Second Anglo-Dutch War

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The Royal Prince and other vessels at the Four Days Fight, 1114 June 1666 by Abraham Storck depicts a battle of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In the foreground the Swiftsure with Berkeley sinks. On the right the grounded Prince Royal with admiral Ayscue surrenders by firing white smoke; de Ruyter on the Zeven Provinciën accepts. In between the Royal Charles can just be seen with a broken mast.

The Second Anglo-Dutch War was fought between England and the United Provinces from 1665 to 1667.



In April 1654 the First Anglo-Dutch War was concluded with a British victory despite the fact that peace was not signed for another eight months. With Admiral Maarten Tromp's death early in the final engagement during a fierce gale, Witte de With assumed the Dutch command and although he fought bravely, he was obliged to retire beyond the proximity of the Dutch shoals, after which General Monck's fleet of 100 ships themselves struggling against the storm were commanded to haul off.

After the Restoration there was a general surge of optimism in England. There was great hope to end the Dutch dominance in world trade. Privateers began to attack Dutch ships, capturing about 200 of them. After incidents involving the English capture of Dutch trading posts and colonies in West Africa (by Robert Holmes) and North America (New Netherland among which New Amsterdam); — subsequently partly recaptured by the Dutch — the Dutch declared war in January 1665; the English declared war on the Netherlands on March 4, 1665.

After the First Anglo-Dutch War the Dutch were better prepared, having built 60 ships in 1654 but still only possessing four heavier ships of the line. During the second war they greatly extended their navy by ordering eighty new warships from 1664 onward. England could only build a dozen.

The explicit casus belli was that Dutch ships were obliged by treaty (1662) to salute the British flag first. In 1664 the British ships began to provoke the Dutch by not saluting in return. Though ordered by the Dutch government to keep on saluting first anyway, many Dutch commanders couldn't bear the insult.

However, the cause celeb was the previous Amboyna Massacre, where, in 1623, the Dutch had incited locals against British merchants and factors. The British were hung up with cloths placed over their faces upon which water dripped until the victims inhaled water. After some time, the victims were taken down to vomit up the water, and then it was repeated. The Dutch also put candles on the victims' bodies to show the translucence of the flesh. The British never forgot this atrocity, and pamphleteers reminded the public of it as the war neared. Additionally, broadsheets demonized the Dutch as drunken and profane, with Andrew Marvell's 1653 insult of Holland, "The Character of Holland," reprinted ("This indigested vomit of the Sea,/ Fell to the Dutch by Just Propriety"). When De Ruyter recaptured the West African trading posts, many pamphlets were written about presumed new Dutch atrocities, although these had no basis in fact.

The true causes of the war were mercantile. The British sought to take over the Dutch trade routes and to exclude the Dutch from their colonial possessions. Contraband shipping had gone on from English colonies in America and Surinam for a decade, and the British felt that they were being cheated of their revenues. The vilification of the Dutch traders was at least partially an expression of unease with the presence of notable Cromwellian politicians and officers in Holland in exile. Charles II of England had reason to be nervous about the possibility of a coordinated uprising within England and a Dutch invasion.

The outbreak of war was followed ominously by the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. These events, in such close succession, virtually brought Britain to its knees.

The War

The first encounter between the nations was, as in the First Anglo-Dutch War, at sea. The war started with the Battle of Lowestoft, where the English gained a great victory and ruled the seas for over a year. They failed to take advantage of this however. The Spice Fleet from the Dutch East Indies managed to return home safely, France (Louis XIV)and Frederick III of Denmark took the side of the Republic and for every warship the English built, the Dutch wharfs turned out seven. The English paid the bishop of Münster, Bernhard von Galen, to invade the Republic, but his ragtag army was more of a nuisance than a real threat. In the spring of 1666 the Dutch had rebuilt their fleet with much heavier ships and threatened to join with the French. A new confrontation was inevitable.

This huge Four Days Battle 1666, one of the longest naval engagements in history, ended up in both sides claiming victory; the English because Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter had retreated first, the Dutch because he had also caused twice as many losses for the English as they had for the Dutch and the British fleet was at the end in retreat itself. Administrative difficulties in the Navy continued whilst a fleet of 80 ships under General George Monck, the Commonwealth veteran, (after, the Duke of Albemarle) set sail at the end of May 1666. Prince Rupert was detached with 20 of these ships to intercept a French squadron on the 29th May (Julian calendar), thought to be passing up the English Channel, presumably to join the Dutch fleet.

Leaving the Downs, Albemarle came upon de Ruyter with a fleet of 85 ships at anchor, and he immediately engaged the nearest Dutch ship before the rest of the fleet could come to its assistance. The Dutch rearguard under Cornelis Tromp set upon a starboard tack, taking the battle toward their own shoals, compelling Albemarle to turn about, to prevent being outflanked by the Dutch rear and centre, culminating in a ferocious unremitting battle that raged until nightfall.

At daylight on 2nd June, Albemarle's strength was reduced to 44 ships, but with these he renewed the battle tacking past the enemy four times in close action. With his fleet in too poor a condition to continue to challenge he retired towards the coast with the Dutch in pursuit.

The following day Albemarle ordered the damaged ships forward covering their return on the 3rd until Prince Rupert returning with his 20 ships, joined him. During this manoeuvre Ayscue on the grounded Prince Royal surrendered, the last time in history for an English admiral in battle. On the 4th they attacked in line together but got heavily damaged and almost encircled. Gradually they fought windward through the Dutch, at length managing to break off the action as de Ruyter retreated, perhaps for lack of gunpowder.

After this, the English won several victories, the greatest the St. James's Day Battle, but failed to inflict decisive losses to the Dutch; due to overwhelming financial problems - partly caused by the large cost of repairing their fleet, partly by Charles embezzling the war chest - they were forced to reduce their operations. King Charles laid up his fleet and sued for peace. The Dutch however, enraged by the wanton destruction of over 150 merchant ships by the British vice-admiral Robert Holmes during his raid on the Vlie estuary in august 1666 and the following sacking of the island of Terschelling (Holmes's Bonfire), decided to repay this insolence first and end the war with a clear Dutch victory.


In June, 1667, de Ruyter launched the Dutch "Raid on the Medway" at the mouth of the River Thames. After capturing the fort at Sheerness, they went on to break through the massive chain protecting the entrance to the Medway and, on the 13th, attacked the English fleet which had been laid up at Chatham. The daring raid remains England's greatest military disaster since the Norman Conquest. Many of the Navy's remaining ships were destroyed, either by the Dutch or by being scuttled by the English to block the river. Three ships of the line were burned: Royal Oak, the new Loyal London and Royal James. The English flagship, HMS Royal Charles, was abandoned by its skeleton crew, captured without a shot being fired, and towed back to the Netherlands. Its coat-of-arms is now on display in the Rijksmuseum. Fortunately for the English the raiders spared the Chatham Dockyard, England's largest industrial complex.

The Dutch success had a major psychological impact throughout England, with London feeling especially vulnerable just a year after the Great Fire. This, together with the cost of the war, of the Great Plague and the extravagant spending of Charles II, meant that the English were keen to sign a peace treaty — and so were the Dutch as they had to deal with a French invasion of the Spanish Netherlands at the same time.


On July 31, 1667, the Treaty of Breda sealed peace between the two nations. The treaty allowed the English to keep the territory around New Amsterdam (the current New York), the Dutch received control over Suriname instead.

The peace did not last long, with England joining France to attack the Netherlands in 1672 — the Third Anglo-Dutch War.

Related topics

External links

it:Seconda guerra anglo-olandese nl:Tweede Engels-Nederlandse Oorlog pl:Druga wojna angielsko-holenderska


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