This guide to the Dutch minors provides strategic advice that applies more or less to all the small nations in what are now the Netherlands and the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. Because each of these minors face fairly similar challenges and options, and the territory will also be much alike after some expansion and possibly forming the Netherlands, these OPMs share this single article.
Heir to the Throne
In 1399, the Lowlands region is divided between the counties of Friesland, Gelre, Holland and Brabant, and the Bishopric of Utrecht. All are members of the Holy Roman Empire. To the south lie the Walloon fiefdoms of Hainaut, Liege and Luxembourg, and beyond the large realms of France and Burgundy. To the east are fellow states of the Holy Roman Empire, such as Oldenburg, Münster, Cleves and Cologne.
Other states that might appear in the area are Flanders and The Netherlands. The former can be released in territory originally held by Brabant and Burgundy, and the latter can be either formed or released. Note that Holland starts in a Personal Union under Hainaut.
The slider positions for each of the Dutch minors in 1399 are shown in the table below. Also shown is the number of provinces.
It becomes clear from the table that most of the Dutch minors are very similar, with a typically feudal set of sliders focused on Aristocracy, Decentralization, Mercantilism and Serfdom. Holland is an exception, being a modern state emphasizing Innovative, Free Trade and Free Subjects. They are also slightly richer. This makes Holland especially well suited for trade, research and colonization. For a strategy specific to Holland, see Holland strategy.
|Country name||# of Provinces||Base tax||Gov. Type||Aristo/Pluto||Cent/Decent||Inno/Narrow||Merc/FreeTr||Off/Def||Land/Naval||Qual/Quant||Serfdom/FS|
|Brabant||3||11, 9, 6||Feudal Monarchy||-4||5||2||-3||0||1||0||-2|
|Holland||2||13, 10||Feudal Monarchy||-1||-1||-2||4||1||2||-2||2|
|Flanders||0 (2 cores)||8, 8||Feudal Monarchy||-3||4||1||-3||0||-1||0||-4|
|Netherlands||0 (1 core)||8||Feudal Monarchy||-1||-1||-2||4||1||2||-2||2|
(extracted from Initial Slider Positions)
The Dutch Minors of 1453
Friesland, Utrecht, Gelre are the three independent Dutch states in 1453. While all three have excellent tax bases (7 or greater), Utrecht also begins with a core on Gelre, which could effectively double your tax income within two years of starting the game. However unfortunately Utrecht is also a theocracy, which means no royal marriages and a tougher time forging alliances with the bigger powers.
Of course if you don't mind playing as a theocracy then go with Utrecht. Otherwise pick Gelre or Friesland as both have feudal monarchies (Gelre has a slightly higher tax base while Friesland has slightly higher production).
Neighbours and Allies
The Dutch get their north and west sides facing the sea, so nothing to worry about there in beginning. To your east lie the German principalities, which shouldn't pose any major threat for a long time and can even be a site for future expansion. The biggest concern however should be that purple giant to the south - Burgundy. She has some strong armies and generals in the beginning and they are more than a match for yours, or anyone else's for that matter (except France). Try getting at least a royal marriage with Burgundy as soon as you can to keep things friendly.
Keep in mind however that Burgundy does possess the other Dutch/Flemish provinces and you will need to go to war with them if you want to achieve the Netherlands Unification. For that France would make an excellent ally, since sooner or later France and Burgundy always fight each other which means you'll get a free shot at taking Holland/Zeeland/etc. while the bulk of the Burgundian armies should be busy with the French.
If you plan to colonize the New World, Portugal and Castille are great choices for allies as they'll provide you with plenty of overseas support.
Uniting the Dutch Minors
This should usually be the first priority when the game starts. Take out a loan, hire 2 or 3 mercenary regiments and annex the other two Dutch minors by force. Don't worry about stability/badboy for now as you can quickly recover due to your nation's small size and the fact that you're going to want the combined tax base and manpower of all three provinces for any future expansion.
You're also going to need to either loan money to other countries or mint (a lot) to get enough funds to pay back your own loan. Be sure to disband those mercenary regiments once you control all three Dutch minors since they cost quite a bit in monthly upkeep.
You should have cores on Friesland, Gelre, and Utrecht by 1500. Now feel free to colonize, attempt the Netherlands' Unification, or even expand into Germany.