Union of Utrecht

Union of Utrecht

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The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht
Utrecht (city)
Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 312,634 on 1 Jan 2011.Utrecht's ancient city centre features...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

.

The Union of Utrecht is regarded as the foundation of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

, which was not recognized by the Spanish Empire until the Twelve Years' Truce
Twelve Years' Truce
The Twelve Years' Truce was the name given to the cessation of hostilities between the Habsburg rulers of Spain and the Southern Netherlands and the Dutch Republic as agreed in Antwerp on 9 April 1609. It was a watershed in the Eighty Years' War, marking the point from which the independence of the...

 in 1609.

The treaty was signed on 23 January by Holland
County of Holland
The County of Holland was a county in the Holy Roman Empire and from 1482 part of the Habsburg Netherlands in what is now the Netherlands. It covered an area roughly corresponding to the current Dutch provinces of North-Holland and South-Holland, as well as the islands of Terschelling, Vlieland,...

, Zeeland
County of Zeeland
The County of Zeeland was a county of the Holy Roman Empire in what is now the Netherlands. It covered an area in the Scheldt and Meuse delta roughly corresponding to the current Dutch province of Zeeland, though it did not include the region of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen which was part of...

, Utrecht
Utrecht (province)
Utrecht is the smallest province of the Netherlands in terms of area, and is located in the centre of the country. It is bordered by the Eemmeer in the north, Gelderland in the east, the river Rhine in the south, South Holland in the west, and North Holland in the northwest...

 (but not all of Utrecht) and the province (but not the city) of Groningen
Ommelanden
The Ommelanden are the parts of Groningen province that surround Groningen city. Usually mentioned as synonym for the province in the expression Stad en Ommeland ....

. The treaty was a reaction of the Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 provinces to the 1579 Union of Arras (Dutch: Unie van Atrecht), in which the southern provinces declared their support for Roman Catholic Spain.

On February 4 Ghent
Ghent
Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the East Flanders province. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of...

 also signed. In March some cities from Friesland
Friesland
Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the ancient region of Frisia.Until the end of 1996, the province bore Friesland as its official name. In 1997 this Dutch name lost its official status to the Frisian Fryslân...

 joined it, as well as 3 of the 4 quarters of Guelders
Guelders
Guelders or Gueldres is the name of a historical county, later duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the Low Countries.-Geography:...

. In the summer, Amersfoort
Amersfoort
Amersfoort is a municipality and the second largest city of the province of Utrecht in central Netherlands. The city is growing quickly but has a well-preserved and protected medieval centre. Amersfoort is one of the largest railway junctions in the country, because of its location on two of the...

 from the province of Utrecht also joined, together with Ypres
Ypres
Ypres is a Belgian municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Ypres and the villages of Boezinge, Brielen, Dikkebus, Elverdinge, Hollebeke, Sint-Jan, Vlamertinge, Voormezele, Zillebeke, and Zuidschote...

, Antwerp, Breda and Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

. In February 1580, Lier
Lier, Belgium
Lier is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Antwerp. The municipality comprises the city of Lier proper and the village of Koningshooikt. On January 1, 2010 Lier had a total population of 33,930. The total area is 49.70 km² which gives a population density of 669 inhabitants per...

, Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

 and the surrounding area also signed the Union. The city of Groningen shifted in favor under influence of the stadtholder
Stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

 for Friesland, George van Rennenberg
George van Rennenberg
George de Lalaing count Rennenberg , was stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel in the service of Philip II of Spain from 1577 to 1581. The Lalaing family came from Hainaut and had a tradition of governing...

, and also signed the treaty. Later on, Zutphen also signed so Guelders
Guelders
Guelders or Gueldres is the name of a historical county, later duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the Low Countries.-Geography:...

 (of which Zutphen is one of the quarters) supported the Union completely. This happened in April 1580, as did the signing of Overijssel
Overijssel
Overijssel is a province of the Netherlands in the central eastern part of the country. The region has a NUTS classification of NL21. The province's name means "Lands across river IJssel". The capital city of Overijssel is Zwolle and the largest city is Enschede...

 and Drenthe
Drenthe
Drenthe is a province of the Netherlands, located in the north-east of the country. The capital city is Assen. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and Germany to the east.-History:Drenthe, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands, has been a...

.

This leads to a general and simplified overview of the parts that joined:
  • the County of Holland
    County of Holland
    The County of Holland was a county in the Holy Roman Empire and from 1482 part of the Habsburg Netherlands in what is now the Netherlands. It covered an area roughly corresponding to the current Dutch provinces of North-Holland and South-Holland, as well as the islands of Terschelling, Vlieland,...

  • the County of Zeeland
    County of Zeeland
    The County of Zeeland was a county of the Holy Roman Empire in what is now the Netherlands. It covered an area in the Scheldt and Meuse delta roughly corresponding to the current Dutch province of Zeeland, though it did not include the region of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen which was part of...

  • the Bishopric of Utrecht
  • the Duchy of Guelders
    Guelders
    Guelders or Gueldres is the name of a historical county, later duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the Low Countries.-Geography:...

  • the lordship of Groningen
    Groningen (province)
    Groningen [] is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. In the east it borders the German state of Niedersachsen , in the south Drenthe, in the west Friesland and in the north the Wadden Sea...

  • the lordship of Friesland
    Friesland
    Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the ancient region of Frisia.Until the end of 1996, the province bore Friesland as its official name. In 1997 this Dutch name lost its official status to the Frisian Fryslân...

  • Drenthe
    Drenthe
    Drenthe is a province of the Netherlands, located in the north-east of the country. The capital city is Assen. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and Germany to the east.-History:Drenthe, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands, has been a...

  • the lordship of Overijssel
    Overijssel
    Overijssel is a province of the Netherlands in the central eastern part of the country. The region has a NUTS classification of NL21. The province's name means "Lands across river IJssel". The capital city of Overijssel is Zwolle and the largest city is Enschede...

  • the Duchy of Brabant
    Duchy of Brabant
    The Duchy of Brabant was a historical region in the Low Countries. Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.The Flag of...

  • the County of Flanders
    County of Flanders
    The County of Flanders was one of the territories constituting the Low Countries. The county existed from 862 to 1795. It was one of the original secular fiefs of France and for centuries was one of the most affluent regions in Europe....

  • the cities of Tournai
    Tournai
    Tournai is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut....

     and Valenciennes
    Valenciennes
    Valenciennes is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.It lies on the Scheldt river. Although the city and region had seen a steady decline between 1975 and 1990, it has since rebounded...



Flanders was almost entirely conquered by the Spanish troops, as was half of Brabant. The United Provinces still recognized Spanish rule after the Union of Utrecht. However, the Union contributed to the deterioration in the relationship between the provinces and their lord, and in 1581 the United Provinces declared their independence of the king in the Act of Abjuration.