THE HAGUE - The Hague Prison, the two brothers De Witt political slain. A crowd would have been incited by supporters of political opponents, of Orangisten. In the crowd were also members of the Hague militia.

Cornelis had recently banned by the court from the Netherlands following a court case about murder plans on William III. Johan de Witt, the only stepped up political leader of the Republic, had just visited his brother. Both bodies are very severely damaged by the rampaging crowd.

Dordrecht The two brothers were held responsible by the crowd for the sorry state of the country is. The east of the country has taken in recent weeks by the armies of France, Münster and Cologne.

According to political experts, this political assassination can be seen as the culmination (or bottoming) the struggle between the supporters of Orange and the States party.

Orange offside

After the death of Governor William II was provisionally decided not to appoint new. His son, William was born only a few days after his father's death. Five years ago, was also approved by the Edict the province of Holland, which it was agreed that there would never come a governor.

Once in April this year England, France, Cologne and Münster declared war on the Netherlands, it was hard. was repulsed an attack from the sea, but the land army was neglected.

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Op 12 June, the French army crossed the Rhine at Lobith. Within a week were cities like Arnhem, Zutphen, Deventer, welcomes Zwolle and Utrecht. Many cities offered no resistance, but that did not stop the French do not like to keep house properly. Houses are fired, still with the residents, women and girls are raped.

Holland is still safe, because the Dutch Line is put under water. But because it is very slow, Panic breaks loose in the cities. More and more people are pointing to the then Prime Minister Johan de Witt.

This is reinforced by the peace talks be initiated with France. Even though De Witt against, He is there on looked. More and more people also want the now 21-year-old William is appointed as chief of the army.


There was about two months ago, the first attack on the brothers De Witt. In The Hague Johan de Witt stabbed.

He was traveling with his servant from the Courtyard to his house on Kneuterdijk. He was attacked by four men. He was stabbed in his right and left shoulder.

At the same time will also place an attack on his brother Cornelis Dordrecht. Four young men penetrate the home of the Dordrecht city driver inside, but are driven by the guard.

Johan de Witt survived the stabbing, but had to 1 August remain in bed to recover.

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Before the attack on Johan de Witt a man was arrested. Eight days later he was put to death.

A pastor in The Hague spread shortly after a pamphlet, in which the offender is magnified. Then more to follow pamphlets, where the brothers receive multiple charges to their address.

William III, which is largely raised by Johan de Witt and now aged 21 year achieved, refused to openly speak out against the defamation campaign against the threats and accusations toward the brothers De Witt.

Without Johan de Witt at the helm decided to go to the States General against the Edict. William III was asked again to be governor. A few days later Johan de Witt decides to resign.

murder Plans

A month ago came the declaration that led to the trial of the century. A barber / doctor from Piershil, Willem Tichelaar, claimed Cornelis de Witt had asked him to murder William III. He should 30.000 guilders to get. A day Cornelis de Witt was arrested later and imprisoned in the Gevangenenpoort Hague

In turn, accused De Witt which Tichelaar had asked him to participate in an attack on William. Also Tichelaar was then arrested.

Despite the threat of war in the east of the country the lawsuit against Cornelis de Witt was the main topic of conversation in Holland. Then last week the story went round Cornelis would have escaped, The prison director was so afraid of a riot, he Cornelis left standing at the window of his cell, just to prove that Cornelis was not yet gone.

During the trial showed that Tichelaar and Cornelis de Witt to earlier each had. Tichelaar was accused of kidnapping and De Witt did research on the man from Piershil. A lawsuit it never came.

To force a confession (without confession there is no proven) Cornelis was put on the rack. Even after torture 3,5 hours Cornelis kept denying.

According to insiders could De Witt are suspended during the 'interrogation' to his arms and legs, and then swung back and forth. The shins are split and he was whipping. Yet De Witt kept his mouth.

Earlier today the court ruling came. Tichelaar was acquitted and Cornelis de Witt was banned for the rest of his life in the Netherlands. Because he could not leave the prison on their own after his 'interrogation', Johan was asked if his brother could pick him.


Outside the prison was meanwhile buzzing. Again, the rumors in that Cornelis de Witt had escaped. At the front of the new church was stuck a pamphlet with a call to bring the De Witt brothers killed.

"Belsebub writes from Hell, Kees de Wit come shortly zel. He is waiting for him in short days, but his head must be cut layers. And his brother is a scoundrel "

(pamphlet, new church, Den Haag, 20-08-1672)

The released Tichelaar had been mixed among the public for the Prison. He claimed that his release was proof that he was right at his side and Cornelis de Witt had intended to murder the governor. A ban was far too low sentence, according to Tichelaar.

The agitated crowd for Gevangenenpoort was stopped by the cavalry. The city council of The Hague had asked the local militia to get help, but commander Verhoeff had in plain words to know to be a fierce opponent of the brothers De Witt.

Also, William III was asked to provide troops, to protect the brothers, but he had heard nothing from him.

Then the cavalry also received another from higher up the order to engage in marauding farmers, outside the city.


During the afternoon drew the first drunk and incited people into prison. There were also archers at, under the direction of Verhoeff. Tichelaar was also one of the first who went to prison.

Verhoeff wanted to shoot the brothers on the Green Zoodje, a little further, but that did not happen. Just outside the prison building Johan de Witt was already shot. His brother was beaten to death with rifle butts.

What then happened to the bodies to describe almost no pen. The bodies were hung upside down and cut open. Body parts like toes, fingers, oren, lips and tongues were cut. The bodies were castrated and viscera removed.

Verhoeff cut the hearts of the two men from their bodies, as he had announced earlier in the city council.

Insofar as is known there is no investigation into the double murder began.

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angry (staatsgezinde) tongues now say that William III was involved in a conspiracy that led to the death of the two politicians Dordrecht.

Eyewitnesses have seen that this morning three confidants of William III had a meeting inn Falcon Gate at the Gevangenenpoort. Those were Willem Adriaan van Nassau-Odijk, William of Nassau-Zuilenstein and Admiral Cornelis Tromp.

Tromp was still bitter after the brothers De Witt did not choose him as commander of the Dutch fleet, but Michiel de Ruyter.

The three would have arranged that would entice a maid Johan de Witt at the gatehouse.

William would have been three days ago in The Hague. He would thereby have visited Willem Adriaan van Nassau-Odijk and William of Nassau-Zuilenstein. Both are distant relatives of William III.

Hoe ging het verder?

The William's involvement was never proven. However, there are enough indications to assume that he must have known something, in any case plans. Several involved were offered a job by or through William.

Also, no research was done to the double political assassination. Experts call events 20 augustus 1672 the "blackest page of the Golden Age '.

Because there is such high demand by the British and French were put to peace (the English would get Walcheren, the French the whole area south of the Waal), there was no preliminary peace. Especially in Gelderland and Utrecht was sacked by the French, blown up and destroyed.

Eventually the flooded polders were decisive. The French withdrew. In the east made new alliances with Brandenburg and the Holy Roman Empire sure Münster and Cologne withdrew.


Ronald Prud'homme van Reine – Assassins Jan de Witt: the blackest page of the Golden Age (Workers Press, 2013)

Wikipedia – Murder of the brothers De Witt

history – carefully planned murder of the brothers Witt

WE – De Witt brothers murder solved

History of The Hague – Murder of the brothers De Witt

Text: Dave Datema coop Allard Schellens

published: 01 oktober 2017

story number: 17

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