Anglo-Dutch War in West Africa (1664–1665)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Netherlands vs. England
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Gold Coast of West Africa
DECLARATION: No formal declaration
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: The British seized Dutch
holdings on the coast of West Africa, looking to exploit
Africa’s resources—gold and slaves.
OUTCOME: England strengthened its hold on the African
coast and increased its exportation of gold and slaves.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
TREATIES: Treaty of Breda, 1667
The Anglo-Dutch War in West Africa was the second in a
series of conflicts between the two nations that would
eventually establish English domination over the high
seas and bring to an end the “Golden Age” of the Dutch
Republic. The lucrative slave trade in the New World had
prompted English king Charles II (1630–85) to renew the
1651 Navigation Act, which spurred British commercial
settlement along Africa’s Gold Coast and the British
seizure of Dutch holdings in the coastal region in 1664.
Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter (1607–76) responded
with his Mediterranean squadron and recaptured the West
African bases, but his success was eclipsed by events in
the New World. England captured New Amsterdam in
1664, renaming the colony New York, and challenged
other Dutch colonies. The following year Ruyter captured
the Gold Coast fort at Cormintine (Fort Amsterdam). His
absence from Holland proved critical, however, because
the Second DUTCH WAR erupted in 1665 in Europe. The
Dutch were stronger in that conflict, but the Dutch
Armada, without Ruyter to command it, was nevertheless
crushed at Lowestoft. Forced to return to Holland to handle
the crisis at home, Ruyter failed to challenge the
British at Cape Coast. The strong British presence in West
Africa, left unchallenged when the British and the Dutch
finally came to terms at Breda in 1667, became the foundation
from which Great Britain would rise as an awesome
colonial power commanding a navy second to none.
See also DUTCH WAR, THIRD.
Further reading: Roger Hainsworth and Christine
Churches, The Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars, 1652–1674 (Phoenix
Mill, U.K.: Suttun, 1998); Mark T. Hodcer, The History of
Holland (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999).