The Hapsburg Emperor, though hampered by his secret treaty with the King of France, joined Prussia on The Netherlands’ side.
Continuing The Dutch Crisis 1672,
our selection from History of Holland and the Dutch, 900 – 1799 by C.M. Davies. The selection is presented in eight easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in The Dutch Crisis 1672.
Time: 1672 – 78
Though it might well have been feared that the failure of all the enterprises of the Prince of Orange would have renewed the discontents lately prevalent in the United Provinces, such an effect was in no degree produced. The very boldness of the designs, it seemed, had been the cause of their ill-success, and argued a zeal and activity for the public good which inspired unbounded confidence in his future measures. The appearance of renovated vigor in the United Provinces, moreover, encouraged surrounding states to make some demonstrations in their favor. They had wished to see them humbled, but not destroyed. The Emperor and princes of Germany, in especial, contemplated with dread the prospect of exchanging the neighborhood of the inoffensive and industrious people, who rarely appeared to them in any other light than as the dispensers of abundance, wealth, and luxury, for that of an ambitious and unscrupulous monarch, whose glory was in destruction, and from whose encroachments their boundaries would be for not one moment safe.
Though deeply imbued with these sentiments, the Elector of Brandenburg had hitherto been deterred from lending them any assistance, lest, should they be forced to make a peace with the King of France, the whole power and vengeance of that monarch might be directed against himself. He now induced the Emperor Leopold to enter into an alliance with him, by virtue of which he levied a force of twenty-four thousand men, to be joined with an equal number furnished by himself, for the purpose of opposing the advances of Louis. Though the secret treaty which the Emperor had made with France, binding himself not to afford aid to any member of the Triple Alliance, and of which the Elector was in ignorance, limited the employment of the imperial army strictly to the protection of the empire, and consequently prevented it from marching at once to the support of the provinces, its movement was of considerable advantage to their affairs, in calling off Turenne from Bois-le-Duc, to which he had laid siege, to the defense of the places on the Rhine. The Bishops of Muenster and Cologne, also, whom the brave defense of the garrison of Groningen had forced to raise the siege, were under the necessity of abandoning both that province and Guelderland, and hastening to the protection of their own territories.
Among the benefits which the Dutch anticipated with the utmost confidence as the consequence of the elevation of the Prince of Orange to his paternal dignities was the appeasing the hostility of his uncle, the King of England. In this, however, they were wholly deceived. On the meeting of Parliament in this year, the chancellor, Shaftesbury, addressed the two Houses in a strain of hostile feeling to the Dutch nation, more bitter than the court as yet ventured to express. He represented that, “besides the personal indignities in the way of pictures, medals, and other public affronts which the King received from the States, they came at last to such a height of insolence as to deny him the honor of the flag, though an undoubted jewel of the crown, and disputed the King’s title to it in all the courts of Europe, making great offers to the French King if he would stand by them in this particular.
“But both kings, knowing their own interest, resolved to join against them, who were the common enemies of all monarchies, but especially the English, their only competitor in commerce and naval power, and the chief obstacle to their attainment of the dominion they aimed at, a dominion as universal as that of Rome; and so intoxicated were they with that vast ambition that under all their present distress and danger they haughtily rejected every overture for a treaty or a cessation of arms; that the war was a just and necessary measure, advised by the Parliament itself from the conviction that, at any rate, Delenda est Carthago — such a government must be destroyed; and that therefore the King may well say it was their war; which had never been begun, but that the States refused him satisfaction because they believed him to be in so great want of money that they must sit down under any affronts.”
But the Parliament, always disinclined to the war, had now begun to view it with absolute aversion; and though moved, by the King’s representations of the embarrassed condition he should be reduced to if the supply were refused, to yield a subsidy of seventy thousand pounds a month for eighteen months, they forced him to pay a high price for their complaisance by extorting his consent to the “Test Act.” By the operation of this act, the Duke of York, the inveterate enemy of the Dutch, and Sir Thomas Clifford, the minister who had the most zealously pushed forward the business of the war, were forced to resign their offices. With the funds granted him by Parliament, Charles was enabled to complete the equipment of a fleet, which, when joined to a squadron of French ships under D’Estrées, numbered one hundred fifty sail.
The Prince of Orange had wisely continued De Ruyter in the command of the fleet as lieutenant-admiral of the provinces, with almost unlimited instructions, and suffered himself to be wholly guided by him in naval affairs, interfering only so far as to reinstate Tromp in the office of admiral under the College of Amsterdam, and to effect a perfect reconciliation between him and De Ruyter — a matter which the placable and magnanimous temper of the latter rendered of easy accomplishment. Having failed in a scheme of blocking up the Thames by means of sinking vessels in the bed of that river, De Ruyter stationed himself at Schooneveldt, with the purpose of protecting the coast of Zealand against a meditated descent of the enemy. While at anchor he descried the hostile fleet approaching; but a calm, succeeded by rough weather, prevented them for some days from coming to an engagement.
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