March 22, 1621

On March 22, 1621, Hugo Grotius (Also known as Hugo de Groot) was being held in prison in the Lowevenstein castle in the Netherlands. In 1618, he had been sentenced to life imprisonment for his heretical religious beliefs. On March 22, 1621, a plan was hatched with the help of his wife, Maria van Reigersbergen, and their maid, Elsie van Houwening, to sneak Hugo out of the castle. At that time, the rich and influential were not kept in the common cells with the drunks, murderers, and thieves. They had their suites where their wives and servants would live with them, and had many of the comforts of home, such as beds, books, and wine. Grotius would regularly have books delivered and taken away in a big wooden chest, and Grotius, Reigersbergen and Houwening noticed that his guards, over the three years of his imprisonment had become lackadaisical in their examination of the chest. They came up with a plan to sneak Grotius out in the chest. On March 22, 1621, they put their plan in action and had Grotius climb in the chest and had it carried out, claiming it was filled with books. The guards didn’t even check. Grotius was able to escape to Antwerp with the help of friends and eventually make his way to Paris, France, where his family joined him and he found acceptance for his beliefs and intelligence. A nerd used his love of books and powers of observation to escape from prison. Just goes to show that the written word can be more powerful than prison bars, if correctly applied.

About Joel Byers

Born in North Georgia and educated at some very fine public institutions. Real education started after graduating from college and then getting married and raising two boys. Has the ability to see the funny and absurd in most things and will always remark on it, even if it means getting the stink-eye from his victims.
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