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Holland, relations with

Holland, relations with. English interest in the revolt of the Dutch protestants against Philip II of Spain led to direct intervention (1585), but only after all else had failed. Both the Dutch and English profited from their alliance against Spain, yet at times in the next century the Dutch threatened to eclipse the English as the two peoples competed and fought for trade, colonies, and command of the seas. Lord Shaftesbury commented in 1663 that the Dutch were ‘England's eternal enemy, both by interest and inclination’. Cromwell's navy had the better of the first Anglo-Dutch War (1652–4), but the Dutch were able to destroy much of the English fleet in the Medway in 1667. A third war (1672–4) was inconclusive. The political crisis in England of 1688 brought a Dutch prince, William of Orange, to the English throne, and the English and Dutch were allied in two wars against Louis XIV between 1689 and 1713. In due course the British emerged as much the stronger power. Holland was under French control for most of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Even Trafalgar failed to provide Britain with a lasting sense of security against the French presence in the Low Countries, and at Vienna in 1814–15 Castlereagh set out to create a strong north-eastern barrier against France, engineering what proved to be the short-lived union of Holland and Belgium. Of the Dutch colonies captured during war, only the Cape of Good Hope was retained. Britain tried in vain to assist the Dutch in their defence of the East Indies against Japan in 1942, but contributed to the short-lived restoration of their colonial rule after 1945.

C. J. Bartlett

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