The mennonite walking guide

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AMSTERDAM 1500 – 2010

the mennonite walking guide TWO WALKING TOURS THROUGH AMSTERDAM

Wietskenel de Jong Johan Pennings



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Singel 450-454 Huidenstraat 2 J Herengracht 368 Keizersgracht 401 Keizersgracht 444-446

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Herengracht Herengracht Herengracht Herengracht Herengracht

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Herengracht Herengracht Herengracht Herengracht Herengracht

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16 ) Herengracht 186 17 ) Raadhuisstraat tot aan de Keizersgracht 18 ) Keizersgracht tegenover Westerkerk

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hoek Prinsengracht/Westermarkt, cafĂŠ Kalkhoven

AMSTERDAM 1500 – 2010

the mennonite walking guide Two walking tours through Amsterdam

The Mennonite Walking Guide (Amsterdam 1500-2010) ISBN: 9789065760142 This is published by the Amsterdam Mennonite church (Verenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente Amsterdam) on the occasion of the Mennonite jubilee year 2011. Singel 452 1017 AW Amsterdam Cover design and layout: STUDIO MISC, Amsterdam ( English translation: Betty Lavooij-Janzen @VDGA, Amsterdam 2013





Walking tour 1


Worldly trade and Mennonite faith

Walking tour 2


The Anabaptist Riots Enlightened Mennonites in arts, science and society

Mennonites in Amsterdam, the 20th century




Additional literature


foreword In this year, 2011, the jubilee year in which the Mennonites celebrate that the more than 100 congregations in the Netherlands have been joined in the General Mennonite Association (Algemene Doopsgezinde SociÍteit) for 200 years and that the Mennonite Seminary, once started by the congregation of Amsterdam is already situated in Amsterdam for 275 years, the church council is very pleased that this Mennonite walking guide can be published. Through exhibitions and celebration speeches, the history of the Amsterdam Mennonites has repeatedly been described, especially their church and deaconate activities. But it is an enrichment for all that, with this Mennonite walking guide in hand, they can roam along canals and houses of the inhabitants who have given form to the meaning of Mennonite. Thanks to our forefathers we remain motivated also in 2011, to observe the Mennonite wishes for nonviolence, concrete service, humility and genuine testimony. We hope that the authors’ expressively written story of Amsterdam Mennonites will deepen the love for and between Amsterdam and Mennonites. Nilke Duinkerken, chair of the church council of the Amsterdam Mennonite Church March 2011


introduction This guide includes two walking tours on the subject Mennonites in Amsterdam. The tours walks lead past a series of places in the city center where citizens of Mennonite origin practiced their faith and conducted their business. You will also see where they lived. Besides this you will receive an impression of the social initiatives they took. The first walk starts at the Mennonite Singel Church (Singelkerk) also called beside the lamb (bij het Lam), and ends on the Prinsengracht at Café Kalkhoven. The second walk starts at the Dam and ends at the Prinsengracht, diagonally across from the Noordermarkt at het Zonshofje. When one has written one thousand five hundred: A poem from a songbook of 1571 tells of a martyr’s fate in the Offer des Heeren. Heeft Gerrit Corneliszoon verheven Ghelaten zijn jonge leven Alsmen duysent vijfhondert heeft gheschreven En eenenseventhich jaer, ’tAmsterdam in ’t openbaer. In een vlotschuyt, na ’t vermonden (naar men zegt) Tot werken was hij bereyt: Daer heeft hem de Schout gevonden Gevangen ende gebonden Ende na Stadthuys geleyt. Op de pijnbanck heeft hy gelegen. Merkt wat geslachte dat dit is! Hem daer met roeden geslegen En met een aker vol, t’en dient niet geswegen, In zijn lijf gegoten met pis. It tells of the young Gerrit Corneliszoon who worked on a ship. The bailiff found him, captured him and took him to the city hall. Here he was put on the rack and beaten.


In this lamentation, a martyr’s song, the story is told of the gruesome interrogation and execution of the Mennonite boatman, Gerrit Cornelisz., who died for his faith. The Roman Catholic Church of the 16th century regarded Anabaptists who allowed themselves to be re-baptized at a mature age as heretics. The Church pressured the city governments to arrest these dissidents. They often died a gruesome death. These martyrs became an example to the Mennonites. The songs about the sufferings of their brothers in faith inspired them to persevere in their faith. The government therefore called the martyr’s songs and other Mennonite writings as rabble-rousing literature. Jan Claesz., a book seller who sold these articles was arrested. Just as Anthonis Courtsz. who had offered a songbook of martyrs’ song for sale in 1552 (illustration 1). In the 20’s of the 16th century, a reformatory movement started in Northern Netherlands under the influence of Luther and Erasmus, to bring about renewal in the Church. This movement found followers in the lower priests of the Roman Catholic Church and the scholarly. New views on communion and infant baptism arose. The Sacramentarians, an important popular movement in the Netherlands in the beginning of the 16th century, rejected these sacraments. After 1530 they joined the Mennonites. Large groups of adults in Friesland and Holland allowed themselves to be baptized. A part of the Mennonites wanted at all costs, to convince others that the end of time was nearing. They believed that God had chosen them to create heaven on earth. This armed battle was a great fiasco. After this the Mennonites converted themselves to pacifism. Under the influence of the ideas of Menno Simons (1496-1561), a priest who had renounced the Church, they became a withdrawn peace-loving group. Out of dissatisfaction with the abuses in the Roman Catholic Church and the violence of some Mennonites, Menno Simons focused himself upon creating a new, pure community of faith. Mennonites wanted to live without spot or wrinkle, that is, free of sin. During the Alteration of 1578 Amsterdam changed over to Protestantism. The city government allowed those with other beliefs to profess their faith but under certain circumstances. As long as they did not manifest themselves too emphatically, people of a different religious conviction were usually left at peace. The freedom allowed for dissidents by the Republic was great-


er than that in the rest of Europe. Whoever wished to stay Catholic was allowed to do so, but it often had financial consequences. Whoever wished to convert to one of the Protestant denominations was scarcely hindered. Different religious convictions could exist side by side within families. The Protestant Church was the Public Church. This meant that governors of the different provinces and cities had to be members of it. The public church often applied pressure to the rulers of the country to silence the non-protestants. William of Orange received a request from the Protestants in 1575 to favor the Public Church above the Roman Catholic Church. His answer was that William of Orange would not ‘inquire as to a person’s belief or conscience’. In 1579 the Union of Utrecht, article 13, stated that no one should be persecuted because of his faith. The interpretation of the range of thought of Menno Simons varied among the Mennonites. Because of this, various groups formed in which the most important issue concerned how far one wished to exclude oneself from the structure of society. There were groups who attached less value to purity, defenselessness and imposing the ban. The ban meant that one could be excluded from the community if one took too much part in worldly pleasures in the eyes of the religious community (congregation). Married couples could be forbidden to see each other. Another point of discord was the extent to which arms could be carried or used. The Frisians had the most strict views. The Waterlanders, on the other hand, were very much aimed at ‘the world’, did not consider themselves followers of Menno Simons and were therefore, very tentative in imposing the ban. The ideas of the Flemish were the closest to those of the Waterlanders. A large schism within the groups of Flemish (Vlamingen) in 1664 pertained to the question of who did or did not belong to the Mennonite congregation. The minister, Galenus Abrahamsz. de Haan found that everyone who led a devout life was member of the congregation. His opponent wanted a strictly defined confession of faith. A confession of faith would have to be given at the time of baptism. In Mennonite circles, adult baptism was usual. You only became Mennonite after you voluntarily had chosen to be baptized as an adult. Mennonites were viewed suspiciously for centuries. This was caused by their conduct: turning away from the world and turning to their own group where child baptism was rejected. They


Jan Claesz. of de gewaande dienstmaagd Saartje Jans ten huwelijk gevraagd, scène uit het komische stuk van Thomas Asselijn; prent naar een schilderij van Cornelis Troost, (spiegelbeeldig), 1738, Bijzondere Collecties, UvA, Mennonitica.


were known for their simplicity and thriftiness. Some Mennonite merchants and ministers, however, had themselves portrayed by famous painters. Poets sang of the collections of well-to-do Mennonites. Besides this, one did not flinch from mocking the pious lifestyle of the Mennonites (Menisten) so-called after their leader, Menno Simons. For example, a Mennonite lie, is a lie for a good cause; a Mennonite streak is underhanded meanness. The theme of hypocrisy under Mennonites is found in poems, for example, The Mennonite Courtship (De Menistenvrijagie) in which a young man sets his eyes upon a comely young Mennonite girl. She wants nothing to do with him until he dresses neatly and modestly in black. One also encounters the theme of hypocrisy in plays. The comedy, Jan Claeszoon of de gewaande diensmaagd, by Thomas Asselijn was a well-known example. The 18th century painter, Cornelis Troost (1697-1750) has made various drawings of scenes from this play in which the clothed in black Mennonites were ridiculed.

THE WALKING ROUTE The walking route takes you past houses of the well to do Mennonite merchants of the Herengracht. A number of them lived in the Golden Bend. This is the part of the Herengracht where city palaces rose in the 17th century. Next to their businesses or enterprises, these merchants had great interest in art and culture. Their position changed in the 18th century. Originally, Mennonites did not take government positions because of their religious convictions but also because they had no interest in this type of function. The government, in its turn, excluded the pacifistic followers of Menno Simons from military action. Each city decided which occupations might be practiced by Mennonites. These were usually free trades, such as those of merchants. In the disastrous year of 1672, Mennonites received social recognition because of the large financial contribution they had given for the protection of the country. Membership of the public church formed the best entrance to an administrative office in the 18th century. This is the reason that Mennonites more and more often joined the public church.


In the second half of the 18th century Mennonite merchants together with others, founded relief societies of enlightenment such as The Association of Saving Drowning Victims (Maatschappij tot het Redden van Drenkelingen) or Dutch Association for Public Welfare (Maatschappij tot Nut van ‘t Algemeen). On the tour you will pass a number of houses where the founders of this type of societies have lived. By way of the Leliegracht the walk leads to the Jordaan. Here great poverty presided in the 19th century. Mennonites such as C.P. van Eeghen and H.S. van Lennep attempted to improve living conditions by building houses for workers.


walk nr. 1 Worldly trade and Mennonite faith


singel 450-454 The Amsterdam Mennonite congregation

The starting point of the walk is the Mennonite Church at Singel 450-454. You see three buildings with varying gables: a step gable (Singel 450), a cornice gable (Singel 452) and a neck gable (Singel 454). Through the portal with double doors at Singel 452 and a long hall, one can reach the church (which cannot be seen from the street). On the outside, a plaque has been attached depicting a sun, a lamb and a tower. This plaque commemorates the union of the three different denominations within the Mennonite faith: The Sun (De Zon), Beside the Lamb (Bij het Lam) and Beside the Tower (Bij de Toren). The inscription reads: AMOR ET PACE CONJUNCTEA (united in love and peace). The church was erected by Harmen Hendricksz. from Warendorp, Germany. He bought two lots in 1607 and had houses built on them. Here, at the back of the lot, bordering on the property of the brewery The Lamb (Het Lam), now Odeon, he built a ‘large shed or piece of carpentry’. In this space, beside the Lamb (Bij het Lam), the Flemish Mennonites gathered. Harmen Hendricksz. Warendorp had it included in his will that the building would be geven to the congregation on the condition that they would sing Psalms. He also wrote that the church building must regularly be cleaned and aired: ‘Each week sweep the building and the hall, as they are used to doing in their lives, providing the condition that on hot summer days they open the door and place a fence in it to get fresh air.’ The long hall leading to the enclosed church was originally a small street paved with yellow stones. This hall was roofed-in in 1938 and the yellow stones were replaced by a marble floor. The hall leading to the Singel Church enters yet a different hall in the enclosed church. On the wall hangs a schematic overview of the ministers and deacons of the Mennonite churches in Amsterdam. The names appear of Joost van den Vondel (1589-1679) and the discoverer of the fire hose, Jan vander Heijden (1637-1712), both of whom were deacons by the Church at the Tower (Bij de


Toren), one of the churches which later joined in the combined Mennonite Church, Bij het Lam. On the second floor stands the table top out of the library of the Mennonite Seminary which was situated here. Graduates of the Seminary etched their names into the table top. The Seminary was established in 1735 to provide professional training for Mennonite ministers. Until 1811, the Seminary was supported by the Mennonite Church of Amsterdam. At that time the General Mennonite Association (Algemene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit, ADS) was founded, the organization of all the Mennonite congregations in the country, whose goal was to support the Seminary financially. Ministers, often called ‘teachers’ or ‘admonishers’ (vermaners), originally worked on a voluntary basis. Galenus Abrahamsz. de Haan (1622-1706), a physician by profession, was long time the most well known minister at ‘t Lam. It was not considered proper to earn money through a church position. Expenses were reimbursed such as loss of earnings and travel expenses. The expression ‘admonisher’ (vermaner) dates back to the idea that each member of a Mennonite congregation could admonish or speak of a lesson of improvement to fellow believers. In Amsterdam, the term admonition was used in De Zon, while Bij het Lam one spoke of the sermon. A minister was chosen by a congregation by considering his pastoral rhetoric qualities and his impeccable conduct. The expression ‘vermaning’ also came to refer to the church building. Across from the enclosed church is the vestry. On the wall in the hall in front of the vestry hangs a painting of the regents of the orphanage De Oranjeappel. Here is also the plaque belonging to the orphanage, an orange. The church has a simple design. The room is rectangular with a double gallery and is therefore called a gallery-church. On one side windows allow light to enter. In the center between the windows stands the pulpit with a semicircular sounding board above it. The organ, built in 1777 by Strumphler, is situated above the pulpit. The decorations on the organ depict ornaments of the Age of Enlightenment. The benches on either side of the pulpit are intended for the deacons. There are benches set up for the congregation members. Until the early twenties of the former century, women were expected to sit on the folding chairs. A woman paid a


nickel and took a folding chair which she set up in the center area. After the transition to Calvinism, the church buildings of denominations other than the Dutch Reformed were not allowed to be seen from the street. This is why they often built walled-in churches. For this reason, one sometimes finds large buildings behind the houses on the canals of Amsterdam which then served as churches. In the days when visiting the church was barely Sharing of bread at communion in the church Bij het Lam, 1736, etching by Jacobus van der Schley, Bijzondere Collecties the University of Amsterdam, Mennonitica.

condoned for Mennonites, it must always be possible to leave the Singel Church in case of an unannounced visit by a bailiff or sheriff. Not until 1675 were Mennonites allowed to profess their faith openly. The separation of church and state was officially made law. All denominations had equal rights; everyone could confess his faith openly. On the Singel beside Het Lam you see the rectory and the new gothic church De Krijtberg. Formerly the house on the canal De Krijtberg stood here behind which you could find the Roman Catholic hidden church. Across the canal you see the Old Lutheran Church. Many immigrants from Scandinavia and the German princedoms were Lutheran. Trade on the Baltic Sea contributed to the wealth of the city of Amsterdam. The kings of Denmark and Sweden were indispensible. For this reason the Lutheran Church had equal rights as the public church.



huidenstraat 2 Collegiants’ orphanage De Oranjeappel

After De Krijtberg you keep left. On the way to the Huidenstraat you pass Beulingsloot. If you lean over the bridge you can imagine that the Beulingsloot is one of the oldest transverse-canals of the city. Until the second half of the 19th century this type of narrow waters could be found in Amsterdam. The houses in the city bordered on the water. Turn left at the next street and enter the Wijde Heisteeg. Cross the bridge of the Herengracht to Huidenstraat 2. The gate on the Huidenstraat once formed the entrance to the alley that led to the girls’ part of the Collegiants’ orphanage De Oranjeappel (number 12 on the map). The city of Amsterdam carried the responsibility of housing, clothing and feeding the orphans. They received schooling in the orphanage or followed training elsewhere. There was one condition, the parents had to have been citizens of Amsterdam. The most well known institution of this type was the Burgerweeshuis founded in 1520, and the Aalmoezeniershuis of the middle of the 17th century. Hundreds of children were taken in here. When the care of orphans could no longer be financed by the city, the upbringing of the orphans was laid in the hands of different denominations. Orphanages arose which were governed by regents or trustees of varying religious natures. In these houses children received lessons in reading and writing until the age of twelve. The boys then often went out to work. The girls became skilled in useful needlework and earned their stay as seamstress or domestic servant. The name De Oranjeappel received its name from the similarly named warehouse on the Keizersgracht 345-347 which the Collegiants had rented in 1675 to hold their lectures. The rise of the Collegiants was a reaction to the resolution of the National Synod of Dordrecht (1618-1619). The Synod excluded a freer interpretation of the Calvinistic faith. The Remonstrants, who were for this freer interpretation, were banned. Not all protestant ministers were in agreement with the expulsion of the Remonstrant preachers. In Warmond it was decided soon after (1619) to come together without a minister to profess their faith. They gathered


in colleges. During the gathering of July 16, 1675 in Amsterdam, one of the Collegiants said that during a visit to the coast he had seen totally neglected orphanages roaming around. Because the children belonged to families of which the parents were followers of the Collegiants, it was decided to accommodate the children in the building called De Oranjeappel. They wanted to prevent the children from being raised according the protestant interpretation of the Bible. The orphanage De Oranjeappel was walled-in between the Keizersgracht, the Herengracht and the Huidenstraat. One of the entrances to the orphanages was found at Keizersgracht 345. The Huidenstraat at the Herengracht with the gate of the orphanage De Oranjeappel, drawing by G. Lambers 1817.

By buying Herengracht 345 it became possible to build a separate entrance for girls in the courtyard with its entrance on the Huidenstraat. The author, Aagje Deken, was one of the orphans who grew up in De Oranjeappel. She lived there more than twenty years, until 1767, and wrote a lengthy poem on the occasion of its hundredth anniversary: How poorly your teachings may be described to the stupid public Your blessing hand, your unstinted giving, Makes you respected, honored and loved by all people The gift inspires love, even though the giver is Mennonite. Yes, the poor are barely poor whom you offer support And the orphans you save do not miss their parents.



herengracht 368 Jan van Eeghen and Jacoba Kool

Walk back to the Herengracht and turn right in the direction of Leidsegracht. Here you see four merchants’ houses at numbers 364-370. These canal houses were built in the years 1660-1662 by the architect Philips Vingboons (1607-1678) commissioned by the Catholic merchant Jacob Cromhout (1608-1669). Philips Vingboons built homes for the well to do in the city in the classical style. Where possible, even on narrow lots, he designed symmetrical regular gables. He adopted the ideas from classical antiquity when buildings were created in harmonious proportions. His collected architectural works can be found in his publications entitled Afbeelsels der voornaemste Gebouwen uyt alle die Philips Vingboons geordineert heeft. These were published in 1648 and 1674. He often applied the neck gable in his designs as can be seen here. The use of the neck gable was an elegant solution to the narrow width of the lots and height of the gable. The plaque in the gable of nr. 366, a curved piece of wood, refers to the family name of the commissioner, Jacob Cromhout. The Mennonite merchant Jan van Eeghen bought this building in 1826. He lived here with his wife Jacoba Kool and many children until his death in 1838. His daughter, Deborah Petronella van Eeghen and her husband lived at nr. 366 until 1886. After this the building was sold to the Dutch Bible Society. This society had a copper plate placed next to the entrance at 366 with the inscription Bible House (BIJBELHUIS). The Van Eeghen family belonged to the most important merchant families of Amsterdam. They were active in trading merchandise from the 18th century. A century before this, Jacob van Eeghen (1631-1697) had established himself as buyer of linen on the ramparts of the city. Jacob originally came from Aardenburg in Vlaanderen where he had a farm. The Van Eeghen family joined the Mennonite faith in the 17th century. You can enter the house where the family of Jan van Eeghen en Jacoba Kool lived through the present entrance of the Bijbels Museum on Herengracht 368. In the hall of Herengracht 366 there are 19th century wall


and ceiling decorations. Just as in the skylight one can recognize elements of the Empire period. In the back part of the house one finds the antechamber of the large hall. This area was reconstructed in early 19th century style during the restoration. The fireplace in this hall is original. One especially notices the decoration on the underside. In the large hall you see the first ceiling paintings of Jacob de Wit in Amsterdam. If you walk through the hall in the direction of the front door, on your left you find the area in which the firm Van Eeghen & Co. may have had its office. The black marble fireplace and mirror above it are recollections of the time that Jan van Eeghen lived here. During the latest restoration a ceiling painting by Jacob de Wit was added to the hall behind the office. In this office business was done with overseas areas. Van Eeghen & Co. shipped tobacco and cotton from the United States and traded in coffee, tea and spices from the Dutch East Indies. During the period that Jan van Eeghen was a member of the firm, things were not going well for the Holland Land Company which his father had founded in 1775. Dutch colonists did not buy enough land. Also, the profit made by selling land in the United States was disappointing. Trade with America was restricted so that large sums of money remained unused. For this reason the money was used for financial transactions in the Netherlands, England and France, thus forming the beginning of the banking activities of the firm. Jan van Eeghen was a respected man in the Amsterdam financial world. As were many other financers of his time, he was also director of the Bank of Netherlands. This position was still a position of honor at the beginning of the 19th century. Besides this, Jan van Eeghen exerted himself in preventing poverty. In 1830 he contributed money to fore come the raising of the price of bread. Mennonites contributed large sums of money in humanitarianism which was in accordance with the Mennonite ideals of frugal business policy. Large profits were not the most important incentives in the way in which Jan van Eeghen led his trading company. The Bijbels Museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 11.00 – 17.00 and Sunday from 12.00 -17.00. Important features here are also two 17th century kitchens, two garden rooms and the staircase built in the early 18th century.



keizersgracht 401 Huis Marseille, C.P. van Eeghen

After the Bijbels Museum, keep to the right along the Herengracht in the direction of Leidsegracht. At the Leidsegracht, turn right before the bridge to the Keizersgracht. On the Keizersgracht you find Huis Marseille (on the right side with uneven numbers). Keizersgracht 401 is known as Huis Marseille, named after the plaque with the map of the city of Marseille. The French merchant, Isaac Focquier (1614-1680) commissioned this house to be built in 1665. The gable much resembles those of the houses designed by Philips Vingboons. The house plan, with a room in front and a room at back, is 17th century style, while the plasterwork is that of the beginning of the 18th century. Huis Marseille was inhabited by the Mennonite Christiaan Pieter van Eeghen (1816-1889) from 1848-1866. He was one of the directors of the firm Van Eeghen & Co. after the death of Jan van Eeghen. The business office was situated at Herengracht 462 (called Swedenrijck) during this period. Christiaan Pieter van Eeghen was active in many social areas (number 9 on the map). He improved housing conditions for laborers. He was co-founder of the Royal Dutch Antiquarian Association which still works toward collecting and managing objects which concern the history and culture of the Netherlands. He donated his collection of paintings and etches, including the collection of Luyken’s works, to the city of Amsterdam. This collection includes more than 800 drawings and engravings by Jan Luyken (1649-1712) and Casper Luyken (1672-1708). He also collected temporary art. The collection is now part of the collection of the Amsterdam Historical Museum. Christiaan Pieter’s involvement with Amsterdam is also obvious in his initiative to make a park in which to ride and walk – the Vondelpark. The plan was to build the park near the Leidsepoort which had been demolished in 1863-1864. Another plan at this time was to build a gas factory on this piece of countryside. With the building of the park, this plan became obsolete. Van Eeghen contacted the mayor in order to have his plan realized. A committee was established in 1864 with the mayor as honorary chairman and Christiaan Pieter as chairman in charge


of production. Christiaan Pieter asked family members, church members and notables such as A. van Geuns, Jacob van Lennep, H. Luden, Joshua van Eik, J. van Eeghen and A.W. van Eeghen to take place in the committee. They decided to send out 4000 circulars asking for financial support. This raised 883,000 Guilders. J.D. Zocher and L.P. Zocher, father and son, designed the park in the style of English countryside. Thirteen years later the park, reaching up to the Amstelveenseweg, was finished. Beside one of the large ponds in this riding and walking park, a statue of the poet, Vondel (1587-1679) was placed. In 1867 the Vondel Committee with Jacob van Lennep (1802-1886) as chairman had decided that this place in the new park was a proper place to honor the poet. There was not enough room in the city for the three meter high statue. The statue of Rembrandt already stood on the Botermarkt and Naatje (a statue dedicated to the Dutch National spirit) stood on the Dam. The riding and walking park soon became known as the Vondel(s)park. Huis Marseille is open to the public from Tuesday until Sunday from 11.00-17.00. The Photographic Society is situated in this building. The 18th century garden pavilion has been reconstructed and includes ceiling paintings by Jacob de Wit.



keizersgracht 444-446 The firm ‘Hope’

On the other side of the canal stand the whitewashed buildings of the firm ‘Hope’ at Keizersgracht 444-446. This complex of the trading company stood in the area surrounded by the Keizersgracht, the Prinsengracht and the Molenpad. At Prinsengracht numbers 659-661 the concern had two warehouses, a carriage house and horse stable. The office of Hope & Co. was build in the inner court. The building at Keizersgracht, from 1720, makes a monumental impression with its many sculptures above the windows and at the edge of the gable. Thomas Hope (1704-1779), born into a Scottish merchant family, lived at Keizersgracht 444-446. On Prinsengracht the firm traded in various merchandise such as cloth, wine and colonial products as well as doing banking business. In this way the company had trade contacts in the Baltic Sea area where grain was bought. They bought ships in Stralsund (Pommeren), to bring Swedish potash and pitch to the Netherlands. From Amsterdam they carried fine paper, writing materials in addition to tobacco, spices and subtropical fruit to Stralsund. In 1750 Hope was asked to join the college of deacons in the Mennonite congregation Bij het Lam. This invitation was accompanied by congratulations because he had been named one of the two representatives of the (Dutch) West-India Company by the stadholder. This nomination shows that the Mennonite Church no longer was against Mennonites being placed in important social functions. In the 18th century Amsterdam focused itself on the money market. The firm of Hope leant money to merchants, governments in Europe and to the then young United States of America. Hope & Co. also served many years as financer of the Russian Tsar’s family after 1788. Tsar Nicolaas II raised Hope to nobility as a reward for the services the firm had rendered as bankers for Russia. When the French occupied the country, Henry Hope, who then led the company, fled to London. Henry and his partner were avid fans of the House of Orange. On October 12, 1778, they were chased from the stock market because they wore orange cockades. Most Mennonites of this time were supporters of the Patriots. During the Napoleonic


years trade with England was nearly impossible so that the firm of Hope focused primarily on the money market. Their clients were parties who were at war with each other. Not without reason the firm of Hope carries the motto ‘Ad Spes Non Fracta’ ( even if the whole world splits, the hope – Hope – remains). In this way Hope & Co. sold the state of Louisiana to the United States in Napoleon’s name.


herengracht 462 Swedenrijck, Van Eeghen & Co

Walk back to the Leidsegracht and walk on the other side back to Herengracht. Follow this route after crossing the Leidsestraat in the direction of the ‘Golden Curve’ (Gouden Bocht) to the Spiegelstraat. Continue on to Herengracht 462. This building, called Swedenrijck after the builder, Guilliam Swedenrijck, was built during 1665-1671. One notices the classical regular style of the sandstone gable and the two statues above the door which depict Hope and Love. At the ends of the gables two statues, Prosperity and Trade stand on the parapet. In 1849 the firm of Van Eeghen established itself at this address. Two cousins, Jan van Eeghen (1816-1865) and Christiaan Pieter van Eeghen were the first partners. The firm was a continuation of the House of Negotiation which was founded in 1779 by the grandfather of Jan, Christiaan Van Eeghen (1757-1789). From the early forties of the 19th century, Jan and Chrisiaan Pieter van Eeghen led the firm to become a blooming trading company. In this period, Van Eeghen & Co. had contacts with English as well as Dutch firms on Java. Here trade included commodities as coffee and tea, typical commercial crops destined for the European market. The firm often knew, just at the right moment, to change over to different, more profitable activities. For example: in order to make transportation of goods and persons to and from Netherlands and her overseas areas in the East possible, the firm bought four sailing ships. One the these was called The Witch of the Wave. It was bought by the firm of Van Eeghen on June 19, 1855. Jan van Eeghen had the American


ship inspected before he bought it. He found it to be a well built ship but in a bad state of maintenance: ‘It is a more or less neglected housekeeping; they (the owners) do not know themselves what is on board. The condition of the hawsers is bitterly poor (‌) The sails are not in much better condition. The chronometer is very old and of unknown make. There are no maps, instruments or books.’ Both cousins were active in many social foundations. The most well known is the Association for the Labor class founded by Christiaan Pieter van Eeghen in 1852. This company bought decrepit houses, tore them down and built new houses for the lesser off (see also walk nr. 2, point 16 on the map).


herengracht 476 David de Neufville, later Dirk Dirkzs. van Lennep

Walk farther down the canal and stop at Herengracht 476. In May of 1708, the Mennonite clothes merchant David de Neufville and his wife Agneta came to live in the house at Herengracht 476. The family lived here for the most part of the 18th century. This building also was built after a design by Philips Vingboons. At the beginning of the 17th century, Daniel de Neufville (born in 1554) established himself in Amsterdam and started a trading firm. In the course of the 17th century the family changed to silk trade as did many Mennonites in this period. For example, the Mennonite Jacob van Lennep (1631-1704) started a silk factory together with his brother thus introducing this branch of industry in Amsterdam. The silk industry became so important in the course of the 17th century that the Silk Hall (Zijdehal) was built on the Groenburgwal in 1650. In this hall, raw as well as dyed silk was weighed and assessed. With the profits from the silk industry and silk manufacturing, the family capital of the De Neufvilles and Van Lenneps increased considerably. Because of this they were able to establish themselves on the newly formed Herengracht and Keizersgracht. In 1711 Petronella de Neufville (1688-1749) married Jacob van Lennep (1686-1725). In 1725 Herengracht 476 was greatly rebuilt by Dirk Dirksz.


Van Lennep. He was married to Catharina de Neufville who had inherited the building from her extravagantly rich father, David de Neufville. Pieter Langendijk wrote a poem on the occasion of their wedding. Herengracht 476 has a brick frontage, interchanged with natural stone pilasters, and has a natural stone raised ledge. De Syreeder, etching by Jan Luiken from the Spiegel van het Menselijk Bedrijf, 1718.

In this ledge an eagle spreads his wings over the coat of arms. On either side of the coat of arms are statues of Mercurius and Fortuna, shipping and trade. The back of the house was enhanced with a clock which struck every half hour and in the garden a pavilion was built in the baroque style. It became the custom in the 17th century for rich owners along the canals to place a building across the complete width of the lot in the back of the garden. Here, in these decorated pavilions tea was drunk in the afternoons. After investments in the Dutch East India failed, it was impossible for Dirk Dirksz. Van Lennep to finance the expensive rebuilding of his house. To try to climb out of these financial difficulties


he used the inheritance of his children to speculate in coffee from Java. This also failed. He could no longer pay back the loans to his family. He asked his younger brother, who was married to one of his step-daughters and the husband of his other step-daughter to manage the rest of his capital. To avoid public scandal, the property of Dirk van Lennep was sold to his family. The beautiful estate Meerenberg by Heemsted went to his sister-in-law Petronella de Neufville. The house and contents on the Herengracht were sold to Jean de Wolff for 70,000 Guilders. Dirk van Lennep moved to Utrecht and received a yearly settlement. The house was later inhabited by Aarnoud van Lennep, the son of Petronella de Neufville. In 1927, Herengracht 476 came into possession of Georgina Mirandolle who had just joined the Mennonites. She had the interior and gable restored to its original glory in 1928 and 1942. The gable looked exactly as it had in the days of Dirk Dirksz. Van Lennep. Ms. Mirandolle was fond of her house and was very concerned when the German Luftwaffe confiscated it in 1943. Fortunately damage was minor. In her later years she decided to donate the building to the Hendrick de Keyser Foundation on condition that she may spend the rest of her life living there. Since 1981 the building is used by the Prince Bernhard Culture Funds. Various ceiling paintings have been added, including some by Jacob de Wit. The garden and pavilion are furnished as they were in the days of Dirk Dirksz. Van Lennep. Herengracht 476 is not open to the public.


herengracht 512 Cornelis van Lennep

Continue walking in the direction of the Vijzelstraat. Cross the bridge and go to Herengracht 512. In this house with simple brick frontage, lived Cornelis van Lennep (1751-1813) from 1778 to 1813. Cornelis van Lennep and his son David van Lennep (17741853) held important positions in the country’s government. In a brochure of 1787 it appears that a political opponent described Cornelis as a ‘Mennonite weathervane’. The father of Cornelis, who was Mennonite, had gone over to the public church in 1745 and Cornelis also chose this church. Cornelis preferred the politics


of Amsterdam which is obvious in the different positions he held between 1776 and 1787. Through his marriage to the burgher’s daughter Cornelia Henriëtte van de Poll, it was easy for this Haarlem born Cornelis van Lennep to achieve administrative functions in the city. Cornelis van Lennep became member of the National Assembly in the former ballroom of William V in The Hague. It was the task of the assembly to form a new constitution for the newly formed political system. All faiths were declared equal; this meant that everyone was allowed to profess his faith in public – also the Mennonites. Betje Wolff and Aagje Deken described this new freedom in the following poem (map location 2). Remonstrants, Mennonites Heretics according to the Dordt’s teachings Pupils of Socinus Are no longer monsters for the people. Then, the scorn, oh fellow Christians Is past, is over! Armenians, you are free! Roman Catholics, Luther’s followers! Quiet Quakers be assured! Freedom serves your concerns The fire of quarrel is smothered. Now, o brothers, Israel’s offsprings! Will your souls be comforted! You may speak as free people. Now no taught fuss Can rob you of your right To speak of the rights you demand. For the first time, all religious minorities partook of the government. But the high expectations were not answered. The differences of opinion were unbridgeable and the meetings tedious and boring. During a turbulent time in which the strife between patriots and those favoring royalty was at its peak, and periods of govern-


ment policies changed often, Cornelis van Lennep fulfilled his duties in the country’s politics with reluctance. He was appointed provisional representative of the people of Holland in The Hague (1795-1798). Letters have been found of this period in which he wrote to his friends on the back of voting results. The meetings of the peoples’ representatives must have been very boring. In 1803 he received the opportunity to return to Amsterdam. That year a new Board of Aldermen was appointed and he was chosen as chairman. During the time of the Kingdom of Holland, he was obliged to hold judiciary functions. His son, David van Lennep, professor of ancient languages at the Atheneum Illustre in Amsterdam (later the Univercity of Amsterdam), followed in the footsteps of his father. He was member of the Provincial States from 1815 to 1853. Cornelis van Lennep owned a menagerie containing an illustrious collection of beautiful and rare birds on het estate Huis te Manpad. Besides his academic interest in birds he was an enthusiastic bird catcher. Bird catching was a much loved pastime in the 18th century. Even children were allowed free from school to help catch birds. During migration, finches and other small birds were caught. Cornelis van Lennep had made a finch track for this purpose. Blinded finches served as decoys to catch wild birds. On both sides of the finch track lay nets folded so that they could be raised to prevent the finches from flying farther. Cornelis was accustomed to note down his findings on bird catching. His Factie Fringilar is an academic description of the migration and life style of finches. There still exists a finch track and finch house the Van Lennep family used in the middle 19th century in the visitors’ center De Oranjekom in Vogelenzang.


herengracht 497 Pieter van Eeghen en C.P. van Eeghen

Walk back to the Vijzelstraat. Cross the bridge to the uneven numbers of the Herengracht and continue on to nr. 497. In 1885 this house was bought by Pieter van Eeghen (1844-1897). He


rebuilt Herengracht 497 and made a few changes. Among others he built a staircase to reach the mezzanine floors. The façade was changed in the 19th century. The doorstep was removed and the entrance placed at street level. In order to enlarge the house, the former owner had added the hall to the living room. Van Eeghen had the family dining room which viewed the canal rebuilt. The interior was applied by the Flemish cabinet makers and for this reason it is still called the Mechels room. His son, Christiaan Pieter (1880-1968) changed the room on the garden side. His parents had used this room as living quarters. Later it housed Pieter Christiaan’s beautiful collection of drawings (location 4 on the map). The drawings he collected were of topographical nature. Through the collection one is able to see how Amsterdam changed in the course of time. An important part of his collection are the diagrams of Mennonite churches and Mennonite life. In addition the collection contains works of Mennonite artists such as drawings by Christiaan Andriessen, paper cuttings by Joanna Koerten Blok and the topographical pictures of Pronk. Chirstiaan Pieter van Eeghen was a dedicated board member of various institutions, such as Charity according to Capital, The Rembrandt House and Chamber of Commerce. He also spent much time on the family tradition of board member of the Association for the Labor class (see also walk nr. 2, location 16). At Herengracht 497 the KattenKabinet is now situated, open from Monday until Friday from 10.00 to 14.00 and on Saturday and Sunday from 13.00 to 17.00. A striking discovery is the 17th century ceiling painting of the patroness of Amsterdam on the mezzanine, done by the pupil of De Lairesse.


herengracht 475 Petronella de Neufville

The walk takes us to Herengracht 475. Since 1727, this house had been rented by Petronella de Neufville who came from a family of silk manufacturers. She bought the building three years after the death of her father. Together with her husband and cousin, Mathias de Neufville, she had the whole house rebuilt to become one of the most beautiful city palaces of Amsterdam. The original building was torn down after which it was rebuilt in a luxuri-


ous decorative style of Lous XIV under auspices of Daniël Marot (1661-1752). In this same period, her sister Catharina, together with her husband, Dirk Dirksz. Van Lennep, rebuilt the house diagonally across the street at Herengracht 476 in the same style. This was all possible because of the inheritance of the father of Catharina and Petronella. Besides this, Catharina inherited the estate Meerenberg from her father. The façade of the house of Petronella and Mathias de Neufville is of sandstone and has a double curb. The gable is crowned with a stone raised ledge at the corner of which stand chimneys and decorative vases. In the middle a graceful cartouche has been added in relieved surface above which a globe is depicted. A child on the relief surface shakes the fruit out of the tree while another child tries to catch the apples. Two women lean against the middle part. Behind the front door one finds a roomy high ceilinged hall. Through the slightly narrower hallway the carriage house at the back of the garden can be seen. In the center of this hall stands an ornate stairway. Along the staircase stand life-sized statues of Venus and Adonis in the flower decorated niches. Along the three sides of the staircase stand Apollo, patron of the arts, and the two muses of theater and music, Talia and Euterpe. Well-known artists such as Jan van Logteren, Isaac de Moucheron and Jacob de Wit assisted in the beautification of the house of Petronella and Mathias de Neufville. Van Logteren made the sculptures for the façade, the hallways and the majestic staircase. De Moucheron painted the walls of one of the rooms of the house. In a room at the back, a ceiling painting of the “Catch of Callisto/Diana returning from the hunt” has been painted by Jacob de Wit. After the financial disaster of her brother-in-law, Dirk van Lennep, Petronella bought the estate of Meerenburg at Bennebroek. David van Lennep-De Neufville, the son of Petronella, joined the public church in the middle of the 18th century. By joining this church it was possible for him to take the position of alderman in the administrative office in Haarlem.



herengracht 431 hoofdingang doopsgezinde kerk Bij het Lam

Walk to the Leidsestraat and cross over. On the other side you walk to Herengracht 431, the original main entrance of the Mennonite church. The main entrance is situated in a small square of sycamore trees. The street side of the square is closed off with a gate. The gable holds the plaque ‘Flying/Bird’ which originally was situated on the former Mennonite church The Olive Branch (De Olijftak). In 1996 this plaque was brought to the Singel Church. ‘Flying/Bird’ is a figure by Wessel Couzijn which was especially made in 1955 for the new church De Olijftak in the suburb of Slotermeer. The reason for choosing this name can be connected to the suburbs built in Amsterdam after the war. The olive branch stands for a new beginning: in the Bible story of the flood the dove brought Noah an olive branch as a sign that there was land available where he could settle. The name of the olive branch was also used for the Confession of Faith or Scriptural Instruction, Het Olijftacxken which was used in an attempt to reunite the Mennonites in the 17th century. In 1664 a schism took place in the Flemish between the more and lesser strict believers. Their minister, Galenus Abrahamsz. De Haan, attached little importance to church doctrines. His ideas were strongly influenced by the Collegiants. The Mennonite Church could not prove that they were the only true Christian Church he found. If anyone lived an indisputable life and declared himself to agree with the principle of non-violence, he could partake in communion in the Mennonite church, regardless of his religious background. This explanation of the Mennonite faith was too liberal for another minister, Apostool. He addressed his criticism to the importance which Galenus and his supporters gave to the confession of faith. According to Apostool, the Mennonite faith must be apparent in a well defined confession of faith. This conflict of opinion ended up in a huge war of pamphlets. Accusations flew back and forth and people were brought into discredit, an example being the pamphlet ‘Crowing of a Socianian rooster in Mennonite plumage’, referring to Galenus de Haan whose last name means ‘rooster’. The supporters of Apostool were called Mennonite Apos-


toolists because their explanation of the Bible was too close to that of the Calvinists. A pamphlet was even named after this conflict: Lammerenkrijgh/Anders Mennonisten Kercken-Twist (War of the Lambs, Mennonite church conflict) of 1663. Passing out bread at com munion in the Mennonite

church Bij het Lam, 1736, etching by Jacobus van der Schley, Bijzondere Collecties UvA, Mennonitica.

Galenus de Haan and his supporters were prevented from entering the church at Singel 452 by the supporters of Apostool. The conflicts attracted much publicity and the strife ran to such an extent that the city government had to come between them. This is apparent from the ordinance of the city’s burgomasters on January 10, 1664: ‘that they (the Mennonite congregation) shall refrain from bringing subtle questions or disputes to the pulpit which concern the everlasting Divinity of Jesus Christ or other points liking to belong to the teachings of the Socinians’. In this citation it is apparent that the government wished no religious conflict concerning subjects such as the Divinity of Jesus Christ and refusing to acknowledge the Holy Trinity: God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Although Galenus de Haan was assigned to the church Bij het Lam, the city government forbade him to preach these ideas which leaned toward the Socinian faith from the pulpit. The city government restricted its task to arranging supervision of the administration and bookkeeping. Under leadership op Apostool, 500 to 600 members left and bought the brewery De Zon at Singel 118. Here they founded their own church: The Sun (De Zon). Galenus and Apostool were able to work together when fellow brothers in foreign countries needed support. Then the delegates of the Mennonite congregations in Amsterdam called a meeting in which it was decided to hold a collection in all the Amsterdam churches.


That the accusations named in the Ordination of 1664 were not completely wrong, is apparent in the fact that Galenus de Haan sometimes allowed Collegiants to gather in one of the rooms Bij het Lam. Among the Collegiants was a small group who proclaimed the ideas of the Socinians. In 1801, after much negotiation, the Verenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente (combined Mennonite congregation) was formed which held her services in the Singelkerk. They used the church which was originally visited by the Flemish Mennonites.


herengracht 346 De Oranjeappel, boys’ section

After the square, you walk to the right on the Herengracht and continue to the first bridge. Cross the bridge at the Wijde Heisteeg and walk along the even numbers to Herengracht 346. Behind the 17th century step-roofed gable of this house was situated the boys’ section of the orphanage, De Oranjeappel (the girls’ section was at Huidenstraat 2). This building was bought by the RijnsBaptism by immersion by the Collegiants at het Grote Huis in Rijnsburg in 1736, etching by Balthasar Bernaerts.

burger Collegiants in 1680. It was situated behind the house that the Collegiants used on the Keizersgracht and was connected to the house on the Herengracht. This house, which originally had an orange in the gable, was rented from burgomaster and bailiff, Nicolaas Opmeer. On July 11, 1675, a concept act was drawn in which it was established that the house on the Herengracht would be used to admit orphans.


Originally it was an obligation for admittance that the parents had been advocates of defenselessness. By defenselessness, one meant that parents had denounced use of violence. This changed later and all orphans who could not find another place were accepted. During the French occupation the general conscription The large hall of the orphanage De Oranjeappel in 1917: the family having a meal.

was introduced in the Netherlands. The country fell under the rule of Napoleon who rounded up men for his army in all the lands he occupied. Some of the Mennonites who still upheld the principle of defenselessness could no longer stay clear of conscription by paying for freedom. The orphans in the Collegiant orphanage were also no longer exempted. In spite of all the protesting from the regents, all boys aged fifteen and older were called up in 1811 as ‘garde pupils’ of the king of Rome (Napoleon’s son) to serve their military conscription. Seven boys were taken of which two did not return. In 1861 the building was rebuilt. This provided better accommodations for the children and the regents. In 1919 the orphanage moved to the Lairessestraat.


herengracht 316 Gijsbrecht Antwerpen Verbrugge

Continue walking along Herengracht to Nr. 316. This house was occupied by the Mennonite banker Gijsbrecht Antwerpen Verbrugge (1717-1777) in the 18th century. In the second half of the 18th century, Verbrugge was co-partner in the firm of Verbrugge & Goll. This company handled loans for the Imperial Court of Austria.


Gijsbrecht Antwerpen Verbrugge was the first to give the beginning Mennonite artist, Jacob Cats (1741-1799) (location 13 on walk nr. 2) the assignment of painting murals in his house. In this period it was style to use idealized Dutch landscapes as subject for wallpaper murals. In the art minded Mennonite circles one would Chest containing tools of aid of the Society for the rescue of drowning victims: Idealen op leven en dood, Den Haag 1992.

join this fashion (also location 14). Along with Jacob de Clercq, Verbrugge was one of the initiators of founding the Society for the Rescue of Drowning Victims in 1767. The inaugural meeting took place in the house of Jacob de Clercq on the Keizersgracht across from the Westertoren. The association was a special one because its aimed its activities at achieving a practical goal. It had come to the attention of the founders that drowning people were offered no help because one thought they were dead. A drowning man feels cold, is bleak-blue and his pulse is almost undeterminable. Besides this, because of an old ordinance, one first had to make sure there was no crime involved. The drowning man must lie with his feet in the water until it was certain that he had died a natural death. For this reason, the medical aspect of rescuing drowning men came to stand at the foreground of the Society for the rescue of drowning victims. Cornelis van Engelen, a Mennonite minister, wrote about this in the spectators’ magazine De Philosooph on August 24, 1767: ‘While one does something completely different from what one should do, or actually, while one does not hurry to


help: where the foremost reason is, the biased opinion, at least in this area, that when a drowning man is raised out of the water and gives no sign of life, no one is allowed to take this person into his house, not even to touch him accept to hold him to keep his head above water’. So, how to help a drowning victim? This was to be the issue of a large public action initiated by this Society. The director made a poster to describe how a person drowning could be saved. There were 10,000 posters printed and hung up in many parts of Amsterdam. Besides this the Society sent announcements to churches and governments. Even in inns and the smallest beer stores these texts could be found. Even het Spinhuis (spinning house) and the new Werkhuis (workplace) were instructed as to how one could rescue drowning people. The Society offered a bonus as reward for rescuing someone from drowning. This could be money, but also a gold or silver medal. A certain number of conditions had to be met before they decided that the prize should be given. There had to be a written account of the rescue. This account had to be brought to the bookstore of Pieter Meyer on the Vijgendam. After certainty about the rescue was achieved, the prize was given. On the silver medal one received was a symbolic engraving of the rescue. On one side a woman depicted humanity. She was bent over a naked drowning person who lay unconscious at her feet at the edge of the water. With one hand she protected the man, while with the other she pushed back death which rose up from the water. The Latin verse along the edge read: Smothered in water, on his homeland he is returned to his family. On the other side of the medal the name of the rescuer was engraved with the text: Ob servatum civem dono societ. Amstelaed. MDCCLXVII. This meant: A reward for saving a citizen, granted by the Amsterdam Society founded in 1767. This medal is still handed out by the Society. One reads newspapers and periodicals to see if people are eligible for the medal. When applying for a medal the mayor and police are asked for further information about the rescue. The board decides whether the reward is to be given in the form of a medal or certificate. The mayor hands out this reward in the name of the Society. Since 1846, the Society for the Rescue of Drowning Victims is situated on the Rokin.



herengracht 310 Jan van Eeghen and Cornelia de Clercq

Walk on until Herengracht 310. Three houses further on, Jan van Eeghen (1729-1760) lived with his wife Cornelia de Clercq (1729-1801). Jan van Eeghen started with financing ships which sailed to the islands of the West Indies. Besides that he traded in insurances, money and precious metals. His trade reached to cities in the Mediterranean area and the Baltic cities. The Van Eeghen family used the trade routes of the West India Company (WIC) for their trade in coffee, sugar, tobacco and indigo. The main trade product in the period was sugar cane which was harvested and processed by slaves in Brazil and Cuba. The WIC had its headquarters in Curaรงao as of 1634, the city in which Mantelpiece, carved in wood, in the house on Herengracht 310.


Jan van Eeghen concentrated his trade. Cornelia de Clercq, who survived her husband by several years, had a specially decorated mantelpiece built in memory of him, in their house on the Herengracht. It is a wooden carving of an allegoric scene of trade by the Van Eeghen family in Curaçao and Venezuela. The port of Curaçao is depicted with Fort Amsterdam. Goods are traded under the supervision of Mercury. Especially noticeable are the children holding the globe. This picture represents the trading activities of the Van Eeghen family in the West. (see inserted picture). Mural painter Jacob Cats painted the murals on the wall paper for the large hall on Herengracht 310. On the murals, which are still visible today, one sees examples of idealized Dutch countryside. On one wall one sees a wide river lined with trees. A ferryboat brings people and goods to the other side. There are also sand paths with livestock. In the background, the blades of the windmill in the polder turn in the wind.


herengracht 248 Tecum Habita

Walk on to Herengracht 248. The present gable of this house has a rectangular frame with pediments dating back to 1797. The original entrance was above the basement and provided entrance to the ground floor by way of stairs. The house was built in 1619. The three upper floors had shutters and were used for storing goods. The entrance has been moved to the left and the door is framed by a stone port. Since the beginning of the 17th century this house is known by the name, Tecum Habita, the shortcut of which, TH, we see above the door. It means : Live with yourself ( there’s no place like home). After Mennonite families (Van Lennep and De Neufville) had lived in the house in the 18th century, a church was built for the Moravians in 1799. The building was rebuilt: the first and second floors were used as church and the windows on the second floor received arched windows. In the first half of the 18th century, Moravians looked for con-


tact with people unattached to an official church such as the Protestant or Lutheran Church. Mennonites were also such people. The government was afraid of the possible influence of the way Moravians professed their faith and frowned upon the contact they had with Mennonites. After they had a meeting with Van Bempden, one of the mayors of Amsterdam who was also director of the Society of Surinam, it became possible for them to do mission work in that area. A group of Moravians moved to this colony where they became the most important Christian group. In the Netherlands the Moravians have their headquarters on the Slotlaan in Zeist.


herengracht 186 Frederik Muller (before the breakthrough between Singel, Herengracht and Keizersgracht)

Walk on to the Raadhuisstraat. On this side of the Herengracht, the Mennonite Frederik Muller (1817-1881) lived at number 186 before the breakthrough. His father, Samuel Muller, was professor at the Mennonite Seminary. Frederik Muller was the first person in the Netherlands to concern himself with the history of books at an academic level. He auctioned books and made catalogues for The bookbinder, engraving by Jan Luiken, in his Spiegel van het Menselijk Bedrijf, 1718.


these auctions. He is considered to be the founder of modern antique store. He arranged the archives of the Mennonite congregation. His love of books started during his youth. In the attic of the back part of the house, the children of the Muller family amused themselves with the old books which stood in high cupboards, and the two office desks with old papers, maps and prints. His ten year younger sister, Femina Muller writes about this in her memoires: ‘Hours on end some of us (children) sat there on the ground, while no one knew where we were, sniffing through and reading old novels of Richardson, Feith, Loosjes, Miss Post, Wolff and Deken and the Kleine plichten van juffrouw De Neufville.’


raadhuisstraat up to the Keizersgracht Breitner

Walk along the Raadhuisstraat until the Keizersgracht. The Raadhuisstraat is the result of the decision of the city to make a direct connection between the Dam and the new suburbs to the west. On this place, at the end of the 19th century, the painter Breitner (1857-1923) recorded the demolition of the 17th century houses. He made photographs, paintings and drawings of the changed situation of the Raadhuisstraat. Breitner later received money from the George Hendrik Breitner Foundation which was founded on June 10, 1917 for the poor painter by the Mennonite banker and art collector, Christiaan Pieter van Eeghen.


the house that disappeared on the Keizersgracht, opposite the Westerkerk Jacob de Clercq

Diagonally across the street you see the Westerkerk on the Westermarkt. This is how Jacob de Clercq must have seen the


Westerkerk from his house on the Westermarkt in the 18th century. The bridge over the water of the Keizersgracht was then much narrower. In the 18th century the Keizersgracht consisted of a row of houses. After 1753, Jacob de Clercq lived here on the unevenly numbered side. He had a small laboratory built on his flat roof: a hut with windows on all sides where he, protected from wind and rain, could observe the stars and heavens. Jacob de Clercq was one of the founders of the Society for the Rescue of Drowning Victims.


corner of prinsengracht / westermarkt Café Kalkhoven, Hendrick Uylenburgh

Cross the bridge over the Keizersgracht to the Westermarkt. On the other side, at the corner of the Prinsengracht, is the Café Kalkhoven. As of 1658 the art gallery of Hendrick Uylenburgh (1587-1661) was situated here. In the 17th century travelers noticed that the Dutch liberally decorated their homes with paintings. While walking along the canals in Dutch cities such Amsterdam, Haarlem or Leiden and looking inside the windows, they were surprised to see that the walls were completely covered with large and small paintings. The Englishman, John Evelyn noted in his diary: ‘Pictures are very common here, there is scarce an ordinary tradesman whose house is not decorated with them.’ In the Netherlands of the 17th century a skilled painter could find work everywhere as the demand for art was enormous. The art gallery served as transactor and had many tasks. Existing paintings were bought by the gallery and sold on. The art gallery commissioned artists to make copies of the paintings of well known artists. Gallery holders received commissions to have portraits painted which they assigned to artists. They also sold prints. It was cheaper to buy an engraving than a picture. In the art galleries art students learned to paint and to draw by copying the masters. These paintings were also sold. Some assistants helped the masters with their paintings. And finally, you could have paint-


ings taxed for their value at an art gallery. A whole network was created of gallery holders, collectors, regents and other authorities who eagerly had themselves portrayed and buyers who found it important that their houses were decorated with all kinds of works of art. Hendrick Uylenburgh was an important art gallery holder who it is presumed was baptized in 1612 at the age of twenty five. He belonged to the Waterlanders. His art academy was known in many countries. Between 1658 and 1660 his firm was located on Prinsengracht 283 across from the Westerkerk. Many of his buyers resided in this area. Uylenburgh came from Dantzig around 1625 and settled in Amsterdam. The names Rembrandt and Uylenburgh were named together for the first time in 1631 when Uylenburgh ordered a painting by Rembrandt. Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam a short time later and lived with Uylenburgh. They became much involved with each other in the future. Uylenburgh’s family members were often featured in Rembrandt’s paintings. The painter married Saskia Uylenburgh, a niece of the gallery holder who came from the Protestant branch of the Uylenburgh family. Uylenburgh also acted as agent and publisher for Rembrandt for many years. Rembrandt also gave lessons at the art academy of Uylenburgh. After Hendrick Uylenburgh had lived on the Prinsengracht for two years, he moved to the Lauriergracht 76-78. He established himself in the house of the recently deceased Govaert Flinck. The Mennonite Govaert Flinck, had, just as Rembrandt, worked at the academy of Uylenburgh. Gerrit Uylenburgh followed in the footsteps of his father in the firm that was established on the Lauriersgracht as of 1661. In 1672 the art gallery of the family Uylenburgh came to an end. Because of poor economic conditions following the threat of war that year, the demand for paintings decreased. A series of Italian paintings proved to be of less value than Gerrit had thought. He came into great financial problems because of this. The situation became so serious that he had to leave his house secretly in 1672. End of the first walk


walk 2 The Anabaptist riots Enlightened Mennonites in the arts, sciences and society


beursplein and damrak close to the bijenkorf, across from the zoutsteeg The Sword runners

The second walk starts at the Beursplein (site of the stock market), diagonally across from the Zoutsteeg, close to the Bijenkorf. Until the 19th century the Amstel flowed as far as the Dam. Between 1530 and 1535, Amsterdam was under the spell of the radical Anabaptists. On March 22, 1534 Pieter the wood sawyer, Bartholomeus the bookbinder and Willem the barrel maker walked through Amsterdam with upheld swords, shouting that the coming of the Lord was nearby and that the people of Amsterdam should repent. These three Anabaptists were shocked at the arrest of the Anabaptists who were held on their ships in Amsterdam on their way to Münster. Münster had been taken that year by the Anabaptists who wished to prepare themselves for the Apocalypse there. The sword runners projected the end of times to Amsterdam. The called: ‘the benediction of God rests upon the righteous and the malediction upon the devious of this city!’ If one examines the city map of Cornelis Anthonisz. of 1538 carefully, this prophecy becomes clear. In this map the Oude Zijde lies on the left side, and the Nieuwe Zijde on the right. The Anabaptists regarded the Oude Zijde as doomed. This part of Amsterdam was built full of monasteries and the Oude Kerk was situated here. The right side, the Nieuwe Zijde, was the chosen side of the city according to the Anabaptists. This is where the most Anabaptists lived. They appealed to their expectations of the end of times when the righteous would sit on the right hand of God and on the left side were the people who would end up in hell, the doomed. The sword runners were captured and condemned by the court of Holland to death by the sword. It was the first time that heretics were executed publically in Amsterdam.



zoutsteeg The naked runners

Cross over to the Zoutsteeg and enter it. In a house on this street, nearly a year later in the middle of winter of 1535, a group of people – seven men and five women met. Under leadership of a prophet, Hendrik Hendriksz., this group came into an ecstatic state of mind. He claimed to have talked to God and said: ‘I have been in heaven and in hell’. After seeing a sign from God (a child Naked men and women in front of a burning house. Etching in: Lambertus Hortensius, The book of the riots of the Anabaptists (Het boeck van den oproer der Wederdooperen..).., Enkhuizen, 1624.

had thrown his slippers into the fire), they all took off their clothes and burned them. By burning earthly possessions they thought they could burn their ties to an earthly existence. They felt themselves reborn, like Adam and Eve in paradise, returned to the situations before the original sin. They ran outside and called: ’Pity for those upon whom God’s vengeance falls,’ expecting that God’s Kingdom on earth was nearby. They were captured and put into prison. In prison they refused to clothe themselves because, in their eyes, the truth was naked. In this manner they hoped to persevere in their belief that they were chosen ones.



gravenstraat, eggertstraat, the dam The Anabaptist riots

Continue walking in the Zoutsteeg near the Nieuwendijk, cross over to the Gravenstraat and continue to the square behind the Nieuwe Kerk where the Gravenstraat meets the Eggerstraat. Two months later in the same year (1535), armed Anabaptists Execution of the Anabaptists on the Dam in Amsterdam in 1535, pen and ink drawing attributed to Barend Dircksz., Amsterdam Museum.

attacked the city hall of Amsterdam. Their purpose was to capture Amsterdam, just as in M端nster, and found the new Jerusalem there. The attack of M端nster ended by capturing Jan Beukelsz. van Leyden, the leader of the Anabaptists, and the re-capture of the city by mercenaries of the Catholic prelate, Franz von Waldeck.


On January 12, 1536, Jan van Leyden and his followers were executed in Münster. A group of Anabaptists, together with leader, Jan van Gelen of Münster, had bought weapons and hidden them in the rhetoricians’ rooms in de Waag on the Dam. From the Gravenstraat and the Pijlsteeg (on the other side of the Dam) where they had gathered, they went to the Waag to get their weapons by way of small alleys: six guns, a banner and drum. The Dam, they called ‘the Place’, was much smaller than now. At the Kalverstraat stood the medieval city hall. Close to this street stood the Vierschaar, where judgment was passed. In front of this lay a gallery with three arches. Beside this was the bell tower and the oldest part of the city hall. From the Eggerstraat (which ends at the Dam nowadays), in 1535, going through the houses from the Kerkstraat (which then ran along the cemetery of the St. Catharinakerk, now Nieuwe Kerk) it was quite a walk before reaching ‘the Place’. From there it was about eight houses to the town hall (Raadhuis). Between the old Raadhuis and the Nieuwe Kerk stood a whole block of houses. From the Pijlsteeg (at the present Krasnapolsky) one had to cross the covered Vismarkt and the Middeldam (where the Monument of de Dam now stands) to ‘the Place’. The Middeldam was the dam made in the Amstel and upon part of which houses stood. The Anabaptists came from behind the protection of the houses after passing the Middeldam at the open water of the Amstel. Now it was only a short way to the Waag. On the evening of the attack the distinguished members of the Guild of the Cross (Kruisgilde) had organized a festive meal in the city hall. To heighten festivities the guild had had barrels of burning pitch placed on the Dam. A group of Anabaptists burst into the city hall where the celebration was at its peak. A heavy battled ensued in which sergeant Symen Claesz. and one of the burgomasters died. The other partygoers narrowly escaped. Armed citizens were called upon to defend the city hall. They placed themselves around the dam. During these fights many citizens lost their lives. The same night the citizens retreated only to return the next morning to resume the attack. Jan van Gelen sang Psalms on the Dam all night long. The Anabaptists were not able to refute the next attack. The help from outside which they had expected did not appear, and so


their occupation came to an end. Jan van Gelen fled into the bell tower of the city hall and was mortally wounded. The battle had demanded a heavy toll. Twenty eight Anabaptists died and between twenty and thirty five of the vigilance committee. Such an outburst of violence made a large impression on the small town it was then. The captured Anabaptists were murdered in gruesome manner. Their hearts were torn out right after their conviction. Their mutilated bodies were exhibited on Bodies of the Anabaptists hung up. Etching in: Lambertus Hortensius, The book of the riots of the Anabaptists (Het boeck van den oproer der Wederdooperen..).., Enkhuizen, 1624.

Volewijck on the other side of the IJ (River) as a warning. The painter, Barend Dirskz., at request of the burgomasters in 1536, made several large complicated pictures of these occurrences. The paintings were made for one of the rooms of the city hall. The artist lived behind the city hall and was witness to these gruesome events. The Anabaptist riots in Amsterdam and M端nster became the subject of plays and other literary works. Lambertus Hortensius, probably based his book of 1548, Tumultuum anabaptisticarum liber unus, on the paintings of the Anabaptists by Barend Dirksz. In this book, The book of the riots of the Anabaptists, translated into Dutch in 1624, the revolting Anabaptists were condemned. Later authors also did the same. Vondel also referred to the pictures of Barend Dirksz. and in


his poem for the new city hall in 1665 het described the naked runners and the Anabaptists who had attacked the city hall. He joined the events together in the first line of a fragment describing what happened. Vondel says that the Anabaptists attacked the members of the Guild of the Cross and spread lies. After the tragic events on the Dam and the violence of Münster, the Anabaptist movement refrained from using violence as a means to spread their ideals.


mozes-en-äaronstraat, jan rieuwertsz The elder and the younger

Walk through the Eggertstraat to the Mozes-en-Äaronstraat at the Dam. Continue into the Mozes-en-Aäronstraat (between the Nieuwe Kerk and the palace) up to the side-entrance of the Nieuwe Kerk. The Mennonite publishers and printers Jan Rieuwertsz. the elder (1616-1687) and Jan Rieuwertsz. the younger (16511723) are both buried in the Nieuwe Kerk. It was custom to bury citizens in the church in Amsterdam up until halfway through the 19th century. Jan Rieuwertsz lived and worked in the Dirk van Assensteeg, in the house with the sign ‘in ‘t martelaersboeck’. As the result of an ordinance he became the printer of the city of Amsterdam in 1675. Jan Rieuwertsz. had contacts with the Socinians and other aberrant religious groups and printed many of their works. They also came into his store where they held many discussions. The protestant ministers not only found him dangerous, but also the books he published. Among others he published works of Spinoza and Descartes. The church therefore asked the government to take measures against Rieuwertsz. His illegally printed publications were spread all over the world. After the death of Spinoza, whose funeral was paid for by Rieuwertsz., it was decided to publish all his works as Opera Postuma. Rieuwertsz. the elder published Spinoza’s Tractatus Theologicao-Politico clandestinely. This book stated ideas about the ordinance of God which ran contrary to the views of the state church.


His son, Jan Rieuwertsz., was also the city printer and lived in the Dirk van Assensteeg in his father’s house. In 1695 he and Aart Wolsgrein were summoned to court by the bailiff. Jan Rieuwertsz. had sold forbidden works of Spinoza. Also forbidden was the translation of the New Testament by Carel Catz which Jan Rieuwertsz. had printed in 1701. This is apparent by the confiscation of several examples by the bailiff. The money needed for the translation was granted by Willem Hemma, minister in the Mennonite congregation. One of the most remarkable books which Ran Rieuwertsz. published in 1690 was: ‘Description of the newly invented and patented fire hoses, her method of extinguishing fires, presently used in Amsterdam, written by Jan van der Heijden and his son. In this writing the invention of the fire hose was described.’


spuistraat and oudezijds achterburgwal Gathering place of the Mennonites after 1530

Walk to the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, cross over and walk to the right to the Molsteeg. Walk through the Molsteeg to the Spuistraat (formerly Nieuwezijds Achterburgwal), cross it and look to the north in the direction of the Spuistraat (direction of Central Station). After 1530 one of the houses on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal was used by Mennonites for their gatherings. Across from the Lijnbaanssteeg on the uneven side of the Oudezijds Achterburgwal was a house with a flat roof. This is clearly seen on the city plan of Cornelis Anthonisz. of 1544. During the Anabaptist riots on the Dam in 1535, the Anabaptists were threatened and persecuted. The bailiff, Jan Hubrechtsz., who was benevolent toward them, protected them as much as possible. Jan Volkertsz. had come to Amsterdam in 1530 to baptize fellow believers. He was the most dedicated follower of


Melchior Hoffman. With his inspiring interpretation of the Bible, Hoffman brought the Anabaptist ideas to the Netherlands. In the summer of 1531 Melchior Hoffman joined Jan Volkertsz. and together they baptized fifty people in the open air. Although the court wanted Jan Hubrechtsz. to arrest Volkertsz., he gave him the opportunity to escape. But Volkertsz. took no advantage of this. In The Hague he gave the names of the fifty people he had baptized. Nine of them were captured and beheaded with him.


bridge over the singel at the torensteeg At the Tower (Bij de Toren)

Walk through the Torensteeg to the Singel. Here you see an unusually wide bridge, paved with pebbles and with the statue by Hans Bayens of Multatuli (1820-1887) who was born and raise in this area. The Waterland congregation, At the Tower (Bij de Toren), gathered close to this bridge. The bridge was built by Jan Adriaansz. Leeghwater of Mennonite origin from De Rijp. At the end of the middle ages – Amsterdam was situated inside the walls of the Singel – a half round Jan Roodenpoortstoren stood here. The light colored pebbles indicate where the tower stood. The simple Jan Roodenpoortstoren was part of a small gate house in which the gate keeper lived who watched over the prisoners (the areas containing old prison cells are still under the wide bridge, the Torensluis). When Amsterdam was enlarged the outside of the tower was changed. The Mennonites bought an old warehouse close to the Jan Roodenpoortstoren in 1622. This warehouse was situated (diagonally to the north) in the block of houses between the Singel and Herengracht, bordered by the Oude Leliestraat and the Bergstraat. In this warehouse called – at the tower (Bij de Toren) – is where the Waterlanders met. They came from all over, especially Waterland and other parts of North Holland such as De Rijp. Concerning their attitude towards the world around them Wa-


terlanders were the most liberal. Compared to other Mennonite congregations in Amsterdam, these profited economically surprisingly quickly from the growth of the city in the 17th century. They partook in industry and trade and promoted the arts. The Waterlanders particularly based their faith on their own interpretation of the New Testament. This was obvious in their application of the ban. Jan Roodenpoortstoren in 1705.

Waterlanders did not easily apply the ban. They referred to the parable of the fig tree without fruits in St. Luke 13:6-9. In the congregation Bij de Toren this Bible passage was so interpreted that they found that one must attempt to keep people together as in the parable as long as possible. The parable tells of a fig tree which bore no fruit. When the owner wanted to cut it down, Jesus said that he should dig a trench around the tree. In this way the tree could be fertilized better. Only then could the tree bear fruit.


Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679), born of Mennonite parents who had fled from Antwerp because of their faith, was deacon with the Waterlanders in Amsterdam for four years (1616-1620). During this period they gathered in the warehouse between the Oude Nieuwstraat and the Teerketelsteeg. Many Mennonite silk merchants lived in the area of the Warmoesstraat. Vondel also had a silk-stocking trade in this street in the house of the present number 39. On the house the sign hung saying ‘the righteous faithfulness’. He chose a different view than De Ries, an important leader with the Waterlanders, who gave great importance to internal witness in faith next to interpreting the Bible literally. Vondel wanted to stay true to the Bible. With time Vondel tired of the differences. He lay down his task because of ‘greatly inconveniencing melancholy on his part’. During this time he suffered from melancholia which ‘weakened hem considerably (…), and caused him to wish he were dead’. At a later age (he was fifty three) he converted to Roman Catholicism. The French speaking Jesuit priest Pierre Larois of the Jesuit station De Krijtberg (a station was the name given to a parish in a mission area) succeeded in converting Vondel. He remained faithful to the Roman Catholic church for the rest of his life.


herengracht 197 The great Lord (de grooten Heer)

Walk through the Oude Leliestraat to the Herengracht. Turn left and continue until number 197. Here you see the former building of the Associatie Kassa, nicknamed the great Lord. In 1901 the architect C.B. Posthumus Meyjes built a large monumental building on this site. The building was the new headquarters of the Associatie Kassa, an important financial firm in Amsterdam. The façade of this building is asymmetrical and consists of four segments. The entrance is in the portal on the left side of the complex. This entrance leads to the large hall in the middle where the pay boxes were situated. Berlage’s influence on Meyjes is clearly seen in the combined use of decorated statues


and functional elements. The water reservoirs at the end of the ease troughs are definitely functional while the decorative statures were placed above the windows by the sculptor Schröder. These sculptures on the third floor symbolize the virtues: an owl as symbol of wisdom, an eagle for power, a pelican for faithfulness and a rooster portraying watchfulness. Originally nine mansions out of the 17th century stood here connected with the Singel. These buildings were demolished to build the present house. Meyjes wrote the following in an architectural weekly about the demolition: ‘having to witness the destruction of the dignified mansions with sorrow. But the demands of today require sacrifices of the past’. Halfway through the 19th century there was an entrance door on the ground floor in the middle of the originally large mansion. It lead to a long hall. This hallway lead to the indoor building of the Associatie Kassa. The author, Bordewijk (1884-1965), whose father was a clerk on the Singel and who lived in one of the houses belonging to the Associatie Kassa, writes the following: ‘How gloomy the long hall might be, black with only two streaks of light from lighting shafts and gas lighting on the ceiling (…) as soon as the visitor had rounded the corner (…) he suddenly stood in the middle of the Kas, behind an ochre colored bar in a room with walls painted yellow and where a few clerks were working.’ The Associatie Kassa had started elsewhere. The firm was started on March 10, 1806 at Keizersgracht 132 by Jacob van Geuns (1769-1832) who was also one of the first directors. He was of Mennonite heritage. Although trained as a physician, he was unable to practice this profession his entire life because of poor health. The Associatie Kassa was formed under influence of his brother-in-law, Dirk Jan Voombergh. The day before the Kassa opened, six staff members counted the money in 1045 money bags filled with Guilders and silver coins. These money bags were kept in cupboards and strongboxes in the cashiers office, in the cellar, and in the summer house in the garden of the building on the Keizersgracht. The starting capital of the Kassa came from a number of Amsterdam’s bankers and cash brokers who all held a share in the Kassa. These shares paid out dividends. This new establishment was founded as a sort of nameless partnership and therefore held


a large capital of its own. This capital could not be claimed directly and could therefore be used for long term investments or leant out with interest. This available cash answered the urgent necessity of the time, safe money. Cash orders or cheques were receipts which could be exchanged for coins. The Associatie Kassa kept people’s money which could be claimed directly and charged a certain percentage for this service. Stakeholders could receive advance payment and take out loans. In 1813, the year in which Napoleon left the Netherlands in financial chaos, the Mennonite bankers Bosch & De Clercq came into problems. They succeeded in reorganizing their firm into an office which received and paid money. The father of Jacob van Geuns reacted to this in a letter of disappointment: ‘It seems there is a second Associatie Cassa which, they say, will serve nearly all the Mennonites.’ This ‘Receive and Pay’ office was taken over by the Kas-Society in 1929. In 1955 the Associatie Cassa and Kas-Society united in the Kas Associatie. After Napoleon was called back to France the money market experienced great financial crisis in the years following 1810. Netherlands had been incorporated into the French Empire. Since 1795 the government was obliged to issue loans causing a decrease of money in circulation. On top of this Napoleon reduced interest payment to one third, thus extracting even more money from the Netherlands. This aggravated the situation even more. The Associatie Kassa was still able to maintain itself well in spite of these circumstances. They suffered losses in 1813, clients began mistrusting them and came to the money cellars for the duration of a whole day, removing cash, but the Associatie Kassa was able to continue to keep up payments and even attract new clients. Other banks, such as the firm of Bosch & De Clercq were less fortunate. Also other Mennonite institutions, such as the orphanage on the Prinsengracht, did not have sufficient funds and had to merge with the orphanage De Oranjeappel of the Collegiants.



herengracht 164 Philips de Flines

Walk to the Raadhuisstraat, cross the bridge and walk to the right on the Herengracht to numbers 164 and 162. In the 17th century two Mennonite collectors lived here: Philips de Flines and Agnes Blok. Agnes Blok was married to Sijbrandt de Flines, a family member of Philips de Flines. Philips de Flines (1640-1700), a foremost silk merchant and silk manufacturer, lived Huis Messina (Herengracht 164). In Paris he had become impressed by the classical architecture and had his house built according to the design of Philips Vingboons (1607-1678). It is possible that De Flines had become acquainted with the book De Afbeelsels in which the architect Vingboons published his designs. The painter, Gerard de Lairesse, has painted Philips de Flines in his art room surrounded by art and sculptures. In this painting, De Flines has an etching in his hand and on the wall hangs a map of the city of Rome. He is dressed in a Japanese dress, a dressing gown, and looks at the observer full of self confidence. Philips de Flines was able to assemble his collection because of the money his family earned in the silk industry. Being very interested in classical ideals of beauty, he had seen many art collections during his trips to Paris. He was interested in Italian art and sculptures of classical antiquity. It is therefore not surprising that his collections of drawings and etchings contained works of Michelangelo and RafaĂŤl. Besides books and costly furniture he possessed porcelain and lacquered art. In his house on the Herengracht the many foreign guests De Flines entertained reported over his art room. The room was situated on the first floor at the front of the house and the side room also contained many pieces of art. The walls of his house were painted by De Lairesse. De Flines belonged to the economically elite of the Mennonites. He also had an estate along the Spaarne with an orangery house and garden in which he grew exotic plants. His knowledge of growing lemon trees was derived from one of his many books. In 1743 the family sold Huis Messina. The interior of Herengracht 164 as well as the exterior were rebuilt in Louis XV style causing


the symmetry to be much less obvious than in the days of Philips de Flines.


herengracht 162 Agnes Blok

Continue walking to Herengracht 162 where Agnes Blok lived. In the 18th century the house had a sculptured pediment which was later replaced by a straight cornice gable. In the 17th century the Mennonite, Agnes Blok (1629-1704), lived on her estate De Vijverhof at Loenen aan de Vecht for most of the year. Apparent from a list of drawings of flowers, plants, birds and insects, Agnes had a greenhouse on her estate with many varieties of exotic fruits and plants such as pineapples, cacti, aloe and lemon trees. She even succeeded in having the golden yellow pineapple bloom in winter. Agnes Blok requested many artists, among them Maria Sebilla Merian, her daughter Helena Herolt-Graff and Herman Saftleven, to preserve her plants and flowers in paintings. Her collections also included shells, corals and insects. Agnes Blok is depicted on a medal as Flora Batava. She was acclaimed as the Dutch goddess of flowers. On the medallion one sees a blooming pineapple in one of the pots at her feet. The inscription reads: ‘work and art accomplish what nature comes short of’ referring to the fact that she succeeded in allowing exotic plants to bloom. In the 17th century it was customary to place subscriptions along with a collection of flowers making parallels with the stories of the Bible or ancient classics. The religious aspect was reflected in everything which nature produced. One speaks of this period as the ‘Bible of Nature’. Nature was to be controlled and adorned, the reason for symmetrically designed gardens decorated with classical statues. On her estate Agnes Blok expressed this aspiration. She combined ‘the art of nature’ and visual arts in their own universe. Vondel, an uncle of Agnes Blok, write a poem at the occasion of her wedding to Sybrandt de Flines: (free translation)


One can beautify the land by sowing and planting flowers, thus helping the goddess of flowers. Plants and flowers exquisitely cut out in paper decorate the hearth. The other meets nature by weaving plants and flowers into silk materials, more beautiful than nature gives to us. What else can such a marriage between such wise people create than satisfaction? It is apparent in Vondel’s description that Agnes Blok, next to growing flowers, spent time with the fine art of paper-cutting. It is also clear from the poem that her husband was a silk merchant and produced silk fabrics with flower designs.


herengracht between bergstraat and oude leliestraat Martinus Nieuwenhuijsen

Walk to the bridge crossing the Leliegracht. Diagonally across, on the Herengracht between the Bergstraat and the Oude Leliestraat, in the same block where Bij de Toren was situated, lived Martinus Nieuwenhuisen ( 1759-1793). He held practice as physician and was contracted to both the Mennonite congregations, Bij het Lam and De Zon. He was also a deacon in De Zon. One of the entrances to this church was situated between Herengracht 109 and 111. Now you find a small façade with a golden sun. This was the former entrance through a small alley. Through their religious convictions, many Mennonites worked toward improving the position and circumstances of the poor and less cultured of society. During the seventies of the 18th century great poverty and unemployment raged. Mennonites such as Cornelis Ris (1717-1790) and Jan Nieuwenhuijsen (17241806) – the latter of which created the Dutch association for Public Welfare (Maatschappij tot Nut van ‘t Algemeen) – started


Jan van Nieuwenhuyzen (1724-1806). Engraving by W. van Senus about 1796.

Martinus van Nieuwenhuyzen ( 1759-1793).


organizations grounded on ‘Charity, love of the neighbor, to do well in general and especially to the most miserable, all through watching the most pitiful decline in the prosperity of society, and with good morals’. In 1787 the head office of ‘t Nut was moved from Edam to Amsterdam. Martinus Nieuwenhuijsen, son of Jan, became its secretary. As secretary he developed a reading method and wrote textbooks, such as ‘Schoolbook of Dutch Virtues’ and, together with Adriaan Loosjes, ‘Life sketches of Dutch Men and Women’. Nieuwenhuijsen led a busy life. He also wrote poetry and a play. Besides this, Nieuwenhuijsen also worked together on a new song book intended for every Christian, whatever line of thoughts he may hold. As deacon of De Zon, it was clear to him that the old texts of the former centuries no longer sufficed. In 1811 the Napoleonic government forbade the sale of this songbook, de Grote Bundel. In a service in the Remonstrant church led by Rev. R. van Tentum, the following verse was sung, an innuendo to the French occupation: (free translation) Tyrants who have built your throne through blood and tears on ruins. They once will tremble and shake. How they shine and sparkle, not to sink in vanity. The church council of the Mennonite church of Amsterdam debated upon the prohibition of the government. It appeared that only selling the song book was prohibited, not singing its songs. They therefore continued to sing from it.


leliegracht between keizersgracht and prinsengracht Johannes Deknatel

From the corner of the Leliegracht/Herengracht, continue to the left along the Leliegracht. After crossing the bridge over the Keizersgracht you come to the part of the Leliegracht between Keizers-


gracht and Prinsengracht. The house of the Mennonite minister Johannes Deknatel (1698-1759) was formerly situated here. On June 2, 1749 a large riot took place here. During the service led by Deknatel, minJohannes Deknatel 1648 – 1759, doopsgezind predikant.

ister with the Lamists, a representative of the city government approached. He wanted to know if Deknatel had contacts with the pious group called the Hernhutters (Moravian Bretheren). The government feared the influence that could exude from the way they professed their faith. They discouraged contacts between Mennonites and Hernhutters. It was known that Deknatel worked together with Von Zinzendorf, leader of this group. Not all Mennonites approved of this cooperation. In a Yiddish report by Abraham Chaim Braatbard, it appeared that rumors circulated for days saying that the new faith misled people. Only no one knew exactly what the new faith entailed. It was said that the Hernhutters accepted the Jewish faith as true and also the laws of Moses. Another rumor said that among them


a terrible impurity prevailed that not even heathens could fathom. When the people in the house of Deknatel realized that the government official did not know the password, they refused him entrance to the service. This was a great offence to the official. The people in the streets were told that Deknatel wanted to strengthen his faith by belittling theirs. Young people threw stones through the windows. Deknatel came out to calm them down. It did not help. The militia, situated in the meat hall near the Westerkerk, was called in. By closing off the Leliegracht between the Prinsengracht and the Keizersgracht, they could prohibit plundering. Only residents were allowed entrance to their houses. In the end the Hernhutters did not find enough followers in Amsterdam. They sold the house in which they held their gatherings and settled in the former Castle of Zeist belonging to Earl Willem Adriaan van Nassau-Odijk.


leliegracht 49 Willem Writs

Walk on along the Leliegracht on the side of even numbers and look at Leliegracht 49 on the other side. This is the next to last house before the Prinsengracht. This brick house decorated with garlands was occupied by the watch en instrument maker, Willem Writs (1732-1786). The portrait of Willem Writs can be found in the city archives. It is part of the Van Eeghen collection. He is portrayed sitting astride a chair, his arm resting on the back, one leg resting on the rung of the chair, his face turned towards the observer. He is dressed in a narrow fitting jacket wearing a triangular cocked hat. Willem Writs was a member of the drawing society Pax Artium Nutrix (Peace is the nurture of the arts), founded in 1766. This association was comprised of lovers of drawings and professional artists such as Reinier Vinkeles. They met in the inn, De Zon, and mainly made drawings of each other. A few of these portraits have been saved and can be found in the collection of Van Eeghen. Willem Writs introduced his cousin, Jacob Cats the mural painter, into this company. There is a drawn portrait of Jacob Cats while


playing checkers. On November 3rd, 1777, the society, Felix Meritis (happy through merits) was founded in a meeting in his house on the Leliegracht. Forty people attended the meeting. This society concerned itself with society in a much broader sense than the others such as the drawing society and the association formed to save drowning victims. The founders of Felix Meritis formulated their ideals as follows: ‘The purpose of society is to encourage intelThe church of the Jan Jacobsgezinden, Bloemstraat 49-51, 1729. Drawing by Cornelis Pronk, Bijzondere collecties, UvA, Mennonitica.

ligence and good virtues and to allow arts and sciences to prosper.� The activities of Felix Meritis included the expansion of knowledge, active encouragement of arts and stimulation of scientific exploration under the wealthy citizens in keeping with the spirit of the Enlightenment. Most members were sought in merchant circles and independent professionals. In a specially built house, also called Felix Meritis on Keizersgracht 324, five different departments (physics, drawing, literature, music and economics) were practiced as of 1787. The rooms of the house were so designed by the architect, Husly, that they were suitable to the diverse activities. In Haarlem the Teylers Museum displayed arts and sciences to the public in the same manner. The museum was founded as a result of the legacy of Pieter Teyler van der Hulst. Cross the Prinsengracht and proceed directly to the left. From this canal it is clearly seen that the streets and canals do not align with the streets and concentric circles of the canal belt. When the Jordaan was formed, the existing pattern of fields and canals was preserved. Walk over the Prinsengracht to the Bloemstraat. Turn right on the Bloemstraat and continue to the corner of the Bloemstraat and 1e Bloemdwarsstraat. You will find new buildings on


Bloemstaat 47-57. These buildings stand where the former Mennonite church of the Old Frisians (Oude Friezen) was situated. The houses have names referring to the history of the Mennonites. (See insert). The Bloemgracht and Bloemstraat were laid out at the same time as the Prinsengracht in 1613. Here, in the former Leprozenland, the first building sites were issued in an area that was called the New Work in the 17th century, but is now known as the Jordaan. The building sites were much smaller than the houses on the Prinsengracht. The inhabitants of the Jordaan came from Brussels, Antwerp and Emden, but also from Groningen and Leeuwarden. In the 17th century many Mennonites lived here. In the Bloemstraat many craftsmen were involved in industries. The archives name such professions as linen weavers, tablecloth weavers and damask weavers. There was much conflict between the weaver and the smiths on the street. They thought that the stinking air could damage the cloths and that her colors could suffer. This all led to an enactment that smiths in the Bloemstraat and direct area were forbidden to work on the streets.


bloemgracht, uneven side Jacob Cats

Walk along the 1e Bloemdwarsstraat to the Bloemgracht. Halfway along on the uneven side you see the house of the painter Jacob Cats (1714-1799). The exact house number is not known, but that he lived on this side of the canal is obvious from the following article of May 2, 1767: ‘the wall painting art factory of Jacob Cats, artist, moved from the Tuinstraat to the Bloemgracht, south side, the 14th house from the Prinsengracht’. Two drawings are known to exist of the house in which Jacob Cats lived. Both paintings show him and his family. The drawings depict a low area and a stairway leading to a kitchen. A hearth is visible on one side. Jacob is together with his son, working at a folding table. On the other drawing his wife is baking waffles, a small child sits on a potty-chair, the painter observes the scene


from the door opening. Jacob Cats was skilled in drawing and etching. He learned painting from artists and learned etching from an engraver. After that, in 1971, his father arranged a ten year contract with the wall paper painting factory of Jan Hendrik Troost van Groenendoelen. Jacob Cats also received other opportunities. In 1763 he received his first commission by Gijsbrecht Antwerpen Verbrugge. He was allowed to paint the wall of the living room of Verbrugge in his house at Herengracht 316. These paintings were made according to the design by Goll. Goll was a banker and fellow partner of Gijsbrecht Antwerpen Verbrugge. He could draw well himself as was obvious in the drawings he made of the view from his house Bartolotti on the Herengracht. Nothing remains of Cats’ first wall paintings. With the money he earned he could buy the membership of the gild and so establish himself as independent wallpaper painter in Amsterdam. You now stand at the heart of the Jordaan on the Bloemgracht. The boundaries of the Jordaan were the Brouwergracht to the north and the Leidsegracht to the south. The Prinsengracht forms the boundary on the city side and the Lijnbaansgracht was the western edge. Originally the Jordaan was built for craftsmen such as tanners, mirror makers or cloth dyers. These works all caused environmental problems such as stench and piles of garbage. That is the reason they were prohibited along the Singel, Herengracht and Keizersgracht where higher classed people lived.


2e leliedwarsstraat 76 The Firm of Blaeu

Walk straight on to the 2e Leliedwarsstraat. You pass number 76 on the corner of Bloemgracht and 2e Leliedwarsstraat. In this house, as you can see on the sign, three generations of Blaeu lived and worked from 1637-1696. In the house on the corner of the Bloemgracht and 2e Leliedwarsstraat one of the printing shops of the printers line was situated. The company and bookstore In de vergulde Sonnewyser (in the gilded sundial) of the firm Blaeu situated on ‘t Water (now Damrak) was already


too small. The grandson of founder Willem Jansz. Blaeu (15711638) laid the first stone for the new printing house here in 1637. One of the other printing houses was on the grounds of the family Blaeu. Jan van der Heijden describes how this house was turned to ashes in 1672. The printing house on the Bloemgracht held two stories and an attic. In the 17e century the Blaeu firm had twenty to forty people constantly working on parts of the printing process. The publishing house was so well known that many foreigners not The bookprinter, engraving by Jan Luiken from his book Het Menselijk Bedrijf 1718.

only came to visit the store but also the printing house on the Bloemgracht. Willem Jansz. Blaeu and his son Cornelis (16101642) lived in the house next to the printing house while the eldest son of Willem Jansz., Joan (1598-1673), publisher of the Great Atlas, remained in In de vergulde Sonnewyser on the Damrak. Willem Jansz. Blaeu came from a Mennonite family of North Holland. During the truce of twelve years, he had taken the side of the Remonstrants. This is apparent from publishing’s of works by Hugo de Groot, who favored the Remonstrants’ point of view.



corner of egelantiersgracht & 3e egelantiersdwarsstraat Jan Ligthart

Continue straight on to the Egelantiersgracht. From the bridge you look at the house on the right at the corner of the Egelantiersgracht and the 3e Egelantiersdwarsstraat. This was the home of the grocery store of the Ligthart family in the Jordaan. Jan Ligthart (1859-1916) and H. Scheepstra wrote the well known books of Ot en Sien. These tell the story of the experiences of two neighborhood toddlers. They play together in the rain, skip ropes and visit grandparents together. Jan Ligthart grew up in the Jordaan, a working class area, and could easily remember how city children lived. This is also evident in his ‘Childhood memories’ (Jeugdherinneringen). He describes how he walked from his home to the nursery school on the Egelantiersgracht: ‘Over the flat blue sidewalk. On the street. Next, over the high bridge close to the house (we lived in a corner house). To the right along the canal – I can still see the little stones, the path of cobblestones we walked along, close to the doorsteps of the houses. The large stones, on the drive way. When we went to school we were always warned to walk on the small stones! We often walked hand in hand on the cobble stones after my sister had led us over the bridge.’ Jan Ligthart’s father was a struggling grocery store owner. They actually lived in poverty. He remembers that things were sometimes so bad that they boys of the family had to go out in the evening and buy a pound of coffee or sugar from a larger store. This was then sold in portions of ounces and even half-ounces. The wholesalers refused to grant father Ligthart any more credit. Their deepest poverty was somewhat relieved when Jan’s father was granted an allowance of five Guilders a week. He could receive this allowance every Monday morning from the Mennonite minister. The Mennonite church reserved money for the poor regardless of their denomination. Jan Ligthart later describes how he and his brother, and sometimes his sister, walked to the nearby Singel church. ‘The large church was about a twenty minute walk from our


house. On the way there were many distractions, we sold our church pennies for candy, walked along the high steps and counted mailboxes. It was a competition. In this manner we were sure to be in church on time. But the contrary happened. When we realized how boring it was in church, we took care to come too late. We wandered along the beautiful houses on the Heren- and Keizersgrachten and unconsciously drank in the beauty of the regal merchants houses, the quite water, the arched stone bridges and the old elm trees. I remember every one of them. Sunday mornings could be so peaceful; especially during church time, few people wandered about. An odd empty flat barge lay against the wall. The water reflected the houses, the trees, the bridges and the high heaven of white clouds. Everything breathed peace. It was better out there than in the church. I thought so then and I still do now. Children do not belong in the large church!’. After his training as teacher, Jan Ligthart became head of the school in The Hague. Here he developed ideas about education. In his ‘pedagogy of the heart’ the personality of the child stood central, taking into consideration the interests and concerns of a child. They tried to include the children actively in the ‘matter’ of things. Teachers in his school worked with the education program that Ligthart had developed. He called his manner of teaching ‘The full life’. According to Ligthart it was not useful to teach city children that wheat and sugar beets were grown on clay ground and rye on sand. They did not know the difference between rye and wheat and between clay and sand. They had to discover for themselves what the differences were. He let the children sow grain themselves to follow the process of growth. They also harvested and made bread from the flour. If possible, they could also do carpentry work and sculpture. They even built a model of a grain mill.



anjeliersstraat, corner of lijnbaansgracht and westerstraat 353-381 Concordia

Continue on by way of 3e Egelantiersdwarsstraat and Madelievenstraat in the direction of Concordia. On the square of the Anjeliersstraat (at the end of the Madelievenstraat) stands the whitewashed renovated block of houses belonging to the Association of Crafts called Concordia from 1864. H.S. van Lennep (1832-1914) worked here together with Christiaan Pieter van Eeghen (1816-1889) with the intent of building good houses for the working class of the Jordaan. The houses built between the Westerstraat and the Anjeliersstraat together with the houses which Van Eeghen had built in the southern Jordaan were included in the Building Association of Concordia. Compared to the existing houses and slum houses, this was a large complex, densely filled in with houses. Continue along the Anjeliersstraat in the direction of Lijnbaansgracht. Turn right in the direction of the Westerstraat. You arrive at the corner of the Lijnbaansgracht and the Westerstraat, opposite the complex of Concordia. If you stand on the bridge over the Lijnbaansgracht you see the complex the best. It is one of the first examples of social housing. The façade is special because of the use of vertical and horizontal accents. This makes the gable look less massive. A striking aspect is the variety of windows in the dormers. Continue walking along the Westerstraat. Through the arch between 353 and 381 you enter a small courtyard. You see two grass fields which formerly served as bleaching fields. It was tradition to use the inside fields to bleach the wash. A report from the Royal Institute of Engineers described the necessity of bleaching fields as follows: ‘the bleaching fields not only provided for the needs of cleanliness of a family but it promoted refreshing of the air through the whole house.’ In 1852 Christiaan Pieter van Eeghen took place in a committee which developed plans for social housing. The Society for the benefit of the working class which came forth out of this commit-


tee bought old houses in the Jordaan and rented them out after renovation. In the 18th and 19th century the Jordaan had become a neighborhood for the poor of Amsterdam. The area became overpopulated. Many contained areas were built full of badly kept up houses which could only be entered through the slum areas. In these too small slum houses, often large families lived in one or two rooms. Sometimes they were so low that the inhabitants could not stand upright. Besides this the houses were damp and there was next to no sunlight. The author, Neel Doff, who grew up in such a house wrote: ‘We all lived together in one of the damp greasy slum houses. It was a room which never received sunlight. In the winter the room was damp and cold and in the summer we became ill from the clammy heat.’ Private initiative of which the liberal government of the 19th century expected so much, was not realized. Except with Mennonites such as C.P. van Eeghen and Constantia van Loon and her husband Pieter van Eik who founded a school for neglected children. They also had houses built for workers in the Willemstraat. Because of the density of inhabitants and the failing hygiene, epidemics such as the cholera of 1830 easily broke out. 80% of the population of the Jordaan and densely populated area of Jews died. But even the upper class living on the canals succumbed to this disease. Under the influence of a group of doctors who advocated improvement of public hygiene, the city government had a number of canals in the Jordaan filled. The Goudsbloemgracht (now Willemsstraat) was filled in 1854, the Anjeliersgracht (now Westerstraat) was filled in 1861. In 1850 the author Jacob van Lennep took the initiative of forming the Dunewater Company. This allowed the people of the Jordaan to buy water from the fountain in the Willemspoort for a cent. This was the first official point of distribution of clean drinking water from the dunes. Walk along the Westerstraat to the portal of Concordia North, number 221-289, the second block of houses also built by P.J. Hamer in 1864. By way of the archway you enter the inside courtyard. Here you also find an impression of how the Building Company Concordia tried to improve living conditions in the Jordaan in the 19th century. Regretfully, these houses remained too expensive for the people for which they were built.


The complex is comprised of three blocks of houses between which two inside courtyards are found which could also be used as bleaching fields. The houses were comprised of back to back one and two room houses so that the sun could only enter the house on one side. In 1984 the one and two room houses were rebuilt into three room houses. Then also French balconies were added to the houses you just visited and attic apartments were built.


1e egelantiersdwarsstraat 3, tegenover nummer 4 Claes Claeszhofje

Leaving this complex you continue along the Westerstraat and 1e Anjeliersdwarsstrat, 1e Tuindwarsstraat to the 1e Egelantiersdwarsstraat. Across from number 4 you find the entrant to the Claes Cornelis Claesz Anslo 1641, etching by Rembrandt. Bijzondere Collecties, UvA, Mennonitica.

Claeszhofje at number 3. Shortly before the end of the small hall you turn right. In the 16th century care of the poor came into the hands of several city institutions such as the soup kitchens, organizations which built housing for widows and an orphanage. On the grounds


of the former Karthuizerklooster in the Jordaan, a garden with small houses (alms housing) for widows called Het Huiszitten Weduwenhof was built in 1650. Since the 16th century these courtyards with homes were also built by independent owners. Well to do citizens left part of their inheritance to be used to build such an almshouse. These houses were usually built for women over fifty who had lived righteously and belonged to a certain denomination. The rich Mennonite, Claes Claesz. Anslo approached city hall in 1616 with his plan to purchase a lot of ground on the Egelantiersstraat in the Jordaan. In his will of March 30, 1616 he determined that ‘the three small houses and rooms shall be inhabited free of rent and that the two houses on the foreside shall be rented.’ This means that the houses were destined for the poor, preferably of Mennonite descent. This courtyard was named after its founder, Claes Anslo. The name Anslo was well known in Amsterdam. His oldest son, Cornelis (1592-1648) was a well known Mennonite minister with the Waterlanders. Vondel wrote a poem to accompany an etching of Cornelis Anslo: Rembrandt draws Cornelis’ voice. What you see is his smallest virtue: The invisible can only be received by the ears Who wishes to see Anslo must hear him.


prinsengracht 159-171 the Zonshofje

After leaving this courtyard turn left to walk along the Egelantiersdwarsstrat. Do not forget to look at the coat of arms in the Anslo’s hofje at number 52. Walk along the Egelantiersstraat to the Prinsengracht. Turn left and walk to the bridge across Prinsengracht and cross it. At Prinsengracht 159-171 you find the Zonshofje. Enter and walk through the hall to the courtyard. The Mennonite merchant, Martin Looten (1568-1648) had a small church built on his grounds to be used by the members


of the Kleine Zon, a small group of Mennonites who had separated from the congregation De Zon (Singel and Blauwburgwal) in 1671. After the congregation joined De Zon again in 1677, the church was used as a warehouse. In 1720 the building was purchased by the Old Frisians who also had the back part of the house of Prinsenstraat 18. The Frisians extended the house and The memorial plaque in the courtyard of the Zonshofje, about 2005.

called it The Ark of Noah. Cornelis Pronck, whose whole family belonged to the Old Frisians made two drawings of the interior. During a merger in 1752 the Frisians joined the congregation of De Zon on the Blauwburgwal. At this time the congregation decided to renovate their church De Zon. On this site an almshouse for elderly Mennonite women was founded. This Zonshofje originally had twelve houses. Each dwelling had a hearth and bedstead as well as an attic for drying. On the left side is the building which replaced the church. The wide entrance door is striking through the plaque above it: a combination of clock and plaque. Both names of the churches, De Arcke Noach and De Zon are visible in the plaque. Underneath is the following poem: 74

Faith has unfolded God’s word here; Love has built this house; May Hope constantly help us to see the Sun of souls, Using time well to flee to the Ark of Salvation. MDCCLXV On each floor were six one room dwellings available by a joint staircase. This is different to other almshouses where each dwelling has its own entrance. On the right you see the 19th century The courtyard of the Zonshofje about 2005.

wing which allowed housing for thirty two women. In the journal and illustrated diary of 1805 of Christiaan, the son of the well known wall painter, Jurriaan Andriessen (17421819), is a drawing of the hall of the Zonshofje. He stands at the front door of his house on Prinsengracht 173. In the drawing, Christiaan closes the entrance to the courtyard on February 14, 1805 while his parents and sisters wait for him. The two drawings later became part of the collection of Christiaan van Eeghen because they give a clear picture of the Mennonite courtyard at the beginning of the 19th century. The Zonshofje is still owned by the Mennonite congregation and houses students. It is open during the week from 10.00 – 17.00. End of the second walk


Portrait of Menno Simons from 1837, Bijzondere Collecties, UvA


mennonites in amsterdam The 20th century

Besides the places visited during the walks along the Herengracht and Jordaan of Amsterdam there are more places where Mennonites of the second half of the 19th century and 20th century left their traces. There are also a number of events which occurred in Amsterdam that should not be left unmentioned. After the second half of the 19th century the Singelkerk was no longer the center of Mennonite life. New suburbs grew quickly around the old city center. Mennonites in these areas also felt the need to have places to gather. New churches were built. Community centers were built where Mennonites could come for diverse social activities. There were also centers in the community to assist the needy. North of the IJ the situation of the Mennonites had already worsened for some time. Mennonite carpenters, rope-makers, brewers and sail makers in Nieuwendam working in shipping yards asked in 1843 already for an accommodation in which to practice their religion. In cold winter storms, the trek to the Singel church or to the wooden church in Zaandam was too difficult. The captains who sailed on the Zuiderzee and who came from the north asked the church council of Amsterdam to help them build a small church of their own. This church is still used today. About one hundred years later plans were made to tear down this little wooden building on the Meerpad in Nieuwendam. Thanks to the efforts of the church council member and village doctor, Honig, the church was saved. Jan de Liefde (1814-1869), a former Mennonite minister, busied himself with caring for the needy and the poor. The association called ‘For the welfare of the people’ (Tot Heil des Volks) which still exists today, was his initiative. This association worked in the same manner as the Dutch Association for Public Welfare. A sewing school and a knitting school were built but also a Sunday school was founded. Besides this, Jan de Liefde was known for his public readings. In addition he wrote books about Dutch history and the Bible in an attempt to improve the general cultural development of the working class. In the Willemstraat in the


Jordaan you can still see the tile panel of the association ‘For the welfare of the people’. Oosterpark 4-5 is the location of the Mennonite church built in 1904 by Abraham Salm. He had also handed in a plan to build a new modern church at the site of the Singel church. The front has a wide double wooden door with a small glass overhang above it. Under the stone cornice you see a small stained-glass window. The most striking aspect is the small tower in the middle of the roof. This church is a brick building using small amounts of natural stone and now used by a branch of the Reformed Church. In 1905 the General Mennonite Association (Algemeene Doopsgezinde Sociëteit) decided that it must be theoretically possible for a woman to study and graduate from the seminary. This also meant that women must be allowed to become ministers in congregations. Although one of the professors of the Mennonite Seminary, professor Cramer, said he would never seek comfort from a woman, the Mennonite congregations decided that it must be possible for a woman to preach from the pulpit. Annie Zernike (1887-972) was the first woman to conclude her study of theology at the Mennonite Seminary. The lectures on theology were given at the university, for the lectures on church history given by professor Cramer, Annie had to go to the library of the Singel church. There she sat, as many students before her, at the long oak table (in which students had carved their names) to follow the lectures. As did other students, she had to preach four sermons a year. These took place on a weekday afternoon. In the winter the cold Singel church was nearly empty. The students recited their sermons off by heart to a small audience of students and the professor all deeply snuggled into their warm fur jackets. In June of 1911 Annie Zernike became what is called a ‘probationer’ (proponent). This is a theology student who has finished training and may become a minister, but yet has no congregation of her/his own. Annie Zernike was called to the congregation in De Knipe, a village in Friesland. Mennonites were co-founders of the Central Committee for Liberal Protestantism in 1923. The goal of this committee was to spread liberal interpretation of the Scriptures by radio. For this reason the VPRO, a liberal Protestant radio broadcasting station was founded in 1926. On May 29 the board of the Central Committee


gathered in the Singel church. After the chairman, professor De Graaff was discharged, the very first meeting the VPRO took place. 3000 members were needed to be able to expand, but after a few months there were already 6000 members. At first it was not clear what all was concerned with running a broadcasting station. Professor De Graaff kept the membership lists aided by a young member of his congregation in the Hague. The first regular broadcasts were made from a small room at Singel 60. Later complete church services were broadcast from the Mennonite church at the Oosterpark. For several centuries an undercurrent existed of tolerant religiously inspired faith. This faith was not committed to one specific denomination. In the severely compartmentalized Netherlands of the 20th century, this undercurrent received its own recognizable sound in the VPRO. The board of this broadcasting company expected to represent the whole left wing of the people, especially the liberal thinkers, on the basis that ‘all faith is basically one’. The Mennonite congregation in Amsterdam, with its growing membership in the 19th century, developed a large variety of activities. In this manner, the Association of Support for the Neglected and Cast-off was founded in 1887. To care for the failing in their own circle, the Mennonite district nursing was set up in 1894. In the beginning of the 20th century you find Mennonites in all areas of society. One example is the care for the elderly which was the responsibility of the Committee for Social Care of the Mennonite congregation in Amsterdam. One example hereof remains in the Rozengracht in the Jordaan. The Rijpenhofje, Rozengracht 116-126, is still occupied by Mennonite and non-Mennonite elderly. Management of the Rijpenhofje is the responsibility of students who also live there. The inner court, the fountain and the rose arch still reflect the image of the 20th century. During this time it was decided to rebuild and modernize the dilapidated Rijpenhofje once founded in 1764 by Jan van de Rijp Centen. The Rozenhofje, Rozengracht 101-105, built in 1742 on the former grounds of the Doolhof, was intended for elderly women giving priority to Collegiants. To this day, the Rozenhofje is occupied by elderly women. Shortly before the world crisis, on November 10 of 1928, the


first stone was laid for the district meeting place of Karperweg 5 in the then newly built suburbs 1 and 2, the Schinkelbuurt and the district close to the Stadionweg. At the stone-laying ceremony, Rev. Dijkman spoke: ‘This district building is to provide a gathering place for those scattered in the districts 1 and 2.’ The Karperweg is no longer used for church services. During the first World War (1914-1918) there was a sad and quiet reproachful murmur among the Mennonites against the violence of war. The Association of Community Days (Gemeentedagen) for Mennonites discussed themes concerning their ideas of faith shortly after the First World War. A small group of Mennonites within this Association (GDB) initiated the founding of an Association of Workers who Profess Pacifism in 1922. Pacifism was one of the subjects of the Association of Community Days. In the 19th century little attention had been paid by Mennonites to the idea of pacifism. That is to say, the prohibition of carrying arms by Mennonites and to refrain from taking government positions had gone somewhat slack. Mennonites had joined the army to fight to defend their country. In Amsterdam the Mennonites who wanted to remain true to the foundations of pacifism united. On December 12, 1924, the sub-group of the Pacifism Association met for the first time. They gathered in the Oosterparkkerk and in the Meerpad in Amsterdam-North. This Association of workers strove for a clear resolution in the constitution which the conscientious objectors in the Netherlands could call upon to receive exemption from military service. It appeared that conscientious objectors received little or no information on possibilities of requesting exemption from military service. In meetings in Amsterdam and Elspeet the moral issues of refusing military service were discussed to aid those who must appear before the assessment committee. About 1930, in view of the changing relationships between the powers of the world, the Mennonites realized it was too great a task for the 60,000 members alone to strive for peace and disarmament in the world. Regardless of ones Christian tradition, the battle must be fought for a better, peaceful world. This meant that the Volkenbond, forerunner of the United Nations, was supported in its efforts to compel international legal law and order. The subgroup of the Pacifism Association held informative meetings about


the ideals of peace of the Volkenbond. Families also tried to make children aware of the importance of world peace. In 1936 the General Congress of Mennonites was held in Amsterdam. This congress was attended by Mennonites from many countries such as: United States of America, Germany, Switzerland, Poland and Russia. The role of Mennonites in each country passed the review. It became clear that the Mennonites in America were much less ‘worldy’ than those in the Netherlands. The Americans found that Dutch Mennonites were much to much interwoven in society. Especially German Mennonites, living in a dictatorial state, had retreated into their own world of faith. Militarism was ‘accepted as necessary defense against Bolshevism’. It is not surprising that it was not possible to come to a universal statement on several subjects. In the fall of 1939 a large part of Europe became involved in the war. England declared war on Germany after its invasion of Poland. In the church bulletin of the Mennonites in Amsterdam, the following statement was printed on September 14, 1939: ‘We hoped that this horrible thing would not happen and that the world would be spared of a war that places millions of children of one Father against each other as enemies set out to destroy each other.’ The Netherlands hoped not to become involved in this strife. When the Germans invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940 there were also casualties in the Mennonite circles. While conditions during occupation became worse, the Mennonites continued to hold meetings and organize camps for children. All of this under strict rules of the occupier. The institution of evening curfew and blackout regulations presented practical problems. Meetings were organized for the afternoon. Even celebrating New Year’s Eve in the Singel church was moved forward in time because it was impossible to completely black it out. The board of the General Mennonite Association (ADS) discussed the manner in which they should handle the German occupation. The editor of the Zondagsbode, the institution of the Mennonites of the Netherlands, placed an article suggesting an aloof attitude. There were as many Dutch National Socialists among the Mennonites as there were people in the resistance. Members of the National Socialist party were of the opinion that the Mennonites should keep quiet. It suited them that the article suggested


aloofness. On the other hand nine ministers were annoyed by the article saying that the Zondagsbode no longer represented the ideas held by the Dutch Mennonites under German occupation. In Amsterdam-North, Reverend W.F. Golterman even suggested in his sermons that he condemned the actions of the occupier. This was taking a risk because it was not allowed to bring strong views out in the open. This same hesitant attitude of the General Association was evident during the introduction of identity cards and signing of loyalty declarations by students. They had neglected to unite with other denominations to protest against enforcing of identity cards by the Reich Commissioner, Seyss-Inquart. They were afraid of reprisals for not signing and withheld public protests. Lectures in the Mennonite Seminary continued in secret, exams were held, and students went into hiding and worked in the underground. A number of students paid for this with their lives. In the winter of 1944-1945 warm meals were served to hungry members in the halls of the Singel church. During the 50’s, the time of rehabilitation, new suburbs arose in AmsterdamWest. In the heart of Slotermeer, the Mennonite church, The Olive branch (De Olijftak) was built. Here a special area was created for community work and Sunday School. Above this stood the actual church sanctuary which could also be used for concerts. This building is now used as a mosque. In the years shortly after the war people started with a new impetus in the expectation that such terrible things as had happened in the Second World War would never occur again. In 1946, one year after liberation, the Mennonite Peace Group (Doopsgezinde Vredesgroep, DVG) was founded. In a sense, it was a continuation of the Association against Conscription. The DVG had individual members but Mennonite congregations could also join. Non-Mennonites were also allowed membership. The area of work of the DVG to strive for peace has changed several times. During conscription they supported conscientious objectors who applied to the Conscientious Objection Act. During the Cold War they sought contact with fellow believers in the DDR (former East Germany). They participated in diverse peace actions in Bosnia together with the Church and Peace Association (Kerk en Vrede). Voluntary workers attempt to bring parties together in


conflictions in war areas. After the Second World War, several Mennonite World Conferences were held. These were large gatherings attended by Mennonites from the whole world: from Paraguay to Japan, and from Switzerland to Zambia. Dutch Mennonites were also represented. Taking into account the historical importance in the history of the Mennonites, in 2000 they form a small percentage 1% (about 12,000 members) of the total of 1.2 million Mennonites in the world.


compendium Alphabetical list of accented subjects, persons or groups from the text which will be further explained and described. MURALS and WALLPAPER PAINTINGS AND JACOB CATS

It was custom that the well-to-do owned houses in which the walls were covered with gold leather, mock velvet and draperies. It was even more costly to have the walls of the most important rooms painted. In the middle of the 17th century, painted walls, ceiling and floor were regarded as a unity. Painted walls were a part of the boarding. The subjects of the paintings were idealized, classical, sunny Italian landscapes. These paintings originated because of the pull of artists to Italy. In the works of these Italianated painters, one could find elements of the Italian landscape: rock formations, waterfalls, ruins, marble pillars and antique statues. In this manner, one could enjoy far away foreign views in one’s own home. In the course of the 18th century Dutch landscape aroused more interest. This could be because of the need to use the illustrious 17th century and one’s own homeland as subjects. Jacob Cats portrayed the Dutch landscape as it was known since the 16th century. This type of wall painting is still visible in the room in Herengracht 310. The widow of Jan van Eeghen, who lived two houses past Gijsbrecht Antwerpen Verbrugge, commissioned Jacob Cats to decorate this room in her house. Cats painted a Dutch river landscape. BELIJDENISGESCHRIFT (CONFESSION OF FAITH) HET OLIJFTACXKEN

This was an initiative of four Flemish ministers of Amsterdam in 1626 who attempted reconciliation with the Frisians by preparing a confession of faith. This confession of faith asks what the characteristics should be of the true congregation. The reconciliation attempt failed. It was not until 1639 that the Frisians, Flemish and High Germans joined to continue together.


BLAEU, WILLEM JANSZ. (1571-1638)

The founder of the firm: Blaeu, Willem Jansz., was actually destined to work in the office of the herring trade of his uncle C.P. Hoofd. However, he was more interested in math and astrology. Willem Jansz. was in Denmark for some time to study under the famous astronomer, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). In the office of Brahe he learned about printing and became skilled in making geometric instruments and maps. As of 1605 he worked in Amsterdam where he started his own firm. In 1606 he caused great sensation in Amsterdam by producing a two meter long city profile of Amsterdam. Two years later he published ‘Light of the maritime’ (Licht der Zeevaert). With this guide for seafarers he hoped to better the existing maritime maps. He used the knowledge of steersmen, smart sailing masters and pilots to fill his guide with trustworthy knowledge. His firm focused on publishing cartography and on seamanship. Willem Jansz. was unique in his trade. To separate himself from his contemporaries who also had stores on the Damrak, he added Blaeu to his name. In 1632 Willem Jansz. Blaeu became mapmaker of the VOC (United East Indies Company). During the last five years of his life he made basic maps and instruments for this company with the help of four assistants. These parchment maps were used by the East Indies Trading Company on their journeys to the Far East. Much of the information gathered by the sailors of the company was processed in a secret atlas of the trading company. Unfortunately few of these maps were saved. DE CLERCQ , JACOB (1710-1777)

Jacob de Clercq, child of an important Mennonite family, was director of Eastern Trade and Shipping Company. He was a merchant but also active in insuring ships. He traded in such areas as the Iberian Peninsula and the Baltic cities. The Eastern Trade and Shipping Company charged money from ships from the Baltic Sea area entering the harbor of Amsterdam since the 18th century. He could use this money to warn fleets of galleons against privateers. He and his son, Abraham Fock, formed the firm De Clercq & Son in 1760. Things did not always go well. In 1760 he had to sell his estate Driemond on the Gein river.


Besides all this, he was deacon in the combined congregations of Bij het Lam and Bij de Toren for some time after 1739 and also between 1749 and 1755. He was also trustee of the Mennonite orphanage. Besides founder of the Society for the Rescue of Drowning Victims he was also member of the Concordia et Libertate. This society promoted all forms of learning, science and arts. COLLEGIANTS

These were believers who gathered together for religious meetings in services they called collegia. The first gathering took place in Warmond in 1619. The Remonstrant minister had been fired and it was decided to gather as equals without a minister. The Collegiants were averse to any kind of dogmatism. In their gatherings, one could choose to read out of the Bible, pray, or to present a devotional speech. They believed that Christ was the center of salvation. Only a small number of Remonstrants visited the meetings. Mostly they were merchants, doctors, ministers, storeowners, poets and printers – obviously the well to do and intellectuals of society felt drawn to this form of professing one’s faith. After 1640, not only Remonstrants were found in the Collegiants, but also an increasing number of Mennonites. Galenus de Haan professed the ideas of the Collegiants: an overwhelming Christian faith in which freedom of confession and freedom from organizations were the most important. Everyone was allowed to speak freely about all aspects of faith and learning. ASSOCIATION OF FOREIGN NEEDS (COMMISSIE TOT DE BUITENLANDSCHE NOODEN 1710)

Despite the division among the different Mennonite congregations in Amsterdam, they worked well together to support the persecuted members in Danzig, Poland, Moravia and the Palatinate. Two rival ministers, Galenus and Apostool deliberated as to how these persecuted members could be aided. In 1690 more than 30,000 Guilders were collected for the brethren in the Palatinate. This type of work was continued by the Association of Foreign Needs founded in 1710. This committee was able to help hundreds of fellow believers from Switzerland to come to the Netherlands be-


tween 1711 and 1713. The Swiss were mostly followers of Jacob Amman, who later became known as the Amish in the United States. The Swiss Mennonites who came to the Netherlands in the beginning of the 18th century were simply astounded at the excessive wealth and prosperity of their fellow believers. As a result, the Mennonite playwright, Pieter Langendijk (1687-1756) wrote a satirical pamphlet, ‘The Swiss simplicity complains about the corrupt morals of many Dutch Mennonites, or defenseless Christians’ in 1713: “these farmers see how women go to church in clothes that barely cover half their body, not so much for the sermon as to lure lovers”. Most of the Swiss Mennonites chose to leave the Netherlands and go to America to build their own simple form of life. The journey was taken on ships owned by the firm: Hope & Co. MENNONITES, THE ECONOMICALLY ELITE WITH COUNTRY ESTATES

Many Mennonite merchants of the 17th and 18th century were so rich that they could afford estates in the country. These estates were symbols of status and wealth whereas the Mennonites were not yet really among the governing elite. Important families as Van Lennep, De Neufville, De Flines and Rutgers, did however, belong to the economic elite. There was little left of their frugal way of life and their introspective attitude on life. The owners usually stayed in the country from May until October. The entire household was moved from the city to these estates, usually situated in the dunes or along water. There were so many of these estates belonging to Mennonites along the Gein and Vecht Rivers that is was called the Mennonite Heaven. These estates consisted of specially built villas in monumental style, surrounded by a garden designed in a geometrical pattern, clearly showing its lines. Besides this the garden included fountains, ponds, and canals. Within the garden, trimmed hedges formed separate areas. Often an orangery was built to keep the tropical plants in winter. People amused themselves with games in this building or used it to spy on the neighbors. The Swedish scholar, Bengt Ferner describes the house and garden of Driemond, the estate on the Gein belonging to Jacob de Clercq (1710-


1777) in his diary of 1759. The De Clercq’s, grain merchants who bought the estate in 1748, owned estates on the Gein for three generations. Ferner wrote in his diary: ‘there were large paths around the pond surrounded by elegant buildings, some of which were bird cages, some were built to watch animals, play cards and other games (…)’. There is nothing left of the houses and gardens along the Gein. The fountain of the estate Driemond has been moved to the estate Frankendael in the Watergraafsmeer. The statues on the fountain represent the river gods Gein and Gaasp. Activities on these estates varied. One could hunt, fish for carp in specially built ponds, or catch songbirds. Catching songbirds was done in a finch stretch. The most famous finch catcher and songbird expert was Cornelis van Lennep who owned Huis te Manpad south of Heemstede. These wealthy Mennonites also often had a special arts room in their houses in the city. It contained exotic goods brought from the far seas by sailors. Besides their trading goods they brought such strange objects as shells, corals and other sea-plants from journeys to Ceylon, China, Japan or Indonesia. They also brought seeds, ivory objects, prepared and dried insects, butterflies and even live or stuffed animals. Such objects were purchased by wealthy collectors such as Sijbrant Feitama (1620-1701) and Philips de Flines to be placed in the art room. Their interest went beyond only collecting objects, they also possessed drawings, prints, antique sculptures and statuaries of contemporaries. The Mennonite apothecary-merchant, Sijbrant Feitama, had a whole collections of specimens. Apothecaries often had a complete collections of specimens such as: a poison cabinet, bottles and pots of simple or combined medicines. Besides this Feitama collected paintings, paper cuttings, drawings and graphics. Other Mennonite collectors were Jan Volkertsz. (1578-1651), his son Volkert Jansz. (1605/1610-1681) and Philips de Flines (1620-1701). GALENUS ABRAHAMSZ. DE HAAN (1622-1706)

Geleyn Abrahamsz. was born in 1622 in Zierikzee. His maternal grandfather was Gillis van Aken who was acquainted with Menno Simons and was killed in 1588 in Antwerp because of his Men-


nonite faith. He studied medicine in Leiden and changed his name to Galenus, which is based on the Latin word gallus (rooster) after his graduation. In 1648 he was chosen as minister in the congregation Bij het Lam. This was only possible if he conformed with the confession of faith in Het Olijftacxken. Through his contacts with the Collegiants, he came to doubt baptism upon confession of faith, communion, and the sense of church attendance. Despite intense quarrels because of which part of the congregation left, the ‘war of the lambs’ (Lammerenstrijd), Galenus de Haan remained minister of this Mennonite congregation. He undertook the education of ministers and in 1680 Galenus was appointed professor of the seminary Bij het Lam. In the eyes of his followers, Galenus was a charismatic speaker as an opponent describes: ‘They are so doting of him that he could sell a piece of rotting wood for amber if he said it was amber’. Remarkably, Galenus was involved in alchemy, the art of attempting to create gold. His intention with this was not to become rich himself, but to help the poor share the riches of the world. A pamphlet spread by opponents of Galenus was called: The crowing of a Socinian rooster with Mennonite feathers. It was meant to depict De Haan as a person who proclaimed very dangerous teachings in the eyes of the public church as well as some conservative Mennonites. HEIJDEN, JAN VAN DER (1637-1712)

The Mennonite, Jan van der Heijden, describes how important the fire hose can be to help put out fires. Using prints in his Bardenboek he shows how the water can be pumped to the fire using the fire hose. Using his system, a continuous stream of water could be applied. As city fire marshal Jan van der Heijden was able to constantly improve his invention. It became standard equipment on the ships of the VOC. In the book he also referred to one of the largest fires ever in Amsterdam. The fire of February 22 and 23 of 1672 occurred in one of the printing offices of the firm Blaeu. He wrote the following about the fire: ‘Several houses at back burned as well as the whole house and store supply. Furthermore, the whole printing office was so badly damaged that even the copper plates standing in the far corners melted.’ The fire – Jan van der Heijden estimated the damage at


382,000 Guilders – caused the begin of the decline of the Blaeu firm. The printer lost all his letter forms, the prepared printing matter and the printed pages of the Spanish edition of the large atlas. Jan van der Heijden was also the creator of a plan for street lights in Amsterdam. In 1660 he presented a plan for lighting The lantern maker, etching by Jan Luiken in his book Spiegel van het Menselijk Bedrijf, 1718. (in mirrored image)

the city in which lamps, burning on rapeseed oil, could be placed throughout the whole city. The city government received the plan with enthusiasm. The city needed 2556 lamps to light it. HOLLAND LAND COMPANY

The Holland Land Company was an investment company which hoped to sell land it had bought in the United States to people moving there. For example, the land purchased around Lake Ontario was meant to be used to found a new city, New Amsterdam (later called Buffalo). This initiative was started by a number of Amsterdam’s firms such as Van Eeghen & Co. to invest money in the United States. A notary act of 1795 appointed this firm to be the director of the Holland Land Company. But because of disappointing results (sales were not as expected) the Holland Land Company was dissolved in 1855. Its archives are kept in the city archives of Amsterdam.



In the 18th century Pieter Langendijk, besides writing plays for weddings, wrote moral comedies and burlesque plays in which he criticized society. He heckled the luxurious life style of the Mennonites in his satirical flyer ‘The Swiss simplicity complains about the corrupt morals of many Dutch Mennonites, or defenseJan Claesz, or ‘The presumed servant’, a scene from the comedy of Thomas Asselijn: print made according to the painting by Cornelis Troost, 1738.

less Christians’. The wealthy inhabitants of the Herengracht were a thorn in the eye to him. He was born to a Mennonite family and was strongly influenced by the Quakers and their abhorrence of violence. His writings rejected violence. Women played an important role in his plays. He also had many contacts among Mennonites. Regardless of his criticism of the luxurious life style of the wealthy, he wrote poems for their weddings, among others, for Catharina de Neufville’s marriage to Dirk Dirksz. Van Lennep in 1716. Although he is famous for his literary works, he earned his living drawing and selling patterns in the linen industry. He was baptized upon his deathbed and is buried in Haarlem in the Nieuwe Kerk. LEEGHWATER, JAN ADRIAANSZ. (1575-1650)

Jan Adriaansz. Leeghwater came to Amsterdam in 1635 owning a carpenter shop close to the Haarlemmerpoort. He assisted in building the new city hall, the tower of the Nieuwe Kerk (which


was never completed), and the Torensluis, the bridge upon which the Jan Roodenpoortstoren would come to stand. Besides this he received commission to build clockworks for the towers of the Zuiderkerk and the Westerkerk. Twenty years later these clockworks were replaced by carillons cast by the Hemony Brothers. Jan Adriaansz. Leeghwater was born in De Rijp, a place in Noord-Holland where many Mennonites lived. As son of a mill builder he also designed several types of windmills to pump the land dry. The most well-known example is the reclamation of the Beemster. Here he was assigned as principal contractor. He was also asked to make plans for other areas of reclamation in Europe. The inventive capacities of Leeghwater are obvious in his description of the use of a diving bell which he even demonstrated before Prins Maurits. In Amsterdam he managed to stay underwater for 45 minutes in the Boerenwetering, close to the Heiligeweg. In 1640 Leeghwater suggested reclaiming the Haarlemmermeer. Because of conflicting interests of the cities concerned, the plans were not carried out. He described them in his book: Het HaarlemmerMeer-Boeck. LEYDEN, JAN BEUKELSZ. VAN (1509-1536)

Jan Beukelsz. van Leiden was appointed as successor to Jan Mathijsz. in M端nster. He had to find an explanation to why the world had not ended. He said that the world was not pure and holy enough. In June of 1535 the city of M端nster fell after a nightly attack in which Jan van Leiden and several others were captured. A year later he was convicted and put to death. His body and those of two other supporters were hung in cages from the tower of the Lambertuskerk in M端nster. Replicas of the cages still hang today. MULTATULI, EDUARD DOUWES DEKKER (1820-1887)

Multatuli was born as Eduard Douwes Dekker in the Korsjespoortsteeg in Amsterdam in 1820 to a Mennonite family. His father, Engel Douwes Dekker, had been baptized in the congregation Bij het Lam in 1804. His oldest brother became a minister and Eduard was expected also to follow this path. However, he decided to go to the Dutch East Indies. Using the pseudonym Multatuli, he recorded his experiences as manager when he returned to Europe


in a novel. In his famous book ‘Max Havelaar, or the coffee auctions of the Dutch Trading Company’ he wrote of the suppression of the native inhabitants. Max Havelaar is not only criticism but an attempt to justify himself using his criticism on colonial society. Although raised in Mennonite surroundings, he later turned his back on it and finally rejected all faith. MÜNSTER

In 1534 Münster of Westfalen was the sight of militant Mennonites under leadership of Jan Mathijsz. of Haarlem awaiting the Apocalypse. In a time in which prices of bread and beer kept rising, epidemics and floods kept recurring, the expectation of salvation appealed to many. At the time, Münster was governed by bishops while merchants wanted to join the Reformation. However, the Lutheran Reformation was rejected by both the Lutheran minority as well as the Roman Catholics. This gave the Dutch Anabaptists the opportunity of taking over the vacuum in power. The bishop, Franz von Waldeck immediately besieged the city. During the siege, Jan Mathijsz. regarded himself to be the prophet Henoch of the Old Testament who had predicted the Apocalypse. Fully trusting that Judgment Day was at hand, he rode a horse to meet the mercenaries. The citizens atop the city wall saw how he was killed by the soldiers and chopped to pieces. NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

This was the name of the parliament during the Batavian Republic (1796-1810). After the arrival of the French it replaced the former Republic of the Seven United Provinces. The representatives were chosen by way of staged elections. The National Assembly was formed by 126 members in 1796. Its purpose was to form a new constitution and a new form of government. There were many differences of opinion on how this should be done. Should the Netherlands continue as a republic, or become a centrally governed unitary state? A French supported revolt in 1798 ended this discussion. The National assembly with members in favor of a unitary state adopted a constitution which is still the basis of the present constitution. During the Batavian Republic the Dutch people were represented by people from all denominations. This caused a distribution of seats in the general council as follows:


249 Protestants, 81 Roman Catholics, 16 Mennonites, 9 Lutherans, 3 Remonstrants, 3 Jews and 1 Old Catholic. NIEUWENHUIJSEN, MARTINUS (1759-1793) and THE DUTCH ASSOCIATION FOR PUBLIC WELFARE

On November 16, 1784 six citizens met in Edam to form the Dutch Association for Public Welfare (Maatschappij tot Nut van ‘t Algemeen). Jan Nieuwenhuijsen had made a proposition to undertake education and upbringing of the youth in the lower classes of society. His son, Martin Nieuwenhuijsen expanded this idea and presented an essay in 1788. For Nieuwenhuijsen it was important that each citizen knew his place in society, was patriotic and religious. Therefore, parents should raise their children well. In this manner children could grow op to be moral and just people living in harmony with their surroundings. ‘t Nut has become most famous for the schools and libraries which were established throughout the country. The Association operated two centuries long and was of great influence in the organization of public education and opened libraries to the general public. Even the smallest villages had such an institution. Besides this, the Association made a great contribution to the general development of the poor by organizing lectures and meetings. REMONSTRANTS

Between 1600 and 1621 internal tension in the Republic of the Netherlands came out into the open. The issue was a religious conflict: predestination. Who belongs to the chosen who will deserve to go to heaven after their death? Two parties stood opposite to each other. Arminius (1560-1609) believed that every person was responsible for the salvation of his soul in this sinful world. His followers wrote a petition to parliament called the ‘Remomonstrance’ asking for government support for a broader national church. After this petition of protest, Arminius’ followers were called Remonstrants. Arminius’ adversary was Gomaris. For Gomaris (1553-1641) a precise definition of faith was his center point. In his eyes, man was contaminated by the original sin and only God could judge who would later be allowed into heaven. In a letter which the Gomaristen wrote against the Remonstrance, they expressed the


opinion that people who had other ideas did not belong in the Protestant church. In the National Synod of Dordrecht the strict teachings of Calvin were adopted. Remonstrants were strongly condemned. Two hundred ministers leaning toward Remonstrantism were dismissed and abolished from the church. Under the leadership op Uytenbogardt they joined with those in Antwerp in 1619 to form the Remonstrant Brotherhood. Slowly they succeeded in re-establishing themselves in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, members of the Remonstrant congregation bought a house on the Keizersgracht, number 102. Here they built a hidden wooden church in the back yard. Now, in their former church, the center of culture, De Rode Hoed is situated. In 1634 they founded a seminary. In the second half of the 19th century the Brotherhood took on a liberal character. SOCINIANS

Followers of Faustus Socinus (1543-1604) Socinus formulated teachings against the Trinity and did not believe that Jesus Christ was godly. They disclaimed the existence of the Holy Ghost. Jesus’ suffering should not be interpreted as salvation from evil. The moral consequence of this was that man should make his own decisions regarding good and evil. Through this, Socinianism was appealing to Collegiants and Mennonites. TEYLERS’ THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY IN HAARLEM, THE TEYLERS MUSEUM

The rich Haarlem Mennonite cloth manufacturer (mainly in the silk industry) Pieter Teyler van der Hulst (1702-1778) had plans to found a society to promote theological and natural science study in the thirties of the 18th century. Unfortunately he did not succeed in forming such a society during his lifetime. After his death he left nearly all his money to a foundation which was to carry out his plans. Two societies were founded. Teylers’ Theological Society was founded to study questions regarding theology, while Teylers’ Second Society studied arts and sciences. For this reason the Teylers Museum was founded in 1784 to hold a collection of physics instruments, archeological instruments, paintings and coins. This is now the oldest museum in the Netherlands.



The best known societies are Felix Meritis (happy through merits), the Association formed to Save Drowning Victims, the Association for Public Welfare and the Teylers Theological Society. Also well known is the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities founded in 1752. Both the associations for public welfare and to save drowning victims still exist. Its founders usually belonged to a church not associated with the public church. Between 1748 and 1794 there were more Mennonite and Remonstrant members on the boards than would be expected according to their relative number in society. Directors were often members of several societies. These societies met often to discuss topics of theology or the sciences. There were also literary and drawing societies. One of the important activities was the issuing of contests in which essays were to be written about certain subjects. An example is: ‘the corruption of nature through sin’, a theological subject, but also political subjects such as: ‘the character of Macchiavelli as depicted through his writings’. Society members often adhered to patriotic ideals. Therefore they also debated about the changes which were needed in society to improve the poor economic situation. FLEMISH AND THE DIFFERENT GROUPS WITHIN THE MENNONITES

These groups were mostly named after the area in which they originated. The Frisians came from the Bloemstraat. The Waterlanders attended the church at the Jan Roodenpportstoren and their church was called Bij de Toren. The Flemish used the church Bij het Lam founded by Van Warendorp. The Flemish, Frisians and High Germans differed in the rigidity of their interpretation of the ban – also within marriages, and the righteous path of life. The Waterlanders were the most liberal and joined the ruling society the quickest. They did not believe themselves to be followers of Menno Simons. The Frisian Mennonites and the groups who left them, among others, the Jan Jacobsgezinden in the Bloemstraat were the most rigid.



After the violence of M端nster and the naked-runners of Amsterdam, a group of Anabaptists concluded that violence must be rejected. They separated themselves from the world and founded their own groups. Within their own congregation, where they regarded each other as brothers and sisters, they strived to live without violence. A life without spot or wrinkle. They based their lives on a faith based on the Bible just as the first Christian congregations were. Faith without the proper way of life was dead faith. The brothers and sisters followed their own conscience and were responsible for their own actions, based on the New Testament. Only adults could chose this way of life by being baptized upon confession of faith. The purity of the congregation was guarded carefully. One must not work for the government, swear the oath or carry weapons (the principle of pacifism). If one deviated from this path, as often happened, the ban could be pronounced upon them. One was then excommunicated from the congregation and was not allowed contact with the marriage partner. SILK INDUSTRY

The arrival of large groups of refugees, especially from the Southern Netherlands, caused a strong development of industry, especially the silk industry, in the cities of the Republic. Before the fall of Antwerp in 1585, more than 50,000 Flemish and Brabanders had fled to the north because of political, religious or economical reasons. One of them was the grandfather of Philips de Flines, Gilbert de Flines (1545-1610) who came to Amsterdam. He came to Amsterdam in 1553 and opened the first silk weaving factory in a house on the Rokin. He lived in the Warmoestraat Nr. 90. Behind the paneling a bedstead door was found with a painting of an Italian silk reeling mill. This painting shows how the cocoons of the silk worm were wound into thread after which the thin silk threads formed one thick thread. The panel shows how important the silk industry was for his subsistence. In the first half of the 17th century the silk industry blossomed in Amsterdam thanks to the expertise of the refugees from the south. The city had a silk hall built on the Groenburgwal in 1650 for the silk industry. Here raw and fine silk was weighed and as-


sessed. The silk sheeting trade and silk industry were in the hands of Mennonites. Jacob van Lennep (1631-1704) had a silk factory and was head of the silk hall in 1688. In his factory all sorts of flowered, colored and black silk sheets were made in 1683. Other Mennonite families were De Neufville, De Flines, Bierens, Rutgers, Wolff and Roeters. The rivalry between the diverse families was great and often led to conflicts. An 18th century form of corporate espionage took place when the silk factory of Jacob Georg Roeters (1679-1762) copied the flowered velvet of the De Neufville firm. One of the weavers of De Neufville who knew the patterns well was hired by Roeters. This caused a conflict. At the beginning of the 18th century the silk industry in Amsterdam had already become unprofitable because of the competition from French silk. The city of Amsterdam had supported the silk industry financially. In 1682 the city silk-winding house (Stadszijdewindhuis) was founded to acquire cheap workers for the declining silk industry. Here a few hundred young orphaned girls between the ages of seven and twelve were put to work winding silk threads. In 1829 this house for poor girls was closed. From archeological findings it appears that silk was worn by rich and poor alike. Rich men were clothed in silk pants, stockings and doublets. Wealthy women wore silk skirts and bodices decorated with ribbons and bows. The poor used silk mainly for fastenings and for decorating simple clothing.



additional literature • Buininger, Carole, Amsterdam 365 stadsgezichten, Bussum Thoth/Amsterdams Historisch Museum 2008. • Hageman, Mariëlle, Amsterdam 366 dagen, Bussum Thoth/Stadsarchief Amsterdam 2006. • Mak, Geert, De Engel van Amsterdam, Amstel uitgeverij, 2007. • Mak, Geert, Kleine geschiedenis van Amsterdam, Amsterdam Atlas 2009. • Roegholt, Richter, De geschiedenis van Amsterdam in vogelvlucht, Amersfoort Bekking & Blitz 2006. • Rooy, Piet de & Emma Los redactie, De Canon van Amsterdam, Amsterdam Boom 2009. De volgende drie titels zijn verkrijgbaar bij de ADS, Singel 454, 020 - 6230914 • Groenveld, Simon Wederdopers, Menisten, Doopsgezinden in Nederland 1530-1980, Zuthpen Walburgpers 1993. • Voolstra, Anna en Piet Visser, Macht een minderheid. De geschiedenis van de Doopsgezinden in Nederland 1530-2000, Kracht van een minderheid, Zoetemeer Meinema 2011. • Voolstra, Anna e.a., Vijf eeuwen doopsgezinden in Nederland, tentoonstellingscatalogus, Amsterdam DHK 2011.










10 13 9 8







WANDELING 2 1 ) Beursplein en Damrak tegenover de Zoutsteeg 2 ) Zoutsteeg 3 ) Gravenstraat, Eggertstraat, de Dam

4 ) Mozes-en-Ă„aronstraat 5 ) Spuistraat (O.Z. Achterburgwal) 6 ) brug over het Singel bij de Torensteeg

7 8 9 10

) ) ) )

Herengracht 197 Herengracht 164 Herengracht 162 Herengracht Bergstraat en Oude Leliestraat

11 )

Leliegracht tussen Keizersgracht en Prinsengracht 12 ) Leliegracht 49 13 ) Bloemgracht, oneven zijde 14 ) 2e Leliedwarsstraat 76

15 ) hoek Egelantiersgracht/3e Egel.dwarsstraat 16 ) Westerstraat 353-381 17 ) 1e Egelantiersdwarsstraat 3 18 ) Prinsengracht 159-171

The Mennonite church of Amsterdam is situated behind the row of houses of Singelgracht 454, past the flower market. There are many places in the old city center which tell of the history of the Mennonites of Amsterdam. During two walking tours it becomes clear how a small group contributed in various ways to the rich culture of Amsterdam during five hundred years. In the most unexpected places you will become acquainted with the extraordinary world of the Mennonites.

Wietskenel de Jong (drama instructor and director) assisted in the exhibition of porcelain and fountains in the Geelvinck Museum and published articles about kitchens in the Biblical Museum (Bijbels Museum). Johan Pennings (historian) worked in various museums in Amsterdam and organizes historical walking tours through Amsterdam.

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