Picture of Painting

Willem van der Marck (approx. 1542-1578)


Willem, Baron of Lumey, Count of Marck, Lord of Seraing and hereditary Guardian of Franchimont, was 'relieved' of his estates sometime during the sixties (1560-1570) and banned from the Dutch Republic by the Spaniards. For a time he was active as a rover in the area of Luik during which he apparantly did justice to the nickname "Swine of the Ardennen" of his 15th century forefather.

During the Spanish rule of Filips II (1555-1598) in Holland he was active in the resistance by the "Watergeuzen" as admiral of the fleet. Earlier on, the geuzen were forced to give way to the governor-general Don Fernando Alvarez de Toledo (1507-1582) and were then leading the lives of privateers.

Together with Willem Blois van Treslong he led the the Watergeuzen when they conquered Den Briel on the April 1st 1572. This attack was not their original intention. The watergeuzen were on their way to the Isle of Texel to attack the Spanish fleet they believed to be stationed there. After this they would try to establish one or more strongholds in one or more of the ports in the North-Western area of the Netherlands. En route they captured several Spanish merchant ships. When they passed the Flemish sands the wind turned and they decided to change their course to Den Briel. At first they merely intended to sack Den Briel, but Van Oranje ordered it to be held against the Spaniards.

Van der Marck fell from grace in 1573 when he was unwilling to follow the orders of Willem Van Oranje. He was, among other things, accused of having issued unauthorized Letters of Marque to untrustworthy Captains. On the 5th or 6th of January he was imprisoned. He was acquitted in May 1973. Later on he was again accused and imprisoned, but this time for rebellion. He escaped from prison and went into hiding in the city of Rotterdam. Due to the intervention of Van Oranje he was not prosecuted, however. Van der Marck was released in may 1574. He died in 1578, reputedly from the bite of a dog but it is unclear whether this is true.


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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
Vrijman, L.C.
Kaapvaart en zeeroverij / L.C. Vrijman. - Amsterdam, [1938]
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