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|Battle of Solebay|
|Part of the Third Anglo-Dutch War|
The Burning of the Royal James at the Battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672 by Willem van de Velde the Younger
|Commanders and leaders|
Michiel de Ruyter|
Willem Joseph van Ghent †
James, Duke of York|
Edward Montagu †
Jean II d'Estrées
61 ships of the line |
32 fire ships
22 smaller ships
80 ships of the line |
24 fire ships
28 smaller ships
|Casualties and losses|
1 ship destroyed |
1 ship captured
≈1600 sailors killed
4 ships destroyed |
≈2500 sailors killed
The battle began as an attempted raid on Solebay port where an English fleet was anchored and largely unprepared for battle. They were then surprised by a Dutch fleet. The battle prevented a planned allied naval invasion of the Dutch Republic and boosted the morale of the Dutch population.
A fleet of 75 warships, 20,738 men and 4,484 cannon of the United Provinces, commanded by Lieutenant-Admirals Michiel de Ruyter, Adriaen Banckert and Willem Joseph van Ghent, surprised a joint Anglo-French fleet of 93 warships (sources vary), 35,000-40,000 men and 6,158 cannon at anchor in Solebay (nowadays just Southwold bay), at Southwold in Suffolk, on the east coast of England. The Dutch had the weather gauge until their withdrawal.
The Duke of York and Vice-Admiral Comte Jean II d'Estrées planned to blockade the Dutch in their home ports and deny the North Sea to Dutch shipping. The Dutch had hoped to repeat the success of the Raid on the Medway and a frigate squadron under Van Ghent sailed up the Thames in May but discovered that Sheerness Fort was now too well prepared to pass. The Dutch main fleet came too late, mainly due to coordination problems between the five Dutch admiralties, to prevent a joining of the English and French fleets. It followed the Allied fleet to the north, which, unaware of this, put in at Solebay to refit. On 7 June the Allies were caught by surprise and got into disarray when the Dutch fleet, having the weather gauge, suddenly appeared on the horizon in the early morning. The French fleet, whether through accident or design, steered south followed by Banckert's fifteen ships and limited its action to long-distance fire.[a] Nevertheless, the Superbe was heavily damaged and des Rabesnières killed by fire from Enno Doedes Star's Groningen; total French casualties were about 450.
This left the Dutch vanguard and centre to fight it out with the English, and the latter were hard pressed, as they had great difficulty to beat upwind to bring ships out.[b] The Duke of York had to move his flag twice, finally to London, as his flagships Prince and St Michael were taken out of action. The Prince was crippled by De Ruyter's flagship De Zeven Provinciën in a two hours' duel. De Ruyter was accompanied by the representative of the States-General of the Netherlands, Cornelis de Witt (the brother of Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt) who bravely remained seated on the main deck, although half of his guard of honour standing next to him was killed or wounded.
Lieutenant-Admiral Aert Jansse van Nes on the Eendracht first duelled Vice-Admiral Edward Spragge on HMS London and then was attacked by HMS Royal Katherine. The latter ship was then so heavily damaged that Captain John Chichely struck her flag and was taken prisoner; the Dutch prize crew however got drunk on the brandy found and allowed the ship to be later recaptured by the English.
The flagship of Admiral Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, HMS Royal James, was first fiercely engaged by Lieutenant-Admiral Van Ghent, who in 1667 had executed the Raid on the Medway, on Dolfijn. Van Ghent was however killed by shrapnel. Then captain Jan van Brakel made his Groot Hollandia attack to the Royal James, incessantly pounding the hull of that ship for over an hour and bringing her into such a condition that Lord Sandwich considered to strike his flag but decided against it because it was beneath his honour to surrender to a mere captain of low birth. He then ordered sloops from other ships to board the Groot Hollandia; his upper deck soon swarming with Englishmen Van Brakel was forced to cut the lines and retreat between friendly vessels to drive the boarding teams off. The Royal James now drifted away, sinking, and was attacked by several fire ships. She sank two, but a third, Vrede, commanded by Jan Daniëlszoon van den Rijn, its approach shielded by Vice-Admiral Isaac Sweers's Oliphant, set her on fire. She burnt with great loss of life; Sandwich himself and his son-in-law Philip Carteret drowned trying to escape when his sloop collapsed under the weight of panicked sailors jumping in; his body washed ashore, only recognisable by the scorched clothing still showing the shield of the Order of the Garter.
During the battle the wind shifted, giving the English the weather gauge, and in the late afternoon the Dutch withdrew.
Losses were heavy on both sides: one Dutch ship, the Jozua, was destroyed and another, the Stavoren, captured, a third Dutch ship had an accident during repairs immediately after the battle and blew up. The battle ended inconclusively at sunset.
In a strategic sense, it can be seen as a Dutch victory as it deterred Anglo-French plans to blockade Dutch ports and land troops on the Dutch coast.[c] Tactically both sides sustained heavy damages; two English ships were sunk, including the fleet's flagship the ‘’Royal James’’, as well as two French ships sunk. The Dutch also lost two large ships, in addition to many fire ships.
The fleets met again at the Battle of Schooneveld in 1673.
Not all fireships are listed; there were about 24 of them on the Allied, 36 on the Dutch side.
England and France (The Duke of York and Albany)
|White Squadron (French)||Guns||Captain|
|Terrible||70||(Rear Admiral Abraham Duquesne)|
|Illustre||70||Marquis de Grancey|
|Conquérant||70||M. de Thivas|
|Admirable||68||M. de Beaulieu|
|Téméraire||50||M. de Larson|
|Prince||50||Charles Davy, Marquis d'Amfreville|
|Bourbon||50||M. de Kervin|
|Vaillant||50||Chevalier de Nesmond|
|Alcion||46||M. Bitaut de Beor|
|Hasardeux||38||M. de la Vigerie|
|Saint Phillippe||78||(Vice Admiral Jean II, Comte d'Estrées; cp. M. Pierre de Cou)|
|Foudroyant||70||M. Louis Gabaret|
|Tonnant||58||M. Des Ardents|
|Brave||54||Chevalier Jean-Baptiste de Valbelle|
|Duc||50||Chevalier de Sepville|
|Oriflamme||50||M. de Kerjean|
|Excellent||50||M. de Magnon|
|Eole||38||Chevalier de Cogolin|
|Arrogant||38||M. de Villeneuve-Ferriere|
|Superbe||70||(Chef d'escadre Des Rabesnières, killed in battle)|
|Invincible||70||Comodorre de Verdille|
|Sans-Pareil||66||M. de la Clocheterie|
|Fort||60||Comte de Benac|
|Sage||50||M. Anne Hilarion de Contentin, Comte de Tourville|
|Heureux||50||M. Francois Panetie|
|Rubis||46||M. de Saint Aubin d'Infreville|
|Galant||46||Chevalier de Flacourt|
|Hardi||38||M. de la Roque-Garseval|
|Red Squadron (English)||Guns||Captain|
|London||96||(Vice Admiral Edward Spragge)|
|Old James||70||John Haywood|
|Monck||60||Bernard Ludman, killed in battle|
|Royal Katherine||86||John Chicheley|
|Dreadnought||62||Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Torrington|
|Prince||100||(James Stuart, Duke of York and Albany, Lord High Admiral; First Captain John Cox, killed in battle, Second Captain John Narborough)|
|St Michael||96||Sir Robert Holmes|
|Victory||82||Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory|
|Cambridge||70||Frescheville Holles, killed in battle|
|York||64||Thomas Elliot, killed in battle|
|Phoenix||40||Richard Le Neve|
|Charles||96||(Rear Admiral Sir John Harman)|
|Revenge||62||John Hart Sr.|
|Anne||58||John Waterworth, killed in battle|
|Dover||48||Sir John Ernle (or Ernley)|
|Blue Squadron (English)||Guns||Captain|
|St Andrew||96||(Rear Admiral John Kempthorne)|
|French Ruby||80||Thomas R. Cole|
|St George||70||Jeffrey Pearce, killed in battle|
|Royal James||100||(Admiral Sir Edward Montagu, Earl of Sandwich (killed in battle); Captain Richard Haddock)|
|Henry||82||Francis Digby, killed in battle|
|Alice & Francis||26||George Yennes, killed in battle|
|Royal Sovereign||100||(Vice Admiral Sir Joseph Jordan)|
|Triumph||74||Willoughby Hannam, killed in battle|
|Plymouth||60||Sir Roger Strickland|
|Princesse||54||Sir Richard Munden|
|Mary Rose||48||William Davies|
The Netherlands (Michiel de Ruyter)
|Admiralty of Amsterdam||Guns||Captain|
|Akerboom||60||Jacob Teding van Berkhout|
|Jaersveld||48||Nicolaes de Boes|
|Stad Utrecht||66||Jan Davidszoon Bondt|
|Provincie van Utrecht||60||Jan Pauluszoon van Gelder|
|Dolphijn||82||Lt-Admiral Willem Joseph, Baron van Ghent (killed in battle), Flag-Cpt Michiel Kindt|
|Gouda||72||Schout-bij-Nacht Jan de Haan|
|Leeuwen||50||Jan Gijsels van Lier|
|Reigersbergen||72||Commodore Jacob van Meeuwen|
|Essen||50||Philips de Munnik|
|Deventer||60||Engel de Ruyter|
|Agatha||50||Pieter Corneliszoon de Sitter|
|Oosterwijk||60||Volckert Hendrikszoon Swart|
|Olifant||82||Vice-Admiral Isaac Sweers|
|Beschermer||50||David Swerius (Sweers)|
|Komeetstar||70||Hendrik van Tol|
|Kruiningen||56||Balthazar van de Voorde|
|Edam (frigate)||32||Jacob Willemszoon Broeder|
|Bommel (frigate)||24||Pieter Klaaszoon Dekker|
|Asperen (frigate)||30||Barent Hals|
|Damiaten (frigate)||34||Jan Janszoon de Jongh|
|Popkensburg (frigate)||24||Mattheus Megank|
|Haas (frigate)||24||Hendrik Titus, Graaf van Nassau|
|Overijssel (frigate)||30||Cornelis Tijloos|
|Postijljon (frigate)||24||Roemer Vlacq|
|Brak (frigate)||24||Cornelis van der Zaan|
|Egmond (advice yacht)||10||Jan Bogaart|
|Triton (advice yacht)||12||Huibert Geel|
|Kater (advice yacht)||8||Jan Kramer|
|Walvis (advice yacht)||12||Jan Klaaszoon van Oosthuys|
|Eenhoorn (advice yacht)||10||Jacob Stadtlander|
|Kat (advice yacht)||12||Abraham Taelman|
|Galei (advice yacht)||12||Marcus Willemszoon|
|Velsen (fireship)||?||Hendrick Hendricksen|
|Windhond (fireship)||?||Willem Willemsen|
|Beemster (fireship)||?||Hendrick Rosaeus|
|Sollenburg (fireship)||?||Jan Janssen Bout|
|Draak (fireship)||?||Pieter van Grootveldt|
|Leydtstar (fireship)||?||Sybrant Barentsen|
|St. Salvador (fireship)||?||Andries Randel|
|Sollenburgh (fireship)||?||Klaas Pietersen Schuit|
|Admiralty of de Maze (Rotterdam)||Guns||Captain|
|De Zeven Provinciën||80||fleet flag, Lt-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, 1st Lieutenant Gerard Callenburgh|
|Wassenaer||56||Philips van Almonde|
|Groot Hollandia||60||Jan van Brakel|
|Gelderland||64||Laurens Davidszoon van Convent|
|Zeelandia||44||Jan de Laucourt|
|Maagd van Dordrecht||68||Vice-Admiral Jan Evertszoon de Liefde|
|Reigersbergen||72||Jacob van Meeuwen|
|Eendracht||76||Lt-Admiral Aert Janszoon van Nes|
|Ridderschap van Holland||66||Schout-bij-Nacht Jan Janszoon van Nes|
|Utrecht (frigate)||36||François van Aarssen|
|Schiedam (frigate)||20||François van Nijdek|
|Harderwijk (frigate)||24||Mozes Wichmans|
|Faam (advice yacht)||12||Cornelis Jacobszoon van der Hoeven|
|Rotterdam (advice yacht)||5||Wijnand van Meurs|
|Gorinchem (fireship)||4||Dirk de Munnik|
|Vrede (fireship)||2||Jan Daniëlszoon van den Rijn|
|Swol (fireship)||?||Abraham Schryver|
|Eenhoorn (fireship)||?||Pieter Besançon|
|Admiralty of the Noorderkwartier||Guns||Captain|
|Wapen van Holland||44||Cornelis Jacobszoon de Boer|
|Jupiter||40||Jacob de Boer|
|Gelderland||56||Maarten Jacobszoon de Boer|
|Justina van Nassau||64||Jan Heck|
|Westfriesland||78||Johan Belgicus, Graaf van Hoorne|
|Wapen van Nassau||62||Peiter Kerseboom|
|Noorderkwartier||60||Jan Janszoon Maauw|
|Pacificatie||76||Vice-Admiral Volckert Schram|
|Drie Helden Davids||50||Claes Corneliszoon Valehen|
|Wapen van Medemblick||46||Hendrik Visscher|
|Wapen van Enkhuizen||72||Schout-bij-Nacht David Vlugh|
|Wapen van Hoorn||62||Claes Pieterszoon Wijnbergen|
|Helena Leonora (fireship)||?||Pieter Syvertsen Bokker|
|Admiralty of Zeeland||Guns||Captain|
|Walcheren||70||Lt-Admiral Adriaen Banckert|
|Kampveere||50||Adriaan van Cruiningen|
|Zierikzee||60||Vice-Admiral Cornelis Evertsen de Jonge|
|Zwanenburg||44||Cornelis Evertsen de Jongste|
|Oranje||70||Schout-bij-Nacht Jan Matthijszoon|
|Vlissingen||50||Salomon Le Sage|
|Visscher Harder (frigate)||26||Barent Martenszoon Boom|
|Delft (frigate)||34||Simon Loncke|
|Ter Goes (frigate)||34||Karel van der Putte|
|Bruinvisch (advice)||6||Cornelis Hollardt|
|Zeehond (advice)||?||Anteunis Matthijszoon|
|Zwaluw (advice)||6||Karel de Ritter|
|Middelburgh (fireship)||?||Willem Meerman|
|Prinsje (fireship)||?||Cornelis Ewout|
|Hoop (fireship)||?||Antony Janssen|
|Admiralty of Friesland||Guns||Captain|
|Elf Steden||54||Wytse Johannes Beyma|
|Prins Hendrik Casimir||70||Schout-bij-Nacht Hendrik Bruynsvelt|
|Westergo||56||Yde Hilkeszoon Kolaart|
|Groningen||70||Vice-Admiral Enno Doedes Star|
|Vredewold||60||Christiaan Ebelszoon Uma|
|Oostergo||62||Jan Janszoon Vijselaar|
|Windhond (frigate)||34||Joost Michelszoon Kuik|
|? (advice yacht)||?||snauw, Pieter Pauw|
In popular culture
- The battle is described in verse, as if in an eyewitness account seen from the coast at Dunwich, in the ballad "A Merry Song on the Duke's late glorious Success over the Dutch", which appears in print (apparently taken from a broadside ballad) in the Suffolk Garland of 1818.
- Leeds Central Library has a 50 ft (15m), step by step, pictorial record of the sea battle which dates from around 1910. It is based on contemporary parchments and also features scenes depicting the Battle of Texel. It forms part of the Gascoigne collection.
- The battle is described in the novel "An Affair of Dishonour" published in 1910 by William de Morgan who was also an artist in glass and ceramics. A wounded survivor becomes an important character in the story.
- The Battle of Solebay forms the historic background to children's adventure novel The Lion of Sole Bay, the fourth book in the Strong Winds series by Julia Jones
- The Adnams Brewery created a beer, named Broadside, in commemoration of the battle's tercentenary.
In his novel, “The Black Tulip”, Alexandre Dumas refers to the historical role of Cornelius de Witt in the battle. (Chapter 2, “The Two Brothers”)
- Mahan comments in defense of d'Estrées manoevre: "...both the English and Ruyter thought that the French rather avoided than sought close action. Had d'Estrées, however, gone about, and attempted to break through the line of experienced Dutchmen to windward of him with the still raw seamen of France, the result would have been as disastrous as that which overtook the Spanish admiral at the battle of St. Vincent a hundred and twenty-five years later, when he tried to reunite his broken fleet by breaking through the close order of Jervis and Nelson.
- Mahan comments: "The truth ... is that the Duke of York, though a fair seaman, and a brave man, was not an able one; that his fleet was not in good order and was thus surprised; that his orders beforehand were not so precise as to make the French admiral technically disobedient in taking the opposite tack from the commander-in-chief, and so separating the squadrons; and that Ruyter profited most ably by the surprise he had himself prepared, and by the further opportunity given him by the ineptness of his enemies."
- Admiral Mahan commented: "The substantial results of Solebay fight were wholly favorable to the Dutch. The allied fleets were to have assisted the operations of the French army by making a descent on the coast of Zealand. Ruyter's attack had inflicted an amount of damage, and caused an expenditure of ammunition, which postponed the sailing of the fleet for a month; it was a diversion, not only important, but vital in the nearly desperate condition to which the United Provinces were reduced ashore. It may be added, as an instructive comment on the theory of commerce-destroying, that after this staggering check to the enemy's superior forces, Ruyter met and convoyed safely to port a fleet of Dutch merchantmen".
- Hannay, David (5 September 2022). A Short History of the Royal Navy, 1217 to 1688.
- Firth, Robert (February 2013). Beat the Drum Slowly. eBookIt.com. ISBN 9781456608408.
- Grant, R. G. (3 May 2010). Battle at Sea 3000 Years of Naval Warfare. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 138. ISBN 9781405335058.
- Blok 1928, p. 321.
- Van Nimwegen 2020, p. 116.
- Blok 1928, p. 320.
- "Battle of SOLEBAY". Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2007.
- "Battle of Solebay". 14 March 2007. Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
- John A. Lynn, The Wars of Louis XIV: 1667-1714 (Longman Publishing: Harlow, England, 1999) p. 113.
- "Battle of Solebay, 7 June 1672". www.historyofwar.org. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
- "Southwold at War - The Battle of Sole Bay". www.southwoldmuseum.org. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
- Mahan, p. 147
- Mahan, pp. 147-148
- Mahan, pp.148-149
- J. Ford (ed.), The Suffolk Garland: or, A Collection of Poems, Songs, Tales, Ballads, Sonnets and Elegies (&c.) (John Raw, Ipswich/Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, London 1818), pp. 143-46 (Google).
- "Leeds: Step-by-step account of Battle of Solebay is unveiled". BBC News. 28 January 2023. Archived from the original on 28 January 2023. Retrieved 28 January 2023.
- William de Morgan, An Affair of Dishonour. Heinemann, London, 1910. Chapters 7 and 8.
- "The Lion of Sole Bay by Julia Jones" book review on The Bookbag website, viewed 2013-10-17
- "Adnams Broadside". Adnams.co.uk. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
- "Adnams Broadside (Bottle)". RateBeer.com. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
- Mahan, Alfred Thayer (1918). The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. Little, Brown. Retrieved 22 June 2023.
- Van Nimwegen, Olaf (2020). De Veertigjarige Oorlog 1672–1712: de strijd van de Nederlanders tegen de Zonnekoning [The 40 Years' War 1672–1712: the Dutch struggle against the Sun King] (in Dutch). Prometheus. ISBN 978-90-446-3871-4.
- Blok, P.J. (1928). Michiel de Ruyter (PDF) (in Dutch). Martinus Nijhof.
- The Battle of Solebay at ship-wrecks.co.uk
- Lynn, John A., The Wars of Louis XIV: 1667-1714 (Longman Publishing: Harlow, England, 1999).