This thread will consist only of the chapters of An Alternate History of the Netherlands. Do not post any comments or anything here; instead, visit [thread=132933]the other thread[/thread]. Prologue Today, the Dutch Commonwealth of Nations is the world’s Superpower. None can challenge it in the marketplace, nor on the highseas. Its currency is universally accepted and its language is the de facto common language of the business world and is the largest second-language and the second largest first-language. The United Provinces are home to the world’s largest, and oldest, stock market along with the world’s most powerful banks. Amsterdam itself rose from the marshes of Holland to grow into the financial capital of Earth. The Dutch Empire was one built on commerce and trade. Throughout the centuries, the cities of the United Provinces were centers of trade. The story of how several squabbling and independent provinces forged a world empire is a complex history. It is also one of the most unlikely tales in human history. The United Provinces battled the mightiest power of its day for independence, fought off repeated and destructive invasions by an expansionist neighbor, and defeated a naval rival and upstart to pave its way to supremecy. Empires have risen and fell, but the Dutch Commonwealth persevered. France, Spain, United Kingdom and even Germany have lost colonies to revolution. The Dutch lost its colonies to evolution. Eventually treated as equals, Dutch colonies became full fledged members of the Commonwealth, contribiting everything from sugar to gold to the common good of all Dutch speaking nations. However, before there could be a Commonwealth, or even a United Provinces, there were the beginnings of the Dutch nation. Its history is filled with conflicts and rivalries from within, beginning all the way back in the Upper Paleolithic. I) Beginnings (50,000 B.C.E.- 1568 CE) Neanderthals Before the Commonwealth, before the United Provinces, before the Batavians and even before the North Sea, there were the Neanderthals. Homo neanderthalanis were a species of human native to Europe. Their short stature, robust figure and even large, bulbous noses were all adapted with one purpose in mind; to survive the cold. The first Netherlanders did not have to face mighty empires or invading barbarians, but rather the advance and retreat of polar icecaps, and competition from a fiercer kind, including the like of European Lions and Dire Wolves. Along side the Neanderthals, living upon the tundral-steppes of Central Europe, were some of the biggest game to ever cross man’s path. Though many today like to think of their ancestors as hunters, anthropological evidence suggests that humans throughout the stone ages were more akin to bear or hyenas. Man, the Opportunistic Scavenger just lacks the drama of Man, the Hunter. What evidence of hunting that remains, mostly speartips, were found buried in the ribs of medium sized animals, such as deer, aurochs and horses. True, in the harsh environment living off the glaciers, Neanderthals had little in the way of diet aside from meat (more than 80% of their diet is believed to be meat) though some roots would be available. Neanderthals were present in what would eventually become the low countries some fifty thousand years ago. The oldest artifacts dated back to the Hoogeveen interstadial of the Saalian glaciation. Sapiens Neanderthals found themselves no longer alone, some forty thousands years ago. Another species of human, Homo sapiens invaded Europe, most likely during a change in climate that permitted travel across the previous unpassable deserts of the Middle East. Following game, our species would have found a continent wide game park available to suit their needs. Everything ranging from rabbits to the rare, but occasional big game item, was on the menu. Our species arrival represents the first case of colonialism the Netherlands would see. Many more, internal and external would follow. It was not contact between two different cultures, such as when the Dutch made contact with the Ceylonese, Formosans or Javanese, but something beyond our modern experience. This first contact between two different species has no parallel in recorded history. One might wish to project the contact between two species as an opening of trade and exchange of ideas. Various writers of the Twentieth Century tended to paint a positive picture in interspecies relations. First contact with an alien culture opened a new world to explore, and more often than not, the contact was peaceful. Such could not be said about the contact between Neanderthal and Sapiens. No doubt some trade did take place, as was seen to post-contact burials of Neanderthals. Jewelry recovered with bones indicates trade between the two species. The fact that Neanderthal man’s tool kit expanded was another piece of evidence supporting trade of ideas. However, it was not to last. Both species ate mostly the same food and sought the same caves for shelter. As with many species, the two were forced to compete over a finite amount of resources. Both would throw their best into the contest, and such as with nature, only the most suited would survive. Whether this is brute strength or cunning, is irrelevant. What matters is that for one species to rise, the other must fade. In the end, nomadic Sapiens forces the more sedentary Neanderthals into more and more marginal lands, and eventually into oblivion. Though the end might not have been a violent one, the possible discovery of a hybrid human in southern France might be proof of that, it was final. Sapiens, with higher quality tools, more elaborate language and probably a far superior imagination, drove the Neanderthals into extinction by simply out-competing them. Was their conflict between the two? Possibly. After all, lions do go out of their way, not just to steal from their competition, but to simply kill them. With their competition dead, the remaining species would win by default. It would be a tragedy, however, if one of the first species exterminated by our kind happened to be our closest relatives. Life for Stone Age Netherlanders Life was not much easier for Sapiens on the tundral-steppes as it was for their Neanderthal predecessors. They hunted the same prey, gathered the same meager supply of plants. To a casual observer, not much changed from one species to the next. The remaining species produced art that the previous occupants could never envision. Where there was once simple murals of the hunt, now were found carvings made from bone, ivory and even stone. Around twenty thousand years ago, the early Netherlanders’ world came to an end. Over the course of centuries, ice caps burying Northern Europe and half of North America dwindle and vanished. The melting of so much glaciated land poured tens of meters of depth to the world’s oceans. The lands that hunter-gathers once roamed where firmly fixed at the bottom of the North Sea. The thawing of the ice age was an environmental catastrophe of unprecedented scale. Not only did habitat change, in many cases it simply vanished. The first and most obvious change was that of biome. With the melting of the glaciers, the tundral-steppe quickly migrated north, along with the game that depended upon the tundra’s botany. The plants moving was not disastrous in of itself, but rather their destination spelled doom for many species. For thousands of years, many plants found today on the tundra thrived at lower latitudes, and in longer growing seasons. The land was as cold as a tundra, but the seasons lasted as long as the steppe’s. Shorter growing seasons meant lower yield, which meant nature favored the small. There is only so much shrinking a mammoth can do, and its limit was reached. In the end, it was climate change that doomed the megafauna of the ice age. Unlike so many legends built around Man the Hunter, humans did not wipe out the largest of game (though the occasion hunt certainly did not help them either). In the place of tundra grew forests of pine and flowering tree. Following the plants north were medium-sized animal, such as the white tail deer and the wild boar. Though the early Netherlanders lost some of their food sources, new ones quickly migrated to fill the niches. The biggest change of all came from the lands lost to sea. For the first time in their history, the Netherlanders had the sea on which to rely. Even at this earliest of age, the peoples of what would one day become Holland, Zeeland and Flanders took to the sea. They had little choice in the matter, given the constantly changing coast line of the Prehistoric Netherlands. Fish became a staple diet, as did many seafaring arthropods. Those, coupled with migrating fruit and nut trees gave the locals a steady diet. Prehistoric peoples were now able to live a semi-nomadic existence. To stay for an extended period of time, the first shelters were built; little more than temporary wooden shelters. One of the more curious developments, near the beginning of the Neolithic came in the form of grapes. Not just any grapes. The locals went to some trouble to ferment the grapes, and to store them in animal bladders. Before man made bread, he made wine. Wild grains were also harvested, but not yet domesticated. Also, by this time, early forms of pastoralism sprang up. Across Europe, dogs, horses and even the aggressive aurochs were brought into domestication. The latter would be better known today as simple cattle. With stable food sources, society itself began to evolve. Gone were the small troops of humans wondering across the landscape in search of the next meal. In their place, complex tribal societies grew. One such tribe lived in near Bergumermeer, in Friesland, around ten thousand years ago. Though their name is lost, their contribution is not. This tribe built some of the first canoes, and sailed the coast and rivers, trading with their neighbors. From the day of the first canoe, the destiny of both the Netherlands and the sea were forever intertwined. Agriculture Agriculture arrived in the Netherlands around 5,000 B.C.E.. The Linear Pottery culture migrated onto the loess plateaus in the southern reaches of modern Limburg. They did not spread further north due to lack of domesticated animals and proper tools. In the north, tribes still used bone harpoons and stone hand axes. Thus their knowledge did not spread any further than southern Limburg. The Linear Pottery culture derives its name from the decorative technique of its pottery. They originated in Central Europe, Hungary and Serbia to be exact. The Linear people settled along fluvial terraces in the proximity of rivers. They were quick to identify the most fertile regions of loess. On their lands, they raised distinctive assemblies of crops and some associated weeds on small lots, an economy that Gimbutas called ‘garden type of civilization’. To the earlier peoples of the Netherlands, it was a variable garden indeed. The newcomers brought with them; wheat, pea, barley, millet, rye and beans, along with hemp and flax. With hemp and flax, the Linear people possessed the raw material to manufacture rope and cloth. They also brought with them poppies, introduced from the Mediterranean, possibly used to manufacture a primitive palliative medicine. As far as livestock was concerned, the Linear people favored cattle. However, both goats and hogs have also been recorded. As with most peoples, canines were their constant companion, both as hunting dogs, and to guard their herds. In remains of Linear Pottery villages, wild faunal remains were uncovered. The Linear people supplemented their diets with deer, elk and boar in the forests that then spread across Europe. The populations remained sedentary as long as they did not exceed the land’s ability to provide. The Swifterbant Culture represented some of the last hunter-gathers in the Netherlands. The culture dates between 5,300 B.C.E. to 3,400 B.C.E. They are related to the Ertebolle Culture of Scandinavia. Thus, these people have strong ties to open water and the rivers. Remains of their camps were found in bogs and water dunes along post-glacial rives. Their transition from hunters to herders around 4,800 B.C.E. when they took up the practice of cattle farming. Some pottery arose from their culture, predating Linear Pottery. Near the end of the Swifterbant Culture and following came the Funnelbeaker Culture, the principle megalithic culture in late Stone Age Europe. Their houses measured twelve meters by six meters, home to one family. Their society was dominated by animal husbandry of sheep, cattle, pigs and goats. Their farming practices quickly depleted the land, due to which the population was forced to move to new areas to plant their wheat and barley. Industry advanced with the introduction of mining. Flint mined by the Funnelbeaker people, which was traded to areas lacking stone, such as Scandinavian hinterlands. In return, they imported copper tools from the south. The copper was not raw, but already forged into tools. The Funnelbeaker people favored copper daggers and axes. The culture itself was named after the characteristics of its ceramics and beakers, with funnel-shaped tops. One such find depicted the oldest known example of a wheeled vehicle; a two-axle, four-wheeled wagon). The Bronze Age The Bronze Age likely started somewhere around 2,000 B.C.E. The oldest bronze tools in the Netherlands were uncovered at ‘The Smith of Wageningen”. After these findings, more appeared, such as Epe and Drouwen. Rare findings, such as a necklace with tin beads in Drenthe, suggests that Drenthe was a center of trade during the Age of Bronze. The absence of copper in the low countries meant bronze was exceedingly rare and extremely valued. Stores of many broken bronze objects is testimony to the alloy’s value. These shards and scraps were intended for recycling. The bronze would be melted down, or simply pounded into new shapes. The Environmental Movement came three thousand years too early in the low countries. The use of bronze only lasted approximately twelve hundred years. Examples of bronze wares include knives, swords, axes and event bracelets. Much of the bronze was found near the trading center. One finding shows the merchants traveled far; one such bronze situalaewas manufactured as far away as what is now Switzerland. The Iron Age Dawning of the Iron Age brought much fortune to the Netherlands. The low countries were rich in the metal. Iron ore was found in the north as well as central regions, in the form of ‘ball’ iron. This was little more than natural balls with iron in them, such as near the Veluwe. The south also had its share of iron. Red iron ore was found in the rivers in Brabant. With such an abundance of iron, smiths could travel from village to village, fabricating tools on demand, such as axes, knives, pins, arrowheads, swords, and so on. The wealth of the Netherlands during the Iron Age is illustrated at the King’s Grave in Oss (dating to around 500 B.C.E.). The tomb of an early king was uncovered with many objects, including an iron sword with inlay of gold and even coral. It was the largest grave in Western Europe at the time, measuring some fifty-two meters wide. Such extravagance was likely the exception as opposed to the rule, but nonetheless, it displays the area was far from destitute. With the Iron Age came new peoples. In the south, an influx of Celtic tribes settled. Among these tribes were the Eburones and the Menapii. These were predecessors to the Gauls that Rome would soon have much trouble with. Along with Celts, came Germanic peoples from the east. The Tubanti, Canninefates and the Frisians. Even today, the descendants of the Frisians play an important role in the United Provinces. The origins of the Frisians are obscure, and even vague. Archeologists theorize their origins dating back to the Elp Culture, 1,800-800 B.C.E. Friesland was settled early, possibly as early as 700 B.C.E. Frisii were first mentioned by Roman historian Tacitus. He wrote a treatise about the Frisii in the year 69 CE. describing their habits and lifestyle, as well as listing other Germanic tribes. The word Frisii was used to describe all the ethnic group as a whole. Frisians were likely a seafaring people. After all, they lived along the edge of the North Sea, with markets spanning from Britannia to Jutland. The Romans even went as far as to refer to the sea as Mare Frisia for a time. Frisian settlements were discovered outside of the Netherlands, in England, Scotland and Denmark. Their lands also extended up the Rhine River as far as the Ems. These southern lands were conquered by the Roman general Drusus in 12 B.C.E. after several uprisings. The rest of Frisia was able to stay out from beneath the Roman heel. In the year 28, they signed a treaty with the Romans along the Rhine. The peace lasted sixteen years. At which time, taxes became repressive, effecting the quality of living of all Frisians. Like so many peoples and revolutions to follow, the loss of income strove the people to action. They started by hanging tax collectors. An army of Frisians managed to defeat a Roman army under the command of Tiberius at the Battle of Baduhennawood. Roman Era The Frisians managed to stay mostly free of Roman influence, but the rest could not be said about the lands south of the Rhine. Julius Caesar lead an army against the Gauls, and after a lengthy campaign, managed to subjugate them and expand Rome’s border all the way to the Rhine River. Roman parts of the Netherlands were known as Germania Inferior and Gallia Belgica. The invasions happened started in 57 B.C.E. when Caesar led his army into Gallia Belgica with the explicit goal of conquering the Celtic tribes of the region. Modern accounts hold that eighteen tribes existed in this region. Except for the southern Remi, all the tribes were allied against Rome. The Celtic army is believed to number in excess of a quarter of a million men, led by the Suession king, Galba. Due to the Belgic’s reputation as fierce warriors with uncommon bravery, Caesar avoided meeting their combined forces in battle. Instead, he relied upon cavalry to skirmish with smaller contingents of tribesmen. Only when one of the tribes was isolated did the Romans engage and destroy them in battle. The coalition of tribes disintegrated rapidly in face of these tactics. Caesar claimed to offer lenient terms for their surrender, including protection from other tribes. Most tribes agreed to the conditions. In 52 B.C.E. and uprising of Belgic tribes, lead by the Bellovaci began following the defeat of Vercingetorix. In this round of warfare, it was the Belgics who avoided direct contact. Instead, they preferred to harass the Romans, still lead by Caesar, with cavalry and archers. The uprising abruptly ended when the Bellovaci failed to ambush the Romans. The outcome of this failure was quite common in antiquity; the rebels were killed to the last man. Germania Inferior also fell under Caesar’s boot at the same time as Belgica. In the course of three years, the Romans subjugated several tribes, including the Eburones and the Menapii. Pacification of the future province proceeded with less complication than Belgica, and Romans began to settle the region as early as 50 B.C.E. At first, the two provinces were one. Germania Inferior was not established as a Roman province until the year 90, later becoming an Imperial province. Both provinces were also part of Gaul during the early Roman years. Following a census in 27 B.C.E., Emperor Augustus ordered a restructuring of Gaul. In 22 B.C.E. Gallia Comata was split into three regions; Gallia Aquitania, Gallia Lugdunensis and Gallia Belgica. The division was made by Marcus Agrippa on what was then believed to be distinctions in language. Gallia Belgica was intended to mix German and Celtic peoples. A balance was struck between Romanization and permitting pre-existing culture to endure. Local governments were also permitted to continue. Additionally, local lords were required to attend festival in Lugdunum, which mostly celebrated the current Emperor’s genius, whether it was real or not. Though Roman colonization did not extend into the land of the Frisians, the Frisii were heavily influenced by Roman culture. The most important of Roman devices was that of written language. Some of the future United Provinces’ vital cities were founded by the Romans. Rome built the first fortresses and cities in the Netherlands. The most important are the modern cities of Maastricht, Nijmegen and Utrecht. Utrecht started its existence as a fortress, established in the year 47. The fort was designed to house a cohort of five hundred soldiers. Settlements sprang up around the fort, housing a growing number of artisans, traders, and families of the soldiers. The origin of Utrecht’s name came from a merger of two previous names. The fortress itself was simply called Traiectum, denoting its location on the Rhine. The distinguish itself from other close sounding names, the prefix Ultra was added. Over the centuries, the name was corrupted into Utrecht. The Batavians According to nationalistic mythology, the Batavi were the forefathers of the Netherlands, though they themselves were a sub-tribe of the Chatti. The lands they settled, though owning potentially fertile alluvial deposits, was largely uncultivable, consisting of mainly the swampy Rhine delta. Thus, the land could not support a very large population, no more than thirty-five thousand. They also carried with them a warrior’s tradition, with highly skilled horsemen. Batavi auxiliary amounted to five thousand men, more than half the male population over the age of sixteen. Though they were only 0.05% of the total Imperial population, they supplied 4% of the total auxilia. Rome also regarded them as the best of their auxiliaries. Batavi had a wide range of skills, including the ability to swim while wearing full armor. Relations between Rome and the Batavians was generally quite good. Rome managed to influence the Batavian’s culture. Old temples were torn down and Roman-style buildings erected on the sight. These temples were Roman only in build, the Batavi still worshiped their local gods. Roman presence in the Netherlands brought a great deal of stability, allowing a flourishing of trade. The largest export was that of salt extracted from the North Sea, remains of which were discovered in sites across the empire. Trade and tolerance were not enough to prevent the Batavians from rising up, rather successfully against Roman rule. The Batavian Revolt has its roots in the year 66, when the Batavi regiments were withdrawn from Britannia and moved into Italy. The Batavian Prince Julius Civilis, along with his brother, were arrested under the suspicion of treason. The brother was immediately executed, but because Civilis was a citizen, he was sent to Rome, to stand judgement before the Roman Emperor, Nero. While in prison, Nero was deposed and replaced by the Governor of Hispania, who acquitted Civilis, and permitted him to return home. Upon returning to Germania Inferior, he was arrested a second time by the Governor, Vitellius. Local legions demanded he be executed. He was released again, when civil war wracked the Empire. Vitellius was in dire need of support from the Batavi military. He quickly squandered any good will he might have gathered from the Batavians. He conscripted more Batavi, more than their treaty permitted. Brutal treatment of the conscripts, along with taking other Batavi as slaves, caused the situation in Germania Inferior to reach a boiling point. With most of the legions in Italy, fighting in a brutal civil war, the Roman frontier was taken by surprise. Several tribes joined the Batavi, such as the Cananefates and even the Frisii. The Cananefates, under the command of their chief Brinno, captured Utrecht. In response, Rome sent what few auxiliaries they could spare. The result was disastrous, with Civilis leading the rebels to victory near modern-day Arnhem. Unable to permit such resistance to its dominion, Rome sent in two legions to crush the rebellion, accompanied by three auxiliaries, including the Batavi cavalry. Upon meeting in battle near Nijmegen, the Batavi cavalry immediately deserted the Romans, weakening an already demoralized army. The battle came down to willpower, and the Romans lacked it and were forced to retreat. With this defeat, the Batavians obtained a de facto independence, and clearly held the upper hand. Even Vespasian, who was fighting to take the Imperial throne, saluted the rebellion, since it kept his rivals from calling units back to Rome. He even went as far as to promise the Batavians independence. Civilis was fast on his way to reigning as king. This did not satisfy Civilis. Instead, he was driven by revenge, and swore to destroy both legions. In September of 69, the Batavi lay siege to the Roman camp at Castra Vetera, encircling some five thousand legionaries. The camp was well stocked, and fortified walls of brick and wood, along with a double ditch. Civilis launched several attacks against the camp, each one turned back. After realizing an assault would not work, he decided to simply starve them out. After several month, the Roman commander decided to surrender. The legions were promised safe passage by the Batavi, provided they left the camp to be sacked by the rebels. All weapons, material and, most importantly, gold, was left for plunder. Both legions marched south, but moved no more than a few kilometers before falling into an ambush by other Germanic tribes. Both 5th and 15th legions were destroyed in the ensuing slaughter. Such an act could not be tolerated without a heavy handed response. The only event preventing Rome from slamming its fist on the Batavians’ collective heads was another rebellion, on the opposite side of the Empire, in a city called Jerusalem. Civilis had hopes the Jewish rebels would hold out, and help drain Roman resources. The Siege of Jerusalem started in April of the year 70, but much to Civilis’s disappointment, was brought to an end by September, essentially ending the Jewish Rebellion. With them out of the way, Rome was now free to bring its full might against the Batavians. Civilis made the wisest decision possible; he made the best peace he could. The Batavi were forced to renew their alliance with Rome, and raise eight auxiliary cavalry units. The Batavian capital, Nijmegen, was put to the torch. Its inhabitants were forced to move to a defenseless position several kilometers down stream and build a new. To this day, the fate of Civilis remains unknown, however his people were spared, if subjugated. Barbarians By the start of the Fifth Century, Rome was unable to keep out the tide of migrating Germanic tribes; The Barbarians. Though the word barbarian is used by Romans to describe all foreigners or aliens, it is best known in schools of history as the Germanic people who cross into the Western Empire by the year 400. Along with Rome, the Barbarians also launched their assaults against local tribes of the Netherlands. The merging and absorption resulted in producing three tribes; the Frisians maintained their independence in the north; the Saxons took land in the east; and the Franks took the lands south of the Rhine. For the Netherlands, the Dark Ages came early. The Franks Dreams of a Batavian Kingdoms were destroyed when the Frankish people conquered Germania Inferior along with Gallia Belgica– not to mention most of the former land of Gaul. The forefathers of the Netherlands did not meet their end in battle, but were simply absorbed by the Franks. Instead of exterminating enemies (burning villages, enslaving women and children, etc.) the Frankish King Childeric elevated the conquered peoples to the same level as the Franks. In return, the tribes offered warriors, or just able bodied men, to the Frankish Army. Infrastructure and trade brought by the Romans was utterly destroyed by the Frankish invasion, and ensuing epidemic warfare that would follow. To further complicate the problem, the Franks adhered to the practice of partible inheritance; Kings divided their Kingdom between their surviving sons. This in turn, brought in a whole new cycle of pillaging and conquest as the new kings vied for each other’s lands. The Frisians managed to survive in spite of the Franks. When the Saxons and the Angles left the continent to invade Britannia, it left open large tracks of empty lands. Though some of the Frisians no doubt joined the invasion across the North Sea, a majority of them moved into the population vacuum left by the Saxons. Frisia Magna, by the Sixth Century, occupied the coast as far as the Wesser River. Many other trans-Rhine tribes were loosely tied with the Frankish state. They enjoyed their limited freedom, but in exchange, they were force to contribute to the Frankish Army. During reigns of relatively weak kings, the tribes grew unruly, and uncontrollable. Each time, complete independence was too tempting to resist. During the reigns of strong kings, the tribes were brought into the Frank’s fold. The Thuringii fell in 532, the Burgundes in 534, and finally the Frisians were brought into the fold around the year 560. Francia was far from a united state. Fraternal kings often showed signs of friendship, when they were not bitter rivals. Following the death of King Choldomer, his brother Chlothar had the King’s younger sons killed, so he could take a share of the kingdom. Warfare in the Frankish heartland was endemic, and at times, never ending. The Netherlands, laying in the periphery, avoided some of the most bitter fighting. During the Merovingian Dynasty, the Franks founded their own share of cities in the Netherlands. The most important was a place they called Anda Werpum. The name translates into ‘at the wharf’, referring to its proximity to the Rhine delta. Closeness to the North Sea destined the town to become a vital trading port. Over the centuries, this destiny was fulfilled, and over those same centuries, the name grew corrupt, until it became known simply as Antwerp. Frisia The Frisians maintained on-off relations with the Franks. Not long after one conquest, the Frisians regained their freedom. During one of Francia’s many eras of confusion, King Pepin attempted to re-assert Frankish dominion over Frisia, but with little success during the 670s and 680s. In 689, Pepin launched a very successful invasion of western Frisia. The Frisian king, Radbod, lost to the Franks outside of Dorestad. The following year, Pepin managed to conquer the city of Utrecht. In 695, Pepin sponsored the formation of the Archdiocese of Utrecht, bringing the church to Frisians under his rule. Eastern Frisia, however, resisted and retained its independence for decades to come. In 714, the illegitimate son of Pepin, Charles ‘The Hammer’ Martel, launched his own invasion of Frisia. The Frisians managed to battle the Frankish leader to a standstill, and forced him to withdraw, for the time being. Francia had its own share of problems beyond eastern Frisia. In the south, an army of Arab roared out of Iberia with the intent of bringing Islam to the Franks. Charles Martel met the Arab army between Poitiers and Tours. In this watershed battle, Martel lead the Frankish army to victory, turning the Arabs back, and forever halting their northward advance at the Pyrenees. In 734, Martel turned his attention back to Frisia, with a vengeance. His army crushed the Frisians, and he brought the entire Frisian Empire under Frankish suzerainty. With the loss of their independence, came the loss of their ancient gods. Martel brought bishops and missionaries to conquered Frisia, which would enforce Christianity in the Netherlands. The Franks were intent on saving the Frisians, even if they had to kill them. Carolingian Dynasty In the year 800, the Pope crowned a new Roman Emperor, Charles the Great. Charlemagne’s reign was a blessing to the recently conquered Frisians. During his reign, he freed the Frisians from swearing fealty to foreign overlords. The exact meaning behind his declaration is not clear. Charlemagne meant foreign from his perspective, i.e. non-Franks. The Frisians no doubt disputed the rule, but were in no shape to rise up against the new Roman Emperor. With the death of Charlemagne, the Frankish Empire was again divided between surviving sons. The bulk of the Netherlands fell into the new Middle Frankish Kingdom. Middle Francia did not last long. By 884, Charles the Fat managed to reunited the Franks, yet again. When the King died, and his realm split again, the Netherlands were partitioned between the Kingdoms of France and Germany. Flanders ended up under French control, and the rest was ruled by the Germans. The Vikings By the ninth century, a cold wind blew down north across the sea. By the death of Charlemagne, the Vikings made their first raids along the Frisian coast. The low countries suffered considerably. While France and Germany were fighting for supremacy in Middle Francia during the, the Vikings moved in and plundered the Netherlands. Monasteries were looted, villages burned, thousands of Netherlands slaughtered. Between the years 840 and 880, the northern Netherlands were ruled by a Viking named Rorik. He ruled his own private empire from Dorestad. Towns only survived through tribute, paying off these Dark Age thugs. There have been some comparison between the Vikings and modern-day Mafioso. The comparison is not a fair one, for mobsters do not depopulate any business who refuses to pay their ‘insurance’. Vikings, however, were known to make a habit of killing everyone who resisted. The Vikings were finally driven from the Netherlands by ‘the People’s King’. Elected by an assembly of French and German nobles, Henry of Germany ascended the throne of Germany in 919. He was the founder of the Ottonian Dynasty of German kings and emperors. He refused to be anointed by a high church official, wishing to be king, not by the church, but by the people’s acclaim. He ended Viking supremacy in the Netherlands in 920, when he ‘liberated’ the city of Utrecht. Life during the Dark Ages Life for the average Netherlander during the Dark Ages, was hard, miserable and short. If death did not come from constant warfare, it came from either disease or famine. With the Fall of Rome, trade dwindled through most of the Netherlands, and sanitation became nonexistent. Entire families hobbled together in small huts. Close quarters, unsanitary conditions and uncertain food supply made the time between Rome and Holy Rome a time of the lowest quality of life experienced in Europe. Even during the stone age, Netherlanders lived healthier and happier. The typical Netherlander was considered old once they reached thirty, and few lived that long. Rome’s medical technology vanished with the receding of Rome’s tide. The only help for the sick came from Shaman and later the Church. Herbal remedies at the time met with limited success. Lack of understanding about the body and illness itself compounded the problem. Sometimes, the sick were simply abandoned to their fate because it was explained as ‘divine will’. Diseases easily treated today, such as influenza, existed in the first millennia as an often fatal ailment. Food supplies were always in desperate straights. With even the slightest change in local climate, entire crops could be wipe out. The biggest danger came in a familiar form; the grain, and bread it made, which Dark Age Europeans depended upon. Wheat was a particularly vulnerable crop. Heavy rainfall could bend or break the stalks. Most of their lives, the Netherlanders did not worry about heavy rains. Most crops were simply put to the torch when Barbarians, Knights or Vikings descending into the area. Food supplies continued to be vulnerable until the introduction of the potato, centuries later. Burning a tuber, still underground, proved impossible. Raiding was the biggest fear. Invaders and even local bandits preyed upon peasants. With many of the strongest men serving in the Frankish army, the villagers found it difficult to defend themselves. Often, they were simply killed by the bandits, and everything not nailed down was looted, and the rest torched. In order to save themselves, many Netherlanders placed themselves into serfdom. In return for the protection of local overlords (who often were responsible for raiding neighbors), the peasants would work the lord’s land. The peasant only received a small lot of land for themselves to farm, while the largest fields would go into the overlord’s coffers, and feed the cities. So desperate was their plight, that peasants traded their very freedom for safety. Once a serf, they could not move, marry, or even have an overnight guest without permission. Yes, they were safe from banditry, but famine and disease lived as their constant companion. Half of their children still died before the age of five, and life expectancy remained pitifully low. Education did not exist, and literacy remained almost exclusive to the clergy. It was not until Charlemagne, did any Frankish king desire to read or write. Centuries more would pass until the quality of life would rise to acceptable levels. With Henry I’s invasion, the Netherlands found themselves incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire. During the next era, life would gradually improve, and give birth to The Dutch. The Holy Roman Empire With the coming of Henry I, the Netherlands fell under the jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Empire. The name itself is a bit of a misnomer. It was not that holy, it was far from Rome, and it barely fell under the category of empire. Despite its name, the provinces of the Netherlands benefitted greatly from its rule. In the beginning of the second millennium, numerous agricultural developments spurred the Agricultural Revolution. These innovations resulted in an increase of productivity in the fields, especially food production. The economy started to develop at a fast pace, and higher productivity allowed peasants to farms more land, or to become tradesmen, and start the Dutch on the road to mercantilism. Guilds were established and export markets developed as the production exceeded the local need. Also, the Holy Roman Empire was responsible for introducing currency to the region, making trading an easier affair that ever before. Existing towns grew, and new towns sprang up like weeds surrounding monasteries and castles, and a mercantile middle class started to develop within these urban areas. As the population grew, so did commerce. Cities arose and flourished, particularly in Flanders and Brabant. As these cities prospered, they started buying certain privileges for themselves, including city rights, right to self-govern and the right to pass laws. Thus began the fiercely independent spirit of the provinces. In the future, trying to govern seventeen diverse provinces challenged the strongest willed of Statholders and Kings. With these new rights, the wealthiest of cities became quasi-independent states themselves. The two most import cities of the Holy Roman Empire era included Brugge and Antwerp. The Empire was not able to maintain political unity. In addition to the growing independence of the towns, local rulers turned their own counties and duchies into their own private kingdoms, and felt little obligation to the Emperor. Much of the Netherlands fell under the rule of the Count of Holland, Duke of Gelre, Duke of Brabant and even the Bishop of Utrecht. In addition to private kingdoms, private wars were wages. Holland and Gelre themselves fought over Utrecht, whose Bishop was marginalized in the following centuries. Various feudal states locked themselves into a state of almost continuous warfare. The Holy Roman Empire saved the Dutch people from foreign invaders, and their growth allowed the provinces to turn on one and another. Luxembourg Though not as crucial as Holland, Brabant or even Zeeland, the Duchy of Luxembourg proved to be a crucial corner of the provinces. The history of the Duchy began with the construction of Luxembourg Castle during the Dark Ages. It was Siegfried I, Count of Ardennes, who traded some of his ancestral land in 963, for an ancient, a supposedly Roman, fortress by the name of Lucilinburhuc. Around this fort, gradually a town developed, which became the center of a small, yet strategically vital region between France and Germany. Luxembourg remained an independent fief, a county, within the Holy Roman Empire until the year 1354, when Charles IV elevated it to the status of a Duchy. At the time, the Luxembourg family held the crown of Bohemia, but the Duchy was usually ran by a separate branch of the family. By 1437, the imperial Luxembourg line became extinct in the male line. At the time, the Duchy and castles were held by the Bohemian princess Elisabeth of Gorlitz. After Elisabeth’s death, the Duke of Burgundy inherited the realm, adding it to the rapidly growing Duchy of Burgundy. Brabant The Duchy of Brabant was formally established in the year 1183, and the title of Duke created by the German Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, in favor of Henry of Brabant. Although the original county was quite small, and limited to the territory between the Dender and Zenne rivers, Brabant soon expanded to include all the lands beneath the rule of the Duke of Brabant. After the death of his father, Godfrey III, Henry added his inheritance of Lothier to his new realm. After the Battle of Worringen in 1288, the Duke of Brabant acquired the Duchy of Limburg and Overmaas. In 1354, the Dukes of Brabant granted a charter of liberty to it citizens. Liberty was a relative term and rather limited by today’s standards, but was several steps above the fiefs of neighboring France. Brabant’s dukes waned in power, and by 1430, the Duchies of Limburg and Brabant were inherited by the Duke of Burgundy. Burgundy would soon play a key role in unifying the Netherlands. Utrecht The Archbishopric’s beginnings dated back to the establishment of the Diocese of Utrecht by Saint Willibrord in 695. With the consent of the Frankish King, the first consecrated Frisian bishop settled in the town of Utrecht. After the Saint’s death, the Diocese faced incursions by other Frisians, and later on Normans. Utrecht’s situation improved during the reign of Saxon Emperors, who often summoned the Bishops to attended Imperial Councils. In the year 1024, the Bishops were made Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and thus the Prince-Bishopric of Utrecht was born. It was not unique in these regards, as will later be explored with Liege, but the new state consisted of Utrecht, along with Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel. In 1122, the Concordat of Worms annulled the Emperor’s right of investiture and gave the cathedral chapter the right to elect its own bishops. These elections were often interfered with by the Vatican, who decided it was their right to appoint bishops. After the middle 1300s, the Popes repeated appointed bishops without any regard for the city’s rights. In 1527, the Bishop sold his lands to Emperor Charles V, and the Prince-Bishopric was absorbed by the growing Habsburg Family. Liege Liege’s domain developed from numerous donations from sovereign princes, and acquisitions of its bishops. During the Tenth Century, Notger secured the feudal authority of the County of Huy to become a sovereign himself. Liege’s virtual independence from the Holy Roman Empire, and its location between France and Germany, offered it important roles in international policies. During Notgar’s administration, All Soul’s Day experienced wide spread observance. His most vital contribution was the development of education. The schools of Liege were, in fact, the brightest focal points of literacy at the time. Tribunals were established during the reign of Henry of Verdun. These institutions sat judgement on infractions of the Peace of God. Both Peace of God, and Truce of God were Papal edicts designed to curve the violence wracking Medieval Europe. One edict banned warfare on holy days, while another placed large portions of the population off-limits. Starting with the clergy, this edict extended all the way to the lowly peasant, and anyone else incapable of defending themselves. As with all the provinces, Liege eventually came under the rule of Burgundy. This brought to an end the democratic selection of the Prince-Bishop. Unlike many of the provinces, Liege was not a willing addition to the United Provinces. It was a Catholic stronghold, and loyal to the end to Spain. In 1608, the Spanish faced defeat at Liege, and the Prince-Bishopric was forced into the new Dutch nation. The County of Holland Until the Ninth Century, the inhabitants of what would become Holland were almost all Frisians, and the lands were part of Frisia Magna. Not until the days of the Holy Roman Empire did Holland become a fief in its own right. The first count known with any certainty was Dirk I, also Count of Frisia. One of the leading provinces within the United Provinces came from lowly origins, quite literally. In the United Provinces, there is a say; “God created the world, but the Dutch created Holland.” Since the melting of the glaciers, tens of thousands of years earlier, the shoreline of Holland remained very dynamic. One century there would be shore, the next islands, and after that just seas. Shores would erode and vanish, only to be replaced by new beaches. Storm surges funneled down through the North Sea ran smack into Holland, wrecking havoc on the vulnerable shores. The people of Holland lived in the most unstable, watery environments possible. Behind the shifting coastal dunes, lay plateaus of peat. Most of the area was nothing more than bogs and marshes, a land better set for diseases than for leaders of the world. In order to cultivate the land, and turn it into the center of wealth, the inhabitants were forced to drain the marshes. Drainage did not come without price; the results came in the form of soil shrinkage, in some place the land fell by up to fifteen meters. Early Hollander’s lives were one of constant struggle against the elements. Shifting coastlines were compounded by repeated flooding of the Rhine and Maas Rivers. The floods sometimes were so drastic, that the river changed course, flooding the lands only recently drained. The most severest of floods washed away entire towns, killing thousands. The Hollanders knew to save their lands, they must intervene, and force the rivers into their banks. The Counts of Hollands, and even Monasteries took the lead. The first to rise were emergency levies, heavy dikes to bolster the weakest points. Over the decades, levies followed the rivers from inland borders to the sea. Eventually, a complex dike system would line all of Holland, protecting the people from the furies of water. Hollanders have a peculiar relationship with water. On one hand, they could not live without it, but on the other, it might very well kill them. In order to maintain the levies, the waterschappen (water control board) was established, which had the power to enforce their decisions on water management. Holland, Westfriesland as it was known at the time, nearly came to an untimely end. The county was destined to become part of the Prince-Bishopric of Utrecht. The Count rebelled in 1018. Only difficulties between Pope and Emperor saved the county. In the years following, Holland struggled with its parent state of Frisia, along with the Duchy of Gelre for control over the northern Netherlands. Holland repeated imposed its will upon Zeeland and even Friesland. By the middle Fourteenth Century, the Count of Holland added the crowns of Hainaut, Flanders and Zeeland to his head. Holland’s rise peaked before the Fifteen Century, after it added parts of Friesland to its borders. The end of independence came at the time of Countess Jacqueline. During what is known as the Hook and Cod wars, the Countess was forced to surrender Holland to the Duke of Burgundy. Again Burgundy strikes north, and taking another Dutch state into its possession. At the time, it appeared Burgundy’s star was rising. In hindsight, the annexations were a blessing, for they united all of the Netherlands beneath one banner. Without Burgundy, it is not likely that a single Dutch state would exist today. Amsterdam The origins of the world’s Financial Capital lay in the Thirteenth Century. It is theorized that fishermen along the banks of the Amstel River built a bridge across the river before it emptied into one of the Netherlands’ many salt water inlets. Wooden doors upon this bridge, which at times acted as a dam to hold back the sea. The oldest documentation of ‘Aemstelledamme’ dates back to 1204, when the inhabitants of Kennemer penetrated the Amstel dike, destroying the House of Gijsbrecht van Amstel. The marshes of Holland are the most unlikely of places to give birth to one of the most magnificent cities in Europe. What is even more unlikely was that not only did Amsterdam survive, it thrived. In 1274, the Count of Holland granted Amsterdam fishermen exemption from the tolls. Around 1300, the Prince-Bishop of Utrecht gave Amsterdam city rights. The city was on the rise, though after the Bishop’s death, the city fell under the jurisdiction of Holland. In 1323, the Count of Holland laid a toll on beer imported from Hamburg. Contacts laid through the beer trade formed the basis of further trade with northern Germany’s Hanseatic League. From where, during the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, Amsterdam increasingly acquired grain and timber. During the Fifteenth Century, Amsterdam became the granary of the Netherlands, and the most vital trading city in Holland. Trade was almost the downfall of the city. In the 1340's, an uninvited guest of unprecedented terror paid Amsterdam a visit. Rattus rattus, the friendly neighborhood rat, stowed away in many shipments of grain and cloth. The rats themselves were little more than a nuisance, but they brought friends. The humble flea continued the chain, leading to the true enemy of Amsterdam. Both Bubonic and Pneumonic plagues laid waste to Europe, wiping out between twenty-five and fifty percent of the population. In today’s world, such casualty rates are unthinkable. Take ten people on Monday, and by Thursday five are already dead. It is difficult to imagine a world where half those one knew died in a matter of days. The Black Death was so terrifying, that it shattered entire families. Parents shunned children, husbands wives, and even the clergy avoided contact with their followers. There was little more frightening in Medieval Europe than dying without last rites. Society nearly collapsed by the time the Plague passed. The survivors wasted little time picking up the pieces. One might expect the trauma of Black Death to demoralize the populace. While no doubt some suffered for the rest of their lives, many took advantage of the situation. Before the Plague, the Netherlands were wrapped up in feudalism. Serfs worked the land, and even artisans were tied to their local lords. With half the population dead, workers fell into the demand section of ‘supply and demand’. Peasants left their lands in search of new opportunities, and there was little their overlords could do to stop them. In England, serfdom vanished completely with the passing of the Plague. In the Netherlands, it shrank, but did not fully vanish until Dutch Independence. The transition from serfdom to rent-paying, wage-earning freemen never would have started if not for a deadly bacterium. The Burgundian Era Before the Burgundian Era, the inhabitants of the Netherlands identified themselves by the local duke or count they lived beneath, and in certain circumstances, by the very town or village they lived. By 1433, the Dukes of Burgundy managed to unite most of the provinces beneath one banner. The Dutch were now on the road to nationhood. The transition to a single country was a long and slow process; first came the tribes, then the fiefs, and now the Dutch. Burgundy proved a far more capable administrator than the Emperors of Holy Rome. More than political unity, Burgundy brought economic unity as well. Following its conquest of Holland, which some of the Hollanders went as far as to invite Duke Philip the Good, Holland was integrated into the Flemish economy, and adopted its legal institutions. Burgundian Netherlands were a bit of an oddity in the Fifteenth Century. While many kingdoms were facing brutal civil wars, the Netherlands flourished, growing rich and enjoying peace. Those same civil wars impacted the Dutch markets. During the Hundred Years War (1338-1453) trade with France dwindled. It would appear the French were far more interested in protecting their sovereignty from the English than trading with the Dutch. It is not to say the Netherlands avoided conflict. The new rulers, especially of Holland, defended Dutch trading interests. The Hollander fleet defeated it former trading partners, the Hanseatic League on several occasions, and rose to become Europe’s primary port for distribution of grain. The trade was most vital to the people of Holland, who grew so prosperous, that they could no longer support their growing population with limited domestic resources. Not all the provinces enjoyed Burgundian rule. Gelre resented it deeply. It attempted to build up its own state in the north. Lacking funds in the Sixteenth Century, Gelre soldiers provided for themselves by plundering enemy terrain. Burgundy saw the Gelre as a great menace. The most notorious ‘provision’ came from the pillaging of The Hague. Gelre even allied with England and France, who both desired an end to the wealth of Flanders and the rule of Burgundy. Gelre was brought to heel and finally incorporated into Burgundy in 1473. The most vital contribution during this period was the founding of the Staaten-General. The Estates-General convened for the first time on January 9, 1464, in the city of Bruges. It consisted of Statholders from Brabant, Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Lille, Douai, Orchies, Artois, Hainaut, Namur, Mechelen and Boulonnais. Until 1464, the Duke of Burgundy maintained individual ties with each of these states. In theory, the first Estates-General comprised of three chambers; the nobility, the clergy, and the Third Estate, but the exact composition differed. Convening the Estates-General was part of Philip the Good’s plan for centralization. The end of Burgundy started in 1477, when Charles the Bold died on the battlefield, leaving no male heir. As per Salic Law, the territorial Duchy of Burgundy reverted to the French crown. After finally expelling the English, France was eager to stretch its borders. Burgundian Netherlands passed into the hands of the Habsburgs, through Mary of Burgundy and her husband, Maximilian von Habsburg. By the middle of the Sixteenth Century, the Netherlands fell into the hands of the Spanish Branch of the House Habsburg, and the repression of Spain.