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City Description Franco de Vrije

The transcription and translation of the historical description of Gouda by Franco de Vrije has been done by volunteers of the taskforce Gouda op Schrift (Gouda in Writing).

De Vrije wrote his city description around 1700. His text is therefore older than the first printed history of Gouda by Ignatius Walvis from 1714. The manuscript of De Vrije has been preserved in the Streekarchief Midden-Holland (Archives of Mid-Holland) in Gouda (Collectie Kemper, 0096. 144) and consists of 141 mostly one-sided written folia.

De Vrije starts his history from the Origo urbis (the origin of the town), followed by chapters on the naming of the town, the two rivers IJssel and Gouwe, the coat of arms, the castle, the streets, bridges, the market square, the town hall, the weight house, the rederijkers (the rhetoricians), the towers, churches, and the former monasteries. He finishes with a list of famous people from Gouda.

The manuscript is in a way a ‘work at progress’. Their are many blank spots in it, where the author wants to verify what he tends to write. The manuscript has never been printed. This city description is in line with the emancipatory aspirations of the Dutch cities, which emerged from the mid-sixteenth century. From this, one could tell the importance and grandeur of the city.