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Wij groeien vast in tal en last… Burgerweeshuis (Citizen orphanage) – Kalverstraat 92 – Amsterdam NL

Relief with orphan children grouped around the emblem of the Amsterdam civic orphanage, the Burgerweeshuis circa 1581 by Joost Jansz Bilhamer © Frank H. Jump

June 2010 © Frank H. Jump

Amsterdam – Burgerweeshuis (Citizen orphanage)

In 1578 Amsterdam was forced to choose for the revolt against the Spanish (1578). Most Catholic property came to be owned the city. This was also the case with the former St. Lucien monastery. Shortly afterwards (1579) the empty monastery was inhabited by orphans.

The old building was reconstructed and a new building for little children, designed by Hendrick de Keyser, was added at the eastern side of the court-yard. In 1581 a new and conspicuous entrance gate was built in the Kalverstraat. Vondel wrote the text on it:

‘Wij groeien vast in tal en last, ons tweede vaders klaghen. Ay, gaat niet voort door deze poort, of help een luttel draghen’ (Our second fathers complain that we are growing in number and cost. Do not pass this gate without offering some help).

About 1631 the orphanage acquired the neighbouring Oudenmannenhuis (Old men’s house) buildings. After rebuilding the boy orphans came to live here. They had their own court-yard. In 1632 a extensive rebuilding took place: the north, west and south front of the girl’s court-yard. Afterwards the east front was rebuilt in the same style. The fronts then constructed and designed by Jakob van Campen are still determine the sight of the building. In front of the former monastery’s cow stable a gallery was built in 1632, probably designed by Pieter de Keyser (son of Hendrick de Keyser). Above the gallery the orphanage school was located.

To be accepted by the citizen’s orphanage, your parents had to have been official citizen (poorter) for a number of years. Not every inhabitant of Amsterdam had this civil right, for which you had to pay. If the parents had been citizen for too short a period or if they had been to poor to buy this right, the orphans had to be put up in one of the many church orphanages.

In the beginning of the 19th century the citizenship (poorterschap) was abolished. From 1819 on every Amsterdam inhabitant could register for the Burgerweeshuis.

Editor(s): Fokko Dijkstra
Latest revision: 12. September 2008 11:59 – CHAIN – Cultural Heritage Activities & Institutes Network

© Frank H. Jump

Orphanage – Burgerweeshuis – Kalverstraat, Amsterdam – Wikipedia

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