In the Low Countries, this phase began when the Franks, themselves a union of multiple smaller tribes (many of them, such as the Batavi, Chauci, Chamavi and Chattuarii, were already living in the Low Countries prior to the forming of the Frankish confederation), began to incur the northwestern provinces of the Roman Empire.
Eventually, in 358, the Salian Franks, one of the three main subdivisions among the Frankish alliance and founded a number of kingdoms, eventually culminating in the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne.
The various city guilds as well as the necessity of water boards (in charge of dikes, canals, etc.) in the Dutch delta and coastal regions resulted in an exceptionally high degree of communal organization.
It is also around this time, that ethnonyms such as Diets and Nederlands emerge.
Under the Habsburgs, the Netherlands were organised into a single administrative unit, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the Northern Netherlands gained independence from Spain as the Dutch Republic.
During the Republic the first series of large scale Dutch migrations outside of Europe took place.
As they became increasingly powerful, they used their economical strength to influence the politics of their nobility.
the cities in the Low Countries gained huge autonomy and generally dominated or greatly influenced the various political affairs of the fief, including marriage succession.
However, the population make-up of the Frankish Empire, or even early Frankish kingdoms such as Neustria and Austrasia, was not dominated by Franks.
Though the Frankish leaders controlled most of Western Europe, the Franks themselves were confined to the Northwestern part (i.e.