Water and books don’t usually mix: North Sea floods

The threat of rising sea levels is a major concern related to climate change, and has undoubtedly led to increased research interest in historical floods and storm tides. A new book that has just arrived in the library, De grote en vreeselike vloed: de Sint-Elisabethsvloed 1421-2021 (C217.c.8893), looks at the St. Elizabeth’s flood, one of several large flood disasters affecting the Netherlands, which took place 600 years ago on the night of November 18-19 1421. It resulted in the city of Dordrecht becoming an island and the disappearance of many villages. The book accompanies a current exhibition (and related symposium) at Dordrecht Museum, showing the painted panels of a late 15th century altarpiece that was commissioned by relatives of villagers who fled the floods. Other cultural depictions of the flood are considered as well as a look at what lessons can be learned from the impact of the flood. Continue reading