Breda, Netherlands


Breda is a Dutch city in the west of the province of North Brabant. Breda has traditionally been the main city of West Brabant. It was the capital of the Baronie of Breda, which also included Roosendaal, Etten-Leur and Oosterhout. As of August 1, 2020, the municipality of Breda had 183,790 inhabitants (called Bredanaren or Bredanaars), making it the third largest municipality in North Brabant and the ninth municipality in the Netherlands.

The city was an important garrison and fortified city and still plays a visible role within the Dutch armed forces due to the presence of the Royal Military Academy (KMA) and the headquarters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It has been the seat of the eponymous diocese since 1853. The presence first of the Lords of Breda, but later also of the Chamber of Commerce, the Court and the Diocese have ensured that Breda, both traditionally and today, forms the political, administrative and religious-administrative heart of West Brabant. The city has traditionally also had a lot of trade and industry. It is located at a junction of water, rail and motorways.



Breda has a historical connection with the house of Nassau. Until 1795, the citizens of Breda were subjects of the lord of Breda, who from 1403 also counted Nassau and from 1538 also the prince of Orange-Nassau. Since 1815, Baron van Breda has been one of the king's (in) historical titles. As a result, Breda is not only an Oranjestad, but it is also regarded as the Nassau city par excellence.
Breda has an important historical city center, which has formed over the centuries around the Castle of Breda, the seat of the Lords of Breda. In the city center, next to the Castle (the KMA), you will find the gothic Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, the Grote Markt, the City Park 'het Valkenberg', the Begijnhof, the Haven, the Spanjaardsgat, and the Prinsenkade. From the end of the 19th century, the term Haagje van het Zuiden also came into use for Breda. This predicate can be interpreted in several ways, but seems to refer mainly to the beautiful, wooded surroundings of the city. Both because of its historic urban beauty and because of its beautiful, wooded surroundings, Breda is called no less than the Pearl of the South in its national anthem.



Important years in the history of Breda are:

1125: First mention of the name Breda in a document that concerns a donation to the Abbey of Affligem and where Arnulfus (Arnulf) and Ingelbertus (Engelbrecht) van Breda act as witnesses.
1252: Breda buys privileges from Mr. Hendrik IV van Schoten. This act is still seen by many as obtaining city rights. However, Breda never got a city right, it gradually developed into a city. That was common.
1267: On March 22, Hendrik V van Schoten, lord of Breda, donates to the Breda beguines the land on which they have settled and grants them permission to build a church and a cemetery on it. This donation is kept as the foundation of the Breda Begijnhof.
1327 Mr. van Breda sells his land with the city to the Duke of Brabant.
1350 the duke of Brabant lends the city, the castle and the land of Breda to Jan II van Polanen, a Dutch nobleman.
1350 - 1378 Jan I van Polanen, Lord of Breda
1378 - 1394 Jan II van Polanen, Lord of Breda
1403: Barony of Breda
1449: The Sacrament of Niervaert is transferred at the request of Jan IV van Nassau to the Grote-of-Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk Breda.

Between 1450 and 1550, the city of Breda developed into one of the most remarkable cultural and political centers in the Netherlands. As a residence city of the Brabant branch of the Nassau dynasty, who had been lords of Breda since 1403, the city acquired a special allure. The Brabant Nassaus belonged to the highest nobility in the Burgundian-Habsburg Netherlands and pursued a corresponding cultural policy in their manors. In Breda, this happened (also) in close collaboration with the urban community. Breda's urban allure took shape in construction and beautification projects, the creation of literary, visual and architectural works of art and the creation of monuments.


1504 - 1538 Henry III of Nassau-Breda of Nassau, Lord of Breda
1534 - big city fire in Breda
1544 - 1567 William I of Orange
1566: Iconoclasm
1568: Start of the Eighty Years' War
1567 - 1576 Breda confiscated by the King of Spain
1576 - 1581 William of Orange, who was declared outlaw in 1581, after which Breda was conquered by the Spaniards by Claudius van Berlaymont (the fury of Houtepen)
1581 - 1590 Spanish occupation
1590: Breda recaptured from the Spaniards by the ruse with the Turf ship of Breda
1624/1625: Siege of Breda by Spinola
1637: Breda recaptured by the Republic for the third time under the leadership of Frederik Hendrik van Oranje
1646: Opening of the Illustrious school and Collegium Auriacum (Breda)
1648: The Peace of Münster ends the Eighty Years' War. Between 1648 and 1795, the Low German Reformed faith formed the 'state church' of the Republic and Catholics were prohibited from practicing their religion in public.
1667: The Peace of Breda, the treaty concluded in Breda to end the Second Anglo-Dutch War
1809: Louis Napoleon, the first king of Holland, visits Breda, during his inspection trip held by the departments of Brabant and Zeeland.
1813: The French occupation of Breda flees when Cossacks appear nearby. The city is occupied by Russian and Prussian troops. A French army led by François Roguet and Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes returns to conquer the city but is beaten back during the Siege of Breda, partly with the help of Dutch troops (including Regiment van Phaff) and the civilian population. In the second half of the 19th century, a period of boom in trade and industry began for Breda.

1940 May 12: Breda taken by Nazi Germans; population is evacuated but mostly returns within a few weeks
1940 17 May: 51 refugees are killed in bombardment in Sint-Niklaas
1942 August 8: Occupiers have to register Jews, start deportations and are completed in December
1944 13 October, Duivelsbruglaan 42, bombardment by RAF Typhoons, 25 dead
1944 29 October: liberation of the city by Polish soldiers under General Stanisław Maczek, more than 500 citizens of Breda died during the entire war



Shortly after the German invasion - on the early morning of May 10, 1940 - a massive evacuation from Breda took place. Breda was in danger of ending up between the fronts of the advancing Nazi Germans and French. The approximately 50,000 inhabitants were ordered to evacuate the city on this Whit Sunday of May 12, 1940. The Breda residents themselves speak of "The Flight".
The evacuation took place on the authority of Mayor Van Slobbe, whether or not by order or order of the French.

At the beginning of the war, a French force from Belgium came to Breda, but did not reach the city. The Nazi German occupiers used the large number of military buildings in the city to house soldiers from the rapidly expanding Fliegerhorst Gilze-Rijen, among them a few dozen 'Luftwaffehelferinnen', also known as 'Blitzmädel', who worked at the liaison services. Resistance fighters in Breda played an important role in helping Allied pilots to return to Allied territory.

Only in 1942 did the occupation intensify, when the occupying forces started registering Jews because of the planned deportation. This was completed in December and the approximately 225 Breda Jews disappeared to concentration camps or went into hiding. Breda was right on the air route from England to Germany and close to Gilze-Rijen airport and was therefore regularly faced with air raids or bombings, which killed several hundred inhabitants.

On September 4, 1944, Radio Oranje announced that Breda had been liberated, after Antwerp was also liberated on that date. That message turned out to be false and was withdrawn later that day. Many occupiers and collaborators then fled the city. On October 29, 1944, the city was liberated by Polish soldiers under General Maczek.