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This mural on the Laurentiusschool in Ginneken is based on the children’s book ‘The Lost Sword’ by Martine Letterie. The book tells the story of 3 children during the Siege of Breda in 1625. This fictional story is filled with historical events, some of which were incorporated into the design of the mural.

Photo by Edwin Wiekens

The siege of Breda started on August 29th, 1624, when military strategist Ambrosio Spinola entered Ginneken with 18000 soldiers. When he arrived in Ginneken, Spinola had two options: attack ór besiege Breda. He found attacking too risky, so he chose a prolonged military blockade, hoping to starve the people of Breda. On the other side, Prince Maurits attempted to cut off the Spanish army’s access to supplies.

Both parties carried out several military operations. Some succeeded, others failed. The tipping point was Prince Maurits’ death in 1625. Food was running low, people fell ill and the military operations against the Spanish barely had any effect. The governor of Breda surrendered the city on the 5th of June, 1625. Spinola agrees to Breda’s terms, except for 1: freedom of religion. Breda becomes catholic again.

12 years later, Breda is recaptured by the successor of Prince Maurits, Frederik Hendrik. And successfully so, as in 1637 Breda once again falls under the authority of the Nassau’s.

One of the most well-known works by Diego Velázquez is ‘The Surrender of Breda’, also known as ‘Las Lanzas’ from 1635. The courtesy of Justinus, the governor of Breda, giving away the key and the friendly glance of Spinola, is one of the most remarkable features in the painting. The Spanish are pictured on the right and the Dutch troops on the left. There probably never was a handover of the key, it’s most likely something the artist made up. The painting was made about 10 years after the siege. It can be found in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Breda has two smaller copies in the town hall and the Stedelijk Museum.

Map of the Siege of Breda, made by Frans Hogenberg. | Rijksmuseum Collection

A caricature of the loss of Breda by the Calvinists. It shows a funeral procession of a ship underneath a mourning flag. In the background, Spinola is surrounded by bonfires in Breda. | Rijksmuseum Collection

The mural, made by Maaike Canne, shows several objects from the book:

  1. The encirclement of Breda by the Spanish.
  2. The crown and the castle: a reference to Bouvigne Castle.
  3. A made-up heraldry.
  4. Bags of grain: the Spanish army lost 4000 bags because a spy from Breda set fire to them.
  5. Breda coat of arms.
  6. In the book, the Bouvigne Castle is occupied by the Spanish army. One of the main characters in the book has to bake bread for the opponent.
  7. The peat barge.
  8. A church in Ginneken: in the book this church is used as food storage for the Spanish army.
  9. Spinola’s Sword.
  10. One of the main characters is a spy for Breda. He has to deliver a letter from Prince Maurits to the rear admiral of Ginneken.
  11. The key of Breda that was handed over to Spinola on June 5th, 1625.

The idea for this mural came from Kiek Masclee, the children’s culture mayor of 2018. It was Kiek’s wish to work on a Blind Wall with her classmates. Just before she left elementary school, her wish came true.

We’re sharing this series of Blind Wall stories for everyone that could use some distraction during this scary and uncertain situation. Stay safe everyone.

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