Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Flemish Influence on the Pilgrims – Part 5: The Flemish Influence on the American Holiday of Thanksgiving

The "Deliverance" of Leiden by the Flemish-led Sea Beggars, October 3, 1574.

Thanksgiving is arguably the most American of holidays. Those of us with a secular bent look at it as not only a chance to feast on turkey and the fixings, but to reconnect with family. Those of us with a Christian bent fall to our knees in thanks to God for all that we have been blessed with. Regardless of emphasis, it is one holiday that transcends nearly every division in American society.[i]

Although it needs no retelling, the story goes that after a bountiful harvest in the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, in early October, invited 90 of the Wampanoag Indians nearby to join them for a three day feast of Thanksgiving to God. We are taught that the holiday was spontaneous, an outpouring in a sense of the religious fervor the Pilgrims
[ii] felt and a mark of the goodwill between Native Americans and the Europeans. [iii]

Whether religious or not, all Americans are taught from childhood that the holiday is a direct legacy of the Pilgrims’ survival of their first year in America. Since approximately 35 million of the 311 million Americans have an ancestor who was at this event
[iv], it stands to reason that this remains the prevailing view of the origins of our holiday.

Over the past several years, historians have deduced that the Pilgrims adopted not only the language but also the habits and cultural influences picked up from their 11 year stay at Leiden, in the Netherlands. Leiden (or, as the Anglo-Saxon community spelled it, Leyden) was where in fact half of their church (and their beloved pastor, John Robinson) remained after 1620. The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving feast, in fact, had remarkable echoes and similarities to the celebration instituted in Leiden after the repulse of a Spanish siege in the year 1574.

One of today’s premier historians of the Pilgrims at Leiden is convinced that the connection between Leiden and the Pilgrims' First thanksgiving is direct:
“Inspired by Leiden's 3 October thanksgiving for the lifting of the siege of the city in 1574, the Pilgrims' festivity included prayers, feasting, military exercises, and games. In the nineteenth century the 1621 event served in the promotion of the American national holiday and became known as ‘the first thanksgiving’.”[vi]
As regular readers may suspect, the Flemings[vii] contributed to this event and the holiday we now celebrate as Thanksgiving.

A romantic depiction of the mayor of Leiden offering his arms as food to the starving inhabitants of Leiden during the siege by the Spanish in the Fall of 1574

Leiden: A Flemish City
To uncover the origins of Thanksgiving it is important that we understand the events in Leiden itself. The city of Leiden was a modest place until the mid-16th century. However, its importance to us – in our never-ending search for understanding of the Flemish contribution to the discovery and settlement of America – is central. To begin with, the bulk of the Pilgrims settling at Massachusetts in 1620 and a group of the settlers for Nieuw Nederland – the stretch of territory from Delaware to Manhattan to Albany – in 1624 had all lived in Leiden. Some of them even became citizens of the city (a difficult task). After in many cases more than a decade of living in Leiden they were thoroughly familiar with Leiden itself. The transplanting of Leiden’s customs to the New World, then, was a natural outcome.

As the fighting worsened between the Sea Beggars and the Spanish, the influx of Flemings into Leiden in the early 1570s became so large that by 1575 the locals were a minority of the population. Within 10 years (1586) refugees from the Southern Netherlands (including Flemings and Walloons) made up more than 85% of the population.
[viii] Thus a population that had been 10,000 in 1574 and no more than 12,000 in 1581 had doubled to 20,000 by 1600.[ix] By 1622, the year after the first Thanksgiving, the city had nearly doubled again, to 44,745 souls, of which 30,000 (67%) were not native.[x] Overwhelmingly, Leiden was a cosmopolitan place where Flemings constituted the largest ethnic bloc. As such, they literally and figuratively surrounded the Pilgrims in Leiden.

A modern picture of Leiden, with many buildings unchanged since the Siege of 1574.

Not all of these Flemish immigrants arrived directly from the South. Many that might superficially be labeled as English immigrants to Leiden, were in fact Anglo-Flemings. They  and their children had lived in England but retained strong ties with Flanders. For example, in 1596 a group of Flemings were warmly received at Leiden, having moved en masse from Norwich where they had attended the "Dutch" Church at St. Andrews.[xi] This church, incidentally, was the same church that John Browne, founder of the Separatists (as the Pilgrims’ branch of Christianity was then known) and his close friend John Robinson, pastor and head of the church the Pilgrims lived in and worshiped when they were in Norwich.[xii] St. Andrews in Norwich is also where the core group of the congregation came from in 1604 that became the nucleus of the Separatist Pilgrims by 1608 (when they left England for Holland).[xiii]

The Flemings in Leiden not only arrived on their own impetus but were actively enticed by the City Fathers.
[xiv] The Leiden municipality actively offered incentives for textile workers – especially those with knowledge of the New Draperies, an advanced method of creating woolen textiles that required specialized knowledge and were the hot products in Europe due to their lightness and durability.[xv] The influx of Flemings solidly turned Leiden, as one Flemish historian puts it, into a “Textile City”.[xvi]

Peter Paul Rubens - here on the far left - painted himself, his brother (next to him) Jan Wowerius (far right) and the famous Justus Lipsius, Flemish "Rector Magnificus" of Leiden in the 1615 painting "The Four Philosophers".

However, by the time the Pilgrims arrived in Leiden in 1609, Leiden had firmly acquired another status: that as the sole university town of the Dutch Republic. Since the whole of the Netherlands (what we would consider Benelux and northern bits of France) only had two universities (Leuven and Douai) before the addition of Leiden in 1575 this was quite an honor. More importantly, this was the first university open to all faiths.[xvii] Since an infrastructure for higher learning simply did not exist in the North, virtually all university teaching staff were non-native. And the overwhelming majority of these were in fact Flemings – including the head of the university, Justus Lipsius, a Catholic.[xviii]

But all of these developments – and the link of Flemings with the Pilgrims – was in the future. The story of how Leiden came to be the birthplace of our Thanksgiving as well as a university town that the Pilgrims chose to settle in is directly tied up with the origins of Thanksgiving.

A romanticized painting of the Sea Beggars in action in the North Sea

The Sea Beggars Recall that by 1570 the Duke of Alva’s hardened veterans had subdued much of the Netherlands and compelled obedience to a Catholic regime under the rule of Spain. The Revolt by the Dutch speakers appeared all but over. Yet the quartering upon the local population of the oppressive Spanish, Italian and Walloon troops cost money that Spain did not always supply. The Duke of Alva sought to resolve this and imposed a tax to pay for these troops – called a “tenth penny” – in violation of the enshrined privileges of the Low Countries[xix]. Only the States General – the parliament for the Netherlands north and south – could vote for taxes. The Dutch-speaking cities – both Catholic and Protestant – naturally rose up against this taxation without representation.

An overhead map of the Deliverance of Leiden October 3, 1574. The importance that this action played in the success of the Dutch Revolt and its historiography cannot be overstated. Likewise, its role as the genesis of the Pilgrims concept of Thanksgiving brought to America.

Earlier, the Dutch-speakers' land-based military attempts to defeat the Spaniards with armies raised in France and Germany had failed miserably. These motley assortments were crushed. The Prince of Orange, around whom the resistance had coalesced, was forced to retreat back to the safety of his German possessions. The one real sanctuary for the Dutch-speaking freedom fighters was in England, amongst the Flemish émigré communitiers in the coastal towns of southeastern England. It is from here that money was raised by the émigré Flemish Protestant church congregations.
[xx] Funded by the industriousness of Flemish textile workers – weavers, fullers, dyers, and others – they not only supported their families and built their churches, but armed their sons and sent them into the fight.[xxi] Often, this meant literally, in boats launched directly from the coast of England, to raid and disrupt the Spanish occupiers in Flanders, Brabant and Holland.[xxii]

Willem Van Der Marck, Lord of Lummen (aka "Lumey") and another Flemish commander of the Sea Beggars, as depicted in a contemporary print, after the victory of Den Brielle.

The hit and run raids launched from England’s shores by the Flemish refugees did not go unchallenged by the Spanish government. Phillip II’s ambassador to England made it clear that continued permission, let alone active official encouragement, by Queen Elizabeth and her councilors of the actions of the Flemish militant émigrés, would be considered an act of war. Unwilling to risk a direct confrontation, Elizabeth expelled the armed mariners from England’s shores in March, 1572.

Led by Flemish admirals, the Watergeuzen (Sea Beggars) sailed forth. At the top of the list of commanders was Dolhain, Adriaen van Bergues (originally from Sint-Winnoksbergen, now known as Bergues, near Dunkirk). He had created the Sea Beggars in 1570. More famous perhaps was Willem van der Marck – better known as “Lumey”, a reference to the fact that he was Lord of Lummen, a town in the province of Limburg – and Loedewijk van Boisot of Brussels. But all three, as well as numerous captains below them and the rank and file – were from the region that today we call Flanders.

A colorful print of the time showing the Sea Beggars capturing Den Brielle.

In a bold move that many considered an important psychological turning point in the Dutch Revolt, under the command of van der Marck, the Sea Beggars captured the coastal town of Den Brielle, on April 1, 1572. The unexpected success at Den Brielle inspired the people of Vlissingen (known as Flushing in English) to rise up. At least a fifth of Flushing were Flemings, a steadily percentage that increased steadily over subsequent years[xxiv] . These Dutch-speakers expelled the Walloon garrison and declared for the Prince of Orange on April 6th. Hastily reinforced by a detachment from the victors of Den Brielle, the Flemings of Flushing gave the “Dutch Revolt” a firm foothold in the Netherlands. In a short time and one by one, other cities – including Leiden[xxv] – also expelled their Spanish, Italian and Walloon garrisons and declared themselves loyal to Prince William of Orange.

Following a convention of the States General in July (1572)[xxvi], Prince William of Orange, represented by his spymaster and ambassador, the Brusselaar, Philip Marnix, Lord of St.-Aldegonde, was invested with the position of Stadtholder. The Dutch Revolt now had, thanks in large part to the leadership of the Flemish, a victory, distinct territory, and a sovereign ruler. By 1574, they also had a national anthem – the oldest in the world. – also due to the Fleming Marnix.[xxvii] It is no accident that all of these factors came together in that same year, 1574, to give us the first true Thanksgiving, in the “Dutch” city of Leiden. 

A contemporary print showing the stages of the Spanish Siege of Leiden, May - October, 1574.

The Siege of Leiden
Prompted by victories at Haarlem and elsewhere, the fearsome Spanish tercios marched onward. By May 1574 they had surrounded the south Hollands town of Leiden. The trench fighting, cannon bombardments, and sorties by both sides, presaged more modern siege warfare. By October, the population, decimated by a third through disease and fighting, was ready to capitulate. A defeat would have been a disaster. It would have weakened the resolve of all the Dutch-speaking people for independence, and perhaps caused foreign assistance to dry up, as it had in 1572 when Queen Elizabeth expelled the Sea Beggars.

Loedewijk van Boisot, the Flemish Admiral of the Sea Beggars who broke the Spanish Siege of Leiden in 1574 and inspired an official celebration of thanksgiving by the townsfolk of Leiden.

The Sea Beggars themselves, under the command of their Brussels-born Admiral, Loedewijk van Boisot, assembled a riverine flotilla for the relief of the city. Against heavy resistance they made steady progress against the Spaniards. However, the Sea Beggars found it difficult to breach the outer ring of Spanish defenses. Even worse, while fighting towards Leiden, Admiral Boisot received word that the city was ready to capitulate to the Spaniards 
[xxviii] The people were starving and any determined assault by the Spanish would likely overwhelm the city's defenders. Such was the precariousness of the situation that if Leiden fell, the Revolt itself might falter.[xxix]

Fortunately, the Dutch had a spy in the Spanish camp. She was none other than the young wife of the Spanish commander. Magdalena Moons, the daughter of an Antwerpenaar, had married the Spanish general, Francisco Valdez.
[xxx] Secretly contacted by the Sea Beggars, she agreed to convince her husband to delay his final assault on Leiden by one day. Mustering every art of seductive persuasion, Magdalena was successful. General Valdez postponed the preparations for a storming of the city’s walls for 24 hours.[xxxi]

Magdalena Moons and her husband the Spanish commander at Leiden, shortly after their marriage in Antwerp. It was thanks to this daughter of Antwerp that the Spanish delayed a final assault, permitting the Flemish-led Sea Beggars to surprise the Spanish and break the Siege of Leiden.

The Sea Beggars under their Flemish Admiral took advantage of this temporary respite to renew their attack. The suddenness and fury of their assault took the Spaniards and Walloons by surprise. The Spanish troops and their Walloon auxiliaries fled in such haste that boiling black pots of stew – called hutsepot – were still simmering when the Sea Beggars overran the Spanish camp. The reception of the Sea Beggars in Leiden was ecstatic, even though the defenders were terribly gaunt, many near death. The city authorities viewed their survival as a sign of Divine favor and declared a day of Thanksgiving. The date, October 3rd, became enshrined in Leiden history and culture as a day of feasting and of giving thanks to God for their miraculous deliverance.[xxxii]

The people of Leiden celebrating their deliverance by the Flemish-led Sea Beggars, October 3, 1574.

Leiden University Needless to say, the clamor to hear the tale resulted in a book, a ‘bestseller’ of its time
[xxxiii], about the heroic defense of Leiden – printed, of course, by a Fleming (from Antwerp).[xxxiv] Much of the focus of the book – by Jan Dousa – was on the heroic efforts of his military poet-friend (and later Secretary of the town), Jan Van Hout. A detail included in the retelling at each commemoration of the Siege of Leiden.

As a reward for the city’s stout defense, in December, 1574, Prince William of Orange granted the city a choice of either relief from taxation or the privilege of establishing a university. After consultation, the city magistrates, chose the establishment of a university. The University of Leiden was established February 8, 1575.

The University of Leiden, just a short distance away from where the English Separatists (who became the American Pilgrims) lived in Leiden and where the pastor of the Separatists' church, John Robinson, studied theology under the Fleming Johannes Polyander.

Leiden became the first university in the Northern Netherlands – and the first Protestant university dedicated to a humanist education. Leuven, north of Brussels, and Douai, further south, emphasized an officially Catholic Low Countries education. Leiden University was to both influence and be influenced by the city. Leiden University attracted Catholics and Protestants from all around Europe.[xxxv] With the city, the university became a symbol of Leiden’s successful resistance to political and religious intolerance. For, despite its strong association with Protestantism (and especially Calvinism), the university was (as the best today are as well) agnostic to the beliefs of its teaching staff.

Prince William of Orange ("The Silent") in a 1555 painting. Heavily surrounded by numerous Flemish advisors, it was for Orange and freedom that the Dutch-speakers fought.

For starters, the primate of the university was Justus Lipsius, a Catholic Fleming
[xxxvi] who was appointed a professor of history. Nor was Lipsius alone. The university staff were overwhelmingly Flemings. A partial list of Flemish instructors at Leiden includes Franciscus Raphelengius (son-in-law of the printer Christoffel Plantin of Antwerp), Lambertus Barlaeus, Daniel Heinsius, Bonaventura Vulcanius, Antonius Walaeus, A. Damman, Arnoldus Geulincx, Antonius Thysius, Johan Bollius, Jeremias Bastingius, Petrus Bertius, Dominicus Baudius, Joost van Meenen, Franciscus Gomarus, and Johannes II Polyander van Kerckhoven.[xxxvii] Since at its largest during those first forty years, the student body never even reached 300 students at any one time, the impact and involvement of the faculty with students was close and personal.[xxxviii]

The University of Leiden library about the same time (1614) as John Robinson, pastor of the Separatists, was a student there. This became the largest library in Protestant Europe, and Leiden its most important university. But at the time the Pilgrims were in Leiden, annual enrollment was less than 300 students.

These happy circumstances continued until 1618-1620. During those years purges swept through the Dutch Republic and Leiden. Legions of professors lost their positions,
[xxxix] the Separatists lost their printing press and financial patron[xl], and even the supreme political leader of the Dutch Republic, Johannes Oldenbarnevelt (who had served in the Sea Beggars during the relief of Leiden), lost his life.[xli] These sweeping purges convinced many that it was time to move on. The congregation of slightly more than 100 mainly English Separatists, under the leadership of Pastor John Robinson, was among those that left Leiden in partial response to the anti-Arminian purges. The Pilgrims left the city of their 11 year sojourn with few possessions. But they moved onto the New World with strengthened faith, deepened Dutch, and strong traditions forged in Leiden.

The Arminian riots of 1618 in Leiden. Sparked by the disputes between the Fleming Gromarus and the Dutchman Arminius, these disturbances were one of the factors that compelled the Pilgrims to leave for America in 1620.

The Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving On March 1, 1586, exactly 14 years to the day after Queen Elizabeth expelled the Flemish-led Sea Beggars from England, Queen Elizabeth’s favorite courtier and her designate as Governor General over the Netherlands in their struggle against Spain, arrived in Leiden. The chief delegate for the Dutch government was Adolf van Meetkercke. A native of Brugge

[xlii], Van Meetkercke had served as the former President of the Council of Flanders.[xliii] As Queen Elizabeth's representatives approached, Van Meetkercke met the Earl of Leicester with a sweeping bow that was so low in drew the scorn of his compatriots.[xliv] Such was (and is) the importance of the deliverance of Leiden, that the Earl and his entourage were conducted to a pageant play that commemorated the Siege of Leiden in 1574.

Among the Earl of Leicester’s entourage was the English diplomat William Davison as Ambassador to the States General of the Netherlands. Assisting Davison as assistant was a young William Brewster. This same William Brewster later became (first) spiritual and surrogate father to William Bradford (Governor of the Pilgrims at Plymouth and author of the most comprehensive account of the Pilgrim’s journey) and then the author, chief propagandist and publisher of the Pilgrim’s Press at Leiden as well as an Elder of the Separatists’ Church at Leiden.

Jan Van Hout, a hero of the Siege of Leiden (whose story was printed by the Fleming Verschout) and the Town Secretary who granted permission to the Pilgrims to settle in Leiden, shortly before his death in 1609. It was likely the early connection between him and Pilgrim Elder William Brewster at the 1586 pageant celebrating the lifting of the Siege of Leiden that led the Pilgrims to relocate to Leiden.

One of the heroes of the siege, Jan Van Hout, was an author, a poet, a classicist and a close friend of the head of the university[xlv], Justus Lipsius.[xlvi]  Van Hout also acted as Town Secretary. He held that position up until his death in 1609. One of Van Hout's final acts was to grant official permission to John Robinson and his church of 100 Separatists).[xlvii]

While it is possible that Van Hout may not have remembered Brewster – whom he first met on March 1, 1586 – it seems unlikely that the Pilgrims would have officially requested permission 
(which was unnecessary) to settle in Leiden unless they hoped that by doing so to gain some advantage for their congregation. Since Brewster was not just a member of Robinson’s congregation, but also an Elder of the Church and a close confidant of William Bradford (the Governor of the colony when it reached the New World) it seems unlikely to me that this was accidental. Certainly it must have been a factor in their considerations during the year (1608) they observed an increasingly disruptive environment among their co-religionists in Amsterdam.[xlviii]

During their eleven year stay in Leiden, the Pilgrims lived directly across the street from the center of October 3rd Thanksgiving celebrations: Pieterskerk (St. Peter’s Church).
[xlix] Every October 3rd municipal authorities passed out free herring and white bread (to commemorate the first rations received from the Sea Beggars that day on 1574). Since twenty-one Pilgrim families lived surrounding the garden outside the church, ample members of the congregation over the eleven years had a chance to observe the celebrations and absorb their meaning.[l] The Pilgrim’s Separatist congregation met twice on Sunday and once on Thursday evenings – always at Robinson’s home across from Pieterskerk.[li]

Willem Pieterskerk, where the annual Thanksgiving for the Deliverance of Leiden was celebrated every October 3rd and directly around which 21 families of the Separatist church lived. John Robinson's home where the Pilgrims worshipped 3x/week - was also immediately outside Pieterskerk. From the Pieterskerk to Leiden University was a short walk.

If they had not imbibed an understanding of the Leiden Thanksgiving celebrations from daily, close proximity to Pieterskerk, nor from initial and historical personal contact with one of the central characters of the city’s defense, Jan Van Hout, the Pilgrims certainly would have learned of it through their involvement with Leiden University. The University was only a short walk (less than 5 minutes away) from Pieterskerk. Moreover, Pastor John Robinson was a student (and protégé of the Flemish Professor Johannes Polyander) at the university. William Brewster too, while not officially a teacher at the University, taught University students English as a side job.[lii]

The Flemish influence on the Pilgrims during their stay in Leiden was pervasive. Not only were the majority of the population around the Pilgrims at Leiden Flemings, but the central formative cultural experience that melded a common consciousness for the city and university was defined by Flemish emigres. The holiday of Thanksgiving here in America, while today quite different from the celebration the Pilgrim Fathers witnessed in Leiden during their stay, is unquestionably tied into that event. The Flemish influence, then, on the Pilgrim’s celebration of the first Thanksgiving in America, was direct and immediate, and a legacy that we who share a Flemish heritage, can point to with pride as one of our contributions to the settlement of America.

Norman Rockwell's depiction of an American Thanksgiving dinner, while vastly different than the custom brought over from Leiden by the Pilgrims in 1620, looks like this today for many American families.

Endnotes [i] Thanksgiving does not of course resonate well in Native American circles. In fact, the holiday itself – infused as it is by our 19th century predecessors with romantic Victorian notions that imply a Divine blessing to the subsequent European occupation of the continent – is a painful reminder to the remnants of the Wampanoag, Pequot, and other tribes of the loss of political and cultural independence. See Nathanial Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, (New York: Penguin, 2006), pp. 354-356. Incidentally, recent articles suggest that vegetarians are not enthusiastic. See Scott Bolohan, Page Four Columnist, “Thanksgiving? I’ll Take a Pass”, Chicago Tribune’s Redeye, Wednesday, November 25, 2009. [ii] Please see Jeremy Dupertius Bangs, ‘Pilgrim Fathers (act. 1620)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition, Oxford University Press, May 2007 [, accessed
5 April 2009] at for an excellent definition of exactly who the Pilgrim Fathers were. However, Dupertius’ numbers for the Flemings are dramatically understated. See Dr. J. Briels, Zuid-Nederlanders in de Republiek 1572-1630: Een Demografische en Cultuurhistorische Studie, (Sint-Niklaas: Danthe, 1985). [iii] Intentionally I use the term “European” instead of “English”. The colonists may have been predominantly English, but not exclusively so. There was at least one Fleming and one Walloon in the mix. A fact I hope to further elaborate upon in a later post. [iv] The 35 million number is found in Nathanial Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, (New York: Penguin, 2006), p. 355. The 311 million is an estimate (see John Grimond, “Counting Heads” in The Economist: The World in 2010 , November, 2009, p. 46), [v] Jeremy Dupertius Bangs in “Thanksgiving Day – A Dutch Contribution to American Culture?” in New England Ancestors Holiday 2000. Wade Cox, ed., “The Dutch Connection of the Pilgrim Fathers”, in Christian Churches of God, #264, 1998, p.4 ( and makes a connection between the first Thanksgiving and the Dutch Dankdag voor Gewas which I think is erroneous. But his connection between the Pilgrim Fathers and Annabaptism imported by Flemings is dead-on, although underdeveloped (details on why will be in a future blog posting). The official website for the Dutch festival can be found here: [vi] Jeremy Dupertius Bangs, ‘Pilgrim Fathers (act. 1620)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University Press, May 2007 [, accessed
5 April 2009] at
[vii] Technically, I should state that it is the contribution of Flemings, Brabanders, and Limburgers. But since this is a modern audience my definition is all those Dutch speakers in modern day Belgium and northern France. [viii] Dr. J. Briels, Zuid-Nederlanders in de Republiek 1572-1630: Een Demografische en Cultuurhistorische Studie, (Sint-Niklaas: Danthe, 1985), pp. 125-134. An unlabelled table on p.134 has the percentages I refer to. [ix] Per Paul Paul Hoftijzer, quoting a contemporary writing in 1588: “voor eenighe jaeren geheel dedepopuleert synde ...tegenwoordich voor de meesten part ... bewoont by vremdelingen, uyt Brabant, Vlaenderen ende andere quartieren verdreven” (having been depopulated for some years … is currently inhabited for the most part … by foreigners driven from Brabant, Flanders,and other regions).” Paul Hoftijzer, “Leiden Miracle”, p.82 online here
[x] Dr. J. Briels, Zuid-Nederlanders in de Republiek 1572-1630: Een Demografische en Cultuurhistorische Studie, (Sint-Niklaas: Danthe, 1985), “Table XXI: Immigratie in de Noordelijke Nederlanden-Samenvatting”, p. 214. Several other cities, such as Haarlem and Middelburg, also had more than 50% non natives in 1622. This has prompted Gusaaf Asaert, in De Val van Antwerpen en de Uittocht van Vlamingen en Brabanders, (Tielt: Lannoo, 2004), p.156, to call Haarlem (for example) “een half-Vlaamse stad”. [xi] "Ondertussen hield ook de inwijking vanuit Engeland aan: nog in 1596 werden Vlamingen uit Norwich door de stad 'lief-flick, minnelick ende in der vruntschappe...ontfangen...ende met het borgerschap vereert.'" Quote from a Leiden magistrate found in Dr. J. Briels, Zuid-Nederlanders in de Republiek 1572-1630: Een Demografische en Cultuurhistorische Studie, (Sint-Niklaas: Danthe, 1985) p.127. My thanks to Ms. Siska Moens of Brussel, Mr. Luc Van Braekel ( ), and Mr. Frans Vandenbosch (author of more than 30 books) for assisting me with the translation of this archaic excerpt. [xii] See Stephen S. Slaughter, “The Dutch Church at Norwich”, Congregational Historical Society, April 21, 1933, pp. 31-48, 81-96. Especially see pp. 31-32 for the connection between the “Dutch” [clearly Flemish] Church, the influx of Annabaptist theological concepts, and the direct connection between those thoughts brought over by the Flemish on Robert Browne and John Robinson. For a fascinating suggestion of an admittedly tentative link between the same Dutch Church at Norwich and Thomas Helwys, founder of the Baptist movement, see Ernest A. Kent, “Notes on the Blackfriars’ Hasll or Dutch Church, Norwich”, Norfolk Archaeology, 22 (1924–6), pp. 86–108. See especially p. 89 showing the burial tablet for Nicolai Helwys. [xiii] Timothy George, John Robinson and the English Separatist Tradition, (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1982), p.79 [xiv] Dr. J. Briels, De Zuidnederlandse Immigratie, 1572-1630, (Haarlem: Fibula van Dishoeck, 1978), p. 38. [xv] My preference for anyone looking to understand the textile industry in Flanders and its connection to the wider world during this period is to begin with the University of Toronto’s John Munro. Munro’s impressive output nicely weaves [sorry] the whole together. See for example, his “Wool and Wool-Based Textiles in the West European Economy, c.800 - 1500:
Innovations and Traditions in Textile Products, Technology, and Industrial Organisation.” 24 November 2000, WORKING PAPER no. 5 UT-ECIPA-MUNRO-00-05. On-line version: . Although riven through with a Belgicist viewpoint which minimizes the Flemish contribution, the standard work on the “New Draperies” probably still is Pirenne, Henri : "Une crise industrielle au XVIème siècle. La draperie urbaine et la "nouvelle draperie" en Flandre" in Bulletin de l'Académie
Royale de Belgique, Classe des Lettres, n°5, 1905. [xvi] Gustaaf Asaert, De Val van Antwerpen en de Uittocht van Vlamingen en Brabanders, (Tielt: Lannoo, 2004), p.146 [xvii] Gustaaf Asaert, De Val van Antwerpen en de Uittocht van Vlamingen en Brabanders, (Tielt: Lannoo, 2004), pp.148-149. [xviii] Gustaaf Asaert, De Val van Antwerpen en de Uittocht van Vlamingen en Brabanders, (Tielt: Lannoo, 2004), pp.188-192 [xix] Much could be and has been written about the privileges of both the towns and the guilds of the Low Countries in general and specifically of Flanders. Those privileges were granted to keep the guilds happy. The guilds came together in response to control quality and pricing by artisans in each locality. Nearly all these guilds rose with the expansion of the textile industry in Flanders from the 1100s on. See for translations of the agreements between the guilds and the local rulers. [xx] Queen Elizabeth’s policy toward both the refugees on her soil and their support of the Dutch Revolt was inconsistent – but at times strongly encouraged. See Andrew Pettegree, Foreign Protestant Communities in Sixteenth-Century London, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p.268. [xxi] For a good review of the Flemish émigrés in England and their contribution to the war effort at this critical juncture – and the only coherent discussion I have seen – see D.J.B. Trim, “Protestant Refugees in Elizabethan England and Confessional Conflict in France and the Netherlands, 1562-c.1610”, pp.69-73, in Randolph Vigne and Charles Littleton, eds., From Strangers to Citizens: The Integration of Immigrant Communities in Britain, Ireland and Colonial America, 1570-1750, (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2001), pp.68-79. Unfortunately, this four-page bit by Professor Trim is merely a sketch. A full book could be written on this subject. I have not been able to find any monograph on this subject but would love to see one. [xxii] The return of Flemish Protestants to Flanders in 1566 was just such a raid. [xxiii] Gustaaf Asaert, De Val van Antwerpen en de Uittocht van Vlamingen en Brabanders, (Tielt: Lannoo, 2004), pp.211-214. Note that nearly the entire upper cadre of watergeuzen leaders at this time were from Flanders and Brabant. Ghislain de Fiennes, Lord of Lumbres, had originally organized the Sea Beggars in 1570. The liaison between Prince William of Orange and the Sea Beggars was Louis de Boischot’s brother Charles (also born in Brussel). Even the captains of the various ships – such as Antoon Utenhove from Ieper and Antoon van de Rijne from Oudenaarde. [xxiv] Dr. J. Briels, Zuid-Nederlanders in de Republiek 1572-1630: Een Demografische en Cultuurhistorische Studie, (Sint-Niklaas: Danthe, 1985), p. 192. [xxv] See the translation of real documents related to this and other aspects of the Dutch Revolt here: [xxvi] See the translation of the address for this first convocation here: [xxvii] Phillips Marnix is credited with authoring Het Wilhelmus, the Dutch national anthem, which was first written down in 1574. See . [xxviii] See a translation here: Note that contrary to many popular histories, the mayor of the town (Pieter van der Werff) appears to have been ready to surrender. [xxix] “The siege of Leiden, if not quite the longest – that of Middleburg was longer – was the costliest, hardest fought, and most decisive, as well as the most epic of the great sieges of the Revolt…had Leiden fallen, The Hague and Delft would have been untenable and the Revolt as a whole might well have collapsed.” Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall: 1477-1806, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 181. Like many Dutch-centric historians, Israel completely ignores the contribution of Flemings to the Republic and the Revolt. [xxx] Recent technical advances in lithography made it possible to confirm that Moons was not the lover but the wife of Francisco Valdez. See . [xxxi] Admittedly, most of my information here is culled from
[xxxii] See the Dutch language site here: [xxxiii] See Paul Hoftijzer, “Leiden Miracle”, p.84 online here [xxxiv] The name of the Antwerpenaar printer was Andrew Verschout. See Paul Hoftijzer, “Leiden Miracle”, p.84 online here [xxxv] Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall: 1477-1806, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998),p.572. Here as throughout his book, like many other Dutch-centric historians, Israel completely ignores the contribution of Flemings to the Republic and the Revolt. [xxxvi] Technically Lipsius was a Brabander, born in Overijse, where the central market place is now named after him: . The university was officially established February 8, 1575. [xxxvii] This list was culled from Gustaaf Asaert, De Val van Antwerpen en de Uittocht van Vlamingen en Brabanders, (Tielt: Lannoo, 2004), pp.188-189. [xxxviii] Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall: 1477-1806, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p.572. [xxxix] Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall: 1477-1806, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp.577-578. [xl] See Rendel Harris and Stephen K. Jones, The Pilgrim Press:A bibliographical & historical memorial of the books printed at Leyden by the Pilgrim Fathers, (Cambridge: Feffer & Sons, 1922) found online here: [xli] Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall: 1477-1806, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 485-491. Israel’s account is rich with analysis but poor on dates and chronology. For reference on dates, [xlii] Adolf van Meetkercke, a classical scholar, was a native of Brugge, according to a title on his book. See Adolphi Mekerchi Brugensis De veteri et recta pronuntiatione linguae Graecae commentarius Van Meetkercke was also a good friend of the Antwerpenaar cartographer Abraham Ortelius, as evidenced by the poem he penned on the title page of Ortelius’ Atlas (ironically, dedicated to Phillip II in 1570). See . As such, this implies contact with Emanuel Van Meteren (Ortelius’ close friend and cousin based in London) and Petrus Plancius. Adolf’s son Edward later became a professor of Hebrew at Oxford. See Ole Peter Grell, Calvinist Exiles in Tudor and Stuart England, (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1996), p. 237. All four of Van Meetkercke’s sons joined and officered in the English army in the Netherlands in the 1580s-1590s.Baldwin, Adolf’s second son, was knighted by Sir Francis Drake at Cadiz in 1596 for his heroism against the Spaniards. See D.J.B. Trim, “Protestant Refugees in Elizabethan England and Confessional Conflict in France and the Netherlands, 1562-c.1610”, pp.72-73, in Randolph Vigne and Charles Littleton, eds., From Strangers to Citizens: The Integration of Immigrant Communities in Britain, Ireland and Colonial America, 1570-1750, (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2001), pp.68-79. The Van Meetkerckes were not only co-religionists but friends of Emanuel Van Meteren, historian and the Antwerp-born “Dutch” Consul in London. [xliii] See A.G.H. Bachrach, Sir Constantine Huygens and Britain: 1596-1687 – A Pattern of Cultural Exchange, (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 1962), pp. 150-151. Van Meetkercke was an early supporter of William of Orange and ended up becoming a very close friend of the Earl of Leicester but when he was disgraced, fled to London. Like many Flemish immigrants to England, one of his sons served with conspicuous bravery in the English navy well and was knighted. [xliv] The author of this critique was Frans van Dusseldorp, a Dutch Catholic with strongly pro-Spanish sentiments who eventually was ordained a priest. Although he died in obscurity, his “Annales” offer a different perspective of Dutch history during this time. For my reference to the original statement seeJ.A. Van Dorsten, Poets Patrons and Professors: Sir Philip Sidney Daniel Rogers and the Leiden Humanists, (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 1962), p.115. For a discussion of the Annales in Dutch, please see Robert Fruin’s Verspreide Geschriften, Volume 7, p.237. The out-of-print book is accessible online here: . An excellent book review that includes a description of Dusseldorpius (as he was more generally known) in English by George Edmundson in the English Historical Review (1895: pp. 579-582) is accessible here:,+%22leicester%22&source=bl&ots=duNO93aMB_&sig=kLzUlirDstDWQOmtqjRHFlHktKo&hl=en&ei=-F8RS46dApS6MMql8DM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Frans%20van%20Dusseldorp%22%2C%20%22leicester%22&f=false . [xlv] The correct term was actually “rector magnificus”. See Paul Hoftijzer, “Leiden Miracle”, p.89 online here [xlvi] “In the 1580s Lipsius was the intellectual glory of Leiden and all Holland.” Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall: 1477-1806, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p.575. [xlvii] John Robinson’s request to move his church congregation of 100 from Amsterdam to Leiden is dated February 12, 1609. See a copy of the text here [xlviii] John Robinson appears to have tired of the scandals, the sniping, and the dogmatic lack of charity in the Separatist Amsterdam Church. See Frederick James Powicke, Henry Barrow, Separatist, 1550-1593 and The Exiled Church of Amsterdam, 1593-1622, (London: James Clarke & Co., 1900), pp.278-279. [xlix] B. N. Leverland and J. D. Bangs, The Pilgrims in Leiden, 1609-1620, (Leiden: Leiden Pilgrim Documents Center of the Municipal Archives, no date). No page numbers in this brief text. [l] B. N. Leverland and J. D. Bangs, The Pilgrims in Leiden, 1609-1620, (Leiden: Leiden Pilgrim Documents Center of the Municipal Archives, no date). No page numbers in this brief text. [li] B. N. Leverland and J. D. Bangs, The Pilgrims in Leiden, 1609-1620, (Leiden: Leiden Pilgrim Documents Center of the Municipal Archives, no date). No page numbers in this brief text. Please also note that not only was Professor Polyander close to John Robinson he also apparently knew William Brewster well, since he has provided the preface for Proverbia on January 11, 1617 - one of the twenty books Brewster printed on the Pilgrim's Press at Leiden. See Rendell Harris and The Pilgrims' Press, (Cambridge: Heffner & Sons, 1922), p.48. Polyander (born in Gent) was also the professor - and "the chief preacher of the city' who reputedly asked John Robinson to publicly debate against the Arminian Episcopus in 1618. See William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, (New York: McGraw Hill: 1981), Francis Murphy, ed., pp.21-22. [lii] B. N. Leverland and J. D. Bangs, The Pilgrims in Leiden, 1609-1620, (Leiden: Leiden Pilgrim Documents Center of the Municipal Archives, no date). No page numbers in this brief text.

Copyright 2009 and 2012 by David Baeckelandt. All rights reserved. No reproduction in any form allowed without my express, written permission.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Een Vlaamse Voorloper van Columbus (A Flemish Predecessor to Columbus): Ferdinand Van Olmen (1487) door Dr. Ch. Verlinden

This post is a letter insertion or background information on the Flemish predecessor of Columbus. Olmen was someone who not only Influenced Columbus but ook others, zoals Martin Behaim (creator of the famous Nuremburg Globe of 1492, and an aquaintance of Columbus) and Ferdinand Magellan. Professor Verlinden moves beyond Van Olmen's influence on Columbus to a broader discussion of the Flemish influence on Portuguese cartography and exploration in the late 15th and early 16th century and the voyages They made. To the best of my knowledge, the only historian Who has Addressed this topic - Ferdinand Van Olmen and the other Flemish influences on American exploration - in any depth in English in the last 50 years, Professor Verlinden. Surprisingly (to me at least), there is no recognition or Van Olmen in Flanders - not even a brief mention on his hometown's website ( - see ) - and very little of the other Flemings who made ​​the discovery of America possible. For English-only readers I will Incorporate some of this text in English translation into a later posting. Verlinden's account is superb background information (for my Magellan and Columbus postings) and only found in an older scholarly journal that's not Readily available to a wider public. Because I had great difficulty in getting a copy myself, I have reproduced the text here below. Please note That the original copyright has expired so I am not viola tion copyright laws by posting the text here. Incidentally, the original text is not illustrated. So all illustrations are included by me as a Means of illustrating points in the text that i believe May help the general reader. Definitely read!

"A Flemish Precursor Columbus Ferdinand Van Olmen (1487)"

by Dr. Ch. Verlinden [i]

The Flemish predecessor of Columbus on whom I will have here has been in Portuguese service, and departed from the Azores, which have borne the name of Flemish islands for several decades in the old cartography, not because they warden discovered by Flemings, but because Flemings a significant role in the earliest colonial history of the Portuguese Atlantic archipelago played. [ii] Even Ferdinand of Elm, whom I will act there as colonization entrepreneur worked. That is why it truly wish to first take a look at the activity of the other precursors, the Flemish settlers of the Azores.

Flemings in the Azores present almost from the beginning of colonization off. I will distract their history almost exclusively from diplomatic sources, not from narrative, often disguise the reality. That history begins from the time of Henry the Navigator. It had a first admission for the colonization of the Azores his cousin King Afonso V of Portugal obtained in 1439. [iii] In 1443 one sees date r already some Portuguese settlers established on a few islands of the archipelago, without knowing well where. [iv] In 1447, for the first concrete measures for the settlement of a particular island, viz. Sao Miguel [v] , and already three years later, in 1450, the first Fleming appears, which is also the first to for the Azores to obtain an extensive colonization licente. This piece, a charter of March 2, 1450, is extremely interesting. It is the gift of "a ilha de Jesu Christo", ie Terceira in the Azores, to "Jacome de Bruges," Jacob Bruges, "natural do Condado de Flandes" [vi] . The donor is Henry the Navigator. He calls Jacob Bruges "meu servidor". The island was without the least population and Jacob bidet in as colonization entrepreneur. In its charter states that the Infant from Bruges are all sheer admission of the islands before raises requested. The Fleming is the island may colonizing settlers of his choice provided they are Catholic. Since the Portuguese of course knew that their countrymen were Catholic, are meant here obviously aliens, and since the colonization entrepreneur was a Fleming, his choice will also be on other Flemings cases.

Since Jacob first colonization entrepreneur in Terceira, he will obtain the tithe of all the tithe of the Order of Christ on the island. Henry the Navigator was the administrator of this Order, which raises played a major role in the Portuguese colonization, easily provide such an advantage. The descendants of Bruges, who would be working on Terceira in the same capacity, will enjoy a similar privilege. The Bruges above obtains the capitania of the island, ie the hereditary governorship. He is the fourth captain of Henry the Navigator, who, at the time, in the same capacity, two Portuguese in service raises Madeira, a Portuguese, who is the son of an Italian immigrant in Porto Santo, and our Fleming in Terceira [vii ] . The first three are knights (cavaleiros) of the Infant; the Fleming is his servant (servidor).

The prince has to Bruges to the jurisdiction with the exception of the profession in the event of death and mutilation of court, appeal that he reserves for himself. Jacob raises only two daughters from his marriage to the Portuguese Sancha Rodriguez, which, in disregard said, that he was gevistigd in Portugal before beginning his career in the Azores. The eldest daughter will inherit capitania if no sons born of Jacob's marriage. If they themselves raises no son will inherit Mr. sister. This is an exceptional favor, the Infant states in its charter, and legitimizes them as follows: "Thus, because it seems to me to have to be for the service of God and the spread of the Catholic faith, and also because Jacob said of this Bruges island has come crowding, far from the mainland, or two hundred sixty leguas in the ocean, which island never to have been inhabited by any people in the world " [viii] .

The Infant then asks the Masters and Governors of the Order of Christ, who will come after him, the mentioned tithe to Jacob and to pay his heirs and or on the tithe, dates an Order itself was assigned by him. The prince also asks his cousin, King Alfonso V, that he may the Order until payment would oblige. The piece of 1450 so that was only decompose was formerly already subject to a hyper critical research by J. Mees appeared in 1901 Histoire de la decouverte des iles Acores et de l'origine de leur denomination d'ilkes flamandes [ix] . According Mees would be false charter by Jacob van Brugge because it provides the heredity of capitania-catered his daughters. However, this argument does not hold water as other arrangements of a similar nature for other Portuguese islands were affected, arrangements that Martin did not know [x] . In such cases dee meant only that the aanstande husband of the daughter of the capitania would occupy. Mees also thought and further proof of the falsity of the charter of 1450 was to be found in the fact that Jacob raises Bruges had a son who was called Gabriel, proves that the piece was drawn to the rights of the descendants of those who drafted the document for them it must have been extremely unwise, because the charter of 1450 expressly provides that inheritance for daughters only applies if no warden sons born of Jacob's marriage. Where, moreover, Mees halt Gabriel Bruges already was born in 1450, is a mystery. What is true is DSAT he for his father died [xi] and therefore was not eligible for inheritance hereto.

Jacob van Brugge has left Terceira for April 2, 1474, date of his succession is regulated by the Infanta Donha Brites, widow of infant Fernando, which Henry the Navigator's successor as lord of the islands [xii] . The capitania is now divided, what Tit again yielded moeke opportunities. Had he the history of this instilling in Madeira and known elsewhere outside the Azores, he would have known date r very many examples of distributions of capianias exist [xiii] . In Terceira itself the captaincy was divided at other further depending colonization took more expansion. Fernao d'Ulmo, that Ferdinand of Elm, the predecessor of Columbus whose role as discoverer we soon more will try n ate go into the details, has been under a lot of May 18, 1487 Captain of the part of Terceira, that "Quatro Ribeyras " [xiv] called and where a water still on the map as "Ribeira dos Flamengos" Flemish River.
Another Flemish colonization entrepreneur who raises played a significant role in the Azores, is Josse van Huerter. These belonged to a noble family from Liberty of Bruges. He settled in the Azores on request of Infant Dom Fernando [xv] , the heir of Henry the Navigator, ie yo between 1460 and 1470, dates of death of the two princes. Josse van Huerter obtained by Dom Fernando the captaincy on the islands of Fayal and Pico. When this is done, one can not really know, since no gift certificate is known. The Flemish master must have died about 1495, because the will of his Portuguese wife Brites de Macedo, dagtekenend 1527, says her husband 32 years ahead is deceased [xvi] . The eldest son of Josse van Huerter, who bore the same name as his father, has obtained on May 31, 1509 a deed appointment as captain-donataris Fayal and Pico [xvii] . He married a daughter of Joao Corte Real, one of the captains in Terceira after Jacob van Brugge. His son, whose name, Manuel de Hutra Corte Real, that he had gone all the way in the Portuguese center, follows him; but after his son, who also managed Fayal and Pico, the name Hurtere is no longer there. Among the companions of Josse van Huerter be on Fayal listed as Flemings, under more or less distorted names, William Bersmacher Tristan Vernes, who would have been a native of Bruges, Antonio Brum and Jos da Terra or Joost Aartrijke [xviii] , the last as two progenitors of Azorean families. However, none of these Flemings held a kapitenschap and the same goes by Diongo Flamengo listed on Terceira in 1486 [xix] .

A graduate of King Sebastian of Portugal from 1578 still mentions another Fleming, who raises played a significant role in the Azores, namely Willem van der Haegen [xx] . This is first mentioned on Sao Jorge, then Fayal. After he had encountered difficulties due to his compatriot Captain Josse van Huerter, gin gook himself in Terceira vestige and there grew corn and woad. This latter product, when in the textile industry employed many dye, he exported to Flanders. He was an adventurous spirit, he saw what became the chance to get ready the captaincy of the island of Flores, which belonged to a noble Portuguese lady, Donha Maria de Vilhena [xxi] . He remained on Flores for farming but without much success, so he returned to Sao Jorge been where he worked first after several years. His eight children gave the birth to the various tasks of the still existing today Azoreaans noble da Silveira, at other name is the translation of the Dutch van der Haegen [xxii] . Regarding the importance of the role of the Flemings in the Azores one must naturally take into account especially those who have been there captain, ie Jacob Bruges in Terceira under Henry the Navigator, Josse van Huerter on Pico and Fayal under Infant Ferdinand and his descendants in later time, Willem van der Haegen, for several years Flores, and finally Ferdinand of Elm, who we now return, for the part of Terceira, which bore the name of "Quatro Ribeyras" [xxiii] .

To Ferdinand of Elm better knowing we only need to analyze a royal diploma of July 24, 1486, in which John II of Portugal ratifies a contract on 12 June hetselfde year concluded between the Flemish and some Joham Afomso do Estreito [xxiv] . The Fleming called here "knight of the royal court and captain on the island of Terceira," not of Terceira, which shows that he was only captain of a part of the island, as we already know. According to the diploma will dated 24 July Olmen go on tour "by capitam a descrobir a ilha das Sete Cidades per mandado del Roy nosso Senhor". What is this "Island of Seven Cities" that the Fleming for the Portuguese king had to discover? Sodert a twingtal years Portugeuzen had to travel a series carried out in the Atlantic, west of the three archipelagos of the Canary Islands, the Madeiras and the westernmost islands group, which the Azores, where the Flemings were located. Already in 1462 had Afonso V of Portugal to a knight of his court, Joham Voguado, granted extensive rights over two islands which would be found in that direction [xxv] . Also with islands he "nos partes Ouciano do Mar", ie the middle of the Atlantic, could discover devised in 1474 Fernao Telles, a member of the royal council [xxvi] . And the following year, in a diploom of November 10, it is said that if he reached the island of "Setes Cidades" or another island that is already populated if found, the inhabitants of these islands to his authority would be subject [xxvii] .

The Island of the Seven Cities, which also Antilia was called, was one of the legendary islands, which occurred on the late medieval world maps [xxviii] . It played an important role in the geographical conceptions of Columbus. In 1476, the famous Genoese as castaway landed in Portugal and from the spring of 1477, after a short trip to England, Ireland and perhaps Iceland, he established there proof. His younger brother Bartolomeo, who had become a mapmaker, had joined him. About that time raises Christopher Columbus established links with a canon of the cathedral in Lisbon, Fernao Martins, who had fulfilled a diplomatic mission to Rome and made ​​in Italy acquainted with the Florentine physician and humanist Paolo del Pozzo Toscanelli. The latter was deeply interested in the size of the earth, and in particular the distance between the east coast of Asia and the west coast of Europe. When Canon Martins him in the name of the King of Portugal consulted on the way to India, China and Japan, he replied that it was easier to go to these countries from Portugal to be heading to the west or to follow the coast of Africa, as the Portuguese had done until then, without as yet know whether they thus actually South and East Asia could reach. Columbus obtained a copy of Toscanelli's letter and soon began to correspond directly with him. We own two letters of the Florentine Columbus showing that the humanist estimated the distance between the Iberian coast and China about 5,000 nautical miles, while Japan at 1,500 miles from the coast of Asia would have located and Antilia or the Island of the Seven Cities about halfway between the Iberian Peninsula and Japan. These distances were wrong and far below the reality, but they were still too high for Columbus. Relying on an inaccurate calculation of longitude at the equator thought the Genoese that the distance between the Canary Islands and Japan, more than 2,400 miles was, which corresponds to the actual distance between the Canary Archipelago and the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea, which Columbus obvious existence is not suspected.

On the authority of this false knowledge, Columbus asked King John II of Portugal ships Cipangu, ie Japan, reached along the west. The king ordered the research proposal by a technical Commission ,. This body, whose members included Jose Vizinho, the great Jewish astronomer, was a part, of course, did not know what were the proper distances, but his power was still substantial enough to the king there to put Columbus' proposal of the hand pointing. One thing, however, continued from then interest the king, viz. The correct distance between the westernmost of the already known Atlantic archipelagos, dzw the Azores, and Antilia or the Island of the Seven Cities, the first major stop on the western sea route to Asia [ xxix] . But the man whose task would be to solve this problem was not Columbus, but one of the captains who then represented Portugal in the Azores, viz., The Fleming Ferdinand of Elm. We now return to the royal diploma of July 24, 1486 [xxx] . Ferdinand van Olmen handle this piece as explained to the king that "he wished for him to find a large island or islands or the coast of a continent, which is believed to the Island of the Seven Cities, and all this on his own costs " [xxxi] . It seems evident that the very question of Elm reflected brings about the nature of the area to explore - big island? Several islands? Coast of a continent? - Proves that about this time Portuguese voyages were undertaken to Central America, which, however, had only seen coasts without landing or seizure was followed. Here is the attempt by Fernao Telles meant mentioned in the above mentioned diploma in 1475? [xxxii] . We do not know. The only sure thing is that we speak in 1486 not only an island of the Seven Cities, but assumes that it is also an archipelago or even a continent can being. It is the stage beyond the purely hypothetical or legendary island. Man knows that there is something, but they do not know what or where. That "what" and "where" what is going on Elm promises n ate.

He will pay the expedition, but in return he asks about donation of the island, the islands or the mainland he could find or that someone would discover his command, they pointed populated or not. He would obtain full justice, with appeal to higher criminal cases, and all interest and rights. Successor would know his eldest son, or, if there was no son alive, his eldest daughter, or even, ultimately, the next of kin. The king will have the tithe of all rights and interest to find the areas along the walls. If the residents do not want to subject the king will send a fleet of Ferdinand of elms as "capitam moor" and the Fleming will always recognize the king as his master, as befits a good vassal. However, since the cost of the expedition are overweight, state of Olmen the heft of the capitania over the areas to find out at the listed Estreito, who was a wealthy Portuguese settler of Madeira. The Portuguese will enjoy the same rights as the king raises granted to Fleming. The halves will be chosen at random and Estreito may transfer part to whom and the way he wants. However, he must rest before two geodesic caravels, equipped with all the necessary [xxxiii] . But it is the Fleming that these caravels will search and they will man with decent pilots and sailors [xxxiv] , which shows that he's nautical expert, since he assess ships and sailors to know value.

From Elm will of crew wages pay, but Estreito is responsible for the payment of rent to the owner of the vessels. Everything must be ready for mart 1487 in Terceira, the island where the Fleming's captain. This shows clearly enough that there really was going to reach the first stop on the western route to Asia from the westernmost Portuguese archipelago, so for the first part to examine the plan of Toscanelli and Columbus as it was presented to the Portuguese king [xxxv] . The two partners - Olmen and Estreito - will each take command of one of the two vessels. A German knight will accompany them on the caravel, which he prefers. This was the famous cartographer Martin Behaim of Nuremberg, who was then the island of Fayal in the Azores. He is, however, to his happiness, not joined us [xxxvi] . From Elm forty days will sail to the west and Estreito will follow him, in compliance with the written instructions that he will receive from the Fleming. This proves once more that the true leader and the nautical technician was the expedition. Olmen will now have to follow him until he returned to Portugal.

The discovered fields will be the one without the permission of the other no bestuursordonnantien may issue. The king will possibly umpire and Portuguese law will apply. Estreito obliged to introduce themselves to immediately clear 6.0000 reals disposal of Van Olmen. All these are provisions of the contract signed by both parties on June 12, 1486 and ratified by King JanII in his own degree of July 24, 1486. ​​A second royal diploma dagtekenend of August 4, 1486, grants Estreito the areas he would find during The second part of the journey, ie after the forty days during which an Elm will command [xxxvii] . He obtained this privilege because he equips the ships for a period of six months and because of the forty days, during which he will be under the command of the Fleming wants to continue the discovery until the end of six months referred. But the by him discover areas should really be found within two years. This clause seems welt e prove that what the king interests, what he really expected, the discovery is, within forty days of the island, the islands or the land of the Seven Cities, discovery which Van Olmen is charged, the rest raises a much more hypothetical view.

the "Flemish Eylanden"

It is particularly striking that the Flemish forty days raises provided to achieve Antilia or the Seven Cities. He raises naturally really hoping within this period to find the areas in which he had let promise special rights by the king. On the other hand, the king must also expected or at least hoped, that the discovery would take place within the time prescribed. This deserves a brief statement. In no other Portuguese concessive to discover areas - and they are many - is indeed such a time provision. This can only rely on information cut song from vrogere Portuguese voyages, which is precisely what have do ask whether the Sete Cidades were an island, an archipelago or a continent. To ask this question it raises should see a coastline without going ashore. For forty days to speak one raises must be able to form an idea of the distance. When moreover consider that in late summer and early autumn of 1492 Columbus thirty-six days raises were necessary for the Canary archipelago to reach the island Watling in the Bahamas, one realizes knew of Elm and the Portuguese king what they said when they spoke in 1486 of forty days. One question we must ask ourselves is: Why Columbus was rejected by the Portuguese king, while Olmen ontdekkingslicente and a variety of privileges has obtained

the answer is simple. Olmen received his licente because he offered himself to finance his expedition, as all the Portuguese, who travels about that time undertook to the west, it did. This is even more the case for the brothers Corte Real in 1500, 1502 and 1506 [xxxviii] . Columbus raises never offered anything, not even in Spain in later time. The Portuguese king wanted to invest any funds in expeditions across the Atlantic Ocean, which he rightly as much bolder regarded than that of Diogo Cao and Bartholomew Dias about the same time along the South African coast. That risk was big, was himself proved by Van Olmen . It is indeed that this is truly gone. We know it by a passage in the Historia de las Indias of the Spaniard Las Casas, the famous defender of the natives of America against the greed of the Spanish colonists. Las Casas tells how a sailor from Galicia, Murcia to Christopher Columbus gave information about a country that was seen west of Ireland and loved ones who saw it for the area Hernan de Olmos, ie Ferdinand of Elm, had wanted to achieve [ xxxix] . Las Casas adds an era that he will return to this later. He raises but forget to do so, as more than once was the case in his Historia and in his other writings, in which the polemic against the Indians caused injustice to him too often the chronological thread does lose. But what could he add, if the story of the journey of the Fleming? Was this remained only a draft, then there was nothing more to say.

Two circumstances explain why Ferdinand Van Olmen failed. First, says John II of the diploma of July 24, 1486 that the expedition had to be ready to verlatten Terceira mart 1487. We have every reason to believe that the journey indeed raises occurred towards the end of the winter of 1486, and precisely because they have failed. That time of year is a very bad time for the Serbian Atlant Ocean stabbing, especially in the west and with small caravels, usually not more than 50 to 60 tons moved. Moreover, precisely in the season the Azores were a lot to northern vertrekpunkt. The trade winds, which in the late zome the first three weeks of the autumn of 1492 performed as calm and docile Columbus much further south Canary archipelago to the Bahamas, Van Olmen raises thus can not use. Second, he must be the rate also plenty have put to the north-west, as the tradition was at the Azorean American sailors, Diogo the Collaborative for him to Joao Fernandes and brothers Corte Real after him [xl] .Allen be returned in the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador, where verschiedene of them were killed, as it probably went with Ferdinand of Elm. Van Olmen it really matters in that direction danger is proved by the cited passage from Las Casas, who speaks of the West of Ireland that he wanted to achieve. For such a speed with very small vessels, it is becoming a very spring about difficult time. What e smoke it, it is certain that John II had wished a great task to his Flemish captain. Indeed, the year 1487, in which he sends him to the west, the year of the great efforts of all discoveries in the government of this great Portuguese monarch. Overall ask these efforts to the best. Pero da Covilham, the little-known predecessor Vasco da Gama, follows all the east coast of Africa and reached Calicut in India on an Arab ship ten years before the first Portuguese expedition by sea [xli] . Afonso de Paiva entered into relations with the Negus of Abyssinia, the legendary Prester John, which Portugal had to help against Islam on the way to India. Bartholomew Dias follows the west coast of Africa and discovered the Cape of Good Hope. All these expeditions left Portugal in 1487, the year that Van Olmen from the Azores moved westward. John II has when wanting to know what was the best way to India, either along the south and east in the fairway of the many excursions along the West African coast of the time in 1460 deceased Henry the Navigator off, either westward as Toscanelli and Columbus claimed it. That African road was good was proved by Covilham and Bartholomew Dias. But the Fleming Van Olmen was sent to make the attempt in a westerly direction, despite its failure, a conclusive proof of its high value as seaman and as daring man. Was he in his attempt failed and he had reached the Caribbean area, then perhaps, space reached, might, by the hands of these Fleming, the Portuguese language today not spoken only in the later Portugal colonized Brazil but in the whole of Latin America. Thus the fate of an entire continent depends sometimes on that of a single man!

Also on the career of Columbus and thus the discovery of America on behalf of Spain have the trip of Van Olmen and other Portuguese expeditions of 1487 their influence uitgeofend. Since about the middle of 1485 had the Genoese themselves begreven to Spain, and he had the same proposals formulated as in Portugal, to disver with as little success. But in early 1488, he wrote from Seville to John II to him again to offer his services, and the king invites him to come back to Lisbon. What had happened? Why seemed Portuguese prince his negative attitude of some years before giving up? Olmen had left ten months earlier and had only supplies meegenoemen for six months. It seemed so sure that his expedition with all hands had perished. Columbus will have heard of it in Seville, because there were busy relations Italiansse colony to Lisbon and large Andalusia and its harbor. The Genoese would have thought that the time had come to re-take his chance in Portugal. When he was in December 1488 in Lisbon, however, lingered headed Bartholmeus Dias Tagus onto the Cape of Good Hope to have discovered. The chance of Columbus in Portugal was over. The Portuguese king knew that the southeast route to India was open. The sea route along the West did not interest him anymore. When he again will set interest there, the New World Columbus will have already discovered, but on behalf of Spain. The man who so could prevent and Portugal could have given all Latin America, the Fleming Ferdinand van Olmen was, but the sea and fate had not willed [xlii] . Endnotes [i] Dr. Charles Verlinden, "A Flemish Precursor Columbus Ferdinand Van Olmen (1487)", in Journal of History , 74th Year, Issue 4, (Groningen. p Noordhoff, 1961), pp.506-516 [ii] J. Mees: Histoire de la decouverte des iles Acores et de l'origine de leur denomination d'iles flamandes (University of Ghent Working out Fac Note and Wijsb 27th AFL in 1901.....). [iii] J. Martins da Silva Marques: Descobrimentos portugueses , d. I (Lisbon, 1944), no. 316, p. 401. [iv] Ibid. no. 334, p. 425. [v] Ibid. no. 355, p. 452. [vi] Ibid. no. 373, p. 470. [vii] See my book about Portuguese and Spanish colonization and the state feudal forms in the Atlantic area , to appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Flemish Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium. Kl. Arts. [viii] Silva Marques: loc .: "porque assim sinto o por service the Deos e accrescentamento da Santa Fe Catholica e meu, pelo ditto Jacome de Bruges povoar a dita ilha tao longed a terra firme, bem e duzentos sessenta legoas do mar oceano, quell a ilha nunca se soube povoada the nenhuma gente que no mundo fosse ategora. " [ix] Pp. 86 SQQ. [x] Eg. Settlement of 1486 Sao Tome (Ramos Coelho: Alguns documentos do archive nacional da Torre do Tombo, Lisbon, 1892, p. 56); regulation of 1497 for Santiago in the Cape Verde archipelago (E. de Bettencourt: Descobrimentos, guerras e conquistas dos Portugueses, Lisbon, 1881, p. 67). [xi] See by Mees itself, p. 91, n. 2. [xii] Charter published by Drummond in Annaes da Ilha Terceira , d. I, p. 493 and Archivo dos Acores, d. IV, p. 159. [xiii] Cf. in this regard in my note book 6 announced. [xiv] Archivo dos Acores, d. VIII, p. 394. [xv] According to a rekwest of 1571 presented to the King of Portugal by Jeronimo Dutra Corte Real, descendant of Josse van Huerter ( Archivo dos Acores , I, p. 409). [xvi] Archivo dos Acores , I, p. 164. [xvii] Ibid. p. 158. [xviii] Mees, p. 109. [xix] Archivo dos Acores , d. VIII, p. 394. [xx] J. Cunha da Silveira: Apport a l'etude de la contribution flamande au peuple ment des Acores (Communication de l'Academie de Marine de Belgique, tX, 1956-7) p. 71. [xxi] Ibid. p. 75. The gift certificate is not known. [xxii] J. Cunha da Silveira: Willem van der Haegen, tronco Silveiras dos dos Acores (Revista Insulana, 1949). Tit shows here too hypercritical. He assumes that the fortunes of Willem van der Haegen on multiple Azores Islands alone would be explained by the presence of his descendants on those islands. There is however cenparigheid about Van der Haegen fortunes of the Azorean historiography of the sixteenth and seventeenth century and an accurate reading of the Saudades da Terre Gaspar Frutuoso (1586-90) shows that these features raises about documents that were lost. [xxiii] Cf. higher p. 508 [xxiv] Ramos Coelho: op. cit. p. 58. That Fernao d'Ulmo = Ferdinand of Elm was a Fleming says Mees (op. Cit. P. 94). However, he translates by "the Olm". I prefer "Olmen" form also now more common and those above is closer to both the Portuguese and the Spanish transcription "Hernan de Olmos." Cf. on this last form below, p. . 514 [xxv] Ramos Coelho: Alguns documentos , p. 28. [xxvi] Ibid. p. 38. [xxvii] Ibid. p. . 40 [xxviii] WH Babcock: Legendary Islands of the Atlantic (New York, 1922) pp. 68 SQQ. [xxix] On the influence of the ideas of Toscanelli to Columbus, cf. A. Altolguirre y Duvale: Cristobal Colon y Pablo del Pozzo Toscanelli, Estudio critic del proyecto formulado por Toscanelli y seguido por Colon para Arribar all Extremo Oriente the Asia navegando la via del Oeste (Madrid, 1903). [xxx] Cf. supra p. 510. [xxxi] "como nos elle (sc. The king) queria drone Achada huua grande ylha ylhas ou o terra firme per costa que se presume overseer a ylha das Sete Cidades, e todo esto aa sua propria custa e despesa" (Ramos Coelho:. loc cit.) [xxxii] Cf. supra, p. 510. [xxxiii] "duas Caravellas boas de todo mamtimento e cousas que lhe pertencem para numerous armacam" (Ramos Coelho, loc. cit.). [xxxiv] "com angry pillotos e marinheiros" [xxxv] Cf. supra, p. 511. [xxxvi] He mentions of Elm's not on his expedition in the Deutsches Museum in Nuremberg preserved globus. Cf. SE Morison, Portuguese voyages to America in the fifteenth century (Cambridge, Nass, 1940). p. 46, n. . 78 [xxxvii] Ramos Coelho: op. cit. p. . 62 [xxxviii] Ramos Coelho; on. cit. pp. 131, 150. [xxxix] "Item mariner un que se llamo Pedro de Velasco, gallego, dijo all Cristobal Colon and Murcia Yendo aquel que viaje de Irlanda y fueron navegando metiendose already Norueste tanto que hacia el vieron tierra Poniente the Ibernia, y esta crayon los que alli iban Debia que ser la que un quiso descubrir Hernan de Olmos como luego se dira "(Las Casas.. Historia de Indias, broken Millares Carlo, d I, Mexico, 1951, p. 69). [xl ] B. Penrose: Travel and discovery in the Renaissance (Cambridge, Mass, 1952). pp 142-146.. [xli] Cf. C. Verlinden: Vasco da Gama in the light of his Portuguese and Arab predecessors (Meded Could Vl Acad Sci Kl for Literature, 1957, No. 4.......). [xlii] About this interpretive of the meaning of Van elms see appear in my German Columbus biography (Muster Schmidt Verlag, Göttingen).

Copyright 2009 by David Baeckelandt. All rights reserved and no reproduction Permitted without my express, written permission.