Siege of Zutphen (1591)

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Siege of Zutphen (1591)
Part of the Eighty Years' War & the Anglo–Spanish War
Capture of Zutphen by Maurice of Orange in 1591 - Verovering van Zutphen door Prins Maurits in 1591 (Johannes Janssonius, 1663).jpg
The Capture of Zutphen in 1591 - print by Jan Janssonius
Date19 to 30 May 1591
Location
Zutphen, Guelders
(present-day the Netherlands)
Result Anglo-Dutch victory [1] [2]
Belligerents
Statenvlag.svg  Dutch Republic
Flag of England.svg England
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg  Spain
Commanders and leaders
Statenvlag.svg Maurice of Orange
Flag of England.svg Francis Vere
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Jarich Georges Van Liauckema [3]
Strength
9000 soldiers
1,600 cavalry
1,000 (Spanish and Walloons) [4]
Casualties and losses
Light Most captured

The Siege of Zutphen was an eleven-day siege of the city of Zutphen by Dutch and English troops led by Maurice of Nassau, during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo–Spanish War. The siege began on 19 May 1591 after a clever ruse by the besiegers. The city was then besieged for eleven days, after which the Spanish garrison surrendered. [1] [5]

Eighty Years War 16th and 17th-century Dutch revolt against the Habsburgs

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.

Contents

Background

Zutphen was a Hanseatic city on the east bank of the River IJssel. In 1572, with the resurgence of the Dutch rebellion against Philip II of Spain, Zutphen was first conquered by State troops led by Willem IV van den Bergh. The city was later recaptured by the Spaniards led by Don Frederick, and the population was punished and then slaughtered for the surrender earlier that year. [6]

Hanseatic League Trade confederation in Northern Europe

The Hanseatic League was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe. Growing from a few North German towns in the late 1100s, the league came to dominate Baltic maritime trade for three centuries along the coasts of Northern Europe. Hansa territories stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages, and diminished slowly after 1450.

IJssel branch of the Rhine

The river IJssel, sometimes called Gelderse IJssel to avoid confusion with the Hollandse IJssel, is the branch of the Rhine in the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel. The Romans knew the river as Isala. The IJssel flows from Westervoort, east of the city of Arnhem, until it discharges into the IJsselmeer. The River IJssel is one of the three major distributary branches into which the Rhine divides shortly after crossing the German-Dutch border.

Philip II of Spain King of Spain and King of England by marriage to Mary I

Philip II of Spain was King of Spain (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.

In 1586, the English under the Earl of Leicester took Zutphen's important outlying sconce, but soon English turncoat Rowland York handed the sconce over to the Spaniards, leaving Zutphen in their complete control. [6] York died there of smallpox a year later, although he may have been poisoned by the Spanish to keep him from betraying again. [7] As a consequence, William Stanley handed over the nearby town of Deventer to the Spaniards. [8]

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester English nobleman and the favourite and close friend of Queen Elizabeth I

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, was an English statesman and the favourite of Elizabeth I from her accession until his death. He was a suitor for the Queen's hand for many years.

Sconce (fortification) type of fortification

A sconce is a small protective fortification, such as an earthwork, often placed on a mound as a defensive work for artillery. It was used primarily in Northern Europe from the late Middle Ages until the 19th century. This type of fortification was common during the English Civil War, and the remains of one such structure can be seen on Fort Royal Hill in Worcester, England. During the Eighty Years' War for Dutch independence, the sconces were often used to defend strategic places, but were used also during sieges and in circumvallations. Several more or less intact sconces remain in the Netherlands. The Zaanse Schans, one of the top tourist locations in the Netherlands, derived its name from its original function as a sconce. Sconces played a major part in the Serbian Revolution, countering the numerical superiority of the Turkish army.

A turncoat is a person who shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party. In political and social history, this is distinct from being a traitor, as the switch mostly takes place under the following circumstances:

In 1590, Maurice had taken Breda by hiding soldiers within a peat barge and was thus able to use Breda as a base for further operations. The Dutch army could then launch an offensive at three points: to the South, to the East and to the North. Maurice headed towards Nijmegen to the East along the River IJssel. [5]

Capture of Breda (1590) short battle during the Eighty Years War and the Anglo–Spanish War during which a Dutch and English army led by Maurice of Nassau captured the heavily protected city of Breda

The Capture of Breda or the Siege of Breda was a short battle during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo–Spanish War during which a Dutch and English army led by Maurice of Nassau captured the heavily protected city of Breda. Using a clever tactic reminiscent of the Trojan horse a small assault force hid in a peat barge, entered the city of Breda, and proceeded to take it over resulting in a minimum number of casualties. It was the turning point of the war as the forces under Maurice were able to take the offensive.

Nijmegen City and municipality in Gelderland, Netherlands

Nijmegen, historically anglicized as Nimeguen, is a city in the Dutch province of Gelderland, on the Waal river close to the German border.

By the beginning of 1591, Maurice's first goal was to take back Zutphen. With the parallel waterways, he could then move the troops and artillery as quickly as possible and also keep the Spanish from reinforcing the besieged towns. [2] The garrison of Zutphen itself consisted of nearly 1,000 Spaniards and Walloons, and on the west bank of the river lay the important sconce. [4]

Walloons French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia

Walloons are a Romance ethnic group native to Belgium, principally its southern region of Wallonia, who speak French and Walloon. Walloons are a distinctive ethnic community within Belgium. Important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people.

Siege

Maurice's army consisted of 9000 soldiers and 1600 horsemen which marched to Zutphen, along with 100 ships. [9] The rapid march in five days meant that Maurice could then prepare his artillery, which was stored on the ships; a far easier method of transportation than trying to haul them overland over boggy ground. [10]

In order to take Zutphen, the sconce on the west bank had to be taken, as it controlled the main bridge to the town. Once this had been taken, the town could be besieged proper once all the heavy guns from the barges had disembarked. [4]

Maurice hoped to use another ruse similar to the one he had used at Breda with the peat barge. Francis Vere, in charge of the English troops, wanted the 'dirt' removed from the 1587 treachery and thus wanted to lead the assault. [11] Vere got his wish and Maurice ordered him to take the sconce on the Veluwe opposite Zutphen by sending no more than a dozen men and disguise them as farmers, some even dressed as women. [4] It was hoped that the Spanish would think they were refugees escaping the Dutch army and would let them in. Once the sconce was captured Zutphen would have no hope of holding out. [12]

Vere led the English troops to Doesburg and set the plan in motion. The disguised soldiers ran towards the fort, "pursued" by a fake cavalry charge. The garrison opened the gates and let the disguised soldiers in; the English then went as far as selling the guards butter, cheese and eggs. [13] When the order was given the English cut down the guard quickly enough to allow the Dutch cavalry to rush in, followed by the rest of the troops as they had been hidden by a large mound nearby. [11] Soon the Anglo–Dutch force overpowered the Spanish and turned the guns on Zutphen. [4]

After this successful strategy, having secured the bridge and further reinforced by Count William Louis' Frisian companies, Maurice began the actual assault. The Dutch gunners then brought thirty artillery pieces up to three points, in case the garrison tried to retake the town, and then opened fire. [4] The Spanish garrison soon saw that any further resistance was now futile and surrendered to the besiegers. [11] [12]

Aftermath

Maurice of Nassau Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt - Maurits van Nassau, prins van Oranje en Stadhouder.jpg
Maurice of Nassau

The town which had so eluded the Dutch was now firmly in their hands, while the Spanish had lost an important town. [5] The terms of surrender were light: the garrison was allowed to retreat, the citizens were allowed three days to either depart or swear allegiance to the Dutch Republic. [4] After setting up a strong garrison in Zutphen, Maurice marched north with his army, his artillery and munitions being sent down the IJssel in barges. [4] His next target would be Deventer. [1]

Vere was nicknamed 'the fox' after his successful ruse employed during the siege; he dug up the body of Rowland York and hanged and gibbeted it as a reminder of York's treachery. [12] Zutphen would remain in Dutch hands for the rest of the war.

See also

Related Research Articles

Battle of Zutphen

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Watson, Robert (1839). The History of the Reign of Philip the Second, King of Spain. Lyon Public Library: Tegg. pp. 473–74.
  2. 1 2 MacCaffrey pg 259
  3. Cañete, p.125
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Motley pg 104-06
  5. 1 2 3 van Nimwegen pg. 155
  6. 1 2 Motley, p. 60
  7. Bertie, Five Generations of a Loyal House, p. 120; but cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–90, p. 466, where he is said to have died of the smallpox.
  8. Randall, pp. 790–791
  9. J Buisman, A.F.V. van Engelen (1998): Duizend jaar weer, wind en water in de Lage Landen. Deel 4: 1575-1675 Franeker: Van Wijnen ISBN   9051941439 (Dutch)
  10. J. Hoffenaar, Joep van Hoof, Jaap de Moor (2002): Vuur in beweging: 325 jaar veldartillerie, 1677-2002 Uitgeverij Boom. ISBN   9053527354 (Dutch)
  11. 1 2 3 Tupper, Arthur (1837). Historical Records of the British Army (Infantry), Issue 3. Great Britain. Adjutant-General's Office: University of Michigan. pp. 48–49.
  12. 1 2 3 Robinson pg. 97
  13. Davies, C.M. (1842). History of Holland, from the Beginning of the Tenth to the End of the Eighteenth Century, Volume 2. Parker.

Bibliography