Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland (Zuid-Holland), which is part of the European country the Netherlands. Delft is located in the midwest of this country, in between the bigger cities of Rotterdam and The Hague. Delft is primarily known for its historical Dutch town centre with canals; also for the painter Vermeer, Delft Blue pottery (Delftware), the Delft University of Technology, and its association with the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.
From a rural village in the early Middle Ages Delft developed to a city, that in the 13th century (1246) received its charter.
The town's association with the House of Orange started when William of Orange (Willem van Oranje), nicknamed William the Silent (Willem de Zwijger), took up residence in 1572 At the time he was the leader of growing national Dutch resistance against Spanish occupation of the country, which struggle is known as the Eighty Years' War. By then Delft was one of the leading cities of Holland and it was equipped with the necessary city walls to serve as a headquarters.
When William was shot dead in 1584, by Balthazar Gerards in the hall of the Prinsenhof, the family's traditional burial place in Breda was still in the hands of the Spanish. Therefore, he was buried in the Delft Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), starting a tradition for the House of Orange that has continued to the present day.
The Delft Explosion, also known in history as the Delft Thunderclap, occurred on 12 October 1654 when a gunpowder store exploded, destroying much of the city. Over a hundred people were killed and thousands wounded.
About 30 tonnes (66,138 pounds) of gunpowder were stored in barrels in a magazine in a former Clarissen convent in the Doelenkwartier district. Cornelis Soetens, the keeper of the magazine, opened the store to check a sample of the powder and a huge explosion followed. Luckily, many citizens were away, visiting a market in Schiedam or a fair in The Hague. Artist Carel Fabritius was wounded in the explosion and died of his injuries. Later on, Egbert van der Poel painted several pictures of Delft showing the devastation. The Delft Explosion is the principal reason why Delft University of Technology maintains explosion science as a key topic within its research portfolio and graduate skill-set.
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