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How was The Netherlands a part of the Spanish Empire?

15 Nov 2018

How was The Netherlands a part of the Spanish Empire?

Hello everyone! Did you know that in the past, The Netherlands was a part of the Spanish Empire? Most people have no idea that this was the case, as it seems highly unlikely that a European country that had such a rich and lucrative past was once part of another, a much bigger country situated at the other end of Europe. I have looked into it and I hope to teach you something, with this blog, about how The Netherlands was part of the Spanish Empire.

A family that played a large role in this story was The Habsburg family. The Habsburg family was a very big family. Somehow, they managed to marry their way into the world’s largest empire with remarkably more love than war. The Habsburg family ruled Spain from 1504 until 1700, so that was quite some time!  If you want to know more about this family, you'll read all about them here.

One of the most famous members of The Habsburg family was Philip of Habsburg, who was also called “Philip the Handsome”. Philip was born in Belgium, which is a country next to The Netherlands right now, but in the past Belgium was actually a part of The Netherlands. So here you can see the first connection of the Spanish Empire with The Netherlands.
Philip was married to a young Spanish princess, named Joanna of Castile, also known as Joanna “the Mad”. She was the second daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. To be exact, Joanna was the daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castilië, who were married in 1469. Marrying Joanna, Philip got his free ticket into Spain.
Joanna had an older brother and a sister, but unfortunately, they died very young, leaving Joanna as the first in line to the throne and upon her parents' death, she became queen and her husband king as Philip the first of Castile by virtue of his marriage to her.
Joanna soon gave birth to a son, which they named Charles. When Charles became older, and when he became the king of Spain, Charles united Spain and the other Habsburg territories. Charles was both king of Spain (as Carlos I) and Holy Roman Emperor (as Charles V).
Charles inherited many parts of Europe from his big family, which made him the most powerful man in Europa for a period of 40 years. When he abdicated in 1556, he gave the title of Emperor and the lands in the east to his younger brother Ferdinand, while passing Spain and The Netherlands to his son, Philip II.

The Global Empire of Charles V


The Duke of Alba

The first Duke of Alba was Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel. You may know him from the "statue storm" in The Netherlands. He was sent to The Netherlands in 1566 by Phillip II with an army of 10.000 people, ordered to fix the mess that was The Netherlands at that time. The presence of the first Duke of Alba, led to the so-called "Beeldenstorm". The Duke of Alba went to The Netherlands with three assingments: setting up new dioceses, the implementation of the decisions of the Council of Trent and the punishment of the Statue Breakers.

What is the connection with Sevilla?

The fist Duke of Alba, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, used to live in Palacio de las Dueñas in Sevilla.
The current Duke of Alba, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart y Martínez de Irujo, 19th Duke of Alba, still lives in Sevilla, in the palace!

How did The Netherlands break free of the Spanish rule?

It was the document of Verlatinghe, a detailed text, which broke The Netherlands free of the Spanish rule. In this document it was declared by the Spanish king, Philip II who ruled The Netherlands at that time, that the Netherlands were going to be a monarch. But, it still took until 1648 till The Netherlands was actually recognized by Spain. 1648 Was the year The Netherlands were an independent country without any Spanish rule anymore.