The Treaty of Breda
t/m 3 jan 2018

The Treaty of Breda


It is the summer of 1667. The eyes of the world are on Breda. For six weeks, the superpowers of the time – England, France and the Dutch Republic – are holding talks in the city to negotiate peace. But there is more than just peace at stake. They are also talking about trade, maritime power and their colonies. Discover what the treaty entailed, why the negotiations were in Breda, and what Michiel de Ruyter’s famed expedition to Chatham had to do with it.

Second Anglo-Dutch naval war
The Treaty of Breda puts an end to the Second Anglo-Dutch naval war. The conflict arose because the English could not compete with the Netherlands’ hugely successful and lucrative triangular trade. Slaves bought in West Africa are transported across the Atlantic and sold to work on plantations in Dutch Guiana. The proceeds from selling the slaves are used to buy products like sugar, coffee and cacao, which are shipped to the Netherlands. 

Meanwhile in Breda
While the war is being fought at sea, peace negotiations are held in Breda. Delegations from the superpowers arrive in the city. The population almost doubles and a huge military force ensures public safety. All the stops are pulled out to make the guests feel comfortable. The city is given a facelift and the most splendid private homes are vacated and luxuriously furnished. The castle is the perfect venue for the negotiations.

The turning point
However, the peace negotiations make no progress. Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt comes up with a cunning plan: an attack in the heart of the English fleet to break the impasse. Admiral Michiel de Ruyter leaves for London with his fleet, but does not dare to launch an offensive. So Cornelis de Witt takes over. The English fleet is sunk or set alight at Chatham. It marks the turning point of the negotiations in Breda.

News pamphlets
Romeyn de Hooghe’s news pamphlets have a prominent role in the exhibition. The pamphlets spread the news of the successful negotiations among the population. Four cartoonists and artists have coloured the pamphlets in again, especially for this exhibition. It is a contemporary twist to the old craft of afsetten. In the seventeenth century colour printing had not yet been invented, so pamphlets and maps were coloured in by so-called afsetters.

The exhibition
On one side of the exhibition room we highlight the peace negotiations in the city. Take a look at the original publication of the ratification of the Treaty of Breda and become acquainted with the ambassadors at the negotiating table. On the other side you can see the expedition to Chatham, the naval base where the English fleet was given a devastating blow. Take your time to study the exuberant painting by Gerard de Lairesse, the model of De Ruyter’s ship, the 18th-century scale model of Breda, and the statues and pamphlets honouring the famous statesmen, the De Witt brothers.

Artists and designers
The exhibition includes works by Pieter van Abeele, Jan de Baen, Cornelis van Bergen, Caesar van Everdingen, Joost Halbertsma, Fred de Heij, Romeyn de Hooghe, Jacob Houbraken, F. Jansen, Gerard de Lairesse, Karel van Mander II, Aarnout Nachtegaal, Mathias de Sallieth, Jonas Suyderhoef, Alex Verhaeven and Jorg de Vos.

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