Broadsheet: “The Great and Terrible Flood,” January 1651

Unknown Artist | from Multimedia Library Collection:
Art & Graphics

Broadsheet from woodcut: “The Great and Terrible Flood,” January 1651. (Unknown artist. All rights reserved. Courtesy of the Bavarian State Library.)

This broadsheet provides a graphic representation of the devastation caused by a massive flood along the rivers Danube, Neckar, Main, and Rhein in January 1651. Less than two years after the end of the Thirty Years’ War, victims of the flood drowned or, having climbed trees and onto rooftops, starved or froze to death. The woodcut shows how houses, churches, and entire crop fields were destroyed as water enveloped the landscape. It is accompanied by a poem that describes how “violent waters” destroyed a bridge in the Westphalian city of Mörß (now Moers) and broke through “one hundred places” along a dyke in Arnheim (now the city of Arnhem in the Netherlands). There is also mention of flooding along the Danube in Nuremberg and the Neckar River in Hendelberg (now Heidelberg). Given the horror surrounding the event, the author calls upon his readers to “fall to their knees” and repent. Call number: Einbl. II,22