maandag 24 december 2012

After doing a number of Dutch schips, I am now modelling a Brittish one.
I choose the HMS Royal Charles, the giant Brittish flagship built in 1655. Since the ship was lavishly decorated, so it is quite a challenge to recreate it.

The Royal Charles was originally called the Naseby, after a battle won by Crowell's army over Royalist forces in 1645. After the restauration of the monarchy her stern was drasticly modified, removing everything that reminded of  the parliamentarian rule, and called after the new king, Charles II.

She was the Brittish flagship in all major battles of the second Anglo-Dutch war. In 1667 she was captured by the Dutch in the raid on the Medway. She was not taken into service by the Dutch as she was too big for Dutch waters and was auctioned for scrap in 1673. Her Royal coat of arms sternpiece is still on display in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Confusingly, a second Royal Charles was built in 1673, which was renamed Queen in 1693. This makes it a bit confusing to find proper reference material..

Fortunately Abraham Storck made a great and detailed study of the ship. This is one of his finest sketches and the high resolution makes it very useful for reference.

This is a model of the ship when she was still called the Naseby. The model was made in 1943 and on display in the National Maritime Museum. It looks very similar to the Van de velde Drawing
The stern of the Naseby model.The mid section of the stern would later be replaced by the Royal coat of arms, but the rest of the extensive decoration is exactly the same as the Van de Velde drawing.

A painting of the ship by Jeronymus van Diest as she is carried to Dutch waters. He didn't quite capture all the detail on the ship, but it still looks pretty accurate. This is very useful for the colourscheme.

I have been working on it for a number of weeks now, as soon as I have something finished, I will post it......

zaterdag 13 oktober 2012

Sound dues

No ships were more typical for the seventeenth century then the Dutch fluyt. They were a substantial contributor to the Dutch economic success in that age. Fluyts were fast, cheap to operate and could carry a large load compared to their size. In the Baltic sea they had one more significant advantage. Due to the typical pear-shaped shape of the hull, their decks were quite small. Since the due or toll that had to be paid to cross the Oresund strait was calculated to the width of the ships deck, the fluyt was very well off.

Both sides of the Oresund or Sound strait that separated the Baltic from the north sea were owned by the Danish crown. The Sound dues made the Danish king relatively independent from the nobility and tax revenues. To firm his grip on this strategic position, the king built fortesses on both sides on the river, including the impressive Kronburg castle.

For the Dutch republic, the Baltic trade route became the most important of them all. Poland supplied the country of grain, Sweden supplied iron and wood for ships.

When in 1642 the Danish king decided to drastically raise the due tarrifs, the Dutch decided to display their power. They send a fleet of 42 warships to escort a convoy of 900 merchantmen and send it though the strait. The next year, an even bigger fleet crossed the straight without paying at all.

This display of force, together with some skillful diplomacy of fleet commander Witte de With made the the Danish king to grant the Dutch a very favourable treaty. The two nations would remain allies for the rest of the century.

This picture shows a fleet of fluyts passing the Sound in 1644. Right is the Danish castle Kronburg.

Far right is the flagship Brederode commanded by Witte de With.

dinsdag 2 oktober 2012

So this blog is called Bloodflag. It was just a name that fell into mind when I had to chose a name for it....
Why? Because I have been intrigued by this flag that I put on the stern on the Brederode. Apparently this 'Bloedvlag' or bloodflag was pretty common for Dutch ships in the early 17th century.

The flag shows an arm with a sword on a red background. Oddly, the sword looks a bit oriental to me. It certainly doen't look like a sword from the middle ages or the small-swords that were common during that period in Europe.

I found some documentation on this flag but it doesn't quite explain everything.
It states that the origin of the flag was in the Eighty-years war, in which the Dutch fought their independence against the Spanish. This could explain the shape of the sword. In the early years, the Dutch rebels and predecessors of the Dutch navy; the 'Watergeuzen' used Muslim and Ottoman symbols to taunt the Spanish. Since the biggest enemy of the Spanish empire was the Ottoman empire, the Dutch rebels frequently flew flags with crescent moons and used the slogan "rather Turkish then Catholic". It is just a theory, but it could explain why the sword looks like a Turkish one.

The use of the flag is not restricted to the war against the Spanish. I have also found paintings and drawings where it was used during the 1st Anglo-Dutch wars, The Nordic war, and fights against Dunkirk and Barbary pirates.

The red colour and the sword seem to suggest is is some kind of a battle flag. In the 17th and 18th century, when pirates hoisted a red flag, it ment very bad news for their enemies. It ment they wouldn't accept a surrender. Everyone would be killed, whether they opposed them or not.
In other navies a red flag was often was used as a signal to engage or attack.

Here I run into problems, The documentation also states that it is a battle flag.
But I have found quite a few pictures where the flag is hoisted when there are no enemy ships around.

So to me, his makes the true meaning of the Bloedvlag flag pretty fuzzy. Clearly a red flag with a sword is not ment to be friendly. But was it an exclusive battle flag? A flag that was used as a national symbol? Or just a dangerous looking flag to warn any enemies not to mess with the owner?

Anyone who can tell me more about this would be very welcome.

1939 Battle of the Downs against the Spanish
1939 Battle of the Downs. Although in monochrome, the arm with sword is recognizable on the flag.
The Dutch flagship 'Amelia' engaging English Ships in 1652-53, flying the bloodflag
Battle of the Sound 1658. Both Swedish and Dutch flags have red ensigns. The Dutch  flag has the sworded arm.
the Booodflag in a peaceful setting 
I don't think if this Red flag is with the arm, but again this setting in pretty peaceful
Action Between the Dutch Fleet and Barbary Pirates, around 1670.
The latest version I could find of a  Dutch ship flying the Bloodflag.

dinsdag 25 september 2012

Brederode put to sea

But it looks way better when when she's put to the sea.... 
Time to move on to the next part of this project!

zondag 23 september 2012

The finished Brederode

After months of work, i finally finished the model of the flagship Brederode.

She was launched in 1644 and served as a flagship in the first Anglo-Dutch war. Since this war didn't go very well for the Dutch, she took quite a beating in an number of battles, but managed to survive. 
She served as a flagship for the three most famous dutch admirals, Michiel de Ruiter, Maarten Tromp and Witte de With. Unfortunately, the last two admirals were also killed on her deck. 
She had her last battle fighting the Swedish in 1658 in the Battle of the Sound. This battle was won by the Dutch, but the ship got surrounded and boarded by the Swedish. She got so damaged and burned that she was deemed unsalvagable.

vrijdag 21 september 2012

Brederode reference

Here are the images that I could find as a reference for the Brederode model.
Fortunately, there are quite a few of them, and the quality is pretty good.

Van de Velde the Elder made 3 studies of the ship, which tend to be very accurate. Unfortunately all his ship studies miss the masts and the rigging.

Here are three van de Velde studies,
A peculiar feature on this ship is the cloth and the dark covers on the sides of the deck.
I did put them on my model, but since I don't know exactly what their function was, I decided to leave some of it out.

Here is the third study, where she seems to be pretty damaged from a previous battle. Her masts are missing and her hull is full of holes

below: The Brederode off Hellevoetsluis by Simon de Vlieger. Awesome painting and my best reference for her colours, although the ship colours are pretty dark. On her stern she is flying the bloodflag, a red flag with an arm which carries a sword. This flag comes back on a number of other painings and drawings from around 1640-1650. I don't know it's exact function, but it seems like a pretty clear warning not to mess with it.... It show the ship with only 2 sails on the fore- and mainmast. I found this rather interesting, since it's successor flagships Eendracht and Zeven Provincien but also it's predecessor Aemalia seem to have three sails for each mast.

below: The battle of Scheveningen by Jan Abrahamsz. Here the Brederode is shown in a fight with the 'Resolution'. This was the last battle of the first Anglo-Dutch war. Admiral Maarten Tromp lost his life on his flagship. She seems to be getting a beating and losing her mast. Although this is a very nice painting, it is less realistic than the other drawings and paintings. Also the details on the Brederode don't seem to match with some details on the other works.   

A scene by van de Velde with the Brederode on the background.

dinsdag 18 september 2012

Work in progress: the Brederode

Currently, I am working on the model of the Dutch flagship 'Brederode' which sailed from 1644 to 1658.
I was building it as a background piece for a scene I have in mind about fluyt design and the Danish Oresond.
But as usual with modeling; if you start it, pretty soon you get sucked into doing it properly. So now it just needs some more details, better texturing and some rigging improvements, and then it will be finished.

Tasmans Voyage

The scene depicts the voyage of Abel Tasman in 1642, when he discovers New Zealand. Before this expedition the world map had a giant blank spot on the place where it now shows Australia and the south Pacific.
The Dutch East India Company VOC had gained a pretty dominant position in the East Indies, but they had no idea what lay south or east of Indonesia. Several ships had sighted Australian land and even shipwrecked there, but still virtually nothing was known about the mysterious Southland.
The VOC decided to send the experienced sailor Tasman to explore this vast area. He got command of two ships; the yacht ‘Heemskerck and the fluyt ‘Zeehaen’ The expedition first sailed to Mauritius near Africa, then set sail to the east. He missed Australia, but discovered Tasmania ,New Zealand, Fiji and number of Pacific Islands. 
For the VOC, Tasman's explorations were a disappointment: he had neither found a promising area for trade nor a useful new shipping route. In the 1640’s the Dutch were already pretty occupied with their bases in North America, Brasil, Africa, India, and the Far East. New adventures in this remote region didn’t fit in the plans of the VOC. It would take another 130 years for another European explorer named James Cook would visit the region.

maandag 17 september 2012


Hi everyone, Welcome to my brand-new blog. I am a 38 year old creative director from Amsterdam.
Besides a busy life I have an odd hobby; recreating the maritime history of my country through Computer Generated Images (CGI).
In the future this will be the place where I will post my latest creations. I am sorry if the layout of this page is a messy in the beginning, I am kind of new to having a blog......