The Dutch Republic, also known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (Dutch: Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden), Republic of the United Netherlands, Republic of the Seven United Provinces (Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Provinciën), the United Provinces (Verenigde Provinciën), Seven Provinces (Zeven Provinciën), Federated Dutch Provinces (Latin: Foederatae Belgii Provinciae), or the Dutch Federation (Belgica Foederata) was a republic in Europe existing from 1588 until 1795. It emerged when a part of the Netherlands separated from Spanish rule. As the predecessor state of the modern Netherlands and the first united nation state of the Dutch people, the Republic precedes the Batavian Republic (1795-1806), the Kingdom of Holland (1806-1810), the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-1830/39), and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (since 1839).
The republic was a confederation of seven provinces, which had their own governments and were very independent, and a number of so-called Generality Lands. The latter were governed directly by the States General (Staten-Generaal in Dutch), the federal government. The States General were seated in The Hague and consisted of representatives of each of the seven provinces. The provinces of the republic were, in official feudal order:
- The Duchy of Guelders (Gelderland in Dutch)
- The County of Holland
- The County of Zeeland
- The Lordship of Utrecht (formerly the Episcopal principality of Utrecht)
- The Lordship of Overijssel
- The Lordship of Frisia
- The Lordship of Groningen and Ommelanden.
In fact, there was an eighth province, the County of Drenthe, but this area was so poor it was exempt from paying federal taxes and as a consequence was denied representation in the States General and was ruled as a part of Utrecht. Each province was governed by the Provincial States, the main executive official (though not the official head of state) was a raadspensionaris. In times of war, the stadtholder, who commanded the army, would have more power than the raadspensionaris.
The stadtholders of the House of Orange Nassau since 1556 have traditionally been listed as monarchs, from which the current dynasty is descended. However, they were voted into office by and were civil servants and generals of the semi-independent provinces of the Dutch Republic and cannot really be considered monarchs as such.