My wife and I are always looking for good films to watch. We’ve come across quite a few recently. The most recent is the 2015 film Michiel de Ruyter, called The Admiral in the English version. It’s based on the life of Dutch admiral Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter (1607–1676). De Ruyter was “one of the most skilled admirals in history, most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He fought the English and French and scored several major victories against them, the best known probably being the Raid on the Medway.”

The film is mostly in Dutch with Engish subtitles that’s easy to follow. It’s a great action film, and the history is true to form.

One of the subthemes is the murder of Johan de Witt and his brother. Because of a bad military decision, a number of crazed rioters executed the brothers in the streets:

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“In the hysteria that followed the effortless invasion by an alliance of three countries, he and his brother Cornelis de Witt were blamed and lynched in The Hague, whereafter rioters partially ate the brothers. The rioters were never prosecuted, and historians have argued that William of Orange may have incited them.”

That’s right. They were disemboweled, the penis of Johann cut off, and their bodies cannibalized. In the painting below, you can see the progression of the crime. Their naked bodies can be seen lying in the street in the center right of the painting and then later hanging upside down on wooden posts.

Here’s a detail of a painting showing the brothers gutted by the mob.

From a political dispute, some people believed they were justified taking the law into their own hands.

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