History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

European Kingdoms

Western Europe


Feature The Netherlands / Low Countries / Holland

The oldest traces of the Frisian population (proto-Frisians) in the Low Countries date back to the end of the Bronze Age in 700 BC, which makes the Frisians one of the oldest still-surviving tribes in Europe. Their origin circa 1000 BC probably lies in southern Scandinavia, along with the other Germanic peoples.

The coastal area around Friesland (Zwin, near Sluis in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, and Weser, Bremen) was initially ruled after the collapse of the Roman empire by local Frisian leaders. During this turmoil smaller tribes in the Low Countries, like the Canninifates and the Batavi, merged with the bigger tribe of the Frisians, while some communities joined the Jutish/Saxon migration to southern Britain.

(Rulers and detailed additional notes from AD 839 onwards by Dirk van Duijvenbode. External Link: List of Dutch Sovereigns (dead link).)

Pre-Roman Frisia (Legendary Netherlands)

This region comprised the coastal area around the upper Netherlands, eastwards to the mouth of the Weser. The western half, which became known as West Frisia, emerged as a distinct region during the feuds of the thirteenth century AD, and evolved into the modern Netherlands. The remainder was then distinguished as East Frisia and was essentially German in character. The list is legendary until the advent of the Roman empire (names backed in lilac). Before Charlemagne's rule, it remains uncertain.

It was from this coastal strip that the combined Saxon and Frisian settlers headed for the southern shores of Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries. The language of the remaining population is still very closely linked to modern English.

? - 2194 BC


Traditional founder of the Frisian Commonwealth.

Frisian Folk Mothers

2194 - 2145? BC





c.2013 BC


1631 - ? BC


c.1621 BC


? - 590 BC


590 - 559 BC


De facto ruler.

590 - 306 BC

After Frana, the authority of the folk mothers collapses. A period of division follows, with no clear Frisian rulers apparent.

306 - c.270 BC


Eventually ruled jointly with the first king of Frisia.

MapFrisia / Friso (Germanic)

The Germanic tribes seem to have originated in a homeland in southern Scandinavia (Sweden and Norway, with the Jutland area of northern Denmark, along with a very narrow strip of Baltic coastline). They had been settled here for over two thousand years following the Indo-European migrations. The Germanic ethnic group began as a division of the western edge of late proto-Indo-European dialects around 3300 BC, splitting away from a general westwards migration to head towards the southern coastline of the Baltic Sea. By the time the Germanic tribes were becoming key players in the politics of Western Europe in the last two centuries BC, the previously dominant Celts were on the verge of being conquered and dominated by Rome. They had already been pushed out of northern and Central Europe by a mass of Germanic tribes which were steadily carving out a new homeland.

The Frisii of the first centuries BC and AD formed a relatively large Germanic tribe, one that was comparable to the Chauci in number. By this time they were located on the coastal areas of the modern Netherlands, between the lower Rhine and the modern German border. To the south were the Batavi and Canninefates, to the east were the Chamavi, while the Campsiani and Chauci lay to the north, along the coastline.

The Frisians were noted by Procopius as the Frissones.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, and from The Oxford History of England: Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton.)

304 - 264 BC

Adel I Friso

De facto king.

264 - ? BC

Adel II Atharik

113 BC

A large-scale incursion of the sea into Jutland around the period between 120-114 BC is known as the Cimbrian Flood. It permanently alters the shape of the coastline and drastically affects the way people live in the region. It is probably this event which affects the Cimbri and Teutones. These two peoples migrate en mass from their homeland, heading southwards towards Italy. Along the way they pick up the Celto-Germanic Helvetii peoples (in territory that later becomes Franconia), and possibly spark a secondary migration of Belgic peoples from the Netherlands and northern Gaul into south-eastern Britain.

? - 70 BC

Adel III Ubbo

70 BC - AD 11

Adel IV Asinga Ascon

c.60 BC


Folk Mother appointed by Adel IV.

12 - 9 BC

Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, stepson of Emperor Augustus, is appointed governor of the Rhine region of Gaul. He launches the first major Roman campaigns across the Rhine and begins the conquest of Germania. He starts with a successful campaign that subjugates the Sicambri. Later in the same year he leads a naval expedition along the North Sea coast, conquering the Batavi and the Frisii, and defeating the Chauci near the mouth of the Weser. Luckily for them, the receding tide traps his vessels and he is forced to withdraw and avoid further conflict. In 11 BC, he conquers the Bructeri, Usipetes and Marsi, extending Roman control into the Upper Weser. In 10 BC, he launches a campaign against the Chatti and the resurgent Sicambri, subjugating both. The following year he conquers the Mattiaci, while also defeating the Marcomanni and Cherusci, the latter being taken care of near the Elbe. He is killed in a fall from his horse during his fourth campaign, and his death deprives Rome of one its best generals.

AD 11 - 15

Diocarus Segon

15 - 28

Dibbald Segon


The Frisii on the Lower Rhine are driven to revolt against the Roman empire by excessively zealous tax collection.

28 - 47



The Chauci and Frisii are to be found under the command of Gannascus of the Canninefates. Together, they raid the coastline of Gallia Belgica, although the Chauci have been doing this for some years already. The Chauci also penetrate territory in Gallia Belgica that in 80-83 is reformed into the Roman province of Germania Inferior (it now forms parts of the southern Netherlands). The newly-appointed Roman military commander, Corbulo, engages the attackers in battle and defeats them. He also places triremes on the Rhine and takes on the Chauci vessels, successfully destroying those too. Gannascus is driven out of Gallia Belgica and the Frisii are occupied by force and classified a client state. Under the pretence of holding negotiations with Gannascus, the Romans assassinate him. This dishonourable act causes outrage among the Chauci, and Emperor Claudius orders a withdrawal of Roman forces to the Rhine in order to ease tensions.

47 - 58


Client king.

47 - 58


Client king.


Titus Boiocalus

Anti-Roman usurper.


Frisia is re-classified as an allied state of the Roman empire. It is around this time that the Chauci tribe expand westwards as far as the River Ems. To achieve this expansion they expel the neighbouring tribe of the Ampsivarii and subsequently find themselves bordered to the west by the Frisii.

Kings of Frisia (Ubbo) / Frisavones (Netherlands)

During this period, as noted by Tacitus, the Frisians were already located to the west of the Zuyder Zee, making them the most westerly of the Germanic peoples of the north of Europe, occupying parts certainly not originally Germanic in speech. The Batavi were located to their south. Tacitus indicates a division of them which probably also integrated Celtic peoples as the Lesser Frisians, west of the navigable lakes, while the main body of the people remained the Greater Frisians, free from Roman control in the still little-known or explored marshes and fens to the north and east, lands into which the Romans scarcely ever ventured.

Pliny the Elder has the little-known Sinuci tribe of Belgae living between the Frisavones and the Tungri (remembering that the Tungri have been settled on the former territory of the Eburones for the past century). The Frisavones (Frisævones or Frisiabones) would appear at first sight to be a division of the main body of Frisii. Pliny appears to differentiate between the two, with the Frisavones settled to the south of the Frisii, and seemingly very close to the Batavi. This location makes it usual to equate the Frisavones with the Lesser Frisians of the subsequent Offo period of Frisian history.

(Additional information by André Kloer and Edward Dawson, from the Alan Bliss/JRR Tolkein examination of the fragment known as The Fight at Finnesburg, from Histories, Annals, Tacitus, and from External Links: The Works of Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars, and The Natural History, Pliny the Elder (John Bostock, Ed).)

58 - 70



The lower Rhine has recently been cleared out by Rome to serve as a buffer zone between the empire and tribal Germania. The Frisii are under the mistaken belief that they will be exempt from any retaliation by Rome if they reoccupy this area. They begin to cultivate the land but Rome demands that they vacate it immediately, They send two princes, Malorix and Verritus, to Rome to plead their case, and when he finally sees them, Emperor Nero grants them Roman citizenship, but does not grant their request to keep the land. In the end it takes the arrival of a Roman cavalry expedition to sweep them out. Then the homeless Ampsivarii tribe petitions Rome to be able to settle the area but this attempt also fails.

Both names of the princes, Malorix and Verritus, are Celtic, not the Germanic that should be expected of the Frisians. Malorix breaks down as the name Malos, which means 'slow', plus 'rix', which means 'king'. Verritus is 'truth' in Latin. Perhaps his actual name was the Celtic Veritos, which means 'earth', perhaps after some minor deity? The Romans clearly respelled the name to their familiar word for truth. 'Truth' in Celtic seems to have been 'viro' ('wiro'), the same word as 'man'. In any case this is strong evidence for Celtic influence, if not outright mixing with Celts among the Frisians and their splinter tribes

Hückelhoven on the Rhine
Sections of the lower Rhine were cleared by Rome in AD 58 in order to create a buffer zone between the empire and the barbarians on the other side of the Rhine

69 - 70

Gaius Julius Civilis leads a Batavian insurrection against a Rome which is distracted by the events of the Year of the Four Emperors. Supported by the Bructeri, Canninefates, and Chauci, while the Sinuci are also mentioned as a people who live in the region (although their involvement in the revolt is uncertain). The tribes send reinforcements, and Civilis is initially successful, with Castra Vetera being captured and two Roman legions being lost. But to illustrate the dual nature of Chauci policy towards Rome, both they and the Frisii have auxiliaries who are serving with the Romans. A cohort of these are trapped and burned at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis (modern Cologne). Eventual Roman pressure, with aid from the Mediomatrici, Sequani, and Tungri, forces Civilis to retreat to the Batavian island where he agrees peace terms with General Quintus Petilius Cerialis.

It is around this period that the little-known Sinuci are mentioned by Pliny the Elder and Tacitus. Pliny places them between the Frisavones and the Tungri (remembering that the Tungri have been settled on the former territory of the Eburones for the past century). The Frisavones receive two mentions by Pliny and one by Tacitus, and they are usually equated to the Lesser Frisians of the subsequent Offo period of Frisian history.

70 - ?

Haron Ubbo


In his work on Greater Germania, the Roman writer Tacitus locates the Frisians to the west of the Zuyder Zee (in the modern northern Netherlands and north-western Germany), with early groups of Saxons on their eastern flank, along with the Chauci. To the south-east are the Chamavi and Bructeri, to the south the Batavi and the little-known Canninefates, while to the north-east, across the Elbe, are the Aviones and Reudigni.


? - 286

Udolph Haron

Kings of Frisia / Friesland (Offo) (Netherlands)

The Frisians of this period were bordered to the north-east by the Saxon tribes and to the south by the Franks. Both Frisians and Saxons began forming their own states around this time, while Roman forces were shrinking away from their southernmost territories into the domain of Soissons. The Romans knew of the Frisians through their fisheries near Leeuwarden, and there were Frisians in the Roman army, some of whom were stationed in Britain.

Something of Tacitus' division of the Frisians noted above probably remained in the heroic age of the fifth century (noted in Beowulf and Widsith). The Greater Frisians (Fresena cyn or 'kin', Frysna hwylc or 'folk', Frysland, Fresnaland, and many such variants) formed the main mass of the peoples who were governed (at least nominally) by the kings of Frisia. The Lesser Frisians had by now joined with the Hetware (Hætwere) and the Franks to the south, while the Chamavi who were part of the Frankish confederation were settled to the east of the coastal Frisians. These Lesser Frisians may be the Frisavones of the previous Ubbo period of Frisian history. The Frisians in general seem to have been a major sea power in the region, perhaps even the dominant power, helped by the fading of 'Saxon' piracy as the migration to Britain got underway in the fifth to early seventh centuries, accompanied by Frisians in some numbers. Frisian wealth through trading quickly grew during the sixth and seventh centuries, leaving it in a very powerful position.

The Franks united in this century to form a vast kingdom on the southern borders of Frisian territory, a cause of eventual grief for the Frisian tribes. In the north, an even more imminent threat was the growing dominance of the Scandinavians, especially the Danes.

(Additional information from the Alan Bliss/JRR Tolkein examination of the Beowulfian fragment, The Fragment and the Episode.)

286 - ?

Richold I Offo


Richold II


The Saxons have by now formed a loose state which is composed of a large coalition of tribes in modern north-western Germany, in territory between the Frisian coastline and the lands to the south of Angeln.


c.400 - 500

The Dene, or Danes, migrate during this period from southern Sweden into Jutland and the Cimbric peninsula, putting the Jutes under increasing pressure in the competition for living space, and forcing them south and westwards. In this period the Jutes are often closely associated with the Frisians, possibly because many Jutes appear to leave their homeland in this difficult time to seek employment or settlement elsewhere, most notably with the Frisian royal household (where they are present on both sides in the conflict of c.448).

Folcwald / Godwulf Folcwalda

The latter name is in the genealogy of Angeln as Finn's father.

? - c.448

Finn Folcwalding

Son. Added to the royal genealogy of Angeln.


Hnæf of the Danes is killed at the 'Fight at Finnesburg' in Frisia, as is Finn's eldest son. Finn (who is also mentioned in the Old English epic poem, Widsith) is subsequently killed by Hnæf's Anglian comrade in arms, Hengest (Hengist), presumably the great-grandson of Wehta. Hildeburh, the Danish wife of the dead Frisian king, is returned to her people. Finnes ham is sacked.

Leeuwarden was a centre of the North Sea fisheries industry even during the fifth century

While Finn's eldest son is killed in the tragedy of the Freswæl (the traditional name of the Finnesburg event, meaning 'the Frisian Slaughter'), it seems probable that there is a second son who survives and escapes the sack of Finnes ham to lay claim to Frisian rule. It seems likely that both sons are remembered in later English royal genealogies, along with Finn who is clearly present in those genealogies as an heroic name who is suitable to claim as an ancestor. His sons would have been arranged in series after Finn, in the manner of genealogies, becoming genealogically son and grandson of Finn. If this is the case, then the names of Finn's sons can be extracted from the genealogies as shown here. Frealaf especially is shown in all versions of the royal genealogies.


Son and heir. Born c.433. Killed in the Freswæl c.448.


Brother. Probable survivor of the Freswæl, and Frisian king.

449/450 - 455

Hengist (if this is the same man as at the Freswæl) leads his people to Britain, initially to serve as a mercenary there, but this quickly turns into the conquest of a kingdom in Kent. It seems that he invites large numbers of Frisians with him, which would account for archaeological findings in Kent which originate from the mouth of the Rhine. It is possible that this partial Frisian exodus is spurred on by the strategic Western European victory at the Battle of Chalons in 451 which allows for a sudden rise in Frankish dominance in the region, probably to the detriment of the Frisians to their north. The Frisians probably include the large numbers of Jutes who had been in Finn's service - perhaps all of them.


The Germanic Chattuarii appear to be named in two epic Old English epic poems, Beowulf and Widsith, as the Hætwerum (Hetwaras). This tribe forms a coalition with the Frisians and the Hugas (perhaps the Chauci) to fight a Geatish raiding party led by Hygelac, king of the Geats. Hygelac is killed, his party heavily defeated, and only Beowulf escapes.

? - 677

Eadgils I


The English Bishop Wilfred arrives in Frisia and the Anglo-Saxon Christianisation of the Germanic lands begins, although the first mission is quickly aborted as the fiercely pagan Redbad gains the throne and enmity against the Merovingian kings increases.

678 - 689

Redbad / Radboud / Radbod

Fought Franks for entire reign. Regained independence in 718.

689 - 719

Friesland is conquered by the Frankish Merovingian kingdom, although Redbad continues to resist until his death. The Franks partition the area into three regions: Eastern Friesland (between the rivers Lauwers and Weser - later part of Germany); Middle Friesland (between Vlie and Lauwers); and West Friesland (everything west of the Vlie (the important sea arm, essentially for trading places like Dorestad) - the modern Netherlands). In 718-719, Frankish civil war allows the Frisians to declare their independence.


Bishop Wilfred of England returns to Frisia and proves much more successful. For the best part of a century churchmen and monks crisscross the Channel or North Sea, intent on spreading the Christian faith amongst their Germanic cousins who border the Merovingian Frankish kingdom. There is special interest in the conversion of the German Saxons, whom the English consider their kinsfolk.


Pope Sergius ordains Bishop Willibrord as the bishop of the Frisians. The bishop is a Northumbrian missionary and a follower of Bishop Wilfred, one of a wave of English Christians to enter Germanic lands in this period in order to bring them into the faith. Willibrord becomes the first bishop of Utrecht, a fortress which is given as the bishop's palace. An old church within the walls of the former Roman fort becomes his cathedral, an event which is regarded as the founding point of the modern city of Utrecht.

Bishop Willibrord
A Northumbrian missionary who spent his early years under the influence of St Wilfred, bishop of York, Willibrord was appointed bishop of the Frisians at Utrecht, during which he became known as the 'Apostle to the Frisians'


Bishop Willibrord is given land by the Merovingian mayor of the palace, Pepin II of Herstal, at Echternach, at which he founds a monastery to act as his new base. He is ultimately buried there, in the tenth century crypt of the church that bears his name. The territory is within the Frankish empire, but it ultimately forms part of the county of Luxemburg.


The death of the powerful mayor of the Merovingian palace, Pepin II, is the signal for bitter internecine warfare between his grandsons, their sponsors, and his illegitimate son, Charles Martel. Redbad seizes his chance and ravages the Christian enclaves which have been imposed on Frisia by the Franks and drives Willibrord from the country. The bishop retires to Echternach.

718 - 719

Charles Martel proclaims Chlothar king of Austrasia, dividing the Merovingian empire for the first time since 691. During the civil war that follows, the Frisians are able to declare their independence under Redbad, but his death in 719 allows a more cooperative king to gain the throne, and Willibrord is allowed to return to continue his missionary work.

719 - 734

Eadgils II (or Poppo)

Independent king.


The Merovingian empire retakes full control of the Frisians. The final two kings are either puppets or Merovingian administrators.

734 - 777

Gundebold (or Poppo)

777 - 806

Radbold II (or Dirk)


The Saxons have secured help from the Frisians during the Saxon Wars against the Carolingian Franks, but even so Charlemagne drives Widukind and his forces back into the heartland of their territory. Widukind and his colleague or co-leader, Abo. are forced into a surrender in return for clemency and they accept Christianity.


The East Francian section of the empire inherits Frisia. Frisia remains officially attached to Germany until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The ruling house is demoted to the rank of count.

Counts of Friesland (House of Fries) (Netherlands)
AD 839 - 889

The Frisians suffered heavily from Viking, especially Danish Viking, attacks during the period in which England was also facing destruction and eclipse by the sheer weight of Viking attacks. There, only Wessex survived as an independent kingdom. In Frisia, independence had already been lost to the East Franks, but now Frisian dominance of the local coastal area, the Mare Fresicum, was destroyed by repeated Viking attacks. Dorostates Frisionum, the chief trading town from at least as early as the sixth century, known as Dorestad in the ninth century (modern Wijk bi Duurstede not far from Utrecht on the Lower Rhine), suffered especially.

839 - 856

Gerulf I

885 - 889

Gerulf II


Alfred the Great of Wessex experiments with warship styles for his navy. The two styles of choice are Frisian or Danish, revealing the importance of both peoples in the building of state-of-the-art warships. It seems that Frisian masters and crew make up a sizable proportion of the manpower of this new royal navy. Nine ships are involved in a not entirely successful skirmish in which three of the five officers who are important enough to be named are Frisians. Sixty-two of Alfred's navy are killed, Frisians and English (noted in that order). The Frisians and English are still one people separated only by an ocean, and speaking the same language with only dialectal differences (in the same way that the Britons of Brittany maintain close relations with the Cornish of England until early modern times).

Map of the Frankish empire at the Treaty of Verdun AD 843
King Louis 'the Pious' of the Frankish empire attempted to leave the empire intact for his eldest son, Lothar, but the others rebelled at the idea. The treaty of Verdun in AD 843 confirmed the official division of the empire between Charlemagne's three surviving grandsons (click or tap on map to view full sized)

Counts of West-Frisia (House of Holland) (Netherlands)
AD 916 - 1061

The counts of West-Frisia ruled locally in the name of the archbishop of Utrecht, who himself governed the area on behalf of the Holy Roman Emperor. Frisia consisted at this time of the whole coastal area from Flanders to the Danish border, including Utrecht. Count Dirk's territory corresponds roughly with the present day provinces of South and North Holland.

916 - 928

Dirk I

928 - 988

Dirk II

m Hildegard of Flanders. First Count of West-Frisia (964).


With the accession of the Saxon king, Otto I, the power of the Germanic Roman empire is confirmed. Otto is quite vigorous in establishing new counties and border areas within and without the empire's borders. The county of Ardennes under Sigfried gains the stronghold of Lucilinburhuc (the later Luxemburg), Arnulf I the Elder is restored in Flanders, and the March of Austria is formed from territory which has already been captured from early Hungary (around 960).

Map of Germany AD 962
Germany in AD 962 may have had its new emperor to govern those territories which are shown within the dark black line, but it was still a patchwork of competing interests and power bases (click or tap on map to view full sized)

At the same time, Saxony gains Hermann Billung as its duke, charged with maintaining the duchy's eastern borders and expanding them further to the east, alongside the recently-created North March. Perhaps as a reaction to this or as the culmination of a process that is already heading that way, the duchy of Poland is formed around the same time.

988 - 993

Arnhulf / Aernhoud of Ghent

993 - 1039

Dirk III Hierosolymitas

m Othelindis, dau of Bernard I of Saxony.

1039 - 1049

Dirk IV

Son of Dirk III. Killed in battle.

1046 - 1049

Dirk has continued his father's policy of expanding his territorial possessions around the low-lying peat districts of Holland and Utrecht. As a result he has come into conflict with the bishop of Utrecht, along with other bishops and monasteries. The Holy Roman empire's Henry III personally leads an expedition against him in 1046, forcing Dirk to relinquish some of his gains.

Almost immediately after the emperor departs, Dirk begins plundering the lands of the bishops of Utrecht and Liège. The emperor returns in 1047 to destroy the stronghold at Rijnsburg, but is over-confident. His forces suffer heavy losses on their retreat, so Dirk's allies rise up in open revolt. On 13 January 1049 Dirk is ambushed and killed near Dordrecht by a force which is led by Bishop Theodwin of Liège, along with elements of Utrecht and Metz.

1049 - 1061

Floris / Flores I

Son of Dirk III.


When Floris I dies, his widow, Gertrude, initially governs West-Frisia as regent, until Dirk V can accede to the title of count of Holland.

Counts of Holland (House of Holland) (Netherlands)
AD 1061 - 1299

The name 'Holland' only came in use around the year 1100. Before that the region was recognised universally as Western Frisia.

1061 - 1091

Dirk V

Son of Floris I of West-Frisia & Gertrude of Saxony.

1061 - 1064

Geertruida / Geertrui of Saxony

Countess / Gravin. Wife of Floris I. m Robert of Flanders.

1064 - 1074

Robert of Flanders / Robrecht de Fries

m Gertrude. Count of Flanders (1071-1093).

1074 - 1076

Govert met de Bult

House of Lotharingia.

1091 - 1121

Floris / Flores II de Vette (Fat)



The old line of counts had by now become extinct, and internecine feuding erupts, and continues until the region is invaded by Spanish imperial troops at the end of the fifteenth century.

1122 - 1157

Dirk VI


1157 - 1190

Floris / Flores III


1190 - 1203

Dirk VII




Countess / Gravin. Dau.

1203 - 1222

William I

Son of Floris III.

1222 - 1234

Floris / Flores IV


1234 - 1256

William II

Son. Rival for the Holy Roman empire (1247-1256).

1256 - 1296

Floris / Flores V

Son. Murdered.


The separation of East Frisia from West Frisia had been de facto during the internecine feuding of the thirteenth century. The division becomes permanent when the Dollart Estuary, at the mouth of the Elms, is flooded. A line of independent counts is established there by 1400.


Floris is murdered, and his son, Jan, may be involved. If so, it is something he regrets as, according to local legend, he orders the building of Heilig Lambertuskerk in Linden, to the south of Nijmegen, as a penance.

1296 - 1299

Jan / John I of Cuijk

Son. No heir.


Aleid, younger sister of William II, marries Jan of Avesnes, count of Hainaut, in 1246. Their son becomes Jan II of Holland.

Counts of Holland-Hennegau (House of Avesnes) (Netherlands)
AD 1299 - 1349

1299 - 1304

Jan II of Avesnes

Count of Hennegau (1280). Grandson of Margaret I of Flanders.

1304 - 1337

William III de Goede


1337 - 1345

William IV


1345 - 1349

Margaret / Margaratha of Beieren

Countess / Gravin. Dau of William III. m Louis IV the Bavarian.


William, son of Margaret and Louis IV of Bavaria, becomes William V of Holland. Hennegau ceases to be used in the title.

Counts of Holland (House of Beiers) (Netherlands)
AD 1349 - 1433

The Beiers ruled in West Frisia only. An independent line of counts became established in East Frisia which had been divided from the west since the flooding of the Dollart Estuary in 1277, and the region eventually became part of Germany.

1349 - 1389

William V

Son of Margaret.

1389 - 1404

Albert / Albrecht

Son of Margaret.


FeatureJohn of Bavaria, son of Count Albert of Holland, is the first of a new breed of prince-bishop for Liège and something of a departure from what has gone before (and see feature link). Aged seventeen when he gains office, he always refuses to be a priest and is never consecrated as a bishop. Instead he goes by the titles 'Elected from Liège and Count of Loon', and refuses all others.

1404 - 1417

William VI

Son. m Margaret of Burgundy (1385).

1417 - 1433

Jacoba / Jacqueline

Countess / Gravin. Dau. No heir. d.1436.

1417 - 1424


John IV, Duke of Brabant (1415-1427). m Jacoba.


With the remarriage of Jacoba to the English Henry of Gloucester, the title passes to the dukes of Burgundy.

Counts of Holland (House of Burgundy) (Netherlands)
AD 1433 - 1482

1433 - 1467

Philip I the Good

Duke of Burgundy.


Philip gains the duchy of Luxembourg, a key link in the chain of possessions between Burgundy and Flanders and a vital component in raising Burgundy's wealth and power.

1467 - 1477

Charles I the Bold (Karel I de Stoute)

Duke of Burgundy.

1474 - 1477

Duke René of Lorraine is facing increasing pressure both from Louis XI of France and Charles the Bold of Burgundy. He has already allied himself with Charles, but Burgundian garrisons have been established in Lorraine so René now switches allegiance to Louis. Charles invades Lorraine, forcing René to abandon Nancy on 30 November 1475. The city is recaptured on 5 October 1476 before René leads an army of Swiss mercenaries into the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477. Charles is defeated and killed, ending the Burgundian Wars.

1477 - 1482

Mary of Burgundy (Maria de Rijke)

Duchess of Burgundy. m Maximilian of Austria 1477.


The duchy of Burgundy reverts to the French throne through the efforts of Louis XI of France. The Free County of Burgundy and Flanders pass to Austria, along with the county of Holland, creating a very different feel for the Low Countries. In 1493, with the accession of Maximilian, they become possessions of the Holy Roman empire.

Counts of Holland (House of Habsburg) (Netherlands)
AD 1482 - 1581

1482 - 1494

Maximilian of Habsburg

Became HRE Emperor (1493). Passed Holland to his son.

1487 - 1492

The Second Flemish Revolt is fuelled by the massively-increased taxes, frequent epidemics which are decimating the population of the Netherlands, and economic hardship. The failure of Maximilian's French campaign is the trigger. The revolt is sparked in Ghent in November 1487. When Maximilian attempts to blockade the city, Bruges joins the revolt, capturing Maximilian himself.

The empire sends further troops, backed by Antwerp, with 1488 being a period of chaos across the Southern Netherlands. In the end Maximilian is freed despite his best intentions of negotiating a peaceful outcome, and Albert 'the Bold' of Saxony is drafted in as the governor of the Netherlands to suppress the revolt by 1492.

1494 - 1495

The county of Holland passes to the son of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy. That son is Philip, later king consort of Castile. The following year, an alliance is formed between Naples, the Pope, Milan, Venice, and the emperor in order to defend Italy from Charles VIII of France. This marks the beginning of the highly destructive Italian Wars which last until 1559.

1494 - 1506

Philip II de Schone

Son. Became Philip I of Castile (1504).

1506 - 1515


Regent for Charles II. HRE (1493-1519).

1515 - 1555

Charles II / Karel II

Grandson of Maximilian. Charles I of Spain (1516-1556).

1555 - 1581

Philip III

Philip II of Spain (1556-1598). Deposed by the Dutch.

1555 - 1581

FeatureThe Iconoclasm dispute breaks out in the Habsburg Low Countries, specifically in Steenvoorde (now in French Flanders), just twenty kilometres from the Kemmelberg as the crow flies (see feature link). The duke of Alba is sent to the Netherlands to quell the burgeoning revolt. From the rebellious provinces of Holland and Zeeland in the north, the west of Flanders, Brabant, and the vicinity of Tournai, the 'forest beggars' spread all over the Low Countries. More and more ordinary citizens band together and head the resistance movement.


The county of Holland passes to the son of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy. That son is Philip, later king consort of Castile. The following year, an alliance is formed between Naples, the Pope, Milan, Venice, and the emperor in order to defend Italy from Charles VIII of France. This marks the beginning of the highly destructive Italian Wars which last until 1559.

Stadhouder Princes of Holland (House of Orange) (Netherlands)
AD 1581 - 1747

(Information by Peter Kessler, Drs Dirk van Duijvenbode, and William Willems, with additional information from External Links: History Extra, and A Short History of Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg (available for download as a PDF from Stanford University), and Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

1463 - 1475

William VII of Chalon

Prince of Orange.

1475 - 1502

Jean II of Chalon

Prince of Orange.

1502 - 1515

Claudia of Chalon & Orange

Dau. m Hendrik III of Nassau (1515).

1515 - 1538

Hendrik of Nassau

Count of Nassau. Prince of Orange.

1538 - 1544

René of Chalon

Son. Count of Nassau. Prince of Orange.

1544 - 1555

William the Silent of Chalon

Nephew. Count of Nassau. Prince of Orange.


The princes of Orange play no part in Dutch history until this year. William I, count of Nassau, prince of Orange (born in Nassau), is officially proclaimed stadhouder of the counties of Holland and Zeeland and the diocese of Utrecht by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The princes of Orange now rule in the name of the absent Spanish count of Holland, Philip III (King Phillip II of Spain).

Map of German states AD 1560
Introduced in 1560, the system of imperial states replaced the now-outdated feudal system, with an imperial circle ('reichskreis') being a regional grouping of the imperial states (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1555 - 1584

William I the Silent (de Zwijger)

Led revolt against Spanish Habsburgs. Assassinated 10 July.

1568 - 1648

The War of Liberation (or Eighty Years War) against the Spanish Habsburgs ends with the Münster (Westphalia) peace treaty. Europe recognises the independence of the Netherlands.


In July seven provinces from the northern Netherlands claim independence from the Habsburgs of Spain to become the republic of the United Netherlands, while Spain continues to rule the southern provinces which become known as the Spanish Netherlands. The Habsburgs are thrown out of the Netherlands.

William, who remains stadhouder, now governs Holland along with the Staten Generaal (the representatives of the seven provinces). The Staten-Generaal continues to select members of the House of Orange to govern the Netherlands as stadhouder (even though there is no longer any monarch). They are kings in all but name.

1585 - 1625

Maurits / Maurice



FeatureThe city of Nijmegen is conquered by the Dutch stadhouder, freeing it from Habsburg control. Its predominantly Catholic churches are immediately converted to Protestantism.


The arrival of a Dutch trading vessel in Japan, the Liefde, greatly unsettles the Portuguese and Spanish merchants there. The vessel's pilot, William Adams, is an Englishman of wit and charm. He is escorted to the powerful warlord, Tokugawa Ieyasu, where he reveals the lies peddled by Jesuits about religion in Europe.

Ieyasu is no less interested in the Liefde's canon, and it is possible that he uses them in battle later in the year. (William Adams serves as the inspiration for the character of John Blackthorne in James Clavell's novel, Shogun, with the role played by Richard Chamberlain in the remarkable tv mini-series of the same name.)


A Dutch admiral, Willem Jansz, discovers a landmass in the southern ocean which is eventually named Australia, but no effort is made to colonise it. Having sailed from the Netherlands in 1603 as skipper of the Duyfken, he is examining the east coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria at the time.

Nieuw Amsterdam
Willem Jansz later served as governor of Fort Henricus on Solor, in 1618-1628, during which time he also served as admiral of the Dutch fleet and then as as governor of Banda in 1623-1627

1609 - 1621

The Spanish Netherlands and their Habsburg masters are exhausted by the war with the northerners. A truce is agreed which all but recognises the legality of the independence of the northern Netherlands.


The Dutch found a commercial trading post on the eastern coast of North America and name it New Amsterdam. Dutch pirates freely operate against the Spanish in the Americas, especially in the vicinity of Hispaniola.

1625 - 1647

Frederick Henry

Son of William I.

1624 - 1625

The first director-general of the Dutch West India Company's colony of New Netherland in the Americas is appointed in 1624. The following year, Dutch forces under Boudewijn Hendrick attack the capital of Puerto Rico, but are forced back by the governor, although they set fire to the city as they retreat.


The First Genoese-Savoyard War is part of the greater Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). Savoyard forces join those of France and the Netherlands to besiege Genoa, the capital of the eponymous republic, while the rest of its lands suffer occupation by the invaders. Spain sends a major naval expedition to relieve Genoa, which it does. The Genoese republic is restored and they and the Spanish turn the tables, invading Piedmont and securing the overland supply route between northern Italy and the Spanish Netherlands, known as the Spanish Road. The war ends in a stalemate with the Treaty of Monçon.


A new director-general arrives at New Amsterdam to take command of the New Netherland settlements - Governor Kieft - who chooses to deal with the neighbouring tribes through intimidation rather than negotiation. One of his first actions is to send an armed sloop to the Tappan villages to demand a tribute of corn and wampum. The Tappan have always been peaceful and have even sold some of their land to the Dutch. They reluctantly pay but cannot believe that the Dutch have treated them this way.

Nieuw Amsterdam
This image of 'Nieuw Amsterdam' is from the map of America by Nicholas Visscher of 1682, close enough to the 1639 arrival of the notorious Governor Kieft for the scene to have looked much the same (Gilder Lehrman Collection)


The Dutch become allied to the African Kongo kingdom as the latter attempt to dislodge the Portuguese slave traders.

1642 - 1644

The Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, leaves Batavia in the Dutch East Indies and reaches the north-western coast of Australia. From there he sails through the Indian Ocean almost as far as Madagascar before returning to reach Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand. His final return to Batavia is by way of the northern coast of New Guinea.

1647 - 1650

William II

1650 - 1672

Eerste Stadhouderloze Tijdperk (the First Stadhouderless Era). William III is born eight days after his father's death. As William III is too young to rule, and there is no other Orange to select, the Staten-Generaal do not select a stadhouder at all.


The colony of New Sweden in the Americas has its main settlement at Fort Christina captured by the Dutch in retaliation for a brief Swedish occupation of one of the forts in New Netherland.

1664 - 1667

Under the leadership of the duke of York, the English attack and capture the province of New Netherland in 1664. The act leads to the Second Anglo-Dutch War the following year, which ends with the Netherlands agreeing to the English ownership of the colony in exchange for Suriname.

The fall of New Amsterdam
As one Indian war rumbled on and another started up, Dutch Director-General Peter Stuyvesant was forced to surrender New Amsterdam to the British on 8 September 1664, allowing the colony's new owners to rename it New York City (click or tap on image to view full sized)


Several nations declare war on the Netherlands, and the people plead for a member of the house of Orange to lead them. William III is selected. The Dutch republic finances the wars of Stadthouder William III primarily by borrowing.

1672 - 1702

William III

Son. William III of England (1689-1702). No heir.

1673 - 1674

The territory of former Dutch New Amsterdam is seized during the Third Anglo-Dutch war, but is returned to England as part of the Treaty of Westminster in 1674.

It is during this period, the last quarter of the seventeenth century, that the Netherlands takes control of the islands which form the Dutch West Indies. Mostly discovered and partially settled by Spain in 1493 (the windward isles) and 1499 (the leeward isles), their conquest by the Dutch West India Company secures them as military outposts and trade bases.

1702 - 1720

This is the Tweede Stadhouderloze Tijdperk (the Second Stadhouderless Era). No stadhouder is elected by the Staten-Generaal until 1747. This is true even during the War of the Quadruple Alliance, when King Philip V of Spain, unhappy with the arrangements set at the end of the War of Succession, occupies Sardinia and Sicily. The war begins with Philip's first actions of 1717, and is formally declared in 1718. Austria, Britain, France, and Holland unite to defeat Spain, and peace is again declared with the Treaty of The Hague which is signed in 1720.

The Battle of Glenshiel in 1719
The Battle of Glenshiel in 1719 was the second and final defeat of a doomed small-scale Spanish-supported invasion of Scotland, part of the War of the Quadruple Alliance

1713 - 1714

The War of the Spanish Succession comes to an end with the signing of the Treaties of Utrecht. Neither the British nor the Dutch will allow the other to control the southern (formerly Spanish) Netherlands, which therefore become the Austrian Netherlands, with Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI from the House of Habsburg as sovereign.


The Austrian-Dutch 'Antwerp Barrier Treaty' sees six barrier towns and one fortress on the territory of the new Austrian Netherlands - including Dutch garrisons, part of the Dutch defence system - being retained with the agreement of France. The closing of the Scheldt for all non-Dutch ships to trade with Antwerp is once again confirmed. At times, the number of Dutch troops is larger than the Austrian contingent in the Austrian Netherlands. The Dutch republic has effectively bankrupted itself to create this very costly barrier fortresses which ends up providing only illusory security. The fortresses are quickly overrun during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748).

The frozen Schelde and Antwerp
The frozen River Schelde divides a warming fire from the Dutch town of Antwerp in the near distance, painted in 1593 by Lucas van Valckenborch


The first European explorer to reach Easter Island is Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutch captain who arrives there on Easter Sunday 1722. He names the island on that basis. Captain James Cook, the English explorer, reaches the island in 1774. The arrival of Europeans introduces disease and slave-trading which further reduces an already stressed population.


Hessen-Homburg's minimal finances remain perilous, and the landgraviate's debt has continued to grow. Landgrave Frederick III is forced by an imperial debit commission to return to the service of the Dutch in 1738. He is made governor of the city of Liege in that year, being promoted to Breda in 1741 until his death in 1746.


The French invade the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands, capturing the barrier fortress of Bergen op Zoom. The call goes up for the restoration of the stadtholderate and, eventually, the Staten-Generaal popularly elects a member of the House of Orange to lead the country's defence. A remote cousin of William III, William of Nassau, stadhouder of Friesland, is chosen to fill the post. In honour of his predecessors he assumes the name 'Orange-Nassau'.

Stadhouder Princes of Holland (House of Orange-Nassau) / Batavian Republic (Netherlands)
AD 1747 - 1806

The Tweede Stadhouderloze Tijdperk (the 'Second Stadhouderless Era') had been triggered by the death of William III in England in 1702. He died without an heir and no stadhouder was elected in the Netherlands by the Staten-Generaal to succeed him. The dire financial situation - due mainly to William III's borrowing - combined with a declining economy caused the Dutch republic to resign voluntarily from its growing position as a world power, and it lost its primacy in world trade which had been created in the seventeen century.

The republic now embarked upon a policy of neutralism which would last until the end of the Second Stadhouderless Era in 1747. In that year, during the Austrian War of Succession, the French invaded Zeeland and captured the barrier fortress of Bergen op Zoom, giving them control of the entire length of the River Scheldt. The city was key to opening up both the Dutch republic and Hanover to a potential French invasion. The call went up for the restoration of the stadtholderate. Following  unrest, demonstrations by Orangist adherents, rioting, and several episodes of mob violence, all seven provinces gradually turn back to the stadtholderate - an episode known as the Orangist Revolution.

A remote cousin of William III's, William of Nassau (formerly Nassau-Dillenberg), stadhouder of Friesland, was elected to the post of stadhoulder-general of all seven United Provinces. In honour of his predecessors he took the name 'Orange-Nassau' (the principality of Orange had been returned to France with the Treaties of Utrecht in 1713, but the title had remained with the Dutch). The elected title of stadhouder was changed to erfstadhouder (hereditary stadhouder: 'erf' or 'erven', which means 'inherit'). The Netherlands remained a republic until the French conquest of 1795.

(Information by Peter Kessler, Drs Dirk van Duijvenbode, and William Willems, with additional information from Foreign Policy and the French Revolution: Charles-François Dumouriez, Pierre LeBrun, and the Belgian Plan, 1789-1793, Patricia Howe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), and from External Links: A Short History of Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg (available for download as a PDF from Stanford University), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Belgium from Revolution to the War of the Sixth Coalition 1789-1814, Dale Pappas (The Napoleon Series Archive).)

1747 - 1751

William IV Friso

Former stadhouder of Friesland (now 1 of seven provinces).

1748 - 1751

Despite the events of 1747, the reformed erfstadhouder regime has yet to be put in place, Calvinist followers of the Orangist ideology begin to express their fury against their leading representatives (with Calvinists so far having been tolerated locally by Catholics). Anti-Catholics riots and mob violence follow.

Once granted power the new stadholderate acquires near-dictatorial powers and the situation in the country does not improve. As a matter of fact, while William is at first popular with the people, he was also director-general of the 'Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie' (VOC, the Dutch East India Company), and his alliance with the business class deepens while the disparity between rich and poor grows. But then William IV dies suddenly in 1751.

1751 - 1795

William V the Batavian

Son. Declared war on France (1793). Fled to England (1795).

1751 - 1766


Mother and regent. Dau of George II of England.


William V accedes at the tender age of three. His mother Anne acts as regent until his maturity in 1766 when he becomes stadholder-general, the last to hold that office. His long period of regency is marked by corruption and misrule. He proves to be a weak and incompetent ruler, but still manages to guide his family through the difficult French-Batavian period at the end of the century.

The newly formed Patriot Party - an anti-Orangist group - emerges out of the former Staten-Generaal Party and hostility against the Orangists is growing in general. The Patriots are mainly supported by the middle class, seeking a more democratic form of government while also aiming to reduce corruption and the level of power held by William.

1780 - 1784

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War pits the Netherlands against Britain over disagreements regarding the legality and conduct of Dutch trade with Britain's enemies (France and Spain) during the American War of Independence. When the British discover a secret commercial treaty between the city of Amsterdam and the rebellious colonies in America, they declare war against the Dutch republic. Most Dutch colonial possessions in the East and West Indies are lost to Britain. A British blockade of the Dutch coast further weakens the Dutch economy and the war turns out to be financially disastrous for the Dutch. The Treaties of Paris are signed in 1783 and 1784 to end the conflict.

1785 - 1787

After the signing of the Treaties of Paris, there is growing sense of unrest in the impoverished Dutch republic. A political and economic crisis is the result, resulting in open rebellion by anti-Orangists. At this time Dutch banks still hold much of the world's financial capital, but the Patriots are sympathetic to France, opposing the Anglophile House of Orange and the bankers. Moreover, they draw inspiration from the 1780 'Declaration of Independence' by the America colonies.

The Patriot Revolution - the first popular democratic revolution on continental Europe - takes the form of an armed insurrection by local militias in certain Dutch towns. The goal is to remove government officials and to force new elections. Seen as a whole this revolution is considered as a forerunner of the French Revolution.

In 1787 William V has to bring in Prussian troops and a small contingent of British troops to intervene in order to maintain his authority. For a while, no one dares to appear in public without an orange cockade to show their support for Orangism. This severe military response overwhelms the Patriots and puts the stadhouder firmly back in control. Many Patriots, perhaps around 40,000 in all, flee to Brabant and to Flemish-speaking northern France. The situation remains unchanged until 1795.

1793 - 1794

In February, the French army invades the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium) and the territory is annexed for a short period. Militarily, France's fortunes look shaky when Great Britain, Naples, the Netherlands, and Spain join Austria and Prussia in the First Coalition. The French are defeated at the Battle of Neerwinden (East Flanders) on 18 March 1793. The French position in the Austrian Netherlands swiftly collapses, only to be renewed on a permanent basis in 1794.


The French Directory is established on 3 November 1795, headed by Paul Barras. France's Revolutionary Wars against the monarchies of Europe begins to carve out a new empire for the country. Just a year after joining the First Coalition (in 1974), the Netherlands is invaded and the puppet Batavian republic set up. William V is forced to flee, heading for England, the country of his mother.

Batavian Republic (Netherlands)
AD 1795 - 1806

The French Directory was established on 3 November 1795, headed by Paul Barras. France's Revolutionary Wars against the monarchies of Europe began to carve out a new empire for the country, both at home and abroad. The entire island of Hispaniola was gained from Spain in 1795, while the Netherlands were invaded in the same year, just a year after having joined the First Coalition against the French. William V is forced to flee, heading for England, his mother Anne's country of birth.

The position of stadhouder is replaced by the puppet Batavian republic (Bataafsche Republiek, named after an ancient Germanic tribe called the Batavi which occupied part of the region in the centuries immediately before and after the birth of Christ). The republic was modelled on the French system. Subsequently a peace agreement was sealed with Prussia and Spain and the Netherlands were officially lost to France. Similarly, Hessen-Homburg fell under near-constant French military occupation, having to pay contributions to the French war effort and all occupied lands were required to provide plenty of conscripts to the French army.

(Information by Peter Kessler, Drs Dirk van Duijvenbode, and William Willems, with additional information from Foreign Policy and the French Revolution: Charles-François Dumouriez, Pierre LeBrun, and the Belgian Plan, 1789-1793, Patricia Howe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), and from External Links: A Short History of Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg (available for download as a PDF from Stanford University), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Belgium from Revolution to the War of the Sixth Coalition 1789-1814, Dale Pappas (The Napoleon Series Archive).)


On 14 June, the Second Coalition is effectively destroyed by an Austrian defeat at the Battle of Marengo. The French victory re-secures their client republics in the Netherlands and Italy, although Napoleon has already restored the Cisalpine republic, on 4 June.

Battle of Marengo 1800
One of Napoleon's most brilliant achievements was his Italian campaign, which ended with the Battle of Marengo on 14 June 1800 - Austria was ejected from Northern Italy and French power there was now unquestioned


The French-controlled kingdom of Holland is created by Napoleon Bonaparte.

Kingdom of Holland (Bonaparte) (Netherlands)
AD 1806 - 1813

The French-controlled Kingdom of Holland was created by Napoleon Bonaparte as he extended his new model of controlling his captured territories. He placed one of his brothers on the throne.

(Information by Peter Kessler, Drs Dirk van Duijvenbode, and William Willems, with additional information from Foreign Policy and the French Revolution: Charles-François Dumouriez, Pierre LeBrun, and the Belgian Plan, 1789-1793, Patricia Howe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), and from External Links: A Short History of Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg (available for download as a PDF from Stanford University), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Belgium from Revolution to the War of the Sixth Coalition 1789-1814, Dale Pappas (The Napoleon Series Archive).)

1806 - 1810

Louis Bonaparte

Brother of Napoleon.


Napoleon throws his brother out of office and draws Holland directly into the French empire so that it occupies a position which is modelled on that of the French Netherlands, directly controlled from Paris since 1795.

1810 - 1813

Napoleon Bonaparte

Emperor of France.


Napoleon is forced out of Germany and greatly weakened in Holland. William I raises Dutch forces as part of the British-led Allied Army.

Dutch troops at Waterloo
Under imperial France, troops from Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were forced to serve in the French ranks right up until 1814, so when they stood in the allied lines at Waterloo in 1815 their reliability was doubted by some, although many of their units did indeed stand firm and suffered heavy casualties

Map Kingdom of the Netherlands (House of Orange-Nassau) (Northern Netherlands)
AD 1813 - Present Day

The modern kingdom includes territory that in the first century AD was occupied by various Celtic and Germanic tribes including the Batavi and Canninefates. They were eventually subsumed either by the Franks to the south or the Frisii to the north. The Netherlands also includes parts of former Lower Lorraine which was made up of Breda, Antwerp, Brabant, and Aix-la-Chapelle. This had passed to the dukes of Brabant in 1100 and the title of Lower Lorraine had fallen out of use in 1190.

FeatureFollowing Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo (see feature link), the Congress of Vienna in June 1815 agreed on the creation of a unified state out of the various territories of the Netherlands. Much of the grand duchy of Luxembourg and even the prince-bishopric of Liège would also be included. The Belgian territories were not to be left in the hands of France but instead would create a single strong buffer state against any further potential French aggression. This new state would be ruled by King William I of the Netherlands, prince of Orange-Nassau. However, it was created largely for the convenience of Europe, regardless of the wishes of the Belgian and Dutch people. Internal stresses would tear it apart by 1830.

(Information by Peter Kessler, Drs Dirk van Duijvenbode, and William Willems, with additional information from BBC News, from Foreign Policy and the French Revolution: Charles-François Dumouriez, Pierre LeBrun, and the Belgian Plan, 1789-1793, Patricia Howe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), from The First World War, John Keegan (Vintage Books, 2000), and from External Links: A Short History of Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg (available for download as a PDF from Stanford University), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Belgium from Revolution to the War of the Sixth Coalition 1789-1814, Dale Pappas (The Napoleon Series Archive).)

1813 - 1840

William I

Son of Prince William V. Sovereign of Holland 1813-1815.


The duke of Wellington's Anglo-Dutch-German army defeats Napoleon's French army at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June in conjunction with the Prussian army, ending twenty-five years of war in Europe. By the power of the subsequent Congress of Vienna, William is elevated to the status of king to rule the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, incorporating Holland and Belgium. He is also made grand duke of Luxembourg.

King William I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
King William I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands struggled to please both halves of his state despite fostering industry and trade in both of them, with the result that the two halves split in 1831

1830 - 1831

Belgium splits from Dutch rule and the following year proclaims its own kingdom. The country shortens its name to 'Kingdom of the Netherlands', although the king remains monarch of Luxembourg. In 1839 he also becomes duke of Limberg.

Belatedly realising that international support for the continuation of his united kingdom of the Netherlands is not going to be forthcoming, William I launches the Ten Days Campaign on 2 August 1831. His troops plunge deep into Belgian territory, winning several encounters and occupying Antwerp. Leopold appeals to France for assistance which sends its own forces. The Dutch are unwilling to face the French, instead withdrawing almost entirely. Only Antwerp remains occupied, until November 1832.


William abdicates and three years later dies in Berlin. The title 'Duke of Limberg' passes to his son along with the Dutch throne.

1840 - 1848

William II

Son. Nicknamed Little Frog by British in the Peninsula War.


In a year of European revolutions, the citizens of France revolt against their government and the monarchy is overthrown. William II heads off potential revolt in the Netherlands by instituting a more liberal regime. A committee headed by a prominent liberal, Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, is selected to create a new constitution, which allows for the Eerste Kamer (the Dutch Senate) to be filled by indirect election through the Provincial States. The Tweede Kamer (the House of Representatives) is to be elected directly, although only through census suffrage rather than universal suffrage (until 1917). By instituting these changes, the king greatly decreases royal power.

1849 - 1890

William III

Son. His own sons predeceased him.


In what is known as 'The Luxembourg Coup of 1856', William III revises Luxembourg's constitution on 27 November. Probably as a reaction to the loss of authority in the Netherlands, William greatly expands his powers. The announcement of the changes is made by Prince Henry, governor of Luxembourg.


British influence over the Gold Coast increases further when Elmina Castle is purchased, this being the last of the Dutch forts along the coast. The Asante, who for years have considered the Dutch at Elmina to be their allies, now lose their last trade outlet to the sea. To prevent this loss and to ensure that their revenue stream continues, an invasion of the coast is planned for the following year.


William III has no surviving male heirs, so his daughter Wilhelmina becomes queen of the Netherlands. Under Salic Law, the grand duchy of Luxembourg cannot be ruled by a woman, so the position of duke is granted to a distant relative of William III. This ends the personal union between the Netherlands and Luxembourg, but it grants a ducal seat to Adolphe, the dispossessed duke of Nassau.

1890 - 1948


Dau. Queen. m Prince Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

1940 - 1945

In the first full year of the Second World War, Wilhelmina and the Dutch Government flee to London to escape the Nazi German army as it makes a lighting strike on the Netherlands and Belgium, and proclaim a Dutch Government in Exile.

At the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942, Dutch and Australian forces occupy the Portuguese colony of East Timor. They are driven out by the Japanese, who occupy East Timor from 1942 to 1945.

1945 - 1948

Following its release from renewed German occupation during the Second World War, Luxembourg abandons its neutrality and becomes a front-rank enthusiast for international co-operation. In 1948 Luxembourg furthers its attempts to encourage a more unified Europe by becoming a founder member of a customs union with Belgium and the Netherlands.


Wilhelmina abdicates to make way for her daughter, Juliana. With the latter having married Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld in 1937, their children are technically members of the House of Lippe, but officially they remain part of the House of Orange-Nassau.

Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands
The marriage between Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands was a major social event in 1937

1948 - 1980


Dau. Queen. m Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Abdicated.

1948 - 2004

Juliana becomes known as the Bicycling Queen, due to her fondness for cycling alone in public in the days before heavy personal security. Juliana abdicates in 1980 in favour of her daughter and remains Princess Juliana until her death on 19 March 2004 from pneumonia.


The Dutch West Indies become the semi-autonomous Netherlands Antilles. Aruba also remains a possession.


The Dutch colony of Suriname in South America gains independence as a republic.

1980 - 2013


Dau. Queen. m Claus von Amsberg. Abdicated.


The queen's second son, Prince Johan Friso, gives up his rights to the throne when he marries human rights activist Mabel Wisse Smit. The government had refused to give its support to the marriage, because the couple had given misleading information about the bride's relationship with a dead gangster. Under Dutch law, royals who aspire to the throne must receive permission from the government and parliament to marry as the cabinet will bear responsibility for their actions.


The Netherlands Antilles ceases to exist with a change of the five islands' constitutional status. Curacao and St Maarten become autonomous countries within the kingdom of the Netherlands, joining Aruba (which had gained the status in 1986). Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba become autonomous special municipalities of the kingdom. The Netherlands retains responsibility for defence and foreign policy. The Dutch government also has initial oversight over Curacao's finances under a debt-relief arrangement.


On 28 January 2013, Queen Beatrix announces that she is to abdicate in April in favour of her son. She formally stands down on 30 April, following a twentieth-century tradition of Dutch monarchs abdicating the throne in favour of a mature heir. The decision is taken as she approaches her seventy-fifth birthday, and has been widely expected.

2013 - Present

William-Alexander / William IV

Son. m Argentinean Máxima Zorreguieta on 2 Feb 2002.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.