Brielle

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Brielle (About this sound pronunciation ), also called Den Briel (Brill in English) is a town and municipality 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 31.12 km² (12.02 mile²) of which 3.63 km² (1.40 mile²) is water. In 2004 its population was 15,948.

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

Brielle is twinned with:

History

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:

("bril" is the Dutch word for "glasses". The same rhyme continues with the line "Op April zes verloor Alva zijn fles" "On April 6th Alva lost his bottle" in which the word "Fles" stands for the town of Vlissingen, which was the next town to be caught by the Dutch rebels.)

During this battle the Protestant rebels killed the catholic Martyrs of Gorkum and Brielle has become a pilgrimage location since then.

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