Dutch term – Vroedvrouw

Newborn baby presented to the father

A vroedvrouw was a midwife. There were also vroedmeesters, doctors specialized in helping women deliver children. The midwife was responsible for more than just seeing the mother and the child safely through the birth. In the case of an unwed mother, she was also urged to press the mother into revealing the name of the father of her child. It … [Read more...]

Dutch term: Molenaar

Dutch etching of a miller

A molenaar was a miller. There were different types of mills. Besides the classic Dutch wind-powered mill, there were also horse-drawn mills and water mills. Mills could be used for different purposes, the most common being grind grain or to drain water from low-lying fields. People could not just build a mill, that right was reserved for the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Bode

Messenger

A bode was a messenger, which can sound like an errant boy but it was a far more important function than that. The best approximation is probably a bailiff, someone charged with delivering important documents and news and making sure that the other party receives it. They had a wide array of tasks, ranging from taking messages to organizing public … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Brouwer

Brewer, print by Jan and Casparus Luyken, 1694.

A brouwer is a brewer. Since most of the water was not safe to drink, most people drank beer. 'Small beer' only had a low alcohol percentage so it was safe to drink for children. In larger towns, brewers were organized in guilds. In smaller towns, they operated independently. In most places, brewers had to pay tax on the beer they produced. Some … [Read more...]

Dutch term: knecht

print showing a carpenter at work

A knecht is a term used to describe the occupation of somebody who works for somebody else. The term does not have an exact English equivalent, but terms like servant, hand, apprentice or assistant come close. Often, the type of knecht is specified, for example timmermansknecht (carpenter's hand), bakkersknecht (baker's hand) … [Read more...]