It’s almost impossible to imagine wars without deaths and injuries. In fact, even the shortest war between Britain and Zanzibar in 1896 (full story here) that only lasted for 38 minutes had 500 casualties. The idea that the longer the war, the more people die or are injured is not a wrong assumption. There was one war (although many contests its existence) that lasted for 335 long years, so you could just imagine how many lives were lost for a battle that long, right? Well, there was none.

How It Started

Just like many other wars in history during that era, the 335-year war all started because of the conflict called the English Civil War from 1642 to 1651.

The British were divided into two forces: The Royalists, who were supporters of the British monarchy led by King Charles I, and the Parliamentarians fighting for a democratic government whose leader was Oliver Cromwell. Not much different from the situations that we now have, when external forces aid the side they supported, another country came in. In this case, it was the just-got-independent Kingdom of the Netherlands who bet the Parliamentarians would win, so they decided to support them. They got involved because the Netherlands wanted to maintain their alliance with the British, so taking the side of who was more likely to win would guarantee that this alliance would be kept. When it became formal, the Dutch provided their chosen side with the use of their commercial fleet, all-expense-paid, as part of their agreement.

A Painting of Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper (After Samuel Cooper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

On the other side, the Royalists obviously did not appreciate being thought of as would-be losers by their long-time allies. They felt betrayed by their decision to side with their enemies, so they retaliated by raiding Dutch shipping lanes situated in the English Channel. The Royalists were basically expelled from mainland England, so they decided to camp up in Scilly and utilize it as the center of their operations. Because of this, the small group of islands off the coast of Cornwall joined them. This now meant that the allies of the opposing forces were also enemies now. Thus, the Isles of Scilly and the Kingdom of Netherlands were now at war, too. Perhaps we could call it second-hand war?