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An irresistible story set during the Eighty Years War
that the Netherlands fought against Spain

The Waterdunes Treason

The Dutch version of The Treason of WaterdunenAn orphan boy sold to the Spanish army, a gang of girls in the Flemish countryside, heresy, a secretive dwarf, a remarkable seal and an island that has almost vanished beneath the waves.

These are the ingredients of an exciting historical novel for children, set in 1572.

Robbe is the only one to escape when the bailiff and his men come to murder his 'heretical' parents and the rest of his family.

He turns to an uncle for help, but instead of protecting him the uncle sells him to a group of Spanish soldiers as a slave.

Robbe is now a mochilero, a child slave to the army. His new boss recently beat his previous mochilero to death and he's happy to have a new victim. Robbe's life becomes a living hell.

Only when there's an attack on the camp where Robbe is staying and one of the captured attackers turns out to be a girl does Robbe start to feel hopeful again (and brave).


He helps her escape and so begins a thrilling flight from captivity that takes him to the little island of Waterdunes at the mouth of the Westerschelde river.

They eventually arrive in Flushing, where they play an important role in the liberation of the city by the rebels of the Dutch revolt.

Rob Ruggenberg's youth novel is an old-fashioned adventure story for children, cleverly combining fiction with historical events. Little known facts about the Eighty Years War, like the use of child slaves by the Spanish army and the existence of gangs of orphaned children, bring the story alive.

The Author

As a journalist, Rob Ruggenberg has always been interested in history and the sea, and this comes through in his first novel for young people. The idea for the story came to him when he discovered (in Spanish archives, in Seville) that the Spanish army used children as slaves.

TITLE: Het verraad van Waterdunen, was first published in March 2006 by Querido Children's Books, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ISBN: 9045103109, 216 pages, in Dutch language only.

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Bal  In 2007 Het verraad van Waterdunen was awarded a Flag and Ribbon, a Dutch literary prize for childrens books Bal The book was also nominated for the Thea Beckman Prize, for the best historical youth novel of 2006 Bal Furthermore the book was chosen as core title for the Dutch Young Jury 2008 (12-16 years).

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