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HISTORY OF HOLLAND and the Dutch Nation



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


In Three Volumes
Vol. I
LONDON: G.Willis, Great Piazza,Covent Garden MDCCCXLI

Volume I



Ada. Marriage with Louis, Count van Loon, William comes to Schouwen. Proclaimed Count. Imprisonment of Ada. Alliance of Louis with Flanders and Utrecht. William deprived of his authority. His Restoration. Peace with Utrecht; with Flanders; with Louis van Loon. Affairs of Germany. Alliance of Holland with England and Germany against France. Battle of Bouvines. Truce. Alliance with France. William accompanies Louis of France to England. Peace between France and England. Crusade. Capture of Damietssta. Death of William. Charter of Privileges granted to Middleburg. Florence IV. Minority. Crusade against the Stedingers. Tournament at Corbye. Death of Florence. His Children. William II. Minority. Chosen Emperor. Siege of Aix. War with Flanders ; with West Friesland. Death of William. Court at the Hague. Canal of Sparendam. Charters granted to the Towns. Digression on the Constitution of Holland.


The last wish of Count Theodore (1203), that the guardian-ship of his daughter and her states should be confided to his brother William, was frustrated by the intrigues of the Countess-dowager Adelaide of Cleves, who, in order to debar him from all share in the administration, bad determined upon marrying her daughter to Louis, Count of Loon, and, with this view, had summoned him to come secretly into Holland, during the lifetime of the Count. 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 1, and used such dispatch in the completion of her design, that the nuptialsof the young Countess were celebrated before, her father's body was consigned to the tomb 2. William, therefore, on his arrival at the Zype, found his brother dead, and his niece already married; and being unable to obtain a safe conduct from Adela or Count Louis, to visit his brother's grave at Egmond, which he made the pretext of his coming, he returned into Friesland 3.

  1.  Vid. Letter of the Countess Adelaide in Rym. Fad., torn. i., p. 145. Chron. Belg. Anon., ad ann. 1203.
  2.  Melis Stoke, boek ii., p. 479—482.
  3.  Melis Stoke, boek iii., U. 1, 2, deel. 2.


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 such as had consented to Ada's marriage; and Philip van Wassenaar, one of the leaders of the disaffected, brought William 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 1. The Kemmerlanders, headed by Walter of Egmond, and Albert Banjaard, quickly followed the example of Zealand, and the Lady Ada, and her husband, who were then at Haarlem, escaped with difficulty, and 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. Here she was besieged by Philip van Wassenaar, and the citadel being poorly supplied with provisions, was soon forced to surrender 2. The Countess Ada was sent prisoner to the Texel, and subsequently to the court of John, king of England. William, however, was not more secure in his government, since Louis van Loon, a young man of high courage and enterprising spirit, was little inclined to sit down quietssly under the loss of his bride, and her princely portion.

  1. 1 Beka in Theod., p. 63.
  2. 2 Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 7—9.


He courted to his alliance the Bishop of Liege, the Duke of Limburg, and Philip, margrave of Namur, and purchased the friendship of the warlike Bishop of Utrecht for the sum of two thousand pounds Flemish 1. Philip of Namur was now governor of Flanders, in the absence of his brother Baldwyn IX., elevated about this time to the throne of Constantinople 2; and an irresistible bait was held out to him, by the offer of abolishing the tolls at Geervlietss. He promised immediate and effective aid to Louis 3, and many of the Holland nobles, seeing his party so rapidly increasing, fell off from their allegiance towards William, who, thus deprived of the means of resisting the force arrayed against him, was obliged to retire to Zealand. After his departure, the whole of Holland submitted to Louis, through the activity and efforts chiefly of the Bishop of Utrecht: nor was William long allowed to remain unmolested in Zealand. Philip of Namur, 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 van Loon. 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 van 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 4.

  1. The "pondt" Flemish is worth about ten shillings; there is also another coin called pondt, of value forty " groots," or half-pence.
  2. 'Gibbon, Decl. and Fall, &c, chap. 61.
  3. Meyer, Ann. Fland., ad. ann 1203, p. 63. Heda, p. 187.
  4. Melis Stoke, boek Hi., bl. 11—24, 2 deel. Beka in Theod., 2°, p. 64.


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 Kemnierlanders, and fortified themselves in Leyden. They were driven from thence by Louis, before Count William could advance to their assistance, who, on his arrival, found his adversary encamped near Voorschoten. William, marching to Ryswick, took up an advantageous position there, when the Duke of Limburg, having moved forward from the camp of Louis, for the purpose of reconnoitring, 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 1. 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. So unfortunate an event disposed William to hearken to terms of accommodation, and peace was soon after concluded between him and the bishop 2. The Count of Loon, thus deprived of his most active ally, induced Philip 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, Countess dowager of Flanders.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 24—39. Beka in Theod., 2°, p. 65. Chron. Belg., ad ami. 1204.
  2. Ileda in Theod., 2°, p. 188.



1206 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 of Namur, who, however, took care that the terms of it should be highly advantageous to him 1. 1207 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 the next year an ambassador (Walter Bertrand) to John, king of England, to solicit the return of his wife. 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, Otho IV., emperor of Germany, whose rival,* Philip of Suabia, 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 Otho, so long as he should remain the ally of England 2. But as the circumstances in which 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; the latter never regained any footing in Holland or Zealand, and William remained in peaceable possession of the County.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 43—45. Meyer, Ann. Fland., ad ann. 1208, p. 63.
  2. Vid. Lett, of the Countess of Holland, and Convention of the Count van Loon. Rym. Feed., torn, i., p. 14-5,14G.


The Countess Ada lived after her re-union with her husband until the year 1218, when she died without children 1. The death of Philip of Suabia, in the year 1208 appeared likely to leave Otho undisputed master of the German empire: but dissensions soon after arising between the Pope and the emperor (1211), on the subject of their possessions in Italy, sentence of excommunication was pronounced against Otho, and, in consequence of it, the papal legate in Germany induced a portion of the electoral princes to declare Frederick, son of Henry VI., as emperor 2. The Count of Holland, since the death of Philip of Suabia, had adhered to the side of Otho, from whom he obtained a confirmation of his authority 3; whereas Louis van Loon, following the example of his liege lord, the Bishop of Liege, espoused the party of Frederick, soon after his election. This circumstance inclined the King of England, now threatened with an invasion by Philip II. of France, to abandon the alliance with Louis for that of Holland. He, therefore, made a treaty with William, by which the latter bound himself to assist the king as often as required, with twenty-five lances 4, to receive pay out of the royal treasury while serving in England; to allow him to levy one thousand foot soldiers in Holland, and to provide him with ships to transport them into England, the charges of which were to be defrayed by the king: John engaged, moreover, to pay the Count the sum of four hundred marks of silver 5,6.

  1. Snoi. Rer. Batav., lib. vi., p. 82.
  2. Mat. Par., Rer. Aug. Hist., p. 193. Herm, Com. Col., ii., p. 839.
  3. Wilhelmus Procurator ad ann. 1206.
  4. Each "lance" was composed of ten horsemen, and an indefinite number of attendants on foot, called " Knappen."
  5. Rym. Feed., torn, i., pp. 168,169, 212.
  6. William declares himself the liege man of the king in respect of this sum, binding himself to assist him in defending England, and in gaining possession of his other states.


1214 Besides the Count of Holland, the King of England had formed an alliance with Ferdinand, Count of Flanders, Otho, emperor of Germany, and the Duke of Brabant; and these princes were prepared to enter France with their united forces, amounting to one hundred thousand men, as soon as Philip should he occupied with the invasion of England. Philip, therefore, determined to direct his operations first against his vassal, the Count of Flanders, and marching thither in person, at the head of his army, enCountered the allied troops near the bridge of Bouvines, between Lille and Tournay. Though far inferior in numbers, the King of France obtained a complete victory; the Count of Flanders and the Duke of Brabant were taken prisoners, and the Emperor Otho narrowly escaped sharing the same fate 1. The Count of Holland, whether dazzled by the success which «attended the arms of Philip on this occasion, or that some cause of dissatisfaction had sprung up between himself and King John, took advantage of a truce concluded between England and France shortly after the battle, not only to detach himself from the alliance of the former, but to enter into a treaty with Philip, by virtue of which he was called upon, ere long, to take an active part in hostilities against his former ally.

The dissensions between the English nobles and their sovereign had now risen to such a height, that they resolved to declare his right to the crown forfeited, and to offer the sovereignty of England to Louis of France, eldest son of Philip 2. 1216 Allured by the prospect of so rich a prize, Philip despatched his son with a considerable fleet to England, whither he was accompanied by the Count of Holland, at the head of six and thirty nobles with their vassals 3.

  1. Mat. Par., 210, 211. Hern. Cor., Col. 842—845.
  2. Mat. Par., p. 234.
  3. Meyer, Ann. Flnnd., lib. viii., ad ann. 1216.


The death of John, in the same year, was followed by an unsuccessful battle fought near Lincoln, and the return of the discontented nobles to their allegiance under Henry III., his son; and Louis, finding himself deserted by most of his former friends, was glad to conclude a peace with the Earl of Pembroke, guardian of the young king, in order to ensure indemnity to his partisans, and his own safe retreat into France 1. 1217 The termination of the war between France and England left Count William free to accompany the crusade undertaken at this time; and he accordingly set sail from the Meuse, with twelve large ships, which, uniting with a great number of smaller vessels from Friesland, arrived after some delays at the port of Lisbon 2. Immediately upon their landing, a message was sent by the Portuguese nobles to the crusaders, beseeching their assistance against the King of Morocco, who had wrested the fortress of Alcazar from the King of Portugal, and obliged the inhabitants of that Country to deliver into his hands a hundred Christian slaves every year. The greater part of the Frieslanders refused to delay their journey to the Holy Land, but the Hollanders under Count William besieged and took Alcazar, and continued the remainder of the year in Portugal. 1218 Being earnestly admonished by the Pope to hasten without further loss of time to the Holy Land, William joined the fleet of the crusaders at Acre, in the next spring, when it was determined to make first the conquest of Egypt, after which it would be easy, they supposed, to subdue Syria and Palestine.

  1. Mat. Par., p. 249—251. Rym. Foed., torn, i., p. 221, 222.
  2. Comit. Holl. Exped. in Syriain, torn. ii.,p. 20.


With this design, the crusading forces laid siege to Damietssta, a large and well-fortified town, situated on the right bank of the Nile, and united to a forty built on a rock in the middle of the river, by a strong chain of iron. The Hollanders and Frieslanders, by means of a floating tower of a new and peculiar construction, gained possession of the fort 1, and, breaking the chain, opened by this means the passage of the river to the Crusaders. The capture of the fort was soon followed by that of the city; but in the year 1221, it again fell into the hands of the Saracens, nor did any ultimate advantage ensue to the Crusaders from this conquest 2. Soon after the conclusion of the siege of Damietssta, William returned to Holland, which he governed in peace for about four years. He died on the 4th of February, 1224 3. In this reign was granted a charter of privileges (nearly the oldest known in the County of Holland 4) to the city of Middleburg, in Zealand, in the joint names of Joanna, Countess of Flanders, and William of Holland 5. By this charter, certain fines were fixed for fighting, maiming, striking, or railing, for resisting the authority of the magistrates, and other delinquencies of minor importance; under the jurisdiction of the schout and sheriffs 6 of the city.

  1. The men of Haarlem are said to have borne the principal share in this exploit, the anniversary of which was celebrated in the city until long after.—.Boxhorn, Theat. Urb. Holl., p. 128,130.
  2. Oliveri Hist Dam., cap. 5, 8, 9,17, 39, col. 1401—1437.
  3. Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 47.
  4. That of Geertraydenberg is somewhat older, being dated 1213, but much mutilated.—Aantek. op Vaterland. Hist., torn, ii., pi 111.
  5. Walcheren, of which Middleburg is the capital, was one of the five islands held by the Counts of Holland as a fief of Flanders. VOL I. P
  6. The nature of these offices will be explained at the end of this chapter.


All civil causes between citizens, or between a citizen and a foreigner, must be tried by the same magistrates, with an appeal to the Count sitting in judgment with the sheriffs. If a foreigner have fought with a citizen, the sheriffs shall endeavor to pacify the quarrel, and in case either party refuse to submit to their decision, they shall ring the town-bell, and call out all the citizens to compel him to obedience, Whoever rings the town-bell without the order of the magistrates, or does not appear when it is rung, is liable to a fine. One of the provisions of this charter evinces a solicitude for the security of the property of individuals, which would seem to belong to a more advanced state of societssy; it is, that the guardians of minors must give security to the magistrates, before they can undertake the management of their estates. It is difficult to account for the causes which led to the enactment of another provision, which purports, that no one is competent to give evidence, unless he have a dwelling in the town, and pays scot and lot. A Middleburgher, choosing another lord than the Count of Holland, must pay ten pounds Flemish (5/.) to the Count, and ten shillings to the town; the Count reserving to himself the judgment in such cases 1. The charters of the other cities of Holland and Zealand bear more or less resemblance to this, which, ancient as it is, appears, nevertheless, to have been rather a confirmation of prescriptive customs, than a new code of regulations, though there is no earlier instance on record of the Counts binding themselves by oath to the observance of them 2.

  1. From this it would appear that the subject had a right to withdraw his allegiance from hid lord, a custom which, though it might be the occasion of i some disorders, must yet, by providing a remedy against oppression and tyranny on the part of the lord, have tended much to soften the rigour of feudal government.
  2. Boxhorn op Reigeroberg, i. deel., bl. 169.



1224 Florence IV. was only twelve years of age when he succeeded his father; but it is not known with certainty who administered the affairs of the County daring his minority, or under whose direction it was that the young Count conferred on the towns of Domburg and West Kappel, in Walcheren, charters of privileges, confirmed by the attestation of several Holland and Zealand nobles, and similar in their nature to the one granted by his father to the citizens of Middleburg 1.

Florence was the first and last of the Counts of Holland who, in obedience to the injunctions of the holy see, bore a part in one of those crusades against Christian heretics, which had, unhappily, become so much the mode during this century. The Stedingers, a people inhabiting the small tract of Country bordering on the Weser, having refused to acknowledge the temporal jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Bremen, were, for this reason, accused by him of heresy, before 1233 Pope Gregory IX., who preached a general crusade against them. The Duke of Brabant, therefore, with the Count of Cleves and the Count of Holland, who sailed to the Weser in a fleet of three hundred ships, led their united forces into the Country of the Stedingers. The invading army, amounting to forty thousand strong, laid waste the whole land with fire and sword; the Stedingers, though far inferior in numbers, defended themselves for some time with undaunted courage; but being defeated in an obstinate and bloody battle, in 1234 which four thousand of them were slain, they submitted at length to the archbishop 2.

  1. Boxhorn op Reigeroberg, ii. deel., bl. 66 et seq.
  2. Chron. Luneberg. Col., torn, i., p. 1406. Herm. Cor., col. iu p. 879. Meyer, lib. viii., ad ann. 1233.


The fame of Count Florence's beauty, velour, and skill in all knightly accomplishments, being widely spread abroad, produced such an eager desire in the breast of the young Countess of Clermont to see so bright a pattern of chivalry, that she induced her aged husband to proclaim a tournament at Corbye, where she knew the young Count would not fail to be present 1. The event answered her expectations, but proved fatal to the object of her admiration. Observing that one knight in particular bore himself gallantly in the joust, and overthrew all his opponents, she begged her husband to tell her by what armor and device the Count of Holland was distinguished. 1235 The apparently innocent curiosity of his wife aroused such furious jealousy in the bosom of the old man, that he forgot at once what was due to knightly faith and the rights of hospitality; and, assisted by the lord of Nielle, at the head of a number of horsemen, he rushed suddenly upon Count Florence, dragged him from his horse, and slew him, before his attendants had time to assemble for his defence. His death, however, was instantly avenged by Theodore, Count of Cleves, who killed the Count of Clermont on the spot, and forced Nielle and his followers to betake themselves to flight 2. Thus perished Count Florence, in the bloom of youth and beauty, leaving his states to his son William, an infant under seven years of age. He had four children by his wife, Matilda, daughter of Henry, Duke of Brabant; William, Florence, Margaret, and Adelaide, Countess of Hainaut 3.

  1. Oude Chronyck in Schryver's Graaven, i. deel., 1>1.427.
  2. Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 49 et seq. Johan a Leid., lib. xxiL, cap. 10. Herm* Cor., col. ii., p. 880.
  3. Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 67.



The government of the County, during the minority of the young prince, was entrusted to Otho III., bishop of Utrecht, brother of the late Count 1. William had just entered his twentietssh year, was still "beardless and blushing," and not yet knighted, when he was elected Emperor of Germany 2. The causes which impelled the electors to a measure so extraordinary as that of placing a mere boy on the imperial throne, were briefly these:—The relative position of the emperors and Popes, and their conflicting claims to the sovereignty over Italy, necessarily placed them in perpetual hostility with each other; and never had their mutual recriminations and disgusts been carried to a higher pitch, than during the reign of the present emperor, Frederick II. In the year 1245, Pope Innocent IV. summoned Frederick to appear before a council held at Lyons, to clear himself of the crimes of heresy and sacrilege, of which he was accused; where, notwithstanding the bold and eloquent defence made by the emperor's proxy, Theodore of Suessa, sentence of excommunication was pronounced against him, and his subjects absolved from their oath of allegiance*. In order to give effect to the decree of the council, Innocent spared neither pains nor money to procure the election of another emperor, and he at length prevailed with the greater number of ecclesiastical, and some few of the lay electors, to nominate Henry, landgrave of Thuringia. 1246 Henry's death happening shortly after, the imperial dignity was offered to several princes of Europe, and even to Haco, king of Norway, none of whom, however, were found willing to accept so troublesome and dangerous an honour 3.

  1. Beka in Ott., iii., p. 76.
  2. Beka in Ott., 76, 77. * Mat. Par., p. 583—686,
  3. Mat. Par., 616, 633,698.


1247 At length, on the recommendation of Henry V., Duke of Brabant, the choice of the electors in the papal interest fell on William of Holland, who, to the hereditary valour of his race, united abilities and prudence far beyond his years, and was moreover remarkable for the extreme beauty of his Countenance, and the majestic height of his stature 1. Immediately after his election, having caused himself to be knighted by the Duke of Brabant 2, William hastened to Aix, to receive the imperial crown, but found this city entirely devoted to the interests of Frederick, and it cost him a long and expensive siege before he could effect his entrance 3. He was obliged, in order to raise funds for carrying it on, to mortgage Nimeguen, a free city of the empire, to the Duke of Guelderland, for the sum of sixteen thousand marks of silver 4,5. 1248 Aix at length surrendered, and the ceremony of the new emperor's coronation was performed by Conrad, archbishop of Cologne 6,7; but, although supported by the whole power and influence of the holy see, and strengthened by the alliance of the Duke of Brunswick, whose daughter he married, William was never able, even after the death of Frederick II., which happened in 1250, to insure general obedience to his authority; while the measures he took for this purpose raised up a troublesome and dangerous enemy in his hereditary states 8.

  1. Melia Stoke, boek iii., bl. 63. Mat. Par., 636. Beka in Ott, p. 76.
  2. Beka in Ott., p. 77.
  3. Herm. Cor., col. 894.
  4. Heda in Ott., iii, p. 206.
  5. Henceforward Nimeguen continued permanently united to Guelderland.
  6. Mat Par., p. 651.
  7. According to Hermannus Corner!, by the Cardinal of St Sabine, the Pope's Legate, col. 894.
  8. Vit. Chron., col. ii., p. 1738 and seq.


According to an ancient custom of Germany, those vassals who neglected to do homage to a new emperor within a year and a day after his coronation, lost irrecoverably the fiefs which they held of the empire. The emperor, therefore, in a dietss held 1252 at Frankfort, declared all those fiefs escheated, the possessors of which had not received investiture from him within a year and a day after his coronation at Aix 1. Among the number of these, was Margaret, Countess of Flanders, familiarly termed " Black Margaret," daughter of Baldwin, emperor of Constantinople. She had omitted to do homage for the five islands west of the Scheldt 2,—the lands of Alost and Waas, and the four manors,—for which reason William deprived her of these territories, and bestowed them on John of Avennes, the husband of his sister Adelaide 3. John was the son of Margaret, by her first husband, Bouchard, lord of Avennes, from whom she had been divorced in 1214, on the plea of too near a relationship between the parties, and that Bouchard had entered into holy orders, and was a deacon at the time of their marriage 4. She was afterwards married to William de Dampierre, a Burgundian nobleman, by whom she had three sons, William, Guy, and John; and upon her succession to the County, after her union with William, she declared her intention of leaving the whole of her states to the children of her second husband, alleging that the marriage with Bouchard of Avennes haying been declared null by the Pope, the issue of it must be illegitimate 5.

  1. Schmidt Hist, des Alle., liv. vi., chap. 9.
  2. As William himself held these as a fief of Flanders, and an arrier-fief of the empire, he was placed in the curious position of being vassal and suzerain in respect of the same lands.
  3. Meyer, Ann. Fland., lib. 9, ad ann. 1252, p. 77.
  4. Minei Dip. Belg., torn, i., p. 205.
  5. Mat. Par., 761.


The stigma thus cast on his birth, coupled with the fear of losing his inheritance, provoked John of Avennes to declare open war against his mother; but on the mediation of Louis IX* of France, a treaty was made, whereby John» after his mother's death, should inherit Hainaut, and William of Dainpierre, Flanders 1,2. Matters stood thus, when William made the transfer above mentioned, of the fiefs held by Flanders, under the empire, in favour of John of Avennes. 1253 This intelligence no sooner reached the ears of Margaret, than she assembled a powerful army, with the design of invading Zealand; and when her troops were in readiness to march, sent to demand homage of the emperor, as Count of Holland, for the five islands of the Scheldt. The emperor, flushed with the pride of his high station, haughtily answered, that "he would be no servant where he was master, nor vassal where he was lord* 3. The rage of Black Margaret at this contemptuous reply knew no bounds; and while she sought to amuse William by affecting to listen to the terms of accommodation proposed by Henry, Duke of Brabant, she dispatched her son, Guy of Dampierre, at the head of her army, into Zealand. The troops landed at West Kappel, where they sustained a signal defeat, in an engagement with the Hollanders, under Florence, brother of the emperor, and Guy, with his brother, John de Dampierre, were taken prisoners 4.

  1. Meyer, lib. ix., ad ann. 1246, p. 75. JEgid. de Roys., ad ami. 1246.
  2. The wisdom of this decision of St. Louis is much applauded by the French historians (Velly, Hist, de France, torn, iv., p. 353); but it seems more remarkable for expediency than for justice; since, if John of Avennes were legitimate, he was entitled to the whole of his mother's fiefs; if illegitimate, he had no claim to any part of them,
  3. Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 76—78.
  4. Johan. a Leid., lib. xxiii., cap. 3. Meyer, Ann. Flanel., lib. ix., ad ann. 1263, p. 77.


Upon the tidings of this misfortune, Margaret immediately dispatched ambassadors into France, to supplicate assistance from that kingdom, and to offer the County of Hainaut to Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX. Charles readily accepted the offer, and with as many troops as he could assemble on the spur of the occasion, marched into Hainaut, and possessed himself of Valenciennes, and several smaller towns. Hardly, however, had the emperor made his appearance in the field early in the ensuing ^1254 spring, than Charles shut himself up in Valenciennes to which the emperor laid siege, when the Duke made his escape from the town, and hastily retreated to France. The desertion of her ally rendered Black Margaret amenable to terms of peace which she had before haughtily and angrily refused 1,2. She agreed to surrender Hainaut, Alost, and the four manors, to John of Avenues; but the treaty was not finally con* eluded until after the death of William.

The West Frieslanders, who never submitted but with reluctance to the government of Holland, and lost no opportunity of making a straggle for their independence, had, during the absence of the Count in Germany, again revolted, and, according to their custom, inflicted great damage upon the Kemmerlanders.

  1. Velly, Hist. de France, torn, v., p. 221. Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 92—107.
  2. After the battle of West Kappel, Jobn of Avennes sent ambassadors to his mother, entreating her to listen to terms of accommodation, if not for his sake, for the sake of her sons, who were his prisoners. "My amis are in your hands/' answered the fierce old virago; "but not for that will I bend to your will: slay them, butcher! and devour one seasoned with pepper, and the other with salt and garlic!"—Mat. Par., p. 763. Such language in the mouth of a woman, and a princess, would give us no very advantageous opinion of the manners of these times.


1255 Some forts which the emperor had built within the boundaries of the province served rather to irritate their jealousy, than to check their turbulence; and at length William found it necessary to repair in person, with a powerful army, to West Friesland, in order to reduce it to obedience. From Alkmaar, he advanced in the depth of winter to Vroone, a considerable village of Friesland; before him lay the Heer Huygenward, a large drained lake, now entirely frozen over; here the Frieslanders awaited his approach, drawn up on the ice, and divided into small bands of foot, clad in linen frocks, and lightly armed, with half pikes, javelins, and Danish axes. 1256 The Hollanders, on the contrary, were in complete armor, and rode the heavy horses peculiar to their Country. The ice being half a foot thick, the emperor did not hesitate to attempt the passage; and the Frieslanders purposely retreating to where it was weakest, he galloped on in heedless pursuit of them, leaving his troops at some distance behind. The ice broke, when his horse sank up to his middle in the mud beneath, and in attempting to recover himself, threw his rider. Three or four of the Frieslanders immediately rushed upon him, affecting ignorance of who he was, and deaf to his prayers for mercy and offers of ransom, cruelly slaughtered him. His body was secretly buried at Hoogtwoude; and his army, after the death of their leader, retreated in disorder, and with heavy loss to Holland 1. This prince built the court-house at the Hague, whither he transferred the supreme court of Holland, from Haarlem 2.

  1. Mat. Par., 793. Melis Stoke, boek iii., bl. 114—120.
  2. Beka in Ott., p. 80.


The internal commerce of Holland appears even at this early period to have been considerable, since the expenses of the canal of Sparendam, commenced daring this reign, were appointed to be paid by tolls levied on the ships passing through it, from one penny to twelve pence, according to their size 1. The numerous and expensive undertakings in which William II. was engaged, during nearly the whole period of his government, rendered necessary to him the support and assistance of the towns which he purchased by the grant or confirmation of privileges so important, that in course of time they rendered them, as towns, integral and influential portions of the nation. Alkmaar, in 1254, was exempted from all burdens, except contributing to the wars with the West Frieslanders; and in the year 1245, Haarlem was declared free of the County tolls, on condition of providing sixty-four men at arms for the service of the Count, when required, and of paying him twenty pounds (Flemish) yearly, with the like sum when the Counts should marry, travel to the court of the emperor, or be made knights. 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 2. 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 in this reign 3.

  1. Recherches sur le Com., torn. L, p. 174.
  2. Boxhorn, Theat. Urb. Hoi., p. 131. Handvesten van Wm. II. Scriveliua "Haarlem," bl. 218.
  3. Boxhorn, Theat Urb. Hoi., p. 162.



As the constitution of Holland now begins to assume a regular and permanent form, it may be permitted to make a short digression, for the purpose of giving such an idea of its composition, before the union of 1579, as the notices scattered here and there through the different histories and descriptions of the Country will enable us to form; since no work exists, that I am aware of, which may present it to our view in a clear and connected whole.

The constitution of Holland is particularly worthy of observation, as carrying out to an extent greater than that of any other nation, the system of municipal government; a system which, whatever its defects, contributes perhaps more than any modification of civil polity with which we are hitherto acquainted, to promote the civilization, happiness, and freedom of societssy; and which, although it may be better adapted to the wants of a rising, than to the habits of a long-established community, has yet been found so beneficial to mankind in every varietssy of climate and situation, and to accommodate itself so admirably to people of totally opposite religions, laws, morals, and manners, that the rulers of every Country would do well to pause long, and consider carefully, before they abandon it 1. 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 defence, 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.

  1. For the advantages resulting from the system of municipal government in India, see the able and eloquent description of that Country in Alison's History of Europe, vol. vii. 'r and for its effects on the free cities of Germany, Eneas Sylvius De Mor. Germ., p. 10£5—1068; two nations which differ as much, perhaps, as possible in all the above-mentioned particulars.


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: a few of the towns, as Dordrecht, had 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 (similar to that of recorder in our own municipal corporations) 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 1 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.

  1. We have no English term for this office: that of County sheriff, (including the duties he usually performs by deputy,) is analogous to it in some respects: the word "Schout" is an abbreviation of " Schould-rechter," a judge of crimes, Grotius, Inleydinge tot de Hollandsche Rechtsgeleerdheyt, bl. 127.


This court was composed of the sheriffs, and had jurisdiction over all civil causes, and over minor offences 1, except in some towns, such as Leyden, Dordrecht, &c, where the power of trying capital crimes was specially given to them in the charters granted by the Counts 2: the schout was also bound to see the judgments of the vierschaar carried into execution 3. Besides the senate there was, in every town, a council of the citizens, called the Great Council, (Vroedschap 4,) 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 5. In Hoorn, where the government was on a more popular basis than in most of the other towns of Holland, this council comprised all the inhabitants possessing a capital of two hundred and fifty nobles, and from this circumstance was called the "Rykdom," or wealth. The offices of burgomasters and sheriffs being annual in this city, the members of the " Rykdom" met on a certain day in every year for the purpose of electing new ones to fill their places; the ballot was then cast for nine men, who afterwards chose three new burgomasters, and named one of the old to act with them during the year ensuing; twenty-one others were then ballotted for, from whom the schout, on the part of the Count, nominated the seven sheriffs 6.

  1. The power of trying offences which were not capital was termed the low jurisdiction.
  2. Boxhorn, Theatrium Urbium Holland., p. 100,108,341;
  3. Guicciardini, Belg. Des., torn, L, p. 197.
  4. Literally "council of wise men."
  5. Guicciardini, Belg. Des., torn. iL, p. 160.
  6. ' Velius "Handvest". in Chronyk van Hoorn, U. 21—60.



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 this town 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 1.

The number of burgomasters and sheriffs, as well as of members of the great councils, differed in different cities, but their duties and mode of election was similar in all, except Rotterdam, where, on the death or removal of any one of the great council, consisting of twenty-four members, the Count, or his schout, chose another from three persons named by the rest; the seven sheriffs and three burgomasters were here changed every year, and on the day of election twenty-four beans, five among them being black, were thrown into an urn, from which all the members of the great council drew: those to whom the black beans fell were precluded from filling the offices of the senate themselves, but with them lay the nomination of the double number, from which the Count selected the sheriffs and burgomasters 2.

  1. Guicc, Belg. Des., torn, ii., p. 100.
  2. Idem, p. 102.


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 (dekken), 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 1. 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 2. 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 3. 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 I 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.

  1. Vclius Hoorn, boek i., bl. 9. I
  2. Guicc, Belg. Des., torn. L, p. 180. I
  3. Vclius Hoorn, bl. 64. I


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 infrequently discharged them for him 1. This separate existence (if we may so term it,) 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 patriotism of the Dutchmail was but too often confined within the walls of his native city; and we shall have occasion more than once to remark, in the course of Dutch history, that the towns pursuing each their own private views, totally lose sight, for awhile at least, of the interests of the nation in general, and even of their own as members of it. 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 2.

  1. Velius Hoorn, bl. 90,147.
  2. Boxhorn, Theat. Urb. Holl., p. 191,198 and passim.


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 1: 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 2: 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 3: 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 4. 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.

  1. Chron. Egmond, cap. 30, 64. Johan. a Leid., lib. xxxi., cap. 13.
  2. Johan. a Leid., lib. xxxi., cap. 39. Melis Stoke, boek x., bl. 309.
  3. Grotius, "Inleydinge," &c, bl. 164.
  4. Groot Plakaat, deel. v., bl. 713.


To this court, where the Count generally presided in person, lay an appeal in civil causes from all the inferior courts in the state 1. 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 2,3, 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, Haarlem, Delft, Leyden, Amsterdam, and Gouda, enjoyed the right of sending deputies to the states 4. This, however, is not altogether the fact. It is true that treaties of peace and alliance were usually guaranteed by the great towns only, and that affairs relating both to domestic and foreign policy were frequently transacted by them in conjunction with the deputies of the nobles, the smaller towns (unwilling to incur the expense of sending deputies to the states,) being content to abide by their decision. But until about 1545 the small towns were constantly summoned to give their votes upon all questions of supply 5, nor did the deputies of the great towns consider themselves authorized to grant or anticipate the payment of any subsidies without their concurrence 6.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek x., bl. 895.
  2. The first treaty which appears guaranteed by the towns was made with Edward I. of England in 1281.
  3. Rym. Feed., torn, ii., p. 592.
  4. Observations on the United Provinces, by Sir W. Temple, chap, ii., p. 121. Hooft's Nederlandsche Historie, boek viii., bl. 258.
  5. Vide List of the Assemblies in "Regist der Daagvaarten van Holland;" door Aert van der Goes beschreven., passim. Edit, in British Museum.
  6. Aert van der Goes Reg., bl. 48, 98,329.


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, where the principal commerce in grain was carried on 1; 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 2 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 the Hague, or to any other place where they might happen to be residing.

  1. Aert van der Goes Reg., bl. 313.
  2. Regist. der Daagvoarten van Holland door Adrian van der Goes_ ann. 1547,W.25.


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 1. The deputies were called together to deliberate upon specific question 2 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 favour 3.

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 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 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.

  1. Velius Hoorn, boek ii., bl. 85. Grotius, de Ant. lleip. Bat., cap. 5. Aert van der Goes., Regist., bl. 114.
  2. Guicc., Belg. Des., torn, i., \\ 83.
  3. Vid. Instruction to the Advocate or Pensionary; Bor., deel. ii., boek xiii., bl. 21.


The Count being accustomed to reside for the most part out of the province, deputed two officers called " Rentmeesters" or treasurers, to collate the fiefs, and to manage the receipt and expenditure of his revenue; to them also, he directed all the decrees and edicts issued by himself or his council, which they were bound to publish and enforce, as well as to seize in his name all suspected persons in the open Country and villages, and bring them to trial before the magistrates of Middleburg and Zierikzee. One of these officers had the jurisdiction over West Zealand, the other over East Zealand 1.

It is impossible at this time to define exactly the powers formerly possessed by the states, since during the reign of feeble princes, or minors, they naturally sought to extend them, and often succeeded in so doing; while, on the other hand, they were considerably abridged by the more powerful and arbitrary Counts, particularly those of the house of Burgundy. The most essential, however, that of levying taxes, none of the sovereigns of Holland before Philip II. of Spain ever ventured to dispute; and the old feudal principle, that the nation could not be taxed without its own consent, wholly abandoned in France, and evaded in our own Country by the practice of extorting benevolences, was in Holland, except in some rare and single instances, constantly and firmly adhered to 2.

  1. Guicc, Belg. Des., torn, ii., p. 168—180.
  2. The imposts levied by the nobles on their domains are to be considered rather in the light of lords' rents than taxes, since the lands of the vassals were supposed to belong to the lords, and they were not levied on such as held their lands by military service; but as they were unlimited in amount, and almost every article of raw produce was liable to them, they were the cause of grievous oppression.


The Counts, on all occasions of extraordinary expense, were obliged to apply for funds to the assembly of the states, and these applications were called " petitions" (Beden), a word in itself denoting that the subsidy was asked as a favor, not claimed as a right. If the " petition" of the Count were granted by the states, a certain portion of the sum required was adjudged to each town, and to the open Country, (which in this respect was represented by the deputies of the nobility,) and raised by an assessment on houses (Schildtal), and a land-tax (Morgental). This tax was levied in the towns, not by any receiver or officer on the part of the Count, but by the senate, which was answerable for the payment of the quotas that the towns had bound themselves to furnish: the custom of levying the taxes on the County in general, was first introduced under the government of the house of Burgundy. The authority of the Count, however, was not so limited as it would at first appear. His ordinary revenues were so ample, as to preclude the necessity of making petitions to the states, except in cases of unusual expenditure; in addition to extensive private domains, and the profits of reliefs and of the fiefs which escheated to him as lord 1, he was entitled to the eleventh part of the produce of the land in West Friesland 2; and he had moreover the right of levying tolls on ships passing up and down the rivers; and customs upon all foreign wares imported into the Country 3.

  1. Grotius, Inleydinge, &c, boek ii., deel. 43.
  2. Idem, deel. 45.
  3. Alpert. de Div. Temp., lib. ii., cap. 20.


Besides these sources of revenue, he received considerable sums for such privileges as he granted to the towns 1; which were also accustomed to give gratuities when he was summoned to the court of the emperor; when his son, or brother was made a knight; and upon the marriage of himself, his son, brother, sister, or daughter 2. The important right also possessed by the towns of rejecting any measure proposed in the states, by a single dissentient voice, was considerably modified in practice, in consequence of the influence which the Count obtained over them by granting or withholding privileges at his pleasure. He likewise exercised, on many occasions, the power of changing the governments of the towns, out of the due course, but this was always considered as an act of arbitrary violence on his part, and seldom failed to excite vehement remonstrance, as well from the states, as from the town which suffered it.

Thus the constitution of Holland was, as we may gather from the preceding observations, rather aristocratic than republican, being exempt indeed from the slightest leaven of democracy in any of its institutions. Nevertheless, it was in many respects essentially popular in its spirit: although the government of the towns was lodged in the hands of but few individuals, yet as they were generally men engaged in manufactures and commerce, or (in later times) gentry closely connected with them, their wants, interests, and prejudices were identified with those of the people whom they governed; while the short duration of their authority prevented the growth of any exclusive spirit amongst them, and was a check upon the passing of laws detrimental to the community at large, since they themselves must so soon in the character of private citizens become subject to their operation.

  1. Velius Hoorn, boek i., bl. 13, 14. The Count acknowledges the receipt of six hundred new Dort guilders, (a coin worth at that time about a shilling and a penny,) for exemption from tolls at Sparendam, Heusden, and Friesland, and engages that neither the Count, nor any one in his name, should commit a citizen of Hoorn to prison. W, Proc-, ad ann. 1324.
  2. Boxhorn, Thcat. Urb. Holl., p. 187.


Special regulations also were adopted in every town, by which no two members of the government could be within a certain degree of relationship to each other; thus preventing the whole authority from being absorbed by one or more wealthy and powerful families, as was the case in the Italian republics, especially those of Florence and Genoa. The guilds, although they possessed no share in the administration of affairs, yet exercised considerable influence in the towns, from their numbers and wealth; the members also being all armed and organized for the public defense, were equally ready to assemble at a moment's notice for the purpose of obtaining the removal of any grievance, or the redress of any injury which they might conceive themselves, or the inhabitants in general, to have sustained.

The fundamental principles of the government, as recognized by the best authorities, were these:—that the sovereign shall not marry without the consent of the states; that the public offices of the County shall be conferred on natives only; the states have a right to assemble when and where they judge expedient, without permission from the Count; it is not lawful for the Count to undertake any war, whether offensive or defensive, without the consent of the states; all decrees and edicts shall be published in the Dutch language; the Count shall neither coin, nor change the value of money, without the advice of the states; he shall not alienate any part of his dominions; the states shall not be summoned out of the limits of the County; the Count shall demand "petitions" of the states in person, and not by deputy, nor shall he exact payment of any greater sum than is granted by the states; no jurisdiction shall be exercised except by the regular magistrates; the ancient customs and' laws of the state are sacred, and if the Count make any decree contrary to them, no man shall be bound to obey it 1.

  1. Groot Plakaat., deel. in., bl. 6,13. Grotius, de Antiq. Reip. Bat., cap. 0.


It is not-meant to be affirmed that these principles were always adhered to; on the contrary, they were frequently violated; and under the powerful princes of the house* of Burgundy, almost wholly neglected; but the Dutch constantly looked to them as the sheet-anchor of their* political existence, and seldom failed to recur to and enforce them whenever an opportunity offered itself for so doing.

I shall conclude this digression, in which I trust I have not sacrificed perspicuity to brevity, with a few remarks on the military force, the administration of justice, and the tenure of property in Holland.

The armies of Europe, before the reign of Charles VII. of France, who first introduced the custom of keeping on foot a regularly disciplined force, were little more than bands of pillaging mercenaries and disorderly troops of vassals; nor had Holland much advantage in this respect, as far as regarded offensive warfare. The towns indeed, on receiving their charters» generally engaged to supply the Count in his wars, with a certain number of men at arms, or vessels of war; but these burgher troops were far from composing a regular and disciplined militia; they were, on the contrary, accustomed to march separately, the citizens of each city under their respective banner, headed by their own officers, and distinguished by the livery of their town; and during the whole of the campaign, they usually remained in separate encampments 1.

  1. Velhis Hoorn., boek i., bl. 54.


In the same manner the barons and knights, when summoned by the Count to do military service, attended him at the head of their vassals, who were disinclined to obey any commands but theirs 1. From such a promiscuous and disorganized multitude, it is evident that neither celerity, steadiness, nor uniformity of action was to be expected; they were obliged to serve for a limited time only, during which they were entitled to receive pay 2; if, however, the war were undertaken without the consent of the nobles and " good towns," the service was merely voluntary, and during their own pleasure. In case of invasion, every man fit to bear arms, was bound to be provided with them, and to hold himself in readiness to defend his Country 3. The harems and knights wore armor, and served on horseback, as in other Countries; but the lesser vassals, the burgher troops and the volunteers, composed the infantry of their armies: these were armed with long knives, and heavy clubs called * Staven" or "Kluppels, having sharp iron points at the end 4, Danish axes, pikes, and javelins 5. In battle they usually knelt on the right knee, holding a shield in the left hand, while with the right they threw the javelin, or when in close combat used the sword 6. The crossbow was not much known among them until the year 1440 7.

  1. Johan. a Leid., Chron. Belg., lib. xxxL, cap. 6.
  2. Melis Stoke, boek viii., bl. 126. Grotius, Inleydinge, &c, bl. 163.
  3. Van Loon, Aloude Regeeringe van Hoi., bl. 327, 331. .
  4. Huydecop. op Stoke, deel. iii., bl. 82.
  5. Mat. Par., p. 793. He describes the Freizlandere as peculiarly skilful in the use of the javelin.
  6. Idem, p. 253.
  7. Velius Hoorn, boek i., bl. 34.


Before the invention of gunpowder, the Dutch employed in their sieges the instruments common during the middle ages. The " Blyde" and "Hoestair engines for throwing stones, resembling the ancient balista and catapulta; towers built with stages, " Evenhoogen," to approach the walls 1; and " katten," or covered galleries, under which the besiegers dug mines 2.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Counts of Holland first began to take foreign troops into their pay; but it does not appear that the County was ever infested with those bands of pillagers, which under the name of Free Companies, desolated and ruined France and Italy for so long a period.

The Dutch never, before the union of the provinces, kept any naval force at sea: the high-admiral only having the command of a few small and half-armed guard-ships. On the breaking out of a maritime war, it was customary to detain a sufficient number of merchant ships (many of which were kept by their owners in a condition to defend themselves) without regard to whether they were freighted or empty, or whether belonging to natives or foreigners; they were armed and equipped by the Count or his Stadtholder , from stores which were always kept in readiness, and a due and sufficient sum was paid to the proprietssors for their use; to these were added the vessels of war which the towns sometimes engaged to furnish instead of troops, and those which they contributed voluntarily, in case they had any particular interest in the issue of the war 3.

  1. Huydecop. op. Stoke, dcel. iii., bl. 281, 290, 312, 313.
  2. Du Catige, Gloss in verb. Cntus.
  3. Guicc. Belg. Des., torn, ], p. 77. Grotius, Annal. Belg., lib. i., p. 5.


Holland has, from the earliest times, been distinguished by the sedulous care with which she has provided for the personal liberty and security of her citizens; not that it is meant to affirm, that in this, any more than in any other Country, the rights of individuals were not often violated in the rage of civil tumult and disorder; but the first principles of justice were never either corrupted or undermined; and the Dutch had always laws and institutions for the protection of the weak against the powerful, which they might fall back upon when calmness and reason returned. The administration of justice in the towns was, as we have observed, lodged in the hands of the respective magistrates; the schout, whose office it was to arrest suspected persons, had no power to do so, unleés " flagrante delicto," without the consent of the burgomasters; he was then bound to bring the accused, withifl three days, before the " vierschaar," or tribunal of the sheriffs 1; this court was held with open doors, and liberty allowed for all persons to go in and out at pleasure* Thus publicly the schout brought forward his charge against the accused, and demanded that punishment should be inflicted on him. The accused was allowed the benefit of any advocate he might choose, and to clear himself of the charge by such means as he thought best, being always confronted with the witnesses 2. Neither if he were too poor to pay an advocate was he left unprotected; pleaders of the first ability being appointed to defend such persons, who performed that office with equal zeal and integrity.

  1. So that those by whose authority the accused was arrested, were not accustomed to sit in judgment on him.
  2. This admirable regulation contrasts strongly with the usage of our own Country, where, in trials for treason, the accused were seldom, or never, confronted with the witnesses.


If the crime were of a trifling nature, the accused was dismissed upon security that he would appear when called upon, and his trial was postponed until the more important cases were disposed of: in case it turned out that the charge were made without foundation, the schout was obliged to pay the expenses. This wise provision protected the citizens against vexations accusations on the part of the Count, while the power of arrest being lodged in the hands of his officer, was not likely to be used on frivolous pretexts, at the instigation either of the municipal authorities, or of private enemies. If the crime proved against the accused were of a heinous nature, he was put to the torture. Although the Netherlanders were not sufficiently in advance of the rest of Europe to abolish this barbarous and fallacious mode of ascertaining the guilt or innocence of the accused, yet it was used with the utmost precaution. Before the judges could order its execution, they were bound to have the consent of the great council of the town, and the culprit was deprived of his burgessship: the presence of two of the sheriffs was necessary when the schout inflicted the torture, and he was obliged to stop at their command. The culprit was required to repeat his confession the next morning in some public place of the city, so that neither he, nor any one else, might afterwards affirm that it had been extorted by torture. Being brought again before the magistrates, sentence was pronounced against him, and executed under the inspection of the schout within twenty-four hours. Sepulture was denied to such as were executed for capital crimes, unless a particular exception were made, which was sometimes purchased for a sum of money. Rather less ceremony was observed in the use of the torture upon foreigners residing in the state, but in other respects they were treated as natives 1.

  1. Guicc, Belg. Des., torn, i., p. 193,197.


Offences in the open Country were tried before the council of Holland, or before the Count's bailiff, assisted by his vassals, or by the so-called " well-born men;" that is, such as, not being noble, were descended from free and honorable ancestors, had the right of bearing arms, of riding with one spur, and were scot free 1. If the accused were a vassal belonging to the domain of a baron, he was tried by a court composed of the lord and his vassals; but m case the lord possessed only the low jurisdiction, and the crime committed, were capital, it was necessary to bring him before the court of Holland. There is no evidence (that I can discover) of anything like a trial by jury.

It would be vain to attempt to give an account of the several punishments awarded to offences, as they differed in different places, being regulated for the most part in the special charters of the towns, often by prescriptive customs, and sometimes by the discretion of the judge. In cases of homicide, besides the punishment inflicted by the state, it was necessary to make an atonement and reconciliation (zoen) with the relatives of the deceased; the mode of effecting which was so curious, that some account of it will scarcely be deemed tedious. When a person suffered death by the act of another, the next of kin of the deceased was bound immediately to make his complaint before the Count's bailiff; in former times, in presence of the dead body, but from the year 1349, when, for reasons which will appear hereafter, cases of homicide became more frequent, so that it was often found impossible to hear them within a requisitely short space of time, it was usual to cut off the right hand of the corpse, and preserve it instead; and subsequently, the cupidity, of the officers of the court introduced the custom of giving money to avoid this ceremony.

  1. Grot., InL, &c, b. i., deel. 14.


The complainant must then, with four others of the relations of the deceased, to be chosen by those of the accused, or by the judge, swear four times, that he will accuse no man unjustly. After this he made his alarm (" wapenroep 1") over the open grave prepared for the deceased, declaring to God in heaven, to the Count, to the bailiff of the district, and to all good people, how, where, when, and by whom, he had been willfully put to death, and that thereby, the peace of God in heaven, the peace of the Count of Holland, and the peace of the bailiff, was broken, and praying that justice might be done for such injury. This being ended, the relations of the deceased, to the third degree, were at liberty to seize the delinquent; and it they slew him, were bound only to pay a fine of four farthings, and lay the weapon wherewith he was slain on his body 2; or atonement might be made before the burial of the deceased, which was likewise done over the open grave, between the relations to the third degree on both sides, and under the mediation of competent persons chosen in the district. The delinquent then appearing, sued for pardon on his knees, and a sum of money was paid by his relations to those of the deceased, proportioned to his station (the life of a noble being valued more highly than that of a person not noble), and the degree of criminality of the delinquent, such as whether the homicide amounted to murder, that is, were committed in secret, by lying in wait, and taking the victim unawares, and from motives of malice, hatred, or anger; or whether it were done in open combat, with lawful or unlawful, equal or unequal weapons 3, and what had given rise to the quarrel.

  1. Literally, call to arms,
  2. If this happened, no atonement would be required.
  3. Thus, if a sudden affray occurred between two burghers, armed for the performance of their military duties, and one of them were slain, the degree of criminality of the slayer would be reckoned comparatively leas.


Atonement being thus made, a reconciliation (zoen) followed, the parties joining hands, and swearing to keep the peace towards each other " so long as the wind blew, and the cock crew;" and he who violated this peace, incurred the loss of his right hand. In the year 1460, however, those relations of the delinquent who could prove themselves to have had no share in, or knowledge of, the homicide, were exempt from the payment of the atonement. Maiming was estimated at one-third in proportion to homicide, and atonement was made for lesser wounds, without an alarm, by payments in proportion to their severity. A person guilty of homicide was bound, moreover, to make compensation (vergoeding 1) by way of annuity, to the widow, children, or such kindred of the deceased as were accustomed to be supported by his labour or bounty. The degree of guilt of the offender, though it made a difference in the punishment and the atonement, made none in the compensation; to which the physician who occasioned the death of a patient through ignorance, the driver of a carriage, or the captain of a vessel, who, by his negligence or want of skill, sacrificed the lives of those entrusted to his care, were equally liable. If the Count pardoned the offender, the wife and children were at liberty to insist upon his making a humble confession of his guilt, that he should give place to them wherever they met, and bestow a donation on the poor. In cases of purely accidental, or that which amongst ourselves comes under the denomination of justifiable, homicide, neither compensation nor atonement were required 2.

  1. The "weregild" of our Saxon ancestors seems to have comprehended both the atonement and the compensation.
  2. Grot., InL, &c, b. iiL, deel. 32, 33.


The law of inheritance was not, before the end of the sixteenth century, uniform throughout the County of Holland. In North Holland 1 the ancient law of Friesland, termed "Aasdomsregt 2" prevailed; by which the maxim was held, that "the nearest blood takes the good 3;* with the modification* however, that "property does not easily ascend 4;" otherwise it was so strictly interpreted, that on the death of an intestate, his living children inherited his estate, as a degree nearer to him in blood, to the exclusion of the children of a son who may have died before him; but if no children were left, then the grandchildren came in, before the parents, who stood next in succession 5; then followed the brothers and sisters, without regard to whether they were of the whole or half blood; and in this case, the children of one deceased, stood in the place of their parent. In default of brothers and sisters, and their descendants, the uncles and aunts of the intestate inherited, whether by the father's or mother's side, regard being had to proximity alone, and so on through all the degrees of kindred.

  1. Likewise Friesland, Utrecht, the Veluwe, and Zutphen.
  2. From " Azing," an old Friesland word, signifying judge, or president of a court of the so-called " well-born men." Vid. p. 138.
  3. " Het naeste bloed beurt het goet."
  4. " Het goet en klimt niet gaern."
  5. Thus, if a man inherited an estate from his father, and died without issue before his mother, the estate fell to her.


In Zealand and South Holland, the rule of succession termed the "Schependomsregt," and supposed to be derived from the old law of the Franks, held, that u property must go back from whence it came;" not applying, however, to children and their descendants who inherited first, representative succession being admitted; in default of direct descendants the parents succeeded in case both were alive; but if one were dead, the estate did not go to the survivor, because it could not be supposed to have come from thence, but to the heirs of the deceased parent. Brothers and sisters of the half-blood, were entitled to a moietssy only of the share of those of the whole; unless in case one parent survived, when the brothers and. sisters of the whole blood by the side of the deceased parent, and the half by the side of the survivor, took an entire share 1.

The inheritance of real and personal property under these laws, followed the usual rule with respect to places where customs differ. Thus, if a man whose land was situated in a part of the Country where the "Schependomsregt" prevailed, happened to die intestate in a place subject to the "Aasdomsregt," the succession to his real estate followed the former rule, while the distribution of his personal property was guided by the latter, and visa versa 2. In 1580, the states promulgated a new law of inheritance, amalgamating in Some degree both these customs, which was pretty generally adopted. Parents could not by will pass over or disinherit their children, or leave more than two-thirds of their property away from them, nor more than the half if their number exceeded four, unless in consequence of certain specified offences committed by the latter against their parents. Property, both real and personal, except lands held by feudal tenure, was equally divided amongst all the children 3.

  1. Grotius, Inleydinge, &c, b. ii., deel. 28.
  2. Idem, deel. 26.
  3. Idem, deel. 13.


A considerable portion of the land in Holland was held by feudal tenure, fiefs being of two kinds; such as were held immediately of the Count, termed fiefs proper; and arrier fiefs, or those held under his vassals» since no man who was not himself a vassal of the Count, could be lord of a fief in the County. These were again divided into perfect and imperfect, or noble and base fiefs; of which the latter reverted to the lord on failure of direct male heirs, unless the succession of females in the right line were expressly provided for in the original grant. These fiefs did not admit of representative succession; but descended to a younger son surviving his parent, in preference to the children of an elder, who had died before him. The perfect or noble fief, did not revert to the lord, so long as any kindred remained of the feoffee, of either sex, direct or collateral, and whether by the male or female (sword or spindle) side to the tenth degree, males being preferred before females, and the elder to the younger; thus, on failure of issue, and of brothers and sisters, the estate would devolve on the son of a sister, in preference to the daughters of the brothers, and in default of males to the eldest female, whether she were the daughter of a sister, or a brother; in like manner, on failure of nearer kin, the estate of the feoffee would devolve to the eldest male, and in default of males, to the eldest female of the cousins-german, without regard to whether they were of the father's or mother's side. Of the latter kind, were those fiefs which the possessors of free (or allodial) estates had created, by surrendering their lands into the hands of the Count, or some powerful noble, to be received of him again in fee, in order to become thereby entitled to his protection 1; many were so created during the troubled times which will hereafter come under our notice.

  1. Guicciardini, Des. Belg., torn, ii., p. 158. Grotius, Inleydinge, &c, b. ii., deel. 41.


All fiefs in the County were held by liege, none by simple homage, which was customary chiefly among sovereign princes to each other. The obligation on the part of the lord towards his vassal was protection and defense (schout ende scherm); on that of the vassal, homage and allegiance, whereby he bound himself to be faithful to his lord; to follow his standard in war 1; to seek his advantage; to counsel him to the best of his ability; to aid and assist him; and to reveal to him anything that came to his knowledge likely to do him an injury. Besides homage, a relief Was due from the vassal to the lord upon taking possession of a fief, the amount of which was generally specified in the grant, and often consisted of nothing more than a falcon, greyhound, spurs, or such like acknowledgment, which was sometimes commuted for money. If no relief were specified, the amount was fixed at ten carolus guilders for a large or middling fief, and one year's fruits for a small fief. The large fiefs were such as comprised the high or low jurisdiction, or were valued *t* an annual income of three hundred guilders (about thirty pounds); those which produced less than three hundred, and more than ten guilders, were reckoned as middling, and such as were under ten, were called small fiefs; of these, the latter were generally held by what we term soccage tenure, that is, the payment of a yearly rent 2.

  1. Such only as held their fiefs by military tenure were properly bound to this condition; and there is little doubt that in foreign wars the attendance of the vassals on the lord was confined to them; but in the private wars of the nobles, the obligation to aid and assist comprised within itself the taking up arms in defence of the lord, and it appears that all the tenants on his estate, let the nature, of their tenure be what it might, were accustomed to perform this service when called upon; Indeed it is scarcely to be imagined that they would expose themselves to the effects of his anger by refusing. Ann. Eg., cap. 84, et passim. The lord of Egmond here obliges all his " villani" to lay siege to the abbey.
  2. Grot Inleyd., b. ii., deel. 41.


Homage was to be rendered by the heir, within a year and six weeks from the time the fief had devolved to him; after which he was permitted to enjoy it only upon payment of a double relief. Minors were to do homage by their guardians; but were equally liable to the payment of a double relief in ease of neglect. On the death of the lord, his vassals were bound to do homage to his successor; but were not required to pay a fresh relief 1. I find nowhere any mention of wardship (the custody of the lands of a vassal during his minority), or marriage (the power of disposing of a female vassal in marriage), as rights claimed by the lord, nor any trace of their existence.

Fowling, and fishing in the rivers and inland waters (except with a rod and line, which was open to all), appertained solely to the Count, or to such persons as he might grant permission; every one of noble birth was at liberty to take hares and rabbits on his estate; but it was penal for any person of lower degree to destroy them, even upon his own land, whatever devastation they might commit. The chase of the larger animals was reserved for the Count, except that each baron (vryheer) was allowed to hunt one hart in the year 2.

Fiefs might be lost by the tenant, either through escheat or forfeiture. Escheatment of a fief occurred through failure of heirs, which in imperfect fiefs not infrequently happened, especially during seasons of war or civil commotions; and in this case, the earlier Counts were accustomed to grant the fief to the nearest collateral heir, upon payment of a reasonable sum; forfeiture ensued as a consequence of the infidelity of the vassal, or .of an injury or offence committed by him against his lord; in the former case, the lord might enter at once upon the fief, by virtue of his right of dominion; but in the latter, he was obliged to abide the issue of an action at law.

  1. Grot Inleyd., deeL 43.
  2. Idem, b. i., deel. 37; b. ii., deel. 1.


If a lord, by the judgment of a court composed of his vassals, were found guilty of neglecting the protection or defense of any one of them, he forfeited his right to the allegiance of that vassal, whose estate became thenceforth free, or allodial; or a lord might voluntarily relinquish his rights over his vassal, when the effect on the estate of the latter was the same; but the lord of a fief which had become so by the voluntary surrender of the proprietssor, could not transfer his rights to any one inferior to himself in station or power 1. The lord could not withhold his consent to the transfer of a perfect fief, whether by gift, exchange, or sale; but the Count of Holland, by paying the price agreed upon between the vendor and purchaser, within a year and a day of the conclusion of the bargain, might stand in the place of the latter. Whether the lords of arrier-fiefs possessed this right appears doubtful. In the transfer of imperfect fiefs, the consent of the lord was not claimed as a right, but asked as a favor, or purchased for a consideration 2.

It seems probable, that a species of copyhold estates were often created by those proprietssors of allodial lands, who, not being themselves vassalsof the Count, were not competent to grant fieft. The word copyhold (Erfhuur, or hereditary lease,) is used, because the tenure resembles that so termed in this Country, such as it became in course of time, more than any other; though different in its origin, since it was never supposed to be held at the will of the lord, but when not perpetual, (similar to our customary freehold,) held either for a term of years, or restricted to certain heirs of the first possessor; in the latter case, custom provided, as amongst us, that the estate being demanded, and the services of the copyhold performed, the lord could not refuse to admit the next heir of the tenant on his death.

  1. Grot. Inleyd., &c, b. ii., decl. 42.
  2. Idem, deel. 43.


The succession to a copyhold estate extended to all the heirs of the tenant, female as well as male, and even to illegitimate children through the mother. It differed from that to a perfect fief in the latter particular, and also inasmuch as it was in its nature divisible, (though the lord was not bound to recognize the division, but might require the services of the copyhold from whichever tenant he pleased,) whereas the fief could not be divided, except with the consent of the lord, when the same relief was due for each part, as for the whole.

A copyhold might be forfeited by the tenant» through omitting to pay the lord's rent for three years successively, or neglecting to perform the requisite services; but the lord could not, in such cases, enter upon the lands of his tenant, except by virtue of a decision of a court of law; and if he foiled to make his claim during the third part of a century, the estate of the tenant became a freehold 1.

Lands were likewise held by yearly tenancy, and the holders of these, as well as copyholds, were classed under the denomination of villeins 2; but it is difficult to determine what services were exacted from these villeins, or whether they were precisely defined.

  1. Grot. Inleyd., b. ii., deel, 40, 41.
  2. Villani; not exactly in the sense we use the term, but as the inhabitants of " Tills," farm or Country houses. Ann. Egm., cap. 84.


In the surrender of the lordship of some copyhold lands, by the abbey of Egmond to the lord of Egmond, are mentioned: the duty-fish (hofvisch), or the choice of one out of every boat load of fish landed from the sea; the mill-due (molenrecht), that is, a portion of every sack of wheat carried to the mill to be ground (it being unlawful either to erect or remove a mill without permission of the lord); and the carriage due (waagenrecht), or the right of using the carts and horses belonging to the tenants at pleasure. Upon these lands, besides a yearly rent, payments were due of * silver, pepper, capons, sheep, platters, and such like things," probably in the nature of heriots. Yearly tenants, besides the annual rent and other " expenses, exactions, and contributions," appear to have been bound to keep the dikes, sluices, and dams on the estate in repair 1.

It seems doubtful whether any portion of the inhabitants of Holland were in a state of actual servitude or bondage. Grotius speaks of them as at all times divided into the three classes of nobles, well-born men, and common people (gemeene luyden), without any mention of serfs as having ever existed. In ancient times, however, the distinction between a noble and a person not noble, was very considerable; the life of the former was valued at a higher price than that of the latter, in making atonement for a homicide; the nobles alone were eligible to the supreme court, or council of state, and were exempt from the public taxes; and there were some cases in which one not noble could not give either information or evidence against a noble 2.

  1. Aimalefl Egmund., cap. 73.
  2. Grot. Inleyd., &c, b. i., deel. 14.


It is evident, indeed, that the condition of the tenants on the estates of the nobility was very far inferior in security and happiness to that enjoyed by the inhabitants of the towns, particularly where the lord exercised jurisdiction in his domain; since it must have been next to impossible for the inferior vassals and villeins to obtain redress of any wrong or injury he might commit against them, when the tribunal in which they must seek it, was a court composed of the vassals themselves 1.

Nevertheless, the circumstances of their being always prepared with arms for the common defence, (which they were apt to use in their own when occasion required,) and the facility with which they might remove to the towns, where they would be sure to find employment, shelter, and protection, would be likely to prove a powerful check upon the commission of any acts of gross tyranny or oppression.

  1. An appeal indeed, in all civil cases, lay to the supreme court of Holland; but this, from the difficulty and expense attendant on it, could be but very rarely resorted to, particularly in the earlier times.

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