In the North Holland province of the Netherlands stands the atmospheric ruin of Brederode Castle, a battered survivor of a violent past.
Unlike the more popular Dutch castle Muiderslot, which I’ve also written about here on Black Gate, Brederode is mostly ruins but still makes a rewarding day trip from Amsterdam.
Brederode started as a bailey and square keep built in 1282 by Willem van Brederode to guard an important coastal road. In 1300 the original fortification was rebuilt with a large keep with three square and one round tower at the corners. A moat surrounded the entire structure. In 1351, it was the scene of fighting in the so-called Hook and Cod Wars. This was a struggle over the rights to the title of the Count of Holland. The “Cod” faction was mainly made up of city merchants and was called this by their enemies in the landed nobility because a cod will continue to greedily eat and grow as long as there’s food to consume. The traditional nobility called themselves the “Hooks” because, of course, that’s what you use to catch a cod. The Brederode family was part of the Hook faction but this proved to be a bad decision because a Cod force besieged the castle in 1351 and destroyed it.
It took many years before the castle was restored, and the Cod faction destroyed it again in 1426. The Lords of Brederode moved to Batestein Castle and didn’t rebuild their old castle until 1464, this time as a residence rather than a fortification. Considering its poor showing during sieges, this may have been wise.
Being a residence didn’t stop it from being plundered and wrecked by a German army in 1492, who had come to suppress the Bread and Cheese Revolt. This was a peasant’s revolt against the Emperor Maximilian, who had put oppressive taxes on the common folk as well as garrisoning his troops in private homes, with all the trouble that can cause. The revolt got the support of many local merchants and noblemen, and the castle was briefly held by the rebels until the main German army showed up.
Brederode Castle was wrecked again by the Spaniards in 1573 during the long and grueling Dutch fight for independence from Spain. This was the castle’s death blow, and Brederode suffered a long period of decline and eventual abandonment until modern times, when it was partially restored and opened to the public. A walk through the ruins makes for an evocative couple of hours. There’s a small display about the castle’s history and you can climb to the top of the keep for a fine view of the layout and surrounding countryside.
All photos copyright Sean McLachlan. More below!
Sean McLachlan is the author of the historical fantasy novel A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri, and several other titles, including his post-apocalyptic series Toxic World that starts with the novel Radio Hope. His historical fantasy novella The Quintessence of Absence, was published by Black Gate. Find out more about him on his blog and Amazon author’s page.