The history of Muiderslot

Beerstraaten 850 breed

J.A.Beerstraaten, The Castle of Muiden in Winter, photo © The National Gallery

Discover 7 centuries of Dutch history in Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot.

The Middle Ages: Count Floris V

In around 1285, the Count of Holland Floris V (1254 – 1296) ordered the construction of a stone keep at a strategic location at the mouth of the river Vecht, the most important waterway to the diocese of Utrecht. In 1296, Floris V was kidnapped during a falcon hunt and later murdered by his own nobles and his castle was destroyed. From 1370, the original Muiderslot was restored and expanded with a residential wing facing the Zuiderzee. The castle was strengthened with earthen walls and bastions in 1576.

The Golden Age: Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft

Another famous resident was Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft (1581 – 1647), who was appointed as sheriff (drost) of Muiden and bailiff (baljuw) of Gooiland in 1609. By virtue of those positions, he lived in Muiderslot for 38 years. He transformed the castle, giving it the prosperous style of the Dutch Renaissance. P.C. Hooft was best known for the many poems, sonnets, letters and plays he wrote, but he was also an avid student of politics and history. As the son of a mayor of Amsterdam he was used to a busy social life, but in far-off Muiden found himself living a more isolated existence. For example, in one of his letters he lamented, ‘Every day is the same’. Consequently, he would frequently invite the company he missed to visit him at Muiderslot. He received many visitors, particularly in the summer. During the nineteenth-century Romantic period, these guests became known as the ‘Muiden Circle’. This celebrated group of writers, scientists and artists included Maria Tesselschade Visscher and her sister Anna Roemer Visscher, as well as Constantijn Huygens, Casper Barlaeus, Gerard Vossius, Joost van den Vondel, Hugo de Groot, Laurens Reael and Dirck Sweelinck.

The 19th century: National Museum Muiderslot

In 1825, Muiderslot was saved from the wrecker’s ball and it became a national museum in 1878. After three major restorations, the castle’s furnished rooms and the garden once again recall the idyllic Dutch Golden Age. The building itself and the extraordinary collection of medieval weapons illustrate the importance of the role Muiderslot played as Count Floris V’s fortress.

Water as friend and foe

The important part that Muiderslot has played for seven centuries in protecting the country against water and as part of the Dutch Waterline, a line of defences against foreign invaders, is highlighted in the Water Shield (Waterschild) pavilion, which was opened in 2012.

Download free E-book

To find out more about the history of Muiderslot, download the e-book Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot: Experience seven centuries of history!