Reconstruction of the Grote Waard, 1421

This data story accompanies my map and short publication ‘Reconstructie van de Grote Waard, 1421’ (Tijdschrift Holland 2021-2; link pdf). The publication is part of a special issue of Tijdschrift Holland that marks the 600th anniversary of the St Elisabeth’s flood (19th November 1421), one of the most significant environmental events of the Netherlands. The flood set in motion a gradual abandonment of much of the land around Dordrecht in the south of the County of Holland, affecting dozens of villages and permanently transforming the land into a tidal wetland (currently National Park De Biesbosch).

This data story is meant to provide users of the map and accompanying GIS dataset with detailed insight into my considerations during the map’s creation. It is very much work in progress and will be continuously expanded in the coming months.

  1. Introduction: background, study area
  2. Landscape
  3. Parishes
  4. Download data
  5. Bibliography

Introduction: background, study area

Rijksmuseum, The Saint Elizabeth’s Day Flood (Panel A)On 19th November 2021, 600 years have past since the devastating St Elisabeth’s Flood. Although we now know that the area as a whole was not submersed over night, dramatically depicted in the famous late-fifteenth-century panels in the Rijksmuseum (panel A (see image left), panel B (image below)), in the years that followed numerous church villages and a significant portion of arable land in the County of Holland was lost for good.

Attempts to reconstruct what exactly was lost – and what the Grote Waard looked like before the events of 1421 – span almost six centuries as well: including a handful of spectacularly speculative ones. In the early sixteenth century, driven by conflicts over fishing rights between the lords of Nassau in the south and the bailiwick of South Holland in the north, considerable research was done to locate the former borders: the former river Meuse was marked using depth sounding, a wealth of cartographic material was produced, and countless interviews with (former) residents provided a sense of the available knowledge of the pre-flood landscape, a century later (see ).

Rijksmuseum, The Saint Elizabeth’s Day Flood (Panel B)Of the more modern reconstructions, most well-known are the two reconstructions by and by (the latter published in the Geschiedkundige Atlas van Nederland). More recently, reconstructions have been made by (amongst other) (which includes a good historiographical overview), Henk ‘t Jong, and . Earlier in 2021, after our work was finished, Willem Gabriël Janssen published this reconstruction.

Our approach has a different starting point than most previous attempts. Central is aligning the episcopal administration, such as lists of parishes, to reconstructions of the waterways and (former) riverbeds in 1421 (using modern subsurface models, historical cartographic material, and literature). This leads to a reconstruction of the parishes in the area, which can be expanded with and/or linked to information on administrative-judicial jurisdictions (‘ambachtsheerlijkheden‘). Religious localities (churches, rural chapels, and rural monasteries) were, whenever possible, linked to archaeological sites or present-day buildings.

The important advantage of this approach, is that it becomes possible to effectively entangle all historical places and place name variants associated with the Grote Waard, one parish at a time – a task which is not simple (not a single previous reconstruction had been in agreement to another to how many or which ‘villages’ were flooded). After all, what constitutes a village in this context? Yet, a parish is a much more closely defined entity in medieval times.

We have chosen to build our study area around the complete deanery ‘Zuid Holland’ of the medieval bishopric Utrecht. The areas belonging to the County of Holland immediately east (Land van Heusden and Land van Altena) and south (in the bishopric of Liège) to this deanery complement the study area. In the section below, we will gradually explain – starting with the landscape as a whole and then parish by parish – what decisions were made in our reconstruction.

Landscape

The starting point for the reconstruction of the Grote Waard is identifying and localising the different pre-flood waterways and (former) riverbeds. Central is the reconstruction of the Meuse river, the boundary between the Liège and Utrecht bishoprics and between the territories owned by the Nassau family and that of the count of Holland. In the early sixteenth century, floating beacons were placed using depth measurements so that the fishing grounds of the lords of Nassau could be demarcated. Nowadays, the course of the former Meuse river can be identified using subsurface models (GeoTOP) and – in the Hoeksche Waard – using digital elevation models and existing remnants of the former river (the Binnengedijkte Maas).

Select in the list of layers (second symbol to the left, in righthand corner) AHN4 ‘Dynamische opmaak’ to visualise the meandering riverbeds of the Meuse river, just east of the Maasdam, on the westernmost parts of the Grote Waard. This land was lost to the sea after 1421 and reclaimed in 1593.

The subsurface models have also been used to identify other riverbeds in the area (see the map below). I specifically use the word riverbed, because it is not always clear whether these riverbeds still actively carried water in 1421. I do assume that these (former) riverbeds will have been visible in the landscape and helped shape the internal administrative-judicial and parish boundaries.

In most cases the subsurface models allow for a higher precision in localising the courses of the waterways than previous reconstructions could. In some cases, however, my reconstruction differs significantly. I have identified for instance a second, possibly dried out riverbed west of the Dubbel river, which must have been entirely located within the Tieselenswaard. According to the subsurface models, it was active in the same period as the Dubbel and Meuse.

Resources used to create the reconstruction of the Grote Waard, 1421

Apart from the subsurface models and digital elevation models, I have used literature, modern topographical maps (19th-21st centuries) and georeferenced sixteenth-century cartographic material. The latter has been used to reconstruct the Graaf: a manmade ditch assumed to go along the Koningsweg – an old (Roman?) road passing though Dordrecht . According to medieval and early-modern rereferences, the Graaf was an important boundary between administrative-judicial entities and probably also between parishes. This reinforces the idea that the Graaf was an old landscape element.

A final point we should address are the locations of the dykes in the landscape. I have included these dykes in the main reconstruction (below), but these should be handled with care. The present-day dyke reconstructions are based mostly on Rheineck-Leyssius and Beekman on the one hand, Renes on the other, and a handful of observations of my own . Almost certainly, this aspect can be improved.

Reconstruction of the Grote Waard, 1421 (Rombert Stapel 2021)

With the landscape in place, the internal local boundaries – of parishes and of administrative-judicial areas (e.g. heerlijkheden) – were reconstructed. Using contemporary descriptions of how one area was adjacent to others, and by using the morgentalen (taxable arable land) as a rough measure for determining the size of each area. This procedure is described in more detail in our publication in Tijdschrift Holland 2021-2 . Below we will describe, per parish (not per administrative-judicial area), the choices we made in this process.

Parishes

In total, the study area included in 1421 seventy-seven parishes, including six non-operational parish churches (affected by earlier floods) and four parishes that were only partially covered by the study area, but excluding two filial churches (Bokhoven and Broek). Pendrecht used to be a separate parish, but already in the early fourteenth century this function had been taken over by Rhoon, and some time later Pendrecht had become submersed . However, Pendrecht does continue to be listed as a ‘submersed’ parish in episcopal administration well into the sixteenth century (as do many other submersed parishes, in increasingly ‘exotic’ spelling variations). One of the parishes (Dubbelmonde-Almonde) was a twin parish, with two parish churches.

Deanery of Zuid-Holland (Utrecht)

Dordrecht: Grote Kerk

The oldest parish church of the city of Dordrecht, first definitively mentioned as such in 1285, with a possible reference dating back to 1168. A charter written in 1122 but falsely dated to 1064, refers to a recently built chapel in Dordrecht (thus not a church) which likely refers to the building that would become the Grote Kerk. A date more or less around the eleventh century is supported by archaeological evidence .

To what parish the 1064/1122 chapel belonged to remains unclear. There are two likely options. Either the parish belonged to Zwijndrecht I, which was lost in the early fourteenth century and – depending if you adhere to the theory that the Oude Maas west of Dordrecht came into existence in circa 1170-1200 ; compare recently – was physical attached to the part of the old town west of the Wijnhaven-Voorstraathaven (where the Grote Kerk is found). Alternatively, the Wijnhaven/Voorstraathaven was never a natural boundary and the Grote Kerk parish was split from (Groot-)Sliedrecht in the east.

A relationship with Kruiskerk/Erkentrudenkerk, which borders Dordrecht to the south, is unlikely given the topography of the town and the position of the church. However, as Dordrecht grew, parts of the Kruiskerk parish (east of the Voorstraathaven and south of the Visstraat/Bagijnhof were likely appropriated by the growing town and its parish. The two parishes of Dordrecht did not extend beyond the city walls, which make it likely that the parishes grew synchronously with extensions of the town (comparable to Amsterdam and Leiden).

Dordrecht: Nieuwkerk

The parish of Nieuwkerk (New Church), first referred to as such in 1285, only covers a small corner of the medieval city of Dordrecht: separated from the Grote Kerk parish by the Wijnhaven, Distelsteiger and Mariënbornstraat. Its territory is closely linked to the land and a stronghold of the Merwede family, before a new castle was constructed eastwards. The supposed consecration of the church in 1175 cannot be confirmed, but is not unlikely. In 1422 a new church was constructed . Is this a reaction to an influx of people leaving the submersed countryside and moving to the city?

It is fairly certain that the parish of Nieuwkerk used to belong to the (Groot-)Sliedrecht parish (which extended to the city walls in the east) – in contrast to the Grote Kerk, whose parish territory was (probably) split from Zwijndrecht I (lost to floods in the early fourteenth century) .

Groot-Sliedrecht (Merwede, Kraaiestein, Lang Ambacht, Kort Ambacht)

Also known as Sliedrecht (although the area north of the river Merwede adopts this name after the flood). A substantial parish which covered the secular judicial-administrative districts Kort Ambacht, Lang Ambacht, Kraaiestein, and Merwede.

It is bordered by Dordrecht to the west, de Graaf to the south, Houweningen to the east and the river Merwede to the north. The locations of the church (within Lang Ambacht?) and of the grange of the cistercian monastery of Heisterbach near the Rhine at Bonn, which became a monastery of regular canons in 1410 and which included a chapel are both speculative. Apart from ruins of the castles Kraaiestein and Merwede, little survived the aftermath of the flood.

Oversliedrecht (Lokhorst, Niemandsvriend, Naaldwijk)

Also known as Klein-Sliedrecht and, after 1421, Sliedrecht. In fifteenth- and sixteenth-century episcopal administration the area is sometimes confusingly (and erroneously) referred to as Groot-Sliedrecht. The parish is divided in three administrative-judicial areas: Lokhorst (two separate parts, one of which included the church), Niemandsvriend (including the Tolsteegkapel), and Naaldwijk.

The parish and its borders were not directly affected by the St Elisabeth’s Flood.

Oud-Alblas

One of the older churches in the study area, usually referred to simply as Alblas. The church is located along the small river of the same name.

A fifth of the secular territory of Alblasserdam, a parish later partitioned from Alblas, belonged to the parish of Alblas . This section can be likely identified with the Vinkenpolder or Vinkenwaard south of the church of Alblasserdam and south of the river.

The parish and its borders were not directly affected by the St Elisabeth’s Flood.

Alblasserdam

The parish was separated from the older parish of Oud-Alblas and differed from the secular territory of Alblasserdam (which included the Vinkenwaard – see Oud-Alblas – and Donkersloot, a parish permanently lost to the water at the end of the fourteenth century).

The parish and its borders were not directly affected by the St Elisabeth’s Flood.

Dussen-Munsterkerk with Voornsaterwaard

The area of the lordship Dussen north of the river Meuse and – mostly – south of the homonymous river, flowing over into the river Voorn (the section of river between the confluence of the rivers Dussen and Middelt and it flowing into the river Meuse), belonged to the decanate Zuid-Holland: the parish Munsterkerk.

The church also included a chapter of secular canons, which was moved before 1333 to Brielle. The location of the church can roughly be traced back to a handful of cadastral parcels near the Oude Straat (Archis 50637). Remarkably, this would mean that the church was located at the confluence of the Middelt and Dussen, just north of the Dussen river. Therefore, we have included a small section to our parish borders, south of the river Middelt. Allowing this area to be part of Munsterkerk (instead of Muilkerk) also fits in with the known ratio of the morgentalen (taxable arable land) of the two parts of Dussen.

This area was completely submersed after 1421, and the church was permanently abandoned. The remaining parts of Dussen-Munsterkerk were transferred to neighbouring Dussen-Muilkerk, part of the decanate of Altena or Woudrichem.

Kruiskerk with Tolloisen and part-Dubbeldam

Also known as Tolloisen, Erkentrudenkerk, and Dubbel. The names of the church have been the subject of significant confusion from the early sixteenth century onwards. In 1216 the church is first mentioned as ‘Dubbel’, which can be interpreted best as ‘our church along the river Dubbel’. Between 1240 and 1357 it was named ‘Erkentrudenkerk’, named after a potential founder, just like remarkably many other (old) churches in the area north of the Meuse (Wolbrandskerk, Herradeskerk/Arntswaard, Tieselenskerk, Botteskerk/Houweningen, Ridderkerk, Leiderkerk, Thiedradeskerk, Ammekerk). The parish church was located in the secular jurisdiction of Tolloisen, and assumed this name from 1345 to 1424/25. Between 1385 and 1418, the name Kruiskerk is also used. In 1357 the church is referred to as ‘Toloysen alias Erkentrudekerc’. Apart from the lordship Tolloisen (which can be divided in several parts, including an area called Kruiskerk), the parish also included the section of the lordship Dubbeldam north of the river Dubbel. The area south of the river belonged to the parish Wolbrandskerk. To the north, the parish was bounded by the Graaf, a human made drainage canal, possibly following the trajectory of an old Roman road passing through Dordrecht (‘Koningsweg’).

After the St Elisabeth’s Flood, which submersed almost all of the parish, the name Kruiskerk was continued in the small section of the parish that had not been lost to the water: the area just south of the city of Dordrecht, which included the former Vuilpoort chapel. This chapel took over the name and function of parish church from the submersed Kruiskerk in 1452. The location of the former church was rediscovered during archaeological excavations in 1990 . From this excavation (AMK 16174) it can be concluded that the village was inhabited from at least the mid-11th to the early 15th century. A neighbouring fishing settlement, inhabited from the 12th, possibly second half of the 11th century onwards, was deserted before 1300 – possibly caused by the creation of the Dubbeldam in 1282.

Almsvoet

Village and parish north of the Meuse and Alm rivers, and south of the Graaf, a human made drainage canal, possibly following the trajectory of an old Roman road passing through Dordrecht (‘Koningsweg’). The east and west boundaries of the parish have been estimated using the ratios of morgentalen (taxable arable land) of this and neighbouring lordships.

The location of the church within the parish is unclear, although a location near the river can be expected. Near its current location on the map, some medieval archaeological finds were uncovered. The church was one of the oldest in the area, dating back to before 1076 .

Eemkerk

Village and parish north of the Alm river, and south of the Graaf, a human made drainage canal, possibly following the trajectory of an old Roman road passing through Dordrecht (‘Koningsweg’). The east and west boundaries of the parish have been estimated using the ratios of morgentalen (taxable arable land) of this and neighbouring lordships.

The location of the church, first mentioned in 1216, within the parish is unclear, but on sixteenth-century maps two crosses indicate the location of Eemkerk and the monastery Eemstein – after 1421 moved to Kijfhoek in the Zwijndrechtse Waard. The river Eem, after which the church, village, and lordship was named, cannot be located using subsurface models. The location of the Eemdam, which included a chapel and thus most likely a small settlement, is therefore conjectural. It is now positioned near to where the castle Almstein is located on sixteenth-century maps.

Arntswaard with Op-Alm

Also known as Herradeskerk (‘Lord Arnoud’s Church). Parish and village north of the Meuse and Voorn and south of the Alm rivers, covering three lordships: Arntswaard ‘on the Meuse’ in the southwest, Arntswaard ‘on the Alm’ in the north, and Op-Alm in the east. The former two are sometimes referred to as ‘both Arntswaarden’. the church is first mentioned in 1105.

According to Muller , the borders between Raamsdonk and Standhazen, and between Werken and Werkendam were aligned to the church of Arntswaard, but I found this hard to implement in the overall reconstruction. If the border between Werken and Werkendam used in the early sixteenth century is identical to the one prior to the St Elisabeth’s Flood, this would create a line stretching through the middle of the Arntswaard parish, much more eastward than where the church is usually is located, also already in the sixteenth century (on the river Meuse). This line crosses the – estimated – border between Standhazen and Raamsdonk in the south, most notably in Op-Alm (not Arntswaard!), south of an unknown waterway separating Op-Alm and Arntswaard, and just north of the reconstructed confluence of the Voorn, Meuse, and Donge rivers (area just west of Hank, around the Bleeke Kil). A few hundred meters northwest from where these lines align, a fourteenth-century fortified house was excavated, which has been associated (without evidence) to Arntswaard. However, my association of this area with the lordship Op-Alm, rather than Arntswaard, and the lack of contemporary sources Muller provides for his statement, make me hesitant to follow him. The current location on the map is a rough estimate, following the location provided by early sixteenth-century maps.

Alignment of the borders of Werken-Werkendam (purple) and two likely options for the border of Raamsdonk-Standhazen (blue). Where these lines cross, according to Muller 1921 (p. 240) the church of Arntswaard was located. Whether this is correct, is unclear.

Tieselenskerk (Oudeland)

The church is located within the homonymous Tieselenswaard and within the administrative-judicial area called Oudeland (old land), both of which makes it likely that this was (one of the) first churches in the area. It is however, first mentioned in 1126: much later than neighbouring Leiderkerk (1010/1018), whereas at neighbouring Wolbrandskerk graves were uncovered that can be dated to “894-1016” and “979-1154” . The exact location of Tieselenskerk, as well as the precise area size and borders of Oudeland, are particularly hard to grasp – also for witnesses in the sixteenth century.

The parish is completely submersed after 1421.

Strienemonde (submersed <1395)

A parish and important river toll located along the Striene river, which, together with the Meuse, constituted the border between the bishoprics Utrecht and Liège. Because Strienemonde was a parish belonging to Utrecht, it must have located west of the Striene. This therefore probably excludes the small hilled area called Strienemonde in the Hoeksche Waard that was not submersed and which features on a map of around 1500. However, near to that point, on the other side of what used to be the river Striene, evidence of a settlement was found by archaeologists (AMK 16158). A few hundred meters north of this point, an area was called ‘tol gors’ in the same map of around 1500 (salt marsh of the toll). The parish likely covered more or less the later reclaimed lands of Piershil and Oud-, Nieuw-, and Zuid-Beijerland. Apart from being bound by the Striene in the east, it was bound by the Meuse in the north.

Strienemonde was first mentioned in 1241, although it is unclear whether the settlement featured a church at that moment. In 1325 a ‘new (rebuilt?) church’ is mentioned. The settlement is (re)claimed by the sea in the second half of the fourteenth century and mentioned as submersed in the administration of the bishop in 1395, although in 1406/07 the church briefly contributed funds to the bishop: showing that the church was not yet completely written off.

Rhoon and Pendrecht

It seems likely that both Pendrecht and Rhoon have always been part of the same parish. Its church was first located in Pendrecht (first mentioned in 1112/28), and somewhere in the early 13th century transferred to Rhoon, were the castle was located. However, from the moment Pendrecht is likely submersed (1372-1376) the administration of the diocese Utrecht starts to mention Pendrecht again – sometimes clearly confused with Papendrecht .

In 1467, the parish was transferred from the deanery of Zuidholland to the deanery of Schieland. To what degree the parish was affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood is unclear. In 1475/76 it is (briefly? erroneously?) classified as ‘submersed’.

Papendrecht

An old parish, first mentioned in 1105, but possibly dating back to before 1085 . Not directly affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood of 1421.

Ridderkerk (submersed)

In the mid-fifteenth century also briefly known as Nieuwkerk (‘new church’). In late-fifteenth- and sixteenth-century episcopal administration and around the same time the former name of the parish Ridderkerk reappears in sources, Nieuwkerk starts to be referred to as a separate church, which does not contribute taxes. This is likely an administrative error.

Already before 1421, attempts were made to reclaim parts of the parish which were submersed during a series of flood events in the years 1372-1376. The church did not contribute taxes in 1395 and was not yet mentioned in episcopal list of parishes in 1421 (drawn up after the St Elisabeth’s Flood). The parish did start to contribute again from 1424/25 onwards. We assume that the new church was built on or around the former church site, which likely still provided a suitable high point in the landscape.

Schobbende (submersed)

Also known as Schobbeinde, In de Schobbe, Schobbe and Everock (later, but possibly a misreading: Schobbe and Everskerk). Mentioned only in 1255 and likely submersed in the years 1372-1376. It is missing from the list of 1395.

Its location is not known, but given the high amount of Roman and medieval archaeological evidence found directly north the Meuse river in the middle of the parish, a location near the church of Mijnsheerenland (founded in 1441) is very much possible. Others have placed the church either to the east or west of the parish, as deduced from the ‘-ende’ (end) suffix. The parish boundaries are mostly copied from the fifteenth-century parish Mijnsheerenland (van Moerkerken).

Carnisse (submersed)

The first reference of a church dates back to the year 1100. It was likely submersed in the years 1372-1376 and never rebuilt. The location of the church should be found along the recently rediscovered dyke of the Riederwaard. .

After the land ws reclaimed in the late fifteenth century, and a new village developed along the Voordijk. A new church was built in West-Barendrecht, with Oost- and West-Barendrecht and Carnisse forming one parish.

Barendrecht (submersed)

In 1264, permission to build a church is granted. The old church stood on the dyke of the Riederwaard, somewhere between the island called ‘the old dyke’ and Heerjansdam (in Oost-Barendrecht). It was submersed in the years 1372-76, and the flood of 1421 thwarted any chances of quickly reclaiming the land. In the fifteenth-century administration of the diocese, there is confusion between Katendrecht and Barendrecht.

A new church on the Voordijk was consecrated in 1512, located in West-Barendrecht.

Rijsoord with Strevelshoek

Founded in 1336 as one of the new churches in the reclaimed Zwijndrechtse Waard (flooded in early 14th century). The parish was not directly affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood of 1421.

The administrative-judicial area Strevelshoek also belonged to the parish.

Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht with Schildmanskinderenambacht, Sandelingen Ambacht

Founded after 1336 as one of the new churches in the reclaimed Zwijndrechtse Waard (flooded in early 14th century). The parish was not directly affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood of 1421.

The administrative-judicial areas Schildmanskinderenambacht, Oostendam, Sandelingen Ambacht (or Adriaan Pietersz Ambacht) and several of the so-called Volgerlanden also belonged to the parish.

De Lindt with Zwijndrecht, Molenambacht

Founded in 1331 as one of the new churches in the reclaimed Zwijndrechtse Waard (flooded in early 14th century). It is located along the Level river, and sometimes referred to as Develkerk. The church seems to have been temporarily submersed after the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood in 1421, but is contributing to the diocese again in 1480/81. The church tower – damaged in a fire in 1912 – seems to have predated the 1421 flood .

The administrative-judicial areas Molenambacht (or Meerdervoort), Groot-Lindt, Klein-Lindt and Zwijndrecht (or Schobbelans Ambacht) belonged to the parish. A chapel was located at the ferry of Zwijndrecht, around which the village Zwijndrecht developed. Before the floods of the early fourteenth century, the village Zwijndrecht was probably located elsewhere (see below).

Heerjansdam with De Waal (Heinenoord)

Also known as Heinkerk and Serheienkerk. Possible a legal successor of Thiedradeskerk (submersed before 1300-1315), which should likely be associated with the eleventh-century churchyard found just north of the village.

Founded after 1336 as one of the new churches in the reclaimed Zwijndrechtse Waard (flooded in early 14th century). The parish was not directly affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood of 1421.

Apart from Heerjansdam I assume that the parish also included the submersed administrative-judicial area De Waal. This explains why part of the lands outside the dykes at Heerjansdam belonged to Heinenoord (which can, to some degree, be regarded as the legal successor of De Waal).

Heer-Oudelands-Ambacht

Founded after 1336 as one of the new churches in the reclaimed Zwijndrechtse Waard (flooded in early 14th century). The parish was not directly affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood of 1421.

Kijfhoek

Founded after 1336 as one of the new churches in the reclaimed Zwijndrechtse Waard (flooded in early 14th century). The parish was not directly affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood of 1421.

The monastery of regular canons (Eemstein) was relocated here after being submersed by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood.

Donkersloot (submersed)

A parish lost to the water after 1372-1376. The area, still recognisable in the current landscape, belonged to the administrative-judicial area Albasserdam, but was cut from it when the Merwede (now: Noord) took a more eastward course. After this, the area was transferred to the parish Ridderkerk.

The location of the church can only be estimated and might be more close to the former course of the Merwede.

Leiderkerk with Poelwijk and Maasdam

Leiderkerk, also Lederkerk or Leinderkerk, is one of the older churches in the area, first mentioned in 1010/18. It is built on land owned by the bishop of Liège, but north of the Meuse (thus in the bishopric Utrecht). It became completely submersed after 1421.

The parish also included Poelwijk and Maasdam, where a chapel was located. After the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood in 1421, this chapel attracted parishioners from flooded areas both to the east (Leiderkerk) and west (Schobbeinde) and received the status of parish church in 1445/50.

The boundaries of the parish to the north (Ammekerk) and east (Tiesselenskerk) are rough estimates. The north boundary is assumed to have followed the border between Maasdam and Puttershoek. The church can probably be located around an archaeological monument near ‘s-Gravendeel (AMK 16176), opposite from Wieldrecht.

Houweningen

Houweningen or Botteskerk was a parish located north of the Graaf (see above), west of Werkendam, south of the Merwede, and east of Groot-Sliedrecht. It was first mentioned in 1076/99. The abbey of Floreffe (later Mariënweerd) held the right to appoint the parish priest. In 1105 there was a conflict with (Groot-)Sliedrecht about which church was a daughter of the other. It was decided that Houweningen was a daughter church of Sliedrecht.

The church is located next to the Merwede and was excavated a few years ago (AMK 10701). Apart from a few strokes of land in the north, most of the parish was submersed after the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood in 1421.

Ammekerk (Puttershoek and De Mijl)

It is not completely clear how old the parish is, although the combination of a given name and the suffix -kerk (church) could signal an old (ca. 10-11th century) foundation. The parish is however first recorded in 1328.

The parish covers the administrative-judicial areas Puttershoek and De Mijl. The location of the church is almost random. On a sixteenth-century map the location is marked with a cross, but the map is not very precise. The Waal (now: Oude Maas) could also have had a more northerly, meandering course – as suggested by the dyke of De Lindt on the north bank of the Waal. In that case, Ammekerk could also have been located much more northerly.

Wolbrandskerk (Polre, Nesse, and part-Dubbeldam)

A church located on the river Dubbel, which has been recently excavated (AMK 16210). Although it was not directly clear whether Wolbrandskerk or Kruiskerk had been excavated, it is certain that this is the former. The parish consisted of the part of the ambacht Dubbeldam south of the river Dubbel, Nesse (or Jan Zegersz. Ambacht) and Polre (or Heer Genemanspolder).

Like Ammekerk also a combination of a given name with the suffix -kerk. In this case, archaeological evidence confirms this suspicion: two graves can be dated to 894-1016 and 979-1154 . There has also been found some late 11th century ceramics . Recent excavations identified a wooden predecessor of the church which can be dated to 1028. Foor wooden beams even dated back to the 8th century, much earlier than most evidence of (post-Roman) human occupation in the wider area .

Then there is a short gap in the archaeological findings. The foundations of a (new?) church can be dated to ca. 1278 , simultaneous with the creation of the dam four kilometers downstream in the river Dubbel (first referred to in 1282). However, in 1328 the church is lacking from the administration of the bishop. This fits in well with evidence that the roof of the church can be dated to shortly after or around 1350, with beams having been cut down after 1321, 1330, 1339, and after 1343 . After this, the church is continuously in use until 1421.

The picture emerges of a rather frail church foundation that was frequently affected by flooding and/or other environmental misfortunes.

Two former parishes in the Zwijndrechtse Waard that drowned in the early fourteenth century have not been listed, since it is not clear whether their parishes had a formal legal successor around 1421, or whether their former territories were simply replaced by a complete new parish division. It concerns Thiedradeskerk (see Heerjansdam above) and Zwijndrecht I. Thiedradeskerk is likely to be linked with the eleventh-century churchyard recovered by archeologists just north of Heerjansdam (see ). Zwijndrecht I (for Zwijndrecht II, see De Lindt above) had originally been the only other church in the Zwijndrechtse Waard. Its territory likely covered Dordrecht before the town became a separate parish in the eleventh century. The location of Zwijndrecht I on our overview map has been one of two options put forward by .

Until 1328, the neighbouring parishes Drenkwaard (also known as Westenrijk, Blinkvliet and Couwenhoven, and currently called Zuidland) and Abbenbroek, westward of Strienemonde, also belonged to the deanery of Zuid-Holland, but they were transferred to Putten and Voorne respectively. The parish Rhoon (and Pendrecht) was transferred from Zuid-Holland to the deanery of Schieland shortly before 1467.

Deanery of Altena (Utrecht): Nieuwerkerk op de Alm

Nieuwerkerk op de Alm

This is the only parish church of the deanery of Altena lost to the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood. The church was likely located near the river Alm and near the Graaf – which, at this location, cannot be easily reconstructed. The position, size, and boundaries of the parish are very conjectural and should be handled with utmost care.

Deanery of Hilvarenbeek (Liège): west of Geertruidenberg

Geertruidenberg with Made and Standhazen

The town and surrounding countryside of Geertruidenberg (which also includes Made and Stuivezand) have not been directly affected by the flood.

The parish also included Standhazen, which has been more severely affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood of 1421. The position of the Donge towards the Meuse – boundary with Raamsdonk – could not be clearly defined.

Drimmelen with Hoekenisse

The location of the village has been moved several times. The churchyard that is nowadays called Oud-Drimmelen (Old Drimmelen) is actually established in the mid-fifteenth century, simultaneous with attempts to establish a new church in Dubbelmonde (see below). The Drimmelen of 1421 could have been located more closely to present-day Drimmelen .

Apart from Drimmelen itself, the parish likely also included the small ambachtsheerlijkheid Hoekenisse. This small area, located on the Meuse, is not easily put in the map. Contemporary accounts about the positioning of Almonde, Standhazen, Drimmelen, and Hoekenisse contradict each other.

Dubbelmonde-Almonde

A twin-parish with two parish churches, which also included the area of Hooge Zwaluwe – where a chapel had been erected. Dubbelmonde – located probably across from the mouth of the Dubbel – is already mentioned in 1105. Almonde – located across from the mouth of the Alm – is first mentioned as a parish in 1400. Both locations could not be identified more closely, so the points on the map should be handled with care.

After 1421, both parishes submersed. However, somewhere in the middle of the fifteenth century, a new but short-lived attempt was made to build a church. In 1461 is was submersed again and abandoned for good . The location of this mid-fifteenth-century church is likely related to ‘dat kerckelant’ mentioned on the 1560 map of Pieter Sluyter. The remaining lands of the parish became part of the parish Hooge and Lage Zwaluwe, established in 1483.

Wieldrecht with Twintighoeven, Lage Zwaluwe

A parish, first mentioned in 1285, that covered the administrative-judicial areas of Wieldrecht, Twintighoeven, and Lage Zwaluwe. The church itself can almost certainly be linked to an archaeological monument where medieval burials were discovered (AMK 16177). This monument is located at the point the river Wiele enters the Meuse. Both the southwestern boundary with Weede and the eastern boundary of Twintighoeven with Dubbelmonde can be retraced in the landscape and on sixteenth century maps. The parish was bounded in the north by the Meuse.

The remaining part ‘Lage Zwaluwe’ became part of a new parish with a church in Hooge Zwaluwe.

Weede with Broek and Weedse Zwaluwe

Weede was an exclave of the Land of Putten, bounded by the Land of Strijen to the south and west, the Meuse on the north, and the Land of Breda/Nassau in the east.

The church is first mentioned in 1258. In 1348 Weede successfully protested against acknowledging its appendix church Broek (or Weederbroek) to a full parish church. The locations of both churches are based on the georeferenced map of Pieter Sluyter from 1560, which lists two ruins. This map was also the source for estimating the location of the Wiele river, boundary between Weede and Wieldrecht. I have assumed that the Weedse Zwaluwe, a part of Moerdijk, belonged to the parish. The boundaries between Broek and Weede have been deduced from maps displaying the so-called ‘Broekse concessie’ in the sixteenth century.

The sluices at Broek are supposed to have broken first during the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood. After this flood, parishioners retracted to the only part of the parish not affected: the Keizersdijk. There the church of Cillaarshoek was founded in 1486. Until 1832 this small ambacht, covering only the dyke and adjacent houses, existed as a separate municipality.

Zevenbergen

The town, like Niervaart very much invested in the peat industry, was not directly affected itself by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood, but it is likely that much of the surrounding land was. It took a long time before Zevenbergen started to contribute to the taxes of the County of Holland again, and it never reached great significance as a town.

Niervaart

At the time of Saint Elisabeth’s Flood in 1421, Niervaart (named after a ‘new canal’ for peat extraction) was probably already reduced to a small area around the church. Moreover, a year earlier, in 1420, the small town (in 1357 it received town privileges) experienced a fire. However, it did not immediately submerse in 1421. In 1443 the town or village was still inhabited and probably it was submersed only in 1449 .

The location of the medieval town was a couple of hundred meters southwest of the current town, established in the sixteenth century, walled in 1583, and renamed Klundert .

Strijen with Westmaas

One of the oldest parish churches in the region (10th or 11th century) and the most northwestern parish of the Liège bishopric. It was bounded in the north by the Meuse river and Nieuw-Strijen, and west by the Striene river. To the east, it bordered Weede (exclave of the Land of Putten). I assume its eastern border was the Keizersdijk – the western dyke of the Grote Waard. An earlier church was perhaps located more north(west) towards the Meuse, but moved to its current location well before the flood of 1421 .

It is not completely clear to what extent Strijen was affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood. It could be possible that parts of the parish were flooded during the series of floods in the 1370s and that 1421 was a final straw. It seems the church and village was heavily affected. In 1511, the church of Strijen was rebuilt.

Before 1411 the polder Westmaas was created, which was lost in 1421 and reclaimed in 1436. The chapel of Westmaas (dating to 1436 as well?) became a parish of its own shortly after 1448 . Together with Nieuw-Strijen, it provided church services to inhabitants of Strijen until 1511.

Nieuw-Strijen

Also known as Sint Anthoniepolder. One of the few parishes not directly affected by the Saint Elisabeth’s Flood of 1421. The land was reclaimed in 1357/58 – reclaimed, because along the Meuse river Roman archaeological finds have been found. The church itself – an appendix of Strijen – will have been founded somewhat later. In 1401, ‘another’ parish priest was appointed .

The parish is located directly south of the Meuse river, thus part of the bishopric Liège.

Remaining parishes

This section includes a gallery of the parishes whose boundaries were less affected by the St Elisabeth’s Flood (or not at all): namely those in the deanery of Altena/Woudrichem (except above-mentioned Uit-Alm or Nieuwerkerk op de Alm), the deanery of Tiel/Arnhem, and deanery of Hilvarenbeek (east of Geertruidenberg): the latter two covering Holland’s Land of Heusden and Langstraat regions.

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The maps and GIS files are available from the IISH Data Collection (CC-BY-SA 4.0).

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