Gästsida/Guest page: Arne Keller

Musicianship overturned.

There was an eminent Scottish shipbuilder, David Balfour, who built several
warships for the Danish king Chr. IV, including the fabulously fast and
sturdy middle-ship, "Victor", which successfully survived the king's
foolhardy foray into the White Sea and its smugglers and pirates, in spite
of a nasty gash in the hull, cut by a submarine rock. If Balfour had not
built the ship as solid as he did, the world might well have missed out on
half of Dowland's song books, and "Lachrymae" as well.

On a later occasion, Balfour was less fortunate with a new-built ship,
although through no fault of his own, it seems.
The naval researcher Niels Probst has this account in his book about Chr.
IV's fleet, Marinehistorisk Selskab, 1996.
I paraphrase:

July 4 1612 the king sent a letter, urging Balfour to finish and dispatch
his newest project, the "Recompens". There were grave differences between
Balfour and the captain, one Claus Weinkauf (=wine-purchaser).
The ship was built in the town of Itzehoe, which connects with the Elb
through a small, winding river called Stoer, and the journey from Itzehoe
ended after 5 kilometers, when the ship struck a sandy shallow, and slowly
collapsed unto its side to become a total wreck.

Strangely, the shipbuilder, not the captain, was accused of being
responsible for the disaster. Therefore Balfour wrote a letter to the king,
pointing out that the captain's choice of provisions had closely
corresponded to his name; that he preferred female crew-members, and,
finally, that in stead of local pilots with a knowledge of the dangerous
river, he had hired musicians to guide the ship!

The letter, kept in the king's archives, has been perforated twice with a
triangular instrument.

Balfour served some four years in the state prison, Dragsholm, until, on
the entreaties of James I, he was eventually released to resume his

Arne Keller.
Bild/Image: Axel Nelson


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