Place in the broader Netherlands
A map of the dominion of the
Battle of Mühlberg
(1547) as depicted in The Cambridge Modern History Atlas
(1912); Habsburg lands are shaded green. From 1556 the dynasty's lands in the
, the east of France, Italy, Sardinia, and Sicily were retained by the Spanish Habsburgs.
Silver florin of
Emperor Charles V
with the coat of arms of the House of Burgundy (Low Countries, etc.) c. 1553.
As they were very wealthy, the Netherlands in general were an important territory of the
Habsburg crown which also ruled Spain and Austria among other places. But unlike the other Habsburg dominions, they were led by a merchant class. It was the merchant economy which made them wealthy, and the Habsburg attempts at increasing taxation to finance their wars
[b] was a major factor in their defence of their privileges. This, together with resistance to penal laws enforced by the Habsburg monarchy that made heresy a
capital crime, led to a general rebellion of the Netherlands against Habsburg rule in the 1570s. Although the northern seven provinces, led by
Zeeland, established their independence as the
United Provinces after 1581, the ten southern Netherlands were reconquered by the Spanish general
Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma. Liège, Stavelot-Malmédy and Bouillon maintained their independence.
The Habsburg Netherlands, passed to the Austrian Habsburgs after the
War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. Under Austrian rule, the ten provinces' defence of their privileges proved as troublesome to the reforming Emperor
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor as it had to his ancestor
Philip II two centuries before, leading to a major rebellion in 1789–1790. The Austrian Netherlands were ultimately lost to the
French Revolutionary armies, and annexed to France in 1794. Following the war, Austria's loss of the territories was confirmed, and they were joined with the northern Netherlands as a single kingdom under the
House of Orange at the 1815
Congress of Vienna. The southeastern third of Luxembourg Province was made into the autonomous Grand Duchy of
Luxembourg, because it was claimed by both the Netherlands and Prussia.
In 1830 the predominantly Roman Catholic southern half became independent as the
Kingdom of Belgium (the northern half being predominantly
Calvinist). In 1839 the final border between the
kingdom of the Netherlands and Belgium was determined and the eastern part of Limburg returned to the Netherlands as the
province of Limburg. The autonomy of Luxembourg was recognised in 1839, but an instrument to that effect was not signed until 1867. The King of the Netherlands was Grand Duke of Luxembourg until 1890, when
William III was succeeded by his daughter,
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands – but Luxembourg still followed the
Salic law at the time, which forbade a woman to rule in her own right, so the union of the Dutch and Luxembourger crowns then ended. The northwestern two-thirds of the original Luxembourg remains a province of Belgium.