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What If Belgium and the Netherlands Had Remained One Country?

Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#2
The biggest effects would undoubtedly have been the religious balance of the early republic- Brabant and (most of?) Flanders would have to be voting provinces even if the Dutch don't manage to claim the rest of the south, which essentially means there's a strong in-built Catholic block- they'd probably argue for converting Maastricht into a third Catholic province as well.
 

Nanwe

The Troika always wins
Location
Brussels
Pronouns
he/him
#5
Always love to read about the Dutch Republic. Great article.

The biggest effects would undoubtedly have been the religious balance of the early republic- Brabant and (most of?) Flanders would have to be voting provinces even if the Dutch don't manage to claim the rest of the south, which essentially means there's a strong in-built Catholic block- they'd probably argue for converting Maastricht into a third Catholic province as well.
I suppose that could be re-balanced by admitting Drenthe to the Staten-Generaal, which the province never got a vote in because it was too poor to even provide money for the common budget of the Republic.

The PoD is important, however, as Bruges was a very important Reformed centre before being reconquered by the Spanish, so an alternate voting Flanders might have been on the Calvinist side after all. The Overmaas territories, as well as the Staats-Gelders, are interesting options too, but I think they were just too tiny. But perhaps if the Dutch manage to conquer all of the territories of the Habsburg Guelders (later Prussian), then maybe the Duchy of Guelders could have been some kind of swing vote.

Maastricht was a fascinating case, as the city itself was a condominium of the Liege Prince-Archbishops and the Dutch Republic (originally the Dukes of Brabant). The issue of citizenship in the city was fascinating, as well as legal systems, as the city had two (Sint-Servaas and Sint-Lambertus) one for 'citizens' of Liege and the other for Dutch citizens, although both citizens could go to court in either, and there were no means for the courts to reach deals in case of contradictory rulings on cases.
 

Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#6
The PoD is important, however, as Bruges was a very important Reformed centre before being reconquered by the Spanish, so an alternate voting Flanders might have been on the Calvinist side after all. The Overmaas territories, as well as the Staats-Gelders, are interesting options too, but I think they were just too tiny. But perhaps if the Dutch manage to conquer all of the territories of the Habsburg Guelders (later Prussian), then maybe the Duchy of Guelders could have been some kind of swing vote.
Doesn't that sort of PoD mean Antwerp either doesn't fall, or is probably quickly recaptured and so the majority of the population who fled return home within a few years? Which would make Brabant more of a reformed centre as well.
 

Nanwe

The Troika always wins
Location
Brussels
Pronouns
he/him
#7
Doesn't that sort of PoD mean Antwerp either doesn't fall, or is probably quickly recaptured and so the majority of the population who fled return home within a few years? Which would make Brabant more of a reformed centre as well.
Yeah. This likely also stops Holland's dominance of the Republic, as Amsterdam and Rotterdam greatly benefited from the exile of Reformed Antwerp merchants to the cities. And politically too, as Brabant and Holland were the dominant entities in the pre-Eighty Year War Low Lands, one north and one south of the Rhine. However, in 1579, Bruges was closer to Republic-held territories than Antwerp was (see map).

It's also likely that in such scenario that the large minority of Den Bosch protestants aren't forced to leave the city after a day of intense religious infighting and instead become the city's leaders. Or they return and become the city's leaders too.

But the Reformed (somehow) winning the Schermersoproer is an interesting PoD too, because it gives the Republic-to-be a large tactical and population centre far south from the Rhine. Other PoDs during the early phase of the war is, for instance, the stadhouder of Groningen and the Ommelanden, George de Lalaing, not changing sides to a pro-Spanish position in 1580 and as a result, forcing Republic efforts to move away from the south towards securing their north-eastern flank.
 
#8
Thanks for the republication, and the comments!

The religious question is an interesting one. I suppose this would probably have prevented some of the discrimination Catholics faced during the early Republic.

Later Catholics (in the form of the KVP party and its predecessors) became the dominant political faction in the Netherlands, because non-Catholics were divided between various Protestant and secular blocs. That dominance would have increased.
 

Sulemain

Kangaroo Cataphracts
Location
Coventry
#11
Thanks for the republication, and the comments!

The religious question is an interesting one. I suppose this would probably have prevented some of the discrimination Catholics faced during the early Republic.

Later Catholics (in the form of the KVP party and its predecessors) became the dominant political faction in the Netherlands, because non-Catholics were divided between various Protestant and secular blocs. That dominance would have increased.
I'm no expert, but a lot of the initial leaders of the Dutch Revolt *were* Catholics-but they were also local patriots who opposed the Spanish King trying to rule the low countries. Obviously even from the beginning, there were substantial Calvinist elements to the Revolution- but having a continue Catholic element would as you say possibly lead to more religious tolerance.
 

Nanwe

The Troika always wins
Location
Brussels
Pronouns
he/him
#12
I'm no expert, but a lot of the initial leaders of the Dutch Revolt *were* Catholics-but they were also local patriots who opposed the Spanish King trying to rule the low countries. Obviously even from the beginning, there were substantial Calvinist elements to the Revolution- but having a continue Catholic element would as you say possibly lead to more religious tolerance.
Yeah, but many of them, like the vast majority of the population at the start of the Revolt were nominally Catholics, humanist-inspired but without much of a care about whether to go Catholic or Reformed. Most went one way or another over the subsequent decades. Many of the more tolerant Catholics were as the religious situation in the rebel provinces radicalised, forced to choose, and many, like George Lalaing, chose Spain.

It's also important to keep in mind the impressive and successful work of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella in re-Catholicising the vast sections of the population who were somewhere in the spectrum between Catholic and Reformed but still went to Catholic services. That is why Belgium is Catholic and large chunks of the Netherlands below the Rhine are too. If those areas were never ruled again by the Spanish, they would have likely become majority Reformed like the north. That being said, seeing as how these regions were quite rural and with a much larger nobility than, say, Holland, they would have definitely kept a larger share of Catholics (35-40%?), like Utrecht or northern Holland did.