A stins (Dutch, pl. stinsen; from West Frisian stienhûs [Dutch steenhuis] "stone house", shortened to stins, pl. stinzen) is a former stronghold or villa in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands. Many stinsen carry the name "state" (related to English 'estate').
A stins and the surrounding state used to belong to a permanent group of hoofdelingen/heerschapen, which were prominent, rich land-owning citizens. From the 1300's, these noblemen had their bases of power in the cities or large villages, their families owned a few hundred hectares of fertile farmland divided over several dozen tenanted farms. The noblemen married one another as much as possible, on a material and culturally equal level, in order to prevent the loss of property and honour by inheritance.
Around 1498, when the period of Frisian Freedom drew to a close, the system of "stins en state" was superseded by the grietman/grietenij system. From about 1498 until 1851, there were a total of 30 grietenijen in Friesland and 11 cities. Most stinsen were demolished in the mid-1800's, when maintenance became too expensive. Several surviving stinsen are now used as museums.
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Media related to Stins in Friesland at Wikimedia Commons