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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



Florence V. Minority. Government of Florence, his Uncle. Char-ten granted to Zealand. Treaty with Flanders. Death of Florence the Elder. Otho of Guelderlana\ Agent. Revolt of the Kemmerlanders. Florence assumes the Government. Bis Marriage. War with West Friesland. Alliance with England. Subjugation of West Friesland. Revolt of the Zealand Noblesy and War with Flanders. Pacification. Pretensions to the Scottish Crown. Rupture of the Friendship between Holland and England. Treaty with France. Conspiracy of the Nobles. Death and Character of Florence. Minority of John I. State of Holland. Divided Regency. John of Avenues. War with Utrecht and West Friesland. And Flanders. Return of Count John from England. Departure of John of Avenues. Wolferd van Borselen made Governor. Finally subdues the West Frieslanders. Peace with Utrecht. Ambition and Influence of Borselen. Dispute with Dordrecht. Death of Borselen and of the Bailiff of South Holland. Return of John of Avennes. Death of the Count. County transferred to the Family of Hainaut.


1255 Florence was born during the time that the emperor, his father, 1 was besieging Charles of Anjou in Valenciennes, and was consequently scarcely two years old at the time of his death; he was, nevertheless, immediately acknowledged by the nobles, and the government of the County, during his minority, was confided to-his uncle Florence, who had gained considerable reputar tipn in the war with Margaret of Flanders. Equally inclined with his brother to favour the increase and advancement of the towns, the governor granted charters of privileges to nearly all those of Zealand which did not yet enjoy them 2.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek ill., bl. 110. Schiyver's Graaven, i. deel., bl. 507.
  2. k Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 181.


He likewise concluded the treaty of peace with Flanders, begun in the last year: it was agreed that the Counts of Holland should continue to hold the five islands as a fief of Flanders; that the Count of Flanders should receive ten thousand pounds (Flemish) from Holland; and that either Florence, or the young Count, when he came of age, should marry Beatrice, daughter of Guy of Dampierre: Guy, and his brother John, were released from their imprisonment upon payment of heavy ransoms 1. 1258 The County did not long enjoy the pacific government of Florence the Elder, since he was killed in a tournament at Antwerp, little more than two years after his accession 2. Upon his death, Adelaide, Countess-dowager of Hainaut, the widow of John of Avennes, assumed the guardianship of the young Count, and the administration of affairs, under the title of Governess of Holland; but the nobles, disdaining to submit to female rule, invited Otho of Guelderland, cousin of Adelaide, to undertake the government of the County, until Count Florence should attain his majority; the person of the infant prince still remaining, nevertheless, under the care of his aunt 3.

During the administration of Otho, a dangerous revolt broke out among the people of Kemmerland, who, uniting with those of Friesland and Waterland, declared their determination to expel all the nobles from the Country, and raze their castles to the ground. They first took possession of Amsterdam, the lord of which, Gilbert van Amstel, either unable to make resistance against the insurgents, or desirous of employing them to avenge a private quarrel he had with the Bishop of Utrecht, consented to become their leader, and immediately conducted them to the siege of that city.

  1. Meyer, Ann. Fland., lib. ix., ad ann. 1256, p. 78.
  2. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 184.
  3. Idem, bl. 180—101.


Perceiving the multitude approach, the citizens ran to arms, and hastily manned the walls and bulwarks of the town. A parley ensued, when one of the Kemmerlanders vehemently exhorted the besieged to banish all the nobles from Utrecht, and divide their wealth among the poor. Fired by his oration, the people quitted the walls, seized upon the magistrates, whom they forced to resign their offices, drove them, with all the nobles, out of the town, and admitting the besiegers within the gates, made a league of eternal amity with them. After remaining a short time at Utrecht, the insurgents returned to Kemmerland, and laid siege to Haarlem, which was gallantly defended by the nobles and burgesses, until John Persyn, a soldier of the garrison, leaving the town in disguise, set fire to several houses and villages belonging to the besiegers. The Kemmerlanders then, seeing the conflagration behind them, hastily retreated, and being pursued by the men of Haarlem, a considerable number were slain, and the remainder dispersed. Utrecht shortly after submitted to the authority of the bishop. The cause of this insurrection appears to have been, the extortion practiced upon the people by the nobles, most of whom, as we have observed, exercised the right of levying taxes in their own domains 1.

1271 On the death of the Count of Guelderland, Florence, being then seventeen, took the conduct of affairs into his own hands, and about the same time completed his marriage with Beatrice of Flanders, as agreed upon by the treaty of 1256 2. Early in the next year he made preparations for an expedition into West Friesland, for the purpose of avenging his father's death. He carried on the war for five years, with various success and leaving his subjects in that province still unsubdued, repaired in 1277 to Bois le Dae, where he received knighthood from John, Duke of Brabant.

  1. Beka in Johan., p. 92, 93,
  2. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 193,194.


On his return to Holland, he banished, for some unknown cause of offence, his aunt Adelaide, and all her children, from his dominions 1.

1282 After a few years of repose, Florence, still intent on avenging the death of his father, again sailed to West Friesland, accompanied by a large fleet of ships, and effected a landing at Wydenesse: the Friez-landers, on the tidings of his approach, assembled in great numbers near the village of Schellinghout, where they were attacked by the Holland troops, and after a desperate battle, totally defeated; twelve hundred remained dead on the field; the rest were put to flight, and many more killed in the pursuit. Florence, with his army, followed them as far as Hoogtwoude, which was plundered and burnt. Here an aged man among the prisoners, upon a promise that his life should be spared, discovered to him the spot where the body of his father had been buried. No sooner had he obtained this long-wished-for treasure, than he left Friesland, carrying the corpse to Middleburg, where he caused it to be interred with royal magnificence 2. Upon this occasion, he dispatched a letter containing an account of his victory over his " mortal enemies,'' to Edward I., king of England, with whom he was at this time upon terms of the closest alliance 3. The trade carried on by the Hollanders with England was now become highly valuable to both nations; the former giving a high price for the English wools for their cloth manufactures, while they procured thence (chiefly, perhaps from Cornwall) their silver for the purpose of coinage 4.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek ir., bh 195—204.
  2. Beka in Johan., p. 94. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 211—215.
  3. Rym. Feed., toni. ii., p. 223.
  4. Rym. Feed., p. 284.


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 1.

1281 About the same time, with the grant of this per mission, a treaty was set on foot for the marriage of Margaret, the daughter of Count Florence, with Alphonso, 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, eferred to arbitrators chosen on both sides 2.

1285 The birth of a son to Florence shortly after, and the subsequent death of Alphonso, rendered this contract ineffectual; but prior to the latter event, another  marriage was agreed upon, between John, the Count's infant son, and Elizabeth, daughter of Edward; the king engaging to pay fifty thousand livres 3 (tournois) as her portion, and the Count settling upon her a dowry of six thousand livres 4. According to the terms of the treaty, John was sent to the court of the King of England, where he remained until the completion of the marriage 5.

  1. Rym. Feed., p. 59, 62,156.
  2. Idem, torn, ii., p. 175,176, 177.
  3. 9114/. 13#. 4d. Recherches sur le Com., torn. L, p. 176, note 41.
  4. 1093/. 15*. Od. Idem.
  5. Melis Stoke, 2 deel., bl. 239. Ryin. Feed., torn, ii., p. 307.


The friendship cemented by this alliance, was highly advantageous to the commerce of Holland: the staple of English wool was fixed at Dordrecht 1, a town of extensive trade in wines, grain, salt, iron, wood, and cloths: and the subjects of the Count were permitted to fish, without restriction, on the English coast at Yarmouth 2. This is the first grant we find of a privilege, which the Dutch continued to enjoy, with little interruption, until the time of Cromwell.

1286 After the departure of the army of Holland from West Friesland, the inhabitants renewed their hostilities, and made several unsuccessful attacks upon a fort which the Count had built at Wydenesse; but a dreadful storm, which this year laid the whole of the Country on both sides the Zuyderzee entirely under water 3, proved the means of enabling Count* Florence to effect their complete subjugation. The floods rose to such a height, that every part of the province was accessible to a numerous fleet of small vessels called cogs, well manned, and placed under the command of Theodore* lord of Brederode; the inhabitants of the several towns, being unprovided with a sufficient number of boats to oppose those of the Count, found their communication with each other wholly cut off; and thus reduced to a state of blockade, and unable to render the slightest mutual assistance, they severally acknowledged the authority of Count Florence 4.

  1. The chronicler observes, that " this did not last long, for it was an English Contract:"
  2. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 243, 244. Rym. Feed., torn, ii., p. 688.
  3. The flood overwhelmed fifteen islands in Zealand, and destroyed fifteen thousand persons. jEgid. de Roy a, ad aim. 1287.
  4. Wilhelm. Procurator ran Egmond ad ann. 1287.


In the summer of the same year, Florence repaired in person to West Friesland, built strong castles in different parts of the province, made great improvements in the roads, granted a charter and freedom from tolls to the city of Medemblick, and took such pains to conciliate the good-will of the Frieslanders, that before the end of his reign we shall find them acting the part of affectionate and devoted subjects 1. It was fortunate for Count Florence that he was able to effect thus speedily the pacification of Friesland, since the discontents which had spread among his nobles, ere long, raised him up other enemies.

The evils of feudal government began at this period to be severely felt: the nobles, safe in their fortified castles, and supreme in their petty domains, exercised unbounded sway over their vassals, whose right of appeal to the superior lord against any act of tyranny or aggression on the part of their masters, proved a mere phantom, in the hands of the poor and feeble, against the rich and powerful. Rendered thus subservient by fear, and alike unable and unwilling to refuse obedience to any command of their lord, however unlawful, the vassalsof every noble formed a band of satellites ready at all times to do his bidding, whether it were to make war upon those with whom he had any cause of feud, to plunder the peaceful and industrious trader, or to resist the authority of his sovereign; to whom, indeed, supported by them, and protected by his privileges, he yielded just as much deference as he thought fit, and no more.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek ir., bl. 224—227.


We shall therefore find the able monarchs, who at this time governed the principal nations of Europe, Philip IV. of France, and Edward I. of England, agreeing in the system of policy which tended to encourage the rising wealth and influence of the towns, in order to depress by their means the exorbitant power of the nobles, dangerous alike to the authority of the monarch and the security of the people. The feudal system was, it is true, considerably modified in Holland, since th8 nobles do not appear to have ever enjoyed the privilege of coinage, as in France, Spain, England 1, and some parts of Germany; a privilege, indeed, which could hardly have been tolerated among a mercantile people, such as the Dutch; the high jurisdiction also, or right of trying capital offences, belonged to them only in a few instances: but on the other hand, they possessed an unlimited power of taxation in their states, atid exercised it sometimes to an extent which, as we have seen, aroused the people to revolt. The Counts, in their attempts to restrain their excesses, found themselves destitute alike of the influence generally possessed by the sovereign of a large state* and the reverence which the name of king naturally inspires; while they were, at the same time, deficient to a far greater degree in actual coercive force 2.

  1. This injurious custom, as well as the exercise of the high jurisdiction, appears to have been carried to a great extent in England, if we may judge from the quotation of Du Cange from Wilhelmus Neubrigensis : " Erant in Anglie quodaramodo. tot Reges, vel potius tyranni, quot Domini castellorum, habentes singuli percussuram proprii numismatis, et potestatem subditis Regio more dicendi juris," Du Cange, in Moneta.
  2. We shall find that «o late as the year 1403, when the power of the nobility had greatly declined, that the Count was obliged to strengthen his army with foreign auxiliaries, in order to reduce a single rebellious noble to obedience.


So much the more, therefore, would they be desirous of creating a balance to their power, and accordingly, the predecessors of Count Florence bad, from the beginning of this century, granted valuable charters of immunities, from time to time, to the different towns; and Florence himself on all occasions favored their interests, and those of the people, in opposition to the nobles, Sutch conduct naturally excited the jealousy of that order, and a tax of the fourth penny, arbitrarily levied by the Count on Zealand 1, provoked the principal lords of the province, headed by Wolferd van Boraelen, and John van Renesse, to raise the standard of rebel* lion, and to offer their allegiance to Guy, Count of Flanders. 1287 The Counts of Flanders were never found to turn a deaf ear to any proposal of creating annoyance and disquietss to their Jlolland neighbours, and Guy readily consented to make common cause with the nobles; and joining his troops to those they had collected, laid siege to Middleburg, which city agreed to surrender, if not relieved within a certain time 2. On the advance of Count Florence to Zeirikzee, at the head of a large body of land and sea forces, for the purpose of raising the siege of Middleburg, further hostilities were suspended by the mediation of John, Duke of Brabant; Guy evacuated Walcheren, on the promise of Florence to pardon, and restore to their estates, all the nobles engaged in the rebellion, except Wolferd van Borselen, who was banished 3.

  1. Wilhelm. Procurator ad ann. 1287 does not say on what species of property this tax was levied, or whether Florence attempted to impose it en the nobles, but the consequences that ensued would lead one to suppose that he did so. The military vassals were, by the tenure of their fiefs, exempt from taxation.
  2. Wilhelm. Procurator ad ann. 1287. Melis Stoke, boek iy., bl. 228-298.
  3. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 233r-238.


The happy termination of this revolt permitted Count Florence to undertake a journey to England, for the purpose of advancing his pretensions to the throne of Scotland, vacant by the death of Margaret, commonly called the Maid of Norway, grand-daughter and heiress of Alexander III. Florence was descended in a direct line from Ada, daughter of Henry, eldest son of David I., king of Scotland, who married, in the year 1162, Florence III., Count of Holland. 1291 On this ground he appeared among the numerous competition for the crown, who, at the conferences held at Norham, submitted their claims to Edward I. of England 1, and however remote his pretensions, the native historians inform us that his renunciation of them was purchased by the successful candidate with a considerable sum of money, and the contemporary chronicler, Melis Stoke, reprobates, in no very measured terms, the advice that persuaded him thus, like another Esau, to sell his birthright 2,3.

The amity between the, two courts* which this transaction appeared likely still further to consolidate, was in a very few years broken, on the occasion of a war between Holland and Flanders. Guy, whether unable to resist the temptation of possessing himself the islands of Zealand, or whether irritated by the non-observance of the last treaty on the part of Florence, 1295 made a sudden irruption into the island of South Beveland. Florence solicited in vain succors from the King of England, who evaded his request under various pretexts, and took no further interest in the cause of his ally, than to delegate the Lord of Cuyck to mediate their differences.

  1. Rym. Foed., torn, ii., p. 531, 532.
  2. " I would," he says, " that the man were hung by the neck wko gave him such counsel! How durst he think of advising him to sell a kingdom which was his by inheritance?" Had the partisans of all the rivals been equally zealous with the rhymer, it would have cost Scotland even more warfare and bloodshed than it did, before their claims were settled.
  3. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 240. Wilhelm. Proc. ad aim. 1287.


Though the Zealanders defeated the Flemings, and forced them to retire into their own Country, yet Florence felt no less indignation at this breach of friendship on the part of Edward, whose interests now prompted him to court the alliance of Guy of Flanders, in preference to that of Holland 1.

1285 The mutual piracies and aggressions exercised for some years by the crews of the French and English vessels in the channel, had given rise to a war between the two Countries; and Edward, anxious to secure the support of the powerful vassal of his opponent, proposed a marriage between his eldest son and Philippa, daughter of Count Guy; bestowed on him the sum of three hundred thousand livres in payment of the auxiliaries he should furnish during the war, and removed the staple of English wool from Dordrecht to Bruges and Mechlin, to the great detriment of the trade and manufactures of Holland 2.

Finding that Edward had thus made a league with his enemy, Florence determined to accept the offers of friendship made him by Philip of France, who courted the alliance of foreign princes, no less eagerly than Edward. He therefore repaired -to that court in person, accompanied by several of his nobles, towards the end of the same year, and the two sovereigns concluded a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, with the reservation only, that the Count of Holland should not be bound to engage in an offensive war against the emperor, or the King of England. 1296 Philip was to make no peace without including Holland, and to indemnify the Count in case Edward should refuse to complete the marriage between the Princess Elisabeth and his son 3.

  1. Rym. Feed., torn, ii., p. 677. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 247—256.
  2. Rym. Feed., torn, ii., p. 737. • Melis Stoke, boek iv., bJ. 244.
  3. Damerat, Corps Dip., torn i., p. L, p. 295. Melis Stoke, boek ir., bl. 254—257.


From a stipulation made by the French king, that his friends and allies should be at liberty to provide themselves with vessels, provisions, and ammunition in Holland, we may conclude that commerce and shipping were at this period in a very flourishing condition.

The news of the alliance between Holland and France excited to a high degree the wrath of the King i of England: he wrote to the emperor, complaining of j the ingratitude of his vassal, the Count of Holland, and j declared that he would detain John, his son, in prison unless it were immediately dissolved 1; and it is supposed, that at this time he first formed the design of seizing the person of Florence and conveying him to imprisonment, either in England or Flanders; a scheme which he was not long in finding instruments able and willing to execute, though the event was probably more fatal than he had anticipated.

It has been observed, that the disregard in which Count Florence held the nobility, had excited the greater number a spirit of jealousy and hostility against him ; he was, moreover, severe in punishing any act of oppression or injustice which they might commit upon the people: the late treaty with France also, was generally displeasing to them, although some few had become parties to it, by affixing their signatures as guarantees 2. Besides these causes of dissatisfaction, which were common to the whole body of nobles, the Count had aroused in the breasts of many individuals among them, feelings of personal hatred and revenge.

  1. Rym. Feed, torn, ii., p* 117. Wilhelm. Proc ad ami. 1396.
  2. Wilhelm. Proc. ad ann. 1206, 1287.


Gilbert* lord of Amstel, had, some years before, been engaged in a petty warfare against his liege lord the Bishop of Utrecht, and the Count of Holland coming to the assistance of the latter, had defeated his rebellious vassal, and forced him to surrender his lordship of Amstel, which he conferred upon John Persyn, the same who had signalized himself in suppressing the rerolt of the Kemmerlanders, conducted by Gilbert van Amstel. Hermann, lord of Woerden, Gilbert's confederate and ally, had in like manner been forced to resign Woerden into the hands of Florence, from whom he received it again in usufruct 1. In addition to the enmity of these two powerful nobles, Florence had excited that of the Lord of Heusden, by a disreputable connection he maintained with his daughter; and was said to have beheaded the brother of Gerard van Velsen, and detained himself in prison for more than a year, in consequence of a false accusation made against them by some of the courtiers; and to have injured the latter still more deeply in the person of his wife 2. Nevertheless, these nobles were afterwards received into favour by the Count, and lived for some time on terms of apparent amity with him; Gerard van Velsen was made his privy councillor, and the Lords of Amstel and Woerden enjoyed high consideration and influence at his court; the name of the former also, and that of the Lord of Heusden, we find among the twelve who were made knights of St. James, a new order of knighthood created by Florence in 1290 3. Gratitude for recent favours, however, failed to obliterate the memory of ancient wrongs.

  1. Beka in Johan., ii., p. 98. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 206—210.
  2. Johan. a Leid., lib. xxiv., cap. 26.
  3. Melis Stoke, boek ir., bL 256—266. Mirei Dip. Belg., torn, i., cap. 441.


Gerard van Velsen first imparted to Hermann van Woerden a design of seizing the Count's person, and placing him in confinement; and under pretext of reconciling a feud, appointed a meeting with the Lords of Heusden, Cuyck, and several other nobles, to be held at Bergen op Zoom. The Lord of Cuyck had engaged himself for the sum of two thousand livres (tournois) yearly, to perform any service the King of England might require of him 1.

The nobles, on meeting at Bergen, readily entered into the conspiracy planned by Velsen, the Lord of Cuyck promising them the support and assistance of the Duke of Brabant, the Count of Flanders, and the King of England; and a subsequent conference was in fact held at Cambray, where the whole scheme was discussed and resolved on, before ambassadors from each of these princes. Florence, in entire ignorance of the machinations plotting against him, was not aroused tó caution even by a letter from the Lord of Cuyck, renouncing his allegiance in insolent terms: he observed jocosely, that but few Hollanders could now remain in their Country, since the Lord of Cuyck had undertaken to drive even him out. He allowed the priest who had been the bearer of this bold defiance to depart unmolested 2.

Since the strong attachment of the citizens and people towards their Count rendered the execution of any treasonable enterprise difficult and even dangerous in Holland, the conspirators waited until Florence should go to Utrecht, where he had appointed to be on a certain day in June, to make a reconciliation between the Lords of Amstel and Woerden, and the relatives of the Lord of Zuylen, whom they had slain.

  1. Rym. Fowl., torn, ii., p. 677.
  2. Johan. a Leid., lib. xxiv., cap. 27. Melis Stoke, boek ir., bl. 264— 276.


After the reconciliation, Florence, unsuspicious of evil, gave a magnificent entertainment, at which all the conspirators were present. It is said, that, just as the feast began, the Count was admonished of his approaching fete by a poor woman, who presented to him a paper, containing these words: " Son of a king, be mindful of the prophecy of the Psalmist: mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me 1. Heedless of the warning, the Count, seated between Amstel and Woerden, indulged in mirth and festivity to a late hour of the night. After he had retired to rest, the conspirators made use of the time to arrange their plans without the walls of the city, where they stationed parties of their followers in ambush, one on the banks of the Vecht, and two more further inland, but carefully concealing their purpose from them. Amstel remained in Utrecht and, early the next morning, awakening the Count from his slumber, he invited him to accompany himself and the other nobles on a hawking excursion. Florence, springing up with alacrity, was soon equipped, and, before his departure, asked Amstel to drink a stirrup-cup to St. Gertrude 2. The traitor took the cup from his master's hand, saying, "God protect you; I will ride forward," and draining its contents, galloped off. Fearful of losing any part of the sport, the Count quickly followed, leaving behind all his attendants, except a couple of pages.

  1. Beka in Johan., ii., p. 98. Melis Stoke, boek iv., bl. 281.
  2. The stirrup or leave-taking cup was, in the Netherlands and Germany, usually drunk to St. Gertrude, the patron saint of travellers. ^-Huydecop. op Stoke, deel. ii., bl. 844, 845. St. Gertrude was the sister of Grimoald, mayor of the palace to Sigebert, king of Austrasia; she founded the church at Geertruydenberg, about the middle of the seventh century.—Mirei Dip. Belg., lib. i., cap. 24. I cannot discover why she was considered as the protector of travellers.


About two miles distant from Utrecht, he perceived Hermann van Woerden, and riding towards him, inquired where the hawking was held. He was immediately surrounded by Amstel, Woerden, Velsen, and several others, all of whom, not suspecting their design, he greeted in a friendly manner. Woerden then seized the bridle of his horse, saying to him, " My master, your high flights are ended, you shall drive us no longer, you are now our prisoner, whether you will or not." The Count believing him only in jest, laughed merrily, when one Arnold van Benshorp snatched the falcon in a rude manner from his wrist: then, at length awakened to a sense of the danger of his situation, he attempted to draw his sword, but was prevented by Velsen, who threatened "to cleave his head in two," if he made the least movement. One of the pages, attempting to defend his master, deceived a severe wound, but was able to escape with the other to Utrecht, while the conspirators conveyed their prisoner to Muyden, at the mouth of the Vecht, with the design probably of transporting him thence by sea to England 1. No sooner had the rumour of the Count's imprisonment been noised abroad, than the West Frieslanders rose in a body, and uniting themselves to the people of Kemmerland and Waterland, speedily manned a number of vessels, and presented themselves before Muyden. But as they were without a leader, and had neither ammunition nor materials for a siege, they were unable to effect the release of their sovereign, and could only prevent his being carried to England.

  1. Melia Stoke, boek iv., bl. 283—292.


Finding this scheme, therefore, impracticable, the conspirators determined upon conveying him by land to Brabant or Flanders; gagged and disguised, with his feet and hands bound, and mounted on a sorry horse, they conducted their unhappy prisoner, on the fifth day of his confinement, towards Naarden; but knowing that the high roads were beset by the people eager to achieve his deliverance, they chose a circuitous route, through bye-paths and morasses. Hardly had they advanced half way to Naarden, when Velsen, who rode forward to reconnoitre, enCountered a large body of the inhabitants of that city. To his demand of what they wanted, " That which you bring, our Count," was the reply. Hereupon, 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 with more than twenty wounds. When the Naardeners and Frieslanders came up, they found their prince already at the point of death, but instant vengeance was executed on two servants, who had not time to draw out their weapons from his body. Velsen escaped, wounded and with difficulty, to Kronenburg, where he found the other conspirators already arrived, The body of Count Florence was embalmed, and, at the desire of the Frieslanders, carried to Alkmaar, and laid in the church there, but was finally buried at Rhynsburg 1.

The personal character of Florence, as well as the state of affairs in the County, rendered his death a cause of deep lamentation to the Hollanders; brave in the field, and sagacious in the cabinet, he possessed all those qualities which secure the esteem or captivate the affection of mankind. Just, liberal, and magnanimous, he was a firm and constant protector of his people against the oppression of the nobles.

  1. Wilhelm. Proc. ad ann. 1296. Melis Stoke, boek ?., bl. 549—365,419.


Like most of his race, his Countenance was ruddy and handsome, and his person well-formed and active; he was remarkable, also, for his ready eloquence, and for his rare skill in music 1.

Of the conspirators, Woerden and Amstel fled their Country, and died in exile; but the greater part fortified themselves in the castle of Kronenburg, which being besieged and taken, Velsen and some others were made prisoners, while the remainder were rescued by the interference of the Lord of Cuyck and the Count of Cleves. Gerard van Velsen was tried at Dordrecht, severely tortured, and, together with William of Zoenden, one of his accomplices, broken on the wheel 2.

The aristocratic power in Holland never afterwards recovered the shock it underwent on this occasion; besides those of the nobles who were openly convicted of a share in the assassination of Count Florence, many others were suspected of a secret participation in this crime, and the contempt and detestation they incurred, extended in some degree to the whole body of the nobility, whose moral influence was thus nearly annihilated, while its actual strength was enfeebled by the death or banishment of so many of its most powerful members. This occurred, too, at a juncture when the towns, favored by the privileges which Florence and his immediate predecessors had bestowed on them, and increasing in wealth and importance, were enabled to secure that political influence in the state which the nobles daily lost» and which, in other Countries, was obtained by the sovereign, on the decay of the feudal aristocracy 3.

  1. Beka in Johan., ii., p. 99.
  2. iWilhelm. Proc. ad aim. 1296. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 872—382. Beka in Johan., ii., p. 99.
  3. By the Tudors, in our own Country; by Charles VII., Louis XI., and their successors, in France; and by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, after the monarchical power was strengthened by the union of the crowns of Castile and Arragon.



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 a minor, in the hands of a monarch who had given but too many proofs of his unscrupulous ambition 1, while to these difficulties was added that of a divided regency. While Florence was yet alive, John van Arkel, Theodore van Brederode, with the other nobles who still remained faithful to him, had, upon intelligence of his imprisonment, assembled at Dordrecht, and sent to John of Avennes a requisition that he would come into Holland without delay, and assume the government until the Count could be released; and three days after his death, they despatched the Abbot of Egtnond to the court of the King of England, beseeching him to restore to them their young Count, and to send with him a force sufficient to protect him from the fate that had befallen his father 2. Guy, brother of John of Avennes, came into Holland, commissioned by John to undertake the administration in his behalf, until he should repair thither in person, which he promised to do shortly.

  1. Vide Note D, at the end of the volume.
  2. Rym. Feed., torn, ii., p. 717. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 364, 365.

Note D. (Page 125.)

Suspicions have been cast upon Edward, as if guilty of a previous knowledge of the murder of Count Florence; they are, however, not borne out by facts. It is true that the chief instigator of that plot, the Lord of Cuyck, was engaged to perform any service that the King of England might require of him, in consideration of the sum of 2000 livres; but we are not justified in concluding that the treaty was made between them with a view to this particular transaction, since it was merely such an one as petty princes frequently entered into with rich and powerful monarchs; nor were the terms of it unusual, since Waleran, lord of Monjoie and Hauquemont, bound himself to the service of Edward nearly at the same time, is a manner precisely similar : " Et sur ces (i. e, the 2000 livres,) lui avions faite homage, et foiauté, pur li loiaument servir a notre poer, et consailler." There is likewise no evidence to show that the conspirators themselves entertained any other design at first, than that of conveying Count Florence to imprisonment in England or Flanders, which being prevented by the Naardeners and Frieslanders they suddenly resolved upon putting him to death, lest his rescue should be achieved. It is far less easy to acquit Edward of an active participation in the iniquitous scheme of confining Florence in prison for the remainder of his life. The angry terms in which he expressed himself with regard to the Count's alliance with France 1; the promise of assistance made to the conspirators at Cambray by his temporary vassal, the Lord of Cuyck, a promise which could hardly have been ventured upon without his sanction; the fact that the conspirators carried their prisoner to Muyden for the purpose of transporting him thence to England; and, above all, a letter which he wrote to the emperor, only two days before the Count's death, wherein he makes use of this remarkable expression, " speramus enim quod magis in persona filii, quam in persona patris res eadem foret salva," are circumstances that fix upon him a considerable, if not the largest share in the guilt of this enterprise, to which he was prompted at once by a feeling of vengeance against Florence for having forsaken his alliance, and by the ambition of exercising unbounded influence in the affairs of Holland when the nominal government was lodged in the hands of his infant son-in-law.

  1. Rym. Feed., torn. ii. p. 117.


Although John of Avennes was next of kin to the young Count, being the son of Adelaide of Avennes, sister of his grandfather, 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; and 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; Nortb Holland being allotted to Louis, who resided at the Hague, while Guy reserved to himself South Holland, and remained at Geertruydenberg, 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 1.

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, William II,, 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, 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 Count John in England, that he was not the real son of Florence 2.

  1. Beka in Johan., p. 99. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 366, 383—387.
  2. Wilhelm. Proc. ad ann. 1297.


1297 Accordingly at the instigation of the bishop, and 1297 relying on his promises of assistance, they once more took up arms, mastered and destroyed all the castles Count Florence had built, except Medemblick, which they blockaded 1. The governor, John of Avennes, was at this time fully occupied with the affairs of Zealand. Wolferd van Borselen, who had before been aided by Guy, 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 Flanders, and found but little trouble in persuading him to invade Walcheren, and lay siege to Miiddleburg. The town 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 2. Avennes 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. Medemblick, surrounded by the insurgents, and cut off from all supplies, was on the eve of a surrender, when John 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 harbour of Medemblick, and the remainder returned home by different land routes, not without considerable loss of life. John, thus left nearly alone, had no resource but to retire to Holland 3.

  1. Beka in Wilhelm., ii., p. 101. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 398, 391.
  2. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 393—395.
  3. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 405—408.


Meanwhile, 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 1," at the marriage of the Count John with the Princess Elizabeth, and at the confirmation of the treaty 2. 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, Dordrecht, Haarlem, Middleburg, and others. They were detained some time at the court of England; but at length the marriage was celebrated with great splendour, and the ambassadors, laden with rich presents, returned with the young bride and bridegroom ra a well-equipped fleet to Holland 3. The conditions imposed by Edward 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 Edward 4.

  1. This is the first time we observe the towns participating in political affairs: it coincides nearly with the summoning of borough members to parliament in England (1295), and the assembly of the states in France (1302).
  2. Rym. Feed., torn, ii., p. 729. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 400, 401.
  3. Wilhelm, Proc. ad ami, 1297.
  4. Rym. Feed., torn, ii., p. 743—745.


On the return of John of Avennes from the war in Friesland, he found that the Count John 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, he 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 the minor 1.

The Frieslanders still refusing to acknowledge John as the son of Count Florence, 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 2. The Bishop of Utrecht, also, not satisfied with the share he had borne in their revolt, afterwards preached a crusade against Holland, and made an assault on Monnikendam; but, being forced by the Kemmerlanders to take refuge in Overyssel, he consented to purchase a peace by the cession of Amstel and Woerden 3.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 411. Wilhelm. Proc., ad aim. 1297. v Idem, ad ann. 1207.
  2. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 415—420.
  3. Beka in Wilhelm., p. 102.


These successes so increased the influence of Wolferd van Borselen, that his authority in the state became almost absolute; he obtained from the young prince a written promise to protect him against any evil that threatened him from the murderers of Count Florence, although (since most of them were his friends) he had nothing to fear from them: John bound himself, also, to be guided entirely by his advice until he should attain the age of twenty-five; he excluded from the privy council, on one pretext or another, all those members who were not in his interests, obtained for himself the investiture of the fortress of Ysselstein, and the lordship of Woerden, and attempted to levy heavy and arbitrary taxes on the whole nation. Being, from his attachment to the English, opposed to Philip of France, he obliged John to conclude a treaty with Flanders, promising subsidies to Count Guy during his war with France 1, John, in effect, marched with an army to Ghent; but the truce for two years, concluded shortly after between France and England, in which the Counts both of Holland and Flanders were included as allies of Edward, rendered their services unnecessary 2.

1298 The ambition and rapacity of Borselen had already ! excited vehement indignation and disgust against him, when he thought fit to venture upon the hazardous measure of debasing the coin 3, a stretch of power which the Dutch, a nation depending for their existence upon trade and commerce, have never been able to endure, even from their most arbitrary sovereigns; and we shall have many opportunities hereafter of remarking their extreme jealousy in this particular.

  1. Robert, and Guy of Flanders, swore solemnly that the conspirators J against Count Florence had received neither assistance nor encouragement from them; but the young Count, though forced by Borselen to. admit them to a conference, and receive 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, boek y., bl. 436.
  2. Wilhelm. Proc. ad ann., 1297. Melis Stoke, boek v., bl. 428—437; boek vi., bl. 474. Rym. Feed., torn ii., p. 796*.
  3. Beka in Wil., ii. p. 102. j


The murmurs of the citizens then became loud and general; and the popular hatred appeared already to threaten the ruin of the court favorite, when a quarrel, in which he involved himself with the town of Dordrecht, concerning its immunities, brought matters to a crisis. It may not be thought tedious, perhaps, to detail at some length the particulars of this transaction, since it was by their unceasing watchfulness against any encroachments upon their municipal rights, and their pertinacity in defending them, that the Hollanders were enabled to preserve them unimpaired, while those of other nations, obtained at even greater cost and pains, were annihilated in the grasp of an absolute monarchy, or swallowed up by the privileges of an overwhelming aristocracy. By a charter granted in 1252 to the town of Dordrecht, by William II., the | right of pronouncing judgment without appeal, in all cases whatever, both criminal and civil 1, is vested in the sheriffs; and this appears to be only confirmatory of a more ancient prescriptive right exercised by these magistrates, of trying all causes arising within the limits of the city. Aloud, Bailiff of South Holland 2, appointed to that office by Borselen, claimed the right of hearing the preliminary examinations 3 of some malefactors then in custody at Dordrecht, for a crime (of what nature does not appear) committed within the precincts of the city. The magistrates, 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 the Count, repaired to Dordrecht.

  1. This privilege is not common; in general an appeal lies from the municipal courts to the court of Holland, in all civil cases.
  2. The bailiff was an officer of justice appointed by the Count in the open Country, whose duties were similar to those of the schout in towns.
  3. Eene stille waarheid (praecedente informatie) bezitten,"—something in the nature, I apprehend, of the magistrates' commitment in our own Country.


He demanded that the whole of the documents relating to the matter in question should be immediately delivered up to him, alleging 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., they alone had the power of hearing and deciding all causes whatsoever, occurring within the limits of the town 1. 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 tbeif number to follow him. As the Dordrechters considered it hardly safe for their magistrates to brave the storm alone, they sent with them deputies from the great council of the town, making in all about ten or twelve persons. Of these, two, mentioned according to the simplicity of the times merely by their chrfetian names, John and Paul, were particularly noted as strenuous defenders of their privileges; and 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 the Count. They were detained there some time, on account of the absence of Borselen, without whose advice John durst not venture to interfere in the affair. Immediately on his arrival, he inquired where John and Paul were, which excited suspicions in the minds of the rest, that he meditated some evil design against them. Warned by their companions, therefore, the two councillors hastily returned home, and when Borselen came with the Count shortly after, from the Hague to Delft, he found them already gone.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek vi., bl. 478—482. Boxhorn, Theat, Urb. Holl, p. 100.


Their departure, for permitting which Borselen bitterly reproached the magistrates of Delft, caused vehement discussions on the subject of the controversy in the senate of that town, and the Bailiff Aloud offered to fight in single combat any one who would maintain that 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, in not awaiting the arrival of the Count, who menaced Dordrecht with the consequences of his high displeasure. On the return of the deputies thither, bearing intelligence of the threats used by the Count, the burghers thought it advisable to put themselves in a posture of defence. Four " hoofdmannen," or captains of burgher guards, were appointed, and letters despatched by the senate to all the " good towns" of Holland and Zea-Jand^ intreating them to consider the cause of Dordrecht as their common cause 1.

Their preparations were not made in vain, as no long time elapsed before the town was invested. Borselen, in order to cut off from the inhabitants all communication from without, both by land and water, stationed troops in the surrounding forts, and a number of vessels, called "Outlyers," in the Merwe. The bailiff Aloud also, who commanded the fort of Kraajestein, above Dordrecht, caused pilework to be laid across the river to obstruct 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 with one accord sallied out, and hurried, some by land, some in boats, to Kraajestein.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek vi., bL 482—499.


Here they came to a sharp engagement with Aloud's troops, killed and wounded a considerable number, and returned with the loss of only one life to Dordrecht 1. Aloud having given information to Borselen of this occurrence, the latter determined to raise a general levy both in Holland and Zealand against the Dordrechters: but, being unable to carry his purpose into effect, from the discontents which had spread over the whole County, he deemed himself no longer safe at the Hague, and, leaving the court by night, carried the young Count with all expedition to Schiedam, whence he took ship to Zealand. On the discovery of the abduction of Count John, the court and village of the Hague were 1299 in uproar; numbers hurried to Vlaardingen, where, finding that the ship in which Borselen had sailed lay becalmed in the mouth of the Merwe, they manned all the boats in the port with stout rowers and quickly reached the Count's vessel, whom they found very willing to return with them 2. Borselen was conducted a prisoner to Delft. Hardly had the populace there heard of his arrest when they assembled before the doors of the gaol, demanding with loud cries that " the traitor should be delivered up to them." Those within, struck with terror, thrust him, stripped of his armour, out at the door, when he was massacred in an instant, every individual of the immense multitude eagerly seeking to gratify his hatred by inflicting a wound upon him 3. A similar destiny soon after befel the Bailiff Aloud. Being forced to surrender his fort of Kraajestein, he was made prisoner, and brought to Dordrecht; but he had scarcely entered the city, when himself and five of his followers were sacrificed to the fury of the exasperated populace 4.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek vi., bl. 409—606.
  2. Idem, boek vi., bl. 506—516.
  3. Wil. Proc, ad ann. 1299.
  4. Melis Stoke, boek vi., bl. 530.


As John was still too young to conduct the business of government alone, he invited to his assistance his cousin, John of Avennes, and appointed him guardian over himself and the County for the space of four years 1. The death of Borselen, and the accession of John of Avennes to the government, entirely deprived the English party of their influence in Holland, since Avennes had been constantly attached, both from inclination and policy, to the interest of the French court. His first act was to make a reconciliation4 between the people of Delft and the relatives of Borselen, and this being effected, he entered into a covenant with seven of the principal towns of Holland, neither to make nor consent to any peace with the murderers of Count Florence, or their posterity, to the seventh generation 2. Soon after, determined on entering into a close alliance with France, he set out on a journey to that court, leaving Count John at Haarlem, sick of the ague and flux, which terminated his existence on the 10th of November of this year 3. Suspicions of poison were soon afloat, and Avennes has been accused of this crime; but as the charge is flatly denied by Melis Stoke 4, and the nature of John's disease is expressly stated by another contemporary and credible historian 5, its being adopted by Meyer, a Flemish author writing two centuries later, is hardly sufficient to affix so deep a stain on the character of John of Avennes, and which is contradicted by the whole tenour of his life. As John died without children, the County was transferred, by the succession of John of Avennes, the nearest heir, to the family of Hainaut.

  1. Melis Stoke, boek vi., bl. 539.
  2. Idem, bl. 544. • Idem, bl. 546.
  3. Idem, boek vi., bl. 547,548.
  4. Wil. Proc., ad ann. 1299.
  5. "Zoen," vid. chap, ii., p. 95.


Thus ended this noble and heroic race of princes, having now governed the County for a period of four hundred years; of whom it may be remarked, that not one has been banded down to us by historians as weak, vicious, or debauched, A race of brave warriors and gallant knights; of wise lawgivers and skilful politicians: under whose government we have seen their little territory raised from a half-drained marsh to a respectable rank among the states of Europe, and its alliance courted by the most powerful monarchs: under whose government were laid the foundations of that greatness and prosperity to which Holland afterwards attained: under whose government, above all, the people were blessed with laws and institutions so admirably adapted to their wants, habits, and national peculiarities, that they preserved them almost unchanged through a long course of after ages. The Hollanders are perhaps justified, more than any other people, in indulging the proneness of human nature to look back to some golden age long past of happiness and prosperity; since while nations more favoured by extent of territory and natural advantages were wasting their strength in useless wars, or torn to pieces by intestine commotions, they were making daily advances in freedom, commerce, wealth, and learning. Deservedly, therefore, was the memory of their "ancient Counts" cherished long and tenderly by the people; and it was to its descent from them that the illustrious house of Brederode owed a popularity, which three centuries later was still so great, as to cause suspicion and alarm to the reigning sovereign.

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