Picture of Jean Bart

Jean Bart (1650-1702)

He was born in Duinkerken and grew up in a family of fishermen. His father was active as a privateer next to his fishing activities. At first Jean also worked in the fishing industry, but after a few years he enlisted into the Dutch navy. He was actively engaged in several battles in the second English war (1665-1667). In 1672 he returned to Duinkerken and became, together with his friend Karel Freyzer, active as a privateer. He was a particulalry notorious privateer, because he did not care whether merchants were accompanied by war ships or not. In 1676 he personally slew the Dutch captain Simon Loncke after entering his ship.

During the nine-year war (The Netherlands were allied with, among others, England and Spain against France, 1688-1697) the "Duinkerkers" again did heavy damage to the Dutch sea trade. He distinguished himself as a commander when he escaped from a blockade of the port of Duinkerken by a Dutch fleet in 1691. Afterwards he captured still more enemy merchant ships and his fame reached mythical proportions. Louis XIV was very pleased by the actions of Jean Bart and made him Captain in the French Navy. In 1694 Jean succeeded in bringing a French corn convoy unharmed from Norway to a French harbour. The French King awarded him highly for this service. In the same year Jean even succeeded in capturing a Dutch war ship by entering it. Something which had not previously happened in the entire history of the Dutch Republic. The Dutch commander Hidde de Vries was killed during the fighting. Upon his return to France he was raised to nobility by Louis XIV. In 1702 Jean Bart died of Mastitis.

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For this text I drew heavily on:
Prud'Homme van Reine, R.B. + EWvdO
Kapers op de kust : Nederlandse kaapvaart en piraterij 1500 - 1800 / R.B. Prud'Homme van Reine, E.W. van der Oest. - Vlissingen : ADZ Vlissingen, 1991
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