Utrecht is a compact province in the central Netherlands, at the southern end of the Zuiderzee. The town itself is ancient, having begun as a Roman battalion-level fortification set on the Lower Rhine around circa 50 CE. It's original name was Traiectum (ford, river passage), later transcribed in the local Frankish as Tricht, and finally referred to as Uuttricht (Further or Lower Passage) to distinguish it from another "Tricht" upcountry on an adjacent river, Maastricht. It was made a Bishop's Seat at the end of the 7th century, and was instrumental in Christianizing Frisia in the north. The diocese suffered terribly at the hands of Scandinavian raiders during the 9th and 10th centuries (and, in fact, was transferred 42 miles (70 km.) east, to Deventer, from about 870 to 918, owing to impossible conditions in the original Seat). Afterwards, the Bishops were drawn into frequent conflicts with Holland over territorial disputes. Created a Principality of the Holy Roman Empire in 1024, it settled into a typical Imperial Prince-Bishopric during the Middle Ages, holding a considerable amount of territory across the Zuiderzee in Drenthe and Overijssel, as well as it's adjacent city-state environs. The secular authority in the district was sold to the Emperor Charles V in 1527, and the region was thereafter adminstered by Spanish authorities. Protestantized to a large degree owing to the mass exodus of Flemish Protestants in the 1570's, it was the site of the signing of the Union of Utrecht in 1579, which formally established the United Provinces.

This page contains Local Utrecht estates: Utrecht (general survey), Abcoude (and Wijk-bij-Duurstede), Culemborg (and Bosichem), IJsselstein, Montfoort, Vianen, Zuylen.

States owned by Utrecht: Drenthe, Overijssel, Twenthe.

Neighbouring states: (North) Brabant, Gelders, Holland.

UTRECHTAn important Mediaeval bishopric located in the Netherlands near Amsterdam, and also controlling the north-central province of Overyssel.
Utrecht Estates (those within Utrecht Province; see Drenthe, Overijssel, and Twenthe for out-provincial dependencies.)

ABCOUDE and WIJK-bij-DUURSTEDE  Abcoude is a village in the province of Utrecht. It lies about 8 miles (13 km.) southeast of the centre of Amsterdam. It was one of those lordships which emerged under the leadership of servants (ministeriales) of the prince-bishopric of Utrecht. A number of these lordships were situated in the borderzone with the county of Holland, which annexed some of them, but Abcoude remained a fief of the bishopric of Utrecht. The castle of Abcoude was founded c. 1268. Very little is known about its first ruling family. The second ruling house descended from a family called Van Zuylen [Su(y)len], residing in the village Su(y)len near Rees, county of Cleves. Other members of this house ruled Zuylen (in the bishopric of Utrecht) and Anholt, situated in Germany on the border of Gelders and Cleves. Wijk-bij-Duurstede is a city in the province of Utrecht situated on the River Lek, some 13 miles (22 km.) to the south-east of Utrecht. It is the successor of Dorestad, once one of the biggest, most important and flourishing trading places or emporia of Northwestern Europe. The Vikings frequently raided the place during the 9th century, which after 850 shrunk to a small agricultural site. Its territory was granted c. 1275 (or c. 1260) to the Lord of Abcoude, who founded Duurstede Castle, a fief of the bishopric of Utrecht.

CULEMBORG A lordship, established by a local ruler of Bosi(n)chem (Beusi(n)chem) who built a small castle before ca. 1270 on a territory that belonged to the chapter of Oudmunster of the bishopric of Utrecht. This was the core of the later city of Culemborg (former ‘Kuilenburg’), a merchant village situated on the ridge of the river De Meer and the south bank of the river Lek - the Lodship of Buren is immediately to the east. Culemborg was a fief of the county of Gelderland 1281-1555 and became a county of the HRE in 1555. The city had its own jurisdiction. Whoever committed a crime or misdemeanor had to appear before the "schout en schepenen" (sheriff and bailiffs) and would not escape his just punishment; but he did have the right to defend himself, and as long as he remained within the walls of Culemborg his accuser was denied entrance to the town. Thus, many bankrupt bankers and financiers fled to Culemborg and, even today in Amsterdam the phrase "to go to Culemborg" meant to go bankrupt.

A city 7 miles (12 km.) south-southwest of the centre of  Utrecht. It originated as a settlement in the Utrecht-Holland border area on the river Hollandse IJssel, where clayey and peaty soils were reclaimed from the early 11th century. The lordship of IJsselstein came into being around the village of Benschop, ruled by servants (ministeriales) of the bishop of Utrecht. The seat of these lords of Benschop was later moved to the castle of IJsselstein, which became the centre of the later city.

The city of Montfoort lies in the south-western part of the Utrecht province, in the middle of the Lopikerwaard, on the Hollandse IJssel river, situated between Utrecht to the east (9 miles - 15 km.) and Rotterdam to the west (25 miles - 40 km.). Godfried van Rhenen, bishop of Utrecht (1156-1178) had a strong fortress built on a strategic point of the Hollandse IJssel to protect his bishopric against attacks and looting by the counts of Holland. The date of its foundation is ca. 1170. Castle and adjacent territory constituted the lordship of Montfoort, fief of the bishopric of Utrecht, ruled by castellani (châtelains) from ca. 1170 to 1281, and by burgraves afterwards until 1648.

A lordship consisting of a chip of territory on the southern bank of the river Lek, with the Lordship of Culemborg immediately to the east. It was established around 1258/71 when Hubrecht de Schenk, lord of Bosichem, granted a part of Culemborg to his second son Zweder. A castle (“Op de Bol”), the origin of the later city of Vianen (15 km south of Utrecht) was built in the last quarter of the 13th century. Vianen formed a self-proclaimed sovereign seignory till 1795. During the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, as a "free city”, it was a haven for felons, escaped serfs and bankrupts.

Zuylen Castle, the core of the small lordship of Zuylen, is situated on the river Vecht in the tiny village of Oud-Zuilen near the city of Utrecht. The roots of the family begin in the 13th century, when the descendants of Stephan I (Dutch: Steven) van Zuylen (Germ.: Sulen, Suylen), a knight from the region of Rees in the county of Cleves, started to intermarry with the local noble families of Utrecht and thereby gained an important political role in the region as servants (ministeriales) of the bishopric of Utrecht. The castle was founded by Steven III van Zuylen ca 1250. They were also the rulers of the Lordship of Anholt ca. 1200-1380.