|Birth name||Piet Pietersen Heyn|
|Born||25 November 1577|
Delfshaven, County of Holland
|Died||18 June 1629(aged 51)|
Piet Pieterszoon Hein (25 November 1577 – 18 June 1629) was a Dutch admiral and privateer for the Dutch Republic during the Eighty Years' War. Hein was the first and the last to capture a large part of a Spanish treasure fleet which transported huge amounts of gold and silver from Spanish America to Spain. The amount of silver taken was so big that it resulted in the rise of the price of silver worldwide and the near bankruptcy of Spain.
Hein was born in Delfshaven (now part of Rotterdam), the son of a sea captain, and he became a sailor while he was still a teenager. During his first journeys he suffered from extreme motion sickness. In his twenties, he was captured by the Spanish, and served as a galley slave for about four years, probably between 1598 and 1602, when he was traded for Spanish prisoners. Between 1603 and 1607, he was again held captive by the Spanish, when captured near Cuba.
The Piet Hein Tunnel in Amsterdam is named in his honor, as is the former Dutch Kortenaer-class frigate, HNLMS Piet Heyn. A direct descendant of Hein was Piet Hein, a famous 20th century Danish mathematician, physicist and poet. A song praising Admiral Hein's capture of the Spanish "silver fleet" written in 1844 is still sung by choirs and children at primary school in the Netherlands, as well as during traditional drinks by student unions in Belgian universities. A statue of him stands in his native Delfshaven, now a district in Rotterdam, and one in the Cuban city of Matanzas near where the silver fleet battle occurred.
Piet Hein rejected the slavery in the Spanish New World colonies, as the inhumane treatment of fellow human beings. Dutch historian Siebe Thissen suggests that he rejected slavery after his 10 years capture by the Spanish empire. During this capture Hein served as a galley slave. It is unclear how this rejection of slavery fits in his activities for the Dutch West India Company, and his contributions to their Groot Desseyn.
There is an ongoing debate on the meaning of slavery within Dutch history, in which Piet Hein is an anachronistic figure head. On the one hand, some modern critiques attribute the evils of the Dutch Atlantic slave trade to him. On the other hand, he is still used as a hero figure, within a 19th-century expression of romantic idealism. In June 2020 his statue in Delfshaven was defaced.