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Leyden still celebrates end of 1574 siege with huge meal

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LEYDEN – The date October 3, 1574 remains etched in the collective consciousness of the citizenry of this country’s historic Dutch city. On that day, the Siege of Leyden ended with the city falling into the hands of the dreaded Spanish troops. Earlier, the Spanish had sacked other Dutch towns and murdered old and young indiscriminately, making surrender a questionable prospect. The joy of freedom was all the greater after the city went through a famine during the five months-long siege that Leyden was sealed off from the rest of the country. The siege was the second within a year, interrupted to meet an Orange-led invasion from Germany. After the invaders were defeated, the Spaniards returned to drive a stake into the heart of the territory that had risen up against Spanish rule, the onset of the Eighty Year War in 1568 and known as the Dutch Revolt in the English-speaking world. On Saturday, October 2, Leyden dished up 2,500 kilograms of ‘hutspot,’ potatoes mixed with carrots and unions, still a national dish, to 4,500 registrants. Together with white buns and herring, the famished Leyden folk were fed such meals after the enemy had been driven off in 1574.