Maria of Nassau & Castle Bergh

Photo by Moniek Bloks

bergh-1 Maria of Nassau was born on 18 March 1539 as the daughter of William the Rich and Juliana of Stolberg. She was thus the sister of William the Silent. She married William IV van den Bergh on 12 November 1556. They had quite a successful marriage, having 17 children. One child was stillborn.

  • Magdalena van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (1 Aug. 1557 – 25 May 1579)
  • Herman van den Bergh Count van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg ( 2 Aug. 1558 – 12 Aug. 1611)
  • Frederik van den Bergh Count den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (18 Aug. 1559 – 3 Sep. 1618)
  • Oswald van den Bergh (16 Jun. 1561 – 17 Jan. 1586)
  • Wilhelmina van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (7 Jul. 1562 – drowned in the IJssel near Ulft, 15 Nov. 1591)
  • Elisabeth van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (31 Dec. 1563 – 1572)
  • Joost van den Bergh Count van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (25 jan. 1565 – 8 Aug. 1600)
  • Adam van den Bergh Count van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (1568 – 7 Nov. 1590)
  • Juliana van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (1571 – drowned in the IJssel near Ulft, 15 Nov. 1591)
  • Adolf van den Bergh Count van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (1572 – 25 May 1609)
  • Lodewijk van den Bergh Count van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (1 Nov. 1572 – 10 .Jun 1592)
  • Hendrik van den Bergh Count van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg, Lord of Stevensweerd en Stadhouder of Gelre (1573 – 12 May 1638)
  • Catharina van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (1578 – 19 Oct. 1640). She married Floris II of Pallandt 2nd Count of Culemborg (1601)
  • Anna van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (1579 – 17 Aug 1630)
  • Elisabeth van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg princess-abbes of Essen (1581 – 12 Jan 1614) (German) Documentary about the Essener Dom, which includes Elisabeth.
  • Charlotte van den Bergh-‘s Heerenberg (1582 – 2 Nov 1631)

Their primary residence was this castle until they were forced to flee to Cologne during a rebellion. William died in 1586 and disaster struck again when two of her daughters drowned when a bridge over the Oude IJssel river collapsed. They were inside a carriage at the time.1 Maria survived the bridge collapse. Three of her sons died in the service of the King of Spain. In total, she buried 8 of her children. Her son Joost was mentally disabled. Maria herself died in 1598 and she was initially buried next to her husband and children in Ulft. In 1761 her remains were transferred to a church in Gendringen, where they were lost in a fire in 1830.2

No portraits seem to exist of this Maria of Nassau. Several portraits seem to have been mistakenly linked to her, but as far as I can tell those are all of her niece also named Maria. She does have a small statue in Ulft, but I’m not sure how lifelike this is.





One of Maria’s daughters, Anna.


Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Parma


Elisabeth of Austria, Queen of France


Maria Theresa of Spain, Queen of France


Mariana of Austria, Queen of Spain


Maria Anna of Spain, Holy Roman Empress


Elisabeth of France, Queen of Spain


Mary of Hungary


Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Isabella of Portugal


Signature of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany


Seal of Maria of Nassau, though not actually on display as far as I could tell.


Above the gate


Two lions were guarding the entrance

bergh-18 bergh-19

Cell and memorial for Mechteld ten Ham, who was convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1605.


Outside, that little door on the right side of the steps was the entrance to the cell

I had a pleasant day at Castle Bergh. Perhaps some more signs throughout the castle would’ve helped, for example, a designated walking route. I find many castles just don’t bother with things like this. However, I got stuck inside a group of parents and children who were on a tour several times during the day because of this. I really like that they let the children (and even some parents!) dress up for the tour, it makes it more interesting for the children. I found the entrance fee (10 euro) a bit pricey. Sure, the art collection is very nice, but small and the parts of the inside you’re allowed to see are ten rooms spread over 2 floors at the most. For some reason, I expected to see more of Maria of Nassau, since they advertise her as their link to the house of Orange-Nassau. However, her seal they apparently have in their collection wasn’t on display.

Also, don’t expect much of the shop, it’s just a simple corner inside the cafe.


About Moniek Bloks 2749 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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