History & Culture Delft

In the footsteps of William of Orange

Museum Prinsenhof Delft

The first political assassination with a gun was committed on July 10, 1584 in Delft. The victim was William of Orange, the man who fought for an independent Netherlands. The ancestor of King Willem-Alexander. Museum Prinsenhof Delft was the crime scene.

It’s rather cynical that Gerards bought the gun from one of William’s own bodyguards

“I love old things and what they tell us. Like these bullet holes in the wall. You can come so close to history …” Maurice Wery is curator of the museum. William of Orange lived here in the 16th century. He just left the dining room when his killer appeared from behind a pillar. The fanatical Catholic, Balthasar Gerards fired and killed the Protestant prince. An animated projection recreates the tension of that time.

“It happened with a gun like this.” Maurice points to a wheel lock pistol from 1570. “It’s rather cynical that Gerards bought the gun from one of William’s own bodyguards. They thought he fought on the same side.” The States General forbade the making of any images of the dead prince. However, one Delft painter slipped inside. “Look, he was not a great artist, but it is an extraordinary painting.” Maurice talks enthusiastically about William of Orange.

“Of course he also made mistakes, but William was an advocate of harmony. Our dialogue culture, the polder model, dates back to his time. He also pushed for what he called ‘liberty of conscience’. I would like to make July 10 a national “William-of-Orange-day.” The collection of Museum Prinsenhof also includes paintings from the 17th century, Delft Blue and stories about innovations from Delft. Like the microscope of Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek.

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