the History of Wieringen

the 80-year war

Willem Blois van Treslong

Willem Blois van Treslong as admiral of Zeeland (1576-1585)

The 80-year war, which lasted from 1568 to 1648 and during which the Netherlands became independent from Spain, almost completely passed Wieringen unnoticed, expect for one event that happened in February / March 1572. During that winter the "watergeuzen" (the sea rebels opposing the Spanish) were mainly occupied with making the Zuiderzee and its entranceroutes throuhg the Waddenzee unsafe. In February it started to freeze and a large number of ships got caught in the ice. The ships of captains Willem Blois van Treslong, Jelte Eelsma and Pieter Simonsz Meyns were before the coast of Wieringen. At first the rebels were tolerated by the Wieringers but after some time they became more and more a nuissance. A large group of Wieringer farmers threatened to attack the ships is the watergeuzen didn't behave better.

Blois van Treslong wanted to negociate his way out of this mess but his colleague Meyns was less courteous. He dared an attack, which failed horribly and a number of rebels including Meyns himself was killed by the Wieringers.
In "Oorsprongk, begin ende vervolgh der Nederlandschen oorloghen, beroerten ende burgelijcke oneenigheden" by Pieter Christiaenszn Bor it is written accordingly: "While Treslong lay there at Wieringen, so at one night those from Wieringen have beaten to death and killed seventeen soldiers of Treslongs people, who had been a bit wilful. After that they came to Treslong, while he was without many people and forced him to swear he wouldn't ever (do this) himself nor would remember or avenge."
Blois gave his word of honour that he wouldn't let this happen and offered his sword to the people as a token of his friendship. Blois van Treslong was still in a precarious situation, because he had heard an army unit was on its way from Enkhuizen to take his ships. He therefore asked the local Wieringer population if they would help him freeing the ship from the ice. The Wieringers helped him, while the shipcannons held the Enkhuizer army at distance. At the end Blois was able to get away and fight the Spanish elsewhere. His sword remains on Wieringen and still hangs in the church of Oosterland today (see picture).

Blois' sword

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