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Second Anglo-Dutch War

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Second Anglo-Dutch War

Four Days Fight, 11–14 June 1666, by Abraham Storck

Photograph Source: Public Domain

Second Anglo-Dutch War - Dates:

The Second Anglo-Dutch War was officially fought between March 4, 1665 and July 31, 1667. Several incidents, such as the capture of New Amsterdam by the English (August 27, 1664), occurred prior to the declaration of war.

Second Anglo-Dutch War - Key Battles:

  • Battle of Lowestoft, June 13, 1665 (Naval, English Victory)
  • Battle of Vågen, August 2, 1665 (Naval, Dutch Victory)
  • Four Days Battle, June 11-14, 1666 (Naval, Draw)
  • St. James' Day Battle, August 4-5, 1666 (Naval, English Victory)
  • Medway Raid, June 9-14, 1667 (Naval, Dutch Victory

Second Anglo-Dutch War - Key Commanders:

English

  • James, Duke of York
  • General-at-Sea George Monck, Duke of Albemarle
  • Prince Rupert of the Rhine
  • Rear-Admiral Thomas Teddiman

Dutch

  • Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter
  • Lieutenant-Admiral Cornelis Tromp
  • Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam
  • Cornelis de Witt

Second Anglo-Dutch War - Causes:

The Second Anglo-Dutch War began due to England's desire to end the Dutch domination of world trade. Urged on by his brother, James, Duke of York, King Charles II moved towards war in 1664, by releasing swarms of English privateers to attack Dutch commerce as well as seizing the colony of New Amsterdam (New York) and several trading outposts in West Africa. Charles also acted against the Dutch to insure the future prospects of his nephew, William III of Orange. In response, to the English aggression, the Dutch dispatched a fleet under Michiel de Ruyter to retake their African possessions.

Second Anglo-Dutch War - A Maritime War:

On March 4, 1665, following a Dutch order allowing their ships to open fire when threatened, Charles declared war. Fighting began on June 13, when the Duke of York engaged a Dutch fleet off Lowestoft, England. After heavy fighting, the Duke of York inflicted the worst defeat in Dutch naval history, capturing or sinking seventeen ships while losing only one of his own. Following this defeat, the Grand Pensionary of Holland, Johan de Witt, reorganized the fleet, dismissing incompetent captains and devising new tactics. This was supported by a massive shipbuilding program which the English lacked the money to match.

Second Anglo-Dutch War - Diplomatic Intrigue:

The defeat at Lowestoft was eased in August by the arrival of the rich Spice Fleet from the East Indies. Early in the month the English had attempted to intercept the fleet at Vågen Bay in Norway but were defeated. To support their war effort, the English successfully encouraged the bishop of Münster, Bernhard von Galen, to attack Holland from the east. In addition, they unsuccessfully sought an alliance with Spain. As these events unfurled, King Louis XIV of France, who had an alliance with the Dutch, attempted to negotiate a peace. Realizing that France might enter the war, Charles began working for a peace.

In return for peace, Charles demanded that William III be guaranteed the positions of Captain-General and Admiral-General. The Dutch were unwilling to concede, stating that they would only accept a return to status quo ante. Working through the winter of 1666, the Dutch formed an alliance against England with France and Denmark. In April, with his own lands threatened, Bernhard von Galen made peace with the Dutch, leaving England standing alone. In June, the fleets met again at the Four Days Battle. Fighting to a draw, the new Dutch ships inflicted heavier losses on the English, signaling a shift in power.

Second Anglo-Dutch War - Final Battles:

English military fortunes improved in August when a fleet led by Prince Rupert of the Rhine defeated de Ruyter at the Battle of St. James' Day. This victory did little for the overall English war effort as Charles' treasury was nearly exhausted. Following the Great Fire of London, Charles again approached the Dutch seeking peace. Unwilling to negotiate, the Dutch declined. In early 1667, Charles' plight became desperate. With no money to refit the fleet, its largest ships were laid up at Chatham.

Realizing that he would either be forced to make concessions to Parliament or deal with the Dutch on their terms, he elected for the latter and talks began at Breda. With the English fleet removed from the North Sea, de Ruyter and Cornelis de Witt planned a daring raid on the English base at Chatham for June. Sailing up the Thames and the Medway, they stormed the fortress at Sheerness, destroyed fifteen ships, and captured the English flagship, Royal Charles, which was taken back to Holland as a trophy. The Medway raid was the worst defeat ever inflicted in on the Royal Navy.

Second Anglo-Dutch War - Peace & Impact:

The impact of the Medway raid shook England and Charles urged his emissaries at Breda to make peace quickly. On July 31, 1667, both sides signed the Treaty of Breda which ended the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The treaty was a simple uti possidetis document, permitting both parties to retain those lands they had taken during the fighting. Among the territory to change hands were the English aquisition of New Amsterdam and the Dutch seizure of Surinam. The peace between the two nations was short-lived as the humiliated Charles joined with France to renew hostilities in 1672.

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