List of rulers of the Netherlands

History of the Low Countries
Frisii Belgae
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg
Gallia Belgica (55 BC – 5th c. AD)
Germania Inferior (83 – 5th c.)
Salian Franks Batavi
(4th–5th c.)
Saxons Salian Franks
(4th–5th c.)
Frisian Kingdom
(6th c.–734)
Frankish Kingdom (481–843)Carolingian Empire (800–843)
Austrasia (511–687)
Middle Francia (843–855) West

Kingdom of Lotharingia (855– 959)
Duchy of Lower Lorraine (959–)

Friesland (kleine wapen).svg

Wapen graafschap Holland.svg
County of

Utrecht - coat of arms.png
Bishopric of

Coat of arms of the Duchy of Brabant.svg
Duchy of

Guelders-Jülich Arms.svg
Duchy of

Arms of Flanders.svg
County of

Hainaut Modern Arms.svg
County of

Arms of Namur.svg
County of

Armoiries Principauté de Liège.svg
of Liège


Duchy of

  Flag of the Low Countries.svg
Burgundian Netherlands (1384–1482)
Flag of the Low Countries.svg
Habsburg Netherlands (1482–1795)
(Seventeen Provinces after 1543)
Dutch Republic
Flag of the Low Countries.svg
Spanish Netherlands
  Austrian Low Countries Flag.svg
Austrian Netherlands
  Flag of the Brabantine Revolution.svg
United States of Belgium
R. Liège
Flag of the navy of the Batavian Republic.svg
Batavian Republic (1795–1806)
Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810)
Flag of France.svg
associated with French First Republic (1795–1804)
part of First French Empire (1804–1815)
Flag of the Netherlands.svg
Princip. of the Netherlands (1813–1815)
United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815–1830) Flag of Luxembourg.svg
Gr D. L.

Kingdom of the Netherlands (1839–)
Flag of Belgium.svg
Kingdom of Belgium (1830–)
Gr D. of


The Netherlands, or Low Countries, possessed clearly delineated boundaries only after 1500. Still in many respects they demonstrated common traits and underwent similar development that differentiated them from surrounding countries. The social, economic and political similarities evident throughout most of the region stem from the High Middle Ages, when the Scheldt, Maas and Rhine delta area became an important center of trade. Next to Northern Italy, the Low Countries became the most urbanised and prosperous region in Europe.

Its political system exhibited, from relatively early on, a degree of representative government that differed from the more feudal arrangements then existent in much of Europe. Internationally, the region served both as a mediator for and a buffer to the surrounding great powers, France, England, and Germany.[1]

Leaders of Frisii, Belgae, Canninefates and Batavi (before 400)Edit

What little is known of the Frisii is provided by a few Roman accounts, whose province Germania Inferior shared a border with the Frisii. Frisii had elected chieftains who led by example rather than by authority.[2] Two Frisii kings, Malorix and Verritus, visited Rome to meet Nero.[3] The Frisii were bordered on the south by Germanic tribes living on Roman territory, and that would later coalesce into the Frankish confederation in the 3rd century, like the Batavi and the Cananefates. Tacitus mentions Gaius Julius Civilis as leader of the Batavi, and Brinno as leader of Cananefates. The coastal lands of the Frisii, Romans, Batavi and Cananefates were abandoned by c. 400 due to flooding caused by a marine transgression and lay empty for a century.

The Salii (Salian Franks) are one of the peoples who formed the foundation for early (both Northern- and Southern) Dutch culture, society and language since the fall of the Roman empire. After settling within the Roman territories, first in Germania Inferior and later in Gallia Belgica, they developed an organised society that developed the agriculture in regions that had become underpopulated. Merovech (d. 453/457) and Childeric I (c. 440 – 481/482) were Sallian chieftains before Clovis I (c. 466 – c. 511) united all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler. With the Roman Empire as an example, he replaced the form of leadership from a group of royal chieftains to a single king. He moved his court from Tournai in present-day Belgium, to Paris, and created the Frankish Kingdom.

Kings of Frisia (600–775)Edit

After the Migration Period, the Frisian Kingdom emerged around 600 AD, north of the Frankish Kingdom. The Frisians consisted of tribes with loose bonds, and were not the same Frisii from Roman times. Under Redbad the Frisian kingship reached its maximum geographic development, covering most of the area of what is now the Netherlands and the coast in northern Germany. In 722 the Frisian land west of the Vlie (what is now Holland, Utrecht and Zeeland came in Frankish hands. In 734, in the Battle of the Boarn, the area west of the Lauwers (nowadays Friesland) resulted in a Frankisch victory and the end of the Frisian kingdom. Only the Frisians east of the Lauwers (Groningen and East Frisia) remained independent. In 772 they lost their independence as well.

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Finn Folcwaldingca. 500semi-legendary prince of Magna Frisia 
  • Adolf
ca. 600627known from coins 
Adgillis I
  • Adalgis
  • Aldegisel I
Redbad I
  • Radbod
679/89718/19son of Adgillus I 
  • Bubo, Bobba
719734son of Redbad I; last king of the Frisians 

Counts of Frisia (775–885)Edit

In 775, Charles the Great made Frisia officially part of the Frankish Kingdom. The wars ended with the last uprising of the Frisians in 793 and the pacification of them. Counts were appointed by the Frankish rulers. However, Danish Vikings raided Frisia in the end of the 9th century and established Viking rule. After the division of the Frankish Kingdom in West Francia and East Francia, they gained more autonomy.

See also:

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
  • Abba, Boppa
749775/786possibly son of RedbadFrisia 
Nordalah786?806?son of AlfbadFrisia 
Rorikca. 841ca. 873cousin of Godfrey; invaderDanish 
Gerulf I
  • Gerulf the Elder
  • Gerolf de Oude
before 839after 855son of Dirk or Nordalah?; reeve of the Frisians between Vlie and the river WeserFrisia 

Counts of Holland and West-Frisia (885–1433)Edit

While the Frisian kingdom had comprised most of the present day Netherlands, the later province of Friesland in the Netherlands was much reduced. Already in the early Middle Ages West-Frisia (Frisia west of the Vlie) was not considered to be a part of Frisia anymore, and came to be known as Holland (present day provinces North and South Holland and Zeeland). Floris II was the first count who restyled his name from count of "West-Frisia", in count of "Holland".

Frisia Proper in medieval time therefore only included the middle and eastern part. The middle part (corresponding to the present day Dutch province of Friesland) was populated by free peasants who successfully resisted all attempts by feudal lords to subdue them, mainly the counts of Holland and the bishops of Utrecht. In the eastern part, local chieftains created their own states (within the Holy Roman Empire) in the late Middle Ages. They became a county after 1446 until 1744, after which it was incorporated within Prussia and later Germany.

The counts of West-Frisia ruled locally in the name of the archbishop of Utrecht, but over time, the counts of Holland came to dominate the bishopric of Utrecht. The archbishop of Utrecht governed the area on behalf of the Holy Roman Emperor, who saw is power diminished by the feudal system in which the counts and dukes ruled almost as sovereigns.

The counts of Holland tried frequently to increase their territory but apart from the acquisition of Zeeland during the 14th century they had no lasting success. Instead it became a part of the mighty medieval dynasties possessions, first Wittelsbach then Valois and thereafter Habsburg.

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Gerulf IIca. 885895/896son or grandson of Gerulf I of Frisia, or the same GerulfHolland 
Dirk I896ca. 931son of Gerolf?Holland 
Dirk I bisca. 931939son of Dirk I; count of FrisiaHolland 
Dirk II939988son of Dirk I bis; count of FrisiaHolland 
Arnulf988993son of Dirk II; count of FrisiaHolland 
Dirk III
  • Hierosolymita (the Jerusalemite)
  • Dirk III de Jeruzalemganger
9931039son of Arnulf; count of FrisiaHolland 
Dirk IV10391049son of Dirk III Hierosolymita; count of FrisiaHolland 
Floris I10491061brother of Dirk IV; regents: Gertrude of Saxony (widow of Floris I), Robert the Frisian (second husband of Gertrude) and Godfrey the Hunchback, Duke of Lower Lorraine; count of FrisiaHolland 
NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Dirk V
  • Dirk V
10611091son of Floris I; count of FrisiaHolland 
Floris II
  • the Fat
  • Floris II de Dikke
10911121son of Dirk V; first count who named himself count of 'Holland'Holland 
Dirk VI
  • Dirk VI
11211157son of Floris IIHolland 
Floris III
  • Floris III
11571190son of Dirk VIHolland 
Dirk VII
  • Dirk VII
11901203son of Floris IIIHolland 
  • Ada
12031207daughter of Dirk VII; ruled together with Louis I; no issuesHolland 
William I
  • Willem I
12031222son of Floris IIIHolland 
Floris IV
  • Floris IV
12221234son of William IHolland 
William II
  • Willem II
12351256son of Floris IVHolland 
Floris V
  • Floris V, der keerlen god
12561296son of William II; Floris de Voogd regent and guardian for Floris V (1256–1258)Holland 
John I
  • Jan I
12961299son of Floris V; John III, Lord of Renesse regent for John I (1296-1299); John II, Count of Hainaut inherited the county after John I's deathHolland 
NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
John II
  • Jan II
12991304son of John I of AvesnesAvesnes 
William III
  • Willem III
13041337son of John IIAvesnes 
William IV
  • Willem IV
13371345son of William IIIAvesnes 
Margaret I
  • Margaretha
13451354daughter of William III; a.k.a. Margaret II of Avesnes, countess Margaret II of HainautAvesnes 
NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
William V
  • Willem V, Willem van Beieren
13491389son of Margaret I; a.k.a. duke William I of Bavaria, count William III of Hainaut, count William IV of ZeelandWittelsbach 
  • Albrecht van Beieren
13891404son of Margaret of Holland; count of Holland, Hainaut, and ZeelandWittelsbach 
William VI
  • Willem VI, Willem van Oostervant
14041417son of Margaret of Brieg; a.k.a. duke William II of Bavaria-Straubing, count William IV of Hainaut, count William V of ZeelandWittelsbach 
  • Jacoba van Beieren
14171433countess of Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut; a.k.a. duchess Jacqueline of Bavaria-Straubing; no heir; With Jacqueline's remarriage to the English Henry of Gloucester, title passes to the dukes of BurgundyWittelsbach 

Counts of Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands (1433–1581)Edit

Burgundian dukes acquired a continuous territory covering most of modern-day Belgium and the Netherlands. By establishing the States General, Philip the Good centralised power, thereby laying the basis for the Netherlands as a single country with a common interest. The Burgundian dukes - and later the monarchs of Habsburg Spain - appointed stadtholders (place holders or deputies) in each one of its estates in the Netherlands.

In 1506, at the death of Philip the Handsome, the title "Lord of the Netherlands" or "Lord of Flanders" was given to his son and Duke of Burgundy Charles of Ghent (later Charles I in Spain and Charles V in the Holy Roman Empire). With the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, Charles completed the process of consolidation by becoming the sole feudal overlord of the Seventeen Provinces. In 1556, the Spanish Netherlands were established under the control of Philip II of Spain. In this political union, the stadtholders served under a governor-general, limiting their power and of the estates.

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Philip I
  • Philip the Good
  • Filips de Goede
14331467a.k.a. Philip III of BurgundyValois-Burgundy 
Charles I
  • Charles the Bold
  • Karel de Stoute
14671477a.k.a. duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Limburg, Guelder and Luxembourg, count of Flanders, Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, ZutphenValois-Burgundy 
  • Mary the Rich
  • Maria de Rijke
14771482daughter of Charles IValois-Burgundy 
NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Maximilian I
  • Maximiliaan van Oostenrijk
14821494a.k.a. Holy Roman Emperor[4]Habsburg 
Philip II
  • Philip the Handsome
  • Filips de Schone
14941506a.k.a. king Philip I of Castile; son of Maximilian IHabsburg 
Charles II
  • Karel II
15061555son of Philip the Handsome; introduced title Lord of the Netherlands; a.k.a. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and king Charles I of Spain; regent: Maximilian I (1506 to 1515); governors-general: William de Croÿ (1504-1507), Margaret of Austria (1507-1530) and Mary of Austria (1531-1555)Habsburg 
Philip III
  • Filips III
15551581Lord of the Netherlands; a.k.a. king Philip II of Spain; son of Charles I of Spain; governors-general: Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy (1555-1559) and Margaret of Parma (1559-1567)Habsburg 

The Seven United Netherlands (1581–1795)Edit

Unhappy with the centralisation of political power to Habsburg Spain, seven northern provinces seceded into the Dutch Republic: Groningen, Frisia, Overijssel, Guelders, Utrecht, Holland and Zeeland. They kept parts of Limburg, Brabant and Flanders during and after the Eighty Years' War as Generality Lands.

Military control was given to a stadtholder who in theory was elected by the States-General of the Netherlands of the now independent Dutch Republic. The function was de facto hereditary in Holland and Zeeland, and held by the Prince of Orange. Drawn from a side branch of the House of Orange, Frisia and Groningen had a different stadtholder, until 1711. The following centuries saw the republic being co-ruled by the grand pensionary of the states-general and the stadtholders, with continuous power struggle between the offices.

Stadtholderate under the House of Orange-NassauEdit

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
William I
  • the Silent
  • Willem I
(1533-04-24)24 April 1533 – 10 July 1584(1584-07-10) (aged 51)26 July 158110 July 1584Stadtholder[5]Orange-Nassau 
  • Maurits
(1567-11-14)14 November 1567 – 23 April 1625(1625-04-23) (aged 57)14 November 1585[6]23 April 1625Stadtholder,[7] son of William IOrange-Nassau 
Frederick Henry
  • Frederik Hendrik
(1584-01-29)29 January 1584 – 14 March 1647(1647-03-14) (aged 63)23 April 162514 March 1647Stadtholder,[8] son of William IOrange-Nassau 
William II
  • Willem II
(1626-05-27)27 May 1626 – 6 November 1650(1650-11-06) (aged 24)14 March 16476 November 1650Stadtholder,[9] son of Frederick HenryOrange-Nassau 
William III
  • Willem III
(1650-11-04)4 November 1650 – 8 March 1702(1702-03-08) (aged 51)4 July 16728 March 1702Stadtholder,[10] son of William II also King of England, Scotland and IrelandOrange-Nassau 
William IV
  • Willem IV
(1711-09-01)1 September 1711 – 22 October 1751(1751-10-22) (aged 40)4 May 174722 October 1751First formally hereditary Stadtholder of the United Netherlands,[11] son of John William FrisoOrange-Nassau 
William V
  • Willem V
(1748-03-08)8 March 1748 – 9 April 1806(1806-04-09) (aged 58)22 October 175119 January 1795Hereditary Stadtholder of the United Netherlands, son of William IV, deposed by the Batavian RevolutionOrange-Nassau 

When William III died childless, the patrilineal ancestry of Orange-Nassau became extinct. In contrast to other provinces of the Dutch Republic, Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe had mostly drawn its stadtholders from the House of Nassau, that starting with John VI, the brother of William of Orange, and comprises in addition a matrilineal ancestry with the house of Orange-Nassau.

Stadtholderate under the House of NassauEdit

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
John VI
  • the Elder
  • Jan VI
(1536-11-22)22 November 1536 – 8 October 1606(1606-10-08) (aged 69)15781581Stadtholder,[12] brother of William INassau 
William Louis
  • Our Father
  • Willem Lodewijk
(1560-03-13)13 March 1560 – 31 May 1620(1620-05-31) (aged 60)15841620Stadtholder,[13] son of John VINassau 
Ernest Casimir I
  • Ernst Casimir I
(1573-12-22)22 December 1573 – 2 June 1632(1632-06-02) (aged 58)16201632Stadtholder,[14] son of John VINassau 
Henry Casimir I
  • Hendrik Casimir I
(1612-01-21)21 January 1612 – 13 July 1640(1640-07-13) (aged 28)16321640Stadtholder,[15] son of Ernest Casimir INassau 
William Frederick
  • Willem Frederik
(1613-08-07)7 August 1613 – 31 October 1664(1664-10-31) (aged 51)16401664Stadtholder,[16] son of Ernest Casimir INassau 
Henry Casimir II
  • Hendrik Casimir II
(1657-01-18)18 January 1657 – 25 March 1696(1696-03-25) (aged 39)18 January 166425 March 1696Hereditary Stadtholder,[17] son of William Frederick and maternal grandson of Frederick HenryNassau 
John William Friso
  • Johan Willem Friso
(1687-08-04)4 August 1687 – 14 July 1711(1711-07-14) (aged 23)25 March 169614 July 1711Hereditary Stadtholder,[18] son of Henry Casimir II, succeeded by his son William IV of Orange-Nassau, Hereditary Stadtholder of the United NetherlandsNassau 

Grand Pensionaries of the Dutch RepublicEdit

Holland formally adopted the Act of Abjuration in 1581 to become a province in the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Grand Pensionaries of the province of Holland during the time of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands:

Portrait Name
Term of office
  Paulus Buys
1572 16 March
  Johan van Oldenbarnevelt
16 March
12 May
Andries de Witt
12 May
Anthonie Duyck
1621 1629
  Jacob Cats
1629 1631
  Adriaan Pauw
1631 1636
  Jacob Cats
1636 1651
  Adriaan Pauw
1651 30 July
  Johan de Witt
30 July
4 August
  Gaspar Fagel
20 August
5 December
  Michiel ten Hove
5 December
24 March
  Anthonie Heinsius
27 May
3 August
  Isaac van Hoornbeek
12 September
17 June
  Simon van Slingelandt
17 July
1 December
  Anthonie van der Heim
4 April
7 July
  Willem Buys
7 July
23 September
  Jacob Gilles
23 September
18 June
  Pieter Steyn
18 June
5 November
  Pieter van Bleiswijk
18 June
5 November
  Laurens Pieter van de Spiegel
9 November
9 February

Rulers during the French period (1795–1813)Edit

In the Northern Netherlands, the stadtholdership developed into a hereditary system, with increasing power accumulating to the stadtholder. Dutch Patriots sought a more democratic form of government. With French help they proclaimed the Batavian Republic (1795-1806). In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte overturned the Batavian Republic. Napoleon established a client Kingdom of Holland with his brother as king (1806-1810). The Netherlands were subsequently annexed into the First French Empire (1810-1813). Stadtholder William V went in exile. The Southern Netherlands (Austrian Netherlands) including Prince-Bishopric of Liège were annexed into the French First Republic (1795–1804) and the First French Empire (1804–1815).

Batavian Republic (1795–1806)Edit

Executive Governments of the Batavian Republic

Portrait Name Term of office
Revolutionary Committee 17 January
6 February
States General of the Batavian Republic 30 March
1 March
National Assembly 1 March
25 January
Uitvoerend Bewind 25 January
17 October
Staatsbewind 17 October
29 April

Grand Pensionaries of the Batavian Republic:

Portrait Name
Term of office Faction
  Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck
15 May
4 June
  Carel de Vos van Steenwijk
4 June
18 June

Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810)Edit

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Louis I
  • the Good
  • Lodewijk I de Goede
(1778-09-02)2 September 1778 – 25 July 1846(1846-07-25) (aged 67)5 June 1806 (office established)1 July 1810Napoleon Bonaparte restyled the Netherlands into the Kingdom of Holland, putting his brother Louis I on the throneBonaparte 
Louis II
  • Lodewijk II
(1804-10-11)11 October 1804 – 17 March 1831(1831-03-17) (aged 26)1 July 18109 July 1810 (office abolishedson of Louis IBonaparte 

Rulers of the Netherlands (1813–present)Edit

After the First French Empire collapsed, the crown was offered to sovereign prince William VI, son of stadtholder William V. The Congress of Vienna reunited the Northern Netherlands with the Southern Netherlands into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands of which William became king. The newly appointed kings originally had extensive powers. Constitutional reforms in 1848 transformed the Netherlands into a constitutional monarchy under the rule of law, ending the factual rule of the monarchs.

The Belgian Revolution led to the secession of the southern part into the Kingdom of Belgium.

The non-French speaking part of Luxembourg remained in a personal union with the Netherlands, until William III died, leaving only his daughter Wilhelmina as an heir. Luxembourg allowed inheritance of the crown by males only, hence breaking the personal union.

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
William I
  • Willem I
(1772-08-24)24 August 1772 – 12 December 1843(1843-12-12) (aged 71)6 December 18137 October 1840Son of the last Stadtholder William V

William II
  • Willem II
(1792-12-06)6 December 1792 – 17 March 1849(1849-03-17) (aged 56)7 October 184017 March 1849Son of William IOrange-Nassau 
William III
  • Willem III
(1817-02-19)19 February 1817 – 23 November 1890(1890-11-23) (aged 73)17 March 184923 November 1890Son of William IIOrange-Nassau 
Wilhelmina(1880-08-31)31 August 1880 – 28 November 1962(1962-11-28) (aged 82)23 November 18904 September 1948Daughter of William III

Juliana(1909-04-30)30 April 1909 – 20 March 2004(2004-03-20) (aged 94)4 September 194830 April 1980Daughter of Wilhelmina

Orange-Nassau (Mecklenburg) 
Beatrix (1938-01-31) 31 January 1938 (age 84)30 April 198030 April 2013Daughter of Juliana

Orange-Nassau (Lippe) 
  • Willem-Alexander
(1967-04-27) 27 April 1967 (age 55)30 April 2013IncumbentSon of BeatrixOrange-Nassau (Amsberg) 

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Blom, J. C. H.; Lamberts, E. (June 2006). History of the Low Countries. ISBN 9781845452728.
  2. ^ Tacitus & 98:18–19, 23–24, 36–37, The Germany, Ch V, VII, XVI.
  3. ^ Tacitus 117:253, The Annals, Bk XIII, Ch 55. Events of AD 54–58.
  4. ^ Established Habsburg rule in Spain by marrying his son Philip the Handsome to the future Queen Joanna of Castile.
  5. ^ Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht (1559–1584), Stadtholder of Friesland and Overijssel (1580–1584)
  6. ^ Maurits benoemd als stadhouder, 1585, Europeana
  7. ^ Stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland (1585–1625), Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel (1590–1625), Groningen (1620–1625)
  8. ^ Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel (1620–1625), Groningen and Drenthe (1640–1647)
  9. ^ Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel
  10. ^ Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Overijssel (1672–1702), Guelders (1675–1702), Drenthe (1696–1702)
  11. ^ Hereditary Stadtholder of Friesland (1711–1747), Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Overijssel (April/May 1747 – November 1747), Stadtholder of Groningen (1718–1747), Guelders and Drenthe (1722–1747), was formally voted the first Hereditary Stadtholder of the United Provinces (1747–1751)
  12. ^ Stadtholder of Guelders (under Philip II), architect of the Union of Utrecht
  13. ^ Stadtholder of Friesland (1584–1620), Groningen (1594–1620) and Drenthe (1596–1620)
  14. ^ Stadtholder of Friesland (1620–1632), Groningen and Drenthe (1625–1632)
  15. ^ Stadtholder of Friesland (1632–1640), Groningen and Drenthe (1632–1640)
  16. ^ Stadtholder of Friesland (1640–1664), Groningen and Drenthe (1650–1664)
  17. ^ In 1675 the State of Friesland voted to make the Stadtholdership hereditary in the house of Nassau-Dietz
  18. ^ Hereditary Stadtholder of Friesland (1707–1711) and Groningen (1708–1711)

Works citedEdit