Peter van de Velde: The battle of the Sound, 8 november 1658 (1670-1679)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

The battle of the Sound is a part of the Dano-Swedish War (1658–60) which is a part of the Part of the Second Northern War (1655–1660). This war was fought between Sweden and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark for control of the lands surrounding the Baltic Sea. When Sweden invaded Jutland and laid siege to the Danish capital of Copenhagen, the Dutch republic joined the conflict on the Danish side (mainly to maintain the political status-quo of the region). A Dutch fleet of about 45 ships under the command of Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam sailed to Copenhagen and attacked the Swedish fleet. Obdam, who first received very complicated written instructions from the Grand Pensionary, Johan de Witt, and went so far as to request them again "in three words", summed up his mission in a single sentence: "Save Copenhagen and punch anyone in the face who tries to prevent it". The battle itself was a tactical draw but the Dutch forced the Swedish fleet to end the blockade of the Danish capital enabling its resupply by Dutch armed transport ships, which eventually forced Sweden to abandon the siege of Copenhagen entirely. The painting shows the battle being fought. On the right you can see the Kronborg Castle. On the left, the flagship of Obdam - 'De Eendracht' (= The Unity) is fighting 2 Swedish ships. Another Dutch ship, the 'Stavoren' can be identified somewhat in the middle of the painting. Also interesting is the red flag on the Dutch ships. This red flag is the Blood-flag, a special 17th century Dutch flag which was a sign that the Dutch were going to attack. This painting is from 1670-1679.

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