Geography of a battlefield – “Modern day Gelderse Vallei”

In my research on the Battle of Scherpenzeel and the Stichtse oorlog from 1481, I have recently digged into the topic of geography. If you want to wargame this war, you need terrain, and it would be nice to know how it would have looked. Because this already quite long ago more than 500 years, it is quite complex and difficult to determine. Therefore some basic research is needed, and probably some estimated guesses.

I have not written before on the battle of Scherpenzeel, but I hope this post (and the following with similar topic) will give a good bit of background information, to place the different events and actions on the map. My primary research will focus on the Battle of Scherpenzeel. Later on I will also dig into other area’s, but that will require new research.

Gelderse Vallei

Scherpenzeel is one of the villages in the Gelderse Vallei. Translated the valley of Gelre. Gelre the is the province or region. To start off, the modern day map of Scherpenzeel and surroundings. Also showing some other important places from this battle.

Modern day map of the Gelderse Vallei and surroundings. In the Southern part is the Rhine visible, with on the left Wijk bij Duurstede. The Red line is the current day province border between Gelderland and Utrecht. The position of Scherpenzeel is quite easy to spot, as it surrounded on three sides by the Utrecht province.

When looking to this map, and thinking of the Battle of Scherpenzeel, there are a couple of places which will become important for this battle

  • Wijk bij Duurstede, the place were the Burgundian troops departed
  • Area between Bunschoten and Hoevelaken, the place where they started raiding.
  • Amersfoort, the origin of the Amersfoort Army
  • Scherpenzeel, the place which did give the name to the battle.

Don’t forget that the Army did march between those points, so the routes become important to.

The next map will show why this area is called the Gelderse Vallei. This is the modern day height map of the area. In green the heigh, the darker the color the higher the area is. The red line is still showing the province border, and Scherpenzeel is laying in the middle. To the left you see the dark area which is called the Utrechtse Heuvelrug (Utrecht Hill ridge) On the right side the large higher plains are the Veluwe area.

In the northern end of the map you can see two different colors. The reddish color, which is Flecoland. This is reclaimed land, and is below sea level. This did not exist before the 1950’s. The pink areas are polders, next to the river Eem. These areas where the place which were raided before the battle of Scherpenzeel. Part of the research will be, when these polders were actually dried up, and what the impact was on the landscape.

In the next post on geography I hope to focus more on the history of the Dutch landscape in general, and the influence of humans on this. After that I will focus on what the landscape of the Gelderse Vallei consisted off. Laying the bases to make an estimated guess on the map of those days.

Sources:

Data used is been made available by PDOK, an open dataset of the Dutch goverment. (https://www.pdok.nl/) The map has been created with QGIs. (https://qgis.org/en/site/)

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