Short history of the Dutch Knighthood

The origine of the Dutch Knightships   Knightships in the Dutch Republic     In the Kingdom of the Netherlands    The constitution of 1848       
   
The origine of the Dutch Knightships
The Ridderschappen originate from the Middle Ages in the Netherlands. The Local Ruler had himself assisted by a body of warriors and advisors, this body organised itself into a "Knightship": the Ridderschap .
For admission to a Ridderschap a noble linage was required and a manorial property (in Overijssel a havezat(h)e, in Utrecht a ridderhofstede).
In the Dutch Republic the members must be Protestant.

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Knightships in the Dutch Republic
From (1581) 1648-1795, in the era of the Dutch Republic, the Ridderschappen continued to participate in the States of all Provinces, except in the Friesland province and the Ommelanden region.
The number of seats the Ridderschappen occupied in the States varied .
In the Province of Drenthe since 1580 the Ridderschap had three votes against six votes for the landed gentry;
In the States of Overijssel they had equal number of votes as the towns; however sometimes some Knights joined in with the towns;
In the States of Gelderland en Utrecht the Ridderschappen had one seat and one vote; in the Province of Holland the Ridderschap had one vote against 18 of the towns;
In the Zealand Province, after 1572, the Ridderschap was replaced by the "Eerste Edele" (the principal lord).
In 1795 , due to the social ideas from the French Revolution, de social class system was abolished, the Ridderschappen included. .

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In the Kingdom of the Netherlands
With the constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1813/1815 the Ridderschappen were restored; the Ridderschappen became a constitutional status .
The electoral colleges for the Provinciale States and for the Parlament were composed, amongst others, from the Ridderschappen.
New members of the Ridderschappen were recruted from the "Regents class": a hereditary caste of city magistrates and of families that has governed the Dutch East India company for two centuries.

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The constitution of 1848
In 1848 due to the new Constitution, the constitutional role of the Ridderschappen came to an end.
In four provinces the "Ridderschappen" continued to exist as private associations.
A few years ago the Ridderschap of Fryslân has been reinstituted.
Its succes lead to the reinstitution of the Ridderschap of Zealand, that has existed from 1814 to 1850.
In september 2012 the Ridderschap of Groningen was also reinstituted

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