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.
As the captial of the ancient district of Kennemerland between den Helder and Haarlem, Alkmaar frequently suffered in the early wars between the Hollanders and the Frisians, and in 1517 was captured by the united Gelderlanders and Frisians.
Dordrecht, Leiden, Haarlem, Delft, Vlaardigen, Rotterdam in Holland, and Middleburg and Zierikzee in Zeeland, repeated with modifications the characteristics of the communes of Flanders and Brabant.
The primatial see was placed at Malines (Mechlin), having under it Antwerp, Hertogenbosch, Roermond, Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres constituting the Flemish province; the second archbishopric was at Cambray, with Tournay, Arras, St Omer, and Namur, - the Walloon province; the third at Utrecht, with Haarlem, Middleburg, Leeuwarden, Groningen and Deventer, - the northern (Dutch) province.
The famous defence of Haarlem, lasting through the winter of 1572 to July 1573, cost the besiegers 12,000 lives, and gave of the insurgent provinces time to breathe.