||[Oct. 15th, 2010|09:11 am]
This is Dulle Griet (Mad Meg), the city of Ghent's early 15th century supergun. My sources differ as to whether she ever spoke in anger. Wikipedia says she was employed at the siege of Oudenarde (1452), captured by the citizens of that town when the siege was lifted- and only returned to Ghent a century later- by which time she was nothing more than a very heavy mantlepiece ornament. A bombard- that may be Dulle Griet- is spoken of in Froissart's Chronicles.
They had also, the more to alarm the garrison, fired a bombard of a very great size, which was fifty feet in length, and shot stones of an immense weight. When they fired off this bombard, it might be heard five leagues off in the day-time, and ten at night. The report of it was so loud, that it seemed as if all the devils in hell had broken loose.
Dulle Griet is named for a figure in Flemish folklore- a crazy woman who leads her troops of enraged housewives against the gates of hell- a feminine version of Tom O'Bedlam. Pieter Breughel painted a picture of Dulle Griet- and she features as a character in Caryl Churchill's play Top Girls.
In recent years the mouth of the cannon has been stopped with glass to prevent homeless people from sleeping inside her.