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Central Dutch province of Utrecht celebrates 630th birthday

Entity evolved from endowment grant

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

UTRECHT, the Netherlands – The province of Utrecht, once the political realm of the central Dutch Roman Catholic diocese, recently celebrated its 630th birthday. To mark the founding day, all 33 municipalities in the province received a new provincial flag.

Named after is capital, the province was an endowment (leen) granted by the Holy Roman Emperor to the bishop of Utrecht. In 1375, the clergy, the nobility and the cities signed a contract with cash-starved Bishop Arnold van Hoorne in which they gained a say in civil matters such as levying taxes, frequently for the army and warfare. The May 17, 1375 treaty now is seen as the birth of the province. The (arch)diocese of Utrecht itself predates the province by about 670 years, and in earlier age included adjoining Veluwe and Overijssel. In medieval times Overijssel was known as Oversticht.

In world history, the province’s capital perhaps is best known for the 1712 Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession. The treaty negotiated in the city settled jurisdictional issues in Spain, France, Italy, Austria, England, the Netherlands and the colonies in North America where France ceded control of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay Territory to the British who also took Gibraltar from Spain.

The enthusiasm for flag raising was rather muted in several Utrecht municipalities. Members of the Provincial Estates fanned out across the province to help with local ceremonies, the first such annual event. They received scant attention however. Not all local governments are happy with ’Utrecht.’ The province remains at loggerheads with some municipalities over its policy to amalgamate them into stronger units, to meet the challenges of downloading administrative services by senior government levels.