This book is the first full-scale analysis of the social and political transformation of the nobility of Holland during the revolt against Spain. In the late medieval county of Holland the nobility played a significant role, but in the seventeenth century it appears to have been obliterated by bourgeois merchants and urban regents. The author argues that this 'decline' needs re-examination and bases his study on three key aspects: the demographic evidence for the decline of the nobility; the economic vicissitudes of the sixteenth century, which gave rise to the myth of its impoverishment; and finally the political and administrative powers of the nobility in the reigns of Charles V and Phillip II during the Dutch Revolt in the Republic. The conclusions are surprising. The nobility of Holland was extremely successful in maintaining its position in a bourgeois republic. In conjunction with the urban regents, the nobles formed the country's administrative, political and economic elite and from a social point of view, they maintained a strict apartheid by marrying exclusively within their group. Widely acclaimed in the Dutch edition of 1984, this is an important contribution to the history of the Netherlands as well as to the more general study of European elites.
1. Introduction; 2. Virtue and descent; 3. The weight of numbers: demographic trends and forces; 4. Endogamy and misalliances; 5. Incomes and expenditures; 6. Manors and honours; 7. Beggars and loyalists; 8. Integration and apartheid; 9. Conclusion: knights and regents; Bibliography; Index.