There is an ancient form of “three” hidden in the name of Drenthe. Drenthe possibly once consisted of four quarters (some think of the county Linge – now German – as the fourth one) but historically only a division into three “landschappen” (administrative county with executive of a lower rank) is known. (Additionally each was divided into two, so together they formed six dingspelen (knighthoods).


The province of Drenthe
The Saxonian province Drenthe is bordered on the north and northeast to the province of Groningen, in the east to Germany, in the south to the German county Linge and to the province of Overijssel, in the west to the provinces of Flevoland and Friesland.

The capital city is Assen, although Emmen has today the largest population. The province has a population density of 196 inhabitants/km2.

The “landschap” of Drenthe, together with the province of Overijssel, the Gorecht (now Groningen) and both the Stellingwerven (now Frisian) was (in the 11th – 16th centuries) administratively a part of the bishopric of Utrecht. Together they were also called the “Oversticht”. That early bond with the diocese Utrecht is still visible through the bishops crown on the coat of arms and “mother (Mary) and child (Jesus)” on the shield. The shield is held by two Dutch Lions. The flag shows the six Dingspelen in Drenthe (with the stars) and a tower for the ancient stronghold Coevorden.

 Vlag drenthe

Coat of arms and flag of Drenthe

Provincial broadcast: (Radio Drenthe& (TV Drenthe) & (Teletext).
Drenthe in a birds eyeWeather in Drenthe & Weather warnings in Drenthe.
Drenthian Gouvernement & Houses of parliament (“states”) of Drenthe (photo’s).
Tourisme in Drenthe.

Provincial Anthem: Mijn Drenthe (in dialect)

Dutch                                                     English
-1-                                                          -1-
Ik heb u lief mijn heerlijk landje,            I love you my wonderful country,
Mijn enig Drenthe land .                        My only Drenthe county.
Ik minde eenvoud in uw schoonheid,    I adore the simplicity in your beauty,
‘k Heb u mijn hart verpand.                   To you I pledge my heart.
Mijn taak vervul ik blijde                        I fulfill my job with joy
Waarheen ook plicht mij riep                 Whither duty called me
Uw geest was’t die mij leide                  It was your spirit that guided me
Daarom vergeet ‘k u niet                       Therefore I will not forget you

-2-                                                          -2-
‘k Hoor nog de lieve heldre klokjes,       I still hear the sweet clear bells 
Bij zinkend’avondzon.                            With the down going evening sun. 
Als schaapjes keerden van de heide,    When sheep returning from the moors,
En moeder voor ons zong.                     And mother sang for us. 
Oh, kon ik nog eens horen                     Oh, could I hear again
Dat lied in schemeruur                           That song at sundown hour
Met vaders schoon vertelsel                   With fathers beautiful story
Bij ‘t vrolijk knappend vuur.                     Near the cheerfully crackling fire.

-3-                                                         -3-
Zie nog uw brink met forse eiken          I still see your green with the strong oaks
Waar ik mijn makkers vond                   Where I found my companions
Waar ik mijn tenen mandje vulde          Where I got my willow basket filled
Met eikels glad en rond                         With acorns smooth and round
Daar bij die oude linde kwam               There close to the old lime
‘k met vrienden samen                          I came ogether with friends
Zo menig vriend ging henen                 So many friend went away
Zijn schors bewaard zijn naam             His bark preserves his name

4-                                                         -4-
De ruige boswal langs uw velden,        The rugged boswal along your fields,
Was mijn lui-lekker-land.                       Was my lazy-good country.
Die gaf mij lekkere zoete bramen,        That gave me nice sweet blackberries,
Uit milde gulle hand.                             From mild generous hand. 
Daar gaarde ik brandstof                      There I collected the fuel 
Voor ‘t oude en heilig vuur.                   For the old and sacred fire
Als lente’s adem wekte,                        When spring’s breath aroused, 
Uw sluimerende natuur.                       Your dormant nature.

-5-                                                         -5-
Waar nog de held’re veldplas               Where the clear field puddle
Uw vredig beekje voedt                        Your peaceful brook feeds
Daar in dat wijde, bruine heivlak          There, in the wide, brown heather
Waar wilp en korhoen broedt               Where wilp and grouse broods
Daar koelde ik mijn leden                     I cooled my legs and my arms
In ‘t nat van zuivere wel                       In the wet of the pure spring
Daar heb ik leren zwieren                    There I learned ice dancing
Op ijzers blank en snel                        On irons blank and fast 

-6-                                                         -6-
Die beelden uit dat zoet verleden,       Those pictures of that sweet past,
Wat blijven ze me bij.                           How lively are they to me.
Vaak heb ik zware strijd gestreden      I have fought often a tough battle 
Dan hielpen, sterkten zij                      Then, they helped strengthened me
En nu, ten volle dankbaar                    And now, fully grateful
Wijd ‘k u mijn beste lied                       I dedicate my best song to you
Mijn heerlijk, heerlijk Drenthe              My lovely, lovely Drenthe
Vergeten kan ‘k u niet                         I can not forget you

March of Drenthe (Anthem in Dutch): Mars van Drenthe
Songs in low-Saksonian: Sint Maarten & Sint Maarten & Hart van Drenthe.

The oldest people who inhabited Drenthe were probably the “Hunebed builders”. About the year 500 BC they merged with the Germans that moved into the Netherlands in that time. Such mixing was likely, in the Netherlands, gradually and peacefully (there was plenty of room in that time) because there are no archeological or other evidences that indicate some havoc in that period.

 Still to add: Dolmen (Hunebedden).

The oldest churches in Drenthe are the six churches founded in the capitals of the Dingspelen. Three of them (Anloo, Emmen and Beilen) were owned by the bishops (of Utrecht) and are probably founded by them somewhere around 900, it is likely the church of Diever is also founded by these bishops. The church of Vries was owned by the village Werden (now part of the town Essen in Germany) and the founder of the Church in Rolde is unknown.

In old times the Gorecht (now Groningen) belonged to Drenthe and also the Stelling-werven (now Frisian). Coevorden, on the other hand, was not a part of old Drenthe, but belonged to Salland (Overijssel). Its lords became also rulers of Drenthe, so the stronghold Coevorden was (later) attached to Drenthe.

After Charlemagne defeated the Saxons in the year 800, Drenthe became a part of the Frankish empire. It became a county and its appointed counts came from abroad. In 1046 Emperor Henry III gave Drenthe to the bishop Bernold. This brought Drenthe in the so called “dead hand”. (Bishops have formally no progeny, but unlike noble families, they do not get extinct). That situation is not changed until the Republic of the United Provinces was established. The authority of the bishops was, nevertheless, very weak. Drenthe was, after all, a poor region (mainly heath land on sandy soil) and yielded almost no income to maintain army, judges, etc. So the practical control by Utrecht was fictitious. The (hereditary appointed) satraps had mainly an empty title.

In the period from 1150 to 1450 there was mainly a power struggle between the lords of the stronghold Coevorden and the bishops of Utrecht. The “highlight” of that period is the Battle of Ane in 1227, won by Coevorden, with suport of Drenthe. During the Eighty Years’ War for freedom between Spain/Austria and the United Provinces, Drenthe played no role at all. The knights saw their selves as the representatives of the region and some joined the rebellion and signed, in 1580, the Convention of the Union of Utrecht (so Drenthe entered not as a province but as a “Landschap” and had no right to vote in the States-General). But it was governed by it (so law enforcement came). In fact, it was (like Zeews-Vlaanderen, Noord-Brabant and Limburg) just a “Catholic Generaliteits” county!

Han Tiggelaar

Sheepdancers: Beech dance.



Volksverhalen: De reuzen Ellert en Brammert (legende).

Een provincie in het koninkrijk (1850).

Moderne tijd. TT-Assen (Grand Prix).

Tourist information: VVV-Drenthe.

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