History

A city since 1252, Breda's golden age really began under Engelbert I of Nassau and his son Jan IV, who became de facto rulers of wealthy Brabant. To bring a lucrative flow of pilgrims, Jan installed a then-famous relic, 'the miraculous bleeding wafer of Niervaart' within his vast, new Gothic church (Breda's Grote Kerk). Breda's most glorious years came under Hendrick III of Nassau (1483–1538) who gained enormous prestige as adviser to Europe's most powerful man, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. However, Breda was almost wiped out in a 1534 fire, its church was ravaged by iconoclasts and during the Eighty Years' War the diminished city changed hands several times, most famously in 1625 when Spain's temporary success was immortalised in the world-famous painting Surrender of Breda by Velázquez.