Michiel de Ruyter
It would be remiss to conclude this brief history without reference to Vlissingen’s most famous son, Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter.
He was born in 1607 and soon felt the sea quickening his blood. Apparently (as the story goes) he climbed the Saint Jacob’s Tower along the outside to test his courage. His first employment was as rope maker’s apprentice with the Vlissingen shipowner Cornelis Lampsins. De Ruyter later became captain on one of Lampsins’ ships and also served in this capacity as buccaneer.
He earned in this way a modest capital and wanted in 1652 to retire.
War at sea
However, in that same year the First English Sea War broke out and De Ruyter was approached by the Admiralties of Zeeland. Michiel left for Amsterdam in 1653 and rose to vice-admiral of Holland and Amsterdam. He won many sea battles and finally perished in the action against the French at Syracuse on 29 April 1676. He is buried in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.
Conspicuously present at the point of the esplanade, is a statue of Michiel de Ruyter dating from 1841. The cannons were placed on either side of the statue in 1905. They were recovered from the Straits of Messina and gifted by the Italian government.