Friday, January 15, 2010

Is there a key to the ships in the Battle of Livorno drawing?

I use the Battle of Livorno drawing as my desktop image on one computer. This is the classic drawing by Willem van de Velde de Oude that shows the stern of the Maan, presumably capturing the English Leopard in the battle. The stern of the Witte Oliphant, a 34-gun hired ship, is visible to the left, somewhat closer. I have wondered if there is a key to the ships in the drawing that identifies them.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Jaarsveld and Vrede

Two large ships were built in 1650, right before the Vrijheid was built. Lists from 1652 give the Jaarsveld and Vrede very similar dimensions. The Vrede may have been slightly larger. We really don't know how accurate the dimensions listed for the Jaarsveld were: 130ft x 32ft x 13ft x 7ft. The Vrede is listed in later lists as 131-1/2ft x 32-1/2ft x 13-1/2ft x 7ft. The Jaarsveld is listed as carrying: 4-24pdr, 22-12pdr, 16-8pdr, and 2-6pdr guns. In 1652, the Vrede was listed as carrying: 4-24pdr, 22-12pdr, 14-8pdr, and 4-6pdr guns. The crew size listed for the Jaarsveld, 150 men, seems like a nominal number, rather than an exact figure. We actually have what seem to be real figures for the Vrede, at least in 1653. Even on 16 November 1652, the crew was listed as 162 men, which seems like a real crew size, not a nominal number. The Jaarsveld came to a premature end on an uncharted rock near Livorno (Leghorn), but the Vrede was in service up to about 1667.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The "Three Days Battle"

The Three Days Battle (more prominently known as the Battle of Portland to the English-speaking peoples) was a hard-fought action between the main English fleet and the main Dutch fleet, which was protecting a large convoy. The battle was fought from 28 February to 2 March 1653 (new style dates). None of the accounts that are known have a fleet list for the Dutch. Presumably, the records were destroyed in the fire at the Ministry of Marine in 1844. Dr. Ballhausen made an attempt to reconstruct the fleet list and organization in his book, but I have little faith in it. I have thought that we could take the Dutch fleet list and organization from Johan Evertsen's journal from late 1652 and derive the fleet list for the Three Days Battle. We have information about what ships were absent and have information about the Zeeland ships that survived the battle. There is also the account in the book Onstelde-Zee that gives some accurate information, including ship names. Our only hope is that some important documents are in private hands and just unknown, but are preserved.

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