States General

▪ Dutch history
also spelled  States-General , Dutch  Staten-Generaal 

      body of delegates representing the United Provinces of the Netherlands (Dutch Republic; 1579–1795). It is not to be confused with the present Netherlands parliament of the same name.

      The States General was instituted in the 15th century by the ruling dukes of Burgundy and was retained by the succeeding Habsburg rulers. The States General was convened on the command of the central government for the purpose of coordinating the assessment of provincial subsidies for the ruler's treasury. It was made up of deputies of the provincial States (assemblies). Originally designed to facilitate control by a foreign ruler, the States General after a time became an important vehicle for the awakening of the Netherlands' national consciousness.

      During the revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish rule (1568–1609), the States General met without Spanish sanction in 1576 and became the central organ of a general Netherlands union; many sovereign prerogatives were then arrogated to it. As defections by the southern provinces and the advance of Spanish arms reduced the number of rebelling provinces, those remaining entered into a new pact, the 1579 Union of Utrecht, which clearly defined the powers of the States General vis-à-vis the provincial States. As the central organ of the republic founded by this union, it was to have responsibility for foreign and military affairs; no important national decision, however, could be taken without the unanimous vote of the seven provincial States, the delegates of which composed the States General. Thus, each province of the Dutch Republic was sovereign; no part of that sovereignty was given over to the States General. Internally, the States General had responsibility for the daily administration and taxation of the Generality lands (those areas of the republic that lay outside the seven provinces and that had been secured against Spanish reconquest).

      Because of the great provincial particularism in the two centuries of the republic's existence, the States General functioned smoothly only when the integrity of the state was threatened or when one of the contending political forces—the States of Holland or the stadtholder, the chief provincial executive—gained ascendancy. Even then, however, unanimity in the States General was not guaranteed; occasionally majority decisions were unconstitutionally acted upon.

      When the old republic collapsed in 1795 and gave way to the more democratic Batavian Republic, the States General was retained for a year. It was replaced by a National Assembly in 1796.

      The term States General was revived for the bicameral parliament of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, established in 1814.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • States-General — [stāts′jen′ər əl] n. [transl. of Fr états généraux, Du staaten generaal] 1. the legislative body in France before the Revolution of 1789, made up of representatives of the clergy, the nobility, and the third estate 2. the legislative assembly of… …   English World dictionary

  • States-general — States gen er*al (st[=a]ts j[e^]n [ e]r*al), n. 1. In France, before the Revolution, the assembly of the three orders of the kingdom, namely, the clergy, the nobility, and the third estate, or commonalty. [1913 Webster] 2. In the Netherlands, the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • States-General — The word States General , or Estates General , may refer to:* French States General (Etats Généraux) of France before the French Revolution * Estates General of 1789 * States General of the Batavian Republic * States General of the Netherlands… …   Wikipedia

  • States General —    The assembly of representatives of the provin cial States and other corporations, summoned upon occasion to de liberate with the sovereign on financial and other important issues. Its first meeting took place in 1464, at the request of the… …   Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands

  • States-General — States′ Gen′eral n. 1) gov the parliament of the Netherlands 2) why the legislative body in France before the French Revolution • Etymology: 1575–85 …   From formal English to slang

  • States General — (also Estates General) noun the legislative body in the Netherlands from the 15th to the 18th century, and in France until 1789 …   English new terms dictionary

  • States General — noun assembly of the estates of an entire country especially the sovereign body of the Dutch republic from 16th to 18th centuries • Hypernyms: ↑assembly • Hyponyms: ↑Estates General …   Useful english dictionary

  • States General — noun plural Date: 1585 1. the assembly of the three orders of clergy, nobility, and third estate in France before the French Revolution 2. the legislature of the Netherlands from the 15th century to 1796 …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • States-General — /stayts jen euhr euhl/, n. 1. the parliament of the Netherlands, consisting of an upper chamber (First Chamber) and a lower chamber (Second Chamber). 2. Fr. Hist. the legislative body in France before the French Revolution. [1575 85] * * * …   Universalium

  • STATES-GENERAL —    name given to an assembly of the representatives of the three estates of nobles, clergy, and bourgeoisie, or the Tiers État as it was called, in France prior to the Revolution of 1789, and which was first convoked in 1302 by Philip IV.; they… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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