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The text below details the main historical events relating specifically to the county or province of Holland (as opposed to the Netherlands in general) between 1572 and 1813. Extracted from the entry for the County of Holland in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica the text of which lies within the public domain.

On the abdication of Charles, his son Philip II of Spain became Philip III, count of Holland, the ruler whose arbitrary rule brought about the revolt of the Netherlands. His appointment of William, prince of Orange, as stadholder of Holland and Zeeland was destined to have momentous results to the future of those provinces (see William the Silent). The capture of Brill and of Flushing in 1572 by the Sea-Beggars led to the submission of the greater part of Holland and Zeeland to the authority of the prince of Orange, who, as stadholder, summoned the states of Holland to meet at Dordrecht. This act was the beginning of Dutch independence. From this time forward William made Holland his home. It became the bulwark of the Protestant faith in the Netherlands, the focus of the resistance to Spanish tyranny. The sieges of Haarlem, Alkmaar and Leiden saved Holland from being overwhelmed by the armies of Alva and Requesens and stemmed the tide of Spanish victory. The act of federation between Holland and Zeeland brought about by the influence of William was the germ of the larger union of Utrecht - between the seven northern provinces in 1579. But within the larger union the inner and closer union between Holland and Zeeland continued to subsist. In 1580, when the sovereignty of the Netherlands was offered to the duke of Anjou, the two maritime provinces refused to acquiesce, and forced William to accept the title of count of Holland and Zeeland. In the following year William in the name of the two provinces solemnly abjured the sovereignty of the Spanish king (July 24). After the assassination of William (1584) the title of count of Holland was never revived.

In the long struggle of the United Provinces with Spain, which followed the death of Orange, the brunt of the conflict fell upon Holland. More than half the burden of the charges of the war fell upon this one province; and with Zeeland it furnished the fleets which formed the chief defence of the country. Hence the importance attached to the vote of Holland in the assembly of the States-General. That vote was given by deputies at the head of whom was the advocate (in later times called the grand pensionary) of Holland, and who were responsible to, and the spokesmen of, the provincial states. These states, which met at the Hague in the same building as the States-General, consisted of representatives of the burgher oligarchies (regents) of the principal towns, together with representatives of the nobles, who possessed one vote only. The advocate was the paid minister of the states. He presided over their meetings, kept their minutes and conducted all government correspondence, and, as stated above, was their spokesman in the States-General. The advocate (or grand pensionary) of Holland therefore, if an able man, had opportunities for exercising a very considerable influence, becoming in fact a kind of minister of all affairs. It was this influence as exerted by the successive advocates of Holland, Paul Buys and Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, which rendered abortive the well-meant efforts of the Earl of Leicester to centralize the government of the United Provinces. After his departure (1587) the advocate of Holland, Oldenbarnevelt, became the indispensable statesman of the struggling republic. The multiplicity of his functions gave to the advocate an almost unlimited authority in the details of administration, and for thirty years the conduct of affairs remained in his hands (see Johan van Oldenbarnevelt.)

This meant the undisputed hegemony of Holland in the federation, in other words of the burgher oligarchies who controlled the town corporations of the province, and especially of Amsterdam. This authority of Holland was, however, counterbalanced by the extensive powers with which the stadholder princes of Orange were invested; and the chief crises in the internal contest history of the Dutch republic are to be found in between the struggles for supremacy between two, in reality, different principles of government. On the one side the principle of provincial sovereignty which gave to the voice of Holland a preponderating weight that was decisive; on the other side the principle of national sovereignty personified in the princes of Orange, whom the States-General and the provincial states delegated executive powers that were little less than monarchical.

The conclusion of the twelve years truce in 1609 was a triumph for Oldenbarneveldt and the province of Holland over the opposition of Maurice, prince of Orange. In 1617 the outbreak of the religious dispute between the Remonstrant and Contra-remonstrant parties brought on a life and death struggle between the sovereign province of Holland and the States-General of the union. The sword of Maurice decided the issue in favour of the States-General. The claims of Holland were overthrown and the head of Oldenbarneveldt fell upon the scaffold (1619). The stadholder, Frederick Henry of Orange, ruled with well-nigh monarchical authority (1625-1647), but even he at the height of his power and popularity had always to reckon with the opposition of the states of Holland and of Amsterdam, and many of his plans of campaign were thwarted by the refusal of the Hollanders to furnish supplies.

His son William II was but 21 years of age on succeeding to the stadholdership, and the states of Holland were sufficiently powerful to carry through the negotiations for the peace of Munster (1648) in spite of his opposition. A life and death conflict again ensued, and once more in 1650 the prince of Orange by armed force crushed the opposition of the Hollanders. The sudden death of William in the hour of his triumph caused a complete revolution in the government of the republic. He left no heir but a posthumous infant, and the party of the burgher regents of Holland was once more in the ascendant. The office of stadholder was abolished, and John de Witt, the grand pensionary (Raad-Pensionaris) of Holland, for two decades held in his hands all the threads of administration, and occupied the same position of undisputed authority in the councils of the land as Oldenbarneveldt had done at the beginning of the century. Amsterdam during this period was the centre and head of the United Provinces. The principle of provincial sovereignty was carried to its extreme point in the separate treaty concluded with Cromwell in 1654, in which the province of Holland agreed to exclude for ever the prince of Orange from the office of stadholder of Holland or captain-general of the union.

In 1672 another revolution took place John de Witt was murdered, and William III was called to fill the office of dignity and authority which had been held by his ancestors of the house of Orange, and the stadholdership was declared to be hereditary in his family. But William died without issue (see William III) and a stadholderless period, during which the province of Holland was supreme in the union, followed till 1737. This change was effected smoothly, for though William had many differences with Amsterdam, he had in Anthony Heinsius (van der Heim), who was grand pensionary of Holland from 1690 to his death in 1720, a statesman whom he thoroughly trusted, who worked with him in the furtherance of his policy during life and who continued to carry out that policy after his death.

In 1737 there was once more a reversion to the stadholdership in the person of William IV, whose powers were strengthened and declared hereditary both in the male and female line in 1747. But until the final destruction of the federal republic by the French armies, the perennial struggle went on between the Holland or federal party (Staatsgesinden) centred at Amsterdam out of which grew the patriot party under William V and the Orange or unionist party (Oranjegesinden), which was strong in the smaller provinces and had much popular support among the lower classes. The French conquest swept away the old condition of things never to reappear; but allegiance to the Orange dynasty survived, and in 1813 became the rallying point of a united Dutch people. At the same time the leading part played by the province of Holland in the history of the republic has not been unrecognized, for the country ruled over by the sovereigns of the house of Orange is always popularly, and often officially, known as Holland.

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