West Friesland (historical region)

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The historical region of West Friesland, mixed map, old map overlaid on a modern geographic map

West Friesland (also West Frisia; Dutch: West-Friesland; West Frisian language: West-Fryslân) is a historical region in the northern part of the Netherlands. It was located in parts of what now is Noord-Holland and the Wadden Sea.


Its exact location is not clearly defined but it has been suggested that West Friesland comprised the area north of an imaginary line through Hoorn and Alkmaar.[1] Within this historical region is the contemporary region of West Friesland, which is a smaller area based on the Westfriese Omringdijk, a dyke system within the West Friesian district (gouw) of Westflinge.

The area between the rivers Vlie and IJ consists of the present-day municipalities of Alkmaar, Amsterdam (Landelijk Noord), Andijk, Anna Paulowna, Beemster, Bergen, Castricum, Den Helder, Drechterland, Edam-Volendam, Enkhuizen, Graft-De Rijp, Heerhugowaard, Heiloo, Hoorn, Landsmeer, Langedijk, Medemblik, Niedorp, Noorder-Koggenland, Purmerend, Obdam, Oostzaan, Opmeer, Schagen, Schermer, Stede Broec, Texel, Uitgeest, Vlieland, Waterland, Wervershoof, Wester-Koggenland, Wieringen, Wieringermeer, Wognum Wormerland, Zaanstad, Zeevang and Zijpe.


The river Vlie (or Fli), an extension of the IJssel branch of the Rhine, divided the northern Netherlands, which at the time was part of Western Frisia, into a western and eastern part. In the eleventh century, after heavy rainfalls, the river flooded and inundated large parts of the land. Not long after, the Zuider Zee bay (previously a lake) was formed, separating West Friesland from the contemporary Province of Friesland.[2] In the Middle Ages, the Westflinge area of West Friesland practically became an island, bordered on the north by the Medem and Zijpe inlets, and to the south by various interconnecting lakes (now polder land) that were connected with the Zuider Zee. Because of this, the toponym "West Friesland" was applied more to the Westflinge area than the original West Friesland.

For about 300 years, West Friesland operated as an autonomous area as the West Frisians did not want to be subjected to authorities from Holland. Floris V, Count of Holland attempted to unite Holland and West Friesland during his reign, and he succeeded in annexing West Frisia.[3] But it was his successor John I who finally defeated the West Frisians in 1297. However, even though West Friesland formed a united province with Holland in the Dutch Republic, it was recognized a separate region and the parliament of said province, commonly known as Holland, was formally known as the States of Holland and West Friesland, showing that West Friesland was still recognized in its own right. During the time of the United Provinces, West Friesland had its own independent Admiralty of the Northern Quarter and any admiral serving with that admiralty or the two other Hollandic admiralties, those of Amsterdam and the Admiralty of de Maze), had the title of Admiral of Holland and West Frisia.

The West Frisian language has disappeared from the region[2] and the later West Frisian dialects are now slowly disappearing. Although these dialects are subdialects of Hollandic Dutch, they were strongly influenced in vocabulary and grammar by a West Frisian substratum.

Early Medieval Vroonen[edit]

The first inhabitants of Alkmaar, Oudorp and St Pancras probably settled in the 9th century on the higher beach ridges along the Vroonermeer. Vroonen, so called because then it grew into a village. Late 13th century, the West Frisian are conquered by the Dutch. The victors crossed the village, put it on fire. The few surviving inhabitants fled. After a long time habitation came back and a chapel was built. Around this church [1484] was founded the village of St Pancras.

Vroonermeer was drained in 1561. The reclamation of the North Holland lakes was a purely private business affair. It was tried to bring fertile land above water. Investors financed and leased their new land to farmers. Explanation we find back in history and well into the 13th century. At that time it belonged to the County of Holland. Alkmaar, a border town was granted city rights in 1254 by William II and became a strong fortress in the struggle against the hostile West Frisians. Since the closing of the surrounding dike, to the displeasure of the Count of Holland. After centuries of struggle followed on Wednesday, March 27, 1297 the final settlement. Under the leadership of Jan van Renesse attacked a Dutch army the West Frisians on the Vroonergeest in the sight of the castles 'New Burg' and 'Middlesbrough' just outside Alkmaar. Near the Vroonermeer a second army attacked the West Frisians in the back. The battle was wrong. A foot army of peasants, against the heavily armed knights army with horses. Sandwiched between the two armies the 3000 West Frisians were slaughtered. Hardly anyone survived this battle and the village was completely wiped. Recent research shows the many unearthed skeletons, that were killed in this battle. Few survivors founded the village Coedijck. The West Frisian freedom was gone for good. Centuries later, at least since 1506 the name "Ecclesia S.Pancratii" first appeared in documents. Alkmaar apparently no 'genuine Frisians' On the banks of the Vroonermeer lay the castle "The New Burg" and a little further to the dike to the Vroonergeest-now called the Munnikenweg-lying castle "The Middelburg. Both castles [around 1270] are forced by Count Floris V to keep the West Frisians under the thumb. The Battle Vroone of 1297 was performed from 'The New Burg'. After defeating the West Frisians the castles were inhabited by an administrator named 'the landlord'. This could include the task to collect taxes from Vroone. During the following centuries, the castle was besieged several times (such as during the uprising of the cheese and bread people). Sustained damage were always restored until ... in 1517 "Grutte" Pier Donia Gerlofs of Kimswerd appeared. King of the Frisians, as he called himself. Known was his gigantic stature and enormous sword (2.15m) what he was wearing. And of course, the phrase 'Buter, brea and Griene tsiis, wa't that just sizze chin is Gjin oprjochte Fries'. After his village was destroyed in 1515 by Saxony, he began his war for the independence of Friesland to win back where he was supported by the Duke of Guelders. His army had the ominous name "The Black Hope. His raids led him to Holland, and in June 1517 he burned down Alkmaar. Both castles were destroyed and never recovered. The foundations are still there. In Vroonermeer started the Victory. After the looting and burning by Grutte Pier in 1517 as punishment for the so-called revolt of the Cheese and Bread People, it was forbidden to have ramparts. The city slowly rebuilt, but not the defenses. In 1572, when the city chose William of Orange. Spaniards on August 21 began their siege fortifications were finished only in the Southwest and they pitched their camp on at Oudorp where the defense was the weakest. On August 22, following a first strike, but it is repulsed. Cabeliau, the defender of the city, asking the dikes by stabbing. After some probing attacks on 18 September following the major assault on the city. Leaves forests and tar keep the Spaniards at bay. Again asked the dikes by stabbing and finally on September 23 the embankments of the river Rekere punched out, then the flooded polders including the only 12-year-old in 1561 reclaimed-Vroonermeer. The Spanish camp runs under and the army drips off. That meant the victory at Alkmaar starts. Unfortunately the Vroonermeer years afterwards became a flooded area. Until 1597. The Russians are coming. Did you know that Alkmaar is listed at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris? This to remember a French victory in a now largely forgotten war that nonetheless was the greatest battle ever on Dutch soil marks (the battle of Castricum). Then what happened? On 27 August 1799, four years after the fall of the Orangist government took an invasion of British and Russian allies place at Callantsoog to try the Government to put the French puppet state, the Batavian Republic (largely the current Netherlands). For the British and Russians the expedition initially did good. Soon the Batavian fleet fell into the hands of the Allies and took Alkmaar, after several battles at Bergen and Alkmaar. On 6 October, however, followed a major defeat at the Battle of Castricum and on 10 October in the Convention of Alkmaar determined that the invading forces would withdraw from England on 19 November which was a fact. Alkmaar, on 8 October for the second time in the history appalled. St Pancras had Daendels (the Dutch captain of the Batavian army) some time his headquarters. Many soldiers were transferred to citizens and they were forced to assist in reinforcement of buildings, killed soldiers burying, etc. There were goods like horse and carriage advanced. The church St Pancras has then calculated the damage 26.092,- guilders, at that time was a huge amount! Today we do not have much to remember of this brief invasion of the Russians in Bergen and the ruins of course, because that's when destroyed. The Vroonermeer lies in the area of Geestmerambacht. Which is now a residential area, was formerly the outskirts of the village of St Pancras. That was an outspoken soggy polder, caused by the disappearance of the peat. In the 16th century, after several outbreaks of plague, switched from livestock to agriculture. By fertile land from canals to pick up and the fields to explain the area was becoming richer and water was' The Empire of Thousand Islands ".

Lots of water with many small islands where potatoes, carrots, onions, but mainly cabbage was grown. The charcoal was removed by coal barge and 1879 on the new Broekerveiling traded. "The Veert 'as navigation is now (Pancrasser) Muted Veert (parallel to the Benedenweg).

In 1964 the land consolidation. The polder was matured and most of the 'Empire Of Thousand Islands' disappeared (and with them the gardeners. In 1973, the Broekerveiling (the oldest covered auction in the world, which took place on the water) is closed. Vroonermeer South received as tribute a lot of water and it is the intention Vroonermeer North again a wide pond along the Veert to build. Even they want, if the funding ever comes around, this water reconnect 'Green Carpet' in Langedijk.

The historical region of West Friesland

See also[edit]


  1. ^ van Nierop, Henk (2009). Treason in the Northern Quarter: War, Terror, and the Rule of Law in the Dutch Revolt. Princeton University Press. p. 10. ISBN 9780691135649. 
  2. ^ a b Reinhardt, Andreas, ed. (1984). Die erschreckliche Wasser-Fluth 1634 (in German). Husum: Husum Druck- und Verlagsgesellschaft. p. 189. ISBN 3-88042-257-5. 
  3. ^ Delaissé, L. M. J. (1968). A Century of Dutch Manuscript Illumination. California Studies in the History of Art. University of California Press and Cambridge University Press. p. 5.