Count of Holland

The counts of Holland ruled over the County of Holland in the Low Countries between the 10th and the 16th century.

Coat of arms of the counts of Holland

House of HollandEdit

The first count of Holland, Dirk I, was the son or foster-son of Gerolf, Count in Frisia (Dijkstra suggests that Dirk may have been the son of a sister of Gerolf and that his own father died while he was still an infant). He received land around Egmond from Charles the Fat at a place called Bladella (modern day Bladel near Eindhoven, The Netherlands) in 922. This is seen as the beginning of the county of Holland. However, until about 1100, the usual names for the county were West-Friesland, Frisia or Kennemerland; in spite of this the counts from Dirk I onwards are traditionally named of Holland.

Note that the chronology of the first few counts is uncertain. The existence of a count between Dirk I and Dirk II was only recently suggested, since it is thought that the references to counts named Dirk between 896 and 988 refer to three, not two, different counts. This third Count Dirk is placed between Dirk I and II and numbered as Dirk I bis to avoid confusion with the already established numbering referring to the other counts of Holland named Dirk.

House of AvesnesEdit

When John I died childless, the county was inherited by John II of Avesnes, Count of Hainaut from 1299. John of Avesnes was a son of Adelaide of Holland, sister of William II of Holland.

House of WittelsbachEdit

During the rule of Margaret, her son William V had the real power in the county. He became ruler in his own right as a result of the Hook and Cod wars. He was also Duke of Bavaria-Straubing as William I.

There was a war of succession between John III and Jacqueline. This war was finally won by Philip III of Burgundy in 1433, who, in the meantime had inherited John's claims on the county. Philip was a nephew of William VI, who had married a daughter of Philip the Bold of Burgundy. In April 1433 he forced Jacqueline to abdicate from Hainaut and Holland on his behalf.

House of Valois-BurgundyEdit

House of HabsburgEdit

  • Maximilian (r. 1482-1494, regent), Holy Roman Emperor, husband of Mary I
  • Philip II the Handsome (r. 1494-1506), King Philip I of Castile
  • Charles II (r. 1515-1555), Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, King of Spain
  • Philip III (r. 1555-1581, 1581-1598 titular only), King Philip II of Spain

During the 'foreign rule' by Burgundy and Habsburg, the county was governed by a stadtholder in name of the count. In 1581, the Estates General of the United Provinces declared themselves independent from the Spanish rule of Philip II (who was Philip III of Holland). Until the Treaty of Münster in 1648, the kings of Spain still used the title Count of Holland, but they had lost the actual power over the county to the States of Holland.

  • Philip IV (1598 - 1621, titular only), King Philip III of Spain
  • Philip V (1621 - 1648, titular only, renounced 1648), King Philip IV of Spain


The county remained in existence as a constituent member state of the Dutch Republic until 1795. There were no more counts however since the Estates of Holland and West-Frisia were the sovereign of the county (although the countship was offered to William the Silent in 1584, shortly before his death). The stadtholders, who were servants of the Estates, were the de facto chief-executives during this period.

See alsoEdit