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When the House of Burgundy inherited the counties of Holland and Zeeland in 1432, they appointed a stadtholder to rule in their stead with the States of Holland and West Friesland as an advisory council.

Although their seat was located in The Hague, the city became subordinate to more important centres of government such as Brussels and Mechelen, from where the sovereigns ruled over the increasingly centralised Burgundian Netherlands.

The Hague is known as the home of international law and arbitration.When the government started to play a more prominent role in Dutch society after 1850, The Hague quickly expanded.Many streets were specifically built for the large number of civil servants employed in the country's government and for the Dutchmen who were retiring from the administration of the Netherlands East Indies.At the beginning of the Eighty Years' War, the absence of city walls proved disastrous, as it allowed Spanish troops to easily occupy the town.In 1575, the States of Holland, temporarily based in Delft, even considered demolishing the city but this proposal was abandoned, after mediation by William the Silent.

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