Saturday, May 4, 2013

The 335 Years' War

Dutch Fleet (Willem van de Velde the Younger, 1658)

There has been a state of war between The Islands of Scilly and The Netherlands for 335 years. This war has been extended for so long by the lack of a peace treaty. Without a single shot being fired, it makes it one of the world's longest wars and a bloodless wars.

During the English Civil War the Roundheads (Parliamentarians) led by Oliver Cromwell had fought the Cavaliers (Royalists) led by king Charles II to the edges of England. In 1648, Cornwall was in the hands of Cromwell and the Royalist Navy was forced to retreat to the Isles of Scilly.

Oliver Cromwell (usurpator)

The governor of the Scilly Isles was John Grenville, a close friend and adviser of king Charles. During 1649-51 he directed Royalist pirates from Scilly in a lucrative campaign against English and Dutch merchantmen to raise prize money for Charles II's court-in-exile (The Dutch Republic was allied with the Parliamentarians).

Charles II (king)

The Dutch Navy was suffering heavy losses, so they dispatched twelve warships to the islands. On 30 March 1651, Admiral Maarten Tromp arrived in Scilly to demand reparation for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them. After receiving no satisfactory answer war was declared specifically upon the Isles of Scilly.

Maarten Tromp (Dutch naval hero)

The Parliamentarians promised to resolve the problem and in June 1651 they forced the Royalist fleet to surrender. Tromp, who was cruising the neighborhood looking for places to attack, left without firing a shot. Due to the obscurity of the declaration of war the Dutch did not officially declare peace.

In 1985, Roy Duncan, historian and Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council, wrote to the Dutch Embassy in London about the myth that the islands were still at war. The embassy staff found the myth to be accurate (although a real declaration of war could not be found, it is questionable Tromp was to qualified to declare war). Duncan invited the Dutch ambassador Huydecoper to visit the islands and sign a peace treaty. Peace was declared on April 17, 1986, 335 years after the 'war' began.

next episode: veteran


  1. You uncovered a "nice" piece of history.

  2. How interesting! I studied history at school until age 16, but none of my history classes ever covered any wars with the Netherlands.

  3. You guys beat the (so far) 60 year war on the Korean Peninsula.

  4. Or rather, the 63 year war in Korea.


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