Harmen van Bol'es

Deceased Person

1689 – 1764

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Who was Harmen van Bol'es?

Harmen van Bol'es was royal master builder in Russia.

Harmen's father was the travelling windmill builder, originating from a family of carpenters from South Holland, the Netherlands. Grandfather Harmen established himself as a carpenter in the village Bolnes, the origin of the family name. When Cornelis was appointed Town Carpenter in Schiedam in 1690 the family moved there. In his youth Harmen was taught by his father, the City Architect, but he did not follow in his footsteps; his younger brother, Arij van Bol'es became City Architect in 1724. This function was filled by his descendants until 1827.

On 26 April 1713 Harmen van Bol'es signed a contract in The Hague entering into the service of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia. In 1703 Tsar Peter had established Saint Petersburg at the mouth of the Neva River. This proposed new capital was to become the modern window on the western world but in 1713 it was not much more than a mud pool. Design and construction required skilled westerners including those from the much admired by the Tsar, Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The difficult and dangerous work was primarily performed by Russian forced labour.

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on July 23, 2013


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