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GOING DUTCH: How England Plundered Holland’s Glory  


Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0060774096
ISBN-13: 978-0060774097

This is a very interesting book about the Dutch and the British.  There is a large section on how the Dutch invaded England.  Something the history books forgot to mention.  It is very detailed.  I enjoyed reading about this and much has been written on this era of the Netherlands.
The following is an excerpt from the book. It is loooooong, and amazing.....

This is a book about cultural exchange between England and the Dutch Republic – an extraordinary process of cross-fertilization which took place in the seventeenth century, between the life and thought of two rapidly developing countries in northern Europe. The two territories, jostling for power on the world stage, politically and commercially, recognized that they had a great deal in common. Still, each of them represented itself – and has continued to do so ever since – as absolutely independent and unique.

In Going Dutch, renowned writer Lisa Jardine tells the remarkable history of the relationship between England and Holland, two of Europe’s most important colonial powers at the dawn of the modern age. Jardine, the author of The Awful End of Prince William the Silent, demonstrates that England’s rise did not come at the expense of the Dutch as is commonly thought, but was actually a “handing on” of the baton of cultural and intellectual supremacy to a nation expanding in international power and influence.

On 1 November 1688 Prince William of Orange, elected ruler or Stadholder of the Dutch Republic, and husband of the English King James II’s eldest daughter, Mary Stuart, embarked upon a seaborne invasion of the British Isles. His invasion force consisted of an astounding five hundred ships, an army of more than twenty thousand highly trained professional troops, and a further twenty thousand mariners and support staff. As a naval and military undertaking, the sheer scale, temerity and bold ambition of the venture captured the European imagination for years afterwards. The exact numbers of the invading forces were a matter of dispute and deliberate exaggeration (and have remained so ever since), but there was no uncertainty at all about William of Orange’s intentions – this was a redoubtable force, and it was headed for the English coast.

The joint naval and military operation was on an unprecedented scale. Its meticulous organization astonished political observers. William, it slowly emerged, had started to build up his army in the first half of 1688, without consulting the Dutch government – the States General. close friends shuttled clandestinely around Europe for months securing backing from those known to be sympathetic to the Protestant cause, and negotiating supporting troops and financial loans. Between June and October they surreptitiously assembled a massive force of well-trained, well-paid and experienced soldiers drawn from right across Protestant Europe.

From the very start, the Dutch fleet achieved its key strategic aim, creating an unforgettable spectacle, inducing a feeling of shock and awe in onlookers on either shore. The boldest enterprise ever undertaken by the Republic of the United Netherlands was stage-managed with exquisite artistry. The expedition comprised fifty-three warships, of which thirty-two were ‘capital ships’ designed for combat – thirteen with between sixty and sixty-eight guns, seven with between fifty and fifty-six, and twelve with between forty and forty-eight – the rest escort ships. There were ten fire ships and about four hundred other vessels to transport troops, supplies and horses. The army was made up of 10,692 regular infantry and 3,660 regular cavalry, plus gunners of the artillery train and five thousand gentleman volunteers – expatriate Englishmen, Huguenots and other sympathizers. On top of this there were 9,142 crew members and a further ten thousand men on board the transport vessels. William’s plan was that this spectacular floating combination of forces and resources should avoid naval engagement at all costs. Like the D-Day landings, this was a huge feat of transportation, rather than a navy seeking a sea battle.

The munitions, equipment and supplies with which the expeditionary force was provided were formidable, and state-of-the-art. According to one eyewitness (who, as usual, may have slightly exaggerated the numbers), the fleet carried a total of seven thousand horses – mounts for the 3,660 cavalry officers, the Prince, his entourage and the officer and gentleman volunteers, and draught horses for the carts carrying provisions and ammunition. Further draught animals were needed to pull the fifty artillery pieces.

Responding to the favorable wind, the invasion fleet proceeded in the direction of the English coast, headed towards Harwich, as if to make landfall in Yorkshire. Having sailed just past Harwich, however, William of Orange, commander-in-chief in person of this mighty flotilla, gave new orders for it to proceed instead south-westwards, to take full advantage of the ever-strengthening easterly wind. The English war fleet, trapped in the Thames estuary by the same wind, watched William’s armada go by twice, helpless to follow and engage until it was too late. The Dutch made landfall at Baxton.

On 18 December the Prince of Orange and his army entered London in another carefully organized ‘triumph’, to be welcomed, this time, by cheering crowds of Londoners. The Dutch invasion of 1688 was a brilliantly stage-managed sequence of events, forever vivid in the memory of those who witnessed them.

The entire London area remained under Dutch military occupation until the spring of 1690. No English regiments were allowed within twenty miles of the city. The English and Scots regiments of the States General’s forces, which had led the triumphal entry (in order not to alarm the citizens of London too much) were stationed at the Tower and Lambeth. Dutch and German regiments encamped at Woolwich, Kensington, Chelsea and Paddington, while another crack regiment was positioned at Richmond, and the Huguenots put up in various parts of London.

So why is there almost no trace of this vast, hostile armada, with its dramatic progress along the English Channel, its fanfares and gun-salutes and parading battalions, in conventional historical accounts of the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’? Why are many of us unaware of the fact that at the time of the English Parliament’s ‘welcoming’ William and his wife Mary Stuart, and subsequently, in early 1689, inviting them jointly to ascend the English throne, the country was in the grip of full-scale military occupation, with Dutch troops posted in front of key buildings throughout London, and growing unrest and resentment throughout the land?

One obvious reason for this historical amnesia is the enduring impact and lasting success of the
propaganda offensive launched by William of Orange even before he left Dutch shores. Surviving
documents tend to exert a strong influence over retrospective historical interpretation – they are the stuff of which narrative history and interpretation are made.

This book discusses the invasion in much detail and how the Brits and the Dutch have so much in common. Any Dutchman on this site should read this book.

Thanks for reading Marc

One more comment:
Lisa Jardine's general purpose is to show that England stole from, copied, imitated and was influenced by the Netherlands during the seventeenth century. From state formation to garden-design, England learned from the Dutch. Thus, Jardine suggests, England isn't wholly English, since so much of its culture is imported, originally foreign, or hybrid.

This will surprise people that have very little background in history, but most of us should know that the English, like all societies, learned from or were influenced by many people. Jardine never tells us, nor even asks, whether Dutch influence was more profound on the English than French, Italian, Scottish, Irish, Turkish, American, Spanish, or Indian culture was, though of course all were important in various ways. Nor does she have a very illuminating picture of what the Netherlands actually are - she implies that this rapidly changing and heterogeneous society was monolithic. I could go on, but suffice it to say that Jardine's story is a bit simple-minded and naïve. Readers with much background in 17th century history won't learn much, and would do better looking over her footnotes and simply reading those books instead. Jardine is a professor of history, but this book, like many of her others, in fact, reveal very little if any original research. This book simply doesn't tell the world anything that wasn't already available elsewhere.

For those interested in the topics explored here, I would recommend instead Jan de Vries' new synthesis of Dutch and European economic growth, The Industrious Revolution. Tulipmania by Anne Goldgar is a very interesting study of flowers and collecting that reveals much about 17th century Dutch culture, and Jonathan Israel has written many of the best English-language studies of the Netherlands. Those books are thought-provoking and original.

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Seems a more aggressive interpretation than I usually have read so sounds doubly interesting. I wonder if people since have pushed the 'Glorious Revolution' due to embarrassment that the attack succeeded and it therefore sounds better to pretend it is what the people wanted to avoid the military failure.


The English, like most peoples, have always been a mis-match of societies and nationalities and the arguments as to influence roll back over every century - even before 'England' was an entitiy as such you had the celts pushed out by the Romans then the Vikings/Saxons. England was just as impacted by the waves of germanic migration caused by Asian pressure as the rest of Europe.  I have always felt that the strongest influence was Northern European/Germanic and this Dutch link would be a later facet of a common thread...


I will buy, I think, to learn more of her interpretation..

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Thanks for that – interesting but, as you say, not much new there. I sometimes wonder what authors of these books are attempting to imply.


It's all very well giving all these facts and figures about the size of the Dutch fleet etc., as if it was some unwelcome invasion force, but the 'Glorious Revolution' was agreed with the British government beforehand and very likely a large part of the population would have accepted with the decision. Crucially, it had not only to do with the continuation of the monarchy, but it had to be the right monarchy – ie. a protestant one. Thus William was thought the only suitable prospect for Mary, daughter of the Duke of York James ll, to marry. I believe that both he, and Charles ll, her uncle, had initially been opposed but eventually were won over, as it would seem that the only other contender was a French prince, who of course was Catholic. I suppose understandable, since James had always been Catholic and eventually fled to France, whilst Charles I believe reverted to Catholicism on his death bed.


It should also be mentioned that England and the Netherlands had been to war three times in recent memory, and another reason for the union was a strong desire that this hostility, which was draining on both countries, should come to an end. I believe both countries actually respected each other and thought that peace was a far better prospect. England certainly needed some stability.


I believe the marriage was a reasonably happy one and the joint rulers introduced new legislation, including a Bill of Rights. For us on MSW of course, it was notably William and Mary who began work on the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, as a home for retired seamen and copying the Royal Chelsea Hospital for old soldiers. I am sure we are all familiar with the splendid buildings at Greenwich, now housing a university.

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Interesting view:

Even more interesting question: if this was indeed a succesfull invasion and occupation, why didn't reach OUR historybooks?

Dutch interpretation (as far as I understood) is more that William was used by the English protestant royalists to solve their, entirely English, problem. 



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Looked at it objectively around this time and earlier the Dutch were an unbelievably good military force. They held of the Spanish army (at its prime) and really whipped the English Navy badly at several points.


After the protestantisation of England the two countries had very similar outlooks and often had a mutual interest in neither state failing but at the same time were competing for the same expansive/trade areas (that competition was 'won' by the Dutch early on and then given up later on, I vaguely recollect NAM Rodgers putting this more down to Dutch politics than English military/political skill though. It is a fascinating area of history..

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Jonathan Israel is a historian at (I think) at Oxford and he has written several very good books on the history about the Dutch.  One is called: The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806

Then there is Simon Schama at Harvard who wrote a book: The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age.


There are many other books and PhD dissertations (from Leiden Univ.) that have specific details on this era about the Dutch.

I will check my library and for the people interested I will list them in the future.



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To answer your question, I imagine the reason that it is not perhaps mentioned much in either country's history books (although I remember studying it when at college in the UK) is that it was not an invasion in the accepted historical sense – ie. many hundreds didn't get slaughtered, with a victor emerging at the end of it. The event has also been the called 'Bloodless Revolution', although this was not strictly true since I think there were skirmishes with Catholic forces fighting for James ll.


I don't know much about it however, from the Dutch angle. What for instance happened there when William came to England?

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