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Blue_Bug

Very short biography of Michiel de Ruyter.

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A ship is as good as his commander. If one game proves that fact it is WoWs. So it is time to look at the most famous commander of it’s time. A commander whose thoughts still affects the modern navy. We are talking of course of Michiel de Ruyter.

 

Michel de Ruyter was born at March 24 1607. At the age of eleven he went for the first time to sea. In the early years he was meanly active in commercial shipping. In those time there was not much difference between the commercial shipping and a nations navy. Almost all commercial vessels were armed, and almost all commercial vessel had the right to attack the country’s enemy ships, Which often happened.

 

However Michiel exceled in his shipping quality’s. Only at the age of 30 he got his first command of a private owned warship. Why it took him that long is still object of discussion. Reasons could be his obstinate personality and is low birth (he was a son of a beer carrier).

 

In 1652 the first Anglo-Dutch war began. At that time Michiel was again active in the commercial shipping. But he had already a great reputation. He was asked to join the Dutch navy. Although he didn’t feel like it, he joined the dutch Navy.Under his command Michiel defeated the English at the battle of Plymouth. This was the first victory of the Dutch in that war. Many victories followed and so did the reputation of Michiel de Ruyter.

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After the war Michiel was asked to become admiral of the Dutch Navy. Due to the political climate he refused. He stayed at the Navy as Vice-Admiral.

 

In 1659 Michiel de Ruyter liberated the city Nyborg (Danmark) from the Swedish. Instead of attacking the fortifications with ships Michiel de Ruyter used professional soldiers to establish a beachhead. It was not an easy victory. Only at the second day when Michiel de Ruyter (in disguise) lead the troops on the beach the beachhead was established. After this it only took two hours before the fortress at Nyborg was liberated.

 

Due to this success, directly after this battle, the admiral Johan de Wit ordered the foundation of the Dutch marine corps. Due to the Dutch tendency to discuss everything a long time. The Dutch Marine Corps was established in 1665. In the meantime the English heard of the idea and established their own English Marine Corps in 1663.

 

In the meanwhile the Dutch really wanted a treaty with the English. The French where threatening the Netherlands and the Dutch didn’t want a war against both countries. The English had other problems. The King of England spend a lot of money for private use. A lot of money was also spend to rebuild London after the great fire. The King of England cut down massively on the English Navy. There for a large part of the English navy was laid up at Chatham.

 

To force the English in to a treaty Admiral Johan the Witt ordered a raid on Chatham. It was a very dangerous plan meanly because the unknown shallow waters of the river Medway. Michiel de Ruyter was known to be a cautious men. In his battles he didn’t leave much to coincidence. A plan like this was not liked by Michiel de Ruyter at all. Although he was commander of the fleet that raid Chatham his role was very small. Only after the battle was already done the ship of Michiel de Ruyter appeared at Chatham. At this raid the Dutch destroyed three capital ships and ten lesser naval vessels and towed away the flagship of the royal navy. This was one of the largest defeats of the English Navy. After this, the English never neglected the navy again.The raid led to the end of the second Anglo-Dutch War.

 

The raid made Michiel de Ruyter even more famous. He was promoted to Lieutenant  admiral general of the Dutch Navey. But he had also a lot of opponents in the Dutch government. His opponents slowly got more influence. This leads to sending Michiel de Ruyter to help Spain with a weak fleet. In Michiels own words (freely translated into English) “My country don’t have to ask me to, but can simply order me. And even if they order me to sail with one ship against a complete fleet I will sail and raise our nations flag.”

 

Michiel de Ruyter died in the Mediterranean sea due to a French Canon ball. His body returned to the Netherlands. When the ship with his body passed France , King Lodewijk XIV ordered to fire salutes in honour of Michiel de Ruyter. (Some enemies treath you better than your allies).

 

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