Handel in heerlijkheden. Aankoop van Hollandse heerlijkheden en motieven van kopers, 1600-1795

  • Maarten Prins


In the 1500s, the county of Holland’s judicial seigneuries (heerlijkheden) were mainly held by nobles. As most of Holland’s noble houses had become extinct by 1800, their lordships were acquired by cities, office holders and merchants. Regents became the largest new group of owners. This article focuses on the motives of those who bought seigneuries by analyzing all known sales between 1600 and 1795. Several motives for buying seigneuries were found. Although financial reasons as speculation and (long-term) investment are often mentioned, most seigneuries were sold only once or twice between 1600 and 1795, often remaining in the buyer’s family for generations. This indicates that a lively market for seigneurial rights did not exist. Looking at the length of ownership in time, differences between groups of owners were marginal. Nobles and regents held on to their seigneuries for long periods (twenty to 23 years on average). In most cases, status was the primary reason to acquire a seigneury, since seigneurial titles served to strengthen dynastic aspirations. The stadtholders’ court had a strong influence on the purchase of seigneuries. The Prince of Orange’s political allies bought many seigneuries, mainly those with higher jurisdictions.