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- Delft in Holland
1246: Growth of City Rights
Over the course of the 1200's Delft, along with other nearby cities like Haarlem, Leiden, and Dordrecht, got the rights to various activities that gradually increased its independence and self-sufficiency. Why?
Partly because the citizens, especially the merchants, wanted them and were willing to pay for them. And partly because the land's faraway rulers of the Holy Roman Empire in the 13th and 14th centuries did not see any strategic or dynastic or even economic reason to pay much attention to the few thousand people willing to live in a soggy river delta on the North Sea. The Burgundian and Habsburg emperors delegated responsibility to the Count of Holland -- as well as to the other counties that became the Seven United Netherlands.
Delft's city government slowly took shape over two hundred years. On April 15, 1246, Count Willem II granted basic rights of self-government to the approximately 1,400 people living in Delft, marking the official beginning of the city. Willem's decree (right; click to enlarge) established City Hall (Stadhuis) and the offices of sheriff (schout) and magistrate (schepen). While the early records are incomplete due to the 1536 fire, Boitet's Beschrijving lists only one sheriff at a time, and a dozen or more magistrates. The sheriff was the main contact with the counts and dukes. The magistrates performed all of the administrative and judicial duties.
On December 20, 1417, Jacoba, countess of Holland, issued a charter (privilegie) specifying four mayors (burgemeesters) and seven magistrates (schepenen). The mayors gradually took the administrative duties, and the magistrates retained the judicial duties.
On September 7, 1445, Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, issued a charter for Delft's city fathers (vroedschap) to appoint the first city council with forty members. The Council of Forty (Veertigraad) gradually ceded city management to the mayors and pensionary.
On four separate occasions over the course of the century between 1246 and 1355, the counts of Holland expanded the amount of land over which Delft had jurisdiction. The map shows the progress.
- 1246: Willem II
- 1268: Floris V
- 1347: Margaretha van Beieren
- 1355: Willem V van Beieren
Counts and Countesses of Holland
The names and numbers here are how the Dutch refer to them. In other lands where they ruled, they had different numbers. For example, Willem IV of Holland was Willem III in Zeeland and Willem II in Hainaut, which is how he is known in most history books.
For all of them, their reign began in the year their predecessor died in the row above.
|House of Holland||born||died||highlights of granted rights|
|Willem II||William||1228||1256||jurisdiction, 1246 ; sheriff and magistrates|
|Floris V||Floris V||1254||1296||expansion of city, 1268; tax income|
|Jan I||John I||1284||1299|
|House of Avesnes|
|Jan II||John II||1247||1304|
|Willem III||William I, Count of Hainaut||1286||1337||secular courts|
|Willem IV||William II, Count of Hainaut||1307||1345||commercial affairs|
|Margaretha van Beieren||Margaret I||1311||1354||expansion of city, 1347|
|House of Wittelsbach|
|Willem V van Beieren||William I, Duke of Bavaria||1330||1389||expansion of city, 1355|
|Albrecht van Beieren||Albert I, Duke of Bavaria||1336||1404||withdrew and then regranted rights to walls and gates|
|Willem VI||William II, Duke of Bavaria||1365||1417|
|Jacoba||Jacqueline||1401||1433||mayors (burgemeesters) and magistrates (schepenen)|
|House of Valois|
|Filips de Goede||Philip the Good||1396||1467||market square; Veertigraad; walls and towers|
|Karel de Stoute||Charles the Bold||1433||1477|
|Maria van Bourgondie||Mary the Rich||1457||1482|
|House of Habsburg|
|Maximilian||husband of Mary, regent for son 1482-1494 and grandson 1506-1515|
|Filips de Schone||Philip the Handsome||1478||1506|
|Karel V||Charles II||1500||1555|
|Filips II||Philip II of Spain||1527||1581||reign ended when the Dutch Republic declared independence|
During the dispute between the Hooks and Cods, Jacoba, a Hook, shared competing jurisdiction over Delft with Jan van Beieren, her uncle, John of Bavaria, a Cod and brother of Willem VI. Jan van Brabant 1403-1418-1427, her cousin and husband, was responsible for extending Delft's city rights to Delfhaven and along the Schie.
The events listed below, highlighted above, come from the collection of documents called privileges or charters that are in the Delft city archives. They concern a variety of legal matters:
- governance rights, especially adminstrative and judicial autonomy
- physical expansion of the city, its infrastructure of waterways and fortifications, so that the city's ruling merchants could defend themselves
- taxation rights that funded the city's administration, physical expansion, and defense
- freedom from the tolls on nearby waterways so necessary for Delft's merchants to import and export
- confirm by new rulers of the rights and privileges granted by predecessors