Gelderland, History Of
GELDERLAND, HISTORY OF, Gelders, or Guelders, formerly a duchy of the Empire, on the lower Rhine and the Yssel, bounded by Friesland, Westphalia, Brabant, Holland and the Zuider Zee; part of which has become the province of Holland, dealt with separately below. The territory of the later duchy of Gelderland was inhabited at the beginning of the Christian era by the Teutonic tribes of the Sicambri and the Batavi, and later, during the period of the decline of the Roman empire, by the Chamavi and other Frank peoples. It formed part of the Caroling kingdom of Austrasia, and was divided into pagi or gauen, ruled by official counts (comites-graven). In 843, by the treaty of Verdun, it became part of Lotharingia (Lorraine), and in 879 was annexed to the kingdom of East Francia (Germany) by the treaty of Meerssen. The nucleus of the later county and duchy was the gau or district surrounding the town of Gelder or Gelre, lying between the Meuse and the Niers, and since 1715 included in Rhenish Prussia.
The early history is involved in much obscurity. There were in the 11th century a number of counts ruling in various parts of what was afterwards known as Gelderland. Towards the close of that century Gerard of Wassenburg, who besides the county of Gelre ruled over portions of Hamalant and Teisterbant, acquired a dominant position amongst his neighbours. He is generally reckoned as the first hereditary count of Gelderland (d. 1117/8). His son, Gerard II. - the Long - (d. 1131), married Irmingardis, daughter and heiress of Otto, count of Zutphen, and their son, Henry I. (d. 1182), inherited both countships. His successors Otto I. (1182-1207) and Gerard III. (1207-1229) were lovers of peace and strong supporters of the Hohenstaufen emperors, through whose favour they were able to increase their territories by acquisitions in the districts of Veluwe and Betuwe. He acted as guardian to his nephew Floris IV. of Holland during his minority. Otto II., the Lame (1220-1271), fortified several towns and bestowed privileges upon them for the purpose of encouraging trade. He became a person of so much importance that he was urged to be a candidate for the dignity of emperor. He preferred to support the claims of his cousin, William II. of Holland. In return for the loan of a considerable sum of money William gave to him the city of Nijmwegen in pledge. His son Reinald I. (d. 1326) married Irmingardis, heiress of Limburg, and in right of his wife laid claim to the duchy against Adolf of Berg, who had sold his rights to John I. of Brabant. War followed, and on the 5th of June 1288 Reinald, who meantime had also sold his rights to the count of Luxemburg, was defeated and taken prisoner at the battle of Woeringen. In this battle the count of Luxemburg was slain, and Reinald had to surrender his claims as the price of his defeat to John of Brabant. In 1310, in return for his support, Reinald received from the emperor Henry VII. for all his territories privilegium de non evocando, i.e. the exemption of his subjects from the liability to be sued before any court outside his jurisdiction. In 1317 he was made a prince of the Empire. A wound received at the battle of Woeringen had affected his brain, and an insurrection against him was in 1316 headed by his son Reinald, who assumed the government under the title of "Son of the Count." Reinald I. was finally in 1320 immured in prison, where he died in 1326.
Reinald II., the Black (1326-1343), was one of the foremost princes in the Netherlands of his day. He married (1) Sophia, heiress of Mechlin, and (2) in 1331 Eleanor, sister of Edward III. of England. By purchase or conquest he added considerably to his territories. He did much to improve the condition of the country, to foster trade, to promote the prosperity of the towns, and to maintain order and security in his lands by wise laws and firm administration. In 1338 the title of duke was bestowed upon him by the emperor Louis the Bavarian, who at the same time granted to him the fief of East Friesland. He died in 1343, leaving three daughters by his first marriage, and two sons, Reinald and Edward, both minors, by Eleanor of England. His elder son was ten years of age, and succeeded to the duchy under the guardianship of his mother Eleanor. Declared of age two years later, the youthful Reinald III. found himself involved in many difficulties through the struggles between the rival factions named after the two noble families of Bronkhorst and Hekeren. What was the quarrel between them, and what the causes they represented, cannot now be ascertained with certainty. There is good reason, however, to believe that they were the counterparts of the contemporary Cod and Hook parties in Holland, and of the Schieringers and Vetkoopers in Friesland. In Gelderland the quarrel between them was converted into a dynastic struggle, the Hekeren recognizing Duke Reinald, while the Bronkhorsten set up his younger brother Edward. At the battle of Tiel (1361) Reinald was defeated and taken prisoner, and Edward held the duchy till 1371. He was a good and successful ruler, and his death by an arrow wound, after a brilliant victory over the duke of Brabant near Baesweller (August 1371), was a loss to his country. He was in his thirty-fifth year and left no heirs. Reinald was now taken from the prison in which he had been confined to reign once more, but his health was broken and he died childless three years afterwards. The war of factions again broke out, the half-sisters of Reinald III. and Edward both claiming the inheritance; the elder, Matilda (Machteld), in her own right, the younger Maria on behalf of her seven-year-old boy William of Jülich, as the only male representative of the family. The Hekeren supported Matilda, the Bronkhorsten William of Jülich. The war of succession lasted till 1379, and ended in William's favour, the emperor Wenceslas (Wenzel) recognizing him as duke four years later.
Duke William was able, restless and adventurous, an ideal knight of the palmy days of chivalry. He took part in no less than five crusades with the Teutonic order against the heathen Lithuanians and Prussians. In 1393 he inherited the duchy of Jülich, and died in 1402. He was succeeded by his brother, Reinald IV. (d. 1423), in the united sovereignty of Gelderland, Zutphen and Jülich, who, in accordance with a promise made before his accession, ceded the town of Emmerich to Duke Adolf of Cleves. He took the part of his brother-in-law, John of Arkel, against William VI. of Holland, and in a war of several years' duration was not successful in preventing the Arkel territory being incorporated in Holland. On his death without legitimate issue, Gelderland passed to the young Arnold of Egmont, grandson of his sister Johanna, who had married John, lord of Arkel, their daughter Maria (d. 1415) being the wife of John, count of Egmont (d. 1451). Arnold was recognized as duke in 1424 by the emperor Sigismund, but in the following year the emperor revoked his decision and bestowed the duchy upon Adolf of Berg. Arnold in retaliation laid claim to the duchy of Jülich, which had likewise been granted to Adolf by Sigismund, and a war followed in which the cities and nobles of Gelderland stood by Arnold; it ended in Arnold retaining Gelderland and Zutphen, and Gerard, the son of Adolf (d. 1437), being acknowledged as duke of Jülich. To gain the support of the estates of Gelderland in this war of succession, Arnold had been compelled to make many concessions limiting the ducal prerogatives, and granting large powers to a council consisting of representatives of the nobles and the four chief cities, and his extravagance and exactions led to continual conflicts, in which the prince was compelled to yield to the demands of his subjects. In his later years a conspiracy was formed against him, headed by his wife, the violent and ambitious Catherine of Cleves, and his son Adolf. Arnold was at first successful and Adolf had to go into exile; but he returned, and in 1465, having taken his father prisoner by treachery, interned him in the castle of Buren. Charles the Bold of Burgundy now seized the opportunity to intervene. In 1471 he forced Adolf to release his father, who sold the reversion of the duchy to the duke of Burgundy for 92,000 golden gulden. On the 23rd of February 1473 Arnold died, and Charles of Burgundy became duke of Gelderland. His succession was not unopposed. Nijmwegen offered an heroic resistance and only fell after a long siege. After Charles's death in 1477 Adolf was released from the captivity in which he had been held, and placed himself at the head of a party in the powerful city of Ghent, which sought to settle the disputed succession by forcing a match between him and Mary, the heiress of Burgundy. On the 29th of June 1477, however, he was killed at the siege of Tournai; and Mary gave her hand to Maximilian of Austria, afterwards emperor. Catherine, Adolf's sister, made an attempt to assert the rights of his son Charles to the duchy, but by 1483 Maximilian had crushed all opposition and established himself as duke of Gelderland.
Charles of Egmont, however, did not surrender his claims, but with the aid of the French collected an army, and in the course of 1492 and 1493 succeeded in reconquering his inheritance. The efforts of Maximilian to recover the country were vain, and the successive governors of the Netherlands, Philip the Fair and his sister Margaret, fared no better. In 1507 Charles of Egmont invaded Holland and Brabant, captured Harderwijk and Bommel in 1511, threatened Amsterdam in 1512, and took Groningen. It was, undoubtedly, a great and heroic achievement for the ruler of a petty state like Gelderland thus to assert and maintain his independence for a long period against the overwhelming power of the house of Austria. It was not till 1528 that the emperor Charles V. could force him to accept the compromise of the treaty of Gorichen, by which he received Gelderland and Zutphen for life as fiefs of the Empire. In 1534 the duke, who was childless, attempted to transfer the reversion of Gelderland to France, but this project was violently resisted by the estates of the duchy, and Charles was compelled by them in 1538 to appoint as his successor William V. - the Rich - of Cleves (d. 1592). Charles died the same year, and William, with the aid of the French, succeeded in maintaining his position in Gelderland for several years. The Habsburg power was, however, in the end too great for him, and he was forced to cede the duchy to Charles V. by the treaty of Venloo, signed on the 7th of September 1543.
Gelderland was now definitely amalgamated with the Habsburg dominions in the Netherlands, until the revolt of the Low Countries led to its partition. In 1579 the northern and greater part, comprising the three "quarters" of Nijmwegen, Arnhem and Zutphen, joined the Union of Utrecht and became the province of Gelderland in the Dutch republic. Only the quarter of Roermonde remained subject to the crown of Spain, and was called Spanish Gelderland. By the treaty of Utrecht (1715) this was ceded to Prussia with the exception of Venloo, which fell to the United Provinces, and Roermonde, which, with the remaining Spanish Netherlands, passed to Austria. Of this, part was ceded to France at the peace of Basel in 1795, and the whole by the treaty of Lunéville in 1801, when it received the name of the department of the Roer. By the peace of Paris of 1814 the bulk of Gelderland was incorporated in the United Netherlands, the remainder falling to Prussia, where it forms the circle of Düsseldorf.
The rise of the towns in Gelderland began in the 13th century, river commerce and markets being the chief cause of their prosperity, but they never attained to the importance of the larger cities in Holland and Utrecht, much less to that of the great Flemish municipalities. They differed also from the Flemish cities in the nature of their privileges and immunities, as they did not possess the rights of communes, but only those of "free cities" of the Rhenish type. The power of the feudal lord over them was much greater. The states of Gelderland first became a considerable power in the land during the reign of Arnold of Egmont (1423-1473). Their claim to large privileges and a considerable share in the government of the county were formulated in a document drawn up at Nijmwegen in April 1436. These the duke had to concede, and to agree further to the appointment of a council to assist him in his administration. From this time the absolute authority of the sovereign in Gelderland was broken. The states consisted of two members - the nobility and the towns. The towns were divided into four separate districts or "quarters" named after the chief town in each - Nijmwegen, Arnhem, Zutphen and Roermonde. In the time of the republic, as has been stated above, the province of Gelderland comprised the three first-named "quarters" only. The three quarters had each of them peculiar rights and customs, and their representatives met together in a separate assembly before taking part in the diet (landdag) of the states. The nobility possessed great influence in Gelderland and retained it in the time of the republic.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)