Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Colorful characters

The English and Dutch navies, in the First Anglo-Dutch War, were filled with colorful characters, like Witte de With, Michiel De Ruyter, Robert Blake, and William Penn. In the Netherlands, the environment was fired by the ongoing conflict between the Royalists (the Orangists) and the Republicans. Witte de With was a rabid Republican, which made him a very unpopular man. Often, his ill temper is blamed, but more important factors were his demand for every man to fight bravely, without regard for risk to his person, his rivalry with the Orangist Maarten Tromp, and his ardent Republicanism.

On the English side, there were the radical supporters of Cromwell, especially Richard Deane, and less so, Robert Blake. Then there were closet Royalists, such as William Penn. At one point, William Penn had offered to bring ships and men over to the Royalists. He was a suspect, and at one point was imprisoned, but he survived until the Restoration, where he was a trusted advisor to the Duke of York. After his death, Charles II deeded land in America to the Penn family, in honor of the elder William Penn's service to the Royal family, the navy, and England.

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