Army of Flanders

The Army of Flanders (Spanish: Ejército de Flandes) was a multinational army in the service of the kings of Spain that was based in the Netherlands during the 16th to 18th centuries. It was notable for being the longest-serving standing army of the period, being in continuous service from 1567 until its disestablishment in 1706. In addition to taking part in numerous battles of the Dutch Revolt (1567–1609) and the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), it also employed many developing military concepts more reminiscent of later military units, enjoying permanent, standing regiments (tercios), barracks, military hospitals and rest homes long before they were adopted in most of Europe. Sustained at huge cost and at significant distances from Spain, the Army of Flanders also became infamous for successive mutinies and its ill-disciplined activity off the battlefield, including the Sack of Antwerp in 1576.

Army of Flanders
Ejército de Flandes
The Army of Flanders' deployment for the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600).
Active1567–1706 (dissolution)
Country Spanish Monarchy
AllegianceKing of Spain as hereditary prince of the Low Countries
BranchSpanish Army
RoleSecurity, control, and defense of the Spanish Netherlands
Size10,000[1] (1567)
86,235[2] (1574)
49,765[2] (1607)
77,000[3] (1639)
Notable commanders Duke of Alba
Julián Romero
Sancho Dávila
Duke of Parma
Ambrosio Spínola
Cardenal-Infante Ferdinand

Creation of the Army

The Army of Flanders formed the longest standing army in the early modern period, operating from 1567 until 1706.[4] It was established following a wave of iconoclasm in the troubled provinces of the Netherlands in 1565 and 1566.[5] The provinces were ruled by the Spanish King Phillip II, and as trouble mounted he decided to reinforce the existing forces of the governor, Margaret of Parma, with a more substantial force. This was both a political reaction against the perceived rebellion, but also a response to the Calvinist views being shown by the protesters, establishing a religious flavour to the military response.[6]

King Phillip's possessions stretched across Europe, and were reflected in the creation of the new army. In 1567 it was intended that 8,000 Spanish foot and 1,200 horse would form the nucleus of a new army for the Netherlands, to be sent from north Italy via Savoy.[7] It was envisaged at this stage that the total number might potentially reach 70,000 (60,000 foot, 10,000 horse), under the command of Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba.[8] The force would be sent through Europe via a sequence of friendly or neutral territories, which would become known as the 'Spanish Road'; surveying of the route began in 1566.

Eventually the Spanish authorities concluded that 70,000 troops was excessive, and certainly too expensive, and in the end only 10,000 Spaniards and a regiment of German infantry under Count Alberic de Lodron were initially sent. Their formation, dispatch and march north was a considerable accomplishment for the time. Arriving in the Netherlands, they joined the 10,000 Walloon and German troops already serving Margaret of Parma, who then resigned in favour of Alba.[9] The Spanish troops were unruly, but formed an essential professional basis for the new army.[10] Backed by the new Army of Flanders, Alba began clamping down on the unrest; around 12,000 people were tried by Alba: 1,000 were condemned to death, others forfeited property as a result of the trials.[11]

Recruitment and support

El Camino Español
The 'Spanish Road', linking Spain's northern territories with those in Italy and the Peninsula. In an ambitious undertaking, Spain used the Spanish Road to reinforce her position in the Netherlands with the new Army of Flanders in 1567.

The size of the Army of Flanders would vary over the period in response to contemporary challenges and threats. The initial force that combined in the Netherlands in 1567 was a little over 20,000 strong; after the defeat of William I of Orange the following year, the Spanish planned for an enduring force of 3,200 Walloon and 4,000 Spanish infantry along the borders of the Netherlands, backed by 4,000 Spanish infantry and 500 light cavalry forming a strategic reserve.[12] In practice, the ensuing Dutch revolt meant that the Army had to enlarge considerably in 1572, reaching, on paper, if not in reality, a strength of 86,000 by 1574.[13]

The Army was a multinational force, drawn primarily from the various Catholic possessions of the Habsburgs but also from the British Isles and from Lutheran parts of Germany. There was a clear contemporary hierarchy as to the value of different soldiers; Spanish soldiers were considered the best; then Italians, followed by English, Irish and Burgundian troops; then Germans, then finally local Walloons. Parker has argued that the Germans in fact performed much better than they were given credit for by contemporary commanders.[14] Despite their value on the field, Spanish troops in the Army were particularly unpopular with the local people, and at two key moments were sent out of the Netherlands to assuage local opinion.

Recruitment occurred by various methods, including the commissioning of recruiting captains, who would attempt to enroll volunteers from a given recruiting region each year, and contractors, who would attempt to hire troops from across Europe. It is estimated that around 25% of the Army had served their military apprenticeships elsewhere, with more than 50% recruited outside the Low Countries.[15] At its best, this system could achieve remarkable surges – the increase in the Army in 1572 used all these methods, and its success was a major accomplishment for the Spanish military establishment.[16] During the 1590s, there was increasingly fierce competition for suitable veterans among Catholic France, embroiled in its civil wars of religion, the Habsburg Empire's other commitments and the Army of Flanders, with premiums being paid for transfers into the respective armies.[17] By the early 17th century, the similarities between the Habsburg army of Hungary and the Army of Flanders made competition for recruits particularly intense.[18] The cost of recruiting for the Army created tensions between Philip II's policy in the Netherlands, and his need to maintain a strong presence in the Mediterranean against the Ottoman Turks.[19] Although volunteers were the norm, in extremis other methods could be used; Spain raised a tercio of Catalan criminals to fight in Flanders,[20] a trend Philip II continued for most Catalan criminals for the rest of his reign.[21] Pay remained fixed throughout most of the period, three escudos per day up until 1634, then four escudos thereafter.[22]

At the highest social level, the Army of Flanders enjoyed a sequence of senior officers drawn from the nobility. Having senior noble commanders was considered extremely important in the Army,[23] more so than in equivalent armies in Europe.[24] At the lowest, the Army, like most of the period, had a substantial train of camp followers. Drawn from the lower classes, they made up a large percentage of the overall size of the Army in the field,[25] and represented a considerable logistical burden in campaigns.

As time went on, the Army of Flanders began to enjoy various distinctly modern institutions, often before they were adopted by the rest of Europe. Alba set up a military hospital at Mechelen near Brabant in 1567; it was closed the following year, but after many complaints by mutineers it reopened in 1585, ultimately having 49 staff and 330 beds, paid for partially by the troops. The 'Garrison of our Lady of Hal' was created as a more permanent rest home for crippled veterans. A public trustee was also appointed in 1596 to administer the wills of soldiers who had fallen in service.[26] After 1609, a number of small barracks (baraques, called after the French version of the Catalan barraca) were created away from the main urban centres to house the Army – a move that was eventually copied by other nations.[27]

Character of warfare and the Army

Ostenda obsessa et capta
A map showing the extensive polygonal fortifications around the city of Oostend, 1601-4, a prolonged siege which cost the Army of Flanders 80,000 casualties, and the Dutch 60,000.

The Army of Flanders had been built upon the concept of the Spanish tercio, a pike-heavy infantry formation that well suited the nature of warfare in the Netherlands. The large areas of flat ground, the platteland, was criss-crossed by rivers and drainage channels, dotted by numerous towns and cities well placed to dominate the surrounding landscape, increasingly defended with polygonal fortifications. Siege warfare, rather than set-piece battles, dominated the Eighty Years' War, especially in the 16th century. Away from the major sieges, the war took on an almost guerilla style of small engagements and skirmishes, with much of both the Army of Flanders and the Dutch forces dispersed across the countryside;[28] in 1639, for example, just under half of the Army, then 77,000 strong, was distributed across 208 small garrisons.[29] This pattern reflected the Dutch disposition as well.[28] Siege warfare was extremely expensive, both in terms of casualties and money. In 1622 the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom cost Spinola 9,000 men,[30] whilst the siege of Oostend in 1601-4 cost the Army of Flanders 80,000 in casualties.[31] The siege of Breda during 1624–5 was so expensive financially that the advance had to pause through 1625 – no more money was available to exploit the success.[32]

In the 17th century, the conflict gradually changed, as the Spanish-Dutch borders became smaller and more secure and the number of sieges slowly reduced.[33] The Army of Flanders gradually changed in response to these developments in warfare. The Spanish experiences fighting the Swedish, with their more flexible, firepower-oriented tactics of open battle, resulted in a decision to alter the balance of the Flanders tercios in 1634. A new ratio of 75% musketeers to 25% pike was decided on; this delivered more firepower, but was weaker in defending against cavalry, as was demonstrated at Rocroi (1643).[34] In practice this adjusted ratio was only applied to newly formed units.[35] There were also attempts to introduce the heavier musket to replace the lighter arquebus; the poor physical quality of new recruits, who could often not lift the heavier weapon, however, meant that this rule often had to be broken in practice,[35] the local Walloons being felt to be particularly weak and requiring the arquebus.[36] The efforts to deploy the Army of Flanders against France also encouraged changes. Generally speaking, the Army required more infantry for operations in the north against the Dutch, and more cavalry for operations in the south against the French.[37] The Army of Flanders was rarely strong in terms of cavalry, however; in 1572 Alba had discharged all his heavy cavalry,[38] and until the 1630s the Army's cavalry was mainly light cavalry, used to patrol the platteland.[39] Horses themselves were often in short supply – after the relief of Rouen in 1592, for example, two thirds of the Spanish cavalry lacked mounts.[40]

On campaign, the Army of Flanders were considered highly disciplined in the field, being cohesive, with good support facilities. When necessary, they could achieve significant military feats, such as their building of a bridge over the Seine to escape pursuit in 1592.[41] By contrast, even by early modern standards the Army was considered very ill-disciplined off the field, as illustrated by a colloquial Spanish phrase in response to unruly behaviour which came rhetorically to question whether the person believed they were serving in Flanders.[42]

Role in the campaigns of the Dutch Revolt, 1569–1609

Maastricht 1579
The Army of Flanders taking Maastricht in 1579 during the Dutch Revolt.

The Army of Flanders was to play a key part in all the campaigns of the Dutch Revolt (1567–1609). The Duke of Alba had first brought the army into Flanders, and despite losing the Battle of Heiligerlee to William I of Orange, the rebel leader, was able to pacify the north until a resurgence of rebel activity occurred in 1572. Unable to deal with the crisis, Alba was replaced by the more moderate Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens in 1573. Requesens was hampered by the bankruptcy of the Spanish crown in 1575, which left him without funds to maintain his army. The Army of Flanders mutinied, and shortly after Requesens' death in 1576 almost effectively ceased to exist, disintegrating in various mutinous factions.[43] Don John of Austria took over the command of the province, attempting to restore some semblance of military discipline but failing to prevent the Sack of Antwerp by mutinous soldiers.

By the time that Alexander Farnese, the future Duke of Parma, took control of the army in 1578, the Low Countries were increasingly split between the rebellious north and those southern provinces still loyal to Spain. Farnese set about consolidating Spanish control in the south, retaking Antwerp and other major towns. At this point the Army was diverted from its original function of fighting the northern rebels to addressing the problem of England, at war with Spain. Farnese believed that the Army could hope to cross the Channel in force, relying upon a Catholic uprising in England to support it; instead, Philip decided to undertake a naval attack using the Spanish Armada in 1588. The Army of Flanders moved against Ostend and Dunkirk in preparations for a follow-up manoeuver across the Channel in support of the Armada, but the defeat of the main naval force brought an end to these plans.

Farnese was ultimately removed as governor, being replaced by Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld-Vorderort in 1592 and Archduke Ernest of Austria in 1594. By the time Archduke Albert of Austria – the husband of Isabella of Spain was given custody of the Netherlands by the Spanish king in 1595, the Dutch north appeared to be an increasingly independent country, protected by the able military commander Maurice of Orange and his Dutch States Army. The Dutch continued to consolidate their control over various towns through a sequence of successful sieges, whilst the Army of Flanders saw itself increasingly pointed southwards, against France, being used as a strike force in 1590 and 1592, and fighting to take Cambrai (1595) and Calais (1596).[44] Despite the failure of the Army to reoccupy the north, it continued to the end of the period as an effective fighting force, with its campaigns in 1605 and 1606 being notable for their 'vitality' and vigour.[45]

Mutinies in the Army of Flanders

The Army of Flanders had become particularly well known for its frequent mutinies, especially during the 1570s. These mutinies, or alteraciones, stemmed from the mismatch between Spain's strategic military ambitions and her fiscal means. Spain was the only European power to be able to project military force on the scale and distance of the Army of Flanders; backed by gold and especially silver from her American colonies, Spain had huge funds available. In practice, however, the costs of such a large military force outstripped even Spain's ability to pay for it. In 1568, the defence costs for the army in Flanders amounted to 1,873,000 florins a year.[12] By 1574, the enlarged army was costing 1,200,000 florins a month.[46] Even with increased taxation, the Low Countries could not hope to support such a force, but funds from Castile were limited – only 300,000 florins arrived each month at the time from Spain.[47] This underlying fiscal tension was only just manageable in normal years; in years like 1575, when King Phillip II was forced to default on his loans yet again, there was simply no money available to pay the Army of Flanders. Mutinies usually ensued – ultimately the Army of Flanders mutinied 45 times between 1572 and 1609,[48] with the mutinies coming to have a formal character and process of their own. The longest mutiny was the Mutiny of Hoogstraten, which ran from 1 September 1602 to 18 May 1604.[49]

Incendio Ayuntamiento Amberes
Mutinous troops of the Army of Flanders ransack the Grote Markt during the Sack of Antwerp, in a Dutch engraving of 1576 by Franc Hogenburg.

Broadly speaking, these mutinies resulted in three problems. First, the mutinies were unpredictable and frightening events for any military leader to deal with. Second, they encouraged the troops to live off the locals, extracting 'free lodgings, and encouraging theft and plunder'[50] which drastically reduced local support for the Spanish cause. Third, the pauses in the campaigns caused by the mutinies allowed the Dutch to recover lost ground each time.

The first mutiny occurred in 1573, with the soldiers ultimately being paid off with 60 florins each,[51] two further mutinies followed, freezing the progress of the Spanish campaign. Mutinies continued in 1575 and 1576, up until the death of the Army's commander, Requesens. The Army effectively collapsed, sustaining itself by extorting money and food from the local peoples – widespread fresh Dutch revolts recommenced, accompanied by a general outcry of 'death to the Spaniards'.[52] The new commander in the Netherlands, Don John of Austria was unable to restore order, resulting in the Sack of Antwerp, a horrific event in which 1,000 houses were destroyed and 8,000 people killed by rampaging soldiers.[53] The States General, influenced by the sack, signed the Pacification of Ghent only four days later, unifying the rebellious provinces and the loyal provinces with the goal of removing all Spanish soldiers from the Netherlands, as well as stopping the persecution of heretics. This effectively destroyed every accomplishment the Spanish had made in the past ten years. Attempting to mollify the situation, Don John removed his Spanish troops from the country in 1577, before recalling them shortly afterwards when the political situation worsened again. When Don John died, Alexander Farnese replaced him as governor and set out to moderate Spanish policy in Catholic Flanders while reducing Protestant outposts by force. This policy backfired. In 1579 his troops sacked Maastricht, killing over 10,000 civilians.[54]

Role in the Thirty Years' War, 1618–48

Schlacht am Weißen Berg C-K 063
The Battle of White Mountain, 1620, a triumph for the Army of Flanders and the Army of the Catholic League.

During the opening campaigns of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), the Army of Flanders played an important role for the Imperial factions as a mobile field army. During the Palatinate phase (1618-1625), the Army, 20,000 strong,[55] was sent under Ambrogio Spinola to support the Emperor, pinning down the Protestant Union whilst Saxony intervened against Bohemia. Joined by the Army of the Catholic League, the two forces decisively defeated Frederick V at the Battle of White Mountain, near Prague, in 1620. In addition to becoming Catholic once more, Bohemia would remain in Habsburg hands for nearly three hundred years. The Army of Flanders then outflanked the Dutch in preparation for a renewed offensive against the United Provinces, occupying the Rhine Palatinate.[56]

Siege of Breda
The Siege of Breda in 1624 by Jacques Callot, showing the tercios of Army of Flanders.

Having made a success on the battlefield, the Army then turned against the Dutch. Spinola made considerable progress from 1621 onwards, finally retaking Breda after a famous siege in 1624. The cost of this siege, however, was far in excess of Spain's resources, and the Army was put on the defensive for the remainder of the war.[57] Steadily placed under increased pressure, the Army's position could have been untenable, but in 1634 Spain exploited the Spanish Road once again, bringing fresh forces from Italy under the command of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria; they decisively defeated the Swedes at the Battle of Nördlingen, before cutting west to reinforce the Army of Flanders. Any Spanish advantage, however, would be undercut by the new Franco-Dutch alliance that threatened to engulf the Spanish Netherlands in a pincer movement between her two enemies.

La Bataille de Rocroi
The Battle of Rocroi (1643) resulting in the destruction of many of the long-serving professionals at the heart of the Army of Flanders.

With the French entry into the war in 1636, the Army of Flanders initially made a good showing, counter-attacking and threatening Paris in 1636.[58] Over the next few years, however, France's military strength continued to grow and the earlier successes of the Army would be overshadowed by their defeat at the Battle of Rocroi in 1643. Spain had responded to French pressure on the Franche-Comté and Catalonia that year by deploying the Army from Flanders, through the Ardennes into northern France, threatening an advance onto Paris. The ensuing battle, as the Army set siege to Rocroi, turned against the Spanish and their defeat became inevitable. The French commander, Louis, duc d'Enghien, attempted to negotiate terms for surrender for the remaining Spanish infantry, but a misunderstanding led to the French troops attacking the Spanish forces with no quarter being given. Of the 18,000 strong Spanish army, 7,000 prisoners were taken and 8,000 killed, with the majority of these losses being the much-prized Spanish soldiers.[59]

The destruction of so much of the Army had immediate strategic ramifications. Spain could no longer continue its planned advance on Paris, and within five weeks had begun to make the first moves towards a negotiations that would culminate in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia.[60] Traditionally, historians have traced the decline and collapse of Spanish military power in Europe from the battle of Rocroi;[61] the defeat, however, can be overstated. A substantial part of the Army of Flanders, some 6,000 men under Beck, failed to turn up in time to fight at Rocroi and formed the nucleus of the new Army of Flanders afterwards.[62] Some recent historians have increasingly seen 1643 as a somewhat arbitrary date – Spain remained powerful and capable of defending itself in Flanders for many years afterwards.[63]

The final years of the Army, 1648–1706

Rocroi, el último tercio, por Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau
Battle of Rocroi. Some point to successes like Valenciennes, 1656 as showing the arbitrariness of using Rocroi, 1643, as the start of the decline.[63]

After the end of the Thirty Years' War, a financially constrained Spanish government steadily reduced the size of the Army of Flanders; this trend continued after the end of the Franco-Spanish war that continued after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.[64][3] Despite its decline in numbers and quality, the army remained "an opponent to be treated with respect" at least until the 1650s,[3] though it started to rely more on auxiliary forces such as the allied army of Louis, Grand Condé and a Royalist Army in Exile loyal to Charles II of England.[65] The Battle of the Dunes in 1658, resulting in a defeat for the Army of Flanders at the hands of the French, produced a renewed peace.[66]

Recent scholarship has highlighted the deep seated problems emerging in the Spanish state and military from the 1630s onwards. The Count-Duke of Olivares, the key advisor to King Philip IV, had attempted to re-energise the Army of Flanders by injecting increasing numbers of the aristocracy into the senior ranks; the results had included rank inflation, a fragmented system of command and a raft of temporary appointments.[67] By the 1650s, the officer-to-man ratio in the Army had reached the unsustainable levels of one to four.[67] Recruitment had steadily shifted; by the mid-17th century, troops were increasingly being raised less by contractor and contractors, and more by either capturing men or selecting them as levies from cities and towns via lotteries (quintas or suertes).[68][3] The Army of Flanders especially suffered from this, as it could no longer receive adequate numbers of recruits from Spain and Italy due to France having closed the Spanish Road. Instead it had to rely on locally raised forces or mercenaries who were not up to the old standards.[69] The infrastructure and support services were considerably improved, but not as much as elsewhere, and Army was increasingly perceived as a 'broken force' in European affairs.[70] With money continuing to be tight, visitors to the provinces in the second half of the century reported seeing the Army in an appalling state, with soldiers begging and short of food.[71] Nevertheless, there was no return to the mass mutinies of the preceding century.

By the end of the century, the final days of the Army of Flanders were not far away. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14) saw French and Allied invasions and the disintegration of central Spanish authority in the peninsula, which destroyed the basis of the Army of Flanders – it was formally disbanded in 1706.

Cultural legacy

The Battle of the Dunes in 1658, another defeat illustrating the steady decline of the Army of Flanders during the second half of the 17th century.

The Army of Flanders left a strong influence on various parts of Spanish culture. The patron saint of the modern Spanish infantry, for example, is the Immaculate Conception. This stems from an incident in 1585, when during the Battle of Empel, the tercio of Francisco de Bobadilla was trapped on the island of Bommel by the Dutch squadron of Admiral Holako. Stranded in mid-winter, his men were fast running out of food, but de Bobadilla refused to surrender. One of his soldiers, digging a trench, then discovered a wooden picture of the Immaculate Conception – de Bobadilla placed this on a makeshift altar, and prayed for divine intervention. That night the weather turned yet colder and the river Meuse surrounding the island froze over; de Bobadilla's men were able to cross the river on the ice, raid Holako's stranded ships and defeat the Dutch. The Army of Flanders adopted the Immaculate Conception as their patroness, and in turn this was followed by the modern Spanish infantry.

Various phrases from the military in Flanders remain in the Spanish language. Poner una pica en Flandes, – 'to put a pike in Flanders' – refers to something extremely difficult or costly, referring to the expense involved in sending Spanish forces to Flanders. Pasar por los bancos de Flandes, – 'to go through the banks of Flanders', refers to overcoming a difficulty, such as the notorious sand-bank protecting the river-strewn Netherlands.[72]

See also


  1. ^ Parker, El ejército de Flandes y el Camino Español, 1567–1659, p. 323
  2. ^ a b Parker, El ejército de Flandes y el Camino Español, 1567–1659, p. 315
  3. ^ a b c d Barratt (2016), p. 12.
  4. ^ Parker, 1996 p.72.
  5. ^ Zagorin, p.95.
  6. ^ Zagorin, p.97.
  7. ^ Parker, 1985:89.
  8. ^ Parker, 1985:90.
  9. ^ Parker, 1985: 102.
  10. ^ Parker, 1985: 104.
  11. ^ Zagorin, p.98.
  12. ^ a b Parker, 1985:114.
  13. ^ Parker, 1975: 163.
  14. ^ Parker, 2004: p.26.
  15. ^ Parker, 1996, p.49.
  16. ^ Parker, 2004, p.33.
  17. ^ Parker, 1996 p.5.
  18. ^ Parker, 2004, p.35.
  19. ^ Zagorin, p.109.
  20. ^ Lynch, page 109.
  21. ^ Lynch, page 200.
  22. ^ Mackay, p.9.
  23. ^ Black, pg. 8.
  24. ^ Anderson, p.23.
  25. ^ Parker, 1996 p.77.
  26. ^ Parker, 1996 pp.72–3.
  27. ^ Parker, 1996 p.78.
  28. ^ a b Parker 1996, p.40.
  29. ^ Parker 1996, p.17.
  30. ^ Anderson, p.41.
  31. ^ van der Hoeven, p. 13.
  32. ^ Anderson, p.42.
  33. ^ Parker, 2004, p.11.
  34. ^ Black, p.150.
  35. ^ a b Parker, 1996 p.60.
  36. ^ Gonzalez de Leon, p.323.
  37. ^ Parker, 1996 p.169.
  38. ^ Parker, 2004: p.9.
  39. ^ Parker, 2004, p.9.
  40. ^ Parker, 1996 p.70.
  41. ^ Black, pg. 105.
  42. ^ Ruff, p.61.
  43. ^ Parker, 2004, p.191-3.
  44. ^ Black, p.111.
  45. ^ Black, p.116.
  46. ^ Parker, 1985:165.
  47. ^ Parker 1985:172.
  48. ^ Parker, 1996 p.59.
  49. ^ Nimwegen, p. 39
  50. ^ Parker, 1975:172.
  51. ^ Parker, 1985: p.162.
  52. ^ Zagorin, p.110-1.
  53. ^ Parker 1985:178.
  54. ^ Nolan, 2006: p.666.
  55. ^ Mackay, p.5.
  56. ^ Black, p.130.
  57. ^ Israel, p.8-10.
  58. ^ Munck, p.48.
  59. ^ Wedgewood, p.458.
  60. ^ Wedgewood, p. 463.
  61. ^ For example Wedgewood, 1938.
  62. ^ Black, p.147.
  63. ^ a b Anderson, p.34-5.
  64. ^ Davis, p.223-5.
  65. ^ Barratt (2016), pp. 14–16.
  66. ^ Davis, p.223-5.
  67. ^ a b Gonzalez de Leon, 2008.
  68. ^ Mackay, pg. 8.
  69. ^ Barratt (2016), pp. 12, 13.
  70. ^ Parker, 1996 p.80.
  71. ^ Anderson, p.109-10.
  72. ^ Parker, 2004, p.48.


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Battle of Steenbergen (1583)

The Battle of Steenbergen, also known as the Capture of Steenbergen of 1583, took place on 17 June 1583 at Steenbergen, Duchy of Brabant, Spanish Netherlands (present-day North Brabant, the Netherlands). This was an important victory to the Spanish Army of Flanders led by Don Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma (Spanish: Alejandro Farnesio), Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, over the French, English, and Dutch forces led by the French Marshal Armand de Gontaut, Baron de Biron, and the English commander Sir John Norreys, during the Eighty Years' War, the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604), and in the context of the French Wars of Religion. The victory of the Spaniards ended the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours, and Francis, Duke of Anjou (French: François de France), left the Netherlands in late June.

Battle of Zutphen

The Battle of Zutphen was fought on 22 September 1586, near the village of Warnsveld and the town of Zutphen, the Netherlands, during the Eighty Years' War. It was fought by the forces of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, aided by the English, against the Spanish. In 1585, England signed the Treaty of Nonsuch with the States-General of the Netherlands and formally entered the war against Spain. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was appointed as the Governor-General of the Netherlands and sent there in command of an English army to support the Dutch rebels. When Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and commander of the Spanish Army of Flanders, besieged the town of Rheinberg during the Cologne War, Leicester, in turn, besieged the town of Zutphen, in the province of Gelderland and on the eastern bank of the river IJssel.

Zutphen was strategically important to Farnese, as it allowed his troops to levy war contributions in the rich Veluwe region. Therefore, he left some troops blockading Rheinberg and marched to relieve the town. He personally supplied Zutphen at first, but as the Anglo-Dutch siege continued, he assembled a large convoy whose delivery to the town he entrusted to the Alfonso Félix de Ávalos Aquino y Gonzaga, Marquis del Vasto/Guasto. Leicester learned of this when a courier dispatched by Farnese to Francisco Verdugo, the man in charge of Zutphen, was intercepted. The English and Dutch prepared an ambush, in which many English knights and noblemen were involved. In the end, the Spanish succeeded in delivering the convoy safely to Zutphen after a hard-fought battle. The Spanish cavalry, composed mainly of Italian and Albanian soldiers, was defeated by the English cavalry under the Earl of Essex. The Spanish infantry, however, held its ground and delivered the convoy to Zutphen. From there, reinforced by Verdugo, the Spanish troops forced the English to retreat.

Zutphen was secured for the Spanish, though in the following weeks the English managed to capture a major Spanish fort, Zutphen's sconce, on the bank of the IJssel river opposite the town. Most of the English gains were negated when, months later, the English governors of Deventer and Zutphen's sconce defected to the Spanish ranks and handed over their places to Farnese.

Capture of Aalst (1584)

The Capture of Aalst of 1584, also known as the Betrayal of Aalst, took place in early February, 1584, at Aalst, County of Aalst, Flanders (present-day Belgium), during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). In 1584, after the successful Spanish military campaign of 1583, the Governor-General Don Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, was focused in subjecting by hunger the cities located on the Scheldt and its tributaries. One of these cities was Aalst, located on the Dender river. In January, the garrison of Aalst, composed by English troops under the command of Governor Olivier van den Tympel, was completely surrounded and blocked by the Spanish forces led by Parma. In this situation, the English soldiers, tired of the lack of supplies and pay, finally surrendered the city to Parma, in exchange for 128,250 florins and entered the service of the Spanish army.The advance of the Prince of Parma was unstoppable, and on April 7, after three months of siege, the city of Ypres surrendered. The next goal of the Spaniards was Bruges, and on May 24, the city capitulated without a single shot fired.

Capture of Geertruidenberg (1589)

The Capture of Geertruidenberg of 1589, also known as the English betrayal of Geertruidenberg, took place on April 10, 1589, at Geertruidenberg, Duchy of Brabant, Flanders (present-day the Netherlands), during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604).On April 10, 1589, the garrison of Geertruidenberg, composed of a large number of English and some Dutch troops commanded by Governor Sir John Wingfield, surrendered the city to the Army of Flanders led by Don Alexander Farnese, Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands (Spanish: Alejandro Farnesio). A few days before, when pay did not arrive on time, the English soldiers mutinied, and was rumored that Wingfield had intended to surrender (or "sold") the city to the Spaniards. The States-General and Prince Maurice of Nassau (Dutch: Maurits van Oranje) accused him of treason for its surrender, but Wingfield denied the charges against him. The fact was that Geertruidenberg was in Spanish hands.

The same year, in September, Parma sent a force under Count Peter Ernst of Mansfeld to besiege Rheinberg. The garrison capitulated to the Spaniards in February 1590.Geertruidenberg was recaptured in June 1593 by an Anglo-Dutch force under the command of Maurice of Nassau and Francis Vere respectively.

Charles Bonaventure de Longueval, 2nd Count of Bucquoy

Charles Bonaventure de Longueval, Count of Bucquoy (Czech: Karel Bonaventura Buquoy, Spanish: Carlos Buenaventura de Longueval, Conde de Bucquoy, full name in French: Charles Bonaventure de Longueval comte de Bucquoy, German: Karl Bonaventura Graf von Buquoy) (Arras, 9 January 1571 – Nové Zámky, 10 July 1621) was a military commander who fought for the Spanish Netherlands during the Eighty Years' War and for the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years' War.

Dutch States Army

The Dutch States Army (Dutch: Staatse leger) was the army of the Dutch Republic. It was usually called this, because it was formally the army of the States-General of the Netherlands, the sovereign power of that federal republic. This mercenary army was brought to such a size and state of readiness that it was able to hold its own against the armies of the major European powers of the extended 17th century, Habsburg Spain and the France of Louis XIV, despite the fact that these powers possessed far larger military resources than the Republic. It played a major role in the Eighty Years' War (opposite the Spanish Army of Flanders) and in the wars of the Grand Alliance with France after 1672.

House of Spinola

The House of Spinola, or Spinola family, was a leading Italian political family centered in the Republic of Genoa. Their influence was at its greatest extent in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Guido Spinola was one of the first important members of the family. He served as Consul of Genoa in 1102. The Spinola were generally Ghibellines and in league with the Doria Family.

The next Spinola to come to prominence after Guido was Oberto. In 1266 Oberto lead the Genoese fleets in a victory against the Venetians. In 1271 he joined forces with Oberto Doria to drive the foreign Podestà of Genoa from power and reform the government. They managed to have the Podestà removed and replaced by two captains of the people, elected for 22 years, with Oberto Spinola and Oberto Doria being the first two elected to this office.

How long Oberto Spinola remained as Captain of the people is not clear. However, Tommaso Spinola was a leading admiral in the Genoese war with Pisa. In about 1289 Corrado Spinola became the captain of the people in place of his father Oberto. In 1301 Corrado Spinola resigned the office of Captain of the people, as did Lamba Doria. This office was then replaced with a foreign podestà and an abbot of the people.

The next phase of Spinola involvement was done by Opicino Spinola.

Galeotto Spinola was appointed Captain of the people in 1335 along with Raffaele Doria. They overthrew the power of Robert of Naples in Genoa.

In 1435, Francesco Spinola was successful at the Siege of Gaeta in the war over the control of Naples. Shortly afterwards, Francesco led a revolt that ended the rule of a Visconti based in Milan over Genoa.

The great Italian-Spanish general, Ambrogio Spinola, Captain-General of the Army of Flanders from 1603-1629 is a member of this family.

Mutiny of Hoogstraten

The Mutiny of Hoogstraten (1 September 1602 – 18 May 1604) was the longest mutiny by soldiers of the Army of Flanders during the Eighty Years' War. Frederick Van den Berg's attempt to end the mutiny by force, with a siege to recapture the town, ended in defeat at the hands of an Anglo-Dutch army under of Maurice of Nassau. After a period of nearly three years the mutineers were able either to join Maurice's army or rejoin the Spanish army after a pardon had been ratified.

Palatinate campaign

The Palatinate Campaign, or the Spanish conquest of the Palatinate, was a series of sieges, battles and conquests during the Palatinate Phase of the Thirty Years' War, carried out by the Army of Flanders under Don Ambrosio Spinola, and the Imperial-Spanish troops under Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly and Don Gonzalo de Córdoba. The Habsburg forces took advantage of Frederick of the Palatinate's predicament by invading the German Protestant Palatinate in 1620 and conquering it by the end of 1622.

Peace of Münster

The Peace of Münster was a treaty between the Lords States General of the United Netherlands and the Spanish Crown, the terms of which were agreed on 30 January 1648. The Treaty is a key event in Dutch history marking formal recognition of the independent Dutch Republic and formed part of the Peace of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years' War and the Eighty Years' War.

Sack of Antwerp

The Sack of Antwerp, often known as the Spanish Fury at Antwerp, was an episode of the Eighty Years' War. It is the greatest massacre in Belgian history.

On 4 November 1576, mutinying Spanish tercios of the Army of Flanders began the sack of Antwerp, leading to three days of horror among the population of the city, which was the cultural, economic and financial center of the Low Countries. The savagery of the sack led the provinces of the Low Countries to unite against the Spanish crown. The devastation also caused Antwerp's decline as the leading city in the region and paved the way for Amsterdam's rise.

Siege of Aachen (1614)

The Siege of Aachen took place in late August 1614, when the Spanish Army of Flanders, led by Ambrogio Spinola, 1st Marquis of the Balbases, marched from Maastricht to Germany to support Wolfgang Wilhelm, Count Palatine of Neuburg, during the War of the Jülich Succession. Despite its status as a free imperial city, Aachen was under the protection of John Sigismund of Brandenburg, Neunburg's ally, and then rival, in the battle for the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg. In 1611, the Protestant population of Aachen had revolted against the Catholic city council and had seized power. When the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, observing the Peace of Augsburg, had ordered the previous state to be restored, the Protestants had allied themselves with the Margraviate of Brandenburg. The unexpected arrival of a Spanish army at the gates of the city, however, caused the Protestants to lose courage and surrender Aachen to Spinola. A Catholic garrison was installed and a process of re-Catholicization began.

Siege of Bad Kreuznach

The Siege of Bad Kreuznach or the Spanish capture of Bad Kreuznach took place on 10 September 1620, in Bad Kreuznach in the Electorate of the Palatinate, where the Army of Flanders, led by the spanish Don Ambrosio Spinola, conquered the troops of Frederick V, Elector of the Palatinate, during the Palatinate campaign of the Thirty Years' War. The Army of Flanders was a multinational army in the service of the kings of Spain that was based in the Netherlands during the 16th to 18th centuries. Spinola's troops stormed Bad Kreuznach and its garrison surrendered. Later the town was freed on an oath not to rebel against the Holy Roman Empire.

Siege of Calais (1596)

The Siege of Calais of 1596, also known as the Spanish conquest of Calais, took place at the strategic port-city of Calais (present-day Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France), between April 8–24, 1596, as part of the Franco-Spanish War (1595–1598), in the context of the French Wars of Religion, the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604), and the Eighty Years' War. The siege ended when the city fell into Spanish hands after a short and intense siege by the Spanish Army of Flanders commanded by Archduke Albert of Austria, Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands (Spanish: Alberto de Austria). The French troops in the citadel of Calais resisted for a few days more, but finally on April 24, the Spanish troops led by Don Luis de Velasco y Velasco, Count of Salazar, assaulted and captured the fortress, achieving a complete victory. The Spanish success was the first action of the campaign of Archduke Albert of 1596.

Siege of Leuven

The Siege of Leuven (24 June – 4 July 1635) was an important siege in the Thirty Years' War in which a Franco-Dutch army under Frederick Henry of Orange and the French Marshals Urbain de Maillé-Brezé and Gaspard III de Coligny, who had invaded the Spanish Netherlands from two sides, laid siege to the city of Leuven, defended by a force of 4,000 comprising local citizen and student militias with Walloons, Germans and Irish of the Army of Flanders under Anthonie Schetz, Baron of Grobbendonck. Poor organization and logistics and the spread of sickness among the French, along with the appearance of a relief army of 11,000 Spanish and Italian troops under Ottavio Piccolomini, forced the invading army to lift the siege. This failure allowed the Spanish forces to take the initiative and soon the invaders were forced into a headlong retreat.

Siege of Niezijl

The Siege of Niezijl was a siege of the town of Niezijl that took place between 3 and 24 October 1581 in the Dutch States, during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). The Spanish under Colonel Francisco Verdugo laid siege to the place after his victory at the battle of Noordhorn but the siege failed and Verdrugo retreated leaving the English and Dutch under John Norreys and William Louis respectively the victors.

Count Rennenberg, Stadtholder of Friesland had betrayed the cities of Groningen, Oldenzaal, Coevorden and Delfzijl to Spanish control and himself became a turncoat. As a result Catholics would no longer be trusted with high posts in the States army. The Spanish Army of Flanders led by Francisco Verdugo, was succeeded as governor of the Northern Provinces, advanced south of the Lauwerszee to invade Friesland and to force the Republic into signing a negotiation. After their defeat Noordhorn on 30 September the Dutch and English retreated to Niezijl where they established themselves behind the defensive fortifications. Verdugo's army although delayed by mutinies were in pursuit and then began to besiege Niezijl.Niezijl was the only place barring Friesland and its capture would be important to the Catholic and Spanish cause. The Dutch and English resistance was much tougher than expected repelling assaults and withstanding a heavy bombardment. After three weeks Verdugo who was also dealing with mutinies in his ranks decided to give up the siege. The autumnal floods made the Frisian land impassable for the armies, and thus Verdugo moved with his troops to the dry land of Drenthe, while Norreys kept the remains of his army behind the IJssel river.Niezijl remained the only place in the Ommelanden that the Dutch kept, thus giving the States forces with a base to use. As a consequence from 1589 William Louis and Maurice of Nassau began a laborious reconquest of the Spanish territories which only ended with the capture of Groningen on July 22, 1594.

Siege of Rees (1599)

The Siege of Ress of 1599, also known as the Relief of Ress (Socorro de Rees in Spanish), was an unsuccessful attempt by Protestant-German forces led by Count Simon VI of Lippe, and Anglo-Dutch forces sent by Prince Maurice of Nassau (Dutch: Maurits van Oranje), commanded by Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein and the Count Ernst of Solms, to capture the strategic stronghold of Rees, Lower Rhine, Duchy of Cleves (present-day Germany) from the Spanish forces of Don Francisco de Mendoza, Admiral of Aragon, second-in-command of the Army of Flanders, and Governor Don Ramiro de Guzmán, between 10–12 September 1599, during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). This Spanish victory was part of the campaign of Francisco de Mendoza and Cardinal Andrew of Austria of 1598-1599, also called the Spanish Winter of 1598-99.

Siege of Rheinberg (1586–90)

The Siege of Rheinberg 1586–1590, also known as the Capture of Rheinberg of 1590, took place at the strategic Cologne enclave of Rheinberg (present-day North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany), one of the principals crossing-points over the Rhine on the stretch between the Electorate of Cologne and the Dutch border, between 13 August 1586 and 3 February 1590, during the Eighty Years' War, the Cologne War, and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). After an initial siege in 1586, and a long blocking by the Spanish forces until September 1589, Don Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma (Spanish: Alejandro Farnesio), commander-in-chief of the Spanish army, sent a substantial force, under Peter Ernst, Count of Mansfeld, to besiege Rheinberg. Despite the efforts by Maarten Schenck van Nydeggen (until his death at the Assault on Nijmegen on 10 August 1589), and Sir Francis Vere (from 1590), to relieve the fortress city, the Protestant garrison finally surrendered to the Spaniards on 3 February 1590.On 19 August 1597 the Dutch army led by Maurice of Nassau captured Rheinberg for the States in his successful campaign of 1597, but the following year the Spanish Army of Flanders led by Don Francisco de Mendoza retook the strategic place, forcing the garrison to surrender.

Siege of Schenkenschans

The Siege of Schenkenschans (30 July 1635 – 30 April 1636) was a major siege of the Eighty Years' War. In a successful campaign the Army of Flanders, commanded by Spanish general Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, had captured the towns of Diest, Goch, Gennep, Limbourg, and Schenkenschans, reversing recent Dutch gains and opening the Dutch Republic to a possible invasion. The Dutch Stadtholder, Fredrick Henry, pushed the Republic's military efforts to their limit to recapture the fortress of Schenkenschans in an epic siege to counter this strategic threat. He succeeded in doing so after nine months.

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