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CHAP. I. - Pieter de la Court, The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland 
The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (London: John Campbell, Esq, 1746).
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That an open and free navigation ought carefully to be kept and defended, against all pirates and enemies. How this may be put in practice; and after what manner heretofore it has been done or omitted.
HAVING in the first part of this treatise seriously considered and represented the true interest and maxims of the republick of Holland and West-Friesland, relating to their affairs at home, I shall now enquire how the welfare of their inhabitants may be secur’d with reference to foreign powers. And tho’ very many particulars do here again present themselves to my thoughts, which are of weight, and deserve mention; yet I shall lay down but few, and those the most important.
And whereas in the preceding book I have shewn, that the far greater part of things necessary to our manufacturers, fishers and traders, are imported from foreign parts, either upon carts, and rivers, or else by sea in ships let out to freight, and that they must again transport most of them, manufactur’d or unmanufactur’d, by the same means beyond the seas:Most merchandize being imported and exported from Holland to foreign parts; it necessarily follows, that the highways, rivers, and seas, must by all means be kept free and open, for the constant use and conveniency of the inhabitants. Yet because the highways and rivers in this respect are of least concernment, and so much in the power of other princes, that the securing and clearing the same cannot be expected from the governors of Holland, I shall therefore say nothing more of them.Aitzma’s Hist. b. 22. p. 463. But seeing the seas are of so great importance to this end, that the council of state in their request for a supply in the year 1643, did represent, that the whole state of the United Provinces depends on the guarding and clearing of the seas; that other things without this, would be but as a body without a soul, and a land without inhabitants, &c. And that the Hollanders alone do navigate the seas more, and have more to lose on them, than all their allies and other people of Europe put together.Bentivoglio relat. lib. 1. cap. 7. And moreover, seeing the seas are so common for all men to navigate, that they are always infested by pirates and enemies, and may be and are also cleared by our governors, and free passage given for ships and fishers, and so kept and maintained; I purpose therefore to treat largely and closely of this matter.
And our fishers trading there, and our ships that sail northeasterly and westerly being mostly of no defence;’Tis well known that our fishers of haddock, doggers, sailers of busses, and Greenland men, fishing at certain times and places, do always meet with sea-robbers, and enemies ships of war; and that they, and the Northern and Eastland ships, yea, and our salt and wine-ships, bringing bulky, cheap, and low-priz’d goods, are not able to bear the expence of well manning and arming their ships to repel such robbers and enemies. And tho’ it cannot be denied, that our Spanish, Italian, and Levant ships, are often freighted with such rich and profitable goods, that they may well be so mann’d and arm’d as to defend themselves against the smaller sort of pirates; yet the riches which they carry, invite whole fleets of such men of war to lie in wait for such ships;And the Turkish pirates ever infesting the Straits Mouth and Mediterranean; and this falls out the rather, and will always so happen, because the bassas of Tripoli, Tunis, and Algier, must pay the Turkish janisaries under them out of their own purses; or if they failed, would certainly be strangled by the mutinous soldiery. So that to procure that necessary pay, they always collect by force of arms, the fifth part of the growth of the country, and permit them to go to sea as free-booters, with condition to allow them the moiety of all the ships, and the eighth part of all the goods they take in the same.
Therefore we must necessarily scour the north sea from pirates,This being certain, it follows naturally, that the North Belt, and North sea, as also the channel being continually fished and navigated by vast numbers of our unarm’d and undefensible ships, ought of necessity to be wholly freed from such robbers and enemies by our governors. And because the great Spanish and Mediterranean seas are likewise navigated by few rich ships of force, it is by all means advisable to convoy our said merchant ships with ships of war to defend them from those Turkish pirates; but it would by no means be convenient to free the Mediterranean of them, for we should thereby reap no more profit than the Eastlanders, English, Spanish, and Italians do, who by that means, and other advantages, might easily deprive us of our traffick and freight ships, and possibly drive us out of our whole navigation; because the greatest Eastern traffick depends on the consumption of the Eastern commodities in the Western parts:And keep the Mediterranean clear by convoys. all which nations nevertheless thro’ want of ordinary convoy-ships, do not traffick so much in those parts as we do, and would trade less if it were ordered that none of the captains of our convoy-ships should take money to protect and defend any foreign merchant-ships under their convoy, or suffer them to sail in their company: so that if we should leave this thorn of the Turkish pirates in their sides, they will be sufficiently distress’d both in that and all their other trade, whilst we by those ordinary convoy ships of war, may wholly engross all the European traffick and navigation to Holland.
Having thus represented how necessary it is to keep the seas open and free for the inhabitants of Holland, and endeavouring now to find out the means whereby it may certainly be effected, this infallible political maxim offers itself to my thoughts, viz.Which will be effected or not, as the rulers employ’d are inclined to it. When men would procure or hinder the doing of a thing, the matter must be so ordered, that such people who are so resolved, may have sufficient authority, power, and strength to effect or obstruct the same. Whence it unanswerably follows, that seeing our inhabitants, who live by manufactures, fisheries, traffick, and shipping let to freight, and which are or may be taken at sea by enemies, are certainly willing to defend themselves from such losses, they ought therefore to have such authority and strength as may enable them to clear the said seas. But because every one knows, that such abstracted speculations, and general reasonings in well-grounded political governments, neither may nor can be practised, let the reader therefore please to take notice, that I use this infallible political maxim, only to build a second upon it, namely, that such cities and countries whose rulers ought to be presumed to be less or more inclined to clear the seas, ought also to have more or less authority and power in the polity, treasure, justice, and militia relating to the seas. And seeing kings, princes, courtiers, and soldiers are frequently gainers, but never losers by goods pirated at sea, and reap the least advantages by an open and free navigation: and on the contrary, most of the inhabitants of the free republick of Holland, whether rulers or subjects, may suffer great losses by robberies at sea, and subsist by the flourishing of manufactures, fisheries, trade, and freight ships; we may well conclude, that such governors must be presumed to be well inclined to keep the seas clear, and consequently ought to be entrusted with all that power and authority which is necessary to effect it, either by themselves or their commissioners.
And tho’ in pursuance of this position it seems requisite to shew in what manner this ought to be done in every city of Holland, and jointly in a way suited to the states assembly; I shall nevertheless (partly because it requires more knowledge than I am master of, and partly because I would avoid the great labour and odium which might ensue) only touch on the several ways by which men formerly endeavoured in Holland to clear the seas, and whether the inhabitants, by building on the said foundations, or by departing from them, have gained more or less.This maxim is confirmed, not only by reason, but by experience: for before 1300, our earls and gentry neglected navigation.
Whereas before the year of our Lord 1300, the cities of Holland were few and small, the government, and consequently the clearing of the seas, depending chiefly on the earl and gentry, who were little concern’d in things of this nature, and if they had attempted it, must have done it at their own cost and charges, we find little thereof in their antient records; and therefore may safely believe, that the Hollanders at that time never undertook the guarding or clearing of the seas.
But after the cities were concern’d in it, they took it to heart, under the mad earl (so called.)But the cities of Holland soon after, by the removal of the Flemish and Braband manufactures, increasing daily both in greatness and number, and the inhabitants by that means growing to be much concerned in the free use of the sea, and perceiving that the earl and gentry neglected to defend or protect them from piracy, they agreed with duke Albert of Bavaria, as stadtholder for William earl of Holland, for leave to scour the seas themselves, and to lay that charge on the country.M. Vossius in annalibus, lib. 15. pag. 126. And in the year 1408, when the seas were infested by certain East-Friesland pirates, those of Amsterdam, and some of the cities of North-Holland, with the assistance of the Lubeckers, Hamburgers, and Campeners, suppressed those robbers.
Soon after this the Hollanders being greatly annoyed by the Flemish rovers, complained to count William;The old written chronicle. yet we read not that he did any thing to prevent it, but sent them away with this answer, Go you to sea too, and let others complain of you. The Hollanders accordingly went to sea, and did more hurt to the Flemings than they had suffered by them;Philip of Burgundy. whereupon these sea-robberies soon ceased. We read also that about thirty years after, in the time of Philip of Burgundy, earl of Holland, the Hollanders lost to the value of fifty thousand guilders by the Easterlings upon the seas, and could obtain no satisfaction or compensation;J. F. le Petit’s chronicle des Pais Bas. which caused the cities of Dort, Haerlem, Amsterdam, Gouda, Rotterdam, Horne, Enchuysen, Middleburgh, Veer, Flushing, and Armuiden, to set out many ships to sea; with which having beaten the Easterlings twice, and taken great riches, they obtained of them in the year 1441, a very advantageous peace, and also of their allies the Spaniards, Venetians, and Prussians; the other Netherland provinces, who were also under the subjection of Philip of Burgundy, not concerning themselves in these matters. And it is also true, that the Hollanders and Zealanders in the year 1464, endeavoured without Philip’s consent, to surprize the famous pirate Rubempre, who infested their coast with his robberies.Phil. de Comines. And it is observable that no convoy-money was in those times ever required of the merchant for clearing the seas, but the expence was borne by the country, or by the earls themselves, and was constantly deducted from the subsidies granted to him; nor were there any other except the ordinary judges to determine of matters concerning prizes and goods taken.
All which, except the last, remained constantly in use in the times of the earls, who were of the house of Austria;J. F. le petit cronique. for the Eastern cities in the year 1510, making war against the king of Denmark, prohibited the Hollanders, Zealanders, and Frieslanders, to trade in those countries; who not complying, and the Eastlanders thereupon taking eight Holland ships, the province of Holland alone fell into an open war with them; which the other Netherland provinces took so little notice of, that the Easterlings having at several times during the war taken fifty Holland ships, went to sell some of their prizes even in Zealand and Flanders. And tho’ they were sued there by the owners, and the goods restored by the admiralties as unlawful prizes, yet ’tis evident that this was obtained rather on the account of favour than justice.
Emp. Charles V. Borre, lib. 21. p. 7.The emperor Charles V. in the year 1531, having recommended queen Mary of Hungary his sister to the government of the Netherlands, and chosen a good council of state for her, caused these words to be inserted in their instructions: “That they should continue to the cities their former customs, that in time of need, and when matters can suffer no delay, they may set out ships of war at the charge of the country, that so they may resist all pirates and such like enemies of the commonwealth, and take and make prize of them, provided that the punishment be left to the judgment of the admiralty.”J. F. le petit ibid. Whereupon, in the year 1532, it happened, that the Hollanders, by order of the said emperor, as earl of Holland, put certain ships into the hands of his brother-in-law, Christiernus of Denmark, in order to recover his kingdom, from which he had been expelled. Upon this the Easterlings forbidding all Holland ships to pass the Sound, caused great poverty in Amsterdam, and the northern quarter, without redress from the emperor, or any other province, till the Lubeckers, in the following year, taking a ship of Edam upon the coast of Zealand, the Amsterdammers, to whom the lading belonged, complained at the court of Brussels, and obtained a general seizure of all the ships and goods belonging to the Lubeckers and Hamburghers, that were to be found in the Netherlands. For seeing, notwithstanding the wars with Holland, they continually kept their traffick going in Brabant and Flanders, they by this seizure suffered so great a loss, that immediately peace was clapped up, yet with this condition, that the Hollanders should not assist king Christiernus, nor during the war use his havens of Norway.
By all this we may easily perceive how slenderly the free navigation was then defended or secured; and things will never be better in Holland whilst courtiers have any command there. On the other side, we may also see what singular care the states of Holland took on the 26th of August 1547, and would always take for a free navigation whensoever that matter should be intrusted to them; for tho’ their condition was then low, and the times peaceable, yet they fitted out eight ships of war for the defence of our herring fishery, and for their payment established that tax which is called the great impost.Semein’s herring fishery. And even in the time of that tyrant king Philip II. it is evident by the advice of the provincial court to those of the secret council, relating to the admiralty,King Philip 2d. “That pursuant to the privileges, judgments, and antient customs, the stadtholders of Holland used to take cognizance of all matters pertaining to the admiralty, and are subject to no other admiral; and that the placaet transmitted by Adolph of Burgundy ought not to take place, till the stadtholders and states of Holland were first heard concerning it; and that all the power given by the same placaet ought to be attributed to the stadtholder; and that count Horn being appointed admiral-general of the Netherlands by the king of Spain, answered thereupon in the year 1562. That he desired first to see the forenamed privileges, and then would give his further answer thereunto.”
Pr. William took care to scour the seas, because he could not subsist but by the prosperity of our inhabitants. P. C. Hoosd. Hist. p. 197. P. Borre, book 6. fol. 282.But during the troubles which soon after followed, this affair took quite another course. For count Horn the admiral general being beheaded, and prince William of Orange as stadtholder of Holland, Zealand and Utrecht, being in the year 1568, banished the country; and knowing no expedient to raise men and money in order to his return, made use of his own authority, anno 1569, and as admiral-general gave out commissions to take all Spanish and other ships that sailed without his commission: and afterwards in July 1572, obtained liberty of the states of Holland to appoint a lieutenant-admiral, who, by the advice and approbation of the maritime towns, should make choice of the captains of the ships of war: and moreover obtained leave to constitute commissioners to take cognizance of maritime affairs, who were to receive the tenth part of all the prizes for the commonwealth, and the fifth of that tenth part for the admiral-general.
E. V. Reyd. hist. pag. 15. in quarto.Whereupon in October that same year, the first duties of customs were introduced in Zealand; the government there prohibiting, upon pain of consiscation, all transporting of goods to and from the enemy’s country, unless they paid for each species as much duty as they could in any measure bear without the loss of their trade. In the next year and month of April, this was imitated, and practised by those of Holland. And being thus begun, in order to distress the enemy and weaken the Antwerpers, as well as to increase the trade and navigation of Holland and Zealand, it yielded in custom the first year eight hundred and fifty thousand guilders: and this pleased them so in that great necessity of money for their common and necessary defence, that soon after they found it expedient to charge all goods exported or imported to and from neutral places, sailing out or coming into these countries, with convoy-money. And tho’ this tended to the extreme prejudice of the trade and navigation of Holland, yet there was no remedy, partly because all Holland would otherwise have been conquered by the Spanish forces; and partly because by the pacification of Ghent, anno 1576. customs or licence-money was to cease, whereby the Antwerpers were most of all burdened with convoy-money.
P. Borre. b. 8. p. 119.In the mean time prince William had on July 11. 1575, procured a power of the states of Holland during the war with Spain, either in the king’s name, or his own, to command or prohibit any thing as he thought good, both in polity, contribution or war, by water or land:Book 9. p. 138. and on the 25th of April 1576, by the union of Holland with Zealand, he there obtained the like authority. On the 22d of September, in the year 1576, the college of admiralty of Zealand was erected, where one Holland and six Zealand counsellors were to determine by the plurality of voices all matters that might occur; yet so, that the lieutenant-admiral of Zealand should be obliged to obey the said prince, or his lieutenant-governor count Hohenlo, in all things.B. 9. p. 164. Which orders were continued both in Holland and Zealand to the year 1584, without any great prejudice to the inhabitants. For tho’ the prosperity of the country, and clearing of the seas from enemies, depended merely on the care and will of one person only, and that there was no reason to expect they should be employed to the advantage of the people, but so long (and no longer) than it agreed with that person’s own benefit, and tended to the augmentation of his power: yet the people of Holland and Zealand were then very fortunate herein, all the Netherlandish havens revolting from the king, we being still permitted to drive our trade with Spain, and very few piracies being committed: and besides, the said prince could not attend, support and augment his own private interests and grandeur against that great and formidable power of Spain, but in conjunction with the prosperity of those despised small countries, and their poor inhabitants; which on that account he endeavoured to promote.
The clearing of the seas entrusted to count Maurice and the E. of Leicester jointly. P. Borre, 20. p. 85, 86.Notwithstanding which, after the death of the said prince William, the states of Holland and Zealand thought not fit that the prosperity of the land, and clearing of the seas, should be wholly in the hands of one single person. For tho’ they did on the 1st of November, anno 1585, make his son Maurice stadtholder of Holland and Zealand, and consequently also admiral of the said countries; yet they limited him by his commission and instructions, commanding him to execute all affairs relating to war and polity with advice and consent of the gentry and council of the said countries, who were to assist his excellency, and also to consent to such further instructions as should be given him.Book 20. folio 7. And besides, on the 1st of February 1586, they placed Robert Dudly earl of Leicester above him, as governor, captain, and admiral-general; to whom they added the council of state, with instructions importing among other things, artic. 121. and 13. That
“The money proceeding from convoys shall be every where equally levied, and the charges of such convoys first paid, with the cost of equiping the ships of war, and all that belongs to them, as they were designed and originally appointed; and that the said convoy-money shall not be employed to any other use than for payment of the said charge, and setting out the said ships of war; for which end also shall be added whatever sums shall proceed from prizes, and customs, in case his excellency shall at any time think fit, pursuant to the act of consent agreed on by the states-general, in relation to the matter of contribution.
“Nevertheless, the cities have, and shall continue to have, the liberty (as often as shall be found necessary) and when the matter can bear no delay, to arm themselves for the sea, and set out ships of war at the cost and charge of the country, against pirates and other enemies of the commonwealth, to withstand, take and seize them, provided the cognizance and punishment of such crimes, with the ships and goods so taken, be left to the decision and disposal of the admiralty, which his excellency shall chuse and commissionate out of the provinces that subsist by maritime traffick.”Placaet Book p. 530.
Moreover the said governor and captain-general declared, on the 30th of April of the same year, by placaet, touching the payment of convoy and custom;
“That the states general of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, to support the charge of setting out such ships of war as are necessary for the defence and security of the foresaid United Provinces, have consented, given and put into his hands, the produce of certain impositions, and publick revenues, which they have consented to be given, and received for convoy, upon goods imported into and exported out of these said countries, according to the book of rates already made, or to be made; as also the profits and sums which we may levy upon merchandize, that under the title of licence, or safe conduct, may be permitted to be carried to the havens and places of the enemies jurisdiction.”
But the earl of Leicester neglected it, and greatly prohibited our navigation.But the earl of Leicester was not so irreconcileable to Spain as the prince of Orange, and relying on the power of the English, designed to defend these countries against Spain, and then to divide and share the whole seventeen provinces with the prince of Parma, whom he had tempted to comply; well knowing, that if the worst should happen, he could return to England and live upon his estate: so that the defects of this order soon appeared, and that too great an authority in maritime affairs was intrusted to a person who was not sufficiently concerned for the prosperity of Holland’s navigation, and who, to establish his tyrannical power with the English of his faction about him, favoured strangers and foreigners, more than the natives of Holland.P. Borre hist. book 21. p. 47. For about two months after, he prohibited, by publick proclamation, not only our navigation to Spain, and all the enemies countries, but even to carry to neutral places all provisions, and ammunition of war, whatever is necessary for shipping: he also strictly prohibited the sending of any kind of merchandize out of these countries by the Maese, Rhine, &c. or by sea, on this side of Rouen and Bremen; notwithstanding the states of Holland and Zealand earnestly represented to him how much this would tend to the benefit of all adjacent foreign countries, and in particular of England, and to the great detriment of our own inhabitants. So that if this earl of Leicester had not the next year after been necessitated to depart out of these countries to England, by the courage and resolution of the states of Holland, and there, by command of queen Elizabeth, to deliver up his commission of governour, captain, and admiral-general, these countries had been utterly ruined.
After his departure, that care, in regard of pr. Maurice’s minority, was devolv’d on the states and cities concern’d therein.Prince Maurice had almost the same powers conferred on him nominally, but the whole management was really in the states of the several provinces, and governors of the maritime cities during his youth. In which time the affairs of the sea were so well look’d after, that in our histories we read of very few, or no sea-robberies, ’till the month of June in the year 1595, when some Holland ships of war that were lying on the watch before Dunkirk, and about the Maese, were commanded away to France by the prince (who was then at the age of 28 years) to bring over the old princess of Orange.P. Borre, book 32. fol. 38. In 1593, we began, for the prince’s pleasure, to neglect the sea-saring inhabitants. The Dunkirkers taking that opportunity, took many of our herring-busses, and merchantmen, for the most part before our own ports.
And altho’ the admiralties, especially those of Amsterdam and Horn, complained of this ill court-government at the Hague to the committee of council and deputies at their general assembly, and above all others had the greatest reason to complain of prince Maurice, at whose pleasure our good people that live by trade and fishery, were left for a prey; yet durst they not blame him for it, but only desired to have better orders kept for the future. But the dread of this prince, increasing with his years, was already become so great, that in lieu of better orders, his favourites under that pretext obtain’d an order whereby the authority and power of those Holland cities that had suffered most, and must still suffer in time to come, were curb’d and broken;Tiassen’s sea-polity. In 1957. Holland was berest of much of its strength by sea, and how. and on the other side, the authority and power of the generality, and especially of the prince, who are little or not at all affected by losses at saa, was greatly increased. For in the year 1597, prince Maurice, the states-general, and the five admiralties agreed on an order, which for the most part is still in being, pretending it would be an expedient for the better management and executing the affairs of the admiralty and its dependances. But because kings and princes, and inland provinces, never use to consider the guard of the sea, but always to neglect it, unless they fear that for want of a free navigation they cannot subsist on the land, the mischief of this order was soon discovered; for by it prince Maurice (being now as the age of 30, and conceiving that these countries were brought into such a condition, that they could very well subsist against the power of Spain) had power to do all things, since no persons without his commission could set out any ships of war against pirates or other enemies, and that he could make choice of all captains and superior officers to command the ships of the states, out of a double list laid before him, and indeed without it;The prince of Orange, and the inland provinces, tho’ little or nothing concern’d, were vested with a power in sea affairs. and besides, might sit as admiral-general, and his lieutenant-admiral, of Holland and Zealand, or Friezland, in all or any of those admiralties, and vote at the upper end of the board to direct all affairs relating to the treasury, justice and war, as well as the sea.
And moreover, the inland provinces, whom the navigation concerned not at all, obtain’d nevertheless by that order a right of electing from among themselves; viz. Guelderland three, Utrecht two, Overyssel likewise two commissioners for the affairs of the admiralty: and Holland, which alone frequents the sea ten times more than Zealand, Friesland, and Groningen, must by that rule permit in all their three admiralties, that to their four commissioners, three out of the other provinces be added; Holland in lieu thereof only having the privilege of chusing one commissioner to the admiralty of Friesland; which admiralty for want of ordinary revenue doth not use to set out any ships for clearing the seas, even in time of the greatest general necessity, and consequently could avail them nothing. For tho’ the province of Zealand frequent the sea more than Friesland, and therefore by its revenue can set out ships of war; and supposing Holland might send two commissioners of admiralty thither, yet would it not tend to the benefit of Holland, seeing the states of Zealand, with whom prince Maurice could do what he pleased, when he should in earnest advise them to it, cannot now be moved by the states of Holland, and of the other provinces, to range themselves in that order with Holland.And tho Zealand would not communicate those maritime affairs to the other provinces that concern’d themselves; Aitzma’s hist. book 32. p. 724. But the Zealanders will continually govern all affairs at land and sea by their seven commissioners, assuming the name of Commissioners of the admiralty, when two commissioners out of Holland, one for Utrecht, and one for Groningen are joined with them. So that these seven commissioners of Zealand, with the additional power of the states of Zealand, as also by their former separate assembly and deliberation, do often exclude the other commissioners from all matters; and thereby always so easily overvote them, that they can do no service for the common good and for Holland, but when it pleaseth the Zealanders. And before they may serve, or take the charge of their offices in the respective admiralties as commissioners, those that are so elected must receive their commissions of the states-general, and there make oath, as well as the receivers general of the respective quarters, fiscals, secretaries, head-commissioners, collectors and comptrollers; who nevertheless being nominated by the respective admiralties, are chosen by the states-general out of a double number. But the respective admiralties do each in their quarters absolutely dispose of the offices of the equipagemaster, and vendu-master, door-keepers, messengers and searchers, &c.
And moreover by these new orders, comptoirs or offices were erected, as well in the inland provinces, as in the other, and on the rivers and inlets of the sea, in all those countries that have no vote to receive money for convoy and custom of all goods going to and from Holland, and other United Provinces situate on the sea, and that by officers and licence-masters depending on the said states-general, or the respective admiralties. So that tho’ the inhabitants of Holland paid seven parts of eight of all customs and convoy-money, which used to be employed for the service of Holland, or at least at the pleasure of that province alone; yet since that order they are all nevertheless made subject to the admiralties, or to the states-general, where Holland hath but one vote; or to the other provinces, where Holland hath no vote. of all which revenues, and of extraordinary subsidies, the admiralties are not bound to give account to the states of the provinces wherein they reside, but to the states-general, among whom there are so many persons unconcern’d; and besides, considering the deficiency of those from whom they have their commissions, in bringing in their quota’s or shares of money, it must be presumed that they will always keep none of the best accounts against themselves, and consequently are unfit to keep other colleges so under the bridle;Yet have they obtained a great power of direction about the maritime affairs of Holland. and especially consisting of so few as seven persons, they may enrich themselves with the publick money, and be able to play at the game of hodie mihi cras tibi.
On the other side, Zealand holding all its administrative power of maritime affairs within itself, sent nevertheless into all admiralties one commissioner, who was to continue there during life, with the triennial commissioners of Holland, by that long continuance or perpetuity, subtilly to encourage the Hollanders to assist them in managing all maritime affairs according to their particular interest. Therefore that this new order might not be too offensive to Holland, it was proposed by the states general, and prince Maurice of Orange, that it should take place but for a year, without any intention of prejudicing the provinces in general, or any of the provinces, cities, or members in particular, or creating to themselves any new power; tho’ all men might easily imagine, that the power of the States General, and prince of Orange, being sufficient to introduce this order for a year, would be also sufficient to continue the same so long as it tended to their profit.
And indeed we have found by the continuation of this order, that the states general, or the other provinces, together with the admiralties that were out of Holland, have done very little towards the guard of the seas;All which is very detrimental to Holland. but on the contrary have, to the prejudice of Holland, and for the benefit of their own inhabitants, so managed their courts and admiralties, in order to draw the trade to themselves, or at least the passage of the merchandizes of Holland, that they have suffered goods coming in, or going out, to pay either none sometimes, or at other times much less duty of convoy and customs, than is expressed in the book of rates; and yet have given inland passports and discharges as if the duty had been fully paid, that so they may by the way of Bergen, and Sas van Gent, Sluys, &c. and Zealand, without further question, carry them into Holland. Nay, we have often seen that when the states general, with the united suffrages of our common allies, have prohibited some certain commodities to be imported into, or exported out of the United Provinces;L. V. Aitzm. book 16. p. 301. yet hath the admiralty of Zealand by their own authority, suffered such goods to be imported and exported, to the great benefit of their inhabitants, and the intolerable burden of ours. And in like manner when the states general have thought fit to distress the common enemy, by tolerating privateers, or freebooting ships;A remarkable example of the perfidiousness of the Zealand capers. Aitzma, book 42. p. 723. we have then always heard complaints of the judicature of the admiralty of Zealand, viz. that not only the goods of strangers in amity with us, but even the goods of Holland, under pretence of having saved the duty, are too slightly and unjustly seized, and confiscated; partly in favour of their privateering inhabitants, and partly by such vexation and trouble, to draw the trade from Holland into Zealand.
And as to what relates to all the colleges of the generality, as well as the admiralties residing in Holland, it is well known that the other provinces, in order to obtain more power and authority to their respective principals, tho’ to the prejudice of the common freedom, and of Holland in particular, * do send and continue all their commissioners for the most part during their lives, or at least for many years;Especially when the Zealanders or other strangers are permitted to be the Gecommitteerde Raeden ad vitam, or for very many years. whereby they being strangers in Holland, do often carry things against our triennial commissioners of Holland, even in the disposal of our own affairs, conferring most of the offices and benefices depending on colleges upon their favorites, and often also upon strangers.
And this is found to be most of all prejudicial to Holland, when the fiscals, secretaries, receivers, chief customers, commissioners of the navy and prizes, &c. belonging to the said colleges of the admiralty, who serve in those offices for the most part during life, and besides are strangers in Holland, through a natural love to themselves, their own country, or their own college, or by an innate envy to the welfare of Holland, use their authority and power to the utmost against the Holland merchants, to the prejudice of our trade, but very faintly against the inhabitants of their own province.Seeing they are too hard for our Holland Raeden, which are settled but for three years. Yea, tho’ the advocate, fiscal, or chief customer be a Hollander, yet if his habitation lie on the Maese, or in the Northern quarter; by the same evil inclination and envy he can so plague the merchants of the rich city of Amsterdam, by seizing their goods, and so greatly favour those of the Maese, or the Northern quarter, in the entries of their imported and exported goods, that they are compelled forthwith to transport their trade, and passage of their goods from the places where they are opprest, to those parts or colleges of admiralty where they may be justly dealt with.
Holland and its cities having so little authority for scouring the seas,And tho’ Holland at the beginning of these new orders of the year 1597, was so happy, that our enemies had only two havens on the north sea, Sluys (lying between Ostend and the island Walcheren) and Dunkirk, at that time without the Scheurtjen, having so narrow and shallow a haven, that our laden flyboats and busses which they took, or their very gallies, could not lie in safety; so that both these sea ports could do us but little damage, when we would take care to lie before them, or pick up those petty capers in these narrow seas. And tho’ we happen’d to lose Ostend, yet in recompence we took from the enemy the city of Sluys, and its mischievous gallies. Notwithstanding all this, I say, the Dunkirkers did us continually much greater damage after these admiralties were erected, than ever before.The Dunkirkers began to infest the sea. So that the merchants in the year 1599 complain’d, “That they could not at all weaken the enemy by so many ships of war, and so much convoy-money paid and raised for that end. That the sea captains were chosen more for favour than fitness;E. Reyd. hist. p. 636. and that in the admiralties men were placed who understood nothing of maritime affairs, nor valued them, as having nothing to lose that way.”
And tho’ all these accusations might have been more justly laid to the charge of the states general, and the prince of Orange, than on these new commissioners of the admiralty; yet neither the merchants, nor our fishers, durst make the least complaint of his excessive power, nor of their own losses;Ema Meeteren, book 21. tho’ in the year 1600, many of their ships and busses were burnt and sunk; and their three convoys were by fourteen Dunkirk ships of war taken, or forced to fly.And some were not willing to make use of the states power to defend onr traders, who probibited traffick beyond the cape of Good-Hope. After which the states general, in lieu of better defending the trading inhabitants of these countries, took upon them in the year 1602 to prohibit them to traffick beyond the Cape de Buona Esperanca, in any of those incredibly great and rich Asatick countries, by granting that commerce wholly to an East-India company for the term of one and twenty years then next ensuing.
And as the states general, in the year 1603, seemed publickly to acknowledge the insufficiency of these new admiralties, partly by making the first ordinances for the arming and manning out of all ships failing upon account of merchandize or fishing, together with the admiralties;See the placaet book of that year. and partly seeing the inhabitants of these countries were by these new ordinances unmeasurably taxed, and yet no better defended than formerly against piracy, and enemies at sea, they were necessitated to give such inhabitants as desired it, commissions to set out ships of war to weaken the enemy.And inveiged them to sail on free-booting. In which it was observed, that the said privateers sought rather for the enemy’s merchant-ships, where they might meet with great prize, and few blows, than their ships of war and pirates, where there was small prize and many blows to be expected. And accordingly our own merchant-ships and fishers were little or nothing relieved thereby; and likewise our own privateers molested and damaged, as well as the good inhabitants of the United Provinces, as the subjects of kings, princes, and republicks in amity with us, both in their persons and estates.See the placaet books. Upon which the States General in the year 1606, found it necessary to revoke and call in all such commissions, and to raise four hundred thousand guilders by an extraordinary subsidy, to set to sea more ships of war against the enemy; which notwithstanding did not perform the designed work aimed at of scouring or clearing the seas.
’Tis a matter very worthy observation, that before the year 1597, when the sea was render’d safe and navigable by those governors who were most concerned, there was very little damage suffered; and the great overplus of the convoy and custom money, was imployed in getting things necessary for the war by land: and that since the erecting of these new admiralties, we have not only continually suffer’d great losses by sea;The Hollanders about the Mediterranean much plagued by pirates. but besides the convoy and custom money, very many extraordinary subsidies have been levied upon the people for the guard of the sea.
And thus the state of these maritime affairs continued till the truce was made; at which time the states supposing that all robbing at sea would cease, greatly lessened the duties upon imported and exported goods, in favour of trade and navigation. And on the other side, by our security and want of ships of war, the Moors of Algier, Tunis, and Sally, who had been expelled from Spain about that time, as well as our discharged seamen, who then served under Simon den Danser, Capt. Ward, Nicholas Campane, and others, had great opportunities of taking our richest ships, in and about the Mediterranean sea, both during and after the truce.See the Netherlandish wars, by D. H. D. in 1612, printed at Arnhem, p. 199. And because this happen’d so very frequently, I shall not detain the reader with the relation of those accidents, but leave him to calculate how great and prejudicial those piracies were, since the Algerines in the years 1620, and 1621, within the space of thirteen months took of Holland ships alone 143 sail;Baudart, pag. 116.Amsterdam alone esteemed their loss at 124 tuns of gold, and the whole was computed at 300 tuns of gold.
Our whale-fishers much damaged by the English. Baudart. hist.And whereas during the truce with Spain, our whale-fishing increased much, it usually happened that the English, when they were strongest to the northward, drove away our fishers, and took some of their ships and fish; and king James refused to give satisfaction for the same, insisting that his subjects had the sole right of fishing in those seas. And on the contrary, when the Hollanders were stronger, tho’ first attacked, yet the English ships taken by us, and brought into these countries, were by order of the states general restored again to the English; which disorder, and taking our whale-fishers, continued still after the truce, and was much increased by the king of Denmark, who pretending to the right of those Northern seas, did great damage to that fishery.
So that I shall think it worth while to shew the means which the states general, the prince of Orange, and the admiralties used to free our inhabitants, who subsisted by the sea, from those mischiefs and molestations.To redress this, the desperate polity was used of pardoning criminal pirates. And first as to our trade and navigation in the Mediterranean: after Simon Danser, Nicholas Campane, and others had taken and plunder’d great numbers of our ships, and were grown weary of pirating, it was found convenient to save the expences of taking and punishing them;Wassenar’s historical relation. and on the contrary, to grant them pardons, and to permit them to return to their own country, where all the good people that had sustained losses by them, have seen those pirates with aking hearts, and not without fear, that by such impunity other debauched persons might be encouraged to the like villainous attempts.Several others of that gang were pardon’d during this new sea-polity. Aitzma on 1637. p. 630. And as to the Turkish pirates, who could not be invited to come in, and leave their piracies, it was found expedient, anno 1612, to send Haga ambassador to Constantinople; and in the year 1622, to send Pynaker to Algier and Tunis. Which ambassadors arriving with great presents, and fleets of ships of war, easily obtained capitulations and agreements of free commerce; upon which our inhabitants relying too much, the pirates fell again to their usual trade, as soon as our ships of war were sailed away;Baudart, hist. p. 182. of 1612. and p. 118. of 1623. and we suffered more losses from time to time, than if there never had been any peace or accord made. Upon this the states general endeavoured by our ambassadors in France, Spain, and England, to move those kings to suppress those pirates with some ships of force.As also our absurd polity of rooting out the Turkish pirates. But seeing those monarchs valued not their subjects so much as to be at that charge for them, and that the freedom of the seas from piracy was not so much their concern as ours; or that the Turks being not able, by reason of their inconsiderable navigation, to depredate so much on their subjects as they could on ours, and would much rather make peace with France and England, and keep it better too than with us; the states general caused the admiralties successively to set to sea ships of war to destroy the pirates, in the years 1614, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, &c.
But taking few pirate ships, because most of them, while our men of war cruis’d in the Mediterranean, came not out of their harbours; this answered not our ends, till finally after the year 1650, during the free government of Holland, it was observed that we could neither make any firm and durable peace with those pirates, nor root them out; and that if we suppress’d them at our own charge, yet our traffick and navigation would not, according to our aim and desire, be at all encreased but rather diminish. Upon which the admiralty of Amsterdam, and afterwards other admiralties, pursuing closely the true interest of Holland, sent out yearly a number of ships of war to convoy our merchant ships (which according to certain rules agreed on, were to be well mann’d and arm’d) through the streights of Gibraltar, and out and home from the Levant. So that the Hollanders since that time have sustained very little loss, and have very much increased their navigation and trade into those parts.
And to pray and entreat the English.In the 2d. place concerning the disturbing of our whale-fishery, ’tis plain that the states general have done nothing more, than by their ambassadors to pray the respective kings, that such actions might cease in time to come.See the placaet book, and Tiasser’s sea polity. And afterwards observing such addresses to prove ineffectual, they thought fit in the year 1622, to grant a patent to a Greenland company, excluding all others from taking of whale, that so the said company by their own power and strength might defend themselves against the molestations and robberies of strangers. Which grant continued till the year 1643, when the English by reason of their intestine wars, and the Danes, either by reason of the growing power of the Swedes, had more need of our favour than formerly, or fearing our arms, and consequently being less dreaded by our whale-fishers, all the inhabitants of these countries were permitted to fish on the said north coast; and the said fishing by that freedom improved so incredibly, that the states general in the second war against England, being not able to defend them there, prohibited them to fish, principally for the use they had of mariners to man out our ships of war, for the defence of our country and free navigation.
But thirdly, of the many robberies committed by the Dunkirkers, and the means used against them, it is necessary to speak more largely.
In Flanders upon the expiration of the truce, the Spaniard had built at the enterance into Dunkirk upon the arm of the sea, the fort of Mardike, and also that which is called the Houte Wambais, or Wooden-doublet, so that great ships might at all times sail out and bring their prizes in thither.After pr. Maurice would allow of no prolongation of the truce, and the Scans of Mardike was built, the Dunkirkers endamav’d us greatly by sea. The king of Spain caused likewise twelve ships of war to be built in Flanders, and encouraged the Flemings to privateering against us by sea. And besides this, till the year 1625, he sent such powerful armies into the field, that Gulick and Breda were taken from us, to the eternal shame of the states general,Aitzma’s hist. book 1. pag. 88, 89. or to say better, of the new and violently intruded deputies of the generality, and of Maurice prince of Orange, who, since they would admit of no prolongation of the truce at the desire of the Spaniard, or the arch-duke, ought not to have rejected their offer so suddenly, but have hearkned to it, or at least feign’d to have done so, that by this means they might have excited the kings of France and England, who were then very jealous of the power of Spain, and feared that by continuation of the truce the Spaniard would fall upon them, to assist us with a yearly number of men and a sum of money, in case we had reingaged in a war against Spain. Or lastly, those deputies of the generality, and the said prince should have made use of that delay to put our frontiers into a better state of defence, and to fall upon the enemy when they would grant him no further cessation: and no less prudence had been necessary to increase our traffick, freedom of navigation and fisheries.And tho’ the states general ought to have protected our inhabitants, they prohibited trading within the tropick to the south and north, or to fetch salt from thence. See the placaet book. Wassenar’s hist. Whereas on the other side, they prohibited all our inhabitants to trade in America and Africa, by erecting a West-India company anno 1621, under colour of distressing the enemy more in those parts. And in the said year they likewise prohibited our inhabitants to sail to the Mediterranean, or to Cabo del Rey in the West-Indies for salt, unless in consortship, promising them ships of war to convoy and defend them back again. But this promise was without effect: for to free the admiralties of those charges, and to favour the said company with that salt-trade, the states general, prince Maurice, and the admiralties very easily found it convenient to deprive the inhabitants of these countries of that most considerable trade of salt, in favour of the West-India company, where it continued only to the year 1623, when the K. of Spain, fearing that the said company, by fortifying themselves, and by their own power, would engross those salt-pans, caused a fort to be raised there himself. So that our inhabitants by the placaet of the states general, and our West-India company, and by means of that fort, were utterly deprived of that salt-trade.
And instead of protecting and defending our navigation from piracy, with better order and more strength, they again drew in the inhabitants to fit our privateers, reducing the wonted duty out of the prize goods, to the admiralties and admiral general, from 30 per cent, to 18 per cent. viz. 12 to the state, and six for the admiral-general.See the placaet book. Orders were also published, that none should sail to the east country, and Norway, but in fleets of 40 or more ships with two convoyers, or else with ships of defence without convoy.And the select East-India company had their charter prolonged. Yea, the states and the prince of Orange thought it convenient to continue that mischievous grant or charter to the East-India company for 21 years to come. So that the states general and the admiralties discharged themselves of scouring the seas, as far as concern’d Asia, Africa and America, and the traffick of those parts, together with the northern whale fishing, upon supposition that all those respective companies were sufficient to drive on their trade without convoys from the state, and to take care of their own affairs.To the great detriment of all the in-inhabitants of Holland so exluded. But on the contrary, they found that the trade of these societies was carried on with so great prejudice to the rest of the people, who were excluded, that if our governors had then or should now deal in the same manner with the trade of Europe, by erecting companies exclusive of all others; for example, one company for the dealers in the Mediterranean, a second of the French and Spanish merchants, a third for the Eastern and Northern merchants, a fourth for the British and Irish traders, a fifth for the haddock, cod and herring fisheries, &c. I say, if they had done this, one tenth part of our inhabitants would not have been able to live, and earn their bread. So that Holland would soon have been ruin’d, even tho’ the trade of those companies had been carried on with so great industry, that notwithstanding any resolutions taken by France, England, Sweden, and the states of Italy, to disturb, prohibit and prevent foreign manufactures, and consequently those of Holland to be brought into their countries, yet each of those companies in the small compass of our Europe had driven a greater trade than the whole East India company now drives to the incomparably greater, mightier and richer Asia, both in goods and money. For it cannot be denied, that the free Eastern trade alone, the herring-fishing alone, and the French trade alone, produce ten times more profit to the state, and the commonalty of Holland, than twelve or sixteen ships which yearly sail from Holland to the East-Indies do now yield to the state, and the inhabitants.
See Aitzma’s hist.And as to the administration and care of our admiralties with respect to the sea, after the expiration of the truce, and during the life of prince Maurice, a million of florins was raised for the year 1623, and 600000 for 1624, by extraordinary subsidies, with admiralty and convoy-money, and product of customs, which were again levied as in the year 1603.And yet loaded the commonalty of Holland more than ever with extraordinary subsidies for scouring the seas, as much infested as before. With these aids they fitted out ships of war, ordering some to lie before the Flemish havens, and others to convoy our merchantmen to the eastward and westward: yet such was the management, that our ships of war came often so late before those havens, that the enemy’s ships were put out to sea before their arrival; or else to avoid the usual storms of autumn, or to be revictualled, left the Flemish coast so early, that commonly before, or at least in the winter, the enemy with many of their ships of war, would go out sometimes by night, or even by day-light in sight of our ships, and confidence of their better sailing, or of our captain’s negligence or cowardice;See Wassenar’s hist. and not only got ten times more booty from our merchant ships, than our captors and ships of war could take from the enemy, but also sometimes would take, or put to flight, our ships that were appointed for guards and convoys.
All which losses were not attributed to the deputies of the generality, and the admiral-general, who, after the death of the Heer Opdam, lieutenant-admiral of Holland, which happened September 1623, till June 1625, when young William of Nassau was chosen, had put all the naval power of Holland under the command of the Zealand lieutenant-admiral Hautain; nor was it imputed to the provinces who were deficient, or backward in bringing in the money they had consented to give, by which means the ships designed for the service were either delayed, or not fitted out at all;Aitzma, p. 780. but the blame was wholly laid at the door of the admiralty’s disorderly management and negligence.This was more evident when pr. Henry had the administration of these lands. So that thereupon a regulation was made in the year 1624, but with little success; for prince Maurice dying in April 1625, and prince Henry being hastily chosen captain-admiral-general, and stadtholder of Holland, Zealand, &c. we soon saw that he concerned himself little in husbanding the treasure, or providing for a free and open navigation, in which the welfare of Holland consists.
Statholders government, p. 58.And now that the reader may see what ground there was for that assertion, which some of our writers have delivered as a known truth, viz. that the said prince Henry during the whole time of his government, as much as in him lay, endeavoured to exhaust the treasure of Holland, and by the burden of her debts to break her back: it will not be amiss to represent in short from authors of credit what was done and suffered in this matter to the year 1632, and so forward to the time of our peace with Spain, and the decease of the said prince Henry.See the petition of the West. India company of 1668. The treasure and power of Spain was, by the chargeable sieges of Bergen op Zoom and Breda, and especially by our vigorous carrying on the war against him by our West-India company, who greatly annoyed him in those parts, so broken and exhausted, that since that time he has not been able to carry on an offensive war against us; and therefore year after year seriously and really made offers to these United Netherlands of a peace, very honourable for this state, and necessary for our trading inhabitants, as well as desired by all the rest. But those offers were as often rejected by the deputies of the generality at the instigation of the prince of Orange,Aitzma’s treaty of peace Aitzma’s hist. p. 637. Pr. Henry obstinately continued the war beyond Holland’s ability. Aitzma, pag. 59. and in their room our taxes were continually increased with prince Henry’s government, both by the addition of soldiery, and otherwise by his ill husbandry, from 12 millions 543840 guilders, to 15 millions 433800 guilders, according to a petition of the council of state in the year 1626, and were successively granted year after year, rather more than less.
And tho’ Holland alone bore of this charge 58 per 100, and by these heavy burdens, and ill husbandry, our treasury from the expiration of the truce to the year 1632, was found to be 55 millions in arrear:So that Holland was in the 7 years after his administration, 51 millions in arrears. yet nothing at all was done for the benefit of the inhabitants of that province thus needlessly and purposely oppressed beyond their abilities by their unnecessary offensive field-armies: unless they could believe that it was very advantageous to them that Oldenseel was taken that same year, Grol in 1627, and in the year 1628 many chargeable fortifications were made about Bergen op Zoom, and Steenbergen: and that thereupon, in 1629, Boisleduc was taken for the state, and Weesel for the elector of Brandenburg; for which our country smarted severely, by the Spaniards falling in, and plundering in and about the Veluwe; add to this, that notwithstanding the continued high demands for money to carry on the war in the year 1630, our soldiery stirred not out of their garrisons; and that in the year 1631, we got nothing by a chargeable attempt upon Flanders but disgrace, which nevertheless was somewhat lessened by the unsuccessful shallop-design of the Spaniard upon Zealand. And lastly, that in the year 1632, Ruremond, Venlo and Maestricht were taken from the enemy, more by count Henry Vanden Bergh’s means, than the conduct of the prince of Orange.
Aitzma, hist. pag. 323.In the mean time most of the provinces except Holland were so backward in consenting to contribute money, and the charges were so enlarged above what was consented to be given, that the council of state in their petition complained yearly on behalf of their honest creditors, who had trusted them for three or four years, that they became so troublesom and importunate, that those counsellors were hardly safe in their own houses; and that all things necessary for the publick service, might be bought or made for the ½ or ⅓ part cheaper, if ready money were paid; and that also for want of pay, the captains, who had really ⅓, yea ½ less number of soldiers in service than were paid for, must be connived at.
During all which confusions by land, the maritime affairs were carried on after the following manmer. First, concerning the treasury;See those particular petitionary demands in Aitzma’s hist. the admiralties did in the year 1625, petition for 600000 guilders; for the year 1626, 800000 guilders; for the year 1627, 1000000 guilders; and for the years 1628, 1629, 1630, 1631, 1632, yearly and successively, two millions of guilders extraordinary subsidies for guarding the seas.And the inhabitants paid their subsidies. See the particular placaets in the book of the states general. And moreover, the states general deviated so far in the years 1625 and 1631, from the true grounds and maxims of maintaining trade and navigation, that they did not only considerably raise the duties of convoy and customs, ordering the fourth part of them to be farmed out to those that bid most, and consequently, as much as in them lay, made all traffick and navigation subject to those innumerable and unimaginable vexations of farmers. But besides, in the front of their placaet they roundly declared, that of all the publick revenues, the convoy and customs were the most tolerable and least hurtful, that are laid on goods imported and exported; whereas the rates then imposed, and yet in force, are known to be the most intolerable, and for the country the most prejudicial of all the revenues of Holland, as has been already shewn in our 23d chapter of part I.
All which [Editor: illegible text] convoys and customs so augmented, produced yearly, as by example in the year 1628,
But the admiralty of Friesland, bearing the yearly charges of the college, and watching, fell short, with all its revenue, twelve thousand guilders, which were to be made good out of the extraordinary subsidies: and therefore they not sending ships to sea, those provinces of Friesland and Groeningen, with the inland provinces, became very unwilling to consent to the subsidies, very backward in bringing them in, and always very slowly.
See the placaet book of those years.Moreover in the year 1625, on the 24th of June, all ships sailing to the Mediteranean, were by placaet commanded to pay sixteen stivers per last every voyage to the benefit of the agents in the Levant, which in the year 1630 was raised to twenty stivers; and successively in the years 1625, 1627, 1628, 1629, 1630, 1632, the arming and manning of ships sailing for merchandize or fishing was from time to time charged upon the inhabitants of these countries by placaets.
And yet the seas never the more cleared.But to look further, and enquire what hath been done with great subsidies and taxes (which oppressed all the inhabitants of Holland, and especially the merchants) for the benefit of free navigation: so soon as prince Henry was made admiral-general, he placed and appointed young William of Nassau Heer van de Lek his lieutenant-admiral of Holland; who was likewise obliged to serve as colonel in the war by land, and went very little to sea, till in August 1627, when he was killed by a shot before Grol.Wassenar pag. 87. And instead of defending our merchantmen and fishers, the lieutenant admiral of Zealand, Hautain, was sent with twenty-two sail of ships anno 1625, to reduce our protestant brethren of Rochel under the obedience of the king of France; and at the same two ships of war only were allowed to secure one thousand busses in their fishing.Ib. p. 86. Besides as to trade, the seas were more infested than ever: for six Dunkirk ships of war meeting our fleet which came from the northward in June, anno 1625, without convoy, drove them back to Norway; and having taken two Eastland, and three other ships, came all six to an anchor before the Texel, and lay there a long time, as our ships used to lie before Dunkirk, taking all vessels that came in, or sailed out; which caused such a consternation among our people, that none durst venture to sea. And soon after the departure of these Dunkirkers, arrived happily eight northern and eastland merchant ships, with one convoy only.
Again, in the same year 1625, after our ships of war were withdrawn from the Flemish coast, and come into harbour, the Dunkirk ships steered directly away to our fishers, as knowing they were provided but with two convoyers; and scattered our busses, taking and sinking many of them: by which accident those of Enchuysen alone lost at the least 100, and other places in proportion; and at least 150 masters and mates of those busses were made prisoners, and carried to Flanders. So that the directors of that great fishery observing from time to time how little the securing of their livelihood was regarded, soon after resolved at their own charge, to set out seven great and well-arm’d ships of war, and to put them all under their own commander of the busses;The directors of the great fishery necessitated to provide convoys at their own charges. of which seven those of Enchuysen were to set out and pay 4, and the buss-owners about the Maese three, that they might fish in more safety under their guard, seeing the chief trade of the land, viz. fishing, was neglected.
Aitzma’s hist. p. 204.And to the end the deputies of the generality and Prince Henry might not always seem to neglect the sea, it was resolved that they would set forth for the year 1626, thirty well appointed ships of war, and set a reward for the taking and destroying of any ship of war belonging to the enemy, being of 100 or more last, the sum of guilders — 30000
Ibid. p. 96. the states general, with the prince of Orange, resolv’d to cast over-board all our enemies at at sea.’Twas also resolved to put the law in execution, that commands the men of Dunkirk to be thrown over-board. But those provinces that were least concerned in securing the seas, remaining backward in bringing in the money necessary for the said equipage and rewards, and the states general having deprived the admiralties of a great part of their revenues, by prohibiting the importation of some goods, and yet on the other side requiring to set forth a greater strength to sea than ordinary, with the profuseness of prince Henry as captain and admiral general, there arose in all the colleges of the generality, and especially in the admiralties, an arrear of two millions five hundred and eight thousand and fifteen guilders running on at interest, besides three millions nine hundred twenty and three thousand two hundred ninety and five guilders in debts; which caused the seamen, who not getting their wages, were necessitated to sell their debentures at very low rates, with many of our mariners who were not able to live for want of pay, and therefore not willing to serve here any longer, to go over to the Dunkirkers and sail with them upon free-booting. And our fleet under the admiral of Zealand, Jonker Philips van Dorp, came not before the Schuurtjen of Dunkirk upon the watch till about the month of July, when most of their men of war were gone out to sea, and according to their old custom, had taken many of our merchant ships, and very many busses, which they sunk and burnt; insomuch that all that could escape, fled for safety to to the English harbours.Which proved dangerous to our fishers and merchantmen. And our doggers of the Maese hearing that the Dunkirk capers threw over-board all the men of the merchant ships and fishing vessels which they took, in revenge of what we had done by their men, durst not go to sea to follow their occupations.
And notwithstanding Van Dorp lay with the fleet before Dunkirk, many small frigats and shallops sailed out for prize; so that at last in October that year, young William of Nassau, as lieutenant-admiral of Holland, was charged to keep that post: which he performed till December following, but no better than Van Dorp had done. And as to our cruisers and other convoyers, it is observable that we do not know that they ever took any one of the twelve new built king’s ships of Dunkirk, pretending they were better sailers; which is altogether incredible, for our ships from time to time could take ships of less force, and better sailers, and throw their men over-board: whereas on the other side the Dunkirkers, as well before as since, fighting several of our ships of war, forced our captains, after quarter promis’d, to surrender themselves, So that it is rather to be believed, that our admirals and sea-captains, fearing much more the Dunkirk ships of war, and their requital of throwing them over-board, rather than our remiss justice for the neglect of their duties, sought not out those Dunkirkers but where they were not to be found.The infesting of the sea proceeded from ourselves. However it is true, that they did commonly, as well heretofore as afterwards, and particularly in this year 1626, come to the assistance of the merchantmen and fishers, when ’twas too late. Wherefore John Vande Sande in his history says, that the sea-captains kept themselves usually on the rivers where no enemy came, and fled from those they met: so that the council of state, in their petitionary demand of supply for the following year, declared, “that the poor people are hence forward afraid to go to sea to follow their callings, the throwing them over-board making a great cry and alteration among those that earn their bread so hardly at sea.”
The enemy on the other hand resolved to cast our fishers and merchantmen over-board, and give quarter to our ships of war.And tho’ it be true, that the greatest part of all these hardships of our inhabitants was caused by the ill government of the deputies of the generality, and the prince of Orange, who used the power of these countries to make new conquests, not to defend trade and navigation; and yet as if we had been the only masters at sea, and had no unarmed ships abroad, nor the Dunkirkers any ships of defence, we followed those incredibly foolish councils, of resolving to throw over-board all Dunkirkers taken at sea in ships of war: whereas on the contrary, the Flemings used very prudent maxims about this matter, namely to throw the men of undefensible vessels over-board, and to give quarter to our armed ships of war. Nevertheless none dared to complain of this evil government of the states general, and the prince of Orange, no not even of young William of Nassau.See the petition of the council, 1629.* But the pigs were fain to pay for the sow’s offence; and therefore upon the ill conduct of the admiralties, and especially of the college of Rotterdam,To quiet the commonalty, some of the admiralty were punish’d, and new orders given out. the Heeren Berk, Vander Mast, Segwaars, Verheuel, Nicolai, Vroesen, and Duifbuysen, who had done no more than what was in mode during prince Henry’s wastful administration in all the colleges, especially that of the generality, were nevertheless declared infamous by judges delegated for that end, and condemned in great fines to allay the discontent of the multitude. The states general also declared, that the following year they would set out more ships of war in order to clear the seas;Aitzma of that year, B. 6. p. 97. and would make the people to believe, that a competent number of ships should lie on the watch before Dunkirk, to prevent the coming out of those ships, while another number should lie between Dover and Calais, and another at the Schager Rif, to watch and prevent all sea-robbers sailing to the Spanish sea, or to the northward. And besides all these, another number of our ships of war should cruise in the narrow part of the north sea; so that the enemy should not be able by any means to interrupt or disturb our navigation.
But because no better order was settled about the affairs of justice, nor any thing determined about the finances, from whence the payment of the new appointed rewards for taking of enemy’s ships should proceed, nor any of our maritime affairs better managed than formerly;But without effect, because they would not leave their ill principles in sea-affairs. the hopes of the too credulous commonalty soon vanished, especially when the Dunkirkers in the year 1627, infested us again before our sea-port towns, and took as many prizes as formerly, seizing several busses, and two of the busses convoyers, whilst young William admiral of Holland was killed before Grol, and Jonker Philip van Dorp lieutenant admiral of Zealand cruised at sea, and none of our ships before Dunkirk to keep in their capers; who coming to lie on our coast about the Texel, the Maese, and Zealand, swept away all, together with the ship of captain Bagyn, who heretofore on many occasions had behaved himself bravely and valiantly, and from a cloth-worker was by degrees preferred to the honour of having the command of one of our best ships of war: but now finding himself alone in the midst of fourteen of the enemies ships of war, he yielded his new and well appointed ship without making one shot.
Wassenar, p. 31. on that year. Whereby these countries were reduc’d lower than ever since the truce.The politicians of those times judged, “That the trade of these countries was never since the truce in so ill a condition: for Spain could do no good; Portugal was without trade; France by the king’s edicts was shut up; England detained all ships that passed the channel, and seized sixty or eighty tuns of gold belonging to the free Netherlanders: the rivers of Weser or Elve, Trave, Oder, and Wissel, were so infested and block’d by the Danish and Swedish ships of war, that little or no trade could be driven with Bremen, Hamburgh, Lubeck, Stetin, and Dantzick; and the north sea was render’d impracticable by the Dunkirkers. By which means the commonalty were as much dissatisfied as ever, when our ships of war came in and had done nothing; insomuch that those of Flushing fell into a mutiny, and at Terveer threw stones at lieutenant admiral Van Dorp. So to pacify the people, they were necessitated to fine the pigs once again; and some sea-captains were dismiss’d, and poor captain Bagyn having no friends at court, summo jure, lost his head.
In the year 1628, for the greater safety of our navigation, three vice-admirals were created in Holland; who nevertheless were to be commanded by the lieutenant-admiral of Zealand.So the states of Zealand deposed their admiral. Aitzma’s hist. B. 9. p. 730. But the Dunkirkers, according to their old custom, seized many Strait ships, with other merchant-men, and at two several times took 34 busses, tho’ lieutenant admiral Van Dorp with a squadron of ten ships had lain ten weeks upon the coast of England without hearing of an enemy, and our coast ships and cruisers were likewise at sea.Lib. 8. p. 627. Which the states of Holland took so ill, that they dismissed Philips van Dorp at his return without a hearing. The council of state had also sent a letter in April of the same year to the provinces, complaining of the confusions in the “publick revenues, which was the cause of the arrears due to the military forces both by sea and land;And the council of state complained of this confusion of affairs. and that the revenues and charges of the country were not duly considered and weighed one against the other: that disorders increased more and more; that the credit of the country was daily sinking; that the soldiery was mutinous and disobedient, and that all military discipline and justice were trodden under foot, &c.
Both which things prince Henry took very ill.These proceedings were taken very ill by the deputies of the generality and the prince: and Heer Van Dorp was still continued in the land service. Strict enquiry was also made among the counsellors of state, to know who they were that durst be the chief promoters of the complaining letter before mentioned: and all this was done to deter others from complaining against the government of the deputies of the generality, and especially of the cabinet lords, who together with the prince look’d after nothing more in this confusion, than their own profit and grandeur.
But upon the continual complaints of the merchants of Amsterdam to their burgo-masters, of the unexpressible damages which they sustained in their bodies and goods by continual piracies, and the little care taken of their redress;The rulers of Amsterdam would have scour’d the seas with ten ships of war, but it was denied them. them. See Aitzma’s hist. B. 8. p. 679. and the said burgomasters, and council, made offers to the states general and prince of Orange to set to sea ten or twelve men of war well mann’d and furnished, to secure their shipping, which should receive instructions from the states general, and a commission from the prince; provided the money disburbed upon this design might be defalked from the contribution of that city; and that no other person might have any power, or be any way concerned about that equipage and money but themselves. And tho’ formerly, under the insupportable government of the earls of Holland, all the cities of that province used by their own authority to do the same; yet nevertheless this good and useful offer was rejected under the present stadtholder’s government, as if that city would by this means obtain too great a power at sea. Whereas on the contrary it appeared that the sea became more and more unnavigated, because the country and cities which were most concerned to keep the sea uninfested, had no authority put into their hands, as they had under the government of their earls.
Aitzma’s hist. B. 9. p. 709.And to the end that the deputies of the generality, and prince of Orange, might shew their usual zeal in this affair, the articles for the war at sea were anno 1629, inspected and made more severe. A project also of an insurance company was brought in;But the pr. of Orange, and the deputies of the generality manifested their wonted zeal. according to which all ships outward and inward bound, should pay for insurance, from one to thirteen per cent. in proportion to the conveniency of the sea ports to or from which our ships were to sail; and the said company was to be bound to make good all losses sustained. After which Peter Hein was chosen lieutenant admiral of Holland,Ibid. p. 730. who for the redress of maritime affairs desired many new powers relating to the militia, justice, and expences on board ships; and did not only obtain those, but also more authority than had ever been given to any lieutenant admiral of Holland.
But he being killed by a shot two months after, whilst with eight ships he was in pursuit of three Dunkirkers;But without any good issue. there can be no account given of the fruits of this new order, save that the charges were increased, and yet the seas remained as much infested as before.Aitzma, B. 10. p. 171. ’Tis uneasy to me to enumerate the losses sustained by our poor inhabitants, which were so exceeding great, that the states of Holland, on the 18th of January 1630, remonstrated to the states general, “That the strength, vigour, and reputation of this state by sea was wholly decayed, and the navigation signally diminished: that many mariners, for want of care and due defence, were gone over to the enemy, and many more taken and kept in close imprisonment, or cruelly thrown into the sea:So that the states of Holland moved that they would postpone paying the unnecessary land-forces, the better to keep the sea clear. and that the said states of Holland, to prevent such mischiefs for the future, had resolved, and now signified to the other provinces, that they would from this time take as little care for the payment of the land forces that were garison’d in the frontier cities out of their province, as they observed was taken about the conduct and affairs of the sea.”
But the states of Holland were under that awe and dread of the prince of Orange, and the deputies of the generality, that they durst not deny or detain their part of the publick contributions to be imployed in securing the seas; and so nothing was done but a little dust thrown into the eyes of the poor innocent inhabitants of Holland: for the states and the prince sent letters with their decrees about that affair to the other provinces. But our want of payment, and the disorders about the mariners, and neglecting the guard of the seas still continued, and increased in the year 1631.Aitzma, B. 11. p. 354. For though the states general had granted, that the burgomasters and magistrates of the cities of Amsterdam, Horn, Enchuysen, Edam, Medenblick, Harlingen,Such shipping as sailed northward and eastward, had convoys paid by themselves, but not without hard conditions. &c. should chuse certain directors, who might collect of all ships and goods sailing to the eastward or Norway, one half per cent. and returning from the same, one per cent. to enable them to set out some extraordinary convoys to secure the trade of the said countries. Yet this imposition produc’d only a part of the expected fruit, chiefly because the directors were in all weighty matters of the militia, justice, and prizes taken, to be wholly subject to the prince of Orange, and the respective admiralties, depending on their orders and judgments.Ibid. p. 350. And the deputies of the generality devolv’d the authority of clearing the seas on pr. Henry. And the deputies of the generality continuing to advance the prince’s grandeur, and their own, more than the welfare of Holland, resolved in the name of the states general, to equip, over and above the usual number, 35 ships of war, and 10 yachts to lie upon the Flemish havens, and to cruise and keep the north sea clear of Dunkirk robbers. And that they might with more certainty perform this (as they pretended) they brought all the said ships under one head, and put them under the direction and orders of the prince of Orange, without obliging them to obey the commands of any other: they ordered them to be paid by him, and that all money necessary for wages, rewards, and provisions, should be brought to the Hague in specie. And to the end that during the summer-season these ships might be kept in continual action, the respective colleges of the admiralties of Holland, Zealand and Friesland, should by turns keep one of their commissioners at Helvoetsluys, in order to hold a constant correspondence with the prince, and the prince’s commander on the coast, as occasion should require, touching the victualling and repairing of the said ships; and the commissioners of the admiralty were not to intermeddle in the least with the disposal of the said ships.
Ibid. p. 360.And this went so far, that vice-admiral Liefhebher, instead of going to cruise, having convoy’d some merchant ships out of the channel, tho’ by order of the admiralty of Rotterdam, was threatned to be severely punished if for the future he followed any other orders save those of the states general and the prince.Ibid. p. 144. By this means our countrymen were oppressed, and the Dunkirkers so encouraged, that they ventured to take a merchant ship even from under the cannon of Flushing, and in the north sea two of our ships of war;But the inhabitants never more exposed to the Dunkirkers than then. and afterwards falling in among our doggers, took two convoyers, besides the doggers. So that the insurances from Rochel and Bourdeaux rising to 8 and 10 per cent. the sea became useless to the inhabitants of these countries.
Historical narration of 1632. p. 56.Bernard Lamp, having observed in his history, “That formerly a small number of our ships kept the sea so clear against all the naval power of the king of Spain, that till the year 1612 these countries had very few losses, wonders that all the states ships of war, being little less than an hundred sail, either could not, or would not keep the seas clear of the Dunkirkers only, for the king’s ships were not employed there in those days, but some particular owners set out for the most part small ships for booty:So that our histories doubt whether the state was willing to scour the seas, for the prince was not to spoken of. and adds farther, that a few years after that time, so many rich laden merchant ships were taken by the Dunkirkers, that the loss was valued at more than one hundred tuns of gold.
But if we consider how great the difference is, whether the care of scouring the seas be entrusted to those who are much concerned in having them kept clear, and who on that account will use the best of their endeavours, or be devolved on such as are not at all concerned in navigation; we shall cease to wonder, when so much power was put into the hands of such as were not interested at sea, and were not a little suspected to fear and envy the prosperity and power of Holland, that they did not guard the seas against a few pirates, who for their own profit sought their booty where it was to be found.
But at last some privateers being perswaded by great rewards, it appeared how easily the narrow seas could be scour’d. See the placaet book 11 of March 1632. Aitzma, p. 145.In the mean time, to deceive the poor innocent commonalty once more, the directors appointed to take care of the shipping designed to the eastward and Norway, were by placaet continued, and private ships of war by great rewards persuaded to take and destroy the enemies ships. Upon which divers good patriots fitted out ships for that end; and this small strength being in the hands of those who really intended to destroy the enemies ships, it was observed, especially of two ships of Flushing, the one called the Samson mounted with 24 guns, 100 seamen, and 30 soldiers, and the other called the Flushing, mounted with 22 guns, 100 seamen, and 30 soldiers, that they took so many of the enemies ships, and prisoners, that by their means a general release was thrice made on both sides, the Dunkirkers so discouraged and weakned, and the seas so well cleared, that the insurances from Rochel and Bourdeaux fell to three in the hundred.And by the ill payment of so small a sum it was seen that the pr. of Orange and the deputies would not keep the seas uninfested. Aitzma p. 146.
But because these worthy patriots, among whom Adrian and Cornelis Lamsins were the chief, for want of Dunkirk privateers, could fight for no more booty, but chiefly by reason of the too slow, or refused payments of the promised rewards, they fitted out no more ships, and the clearing of the seas coming again to depend on the deputies of the generality and the prince of Orange, the Dunkirkers returned again to sea as strong in the following years as before, and made it equally dangerous;Ibid. p. 512. the rates of insurance rising as high as formerly. And it was very observable, that tho’ for the payment of this so necessary and well-deserved reward only two hundred thousand guilders were demanded yearly by the council of state, yet the same council, and the states of Holland and Zealand jointly, for the year 1643, before prince Henry’s doating old age, could not obtain that sum of the the generality to pay the promised reward to the new cruizers, whilst, for the following years, until our peace with Spain, the same, or greater petitions for money by land and sea, were granted to the council of state, and consented to, and borne by the Hollanders. So that Holland, from the year 1632, to the year 1647, was necessitated to take up sixty-nine millions, making, with the forementioned fifty and one, one hundred and twenty millions of guilders at interest, besides thirteen millions that were to be paid for current debts, that the prince and the deputies of the generality might proceed in their offensive wars by land.
And their ill influence especially appear’d about the West-India company.And as if it were not enough that the good people of these countries, and the state of Holland itself were every way opprest by land with so many imposts, taxes, and immense sums of money taken up at interest, as well as by continual and unexpressibly great losses by sea, the deputies of the generality, and the prince of Orange likewise desired, and from time to time very subtilly, and with promises of gratuities to the directors of the West-India company, that they would desist from their trade which was driven for the common benefit of the subscribers, and which according to their oath might not cease, and would employ that money for the indispensible service of the country, by carrying on a more vigorous war against the king of Spain.See the remonstrance and request for continuing their charter, 1668. p. 3, 4, &c. And by such powerful solicitations, and artificial promises, they were induced to make not a merchant-like, but a prince-like war, and to make those royal conquests of Brazil, Angola, St. Thomas, &c. for the benefit of the states general, and of the prince, as indeed was* at first designed.
By this means the greatest part of their capital stock was consumed and embezzeled, and the honest subscribers, with other inhabitants concerned in that company, lost above one hundred and eighteen millions of guilders:They made the participants poor, and then deserted them. J. de Laat’s short relation, p. 25. Aitzma p. 198. and when the said company afterwards were grown so weak, that they could no longer keep those vast conquests by their own power, the deputies of the generality, and the successive princes of Orange, for whose benefit those lands were conquered, meanly abandoning their own interest, suffered these excellent and vast countries to fall into and continue in the hands of the false and treacherous Portuguese; whereby our inhabitants lost (besides the foresaid vast sums) in goods, chattels, houses, debts, &c. fifty millions of guilders more, and were also utterly excluded from that advantageous trade and navigation. But to return to the government and conduct of publick affairs in our Netherlands, I say, that tho’ Holland was thus intolerably opprest, and borne down, yet in the year 1633, Rynberg was taken;Chusing rather to keep up the war by land, to run the treasury of Holland 120 millions in debt. and in the year 1634, Breda and Mastricht were besieged in vain, and our chargeable army lay a long time in the Langestraat. And in the year 1635, with a very great army, and more charge, we did nothing in the field, only Tienen was plundered, and Schenkenschans lost. Likewise in the year 1636, our army with many ships lay about the Schans of Voorn, and afterwards in the Langestraat to no purpose.See Aitzma upon the respective years. And in the year 1637, Breda was taken with very great charges: and on the other side, Venlo and Ruremonde were lost. As also in the following year, after great expence, we lost much reputation before Calloo, where the enemy killed 2000 of our soldiers, and took 1200 prisoners, with all our cannon, eighty ships, and much baggage. And tho’ our army that lay before Gelder was much stronger than the enemy, yet we quitted the siege, with the loss of six demi-canoon, and two standards. In the year 1639, our army with fifteen hundred vessels in Flanders effected nothing, and were again compelled to retreat from before Gelder, and march to Rynberg. The same army did afterwards no better at Hulst; nor in the following year 1640, at which time count Henry of Friesland was there killed; and our army, tho’ intrenched, drew off a third time in a flying posture from Gelder, without daring to encounter a much weaker enemy, the prince of Orange having then the conduct and command in person, who, notwithstanding many expensive and fruitless expeditions into Flanders, Brabant and Gelderland, had, by his excessive power in these countries, gained the name of a very wise and valiant general.J. V. Veen Rymes. But in Flanders and Burgundy he was derided, even in their comedies, for a coward; in one of which he was anatomized, and upon search his heart found in his heels, the rabble having nothing more frequently in their mouths than the following rhyme,
However in the year 1641, with excessive expences he took Genniper-house, after a bloody siege of seven weeks. And in the year 1642, as also in 1643, our army was in the field about six months without effecting any thing; but in the year 1644, after six weeks siege, and much blood spilt, the Sas van Gent was taken. And finally, in the year 1645, after a long campaign, and six weeks siege, Hulst was yielded. And tho’ our army lay in the year 1646 about Antwerp, and afterwards before Venlo, yet we got nothing but dishonour in those attempts.
All which sums were mostly employ’d to aggrandize France, while the sea was neglected.And it is observable, that all our chargeable campaigns, and taxes for the army, tended chiefly to increase the power of the French, (who in the mean time took many cities from the Spaniard) but not at all to the benefit of our own people, either by sea or land. For tho’ the province of Holland contributed in extraordinary subsidies two millions yearly for scouring of the seas, and continued so to do to the end of the war; yet the other United Provinces were not so forward.Aitzma. And tho’ for some years past, the governments of Spain and Flanders set not out any ships for booty against us, but left that work to be carried on by private capers, yet the sea remained still infested in such a manner, that the Dunkirkers in the year 1635 took all the buss-convoys, and many busses, while most of our ships of war for want of payment lay by the walls.
And tho’ the council of state, and the states of Holland complained of this neglect at sea, and prayed that some better order might be settled for prompt payment of the premiums promised to the particular privateers, by whom we had reaped great advantage;Ibid p. 344. yet the deputies of the generality, or rather those of the prince’s cabinet, according to their old way, found it convenient once more to delude the well-meaning people;Polity of the cabinet lords was only to aggrandize the prince, and to lessen Holland. and to appease them, anno 1636, they accused and dismissed fourteen sea captains, with some further punishment, making a new regulation concerning the guarding of the Flemish coast, and keeping the narrow seas uninfested by twenty-two ships and ten yatchts, which were to be under the inspection of the prince of Orange, and such deputies of the generality as he should please to choose. These depending on the prince’s favour, and making that their aim and interest more than the service of their native country, labouring by all means to augment the prince’s authority, and lessen that of the states, by this means had the name of the cabinet lords given them by the lovers of their country’s freedom: and so you will find them named sometimes in the following discourse. And this was really* what Tacitus said of Augustus Cæsar: “This prince raised himself by degrees, grasping into his own hands the business of the senate, of the magistrates, and of the laws; while no body dared to oppose him: for the stoutest were cut off, either by being sent to the army, or by proscription. The rest of the nobility, by how much the more they were slavish in temper, by so much the more were they advanced to wealth and honours, chose rather to sit down contented with their present state of security, than to venture the recovering of their antient liberty with running any hazard.” The usual way of all crafty and arbitrary usurpers.
So that to enlarge the authority of the prince of Orange over the navigation of Holland, and to put it effectually under his power, eleven hundred and eight thousand eight hundred and seventy guilders were yearly levied, and superintendants appointed for that service, with purveyors or victuallers, who were to be accountable to the chamber of accounts of the generality. Also all commanders and captains were chosen by the said prince, who were to be punished by a council of war of his nomination, and a narrow scrutiny to be made into their conduct. And to encourage them to do their duties, their wages were raised. So that according to this new order, the respective admiralties had nothing to transact, but to be judges of the prizes taken, to collect the convoy and custom-revenues, with which, and with two millions of subsidies, they were to set out ships of war, to be convoys to the westward.
So that Jonker Philips van Dorp laid down his commission of admiral. Ibid. B. 7. p. 619.But it soon appeared that this new authority, which was put into the hands of those who had nothing to lose at sea, produced worse effects than ever: for, before the year 1637, there was so little care taken, that Jonker Philips van Dorp, lieutenant-admiral of Holland, going to sea with this princely fleet very late, and his provisions being spent in a very short time, was compelled to return home;Ibid. p. 621. and finding that the commonalty accused him, and not the victuallers, nor the prince of Orange, who really were in the fault, and would possibly have punished him rather than the guilty, he laid down his commission.
Selden’s mare clausom. Aitzma B. 16. p. 266. Ibid. p. 277. Mr. Semeins Harink Vissery.In the mean the English challenged the sovereignty of the narrow seas, alledging, that the fishery belonged solely to them. But their intestine divisions, and not our sea forces, put a stop to that work, and their herring-fishing, then newly begun, ceased. It is observable, that when they had taken their herring at one and the same time and place with the Hollanders, and sent them to Dantzick in the years 1637 and 1638, and found that the herring taken and cured by the Hollanders was approved and good, and that the English herring to the very last barrel were esteemed naught; they then changed their claim upon the whole fishery, into that of having the tenth herring, which the diligent and frugal inhabitants of Holland reputed no less than to fish for, and pay tribute to a slothful and prodigal people, for a passage by the coast of England,And the K. of England pretended to the dominion of the narrow seas which yet must have been paid, had not the free government of the states of Holland, in the year 1667, brought those maritime affairs into another state and condition.
Aitzma, Book 17. p. 622.In the same year ’twas publickly shewn, “That the inhabitants of these countries could not possibly keep the sea any longer after this manner, and amongst others, they brought the example of Maesland-Sluice, whence there used every harvest season about fifty vessels for haddock to go to sea, which number was in the last harvest 1636, diminished to ten, out of which also two were taken.And when our ruined inhabitants complained of their losses by sea, and imprisonment of their persons, That their dogger-fishing, which was not to be parallel’d in Europe, was now become so inconsiderable, that it was doubted whether in the year 1637, so much as one dogger would go to sea for salt cod, seeing since the first of January 1631, there had been taken of the Maesland Sluice vessels by the Dunkirkers alone, above two hundred ships, each of them, one with the other, worth above 5000 guilders: there having the like loss happened in other havens, or vessels set out for fishing; so that the general cry of the people of those places ascended to the heavens, and was sufficient to melt a heart of stone.”
And seeing the merchants who sustained the loss, and the wives, children, parents, and relations of the imprison’d sea men, and fishers continually upbraided the admiral, vice admiral, and captains of ships, with their ill conduct;It was little regarded by pr. Henry. Aitzma p. 343. on the year 1636. prince Henry seemed to lament their case, more than that of the miserable commonalty, saying, that there is no condition more wretched than that of the admiral, and sea captains, seeing that the meanest fisher-wife having lost her husband, exclaimed, that the admirals and sea captains did not their duty, &c. and yet to pacify the people, who foolishly conceiv’d that the gentlemen Opdam, Hautain, Nassau and Dorp, were successively the sole cause of their past calamities, the prince of Orange chose two tarpaulins (as some call them) Martin Harperson Tromp, and Witte Cornelissen de Witte, for admiral and vice admiral.To pacify those innocent persons he placed tarpaulins for admirals, instead of yonkers or gentlemen. But it soon appeared, that those mentioned losses were but sorrily provided against by the continual ill management of publick affairs at land, and the neglect of securing the seas. For tho’ the king of Spain and the government of Flanders, had for a long time forborn to set out ships of war to prey upon us in the narrow seas, yet did not the owners of privateers at Dunkirk neglect to set out the capers;Aitzma, Book 18. p. 91. and Book 19. p. 172. but in the year 1638, by reason of their disorders about our coast-ships, and clearing of the seas according to the old practice, they did not only go to sea, and take many merchantmen, but also about the end of October dispers’d all the busses, which fled home very much disabled, and some without their nets;When yet the losses by sea continued, the states of Holland complained that the money collected to clear the seas was imploy’d for land service. while admiral Tromp coming on shore himself to be revictualled, accused vice admiral Berkhem, who came in likewise without the least necessity, and for which he was dismissed by the new council of war, tho’ unheard, and the poor suffering commonalty were with this punishment once again appeased in some measure: but not so the states of Holland, who knowing that the prince of Orange, and deputies of the generality had now, as often before, made use of the product of the convoys, customs and subsidies, which were only to be applied to maritime affairs, for carrying on the war by land, (by which means the guarding and clearing of the seas came to be neglected) earnestly desired that all sums of money which had formerly been appropriated to the service of the sea, might be effectually applied that way.
And several cities in Holland, together with the province of Utrecht, taking notice of the disorder and ill management of the prince, and his assumed cabinet council, in our maritime affairs, shew’d their unwillingness to bring in their portion of the 1108870 guilders, which were yearly demanded by the prince for that end;It is no wonder that the Dunkirkers took ships before our ports. yet on account of his great power, Holland and divers other provinces were obliged to bear the burden, to the year 1647, and our peace with Spain. And tho’ at the beginning of the year 1639, in a sea-fight about Dunkirk, we got the victory, in which the Dunkirkers lost two ships of war;Aitzma, Book 14. p. 168. yet did Tromp then with the ships under his command, very imprudently leave the sea; so that the Dunkirkers came and brav’d us before our harbours, where, by reason of our defective management in refitting and victualling, they lay ’till mid-June, and took 13 of our ships in a short time.
And whilst Tromp afterwards waited for the great Spanish fleet, anno 1639, between the two piers of Dover and Calais and before Dunkirk, our merchant-men and fishers were abandoned, thirty or forty privateers of Dunkirk lying at the mouth of our harbours, so that none of our merchant ships or busses durst go to sea.Pag. 229. And upon this followed in October the engagement about the Downs, where the Spaniard having lost by sinking, burning, stranding and taking, 40 ships, most of ours came home;Even after our victory in the Downs. and having left the sea, the Dunkirkers came again before our harbours, and in few days took twenty seven prizes, of which 11 in one day. And thus by continual disorders and losses at sea, the trade of these countries was so diminished,Ibid. p. 230. See the placaet book. that the revenues of the admiralties, in the year 1628, having yielded about sixteen hundred thousand guilders, those very duties, to the 24th of October this year, notwithstanding the new impositions, produced to the state only twelve hundred thousand guilders. And therefore it was thought necessary to erect a new tax of tonnage, which should amount to five hundred and ninety eight thousand five hundred and seventy five guilders; and also another new tax to clear the seas, which might produce five hundred eighty-one thousand and seventeen guilders.
Aitzma, p. 230.However the deputies of Holland, in the assembly of the states general, and presence of the prince of Orange, declared, “That it was the intention of their principals, that the cruisers or privateers, by whom the country had been so signally served, and who had only declared that service because they were not paid their promised rewards, should be invited to return to sea, and that a certain fund should be appointed for their immediate payment.” But this just and useful motion was neglected.
Matters standing thus, prince Henry and the deputies of the generality, endeavoured to persuade the states of Holland, and privately the cities in an unwarrantable manner, that the colleges and orders of the admiralties were not sufficient to clear the seas from enemies;Which the deputies of the generality, and pr. Henry proposing to secure with many new expedients; Aitzma, Book 19. p. 230. and therefore moved the said cities to consent, that the equipage of ships might be continued at Helvoetsluys, and for that end, that a new college of admiralty might be erected to reside at the Hague; and that an insurance company might be established, as before mentioned, and settled by patent. And moreover, that the revenues of the admiralties might be farmed to such as should bid most. And lastly, that all persons being under oath to the generality, should be tried for their faults and crimes by the council of state, or the respective admiralties.
In opposition to which the states of Holland shewed how prejudicial those equipments, or setting out ships to sea, had been by means of the superintendants and purveyors, or victuallers at Helvoetsluys;The states of Holland, and especially the magistrates of Amsterdam, set themselves stoutly against it. and also that the admiralties of Zealand and Friesland respectively had never consented to have any equipments made there: that most of the provinces, except Holland, in the payment of their proportion of 1108870 guilders designed thereunto, were always slow and remiss, as to the whole, or else deficient in part: and that the admiralties would and could better equip or set forth ships to sea than others; and that an insurance company would so burden and clog our trade, that our inhabitants would not be able to sell so cheap as our neighbours: and that the farmers would not have any regard to the durable prosperity of commerce, but to their present profit, and possibly might value themselves upon the seizure of goods, whereby they might so plague the merchants, that they would rather cease trading, or leave the country. And concerning the point of jurisdiction to be granted to the generality, and to the respective admiralties, that ’tis a matter of so great importance, that the whole sovereignty of the provinces would necessarily be thereby transferred to them.
Aitzm. B. 19. p. 176. So that they proceeded no further; the sea in the interim being as much infested as before, tho’ the states of Holland represented how easily it might be kept clear.But the prince of Orange and the deputies of the generality were not well pleased with the representation made by the states of Holland and West-Friesland, and still resolved to carry on their design, and by their greatness to overpower them, sending no table addresses, however illegal, for that end, to the particular cities, and especially to the burgomasters and council of Amsterdam; by whose good management and firm opposition, as also by prince Henry’s smooth and easy maxims which hitherto he had followed, that he might be thought unlike his hated brother, together with a fear of being reputed as arbitrary as Maurice had been, this design failed, and went no further.
And tho’ Holland was thus saved from sudden ruin, yet the uneasiness and losses of the trading and maritime inhabitants still continued: so that the council of state, and the states of Holland, once more remonstrated, that the private capers of Dunkirk had done us more mischief than ever the king’s ships had done; and that we on our side had seen that our cruisers fitted out by private men, in hopes of the reward promised fortaking the enemies ships, had in a short time purged the seas from depredations; and that those robbers were again abroad, perceiving our capers, for want of such payment, went out no more against the Dunkirk robbers, but only against merchant ships; and therefore the said states most instantly desired to have the placaet renewed, whereby the said rewards may certainly and immediately be paid. But this was not granted.
By means of all which disorders it was no wonder that little less than nineteen millions was granted according to the petitionary request of the council of state for this year, and yet nothing done. On the contrary, lieutenant admiral Tromp, on the 14th of March of the ensuing year 1640, gave advice, that the Dunkirkers had then 40 sail of ships at sea, taking rich prizes, and skimming the seas by squadrons: so that the very convoys of this state were unsecure, and often taken;All which losses and taxes occasioned a vast number of bankrupts. and that on our side vice admiral de Witte was at sea with 6 or 7 sail only: so that the great losses of the merchants, which had continued so many years, produced in the years 1639, and 1640, in the province of Holland, and chiefly at Amsterdam, more bankrupts of the richest and worthiest traders than ever had been known or heard in these countries. And for this reason those of Holland proposed to the assembly of the states general, in presence of the prince of Orange, and concluded, that the respective admiralties should, as formerly, set out ships for guard of the coast, and cruisers;Aitzma, B. 22. p. 190. and that four receivers should be appointed to receive the money required to that end, that so it might not be mixed with other monies, or employed to pay the debts of the admiralties.
The states of Holland again threatned to defer paying the unnecessary land forces, the better to clear the seas, but for fear omitted it.And in regard every one could perceive that this order was not effectual enough to clear the seas, 159 of the principal merchants of Amsterdam, in the beginning of the year 1641, joined with the states of Holland, and besought the states general, that better care might be taken to keep in the Dunkirkers than formerly; adding, that in case it were not done, they would detain their money given for payment of 50 companies of soldiers, levied in the year 1628, and clear the seas themselves. But at that time the prince of Orange, and the deputies of the generality, who were supported and encouraged by him, were still so much dreaded, that the states of Holland durst not undertake to intermeddle with a matter so much for the advantage of our trade and fishery.Aitzma Book 22. p. 360. Wherefore the Dunkirkers continued going to sea, and not only so, but took prizes at the mouth of our harbours:So that the Dunkirkers gain’d ground upon us. J. V. Sand. hist. particularly in April, 1642, with 22 frigates they seized all they met with, and among others, eighteen ships belonging to Zierickzee. And on the 5th of November 10 Dunkirk frigates were so bold, that they fell upon the whole Russia fleet; and having taken of them eighteen merchant ships, and a man of war, the other convoy with eight Russia men more, hardly escaped.
And altho’ the deputies of the great fishery had complained in June to the deputies of the generality of their losses, and desired better protection; yet we may easily perceive how little the prince of Orange, and the deputies regarded the loss, and complaints of the seamen, and trading inhabitants, since instead of redressing matters, they had not only in the foregoing year employed the money granted for that end, in setting out a fleet of twenty ships for the assistance of Portugal;And that in lieu of redressing our merchants and fishers complaints, their money was diverted to assist Portugal. but also, tho’ that fleet had effected nothing for the benefit of these countries, nor could do it, yet nevertheless for the same end, the generality made a new demand of 600000 guilders. So that we may justly say, that the prince of Orange, with the deputies of the generality, and the inland provinces, made it their principal business to pay their land army, and in case of any deficiency,Aitzma, B. 21. p. 195. B. 22. p. 374. to connive at false musters; taking all possible care so to order matters, that the taxes for the army might be well paid, or else Holland was put to find money or credit for that purpose.And the officers of the army paid to the full, and liberally rewarded besides. Yet for all this, when the states of Holland had freely and readily levied many and great taxes to clear the seas, they were forced to let them fall into the hands of those who employed them to other ends: the states of Holland continuing in such an awful reverence for the prince; and some others who laboured more to advance his interest, and get his favour, than to procure the prosperity of the country, that they durst not make use of their own money to clear the sea. Only those of Holland and Zealand consulted together to scour the seas at their own charge distinct from the other provinces;New taxes proposed to defend the Western navigation, under direction of particular persons. but would not execute their project for fear of offending the prince. Yet those of Zealand took a vigorous resolution to erect a western society, to set out 24 ships of war, out of the produce of a duty of one per Cent. upon all goods inward, and one half per Cent. upon all goods outward bound, to maintain convoys for all ships to the westward, forwards and backwards.
By all which it appears how much the trade and navigation of our people was at that time abandoned by the government: for the East and West-India companies, together with the Greenland company, prohibited them failing into those seas. The great fishery northward and eastward, were forced to pay their own convoys.As if all other taxes were paid for nothing, and all the inhabitants that used the sea were perfectly abandoned of the state. The Straits ships were to defend themselves against the Turks by their chargeable manning and arming, according to the new regulation. And yet they deliberated to put the charge of convoying westward upon the merchants, as if all duties raised for convoys, customs, and subsidies, as well as all other imposts, were paid for nothing, and ought to be wrested from the trading inhabitants, and other people of Holland, to the end that province might not increase, but decay in power and riches.
But at last the states of Holland and Zealand procured a certain fund for the premium.But the western society not going on, those of Holland and Zealand jointly remonstrated so earnestly the necessity of better clearing of the seas, and the usefulness of private ships of war, if care were taken that the rewards so often promised might be readily paid, that at last in the year 1643, out of certain new imposts a fund was raised of 200000 guilders to pay the reward promised for all the enemies ships of war that had been taken. So that by renewing the placaet, the inhabitants and magistrates of the cities of Holland were encourged to set out ships of war for that service.Aitzma, p. 578.
And tho’ the commonalty during this long and ill government of publick affairs, were made to believe that the sea was so wide and vast, that it could not be cleared from the Dunkirkers; yet by these new cruisers which were set out by the magistrates of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the cities of North-Holland, and some particular persons of Zealand, it soon appeared that not only the narrow seas, but the ocean also could very well be freed of them: for so soon as the clearing of the seas was effectually undertaken, and men encouraged by the reward, there were so many Spanish men of war taken, and beaten out of the seas, that in lieu of giving 8 or 10 per cent. for insurance to Rochel or Bourdeaux, it fell to two or three only.
And tho’ by their free and open navigation thus procured, and the increase of commerce both in Holland and Zealand which followed thereupon, those provinces were likely to grow so strong, as to be too high to crouch to the captain and admiral general; yet prince Henry, weakened with age, could not remedy that growing inconveniency, as he had formerly done.See the placaet book of the states general. Which was so well known to the states, and particularly to those of Holland, that in the year 1645, the new cruisers were encouraged to continue their care of the seas, by more advantageous conditions than before: till in the end a peace with Spain was concluded in the year 1648, which put an end to the war, and Flemish privateering.
But whilst the prince of Orange, and his cabinet council, the deputies of the generality, transported with ambition and jealousy of Holland’s greatness and power, help’d to break the ballance between France and Spain to the prejudice of all Europe, and of us in particular, making the crown of France visibly to preponderate the other, and too long favouring their arms with so great imprudence, that admiral Tromp with his princely fleet of coast-ships, holding in the years 1644, 1645, and 1646 successively, Graveling, Mardike, the Schuurtien, and Dunkirk itself block’d up by sea, caused them to fall into the hands of the French.See Aitzma on those respective years. In recompence of which they burdened our countrymen residing in France with higher duties than any other nation paid. Besides which they shew’d their thievish nature, by seizing in the Mediterranean seas as many as they could of our merchant ships, especially the richest; and manifested their unfaithfulness against their even too faithful allies.At last we had peace with Spain, but France began to prey upon us by sea. So that whereas in times past we had traded in some parts of Italy belonging to the king of Spain with freedom, and without search, the French caused all our ships to strike; and having by letters or bills of lading found any enemy’s goods on board, they did not only confiscate them, but also all the Holland goods with them: whereby the merchants of Amsterdam alone, as they have owned, lost more than ten millions of guilders.Which caused a vast number of bankrupts. Which added to the revolt of the treacherous Portuguese in Brazil, Angola, and St. Thomas, lay so heavy upon them, that in the years 1646, and 1647, bankrupts were become frequent and great; our traffick and exchange banks being at a stand for some time, no man knowing whom to trust. And indeed how great those losses must have been that were able to ruin so many rich and worthy merchants, may appear, if we consider that the English, during the war of the years 1652 and 1653, having taken in the Channel and North-Sea an incredible number of our merchants ships, nevertheless very few bankrupts were seen amongst our merchants, and almost none except among the insurers.
But how these French depredations ceased after the death of the last captain-general, shall be explained hereafter among the good fruits of the free and easy government of Holland.And these new troubles by sea lasted till after the death of pr. William. And now for conclusion, I shall desire the reader, if he doubt of the truth here related concerning our affairs of state and war by sea and land, to examine the same more amply and fully by the books of Lewis van Aitzma (by the confession of all an authentick historian) from whence these particulars are for the most part extracted, and to consider at the same time whether the increase of the riches of the inhabitants of Holland in general, during the government of those cabinet lords, and successive princes, be not very impertinently attributed to that government, seeing that increase, next to the blessing of God, was caused by our good situation on the sea, and rivers, and, as is usual, by the* destructive wars which lasted very long in other parts, and especially in the neighbouring countries:The objection answered, that these provinces were advanced under the government of the said princes. for in the time of old prince William, the ruin of Brabant and Flanders, and afterwards in the times of the princes Maurice and Henry, those lasting wars, and terrible devastations of Germany, and many other adjacent countries, supported and supplied our cities with manufactures, merchants and mechanicks; who finding here the states manner of government not quite overthrown, have under those remains of publick freedom, erected many new manufactures and trades, and have been able to keep up the old imployments and traffick of Holland, especially through the diligence, vigilance, valour, and frugality, which are not only natural to the Hollanders, but by the nature of our country is communicated to all foreigners that inhabit among us, according to the old saying,*There is a certain secret virtue natural to the country of Holland.Our thriving proceeds from the wars of our neighbours, our situation and shadow of liberty, &c. So that our inhabitants by the said qualifications for the promoting of traffick and navigation, having excelled all other neighbouring people, ’tis a wonder that by our before-mentioned ill government in maritime affairs, we were not utterly ruined.
’Tis also to be well considered, whether the inhabitants of Holland in such cases, and indued with such qualifications, would not have been much more happy under a free government by states, than under the conduct of the three successive princes before mentioned, and such deputies of the generality as continually sought to promote the prince’s grandeur, and consequently their own, more than the welfare of the country.
And whether our own sad experience hath not abundantly taught us the truth of the maxim proposed at the beginning of this chapter, viz. That such cities and countries, whose rulers ought to be presumed to be more or less concerned to keep the seas clear of enemies, ought also to have more or less authority and power about maritime affairs, treasure, and militia, by which the seas are to be kept free and open:That Holland ought not to intrust the scouring of the seas to any but themselves. and consequently that the magistrates of the cities, who are any ways concerned in the flourishing of the manufactures, fisheries, traffick, shipping, and guard of the seas, ought to be intrusted with them, and no other persons in the world.
[* ]Libertatis enim interest ne magna imperia diuturna sint.
[* ]Dat veniam Corvis vexat censura Columbis.
[* ]Tibi Roma subegerit orbem.
[* ]Princeps insurgere paulatim, munia senatus, magistratuum, legum in se trahere, nullo adversante: cum ferocissimi per acies, aut proscriptione cecidissent. Cæteri nobilium quanto quis servitio promptior, opibus & honoribus extollerentur: ac novis ex rebus aucti, tuta & presentia, quam vetera & periculosa mallent. Tacit. Annal. l. 1. c. 1.
[* ]Crescit interea Roma Albæ ruinis. Liv.
[* ]Occulta est Batavæ quædam vis infita terræ.