Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


AURY, Pierre: The Netherlands, 1672, Silver, 72 mm
Johan and Cornelius de Witt (Facing) CORNELIVS DE WITT. NAT[us]. A[nno]. 1623. IOHANNES DE WITT. NAT[us]. A[nno]. 1625 Behind the head of Johan: INTEGER VITAE (Irreproachable in His Conduct). Behind the head of Cornelius: SCELERIS QVE PVRVS (Free from Crime) (Together, taken from Horace, Odes, Book I, 22, line 1). Below on scroll: HIC. ARMIS MAXIMVS ILLE TOGA (One Is the Greatest in Military Life, the Other the Greatest in Civil Life)
Rev: The de Witt brothers being eaten by many headed monster within a frame of thorn branches .NUNC REDEUNT. ANIMIS. INGENTIA. CONSULIS. ACTA. ET FORMIDATI. SCEPTRIS. ORAC[u]LA MINISTRI (Now We Recall the Character of the Great Deeds of Our Burgomaster; and the Speeches of Our Minister of State Made Kingdoms Tremble). On ribbon: MENS AGITAT MOLEM ET MAGNO SE CORPORE MISCET (Mind Stirs up the Shapeless Mass and Makes the Universe Work) (Taken, in part, from Virgilís Aeneid 6:724).
Exergue: NOBILE PAR FRATRVM SAEVO FVROR ORE TRVCIDAT. XX AVGVSTI. (The Noble Pair of Brothers Killed with Savage Furor, 20 August). (The Chronogram reads 1672).
Signed: AVRY FEC
Ref: Van Loon III,81.1; Pollard (2008) vol 2, 869/937; Scher (1997) 56/39; Weiss BW005

Cornelius de Witt (1623-1672) held various positions in Holland and distinguished himself when he accompanied Admiral Michael de Ruyter in great naval battles against the united English and French fleets. His brother Johan de Witt (1625-1672) was an adherent of the republican states-right party which opposed the princes of the house of Orange, who represented the federal principle and who had the support of the masses of the people. The great diplomatic skill of Johan de Witt led in 1668 to the Triple Alliance between the Dutch Republic, England and Sweden, which halted the French invasion of Spanish Netherlands. However, in 1672, after persuading Charles II of England to abandon the Dutch, Louis XIV of France suddenly declared war and invaded the United Provinces. When the French armies overran Holland, the Dutch people turned to William III of Orange for leadership. The de Witt brothers, however, opposed William III, leading to violent demonstrations against them. Cornelius was arrested on charges of conspiring against the prince, was tortured and banished. When his brother Johan came to visit him in the Gavengenpoort at the Hague, a vast crowd burst in, seized the two brothers and tore them to pieces. Their mangled remains were hung by their feet from a lamp-post.
Pierre Aury apparently is the same person as an F. Avry, to whom this medal is sometimes attributed (see Biographical Sketches).

LINK to Biography of Cornelius de Witt (from Wikipedia)

LINK to Biography of Johan de Witt  (from Wikipedia)

LINK to Statue of the Brothers de Witt in Dordrecht (from Wikipedia)

LINK to Painting of the Corpses of the de Witt Brothers, Jan and Cornelis, hanging on the Groene Zoodje on the Vijverberg  by Jan de Baen (from Wikipedia)