Anglo-Dutch Wars

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The Anglo–Dutch Wars (Dutch: Engels–Nederlandse Oorlogen or Engelse Zeeoorlogen) were a series of wars fought between the English (later British) and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes. The first war took place during the English Interregnum, and was fought between the Commonwealth of England and the Dutch Republic (also known as the United Provinces). The second war and third war took place after the Restoration, and involved the Kingdom of England and the Dutch Republic. The fourth war took place after the Acts of Union, and involved the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Dutch Republic.

While the English eventually emerged as the greater world power, the Dutch did see some significant victories.

Contents

Background

During the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, neither England nor the main maritime provinces of the Low Countries (Flanders and Holland), had been major European sea powers on a par with Portugal, Castile, Aragon or Venice. During the Wars of Religion in the 16th century between the Catholic Habsburg Dynasty and the newly Protestant nations, England under Elizabeth I built up a strong naval force, designed to carry out long range privateering or piracy missions against the Spanish Empire, exemplified by the exploits of Francis Drake. These raids, financed by the Crown or high nobility, were initially immensely profitable, until the overhaul of Spain's naval and intelligence systems led to a series of costly failures. Partly to provide a pretext for such hostilities against Spain, Elizabeth assisted the Dutch Revolt by signing in 1585 the Treaty of Nonsuch with the new Dutch state of the United Provinces. In the resulting Anglo–Spanish War the Dutch played only a secondary role as they were fully occupied in fighting Habsburg armies at home.

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