Of course Gouda has existed for much longer than 750 years, but in 2022 we celebrate that in 1272 the town received its city rights from Floris V, Count of Holland.
A lot has happened in the history of the town, too much to include in our timeline. So we have made a selection of highs and (sometimes) lows and put them in chronological order.
We are looking forward to the celebrations! Gouda and the world have been through numerous crises, from the plague to town fires and now we are dealing with the coronavirus crisis, a pandemic that in future historical overviews will become just another event on the timeline.
If you really think we have omitted one of the highs or lows, please send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The earliest known reference to the new name Gouwe, Gouda, Govda: Iuxta Goldam, which means along the Gouwe, dates back to this year. This reference is by Bishop Andreas of Utrecht who granted the chapter of Oude Munster in Utrecht development rights along this river, iuxta Goldam.
The name Gouda is thought to be derived from Gold-a, Gold-ach, which means a gold-coloured watercourse. The water got its golden colour from the turf.
William II, Count of Holland, first mentions the name of a lord of Gouda, Theodoricus de Ghouda, also known as Dirk van der Goude, in a sales agreement with German tradesmen. It is thought that the first motte (a fortified enclosed stronghold/fortress) in the area 'Behind the Church’, was also built before this year. Around this motte there was place for a market. The first church, the forerunner of the Sint-Janskerk, and several farms were also located here.
The current coat of arms of Gouda featuring six stars is of a later date. The arms of the Lords van der Goude used to have two stars. Jan van der Goude (1375-1411) bore arms featuring a silver crossbeam with two golden stars.
The coat of arms of the town of Gouda is a rotated, mirrored version of the arms of the Van der Goude family. Over the course of the fifteenth century it got six stars.
Gouda always came sixth when voting in the States of Holland. Dordrecht was the oldest town and thus the first to vote, followed by the other towns in order of age. Gouda was the sixth town of Holland, so over time the town council decided that the town’s arms was to feature six stars rather than two stars. It was not until 1816 that the arms that we know today (a pale down the middle, a crown of thorns and three stars on each side) was officially validated by the High Council of Nobility.
On 19 July 2022 we celebrate that in 1272 it is 750 years ago that Gouda received its city rights from Count Floris V (born in 1254 and murdered in 1296). There were advocates of the city rights, as well as opponents, because these rights also came with certain obligations. Floris granted the city rights at the request of Nicolaas van Cats, the guardian of the eight-year-old Sophie van der Goude, who at that time was the heiress of the aristocratic Van der Goude family.
When the town received its city rights, the inhabitants also officially got all kind of other rights, such as citizenship, the administration of justice and freedom of religion.
Like Dordrecht, the town of Gouda was situated on an international shipping route which was the source of the town’s growth and later wealth. All inland shipping in Holland had to sail through Gouda where toll was charged. Gouda was in no hurry to let ships pass through, as the ships and their crews were a great source of income and work for the citizens.
The compulsory toll was disputed by other towns. For example, Leidschendam built a portage in the location where there used to be a dam which obstructed the passage of ships. This meant ships no longer had to go through Dordrecht and Gouda. The two towns did not accept this and in 1492 a delegation of armed citizens of Gouda and Dordrecht went to Leidschendam to dismantle the illegally built lock.
The majority of the route, now known as 'the standing mast route’, still exists today. However, the original passage through the dark lock right in the centre of Gouda is currently no longer in use, so boats are redirected via the Mallegat Lock and Turfsingel (or somewhat further away from the town centre via the Juliana Locks).
Unfortunately, the town is no longer in possession of the original document of the city rights, but it does still have the Vidimus, evidence that an important person testifies to having seen the city rights document, although it no longer exists. For the 748th anniversary of the 'town of Gouda' on 19 July 2020 In de Buurt did research into this topic. (In Dutch)
In 1356 Jan van Blois became Lord of Gouda, the town official of those days. There were already a corn mill at Molenwerf and a Weighing House. During the major town fire of 1361 the first Sint-Janskerk was burnt down. A section of the town gates with tower was used as the basis to build the Castle of Gouda, which was commissioned by Lord Jan van Blois, at what is known today as Veerstal.
However, already in 1577 the castle was ordered to be pulled down by the officials of the town. The wilful town of Gouda did not want to take the risk of it being occupied by the Spanish. There was also another highly political motivation: to become more autonomous from the States of Holland.
One town wall still stands and you can also see the thick walls of the castle in the masonry in the Houtmanplantsoen and parts of the underground passageways beneath the houses in this location. And when you look at Windmill 't Slot and the beautiful buildings next to it, with a bit of imagination you can see the old castle standing in this place again ...
Gouda had an important regional function, so therefore the Count of Holland granted Gouda official weighing and market rights. The cheese market was already established in 1395. The town officials bought a piece of land in the centre of town where the Markt and cheese market could take place. Before that cheese had been traded in various locations in the town. Due to the market rights, farmers from the region were not allowed to sell their produce outside the town. In other words, the world famous name Gouda Cheese does not come from the cheese being made here, but because Gouda was the town where cheese from the neighbouring villages and towns was traded.
Around 1980 trade on the Markt fell into decline and thanks to cheese producer Vergeer, the Cheese Market was turned into an event for tourists. This cheese market takes place on the Markt in Gouda every Thursday morning during the summer season. It is based on the original traditional cheese market. Usually the season starts the first week in April and continues until the last weekend in August.More on this topic
It was the time of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and the Hook and Cod wars. Jacoba of Bavaria was the daughter of William II, Count of Holland and Margaret of Burgundy. She had already been married off to a French prince, John of Touraine, at the age of five. The marriage took place in The Hague ten years later.
After the death of her father when she was sixteen years old, she inherited, among others, large parts of what is now the province of South Holland. After the death of her husband, Jacoba remarried several times. Usually these were strategic marriages to increase her power.
She married, among others, John IV, Duke of Brabant. Later they fell out and he mortgaged her domains to her uncle John of Bavaria. She also married Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, an enemy of Philip the Good.
When her uncle John of Bavaria passed away, the domains in Holland came into Philip the Good’s possession again. Consequently, Jacoba and the Hooks went to war against him in the area around Gouda, Oudewater and Schoonhoven, which is now known as the Green Heart of Holland. In September 1425 Jacoba managed to capture Schoonhoven and she won a battle at the Gouwe Lock.
Jacoba moved into the Castle of Gouda, where she continued the war against the Cods in Holland, a war she would never win. In 1428 Philip was named as her heir. She was forbidden to marry and was in fact rendered powerless. In 1433 she gave up the war and renounced her rights.
To thank the Militia of Gouda for their support, Jacoba of Bavaria gave them the famous chalice. The chalice is now kept at the Catharina Gasthuis which already existed back then. Today this hospital at Oosthaven houses Museum Gouda.
In 1438 the second major town fire broke out, destroying most of the town. The town hall and archives were lost. At the Markt the groundworks for the Gothic town hall which is still standing today had started. Over the centuries the town hall has undergone drastic restorations and changes, both on the inside and on the outside. For example, the white and red shutters are a typical 19th-century addition. The statues on the facade have also been added later.
The Maria Magdalena Monastery was built in 1455. After the Reformation it was closed down and subsequently used for a variety of purposes: from textile factory and plague house to military barracks and later as part of the livestock market, the pig market. In 2020 the Cheese Experience opened its doors here, right next to the Nieuwe Markt shopping centre which was built in 1988.
Erasmus was born around 1466 out of an extramarital affair between a clergyman and his housekeeper. Although his place of birth will most likely always remain a point of dispute between Gouda and Rotterdam, he and his brother grew up in Gouda. Erasmus went to the Latin school at the Markt (where Arti Legi is now located). He lived at the Emmaus Monastery van Stein (the area between the Kort Haarlem district and Haastrecht) which burnt down in 1549.
Erasmus did not like the strict rules of the monastery. He left and travelled around Europe, living from his work as a scholar and his publications.
He acquired what we would now call a fan club, but remained true to the Catholic faith. Still, he would come into conflict with the church many a time, among others, over his book 'The Praise of Folly’ (1509). In this book he mocked the clergy and mankind in general who always act in their own interest. He defended the right to be critical about the Bible and holy texts. He also thought that women should be able to read the Bible too, which was a novelty in those days.
In 1552 the Sint-Janskerk was struck by lightning and burnt down. Rebuilding work commenced under the supervision of Cornelisz van der Ghoude. The Crabeth brothers made the world famous Gouda stained glass windows (Gouda glass). New altarpieces were made for the rebuilt Sint-Janskerk. Gouda was not affected by the Iconoclastic Fury. All the altarpieces had been carefully removed by town officials before the church was handed over to the Protestants. The exhibition of these pieces for the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Gouda marked the birth of Museum Gouda.
In 2016 the Erasmus window, designed by Marc Mulders, was placed in the Sint-Janskerk. The modern window has a different design to the classical depictions in the other windows (click here for more information on this window).
In 1566 the Iconoclastic Fury, from which Gouda was spared, raged through the Netherlands. In 1572 the First Free State Assembly of the States of Holland gathered in Dordrecht. That day representatives of the towns present acknowledged William I, Prince of Orange, in his position of Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht. He was also appointed to represent the Spanish King Philip II of Spain, in his absence, as Patron of the Netherlands.
This marked the birth of the Netherlands as an independent country and the denouncement of Spanish rule over the Netherlands. This took place on the same date - 19 July - as Gouda had received its city rights three hundred years earlier.
Attending the assembly were representatives of the six major towns of the County of Holland - Dordrecht, Haarlem, Delft, Leiden, Amsterdam, Gouda and Oudewater – as well as representatives of the states and other provinces. Together they appointed the members of the States General, a name that is still used for the joint assembly of the Senate (Eerste Kamer) and House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) in The Hague.
Freedom of religion was an important topic at the First Free State Assembly, all the more so as Philip was doing all he could to supress Protestantism. Although he had sworn that the privileges of the nobility would be respected, they still did not trust the Spanish king and they felt threatened. They rebelled under the leadership of William of Nassau, Prince of Orange. The date 19 July 1572 means that the State Assembly in Dordrecht also celebrates its anniversary in 2022.
Photo: Location of the First State Assembly in Dordrecht; photo Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE).More on this topic
Dirck Volkertsz was born into a Catholic family in Amsterdam in 1522. He became an ardent proponent of free speech and freedom of religion. Like Erasmus, he was an influential, but lesser-known humanist. Coornhert did not believe in original sin, in other words, that due to a mistake by Adam and Eve humans would always remain sinful. He was also friends with William of Orange. Because of this he was considered a rebel by the Spanish who imprisoned him at the Prison Gate in The Hague.
Coornhert was the first to believe that there is a relation between poverty, the social and economic position of people and the crime they may fall into. He campaigned for preparing prisoners during their imprisonment for life after captivity.
Coornhert opposed the persecution of heretics under Spanish rule. However, when the Protestants came into power, he continued to advocate his belief in free will, the goodness of humanity and freedom of religion and conscience, which meant he had to flee again.
After being banned from Delft by the Dutch Reformed Church, he went to Gouda, where there was a lot more freedom. He died there two years later in 1590. A plaque honouring Coornhert has been placed in the facade of a building at Oosthaven located on the site of several long gone houses, one of which was the home of Coornhert.
Even in its early days Gouda already had a pottery industry thanks to the presence of clay in the nearby rivers. In 1617 the industry had gone into decline. When the Twelve Years’ Truce put Willem Baernelt out of work as a soldier in the Dutch States Army, the Englishman started to make Gouda clay pipes, thus giving the pottery industry a new boost. The pipes became world famous and, what is more, the Pipe Makers Guild was established in 1660. When the wooden pipe came into fashion, the Gouda clay pipe fell out of favour. However, the Goedewaagen Factory continued to make clay pipes and Gouda pottery, also known as Gouds plateel, until well into the 20th century. There are still several artisan pipe makers in Gouda today, such as Kees Moerings and Patrick Vermeulen.
In 1749 Pieter Dirksz van der Want became a qualified pipe maker. This is a well-known family name in Gouda. He and his descendants gave the pottery industry in Gouda another boost with their famous Gouda pottery. To make this decorative pottery the ‘faience' technique was used. First the pottery is baked in an oven to make a so-called biscuit. After the pottery has been painted and glazed, it is baked again to burn the hand-painted motives into the earthenware. The heyday of the industry was around 1920-1930 when the Jugendstil and Art Deco became popular.
The Van der Want family was involved in the Gouda pottery factory in Kuiperstraat, Ivora, the Hollandia Factory (later Regina Factory at Oosthaven) and Zenith in Korte Akkeren, which belonged to the Hoyng family. The best known factory of Gouda pottery was the Royal Plateel Factory Zuid-Holland Gouda (Plazuid for short) with the famous Gate of Lazarus trademark.
After the Second World War the interest in decorative pottery soon declined. In 1965 Ivora and Plazuid went out of business. Regina and Zenith continued until 1979 and 1984 respectively. Today there are still a few small pottery factories, such as De Drietand and Montagne, and there is still one active artisan Gouda pottery painter, Trudy Otterspeer, who works at Hoge Gouwe.More on this topic
Dutch children still learn in school that 1672 was the Disaster Year for the fledgling country of the Netherlands. It was the year that France, England and the German bishoprics of Munster and Cologne all declared war with the Republic of the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands at the same time. A military defence line was needed to withstand all this aggression, so the Old Dutch Water Line was built.
The defence line runs roughly from what is now the IJsselmeer to the Biesbosch. Gouda lies just on the edge of this line. While some people say Gouda is one of the towns that formed part of the defence line, others do not consider Gouda a proper fortress town like the other towns. For a long time the Old Dutch Water Line and the New Dutch Water Line were the backbone of the Dutch defence system against invasions. It relied on inundating farm land. At first, boats were used to fight off invaders, but increasingly defence works such as forts, bulwarks and bastions were built along the line. The Disaster Year of 1672 took place 400 years after Gouda had received its city rights, so 2022 is also the anniversary of the Old Dutch Water.
In 1702 the Hofje van Jongkind for single women was put into use. Today it is a catering establishment where the tiny houses can still be visited. The burnt down windmills at Vest (Roode Leeuw, 1727, and De Korenbloem, 1751) were rebuilt.
Moreau started building the organ for the Sint-Janskerk and the old organ was sold. The Sint Jorisdoelen was built for the militia at Lange Tiendeweg. The third Mallegat Lock was excavated/constructed in what is now the Museum Harbour. Around 20,000 people were living in Gouda, however, this number fluctuated over the centuries!
In 1756 physician, later professor and namesake of the hospital, Jan Bleuland, was born at Hoge Gouwe. He died in 1838.
Anna Barbara van Meerten-Schilperoort was born in Voorburg in 1778. She was an unusual lady who carried on the Gouda tradition of tolerance, enterprise and free speech, although she is a lot less known than Coornhert and Erasmus. She was a socially active woman who, at the age of sixteen, married the Reformed parson Hendrik van Meerten. He attained a position in Gouda in 1796.
Anna Barbara wanted to teach her children herself. To do that, she started writing booklets. When her booklets became a success, she spent more and more time writing. In those days this was very unusual for citizens of Gouda and the Netherlands. Her mother took care of the housekeeping and the strange, wilful Anna Barbara focussed on writing her publications.
Her husband encouraged her work. The French had put an end to the Oranges’ Protestant rule and he did not earn enough as a parson to provide for his family. Anna's books helped the family to survive.
She graduated and became a teacher. Subsequently, she and her daughters opened a girls’ school for pupils from families that could afford this elite school. Anna invested a lot in the children, teaching them what we would now call social studies. She wrote many books, from travel guides to books on history and grammar, and Bible stories for children.
Anna also published the then equivalent of today’s feminist magazine and became editor of the monthly women’s magazine Penélopé. In other words, she was a lady who has earned herself a place on the timeline of Gouda750.
Gouda has always been an industrious town. Take, for example, the production of (Gouda Kuyt) beer, clay pipes, cheese and numerous other crafts. Industrialisation changed this picture. Industries were established that would develop what were to become typical Gouda products.
Well known examples are, of course, the Gouda candles produced by the Stearine Candle Factory which was founded in 1858. Now it is a chemical company with very prominent distillation towers that are visible from miles away. There were many laundries, especially in the canals surrounding the centre of Gouda. The publisher of dictionaries and children’s books Van Goor and the Gouda Machine Factory were founded in 1839 and 1916 respectively.
Of course, the Gouda pottery factories, syrup waffle factories and many other businesses were also established. For decades they left their mark on the town and made the name Gouda world famous.
Gouda is still an industrious town. Many wholesalers and industries that utilise or produce modern technology, like in road construction, manufacturing processes, ICT etc., have settled here. Small and medium-sized enterprises are also well represented in the town. More than 65% of the shops and catering businesses in the town are independent enterprises. The entrepreneurs work together and are well organised.
The syrup or treacle waffle is a typical Gouda delicacy that can in no way be compared with what is sold in the supermarket. In Gouda opinions on what is the best waffle are still divided. There are fans of all the waffles that are still being made.
The bakers used to be independent entrepreneurs, so it is hard to determine when exactly the Gouda syrup waffle was invented. In 1810 Kamphuizen started to bake its original syrup waffle, using a unique recipe. In 1837 the Gouda Syrup Waffle Factory was established.
Soon other varieties appeared, using both treacle and syrup, such as the treacle cookies of Adeco and the treacle biscuit of Punselie. Adriaan de Groot (later Wever bakery) started to use the syrup waffle iron in 1860. These waffle irons are still used to bake waffles on a small scale at fairs and markets. Syrup waffles were originally made from scraps of dough, rather than from specially made dough like today. As they were a by-product, they were cheap and affordable for everyone.
For some time now syrup waffle bakers from outside Gouda whose main target market is tourists visiting the Amsterdam area, have been trying to change the name Gouda Syrup Waffle into Dutch Waffle or Waffle of Holland. However, this is a falsification of the historical record. The syrup or treacle waffle is a genuine Gouda invention. Only a handful of the dozens of syrup waffle bakeries still remain.
You can still smell the sweet fragrance of waffles in the town when they are being baked, but it is no longer as prevalent as in the 1970s. Since 2020 Kamphuizen Syrup Waffles are once more being baked at the Syrup Waffle Experience at the Markt. Van den Berg (formerly Van Vliet) continues to bake waffles in the original factory at Lange Groenendaal. Punselie still produces its famous treacle biscuits in Tuinstraat. All firms are open to the public. Markus bakes Gouda syrup waffles in the nearby town of Waddinxveen.
It is not until the 20th century that Gouda slowly expands beyond the boundaries of the historic town centre and surrounding canals. The districts Korte Akkeren and Kort Haarlem date back to the 1900s-1920s. The districts Oosterwei, Bloemendaal and Goverwelle were built in the 1950s-1990s.
At the invitation of the Dutch government immigrant workers arrived in the 1960s to combat the shortage of labour that had been created by the Second World War. Many new citizens came to Gouda to give the town a boost. There are now almost 130 nationalities, the biggest group being Dutch people with a Moroccan background. The number of inhabitants has risen to over 70,000.
In particular Compaxo and other Gouda companies deliberately recruited Moroccans because they worked hard, did not make a fuss or complain and intended to return to their country as soon as they had earnt enough money. Gouda was regarded as a ‘sleepy town’ by the government in The Hague.
Unfortunately, this century was not just a time of town development. Many monuments were also demolished and canals filled in. Earlier town councils had decided that Gouda should be pushed into the modern era and had come up with plans such as building a motorway right through the centre of town to make room for the new phenomenon: the car. Luckily not everything was destroyed and Gouda still has a beautiful historic centre with a lot to offer the growing number of visitors. In 1972 Gouda extensively celebrated its 700th anniversary as a town.
Once again Gouda expanded. The latest developments in Achterwillens were followed by the construction of an entirely new housing estate in the polder behind the Juliana Locks, Westergouwe. A fine piece of work, as this estate is located in the lowest part of the Netherlands, far below sea level. A long time before the millennium there had already been talk about the expropriation of farm properties and the build of a ring road and possible development in the area. Around 2005 the plans became more concrete. The ring road was built and all of this area was allocated for the build of a new sustainable, water-rich housing estate. The first homes were completed at the beginning of 2016.
Photo: Westergouwe.nlMore on this topic
In 1914 scientist-poet and humanist Leo Vroman was born at Krugerlaan. At the beginning of the Second World War he fled from the Netherlands to England. The Netherlands and Gouda were mostly spared the horrors of the First World War. However, they did have to deal with the arrival of refugees from Belgium, for whom a refugee camp was set up at Graaf Florisweg.
The Second World War, however, did not go by unnoticed. Stray bombs destroyed the station and houses on, among others, Fluwelensingel and Krugerlaan. At the beginning of the war the mayor James was dismissed, to return as mayor after the German capitulation. Many fellow citizens had been deported, including the entire Jewish population of the town. They had all been killed.
Now, among others, the former synagogue at Turfmarkt and the Jewish Gate of the former Jewish cemetery are a memento of the once flourishing Jewish community. After the relocation of the graves of the Jewish Cemetery at Boelekade to Israel, the gate was re-erected as a war monument in Raoul Wallenbergplanstoen in 1980.
Since 2011 so-called Stolpersteine (‘stumbling stones’) have been placed in front of houses in the town that belonged to Jewish citizens who were deported by the Nazis during the Second World War. The Stolpersteine are being placed in many European towns. They are an initiative of the Berlin-born artist Gunter Demnig. This project in Gouda was realised mainly through the efforts of jazz singer Soesja Citroen.
their names have been saved
returned to the town
where they lived
in the street where their house stands
in the pavement where their footstep lies
after their deportation
can be read
read by everyone
who for a moment will stand still
through their names they return
inez meter – town poet Gouda, 2003
For years the number of visitors to Gouda has steadily grown, passing the million mark in 2018. The town has worked hard to achieve this, for example, by attracting national events, such as the first edition of The Passion in 2011, the Sand Painter in 2012 and the arrival of Sinterklaas on national television in 2014 (when the Black Pete controversy made national headlines), the Tour de France coming through the town in 2015 and Pink Saturday in 2018.
Every year there are many events. Today large-scale King’s Day (formerly Queen’s Day) celebrations and numerous music festivals attract thousands of visitors. The town bustles with activity and attracts a steady flow of visitors from both inside and outside the town, thanks to the weekly Cheese Market from April to August, Gouda by Candle Light, the Gouda Ceramics Days, the Canal Run, Crazy Saturday (with a nod to Erasmus) and numerous other events, such as the Easter Breakfast, the Riverdale Dance Festival and the Super Cool Kids’ Festival.
The citizens of Gouda put a lot of energy into the town and into working together. This is reflected in, for example, the accolades Best Town Centre, Best Library, Best Market, Most Hospitable Theatre and Best Event Town.
Gouda belongs to us all. Here you are allowed to be who you are, carrying on the tradition of the great freethinkers of Gouda, such as Coornhert, Erasmus and Vroman. There are a great many plans to celebrate Gouda750, also in the worthy tradition of tolerance which we as a town should cherish. Do you have an idea or plan for the festive period? Then please send an email to: email@example.comMore on this topic