Thursday, August 08, 2013
Dutch Fungus Gun
friendly to tourists, speak passable to good English, and have a sensible attitude toward matters such as gay marriage and soft drugs. Amsterdam, or the parts of it I visited, was a jewel: clean and charming, with beautiful houses and churches, ample flowers and public parks, and so many canals (a relic of 17th century town planning) that it is easier to move around the city by boat than by car. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. allegedly said that Paris was the city where good Americans went when they died, but I am persuaded that, in the 21st century at least, Amsterdam has taken Paris's place in that sentiment.
David Silverman, the Netherlands were the center of the European arms export industry in the 17th century, and Dutch wheellocks and flintlocks were in demand throughout the Atlantic world. The guns displayed in the Rijksmuseum were thus a sample of the sort of wares that enriched the Dutch merchant class, and they in turn financed the paintings and objets d'art that beautified the Netherlands' "Golden Age."
(The photos above, taken by the author, show a) the placard for the aforementioned tinderlock gun, b) a sample wheellock musket, and c) a very heavy musket, approximately 1.5 meters in length, that the Dutch probably used to shoot through schools.***)
* This is actually the English spelling of a Dutch word; the Dutch largely invented the landscape painting and were the first to create a market for them.
** Matchlocks used a smoldering length of cord, or "match," to light their powder charges. One can see an example of one in the 1991 film Black Robe.
*** H/t Johnny Dangerously.