In the first half of the 17th century conflicts of trade interests between England and the Netherlands increased. This intensified the likelihood of armed conflict and matters came to a head with Cromwell's Navigation Act of 1651, which directly threatened Dutch primacy as 'the carriers of Europe' by restricting English trade to English ships. The first of the three resultant sea wars between England and the Dutch United Provinces broke out in 1652, lasting to 1654. In this painting the action between Dutch and English ships is believed to show one of the earliest exchanges.
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