Map of the Seventeen Provinces, 1581 secession outlined in red
|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, from 1556 held by Habsburg Spain. 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 as 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 Netherlandish 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 lord 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 County of Artois, were originally French fiefs, but sovereignty was ceded to the Empire in the Treaty of Cambrai in 1529.
On 15 october of 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 center 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 economic powerhouse of northern Europe. And 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 center of prosperity moved from cities in the south such as Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent, and Brussels to cities in the north, mostly 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 singular for the current country and of de Nederlanden in 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, today 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. But when the Dutch-speaking population of Belgium sought more rights in the 19th century, the word Flanders was reused, but now to indicate the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, which is larger, and contains only part of the old county of Flanders (see Flemish Movement).
So the territory of the County of Flanders and 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Seventeen Provinces .|
The Union of 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.
Guelders or Gueldres is a historical county, later duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the Low Countries.
The Southern Netherlands, also called the Catholic Netherlands, was the part of the Low Countries largely controlled by Spain (1556–1714), later Austria (1714–1794), and occupied then annexed by France (1794–1815). The region also included a number of smaller states that were never ruled by Spain or Austria: the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, the Imperial Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy, the County of Bouillon, the County of Horne and the Princely Abbey of Thorn. The Southern Netherlands were part of the Holy Roman Empire until the whole area was annexed by Revolutionary France.
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 were a number of Imperial and French fiefs ruled in personal union by the House of Valois-Burgundy in the period from 1384 to 1482 and later their Habsburg heirs. They constituted the Northern part of the Burgundian State. The area comprised the major parts of present-day Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Hauts-de-France.
Spanish Netherlands was the name for 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, southern Netherlands, and western Germany with the capital being Brussels.
The Duchy of Limburg or Limbourg was an imperial estate of the Holy Roman Empire. Its chief town was Limbourg-sur-Vesdre, is today located within the Belgian province of Liège, with a small part in the neighbouring province of Belgian Limburg, within the east of Voeren.
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.
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 Treaty of Venlo of 7 September 1543 concluded the Guelders Wars (1502–1543), and the definitive acquisition of the Duchy of Guelders and the adjoining County of Zutphen by the House of Habsburg, adding them to the Habsburg Netherlands. William V, Duke of the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg had to relinquish his claims to Guelders and Zutphen in favour of the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, Charles V of Habsburg.
Habsburg Netherlands, also referred to as Belgica or Flanders, is the collective name of Holy Roman Empire fiefs in the Low Countries held by the House of Habsburg. The rule began in 1482, when the last Valois-Burgundy ruler of the Netherlands, Mary, married Maximilian I of Austria. 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, and Luxembourg. The Duke of Burgundy was a member of the House of Valois-Burgundy and, after 1482, 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, 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 Philip II of Spain, whose rule was contested by the Dutch revolt.
The Lordship of Overijssel or Overissel is a former division of the Netherlands named for its position along the river Issel.
The County of Flanders was a historic territory in the Low Countries.
The Burgundian treaty of 1548, also known as the Transaction of Augsburg, settled the status of the Habsburg Netherlands within the Holy Roman Empire.
The War of the Burgundian Succession took place from 1477 to 1482, immediately following the Burgundian Wars. At stake was the partition of the Burgundian hereditary lands between the Kingdom of France and the House of Habsburg, after Duke Charles the Bold had perished in the Battle of Nancy on 5 January 1477.
Netherlands–Spain relations are the bilateral and diplomatic relations between these two countries. Spain has an embassy in The Hague and a consulate general in Amsterdam. The Netherlands has an embassy in Madrid and nine honorary consulates in Barcelona, Bilbao, Ceuta, Gijón, Palma, Benidorm, Sevilla, Tenerife, Torremolinos and Valencia. 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 Burgundian State, is a concept coined by historians to describe the vast complex of territories also referred to as Valois Burgundy that developed in the Late Middle Ages under the rule of the dukes of Burgundy from the French House of Valois, composed of French and imperial fiefs. This territorial construction outlasted the properly 'Burgundian' dynasty and the loss of the Duchy of Burgundy itself. As such, it must not be confused with this sole fief.