2016’s Eminent Person: Michiel de Ruyter

For this year’s eminent person study I decided to make the Dutch maritime legend, Michiel de Ruyter, the subject of my project. Born on March 24th, 1607 in┬áVlissingen, Zeeland, Dutch Republic to a poor family of beer porters he became a sailor at the age of 11 on a whaling ship. Serving briefly as a musketeer in the Dutch army, then going back to the merchant life (with a bit of privateering on the side) he eventually joined the Dutch navy and fought in the Portuguese Restoration war against the Spanish. From this point forward (after briefly trying to retire), he served in the Dutch navy as a captain and later became became an admiral. He was known for a couple of key achievements. He invented the concept of sea soldiers, also called marines. He created an incredibly complex set of flags which were used to keep Dutch fleets organized during battles. Lastly, he scored a variety of major victories against the French and the English, including the most embarrassing naval defeat in English history, the Raid on the Medway. Many historians believe that if de Ruyter had not existed, the Netherlands would have been taken over by either the English, the French or both.


When I was looking for an eminent person this year, I was looking for someone who was similar to me and had done something extraordinary. I started with the similar part and looked for notable Dutch people. One of the first options was Michiel de Ruyter. About 5 minutes into reading about him, I knew he was going to be the centre of my project. One thing that really struck me as interesting was that she was both very intelligent and an outside the box thinker. For example, he once used butter to defeat pirates (more on that later in the project). He had this one move that I thought was really cool. During the beginning a line battle with the English, Michiel’s ship got closer and closer to the English admiral’s ship. As they got closer they prepared to fire. The English admiral got a bit ahead of himself and fired to early and all his cannonballs hit the water. Mere seconds later, he was bombarded by the cannons of the Dutch ship. Obviously, the admiral was very confused as the Dutch had the same cannons as him, but someone their shots had gone farther. Michiel’s secret was that he used the wind ┬áto tilt the ship by moving his sails. By tipping the firing side up, the cannons shot further. Stay tuned for the next post.

I recently noticed that none of my eminent posts have been published. I had them all as drafts. Sorry.

1 thought on “2016’s Eminent Person: Michiel de Ruyter

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