The English and the Dutch have much in common: their love of the sea, a sober outlook on life, a commercial disposition. England and the Netherlands were the first European countries to have a constitutional government, a Protestant culture and an overseas empire. These resemblances might be the very reason for the great rivalry that prevailed for such a long time between the two nations.
During the Eighty Years’ War, when the protestant Seven United Provinces broke away from catholic Spain, it was Elizabeth I, Queen of England, who supported them. At that time, strong ties already existed between the two countries, both in commerce and industry (for instance with regard to the wool trade) and because of their common religion. Many Protestants fled the Spanish Netherlands to seek refuge in England. Relations deteriorated in the seventeenth century, however, during the reign of the Stuarts. The personal ties that existed between the Stuarts and the House of Orange because of the marriage of Mary I Stuart with Stadholder William II and of their son Stadholder William III with his cousin Mary II Stuart, sometimes gave rise to tension since dynastic and political interests do not always coincide.
This collection conveys an impression of the relations that existed through the centuries between the English and the Dutch people and what they thought of each other; it covers the period between 1550 and 1900.