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Adriaen van der Donck is a leader of New Netherlands in Civilization IV: Colonization.


Lived: c. 1618 - 1655

Adriaen van der Donck was a lawyer and bureaucrat, who became one of New Netherland's most ardent proponents of a participatory government.

Trained as a lawyer in Holland, van der Donck made the journey to the New World in 1641. There van der Donck found employment in the service of a wealthy landowner, serving as sheriff, counsel and tax collector. His duties held little interest for the young lawyer, however, and van der Donck spent much of his time visiting the local natives, learning the lay of the land and taking in-depth notes about local flora and fauna. This extracurricular activity would prove to be extremely beneficial: when Indian raids threatened the estate of van der Donck's master, van der Donck helped negotiate a treaty between his employer and his native acquaintances.

Upon the death of his employer, van der Donck took up residence for a time in the city of New Amsterdam, finding employment as attorney to the various powers of the colony. He soon began to involve himself in the pursuit of self government for the colony, growing to become one of the colony's most respected citizens. The money he earned performing various legal duties allowed him to buy an enormous estate up the Hudson River. So vast was his estate that he acquired the nickname of "Jongheer" or "Young Gentleman." This name stuck, and the land on which van der Donck's estate was built eventually became Yonkers, New York.

It was about this time that an autocratic new governor named Peter Stuyvesant was selected to lead New Amsterdam. Van der Donck, along with several other members of the colony, disgusted by Stuyvesant's iron-fisted methods, demanded that the Dutch citizenry be given a measure of input into the decision-making of the colony. The result was the Board of Nine, a group of nine of the most prominent members of the community who were to advise the governor. In 1649, van der Donck was selected for membership on the board, but soon came into conflict with Stuyvesant and his less than enlightened method of rule. After continually butting heads, Stuyvesant had van der Donck arrested and removed from the Board of Nine.

After the remaining members of the Board of Nine negotiated his release, van der Donck set sail for the colonial headquarters across the sea in the Netherlands. There he convinced the colonial leadership that Stuyvesant was a menace and secured the promise that they would create a participatory government in New Amsterdam.

Unfortunately, events intervened and the new policies were never enacted. War with England forced the colonial leaders to restore Stuyvesant, a trained soldier, to power, and do away with their promised changes to the colonial government. With victory snatched from his grasp, van der Donck prepared to return home to his New World estate, but found that he was not allowed to leave Europe. There was fear that his presence could loosen the resolve of the Dutch citizenry in their battle against the English. (Ironically, Stuyvesant had already managed to destroy their resolve all by himself. So alienated had the people become from their iron-fisted governor that the colony fell into English hands without a shot being fired.) Van der Donck languished for months before being allowed to return to the land that had become his home.

While waiting to return to the New World, van der Donck put to paper his many observations and discoveries about the New World and the natives. This work - "Descriptions of New Netherland" - was an instant hit in the Netherlands and became the first ethnographic study of the natives of the New World.

When he was finally allowed to return to his estate, van der Donck was not long able to enjoy it. Growing tension with the local Indian tribes led to a series of brutal raids that became known as the Peach Tree Wars. While it is unknown exactly when and where, it is generally believed that van der Donck's life was claimed in these raids.

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