1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alkmaar

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ALKMAAR, a town in the province of North Holland, kingdom of Holland, 24½ m. by rail N.N.W. of Amsterdam, connected by steam-tramway with Haarlem and Amsterdam, and on the North Holland canal. Pop. (1900) 18,373. Alkmaar is a typical North Holland town, with tree-lined canals and brightly coloured 17th-century houses. The old city walls have been replaced by pleasant gardens and walks, and there is a park in which stands a fine monument (1876) by J. T. Stracké (1817–1891), symbolizing Alcmaria victrix, to commemorate the siege by the Spaniards in 1573. The Groote Kerk (1470–1498), dedicated to St Lawrence, is a handsome building and contains the tomb of Floris V., count of Holland (d. 1296), a brass of 1546, and some paintings (1507). In the town hall (1507) are the library and a small museum with two pictures by the 17th-century artist Caesar van Everdingen, who with his more celebrated brother Allart van Everdingen (q.v.) was a native of the town. The weigh-house (1582) is a picturesque building with quaint gable and tower. Just outside the town lies the Alkmaar wood, at the entrance to which stands the military cadet school which serves as a preparatory school for the royal military academy at Breda. Alkmaar derives its chief importance from being the centre of the flourishing butter and cheese trade of this region of Holland. It is also a considerable market for horses, cattle and grain, and there is a little boat-building and salt and sail-cloth manufacture. Tramways connect Alkmaar with Egmond and with the pretty summer resort of Bergen, which lies sheltered by woods and dunes.

The name of Alkmaar, which means “all sea,” first occurs in the 10th century, and recalls its former situation in the midst of marshlands and lakes. It was probably originally a fishing-village, but with the reclamation of the surrounding morasses, e.g. that of the Schermer in 1685, and their conversion into rich meadow land, Alkmaar gradually acquired an important trade. In 1254 it received a charter from William II., count of Holland, similar to that of Haarlem, but in the 15th century duke Philip the Good of Burgundy made the impoverishment of the town, due to ill-government, the excuse for establishing an oligarchical régime, by charters of 1436 and 1437. As the capital of the ancient district of Kennemerland between den Helder and Haarlem, Alkmaar frequently suffered in the early wars between the Hollanders and the Frisians, and in 1517 was captured by the united Gelderlanders and Frisians. In 1573 it successfully sustained a seven-weeks' siege by 16,000 Spaniards under the duke of Alva. In 1799 Alkmaar gave its name to a convention signed by the duke of York and the French general Brune, in accordance with which the Russo-British army of 23,000 men, which was defeated at Bergen, evacuated Holland. A monument was erected in 1901 to commemorate the Russians who fell.