The Tailed Men are Coming! The Tailed Men are Coming!

Oliver Cromwell as a 'staartman' (Rijksmuseum)

Oliver Cromwell as a ‘staartman’ (Rijksmuseum)

Yes, a bonus post this week – and following on from the last one, ‘The Butterboxes are Coming! The Butterboxes are Coming!’, which used one of the principal insults seventeenth century Brits directed at the Dutch, I thought I’d even the score by using one of the worst Dutch insults for us. Goddeloze staartman, the godless tailed man, has obscure origins, but it’s certainly a level above butterboxes in terms of inventiveness – and contemporary Dutchmen may wish to revive it when British naval history’s finest hit Amsterdam in June! That’s the reason for this extra post: I’m now able to publicise details of the big international conference to mark the 350th anniversary of the Dutch attack on the Medway.

Jointly organised by the Vrienden van de Witt (NL) and the Naval Dockyards Society (UK), the conference will be held at the Marine Etablissement (naval barracks) in Amsterdam on 23-24 June 2017. Conference proceedings will be held in English. The keynote speakers are Dr David Onnekink (Utrecht University) and Professor Henk den Heijer, (Professor Emeritus, Leiden University); the summary and conclusions will be provided by Professor John Hattendorf (US Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island).

The conference will address a wide range of themes, including the causes and course of the second Anglo-Dutch war, early modern naval warfare and ideologies, the Dutch and British navies, dockyards and other naval facilities in the two countries, Dutch amphibious tactics during the Chatham attack, British responses to that attack, and the legacies and commemoration of the Dutch raid. I’ll be talking about ‘Chatham and the Stuart Monarchy’, looking at how much damage – physical and psychological – the attack caused to Charles II’s state, at some of the myths which grew up around the action, and how it contributed to a change in the ‘naval ideology’ espoused by Charles and his brother. This is very much a part of the work I’m doing at the moment for my chapter in the forthcoming book on Western Naval Ideology, 1500-1815, which I’m co-editing with Alan James and Gijs Rommelse, to be published by Routledge.

Other speakers are: Dr Marc van Alphen (Netherlands Institute of Military History, The Hague), Dr Richard Blakemore (University of Reading), Dr Ann Coats (University of Portsmouth and the Naval Dockyards Society), Dr Remmelt Daalder (Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam), Dr Alan Lemmers (Netherlands Institute of Military History, The Hague), Dr Philip MacDougall (historian and author, NDS), Erik Odegard (Leiden University), Dr Gijs Rommelse (Utrecht University, Fellow of the Scheepvaartmuseum), Professor Louis Sicking (Leiden University/Free University), and Dr Chris Ware (University of Greenwich).

A booking form for potential UK delegates is available on the Naval Dockyards Society website; potential Dutch delegates, please sign up via the Vrienden van de Witt.


Some more announcements of forthcoming events, too…

First, the eminent Dutch naval historian Dr Gijs Rommelse will be speaking at King’s College London on 21 February, his topic being ‘Mirroring Seapower: A Cultural History of Dutch-British Naval Relations’. This is open to all, and you can register for it (and find out further details) here.

Second, I’m thrilled to announce that, as part of the Medway Festival taking place around the 350th anniversary of the Dutch attack, I’ll be speaking at Gillingham Library at 7.30 on 8 June, my subject being ‘The Dutch are Coming! Writing Fact and Fiction about the Anglo-Dutch wars’. I’ll be signing my books, too!


1 Comment

  1. Gijs Romelse says:

    Thanks for this, David. I’m very much looking forward to coming to London for this lecture.


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