Michael Adrianzoon De Ruyter - Encyclopedia

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MICHAEL ADRIANZOON DE RUYTER (1607-1676), Dutch naval officer, was born at Flushing on the 24th of March 1607. He began his seafaring life at the age of eleven as a cabin boy, and in 1636 was entrusted by the merchants of Flushing with the command of a cruiser against the French pirates. In 1640 he entered the service of the States, and, being appointed rearadmiral of a fleet fitted out to assist Portugal against Spain, specially distinguished himself at Cape St Vincent, on the 3rd of November 1641. In the following year he left the service of the States, and, until the outbreak of war with England in 1652, held command of a merchant vessel. In 1653 a squadron of seventy vessels was despatched against the English, under the command of Admiral Tromp. Ruyter, who accompanied the admiral in this expedition, seconded him with great skill and bravery in the three battles which were fought with the English. He was afterwards stationed in the Mediterranean, where he captured several Turkish vessels. In 1659 he received a commission to join the king of Denmark in his war with the Swedes. As a reward of his services, the king of Denmark ennobled him and gave him a pension. In 1661 he grounded a vessel belonging to Tunis, released forty Christian slaves, made a treaty with the Tunisians, and reduced the Algerine corsairs to submission. From his achievements on the west coast of Africa he was recalled in 166; to take command of a large fleet which had been organized against England, and in May of the following year, after a long contest off the North Foreland, he compelled the English to take refuge in the Thames. On the 7th of June 1672 he fought a drawn battle with the combined fleets of England and France, in Southwold or Sole Bay, and after the fight he convoyed safely home a fleet of merchantmen. His valour was displayed to equal advantage in several engagements with the French and English in the following year. In 1676 he was despatched to the assistance of Spain against France in the Mediterranean, and, receiving a mortal wound in the battle on the 21st of April off Messina, died on the 29th at Syracuse. A patent by the king of Spain, investing him with the dignity of duke, did not reach the fleet till after his death. His body was carried to Amsterdam, where a magnificent monument to his memory was erected by command of the states-general.

See Life of De Ruyter by Brandt (Amsterdam, 1687), and by Klopp (2nd ed., Hanover, 1858).

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