||xxxviii History. HOLLAND.
of the canal is often considerably above the level of the surround-
ing country. The three most important works of this kind in Hol-
land are the Merwede Canal (p. 368), the North Holland Canal
(p. 405), the Zuid- Willems-Vaart (p. 454), in N. Brabant, and
the North Sea Canal across ‘Holland op zyn smalst’ (p. 406).
PoipER is a term applied to a morass or lake, the bed of which
has been reclaimed by draining. The extraordinary fertility of the
land thus reclaimed is chiefly accounted for by the fact that super-
fluous water can be removed by means of water-wheels on the
shortest notice, while in dry seasons a thorough system of irrigation
is constantly available. The principal polders are the Beemster (re-
claimed in 1608-12; p. 413), Purmer (p. 413), Schermer, that of
Haarlem (p. 344), and the Polder of the Y (pp. 314, 407). It is now
proposed to construct an embankment between Ewyksluis in N.
Holland and the village of Piaam in Friesland and thus to convert
the Zuiderzee into a huge lagoon, 1400 sq. M. in area, of which two-
thirds could be made into a polder. The estimated cost is 189 mil-
lion florins, of which 401/y millions are assigned for the embank-
ment, and 130 millions for the construction of the polder.
XI. History and Statistics.
The earliest inhabitants of the district at the embouchures of
the Rhine are said to have accompanied the Cimbri and Teutones
in their expedition against Italy. Several banished tribes of the
Catti, who settled in the deserted island of Betuwe (p. 444), were
conquered by the Romans, whose supremacy over this part of the
country continued from the failure of the great rebellion of Clau-
dius Civilis till the end of the 4th cent., when the Salic Franks,
the inhabitants of the banks of the Yssel, took possession of the Be-
tuwe, and established themselves between the Scheldt, Meuse, and
Lower Rhine. The district to the N.E. of the Salic Franks was
occupied by the Frisians, to the E. of whom were the Saxons.
The supremacy of Charlemagne extended over the whole of
the Netherlands. Under his successors the system of investing
vassal-princes with the land gradually developed itself. The most
powerful of these were the Bishops of Utrecht, the Dukes of Guel-
ders, and the Counts of Holland. In 1247 Count William Il. of
Holland was elected German King through the influence of Pope
Innocent TV. In 1404 Count Engelbert of Nassaw- Dillenburg, a
German noble, having married the heiress of the Lords of Polanen
(p. 455) in Breda, established the Netherlandish line of his house;
and a century later Count Henry of Nassau (d. 1538) acquired the
rank of prince through his marriage with Claude de Chalon, heiress
of the principality of Orange in S. France. In 1428 Philip the Good
of Burgundy, aftera prolonged struggle with the Countess Jacqueline
of Bavaria (p. 299), acquired the countship of Holland, which