Nikolaus van Hoorn and the saint Nicholas Day
Tagged: saint nicholas Jansz van hoorn
January 29, 2018 at 8:05 am #5822
Thanks for your comprehensive answer. I like to give you some background to my question. I am investigating the impact of the arrival of another pirate at the harbour of Veere (Holland) in the year 1623. This pirate, Jan Jansz. van Haarlem, operated from Salé in Morocco. Originally Dutch, he converted to Islam and climbed up to the post of admiral of Salé. As a pirate he threatened all european ships and coastal villages. But to the Dutch he also served as a diplomatic intermediar to the sultan of Morocco.
In 1623 he sailed in the North Sea when his 2 ships were badly damaged in a storm. He was allowed into the harbour of Veere to repair his ships and to resupply. He arrived at the end of november and left at the end of december. Thus he was present during the Saint Nicholas festivities. This tradition, still popular in the Netherlands, was even more prominent in the 17th century.
For normal citizens, the visit of a Barbarian pirate was very unusual. Furthermore, this pirate was very rich. (the biggest pirate treasure in Holland is found 6 km away from Veere, most probably burried by this Jan Jansz) . During the Saint Nicholas parties, he might have given a unforgettable appearance together with his crew, 100 or so pirates.
The interesting thing is: this single visit contains all unexplained facts of the current Saint Nicholas tradition in Holland. The current tradition entails a ship that arrives from Spain carrying Saint Nicholas and a number of black helpers (Zwarte Piet). There are more unexplained details, but these are the most important. Last year I published the idea that the current black helper is a combination of the pirate and the devil (devils were found everywhere in Europe als companions of Saint Nicholas). The devil contributed to the black face and attributes like the bag and rod. The pirates contributed to his clothing and his human appearance. The theory is (unlike other theories) consistent with all historical Saint Nicholas facts. See my website if you are interested: http://www.duivelsenpiraten.nl Here you will find that there is an interesting connection with the USA. As you may know, the Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition. The son of Jan Jansz. van Haarlem happens to be a notorious immigrant in New York (Anthony Jansz. van Salee)
Mainstream scolars are not (yet) convinced by this idea because of the lack of evidence. Currently I am looking for historical facts that can confirm this idea. The name of the boat of Nicholas van Hoorn might be relevant. Nicholas is born in Vlissingen, around 15 km south of Veere. He is born in 1635, 12 years after the visit of Jan Jansz. If he calls his ship: “St Nicholas day”, why would he choose such a name? Certainly not because he expects to get presents on that day. If his ship is called simply “st Nicholas”, he probably only named it after himself (with some sense of humor though)
I looked for the sources you named. I could search inside the books of David Marley on google books. Unfortunately I found that he uses the name “st Nicholas”. Could it be that there are different versions? I am very interested in your other sources as well. your suggestion that he might not named the ship himself is also interesting. I didnot think of that possibility yet. Cheers for now, the story is to be continued..
January 30, 2018 at 7:46 am #5830
I will definitely give that website a look. I am very aware of Jan Jansz’ career. I am covering him along with other Europeans that went into the service of Barbary in a chapter in my book. He was one of the greatest of the Salee raiders. Did you know that when he returned during that visit which you described that his wife and children who he had left behind came to see him? It is a fascinating story. The pirates of the 1620s to 1640s never get the exposure they deserve. In part II of my essay on Puerto Rico I cover quite a number of them. This is why we plan to eventually make GOF ERAS1 so that we can play our wonderful game in that earlier time period with all of those fascinating personalities.
You found a copy of Marley’s Sack of Vera Cruz online???? Please send me a link!!!
As I said I don’t have access to my library for about two more weeks, but everything I’ve commonly read – and brother I have about every book on pirates ever published in my collection, I’ve seen it predominantly called Saint Nicholas Day.
If we could only get some chronology. The depositions calling it an alias is an interesting tidbit all by itself.
I love that you are delving into a very non-PC subject in your country at the moment. I was there to see the parades in Amsterdam myself in 1994 and 1995. There was little controversy then. But I understand from my Dutch friends now that the whole Zwarte Piet thing has gone absolutely out of control with the SJW PC correctness crowd. Traditions of hundreds of years that never intended to be offensive – are now threatened by all of these twits who don’t want to hurt anyone’s fragile feelings. Wow how the world has changed.
I will most certainly follow up with you when I have had a chance to pour over my books and give you better information.
February 23, 2018 at 1:51 pm #6059
Sorry I took some time to contact you again, but I am still busy with my st. Nicholas research of which other topics take time as well. The difficulty of Jan Jansz st Nicholas connection is that there are no accounts of the festivities themselves. The st Nicholas parties were quite popular in those days, but the authorities and religious figures where not enthusiastic about it, to say the least. So, most of written evidence consists of complaints by protestant clerics about the catholic tradition. The visit of Jan Jansz at Veere was even more troubling to the authorities. Only some of the simple facts are written down, as well as the official reaction by the authorities: Next time they would convict and punish a moslim pirate when he refuses to return to christianity and stop piracing. But two years later, Jan Jansz arived again, in Amsterdam this time. Again he was able to get away with it. An interesting history, but it doesnot give us any information about the st. Nicholas party in Veere. I suspect that the story about this visit initially went viral. So word of mouth, the social media of the time. The only way forward is to find circumstantial facts.
I looked into your story about Nicolaas van Hoorn. He seems to have been a remarkable brave and vicious person and someone not very likely to humorously name a ship, sort of, after himself. I am not yet convinced about the Name “St. Nicholas day” as David Marley himself seems to use st. Nicholas in “Pirates of the Americas”. I was mistaken about the availabillity of “the Sack of Vera Cruz” online. I probably mixed up some titles as I am quite new to the subject of Buccaneers. I am still quite interested in the sources you have. I do not mind to obtain them myself, but I first need to know which are worth it.
February 28, 2018 at 9:47 pm #6066
Never be sorry for contacting me about historical research or historical subjects of the pirate kind – because this is one of my passions and I am always reading and researching and learning more. I am always happy to talk about these things!
Well I am continuing to research Van Hoorn and am finding some very interesting information that others have not considered or put together with the whole.
So to add to this topic link below, I will mention what I have found.
It is very apparent that most of the commonly written modern history about DeGraaf and Van Hoorn’s collaboration beginning just prior to the Vera Cruz attack is incorrect. The two had worked together before earlier in the same year!
It’s ironic that the two who were both seen in Curacao after the defeat of the Governor of Cartegena’s punitive force/flotilla by DeGraaf and Adrienszoon – sent after them at Panama – and very likely spending the loot taken in Curacao, attacked Dutch ships after their sojourn there in the capital of the Dutch West Indies. Wow so no loyalty for their own countrymen at all!
So what I’ve learned is that DeGraaf and Van Hoorn together – ATTACKED and plundered two DUTCH West India Company ships south of Cuba – the Elizabeth and Stadt Rotterdam which were outbound from Cartegena. They took over 100,000 gold and silver rijksdaalders from these ships – an incredible haul! – and an action which upset the authorities in Curacao badly, who then issued bounties for their capture. This was a complete act of piracy because the French letters of commission/marque they had been using were invalid at this point in time and France was not at war with the Netherlands. The Dutch WIC agents supposedly sent letters (which are noted to still exist – I MUST FIND THESE!) which appealed to Spanish and French authorities to pursue DeGraaf and Van Hoorn.
No word on what ships they were sailing in from the scraps I’ve found detailing this but I have a good lead on a document in Amsterdam that may tell the rest of the story. I’ve noted it along with some other obscure documents I mean to try to get permission to look at the next time I’m in the Netherlands – probably next year because I have no time this year.
Mike, if you have access or can get access to the VOC archives in Amsterdam – you may be able to help me with my research and I can tell you specifically which volumes from what years and what pages I need copies of. You can take pictures without flash even with your cell phone. – That has worked for me in other archives and usually the curators have no problems with that.
So I was FINALLY able to get a complete copy of Marley’s Sack of Vera Cruz: The Great Pirate Raid of 1683. I am still flabbergasted at just how difficult it was to get a look at this book. It is NOT on-line and no one has copies of it available. I have had my name on lists with antique book sellers and Abe Books for years.
Only three libraries in North America have a copy. One in Canada which I really didn’t want to go that far to find. One at Stanford U – which if you aren’t faculty or a student, they won’t give you access to, and one in Texas. The Texas copy is the one I got hold of at the Willis Library at North Texas State University at Denton. My thanks to Wayne at the front desk for helping me find it.
I made a complete photo copy of it and have been devouring it.
I was elated to read about SO MANY FASCINATING details that Marley unearthed about how this attack happened. The details and eye-witness accounts are absolutely AMAZING! The characters ARE AMAZING – (expect some new characters in the game just from this research alone and this particular DLC battle is becoming more complex for us to build based on all of these new details but will be a SPECTACULAR bit of historical gaming fun when we finish it. NO ONE else has tried to do anything like this ever before in a video game!)
However, I was very disappointed with Marley’s research on the Saint Nicholas, (and called Saint Nicholas in all of his accounts) because his story of how Van Hoorn acquired her is completely different than what the English archival accounts tell us – and I think it is quite simply incorrect. I am sorry but I do not think Marley has even seen the Jamaica depositions I made available at the bottom of the link above.
Another interesting tidbit I discovered is that DeGraaf was awarded a NEW letter of commission by the French in 1685 and in this capacity he SACKED Campeche! This was not a mere “pirate attack” as other sources report. Also I find some conflicts with reports about DeGraaf dumping his cargo after this raid to escape. This simply did not happen and the Dutch and French forces/pirates/privateers/zeeroovers occupied the city for two months. I believe these reports of desperate retreat have been confused with his escape at the Battle of Bayo De Alacranes when his fleet was scattered by Pez de Malzaraga. So more research is required and I need to look for some better narrative accounts or reports from the archives at Merida and Vera Cruz – and I am going back to Mexico again this year. I need a new Spanish translator – I lost my last one. Free trip anyone??? I do have someone else in mind already I think – very easy on the eye as well. LOL
DeGraaf is purported to have actually been AWARDED THE ORDER OF SAINT LOUIS by King Louis XIV for the action at Campeche! Anyone know if the French have an archive somewhere which lists whose names are entered receiving the awards by year that is contemporary to this time-frame? If so I need to get access to that document.
I found an interesting reference to one of DeGraaf’s English captains I had never heard before – a Captain Bannister. I will continue to dig – first time I have seen mention of this guy.
I’ve also found another interesting fragment which I am not going to share with anyone yet. It mentions the pirate captain Louis Le Golif who is also known as “Half-Arse” because one of his butt-cheeks was shot away. LOL. He will be a future character addition for our game. So many believe he may be make believe because his auto-biography was not discovered until the 1940s and some consider it a forgery. However, the fragmentary mention of him I have found is contemporary to his time. The reason this is important to me is because according to his own account he was one of DeGraaf’s captains even though I can find no mention of him at Vera Cruz. My chapter on Vera Cruz in my book continues to grow. Will I ever finish it?
IN CONCLUSION: After scouring many sources, I truly believe now that there was no “DAY” at the end of the name of the ship. I believe this was somehow added apocryphally in narratives from the 19th/early 20th centuries and is incorrect.
I would now stake my reputation that the actual name of the “renamed ship” was just simply “Saint Nicholas”
During my research I also found out that Van Hoorn’s pistol survives and is in a private collection in England somewhere. A man named Richard Knight (deceased) owned it in the 1980s but I can’t find out what has happened to it. I would hope this would make it into a public museum somewhere. Anyone know anything about this artifact? I’d love to get a picture of it for my book!
For resources to prove the name is listed as Saint Nicholas only – I recommend the following:
Piratas y corsarios en Veracruz y Campeche (1972) by Juan Juarez Moreno – in which he lists numerous Spanish archives he took this information from.
Exquemalin’s famous Buccaneers of the Americas: However interestingly enough only the French and Spanish versions have the Sack of Vera Cruz narrative. Originally the book was only printed in Dutch and French. The Dutch version for some reason doesn’t have the Sack of Vera Cruz narrative. I do not understand why this was not included in my English reprint version – unless it was taken from that Dutch version originally. OR – Maybe I am just missing part of it in my copy? It is a mystery to me. In the French version I have the ship is listed as “Sante Nicholas”. Someone or some publisher should make a NEW English reprinted version with the bits missing included.
And then last – of course – I recommend the Jamaica depositions linked above at the bottom of that post where we learn the previous identity of the ship. I have some other sources I haven’t even looked in yet which are complete reprints of very old books from the 19th century which are nothing but copies of thousands of documents put together by the late John Fiske and John Franklin Jameson.
The mysteries of the name change and when it happened I believe are much more likely to be found in old English sources in this case than any other. I tend to believe that the story has to survive somewhere – but where?
I find often it is futile to intentionally look for minutia like this. What often happens to me is that when I am looking for something completely different – that’s when you will find clues or even the full information of something else you might have been trying to search out about – sometimes years before. LOL. That’s just the way research works I’m afraid.
March 4, 2018 at 11:43 am #6085
Thanks for your research on Nicolaas van Hoorn. I am not yet convinced on the case of the ships name. Where does the story of “st. Nicholas day” come from in the first place? It might have been something that is lost in translation from English to French or Spanish. I agree with your experience in historical research. Usually you find things where you are not looking for. I’ll be happy to assist you with documents in the VOC archive. I have no experience in off-line archives though. As far as I know, the VOC archives are in The Hague (national archive), not in Amsterdam. Furthermore, I think you might be more interested in WIC archives, which are also in the Hague. I might be of more help for sources in “het scheepvaart museum” which claims to have a large collection of books on shipping history. But keep me posted when you need something from The Hague. I won’t be there often, but when I am there I’ll try to combine a visit to the archive.
March 14, 2018 at 8:34 am #6092
Thanks for the offer Michiel,
Yeah I stand corrected on the location of the archive – I think I knew that, but just wasn’t thinking. Never been to those particular archives before – I’ve just read stuff from them that other people have copied. So I will throw together a list of documents I would like copies of (obviously not entire documents – just page numbers).
So a couple of thoughts and questions off the top of my head. What’s in those big old VOC warehouse buildings in Amsterdam – is that just all office space for businesses now?
Why can I never get into the Cathedral at Den Haag? Every time I have gone there in the past it is always closed. Do they only open it occasionally.
It always strikes me as amusing how many candy shops I see on the street in the shopping areas at the Hague and though I am not into sweets myself I am always amazed to see all of the different kinds of specialty licorice and custom candies that they have in the Netherlands. Had no idea there were so many different varieties of candies until I went into one and looked around (years ago – last time I was there was 2006-07 over ten years ago now – can’t believe how fast the time flies) In the US we don’t have candy shops – except in a huge major cities – a standard drug store will sell most ordinary candy.
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