80 years' war after the truce (1621-1648)

Siege of Schenkenschans by Gerrit van Santen

2nd Siege of Breda (1637)


The Fifth Siege of Breda (21 July – 11 October 1637) was an important siege in the Eighty Years' War in which stadtholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange retook the city of Breda, which had last changed hands in 1625 when the Spanish general Ambrogio Spinola conquered it for Spain. Hereafter, the city would remain in the hands of the Dutch Republic until the end of the war. In 1635 France and the Dutch Republic formed an alliance against Spain with the objective of conquering and partitioning the Spanish Netherlands. They invaded on two fronts in June 1635, but soon the Spanish forces regained the initiative against the combined Franco-Dutch army, which was ignominiously driven to the Dutch border. There Spain managed to capture the strategic fortress of Schenkenschans by surprise. This forced the Dutch to enter upon a long and costly siege of that fortress that occupied the Dutch army for nine months.After the recapture of Schenkenschans in April 1636, the Spanish commander, the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Spain, shifted his focus to France. This required that the Army of Flanders move away from the Dutch border; therefore the military threat Spain posed to the Dutch Republic lessened. In the summer of 1636 the Cardinal-Infante reached as far as Corbie, but this city was retaken by the French in November, and at the end of the year Spain had lost most of its gains. For the campaign of 1637 Olivares planned a renewed offensive against France. In Brussels the Cardinal-Infante actually would have preferred an offensive against the Dutch, but reluctantly agreed to take part in the three-pronged invasion of France that summer (the other invasions would come from Catalonia and Lombardy). He therefore started to mass his forces on the French border when word came that the Dutch had suddenly invested the city of Breda with a besieging army of 18,000.


Breda was the capital city of the baronial fief that had once been the crown jewel in the Dutch estates of the Nassau family in the Habsburg Netherlands before the war started. Frederick Henry had therefore a personal interest in recapturing the city and its surroundings. The siege was preceded by an attempt to surprise the garrison on 21 July 1637 by Dutch cavalry under Henry Casimir I of Nassau-Dietz. However, the gates were closed in time and the Dutch skirmishers driven back. The Dutch then from 23 July on first captured a number of villages around the city (Frederick Henry made his headquarters in Ginneken) and then started to dig a double line of circumvallation that would eventually reach a circumference of 34 km. An outer contravallation (8 ft. deep and 16 ft. wide) defended the besiegers from outside interference, and outside this area the low-lying countryside was inundated by damming a few rivers.[4] Unlike the strategy adopted by Ambrosio Spinola at Breda in 1624-5, Frederick Henry did not plan on a passive siege, aimed at starving the fortress, but intended a more aggressive approach.[5] The Spanish attempt at relief that the Cardinal-Infante soon launched was unable to dislodge the besiegers. He therefore lifted his siege of the besiegers and moved with his army to the valley of the Meuse, where he took Roermond and Venlo from the Dutch, a considerable loss. Undistracted, the besiegers meanwhile started digging covered trenches inward from the circumvallation line toward the hornworks of the fortress, which had been constructed by the Dutch themselves on the model of a star fort. Two of these trenches were dug toward the Ginnekenpoort (Ginneken Gate), one by French, the other by English mercenaries. The French finished their work on 27 August, the English one day later. Fascines were used to fill the moat. The French and English scaled the walls of the hornwork on 1 September. That same night, the French ambassador Girard de Charnacé, who commanded a French regiment of the besiegers, was adventitiously killed by a bullet to the head. The besiegers then started mining the hornwork, and on 7 September the mine was blown, breaching the walls. George Monk, later first Duke of Albermarle, then a captain in Dutch service, was first in the breach. The hornwork was taken. However, a few days later a different mine misfired, and another attack was repelled with great loss of life among the Dutch and Scottish attackers. Nevertheless, the defenders now abandoned this part of the outer defense works to the besiegers.On 2 October, count Henry of Nassau managed to take a lunette and ravelin and drive the defenders into the city proper. This meant that the inner city was now open to attack by mines. The garrison knew that the situation was hopeless. Honor having been preserved, the governor, Gomar de Fourdin[10] sued for an honorable surrender on 6 October. The capitulation was signed, and on 11 October the Habsburg garrison left the city with flags flying and drums rolling. They marched off toward Mechelen.


Though Spain almost managed to capture the important fortress of Rheinberg from the Dutch a month after the fall of Breda, the campaign season of 1637 was now over. The next year the Army of Flanders was kept on the defensive by attacks from both France and the Republic. Frederick Henry made an attempt to capture Antwerp, but his advance guard was caught in the open by a crack Spanish force on 20 June 1638 and defeated in the only pitched battle of the second part of the Eighty Years' War at Kallo.

Map of the siege of Breda in 1637 by Frederick Henry by J. Blaeu

Surrender of Breda by Johannes Hinderikus Egenberger.

Departure of the Spanish Garison from Breda at 1637 by Hendrick de Meijer

Siege of Venlo (1637)


The Siege of Venlo was an important siege in the Eighty Years' War that lasted from 20 to 25 August, 1637. The Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, retook the city of Venlo from the United Provinces, which had taken control of it in 1632 during the offensive of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange against Maastricht. Venlo remained in Spanish hands for the rest of the war, balancing along with Roermond, surrendered to the Cardinal-Infante a week later, the loss of Breda to the Dutch in October of the same year. After recovery of the Dutch fortress of Schenk in April 1636, Spain adopted a defensive strategy in the Dutch front of the war between the United Provinces and France against Spain. In the first months of 1636, the Count-Duke of Olivares insisted the Cardinal-Infante to continue concentrating the war effort in exploiting his gains in the Lower Rhine and in northern Brabant rather than in an offensive against France. In late May, however, the offensive operations were suspended and a secondary thrust was launched into France. The invasion succeeded in capturing a large number of fortresses and menaced Paris, but Ferdinand considered that more ambitious operations could risk his army and retreated. For the campaign of 1637 Olivares planned a renewed offensive against France, so Ferdinand began to mass his forces on the French border.


In July the statholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, seized the moment and marched into northern Barbant in command of an army of 18,000 soldiers determined to besiege Breda. On 21 July 1637 some Dutch cavalry under Henry Casimir I of Nassau-Dietz attempted to surprise the garrison of Breda, but the gates were closed in time and the Dutch skirmishers driven back. From 23 July the Dutch captured a number of villages around the city and then started to dig a double line of circumvallation that would eventually reach a circumference of 34 km. An outer contravallation defended the besiegers from outside interference, and outside this area the low-lying countryside was inundated by damming a few rivers. The Cardinal-Infante, who had come with his army to Breda, found no way to relieve the city and decided to open an offensive against the Dutch in the Maas valley.Ferdinand abandoned Goirle and Tilburg and marched with his army to Hilvarenbeek, where his troops crossed the Dommel river over the bridge of Halder, located a league from Den Bosch, and camped in Helmond, Neerwert, Heutsingben, and Rogelen. He ordered the Marquis Sigismondo Sfondrati to cross the Meuse through the bridge of Gennep with some companies and wend to Venlo, where he arrived the next day. By then the garrison had been warned, but Ferdinand decided to invest the town and entrusted this task to the Marquis of Sfondrati. They confronted the governor of Venlo, Nicolaas van Brederode, a bastard of the noble family of van Brederode who has at his disposition 15 companies of infantry and some cavalry troops amounting to a total of 1,000 or 1,200 men. Van Brederode judged that he had no enough troops to defend the inside and outside of the town, so he ordered his troops to guard the gates and the boulevards and assigned the rest to the burghers of the town. The Cardinal-Infante arrived at the camp the next day and divided his army into four corps. One was placed in command of the Count John of Nassau and was quartered with the troops of the Count of Rietberg and other imperial troops, another marched to the north led by of the Count of Ribecourt, consisting of two regiments and troops from Fratras, Geldre, Gennep and Brion. Colonel Roveroy quartered his troops, the regiments of Faramont and Lodrons, south of the city, and the Count of Feria did it on the east with the Spanish Tercio of the Marquis of Velada, the Old Tercio of the Count of Fuenclara, all the baggage, and the court of the Cardinal-Infante.When the camp was ready, trenches began to be dug, both from the horn of Blerick and from three other locations. At the same time were made the approaches and at each quartes was built a battery of five cannons that began to beat the town incessantly. At first the garrison of Venlo and the burghers responded to this fire with their artillery, but when the Spanish advanced in their approaches and set fire to the town with their shells, the burghers rebelled against Van Brederode and went to City Hall to demand to the magistrates that sued the governor for a cessation of hostilities. Meanwhile, the women climbed the walls and begged for mercy to the Spanish. Van Brederode decided then to send a drummer called Corneille Poorter to negotiate the surrender with the Cardinal-Infante.


The Cardinal-Infante, surprised by the ease of the victory, left some troops in Venlo and continued his offensive. A week later his cavalry rapidly invested the town of Roermond, defended by a Colonel called Carpentier, and after another heavy bombardment forced its garrison to surrender. 1,100 Dutch infantry soldiers and 2 companies of cavalry left the town with weapons and baggage, and were convoyed to Grave. Ferdinand considered then besieging then Grave, Nijmegen or perhaps Maastricht, but advised by his commanders, he finally decided to cease the offensive alarmed by French advances in the south. The capture of Venlo and Roermond, nevertheless, was joyful received by the Southern Netherlands populace and allowed Ferdinand to isolate Maastritch from the United Provinces. However, Frederick Henry refused to lift the siege of Breda despite this setback and the city finally surrendered to him on October 11. The loss of Breda supposed a considerable blow to Philip's IV prestige, as Breda was a symbol of the Spanish power in Europe

The Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, by Jan van den Hoecke.

The siege of Roermond (1637)


The siege of Roermond in 1637 took place from 29 August to 3 September by the Cardinal -Infante.


In August did the Cardinal Infante as governor of the Spanish Netherlands raided the 'Overkwartier'. On 25 August this year, he took in Venlo. He then left his riders go through to Roermond. Two days later, he himself followed with the rest of the army. Roermond was occupied by eleven companies of infantry and two companies of cavalry. These were under the command of Colonel Carpantier (in total about eleven hundred men).


On August 29 the bombardment of the city began, continuously until the next day. Because they had defended themselves bravely they received the same favorable terms as Venlo. After five days Roermond defended himself vigorously against the long shoot for five days by four batteries, with sixteen pieces she went to "conyngs Seyde" Roermond because it could no longer sustain . Despite valiant defense of the States soldiers they did not manage to keep the outside works under their control. The garrison had ordered citizens to help defend the city, but they refused that "not willing to fight against their natural Lord and Prince". Major Carpentier was forced by these circumstances to give the city to the cardinal. The Staatsen had shot in that short time as many as seven hundred tons of gunpowder. The garrison left the next day to Grave .


The city was rich with a large quantity of ammunition and supplies of good quality, which the States garrison had to leave the city. On September 4, the citizens of Roermond covered with "flying color" from the city to get their "royal highness" inside. French mayor Pollart and the other gentlemen of the magistrate offered him the key to the city which they received back immediately. Then all State-minded members of the magistrate were dropped off again, and again replaced by the Royals.

Roermond in 1636 door Nicolaes van Geelkercken 1654

Treachery of Maastricht (1638)


Het Verraad van Maastricht, ook wel het Verraad van 1638,[1] was een poging in 1638 om de stad Maastricht in Spaanse handen te spelen en leidde in juni en juli van dat jaar tot de tragische terechtstelling van negen 'verraders'. Maastricht was sinds het zeer bloedig verlopen Beleg van Maastricht (1579) in Spaanse handen gekomen en was dat tijdens het verdere verloop van de Tachtigjarige Oorlog gebleven. In de jaren daarna werd de stad onder leiding van de jezuïeten gerekatholiseerd. In 1632 werd Maastricht opnieuw belegerd, ditmaal door de Staatse troepen van prins Frederik Hendrik van Oranje. Na het geslaagde Beleg van Maastricht (1632) werd de vanouds tweeherige stad een vooruitgeschoven post van de Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden. De tweeherigheid van het stadsbestuur werd gerespecteerd; in de raad moest het aantal Brabantse (eigenlijk: Staatse) vertegenwoordigers steeds gelijk zijn aan het aantal Luikse. Bij de overgave van de stad was bedongen dat de calvinisten dezelfde rechten zouden hebben als de (veel talrijkere) katholieken. Zo moesten de katholieken twee van de vier parochiekerken afstaan aan de calvinisten.


Dat de uitkomst van het beleg van 1632 door beide oorlogsvoerende partijen niet als een vaststaand gegeven werd gezien, moge blijken uit een Spaans vredesvoorstel uit 1633 om Breda te ruilen tegen Maastricht plus een grote som geld. In 1635 stelde Cornelis Musch, griffier van de Staten-Generaal, voor om Maastricht en de vesting Limbourg in te ruilen tegen Geldern en de Schenkenschanz. Nog in 1646, twee jaar voor de Vrede van Munster, trachtte de Franse diplomaat Godefroi d'Estrades (30 later gouverneur van Maastricht) Frederik Hendrik van Oranje ertoe te bewegen Maastricht in te ruilen tegen Antwerpen. Frederik Hendrik wilde wel, maar de Staten van Holland en West-Friesland waren fel tegen. De Spanjaarden waren na 1632 vastbesloten Maastricht te heroveren en bouwden daartoe ten zuiden van de stad, langs de Maas nabij Eijsden het fort Navagne, ook wel Elvenschans genoemd, waardoor de Maasvaart vrijwel onmogelijk werd.[3] In 1637 kregen de Spanjaarden Roermond en Venlo in handen, waardoor hun greep op de Limburgse Maasstreek vrijwel hersteld was. In hetzelfde jaar bekeerde de voorheen Nederduits-gereformeerde gouverneur van Maastricht, Frederik Maurits de La Tour d'Auvergne, tevens commandant van het Staatse leger, zich tot de Rooms-katholieke Kerk. De Spaanse opmars in de regio en de religieuze ommezwaai van hun gouverneur moet de Spaansgezinde katholieken in Maastricht vertrouwen hebben gegeven dat de stad spoedig weer in Spaanse handen zou komen en het katholicisme weer zijn oude, dominante positie zou gaan innemen. In het voorjaar van 1638 werd de commandant van de vesting Maastricht door zijn krijgsraad erop geattendeerd dat een Franse soldaat, Claude de la Court of Lacourt genaamd, kwistig met geld strooide, meer dan waarover hij op grond van zijn soldij zou kunnen beschikken. De soldaat bekende op de pijnbank dat hij door de commandant van het Spaanse fort Navagne was omgekocht om de stad in handen van de vijand te spelen. Daartoe had hij de bierbrouwer Lansman overgehaald om op zekere nacht een in zijn tuin gelegen dichtgemetseld poortje in de stadsmuur open te breken en de Spanjaarden daardoor binnen te laten. Lansman werd eveneens op de pijnbank gelegd en bekende dat de metselaars Caters en Rompen hadden toegezegd het poortje te helpen openbreken. Lansman noemde tevens de namen van de kapelaan van het Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekapittel Toussaint Sylvius, de franciscaan Servaes Vinck en een aantal jezuïeten als medeplichtingen. Allen werden gemarteld en noemden nog meer namen van 'verraders', waarvan de meesten na korte of lange tijd werden vrijgelaten. In totaal werden 22 verdachten opgepakt en voor verhoor gefolterd in de kerker van het toenmalige stadhuis, De Lanscroon, in de Grote Staat. Hoewel het proces plaats vond in het stadhuis, was de zaak een aangelegenheid voor de militaire rechter, de krijgsraad van de vesting. Uiteindelijk werden er tien verdachten schuldig bevonden, waarvan er negen op de Houtmarkt (de huidige Markt) of op het Vrijthof werden onthoofd. De metselaar Jan Rompen wist tijdig naar het fort Navagne te ontvluchten en ontliep daarmee zijn terechtstelling. Pater Vinck, wellicht de bekendste van de negen, werd op 7 juni op de Houtmarkt onthoofd omdat hij Lansman had aangemoedigd en een briefje uit het fort Navagne voor hem had meegenomen. Het hoofd van deken Sylvius rolde twee weken later op het schavot op het Vrijthof, omdat hij van het voorgenomen verraad op de hoogte was geweest zonder de krijgsraad daarover in te lichten. Agnes de Bourien, de vrouw van de soldaat, werd om diezelfde reden terechtgesteld. Van de drie veroordeelde jezuïeten is later wel aangenomen dat ze geen schuld hadden en niet op de hoogte waren van het verraad, maar dat hun koppen moesten rollen omdat ze als jezuïeten bekend stonden als vurige bestrijders van de reformatie en aanhangers van de Spaanse koning.[4] De rector van het klooster, Jan-Baptist Boddens (geboren in 1596 te Brugge), was bovendien aalmoezenier geweest in het Spaanse leger en ging prat op zijn vriendschappen met onder anderen prins Frederik Hendrik van Oranje, Constantijn Huygens en gouverneur De la Tour d'Auvergne, die onder zijn invloed katholiek zou zijn geworden.[5] Het hoofd van broeder Philippe Nottin viel op 14 juli, dat van pater Gerard Pasman en dat van Boddens op 20 juli. Van vijf onthoofden (Lacourt, Lansman, Caters, Vinck en Nottin) werd het hoofd op pieken gespietst en op het rondeel De Drie Duiven tentoongesteld, met het gezicht naar de vijand toegekeerd. Het rondeel en de nabije watermolen staan sinds 1638 bekend als De Vijf Koppen.


Als gevolg van de vermeende betrokkenheid van jezuïeten en franciscanen bij het verraad, moesten beide kloosterorden in 1639 de stad verlaten. Voor de Maastrichtse jezuïeten was het de tweede keer dat ze uit de stad werden verdreven. Eén pater en één broeder mochten blijven om op de gebouwen te passen. De Jezuïetenkerk (thans Bonbonnière) werd enkele tientallen jaren gebruikt door de Waalse gemeente. Pas in 1673, na de verovering van Maastricht door Lodewijk XIV van Frankrijk, mochten de paters terugkeren. Ook de Latijnse stadsschool en het jezuïetencollege, die beide door de jezuïeten werden gedreven, waren van 1639 tot 1673 gesloten. De franciscanen moesten het 13e-eeuwse Oude Minderbroedersklooster opgeven, dat daarna als protestants weeshuis in gebruik werd genomen. De kloosterkerk werd militaire opslagplaats van het garnizoen. De paters trokken op 25 juli 1639 in processie naar het in 1578 verwoeste observantenklooster op de Sint-Pietersberg (op Luiks gebied), dat opnieuw bewoonbaar werd gemaakt. Het beeld van de Sterre der Zee namen ze mee naar het nieuwe klooster, Slavante genaamd. Pas in 1673 keerden de franciscanen terug in de stad (zie franciscanen in Maastricht). Geen direct gevolg van het Verraad van Maastricht, maar wel daarmee samenhangend is het ontslag uit Staatse dienst in 1641 van Frederik Maurits de La Tour d'Auvergne, waarbij hij ook zijn gouverneurschap in Maastricht moest neerleggen. Hij vervolgde zijn militaire carrière in Franse en pauselijke dienst. In de 20e eeuw werden vergeefse pogingen ondernomen om enkele van de terechtgestelde geestelijken, met name pater Vinck en overste Boddens, zalig te laten verklaren. In de lokale geschiedschrijving van met name de periode 1920-'40 werd de procesvoering in 1638 veroordeeld als een anti-katholieke maatregel, voortkomend uit de vermeende haat tussen 'Hollanders' en Maastrichtenaren.[6] Een nabijgelegen verdedigingstoren in de walmuur werd na de restauratie in 1906-'07 genoemd naar pater Vinck.


Battle of Kalo (1638)



The Battle of Kallo was a major battle of the Eighty Years' War. It was fought on 20 June of 1638 near the fort of Kallo, located on the left bank of the Scheldt river, between a Dutch army under the command of William of Nassau-Hilchenbach, and a Spanish army led by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, governor of the Spanish Netherlands. As the Dutch approached with the aim of surrounding the city of Antwerp, the Cardinal-Infante managed to assemble an army and almost miraculously repelled the much larger Dutch force, which lost several hundred men dead (one of whom was William of Nassau's only son), another 2,500 taken prisoner, and significant amounts of artillery and baggage. The Battle of Kallo was the largest action of the Spanish-Dutch War, as well as the only pitched battle and the worst Dutch defeat of the late Eighty Years' War.


While no major offensive operation was carried out against the United Provinces by the Spanish Army of Flanders during 1636–37, in July 1637 the statholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, marched into northern Barbant in command of an army of 18,000 soldiers and invested the Spanish-ruled city of Breda. Garrisoned by 3,000 Spaniards, Italians, Wallons and Burgundians, Breda was one of the main fortresses of the Spanish Netherlands and a symbol of the Spanish power in Europe. A Spanish force under the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand attempted to relieve the garrison of the city, but failed to dislodge the besiegers. Ferdinand decided move with his army to the valley of the Meuse, where he took Venlo and Roermond after two fierce bombardments, in order to distract Frederick Henry. However, he had to turn back shortly after, alarmed by the French advances in Artois, Hainaut and Luxembourg, and could not prevent the fall of Breda. For the campaign of 1638, King Philip IV instructed the Cardinal-Infante to undertake an offensive strategy against the Dutch in order to subject them to massive pressure and force them to agree a favourable truce and the restoration of their conquests in Brazil, Breda, Maastricht, Rheinberg and Orsoy. The main objective of that year would be the capture of Rheinberg, which would give to Spain a crossing point in the Lower Rhine and contribute to tightening the blockade over Maastricht. Ferdinand was also ordered, when the offensive operations had finished, to quarter his army near the Dutch frontier in order to protect Antwerp, which had become more vulnerable since the loss of Breda, and even to reinforce the garrisons of many secondary fortresses. In the end, however, the Spanish were pinned to the defensive by a coordinated Franco-Dutch attack in May 1638. Marshal Châtillon laid siege to Saint-Omer covered by Marshal La Force in Picardy while Frederick Henry marched on Antwerp commanding an army of 22,000 soldiers, determined to besiege the city.


A Dutch vanguard of 6,000 Dutchmen, Germans and Scots under Prince William of Nassau was dispatched ahead of the main army with orders to capture various forts and redoubts placed on the left bank of the Scheltd river. Initially the army was going to Bergen op Zoom, where Frederick Henry had sent 50 river barges, but then moved to Lillo. On the night of 13/14 June they crossed the Scheldt, landing at Kildreck, and easily occupied the Fort of Liefkenshoek, near the village of Kallo. According to a Spanish official letter from June 30, 1638, the commander of the fort had previously been bribed with 24,000 silver coins to open the gates as they approached. According to other source, the man, a captain called Maes, was not involved in any treachery but asked permission from the Dutch to save the life. The remaining garrison, caught by surprise, was massacred. William proceeded the following morning to attack the Forts of Sainte Marie and Isabelle, the latter built on the levee of Voorderweert. He also ordered the dykes of the Polder of Melsele to be demolished with the aim of flooding the area, but the low tide prevented this. Over the next four days, the Dutch sappers worked to improve the defenses of the main Fort of Liefkenshoek. Large amounts of earth and other necessary materials were brought aboard river barges from the Fort of Lillo, located on the Dutch-controlled opposite riverside, which allowed the sappers to build high and wide embankments. William garrisoned half of his troops in those entrenchments, sending the remaining to harass the Forts of Sainte Marie and Verrebroek., from where they were receiving artillery fire and skirmishes were made by the Spanish to regain the levees between Kallo and Sainte Marie. An assault against this fort was rejected by its German garrison on the 17th, although the following day it was abandoned by its defenders and occupied by William's troops. Weerdick was taken by assault and captured the same day. Some sources claim that William's only son was killed during these actions. The Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, alarmed, requested his Imperial general Ottavio Piccolomini to immediately come to Antwerp with his army. Piccolomini was then en route to Valenciennes with 4,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry soldiers to relieve the besieged town of Saint-Omer together with the Prince Thomas Francis of Carignano. Ferdinand went himself to the city determined to recover himself the lost forts. He gave the command of the citadelle of Antwerp to Don Felipe da Silva and that of the city to Anthonie Schetz, baron of Grobbendonk, and even ordered the Marquis of Lede to come from the Meuse, where he was camped, with his troops. Warned of this maneuvers, William garrisoned all his troops to wait for a counterattack. Ferdinand divided his army into three parts. The General of the Artillery Andrea Cantelmo would lead the main force, consisting of 3,000 men divided on 5 companies of Spanish veterans of the Tercio of Velada, all the Tercio of Duchino Doria, and some companies of Walloon soldiers. The Marquis of Lede would attack in charge of 5 companies of the Old Tercio of Fuenclara, the Walloon Tercio of Ribacourt, the Lower German regiment of Brion, and other soldiers of Nations, a total of 2,000 men. The last force, whose strength was also of 2,000 men, was put in command of Count of Fuenclara and consisted of 15 companies of his own Tercio. On 20 June the Spanish army crossed the Scheltd river and took positions near Beveren. The battle, one of the bloodiest of the war, began that night with the Spanish army storming the Dutch positions and lasted for 12 hours. Cantelmo fell over the fortifications through the leeve of Warbrok; the Marquis of Lede did it from Beveren, and the Count of Fuenclara in the fort of Sainte-Marie. At first the Dutch soldiers managed to repel the Spanish, but they were finally overrun and fled in disorder. About 2,500 men were killed or drowned in attempting to escape, while another 2,500 were captured. The whole of the artillery, 3 standards, 50 flags and 81 river barges were taken by the Spaniards.The Forts of Liefkenshoek and Verrebroek were reoccupied during the action, which cost the Cardinal-Infante 284 men dead, among them many captains, and 822 wounded. According to the same Spanish official letter from 30 June, William of Nassau's only son was taken prisoner in the Fort of Liefkenshoek and shot dead by his captors to prevent his rescue by a group of Dutch soldiers.


The victory of Kallo was described by the Cardinal-Infante to King Philip as the "greatest victory which your Majesty's arms have achieved since the war in the Low Countries began", and by the Dutch as "a great disaster". The recapture of the key fortress of Kallo forced Frederick Henry to abort the whole offensive, which turned as one of the worst Dutch defeats of the war, thus undermining the reputation of the statholder. Shortly after two of Ferdinand's generals, Ottavio Piccolomini and Prince Thomas of Carignano, routed in command of a Spanish-Imperial force the French army under the Marshals Gaspard III de Coligny and Jacques-Nompar de Caumont, which retreated from Saint Omer with the loss of 4,000 men. Piccolomini's Imperials also overran some Dutch outposts in Cleves. In an attempt to restore the situation, Frederick Henry laid siege to Geldern in command of 16,000 men, but was forced into a costly retreat by the Cardinal-Infante, who succeeded in breaking his lines of circumvallation. The defensive campaign of 1638, in all, was exceptionally successful for the Spanish.


Fort Liefkenshoek, Fort Lillo, Belgium, Ferraris map

Fort Liefkenshoek

General of the Artillery Andrea Cantelmo. Engraving by Anthony van Dyck and Paulus Pontius.

William of Nassau-Siegen, by Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn

The Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, by Anthony van Dyck.

The Battle of Guararapes by Victor Meirelles

Land battles 80 years' war after the truce

1621 to 1648

All battles fought on land (for sea battle, please see

sea battles):


Battle at Doornik (1621)


Siege of Gulik (1621-1622)


Siege of Bergen op Zoom (1622)


Siege of Steenbergen (1622)


Attack on 's-Hertogenbosch (1622)


Attack on Antwerpen (1623)


Raid on the Veluwe (1624)


Attack on Antwerpen (1624)


Capture of Goch (1625)


1st Siege of Breda (1624-1625)


Siege of Oldenzaal (1626)


Siege of Grol (1627)


Raid on the Veluwe (1629)


Capture of Wesel (1629)


Capture of Recife (1630)

Siege of 's-Hertogenbosch (1629)

Campaign of the Maas (1632)

- Siege of Venlo (1632)

- Siege of Maastricht (1632)

- Siege of Philippine (1635)


Capture of Tienen (1635)


Siege of Leuven (1635)


Siege of Schenkenschans (1635-1636)


2nd Siege of Breda (1637)


Siege of Venlo (1637)


Fort Elmina conquered (1937)


Siege of Roermond (1637)


Treachery of Maastricht (1638)


Battle at Kallo (1638)


Battle at Hulst (1640)


Battle of Malacca (1641)

Siege of Gennep Prinsenvlag (1641)


Ambush at Bergen op Zoom (1643


Siege of Sas van Gent (1644)


Siege of Hulst (1645)


Siege of Antwerpen (1646)


Siege of Venlo (1646)


First battle of Guararapes (1648)

Twelve years 'truce document

Capture of Recife (1630)


In 1630 the Dutch captured Recife. They sailed on December 26, 1629 from São Vicente, Cape Verde, a fleet of 66 ships and 7,280 men toward Pernambuco. In February 1630 the fleet sighted Pernambuco on the horizon; most of the fleet went to the north of the captaincy because the port of Recife was well fortified and garrisoned by artillery. The landing took place on the shore of Pau Amarelo. A weak resistance was organized at the crossing of the Rio Doce, but soon defeated by the superior numbered Dutch. Olinda also did not oppose major setbacks. The few structures of defence and military disorganization contributed to a faster fall of the Portuguese defence. Then the invading troops went into the village of Recife, which would oppose a higher resistance due to already being built strong.


Siege of Schenkenschans (30 July 1635 – 30 April 1636)


One of the more important sieges of the Eighty Years' War. The capture of the strategically located fortress by the Spanish army of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria opened up the Dutch Republic to a possible invasion. The Dutch Stadtholder, Fredrick Henry had to pull out all stops to counter this strategic threat and recapture the fortress in an epic siege that lasted even through the winter months. He succeeded in doing so after nine months.


The fortress with the name Schenkenschans (English: Schenk's Sconce, Spanish: Esquenque) was founded by the German mercenary commander Maarten Schenk van Nydeggen on the orders of stadtholder Adolf van Nieuwenaar in 1586. Its location was strategically chosen, because it dominated the place where in 1586 the Rhine and the Waal River forked (currently these rivers split further west; the fork was moved to improve river traffic and prevent flooding. An army that approaches from the East here has a choice of marching along the right bank of the Rhine, through the "back door" of the Dutch Republic, thrusting straight to the Dutch heartland; or take a more southerly route through the Betuwe; or take the third route West, entering the area between the Waal and the Meuse River. In all three cases the rivers form an ideal supply line. However, that supply line was cut off by the Schenkenschans. The Dutch dominated the area (that also includes nearby Cleves) during most of the war with Spain. The fortress was much improved after its humble beginnings and in its new form was a fine example of Star fort architecture.


In 1635 the Dutch Republic concluded an alliance with France with the objective of taking on the Spanish Army of Flanders from two sides, in the hope of breaking the strategic stalemate in the Eighty Years' War and dividing up the Spanish Netherlands between the two partners in the alliance. The Dutch and French invaded from two sides in June, 1635, and joined forces in the valley of the Meuse in July, while the Spanish field army under the Cardinal-Infante fell back to cover Brussels. The invading armies (60,000 strong) captured a few smaller places before investing Leuven. But this siege ended in a fiasco because of bad logistics and organization, and because the French army was decimated by the plague. This failure allowed the Spanish forces to take the initiative and soon the invaders were forced into a headlong retreat.The Cardinal-Infante pushed the Franco–Dutch army back to the Dutch border. He made a north-easterly thrust to the Rhine in the direction of Cleves. A party of 500 German mercenaries under Lt.-Col. Eyndhouts, roaming on his left flank, managed to surprise the fortress of Schenkenschans that at the time had a garrison of only 120, in the night of 27/28 July. The garrison were massacred. Spain then put a large garrison in the fortress, at first under the command of Eyndhouts (who died in action on November 30).


The Dutch brought up reinforcements right away, but could not prevent the occupation by a Spanish army of 20,000 of the Duchy of Cleves during August and September. This army threatened an invasion of the Dutch heartland and it was therefore essential that this threat be countered. Frederick Henry personally started the siege of Schenkenschans within days of its fall, but soon transferred command to his cousin John Maurice, Prince of Nassau-Siegen. The besieging army had a strength at its peak of 30,000 men, while the size of the garrison was 1,500 men. The terrain made the siege especially difficult. The fortress was built on an island between the two rivers that functioned as a moat. An escalade would therefore be difficult, as the garrison was unlikely to let itself be surprised. Mining would have been impossible because of the water-logged terrain, and for the same reason the fortress could not be closely invested with entrenchments. On the other hand, the Dutch could and did use the terrain to protect the besieging army from Spanish efforts at relief by inundations. In any case, there seemed to be no option but to starve out the well-provisioned garrison and meanwhile to attempt to pound the fortress to rubble with siege artillery. This the Dutch did with alacrity. The fortress was bombarded from all sides, even by river gun-boats on the Waal. The effects of such bombardments were terrible. According to eye-witnesses: “One could hear the screaming and crying in the sconce while the air was filled with smoke and flying debris for two hours on end”. After one such bombardment. Nevertheless, the garrison held out for nine months despite the terrible circumstances and the high casualties. When finally John Maurice negotiated an honorable surrender with the new governor of the fortress, Gomar de Fourdin, only 600 survivors walked out on April 30, 1636.


The population of the Dutch Republic was elated by the surrender, whereas the Spanish chief minister Olivares fell victim to despondency. Though there may not have been a direct link with the loss of Schenkenschans for Spain, the Cardinal-Infante decided to change the focus of the Spanish offensive to France in the Summer of 1636. To everybody's surprise this led to a collapse of the French defenses and to a deep incursion into France, as far as Corbie.The fortress of Schenkenschans once more played an important role in Dutch history when it fell without a shot being fired to the French invading armies during the Rampjaar on 21 June 1672. The governor of the fortress at the time was the 22-year-old son of a Nijmegen regent by the name of Ten Hoven or Ten Haef, who evidently was in over his head and surrendered the fortress in exchange for a chance to march the garrison off to Friesland. By that time the rivers near the fortress had become so shallow that the French army could easily ford them. The fall of the fortress made the subsequent French invasion of the Republic much easier.

Fort Elimina conquered (24-29 July 1637)


In 1637 the Dutch West India Company detached 9 ships from the forces attacking the Portuguese in Brazil to send them against the Portuguese in Fort Elmina. They appointed Colonel Hans Coine to command the fleet which consisted of a total of 1,300 men. They landed on July 24 a short distance away from Cape Coast, and proceeded to canoe down the Sweet River towards the Portuguese fort, bringing 800 soldiers and three days worth of provisions.


A hill named St. Jago dominated the fort which Coine determined needed be taken if they were to take the fort. However, 1,000 natives allied to the Portuguese were at the base of it, preventing the Dutch from seizing it. Coine sent four companies of Fusiliers after it, but they were completely destroyed. A second Dutch detachment that attacked the other side fared better, causing the native to go into a rout. The Portuguese and their native allies made two attempts to take back the position, but both failed. After the second failed attack, the Portuguese fell back into their redoubt at the summit of the hill.


The redoubt was protected by a wooden wall on one side, and a river on the other. Coine decided to ford the river to allow a mortar and two cannon to fire upon the fort. After bombarding the fort for two more days, he demanded the garrison in the castle to surrender. The Portuguese governor requested a three-day truce, but Coine refused as he only had provisions for one more day. He brought more of his forces to St. Jago and continued to bombard the fort. The bombardment was ineffective, and by the next morning Coine realized that he would have to either have to attack the fort that day or abandon the attempt. He dispatched a group of Grenadiers up the hill, but before they could attack a chamade was sounded and two messengers were sent out by the Portuguese to negotiate a surrender.


The surrender allowed the Governor, the Garrison, and all Portuguese citizens to leave, without swords or any other weapons, on a boat to the island of St. Thomas. The Dutch would be allowed take all that was left including gold, silver and slaves.

View of fort Elmina by Gerard van Keulen

Map of Venlo in 1652, by Joan Blaeu.

De la Tour d'Auvergne, de in 1637 katholiek geworden gouverneur van Maastricht

"The Maastricht Treason of 1638 Collection: Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Netherlands

17e-eeuwse tekening van de staak waarop de hoofden van vijf terechtgestelden werden tentoongesteld op de stadsmuur

Battle at Hulst (1640)


De Slag bij Hulst was een veldslag die plaatsvond op 4 juli 1640, tijdens de laatste jaren van de Tachtigjarige Oorlog.


De Staatse troepen probeerden de Vlaamse stad Hulst in te nemen, waarbij Hendrik Casimir I van Nassau-Dietz een aanval uitvoerde op Fort Moerschans en de Linie van Communicatie ten Oosten van Hulst. Het Leger van Vlaanderen, de Spanjaarden, die feitelijk met te weinig manschappen waren, verzonnen een list. Zij stelden langs de linie een aantal trompetters op die allen een andere melodie speelden. Hendrik Casimir dacht dat deze trompetters, zoals in die tijd gebruikelijk, elk bij een afzonderlijk legeronderdeel hoorden en er dus een grote troepenmacht op de been was. Hij sloeg op de vlucht. De legeraanvoerder, Frederik Hendrik, was hierover ontstemd en beval een aanval op de vele forten rondom Hulst. Bij de aanval op het ten westen van Hulst gelegen Fort Nassau sneuvelde Hendrik Casimir.


Het Staatse offensief mislukte, en het duurde nog tot 1645 voordat Frederik Hendrik in staat was om Hulst in te nemen, na een Beleg van Hulst.


Siege and conquer of Malacca (1641)


In the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC) began the campaign to destroy Portuguese power in the East. At that time, the Portuguese had transformed Malacca into an impregnable fortress (the Fortaleza de Malaca), controlling access to the sea lanes of the Straits of Malacca and the spice trade there. The Dutch started by launching small incursions and skirmishes against the Portuguese. The first serious attempt was the siege of Malacca in 1606 by the third VOC fleet from Holland with eleven ships, led by Admiral Cornelis Matelief de Jonge that lead to the naval battle of Cape Rachado. Although the Dutch were routed, the Portuguese fleet of Martim Afonso de Castro, the Viceroy of Portuguese India; suffered heavier casualties and the battle rallied the forces of the Sultanate of Johor in an alliance with the Dutch.


The Dutch with their local allies assaulted and wrestled Malacca from the Portuguese in January 1641. This combined Dutch-Johor efforts effectively destroyed the last bastion of Portuguese power, removing their influence in the Malay archipelago. As per the agreement with Johor in 1606, the Dutch took control of Malacca and agreed not to seek territories or wage war with the Malay kingdoms.


The Siege of Gennep 1641


Het Beleg van Gennep was een belegering en inname van het kasteel Genneperhuis bij Gennep in Limburg, Nederland, door het Staatse leger onder leiding van Frederik Hendrik, ten tijde van de Tachtigjarige Oorlog. Het beleg duurde van 28 juni tot en met 29 juli 1641, waarna Gennep werd ingenomen door de belegeraars. Terwijl het staatse leger nog bezig was met het verschansen voor Gennep, deed Graaf de Fontaine een poging dit te verhinderen. Zijn leger inmiddels aangegroeid tot 12.000 man 4.000 ruiters was op weg naar Blerick. Op 22 juni naderden zij Sambeek ten zuiden van Boxmeer waar de Graaf Herman Otto I van Limburg Stirum gelegerd was. Graaf de Fontaine wilde voordat hij actie ondernam proberen de bezetting op Gennep te versterken, en zond 2.000 man naar een nog onvoltooide stelling voor Gennep die door de Prins van Oranje was gevorderd. Ze verlieten deze stelling weer nadat de Heer van Beverweerd naderde met een leger. De Spanjaarden trokken zich ten slotte via de Kleefse Bossen terug naar de hoofdmacht. Twee dagen later verplaatste de Graaf de Fontaine het leger naar Blerick.


Op 28 juni begonnen Staatse troepen met het graven van twee approches in twee richtingen. Twee batterijen bestookten Gennep van vier kanten. Het graven van de loopgraven was niet zonder risico. Graaf Willem van Nassau had de contrescarp ingenomen, en moesten een dam over van slechts drie meter breed welke ook nog eens gedekt werd door een bastion. De belegerden staken de dam aan de andere kant door, waardoor op 6 juli alle takkebossen wegspoelden waarmee de prins het riviertje Niers had gevuld. (Hij raakte hierbij gewond en zou uiteindelijk in 1642 overlijden aan de wond die hij tijdens dit beleg opliep.) Hierdoor was de prins gedwongen een brug te bouwen, hetgeen bemoeilijkt werd door de belegerden. Uiteindelijk liet de prins buiten schootsafstand op 14 juli een brug bouwen, en gaf opdracht onmiddellijk een schans te bouwen waarvan de stad onder vuur kon worden genomen. Hierdoor konden de Staatsen het eerdere punt innemen, en vandaar een Spaanse Schans innemen, waar vandaan weer een hoornwerk ondermijnd kon worden. Op 22 juli was de mijn klaar, maar het hoornwerk kon ingenomen worden zonder de mijn te laten springen. Nu kon eindelijk een aanvang gemaakt worden aan het innemen van een bastion. De belegerden hadden intussen al 500 doden en 700 gewonden binnen de gelederen.


Toen ze zagen dat er een bestorming ophanden was wilden ze onderhandelen over een overgave. Op 27 juli kregen zij de voorwaarde om met medeneming hun wapens en twee kanonnen onder begeleiding van het Staatse leger naar Venlo mochten gaan. Ook de geestelijken moesten vertrekken. De ontruiming vond plaats op 29 juli. De prins had een maand de tijd nodig de toegebrachte schade aan Gennep te herstellen. De inname ging gepaard met vreugdevuur aan de grensplaatsen, en klokgelui.


Kaart van het beleg van Gennep

Het beleg door Jacob van Geelkercken

First battle of Guararapes (1648)


The First Battle of Guararapes was a battle in a conflict called the Pernambucana Insurrection, between Dutch and Portuguese forces in Pernambuco, in a dispute for the dominion of that part of the Portuguese colony of Brazil. On April 18, 1648, around forty five hundred Dutch soldiers and five artillery pieces marched south, coming from Recife. On their way south, they eliminated a small defensive outpost on the village of Barreta. The few survivors regrouped at the village of Arraial Novo do Bom Jesus, headquarters of the Pernambucana resistance, where they reported the incident. Commanders of the resistance called for a march of 2,000 combatants towards the Guararapes ("Drums" in native language) Hills against an enemy better equipped and in superior numbers.


Dutch Forces: Sigismund van Schoppe, the Dutch commander, experienced in Brazilian campaigns where he used to fight since he was a Captain, intended to proceed to the South, targeting initially the village of Muribeca - a key point to reach Santo Agostinho Cape. His plan was to isolate the resistance troops from reserves and supplies that might have come from the South, and then have them destroyed by his superior force.


Portuguese Forces: Francisco Barreto de Meneses, the Portuguese commander (Mestre-de-Campo-General) had recently arrived to that region and decided to follow his subordinate's suggestions: they would go to their enemy instead, and force the Dutch troops into a decisive encounter. This was a bold move, considering they were in half the numbers of their adversaries, and had no artillery. At this point, information sent from the fallen Barreta outpost had come to them, and they knew exactly the size and equipment available to the Dutch forces.


At the beginning of the fight, Von Schoppe may have realized that he would have to fight a much stronger force than the one he had defeated in Barreta. Also, the opportunity to choose the proper place to meet a superior force was crucial for the Portuguese victory. The terrain was damp, mostly swamp, and did not allow for the classical in-line formation of European armies. Forced into a narrow front, the Dutch's advantages had been almost nullified. The Portuguese forces were divided in five terços commanded by Barreto de Menezes, Fernandes Vieira, Filipe Camarão and Henrique Dias. André Vidal de Negreiros was the commander of the fifth terço kept in reserve. Barreto de Menezes concentrated his efforts on the space between the East face and the main swamp. In the center, Fernandes Vieira's terço had the mission to penetrate as deep possible into the enemy's formation. On the right flank, Filipe Camarão would use the long experience of the natives in fighting in the swamped terrain. Henrique Dias would use the "terço dos negros" (black's terço) to keep the Dutch from advancing and then avoiding the spear head advance from being flanked. Limited by the lack of space for maneuver, Von Schoppe concentrated most of his forces on the space between the east face and the main swamp. Three of his battalions were face-to-face against the terços of Vieira and Camarão, while two other battaltions of his would try to flank the advancing forces and would be contained by the terço of Dias. Two Dutch battalions would not be allowed to maneuver and would stay back, out of action. The closed space also did not allow the use of firearms to its full potential and maximized the use of native weapons and the short sword. Diogo Lopes Santiago, a possible eye witness of that event, gives his gruesome account of that encounter: "(...) and as they ran away, our soldiers would follow them with their swords with cuts and slashes, cutting legs, arms, heads, some killing, others wounding badly, laying on the field bodies without arms, trunks without heads (...) holding their sword in the middle of those squadrons, piles of enemies, giving spokes to some and to others death, showing the sword, tinted in blood".

Second battle of Guararapes (1649)


The Second Battle of Guararapes was the second and decisive battle in a conflict called Pernambucana Insurrection, between Dutch and Portuguese forces in 1649 at Jaboatão dos Guararapes in the state of Pernambuco, ending the Dutch occupation of the Portuguese colony of Brazil.


Though the Dutch West India Company fielded a larger, better equipped force, they suffered morale problems as most of their army was made up of mercenaries from Europe (primarily Germany) who felt no real passion for the war in Brazil, as opposed to the Natives and Portuguese settlers who considered Brazil to be their home and were fighting for a patriotic cause. The Dutch force was also unused to fighting in the dense jungle and humid conditions of the country, wearing thick, brightly coloured European clothing and heavy metal armour which inhibited their dexterity. Contemporary accounts describe Dutch troops at the battle as "pale and sickly". The Dutch army at Guararapes were armed with pikes, cannon and an assortment of bladed weapons. It is thought by historians that the use of short blades by the Dutch was an attempt to imitate previously successful Portuguese weaponry and tactics.


The Portuguese force was made up of an assortment of natives, blacks and whites who knew, and had experience fighting in, the difficult Brazilian terrain. They would weaken Dutch troops with fusillades of musketfire from behind trees, and then charge with mêlée weapons.


The Dutch had expected the enemy to march down the well established coastal roads, and thus formed a lines of defence covering these roads. However, the Portuguese force used a series of minor trails to reach Pernambuco, appearing out of the wetlands to the west and Guararapes Hills (from which the battle derived its name) and flanking the Dutch. After several hours of fighting, the Dutch retreated northwards to Recife, leaving their artillery behind. Following the Dutch retreat, the Portuguese army marched into Pernambuco.


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