The Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667), fought mainly over the two countries maritime trade ambitions, was largely contested between the English and Dutch navies in the North Sea. Early English victory at the Battle of Lowestoft in June 1665 was followed in 1666 by two less conclusive engagements – the Four Days Battle and the St James’s Day Battle.
in August 1666 Vice Admiral Robert Holmes raided the Dutch Vlie estuary destroying 130 ships, sacking the island of Terschelling and burning the town of West Terschelling in an action that became known as ‘Holmes’s Bonfire’ and incensed Dutch opinion against the English.
In September 1666 the Great Fire of London combined with the impact of the Great Plague the previous year took its toll on the finances of Charles II’s government and its ability to replace ships lost in battle or keep the fleet at sea. In February 1667 lack of funding kept the Navy’s largest ships laid up at Chatham, unarmed and unmanned – whilst also forcing him to begin peace talks at Breda.
In contrast the Dutch economy was in much better position, well able to replace ships lost in battle and put its fleet to sea. In June 1667 the Dutch seized the opportunity to take revenge for Robert Holmes’s raid on Terschelling, by attacking the English fleet and dockyard at Chatham.