Osprey Dutch Navies of the 80 Years' War 1568–1648

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Bouko de Groot
Other Publication Information
Illustrator: Peter Bull, Softbound, 7.25” x 9.75”, 48 pages
Product / Stock #
New Vanguard 263
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Military History has always fascinated Bouko de Groot. He earned a BA in Art History and an MA in Egyptology from Leiden University. Bouko de Groot served in the Dutch Army and has authored a number of academic, popular scientific, and business journalistic articles. He spent at least eight years working in Shanghai for IHS Fairplay, publishing daily online maritime news, along with weekly and monthly magazines. He is Dutch and currently lives in Germany.

Peter Bull graduated from art college in 1979 and has worked as a freelance illustrator for over 25 years. He has created both traditional and digital art for publishers worldwide. Peter also runs the Peter Bull Art Studio, based in East Sussex, UK, which he founded in 1975.

This 48 page book’s cover features a color painting depicting Zeeland’s Vice-Admiral Laurens Alteras on the Rode Leeuw(Red Lion) during the 1607 battle of Gibraltar. I counted 2 tables, 1 black and white map, 23 color photos, and 12 black and white pictures. Peter Bull contributes eight color profiles along with a keyed cutaway color illustration of Willem Barentz’ Yacht, Het Schip Willem Barents.

The Eighty Years' War, or Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648), was a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces to win independence from Spanish rule. Today these provinces are the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Philip II of Spain initially suppressed the rebellion, but the Dutch never gave up and continued the fight. The heart of the Dutch republic was essentially won in 1581 by William the Silent, but the war continued throughout the world. This essentially was the birth of the mighty Dutch Navy and the beginning of the Dutch Colonial Empire. The War of Independence continued until 1648 when the Dutch Republic was finally recognized as an independent country, leading to the Dutch Golden Age.

The sections include:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Author’s Note
  • Introduction
  • Chronology
  • Civil War, 1568-87
    • Organization
    • Ships
    • Yacht & Spritsail (Color Side views)
    • Aboard
    • In Action
    • Willem Barentz’ Yacht (Color Cut-Away)
  • War for Independence, 1588-1620
    • Organization
    • Hollandse Tuin (Color Side View)
    • Ships
    • Galleys (Color Side Views)
    • Aboard
    • Ordnance
    • In Action
  • Coalition War, 1621-48
    • Organization
    • Ships
    • Aemilia (Color Side View)
    • Aboard
    • The Republic’s Standardized Arsenal of Bronze Guns (Table)
    • Ordinance
    • Orangen (Color Side View)
    • In Action
  • On the Fringes
    • Amphibious Warfare
    • Atypical Designs
  • Conclusion
    • Kora Kora(Color side View)
    • Flagships (Table)
  • Further Reading
  • Index

Bouko de Groot divides the period into three sections as can be seen in the contents above. Each period includes an introduction and then addresses the naval ‘Organization’; describes the ‘Ships’; what life was like for the crew ‘Aboard’, and engagement tactics in ‘In Action’. Through these three periods, one can trace the development of a modern navy and the evolution of the warships and tactics. One of these common tactics was to have his ships aim their guns low to fire into opposing ships below their waterline.

One of the interesting twists I found fascinating was a Dutch arms dealer named Elias Trip. Elias decided to begin gun production in Sweden to keep up with demand. The “Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie" (VOC, or United East India Company) was one of his customers. To protect his weapon production in Sweden, Elias (and Sweden) bought a fully staffed warfleet of 21 ships. The 483 guns that this fleet was able to bring to bear in protecting his Swedish investment were also used to defeat the Danes in 1644.

Bouko de Groot has loaded a lot of history into 48 pages, but this still an account that is easily read over a few evenings (or if you are like me, in one night to the wee hours...). There is plenty of political intrigue and corruption to keep your interest. Colorful period painting and Peter Bull’s color illustrations supplement the text well. If you own one the previous releases in the New Vanguard series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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