Online Encyclopedia

PIETER PIETERZOON [commonly abbreviat...

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 438 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
PIETER PIETERZOON [commonly abbreviated to PIET] HEYN (1578-1629), Dutch admiral, was born at Delfshaven in 1578, the son of Pieter Hein, who was engaged in the herring fishery. The son went early to sea. In his youth he was taken prisoner by the Spaniards, and was forced to row in the galleys during four years. Having recovered his freedom by an ex-change of prisoners, he worked for several years as a merchant skipper with success. The then dangerous state of the seas at all times, and the continuous war with Spain, gave him ample opportunity to gain a reputation as a resolute fighting man. Wills which he made before 1623 show that he had been able to acquire considerable property. When the Dutch West India Company was formed he was Director on the Rotterdam Board, and in 1624 he served as second in command of the fleet which took San Salvador in Bahia de Todos os Santos in Brazil. Till 1628 he continued to serve the Company, both on the coast of Brazil, and in the West Indies. In the month of September of that year he made himself famous, gained immense advantage for the Company, and inflicted ruinous loss on the Spaniards, by the capture of the fleet which was bringing the bullion from the American mines home to Spain. The Spanish ships were outnumbered chiefly because the convoy had become scattered by bad management and bad seamanship. The more valuable part of it, consisting of the four galleons, and eleven trading ships in which the king's share of the treasure was being carried, became separated from the rest, and on being chased by the superior force of Heyn endeavoured to take refuge at Matanzas in the island of Cuba, hoping to be able to land the bullion in the bush before the Dutchman could come up with them. But Juan de Benavides, the Spanish commander, failed to act with decision, was overtaken, and his ships captured in the harbour before the silver could be discharged. The total loss was estimated by the Spaniards at four millions of ducats. Piet Heyn ndw returned home, and bought himself a house at Delft with the intention of retiring from the sea. In the following year, however, he was chosen at a crisis to take command of the naval force of the Republic, with the rank of Lieutenant-Admiral of Holland, in order to clear the North Sea and Channel of the Dunkirkers, who acted for the king of Spain in his possessions in the Nether-lands. In June of 1629 he brought the Dunkirkers to action, and they were severely beaten, but Piet Heyn did not live to enjoy his victory. He was struck early in the battle by a. cannon shot on the shoulder and fell dead on the spot. His memory has been preserved by his capture of the Treasure justified; Aerius redivivus, or History of the Presbyterians; and Help to English History, an edition of which, with additions by P. Wright, was published in 1773. In 1636 he wrote a History of the Sabbath, by order of Charles I. to answer the Puritans; and in consequence of a journey through France in 1625 he wrote A Survey of France, a work, frequently reprinted, which was termed by Southey " one of the liveliest books of travel in its lighter parts, and one of the wisest and most replete with information that was ever written by a young man." Some verses of merit also came from his active pen, and his poetical memorial of William of Waynflete was published by the Caxton Society in 1851. Heylyn was a diligent writer and investigator, a good ecclesiastical lawyer, and had always learning at his command. His principles, to which he was honestly attached, were defended with ability; but his efforts to uphold the church passed unrecognized at the Restoration, probably owing to his physical infirmities. His sight had been very bad for several years; yet he rejoiced that his " bad old eyes " had seen the king's return, and upon this event he preached before a large audience in Westminster Abbey on the 29th of May 1661. He died on the 8th of May 1662 and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where he had been sub-dean for some years. Galleons, which had never been taken so far, but he is also the traditional representative of the Dutch "sea dogs " of the 17th century. See de jonge, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewezen; I. Duro, Armada espanola, iv.; der Aa, Biograph. Woordenboek der Nederlanden. (D. H.)
End of Article: PIETER PIETERZOON [commonly abbreviated to PIET] HEYN (1578-1629)
HEYLYN (or HEYLIN), PETER (1600-1662)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.