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The Ostend Story

Early Tales of the Great Siege and the Mediating Role of Henrick van Haestens

Anna E.C. Simoni

After the famous 'Battle of Nieuwpoort' in West Flanders in 1600, another feat of arms was to follow in the same area: the Siege of Ostend, which lasted from 1601 to 1604. Maurits was, yet again, to play the leading role and, despite the fact that the outcome was less of a success for the young Republic of the Seven United Netherlands than the battle of Nieuwpoort had been, the result was a Spanish conquest of a city of total devastation and, by then, wholly depopulated. Nevertheless a considerable impression had been made upon the Northern Netherlands. The most weird and wonderful machines of war had been tested, whilst a variety of new military siege techniques had been brought into play. There was even talk of 'the University of Ostend', with the implication that, from a military perspective, the siege was a very instructive experience. Many, too, were the rumours and the garbled tales that began to circulate soon after the end of the affair. One example was the legend of the soldier in the Spanish army who appeared to be a woman. In this book, Dr. Simoni provides a detailed and stimulating account of the manner of, and the form by which the tales of these shocking occurrences arose soon after the events of the siege had been set down, and immediately went into print after the details had reached the North. These reports were to leave such a lasting impression in the Republic, that 'Ostend' became one of the most well known feats of arms in the penultimate stages of the struggle for freedom from Spain. The book is, thus, a brilliant example of the received history of one of the most controversial events of the Eighty Years War. The role of the Leiden printer and publisher, Hendrick van Haestens, stands central to 'the Ostend Story'. He provides accounts of the fighting in no less than three publications. Dr. Simoni, in this study, reaches the conclusion that Haestens' reports are deserving of a more important place than they have found thus far. It is mainly to him that we owe the provision of a clear and lively picture of the famous siege.
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Anna E.C. Simoni

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Anna E.C. Simoni

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Anna E.C. Simoni

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Anna E.C. Simoni

Abstract

Between the beginning of 1614 and early May of the same year two issues of a book appeared at Haarlem containing the poems presented at a rhetoricians' contest held there the previous August. The first issue, entitled Nootwendich Vertoogh der alleen-suyverende Springh-Ader aller kinderen Gods, was published by David Wachtendonck and dedicated by him to the dignitaries of that city. Two variants exist of the second issue, entitled Der Reden-rijcken Springh-Ader, with the name of either Daniel de Keyser or Pieter Arentsz in the imprint. This new issue in the main retains Wachtendonck's dedication, although it is known that Pieter Arentsz also published a substitute dedication to the same dignitaries composed by the rhetoricians' chamber De Wijngaert-rancken which had organised the contest. The device of a fourth Haarlem publisher, i.e. Vincent Casteleyn, which occurs on the title-pages of the second issues serves to complicate matters further. The article attempts to disentangle this confusion by analysing the dedications and suggests that Casteleyn was the printer of the work in all its guises.

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Anna E.C. Simoni

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Anna E.C. Simoni

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Anna E. C. Simoni

Abstract

Little is known of the books belonging to private owners in eighteenth-century Antwerp. This article describes the library of one of the prelates of the city; numerous other studies will have to be published before a reliable overview can be provided. Before he was appointed Bishop of Antwerp in 1758 Hendrik Gabriël van Gameren had been a professor in the Theological Faculty of Louvain University. In this capacity he had, among other things, collaborated on the new edition of 'Duhamel's Bible' (Louvain 1740). Otherwise Van Gameren played no distinguished part in society either as a professor or as a bishop. He was however a close friend of the highest official in the country, Patrice-François de Neny; it seems very probable that he shared the latter's Jansenist convictions. There are two documents which allow us an insight into his collection of books: a printed auction catalogue (Louvain 1775) and the ledger of the Louvain auctioneer-bookseller Jan Frans van Overbeke. The latter organised the auction of Van Gameren's library and carefully noted in a register the names of buyers and the prices obtained. He furthermore indicated which of the titles in the catalogue had really belonged to Van Gameren. These sources disclose that Van Gameren possessed a scholarly library of only limited extent (550 titles) which consisted almost exclusively of theological, church-historical and canon law books. The authors most represented were Karel van den Abeele, J.B. Thiers and Louis Maimbourg. But polemical literature concerning the Jesuit problem and Jansenism was also widely represented. The books were mostly of Southern Netherlandish and French origin. It is further noticeable that they are mostly recent works, especially in Latin or French, far fewer in Dutch. And although the Bishop's exlibris is known, he does not appear to have been a true bibliophile. The limited and single-track nature of the collection and the complete absence of any works in connexion with the Enlightenment lead to the assumption that the Bishop's heirs did not send his complete library to auction. To gain a definite answer to this we would have to dispose of an estate inventory. Regrettably no such document has been preserved.