The Full Wiki

Pier Gerlofs Donia: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pier Gerlofs Donia

Etching of Grutte Pier, from 'Chronycke ofte Historische Geschiedenis van Frieslant' published in 1622.[1]
Born 1480
Kimswerd, Frisia
Died 1520
Sneek, Frisia
Nationality Frisian
Other names Grutte Pier
Occupation farmer
Known for Leading a Frisian rebellion between 1515 and 1519
Spouse(s) Rintsje Syrtsema
Children Gerlof Piers Donia and Wobbel Piers Donia
Parents Gerlof Piers Donia and Fokel Sybrants Bonga

Pier Gerlofs Donia (c.1480 – 1520) was a Frisian warrior, pirate, and rebel. He is best known by his West Frisian nickname "Grutte Pier" ("Big Pier" in the Old Frisian spelling), or by the Dutch translations "Grote Pier" and "Lange Pier", or, in Latin, "Pierius Magnus", which referred to his legendary size and strength.

His life is mostly shrouded in legend. Based upon a description now attributed to Pier’s contemporary Petrus Thaborita, the 19th-century historian Conrad Busken Huet wrote that Grutte Pier was

a tower of a fellow as strong as an ox, of dark complexion, broad shouldered, with a long black beard and moustache. A natural rough humorist, who through unfortunate circumstances was recast into an awful brute. Out of personal revenge for the bloody injustice that befell him (in 1515) with the killing of kinsfolk and destruction of his property he became a freedom fighter of legendary standing.[2]


Early life and family

Grutte Pier was born Pier Gerlofs Donia (Pier Gerlofs), around 1480 in Kimswerd near the city of Harlingen, Wonseradeel in Friesland, The Netherlands. Pier Gerlofs was one of at least four children born to Fokel Sybrants Bonga and Gerlof Piers.[3] Pier's mother Fokel was the daughter of the Schieringer noblemen Sybrant Doytsesz. Bonga of Bongastate, Kimswerd.[4]

Pier married Rintsje Syrtsema and they had two children, a son named Gerlof and a daughter named Wobbel, who were born around 1510. Pier died in 1520, and in 1525, Pier's mother appointed in her will Pier's brother, Sybren, as guardian of Pier's children, who still were minors.[3][5] Pier and Pier's brother-in-law Ane Pijbes (husband of Tijdt Gerlofs), were partners in the farming estate of Meyllemastate in Kimswerd.

Pier was the direct descendant of the Frisian chieftain Haring Harinxma (1323–1404), a Schieringer and potestate of Westergo, and the third cousin of Jancko Douwama.[6]

Wijerd Jelckama often is described by 18th and 19th century authors as the nephew of Grutte Pier. Contemporary Worp van Thabor identifies him simply as Wierd van Bolsward. Modern authors such as J.J. Kalma[7] doubt the nephew connection and Brouwer in the Encyclopedia of Friesland states that Wierd was not Grutte Pier's nephew but instead his "lieutenant".[8]


Approximately 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) to the north-east of Donia's village of Kimswerd, in the city of Franeker[9], the Black Band, a Landsknecht regiment in the service of George, Duke of Saxony was quartered. The regiment was charged with suppressing the civil war between the Vetkopers, who opposed Burgundian and subsequently Habsburg rule, and the Schieringers. The Black Band were notorious as a violent military force; when their pay was insufficient or lacking, they would extract payments from local villagers[10] and on 29 January 1515, the Black Band plundered Donia's village, then allegedly raped and killed his wife, Rintze Syrtsema, and burnt to the ground both the village church and Donia's estate.[11][12] Seeking revenge, Pier started a guerrilla war campaign against the Habsburgs and allied himself with Charles of Egmond, Duke of Guelders (1492–1538), the foremost opponent of the Habsburgs.[13]

Peasant rebels

Pier's armed band, known as the Arumer Zwarte Hoop (English: Arumer Black Heap, as in "group/mass of"), were pirates mainly active against the Hollanders and Burgundians at sea. He managed to capture many English and Dutch ships, mainly on the Zuider Zee (today's ‘IJsselmeer’). In the biggest battle of his career, in 1515, he captured 28 Dutch ships, which earned him the nickname "Cross of the Dutchmen". Erasmus criticized Grutte Pier's exploits.[14]

"De dapperheid van Grote Pier" (The bravery of Grote Pier), anno 1516, Oil on canvas by Johannes Hinderikus Egenberger, (Arnhem 1822 – Utrecht 1897)

Pier targeted ships that travelled the Zuider Zee and was very active in 1517, when he used his "signal ships" to attack ships in the region of the West Frisian coast, to which he also transported Geldrian forces, setting them ashore at Medemblik. Pier bore a personal enmity to Medemblik and its inhabitants as, in earlier years, soldiers from Medemblik had cooperated with the Holland army commanded by Duke Charles, the future Emperor.[15] In March 1498, Medemblik was where representatives of the Schieringers met the Saxon ruler duke Albrecht to request Saxon protection from the Vetkopers — a request that resulted in the Saxon occupation of Friesland, The Netherlands.[16] On 24 June 1517, Grutte Pier and his Arumer Zwarte Hoop, consisting of some 4,000 soldiers from Frisia and Guelders, sailed to West Frisia, passing Enkhuizen, landing near Wervershoof and advancing to Medemblik. They swiftly captured Medemblik, killing many inhabitants and taking many others prisoner. Some were released on payment of a high ransom. Some of the town's inhabitants fled and found safety at Medemblik Castle. The castle's governor, Joost van Buren, succeeded in keeping the aggressors outside the castle walls. Unable to take the castle, the Arumer Zwarte Hoop plundered the town and set it on fire. With most houses made of wood, the town, including the church, monastery and town hall, were completely razed. After this partial victory, Pier and his army stormed both Nieuwburg and Middleburg Castle near Alkmaar, plundered and set them on fire, leaving only ruins.

In 1517, the Arumer Zwarte Hoop captured the town of Asperen, slaughtering virtually all its inhabitants. They then used the heavily fortified city as a base until driven out by Holland's Stadhouder.[17] In response to the attacks on Medemblik and Alkmaar and the failure of the Captain General of Amstelland, Waterland and Gooiland to defend his territories, the Stadhouder of Holland agreed to fit out a war fleet in July 1517. The fleet came under the supreme command of Anthonius van den Houte, Lord of Vleteren, appropriately titled "Admiral of the Zuider Zee". In the name of Charles V, van den Houte announced he would free the region of Frisian and Gelder piracy. Although van den Houte was initially successful, with some of the Frisian vessels being burnt near Bunschoten, Grutte Pier responded by seizing 11 of Holland's ships in a battle off the coast near Hoorn in 1518.[18]

Shortly after this victory, Pier defeated 300 Hollanders in Hindelopen.[19] According to a legend, Pier forced his captives to repeat a shibboleth to distinguish Frisians from Holland and Lower German infiltrators:

Butter, bread, and green cheese: if you can’t say that, you’re not a real Frisian.[20]

Grutte Pier was also credited with coining the old Frisian slogan "Leaver dea as slaef" ("Better dead than slave").[21]

Despite his successes, Pier could not turn the Burgundian/Habsburg tide and he retired, disillusioned, in 1519. His nephew, Wierd Jelckama took over the command of Pier’s forces.[22] Pier died peacefully in his bed at Grootzand 12[23] in the Frisian town of Sneek on 18 October 1520.[24] Pier is buried in Sneek in the 15th-century Groote Kerk (also called the Martinikerk).[19] His tomb is located at the north side of the church.[25]

Superhuman strength and size

In 1791, Jacobus Kok wrote that above the porticus of the New City Hall of Leeuwarden, two remarkably large swords were found which were said to have belonged to Grutte Pier and his nephew Wijard Jelckama. Donia was noted for the ability to wield this great sword so efficiently that he could behead multiple people with it in a single blow.[26]

Today, a great sword that is said to have belonged to Pier is on display at the Fries museum in Leeuwarden. It measures 2.15 metres (7 ft) in length and weighs about 6.6 kilograms (14.6 lb). To have wielded such a weapon, he must have been a man of unusual stature and superior physical strength.[27] Some sources put his height at 7ft.[28] Pier was alleged to be so strong that he could bend coins using just his thumb, index and middle finger. A huge helmet said to be Grutte Pier's is kept in the town hall of Sneek.[29]

In popular culture

Statue of Grutte Pier in his hometown of Kimswerd. The line of text on the foot of the statue simply reads in Friese "Grutte Pier".

The legendary status of Grote Pier as a hero or a villain has endured over the centuries with his exploits retold in book, poetry, song and more recently television.

Gysbert Japicx

The seventeenth century Friese poet Gysbert Japicx (1603–1666) wrote in his composition ‘Tjesck Moars See Aengste’ [Grandmothers’s Sea Anguish][30] the following verse in reverence to Grote Pier (eng. trans., Tall Peter):

Grandmothers’s Sea Anguish

Thee I’ll follow, noble Peter,
Thou wert nobler far and greater,
Than the noblest, home-kept lord,
Battling like an ancient roman,
For his country with her foeman,
Whom he chased with fire and sword.


Stories about Pier grew into legends that often share themes with stories of other strong men in Germanic heroic literature. For example, one story says Pier ploughed his land by pulling the plough himself instead of using horses. Another story states that Pier could lift a horse above his head. Fivefal is the name in Frisian of a Frisian legend. It tells the story of Pier killing five Hollandic mercenaries sent to kill him:

Grutte Pier was a very strong fellow. One time he was busy ploughing. He had hitched his horse in front of the plough. It was an old-fashioned plough with a wooden beam. Then a stranger approached and he asked "Do you know where Grutte Pier lives?" Then Grutte Pier undid the plough from the horse. And he took the plow in his right hand and lifted from the ground and then pointed with the plough to the house. And he said: "Look, he lives there." With his other fist he hit himself on the chest and said: "And here he stands."

It is said that Pier killed the mercenaries at Donia Estate, Kimswerd. The place where he killed them is known as Fivefal, (Lit. Five fall) for all five of them fell to the ground.[31]


In the 1970s, in the Dutch Floris series, Donia was a major character played by actor Hans Boskamp. Although he was a villain and the enemy of the leading character, many children learned about Donia, albeit in a historically incorrect way, and it brought Grutte Pier back into popular culture.[32] He was also a major character in the German language remake of the series, although he was less popular than in the Netherlands.[33]


The Greate Pier rugby club in Leeuwarden, which plays on a regional level, is named after Donia in Friesland.[34] Many other clubs and several ships are named after him. There is also a skutsje sailing cup named after him which is held annually in Friesland, The Netherlands.[35]


  1. ^ Pierius Winsemius. Chronycke ofte Historische Geschiedenis van Vrieslant', published in 1622
  2. ^ Cd. Busken Huet, Het land van Rembrand. Studiën over de Noordnederlandsche beschaving in de zeventiende eeuw (2 delen in 3 banden). H.D. Tjeenk Willink, Haarlem 1882–1884
  3. ^ a b Archief Familie Van Sminia, inv. nr 2556. Opschrift: Copia. In dorso (= f. 2v): Last Will and Testament of Fokel, widow of Gerloff Piers
  4. ^ J.J. Kalma. Grote Pier Van Kimswerd (1970), p. 51. ISBN 90-7001-013-5.
  5. ^ Approaches to Old Frisian Philology, By Rolf Hendrik Bremmer, Thomas S. B. Johnston, Oebele Vries, Published 1998, ISBN 904200651X, page 299, Widows in Medieval Frisia
  6. ^ Ancestors of the families Langenberg & Laagland
  7. ^ J.J. Kalma: Grote Pier Van Kimswerd (1970), p. 127–129. ISBN 90-7001-013-5.
  8. ^ Encyclopedia of Friesland, by Jelle Hindriks Brouwer, 1958, p. 333.
  9. ^ Kalma, J.J. (1970). (ed.) de Tille. ed. Grote Pier Van Kimswerd. Netherlands. pp. 54–66. ISBN 90-7001-013-5.  
  10. ^ "Bûter, Brea en Griene Tsiis". Retrieved 2008-10-16.  
  11. ^ Kalma, J.J. (1970). (ed.) de Tille. ed. Grote Pier Van Kimswerd. Netherlands. pp. 67. ISBN 90-7001-013-5.  
  12. ^ "Opzoek naar Maarten van Rossum Heer van Poederoyen en de rest van de wereld". Retrieved 2008-10-16.  
  13. ^ "Van Philips de Goede, Philips de Schone tot Maarten Luther". Retrieved 2008-10-16.  
  14. ^ The Age of Erasmus, Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London, by P.S.Allen, Clarendon Press 1914
  15. ^ "Kasteel van Medemblik in de 16e eeuw". Retrieved 2008-10-13.  
  16. ^ Fryslan, staat en macht 1450–1650: Bijdragen aan het historisch congres te Leeuwarden van 3 tot 5 juni 1998. By Johan Frieswijk et al. Published 1999
  17. ^ Beekman, Martinus. Beschreiving van de Stad en Baronnie Asperen. Vertoonende haare oudheid, gebouwen, hooge, en verdere regeering, ens. Utrecht, Mattheus Visch, 1745.
  18. ^ Sicking, Louis (2004), History of Warfare, Volume 23: Neptune and the Netherlands State, Economy, and War at Sea in the Renaissance, ISBN 9004138501, Page 294
  19. ^ a b Geldersche Volks-Almanak Published 1853
  20. ^ Kellman, Steven G. (2003), Switching Languages: Translingual Writers Reflect on Their Craft, University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803227477, Page 10
  21. ^ "". Retrieved 2008-10-16.  
  22. ^ Kok, Jacobus (1791). "Pier Gerlofs Donia". Vaderlandsch Woordenboek. 24 (P–R). Amsterdam: Johannes Allart. pp. 17–21.  
  23. ^ Fries Scheepvaart Museum, Object number 1992-257
  24. ^ Kalma, J.J. (1970). (ed.) de Tille. ed. Grote Pier Van Kimswerd. Netherlands. pp. 50. ISBN 90-7001-013-5.  
  25. ^ Kok, Jacobus (1791). "Pier Gerlofs Donia". Vaderlandsch Woordenboek. 24 (P–R). Amsterdam: Johannes Allart. pp. 17–21.  
  26. ^ Kok, Jacobus (1791). "Pier Gerlofs Donia". Vaderlandsch Woordenboek. 24 (P–R). Amsterdam: Johannes Allart. pp. 21.  
  27. ^ "Speurtocht naar het zwaard van Grutte Pier". Retrieved 2008-10-19.  (Dutch)
  28. ^ "Grote Pier (Grutte Pier)" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2009-06-07.  
  29. ^ " - Bezienswaardigheden". Retrieved 2008-10-13.   (Dutch)
  30. ^ Foreign Quarterly Review, Language and Literature of Friesland, page 617 Tjesck Moars See Aengste Pub 1829 Harvard University v.3 (1828–29)
  31. ^ "Grutte Pier". Fryslân Marketing. Retrieved 2008-10-19.   (Dutch)
  32. ^ (Dutch)
  33. ^ "Floris" De man van Gent (1969) from IMDB
  34. ^ RC Greate Pier Leeuwarden history (Dutch)
  35. ^ (Dutch)

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Butter, rye-bread, and young cheese: whoever cannot say that is not a true Frisian.

Pier Gerlofs Donia (1480? - 28 October 1520) was a Frisian warrior, pirate, freedom fighter and folk hero. He is most known by his Frisian nickname "Grutte Pier" (in the old Frisian spelling "Greate Pier"), or by his Dutch aliases of "Grote Pier" and "Lange Pier".


  • Bûter, brea en griene tsiis: wa't dat net sizze ken, is gjin oprjochte Frys.
    • Translation: Butter, bread, and green cheese: whoever cannot say that is not a true Frisian.
    • According to legend, Pier forced his captives to repeat this shibboleth to distinguish Frisians from Dutch and Low Germans.
  • "De biezem yn'e mêst," sei Grutte Pier "wy sille de Sudersee skjinfeie!"
    • Translation: The Hollanders are like dunes, Donia said, We shall clean the Southern Seas from them!
  • Nae Myn Heer ta
    • Translation: To my Lord.
    • After an old enemy of Pier Gerlofs asked him where he'd want to go in afterlife, he anwered that he wanted to go to God.

About Pier Gerlofs Donia

  • This man was a real-life Goliath; sadly, there was no David who could stand up against him!
    • Count of Nychlenborch, a former enemy

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

Forums: Index > Watercooler > Pier Gerlofs Donia descendants and ancestors?

Who are the ancestors of the legendary Frisian warrior, warlord, freedom fighter and folk hero Pier Gerlofs Donia (1480-1520)? Where do they live nowadays? I heard some live in the Netherlands, others live in the US. I know he had a daughter and a son, both of whom reached adulthood and where raised by either his sister or his mother. What happened to them, who where there decendents and were do these decendents live? 11 sep 2009 14:40 user:Pierius Magnus (Overleg | bijdragen)



Generatie: 1

  • Pier Gerlofs Donia geb. 1480; ovl. 28 okt 1520, Sneek(Friesland).
  • Tyedt Gerlofs Donia geb. 1475.
  • Sybren Gerlofs Donia ovl. na 1537.
  • Abbe Gerlofs Donia ovl. na 1555.

Generatie: 2

Gerlof Piers Donia geb. 1448; ovl. na 1510.

Gerlof getr. Fokel Sybrants Bonga 1470. Fokel (dochter van Sybrant Doytthies Bonga en Wilsck Idsarts Douma) geb. 1450; ovl. 1525, Bolsward(Friesland). [Gezinsblad]

Fokel Sybrants Bonga geb. 1450; ovl. 1525, Bolsward(Friesland).

Generatie: 3

Sybrant Doytthies Bonga geb. 1418.

Sybrant getr. Wilsck Idsarts Douma Wilsck (dochter van Idsert Janckes van Douwema en Gaets Foppes Popma) geb. 1430. [Gezinsblad]


  • Fokel Sybrants Bonga geb. 1450; ovl. 1525, Bolsward(Friesland).
  • Popck Sybrants Bonga

Generatie: 4

Idsert Janckes van Douwema geb. 1404.

Idsert getr. Gaets Foppes Popma Gaets (dochter van Foppe Popma en Wilsck Gerbranda) geb. 1408. [Gezinsblad]

Gaets Foppes Popma geb. 1408.


  • Wilsck Idsarts Douma geb. 1430.
  • Jancko van Douwama

Generatie: 5

  • Jancko Douwes van Douwema geb. 1383; ovl. 1476, Irnsum(Friesland).

Jancko getr. Eets Douwes Harinxma thoe Heeg van Donia 1450, Langweer(Friesland). Eets (dochter van Douwe Haringhs Harinxma thoe Heeg van Donia en Rixt Hilles Bonninga) geb. 1387; ovl. 1476. [Gezinsblad]


    • Idsert Janckes van Douwema geb. 1404.
    • Ulcke van Douwama
    • Foppe Popma geb. 1382.
  • Foppe getr. Wilsck Gerbranda Wilsck geb. 1380. [Gezinsblad]


    • Gaets Foppes Popma geb. 1408.

Generatie: 6

  • Douwe Douwema(Ockama) geb. 1351. getr. Foek Fockema Foek (dochter van Jancko Fockema en Beyck NN) geb. 1355, Langweer(Friesland). [Gezinsblad]


    • Jancko Douwes van Douwema geb. 1383; ovl. 1476, Irnsum(Friesland).
    • Douwe Haringhs Harinxma thoe Heeg van Donia geb. 1355.
  • Douwe getr. Rixt Hilles Bonninga 1454. Rixt (dochter van Hilles Lous Bonninga en Wybesdr Minnema) geb. 1359. [Gezinsblad]


  • Eets Douwes Harinxma thoe Heeg van Donia geb. 1387; ovl. 1476.
  • Trijn van Harinxma
  • Lisck van Harinxma
  • Ysck van Harinxma
  • Bouck van Harinxma
  • Edzart van Harinxma

Generatie: 7

Ocke Gerritsma


  • Douwe Douwema(Ockama) geb. 1351.
  • Jancko Fockema getr. Beyck NN [Gezinsblad]


    • Foek Fockema geb. 1355, Langweer(Friesland).
    • Haringh Donia geb. 1323; ovl. 1398.

Haringh getr. Jelck NN Jelck geb. 1327. [Gezinsblad]


      • Douwe Haringhs Harinxma thoe Heeg van Donia geb. 1355.
      • Hotze van Harinxma
      • Epe van Harinxma
      • Yme van Harinxma
      • Agge van Harinxma
      • Sierck van Harinxma


Pier married Rintsje Syrtsema and they had two children, a son named Gerlof and a daughter named Wobbel, who were born around 1510. Pier died in 1520, and in 1525, Pier's mother appointed in her will Pier's brother, Sybren, as guardian of Pier's children, who still were minors.[3][5] Pier and Pier's brother-in-law Ane Pijbes (husband of Tijdt Gerlofs), were partners in the farming estate of Meyllemastate in Kimswerd.

of *Tyedt Gerlofs Donia geb. 1475.(sister of fairy tail Gerlof Piers DONIA

  • this is the most actual known descendant of the father of Lange Pier: 1 Johannes Christiaan MEIJER, geboren op 07-07-1953 te Rotterdam, zoon van Harmen MEIJER (zie 2) en NN (zie 3).

see: kwartierstaat=pedigree

36882 Gerlof Piers DONIA, geboren 1454 te Kimswerd is the son of Pier Gerlofs Donia (grandfather of the fairy tail Gerlof Piers DONIA ). Gehuwd met Fokel Sybrants BONGA, geboren 1454, overleden op 01-02-1525, dochter van Sybrant Doytthies BONGA en Wilsk Idserts DOUMA.Uit dit huwelijk:

  • 107 Teydt Gerlofs DONIA (is the sister of fairy tail Gerlof Piers DONIA, geboren 1490 te Kimswerd, dochter van Gerlof Piers DONIA(the father of the fairy tail Gerlof Piers DONIA (zie 108) en Fokel Sybrants BONGA (zie 61).

Gehuwd met Anne PYBES (zie 473). Uit dit huwelijk:

  • 1. Gerlof AENES, geboren 1519 te Kimswerd, zoon van Anne PYBES (zie 473) en Teydt Gerlofs DONIA

Gehuwd met Taecke; Uit dit huwelijk:

  • 10 Taecke.

Gehuwd met Gerlof AENES; Uit dit huwelijk:

  • Romke GERLOFS (zie 159).
  • 159 Romke GERLOFS, geboren 1555 te Hichtum, overleden 1618 te Hichtum, zoon van Gerlof AENES (zie 19) en Taecke (zie 10).

Gehuwd met Lisbeth SCHELTIS (zie 510).Uit dit huwelijk:

  • 1. Lijsbeth ROMKES (zie 504).

504 Lijsbeth ROMKES, geboren 1605, dochter van Romke GERLOFS (zie 159) en Lisbeth SCHELTIS (zie 510). Gehuwd 1625 met Sijoerdt DOUWES (zie 126).Uit dit huwelijk: 1 kind.

  • 126 Sijoerdt DOUWES, geboren 1605.

Gehuwd 1625 met Lijsbeth ROMKES (zie 504).Uit dit huwelijk:

  1.  Douwe SJOERD (zie 525).
  • 526 Sjoek SJOERDS, overleden op 31-07-1806 te Anjum, zoon van Sjoerd GERHARDUS (zie 158) en Sjouken SNOEKS (zie 535).
  • 535 Sjouken SNOEKS, dochter van Sjouk SAPES (zie 509) en Jisk SIJBRENS (zie 522).

Gehuwd op 20-05-1781 te Anjum met Sjoerd GERHARDUS, 24 jaar oud (zie 158).

  • 158 Sjoerd GERHARDUS, geboren op 09-01-1757 te Anjum, zoon van Gerardus SJOERDS (zie 527) en Grietje SIJDSES (zie 523).

Gehuwd op 24-jarige leeftijd op 20-05-1781 te Anjum met Sjouken SNOEKS (zie 535). Uit dit huwelijk:

  1.  Gerardus Sjoerds de JONG (zie 269).

  2.  Saape SJOERDS (zie 528).

  3.  Sjoek SJOERDS (zie 526).

You can find more at

  • and if you want to know more, you can find all at Google ! --Bergsmit 21:11, September 11, 2009 (UTC)

This article uses material from the "Forum:Pier Gerlofs Donia descendants and ancestors?" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Painting of Donia fighting for the freedom of his people. The painting is called: "De dapperheid van Grote Pier, anno 1516,", which means: "Bravery of Greate Pier in the year 1516".]]

Pier Gerlofs Donia, 1480 - 1520. He fought for the independence of Friesland (which is now part of the Netherlands). He was an enormous man and was said to be well over 7 feet tall. Donia was also known as Grutte Pier, which means "Big Lad", in Frisian language, or Grote Pier, which means the same in Dutch language. He also was a pirate. This great man fought against the people from Holland, Germany, and the Burgundians. In his biggest battle at sea he captured 28 ships, and he killed all 500 men who had been taken prisoner. "Big Lad" was then called the Cross of the Dutchman.

According to legend, Pier forced his captives to repeat a shibboleth to show which people were Frisians and who were Dutch and Low Germans:

Bûter, brea en griene tsiis: wa't dat net sizze kin, is gjin oprjochte Fries.

Or, in English translation:

Butter, rye-bread, and young cheese: whoever cannot say that is not a true Frisian.

Those prisoners who could not answer this in proper Frisian had their heads cut off by Donia himself. Pier was also noted for his ability to behead several people with a single blow. This meant he could kill many enemies at the same time during battle, and gave him an excellent advantage over his opponents. His famous fighting skills proved their worth in many battles.

Despite his many successes, Pier could not defeat the Burgundian/Hapsburg armies. He retired disillusioned in 1519. He died peacefully in bed in the Frisian town of Sneek on October 28 in the year 1520. His last words were spoken to his life-time enemy, the count of Nychlenborch. He was asked by the count were he wanted to go after he died, to which Pier replied "Nea myn Heer ta" ("To my Lord"). He then passed away. After the Giant of Kimswerd (another nickname) died, Friesland never again earned its freedom. It has remained a province of the Netherlands.

He was the uncle of the warrior Wijerd Jelckama.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address