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Dutch Sailors and Ships of The 17th Century

Learning Dutch? - Let me pilot your approach

Everyday Dutch Words Basic vocabulary for conversation and reading
Useful Words and Phrases for Travelers

See and hear also: Dutch Ship words

You may have seen the names spelled somewhat differently elsewhere.

Dutch independence was won in the Dutch Revolution against Spain (The Eighty-Years War, 1568-1648). The new country called itself The Republic of The (Seven) United Provinces, a federal model already pioneered by the Swiss, and followed again 130 years later by another great nation.
Soon, commercial rivalry led to three wars with England. England is often seen as having led the way in free trade, but that's only after the competition was squashed by unfair means, like its 1651 Act of Navigation that restricted foreign ships to transporting national products, barring the large Dutch international shipping.
From about 1600 to 1750, Holland had the largest merchant fleet of any nation, and the highest Gross National Product per capita in the world.

[a 17th-century painting]
Willem van de Velde: Michiel de Ruyter
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam


Michiel de Ruyter click to hear
Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp click to hear 2
Witte de With click to hear 2
Jan Evertsen click to hear

Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp
Michiel de Ruyter
Cornelis Tromp
Bestevaer (the nickname for popular admirals)

Witte de With "Dubbel Wit" (wit = white)
Jan Evertsen
Pieter Florisz.
Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam
Egbert Meeuwszoon Kortenaer

Cornelis Evertsen click to hear 2
"Keesje (de) Duivel" click to hear 2 (3)

[a 17th-century painting]
Jan Lievens: Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Ship Names

Ship names were often used again and again.
(List collected from sailingwarships.com)
Bruynvisch (1613) 'brown fish:' porpoise
Groene Draeck (1623) Green Dragon
Hollandsche Tuin (1629) Garden of Holland
Vliegende Draeck (1629 Flying Dragon
Vogelstruys (1641) Ostrich
Vrijheid (1653) Liberty, Freedom
Gerechtigheid (1653) Justice
Gloeyenden Oven (1652) Glowing Oven
Tijdverdrijf (1667) Pastime
Dolphijn (1623) dolphin
Fazant pheasant
Eenhoorn unicorn
Gekroonde Liefde crowned love
Geloof (1661-74) Religion
Wakende Boei (1661-67) Awake (Protecting) Buoy
Beschermer (1665) Protector
Voorzichtigheid (1667-89) Care
Groningen (1672)(town)
Vlissingen (town: Flushing)
Walcheren (island)
Callantsoog (1673)(village)

Piet Hein

Admiral (and pirate) Piet Hein (also spelled Heyn) captured the Spanish silver fleet off Cuba in 1628; a contemporary popular ditty was streamlined in the 1850s to a tune all Dutchmen are familiar with.
The stockholders of the West India Company made something like 50 to 75% on their investment in the year of the Silver Fleet.

[a picture of a bust statue]
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Piet Hein, Piet Hein,
Piet Hein zijn naam is klein,
Zijn daden benne groot,
Zijn daden benne groot,
Hij heeft gewonnen de Zilvervloot.
Hij heeft gewonnen, gewonnen de Zilvervloot,
Hij heeft gewonnen de Zilvervloot.

... his name is short
His actions ['deeds'] are big
('benne' is a slang version of 'to be' - note the similarity)
He has captured ['won'] the Silver Fleet.

The Admiralties

The Dutch Navy consisted of fleets from various regions, called admiraliteiten (admiralties.)

De Admiraliteit van Amsterdam - hear - 2
De Admiraliteit van de Maze (Rotterdam) - hear - 2
De Admiraliteit van Zeeland (Middelburg) - hear
De Admiraliteit van het Noorderkwartier (Hoorn en Enkhuizen) - hear
De Admiraliteit van Friesland (Harlingen) - hear - 2 - originally, the Friesland Admiralty was based in Dokkum - hear

The First Anglo-Dutch Sea War (1652-54)

The 1651 English Act of Navigation greatly limited Dutch shipping to England; an incident in the Channel led to the Battle of Dover, after which the English Government declared war. The English were better prepared and won most (sea) battles.

Kentish Knock page

[a 17th-century painting]
Willem van de Velde, The Cannon Shot (ca. 1670)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Paintings of The First War
The Battle of Livorno/Leghorn 1
The Battle of Livorno/Leghorn 2
The Battle of Terheide

Naval Officers

Bastiaan Centen
Gillis Thyssen Campen
Gijsbert Malcontent (probably a French name)
Leendert Adriaansz. Haexwant
hear - take 2

Stoffel Juriaenszoon
Albert Corneliszoon 't Hoen
Douwe Auckes
Joris de Caulerij (portrait)

Adriaen Cruijck
Hendrick Kroeger
Jacob Huurluyt

Hector Bardesius
ship: Nieuw Gideon
Bastiaan Bardoel
ship: Engel Gabriël
Jeroen Adelaar
ship: Middelburg
Dirck Janszoon Juynbol
ship: Gelderland


De Vereenigde Provinciën (The United Provinces)
De Zeven Provinciën (The Seven Provinces, flagship)
Brederode (Maarten Tromp's flagship)
Maecht van Enkhuizen (Virgin of a Zuyder Zee town)
Leeuwarden (northern town)

David en Goliad
Goude Reael (Golden Spanish coin, 'real')
Patientia (Latin: patience)
Huijs te Swieten (name of a house)

Zwaluw (Swallow)
Leeuwin (Lioness)
Haes (Hare) (captain Bastiaan Centen)
Blauwe Arent (Blue Eagle)
Swarte Arent (Black Eagle)

Dutch Battle Locations
Katwijk, Noordwijk
Terheide, Tessel (also written as 'Texel')

The Second Anglo-Dutch Sea War (1665-67)

In 1667 the Dutch fleet entered the river Thames, a small squadron sailed up the Medway and destroyed or captured much of the British fleet at Chatham. Every Dutch schoolboy knows about the heavy chain over the river that was blocking the way; the official history has Captain van Brakel taking the lead, but many popular books say it was actually broken by his lieutenant Van Rijn's fire ship. The English were down because of the Great Fire of London and a plague outbreak; still a glorious feat of Dutch arms.
Chatham Raid websites: English - Dutch
[a 17th-century painting of a sea battle]
Jan van Leiden, 1669
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

[a 17th-century painting of a sea battle]
Peter van de Velde, ca 1670
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
[a 17th-century painting of a sea battle]
Willem Schellings (n.a.)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Delfland (De Ruyter's ship in 1665)
Aert van Nes
Willem Joseph baron van Ghent ship: Agatha
Adriaan Banckert
Tjerk Hiddes
Jan van Brakel ship: De Vreede 'Peace'
Jan Daniëls van Rijn ship: Pro Patria (Latin: For My Country)

Johan Belgicus graaf van Hoorne
ships: Gelderland (1666) - Westfriesland (1672, 3rd War)

Dutch Battle Locations
Vlie, Vlieland

More paintings of the Second War:
Bringing in Captured English Ships
Bringing in The Captured 'Royal Charles'
The Royal Arms Decoration of The 'Royal Charles'

The Third Anglo-Dutch Sea War (1672-74)

In 1672, a British-French alliance came close to crushing the Dutch Republic. Would they have divided the spoils: the Rhine as France's northern border, and the remainder an English toehold on the Continent ('The United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Holland')?

Many sailors and ships of the second war returned and De Ruyter was again in command. Van Ghent fell in the (undecided) Battle of Solebay, where Van Brakel's ship and the Earl of Sandwich's Royal James had their rigging tangled up for two hours (imagine: fighting and trying to disentangle at the same time); later Van Rijn set fire to this brand-new ship. De Ruyter severely damaged the Duke of York's flagship The Prince.

[a 17th-century painting]
Willem van de Velde (1691) The Battle of Solebay
(Center: the damaged 'Royal Prince')
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
[a 17th-century painting]
Willem van de Velde (ca. 1685) The Battle of Kijkduin
(Left: the 'Royal Prince;' right: Tromp's sinking flagship 'Gouden Leeuw.')
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Daniël Elsevier
ships: Stavoren, Zeelandia

The Nine-Years War (1688-98)

This time around, the English and Dutch were united against the French. Van Brakel fell in the 1690 Battle of Bevesier (Beachy Head), where 'Victory went to the French, Honor to the Dutch, and Shame to the British.'

Steenkerken, Neerwinden (land battles)
Namen (Namurs)
Menno baron van Coehoorn (fortifications engineer)

Cornelis Evertsen de Jongere ('the Younger')(Admiral)
(nickname:) "Keesje de Duivel" (the Devil)
Peter Gilles Schey (Admiral)
Reigersbergen, Veere (ships)

Peace Treaty Towns

Breda (1667)
Nijmegen (1678)
Rijswijk (1697)
Utrecht (1712)

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch Sea War (1781-1784)

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch Sea War was fought over Dutch support for the American Revolution, mainly the providing of gunpowder and loans.
Rear Admiral Zoutman won a very small battle at the Doggersbank, but after that the Dutch fleet cowered in port. It's not that Zoutman and his men lacked courage (though he looks pretty foppish in the painting), but the government had woefully economized on the Navy, and it was no match for the English.

[an 18th-century painting]
Cornelis van Cuylenburg:
Rear Admiral Zoutman (1801)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Lodewijk van Bylandt (admiral)
Johan Arnold Zoutman (rear admiral)
De Slag bij de Doggersbank (The Battle of The Doggers Bank)

Zoutman's mini-victory gave a much-needed jolt to national pride that had been in the doldrums, a.o. resulting in this bombastic poem quoted by Moerman:

De Brit verliest de moed in deze hooge nood. The Briton loses heart in this time of trouble;
De Batavier staat pal in 't aangezicht van de dood. The Batavian stands firm facing Death,
En beukt en scheurt de macht van Engeland aan flenteren.
Rips and rams England's might to smithereens.
Het donderend geluid,
Sounds of thunder!
De Ruyter, Tromp, Piet Hein verrijzen uit hun graf,
De Ruyter, Tromp, Piet Hein rise from the grave,
Uit vrees, dat Neêrlands moed de laatste doodssnik gaf.
Fearful Holland's courage had given its last gasp.
Zij komen, zien en gaan gerust weer naar beneden.
But seeing all is well go back down below, at ease.


Asia and The Pacific

First Ventures to the East Indies

Jan Huygen van Linschoten (provided maps)
De Compagnie van Verre (company that set up the first journey)
De Compagnie van Verre click to hear 2 3
('the Company of Faraway')

1596 ships and captains
Mauritius - Jan Jansz Molenaar
Hollandia - Jan Dignumsz
Amsterdam - Jan Jacobsz Schellinger
Duifken - Simon Lambertsz Mau

1596 leaders:
Cornelis (de) Houtman
Pieter Keijzer
Jan Jansz. Molenaar
1598 leaders:
Jacob van Neck
Wybrant van Warwijck
[Jacob van Heemskerck see Barentsz, right]

[a 17th-century painting]
The ship 'Mauritius' that made the voyage to the East Indies in 1596-97.
Hendrik Cornelisz Vroom, ca 1615 - Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Pacific Routes to the East Indies
Willem Schouten (Cape Horn (1616), named for Zuyder Zee town:)
Jacob Quaeckernaeck ship: De Liefde 'Love' (Japan, 1600)
Olivier van Noort (first Dutch circumnavigator, 1598-1600)
Jacob Roggeveen (Easter Island, 1722)

Dirck Gerritsz Pomp - "Dirck China"
Jan Joosten van Lodensteyn

First Dutch Ships that Set Out for Japan
De Liefde (love)
Het Geloof (religion, belief)
De Hoop (hope)
De Trouw (faithfulness)
De Blijde Boodschap (The Good News)

The Dutch East- and West-India Companies VOC and WIC
De Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie
Heren XVII ('Seventeen Gentlemen,' the VOC Board of Directors)
De West-Indische Compagnie
Heren XIX ('Nineteen Gentlemen')
Full title of the WIC:
Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie click to hear
(geoctroyeerd = 'granted a monopoly')

The North-East Passage

Searching for the North-East Passage to Asia, Barentsz and his crew discovered Spitsbergen ("Sharp-pointed Mountains"), got stuck in the ice and wintered on Novaya Zemlya (Nova Zembla) 1596/97.

Willem Barentsz
Jacob van Heemskerck (captain, later admiral)
Jan Cornelisz. de Rijp (captain of companion ship that turned back)
Gerrit de Veer (published report)
Het Behouden Huis (the shelter they built)
Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

Smeerenburg ('Grease-Town') hear
The Dutch 17th Century Spitsbergen Whaling Station


Dutch ships on the way to Java would sail straight East from the Cape of Good Hope; some that took the turn North too late sighted Australia (or shipwrecked.)

Willem Jansz ship: Duyfken 'little dove' (Cape York, 1606)
Dirck Hartogh ship Eendracht 'Harmony/Union' (West coast, 1616)
Jan Carstensz ship: Arnhem (Eastern town; 1944's Bridge Too Far) (North-West coast, 1623)
Pieter Nuyts ship: 't Gulden Zeepaard 'The Golden Sea-Horse' (South coast, 1627) *
Abel Tasman (Tasmania, New Zealand, Fiji (1642); he named what's now Tasmania 'Van Diemensland.')

Dirk Hartog click to hear 2
Meynsgen Abels click to hear 2 3 (Mrs Dirk Hartog)
Pieter Nuyts click to hear 2
Abel Tasman click to hear 2

South Africa

In 1652, Van Riebeeck built a fort at the Cape of Good Hope as a halfway station for the ships to and from the East Indies ('The Inn of Two Oceans') that later grew out to Cape Town.

Jan van Riebeeck
ships: Drommedaris, Reijger, Goede Hoop, Walvis, Oliphant
one-humped camel, heron, Good Hope, whale, elephant

Governors of the Dutch Indies
Jan Pieterszoon Coen
ship: Het Wapen van Amsterdam 'Amsterdam Arms'
Anthonie van Diemen


Salamander (De Ruyter's merchantman)
Kamperduin (1797 Anglo-Dutch sea battle
- Holland under French occupation)
Cornelis Speelman
Fort Zeelandia (Taiwan)
Maarten Fries ship: Castricum (Sakhalin, 1643)

Ships Vocabulary

schip - schepen click to hear ('ship - ships')
averij click to hear ('damage' - to a ship)
muiterij click to hear ('mutiny')
schipbreuk click to hear 2 3 ('shipwreck')
scheepswrak click to hear ('wrecked ship')
scheurbuik click to hear ('scurvy')
See also: more ship words


Van Keulen
De Hooghe

[a 17th-century painting]
Willem van der Velde, The Gust of Wind (1663)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
The Anglo-Dutch Wars part of this page was suggested by Jim Bender of Kentish Knock. Jim gave me the lists of captains and ships of the First War, clarified the names of English admirals, pointed me to other interesting websites, and corrected various inaccuracies.
The Ship Names list is from sailingwarships.com.

Literature Consulted:
Louwerse/Moerman Geïllustreerde Vaderlandse Geschiedenis
Willem Velema: Het Aanzien van Een Millenium
Colin McEvedy Penguin Historical Atlases
Encyclopaedia Britannica
Nelleke Noordervliet: Op De Zeef van De Tijd
Rietbergen/Seegers: De Geschiedenis van Nederland in Vogelvlucht

Staet van Oorlog te Water (Yearly Government Report on the War at Sea)
Elias: Schetsen uit De Geschiedenis van Ons Zeewezen
(Sketches from The History of Our Maritime Affairs)

More Dutch Names --- Vermeer's World --- Rembrandt --- Old New York
NEW: Dutch Names from Books
NEW: Maps and Names from Operation Market Garden ('The Bridge too Far')
Historical Maps of The Netherlands (Land Reclamation) (some also with sound files)

email - copyright © 1999-2006 Marco Schuffelen - All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

[a building]
[a 50s radio]
days of old


email - Copyright © Marco Schuffelen 2015. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, redistributed, or hotlinked to.
Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2
Gij zult niet stelen click to hear