VLAARDINGEN - The ousted Count Dirk V is mentioned as one of the people behind the assassination of Duke Godfrey of Lower Lorraine. The victim, who died from his injuries today, was inserted in the rear with a sword or a spear, while it was just doing its need.

The culprit could be an infiltrator, who worked for Dirk V and his stepfather Robert de Fries. Presumably these 'Gijsbrecht' a while employed by Godfrey, as a soldier or servant.

When Godfrey had to relieve himself in the night hours, this Gijsbrecht posted himself under the toilet, hanging above the ground. This' Gijsbert’ had probably drawn out and held the weapon up through the hole in the toilet, where the victim was just in.

After the stabbing was Godfrey 'the Hunchback', a reference to his disability, transferred by ship to Utrecht. He is deceased to his injuries today.

The death of Godfrey has created a big shock. Despite his appearance, he was known as a man with an "excellent spirit". He was also very successful on the battlefield. Probably the Duke is buried in Verdun, like his father.

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Dirk V was driven by Godfrey from Holland six years ago. Together with his stepfather, the Count of Flanders, he wanted to reclaim his heritage. Possibly he did with the murder of Godfrey accelerate the reconquest of the county.

Other potential clients are named, as the wife of Godfrey, Mathilde. A happy marriage was for years no longer.

They mostly stay in Italy and is one of the main advisers of Pope Gregory VII. There are even rumors that the two have a relationship.

The pope has long been engaged in a power struggle with Henry IV. Godfrey was years behind the German king.

A separation is never came, but both sides were often cross each other. So Mathilde asked the pope for siding with the abbot of Saint-Hubert, when the claim made by Godfrey possessions.

However Mathilde involvement in the murder of Godfrey is no evidence.

The assassin was never caught. He immediately fled after the murder and not recovered.

Hoe ging het verder?

The death of Godfrey was not bad news for Dirk V, whether he was behind the murder or not. Another major political opponent, Bishop William of Utrecht, died a few months later. Then Dirk gathered together with his stepfather 'being' an army and tried to recapture Holland.

The new bishop Koenraad entrenched in the castle of IJsselmonde. Dirk could conquer the Palace and thus forced down he got back large areas.

Godfrey was later followed by another Koenraad, son of (later) Emperor Henry IV.

In total there are 24 medieval sources mention the incident. That is quite a lot, says Dr.. Kees Nieuwenhuijsen, who did specializing in this time period and comprehensive investigation into the incident around Godfrey.

He points out that some sources also say that the murder would be possible perpetrated in Antwerp, but it is more likely that it happened in Vlaardingen. But it is not quite sure. The fact that Godfrey after being stabbed, was transferred to Utrecht is a clue. A boat trip from Antwerp to Utrecht is less obvious.


Kees Nieuwenhuijsen - The murder of Godfrey

Wikipedia – Godfrey IV

Kees Nieuwenhuijsen wrote several books on the history of Western Frisia (man. Holland) in the Middle Ages. He wrote the book The Battle of Vlaardingen 1018, Ad Flardidingun and Battle for Western Frisia.

On this site Nieuwenhuijsen also contributed to the emergence in the article about the Battle of Vlaardingen.

Text: Dave Datema ism. Dr. Kees Nieuwenhuijsen

published: 26 februari 2018

story number: 70