Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mr. Van Dongen on the situation at Antwerp in the 16th and 17th Centuries

Mr. Van Dongen's notes in the rear of his paper about Witte de With make interesting reading in themselves. He tells the story in one note about the unfortunate situation of Antwerp. In the early 1600's, trade in Antwerp suffered, while the northern provinces in the Spanish Netherlands prospered. Earlier, Antwerp had been a prosperous seaport, much as Amsterdam was. The north effectively could blockade Antwerp, as access from Antwerp to the sea was by way of the Scheldt estuary. Antwerp also had the experience of being taken by Spanish troops in 1576, and 6,000 of the population were killed. Later, prior to the Armada campaign, the Duke of Parma, Alessandro Farnese had occupied the city and caused further disruption (from 1584 until 1585). Part of the Duke's program was to force all Protestants to leave the city. The deteriorating situation at Antwerp caused many people to flee. Many moved to the United Provinces, the seven northern provinces of the Spanish Netherlands that were in rebellion against Spain. Assets from Flanders helped to finance the newly formed United East Indies Company (the VOC). Antwerp did not regain unrestricted access to the sea until 1839! Sources:
  1. Antoine Francois van Dongen, "Making Waves": the life and times of Admiral Witte de With (1599-1658), 2005

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