The Netherlands and the Sea The Burgundian Period, 1384-1477

The Netherlands before the Burgundians, -1340 / -1536

Most of the Netherlands formed part of the Roman (East Frankish or German) Kingdom; Flanders and Artois were part of the Kingdom of France. The Netherlands consisted of 17 territories - 3 prince-bishoprics (Cambrai, Liege, Utrecht, the latter with Overijssel and Drente), 4 duchies (Brabant, Luxemburg, Limburg, Gelre), 7 Counties (Flanders, Zeeland, Artois, Holland, Namur, Hainaut, Hoorn) 2 territories (Friesland, Groningen), the abbey of Stavelot.
The Netherlands stood out because of it's geographical location - much of the country hardly above, large parts below sea level. The Dutch had created a network of dykes to keep the seawater out and erected numerous windmills to pump the rain- and riverwater out of lowlying areas.
The Flanders-Brabant region was highly urbanized, based mainly on textile industry. This trade heavily influenced the region's policy, as the Count of Flanders, in French-English confrontations remained loyal to France, while the Estates of Flanders, depending on English wool imports, chose the English side. The 4 cities of Flanders (Ghent, Bruges, Ypres and Lille) dominated the county's estates, which often pursued a policy independent of the count and at times opposed to him. The city of Ghent, lead by the ARTEVELDEs, was notorious for it's stubbornness.
To the north, the counties of Zeeland and Holland were in the process of urbanizing, their cities being members of the HANSEATIC LEAGUE, engaged in herring fishing of Scania and in trade, but yet much smaller than the cities of Flanders.
To the North, in the marshes of West Frisia, Friesland and Groningen, in the sandy hills of Drente, communities of free farmers had preserved their independence; feudalism had hardly taken root there. These communities were minimalistic states, leaving much liberty to it's individuals.
The south and east were integral part of central European feudal society.
The process of concentrating territories under a few dynasties had started. Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland were united in DYNASTIC UNION under the HOUSE OF AVESNES since 1299, under the WITTELSBACH DYNASTY since 1345. Similarily, the Duchies of Brabant and Limburg were united since 1288.

L'epoque bourgoignonne, from : Histoire du Nord, from Region Nord-Pas de Calais
DOCUMENTS List of Counts of Flanders 864-1506, of bishops/archbishops of Utrecht 695-1580, from Museum voor Vaderlandse Geschiedenis
Map : Comtes de Flandre et de l'Artois en 1369, from Region Nord-Pas de Calais
Vosmeer, Michiel, Principes Hollandiae et Zelandiae, Domini Frisiae. Cum genuinis ipsorum iconibus, Antwerpen: Chr. Plantin fur Ph. Galle, 1578, images of the counts of Holland from the 9th to the 16th century, posted by MATEO (Univ. Mannheim, comment in German, or. text in Latin)

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 11th 2004

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