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West-Friesland (The Netherlands)

Noord-Holland province

Last modified: 2014-10-04 by andrew weeks
Keywords: west friesland | lion passant |
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present West Friesland Region flag image by Westfries Genootschap.

See also:


There is confusion about what is understood by this name:
a. Friesland west of the Weser river, consisting of West-Friesland, Westergo, Oostergo, Hunsingo, Fivelgo, Emsingo and Jeverland. This was established during the reign of King Philip II of Spain (1556-1598)
Source: .
b. Friesland west of the Vlie river, later the Zuiderzee. In the early Middle Ages the southernmost cities were Dorestad (Wijk bij Duurstede) and Tiel, but as the Franks conquered large parts of Holland the Frisians were confined to the Northern part of Holland. In 1289 Count Floris V of Holland was recognized as Lord of West-Friesland; in the battle of Vronen (1297) it definitely lost its independece. This region was the first to declare itself liberated from the Spaniards in 1572; it
was then the region north of the line Haarlem-Amsterdam. Until recently the Provincial Government named itself the "Staten van Holland en West-Friesland".
Source: van der Aa, Aardrijkslundig Woordenboek der Nederlanden, 1849.
c. The present region of West-Friesland between Alkmaar and Enkhuizen, and from the Schermer and Beemster to the Wieringermeerpolder. It consists of four "ambachten": in the west Geestmerambacht; in the north Schager en Niedorperkogge; in the northeast Houtwouderambacht or Vier Noorder Koggen; and in the east Drechterland, all enclosed by the Westfriese Omringdijk (surrounding dyke), constructed before 1300.
Source: Nijhoffs Geschiedenislexicon, 1981

The Coat of Arms of Friesland was: azure two lions passant in plae or, between a semée of billets of the same. This was said to be derived from the arms of old King Radboud (c. 800 A.D.). The number of billets was confined to 7 in the 1570's, although it was only used for Friesland west of the Lauwers.
Essentially the Arms of West-Friesland is the same, but the lions have become leopards (now lions passant guardant), and the number of billets is restricted to 5. It is retained as the sinister half of the arms of the province of Noord-Holland, where it is blazoned as "seme of horiontally placed billets or, two lions passant guardant in pale of the same."
Source: Encyclopedie van Friesland, 1958

On the Westfriezendag 2008 the mayor of the city of Hoorn presented a Westfriese flag to Ina Broekhuizen-Slot. Previously the flag had been checked on its authenticity, and it was indeed authenticated. The flag is a reflection of the old Frisian arms as it occurred in the Hollandse Kroniek (1405-1409), as written down by Heraut Gelre. On that arms are two lions regardant surrounded by white pennies; West-Friesland continued continued that arms, but the white billets (pennies) became silver. The number was later reduced to 5 and the billets got the same color as the lions. The flag became a banner of arms.

Now the big question is: what does the number 5 here represent?
The number of cities? But there are only 4 of them: Schagen, Medemblik, Enkhuizen and Hoorn.
The number of "ambachten"? There are only 4 as well: Geestmerambacht, Schager- en Niedorper Kogge, De Vier Noorder Koggen en Drechterland.
People who know the answer should write to: het secretariaat van het Westfries Genootschap:
Spotted by Stefan Lambrechts, 21 Jan 2010

Note that the flag below has 9 billets, and that the lions are not guardant (caboshed); this is the way in which it was frequently depicted on old flagcharts: it may
represent Friesland west of the Weser, short: West-Friesland...
Jarig Bakker, 25 Jan 2010

Historical flag

West Friesland Region image by James Dignan, 14 Nov 1996

Two gold lions passant, facing towards the fly, one above the other, on a blue background. West Friesland is a region in the north of Noord-Holland province.
(Source: Dutch atlas made by Delisle in 1739)
James Dignan, 14 Nov 1996