TAMH: Trading Ports

Centuries - 16 | 19

Antwerp in the 16th century

(Antwerp/Antwerpen, Belgium)

It is believed that people have lived on the site of modern Antwerp from as early as the 2nd century. Two settlements grew up, one around the alluvial mound or 'annwerp' from which the city derives its name, and Caloes. By the early 14th century it was probably the most important trading centre in western Europe. Annexation by Flanders in 1356 was an economic setback but from 1400 onwards it experienced enormous growth of wealth and influence becoming, in one description 'a 16th century Manhattan'. Wars between the Protestant north and Catholic Spain resulted in a series of catastrophes, the Iconoclasm (1566), the Spanish Fury (1576) and the fall of the city in 1585. This last event caused 60% of the population to leave the city and although it flourished culturally during the next two hundred years with artists such as Rubens, Van Dyck and Verbruggen and scientists such as Mercator, the mapmaker, the closing of the River Scheldt made it an economic backwater until the nineteenth century.

Search for voyages to Antwerp in the 16th century.