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stadholder

provincial executive officer in the Low Countries, or Netherlands, from the 15th through the 18th century. The office acquired extensive powers in the United Provinces of the Netherlands (Dutch Republic). Introduced by the ruling Burgundian dukes in the 15th century and continued unchanged by the succeeding Habsburg rulers, the stadtholderates were at first occupied by noblemen appointed by the central government. The duties of the stadtholder included presiding over the provincial states (assemblies), control and command of provincial armies, and appointment to certain offices.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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