Original paper

Flooding events as man-made disasters Special flooding events in coastal Flanders and the inlets of the SW Netherlands, 1400–1600

de Kraker, Adriaan M.J.


Flooding is generally considered to be a natural hazard caused by peak water discharge in river areas and storm surges in coastal regions such as Lower Saxony and the Low Countries or the combination of both which occur in lower river catchments. Usually within days high waters drop, then damage can be assessed and repairs undertaken. Was this concept a valid concept for coastal Flanders and Zealand during medieval and early modern times? Two cases of anthropogenic flood events at different points in time are discussed. The first case looks into the late 15 th century strategic inundations during the Flemish civil war demonstrating that flooded areas could be recovered, while a second case looking into the large scale flood events that occurred during the Eighty Years' War demonstrates that about 70% of the late medieval landscape vanished. Compared with flood events mostly caused by natural extremes, strategic flood events before 1600 flooding vast areas were badly thought through and were therefore more devastating. Strategic flood events prior to 1600 have proved to be a test case of how in later centuries more strategic flooding had to be undertaken much more efficiently whilst simultaneously being less devastating.


resilienceflandersnetherlandsuse of waterwarfarestrategic floodingstorm surge