Union of Utrecht

Union of Utrecht

The Union of Utrecht ( _nl. Unie van Utrecht) is a treaty signed on January 23, 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Spain. The Union of Utrecht is regarded as the foundation of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, which was not recognized by the Spanish Empire until the Twelve Years' Truce in 1609 [The Twelve Year Truce of 1609 essentially marked the end of the Dutch struggle for independence and a pause in one of history's longest running conflicts, The Dutch Revolt. As Peter Geyl puts it, the truce marked "an astonishing victory for the Dutch". They gave up no land and did not agree to halt their attacks on Spanish colonies and the Spanish trade empire. In return the Spanish granted the United Provinces de facto independence by describing them as "Free lands, provinces and states against who they make no claim" for the duration of the truce. ] .

The treaty was signed on January 23 by Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht (but not entire Utrecht) and the province (but not the city) of Groningen. The treaty was a reaction of the Protestant provinces to the 1579 Union of Arras (Dutch: "Unie van Atrecht"), in which the southern provinces (most of them now part of Wallonia) declared their support for the Catholic Spanish.

On February 4, Ghent also signed. In March some cities from Friesland joined it, as well as 3 of the 4 quarters of Guelders. In the summer, Amersfoort from the province of Utrecht also joined, together with Ypres, Antwerp, Breda and Brussels. In February 1580, Lier, Bruges and the surrounding area also signed the Union. The city of Groningen shifted from contra to pro under influence of the stadtholder for Friesland, George van Rennenberg, and also signed the treaty. Later on, Zutphen also signed so Guelders (of which Zutphen is one of the quarters) supported the Union completely. This happened in April 1580, as did the signing of Overijssel and Drenthe.

This leads to a general and simplified overview of the parts that joined:
* the county of Holland
* the county of Zeeland
* the bishopric of Utrecht
* the duchy of Guelders
* the lordship of Groningen
* the lordship of Friesland
* Drenthe
* the lordship of Overijssel
* the duchy of Brabant
* the county of Flanders
* the cities of Tournai and Valenciennes

Flanders was almost entirely conquered by the Spanish troops, as was half of Brabant, so they dropped out. The United Provinces still recognized Spanish rule after the Union of Utrecht. However, the Union contributed to the deterioration in the relationship between the provinces and their lord, and in 1581 the United Provinces declared their independence of the king in the Act of Abjuration.

ee also

*List of treaties


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