|Army of Flanders|
Ejército de Flandes
The Army of Flanders' deployment for the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600).
|Allegiance||King of Spain as hereditary prince of the Low Countries|
|Role||Security, control, and defense of the Spanish Netherlands|
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.
The Army of Flanders formed the longest standing army in the early modern period, operating from 1567 until 1706.It was established following a wave of iconoclasm in the troubled provinces of the Netherlands in 1565 and 1566. 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.
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.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. 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.The Spanish troops were unruly, but formed an essential professional basis for the new army. 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.
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.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.
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.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.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. 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. By the early 17th century, the similarities between the Habsburg army of Hungary and the Army of Flanders made competition for recruits particularly intense. 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. Although volunteers were the norm, in extremis other methods could be used; Spain raised a tercio of Catalan criminals to fight in Flanders, a trend Philip II continued for most Catalan criminals for the rest of his reign. Pay remained fixed throughout most of the period, three escudos per day up until 1634, then four escudos thereafter.
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,more so than in equivalent armies in Europe. 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, 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.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.
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;in 1639, for example, just under half of the Army, then 77,000 strong, was distributed across 208 small garrisons. This pattern reflected the Dutch disposition as well. 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, whilst the siege of Oostend in 1601-4 cost the Army of Flanders 80,000 in casualties. 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.
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.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). In practice this adjusted ratio was only applied to newly formed units. 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, the local Walloons being felt to be particularly weak and requiring the arquebus. 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. The Army of Flanders was rarely strong in terms of cavalry, however; in 1572 Alba had discharged all his heavy cavalry, and until the 1630s the Army's cavalry was mainly light cavalry, used to patrol the platteland. Horses themselves were often in short supply – after the relief of Rouen in 1592, for example, two thirds of the Spanish cavalry lacked mounts.
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.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.
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.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).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.
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.By 1574, the enlarged army was costing 1,200,000 florins a month. 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. 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, 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.
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'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,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'. 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. 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.
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,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.
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.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.
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.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.
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.Traditionally, historians have traced the decline and collapse of Spanish military power in Europe from the battle of Rocroi; 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. 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.
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.Despite its decline in numbers and quality, the army remained "an opponent to be treated with respect" at least until the 1650s, 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. 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.
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 reenergize 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.By the 1650s, the officer-to-man ratio in the Army had reached the unsustainable levels of one to four. 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). 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. The infrastructure and support services were considerably improved, but not as much as elsewhere, and the Army was increasingly perceived as a 'broken force' in European affairs. 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. 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.
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 Arias de Bobadillawas 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.
The Battle of Rocroi of 19 May 1643 resulted in the victory of a French army under the Duc d'Enghien against the Spanish Army under General Francisco de Melo only five days after the accession of Louis XIV of France to the throne of France, late in the Thirty Years' War. The battle is considered by many to be the turning point of the perceived invincibility of the Spanish Tercio that dominated European battlefields in the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century. After Rocroi, the Spanish abandoned the tercio system and began to use linear Dutch-style battalions like the French.
The Battle of Turnhout also known as the Battle of Tielenheide was a military engagement which took place on 24 January 1597 in the border area between the Northern and Southern Netherlands at Turnhout during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604).
The Eighty Years' War or Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648) was a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces of what are today the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg against Philip II of Spain, the sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands. After the initial stages, Philip II deployed his armies and regained control over most of the rebelling provinces. Under the leadership of the exiled William the Silent, the northern provinces continued their resistance. They eventually were able to oust the Habsburg armies, and in 1581 they established the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The war continued in other areas, although the heartland of the republic was no longer threatened. This included the origins of the Dutch colonial empire, which began with Dutch attacks on Portugal's overseas territories, which at the time was conceived as carrying overseas the war with Spain due to Portugal being in a dynastic union with Spain. The Dutch Republic was recognized by Spain and the major European powers in 1609 at the start of the Twelve Years' Truce. Hostilities broke out again around 1619, as part of the broader Thirty Years' War. An end was reached in 1648 with the Peace of Münster, when the Dutch Republic was definitively recognised as an independent country no longer part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Peace of Münster is sometimes considered the beginning of the Dutch Golden Age.
A tercio or tercio español was a powerful Spanish infantry division during the time of Habsburg Spain known for its victories on European battlefields in the early modern period.
The "Spanish Road" was a military supply/trade route used from 1567–1633, which stretched from Northern Italy to the Low Countries. It crossed through relatively neutral territory, and was therefore Europe's most preferred military route. In the days of its use it was known in French as "le chemin des Espagnols".
The Battle of Gembloux took place at Gembloux, near Namur, Low Countries, between the Spanish forces led by Don John of Austria, Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, and a rebel army composed of Dutch, Flemish, English, Scottish, German, French and Walloon soldiers under Antoine de Goignies, during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). On 31 January 1578 the Spanish cavalry commanded by John's nephew, Don Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, after pushing back the Netherlandish cavalry, attacked the Netherlandish army, causing an enormous panic amongst the rebel troops. The result was a crushing victory for the Spanish forces. The battle hastened the disintegration of the unity of the rebel provinces, and meant the end of the Union of Brussels.
The Battle of Dahlen was fought on April 23, 1568, between a Dutch rebel army led by Jean de Montigny, Lord of Villers, and a Spanish army commanded by Sancho Dávila y Daza. As a part of William of Orange's planned invasion, the Dutch rebels were trying to conquer the town of Roermond when the arrival of the Spanish force compelled them to withdraw. Dávila pursued the retreating force and inflicted a defeat upon Villers near the small town of Dahlen. The survivors of this encounter sought refuge under the walls of Dahlen, where the Spanish infantry finally defeated them. This battle is sometimes considered the official start of the Eighty Years' War.
Cristóbal de Mondragón y Mercado (1514–1596) was a Spanish general during the Eighty Years' War.
Juan Del Águila y Arellano was a Spanish general. He commanded the Spanish expeditionary Tercio troops in Sicily then in Brittany, before serving as general of the Spanish armies in the invasion of Ireland (1600–1602). As a soldier, and subsequently Field Master of the Tercios, he was posted to Sicily, Africa, Malta, Corsica, Milan, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, France and Ireland, where he participated in major military events of his time, such as the Siege of Malta, the Looting of Antwerp, the Siege of Antwerp, the Miracle of Empel, the Expedition in support of French Catholics, the Battle of Cornwall and the Expedition to support the Irish.
The Siege of Leuven 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.
The Siege of Saint-Omer was a siege in the Thirty Years' War in which a French army under Gaspard III de Coligny, Maréchal de Châtillon, laid siege to the Flemish city of Saint-Omer, defended by a small garrison in command of Lancelot II Schetz, count of Grobbendonck. Despite several initial successes in the capture of the minor forts around Saint-Omer, on the night of 8/9 June a Spanish relief army under Thomas Francis, Prince of Carignano surprised Châtillon's troops and established a small fort in the middle of the French lines. An entire army corps under Maréchal de La Force was ordered to move towards Saint-Omer to support Châtillon siege, but on July 12 a further Imperial-Spanish force commanded by Ottavio Piccolomini entered Saint-Omer, resolving the French marshals to withdraw.
The Siege of Calais of 1596, also known as the Spanish conquest of Calais, took place at the strategic port-city of Calais, 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. 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.
The Battle of the Lippe was a cavalry action fought on 2 September 1595 on the banks of the Lippe river, in Germany, between a corps of Spanish cavalry led by Juan de Córdoba and a corps of Dutch cavalry, supported by English troops, led by Philip of Nassau. The Dutch statholder Maurice of Nassau, taking advantage of the fact that the bulk of the Spanish army was busied in operations in France, besieged the town of Groenlo in Gelderland, but the elderly governor of the citadel of Antwerp, Cristóbal de Mondragón, organized a relief army and forced Maurice to lift the siege. Mondragón next moved to Wesel, positioning his troops on the southern bank of the Lippe river to cover Rheinberg from a Dutch attack. Maurice aimed then, relying on his superior army, to entice Mondragón into a pitched battle, planning to use an ambush to draw the Spanish army into a trap. However, the plan was discovered by the Spanish commander, who organized a counter-ambush.
The Siege of Mons of 1572 took place at Mons, capital of the County of Hainaut, Spanish Netherlands, between 23 June and 19 September 1572, as part of the Eighty Years' War, the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604), and the French Wars of Religion. In the spring of 1572, after the capture of Valenciennes by a Protestant force under Louis of Nassau, the Dutch commander continued with his offensive and took Mons by surprise on 24 May. After three months of siege, and the defeats of the armies of Jean de Hangest, seigneur d'Yvoy and Genlis, and William the Silent, Prince of Orange (Dutch: Willem van Oranje), by the Spanish army led by Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, and his son, Don Fadrique de Toledo, Louis of Nassau's forces, isolated and without any hope of help, surrendered Mons to the Duke of Alba on 19 September.
The Siege of Grave, also known as the Capture of Grave of 1586, took place from mid-February – 7 June 1586 at Grave, Duchy of Brabant, Low Countries, between the Spanish army led by Governor-General Don Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, and the Dutch-States and English forces under Baron Peter van Hemart, Governor of Grave, during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604).
The Battle of Borgerhout was a battle during the Eighty Years' War, of the Spanish Army of Flanders led by Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, upon a fortified camp at the village of Borgerhout, near Antwerp, where several thousand French, English, Scottish and Walloon soldiers in service of the recently created Union of Utrecht were stationed. It took place during the reconquest by the armies of Philip II of Spain of the Burgundian Netherlands, whose different provinces had united in 1576 under the Pacification of Ghent to drive out the foreign troops out and to grant religious liberty to Protestants.
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, 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 Mutiny of Hoogstraten 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.
The Siege of Lier of 1582, also known as the Capture of Lier or Betrayal of Lier, took place between 1 and 2 August 1582 at Lier, near Antwerp, during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). On 2 August the Spanish army commanded by Governor-General Don Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma, supported by part of the States garrison, captured and seized the town, defeating the rest of the Dutch, English and German troops under Governor of Lier. All garrison was killed or captured. The news of the Spanish success at Lier produced a great shock to the States-General at Antwerp, where the sense of insecurity was obvious, and many of the Protestant citizens sold their houses, fleeing to the north of Flanders.
The Siege of Hulst of 1596 was a Spanish victory led by Archduke Albert that took place between mid-July and August 18, 1596, at the city of Hulst, Province of Zeeland, Low Countries, during the Eighty Years' War, the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). After a short siege, during which Maurice of Orange launched a failed attempt to relieve the city – the garrison of Dutch and English troops fell into Spanish hands on August 18, 1596.