Generality Lands

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The Generality Lands, Lands of the Generality or Common Lands (Dutch: Generaliteitslanden) were about one fifth of the territories of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, that were directly governed by the States-General. Unlike the seven provinces Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, Overijssel, Friesland and Groningen, these territories had no States-Provincial and were not represented in the central government.


During the Eighty Years' War the Generality Lands came under control of the Dutch Republic, and this situation was consolidated by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Most of the territories had no provincial government because they were cut off from their original governments, which remained under Spanish rule. The prefix Staats- indicates that this part of the province was under general States rule, as a dependent territory. For both the Generality Lands and the Dutch colonies, sovereignty was claimed by the Generality on the basis Right of conquest.

  • Westerwolde and Wedde: what is now the south-eastern part of the province of Groningen was a generality land between 1594 and 1619, after which it became part of said province.

After the French occupation of the Southern Netherlands and the proclamation of the Batavian Republic in 1795 the Generality Lands ceased to exist. Staats-Brabant became a département in the Batavian Republic (Bataafs-Brabant). Staats-Vlaanderen became part of the French département Escaut. Staats-Limburg and Staats-Oppergelre became parts of the Frenchs départements Roer and Meuse-Inférieure.

When French rule ended and the United Kingdom of the Netherlands began, none of the Generality lands returned. Bataafs-Brabant was merged with a number of formerly semi-independent Holy Roman fiefs and part of the province of Holland to become the province of Noord-Brabant; Staats-Vlaanderen was incorporated into the province of Zeeland; and most parts of Staats-Oppergelre and Staats-Limburg were merged with territories gained from Prussia to form the province of Limburg, with the rest going to Prussia.

Territories of the Dutch Republic outside Europe were also under general States rule, for example Staten Island in present-day New York City. New Zealand was also originally called Staten Landt after its Dutch discovery.



(including ¶ History of the Low Contries)

  1. ^ Roman foederati
  2. ^ The Chamavi merged into the confederation of the Franks; the Tubanti merged into the confederation of the Saxons.
  3. ^ Roman foederati
  4. ^ Roman foederati
  5. ^ Part of East Francia after 939, divided in Upper Lorraine (as part of West Francia) and Lower Lorraine (as part of East Francia) in 959.
  6. ^ Lower Lorraine — also referred to as Lothier — disintegrated into several smaller independent territories and only the title of a "Duke of Lothier" remained, held by Brabant.
  7. ^ Lordship of Frisia and Lordship of Groningen (including the Ommelanden) after 1524 and 1536 respectively.
  8. ^ Including County of Zeeland, that was ruled by neighboring County of Holland and County of Flanders (until 1432).
  9. ^ Utrecht included Lordship of Overijssel (until 1528), County of Drenthe (until 1528) and County of Zutphen (until 1182).
  10. ^ Duchy of Brabant included since 1288 also the Duchy of Limburg (now part of the Belgian Province of Liège) and the "Overmaas" lands Dalhem, Valkenburg and Herzogenrath (now part of the Dutch Province of Limburg).
  11. ^ The county, later duchy, of Guelders consisted of four quarters, as they were separated by rivers: situated upstream Upper Quarter (the present day northern half of the Dutch province of Limburg), spatially separated from the three downstream Lower Quarters: County of Zutphen (after 1182), Veluwe Quarter and Nijmegen Quarter. The three lower quarters emerged from the historic gau Hamaland (named after the Chamavi tribe), and formed the present day province of Gelderland. Guelders did not include the Cleves enclave Huissen and the independent counties of Buren and Culemborg, that were much later seceded to the province of Gelderland.
  12. ^ Including County of Artois (part of Flanders until 1237) and Tournaisis.
  13. ^ Throughout the Middle Ages, the bishopric was further expanded with the Duchy of Bouillon in 1096 (ceded to France in 1678), the acquisition of the county of Loon in 1366 and the county of Horne in 1568. The Lordship of Mechelen was also part of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.
  14. ^ The name Seventeen Provinces came in use after the Habsburg emperor Charles V had re-acquired the Duchy of Guelders, and an continuous territory arose.