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Battle of Dungeness (1666)
Part of the Second Anglo-Dutch War
DateSeptember 17, 1666
LocationOff Dungeness headland in English Channel
Result English victory
Belligerents
 Kingdom of France
 Dutch Republic
England England
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Job Forant England Thomas Allin
Strength
14 ships 24 ships
Casualties and losses
116 killed or wounded
1 ship captured
400 captured[1]
70 casualties[1]

The Battle of Dungeness or the Battle of Cape Dungeness (French language: Bataille du cap Dungeness) was a naval battle that took place on September 17, 1666 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. A French and Dutch fleet encountered a larger English fleet. The battle ended with the English having captured the French ship Le Rubis.[2]

The Second Anglo-Dutch War had been raging for a year between the kingdom of England and the Dutch Republic over the colonial possessions of the two countries, which took place in Europe and the West Indies. France and Denmark were allied to the United Provinces. In 1666 the English Fleet controlled the North Sea after its victory in the St James's Day Fight and the Dutch had also been dealt a severe blow after the English raid known as Holmes's Bonfire.

A French squadron of eight ships, commanded by Job Forant aboard La Sophie had departed from Toulon and was joined by a small Dutch squadron bringing the total to fourteen ships. Louis XIV of France had ordered the French naval commander Duc de Beaufort to sail so that the French and Dutch fleets would be united against England.[3] Louis had decided that this was the time to act as the English would be distracted by the recent Great Fire of London having ended on 5 September. When the allied fleet entered the English Channel it encountered heavy weather, and off Dungeness the fleet came across a larger English fleet of 25 ships under the command of Admiral Thomas Allin.[4]

Battle & Aftermath[]

Allin pursued the fleet and a battle commenced. The English had command of the weather gage and inflicted heavy damage on the French ships Le Bourbon and Le Mazarin under Captains Rabesnieres-Treillebois and Villepars respectively. Battling six English ships, they succeeded in dropping out with heavy damage and casualties and returned to Le Havre. The French ships Le Mercœur and L'Oms and two Dutch Prins te Paard and Oosterwijk were forced to abandon the fight. Le Dragon under captain Préaux-Mercey after having been nearly surrounded by three English ships battered his way out inflicting damage and managed to return to Dieppe.[2]

The French ship Le Rubis a new ship in the French Royal Navy with sixty guns which had got lost, came up and saw Allin's fleet thinking this was the Franco-Dutch fleet.[1] The French captain Gilles de La Roche-Saint-André realised it was too late and attempted to fight but outnumbered he stuck his colours and surrendered. The rest of the French and Dutch in the confused battle where visibility was poor retreated to safety.[5]

La Roche-Saint-André was treated honourably by his English captors and was immediately released on order of Charles II while the Duke of York offered him a sword before his repatriation to France. His reputation at the Court of France was such that he was appointed Chef d'escadre of the French Royal Navy in 1667.[1] Louis however was disenchanted with the Duc de Beaufort for his failure to unite with the Dutch fleet.[3]

Rubis, was taken into service as HMS French Ruby.[6]

References[]

Citations
Bibliography
  • William Laird, Clowes; Clements Robert, Markham (1996). The Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present, Volume 2 (reprint ed.). Chatham. ISBN 9781861760111. 
  • Jones, J.R (2013). The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century Modern Wars In Perspective. Routledge. ISBN 9781317899488. 

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