First ST. Elizabeth Flood (1404 - 1421 - 1424)
Several devastating floods took place around Saint Elizabeth’s name day:
- the first St. Elizabeth flood of 1404
- the second St. Elizabeth flood of 1421
- the third St. Elizabeth flood of 1424
During the first St. Elizabeth flood on or around November 19, 1404, Flanders and Zeeland in particular flooded. Almost 3,000 hectares of land was lost in West Flanders and Zeelandic Flanders. The second St. Elizabeth flood, probably caused by a very heavy north-westerly storm followed by a high storm surge, is best known in the Netherlands. The water in the rivers was very high due to frequent rainfall. There was no spring tide. The dyke breaches and subsequent flooding caused extensive damage in Zeeland and Holland. The story that the Biesbosch was created in one night by this storm surge is incorrect. Although the dikes in the area broke during this flood, it took decades before the entire area was under water and the Biesbosch, with its creeks and reeds, formed.
The third St. Elizabeth flood took place from 18 to 19 November 1424 and mainly affected the southwest of the Netherlands. All the restoration work started after the flood in 1421 was largely destroyed. After the second St. Elizabeth flood, the Groote or Hollandsche Waard was finally completely embanked again, and this was immediately wiped out again as a result of the third St. Elizabeth flood.
The legend of Beatrix’s rescue
Many paintings of the St. Elizabeth flood show a cradle containing a baby and a kitten. The story goes that people in Dordrecht saw a cradle floating with a baby near the Vuilpoort, near the Grote Kerk. The crib threatened to overturn in the strong wind and high waves, but was kept in balance by a cat balancing on the edge of the crib. Some people got into the water and pulled the cradle aside, the cat jumped ashore and ran away. The baby wore a red coral necklace with a gold marker attached to it, and carried a cross with her parents’ coat of arms. However, the girl’s parents have never been traced. Legend has it that she was given the name Beatrix, which means ‘happy’. The city of Dordrecht offered her a good upbringing and training and Beatrix would later marry the wealthy merchant Jacob Roerom.