EARLY MIDDLE AGES TO 1000 AD
During the early middle ages, the heartland of what one day was going to be Holland remained largely a peat wilderness. Hardly habited, even far less going on than in the Roman period.
It was on the higher dry grounds east, around Utrecht and beyond, that agriculture made a denser population possible. As well as trade and small scale industry.
Just south of Utrecht, at the confluence of two branches of the river Rhine, the town of Dorestad became a key place in the shipping routes between Germany and the north of France, England, and Scandinavia. With the River Vecht the main north - south route through these parts.
During the 9th century the Vikings gratefully used this excellent fluvial network for their marauding expeditions. The few existing towns and villages were systematically plundered and devastated. First prize Dorestad even time and again. The place was finally abandoned, and disappeared totally from the face of the earth.
Another backlash for fragile prosperity in this part of Europe.
Because of the Viking attacks, artificial hills with a circular palisade on it were erected. Where people and cattle could take refuge. In the low parts, with frequent flooding, such a "motte" proved most useful as high ground shelter as well.
Towards the end of the millennium, the name Holland was first used to indicate those rare slightly elevated pieces of ground along the coastal dunes and rivers. On it a few small villages, with a population of may be a couple of hundred. Some were, in the course of time, going to be the cities of Holland, where millions live today.
But already, people had started to artificially enlarge the few inhabitable spots. Connecting and protecting these precious places with vulnerable dikes. The age of catastrophic floods lay ahead.
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