A sugar beet is a plant whose root contains a high concentration of sucrose and, grown commercially for sugar production. In plant breeding it is known as the Altissima cultivar group of the common beet. Together with other beet cultivars, such as beetroot and chard, it belongs to the subspecies Beta vulgaris subsp. Vulgaris, its closest wild relative is the sea beet. In 2013, France, the United States and Turkey were the world's five largest sugar beet producers. In 2010–2011, North America and Europe did not produce enough sugar from sugar beets to meet overall demand for sugar and were all net importers of sugar; the US harvested 1,004,600 acres of sugar beets in 2008. In 2009, sugar beets accounted for 20% of the world's sugar production; the sugar beet has a conical, fleshy root with a flat crown. The plant consists of a rosette of leaves. Sugar is formed by photosynthesis in the leaves and is stored in the root; the root of the beet contains 75% water, about 20% sugar, 5% pulp. The exact sugar content can vary between 12% and 21% sugar, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions.
Sugar is the primary value of sugar beet as a cash crop. The pulp, insoluble in water and composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin, is used in animal feed; the byproducts of the sugar beet crop, such as pulp and molasses, add another 10% to the value of the harvest. Sugar beets grow in the temperate zone, in contrast to sugarcane, which grows in the tropical and subtropical zones; the average weight of sugar beet ranges between 1 kg. Sugar beet foliage grows to a height of about 35 cm; the leaves are numerous and broad and grow in a tuft from the crown of the beet, level with or just above the ground surface. Modern sugar beets date back to mid-18th century Silesia where the king of Prussia subsidised experiments aimed at processes for sugar extraction. In 1747, Andreas Marggraf isolated sugar from beetroots and found them at concentrations of 1.3–1.6%. He demonstrated that sugar could be extracted from beets, identical with sugar produced from sugarcane, his student, Franz Karl Achard, evaluated 23 varieties of mangelwurzel for sugar content and selected a local strain from Halberstadt in modern-day Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.
Moritz Baron von Koppy and his son further selected from this strain for conical tubers. The selection was named weiße schlesische Zuckerrübe, meaning white Silesian sugar beet, boasted about a 6% sugar content; this selection is the progenitor of all modern sugar beets. A royal decree led to the first factory devoted to sugar extraction from beetroots being opened in Kunern, Silesia in 1801; the Silesian sugar beet was soon introduced to France, where Napoleon opened schools for studying the plant. He ordered that 28,000 hectares be devoted to growing the new sugar beet; this was in response to British blockades of cane sugar during the Napoleonic Wars, which stimulated the rapid growth of a European sugar beet industry. By 1840, about 5% of the world's sugar was derived from sugar beets, by 1880, this number had risen more than tenfold to over 50%; the sugar beet was introduced to North America after 1830, with the first commercial production starting in 1879 at a farm in Alvarado, California.
The sugar beet was introduced to Chile by German settlers around 1850. "The beet-root, when being boiled, yields a juice similar to syrup of sugar, beautiful to look at on account of its vermilion color". This was written by 16th-century scientist, Olivier de Serres, who discovered a process for preparing sugar syrup from the common red beet. However, because crystallized cane sugar was available and provided a better taste, this process never caught on; this story characterizes the history of the sugar beet. The competition between beet sugar and sugarcane for control of the sugar market plays out from the first extraction of a sugar syrup from a garden beet into the modern day; the use of sugar beets for the extraction of crystallized sugar dates to 1747, when Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, professor of physics in the Academy of Science of Berlin, discovered the existence of a sugar in vegetables similar in its properties to that obtained from sugarcane. He found. Despite Marggraf’s success in isolating pure sugar from beets, their commercial manufacture for sugar did not take off until the early 19th century.
Marggraf's student and successor Franz Karl Achard began selectively breeding sugar beet from the'White Silesian' fodder beet in 1784. By the beginning of the 19th century, his beet was about 5–6% sucrose by weight, compared to around 20% in modern varieties. Under the patronage of Frederick William III of Prussia, he opened the world's first beet sugar factory in 1801, at Cunern in Silesia; the work of Achard soon attracted the attention of Napoleon Bonaparte, who appointed a commission of scientists to go to Silesia to investigate Achard's factory. Upon their return, two small factories were constructed near Paris. Although these factories were not altogether a success, the results attained interested Napoleon. Thus, when two events, the blockade of Europe by the British Navy and the Haitian Revolution, made the importation of cane sugar untenable, Napoleon seized the opportunity offered by beet sugar to address the shortage. In 1811, Napoleon issued a decree appropriating one million francs for the establishment of sugar schools, compelling the farmers to plant a large acreage to sugar be
Liquor is an alcoholic drink produced by distillation of grains, fruit, or vegetables that have gone through alcoholic fermentation. The distillation process purifies the liquid and removes diluting components like water, for the purpose of increasing its proportion of alcohol content; as liquors contain more alcohol, they are considered "harder" – in North America, the term hard liquor is used to distinguish distilled alcoholic drinks from non-distilled ones. As examples, this term does not include beverages such as beer, mead, sake, or cider, as they are fermented but not distilled; these all have a low alcohol content less than 15%. Brandy is a liquor produced by the distillation of wine, has an ABV of over 35%. Other examples of liquors include vodka, gin, tequila and whisky; the term "spirit" refers to liquor that contains no added sugar and has at least 20% alcohol by volume. Liquor bottled with added sugar and added flavorings, such as Grand Marnier and American schnapps, are known instead as liqueurs.
Liquor has an alcohol concentration higher than 30%. Beer and wine, which are not distilled, are limited to a maximum alcohol content of about 20% ABV, as most yeasts cannot metabolise when the concentration of alcohol is above this level; the origin of "liquor" and its close relative "liquid" was the Latin verb liquere, meaning "to be fluid". According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an early use of the word in the English language, meaning "a liquid", can be dated to 1225; the first use the OED mentions of its meaning "a liquid for drinking" occurred in the 14th century. Its use as a term for "an intoxicating alcoholic drink" appeared in the 16th century; the term "spirit" in reference to alcohol stems from Middle Eastern alchemy. These alchemists were more concerned with medical elixirs than with transmuting lead into gold; the vapor given off and collected during an alchemical process was called a spirit of the original material. Early evidence of distillation comes from Akkadian tablets dated circa 1200 BC describing perfumery operations, providing textual evidence that an early, primitive form of distillation was known to the Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia.
Early evidence of distillation comes from alchemists working in Alexandria, Roman Egypt, in the 1st century. Distilled water was described in the 2nd century AD by Alexander of Aphrodisias. Alchemists in Roman Egypt were using a distillation alembic or still device in the 3rd century. Distillation was known in the ancient Indian subcontinent, evident from baked clay retorts and receivers found at Taxila and Charsadda in modern Pakistan, dating back to the early centuries of the Christian era; these "Gandhara stills" were only capable of producing weak liquor, as there was no efficient means of collecting the vapors at low heat. Distillation in China could have begun during the Eastern Han dynasty, but the distillation of beverages began in the Jin and Southern Song dynasties according to archaeological evidence. Freeze distillation involves freezing the alcoholic beverage and removing the ice; the freezing technique had limitations in geography and implementation limiting how this method was put to use.
The medieval Arabs used the distillation process extensively, there is evidence that they distilled alcohol. Al-Kindi unambiguously described the distillation of wine in the 9th century; the process spread to Italy, where evidence of the distillation of alcohol comes from the School of Salerno in southern Italy during the 12th century. In China, archaeological evidence indicates that the true distillation of alcohol began during the 12th century Jin or Southern Song dynasties. A still has been found at an archaeological site in Qinglong, dating to the 12th century. In India, the true distillation of alcohol was introduced from the Middle East, was in wide use in the Delhi Sultanate by the 14th century. Fractional distillation was developed by Taddeo Alderotti in the 13th century; the production method was written in code. In 1437, "burned water" was mentioned in the records of the County of Katzenelnbogen in Germany, it was served in a narrow glass called a Goderulffe. Claims upon the origin of specific beverages are controversial invoking national pride, but they are plausible after the 12th century AD, when Irish whiskey and German brandy became available.
These spirits would have had a much lower alcohol content than the alchemists' pure distillations, they were first thought of as medicinal elixirs. Liquor consumption rose in Europe in and after the mid-14th century, when distilled liquors were used as remedies for the Black Death. Around 1400, methods to distill spirits from wheat and rye beers, a cheaper option than grapes, were discovered, thus began the "national" drinks of Europe: jenever, Schnaps, borovička, akvavit/snaps, ouzo and poitín. The actual names emerged only in the 16th century, it is legal to distill beverage alcohol as a hobby for personal use in some countries, including New Zealand and the Netherlands. In the United States, it is illegal to distill beverage alcohol without
Alchemy was an ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscientific tradition practiced throughout Europe and Asia, originating in Greco-Roman Egypt in the first few centuries AD. It aims to purify and perfect certain objects. Common aims were chrysopoeia, the transmutation of "base metals" into "noble metals"; the perfection of the human body and soul was thought to permit or result from the alchemical magnum opus and, in the Hellenistic and Western mystery tradition, the achievement of gnosis. In Europe, the creation of a philosopher's stone was variously connected with all of these projects. In English, the term is limited to descriptions of European alchemy, but similar practices existed in the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, the Muslim world. In Europe, following the 12th-century Renaissance produced by the translation of Medieval Islamic works on science and the rediscovery of Aristotelian philosophy, alchemists played a significant role in early modern science.
Islamic and European alchemists developed a structure of basic laboratory techniques, theory and experimental method, some of which are still in use today. However, they continued antiquity's belief in four elements and guarded their work in secrecy including cyphers and cryptic symbolism, their work was guided by Hermetic principles related to magic and religion. Modern discussions of alchemy are split into an examination of its exoteric practical applications and its esoteric spiritual aspects, despite the arguments of scholars like Holmyard and von Franz that they should be understood as complementary; the former is pursued by historians of the physical sciences who examine the subject in terms of early chemistry and charlatanism, the philosophical and religious contexts in which these events occurred. The latter interests historians of esotericism and some philosophers and spiritualists; the subject has made an ongoing impact on literature and the arts. Despite this split, which von Franz believes has existed since the Western traditions' origin in a mix of Greek philosophy, mixed with Egyptian and Mesopotamian technology, numerous sources have stressed an integration of esoteric and exoteric approaches to alchemy as far back as Pseudo-Democritus's first-century AD On Physical and Mystical Matters.
Although alchemy is popularly associated with magic, historian Lawrence M. Principe writes: Most readers are aware of several common claims about alchemy—for example... that it is akin to magic, or that its practice or now is deceptive. These ideas about alchemy emerged after. While each of them might have limited validity within a narrow context, none of them is an accurate depiction of alchemy in general." The word alchemy comes from Old French alquemie, used in Medieval Latin as alchymia. This name was itself brought from the Arabic word al-kīmiyā' composed of two parts: the Late Greek term khēmeía, khēmía, meaning'to fuse or cast a metal', the Arabic definite article al-, meaning'The'. Together this association can be interpreted as'the process of transmutation by which to fuse or reunite with the divine or original form', its roots can be traced to the Egyptian name kēme, meaning'black earth' which refers to the fertile and auriferous soil of the Nile valley, as opposed to red desert sand.
According to the Egyptologist Wallis Budge, the Arabic word al-kīmiyaʾ means "the Egyptian ", borrowing from the Coptic word for "Egypt", kēme. This Coptic word derives from Demotic kmỉ, itself from ancient Egyptian kmt; the ancient Egyptian word referred to both the country and the colour "black". However, according to Mahn, this theory may be an example of folk etymology. Assuming an Egyptian origin, chemistry is defined as follows: Chemistry, from the ancient Egyptian word "khēmia" meaning transmutation of earth, is the science of matter at the atomic to molecular scale, dealing with collections of atoms, such as molecules and metals. Thus, according to Budge and others, chemistry derives from an Egyptian word khemein or khēmia, "preparation of black powder" derived from the name khem, Egypt. A decree of Diocletian, written about 300 AD in Greek, speaks against "the ancient writings of the Egyptians, which treat of the khēmia transmutation of gold and silver"; the Medieval Latin form was influenced by Greek chymeia meaning'mixture' and referring to pharmaceutical chemistry.
Alchemy is several philosophical traditions spanning three continents. These traditions' general penchant for cryptic and symbolic language makes it hard to trace their mutual influences and "genetic" relationships. One can distinguish at least three major strands, which appear to be independent, at least in their earlier stages: Chinese alchemy, centered in China and its zone of cultural influence. Chinese alchemy was connected to Ta
Vodka is a clear distilled alcoholic beverage originating from Poland and Russia, composed of water and ethanol, but sometimes with traces of impurities and flavorings. Traditionally, it is made by distilling the liquid from cereal grains or potatoes that have been fermented, though some modern brands, such as Ciroc, CooranBong, Bombora, use fruits or sugar as the base. Since the 1890s, the standard Polish, Belarusian, Estonian, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Slovak and Ukrainian vodkas are 40% alcohol by volume, a percentage misattributed to Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. Meanwhile, the European Union has established a minimum alcohol content of 37.5% for any European vodka to be named as such. But beverages sold as vodka in the United States must have a minimum alcohol content of 40%. With these loose restrictions, most commercial vodka contains 40% alcohol. Vodka is traditionally drunk "neat" or "straight", though it is served freezer chilled in the vodka belt countries of Belarus, Finland, Lithuania, Norway, Russia and Ukraine.
It is used in cocktails and mixed drinks, such as the Vodka martini, Vodka Tonic, Greyhound, Black or White Russian, Moscow Mule, Bloody Mary, Bloody Caesar. The name vodka is a diminutive form of the Slavic word voda, interpreted as little water: root вод- + -к- + -a; the word vodka was recorded for the first time in 1405 in Akta Grodzkie, the court documents from the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland. At the time, wódka referred to medicines and cosmetic products, while the beverage was called gorzałka, the source of Ukrainian horilka; the word vodka written in Cyrillic appeared first in 1533, in relation to a medicinal drink brought from Poland to Russia by the merchants of Kievan Rus'. Although the word vodka could be found in early manuscripts and in lubok pictograms, it began to appear in Russian dictionaries only in the mid-19th century, it was attested in Sámuel Gyarmathi's Russian-German-Hungarian glossary of 1799, where it is glossed with Latin vinum adustum. In English literature the word vodka was attested in the late 18th century.
In a book of his travels published in English in 1780, Johann Gottlieb Georgi explained that "kabak in the Russian language signifies a public house for the common people to drink vodka in." William Tooke in 1799 glossed vodka as "rectified corn-spirits". In French, Théophile Gautier in 1800 glossed it as a "grain liquor" served with meals in Poland. Another possible connection of vodka with "water" is the name of the medieval alcoholic beverage aqua vitae, reflected in Polish okowita, Ukrainian оковита, Belarusian акавіта, Scandinavian akvavit. People in the area of vodka's probable origin have names for vodka with roots meaning "to burn": Polish: gorzała. Horílka. Harelka. In Russian during the 17th and 18th centuries, горящѣе вино or горячее вино was used. Others languages include the German Branntwein, Danish brændevin, Dutch: brandewijn, Swedish: brännvin, Norwegian: brennevin. Scholars debate the beginnings of vodka, it is a contentious issue because little historical material is available.
For many centuries, beverages differed compared to the vodka of today, as the spirit at that time had a different flavor and smell, was used as medicine. It contained little alcohol, an estimated maximum of about 14%; the still, allowing for distillation, increased purity, increased alcohol content, was invented in the 8th century. In Poland, vodka has been produced since the early Middle Ages with local traditions as varied as the production of cognac in France, or Scottish whisky; the world's first written mention of the drink and of the word "vodka" was in 1405 from Akta Grodzkie recorder of deeds, in the court documents from the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland and it went on to become a popular drink there. At the time, the word wódka referred to chemical compounds such as medicines and cosmetics' cleansers, while the popular beverage known as vodka was called gorzałka, the source of Ukrainian horilka; the word written in Cyrillic appeared first in 1533, in relation to a medicinal drink brought from Poland to Russia by the merchants of Kievan Rus'.
In these early days, the spirits were used as medicines. Stefan Falimierz asserted in his 1534 works on herbs that vodka could serve "to increase fertility and awaken lust". Wodka lub gorzałka, by Jerzy Potański, contains valuable information on the production of vodka. Jakub Kazimierz Haur, in his book Skład albo skarbiec znakomitych sekretów ekonomii ziemiańskiej, gave detailed recipes for making vodka from rye; some Polish vodka blends go back centuries. Most notable are Żubrówka, from
A pot still is a type of distillation apparatus or still used to distill alcoholic spirits such as whisky or cognac. Pot stills operate on a batch distillation basis. Traditionally constructed from copper, pot stills are made in a range of shapes and sizes depending on the quantity and style of spirit desired. By law, cognac and Scotch malt whiskies, single pot still whiskey must be distilled using a pot still. During first distillation, the pot still is filled about two-thirds full of a fermented liquid with an alcohol content of about 7–12%. In the case of whiskey distillation, the liquid used is a beer, while in the case of brandy production, it is a base wine; the pot still is heated so that the liquid boils. The liquid being distilled is a mixture of water and alcohol, along with smaller amounts of other by-products of fermentation, such as aldehydes and esters. Alcohol has a normal boiling point of 78.4 °C, compared with pure water, which boils at 100 °C. As alcohol has a lower boiling point, it is more volatile and evaporates at a higher rate than water.
Therefore, the concentration of alcohol in the vapour phase above the liquid is higher than in the liquid itself. During distillation, this vapour travels up the swan neck at the top of the pot still and down the lyne arm, after which it travels through the condenser, where is cooled to yield a distillate with a higher concentration of alcohol than the original liquid; this distillate, called "low wines" has a concentration of about 25–35% alcohol by volume. These low wines can be further distilled a second time in a pot still to yield a distillate with a higher concentration of alcohol. In the case of many Irish whiskeys, the spirit is further distilled a third time; however and most single malt scotch whiskies are only distilled twice. During distillation, the initial and final portions of spirit which condense may be captured separately from that in the centre or "heart" of the distillation; this is because these portions of the distillate may contain high concentrations of methanol, or other congeners.
The modern pot still is a descendant of an earlier distillation device. The largest pot still used was located in the Old Midleton Distillery, County Cork, Ireland. Constructed in 1825, it is no longer in use; as of 2014 the largest pot stills in use are coincidentally located in the neighbouring New Midleton Distillery, County Cork and have a capacity of 16,498 imperial gallons. Components of a traditional pot still: Pot – where the wash is heated Swan Neck – where the vapours rise and reflux Lyne Arm – transfers the vapour to the condenser Condenser – cools the vapour to yield distillate Alembic Batch distillation Column still Single pot still whiskey Poitín Moonshine The Scottish Pot Stills: The Centrepieces of Every Distillery at Whisky.com
World War I
World War I known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history, it is one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis. In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, the two moved to a war footing. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.
By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and, after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved. General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; when Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th. German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks shift forces to the East before Russia could mobilise. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France; when this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day. On 12 August and France declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Alliance, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in and drew upon each power's colonial empire as well, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe; the Entente and its allies would become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary and their allies would become known as the Central Powers. The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917. In 1915, Italy opened a front in the Alps. Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 and Greece joined the Allies in 1917, expanding the war in the Balkans; the United States remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade prevented the Germans from doing the same the U. S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies.
After the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U. S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Trained American forces would not begin arriving at the front in large numbers until mid-1918, but the American Expeditionary Force would reach some two million troops. Though Serbia was defeated in 1915, Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918; the 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government in March 1918, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive.
This offensive was successful, but the Allies rallied and drove the Germans back in their Hundred Days Offensive. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti after being decisively defeated by Italy in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. With its allies defeated, revolution at home, the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany signed an armistice on 11 November 1918. World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural and social climate of the world; the war and its immediate aftermath sparked numerous uprisings. The Big Four (Britain, the United States, It
Dordrecht, colloquially Dordt in English named Dort, is a city and municipality in the Western Netherlands, located in the province of South Holland. It is the fourth-largest city of the province, with a population of 118,450; the municipality covers the entire Dordrecht Island often called Het Eiland van Dordt, bordered by the rivers Oude Maas, Beneden Merwede, Nieuwe Merwede, Hollands Diep, Dordtsche Kil. Dordrecht is the largest and most important city in the Drechtsteden and is part of the Randstad, the main conurbation in the Netherlands. Dordrecht has a rich history and culture; the name Dordrecht comes from Thuredrecht. The name seems to mean'thoroughfare'. Earlier etymologists had assumed that the'drecht' suffix came from Latin'trajectum', a ford, but this was rejected in 1996; the Drecht is now supposed to have been derived from ` draeg', which means to tow or drag. Inhabitants of Dordrecht are Dordtenaren. Dordrecht is informally called Dordt by its inhabitants. In earlier centuries, Dordrecht was a major trade port, well known to British merchants, was called Dort in English.
The city was formed in the midst of peat swamps. This river was a branch of the river Dubbel, part of the massive Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta complex, near the current Bagijnhof. Around 1120 reference to Dordrecht was made by a remark that count Dirk IV of Holland was murdered in 1049 near "Thuredrech". Dordrecht was granted city rights by William I, Count of Holland, in 1220, making it the oldest city in the present province of South Holland. In fact, Geertruidenberg was the first city in the historical county of Holland to receive city rights, but this municipality is part of the province of Noord-Brabant. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Dordrecht developed into an important market city because of its strategic location, it traded in wine and cereals. Dordrecht was made more important when it was given staple right in 1299. In 1253 a Latin school was founded in Dordrecht, it still is the oldest gymnasium in the Netherlands. From 1600 to 1615 Gerhard Johann Vossius was rector at this school. On 18–19 November 1421, the Saint Elisabeth's flood flooded large parts of southern Holland, causing Dordrecht to become an island.
It was said that over 10,000 people died in the flood, but recent research indicates that it was less than 200 people. In 1572, four years into the Dutch Revolt, representatives of all the cities of Holland, with the exception of Amsterdam, as well as the Watergeuzen, represented by William II de la Marck, gathered in Dordrecht to hold the Eerste Vrije Statenvergadering known as the Unie van Dordrecht; this secret meeting, called by the city of Dordrecht, was a rebellious act since only King Philip II or his stadtholder, at that time the Duke of Alva, were allowed to call a meeting of the States of Holland. During the meeting, the organization and financing of the rebellion against the Spanish occupation was discussed, Phillip II was unanimously denounced, William of Orange was chosen as the rightful stadtholder and recognized as the official leader of the revolt. Orange, represented at the meeting by his assistant Philips of Marnix, was promised financial support of his struggle against the Spanish and at his own request, freedom of religion was declared in all of Holland.
The gathering is regarded as the first important step towards the free and independent Dutch Republic. Other important gatherings such as the Union of Brussels and the Union of Utrecht paved the way for official independence of the Dutch Republic, declared in the Act of Abjuration in 1581; the Union of Dordrecht was held in an Augustinian monastery, nowadays called het Hof. The room in which the meeting was held is called de Statenzaal and features a stained glass window in which the coats of arms of the twelve cities that were present at the meeting can be seen. From November 13, 1618 to May 9, 1619, an important Dutch Reformed Church assembly took place in Dordrecht, referred to as the Synod of Dordrecht; the synod attempted, succeeded, to settle the theological differences of opinion between the central tenets of Calvinism, a new school of thought within the Dutch Reformed Church known as Arminianism, named for its spiritual leader Jacobus Arminius. Arminius' followers were commonly known as Remonstrants, after the 1610 Five Articles of Remonstrance which outlined their points of dissent from the church's official doctrine.
They were opposed by the Contra-Remonstrants, or the Gomarists, who were led by Dutch theologian Franciscus Gomarus. During the Twelve Years' Truce, this in essence purely theological conflict between different factions of the church had in practice spilled over into politics, dividing society along ideological lines, threatening the existence of the young republic by bringing it to the brink of civil war; the synod was attended by Gomarist Dutch delegates and by delegates from Reformed churches in Germany and England. Though it was intended that the synod would bring agreement on the doctrine of predestination among all the Reformed churches, in practice this Dutch synod was concerned with problems facing the Dutch Reformed Church; the opening sessions dealt with a new Dutch translation of the Bible, a catechism, the censorsh