The province of North Brabant until the 17th century mostly party of the Duchy of Brabant.
The Duchy of Brabant, which was formally established in 1183-1184, was a historical region in the Low Countries. Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.
In the 14th and 15th century, the area experienced a golden age, especially the cities of Leuven (Louvain), Antwerp (both now in Belgium), Breda and 's-Hertogenbosch.
After the Union of Utrecht was signed in 1579, Brabant became a battlefield between the Protestant Dutch Republic and Catholic Spain, which occupied the southern Netherlands.
Attempts to introduce Protestantism into the region were largely unsuccessful; North Brabant remained strongly Roman Catholic. Although religion has lost most of its importance in modern life, the province still has a distinct Catholic atmosphere when compared to the provinces north of the major rivers.
When the present province was instituted, its territory was expanded with a part of the province of Holland and the former territory of Ravenstein which had previously belonged to the Duchy of Cleves, as well as several small, formerly autonomous entities.
North Brabant is currently divided into 67 municipalities. The biggest is Eindhoven (5th largest city of the Netherlands), s'Hertogenbosch (the capital of North Brabant), Tilburg (6th largest city of the Netherlands) and Breda.
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