chapter  20
12 Pages

Friesland under the Teutonic Order? A Fantastic Plan from 1517 by Grand Master Albrecht of Brandenburg-Ansbach

The year 1517 is indelibly printed on many people’s memories as an important year in European history. It certainly was an annus memorabilis for the Dutch province of Friesland, not because of Martin Luther’s actions but because, after two consecutive years of war, plague and fl ooding, the region was once again exposed to all forms of misery imaginable. In May 1515, George, duke of Saxony, who was hard pressed for money, transferred his title to this diffi cult-to-govern region to Charles of Habsburg, who had just become the ruler of Burgundy and the Netherlands. At the same time Charles, duke of Guelders, the traditional enemy of the House of BurgundyHabsburg, invaded the southern part of the region with a band of mercenaries and a civil war ensued, the end of which was nowhere in sight.1 With hindsight, the area of Friesland between the Vlie and Lauwers was never ravaged as badly as it was in the years 1515-17. It was not only Friesland that suffered; the region of Groningen, which was comprised of the city of that name and the area to the north and west of the city, the so-called (Frisian) Ommelanden, also fell victim to the war. The unprotected countryside, in particular, had to endure all sorts of violence from the evenly matched parties and their hundreds of badly paid mercenary soldiers. No monastery escaped destruction, and nearly every village church was mercilessly looted.