In the Tales of Radboud Castle Floris V can of course not be missed. Without him the 'Huis te Medemblick' would not have existed. Floris is a man of many faces, but one thing is certain: the murder of his father, William II, has been decisive for his life. A single blog does not do justice to the reason for our existence, which is why Floris is given a triptych. This is part II, here you will find part I: the young count >>


Part II: the man with power

We left Floris talking to the rebellious Kennemers. Meanwhile, things are also rumbling in Utrecht and Gooi and Amstelland.

Where two fight for a leg...

Floris manages to reach a compromise with the Kennemers. In 1275 they get their own land law and that solves a lot. It also included the rights of the count. In addition, he grants toll privileges to the emerging town of Amstelredamme, a precursor to the eventual city rights. This is the first time in history that Amsterdam is mentioned. It is not enough, Floris also wants to add Sticht Utrecht to his territory. There, two parties battle for power.

The future bishop Van Nassau is still not ordained, but in the meantime he pushes back church funds and pawns the castles of Vreeland and Montfoort to the nobles Van Amstel and Van Woerden to satisfy his creditors. The latter two are at the head of the rebellious Utrecht artisans.

Neither of them is going to win it.

The Stichtse nobles and the Utrecht elite brought in Floris. In exchange for his support, he gains power in Utrecht. The city is taken by force in 1279, and then Floris shows his diplomatic side again. He makes direct agreements with the artisans. This immediately puts Van Nassau and the church out of action.

Meanwhile, Van Amstel and Van Woerden are still sitting comfortably in their castles, but that won't last long. Floris first moves with his army to Vreeland. Van Amstel has the audacity to levy a toll on goods being transported to Utrecht. Floris is bothered by this.

Vreeland is no challenge, Van Amstel is captured within a few weeks and imprisoned in Zeeland. On to Montfoort.

Things turn out a little differently. The siege lasts all winter and when the defenders finally surrender, almost everyone is beheaded. Van Woerden is not among them. He felt the heat of the moment and fled abroad before the siege. He remains there for the time being. Floris confiscates the possessions of Van Amstel and Van Woerden and in 1282 he also buys Amsterdam.

You would say that both the nobles are now played out, but Floris is going to meet them again....

The boss in Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, now West-Friesland

By now, Floris has a sizable area under his control. He improved the waterworks, built new defenses and established allies on existing castles on the borders with the duchies of Gelre and Brabant. In 1282 it was the turn of West Friesland.

Floris is older and above all wiser. At the end of May he lands with his army at Wijdenes. The small fort there is conquered and he pursues the fleeing West Frisians to Hoogwoud. A survivor from the time of the assassination of Willem II shows Floris the hearth where his father is buried. Floris is finally able to pay his last respects and has his father reburied in the abbey in Middelburg. From now on he calls himself, very optimistically, "Lord of Friesland," but he gets no further than West Friesland.

Floris the builder

To be able to keep the West Frisians under his thumb, Floris builds five strongholds in the region: near Wijdenes, two near Alkmaar, one near today's Krabbendam and one in Medemblik. Huis te Medemblick, the present Radboud Castle, is the only one that still exists. A garrison is stationed in each castle, led by a kastelein.

That construction took place at record speed. Where the construction of a castle normally takes about ten years, Floris builds the five castles in just over 5 years. Huis te Medemblick is completed in 1288.

Here, too, Floris shows his tactical insight. He not only relies on the coercive castles, but, like the Kennemers before him, grants the West Frisians a number of land rights. In this way he manages to prevent too many revolts.

Floris builds more than just forcible castles. The Binnenhof in The Hague is also by his hand. Willem II had already started on it, as a palace for the emperor he thought he would become. Floris does the lion's share of the work and completes it. He, too, plans the Binnenhof as a palace for the future: you find symbols of his royal ambitions everywhere, especially in the Ridderzaal.

Ambitious ally of England

Zeeland continues to rumble, but after an acrimony over it with his father-in-law, the Count of Flanders, is resolved in Floris' favor, he has pretty much accomplished what he wants in the Low Countries. Floris goes international.

He has been friends with the English King Edward I for some time and there are arrangements to make that official with a marriage. First his daughter Margaret was to marry the English crown prince Alfons, but Alfons dies young. Floris by then also has a son, John, and he is promised to Edward's daughter Elizabeth. Jan goes to England and grows up at court.

When the Scottish royal family dies out in the direct line in 1290, Floris comes forward as a possible heir to the throne. He is not the only one; there are twelve more candidates.

You may wonder why he wasn't laughed at squarely, but Floris is descended in a straight line from the Scottish King David I. David's granddaughter Ada is Floris' great-great-grandmother. In other words, David is the grandfather of the grandmother of Floris' grandfather. The claims of the rest are all through female side branches of the family.

That, combined with his friendship with Edward I, does make Floris a serious candidate for the Scottish crown. Yet it is not enough. Edward has other plans and Floris withdraws, almost certainly after a "friendly but urgent request" from Edward and with a golden handshake to ease the pain.

Floris V and Edward I, friends for life?

Edward also benefits from the friendship. Floris mediates between him and the German Roman king and manages to arrange for the latter to express his support for England in the almost constant struggle with France. In gratitude, the English woolpile on the Flanders mainland moves to Holland.

Friends for life you would say, but no. Edward needs all the allies he can get and secretly enters into talks with Holland's competitors: Brabant and Flanders. The English woolpile leaves for Mechelen again and Floris is left empty-handed.

In addition, he still has hassles with his father-in-law about that western part of Zeeland. The thing is: Flanders has that in fief from the German king, and Holland borrows it again from Flanders. Floris has been annoyed by this intermediate step for years and wants to have it on loan directly. The Zeelanders themselves are now on his side and he also expects support from his English friend.

But Edward does not give in. Flanders is more important to him as an ally against France than Holland. When Floris finds out about the secret negotiations, he is done with Edward.

The French Temptation

Meanwhile, the French have been preying for years on an opening to get Holland on their side. They make Floris an offer he cannot refuse and in January 1296 he signs an alliance with the French king Philip the Handsome in Paris. Floris promises to support Philip militarily and in return receives a hefty bag of gold.

Money earned and a new friend, for Floris the English problem is solved. But is it really?

Part III: so father, so son >>



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