Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The war banner of the Spanish (in fact Portuguese) galleon San Mateo captured by the Dutch in 1588

In 1568 started the revolt in the Netherlands against their legal king, Philips II of Spain. Iit was the beginning of what is known in Dutch history as the Eighty Years War. The United Kingdom became an ally. When in 1588 Spain sent the famous Invincible Armada to conquer England the Dutch fleet supported the Royal Navy with as main task preventing the Spanish duke of Parma crossing the North Sea invading England with his army. The Armada was destroyed. Two of the Spanish galleons which were in fact former Portuguese were captured by the Dutch. The San Felipe (1) and San Mateo (2) belonged to the best ships serving in the Spanish navy. After a long struggle they were taken by the Dutch and brought to Vlissingen, Netherlands but were so heavy damaged and both sunk. Part of their guns were reused to arm Dutch warships and fortress.(3) Nowadays there is still one piece of remembrance available. Part of the war banner of the San Mateo is preserved. Sadly enough not to be seen by the public but the next photo gives an good impression .
Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden, Netherlands

In the Calendar of State papers Simancas: August 1588, 26-31 published on (BHO-British History Online) are several notes available in which both galleons are mentioned. For examples

407. Advices from Rouen. 28 Aug. Paris Archives, K.1567.
“Reports from Zeeland state that for want of a pilot the galleon "San Mateo" ran on a shoal near Flushing, where it was attacked by 20 ships from the town, 300 men of the attacking force being killed and many wounded. As it was seen that the galleon could not be saved, she surrendered on very good terms, the whole of her sick and wounded being conveyed to Flanders, and the rest held to ransom. Don Pedro Pimentel was walking about Flushing with only four men to guard him.”. He was questioned at The Hague and later released after paying a ransom.


439. Statement made by the Purser Pedro Coco Calderon, 24 Sept. Guerra, 221.
“The galleon "San Mateo" had her hull so riddled that she was also in a sinking condition, the pumps being powerless to diminish the water. At six o'clock in the morning, therefore, she came alongside the flagship and asked for help. The Duke sent a diver who stopped some of the leaks, but in the end the galleon was obliged to drop astern with the "San Felipe," and their subsequent fate is unknown ; but it is said they ran aground on the banks, there being no port near where they could take refuge.”

Both galleons are reported to be sunk. Strangely enough asked Jan Dirricxzoon Bieselinghe of Arnemuiden, Netherlands the Admiralty acquittal of payment of 40 pond Vlaams for the Spanish galleon he bought at Vlissingen!

K.J.S. Boston. Hart voor Leiden. Jan van Hout (1542-1609), stadssecretaris, dichter en vernieuwer, 2009.
José Luis Casado Soto. Los barcos espanoles des sig. XVI y la Gran Armada de 1588
Quirino da Fonseca. Os porugueses no mar.
Jacobus Scheltema. De uitrusting en ondergang der onoverwinnelijke vloot van Philips den Tweeden Koning van Spanje, in 1588.
J.C.A. Schokkenbroek. ‘Wherefore Serveth Justin with his Shipping of Zeeland?’The Dutch and the Spanish Aramada, 1588’ in: God’s Obvious Design. Papers for the Spanish Armada Symposium, Sligo, 1988. ed. Gallager, P. en Cruickshank, D.W.
Jan Wagenaar. Vaderlandsche historie, vervattende de geschiedenissen der nu Vereenigde Nederlanden, inzonderheid die van Holland, van de vroegste tijden af: etc. 8e Deel, 1792.
Calendar of State papers Simancas: August 1588, 26-31 gepubliceerd op (BHO-British History Online)
Resolutiën van de Gecommitteerde Raden ter Admiraliteit in Zeeland 1584-1648. Deel 1 1584-1591. Zeeuws Archief, Middelburg, 2012.

1. Built in 1583. Measurement 800 toneladas sueldo/510 toneles machos, dimensions 32,50 x 9,70 x 5,17 metres, an armament of 40 guns and a crew numbering 532 men (117 sailors, 425 soldiers_. Commanding officer don Francisco de Toledo.
2. Built in 1580. Measurement 600-900 toneladas sueldo/490 toneles machos, dimensions 7 x 5,10 metres, an armament of 34 guns and a crew numbering 397 men (120 sailors, 277 soldiers. Commanding officer don Diego Pimentel.
3. There is larger note available dealing with this banner and both galleons although in written in Dutch on the weblog Warbanner of Spanish galleon