Who was Engelberta van Brienen?

Engelberta 22 years old
Engelberta 22 years old. Painted by Nicolaes Maes. Click here for his biography.
Fiancé Paul
Engelberta 50 years old
Paul 52 years old
Engelberta as baby

Glad Tidings:
Engelberta was born on January 9, 1653. She was the fourth daughter of Engelbert van Brienen and Henrica Vogels. Engelberta's father was mayor of Arnhem. Read here more about the Van Brienen family, their family crest and how Engelberta kept her maiden name after her marriage.

In 1675, when Engelberta was 22 years old, she married Paulus Voet van Wissen. He was two years older than Engelberta. His father Prof. Dr. Paulus Voet, was professor metaphysics in the town of Utrecht. Paul's mother was Elisabeth van Winssen. She passed away at age 31, when Paul was only 4 years old. The three children were given the family names of both parents: Voet van Winssen. Read here more about the Voet family.

It is the time of the end of the war with France. Two years earlier Utrecht had been occupied by French soldiers, but at this time Louis XIV's army has withdrawn to the South. The Dutch fleet has been victorious in sea battles against England and Holland has a new inspirational leader: Willem III of Orange. The country seems to have turned over a new leaf and most people are in good spirits. Paul and Engelberta decide to get married.

Read here about Dutch marriage customs in the 17th century.

Engelberta's portrait was probably painted just before her marriage. That was the custom of "high-born gentry". Paul's portrait next to it (now privately owned) was painted at the same time.
Five years after their marriage, Paul became mayor of Utrecht and later Secretary of State for the Province of Utrecht.

Their Children:
Engelberta gave birth to eight children. The first one when she was 23 and the eighth when she was 41. Their third child, Deliana Margareta, died when she was only 18 months old. Engelberta was highly pregnant at the time. One week later Engelberta gave birth to another baby girl. She again named her Deliana Margareta.

Engelberta's Descendants:
Engelberta passed away at the age of 63. Paul lived another 4 years.

When Engelberta died she had 5 grandchildren. Who would have guessed that some 300 years, and 13 generations later, she would have over 300 descendants. Almost all "Dutch nobility and Hollywood royalty (Audrey Hepburn)", living in all parts of the world (Europe, Asia, Australia, (South) Africa and the USA).

Many of her descendants held important positions in government or industry a.o. the first female mayor of the town of Breda, an ambassador for The Netherlands in Washington DC, a board member of KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) and a board member of Unilever, one of the biggest multi-nationals in the world.

Each death is devastating and a tragedy, but the demise of one of Engelberta's descendants, as well as his father, and the spouses of two other descendants were particularly sad: they perished in German concentration camps in 1945.