Ships and War: Dutch and Iberian War Fleets in the Dutch-Iberian Global Conflict (1600-1669)





Code   .   2021.02332.CEECIND
Start   .   2022
Duration   .   72 months
Principal Investigador   .   André Murteira (CHAM)



Funding Entity

. Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Research Unit

. CHAM — Centro de Humanidades

Coordinator Institution

. Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa




Why did the Dutch achieve naval superiority over their Iberian adversaries in the global war that opposed them in the 17th Century? This is the main question this project wishes to address. Portugal and its overseas possessions were part of the Spanish Monarchy global empire between 1580 and 1640. The beginning of Dutch overseas expansion by the end of the 16th Century brought with it an extension of the Dutch-Spanish war in Europe (1568-1648) to the whole globe, especially after the founding of the Dutch East and West India
Companies in 1602 and 1621. In Spain’s case, the war lasted until 1648 and, in Portugal’s case, until 1669, despite its independence from Spain in 1640. This global conflict had an essential naval component. The focus of research will be on the shipbuilding and logistical side - the production of ships and their transport to the overseas theatres of operations. The main hypothesis the project intends to put to test is that a superior supply of shipping gave the Dutch an essential advantage.



Influential naval historian Jan Glete argued that the comparatively small Dutch Republic managed to defeat the mighty Spanish Monarchy at sea because it was more efficient at mobilizing resource for naval warfare. His thesis is the last in a series of attempts to solve a question that remains of vital interest in the field of early modern history in general: why did Northern Europeans (Dutch and English) replace the Iberians (Spanish and Portuguese) as the main naval and colonial European powers during the 17th Century? However, Glete’s thesis is yet to be satisfactorily validated (or contradicted) by quantitative data, a gap that this project aims to fill. How many warships did each side manage to launch, and how many of them reached the actual theatres of operation outside Europe? The bulk of this project will be dedicated to the task of tracing the quantitative evolution of the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch fleets in Asia and in the Atlantic.





 André Murteira

Coordenator   .  Postdoctoral Researcher