The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783

By A. T. Mahan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
WAR OF ENGLAND AND FRANCE IN ALLIANCE AGAINST THE UNITED PROVINCES, 1672-1674. -- FINALLY, OF FRANCE AGAINST COMBINED EUROPE, 1674-1678. -- SEA BATTLES OF SOLEBAY, THE TEXEL, AND STROMBOLI.

SHORTLY before the conclusion of the Peace of Breda, Louis XIV. made his first step toward seizing parts of the Spanish Netherlands and Franche Comté. At the same time that his armies moved forward, he sent out a State paper setting forth his claims upon the territories in question. This paper showed unmistakably the ambitious character of the young king, roused the anxiety of Europe, and doubtless increased the strength of the peace party in England. Under the leadership of Holland, but with the hearty co-operation of the English minister, an alliance was formed between the two countries and Sweden, hitherto the friend of France, to check Louis' advance before his power became too great. The attack first on the Netherlands in 1667, and then on Franche Comté in 1668, showed the hopeless weakness of Spain to defend her possessions; they fell almost without a blow.

The policy of the United Provinces, relative to the claims of Louis at this time, was summed up in the phrase that "France was good as a friend, but not as a neighbor." They were unwilling to break their traditional alliance, but still more unwilling to have her on their border. The policy of the English people, though not of their king, turned toward the Dutch. In the increased greatness of Louis they saw danger to all Europe; to themselves more especially if, by a settled preponderance on the continent, his hands were free to develop his sea power. "Flanders once in the power of Louis XIV.," wrote the

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