State Formation and the Private Economy: Dutch prisoners of war in England, 1652–1674

By Gijs Rommelse & Roger Downing, published May 2018


The sea battles of the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the mid-seventeenth century generated large numbers of prisoners of war. Their incarceration and subsequent repatriation were the responsibility of a succession of appointed bodies, under Cromwell and subsequently under Charles II. Captives were incarcerated in prisons throughout southern England. Once these were full it became necessary to negotiate alternative habitations. This was complicated by the often blurred distinction between public and private-enterprise facilities in this period. Shortage of money, logistical problems associated with unpredictable prisoner numbers and the lack of facilities at improvised locations meant that the conditions under which many captives were held were frequently dire. This article views the provision of accommodation for prisoners of war in the light of the Military Revolution debate and demonstrates that the development of institutions and procedures for dealing with prisoners of war demonstrates that state formation in this period was an unplanned and non-deterministic process.

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Filed under: Dutch Wars | Other (location)
Subjects include: Administration | Miscellaneous

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