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Siege of Breda (1624)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Siege of Breda
Part of the Eighty Years' War, Anglo-Spanish War and the Thirty Years' War
Velázquez - de Breda o Las Lanzas (Museo del Prado, 1634-35).jpg

The Surrender of Breda by Diego Velázquez. Oil on canvas, 1635.
Date28 August 1624 – 5 June 1625
LocationBreda (present-day the Netherlands)
Result Spanish victory[1][2]
Belligerents
Dutch Republic United Provinces
England England
 Spain
Commanders and leaders
Dutch Republic Maurice of Nassau
Dutch Republic Justin of Nassau
England Horace Vere[3]
England Ernst von Mansfeld[4]
Spain Ambrogio Spinola
Spain Carlos Coloma
Strength
7000 (Dutch garrison)
7000 (Dutch relief force)
7000 (English relief force)
18,000
Casualties and losses
10,000 dead, wounded or captured[1][2] 3,000 dead, wounded or captured
Map of the siege of Breda by Spinola. J.Blaeu.
Map of the siege of Breda by Spinola. J.Blaeu.

The Siege of Breda of 1624–25 occurred during the Eighty Years' War. The siege resulted in Breda, a Dutch fortified city, falling into the control of the Army of Flanders.

Following the orders of Ambrogio Spinola, Philip IV's army laid siege to Breda in August 1624. The siege was contrary to the wishes of Philip IV's government because of the already excessive burdens of the concurrent Eighty and Thirty Years' wars. The strategically located city was heavily fortified and strongly defended by a large and well prepared garrison of 7,000 men, that the Dutch were confident would hold out long enough to wear down besiegers while awaiting a relief force to disrupt the siege. Yet despite the Spanish government's opposition to major sieges in the Low Countries and the obstacles confronting any attack on such a strongly fortified and defended city, Spinola launched his Breda campaign, rapidly blocking the city's defences and driving off a Dutch relief army under the leadership of Maurice of Nassau that had attempted to cut off the Spanish army's access to supplies. In February 1625, a second relief force, consisting of 7,000 English troops under the leadership of Horace Vere and Ernst von Mansfeld, was also driven off by Spinola. After a costly eleven-month siege, Justin of Nassau surrendered Breda on 2 June 1625. Only 3,500 Dutchmen[1] and fewer than 600 Englishmen had survived the siege.[2]

The Siege of Breda is considered Spinola's greatest success and one of Spain's last major victories in the Eighty Years' War. The siege was part of a plan to isolate the Republic from its hinterland, and co-ordinated with Olivare's naval war spearheaded by the Dunkirkers, to economically choke the Dutch Republic. Although political infighting hindered Spinola's freedom of movement, Spain's efforts in the Netherlands continued thereafter. The siege of 1624 captured the attention of European princes and, along with other battles like White Mountain (1620), played a part in the Spanish army regaining the formidable reputation it had held throughout the previous century.

In the latter stages of the combined Eighty and Thirty Years' wars that had greatly strained Spanish resources, Breda was lost to the Dutch under Frederick Henry after a four-month siege. In the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty and Eighty Years' wars, it was ceded to the Dutch Republic.

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  • The Eighty Years War (The Dutch Revolt) Part 2 | History #4
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  • The Eighty Years War (The Dutch Revolt) Part 1 | History #3
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  • Velázquez's The Surrender of Breda 5-minute lesson

Transcription

Hello, wonderful people! This is part 2 of The Eighty Years War, if you haven’t seen part one there should be an annotation on screen right now and a link in the description. Anyway, I’ll be continuing at the end of part one. The years 1629 began the incline of The Eighty Years War. The Spanish force slowly running out of resources began slowly retreating from the Netherlands and giving many cities that they have previously captured back (pause) such as Breda and Utrecht. Seizing there opportunity, The Netherland launch an assault (pause) speeding the Spanish retreat. Around that time Swedish King and general Gustavus II Adolphus landed in Germany after finishing the Polish-Swedish war. From then on King Gustavus began a sort of invasion in Germany. This lead to the Battle of Lutzen which were fought with more than 20 thousand infantry, over 15 thousand calvary and nearly 90 guns. The battle ended with the defeat of the Roman Empire and The Catholic League but at the cost of King Gustavus’s life. The battle of Lutzen in a way launch the decline of The Eighty Years War. By 1640, The Netherland manage to capture all of their previous cities from the Spanish Empire and in the same years Portugal gain independent from the Spanish Empire. In the same years, Catalonia decided to revolt against the Spanish empire and in doing so (pause) allied with France.The year after that an Irish Rebellion started against the English Parliament. The Irish would succeed against the English Parliament due to the help of the Scottish. One year later, Frederick Hendry passed away giving the throne to his son and on the 31 of January 1648 a peace treaty was finally signed officially ending the Eighty Years War permanently. In the end, the Eighty Years War gave Northern Netherlands and Portugal independence which would significantly affect the future. If you're interested to know more about the Eighty Years War (pause) there some links in the description. If you have any suggestion then put it in the comment section! Thanks for watching!

Contents

Reasons

There were several motives for Spinola's siege of Breda. Because the Dutch regularly used the town as a base for raiding Spanish Brabant, the parts of Brabant under royal rule would be better protected if the city were conquered. In addition, neighbouring towns occupied by the States, such as Bergen op Zoom, would be easier to conquer with a foothold in Breda.[5]

In 1590, Breda was captured from the Spanish using the stratagem with the peat boat. The conquest of a well-defended city like Breda would erase this disgrace. More importantly, Spinola personally felt that the failure of the Siege of Bergen-op-Zoom (1622) was a blot on his reputation.[citation needed]

Furthermore, Spain wanted to have a strong position in potential peace negotiations. The conquest of Breda would enable Spain to put forward stronger demands concerning religious freedom for Catholics in the Republic and lifting the blockade of the Scheldt.[citation needed]

Location

Vesting Breda

Breda was one of the strongest cities in the defence of the Republic between the States of Holland and royal Brabant. The city was strategically located on a navigable river, Mark, and near several roads.[6][7]

Henry III of Nassau, Lord of Breda from 1509 to 1538, had been commissioned by Charles V to travel through Europe. In Italy, he came into contact with modern defences. Thus, in 1531 he inspired the construction of the late medieval style walls of Breda. These were later replaced by modern fortifications.[8] In 1587 and 1622, the defences were further expanded and updated.

The Breda fortress consisted of a very high earthen thoroughfare with 15 bastions and a moat. The 55 to 117 meter wide canal[9] was five feet deep and was provided with water from Mark.[10] Access to the city was made possible by four brick gates. Crescent ravelins were applied in the ditches. Hornwork was placed on the gates and at the monastery. Stakewall were built to complicate assault by horsemen and foot soldiers and simultaneously prevent desertion.[11] The fortifications were in excellent condition and served as a state of the art example of fortification.[9]

Painting of the Siege of Breda
Painting of the Siege of Breda

Around Breda, forests formed an obstacle for the cavalry and artillery of any besieging army and the high water level of the Mark posed challenges to attacking infantry. The rivers Mark and Aa and other streams also hampered besiegers. By using an inundation sluice near the Ginnekense gate, the area south of Breda could be put underwater if opened. The north side had a lock near Terheijden that functioned.[12]

Because the States of Holland and West Friesland knew that the Spanish army might attempt to conquer Breda, they left the city with enough food, supplies, and weapons for an eight-month siege. The city council refused to store more food than was necessary for a nine-month siege. Nobody knew what tactics the Spanish army would apply. Therefore, the possibility of a direct assault was also considered. To prevent this, a State army was stationed near Breda with the aim of disrupting any direct assault on the city.[13]

Garrison in Breda

The garrison in Breda consisted of 17 companies in peacetime, each of which consisted of 65 men and 5 cavalry squadrons of 70 riders each. When it was probable that the city would become besieged, the squadrons were supplemented by another 30 riders each; the infantry was supplemented with 28 companies of 135 men. To save food, three squadrons were sent to Geertruidenberg shortly before a siege. The castle held approximately 100 civilians out of the 5,200 soldiers. The male inhabitants of Breda between 20 and 70 years, about 1,800 men, were armed to support the soldiers.[14]

The governor of the city was Justin of Nassau, an illegitimate son of William I, Prince of Orange. His deputy was Dyrcx Cornelis van Oosterhout, but his role was insignificant during the siege.[15]

In addition to the soldiers, others stayed in the city. Ordinary citizens, farmers, spouses and children of soldiers, came to the town to seek protection against the Spanish army. The soldiers' wives were responsible for cooking and washing for the soldiers and caring for the sick and wounded. The total number of inhabitants in the city is estimated at 13,111. They are believed to have been housed in about 1,200 homes.[16]

Spanish Army

Conflicting and incomplete data does not allow for an accurate calculation of the size of the Spanish army. On 30 September the number was probably around 40,000 soldiers and on about 2 May 1625, approximately 80,000 soldiers. 25,000 were encamped along the supply corridor, another 25,000 men were used for the containment of the city, and 30,000 served as general reserves.[17]

According to the text on the map by Blaeu, “[This was] so large an army, as had not been seen in the Netherlands in living memory.”

Percent Nationality Function
38% South Dutch Infantry
24% German Infantry
10% Italian Infantry
9% Spanish Riders
9% Spanish Infantry
5% French Infantry
5% British and Irish Infantry

The composition of the Spanish army was diverse, as shown in the table above. The army consisted primarily of infantry, with a small number of riders. Members of the infantry were equipped with either a rapier and a five metre long pike, or a rapier with a musket; members of the cavalry were equipped with either a lances and two pistols, or a musket and two pistols.[18][19]

The infantry was mainly used for the lines to raise and to guard and defend against an army and State terror against sorties from the city. In the supply corridor, the foot soldiers deployed to protect the convoys. The cavalry was more mobile than the infantry and was therefore mainly used to inspect the area and to protect convoys.[19]

The cannons could fire 10 shots per hour and were operated by gunners. The exact number of the Spanish guns is not precisely known, but there were certainly more than 30.[20] Sappers engaged in building bridges, maintaining roads, and other activities.

The commander of the Spanish army was Ambrogio Spinola, 1st Marquis of the Balbases, a known military strategist from Italy. His deputies were the regimental commanders Hendrik, count van den Bergh, who was also commander of the supply corridor, and John VIII, Count of Nassau-Siegen. Spinola was the commander of the reserve forces until 31 October when he was succeed by Carlos Coloma.

Because of the vastness of Breda, Spinola had his troops divided into four compartments. The four subjects with commanders were:

  1. Ginneken in the south under the command of the Spaniard Francisco Medina
  2. Teteringen in the east under the command of the Burgundian Claude Rye, baron of Balacon
  3. Carthage in the west under the command of the German Ernst, Count of Isenburg
  4. Terheijden in the north, divided into two sectors: Hartel Bergen under the command of Paolo Baglione and Terheijden village under the command of Carlo Roma, both Italians.

In modern literature

The siege of 1624–1625 is the subject of the 1998 novel El sol de Breda (The Sun Over Breda) by the Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte, as part of the Captain Alatriste series. The events of the siege – including both the gruelling fighting with the Dutch and the infighting among the Spanish, including a major mutiny by unpaid Spanish troops – are depicted from the point of view of a boy serving with the Spanish forces. The realistic depiction of war and soldiers' daily life seems influenced by the writer's own long experience as a war correspondent.

The siege appears in the film Alatriste adapted from the novel series.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Duffy, p. 101
  2. ^ a b c Manning, p. 107
  3. ^ Vere, Horace
  4. ^ Gualdo Priorato, Galeazzo: Vite, et azzioni di personaggi militari, e politici. Vienna: Thurnmayer, 1674, p. 367
  5. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. B4
  6. ^ Israel, p. 539
  7. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A17
  8. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A20
  9. ^ a b G. G. van der Hoeven: Geschiedenis der vesting Breda, op Google books Uitgever: Schiedam : Interbook International, [1974]
  10. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A21
  11. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A28
  12. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A29
  13. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A67
  14. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A41
  15. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A40
  16. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A43
  17. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A54
  18. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A46
  19. ^ a b Rooze and Eimermann, p. A47
  20. ^ Rooze and Eimermann, p. A48

References

  • Duffy, Christopher (1996). Siege Warfare: The fortress in the early modern world, 1494–1660. New York, USA: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-14649-4.
  • Manning, por Roger Burrow (2006). An apprenticeship in arms: the origins of the British Army 1585–1702. London, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-926149-9.
  • Rooze, J. P. M.; Eimermann, C. W. A. M. (2005). De belegering van Breda door Spinola 1624–1625 Alphen aan den Rijn: Canaletto/Repro-Holland. ISBN 9064698201.
  • Israel, J. I. (2008). De Republiek / druk 6: 1477–1806 Uitgeverij Van Wijnen. ISBN 9051943377.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 June 2018, at 18:23
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