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|Siege of Antwerp|
|Part of the Eighty Years' War|
Dutch Finis Bellis , a fortified ship meant to break the Spanish blockade.
|Commanders and leaders|
| 80,000 men|
|Casualties and losses|
The Fall of Antwerp on 17 August 1585 took place during the Eighty Years' War, after a siege lasting over a year from July 1584 until August 1585. The city of Antwerp was the capital of the new Protestant-dominated Dutch Revolt, but was forced to surrender to the Spanish forces. Under the terms agreed all Protestants were given four years to settle their affairs and leave the city. Many migrated north, especially to Amsterdam, which became the capital of the Dutch Republic. Apart from losing a high proportion of its mercantile population, Antwerp's trade suffered for two centuries as Dutch forts blockaded the River Scheldt up to 1795.
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 beginnings of the Dutch Colonial Empire, which at the time were conceived as carrying overseas the war 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.
Antwerp is a city in Belgium, and is the capital of Antwerp province in Flanders. With a population of 520,504, it is the most populous city proper in Belgium, and with 1,200,000 the second largest metropolitan region after Brussels.
The Dutch Revolt (1568–1648) was the revolt of the northern, largely Protestant Seven Provinces of the Low Countries against the rule of the Roman Catholic Habsburg King Philip II of Spain, hereditary ruler of the provinces. The northern provinces (Netherlands) eventually separated from the southern provinces, which continued under Habsburg Spain until 1714.
At the time Antwerp, in modern Belgium, was not only the largest Dutch city, but was also the cultural, economic and financial centre of the Seventeen Provinces and of north-western Europe. On 4 November 1576, unpaid Spanish soldiery mutinied: they plundered and burnt the city during what was called the Spanish Fury. Thousands of citizens were massacred and hundreds of houses were burnt down. As a result, Antwerp became even more engaged in the rebellion against the rule of Habsburg Spain. The city joined the Union of Utrecht (1579) and became the capital of the Dutch Revolt, which no longer was merely a Protestant rebellion but had become a revolt of all Dutch provinces.
Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.
Habsburg Netherlands, also referred to as Flanders during the early modern period, is the collective name of Holy Roman Empire fiefs in the Low Countries held by the House of Habsburg. The rule began in 1482, when after the death of the Valois-Burgundy duke Charles the Bold the Burgundian Netherlands fell to the Habsburg dynasty by the marriage of Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy to Archduke Maximilian I of Austria. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was born in the Habsburg Netherlands and made the Low Countries the core of his "empire on which the sun never sets".
The Seventeen Provinces were the Imperial states of the Habsburg Netherlands in the 16th century. They roughly covered the Low Countries, i.e. what is now the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and most of the French departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais (Artois). Also within this area were semi-independent fiefdoms, mainly ecclesiastical ones, such as Liège, Cambrai and Stavelot-Malmedy.
Relieved from the great battles with the Ottomans in the Mediterranean, Philip II of Spain turned his attention back to the uprising in the Low Countries and in 1579 sent Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma to head his army in Flanders to regain control over Flanders, Brabant and the United Provinces. When the siege of Antwerp began (1584) most of the County of Flanders and the Duchy of Brabant, including Brussels, had been recaptured in the preceding year. The army of Flanders had been reinforced in the previous years, both in quantity and quality, and in 1585 it had 61,000 men under arms.
Philip II of Spain was King of Castile and Aragon (1556–98), King of Portugal, King of Naples and Sicily, and jure uxoris King of England and Ireland. He was also Duke of Milan. From 1555 he was lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.
The Low Countries, the Low Lands, or historically also the Netherlands, is a coastal lowland region in northwestern Europe, forming the lower basin of the Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt rivers, divided in the Middle Ages into numerous semi-independent principalities that consolidated in the countries of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, as well as today's French Flanders.
The County of Flanders was a historic territory in the Low Countries.
During the recapture of Flanders and Brabant, Parma improved the logistics of the Spanish army in Flanders by further investing in what is dubbed the "Spanish Route." It was a main road leading north from Habsburg holdings in Northern Italy into the Low Countries, protected by forts built at strategic intervals, to provide the army with a reliable flow of supplies. When the siege of Antwerp began Parma's army was well supplied. The first stage of the siege saw encirclement lines constructed around Antwerp and forts built along the Scheldt estuary.
The "Spanish Road" was a military supply/trade route used from 1567–1620, 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 Scheldt is a 350-kilometre (220 mi) long river in northern France, western Belgium, and the southwestern part of the Netherlands. Its name is derived from an adjective corresponding to Old English sceald ("shallow"), Modern English shoal, Low German schol, West Frisian skol, and Swedish (obsolete) skäll ("thin").
The second stage consisted of commencing a long siege of Antwerp and constructing a bridge across the Scheldt, effectively closing off the city's waterways. The bridge, a unique feat of siege engineering at its time, consisted of a strong fort (reinforced with cannons) on each side of the Scheldt with a bridge of connected pontoons (paintings show sizable rowing boats) running between them. (This bridge is believed to have been 730m long.)
In response to the closure of the Scheldt by this bridge, the Dutch flooded the lowlands adjacent to the Scheldt, effectively submerging most roads in scattered areas and leaving Spanish forts either flooded or isolated on small islands. Despite the Dutch using these floodplains to try to regain control over the Scheldt (using low draft oar and sail boats with small cannon emplacements on them), the Spanish position largely held firm, as many of the Spanish forts had been equipped with cannon and high quality troops. Several attempts were made by the Dutch to steer "fire ships" into the Spanish pontoon bridge, but the troops stationed in the adjacent forts managed to push them off course with pikes – though with heavy loss of life when the fire ships exploded. 800 Spaniards are said to have been killed, Caspar de Robles being one of the casualties.
Hellburners were specialised fireships used in the Siege of Antwerp (1584-1585) during the Eighty Years' War between the Dutch rebels and the Habsburgs. They were floating bombs, also called "Antwerp Fire", and did immense damage to the Spanish besiegers. Hellburners have been described as an early form of weapons of mass destruction.
Caspar de Robles or Gaspard di Robles, also known as Billy in Artois, was Stadholder of Friesland and Groningen at the beginning of the Eighty Years' War.
At one time, the rebels sent the Finis Bellis ("End of War"), a huge floating platform into which they put great hope, against the bridge, but the mission failed. In the end the Dutch abandoned their efforts, considering Antwerp a lost cause.
On 17 August 1585, Antwerp surrendered. After the siege, the Dutch fleet on the river Scheldt was kept in position, blocking the city's access to the sea and cutting it off from international trade. Parma stationed experienced Castilian troops within Antwerp to make sure the city would not fall into enemy hands. The moderateness of Parma's demands and the behaviour of his troops were a complete surprise given the bloodiness of the siege and the rampage of 1576. Parma issued strict orders not to sack the city. The Spanish troops behaved impeccably, and Antwerp's Protestant population was given four years to settle their affairs before leaving.
Some returned to Roman Catholicism but many moved north and ended what had been a golden century for the city. Of the pre-siege population of 100,000 people, only 40,000 remained. Many of Antwerp's skilled tradesmen were included in the Protestant migration to the north, laying the commercial foundation for the subsequent "Dutch Golden Age" of the northern United Provinces. Although the city returned to prosperity, the Dutch blockade of commercial shipping in the Scheldt remained in place and prevented the city recovering its former glory. The blockade was maintained for the next two centuries and was an important and traumatic element in the history of relations between the Netherlands and what was to become Belgium.
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain.
Alexander Farnese was an Italian noble and condottiero who was Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Castro from 1586 to 1592, as well as Governor of the Spanish Netherlands from 1578 to 1592. He is best known for his successful campaign 1578-1592 against the Dutch Revolt, in which he captured the main cities in the south and returned them to the control of Catholic Spain. During the French Wars of Religion he relieved Paris for the Catholics. His talents as a field commander, strategist and organizer earned him the regard of his contemporaries and military historians as the first captain of his age.
There were two Unions of Brussels, both formed in the end of the 1570s, in the opening stages of the Eighty Years' War, the war of secession from Spanish control, which lasted from 1568 to 1648. Brussels was at that time the capital of the Spanish Netherlands.
The Burgundian Circle was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire created in 1512 and significantly enlarged in 1548. In addition to the Free County of Burgundy, the Burgundian Circle roughly covered the Low Countries, i.e., the areas now known as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg and adjacent parts in the French administrative region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
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.
Claude de Berlaymont, lord of Haultpenne was a Flemish military commander in Spain's Army of Flanders during the Eighty 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. 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 Siege of Eindhoven, also known as the Capture of Eindhoven of 1583, took place between 7 February and 23 April 1583 at Eindhoven, Duchy of Brabant, Spanish Netherlands during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). On 7 February 1583 a Spanish force sent by Don Alexander Farnese, Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, commanded by Karl von Mansfeld and Claude de Berlaymont laid siege to Eindhoven, an important and strategic city of Brabant held by Dutch, Scottish and French soldiers under the States' commander Hendrik van Bonnivet. After three months of siege, and the failed attempts by the States-General to assist Bonnivet's forces, the defenders surrendered to the Spaniards on 23 April.
In the period 1482–1492, the cities of the County of Flanders revolted twice against Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who ruled the county as regent for his son, Philip the Handsome. The revolts were rooted in the cities' desire to maintain the autonomy that they had wrested from Philip's mother and predecessor, Mary of Burgundy, which Maximilian threatened to curtail. Both revolts were ultimately unsuccessful.
In Dutch and English historiography the Dutch struggle for independence from the Spanish Crown in the 16th and 17th century was long known as the Eighty Years' War. More recently, the initial part of this period has become known as the Dutch Revolt. This concept covers the period between the initial insurrection of Netherlandish Calvinists against the regime of the Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands, Margaret of Parma, in 1566, and the conclusion of the so-called Twelve Years' Truce in 1609 between the Spanish Crown and the Dutch Republic. The historiography of this period covers both political and diplomatic developments, and events in Military history. But the period of the Truce, and the military events that followed after the Truce had ended and the war was resumed, until the conclusion of the Peace of Münster in 1648, still form one continuous whole with the Dutch Revolt,, and this continuous narrative, spanning the period 1566 - 1648, is still known as the Eighty Years' War. This narrative was once covered in one article, but has been split into three separate articles, of which this covers the military history aspects of the Dutch Revolt period.
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 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, during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604).
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 Malcontents in the context of the Eighty Years' War or the Dutch Revolt were a faction of Catholic nobles in Hainaut and Artois who openly opposed William the Silent, also known as Orange, the leader of the States General of the Netherlands in the Union of Brussels of the Habsburg Netherlands during the period after the adoption of the Pacification of Ghent. They formed the Union of Arras in January 1579 and negotiated a separate peace with the Spanish Crown, represented by the royal governor-general Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, in the form of the Treaty of Arras (1579), signed on 17 May 1579.
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