The castle and the 18 Lords of Brederode 

Foto Huis van Hilde, Castricum.

The Lords of Brederode belonged to a noble family and were descendants from the Lords of Teylingen who claimed to be descendants from the Counts of Holland. According to most historians Dirk of Brederode, a younger son of William of Teylingen, was the founder of House Brederode. In 1226 he was appointed bailiff at the court of the Count of Holland and was, in the absence of the Count, his first replacement.

His son William I of Brederode (the 2nd Lord) and his second wife Hillegonda of Voorne have Brederode Castle built at the end of the 13th century. The castle is strategically located close to Aelbertsberg, the hunting lodge of their feudal lord, Floris V, Count of Holland. William’s granddaughter Catherine married John I of Polanen and became an ancestress of the Dutch Royal Family. Nowadays one of the styles of the Dutch sovereign, King Willem-Alexander, is Lord of Polanen.

Around 1350, a battle for county Holland breaks out between Margaret of Bavaria and her 13 year old son, William V. These battles are known as the Hook and Cod wars. Dirk III (the 5th Lord) chooses the side of Margaret and becomes the leader of the Hook army. He is defeated, imprisoned and his Brederode Castle demolished. Three years later, he is released from prison. He starts rebuilding the castle in 1354, but the Hook and Cod wars are far from over. In 1426 the castle is destroyed again, this time by Cods from Haarlem.

From 1414 onwards, the Lords of Brederode live in Batestein Castle in Vianen which came into their possession through the marriage of Walraven I (the 8th Lord) and Joanna of Vianen. Reinoud II (the 9th Lord) has Brederode Castle restored to a more rudimentary habitable state as a noble man’s retreat. After his death, his widow, Jolanda of Lalaing, comes to live in the castle. She is the last inhabitant and lives there until 1492. After that, the castle is badly damaged by German mercenaries and is no longer habitable. The final blow is dealt in 1573 during the Spanish siege of the city of Haarlem. The castle is completely destroyed.

The Lords of Brederode, however, continue to play an important role in the Netherlands. Henry II (the 12th Lord), a.k.a. Grote Geus (Big Beggar), is one of the leaders of the uprising in the Low Lands against the Spanish King Philip II. In Batestein castle, the Petition of the Nobles against the Inquisition is drawn up and offered by Henry to the Regent Margaret of Parma, halfsister of Philip. The Nobles are called ‘gueux’ (‘beggars’ in French). Since this time, the word ‘geus’ is used as an honorary title in the Netherlands! It is the first step towards the 80 Years War, the Dutch independance war, that starts two years later in 1568.  Henry’s half-brother, bastard Lancelot of Brederode, fights bravely against the Spanish army during the siege of Haarlem. Unfortunately after 7 months Haarlem is forced to surrender because of starvation of a high number of its inhabitants and Lancelot is beheaded.

The most powerful Lord is Joan Wolfert (the 16th Lord). In the 17th century, he is the Supreme Commander of the Dutch States Army and the brother-in-law of the Prince of Orange, governor Frederick Henry. By virtue of owning the land of Castle Brederode, Joan Wolfert is granted access to the Knighthood of Holland and gains a vote in the States (the then Government of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands) and even becomes the ‘First Nobleman’. From 1630 until 1655 he is the Governor of the city of ‘s Hertogenbosch. In those days the members of the Brederode family live in various estates and castles around the country and in The Hague, where they’re part of the jet set.

Joan Wolfert’s youngest son Wolfert becomes the 18th and last Lord of Brederode. In 1679 Wolfert dies childless at the age of 29. Since there are no legal heirs, the lineage of the Lords of Brederode ends. The Brederode coat of arms is broken and buried with him in his grave. Castle Brederode becomes the property of the States of Holland and later of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In the 19th century the famous architect Cuypers, well known for designing the Rijksmuseum-building and the Central Station in Amsterdam, restored the castle. Some mistakes were made then. One of them: the courtyard had been excavated too deeply, because they thought there had been cellars underneath.

Today there are still many descendants but only in the female and bastardlineages, see www.huisbrederode.nl (Dutch). Since 2016 the foundation Stichting Monumenten Bezit is the owner of Castle Brederode. The castle is managed by the wardens and volunteers of Stichting Heerlijkheid Brederode. The castle is open for visitors from March to the end of October.