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Saeftinghe was a city in eastern Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, Belgium, near Nieuw-Namen that existed until 1584. It is a swamp known as the Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe (Drowned Land of Saeftinghe) which is an official nature reserve area. The land is a crosspoint where the river Scheldt meets the salty waters of the North Sea in the estuary known as the Western Scheldt. It is a treacherous place where the tides easily consume large stretches of land in a matter of seconds and must not be explored without an experienced guide.
2 The legend
3 See also
4 External links
Saeftinghe was drained in the 13th century under the management of the abbey of Ter Doest. Willem van Saeftinghe was one of the best known occupants of the abbey and gave his name to the stretch of land claimed from the sea. Up to 1570, the land was very fertile polder. Agriculture, peat burning and trade turned Saeftinghe into one of the most prosperous places in the region. There were three additional settlements nearby: Namen, Sint-Laureins, and Casuwele.
Most of the land around the city was lost in the All Saint's flood of 1570 (the Allerheiligenvloed). Four years later the drowned land reached into what is now Belgium. Only Saeftinghe and some surrounding land managed to remain dry.
In 1584, during the Eighty Years' War, Dutch soldiers saw themselves forced to destroy the last intact dike and Saeftinghe sunk into the waters of the Scheldt. Attempts to reclaim the area were made throughout history; the most serious project taking place in 1907, but even then only the Hertogin Hedwige-polder was conquered from the sea.
Saeftinghe itself has never been retrieved.
Main article: Saeftinghe legend
A legend of Saeftinghe attributes the All Saint's flood to capturing a mermaid and not setting her free. This caused the region to be cursed by the merman, and led to the flood that destroyed the towns of Sint-Laureins, Namen and Casuwele, killing all inhabitants. The legend holds that a tower bell calls for help from the sunken city.
The Saeftinghe Legend is an Old Dutch folk tale that explains the sunken city of Saeftinghe in eastern Zeeuws-Vlaanderen near Nieuw-Namen, The Netherlands, that existed until it was entirely flooded by sea waters in 1584. The legends says the city grew to be the most prosperous city on the fertile lands of the Scheldts but the inhabitants grew vain and proud. The farmers dressed in silk, their horses wearing silver and even the thresholds of homes were made from gold. The wealth attracted poor immigrants but the people of Saeftinghe showed no mercy and chased the migrants away with sticks and dogs. Greed corrupted the hearts of men and turned them blind for imminent threats.
On a foggy day, a fisherman caught a mermaid on the waters of the Western Scheldt. From the nets, the mermaid warned him Saeftinghe needed to change its ways or suffer the inevitable dire consequences. When the mermaid's husband surfaced and asked for his wife to be set free, the fisherman refused and yelled at him. The merman cursed the fisherman and his city, screaming "The lands of Saeftinghe will fall, only its towers will continue to stand tall!" and other fish swimming in it. The sea was nearing, the water turning salt. With the All Saints' flood (1570), a huge tidal wave washed over the lands
The people of Saeftinghe, occupied with greed, forgot to take care of their dikes. One day, when a maid went to get water from a well, she noticed cod of Saeftinghe, destroying the towns of Sint-Laureins, Namen and Casuwele, killing all inhabitants.
Saeftinghe withered and soon only its towers testified of its prosperous past until the city finally sank into the muddy swamps.
On foggy days, the tower bells call for help from what was once a wealthy place but is now a doomed world covered in mud, captured by the sea.
no no, this is totally different, in this case it was caused by mermen, in the russian case it was God hiding a city from Huns by sinking it into a small lake...
as I said in the other thread the sunken city or castle motif is a common one in northern and eastern European folklore... although this case is different, I believe, because there actually is a sunken city there, and the folktale in this case originated to explain why the city sank. Why they would come up with mermen instead of the truth (that soldiers destroyed the dike and flooded the city during the Eighty Year's War) is another question, but I am willing to bet that the folktale originated quite a while after the actual event among people that didn't remember or never knew the truth of the matter.
Edited by Conrad Clough, 15 April 2012 - 06:18 AM.