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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.

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