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Jacques Colaert (15.. - 1600)


Colaert was a privateer who was active from the city of Duinkerken. He was also known under the name of Jacob Collaart. In August of 1600 he sailed as part of a fleet of ships that was commanded by the Vice-Admiral Anton of Burgundy, Lord of Wacken. The fleet was comprised of six vessels of the royal Spanish privateer fleet and six private privateers. Collaart was one of the latter six. He had a ship of 25 tuns which carried 6 cannon and had a crew of 43.
On the night of 9/10 August 12 vessels set sail from Duinkerken. At the rendezvouz on August 11 two ships failed to join them: the ships commanded by Sibrant Pietersen and Rippert Rippertsen. On August 14 the privateers met with the Dutch fleet of fishing-boats near the Scottish coast that were protected by 4 warships. These were immediately attacked. The vessel Den dolphijn of captain Willem Dirkszoon Cloyer exploded when a cannon-ball struck its gunpowder-room. The other three warships were attacked and chased away. During the fighting the captain of the Parel, Mahieu Jacobsen, was mortally wounded. After this the fishing-boats were an easy prey for the privateers. Moreso because some of the vessels carried fishermen that were Mennonites (weapons and violence were against their belief). The privateers treated the crews of captured vessels very harsh in retribution for the harsh treatment which captured Spanish privateers received in the Netherlands. In Historien by Van Meteren, written in 1661, he describes some of the typical actions against fishermen.

The next few days several other fishing-boats were attacked and captured by the privateer fleet. During those days three privateers left the fleet. One of them, captain Willem Jansen, Left for Spain. Another fleet of 13 fishing-boats, sailing from Maassluis and protected by the Dutch warship De Victorie, was also attacked. The vessel exploded due to a direct hit in the gunpowder-room. Only six of the seamen were saved from the water. Two fishing-boats were sunk (the crews were allowed to leave their ships) and eleven vessels pillaged. The steersmen of these vessels were imprisoned for a ransom.
On August 19 several other fishing-boats were attacked. The crew of one vessel, probably armed, tried to resist but they were captured and the vessel was sunk with the crew still on board. Three other vessels were also sunk, but the crewmen were saved.

On August 20 the privateer fleet changed course. They set sail for the trading routes of the merchants of Eastern Europe. The next day 9 Dutch merchants were captured. They had had mainly salt aboard and were en route to Danzig when they were attacked.
On August 22 the bad weather prevented the privateers from attacking another merchant fleet of 30 vessels. During the storm two privateers, commanded by Michiel Jacobsen and Frans Pleite, got seperated from the fleet.

On August 10 the agent of the Staten-Generaal of the Republic at Calais, Anthonie Sailly, had sent a warning about the privateers to the Hague. His letter arrived on August 16 and this delay was the main reason for the late response from the Netherlands. Two fleets were to be assembled and sent to attack the privateers. Meanwhile all available vessels in the port of Rotterdam were sent after them.
Near the Island of Vlieland the seven remaining privateers met with this Dutch fleet under command of captain Arie Corneliszoon Cruyck. The Duinkerkers tried to flee from this fleet. To get more speed as much cargo and gear as possible was thrown overboard. Some of them were chased through the Noordzee and fled to Dieppe or Spain.

The ship of Jacques Colaert, the Crabbelcat, was attacked near Duinkerken and its crew captured after a fierce battle. In that battle Colaerts ship lost its masts. Colaert was forced to surrender and he and his crewmen were taken as prisoners to the city of Vlissingen in Zeeland. He and 37 of his crewmen, excepting six boys, were hanged in September of 1600.


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For this text I drew heavily on:
Vliet, A.P. van
Vissers en kapers : de zeevisserij vanuit het Maasmondgebied en de Duinkerker kapers (ca. 1580-1648) / A.P. van Vliet. - 's-Gravenhage : Stichting Hollands Historische Reeks, 1996. - (Hollands Historische Reeks ; 20). - Eerder verschenen als proefschrift, Leiden 1994
Vrijman, L.C.
Kaapvaart en zeeroverij / L.C. Vrijman. - Amsterdam, [1938]
Reacties en commentaar naar: M.Bruyneel@ubvu.vu.nl
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