Recapture of Bahia

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Recapture of Bahia
Part of the Eighty Years' War and the
Dutch-Portuguese War
La recuperacion de Bahia, Maino.jpg
The Recovery of Bahía de Todos los Santos, by Fray Juan Bautista Maíno, Museo del Prado.
DateApril 1 – May 1, 1625 [1]
Salvador da Bahia (present-day Brazil)
Result Spanish-Portuguese victory

Estandarte Real de Felipe II.svg Iberian Union

Statenvlag.svg  United Provinces
English and French volunteers [2] [3]
Commanders and leaders
Estandarte Real de Felipe II.svg Fadrique de Toledo Statenvlag.svg Willem Schoutens
Statenvlag.svg Hans Kyff
12,000 men
52 ships [2] [4] [5]
3,000 to 5,000 men [3]
18 ships [6] [7]
Casualties and losses
At least 71 killed and 64 wounded [6] [7] Unknown killed or wounded
1,912 captured
12 ships sunk
6 ships captured
260 guns captured [7] [8]

The recapture of Bahia (Spanish : Jornada del Brasil; Portuguese : Jornada dos Vassalos) was a Spanish-Portuguese military expedition in 1625 to retake the city of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil from the forces of the Dutch West India Company (WIC).

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has over 450 million native speakers in Spain and in the Americas. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a European country located in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of Spanish territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.


In May 1624, Dutch WIC forces under Jacob Willekens captured Salvador Bahia from the Portuguese. Philip IV, king of Spain and Portugal, ordered the assembly of a Spanish-Portuguese fleet with the objective of recovering the city. Sailing from the port of Lisbon, under the command of Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo y Mendoza, who was appointed Captain General of the Army of Brazil, the fleet crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and arrived at Salvador on April 1 of 1625. [9] The town was besieged for several weeks, after which it was recaptured. This resulted in the expulsion of the Dutch from the city and the nearby areas. The city was a strategically important Portuguese base in the struggle against the Dutch for the control of Brazil.

Jacob Willekens Dutch admiral

Jacob Willekens or Wilckens (1564–1649) was a Dutch admiral on a fleet to the Dutch Indies, and a herring seller, who went to sea again at the age of fifty for the Dutch West Indies Company. His most well-known success was undoubtedly the conquest of São Salvador da Bahia, the then capital of Brazil. His fleet, which included Dutch corsair Piet Hein as vice admiral, departed from Texel on December 22, 1623 with between 26-36 ships and 3,300 sailors towards South America. At the beginning of June 1624, they began their attack from sea and soon captured the Portuguese stronghold with little resistance. They occupied Bahia for over a year before the local population took up arms under acting governor Matias de Albuquerque and Archbishop Dom Marcos Teixeira who eventually expelled them with the help of a combined Spanish-Portuguese fleet numbering 52 warships and 12,000 soldiers in May 1625. This was the first major WIC privateering expedition to the region.

Philip IV of Spain King of Spain and Portugal

Philip IV was King of Spain and Portugal. He ascended the thrones in 1621 and reigned in Spain until his death and in Portugal until 1640. Philip is remembered for his patronage of the arts, including such artists as Diego Velázquez, and his rule over Spain during the Thirty Years' War.

Iberian Union Spanish-Portuguese union between 1580-1640

The Iberian Union was the dynastic union of the Kingdom of Portugal and the Spanish Crown between 1580 and 1640, bringing the entire Iberian Peninsula, as well as Spanish and Portuguese overseas possessions, under the Spanish Habsburg kings Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV. The union began as a result of the Portuguese crisis of succession and the ensuing War of the Portuguese Succession and lasted 60 years, until the Portuguese Restoration War in which the House of Braganza was established as Portugal's new ruling dynasty.


On December 22, 1623, a Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral Jacob Willekens and Vice Admiral Pieter Heyn consisting of 35 ships, [10] of which 13 were owned by the United Provinces, while the rest belonged to the WIC, sailed from Texel carrying 6,500 men en route to Cape Verde, [11] where they arrived after being scattered by a storm. There Willekens was revealed that his objective was the capture of the city of Salvador da Bahia, on the coast of Brazil, in order to use its port as a commercial base to ensure the Dutch trade with the East Indies. [12] In addition they would control much of the sugar production in the region, as Salvador was a major center of its production in the area. [13] These intentions to invade Brazil were soon reported to the court of Madrid by the Spanish spies in the Netherlands, but Count-Duke of Olivares did not give them credit. [14]

Piet Pieterszoon Hein Dutch admiral

Pieter Pietersen Heyn (Hein) was a Dutch admiral and privateer for the Dutch Republic during the Eighty Years' War between the United Provinces and Spain. Hein was the first and the last to capture a large part of a Spanish "silver fleet" from America.

Texel Municipality and island in North Holland, Netherlands

Texel is a municipality and an island with a population of 13,643 in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands. It is the largest and most populated island of the West Frisian Islands in the Wadden Sea. The island is situated north of Den Helder, northeast of Noorderhaaks, also known as "Razende Bol" and southwest of Vlieland.

Cape Verde Country comprising ten islands off the Northwest coast of Africa

Cape Verde or Cabo Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. It forms part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. In ancient times these islands were referred to as "the Islands of the Blessed" or the "Fortunate Isles". Located 570 kilometres (350 mi) west of the Cape Verde Peninsula off the coast of Northwest Africa, the islands cover a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi).


Dutch capture

A Dutch Squadron attacking a Portuguese Fortress in the Far East or Brazil. Oil on panel by Adam Willaerts. Dutch Squadron attacking Spanish fortress.jpg
A Dutch Squadron attacking a Portuguese Fortress in the Far East or Brazil. Oil on panel by Adam Willaerts.

On May 8 the Dutch fleet appeared off Salvador. The Portuguese governor of Salvador, Diogo de Mendonça Furtado, tried to organized the defense of the town with 3,000 men hastily recruited, [15] mostly Portuguese militia of peasant levees and black slaves, all of them resentful to Spanish rule. [12] The port was protected by sea by two forts: Fort Santo António from the east and Fort São Filipe from the west. Additionally a six-gun battery was erected on the beach and the streets were barricaded.

The Dutch fleet entered the bay divided into two squadrons. One sailed towards the beach of Santo António and disembarked the soldiers commanded by Colonel Johan van Dorth. The other anchored off the town and opened fire over the coastal defenses, which were quickly neutralized. At dawn the city was surrounded by more than 1,000 Dutch soldiers with 2 pieces of artillery. [12] Intimidated, the Portuguese militia threw their weapons and fled, leaving Mendonça with 60 loyal soldiers. [12] Salvador had been captured at a cost of 50 casualties among the attackers. [12]

Johan van Dorth or Jan van Dorth, schout of Lochem, Lord of Horst and Pesch, was a nobleman and general of the Dutch Republic.

Coastal defence and fortification military operations and doctrine regarding protection of coastlines against military attack

Coastal defenceand coastal fortification are measures taken to provide protection against military attack at or near a coastline, for example, fortifications and coastal artillery. Because an invading enemy normally requires a port or harbour to sustain operations, such defences are usually concentrated around such facilities, or places where such facilities could be constructed. Coastal artillery fortifications generally followed the development of land fortifications, usually incorporating land defences; sometimes separate land defence forts were built to protect coastal forts. Through the middle 19th century, coastal forts could be bastion forts, star forts, polygonal forts, or sea forts, the first three types often with detached gun batteries called "water batteries". Coastal defence weapons throughout history were heavy naval guns or weapons based on them, often supplemented by lighter weapons. In the late 19th century separate batteries of coastal artillery replaced forts in some countries; in some areas these became widely separated geographically through the mid-20th century as weapon ranges increased. The amount of landward defence provided began to vary by country from the late 19th century; by 1900 new US forts almost totally neglected these defences. Booms were also usually part of a protected harbor's defences. In the middle 19th century underwater minefields and later controlled mines were often used, or stored in peacetime to be available in wartime. With the rise of the submarine threat at the beginning of the 20th century, anti-submarine nets were used extensively, usually added to boom defences, with major warships often being equipped with them through early World War I. In World War I railway artillery emerged and soon became part of coastal artillery in some countries; with railway artillery in coast defence some type of revolving mount had to be provided to allow tracking of fast-moving targets.

Willekens and Heyn installed a garrison under the command of Dorth before departing on new missions, according to the orders they had received. Four ships were sent to Holland carrying booty and news back, [12] and also instructions to call for reinforcements to secure Salvador. [16] The defenses of the city were reinforced and expanded with moats and ramparts and the garrison was soon increased to up 2,500 men with numerous Portuguese slaves seduced by promises of freedom and land. [12]

Holland Region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands

Holland is a region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used informally to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. This usage is commonly accepted in other countries, and sometimes employed by the Dutch themselves. However, some in the Netherlands, particularly those from regions outside Holland, may find it undesirable or misrepresentative to use the term for the whole country.

Moat dry or watery ditch surrounding a fortification or town

A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that is dug and surrounds a castle, fortification, building or town, historically to provide it with a preliminary line of defence. In some places moats evolved into more extensive water defences, including natural or artificial lakes, dams and sluices. In older fortifications, such as hillforts, they are usually referred to simply as ditches, although the function is similar. In later periods, moats or water defences may be largely ornamental. They could also act as a sewer.

Defensive wall Fortification used to protect an area from potential aggressors

A defensive wall is a fortification usually used to protect a city, town or other settlement from potential aggressors. In ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements. Generally, these are referred to as city walls or town walls, although there were also walls, such as the Great Wall of China, Walls of Benin, Hadrian's Wall, Anastasian Wall, the Cyclopean Wall Rajgir and the metaphorical Atlantic Wall, which extended far beyond the borders of a city and were used to enclose regions or mark territorial boundaries. In mountainous terrain, defensive walls such as letzis were used in combination with castles to seal valleys from potential attack. Beyond their defensive utility, many walls also had important symbolic functions – representing the status and independence of the communities they embraced.

However, the Dutch garrison soon began to be harassed by the local guerrilla organized by Bishop Dom Marcos Teixeira, who had escaped inland. He managed to assemble a force of 1,400 Portuguese and 250 Indians auxiliaries, [17] [18] who built fortifications and organized ambushes against the Dutch acting under woodland. In an attempt to drive off the attackers from the outskirts, Dorth himself was killed, and morale sagged. He was replaced by Albert Schoutens, who also perished in another ambush, being replaced by his brother Willem.

Iberian Expedition

Engraving by Benedictus Mealius Lusitanus, in Jornada dos Vassalos da Coroa de Portugal, Lisbon, 1625. Benedictus Mealius Lusitanus Salvador Bahia 1625.jpg
Engraving by Benedictus Mealius Lusitanus, in Jornada dos Vassalos da Coroa de Portugal, Lisbon, 1625.

When news of the loss of Salvador arrived to Spain in August 1624, Philip IV ordered to assemble a joint Spanish-Portuguese fleet under Admiral Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo y Mendoza with the mission to retake the city. On November 22, the Portuguese fleet under Manuel de Menezes, with Francisco de Almeida as second in command, left Lisbon. It was composed by 22 ships and about 4,000 men. [2] The Spanish fleet left the port of Cadiz on January 14 after the delay caused by bad weather. It was composed by 38 ships belonging to the armadas of Castile, Biscay, Gibraltar and Cuatro Villas, [2] among them 21 galleons. It had 8,000 sailors and soldiers on board, being those latter divided in three Tercios, of whom one was Italian and the other two Spanish. Its commanding officers were the maestros de campo Pedro Osorio, Juan de Orellana and Carlos Carraciolo, Marquis of Torrecuso. The commander-in-chief of the joint army was Pedro Rodríguez de Sebastián, seconded by Sargento Mayor Diego Ruiz. [19]

After passing through the Canary Islands on January 28, the Spanish fleet arrived at Cape Verde on February 6, where it joined the Portuguese fleet. This one had lost a ship and 140 men drowned in the shoals of the Isle of Maio. [20] Five days later, after holding a council of war, the joint fleet sailed to Brazil. After waiting for some Portuguese ships delayed by rough seas and 7 caravels under the command of Francisco de Moura sent from Pernambuco, the fleet entered the Bay of Todos os Santos on March 29.


Detail of a map showing the joint Spanish-Portuguese fleet recapturing Salvador, Bahia in 1625, Atlas of Brazil by Joao Teixeira Albernaz I (1631) Planta da Restituicao da BAHIA, por Joao Teixeira Albernaz, capitania de Portugal.jpg
Detail of a map showing the joint Spanish-Portuguese fleet recapturing Salvador, Bahia in 1625, Atlas of Brazil by João Teixeira Albernaz I (1631)

Toledo anchored his fleet forming a huge crescent to prevent the escape of the Dutch ships in the bay. At dawn of the following day 4,000 soldiers landed at Santo António beach with food and supplies for four days. [6] They joined up with the Portuguese guerrilla and occupied the field above Salvador. The Dutch were forced back within their walls, warping their 18 ships beneath the protection of their batteries. Their strength at that time amounted to 2,000 Dutch, English, French and German soldiers and about 800 black auxiliaries. [21]

The quarters of Carmen and San Benito, located both outside the walls, were occupied by the Tercios, and a new one, named Las Palmas, was built. Siege warfare ensued, with the artillery firing over the Dutch fortifications from these positions and the pioneers driving saplines toward the Dutch ramparts. The defenders launched several sporadic attacks to obstruct the siege works. During one of these sallies, maestro de campo Pedro Osorio and 71 Spanish officers and soldiers were killed and another 64 wounded. [7] Nevertheless, the siege continued.

Two days later, the Dutch attempted to break the blockade sending two fire ships against the anchored Spanish-Portuguese fleet, but they didn't cause any damage. [7] Some mutinies emerged among the defenders following this failure, and Willem Schoutens was deposed and replaced by Hans Kyff. He was forced to capitulate few weeks later, when the siege lines finally reached Salvador's moats. 1,912 Dutch, English, French and German soldiers surrendered, and 18 flags, 260 guns, 6 ships, 500 black slaves and considerable amount of gunpowder, money and merchandise were captured. [7]


Several days after the Dutch surrender, a relief fleet of 33 ships under Admiral Boudewijn Hendricksz, seconded by Vice Admiral Andries Veron, bearded down upon the bay divided in two columns. [7] Toledo, who was warned about its arrival, disposed 6 galleons to lure them to a murderous crossfire. However, seeing the large Spanish-Portuguese fleet anchored inside, Hendricksz decided to withdraw to open sea. Spanish warships attempted to pursue him but a galleon ran aground and the chase was abandoned. [7] Hendricksz divided his fleet in three groups. One of them returned to Holland with the supplies and ammunition for the garrison of Salvador; the other two attacked respectively the Spanish Caribbean colonial town of San Juan de Puerto Rico and the Portuguese African trading post of the Castle of Elmina but were both decisively defeated.

Francisco de Moura Rollim, appointed governor of Salvador by Fadrique de Toledo, remained in the town with a garrison of 1,000 Portuguese soldiers. During the journey back to Spain, 3 Spanish ships and 9 Portuguese ships sank in storms. [14] Maestro de Campo Juan de Orellana was among the drowned men. [10] The Dutch prisoners were returned to the Low Countries aboard five German store ships, being the officers judged on their arrival by the loss of the city. [14] The Dutch did not return to Brazil until 1630, when they conquered Pernambuco from the Portuguese.


  1. Boxer, Charles Ralph (1952). Salvador de Sá and the Struggle for Brazil and Angola, 1602-1686. University of London. p. 61.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Duro p.49
  3. 1 2 Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo y Mendoza, Admiral of the Spanish fleet and Captain-General of the Army of Brazil. Letter from Don Fadrique to Philip IV.
  4. Fausto p.41
  5. James p.91
  6. 1 2 3 Duro p.52
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Marley p.110
  8. Duro p.53
  9. Marley, David (2008). Wars of the Americas: A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the Western Hemisphere, 1492 to the Present. ABC-CLIO. p. 167. ISBN   978-1-59884-100-8 . Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  10. 1 2 Duro p.57
  11. Pérez p.233
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Marley p.108
  13. Fernández p.512
  14. 1 2 3 Southey p.148
  15. Duro p.47
  16. Duro p.48
  17. Calvo p.45
  18. Solano p.245
  19. Céspedes p.508
  20. Duro p.50
  21. Avedaño p.2

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Coordinates: 12°58′S38°30′W / 12.967°S 38.500°W / -12.967; -38.500