The Sword and the Album
Material Memories and an Eighteenth-Century Poetic Account of the Execution of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1619)
In 1878 the Rijksmuseum acquired two objects related to the violent death of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt: the executioner’s sword allegedly used to behead the Land’s Advocate and an eighteenth-century album of poems about the weapon of execution. The article describes how these objects have functioned in the Oldenbarnevelt memory culture and shows how they have taken on new functions and meanings over the centuries – from a possible executioner’s weapon, to a republican and then national relic, to an objet de mémoire.
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