Bartholomeus van Bassen: The Ridderzaal of the Binnenhof during the Great Assembly of 1651 (1651)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

A painting by the Dutch artist and architect Bartholomeus van Bassen (1590-1652). The painting shows the interior of the 'ridderzaal' ('Hall of Knights'), a 13th century building at the Binnenhof in The Hague, Netherlands. The ridderzaal was build by Count Floris V of Holland as the manorial hall. During the 17th century the ridderzaal was used for meetings of the 'Staten-Generaal of the Netherlands' (the government of the Netherlands), market hall, a promenade, a drill hall, a public record office, a hospital ward and even the offices of the state lottery. today the duiling is used for the state opening of the Dutch Parliament, receptions and conferences. The painting shows the meeting in 1651 of the Staten-Generaal of the Netherlands after the death of stadtholder prince william II of Orange. At this meeting it was decided that the office of stadtholder of Holland would be left vacant with the States of the province of Holland taking over the powers of the stadtholder (a stadtholder is a medieval steward who represented the king in a certain territory, with the Dutch independence during the 80-years war the function of stadtholder was obsolete (as the Spanish king was no longer in control of the Netherlands) but was nevertheless continued as the highest executive official of each province. As the province of Holland wa the most powerfull province in the Netherlands, the function of stadtholder of Holland was a very important function in the Netherlands. Traditionally the function of stadholder was held by the Princes of Orange: William the Silent (prince William I of Orange) and his descendants. The flags which are hanging on the ceiling are captured Spanish flags from the 80-years war (1568-1648). The table on the foreground has the coat-of-arms of Holland with the slogan "Concordia res parvae crescunt" - "Unity makes strength", the slogan of the Dutch Republic. Painting from 1651.

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