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|Status||Personal union of Imperial fiefs|
|Common languages||Dutch, Low Saxon, Frisian, Walloon, Luxembourgish, French|
|Religion|| Roman Catholic |
|Historical era||Early modern period|
• Dutch Act of Abjuration
|ISO 3166 code||NL|
The Seventeen Provinces were the Imperial states of the Habsburg Netherlands in the 16th century. They roughly covered the Low Countries, i.e., what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and most of the French departments of Nord (French Flanders and French Hainaut) and Pas-de-Calais (Artois). Also within this area were semi-independent fiefdoms, mainly ecclesiastical ones, such as Liège, Cambrai and Stavelot-Malmedy.
The Seventeen Provinces arose from the Burgundian Netherlands, a number of fiefs held by the House of Valois-Burgundy and inherited by the Habsburg dynasty in 1482, and held by Habsburg Spain from 1556. Starting in 1512, the Provinces formed the major part of the Burgundian Circle. In 1581, the Seven United Provinces seceded to form the Dutch Republic.
After the Habsburg emperor Charles V had re-acquired the Duchy of Guelders from Duke William of Jülich-Cleves-Berg by the 1543 Treaty of Venlo, the Seventeen Provinces comprised:
It was not always the same seventeen provinces represented at the Estates-General of the Netherlands. Sometimes, one delegation was included in another.
In later years, the County of Zutphen became a part of the Duchy of Guelders, and the Duchy of Limburg was dependent on the Duchy of Brabant. The Lordship of Drenthe is sometimes considered part of the Lordship of Overijssel. On the other hand, the French-speaking cities of Flanders were sometimes recognised as a separate province.
Therefore, in some lists Zutphen and Drenthe are replaced by
There were a number of fiefdoms in the Low Countries that were not part of the Seventeen Provinces, mainly because they did not belong to the Burgundian Circle, but to the Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle. The largest of these was the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, the green area on the map, including the County of Horne. The ethnically and culturally Dutch duchies of Cleves and Julich did not join either. In the north, there were also a few smaller entities like the island of Ameland that would retain their own lords until the French Revolution.
Historians came up with different variations of the list, but always with 17 members. This number could have been chosen because of its Christian connotation. 
|History of the Low Countries|
| Gallia Belgica (55 BC – 5th c. AD)|
Germania Inferior (83 – 5th c.)
|Saxons|| Salian Franks |
| Frisian Kingdom |
|Frankish Kingdom (481–843)—Carolingian Empire (800–843)|
|Middle Francia (843–855)|| West|
| Kingdom of Lotharingia (855– 959)|
Duchy of Lower Lorraine (959–)
Burgundian Netherlands (1384–1482)
Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1795)
(Seventeen Provinces after 1543)
United States of Belgium
Batavian Republic (1795–1806)
Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810)
associated with French First Republic (1795–1804)
part of First French Empire (1804–1815)
Princip. of the Netherlands (1813–1815)
|United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–1830)|| |
Gr D. L.
Kingdom of the Netherlands (1839–)
Kingdom of Belgium (1830–)
| Gr D. of|
The Seventeen Provinces originated from the Burgundian Netherlands. The dukes of Burgundy systematically became the lords of different provinces. Mary I of Valois, Duchess of Burgundy was the last of the House of Burgundy.
Mary married Maximilian I of Habsburg, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1477, and the provinces were acquired by the House of Habsburg on her death in 1482, with the exception of the Duchy of Burgundy itself, which, with an appeal to Salic law, had been reabsorbed into France upon the death of Mary's father, Charles the Bold. Maximilian and Mary's grandson, Charles V of Habsburg, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Spain, eventually united all 17 provinces under his rule, the last one being the Duchy of Guelders, in 1543.
Most of these provinces were fiefs of the Holy Roman Empire. Two provinces, the County of Flanders and the County of Artois, were originally French fiefs, but sovereignty was ceded to the Empire in the Treaty of Cambrai in 1529.
On 15 October, 1506, in the palace of Mechelen, the future Charles V was recognized as Heer der Nederlanden ("Lord of the Netherlands"). Only he and his son ever used this title. The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 determined that the Provinces should remain united in the future and inherited by the same monarch.
After Charles V's abdication in 1555, his realms were divided between his son, Philip II of Habsburg, King of Spain, and his brother, Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. The Seventeen Provinces went to his son, the King of Spain.
Conflicts between Philip II and his Dutch subjects led to the Eighty Years' War, which started in 1568. The seven northern provinces gained their independence as a republic called the Seven United Provinces. They were:
The southern provinces, Flanders, Brabant, Namur, Hainaut, Luxembourg and the others, were restored to Spanish rule due to the military and political talent of the Duke of Parma, especially at the Siege of Antwerp (1584–1585). Hence, these provinces became known as the Spanish Netherlands or Southern Netherlands.
The County of Drenthe, surrounded by the other northern provinces, became de facto part of the Seven United Provinces, but had no voting rights in the Union of Utrecht and was therefore not considered a province.
The northern Seven United Provinces kept parts of Limburg, Brabant, and Flanders during the Eighty Years' War (see Generality Lands), which ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
Artois and parts of Flanders and Hainaut (French Flanders and French Hainaut) were ceded to France in the course of the 17th and 18th centuries.
By the mid-16th century, the Margraviate of Antwerp (Duchy of Brabant) had become the economic, political, and cultural centre of the Netherlands after its capital had shifted from the nearby Lordship of Mechelen to the city of Brussels.
Bruges (County of Flanders) had already lost its prominent position as the economic powerhouse of northern Europe, while Holland was gradually gaining importance in the 15th and 16th centuries.
However, after the revolt of the seven northern provinces (1568), the Sack of Antwerp (1576), the Fall of Antwerp (1584–1585), and the resulting closure of the Scheldt river to navigation, a large number of people from the southern provinces emigrated north to the new republic. The centre of prosperity moved from cities in the south such as Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent, and Brussels to cities in the north, mostly in Holland, including Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam.
To distinguish between the older and larger Low Countries of the Netherlands from the current country of the Netherlands, Dutch speakers usually drop the plural for the latter. They speak of Nederland in the singular for the current country and of de Nederlanden in the plural for the integral domains of Charles V.
In other languages, this has not been adopted, though the larger area is sometimes known as the Low Countries in English.
The fact that the term Netherlands has such different historical meanings can sometimes lead to difficulties in expressing oneself correctly. For example, composers from the 16th century are often said to belong to the Dutch School (Nederlandse School). Although they themselves would not have objected to that term at that time, nowadays it may wrongly create the impression that they were from the current Netherlands. In fact, they were almost exclusively from current Belgium.
The same confusion exists around the word Flanders. Historically, it applied to the County of Flanders, corresponding roughly with the present-day provinces of West Flanders, East Flanders and French Flanders. However, when the Dutch-speaking population of Belgium sought more rights in the 19th century, the word Flanders was reused, this time to refer to the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, which is larger and contains only part of the old county of Flanders (see Flemish Movement). Therefore, the territory of the County of Flanders and that of present-day Flanders do not fully match:
This explains, for instance, why the province of East Flanders is not situated in the east of present-day Flanders.
The States General of the Netherlands had itself its coat, a red shield with an armed golden lion.
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain.
The Duchy of Guelders is a historical duchy, previously county, of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the Low Countries.
The Southern Netherlands, also called the Catholic Netherlands, were the parts of the Low Countries belonging to the Holy Roman Empire which were at first largely controlled by Habsburg Spain and later by the Austrian Habsburgs until occupied and annexed by Revolutionary France (1794–1815).
The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 was an edict, promulgated by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, reorganising the Seventeen Provinces of the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg into one indivisible territory, while retaining existing customs, laws, and forms of government within the provinces.
The County of Artois was a historic province of the Kingdom of France, held by the Dukes of Burgundy from 1384 until 1477/82, and a state of the Holy Roman Empire from 1493 until 1659.
In the history of the Low Countries, the Burgundian Netherlands or the Burgundian Age is the period between 1384 and 1482, during which a growing part of the Low Countries was ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy. Within their Burgundian State, which itself belonged partly to the Holy Roman Empire and partly to the Kingdom of France, the dukes united these lowlands into a political union that went beyond a personal union as it gained central institutions for the first time.
Spanish Netherlands was the Habsburg Netherlands ruled by the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs from 1556 to 1714. They were a collection of States of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries held in personal union by the Spanish Crown. This region comprised most of the modern states of Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as parts of northern France, the southern Netherlands, and western Germany with the capital being Brussels. The Army of Flanders was given the task of defending the territory.
The Burgundian Circle was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire created in 1512 and significantly enlarged in 1548. In addition to the Free County of Burgundy, the Burgundian Circle roughly covered the Low Countries, i.e., the areas now known as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg and adjacent parts in the French administrative region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. For most of its history, its lands were coterminous with the holdings of the Spanish Habsburgs in the Empire.
The Duchy of Brabant was a State of the Holy Roman Empire established in 1183. It developed from the Landgraviate of Brabant and formed the heart of the historic Low Countries, part of the Burgundian Netherlands from 1430 and of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1482, until it was partitioned after the Dutch revolt.
The Guelders Wars were a series of conflicts in the Low Countries between the Duke of Burgundy, who controlled Holland, Flanders, Brabant, and Hainaut on the one side, and Charles, Duke of Guelders, who controlled Guelders, Groningen, and Frisia on the other side.
The House of Valois-Burgundy, or the Younger House of Burgundy, was a noble French family deriving from the royal House of Valois. It is distinct from the Capetian House of Burgundy, descendants of King Robert II of France, though both houses stem from the Capetian dynasty. They ruled the Duchy of Burgundy from 1363 to 1482 and later came to rule vast lands including Artois, Flanders, Luxembourg, Hainault, the county palatine of Burgundy (Franche-Comté), and other lands through marriage, forming what is now known as the Burgundian State.
Habsburg Netherlands was the Renaissance period fiefs in the Low Countries held by the Holy Roman Empire's House of Habsburg. The rule began in 1482, when the last Valois-Burgundy ruler of the Netherlands, Mary, wife of Maximilian I of Austria, died. Their grandson, Emperor Charles V, was born in the Habsburg Netherlands and made Brussels one of his capitals.
The Burgundian inheritance in the Low Countries consisted of numerous fiefs held by the Dukes of Burgundy in modern-day Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and in parts of France and Germany. The Duke of Burgundy was originally a member of the House of Valois-Burgundy and later of the House of Habsburg. Given that the Dukes of Burgundy lost Burgundy proper to the Kingdom of France in 1477, and were never able to recover it, while retaining Charolais and the Free County of Burgundy, they moved their court to the Low Countries. The Burgundian Low Countries were ultimately expanded to include Seventeen Provinces under Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The Burgundian inheritance then passed to the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs under Philip II of Spain, whose rule was contested by the Dutch revolt, and fragmented into the Spanish Netherlands and the Dutch republic. Following the War of the Spanish succession, the Habsburg Netherlands passed to Austria and remained in Austrian hands until the French conquest of the late 18th century. The Bourbon Restoration did not re-establish the Burgundian states, with the former Burgundian territories remaining divided between France, the Netherlands and, following the Belgian Revolution, modern-day Belgium.
The Dutch Republic Lion was the badge of the Union of Utrecht, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, and a precursor of the current coat of arms of the Kingdom the Netherlands.
The Treaty of Union was a treaty that led to the creation of the United Belgian States, a confederal republic of territories of the Austrian Netherlands that were in revolt against Emperor Joseph II of Austria during the Brabant Revolution (1789–1790). It was signed by representatives of the provinces of Brabant, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen (1713), Tournai and Tournaisis, Hainaut, Namur, Limburg and the Lands of Overmaas, Austrian Upper Guelders, and Mechelen in the States General of the Southern Netherlands on 11 January 1790, and ratified by the various provinces on 20 January 1790, after which it came into effect. The Duchy of Luxemburg did not sign or ratify the treaty, and therefore never became a part of the United Belgian States.
The Burgundian treaty of 1548, also known as the Transaction of Augsburg, settled the status of the Habsburg Netherlands within the Holy Roman Empire.
Netherlands–Spain relations are the bilateral and diplomatic relations between these two countries. The relations between both countries are defined mainly by their membership in the European Union and by being allies in the NATO, as well as belonging to numerous International Organizations.
The Golden Age of Flanders, or Flemish Golden Age, is a term that has been used to describe the flourishing of cultural and economic activities of the Low Countries around the 16th century. The term Flanders in the 1500s referred to the entire Habsburg Netherlands within the Burgundian Circle of the Holy Roman Empire and inclusive of modern-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Its political capital was Brussels, while the financial-economic centre was Antwerp. Other major artistic and cultural centres of the period included Bruges, Ghent, Mechelen and Leuven. It is also grouped with the Dutch Golden Age, a more common term used primarily in reference to the Dutch Republic, and typically dated from 1588 to 1672, within a "Flemish and Dutch golden age" covering the period from the late 15th to the 17th century.
The Burgundian State is a concept coined by historians to describe the vast complex of territories that is also referred to as Valois Burgundy.
Gewest is a Dutch term often translated as "region". It was used to describe the various different polities making up the Low Countries, which covered what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of northern France, until the annexation by France in the late 18th century. The term is now mostly associated with the official titles of the constituent states of Belgium.