In honor of International Women’s Day, I thought I’d do a quick post about Trijn van Leemput. She’s considered a heroine of the 80 Years War against Spain, particularly here in Utrecht. The story revolves around the Vredenburg fortress that the Spanish had built on the western side of town after the Spanish annexed Utrecht in 1528. The Spanish garrison stationed there came under seige by local rebels soon after the start of the 80 Years War in 1576 and by 1577, a negotiation was reached and the fortress was abandoned.
An abandoned fortress wasn’t enough. Utrechters wanted the fortress to be demolished. Unfortunately, the city government disagreed. Not that that would stop the locals. On 2 May, 1577, Trijn van Leemput gathered a group of women, and with a makeshift banner made of a blue apron tied to a broom, they set off to take matters into their own hands. With pick axes and hammers, they began demolishing the brick fortress.
The story may be a mix of fact and fiction. Trijn van Leemput did exist. She and her husband, a brewer and miller, were among the leading families of Utrecht at the time and they had a large house on the Oudegracht. The statue of Trijn in my photos is located on the Zandbrug, a bridge over the Oudegracht near her home. The statue was erected in 1955 and shows her standing atop the Vredenburg fortress, with a pick-axe in one hand and one of the bricks of the demolished fortress in the other. Someday, I may get around to writing more about the remains of the fortress, some of which can be seen in random spots like one of the underground bicycle parking places.