Not many knew of the “Seecret van Holland” (secret of the Netherlands), which was hidden under the former poor Clares convent on the Paarden market in the centre of the Dutch city of Delft. It was a Good of the utmost military importance: 40.000 kg best black powder. Although the States General in 1648 the peace of Munster ended the eighty years war against Spain and gained independence. But those in power who wanted the riches of the merchants, there was enough.
On the 12. October 1654, shortly after nine o’clock, inspected Cornelis Soetens, once again, entrusted to him the powder magazine. Since it was dark, he should have a lantern took. As he examined the quality of the material, it could have happened: A spark jumped from the lantern and lit the powder. Then the whole magazine, and with him the half of the city flew in the air. The pop shall be in 150 kilometers distance heard.
As the “Delft thunderclap” is received, the disaster in the history of the Netherlands. Delft was one of the richest cities in the country. The trade with luxury goods from India and China was booming. The had brought clever business people on the idea of the expensive porcelain, China exported a competitor’s product. So the “Delft Blue”, which generated dozens of manufactures and a ready market was created.
the “thunder” to a terrible end. Far more than a thousand people died in the Explosion and in the rubble or injured have worn. In many Parts of the city centre, no undamaged house. The painter Egbert van der Poel (1621-1664), survived, in contrast to his daughter’s misfortune, has processed his Trauma in a series of images. You see fire, smoke, ruins, with dead Windows, and countless corpses. “A besieged city into which you throw a lot of fire balls, can’t be more corrupt than the city of Delft by this cruel blow,” wrote the chronicler Jean Nicolas de Parivall.
at Least 500 houses were totally destroyed, the churches themselves were damaged. The magazine adjacent the Tanner’s quarter, which had expanded in the previous years, and as a kind of übervölkerter Slum can be described, was razed to the ground. Whole school building had to bury teachers and students under their rubble. Works of art that had survived the reformed iconoclasm, fell into shards.
“All the streets have been umgeworffen of reason”, reported the chronicler. “Some ran with each other on the streets, asked what had happened … As everyone began to complain to his and his friend’s loss. You heard were those that were almost sunken stones buried, and the Wailing and crying of the poor Damaged.“
The Survivors interpreted the disaster as a sign of God’s wrath, as a reminder that even after the end of the First English-Netherlands naval warfare, which had been completed in may 1654 with the Treaty of Westminster, dangers everywhere lurking. “The English war is over and the misunderstandings are gestillet in Holland,” wrote Parivall. But: “We are asleep in our Wollüsten again, but You (God) have us re-aufgewecket with one of the most dangerous Thunder.”
It took a very long time, until the city recovered from the devastation. A money collection among the municipalities in the country have had the benefit of her reconstruction. The citizens proved that they had learned from history. The powder magazine was created in 1671, “in the distance a cannon ball”, so far in front of the gates of the city.
The Rampjaaar (disaster year) of 1672, the town met again. England, France, Kurköln and the Bishop of Münster declared the Netherlands the war. Rotterdam and The Hague ran the city. And the industrially-made English ceramics drive the Delft manufactories to Ruin. But this was in 1654, still sad music of the future.
Not for nothing was the chronicler of Parivall reminded of a similar “thunder beats” in Venice, Copenhagen and Grevelingen. The bearings with black powder proved to be almost as the Achilles heels of the early modern cities. Also in Berlin, a powder magazine and caused a Disaster. As in 1720, the Spandau gate demolished with an adjacent powder tower, it exploded. However, it was concluded in this case, only the surrounding area affected.
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