St. Elizabeth floods

St. Elizabeth flood 1 (1404)

On the 19th of November 1404, large areas of Flanders, Zeeland, and Holland, were flooded. The storm tide responsible became known as the First Saint Elizabeth’s flood. The damage was catastrophic. The area of Zeeland-Flanders had already been flooded 20 years earlier, in 1375. Through this, the Zuudzee was created. Around the Zuudzee, polders were diked, and within these polders, new parishes arose. Unfortunately, in 1404, everything was destroyed again. This time, a complete spit that was home to a number of small towns such as Ijzendijke and Hugevliet, which were spared in 1375, was engulfed during the flood.

St. Elizabeth flood 2 (1421)

In 1421, the notorious Saint Elizabeth’s flood caused death and destruction in Zeeland and Holland for a second time. It is thought that the flood was caused by an extremely heavy north-western storm, followed by an extremely high storm tide. A spring tide was not responsible, as in 1953, but instead, wet weather led to the increase in river water levels. Gaps in the coastal line of the ‘Grote Waard’ (the southern side of the present-day province of South-Holland), resulting from previous floods, increased the severity of the flood. As a result, the flood reached a large sea arm between South-Holland and Zeeland, destroying the Grote Waard. The Grote Waard would never return to its original shape and form again. At the lowest point in-land where the flood waters reached, which was passed the city of Dordrecht, the water still remains today. At this point, the “Biesbosch” was born. It was not developed over a period of one day as the Myth tells us, but actually over a number of decades. Luckily, the impact of the floods in Zeeland was, on the whole, not too bad. The western section of Zeeland-Flanders was barely affected this time, but North-Beveland on the other hand was ravaged. The island was hit so severely that Jan van Beieren decided to cut taxes, so that people were more able to afford vital repairs. South-Beveland was also heavily affected. The parishes of Beoosten and Yerseke were at risk of being flooded again, in the event of another storm tide. In the years following the Elizabeth’s flood, the parishes of Schouwen and Duiveland were unable to pay their contributions to the bishop of Utrecht, because they too had to carry out costly repairs. On November the 19th, 1421, a total of thirty villages and 2,000 lives were lost in the floods.