Warships of the Anglo-Dutch Wars 1652-74
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch and the English were both great maritime nations. Their trade routes were far reaching and their trading companies rich and powerful. It was inevitable that a conflict would arise between them. In a series of three wars called the Anglo-Dutch Wars, the two countries fought for naval supremacy and for control of the seas and trading rights. A little political intrigue was mixed in just to make it interesting.
The first war, caused by commercial rivalry, took place from 1652-1654 during the time of English parliamentary and military rule by Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector. Cromwell eventually decided that the two Puritan nations should be allies instead of antagonists and opened negotiations for peace.
The second and third wars took place after the restoration of the English, Scottish, and Irish monarchies under Charles II in 1660. The second war, 1665-1667, was provoked again by the British over their mercantile interests. Unfortunately for the English, the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London severely weakened their war effort and they were forced to sue for peace again. However, that peace did not last long.
The third Anglo-Dutch War, 1672-1674, was fought as part of a complicated series of treaties and festering hostilities between England, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The Anglo-Dutch conflict was eventually resolved by the elevation of William of Orange, a first cousin of English Mary Stuart, first to Dutch Sovereign and later to the throne of England as William III. A fourth Anglo-Dutch War was fought from 1780-1784 during the American Revolutionary War. This one was caused by the failure of the Dutch to support Britain, her supposed ally, against the American Colonists. I suppose because this war was more politically motivated, it is not included in the scope of this book.
Angus Konstam presents us with his latest book, Warships of the Anglo-Dutch Wars. It is a 48-page soft-back book. Konstam covers the design, development, construction and operation of the warships that took part in these wars. To complement the excellent narrative, the book contains many black and white and color paintings and etchings of the ships and personalities of the time. There are several highly detailed drawings of Dutch and English warships by Peter Bull. The author has also included several tables comparing the ships that took part in the wars. The material is presented in five major segments.
This section presents an overall synopsis of the trade conflicts and political scheming within and between the English and the Dutch governments.
This short section provides a convenient listing of the events that occurred during the wars.
Design and Development
Here we are provided the evolution of the fighting ships from those of an earlier age where warships were designed to fight chivalrous duels with their enemies. By the end of the Anglo-Dutch Wars the warship had evolved into major ships-of-the-line that would dominate naval warfare until steam powered ships were introduced. This section is broken down into English Ship Design and Dutch Ship Design.
Construction and Operation
This section covers shipbuilding, manpower, ordnance, and tactics. In shipbuilding, the basic building philosophies and processes of the two countries are compared. Manning the ships was a problem for both sides and this is covered in the manpower section. The reasoning behind how each fleet was armed and why the English outgunned the Dutch is discussed in the ordnance section. And finally, the tactics of the two fleets are compared – the lighter armed but more nimble Dutch warship versus the larger, more heavily armed and less agile floating gun batteries of the English.
The author concludes with two tables listing the major warships of the English and the Dutch fleets in service from 1652 to 1674. These tables list each ship’s name, number of guns, fate, and other interesting data.
While this book does not have many pages, the pages are full of information. It is an easy and interesting read covering a part of naval history other than the Napoleonic era. Non-modelers and historians will find the book very enjoyable. For the sailing ship modeler, the details provided in both text and drawings make this a must.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it to all. I would like to thank Sara Batkie at Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this book.