Last updated

Brielle vesting 20050518.jpg
Historic city centre
Flag of Brielle.svg
Brielle wapen.svg
Coat of arms
Map - NL - Municipality code 0501 (2009).svg
Location in South Holland
Coordinates: 51°54′N4°10′E / 51.900°N 4.167°E / 51.900; 4.167 Coordinates: 51°54′N4°10′E / 51.900°N 4.167°E / 51.900; 4.167
Country Netherlands
Province South Holland
  Body Municipal council
   Mayor Gregor Rensen (PvdA)
  Total31.14 km2 (12.02 sq mi)
  Land27.56 km2 (10.64 sq mi)
  Water3.58 km2 (1.38 sq mi)
2 m (7 ft)
 (January 2019) [4]
  Density623/km2 (1,610/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Briellenaar
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code 0181
Dutch Topographic map of Brielle, June 2015 Gem-Brielle-OpenTopo.jpg
Dutch Topographic map of Brielle, June 2015

Brielle (pronounced [ˈbrilə] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )), also called Den Briel (Brill in English) is a town, municipality and historic seaport in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland, on the north side of the island of Voorne-Putten, at the mouth of the New Maas. The municipality covers an area of 31.14 km2 (12.02 sq mi) of which 3.58 km2 (1.38 sq mi) is water. In 2019 its population was 17,182.


The municipality of Brielle also includes the communities Vierpolders and Zwartewaal.


Brielle is a very old, fortified town. Its name is derived from the Celtic word brogilo (meaning "closed area" or "hunting grounds"). The oldest writings about Brielle indicate that the current location is the "new" Brielle. Den ouden Briel (Old Brill) must have been situated somewhere else on the Voorne-Putten Island. It received city rights in 1306. The city was for a long time the seat of the Count of Voorne, until this fiefdom was added to Holland in 1371. It had its own harbour and traded with the countries around the Baltic Sea. Brielle even had its own trading colony in Sweden.

During the Eighty Years' War between the Netherlands and Spain, the Capture of Brielle on April 1, 1572, by Protestant rebels, the Watergeuzen, marked a turning point in the conflict, as many towns in Holland then began to support William of Orange against the Spanish Duke Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba who was sent to pacify The Netherlands. This event is still celebrated each year on April 1 and the night before (known as Chalk Night (kalknacht) when the city is defaced with chalk - and now also white paint). Dutch students are taught a short rhyme to remember this fact, which rhyme refers to April Fools' Day:

Op 1 april verloor Alva zijn bril.
Op April zes verloor Alva zijn fles

On April 1st, Alva lost his glasses
On April 6th Alva lost his bottle

In Dutch, "bril" is the word for "glasses," and it closely rhymes with Briel; as does "Fles" which stands for the town of Vlissingen, and was the next town to be captured by the Dutch rebels.

After the capture of Brielle the Protestant rebels tortured and murdered the Catholic Martyrs of Gorkum and Brielle has become a pilgrimage location since then.

In August 1585, Brielle was one of the four Dutch towns that became an English possession by the Treaty of Nonsuch when Queen Elizabeth I received it as security of payment for 5000 soldiers (led by the Earl of Leicester) and used by the Dutch in their struggle against the Spanish. The first English governor of Brielle was Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, succeed by Edward Conway, 1st Viscount Conway who named his daughter Brilliana in honour of the city. English garrisons were stationed here and at Flushing. [5] In 1617, these cities returned to the Netherlands.

Twin cities

Brielle is twinned with:

Notable people

Witte Cornelisz de With Witte Cornelisz de With (1599-1658), by Abraham van Westerveldt.jpg
Witte Cornelisz de With

See also

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Brill may refer to:

Geuzen rebels who opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands during the Eighty Years War

Geuzen was a name assumed by the confederacy of Calvinist Dutch nobles, who from 1566 opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands. The most successful group of them operated at sea, and so were called Watergeuzen. In the Eighty Years' War, the Capture of Brielle by the Watergeuzen in 1572 provided the first foothold on land for the rebels, who would conquer the northern Netherlands and establish an independent Dutch Republic. They can be considered either as privateers or pirates, depending on the circumstances or motivations.

Voorne-Putten Regio in Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Voorne-Putten is an island between the North Sea, the Brielse meer and the rivers Oude Maas, Spui and Haringvliet in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. Voorne-Putten consists of the two former islands Voorne and Putten. It used to be separated by the river Bernisse which silted up and made the two islands one. It has 160,000 inhabitants (2008). Recently the riverbed has been dredged, and the two islands have been reformed.

Martyrs of Gorkum Christian martyrs

The Martyrs of Gorkum were a group of 19 Dutch Catholic clerics, secular & religious, who were hanged on 9 July 1572 in the town of Brielle by militant Dutch Calvinists during the 16th century religious wars—specifically, the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule, which developed into the Eighty Years' War.

Zwartewaal Town in Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Zwartewaal is a village in the Dutch province of South Holland, The Netherlands. It is a part of the municipality of Brielle and lies about 5 km south of Maassluis.

Capture of Brielle

The Capture of Brielle by the Watergeuzen, on 1 April 1572 marked a turning point in the uprising of the Low Countries against Spain in the Eighty Years' War. Militarily the success was minor as the port of Brielle was undefended, but it provided the first foothold on land for the rebels at a time when the rebellion was all but crushed, and it offered the sign for a new revolt throughout the Netherlands which led to the formation of the Dutch Republic.

Stenen Baak lighthouse in Westvoorne, Netherlands

Stenen Baak is a now-deactivated lighthouse northeast of Oostvoorne, near to the town of Brielle, in the Dutch province of South Holland. In several nautical sources of the 19th Century it is also referred to as Stone Beacon or Stone Baak. It protected the entrance to the Brielle harbour, a safe haven protecting ships from the tides and waters of the North Sea. The harbour is formed by the island of Voorne-Putten and the Brielse meer and the rivers Oude Maas, Spui and Haringvliet. Brielle received city rights in 1306, developed the harbour during this time up until the fiefdom was added to Holland in 1371. The lighthouse itself was added in 1650. A fixed light during its time of operation, the lighthouse was visible in good weather up to a distance of four miles. It was deactivated in 1850.

Nissewaard Municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Nissewaard is a municipality in the Netherlands, located on the island of Voorne-Putten, in the south of the province of South Holland. It was created through a merger of the municipalities of Spijkenisse and Bernisse on 1 January 2015.

The Cautionary Towns, three towns in the Dutch Republic garrisoned by English troops from 1585, were named for being given to Queen Elizabeth I as security for the Dutch rebels repaying her for assisting the Dutch revolt. The towns were Brielle (Briel), Vlissingen (Flushing) and Fort Rammekens on the island of Walcheren.

Willem Bloys van Treslong

Willem Bloys van Treslong was a nobleman from the Southern Netherlands and military leader during the Dutch war of Independence. He was best known as one of the leaders of the Sea Beggars who captured Den Briel on 1 April 1572.

Massacre of Naarden

The Massacre of Naarden was an episode of mass murder and looting that took place in the Dutch city of Naarden during the Eighty Years' War. The massacre was committed by Spanish soldiers under the command of Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo against the townspeople of Naarden as part of a punitive expedition against Dutch rebels later known as the Spanish Fury. The destruction of the city galvanized the Dutch rebels, leading them to continue the Dutch War of Independence against Spain.


  1. "College van B & W" [Board of mayor and aldermen]. Bestuur, organisatie en beleid (in Dutch). Gemeente Brielle. Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  2. "Kerncijfers wijken en buurten" [Key figures for neighbourhoods]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  3. "Postcodetool for 3231AP". Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (in Dutch). Het Waterschapshuis. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  4. "Bevolkingsontwikkeling; regio per maand" [Population growth; regions per month]. CBS Statline (in Dutch). CBS. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  5. Garrett Mattingly (1959), The Armada , Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Ch. V, "Plans of Operations", p. 44.