Friday, May 11, 2007
The start of the First Anglo-Dutch War on 29 May 1652
This is probably not news, but I thought that my ideas about how the First Anglo-Dutch War was started were clarified by hearing the circumstances described. I just spent some time in the Netherlands, from Sunday afternoon to Thursday morning. We had a meeting on Wednesday morning where a friend described the start of the First Anglo-Dutch War. We had been talking about the power of guns (which may not be quite right, but in my present jet-lag addled state, it is the best I can do). We heard how on 29 May 1652, Robert Blake had a shot fired at Tromp's flagship, the Brederode. The purpose was ostensibly to demand that the Dutch fleet salute the English sovereignty in the prescribed fashion. The shot passed completely through the Brederode. After penetrating the near side, a Dutch sailor lost his arm to the shot from Blake's flagship. Tromp was so angered by this, and being already predisposed to resist, he returned fire with a broadside. This broadside effectively started the First Anglo-Dutch War (the Dutch call it the First English War, or Eerste Engelse Oorlog).