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Eendracht and Royal Charles clash at the Battle of Lowestoft, 3 June 1665

Eendracht and Royal Charles clash at the Battle of Lowestoft, 3 June 1665


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Eendracht and Royal Charles clash at the Battle of Lowestoft, 3 June 1665

This sketch shows the clash between the Eendracht and the Royal Charles during the battle of Lowestoft of 3 June 1665. The Eendracht is the ship exploding in the centre of the picture, with the Royal Charles to the right.

Picture reproduced courtesy of Seaforth Publishing, and can be found in The Four Days Battle of 1666, Frank L. Fox


Sir Edward Spragge, (c. 1629–1673)

British admiral of the Restoration period. Born c. 1629, Edward Spragge was a son of the royalist governor of Roscommon Castle, Ireland. Prior to the Restoration, he had spent time as a slave in Algiers, may have served in Prince Rupert’s squadron in 1648–1653, and had captained a Dunkerque privateer. He entered the navy as captain of the Portland in 1661.

Spragge commanded the Lion at the 3 June 1665 Battle of Lowestoft and was knighted for his bravery. In May 1666 he was widely blamed for providing information, which turned out to be false, that a French fleet was about to enter the English Channel to combine with the Dutch and for the near disastrous division of the English fleet that followed.

Nevertheless, Spragge was captain of the Dreadnought in the resulting Four Days’ Battle and became vice admiral of the blue shortly afterward, serving as such in the St. James’s Day fight. He commanded a squadron of frigates and fireships as part of the desperate defense against the Dutch attack on the Medway in June 1667. He was identified as a potential scapegoat for the disaster—his Irish background led to unjustified charges of Catholicism—but he managed to deflect this criticism.

In 1669 Spragge became vice admiral of the fleet in the Mediterranean, rising to command it when Sir Thomas Allin went home in 1670. On 8 May 1671, he mounted a daring attack on Bugia Bay that led to the destruction of several Algerine vessels. As he was returning to England, he encountered in the English Channel a squadron commanded by his archrival, Sir Robert Holmes, and it was long believed that their jealousy led to a failure to combine forces for an attack on the Dutch Smyrna convoy. In fact, the two forces never communicated with each other at all.

Spragge was vice admiral of the red at the 28 May 1672 Battle of Solebay and subsequently became admiral of the blue. He served in the same post in 1673, but he was bitterly hostile to his commander, Prince Rupert, and in the critical 22 August Battle of the Texel, he deliberately backed his squadron’s sails, separating himself from the rest of the fleet, so he could fight a private battle with another old enemy, Admiral Cornelis Tromp.

In the middle of the action, while he was attempting to transfer his flag for the second time from a shattered flagship, Spragge’s boat was hit, and he drowned.

Anderson, R. C., ed. Journals and Narratives of the Third Dutch War. London: Navy Records Society, 1946.

Davies, J. D. Gentlemen and Tarpaulins: The Officers and Men of the Restoration Navy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Latham, Robert, and William Matthews, eds. The Diary of Samuel Pepys. 11 vols. London: Bell & Hyman, 1970–1983.


Dutch ship Eendracht (1655)

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The Eendracht or Eendragt ("Concord" - more precisely translated as "Unity") was the usual flagship of the confederate navy of the United Provinces (a precursor state of the Netherlands) between 1655 and 1665. Eendragt was the more common spelling in the 17th century Eendracht is the modern Dutch standard spelling.

Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp had for many years insisted on the construction of a new flagship to replace the Brederode, which was too lightly armed with only 56 guns. For reasons of cost and impracticality (Dutch home waters being very shallow) this was refused until the events of the First Anglo-Dutch War made it painfully clear that much heavier ships were needed. The Admiralty of de Maze based in Rotterdam (one of the five autonomous Dutch admiralties) therefore in 1652 laid the keel of a larger ship. In February 1653 it was decided that the cost was to be shared confederately by the seven provinces of the Netherlands. The project was on instigation of Cornelis de Witt moved to the wharf of Goossen Schacks van der Arent in Dordrecht under the supervision of shipwright Jan Salomonszoon van den Tempel who also had designed Brederode and the earlier flagship Aemilia.

Due to conflicts about cost, size and materials, Eendracht was only finished in January 1655 when the First Anglo-Dutch War had already ended and Tromp was dead. At first it was intended to name the then-58-gun ship Prins Willem after the infant son of the late stadtholder William II of Orange, but Johan de Witt, Grand Pensionary with the States of Holland, decided to rename the project after the main ideal of his domestic policy: the concord between all provinces and citizens, also expressed in the official motto of the Republic: Concordia res parvae crescunt, "Small things grow through concord". When he happened to be absent for a month the orangist faction changed the name back, but the States hurriedly reverted this when De Witt after his return merely expressed his amazement. Eendracht became the flagship of Tromp's successor Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam. She fought successfully in the Northern Wars, defeating the Swedish fleet in the Battle of the Sound on 8 November 1658. In the Battle of Lowestoft on 13 June 1665, the first battle of the Second Anglo-Dutch War, Eendracht, then armed with 73 guns, duelled the much heavier 80-gun English flagship Royal Charles. The Dutch chain shot killed a number of courtiers standing next to Lord High Admiral James Stuart on the English ship, but in the early afternoon Eendracht was hit in the powder room and exploded, killing Van Obdam. There were only five survivors out of the crew of 409.


Battle of Lowestoft

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Battle of Lowestoft, (13 June 1665). Early in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch navy suffered a bloody defeat in a savage battle fought off Lowestoft, eastern England. Yet this catastrophe only stirred the Dutch to greater efforts in the war, and the English failed to draw any lasting advantage from a hard-fought victory.

After the Battle of the Gabbard, the First Anglo-Dutch War had petered out without clear result. However, with the restoration of the English monarchy under Charles II in 1660, England soon resumed its harassment of Dutch merchant shipping and colonies, seizing New Amsterdam—later renamed New York—in 1664.

War was formally resumed in March 1665. Three months later, Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam was tasked with leading a large Dutch fleet to attack the English in their home waters. The resulting battle was fought in shifting winds that made it difficult for the English commander, James, Duke of York, to keep his ships in formation, and impossible for the Dutch, who were soon engaging as individual ships rather than a coherent fleet. With more than 200 ships and almost 10,000 cannon packed into a small area of sea, broadsides wrought carnage. The Duke of York narrowly escaped death when a cannonball decapitated a row of courtiers standing behind him. Van Wassenaer was less fortunate, killed when his flagship Eendracht exploded. After their admiral’s death, Dutch captains began to flee for home, some colliding in the general panic. The English launched fireships to finish off crippled Dutch vessels. Only Vice Admiral Cornelis Tromp had the nerve and authority to organize coherent action to cover the withdrawal. In the aftermath of defeat, the Dutch took vigorous steps to improve their naval command and build new warships.

Losses: Dutch, 8 ships destroyed and 9 captured of 103 English, 1 ship of 109.


Yes, this is the Battle near Lowestoft
(13 June continental calendar)

The Dutch had sighted the British fleet on 11 June (1 June Engl.cal.), but a windstill prevented them from attacking till the night of 12/13 June. The Dutch had 135 ships, the British 100. The Dutch had specific orders to try and capture ships rather than destroy them.

In a first "charge" the Dutch fleet cut clean through the English line, and one ship fell in Dutch hands (the Charity). After regrouping into opposing lines, a regular gunfight followed. Montague's squadron, in the centre of the line, then broke through the Dutch line and effectively cut the Dutch fleet in two. Part of the the Dutch line was now exposed to fire from both back and front. At that moment the Dutch Admiral Ship (the Eendracht) exploded (accident or direct hit in the powder room?), killing most of its crew, and the Dutch commander (Lt-Adm & General van Wassenaar-Obdam). Some Dutch vessels started to withdraw. Then Lt-Adm Egbert Meeuwsz Kortenaer was also killed, and his vessel withdrew from the line, followed by most of the other ships. It was an orderly retreat however, with a skillfully organized rearguard defence.

The battle was over. Most Dutch vessels remained intact and returned safely to Holland, but the British had won an important tactical victory (only tactical, as the enemy fleet was not destroyed or disabled).


The Battle of Lowestoft

Born in the Netherlands, Adriaen van Diest belonged to the first generation of marine artists to work in England after the tradition&rsquos founding by Willem van de Velde and his son. In this picture van Diest commemorates England&rsquos victory in the 1665 naval battle with the Netherlands, fought offshore of Lowestoft, on the North Sea coast of England&rsquos easternmost point. With the burning hull of the Dutch ship Eendracht visible in the right foreground, the carved and gilded English flagship Royal Charles dominates the scene, cannons blasting and sails billowing.

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The Shortening of Sail After the Battle of Lowestoft, 3 June 1665

To mark the 350th anniversary of the battle, I’ve been tweeting the key events at the appropriate times during the day. However, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the battle doesn’t lend itself readily to Twitter. After destroying the Dutch flagship during the day’s action – a brief description of which can be found here – the Duke of York’s fleet began to pursue the Dutch, who were in considerable confusion and lacked a proper command structure. During the night of 3-4 June, though, the fleet was ordered to shorten sail. Why this happened has always been something of a mystery. Here’s what I wrote in Pepys’s Navy I believe I’m right in saying that I was the first historian to find and cite Brouncker’s justification of his actions. After the references, I’ve added my fictional account from The Blast That Tears The Skies, as witnessed by the future admiral Edward Russell, serving as a volunteer on Matthew Quinton’s ship, but temporarily aboard the flagship Royal Charles after carrying despatches to the Duke of York. (In reality, Russell went to sea for the first time in the following year.)

The narrow escape of the heir to the throne may explain the strange failure to follow up the crushing victory of Lowestoft, and to turn it into a complete annihilation of Dutch maritime power. The British fleet shortened sail during the night, supposedly because a courtier on the flagship, Henry Brouncker, deluded the flag captain, John Harman, and the ship’s master, John Cox, into believing that he was relaying the (sleeping) duke’s orders to that effect. It was subsequently suggested by the Earl of Clarendon that Brouncker, ‘a disreputable friend (and alleged pimp) of James’, had promised Clarendon’s daughter, the duchess of York, that he would bring her husband home safely, or else that he acted unilaterally to preserve the life of the heir to the throne (and, by implication, his own, as satirists and politicians were quick to point out)[i]. The matter was investigated in Parliament in October 1667 and April 1668, when, with the finger of suspicion pointing firmly in his direction, Brouncker panicked and fled abroad[ii]. His ex post facto defence, written from Paris in June 1668, made no mention of the duchess, but accused Harman, Cox and the other witnesses of perjury and contradicting each other. Brouncker implied that he was merely passing on the duke’s order not to engage during the night, which was then misinterpreted by Harman and Cox as an order to shorten sail he also claimed that Cox did not sooner put on sail again because the night was so dark, and it was impossible to distinguish enemy and friendly lights[iii].

Regardless of Brouncker’s actions and subsequent justifications of them, it was clear that some ships on the British side would have found it difficult to mount a hot pursuit on the night of 3-4 June. Sandwich’s Royal Prince had to slow down to replace her main topsail, which had been ‘shot to pieces’, while the Bonadventure, which had spent almost all her powder and shot, had to lay by in the night to mend her rigging, ‘having every running rope in the ship shot, and [i.e. as well as] most of our main yard and bowsprit and spritsail yard’[iv]. Even so, none of this should have been sufficient to prevent a general chase being ordered. Up to a point, the failure to do so can be attributed to the clearly confused chain of command aboard the flagship and to Brouncker himself whether he was acting maliciously or inadvertently is effectively irrelevant. However, Brouncker’s suggestion that James, who must have been exhausted and in some degree of shock after his narrow escape, gave an ambiguous order and then expected his subordinates to second-guess his meaning is entirely in keeping with the duke’s personality and subsequent track record as an admiral (he did something similar at [the Battle of]Solebay [28 May 1672][v]) and as king. As it was, the fleet only returned to a ‘running posture’ at about 4 a.m. on 4 June, too late to prevent the more northerly remnant of the Dutch fleet, commanded by Tromp and Evertsen, getting through the Texel sea-gate at about noon[vi].

[i] J R Jones, The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century, 158.

[ii] J D Davies, Gentlemen and Tarpaulins: The Officers and Men of the Restoration Navy, 150, 156.

[iii] British Library, Additional MS 75,413, piece 9.

[iv] Sandwich Journal, Navy Record Society, 228 Lincolnshire Archives Office, MS Jarvis 9/1/A/1, log of Christopher Gunman.

[v] Journals and Narratives of the Third Dutch War, Navy Records Society, 175.

[vi] National Maritime Museum, WYN/13/6.

And now, from The Blast That Tears The Skies…

Beneath a brilliant orange dawn, the sea was empty. Of the Dutch fleet, there was no sign.

That could mean only one thing: they had got through the sea-gates. Somehow, we had let them get away.

I had been summoned to the quarterdeck in the middle of the night, at about two in the morning, when the great stern lanterns aboard the Royal Charles had flickered the signal that she was shortening sail. I had been in a dead sleep for perhaps three hours, far too little to be properly rested, and had sprung from my sea-bed forgetting my wounded foot, which screamed a reminder to me as it struck the deck. Thus I had limped onto the quarterdeck in a confused state, noted the action of the flagship, relayed its order to my own officers and thus to the hands aloft, who had promptly set about adjusting the clew-lines and the like, and had not really pondered its consequences before returning to my slumber. But when I returned to the deck at dawn, expecting the imminent resumption of the battle, I realised at once that all was wrong – beginning with the assumptions I had made in the middle of the night.

The Royal Charles might have ordered a shortening of sail because we were in danger of over-running the Dutch in the night. Well, not so,as was now all too evident.

The Royal Charles might have ordered a shortening of sail because our scouts had seen the Dutch do the same. Also not so, equally evidently.

The Royal Charles might have ordered a shortening of sail because the Dutch had already escaped within their sea-gates, and we were in danger of being blown onto their lee shore. Plainly not so, for we were still too far out to sea and with plenty of sea-room.

Thus either the Dutch fleet had been spirited away by their ally Beelzebub, or, rather more likely, something terribly wrong had happened aboard the Royal Charles.

I was fortunate to learn the truth before almost any other man in the fleet, for later that morning, as we despondently sighted the masts of the Dutch safe behind Texel, Cherry Cheeks Russell returned aboard the Merhonour and breathlessly recounted all he had seen and heard. Realising the importance of his evidence, I set him at once to write down his account, albeit in his execrable spelling.

Russell had stayed all night upon the quarterdeck (or, as he wrote it, ‘kwotadek’) of the Royal Charles, excited beyond measure by the sights and sounds around him – even by the spectacle of seamen scrubbing the deck clean of the blood of Lord Falmouth and the rest – and eager to catch sight of the Dutch by the first light of dawn. Thus he witnessed the arrival upon deck of Harry Brouncker, evidently intent upon conversation with Captain Cox, the sailing master, who had the watch.

‘New orders from His Royal Highness,’ said Brouncker officiously to Cox, ‘entrusted to me before he retired. He considers it too dangerous for the fleets to engage during the night, Captain, and wishes you to adjust your course accordingly.’

Cox, whom I knew as a capable and quick-witted man, looked at Brouncker suspiciously. ‘Adjust my course, Mister Brouncker? But if I adjust my course, every ship in the fleet has to adjust its own, dependent upon the signal from our lanterns.’ He looked up at the three huge structures at the stern, in each of which burned a fire that marked the flagship’s position by night.

‘That is what His Royal Highness means, Captain Cox. The fleet is not to engage by night.’

‘Then does he mean for us to shorten sail? Look at all the lights ahead of us, man. Some of them are our scouts, but most are the Dutch. We will be up with them well before dawn unless we shorten sail.’

Brouncker looked about him nervously, or so young Russell thought. ‘Well, then, Captain, that is what His Royal Highness means. The fleet to shorten sail.’

Cox stared steadily at him. ‘I’ll not order such a thing,’ he said. ‘I need to wake Captain Harman.’

He crossed the quarterdeck, knelt down and shook a bundle that lay between two culverins. The bluff, handsome John Harman, captain of the Royal Charles, stirred at once and got to his feet. His own cabin had been given over to Sir William Penn, but even so, Harman had an ample sea-bed awaiting him below although he wore his hair long and dressed as a cavalier, in times of drama, like many of the true old tarpaulins, he still preferred to sleep on deck under one of the sheets that gave its name to his kind.

In hurried whispers, half-overheard by Russell, Cox apprised Harman of the situation. The two men approached Brouncker, and Harman said, ‘To shorten sail, Mister Brouncker? But that risks allowing the Dutch to escape us. You are certain that this is the Duke’s intention?’

‘I have said so, upon my word,’ blustered Brouncker. ‘We must not engage in the night. The fleet to shorten sail, if that is what it takes.’

Cox was anxious. ‘Perhaps we should wake Sir William,’ he said.

Harman frowned. ‘We could attempt to wake Sir William, but I doubt if it would do us any good.’

Every man on the quarterdeck, indeed probably every man on the Royal Charles – including even young Cherry Cheeks Russell – knew full well that the only way in which the Great Captain Commander could obtain some relief from the gout by night, and thus some precious sleep, was by taking some of the more potent drugs in the surgeon’s chest and washing them down with prodigious quantities of the strongest drink on the ship. Thus waking Sir William Penn would be akin to dragging the dead out of their graves before the sounding of the Last Trump.

‘In that case,’ said Cox, ‘surely we should awaken His Royal Highness, to seek confirmation of his intentions?’

Russell saw Brouncker gesticulate angrily at Cox. ‘Damnation, man, do you doubt my word? My word as a gentleman? I have told you His Royal Highness’s order, sir!’

‘Nevertheless,’ said Harman, ‘it would be best to have the Duke’s confirmation –‘

‘And do you really think he will thank you, Captain Harman, if you wake him and he finds you have done so merely to confirm an order that he has already given through me? What will that do to your prospects of becoming Admiral Harman, do you think?’ That struck home by tradition, the captain of the fleet flagship had the first claim upon a vacant flag, and with Sansum dead, Harman’s path to promotion lay open, pending confirmation by the Duke of York.

Yet Cox and Harman clearly remained unconvinced. Russell overheard snatches of their conversation: they were worried by the proximity of the Dutch and the dangers of a night engagement, but equally alarmed at the prospect of slowing the fleet too much and allowing the Dutch to escape.

As the two officers debated, Cherry Cheeks watched Brouncker become increasingly agitated. At last he strode up to Cox and Harman and almost bellowed in their faces.

‘Think upon what you do here tonight!’ cried the red-faced courtier. ‘For all we know, the plague or a fanatic’s bullet might have carried away Charles Stuart this day, and the man sleeping beyond that bulkhead might at this very moment be King of England, by the Grace of God! Are you really prepared to deny the will of Majesty, Captain Cox? Captain Harman, are you?’

Cox and Harman exchanged one last, despairing glance. Then Harman said decisively, ‘Very well, then. Captain Cox, you will give the orders for the Royal Charles to shorten sail. I will see to the transmission of that order to the fleet. May God grant that we do the right thing.’


The War [ edit | edit source ]

1665 [ edit | edit source ]

The Battle of Lowestoft, June 13, 1665, showing HMS Royal Charles and the Eendracht.

The first encounter between the nations was, as in the First Anglo-Dutch War, at sea. Fighting began in earnest with the Battle of Lowestoft on 13 June, where the English gained a great victory it was the worst defeat of the Dutch Republic's navy in history. The English, though, were unable to capitalise on the victory. The leading Dutch politician, the Grand Pensionary of Holland Johan de Witt, quickly restored confidence by joining the fleet personally. Under de Witt, ineffective captains were removed and new tactics formalised. In August Michiel de Ruyter returned from America to a hero's welcome and was given supreme command of the confederate fleet. The Spice Fleet from the Dutch East Indies managed to return home safely after the Battle of Vågen, though at first blockaded at Bergen, causing the financial position of England to deteriorate. ⎠] :70 For every warship the English built during the conflict, the Dutch shipyards turned out seven.

In the summer of 1665 the bishop of Münster, Bernhard von Galen, an old enemy of the Dutch, was induced by promises of English subsidies to invade the Republic. At the same time, the English made overtures to Spain. Louis XIV, though obliged by a 1662 treaty to assist the Republic in a war with England, had postponed his aid on the pretence of wanting to negotiate a peace. Louis was now greatly alarmed by the attack by Münster and the prospect of an English–Spanish coalition. Intent on conquering the Spanish Netherlands, Louis feared that a collapse of the Republic could create a powerful Habsburg entity on his northern border, as the Habsburgs were the traditional allies of the German bishops. He immediately promised to send a French army corps, and French envoys—under the grand name of the célèbre ambassade—arrived in London to begin negotiations in earnest, threatening the wrath of the French monarch if the English failed to comply.

The attack on the Norwegian port of Bergen on Tuesday August 12th, 1665.

These events caused great consternation at the English court. It now seemed that the Republic would end up as either a Habsburg possession or a French protectorate. Either outcome would be disastrous for England's strategic position. Clarendon, always having warned about "this foolish war", was ordered to quickly make peace with the Dutch without French mediation. Downing used his Orangist contacts to induce the province of Overijssel, whose countryside had been ravaged by Galen's troops, to ask the States-General for a peace with England conceding—so the Orangists naively thought—to the main English demand that the young William III would be made Captain-General and Admiral-General of the Republic and ensured of the stadtholderate. The sudden return of De Witt from the fleet prevented the Orangists from seizing power. In November, the States-General promised Louis never to conclude a separate peace with England. On 11 December it openly declared that the only acceptable peace terms would be either a return to the Status quo ante bellum or a quick end to hostilities under a uti possidetis clausule.

1666 [ edit | edit source ]

In the winter of 1666 the Dutch created a strong anti-English alliance. On 26 January, Louis declared war. In February, Frederick III of Denmark did the same after having received a large sum. Then Brandenburg threatened to attack Münster from the east. Von Galen, the English subsidies having remained largely hypothetical, made peace with the Republic in April at Cleves. By the spring of 1666, the Dutch had rebuilt their fleet with much heavier ships — thirty of them possessing more cannon than any Dutch ship in early 1665 — and threatened to join with the French. ⎠] :71 Charles made a new peace offer in February, employing a French nobleman in Orange service, Henri Buat, as messenger. In it he vaguely promised to moderate his demands if the Dutch would only appoint William in some responsible function and pay £200,000 in "indemnities". De Witt considered it a mere feint to create dissension among the Dutch and between them and France. A new confrontation was inevitable.

The Royal Prince and other vessels at the Four Days Fight, 1𔃂 June 1666 (Abraham Storck) depicts a battle of the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In the foreground the Swiftsure with Berkeley sinks. On the right the grounded Prince Royal with admiral Ayscue surrenders by firing white smoke de Ruyter on the Zeven Provinciën accepts. In between the Royal Charles can just be seen with a broken mast

The result was the Four Days Battle, one of the longest naval engagements in history. Despite administrative and logistic difficulties, a fleet of eighty ships, under General at Sea George Monck, the Commonwealth veteran (after the Duke of Albemarle), set sail at the end of May 1666. Prince Rupert of the Rhine was then detached with twenty of these ships to intercept a French squadron on 29 May (Julian calendar), which had been thought to be passing through the English Channel, presumably to join the Dutch fleet. ⎠] :72 In fact, the French fleet was still largely in the Mediterranean.

Leaving the Downs, Albemarle came upon De Ruyter's fleet of 85 ships at anchor, and he immediately engaged the nearest Dutch ship before the rest of the fleet could come to its assistance. The Dutch rearguard under Lieutenant-Admiral Cornelis Tromp set upon a starboard tack, taking the battle toward the Flemish shoals, compelling Albemarle to turn about, to prevent being outflanked by the Dutch rear and centre, culminating in a ferocious unremitting battle that raged until nightfall. ⎠] :73 At daylight on 2 June, Albemarle's strength of operable vessels was reduced to 44 ships, but with these he renewed the battle tacking past the enemy four times in close action. With his fleet in too poor a condition to continue to challenge, he then retired towards the coast with the Dutch in pursuit.

The following day Albemarle ordered the damaged ships forward covering their return on the 3rd until Prince Rupert, returning with his twenty ships, joined him. ⎠] :74 During this stage of the battle, Vice-Admiral George Ayscue, on the grounded Prince Royal — one of the nine remaining "big ships" —, surrendered, the last time in history for an English admiral in battle. ⎠] :75 With the return of the fresh squadron under Prince Rupert the English now got more ships, yet the Dutch decided the battle on the fourth day, breaking the English line several times. When the English retreated, De Ruyter was reluctant to follow, perhaps because of lack of gunpowder. The battle ended with both sides claiming victory: the English because they contended Dutch Lieutenant Admiral Michiel de Ruyter had retreated first, the Dutch because they had inflicted much greater losses on the English, who lost ten ships against the Dutch four.

Engraving showing the St. James Day Fight August 4th, 1666 between English and Dutch Ships.

One more major sea battle would be fought in the conflict. The St. James's Day Battle on 4 and 5 August, ended in English victory but failed to decide the war as the Dutch fleet escaped certain annihilation. At this stage, simply surviving was sufficient for the Dutch, as the English could hardly afford even a victory. Tactically indifferent with the Dutch losing two ships and the English one, the battle would have enormous political implications. Cornelis Tromp, commanding the Dutch rear, had defeated his English counterpart, but was accused by De Ruyter of being responsible for the plight of the main body of the Dutch fleet by chasing the English rear squadron as far as the English coast. As Tromp was the champion of the Orange party, the conflict led to much party strife because of this on 13 August Tromp was fired by the States of Holland. Five days later Charles made another peace offer to De Witt, again using Buat as an intermediary. Among the letters given to the Grand Pensionary, by mistake was included one containing the secret English instructions to their contacts in the Orange party, outlining plans for an overthrow of the States regime. Buat was arrested his accomplices in the conspiracy fled the country to England, among them Tromp's brother-in-law Johan Kievit. De Witt now had proof of the collaborationist nature of the Orange movement and the major city regents distanced themselves from its cause. Buat was condemned for treason and beheaded.

The burning of West-Terschelling. (Holmes's Bonfire.) The tower on the right is the Brandaris lighthouse

The mood in the Republic now turned very belligerent, also because in August English vice-admiral Robert Holmes during his raid on the Vlie estuary in August 1666, destroyed about 130 merchantmen (Holmes's Bonfire) and sacked the island of Terschelling, setting the town of West-Terschelling aflame. In this he was assisted by a Dutch captain, Laurens Heemskerck, who had fled to England after having been condemned to death for cowardice shown during the Battle of Lowestoft.

After the Fire of London in September, the next peace offer by Charles came, again reducing his demands. Small "indemnities", the return of the nutmeg island of Pulau Run and a deal over India would suffice now no more mention was made of the position of William. The States-General simply referred to its declaration of 11 December 1665, no longer willing to make a slight concession that would allow Charles to withdraw from the war without losing face.

1667: Medway [ edit | edit source ]

Early 1667, the financial position of the English crown became desperate. The kingdom simply lacked the money to make the entire fleet seaworthy, so it was decided in February that the heavy ships would remain laid up at Chatham. Clarendon explained to Charles that he had but two options: either to make very substantial concessions to Parliament or to begin peace talks with the Dutch under their conditions. In March these were indeed started at Breda, in the southern Generality Lands, as negotiations in the provinces themselves would by the conventions of the day be considered a sign of inferiority for the Dutch. Charles, however, did not negotiate in good faith. He had already decided to turn to a third option: becoming a secret ally of France to obtain money and undermine the Dutch position. ⎠] :76 On 18 April he concluded his first secret treaty with Louis, stipulating that England would support a French conquest of the Spanish Netherlands. In May the French invaded, starting the War of Devolution Charles hoped, by procrastinating the talks at Breda, to gain enough time to ready his fleet in order to obtain concessions from the Dutch, using the French advance as leverage.

De Witt was aware of Charles's general intentions (though not of the secret treaty). He decided to end the war with one stroke. Ever since its actions in Denmark in 1659, involving many landings to liberate the Danish Isles, the Dutch navy had made a special study of amphibious operations. In 1665 the Dutch Marine Corps (then under the name of Regiment de Marine) had been created. De Witt personally had arranged for the planning of a landing of marines at Chatham. At both the Four Days' Battle and the St James's Day Fight a Dutch marine contingent had been ready to land in the Medway immediately following a possible Dutch victory at sea. Conditions had not allowed for this in either battle, however. But now there was no English fleet of any quality able to contest command of the North Sea. It lay effectively defenceless at Chatham and De Witt ordered it destroyed.

"Burning English ships" by Jan van Leyden. Shown are the events near Gillingham: in the middle Royal Charles is taken on the right Pro Patria and Schiedam set Matthias and Charles V alight

In June, De Ruyter, with Cornelis de Witt supervising, launched the Dutch "Raid on the Medway" at the mouth of the River Thames. After capturing the fort at Sheerness, the Dutch fleet went on to break through the massive chain protecting the entrance to the Medway and, on the 13th, attacked the laid up English fleet. The daring raid remains England's greatest naval disaster. ⎦] Fifteen of the Navy’s remaining ships were destroyed, either by the Dutch or by being scuttled by the English to block the river. Three of the eight remaining "big ships" were burnt: the Royal Oak, the new Loyal London and the Royal James. The largest, the English flagship HMS Royal Charles, was abandoned by its skeleton crew, captured without a shot being fired, and towed back to the Netherlands as a trophy. Its coat of arms is now on display in the Rijksmuseum. Fortunately for the English, the Dutch marines spared the Chatham Dockyard, England's largest industrial complex a land attack on the docks themselves would have set back English naval power for a generation. ⎠] :77 A Dutch attack on the English anchorage at Harwich had to be abandoned however after a Dutch attempt made on Fort Landguard ended in failure.

The Dutch success made a major psychological impact throughout England, with London feeling especially vulnerable just a year after the Great Fire (which was generally interpreted in the Dutch Republic as divine retribution for Holmes's Bonfire). This, together with the cost of the war, of the Great Plague and the extravagant spending of Charles's court, produced a rebellious atmosphere in London. Clarendon ordered the English envoys at Breda to sign a peace quickly, as Charles feared an open revolt.


Product images of The Battle of Lowestoft, 3-13 June 1665


The Dutch fleet before the disastrous battle at Lowestoft on 13 June 1665

The list below included the ships which were part of the Dutch fleet which departed from Texel to sea 23 and 24 May 1665. The battle with the British fleet commanded by James Stuart, Duke of York, found place on 13 June. Both countries were at that moment involved in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The British fleet lost just one ship, the Dutch on the other hand seventeen ships with 2,000-2,500 men killed and about 2,000 taken prisoner of war. The Dutch supreme commander Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam was killed. The war ended in fact with the famous Dutch raid on the Medway when a Dutch fleet commanded by De Ruyter attacked the laid up British fleet, destroying several British ships of the line and taken the HMS flagship Royal Charles as prize to the Netherlands.

Commanding officer, ship number of guns, number of crewmembers

1st Squadron with the pennant at the mainmast.
Heer van Wassenaer Obdam, admiral, Eendracht (1), 76, 409
Abraham van der Hulst, vice-admiral, Amsterdam (2), 68, 290
Albert Claessen Graeff, rear-admiral, Tijdverdrijff (3), 58, 258
captain Jacob Swart Groningen (4), 58, 255
captain Jan van Amstel Vrijheijt (5), 56, 254
captain Hugo van Nieuhoff, Lantman (6), 48, 200
captain Hendrick Gotskens, Vrede (7), 48, 205
captain Otto van Treslong, Gouda (8), 48, 205
captain Jacob Wms. Broeder, Den Dom (9), 48, 195
captain Jacob Wiltschut, Harderwyck (10), 46, 200
captain Adam van Brederode, Haerlem (11), 46, 180
captain Balthazar van de Voorde, Zeelandia (12), 38, 151
captain Herman Egbertsen Wolff, Star (13), 36, 144
captain De Reus (E.I.C.), Ma[a]rsseveen (14), 78, 330
captain Polanen (E.I.C.), yacht Brack (15), 18, 75
Totally 770 guns and 3.351 men
2 fireships
2 galliots

2nd Squadron commanded by lieutenant-admiral Johan Evertsen, with the pennant from the fore topmast
lt-adm Johan Evertsen, Hoff van Zeeland (16), 58, 373
Jan de Lieffde, vice-admiral, Cleyn Hollandia (17), 57, 264
Cornelis Evertsen de Jonge, rear-admiral, Utrecht (18), 50, 236
captain Jacob Pense, Middelburgh (19), 46, 210
captain Marinus de Clerq, Prins Maurits (20), 53, 201
captain Sijmon Blocq, Zeelandia (21), 34, 174
captain Adriaen Solderwagen, Schiedam (22), 25, 95
captain Bastiaen Censen (E.I.C.), Orangie (23), 76, 383
captain Jacob Cleydyck, Dordrecht (24), 46, 208
captain Christiaen Eldertsen, Utrecht (25), 36, 163
captain Jan Crynssen, Schakerloo (26), 29, 125
captain Jan Banckert, Delff (Delft) (27), 34, 181
captain Jacob van Boshuisen, Dellf (28), 36, 150
captain Bastiaen Tuyneman, Wapen van Zeelant (29), 36, 178
captain Pieter Wynbergen, yacht Loopende Hart (30), 8, 26
captain Jan Pietersen Tant, aviso Dieshouk (31), 6, 20
Totally 630 guns and 2.927 men
2 fireships
2 galliots

3rd Squadron commanded by lieutenant-admiral Cortenaer
lt.adm. Cortenaer, Groot Hollandia (32), 68, 350
Dirck Schey, vice-admiral, Oosterwyck(33), 68, 290
captain Nicolaes Marrevelt, rear-admiral, Staveren(34), 48, 200
captain Ysbrandt de Vries, Doesburgh(35), 48, 200
captain Albert Mathysen, Hilversum(36), 58, 258
captain Joost Verschuyr, Zuy[d]erhuys (37), 50, 214
captain Cornelis van Hogenhoeck, Provinciën (38), 48, 205
captain Hendrick van Tholl, Duyvenvoorde(39), 48, 205
captain Anthony de Marne, Boey (40), 48, 205
captain Gerbrant Boes, Goes (41), 46, 185
captain Lieuwe van Hassevelt, Harderinne (42), 38, 148
captain Johannes van der Mars, Maeght (43), 38, 146
captain Jan van Blanckenburch, Overyssel (44), 36, 116a
captain Jeuriaen Jeuriaens Poel (E.I.C.), Delfflandt (45), 70, 340
captain Apolonia Polen (E.I.C.), Spehra Mundi (46), 41, 200
Totally 753 guns and 3.262 menb
1 fireship
1 galliot

4th Squadron commanded by lieutenant-admiral Stellingwerff, with yellow wings
lt.adm. Stellingwerff, Zevenwolden (47), 58, 53
Coenders, vice-admiral, Groningen (48), 40, 199
Bruynsvelt, rear-admiral, Princes Albertine (49), 52, 248
captain Tjerk Hiddes, Elf Steden (50), 54, 253
captain Jan Janssen Vyselaer, Westergoo (51), 52, 236
captain Cornelis Allertse Oostrum, Omlandia (52), 44, 205
captain Beyma, Frisia (53), 40, 205
captain Barent Hiddes, Postillon van Smyrna (54), 40, 205
captain Joost Michielsen, Hollandia (55), 40, 186c
captain Boer, Oostergoo (56), 68, 289
captain Jacob Pieters, Phesant (57), 38, 150
captain Willem Codde van der Burgh, Ylst (58), 36, 121
capt Cornelis Crynssen de Rechter (E.I.C.), Huis te Swieten (59), 70, 300
captain Katt (E.I.C.), Mars (60), 50, 200
captain Vogel (E.I.C.), yacht De Ruyter (61), 18, 65
Totally 700 guns and 3115 mend
1 fireship
2 galliots

5th Squadron commanded by vice-admiral Tromp, with red wings with a white line
Tromp, vice-admiral, Liefde (62), 70, 340
captain Gilles Thyssen Campen, vice admiral, Coevorden (63), 56, 365
captain Pieter Salomonse, rear-admiral, Campen (64), 48, 205
captain Adriaen van Rheede, Tromp (65), 48, 205
captain Jan de Haen, Stad en Lande (66), 56, 265
captain Thomas Fabritius, Jaersvelt (67), 48, 200
captain Jan Adelaer, Raethuys (68), 48, 200
captain Pieter Uyttenhout, Groningen (69), 48, 200
captain Kommer Gerritse, Luypart (70), 58, 280
captain Hendrick van Vollenhove, Son (71), 48, 195
captain Cornelis Gerritse Burger, Bul (72), 38, 140
captain Joosten Smient, Roos (73), 38, 140
captain Hendrick Haeckroy, Villanovan (74), 30, 110
captain Laurens Bruyn, yacht Fortuin (75), 16, 61
captain Jan Pieterse Onclaer (E.I.C.), Nieu[w] Batavia (76), 50, 206
captain Berckhout, Princes Roijael, 40, 196
captain Adriaen van Veen, Asperen (77), 36, 108d
Totally 774 guns and 3.316 menf
1 fireship
1 galliot

6th Squadron commanded by vice-admiral Cornelis Evertsen, with white wings with a red line)
Cornelis Evertsen, vice-admiral, Vlissingen (78), 46, 241
rear-admiral Adriaen Banckert, vice admiral, Vere (79), 46, 226
captain Pieter Bronsaert, rear admiral, Drie Helden Davids, 46, 200
captain Adriaen de Hase, Dordrecht (80), 46, 150
captain Cryn Cerckhoven, Rotterdam (81), 46, 202
captain Laurens Heemskercke, Vrede (82), 40, 156
captain Jan Adriaenssen Blanckert (g), Visschers Herder (83), 26, 105
captain Jan Willem Marinissen, Zeeridder (84), 34, 154
captain Jacob Oudart, Utrecht (85), 48, 200
captain Frans Niedeck, Briel (86), 21, 86
captain Marinus Loncke, Westcappel, 24, 119
captain Jacob van Dam, not mentioned (87), 36, 158
captain Jacob Symonssen de Witt, Swoll (88), 20, 68
captain Adriaen van Cruyningen, Goes (89), 30, 140
captain Willem Hendricxen, ketch Zoutelande (90), 4, 18
captain Andries Pietersen, aviso Hasewinthont (91), 3, 12
Totally520 guns and 2.235 men
2 fireships
2 galliots

7th Squadron commanded by vice-admiral Schram, with blauwe vleugels met een gele streep (blue wings with a yellow line)
Schram, vice-admiral, Wapen van Nassau (92), 60, 300
rear-admiral Stachouwer, vice-admiral, Eendracht (93), 44, 239
captain Houttuyn, rear-admiral, Wapen van Medenblick (94), 46, 238
captain De Boer, Gelderland (95), 56, 264
captain Halffhoorn, Jonge Prins (96), 36, 134
captain Slordt, Josua (97), 50, 260
captain Bruynings, Westvrieslandt (98), 50, 260
captain Victol, Eenhoorn (99), 30, 150
captain Beberen, Hollantsche Thuyn (100), 56, 237
captain Huysman, Jupiter (101), 44, 222
captain Hen, yacht Hoorn (102), 30, 54
captain Boos, Casteel van Medenblick (103), 30, 149
captain not named (E.I.C.), Carolus Quintus (104), 54, 200d
captain Boon (E.I.C.), Nagelboom (105), 52, 213
captain Cornelis Muts (E.I.C.), Beurs (106), 32, 105
captain Gerrit Claessen Posthoorn (E.I.C.), Agatha (107), 32, 105
Totally 722 and 3.350 men
2 fireships
2 galliots

Off Texel and the Vlieter stayed behind:
From the admiralty of Amsterdam
Ship, number of guns, should have men, in fact on board
Groten herder (108), 38, 140, 110
Cleinen herder (109), 36, 140, 85
Leyden (110), 36, 140, 116
Zutphen (111), 36, 140, 72
Popkensburg, yacht, 24, 100, off the Vlieter
Katt, yacht, 18, 70, 57

From the admiralty of the Noorderkwartier
Munninck (112), 30, 140, 29

From the admiralty of Friesland
Stad en lande (113), 50, 233, 233. Grounded but now taken on board stores, guns and so on.
Sint Pieter (114), 40, 208, 208. Lacking some stores

From the E.I.C.-chamber Amsterdam
Hollantsche Thuyn (115), 48, 200
Geldersche Ruyter (116), 46, 200
Hoop (117), 40, 200
Sint Anna (118), 30, 110

From the E.I.C.-chamber of Zealand
Vlasblom (119), 46, 200
St. Paulo (120), 40, 200
Above mentioned six E.I.C. ships were lying off the Vlieter

From the E.I.C.-chamber Enkhuizen
St. Paulo (121), 44, 200, 139
totally 4869 guns and 21556 menh

List of the admiralty of Amsterdam dated 31 March 1665:
fireships
Willem de Blijde, Leeuw, 20 men
R. Pieterss, Fortuin, 20 men
Jacob Philipsen, Sint Joris, 20 men
Hendrick Dirxe Bochoven, Greffion, 8 men

List of the admiralty of the Maze dated 16 March 1665:
fireships
Cornelis Pieter Wouters Wijnbergen, Swaen, 14 men
Cornelis Willem Boudewijns van Dijck, Coningh David, 14 men

Original notes from De Jonge:
a. Other list 140 men.
b. In list 3286 men.
c. Other list 205 men.
d. In list 3134 men.
e. other list 140 men
f. same list 3348 men.
g. In both lists written as Banckert, should be Blanckert. Nowadays written as Banckert.
h. Other list 21.631 men.

I translated the word ‘adviesjacht’ as aviso in stead off advice yacht.



Comments:

  1. Aristid

    I can wait for a better quality

  2. Raynor

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  3. Zulkisar

    There is something in this. Thanks for the information, maybe I can help you with something too?

  4. Vizahn

    I shall simply keep silent better



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