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A stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder) was the person that ruled an area in the name of the land owner, in the Netherlands (which includes present-day Belgium) from the 15th to the 18th century.

After some of the Dutch provinces declared their independence in the late 16th century, the function of stadtholder became obsolete in absence of the land owner, but the function was continued in the provinces of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Although each province could assign its own stadtholder, most stadtholders ruled over several provinces at the same time.

In 1747, the office of stadtholder was made hereditary for the entire republic. The function of stadtholder was abolished in 1795 with coming of the French and the start of the Batavian Republic.

Table of contents
1 Stadtholders of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht
2 Stadtholders of Friesland
3 Stadtholders of Gelre
4 Stadtholders of Groningen
5 Stadtholders of Overijssel

Stadtholders of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht

The stadtholdership of Holland and Zeeland has always been combined. Since the office was instuted there in 1534, the stadtholder of Utrecht has been the same as the one of Holland, with one exception.

In 1572, William of Orange was elected as the stadtholder, although Philip II of Spain had appointed a different one.

Stadtholders of Friesland

Stadtholders of Gelre

Stadtholders of Groningen

From 1584 to 1594, there were two stadtholders: one appointed by the king of Spain, whose authority was only recognized in the city of Groningen, and one on the side of the
United Provinces.

William IV of Orange, 1729-1751, regent: Marie Louise van Hessen-Kassel, 1711-1729
  • William V of Orange, 1751-1795

  • Stadtholders of Overijssel