The Synod of Dordt met in the city of Dordrecht, in a building called the Kloveniersdoelen.

The city

Two other cities were considered as possible locations for the synod: The Hague (the national capital) and Utrecht. Utrecht was ruled out because it was “a stronghold of Remonstrants.”1 On November 20, 1617, the national government decided that the synod should meet in Dordrecht.2 This city had been the site of a significant provincial synod in 1574, and of the first national synod in 1578. More importantly, the city was considered safe. It was an island city with walled gates, so entry could be monitored. Some Arminians lived there, but most ministers and citizens opposed Arminianism. Civil unrest in Dordrecht was unlikely.

Two consequences of choosing Dordrecht were that the city had a brief economic boom and that many citizens were asked to open their homes to house delegates.

The building

The city decided to house the synod in the Kloveniersdoelen, located on the Doelstraat. The local militia used this building for meetings, practice, and ammunition storage. The building was named after the kind of gun that the militia used, and was the largest civil building in the city.3 The building was destroyed in 1857 to make way for a new prison. Currently, the site is the location of the hall of justice. A plaque is attached to the outside wall of the modern building identifying it as the site at which the synod met.

The synod met in the second story of the building. The paintings indicate that this second story had large windows, and was tall enough that the upper clerestory windows could let light in. Within the building were at least two other smaller rooms, one of which was used for committee meetings and another the place where the Remonstrants could be when they were sent out from the sessions of synod. The tower (left, in the picture above) contained a room in which the delegates could relax when not in session. Some delegates even held evening dinner parties in this room.

The synod met during the late fall, winter, and early spring. To ward off chill, a fire was always burning on the hearth, and each delegate had his own foot warmer.

1 Fred van Lieburg, The Synod of Dordrecht 1618-1619, transl. Dick Swier (Dordrecht: Stichting Historisch Platform Dordrecht, 2017), 11.

2 Donald Sinnema, Christian Moser and Herman J. Selderhuis, eds., Acta et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618-1619), vol. I: Acta of the Synod of Dordt (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), XXIV.

3, accessed Nov. 5, 2018.