Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn: Portrait of the Orange company of the Civic Guard of The Hague (1616)

(Haags Historisch Museum, The Hague, The Netherlands)

A civic guard piece by the Dutch artist Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn (1572-1657). This unit (in Dutch 'Vendel') belongs to the Saint Sebastian's Guild of The Hague, 1 of the 2 civic guard guilds of The Hague. Originally the town of The Hague had only 1 civic guard guild - the Saint George guild, armed with the expensive crossbow, which guarded the 'Binnenhof' (the residence of the counts of Holland, but after the 16th century the political center of the Dutch Republic). In 1561 William of Orange created the Saint Sebastian's civic guard Guild, armed with the cheaper longbow, with the task of guarding the city itself. Originally this guild consisted of 4 companies of 120 men each but the during the beginning of the Dutch war of independence (1568-1648) the Saint Sebastian's civic guard guild was first disbanded and later reconstituted. The original company of the Saint Sebastian's civic guard Guild was renamed the 'Orange company' to honor prince William I of Orange. Other companies were added later so that the total strength of Sebastian's civic guard Guild was about 2000 men in 1648. The Sebastian's civic guard Guild consisted of 6 companies of about 250-350 men each. Each company was named after a color (as uniforms didn't exist in that time) and was assigned a specific place for assembly:

- The Orange company, refounded in 1579. This unit assembled at the Markt (Groenmarkt) in the First District
- The White company, added in 1580. This unit assembled at the 'De Plaats' in the second district
- The Blue company, added in 1603. This unit assembled at the 'Weversplaats in the third district
- The Orange-White-Blue (in Dutch 'Oranje-Blanje-Bleu') company, added in before 1617. This unit assembled at the 'Kapelsbrug' in the fourth district
- The green company, added in 1617. This unit assembled at the Sebastian's civic guard Guild hall
- the colombijn company, added in 1648. This unit assembled at the Groenmarkt near the town hall

The painting shows 25 men of the Orange company leaving the town hall at the Groenmarkt were they had a meeting with the city council. The commander of the unit is captain Cornelis Jacobsz. van Wouw (1580-1635) - he is the third man from the right, bottom row. The man on the left of van Wouw is the second-in-command of the unit (lieutenant) while the men with the halberds are the sergeants. The long vertical lines at the back are pikes from the other assembled civic guard members. Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn had also added himself to the painting, he is standing at the top row, 7th man from left. Van Ravesteyn was a members of this company but after he was released of his duties in 1618 for the civic guard after he produced several civic guard pieces like this one. Painting from 1616.

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