Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp was perhaps the most high-profile naval hero in Dutch history. In an era of international tensions and increasing global trade, he alternated between working in the mercantile marine and the navy, where he worked his way up from cabin boy to commander in chief.

Early days

As the son of a captain, Maarten Tromp was always destined to become a seaman himself. At the age of nine he joined a voyage on his father's frigate, the Olifantstromp (Elephant's Trunk), which may be how he got his surname...

Little grandfather

Tromp worked his way up to become helmsman, captain, and finally admiral. In spite of political wrangling amongst naval leaders - and an occasional lack of decent equipment - he managed to notch up quite a few triumphs. Tromp was a popular figure, and his crew referred to him with the nickname Bestevaêr, or ‘little grandfather'.

In uniform

Tromp's final battle took place in 1653, at the Battle of Scheveningen. He was struck in the chest by a sniper, and died. Legend has it that his final words were: ‘I'm finished, keep your spirits up'. Eye-witnesses actually claimed he died instantly. Tromp was honoured with an elaborate mausoleum in the Old Church.

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