Birth Of A Nation…

Tachtigjarigeoorlog-1579On Saturday we celebrated again part of our 200th anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This time it was held in Maastricht with King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and their guests King Philip and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Grand Duke Henri and his wife Grand Duchess Marie Teresa of Luxembourg and the President of Germany, Mr Gauck and his partner.

The Netherlands were once one country with Belgium and Luxembourg, and even from that time Germany was our biggest export country.

Our nation as such started long before 1813…

The Union of Utrecht (Unie van Utrecht) was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain.

The Union of Utrecht is regarded as the foundation of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, which was not recognized by the Spanish Empire until the Twelve Years’ Truce in 1609.

The treaty was signed on 23 January by Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht (but not all of Utrecht) and the province (but not the city) of Groningen. The treaty was a reaction of the Protestant provinces to the 1579 Union of Arras (in Dutch: Unie van Atrecht), in which the southern provinces declared their support for Roman Catholic Spain.

During the following months of 1579, other states signed the treaty as well, such as Ghent, cities from Friesland, as well as three of the quarters of Guelders. In the summer of 1579, Amersfoort from the province of Utrecht also joined, together with Ypres, Antwerp, Breda and Brussels. In February 1580, Lier, Bruges and the surrounding area also signed the Union. The city of Groningen shifted in favor under influence of the stadtholder for Friesland, George van Rennenberg, and also signed the treaty. Later on, Zutphen also signed so Guelders (of which Zutphen is one of the quarters) supported the Union completely. This happened in April 1580, as did the signing of Overijssel and Drenthe.

So in all the County of Holland, Zeeland, Drenthe, Flanders, but also the Lordship of Utrecht, Groningen, Friesland, Overijssel, Duchy of Brabant and the cities of Tournai and Valenciennes signed the treaty which started our nation.

Flanders was almost entirely conquered by the Spanish troops, as was half of Brabant. The United Provinces still recognized Spanish rule after the Union of Utrecht. However, the Union contributed to the deterioration in the relationship between the provinces and their lord, and in 1581 the United Provinces declared their independence of the king in the Act of Abjuration.

The Twelve Years’ Truce of 1609 essentially marked the end of the Dutch struggle for independence and a pause in one of history’s longest running conflicts, the Eighty Years’ War. As Pieter Geyl puts it, the truce marked “an astonishing victory for the Dutch.” They gave up no land and did not agree to halt their attacks on Spanish colonies and the Spanish trade empire. In return the Spanish granted the United Provinces de facto independence by describing them as “Free lands, provinces and states against who they make no claim” for the duration of the truce.

And here’s the link to our King, he’s a decendant from William I, Prince of Orange (24 April 1533 – 10 July 1584), also widely known as William the Silent, or more commonly known as William of Orange he was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years’ War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648. He was born in the House of Nassau as Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau and the ancestor of the monarchy of the Netherlands.

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