A history of the county of Schenectady, New York
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The earliest European settlers of Schenectady County came from the Netherlands. They were descended from a noble race, their ancestors, even as far back as to the times of the Romans, having been distinguished for their brave spirit and love of liberty. During a large part of the middle ages, the Netherlands were divided into a number of feudal principalities, whose chieftains held a nominal allegiance to the German emperors or the kings of France. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Netherlands, then comprising what is now Holland and Belgium, had between two and three hundred walled cities, numerous towns and villages, and a population of three millions. The great cities grew in wealth and power, chiefly by manufactures and commerce. Having acquired chartered rights, they became in reality city republics, regulating their own local affairs, choosing their own magistrates, and sending their representatives to the general assembly of the provinces.