Photographer's Note

Another picture made in a small Dutch town, this one shows the church tower in the town of Oudewater in the province of Utrecht. The church, now Protestant, dates from the 15th century. Its tower is from round 1300. During the religious wars, both Roman Catholics and Protestants used this church. Thereafter Catholics were still tolerated but more in low profile.

Oudewater is situated where the Linschoten river flows out in the Hollandsche IJssel (the latter river is seen here). The origin of the town of Oudewater (lit. "old water") is obscure. One explanation is that the name is a corruption of old water-meadow. Oudewater was an important border city between Holland and Utrecht. The town was granted city rights in 1265 by Hendrik van Vianden, the bishop of Utrecht. Oudewater was one of the twelve cities taking part in the first free convention of the States-General in Dordrecht. This was a meeting that laid down the origin of the State of the Netherlands, as we know it now, under the leadership of the House of Orange. This happened at the beginning of the 80 year war (1568-1648) when the Netherlands were still part of the Spanish Empire. After a siege of several months, Oudewater was conquered by the Spanish on August 7, 1575, and most of its inhabitants killed.

Oudewater is famous for the Heksenwaag (Witches' scales). This Weighing house, an official town building, became famous during the 16th century because people accused of witchcraft were offered an honest chance of proving their innocence. In many cities and countries such trials were usually rigged, resulting in the burning or drowning of hundreds of innocent people. So many people accused of witchcraft from all over Europe (or at least, those who could afford the trip) made a head-over-heels trip to Oudewater to avoid being burned at a stake. After the weighing, they received an official certificate proclaiming them not a witch. Although nobody was ever found to be an actual witch in Oudewater, the weighings were still public spectacle. Even today you can get a certificate that "your body weight is in proportion to your build." The reasoning behind this is the old belief that a witch has no soul and therefore weighs significantly less than an ordinary person; this distinction allows the witch to fly on a broomstick.

This is the first picture from Oudewater on TE.

Henryk_Bilor, pablominto, gildasjan, Silke, syd1946, jhm, Paolo, luisafonso trouve(nt) cette note utile

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Additional Photos by Alexander Pasternak (pasternak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1341 W: 179 N: 3373] (15185)
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