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Plan des environs de la ville et des forts de Berg-Op-Zoom, avec les villages de Wouû et d'Halteren

This beautifully engraved map from 1748 offers a penetrating picture of the defence lines around Bergen op Zoom. Not only are the many defences around the city meticulously mapped, but also the landscape. Elevations such as dune areas are mostly drawn three-dimensionally ('in relief'), as are wooded areas and hedgerows. Using this map, one gets a very good impression of the condition of the landscape at the time and of the strategic positions of the various fortifications.

The map is in the French language, which was not unusual at the time. But it is also truly a French product, designed by an unknown French engineer and published in Paris by Bernard-Antoine Jaillot. The title cartouche at bottom right makes it clear that the map was produced in response to 'the attack of the king's army 16 September 1747'. This refers to the French siege from 12 July to 16 September 1747 during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). As the map nicely shows, those days included inundations along the line from Bergen op Zoom to Steenbergen.

French troops led by Count Von Löwenthal shelled Bergen op Zoom from 20 July and caused considerable devastation. Trenches were also constructed to the south-east, approaching the town further and further. Here, near the Coehoorn and Pucelle bastions, the French concentrated their attack. In mid-August 1747, they captured the lunettes Zeeland and Utrecht, which were located in front of both bastions. In early September, the French began attacking the bastions themselves and the intervening raveline Dedem. Breaks appeared in the defences and on 16 September the French managed to enter the city. That same day, the defenders of Bergen op Zoom surrendered.

With the Treaty of Aachen of 18 October 1748, however, Bergen op Zoom reverted to the Republic. The map was published just before that date, in August 1748. If the French had known that a month later their spoils of war would have to be surrendered again, this map would probably never have appeared!