Duchy of Brabant
The Duchy of Brabant was a State of the Holy Roman Empire established in 1183. It developed from the Landgraviate of Brabant and formed the heart of the historic Low Countries, part of the Burgundian Netherlands from 1430 and of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1482, until it was partitioned after the Dutch revolt. Present-day North Brabant was adjudicated to the Generality Lands of the Dutch Republic according to the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, while the reduced duchy remained part of the Southern Netherlands until it was conquered by French Revolutionary forces in 1794. Today all the duchy's former territories, apart from exclaves, are in Belgium except for the Dutch province of North Brabant; the Duchy of Brabant was divided into four parts, each with its own capital. The four capitals were Leuven, Antwerp and's-Hertogenbosch. Before's-Hertogenbosch was founded, Tienen was the fourth capital, its territory consisted of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.
Its most important cities were Brussels, Leuven, Breda,'s-Hertogenbosch and Mechelen. The modern flag of Belgium takes its colors from Brabant's coat of arms: a lion or armed and langued gules as a primary heraldic charge on a black field. First used by Count Lambert I of Louvain, the lion is documented in a 1306 town's seal of Kerpen, together with the red lion of Limburg. Up to the present, the Brabant lion features as the primary charge on the coats of arms of both Flemish and Walloon Brabant, of the Dutch province of North Brabant; the region's name is first recorded as the Carolingian shire pagus Bracbatensis, located between the rivers Scheldt and Dijle, from braec "marshy" and bant "region". Upon the 843 Treaty of Verdun it was part of Lotharingia within short-lived Middle Francia, was ceded to East Francia according to the 880 Treaty of Ribemont. In earlier Roman times, the Nervii, a Belgic tribe, lived in the same area, they were incorporated into the Roman province of Belgica, considered to have both Celtic and Germanic cultural links.
At the end of the Roman period the region was conquered by the Germanic Franks. In 959 the East Frankish king Otto I of Germany elevated Count Godfrey of Jülich to the rank of duke of Lower Lorraine. In 962 the duchy became an integral part of the Holy Roman Empire, where Godfrey's successors of the ducal Ardennes-Verdun dynasty ruled over the Gau of Brabant. Here, the counts of Leuven rose to power, when about 1000 Count Lambert I the Bearded married Gerberga, the daughter of Duke Charles of Lower Lorraine, acquired the County of Brussels. About 1024 southernmost Brabant fell to Count Reginar V of Mons, Imperial lands up to the Schelde river in the west came under the rule of the French Counts Baldwin V of Flanders by 1059. Upon the death of Count Palatine Herman II of Lotharingia in 1085, Emperor Henry IV assigned his fief between the Dender and Zenne rivers as the Landgraviate of Brabant to Count Henry III of Leuven and Brussels. About one hundred years in 1183/1184, Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa formally established the Duchy of Brabant and created the hereditary title of duke of Brabant in favour of Henry I of Brabant, son of Count Godfrey III of Leuven.
Although the original county was still quite small - and limited to the territory between the Dender and Zenne rivers, situated to the west of Brussels - from the 13th century onwards its name came to apply to the entire territory under control of the dukes. In 1190, after the death of Godfrey III, Henry I became Duke of Lower Lotharingia. By that time the title had lost most of its territorial authority. According to protocol, all his successors were thereafter called Dukes of Brabant and Lower Lotharingia. After the Battle of Worringen in 1288, the dukes of Brabant acquired the Duchy of Limburg and the lands of Overmaas. In 1354 Duke John III of Brabant granted a Joyous Entry to the citizens of Brabant. In 1430 the Duchies of Lower Lotharingia and Limburg were inherited by Philip the Good of Burgundy and became part of the Burgundian Netherlands. In 1477 the Duchy of Brabant became part of the House of Habsburg as part of the dowry of Mary of Burgundy. At that time the Duchy extended from Luttre, south of Nivelles to's Hertogenbosch, with Leuven as the capital city.
The subsequent history of Brabant is part of the history of the Habsburg Seventeen Provinces. The Eighty Years' War brought the northern parts under military control of the northern insurgents. After the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the United Provinces' independence was confirmed and northern Brabant was formally ceded to the United Provinces as Staats-Brabant, a federally governed territory and part of the Dutch Republic; the southern part remained in Spanish Habsburg hands as a part of the Southern Netherlands. It was transferred to the Austrian branch of the Habsburg monarchy in 1714. Brabant was included in the unrecognised United States of Belgium, which existed from January to December 1790 during short-lived revolt against Emperor Joseph II, until imperial troops regained the Austrian Netherlands for Leopold II who had succeeded his brother; the area was overrun during the French Revolution in 1794, formally annexed by France in 1795. The duchy of Brabant was dissolved and the territory was reorganised in the départements of Deux-Nèthes and Dyle.
After the defeat of Bonaparte in 1815, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Friesland historically known as Frisia, is a province of the Netherlands located in the northern part of the country. It is situated west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe and Overijssel, north of Flevoland, northeast of North Holland, south of the Wadden Sea. In 2015, the province had a population of 646,092 and a total area of 5,100 km2; the capital and seat of the provincial government is the city of Leeuwarden, a city with 91,817 inhabitants. Since 2017, Arno Brok is the King's Commissioner in the province. A coalition of the Labour Party, the Christian Democratic Appeal, the Frisian National Party forms the executive branch; the province is divided into 18 municipalities. The area of the province was once part of the ancient, larger region of Frisia; the official languages of Friesland are West Dutch. In 1996 the States of Friesland resolved that the official name of the province should follow the West Frisian spelling rather than the Dutch spelling, resulting in "Friesland" being replaced by "Fryslân".
In 2004 the Dutch government confirmed this resolution, putting in place a three-year scheme to oversee the name change and associated cultural programme. The province of Friesland is referred to as "Frisia" by, amongst others, Hanno Brand, head of the history and literature department at the Fryske Akademy since 2009. However, the English-language webpage of the Friesland Provincial Council refers to the province as "Fryslân"; the Frisii were among the migrating Germanic tribes that, following the breakup of Celtic Europe in the 4th century BC, settled along the North Sea. They came to control the area from present-day Bremen to Brugge, conquered many of the smaller offshore islands. What little is known of the Frisii is provided by a few Roman accounts, most of them military. Pliny the Elder said their lands were forest-covered with tall trees growing up to the edge of the lakes, they lived by raising cattle. In his Germania, Tacitus would describe all the Germanic peoples of the region as having elected kings with limited powers and influential military leaders who led by example rather than by authority.
The people lived in spread-out settlements. He noted the weakness of Germanic political hierarchies in reference to the Frisii, when he mentioned the names of two kings of the 1st century Frisii and added that they were kings "as far as the Germans are under kings". In the 1st century BC, the Frisii halted a Roman advance and thus managed to maintain their independence; some or all of the Frisii may have joined into the Frankish and Saxon peoples in late Roman times, but they would retain a separate identity in Roman eyes until at least 296, when they were forcibly resettled as laeti and thereafter disappear from recorded history. Their tentative existence in the 4th century is confirmed by archaeological discovery of a type of earthenware unique to 4th-century Frisia, called terp Tritzum, showing that an unknown number of Frisii were resettled in Flanders and Kent as laeti under the aforementioned Roman coercion; the lands of the Frisii were abandoned by c. 400 as a result of the conflicts of the Migration Period, climate deterioration, the flooding caused by a rise in the sea level.
The area lay empty for one or two centuries, when changing environmental and political conditions made the region habitable again. At that time, during the Migration Period, "new" Frisians repopulated the coastal regions; these Frisians consisted of tribes with loose bonds, centred without great power. The earliest Frisian records name four social classes, the ethelings and frilings, who together made up the "Free Frisians" who might bring suit at court, the laten or liten with the slaves, who were absorbed into the laten during the Early Middle Ages, as slavery was not so much formally abolished, as evaporated; the laten were tenants of lands they did not own and might be tied to it in the manner of serfs, but in times might buy their freedom. Under the rule of King Aldgisl, the Frisians came in conflict with the Frankish mayor of the palace Ebroin, over the old Roman border fortifications. Aldgisl could keep the Franks at a distance with his army. During the reign of Redbad, the tide turned in favour of the Franks.
In 733, Charles Martel sent an army against the Frisians. The Frisian army was pushed back to Eastergoa; the next year the Battle of the Boarn took place. Charles ferried an army across the Almere with a fleet; the Frisians were defeated in the ensuing battle, their last king Poppo was killed. The victors began burning heathen sanctuaries. Charles Martel returned with much loot, broke the power of the Frisian kings for good; the Franks annexed the Frisian lands between the Vlie and the Lauwers. They conquered the area east of the Lauwers in 785; the Carolingians laid Frisia under the rule of grewan, a title, loosely related to count in its early sense of "governor" rather than "feudal overlord". About 100,000 Dutch drowned in a flood in 1228. When, around 800, the Scandinavian Vikings first attacked Frisia, still under Carolingian rule, the Frisians were released from military service on foreign territory in order to be able to defend themselves against the heathen Vikings. With their victory in the Battle of Norditi in 884 they were able to drive the Vikings permanently out of East Frisia, although it remained under constan
Guelders or Gueldres is a historical county duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, located in the Low Countries. The duchy was named after the town of Geldern in present-day Germany. Though the present province of Gelderland in the Netherlands occupies most of the area, the former duchy comprised parts of the present Dutch province of Limburg as well as those territories in the present-day German state of North Rhine-Westphalia that were acquired by Prussia in 1713. Four parts of the duchy had their own centres, as they were separated by rivers: the quarter of Roermond called Upper Quarter or Upper Guelders – upstream on both sides of the Maas, comprising the town of Geldern as well as Erkelenz, Nieuwstadt and Straelen; the county emerged about 1096, when Gerard III of Wassenberg was first documented as "Count of Guelders". It was located on the territory of Lower Lorraine, in the area of Geldern and Roermond, with its main stronghold at Montfort. Count Gerard's son Gerard II in 1127 acquired the County of Zutphen in northern Hamaland by marriage.
In the 12th and 13th century, Guelders expanded downstream along the sides of the Maas, IJssel rivers and claimed the succession in the Duchy of Limburg, until it lost the 1288 Battle of Worringen against Berg and Brabant. Guelders was at war with its neighbours, not only with Brabant, but with the County of Holland and the Bishopric of Utrecht. However, its territory grew not only because of its success in warfare, but because it thrived in times of peace. For example, the larger part of the Veluwe and the city of Nijmegen were given as collateral to Guelders by their cash-strapped rulers. On separate occasions, in return for loans from the treasury of Guelders, the bishop of Utrecht granted the taxation and administration of the Veluwe, William II ― Count of both Holland and Zeeland, and, elected anti-king of the Holy Roman Empire ― granted the same rights over Nijmegen. In 1339 Count Reginald II of Guelders, of the House of Wassenberg, was elevated to the rank of Duke by Emperor Louis IV of Wittelsbach.
After the Wassenberg line became extinct in 1371 following the deaths of Reginald II's childless sons Edward II and Reginald III, the ensuing Guelders War of Succession saw William I of Jülich emerge victorious. William was confirmed in the inheritance of Guelders in 1379, from 1393 onwards held both duchies in personal union. In 1423 Guelders passed to the House of Egmond, which gained recognition of its title from Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, but was unable to escape the political strife and internecine conflict that had so plagued the preceding House of Jülich-Hengebach, more the pressure brought to bear by the expansionist rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy; the first Egmond Duke, suffered the rebellion of his son Adolf and was imprisoned by the latter in 1465. Adolf, who had enjoyed the support of Burgundian Duke Philip III and of the four major cities of Guelders during his rebellion, was unwilling to strike a compromise with his father when this was demanded by Philip's successor, Duke Charles the Bold.
Charles had Duke Adolf captured and imprisoned in 1471 and reinstated Arnold on the throne of the Duchy of Guelders. Charles bought the reversion from Duke Arnold, against the will of the towns and the law of the land, pledged his duchy to Charles for 300,000 Rhenish florins; the bargain was completed in 1472–73, upon Arnold's death in 1473, Duke Charles added Guelders to the "Low Countries" portion of his Valois Duchy of Burgundy. Upon Charles' defeat and death at the Battle of Nancy in January 1477, Duke Adolf was released from prison by the Flemish, but died the same year at the head of a Flemish army besieging Tournai, after the States of Guelders had recognized him once more as Duke. Subsequently, Guelders was ruled by Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, husband of Charles the Bold's daughter and heir, Mary; the last independent Duke of Guelders was Adolf's son Charles of Egmond, raised at the Burgundian court of Charles the Bold and fought for the House of Habsburg in battles against the armies of Charles VIII of France, until being captured in the Battle of Béthune during the War of the Public Weal.
In 1492, the citizens of Guelders, who had become disenchanted with the rule of Maximilian, ransomed Charles and recognized him as their Duke. Charles, now backed by France, fought Maximilian's grandson Charles of Habsburg in the Guelders Wars and expanded his realm further north, to incorporate what is now the Province of Overijssel, he was not a man of war, but a skilled diplomat, was therefore able to keep his independence. He bequeathed the duchy to Duke William the Rich of Jülich-Cleves-Berg. Following in the footsteps of Charles of
Arnold I, Count of Cleves
Arnold I was Count of Cleves from 1119 through 1147. The County of Cleves was a comital polity of the Holy Roman Empire in present Germany and the Netherlands, its rulers, called counts, had a privileged standing in the Empire. The County of Cleves was first mentioned in the 11th century. In 1417, the county became a duchy, its rulers were raised to the status of Dukes, its history is related to that of its neighbours: the Duchies of Jülich and Guelders and the County of Mark. In 1368, Cleves and Mark were united. In 1521 Jülich, Berg and Mark formed the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg; the territory was situated on both sides of the river Rhine, around its capital Cleves and covering today's districts of Cleves and the city of Duisburg. With Ida of Louvain he had at least one child: Adelaide of Cleves, who married Dirk VII, Count of Holland
County of Holland
The County of Holland was a State of the Holy Roman Empire and from 1432 part of the Burgundian Netherlands, from 1482 part of the Habsburg Netherlands and from 1648 onward the leading province of the Dutch Republic, of which it remained a part until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. The territory of the County of Holland corresponds with the current provinces of North Holland and South Holland in the Netherlands; the oldest sources refer to the not defined county as Frisia, west of the Vlie. Before 1101, sources talk about Frisian counts, but in this year Floris II, Count of Holland is mentioned as Florentius comes de Hollant. Holland is Old Dutch for holt lant "wood land," The counts of Holland kept to this single title until 1291, when Floris V, Count of Holland decided to call himself Count of Holland and Zeeland, lord of Friesland; this title was used after Holland was united with Hainault, Bavaria-Straubing, the Duchy of Burgundy. The titles lost their importance, the last count, Philip II of Spain, only mentioned them halfway through his long list of titles.
Around 800, under Charlemagne, the Frankish Empire covered much of Europe. In much of this empire, an important unit of regional administration was pagus. A comes ruled one or more gaue; because of the low volume of trade, the negative trade balance with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim states and the disappearance of currency, the economy was more-or-less reduced to barter. The king's vassals could only be rewarded with usufruct. From this, feudalism developed; the vassals, who were appointed by the king, strove for a system of inheritance. This became more and more the rule, in 877 it was legalised in the Capitulary of Quierzy. Upon the death of a king, the Frankish kingdom was divided among his heirs; this partible inheritance caused internal strife, which made centralized government problematic. The Viking raids further undermined centralized government. At the end of the reign of Emperor Louis the Pious, royal power had weakened because of the flood of 838 and infighting between the king's sons.
After Louis died in 840 his son, Emperor Lothair I, rewarded the Danish brothers Rorik and Harald with Frisia — present-day Holland — in an attempt to resist Viking attacks. When Lothair died in 855, the northern part of Middle Francia was awarded to his second son Lothair II and was called Lotharingia; the 880 Treaty of Ribemont added the Kingdom of Lotharingia to East Francia, which attempted to integrate it. However, there were no connections like those between the four German stem duchies of east Francia: Franconia, the Saxony, the Bavaria and the Swabia. Lotharingia had considerable self-determination. Although the stem duchies flocked to Duke Conrad I of Franconia, Lotharingia chose Carolingian king of West Francia Charles the Simple. In Frisia, the situation was complex. Power was in the hands of Rorik's successor, who became embroiled in the politics of the Frankish empire and was allied with the children of Lothair II. Danish rule ended in 885 with the murder of Godfrid at Herispijk, all Danes east of the coastal areas of West Frisia were killed or driven out in must have been a complex, successful conspiracy led by Henry of Franconia in which a coalition of Babenberg Franks, Hamaland Saxons and Teisterbant Frisians outsmarted Godfrid and the Danes.
The chief conspirator in the murder was count of Hamaland. One of those who profited most from the power vacuum was the Frisian Gerolf, comes Fresonum, from Westergo in the present-day province of Friesland. Gerolf, Godfrid's former envoy to the emperor, demanded lands in the Moselle valley from the emperor to provoke a war. After the elimination of a large portion of the Danish population, Gerulf controlled a large Frisian part of the county of Holland; this fait accompli was recognised when Gerolf was given lands in full ownership on 4 August 889 by the East Frankish king Arnulf of Carinthia, who needed strong warlords in the delta region to keep the Danes and other Vikings out. The lands in question included an area outside Gerulf's county, in Teisterbant, which included Tiel and Asch, it involved a forest and field between the mouth of the Old Rhine, the border between the former Frankish counties of Rijnland and Kennemerland. King Charles the Simple gave the church in Egmond and its possessions to Count Dirk I of Holland in 922 in gratitude for Dirk's support in the Battle of Soissons to suppress a rebellion of his West Frankish vassals.
The West Frankish king was able to do this because the lands and churches he granted to Dirk were outside his jurisdiction. He founded Egmond Abbey, Holland oldest monastery; when Charles the Simple was deposed in 923, King Henry the Fowler of East Francia allied with Count Gilbert of Hainaut and re-conquered Lotharingia. By 925, the Lotharingian nobles accepted Lotharingia became a fifth German stem duchy. Henry's power was limited by his vassal, whose power was limited to his own counties; the rising status of the House of Holland was shown when in 938 Count Dirk II the grandson of Count Dirk I, married at the age
The Hohenstaufen known as Staufer, were a dynasty of German kings during the Middle Ages. Before ascending to the kingship, they were Dukes of Swabia from 1079; as kings of Germany, they had a claim to Italy and the Holy Roman Empire. Three members of the dynasty—Frederick I, Henry VI and Frederick II —were crowned emperor. Besides Germany, they ruled the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Jerusalem The dynasty is named after a castle, which in turn is named after a mountain; the names used by scholars today, are conventional and somewhat anachronistic. The name Hohenstaufen was first used in the 14th century to distinguish the "high" conical hill named Staufen in the Swabian Jura, in the district of Göppingen, from the village of the same name in the valley below; the new name was only applied to the hill castle of Staufen by historians in the 19th century, to distinguish it from other castles of the same name. The name of the dynasty followed, but in recent decades the trend in German historiography has been to prefer the name Staufer, closer to contemporary usage.
The name "Staufen" itself derives from Stauf, meaning "chalice". This term was applied to conical hills in Swabia in the Middle Ages, it is a contemporary term for both the hill and the castle, although its spelling in the Latin documents of the time varies considerably: Sthouf, Stophen, Estufin etc. The castle was built or at least acquired by Duke Frederick I of Swabia in the latter half of the 11th century. Members of the family used the toponymic surname de Stauf or variants thereof. Only in the 13th century does the name come to be applied to the family as a whole. Around 1215 a chronicler referred to the "emperors of Stauf". In 1247, the Emperor Frederick II himself referred to his family as the domus Stoffensis, but this was an isolated instance. Otto of Freising associated the Staufer with the town of Waiblingen and around 1230 Burchard of Ursberg referred to the Staufer as of the "royal lineage of the Waiblingens"; the exact connection between the family and Waiblingen is not clear, but as a name for the family it became popular.
The pro-imperial Ghibelline faction of the Italian civic rivalries of the 13th and 14th centuries took its name from Waiblingen. In Italian historiography, the Staufer are known as the Svevi; the noble family first appeared in the late 10th century in the Swabian Riesgau region around the former Carolingian court of Nördlingen. A local count Frederick is mentioned as progenitor in a pedigree drawn up by Abbot Wibald of Stavelot at the behest of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1153, he held the office of a Swabian count palatine. Their son Frederick I was appointed Duke of Swabia at Hohenstaufen Castle by the Salian king Henry IV of Germany in 1079. At the same time, Duke Frederick I was engaged to the king's seventeen-year-old daughter, Agnes. Nothing is known about Frederick's life before this event, but he proved to be an imperial ally throughout Henry's struggles against other Swabian lords, namely Rudolf of Rheinfelden, Frederick's predecessor, the Zähringen and Welf lords. Frederick's brother Otto was elevated to the Strasbourg bishopric in 1082.
Upon Frederick's death, he was succeeded by his son, Duke Frederick II, in 1105. Frederick II remained a close ally of the Salians, he and his younger brother Conrad were named the king's representatives in Germany when the king was in Italy. Around 1120, Frederick II married Judith of Bavaria from the rival House of Welf; when the last male member of the Salian dynasty, Emperor Henry V, died without heirs in 1125, a controversy arose about the succession. Duke Frederick II and Conrad, the two current male Staufers, by their mother Agnes, were grandsons of late Emperor Henry IV and nephews of Henry V. Frederick attempted to succeed to the throne of the Holy Roman Emperor through a customary election, but lost to the Saxon duke Lothair of Supplinburg. A civil war between Frederick's dynasty and Lothair's ended with Frederick's submission in 1134. After Lothair's death in 1137, Frederick's brother Conrad was elected King as Conrad III; because the Welf duke Henry the Proud, son-in-law and heir of Lothair and the most powerful prince in Germany, passed over in the election, refused to acknowledge the new king, Conrad III deprived him of all his territories, giving the Duchy of Saxony to Albert the Bear and that of Bavaria to Leopold IV, Margrave of Austria.
In 1147, Conrad heard Bernard of Clairvaux preach the Second Crusade at Speyer, he agreed to join King Louis VII of France in a great expedition to the Holy Land which failed. Conrad's brother Duke Frederick II died in 1147, was succeeded in Swabia by his son, Duke Frederick III; when King Conrad III died without adult heir in 1152, Frederick succeeded him, taking both German royal and Imperial titles. Frederick I, known as Frederick Barbarossa because of his red beard, struggled throughout his reign to restore the power and prestige of the German monarchy against the dukes, whose power had grown both before and after the Investiture Controversy under his Salian predecessors; as royal access to the resources of the church in Germany was much reduced, Frederick was forced to go to Italy to find the finances needed to restore the king's power in Germany. He was soon crowned emperor in Italy; the Papacy and the prosperous city-stat
Battle of the Grebbeberg
The Battle of the Grebbeberg was a major engagement during the Battle of the Netherlands, a part of the World War II Operation Fall Gelb in 1940. In the 1930s, the Dutch government pursued a policy of strict neutrality. After World War I, the Dutch parliament supported a disarmament policy because it was thought that World War I had been "the war to end all wars"; when the threat of Nazi Germany became more apparent the Dutch government decided to reinforce and retrain their Armed Forces. In case of a violation of neutrality by Germany, the strategy of the Army Command was to fall back on the Water Line, which formed part of Fortress Holland, the Dutch national redoubt and to await Allied assistance from France and the United Kingdom. To defend the redoubt, it was necessary to slow the German advance down in order to give as many Dutch forces as possible the chance of assembling in Fortress Holland. To this effect, several defensive lines had been constructed throughout the country; the Maas Line and the IJssel Line had been constructed along the Maas and IJssel rivers and served to detect German incursions into Dutch territory and to delay the Germans in the first hours of an invasion.
The fortress at Kornwerderzand on the narrow Afsluitdijk guarded the northern approach to Fortress Holland while the Peel-Raam Line in North Brabant guarded the southern approach. Any attempt to approach Fortress Holland through the central part of the country would be delayed at the Grebbe line. At the beginning of 1940, Chief of Staff General Henri Winkelman redesignated the Grebbe Line the Main Defence Line, because defending the East Front of Fortress Holland would bring the major city of Utrecht into the frontline and the enemy too close to the Dutch capital Amsterdam; the Grebbe Line had been used for the first time in 1794 against the French. It was maintained throughout the 19th century, but had been neglected since because it was thought to have become obsolete. In 1926, most fortifications were disbanded; when Germany became a potential threat the Dutch government had the Line recommissioned. At the end of the 1930s, a series of pillboxes and casemates were constructed in the area south of the IJsselmeer and north of the Rhine.
The Line was constructed according to French military principles from World War I which had proven to be successful but had, unknown at the time of construction, become obsolete. There were major flaws in the design of the pillboxes, which were difficult to defend against attack from the flanks and rear; the weapons were antiquated, many of them dating back to World War I. Because the Dutch government did not want to antagonise local residents, permission to remove buildings and trees in the line of fire was refused, which reduced the effectiveness of the defences and gave attackers plenty of cover; the trench system was based on World War I principles. It consisted of a line of a Frontline, a Stopline and a Final Line. Another dangerous mistake was the lack of serious security measures at the construction sites; the government did not want to interrupt tourism as the local economy of Rhenen was dependent on revenues from the Ouwehands Dierenpark, a zoo located on a hill near Rhenen, the Grebbeberg.
In the months leading up to the invasion, German officers in civilian clothes visited the zoo and used its lookout tower to survey the local defences. The government estimated that the Line would be completed in November 1940 and in May 1940 the bomb-proof pumping station at the Grebbeberg—which was necessary for the control of local flooding—had not been completed; because of the lack of inundation, the German spies realised that the Grebbeberg would be a vulnerable spot in the Grebbe Line. At 03:55 local time on 10 May 1940, the German Army Group B invaded the Netherlands; the 207th Infantry Division—commanded by Karl von Tiedemann—and part of the 18th Army had been tasked with overrunning the Grebbeberg within a day. Resistance at the IJssel Line near Westervoort was fiercer than anticipated and it was dusk by the time the Germans had occupied Wageningen, the city directly to the east of the Grebbeberg; the 207th Infantry Division—reinforced with the SS-brigade Der Führer—made preparations to assault the hill next morning.
In order to mount a direct assault on the Grebbeberg, the Germans had to breach the line of outposts which covered a 3 km wide area directly in front of the Grebbeberg, which had not been flooded. The line was manned by two companies of the third battalion of the 8th Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Division and the 2nd Corps. In the early hours of 11 May, German artillery opened fire on the line of outposts, disabling the telephone system of the Dutch defenders. Now that communication with the other defensive lines had become impossible, the Dutch were deprived of artillery support. At dawn, the SS brigade launched a direct assault on the outposts; the defensive positions at the outposts were improvised and consisted of sandbags and wooden obstacles. The field of fire of the Dutch defensive positions did not overlap. German forces were able to neutralise them one by one by sending two teams of machine gunners to attack a single position. One team would provide covering fire while the other would use the blind spots to launch a flanking attack.
In the northern part of the line, on the edge of the inundated area, the Germans ran into a section of the Dutch 19th Infantry Regiment, which—because it was part of a different unit—had trouble co-ordinating its actions with the other Dutch positions. This section broke after a short skirmish and retreated westward, thereby creating an open flank which the Germans exploited by encirc