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"1667 and all that – by J.D. Davies" Topic

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367 hits since 22 Aug 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0122 Aug 2017 11:56 a.m. PST

"This month marks the 350th anniversary of the signing of the Peace of Breda, which ended the second Anglo-Dutch War. Although the anniversary is being celebrated fulsomely in the Netherlands, the peace itself was a somewhat curious affair, overshadowed by other events – the audacious Dutch attack on the Medway a month earlier, which culminated in the towing away of the English flagship Royal Charles, and the immediate, ongoing crisis precipitated by the French invasion of the Spanish Netherlands, which had begun in May. This posed an obvious strategic threat to the United Provinces of the Netherlands, despite the fact that it was still nominally allied to France, which had fought alongside it in the war against Charles II's kingdoms. At the exact moment that Louis XIV's army was crossing the border into Flanders, for example, a combined Franco-Dutch squadron was fighting a little remembered battle against an English force off the island of Nevis. The day after the Dutch towed the Royal Charles out of the Medway, reinforcements under Sir John Harman won a convincing victory over the French at Martinique, burning, sinking or capturing up to twenty French ships – in other words, far more hulls than were destroyed by the Dutch at Chatham.

All of this goes to prove that naval history can be something of a minefield, where making blithe assumptions about the outcomes of battles, or even the nature of entire wars, can be distinctly dangerous. Take the name most commonly applied to this conflict, ‘the Second Anglo-Dutch war'. This is an easy label to apply, placing the conflict into a neat sequence, but it ignores the fact that contemporaries often called it the first war – that is, the first war the monarchy had fought against the Dutch, thus downgrading the Commonwealth's war against them in the 1650s – and that, for more than half of its duration, the British kingdoms weren't just fighting the Dutch, but also their allies, the French and the Danes. Quite apart from the vicious actions in the Caribbean, there were some remarkable engagements in European waters. In September 1666, for example, the great French warship Rubis was taken in the Channel in nearly farcical circumstances – she mistook the ensigns of the English White squadron for the Bourbon colours, blundered into the middle of the squadron in question, and was battered into surrender. (She was taken into the Royal Navy as a Second Rate and named the French Ruby, as there was already an English warship of the name.) Then on 17 May 1667, the frigate Princess fought a ferocious battle with two Danish warships off the Norwegian coast. The captain was killed after an hour, followed in short order by the lieutenant and the gunner, but the other officers continued to fight the ship and managed to make their escape. The dying words of her captain, Henry Dawes – ‘For God's sake, do not yield the ship to those fellows!' – was used for many years as an example to inspire young naval officers under training. The fight of the Princess was the only major engagement at sea against the Danes, but their contribution to the war could have been rather more memorable if they had managed to bring off their extraordinary scheme to invade and retake the Orkney Islands, which they had lost to Scotland in legally questionable circumstances in 1468!…"
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KniazSuvorov Inactive Member22 Aug 2017 1:40 p.m. PST

Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Tango0123 Aug 2017 10:55 a.m. PST

A votre service mon ami!. (smile)


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