Anglo-Dutch Wars

1652 to 1783
Dutch — versus — English

First Anglo-Dutch War, 1652-1654 Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665-1667 Third Anglo-Dutch War, 1672 Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, 1770-1773

The Anglo-Dutch wars were all fought primarily over mercantile interests, and were entirely naval in character. At the time of the first three wars, Dutch was at the height of her power, having displaced Portugal as the main colonial trading power in Asia. The Dutch East India Company was extremely wealthy and powerful, and Britain was jealous for control of its American colonies. A secondary aspect of the war had to do with the republic/royalist split among the protestant governments of both Holland and England. The Anglo-Dutch conflict was therefore, essentially resolved by the elevation of William of Orange, a Stuart nephew, first to a position of power within the Dutch republic, and later to the throne of England. From that point, the countries were allies, and over time London, instead of the Netherlands became the center of commercial shipping.

First Anglo-Dutch War : 1652-1654

The First Anglo Dutch war was initiated by the English Commonwealth under Cromwell. During the civil war the Dutch merchant fleet had been honing in on Britain's trade in the Americas, so Britain declared that its colonies would only be allowed to trade with British ships. After much negotiation, this provoked an open war for which the Dutch were not fully prepared. The naval war continued for two years, and seriously impeded both countries shipping. After two years, there was no decisive winner, but both countries were exhausted by the struggle. Cromwell eventually decided that the two Puritan nations should be allies instead of antagonists and opened negotiations for peace.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Goodwin Sands (First ) Dutch victory
Fought November 29, 1652, between a Dutch fleet of 95 sail, under Van Tromp, and an English fleet of 40 ships, under Blake. The Dutch were victorious, the English fleet being much cut up, and two ships captured.
Battle of Portland (First ) English victory
Fought February 18, 1653, between an English fleet of about 70 sail, under Blake, Deane and Monk, and a Dutch fleet of 73 ships, convoying 300 merchantmen, under Van Tromp, de Ruyter and Evetzen. In the early part of the engagement, which was very severely contested, three English ships were carried by the board, and that portion of the fleet which had come into action was nearly overwhelmed. At this crisis, however, the rest of the English ships engaged, the battle was restored, and the captured ships retaken. On the 19th the battle was renewed off the Isle of Wight, 5 Dutch ships being captured or destroyed. On the l0th the Dutch sheered off defeated, having lost during the three days' fighting, 11 men-of-war, 60 merchant ships, 1,500 killed and wounded and 700 prisoners. The English losses were also heavy.
Battle of Leghorn (First ) Dutch victory
Fought off Leghorn March 31, 1653, when six English ships, under Commodore Appleton, were destroyed by a Dutch fleet of 16 sail, under Admiral Van Gelen. Only a sloop escaped the destruction. Van Gelen was mortally wounded during the action.
Battle of Texel (First ) English victory
Fought June 2, 1653, between a British fleet, under Monk, and a Dutch fleet, under Van Tromp. The action was undecided, but on the following day, Monk having been reinforced by 18 ships, under Admiral Blake, renewed the attack, and signally defeated Van Tromp, with a loss of 11 ships and 1,300 prisoners taken, and 6 ships sunk. The British lost 20 ships and 363 killed and wounded.

Short Biography
Robert Blake Military commander turned admiral who took a leading role in the Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars.
Martin van Tromp Dutch Admiral who was a hero of the first Anglo-Dutch War.
Michiel de Ruyter Dutch naval hero of the Anglo-Dutch wars.
George Monck British General during the Commonwealth and Restoration periods. Negotiated restoration of Charles II.

Story Links
Book Links
Soldier and Sailor  in  Stories from English History, Part Third  by  Alfred J. Church
Dutch in the Medway  in  Stories from English History, Part Third  by  Alfred J. Church
The Beginning of New York  in  Story of the Thirteen Colonies  by  H. A. Guerber
Two Famous Admirals  in  The Awakening of Europe  by  M. B. Synge
De Ruyter  in  The Awakening of Europe  by  M. B. Synge
When Blake Whipped the Sea  in  The Boy's Book of Battles  by  Eric Wood

Second Anglo-Dutch War : 1665-1667

Like the first Anglo-Dutch war, the second war was provoked by the British, for essentially mercantile interests. Although Charles II did not particularly want war, some elements within his government were very aggressive and had designs on Dutch colonies in Africa and America. In order to provoke war, the British attacked Dutch trading posts in West Africa, and also took over New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony in the New York region. Although the early war went in favor of the English, the Great Plague and Great Fire of London severely weakened the English war effort, and eventually, they were forced to sue for peace.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Southwoid Bay (Second ) English victory
Fought 1665, between the English fleet, under the Duke of York, and the Dutch fleet, under Admiral Opdam. The English were completely victorious, the Dutch losing 18 ships and 7,000 men. The English lost one ship only, and 700 men.
Battle of the Downs (Second ) drawn battle victory
Fought June 1, 2 and 3, 1666, between the English fleet under the Duke of Albemarle, and the Dutch under De Ruyter, Van Tromp and De Witt. After an obstinate fight, Albemarle, on the 3rd, retired, after setting fire to his disabled vessels, but the Dutch were too seriously crippled to pursue.
Battle of the Goodwins (Second ) Dutch victory
Fought July 1, 1666, between a British fleet of 60 sail, under the Duke of Albemarle, and a Dutch fleet of 71 sail-of-the-line, and 30 smaller vessels under van Tromp and de Ruyter, The action lasted two days, and was desperately contested, but the Dutch being reinforced in the morning of the 3rd, Albemarle bore away. On the 4th, having been joined by Prince Rupert's squadron, he renewed the attack, but without success. The English lost 10 ships, while most of the others were disabled. The killed and wounded amounted to 1,700, while 2,000 were taken prisoners.
Battle of North Foreland (Second ) English victory
Fought July 25, 1666, between the English fleet, under the Duke of Albemarle and Prince Rupert, and the Dutch, under Van Tromp and de Ruyter. The English gained a complete victory, capturing or burning 20 ships. The Dutch had 4,000 men killed or drowned.
Battle of St. Kitts (Second ) English victory
Fought May 10, 1667, when Sir John Harman, commanding an English squadron of 12 frigates, fell in with a combined Dutch and French fleet of 22 sail, under Commodore Kruysen and M. de la Barre, off St. Kitts. Notwithstanding his inferiority, Harman boldly attacked, and gained a signal victory, burning 5 and sinking several more of the enemy's vessels. The allies took refuge in the harbour of St. Kitts, and Sir John, following them in, destroyed the rest of their fleet, at a cost of 80 men only.
Battle of Sheerness (Second ) Dutch victory
Fought June 7, 1667, and following days, when the Dutch fleet, under de Ruyter, sailed up the Medway as far as Upnor Castle, and destroyed 7 ships of war.

Short Biography
Michiel de Ruyter Dutch naval hero of the Anglo-Dutch wars.
Cornelis von Tromp Admiral in the Dutch Navy. Son of Naval hero Martin Von Tromp.
Johan de Witt Statesman who led the Netherlands during the height of dutch power, during Anglo-Dutch wars.
Prince Rupert Commanded Royalist Cavalry during English Civil War, later an admiral, inventor and trader.
George Monck British General during the Commonwealth and Restoration periods. Negotiated restoration of Charles II.

Third Anglo-Dutch War : 1672

The third Anglo-Dutch War was fought as part of a complicated series of hostilities between England, France, the Netherlands and Sweden. England was at first part of a triple alliance with Sweden and the Netherlands against France. However, Charles made a secret deal with France, and France attempted to invade the Netherlands. At this point, England joined France and was briefly at war until a peace was made separately between France and the Netherlands. Overall England was not pleased with the course of events, and again made peace, but not until William III of Orange, a nephew of Charles III who had been excluded from power in the Netherlands for many years, was named "Stadtholder", after the assassination of his rival Johan de Witt. Fifteen years later, William of Orange became William III of England.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Solebay (Third ) drawn battle victory
Fought May 28, 1672, when the French and English fleets, together about 140 sail, under the Comte d'Estrees and the Duke of York, were surprised at anchor, by a Dutch fleet of 115 ships, under de Ruyter. The French were first attacked, but soon edged out of the fight, and the bulk of the work fell to the English. The battle was indecisive, for though the Dutch lost five or more ships, and the English one only, the allied fleet was too crippled to take the offensive for over a month after the action.

Fourth Anglo-Dutch War : 1770-1773

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War occurred during the American Revolutionary War, and was caused by the failure of the Netherlands to support Britain, her supposed ally, during its war with its colonies. The course of the conflict had more to do with internal politicking within the Netherlands, than the relationship with Britain, and it proved to be a disaster for the Netherlands. Once the Dutch realized they were not prepared to fight the British they avoided further hostilities until peace was declared.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Dogger Bank (Fourth ) drawn battle victory
Fought August 15, 1781, between a British fleet of seven battleships and six frigates, under Admiral Hyde Parker, and a Dutch fleet of equal strength under Admiral Zoutman. After a severe engagement, the Dutch bore away, and reached their port in safety, the British fleet being too crippled to pursue. The British lost 109 killed and 362 wounded; the Dutch 1 ship, the Hollandia, 142 killed and 403 wounded.

Image Links

Naval Engagement, Seventeenth Century
 in Stories from English History, Part Third

Men of War
 in Stories from English History, Part Third

The French Ravaging Holland
 in Greatest Nations - Netherlands

Blake kept the fight going and taking many effective broadsides.
 in The Boy's Book of Battles