The Peace of Breda, also known as the Treaty of Breda, put an end to the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667). It was signed on July 31st, 1667, in the Dutch city of Breda by England, the Dutch Republic, France and Norway-Denmark. As a result, the Dutch gave New Netherland to England but still retained their monopoly in world trade.
The Second Anglo-Dutch War was caused by commercial tensions between England and the Dutch Republic over the control of the seas and trade routes. The English wished to end the Dutch monopoly and thus increase their power. To do so, English King Charles II founded the Royal African Company (RAC) to challenge the Dutch in West Africa. In 1664, the English occupied New Netherland (later renamed New York) and captured slave trade posts in Ghana. As the slaves who cultivated their plantations in the Americas came from these posts, the Dutch immediately attacked the English and recaptured them. This caused the bankruptcy of the RAC.
In the meanwhile, French King Louis XIV planned a military intervention against the Dutch to gain the Spanish Netherlands, which he considered his by right of marriage to Maria Theresa of Spain. In 1665, he paid Sweden, which had signed an alliance with England, to remain neutral in the conflict and influenced Denmark-Norway to join the war. By doing so, Louis hoped that it would be harder for the Dutch to oppose his occupation of the Spanish Netherlands.
By 1666, both the Dutch and the English wished to sign peace. The English were having economic difficulties because the war had badly affected their trade, whereas the Dutch had little to gain from continuing the war. Charles invited the Dutch to negotiations in London but they refused to attend any peace talks unless France was also involved. For his part, Louis XIV agreed to ensure the Dutch complied with the English demands only if he were given control of the Spanish Netherlands.
The Negotiations and Terms of the Treaty
In May 1667, while the conditions of the peace talks were still not set, the French occupied the Spanish Netherlands. This made ending the Anglo-Dutch War a matter of urgency for the Dutch, whose economy was threatened by the French expansion. The English, who were assured by Louis XIV that the Dutch would agree to concessions, decided to take advantage of this and increase their demands. However, their position quickly changed after their defeat at June Medway Raid, where the Dutch navy attacked their warships.
The English’s war-weariness and the Dutch’s fear of the French expansion led to a rapid agreement on the terms of the treaty. It was signed on the 31st of July in Breda and consisted of three separate treaties between England and the Dutch Republic, France and Denmark-Norway.
The Treaty of Breda established that the English Navigation Acts be changed so that the Dutch could carry to England goods that had come down the Rhine River. Even though the Dutch kept their monopoly of world trade, English trade benefitted from the agreements of the Treaty. It received important outposts in Africa from the Dutch and got back Antigua, Montserrat and St. Kitts from France. Moreover, it also gained the New Netherland. The Dutch were able to keep Surinam and Pulo Run while the French retained French Guiana and recovered Acadia from England.
The Treaty reduced Anglo-Dutch tensions by removing several areas of dispute, which contributed to the creation of the Triple Alliance (1668) between the Dutch Republic, Sweden and England. Moreover, Breda marked the point when both the English and the Dutch started viewing France as a greater threat than each other. This was the beginning of an alliance that would last a century, with the brief exception of the Third Anglo-Dutch War. All in all, the Treaty of Breda is considered by the Dutch a diplomatic triumph and the start of the highest point of the Dutch Golden Age.
- treaty of breda
- dutch republic
- charles ii
- louis xiv
- spanish netherlands
- anglo-dutch war
- triple alliance