gahetNA in the National Archives

I’m looking for an officer of the Generality Lands

What we mean by the Generality Lands are Brabant of the States (present-day North Brabant), Flanders of the States (present-day Zeelandic Flanders) and Limburg of the States (Hertogenrade, Valkenburg and Dalhem). If you are looking for an officer in the armies of these Generality Lands, you can also consult the Council of State commission books. In them you will find commissions of officers of the rank of captain and above. A few references can also be found to commissions of a reserve officer candidate, cornet or lieutenant. The commission books do not contain any genealogical data such as date or place of birth, place of residence, marital status or children. They cover the period 1586-1792, but they are not complete. However, you may well find information on the missing periods in the commission books in other archives.

How do I proceed?

Start by searching the alphabetical indexes containing the names of the people listed in the commission books. You will find these in the archive inventories stack in the reading room, under catalogue references 1.01.21 to 1.01.36. Up to 1700, officers were registered under their first names; after that their surnames were used.

The commission books can only be viewed on microfilm. You will find the film number of each commission book at the front of each index. You can collect the film from the rack in the repository next to the reading room self-service area yourself (stack D1a).


You are looking for Bernard Coenen, who you know was an officer serving at the beginning of the 18th century. Start by searching the index of names. You will find Bernard Coenen in catalogue reference 1.01.31. After his name you will see inventory number 1536 and folio number 96v.

At the front of the archive inventory you will see that the commission books can be found on film 140 (volume 2) and 141 (volume 1). Go to the reading room and collect the films from stack D1a. On the film, look for inventory number 1536 and then folio number 96v. Here you will find Bernard Coenen’s commission as a reserve officer candidate in the company of Captain Boulier in the regiment of Henry de Caris in 1711.

More information:

The name and rank lists of officers are another useful source of information on the careers of officers in the States Army. These lists are usually referred to asofficiersboekjes(officer booklets) and are available in the Nationaal Archief library for the following years:

  • Printed series 1725-1794, except 1741, 1747-1760, 1762, 1767, 1788 and 1793.
    Call number V159
  • Handwritten series 1750-1776, except 1756.
    Call number V158

You can also find information on States officers in the standard work by F.J.G. ten Taa, F. de Bas and J.W. Wijn: Het Staatse leger 1568-1715 (Breda/The Hague, 1911-1964)
Call number H34 C1-11

Missing periods in the commission books:

1600-1640 and 1664-1672

We do not have any commission books for the years 1600-1640 and 1664-1672. However, for both periods there is an alphabetical register. These registers contain the commissions and swearings-in listed in the resolutions. These registers are located in the archives of the Council of State and can be viewed on microfilm in the reading room self-service area. The film for the period 1600-1640 is no. 136 part 2, and the film for the period 1664-1672 is no. 137, volume 3.


We also do not have the commission book for 1700-1704. The alphabetical register of commissions and swearings-in listed in the resolutions of the Council of State for this period can be found under catalogue reference 1.01.38. Catalogue reference 1.01.39 contains a register of the names of the officers who, according to theeedboek(book of oaths) of the Council of State, were sworn in during the period 1700-1704.

1793 - April 1794

We do not have any commission books for the period 1793-April 1794. However, an index of a Council of State commission book for this period can be found in the archive of Adriaan Bogaers (1.10.09) under inventory number 9.


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