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For most of the seventeenth century the Netherlands constituted the most important maritime power in the world, with by far the largest merchant fleet and dominance in seaborne trade, feared and envied by other countries. Born out of an 80-year struggle against Spain for independence, the Dutch republic relied on naval power to guarantee its freedom, promote its trade, and defend its overseas colonies. The Dutch navy was crucial to its survival and success, yet the ships that made up its fleets are among the least studied and most poorly documented of any in the age of sail. This history is the first definitive listing of all Dutch fighting ships.
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