7 September 2022 - 8 January 2023


The murder on Musius

When we think of 'Leidens Ontzet', we think of the victors. After all, they made history. We know less about the war crimes, including the murder of Cornelis Musius (1500-1572). Find all about it in the new presentation in the Museum's Shelter Church.

The year 1572 marks the beginning of the "birth of the Netherlands". It marks the beginning of the Revolt of the Netherlands against Spanish rule: a turning point in the Eighty Years' War (1568 - 1648). In this year, Leiden joined the Revolt against Spain led by William of Orange. The war that followed eventually lasted 80 years. The Protestants fought against the Catholics. Thanks to a letter from William of Orange, we know about the brutal murder in Leiden of the elderly priest Cornelis Musius (1500-1572). A crime that makes it clear that both camps were capable of heinous acts.

In the Schuilkerk (Shelter Church) in Museum De Lakenhal, you can read, hear and see more about the life and death of Musius. For example, you can hear the letter of William of Orange, spoken by Leiden mayor Henri Lenferink.

About the murder of Musius

Cornelis Musius was the last rector of the Agatha convent in Delft, the nunnery that William of Orange chose as his residence and Prinsenhof in November 1572. Fearing that William of Orange would no longer be able to protect him, Musius decided to flee on December 9th. That same day, he was rounded up by a militia of Beggars and taken to the headquarters of Beggars leader Lumey at Pieterskerkhof in Leiden. The following day he was interrogated and tortured for hours. No record of this "sharp interrogation" has survived. Later rumors tell that Musius withheld information about hidden church treasures or that he planned to betray and poison William of Orange. What of this is true we will probably never know. What is certain is that on the night of December 10, the priest was hanged on the blue stone in front of the town hall on Lumey's orders and died a slow and hellish death. Almost immediately a Catholic martyr worship arose around Musius.