P&O Mini-Cruise, Delft – Churches and Execution

Delft Market Square

Just why a city that already had one massive church needed another one seems rather odd to me, perhaps the Protestant City officials thought they should have one more than the Roman Catholics whose own massive church stands close by.

The New Church is the burial place of the Princes’ of Orange and contains the allegorical monument to William the Silent, designed and built by by Hendrik de Keyser about 1621, and also the tomb of Hugo Grotius, born in Delft in 1583 and responsible for drafting early international law and whose statue stands in the market-place outside the church.

William of Orange is the great hero of the Netherlands on account of the fact that he was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against Phillip II of Spain that began the Eighty Years’ War and resulted in defeat for Spain and the independence of the United Provinces in 1648.

Phillip II declared William an outlaw and offered a substantial reward for his death and a Catholic Frenchman, Balthasar Gérard, travelled to Delft with the intention of collecting the reward and shot and killed William at his home.  This was unfortunate for William but at least he died quickly with two gunshot wounds to the chest.  His assassin did not die quite so quickly… he was caught and tortured in a fashion considered brutal even by the standards of the day.  I cannot imagine what sort of person thought up the various unpleasantries but my favourite is the shrinking shoes.  He was forced to wear boots two sizes too small made of untreated leather which were then heated by a fire until they shrunk and crushed his feet!

After the torture came the execution.  The sentencing magistrates decreed that his right hand should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disembowelled alive and that his heart should be torn from his chest and thrown in his face.

Now, I imagine that this was all excruciatingly painful and the latter parts of the punishment rather unnecessary because, although I am not a medical expert, I suspect that the shock of having your liver and kidneys removed and piled up on your chest would be rather distressing and probably be quite enough to finish the job.  Just to make absolutely sure however when all this amateur surgery, butchery and ritual disembowelling was over they cut off his head for good measure!


We visited the inside of the Nieuwe Kerk and saw the tomb of William the Silent and read the interesting history about the House of Orange and the Dutch Royal Family and when we had finished the tour and went outside the sun was shining again and there was a halo of blue sky directly over the market place, just perfect for last minute pictures.

It was almost time to leave now so we made the purchases that we had decided upon this morning from the Royal Delft shop and the cheese store next door and then we made our way back to the railway station but very quickly the blue sky disappeared and some dark clouds swooped in and it started to rain and we had to take shelter under our inadequate umbrellas.  It was a cold stinging rain with a sharp wind, like little needles in our faces so we walked as quickly as we could and made our way to the shelter of the platform and waited for the train back to Rotterdam.

Delft Market Place the Netherlands

Back in the city there was still an hour or so before the bus would take us back to the Europort so our intention was to do some speed sightseeing of Rotterdam but it was raining hard now and it was frequently turning to sleet so we abandoned that idea quite quickly and looked instead for a bar to shelter.  We were in the business district so finding somewhere traditional proved quite difficult but eventually found an Irish bar (everywhere has an Irish bar) where we sat down with a beer and a sandwich.

This turned out to be rather expensive and this was a bit of a shock but prices here reflect the standard of living in the Netherlands, which is high because it is now one of the most prosperous countries in the World and according to the latest United Nations index on Human Development (2011) has moved up four places into third position just behind Norway and Australia and according to the IMF it is the ninth wealthiest country in the World.

Money creates happiness (in my opinion) and despite the fact that 20% of the population live below sea level, which would worry me, it is ranked as one of the happiest country in Europe in the Happy Planet Index; it has won theEurovision Song Contest four times (1957, 1959, 1969 and 1975) but has a less enviable record in the football World Cup where they have been beaten finalists three times (1974, 1978 and 2010).

The time ticked by towards five o’clock so when there was break in the showers we made a dash for the bus station where our coach was already waiting and we were glad to get on board because by now it was beginning to snow.



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