The scene depicted probably took place during the Twelve Years Truce when Dutch joined Venetian ships in the Mediterranean to destroy pirate shipping. The central three-master carries the flag of Enkhuizen and is about to effect the boarding of the adjacent three-master. The red flag near the stern indicates that the attack is about to start; the standard bearer in the well of the ship has begun to wave his banner, a sign that the attack has actually started. The hostile ship carries the flag of the Turkish Admiral in Tripoli. The Turks had not signed the Treaty establishing the Truce and were therefore treated as pirates. It has been suggested that the engagement might refer to that described by Albert Cornelis 't Hoen in a letter from Lisbon in 1619 to the Council of Enkhuizen in which he records that a Turkish ship had been captured on the 29th of July of that year a Turkish ship had been captured.
See colour illustration