Kingdom of Holland

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The Kingdom of Holland 1806–1810 (Dutch: Koninkrijk Holland, French: Royaume de Hollande) was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom for his third brother, Louis Bonaparte, in order to better control the Netherlands. The name of the leading province, Holland, was now taken for the whole country. In 1807 Prussian East Frisia and Jever were added to the kingdom but in 1809, after a British invasion, Holland had to give over all territories south of the river Rhine to France.

Also in 1809, Dutch forces fighting on the French side participated in defeating the anti-Bonapartist German rebellion led by Ferdinand von Schill, at the Battle of Stralsund.

King Louis did not perform to Napoleon's expectations—he tried to serve Dutch interests instead of his brother's—and the kingdom was dissolved in 1810 after which the Netherlands were annexed by France until 1813. The kingdom of Holland covered the area of present day Netherlands, with the exception of Limburg, and parts of Zeeland, which were French territory. East Frisia (in present day Germany) was also part of the kingdom.

Coat of arms

Napoleon's brother Louis Bonaparte was installed as King of Holland on June 5, 1806. Originally the arms of the new kingdom were to be like those of the Kingdom of Italy: an eagle bearing a shield, with the arms of the United Netherlands, the lion, now royally crowned. In December 1806, A. Renodi in Paris designed arms quartering the Napoleonic eagle with the lion of the United Netherlands. Around the shield was the French Order of the Grand Aigle. Behind the shield are crossed sceptres, typical for Napoleonic heraldry, and above the shield, Napoleon's star.

A few months later, on May 20, 1807, King Louis (now called "Lodewijk") altered these arms, adding a helmet, letting out his brother’s star and replacing the Grand Aigle with his own Dutch Order of the Union and the old Dutch devise Eendracht maakt macht ("strength through unity") around the shield. Exemplary for the innovation in Napoleon's heraldry are the two hands coming out of clouds from behind the shield holding swords, designating King Louis as Connétable de France.


Napoleon felt he did not have enough control over the Netherlands, thus he sent his brother, Louis Napoleon, and made him king. Many citizens were very happy with his arrival, they had feared that the Republic would be incorporated into the French Empire. Louis introduced the Guilder, and had a Penal Law Code compiled, largely modelled on French law. In 1810 Napoleon convinced Louis to abdicate and annexed the kingdom into the French Empire making the Netherlands, in effect, an integral part of France itself.

Long-term implications

While the Napoleonic Kingdom of Holland was short-lived, in the aftermath of Napoleon's fall the precedent of Netherlands having been a Kingdom facilitated the House of Orange's successful efforts to upgrade themselves from stadholders to full-fledged monarchs.

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