Battle of the Downs, (Naval battle), 21 October 1639
Great Dutch naval victory over the Spanish during the Thirty Years War. A great Spanish Armada of 75 ships, containing 13,000 recruits bound for Flanders from Spain was intercepted by a much smaller Dutch fleet of 18 ships under Admiral Maarten Tromp. On 16 September the Dutch first attacked and forced the Spanish to withdraw. A second attack on 18 September by a now reinforced Dutch fleet forced the Spanish to flee into neutral English waters and seek shelter in the Downs roadstead. While a weak English squadron attempted to prevent any fighting, Tromp resupplied, and on 21 October launched an attack into neutral waters. English attempts at protecting the Spanish were ineffective, and Tromp inflicted a crushing defeat on the Spanish fleet. Seventy Spanish ships were sunk or captured. The battle destroyed what remained of Spanish naval power, seriously weakened their position in Flanders, and gave the Dutch undesputed naval supremacy. Despite ignoring English neutrality, Tromp was knighted by Charles I in 1642.
The Thirty Years War
, C.V.Wedgewood. Despite its age (first published in 1938), this is still one of the best english language narratives of this most complex of wars, tracing the intricate dance of diplomacy and combat that involved all of Europe in the fate of Germany.
How to cite this article:
Rickard, J. (23 January 2001), Battle of the Downs, (Naval battle), 21 October 1639, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_downs.html