Historical Holland

Until 1840 there was one, historical province Holland, but never there existed a tribe named Hollanders. This concept was born after a long process of creating Holland (an area) as a place of mixing and coexistence of various ancient tribes and immigrants, while each of them brought in something of their own. This paragraph explains history of this once powerful and very influential province and who is called a Hollander.

The processes leading to the formation of Holland started in the epoch of the migrations of peoples. The most important of these peoples were the Frisians and the Chatti.

The Frisians were an Indo-German tribe that traveled through northern Europe to the west under the pressure of the expanding Baltic peoples, and reached the northern sea shores in the current Netherlands along that route.

The Chatten (also called Cats) were also an Indo-German tribe, they marched, under the pressure of growing Slavic tribes, more south to the west. Due to fierce disputes the tribe of “Catten” fell in current Hessen (Germany) into a number of groups (including the Canninefates and Batavians) that left the area of the main tribe:

* After some time a group of Chatten (comp.: Chatham = Chatheim) arrived in England,
* A second group, the Canninefates settled along the Dutch North Sea coast. This meant that Canninefates mixed with the (south) Frisians who arrived a bit earlier along that seacoast. That mix became the Rijnlanders (the Rhine was the largest river).
* The third and final group, the Batavians, came around the year 500 BC. in the region between the rivers, south and east of the Canninefates.

The Romans called the homelands of the Batavians “the islands of the Batavians”. The Batavians gradually mingled with the Rhine Landers. The result was called Hollanders. Centuries later Holland (the traditional Batavian name for homeland) came in general use for the whole area. It meant woodlands (small forests. Compare German: “Holz”- and Saxonian: “Holt”- lands).

In 889 King Arnulf confirmed the count’s rights over the domains Kennemerland and Maasland to (the Frisian) Count Gerolphe I. This is the beginning of Holland as an administrative unit. Initially it, formally, still was called Rhineland.

In 1101 they finally wrote: “Florentius II comes de Hollant” (Floris II, Count of Holland). Then “Holland” had become the formal name of the entire western area.

In 1568 the (Calvinist) 80-year war for independency against (Catholic) Spain started. This was the reason for uniting the provinces of Gelderland, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overijssel, Friesland and Groningen (the Union of Utrecht). This was the beginning of the later so famous confederation of the Republic of the “Seven United Provinces”.

In 1795, the structure of the once modern republic was utterly obsolete. So the Batavian Republic was proclaimed and people started to reform her.

In 1801, before the structural reforms were completed, however, the French troops (Napoleon) marched into the country. In 1806 the Batavian Republic was disbanded.

In 1807 the Frence reorganized during their occupation, the Netherlands into 10 depart-ments (sections). Together they were (not independed) the “kingdom Holland”.

 In 1813 by the foundation of the united “Kingdom of the Netherlands”, the departments were replaced (in the constitution of 1814) again by the provinces. Also the old province of Holland returned to the map.

In 1830 the southern provinces (except Luxembourg) seceded again and formed the “Kingdom of the Belgians.”

In 1840 the province of Holland was, by the Netherlands government, divided into the provinces of North- and South-Holland. South Holland also lost a few small areas to the provinces of Utrecht and North Brabant. This happened because the other provinces felt Holland was too rich and too powerful.

In 1890, Luxembourg ended her relationship with the Netherlands. This happened because the Dutch King William III died and had no male heir. (So his wife became queen-regentes, later his daughter Wilhelmina became queen). According to the (Salic) laws of Luxemburg no woman could reign in Luxembourg.

Holland is the historic county around which the Netherlands have arisen. In a nutshell, it was culturally an area between the rivers called Batavia by the Romans and where tribes grew together. That “growing together” began with:

* the Frisian farmers: Dutch-Frisian cows and horses still known worldwide,
* the Caninefate farmers: Dutch vegetables and flowers are still known worldwide,
* the Batavians: (dikebuilders and fruit-growers).
Consider the sandy shores of the lowlands of the eastern coasts of the Northsea (from Zeeland in the south to Denmark in the north). Only in present Holland, the sea did not change the dunes into Wadden-islands.

By necessity they grew together became fishermen thus good shipbuilders and in the year 800 under Emperor Charlemagne they formed their first ship-commitees (the first Dutch navy, (the military tradition of the imperial Batavian guard got a colleague at sea!) to defend themselves against the Vikings. In the Time of the counts of Holland these commitees were bundled into “fleets”. As a result the growing employment attracted many people from other provinces, even from foreign countries, to Holland. These new Hollanders” brought contacts with foreign countries. So, having fleets, the “Hollanders” became traders. (Transport routes: tamed rivers with harbours and ships, they already had).

* Frisians and Batavians had already to defend their independence in Roman times. They were formally foederati (allies). Together they have defended that position. (in the year 28 – see Flevoland and in the year 69 – see pre-history and old times).
* Because the Emperor broke the nobility oath (including mutual assistance) and gave the Hollanders no support in their struggle against the Vikings, Holland became “de jure” independent (from the German Kaiser).
* To finance the defence against the Vikings the counts of Holland established in the town of Vlaardingen a toll. This met strong objections of a few prelates who called the Emperor to put an end to it. The joint army of Emperor and bishops was defeated near Vlaardingen several times. So Holland was also “de facto” an independent state again.

So the “real” Hollander does not exist unless the melting pot of all these different a bit enterprising people that came to Holland (which is still going on!) are called Hollanders. Given this melting together process (later it occurred also in other provinces a in lesser extent) and the history, there is some logic in the fact that foreigners started to call all Netherlanders: Hollanders.

Han Tiggelaar

Read also: North Holland; South Holland

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