The Shortening of Sail After the Battle of Lowestoft, 3 June 1665

J D Davies

To mark the 350th anniversary of the battle, I’ve been tweeting the key events at the appropriate times during the day. However, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the battle doesn’t lend itself readily to Twitter. After destroying the Dutch flagship during the day’s action – a brief description of which can be found here – the Duke of York’s fleet began to pursue the Dutch, who were in considerable confusion and lacked a proper command structure. During the night of 3-4 June, though, the fleet was ordered to shorten sail. Why this happened has always been something of a mystery. Here’s what I wrote in Pepys’s Navy; I believe I’m right in saying that I was the first historian to find and cite Brouncker’s justification of his actions. After the references, I’ve added my fictional account from The Blast That Tears The Skies, as witnessed by the future admiral…

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