By Verhaegen

Michiel de Ruyter


Michiel de Ruyter (born Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter)
24 March 1607 – 29 April 1676
Bol, Michiel de Ruyter.jpg
Michiel de Ruyter painted by Ferdinand Bol in 1667
Nickname Bestevaêr
Place of birth Flushing, Zeeland, Dutch Republic
Place of death Bay of Syracuse (Fatally wounded by a cannonball during the Battle of Agosta)
Resting place Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam
Allegiance Dutch Republic
Service/branch Navy
Years of service 1637–1676
Battles/wars First Anglo-Dutch War
Battle of Plymouth
Battle of the Kentish Knock
Battle of Dungeness
Battle of Portland
Battle of the Gabbard
Battle of Scheveningen
Second Anglo-Dutch War
Four Days Battle
St. James’s Day Battle
Raid on the Medway
Third Anglo-Dutch War
Battle of Solebay
Battle of Schooneveld
Franco-Dutch War
Battle of Texel
Battle of Stromboli
Battle of Agosta

Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter (Dutch pronunciation: [mɪɣɪɛl ɑdrɪanson də rœytər] ) (24 March 1607 – 29 April 1676) is the most famous and one of the most skilled admirals in Dutch history. De Ruyter is most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He fought the English and French and scored several major victories against them, the best known probably being the Raid on the Medway. The pious De Ruyter was very much loved by his sailors and soldiers; from them his most significant nickname derived: Bestevaêr (older Dutch for ‘grandfather’.)


Early life

De Ruyter was born in 1607 in Flushing (Vlissingen) as the son of beer porter Adriaen Michielszoon and Aagje Jansdochter[1] Little is known about De Ruyter’s early life, but he probably became a sailor at the age of 11. In 1622 he fought as a musketeer in the Dutch army under Maurice of Nassau against the Spaniards during the relief of Bergen-op-Zoom. That same year he rejoined the Dutch merchant fleet and steadily worked his way up. According to English sources he was active in Dublin between 1623 and 1631 as an agent for the Vlissingen-based merchant house of the Lampsins brothers. Although Dutch sources have no data about his whereabouts in those years, it is known that De Ruyter spoke Irish fluently. He would occasionally travel as supercargo to the Mediterranean or the Barbary Coast. In those years he usually referred to himself as “Machgyel Adriensoon”, his name in the Zealandic dialect he spoke, not having yet adopted the name “De Ruyter”. “De Ruyter” most probably was a nickname given to him. An explanation might be found in the meaning of the older Dutch verb ruyten or ruiten which means “to raid”, something De Ruyter was known to do as a privateer with the Lampsins ship Den Graeuwen Heynst.

In 1631 he married a farmer’s daughter named Maayke Velders. The marriage lasted until the end of the year 1631 when Maayke died after giving birth to a daughter who followed her mother in death three weeks later.[2]

In 1633 and 1635 De Ruyter sailed as a navigating officer aboard the ship Groene Leeuw (Green Lion) on whaling expeditions to Jan Mayen. At this point he did not yet have a command of his own. In the summer of 1636 he remarried, this time to a daughter of a wealthy burgher named Neeltje Engels, who would give him four children. One of these died shortly after birth, the others were named Adriaen (1637), Neeltje (1639) and Aelken (1642).

In the midst of this, in 1637, De Ruyter became captain of a private ship meant to hunt for raiders operating from Dunkirk who were preying on Dutch merchant shipping. He fulfilled this task until 1640. After sailing for a while as schipper (skipper) of a merchant vessel named de Vlissinge, he was contacted again by the Zeeland Admiralty to become captain of the Haze, a merchant ship turned man-of-war carrying 26 guns in a fleet under admiral Gijsels fighting the Spanish, teaming up with the Portuguese during their rebellion.

A Dutch fleet, with De Ruyter as third in command, beat back a Spanish-Dunkirker fleet in an action off Cape St Vincent on 4 November 1641. After returning he bought his own ship, the Salamander, and between 1642 and 1652, he mainly traded and travelled to Morocco and the West Indies to amass wealth as a merchant. During this time his esteem grew among other Dutch captains as he would regularly free Christian slaves by redeeming them at his own expense.

In 1650 De Ruyter’s wife, who in 1649 had given him a second son named Engel, unexpectedly died. On 8 January 1652 he married the widow Anna van Gelder and decided the time had come to retire. He bought a house in Flushing, but his blissful family life would not last long.

First Anglo-Dutch War

During the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652–1654), De Ruyter was asked to join the expanding fleet as a subcommander of a Zealandic squadron of “director’s ships”: privately financed warships. After initially refusing,[3] De Ruyter proved his worth under supreme commander Lieutenant-Admiral (the nominal rank of Admiral-General was reserved for the stadtholder but at the time none was appointed) Maarten Tromp, winning the Battle of Plymouth against Vice-Admiral George Ayscue. He also fought at the Battle of Kentish Knock and the Battle of the Gabbard. De Ruyter functioned as a squadron commander, being referred to as a Commodore, which at the time was not an official rank in the Dutch navy.

Tromp’s death during the Battle of Scheveningen ended the war and De Ruyter declined an emphatic offer from Johan de Witt for supreme command, because he considered himself ‘unfit’[4] and also feared that bypassing the seniority principle would bring him into conflict with Witte de With and Johan Evertsen. Later De Ruyter and De Witt would become personal friends. Colonel Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam then became the new Dutch supreme commander of the confederate fleet. De Ruyter — after refusing to become Obdam’s naval ‘advisor’[5] — remained in service of the Dutch navy however and later accepted an offer from the admiralty of Amsterdam to become their Vice-Admiral on 2 March 1654. He relocated with his family to the city in 1655.


In July 1655 De Ruyter took command of a squadron of eight of which the Tijdverdrijf was his flagship and set out for the Mediterranean with 55 merchantmen in convoy. His orders were to protect Dutch trade. Meeting an English fleet under Robert Blake along the way, he managed to avoid creating a new flag incident. Operating off the Barbary Coast he captured several infamous corsairs and having negotiated a peace agreement with Salé, De Ruyter returned home May 1656.

The same month the States-General, becoming ever more wary of Swedish king Charles X and his expansion plans, decided to intervene in the Northern Wars by sending a fleet to the Baltic Sea. The Swedes controlled this area after Charles had invaded Poland and made himself king there. De Ruyter once again embarked on the Tijdverdrijf arriving in the Sound 8 June; there he waited for Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam to arrive. After Obdam had assumed command De Ruyter and the Dutch fleet sailed to relieve the besieged city of Danzig/Gdańsk on 27 July, without any bloodshed. Peace was signed a month later. Before leaving the Baltic De Ruyter and other flagofficers were granted audience by Frederick III of Denmark. De Ruyter took a liking to the Danish king who would later become a personal friend.

In 1658 the States-General under the advice of a leading member, (one of the) mayors of Amsterdam Cornelis de Graeff decided to once again send a fleet to the Baltic Sea to protect the important Baltic trade and to aid the Danes against Swedish aggression, continued despite a peace settlement. In accordance with the States’ balance of power politics a fleet under Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam was sent, without De Ruyter, who at the time was blockading Lisbon. On 8 November a bloody melee took place: the Battle of the Sound, which resulted in a Dutch victory, relieving Copenhagen. Still the Swedes were far from defeated and the States decided to continue their support. De Ruyter took command of a new expeditionary fleet and managed to liberate Nyborg in 1659. For this he was knighted by the Danish king Frederick III of Denmark[6] From 1661 until 1663 De Ruyter had convoy duty in the Mediterranean.

Second Anglo-Dutch War

Battle Council On The Zeven Provinciën, 10 June 1666 by Willem van de Velde, the younger, 1666

In 1664, a year before the Second Anglo-Dutch War officially began, he clashed with the English off the West African coast, where both the English and Dutch had significant slave stations, retaking the Dutch possessions occupied by Robert Holmes and then crossing the Atlantic to raid the English colonies in North America.

Arriving off Barbados in the Caribbean at the end of April 1665 aboard his flagship Spiegel, he led his fleet of thirteen vessels into Carlisle Bay, exchanging fire with the English batteries and destroying many of the vessels anchored there.[7] Unable to silence the English guns and having sustained considerable damage to his own vessels, he retired to French Martinique for repairs.

Sailing north from Martinique, de Ruyter captured several English vessels and delivered supplies to the Dutch colony at Saint Eustatius. Given the damage he had sustained, he decided against an assault on New York (the former New Amsterdam) to retake New Netherland. He then took off to Newfoundland, capturing some English merchant ships and temporarily taking St. John’s[citation needed] before proceeding to Europe.

Embarkment of De Ruyter and De Witt at Texel, 1667 by Eugène Isabey

On his return to The Netherlands he learned that Van Wassenaer had been killed in the disastrous Battle of Lowestoft. Many expected that Tromp’s son Cornelis would now take command of the confederate fleet, especially Cornelis Tromp himself, who had already been given a temporary commission.[8] Tromp however was not acceptable to the regent regime of Johan de Witt because of his support of the Prince of Orange’s cause. De Ruyter’s popularity had grown after his heroic return and, most importantly, his affiliation lay with the States-General and Johan de Witt in particular. He therefore was made commander of the Dutch fleet on 11 August 1665, as Lieutenant-Admiral (a rank he at the time shared with six others) of the Amsterdam admiralty.

In this Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–1667) he won a hard-fought victory in the Four Days Battle (June 1666) but narrowly escaped disaster in the St James’s Day Battle (August 1666) which brought him into conflict with Cornelis Tromp, eventually leading to Tromp’s dismissal. He then became seriously ill, recovering just in time to take nominal command of the fleet executing the Raid on the Medway in 1667. The Medway raid was a costly and embarrassing defeat for the English, resulting in the loss of the English flagship HMS Royal Charles and bringing the Dutch close to London and the war to its end. Between 1667 and 1671 he was forbidden by De Witt to sail, in order not to endanger his life.[9] In 1669 a failed attempt on his life was made by a Tromp supporter, trying to stab him with a bread knife in the entrance-hall of his house.[10]

Third Anglo-Dutch War and death

De Ruyter saved the situation for the Netherlands in the Third Anglo-Dutch War. His strategic victories over larger Anglo-French fleets at the Battles of Solebay (1672), the double Schooneveld (1673) and Texel (1673) warded off invasion. The new rank of Lieutenant-Admiral-General was created especially for him in February 1673, when the new stadtholder William III of Orange became Admiral-General.

Again taking the battle to the Caribbean, this time against the French, De Ruyter arrived off Martinique aboard his flagship De Zeven Provinciën on 19 July 1674. He led a substantial force of eighteen warships, nine storeships, and fifteen troop transports bearing 3,400 soldiers. Attempting to assault Fort Royal, his fleet was becalmed, allowing the greatly outnumbered French defenders time to solidify their defenses. The next day, newly-placed booms prevented de Ruyter from entering the harbor. Nonetheless, the Dutch soldiers went ashore without the support of the fleet’s guns, and were badly mauled in their attempt to reach the French fortifications atop the steep cliffs. Within two hours, the soldiers were returning to the fleet, with 143 killed and 318 wounded, as compared to only fifteen French defenders lost. His ambitions thwarted and with the element of surprise lost, De Ruyter sailed north to Dominica and Nevis, then returned to Europe while disease spread aboard his ships.

In 1676 he took command of a combined Dutch-Spanish fleet to help the Spanish suppress the Messina Revolt and fought a French fleet under Duquesne twice at the Battle of Stromboli and the Battle of Agosta, where he was fatally wounded when a cannonball hit him in the left leg. On 18 March 1677 De Ruyter was given an elaborate state funeral when his body was buried in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Amsterdam. He was succeeded as supreme commander by Cornelis Tromp in 1679.


De Ruyter was highly respected by his sailors and soldiers, who used the term of endearment Bestevaêr (“Granddad”) for him, both because of his disregard for hierarchy (he was himself of humble origin) and his refusal to back away from risky and bold undertakings despite his usually cautious nature.

He is honoured by a statue in his birthplace Vlissingen, where he stands looking over the sea. Almost every town in the Netherlands has a street named after him.

Respect also extended far beyond the borders of the Republic. On his last journey home, the late Lieutenant-Admiral-General was saluted by cannon shots fired on the coasts of France by the direct orders of the French king Louis XIV. The town of Debrecen erected a statue of him for his role in freeing 26 Protestant Hungarian ministers from slavery.

Six ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy have been named HNLMS De Ruyter and seven are named after his flagship HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën

De Ruyter has descendants still living in the United States, Britain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Modern reference

Statue of de Ruyter in Vlissingen, Netherlands

  • In the 2004 election of De Grootste Nederlander (The Greatest Dutchman) Michiel de Ruyter was the seventh-most voted.
  • ‘Michiel de Ruyter’ is the default name for the Dutch in Sid Meier’s 1994 game, Colonization. He is also a great general in the Rise of Mankind mod to Civilization IV.
  • He was buried in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) in Amsterdam. De Ruyter’s burial site has now turned into a tourist attraction. De Ruyter’s mausoleum is visible, protected by a glass pane. However, descendants of the De Ruyter family are granted unrestricted access to his grave, and De Ruyter’s descendant stated in a 2007 issue of Dutch newspaper Het Parool that he visited the coffin privately in 1948 with his own grandfather, and they decided to lift the coffin’s lid. The grand-grand son was shocked with the sight and said: “it wasn’t a pleasant sight. He (De Ruyter) was embalmed with great haste, and they didn’t bother with his shot-off leg, they just dropped it in. It was just lying there. No, it wasn’t pleasant, it was a shock actually .”
  • The small town and village of DeRuyter, New York, southeast of Syracuse, are named after the admiral.
  • In the book “Captain Blood: his Odyssey” (Raphael Sabatini), the title character served in the Dutch Navy under de Ruyter.


  1. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 19
  2. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 23
  3. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 59
  4. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 85
  5. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 86
  6. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 114
  7. ^ Staff writer (Unk.) “History: History and Development > SETTLEMENT OF BRIDGETOWN” Barbados’ UNESCO World Heritage application The Ministry of Community Development & Culture, Barbados Retrieved 17 March 2011 “In 1665, the Charles Fort played a major role in successfully defending Barbados from attack by the Dutch (commanded by Admiral Michel De Ruyter) who had attempted a surprise assault from the east.” 
  8. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 152
  9. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 228
  10. ^ Prud’homme , 1996, p. 253


  • David Marley, Wars of the Americas: A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the New World, 1492 to the Present, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, 1998 (pp. 159, 165, 177–179). ISBN 0-87436-837-5
  • Roger Hainsworth and Christine Churches, The Anglo Dutch Naval Wars 1652-1674, Sutton Pub Ltd, 1998
  • R. Prud’homme van Reine, Rechterhand van Nederland. Biografie van Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter, (Amsterdam 1996)
  • Oliver Warner, Great Sea Battles, Spring Books London, 1973
  • Warnsinck, JCM, Twaalf doorluchtige zeehelden. PN van Kampen & Zoon NV, 1941
  • Warnsinck, JCM, Van Vlootvoogden en Zeeslagen, PN van Kampen & Zoon, 1940
  • Blok, PJ, Michiel Adriaansz. de Ruyter (1928)

See also

External links


Marc Verhaegen


Marc Verhaegen (Mortsel, april 5, 1957) is a Belgian comics author, best known as head draughtsman of Suske en Wiske and more recently of Senne and Sanne.
1 Biography
2 Bibliography
3 external links
4 notes and references
When Verhaegen was ten years old, he started alongside the ordinary school also to follow the drawing school at the Academy of Kontich. He made illustrations for the scouts journal Condacum and for the school journal of the Sint-Stanislascollege, where he went to school six years.
After the graphic design Department of the Sint-Lucas Institute in Brussels, where he received classical training, specialising in animation film. In 1976 got Verhaegen Department Chart from his professor Luc Verstraeten command anything to worry about the second world war. He chose an adaptation of the novel the visions of Jacques Weiniger of Gust of Brussels.
From november 1976 appeared in the scouts journal Condacum the unwanted, a story of 40 pages. The story is in 2006 colored by Sylvia Dolsma and in 2007 published by the Gouwe handle. Later in the newspaper the morning the story from Cycloman.
After his studies he mostly worked as a freelance animator on several animated productions for Pen Film in Ghent. The most famous of these are the Miracle shop to scenario of Gomer Timmermans and the feature film John the fearless (1984) directed by Jef Cassiers. He also contributed animation contributions for Sesame Street and the Liegebeest.
Verhaegen started In 1987 to the comic book series, Boes to work for Standard publishing. In 1988 he wrote for the reissue of the classic Suske en Wiske-De schat van Beersel for credit bank is a four-page turn, entirely in the style of the blue series. This came to the attention of Paul Geerts and Willy vandersteen, which work very appreciated. He was then asked to go along working on Suske en Wiske.
First he wrote a number of short stories, in 1992, his first long story: krakende carcas. In april 2002, Verhaegen of Paul Geerts the drawing stylus pen tip is about as fixed artist/screenwriter of Suske en Wiske. In total, wrote and signed Marc Verhaegen 32 long stories of Suske en Wiske and he worked on 65 stories. He also drew and wrote thirteen short stories and made numerous advertising drawings of Suske en Wiske.
On 25 February 2005, via a press release stated that Verhaegen immediately stopped as head draughtsman of Studio vandersteen. The Studio wanted a team would start work on the stories of Suske en Wiske, because it had become too much for one person. Because Verhaegen himself couldn’t find in working in a team, was the collaboration between Studio vandersteen and him ended. A day later it was announced that Marc Verhaegen is fired because the heirs of Willy vandersteen could not find in the choice of Marc Verhaegen. So he would like to make a comic about a girl who was gassed in Auschwitz concentration camp, a matter not considered suitable for a children’s comic. On april 18, 2006, the Court ruled that Verhaegen was unjustified dismissals [1]. Verhaegen believed that his dismissal was the result of the fear that Willy Vandersteens war past would be raked up. On 14 september 2010, the heirs of vandersteen known to historical examination Office Memory collectively has found irrefutable proof that Willy vandersteen during the war under the pseudonym Chaperon anti-Semitic drawings. These were published in the brochure “the Zoo saw Brussels Dietsche Militants” and in the collaboratively newspaper People and State.
In 2005, Verhaegen a strip with the working title Rebecca r. and with as main persons Senne and Sanne. The strip has as subject the second world war. It is an entirely new story and not an adaptation of the story that he previously for Suske en Wiske wanted to write. The story was published in four parts, as an annex Kids week. In 2006 appeared the second Senne and Sanne-story “Cordoba” in which Verhaegen the world of immigrants and their religion. The album is also an indictment against senseless violence. In 2007 Marc Verhaegen wrote and drew the third Senne and Sanne-story ‘ loverboys ‘. Describes the problems of young people who are raised by the so-called ‘ loverboys ‘ be seduced and are driven into prostitution. Marc Verhaegen wrote this story with information he got from Payoke, the Antwerp non-profit organisation that promotes assistance to victims of trafficking.
On March 23, 2007 appeared the secret of Michiel de Ruyter, a story about the life of the Dutch navigator Michiel de Ruyter. Verhaegen wrote this in collaboration with Jan Kragt. It was the first project of Foundation Eureducation, which was founded by them on October 28, 2005.
In 2008, the album Eureducation the Flying Dutchman and the VOC-plot, in which both authors a shed light on the genesis of the VOC and the legend of the Flying Dutchman. In the same year, draws and writes Marc Verhaegen (screenplay together with Jan Kragt) V-bombs on Antwerp, an album that was created in collaboration with the peace Centre in Antwerp, where it under the title ‘ war wounds ‘ came out. The story was divided in all Antwerp schools. In this story tell Marc Verhaegen and Jan Kragt about the rise and the effects of the V-bombs on Antwerp. Also the bombardment of Mortsel, next to the Fort of Breendonk, the fate of Belgian political prisoners, the bombardment of Cinema Rex and the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora.
In 2009 drew and wrote Marc Verhaegen together with Jan Kragt battle for New York. That story is about the first Dutch settlers in America, who founded new Amsterdam, later to New York. This story was formed at the request of the Roosevelt Study Center and was presented at the American Embassy in the Hague.
From 2006 to 2009 was Marc Verhaegen Board member of the Flemish authors Association, since 2007 he is Chairman of the Flemish Independent comic book Guild.
De visions of Jacques Weiniger (1976)
The unwanted (1976), released as the album in 2007 by the Gouwe Handle
Looking for Spurkmans
From Cycloman
Vicky (1986)
Eye damage (1987)
Boes (1987)
Suske en Wiske (1987-2005)
Calpako (1997-2001)
Senne and Sanne (2005-present)
The secret of Michiel de Ruyter (2007)
The Flying Dutchman (2008)
V-bombs on Antwerp (2008), also published under the name war wounds
“Pencil” magazine with black and white and pencil drawings
Battle for New York (2009)
Vincent Van Gogh: the struggle of an artist (2011)
External links
Officiële Senne and Sanne website
website Eureducation
Marc Verhaegen Fansite
Marc Verhaegen Official Blog


1. Het geheim van Michiel de Ruyter  (2007)