In 1254 it received a charter from William II., count of Holland, similar to that of Haarlem, but in the 15th century duke Philip the Good of Burgundy made the impoverishment of the town, due to ill-government, the excuse for establishing an oligarchical regime, by charters of 1436 and 1437.
It will be perceived that the type was rather oligarchical than strictly democratic. Between the parlamento and the consuls with their privy council, or credenza, was interposed the gran consiglio of privileged burghers.
This ratification of the oligarchical principle, together with the establishment in 1311 of the Council of Ten, completed that famous constitution which endured till the extinction of the republic in 1797.
The oligarchical party considered it a disgrace to obey a simple boyar; conspiracies were frequent, the rural districts were desolated by famine and plague, great bands of armed brigands roamed about the country committing all manner of atrocities, the Cossacks on the frontier were restless, and the government showed itself incapable of maintaining order.
Its wealth is shown by the fact that several of its temples belong to the first half of the 6th century B.C. Its government was at first oligarchical, but about 510 B.C. a short-lived despotism was maintained by Peithagoras and, after him, Euryleon (Herod.