De geboorte van het Hoogheemraadschap van Delfland : ontginning en bedijking in de Vroege Middeleeuwen

N.P.H.J. Roorda van Eysinga

    Research output: Thesisexternal PhD, WU


    The history of the public waterboard or the Hoogheemraadschap van Delfland, dates back to the year 1317.
    Uninterrupted management of water conditions over an era of almost seven centuries is in itself an impressive record. Moreover, we heve to state that the region includes almost the entire agglomeration of 's- Gravenhage (The Hague), the famous horticultural district of the Westland (with 33 million m 2greenhouses) and also important sections of the Rotterdam agglomeration and harbours. Altogether an area with 1.200.000 inhabitants on a surface of 41.000 ha. It is easy to understand that the last centuries of industrial revolution and urban explosion changed the face of that area considerably and also the mangement of waterconditions.

    It is supposed that, before those recent changes, Holland got its traditional shape and form in the medieval frontier or "grote ontginning", during the XIIth and XIIIth centuries. This process has been analysed by H. van der Linden in De Cope (1956), and recently been commented in the english language by William TeBrake (1985).

    After the medieval frontier and before modern industrialisation, to be exact in 1712, a skilfull catographer named Cruquius finished his detailed and accurate map of Delfland, ordered by the same waterboard.
    Studying that map to-day, one can distinguish between ortogonic, or at least rectilineair structures that only can be introduced by human decisions, and more accidently shaped structures apparently of natural origine (see map, pag 5). Now the question is put, can we reach solid conclusions about the landscape and development in early medieval times, before the great frontier, by carefully studying the map of Cruquius?

    Successively examining the available and relevant literature, and studying the map precisely, the author searches for an answer to that question.
    Starting in the dune area along the North Sea (A), he discusses the reclamation of 's-Gravenzande in the mouth of the Maas (C) and the inundation of the Westland by a XIIth century waterstorm (B). Interpretation of the Liersystem (D) at first met with many difficulties. Therefore the author passes on to Maasland (F) and Vlaardingen (G). Via Schie (H) he turns back inland to analyse the situation of Delft (K) and Oude Leede (1). There he finds clear indications to interprete also the Liersystem (D), including 't Woud (E) and Zouteveen (i).
    Summarizing, he traces the evolution of the local peat- bogs since Roman times, the existance of the old county of Masalant and the birth of the medieval waterboard of Delfland.

    Original languageDutch
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Pons, L.J., Promotor
    • Borger, G.J., Promotor, External person
    Award date15 Apr 1988
    Place of PublicationWageningen
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 1988


    • coasts
    • dykes
    • history
    • hydraulic structures
    • land
    • landscape
    • protection
    • reclamation
    • water management
    • waterways
    • Netherlands
    • boards
    • natural landscape
    • polder boards
    • zuid-holland

    Cite this