's-Hertogenbosch is a city in the southern part of the Netherlands, and also the capital of the province of North Brabant.
Around 1503 or 1504, Nicholas de Brabant was in 's-Hertogenbosch sitting as a model for the painter Hieronymous Bosch. Bosch was at that time creating The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych showing views of Eden and Hell, as well as a fantastical garden full of amorous figures. As a model for female images, Bosch used an attractive young woman, Ilsa. Although she refused his advances, he forced himself on her; and she blamed herself, assuming that she must somehow have led him on. In deep distress, she killed herself.
The name of the city is a contraction of the Dutch des Hertogen bosch—"the Duke's forest". Colloquially, the city is known as Den Bosch. The name is translated into French as Bois-le-Duc, in German as Herzogenbusch, in Spanish as Bolduque and in Italian as Boscoducale.
The city was founded on some forested dunes in the middle of a marsh by Henry I, Duke of Brabant, who had a large estate at nearby Orthen. He granted 's-Hertogenbosch city rights and the corresponding trade privileges in 1185 in order to protect his own interests against encroachment from Gelre and Holland; the city was from the very beginning conceived as a fortress town.
Until 1520, the city flourished, becoming the second largest population centre (after Utrecht) in the territory of the present Netherlands. It was the birthplace and home of one of the greatest painters of the northern renaissance, Hieronymous Bosch, as well as being a center of music.
During the Eighty Years' War, the city took the side of the Habsburg authorities. It was besieged several times; but it was deemed impregnable because the surrounding marshes made a siege of the conventional type impossible. It was finally conquered by Frederik Hendrik of Orange in 1629 in a typically Dutch way: he diverted the rivers Dommel and Aa (which had been diverted to run through artificial waterways as a city moat), constructed a forty-kilometre dyke, and then pumped out the water.
In 1815, when the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was established, it became the capital of North Brabant.
's-Hertogenbosch was founded as a fortified city and that heritage can still be seen today. Because the main ramparts are crucial in keeping out the water, they have never been torn down. Saint John's Cathedral (circa 1220 A.D.) is best known for its Gothic design and the many sculptures of craftsmen that are sitting on almost every arc and rim along the outside of the cathedral.
- Adapted from the Wikipedia article on 's-Hertogenbosch.