Today’s installment concludes The Dutch Crisis 1672,
our selection from History of Holland and the Dutch, 900 – 1799 by C.M. Davies.
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Previously in The Dutch Crisis 1672.
Time: 1672 – 78
In the more distant quarters of the world the war was carried on with various success. The French captured the ports of Trincomalee, in Ceylon, and St. Thomas, on the coast of Coromandel — which were, however, recovered in the next year — and made an unsuccessful attempt on Curajao. The English possessed themselves of the island of Tobago and seized four merchantmen returning from India. But, on the other hand, the States’ admiral, Evertson, made himself master of New York, and, attacking the Newfoundland ships, took or destroyed no less than sixty-five, and returned to Holland laden with booty.
The King of France, meanwhile, well satisfied to have secured at so easy a rate a powerful diversion of the forces of Holland, and the mutual enfeebling of the two most formidable maritime powers of Europe, cared little how the affairs of his ally prospered, so that he had been enabled to pursue the career of his conquests on land. Marching in person at the head of his troops he laid siege to Maestricht, a town famous for its gallant defense against the Duke of Parma in 1579, but which now, notwithstanding several brisk and murderous sallies, capitulated in less than a month. With this achievement the campaign of Louis ended. The progress of his arms, and the development of his schemes of ambition had now raised him up a phalanx of enemies, such as not even his presumption could venture to despise. He had planned and executed his conquests in full reliance on the cooperation or neutrality of the neighboring powers, and found himself in no condition to retain them in defiance of their actual hostility. He had, from the first, been strongly advised by Condé and Turenne to destroy the fortifications of the less important towns, retaining so many only of the larger as to insure the subjection of the provinces. He had, however, deemed it more consonant to his “glory” to follow the advice of Louvois in preserving all his conquests entire, and had thus been obliged to disperse a large portion of his army into garrisons, leaving the remainder, thinned, moreover, by sickness and desertion, wholly insufficient to make head against the increasing number of his opponents. He therefore came to the mortifying resolution of abandoning the United Provinces, the possession of which he had anticipated with so much pride.
This auspicious dawn of better fortunes to the provinces was followed by the long and ardently desired peace with England. The circumstances of the last battle, in which, as the English declared, “themselves, and the Dutch had been made the gladiators for the French spectators,” had more than ever disgusted that nation with the alliance of an ambitious and selfish monarch, who, they perceived, was but gratifying his own rapacity at the expense of their blood and treasure. Spain had threatened a rupture with England unless she would consent to a reasonable peace; and even Sweden herself had declared, during the conferences at Cologne, that she should be constrained to adopt a similar course if the King of France persisted in extending his conquests. Should a war with these nations occur, the English saw themselves deprived of the valuable commerce they carried on in their ports, to be transferred, most probably, to the United Provinces; in addition to which consideration, their navigation had already sustained excessive injury from the privateering of the Zealanders, who had captured, it is said, no less than twenty-seven hundred English merchant-ships. These, and various other causes, had provoked the Parliament to use expressions of the highest indignation at the measures of the court, and to a peremptory refusal of further supplies for the war unless the Dutch, by their obstinacy in rejecting terms of peace, should render its continuance unavoidable.
Aware of this disposition, the States had addressed a letter to the King, which, with sufficient adroitness, they had contrived should arrive precisely at the meeting of Parliament, offering the King restitution of all the places they had gained during the war, and satisfaction with respect to the flag, or “any other matter they had not already ordered according to his wishes.” This communication, received with feelings of extreme irritation by the court, had all the effect intended on the House of Commons. It was in vain that the King complained of the personal insults offered him by the Dutch; in vain that the chancellor expatiated on their obstinacy, arrogance, and enmity to the English; and that the court party remonstrated against the imprudence of exposing England defenseless to the power of her haughty enemy. The Parliament persisted in refusing the solicited supply; voted the standing army a grievance; bitterly complained of the French alliance, and resolved that his majesty should be advised to proceed in a treaty with the States-General, in order to a speedy peace.
A few days sufficed to accomplish a treaty; the Dutch obviating the principal difficulty by yielding the honor of the flag in the most ample manner. They now agreed that all their ships should lower their topsails and strike the flag upon meeting one or more English vessels bearing the royal standard, within the compass of the four seas, from Cape Finisterre to Staaten in Norway, and engaged to pay the King two million guilders for the expenses of the war.
Shortly after, the Bishops of Muenster and Cologne, alarmed at the probability of being abandoned by the French to the anger of the Emperor, who had threatened them with the ban of the empire, consented to a treaty with the United Provinces, in virtue of which they restored all the places they had conquered.
This ends our series of passages on The Dutch Crisis 1672 by C.M. Davies from his book History of Holland and the Dutch, 900 – 1799 published in . This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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