Johanna of Polanen and Anna of Egmont & Castle Breda

Photo by Moniek Bloks


A while ago I booked a historical walk through the city of Breda in the Netherlands. Breda was one of the original Nassau cities, and it was quite centrally located in the Netherlands when Belgium was also still a part of the Netherlands. Right now it’s situated pretty southernly. The first stop is this Nassau monument or Baroniemonument.

This monument displays the union of 11-year-old heiress Johanna of Polanen and Engelbert I of Nassau that took place in 1403. Johanna of Polanen was the great-great-grandmother of William the Silent.


The crests display all the lands owned by the couple.

Next stop was the Castle of Breda. The Castle was owned by the Polanen family and thus passed into the Nassau family with Johanna’s marriage. In 1544 the Nassau possessions were inherited by William of Orange who lived there with his first wife Anne of Egmont. Anne apparently had a fear of large rooms and stuck to living in the smaller blockhouse, located on the right below.

After the birth of Anna and William’s first daughter (the short-lived Maria of Nassau), the formidable Mary of Hungary came to the castle for her baptism.


Anna of Egmontbreda-5

Block housebreda-6

The Castle is now used as a military school and is not generally open to the public. The local tourist info (VVV) does organise tours through the castle, but be prepared to show some ID!




Oldest brick building in Breda


William I of the Netherlands 




Fox monument

I’m not sure what the real name of this monument is but this is apparently the spot where the peat barge entered the city (the castle used to be surrounded by water!) in a Trojan horse style raid with a group of soldiers on board to take back the castle and city from the Spanish.








For some reason, I had expected to actually go inside, but the tour then took us to the Grote Kerk, or Church of Our Lady. A blogpost on the Church of Our Lady will follow! It’s still pretty, though!

About Moniek Bloks 2698 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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