Brielle ( ), also called Den Briel (Brill in English) is a town, municipality and historic seaport in the western Netherlands, in the province of South Holland, on the north side of the island of Voorne-Putten, at the mouth of the New Maas. The municipality covers an area of 31.14 km2 (12.02 sq mi) of which 3.58 km2 (1.38 sq mi) is water. In 2014 its population was 16,350.
Brielle is a very old, fortified town. Its name is derived from the Celtic word brogilo (meaning "closed area" or "hunting grounds"). The oldest writings about Brielle indicate that the current location is the "new" Brielle. Den ouden Briel (Old Brill) must have been situated somewhere else on the Voorne-Putten Island. It received city rights in 1306. The city was for a long time the seat of the Count of Voorne, until this fiefdom was added to Holland in 1371. It had its own harbour and traded with the countries around the Baltic Sea. Brielle even had its own trading colony in Sweden.
During the Eighty Years' War between the Netherlands and Spain, the Capture of Brielle on April 1, 1572, by Protestant rebels, the Watergeuzen, marked a turning point in the conflict, as many towns in Holland then began to support William of Orange against the Spanish Duke Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba who was sent to pacify The Netherlands. This event is still celebrated each year on April 1 and the night before (known as Chalk Night (kalknacht) when the city is defaced with chalk - and now also white paint). Dutch students are taught a short rhyme to remember this fact, which rhyme refers to April Fools' Day:
- "Op 1 april verloor Alva zijn bril" translating into "On April 1st, Alva lost his glasses",
("bril" is the Dutch word for "glasses" and it closely rhymes with Briel. The same rhyme continues with the line "Op April zes verloor Alva zijn fles" "On April 6th Alva lost his bottle" in which the word "Fles" stands for the town of Vlissingen, which was the next town to be caught by the Dutch rebels.)
After the capture of Brielle the Protestant rebels tortured and murdered the Catholic Martyrs of Gorkum and Brielle has become a pilgrimage location since then.
In August 1585, Brielle was one of the four Dutch towns that became an English possession by the Treaty of Nonsuch when Queen Elizabeth I received it as security of payment for 5000 soldiers (led by the Earl of Leicester) and used by the Dutch in their struggle against the Spanish. The first English governor of Brielle was Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, succeed by Edward Conway, 1st Viscount Conway who named his daughter Brilliana in honour of the city. English garrisons were stationed here and at Flushing. In 1617, these cities returned to the Netherlands.
Brielle is twinned with: