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Monday, December 31, 2007

The Amsterdam ships Jaarsveld and Vrede

The information from 1652 to 1654 about the two large Amsterdam ships built in 1650 and 1651 seem to indicate that they were built to the same Charter. These were the Vrede, built in 1650, and the Jaarsveld, built in 1651. The Jaarsveld wrecked on an uncharted rock near Livorno in late January 1653. The published dimensions for the Vrede seem to be incorrect. Both ships apparently were 130ft long and carried 44 guns in 1653. Vrijheid, also built in 1651, was a considerably larger ship, being 134ft long. By May of 1653, the Vrijheid had its armament increased to 50 guns. All three of these ships still had a main battery of 12pdr guns with a few larger.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The ship Alkmaar

Dutch ships often had multiple versions of their names. The Alkmaar, commanded by Jan Warnaertsz Capelman, was apparently also called the Wapen van Alkmaar. That ship, commanded by that captain, apparently took part in the operation in 1645 to force a large fleet of merchant ships into the Sound without paying the toll to the Danes. That same ship was captured by the English in June 1652. I suspect that this was the ship built to the 116ft dimensions: 116ft x 26-1/2ft x 10ft x 6-1/4ft. The 26 guns might have included something like this: 4-12pdr, 14-8pdr, 4-6pdr, and 4-4pdr guns. I base that estimate on what was carried by a similar ship.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wild speculation

Given that I don't have access to all the information that might be available, I think that until proven otherwise, information that might be correct can be useful. If you require proof that meets legal standards, with multiple sources as corroboration, then I will have nothing, as for much of what I have, I would never have that many sources or the concrete proof of all the facts. One case in point is where I seem to have dimensions for hired ships in the First Anglo-Dutch War. I am going back and printing ship data and lists that I have received since early in the year. I am doing that because I am not sure when I will be able to acquire new information and having hard copy is much more convenient than needing a computer to view image files. An example of dimensions for a hired ship is the Profeet Samuel. I have a list of ships from early 1653 that gives dimensions for a ship named Profeet Samuel. Is that the ship that Reijnst Cornelisz Sevenhuijsen commanded at the Battle of the Gabbard? I don't know, but it might be. Another ship names that are familiar and on the same page are the Jonas and the Engel Gabriel. I just happen to know that the dimensions given for those ships on the page match the dimensions for the ships that were hired by the Admiralty of Amsterdam and served with the fleet in 1653. My working hypothesis is that the Profeet Samuel was the ship hired, as well, until I learn otherwise.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Campbell's Lives of the British Admirals

If you have not checked Google Books lately, you need to, as there is much more available, including some rare books. I just downloaded John Campbell's Lives of the British Admirals:: Containing a New and Accurate Naval History, from 1785. This is a classic work that Frank Fox had recommended to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Three Days Battle

One thing that I really would like to have is a list of the Dutch ships and the fleet organization for the Three Days Battle (the Battle of Portland), from 28 February to 2 March 1653. I have an idea that there were quite a few different ships involved. I know for a fact that Jan Duijm's ship, the Salamander, was there, because the Salamander towed Michiel De Ruijter's ship, the Lam, for the last two days of the battle and until they returned to port. Right now, about all I can do is go through the published literature and write down captains' names and then supply the information that I know. You would think that some sort of list must have supplied, somewhere at the Nationaal Archief in The Hague.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Grote Sint Lucas

I have wanted to dismiss the mention of the Grote Sint Lucas, in the Hollandsche Mercurius and the Onstelde-Zee, as a mistake. The problem is, everything else that I have been able to check, from the Onstelde-Zee, has been correct. That makes me want to take the Grote Sint Lucas seriously. Supposedly, the Grote Sint Lucas (28 guns), was the ship commanded by Sipke Fockes, in the Battle of Portland (or the Three Days Battle). The Grote Sint Lucas was supposed to have been an Amsterdam Directors' ship, presumably. The ship was taken by the English and taken into Portsmouth on 12 March 1653. Other ships taken into Portsmouth were the Swarte Reiger, commanded by Christoffel Juriaenszoon, the Vogelstruijs, and the Liefde. The Gulden Haan (36 guns) was taken into Dover.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dutch warships in the mid-17th Century

Probably the most troubling feature of doing research about Dutch warships and the navy in the 1651 to 1654 period is that informaation is likely to be inexact and often wrong. What Tromp, other senior officers, such as Witte de With and Johan Evertsen, wrote is more likely to reflect commonly held beliefs, rather than accurate information. The problem is complicated by there being so many ships with the same names. Another issue is that some ships were referred to by alternate names, often nicknames or shorted versions of the name. In the 1654 book Onstelde-Zee, Abraham van Campen's Amsterdam Directors' ship is referred to as the Poort van Troijen. A letter from Johan Evertsen, in August 1652, also calls the ship Poort van Trojen, although every other source called the ship Arke Troijane (or some variation of that spelling, with a "c" and an "h"). I vary on how much evidence that I have before I reach a conclusion. At times, when I have something that is just an indication, I am strongly motivated to go with it, as it answers some open question. I suspect that even if we had a time machine and could go back and collect information, we would still have trouble sorting out truth, as the people back then operated differently than we do now, where we demand exact answers.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My book project

I just spoke with Frank Fox (author of Great Ships: the Battlefleet of King Charles II and A Distant Storm: the Four Days' Battle of 1666) about my book project. I have been doing research and some writing for a book about the Dutch fleet and warships in the First Anglo-Dutch Wars. Since I am a native English speaker, the book will be in English. Frank Fox has long been encouraging me to get an early publication of a book, not waiting until I and all the information that can be had. This would be independent of anything published in Dutch, which I hope will not be too long in the future. Everything in Dutch that covers the period of 1648 to 1654 seems to be high-level and does not include fleet lists and ship information. I like to think that I have more to offer than just publishing information, but have some insights to offer, as well.

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