Netherlands: The Rise of the Netherlands
The Rise of the Netherlands
One of the Low Countries, the Netherlands did not have a unified history until the late 15th cent. The region west of the Rhine formed part of the Roman province of Lower Germany and was inhabited by the Batavi; to the east of the Rhine were the Frisians. Nearly the entire area was taken (4th–8th cent.) by the Franks, and with the breakup of the Carolingian empire, most of it passed (9th cent.) to the east Frankish (i.e., German) kingdom and thus to the Holy Roman Empire.
The counts of Holland emerged as the most powerful medieval lords of the region, next to their southern neighbors, the dukes of Brabant and the counts of Flanders. In the 14th and 15th cent., Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Gelderland, and Brabant passed to the powerful dukes of Burgundy, who controlled virtually all the Low Countries. Though the Dutch towns and ports were slower in economic development than the flourishing commercial and industrial centers of Flanders and Brabant, they began to rival them in the 15th cent. They nearly all belonged to the Hanseatic League and enjoyed vast autonomous privileges.
In 1477, Mary of Burgundy by the Great Privilege restored all the liberties deprived by her predecessors. Her marriage to the Archduke Maximilian (later Emperor Maximilian I) brought the Low Countries into the house of Hapsburg. Emperor Charles V gave them (1555) to his son Philip II of Spain. By that time the northern provinces (i.e., the present Netherlands) had reached economic prosperity.
Sections in this article:
- The Postwar Years
- The Kingdom of the Netherlands
- A Succession of Wars
- The United Provinces
- Revolt in the Netherlands
- The Rise of the Netherlands
- Land and People
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Benelux Political Geography