During the Middle Ages, when central imperial power be came weak, counts and dukes in the borderlands of the empire loos ened their feudal bonds with the German emperor and became more or less sovereign lords. After the 11th and 12th centuries, the duchies of Brabant and Gelderland and the counties of Flanders, Holland, Hainault, and Zeeland became autonomous political units. They formed the nucleus of the territories that were gradually united by the Burgundiandukes and the German emperors of the House of Habs burg during the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1548, Emperor Charles Vunited the 17counties and duchies of the Netherlands in a political unit known as the Burgundian Kreits.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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