Holland, former county, Holy Roman Empire; former province, the Netherlands

Holland, former county of the Holy Roman Empire and, from 1579 to 1795, chief member of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Its name is popularly applied to the entire Netherlands. Holland has been divided since 1840 into two provinces, North Holland and South Holland. The county was created in the early 10th cent. and originally controlled not only present North and South Holland, but also Zeeland and part of medieval Friesland. William II was elected (1247) German king, but was unable to exert his authority; he died (1255) in a campaign against the independence-minded West Frisians. In 1299, John of Avesnes, count of Hainaut, seized Holland, which came (1345) into the hands of the Bavarian house of Wittelsbach through marriage. The house of Wittelsbach retained possession of Holland until 1433, when Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, wrested it from Jacqueline (or Jacoba), countess of Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, and Friesland. In the civil strife that accompanied this event the party of the Kabeljauws [codfish], representing the cities, fought the Hoeks [fish hooks], the nobles who supported Jacqueline. The Hoeks again rebelled when Archduke Maximilian (later Emperor Maximilian I) assumed the guardianship over the Netherlands after the death (1482) of Mary of Burgundy; their fleet was annihilated and their leaders executed in 1490. The cloth industry and commerce of Holland, though they developed later than those of Flanders and Brabant, began to rival those of Bruges and Antwerp in the 15th cent. The ports of Holland were closely linked with the Hanseatic League and later became, after the Netherlands had gained independence, major entrepôts and shipbuilding centers. Holland led in the struggle (16th–17th cent.) for Dutch independence, and because it dominated the States-General, its history became virtually identical with that of the Netherlands.

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