Count Willem II granted Delft city rights

April 15, 1246

Willem II born 1228 died 1256

father of Floris V

Beginning around 1100 AD, the three major north-south canals were dug:

  • Oude Delft
  • Nieuwe Delft
  • the Achterom / Brabantse Turfmarkt / Burgwal that connected behind the Nieuwe Kerk to the natural creek that came to be called the Oosteinde and Verwersdijk

The name Delft comes from that activity. In Dutch delven means "to dig": delven --> Delft. In English, we still delve into things.

In addition, east-west ditches were dug to drain the fields and pastures into the main canals. As the streets and houses alongside the canals developed, they became grachten.

On April 15, 1246, Count Willem II (right; click to enlarge) granted certain rights to the approximately 1,400 people living around those canals. City hall and the offices of sheriff (schout) and magistrates (schepenen) were established.

Even though a building that became the Oude Kerk was already there and functioning as a church, the Oude Kerk and other places in Delft date themselves back to 1246. That year is considered the official date of the founding of the City.


OAD inv. 1 (old 66). Akte waarbij graaf Willem II het gebied rond de Nieuwe Delft losmaakt uit het rechtsgebied van de Hof van Delft en aan de burgers een aantal vrijheden verleent, 1246 (Act whereby count Willem II releases the area around the Nieuwe Delft from the jurisdiction of the Hof (Court) of Delft and grants a number of rights to the citizens.)