Netherlands 1935 Part III

By | December 1, 2021

It was during the Norman invasions that the county or marquisate of Flanders was formed in the territories west of the Scheldt. The count of the county of Bruges (pagus flandrensis), Baudouin I, later called Popeye, found himself at the head of a group of counties in that region, where, as son-in-law of Charles the Bald, he had been entrusted to him since 862 the command of the military borders of the kingdom of France Occidentalis. His successors, Baudouin II (879-918) and Arnold I the Great (918-964), no longer ruled as agents of the royal power, but as territorial princes and extended their dominion south to beyond the Canche, incorporating in their marquisate especially the Artois. The authority which, as lay abbots or senior advocates, they assumed over the great abbeys, such as Saint-Bertin or Saint-Vaast d’Arras, constituted the complement of their power and a conspicuous source of income. Moreover, they theoretically recognized the authority of the King of France Occidentalis, to whom they were united by the bonds of vassalage.

In Lotharingia the situation was somewhat different: effective authority was exercised by an aristocracy of counts who held royal powers and large landowners. The kings, on whom the country nominally depended, enjoyed less credit than the leaders of this aristocracy, such as, at the beginning of the century. X, a Ranieri or his son Gisleberto, recognized as Duke of Lotharingia. Only after the king of the Germans, Otto I, had won Gislebert at Andernach (939), the Germanic authority was actually exercised in the duchy. Authority that remained, however, quite weak: in 953 the German duke of Lotharingia, Conrad the Red, rose up against Otto I and, irritated by his own failure, he himself led, through the country, a devastating invasion of Hungary (954). For Netherlands 2007, please check

The royal authority, which became imperial after the coronation of Otto I in Rome in 962, was firmly established in Lotharingia only by the work of the ecclesiastical supporters of the empire starting from 953, when the government of the duchy was entrusted to Brunone, archbishop of Cologne and Otto’s brother. Trustworthy and energetic men were appointed to the episcopal see of Cambrai, Liege and Utrecht, chosen by the king on the basis of their administrative and military skills as well as for their ecclesiastical virtues. Each episcopal see was given not only lands, but also royal rights (regalia) and, beginning with the reign of Otto III (983-1002), even public authority over entire counties. Thus the ecclesiastical principalities of Cambrai and above all of Liège and Utrecht were established which were up to the century. XII the advanced defenses of the imperial power in Lotharingia. At the head of these principalities there are notable personalities, as in Liège the learned Raterio who, expelled from the see of Verona, had that of Liège in 954; and Notgero (972-1008), a Swabian who worked more than any other to impose German authority on the country.

On the other hand, the bishops in favor of the emperor also exerted a profound civilizing influence, testified again by the numerous Romanesque ehiese of the Rhenish type preserved in the east of Belgium and in the east and center of the present Netherlands. The schools of Liège, favored by Notgero, earned the city the nickname of Athens of the North. And also in the ecclesiastical environment favorable to the empire, the factors of development of the minor arts that during the century XII produced in the Mosan country wonders in the field of goldsmithing and worked leather, with Ranieri de Huy, Godofredo de Claire, Nicola de Verdin. The Mosan artists were, moreover, in close relations with those of Cologne, a religious metropolis and great center, whose action was felt in Liège as well as in Utrecht.

Ultimately, however, the ecclesiastical supporters of the empire could not overcome the resistance of the indigenous aristocracy: the descendants of Gislebert, who were counts in Mons, Louvain, Namur; other dynasts that excelled in Looz, in Limburg, in Luxembourg; finally, in the marshy regions around Vlaardingen, between the mouths of the Meuse and the Vlie, the counts sometimes called “Vestfrisia”. All of them, resting on a line of castles, practiced, increasingly on their own behalf and in their own interest, the public powers they held in one or more counties, which they transformed into territorial principalities. So they were gradually formed in the century. XI the Hainaut, the Brabant, the counties of Namur, Looz, Limburg, Luxembourg and what then in the century. XII took the name of Holland (see these entries). Their leaders were constantly fighting against the imperial bishops: the Ranieri of Mons, the Lamberti of Louvain, the Alberti of Namur, against the bishops of Liège; the Thierry and the Florent of Vlaardingen against those of Utrecht. In the middle of the century, the loyalty of the house of Ardenne also ended, which had provided the emperor with some dukes of Lower Lotharingia (separated in 959 from Upper Lotharingia) of proven devotion: from 1044 to 1049 Goffredo the Bearded, son of the late Duke Goffredo I, led terrible uprisings of the Lotharingian aristocracy, during which the imperial palace of Nijmegen was burned.

Netherlands 1935 Part III