The Dutch Teachers of Mathematics and Navigation
We should not think that during the centuries preceding the rise of the Dutch Republic, the Northern Netherlands were inhabited only by semi-illiterates in the service of feudal princes always at each others’ throats. We only have to look at the noble lines of the Knights Hall (Ridderzaal) in The Hague or the townhalls of Middelburg and Gouda to understand how much taste existed in the Holland and Zeeland of these days, not to speak of the beauty of some of the churches. Dutch prosperity depended to a considerable degree on the herring fishery that flourished because an invention called haringkaken, a special conservation method of gutting, salting and barreling ascribed to Willem Beukelsz. of Biervliet in Zeeland around 1300. The coastal trade was a good school for the training of skippers and shipbuilders, the preserving of dykes and drainage for that of mill builders and engineers. Connections with the Hansa broadened vision and the sense of toleration. We may be sceptical of the story that not Gutenberg in Mainz, but Laurens Jansz. Coster in Haarlem invented printing with movable type, but it illustrates the fact that this process was developed in the Netherlands at an early date (after ca. 1450). Literacy was widespread.
KeywordsMagnetic Needle Young Republic Colonial Empire Dutch Republic Movable Type
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