cover art for 30YearsWar #77: Dutch Loose Ends [1646-1648]

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

30YearsWar #77: Dutch Loose Ends [1646-1648]

Check out our series Diplomacy: Britain vs America to nerd out on a forgotten era of Anglo-American confrontation, complete with war scares, gunboat diplomacy, and me pronouncing many things incorrectly!

It's time to get all emotional, as we tie up the Eighty Years' War between the Spanish and Dutch, which had formed an integral part of the Thirty Years' War in its earlier phase, but which had, from 1645, effectively been relegated to a sideshow of the larger war. The Dutch, and its House of Orange, had made a substantial contribution to the war, directing anti Habsburg energies towards several schemes, and chipping away at Spanish prestige and power even as the Habsburg dynasty reached the peak of its powers. By 1646 though, Frederick Henry lay dying, and although none could accuse him of under performing, it was his grandson William III that made arguably the most significant mark not just on British, Irish and European history, but also on the world we live in today.


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  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.12: Collusion And Delusion

    1956 Episode 2.12 takes us to the 22-24 October 1956, where the war plan that would create the Suez Crisis was created, developed and signed by Britain, France and Israel in an unassuming Parisian suburb.This process was, of course, far from straightforward or guaranteed to produce a result. It required the French reassuring both the Israeli and British representatives about the solid nature of their plan, and it also demonstrated the lack of tact which Selwyn Lloyd in particular seemed to possess. One of the most incredible scenes though comes near the end of the episode when, on the evening of 24th October, Britain’s representatives return home to Anthony Eden with a copy of the Sevres Protocol in hand, only to come under rhetorical attack for leaving this paper trail in the course of their top secret discussions.Eden was well aware that there could be no evidence of what had been done at Sevres, and he would send these men back to France to track down and destroy any pieces of evidence that remained. The Prime Minister, of course, was already planning ahead to what he would say when word of the Crisis got out. For the sake of plausible deniability, Eden wished there to be no evidence and no written record of the collusion. Thankfully for historians since, Eden’s wishes were not fulfilled. Here was the last piece of the Suez puzzle being set in place, so I hope you’ll give it a listen and enjoy!Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!
  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.11: A Protocol For War

    1956 Episode 2.11 finally takes us to that controversial moment when Britain, France and Israel began to move closer together.The Sevres Protocol was neither developed nor signed in a day, and in the first two weeks of October, negotiations critically important to the later conflict were underway. At first, Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd hoped to make use of the UN Security Council to gain British satisfaction in Egypt, and for a time he was successful in this aim, because Anthony Eden was ill and unable to order his subordinate around. Once Eden recovered though, Eden ramped up the pressure, and Lloyd was encouraged, alongside his French counterpart, to torpedo the negotiations in the Security Council which had aimed at a peaceful resolution.While this peace effort was frustrated, a looming conflict aside from all these considerations began to develop. This involved Jordan, Britain’s firm ally in the Middle East, and he difficult relationship with Israel, the newly established ally of the French. Since neither the French nor British wished to see their newfound entente drift apart, the French government determined it would be better to spill the beans on what was being agreed with Israel rather than watch the different allies initiate an unwanted war in the region. Thus, the French travelled to Chequers, Anthony Eden’s swanky manor home, on 14th October 1956, to initiate the first step of the collusion which was to become infamous. At first hesitant, Eden was soon convinced of the genius of the plan – Britain, France and Israel would work together against the common Egyptian foe, and this partnership would surely sink President Nasser once and for all.Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!
  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.10: Israeli Sneaky

    1956 Episode 2.10 takes us to the Commonwealth, seen as so vital to British interests, but fracturing over the question of the best course of action to take against President Nasser.The Canadian, Australian and NZ governments were all uneasy at the prospect of war, and some, like the Canadian Foreign Minister Lester Pearson, advocated a diplomatic approach. While Eden forged ahead with an aggressive policy, torpedoing another conference on the Suez Canal in the process, he increasingly began to alienate the Americans. The PM didn’t seem to care what other nations thought, though he was eager to make even better friends with the French throughout September. It was around this time in our story that things in France began to change – they were increasingly coming to provide weapons and support to a new ally – Israel.Largely because of French prodding and intrigue, the Israeli element of the story became all important. While the British were not yet let in on the plan, Franco-Israeli military cooperation and supply deals were paving the way towards a more trusting, beneficial relationship which could soon be exploited. The Israeli government, led by David Ben-Gurion, was also desirous of a war with Egypt, that nation which had threatened his own with destruction time and time again. The dilemma was that Israel could not be seen as the aggressor, but how was such a war then to be crafted and set in motion? Scheming heads were set together, and before long, a solution more incredible than anyone could have imagined was brought into being… Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!
  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.9: The Fix Is In

    1956 Episode 2.9 looks at that moment which has become infamous in history – the collusion between Britain, France and Israel.We are almost ready to see these sneaky meetings take place, and for the infamous agreement take shape, but first, it is worth investigating another important and underrated angle of the Crisis. The key element of the Suez Crisis story that demonstrates how low Britain sank must be the manifest failure of the British Government to develop any legal argument in favour of their interventionist actions. In the past, formulating such an argument was simple – an act of aggression against British interests or allies was enough to provoke a war. Now though, the whole issue was a good deal trickier.For one, the Suez Canal Company may have been a British ‘interest’, but it was also by no means damaged by the nationalisation of late July 1956. Second, try as he might, Eden failed in his efforts to convince the opposition and many of his peers that legally, Britain had a case in Egypt. Not only was Nasser working hard not to give Eden any excuse at this stage, but he had even compensated British shareholders in the Canal Company in previous months. While many would argue that Nasser’s use of force to nationalise the Canal Company was unsavoury, it was not, in the strictest sense, illegal, because Nasser was only taking what was in his country, and thus his to take.In this episode we are introduced to Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, a person of foremost importance thanks to his legal work in the British Foreign Office. Fitzmaurice’s task was to find legal justification for an Anglo-French war in Egypt. This, as Fitzmaurice was made aware, was an impossible task. It was to Eden’s immense frustration that Fitzmaurice’s integrity was greater than his ‘loyalty’ or ‘patriotism’ – the legal officer refused to give Eden the legal justification he desired.While on the surface this seems like an unimportant sequence of events, Fitzmaurice’s convictions here demonstrated clearly at the time, and speak loudly to this day, the fact that Eden’s interventionist policy in Egypt was baseless, and was devoid of the honour or noble intentions he would later claim. If the Prime Minister couldn’t even get his minion in the Foreign Office to see ‘sense’, then how on earth was he going to persuade the rest of the world? This question, as we’ll see, was far from Eden’s thoughts. If he couldn’t get legal approval, then he would move along with the plan regardless…Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!
  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.8: Deception As Policy

    1956 Episode 2.8 examines the increasingly secretive plotting which took place behind the scenes in early autumn 1956.While Eden worked feverishly to make the conflict he desired come together, the countless variables continued to haunt him. We see here a glimpse of a common theme which will occupy us later on – the use of legal arguments to support the Anglo-French operation, on the grounds that Nasser had infringed upon British ‘rights’ and that Britain was thus entitled to compensation. In this episode we also are introduced to one of banes of Eden’s life, the leader of the Labour Party Hugh Gaitskell, who insisted that intervention in Egypt was wrong, and who began to suspect that something unsavoury was afoot despite what Eden told him.Gaitskell was not the only one. Further abroad, the American desire to have a conference of Suez Canal users was met with private indignation from the British and French, whose governments would uphold to the end that Washington did not understand what was needed to deal with a man like Nasser. Increasingly, comparisons with Nasser to Hitler, and the idea that Britain must not ‘appease’ such figures yet again, did the rounds. Eden was determined to have his interventionist cake and eat it, and he instructed his Foreign Office deputies to look into the Charter of the United Nations as well. With so many different avenues to justification, Eden was certain that at least one of them had to provide a path to conflict. As we’ll see, he was ultimately to be disappointed.Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!
  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.7: Blind Intrigue

    1956 Episode 2.7 examines the steps which led towards the military intervention in Egypt, by placing the British behaviour in its imperial context.In spring 1955, Britain remained a premier power in the Middle East, while American representation in that theatre was not particularly impressive, save for the commercial connections which American citizens had with the different oil barons there. In the space of a year though, disquiet in the Middle East and several threats to Britain’s sphere of influence there emerged, crowned by Nasser’s refusal to fall in line. The personality of Anthony Eden stands out during these eventful months, as the veteran Tory statesman appears to have been wholly unable to accept the new status quo, or the rebellious qualities of a once docile corner of the Empire.Even before the nationalisation of the Suez Canal Company, Eden was adamant that Nasser was not to be bargained with, and certainly not to be trusted. Convinced of this view, he sought to make all of his peers – both at home and abroad – come to see it this way as well. Such efforts were not wholly successful, as even following the nationalisation, Eden found to his horror that several of his peers in Government, and particularly the opposition, were not convinced that force needed to be used.Was the nationalisation of the Canal Company really such a big deal, did it really require a war with Egypt? As per the terms of the military plans already made with France, preparations completely out of the view of Parliament were underway. Here Eden followed what was to become his modus operandi during the Crisis – acting with the approval and support of only a few peers, while everyone else was kept in the dark. This policy, while making everything faster, was to prove lethal once everything blew up in Eden’s face… Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!
  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.6: The Entente Rides Again!

    1956 Episode 2.6 looks at the increasingly close cooperation between Britain and France in light of the signal defeat of Western imperialist ambitions in Egypt.We open our episode with a defining scene – President Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal. The nationalisation of the Canal was not the moment that the world flocked to condemn Nasser’s regime, as Anthony Eden may have hoped. For a time, the Egyptian leader would be seen as unstable, aggressive and unreasonable, but this bad press would die down as the Egyptians proved themselves very capable in handling the new responsibilities which the Suez Canal Company presented.After convincing himself that the nationalisation of the Canal represented a national humiliation for he and his government, Eden proceeded to cement the Anglo-French commitment in the days that followed. Only 24 hours after the nationalisation occurred, French government ministers and the French premier were talking of travelling to London.Within a week, military plans were being developed. These plans would be carried out by WW2 era weaponry, under WW2 era ideas of strategy, and even in the same secret bunkers under the Thames which had been used by Churchill to plan a resistance to the Nazis. Yet, this latest iteration of the entente cordiale was to prove anything but glorious, since at its heart was the desire to turn back the clock, and preserve the systems and status quo which held the developing world in permanent bondage. This mission was to doom Eden’s career and lead to the deaths of so many lives, and its planning stage began here.Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!
  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.5: Oh No Cairo

    1956 Episode 2.5 looks at British commitments in the Middle East, and how setbacks there could massively drag down ideas of British ‘prestige’ in that region.What did the French have to fear from Colonel Nasser, and how did this tie in with later Anglo-French agreements? The answers can be found here. Also of note in this episode is the moment when the Anglo-American loan to Nasser was cancelled, which meant that the Egyptian leader would be unable to construct his Aswan Dam.With this setback for Nasser came Anthony Eden’s effort to paint the event as a personal triumph for himself, when in reality, Britain had been led by the Americans. Speaking of Eden, here we receive our first glimpse of the Prime Minister which suggest that he may not have been the flawless, crusading statesmen of the 1930s, and that he was, on the contrary, exactly what Britain did NOT need right now...Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!
  • 1956 - The Suez Crisis #2.4: Britain Bitten

    1956 Episode 2.4 examines Britain's embarrassing and dissatisfying efforts to try and make Egypt see sense.Here we see what kind of Government Anthony Eden led, and how he shook it up, or failed to shake it up, after he assumed the premiership in spring 1955. Anthony may have deserved his turn, but he would quickly exhaust the sense of goodwill he had built up over the years. In spite of his reputation for integrity and bravery when standing up to the appeasement policy of the 1930s, Eden proved wholly ill-equipped for dealing with this strange new world. Emerging from Churchill’s shadow, he felt extra pressures to act as though nothing had changed, and to pursue a Conservative foreign policy mindset as though he was still living in the 1930s.After setting Eden’s premiership in context, we switch gears to President Nasser’s policy. Nasser had great ambitions for his country, and these centred on getting Egypt on track technologically, and fixing the grave problems which geography and poverty presented. The Aswan Dam was a radical solution which would solve these problems in one go. By the construction of this billion dollar project, the Nile could be harnessed, disastrous floods avoided, and the energy of nature made proper use of for industrial purposes. It seemed like the ideal solution, save for the key problem that Nasser lacked the kind of money required to engage in this building project.While he was increasingly turning towards the Soviets for arms, for the moment, he was happy to look to the Anglo-American bankers to put up the funds.The decision of the Americans and British to put up the money for this construction project may seem, in the context of the mid-1950s and especially considering what would follow, like a very odd decision indeed. Yet, as we’ll see, the Aswan Dam was not the investment opportunity which the British had hoped. Instead, once they and the Americans reneged on the deal, it proved to be the nail in the coffin of the already shaky Anglo-Egyptian relationship, and the beginning of a road towards conflict and crisis.Remember history friends - you can get these episodes ad-free with scripts attached for just $2 a month - for a fiver you can access our PhD Thesis series, so come and nerd out with us!