Tag Archives: Eighty year’s war

Fort Liefkenshoek

Fort Liefkenshoek
Fort Liefkenshoek

Description – The fort of Liefkenshoek (1579) was erected by the city of Antwerp to defend the Scheldt river access during the Dutch-Spanish war. It was captured by Spanish forces during the beginning of the siege of Antwerp in 1584. Later Dutch forces to the north were able to close the river for both commercial trade and military vessels. Subsequent Spanish (1584-1786) and Austrian rule (1786-1794) aimed to open the river once again but to no avail. During French reign the fort was refitted since Antwerp became the new maritime arsenal (arsenal maritime) in order to allow an invasion of England. The Scheldt river was opened because the revolutionary and later imperial armies controlled The Netherlands as well. The Belgian uprising of 1830 against Dutch rule did not lead to a capture of the fort. Together with the Antwerp citadel, Fortress Lillo and Fort Vlaams Hoofd it remained under Dutch control effectively closing the river once again. In 1839 the treaty of separation handed over Lillo and Liefkenshoek to Belgian rule but The Netherlands retained control over the river Scheldt to this present day. The fort lost its military role at the end of the 19th century; it continued to serve as a hospital (1849-1952). Its name was most likely derived from a now gone small stream or river near the fort.

Construction & Armament – This fort most likely started off as a redoubt constructed in 1577; its counterpart Lillo is located on the right bank of the river Scheldt. Built on a strategic location it was able to secure the river access and possibly served as a landing station for troops garrisoned at nearby defensive works. It features a four-pointed star shape with bastions. Its transition to a fort was carried out between 1577 and 1583. Two ravelins were constructed, one located facing north and an other one facing a southern direction. Since the area around the fort could be inundated it was difficult to capture. One gate allowed access to the fort: it is located facing the river. A powder magazine was placed in the southwestern bastion of the fort in 1808 together with barracks. Later a second larger magazine was erected in 1810. French engineers also built a “cat” (French: cavalier) on the central square of the fort (terreplein) in 1811. Although the fort had a permanent garrison and some civilians living within its walls its predominant military character allow it to be classified as a fort rather than a fortress.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The fort of Liefkenshoek lost its military role in 1894. It did not see action during the siege of Antwerp thereafter. German forces occupied the site from 1914 onwards and added several small bunkers (pillboxes). The Belgian army installed two guns on the northeast bastion of the fort during the interbellum. The gate of the fort was rebuilt in 1844 but severely damaged by a German flying bomb impact during the last phases of the Second World War. In 1954 a part of the rampart of the fort was dumped in the moat in order to allow expansion within. In 1980 the municipality of Beveren became owner of the fort and restoration started thereafter. More in-depth information about the military and political significance of this fort and the river Scheldt can be found in specialized literature (in Dutch). The fort can be visited and is in good condition: it became a heritage site in 1985. A tourist information office is present on site; a permanent exposition highlights the history of the fort.

Sources – Own elaboration; Cools, H & Van Meirvenne, R; Van Hooydonk, E.;

Redoubt Saint Francis

Description – The redoubt of Saint Francis (Sint Fransiscus) was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was named for the saint or patron. This redoubt fort was constructed in 1584 by the Spanish forces who laid siege to Antwerp.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built using timber and earth works. It was built on a location where the dyke of the Borgerweert polder was broken; this offered a strategic location during the siege.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – It is not known if remains of this redoubt still exist. A part of the industries of the port of Antwerp are located here. Today the protected nature and environment site of Blokkersdijk takes up most of the nearby terrain.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Fort Burcht (II)

Description – The fort of Burcht (II) was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was named for the village of Burcht. This particular fort was constructed in 1584 by Spanish forces increasing the pressure on Antwerp during the siege. Forces of the city of Antwerp (Dutch Republic) constructed the redoubt of Melkhuis close to the fort one year earlier.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built using timber and earth works. It had a rectangular shape and featured bastions.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – It is not known if any remains of the fort still exist.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Redoubt Toulouse

Description – The redoubt of Toulouse was constructed by forces of the city of Antwerp together with Fort Vlaams Hoofd (II). It was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt.  Built in 1583 it guarded the northwestern access to Antwerp. Its location is not known. To the west the redoubt of Loop (Loopschans) was constructed.

Construction & Armament – The redoubt was built using timber and earth works.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – It is not know if any traces of this redoubt still exist.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Redoubt Melkhuis

Description – The redoubt of Melkhuis was constructed by forces of the city of Antwerp together with Fort Vlaams Hoofd (II). It was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt.  Built in 1583 it guarded the southeastern access to Antwerp. Its location is not known but it seems that Fort Burcht (I) was a likely site. Later the Fort of Burcht (II) was built by Spanish forces to counter the redoubt in 1584.

Construction & Armament – The redoubt was built using timber and earth works.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – It is not know if any traces of this redoubt still exist.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.

Fort Burcht (I)

Description – The fort of Burcht (I) was located on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It was named for the village of Burcht. This particular fort was constructed in 1576 by the Dutch Republic. Fort Vlaams Hoofd (I) was located northeast of this fort.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built using timber and earth works. It closely resembled a triangular schape.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The Fort Burcht was dismantled in 1577.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Van Meirvenne, R.