seeking to gratify his hatred by inflicting a wound upon him (August 30 1299).

A similar destiny befell Bailiff Aloud of Ierseke who was forced to surrender his fort of Kraajestein, made prisoner and was brought to Dordrecht, when he had scarcely entered the city he and five of his followers were sacrificed to the fury of the infuriated population.

Count John I was still too young to conduct the business of government alone, he invited to his assistance his cousin, John of Avesnes, and appointed him guardian over himself and the County for a period of four years. The death of Borselen, and the accession of John of Avesnes to the government, entirely deprived the English party of their influence in Holland.

John of Avesnes regained to Dordrecht to join his nephew. During the month of October they stayed at Dordrecht. Their first act was to make a reconciliation between the people of Delft and the relatives of Wolferd van Borselen, and this being effected, he entered into a covenant with seven of the principal towns (Dordrecht, Haarlem, Delft, Leyden, Gouda, Middleburg and Zierkzee), neither to make nor consent to any peace with the murderers of Count Florence V or their posterity to the seventh generation. John of Avesnes determined on entering into a close alliance with France with the consent of the seven principal towns.

On the 6th of November Count John I (already sick) and John of Avesnes signed a privilege in favor of Dordrecht called "Stapelrecht" (the right to store goods), all goods transported by the rivers Lek and Merwe had to be unloaded at Dordrecht and sold on the markets. On the 7th November John II set out for a visit to the French court, leaving Count John I at Haarlem sick of the ague and flux, where he died on the 10th of November 1299.

Upon the death of his cousin, John of Avennes returned immediately to Holland, where he was acknowledged by the nobles, commons, and towns, as Count, in right of his mother, Adelaide, sister of William II, as Count he took the name John II of Holland.

The end of the House of Frisia and Holland

John I was the last Count of the house of Frisia and Holland. His family had ruled Holland for more then three centuries (993-1299). With his death without descendents the House of Frisia/Holland became extinct.

A famous and very old children's Dutch song is about Jan (John I), son of Count Florence V (Floris V). Freely translated it goes like this.

Song in Dutch Song in English
In Den Haag daar woont een Graaf In the Hague there lives a Count
En zijn zoon heet Jantje And his son is called little John
Als je vraagt waar woont je Pa If you ask 'were does your father live'
Wijst hij met zijn handje He points with his little hand
Met zijn vinger en zijn duim With his finger and his thumb
Op zijn hoed draagt hij een pluim On his head a little feather
Aan zijn arm een mandje On his arm a little basket
Dag mijn lieve Jantje Bye sweet little John

Europe has perhaps never seen an abler series of Princes than these fourteen lineal descendants of Theodore (Dirk or Diederic) III. Excepting the last (John I) there was not a weak man among them. Physically handsome and strong, model knights of the days of chivalry, character, hard fighters and wise statesmen, they were born leaders of men, always ready to advance the commerce of the Country, they were the supporters of the growing towns, and likewise the pioneers in the task of converting a land of marshes and swamps into a fertile agricultural territory rich in flocks and herds. As individuals they had their failings, but one and all were worthy members of a high-soul race.

John of Avennes, Count of Hainaut (Henegauwen) was the closest relative to the young Count John I, being the son of Adelaide of Avesnes (1226-1283), sister of John I's grandfather Count William II (1227-1256). From that moment on Holland was ruled by foreign Counts from Hainaut (1299-1356), Dukes from Bavaria (Beieren) (1356-1433), Burgundy (Bourgondie) (1433-1482) and Habsburg (1482-1515) and Kings and Emperors from the Habsburg dynasty (1515-1581), before Holland finally became fully independent in the 17th century.

Table of the Counts of Holland

Common name Known as Dutch name Born - Died Rule time House
Theodore III Diederic Dirk 981  -1039 993 - 1039 Frisia
Theodore IV Diederic Dirk 1015 - 1049 1039 - 1049 Frisia
Florence I - Floris 1017 - 1061 1049 - 1061 Frisia
Theodore V Diederic Dirk 1061 - 1091 1052 - 1091 Frisia
Florence II "the Fat" - Floris 1091 - 1121 1085 - 1121 Holland
Theodore VI Diederic Dirk 1114 - 1157 1121 - 1157 Holland
Florence III - Floris 1131 - 1190 1157 - 1190 Holland
Theodore VII Diederic Dirk 1165 - 1203 1190 - 1203 Holland
Ada - Ada 1187 - 1227 1203 - 1207 Holland
William I - Willem 1167 - 1222 1207 - 1222 Holland
Florence IV - Floris 1210 - 1234 1222 - 1234 Holland
William II - Willem 1227 - 1256 1234 - 1256 Holland
Florence V - Floris 1254 - 1296 1256 - 1296 Holland
John I - Jan 1284 - 1299 1296 - 1299 Holland

Family tree of the Counts of Frisia and Holland

click image to enlarge


Public Domain

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Public domain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The public domain is the body of creative works and other knowledge--writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others--in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest (typically a government-granted monopoly such as a copyright or patent). Such works and inventions are considered part of the public's cultural heritage, and anyone can use and build upon them without restriction (not taking into account laws concerning safety, export, etc).

The reason for a public domain

The concept of the public domain was created by governments by applying previous legal concepts to creative work (e.g.: the commons, the village green). While copyright was created to protect the financial incentive of those doing creative work as a means to encourage more creative work, the public domain grants the public the right to use and reuse the creative work of others without financial or social burden.

Absence of legal protection

Creative works are in the public domain wherever no law exists to establish proprietary rights, or where the subject matter is specifically excluded from existing laws. For example, most mathematical formulas are not subject to copyrights or patents in most of the world. Likewise, works that were created long before such laws were passed are part of the public domain, such as the works of William Shakespeare and Ludwig van Beethoven and the inventions of Aristotle.


Most copyrights and patents have a finite term; when it expires, the work or invention falls into the public domain. In most of the world, patents expire 20 years after they are filed. Trademarks expire soon after the mark becomes a generic term. Copyrights are more complex; generally, they expire worldwide when all of the following conditions are satisfied:

The work was created and first published before January 1, 1923, or at least 95 years before January 1 of the current year, whichever is later.

The last surviving author died at least 70 years before January 1 of the current year.

No Berne Convention signatory has passed a perpetual copyright on the work.

Neither the United States nor the European Union has passed a copyright term extension since these conditions were last updated. (This must be a condition because the exact numbers in the other conditions depend on the state of the law at any given moment.)

These conditions are based on the intersection of United States and European Union copyright law, which most other Berne Convention signatories recognize. Note that copyright term extension under U.S. tradition does not restore copyright to PD works (hence the 1923 date), but European tradition does because the 1996 harmonization was based on the copyright term in Germany, which had already been extended to life plus 70. Note further that works created by a United States government agency fall into PD at the moment of creation.

Examples of inventions whose patents have expired include the inventions of Thomas Edison. Examples of works whose copyrights have expired include the works of Carlo Collodi and most of the works of Mark Twain. Examples of works under a statutory perpetual copyright include many of the Peter Pan works by J. M. Barrie. Note that works of The Walt Disney Company are not under statutory perpetual copyright on paper because the United States Constitution requires copyrights to last 'for limited Times' (Article I, section 8, clause 8), but Disney routinely provides millions of U.S. dollars of campaign money to legislators in exchange for copyright term extensions.

Disclaimer of interest

An author or inventor can explicitly disclaim any proprietary interest in the work, granting it to the public domain. Because copyright applies by default to all works, authors must do this explicitly. On the other hand, publishing the details of an invention before applying for a patent may place an invention in the public domain. For example, once a journal publishes a mathematical formula, it may no longer be used as the core of a claim in a software patent.


Laws may make some types of works and inventions ineligible for monopoly; such works immediately enter the public domain upon publication. For example, US copyright law releases all works created by the US government into the public domain, patent law excludes inventions that obviously follow from prior art, and agreements that Germany signed at the end of World War I released such trademarks as 'aspirin' and 'heroin' into the public domain in many areas.


Note that there are many works that are not part of the public domain, but for which the owner of some proprietary rights has chosen not to enforce those rights, or to grant some subset of those rights to the public. See, for example, the Free Software Foundation which creates copyrighted software and licenses it without charge to the public for most uses under a class of license called 'copyleft', forbidding only proprietary redistribution. See also Wikipedia, which does much the same thing with its content under the GNU Free Documentation License. Sometimes such work is mistakenly referred to as 'public domain' in colloquial speech.

Note also that while some works (especially musical works) may be in the public domain, U.S. law considers transcriptions or performances of those works to be derivative works, potentially subject to their own copyrights. For more details (or for public domain transcriptions of public domain works).

The role in the society

'This public domain however is important as a provider of raw material to future creators.'


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Welcome to the Holland history pages

Section Dordrecht

Coat of Arms of the city of Dordrecht

Dordrecht is known as the ancient Capital and oldest city of Holland, its surrounding land is the origin of the name Holland. Dordrecht was also the residence of the Counts of Holland for 200 years (1008-1203). The goal of this website is to enfold the history of Holland from ancient times and can in large parts be seen as one with the history of Dordrecht.

I wrote the history from sources, mainly from England and French and Belgian Flanders, which are more accurate than those of Dutch historians and ancient documents from Dutch origin. The nowadays accepted history of the Dutch nation is in some parts different than established historians would like to believe us.

Modern The Netherlands (Northern-Lowlands) was in ancient times an integrated part of the lands situated from Boulogne sur Mer in Northern France in the south to the long independent tribe of the Frisons in the north (modern Groningen, Friesland and parts of northern Germany).

During the, so called 3rd Dunkirk transgression (from 200 to about 1000 AD) large parts of modern The Netherlands and Belgian Flanders was for 2/3 part lying under sea level and was NOT inhabited, except some small islands along the present North-Sea coast. From about 950 AD the sea-level decreased and the existing islands slowly increased in size and became slowly inhabitable in the centuries to come.

At the end of the 3rd Dunkirk transgression in the 10th century the area around the present city of Dordrecht became an island just raised above water level and at the border of the North-Sea and thus was an important spot

The descendents of the Counts of Ghent in Flanders became aware of the important position of that island (later called Groote or Hollandse Waard) as base for a trade route to England and Germany due to the strategic position at the border of the North-sea and the great rivers inland, they disputed with the Diocese of Utrecht, who, at that time, used the area as a food-source for fishery and claimed the area as part of the Diocese.

The first Count of West Frisia (read the islands of Zeeland, South-Holland and North-Holland), Theodore (Dirk) III (993-1039) entrenched himself in the area in 1008, this was the beginning of the County of Holland and its celebrated city of Dordrecht. During the 10th to the 13th century many wars broke out between the young County of Holland and the Bishops of Utrecht with their allies. The wars should last until late in the 13th century.

The following pages are available :

Dordrecht history pages all about the oldest history of Dordrecht from the year 988 to 1436. More to come from 1436-1555

Dordrecht Old Buildings pages all about the Oldest Buildings of Dordrecht with their story.

St. Elisabeth flood page, the full story of this disastrous event in 1421 whereby the Hollandsche waard was flooded.

Dordrecht painters pages, a total of 25 pages, all about Painters from Dordrecht such as Aelbert Cuyp, Aert de Gelder, Samuel van Hoogstraten, Ferdinad Bol and many others.

Martyrs of Dordrecht pages, the stories of the last executions of Reformed citizens Joris Wippe, Jan Woutersz and Adriaenken Jans.

Dordrecht Events page Tourist information about Dordrecht as well as Museums and National Park The Biesbosch.


Flash Slideshow of the Dordrecht Minster

I made a flash slideshow of the inner side of the Dordrecht Minster with organ background music which can be set off when you don't like organ music. This slideshow can be paused to read the information when moving the mouse on the picture.

You can see the slideshow HERE. (the slideshow must be played in full window mode)


Dordrecht Republicans page all about Johan de Witt, Simon van Slingerlandt,  and others.

Dordrecht myths and sages page the story of foreign visitors to Dordrecht as well as some Poems and Legends about Dordrecht.

Section Holland

Holland and America, the story of the Dutch influence in the Americas during the 16-18th century.

The House of Orange-Nassau all about the Kingdom of The Netherlands and the total history of the Nassau family and their offspring from 1000 AD until present time including a detailed history of the Republic.


1. Ancient Holland The history of the Lowlands from the beginning of the Era until the last Counts of the house of Frisia in 993 AD.

2. Holland from 993 - 1299 The history of the Lowlands during the reign of the Counts of the house of Holland

3. Holland from 1299 - 1581 The history of the Lowlands during the reign of the Counts of the house of Hainaut, Bavaria and the Dukes of Habsburg.

4. Holland from 1581 - 1697 The history of the Lowlands during the 80 years war with Spain, The Republic of the Seven united Provinces, The Golden Age, The Year of Disaster (Rampjaar 1672) and the Republicans against The House of Orange.

5. Holland 1697 - 1890 The history of the Lowlands during the 18th and 19th century, The French revolution, The Batavian Republic until The Kingdom of The Netherlands.

6. The story of the Republicans of Holland against the House of Orange and the political murders in the 17th century.

7. Modern The Netherlands A short description of the Dutch fight against the North-Sea and modern Industrial and Touristic The Netherlands.

Books and Souces

On this website you can read the whole ancient story of Holland and Dordrecht with many sources and complete books of English historians who wrote about the History of Holland, the following books are available :

  1. Holland, the history of The Netherlands By Thomas Colley Grattan with a supplementary chapter of recent events by Julian Hawthorne Lardner's ‘Cyclop.’ vol. x. 1830.
  2. History of Holland and the Dutch Nation From the beginning of the tenth to the end of the eighteenth century. Including an account of the municipal institutions, commercial pursuits, and social habits of the people. The rise and progress of the protestant reformation in Holland. The intestine dissentious foreign wars By C. M. Davies. In Three Volumes Vol. I LONDON: G.Willis, Great Piazza, Covent Garden. MDCCCXLI.
  3. History of Holland Cambridge Universitiy Press C.F. CLay, Manager London: Fetter Lane, E.C.4 By George Edmundson D. LITT., F.R.G.S., F.R.HIST.S. Sometime Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford Hon. Member of the Dutch Historical Societssy, Utrecht, Foreign member of the Netherland Societssy of Literature, Leyden. Cambridge at the Universitiy Press 1922.
  4. The Black Tulip, a classic book from Alexandre Dumas about the story of Johan and Cornelis de Witt in the year 1672 also called Rampjaar (The Year of Disaster).
More to come soon

Earth's ancient history

I am very interested in the ancient history of our Earth and mankind and all it concerns. On my Earth-history website I am publishing my book regarding the Ancient History of mankind.

Earth's ancient history

I hope you have a pleasant stay


The house of Nassau-Dietz 1815-1948, Mecklenburg-Schwerin 1948-1980, Lippe-Biesterfeld 1980-2013

The House of Orange-Nassau

Blason famille de Nassau
Coat of Arms of the Counts of Laurenburg and Nassau

For further reading : Lines colored in :

ORANGE = line from Dudo-Henry to William III, 1093 - 1702, straight Male succession.

YELLOW = line from Johan William Friso to King William III of the Netherlands, 1702 - 1890, straight Male succession.

PINK = line from Queen Wilhelmina to King Willem-Alexander. 1890 - present, Female succession.

Kingdom of Holland 1806-1810

France occupation by Napoleon Bonaparte 1795-1813

In 1795 the republic of Holland was annexed by France for a short period during the reign of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and was called "Batavian Republic".

Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Français, Comte de Saint-Leu 1778-1846, King of Holland 1806-1810

LouisBonaparte Holland

Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (Lodewijk Napoleon in Dutch) was born September 2, 1778), fifth surviving child and the fourth surviving son of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino, and younger brother of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France.

Napoleon made him King of Holland on June 5, 1806. though the Napoleon had intended for the younger brother to be little more than a French governor of Holland, Louis took his duties as the King seriously, calling himself Koning Lodewijk I (adopting the Dutch form of his name), attempting to learn the Dutch language, and trying hard to be a responsible, independent ruler of Holland.

Allegedly, when he first arrived in Holland, he told the people he was the Konijn van 'Olland ("rabbit of 'Olland"), rather than "Koning van Holland" ("King of Holland"), because his Dutch was not very good by then. However, his attempt at speaking the Dutch language earned him some respect from his Dutch subjects.

While in Holland, Louis Bonaparte declared that he was Dutch and renounced his French citizenship. Louis also forced his court and ministers (mostly provided by Napoleon) to speak only Dutch, and also to renounce their French Citizenships. This latter was too much for his wife Hortense who, in France at the time of his demands, refused his request.

Louis could never settle on the location for his capital city while he was in Holland. He changed capitals over a dozen times, trying Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and other places. On one occasion, after visiting the home of a wealthy Dutch merchant, he liked the place so much that he had the owner evicted so he could take up residence there. Then, Louis moved again after seven weeks. His constant moving kept the court in upheaval since they had to follow him everywhere. The European diplomatic corps went so far as to petition Bonaparte to remain in one place so they could keep up with him. This restlessness was later attributed to his alleged "lunacy".

Two major tragedies occurred during the reign of Louis Bonaparte, the explosion of a cargo ship loaded with gunpowder in the heart of the city of Leiden in 1807, and a major flood in Holland in 1809. In both instances, Louis personally and effectively oversaw local relief efforts, which helped earn him the moniker of Louis the Good.

Louis Bonaparte's reign in The Netherlands was short-lived, which was due to two factors. The first was that his brother Napoleon wanted to reduce the value of French loans from Dutch investors by two-third, meaning a serious economic blow to the Netherlands. The second factor was that became the pretext for Napoleon's demand of Louis's abdication. As Napoleon was preparing an army for his invasion of Russia, he wanted troops from the entire region under his control, the allied border Countries. This included troops from the Netherlands. Louis, confronted by his brother's demand, refused point-blank.

Napoleon then accused Louis of putting Dutch interests above those of France, and removed most of the French forces in Holland for the coming war in the east, leaving only about 9,000 garrison soldiers in the Country. Unfortunately for Louis, the English landed an army of 40,000 in 1808 in an attempt to capture Antwerp and Flushing. With Louis unable to defend his realm, France sent 80,000 militiamen and successfully repelled the invasion. Napoleon then suggested that Louis should abdicate, citing Louis's inability to protect Holland as a reason. Louis refused. Napoleon finally forcibly removed Louis from the Dutch throne and annexed the entire Kingdom of Holland on 1 July 1810.

After his Dutch kingdom was taken away from him, Louis remained in Holland for nearly three years, and he turned to writing and poetry. Louis wrote to Napoleon after the latter's defeat in Russia to request that the Dutch throne be restored to him. However, Napoleon refused. Louis finally returned to France in 1813, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Louis married on January 4, 1802, Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of the deceased general Alexandre, Vicomte de Beauharnais and his wife Josephine Tascher de la Pagerie, who was the first wife of his brother Napoleon Bonaparte. Their marriage had been forced upon them and was rather loveless, though they supposedly consummated it often enough to produce three sons.  Hortense de Beauharnais gave birth to three sons which were officially claimed by Louis Bonaparte, despite his own doubts about their paternity:

  1. Napoleon Charles Bonaparte, born 10 November 1802, Prince Royal of Holland. When he died on 5 May 1807 at 4½ years of age, his body lay in state at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He is buried at Saint-Leu-La-Foret, Ile-de-France.
  2. Napoleon Louis Bonaparte, born 11 October 1804. Became Prince Royal of Holland on his brother's death, and was King Lodewijk II for one week between his father's abdication and the fall of Holland to Napoleon Bonaparte's invading army. Napoleon Louis Bonaparte died 17 March 1831, and his remains were buried at Saint-Leu-La-Foret, Île-de-France.
  3. Charles Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, (1808-1873). Born in Paris, he was the third and last son, and would become Emperor Napoleon III of France (1852 - 70).

He died July 25, 1846

Kingdom of The Netherlands 1815-Present

Coat of arms of the Netherlands svg

In 1815 The Netherlands became a Kingdom and consisted of :

  1. The Netherlands (Groningen, Friesland, Drente, Overijssel, Gelderland, Utrecht, North-Holland, South-Holland, Zeeland, North-Brabant and Limburg).

  2. Belgium (Wallone, Flanders, South-Limburg, South-Brabant).

  3. Luxembourg

  4. Indonesia (the same area as the present Republic of Indonesia)

  5. Suriname

  6. The Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St-Maarten and St-Eusthasius.

Willem I Frederik 1772-1843, Prince of The Netherlands 1813-1815, King of The Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg 1815-1840, Titled "Prince of Orange-Nassau"

koning willem 1William I Frederick, was born in The Hague, 24 August 1772. William I's parents were the last Stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange and his wife Wilhelmina of Prussia. Until 1813, William was known as William VI, Prince of Nassau-Dietz, Prince of Orange. In Berlin on 1 October 1791, William married his first cousin (Frederica Louisa) Wilhelmina, was the daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia. After Wilhelmina died in 1837, William married his misstress Countess Henrietsste d'Oultremont de Wégimont (1792-1864), created Countess of Nassau, on 17 February 1841 in Berlin. This was a morganatic marriage. Two years later, William died in Berlin, 12 December 1843.

His father William V was hereditary Stadtholder when the Republic of the Seven United Provinces was invaded by the French Revolutionary armies in 1794. In January 1795 William V fled with his son to England. Unlike his father, who gave his people permission to collaborate with the French, William was a strong personality and he tried to regain the Republic.

In 1799, William landed in the current North Holland as part of an Anglo-Russian invasion. The local Dutch population was not pleased with the arrival of the Prince. Some local Orangists were even executed. After several minor battles he was forced to leave the Country again after the Convention of Alkmaar. Napoleon Bonaparte gave him some small German principalities as indemnities for the lost territories, for a short while he became ruler (as Fürst) of the principality Nassau-Orange-Fulda in Germany from 1803 until 1806. But these principalities were confiscated when Napoleon invaded Germany in 1806 and William supported his Prussian relatives. He succeeded his father as prince of Orange later that year, after William V's death.

After Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig (October, 1813), the French troops retreated to France. A provisional government was formed under the lead of some former Patriots who recalled William, in contrast to their 1785 rebellion. In their view, it was taken for granted that William would have to head any new regime, and it would be better in the long term for the Dutch to restore him themselves.

The Dutch population was pleased with the departure of the French, who had ruined the Dutch economy, and this time welcomed the prince. On 30 November 1813 William landed at Scheveningen beach, only a few metres from the place where he had left the Country with his father eighteen years previously, and on 6 December the provisional government offered him the title of King.

William refused, instead proclaiming himself "sovereign prince". He also wanted the rights of the people to be guaranteed by "a wise constitution". The constitution offered William extensive (almost absolute) powers. Ministers were only responsible to him, while a two-chambered parliament (the States-General) exercised only limited power. In 1814 he gained sovereignty over the whole of the Low Countries and was inaugurated as "sovereign prince" in Amsterdam.

Belgium part of The United Netherlands

A short history :

In 843 the area of present Belgium was divided between France and Lorraine by the grandsons of King Charles the Great. Through the Middle Ages the Counts of Flanders were liege to the French Kings. Brabant, Hainaut, Limburg and Luxemburg stayed a part of the German State.

At the end of the 14th century the Dukes of Burgundy tried to unite the "Low Countries" to get a huge state in the west of Europe. However, after the death of Duke Charles the Bold the House of Habsburg inherited the land.

The 80 years war (1568-1648) between the Spanish King Philip II and the Low Countries led to the independency of the northern part of the Low Countries as the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. The south came to the Austrian Habsburgs after 1700.

On January 11th, 1790, the States General in Brussels declared the United Belgian States independent but instead if its Independence it became a part of the French Republic in 1795 and later the French Empire (1806).

With the rise of Napoleon, French rule over Belgium became more constructive, including the revitalization of industry and (with the opening of the Schelde) the partial recovery of Antwerp as important harbor was established).

With Napoleon's fall, the great Allied powers decreed that Belgium would become a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1815 Belgium was reunited with the northern part of the Low Countries. Together they became the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The United Kingdom of the Netherlands 1815-1830

Feeling threatened by Napoleon who had escaped from Elba, William proclaimed himself King of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands on 16 March 1815 at the urging of the powers gathered at the Congress of Vienna. His son, the future king William II, fought as a commander at the Battle of Waterloo. After Napoleon had been sent into exile, William adopted a new constitution which included much of the old constitution, such as extensive royal powers. In the same year on June, 9, William I became also the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

The States-General was divided into two chambers.

  1. The Eerste Kamer (First Chamber or Senate or House of Lords) was appointed by the King.
  2. The Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber or House of Representatives or House of Commons) was elected by the Provincial States, which were in turn chosen by census suffrage.

The 110 seats were divided equally between the North and the South (modern-day Belgium), although the population of the North (2 million) was significantly less than that of the South (3.5 million).

The constitution was accepted in the North (Netherlands), but not in the South (Belgium). The under-representation of the South was one of the causes of the Belgian Revolution. Referendum turnout was low, in the Southern provinces, but William interpreted all abstentions to be yes votes. He prepared a lavish inauguration for himself in Brussels, where he gave the people copper coins (leading to his first nickname, the Copper King).

The spearhead of King William's policies was economic progress. As he founded many trade institutions, his second nickname was the King-Merchant. In 1822, he founded the Algemeene Nederlandsche Maatschappij ter Begunstiging van de Volksvlijt, which would become one of the most important institutions of Belgium after its independence. Industry flourished, especially in the South. In 1817, he also founded three universities in the Southern provinces, such as a new University of Leuven, the University of Ghent and the University of Liège.

The Northern provinces, meanwhile, were the centre of trade, in combination with the colonies (Dutch East Indies, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles) created great wealth for the Kingdom, however, the money flowed into the hands of Dutch directors. Only a few Belgians managed to profit from the economic growth. Feelings of economic inequity were another cause of the Belgian uprising in 1830.

Officially, a separation of church and state existed in the kingdom. However, William himself was a strong supporter of the Reformed Church. This led to resentment among the people in the South, who were Roman Catholic. William had also devised controversial language and school policies. Dutch was imposed as the official language in (the Dutch-speaking region of) Flanders; this angered French-speaking aristocrats and industrial workers. Schools throughout the Kingdom were required to instruct students in the Reformed faith and the Dutch language. Many in the South feared that the King sought to exterminate Catholicism and the French language.

Belgian uprising

In August 1830 the opera La Muette de Portici, involving the repression of Neapolitans, was staged in Brussels. Performances of this show seemed to crystallize a sense of nationalism and "Hollandophobia" in Brussels, and spread to the rest of the South.

Rioting ensued, chiefly aimed at the kingdom's unpopular justice minister, who lived in Brussels. An infuriated William responded by sending troops to repress the riots. However, the riots had spread to other Southern cities. The riots quickly became popular uprisings.

Although the Dutch King Willem I sent Crown Prince William to the south with an army but in September that army was forced to leave Brussels.

Belgium independent

On October 4th, 1830, the provisional government declared Belgium independent, and in November they choose to reject the dynasty of the Nassau-Dietz family.

After other States in the world recognized the Country as an independent state, the government looked out for a monarch. The second son of King Louis-Philippe of France, the Duke of Némours, was asked, but refused. Finally on June 4th 1831 Leopold Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was chosen. He had been married to the British Princess Charlotte, who died in childbed in 1817. The new King was welcomed in Brussels on July 21st, 1831, and on the same day he took the oath as King Leopold I.

A year after he became King Leopold I married Louise-Marie, a daughter of King Louis-Philippe of France, to secure the survival of his dynasty. She gave birth to three sons: the oldest died soon after his birth, the second became King Leopold II, and the third Philippe Count of Flanders later secured the survival of the dynasty.

Soon afterwards the Dutch tried to win back Belgium for the last time. William I sent his younger sons Prince Frederik to Belgium, leading a big army, to repress the south. Although initially victorious, the Dutch army was forced to retreat after the threat of French intervention. With the help of France, Belgium stayed independent, but lost Maastricht and a part of Luxemburg and Limburg to The Northern Netherlands. Luxembourg stayed part of The Northern Netherlands until 1890.

Until 1839 the Dutch refused to acknowledge the independency of the Belgian State. Some support for the Orange dynasty (chiefly among Flemings) persisted for years but the Dutch never regained control over Belgium again. William nevertheless continued the war for eight years until 1839.

His economic successes became overshadowed by a perceived mismanagement of the war effort. High costs of the war came to burden the Dutch economy, fueling public resentment.

In 1839, William was forced to end the war. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was dissolved and continued as the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Constitutional changes were initiated in 1840 because the terms which involved the United Kingdom of the Netherlands had to be removed. These constitutional changes also included the introduction of judicial ministerial responsibility. Although the policies remained uncontrolled by parliament, the prerogative was controllable now. The very conservative William could not live with these constitutional changes. This, the disappointment about the loss of Belgium and William's intention to marry his misstress Henrietssta d'Oultremont (scandalously both Belgian and Catholic) created desires about abdication. He fulfilled his desires on 7 October 1840. After his abdication he named himself King William Frederick, Count of Nassau, children of his 1st marriage :

  1. William II of The Netherlands (1792-1849)
  2. William Frederik Karel (1797-1881), married 1825 his cousin, Louise
  3. Augusta of Prussia (1808-1870). **
  4. Pauline (1800-1806).
  5. Stillborn
  6. Marianne (1810-1883), married 1830, divorced 1849 her cousin, Albert of Prussia (1809-1872). Marianne had a love affair with Johannes van Rossum (1809-1873)

** His decendents became the ancestors of the Royal family's of Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

William II 1792-1849, King of The Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Duke of Limburg 1840-1849, Titled "Prince of Orange-Nassau"

William II (Willem Frederik George Lodewijk van Oranje-Nassau) (1792-1849) was born in The Hague, the son of King William I of the Netherlands and Wilhelmina, princess of Prussia. His maternal grandparents were Frederick William II of Prussia and his second wife Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.

When William was three he and his family fled to England after allied British-Hanoverian mercenaries left the Republic and entering French troops joined the anti-orangist Patriots. William spent his youth in Berlin at the Prussian court. There he followed a military education and served in the Prussian army. Afterwards he studied at the University of Oxford.

He entered the British Army, and in 1811, as aide-de-camp to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, took part in several campaigns of the Peninsular War. He returned to the Netherlands in 1813 when his father became sovereign prince.

In 1815, William became crown prince and he took service in the army when Napoleon I of France escaped from Elba. He fought as commander of 1st English Corps at the Battle of Quatre Bras (16 June 1815) and the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), where he was wounded. He showed personal courage and energy, but frequently displayed atrocious military judgement, leading to many heavy casualties.

On 21 February 1816 at the Chapel of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, William married Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, youngest sister to Czar Alexander I of Russia, who arranged the marriage to seal the good relations between Imperial Russia and the Netherlands. On 17 February 1817 in Brussels, his first son Willem Alexander was born, the future King William III.

He lived in Brussels and became affiliated with the Southern industrials. In 1819, he was blackmailed over what the then Minister of Justice Van Maanen termed in a letter as his "shameful and unnatural lusts", presumably bisexuality. He may also have had a relationship with a dandy by the name of Pereira.

William II enjoyed considerable popularity in the Southern Netherlands, as well as in the Netherlands for his affability and moderation, and in 1830, on the outbreak of the Belgian revolution, he did his utmost in Brussels as a peace broker, to bring about a settlement based on administrative autonomy for the southern provinces, under the House of Orange-Nassau.

His father, William I, rejected the terms of accommodation that he had proposed; afterwards, relations with his father were tense. In April 1831, William II was military leader of the ten day campaign in Belgium which was driven back to the North by French intervention. After nine years of war peace was finally established between Belgium and the Netherlands in 1839.

On 7 October 1840, on his father's abdication, he acceded the throne as William II. Like his father he was conservative and less likely to initiate changes. He intervened less in policies than his father did. There was increased agitation for broad constitutional reform and a wider electoral franchise. And though he was personally conservative and no democrat, he acted with sense and moderation.

The Revolutions of 1848 broke out all over Europe. In Paris the Bourbon-Orléans monarchy fell. William became afraid of revolution in Amsterdam. One morning he woke up and said: "I changed from conservative to liberal in one night". He gave orders to Johan Rudolf Thorbecke to create a new constitution which included that the Eerste Kamer (Senate) would be elected indirectly by the Provincial States and that the Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives) would be elected directly. Electoral system changed into census suffrage in electoral districts (in 1917 census suffrage was replaced by common suffrage for all men, and districts were replaced by party lists of different political parties), whereby royal power decreased sharply. That constitution is still in effect today. He swore in the first parliamentary cabinet a few months before his sudden death in 1849.

Willem II of The Netherlands (1792-1849), married 1816 Anna Pawlowna of Russia (1795-1865), children :

  1. William III of The Netherlands (1817-1890)
  2. William Alexander Frederik (1818-1848)
  3. William Frederik Hendrik (1820-1879), Stadtholder of Luxembourg 1850, married 1st 1853 Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1830-1872), married 2nd 1878 Maria of Prussia (1855-1888). Their age difference was 35 years. After his death she married Albert of Saxe-Altenburg (1843-1902) in 1885
  4. William Alexander Frederik Ernst Casimir (b1822)
  5. Wilhelmine Marie Sophie Louise (1824-1897) married 1842, her cousin, Karl Alexander of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1818-1901), son of Maria Pawlowna of Russia.

William III 1817-1890, , King of The Netherlands, Grand Duke of Luxembourg 1849-1890 and Duke of Limburg 1849-1866 (Abolished), Titled "Prince of Orange-Nassau"


William III (Willem Alexander Paul Frederik Lodewijk, anglicised: William Alexander Paul Frederick Louis of Orange-Nassau) (19 February 1817 – 23 November 1890) was from 1849 King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg until his death and the Duke of Limburg until the abolition of the Duchy in 1866.

William was born in Brussels as son of William II of the Netherlands and Queen Anna Paulowna, daughter of Tsar Paul I of all the Russians and Empress Maria Fyodorovna (Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg). In his early years, he served in the military.

He married his first cousin, Sophie (1818-1877), daughter of King William I of Württemberg and Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia, in Stuttgart on 18 June 1839. This marriage was unhappy and was characterized by struggles about their children. Sophie was a liberal intellectual, hating everything leaning toward dictatorship, such as the army. William was simpler, more conservative, and loved the military. He prohibited intellectual exercise at home, for which action Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who corresponded with Sophie, called him an uneducated farmer.(His extramarital enthusiasms, however, led the New York Times to call him "the greatest debauchee of the age").

Another cause of marital tension (and later political tension) was his capriciousness, he could rage against someone one day, and be extremely polite the next. William loathed the 1848 constitutional changes initiated by his father (William II) and Johan Rudolf Thorbecke. William II and Sophie saw them as key to the monarchy's survival in changing times. William III himself saw them as useless limitations of royal power, and wished to govern like his grandfather, William I. He tried to relinquish his right to the throne to his younger brother Henry. His mother convinced him to cancel this action. One year later (1849) William became King upon the death of his father.

King William III repeatedly contemplated abdicating as soon as his eldest son William, Prince of Orange turned eighteen. This occurred in 1858, but as William was uncomfortable making a decision he remained King. His first act was the inauguration of the parliamentary cabinet of Thorbecke, the liberal designer of the 1848 constitution, whom William loathed.

When the Roman Catholic hierarchy of bishops was restored in 1853 he found a reason to dismiss his rival. In the first two decades of his reign, he dismissed several cabinets and disbanded the States-General several times, installing royal cabinets which ruled briefly as there was no support in elected parliament.

In 1856, William unilaterally instituted a new, reactionary constitution for Luxembourg in what has become known as the 'Coup of 1856'. He tried to sell the grand duchy in 1867, leading to the Luxembourg Crisis, which almost precipitated war between Prussia and France. However, the subsequent Second Treaty of London reestablished Luxembourg as a fully independent County. The King was popular with the ordinary people (Orangists), presenting himself as a cordial man.

In 1877, Queen Sophie died after an unhappy marriage and years of war in the palace came to an end. In the same year, King William announces his intention to marry Eleonore d'Ambre, a French opera singer, whom he ennobled as Countess d'Ambroise, though without government consent. Under pressure from the government, he abandoned his marriage plans.

In 1879, King William decided to marry Princess Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont, a small German principality. Some politicians were quite angry, as she was 41 years the king's junior. Emma showed herself, however, as a cordial woman; and when William asked permission from parliament, it was easily granted and the couple were quickly married in Arolsen on 7 January 1879, though she was not his first choice.

He had previously been rejected by her sister, Princess Pauline of Waldeck and Pyrmont, as well as Princess Thyra of Denmark, a sister of England's Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra) and of Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia.

Emma had a relieving influence on William's capricious personality and the marriage was extremely happy. The last decade was without any doubt the best of his reign. In 1880, Wilhelmina was born. She became heiress in 1884 after the death of the last remaining son from William's first marriage. Many potential heirs had died between 1878 and 1884.

King William became seriously ill in 1887. However in 1888, he managed to personally hand over a gold medal of honour to naval hero Dorus Rijkers for saving the lives of 20 people. He died in palace Het Loo in 1890.

Of William III's children, only three reached adulthood, two sons from his marriage to Queen Sophie and one "daughter" from his marriage to Queen Emma: #

  1. Willem Nicolaas Alexander Frederik Karel Hendrik "Wiwill",(1840–1879). Heir to the Throne from 1849 till his death. He asked for permission to marry the Dutch Countess Anna Mathilda "Mattie" van Limburg Stirum (1854-1932), but was not allowed to do so. From 1867 onwards Willem lived in Paris.
  2. Willem Frederik Maurits Alexander Hendrik Karel (1843–1850).
  3. Willem Alexander Karel Hendrik Frederik (1851–1884). Heir to the Throne from 1879 till his death.

Willem III married 2nd 1879 Adelheid Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont (1858-1934). Their age difference was more than 41 years.

  1. Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria (1880–1962). Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948.

# It is a "public secret" that Wilhelmina was possible NOT the "real" child of Willem III because her "father" was already ill and possibly impotent when he married Emma. A DNA test would give the answer but the present royal family will never give permission for such a test. The Nassau-Dietz family became extinct with the dead of King Willem III in 1890.

Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont 1858-1934, Queen-Regent of The Netherlands 1890-1898

Emma was born as Adelheid Emma Wilhelmina Theresia, Princess of Waldeck and Pyrmont on 2 August 1858 . She was the fourth daughter of Georg Viktor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont and Helena, Princess of Nassau.

Emma (2 August 1858 – 20 March 1934) was Queen consort of William III, King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg. She became an immensely popular member of the Dutch royal family, After William's dead she became Queen regent from 1890 to 1898 and Queen Mother 1890–1934.

Because Wilhelmina had not yet reached adulthood, Emma became Queen-Regent for her daughter. She would remain Queen-Regent until Wilhelmina's eighteenth birthday in 1898.

Luxembourg Independent

After the dead of King Willem III the Nassau-Dietz family became extinct. The Salic Law *** prohibited the succession of Queen Wilhelmina and because of that the government decided, by Constitution, that the "Salic Law" should no longer be followed regarding the succession of a Female (Queen) and The Netherlands became a Constitutional monarchy.

*** Rule of succession in certain royal and noble families of Europe, forbid females and those descended in the female line to succeed to the titles or offices in the family. It is called the Salic law on the mistaken supposition that it was part of the Lex Salica (see Germanic laws; provisions of that code forbade female succession to property but were not concerned with titles or offices.

The Luxembourg Grand Duchy could only be inherited through the male line, under Salic law, thus the local government of Luxembourg did not accept Wilhelmina as the female-successor of her "father" and further disagreed with the Dutch to change the Constitution and declared themselves independent in 1890.

A distant relative in the House of Nassau was found for the Grand Duchy. This turned out to be Adolphe, who had been the Duke of Nassau-Usingen and Nassau-Weilburg and had lost his state to Prussia in 1866, after taking the side of Austria in the Six Weeks War. Since Adolphe was actually of the senior line of Nassau, this was actually rather nice, for the Netherlands, in effect, to find a position for him after the loss of his job to Prussia.

Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Marie 1880-1962, Queen-regnant of The Netherlands 1898-1948, Titled "Princess of Orange-Nassau"


Wilhelmina ruled the Netherlands for fifty-eight years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Her reign saw World War I and World War II, the economic crisis of 1933, and the decline of the Netherlands as a major colonial empire. Outside the Netherlands she is primarily remembered for her role in World War II, in which she proved to be a great inspiration to the Dutch resistance.

Princess Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Marie of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, was born on 31 August 1880 in The Hague, Netherlands. She was the only child of King William III and his second wife, Emma of Waldeck and Pyrmont.

Her childhood was characterized by a close relationship with her parents, especially with her father, who was 63 years of age when she was born. When Wilhelmina was four, her half-brother Prince Alexander died and the young girl became heiress presumptive. King William III died on 23 November 1890, and, although Princess Wilhelmina became Queen of the Netherlands instantly, her mother, Emma, was named regent. Wilhelmina was enthroned on 6 September 1898.

On 7 February 1901 in The Hague, she married Hendrik, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Although the marriage was said to be essentially without love, initially Wilhelmina truly cared for Hendrik, and it is likely that those feelings were mutual. Hendrik, however, suffered from his role as prince-consort, stating that it was boring to be nothing more than decoration, forced always to walk one step behind his wife. He had no power in the Netherlands, and Wilhelmina made sure this remained so.

Succession crisis

The couple's childlessness also contributed to a crisis in their marriagebecause Prince Hendrik was reported to have had several illegitimate children. Wilhelmina suffered miscarriages in 1901 and 1906 and gave birth to a stillborn son in 1902.

According to the Dutch constitution, Wilhelm Ernst Charles Alexander Frederick Henry Bernard Albert George Herman) (10 0 June 1876 – 24 April 1923), the last Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach was in the line for the throne of the Netherlands (as the grandson of Princess Sophie of the Netherlands) after Queen Wilhelmina.

The Dutch feared the possibility of German influence or even annexation of the Netherlands. In order to prevent this, some lawyers tried to change the constitution to exclude Wilhelm Ernst from the succession. Another way, however, was this: he or his offspring -if Wilhelmina would die childless- would have to choose between the Dutch and the Weimar throne.

The birth of Wilhelmina's daughter Juliana on 30 April 1909, was met with great relief after eight years of childless marriage lessened the chance for any member of the house of Wettin (Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach branch) to inherit the Dutch throne. With the amendment to the constitution of 1922, which restricted the right of succession to the offspring of Wilhelmina, the possibility disappeared entirely. Wilhelmina suffered two further miscarriages in 1912.


Tactful, and careful to operate within the limitations of what was expected by the Dutch people and their elected representatives, the strong-willed Wilhelmina became a forceful personality who spoke and acted her mind. These qualities showed up early on in her reign when, at the age of 20 (1908), Queen Wilhelmina ordered a Dutch warship to South Africa to rescue Paul Kruger, the embattled President of the Transvaal. For this, Wilhelmina gained international stature and earned the respect and admiration of people all over the world. Wilhelmina had a stern dislike of the United Kingdom, which had annexed the republics of Transvaal and Oranje vrijstaat (Orange Free State) in the Boer War in South-Africa. The Boers were descendants of early Dutch colonists, to whom Wilhelmina felt very closely linked.

Queen Wilhelmina also had a keen understanding of business matters and her investments made her the world's richest woman, a status retained by her daughter Juliana and by her granddaughter, Beatrix. The Dutch Royal Family is reputed still to be the single largest shareholder of Royal Dutch Shell.

Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, the young Wilhelmina visited the powerful Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, who boasted to the Queen of a relatively small Country, "my guards are seven feet tall and yours are only shoulder-high to them". Wilhelmina smiled politely and replied, "Quite true, Your Majesty, your guards are seven feet tall. But when we open our dikes, the water is ten feet deep!".

World War I

The Netherlands remained neutral during World War I. Germany had sizeable investments in the Dutch economy combined with a large trading partnership in goods. To weaken the German Empire, the United Kingdom blockaded Dutch ports. In response the Dutch government traded with Germany. German soldiers were given Edam cheese for their rations before an assault.

Wilhelmina was a "soldier's queen"; being a woman, she could not be Supreme Commander, but she nevertheless used every opportunity she had to inspect her forces. On many occasions she appeared without prior notice, wishing to see the reality, not a prepared show. She loved her soldiers, but was very unhappy with most of her governments, which used the military as a constant source for budget-cutting. Wilhelmina wanted a small but well trained and equipped army. However, this was far from the reality.

In the war, she felt she was a "Queen-On-Guard". She was always wary of a German attack, especially in the beginning. However, violation of Dutch territorial sovereignty came from both Britain and the United States, who, with the blockade, captured many Dutch trade and cargo ships in an attempt to disrupt the German war effort. This led to increased tensions between the Netherlands and the Allied forces. Civil unrest, spurred on by the Bolshevik revolt in Imperial Russia in 1917, gripped the Netherlands after the war.

The socialist leader Pietsser Jelle Troelstra tried to overthrow the government and the Queen. Instead of a violent revolution, he wanted to control the House of Representatives, the legislative body of Parliament, and hoped to achieve this by means of elections, convinced that the working class would support him. However, the popularity of the young Queen helped restore confidence in the government. Wilhelmina brought about a mass show of support by riding with her daughter through the mobs in an open carriage. It was very clear that the revolution would not succeed.

After the armistice ending World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm fled to the Netherlands, where he was granted political asylum by the Dutch government, partly owing to his family links with Queen Wilhelmina. In response to Allied efforts to get their hands on the deposed Kaiser, Wilhelmina called the Allies' ambassadors to her presence and lectured them on the rights of asylum.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the Netherlands began to emerge as an industrial power. Engineers reclaimed vast amounts of land that had been under water by building the Zuiderzee Works. The death of Wilhelmina's husband, Prince Hendrik, in 1934 brought an end to a difficult year that also saw the passing of her mother Queen-regent Emma.

The interbellum, and most notably the economic crisis of the 1930s, was also the period in which Wilhelmina's personal power reached its zenith; under the successive governments of a staunch monarchist prime minister, Hendrik Colijn (ARP party), Wilhelmina was deeply involved in most questions of state.

In 1939, Colijn's fifth and last government was swept away by a vote of no confidence two days after its formation. It is widely accepted that Wilhelmina herself was behind the formation of this last government, which was designed to be an extra-parliamentary or 'royal' cabinet. The Queen was deeply sceptical of the parliamentary system, like her father, grandfather and great-grandfather and tried to bypass it covertly more than once.

She also arranged the marriage between her daughter Juliana and Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, a German prince who had lost most of his possessions after the Great War. Although it was claimed that he was initially a supporter of the Nazi regime, no hard evidence of this has ever been found or publicized. The prince however, was a member of the Nazi-party and of the so-called 'Reiter-Abschnitte' (equestrian department) of the SS, as was proved by the Dutch national institute for war documentation, NIOD. Prince Bernhard was a very popular figure in the Netherlands from the start.

World War II

On 10 May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and she fled The Hague, three days later, King George VI sent the warship HMS Hereward, to rescue Wilhelmina, her family and her Government and bring them to safety in the UK, which offered facilities including broadcasting time on the BBC to the Netherlands. This may have ameliorated her earlier stern dislike of the UK regarding the English policy in South Africa a few decades earlier.

Queen Wilhelmina had wanted to stay in the Netherlands: she had planned to go to the southern province of Zeeland with her troops in order to coordinate further resistance from the town of Breskens and remain there until help arrived, much as King Albert I of Belgium had done during World War I.

She boarded HMS Hereward which was to take her south, however, after she was aboard, Zeeland came under heavy attack from the Luftwaffe and it was considered too dangerous to return. Wilhelmina was then left with no option but to accept George VI's offer of refuge. She retreated to Britain, planning to return as soon as possible. The Dutch armed forces in the Netherlands, apart from those in Zeeland, surrendered on 15 May.

Exile in the UK

In Britain, Queen Wilhelmina took charge of the Dutch government in exile, setting up a chain of command and immediately communicating a message to her people. Relations between the Dutch government and the Queen were tense, with mutual dislike growing as the war progressed. Wilhelmina went on to be the most prominent figure, owing to her experience and knowledge. She was also very popular and respected among the leaders of the world. The government did not have a parliament to back them and had few employees to assist them.

The Dutch prime minister Dirk Jan de Geer, believed the Allies would not win and intended to open negotiations with the Nazis for a separate peace. Therefore Wilhelmina sought to remove Jan de Geer from power. With the aid of a minister, Pietsser Gerbrandy, she succeeded.

During the war her photograph was a sign of resistance against the Germans. Like Winston Churchill, Queen Wilhelmina broadcast messages to the Dutch people over Radio Oranje. The Queen called Adolf Hitler "the arch-enemy of mankind". Her late-night broadcasts were eagerly awaited by her people, who had to hide in order to listen to them illegally. An anecdote published in her New York Times obituary illustrates how she was valued by her subjects during this period: Although celebration of the Queen’s birthday was forbidden by the Nazis, it was commemorated nevertheless. When churchgoers in the small fishing town of Huizen rose and sang one verse of the Dutch national anthem, Wilhelmus van Nassauwe, on the Queen’s birthday, the town paid a fine of 60,000 guilders.

Queen Wilhelmina visited the USA from 24 June-11 August 1942 as guest of the US government. She vacationed in Lee, Massachusetts, visited New York City, Boston, and Albany, NY. She addressed the US congress on 5 August 1942. Queen Wilhelmina went to Canada in 1943 to attend the christening of her grandchild Princess Margrietss on 29 June 1943 in Ottawa and stayed a while with her family before returning to England.

During the war, the Queen was almost killed by a bomb that took the lives of several of her guards and severely damaged her Country home near South Mimms in England. In 1944 Queen Wilhelmina became only the second woman to be inducted into the Order of the Garter. Churchill described her as the only real man among the governments-in-exile in London.

In England, she developed ideas about a new political and social life for the Dutch after the liberation. She wanted a strong cabinet formed by people active in the resistance. She dismissed De Geer during the war and installed a prime minister with the approval of other Dutch politicians. The Queen "hated" politicians, instead stating a love for the people.

When the Netherlands was liberated in 1945 she was disappointed to see the same political factions taking power as before the war. Prior to the end of the war, in mid-March 1945, she travelled to the Allied occupied areas of the south of the Netherlands visiting the region of Walcheren and the city of Eindhoven where she received a rapturous welcome from the local population.

Following the end of World War II, Queen Wilhelmina made the decision not to return to her palace but move into a mansion in The Hague, where she lived for eight months, and she travelled through the Countryside to motivate people, sometimes using a bicycle instead of a car.

However, in 1947, while the Country was still recovering from World War II, the revolt in the oil-rich Dutch East Indies saw sharp criticism of the Queen by the Dutch economic elite. Her loss of popularity and the forced departure from the East Indies under international pressure led to her abdication soon after.

As of 1948, Wilhelmina was the only survivor of 16 European kings and one queen who sat on their thrones at the time of her coronation. The Dutch Royal Family was also one of seven European royal houses remaining in existence. On 4 September 1948, after a reign of 57 years and 286 days, Wilhelmina abdicated in favour of her daughter Juliana. She was thenceforward styled "Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands". After her reign, the influence of the Dutch monarchy began to decline but the Country's love for its royal family continued.

No longer queen, Wilhelmina retreated to Het Loo Palace, making few public appearances until the Country was devastated by the North Sea flood of 1953. Once again she travelled around the Country to encourage and motivate the Dutch people. During her last years she wrote her autobiography entitled Eenzaam, maar niet alleen (Lonely but Not Alone), in which she gave account of the events in her life, and revealed her strong religious feelings and motivations.

Queen Wilhelmina died in Het Loo at the age of 82 on 28 November 1962, and was buried in the Dutch Royal Family crypt in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, on 8 December.

Wilhelmina Queen of The Netherlands 1890-1948 (abdicated), married 1901 Heinrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1876-1934), children :

  1. Juliana Luise Emma Marie Wilhelmina, April 30, 1909–March 20, 2004

Juliana von Mecklenburg-Schwerin 1909-2004, Queen of The Netherlands 1948-1980, Titled "Princess of Orange-Nassau"

house-orange6Juliana was born in The Hague, the daughter of Hendrik of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Juliana spent her childhood at Het Loo Palace in Apeldoorn, and at Noordeinde Palace and Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague.

As the Dutch constitution specified that she should be ready to succeed to the throne by the age of eighteen, Princess Juliana's education proceeded at a faster pace than that of most children. After five years of primary education, the Princess received her secondary education (to pre-university level) from private tutors.

On 30 April 1927, Princess Juliana celebrated her eighteenth birthday. Under the constitution, she had officially come of age and was entitled to assume the royal prerogative, if necessary. Two days later her mother installed her in the "Raad van State" ("Council of State"). A young, shy and introverted woman Juliana did not fit the image of a Royal Princess. She would, nonetheless, become much loved and respected by most of the Dutch people.

In line with the views of the times, Queen Wilhelmina began a search for a suitable husband for her daughter. It was difficult to find a Protestant Prince from a ruling family who suited the standards of the strictly religious Dutch Court. Princes from the United Kingdom and Sweden were "vetted" but either declined or were rejected by the Princess. After meeting His Serene Highness Prince Bernhard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld at the 1936 Winter Olympics in Bavaria, Princess Juliana's Royal engagement was arranged by her mother. Prince Bernhard was a suave young businessman and, although not a playboy, certainly a "man about town" with a dashing lifestyle. Princess Juliana fell deeply in love with her fiancé, a love that was to last a lifetime and that withstood separation during the war and the many publicly known extramarital affaifjrs and children by the Prince.

In a legal document that spelled out exactly what the German Prince could and could not do, and the amount of money he could expect from the sole heir to the large fortune of the Dutch Royal Family, the astute Queen Wilhelmina left nothing to chance. The document was signed, and the couple's engagement was announced on 8 September 1936. The wedding announcement divided a Country that mistrusted Germany under Adolf Hitler. Prior to the wedding, on 24 November 1936, Prince Bernhard was granted Dutch citizenship and changed the spelling of his names from German to Dutch. They married in The Hague on 7 January 1937, the date on which Princess Juliana's grandparents, King William III and Queen Emma, had married fifty-eight years earlier. The civil ceremony was held in The Hague Town Hall and the marriage was blessed in the Great Church (St. Jacobskerk), likewise in The Hague. The young couple moved into Soestdijk Palace in Baarn.

The tense European political climate in the shadow of the growing threat of Nazi Germany was stoked further in the Netherlands when Adolf Hitler hinted that the Royal marriage was a sign of an alliance between the Netherlands and Germany. An angry Queen Wilhelmina quickly made a public denunciation of Hitler's remark, but the incident had by then caused further resentment over Juliana's choice for a husband. Further revelations of Prince Bernhard's past conduct added to the growing resentment amongst many of the Dutch people.


During the war and German occupation of the Netherlands the Prince and Princess decided to leave the Netherlands with their two daughters for the United Kingdom, to represent the State of the Netherlands in exile. The Princess remained there for a month before taking the children to Ottawa, the capital of Canada, where she resided at Stornoway in the suburb of Rockcliffe Park.

Juliana quickly endeared herself to the Canadian people, displaying simple warmth, asking that she and her children be treated as just another family during difficult times. In the city of Ottawa, where few people recognised her, Princess Juliana sent her two daughters to Rockcliffe Park Public School (where the gymnasium is still named after her), did her own grocery buying and shopped at Woolworth's Department Store. She enjoyed going to the movies and often would stand innocuously in the line-up to purchase her ticket. When her next door neighbour was about to give birth, the Princess of the Netherlands offered to baby-sit the woman's other children.

When her third child Margrietss was born, the Governor General of Canada, Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone, granted Royal Assent to a special law declaring Princess Juliana's rooms at the Ottawa Civic Hospital as extraterritorial so that the infant would have exclusively Dutch, not dual nationality. Had these arrangements not occurred, Princess Margrietss would not be in the line of succession. The Canadian government flew the Dutch tricolour flag on parliament's Peace Tower while its carillon rang out with Dutch music at the news of Princess Margrietss's birth.

Prince Bernhard, who had remained in London with Queen Wilhelmina and members of the exiled Dutch government, was able to visit his family in Canada and be there for Margrietss's birth. Princess Juliana's genuine warmth and the gestures of her Canadian hosts created a lasting bond which was reinforced when Canadian soldiers fought and died by the thousands in 1944 and 1945 to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazis.

Return to The Netherlands

On 2 May 1945 she returned by a military transport plane with Queen Wilhelmina to the liberated part of the Netherlands, rushing to Breda to set up a temporary Dutch government. Once home she expressed her gratitude to Canada by sending the city of Ottawa 100,000 tulip bulbs. On 24 June 1945 she sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth from Gourock, Scotland, to the United States, listing her last permanent residence as London, England.

The following year (1946), Juliana donated another 20,500 bulbs, with the request that a portion of these be planted at the grounds of the Ottawa Civic Hospital where she had given birth to Margrietss. At the same time, she promised Ottawa an annual gift of tulips during her lifetime to show her lasting appreciation for Canada's war-time hospitality. Each year Ottawa hosts the Canadian Tulip Festival in celebration of this gift.

On 2 August 1945 Princess Juliana was reunited with her family on Dutch soil. Soon though, Prince Bernhard would become convinced that his children's manners had been thoroughly corrupted from their time in Canada. The manner in which the children would be raised was a matter of disagreement between Princess Juliana and her husband. She believed that the days of an aloof, near-isolated monarchy were over, and that the royal children should interact as much as possible with average citizens. Juliana immediately took part in a post-war relief operation for the people in the northern part of the Country, where the Nazi-caused famine (the famine winter of 1944–1945) and their continued torturing and murdering of the previous winter had claimed many victims. In the spring of 1946 Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard visited the Countries that had helped the Netherlands during the occupation.

She was very active as the president of the Dutch Red Cross and worked closely with the National Reconstruction organization. Her down to earth manner endeared her to her people so much that a majority of the Dutch people would soon want Queen Wilhelmina to abdicate in favour of her daughter.

During her pregnancy with her last child, Marijke Christina, Princess Juliana was infected with German measles (Rubella). The girl was born in 1947 with cataracts in both eyes and was soon diagnosed as almost totally blind in one eye and severely limited in the other. Despite her blindness, Christina, as she was called, was a happy and gifted child with a talent for languages and, something long missing in the Dutch Royal Family, an ear for music.

For several weeks in the autumn of 1947 and again in 1948 Princess Juliana acted as Regent when, for health reasons, Queen Wilhelmina was unable to perform her duties. The Independence in Indonesia, which saw more than 150,000 Dutch troops stationed there as decolonization force, was regarded as an economic disaster for the Netherlands. With the certain loss of the prized colony, the Queen announced her intention to abdicate.

Abdication of Queen Wilhelmina

On 6 September 1948, with the eyes of the world upon her, Princess Juliana, the twelfth member of the House of Orange to rule the Netherlands, was inaugurated Queen in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. On 27 December 1949 at Dam Palace in Amsterdam, Queen Juliana signed the papers that recognised Indonesian sovereignty over the former Dutch colony.

The Greet Hofmans affair

Over time, and with advances in medical technology, the eyesight of Princes Marijke improved such that with thick glasses, she could attend school and even ride a bicycle. However, before that happened, her mother, the Princess, clinging to any thread that offered some hope for a cure, came under the spell of Greet Hofmans, a faith healer with heterodox beliefs considered by many to be a sham. Her daughter's blindness and the increasing influence of Hofmans, who had moved into a royal palace, severely affected the Queen's marital relationship.

On the night of 31 January 1953, the Netherlands was hit by the most destructive storm in more than five hundred years. Thirty breaches of dunes and dikes occurred and many towns were swept away by twelve-foot tidal waves. More than two thousand people drowned and tens of thousands were trapped by the floodwaters. Dressed in boots and an old coat, Queen Juliana waded through water and slopped through deep mud all over the devastated areas to bring desperate people food and clothing. Showing compassion and concern, reassuring the people, her tireless efforts would permanently endear her to the citizens of the Netherlands.

Over the next few years, the controversy surrounding the faith healer, at first kept out of the Dutch media, erupted into a national debate over the competency of the Queen. The people of the Netherlands watched as their Queen often appeared in public dressed like any ordinary Dutch woman. Queen Juliana began riding a bicycle for exercise and fresh air. The Queen wanted to be addressed as "Mevrouw" (Dutch for "Madam") by her subjects.

Although the bicycle and the down-to-earth manners suggest a simple life style, the Dutch Royal court of the 1950s and 1960s was still a splendid affair with chamberlains in magnificent uniforms, gilded state coaches, visits to towns in open carriages and lavish entertaining in the huge palaces. At the same time the Queen began visiting the citizens of the nearby towns and, unannounced, would drop in on social institutions and schools. Her refreshingly straightforward manner and talk made her a powerful public speaker.

On the international stage, Queen Juliana was particularly interested in the problems of developing Countries, the refugee problem, and had a very special interest in child welfare, particularly in the developing Countries. The New York Times called her "an unpretentious woman of good sense and great goodwill."

In 1956, the influence of Miss Hofmans on Juliana's political views would almost bring down the House of Orange in a constitutional crisis that caused the court and the royal family to split in a Bernhard faction set on removing a Queen considered religiously fanatic and a threat to NATO, and the Queen's pious and pacifist courtiers. The Prime Minister resolved the crisis, Hofmans was banished from the court and Juliana's supporters were sacked or pensioned. Prince Bernhard planned to divorce his wife but decided against it when he, as he told an American journalist, "found out that the woman still loved him".

Marriages of her Daughters

In 1963 Queen Juliana faced another crisis among the Protestant part of her people when her daughter Irene secretly converted to Roman Catholicism and, without government approval, on 29 April 1964 married Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon, Duke of Parma, a claimant to the Spanish throne and also a leader in the Spain's Carlist party.

With memories of the Dutch struggle for independence from Roman Catholic Spain and fascist German oppression still fresh in the minds of the Dutch people, the events leading to the marriage were played out in all the newspapers and a storm of hostility erupted against the monarchy for allowing it to happen — a matter so serious, the Queen's abdication became a real possibility. She survived, however, thanks to the underlying devotion she had earned over the years.

But crisis, as a result of marriage, would come again with the announcement in July 1965 of the engagement of Princess Beatrix, heir to the throne, to a German diplomat, Claus von Amsberg. The future husband of the future Queen had been a member of the Nazi Wehrmacht and the Hitler Youth movement.

Many angry Dutch citizens demonstrated in the streets, and held rallies and marches against the "traitorous" affair. While this time upset citizens did not call for the Queen's abdication because the true object of their wrath, Princess Beatrix, would then be Queen, they did start to question the value of having a monarchy at all. After attempting to have the marriage cancelled, Queen Juliana acquiesced and the marriage took place under a continued storm of protest and an almost certain attitude pervaded the Country that Princess Beatrix might be the last member of the House of Orange to ever reign in the Netherlands.

Despite all these difficult matters, Queen Juliana's personal popularity suffered only temporarily. The Queen was noted for her courtesy and kindness.

An event in April 1967 brought an overnight revitalization of the Royal family, when the first male heir to the Dutch throne in 116 years, Willem-Alexander, was born to Princess Beatrix. This time the demonstrations in the street were ones of love and enthusiasm. This joyful occasion was helped along by an ever-improving Dutch economy.

The Lockheed affair

Scandal rocked the Royal family again in 1976 when it was revealed that Prince Bernhard had accepted a $1.1 million bribe from U.S. aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Corporation to influence the Dutch government's purchase of fighter aircraft. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands (Joop den Uyl) ordered an inquiry into the affair while Prince Bernhard refused to answer reporters' questions, stating: "I am above such things." Rather than calling on the Queen to abdicate, the Dutch people were this time fearful that their beloved Juliana might abdicate out of shame or because of a criminal prosecution conducted in her name against her consort.

On 26 August 1976 a censored and toned-down, but devastating report on Prince Bernhard's activities was released to a shocked Dutch public. The Prince resigned his various high profile positions as a Lieutenant Admiral, a General and an Inspector General of the Armed Forces. The Prince resigned from his positions in the board of many businesses, charities, the World Wildlife Fund and other institutions. The Prince also accepted that he would have to give up wearing his beloved uniforms. In return, the States-General accepted that there was to be no criminal prosecution.


On 30 April 1980, the day of her 71st birthday, Queen Juliana signed the Act of Abdication and her eldest daughter succeeded her as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Juliana remained active in numerous charitable causes until well into her eighties.

From the mid-1990s, Juliana's health declined and she also suffered the progressive onset of senility by Alzheimer's disease, although this was denied by the Royal Family. Juliana did not appear in public after that time. At the order of the Royal Family's doctors, Juliana was placed under 24-hour care.

Juliana died in her sleep on 20 March 2004, several weeks before her 95th birthday, at Soestdijk Palace in Baarn from complications of pneumonia, exactly 70 years after her grandmother Emma. She was embalmed (unlike her mother, who chose not to be) and on 30 March 2004 interred beside her mother, Wilhelmina, in the royal vaults under the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. Her husband Prince Bernhard died barely eight months after her, on 1 December 2004, aged 93 and his remains were placed next to hers.

Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard had four children :

  1. Beatrix Beatrix (born 31 January 1938), Queen of The Netherlands 1980, married 1966 Claus von Amsberg (b 1926) .
  2. Irene ((born 5 August 1939), renounced her rights, married 1964, divorced 1981, Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma (b 1930).
  3. Margrietss (born 19 January 1943) married 1967 Pietsser van Vollenhoven (b 1939).
  4. Maria Christina, "Marijke" before 1964, (born 18 February 1947), renounced her rights, married 1975, divorced 1996, Jorge Guillermo (b 1946).

Beatrix von Lippe-Biesterfeld, 1938-present, Queen of the Netherlands 1980-present, Titled "Princess of Orange-Nassau"

house-orange6Princess Beatrix  Wilhelmina Armgard of Orange-Nassau and of Lippe-Biesterfeld was born on 31 January 1938 at the Soestdijk Palace in Baarn as eldest daughter of Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands and Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld.

Beatrix became the heir presumptive to the throne of the Netherlands at the age of ten.

On 31 January 1956, Princess Beatrix celebrated her 18th birthday andbvunder the Constitution of the Netherlands, she was entitled to assume the Royal Prerogative and her mother installed her in the Council of State.

Her appearance on the political scene was almost immediately marked by controversy. In 1965, Princess Beatrix became engaged to the German aristocrat Claus von Amsberg, a diplomat working for the German Foreign Office. Their marriage caused a massive protest during the wedding day in Amsterdam on 10 March 1966. Prince Claus had served in the Hitler Youth and the Wehrmacht and was, therefore, associated by a part of the Dutch population with German Nazism. Protests included such memorable slogans as "Claus 'raus!" (Claus out!) and "Mijn fiets terug" (Give me back my bike), a reference to the memory of occupying German soldiers confiscating Dutch bicycles. A smoke bomb was thrown at the wedding carriage by a group of Provos causing a violent street battle with the police.


On 30 April 1980, Beatrix became Queen of the Netherlands when her mother abdicated. during this ceremony an even more violent riot occurred  during the investiture (sovereigns of the Netherlands are not crowned as such) of Queen Beatrix. Some people, including socialist squatters, used the occasion to protest against poor housing conditions in the Netherlands and against the monarchy in general, using the also memorable slogan "Geen woning; geen Kroning" (No house; no coronation). Clashes with the police and security forces turned brutal and violent.

The Queen signs official documents "Beatrix" and is addressed as "Your Majesty" (Dutch: "Uwe Majesteit"). Unlike her mother, Queen Juliana, who frowned upon this title, Queen Beatrix re-introduced the Royal Style of Majesty, like her grandmother Wilhelmina) when addressing her.

As Queen, Beatrix wields more power than most of Europe’s other reigning monarchs. In domestic matters, she has little political say, however, in international relations, the Queen has much more latitude. Queen Beatrix is, as her father Prince Bernard was, a member of the Bilderberg Group and an honorary member of the Club of Rome. In 1994, the minister of Foreign Affairs conveyed in Parliament that a Dutch embassy in Jordan had been opened at her request.

As time went on, however, Prince Claus became one of the most popular members of the Dutch monarchy and his death, after a long illness, on 6 October 2002 was widely mourned, her mother died after a long battle with senile dementia on 20 March 2004, while her father succumbed to cancer in December 2004.

Beatrix is rarely quoted directly in the press, since the government information service (Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst) makes it a condition of interviews that she may not be quoted. This policy was introduced shortly after her inauguration, reportedly to protect her from political complications that may arise from "off-the-cuff" remarks. It does not apply to her son Prince Willem-Alexander.

On 30 April 2009 the Queen and the royal family were targeted in an attack by a man called Karst Tates. Tates crashed his car into a parade in Apeldoorn, narrowly missing a bus carrying the Queen. Five people were killed initially and two victims and the assailant Tates died later. Other victims of the crash are in a critical life threatening situation. One week after the attack another victim had succumbed to sustained injuries. The royal party were unharmed, but The Queen and members of her family saw the crash at close range and were visibly shaken. It is thought to be the first physical attack on Dutch royalty in modern times.


On 30 April 2013, Queen Beatrix signed the Act of Abdication and her eldest son succeeded her as King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

The Queen and her late husband, Prince Claus, have three son :

  1. Prince Willem-Alexander, born 27 April 1967 Heir-apparent, styled as the Prince of Orange; married to Máxima Zorreguietssa, daughter of Jorge Horacio Zorreguietssa (1928) and Maria del Carmen Cerruti (1944) since 2002, has issue (three daughters)
  2. Prince Friso, born 25 September 1968 married to Mabel Wisse Smit since 2004 (without authorisation from the Dutch Parliament, causing him to lose his right to the Dutch throne) and has issue (two daughters, who are not Princesses of the Netherlands), living in London.
  3. Prince Constantijn, born 11 October 1969 married to Laurentien Brinkhorst, daughter of the politician Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst (1937) and Jantien Heringa (1935). since 2001 and has issue (two daughters and one son).

Willem Alexander von Amsberg, 1967-present, King Willem-Alexander 2013, Titled "Prince of Orange-Nassau"

prins-willem-alexanderWillem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand, born 27 April 1967 is the eldest son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Prince Claus.maxima Since 1980 heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He was in military service and he studied history at Leiden University. He is currently interested in international water management issues and sports.

In January 2013 Queen Beatrix announced her Abdication on April, 30 in favor of her eldest son Willem-Alexander.

Wth the abdication of Queen Beatrix Willem-Alexander became King of the Netherlands and at the same day Maxima became Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

The fact that Maxima is Queen now is in contradiction with the "Salic Low" because she is not of royal bloodline.

Although she has grown to a usefull representative for The Netherlands she is still a normal but intelligent girl from Argentina.

He married (February, 2, 2002) Máxima Zorreguieta (1971). They have three children :

  1. Princess Catharina-Amalia, born 2003
  2. Princess Alexia, born 2005
  3. Princess Ariane, born 2007

The new King of the Netherlands, April, 30, 2013

koning met koningsmantel en koningin maxima 

Kings and Queens of the Netherlands

French House of Bonaparte
Name Rule time Remarks
Louis Napoléon Bonaparte 1806-1810  
House of Nassau-Dietz
Name Rule time Remarks
King William I 1815-1840 Duke and Grand Duke of Luxemburg and Duke of Limburg
King William II 1840-1849 Grand Duke of Luxemburg and Duke of Limburg
King William III 1849-1890 Grand Duke of Luxemburg and Duke of Limburg

Following German laws, the House of Nassau-Dietz is extinct since the death of Wilhelmina (1962), contradictory to Dutch laws.

House of Nassau-Dietz / Waldeck-Pyrmont
Name Rule time Remarks
Queen Wilhelmina 1890-1948  
To the house of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Name Rule time Remarks
Queen Juliana 1948-1980  
To the house of Lippe-Biesterfeld
House of Lippe-Biesterfeld
Name Rule time Remarks
Queen Beatrix 1980-2013  
To the house of von Amsberg
House of von Amsberg
Name Rule time Remarks
William-Alexander  2013  
Catharina-Amalia   future Queen
The house of ?

Appeal to end this Monarchy

After 450 years of Stadtholders (War-Lords) and family mixing of several "Heirs" of "noble" families and finally 3 generations of Queens since 1890, there is nothing left of the Orange-Nassau "blood" that once existed in the Lowlands and Germany in the 16th to 18th century.

The present King Willem-Alexanderis in bloodline as far from "William of Orange-Nassau" as Alpha from Omega in the alphabet. Why The Netherlands is still a Kingdom I don't understand. Do You ?.

The title "Prince of Orange" is from 1702 on only a "folklore" title and has noting to do with the Orange region in France of which is was derived. Another point is that the original family, of which the title is taken from, already became extinct with the death of William III in 1702.

At present time it's impossible that children take over the titles of their father, even when he was graduated Dr., Drs., Ir., Mr., PhD or whatever, his offspring can't take over his titles after his dead but for a strange reason it is the case with the present Dutch Royal family. Only within Nobility it's usual to hand over titles to their offspring but than only in de Male line.

In accordance to the "Salic Law" the family-line cannot continue through the Female line. Why this "Salic Law" is set-apart regarding the Dutch Royal family can only be explained when the people of The Netherlands likes fairy-tails. And they still do, even in the 21st century, 311 years after the real house of Orange-Nassau has been extinct.

The madness still goes on

Prince William Alexander, the future King William IV, is married (Febr, 2 2002) with a "not noble" but charming girl, Maxima from Argentina, nevertheless the majority of the common, mostly religious, Dutch people like to continue with this fairy-tail. In that case Maxima have to be ennobled to become Queen of the Netherlands but the politicians found a way to made her Queen in, only in title.

Its ridicules and not of this era to continue succession because of birth in a "former" noble family who are only in name descendents of the German Nassau family. Last but not least ALL the children of Beatrix are married with woman of non-noble origin, Maxima is titled Queen, she is, a nice, but normal woman of Argentine origin.

THIS FOLKLORE MUST END, why continue this fairy-tail to eternity ??.

I am not a practicing Republican yet but I will be one when Queen Beatrix is not the last, it should come to an end because every fairy-tail ends once. Why not make Beatrix or her son Alexander President of The Netherlands with, as it is usual, democratic elections, maybe she or he will get my vote when there is no better candidate.


The End

The house of Nassau-Dietz 1606-1795

The House of Nassau

Coat of Arms of the Counts of Laurenburg and Nassau

Coat of Arms of the Counts of Nassau 13th century

For further reading : Lines colored in :

ORANGE = line from William I "the Silent" to William III, 1544 - 1702, straight Male succession.

YELLOW = line from Johan William Friso to King William III of the Netherlands, 1702 - 1890, straight Male succession.

PINK= line from Queen Wilhelmina to Queen Beatrix, 1890 - present, Female succession.

The House of Nassau-Dietz

Part 1

After the dead of John VI "the Elder" his possessions were divided between his five sons :

  1. Nassau-Dillenburg under William-Louis, extinct in 1620.
  2. Nassau-Siegen under John VII "the Middle", extinct in 1734.
  3. Nassau-Beilstein under George "the Old", after 1620 at Dillenburg, extinct in 1739.
  4. Nassau-Dietz under Ernst Casimir, after 1702 called Orange-Nassau, extinct in 1890.
  5. Nassau-Hadamar under John Louis, extinct in 1711.

After 1743 all possessions were reunited under the name Orange-Nassau, though the emperial administration use the name Nassau-Dillenburg in the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss par.12, from 1803, to differentiate from the Walramian Nassau-Weiburg branch.

1. Nassau-Dillenburg 1606-1620

William Louis 1560-1620, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg 1606-1620, Stadtholder of Frisia 1584, Drenthe 1593 and Groningen 1594

William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg (Dutch: Willem Lodewijk; West Frisia: Willem Lodewyk) (March 13, 1560, Dillenurg, Hesse – July 13, 1620, Leeuwarden, Netherlands) was Cout of Nssau-Dillenburg from 1606-1620, and Stadtholder of Frieslad, Grningen, and Drenthe. He was the eldest son of Jhn VI, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. William Louis served as a cavalry officer under William the Silent. Together with his cousin (and brother-in-law) Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, he helped plan the military strategy of The Netherlands against Spain from 1588-1609. On November 25, 1587, he married his cousin, Anna f Nassau, daughter of William the Silent and Anna of Saxony, and older sister of Maurice of Nassau. Anna died less than six months later on June 13, 1588, and William Louis never remarried. He was nicknamed "Us Heit" (West Frisian for "our father"). He died in Leeuwarden, the city which honored him with a stattue on the Gouvernment square. His body was laid to rest in the Jacobijnerkerk in Leeuwarden.

Counts of Nassau-Dillenburg 1606-1620
Name Rule time Remarks
William Louis "us heit" 1606-1620 Eldest son of John VI "the Elder"

2. Nassau-Siegen 1606-1734

The branch of Nassau-Siegen was a collateral line of the House of Nassau, and ruled in Siegen. The first Count of Nassau-Siegen was Count Henry ofNassau-Siegen (d. 1343), the elder son of Count Otto I of Nassau. His son Count Otto II of Nassau ruled also in Dillenburg.

In 1606 the House was separated from the House of Nassau-Dillenburg. After the main line of the House became extinct in 1734 with the dead of Frederick William, Emperor Charles VI (1685-1740) transferred the County to the House of Orange-Nassau.

Counts of Nassau-Siegen 1606-1734
Name Rule time Remarks
John I "the Middle" 1606-1611 John VII, son of John VI "the Elder"
George "the Old" 1611-1623 Son of John VII "the Elder", from 1620 also Count of Nassau-Dillenburg
John II 1623-1638 Son of John I
George Frederick 1638-1674 Son of John II
John Maurice 1674-1679 Prince, Son of John II, Governor of brazilian capitany of Pernambuco (1637-1644), founder of the Mauritshuis at The Haque
William Maurice 1679-1691 Son of George Frederick
John Francis Desideratus 1691-1699 Catholic branch
William Hyacinth 1699-1707 Catholic branch
Frederick William I Adolf 1707-1722 Protestant branch, son of William Maurice
Frederick William II 1722-1734 Protestant branch, son of William Maurice

3. Nassau-Beilstein 1620-1739

Counts of Nassau-Beilstein 1620-1739
Name Rule time Remarks
George "the Old" 1620-1623 son of John VI "the Elder", also Count of Nassau-Dilenburg (1611-1623)
Louis Henry 1623-1662 Prince from 1652
Henry 1662-1701  
William 1701-1724  
Christian 1724-1739  

The House of Nassau-Dietz 1702 - 1795 and 1815 - 1890

Ernst Casimir 1573-1632, Count of Nassau-Dietz 1606-1632, Stadtholder of Frisia, Groningen and Drenthe 1620-1632

Ernst Casimir van NassauErnst Casimir was born 22 December 1573. He was the eleventh child of John VI "the Elder", Count of Nassau-Dillenburg and Elisabeth of Leuchtenberg. After the death of his father in 1606, the County of Nassau was divided among his five living sons, Ernst Casimir followed him as Count of Nassau-Dietz.

Ernst Casimir was primarily known as an outstanding military leader during the Eighty Years War. He served under Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange in the siege of the cities of Steenwijk and Oldenzaal, and from 1625 under Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange during the Siege of Groenlo (1627) and the Siege of 's-Hertogenbosch. As Stadtholder of Groningen he founded the Nieuweschans fortress in 1628. Although he owned little in Friesland, he was popular there, and people granted his heir the right to rule after his death.

He was killed by a bullet at the Siege of Roermond while he was inspecting the trenches in June, 2 1632. His son, Hendry Casimir I succeeded him as Count of Nassau-Dietz and as Stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe.

In 1607 Ernst Casimir married Sophia Hedwig of Brunswick-Lüneburg, daughter of Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. From this marriage nine children were born :

  1. stillborn daughter (1608)
  2. stillborn son (1609)
  3. unnamed son (1610)
  4. Henry Casimir I of Nassau-Dietz (1612-1640)
  5. Wiliam Frederick of Nassau-Detz (1613-1664), married 1652 Albertine-Agnes of Orange-Nassau
  6. Elisabeth (July 25, 1614 - 18 Sept, 1614)
  7. Johan Ernst (March 29, 1617 - May 1617)
  8. Maurice (February 21, 1619 - 18 Sept, 1628)
  9. Elisabeth Friso (25 Nov, 1620 - 20 September 1628)

Henry Casimir I of Nassau-Dietz (1612-1640), Count of Nassau-Dietz, Stadtholder of Frisia, Groningen and Drenthe 1632-1640

Hendrik Casimir I van NassauHenry Casimir I of Nassau-Dietz (Arnhem, 21 January 1612 – Hulst, 13 July 1640) was count of Nassau-Dietz and Stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe.He was the eldest son of Ernst Casimir of Nassau-Dietz and Sophia Hedwig of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and like his father, died in battle. On July 12, 1640, he was wounded in Sint Jansteen at the battle of Hulst. He died the next day. Hendrik Casimir is buried in Leeuwarden, and was succeeded in his titles by William Frederick, Prince of Nassau-Dietz. His death at age 28 caused a series of memorials to his name and the battle in which he died.

The Rijksmuseum keeps a blood-stained shirt in the collection supposedly worn by him when he was wounded. Similarly, the bullet hole in his father's hat is also kept there for posterity.

William Frederick 1613-1664, Count of Nassau-Dietz, Stadtholder of Frisia 1640-1664, Groningen and Drenthe 1650-1664, Imperial Prince of Dietz from 1654

Willem Frederik van NassauWilliam Frederick was born August 7, 1613. He was the second son of Ernst Casimir of Nassau-Dietz andSophie Hedwig of Braunschweig-Lüneburg. He married Albertine Agnes of Orange-Nassau the fifth daughter of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange on May 2, 1652.

The fact that his wife was only the fifth daughter of Prince of Orange Frederick Henry, and that they were married after the death of her father in 1647, would later take on a special significance in the quarrel about the inheritance of the possessions of Orange-Nassau, after the death of William III of England in 1702 (see the story by John William Friso).

William Frederik had a complicated dynastic past, he was a descendant of John VI "the Elder", Count of Nassau-Dillenburg a younger brother of his wife's ancestor William I "the Silent" of Orange. When John VI died in 1606 his inheritance was divided among his five sons, one of which was the father of William Frederick, Ernst Casimir, who received the title of Count of Nassau-Dietz. This title was first inherited by William Frederick's elder brother Henry Casimir I of Nassau-Dietz (1612-1640), who followed his own elder brother William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg (1560-1620) as Stadtholder of Frisia, Groningen and Drenthe in 1620.

As a second son, William Frederick did not seem destined for the career he eventually would follow. He studied at Leiden University and the University of Groningen and subsequently took a commission in the army of the Dutch Republic, like his male ancestors and his brother. As such he was a junior partner of his future father in law and brother in law William II, Prince of Orange. However, his elder brother, Henry Casimir I, died in action near Hulst in 1640.

As Henry Casimir was unmarried, and did not have children, William Frederick inherited his titles. However, as the office of Stadtholder was not yet hereditary, he only managed to be appointed in Frisia. The Stadtholder ship in Groningen and Drenthe went to his uncle Frederick Henry of Orange-Nassau, not without a struggle with William Frederick.

After Frederick Henry's death in 1647 William II of Orange-Nassau succeeded his father also in these two provinces as Stadtholder . When William II suddenly died in 1650, just a week before his son William III of Orange-Nassau was born, William Frederick obtained the Stadtholder ship in the other two provinces also.

At that time he might have obtained the Stadtholder ship in the five other provinces (Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel) also. After all, the Stadtholder ate was an appointive office. The elder branch of the Nassau family might have "first claim" to the office, but as the "claimant" was a newborn babe, such a claim was not to be taken seriously. Yet, to avoid a quarrel with the members of that elder branch (William II's widow Albertine Agnes of Orange-Nassau and mother Amalia of Solms-Braunfels)

William Frederick did not press his personal claim, but offered to serve as lieutenant-Stadtholder in the five provinces until the infant William III would come of age. He might have been taken up on that offer, except for the events that preceded the death of William II.

William II had performed a military coup d'état against the States of Holland in the course of a quarrel about military policy. William Frederick had played a key role in that coup by leading the attempt to seize the city of Amsterdam by force in August, 1650 (see the whole story by the life story of William II). Because of his role in the coup William Frederick was politically unacceptable, not just as a stand-in for William III, but also on his own account.

After William's demise, in November of the same year, the Holland Regents seized their chance to revert to the status quo ante. They decided to leave the Stadtholder shp vacant in their province, followed by the four other provinces in which William had been Stadtholder , thus inaugurating the First Stadtholder less Period from 1650 to 1672.

The office of Stadtholder was a provincial office. On the federal level William II had fulfilled the office of Captain general of the Union, like his father and uncle before him. William Frederik again would normally have been in line for this office (after all, he was a Stadtholder in his own right), except for the same political awkwardness that blocked his appointment to Stadtholder in Holland.

Again he offered himself as lieutenant-captain-general (the function the English Duke of Marlborough would fulfill after 1702, see the story by the life story of John William Friso), but again the Regents decided to leave the function vacant. William Frederick did not even get the function of acting commander-in-chief (Field Marshal), which went to a Holland noble.

This was to be the story o Willem Frederik's life. He tried to act as the de facto head of the Orangist party, in opposition to the States Party faction of Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt and his uncle Cornelis de Graeff, but was usually outwitted and checked by De Witt at every step.

The fact that the members of the senior branch of the family were suspicious of his ambitions made his position even more difficult, even after he married into that senior branch. Nevertheless, outside the Netherlands those ambitions met with more success. In 1654 his title of Count was "upgraded" to Imperial Prince (Reichsfuerst) by the Holy Roman Emperor. Within the Empire this provided him with more prestige, which however did not translate to more prestige in the Republic.

For a while, in the late 1650s, there seemed to be a chance of becoming Commander-in-chief, as part of a politican compromise, brought together by De Witt, but nothing came of it. Only during the invasion of Bernhard von Galen during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, which threatened his home provinces of Groningen and Friesland (Drenthe was overrun), was he entrusted with a command in the field.

He was successful in the re-conquest of a strategic fortress (the Deilerschans), but shortly afterward he died on October 31, 166 in an accident with a pistol that fired unexpectedly. Before his death he had persuaded the States of Friesland that his son Henry Casimir II (only 7 years old in 1664) should succeed him as Stadtholder . The States kept their word, accepting a "regency" of the young boy's mother. The Frisian Stadtholder ate was made hereditary in 1675. With his wife Albertine Agnes he had three children:

  1. Amalia of Nassau-Dietz, 1655-1695, married in 1690 to John William of Saxe-Eienach (1666-1729)
  2. Henry Casimir II, 1657-1696, Count of Nassau-Dietz, married to Henriëtte Amalia of Anhalt-Dessau
  3. Wilhelmina Sophia Hedwig (1664–1667)

Henry Casimir II 1657-1696, Prince of Nassau-Dietz and Stadtholder of Frisia and Groningen 1664-1696

Henry Casimir II was born 18 January 1657. He was the eldest son of William Frederick of Nassau-Dietz and Albertine Agnes of Orange-Nassau.

He was only 7 years old when he succeeded his father in 1664, under the guardianship of his mother Albertine Agnes of Orange-Nassau until his 18th birthday, as Stadtholder of Frisia and Groningen. In 1675 the State of Frisia voted to make the Stadtholder ship hereditary in the house of Nassau-Dietz. Henry Casimir II was therefore the first Frisian Stadtholder.

He married in 1683 to his cousin Henriëtte Amalia van Anhalt-Dessau (1666-1726), daughter of John George II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau and Henriëtte Catharina of Orange-Nassau (1637-1708(, daughter of Frederick-Henry of Orange-Nassau (1584-1647) and the granddaughter of William I "the Silent" of Orange (1533-1584).

When Henry Casimir died on March, 25 1696, Henrietsste Amaila became regent for their son, John William Friso, who succeeded to his father's titles. Henry Casimir II and Henriëtte Amalia had nine children :

  1. William George Friso, 1685–1686
  2. John William Friso, 1687–1711
  3. Henriëtte Albertine, 1686–1754
  4. Maria Amalia, 1689–1771
  5. Sophia Hedwig, 1690–1734, married Duke Karl Leopold von Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1678–1747)
  6. Isabella Charlotte, 1692–1757, married Christian of Nassau-Beilstein (1688–1739) they had no children
  7. Johanna Agnes, 1693–1765
  8. Louise Leopoldina, 1695–1758
  9. Henriëtte Casimira, 1696–1738

John William Friso 1687-1711, Prince of Nassau-Dietz and Stadtholder of Frisia and Groningen 16961711, Titled "Prince of Orange-Nassau" 1702-1711

Johan Willem FrisoJohn William Friso was born on August, 4 1687.  He was the son of Prince Henry Casimir II of Nassau-Dietz and Henriëtte Amalia van Anhalt-Dessau. He became one of the compotators for the title "Prince of Orange" through the testamentary dispositions of William III and became the progenitor of the new line of the House of Orange-Nassau in 1702.

"Fight" for succession of the Orange-Nassau possessions

With the death of William III, Prince of Orange, in 1702 the legitimate direct male line of William the Silent (House of Orange) became extinct.

Competitors of William III's possessions

William III's grantfather, Frederick Henry, had made a provision in his will that if his male line would die out (which was the case with William III in 1702) the title of Prince of Orange would be inherited by the male issue of the line of his elder daughter Louise Henrietsste of Nassau (1627-1667).

This might even have been the case were it not that William III of Orange himself had willed the inheritance to a descendant of William Frederick.

The inheritance therefore came down to a clash of Wills, with he outcome that both claimants, Johan William Friso and King Frederick I of Prussia (son of Louise Henrietsste of Orange-Nassau), eventually took the title "Prince of Orange" in 1702 and divided the material inheritance.

1. Senior descendent in the Male line

John William Friso, the senior descendant in the male line from William the Silent's brother and a descendant in the female line from Frederick Henry, grandfather of Wiliam III. Under William III's will, Friso stood to inherit the Principality of Orange and claimed the title "Prince of Orange" and Stadtholder in all provinces held by William III. This was denied to him by the republican faction in the Netherlands. The five provinces over which William III ruled — Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overjssel — all suspended the office of Stadtholder after William III's death. The remaining two provinces — Friesland and Groningen — were never governed by William III, and continued to retain a separate Stadtholder , John William Friso. His son William IV, Prince of Orange, however, later became Stadtholder of all seven provinces after the second Stadtholder less period in the Republic in 1747.

2. Senior descendent in the Female line

King Frederick I of Prussia (1657-1713), son of  Louise Henrietsste of Orange-Nassau (1627-1667), eldest daughter of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange (1584-1647) and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels (1602-1675), William III's most senior heir in the female line also claimed part of the inheritance and the Princedom of Orange (France) and Lingen (Lower-Saxony) as well as the title "Prince of Orange".

After William III's dead the Princedom of Orange in France was annexed by King Louis XIV in 1702, a decade later the annexation was legalized by the treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

There is an old Dutch saying that states : "Als twee honden vechten om een been dan gaat de derde er mee heen" (When two dogs are fighting for a bone than the third will go with it)

The quarrel finally came to an end in 1713 after the dead of both competitors, Prince John William Friso of Nassau-Dietz died in 1711 and King Frederick I of Prussia died in 1713.

Failure as General of the Dutch troops

When grown to mans estate John William Friso became General of the Dutch troops and at first turned out to be a competent officer. His prestige could have favored his eventual election as a Stadtholder in the 5 other provinces (Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Drenthe), however John Willeia Friso, as general, took part in the War of Spanish Succession at the Battle of Malplaquet (Belgium) on September 11, 170, during this campaign a misunderstanding arose between him and the British commander, the Duke of Marlborough, and because of that many thousands of Dutch soldiers lot their lives in this bloody battle, nevertheless the battle was still decided in favor of the Allies.

This unnecessary loss of so many lives under the responsibility of a Stadtholder was a strong argument for the States of Holland and the other Provinces to suspend the office of Stadtholder .

In July 1711, when traveling from the Belgian front to The Hague in connection with the law suit about the Principality of Orange, in his haste he insisted in crossing the Hollands Diep, near Dordrecht, during a heavy thunder-storm on July ,14 the ferry boat sank and John William Friso and others drowned.

On April 26, 1709, he married Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel (1688-1765), daughter of Charles I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) and granddaughter of Jacob Kettler, Duke of Courland. They had two children :

  1. Anna Charlotte Amalia, 1710-1777, married in 1727 to Prince Friedrich of Baden-Durlach, 1703-1732)
  2. William IV Karel Hendrik Friso, 1711-1751, born six weeks after his fathers death, married in 1734 to Anne, Princess Royal of Great Britain (1709-1759)

John William Friso holds the position of being the most recent common ancestor to all currently reigning European royal families. He is regarded to have established the 2nd House of Orange, which continues today in person of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.


4. Nassau-Dietz

Name Rule time Remarks
Ernst Casimir 1606-1632  
Henry Casimir I 1632-1640  
William Frederick 1640-1664 Prince of Nassau-Dietz from 1654
Henry Casimir II 1664-1696 Prince of Nassau-Dietz
John William Friso 1696–1702 Prince of Nassau-Dietz (after 1702, Titled Prince of Orange)
To the house "titled" Orange-Nassau

5. Nassau-Hademar 1620-1711

Name Rule time Remarks
John Louis 1620-1653 Prince 1650
Maurice Henry 1653-1679  
Frans Alexander 1679-1711  

Second Stadtholderless period 1711-1747

The second period in the United Provinces without Stadtholder 1711-1747 because William IV was too young, he was born a few weeks after his father drowned near Dordrecht.

In this period the 7 United Provinces of Holland were expanded with 4 other provinces, Friesland (Frisia), Groningen, Brabant and Limburg. After this expansion Holland was called he Netherlands from 1747. The Stadtholderate of all provinces were abolished and replaced by the General Stadtholder of The Netherlands.

William IV, 1711-1751, Titled "Prince of Orange-Nassau", Baron of Breda, Stadtholder of Frsia 1711-1747 (under guardianship of his mother), Stadtholder of Guelders 1722-1747, Stadtholder of Groningen 1731-1747, General Stadtholder of the United Provinces (The Netherlands) 1747-1751

William IV (Willem Karel Hendrik Friso) was born on 1 September 1711 in Leeuwarden, son of Johan Willem Friso, head of the Frisian branch of the House of Nassau-Dietz, and of his wife Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel). He was born six weeks after the death of his father.

On 25 March 1734 he married at St. James' Palace Anne, Princess Royal (1709-1759), eldest daughter of King George II (1683-1760) of Great Britain and Queen Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737. In 1739 William inherited the estates formerly owned by the Nassau-Dillenburg branch of his family (extinct), and in 1743 he inherited those formerly owned by the Nassau-Siegen branch of his family (extinct).

In April 1747 the French army entered Flanders and in May occupid several towns in Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland. On Juli, 2 the battle of Lauffeld (part of the was of the Austrian succession) took place and the French took Maastricht. After negotiotions with the French peace was made in April 1748 by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and France withdrew from the Netherlands.

William met Ludwig Ernst von Brunswick-Lüneburg-Bevern (1718-1788), a field-marshal in the armies of the Holy Roman Empire, during the batlle of Laffeld in 1747, and 2 years later appointed him as field marshal in the Dutch army, which later led to his being one of the regents to William's son William V, from 1759-1766.

In effort to quell internal strife amongst the various factions, the States-General of the Netherlands appointed William IV to the hereditary position of Hereditary General Stadtholder of all seven of the United Provinces on 4 May 1747, within one year all other provinces followed and the Stadtholderate was abolished. William IV, after being appointed as General Stadtholder, moved from Leeuwarden to The Hague.  Although he had little experience in state affairs, William was at first popular with the people.

He stopped the practice of indirect taxation by which independent contractors managed to make large sums for themselves. Nevertheless, he was also a Director-General of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and his alliance with the business class deeped while the disparity between rich and poor grew.

William served as General Stadtholder of all the Netherlands until his death on 22 October 1751 at The Hague. William and Anne had five children:

  1. a stillborn daughter, born December 19, 1736
  2. a stillborn daughter, born December 22, 1739
  3. Carolina, February 28, 1743 - May 6, 1787, married Karl Christian of Nassau-Weilburg
  4. Anna, 15 November 1746 - 29 December 1746
  5. Wlliam V, 1748-1806

Willem V Batavus, 1748-1806, Titled "Prince of Orange-Nassau", Stadtholder of The Netherlands 1766-1795 (deposed)

William VWilliam V Batavus was born in 1748, only son of William IV and Anne. He was only 3 years old when his father died in 1751. His regents were, Anne, his mother, from 1751 to her death in 1759, Marie Louise, his grandmother from 1759 to her death in 1765 and Duke Ludwig Ernst von Brunswick-Lüneburg-Bevern, from 1759 to 1766, and kept on as a privy counselor until October 1784, Carolina, his sister (who at the time was an adult aged 22, while he was still a minor at 17), from 1765 to William's majority in 1766. William V assumed the position of Stadtholder (chief executive and military commander) in 1766.

On 4 October 1767 in Berlin, Prince William married Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia, the daughter of the Duke of Brunswick, niece of King Frederick the Great of Prussia and a cousin of King George III of Great-Britain.

War of independence in America 1775-1783

The position of the Dutch during the American Revolution was one of neutrality though they unofficially sympathized with the wish of the Americas being independent from England, but William V, leading the pro-English faction within the government, blocked attempts by pro-revolutionary, and pro-French, elements to recognize the Americas as an independent state.

More importantly, Dutch merchants, especially from Amsterdam soon after the start of the American Revolution became involved in the supply of the Rebels with arms and munitions. This trade was mainly conducted via the entrepôt in the Caribbean colony of the Dutch West India Company (WIC), the island of St. Eustatius. There American colonial wares, like tobacco and indigo, were imported (in contravention of the British Navigation Acts) and re-exported to Europe. For their return cargo the Americans used arms, munitions, and naval stores brought on by Dutch and French merchants.

To add insult to injury, in 1776 the governor of St. Eustatius, Johannes de Graeff, was the first to salute the Flag of the United States, leading to growing British suspicions of the Dutch.

In 1778 the Dutch refused to be bullied into taking Britain's side in the war against France. The British invoked a number of old treaties (1678, 1689, 1716) to have the Republic support them militarily, but as in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) the Dutch government refused.

Things came to a head with the Dutch attempt to join the Russian League of Armed Neutrality (Empress Catherine II of Russia began the first League with her declaration of Russian armed neutrality on 11 March 1780, during the War of American Independence, she endorsed the right of neutral Countries to trade by sea with nationalsof belligerent Countries without hindrance, except in weapons and military supplies), in 1780 leading to the outbreak of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784).

After the French and Spanish entry into the War of the American Revolution the Amsterdam merchants also became heavily involved in the trade in naval stores with France. The French needed those supplies for their naval construction, but were prevented from obtaining those themselves, due to the blockade of the Royal Navy (France being the weaker naval power in the conflict). The Dutch were privileged by a concession obtained after their victory in the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667, because England tried to end the Dutch domination of world trade, the war ended in a Dutch victory), known as the principle of "free ship, free goods" which was enshrined in the Anglo-Dutch Commercial Treaty of 1668 (reconfirmed in the Treaty of Westminster of 1674).

Although the Dutch Republic did not enter into a formal alliance with the United States and their allies, U.S. ambassador (and future President) John Adams (1735-1826) managed to establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic, making it the second European Country to diplomatically recognize the Continental Congress in April, 1782. In October, 1782, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded as well.

The United Provinces recognized the United States in February 1782, after much political debate and pressure from American and French diplomats. Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol (1741-1784), (a member of the Patriots and inspired by the American Revolution, he wrote the noted pamphlet "To the People of the Netherlands" (in Dutch: "Aan het Volk van Nederland"), in which reclaimed a more liberal societssy and the end of the Stadtholder regime, which had been marked by corruption and nepotism. He was also an ardent supporter in the legal recognition of the recently created United States of America) and Court Lambertus van Beyma (1753-1820) took the initiative.

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch war 1780-1783

Initially the British considered the Dutch allies in their attempt to stamp out the rebellion in their American colonies. They attempted to "borrow" the mercenary Scotch Brigade of the Dutch States Army for use in the Americas. However, this was strongly opposed by the sympathizers of the American Revolution, led by baron Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, who managed to convince the States-General to refuse the British request. When the Dutch refused to ally against the Americas, England declared war to the Netherlands.

The war proved a disaster for the Netherlands, particularly economically. It also proved to be confirmation of the weakening of Dutch power in the eighteenth century. After the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the impoverished nation grew restless under William's rule.

The Patriots

In the immediate aftermath of the war the bad result was blamed on the mismanagement (if not worse) by the Stadtholder by his opponents who coalesced into the Patriot party. These managed for a while to roll back a number of the reforms of the revolution of 1747, strongly diminishing his powers and was challenging his authority more and more.

The Patriots struggled for the removal of Stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange. Discontented with the hereditary system of allocating posts, the decline of Dutch East India Company Asian trade, unemployment in the textile industry, the course of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War and - last but not least - desiring more democracy, the middle and upper classes looked towards the United States and its Declaration of Independence and the Dutch Act of Abjuration (July 26, 1581, was the formal declaration of independence of the Dutch Low Countries from the Spanish king, Philip II) and began to reclaim their rights (first written down in the 1579 Union of Utrecht).

The lower classes largely remained supportive of the existing regime. They formed militia or paramilitary groups like the Exercitiegenootschappen (an armed private organization with a democratically chosen administration), who tried to persuade the prince and city governments to allow non-Calvinists into the vroedschap. The aristocrats were divided, into Orangists, republicans and democrats, and from summer 1785 more and more republicans backed the prince. The prince was unwilling to carry out reforms, yet unable to take necessary decisions.

From 1780 to 1787, Dordrecht was home to the Patriots faction which intended to remove the hereditary Stadtholder position held by the House of Orange-Nassau. The Netherlands was after all a republic. The first exercitiegenootschappen were set up in the beginning of 1783 in Deventer, Dordrecht and Utrecht. Soon after, more cities followed and in 1785 William V fled from the Hague and removed his court to Guelders, a province remote from the political centre.

In the city of Utrecht the Orangist members of the government were sent home by the local militia under Quint Ondaatje, a burgher from Colombo. In September 1786 William V had to send an army to stop Herman Willem Daendels (1762-1818) to get a seat in the local government, when state troops occupied the small city of Hattem.

In June 1787 his energetic wife Wilhelmina tried to travel to the Hague. Outside Schoonhoven, she was stopped by militia, taken to a farm near Goejanverwellesluis and within two days made to return to Nijmegen. To Wilhelmina and her brother, King Frederick William II of Prussia, this was an insult. Frederick, came to Holland to the aid of William V and on 18 September 1787, Dordrecht capitulated to Prussian troops. The Patriots were defeated and Willem V was restored in his position as Stadtholder.

Many patriots fled to the North of France, around Saint-Omer, in an area where Dutch was spoken. Until his overthrow they were supported by King Louis XVI of France. In the Dutch Republic five leaders were sentenced to death and, although none of these sentences were carried through, all five were forced to leave the Netherlands. In 1789, two radical leaders Francis Adrian Vanderkemp and Adam Gerard Mappa moved to the USA at the invitation of George Washington.

The year 1795 was a disastrous one for the ancient régime of the Netherlands. Supported by the French Army, the revolutionaries returned from Paris to fight in the Netherlands, and in 1795 William V fled to the safety of England. A few days later the Fall of Amsterdam occurred, and the Dutch Republic was abolished by the victorious French.  The Low Countries remained central to British strategic thinking, and they would send expeditionary forces to the Netherlands in 1793, 1799 and 1809.

William V, as the last Dutch Stadtholder, died in exile at Brunswick, now in Germany and was buried there. 150 years later his body was moved to the Dutch Royal Family crypt in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft on April 29, 1958. William V and Wilhelmina of Prussia had five children:

  1. Ununnamed son, 23 March - 24 March 1769
  2. Frederika Luise Wilhelmina, 28 November 1770 - 15 October 1819, married 14 October 1790 Karl, Hereditary Prince of Braunschweig (8 February 1766 - 20 September 1806), son of Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Bunswick-Luneburg and Princess Augusta of Great Britain
  3. Unnamed son, born 6 August 1771
  4. William VI (Willem Frederick), 25 August 1772 - December 12, 1843, as William I King of the Netherlands 1815-1840
  5. Willem Georg erik, 15 February 1774 - 6 January 1799

The house of Orange-Nassau 1625-1702

The House of Nassau

Blason famille de Nassau
Coat of Arms of the Counts of Laurenburg and Nassau

Coat of Arms of the Counts of Nassau 13th century

For further reading : Lines colored in :

ORANGE = line from William I "the Silent" to William III, 1544 - 1702, straight Male succession.

YELLOW = line from Johan William Friso to King William III of the Netherlands, 1702 - 1890, straight Male succession.

PINK = line from Queen Wilhelmina to Queen Beatrix, 1890 - present, Female succession.

The House of Orange-Nassau

Part 2

Frederick Henry 1584-1647, Prince of Orange, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel 1625-1647

Frederik Hendrik

Frederick Henry (Frederik Hendrik in Dutch) was born on(29 January 1584 in Delft as the youngest child of William the Silent and Louise de Coligny. His father William was Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, and Friesland. His mother Louise was daughter of the Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny, and was the fourth wife of his father. Frederick Henry was born six months before his father's assassination on 10 July 1584. The boy was trained to arms by his elder half-brother Maurice, one of the finest generalsof his age.

Frederick Henry married 4 April 1625 with Amalia of Solms-Braunfels (1602-1675), though she refused to become his lover and held out for marriage.

On the death of Maurice, a few weeks later, on 23 April 1625, Frederick Henry succeeded him in his paternal dignities and estates, and also in the stadtholderates of the five provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overijssel and Guelders, and in the important posts of captain and admiral-general of the Union.

Frederick Henry proved himself almost as good a general as his brother, and a far more capable statesman and politician. For twenty-two years he remained at the head of government in the United Provinces, and in his time the power of the stadtholderate reached its highest point.

The "Period of Frederick Henry," as it is usually styled by Dutch writers, is generally accounted the golden age of the republic. It was marked by great military and naval triumphs, by worldwide maritime and commercial expansion, and by a wonderful outburst of activity in the domains of art and literature.

The chief military exploits of Frederick Henry were the sieges and captures of Grol in 1627, 's-Hertogenbosch in 1629, of Maastricht in 1632, of Breda in 1637, of Sas van Gent in 1644, and of Hulst in 1645. During the greater part of his administration the alliance with France against Spain had been the pivot of Frederick Henry's foreign policy, but in his last years he sacrificed the French alliance for the sake of concluding a separate peace with Spain, by which the United Provinces obtained from that power all the advantages they had been seeking for eighty years.

Frederick Henry built the Country houses Huis Honselaarsdijk, Huis ter Nieuwburg, and for his wife Huis ten Bosch, and he renovated the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague. Huis Honselaarsdijk and Huis ter Nieuwburg are now demolished.

The treaty of Munster, ending the long struggle between the Dutch and the Spaniards, was not actually signed until January 30, 1648, the illness and death of the stadtholder having caused a delay in the negotiations.

Frederick Henry died on 14 March 1647 in The Hague. On Frederick Henry's death, he was buried with great pomp beside his father and brother at Delft. He left a wife, a son and four daughters :

  1. William II, 1626-1650, married Princess Royal Mary 1631-1660, daughter of King Charles I (1600-1649) of England, Scotland, and Ireland and his queen, Henrietssta Maria (1609-1669).
  2. Luise Henrietsste of Nassau (1627-1667), married Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg (1620-1688
  3. Henrietsste Amalia of Nassau, 1628
  4. Elisabeth of Nassau, 1630
  5. Isabella Charlotte of Nassau, 1632-1642
  6. Albertine Agnes of Nassau,1634-1696, married her nephew William Frederick, Count of Nassau-Dietz (1613-1664)
  7. Henrietsste Catherine of Nassau, 1637-1708, married John George II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (1627-1693)
  8. Hendry Louid of Nassau, 1639
  9. Maria of Nassau, 1642-1688, married Prince Maurice of the Palatine-Simmern, son of Louis Philip of Palatine-Simmern-Kaiserslautern

After his dead, the first period in which the Seven United Provinces had no Stadtholder began, called the first Stadtholderless period, which lasted from 1647 until 1672 and in Groningen and Frisia until 1702.

William II 1626-1650, Prince of Orange, nominated Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel 1647-1650

Willem II prince of Orange and Maria Stuart

William II was born on 27 May 1626, the son of  Frederick Henry of Orange and Amalia of Solms-Braunfels. William II’s ancestors governed in conjunction with the States-General, an assembly made up of representatives of each of the seven provinces but usually dominated by the largest and wealthiest province, Holland.

On May 2, 1641 William married Mary Henrietssta Stuart, the Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of King Charles I of England and Queen Henrietssta Maria in the Chapel Royal, Whitehall Palace, London.

In 1648 he opposed acceptance of the Treaty of Münster, despite the fact that it recognized the independence of the Netherlands. Secretly, William opened his own negotiations with France with the goal of extending his own territory under a centralized government. In addition, he worked for the restoration of his brother-in-law, Charles II (1630-1685), to the throne of England.

The Eighty Years War ended with the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia (Munster) in 1648. Almost the entire population of the Netherlands breathed in after a few warmongers. That became clear in 1649 when the States-General was planning to reduce the army to peace-strength. The province of Holland especially wanted to reduce the foreign troops and maintain only the Dutch troops, A logical wish, no European Country had such a huge foreign legion consisting of unreliable mercenaries. The only opponent was the 23-year-old Stadtholder William II of Orange-Nassau, this young ambitious man, still wet behind his ears, would resume the war against Spain with another ambitious child, the 12 year old king of France, the latter was notorious as Sun King and would later be the cause of the Disaster Year of Holland in 1672.

Willem II had another reason to hold its German-speaking mercenaries. His companions spoke the same language and possibly could use them later against the citizens of the Republic.  and that was exactly what William II did when the States of Holland finally refused to finance the huge army.

In 1650 William II became involved in a bitter quarrel with Holland and the powerful regents of Dordrecht and Amsterdam about the reduction of the army, following the Treaty of Münster of 1948. Among them were Jacob de Witt (1589-1674), member of the States of Holland as deputy of Dordrecht, Andries Bicker (1580-1652), leader of the Arminians and member of the city council (vroedschap) of Amsterdam and his cousin Cornelis de Graef, President of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC), and chief-councillor of the Admiralty of Amsterdam.

William opposed the reduction of the army which would diminish his powerbase. This resulted in William putting eight members of the States of Holland were kept prisoner in Castle Loevestein (near Gorinchem). Among them Jacob de Witt and five other prominent members of the States were arrested at the Binnenhof in The Hague (The burgomasters of Delft, Hoorn, Medemblik, Haarlem and Dordrecht). Together with his Dordrecht and Amsterdam supporters he decided to learn the Regents of Holland a lesson by occupying Dordrecht and Amsterdam.

The Siege of Dordrecht and Amsterdam

In addition he sent his cousin William Frederick of Nassau-Dietz with an army of 10 thousand troops with the aim of taking Amsterdam by force and to regain power while William went on the march towards Dordrecht with an army but, fortunately for Dordrecht, his troops got lost in a dense fog and he foiled this campaign and marched towards Amsterdam and joined his cousin William Frederick, besieging Amsterdam.

Attack on Amsterdam July, 30 1650

Meanwhile, The Frisian Stadtholder William Frederick approached the city to the distance of a cannon shot from the ramparts. He made his headquarters in a farmhouse called "Welna". His spies told him that the city was brought in a state of defense. The plan to take the city by surprise and without violence had failed. An envoy was send to the city council with a letter from Stadtholder William II of Orange-Nassau consisting of submission of the city to the Prince of Orange.

The main points of the submission came down to the following :

  1. Amsterdam would vote for the final nomination of the Prince and against the disposal of the foreign soldiers, in the States Assembly of Holland in The Haque.
  2. The Prince would like his ancestors, be received by the Vroedschap (city council).
  3. The soldiers would leave the city and the hired men would disband.
  4. Everything what had happened would be forgotten.

Initially the city seemed to be firm hold, but they were internally divided and after 3 days decided to accept the terms. On August, 3 a treaty was concluded between Willem II and the governance of the city.

Mayor Andries Bicker, a Republican and Arminian, got the blame and was fired. On 17 August the arrested members of the States of Holland were released from Castle Loevestein after the States reversed the reduction of the army size.

To the great scams of all peace-loving citizens the young brash William II died a few months later on November 6, 1650 of smallpox's and the threat of civil-war was thus avoided.

His son William III was born 8 days after his death . His son succeeded him after the Stadtholderless period in 1672, after the murder of Johan and Cornelis de Witt, as Stadtholder and became later, in 1689, King of England, Ireland and Scotland.

This was the beginning of the First Stadtholderless Period for the provinces Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel. During this period (1650-1672) the Dutch Republic reached the zenith of its economic, military and political Golden Age. The Golden age came to an end when the brothers Johann (Grand-Pensionary of Holland) and Cornelis de Witt from Dordrecht, both Republicans, were brutally slaughtered and murdered by Orangists in The Hague (August 1672), with the agreement of his son William III of Orange who, at that time, was grown to mans estate.


William III 1650-1702, Prince of Orange, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht 1672, Overijssel and Guelders 1675, King of England, Ireland and Scotland 1688, Stadtholder of Drenthe 1696


William Henry of Orange was born in The Hague on 14 November 1650, the only child of William II of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal, eldest daughter of King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland, and sister of King Charles II and King James II. Eight days before William's birth, his father died from smallpox, thus William was the Sovereign Prince of Orange from the moment of his birth.

Immediately a conflict ensued between the Mary Princess Royal and William II's mother, Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, over the name to be given to the infant. Mary wanted to name him Charles after her brother, but her mother-in-law insisted on giving him the name William or Willem to bolster his prospects of becoming stadtholder.

William II had appointed his wife as his son's guardian in his will, however the document remained unsigned at William II's death and was void. On 13 August 1651 the Dutch Hoge Raad (Supreme Council) ruled that guardianship would be shared between his mother, his paternal grandmother and Frederick William, the Elector of Brandenburg, whose wife, Louise Henrietsste, was his father's eldest sister.

Childhood and education

William's mother showed little personal interest in her son, sometimes being absent for years, and had always deliberately kept herself apart from Dutch societssy. William's education was first laid in the hands of several Dutch governesses, and some of English descent, including Walburg Howard. From April 1656, the prince received daily instruction in the Reformed religion from the Calvinist preacher Cornelis Trigland, a follower of the Contra-Remonstrant theologian Gisbertus Voetius. In these lessons, the prince was taught that he was predestined to become an instrument of Divine Providence, fulfilling the historical destiny of the House of Orange.

From early 1659, William spent seven years at the University of Leiden for a formal education, under the guidance of ethics professor Hendrik Bornius (though never officially enrolling as a student). While residing in the Prinsenhof at Delft, William had a small personal retinue including Hans Willem Bentinck, and a new governor, Frederick Nassau de Zuylenstein, the illegitimate son of gis grandfather Frederick Henry of Orange. He was taught French by Samuel Chappuzeau (who was dismissed by William's grandmother after the death of his mother).

Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt and his uncle Cornelis de Graeff pushed the States of Holland to take charge of William's education. This was to ensure he would acquire the skills to serve in a future, though undetermined, state function; the States acted on 25 September 1660. This first involvement of the authorities did not last long. On 23 December 1660, when William was ten years old, his mother died of smallpox at Whitehall Palace, London while visiting her brother King Charles II.

In her will, Mary requested that Charles look after William's interests, and Charles now demanded the States of Holland end their interference. To appease Charles, they complied on 30 September 1661. In 1661, Zuylenstein began to work for Charles. He induced William to write letters to Charles asking him to help William to become stadtholder someday. After his mother's death, William's education and guardianship became a point of contention between his dynasty's supporters and the advocates of a more republican Netherlands.

The Dutch authorities did their best at first to ignore these intrigues, but in the Second Anglo-Dutch War one of Charles's peace conditions was the improvement of the position of his nephew. As a Countermeasure in 1666, when William was sixteen, the States of Holland officially made him a ward of the government, or a "Child of State". All pro-English courtiers, including Zuylenstein, were removed from William's company. William begged De Witt to allow Zuylenstein to stay, but he refused. De Witt, the leading politician of the Republic, took William's education into his own hands, instructing him weekly in state matters and joining him in a regular game of real tennis.

Exclusion from stadtholdership

At William's father's death, the provinces had suspended the office of stadtholder. The Treaty of Westminster, which ended the First Anglo-Dutch War, had a secret annex attached on demand of Oliver Cromwell, the Act of Seclusion, which forbade the province of Holland to appoint a member of the House of Orange as stadtholder. After the English Restoration, the Act of Seclusion, which had not remained a secret for very long, was declared void as the English Commonwealth (with which the treaty had been concluded) no longer existed. In 1660, Mary and Amalia (his mother and grandmother) tried to convince several provincial States to designate William as their future stadtholder, but they all initially refused.

In 1667, as William III approached the age of eighteen, the Orangist party again attempted to bring him to power by securing for him the offices of stadtholder and Captain-General. To prevent the restoration of the influence of the House of Orange, De Witt allowed the pensionary of Haarlem, Gaspar Fagel, to induce the States of Holland to issue the Perpetual Edict (1667).

The Edict declared that the Captain-General or Admiral-General of the Netherlands could not serve as stadtholder in any province. Even so, William's supporters sought ways to enhance his prestige, and on 19 September 1668, the States of Zeeland received him as First Noble. To receive this honour, William had to escape the attention of his state tutors and travel secretly to Middelburg.

A month later, Amalia allowed William to manage his own household and declared him to be of majority age. The province of Holland, the center of anti-Orangism, abolished the office of stadtholder and four other provinces followed suit in March 1670, establishing the so-called "Harmony". De Witt demanded an oath from each Holland regent (city council member) to uphold the Edict; all but one complied.

William saw all this as a defeat, but in fact this arrangement was a compromise: De Witt would have preferred to ignore the prince completely, but now his eventual rise to the office of supreme army commander was implicit. De Witt further conceded that William would be admitted as a member of the Raad van State, the Council of State, then the generality organ administering the defence budget. William was introduced to the council on 31 May 1670 with full voting powers, despite De Witt's attempts to limit his role to that of an advisor.

Conflict with republicans

In November 1670, William obtained permission to travel to England to urge Charles to pay back at least a part of the 2,797,859 guilder debt the House of Stuart owed the House of Orange. Charles was unable to pay, but William agreed to reduce the amount owed to 1,800,000 guilder. Charles found his nephew to be a dedicated Calvinist and patriotic Dutchman, and reconsidered his desire to show him the Secret treaty of Dover with France, directed at destroying the Dutch Republic and installing William as "sovereign" of a Dutch rump state.

The following year, the Republic's security deteriorated quickly as an Anglo-French attack became imminent. In view of the threat, the States of Gelderland wanted William to be appointed Captain-General as soon as possible, despite his youth and in experience. On 15 December 1671 the States of Utrecht made this their official policy. On 19 January 1672 the States of Holland made a Counterproposal: to appoint William for just a single campaign. The prince refused this and on 25 February a compromise was reached: an appointment by the States-General for one summer, followed by a permanent appointment on his twenty-second birthday.

Meanwhile, William had written a secret letter to Charles in January 1672 asking his uncle to exploit the situation by exerting pressure on the States-General to appoint William Stadtholder. In return, William would ally the Republic with England and serve Charles's interests as much as his "honor and the loyalty due to this state" allowed. Charles took no action on the proposal, and continued his secret war plans with his French ally.

"Disaster year" 1672

1672 became known as the "disaster year" (Dutch: rampjaar) because of the Franco-Dutch War and the Third Anglo-Dutch War in which the Netherlands were invaded by France under Louis XIV, England, Münster, and Cologne. Although the Anglo-French fleet was disabled by the Battle of Solebay, in June the French army quickly overran the provinces of Gelderland and Utrecht. William on 14 June withdrew with the remnants of his field army into Holland, where the States had ordered the flooding of the Dutch Water Line on 8 June.

Louis XIV, believing the war was over, began negotiations to extract as large a sum of money from the Dutch as possible. The presence of a large French army in the heart of the Republic caused a general panic, and the people turned against de Witt and his allies. On 4 July the States of Holland appointed William stadtholder, and he took the oath five days later. The next day, a special envoy from Charles, Lord Arlington, met with William in Nieuwerbrug. He offered to make William Sovereign Prince of Holland in exchange for his capitulation, whereas a stadtholder was a mere civil servant.

When William refused, Arlington threatened that William would witness the end of the republic's existence. William made his famous answer: "There is one way to avoid this, to die defending it in the last ditch". On 7 July, the inundations were complete and the further advance of the French army was effectively blocked. On 16 July Zeeland offered the stadtholderate to William. Johan de Witt had been unable to function as Grand Pensionary after having been wounded by an attempt on his life on 21 June.

On 15 August William published a letter from Charles, in which the English King stated that he had made war because of the aggression of the de Witt faction. The people thus incited, de Witt and his brother, Cornelis, were murdered by an Orangist civil militia in The Hague on 20 August.

After this William replaced many of the Dutch regents with his followers. Though William's complicity in the lynching has never been proven (and some 19th century Dutch historians have made an effort to disprove that he was an accessory before the fact) he thwarted attempts to prosecute the ringleaders, and even rewarded some with money, and others with high offices :

These, and other acts damaged his reputation in the same fashion as his later actions at Glencoe on 13th february 1692 in Scotland (A massacre in three settlements along the glen, Invercoe, Inverrigan, and Achnacon.

William III continued to fight against the invaders from England and France, allying himself with Spain and Brandenburg. In November 1672 he took his army to Maastricht to threaten the French supply lines. By 1673, the situation further improved. Although Louis took Maastricht and William's attack against Charleroi failed, Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter defeated the Anglo-French fleet three times, forcing Charles to end England's involvement by the Treaty of Westminster.

After 1673, France slowly withdrew from Dutch territory (with the exception of Maastricht), while making gains elsewhere. Fagel, the new Grand Pensionary of Holland, now proposed to treat the liberated provinces of Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel as conquered territory (Generality Lands), as punishment for their quick surrender to the enemy.

William refused but obtained a special mandate from the States-General to newly appoint all delegates in the States of these provinces. William's followers in the States of Utrecht appointed him hereditary Stadtholder on 26 April 1674. The States of Gelderland offered the titles of Duke of Guelders and Count of Zutphen on 30 January 1675. The negative reactions to this from Zeeland and the city of Amsterdam, where the stock market collapsed, made William ultimately decide to decline these honors, but instead he was appointed Stadtholder of Gelderland and Overijssel.


Queen Mary IIDuring the war with France, William tried to improve his position by marrying Mary Stuart (1662-1694), his cousin and daughter of James, Duke of York, later King James II, and eleven years his junior. Although he anticipated resistance to a Stuart match from the Amsterdam merchants who had disliked his mother (another Mary Stuart), William believed that marrying Mary would increase his chances of succeeding to Charles's kingdoms, and would draw England's monarch away from his pro-French policies.

Bishop Henry Compton married the couple on 4 November 1677. Mary became pregnant soon after the marriage, but miscarried. After a further illness later in 1678, she never conceived again. Throughout William and Mary's marriage, William had only one acknowledged mistress, Elizabeth Villiers, in contrast to the many mistresses his uncles openly kept. During the 1690s rumors of William's homosexual inclinations grew and led to the publication of many satirical pamphlets.

Peace with France, intrigue with England

After six years of war Louis sought peace with the Dutch Republic. Even so, tensions remained, William remained very suspicious of Louis, thinking the French king desired "Universal Kingship" over Europe, Louis described William as "my mortal enemy" and saw him as an obnoxious warmonger.

France's small annexations in Germany (the Réunion policy) and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, caused a surge of Huguenot refugees to the Republic. This led William III to join various anti-French alliances, such as the Association League, and ultimately the League of Augsburg (an anti-French coalition that also included the Holy Roman Empire, Sweden, Spain and several German states) in 1686.

After his marriage in November 1677, William became a possible candidate for the English throne if his father-in-law (and uncle) James were excluded because of his Catholicism. During the crisis concerning the Exclusion Bill in 1680, Charles at first invited William to come to England to bolster the king's position against the exclusionists, then withdrew his invitation, after which Lord Sunderland also tried unsuccessfully to bring William over but now to put pressure on Charles. Nevertheless, William secretly induced the States-General to send the Insinuation to Charles, beseeching the king to prevent any Catholics from succeeding him, without explicitly naming James.

After receiving indignant reactions from Charles and James, William denied any involvement. In 1685, when James II succeeded Charles, William at first attempted a conciliatory approach, whilst at the same time trying not to offend the Protestants in England. William, ever looking for ways to diminish the power of France, hoped James would join the League of Augsburg, but by 1687 it became clear that James would not join the anti-French alliance. Relations worsened between William and James thereafter.

In November, James's wife Mary of Modena was announced to be pregnant. That month, to gain the favour of English Protestants, William wrote an open letter to the English people in which he disapproved of James's religious policies. Seeing him as a friend, and often having maintained secret contacts with him for years, many English politicians began to negotiate an armed invasion of England.

Glorious Revolution

William at first opposed the prospect of invasion, but most historians now agree that he began to assemble an expeditionary force in April 1688, as it became increasingly clear that France would remain occupied by campaigns in Germany and Italy, and thus unable to mount an attack while William's troops would be occupied in Britain. Believing that the English people would not react well to a foreign invader, he demanded in a letter to Rear-Admiral Arthur Herbert that the most eminent English Protestants first invite him to invade.

In June, James's wife, Mary of Modena, bore a son (James Francis Edward Stuart), who displaced William's wife to become first in the line of succession. Public anger also increased because of the trial of seven bishops who had publicly opposed James's religious policies and had petitioned him to reform them. On 30 June 1688, the same day the bishops were acquitted, a group of political figures known afterward as the "Immortal Seven", sent William a formal invitation. William's intentions to invade were public knowledge by September 1688.

With a Dutch army, William landed at Brixham in southwest England on 5 November 1688. He came ashore from the ship Brill, proclaiming "the liberties of England and the Protestant religion I will maintain". William had come ashore with approximately 11,000 foot and 4,000 horse soldiers. James's support began to dissolve almost immediately upon William's arrival; Protestant officers defected from the English army (the most notable of whom was Lord Churchill of Eyemouth, James's most able commander), and influential noblemen across the Country declared their support for the invader.

James at first attempted to resist William, but saw that his efforts would prove futile. He sent representatives to negotiate with William, but secretly attempted to flee on 11 December. A group of fishermen caught him and brought him back to London. He successfully escaped to France in a second attempt on 23 December. William permitted James to leave the Country, not wanting to make him a martyr for the Roman Catholic cause.

Proclaimed King

William summoned a Convention Parliament in England, which met on 22 January 1689, to discuss the appropriate course of action following James's flight. William felt insecure about his position; though only his wife was formally eligible to assume the throne, he wished to reign as King in his own right, rather than as a mere consort.

The only precedent for a joint monarchy in England dated from the sixteenth century, when Queen Mary I married the Spanish Prince Philip. Philip remained King only during his wife's lifetime, and restrictions were placed on his power. William, on the other hand, demanded that he remain as King even after his wife's death. Although the majority of Tory Lords proposed to acclaim her as sole ruler, Mary, remaining loyal to her husband, refused. The House of Commons, with a Whig majority, quickly resolved that the throne was vacant, and that it was safer if the ruler was Protestant.

There were more Tories in the House of Lords which would not initially agree, but after William refused to be a regent or to agree to remaining King only in his wife's lifetime, there were negotiations between the two houses and the Lords agreed by a narrow majority that the throne was vacant. The Commons made William accept a Bill of Rights, and on 13 February 1689, Parliament passed the Declaration of Right, in which it deemed that James, by attempting to flee, had abdicated the government of the realm, thereby leaving the Throne vacant.

The Crown was not offered to James's eldest son, James Francis Edward (who would have been the heir-apparent under normal circumstances), but to William and Mary as joint Sovereigns. It was, however, provided that "the sole and full exercise of the regal power be only in and executed by the said Prince of Orange in the names of the said Prince and Princess during their joint lives".

William and Mary were crowned together at Westminster Abbey on 11 April 1689 by the Bishop of London, Henry Compton. Normally, the coronation is performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the Archbishop at the time, William Sancroft, refused to recognise James's removal. William also summoned a Convention of the Estates of Scotland which met on 14 March 1689, and sent a conciliatory letter while James sent haughty uncompromising orders, swaying a majority in favour of William. On 11 April, the day of the English coronation, the Convention finally declared that James was no longer King of Scotland. William and Mary were offered the Scottish Crown, they accepted on 11 May.

Revolution settlement

William III of England encouraged the passage of the Act of Toleration (1689), which guaranteed religious toleration to certain Protestant nonconformists. It did not, however, extend toleration as far as William wished, still restricting the religious liberty of Roman Catholics, non-trinitarians, and those of non-Christian faiths.

In December 1689, one of the most important constitutional documents in English history, the Bill of Rights, was passed. The Act, which restated and confirmed many provisions of the earlier Declaration of Right, established restrictions on the royal prerogative. It provided, amongst other things, that the Sovereign could not suspend laws passed by Parliament, levy taxes without parliamentary consent, infringe the right to petition, raise a standing army during peacetime without parliamentary consent, deny the right to bear arms to Protestant subjects, unduly interfere with parliamentary elections, punish members of either House of Parliament for anything said during debates, require excessive bail or inflict cruel and unusual punishments.

William was opposed to the imposition of such constraints, but he chose not to engage in a conflict with Parliament and agreed to abide by the statute. The Bill of Rights also settled the question of succession to the Crown. After the death of either William or Mary, the other would continue to reign. Next in the line of succession was Mary II's sister, the Princess Anne, and her issue. Finally, any children William might have had by a subsequent marriage were included in the line of succession. Roman Catholics, as well as those who married Catholics, were excluded.

Rule with Mary II

Although most in Britain accepted William as Sovereign, a significant minority refused to accept the validity of his claim to the throne, holding that the divine right of kings was authority directly from God, not delegated to the monarch by Parliament. Over the next 57 years Jacobites pressed for restoration of James and his heirs. Nonjurors in England and Scotland, including over 400 clergy and several bishops of the Church of England and Scottish Episcopal Church as well as numerous laymen, refused to take oaths of allegiance to William.

Ireland was controlled by Roman Catholics loyal to James, who arrived with French forces in March 1689 to join the war in Ireland and contest Protestant resistance at the Siege of Derry. William's navy relieved the city in July, and his army landed in August. After progress stalled, William personally intervened to lead his armies to victory over James at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, after which James II fled back to France. William's victory is commemorated annually by Northern Irish and Scottish Protestants on the The Twelfth of July.

The first of a series of Jacobite risings took place in Scotland, where VisCount Dundee raised Highland forces and won a stunning victory on 27 July 1689 at the Battle of Killiecrankie, but he died in the fight and a month later Scottish Cameronian forces subdued the rising at the Battle of Dunkeld. William offered Scottish clans that had taken part in the rising a pardon provided they signed allegiance by a deadline, and his government in Scotland punished a delay with the Massacre of Glencoe of 1692, which became infamous in Jacobite propaganda as William had Countersigned the orders.

Bowing to public opinion, William dismissed those responsible for the massacre, though they still remained in his favour; in the words of the historian John Dalberg-Acton, "one became a colonel, another a knight, a third a peer, and a fourth an earl. "William's reputation in Scotland was further damaged when he refused English assistance to the Darien scheme, a colony which then failed disastrously.

Parliament and faction

Although the Whigs were William's strongest supporters, he initially favoured a policy of balance between the Whigs and Tories. The Marquess of Halifax, a man known for his ability to chart a moderate political course, gained William's confidence early in his reign. The Whigs, a majority in Parliament, had expected to dominate the government, and were disappointed that William denied them this chance. This "balanced" approach to governance did not last beyond 1690, as the conflicting factions made it impossible for the government to pursue effective policy, and William called for new elections early that year.

After the Parliamentary elections of 1690, William began to favour the Tories, led by Danby and Nottingham. While the Tories favoured preserving the king's prerogatives, William found them unaccommodating when he asked Parliament to support his continuing war with France. As a result, William began to prefer the Whig faction known as the Junto. The Whig government was responsible for the creation of the Bank of England. William's decision to grant the Royal Charter in 1694 to the Bank, a private institution owned by bankers, is his most relevant economic legacy.It laid the financial foundation of the English take-over of the central role of the Dutch Republic and Bank of Amsterdam in global commerce in the 18th century.

William dissolved Parliament in 1695, and the new Parliament that assembled that year was led by the Whigs. There was a considerable surge in support for William following the exposure of a Jacobite plan to assassinate him in 1696. Parliament passed a bill of attainder against the ringleader, John Fenwick, and he was beheaded in 1697.

War in Europe

William continued to be absent from the realm for extended periods during his war with France, leaving each spring and returning to England each autumn. England joined the League of Augsburg, which then became known as the Grand Alliance.

Whilst William was away fighting, his wife, Mary II, governed the realm, but acted on his advice. Each time he returned to England, Mary gave up her power to him without reservation, an arrangement that lasted for the rest of Mary's life. After the Anglo-Dutch fleet defeated a French fleet at La Hogue in 1692, the allies for a short period controlled the seas, and Ireland was pacified thereafter by the Treaty of Limerick. At the same time, the Grand Alliance fared poorly in Europe, as William lost Namur in the Spanish Netherlands in 1692, and was badly beaten at the Battle of Landen in 1693.

Mary II died of smallpox in 1694, leaving William III to rule alone. William deeply mourned his wife's death. Despite his conversion to Anglicanism, William's popularity plummeted during his reign as a sole Sovereign.

Henry Purcell composed a requiem for the burial ceremony of Mary II Stuart in the Westminster Abbey in London, March 5 1695, called "Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts".

Peace with France

In 1696, the Dutch territory of Drenthe made William its Stadtholder. In the same year, Jacobites plotted to assassinate William III in an attempt to restore James to the English throne, but failed.

In accordance with the Treaty of Rijswijk (20 September 1697), which ended the Nine Years' War, Louis recognized William III as King of England, and undertook to give no further assistance to James II. Thus deprived of French dynastic backing after 1697, Jacobites posed no further serious threats during William's reign.

As his life drew towards its conclusion, William, like many other European rulers, felt concern over the question of succession to the throne of Spain, which brought with it vast territories in Italy, the Low Countries and the New World. The King of Spain, Charles II, was an invalid with no prospect of having children; amongst his closest relatives were Louis XIV (the King of France) and Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor.

William sought to prevent the Spanish inheritance from going to either monarch, for he feared that such a calamity would upset the balance of power. William and Louis XIV agreed to the First Partition Treaty, which provided for the division of the Spanish Empire: Duke Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria would obtain Spain, while France and the Holy Roman Emperor would divide the remaining territories between them. Charles II accepted the nomination of Joseph Ferdinand as his heir, and war appeared to be averted.

When, however, Joseph Ferdinand died of smallpox, the issue re-opened. In 1700, the two rulers agreed to the Second Partition Treaty (also called the Treaty of London), under which the territories in Italy would pass to a son of the King of France, and the other Spanish territories would be inherited by a son of the Holy Roman Emperor. This arrangement infuriated both the Spanish, who still sought to prevent the dissolution of their empire, and the Holy Roman Emperor, to whom the Italian territories were much more useful than the other lands.

Unexpectedly, the invalid King of Spain, Charles II, interfered as he lay dying in late 1700. Unilaterally, he willed all Spanish territories to Philip, a grandson of Louis XIV. The French conveniently ignored the Second Partition Treaty and claimed the entire Spanish inheritance. Furthermore, Louis XIV alienated William III by recognising James Francis Edward Stuart, the son of the former King James II who had died in 1701, as King of England. The subsequent conflict, known as the War of the Spanish Succession, continued until 1713.

English succession

The Spanish inheritance was not the only one which concerned William. His marriage with Mary II had not yielded any children, and he did not seem likely to remarry. Mary's sister, the Princess Anne, had borne numerous children, all of whom died during childhood. The death of William, Duke of Gloucester in 1700 left the Princess Anne as the only individual left in the line of succession established by the Bill of Rights. As the complete exhaustion of the line of succession would have encouraged a restoration of James II's line, Parliament saw fit to pass the Act of Settlement 1701, in which it was provided that the Crown would be inherited by a distant relative, Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her Protestant heirs if Princess Anne died without surviving issue, and if William III failed to have surviving issue by any subsequent marriage. (Several Catholics with genealogically senior claims to Sophia were omitted). The Act extended to England and Ireland, but not to Scotland, whose Estates had not been consulted before the selection of Sophia.


In 1702, William died on 8 March of pneumonia, a complication from a broken collarbone, resulting from a fall off his horse, Sorrel. Because his horse had stumbled into a mole's burrow, many Jacobites toasted "the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat."

William was buried in Westminster Abbey alongside his wife. William's death brought an end to the Dutch House of Orange, members of which had served as Stadtholder of Holland and the majority of the other provinces of the Dutch Republic since the time of William the Silent (William I). The five provinces of which William III was stadtholder, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel, all suspended the office after his death. Thus, he was the last agnatic descendant of William I to be named Stadtholder for the majority of the provinces.

Under William III's will, Johan Willem Friso stood to inherit the Principality of Orange as well as several lordships in the Netherlands. He was an agnatic relative of the Princes of Orange, as well as a descendant of William the Silent through a female line. However, King Frederick I of Prussia also claimed the Principality as the senior cognatic heir, stadtholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange having been his maternal grandfather and William III his first cousin. Under the Treaty of Utrecht, which was agreed to in 1713, King Frederick William I of Prussia (who kept the title as part of his titulary) ceded the Principality of Orange to the King of France, Louis XIV.

Friso's son, William IV, shared the title of "Prince of Orange", which had accumulated high prestige in the Netherlands as well as in the entire Protestant world, with Frederick William after the Treaty of Partition (1732).


William's primary achievement was to contain France when it was in a position to impose its will across much of Europe. His life was largely opposed to the will of Louis XIV of France. This effort continued after his death during the War of the Spanish Succession.

Another important consequence of William's reign in England involved the ending of a bitter conflict between Crown and Parliament that had lasted since the accession of the first English monarch of the House of Stuart, James I, in 1603. The conflict over royal and parliamentary power had led to the English Civil War during the 1640s and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

During William's reign, however, the conflict was settled in Parliament's favour by the Bill of Rights 1689, the Triennial Act 1694 and the Act of Settlement 1701. William endowed the College of William and Mary (in present day Williamsburg, Virginia) in 1693.

Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas, is named after Fort Nassau, which was renamed in 1695 in his honor. Similarly Nassau County, New York a County on Long Island, is a namesake. Long Island itself was also known as Nassau during early Dutch rule. Though many alumni of Princeton University think that the town of Princeton, N.J. (and hence the university) were named in his honor, this is probably untrue. Nassau Hall, at the university campus, is so named, however. Princeton's school colors of orange and black are typically attributed to Princeton's connection to William and Mary.

The modern day Orange Institution is named after William III, and makes a point of celebrating his victory at the Boyne. New York City was briefly renamed New Orange for him in 1673 after the Dutch recaptured the city, which had been renamed New York by the British in 1665. His name was applied to the fort and administrative center for the city on two separate occasions reflecting his different sovereign status—first as Fort Willem Hendrick in 1673, and then as Fort William in 1691 when the English evicted Colonists who had seized the fort and city.

The House of Orange-Nassau 1544-1702

Princes of Orange

Name Rule time Remarks
William I "the Silent" 1544-1584 Murderred at Delft
Philip William 1584-1618 Roman Catholic
Maurice 1618-1625 Stadtholder
Frederick-Henry 1625-1647 Stadtholder
Willism II 1647-1650  
William III 1650-1702 From 1689 King of England, Ireland and Scotland
Extinct in 1702

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