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Tableau Historique et Politique des Pays-Bas et des XVII Provinces manuscript

 Collection — Container: 1
Identifier: MS-0220

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of a photograph (1950's) of the Countess Marie Caroline d'Ursel, a letter with a hand-drawn coat of arms and a 300 page document entitled "Tableau Historique et Politique des Pays-Bas et des XVII Provinces." The letter is a brief note written on the back of the drawing of the coat of arms. The "Tableau" is in French and has not been completely translated. The author and date it was written are unknown, but it appears to have been written in the late 1750's. It is a review of Austrian control of the Low Countries. It includes historical references to the region beginning with the 14th century. The "Tableau" was possibly meant as background for treaty negotiations. It gives an interesting view of Austrian thinking on the situation in the Low Countries during the Seven Years War. Especially interesting is the analysis in Chapter 25 of the Joyeuse Entree, the medieval charter confirmed in 1356, on which the autonomy of the Netherlands rests. The "Tableau" is divided into 25 chapters reviewing the major political developments in the history of the Low Countries up to 1759. Each chapter is sub-divided into articles.


  • Creation: 1750-1950

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Historically, the Low Countries included not only the territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands but also what is now Belgium as well as parts of Northeastern France and Luxembourg.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Low Countries were controlled by the dukes of Burgundy and their successors, the Habsburgs. In the 16th century, Charles V was ruler of the Netherlands (1506-1555) as well as the Holy Roman emperor and king of Spain. Charles V formally united the 17 provinces and the duchy of Burgundy in the "Burgundian circle" within the Holy Roman Empire. In 1579, the northern provinces declared their independence from Spain. The northern provinces came to be known as the United Provinces. The southern provinces including part of what was to be known as Belgium remained under the control of Spain.

The division of the Low Countries at the end of the 16th century emphasized the religious and economic differences between north and south. The south under Spanish rule became almost exclusively Catholic while the northern provinces embraced Calvinism. The northern provinces prospered through trade and commerce while the southern provinces suffered from wars and Spanish taxes.

After the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713), the partition of the Spanish empire in the Treaty of Utrecht gave the southern Netherlands to the Austrian Hapsburgs ruled by Charles VI. Belgium became known as the Austrian Netherlands. At the same time, the Dutch republic was given the right to maintain garrisons in Belgium as a barrier against France.

Maria Theresa succeeded Charles VI in 1740. She ruled the provinces through governors in Brussels. Maria Theresa initiated attempts to restore the economy and instituted political and cultural reforms. She obtained acceptance from the Belgium subjects and was faithful to the principles of the Joyeuse Entree charter which protected their civil liberties. The Joyeuse Entree was granted to the duchy of Brabant in 1356 on a ceremonial first visit by Wenceslas, duke of Luxembourg, and his wife, Johanna. It confirmed the individual rights of the Brabacons. The charter became a model for other Netherlands provinces and the foundation for their civil rights. Emperor Joseph II, successor to Maria Theresa, made an ill-advised attempt to abrogate this charter which led to Brabant's revolt in 1789.

The area continued to be the focus of French expansion and of commercial rivalry between England and the Dutch republic. In 1744, the War of the Austrian Succession spread to Belgium and the country was invaded by the French. Louis XV took possession of Belgium but it was restored to Maria Theresa by the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. The Franco-Austrian Alliances of 1756 and 1757 established a period of conciliation between the former rivals which became an offensive alliance during the Seven Years War (1756-1763).


0.24 Cubic Feet (1 legal half-size document box)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of a a 300 page document entitled "Tableau Historique et Politique des Pays-Bas et des XVII Provinces" circa 1750s, a photograph (1950s) of the Countess Marie Caroline d'Ursel, a letter with a hand-drawn coat of arms.


The history, letter, and photograph were given to the University by Robert Murphy in March 1989. The accession number is 88- 89.44. The history, with the letter and photograph in it, was given to Murphy September 10, 1963 by Countess Marie Caroline d'Ursel of Brussels, Belgium. The Countess received the history from her father, Conrard [sic] d'Ursel on March 4, 1952. The history according to family legend was discovered by Conrard's grandfather, Count Hymard d'Ursel.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in June 1989.

Tableau Historique et Politique des Pays-Bas et des XVII Provinces manuscript
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
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