Louis of Nassau

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Louis of Nassau Lodewijk van Nassau.jpg
Louis of Nassau

Louis of Nassau (Dutch: Lodewijk van Nassau, January 10, 1538 April 14, 1574) was the third son of William, Count of Nassau and Juliana of Stolberg, and the younger brother of Prince William of Orange Nassau.

William I, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg German nobleman; ruling count of Nassau-Dillenburg, Siegen, Vianden and Dietz

William I, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg was a count of Nassau-Dillenburg from the House of Nassau. His nickname the Rich refers to him having many children. However, he owned a number of counties: Nassau-Dillenburg, Nassau-Siegen, Nassau-Dietz and Vianden.

Juliana of Stolberg German countess

Juliana, Countess of Stolberg-Wernigerode was the mother of William the Silent, the leader of the successful Dutch Revolt against the Spanish in the 16th century.

William the Silent founder of the Dutch Republic, stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, leader of the Dutch Revolt

William I, Prince of Orange, also known as William the Silent or William the Taciturn, or more commonly known as William of Orange, was the main leader of the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs that set off the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1581. He was born in the House of Nassau as Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau and the ancestor of the monarchy of the Netherlands. Within the Netherlands he is also known as Father of the Fatherland.


Louis was a key figure in the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain and a strongly convinced Calvinist, unlike his brother William, whom he helped in various ways, including by arranging the marriage between him and his second wife Anna of Saxony. In 1569 William appointed him governor of the principality of Orange, giving him an indisputable position in French politics.

Dutch Revolt war in the 16th century

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.

Anna of Saxony Dutch princess

Anna of Saxony was the heiress of Maurice, Elector of Saxony, and Agnes, eldest daughter of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. Maurice's only son, Albert, died in infancy. Anna was the second wife of William the Silent.

The Compromise

Louis (left) with his brothers John (sitting), Adolf, and Henry Counts of Nassau.jpg
Louis (left) with his brothers John (sitting), Adolf, and Henry

In 1566 he was one of the leaders of the league of lesser nobles who signed the "Compromis des Nobles". [1] The Compromise was an open letter, in the form of a petition, to King Philip II of Spain stating that he should withdraw the Inquisition in the Netherlands. On April 5, 1566, with the following of two hundred horsemen, the Compromise was presented to the regent Margaret of Austria. During this audience one of her councilors, count Charles of Berlaymont, tried to calm her nerves with the words "Quoi, Madame. Peur de ces gueux?" [2] "What Madame, afraid of these beggars?". It was from this moment on that the opponents of King Philip's policy proudly took the name Beggars (Les Gueux, Geuzen) as their own.

Compromise of Nobles

The Compromiseof Nobles was a covenant of members of the lesser nobility in the Habsburg Netherlands who came together to submit a petition to the Regent Margaret of Parma on 5 April 1566, with the objective of obtaining a moderation of the placards against heresy in the Netherlands. This petition played a crucial role in the events leading up to the Dutch Revolt and the Eighty Years' War.

Philip II of Spain 16th-century King of Spain who became King of England by marriage

Philip II 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.

Margaret of Parma Italian noble

Margaret of Parma was Governor of the Netherlands from 1559 to 1567 and from 1578 to 1582. She was the illegitimate daughter of the then 22-year-old Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Johanna Maria van der Gheynst. She was a Duchess of Florence and a Duchess of Parma and Piacenza by marriage.

Battle of Heiligerlee

Portrait of Louis of Nassau by Adriaen Thomasz Key, from 1570 to 1574 After Antonio Moro - Louis, Count of Nassau - Google Art Project.jpg
Portrait of Louis of Nassau by Adriaen Thomasz Key, from 1570 to 1574
Portrait of Louis of Nassau in Emanuel van Meteren: Historie der Neder-landscher ende haerder na-buren oorlogen ende geschiedenissen.., 1614 Emanuel van Meteren Historie ppn 051504510 Lodewijk van Nassau MG 8696.tif
Portrait of Louis of Nassau in Emanuel van Meteren: Historie der Neder-landscher ende haerder na-buren oorlogen ende geschiedenissen.., 1614

With the coming of Alva, Louis and his brother William withdrew from the Netherlands. From outside they gathered an army and in 1568, with the help of French Huguenots, they were able to invade from three sides. Louis and his younger brother Adolf would enter the northern Netherlands through Friesland, Jean de Villers entered the southern provinces between the Rhine and the Meuse and the Huguenots would invade Artois.

Huguenots Ethnoreligious group composed of Calvinists from France

Huguenots are an ethnoreligious group of French Protestants.

Friesland Province of the Netherlands

Friesland, also historically known as Frisia, is a province of the Netherlands located in the northern part of the country. It is situated west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe and Overijssel, north of Flevoland, northeast of North Holland, and south of the Wadden Sea. In 2015, the province had a population of 646,092 and a total area of 5,100 km2 (2,000 sq mi).

Artois former province of France

Artois is a region of northern France. Its territory covers an area of about 4,000 km² and a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras, Saint-Omer, Lens, and Béthune.

The Army under Louis’s command would eventually be the only one to gain a victory. Jean de Villers and his troops were captured two days after they crossed the Meuse, while the Huguenots were attacked and defeated by French royal troops at St. Valery. Jean de Villers eventually betrayed the entire campaign and the sources of the war-treasury to his interrogators.

Louis entered Friesland on April 24, to which Alva responded by sending an army under the command of Jean de Ligne, Duke of Aremberg. The Spaniards had an inferior force, and Aremburg wanted to wait for reinforcements from the Count of Meghem, but he was late in coming and Aremberg's men were mutinous and pressured him to offer battle. The two armies met at Heiligerlee on May 23, where Louis ambushed the Spanish troops. Louis won the army the Battle of Heiligerlee but his younger brother Adolphus fell in the battle. [3]

Charles de Brimeu, was the last count of Meghem, lord of Humbercourt, of Houdain and Éperlecques. He was grandson of Guy of Brimeu, who was beheaded in Ghent. He became the last ceremonial Hereditary Marshal of Brabant of his family: he sold this ceremonial office to Gaspard II Schetz.

Battle of Heiligerlee (1568) battle

Not to be confused with the earlier Battle of Heiligerlee (1536)

Battle of Jemmingen

Although William wanted Louis to retreat to Delfzijl, Louis remained in Groningen, where he met the much smaller [4] army led by Alva himself (2,000 Spaniards against 12,000 Protestants). Louis fell back towards Jemmingen where, on July 21, 1568, the battle raged for three hours until Alva's army drove them over the bridges of the Ems and eventually into the Ems itself. Many drowned trying to cross the river; Louis stripped himself of his heavy armor and was able to swim across to safety. In the end the Dutch rebellion lost 7,000 men at the battle of Jemmingen.

Delfzijl City and municipality in Groningen, Netherlands

Delfzijl is a city and municipality with a population of 25,651 in the province of Groningen in the northeast of the Netherlands. Delfzijl was a sluice between the Delf and the Ems, which became fortified settlement in the 16th century. The fortifications were removed in the late 19th century. Delfzijl is the fifth largest seaport in the Netherlands, and the largest port in the North East of the country.

Ems (river) river in northwestern Europe in Germany and the Netherlands

The Ems is a river in northwestern Germany. It runs through the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, and discharges into the Dollart Bay which is part of the Wadden Sea. Its total length is 362.4 kilometres (225.2 mi). The state border between the Lower Saxon area of East Friesland (Germany) and the province of Groningen (Netherlands), whose exact course was the subject of a border dispute between Germany and the Netherlands, runs through the Ems estuary.

Battle of Jemmingen battle during the Eighty Years War

After the Battle of Heiligerlee, the Dutch rebel leader Louis of Nassau failed to capture the city Groningen. Louis was driven away by Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba and defeated at the Battle of Jemmingen on 21 July 1568.


After Jemmingen Louis rejoined his brother William and went back to France where they joined up with Huguenot leader Admiral Coligny. He fought in the battles at Jarnac and Moncontour and was able to improve their French connections as governor of the principality of Orange. In 1572 Watergeuzen had captured the city of Brielle and claimed it for William. Soon most cities in Holland and Zeeland were in the hands of the rebels and William once again became stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland.

Louis quickly raised a small force in France, and entered Hainaut on May 23, capturing Mons. Suddenly Alva found himself held between two enemies with his own army rebellious and unpaid. William tried to relieve his brother at Mons but after an attempt on his life from which he barely managed to escape, he was unable to come to Louis’s aid. Alva was now able to bring the surrender of Mons on good terms and on September 19 Louis and his army left Mons with the honors of war. Diverting Alva’s attention to Mons had made it possible for the North to strengthen itself and although he may have regained Mons he had lost Holland, which was now strong enough to resist.

Battle of Mookerheyde

In 1574 funds were running low and the Spanish were closing in on Middelburg and Leiden. Hoping for a diversion in the south, William wrote to Louis asking for help. That spring, Louis, along with his youngest Nassau brother Henry and the Elector Palatine’s son Christopher of Bavaria, crossed the Meuse with their army. They hoped to be a decent diversion but found themselves outmaneuvered by the Spanish troops under an experienced leader, Sancho d'Avila. Leading the charge on the Spanish Louis was shot in the arm. He carried on, pretending he was fine, but was losing blood so fast that his friends took him away from the battle. He was brought to a nearby hut, where he ordered his friends to save themselves. Louis was never seen again, neither alive nor dead. His brother Henry and Christopher of Bavaria were also lost in the Battle of Mookerheyde. [5]

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1568 Year

Year 1568 (MDLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar.

Battle of Seneffe between a French army under the command of Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and the Dutch-German-Spanish army under the Dutch Stadtholder William III of Orange

The Battle of Seneffe took place on 11 August 1674, during the 1672–1678 Franco-Dutch War near Seneffe in present-day Belgium. It was fought by a French army commanded by Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and a combined Dutch-Imperial-Spanish force led by William of Orange. While a clear French victory, both sides suffered heavy losses and it had little impact on the outcome of the war in the Low Countries.

Geuzen rebels against the Duke of Alva

Geuzen was a name assumed by the confederacy of Calvinist Dutch nobles, who from 1566 opposed Spanish rule in the Netherlands. The most successful group of them operated at sea, and so were called Watergeuzen. In the Eighty Years' War, the Capture of Brielle by the Watergeuzen in 1572 provided the first foothold on land for the rebels, who would conquer the northern Netherlands and establish an independent Dutch Republic. They can be considered either as privateers or pirates, depending on the circumstances or motivations.

Battle of Mookerheyde battle

In the Battle of Mookerheyde, Spanish forces defeated Dutch forces composed of German mercenaries on 14 April 1574 during the Eighty Years' War near the village Mook and the river Meuse not far from Nijmegen in Gelderland. Two leaders of the Dutch forces, brothers of William the Silent, were killed: Louis of Nassau and Henry of Nassau-Dillenburg.

Heiligerlee Village in Groningen, Netherlands

Heiligerlee is a village in the Dutch province of Groningen bordering the town of Winschoten, it is part of the municipality of Oldambt. It was the site of the 1536 Battle and the 1568 Battle of Heiligerlee

Jean de Ligne, Duke of Arenberg was Baron of Barbançon, founder of the House of Arenberg and stadtholder of the Dutch provinces of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel from 1549 until his death.

Battle of Jodoigne battle

The Battle of Jodoigne was fought on 20 October 1568 between Spanish and Dutch Rebel forces.

Battle of Oosterweel battle

The Battle of Oosterweel took place on 13 March 1567 near the village of Oosterweel, north of Antwerp, and is traditionally seen as the beginning of the Eighty Years' War. A Spanish infantry division under General Beauvoir defeated an army of radical Calvinists rebels under Jan de Marnix. The prisoners were considered rebels and executed. William the Silent, the Burggraaf of Antwerp, did not allow the Protestants of the city to participate in the battle because he was, as lord of the city, bound by oath to support the Spanish Hapsburg King.

Battle of Dahlen battle

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.

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.

The causes of the Dutch Revolt and the ensuing Eighty Years War, considered to have started in June 1568, were a number of incidents and frictions had accumulated between the Dutch provinces and their Habsburg overlord.

Adolf of Nassau (1540–1568) Count of Nassau

Adolf of Nassau was a count of Nassau, also known as Adolphus of Nassau. He was the fourth son and sixth child of William I, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg and Juliana of Stolberg. He was the second youngest brother of William the Silent.

Battle of the Lippe

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.

Siege of Mons (1572) siege

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 Battle of Le Quesnoy was fought between a mostly German army supporting the Dutch rebels and the Spanish Habsburg army.


  1. Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Louis of Nassau". Encyclopædia Britannica . 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 50.
  2. Wedgwood, C.V., “William the Silent, William of Nassau, Prince of Orange 1533-1584”, ISBN I 842124013. p. 80
  3. Motley, John Lothrop (1855). The Rise of the Dutch Republic.
  4. http://www.abc.es/historia-militar/20140323/abci-gemmingen-tercios-masacre-ejercito-201403212024.html
  5. Dupuy, Trevor N., Curt Johnson and David Bongard, Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography , (Castle Books, 1995), 539.