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In 1625 the Dutch colonists of New Netherland built a trading post on Manhattan Island in the Hudson River and called it Fort Amsterdam. They bought the island itself, and later the trading post became New Amsterdam. When the English captured it in 1664 they renamed it New York.

England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands went to war with each other three times during the 17th century. The English and the Dutch were rivals in the slave trade between Africa and America. They also quarrelled over fishing rights in the North Sea, over trading in spices with India and the islands of South-East Asia, and over colonies in the Americas. Since the wars were fought between the navies of the two countries, they became a battle for command of the seas.

In 1651, the English Parliament passed a law requiring that all goods entering England should be carried in English ships. This was a deliberate attempt to limit Dutch trading and led to a war which lasted for three years. War was again declared in 1665. There was fighting off the coast of West Africa, where the English first captured, but then lost, the Dutch slave ports. It was at this time that the English expedition occupied New Amsterdam. But in 1667 the Dutch, under Cornelius van Tromp sailed up the Thames and burned part of the English fleet at anchor in Chatham docks. Peace was signed soon afterwards at Breda.

In 1672 England, together with France, was again at war with the Dutch. It was an unpopular war with the English people and peace was signed in 1674. The quarrels between the two countries ended when the Dutch prince, William of Orange, became king of England in 1688.

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