Dutch Wars

War of 1652–54

The 1652–54 war between the English and the Dutch marked a crisis in the long-standing rivalry between the two nations as leaders in world trade. The crisis was precipitated by English search and seizure of Dutch merchant ships in the course of an unofficial Anglo-Dutch maritime war and, secondarily, by the English Navigation Act of 1651, which was directed against Dutch trade with British possessions. Hostilities were opened (May, 1652) by a sea fight between the British and Dutch admirals, Robert Blake and Maarten Tromp. At the beginning of the war Blake broke up the Dutch herring fleet, while George Ayscue successfully waylaid Dutch ships in the English Channel. However, the victory of Tromp over Blake off Dungeness (Nov., 1652) gave the Dutch command of the Channel, and in Jan., 1653, a Dutch treaty with Denmark closed the Baltic to English trade. Meanwhile reforms were introduced into the British navy for greater efficiency, and generals Richard Deane and George Monck were associated with the naval command. Tromp's fleet was forced to retire after an engagement off Portland (Feb., 1653), and the English regained control of the Channel. After Blake's succeeding victory off Gabbard's Shoal (June, 1653) the British were able to blockade the Dutch coast. While Dutch trade was thus effectively cut off, England itself was approaching financial exhaustion. Negotiations were undertaken but failed. On July 31, 1653, Tromp attacked the blockading fleet; he was defeated and killed, but the English ships were forced to return home for refitting. Peace was finally signed in Apr., 1654. The Dutch agreed to salute the British flag in British seas, to pay compensation for English losses, and to submit territorial claims to arbitration.

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