The mayor of Antwerp Bart de Wever wants to join the Netherlands with his city, he said recently. But in fact that happened at the end of the 16th century. Then a large part of the Antwerp people fled north, particularly Amsterdam.
“Protestants must convert to Catholicism or leave otherwise”, ordonated Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, after his Spanish troops conquered Antwerp on 17 August 1585. The Calvinist preachers in the ‘Calvin republic’ put the Spanish king‘s stadtholder in the Netherlands on a boat to the north. “Within four years, half of the townspeople went after them,” writes the Brit Michael Pye in his book Antwerp. The Glory Years.
Holland and Zeeland
These protestant Antwerpeners went to Germany, England but mostly to Holland and Zeeland who continued to oppose the Spanish and had driven all Catholics out of their cities. Approximately 20,000 of them went to Amsterdam, which saw its population increase by a third in one fell swoop. But thanks to the invasion of merchants, printers and publishers from the south, Mokum experienced its golden 17th century.
However, Antwerp’s glory years ended. In a few years, the city of Scheldeschelde, at its peak, 100,000 lost half of its population and its place of most powerful port and trade centre in Western Europe. The city was in ruins after fourteen months of Spanish siege and the Scheldt was closed, first by the Spanish and then by the Northern Dutch.
Amsterdam took full advantage of the downfall of its competitor. “Amsterdam is doing too well to the corpse of Antwerp,” was a winged statement.
end of the 16th century Mokum was little more than the Damrak with buildings on both sides. Many Antwerp merchants and merchants settled in Warmoesstraat. For the construction of the canal belt, designed by Philips Vingboons, an Amsterdammer with -how can it be other-Flemish roots, this narrow street parallel to the Damrak was the city‘s deficiest.
One of them was Joost van den Vondel, who floated a silk and stockings shop with his wife Sara in the property De Righteous Trou, at number 39. Their son Joost junior would become the greatest poet in the Netherlands.
Sodom and Gomorrah
The immigrants from Antwerp, including wealthy Portuguese Jews as trader Emanuel Rodrigues Vega, were welcomed with suspicion. The burgundy habits and greatspeech of ‘parchy sinjors‘ did not fall into good ground with the people of Amsterdam. Preacher Jacobus Trigland complained in 1614 in a thunder sermon about ‘whoever fled from Brabandt and the Flanders through persecution here in Hollandt‘. They had “strange decency of clothes” and by their ‘hoodish ‘the ‘simple, humble land‘ that Holland had always been threatened to turn into Sodom and Gomorrah.
The famous work De Spaansche Brabander from 1617, by the Amsterdam poet and playwright Gerbrand Bredero, deals with this flow of migration and the prejudices to come. These did not stop Amsterdam’s early fathers from asking Antwerpenaar and famous sculptor Artus Quellien in 1648 to take care of the sculpture on the inside and outside of the new, protarious city hall on Dam Square.