Migration to Zeeland

From Flanders. Operating on the assumption of a Flemish origin, why did Maljaert appear in Zeeland records in the late 16th or early 17th century? My aunt used to say that her father claimed¬† “the Bustraans were chased out of France with the Huguenots” (the French border being a rather elastic concept at that time).

Understand that the French Wars of Religion were raging at that time. In 1535, an edict was published which ordered the extermination of the Protestant heretics. According to Dutch historians Blom and Lamberts, “On 10 August 1566, a fervent Calvinist sermon in the village of Steenvoorde, then a rural textile center in western Flanders, prompted the congregaton to violently purge the local monastic church of all ‘papist idolatry.’ This purely religious act soon became the symbol of defiance to Spanish rule, as crowds in many locales turned to smashing statues and stained-glass windows as an expression of their deep-seated discontent. Within a week, ‘idols’ were wrecked throughout western Flanders, including the cities of Belle, Poperinge, Menen, Ypres, and Dixmude. By 20 August, the ‘protestant fury’ had reached Antwerp…” The event that started in Steenvoorde was the Iconoclasm or Beeldenstorm (“statue storming”).

Flanders Map

The 80-year war between the Netherlands and Catholic Spain resulted in the conquest of Flanders by the Spanish king. Because of the Spanish occupation, this Protestant area become Roman Catholic. Protestants there were forced to either convert to Catholicism or to emigrate. Many Protestants (Huguenots) emigrated to the Dutch side of the frontline between Dutch and Spanish troops. Zeeland is just north of Flanders. Is this the story of how Maljaert Bustraan arrived in Wemeldinge, Zeeland?

For further corroboration, the Francke family website starts their family tree in about 1600 with Pieter Francke of the nearby provincial capital of Middelburg, Zeeland, whose wife was Maeijken Butserain. It is noted that “where Pieter Francke came from, is unknown, probably from Belgium.”