History of Hoorn
(by Daan Couwenbergh)
The Westfrisian Museum in Hoorn has worked on a special exhibition for 3.5 years. With the help of an Oculus Riftbril, people can take a stroll through a digital version of 17th century Hoorn. Hoorn is one of the oldest cities in Noord Holland and was an important administrative and economical centre of the region for a long time.
Evolution of Hoorn
How and where exactly Hoorn evolved, is not entirely clear. One legend tells the story that a son of the legendary Frisian king Radbout founded a city in the 8th century and named it after himself. The 17th century Hoorn – born history writer Velius wrote that Hoorn must have been founded around the year 1300, at the mouth of the river de Gouw. It would, however, be very possible that there had been earlier settlements that had been flooded by the historic Zuiderzee.
Expansion in the middle ages.
The location at the mouth of the Gouw made sure that the settlement was attractive for traders. Contact with other settlements in Westfriesland was made possible via the river, and contacts with far-away cities were established via the sea. From around and about the year 1300, traders from Hoorn were mentioned in various archives of cities on the East Sea and in Flanders. The settlement was doing well and in 1356 the town was rich enough to be able to buy itself city rights. The city joined Philip the Good later, which enabled the city to make use of the large trade network of the Burgundian Empire.
The Golden Age
Another political choice that had proven to be successful for the city, had been to join in with the rebellion against the Spaniards. After Den Briel had been conquered by the Beggars in 1572, Hoorn, along with the rest of the region, sided with William of Orange. In this battle the Hoorn ships successfully fought a Spanish fleet on the South Sea. The growth and prosperity that the Netherlands went through during and after the 80 years’ war, also had a major effect on Hoorn. Hoorn became the administrative and economical centre of the region north of the river IJ. The DEIC, the WIC, but also the Northern Company and the admiralty settled in the city. Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the famous skipper Bontekoe, and also the namers of Cape Horn have all set off from the harbour of Hoorn back in the day.
Hoorn could not compete with Amsterdam. More and more ships passed Hoorn by and slowly the city slid downhill. The foundation of the Batavian Republic after the French revolution ended all governing functions of the city of Hoorn. In the 19th century trade briefly bloomed once more, thanks to the grand scale agricultural production in the area around the city. Hoorn’s cheese market became the most important of the province. In the 20th century that market disappeared again, but Hoorn remained an important city for the region. Halfway through the century the city was given a new function as ‘overflow’ for Amsterdam, which was bursting out of its seams. The city now fulfils a regional function for education, healthcare and shops. The city is also successfully developing itself as a tourist attraction. In the Japanese Nagasaki Holland Village part of the city has been replicated.