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Eighty Years' War
Relief of Leiden after the siege, 1575.
Date 1566-1648
Location The Low Countries
(worldwide colonial warfare)
Result Peace of Münster;
Independence of the Dutch Republic
 Dutch Republic
England Kingdom of England
Spain Spanish Empire

The Eighty Years' War, or Dutch War of Independence, (1568–1648)[1] began as a revolt against Philip II of Spain, the overlord of the Habsburg Netherlands. The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia. This revolt partly succeeded with the secession of seven provinces which formed the Dutch Republic. Much later, the "rebel" provinces of Flanders and Brabant became modern-day Belgium (with the exception of North Brabant).

William of Orange, the leader of the revolt, explained his conflict with king Philip II to the Council of State in the following way: "I can not approve that monarchs desire to rule over the conscience of their subjects and take away from them their freedom of belief and religion." (Dutch: Ik kan niet goedkeuren dat vorsten over het geweten van hun onderdanen willen heersen en hun de vrijheid van geloof en godsdienst ontnemen.)


Causes of the war

The direct cause of this war was similar to the slogan No taxation without representation. Under the Hapsburgs, the low countries were formally named unceremoniously De landen van herwaarts over, and in French Les pays de par deça (they still call the Netherlands Les Pays-Bas). Translated, this means "those lands around here" for the Dutch, and "those lands around there" for the French. While they were being taxed beyond what they were willing to pay, these far-away provinces were being continually admonished for seeing to their own business without permission from the throne, which at that time was indeed far away, in Madrid, Spain. Each request for special permission would take at least four weeks for a response.

This unrest over taxation without representation was amplified by a strong presence of Spanish troops brought in to oversee the order in these provinces. A parallel revolt within the Church caused by the spread of Anabaptism and followers of Huldrych Zwingli, Menno Simons, Martin Luther, and John Calvin culminating with the Beeldenstorm in 1566, was seen as a direct threat to the (Roman Catholic) Spanish throne.

The date for the formal start of hostilities is often cited as the execution of the statesmen Lamoral, Count of Egmont and Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn, on the main square in Brussels on June 5, 1568. This execution (for their protest against the Spanish Inquisition) was just the beginning of a wave of destruction (Spaanse furie), seen as a counter-attack to the Beeldenstorm, by Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba across all of the provinces, ending poetically four years later in the total destruction of Lamoral's home in the (far) north, Egmond Castle, along with the neighbouring abbey.

Leader of the Dutch Revolt

After the executions of the Counts of Egmond and Horne, the revolt was left to be led by their former partner (also former governor of these lands), William the Silent. He had been targeted for execution along with his colleagues, but having somewhat more diplomatic intelligence (he had been groomed as governor by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and grown up with his son Philip II, and therefore knew him, his country, and his politics well), he managed to stay a step ahead of his persecutors, and he escaped capture. He was only finally murdered by a spy in 1584.

Diplomatic recognition

The young republic gained some diplomatic recognition when the two belligerents contracted the Twelve Years' Truce in 1609. International diplomatic recognition did not occur however until 1638 with the state visit to Amsterdam by Marie de' Medici, who herself was on the run, though the Dutch council did not know it at the time. When the truce failed to lead to a satisfactory peace treaty in 1619, the conflict resumed in the form of a conventional war between the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Empire which developed parallel with the Thirty Years' War (though it was not formally part of the latter). Beyond the European Theatre, the war was also fought in the Portuguese and Spanish colonies overseas.

New border between North and South

Map of the Netherlands c. 1593 by Cornelis de Jode

The Dutch Republic made some territorial gains in the Spanish Netherlands but did not succeed in regaining the entire territory lost before 1590. The end result of the war therefore was a permanent split of the Habsburg Netherlands into two parts that roughly corresponded with present-day Netherlands and Belgium-Luxembourg. Overseas, the Dutch Republic gained (through the intermediary of its two chartered companies, the United East India Company and the Dutch West India Company) important colonial possessions, largely at the expense of Portugal. The peace settlement was part of the comprehensive 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which formally separated the Dutch Republic from the Holy Roman Empire. In the course of the conflict, and as a consequence of its fiscal-military innovations, the Dutch Republic emerged as a Great Power, whereas the Spanish Empire lost its European hegemonic status.


When Emperor Charles V began the gradual abdication of his several crowns in October 1555, his son Philip took over as overlord of the conglomerate of duchies, counties and other feudal fiefs known as the Habsburg Netherlands.[2] At the time this was a personal union of seventeen provinces with little in common beyond their overlord and a constitutional framework painfully assembled during the preceding reigns of Burgundian and Habsburg rulers. This framework divided power between city governments and local nobility, provincial States and royal stadtholders, and a central government of three collateral councils,[3] assisting (usually) a Regent, and the States-General of the Netherlands. The balance of power was heavily weighted toward the local and regional governments. Like his predecessors, Philip had to ceremonially affirm those constitutional documents (like the Joyous Entry of Brabant) before his accession to the ducal throne. Beyond these constitutional guarantees, the balance of power between local and central government was guaranteed by the dependence of the central government on extraordinary levies (Beden) granted by the States-General when ordinary tax revenues fell short of the financing requirements of the central government (which occurred frequently, due to the many wars Charles waged).[4]

Though he was in the Netherlands[5] in January, 1556, Philip did not assume the reins of government in person, as he had to divide his attentions between England (where he was king-consort of Mary I of England), the Netherlands, and Spain. He therefore appointed a governor-general Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, and subsequently from 1559 on, a Regent (his half-sister Margaret of Parma) to lead the central government on a day-to-day basis. As in the days of Charles V these Regents governed in close cooperation with Netherlandish grandees, like William, Prince of Orange, Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn, and Lamoral, Count of Egmont. But (other than Charles) he also introduced a number of Spanish councillors in the Council of State, foremost Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, a French-born cardinal. These gained a preponderant influence in the Council, much to the chagrin of the Netherlandish old guard.

When Philip left for Spain in 1559 (as it turned out, permanently) the central government therefore already experienced political strains, and those were exacerbated by the question of religious policy. Like his father, Philip was a fervent enemy of the Protestant heresies of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the Anabaptists. Charles had legally defined heresy as "treason against God" (or lèse-majesté divine) an "exceptional crime" that was outside the purview of normal legal procedures as laid down in the Netherlandish legal privileges. He therefore outlawed heresy in special placards that made it a capital offense, to be prosecuted by a Netherlandish version of the Inquisition. Between 1523 and 1566 more than 1,300 people were executed as heretics, far more relative to population, than for instance in France.[6]

These placards, and the policy of repression of heresy in general, were highly unpopular, not just with prospective adherents of the Protestant faiths, but also with the Catholic population and the local governments, who considered it an intrusion on their prerogatives. Towards the end of Charles' reign enforcement had therefore become quite lax. Philip, however, insisted on rigorous enforcement and this caused more and more popular unrest. In the province of Holland, for instance, there were riots in the late 1550s during which the mob freed condemned persons before their execution.[7]

To support and strengthen the attempts at Counter-Reformation, issuing from the Council of Trent, Philip launched a wholesale organizational reform of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands in 1559 (with Papal approval). This amounted to the introduction of fourteen new dioceses instead of the old three. This new hierarchy was to be headed by Granvelle as archbishop of the new archdiocese of Mechelen. The reform was especially unpopular with the old church hierarchy as the new dioceses were to be financed by transferring a number of rich abbeys that were traditionally in the gift of the high aristocracy. The new bishops were to take the lead in the enforcement of the anti-heresy placards and to intensify the Inquisition.[8]

Granvelle's perceived aggrandizement helped focus the opposition against him. The grandees under the leadership of Orange engineered his recall in 1564. Emboldened by this success Orange intensified his attempts to obtain religious toleration. He persuaded Margaret and the Council to ask for a moderation of the placards against heresy. Philip delayed his response, however, and in the meantime the opposition against his religious policies gained more widespread support. When Philip finally rejected the request for moderation in his Letters from the Segovia Woods of October, 1565, this only fanned the flames. A group of members of the lesser nobility, among whom Louis of Nassau, a younger brother of Orange, and the brothers John and Philip of St. Aldegonde, prepared a petition for the abolition of the Inquisition for Philips. This Compromise of Nobles was supported by about 400 nobles, both Catholics and Protestants. It was presented to Margaret on April 5, 1566 at an audience for about 300 members of the Compromise which Margaret found rather intimidating. (According to legend the petitioners were dismissed as gueux (beggars) by one of Margaret's courtiers; the rebels would later use that name as a rallying cry). Margaret was sufficiently impressed to order the suspension of the placards pending Philip's final decision on April 9.[9]

The Dutch Revolt


Insurrection, Repression and Invasion (1567-1572)

The suspension of the placards emboldened the Protestants. Many returned from exile. Calvinists started to organize open-air sermons outside the city walls of many cities. Though these meetings were peaceful, their size alone caused anxiety for the authorities, especially as some of the people attending bore arms. Then, the situation deteriorated rapidly. On August 1, 1566, 2000 armed Calvinists tried to force entry to the walled town of Veurne. Shortly thereafter Calvinist weavers from the industrial area around Ypres attacked churches and destroyed religious statuary. This iconoclastic fury (Dutch: Beeldenstorm) spread like wildfire across the Netherlands. The authorities at first did not react. The central government was especially disturbed by the fact that in many cases the civic militias refused to intervene. This seemed to portend insurrection. Margaret, and also authorities at lower levels, made further concessions to the Calvinists, like designating certain churches for Calvinist worship. However, the provincial governors, foremost Philip of Noircarmes of Hainaut, who suppressed the revolt of the Calvinists led by Guido de Bres in Valenciennes, and Orange as stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland, took decisive action to quell the disturbances. In March of 1567 at the Battle of Oosterweel a motley army of Calvinists under John of St. Aldegonde was defeated by a royalist army and all rebels summarily executed, while Orange prevented the citizens of nearby Antwerp to come to the rebels' aid. In April, 1567 the situation in the country was such, that Margaret could report to Philip that order had been restored.[10]

However, news travelled slowly and the court in Madrid had received a rather exaggerated impression of the severity of the situation. In September, 1566 Philip had decided to travel himself to the Netherlands to restore order, but debate among the two factions at the Spanish court, led by the Duke of Alba and the Prince of Eboli, about the advisability of this journey grew fierce. Eventually it was decided to send an army from Italy under the command of Alba. Margaret's emissary arrived at the court on April 17, 1567, the same day when Alba departed on his mission, too late to prevent the fateful intervention[11]

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Alba's army of about 10,000 Spanish and Italian mercenaries reached the Netherlands by way of the Spanish Road in August, 1567. Alba was supposed to act as military governor-general, while Margaret would remain in office as Regent. Alba acted in such a presumptuous way, however, that Margaret soon resigned in protest. Alba thereafter was in sole command. He commenced by establishing a Council of Troubles on September 5, 1567. This council soon conducted a severe campaign of repression of suspected heretics and people deemed guilty of the already extinguished insurrection. Many high-ranking officials were arrested on various pretexts, among whom the Counts of Egmont and Horne. The victims of the repression were found in all social strata. A total of about 9,000 people were eventually convicted by the council, though only 1,000 were actually executed, as many managed to go into exile. One of the latter was Orange, who forfeited his extensive possessions in the Netherlands, like most of the people being proscribed. The victims were not necessarily only Protestants. For instance, the Counts of Egmont and Horne, executed for treason on June 5, 1568, protested their Catholic orthodoxy on the scaffold.[12]

The many exiles found asylum in the few areas in neighboring countries that welcomed Calvinists, like the Huguenot areas in France, England, and Emden or Wesel in Germany. Many were ready to join an armed fight, but the fate of the rebels at Oosterweel had shown that irregular forces did not stand a chance against well-disciplined troops. A better organized effort was needed and to lead such an effort Orange was uniquely well-placed. As a sovereign prince of the Holy Roman Empire[13] Orange was in a sense the equal of Philip, in his capacity of Count of Holland, for instance. Orange was therefore entirely within his rights to make war on Philip (or, as he for the moment preferred, on Philip's "bad advisor" Alba). This was important in a diplomatic context as it legitimized Orange's efforts to hire mercenaries in the principalities of his German "colleagues," and enabled him to issue letters of marque to the many Calvinist seamen who had embarked on a career of piracy from economic desperation. Such letters elevated the latter, the so-called Sea Beggars, to the status of privateers, which enabled the authorities in neutral countries, like the England of Elizabeth I of England, to accommodate them without legal embarrassment.[14] Orange's temporary abode in Dillenburg therefore became the command center for plans to invade the Netherlands from several directions at once.[15]

Louis of Nassau crossed into Groningen from East Friesland and defeated a small royalist force at Heiligerlee on May 23, 1568. His younger brother Adolf was killed in this battle. Shortly thereafter, a Sea-Beggar squadron defeated a royalist fleet in a naval battle on the Ems. However, a Hugenot army invading Artois was pushed back into France and annihilated by the forces of king Charles IX of France in June. Meanwhile, Alba force-marched north and defeated Louis at Jemmingen. While this happened, Orange himself had assembled an army of 30,000 German mercenaries. He now proceeded to invade Brabant, but soon experienced opposition from the towns and cities on his route, who refused to open their gates to his army. Alba, having returned from the north, blocked his way to Brussels, but refused battle in a Fabian strategy, confident that Orange's money would soon run out. Finances were indeed Orange's Achilles heel, as he had difficulty borrowing sufficient funds for lack of collateral, in view of the forfeiture of his Dutch lands. Within a month (after the Battle of Jodoigne), Orange's army started to melt away.[16]

However, Alba had financial problems of his own. At the time, Philip was in the middle of an expensive war with the Ottoman Empire, and up to the Battle of Lepanto (1571) was so hard pressed that he could not afford the additional cost of the army of occupation in the Netherlands. Besides, Philip did not see why the Netherlands themselves should not pay for the restoration of order. Alba was therefore supposed to find the necessary funds in the country.[17] After he ran out of regular revenue in 1569, Alba convened the States-General to arrange for permanent financing for his army. He proposed a number of new permanent taxes: the tenth penny on all sales, and the twentieth penny on sales of real property. The States-General would agree only to a one-off hundredth penny on the value of real property, however. Even this tax was so unpopular that it proved later almost impossible to collect.[18]

Alba's financial difficulties forced him to keep pressing for permanent taxes, instead of the temporary subsidies the several provincial States granted him to fend off his designs to loosen their financial grip on the state. When the States-General continued to resist his demand for the tenth and twentieth pennies, he resorted to an attempt to unilaterally impose those by decree on July 31, 1571. This "taxation without representation" would prove to be a more important way to unite the country in opposition against the Spanish Crown than the religious question ever was. Alba's high-handed attempts to collect the taxes in the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht, for instance, where local officials were threatened with high fines for refusing to allow collection of the taxes, and also in Flanders and Brabant, put the local magistrates in personal danger of mob violence if they complied with those attempts. Alba's policies in this way opened up a serious breach between the central government and even loyal provincial and local governments.[19]

Ironically, the two taxes were never successfully implemented. But the obduracy of Alba in pursuing their introduction alienated even the ultra-loyalist Catholics, who had no objection against his other repressive measures. By the Summer of 1572, Alba finally relented, but it was too late then to repair the damage. The failure to find a permanent solution for Spain's problems in financing the army of occupation, on the other hand, would in the longer term prove an even greater threat to her grip on the Netherlands.[20]

Rebellion (1572-1576)

Orange's problems with his creditors were intensified when he started to take an active interest in the French Wars of Religion in November, 1568. In that month he led an easily dispersed Huguenot incursion into France. Of course, developments in France were of eminent importance for the Protestant cause in the Netherlands also, and members of both religious blocs mutually supported each other in both countries. Orange and his brothers joined the army of the Prince de Condé in 1569. Orange returned to Germany later in the year, but his brother Louis remained in France. After the Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in August, 1570 he joined the Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny in a hare-brained scheme to promote French unity by invading the Netherlands. Alba took this threat seriously enough to concentrate his force in the south of the Netherlands, in some cases removing troops from garrisons in the North.[21]

Capture of Brill in 1572 by Jan Luyken

One of these denuded garrisons belonged to the port of Brill. The decision proved to be fateful in view of a setback for the Orangist case in England. The Sea Beggars in that country outwore their tenuous welcome there when they continued their attacks on neutral shipping, especially of the Hanseatic League. When the Hanseatic ambassador complained to Elizabeth, she decided to expel the Sea Beggars. This coincided with the withdrawal from the Brill garrison and the Sea-Beggar leaders Willem Bloys van Treslong and Lumey in their desperation for a new base decided to take that city. They rushed the city on April 1, 1572. An attempt by the royal stadtholder of Holland (who had replaced Orange in 1567) Count Boussu, to regain the city, failed. The insurrection now had a (tenuous) territorial foothold on Dutch territory.[22]

Even more important proved developments in the sister province of Zeeland. The news of the capture of Brill moved the civic militia of the port of Flushing to rise against the Walloon garrison on April 6. They asked Treslong to send reinforcements from Brill, which arrived April 20. Flushing was one of the two Marquessates Orange had bought at auction in 1558[23]. The other one was Veere, and this city, together with its naval arsenal, went over to the Rebel cause on May 3.[24]

Orange was quick to respond to this new development. He sent a number of emissaries to Holland and Zeeland with commissions to take over the government on his behalf as "stadtholder." The conceit was that Orange was still the legitimate representative of Philip in the two provinces, as he had been before 1567. The question was whether the local authorities would play along with this conceit.[25] Surprisingly, with some prodding from the Sea Beggars and local civic militias and Orangist activists, many did. Orange's representative in North Holland, Diederik Sonoy in two months' time in a combination of persuasion and armed force, managed to corral the cities of Enkhuizen, Hoorn, Medemblik, Edam, Haarlem, and Alkmaar, all members of the States of Holland. In South Holland the cities of Oudewater, Gouda, Gorinchem, and Dordrecht yielded to Lumey. Leiden went over to the Prince in an internal revolt. Boussu tried to turn the tide by convening the States in The Hague for late July. But the rebel majority of the cities convened their own session of the States in Dordrecht[26]. When Philip Marnix of St.-Aldegonde presented his credentials as Orange's ambassador to this first session of the Rebel States of Holland in Dordrecht on July 18, only the important merchant city of Amsterdam, and Schoonhoven held out as members of the States for the Crown. Rotterdam, temporarily held by Boussu, sent its representatives soon after. Only Delft (the second city in importance) remained neutral for the time being.[27]

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The events in Holland and Zeeland triggered a wave of revolts in other northern provinces. Gelderland was invaded by Count Willem IV van den Bergh, Orange's brother-in-law, who managed to capture the city of Zutphen. Other cities in Gelderland and neighboring Overijssel followed, and Van den Bergh even marched to Friesland, where radicals had seized several cities, despite the efforts of the royal stadtholder, Caspar de Robles to repress this insurrection. He sacked Dokkum in reprisal and many of its citizens were massacred[28]

Meanwhile, Louis of Nassau was still busy in France. He crossed the border into the Netherlands with a small Huguenot army and managed to take the fortress city of Mons by surprise on May 24. At the time Alba was severely short of funds to pay his mercenaries, and he had to take out a personal loan to persuade a few German regiments to put Mons under siege in June. On the other hand, Orange personally assembled an army of 13,500 men at Venlo to come to his brother's aid in early July, despite his own severe financial difficulties. However, the Rebel States of Holland sent him a bond for 500,000 pounds in early August, the first instance of the financial intervention that kept the Rebellion alive during many difficult years. When Orange crossed the Meuse River on his way to relieve his brother in Mons, many cities opened their gates to him, unlike his experience in 1568. While Alba pressed the siege, Orange arrived near Mons on September 12. Learning that his camp was poorly guarded, Alba surprised him with a night attack the next night, which forced Orange to withdraw by way of Mechelen, where he left a garrison. Louis now surrendered Mons honorably (i.e. without his troops being made prisoners of war). In any case, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in France on August 23, 1572 had dealt such a crushing blow to the Huguenot cause that for the moment no aid could be expected from that quarter. Alba now decided to make an example of Mechelen. He allowed his troops to sack Mechelen in a three-day frenzy of murder, rape and pillage, starting September 29. This had the intended effect on other cities that had shown signs of sympathy for the Orangist cause. They hastened to pledge their renewed loyalty. This kind of exemplary punishment of entire cities would soon become a policy of the Spanish army[29]

To understand the nature of Alba's campaign to reconquer the Rebel provinces a short digression on the military terrain in Holland is in order. It is well-known that Holland is one of the few inhabited areas in the world that are "below sealevel." This does not mean that Holland would fill up like a bath tub if the sea gained entry. As a matter of fact, the sea is only a serious threat during severe storms when the tides reach extraordinary heights. In normal times, the real danger comes from above: the low-lying areas have difficulty draining precipitation. In the 16th century, when the technology to efficiently drain those areas was still lacking, Holland was therefore covered with extensive shallow lakes, while the slightly-higher land in between consisted of waterlogged bogs. Difficult terrain for an army to manoeuvre in, in other words. In practice, a marching army had to use the elevated dike roads along water courses to get around in this country, and these narrow venues were easy to choke off by a determined enemy. Both the royalist and the rebel army therefore made extensive use of sconces, often apparently in the middle of nowhere, to deny their opponents freedom of movement.

On the other hand, though an obstacle to a land army, a watercourse may be a transport route for one equipped with (shallow-draft) vessels. Both sides therefore tried to use water craft to circumvent each other, often while at the same time blocking the other side with new water impediments. It is important to understand, that in this war at least the rebel side did not passively accept the terrain, but actively tried to change it dynamically by inundating large areas. This was possible, because of the fact that the area has lots of subdivisions of varying depth (so-called polders), surrounded by dikes that enabled the inhabitants to manage the water table. Breaching a dike would allow water from higher areas to fill up adjoining lower areas, in theory. In practice much depended on the time of year, as water was lacking in Summer, and also the direction of the prevailing wind often frustrated attempts to speedily inundate areas.

Finally it is important to remember that even in the 16th century Holland was already highly urbanized with most of the approximately 500,000 inhabitants living in towns and cities. The cities were generally walled, but the fortifications were in 1572 still of the old-fashioned Medieval variety, with curtain walls that were vulnerable to siege artillery. The architecture of the trace italienne had not yet penetrated Holland as it would soon do. Cities had their civic militias, but these were mainly used to keep order, and were of dubious value in case of a military conflict, like a siege. However, the Dutch militias already used a relatively high number of fire-arms, more so than the Spanish infantry that still mainly relied on pike men. Dutch cities already heavily relied on foreign trade for their food supply, as the surrounding countryside was more suited to dairy farming (and hence cheese production) than wheat growing. The reliance on Baltic grain, however, again made the cities vulnerable to sieges and starvation tactics.

After dealing with Orange's threat in the South, Alba entrusted his son Fadrique with the reconquest of the two rebellious northern provinces. He started out by sacking the fortress city of Zutphen in Gelderland, that had been captured by Count Van den Bergh earlier in the year, on November 14. Hundreds of citizens perished and this had the intended effect: the rebellious cities in Gelderland, Overijssel and Friesland soon fell into line.[30] He then proceeded along the coast of the Zuiderzee toward Amsterdam, which loyal city he intended to use as a base for an assault on Holland proper. On the way he encountered the small town of Naarden (not a fortress at the time) which surrendered on November 22, 1572. Fadrique decided that setting an example was in order, and he allowed all citizens (including the Catholic priest) to be herded into their church, which was subsequently set on fire. All 3,000 citizens perished. Contrary to his expectations, this imbued the cities he would next besiege with an unreasonable tenacity in their resistance, born from desperation. The atrocity may well have doomed his efforts at pacification[31]

Next, Fadrique approached the city of Haarlem by way of the dike road along the IJ river and the Haarlem lake, then still a large inland lake. The city had recently been reinforced with mercenary troops in the pay of the Rebel States. When Fadrique laid siege in early December, the city council secretly tried to capitulate, but the citizens, aware of the fate of Naarden, prevented this and the defenders put up a resistance. Several attempts of rebel mercenary forces, sent by Lumey and Orange to relieve the city, were repelled by the besiegers. Meanwhile, Fadrique's siege artillery repeatedly reduced sections of the city's curtain wall to rubble, and repeatedly the defenders filled these breaches with makeshift ramparts during the following nights. They made good use of their fire-arms in repelling two Spanish attempts to take the city by storm in December, 1572, and January, 1573.[31]

Starving the defenders therefore seemed the only way to success. During the Winter months, when the waterways were frozen over, the city was adequately supplied with sleds crossing the ice. However, when thaw set in Fadrique was the first to use the weapon of inundation. He had the IJ dike cut, which allowed Amsterdam war galleys to bring in men to build an important earthwork to neutralize a pesky Haarlem fort, called the Vig, that was successfully defended by Walloon and Scottish mercenaries. To counter this move, Orange brought together a fleet of a hundred lake vessels manned with volunteers in April, 1573. This naval attempt was, however, beaten back and Haarlem was effectively cut off. An overland attempt with a large force of rebel volunteers was ambushed by the besiegers with large loss of life on the rebel side in July. Haarlem, near starvation, therefore surrendered on terms on July 13, buying off a sack with a large indemnity. The denial of their well-deserved sack of the city prompted Fadrique's soldiers to stage a month-long mutiny to protest their arrears in pay, during which they amused themselves by drowning the hapless garrison in the Spaarne river, though they left the citizens alone[32]

The loss of Haarlem was a severe blow to the Rebel cause, the more so as the province of Holland was now effectively cut in two at the middle. However, the siege had taken so long that the Spanish campaign had lost momentum and other centers of resistance had had time to improve their defenses. This was first proved at the city of Alkmaar in the North of Holland where he failed to rush the gate, while the defenders at the exact same time were reinforced with mercenaries. When Orange subsequently ordered the sluice gates opened, the area surrounding the city flooded, making a further siege impossible. This excursion was an additional waste of time anyway, as North Holland was of secondary importance strategically.[33]

Fadrique in November, 1573, commenced the climactic siege of the city of Leiden in South Holland, just as his father surrendered the reins of government to the new governor-general Philip had appointed, Requesens. Leiden had relatively few professional troops in town, so here the defense relied mostly on the civic militia. The siege actually encompassed two phases, the first one ending in March, 1574, when the besiegers temporarily lifted the siege to deal with an incursion into Limburg by a mercenary force led by Orange's brothers Louis and Henry of Nassau-Dillenburg. The rebel mercenary forces were slightly more numerous than the Spanish troops under Sancho d'Avila that Requesens sent to oppose them. The opposing forces battled on April 14, 1574 on the Mookerheyde and the ill-disciplined German mercenaries of the Nassaus were routed. Both of Orange's brothers died in the field.[34]

The Spanish besiegers were back before Leiden in May, 1574, now under command of Francisco de Valdez. Orange now decided to take out all the stops. He asked the States of Holland in a session on June 1 to assemble a field army of volunteers to help lift the new siege of Leiden. The States had more confidence in strengthening the city garrisons and despite Orange's threat of resignation voted only increased funding for the garrisons. Orange would have to save Leiden without an army in the field. Meanwhile, Valdez had been taking precautions against flooding the countryside around Leiden by posting guard forces on the IJ dike and the Meuse-river dike near Vlaardingen. As inundation now was Orange's only option, he had to breach the river dikes further upriver and along the Hollandse IJssel river. This had the disadvantage that water would have to flow against prevailing westerly winds from the relatively low-lying polders around Delft and Schiedam to the slightly more elevated drainage district of Rijnland around Leiden. The States authorised this on July 31, 1574, promising compensation to the affected peasants and landowners. Those peasants nevertheless objected often violently. In Gouda the garrison of English mercenaries was employed to open the sluice gates as the civic militia was not trusted to do this[35]

The water progressed only slowly. By early September progress stalled completely at the boundary between the Delfland and Rijnland drainage districts, which was formed by an elevated dike. This dike was defended by Valdez, so breaching it was difficult. However, on September 11, thirty-five galleys managed to breach the dike at an unguarded point and the water was allowed to progress again. Only when the wind changed at the end of September, however, did the depth of the inundations become sufficient to allow the rebel galleys to reach Leiden. Valdez lifted the siege on October 2, 1574. The next day the starving citizens feasted on herring and white bread.[36]

Though the sieges of Haarlem, Alkmaar, and especially Leiden are iconic in Dutch history, and they were strategic in the first stage of the war, their significance should not be overrated in a military sense. Spain had not been decisively defeated and would be back when Gilles de Berlaymont, lord of Hierges, the last royal stadtholder of Holland, invaded the province from the South, and in short order captured and sacked Schoonhoven, and Oudewater in August, 1575, mainly because the local magistrates disobeyed Orange's order to inundate the surroundings of their cities. This foray was dangerous, but once the inundation weapon was successfully deployed Hierges was forced to retreat.[37]

Hierges' appointment had followed the capture of Boussu in the important naval Battle on the Zuiderzee of October 11, 1573, in which a royalist fleet was defeated by a Sea-Beggar squadron under Cornelis Jansz Dircks. This result rendered the Zuider Zee "a rebel lake," enabling them to blockade the loyal city of Amsterdam, which contributed decisively to its finally being reconciled with the States in 1578. The rebels had attained naval supremacy in Zeeland also, after their victories over royalist fleets in the Battle of Borsele and the Battle of Reimerswaal. The latter battle doomed the loyal city of Middelburg on Walcheren island, which had been under siege from rebel forces since the very beginning of the Rebellion in 1572, and had held out with the help of a Spanish garrison. This siege lasted even longer than the siege of Leiden. Middelburg surrendered in February, 1574 due to starvation.[38] However, this did not end the struggle for Zeeland. In the Summer of 1575 Requesens ordered Cristobal de Mondragon to attack the Zeeland city of Zierikzee, during which the Spanish troops made a daring portage across the shallow channel between Tholen and Schouwen-Duiveland.[37] The siege lasted until Zierikzee's surrender on July 2, 1576. The very same day the Spanish troops started a fateful mutiny. Their pay had been in arrears for two years, because Philip in fact had gone bankrupt. He actually defaulted on all government debts in September 1575 and his Genoese creditors understandably did not extend further credit under the circumstances.[39]

From Pacification of Ghent to Union of Utrecht (1576-1579)

The Spanish mutineers abandoned their new-won prize, Zierikzee, and marched on the capital city, Brussels, on the way sacking the hapless city of Aalst. For the still-loyal majority of provinces, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. They had reluctantly backed the royal government against the Rebellion, but now their own safety was threatened. The Council of State, which was in sole charge of the country since March, 1576, when Requesens had suddenly died, now authorized the States of Brabant to raise troops to protect Brussels. This proved to be a mixed blessing. On September 4, Jacques de Glimes, a commander of these troops, staged a coup d'état in which he arrested the Council and purged it of its Spanish members. The government now passed into the hands of a cabal, led by Philipe de Croÿ, Duke of Aerschot, stadtholder of Flanders and an old rival of Orange from the early 1560s. Though nominally loyal to Philip the new Council allowed the States-General to be assembled on the initiative of the States of Brabant and Hainault (which the previous government had prohibited on the express orders of Philip). The States-General, without the two rebellious provinces, soon started peace negotiations with the States of Holland and Zeeland on the basis of abortive talks that had been held in Breda in 1575. These earlier talks had failed over the demand that all Spanish troops should be withdrawn, but now the parties could easily agree on this point. There was also agreement on the suspension of the placards against heresy and the demand that there should be freedom of conscience (as distinguished from freedom of worship). Freedom of worship was still a step too far for both the Holland Calvinists (who had prohibited the exercise of the Catholic religion in 1572) and the Catholics in the other provinces. The compromise, promoted by Orange, was that both religions should be tolerated side by side, and this principle appeared to be enshrined in the Pacification of Ghent, but the formulation was ambiguous, which caused many difficulties later. This peace treaty was speedily ratified by both parties when the Spanish mutineers went on a murderous rampage in the Brabant city of Antwerp on November 4, known as the "Spanish Fury."[40]

The entire Netherlands now appeared to be in rebellion against the king, though all still professed loyalty (including Orange and the States of Holland and Zeeland). The position of the Crown was untenable, especially as the replacement of Requesens, Don Juan, the half-brother of Philip, only arrived in the Netherlands on November 3, too late to influence events. The States-General, however, soon strove to consolidate their gains by apparently gaining Don Juan's assent to the Pacification in the Perpetual Edict that he was induced to sign on February 12, 1577. The Spanish troops now indeed were withdrawn to Italy (after having been paid off by the States-General). The Edict stated that the Catholic religion was to be maintained everywhere, but again the meaning of this statement was ambiguous: as the Catholic extremists interpreted the stipulation, it meant that Protestantism should eventually be eradicated even in Holland and Zeeland (the heretics being given a grace period to wind up their affairs and leave quietly). Such an interpretation was unacceptable to the States of Holland and Zeeland, who withdrew temporarily from the States-General and would henceforth keep aloof from its doings, even when Don Juan broke with the States-General in July, and fled to the safety of the citadel of Namur.[41]

Henceforth there would be four centers of power in the Netherlands, all tugging in a different direction: Don Juan, as the leader of the royalist faction, for the moment based in the provinces of Namur and Luxembourg, which both rejected the authority of the States-General; the States of Holland and Zeeland, with their Calvinist leadership, quietly going their own way, while paying lip service to Orange's leadership; the States-general under the leadership of the States of Brabant and a coalition of Orange and the Calvinists in Flanders and Brabant; and finally the faction of conservative Walloon nobles, temporarily allied with the States-General, but already looking askance at Orange and the "wild men" in Flanders and Holland. In view of later historiographical simplifications it is noteworthy that in this period Orange distanced himself slightly from the States of Holland and Zeeland, the latter taking a more and more particularist "Dutch" and intransigent Calvinist viewpoint, whereas Orange tried to unite the entire Netherlands. For that reason he often tended to take the view of Brabant, where he had been made ruwaard (lord Protector) at the behest of the Brussels mob in October, 1577[42] For the same reason, Orange promoted a policy of "religious peace" (meaning the toleration of the practice of both Catholicism and Calvinism side by side throughout the country), which unfortunately was unacceptable to diehards in both camps.[43]

After the flight of Don Juan, the faction around Aerschot in the States-General engineered the appointment of the younger brother of Emperor Rudolf II, Archduke Matthias, a cousin of Philip, as "alternate" governor-general of the Netherlands by the States-General.[42] This was done behind the back of Orange (who nevertheless accepted Matthias) and the States of Holland (who did not). Matthias would prove a pliable figurehead for the States-General government, but he did not bring any material advantages to the table, as his brother did not allow the possibly hoped-for military assistance.

Meanwhile Philip's financial difficulties were straightened out by the end of 1577.[44] This enabled him to send a new Spanish army from Italy, as usual by way of the Spanish Road, under the command of the son of the pre-1567 Regent, Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma. These troops arrived in January, 1578, and enabled Don Juan to go on the offensive. Soon they were venturing into the territory of the States-General, where they were blocked by an army of approximately equal strength under the former royal stadtholder of Holland, Count Boussu, who had become an adherent of the States-General. Exploiting a tactical error, Parma personally led a cavalry charge and routed the States-General's troops in the Battle of Gembloux on January 31, 1578. This victory allowed the royalist forces to advanced as far as Leuven, with opened its gates to them. The position of Brussels thus threatened, the States-General retreated to Antwerp. Orange now persuaded them to raise new troops. With a subsidy of Queen Elizabeth, who tentatively started fishing the muddied waters of the Netherlands, the Calvinist Count Palatine was engaged to raise an army. At the same time, Orange arranged for François, Duke of Anjou, the brother of king Henry III of France, to be recognized by the States-General as "protector," in exchange for 10,000 French troops. The Duke had already been in contact with an anti-Orange group of Walloon nobles, known as the Malcontents who hoped to use his services against the detested Calvinist forces that had temporarily seized power in Arras (then part of the Netherlands). Orange's move checkmated them for the moment. To forestall this double threat, Don Juan struck at the forces of Count Boussu at Rijmenam, where (after initial success against English mercenaries, commanded by Sir John Norreys) his troops suffered devastating casualties in a well-prepared ambush on August 2, 1578. Don Juan was now forced to retreat to Bouges near Namur. There he suddenly died on October 1, 1578.[45]

The forces of the States-General were not able to exploit this sudden advantage, however. Neither Anjou, nor the Count Palatine were able to control their ill-paid troops. Both soon left and their troops attached themselves to either the Malcontents, or the Calvinists at Ghent. This enabled Parma, who had succeeded Don Juan both as governor-general and as commander-in-chief, to embark on a dangerous offensive along the eastern border of the South Netherlands, northward to the formidable fortress of Maastricht. This city guarded a bridge across the Meuse river, which formed a strategic entry point from Germany into Guelders, and other provinces downstream. Parma carefully prepared the siege of this strategic prize. He first made a foray westward into Brabant, where he defeated the States' army at Borgerhout near Antwerp on March 3, 1579, so as to forestall efforts at relief. Then he invested Maastricht, carefully building a system of contravallations to guard against attempts to drive his besieging forces away. This indeed thwarted an attempt at relief by an army under Orange's brother John VI, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg, the States-General stadtholder of Gelderland, in June, 1579. The Maastricht garrison (1,200 Scottish and English mercenaries and 4,000 civic militia) repulsed two assaults by Parma's troops, before those broke in on June 29. Parma, nor his deputies, were able to prevent a massacre of the garrison and Maastricht civilians.[46]

The Dutch Maiden in the Garden[47] of Holland by Philip Galle

While all this political and military manoeuvring was going on in the Southern Netherlands, in the north the States of Holland were quietly taking care of the security of Holland, keeping aloof of the States-General and Orange and generally being unhelpful in the financing of the troops of that august body (which consequently were mostly paid for by only Brabant, as Flanders was equally unhelpful). Holland preferred to spend its money on building and improving fortresses on its extended borders. The apparent freedom of the younger Alba's army to enter the province and roam at will had made it clear that something should be done to "ring-fence" the province with fortresses. According to the military theory of the time, no army would bypass a well-placed and garrisoned fortress, because that would leave its supply-lines dangerously exposed. A ring of fortresses therefore posed a credible deterrent to a would-be invader. Previous to the war the province had been rather backward in its fortress architecture, not having upgraded its medieval fortifications according to the new insights of Italian engineers that were all the rage in mid-16th century Europe. Besides, the existing walled cities were often ill-placed to act as links in such a protective fence (with fortuitous exceptions like Zutphen and Haarlem which had a strategic significance "by accident," for which reason Fadrique had gone after them). The province therefore soon embarked on a program of building new, and upgrading old, fortifications after the Pacification of 1576, during the respite of hostilities this offered. First Gerrit Adriaansz. van Nispen and later Adriaan Anthonisz. of Alkmaar, Holland's "masters of fortresses," directed the construction of trace-italienne type fortresses that could put Parma's architect Gabrio Serbelloni to shame.[48] They introduced an important improvement by substituting sloping earthworks for the usual brick walls, making the forts almost impervious to artillery fire. The new fortresses were also placed to guard strategic invasion routes on the perifery of the province. Among the new fortresses were Geertruidenberg, Zevenbergschen Hoek (both across the Hollands Diep in Brabant, as the north bank of that estuary was sparsely populated), Gorinchem, Loevestein castle and Woudrichem (at important confluences of rivers), Muiden and Naarden (on the eastern approaches of Amsterdam), all famous from later wars[49]

The States dealt with the problem of the royalist enclaves, held over from the Rebellion, like Amsterdam and Haarlem, by political means. In accordance with the Pacification, arduous negotiations with the Catholic city governments were held that resulted in so-called "Satisfactions" of their grievances. Haarlem swore allegiance to Orange as stadtholder for the States-General on January 22, 1577 and set aside one of its churches for Calvinist worship. In exchange the city was readmitted to the States of Holland. Boussu, now in the employ of the States-General, was charged with the withdrawal of the royalist garrisons of Haarlem, Weesp and Muiden, which was problematic, as they had not been paid in a long time and demanded their arrears. Holland eventually grudgingly covered this bill[50]

Amsterdam was a harder nut to crack, as the regime in that city was more intransigently royalist. On the other hand, they had cause for complaint as the Sea-Beggar navy continued to informally blockade Amsterdam's trade in contravention of the Pacification. When help from Don Juan proved infeasible, Amsterdam sued for an arrangement in September, 1577. The States of Holland, however, preferred to subdue the city by force, instead of engaging in negotiations (despite Orange's imprecations). Dutch troops started to invest Amsterdam, but thanks to mediation by the States of Utrecht (a province that had been consistently on the royalist side during the Rebellion) a "Satisfaction" was agreed on February 8, 1578. Calvinist exiles were to be allowed to return, but they would not be free to worship according to their preference; only the Catholic religion would be practiced. This was the mirror of conditions elsewhere in Holland. The old militias would be re-formed, and Amsterdam would not be liable for debts of the States contracted during the Rebellion. However, after the return of the exiles they staged a bloodless coup on May 24, 1578, ousting the city government and expelling its members from the city. This so-called "Alteration" brought Amsterdam again fully into the fold of the Dutch province, and eliminated the strategically dangerous chink it had formed in its armour.[51]

Most importantly, the province went on a diplomatic offensive to improve its eastern defenses in depth. Holland and Zeeland had already formed a defensive union in 1575. After the Pacification Holland went in search of a web of defensive alliances that would ensnare other neighboring provinces. First was neighboring Utrecht which had been a base for both Boussu and Hierges during the Revolt. Hierges was recognized as stadtholder by the States-General after the Pacification. He also acted as stadtholder of Gelderland. Unsurprisingly, he declared for Don Juan after the latter's breach with the States-General. This evidently posed a problem for the States-General which had to depend on Holland to dislodge him. The province was happy to oblige a formal request from the States of Gelderland to send troops, as this allowed them to kill two birds with one stone: the companies of foreign mercenaries that garrisoned the Holland cities were almost as impopular as the Spanish troops. Their presence was now superfluous, and idle mercenaries were often a plague, as any father who wished to deliver his daughters intacto to the altar could confirm. Paying them off, however, was difficult, as their pay was often in arrears. It was cheaper to foist them off on other provinces and then "forget" to pay their arrears[52]

Sending superfluous companies of mercenaries off in the service of the States-General was therefore a gambit that suited both Holland and the central government in Brussels. These troops were often used as new garrisons in the Southern provinces (e.g. in Mechelen, Antwerp, Brussels and Maastricht) once Brabant had become the principal theater of war after Gembloux. They also helped drive out Hierges from Utrecht and the Germans of Nicholas von Polweiler around Roermond (then part of Guelders) and in the cities of Overijssel. This was important, because these cities of Deventer and Kampen, governed by staunchly Catholic regents, still controlled the States of Overijssel. Dislodging Polweiler therefore signified delivering the States in the hands of Holland's friends in Overijssel[53]

Though at first the interests of Holland and the States-General in this sense converged, they started to diverge the more gains Parma made in the South. For Orange and the States-General the theater of Brabant was pre-eminent in the war, but by 1579 Holland had a greater interest in using its troops to protect its friends in the eastern provinces. The same went for its money, which may have been even more important. With Holland being more and more reluctant to help finance the war for the States-General, the military situation got more and more dire for the latter, which allowed Parma to make threatening gains in the direction of areas of strategic interest for Holland in the east etc.; a vicious spiral in other words. If the Dutch Regenten had seen the strategic implications of Parma's advances, like Orange did, things might have turned out differently, but unfortunately they did not. Instead they preferred to formalize a defensive union with their by now generally friendly eastern and northern neighbors. This Union of Utrecht treaty[54] was signed on January 23, 1579 in the city of Utrecht by the representatives of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, the Ommelanden around Groningen city, and the stadtholder of Gelderland, Orange's brother Jan, who presumed to sign for the divided States of Gelderland[55] Later, the provinces of Friesland and Overijssel would adhere to this Union, as would a number of cities in Flanders and Brabant, like Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, and 's-Hertogenbosch, which had fallen into the hands of radical Calvinist city governments, after popular revolts from October, 1577 onward.[56]

Secession and Reconquest (1579-1588)

Ironically, the conservative Walloon provinces had beaten the radical northerners to the punch by signing their own defensive Union of Arras on January 6, 1579. This treaty (to which initially only Hainault, Artois and Lille-Douai-Walloon Flanders acceded) reconfirmed the Pacification and the Perpetual Edict, and offered Spain the neutrality of these provinces if it would accept and guarantee these stipulations. Spain was also to refrain from basing its troops in the provinces as long as they were not threatened by invasion. Once Parma accepted these conditions the grievances of the conservative Catholics against Spain were satisfied and they could make a separate peace in the form of the Treaty of Arras in May, 1579, in which they renewed their allegiance to Philip under these conditions.[57]

Meanwhile, Orange and the States-General in Antwerp were less than enthusiastic about the Union of Utrecht. They would far prefer a broader based union, still based on the Pacification and the "religious peace," which both the unions of Utrecht and Arras implicitly rejected. However, rapid developments in divergent directions in both north and south made the attempts at maintaining unity moot. In the north the adherents of the Union of Utrecht managed to consolidate their position in the provinces of Friesland and Gelderland by May, though not without a struggle with the conservatives. However, Overijssel remained divided and in Groningen the city and the stadtholder for the States-General, Count Rennenberg, kept their distance. By the time of the Treaty of Arras it was clear that the split had hardened, and Orange therefore finally conceded defeat and signed the Union of Utrecht on May 3, 1579, while encouraging the Flemish and Brabant cities in Protestant hands to also join the Union.[58]

At this time, on the initiative of Emperor Rudolph II a final attempt was made to attain a general peace between Philip and the States-General in the German city of Cologne. As both sides insisted on mutually exclusive demands these peace talks only served to make the irreconcilability of both parties obvious; there appeared to be no more room for the people who favored the middle ground, like Count Rennenberg. Rennenberg, a Catholic, now made up his mind to go over to Spain. In March, 1580 he called for the provinces in his remit to rise against the "tyranny" of Holland and the Protestants. However, this only served to unleash an anti-Catholic backlash in Friesland and Overijssel. The States of Overijssel were finally convinced to adhere to the Union of Utrecht. Nevertheless, Rennenberg's "treason" posed a severe strategic threat for the Union, especially after Parma sent him reinforcements in June. He managed to capture most of Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel in the next months.[59]

The territory under nominal States-General control was steadily shrinking in other parts also. Parma made steady progress. After taking Maastricht in June, 1579, he seized Kortrijk in February, 1580, after a four-month siege. The States-General replied by recapturing Mechelen in April after which the victorious English mercenaries sacked the town in what has become known as the "English Fury."[60] Orange by now was convinced that the only way to avert total defeat was to regain support of the moderates, alienated by Calvinist radicalism; reassure the still-loyal Catholics in the South; and retain the trust of the German Lutheran princes and the king of France. To attain these objectives he now persuaded the States-General to offer sovereignty over the Netherlands to the younger brother of king Henri of France, François, Duke of Anjou, who in 1578 had already intervened on behalf of the States-General. Anjou was an orthodox Catholic, but also a Politique, who in 1576 had brought about the Edict of Beaulieu, which for a while ensured religious peace in France. As such he was acceptable to at least the moderates in both camps. He also would bring the military and financial support of his brother. Brabant and Flanders (but not Holland and Zeeland) supported this scheme and the States-General concluded the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours in September, 1580 with Anjou. The latter arrived in Antwerp in January, 1581, where he took an oath to in effect govern as a "constitutional monarch," and was acclaimed by the States-General as Protector of the Netherlands[61]

The secession of the States-General and the area under their nominal control from the Spanish Crown was formalized by the Act of Abjuration of July 26, 1581. The main effect of this Act was to force a number of "fence-sitting" magistrates in the rebellious provinces to finally declare their true allegiance. Many old-guard regents now resigned and were replaced with people whose loyalty to the anti-Spanish cause was not in doubt. The Act also intensified the propaganda war between both sides, as it took the form of a manifest, setting out the principles of the Revolt, just as Orange's Apologie in answer to Philip's ban of June, 1580, outlawing him, had done. Both documents are redolent of resistance theories that were also disseminated by the Huguenot Monarchomachs.[62] As such they alienated yet another group of moderates[63]

Unfortunately, Orange's attempt to paper over the disunity within the States-General by bringing in Anjou did not succeed. Holland and Zeeland acknowledged him perfunctorily, but mainly ignored him, and of the other members of the Union of Utrecht Overijssel, Gelderland and Utrecht never even recognized him. In Flanders his authority never amounted to much either, which meant that only Brabant fully supported him. Under Anjou's nominal direction the split between the north and south was further emphasized. He governed with a Council of State that, though nominally unitary, was in practice divided in two distinct bodies, each responsible for a different theater of war. Anjou himself concentrated his French troops in the south, leaving Holland and its allies to fence for themselves against Rennenberg (which suited them fine). He proved signally unable to stanch Parma's inexorable advance, however.[64]

Ironically, Parma had long been hampered by the provision in the Treaty of Arras which prohibited stationing of Spanish mercenaries (the troops of the best quality) in the provinces that belonged to the Southern union. However, after his war with the Turks had finally ended, Philip's finances had signally improved and he had been able to steadily increase the number of troops available to Parma. By October, 1582, Parma had an army of 61,000 troops available, mostly of high quality. By that time the Walloon provinces also relented their opposition against taking in Spanish troops. These improvements were soon translated into military successes. In June, 1581 Parma had already captured Orange's own town of Breda, thereby driving a wedge into the territory of the States-General in Brabant. In 1582 he made further advances into Gelderland and Overijssel[64] There the war had been going to and fro between the forces of the Union of Utrecht and the royalists. Rennenberg had died in the Summer of 1581, but was ably replaced by Francisco Verdugo, who pushed south to Lochem in 1582 after first having seen off the English mercenaries of Sir John Norris (of Rijmenam fame) opposing him in Friesland. Capturing Lochem might topple Zutphen and Deventer also. He was forced to lift his siege of Lochem, but on his way back north captured the fortress city of Steenwijk, the key to the north-east of the Netherlands, which always had eluded Rennenberg[65]

Orange was the victim of an assassination attempt by Juan de Jáuregui on March 18, 1582. He survived, but suffered severe injuries which put him out of the running for an appreciable time. Meanwhile, Anjou had become weary of the restraints placed on his authority by the civilians of the States-General and he attempted to seize power in Flanders and Brabant by way of a military coup. He seized Dunkirk and several other Flemish cities, but in Antwerp the citizens (remembering 1576) came to arms and massacred the French troops in the streets, an event known as the French Fury of January 17, 1583. The popularity of both Anjou and Orange (who was seen as his main promotor) now sank to new lows, especially in Antwerp. Nevertheless Orange tried to arrange a reconciliation, but both Anjou and the people of Brabant had had enough and Anjou left for France in June, 1583[66]

Morale in the cities still held by the States-General in the South sagged. Dunkirk and Nieuwpoort fell without a shot to Parma, leaving only Oostende as a major rebel enclave along the coast. In despair, Orange now left Brabant for good. He again established his headquarters in the Dutch city of Delft in July of 1583, followed by the States-General in August (the latter eventually settled in nearby The Hague). He was back where he started from in 1576. His prestige with the States of Holland and Zeeland had appreciably declined since those halcyon days, however. The States had since greatly increased their self-confidence as a budding government[67].

Meanwhile, Parma's Army of Flanders made inexorable progress. It captured Ypres in April, 1584, Bruges in May, and Ghent in September. In this desperate situation Orange started to entertain thoughts of finally accepting the vacant crown of the Count of Holland, which some of his ardent supporters, notably Paulus Buys, had first pressed upon him in 1581. However, since that time enthusiasm had waned, and Amsterdam (led by the regent Cornelis Hooft), Gouda and Middelburg now opposed the plan. In any case, the plan became moot when Orange was assassinated by Balthasar Gérard on July 10, 1584.[68]

The assassination for a while put the States of Holland in disarray, which left the initiative to the much diminished States of Flanders and Brabant in the States-General. The latter were by now getting desperate as they controlled only slivers of their provinces (Parma had by now put Antwerp under siege). They believed that their only succour could come from France. On their behest the States-General therefore started a debate on the merit of once more offering sovereignty to king Henri III of France in September, and over Hooft's and Amsterdam's objections a Dutch embassy was sent to France in February, 1585. But the situation in France had deteriorated, the religious strife between Huguenots and Catholics flaring up again, and Henri did not feel strong enough to defy Philip, so he declined the honor.[69]

Hellburners at Antwerp by Famiani Strada

Meanwhile, the "Calvinist republic" of Antwerp was being brought to heel by Parma. He had cut its supply-line from the north by placing a pontoon bridge across the Scheldt river downstream from the city. The usual starvation tactic now began to take hold on the city of 80,000. Morale declined, also because one of the last Brabant holdouts, Brussels, surrendered in March, 1585. After a Dutch amphibious assault (during which an attempt was made to blow up the ship-bridge with the use of "Hellburners") failed in April, the city finally surrendered in August. Parma (who was well aware of the counter-productivity of Alba's terror tactics) treated the inhabitants leniently, but many Protestants nevertheless migrated to the northern provinces, swelling the stream of often wealthy merchants and skilled laborers with a Protestant background that sought refuge there in this period. A side-effect of this wholesale migration was that the economic strength of the reconquered provinces steadily declined, while that of especially Holland and Zeeland mightily increased.[70]

The States-General in their extremity now turned to the English monarch Elizabeth I with an offer of sovereignty. Elizabeth had been approached as early as 1573 by the States of Holland with a similar offer for the province, but then she haughtily declined, as she generally disapproved of rebellion (and Dutchmen). Now, however, the English government reconsidered in view of the gains Parma was making, which also had the unwanted effect of strengthening Catholic anti-government sentiment in England. Elizabeth (though declining to take up the offer of sovereignty) therefore decided to extend an English protectorate over the Netherlands, be it under strict conditions to protect her interests. She offered to send an expeditionary force of 6,350 foot and 1,000 horse, the cost to be shared by the States-General, provided her nominee, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, would be put in both military and political charge of the country as governor-general. Furthermore, he should govern through a reconstituted Council of State, on which the English government would have two voting members (one of which was the Clerk of the Privy Council, Sir Thomas Wilkes), and she was to be given the fortresses of Flushing and Brill as surety for the loans she extended. The States-General agreed to this in the Treaty of Nonsuch of August 20, 1585. This was the first instance in which the rebel state was diplomatically recognized by a foreign government (the treaty with Anjou having been "private").[71]

Leicester's intervention in the Netherlands proved to be a mixed blessing. He was to be a rallying point for the forces in the Netherlands that were opposed to the hegemony of the States of Holland. As a protector of the Puritans in England, he was seen as a natural ally by the "strict" faction of Calvinists in the Netherlands, who had opposed Orange's policy of "religious peace" and now were arrayed against the "lax" Dutch regents who favoured an Erastian Church order, a bone of contention for many years to come. Those Dutch regents, ably led by the Land's Advocate of Holland, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, opposed Leicester from the start because they rightly identified him as the focus of the opposition in the Netherlands to the power they had acquired during the course of the Revolt. Beside the hard-line Calvinists, that opposition consisted of the Dutch nobility, whose power had declined in favour of that of the despised merchant class that the regents represented, and the factions in the other provinces, such as Utrecht and Friesland, that heartily resented Holland's supremacy.[72]

The first conflict arose during the negotiations with Leicester in January, 1586 over the exact contents of his commission as governor-general. The Treaty of Nonsuch provided that stadtholders for the individual provinces would henceforth be appointed by the Council of State, so as to give England a say in the matter. Nevertheless, in Friesland and Groningen William Louis, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg (the son of Orange's brother Jan), and in Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel Adolf van Nieuwenaar had been appointed by the States-General in early 1585, before the treaty. In a show of bad faith the States of Holland and Zeeland had then appointed the second legitimate son of Orange, Maurice of Nassau[73], stadtholder in their provinces just before Leicester arrived. To add insult to injury, the States insisted that all stadtholders derived their authority from the sovereign States of the provinces that appointed them, so Leicester could claim no say in the matter (an argument that would play an important role in future constitutional conflicts). Confronted with this fait accompli he had no choice but to acquiesce.[74]

Leicester also clashed with Holland over matters of policy like the representation of the States of Brabant and Flanders, who by now no longer controlled any significant areas in their provinces, in the States-General. From 1586 on they were barred from taking part in the deliberations over Leicester's objection, though he managed to retain their seats in the Council of State for them. Once the States-General were thus deprived of the membership of the last Southern provinces, one may in effect start using the name Dutch Republic for the new state. Holland also opposed Leicester's embargo on "trade with the enemy." Superficially, this made sense from a strategic point of view, and the embargo proved quite effective after Leicester put it in force in April, 1586, causing much hardship in the Spanish-controlled territories in the next Winter. However, the embargo also hit the Dutch merchants very hard, as much of the grain trade on the Baltic was now diverted to England. The Dutch regents therefore preferred a system of control with licenses that had the added benefit of bringing in much-needed revenue. For the moment Leicester prevailed on this point, however[75]

The political strains between Leicester and Holland intensified when the Calvinist hard-liners, in Utrecht, led by Gerard Prouninck, seized power in that province in August, 1586. This provided Leicester with an anti-Holland power base from which he could make difficulties for the Dutch regents in other provinces, especially Friesland, also. When Leicester temporarily returned to England in December, 1586, Holland immediately set to work to recover the lost ground. New regulations were put in force that required every officer in the pay of Holland to accept his commission from the stadtholder, Maurice, who also had to approve all troop movements. Leicester's trade embargo was emasculated. Meanwhile, much mutual irritation had arisen between the Dutch populace and the English troops garrisoned in many towns. In January, 1587 the English garrisons at Deventer and Zutphen defected to the Spanish, followed by those in Zwolle, Arnhem and Ostend. This contributed to anti-English feeling under the populace, which helped undermine the pro-English Utrecht faction, that had been agitating for offering sovereignty to Elizabeth once again. When Leicester returned to the Netherlands he found his friends weakened so much that he concluded that he would have to seize power by force to get the situation under control. After preparations during the Summer, Leicester occupied Gouda, Schoonhoven and a few other cities in September, 1587. An attempt to arrest Maurice and Oldenbarnevelt in The Hague failed, however, as did an attempted insurrection of hardline Calvinists in Leiden. When a personal attempt by Leicester to get Amsterdam in his camp also failed, he gave up and returned to England in December, 1587. Thus ended the last attempt to keep the Netherlands a "mixed monarchy," under foreign overlordship. The northern provinces now entered a period of more than two centuries of republican government.[76]

The Dutch Republic resurges (1588-1609)

The Dutch Republic was not proclaimed with great fanfare. In fact, after the departure of Leicester the States of the several provinces and the States-General conducted business as usual. To understand why, one has to look at the polemic that took place during 1587 about the question who held sovereignty. The polemic was started by the English member of the Council of State, Sir Thomas Wilkes, who published a learned Remonstrance in March, 1587, in which he attacked the States of Holland because they undermined the authority of Leicester to whom, in Wilkes view, the People of the Netherlands had transferred sovereignty in the absence of the "legitimate prince" (presumably Philip). The States of Holland reacted with an equally learned treatise, drawn up by the pensionary of the city of Gouda, François Vranck[77] on their behalf, in which it was explained that popular sovereignty in Holland (and by extension in other provinces) in the view of the States resided in the vroedschappen and nobility, and that it was administered by (not transferred to) the States, and that this had been the case from time immemorial. In other words, in this view the republic already existed so it did not need to be brought into being.[78] Vranck, of course, made up his historical argument of whole cloth, but his conclusions reflected the view of the States at that time and would form the basis of the ideology of the States-Party faction in Dutch politics, in their defense against the "monarchical" views of their hard-line Calvinist and Orangist enemies in future decades.[79]

The latter (and many contemporary foreign observers and later historians) often argued that the confederal government machinery of the Netherlands, in which the delegates to the States and States-General constantly had to refer back to their principals in the cities, "could not work" without the unifying influence of an "eminent head" (like a Regent or Governor-General, or later a stadtholder). However, the first years of the Dutch Republic proved different (as in hindsight the experience with the States-General since 1576, ably managed by Orange, had proved). Oldenbarnevelt proved to be Orange's equal in virtuosity of parliamentary management. The government he informally led proved to be quite effective, at least as long as the war lasted.[80] In the three years after 1588 the position of the Republic improved appreciably, despite setbacks like the betrayal of Geertruidenberg to Parma by its English garrison in 1588.[81] The change was due to both external and internal factors, that were interrelated.

Internally, probably thanks to the influx of Protestant refugees from the South, which temporarily became a flood after the fall of Antwerp in 1585, the long-term economic boom was ignited that in its first phase would last until the second decade of the next century. The southern migrants brought the entrepreneurial qualities, capital, labor skills and know-how that were needed to start an industrial and trade revolution. The economic resources that this boom generated were easily mobilized by the budding "fiscal-military state" in the Netherlands, that had its origin, ironically, in the Habsburg attempts at centralization earlier in the century. Though the Revolt was in the main motivated by resistance against this Spanish "fiscal-military state" on the absolutist model, in the course of this resistance the Dutch constructed their own model that, though explicitly structured in a decentralized fashion (with decision-making at the lowest, instead of the highest level) was at least as efficient at resource mobilization for war as the Spanish one. This started in the desperate days of the early Revolt in which the Dutch regents had to resort to harsh taxation and forced loans to finance their war efforts. However, in the long run these very policies helped reinforce the fiscal and economic system, as the taxation system that was developed formed an efficient and sturdy base for the debt-service of the state, thereby reinforcing the trust of lenders in the credit-worthiness of that state. Innovations, such as the making of a secondary market for forced loans by town governments helped merchants to regain liquidity, and helped start the financial system that made the Netherlands the first modern economy. Though in the early 1590s this fiscal-military state was only in its early stages and not as formidable as it would become in the next century, it still already made the struggle between Spain and the Dutch Republic less unequal than it had been in the early years of the Revolt.[82]

Externally, the preparations that Philip was making for an invasion of England were all too evident. This growing threat prompted Elizabeth to cease her support for the opponents of Holland in the Netherlands, like Prouncinck and the Utrecht States, and the strong opposition Friesian stadtholder Louis William (an ally of Oldenbarnevelt) experienced in Friesland. Without Elizabeth's interference Oldenbarnevelt proceeded unhindered to break this opposition.[83] Elizabeth appreciated that she needed Dutch naval cooperation to defeat the threatened invasion and that opposing Oldenbarnevelt's policies, or supporting his enemies, was unlikely to get it. The position of Holland was also improved when Adolf of Nieuwenaar died in a gunpowder explosion in October 1589, enabling Oldenbarnevelt to engineer his succession as stadtholder of Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel by Maurice, with whom he worked hand in glove.[84] Finally, Oldenbarnevelt managed to wrest power away from the Council of State, with its English members (though the Council would have an English representation until the English loans were repaid by the end of the reign of James I). Instead, military decisions were more and more made by the States-General (with its preponderant influence of the Holland delegation), thereby usurping important executive functions from the Council.[85]

The role of the budding Dutch navy in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in August, 1588, has often been under-exposed. It was crucial, however. After the fall of Antwerp the Sea-Beggar veterans under admiral Justinus van Nassau (the illegitimate elder brother of Maurice) had been blockading Antwerp and the Flemish coast with their nimble flyboats. These mainly operated in the shallow waters off Zeeland and Flanders that larger warships with a deeper draught, like the Spanish and English galleons, could not safely enter. The Dutch therefore enjoyed unchallenged naval superiority in these waters, even though their navy was inferior in naval armament. An essential element of the plan of invasion, as it was eventually implemented, was the transportation of a large part of Parma's Army of Flanders as the main invasion force in unarmed barges across the English Channel. These barges would be protected by the large ships of the Armada. However, to get to the Armada, they would have to cross the zone dominated by the Dutch navy, where the Armada could not go. This problem seems to have been overlooked by the Spanish planners, but it was insurmountable. Because of this obstacle, England never was in any real danger. However, as it turned out, the English navy defeated the Armada before the embarkation of Parma's army could be implemented, turning the role of the Dutch moot. The Army of Flanders escaped the drowning death Justinus and his men had in mind for them, ready to fight another day[86]

Henry IV of France's succession to the French throne in 1589 occasioned a new civil war in France, in which Philip soon intervened on the Catholic side. He ordered Parma to use the Army of Flanders for this intervention and this put Parma in the unenviable position of having to fight a two-front war. There was at first little to fear from the Dutch, and he had taken the added precaution of heavily fortifying a number of the cities in Brabant and the north-eastern Netherlands he had recently acquired, so he could withdraw his main army to the French border with some confidence. However, this offered the Dutch a respite from his relentless pressure that they soon put to good use. Under the two stadtholders, Maurice and William Louis, the Dutch army was in a short time thoroughly reformed from an ill-disciplined, ill-paid rabble of mercenary companies from all over Protestant Europe, to a well-disciplined, well-paid professional army, with many soldiers, skilled in the use of modern fire-arms, like arquebuses, and soon the more modern muskets. The use of these fire-arms required tactical innovations like the counter-march of files of musketeers to enable rapid volley fire by ranks. Such complicated manoevres had to be instilled by constant drilling. As part of their army reform the stadtholders therefore made extensive use of military manuals, often inspired by classical examples of Roman infantry tactics, such as the ones edited by Justus Lipsius in De Militia Romana of 1595. Jacob de Gheyn II later published an elaborately illustrated example of such a manual under the auspices of Maurice, but there were others. These reforms were in the 17th century emulated by other European armies, like the Swedish army of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. But the Dutch army developed them first.[87].

Musket instruction by Jacob de Gheyn II

Besides these organisational and tactical reforms, the two stadtholders also developed a new approach to siege warfare. They appreciated the peculiar difficulties of the terrain for this type of warfare in most of the Netherlands, which necessitated much labor for the digging of investments. Previously, many soldiers disdained the manual work required and armies usually press-ganged hapless peasants. Maurice, however, required his soldiers to do the digging, which caused an appreciable improvement in the quality of the work. Maurice also assembled an impressive train of siege artillery, much larger than armies of the time usually had available, which enabled him to systematically pulverize enemy fortresses. He was to put this to good use, when the Republic went on the offensive in 1591. Already in 1590 Breda was recaptured with a ruse. But the next year Maurice used his much enlarged army[88] with newly developed transportation methods using rivercraft, to sweep the IJssel-river valley, capturing Zutphen and Deventer; then invade the Ommelanden in Groningen, capturing all Spanish forts; and ending the campaign with the conquest of Hulst in Flanders and Nijmegen in Gelderland. In one fell swoop this transformed the eastern part of the Netherlands, which had hitherto been in Parma's hands. The next year Maurice joined his cousin William Louis in the siege of Steenwijk, pounding that strongly defended fortress with 50 artillery pieces, that fired 29,000 shot. The city surrendered after 44 days. During the same campaign year the formidable fortress of Coevorden was also reduced; it surrendered after a relentless bombardment of six weeks. Drenthe was now brought under control of the States-General.[89]

Despite the fact that Spanish control of the northeastern Netherland now hang by a thread, Holland insisted that first Geertruidenberg would be captured, which happened after an epic text-book siege, which even the great ladies of The Hague treated as a tourist attraction, in June 1593. Only the next year the stadtholders concentrated their attention on the northeast again, where meanwhile the particularist forces in Friesland, led by Carel Roorda, were making trouble by trying to extend their hegemony over the other north-eastern provinces. This was temporarily resolved by a solution imposed by Holland, putting Friesland in its place, which the Frisians understandably resented. Holland also attempted to avoid the expense of a lengthy siege of the strongly defended and strongly pro-Spanish city of Groningen by offering that city an attractive deal that would maintain its status in its eternal conflict with the Ommelanden. This diplomatic initiative failed however, and Groningen was subjected to a two-month siege. After its capitulation the city was treated leniently, though Catholic worship was henceforth prohibited and the large body of Catholic clergy that had sought refuge in the city since 1591 forced to flee to the Southern Netherlands. The province of Groningen, City and Ommelanden, was now admitted to the Union of Utrecht, as the seventh voting province under a compromise imposed by Holland, that provided for an equal vote for both the city and the Ommelanden in the new States of Groningen. In view of the animosity between the two parties, this spelled eternal deadlock, so a casting vote was given to the new stadtholder, William Louis, who was appointed by the States-General, in this instance.[90] The fall of Groningen also rendered Drenthe secure and this area was constituted as a separate province (as annexation by either Friesland or Groningen was unacceptable to the other party) with its own States and stadtholder (again William Louis), though Holland blocked its getting a vote in the States-General.[91]

The fall of Groningen also changed the balance of forces in the German county of East Friesland, where the pro-Spanish and Lutheran Count Edzard II was opposed by the Calvinists in the city of Emden. The States-General now laid a garrison in Emden, forcing the Count to recognize them diplomatically in the Treaty of Delfzijl of 1595. This also gave the Republic a strategic interest in the Ems River valley, which was reinforced during the stadtholders' large offensive of 1597. Maurice first seized the fortress of Rheinberg, a strategic Rhine crossing, and subsequently Groenlo, Oldenzaal, and Enschede, before crossing into Germany and capturing Lingen and the county of the same name. This reinforced Dutch hegemony in the Ems valley. Capture of these cities secured for a while the dominance of the Dutch over eastern Overijssel and Gelderland, which had hitherto been firmly in Spanish hands.[92]

Meanwhile, however, the civil war in France was drawing to a close. The Dutch viewed this with some trepidation, because though Henry IV was the winner, the end of hostilities after the Peace of Vervins of May, 1598 would free the Army of Flanders again for operations in the Netherlands. Soon after, Philip died, and his Will provided a new surprise. It turned out that he had willed the Netherlands to his daughter Isabella and her husband Archduke Albert, who would henceforth reign as co-sovereigns. This sovereignty was largely nominal as the Army of Flanders was to remain in the Netherlands, largely paid for by the new king of Spain, Philip III. Nevertheless, ceding the Netherlands made it theoretically easier to pursue a compromise peace, as both the Archdukes, and the chief minister of the new king, the duke of Lerma were less inflexible toward the Republic than Philip II had been. Soon secret negotiations were started which, however, proved abortive because Spain insisted on two points that were nonnegotiable to the Dutch: recognition of the sovereignty of the Archdukes (though they were ready to accept Maurice as their stadtholder in the Dutch provinces) and freedom of worship for Catholics in the north. The Republic was too insecure internally (the loyalty of the recently conquered areas being in doubt) to accede on the latter point, while the first point would have invalidated the entire Revolt. The war therefore continued.[93]

However, peace with France and the secret peace negotiations had temporarily slackened Spain's resolve to pay its troops adequately and this had occasioned the usual widespread mutinies. The Army of Flanders now temporarily in disarray, Oldenbarnevelt and the civilians in the States-General spied a strategic opportunity to deal the Archdukes a heavy blow. They forced a deep strike into Flanders on a reluctant Maurice in the direction of the port of Dunkirk that had grown into a hotbed of privateers that did much damage to Dutch shipping. Maurice now flung his model army into Flanders after a large amphibious operation from Flushing and started his advance along the coast. This incursion brought an immediate end to the "industrial action" of the Spanish troops, enabling Albert to launch a strike into Maurice's flank. Somewhat hindered by all seven members of the States-General, who tried to micro-manage the campaign as deputies-in-the-field, Maurice was now cornered by Albert near the port of Nieuwpoort and forced to give battle on July 2, 1600. This was a test by fire of the Dutch army and the new tactics developed by the stadtholders against the still-formidable Spanish infantry and Maurice was none to sure about its outcome. However, the new tactics of volley-fire and artillery-supported infantry fighting got the better of the Spanish pikemen and Maurice personally routed the Spaniards in a cavalry charge.[94] It was a close-run thing, however, and strategically worthless, as Maurice retreated post-haste to the safety of Zeeland. To add insult to injury, a privateer fleet managed to break the blockade of Dunkirk and wreaked havoc on the Dutch herring fleet soon, destroying 10% of the fleet of Dutch herring busses in August.[95]

The next four years showed an apparent stalemate. The Archdukes decided that before taking on the Republic it was important to subdue the last Protestant enclave on the Flemish coast, the port of Ostend. The siege took three years and eighty days. Meanwhile the stadtholders mopped up some more Spanish fortresses, like Grave in Brabant and Sluys and Aardenburg in what was to become States Flanders. Though these victories deprived the Archdukes of much of the propaganda value of their own victory at Ostend, the loss of the city was a severe blow to the Republic, and it brought about another Protestant exodus to the North.[96]

The supreme command of the Army of Flanders had now been transferred to Ambrosio Spinola who proved to be a worthy opponent of Maurice. In a brilliant campaign in 1605 he first outwitted Maurice by feigning an attack on Sluys, but when Maurice came down to block that, leaving Maurice far in his rear while he made a surprise attack on the eastern Netherlands by way of Münsterland in Germany. He soon appeared before Oldenzaal (only recently captured by Maurice) and this preponderantly-Catholic city opened its gates to him without firing a shot. Next he captured Lingen. With both towns in Spanish hands the Dutch had to evacuate Twenthe and retire to the IJssel river. Spinola returned the next year and caused a panic in the Republic when he invaded the Zutphen quarter of Gelderland, showing that the interior of the Republic was still vulnerable to Spanish attack. However, Spinola was satisfied with the psychological effect of his incursion and did not press the attack. Thoroughly disturbed by all of this, Maurice decided on a rare Fall campaign in an attempt to close the apparent gap in the Republic's eastern defenses. He retook Lochem, but his siege of Oldenzaal failed in November, 1606. This was the last major campaign on both sides before the Truce that was concluded in 1609. The strategic result of the Spanish gains of 1605-6 was that the Twenthe and Zutphen quarters were to remain a kind of No man's land right down to 1633, during which they were forced to pay tribute to the Spanish forces that often roamed there at will.[97]

Both sides now embarked on an intensification of the fortress-building spree that had begun in the mid-1590s, enveloping the Republic in a double belt of fortresses on its outer borders (an outer Spanish and an inner Dutch belt). This belt ran from Emden in the northeast via Bourtange, Coevorden, Zwolle, the line of the IJssel, with Deventer and Zutphen; to Arnhem and Nijmegen, and then west, along the Meuse to Grave, Heusden and Geertruidenberg; and finally south along the line through Bergen op Zoom to Lillo, north of Antwerp, and west again to the coast at Cadzand via Sluys.[98] The Dutch fortresses, mostly outside the provinces of the Union of Utrecht proper, were garrisoned with mercenary troops that, though paid for the account of individual provinces, were under federal command since 1594. The Dutch Staatse leger (States Army) had therefore become a truly federal army, consisting mostly of Scottish, English, German and Swiss mercenaries, but commanded by a Dutch officer corps. This standing army almost trebled in size to 50,000 between 1588 and 1607, a remarkable achievement if one takes into account that the population of Spain and its empire of about 15 million, while the opposing forces within the Low Countries were now at about equal strength.[99][100]

Twelve Years' Truce

The cost of fortress-building and the upkeep of the large standing armies put both Spain and the Republic under severe fiscal strain. Also because of the slump in trade that was caused by the efficient trade embargo imposed by Spain on the Dutch since 1598 the Dutch regents estimated that they could not safely increase the already heavy burden of taxation. In September 1606 Oldenbarnevelt therefore urged the States of Holland to seek an accommodation with Spain. This met with a surprisingly favorable reception from Spain, as Philip III and the Duke of Lerma had already resolved to concede sovereignty, if that proved inevitable in order to halt the war. What prompted them to this concession was the inroads that the Dutch East India Company (or VOC), that had been chartered by the States-General in 1602, had been making in the Portuguese empire's sphere of influence in the East Indies. After all, since 1580 there had been a union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal. The conquest of a number of Portuguese possessions in Ambon, Ternate and Tidore in 1605 by the VOC caused such consternation that a Spanish presence was quickly established to counterbalance Dutch gains. Philip wanted this stopped, and Oldenbarnevelt seemed initially amenable to suggestions that the VOC be suppressed and another project to charter a similar Dutch company for the Americas be aborted. The Archdukes, on instructions from Madrid, therefore secretly declared in March, 1607, that they were willing to negotiate a peace with the States-General, as representatives of free lands over which they made no claim. A ceasefire in the Netherlands was signed in April, 1607.[101]

However, the negotiations were almost aborted immediately when it was discovered that the Dutch had made no concessions in writing in the armistice-agreement, and it therefore appeared that Spain had conceded a major point without obtaining anything in return, which was seen as a major humiliation for the Crown. About the same time the news was received of a major defeat a Dutch fleet under admiral Jacob van Heemskerk had dealt the Spanish navy in the Battle of Gibraltar of April 25, 1607. The Spanish indignation grew even more, when it transpired that Oldenbarnevelt's verbal undertakings to suppress the VOC proved worthless, as he simply could not deliver on such a promise in view of the political situation in the Republic. This apparent deception put paid to the prospects of a permanent peace, so the only feasible outcome of the negotiations might be a truce of limited duration.[102]

Oldenbarnevelt's peace initiatives met with stringent opposition from Maurice, Amsterdam, and Zeeland for different reasons (Zeeland, for instance, was making good money in the "trade with the enemy" across the blockaded Scheldt, and stood to lose from a truce during which trade relations would be normalized). The opposition engaged in a lively pamphlet war to influence public opinion, but Oldenbarnevelt managed to persuade the Holland regents. He pointed out that a truce would lessen the fiscal pressures; help revive Dutch commerce with the Iberian Peninsula, which had by default fallen almost exclusively into English hands, after the peace James I of England concluded in 1604 with Spain; and free the hands of the Dutch elsewhere in Europe (as in the Sound where Denmark at the time was hindering the Dutch Baltic trade[103]) to defend their commercial interests by force if necessary. He argued also that the loss of trade with the Indies would be outweighed by the positive effects on European trade of a lifting of the embargoes.[104]

Spain now offered a truce with a duration of twelve years, provided the Republic would grant freedom of worship for Catholics. Again, Oldenbarnevelt had to refuse this concession as the political situation in the Republic made that impossible. He was, however, able to offer a short truce (until 1613) in the Indies, and the suppression of the proposed Dutch West India Company for the time being. Philip now grudgingly accepted these meagre results and the Truce was signed at Antwerp on April 9, 1609, marking the official recognition by Spain of the Republic as a diplomatic entity "as if" it were a sovereign state. The Dutch Revolt had officially ended[105]

The immediate result for the Republic was that it was now also officially recognized by other European states as a sovereign nation. In 1609 France and England received Dutch resident ambassadors, and soon after diplomatic relations were opened with the Republic of Venice, the Sultan of Morocco, and the Ottoman Porte. Diplomatic recognition also enabled the Republic to start building a network of consulates across Europe. But the Republic now also dared be unfriendly in its relations with other European powers, as when it forced James I to back down in a conflict over English unfinished cloth in 1614 with an economic boycot[106]

The Truce also had negative effects. Dutch long-distance trade to the Indies and the Americas suffered, because the Spanish and Portuguese colonialists were given a respite to improve their defenses overseas. The official embargo on trade with the Americas had ended, but the colonists now imposed their own "unofficial" one, limiting Dutch trade with Caracas and the Amazon region. Temporary setbacks in the Indies caused the price of VOC shares on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange to fall from a high of 200 in 1608 to 132 after the Truce started. The Zeeland transit traffic to the Southern Netherlands declined sharply. On the other hand, the lifting of the Dutch blockade of Antwerp and the Flemish coast helped revive the trade in Flemish textile products, just as the Flemish textile industry experienced a revival itself. This worked to the detriment of the recently-booming Dutch textile industry. Wages of predominantly former Flemish textile workers in cities like Leiden plummeted as a result.[107]

The political unrest this economic downturn caused, helped aggravate the political crisis that the Oldenbarnevelt regime faced during the latter part of the Truce. This crisis followed from dissension about the religious policy of the Holland regents, but became conflated with the monarchical aspirations of the stadtholders, especially Maurice. Everybody in Dutch Calvinist circles of whatever hue agreed that the "True Religion" should be supported by the State. Local authorities therefore paid for the upkeep of the churches of the Dutch Reformed Church, the only officially recognized religion since the States of Holland had prohibited other kinds of worship in 1573, and for the Livings of its preachers and schoolmasters. This meant that the church was a "Public Church." But what was its relationship with the state as such a publicly-supported denomination? Viewpoints diverged. Many regents expected some deference of the church to their interests, and at least a say in the appointment of dominees, though they probably would not go as far as to demand the powers of oversight, usually associated with an established church, such as the Lutheran churches in Germany and Scandinavia, and the Church of England. They usually steered clear of interference in doctrinal matters, though not as a matter of principle. Others insisted on full autonomy of the church in doctrinal matters and church government, whereas the hard-line "strict" Calvinists often seemed to aspire to some form of theocracy, in which the church would direct official policy in matters in which it took an interest. As long as matters did not come to a head these divergent views did not cause trouble, as in practice the middle road of church autonomy was followed.

However, in 1606 a theological quarrel developed between two Leiden professors, Jacobus Arminius and Franciscus Gomarus. The abstruse arguments need not detain us here (not many contemporaries outside the universities seem to have fully understood them at the time[108]) but the upshot of the argument was that outsiders started to take sides, and that this led to often physical abuse by, and of, the contestants. The partisans of Arminius therefore addressed the Five articles of Remonstrance to the States of Holland, in which they exposited their viewpoints on Calvinist doctrine, and asked the States to take a standpoint. To help the States decide a disputation between two six-man teams of Arminians and Gomarists was held before the States in July 1610, in which the Gomarists presented a "Counter-Remonstrance," in which they gave their arguments against the Remonstrants' doctrinal position, at the same time asking the States to back off, and leave the matter to a National Synod. Unfortunately, the States did not take this sensible suggestion (possibly because they suspected that such a Synod would result in the condemnation of the Remonstrants as heretics on a majority vote, a result they wanted to avoid).[109]

While the States of Holland were dithering about a decision, unrest about the quarrel began to spread around the Republic, disturbing the public peace and causing political problems in that the regents began to take sides, often in favor of the Remonstrants, whereas the common people, incited by the dominees, often opted for the Counter-Remonstrant viewpoint. The eminent Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius, after a visit to England in an abortive effort to dissuade James I from intervening in the quarrel, came up with what he viewed as a solution. In his view, a public church must of necessity be a "big tent" that would accommodate as many believers as possible. He believed that this was the case in the Church of England that allowed all kinds of doctrinal variations under its wing, from crypto-Catholics to Puritans. The Dutch partisans (like the Puritans), however, envisaged a church of "pure" believers (themselves), in which there would be no place for "unbelievers," like their opponents. To achieve Grotius' lofty ideal it would be necessary to tone down the doctrinal differences, affording toleration of different viewpoints, except in relation to the most basic tenets of the Christian faith (like belief in the Trinity) that everybody would accept (he therefore drew the line at Socinianism). Disagreements about less basic tenets, like the ones that divided Remonstrants and Counter-Remonstrants, should be left to an individual's conscience in accordance with the freedom of conscience enshrined in the Union of Utrecht. Grotius knew full well that neither party was ready to concede this and he therefore proposed to legislate his proposal in the form of a States of Holland resolution that would, up to a point, curtail freedom of expression (i.e. the freedom to hurl anathemas at ones opponents) in such a way as to restore public order. The resolution would define matters that would be open to debate, and matters that would not be. Preachers who would defy the States in this matter could then be disciplined by the authorities, if need be by depriving them of their Livings.[110]

Oldenbarnevelt supported Grotius in this policy (though it could be seen as an assault on the autonomy of the Public Church) and together they managed to drive the placard through in 1614 against opposition from many sides. Initially, and superficially, the policy seemed to work, but eventually it ended in the ruin of the Oldenbarnevelt regime. This was due to the following factors. First, Oldenbarnevelt failed in maintaining unity on his policy in the States of Holland (Amsterdam opposed him), and thereby weakened the hegemonic position of Holland in the Republic as a whole. Secondly, though the States put their thumb in the scales in favor of the Remonstrants with this policy (as those, being a minority, were in danger of being driven out of the public church), the Counter-Remonstrants maintained their strength among dominees and schoolmasters, and so indirectly among the common people. Finally, the social unrest as a consequence of deteriorating economic circumstances for the staunchly "strict" Calvinist ex-Flemish laborers (who opted en masse for the Counter-Remonstrants) destabilized the State in 1617-18.[111]

Mob violence in many Holland and Utrecht cities against Remonstrant regents ensued. The federal garrisons and civic militias refused to intervene to protect the regents (a pattern we also observe at the end of the First and Second Stadtholderless Periods, when likewise States-Party regimes were overturned). The Remonstrant regents now felt so threatened that they resorted to the desperate measure of the so-called "Sharp Resolution" of the States of Holland of August 4, 1617, which authorized city governments to raise mercenary troops, called waardgelders[112], outside the federal army or civic militias, to maintain public order. This drew an immediate protest from Maurice and from the other provinces on constitutional grounds. They asserted that the Union of Utrecht prohibited the raising of troops by individual cities without consent from the States-General. Even more threatening to the federal supremacy had been the provision in the Sharp Resolution that asserted that units in the federal army paid for the account of Holland owed their primary allegiance to that province. This was a restatement of Holland's old constitutional position that the provinces were supremely sovereign, and the Union no more than a confederation of sovereign provinces. Maurice,and the other provinces (except Utrecht), now claimed that the States-General possessed an overriding sovereignty in matters of common defense and foreign policy[113]

Disarming the waardgelders in Utrecht by Joost Cornelisz. Droochsloot

Many expected a military coup after the cities of Leiden and Utrecht actually raised corps of waardgelders and used them to purge the civic militias of Counter-Remonstrant sympathizers. Maurice proceeded cautiously, however, preferring to undermine the political support of the Oldenbarnevelt regime in Holland. A revolutionary situation developed in a number of cities in Holland where Remonstrant town councils were overturned by popular intervention. To counter this, the Remonstrant regents proposed in January, 1618 to withhold part of Holland's contribution to the Generality budget and use the money to raise more waardgelder companies. Maurice now mobilized the support of the five provinces opposing Holland and Utrecht for a States-General resolution disbanding the waardgelders. This was voted through on July 9, 1618, with five votes to two, Holland and Utrecht opposing. Oldenbarnevelt and Grotius, in desperation, now overplayed their hand: appealing to the requirement for unanimity in the Union treaty, they sent a delegation to the federal troops in Utrecht (that were supposed to disarm the waardgelders in that city) with instructions that their first allegiance was to the province that paid them, and that they were to ignore instructions by the stadtholder in case of conflict. This intervention was construed by their opponents as treason. Prince Maurice[114] now brought up additional federal troops to Utrecht and started to disarm the waardgelders there on July 31, 1618. There was no resistance. The political opposition to his actions imploded as Oldenbarnevelt's Utrecht ally, Gilles van Ledenberg, advocaat of the Utrecht States, fled to Holland[115]

Perceiving that resistance was useless, Oldenbarnevelt and his Remonstrant allies now capitulated. Leiden disbanded its waardgelders voluntarily in August, and Oldenbarnevelt and Grotius acquiesced in the convening of a National Synod to arbitrate the Arminian controversy. On August 28, 1618, however, the States-General passed a secret resolution to authorize Maurice to arrest Oldenbarnevelt, Grotius, Ledenberg and Rombout Hogerbeets. This was justified with an appeal to the asserted residual sovereignty of the States-General that overrode that of the States of Holland. After the arrest these leaders of the Oldenbarnevelt regime were indicted for high treason and brought before an ad hoc tribunal[116] consisting mostly of opponents of the accused. The trial took a long time. Meanwhile, Maurice proceeded to purge the Holland ridderschap[117] and the vroedschappen of a number of cities that had been governed by Remonstrant regents up to then. He replaced the old regents with adherents of the Counter-Remonstrant faction, often nouveau riche merchants that had little experience in government affairs. These purges constituted a political revolution and ensured that his Orangist regime would be securely in charge of the Republic for the next 32 years. Henceforth the stadtholder, not the Advocate of Holland, would direct the affairs of the Republic, mainly through his parliamentary managers in the Holland ridderschap. The Holland leadership was emasculated by making sure that the position of Grand Pensionary[118] would henceforth be filled by a succession of mediocre, incompetent and pliable Orangists, at least up to the appointment of Johan de Witt in 1653[119]

Meanwhile the National Synod was convened in the city of Dordrecht in November, 1618. The deliberations of this august body[120] progressed slowly. Only in the Spring of 1619 did it get around to condemning the Remonstrants for heresy, and casting them out of the Public Church. A more lasting accomplishment of the Synod was that it commissioned an "authorized" translation of the Bible in Dutch, a language that the translators had to make up from Dutch, Brabantish and Flemish elements; the translations therefore contributed mightily to the unification of the Dutch language.[121]

The trial of Oldenbarnevelt cum suis ended soon afterwards. In view of the composition of the tribunal the result was a foregone conclusion, even though the defendants put up a spirited defense. After all, they were not for nothing the most eminent jurists in the Republic. The defense primarily rejected the competence of the court and furthermore claimed that treason against the Generality was not possible, because the federal state did not exist apart from the sovereign provinces. The court rejected the latter argument, claiming that in actuality sovereignty was divided between the Generality and the provinces. In its view, the Sharp Resolution contravened the Union of Utrecht and could therefore be construed as high treason. However, (as an illustration of the muddled procedures), when Oldenbarnevelt was convicted on May 12, 1619, it was not of this high-treason, but of a contrived charge of conniving with Spain. This Oldenbarnevelt kept denying till his last breath, when he was beheaded the next day. He refused to ask for mercy, to Maurice's annoyance[122], and he received none, despite the fact that Maurice's stepmother Louise de Coligny, and the French ambassador, pleaded for Oldenbarnevelt's life. Ledenberg equally received a death sentence, but committed suicide. Hogerbeets and Grotius were sentenced to life-imprisonment[123]

Thus ended the life of Oldenbarnevelt

...a man of great activity, business, memory and wisdom - yes, extra-ordinary in every respect[124]

in the words of the notation about the execution in the register of the resolutions of the States of Holland on May 13, 1619.

Resumption of the war

Dutch intervention in the early stages of the Thirty Years' War (1619-1621)

It is impossible to know whether the course of history would have been different without the overthrow of the Oldenbarnevelt regime and the judicial murder of the old statesman. However, it is true that Oldenbarnevelt's diplomatic acumen and his restraint were sorely missed in the following months and years when the new Dutch regime became embroiled in a dangerous military adventure in the Holy Roman Empire. Oldenbarnevelt had no ambition to have the Republic become the leading power of Protestant Europe, and he had shown admirable restraint when in 1614 the Republic had felt constrained to intervene militarily in the Jülich-Cleves crisis opposite Spain. Though there had been a danger of armed conflict between the Spanish and Dutch forces involved in the crisis, both sides took care to avoid each other, respecting each others spheres of influence.[125]

The new regime in The Hague felt differently, however. While civil war was avoided in the Republic, a civil war did get started in the Bohemian Kingdom with the Second defenestration of Prague on May 23, 1618. The Bohemian insurgents were now pitted against their king, Ferdinand, who would soon succeed his uncle Matthias (the former States-General governor-general of the Netherlands) as Holy Roman Emperor. They cast about for support in this struggle and on the Protestant side only the Republic was able and willing to provide it. This took the form of support for Frederick V, Elector Palatine, a nephew of Prince Maurice[126] and a son-in-law of James I, when Frederick accepted the Crown of Bohemia the insurgents offered him (he was crowned on November 4, 1619). His father-in-law had sought to restrain him from doing this, warning that he could not count on English aid, but Maurice encouraged him in every way, providing a large subsidy and promising Dutch armed assistance. The Dutch had therefore a large role in precipitating the Thirty Years' War.[127]

Maurice's motivation was the desire to manoeuvre the Republic in a better position in case the war with Spain would resume after the expiration of the Truce in 1621. It was not a foregone conclusion that the Truce would not be renewed, but it had become less likely, as both in Spain and in the Republic more hard-line factions had come to power.[128] Though civil war had been avoided in the Republic, national unity had been bought with much bitterness on the losing Remonstrant side, and Maurice for the moment had to garrison several former Remonstrant-dominated cities to guard against insurrection. This encouraged the Spanish government, perceiving internal weakness in the Republic, to choose a bolder policy in the Bohemian question than they otherwise might have done. The Bohemian war therefore soon degenerated into a proxy war between Spain and the Republic. Even after the Battle of White Mountain of November, 1620, which ended disastrously for the Protestant army (one-eighth of which was in the Dutch pay), the Dutch continued to support Frederick militarily, both in Bohemia and in the Palatinate. Maurice also provided diplomatic support, pressing both the Protestant German princes and James I to come to Frederick's aid. When James sent 4,000 English troops in September 1620, those were armed and transported by the Dutch, and their advance covered by a Dutch cavalry column.[129]

Detail from a pamphlet about the Winter King

In the end the Dutch intervention was in vain. After just a few months, Frederick and his wife Elizabeth fled into exile at The Hague, where they became known as the Winter King and Queen for their brief reign. Maurice pressed Frederick to at least defend the Palatinate against the Spanish troops under Spinola and Tilly, but it was in vain. The first round in the war went to Spain and the Imperialist forces in Germany. James held this against Maurice for his incitement of the losing side with promises that he could not keep.[130]

All of this did not imply that the war between Spain and the Republic would have to resume even then. There was continual contact between Maurice and the government in Brussels during 1620-1 about a possible renewal of the Truce. Albert was in favor of it, especially after Maurice falsely gave him the impression that a peace would be possible on the basis of a token recognition by the Republic of the sovereignty of the king of Spain. When Albert sent the chancellor of Brabant, Petrus Peckius, to The Hague to negotiate with the States-General on this basis, he fell into this trap and innocently started talking about this recognition, instantly alienating his hosts. Because nothing was as certain to unite the northern provinces as the suggestion that they should abandon their hard-fought sovereignty. If this incident had not come up, the negotiations might well have been successful as a number of the provinces were amenable to simply renewing the Truce on the old terms. Now the formal negotiations were broken off, however, and Maurice was authorized to conduct further negotiations in secret. His attempts to get a better deal met with counter-demands from the new Spanish government for more substantive Dutch concessions, however. The Spaniards demanded Dutch evacuation of the West and East Indies; lifting of the restrictions on Antwerp's trade by way of the Scheldt; and toleration of the public practice of the Catholic religion in the Republic. These demands were unacceptable to Maurice and the Truce expired in April, 1621.[131]

The war did not immediately resume, however. Maurice continued sending secret offers to Isabella after Albert had died in July, 1621[132] through the intermediary of the Flemish painter and diplomat Peter Paul Rubens. Though the contents of these offers (which amounted to a version of the concessions demanded by Spain) were not known in the Republic, the fact of the secret negotiations became known, and disquieted the proponents of restarting the war, like the investors in the Dutch West India Company, that after a long delay was now finally about to be founded with as a main objective bringing the war to the Spanish Americas. Opposition against the peace feelers therefore mounted, and nothing came of them.[133]

The Republic under siege (1621-1629)

Another reason the war did not immediately resume was that king Philip III died shortly before the Truce ended. He was succeeded by his 16-year old son Philip IV, and the new government under the Count-duke of Olivares had to get settled first and decide on a strategy. The view in the Spanish government was that the Truce had been ruinous to Spain in an economic sense. In this view the Truce had enabled the Dutch to gain very unequal advantages in the trade with the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean, thanks to their mercantile prowess. On the other hand, the continued blockade of Antwerp had contributed to that city's steep decline in importance (hence the demand for the lifting of the closing of the Scheldt). The shift in the terms of trade between Spain and the Republic had resulted in a permanent trade deficit for Spain, that naturally translated itself into a drain of Spanish silver to the Republic, which was seen as a "bad thing" in those economically unsophisticated times. The Truce had also given a further impetus to the Dutch penetration of the East Indies, and in 1615 a naval expedition under Joris van Spilbergen had raided the West-Coast of Spanish South-America. Spain felt threatened by these incursions and wanted to put a stop to them. Finally, the economic advantages had given the Republic the financial wherewithal to build a large navy during the Truce, and enlarge its standing army to a size where it could rival the Spanish military might. This increased military power appeared to be directed principally to thwart Spain's policy objectives, as witnessed by the Dutch interventions in Germany in 1614 and 1619, and the Dutch alliance with the enemies of Spain in the Mediterranean, like Venice and the Sultan of Morocco. The three conditions Spain had set for a continuation of the Truce had been intended to remedy these disadvantages of the Truce (the demand for freedom of worship for Catholics being made as a matter of principle, but also because it was hoped to mobilize the still sizable minority of Catholics in the Republic and so destabilize it politically).[134].

Siege of Breda by Jacques Callot

Despite the unfortunate impression the opening speech of chancellor Peckius had made at the negotiations about the renewal of the Truce, the objective of Spain and the regime in Brussels was not a war of reconquest of the Republic. Instead the options considered in Madrid were either a limited exercise of the force of weapons, to capture a few of the strategic points the republic had recently acquired (like Cleves), combined with measures of economic warfare, or reliance on economic warfare alone. In the event Spain opted for the first alternative. Immediately after the expiration of the Truce in April, 1621, all Dutch ships were ordered out of Spanish ports and the stringent trade embargoes of before 1609 were renewed. After an interval to rebuild the strength of the Army of Flanders, Spinola opened a number of land offensives, in which he captured the fortress of Jülich (garrisoned by the Dutch since 1614) in 1622, and Steenbergen in Brabant, before laying siege to the important fortress city of Bergen-op-Zoom. This proved a costly fiasco as Spinola's besieging army of 18,000 melted away through disease and desertion. He therefore had to lift the siege after a few months. The strategic import of this humiliating experience was that the Spanish government now concluded that besieging the strong Dutch fortresses was a waste of time and money and decided to henceforth solely depend on the economic-warfare weapon. The subsequent success of Spinola's Siege of Breda (1624) did not change this decision. Henceforth Spain adopted a defensive stance militarily in the Netherlands.[135]

However, the economic warfare was intensified in a way that amounted to a veritable siege of the Republic as a whole. In the first place, the naval war intensified. The Spanish navy harassed Dutch shipping that had to sail through the Strait of Gibraltar to Italy and the Levant, thereby forcing the Dutch to sail in convoys with naval escorts. The cost of this was born by the merchants in the form of a special tax, used to finance the Dutch navy, but this increased the shipping rates the Dutch had to charge,and their maritime insurance premiums also were higher, thus making Dutch shipping less competitive. Spain also increased the presence of its navy in Dutch home waters, in the form of the armada of Flanders, and the great number of privateers, the Dunkirkers, both based in the Southern Netherlands. Though these Spanish naval forces were not strong enough to contest Dutch naval supremacy, Spain waged a very successful Guerre de Course, especially against the Dutch herring fisheries, despite attempts by the Dutch to blockade the Flemish coast.[136]

The herring trade, an important pillar of the Dutch economy, was hurt even more by the other Spanish forms of economic warfare, the embargo on salt for preserving herring, and the blockade of the inland waterways to the Dutch hinterland, which were an important transportation route for Dutch transit trade. The Dutch were used to procure their salt from Portugal and the Caribbean islands. Alternative salt supplies were available from France, but the French salt had a high magnesium content, which made it less suitable for herring preservation. When the supplies in the Spanish sphere of influence were cut off, the Dutch economy was therefore dealt a heavy blow. The salt embargo was just a part of the more general embargo on Dutch shipping and trade that Spain instituted after 1621. The bite of this embargo grew only gradually, because the Dutch at first tried to evade it by putting their trade in neutral bottoms, like the ships of the Hanseatic League and England. Also, Spanish merchants tried to evade it, as the embargo also did great harm to Spanish economic interests, even to the extent that for a time a famine threatened in Spanish Naples when the Dutch-carried grain trade was cut off[137]. Realizing that the local authorities often sabotaged the embargo, the Spanish crown built up an elaborate enforcement apparatus, the Almirantazgo de los paises septentrionales (Admiralty of the northern countries) in 1624 to make it more effective. Part of the new system was a network of inspectors in neutral ports who inspected neutral shipping for goods with a Dutch connection and supplied certificates that protected neutral shippers against confiscation in Spanish ports. The English and Hanseatics were only too happy to comply, and so contributed to the effectiveness of the embargo.[138]

The embargo grew to an effective direct and indirect impediment for Dutch trade, as not only the direct trade between the Amsterdam Entrepôt and the lands of the Spanish empire was affected, but also the parts of Dutch trade that indirectly depended on it: Baltic grain and naval stores destined for Spain were now provided by others, depressing the Dutch trade with the Baltic area; the carrying trade between Spain and Italy now shifted to English shipping etc. The embargo was a double-edged sword, however, as some Spanish and Portuguese export activities likewise collapsed as a consequence of the embargo (such as the Valencian and Portuguese salt exports)[139]

Thanks to the belt of Spanish fortresses around the Republic, often near the great European rivers that flow into the sea in this area, and to the fact that Spanish forces conquered the Palatinate and other areas in western Germany that abutted these trade routes, during the first stage of the Thirty Years' War, Spain was also able to physically close off these inland waterways after 1625 for Dutch river traffic. The Dutch were thus also deprived of their important transit trade with the neutral Prince-Bishopric of Liège (then not a part of the Southern Netherlands) and the German hinterland in these years. Dutch butter and cheese prices collapsed as a result of this blockade (and rose steeply in the affected import areas), as did wine and herring prices (the Dutch monopolized the French wine trade at the time), but the steep price rises in the Spanish Netherlands, sometimes accompanied by food shortages, led to an eventual relaxation of this embargo. It was eventually abandoned, because it deprived the Brussels authorities from important revenues from custom duties.[140]

The economic-warfare measures of Spain were effective in the sense that they depressed economic activity in the Netherlands, thereby also depressing Dutch fiscal resources to finance the war effort with, but also by structurally altering European trade relations, at least until the end of the war, after which they reverted in favor of the Dutch. Neutrals benefited, but both the Dutch and the Spanish areas suffered economically, though not uniformly, as some industrial areas benefited from the artifcial restriction of trade, which had a protectionist effect. The "new draperies" textile industry in Holland permanently lost terrain to its competitors in Flanders and England, though this was compensated for by a shift to more expensive high-quality woollens.[141] Nevertheless, the economic pressure and the slump of trade and industry it caused was not sufficient to bring the Republic to its knees. There were a number of reasons for this. The chartered companies, both VOC and WIC, provided employment on a large enough scale to compensate for the slump in other forms of trade and their trade brought great revenues. Supplying the armies, both in the Netherlands and in Germany, proved a boon for the agricultural areas in the Dutch inland provinces.[142]

The fiscal situation of the Dutch government also improved after the death of Maurice in 1625. He had been too successful in gathering all reins of government in his own hands after his coup in 1618. It is true that he completely dominated Dutch politics and diplomacy in the first years afterwards, even monopolizing the abortive peace talks before the expiration of the Truce. Likewise the political Counter-Remonstrants were temporarily in total control, but the downside of all this was that his government was overextended, with too few people doing the heavy lifting on the local level, which was essential to make the government machine run smoothly in the highly decentralized Dutch polity. Holland's conventional role as leader of the political process was temporarily vacated, as Holland as a power center was eliminated. Maurice had to do everything by himself with his small band of aristocratic managers in the States-General. This situation deteriorated even more, when he had to spend long periods in the field as commander-in-chief, during which he was unable to personally direct affairs in The Hague. His health soon deteriorated, also detracting from his efficacy as a political and military leader. The regime, depending on Maurice's personal qualities as a virtual dictator, therefore came under unbearable strain.[143]

Not surprisingly, in the period up to his death the strategic and military position of the Republic deteriorated. It had to increase the standing army to 48,000 men in 1622, just to hold the defensive ring of fortresses, while Spain increased the Army of Flanders to 60,000 men at the same time. This put a great strain on the Republic's finances at a time when tax rates were already dangerously high. Yet at the same time the Republic had no other option than to sustain the imploding German Protestant forces financially. For that reason the Dutch paid for the army of Count Ernst von Mansfeld that was cowering against the Dutch border in East Friesland after its defeats against the Spanish and Imperial forces; it was hoped that in this way a complete encirclement of the Republic could be avoided. For a while the Republic pinned its hope on Christian the Younger of Brunswick. However, his Dutch-financed army was crushed at Stadtlohn, near the Dutch border by the forces of the Catholic League under Tilly in August, 1623. This setback necessitated a reinforcement of the Dutch IJssel line. Spinola, however, failed to take advantage of the new situation, still hurting from his echec before Bergen-op-Zoom, and lulled into complacency by Maurice's unceasing peace-feelers. He was back in 1624, however, besieging Breda, and Dutch morale slumped, despite the diplomatic success of the Treaty of Compiègne with Louis XIII of France, in which the latter agreed to support the Dutch military effort with an annual subsidy of a million guilders (7% of the Dutch war budget).[144]

Maurice died, aged 58, in April, 1625, and was succeeded as Prince of Orange and captain-general of the Union by his half-brother Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange. It took several months, however, to obtain his appointment as stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland, as it took time to agree on the terms of his commission. This deprived the regime of leadership in a crucial time. During this time the moderate Calvinist regents staged a comeback in Holland at the expense of the radical Counter-Remonstrants. This was an important development, as Frederick Henry, unlike his brother, could not lean exclusively on the latter faction, but instead took a position "above the parties," playing off the two factions against one another. A side-effect of this was that more normal political relations returned to the Republic, with Holland returning to its central political position. Also, the persecution of the Remonstrants now abated with the Prince's connivance, and with this renewed climate of tolerance, political stability in the Republic also improved.[145]

This improvement in internal affairs helped the Republic overcome the difficult years of the sharpest economic-warfare phase, described above. During the lull in the military pressure by Spain after the fall of Breda in 1625 the Republic was able to steadily increase its standing army, thanks to its improved financial situation. This enabled the new stadtholder of Friesland and Groningen, Ernst Casimir, to recapture Oldenzaal, forcing the Spanish troops to evacuate Overijssel. Diplomatically, the situation improved once England entered the war in 1625 as an ally. Frederick Henry cleared the Spaniards from eastern Gelderland in 1627 after recapturing Grol. The Dutch victory in the Battle in the Bay of Matanzas in 1628, in which a Spanish treasure fleet was captured by Piet Pieterszoon Hein, contributed even more to the improving fiscal situation, at the same time depriving Spain of much needed money. However, the greatest contribution to the relative improvement of the Dutch position in 1628 was made by the fact that Spain overextended itself again, when it participated in the War of the Mantuan Succession. This caused such a depletion of Spanish troops and financial resources in the theatre of war in the Netherlands, that the Republic for the time being achieved a stategic superiority: the Army of Flanders declined to 55,000 men while the States Army reached 58,000 in 1627.[146]

The Republic sallies forth (1629-1635)

Meanwhile, the Imperialist forces had surged in Germany after the initial setback from the intervention of Christian IV of Denmark in the war in 1625. Both the Danes and Mansfelt were defeated in 1626 and the Catholic League occupied the northern German lands that had hitherto acted as a buffer zone for the Republic. For a while an invasion of the eastern part of the Republic seemed imminent in 1628. However, the relative might of Spain, the main player up to now in the German civil war, was ebbing fast. By April, 1629 the States Army counted 77,000 soldiers, half as much again as the Army of Flanders at that point in time. This allowed Frederick Henry to raise a mobile army of 28,000 (the other troops were used in the fixed garrisons of the Republic) and invest 's-Hertogenbosch. During the siege of this strategic fortress city the Imperialist and Spanish allies launched a diversionary attack from Germany at the IJssel line. After crossing this river, they invaded the Dutch heartland, getting as far as Amersfoort, which city promptly surrendered. The States-General, however, mobilized civic militias and scrounched garrison troops from fortresses all around the country, assembling an army that at the height of the emergency numbered no less than 128,000 troops. This enabled Frederick Henry to maintain his siege of 's-Hertogenbosch. When Dutch troops surprised the Spanish fortress of Wesel, which acted as the principal Spanish supply base, this forced the invaders to retreat to the IJssel. 's-Hertogenbosch surrendered in September, 1629 to Frederick Henry.[147]

Frederick Henry and Ernst Casimir at the siege of 'sHertogenbosch by Pauwels van Hillegaert

The loss of Wesel and 's-Hertogenbosch (a city that had been fortified according to the most modern standards, often incorporating Dutch innovations in fortification), in short succession, caused a sensation in Europe. It demonstrated that the Dutch, for the moment, enjoyed strategic superiority. 's-Hertogenbosch was the lynchpin of the ring of Spanish fortifications in Brabant; its loss left a gaping hole in the Spanish front. Thoroughly shaken, Philip IV now overruled Olivares and offered an unconditional truce. The States-General refused to consider this offer, until the Imperialist forces had left Dutch territory. Only after this had been accomplished they remitted the Spanish offer to the States of the provinces for consideration. The popular debate that followed split the provinces. Friesland, Groningen and Zeeland, predictably, rejected the proposal. Frederick Henry appears to have favored it personally, but he was hampered by the political divisions in the province of Holland where radical Counter-Remonstrants and moderates were unable to agree. The Counter-Remonstrants urged in guarded terms a final eradication of "Remonstrant" tendencies in the Republic (thus establishing internal "unity") before a truce could even be considered. The radical Calvinist preachers urged a "liberation" of more of the Spanish Netherlands. Shareholders in the WIC dreaded the prospect of a truce in the Americas, which would thwart the plans of that company to stage an invasion of Portuguese Brazil. The peace party and the war party in the States of Holland therefore perfectly balanced each other and deadlock ensued. Nothing was decided during 1629 and 1630.[148]

To break the deadlock in the States of Holland, Frederick Henry planned a sensational offensive in 1631. He intended to invade Flanders, and make a deep thrust toward Dunkirk, like his brother had done in 1600. His expedition was even larger. He embarked 30,000 men and 80 field guns on 3,000 rivercaft for his amphibious descent on IJzendijke. From there he penetrated to the Bruges-Ghent canal that the Brussels government had dug to circumvent the Dutch blockade of the coastal waters. Unfortunately, at this stage a sizeable Spanish force appeared in his rear and this caused a row with panicky deputies-in-the-field that, as usual, were micro-managing the campaign for the States-General. The civilians prevailed, and a very angry Frederick Henry had to order an ignominious retreat of the Dutch invading force.[149]

Finally, in 1632, Frederick Henry was allowed to deliver his death blow. The initial move in his offensive was to have a reluctant States-General publish (over the objections of the radical Calvinists) a proclamation promising that the free exercise of the Catholic religion would be guaranteed in places that the Dutch army would conquer that year. The inhabitants of the Southern Netherlands were invited to "throw off the yoke of the Spaniards." This piece of propaganda would prove to be very effective. Frederick Henry now invaded the Meuse valley with 30,000 troops. He took Venlo, Roermond and Sittard in short order. As promised, the Catholic churches and clergy were left unmolested. Then, on June 8, he laid siege to Maastricht. A desperate effort of Spanish and Imperialist forces to relieve the city failed and on August 20, 1632, Frederick Henry sprang his mines, breaching the walls of the city. It capitulated three days later. Here also, the Catholic religion was allowed to remain.[150]

The infanta Isabella was now forced to convene the southern States-General for the first time since her inauguration in 1598. They met in September (as it turned out for the last time under Spanish rule). Most southern provinces advocated immediate peace talks with the Republic so as to preserve the integrity of the South and the free exercise of the Catholic religion. A "southern" States-General delegation met the "northern" States-General, represented by its deputies-in-the-field in Maastricht. The "southern" delegates offered to negotiate on the strength of the authorization given in 1629 by Philip IV. However, Philip and Olivares secretly cancelled this authorization, as they considered the initiative of the southern States-General an "usurpation" of royal power. They never intended to honor any agreement that might ensue.[151]

On the Dutch side, there was the usual disunity. Frederick Henry hoped to achieve a quick result, but Friesland, Groningen and Zeeland opposed the talks outright, while divided Holland dithered. Eventually, those four provinces authorized talks with only the southern provinces, leaving Spain out. Evidently, such an approach would make the resulting agreement worthless, as only Spain possessed any troops. The peace party in the Republic finally brought about meaningful negotiations in December, 1632, when valuable time had already been lost, enabling Spain to send reinforcements. Both sides presented demands that were unreconcilable at first, but after much palaver the southern demands were reduced to the evacuation of Portuguese Brazil (which had been invaded by the WIC in 1630) by the Dutch. In return, they offered Breda and an indemnity for the WIC for giving up Brazil. The Dutch (over the opposition of the war party that considered the demands too lenient) reduced its demands to Breda, Geldern, and the Meierij area around 's-Hertogenbosch, in addition to tariff-concessions in the South. Furthermore, as they realized that Spain would never concede Brazil, they proposed to limit the peace to Europe, continuing the war overseas.[152]

By June, 1633 the talks were on the verge of collapse. A shift in Dutch politics now ensued, which would prove fateful for the Republic. Frederick Henry, sensing that the talks were going nowhere, proposed to put an ultimatum to the other side to accept the Dutch demands. However, he now lost the support of the "peace party" in Holland, led by Amsterdam. These regents wanted to offer further concessions to gain peace. The peace party gained the upper hand in Holland, for the first time since 1618 standing up to the stadtholder and the Counter-Remonstrants. Frederick Henry, however, managed to gain the support of the majority of the other provinces and those voted on December 9, 1633 (overruling Holland and Overijssel) to break off the talks.[153]

Franco-Dutch Alliance (1635-1640)

While the peace negotiations had been dragging on, events elsewhere in Europe of course had not stood still. While Spain was busy fighting the Mantuan war, the Swedes had intervened in the Thirty Years' War in Germany under Gustavus Adolphus in 1630, supported by French and Dutch subsidies. The Swedes used the new Dutch infantry tactics (enhanced with improved cavalry tactics) with much more success against the Imperialist forces than the German Protestants had done and so gained a number of important successes, turning the tide in the war.[154] However, once Spain had her hands free again after the end of the war in Italy in 1631, she was able to bring her forces in the northern theater of war up to strength again. The Cardinal-Infante brought a strong army up, by way of the Spanish Road, and at the Battle of Nördlingen (1634) this army, combined with Imperialist forces, using the traditional Spanish tercio tactics, decisively defeated the Swedes. He then marched immediately on Brussels, where he succeeded the old Infanta Isabella who had died in December, 1633. Spain's strength in the Southern Netherlands was now appreciable enhanced.

The Dutch, now no longer with the prospect of peace with Spain, and faced with a resurgent Spanish force, decided to take the French overtures for an offensive alliance against Spain more seriously. This change in strategic policy was accompanied by a political sea-change within the Republic. The peace party around Amsterdam objected to the clause in the proposed treaty with France that bound the Republic's hands by prohibiting the conclusion of a separate peace with Spain. This would shackle the Republic to French policies and so constrain its independence. The resistance to the French alliance by the moderate regents caused a rupture in the relations with the stadtholder. Henceforth Frederick Henry would be much more closely aligned with the radical Counter-Remonstrants who supported the alliance. This political shift promoted the concentration of power and influence in the Republic in the hands of a small group of the stadtholder's favorites. These were the members of the several secrete besognes (secret committees) to which the States-General more and more entrusted the conduct of diplomatic and military affairs. Unfortunately, this shift to secret policy-making by a few trusted courtiers also opened the way for foreign diplomats to influence policy-making with bribes. Some members of the inner circle performed prodigies of corruption. For instance, Cornelis Musch, the griffier (clerk) of the States-General received 20,000 livres for his services in pushing the French treaty through from Cardinal Richelieu, while the pliable Grand Pensionary Jacob Cats (who had succeeded Adriaan Pauw, the leader of the opposition against the alliance), received 6,000 livres[155]

The Treaty of Alliance that was signed in Paris in February, 1635, committed the Republic to invade the Spanish Netherlands simultaneously with France in 1635. The treaty previewed a partitioning of that country between the two invaders. If the inhabitants would rise against Spain, the Southern Netherlands would be afforded independence on the model of the Cantons of Switzerland, however with the Flemish seacoast, Namur and Thionville annexed by France, and Breda, Geldern and Hulst going to the Republic. If the inhabitants resisted, the country would be partitioned outright, with the Francophone provinces and western Flanders going to France, and the remainder to the Republic. The latter partitioning opened the prospect that Antwerp would be re-united with the Republic, and the Scheldt reopened for trade on that city, something Amsterdam was very much opposed to. The treaty also provided that the Catholic religion would be preserved in its entirety in the provinces to be apportioned to the Republic. This provision was understandable from the French point of view, as the French government had recently suppressed the Huguenots in their strongpoint of La Rochelle (with support of the Republic), and generally was reducing Protestant privileges. It enraged the radical Calvinists in the Republic, however. The treaty was not popular in the Republic for those reasons[156]

Siege of the Schenkenschans by Gerrit van Santen

Dividing up the Spanish Netherlands proved more difficult than foreseen, however. Olivares had drawn up a strategy for this two-front war, that proved very effective. Spain went on the defensive against the French forces that invaded in May, 1635 and successfully held them at bay. The Cardinal-Infante brought his full offensive forces to bear on the Dutch, however, in hopes of knocking them out of the war in an early stage, after which France would soon come to terms herself, it was hoped. The Army of Flanders now again numbered 70,000 men, at least at parity with the Dutch forces. Once the force of the double invasion by France and the Republic had been broken, these troops emerged from their fortresses and attacked the recently-conquered Dutch areas in a pincer movement. In July, 1635 Spanish troops from Geldern captured the strategically-essential fortress of the Schenkenschans. This was situated on an island in the Rhine near Cleves and dominated the "back door" into the Dutch heartland along the north bank of the river Rhine. Cleves itself was soon captured by a combined Imperialist-Spanish force and Spanish forces overran the Meierij[157]

The Republic could not let the capture of the Schenkenschans stand. Frederick Henry therefore concentrated a huge force to besiege the fortress even during the winter months of 1635. Spain held tenaciously on to the fortress and its strategic corridor through Cleves. She hoped that the pressure on this strategic point, and the threat of unhindered invasion of Gelderland and Utrecht, would force the Republic to give in. The planned Spanish invasion never materialized, however, as the stadtholder forced the surrender of the Spanish garrison in Schenkenschans in April, 1636. This was a severe blow for Spain.[158]

The next year, thanks to the fact that the Cardinal-Infante shifted the focus of his campaign to the French border in that year, Frederick Henry managed to recapture Breda with a relatively small force, at the successful fourth Siege of Breda, (21 July – 11 October 1637). This operation, which engaged his forces for a full season, was to be his last success for a long time, as the peace party in the Republic, over his objections, managed to cut war expenditure and shrink the size of the Dutch army. These economies were pushed through despite the fact that the economic situation in the Republic had improved appreciably in the 1630s, followingthe economic slump of the 1620s caused by the Spanish embargoes. The Spanish river blockade had ended in 1629. The end of the Polish–Swedish War (1626–1629) ended the disruption of Dutch Baltic trade. The outbreak of the Franco-Spanish War (1635) closed the alternate trade route through France for Flemish exports, forcing the South to pay the heavy Dutch wartime tariffs. Increased German demand for foodstuffs and military supplies[159] as a consequence of military developments in that country, contributed to the economic boom in the Republic, as did successes of the VOC in the Indies and the WIC in the Americas (where the WIC had gained a foothold in Portuguese Brazil after its 1630 invasion, and now conducted a thriving sugar trade). The boom generated much income and savings, but there were few investment possibilities in trade, due to the persisting Spanish trade embargoes. As a consequence, the Republic experienced a number of speculative bubbles in housing, land (the lakes in North Holland were drained during this period) and, notoriously, tulips. Despite this economic upswing, which translated into increased fiscal revenues, the Dutch regents showed little enthusiasm for maintaining the high level of military expenditures of the middle 1630s. The échec of the Battle of Kallo of June, 1638 did little to get more support for Frederick Henry's campaigns in the next few years. These proved unsuccessful; his colleague-in-arms Hendrik Casimir, the Frisian stadtholder[160] died in battle during the unsuccessful siege of Hulst in 1640[161]

Elsewhere, the Republic gained great victories, however. The war with France had closed the Spanish Road for Spain, making it difficult to bring up reinforcements from Italy. Olivares therefore decided to send 20,000 troops by sea from Spain in a large armada. This fleet was destroyed by the Dutch navy under Maarten Tromp and Witte Corneliszoon de With in the Battle of the Downs of October 31, 1639. This left little doubt that the Republic now possessed the strongest navy in the world, also because the Royal Navy was forced to stand by impotently while the battle raged in English territorial waters.[162].

Endgame (1640-1648)

Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen by Jan de Baen

The war overseas was going well for the Republic also. It was mainly fought by the proxies, the VOC and WIC, that had been given quasi-sovereign rights to wage war and conclude treaties on behalf of the Republic. After the invasion of Portuguese Brazil by a WIC amphibious force in 1630, the extent of New Holland, as the colony was called, grew gradually, especially under its governor-general Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen, in the period 1637-1644. It stretched from the Amazon river to Fort Maurits on the São Francisco River. Soon a large number of sugar plantations flourished in this area, enabling the company to dominate the European sugar trade. The colony was the base for conquests of Portuguese possessions in Africa also (due to the peculiarities of the trade winds that make it convenient to sail to Africa from Brazil in the Southern Hemisphere). Beginning in 1637 with the conquest of Portuguese Elmina Castle, the WIC gained control of the Gulf of Guinea area on the African coast, and with it of the hub of the slave trade to the Americas. In 1641, a WIC expedition sent from Brazil under command of Cornelis Jol conquered Portuguese Angola. The Spanish island of Curaçao (with important salt production) was conquered in 1634, followed by a number of other Caribbean islands.[163]

The WIC empire in Brazil started to unravel, however, when the Portuguese colonists in its territory started a spontaneous insurrection in 1645. It should be emphasized that by that time the official war with Portugal was over, as Portugal itself had risen against the Spanish crown in December, 1640. The Republic soon concluded a ten-year truce with Portugal, but this was limited to Europe. The overseas war was not affected by it. By the end of 1645 the WIC had effectively lost control of north-east Brazil. There would be temporary reversals after 1648, when the Republic sent a naval expedition, but by then the Eighty Years' War was over.[164]

In the Far East the VOC captured three of the six main Portuguese strongholds in Portuguese Ceylon in the period 1638-41, in alliance with the king of Kandy. In 1641 Portuguese Malacca was conquered. Again, the main conquests of Portuguese territory would follow after the end of the war.[165]

The results of the VOC in the war against the Spanish possessions in the Far East were less impressive. The battles of Playa Honda in the Philippines in 1610, 1617 and 1624 resulted in defeats for the Dutch. An expedition in 1647 under Maarten Gerritsz. de Vries equally ended in a number of defeats in the Battle of Puerto de Cavite and the Battles of La Naval de Manila. However, these expeditions were primarily intended to harass Spanish commerce with China and capture the annual Manila galleon, not (as is often assumed) to invade and conquer the Philippines.[166]

The revolts in Portugal and Catalonia, both in 1640, weakened Spain's position appreciably. Henceforth there would be increasing attempts by Spain to commence peace negotiations. These were initially rebuffed by the stadtholder, who did not wish to endanger the alliance with France. Cornelis Musch, as griffier of the States-General, intercepted all correspondence the Brussels government attempted to send to the States on the subject (and was lavishly compensated for these efforts by the French).[167] Frederick Henry also had an internal political motive to deflect the peace feelers, though. The regime, as it had been founded by Maurice after his coup in 1618, depended on the emasculation of Holland as a power center. As long as Holland was divided the stadtholder reigned supreme. Frederick Henry also depended for his supremacy on a divided Holland. At first (up to 1633) he therefore supported the weaker moderates against the Counter-Remonstants in the States of Holland. When the moderates gained the upper hand after 1633, he shifted his stance to support of the Counter-Remonstrants and the war party. This policy of "divide and conquer" enabled him to achieve a monarchical position in all but name in the Republic. He even strengthened it, when after the death of Hendrik Casimir, he deprived the latter's son William Frederick, Prince of Nassau-Dietz of the stadtholderates of Groningen and Drenthe in an unseemly intrigue. William Frederick only received the stadtholderate of Friesland and Frederick Henry after 1640 was stadtholder in the other six provinces.[168]

But this position was only secure as long as Holland remained divided. And after 1640 the opposition to the war more and more united Holland. The reason, as often in the Republic's history was money: the Holland regents were less and less inclined, in view of the diminished threat from Spain, to finance the huge military establishment the stadtholder had built up after 1629. Especially as this large army brought disappointing results anyway: in 1641 only Gennep was captured. The next year Amsterdam succeeded in getting a cutback of the army from over 70,00 to 60,000 accepted over the stadtholder's objections.[169]

The Holland regents continued their attempts at whittling down the stadtholder's influence by breaking up the system of secrete besognes in the States-General. This helped wrest influence from the stadtholder's favorites, who dominated these committees. It was an important development in the context of the general peace negotiations which the main participants in the Thirty Years' War (France, Sweden, Spain, the Emperor and the Republic) started in 1641 in Münster and Osnabrück. The drafting of the instructions for the Dutch delegation occasioned spirited debate and Holland made sure that she was not barred from their formulation. The Dutch demands that were eventually agreed upon were:

  • cession by Spain of the entire Meierij district;
  • recognition of Dutch conquests in the Indies (both East and West);
  • permanent closure of the Scheldt to Antwerp commerce;
  • tariff concessions in the Flemish ports; and
  • lifting of the Spanish trade embargoes.[170]

While the peace negotiations were progressing at a snail's pace, Frederick Henry managed a last few military successes: in 1644 he captured Sas van Gent and Hulst in what was to become States Flanders. In 1646, however, Holland, sick of the feet-dragging in the peace negotiations, refused to approve the annual war budget, unless progress was made in the negotiations. Frederick Henry now gave in and began to promote the peace progress, instead of frustrating it. Still, there was so much opposition from other quarters (the partisans of France in the States-General, Zeeland, Frederick Henry's son William) that the peace could not be concluded before Frederick Henry's death on March 14, 1647.[171]

The Peace of Münster

The negotiations between Spain and the Republic formally started in January, 1646 as part of the more general peace negotiations between the warring parties in the Thirty Years' War. The States-General sent eight delegates from several of the provinces as none trusted the others to represent them adequately. They were Willem van Ripperda (Overijssel), Frans van Donia (Friesland), Adriaen Clant tot Stedum (Groningen), Adriaen Pauw and Jan van Mathenesse (Holland), Barthold van Gent (Gelderland), Johan de Knuyt (Zeeland), and Godert van Reede (Utrecht). The Spanish delegation was led by Gaspar de Bracamonte, 3rd Count of Peñaranda. The negotiations were held in what is now the Haus der Niederlande in Münster.

The Dutch and Spanish delegations soon reached an agreement, that was based on the text of the Twelve Years' Truce. It therefore confirmed Spain's recognition of Dutch independence. The Dutch demands (closure of the Scheldt, cession of the Meierij, formal cession of Dutch conquests in the Indies and Americas, and lifting of the Spanish embargoes) were generally met. However, the general negotiations between the main parties dragged on, because France kept formulating new demands. Eventually it was decided therefore to split off the peace between the Republic and Spain from the general peace negotiations. This enabled the two parties to conclude what technically was a separate peace (to the annoyance of France that maintained that this contravened the alliance treaty of 1635 with the Republic).

Swearing of the Peace of Münster by Gerard ter Borch

The text (in 79 articles) of the Treaty was fixed on January 30, 1648. It was then sent to the principals (king Philip IV of Spain and the States-General) for ratification. Five provinces voted (against the advice of stadtholder William) to ratify on April 4 (Zeeland and Utrecht being opposed). Utrecht finally yielded to pressure by the other provinces but Zeeland held out and refused to sign. It was eventually decided to ratify the peace without Zeeland's consent. The delegates to the peace conference affirmed the peace on oath on May 15, 1648 (though the delegate of Zeeland refused to attend, and the delegate of Utrecht suffered a possibly diplomatic illness).[172]

In the broader context of the treaties between France and the Holy Roman Empire, and Sweden and the Holy Roman Empire of October 14 and 24, 1648, which comprise the Peace of Westphalia, but which were not signed by the Republic, the Republic now also gained formal "independence" from the Holy Roman Empire, just like the Swiss Cantons. In both cases this was just a formalization of a situation that had already existed for a long time.

France and Spain did not conclude a treaty and so remained at war till the peace of the Pyrenees of 1659.

The peace was celebrated in the Republic with sumptuous festivities. It was solemny promulgated on the 80th anniversary of the execution of the Counts of Egmont and Horne on June 5, 1648.


Soon after the conclusion of the peace the political system of the Republic entered a crisis. The same forces that had sustained the Oldenbarnevelt regime in Holland, and that had been so thoroughly shattered after Maurice's 1618 coup, had finally coalesced again around what was to become known as the States-Party faction. This faction had slowly been gaining prominence during the 1640s until they had forced Frederick Henry to support the peace. And now they wanted their peace dividend. The new stadtholder, William II, on the other hand, far less adept as a politician than his father, hoped to continue the predominance of the stadtholderate and the Orangist faction (mostly the aristocracy and the Counter-Remonstrant regents) as in the years before 1640. Above all, he wanted to maintain the large wartime military establishment, even though the peace made that superfluous. The two points of view were irreconcilable. When the States-Party regents started to cut down the size of the standing army to a peace-time complement of about 30,000, a struggle for power in the Republic ensued. In 1650 the stadtholder finally followed the path of his uncle Maurice and seized power in a coup d'état. However, a few months later he lay dead of smallpox. The power-vacuum that followed was quickly filled by the States-Party regents, who founded their new republican regime that has become known as the First Stadtholderless Period.[173]

Thanks to the lifting of the Spanish embargoes, and to the fact that costs to Dutch merchants and shippers appreciably declined after the peace, because the expensive convoys were no longer necessary and the rates of maritime insurance declined, Dutch trade on the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean exploded in the decade after the peace, as did trade in general, because trade patterns in all European areas were so tightly interlocked via the hub of the Amsterdam Entrepôt. Dutch trade in this period reached its pinnacle; it came to completely dominate that of competing powers, like England, that had only a few years previously profited greatly from the handicap the Spanish embargoes posed to the Dutch. Now the greater efficiency of Dutch shipping had a chance to be fully translated into shipping prices, and the competitors were left in the dust. The structure of European trade therefore changed fundamentally in a way that was advantageous to Dutch trade, agriculture and industry. One could truly speak of Dutch primacy in world trade. This not only caused a significant boom for the Dutch economy, but also much resentment in neighboring countries, like first the Commonwealth of England and later France. Soon, the Republic was embroiled in military conflicts with these countries, which culminated in their joint attack on the Republic in 1672. They almost succeeded in destroying the Republic in that year, but the Republic rose from its ashes and by the turn of the century, she was one of the two European power centers, together with the France of Louis XIV of France.[174]

Spain had been a great power when the war started, and emerged from the war still a great power. It is true, however, that the success of the Dutch Republic in its struggle to get away from the Spanish Crown had damaged its Reputación, a concept that according to Olivares' biographer J.H Elliot[175] strongly motivated that statesman. The theory that "imperial overstretch" in the pursuit of Reputación eventually brought about the downfall of Spain as a great power probably does not hold water[176], but it seems plausible that the proof of the fact that Spain could be beaten encouraged other countries (like Portugal in 1640) to also challenge the might of the Crown. Immediately after the peace the Spanish Army of Flanders was still a force to be reckoned with, as France experienced in the continuing war with Spain. Only after the English Commonwealth had joined France in war with Spain did Spain have to give in. Only after the 1659 peace ending that war was the Army of Flanders rapidly drawn down. Thereafter Spain had to depend on the Republic to help it defend the Southern Netherlands against French encroachment, as in the War of Devolution and later conflicts. It is perhaps remarkable that Spain and the Republic were such staunch allies after having fought so tenaciously and for so long.

Portugal was no party in the peace and the war overseas between the Republic and that country resumed fiercely after the expiration of the ten-year truce of 1640. In Brazil and Africa the Portuguese managed to reconquer most of the territory lost to the WIC in the early 1640s after a long struggle. However, this occasioned a short war in Europe in the years 1657-60, during which the VOC completed its conquests in Ceylon and the coastal areas of the Indian subcontinent. Portugal was forced to indemnify the WIC for its losses in Brazil.[177]

See also

History of the Netherlands
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  1. ^ The Dutch States-General, for dramatic effect, decided to promulgate the ratification of the Peace of Münster (which was actually ratified by them on May 15, 1648) on the 80th anniversary of the execution of the Counts of Egmont and Horne, June 5, 1648. See Maanen, H. van (2002), Encyclopedie van misvattingen, Boom, p. 68. ISBN 9053528342.
  2. ^ Technically they formed the Burgundian Circle that under the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 was to be transferred as a unit in hereditary succession in the House of Habsburg.
  3. ^ the Council of State, Privy Council and Council of Finances
  4. ^ Cf. Koenigsberger, pp. 184-192
  5. ^ Unless otherwise indicated, "Netherlands," and "Netherlandish" refer here to the entire area of the Habsburg Netherlands and its inhabitants, whereas "Dutch Republic" and "Dutch" will refer to the country, currently known as The Netherlands, and its inhabitants
  6. ^ Tracy, p. 66
  7. ^ Tracy, p. 68
  8. ^ Tracy, pp. 68-69
  9. ^ Tracy, pp. 69-70
  10. ^ Tracy, pp. 71-72
  11. ^ Tracy, p. 72
  12. ^ Tracy, pp. 77-78
  13. ^ The principality of Orange in present-day France at the time was an independent fief of the Empire.
  14. ^ As a matter of fact, the English probably welcomed the opportunity to obtain cargo and ships at fire-sale prices, when the privateers came to dispose of their prizes; the arrangement was mutually beneficial.
  15. ^ Tracy, p. 78
  16. ^ Tracy, pp. 78-79
  17. ^ Parker, pp. 118–120; Parker discusses the financial difficulties the Spanish Crown almost continually encountered, when it often had to fight several wars at the same time as the war in the Netherlands, which forced it to declare bankruptcy several times; see Parker, ch. 6, Financial Resources
  18. ^ Tracy, p. 77
  19. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 167-168
  20. ^ Israel (1995), p. 168
  21. ^ Tracy, p. 80
  22. ^ Tracy, pp. 80-81
  23. ^ The titles of Marquess of Veere and Vlissingen allowed him to become "First Noble" of Zeeland, and entitled him to a seat in the States of Zeeland.
  24. ^ Tracy, p. 82
  25. ^ Israel (1995), p. 175
  26. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 174-175
  27. ^ Tracy, p. 83
  28. ^ Israel (1995), p. 177
  29. ^ Israel (1995), p. 178; Tracy, p. 86
  30. ^ Israel (1995), p. 178
  31. ^ a b Tracy, p. 92
  32. ^ Tracy, pp. 92-93
  33. ^ Israel (1995), p. 180
  34. ^ Tracy, p. 95
  35. ^ Tracy, pp. 96-97
  36. ^ Tracy, p. 97
  37. ^ a b Tracy, p. 99
  38. ^ Israel (1995), p. 181
  39. ^ Koenigsberger, p. 262; Parker, p.127; Parker mentions that Spain had to default on its loans in 1560 (after a war with France), 1575, 1596, 1607, 1627, 1647 and 1653, every time putting the war effort in jeopardy; the 1575 default led directly to the 1576 mutiny of foreign troops in the Army of Flanders, Parker, p. 127
  40. ^ Koenigsberger, pp. 260-272; Tracy, pp. 135-136
  41. ^ Tracy, pp. 137-138
  42. ^ a b Tracy, p. 138
  43. ^ Israel (1995), p. 195
  44. ^ The system of "contributions" Requesens adopted in 1574 outside the areas where regular taxes could be collected, helped to augment revenue from the Netherlands (though it did not help avert the mutiny of 1576). Parma later "improved" on this system of forced contributions by regularizing the arbitrary exactions of the Spanish troops in the form of brandschattingen, to a system of formalized extortions, in which communities paid "protection money" to the Spanish "superintendent of contributions" to avoid being sacked, Parker, pp. 120–122
  45. ^ Tracy, p. 141
  46. ^ Tracy, p. 142
  47. ^ In old Dutch the word for "garden" often means "fence."
  48. ^ Tracy, pp. 149-150
  49. ^ Tracy, p. 150
  50. ^ Tracy, p. 152
  51. ^ Tracy, p. 153-154
  52. ^ Tracy, p. 156
  53. ^ Tracy, p. 159; Israel (1995), pp. 191-192
  54. ^ The treaty is often called the "constitution" of the Dutch Republic. This is only partially true, however. This "constitution" in the main consisted of the constitutional framework that had organically grown in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands in the previous decades, which structure was simply retained by the Republic. However, the articles of the treaty provided additional building blocks for the constitution by providing an explicit framework for the budding Confederation.
  55. ^ Ironically, Jan van Nassau was reluctantly accepted by the anti-Orange and anti-Holland bloc in the Gelderland States, because they mistook him for a Lutheran moderate, and as such a bulwark against Calvinist encroachments; Israel (1995), p. 191
  56. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 193-196
  57. ^ Koenigsberger, pp. 290-291
  58. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 201-202
  59. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 205-208
  60. ^ Israel (1995), p. 208
  61. ^ The role of the Archduke Matthias as nominal governor-general had now become superfluous, and he was bought off with a generous annuity in March;Israel (1995), pp. 208-209
  62. ^ Though Van Gelderen maintains that the Dutch versions actually antedate the monarchomach publications; Van Gelderen, pp. 269-276
  63. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 209-211
  64. ^ a b Israel (1995), p. 212
  65. ^ Tracy, pp. 168-169
  66. ^ Israel (1995), p. 213
  67. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 213-214
  68. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 214-216
  69. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 218-219
  70. ^ Israel (1995), p. 219
  71. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 219-220
  72. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 221-222
  73. ^ Orange's eldest son, Philip William, now the Prince of Orange, was in Spanish hands; the second son Justinus van Nassau, was illegitimate.
  74. ^ Israel (1995), p. 224
  75. ^ Israel (1995), p. 225-226
  76. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 228-230
  77. ^ Entitled in translation:Short exposition of the right exercised from old times by the knighthood, nobles and towns of Holland and Westvriesland for the maintenance of the liberties, rights, privileges and laudable customs of the country; Van Gelderen, p. 204
  78. ^ Van Gelderen, p. 209; Koenigsberger, pp. 308-310
  79. ^ Van Gelderen, pp. 206-207
  80. ^ Koenigsberger, p. 313
  81. ^ Israel (1995), p. 234
  82. ^ Glete, pp. 145-155
  83. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 235-237
  84. ^ Israel (1995), p. 237
  85. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 238-240
  86. ^ Israel, J.I. and Parker, G. (1991) "Of Providence and Protestant Winds: the Spanish Armada of 1588 and the Dutch armada of 1688," in: The Anglo-Dutch moment. Essays on the Glorious Revolution and its world impact. Cambridge U.P., ISBN 0-521-39075-3, pp. 349-351
  87. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 267-271; Glete, pp. 155-162
  88. ^ It grew from 20,000 in 1588 to 32,000 by 1595; Israel (1995), p. 242
  89. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 241-245
  90. ^ In later years, Groningen, like the other provinces would itself appoint its stadtholder.
  91. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 246-250
  92. ^ Israel (1995), p. 253
  93. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 253-257
  94. ^ Thanks mainly to its easily memorable date, this battle is one of the few most Dutchmen are able to recite. Together with Turnhout this was one of the few pitched battles the States Army was able to win. However, remember who won the war: Jemmingen, Jodoigne and Gembloux never seemed to afford Spain a decisive advantage.
  95. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 258-259
  96. ^ Israel (1995), p. 260
  97. ^ Israel (1995), p. 261-262
  98. ^ Israel (1995), p. 263 map
  99. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 263-267; Glete, p. 155
  100. ^ Spain proper had a population of nearly 8 million.
  101. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 399-401
  102. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 402
  103. ^ The Republic formed an alliance with Sweden and the Hanseatic League to force Denmark to lower its tolls in 1613;Israel (1995), p. 406
  104. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 403-404
  105. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 404-405
  106. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 405-406
  107. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 409-410, 437
  108. ^ Maurice, for instance, admitted as much; Israel (1995), p. 433; however, he became an unlikely early sympathizer with the Counter-Remonstrant tendency, in view of his promiscuous life-style that often contravened their moral strictures; Israel (1995), p. 462
  109. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 421-426
  110. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 424-432
  111. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 434-438
  112. ^ This was a Dutch bastardization of the German word "Warte Gelt," or "retainer," and at the time was a general Dutch designation for "mercenary."
  113. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 438-443
  114. ^ He had succeeded his half-brother Philip William as Prince of Orange, after the latter's death in February, 1618
  115. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 443-448
  116. ^ The Generality, other than the individual provinces, did not have a judicial branch. In cases where using the court system of, for instance, Holland was not possible the States-General therefore commissioned special courts. In itself, this was not unusual. It need not imply that the trial would be unfair.
  117. ^ College of Nobles; this was the co-opting college that represented the Holland nobles in the States, with one vote.
  118. ^ Oldenbarnevelt's title of Advocate was now abolished and replaced with this new title.
  119. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 448-456, 458
  120. ^ Beside a number of Dutch theologians there were delegations of the sister-churches in England, Scotland and Switzerland; even James I took a personal interest.
  121. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 456-459, 460-465
  122. ^ A few years later Oldenbarnevelt's sons conspired to kill Maurice in revenge and one of them was sentenced to death. This time Oldenbarnevelt's widow pleaded for mercy. When asked why she had not done this in the case of her husband, she replied that her son was guilty, but her husband had been innocent. [1]
  123. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 458-459
  124. ^ Motley, J.L. (1874) The Life and Death of John of Barneveld: Advocate of Holland. Vol. 2, p. 392
  125. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 407-408
  126. ^ Frederick was the son of Maurice's half-sister Countess Louise Juliana of Nassau
  127. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 465-469
  128. ^ The Duke of Lerma had been replaced by his son in 1618
  129. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 469-471
  130. ^ Israel (1995), p. 471
  131. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 472-473
  132. ^ Under the terms of the Will of Philip II the pretended sovereignty over the Netherlands now reverted to Philip III.
  133. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 473-474
  134. ^ Israel (1990), pp. 3-7
  135. ^ Israel (1990), pp. 8-10
  136. ^ Israel (1990), pp. 11-15
  137. ^ Israel (1990), pp. 21-22
  138. ^ Israel (1990), pp. 15-18
  139. ^ Israel, pp. 20-21
  140. ^ Israel (1990), pp. 23-24
  141. ^ Israel (1990), pp. 25-27
  142. ^ Israel (1990), pp. 32-33
  143. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 480-481
  144. ^ Israel (1995), p. 479-480, 483-484
  145. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 485-496
  146. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 497-499
  147. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 506-507
  148. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 508-513
  149. ^ Israel (1995), p. 513
  150. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 515-516
  151. ^ Israel (1995), p. 517
  152. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 518-519
  153. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 521-523
  154. ^ Glete, pp. 204, 208
  155. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 523-527
  156. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 527-528
  157. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 528-529
  158. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 529-530
  159. ^ The Republic functioned as the main arsenal for the Protestant forces during the Thirty Years' War; Puype, P.J., Hoeven, M. van der (1996) The Arsenal of the World: The Dutch Arms Trade in the Seventeenth Century, Batavian Lion International, ISBN 9067074136
  160. ^ Hendrik Casimir succeeded his father Ernst Casimir as stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe in 1632.
  161. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 530-536
  162. ^ Israel (1995), p. 537
  163. ^ Israel (1995), p. 934
  164. ^ Israel (1995), p. 935
  165. ^ Israel (1995), p. 936
  166. ^ Cf. Roessingh, M. (1968) "Nederlandse betrekkingen met de Philippijnen," in: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde, jrg. 124, no. 3, pp. 482-504
  167. ^ Israel (1995), p. 540
  168. ^ Israel (1995) pp. 538-539
  169. ^ Israel (1995), p. 541
  170. ^ Israel (1995), p. 542
  171. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 544-546
  172. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 596-597
  173. ^ Israel (1995), pp. 597-609
  174. ^ Israel (1989), pp. 197-292
  175. ^ Elliot, J.H. (1986) The Count-Duke of Olivares. The Statesman in an Age of Decline. Yale University, New Haven and London
  176. ^ Glete, pp. 96-100
  177. ^ Israel (1989), pp. 248-250


  • Gelderen, M. van (2002), The Political Thought of the Dutch Revolt 1555-1590, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-89163-9
  • Glete, J. (2002),War and the State in Early Modern Europe. Spain, the Dutch Republic and Sweden as Fiscal-Military States, 1500–1660, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-22645-7
  • Israel, Jonathan (1989), Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585–1740, Clarendon Press, ISBN 0-19-821139-2
  • Israel, Jonathan (1990), Empires and Entrepôts: The Dutch, the Spanish Monarchy, and the Jews, 1585–1713, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 1852850221
  • Israel, Jonathan (1995), The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477–1806, Clarendon Press, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-873072-1
  • Koenigsberger, H.G. (2001), Monarchies, States Generals and Parliaments: The Netherlands in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 928-0-521-04437-0
  • Parker, G. (2004) The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road 1567–1659. Second edition. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-54392-7 paperback
  • Tracy, J.D. (2008), The Founding of the Dutch Republic: War, Finance, and Politics in Holland 1572–1588, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-920911-8

External links

Simple English

The Eighty Years' War, also called Dutch Revolt, was a war between the modern Netherlands and Spain. It lasted from 1568 to 1648. The Netherlands achieved independence in the Eighty Years' War.


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