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BATTLE OF BEACHY HEAD 1690

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The Battle of Beachy Head took place on 30th June or 10th July 1690 (according to the English or Continental calendars respectively) approximately 12 or more miles off Beachy Head, between a combined Anglo-Dutch fleet and the French fleet. It took place in the aftermath of the "Glorious Revolution" when William and Mary of Orange replaced James II on the throne, and French involvement at this battle was intended to support the return of James II, as well as being part of the wider war known as the War of the Grand Alliance.

The French were sighted making their way eastwards up the Channel, being off the Lizard on the 20th/30th June. Lord Torrington, commanding the combined fleets, was reluctant to commit to battle in the face of superior French numbers, but was given the order for battle from Queen Mary on 29th June/9th July off Beachy Head. With the wind from NE three divisions of the combined Anglo-Dutch fleet bore down upon three divisions of the French fleet to the westward, with both sides arranged in a line of battle formation. The battle raged from around 8am until nightfall.

The French won a victory after inflicting heavy damage on the Anglo-Dutch fleet, who lost four fireships and the VRIESLAND. As a calm fell and the wind and tide changed at evening, the allies weighed anchor and attempted to retreat to the Thames. In the aftermath of the battle, the GEKROONDE BURG and the NOORDERQUARTIER were beached, and the WAPEN VAN UTRECHT sank. Four other Dutch ships were run ashore near Hastings: the MAAGD VAN ENKHUIZEN, ELSWOUT, THOLEN and NOORD HOLLAND, and burnt. On the English side, the ANNE (1082120) was also burnt; the ANNE is now designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. Torrington was court-martialled for inaction, but was acquitted; for Louis XIV of France it was a significant victory.

The location of the battle is for representative purposes only, reflecting the current state of knowledge, and is not intended to be definitive.

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