BOLSWARD, a town in the province of Friesland, Holland, 6 m. W.N.W. of Sneek. A steam-tramway connects it with Sneek, Makkum, Harlingen and Franeker. Pop. (1900) 6517. The Great church, or St Martin's (1446-1466) is a large building containing some good carving, a fine organ and the tombs of many Frisian nobles. The so-called Small church, dating from about 1280, also contains fine carving and tombstones; and is the remnant of a Franciscan convent which once existed here. Bolsward also possesses a beautiful renaissance town-hall (1614-1618) and various educational and charitable institutions, including a music and a drawing school. It has an active trade in agricultural produce, and some spinning-mills and tile and pottery works. The town is mentioned in 725, when it was situated on the Middle Sea. When this receded, a canal was cut to the Zuider Zee, and in 1422 it was made a Hansa town.
The medieval constitution of Bolsward, though in its government by eight scabini, with judicial, and four councillors with administrative functions, it followed the ordinary type of Dutch cities, was in some ways peculiar. The family of Jongema had certain hereditary rights in the administration, which, though not mentioned in the town charter of 1455, were defined in that of 1464. According to this the head of the family sat for two years with the scabini and the third year with the councillors, and had the right to administer an oath to one of each body. More singular was the influential position assigned, in civic legislation and administration, to the clergy, to whom in conjunction with the councillors, there was even, in certain cases, an appeal from the judgment of the scabini.
See C. Hegel, Stadte u. Gilden der germanischen Völker im Mittelalter (Leipzig, 1891).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)