Wolfgang Heimbach: Portrait of Christoph Bernhard Freiherr von Galen (aka 'Bommem Berend'), prince-bishop of Münster (1674)

(Groninger Museum, Groningen, The Netherlands)

Christoph Bernhard Freiherr von Galen was an important player in the Franco–Dutch War (1672-1678). In this war, France, England, Sweden, the Prince-Bishopric of Münster and the Archbishopric of Cologne attacked the Netherlands from all sides: France invaded the Netherlands from the south, England would perform amphibious landings with their fleet, Sweden would threaten the Dutch ally Brandenburg in support of the invasion and Münster and Cologne  would invade the Netherlands from the East. Christoph Bernhard Freiherr von Galen commanded the forces from Münster. Christoph managed to take Groenlo, Deventer and Coevorden. His siege of Groningen however failed. Having lost almost the half of his 24,000 army, he abandoned his allies and quickly left the Netherlands, changed sides and attacked Sweden. Christoph died in 19 September 1678. Already in the 17th century, his enemies claimed that Christoph liked the smell of gunpowder more then the smell of incense. The people from Groningen gave him the nickname 'Bernhard Bombs' (or 'Bommem Berend' in Dutch) for his use of cannons during the siege of Groningen. The day Christoph abandoned the siege of Groningen, 28 augustus 1672, is still a holiday in the city. The Franco–Dutch war dragged on for more than 6 years in which the Netherlands managed to defeat all their opponents but more of that later. This painting is from 1674, the city in the background is Groningen.

Comments