Third Anglo-Dutch War
The Third Anglo-Dutch War or the Third Dutch War (Dutch: Derde Engelse Zeeoorlog) was a military conflict between the Kingdom of England and the Dutch Republic that lasted from 7 April 1672 to 19 February 1674. It was part of the Franco-Dutch War between the Dutch Republic and her allies—the Quadruple Alliance—and France.
In comparison to First and Second Anglo-Dutch War, political reasons were more important as causes for this war than economic ones. In 1667, Charles II of England had been humiliated by the Dutch Raid on the Medway, and in 1668, Louis XIV of France had been offended by the Dutch preventing his conquest of the Spanish Netherlands through the Triple Alliance. In 1670, the two kings concluded the Secret Treaty of Dover, intending to destroy the Dutch Republic. This outcome seemed achievable as the Dutch land army was weak and, although their navy was strong, the combined English and French fleets outnumbered it. The prospect of war was unpopular in England, so Charles had difficulty obtaining the necessary money. He relied on secret French subsidies, deceiving Parliament and refusing to pay the Crown debts and fabricated diplomatic incidents to justify a conflict.
The French offensive in May and June 1672 was very successful. They quickly advanced to the north, causing the collapse of the weak eastern border defences of the Republic. An attempt to blockade the Dutch coast failed because Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter surprised and heavily damaged the Anglo-French fleet in the Battle of Solebay. When French troops penetrated into the heart of the Republic, the Dutch asked for peace terms. Riots brought down Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt and William III of Orange was appointed stadtholder. William was Charles's nephew, so the king attempted to make the province of Holland an English protectorate rump state with William as its monarch. To his surprise, the Prince of Orange refused the English demands to occupy strategic ports. Negotiations were protracted, allowing the Dutch to flood a water barrier blocking further French advance.
In 1673, the Royal Navy again joined a French squadron, trying to defeat the Dutch fleet and invade the Republic from the sea. This was prevented by three strategic victories by De Ruyter. Meanwhile, several German states had become worried by the French conquests and with Dutch subsidies began to operate large armies on the Rhine. Louis was forced to retreat from most of the territory of the Republic. He prepared a conquest of the Spanish Netherlands which would be harmful to English interests. William launched a propaganda campaign convincing the English people that the alliance with France was part of a plot to make their country Roman Catholic. Anti-Catholic sentiment and the prospect that the Parliament of England would refuse a war budget, forced Charles to abandon the costly and fruitless war. The Second Peace of Westminster largely confirmed the situation as it was before the war. The larger conflict between the Republic and France would be protracted until 1678.
The 1652-1654 First Anglo-Dutch War was the result of commercial rivalry and Orangist support for the exiled Charles II, uncle of William of Orange. Peace terms agreed in 1654 with the English Protectorate included the permanent exclusion of the House of Orange-Nassau from public office, ensuring Republican political control. When Charles regained the English throne in 1660, his Orangist links meant Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt opposed negotiations for an Anglo-Dutch alliance; after these broke down, he agreed a treaty of assistance with Louis XIV in 1662.
Using France as a barrier against England and the Orangists also had risks, since despite their alliance against Spain, French objectives in the Low Countries threatened Dutch commercial interests. The 1648 Peace of Münster permanently closed the Scheldt estuary, benefiting De Witt's power base of Amsterdam by eliminating their closest rival, Antwerp; ensuring it remained shut was a vital objective. Changes in this region also concerned England, since control of ports on the North Flemish coast allowed a hostile power to blockade the Channel.
In 1665, an attack by the Duke of York on the West-Indische Compagnie led to the Second Anglo-Dutch War; in the first 18 months, the Dutch suffered a serious naval defeat at Lowestoft, an invasion by Münster and an attempted Orangist coup, both financed by England. The prospect of an English victory led Louis to activate the 1662 treaty, although the Dutch considered the support provided inadequate. When the States of Holland blocked his requests for territorial compensation, Louis launched the War of Devolution in May 1667 and rapidly occupied much of the Spanish Netherlands and Franche-Comté.
Charles refused to recall Parliament to obtain funding, obliging him to pay off his fleet in early 1667, leading to the humiliating Raid on the Medway. The Dutch were more worried by French gains; they quickly negotiated an end to the war in July 1667, then started talks in London on a shared approach for reversing them. Sensing an opportunity, Charles proposed an Anglo-French agreement to Louis, who, however, was unwilling to pay the subsidies he demanded and preferred to rely on De Witt.
Charles sent envoys to The Hague to continue discussions, publicly supported by De Witt, both seeing it as a way to put pressure on Louis. French tariffs on imports imposed in early 1667 increased opposition in the States General, who in any case preferred a weak Spain as a neighbour to a strong France. On 23 January 1668, the Republic, England and Sweden signed the Triple Alliance, committing to mutual support in the event of an attack on one by France or Spain. A secret clause agreed to provide Spain military assistance if France continued the war.
Louis returned most of his acquisitions in the 1668 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, although he retained towns like Charleroi and Tournai. As Dutch and French aims in the Spanish Netherlands could not be reconciled, it made sense to eliminate the Dutch Republic first. Detaching Sweden from the Triple Alliance was straightforward, since the subsidies promised by the Dutch remained unpaid; the next target was England. In June 1670 the Secret Treaty of Dover was negotiated between Louis and Charles using his sister Henrietta of Orléans; very few English statesmen were aware of its provisions. While it is generally accepted that Charles wanted financial independence from Parliament, his motives remain obscure even today.
The terms agreed to an Anglo-French military alliance against the Republic, creation of a state for his nephew William and a British brigade for the French army. In December 1670, a public treaty of Dover was signed which omitted the more controversial articles of the real version. Apart from the war pact, secret clauses not revealed until 1771 included payment to Charles of £230,000 per year for the brigade, £1 million for the navy and £200,000 for his public conversion to Catholicism, payable in advance. Significantly, the timing of the announcement was up to Charles, with a declaration of war 'no more than six months later'; this gave him an informal, open-ended agreement with France, while preserving the Triple Alliance. Aware of French negotiations with the Dutch over dividing the Spanish Netherlands, Charles demanded Walcheren, Cadzand and Sluys, whose possession would give him control of Dutch sea routes.
Despite the recent war, tensions between England and the Republic significantly diminished after 1667 and there was minimal support for a French alliance against them. The exchange of New York for the spice island of Run settled two major areas of dispute, both were concerned by French aims in the Low Countries, and English merchants were also affected by French tariffs. Most Dutch and English politicians considered the Triple Alliance an essential protection against French expansion; in early 1671, Parliament specifically allocated money to ensure the Royal Navy could fulfil its obligations under the treaty.
Louis instructed his ambassador in the Hague to continue negotiations with De Witt as a delaying tactic, while he finalised invasion plans. Since Dutch defences were concentrated along the border with the Spanish Netherlands, Louis agreed an alliance with Electoral Cologne, allowing his army to use the Principality of Liège (see Map). It also complied with an undertaking to Emperor Leopold I not to use the Spanish Netherlands as an invasion route. In April 1672, France paid Sweden subsidies to remain neutral, while also promising military support if 'threatened' by Brandenburg-Prussia; this offset an agreement of 6 May between the Republic and Frederick William, whose territories included the Duchy of Cleves on their eastern border.
Hoping to gain English support, on 25 February 1672 the States General appointed 22-year old William Captain-General of the federal army, an authorised total of 83,000 men. Uncertainty over French strategy meant most of these were based in the wrong place, while actual numbers were very different; on 12 June, one commander reported his official garrison of eighteen companies only had enough men for four.
The Republic was better prepared for a naval war, although to avoid provoking the English, on 4 February the States General reduced the naval budget from 7.9 million to 4.8 million guilders. After the 1667 Medway raid, their navy was the largest in Europe; by 1672, the combined Anglo-French fleet outnumbered them by over a third. However, the French were inexperienced, their ships badly designed and co-operation with the English plagued by suspicion. While Dutch numbers were further reduced by Friesland retaining ships for defence against Münster, better training gave them operational equality.
In the battles of 1666, the Dutch were hampered by lack of familiarity with their new, much heavier, warships, the complex federal command system and conflict between Michiel de Ruyter and Cornelis Tromp. By 1672, these had been corrected, and De Ruyter's intensive training of his fleet in line-of-battle manoeuvres installed a new sense of coherence and discipline.
Dutch ships were generally better gun platforms, whose shallow draft suited operations close to shore but were slow and less effective in open seas. Their maritime power was past its peak by the time of the Peace of Nijmegen in 1678: it had substantially declined in the preceding four years under the continuing stress of the Franco-Dutch and Scanian Wars which had prevented it strengthening its fleet, and because of qualitative improvements among its rivals.
England provided two-thirds of an Anglo-French fleet of 98 'great ships and frigates', whose role was to gain control of Dutch waters, land an expeditionary force and attack its shipping. Parliament generally approved naval expenditure, seen as protecting English trade, but refused to fund land forces. The British brigade was largely composed of Dumbarton's, a mercenary unit in French service since 1631, and very few members saw service before the war ended.
Opposition forced Charles to seek other sources of finance; in January 1672, he suspended repayment of Crown debts, which produced £1.3 million but had disastrous economic effects. Many London merchants were ruined and it shut off the short-term financing essential to international trade. Shortly before the declaration of war, in late March he ordered an attack on a Dutch Levant Company convoy in the Channel, which was beaten off by its escort under Cornelis Evertsen the Youngest.
Charles and his ministers appreciated that an unprovoked war against the Protestant Netherlands an alliance with Catholic France would probably be unpopular, and that the Stop of the Exchequer of 2 January 1672 would make financiers in the City of London cautious about providing funds to the government to prosecute such a war. It was partly to increase the government's popularity among Nonconformist merchants he issued Declaration of Indulgence in 15 March. In the event, the Declaration of Indulgence, which removed restrictions on Catholics as well as Nonconformists, did little to decrease hostility to the French alliance. This increased when Charles appointed his Catholic, pro-French brother James was naval commander, in place of his Protestant, anti-French uncle, Prince Rupert. Not only were merchants and Nonconformists unenthusiastic about the prospect of war, but the Royal Navy found it difficult to recruit sufficient sailors to fully man the fleet.
His chief minister, Lord Arlington, was instructed to "break with (the Dutch), yet to lay the breach at their door". This was done using manufactured incidents, including the Merlin affair, which took place near Brill in August 1671. The royal yacht Merlin was ordered to sail through the Dutch fleet, who duly struck their flag in salute, but failed to fire white smoke, an honour afforded only to warships. A formal complaint to the States General was dismissed and few in England were even aware of the incident; its use as a pretext, combined with the attack on the Dutch convoy, led some English politicians to declare the conflict 'unjust'. France declared war on 6 April, followed by England on 7 April.[a]
The war in 1672
French success: May to June
The speed with which the Republic was over-run in 1672 means it is still referred to as the Rampjaar or 'Year of disaster'. On 7 May, a French army of around 80,000 entered Liège; accompanied by Louis, they bypassed the Dutch stronghold of Maastricht, crossed the Meuse and besieged the Dutch-held Rhine fortress towns of Rheinberg, Orsoy, Buderich and Wesel. The last of these surrendered on 9 June, while troops from Münster and Cologne simultaneously entered the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland.
On 12 June, the French crossed the Lower Rhine into the Betuwe near Schenkenschans and, recrossing the Lower Rhine to outflank the IJssel Line, occupied Arnhem on 16 June. William's troops, in danger of being cut off from the core province of Holland, retreated through Utrecht behind the Holland Water Line, the inundations being released on 22 June. Here the French advance stopped, although the line was not continuous and the Dutch had insufficient men to hold it.
Despite withdrawing its troops from the federal army, on 5 July the States of Overijssel surrendered to Bernhard von Galen, Prince-Bishop of Münster. He then occupied Drenthe, before reaching Groningen; flooding prevented a proper siege and his troops were soon starving.
The attack on the Smyrna Fleet led to the States General increasing the naval budget by 2.2 million guilders on 28 March, expanding the active fleet from forty-eight to sixty vessels and ordering the construction of thirty-six new vessels. The Dutch fleet was considerably smaller than the combined Anglo-French fleet and De Ruyter initially withdrew into shoal waters near the Netherlands coast to await an opportunity to attack it successfully. Needing a success, De Witt ordered De Ruyter to attack the Allied fleet, accompanied by his brother Cornelis de Witt, to ensure the administration received credit for any victory. When the combined Anglo-French fleet retired to Solebay near Southwold, Norfolk to replenish its water and provisions, De Ruyter took advantage of its disorder to make a surprise attack in it at the Battle of Solebay.
The Duke of York led the English main and rear squadrons northwards against the main Dutch fleet but his French colleague d'Estrées, who either misunderstood the Duke's intentions or deliberately ignored them, took his van squadron southwards. There 30 French ships fought a separate encounter, engaging only in long-range fire with the 10 major and five small Dutch ships from the Admiralty of Zeeland, commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Banckert. D'Estrées was condemned, both by English, and some of his own, officers for steering away from the Dutch and failing to engage them closely. The Earl of Sandwich was killed when the Royal James was sunk by fireships; losses were roughly equal but Solebay was a significant Dutch strategic victory. The heavy English casualties at Solebay, the loss of the Royal James and the tragic death of the Earl of Sandwich all served to increase popular English opposition to the war, and, for the rest of the year, lack of money to repair the damage incurred restricted English naval operations to a failed attack on the Dutch East India Company Return Fleet. The Dutch retained control of their coastal waters, secured their trade routes and ended prospects of an Anglo-French landing in Zealand.
However, on the Dutch side, these naval success did not offset the damage to Dutch morale caused by defeats on land and it was impossible to hide the gravity of the crisis in the Netherlands in the summer of 1672. A stream of venomous Orangist pamphlets accused the De Witt brothers in particular and the Regent regime in general of betraying the country to the French and of plotting against the Prince of Orange. There was widespread rioting, with Orangists seizing control of city councils and demanding William take over government. On 22 June, De Witt was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt. One of the would-be assassins, Jacob van der Graaf, who was arrested and quickly tried and executed was popularly regarded as a martyr. His execution only increased popular hatred against the De Witt brothers.
The Dutch were helped by the incompatibility of French and English objectives, arising from then dominant economic theory of mercantilism; this argued trade was a finite resource, so increasing your share meant taking it from others. French economic power therefore required the destruction or acquisition of Holland but this threatened English trade and security and led to the demand by Charles that William be made Prince of a sovereign state of Holland. Louis originally agreed but success meant he no longer considered this compromise necessary.
On 14 June, the States of Holland decided to ask peace terms from England and France, offering Louis the key fortresses in the south and ten million guilders. He responded with additional demands; either religious freedom for Catholics or sovereignty over Utrecht and Guelders. This was a deliberate delaying tactic; he knew the envoys were not authorised to negotiate on religion or the territorial integrity of the provinces and would have to request further instructions. The English were to be ceded Delfzijl, in Groningen, already besieged by Münster.
Depicting Charles as the one man who could save them from the French, Orangist pressure led to William's appointment as stadtholder of Holland on 4 July. Hoping for a quick win, Charles sent Arlington, one of the few English politicians privy to the full content of Treaty of Dover, and Buckingham to Brill, accompanied by Orangist exiles who had fled the Republic after their failed coup in 1666. Cheered by crowds who believed they brought promises of English support against the French, they arrived at William's headquarters in Nieuwerbrug on 5 July. The mood changed when their terms were made public; France and Münster would retain their conquests, with William appointed Prince of Holland. For this, he would pay England ten million guilders, £10,000 per annum for North Sea herring rights, and allow military occupation of Brill, Sluys and Flushing, as had been the case until 1616 after the 1585 Treaty of Nonsuch.
The terms offered the Dutch nothing they did not already hold and resistance hardened as a result. William was well-informed on English opposition and had assurances of Imperial support from Francois-Paul de Lisola, Leopold's envoy in the Hague. Lisola arranged for Spanish troops to hold 's-Hertogenbosch and Breda, releasing their Dutch garrisons for the field army.
William rejected this offer, although he held out the possibility of a deal if Arlington and Buckingham could ease French demands. They met with Louis at Heeswijk Castle, but as the Dutch expected, made no progress; the Heeswijk Accord on 16 July agreed a minimal list of shared demands and undertook not to conclude a separate peace. Neither side placed any reliance on this; by this stage, only French subsidies kept Charles in the war.
A second letter from Charles on 18 July urged William to accept his terms, claiming the De Witts were the only obstacle to peace. He responded by offering the herring rights, £400,000, Sluys and Surinam, in return for recognition as Prince of Holland and England agreeing a separate peace; the latter was clearly unacceptable. Based on the Heeswijk Accord, Louis now required England also be ceded the islands of Voorne, which contained the Dutch main naval port of Hellevoetsluis, and Goeree. These were rejected on 20 July and ended negotiations; Arlington and Buckingham returned to London.
Johan de Witt had resigned as Grand Pensionary in June, while Cornelis was arrested for allegedly plotting to murder William. On 15 August, Charles' letter blaming the De Witts was published in Holland; motives are still debated but the effect was to inflame tensions and the two brothers were lynched by an Orangist civil militia on 20th. Orangist Gaspar Fagel became Grand Pensionary; on 27 August, the States of Holland passed legislation removing their political opponents from local office and securing William's political position.
Dutch recovery: July to December
On 7 July, the inundations were fully set; their effectiveness would be reduced when the waters froze in winter but for now, Holland was secure from French advance. This allowed time for the States army to enact military reforms approved on 16 July, while their numbers were boosted by the return of 20,000 prisoners ransomed from the French.
A later French analyst suggested the offensive was arguably too successful; it united the opposition and distracted Louis from his primary objective of the Spanish Netherlands. The French field army was drastically reduced by the need to garrison captured towns, while it also strained their supply lines; with the active phase of the war ended, Louis returned to Versailles on 26 July.
In addition to unofficial Spanish support, on 25 July Leopold agreed to supply 16,000 men to help the Dutch, joined by the 20,000 originally promised by Frederick William in May. Although the Imperial troops were ordered to avoid combat, Louis was forced to divert 20,000 troops under Turenne to the Rhineland, and 18,000 to Alsace; this left some 50,000 men around the Republic, most distributed in garrisons.
The situation was far worse for Charles, who had no clear exit strategy. Hopes of a quick victory vanished after Solebay, which ensured a vital supply of Baltic grain. The disasters that removed the De Witts also secured William's position and ended his dependence on Charles. The Münster army disintegrated due to lack of supplies and on 27 August, von Galen abandoned the siege of Groningen. The defenders suffered less than 100 casualties, the besiegers over 11,000, which included nearly 6,000 deserters; many of these enrolled with the Dutch.
William led a number of offensives, including attacks on Woerden and Charleroi; while over-ambitious and unsuccessful, these restored Dutch morale. Coevorden was recaptured on 31 December and although their position remained precarious, by the end of 1672 the Dutch had regained much of the territory lost in May. Louis found himself involved in a wider European war of attrition. Despite his French subsidies, Charles had run out of money and faced considerable domestic opposition to continuing the war.
On the 13th of December, the Dutch Cape Colony dispatched an expedition force to Saint Helena under the leadership of Jacob de Geus and took possession of the English outpost on the island on behalf of the Dutch East India Company.
As the French again failed to cross the Holland Water Line, it was hoped that the Anglo-French fleet might defeat the Dutch navy, by a blockade of the Dutch coast forcing the Republic to capitulate to avoid starvation, or landing an invasion force. Because the allies did not cooperate very well, De Ruyter could competently exploit the shoals off the coast of Zealand to prevent his fleet being overwhelmed by their superior numbers. In August, the Dutch fleet was more to the north forced to defend the Texel and clashed with the allies in open battle. De Ruyter managed to obtain a tactical draw which implied a strategic Dutch victory because the damaged English fleet could no longer continue operations. The failure of the naval campaign in the summer of 1673 completed the English disillusionment with the war, and with the alliance with the French who they blamed for this failure.
The war, never popular with Parliament to begin with, now quickly lost any remaining support there. A final victory over the Dutch seemed unlikely. In late 1673, the French were forced to gradually abandon most of the Dutch territory. At the same time they prepared to conquer the Spanish Netherlands at last, which was a frightening prospect for most British politicians. However, the main opposition against the war was caused by Dutch propaganda. William convinced the English people that Charles had plotted with Louis to make their country Roman Catholic again. This caused such an uproar that Charles thought it best to preserve his hold on the throne by quickly agreeing to the Second Peace of Westminster, which was greeted with popular enthusiasm on both sides of the North Sea, least by the commercial interests of Amsterdam and London, and it was ratified by both parties with exceptional speed.
In comparison with the first two wars, where both sides, and particularly the Dutch, often relied on aggressive tactics that resulted in the loss of a significant numbers of ships to the defeated fleet, in the Third Anglo-Dutch War, both sides adopted line-ahead formations in mist battles, an essentially defensive formation that resulted in far fewer ship losses and, in the Battle of Texel, to no ships lost on either side.
In the winter of 1673, the French failed to cross the Water Line over the ice, thwarted both by thaws and special Dutch sailor companies moving on ice skates, organised by temporary Lieutenant-Admiral Johan de Liefde. In the spring, attempts to drain the northern part of the line or to cross on rafts, proved unsuccessful. The attack from the east thus being considered impractical, the activities of the Royal Navy gained much more importance. It was ordered, in co-operation with a French squadron, to at least blockade the Dutch coast and, if possible, execute a landing on it, conquering the Republic from the west. How this should be accomplished exactly, was not very clear. The English navy, in contrast to the Dutch fleet, had little experience in shore landings. It was expected therefore, to directly take some Dutch port by assault, despite having insufficient recent information about the dangerous, constantly shifting shoals.
Before this could be achieved, the Allies would have to defeat the Dutch fleet. Although the English deliberately created the impression – to frighten the Dutch population into an invasion scare– that transports, carrying an army, were sailing immediately behind the war fleet, in fact the—rather small—invasion force formed by the Blackheath Army was left in Great Yarmouth, to be shipped only after a full control over the seas had been attained. In this the French would be of little help; they had received clear orders by Louis to give absolute priority to the survival of their vessels and inform him personally about what knowledge they had gained by observing the English and Dutch tactics. This meant that the French navy considered the campaign first of all to be a great learning opportunity; the French admirals afterwards declared that De Ruyter had given them some "beautiful lessons".
In May, Rupert advanced to the Dutch coast with a superior force of 81 ships; De Ruyter, with 55 ships took up a defensive position in the Schooneveld. Rupert sent a light squadron toward the smaller Dutch fleet hoping either to tempt it into an unequal battle, or to force it to seek refuge in the naval port fortress of Hellevoetsluis, where it could be blocked while the transport fleet would be brought over to storm either Brill in Holland or Flushing on Walcheren in Zealand. De Ruyter attacked the light squadron very quickly, before the main allied fleet was in good order starting the First Battle of the Schooneveld. In the battle of Solebay of the previous year, the French squadron had, on sight of the approaching Dutch fleet, sailed in a direction opposite to that of the English fleet. To counter English accusations that this had been done on purpose to let the English bear the brunt of the fighting, the French now formed the centre squadron. When a gap formed in the French line after a number of French ships had moved forward out of position, De Ruyter suddenly tacked with his own centre and sailed through it. After a while the French disengaged – later writing enthusiastic reports to Louis about feeling honoured to witness the tactical genius shown by De Ruyter by this manoeuvre– exposing the Allied rear to encirclement by the Dutch rear and centre. On perceiving the danger, its commander, Spragge, abandoned the remainder of the rear with his flotilla to seek out Tromp, who was rather hesitantly attacked by Rupert in the van, fearing the shoals. Thus being outmanoeuvred and divided, the Allied fleet managed to reunite only because De Ruyter decided not to take any unnecessary risks but to join Tromp, who had to shift his flag, with the remainder of the Dutch fleet. but In view if the continuing disorder to his fleet, Rupert was content to withdraw at nightfall, as De Ruyter had manoeuvred his weaker fleet with great skill.
The allied fleet remained of the coast, as Rupert was unwilling to enter the dangerous Schooneveld again, he could only hope either to lure the Dutch out or that the Dutch fleet would attack him. On 14 June, taking advantage of a favourable wind, De Ruyter and the resupplied and reinforced Dutch fleet surprised the allies by leaving his ideal blocking position, and attacked their unprepared fleet, starting the Second Battle of the Schooneveld. and Sir Edward Spragge, commanding the rear squadron was visiting Rupert at the time of the Dutch attack, Rupert was forced to invert his squadron order without properly informing the French, causing such a chaos in the Allied fleet, which the Dutch exploited by severely damaging many of their ships. Spragge added to this disorder by again seeking out Tromp, without success. Much damaged and with its morale shaken, the Allied fleet returned to the Thames for repairs.
In late July, Rupert sailed out again, trying to lure the Dutch fleet to the north, pretending to attempt a landing at The Hague or Den Helder. De Ruyter at first decided not to leave his Schooneveld position, but, under pressure from Amsterdam merchants to prevent the capture of a valuable returning Dutch East India Company fleet, he was ordered by William to defend the incoming fleet as its loss would given Charles the funds to continue the war. This resulted in the final Battle of the Texel. The conduct of the French fleet and its commander, D'Estrées is a matter of dispute. While Prud'homme states that they French fought hard, Jenkins argues that, either through poor seamanship, or because D'Estrées had been ordered by Louis XIV to preserve the French fleet, should England make peace with the Dutch, it failed to engage the Dutch closely for much of the day with D'Estrées disobeying Rupert's orders to attack the Dutch, claiming the wind was too weak. Davies accepts that, by the admission of several French officers, their fleet was not prominent in the action, attributing in part to inexperience, and Prud'homme accepts that the French allowed themselves to get separated from the English fleet.
What is clear is that the sheer size of the allied fleet and the length of its battle line together with inadequacies in the fighting instructions and signaling that were remedied after the battle made the task of controlling it difficult. Spragge action in breaking formation for the second time to duel with Tromp, and losing his life as a result, as well as D'Estrées ignoring or misunderstanding Rupert's signals allowed an inferior but better managed fleet to succeed. Having incurred enormous damage, both fleets retreated.
This tactical draw was a complete strategic victory for the Dutch, even though four ships of the Spice Fleet had fallen into Allied hands. For De Ruyter, the successful campaign, by repelling attacks by much superior fleets to save his homeland, had been the highlight of his career, as the English readily acknowledged: the Duke of York concluded that among admirals, "he was the greatest that ever to that time was in the world". The English had to abandon their plans for an invasion from the sea, and the large costs of repair troubled Parliament.
Growing anti-war sentiment in England
Overall the war had been far from profitable to the English. In previous conflicts many in England had gained riches by joining privateering enterprises; in this war Dutch raiders captured more English ships (over 550 merchantmen; 2,800 vessels of all Allies) than vice versa. The province of Zealand alone operated 120 privateers. Being well aware that the war was waged by English and French nobles who disdained the Dutch as, in the words of Louis, a nation of "cheesemongers", at least three privateers sailed under the name of the Getergde Kaasboer (provoked cheesemonger). The English had failed to blockade the Dutch coast and were themselves largely blocked from the vital Baltic trade in wood and tar. The fact that the Dutch under Cornelis Evertsen the Youngest had retaken New York City—formerly New Amsterdam—in 1673 mattered little financially, nor did the temporary loss of Saint Helena, but it hurt the English reputation. In the East, on 1 September 1673, a Dutch East India Company fleet of thirteen vessels commanded by Cornelis van Quaelbergen defeated an East India Company squadron of ten ships under William Basse off Masulipatam, capturing two and sinking one British vessel. The material damage compounded a moral unease about the justifiability of the war; John Evelyn already after Solebay wrote: "the loss of my Lord Sandwich redoubled the loss to me, as well the folly of hazarding so brave a fleet, and losing so many good men, for no provocation in the world but because the Hollander exceeded us in industry, and all things else but envy." In November 1673, parliament voted to deny Charles a war budget for 1674. Conversely, the Dutch had been able to restore international credit. For 1673, their war budget could be increased to a hundred million guilders, three times the normal annual tax revenues of the Republic. This allowed them to operate large fleets, rebuild their army and find and subsidise allies.
Meanwhile, the developments in the land war had also become very unfavourable to Charles. The ultimate goal of the French, and their deeper rationale for this war, was to conquer the Spanish Netherlands. Such a conquest would be very detrimental to the English strategic position: should the province of Holland capitulate to them also, the French would control the entire continental coast opposite England, as they would later achieve in the 19th-century Napoleonic Wars. For this reason Charles had in the Treaty of Dover explicitly reserved his rights to come to the aid of the Spanish Netherlands should his interests demand so; Louis had to delay the execution of his plans in this region until the Dutch affair was finished. Now that a deadlock had been reached, Louis' patience was severely tried. Emperor Leopold had promised in 1668 that after the death of the sickly Charles II of Spain, the area would be ceded to France, but against expectations he survived until 1700. Eventually the temptation to take possession of the Southern Netherlands while they were so vulnerable became too great. Louis gradually turned his attention to this area, first by the capture of Maastricht in July 1673, in which elements of Monmouth's brigade played an honourable rôle. Though this could be justified as improving the supply situation of the northern French army, its potential as a starting point for a Flemish campaign was not lost on the Spanish who had provided troops to help defend the city.
On 30 August, the Republic, the Empire, and Spain agreed the Alliance of The Hague. In October, they were joined by Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine (who wanted his duchy back from Louis) forming the Quadruple Alliance. William made sure peace negotiations held with France and England in Cologne failed. In November, Bonn was taken by the alliance forces commanded by William; this forced the French army to abandon almost all occupied Dutch territory, with the exception of Grave and Maastricht. A final French victory over the Dutch at this point appeared most implausible; the war was changed into one about the dominion of Flanders and on this issue, the natural interests of England were opposed to those of France. The changed international situation was an important consideration for Parliament's decision to withhold funding, but internal events were even more decisive.
The Treaty of Dover was not only aimed at the Dutch Republic but also at the domination of Protestantism in England; Charles had promised Louis to try to end it. In accordance, on 25 March 1672, he had issued the Royal Declaration of Indulgence, as a first step to complete religious tolerance. Parliament was shocked by this, but at first was unaware of the connection with the French alliance; in February 1673 it voted to start funding the alliance, to an amount of £1,260,000, in exchange for a suspension of the Indulgence (and an issuing of the Test Act in March), not as yet seeing any contradiction in such policies. This would soon change, however. Arlington's former secretary, Pierre du Moulin, had after fleeing to the Republic begun to work for William; in the summer of 1673 he exploited the fears of the English population by starting a propaganda campaign, using one of the Dutch main assets: the world's largest per capita printing capacity.
Soon, England was flooded with tens of thousands of pamphlets accusing Charles of wanting to make the country Catholic again in conspiracy with the French king. The campaign was a complete success, convincing the English people that such a plan really existed. It was greatly aided by the decision in June 1673 by Charles's brother James, the Duke of York, to lay down his position as Lord High Admiral, which was generally (and correctly) interpreted as a sign that James had in secret become a Catholic and was therefore unable to abjure the transubstantiation doctrine, as the Test Act demanded of all officials. In September James married the Catholic Mary of Modena, a beautiful young girl especially selected for him by King Louis. As Charles had no legitimate offspring, this marriage presented the strong prospect of a Catholic dynasty ruling England in the future.
Reacting to the change in the public mood, Buckingham, who had learned of it during his trip to the Republic the previous year, began to leak the Dover Treaty to many fellow politicians, and Arlington soon followed. Thus in a short time Charles' own cabinet, the Cabal Ministry, went over to the "Dutch" peace party; Lord Shaftesbury, much shocked by the revelation, began to consider driving out the troublesome House of Stuart entirely. He induced his secretary, John Locke, to develop further the legal concepts which would later be the basis of the Two Treatises of Government, which justified the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Second Peace of Westminster
In this situation Charles felt that continuing the alliance was a grave threat to his personal position and that Parliament would no longer fund a war. He informed the French ambassador Colbert de Croissy that to his regret, he had to terminate the English war effort. He told the Dutch via the Spanish consul in London, the Marquess del Fresno, that, his main war aim to install his noble nephew as stadtholder having been attained, he no longer objected to concluding a lasting peace between the two Protestant brother nations, if only some minor "indemnities" could be paid. At first the States of Holland were disinclined to grant Charles's demands: as England had accomplished nothing in the war, it was, in their opinion, not entitled to any reward. But William convinced them that there was some chance of bringing Charles into the war against France eventually. Furthermore, Spain had not yet declared war on France and was willing to do so only if England made peace, because it feared English attacks on its American colonies.
After a short exchange of proposals by means of trumpeters, the Treaty of Westminster was publicly proclaimed in London on 17 February Old Style. It was approved by the States of Holland and West Frisia on 4 March (New Style), and ratified by the States General on 5 March.
The treaty stipulated that New York—formerly New Netherland—would henceforth be an English possession and that Suriname, captured by the Dutch in 1667, would remain their colony, confirming the status quo of 1667. An "indemnity" of two million guilders was to be paid by the Dutch. Eventually, William would force Charles to set off these indemnities against the debts he owed to the House of Orange, so the English king actually received very little.
Despite the peace, Monmouth's brigade would not be withdrawn from the French army and it would be allowed to recruit in Britain until the end of the Franco-Dutch War. In April that year, William attempted to convince his uncle to enter the war against Louis but failed. Until the end of the War of Holland in 1678, Charles tried to negotiate between the two parties, at times pretending to consider a conflict with France, when such pretence was beneficial to him. In 1677, he forced his niece Mary to marry William; this would later prove to be a fundamental cause of the fall of his brother in 1688.
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