Frans Hogenberg: Bossu attacks Rotterdam (1577-1579)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

An engraving by the Flemish artist Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590). A print from the series of Hogenberg about the Dutch war of independence (1568-1648). At april 1, 1572 a group of Dutch rebels managed to seize the fortified tow and seaport of Den Briel, taking advantage of the absence of the Spanish garrison. The Spanish Governor of the Netherlands, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba, didn't thought much of the taking of the town (his reaction was 'it is nothing') but count Maximilien de Hénin-Liétard of Bossu, the royalist stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, correctly realized the threat and gathered an army to retake the town of Den Briel. The Dutch rebels however had inundated the surrounding land and had stopped the Spanish advance. Bossu was forced to retreat, first to the city of Dordrecht which closed its gates for the Spanish army and then to the city of Rotterdam. Unfortunately for Bossu several protestant citizens of Rotterdam closed the city gate forcing Bossu to spend the night outside the Eastern gate. After some negotiations it was agreed that the Spanish soldiers were allowed in the small groups of 25 men and with extinguished fuses. When the gates were opened the Spanish soldiers stormed the town on April 9, 1572. A local blacksmith 'Swart Jan' confronted Bossu for this treason but was cut down by the Spanish. The Spanish army started killing citizens, including the mayor Jan Jacobsz Roos, and destroyed the statue of the Renaissance humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam. When a Dutch protestant army, led by count Louis of Nassau, brother of prince William I ' the silent' of Orange advanced upon Rotterdam, Bossu quickly left Rotterdam on July 21, 1572. Engraving from 1577-1579.


  1. Very nice engraving but i wonder where the walls of the castle should stay in nowadays Rotterdam? Is it near Delftshaven because that is an old part of Rotterdam but the rest and where was the gate to enter Rotterdam?

    1. The citywalls of Rotterdam ran roughly from the leuvehaven -> schiedamsedijk -> coolsingel -> hofplein -> pompenburg -> Goudsesingel -> Oostplein (were the Oostpoort was located). The Laurenskerk was more or less the center of the city. Around 1815 there were 10 citygates: Delfsche Poort, Hofpoort, Goudsche Poort, Oostpoort, Ooster Oude Hoofdpoort, Wester Oude Hoofdpoort, Ooster Nieuwe Hoofdpoort, Wester Nieuwe Hoofdpoort, Schiedamsche Poort, Binnenwegsche Poort. See this map:

    2. See this map for the citywall:


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