Southern Netherlands

From Academic Kids

Template:Netherlands state

The Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain (Spanish Netherlands, 1579-1713), Austria (Austrian Netherlands, 1713-1794) and France (1794-1815). This region comprised most of modern Belgium (except the prince-bishopric of Lüttich(german)=Liège(french)=Luik(dutch), which was an autonomous, neutral part of the German Holy Roman Empire) and Luxembourg (including the homonymous present Belgian province) as well as much of northwestern France. As they were very wealthy, they were a jewel in the ever debt-burdned Habsburg crown, but because of their proud defence of ancient privileges and resistance to the religious intolerance of the staunchly catholic monarchy they also became a permanent headache and finally were lost : first temporarily to the revolutionary and napoleonic french invaders, for good at the 1815 Congress of Vienna independent (first as part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands under Holland's Orange dynasty, in 1830 separate as kingdom of Belgium, while Luxemburg was an autonomous part of Germany till 1866).


Spanish Netherlands

The Spanish Netherlands in broad sense were the Seventeen Provinces, that came under Habsburg rule after 1482, after 1556 the Spanish Habsburg line. The northern provinces separated from Habsburg rule during the Eighty Years' War (1568-1648) and became the independent United Provinces after the Oath of Abjuration of 1581. The southern provinces remained under Habsburg rule and formed the Spanish Netherlands in strict sense.

The Spanish Netherlands originally consisted of the whole of the provinces of Flanders (county, including french - and Walloon Flanders, ), the county of Artois, Tournai, (in France) Cambrai, Luxembourg, Limburg (later lost to the prince-bishop of Liège), county of Hainaut, county of Namur, and Mechlin, most of the Duchy of Brabant, and the Upper Quarter (Bovenkwartier) of the Duchy of Guelders (actualy the surroundings of Venlo in the present province of Dutch Limburg, not even bordering the province of Gelderland). The capital was Brussels in Brabant.

In the early seventeenth century there was a flourishing court at Brussels, which was under the government of King Philip III's sister Archduchess Isabella and her husband, Archduke Albert. Among the artists who emerged from the court of the "Archdukes," as they were known, was Peter Paul Rubens. Under the Archdukes, the Spanish Netherlands actually had formal independence from Spain, but with Albert's death in 1621 they returned to formal Spanish control, although the childless Isabella remained on as Governor until her death in 1633.

The failing wars intended to regain the 'heretical' Northern Netherlands meant significant loss of (still mainly catholic) territories in the north, which was consolidated in the 1648 Westphalian peace, and given the peculiar, inferior status of Generaliteitslanden (jointly ruled by the United Republic, not admitted as member provinces) : Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (south of the Escaut), the present Dutch province of Noord-Brabant and Maastricht (in the present Dutch province of Limburg).

In the wars between the French and the Spanish in the Seventeenth Century, the territory of the Spanish Netherlands was repeatedly nipped at. The French annexed Artois and Cambrai by the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659, and Dunkirk was ceded to the English. By the Treaties of Aix-la-Chapelle (ending the War of Devolution in 1668) and Nijmegen (ending the Franco-Dutch War in 1678), further territory up to the current Franco-Belgian border was ceded, including most of Walloon Flanders (around the city of Lille), as well as much of Hainaut (including Valenciennes). In the later War of the Reunions, and the Nine Years War France annexed other parts of the region.

Austrian Netherlands

Under the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), following the War of the Spanish Succession, what was left of the Spanish Netherlands was ceded to Austria and thus became known as the Austrian Netherlands. However, the Austrians themselves generally had little interest in the region (aside from a short-lived attempt by Emperor Charles VI to compete with British and Dutch trade through the Ostend Company), and the fortresses along the border (the Barrier Fortresses) were, by treaty, garrisoned with Dutch troops. The area had, in fact, been given to Austria largely at British and Dutch insistence, as these powers feared potential French domination of the region.

Throughout the latter part of the eighteenth century, the principal foreign policy goal of the Habsburg rulers was to exchange the Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria, which would round out Habsburg possessions in southern Germany. The Austrian Netherlands rebelled against Austria in 1788 as a result of Joseph II's centralizing policies, but order was restored by Joseph's brother and successor, Leopold II in 1790.

French occupation

After the French Revolution, in 1794 the entire region (including territories that were never under Habsburg rule, like the Bishopric of Liège) was overrun by France ending the existence of this territory as Spanish/Austrian Netherlands. It became an integral part of France, and was divided into départements:

After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 the region was given to the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, however after the Belgian Revolution of 1830 it separated and became the independent state of Belgium.

See also

fr:Pays-Bas espagnols nl:Spaanse tijd


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