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Revenge Strategy: Wasting the power of your hate on the guiltless (V). The Anglo-Dutch wars

Have a lovely day.

Nowadays, our decision-making process has been affected immensely by technology. Our brains are now more dependent on our smartphones, algorithms, calculators, excel sheets, artificial intelligence tied to searching engines, etc. Any scientist will agree with me when I write that it is in the 20th century, that our brains started to become lazy. Once our brain is lazy, it becomes counterproductive. Because we do not think well. We do not like to think before taking decisions. And we are now paying the consequences of the brain laziness. I wonder if we are opening a door to our ignorance, similar to “a new medieval dark age” given the current world out of balance tech life and dramatic climate change circumstances.

lazy brain.jpgBrains need grooming, daily stretching preparation and constant training. As much as kids brains are trained with equations, arithmetic, constant reading, home-works and problem-solving at school; adults need to dedicate a certain amount of quotidian time to keep your brains “on point”. A tip-top adult brain is golden. I have a theory, which is more than a hypothesis: once we reach our study duty school years (from kindergarten to 12th grade plus university degrees), we stop to train our brains. Probably just one from 100 heads or 1% of all brains all over the world will be able to find a productive job after school or university that will keep them training their cerebral capacities in ascending mood. In consequence, if we stop our brainpower because of thinking laziness, don´t blame the poor decision making of our leaders. I am a firm believer that we must train our brains with activities such as reading, studying our history, playing chest, performing intellectual guesswork or brain games beyond crosswords. Otherwise, our cognitive capabilities will diminish over time, particularly with emerging technologies. If we keep our brains practice as much as we do fitness workouts, our capacity to think, discern and take decisions will improve over time. Our head neural structures need help to keep our strategic mindset alive.

In addition, I would like to share with you these examples of revenge strategy because when we forgot certain periods of history, we are prompt to act without thinking. By this point, it is crucial never to forget key situations from our heritage or ancestors past experiences.

The general context:
Let´s start. The early 15th century had an existing network of trading and commerce routes between Europe and Asia over land. The trade ships or galleys until then were long, commonly rowed by many people for much of their voyage around the coasts, and trading for commerce between Asia and Europe was done through the ancient Silk Road by land. However, things changed. The trade on the Silk road declined sharply by the 13th century, even though the conquests of the Mongols (here appears Gengis Khan) ushered in an era of frequent and extended contacts between East and West. This increased contact created a demand for Asian goods in Europe, a demand that eventually inspired the search for a sea route to Asia, in the late 15th century. With less cost, harassment and danger, many goods and materials that the Silk Road could not transfer were conveyed through the sea route.

Sampson Salvadore and St George

The Sampson, the Salvadore, and the St. George, three Dutch ships masquerading as Spanish vessels in order to circumvent the 1651 Navigation Act. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The naval industry saw the emergence of a new bateau not just in design but with a new propulsion technology, the full-rigged ship, which had three masts and five or six sails. The “Full-rigged” ships were introduced because trade was becoming larger in scale, more frequent in occurrence, and more distant in the destination. By the end of the century, Da Gama, Columbus, and Cabot had made their revolutionary discoveries, the Portuguese organized the first school of oceanic navigation, and trade began to be global.

Globalized commerce started at this stage of human development. Competition was fierce among the Europeans for the riches of the overseas trade. As the voyages were frequently undertaken by countries and by individuals. Creating a mercantile activity that was of the utmost importance. Holland’s “Golden Century” was the 17th, and England’s overtaking of France as Europe’s seat of the shipping industry also occurred later.

The Facts from the point of view of the Historians:
The Anglo-Dutch Wars, also called Dutch Wars, Dutch Engelse Oorlogen, (English Wars), were the four 17th- and 18th-century naval conflicts between England and the Dutch Republic. The first three wars, stemming from commercial rivalry, established England’s naval might, and the last, arising from Dutch interference in the American Revolution, spelled the end of the Republic’s position as a world power.dutch english_Four_Days_Battle

According to, the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652–1654) began during a tense period following England’s institution of the 1651 Navigation Act, which was aimed at barring the Dutch from involvement in English sea trade. An incident in May 1652 led England to declare war against the Dutch. The Dutch won a clear victory off Dungeness in December, but most of the major engagements of the following year were won by the larger and better-armed men-of-war of England. In the summer of 1653 off Texel (Terheide), in the last battle of the war, the Dutch were defeated, with both sides suffering heavy losses. The war was ended by the Treaty of Westminster (April 1654).



The Battle of Lowestoft, June 13, 1665, showing HMS Royal Charles and the Eendracht.

The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667) was caused by commercial rivalry again. Hostility between the English and the Dutch begun once more and the English captured New Amsterdam (New York). England declared war in March 1665 and won a victory over the Dutch off Lowestoft two months later. Most subsequent battles (which occurred in the following year), however, were won by the Dutch who did a strategic alliance with France. England’s ally, the principality of Münster, sent troops into Dutch territory in 1665 but was forced out of the war in the following year by France. A plague epidemic in 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666 contributed to England’s difficulties, which culminated in the destruction of its docked fleet by the Dutch at Chatham in June 1667. The war was ended the following month by the Treaty of Breda.


best anglo dutch war artThe Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672–1674) was a tiny part of a bigger conflict called Franco-dutch War, (1672–78). The Franco-Dutch war aimed to establish French possession of the Southern area of  (Spanish) the Netherlands.
Louis XIV of France secretly knocked on the door of England and signed a Treaty to accommodate a strategic alliance against the Dutch in 1670. The French-British coalition invaded the Dutch in May 1672. They occupied three of the seven Dutch provinces. In response, the Dutch under William III of Orange opened the dikes around Amsterdam, flooding a large area. By sea and land, William III managed to stave off the English and the French. In 1673 Spain, the Holy Roman emperor, and Lorraine took the side of the Dutch against France, and so by the end of 1673, the French had been driven out of the Dutch Republic. England then made peace with the Dutch in the Treaty of Westminster of February 1674.

The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War of 1780–84. England and the Dutch Republic had been allied for a century when they again went to war. The reason: Dutch secret trade negotiations with the American colonies, causing a revolt against England. The English declared war on 1780, and, in the following year, quickly took key Dutch possessions in the West and East Indies while imposing a powerful blockade of the Dutch coast.

Strategic Innovation Insights:

  • The vessels utilized to sail over the world´s oceans were upgraded by the 16th century. The Ships used by English Explorers; Cabot, Drake, Frobisher, and Raleigh sailed the seven seas. Raleigh wrote that the Dutch ships of this century were extremely effective and easy to sail that one-third crew size used in English craft could operate them.
  • Trade was the motor of innovation. The Dutch and the English were in fierce competition for the trade of goods from India and the Spice Islands. In consequence, efforts were made by their own engineers to accomplish technical improvements on ships.
  • Once the British and Dutch undertook trading voyages to Asian developed coasts´places such as Mumbai, Chennai, and Calcutta, they were upgrading their vessels´ design to ship effectively in less time.
  • In contrast, in the New World of America & Australia:  there was so little existing production of demanded goods. The British, Spaniards and the Dutch,  required not only the pioneering of the trading route but also the founding of colonies to manufacture the existing raw materials. In both cases, the logistics of shipping were critical in each of these relationships but became larger and more continuous in the case of the colonies.
  • As mentioned previously, to secure the strength and competence of these great merchant ships, advances in shipbuilding were necessary. And the strategic innovation to produce the most effective vessels was in the hands of the Dutch.
  • The Dutch, competitors of England were able to build and operate merchant ships more cheaply. In the 16th century, the sailing ship in general service was the “Dutch fluyt” model, which made Holland the great maritime power of the 17th century.
  • The Anglo-Dutch Trading Wars destroyed the leading innovation position of the Dutch, and by the end of the last Anglo-Dutch War, England finally succeeded to the role of leading merchant marine power in the world of the 18th Century. England lost that distinction to the Americans (with Dutch roots, haha!) in the mid-19th century.
  • With sailing, geographic and botanic scientific knowledge gained economic and political value. It was in the 17th century that the Dutch, the French, and the English began trying to fill out the map of the known oceans and new territories. This included the inventory of the fauna and flora for medical or food resource. Islands and coastlines were added to sailing charts almost on an annual basis.


Strategic Lessons:

  • The majority of revenge strategies have a cause. In the case of the Anglo-Dutch Wars, the motivation was purely related to trade and expansion of trade,  the domination of the seas, as the source of wealth for the Dutch, Britain, and France.
  • Those who established colonies in the newly conquered territories outside Europe (Asian, New America or Australia) were central to keep and enhance the trading to the old world.
  • The English and the Dutch were in conflict to establish their dominance not just from the point of view of the new ship technologies, which provided to them a competitive advantage, but from the point of view of securing their flow of goods and slaves from the newly conquered lands.
  • Revenge strategies are like a Boomerang. Whatever one nation or party does, it comes back later. This is the reason why we should not look to cause them, to solve our outstanding issues.
  • Whenever a leader wishes to use a revenge strategy, it is better to pause. Throw cold ice into your head. Study the situation. Try to solve it via a diplomatic course. And finally, avoid at all cost a military war or conflict.
  • There is a reason for commercial wars, they are designed as short term tools, kind of the wisest alternative to negotiating, not to cause harm to a nation. Think of commercial wars as a temporary last resort (a tit-tat strategy). Of course, commercial wars cause pain and disgrace too, but this is better than the use of military wars ignited by a revenge strategy.
  • Any military war ignited by revenge will cause destruction, violence, illnesses, desperation up to 4 generations ahead and billionaire economic losses. What is worst, they generate a serious crisis of refugees. Europe is now living one of the most difficult refugee crisis after World War II. Brexit is just a symptom of this problematical situation. Brexit started as a solution from the eldest to evade a future war in England. Am I wrong?

On my next publication, we will continue with the next revenge strategy example: The Opium Wars (1839–1860). Thank you. See you soon!


Source of references utilized to write this article:

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. All the presentation slides shown on this blog are prepared by Eleonora Escalante. Nevertheless, all the pictures or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated. 

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