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Disaster Year: Delft sent troops to help defend against the invading French army
April 9, 1672
redeloos, radeloos, reddeloos
The year 1672 is often referred to as the Disaster Year in Dutch history, the Rampjaar. Shedding Spain, dominating the seas, enjoying unprecedented prosperity, the Dutch were targets. In 1672, the neighboring countries, France, England, and several German states, declared war, invaded, and quickly defeated the Republic's army. The painting below shows French King Louis XIV deep in the Republic, crossing the Rhine, which the French considered their "natural" border.
In early April, Delft sent 300 troops to join the more than 5000 others contributed by the cities of Holland to defend against the invading French army, which had already crossed the Rhine.
In the Republic, the conservatives took political power and ultimately prevailed against their mighty neighbors. However, the miracle economy turned sour and never recovered. The Dutch were, as they say themselves, irrational (redeloos), their government was desperate (radeloos) and the country itself beyond rescue (reddeloos).
Leeuwenhoek's life changed as radically after the Rampjaar. The clever shopkeeper from Delft, using only the materials at hand, emerged as a world-class scientist.
Louis XIV crossing the Rhine
The French had long considered the Rhine, deep in the Republic, as their "natural" border, just as the Romans had considered it the northern frontier of their empire. This painting of the French king actually crossing the Rhine, as he did after cleverly outflanking the Dutch and invading, was especially powerful to the Dutch as an image that summed up the disaster of the Rampjaar.