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".
Northern Italy is a geographical and cultural region in the northern part of Italy. Non-administrative, it consists of eight administrative Regions in northern Italy: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. As of 2014, its population was 27,801,460. Rhaeto-Romance and Gallo-Italic languages are spoken in the region, as opposed to the Italo-Dalmatian languages spoken in the rest of Italy.
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.
Soldiers were able to march the 1,000 km (620 mi) from Milan to Flanders an average of 23 km (14 mi) a day. Sea transport was much faster, able to cover about 200 kilometres (120 mi) a day, but was highly exposed to storms and enemy attacks. For large groups, overland communication was more reliable, allowing the Spanish to send over 123,000 men compared to only 17,600 by sea, between 1567 and 1633.
Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,395,274 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,250,315. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.
Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics and history, and sometimes involving neighbouring countries. The demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is Brussels, although the Brussels Capital Region has an independent regional government, and the government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders life in Brussels such as (Flemish) culture and education.
The conflict between Philip II of Spain and the Dutch rebels in the Spanish-ruled Habsburg Netherlands, culminating in the Eighty Years' War, symbolised the prominent European power struggle of the 16th century between Catholics and Protestants.In 1550, the wars had stretched Spain's finances thin. 1566 was known as the "Year of Hunger" or "Year of Wonders". When social, political and religious unrest culminated in the Compromise of Nobles and the Beeldenstorm , apparently endangering the government of Philip's Regent in Brussels, Margaret of Parma, Spanish troops under the Duke of Alba were dispatched to restore order and punish the perceived insurrectionists. Those troops could at the time not be transported by sea and Philip was therefore forced to find a route to move troops from his garrisons in Spanish Italy overland to his Netherlands domains, crossing neutral territory. The Spanish Road was surveyed and mapped out in 1566, and Alba used it in July 1567.
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.
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.
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 Brussels his imperial capital.
To get to the Netherlands, the armies and travellers of the 16th century had to overcome many obstacles including extremely high mountain passes, large rivers, deep forests, and roadways filled with criminals. Therefore, it was necessary to find a route that would go around these barriers, for safer and easier travel, and the Spanish Road proved to be the answer. Parts of the road were already in use but it was Philip II, who in 1565, brought it together when he decided to link his territories through a route that travelled through them and neutral territory. Merchants came regularly to use parts of the road between France and Italy to trade goods with neighbouring countries. The main territories it linked were Franche-Comté, Luxembourg, and the territories of allies, Lorraine and Savoy.
Franche-Comté is a cultural and historical region of eastern France. It is composed of the modern departments of Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône and the Territoire de Belfort. In 2016, its population was 1,180,397.
Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the four official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation's three official languages: French, German, and the national language, Luxembourgish. The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.
Savoy is a cultural-historical region between Western and Central Europe. It comprises roughly the territory of the Western Alps between Lake Geneva in the north and Dauphiné in the south.
The layout of the Spanish Road was a large improvement over the previous system of moving troops through neutral territory. Maps used for Spanish expeditions had only the information that pertained directly to the military, excluding any other details. However, this forced the armies to use guides and scouts when they crossed unfamiliar terrain, since their extremely generalised maps could not guide them. Travellers on the road covered an average of 19 km (12 mi) a day, although in 1577 Spanish veterans left the Netherlands and marched 24 km (15 mi) a day because of the heat and in 1578, they made the trip at the rate of 37 km (23 mi) a day during the cold month of February.
For military purposes, the Spanish Road was first used by the Duke of Alba in 1567, and the last army passed through it in 1620. It was not only utilised by troops, but also traders, and both were in need of food and shelter to complete their journeys. Shelter was rarely given to those who travelled on the road, especially soldiers. Officers would sometimes be able to stay in a nearby town, but their armies had to sleep under bushes or flimsy huts that they would make themselves. Residents of towns along the "road" were rightfully fearful of the armies that passed through because they would often find themselves victims of a robbery if they offered up their generosity. In 1580, the officers of the passing Spanish tercios occupied a house in Franche-Comté that had no furniture and temporary crockery that was guarded, because the providers were scared their possessions would be vandalised, burned or stolen.
Duke of Alba de Tormes, commonly known as Duke of Alba, is a title of Spanish nobility that is accompanied by the dignity of Grandee of Spain. In 1472, the title of Count of Alba de Tormes, inherited by García Álvarez de Toledo, was elevated to the title of Duke of Alba de Tormes by King Henry IV of Castile.
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 Free County of Burgundy was a medieval county of the Holy Roman Empire, within the modern region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, whose very name is still reminiscent of the title of its count: Freigraf. It should not be confused with the more westerly Duchy of Burgundy, a fiefdom of Francia since 843.
The Spanish Road was only used once or twice per year by the military, and the rest of the time by merchants. Because of this, military magazines were seen as unimportant by some countries.The military did, however, use a system of providing staples called etapés. This system was going to be put into place after the successful proposal of Don Cristóbal de Benavente to the Council of War in Madrid. Unfortunately, the Spanish King was not impressed, so Madrid did not support them. However, some "governors" did think the etapés were a good idea, so they set them up along the Spanish Road, using commissioners sent by the governor of the Spanish Netherlands or by the governor of the Milan to work out pricing details, so that the providers were always paid for their services. The first type of etapés was permanent and found only in Savoy. It consisted of a place where soldiers and other travellers had access to food and shelter when they passed through. The second type was in Franche-Comté, Lorraine and the Low Countries, and was created only when arranged for in advance by a private contractor, who would work out the payments, shipments and quantities of food based on the type and schedule of each individual military excursion. This system made the use of the Spanish Road more practical.
Along with the Spanish Road's military function it also became an important commercial route. The road also helped the Spanish establish permanent diplomatic contacts along its route, such as permanent embassies in Savoy and the Swiss Cantons that were supervised from Lombardy.When the French Wars of Religion broke out, the Spanish and others used the route to provide personnel and materiel support to French Catholics in their fight against the Protestant claimant to the French throne, Henry of Navarre.
One unintended effect of the route was the circulation of the plague by soldiers and commercial travellers to areas along its length.
The Treaty of Lyon (January 17, 1601) forced the Spanish Road to be reduced to a narrow valley and a bridge over the Rhône. This loss of territory made Spanish passage on the road dependent on the approval of France, which refused passage to Ambrosio Spinola (1601–1602) claiming that Spinola's troops were part of the conspiracy of Charles de Gontaut, Duc de Biron. In 1609, Savoy expelled Spanish garrisons, followed by an alliance with France against Spain in 1610 and a dynastic war over possession of Montferrat (1613–1617), settled by the Peace of Asti. Savoy allowed a Spanish-Italian army to pass through the Spanish Road in 1620 but its anti-Spanish Treaty in 1622 ended Spanish travel on the Spanish Road forever.
|Recorded expeditions between 1567 & 1593|
The French and Indian Wars is a name used in the United States for a series of conflicts that occurred in America between 1688 and 1763, some of which indirectly were related to the European dynastic wars. The title French and Indian War in the singular is used in the United States specifically for the warfare of 1754–63. The French and Indian Wars were preceded by the Beaver Wars.
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.
The Nine Years' War (1688–97), often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, was a conflict between Louis XIV of France and a European coalition of the Holy Roman Empire, the Dutch Republic, Spain, England and Savoy. It was fought in Europe and the surrounding seas, North America and in India. It is sometimes considered the first global war. The conflict encompassed the Williamite war in Ireland and Jacobite risings in Scotland, where William III and James II struggled for control of England and Ireland, and a campaign in colonial North America between French and English settlers and their respective Indigenous allies, today called King William's War by Americans.
The War of Devolution (1667–68) saw the French armies of Louis XIV overrun the Habsburg-controlled Spanish Netherlands and the Franche-Comté, only to be pressured to give most of it back by a Triple Alliance of England, Sweden and the Dutch Republic, in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) was the second war on revolutionary France by the European monarchies, led by Britain, Austria and Russia, and including the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, various German monarchies and Sweden. Their goal was to contain the expansion of the French Republic and to restore the monarchy in France. They failed to overthrow the revolutionary regime and French territorial gains since 1793 were confirmed. In the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, France held all of its previous gains and obtained new lands in Tuscany, Italy, while Austria was granted Venetia and the Dalmatian coast. Britain and France signed the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802, bringing an interval of peace in Europe that lasted for 14 months. By May 1803 Britain and France were again at war and in 1805 Britain assembled the Third Coalition to resume the war against France.
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.
Habsburg Spain refers to Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries (1516–1700), when it was ruled by kings from the House of Habsburg. The Habsburg rulers reached the zenith of their influence and power. They controlled territory that included the Americas, the East Indies, the Low Countries and territories now in France and Germany in Europe, the Portuguese Empire from 1580 to 1640, and various other territories such as small enclaves like Ceuta and Oran in North Africa. This period of Spanish history has also been referred to as the "Age of Expansion".
The Burgundian Wars (1474–1477) were a conflict between the Dukes of Burgundy and the Old Swiss Confederacy and its allies. Open war broke out in 1474, and in the following years the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, was defeated three times on the battlefield and killed in the Battle of Nancy in 1477. The Duchy of Burgundy and several other Burgundian lands then became part of France, while the Burgundian Netherlands and the Franche-Comté were inherited by Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy, and eventually passed to the House of Habsburg upon her death because of her marriage to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.
Raon-l'Étape is a commune in the Vosges Department in Grand Est in northeastern France.
Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand was Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Cardinal of the Holy Catholic Church, Infante of Spain, Infante of Portugal, Archduke of Austria, Archbishop of Toledo (1619–41), and military commander during the Thirty Years' War.
The County of Artois was a historic province of the Kingdom of France, held by the Dukes of Burgundy from 1384 until 1477/82, and a state of the Holy Roman Empire from 1493 until 1659.
The Italian War of 1551–1559, sometimes known as the Habsburg–Valois War and the Last Italian War, began when Henry II of France, who had succeeded Francis I to the throne, declared war against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V with the intent of recapturing Italy and ensuring French, rather than Habsburg, domination of European affairs. The conflict was the last of a series of wars between the same parties since 1521. The alliance organized by Henri II of France with Lutherans princes and the Ottomans forced Charles V to abdicate in 1556 and divide the Habsburg dominions between Ferdinand of Austria and Philip II of Spain. Three years later, the Peace of Cateau-Cambresis was signed. Historians have emphasized the importance of gunpowder technology, new styles of fortification to resist cannon fire, and the increased professionalization of the soldiers.
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 term France–Habsburg rivalry describes the rivalry between the House of Habsburg and the Kingdom of France. The Habsburgs were the largest and most powerful royal house of the Holy Roman Empire from the Early Modern Period until the Napoleonic Wars, and survived with large possessions in the Austro-Hungarian region until the First World War. In addition to holding significant amounts of land and influence within the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg dynasty ruled Spain (1516–1556) and the Holy Roman Empire (1519–1556) under Charles V. As the House of Habsburg expanded into western Europe, border friction began with the Kingdom of France, the lands of which extended to the west bank of the Rhine. The subsequent rivalry became a cause for several major wars, including the Italian Wars 1494–1559; the Thirty Years' War 1618–1648; the Nine Years' War 1688–1697; the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession, and the Napoleonic Wars.
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 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.
The Crossing of the Somme took place on 5 August 1636 during the Thirty Years' War and the Franco-Spanish War when units of the Spanish Army of Flanders, the Imperial Army and the Duchy of Lorraine under Thomas Francis, Prince of Carignano, lieutenant of the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, crossed the Somme river near Bray-sur-Somme during its offensive in French territory. Despite the fierce resistance of the French army led by Louis de Bourbon, Count of Soissons, the allied troops successfully crossed the river and drove off the French troops along the Oise river, proceeding over the following weeks to invest the important fortress of Corbie, located two leagues upriver of Amiens, which caused a spread of panic among the population of Paris.
The Franco-Savoyard War of 1600-1601 was an armed conflict between the Kingdom of France, led by Henry IV, and the Duchy of Savoy, led by Charles Emmanuel I. The war was fought to determine the fate of the former Marquisate of Saluzzo, and ended with the Treaty of Lyon which was favorable to France.