LEAD - Government forces have failed to take the rebellious city of Leiden. A second failed siege of the city, because the defenders of the city help received from the Beggars. The rebels had put the area of ​​the city under water and came with ships to help the starving people of Leiden.

In recent months, about a third of the inhabitants of the town (6.000 of the 18.000) died of famine and pestilence.

Leiden is a great party erupted. The city's inhabitants mainly eat herring and white bread, that have been carried along by the Watergeuzen.


Leiden chose, Like many other cities, A few years ago the side of the rebels after the First Free State Assembly in Dordrecht. Opponents of the uprising were plotted town.

In his attempt to restore order governor Alva sent his son Don Frederick and General Valdez to besiege Leiden.

The first siege was passed through Leiden. The city authorities had been warned and had made necessary preparations. There was enough food smashed to maintain a long siege full. After four months Valdez had to break the siege. His troops were needed to repel an attack by William of Orange in Limburg.

Convinced that Valdez would not come back, refused the Leiden city council, despite warnings from William of Orange, again prepare. The Spanish positions remained intact and the stocks outside the city were not completed.

When Valdez about four months ago ther was also a piece of cake for the Spaniards to resume the siege again.

(Beelden: the Cloth Hall, Leiden)


Yet it appears during the siege that the city is not hermetically sealed from the outside world. Three brothers Speelman succeed in a couple of pigeons to smuggle in town, so that it can communicate with the rebels leaders in Delft.

Aan de andere kant, also know people leaving the city on the basis of Valdez. In this way, the besiegers know that there is hardly any food in town.

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While famine and pestilence household in Leiden, Valdez tries the city administration and to persuade the inhabitants of Leiden to strike the resistance. Several proposals to save the city and its inhabitants, which reinforces the unrest in the city.

City Secretary Van Hout and Van der Does commander of the local troops like a surrender know nothing. Earlier it was a bloodbath in Naarden and Haarlem by government forces, because these cities had also rallied to the side of the insurgents.

Communication with rebel leader William of Orange strengthens the city council in opposition to surrender.

Frans Hogenberg (1540-1590)


After three months of preparations, there seems to be shot sitting on case. In September in Rotterdam and Capelle aan den IJssel pierced the dikes. As a result, the entire hinterland would be - and thus also the area of ​​Leiden - come to be under water.

The inundation of the area is a slow process. It lasts until about a month before there is a strong south wind and the water is propelled in large quantities to Leiden.

Last night collapsed part of the weakened walls in. The besiegers who feared a loss of defenders, put it through a thick layer of water on a run.

Eyewitnesses was a little orphan boy through the hole in the wall, climbed out his. He discovered a pot of stew, which was left behind by the fleeing troops. the boy, Cornelis Joppens hurries back to the city to the people there to tell the news that the siege is over.

This morning around 8 hour came the Beggars on their barges sail into town. They took with herring and white bread for the starving population.

Still discontent

Not everyone in the area is happy with the liberation of Leiden. The flooding of the area has affected hundreds of farmers. The water is partly salt, so that the fields in poor condition remained.

The Water Authority of Rhineland Shelves, Delfland and Schieland have already made representations to the leaders of the uprising.

Hoe ging het verder?

Probably the Relief of Leiden (along with the intake of Den Briel) the past are remembered in our region. Every year on 3 October will see there are big celebrations in Leiden place, wherein stew, herring and white bread is eaten.

Yet started four months after the relief University is.


City of Leiden – appalled Leiden

Wikipedia – Siege of Leiden

is History – Haring, White bread and stew appalled at Leiden

Experience – Relief of Leiden

Text: Dave Datema coop Allard Schellens

published: 01 oktober 2017

story number: 20

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