Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Blogging, when no one knows you are there I keep on blogging about what I think is "good stuff", despite the fact that very few people even know that I am here, and what I am doing. My goal is to post information that I would have been really excited to find, before I got access to the Nationaal Archief, in Den Haag. My initial package was actually from Rick van Velden, in his role at "The Missing Link". The most exciting piece was this list, dated 26 February 1652, from the Rotterdam Admiralty. This was a revelation, as the document clearly stated that the dimensions were given in Maas feet, consisting of 12 inches per foot. The usual way of measuring 17th Century Dutch ships was the Amsterdam foot, divided into 11 inches per foot. The consequence of the Maas foot revelation was that many, if not all, of the traditional dimensions for Rotterdam ships in 1652 were misunderstood. While the is usually listed with the following dimensions:

  • Length: 132 feet
  • Beam: 32 feet
  • Hold: 13-1/2 feet The reality is that these are Maas feet. The dimensions, in Amsterdam feet, are something like:

  • Length: 144 feet
  • Beam: 35 feet
  • Hold: 14 feet-8 inches An Amsterdam foot was about 283.1 mm while a Maas foot was about 313.9 mm (According to The catalogue of the Dutch Navy Model Collection) The next package was journals. There is one from Witte de With, in 1646. Another is Jan Evertsen's, from 1652-1653. Another is Pieter Florissen's, from a similar period. I also have some journals written by Isaak Sweers from 1650 to 1652. He had been with Johan van Galen, in the Mediterranean Sea, operating against the North African pirates. After that, I received, on microfilm, a series of documents entitled "Staet van Oorloge te water", each one for a different year. I have the documents for 1628, 1629, 1631, 1633, and 1654. The 1654 document is a classic, as this formed the basis for Vreugdenhil's list from 1938, published by the Society for Nautical Research. Eventually, I contacted Jan Glete, after I had seen his reference to the "Directies ter Equipering van Oorlogschepen, 1631-1657". Prof. Glete very kindly sent me copies of his notes from 20 years ago, from the Nationaal Archief. I asked if Rick van Velden could find them. He did, over a period of time. There were a few things he was not able to locate. However, there were also a few manuscripts that he found that Jan Glete had not seen. This fall, I received two more copies of "Staet van Oorlog te Water" for 1654 and 1633. The 1633 manuscript has a cover page in a very fine hand, calling itself: "Staet van Oorlogh te Water voor den Jare 1633". This is probably the most readable page of all those I have received.

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