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Fort de Schans was constructed by order of William of Orange, who wanted to protect the island and the Reede van Texel from the Spaniards. The star-shaped fort near Oudeschild was built around 1574. The Reede van Texel was important to the shipping industry.
Many ships would be anchored off the Texel coast, waiting for the wind to come from the right direction so they could leave for faraway destinations. Ships that couldn’t sail the shallow Zuider Zee would be anchored here to load or unload their cargo. De Schans did not only provide coastal defence; in the Golden Age it also served as a court for mutiny on the ships and as a prison. Executions also took place here. In the early 19th century, the fort was extended.
In 1811, Napoleon visited De Schans, after which he had it extended and fortified with two neighbouring forts. Fort Lunette, which bordered on Oudeschild, was situated about 700 metres east of De Schans and the closed fort of Redoute was 400 metres west of De Schans.
Fort Lunette and Fort Redoute consisted of single earth walls and served as cover for De Schans in the event of an attack. The plans for the fortification and expansion of Fort de Schans were written by Napoleon himself. In his 'Note sur l’île de Texel' dated 6 April 1811, he described in great detail the work that had to be carried out on the island. However, the three forts were never used in battle.
After the French occupation, the forts fell into disrepair. In the 1930s, Fort Redoute and Fort Lunette were completely levelled. Fort de Schans was partly levelled. The sand resulting from this was used to raise dikes. A few years ago, Natuurmonumenten had Fort de Schans restored in stages. During these works, several interesting finds were made. For instance, traces of an age-old alley were uncovered, which had been used as a platform for canons.
The fort is freely accessible to walkers, from sunrise to sunset. It is fun to walk across and alongside. Natuurmonumenten has several cycle and walking routes that run past the fort. Even more fun is a guided visit to De Schans. To join a group excursion, sign up at Kaap Skil Museum.