First Anglo-Dutch War
The First Anglo–Dutch War (1652–54) (called the First Dutch War in England) was the first of the four Anglo–Dutch Wars. It was fought entirely at sea between the navies of the Commonwealth of England
Commonwealth of England
The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

 and the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Caused by disputes over trade, the war began with English attacks on Dutch merchant shipping, but expanded to vast fleet actions. Ultimately, it resulted in the English Navy gaining control of the seas around England, and forced the Dutch to accept an English monopoly on trade with England and English colonies.

(Dates in this article are given in the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

, then ten days ahead of the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 in use in England.)


In the 16th century, England and the Netherlands had been close allies against the ambitions of the Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

s. They cooperated in fighting the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

. England supported the Dutch in the Eighty Years' War by sending money and troops. There was a permanent English representative in the Dutch government to ensure coordination of the joint war effort. The separate peace in 1604 between England and Spain strained this relationship. The weakening of Spanish power at the end of the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 in 1648 also meant that many colonial possessions of the Portuguese
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 and some of the Spanish empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 were effectively up for grabs. The ensuing rush for empire brought the former allies into conflict. Also the Dutch, having made peace with Spain, quickly replaced the English as dominant traders with the Iberian peninsula, adding to an English resentment about Dutch trade that had steadily grown since 1590.

By the middle of the 17th century the Dutch had built by far the largest mercantile fleet in Europe, with more ships than all other nations combined, and their economy, based mainly on maritime commerce, gave them a dominant position in European, especially Baltic
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

, trade. Furthermore they had conquered most of Portugal's territory in the East Indies
East Indies
East Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...

  and Brazil giving them control over the enormously profitable trade in spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

s. They were even gaining significant influence over England's maritime trade with her North American colonies, profiting from the turmoil that resulted from the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

. With their victory over the Spanish fleet at the Battle of the Downs
Battle of the Downs
The naval Battle of the Downs took place on 31 October 1639 , during the Eighty Years' War, and was a decisive defeat of the Spanish, commanded by Admiral Antonio de Oquendo, by the United Provinces, commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp.- Background :The entry of France in the Thirty...

 in 1639, that Dutch confidence in their naval abilities grew to such a degree, that after the peace treaty with Spain in 1648, the Dutch navy was allowed to deteriorate significantly. The Dutch had five autonomous admiralties and after 1648 these sold off large parts of their fleets to economise. By 1652, fewer than fifty ships were seaworthy and the deficiency had to be made good by arming merchantmen. All were inferior in firepower to the largest English first and second rates
Rating system of the Royal Navy
The rating system of the Royal Navy and its predecessors was used by the British Royal Navy between the beginning of the 17th century and the middle of the 19th century to categorise sailing warships, initially classing them according to their assigned complement of men, and later according to the...


The navy of the Commonwealth of England was in better condition. It had emerged victorious from the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

; supported and supplied Cromwell's army in the wars in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

; blockaded the royalist fleet of Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria, 1st Duke of Cumberland, 1st Earl of Holderness , commonly called Prince Rupert of the Rhine, KG, FRS was a noted soldier, admiral, scientist, sportsman, colonial governor and amateur artist during the 17th century...

 in Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

; and organized a system of convoys to protect the commerce of the Commonwealth against the swarms of privateers set upon it from every European port. On 24 September 1650 General-at-Sea Robert Blake
Robert Blake (admiral)
Robert Blake was one of the most important military commanders of the Commonwealth of England and one of the most famous English admirals of the 17th century. Blake is recognised as the chief founder of England's naval supremacy, a dominance subsequently inherited by the British Royal Navy into...

 had defeated the Portuguese fleet in a violent gale, sinking the Portuguese Vice-Admiral and taking seven prizes, compelling Portugal to cease protecting Rupert. In 1651 the royalist strongholds in the Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The islands have had a unitary authority council since 1890, and are separate from the Cornwall unitary authority, but some services are combined with Cornwall and the islands are still part...

, the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 and the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

 had been captured, and in 1652 General George Ayscue
George Ayscue
Admiral Sir George Ayscue was an English naval officer who served in the Civil War and the Anglo-Dutch Wars.In 1648, during the Civil War, while serving as a captain in the navy of the English Parliament, he prevented the fleet from defecting to the Royalists, and was promoted to General at Sea...

 had recovered England's colonial possessions in the West Indies and North America
British America
For American people of British descent, see British American.British America is the anachronistic term used to refer to the territories under the control of the Crown or Parliament in present day North America , Central America, the Caribbean, and Guyana...

. The English navy had been placed on a secure financial footing by an Act of 10 November 1650, which imposed a 15 percent tax on merchant shipping and provided that the money thus raised should be used to fund the naval forces protecting the convoys. It had eighteen ships superior in firepower to the heaviest Dutch vessel, the Brederode
Dutch ship Brederode
Brederode was a ship of the line of the navy of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and the flagship of the Dutch fleet in the First Anglo-Dutch War. Throughout her career, she carried from 53-59 guns...


Political tensions between the Commonwealth and the Republic

During the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 the Dutch stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

 Frederick Henry
Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange
Frederick Henry, or Frederik Hendrik in Dutch , was the sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel from 1625 to 1647.-Early life:...

 had given major financial support to Charles I of England
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

, to whom he had close family ties, and had often been on the brink of intervening with his powerful army. When Charles was beheaded, the Dutch were outraged by the regicide
The broad definition of regicide is the deliberate killing of a monarch, or the person responsible for the killing of a monarch. In a narrower sense, in the British tradition, it refers to the judicial execution of a king after a trial...

. Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 therefore considered the Dutch Republic as an enemy. Nevertheless the Commonwealth and The Republic had many things in common: they were both republican and protestant. When after the death of Frederick Henry his son stadtholder William II of Orange tried to fulfill the monarchical aspirations his late father had always fostered by establishing a military dictatorship, the States of Holland
States of Holland
The States of Holland and West Frisia were the representation of the two Estates to the court of the Count of Holland...

 made overtures to Cromwell, seeking his support against William, suggesting vaguely the province of Holland might join the Commonwealth.

The English delegation to The Hague

In 1650 William suddenly died however, so there was no longer any need for Cromwell's support against him. When on 28 January 1651 the States-General
States-General of the Netherlands
The States-General of the Netherlands is the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The parliament meets in at the Binnenhof in The Hague. The archaic Dutch word "staten" originally related to the feudal classes in which medieval...

 recognised the Commonwealth, they fully expected this to be sufficient to solve all problems between the two countries. To their enormous embarrassment however on 7 March a large English delegation of 246 arrived at The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, headed by Oliver St John
Oliver St John
Sir Oliver St John , was an English judge and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1640 to 1653. He supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War.- Early life :...

, to negotiate the conditions under which the Dutch Republic might unite itself with England, sent by Cromwell who had taken the earlier suggestions quite too seriously. Trying to be polite the delegation left it to the Dutch to provide the first proposals. The Dutch however were too stunned and confused for a coherent reaction, so after a month the English delegation disclosed a plan by Cromwell to divide the world into two spheres of influence: the Dutch could control Africa and Asia; in return they would assist the English in conquering both Americas from the Spanish. Cromwell hoped that this way the colonial rivalry would be eased by giving the English their own profitable empire. But the Dutch saw it as an absurd grandiose scheme, which offered them little hope for profit but the certainty of much expense and a new war in the Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands
Southern Netherlands were a part of the Low Countries controlled by Spain , Austria and annexed by France...

. After much deliberation by the delegates of the seven provinces, they on 24 June made a counter-proposal of 36 articles of which they hoped it would be agreeable to the English without involving themselves in a war for world conquest. This proposal was in essence a free trade agreement and nothing could have angered the English delegation more: precisely the fact that the English were unable to compete with the Dutch under conditions of free trade lay at the heart of the conflict between them. They interpreted the counter-proposal as a deliberate affront.
Meanwhile other events had convinced the delegation of Dutch animosity. The Hague was the residence of the young widow of William II, Charles I's daughter Mary Henrietta Stuart
Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange
Mary, Princess Royal, Princess of Orange and Countess of Nassau was the eldest daughter of King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland and his queen, Henrietta Maria of France...

, the Princess Royal
Princess Royal
Princess Royal is a style customarily awarded by a British monarch to his or her eldest daughter. The style is held for life, so a princess cannot be given the style during the lifetime of another Princess Royal...

. Those English noblemen in exile not fighting with her brother Charles
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 in Scotland had mostly gathered in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, which had become a Royalist bulwark, while it had been for many years an Orangist stronghold. The delegation members could only leave their lodgings under armed escort, for fear of being assaulted by Royalists or large mobs paid by them. The States of Holland feared open revolt if they would try to restore order between the English factions.

Deeply disappointed the English delegates left for England in the last week of June, reporting the Dutch were untrustworthy and that the United Provinces were under control of the Orangist party and thus a threat to the security of the Commonwealth.

Outbreak of war

French support for the English royalists had led the Commonwealth to issue letters of marque against French ships and against French goods in neutral ships. These letters carried the right to search neutral ships, which were mostly Dutch. Infuriated by the treatment of the English delegation in The Hague and emboldened by their victory against Charles in the Battle of Worcester
Battle of Worcester
The Battle of Worcester took place on 3 September 1651 at Worcester, England and was the final battle of the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians defeated the Royalist, predominantly Scottish, forces of King Charles II...

, the English Parliament passed the first of the Navigation Acts
Navigation Acts
The English Navigation Acts were a series of laws that restricted the use of foreign shipping for trade between England and its colonies, a process which had started in 1651. Their goal was to force colonial development into lines favorable to England, and stop direct colonial trade with the...

 in October 1651. It ordered that only English ships and ships from the originating country could import goods to England. This measure was particularly aimed at hampering the shipping of the highly trade-dependent Dutch and often used as a pretext simply to take their ships; as General Monck
George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle
George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, KG was an English soldier and politician and a key figure in the restoration of Charles II.-Early life and career:...

 put it: "The Dutch have too much trade, and the English are resolved to take it from them." Agitation among the Dutch merchants was further increased by George Ayscue
George Ayscue
Admiral Sir George Ayscue was an English naval officer who served in the Civil War and the Anglo-Dutch Wars.In 1648, during the Civil War, while serving as a captain in the navy of the English Parliament, he prevented the fleet from defecting to the Royalists, and was promoted to General at Sea...

's capture in early 1652 of 27 Dutch ships trading with the royalist colony of Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

 in contravention of an embargo imposed by the Commonwealth. Over a hundred other Dutch ships were captured by English privateers between October 1651 and July 1652. Moreover, the death of Dutch stadtholder William II, who had favoured an expansion of the army at the expense of the navy, had led to a change in the defence policy of the United Provinces towards protecting the great trading concerns of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Accordingly, the States-General decided on 3 March 1652 to expand the fleet by hiring and equipping 150 merchant ships as ships of war to allow effective convoying against hostile English actions.

The news of this decision reached London on 12 March 1652 and the Commonwealth too began to prepare for war, but as both nations were unready, war might have been delayed if not for an unfortunate encounter between the fleets of Dutch Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp
Maarten Tromp
Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp was an officer and later admiral in the Dutch navy. His first name is also spelled as Maerten.-Early life:...

 and General at Sea Robert Blake
Robert Blake (admiral)
Robert Blake was one of the most important military commanders of the Commonwealth of England and one of the most famous English admirals of the 17th century. Blake is recognised as the chief founder of England's naval supremacy, a dominance subsequently inherited by the British Royal Navy into...

 in the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 near Dover on 29 May 1652. An ordinance of Cromwell required all foreign fleets in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 or the Channel to dip their flag in salute, reviving an ancient right the English had long insisted on, but when Tromp was tardy to comply, Blake opened fire, starting the brief Battle of Goodwin Sands
Battle of Goodwin Sands
The naval Battle of Goodwin Sands , fought on 29 May 1652 , was the first engagement of the First Anglo-Dutch War between the navies of the Commonwealth of England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands.- Background :The English Parliament had passed the first of the Navigation...

. Tromp lost two ships but escorted his convoy to safety.

Conduct of the War

The States of Holland sent their highest official, the Grand Pensionary
Grand Pensionary
The Grand Pensionary was the most important Dutch official during the time of the United Provinces. In theory he was only a civil servant of the Estates of the dominant province among the Seven United Provinces: the county of Holland...

 Adriaan Pauw
Adriaan Pauw
Adriaan Pauw, knight, heer van Heemstede, Bennebroek, Nieuwerkerk etc. was Grand Pensionary of Holland from 1631 to 1636 and from 1651 to 1653.-Life:...

 to London in a last desperate attempt to prevent war, but in vain: English demands had become so extreme that no self-respecting state could meet them. War was declared by the English Parliament on 10 July 1652. The Dutch diplomats realised what was at stake: one of the departing ambassadors said, "The English are about to attack a mountain of gold; we are about to attack a mountain of iron." The Dutch Orangists were jubilant however; they expected that either victory or defeat would bring them to power.

The first months of the war saw attacks by the English against the convoys of the Dutch. Blake was sent with 60 ships to disrupt Dutch fishing in the North Sea and Dutch trade with the Baltic, leaving Ayscue with a small force to guard the Channel. On 12 July 1652, Ayscue intercepted a Dutch convoy returning from Portugal, capturing seven merchantmen and destroying three. Tromp gathered a fleet of 96 ships to attack Ayscue but winds from the south kept him in the North Sea. Turning north to pursue Blake, Tromp caught up with the English fleet off the Shetland Islands
Shetland Islands
Shetland is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north and east of mainland Great Britain. The islands lie some to the northeast of Orkney and southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total...

 but a storm scattered his ships and there was no battle. On 26 August 1652 Ayscue attacked an outward-bound Dutch convoy commanded by Vice-Commodore Michiel de Ruyter
Michiel de Ruyter
Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter is the most famous and one of the most skilled admirals in Dutch history. De Ruyter is most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He fought the English and French and scored several major victories against them, the best known probably...

 but was beaten back in the Battle of Plymouth
Battle of Plymouth
The Battle of Plymouth was a naval battle in the First Anglo-Dutch War. It took place on 26 August 1652 and was a short battle, but had the unexpected outcome of a Dutch victory over England. General-at-Sea George Ayscue of the Commonwealth of England attacked an outward bound convoy of the Dutch...

 and relieved of his command.
Tromp had also been suspended after the failure at Shetland, and Vice-Admiral Witte de With was given command. The Dutch convoys being at the time safe from English attack, De With saw an opportunity to concentrate his forces and gain control of the seas. At the Battle of the Kentish Knock
Battle of the Kentish Knock
The Battle of the Kentish Knock was a naval battle between the fleets of the Dutch Republic and England, fought on 8 October 1652 New Style, during the First Anglo-Dutch War near the shoal called the Kentish Knock in the North Sea about thirty kilometres east of the mouth of the river Thames...

 on 8 October 1652 the Dutch attacked the English fleet near the mouth of the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

, but were beaten back with a high number of casualties. The English Parliament, believing the Dutch to be near defeat, sent away twenty ships to strengthen the position in the Mediterranean. This division of forces left Blake with only 42 men of war by November, while the Dutch were making every effort to reinforce their fleet, and this led to an English defeat by Tromp in the Battle of Dungeness
Battle of Dungeness
The naval Battle of Dungeness took place on 10 December 1652 during the First Anglo-Dutch War near the cape of Dungeness in Kent.- Background :...

 in December but didn't save the English Mediterranean fleet, largely destroyed at the Battle of Leghorn
Battle of Leghorn
The naval Battle of Leghorn took place on 14 March 1653, during the First Anglo-Dutch War, near Leghorn , Italy. It was a victory of a Dutch fleet under Commodore Johan van Galen over an English squadron under Captain Henry Appleton...

 in March 1653. The Dutch had effective control of the Channel, the North Sea, and the Mediterranean, with English ships blockaded in port. As a result Cromwell managed to convince Parliament to make secret peace contacts with the Dutch. In February 1653, Adriaan Pauw responded favourably, sending a letter from the States of Holland indicating their sincere desire to reach a peace agreement.

Despite its successes, the Dutch Republic was unable to sustain a prolonged naval war. As press-ganging
Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

 was forbidden, enormous sums had to be paid to attract enough sailors. English privateers inflicted serious damage on Dutch shipping. Unable to assist all of their colonies the Dutch had to allow the Portuguese to reconquer Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...


Though the politicians were close to making an end to the conflict, the war would prove to have a momentum of its own. Over the winter of 1652–53, the English repaired their ships and considered their position. Robert Blake wrote the Sailing and Fighting Instructions, a major overhaul of naval tactics
Naval tactics in the Age of Sail
Naval tactics in the Age of Sail were used from the early 17th century onward when sailing ships replaced oared galleys. These were used until the 1860s when steam-powered ironclad warships rendered sailing line of battle ships obsolete.-Early history:...

, containing the first formal description of the line of battle
Line of battle
In naval warfare, the line of battle is a tactic in which the ships of the fleet form a line end to end. A primitive form had been used by the Portuguese under Vasco Da Gama in 1502 near Malabar against a Muslim fleet.,Maarten Tromp used it in the Action of 18 September 1639 while its first use in...

. By February 1653 the English were ready to challenge the Dutch, and in the three-day Battle of Portland
Battle of Portland
The naval Battle of Portland, or Three Days' Battle took place during 28 February-2 March 1653 , during the First Anglo-Dutch War, when the fleet of the Commonwealth of England under General at Sea Robert Blake was attacked by a fleet of the Dutch Republic under Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp...

 in March they drove them out of The Channel. Their success saw an abrupt end to the English desire for peace. On 18 March the States-General sent a detailed peace proposal to the English Parliament, but it replied on 11 April by reiterating the same demands that had put off Pauw in June the previous year, to be accepted before negotiations were even to begin. On 30 April the States-General ignored this and asked for negotiations to begin in a neutral country; on 23 May Cromwell, having dissolved the pro-war Rump Parliament
Rump Parliament
The Rump Parliament is the name of the English Parliament after Colonel Pride purged the Long Parliament on 6 December 1648 of those members hostile to the Grandees' intention to try King Charles I for high treason....

, responded that he would receive Dutch envoys in London; on 5 June the States-General decided to send them.
Meanwhile the English navy tried to gain control over the North Sea also and in the two-day Battle of the Gabbard
Battle of the Gabbard
The naval Battle of the Gabbard, also known as the Battle of Gabbard Bank, the Battle of the North Foreland or the second Battle of Nieuwpoort took place on 2–3 June 1653 according to the Old Style of Julian calendar then used in England during the First Anglo-Dutch War near the Gabbard...

 in June drove the Dutch back to their home ports, starting a blockade of the Dutch coast, which led to an immediate collapse of the Dutch economy and even starvation. The Dutch were unable to feed their dense urban population without a regular supply of Baltic wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

; prices of these commodities soared and the poor were soon unable to buy food.

The final battle of the war was the costly Battle of Scheveningen
Battle of Scheveningen
The Battle of Scheveningen was the final naval battle of the First Anglo-Dutch War...

 in August. The Dutch desperately tried to break the English blockade; after heavy fighting with much damage to both sides, the defeated Dutch retreated to the Texel
Texel is a municipality and an island in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. It is the biggest and most populated of the Frisian Islands in the Wadden Sea, and also the westernmost of this archipelago, which extends to Denmark...

 but the English had to abandon the blockade. Tromp was killed early in the battle, a blow to morale, which increased the Dutch desire to end the war. Similar feelings arose in England. Although many had gained riches from the war (Dutch prizes taken during the war,about 1200 merchantmen or 8% of their total mercantile fleet, amounted to double the value of England's entire ocean-going merchant fleet), trade as a whole had suffered. Cromwell himself was exasperated that two Protestant nations should exhaust themselves in a useless conflict, while catholic Spain profited. He decided to begin negotiations in earnest with the four Dutch envoys having arrived in late June. Hostilities largely ended until the conclusion of peace.


Cromwell again put forward his plan for a political union between the two nations, but this was rejected by the States-General on 21 October, so emphatically that now for the first time Cromwell came to understand that the Dutch hadn't the slightest inclination to join the Commonwealth. He then, repeating the line of argument the English delegation had made two years previously, proposed a military alliance against Spain, promising to repeal the Navigation Act in return for Dutch assistance in the conquest of Spanish America. This too was rejected however. As a result Cromwell, more than a little annoyed, made a proposal of 27 articles, two of which were utterly unacceptable to the Dutch: that all Royalists had to be expelled and that Denmark, the ally of the Republic, should be abandoned in its war against Sweden. In the end Cromwell gave in, on 22 April 1654 the States-General accepted and peace was declared on 8 May 1654 with the signing of the Treaty of Westminster
Treaty of Westminster (1654)
The Treaty of Westminster was signed on 8 May 1654, which ended the First Anglo-Dutch War . Based on the terms of the accord, the United Provinces recognized Oliver Cromwell's Navigation Acts, which required that imports to the Commonwealth of England must be carried in English ships, or ships from...

, in which the Dutch at least agreed to respect the Navigation Acts
Navigation Acts
The English Navigation Acts were a series of laws that restricted the use of foreign shipping for trade between England and its colonies, a process which had started in 1651. Their goal was to force colonial development into lines favorable to England, and stop direct colonial trade with the...

—although in practice they never did. The treaty had a secret annex, the Act of Seclusion
Act of Seclusion
The Act of Seclusion is a secret annex in the Treaty of Westminster between the United Provinces and the Commonwealth of England in which William III, Prince of Orange, was excluded from the office of Stadtholder...

, forbidding the Dutch ever to appoint the son of the late stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

, the later William III of England
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

, to the position of his father. This clause, overtly a demand by Cromwell fearing the Orangists, was perhaps inserted on the covert wishes of the leading Dutch politicians, the new Grand Pensionary, the young republican Johan de Witt
Johan de Witt
Johan de Witt, heer van Zuid- en Noord-Linschoten, Snelrewaard, Hekendorp and IJsselveere was a key figure in Dutch politics in the mid 17th century, when its flourishing sea trade in a period of globalization made the United Provinces a leading European power during the Dutch Golden Age...

, and his uncle Cornelis de Graeff
Cornelis de Graeff
Cornelis de Graeff, also Cornelis de Graeff van Polsbroek was the most illustrious member of the De Graeff family. He was a mayor of Amsterdam from the Dutch Golden Age and a powerful Amsterdam regent after the sudden death of stadholder William II of Orange...


However, the commercial
While business refers to the value-creating activities of an organization for profit, commerce means the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural, and technological systems that are in operation in any...

 rivalry between the two nations was not resolved. Especially in the vast overseas empires, hostilities continued between Dutch and English trading companies, which had warships and troops of their own. The Dutch had started on a major shipbuilding programme to remedy the lack of ships of the line evident at the fleet battles of the Kentish Knock, the Gabbard, and Scheveningen. The admiralties were now forbidden by law to sell off these 60 new ships. The Second Anglo–Dutch War was in the making.


The First Anglo–Dutch War was the first war to be fought entirely at sea, with no operations aiming at landing or supporting troops on shore, although the Dutch made plans for a raid on the Medway
Medway is a conurbation and unitary authority in South East England. The Unitary Authority was formed in 1998 when the City of Rochester-upon-Medway amalgamated with Gillingham Borough Council and part of Kent County Council to form Medway Council, a unitary authority independent of Kent County...

. Naval tactics developed rapidly. Some historians see the war as the beginning of the end of Dutch trade dominance; others consider the war to have been of little significance in this respect.

See also

  • Anglo–Dutch Wars
  • Second Anglo-Dutch War
    Second Anglo-Dutch War
    The Second Anglo–Dutch War was part of a series of four Anglo–Dutch Wars fought between the English and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes....

  • Third Anglo-Dutch War
    Third Anglo-Dutch War
    The Third Anglo–Dutch War or Third Dutch War was a military conflict between England and the Dutch Republic lasting from 1672 to 1674. It was part of the larger Franco-Dutch War...

  • British military history
    British military history
    The Military history of Britain, including the military history of the United Kingdom and the military history of the island of Great Britain, is discussed in the following articles:...

  • History of England
    History of England
    The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago,...

  • History of the Netherlands
    History of the Netherlands
    The history of the Netherlands is the history of a maritime people thriving on a watery lowland river delta at the edge of northwestern Europe. When the Romans and written history arrived in 57 BC, the country was sparsely populated by various tribal groups at the periphery of the empire...

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