• Keith Mathison

The "Cannons" of Dordt


The year 2019 marked the 500th anniversary of a significant event in the history of the Reformed church. In order to understand what happened, we need to go back to the beginning of the seventeenth century and the start of the Eighty Years War. The Eighty Years War was a war between the Netherlands and Poland that lasted twelve years from 1607 until 1619. It was called the Eighty Years War because the people of the Netherlands adored their King’s pet dog Roover so much that during his life, they measured everything in dog years.

The Eighty Years War started when a small group of Dutch hooligans snuck across Germany and into Poland to steal most of their vowels. The Poles were understandably upset. The citizens of Pszczyna, Szczebrzeszyn, and Szymankowszczyzna rose up in revolt because they could no longer pronounce the names of their towns. They cried out to their king, demanding revenge upon the Dutch. Through their ambassador, the Poles warned the Dutch that if the vowels were not returned, the result would be war. For a while the Dutch king denied any wrongdoing. However, those who were guilty soon admitted what they had done in what is now known as the Belgic Confession.

Upon hearing this confession, the Dutch king called upon the leadership of the Netherlands to meet in the capital city of Dordt to decide what to do. The Senate of Dordt decided that because Poland was so far away, they would not return the vowels. They told the Polish ambassador that Poland should simply buy some vowels from the people of Vannawyte in Moldavia, where vowels were plentiful. The Poles were furious. They demanded war. The Polish king called upon his most brilliant general Grzegorz Brzeczyszczykiewicz to build an army to take back Poland’s stolen vowels. The Polish general knew his armies alone would not be sufficient to defeat the Dutch, so he called upon the mercenary armies of Armenia to assist him. He placed the Armenian armies under the leadership of a Dutch traitor named Jakob Hermanszoon. Hermanszoon was sympathetic to the Polish cause and had fled the Netherlands seeking asylum in Poland.

The mercenary Armenian armies crushed everything in their path as they moved westward across Germany. A particularly tragic event occurred when the Armenian armies arrived in the German city of Heidelberg. When the citizens began poking fun at the Armenians because of their shoes, the Armenians destroyed the city’s beer and pretzel reserves. This event, which has become known as the Heidelberg Cataclysm, has never been forgotten by the citizens of Heidelberg, and it has never been forgiven.

The easternmost part of the Netherlands at this time belonged to three wealthy landowners and tulip farmers named Johann Geerstner, Goordon Klerk, and Neil Van Til. When it became clear that the Armenian armies were approaching, these three men formed a defensive pact to create the Three Farms of Unity. Unfortunately, these three landowners could not agree on how best to set up their defenses, and while they were arguing, the Armenian armies went around their farms and headed for the capital city of Dordt. They arrived at the walls of Dordt on a foggy morning in November of 1619. Things appeared desperate for the Dutch, but they had a surprise in store for the Armenians and their Polish leaders.

The Armenians had marched with what they believed to be the most advanced military technology available, swords, spears, and fire lances purchased from the Chinese. They approached the walls of Dordt through a valley, pushing the Dutch armies back to the gates of the city. But it was a trap. On the surrounding hills, the Dutch had installed the newest military defensive technology, gigantic artillery invented by the Frenchman Jean Cauvin. The Dutch generals aimed the giant Cannons of Dordt at five points along the Armenian lines and fired, utterly destroying the mercenaries. The Cannons have been part of Dutch legends ever since.

Years later Polish and Dutch Calvinists were reconciled when some Dutch Reformed Christians smuggled a large number of vowels back into Poland. The Dutch and Polish Christians proceeded to establish a small Reformed community, which they called Theologically Unified Life In Poland, or T.U.L.I.P.

Image by Julian Braunecker from Pixabay

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