On Wednesday, the cabinet decided to conduct an investigation into the historic graves under the former Hofkapel on the Binnenhof in The Hague, where there may still be remains of historic statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. The Senate is now located on the site of the Hofkapel.
"Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was a very important historical person. Even if it is unlikely that we will find remains of him, research into these graves is of great historical importance," said Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (Education, Culture and Science).
Councilor Van Oldenbarnevelt was one of the founders of the Dutch republic. On 1619, after a conflict with Prince Maurice, he was charged with treason and beheaded in the Binnenhof.
Van Oldenbarnevelt's remains were then placed in a chest in the Hofkapel. In the nineteenth century, however, the chapel was torn down because it had fallen into disrepair. The crypt with various body remains was bricked up.
Special burial for five hundred years
Even if according to Van Engelshoven there is little chance that remains of Van Oldenbarnevelt will be found, the excavations will in any case lead to interesting finds. National historians say that hundreds, sometimes very special bodies, have been interred of historical figures over a period of approximately five hundred years.
The researchers think that due to various reconstructions and displacements of the graves, many remains are no longer in their original places. That makes it difficult to find any skeletal remains of Van Oldenbarnevelt. In addition, no DNA match is available to identify his remains.
The study will start soon and will end next year. The excavations will take place simultaneously with the renovation of the Binnenhof.