Battle of the Downs

The naval Battle of the Downs took place on 21 October 1639 (New Style), during the Eighty Years' War, and was a decisive defeat of the Spanish, commanded by Admiral Antonio de Oquendo, by the United Provinces, commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp.

Coordinates: 51°12′N 1°30′E / 51.2°N 1.5°E

Battle of the Downs
Part of the Eighty Years' War
The battle of the downs, by willem van de velde

The Battle of the Downs by Willem van de Velde, 1659. RijksMuseum.
Date21 October 1639
Result Decisive Dutch victory
Spain Spain  United Provinces
Commanders and leaders
Spain Antonio de Oquendo Dutch Republic Maarten Tromp
38–53 warships (Dutch claim)[1] 95 warships[2]
Casualties and losses
6,000–7,000 men
25–43 ships lost
100–1,000 men
1–10 ships lost


The entry (in 1635) of France into the Thirty Years War had blocked off the overland "Spanish Road" to Flanders. To support the Spanish army of Flanders of Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, the Spanish navy had to ferry supplies by sea via Dunkirk, the last Spanish-controlled port on the North Sea coast. A Spanish fleet, under admiral Lope de Hoces y Córdova, had managed to make the trip to Dunkirk in 1636 and again in 1637, without being spotted by Dutch squadrons. In 1638, the French invaded Spain, and laid siege to Fuentarrabia. Lope de Hoces was hurriedly dispatched to rescue the city, but his fleet was destroyed by the French navy under Henri de Sourdis while it lay at anchor near Getaria. As the remainder of the Spanish navy was engaged on missions in the Mediterranean and Brazil, there were not enough ships left to attempt the Dunkirk passage that year.

In the spring of 1639, the Count-Duke of Olivares ordered the construction and assembly of a new fleet at A Coruña for a new relief jaunt to Dunkirk. 29 warships were assembled in four squadrons, soon joined by an additional 22 warships (also in four squadrons) from the Spanish Mediterranean fleet. Twelve English transport ships also arrived, contracted to carry the Spanish army under the flag of English neutrality. Lope de Hoces was offered overall command, but he turned it down. As a result, the command passed to Antonio de Oquendo, commander of the Mediterranean fleet. Oquendo was under instructions to assume a half-moon formation, to induce the Dutch into a boarding battle. The flagship was placed on the right wing (rather than the center), as that is where it was expected the Dutch firepower would come from. In a curious decision, ships of different squadrons were mixed through the formation, an attempt to ensure that the smaller ships would be supported by larger ones. The vanguard was to be composed of the seven-ship "Dunkirk squadron" commanded by Miguel de Horna, in light of their experience with the channel.

The Dutch States-General made their own preparations. From intelligence networks, the Dutch learned that the Spanish fleet might attempt to make for the anchorage known as The Downs, off the English coast, between Dover and Deal. There they could anchor under protection of English neutrality and ferry the army and supplies on smaller, fast boats across the English Channel to Dunkirk. The States-General ordered a fleet of 23 warships and some fireships, under the overall command of Maarten Tromp, into the channel to prevent this eventuality, while the rest of the Dutch fleet was still being prepared. Tromp was under instructions to watch for and, if necessary, harass and delay the Spanish fleet, but was forbidden from engaging them in battle until the rest of the Dutch fleet, some fifty vessels under Johan Evertsen, had been launched and joined them. Setting out, Tromp divided his fleet into three squadrons. One squadron of fifteen ships, under rear admiral Joost Banckert, was dispatched to a position north of the Downs, in case the Spanish fleet had circumvented the British Isles and was coming from that side, and a second squadron of six ships under Witte de With was put inside the English Channel, on patrol by the English coast, while Tromp himself took the remaining 12 ships to patrol the French side of the channel.

Opening phase

The Spanish fleet of 75 ships and 24,000 soldiers and sailors set out on 27 August from A Coruña (in another calculation, 51 galleons, with the troops carried aboard 7 pataches and 12 English transports; on the whole, an estimated 8,000 sailors and 8,000 troops). The fleet reached the mouth of the English Channel on 11 September. On 15 September they learned from a passing English ship that a Dutch squadron was anchored near Calais.

On the morning of 16 September the Spanish fleet spotted the 12-ship squadron of Maarten Tromp near the French coast. Tromp immediately dispatched one of his ships to warn Banckert, leaving him with only 11. De With's squadron were visible at a distance, but too late to reach Tromp. With odds of 57 against 11, Oquedo could probably have made for Dunkirk directly, and there would have been little Tromp could to do stop it. But Oquedo could not resist the chance to make battle with such favorable odds.

Perhaps not realizing the size of the Spanish fleet, Tromp did not decline battle but rather ordered his squadron into a tight line of battle. Believing Tromp's squad was attempting to slip past his right wing, Oquendo impetuously ordered his flagship to turn hard to starboard, hoping to board Tromp's flagship. This maneouver, however, was effected without warning the rest of the Spanish fleet. Some of the ships near Oquendo turned with him, others were confused and maintained bearing. The half-moon formation quickly disintegrated, and only the Dunkirk squadron and the galleon San Juan kept up with the Spanish flagship's pursuit of Tromp.

Had Oquendo given the order for a line, the immense Spanish fleet could have probably encircled and dispatched the Dutch squadron in a few hours. But Oquendo seemed intent on boarding the Dutch flagship. When he finally decided to turn for a shot, he did it too late and sailed past the Tromp's poop. Trying to correct his error, Oquendo attempted to board the second ship in the Dutch column. The latter also avoided him. Oquendo's flagship and one of the Dunkirk ships, the Santiago, were now downwind and on the receiving end of the cannonades of the remaining nine ships of the Dutch column. Tromp turned his column and went for another round on the Santiago. Oquendo, the other six Dunkirk ships and the San Juan, unable to turn upwind, fired as they could. The artillery did little damage, but Spanish musketry picked off many on the Dutch decks.

This encounter lasted for three hours, in the course of which the Dutch ship Groot Christoffel accidentally exploded. By noon, the six ships of the De With column had reached Tromp, and increased his number to 16. Although the rest of the Spanish fleet remained dispersed and disorganized, many units had finally turned and were also approaching from the other side. For Tromp, this was building up into a dangerous situation, as the Spanish units upwind would cut off his exit, and force the Dutch squadron to turn into the shoals of the bay of Boulogne and almost certainly run aground. But at this moment, Oquendo ordered the Spanish fleet to resume a half-moon formation. The Spanish ships turned, allowing Tromp's squadron to turn also, gain the wind, and escape the danger.

There were no more engagements that evening. The fleets anchored in, and the next day, rear-admiral Joost Banckert arrived, bringing the total Dutch fleet to thirty-two. But there was no engagement, just preparations for what was to become known as the Action of 18 September 1639.

The Spanish, whose priority was to protect the troops, not to endanger them by continuing the battle, were driven to take refuge off the coast of England, in the anchorage known as The Downs between Dover and Deal, near an English squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral John Pennington. They hoped the usual autumn storms would soon disperse the Dutch fleet. Tromp, as always, endured De With's insubordination with complacency. In a famous scene, described by De With himself, he entered Tromp's cabin after the battle with his face sooty, his clothes torn, and limping from a leg wound. Tromp looked up from his desk and asked: "Are you alright, De With?" De With replied: "What do you think? Would I have been if you had come to help me?"

On the evening of the 28th, Tromp and De With withdrew to resupply, as they were short on gunpowder. They feared they had failed in their mission until they rediscovered the Spanish at the Downs on the 30th. Together, they blockaded the Spanish and sent urgently to the Netherlands for reinforcements. The five Dutch admiralties hired any large armed merchant ship they could find. Many joined voluntarily, hoping for a rich bounty. By the end of October, Tromp had 95 ships and 12 fire ships.

Meanwhile, the Spanish, who earlier had managed to sneak 13 or 14 Dunkirker frigates through the blockade, began to transport their troops and money to Flanders on British ships under an English flag. Tromp stopped this by searching the English vessels and detaining any Spanish troops he found. Uneasy about the possible English reaction to this, he pretended to Pennington to be worried by his secret orders from the States-General. He showed him, "confidentially", a missive commanding him to attack the Spanish armada wherever it might be located and to prevent by force of arms any interference by a third power.

Legend also says that Tromp formally asked de Oquendo why he refused battle though he had superior firepower. De Oquendo replied that his fleet had to be repaired first, but that he could not obtain masts and other materials now that the Dutch blockaded him. On learning this, Tromp supplied the Spanish with the necessary materials for repair. Nevertheless, they did not leave the English coast.

The battle

Reinier Nooms - Before the Battle of the Downs - c.1639
Before the Battle of the Downs by Reinier Nooms, circa 1639, depicting the Dutch blockade off the English coast, the vessel shown is the Aemilia, Tromp's flagship.

On 31 October, an easterly wind giving him the weather gage, Tromp having dispatched 30 ships under De With to watch the English and prevent them from interfering,[3] kept two squadrons to the north (under Cornelis Jol) and the south (under Commodore Jan Hendriksz de Nijs) to block escape routes and attacked with three squadrons. Some of the large, unmanoeuverable Spanish ships panicked on approach of the Dutch fleet and grounded themselves deliberately; they were immediately plundered by the English populace, present in great numbers to watch the uncommon spectacle. Others tried a planned breakthrough.

De Oquendo's Royal Flagship, the Santiago, came out first followed by the Santa Teresa, the Portuguese flagship. Five blazing fireships were sent into the Spanish ships. The first Spanish ship could disengage and avoid three of the fireships at the last moment, but these hit the following Santa Teresa, who had just managed to repel the attack of the other two. Too big (the biggest ship in the Spanish/Portuguese fleet) and slow to manoeuvre, and with no time to react, the Santa Teresa was finally grappled and set on fire by one fire ship. With Admiral Lope de Hoces already dead from his wounds, she fiercely burned with great loss of life.

The Portuguese ships were intercepted by the squadron of the Zeelandic Vice-Admiral Johan Evertsen who launched his fireships against them: most Portuguese ships were taken or destroyed, leaving according to some reports 15,200 dead and 1,800 prisoner. The number of dead is today considered as greatly exaggerated; for example, it does not take into account that a third of the troops had already reached Flanders. De Oquendo managed to escape in the fog with about ten ships, most of them Dunkirkers, and reach Dunkirk. Nine of the ships driven ashore during the battle could be later refloated and also reached Dunkirk.[4]


According to the Spanish naval historian Cesáreo Fernández Duro, of the 38 ships that attempted to break the Dutch blockade, twelve ran aground on the Downs (of which nine were refloated and managed to reach Dunkirk), one was burnt by a Dutch fireship, nine surrendered (of which three were so damaged that they sank on the way to port) and three ran aground on the coasts of France or Flanders to avoid capture.[5]
The French diplomat Comte d'Estrades, in a letter to Cardinal Richelieu, claimed that the Spanish had lost thirteen ships burnt or sunk, sixteen captured with 4,000 prisoners, and lost fourteen off the coasts of France and Flanders,[6] a figure higher than the number of Spanish ships present at the Downs.[7] D'Estrades also reported in his letter that the Dutch had lost ten ships sunk or burnt.[6] This source is cited by Jean Le Clerc in his Histoire des Provinces-Unies des Pays-Bas.[8]
The Portuguese Admiral and historian Ignacio Costa Quintella gives figures of 43 ships and 6,000 men lost by the Spanish and some ships and more than 1,000 men by the Dutch.[9]
The Dutch sources only mention the loss of one Dutch ship that got entangled with the Santa Teresa and about a hundred persons dead. Historian M.G de Boer's extensively researched book about the subject confirms this and puts Spanish losses in ships and men at about 40[1] and 7000[10] respectively.


The celebrated Dutch victory marked a significant moment in the shifting balance of naval power. Even if the Spanish mission was a failure, the larger part of the infantry troops managed to reach Flanders with all the money. Of the ships that succeeded in breaking through the blockade, many were severely damaged. Spain, straining under the vast commitments of the Thirty Years War, was in no position to rebuild its naval dominance.[11] Fighting over trade continued between Dutch and Dunkirker forces and the convoy itself was just one of a number; but these convoys paid a heavy price in lives and ships in running the Dutch blockades. These complicated operations in the Low Countries had left the overall Spanish Habsburg forces and finances in a precarious situation.[12] The Dutch, English and French were quick to take advantage by seizing some small Spanish island possessions in the Caribbean. But by far the worst effects for Spain were the increased difficulties it suffered in maintaining its position in the Southern Netherlands.

Tromp was hailed as a hero on his return and was rewarded with 10,000 guldens, invoking the jealousy of De With who only got 1,000. De With wrote some anonymous pamphlets painting Tromp as avaricious and himself as the real hero of the battle. With Spain gradually losing its dominant naval position, England weak, and France not yet in possession of a strong navy, the Dutch allowed their own navy to diminish greatly after a peace treaty was signed in 1648. So, with an ineffective naval administration and ships that were too light and too few in number, they were to find themselves at a serious disadvantage in their coming struggles with the English. However, they were able to maintain their large mercantile advantage over the English, entering into a period of increasing Dutch maritime superiority, both mercantile and naval, from the Second Anglo-Dutch War, until the onset of the 18th century.

The Battle of the Downs was a flagrant violation of English neutrality within sight of the English coast. For the English, the inability of their navy and nearby coastal forts such as Deal Castle to intervene was a humiliation. Lingering resentment from this incident may have influenced the breakout of the First Anglo-Dutch War, not far from the Downs at the Battle of Goodwin Sands in 1652.

Order of battle

The Netherlands (Maarten Tromp)

(not complete: the contemporaneous Dutch sources give only lists of participating captains; in many cases it is unknown which ship they commanded)
26 September:
Aemilia 57 (Tromp, flagcaptain Barend Barendsz Cramer) Rotterdam
Frederik Hendrik 36 (Pieter Pietersz de Wint) Amsterdam; on 31 October this was Witte de With's flagship
Hollandsche Tuyn 32 (Lambert IJsbrandszoon Halfhoorn) Northern Quarter (Noorderkwartier)
Salamander 40 (Laurens Pietersz Backhuysen) - WIC ship
Gelderland 34 (Willem van Colster) Rotterdam
Sampson 32 (Claes Cornelisz Ham) Noorderkwartier
Omlandia 28 (Jan Gerbrandszoon) Frisia
Groot Christoffel 28 (hired by Noorderkwartier admiralty, Frederick Pieterszoon) - blew up on 26 September
Deventer 28 (Robert Post) Amsterdam
Gideon 24 (Hendrick Jansz Kamp) Frisia
Meerminne 28 (Jan Pauluszoon) Zealand
Veere 32 (Cornelis Ringelszoon) Zealand

Reinforcements 27 September:
Maeght van Dordrecht 42 (Vice-Admiral Witte de With) Rotterdam
Overijssel 24 (Jacques Forant) Amsterdam
Utrecht 30 (Gerrit Meyndertsz den Uyl) Amsterdam
Sint Laurens 32 (A.Dommertszoon)
Bommel 28 (Sybrant Barentsz Waterdrincker) Amsterdam

Reinforcements 28 September:
Banckert squadron:
't Wapen van Zeeland 28 (Vice-Admiral Joost Banckert) Zealand
Zeeridder 34 (Frans Jansz van Vlissingen) Zealand
Zutphen 28 (Joris van Cats) Amsterdam
Walcheren 28 (Jan Theunisz Sluis) Amsterdam
't Wapen van Holland 39 (Lieven Cornelisz de Zeeuw) Noorderkwartier
Neptunis 33 (Albert 't Jongen Hoen) Noorderkwartier
Amsterdam 10 (Pieter Barentsz Dorrevelt) Amsterdam
Drenthe 16 (Gerrit Veen) Amsterdam
Rotterdam 10 (Joris Pietersz van den Broecke) Frisia
Arnemuyden 22 (Adriaen Jansz de Gloeyende Oven) Zealand
Ter Goes 24 (Abraham Crijnssen) Zealand
Friesland 22 (Tjaert de Groot) Frisia

After reinforcements 31 September
Evertsen squadron:
Vlissingen 34 (Vice-Admiral Johan Evertsen, flagcaptain Frans Jansen) Zealand

De With squadron: thirty ships, four fireships

Jol squadron, seven ships:
Jupiter (Cornelis Cornelisz Jol "Houtebeen") WIC

De Nijs squadron, eight ships

Spain (Antonio de Oquendo)

Order of Battle of the Spanish Armada, 6 September 1639 (Orden de Batalla en media Luna). Total is 75 ships. Dates are now NS.

Name guns (squadron/type/commander etc.) - Fate

Santiago 60 (Castile) - Capitana Real or Royal Flagship. Escaped into Dunkirk, 1 November 1639
San Antonio (pinnace) (Masibradi) - Driven ashore 31 October
San Agustin (pinnace) (Martin Ladron de Guevara) - Driven ashore 31 October
Santa Teresa 60 (Portugal) - Don Lope de Hoces, commander. Destroyed in action 31 October
San Jeronimo
San Agustin (Naples) - Vice-Admiral. Driven ashore 31 October, sunk 3 or 4 days later
El Gran Alejandro (Martin Ladron de Guevara) - Taken by the Dutch
Santa Ana (Portugal)
San Sebastian
Santa Catalina (Guipuzcoa) - Driven ashore 31 October
San Lazaro
San Blas (Masibradi) - Driven ashore 31 October
San Jerónimo (Masibradi) - Burnt in the Downs 31 October
San Nicolas
Santiago (Castile) - Burnt off Dover on the night of 2 November
San Juan Bautista (Guipuzcoa) - Sunk 31 October
Esquevel 16 (hired Dane) - Captured 28 September
San Jose (Dunkirk)
Los Angeles (Castile) - Driven ashore 31 October
Santiago (Portugal) - Driven ashore 31 October
Delfin Dorado (Naples) - Driven ashore 31 October
San Antonio (Naples) - Driven ashore 31 October
San Juan Evangelista (Dunkirk)
El Pingue (hired ship) - Sunk in the Downs 31 October
San Carlos (Masibradi)
San Nicolas (Masibradi)
San Miguel
Orfeo 44 (Naples) - Lost on the Goodwin sands 31 October
San Vicente Ferrer (Dunkerque)
San Martin (Dunkerque)
Nuestra Senora de Monteagudo (Dunkerque) - Escaped into Dunkirk 1 November
Santiago 60? (Galicia) - Captured 31 October
? (flag of Masibradi) - Captured 28 September, retaken same day, escaped to Dunkirk, 1 November, wrecked 4 days later
Santo Tomas (Martin Ladron de Guevara) - Driven ashore 31 October
Nuestra Senora de Luz
Santa Clara
San Gedeon (Dunkerque)
San Jacinto
San Carlos (Dunkerque) - Sunk 31 October
Santo Cristo de Burgos (San Josef) - Lost off the French coast 31 October
San Paulo (Masibradi)
San Miguel
La Corona (hired ship)
La Presa or San Pablo La Presa (Castile)
San Esteban (Martin Ladron de Guevara) - Captured 31 October
San Pedro de la Fortuna (hired ship) - Driven ashore but got off, 31 October
Los Angeles (hired ship)
Aguila Imperial
La Mujer
Santo Domingo de Polonia (hired Polish ship) - Driven ashore 31 October
San Jose (flagship of Vizcaya) - Captured 31 October
San Salvador (flagship of Dunkirk) - Escaped into Dunkirk 1 November
São Baltasar (Vice-Admiral of Portugal) - 800 tons. Back at Lisbon in 1640
San Francisco 50? (Rear-Admiral of Dunkerque) - Escaped into Dunkirk 1 November
San Pedro el Grande (flagship of Ladron de Guevara)
Santiago (Martin Ladron de Guevara)
Jesus Maria (pinnace)
San Pedro Martir (urca) (hired ship) - Driven ashore 31 October
Fama (Urca) (hired ship) - Driven ashore 31 October
Santa Cruz (Masibradi)
San Daniel (Guipuzcoa) - Driven ashore 31 October
San Juan Evangelista (hired ship of Hamburg) - Driven ashore 31 October
Santa Agnes (frigate) (Naples) - Stranded but got off, 3 November
Grune? (Castile) - Driven ashore, 31 October 1639
Santa Teresa (Saetia) (Castile) - Taken by a French privateer 31 October
Exchange (hired English transport) - All 8 English transports put into Plymouth 13 September, and reached the Downs 22 October, where they were detained
Peregrine (hired English transport)
Assurance (hired English transport)
5 other hired English transports

See also


  1. ^ a b (in Dutch)Tromp en de armada van 1639, p.127
  2. ^ (in Dutch)Schittering en schandaal, Biografie van Maerten en Cornelis Tromp., p.84
  3. ^ (in Dutch)Tromp en de armada van 1639, p.114
  4. ^ Cesáreo Fernández Duro, Armada española desde la unión de los reinos de Castilla y de León, Est. tipográfico Sucesores de Rivadeneyra, Madrid, 1898, Vol. IV, pp. 215-216
  5. ^ Fernández Duro, p. 221
  6. ^ a b Comte d'Estrades, p. 45
  7. ^ Fernández Duro, p. 231
  8. ^ Le Clerc, p. 194
  9. ^ Costa Quintanella, p. 353
  10. ^ (in Dutch)Tromp en de armada van 1639, p.132
  11. ^ For instance, a 1637 convoy commanded by Lope de Hoces captured 32 enemy vessels in the Channel on its return voyage. Wilson, Peter H. A History of the Thirty Years' War Allan Lane (Penguin) 2009 p.651
  12. ^ p. Wilson, Peter H. A History of the Thirty Years' War Allan Lane (Penguin) 2009 p.651


  • Cesáreo Fernández Duro (1898). Armada Española desde la unión de los reinos de Castilla y Aragón. IV. Est. tipográfico Sucesores de Rivadeneyra.
  • Godefroi Louis Estrades (comte d'), Charles Colbert de Croissy (marquis), Jean-Antoine de Mesmes Avaux (comte d') (1743). Lettres, memoires et négociations de Monsieur le comte d'Estrades: tant en qualité d'ambassadeur de S. M. T. C. en Italie, en Angleterre & en Hollande, que comme ambassadeur plénipotentiaire à la paix de Nimegue, conjointement avec Messieurs Colbert & comte d'Avaux. 1. J. Nourse.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Jean Le Clerc (1728). Histoire des Provinces-Unies des Pays-Bas, depuis la naissance de la République jusqu'à la Paix d'Utrecht & le Traité de la Barrière en 1716. Avec les principales médailles et leur explication. 2. L'Honoré et Chatelain.
  • Ignacio da Costa Quintella (1839). Annaes da marinha portugueza. Acad. das sci. de Lisboa.
  • George Edmundson (1906). "Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange". In Adolphus William Ward (ed.). Cambridge Modern History. 4. Cambridge University Press.
  • Oliver Warner (1981). Great Sea Battles. Cambridge Ferndale Edns.
  • R. B Prud'homme van Reine (2001). Schittering en schandaal - Biografie van Maerten en Cornelis Tromp. Arbeiderspers.
  • Francis Vere (1955). Salt in their blood: The lives of the famous Dutch admirals. Cassell.
  • J.C.M. Warnsick (1938). Drie zeventiende-eeuwsche admiraals. Piet Heyn, Witte de With, Jan Evertsen. van Kampen.
  • J.C.M. Warnsick (1941). 12 doorluchtige zeehelden. van Kampen.
  • Dr M.G De Boer (1941). Tromp en de armada van 1639.


was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar, the 1639th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 639th year of the 2nd millennium, the 39th year of the 17th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1630s decade. As of the start of 1639, the Gregorian calendar was

10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1639 in England

Events from the year 1639 in England.

Action of 18 September 1639

This battle took place between 17 and 19 September 1639 when a Dutch squadron under Admiral Maarten Tromp and Admiral Witte Corneliszoon de With, met with a much larger but poorly led Spanish fleet under Antonio D'Oquendo, consisting of 40 to 45 men–of–war and 40 to 50 transport vessels filled with some 13,000 Spanish soldiers who were being transported to Dunkirk. Tromp with 12 ships spotted the Spanish fleet on the 16th, but waited for de With to arrive with five more ships before attacking. Despite his numerical inferiority Tromp got the upper hand in a running fight which lasted into the night. The next day, Zeeland Commodore Joost Banckert, arrived to reinforce the Dutch with 12 more ships. Fighting continued until the Dutch ran out of gunpowder when D'Oquendo retreated to the roadstead of the Downs hoping on English protection which would eventually lead to the Battle of the Downs, where D'Oquendo was decisively defeated.

This fight is notable because Tromp used the line of battle for the first time.

Admiralty of Friesland

The Admiralty of Fryslân or Frisian Admiralty (Dutch: Admiraliteit van Friesland or Friese Admiraliteit; West Frisian: Fryske Admiraliteit) was one of the five Dutch admiralties of the Dutch Republic. Set up on 6 March 1596, it was dissolved in 1795 during the reforms by the Batavian Republic.

Adriaen Banckert

Adriaen van Trappen Banckert (c.1615 – 22 April 1684) was a Dutch admiral. In English literature he is sometimes known as Banckers. His first name is often rendered in the modern spelling Adriaan. Van Trappen was the original family name, but the family was also and better known under the name of Banckert. In the 17th century Netherlands such a situation was solved by combining the two names.

He was born, probably in Vlissingen or Flushing, somewhere between 1615 and 1620 as the second and middle son of Rear-Admiral Joost van Trappen Banckert and Adriana Jansen. Both his brothers were navy captains, serving the Admiralty of Zealand also.

Adriaen started his career on the ship of his father, fighting the Dunkirkers. In 1639, at the Battle of the Downs, Adriaen was master on that ship. In 1642 he became a captain himself.

During the First Anglo-Dutch War Adriaen was flagcaptain of the Zealandic Vice-Admiral Johan Evertsen on the Hollandia. In the Battle of Portland in 1653 his elder brother Joost was killed; he himself was taken prisoner the same year when his ship foundered during the Battle of Scheveningen.

During the Northern Wars he fought in 1658 against the Swedish fleet in the Battle of the Sound as captain of the Seeridder and subcommander of the squadron of Vice-Admiral Witte de With. Though the battle was a Dutch victory, Adriaen because of adverse currents failed to assist De With when the Brederode was grounded and surrounded. De With was fatally wounded. During the winter campaign of 1659, the Seeridder lost all her anchors by a storm, grounded and then was frozen solid near Hven. The Swedish army tried to exploit this situation by sending a company of soldiers over the ice to destroy the ship, but Banckert beat off all attacks for three days, until he could work his ship free. Banckert was granted a special audience by Frederick III of Denmark who personally thanked him for the courage shown. The Admiralty of Zealand honoured him with a golden chain worth a hundred golden dollars.

When in 1664 the Second Anglo-Dutch War threatened, the five Dutch admiralties appointed many new flag officers. Banckert was made Rear-Admiral of the Zealandic admiralty on 16 December 1664 and soon after temporary Vice-Admiral. After the Battle of Lowestoft in which his younger brother Johan was killed, he was appointed Vice-Admiral on 15 July 1665. In 1666 he participated in the Four Days Battle; in the St James' Day Battle his ship the Thoolen sank and he was forced to move his flag to the Ter Veere. He managed to cover the retreat of the Dutch fleet on the second day of the battle. In that fight Zealandic Lieutenant-Admiral Johan Evertsen was killed and Banckert was appointed as Lieutenant-Admiral of Zealand on 5 September 1666, and thus held the highest navy rank of that province. In 1667 because of recruiting problems, Banckert was too late with his squadron to participate in the actual Raid on the Medway.

In the four naval battles of the Third Anglo-Dutch War Banckert played an important role, especially by fighting the French squadron within the combined Anglo-French fleet. At the Battle of Solebay Banckert managed to lure away the French fleet allowing the main Dutch force under Lieutenant-Admiral Michiel de Ruyter to attack the English fleet with some parity. In the first action of the double Battle of Schooneveld the French fleet broke formation to attack Banckert's squadron, which allowed Lieutenant-Admiral-General De Ruyter to split the French squadron and outmanoeuvre the allies. In the second action Banckert's attack drove the French away. In the Battle of Texel Banckert managed to prevent a joining of the French and English fleet, again allowing De Ruyter to fight the English with more equal forces. Because of the crucial part he played in these battles Banckert's fame among the French and English was assured; ironically in The Netherlands his importance wasn't understood by the larger part of the population, also because most writers were Hollandic and felt little inclination to honour a Zealandic hero.

In 1674, he joined with Hollandic Lieutenant-Admirals Cornelis Tromp and Aert Jansse van Nes in the expedition against the French coast, in which the island of Noirmoutier was taken and devastated. When Tromp took his squadron to join the Spanish, the command of the remainder of the Dutch fleet was given to Van Nes, although Banckert had seniority. Banckert didn't show his discontent with this situation to his friend Van Nes, but did express his offended feelings in a letter to the Zealandic admiralty. They shared his opinion and decided never again to send out their Lieutenant-Admiral in a confederate expedition, to make sure he wouldn't be humiliated by the Hollanders. This way Banckert left active service on 3 December 1674, though remaining commander of the Zealandic fleet. In 1678 he joined the admiralty council, which was exceptional for a navy officer. He died in Middelburg, where he was buried in St Peter's Church.

Antonio de Oquendo

Antonio de Oquendo (October 1577 in San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa – 7 June 1640, in A Coruña) was a Spanish admiral; in 1639 he was in command of the Spanish forces at the Battle of the Downs.

Battle of the Gulf of Cadiz (1604)

The Battle of the Gulf of Cádiz was a naval action which occurred on 7 August 1604, during the very last days of the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). The battle took place when a flotilla of two galleons commanded by Antonio de Oquendo engaged two English privateers who were plundering shipping lanes and villages around the Gulf of Cádiz. One of the English ships was captured and the other damaged. Later in his life, Antonio de Oquendo led the Spanish fleet that was utterly defeated by the Dutch at the Battle of the Downs in 1639. Oquendo's action off Cádiz is notable for having been fought just 21 days before the signing of the Treaty of London, which ended the protracted war between England and Spain.

Cornelis Evertsen the Elder

Cornelis Evertsen the Elder (4 August 1610 – 11 June 1666) was a Dutch admiral.

Cornelis Evertsen the Elder was the son of Johan Evertsen and Maayken Jans; grandson of Evert Heindricxsen, a Watergeus, both commanders of men-of-war of the navy of Zealand.

When his father was killed in battle in 1617, the Admiralty of Zealand appointed all five of his sons as Lieutenant, including Cornelis (or Kees) and his oldest brother Johan, despite their young age. This exceptional favour was granted in recognition of the great merits of the father and of course prevented his family from becoming destitute.

In 1626 Cornelis is first mentioned as actually serving on sea, during a privateering raid. On 25 August 1636 he was appointed captain. In the Battle of the Downs in 1639 he captured a galleon.

During the First Anglo-Dutch War Cornelis functioned as a Vice-Commodore in the Zealandic navy; he was appointed on a confederate level to the equivalent rank of temporary Rear-Admiral on 1 May 1652. In the Battle of Scheveningen his ship sank and he, wounded, was prisoner of the English for three months.

On 14 March 1654 he was appointed Rear-Admiral. During the Northern Wars he was in 1659 subcommander of the fleet of Michiel de Ruyter and liberated Nyborg from the Swedish. In 1661 he was third in command of the Dutch Mediterranean fleet under De Ruyter, executing punitive actions against the corsairs of Algiers. He and De Ruyter were close personal friends.

When the Second Anglo-Dutch War threatened, he was made Vice-Admiral of Zealand, while his brother Johan Evertsen was promoted to the first Lieutenant-Admiral that province ever had. Cornelis Evertsen took part in the Battle of Lowestoft (13 June 1665); his elder brother was after the fight much criticised for his behaviour and had to resign as commander, though keeping his rank. Cornelis was now promoted to Lieutenant-Admiral also, so that for a time the Dutch navy had seven officers of this rank.

When the next major naval battle was fought with England in June 1666, the Four Days Battle, Cornelis the Elder was killed on the first day on the Walcheren, cut in two by the parting shot of the escaping Henry.

His brother Johan Evertsen decided first to stay ashore, but when Cornelis was killed, he joined as yet the fleet and took command of the vanguard of De Ruyter. He was killed on the first day of the St. James's Day Battle, in August 1666. Both brothers were, after much conflict between the Admiralty and the family over the costs, in 1681 buried in the Abbey of Middelburg, where their shared grave memorial is still to be seen.

Cornelis Evertsen the Elder got blessed with fourteen children from his first marriage in 1640 with Johanna van Gorcum, five of which died as infants. Two of them would become flag officers as well: his second child, named after him, Lieutenant-Admiral Cornelis Evertsen the Youngest (1642–1706) and the tenth son Lieutenant-Admiral Geleyn Evertsen (1655–1711). Both would be supreme commanders of the confederate Dutch fleet. All three men shared the same cantankerous character.

After the death of his first wife in 1657 Cornelis remarried in 1659; from this marriage another two children were born. On his death he left a heritage worth 45,000 guilders.

Dutch ship Aemilia (1632)

The Aemilia was the flagship of Lieutenant-Admiraal Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp during part of the Eighty Years' War. She was a Dutch 46-gun (later increased in 1637 to 57-gun) ship of the line. Built by Jan Salomonszoon van den Tempel for the Admiralty of Rotterdam in 1632, the ship was the largest Dutch warship built up to that time.

Island in the Sea of Time

Island in the Sea of Time (ISOT) is the first of the three alternate history novels of the Nantucket series by S. M. Stirling. It was released in the United States and Canada on February 1, 1998 and in the United Kingdom a month later on March 1.

Joost Banckert

Joost van Trappen Banckert (c.1597 – 12 September 1647) was a Dutch Vice Admiral who worked most of his sailing life for the admiralty of Zeeland.

He was born at Vlissingen in 1597 or 1599. Early in his career he was active against the Dunkirkers and was promoted to captain in 1624. That year he took service for the Zeeland Chamber of the Dutch West India Company (WIC), remaining there until 1636.He defeated four Spanish Galleons in 1626 when commander of a squadron of three ships taking or sinking three of them, he also repeatedly defeated the Dunkirk corsairs Banckert often fought together with Piet Hein with whom he attacked and captured the Portuguese settlement Salvador on the coast of Brazil in 1624 and as a Vice Admiral helped capture the Spanish treasure fleet in the Bay of Matanzas in 1628. Thanks to these and other feats he earned the nicknames "Scourge of the Marranos" (the latter word then being used as a pejorative nickname for the Spanish in general) and "Terror of the Portuguese".

Having rejoined the navy he was promoted to Rear-Admiral on 3 May 1637, being a Vice-Admiral in the WIC not entailing an equivalent rank in the navy. From 1 October 1637 to 11 January 1638 he was a temporary Vice-Admiral. In 1639, again Rear-Admiral, he served under Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp and was present at the first skirmish (the Action of 18 September 1639) against a large Spanish fleet in the English Channel and the subsequent Battle of the Downs. He again came into the service of the WIC from 1645 until his death. He again attained the navy rank of temporary Vice-Admiral on 10 December 1646. In 1647 he once again set sail for the coast of Brazil and on the return voyage suddenly fell ill and died at sea. He was married to Adriana Janssen. One of his sons was the later famous Lieutenant-Admiral Adriaen Banckert, another captain Joost Banckert de Jonge who was killed at the Battle of Portland, a third captain Jan Banckert who was killed on the Delft in the Battle of Lowestoft.

List of battles of the Eighty Years' War

List of battles of the Eighty Years' War:

Battle of Oosterweel: March 13, 1567

Battle of Rheindalen: April 23, 1568

Battle of Heiligerlee: May 23, 1568

Battle of Jemmingen: July 21, 1568

Battle of Jodoigne: October 20, 1568

Capture of Brielle: April 1, 1572

Siege of Haarlem: 1572–1573

Battle of Flushing: April 17, 1573

Battle of Borsele: April 22, 1573

Battle on the Zuiderzee: October 11, 1573

Siege of Alkmaar: 1573

Siege of Leiden: 1573–1574

Battle of Reimerswaal: January 29, 1574

Battle of Mookerheyde: April 14, 1574

Battle of Gembloux: January 31, 1578

Siege of Maastricht: 1579

Battle of Punta Delgada: July 26, 1582

Siege of Antwerp: 1584–1585

Battle of Boksum: January 17, 1586

Battle of Zutphen: September 22, 1586

Battle of Gravelines: July 29, 1588

Capture of Breda: 1590

Battle of Turnhout: January 24, 1597

Siege of Groenlo (1597): 1597

Siege of Bredevoort (1597): 1597

Battle of Nieuwpoort: July 2, 1600

Siege of Ostend: 1601–1604

Battle of Sluys: May 26, 1603

Siege of Groenlo (1606): 1606

Battle of Gibraltar: April 25, 1607

Battle of Playa-Honda: April 15, 1617

Battle of Gibraltar (1621): August 6, 1621

1st Siege of Breda: 1624–1625

Siege of Groenlo (1627): 1627

Battle in the Bay of Matanzas: September 7–8, 1628

Siege of 's-Hertogenbosch: 1629

Capture of Maastricht: 1632

2nd Siege of Breda: 1637

Battle of Kallo: June 20, 1638

Battle of the Downs: October 31, 1639

Siege of Hulst: 1645

Battle of Puerto de Cavite: June 10, 1647

List of shipwrecks in the 17th century

The list of shipwrecks in the 17th century includes ships sunk, wrecked or otherwise lost between (and including) the years 1601 to 1700.

Lope de Hoces

Lope de Hoces (fl. 1619 – 21 October 1639) was a Spanish admiral who was killed in action at the Battle of the Downs.

Maarten Tromp

Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp (23 April 1598 – 10 August 1653) was an officer and later admiral in the Dutch navy. His first name is also spelled Maerten.


A patache (occasionally "patax" or "pataje") is a type of sailing vessel with two masts, very light and shallow, a sort of cross between a brig and a schooner, which originally was a warship, being intended for surveillance and inspection of the coasts and ports. It was used as a tender to the fleet of vessels of more importance or size, and also for trans-Pacific travel, but later began to be used for trading voyages, carrying cargo burdens of 30 tons or more.

Reinier Nooms

Reinier Nooms (c. 1623 – 1664), also known as Zeeman (Dutch for "sailor"), was a maritime painter known for his highly detailed paintings and etchings of ships.

Nooms was probably born and died in Amsterdam. He started painting and drawing in his later years, following a rough, drunken life as a sailor. It is not known how he acquired his skill as an artist. His knowledge of ships is evident from his work: ships and foreign locations are depicted with high accuracy and in great detail, and served as an example to other artists of how to depict ships.

A widely traveled artist, Nooms visited Paris, Venice and possibly Berlin, and also journeyed along the coast of North Africa.

A favourite subject of his paintings were the Dutch victories in the Anglo-Dutch Wars. For instance, he painted the Amalia, the flagship of admiral Maarten Tromp, before the Battle of the Downs in 1639. This painting now hangs in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, UK. His painting of the Battle of Leghorn in 1653 is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

In the 1650s, Nooms made a series of etchings of ships and topographical views characterized by a high degree of detail and precision. These etchings served as an example to many artists. The 19th century French etcher Charles Méryon was highly influenced by Nooms, whose etchings of Paris cityscapes inspired Méryon to his own series of Paris etchings. Méryon even dedicated some of this work to Nooms in poetic form.

One of Nooms' final works, from 1664, shows a view of the Amsterdam harbour, with the IJ bay and the naval depot's Lands Zeemagazijn, now the home of the Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum (Netherlands Maritime Museum). Appropriately, this work now hangs in the Netherlands Maritime Museum.

The Downs (ship anchorage)

The Downs are a roadstead (area of sheltered, favourable sea) in the southern North Sea near the English Channel off the east Kent coast, between the North and the South Foreland in southern England. In 1639 the Battle of the Downs took place here, when the Dutch navy destroyed a Spanish fleet which had sought refuge in neutral English waters. From the Elizabethan era onwards, the presence of the Downs helped to make Deal one of the premier ports in England, and in the 19th century, it was equipped with its own telegraph and timeball tower to enable ships to set their marine chronometers.

The anchorage has depths down to 12 fathoms (22 m). Even during southerly gales some shelter was afforded, though under this condition wrecks were not infrequent. Storms from any direction could also drive ships onto the shore or onto the sands, which—in spite of providing the sheltered water—were constantly shifting, and not always adequately marked.

The Downs served in the age of sail as a permanent base for warships patrolling the North Sea and a gathering point for refitted or newly built ships coming out of Chatham Dockyard, such as HMS Bellerophon, and formed a safe anchorage during heavy weather, protected on the east by the Goodwin Sands and on the north and west by the coast. The Downs also lie between the Strait of Dover and the Thames Estuary, so both merchant ships awaiting an easterly wind to take them into the English Channel and those going up to London gathered there, often for quite long periods. According to the Deal Maritime Museum and other sources, there are records of as many as 800 sailing ships at anchor at one time.In the present day, with the English Channel still the busiest shipping lane in the world, cross-Channel ferries and other ships still seek shelter here.

Witte de With

Witte Corneliszoon de With (28 March 1599 – 8 November 1658) was a famous Dutch naval officer of the 17th century.

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