Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Third Dutch War

Two days after the Declaration of Indulgence (17 March) Charles declared war on the Dutch. At the same time he gave new titles to Arlington (who became an earl) and Ashley (created Earl of Shaftesbury). But this war went badly for England. The main engagement was the indecisive battle off Southwold (Sole Bay) on 28 May 1672, where two English flagships were sunk and Pepys’s patron, the earl of Sandwich was drowned. ‘The two sides fought to a grudging standstill, their heroisms mutually acknowledged.’

On 30 May 120,000 French troops crossed the Rhine and soon occupied Utrecht. The Dutch responded by flooding their dykes but this strategy could only be temporary - the French could advance one they froze in the winter. The result of this massive crisis in the United Provinces was the downfall (and murder) of the Pensionary, Johan de Witt, and his brother Cornelius and the appointment of William of Orange as Stadtholder.