Arumer Zwarte Hoop


The Arumer Zwarte Hoop (“the Black Gang from Arum”) was an army of peasant rebels in Friesland fighting the Dutch authorities from 1515 to 1523.

The leader was the farmer Pier Gerlofs Donia, whose farm had been burned down and whose kinfolk had been killed by a marauding Landsknecht regiment. Since the regiment had been employed by the Habsburg authorities to suppress the civil war of the Schieringers and Vetkopers, Donia put the blame on the authorities. After this he gathered angry peasants and some petty noblemen from Frisia and Gelderland and formed the Arumer Zwarte Hoop.

Under the leadership of Donia (nicknamed Greate Pier for his size), they employed guerilla tactics and achieved several victories such as the successful siege of two Hollandic castles and the city of Medemblik. The greatest success however came on sea, where Donia sank 28 Dutch ships, earning him the title “Cross of the Dutchmen”.

The rebels also received financial support from Charles of Egmond, who claimed the Duchy of Guelders in opposition to the Habsburgs. Charles also employed mercenaries under command of his military commander Maarten van Rossum in their support. However, when the tides turned against the rebels after 1520, Charles withdrew his support. When the Duke withdrew his support, the rebels lost their financial support and could no longer afford to pay their mercenary army. At about the same time the Arumer Zwarte Hoop also lost their leader. In 1519, Donia’s health deteriorated. He retired to his farm where he died in 1520. He is buried in Sneek in the 15th-century Groote Kerk (also called the Martinikerk).

Donia’s lieutenant Wijerd Jelckama took over the command of his armies, which then comprised over 4,000 soldiers. Jelckama also achieved some minor victories, but proved to be a less competent commander and slowly lost men. Jelckama and his soldiers endulged in acts of piracy and sacked many villages in the Frisian lands, losing trust and support of their own people. The fact that Jelckama was less charismatic also cost him: he forged less fruitful alliances and lost more than he made. After a series of defeats, he and the remainder of the Frisian army were captured in 1523. Jelckama and the remaining Frisian and Gelderian rebels were decapitated, putting the rebellion to an end.

 

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