Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday in History: Better Late Than Never

A little smattering of tiny islands lie off the western coast of England. And until this day in history in 1986, they were at war, and had been for three hundred thirty five years.
It all started when the Netherlands, who were allies of England, wanted to help out with their civil war. In 1651. Since it was a civil war, they could have helped out either side and claimed that they were helping out their ally, but nobody wants to be on the losing side of a war.
The Isles of Scilly, safe from Dutch warships in 2009
photo by Mike Knell
via wikipedia
The Parliamentarians, under Cromwell, had shoved the Royalists out to the edges of Great Britain. The Royalists did what they had to do to survive, which included raiding any Dutch ships that happened to be nearby. A Dutch Admiral arrived to put a stop to it. He arranged his ships menacingly, puffed out his chest, and when these intimidating actions did not produce the apology he wanted, he declared war on the Isles of Scilly.
Several months later, the English civil war was resolved, and the Dutch navy went home without firing a single shot... but they never really made peace with the little archipelago. The “war” dragged on for centuries, forgotten by everyone except local myth.
Though the Admiral hadn’t necessarily had the authority to declare war on the islands on behalf of his country, in 1985 an island historian decided it was time for an end of aggression. A Dutch Ambassador came to sign a formal peace treaty, joking that the islanders must have lived in constant fear, “to know that we could have attacked at any moment.”
I suppose peace is better made late than never.

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