Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The Dutch fleet in 1653 I just saw something that conflicted with other information that I have about the Dutch fleet in 1653. The July 1653 list, written after the Battle of the Gabbard, says that the one vessel belonging to the Rotterdam Chamber of the VOC was named David en Goliad. However, in my Dutch Captains list from November 25, 2001, the ship commanded by Jan Adriaenszoon van der Werff was said to be the Nassau of 36 guns. Jan Adriaenszoon van der Werff seems definitely to have commanded a ship belonging to the Rotterdam Chamber of the VOC. The reference is The First Dutch War, Vol. IV, page 323, Captain van den Werff set sail to join Witte de With, at the rendezvous. The date was April 7, 1653. The reference for the name Nassau originates from what Michael Robinson wrote in The Paintings of the Willem Van De Veldes, Vol. I, page 17. I tend to be very sceptical about that sort of information, as it generally originated from either Carl Ballhausen or else from Pieter Haverkorn van Rijswijk, in commentary about Willem van de Velde, the Elder in the Oud Holland series. I keep wanting to think well of Ballhausen's work, but there are too many reasons to disregard much of his work. The main problem is that his references do not support the text. I have done like R. C. Anderson did, and have looked at some of what Ballhausen referenced in his footnotes. I'm sad to say that what I have seen has the flavor of a faked PhD thesis. In defense of Dr. Ballhausen, R. C. Anderson found Ballhausen's work on the First Anglo-Dutch War in the Mediterranean to be the definitive source. I am also dependent on Ballhausen, as he has the only published list for Dutch ships at the Battle of Dover in May 1652. I don't like using that list, as every list he compiled, later in the book, is wrong, at least in some degree. The only list that he got right was that for Jacob Wassenaer's operation to Danzig in 1656. That list, he cribbed from Brandt's book on De Ruyter, from 1687. I suspect that Brandt's list originated from that published in the Hollandsche Mercurius for 1656, which I have seen. I have acquired a general scepticism about the Hollandsche Mercurius, although all too often, we must rely upon it as the only available source. My scepticism is fueled by having compared documents from the Nationaal Archief, in the Hague, with what was published in the Hollandsche Mercurius. I can find obvious mistakes that have never been corrected in anything published to date. I have discussed some of that already, with regard to the Amsterdam Directors' ships, in particular.

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