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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gelderland (province)

< 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

GELDERLAND (Guelders), a province of Holland, bounded S. by Rhenish Prussia and North Brabant, W. by Utrecht and South Holland, N. by the Zuider Zee, N.E. by Overysel, and S.E. by the Prussian province of Westphalia. It has an area of 1906 sq. m. and a pop. (1900) of 566,549. Historically it was part of the duchy of Gelderland, which is treated separately above.

The main portion of Gelderland north of the Rhine and the Old Ysel forms as it were an extension of the province of Overysel, being composed of diluvial sand and gravel, covered with sombre heaths and patches of fen. South of this line, however, the soil consists of fertile river-clay. The northern portion is divided by the New (or Gelders) Ysel into two distinct regions namely, the Veluwe ("bad land") on the west, and the former countship of Zutphen on the east. In this last division the ground slopes downwards from south-east to north-west (131 to 26 ft.) and is intersected by several fertilizing streams which flow in the same direction to join the Ysel. The extreme eastern corner is occupied by older Tertiary loam, which is used for making bricks, and upon this and the river-banks are the most fertile spots, woods, cultivated land, pastures, towns and villages. The highlands of the Veluwe lying west of the Ysel really extend as far as the Crooked Rhine and the Vecht in the province of Utrecht, but are slightly detached from the Utrecht hills by the so-called Gelders valley, which forms the boundary between the two provinces. This valley extends from the Rhine along the Grift, the Luntersche Beek, and the Eem to the Zuider Zee, and would still offer an outlet in this direction to the Rhine at high water if it were not for the river dikes. The two main ridges of the Veluwe hills (164 and 360 ft.) extend from the neighbourhood of Arnhem north to Harderwyk and north-east to Hattern. In the south they stretch themselves along the banks of the Rhine, forming a strip of picturesque river scenery made up of the varied elements of sandhills and trees, clay-lands and pastures. A large number of country-houses and villas are to be found here, and the river-side villages of Dieren, Velp and Renkum. All over the Veluwe are heaths, scantily cultivated, with fields of rye and buckwheat, cattle of inferior quality, and sheep, and a sparse population. There is also a considerable cultivation of wood, especially of fir and copse, while tobacco plantations are found at Nykerk and Wageningen.

The southern division of the province presents a very different aspect, and contains many old towns and villages. It is watered by the three large rivers, the Rhine, the Waal and the Maas, and has a level clay soil, varied only by isolated hills and a sandy, wooded stretch between Nijmwegen and the southern border, The region enclosed between the Rhine and the Waal and watered by the Linge is called the Betuwe ("good land"), and gave its name to the Germanic tribe of Batavians, who are sometimes wrongly regarded as the parent stock of the Dutch people. There is here a denser population, occupied in the cultivation of wheat, beetroot and fruit, the breeding of excellent cattle, shipping and industrial pursuits. The principal centres of population, such as Zutphen, Arnhem (the chief town of the province), Nijmwegen and Tiel, lie along the large rivers. Smaller, but of equal antiquity, are the riverside towns of Doesburg, which is strongly fortified; Wageningen, with the State agricultural schools; Doetinchem, with a bridge over the Old Ysel which is mentioned as early as the 14th century; Zalt-Bommel with an old church (1304), and a railway bridge over the Waal; and Kuilenburg, with a fine railway bridge (1863-1868) over the Rhine. Five m. S. of Zalt-Bommel, on the Maas, is the medieval castle of Ammerzode or Ammersooi, also called Amelroy during the French occupation in 1674. It is in an excellent state of preservation and has been restored in modern times. The first authentic record of the castle is its possession by John de Herlar of the noble family of Loo at the end of the 13th century. In 1480 it passed by marriage to the powerful lords van Arkel, and was partly destroyed by fire at the end of the 16th century. The chapel dates from the 15th century, and the keep from 1564. Among the family portraits are works by Albert Dürer. Zetten, on the railway between Nijmwegen and Tiel, is famous for the charitable institutions founded here by the preacher Otto Gerhard Heldring (d. 1876). They comprise a penitentiary (1849) for women; an educational home (1858) for girls;. a theological training college (1864); and a Magdalen hospital. Nykerk, Harderwyk and Elburg are fishing towns on the Zuider Zee. Apeldoorn is situated on the edge of the sand-grounds. Heerenberg on the south-eastern border is remarkable for its ancient castle near the seat of the powerful lords van den Bergh: Other ancient and historical towns bordering on the Prussian frontier are Zevenaar, which was for long the cause of dispute between the houses of Cleves and Gelder and was finally attached to the kingdom of the Netherlands in 1816; Breedevoort, once the seat of a lordship of the same name belonging to the counts van Loon or Lohn, who built a castle here in the beginning of the 13th century which was destroyed in 1646—the lordship was presented to Prince William III. in 1697; Winterswyk, now an important railway junction, and of growing industrial importance; and Borkeloo, or Borkulo, the seat of an ancient lordship dating from the first half of the 12th century, which finally came into the possession of Prince William V. of Orange Nassau in 1777. The castle was formerly of importance.

Gelderland is intersected by the main railway lines, which are largely supplemented by steam-tram railways: Steam-tramways connect Arnhem and Zutphen, Wageningen, Nijmwegen, Velp, Doetinchem (by way of Dieren and Doesburg), whence there are various lines to Emmerich and Gendringen on the Prussian borders. Groenlo and Lichtenvorde, Borkulo and Deventer are also connected.