Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thursday Novel Excerpt: Drowning in Full Armor 1

Ten years after Augustine Shelburne was born in Jamestown, Maarten Peterse Schenck von Nydeck boarded the ship de Valckener with his family for Nieuw Amsterdam. The year was 1650.

The family of Schenck was a military family. Martin's father and uncle had fought fiercely in the Dutch War of Independence from Spain, which lasted eighty years (1568-1648). However, his uncle--after whom he was named--had not always fought for the same side. And his uncle had not fared well in the Dutch courts. Why live in the Netherlands out of favor when you can carve out your own destiny in America?

The tale of his uncle Maartin was infamous. Born in Goch, he had first fought for William of Orange in the Dutch revolution as the head of twenty-two men. He successfully defended the castle of his ancestors, Bleijenbeek Castle, against attack from a province loyal to Spain. But then when Dutch courts had him forcibly removed and gave the castle to his cousin, he fought for the other side for a time. Whichever provinces he fought for generally won.

But it was his death that was most infamous. Fighting now on the side of Dutch independence again, he tried to sneak into the city of Nijmegen to take it by surprise with 20 barges of men. But because the river was flooded, they overshot their mark and entered into the windows of a house where a wedding was taking place.

The alarm was sounded. His men were pushed back. And Maartin himself ended up in the river in a full suit of armor. He inevitably drowned. And once the townspeople dredged him up, they took off his head--still with a scowl on his face--and stuck it on a pike. Then they drew and quartered his dead body, placing various body parts in public for all to see.

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