- Written by L.C.Geerts
- font size decrease font size increase font size
The St. Elizabeth flood (November 18, 1421) or the collapse of the Hollandsche Waard
Dordrecht Ancient Capital of Holland
|Coat of arms of the County of Holland||Coat of arms of Dordrecht|
As long as people live in the delta of the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt rivers they were plagued by floods. subsidence of the soil and the rise of the sea, not surprising in a country which has always been largely below sea level.
After the floods which take place around 250 AD, the deltas of the Lowlands became too unsafe to live there. Until around the year 900 almost the entire delta region was an uninhabitable swamp (due to the, so called, third Dunkirk transgression of the sea level). After 900 fishermen and shepherds inhabited the area, this would be the beginning of Holland as a separate county, though the "new" lands were at first (called West-Frisia, even as Zeeland and southern part of present North-Holland) used as a food source (fish) for the young diocese of Utrecht.
After the storm floods of 1014, 1134 and 1170 (during the latter flood the Zuiderzee in West Frisia was formed) they started to build dykes around the highest lands. In the centuries after conquering even new polders and salt marshes and mud flats. Quarrels about who had to pay the maintenance of the dykes runs like a thread through the history of the deltas.
The "Hollandsche Waard" (Waard = low-lying land with dikes around) was an agriculture area in Holland on the north-border of North-Brabant. The actual Groote Waard came into existence in 1283, after the damming of the river Meuse at Heusden and Maasdam was completed and the establishment of a ring dyke was finished. It was a wet area, North of the Merwe riverbed clay layers, at the southern parts peat-lands. The Groote Waard was faced with several storms and river floods.
Before 1421 the Hollandsche Waard was a region of about 50,000 morgen, (a piece of land which could be plowed in one morning) or 42,500 acres construction and pastures ground. the area had a ring dyke, in the 12th century (by 1200 is already spoken of Dordrechtsche Weerd), and there must have been an embankment there.
At the end of 1421 a disaster occurred which would have great impact on the further history of Holland and Zeeland and as special for Dordrecht, the Capital of Holland and its surroundings. During the night of 18th on 19th November 1421 a heavy storm at the North Sea coast caused the dykes to break in a number of places and the lower lying polder land of parts of Zeeland and the "Hollandsche Waard" by Dordrecht were flooded. A number of hamlets and villages around Dordrecht were swallowed by the flood and were lost, causing the enormous quantity of about 6,000 casualties.
The result of this disaster was that Dordrecht lost his hinterlands and last but not least his importance as Capital of Holland, due to the fact that the city was fully surrounded by water, for decades, and could only be reached by water. Nevertheless the power of the city was not yet come to an end for the coming centuries.
The Hollandsche Waard before the flood
The Hollandsche Waard was bounded to the north by the river Merwede (from Dordrecht to Woudrichem), to the east by the Meuse (from Woudrichem to Heusden), to the south by the old border between the County of Holland and the Ducky of Brabant, the line from 's-Gravenmoer via Geertruidenberg and Strijensche Zwaluwe to the Maasdam.
Coat of arms of the Hollandsche waard, the four quarters represent the four historical territories (click to enlarge)
The first quarter is the weapon of Holland. The second quarter is the coat of arms of Bavaria, the Bavarian Land area, the northern and southwestern part of the Hoeksche waard. The third quarter is the coat of arms of Dordrecht. The fourth quarter is the weapon of Strijen, since a large part of the Hoeksche waard belonged to the Lordship Strijen. The crown and griffin are taken from the coat of arms of Dordrecht, which portrays the importance as Capital of Holland, the lions are the shield holders of the arms of Holland.
The Hollandsche Waard was divided in three parts
- The Tysselins (or Tiesselins) Waard
- The Dordrechtsche Waard
- The Groote Waard
1. The Tysselins Waard : West of the Dordrechtsche Waard, between the present river Old Meuse and the former rivers Dubbel and Binnenmaas to Maasdam and north of the Groote Waard.
In the Tysselins Waard were situated Leyderkerke ('s Gravendeel), Maasdam, Poelwijk, Nesse, Wolbrantskerke, Tiesselinskerke, de Mijl and other hamlet and villages.
2. The Dordrechtsche Waard : East of the Tijsselins Waard and North of the Groote Waard, bounded by the former river Binnenmaas (Damped Meuse).
In the Dordrechtsche Waard were situated the city of Dordrecht, Dubbeldam, the monasteries of Heisterbach and Eemstein and many hamlets and villages with or without castles, such as Merwede, Crayestein, Old Sliedrecht, Lang Ambacht, Giessenmonde, Kort Ambacht, Houweningen Werkendam, Tolleusen (Touloysen), Erkentrudeskerke, Almsvoet and others.
3. The Groote Waard : South of the Binnenmaas was a dyked area, bounded by a dyke to Strijen, Geertruidenberg and from there back to the Maasdam.
In the Groote Waard (south of the Binnenmaas) were ssituated the city of Geertruidenberg and many hamlets and villages, such as Strijense Swaluwe, Broec, Strijen, Zillaershoeck, Weede, Wieldrecht, Twintighoeven, Dubbelmonde, Almonde and others.
De Hollandsche Waard included the areas now known as :
The area was generally bounded by, from the east : The Damped Meuase, from Heusden to Woudrichem, the Upper and Lower Merwede (Merwe) to Dordrecht and the Old Meuse to Hoecke (Puttershoek). Through the Hoeksche waard roughly along the line Puttershoek - Maasdam - Strijen - Moerdijk.
From east to west : The Land of Heusden and Altena, the Biesbosch and the Island of Dordrecht and the eastern part of the Hoeksche Waard. South of this whole stretch the current border with North-Brabant, approximately from Heusden to Moerdijk.
Map of the Hollandsche Waard shortly before the St. Elisabeth flood (click to enlarge)
Besides the cities of Dordrecht and Geertruidenberg, the Hollandsche Waard had a large number of church villages and hamlets. Some of them still exist : Dubbeldam (at present day part of Dordrecht), 's Grevelduin-Capelle or Sprang-Capelle (at present day part of Waalwijk), Hoecke (Puttershoek), Hooge Zwaluwe, Lage Zwaluwe, Maasdam, Strijen (rebuilt elsewhere) and Werkendam.
Causes of the flood
The disaster that took place in 1421 in the Hollandsche Waard has a history of myopia which plays an important role. In the vast polder, which was created around 1157 (during the reign of Florence III, 1141-1190, Count of West-Frisia and Holland 1157-1190) and which extends between Dordrecht, Geertruidenberg, Heusden and Gorinchem, there eventually was a deep divisions among the population. Each group was seeking its own advantage and dyke maintenance was neglected. During the fourteenth century there are a few dyke breaks in Werkendam and to the south of Dordrecht.
There was no money for a thorough dyke maintenance because it was used for the "war budget", needed for the Hook and Cod wars which divided the county of Holland. An example of these "civil" wars was that in 1417 the Countess Jacoba of Bavaria (Hooks party) declared war to Dordrecht because they sided with her uncle, Duke John III of Bavaria (Cods party), In 1420 troops from Dordrecht, as Capital of Holland (at that time centre of the Cods) attacked Geertruidenberg (a city of the Hooks) and changed the town into a mess.
On the seafront, near Strijen and Zevenbergen, outside the dykes, the people themselves not only neglected the maintenance of the dykes but also downright undermined the dykes, because in that region the "salt nuts" was an important source of livelihood. People digging out the peat soil on either side of the sea-dykes and burn it for use of the salt that remained. The deep wells, which arose in the salt nuts, became a major threat to the dykes, but not everyone wants to admit this.
Shortly before the flood the Lord of Putten and Strijen, Jacob van Abcoude (1391-1459), at that time a member of the Hook party, had a prolonged conflict with the city of Dordrecht (Cods) about the salt nuts, on October 16, 1421, it is said, the dispute was settled and determined was that the wells did not endanger the safety of the dykes (in the accounts of the city of Dordrecht is spoken of as settled for 1 year).
But within a month the opposite was showed, the sea broke through the weak dykes near Broeck and an unprecedented disaster affected the once prosperous Hollandsche Waard. The sea-arm Hollands Diep was created and the most parts of the Hollandsche Waard disappeared in the waves. During and after the St. Elisabeth Flood (1421), the entire Groote Waard flooded. The north and the south part of the area are now separated by water, called the Biesbosch, the Island of Dordrecht, the east side of the "Hoeksche Waard" and parts of North-Brabant.
During the Flood
In the night of November 19, 1421, the feast day of St. Elizabeth, a disastrous northwester storm battered the coasts of Holland and Zeeland. Earlier, in 1404, and later, in 1424, there are storms that are named for this saint, but none was as devastating as the St. Elizabeth flood of 1421. The storm has terrible consequences because the water between the islands of Zeeland and South Holland was pushed inland.
The inundation of the Hollandsche Waard, on 18 November 1421, was induced by the seawater from the south-west en the waters of the river Merwede from the north, all the lands between the Merwede and the dykes south of the Binnenmaas between the Meuse and the Maasdam. Particularly the salt waters from the south-west brought devastation as can be proved by witnesses of several people but also by official city accounts. "The flood was caused due to a North-western storm around midnight by high tide (not springtide), six days before the new moon".
Jan Engbrechtszoon was the first who, in the early morning of the feast day of St. Elizabeth on 19 November, heard the bells of the great Church of Dordrecht pealing. Panicked he ran into the street, from everywhere the citizens of Dort came forth, in the dark they ran to the city gates and climbed on the walls, To their amazement they saw masses of water as far as their eyes could see.
The whole of the Dordrechtse waard, the Tysselinswaard, and the Groote or Zuid Hollandsche Waard was under water. The monks of the monastery of Eemstein and Heisterbach were beaten in the flight and saw horrific things on their grueling journey to Dordrecht: drowned cows appear, whole families on floating roofs. And a cradle with a child in it, and one cat out desperately to jump back and forth rocking the cradle to save it.
The Hollandsche Waard during the St. Elisabeth flood, painting 1470 by Master of the Elisabeth panels now at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (click to enlarge)
In the city of Dordrecht was great consternation, the water stood on the walls and gates (the walls appeared to be watertight), only a small part outside the dyke at the North Gate was still spared, but all the lands to the Castle "Huis te Merwede" was washed away. How many victims the disaster caused is not in an approach to say, but it must have been thousands.
Who had chance to flee, fled to Dordrecht or Geertruidenberg, but many drowned with homes and property in the waves. Several noble families were by the loss of their property plunged in such poverty that they were forced to seek for employment in the foreign or to beg their bread. Dordrecht prevailed but the water stood on the walls, as far as the eye could see a sea, the previously lush meadows covered by water. Only a small portion dyke outside the North Gate, was the only excursion that Dordtenaren itself, long afterwards, could afford. As much as possible was tried to save the city from the waters, using immense sums of money. The current Biesbosch is still the memory of this storm disaster.
Accusing fingers were pointed to the farmers, angry that the dykes would have been pierced, or to the proud Dordtenaren who had left in the lurch their country lady, Countess Jacoba of Bavaria in 1417, and now received the punishment of God. But the real cause was poor maintenance of the natural levees and irresponsible digging of peat with the agreement of Jacob van Abcoude (1391-1459), Lord of Strijen and Stadtholder of Holland (one of the richest Nobles of Holland in the early 15th century).
After the Flood
Map of the Biesbosch, by Jacob en Pietsser Sluyter, 1572
Since 1421 the former Hollandsche Waard between Dordrecht and Geertruidenberwas was changed in an immense expanse of water, but nature benefited, because in the floodplain nature was formed during the decades some small islands came up, covered with rushes here and there, and was called the Biesbosch, but more to the south with the name of the Bergsche Field, though soon after the disaster efforts were made to recover the lost land, particularly because the city of Dordrecht could not lack its rich hinterland.
After the first shock, the restoration of the dykes was forcefully addressed. But in 1424 a storm surge again struck the Groote Waard. The damage was so great that was decided to leave the Groote Waard to her fate. The scars of the disaster were for centuries visible.
Dordrecht as Venice of the North
Dordrecht was from that time on fully surrounded by water and could not longer be reached by land and permanently separated the cities of Geertruydenberg and Dordrecht (which had previously fought against each other during the Hook and Cod (civil) wars) to the south. To the north and west Dordrecht was separated from "Ijsselmonde" and the "Hoekse waard". Most of the area remained flooded for several decades. Reclaimed parts of the "Groote Waard" became the Island of Dordrecht, the "Hoeksche Waard" and north-western North Brabant (around Geertruidenberg). The mayor part is flooded since and is now called The Dordrechtse and Brabantse Biesbosch which became a National park in the 1990s.
Map of Dordrecht after the St. Elisabeth flood (1575), in the 16th century still surrounded by water (click to enlarge)
Ground plan of Dordrecht in 1581 (click to enlarge)
Help was promised soon, John III of Bavaria, then Count of Holland, came to Dordrecht in person to view the damage and promised to cooperate to a quickly re-dyke the areas. Most of the prominent cities of Holland, even Hooks or Cods, promised financial assistance.
John III ordered on April 6, 1422 that within eight days the start of repairing the dykes jointly and declared the land of unwilling forfeited if not was corporated with the city of Dordrecht. The unwilling were mainly those of Heusden, Altena, Sprang, 's Gravenmoer, Bezooien, and that reluctance, combined with the sad time conditions, which caused the embankments progressed very slowly. The cities Haarlem, Delft, Leiden, Amsterdam and Gouda donated a sum of 2,500 Bavarian guilders to maintain the dykes, Several years later Duke Philip of Burgundy (the successor of John of Bavaria) in November 1425 promised a sum of 28,000 crowns but nothing came and from time to time only small parts of land was reclaimed, The total embankment of the former Waard was in general impossible, the country, largely composed of peat land was too deep to leave country silting provisionally possible.
It took until 1467 before on the east side the land of Altena was reclaimed and in 1471 to west new dykes were build at Old Bonaventure. At the Merwede side the dykes were destroyed by the waters and there the lands were not recovered. The lost hamlets, villages, monasteries etc. were replaced by government fees, (says Vossius) "shall do it partly hoping that they (the owners) with even greater courage maintain the dykes" . The monks of the monastery Eemstein obtained at the Devel in the Zwijndrechtse Waard land to rebuild their monastery. The monastery of Heisterbach was lost forever. The Castles Crayestein and Huis te Merwede became ruins while Crayestein was totally lost.
De Biesbosch shortly before the completion of the Delta works in 1965
In the decades after the Great Flood the Groote Waard changed slowly to the Biesbosch. Raised sand and silt from the Merwede river led to the formation of sandbars and marshes. When the Haringvlietss dam and the Delta Works were completed in 1968, the Biesbosch changed from a brackish water in an inland freshwater lake.
In the centuries to come the area to the east, called the Biesbosch, slowly raised above the water level through siltation. The history of about, in total, 72 villages, hamlets and monasteries were swept away by the water. Only forty were later rebuilt though a lot of them not on the same spot. The entire flooded area was changed considerably and the course of the rivers changed forever. From that time on the city of Dordrecht was situated on an island, fully surrounded by the great rivers of Holland (Merwede, Meuse, Dordtsche Kil and Hollands Diep).
The border river flows are nowadays still more or less at the same place. In the Hoeksche Waard is still a piece of dyke, which once formed part of the ring dyke of the Groote Waard. The southern border, now North Brabant territory is extremely blurred. The area is now crossed by the Bergsche Meuse, Amer, Dordtsche Kil and New Merwede channel (The channel was digged between 1861 and 1874, to gave faster drain to the waters from the Upper Merwede (Waal).
The Groote waard at present day, a large part is now National park The Biesbosch
Drowned Hamlets and Villages
Of some hamlets and villages were traces found in excavations, from others only the name survived. There is said that 72 villages drowned during the St. Elisabeth flood but I could trace a total of 48.
|29 drowned hamlets/villages on the north bank of the Damped Meuse|
|Alloysen||Exact location not known|
|Almstein||Exact location not known|
|Almsvoet||At the north-border of the Damped Meuse, between Erkentrudekerke and Eemkerk in the Tijsselinswaard.|
|Annekerke||Exact location not known|
|Aeryntswaert||At the north-border of the Damped Meuse, between Eemskerke and Dussen in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Crayensteijn||Or Kraayenstein Castle or Fortress, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard between Sliedrecht and Giessenmonde|
|De Mijl||Near Dubbeldam, now part of Dordrecht, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Tijsselinswaard|
|Dordsmonde||Existence not proven|
|Eemskerk||Or Eemkerk, at the north-border of the Damped Meuse, a small village at the river Eem, betweem Almsvoet and Aeryntswaert in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Eemsteijn||A Monastery, at the north-border of the Damped Meuse in the Dordrechtsche waard. The monastery was founded in 1377 by Reinoud Johan Minnebodeszoon, a Dordtenaar who, with permission of Albrecht of Bavaria, founded a monastery on his own purchased land. The monastery would fulfill an important role in the south-west of the Netherlands. The monastery was on the contemporary Biesbosch area, near the village Eemkerk and served as Augustijner-monastery. The bishop of Utrecht Floris van Wevelinkhoven (1315-1393) recognized Eemsteijn as monastery in 1382|
|Erkentrudekerke||Or Erkentrude, at the border of the river Dubbel in the Dordrechtsche waard, for the first time mentioned in 1240, the parish church belongs to the chapter of St. John in Utrecht and would have been part of Toloysen. Possibly, the church survived the Elisabeth Flood for some time and have done service to early 15th century. The village would have located on the river Dubbel which after the flood became a quagmire. In 1990 archeologists encountered a mass grave to the south of the district of Dubbeldam, now Dordrecht. Here were found 90 graves in the area known as the Mokveld which now serves as a football field. The researchers believe that this was the remains of the village Erkentrude|
|Giessenmonde||Between Lang Ambacht and Kort Ambacht, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Gregenmonde||Exact location not known|
|Hardeverd||Exact location not known|
|Heysterbach||The monastery Heysterbach was founded in 1203 by Aleida of Cleves-Holland, the wife of Count Dirk VII of Holland, who died that same year. According to a legend, the marriage between Aleida's daughter Ada of Holland and Louis II of Loon have taken place in this monastery. The monastery was in the 13th century known as one of the principal in the County of Holland. The most revenue came from fisheries. During the Flood of 1421, 24 monks drowned. Some knew and sought to save a shelter in Dordrecht. The monastery was situated at the mouth of the river Merwe between Castle "Merwe" (later Huis te Merwede) at Dordrecht and Old-Sliedrecht in de Dordrechtsche waard, at the location of the modern chemical factory of DuPont in Dordrecht|
|Houweningen||Houweningen, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard, which was first mentioned in 1105, had a parish church and an average population of about 50 people. The village was south of Hardinxveld and was drowned during the St. Elisabeth Flood. In 1983 there was debris in the middle of a beet field in the north part of the Biesbosch. They had not suspected that the village had a church but they found a stone wall|
|Kort-Abacht||Between Giessenmonde and Houweningen, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Kruiskerke||Near Wolbrandskerke in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Lang-Ambacht||Between Crayensteijn and Giessenmonde, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Ledekerke||Existence not proven, probable the same as Leijderkerke in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Leijderkerke||Between Maasdam and Tiesselinskerke, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Merwede||Existence not proven|
|Nesse||Between Leijderkerke and Tijsselinskerke, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard|
|Poelwijk||Existence not proven|
|Sliedrecht||Or Old Sliedrecht, between Dordrecht and Crayensteijn, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard, not to be confused with Over Sliedrecht which is now called Sliedrecht|
|Tiesselingskerke||Or Tijsselinskerke, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Tiesselins waard|
|Toloysen||Or Toileusen, situated near Erkentrudekerke in the Dordrechtsche waard. In 1286, the locality was for the first time in church chronicles mentioned. In 1316 Rikhout Noordeloos was granted the fief of Tolloysen from the Count of Holland. Around 1350 Dirck van der Merwede receive the area as a legacy, but sees nothing in the heritage and sells it to Count Albrecht of Bavaria. However, one of his sons Daniel used title Lord of Tolloysen. In 1357 a church was founded called St. Nicholas Church, probably built of brick and half wood. There is a religious conflict with the nearby church-village Erkentrudekerke which find the expansion of the Dordrecht angle very stale. The church would not have existed long (possibly ± 40 years), which the parishioners had to go to the church in Erkentrudekerke. After the flood of 1421 the villages lost their right to exist and in 1452 appeared a charter that the hope of rehabilitation for certain was excluded. The history of Toloysen started in the 12th century and was located at the south-east side of the city of Dordrecht, probably near the south border of the Wantij. The village is so far not been found|
|Werken||Between Werkendam and Woudrichem, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Land of Altena|
|Wolfbrantskerke||Wolbrands or Wolfrandskerke is a former church-village, situated at the borders of the Merwe in the Dordrechtsche waard near Dordrecht. The village was situated on the west side of the river Dubbel. Two living mounds or village settlements were found, remains were found in the neighborhood of the modern districts of Zuidhoven, Sterrenburg I, II and Crabbenhof in Dordrecht. In 2006 and 2007 excavations were made in the north-east area of the station Dordrecht-Zuid on the outer area of the current pool "Acapulco". Found were parts of a church and a cemetery. There was also a wooden foundation found. Remarkable is that the small cemetery contains many female bodies. By the excavations a total of 110 skeletons were found.|
|19 drowned hamlets/villages on the south bank of the Damped Meuse|
|Achthoeven||Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Almonde||Between Dubbelmonde and Drimmelen, on the south border of the Damped Meuse, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Broeck||On the South-west dyke of the Groote waard, about the spot where the Moerdijk bridges are now situated, on the bottom of the Hollands Diep river|
|Drimmelen||Or Driemijlen, between Almonde and Standhazen on the south bank of the Damped Meuse, the second Drimmelen is still designated as "Old Drimmelen the third Drimmelen is nowadays no more than a marina|
|Dubbelmonde||Between Twintighoeven and Almonde, on the south border of the Damped Meuse in the Groote waard|
|Giessen||Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Herradeskerke||Or Herrade. Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Hoekenesse||Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Leerambacht||Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Oudeland||Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Strijen||On the north-western part of the Groote waard, after the Dordtse Kil came into existence after the flood part of the Hoeksche waard, later rebuild|
|Strijensche Zwaluwe||On the South-west dyke of the Groote waard, near Broek, about the spot where the Moerdijk bridges are now situated|
|Standhasen||Between Almonde and Geertruidenberg, on a southern arm of the Demped Meuse, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Twintighoeven||Between Wieldrecht and Dubbelmonde, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Vorensater||Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Weede||On the north-western part of the Groote waard, after the Dordtse Kil came into existence after the flood part of the Hoeksche waard. The survived citizens of Weede fled to the nearby village Cillaarshoek, a piece of dyke north of current Strijen in the Hoeksche waard. Their descendants still live there. Near Weede, directly on the southern border of the damped Meuse a strategically important large castle stood, built in the beginning of the 13th century, with a floor plan of 50 x 75 meters and was probably the largest castle in Holland at that time. The remains of this castle were discovered in 1957. Some wall remains to a height of 1.50 meters is still valid. The village was also in possession of a church with a related spiritual. The village Broek fell within the parish of Weede|
|Werkenmonde||Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
|Wieldrecht||Between Weede and Dubbelmonde on the south border of the damped Meuse|
|Zillaershoeke||Exact location not known, on the bottom of the present Biesbosch area|
- J.L. van Dalen: De St. Elisabethsvloed na vijf eeuwen herdacht; uitgave 1925
- J.L. Terwen: Het Koningrijk der Nederlanden; uitgave 1858
- W. Nijman: De ramen der Grote Kerk van Dordrecht
- Rien Allewijn: Een zee van water, 1983
Stories and Legends of the St. Elisabeth flood
Several stories has survived, common after a dramatic event, in which details about the flood are told.
One story goes as follows :
The wealth of the Groote Waard had became proverbial in Holland, it was told (van Spaen and other writers) that the inhabitants were so wealthy that nothing was to expensive, they owned many gold and silver jewelry and even golden and silver spurs. The Hollandsche Waard was used as a large store shed for the city of Dordrecht, Geertruidenberg and the whole of Holland.
Vossius writes in his Yearbooks (17th century) "72 villages, with so many churches, were gobbled by the waters, the tower-tops were nearly invisible the next day, during the night when all the people slept they were surprised by the waters. Who calculate the lowest amount of casualties tells that 100,000 drowned by the waters. The family van der Merwede was one of the Nobles who were beaten hard by the waters, they lost all their properties, together with other Lower-Nobility and were forced to beg for their bread. Mayor Heyman van Blijenburg of Dordrecht aided the Lower-Nobility as well as other important families".
Another story goes as follows :
During the flood a cradle with a child and an inventious cat hopped from one side to the other to balance the cradle in the water. Some says that the cradle washed at Kinderdijk, a village situated to the north of Dordrecht, but that's unlikely because with a North-western storm the cradle could not drift to the north. Others mentions the village of Houweningen in the Dordrechtsche Waard but that is also unlikely because the village was one of the first who drowned forever.
Van Spaen writes that the cradle landed at the Vuilpoort in Dordrecht but that is also far from proven, nevertheless the child arrived at Dordrecht and was take care of by an unnamed family and was raised by the name of Beatrix (the happy one). Mathijs Balen (17th century) writes that Beatrix later married to a wealthy Dort's family.
Balen says that Beatrice later married Jacob Roerom and became the matriarch of a distinguished Dordts family. It is also recorded that Beatrix itself had a golden cross around her neck when she was rescued. they say that On the cross her arms was engraved. This is strange, because that weapon had been able to determine her origin. At that time, it claims, a cord blood coral with a golden cross from her rest with a preacher at Biervlietss. Besides the child not many residents were saved. Only some, which ships and with their hands, were spared. But Pietsser Dirksz and his wife and son Dirk, floating on a beam of a house survived and, says Balen, his son Dirk became a significant gender and progenitor of an important Dordrecht family.