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  • Vestingwet 1874

    When I visited the Marine Museum at Den Helder last year, I read from the description of a small ship model that the Fortification Act of 1874 dictated abolition of ocean-going combatants. By this act, the Dutch navy was to be entirely comprised of ships for coastal defence of the Netherlands. Can anybody explain the rationale for this decision?

    Thanks in advance,
    Sunho
    --
    dscn1912.jpg

  • #2
    I think there is a strong connection with the French naval doctrine called "Jeune Ecole" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeune_Ecole. In fact it was just a way to compensate for the weak navy and the low number of battleships and other ocean-going combattants.

    rgds

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    • #3
      Thanks for your reply.

      For a country with many overseas possessions including the sprawling islands of East Indies, the 1874 Act looks like openly acknowledging the Dutch empire could only exist with the acquiesce of other naval powers.

      As a matter of fact if the British had not returned control of Java island, seized by the British East India Company troops in 1811, to the Dutch after the Napoleonic War, the empire as we know it could not have existed.

      Anyway the Netherlands proper might be successfully defended by torpedo-bearing small craft and coast defence ships, but obviously communication between the Netherlands and East Indies couldn't be. Was there any plan to address this problem when the Fortification Act was announced?

      Cheers,
      Sunho

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      • #4
        "datafuser" wrote: For a country with many overseas possessions including the sprawling islands of East Indies, the 1874 Act looks like openly acknowledging the Dutch empire could only exist with the acquiesce of other naval powers.
        The Fortification Act of 1874 concentrated primarily on the defence of the motherland. The change of the Dutch East Indies being attacked by a modern naval power was neglectible at that time, as the Brits and Americans were friendly nations, and the navies of Japan and China were almost non-existent. Nevertheless, in 1876 and 1878 two ironclad ramships (Prins Hendrik der Nederlanden en Koning der Nederlanden) were send to the East Indies, which were among the most powerfull ships in that region at the time.

        Leon.
        Daily flogging will continue until the crew's morale improves...!

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        • #5
          Thanks for your input.

          At that time what reason was given for sending those two ironclad rams to the East Indies? I am wondering what country was perceived in the 1870's as the greatest threat to the security of the Netherlands and East Indies respectively. Perhaps the newly-united Germany?

          Some Australians did worry about the possibility of a German takeover of the Netherlands East Indies. In 1871 Sydney Morning Herald ran an article speculating on what would have happened if the Netherlands had _joined_ the German empire. Sato Tetsutaro, a Japanese naval strategist of the early 20th century, speculated about the same thing in the 1900's.

          Thanks,
          Sunho

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          • #6
            The dutch possesion of the NEI was since napoleonic times by the grace of the british empire. They required a neutral/friendly nation to be in administrative control, whereas they were at no time to become a threat to the british possessions in india and china. Up till the 1870's the trade with Japan was a predominantly Dutch controlled affair, and it was in the british interest to see that continued.

            The british would not tolerate french expansion into the NEI, nor would they allow the germans or americans to do that. It was really a tolerable status quo between the world powers that played in dutch favor. At the time the british controlled all possible access to the far east around africa, and the trip around the horn was just to dangerous, and insufficient amounts of coal were available for the early steamers.

            The defense doctrine (defensie grondslagen) of the KNIL dating back to about 1850's always hinged on the premise that the UK would come to aid in case of war in the NEI. It assumed that any foreign attack would be in the form of a raid, and of limited size and duration. that thinking was not unsound as the logistics of the time were very limited to support any extended action. Therefore the defenses were at the key ports at java and sumatra, but not much in the outlying areas. The best defense in those days was considered the navy, with a support/mopping up role for the KNIL.

            I do not think that australia's fears were directed abroad, as most of their challenges were still domestic at that time.

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            • #7
              "datafuser" wrote: At that time what reason was given for sending those two ironclad rams to the East Indies? I am wondering what country was perceived in the 1870's as the greatest threat to the security of the Netherlands and East Indies respectively. Perhaps the newly-united Germany?

              Some Australians did worry about the possibility of a German takeover of the Netherlands East Indies. In 1871 Sydney Morning Herald ran an article speculating on what would have happened if the Netherlands had _joined_ the German empire. Sato Tetsutaro, a Japanese naval strategist of the early 20th century, speculated about the same thing in the 1900's.

              Thanks, Sunho
              It's true that Germany's Weltpolitik at the end of the 19th century created Dutch concerns regarding the colonies in the East Indies. But this was not the case in the 1870's when both ironclads sailed for Asiatic waters.

              I can imagine that from an oustiders point of view, the changes of the Netherlands becoming part of the German Empire at the end of the 19th century would not be considered absurd. Allthough I can't explain it at the moment, this possibility is not part of Dutch historiography.

              Much research is needed in this field.

              Leon.
              Daily flogging will continue until the crew's morale improves...!

              Reactie


              • #8
                The forming of the new germany consisted of german states that belonged to the german bund, the kingdom of the netherlands was not a member of that group, and i do not believe that there have been any overt moves to incorporate the netherlands into the german emire at that time. Besides, i doubt that the french and english would have allowed that. there was no need for that as the relations between both nations were as tight as they ever could be. The relationship with england was at best cool, due to the fact of the crearion of belgium, and the south africa situation.

                It appears that history refuses to show that from the mid 1830's to the early 1900's the dutch were more affraid of the british then of the germans. On several occasions the british had invaded holland by sea, their possesions and attacked their shipping. I that regard it is interesting to read the earliest marineblad articles.

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