A Brill Calendar: August 29
Few Dutch words describe a type of public conflict.
‘Beeldenstorm’ is such a word; in literal translation something like ‘the storming of images, specifically sculptures’. The word was used in the Low Countries during the summer of 1566 to indicate and discuss the ravishing and plundering of public buildings associated with religious tradition. In the absence of an evil master-mind planning universal havoc and violence, the metaphorical storm raged in ways hard to predict: many cities and towns stayed exempt; as well as most villages.
This discontent among Calvinist groups and hangers-on couldn’t follow a set example; being something entirely new. At Leyden, dramatic and violent events starting on August 25 and gaining decisive force on August 29 1566, may be seen as a boon to the magistrates arranging for the nascence of a brand-new University less than eight years later; since four years after 1566 a second wave of the storm, just before Leyden’s Siege, caused municipal confiscation of all church property, including the large monastery of the Dominican ‘White Nuns’ at the Rapenburg Canal.
Its chapel became in 1581 – some six years after the ‘Dies Natalis’ of the Academy – the main seat of the young organization, where the Bible and Theology were taught to young professionals; the rest of that urban complex was demolished.
The building survived also a third and very different storm some three centuries later. Deemed decrepit and obsolete by many in the ‘seventies of the 19th century, it was saved in 1877 as a municipal national monument by a new cultural awareness embodied in Victor de Stuers, the nation’s savior of disregarded architectural beauty. It is seldom that one single building in The Netherlands - Rapenburg 73 – reflects a past of almost six centuries so faithfully.