De Zeven Provincien
Three Masted Ship
Length/Beam/Draft: 146.7′ x 38.7′ x 14.4′
(44.7m x 11.8m x 4.4m)
Complement including crew and passengers: 450
Armament: 80 guns
Built By: Admiraliteit van de Maze, Delftshaven, Netherlands; 1664
The commercial rivalry between English and Dutch merchants that led to the Anglo-Dutch War of 1652-54 re-emerged in the early 1660s. In anticipation of renewed hostilities, the Dutch undertook a major building program and one of the largest vessels launched was the Zeven Provinciën.
Admiral Michiel Adrienszoon de Ruyter was appointed commander in chief to succeed the late Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer van Obdan. Shifting his flag to the Zeven Provinciën in May, de Ruyter led the Dutch fleet for the first
time in what became known as the “Four Days’ Battle.” Early in the morning of 11 June 1652, the Dutch arrived with about 85 ships. They were met by an English force of about 56 ships under George Monck, Duke of Albemarle.
Zeven Provinciën’s rigging was shot up and de Ruyter was unable to pursue. Royal Prince (90 guns) ran aground and was burned by the Dutch on the 12th, and Monck’s ships were roughly handled by the Dutch on the 13th, but deteriorating weather and the imminent arrival of Rupert’s squadron prevented further action.
The Dutch failure to achieve a decisive victory enabled the English to put to sea in force in mid-July, thus frustrating Dutch plans for a landing on the English coast. On 25 July, the Dutch and English fleets met off North Foreland. The heaviest fighting took place in the centre and van of the opposing fleets; three Dutch flag officers were killed and Zeven Provinci?n was completely dismasted. The English attempted to renew the battle in the evening, but de Ruyter managed a masterful withdrawal. All told, the Dutch lost 21 ships, 4000 dead, and 3 000 prisoners.
The Zeven Provinciën’s final naval action came during the War of the League of Augsburg, which pitted an Anglo-Dutch alliance against France. On 29 May 1692, she was heavily damaged at the battle of La Hogue- in which the French fleet was shattered – and returned to Rotterdam. She was broken up two years later. A replica is currently under construction in the Netherlands.
According to a British naval historian Zeven Provinciën is “a vessel that deserves to rank with Nelson’s Victory.”
Izak J H Hough
Member of The Nautical Research Guild