Neptune and the Netherlands

State, Economy, and War at Sea in the Renaissance


This book investigates how the rulers of the Habsburg world empire developed and implemented a central maritime policy for the Netherlands and appointed an admiral of the sea or admiral-general for that purpose. It also explains why the Habsburgs were eventually unable to gain control of the maritime affairs of the Netherlands, in spite of the support of the powerful Burgundian Lords of Veere, who occupied the central position of admiral from 1491 to 1558. From their power base on the island of Walcheren in Zeeland, known as the key to the Netherlands at the time because of its central location between Holland, Flanders, Antwerp and the sea, they held an ideal vantage point for exercising the admiralship. The result not only offers an illuminating insight into the organisation of the war fleet, maritime trade and fishery, privateering and prize law in the Habsburg Netherlands, but also puts the success of the later Dutch Republic in a new perspective.

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Louis H.J. Sicking, DEA (1990) Histoire d'outre-mer, University of the Provence (Aix), Ph.D. (1996) in History, University of Leiden, is Lecturer and postdoctoral Fellow in History at the University of Leiden. He has published mainly on the history of the Netherlands, on maritime history and on the history of European Expansion.
"...a solid account of the Habsburg foundations on which the Dutch Admiralties were able to build." James D. Tracy, Bijdragen en Mededlingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, 2005. "...nicht allein für diejenigen Historiker interessant, die sich mit der Geschichte der Seekriegsführung beschäftigen, sondern auch für diejenigen, die sich mit Prozessen der Staatsbildung befassen." M. van Tielhof, Hansische Geschichtsblätter, 2005. "…a major contribution to historical study…a distinguished demonstration of scholarship and a major contribution to the field of maritime history…" John B. Hattendorf, International Journal of Maritime History. "…important contribution to early modern maritime history…Highly recommended." G.D. Homan, Choice, 2005. "...fine work with a strong case for the lasting influence of Hapsburg policies in giving the Netherlands a wider worldview... this work is a real asset. It covers with meticulous care the diverse influences that created one of the great maritime powers in Europe...very successful in blending military concerns with those of general public policy and process." Charlie R. Steen, Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. LVIII, No. 2, 2005.
Notes on conventions List of Plates and Maps List of Tables and Figures Abbreviations Chronology Preface Introduction 1. Chronological and geographical limits 2. Historiography 3. Sources: une mer à boire 4. Points of departure Chapter One The seabound Netherlands Introduction 1. Flanders: origin of Admiralty 2. Holland: maritime power in Western Europe 3. Zeeland: power base of the Lords of Veere Conclusion Chapter Two Ordinances and admirals Introduction 1. The Ordinance on the Admiralty of 1488 2. Admirals and vice-admirals, 1488–1558 3. Holland’s attack on the Admiralty 4. The Ordinance on the Admiralty of 1540 Conclusion Chapter Three Defence of the fisheries Introduction 1. Fishery: proportions and changes 2. Defence of Flanders’ fishery, 1488–1547 3. Defence of Holland’s fishery, 1488–1547 4. Defence of Zeeland’s fishery, 1488–1547 5. Cooperation between the provinces, 1547–1558 Conclusion Chapter Four Commerce and dynasty Introduction 1. The route to the East: the offensive solution 2. The route to the West: the defensive solution 3. Protection of the routes to the East and to the West in 1557 Conclusion Chapter Five Strategy and dynasty Introduction 1. The Zuider Zee 2. Coastal defence 3. Passage between the Netherlands and Spain 4. England as a base and ally 5. Strategy and honour Conclusion Chapter Six Towards a permanent war fleet Introduction 1. Organisation and finance 2. The war fleet 3. The crew 4. Veere: naval base of the Habsburg Netherlands Conclusion Chapter Seven Privateering and Admiralty Introduction 1. Privateering 2. Admiralty 3. Order and discipline Conclusion Conclusion Glossary Bibliography Index
All those interested in political, institutional, economic and maritime history, the history of the Netherlands and Belgium, the history of the Habsburg empire, the history of naval warfare and the history of prize law.