DORDRECHT – A flood of unprecedented magnitude is a big part of the counties of Holland and Zeeland underwater. Especially near Dordrecht has been hit. Thousands of people were drowned.

The flooding was caused by heavy northwesterly storm. In addition, the water was already very high in the rivers by heavy rainfall in recent times. That combination was too much for the seawall near the villages Broek and Wieldrecht. Seawater flooded the area within.

Then at Werkendam, the water on either side of the dike, also went to the dike. Thus all the water from the Merwede, in Werkendam, to the lowest point flowed: Groote Waard.

disaster area

Virtually the entire Groote Waard under water. That equates to a range of 42.000 hectare, about 400 square kilometers. In the area are about 72 villages and hamlets,. Most flooded, even though that in some places but a little low.

But in other villages, just plug the church still above water. The flow of water has washed away the wooden houses. It is expected that fell here most victims.

De Groote Waard, once a major agricultural area, looks like an inland sea. Among the affected villages are places like Houwingen, Sliedrecht, Tolloijsen, Almsvoet, Twintighoeven and Double Monde.

Villagers who could get away in time are captured in Dordrecht. With all the possessions they could carry, They arrive at the gates to. They are collected under more Our Lady House and the House Sacrament convent to Visstraat.

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More often affected

It is not the first flood affecting the Groote Waard. As early as the twelfth century there was a dike breach. In the 70s of the last century, several levees collapsed under the pressure of the water.

The largest and most famous breakthrough was 1404, then also the name day of St. Elizabeth in November. Therefore, this new flood by some called the Second Elizabeth Flood.


The question remains how it could have happened that so many levees are breached. This may have to do with the neglect of the dike maintenance. In recent decades a lot of money went into the funding of the power struggle in Holland between the Angles and Cods.

The battle had been particularly fierce in Groote Waard, Dordrecht where three years has been besieged by the Angles. Last year this happened to Geertruidenberg, then by the Cods. Due to the flood, both parties are now separated from each other.

Another cause is the peat in the area. Peat cutters from Dordrecht dig the peat, just below the levees. That weakens the strength of the dikes. The stabbing of peat near dikes prohibited, but it does happen.


The consequences for the region are enormous. Not only because people and animals lost their lives, Groote Waard also Holland Granary. Because the salt water can flow in the polder, the land temporarily unsuitable for arable.

It is also a chore to repair dikes and prevent a flood of this caliber in the future. The water still flows straight through the polder. It is expected that the repair work begin as soon as possible, if the water is pulled back.

For the role of Dordrecht as a trading city, the consequences are incalculable. The city has stack right and traders are obliged to first unload their stuff in Dordrecht. That trade position makes Dordt is one of the main cities of Holland.

If the flood cause the course of waterways diversion, than important position could well come under pressure.

Hoe ging het verder?

Three years later they did it again. In de nacht van 18 op 19 november 1424 there was another flood, the third St. Elizabeth Flood. The repairs to the levees was largely for naught. After that no attempts were done to restore the Great Worth. That was one of the causes of the development of the Biesbosch.

But in the period 1422-1424 the dikes broke through several times and flowed above the river worth. The area thus became a tidal: the Bergsche Field.

What remains of the villages was left was demolished. For example, bricks were taken out of churches, to reuse as construction material elsewhere.

By flooding the area looked like a patchwork of islands that were submerged at high which. Traders did soon find a way to avoid Dordrecht, which was a lot of money.

Add to that the great fire of 1457 and was played in on the economic role of Dordrecht. The city was overtaken by cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam later.

Yet politically Dordrecht remained a play time, because it retained the Stations of the oldest city of Holland '. Thus found in 1572 First Free State Assembly in Dordrecht place.

Only in the seventeenth century from Dordrecht again started draining and the area around the city. In 1603 developed 'Old country Dubbeldam'. Then it went hard and one after another polder was built. Villages did not return, or outside places like Crabbehof, Amstelwijck and Middenhoeve.

In the Dagvantoen podcast, attention was previously paid to the Elisabeth flood. Curator Marianne Eekhout of the Dordrechts Museum explains who Saint Elisabeth actually was.


About the number of victims is quibbling for years by historians. There are numbers to 100.000 called, but so many people there were not in the area (circa 8.000 tot 20.000). Moreover, many people remained unharmed.

According to the Chronicle Tiel (written around 1450) There are probably around 2.000 deceased people and that number is believed by many historians as a reasonable estimate.

Locations and changes

If your cards then and now look, There are more things have changed. So the town was Slydregt still on the south side of the Merwede, while it is on the northern side.

There was a hamlet on the north side called Over-Slydregt. After the St. Elizabeth's flood and the destruction of Slydregt, went across town called Slydregt further.

The village Dubbeldam there even though it was for the Saint Elizabeth Flood, but in a different place. Archaeologists are not sure of the exact location, Dubbeldam but probably somewhere in the current quarter Krispijn located. Today the place is much further to the east.

A few villages as Acknowledge Trude Kerke and Cloud Fire Kerke be rediscovered.


Archeology Dordrecht – St. Elizabeth Flood

Nature Information – St. Elizabeth Flood

Brabant Historical Information Center – St. Elizabeth Flood

is History – St. Elizabeth Flood 1421

Text: Dave Datema

published: 01 oktober 2017

story number: 36

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