Guelders: Wikis


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Hertogdom Gelre (nl)
Duchy of Guelders
State of the Holy Roman Empire
Blason ville fr Avanne-Aveney (Doubs).svg

Coat of arms

The Duchy of Guelders around 1350
Capital Geldern
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages, Renaissance
 - Established  ?
 - Disestablished 1543
Original coat of arms of the county and duchy of Guelders
This article deals with the historical county and duchy of Guelders, for other meanings see Gelderland.

Guelders or Gueldres (Dutch: Gelre, German: Geldern) is the name of a historical county, later duchy, in the Low Countries.

The duchy was named after the town of Geldern (Dutch: Gelre), which is now in Germany. Though the present province of Gelderland (English also Guelders) in the Netherlands occupies most of the area of the former duchy, the county and duchy of Guelders consisted not only of parts of the actual Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Limburg but also part of the present-day German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Nevertheless, linguistically and culturally Guelders was Dutch, the parts currently in Germany being germanized when Prussia acquired the easternmost region in 1713.



Historical map of the county and duchy of Guelders (1477)

The duchy originated in the area of Geldern and Roermond, with its main stronghold at Montfort (built 1260).

In the 12th and 13th century, Guelders quickly expanded downstream along the sides of the Maas, Rhine, and IJssel rivers, until it lost the Battle of Worringen (1288).

Four parts of the duchy deserve some special attention, because they had their own centres, as they were separated by rivers:

  • the quarter of Roermond, also called the Overkwartier (Upper Quarter) - upstream on the Maas,
  • the quarter of Zutphen, also called the Achterhoek - east of the IJssel and north to the Rhine,
  • the quarter of Arnhem, also called the Veluwe - west of the IJssel and north to the Rhine,
  • the quarter of Nijmegen, also called the Betuwe - south of the Rhine and north to the Maas (in between the rivers),

It was often at war with its neighbours, such as the duchy of Brabant, the county of Holland and the Bishopric of Utrecht. However, the territory did not only grow because of its success in warfare, but it also thrived in times of peace. The biggest part of the Veluwe and the city of Nijmegen for example were given as a collateral to Guelders. On separate occasions the bishop of Utrecht gave the Veluwe and William II, who was count of both Holland and Zeeland and who was elected king of the holy Roman Empire (1248-1256), gave Nijmegen in use to Guelders in return of a loan. However neither of them were able to repay their debts, so these lands became integral parts of Guelders.

The last great duke of Guelders was Charles (1467-1538), who expanded his realm further north, to incorporate what is now the Province of Overijssel. He was not just a man of war but also a skilled diplomat and was therefore able to keep his independence. After his death however his nephew who succeeded him was not able to hold on to it and emperor Charles V soon moved in. Guelders finally lost its independence in 1543.

When the northern Netherlands revolted against Philip II of Spain in the Dutch Revolt (1568-1648), the three northern quarters became part of the United Provinces, while the Upper Quarter remained a part of the Spanish Southern Netherlands.

At the Treaty of Utrecht, ending the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, the Spanish Upper Quarter was divided between Prussian Guelders (a.o. Geldern, Viersen, Horst, Venray), the United Provinces (a.o. Venlo, Montfort, Echt), Austria (a.o. Roermond, Niederkrüchten, Weert) and the duchy of Jülich (Erkelenz).

Coat of arms of Guelders

The coat of arms of the region evolved during the ages.

Guelders in popular culture

William Thatcher, the lead character in the 2001 film A Knight's Tale played by Heath Ledger claimed to be Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein from Gelderland so as to appear to be of noble birth and thus qualify to participate in jousting.

See also

External links


Simple English

Guelders is a province in the east of the Netherlands. In Dutch it is called Gelderland. The capital city is Arnhem, but Nijmegen and Apeldoorn are bigger. Other important cities are Zutphen, Doetinchem, Harderwijk and Tiel.

It is surrounded by the provinces of Limburg, North Brabant, South Holland, Utrecht, Flevoland and Overijssel and the German federal state North Rhine-Westphalia.

The most important rivers are the Rhine (Rijn), the Waal, the IJssel and the Maas (border with North Brabant). The border with Flevoland is formed by the so-called randmeer ("border lake") of the Flevopolder.


In the 11th century, Guelders was a county. It was called Gelre in Dutch and Geldern in German. In 1339, it became a duchy. At first, it existed of the surroundings of the city of Geldern (now in Germany). By the end of the 14th century, it included most of the modern province of Gelderland and parts of the province of Limburg and of the German District of Cleves. It became part of the Habsburg Netherlands in 1543, one of the Seventeen Provinces.


At this moment (2005), these are the municipalities in Gelderland:

Aalten | Apeldoorn | Arnhem | Barneveld | Berkelland | Beuningen | Bronckhorst | Brummen | Buren | Culemborg | Doesburg | Doetinchem | Druten | Duiven | Ede | Elburg | Epe | Ermelo | Geldermalsen | Groenlo | Groesbeek | Harderwijk | Hattem | Heerde | Heumen | Lingewaal | Lingewaard | Lochem | Maasdriel | Millingen aan de Rijn | Montferland | Neder-Betuwe | Neerijnen | Nijkerk | Nijmegen | Nunspeet | Oldebroek | Oude IJsselstreek | Overbetuwe | Putten | Renkum | Rheden | Rijnwaarden | Rozendaal | Scherpenzeel | Tiel | Ubbergen | Voorst | Wageningen | West Maas en Waal | Westervoort | Wijchen | Winterswijk | Zaltbommel | Zevenaar | Zutphen

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