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The political history of Utrecht.
Due to the fact this brochure is based on the political and militairical aspects of Utrecht, a brief history of Utrecht concerning politics is implemented to clearify some special sights.
To protect the Northern border of the Roman Empire, the Romans built a fort and a castle, on the spot where the Dom can be found at present. This was done in the first century. Remnants of these Roman forts can still be found in some basements of for example cafes around the Dom. After the Romans went, the Franks entered what is now called Utrecht. They used it the same way as the Romans did. After the Vikings had serioustly thretened the city, the city becaume a real political and trade center. This growth caused Utrecht was the biggest city in the Netherlands, until the 16th century.
From the Late Middle ages untill the beginning of the 19th century the city had to deal with several struggles whitin several powers, naming the continuing reformation of Utrecht, the Gilds and French and Spanish people who were controlling the city.
From the eight century onwards a bisshop settled in Utrecht. This caused Utrecht had a very important function in the Netherlands, because bisshops were seen as important people.  
            In 1122 Utrecht got the right to call itself a city, admitted bij Hendrik the fifth, who was the duke of Germany. Because of this, the bisshop lost power. During the middle ages, there had been a great struggle between the pro-Holland part and the pro-Gelre who both wanted to conquer Utrecht and its outskirts. This had an effect on the political situation in the country, and it is argued that Utrecht got stuck in a civil war within city borders.
            In 1304, the Gilds got the power in Utrecht, and they word remain until 1528.
Although the other Dutch cities were continually growing, Utrecht remained the most important cultural centre of the Netherlands. There were lots of monasteries established in the City, which illustrates that religion and state were interconnected. The parties around the city (called States) of Utrecht remained unhappy with the way Utrecht was governed. These parties got the right to control the things decided on the political era in 1375. These States were representatives from different states in the Netherlands. With the digging of the ‘Nieuwegracht’ in Utrecht the streetpattern of the city was mainly completed. This was a brief explanation how Utrecht was formed, considering the political issues.
During the Middle ages, religion also played a very big rule in the city of Utrecht. It was mainly based on the Catholic Church. The Catholic church had a very dominant position in Utrecht. This can be concluded when looking how many Catholic churches can be found in the city-cetre. You can consider the Dom as the most popular one, but it would definately be advisable to have a look at the small Sint Maartenskerk. (The Dom is officially called the big Sint Maartenskerk).
            As stated, the Catholic church played a very big role in the history of Utrecht. To make sure the poorest people could live in a normal house, the Zeven Steegjes were built. Nowadays, this is a popular place to live, because these classical spots are always wanted by people, and it has a big historical value.
In former times, Utrecht has been an important trading place. This can be stated when looking at the Oude gracht or several big public squares. This canal was made to make sure tradesmen could have a good connection and Bishop Godeblad, who governed the city from 1114 to 1127 also made a connection between the Vaertse Rhyn and the Hollandsche Yschel. In these times, Utrecht was a flourishing because of this national, but also international trade. Along this Oude gracht, a lot of families settled which included could be associated with the knights in that period, as well as important tradesmen who thereby lived close to work.  The material of the houses was transformed into stone, because the wooden houses carried a larger risk of burning. The government gave financial help in 1468 to finish this renovation. At the end of the 14th century, the international trade which was performed in Utrecht declined. This was caused because larger ships started to choose for other routes, and this caused Amsterdam passed Utrecht in importance. Lots of the elite who lived along the Oude gracht decided to move and to settle along the Janskerkhof the Nieuwe gracht. The Nieuwe gracht was mainly used to get water for the fire-brigade or the sewage system. It consisted generally out of monasteries and other big areas. After the reformation these monasteries were moved or broken down.  At present, the city centre of Utrecht supplies rather expensive houses. Think only about the Nieuwe and Oudegracht, which have a huge historical value, and are therefore highly priced. When looking at the difference between ‘old’ and ‘new’ you could see that the Oude gracht is built in a more luxurious style. The houses along the Nieuwe gracht are built in the side, whereas along the Oude gracht the houses are built on the side. And what to think about a street name such as the Donkere Gaard or the Lichte Gaard? It illustrates these streets were surrounded by big gardens, naming those of the bishops in Utrecht. Another nice thing to know: south-westwards of the Oudegracht, a regular monastery was located. This remained empty during the reformation of the city. On the Neude, another monastery was built, and this was used to control financial aspects of the city.


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