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Europe in the Middle Ages
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Medieval Castles > Castles Holland > Muiderslot Castle
The Muiderslot castle is located in Muiden, a little town southeast of Amsterdam.
Built in: 1280
Explanation of the name Muiden / Muiderslot
The name Muiden is derived from the Old German word mui, meaning mouth. Muiden is situated at the mouth of the river Vecht, which flows into the IJmeer, part of what used to be the Zuiderzee.
The Muiderslot castle was built in 1280 by count Floris V. His objective was to take control of the trade route to Utrecht. From then on all traders using this trade route were forced to pay tolls at the Muiderslot castle.
In 1296 he was imprisoned in his own castle by Geeraerdt van Velsen, because Floris V had ordered the execution of Van Velsen's brother on false charges. Floris V managed to escape from the castle but was killed while fleeing.
It's not exactly clear what happened after the death of Floris V. It is said that the castle was abandoned for over 70 years until Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria (also Count of Holland) renovated the castle. Another possible scenario is that after the death of Floris V, the castle was demolished on behalf of the bishop of Utrecht. In this scenario the castle was completely rebuilt by Albrecht over 70 years later.
With the addition of the northeast wing in 1386 the castle started looking more or less the way it currently still does.
In 1433 the castle falls in the hands of the "Burgundian house" (Bourgondische Huis). The keeper of the castle, Lodewijk van Montfoort, had ornaments added to the Muiderslot.
Some 30 years later the Burgundian ruler Karel de Stoute stays in the castle occasionally, but after his death in 1477, the city of Amsterdam takes on the role of keeper of he castle.
At the end of the 15th century the city of Amsterdam decides to build a moat around the castle.
Later on, the drost (lord of the land) of Muiden, also the bailiff of het Gooi (the region surrounding the castle) becomes a permanent resident of the castle.
In 1609 Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, (1581-1647), son of the mayor of Amsterdam, is appointed to take over the sheriff and bailiff duties for the Gooi region. P.C. Hooft is one of the most important writers of the 17th century, and also a poet and historian. The Amsterdam 'upper-class' regularly visits the castle. In the 19th century, P.C. Hooft's circle of friends is given the name Muiderkring. The most important artists, musicians, and scientists of the so called Golden Century (17th century) were part of his network of friends. Amongst them were Bredero, Huygens en Vondel. P.C. Hooft also worked on the castle, extending the garden and orchard, while putting a defense system into place.
In 1672 the French invaded the country. The defense system around the castle is fortified, sacrificing the gardens around the castle.
In 1795, when the Batavian Republic was established, all government employees lost their job, including the keeper of the Muiderslot castle. The castle is then transformed to a state prison, and later also used as barracks, and ammunition depot.
In 1824, the Department of War had the building cleared and transfered ownership to the Domeinen, a government institution. The new owner, Domeinen fails to find a use for the neglected Muiderslot castle. Not surprisingly, a year later in 1825 the castle is put up for sale, with the purpose of being demolished.
This was met with resistance of the locals who regarded the Muiderslot castle as an important national monument. Ultimately it was King William I who intervened and prevented the sale of the castle.
In 1878 the castle's ownership is transfered to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, more specifically, the Art and Sciences Department.
There were plans to turn it into the national historical museum, but these plans were not carried out. Instead the Muiderslot castle becomes a museum, or maybe even a memorial for the most important resident the castle ever had, P.C. Hooft.
In 1895, after enough money was gathered, the architect Berden reconstructed the castle to what he thought to be its original medieval state. Paintings were placed in the castle, depicting the castle's history in the 17th century and portraits of the Muiderkring members.
In 1954, a second restoration phase takes place. It turned out that Berden's restoration (in 1895) didn't correspond with the castle's state in the 17th century. On initiative of castle keeper Ton Koot this second restoration takes place to finally restore the castle to its original state in medieval times, with a nice collection of arms, armour and paintings.
In 2003 the Muiderslot castle celebrated its 125th year as a museum.