North Brabant

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North Brabant (Dutch: Noord-Brabant, About this sound pronunciation ), sometimes called Brabant, is a province of the Netherlands, located in the south of the country, bordered by Belgium in the south, the Meuse River (Maas) in the north, Limburg in the east and Zeeland in the west.



Until the 17th century, the area that now makes up the province of North Brabant was mostly part of the Duchy of Brabant, of which the southern part is now in present-day Belgium. In the 14th and 15th century, the area experienced a golden age, especially the cities of Leuven (Louvain), Antwerp (both now in Belgium), Breda and 's-Hertogenbosch.

After the Union of Utrecht was signed in 1579, Brabant became a battlefield between the Protestant Dutch Republic and Catholic Spain, which occupied the southern Netherlands. As a result of the Peace of Westphalia, the northern part of Brabant became part of the Netherlands as the territory of Staats-Brabant (State Brabant) under federal rule, in contrast to the founding provinces of the Dutch Republic which were self-governing.

Attempts to introduce Protestantism into the region were largely unsuccessful; North Brabant remained strongly Roman Catholic. For over a century, North Brabant served mainly as a military buffer zone. In 1796, when the Netherlands became the Batavian Republic, Staats-Brabant became a province as Bataafs Brabant. This status ended with the reorganisation by the French, and the area was divided over several departments.

In 1815, Belgium and the Netherlands were united in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the province of North Brabant was established and so named to distinguish it from South Brabant in present-day Belgium, which seceded from the Kingdom in 1830. This boundary between the Netherlands and Belgium is special in that it does not form a contiguous line, but there are a handful of tiny enclaves (and enclaves inside enclaves) on both sides of the border, such as Baarle-Hertog. When the province was founded, its territory was expanded with a part of the province of Holland and the former territory of Ravenstein which had previously belonged to the Duchy of Cleves, as well as several small, formerly autonomous entities.

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