02 November, 2012

The All Saints Flood of 1570

 Drawing: Hans Moser, Scheldt Flood, 1570(wiki)
As we look at the images of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast USA his week, here's a reminder of a devastating 16thC flood in Holland which took place this week in 1570.  This was the All Saints' Flood (Allerheiligenvloed) which may have killed 20,000 in Holland and neighbouring countries, leaving many more thousands homeless.
In fact there are a series of All Saints' (Aller Heiligen) floods along the North Sea coasts of Holland, Belgium, and Germany,  all taking place on or around 1st November, All Saints Day. Others took place in 1170, 1532, 1675 and most recently in 2006.

 The 1570 flood took place at a critical point in the history of the Netherlands. Tax reforms had led to increasing dissatisfaction with the rule of the Spanish king Philip II and his governor, and the flood only compounded the general feelings of unrest.

By 1581 the Dutch Republic had been formed and the foundations were being laid for the Dutch golden age of exploration and influence. Although Elizabeth I of the England sent troops under Robert Dudey to assist the Dutch against the Spanish, England and Holland would end up in conflict as Dutch naval power grew in the 17thC.