Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667)

Once again commercial rivalries led to conflict between England and Holland, provoked largely by the English, who attacked the West African bases of the Dutch slave trade in 1663, and captured New Amsterdam (now New York) in 1664. War was declared in May 1665 after the Dutch recaptured their West African bases and an attack by Michael de Ruyter on Barbaros. English prosecution of the war was weakened by two major disastors at home - the Great Plague (1665-6) and the Great Fire of London (2-9 September 1666).

Portrait of Cornelis Tromp by Abraham Willaerts
Portrait of Cornelis Tromp
by Abraham Willaerts

Fighting began with a Dutch attack led by Jacob Opdam with 100 ships against a 150 strong English convoy returning from Hamburg. The English countered with a much larger fleet (150 ships) under Prince James (The future James II) and at the battle of Lowestoft (3 June 1665), inflicted a severe defeat on the Dutch, who lost 30 ships and Opdam, who was killed in the fighting. The Dutch retreat was covered by Cornelis van Tromp, son of Maarten Tromp. Prince James failed to pursue the defeated Dutch and was replaced in command by Earl Edward Montague of Sandwich, who in August chased a Dutch convoy into Bergen harbour (Denmark), from where he was repulsed by the Danish shore batteries. In January 1666 France entered the war on the side of the Dutch, honouring a treaty with the Dutch.

This had an impact during the Four Days' Battle (1-4 June 1666), At the end of May, George Monck, commanding a fleet of 80 ships, sent Prince Rupert's 25 ship strong squadron away to intercept a French fleet mistakenly thought to be coming from the Mediterranean. De Ruyter, with 80 ships, took advantage of this to sail against Monck, who himself made the first attack (1 June). On 2 June, the Dutch were reinforced, and Monck started to pull back, but on 3 June Prince Rupert returned, and on 4 June a fierce battle ensued. The English lost 20 ships and retreated into the Thames estury. De Ruyter responded with a blockade of the Thames, which was broken by a refitted English fleet at the battle of the North Foreland (or St. James's Day), 25 July 1666, which then went on to destroy 160 Dutch merchantmen at anchor. Nearly a year of peace negotiations then followed (August 1666 to June 1667). Believing the war to be at an end, and under the impact of the plague and the great fire, Charles II moored the fleet and dismissed the crews, in order to save money, a gesture not followed by the Dutch, and in June 1667 de Ruyter launched a raid into the Medway, reaching as close as 20 miles from London, and causing huge amounts of damage on the river, after which the English made more serious efforts for peace, which resulted in the Treaty of Breda (21 July 1667), which was in general in favour of the Dutch, although did confirm English occupation of New Amsterdam.

Subject Index: Anglo-Dutch Wars

De Ruyter, Dutch Admiral, ed Jaap R. Bruijn, Ronald Prud'homme van Reine and Rolof van Hövell tot Westerflier. A collection of interesting essays written by Dutch historians and that examines different aspects of de Ruyter’s life and the wider world of the Dutch Republic. This is a valuable piece of work that helps explain the important of de Ruyter as a European figure (not just as a commander during the Anglo-Dutch Wars). [read full review]
Fireship: The Terror Weapon of the Age of Sail, Peter Kirsch. A lavishly illustrated look at one of the most feared weapons of the age of sail. This is a very impressive piece of work – well written and researched, wide ranging in scope and with detailed accounts of most of the key fireship attacks from the sixteenth century wars against Spain to the Greek War of Independence. An essential read for anyone interested in naval warfare in the age of sail. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (12 December 2000), Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667),

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