The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 21, May 27, 2007, Article 11


Dr Kerry Rodgers writes: "Thanks for the item in last issue of The
E-Sylum concerning the 17th century currency units mentioned in Pepys'
Diary.  Pepys is highly pertinent in 2007. This year the Dutch
celebrate the 400th anniversary the birth of Pepys' nemesis,
Lieutenant Admiral General Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter.

"Pepys worked for the English Admiralty and for over 20 years
de Ruyter would become one of the uppermost issues in Pepys' mind.
After all it was de Ruyter who kept Pepys in a job. De Ruyter's
repeated victories over the English fleet kept Pepys busy pushing
through supplies, planning reorganization of dockyards, and
urging drastic reforms of the entire English naval structure.

"When Pepys finally made to Secretary of the Admiralty he had the
temerity to recommend the promotion of long serving officers rather
than the cynical selling of commissions. And these reforms were
needed as de Ruyter, the son of a beer porter, repeatedly demonstrated.

"de Ruyter did not play a major role in the First Anglo-Dutch War
although he did best Vice Admiral George Ayscue at Plymouth. In the
Second Anglo-Dutch War he inflicted serious damage on the English
fleet at Carlisle Bay. His fleet did not escape unscathed, however,
and he was unable to go on attack New York, the former New Amsterdam,
as a prelude to liberating the New Netherlands.

"On return to the Netherlands in 1665, the Dutch Regent, Johan de Witt,
recognized de Ruyter's mettle and appointed him commander of the Dutch
fleet with the rank of Lieutenant Admiral.

"Admiral de Ruyter duly sailed forth to win probably his hardest-fought
victory over the English fleet, the Four Days Battle of June 1666.
Three months later he only narrowly escaped total rout at the St James's
Day Battle but the following year saw him make amends big time. He
seriously embarrassed the English by launching a direct attack on
England's main naval base at Chatham at the mouth to the Thames.

"Known as the Raid on the Medway it inflicted what is generally
acknowledged to be the worst English naval defeat in history.  Not
only did de Ruyter burn a large number of the English capital ships
but he towed away the fleet's flagship, HMS Royal Charles. Since 1066
only de Ruyter is the only battle commander to succeed in bearding
the English lion in its den.

"But there's more!

"When the first shots were fired in Third Anglo-Dutch War it was
De Ruyter who pulled the Dutch chestnuts out of the fire. He won
strategic victories over larger Anglo-French fleets at the Battles
of Solebay (1672), the Double Schooneveld (1673) and Texel (1673).
These actions directly averted the impending invasion of the
Netherlands. The new rank of Lieutenant Admiral General was created
especially for him by a grateful Dutch government in February 1673.

"Mind you, de Ruyter didn't play favorites. He happily bloodied the
noses of French, Swedish and Spanish admirals who came his way. He
failed to take Martinique from the French in 1675, being forced back
to Europe when disease spread throughout his ships. But in 1676 he
took command of a combined Dutch-Spanish fleet to suppress the Messina
Revolt. He fought the French at the Battle of Stromboli and again
at the Battle of Agosta but it was at the latter he was fatally
wounded with a cannonball scything off both legs.

"He had engendered considerable respect among some of his enemies.
When his body was brought back to the Netherlands, French king Louis
XIV ordered canon to be fired in salute as the Dutch fleet passed
along the French coast. A 2004 public poll for De Grootste Nederlander,
The All Time Greatest Dutchman, saw de Ruyter take seventh place.

"And for numismatics the Dutch have released two coins and half a
dozen municipal trade tokens to mark the anniversary - similar
issues to those for Rembrandt last year.

"Oddly enough, given de Ruyter's role as the savior of the United
Provinces, I can find him on only one Dutch banknote. Is this

[So... can any of our find readers locate references to Admiral
de Ruyter on Dutch banknotes?  How about coins or medals?

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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