The Middle Ages
In 1361, a knight called Diederic Loef of Horne (Dutch: Dirc Loef van Horne) had a blockhouse built at a strategic location where the Meuse (Dutch: Maas) and Waal rivers converged. He initially built a simple tower house, but rapidly – within ten years – he extended it, turning it into a castle, Loef’s stone house (hence Loevestein).
The impressive structure on the border between Holland and the Duchy of Guelders soon caught the eye of Loef’s lord, the mighty Count of Holland, who wanted this castle – strategically positioned on his borders – for himself. After all, Holland and Guelders were regular at war with one another.
Loevestein Castle was a small area of Holland surrounded by the Duchy of Guelders. By 1372, the Count had succeeded in taking control of Loevestein. From this time on, no knights ever again lived at Loevestein, only stewards in the service of the Count of Holland.
Once in the Middle Ages, Loevestein was even besieged, by – of all besiegers – the Count of Holland’s own troops!
Bruijsten van Herwijnen was a steward at Loevestein who also held numerous other important positions. Van Herwijnen was accused of abusing one of his positions for self-enrichment. He was found guilty of the charges against him, removed from office and detained.
He cunningly managed to escape to Loevestein where he amassed a small army totalling around ninety men. Some of his troops pillaged the surrounding countryside in search of provisions and munitions. The Count of Holland would not tolerate this and sent his son, William of Oostervant, to Loevestein with an army.
On 05 April 1397, William and his troops amassed before Loevestein. The siege was – with the permission of Guelders – organized from Munnikenland located in the Duchy of Guelders. Guelders did, however, send observers to ensure that agreements were kept.
William wanted to resolve the situation quickly, so he called up a catapult from Schiedam and a blunderbuss cannon from Dordrecht. After a siege lasting two weeks, the outer bailey’s walls were full of holes. On 19 April, following an unrelenting barrage, William’s troops stormed the outer bailey. A tower collapsed, taking part of the ring wall with it. A cannonball from the Dordrecht cannon hit a haystack, setting it alight. Panic broke out, as this was where the wounded were being housed. The defenders retreated to the castle.
The besiegers kept the main quarters under a constant barrage of arrows until the defenders had nowhere to turn. On 20 April 1397, they surrendered. Van Herwijnen was nowhere to be found. He had already fled…