Maritime Maquette Design
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Zeven Provinciën history

The Seven Provincial line ship

The seven provinces or 7 provinces from 1665 was a line ship and was also called United Provinces. The ship is best known as the flagship of Michiel de Ruyter. The seven were not part of a class, because ships were not built in series at the time.
The name of the ship comes from ' the Republic of the Zeven Provinciën.


Picture  The flagship of Michiel de Ruyter: the  Zeven Provinciën.

The fleet existed in the mid-seventeenth century from a battle fleet and ships that had to protect convoys. The Battle fleet was usually held in reserve. The convoys were smaller warships and were constantly deployed.

The ,ZevenProvinciën, were part of the battle fleet and were therefore meant to fight with the opponent's battle fleet. Ships such as the seven provinces were also deployed in amphibious operations: coastal bombardment and transport of Marines and/or soldiers.

Until 1654, the naval forces had only short-lived ships. It was very common for merchant ships to be used for naval battles. The warships were built just before a war and then sold again. The Republic was defeated during the first English war despite good admirals like Witte de with and Johan Everten by an opponent with much better ships. Only when it was too late did we realize that the Republic had to have ' permanent ' service  
a standing fleet. This was decided in 1654, and it was decided to extend the fleet.

The great man behind the improvement of the Naval Force was Council pensionary Johan de Witt.
The first expansion took place in the years 50. In September 1664, Johan de Witt started the discussion on another extension in The Hague. The chance of war with England was now 
great and Johan de Witt proposed extending the Battle fleet with a series of 24 ships. It was about 12 ships of 160 feet (about 46 meters) and 66 guns, and a series of 12 with a length of 42 meters and 56 pieces of artillery. 
When the States General agreed in December 1664, the construction of the first ships had already begun.

In the period December 1664-1666, a total of 60 new large naval vessels were built on shipyards of the naval forces and private yards. In Total, this building programme cost 8 million guilders; On average, just over 130,000 guilders per ship.

Picture  The shipyard of the Admiralty of Rotterdam. 

Construction and Test sailing
In the 17th century, ships were built without prior design. Much depended on the eye of the shipbuilder.
The Seven Provinces were not pre-designed and were based on a number of rules of thumb for shipbuilding, which were not even on paper.
Under the direction of building master Salomon Janszn van den Tempel, the Zeven Provinciën were built at the site of the Admiralty of the Maze at the herring

While the States general had yet to decide on the new plans, the Navy Yard had already begun. The building caught on in December 1664, but the winter was immediately delayed by frost. From The Hague, pressure was put on the shipyards to shoot with construction, in connection with a possible forthcoming war. In Rotterdam, one hundred men worked on the ' big ship ', as the later the Seven Provinces was called and in March 1665 it turned out that the construction quickly progressed.

In June 1665, the shipyard reported to the States-general that the ship had been left to water and that they were in the process of getting off. Within a month or six weeks it would be ready.

On 29 July 1665, the large ship was completed. But naval vessels who were built at the shipyard in Rotterdam were provided with armament, crew and supplies in the naval base of Hellevoetsluis. The new ships were therefore to be dragged via the Meuse towards the North Sea, then quickly reachable fromed and through the Goereese hole again at Hellevoetsluis inside. That was not without danger, because the English-where the Republic had now come to war-had obviously heard of the new flagship that this route had to be unarmed.

On 30 August the ship was brought to Den Briel (now: Brielle), where it was inspected by Johan de Witt. In the meantime the large Admiral ship had also the name the Seven Provinces gotten. There was a great chance that the seven would become the fleet's new flagship, as the previous flagship, The Eendracht, was exploding at the Battle of Lowestoft on 13 June. The commander of the fleet Lieutenant-Admiral of Wassenaer van O. A was killed in this.

The most exciting part of the trip to Hellevoetsluis began on September 4. At 8 o'clock in the morning the seven was brought out and the first Test tour took place. The new ship was escorted by other ships, for it had been heard from 10 to 12 English frigates who wanted to drill the new pride in the ground. But those ships did not stop the seven.

There was more good news. The Zeven Provinciën proved to be an excellent sailing ship. The escort ships had left half an hour earlier, but in the morning the big ship had already overtaken the escort and was even one hour ahead of the accompaniment. That evening it reached without problems the naval base, where Johan de Witt again awaited the ship to be able to see personally on the rounding.

The final stage before the ship could be put into service was not that simple. Because of the loss of the Eendracht there was no commander in chief and there was already a shortage of guns. The guns of the Concord would be placed on the seven, but that could not take place after Lowestoft. That loss could not be taken care of. There was also a shortage of staff. 


Picture  Michiel de Ruyter Flagship of Michiel de Ruyter

On 11 August 1665, Vice-Admiral De Ruyter was promoted to Lieutenant-Admiral of Holland and West-Friesland. LADM de Ruyter became commander-in-Chief of the fleet. According to an old tradition, de Ruyter had to move to Rotterdam, because the oldest Admiralty was established there. However, the States General wanted to make an exception for the new commander-in-Chief and De Ruyter was allowed to live in Amsterdam. However, de Ruyter was assigned a ship from Rotterdam on 31 August: the Zeven Provinciën.

Suddenly confusion arose when the Hague changed its mind a few days later and Cornelis Tromp, not the best friend of De Ruyter, would get the seven provinces and the Hollandia would come under the command of De Ruyter. In the 17th century, the women of captains (as commanders of ships were then called) were in charge of logistics. Anna van Gelder started with the purchase of drinking and food, adapted to the crew and available space on the Hollandia.
Three days after the decision, on 7 September, the states-General changed course again.  Now the Ruyter may choose which ship he wanted. Then the indecision became the 
Admiralty of the Maze too much and they wanted the seven to go to de Ruyter, as was previously determined. Meanwhile, Anna van Gelder was unable to supply the ship with a lot of silence. De Ruyter himself knew nothing; He was at sea and when he heard he was allowed to choose he chose the Zeven Provinciën. But in The Hague one had really made a choice and on 11 September it was decided that the seven provinces would become the flagship of De Ruyter.

Two weeks had passed. That is little, but one was in haste. The fleet urgently needed new ships in the fight against the English.

In service, but not yet as a flagship
In the absence of LADM De Ruyter, VADM of Nes was temporarily commanded by the Admiral Ship. Van Nes went aboard on 25 September 1665 and set sail towards Texel. At least that was the intention, as Michiel de Ruyter waited. But to the frustration of everyone the wind was not good for two weeks. Only on 9 October van Nes was able to sail towards the Texel reason, even though de Ruyter with his fleet was at sea again. The seven provinces also joined the fleet a few days later, which now consisted of 91 naval vessels.

The Zeven Provinciën could immediately join for a first mission: a blockade of the Thames. By the way, without the Ruyter on board, because he would transport the fleet from Hollandia, where he had just switched.

De Ruyter for the first time on board
The sailing season ended in October 1665 with the trip to the Thames. In March 1666 It was time to go to the sea again. LADM De Ruyter travelled with his family from Amsterdam via Rotterdam to Hellevoetsluis, where his new flagship was waiting. On 28 March 1666 he went on board for the first time.
De Ruyter struck a not fully manned ship: only 183 of the 475 crew members were on board. The Navy did not have any fixed contracts at the time and always had to recruit staff. There was a need for money (there was no recruited in the Republic) and that was not enough. Only on 11 April De Ruyter with 312 crew members could choose the sea and enter Texel.

Weapon systems
The arms system of 17th century naval vessels consisted of guns. Embarked were further marines and/or soldiers with firearms and some among them was even sniper. That last category often had to disable opponent's task officers.
The Seven Provinces would be equipped with a total of 84 bronze guns:
8x 36-pounders on the lower deck with gunholes;
22X 24-pounders also on the lower deck provided with gunholes;
22x 18-pounders on the upper of the two decks;
26x 6-pounders on the ramp and on the bucket (on the open decks thus);
6x 4-pounders in the cabins.
However, when the ship arrived in Hellevoetsluis for the first time in 1664, it appeared that there were insufficient guns, money and bronze to arm the seven according to plan. The whole country was searched and 80 bronze guns were gathered from different caliber. We had to do it with that.

Picture  The Martial board on board the Seven provinces on 10 June 1666, for the four-day   battle. Willem van de Velde (I), 1666-1693.                                       

The Zeven Provinciën were frequently deployed during the second and third English war. Exercises were not common at that time. In 1665 The seven provinces took part in the blockade on the Thames. From 1666, the seven was the flagship and took part in the four-day sea Battle of 11 to 14 June. In the fight with the English the new ship became damaged. 4 and 5 August 1666 de Ruyter carried out the fleet from the Zeven Provinciën during the two-day naval battle, which was lost.

The year 1667 stood for the seven especially in the sign of the trip to Chatham. The English fleet is destroyed for an important part and the English flagship is looted. The role of the flagship was limited: De Ruyter was ill during the fight.
After the trip to Chatham, the Republic and England conclude peace. The seven was once again deployed five years later. In 1672, it took part in the Battle of Solebay and in 1673 it fought during three battles: the two battles at Villanueva and the Battle of the Sea.

The last major voyage of the Zeven Provinciën as a flagship of Michiel De Ruyter was in 1674 to the island of Martinique in the Caribbean Sea. The battle was lost and in 1675, De Ruyter left his flagship and stepped aboard the Concord.

In 1678, the Zeven Provinciën are under the command of Jan van Brakel. With Van Brakel, the ship will be involved in an expedition to Spain.
The Zeven Provinciën will be serving in 1692 during the Battle of La Hogue. During this battle it is badly damaged and must be repaired in Portsmouth. Evert de Lieffde is the last commander of the Zeven Provinciën. 
On 1 November 1692, the last travel location: from Hellevoetsluis to Rotterdam. In 1694, the seven provinces are sold to a shipyard and demolished.

After demolition
The ship was demolished, but not forgotten. Since the time of Michiel de Ruyter, the seven provinces have acquired an important place in the list of illustrious Dutch naval vessels. The Zeven Provinciën were not the first warship with that name, but for centuries the best known.

The Navy later also gave other naval vessels the name ' The Zeven Provinciën ', such as the
Cruiser (1953-1975) and the first Air defense and Commando frigate (2002-present).

De Ruyter's flagship is and is still frequently rebuilt on scale. In 1995, the keel was laid from the replica of the seven provinces at the Batavia shipyard in Lelystad. Beginning 2014, the construction of the ship was shut down.

In the film Michiel de Ruyter (2015), the seven provinces has an important role. Not before a Dutch navy ship had such a big share in a Dutch cinema film. The filmmakers, however, did not have a (replica of a) warship that dienstdeed in the fleet of the Republic in the 17th century.




Out of service


The Seven Provinces


1694 (demolished)






46.13 x 12.17 x ?



Max. displacement

1600 tons



Max. speed

5 to 10 knots








18 sails
More than 2000 m2



Weapon systems

80 bronze cannons