Who am I?
- Mar 29, 2004
Chronicles of the Lowlands
A motte and bailey castle much like the one at Flaerdinghe and Rijnsburgh
IntroductionUntil the late eleventh century, the county of Holland didn’t exist. The coastal lowlands and swamps between Flandres and Bremen were generally known as Frisia or Friesland. The people were called Frisians, and they formed a stubborn and strong German tribe that had resisted the Romans, Franks and Christianity altogether. Only a few feudal lords had managed to govern significant areas of land, although most of Frisia would remain autonomous, nearly anarchistic, (ruled by farmers rather than lords) until the late middle ages. One of the lordships that managed to maintain itself in these wetlands was the county of Holland. It was originally just named Frisia (not to be confused with the other Frisia in the game), but it would change it’s name into Holland around 1076. Before that time, Holland, or Holt-land (lit. woodland) was the name of the area around the mount of the Rhine River, near modern-day Leiden. As this area became more important (there was a principal castle at Rijnsburg, along the river and near modern Katwijk and Leiden) the count became Holland, and the future rulers would distance themselves from their Frisian roots.
This story starts out around the time the county became Holland. The count, Dirk V, was only a boy when his father had died. Soon after the count’s death the neighboring bishop of Utrecht – lurking on higher ground – grabbed large parts of Holland (or Frisia), but around 1068 they were all returned back to the young count. Also, the county fell under protection of Flandres, as the count’s mother was also the wife of the count of Flandres. The Flamish also gave Holland an area then called Imperial Flandres. Later this would become Zealand and would be part of Holland until the Burgundian time, even and after that Holland and Zealand would remain closely tied. The count of Holland held most of the modern-day province of Holland, including Westfriesland, which was at the time separated from the rest of Friesland by the Flie river, and was also known as Friesland west of the Flie or Westflie. As time would pass, however, tensions would rise between the count of Holland and the people of Westfriesland, who would hold onto their Frisian heritage.
One thing should not be forgotten. 11th-century Holland didn’t look a lot like it’s modern counterpart. Major floods would craft the landscape. A flood in the south would change Imperial Flandres into a patchwork of countless islands, which would thus gain the name Zealand. Other floods would broaden the Flie river and extend the inner sea that was known as Almere at the time. Eventually this would completely separate Holland and Westfriesland from the rest of Friesland, and create the Zuiderzee. The raising sea level and floods would create a whole number of lakes in the north of Holland (most of which would be drained in the 17th century) and it would ruin a lot of arable land in the area. However, these floods would also cause the people to protect their land by building dykes and drainage ditches, and establish water bodies that would maintain and extend them. A dyke surrounding a large part of Westfriesland was built in the 12th century after the Flie and Almere were flooded, which stands to this day (although heightened) and as the middle ages progressed the people would end up saving a lot of their low-lying land this way. I shall attempt to bring these things back into my story, as they imply had such a large impact on the area and the present-day Netherlands in general.
Rivers change their course as well, over time. For a long time the Rhine river ended into the North Sea at Katwijk near Leiden. However, after this stream sanded the one of the river's side arms became the main river. That part of the Rhine is now known as the Lek (lit. leak) and ends into the Meuse near the city of Dordrecht. Also, the Meuse river nowadays ends further to the south, although the river that runs through Rotterdam (and Vlaardingen, site of Flaerdinghe castle) is still called the New Meuse, even though it's part of the Rhine (honestly, nobody understands it here either).
I haven’t played Crusader Kings a lot yet – I only got the game about a month ago, and I will probably play like the newbie I am. Thus my main goal is not to conquer/inherit entire Europe, but rather to write an interesting story. It will be a story of fiction. I’ll try add as much historical facts to it as possible, but I’ll bend minor facts and issues when I see fit. It should also be said the game isn’t completely historical (making a duchy of Flanders for example) and as the game progresses it will simply change history. I don’t mind, I like alternate histories, so as time progresses I’ll certainly get plenty of change to let my fantasy run free and create a glorious future for the house of Holland!