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The Low Countries, in Dutch De Nederlanden, are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany. The term is more appropriate to the era of the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe when strong centrally governed nations were slowly forming and territorial governance was in the hands of a noble or of a noble house.
Historically the region has its origins in Middle Francia, more precisely its northern part which became the Duchy of Lower Lotharingia. After the disintegration of Lower Lotharingia the Low Countries were brought under the rule of various stronger neighbours. Their possessions can be renamed into the Burgundian Netherlands and their succeeding Habsburg Netherlands, also called the United Seventeen Provinces (up to 1581), and later for the Southern parts as the Spanish Netherlands and Austrian Netherlands, whereas the northern parts formed the autonomous Dutch Republic. At times they reached a form of unity as the United Seventeen Provinces in the 16th Century, and later the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 19th Century.

Contents

Geo-political situation

The Low Countries as seen from space
History of the Low Countries
Austrasia Frisian kingdom
Carolingian Empire
ca 800–843
  Blason Nord-Pas-De-Calais.svg
Cty of Flanders
9th century – 1384
Lotharingia, then Lower Lorraine 855–954–977
Bishopric of Liège.png
Bishopric
of Liège

+
Coat of arms of Stavelot.png
Imperial Abbey of Stavelot- Malmedy
+
Gules a fess argent.svg
Duchy of Bouillon

10th century
– 1795
Other feudal states Luxembourg New Arms.svg
County of Luxembourg
963–1384
10th–14th centuries
Blason fr Bourgogne.svg
Burgundian Netherlands
Duchy of Luxembourg
1384–1443
1384–1482
 

Flag - Low Countries - XVth Century.png
Habsburg Netherlands
1482–1795
(Seventeen Provinces, Burgundian Circle)

Spanish (Southern) Netherlands
1549–1713
  Prinsenvlag.svg
Dutch Republic
1581–1795
Oostenrijkse Nederlanden Vlag.gif
Austrian Netherlands
1713–95
Liège Revolution
1789–92
Flag of the Brabantine Revolution.svg
United States
of Belgium
1790
   

Flag of France.svg
French Republic
1795–1804
Nl-batr.gif
Batavian Republic
1795–1806
French Empire
1804–15
Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Kingdom of Holland
1806–10
 
Flag of the Netherlands.svg
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
since 1815
   
Flag of Belgium.svg
Kingdom of Belgium
since 1830
Flag of Luxembourg.svg
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
since 1839
Netherlands

The term is not particularly current in modern contexts because the region does not exactly correspond to the sovereign states of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, for which an alternative term, Benelux was employed after the Second World War, but only to describe them as a trading union.

Before early modern nation building, the Low Countries referred to a wide area of northern Europe as a triangle roughly stretching from French Gravelines and Dunkirk at its southwestern point, to the area of Dutch Delfzijl and German Eastern Frisia at its northeastern point, and to Luxembourg and French Thionville in the southeast.

The Low Countries were the scene of the early northern towns, newbuilt rather than developed from ancient centres, that mark the reawakening of Europe in the 12th century. In that period, they became one of the most densely populated regions of Europe, together with northern Italy.

A collection of several regions rather than one homogeneous region, all the low countries still shared a great number of similarities.

  • Most were coastal regions bounded by the North Sea or the English Channel. The countries not having access to the sea linked themselves politically and economically to those that had access, so as to form one union of port and hinterland. A poetic description also calls the region the Low Countries by the Sea
  • Most spoke Middle Dutch out of which later would evolve Dutch. However some regions, such as the Bishopric of Liège, the Romance Flanders (around Cambrai, Lille, Tournai), the French-speaking part of Brabant around Nivelles and, Namur, where French or Walloon was the dominant language are often considered as part of the Low Countries as well.
  • Most of them depended on a lord or count in name only, the cities effectively being ruled by guilds and councils and although in theory part of a kingdom, their interaction with their rulers was regulated by a strict set of liberties describing what the latter could and could not expect from them.
  • All of them depended on trade and manufacturing and the encouragement of the free flow of goods and craftsmen.

Historical situation

The low countries were part of the Roman provinces of Belgica, Germania Inferior and Germania Superior. They were inhabited by Belgic tribes, before these were replaced by Germanic tribes in the 4th and 5th century. They were governed by the ruling Merovingian dynasty.

By the end of the 8th century, the Low Countries formed a part of Francia and the Merovingians were replaced by the Carolingian dynasty. In 800 the Pope crowned and appointed Charlemagne Emperor of the re-established Roman Empire.

After the death of Charlemagne, Francia was divided in three parts among his three grandsons. The Low Countries became part of Middle Francia, which was ruled by Lothair I. After the death of Lothair, the Low Countries were coveted by the rulers of both West Francia and East Francia. Each tried to swallow the region and to merge it with their spheres of influence.

Thus, the Low Countries consisted of fiefs whose sovereignty resided with either the Kingdom of France or the Holy Roman Empire. The further history of the Low Countries can be seen as a continual struggle between these two powers.

Gradually, separate fiefs came to be ruled by a single family through intermarriage. This process culminated in the rule of the House of Valois, who were the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy

In 1477 the Burgundian holdings in the area, the Burgundian Netherlands passed through an heiress -- Mary of Burgundy -- to the Habsburgs. In the following century the "Low Countries" corresponded roughly to the Seventeen Provinces covered by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, which freed the provinces from their archaic feudal obligations.

After the northern Seven United Provinces of the seventeen declared their independence from Habsburg Spain, the provinces of the Southern Netherlands were recaptured (1581) and are sometimes called the Spanish Netherlands.

In 1713, under the Treaty of Utrecht 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. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-1830) temporarily united the Low Countries again.

Linguistic distinction

In English, the plural form Netherlands is used for the present-day country, but in Dutch that plural has been dropped; one can thus distinguish between the older, larger Netherlands and the current country. So Nederland (singular) is used for the modern nation and de Nederlanden (plural) for the domains of Charles V. However: the official name of the Dutch kingdom is still Kingdom of the Netherlands (Koninkrijk der Nederlanden), in official use, the plural has not been dropped. The name Kingdom of the Netherlands also refers to the united kingdom of 1815 - 1830/39, which included present-day Belgium.

See also

Bibliography

  • Paul Arblaster. A History of the Low Countries. Palgrave Essential Histories Series New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. 298 pp. ISBN 1-4039-4828-3.
  • J. C. H. Blom and E. Lamberts, eds. History of the Low Countries (1999)
  • B. A. Cook. Belgium: A History (2002)
  • Jonathan Israel. The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806 (1995)
  • J. A. Kossmann-Putto and E. H. Kossmann. The Low Countries: History of the Northern and Southern Netherlands (1987)
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The Low Countries, in Dutch De Lage Landen, are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany. The term is more appropriate to the era of the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe when strong centrally governed nations were slowly forming and territorial governance was in the hands of a noble or of a noble house.

Historically the region has its origins in Middle Francia, more precisely its northern part which became the Duchy of Lower Lotharingia. After the disintegration of Lower Lotharingia the Low Countries were brought under the rule of various stronger neighbours. Their possessions can be renamed into the Burgundian Netherlands and their succeeding Habsburg Netherlands, also called the United Seventeen Provinces (up to 1581), and later for the Southern parts as the Spanish Netherlands and Austrian Netherlands, whereas the northern parts formed the autonomous Dutch Republic. At times they reached a form of unity as the United Seventeen Provinces in the 16th Century, and later the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 19th Century.

Contents

Geo-political situation

[[File:|300px|thumb|The Low Countries as seen from space]]
History of the Low Countries
Austrasia Frisian kingdom
Carolingian Empire
ca 800–843
 
Cty of Flanders
9th century – 1384
Lotharingia, then Lower Lorraine 855–954–977
File:Bishopric of Liè
Bishopric
of Liège
+

Imperial Abbey of Stavelot- Malmedy
+

Duchy of Bouillon

10th century
– 1795
Other feudal states
County of Luxembourg
963–1384
10th–14th centuries

Burgundian Netherlands
Duchy of Luxembourg
1384–1443
1384–1482
 


Habsburg Netherlands
1482–1795
(Seventeen Provinces, Burgundian Circle)

Spanish (Southern) Netherlands
1549–1713
 
Dutch Republic
1581–1795

Austrian Netherlands
1713–95
Liège Revolution
1789–92

United States
of Belgium
1790
   


French Republic
1795–1804
File:Nl-batr.gif
Batavian Republic
1795–1806
French Empire
1804–15

Kingdom of Holland
1806–10
 

United Kingdom of the Netherlands
since 1815
   

Kingdom of Belgium
since 1830

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
since 1839
Netherlands

The term is not particularly current in modern contexts because the region does not exactly correspond to the sovereign states of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, for which an alternative term, Benelux, was employed after the Second World War, but only to describe them as a trading union.

Before early modern nation building, the Low Countries referred to a wide area of northern Europe as a triangle roughly stretching from French Gravelines and Dunkirk at its southwestern point, to the area of Dutch Delfzijl and German Eastern Frisia at its northeastern point, and to Luxembourg and French Thionville in the southeast.

The Low Countries were the scene of the early northern towns, newbuilt rather than developed from ancient centres, that mark the reawakening of Europe in the 12th century. In that period, they became one of the most densely populated regions of Europe, together with northern Italy.

A collection of several regions rather than one homogeneous region, all the low countries still shared a great number of similarities.

  • Most were coastal regions bounded by the North Sea or the English Channel. The countries not having access to the sea linked themselves politically and economically to those that had access, so as to form one union of port and hinterland. A poetic description also calls the region the Low Countries by the Sea
  • Most spoke Middle Dutch out of which later would evolve Dutch. However some regions, such as the Bishopric of Liège, the Romance Flanders (around Cambrai, Lille, Tournai), the French-speaking part of Brabant around Nivelles and, Namur, where French or Walloon was the dominant language are often considered as part of the Low Countries as well.
  • Most of them depended on a lord or count in name only, the cities effectively being ruled by guilds and councils and although in theory part of a kingdom, their interaction with their rulers was regulated by a strict set of liberties describing what the latter could and could not expect from them.
  • All of them depended on trade and manufacturing and the encouragement of the free flow of goods and craftsmen.

Historical situation

The low countries were part of the Roman provinces of Belgica, Germania Inferior and Germania Superior. They were inhabited by Belgic tribes, before these were replaced by Germanic tribes in the 4th and 5th century. They were governed by the ruling Merovingian dynasty.

By the end of the 8th century, the Low Countries formed a part of Francia and the Merovingians were replaced by the Carolingian dynasty. In 800 the Pope crowned and appointed Charlemagne Emperor of the re-established Roman Empire.

After the death of Charlemagne, Francia was divided in three parts among his three grandsons. The Low Countries became part of Middle Francia, which was ruled by Lothair I. After the death of Lothair, the Low Countries were coveted by the rulers of both West Francia and East Francia. Each tried to swallow the region and to merge it with their spheres of influence.

Thus, the Low Countries consisted of fiefs whose sovereignty resided with either the Kingdom of France or the Holy Roman Empire. The further history of the Low Countries can be seen as a continual struggle between these two powers.

Gradually, separate fiefs came to be ruled by a single family through intermarriage. This process culminated in the rule of the House of Valois, who were the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy

In 1477 the Burgundian holdings in the area, the Burgundian Netherlands passed through an heiress -- Mary of Burgundy -- to the Habsburgs. In the following century the "Low Countries" corresponded roughly to the Seventeen Provinces covered by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, which freed the provinces from their archaic feudal obligations.

After the northern Seven United Provinces of the seventeen declared their independence from Habsburg Spain, the provinces of the Southern Netherlands were recaptured (1581) and are sometimes called the Spanish Netherlands.

In 1713, under the Treaty of Utrecht 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. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-1830) temporarily united the Low Countries again.

Linguistic distinction

In English, the plural form Netherlands is used for the present-day country, but in Dutch that plural has been dropped; one can thus distinguish between the older, larger Netherlands and the current country. So Nederland (singular) is used for the modern nation and de Nederlanden (plural) for the domains of Charles V. However: the official name of the Dutch kingdom is still Kingdom of the Netherlands (Koninkrijk der Nederlanden), in official use, the plural has not been dropped. The name Kingdom of the Netherlands also refers to the united kingdom of 1815 - 1830/39, which included present-day Belgium.

See also

Bibliography

  • Paul Arblaster. A History of the Low Countries. Palgrave Essential Histories Series New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. 298 pp. ISBN 1-4039-4828-3.
  • J. C. H. Blom and E. Lamberts, eds. History of the Low Countries (1999)
  • B. A. Cook. Belgium: A History (2002)
  • Jonathan Israel. The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806 (1995)
  • J. A. Kossmann-Putto and E. H. Kossmann. The Low Countries: History of the Northern and Southern Netherlands (1987)

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Benelux article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : Benelux
Contents

Benelux is an economic union comprising three neighbouring monarchies, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The name is formed from the beginning of each country's name. It is a precursor of the European (Economic) Union and as such, borders here have been 'open' for many more years than in the rest of the EU.

The Benelux countries
The Benelux countries
Netherlands
Belgium
Luxembourg
  • Amsterdam — traveller magnet due to its impressive architecture, lovely canals (grachten), museums and liberal attitudes
  • Antwerp — a giant cathedral, medieval streets and artistic heritage
  • Brussels — unofficial capital of the EU with a nice historic centre and several museums
  • Bruges — one of Europe's wealthiest cities in the 14th century, it's large and beautiful historic centre remains
  • Liège — largest city of Wallonia, along a wide river, industrial cityscape with hiking and resorts in the nearby hills
  • Luxembourg (city) — capital of Luxembourg, its spectacular valleys and plateaus led it to be nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the North"
  • Rotterdam — modern architecture, good nightlife and the largest port of Europe
  • The Hague — seat of government, royal family, judicial capital of the world and Madurodam
  • Utrecht — historic center, nice antique stores and the Rietveld-Schröder House
  • Ardennes — the most sparsely populated in Benelux, this is a hilly countryside region covered with forests
  • Binche — for three days in February, the town is transported back to the 16th century for one of the most fantastic carnival festivals
  • Hoge Veluwe National Park — largest national park with heathlands, sand dunes and woodlands
  • Keukenhof — millions of tourists visit these enormous flower fields each Spring
  • Kinderdijk — these windmills show the typical Dutch landscape in all its glory
  • Pajottenland — an area of green fields and small villages, some of which have been portrayed by artists such as Pieter Bruegel
  • Schokland — old island evacuated in 1859, a well-preserved ghost village remains
  • Vianden — quaint small town presided over by a rather splendid château
  • Waterloo Battlefield — the Waterloo Battlefield where Napoleon lost the final battle that changed Europe's face forever

Understand

Luxembourg and the East of Belgium is a hilly area, but the rest of the area is what is known as the the Low Countries; this is the delta of the rivers Scheldt, Meuse, Rhine and Ems. Originally swamp land, enterprising fishermen discovered a flair for trade when trading routes started to emerge between the grain markets of the Baltic Sea and the renaissance-bitten luxury goods markets of northern Italy. Here is where stocks were invented.

This attention to trade made Bruges one of the largest cities in Europe in its day, and the mediaeval town is still well preserved. When the secession war with Spain progressed, French and Flemish alike fled to Amsterdam, which became the new world capital of trade, which is still witnessed in the many 'Houses of the Lords' lining the famous canals.

Talk

Dutch (or Flemish) is the main language in the Netherlands and in the north of Belgium (Flanders) and is also spoken in bilingual Brussels. French is the main language in Brussels and in the south of Belgium (Wallonia). On the east side of Belgium there are a few German speaking communities. Luxembourg has three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German. Many, especially in the Netherlands, speak English. Frisian is spoken in Friesland (Netherlands).

See

Much of the swamp land in the Low Countries has been reclaimed, resulting in some of the largest water works in the world, and in other attractions such as the wind mills of the Kinderdijk in Zuid-Holland (South-Holland). Much has not been reclaimed, resulting in interesting biotopes, such as the 'Zwin' on the coast of Belgium and the area around the 'Waddenzee' in the North of the Netherlands.

  • Try Moules et frites - Belgium's answer to fish and chips.
  • Try speculaas, the famous Dutch cookies.
  • Belgian chocolate is some of the best on the planet.
  • Eat the Dutch almond fingers, rich with sugar and marzipan.
  • Try the famous Belgian brewed beers!
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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Wikipedia-logo.png
Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia

Proper noun

Singular
Low Countries

Plural
-

Low Countries (plural only; not used in singular form)

  1. The countries on low-lying land around the delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse (Maas) rivers.

Usage notes

  • The term is rare in modern usage because the region does accurately correspond with the sovereign states of The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, for which an alternate term, the Benelux was applied after World War II.

Translations

See also


Simple English

The Low Countries is a term used ot refer to a geographical region, especially during the Middle Ages. This region is around the deltas of the Rhine, the Scheldt and the Meuse (Maas). Today, there are Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and parts of Lower-Saxony (in Germany) that are in the region. Sometimes, the French Netherlands (Nord-Pas-de-Calais) are included as well.

The modern Country the Netherlands has its name from there. The region was usually referred to as de Nederlanden.


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