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On November 18, 1421, Zuid-Holland’s sea defences gave way and the St Elizabeth Day flood formed what is now the Hollands Diep sea channel and the Biesbosch (Reed Forest). It was a disaster of major proportions, with seventy towns and villages destroyed and a death toll of around 100,000. The effect on the region’s economy was catastrophic, too, with the fracturing of links between Zuid-Holland and Flanders accelerating the shift in commercial power to the north. Those villages that did survive took generations to recover, subjected as they were to raids by the wretched refugees of the flood.

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