Dutch War

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The Dutch War , also known as the Dutch-French War , was a pan-European military conflict that lasted from 1672 ( Rampjaar ) to 1678. The war was triggered by an attack by the French King Louis XIV and his allies ( Kingdom of England , Sweden , the Duchy of Munster and the Duchy of Liège ) on the United Netherlands . In order to prevent France from hegemony on the European continent, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire allied themselves with the Netherlands. Some partial conflicts of this war went down in history as independent conflicts, such as the Third Anglo-Dutch Sea War (1672–1674) and the Swedish-Brandenburg War (1674–1679). The peace treaties of Nijmegen (1678) and Saint-Germain (1679) , which were favorable to the French king, ended this European war.

The Dutch War is regarded as an expansive war of conquest for France and was therefore often referred to in older German literature as the (second) predatory war of Louis XIV .


French expansion in the Peace of Aachen in 1668

In 1667/1668 the French King Louis XIV waged the so-called war of devolution against Spain in order to conquer parts of the Spanish Netherlands . The French troops operated successfully, but in January 1668 a coalition of England , Sweden and the Netherlands , the Triple Alliance , had formed, which threatened France with a joint declaration of war if it did not stop the conquest. As a result, King Louis XIV had to reluctantly sign the Peace of Aachen on May 2, 1668 . Since the French king blamed the United Netherlands in particular for the formation of the Triple Alliance and felt personally betrayed by the former ally, his policy in the following years was directed primarily against this country. But initially France was isolated in terms of foreign policy as a result of the war of devolution. Overcoming this isolation and taking action against the United Netherlands was henceforth the primary goal of French diplomacy.

Diplomatic preparations for war

King Louis XIV of France, portrait from 1672

For the political situation in Europe at that time, two lines of conflict were of particular importance. There was a profound conflict of economic interests between the Kingdom of England and the United Netherlands. The two states had therefore already waged two wars against each other between 1652 and 1668 . The Peace of Breda therefore only represented a practical armistice . Both powers also competed with each other in the Baltic Sea region , in which the kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden fought for supremacy. Denmark was traditionally close to the Netherlands, while Sweden leaned on England. Under these conditions, it was natural that Louis XIV's diplomats turned primarily to England and Sweden. The result of these efforts was the secret Treaty of Dover, concluded on June 1, 1670 between the "Sun King" and King Charles II of England (1630–1685), in which, among other aspects, joint action against the unpleasant competitor, the Netherlands, was agreed. Charles II received 2,000,000 livres (approx. 166,000 pounds ) annually in subsidies (in the event of war even 3,000,000 livres ) and in the event of a victory the English kingdom should receive the island of Walcheren . Sweden, too, hoped that it would gain advantages over Denmark, joined the agreement shortly afterwards and received urgently needed subsidies from France in return. France's isolation in foreign policy was thus overcome and the triple alliance that had stopped the first conquest of Louis XIV was dissolved.

King Charles II of England, portrait by John Michael Wright (1617–1700)

In a further step, an attempt was now made to isolate the United Netherlands in terms of foreign policy so that no potential ally would assist them in a French attack. An alliance had existed with the Elector of Brandenburg since 1669 (France supported the Prussian claims to Silesia ) and in the winter of 1670 another was concluded with the Electorate of Bavaria , which in turn supported claims to Austrian territories by Louis XIV. After Louis XIV knew that the two largest states in the Holy Roman Empire were on his side, he had the Duchy of Lorraine occupied in April 1670 . Duke Charles IV (1604–1675) had offered his support to the Triple Alliance in the last war and thus represented a potential opponent of France. A French army under the Maréchal de Créquy (1624–1687) drove the duke out and quickly conquered his fortresses . Although the war was originally planned for 1671 in this favorable foreign policy situation, Louis XIV used this year to further safeguard his plans. It seemed necessary to win over Emperor Leopold I (1640–1705). France and the Archduchy of Austria had already grown closer in January 1668 when they had drafted a secret partition treaty over the Spanish monarchy (the treaty was never ratified). And in fact, on November 1, 1671, the emperor committed himself in a further secret agreement to only intervene in the event of war if German or Spanish interests were directly affected. Without Bavaria and Brandenburg, Leopold I had no support in a war and an uprising in Hungary made it necessary to leave the troops in the hereditary lands. In addition, Leopold I hoped in this way to prevent a conflict from spreading to a pan-European war. But there were two other states that had a direct territorial interest over the United Netherlands. Maximilian Heinrich von Köln (1621–1688), the Archbishop and Elector of Cologne , and Christoph Bernhard von Galen (1606–1678), the Bishop of Münster , joined the anti-Dutch alliance on January 4, 1672, after they had already had previously announced their neutrality (January 11, 1671) in order to benefit themselves from the French attack. This meant that nothing stood in the way of an attack on the United Netherlands, which had no ally, in the spring of 1672.

The course of the war

Louis XIV crosses the Rhine at Lobith on June 12, 1672 , painting by Adam Frans van der Meulen , 1690

In March 1672, France and England declared war on the Netherlands. The Prince-Bishop of Munster and the Archbishop of Cologne were also allied with France . The French advanced almost unhindered via Liège and Kleve to Gelderland and took Utrecht . The beginning of the war as generaal Kapitein- employed William III. of Orange could only prevent a complete defeat by opening locks and dams in order to flood the country and stop the advance of the French. Most of the residents were evacuated behind the Dutch waterline that was formed in this way . In Groningen , the Dutch won a victory over the troops of the Bishop of Munster. In July Wilhelm was appointed governor of the remaining provinces of Holland and Zeeland . His role in the murder of the brothers Johan and Cornelis de Witt in August 1672 remains unclear .

After French attempts to cross the waterline failed, Ludwig turned to other goals and besieged Maastricht fortress in 1673 , which fell to the French in July. This called on Spain and Austria, which now feared a French attack on the Spanish Netherlands. The war thus spread to large parts of Europe. Ludwig sent his two most capable generals, Turenne and Condé , to the Middle Rhine and Alsace to stop the imperial troops .

After several defeats at sea, England withdrew from the war with the peace of Westminster with the Netherlands in early 1674. Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg also joined the Dutch-Austrian-Spanish coalition . Sweden used the absence of the Brandenburg army at the end of 1674 for an incursion into the Mark Brandenburg ( Sweden incursion 1674/1675 ), which resulted in the Swedish-Brandenburg War , in which Brandenburg allied itself with Denmark ( Scandinavian War ). The Bishop of Münster Christoph Bernhard von Galen also sided with the coalition and took part with his army in the Bremen-Verden campaign , among other things .

The peace treaties

The first negotiations between representatives of the kings of Spain, England and Sweden and the Archbishop of Cologne Maximilian Heinrich von Bayern about the settlement of the war took place on June 28, 1673 in the Carmelite monastery in Cologne on Severinstrasse . They were broken off on April 16, 1674, with no result, when the French delegates left.

Since the Allied forces were inferior to those of the French king, the Peace Treaty of Nijmegen , a large number of individual peace treaties between the participating states, was concluded in 1678 . The treaty came into force in 1679. France emerged victorious from this war and was able to keep most of its conquests, but had to return the north of the occupied Spanish Netherlands . The Netherlands vowed neutrality for the return of their territories. France received the Free County of Burgundy from Spain , exchanged some Flemish cities and received Freiburg from Austrian ownership. Brandenburg, which initially did not want to join this treaty, which was regarded as unfavorable, finally had to give way in 1679 in the Peace of Saint-Germain and return a large part of its conquests.

Chronological list of the most important events


Web links

Commons : Dutch War  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Eugen von Frauenholz : German War History. Leipzig 1942. p. 113 .; Siegfried Fiedler: Tactics and Strategy of the Cabinet Wars 1650–1792. Bonn 1986. p. 215; D. v. Schaumberg: Wars of Ludwig XIV. In: Bernhard von Poten: Short dictionary of the entire military sciences , Vol. 5, Leipzig 1878, p. 302.
  2. For a detailed history of the conflict, see: Paul Sonnino: Louis XIV. And the origins of the Dutch War , Cambridge / New York / New Rochelle 1988.
  3. John A. Lynn: The Wars of Louis XIV 1667-1714 , London / New York 1999, p. 109.
  4. John A. Lynn: The Wars of Louis XIV 1667-1714 , London / New York 1999, p. 110.
  5. ^ Kurt Kluxen : History of England. From the beginning to the present (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 374). 4th edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-520-37404-8 , p. 351.
  6. Details in: Paul Wentzcke: Feldherr des Kaisers - Leben und Daten Duke Karl V von Lothringen , Leipzig 1943, p. 79ff.
  7. ^ John P. Spielman: Leopold I. - Not born to power , Graz / Vienna / Cologne 1981, p. 56f.
  8. ^ John A. Lynn: The Wars of Louis XIV 1667-1714 , London / New York 1999, p. 111.
  9. Peter Fuchs (Ed.), Chronicles for the History of the City of Cologne , Volume 2, 1991, p. 82.