Of all the ties which seventeenth-century England had with other nations, none involved so volatile a mix of amity and irritation, admiration and jealousy, religious kinship and deadly commercial rivalry as that with the Dutch. If much in this mix was muddled and paradoxical, at least the reasons for amity were generally clear. In an age when confessional allegiance, Catholic or Protestant, dominated Europe’s alliance-system, it was in England’s interests to see that this flat, damp, prosperous and strategically vital strip of Europe’s north-western coast remained firmly in Protestant hands.
But the bonds with the Dutch Republic were secured by more than just strategic self-interest. They were reinforced by a common culture which, as Lisa Jardine reveals in Going Dutch, constituted a series of intimate connections and took an astonishingly diverse variety of forms. As with any relationship, of course,