Nehalennia is a mythological goddess of an ancient religion known around the province of Zeeland. Her worship dates back at least to the 2nd century BC, and flourished in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. She was possibly a regional god, either Celtic or pre-Germanic – but sources differ on the culture that first worshipped her. During the Roman era, her main function appeared to be the protection of travelers, especially seagoing travelers crossing the North Sea. Most of what is known about her mythology comes from the remains of carved stone offerings (votives) which have been dredged up from the Oosterschelde (Eastern Scheldt) since 1970. Two more Nehalennia offering stones have also been found in Cologne, Germany.
Zeeland was a contested area between the counts of Holland and Flanders until 1299, when the last count of Holland died. The Counts of Hainaut then gained control of the County of Zeeland, followed by the counts of Bavaria, Burgundy, and Habsburg. After 1585 Zeeland followed, as one of the 7 independent provinces, the fate of the Northern part of The Netherlands.
In 1432 it became part of the Low Countries possessions of Philip the Good of Burgundy, the later Seventeen Provinces. Through marriage, the Seventeen Provinces became the property of the Habsburgs in 1477. In the Eighty Years' War, Zeeland was on the side of the Union of Utrecht, and became one of the United Provinces. The area now called Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (or Zeelandic Flanders) was not part of Zeeland, but a part of the county of Flanders (still under Habsburg control) that was conquered by the United Provinces, hence called Staats-Vlaanderen (see: Generality Lands).
After the French occupation (see département Bouches-de-l'Escaut) and the formation of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815, the present province Zeeland was formed.
During World War II, Zeeland was occupied by Nazi Germany between June 1940 and November 1944. In 1944, Zeeland was devastated by the Battle of the Scheldt and the Walcheren Landings, which brought about the Inundation of Walcheren, between British and Canadian forces, and the occupying Germans.
The catastrophic North Sea flood of 1953, which killed over 1800 people in Zeeland, led to the construction of the protective Delta Works.