Monday 28 August 2023

The 'Father of the Netherlands': visiting the scene of an assassination

William the Silent, who led the Dutch Revolt against Catholic Spain in the sixteenth century, is often known as the 'Father of the Netherlands'.  

I had written about his murder in my book Assassins' Deeds (Reaktion). How a fanatical Catholic named Balthasar Gerard had wormed his way into the Protestant William's confidence. How on 10 July 1584, Gerard had gone on an errand to the Dutch leader's house in Delft, and waited while William had lunch with his family. And how Gerard hid beneath a staircase and then, as William emerged, shot him dead at point blank range. 

So it was sobering and intriguing to stand on the very spot where this dramatic assassination happened. William's house is now the Prinsenhof Museum (pictured), and the hallway and staircase clearly recognisable from the accounts I had read.

Gerard tried to get away, but was caught and executed brutally. The Netherlands would have to fight on until 1648 to gain their independence in what became known as the Eighty Years War.

Friday 18 August 2023

Memory Lane: interviewing people looking for work in 1975

Those nice people from MACE, the Media Archive of Central England, have just posted a television report I did for 'ATV Today' (the news programme that covered the English Midlands) on 25 July 1975. Interviewing people in Birmingham looking for work