When you have just crossed the Afsluitdijk, you find yourself in Kimswerd, the first village on the Frisian side. Along the wayside you are informed that you can relive the notorious tale of their local hero Grote Pier. Pier Gerlofs Donia was considered the Goliath of his day. He saw himself as the Count of Friesland, born in 1480, and had made his fortune as a farmer. He supported the rule of the powerful Count of Gelderland, as opposed to the Count of Holland, also sovereign of Saxony. Whose soldiers had laid waste to his farm. This had far-reaching consequences for our town. The Gelderland ruler virtually gave him licence to invade Holland, ransacking and hijacking, thus weakening the enemy. That is the way things worked in the Middle Ages. Are things any different nowadays? Alkmaar was the worse for it. As a result of the ‘Cheese and Bread people revolt’ the town was weakened and its razed city gates and city walls had left it an open town. It could not be defended against Grote Pier and his ‘Black Hope’, savages from Arum. In 1517 he attacked the town and systematically laid waste to everything, for seven long days. Upon leaving he torches and sets fire to a major part of the town. Most of the houses are still made of wood. Hundreds of houses and a flour mill near the Ritsevoort are destroyed. Part of the important old Alkmaar city archives was lost to sheer vandalism. The mayor’s room held so much torn-up paper that it came up to halfway people’s calves. It must have crossed the mind of the new sovereign Karel V that such an indefensible town is not conducive to tax-yields. Shortly after its ransacking Alkmaar was given renewed permission to reinforce itself. It took until round 1551 before the work was finished.