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"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."
—Revolt Leader William of Orange
The Eighty Years War or the Dutch War of Independence (1568-1648), was a war fought as the name suggests, over the course of eighty years and for the independence of the Dutch Republic (a precursor to modern day Netherlands) against the Spanish Empire. The leaders of the rebellion cited the strict control of the monarchy over the people as their main incentive to rebel, mainly in terms such as freedom of religion, thought and the matter of taxation.
The event that is said to have set off the revolution is the public 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. The two were executed for their resistence to the introduction of The Spanish Inquisition. William the Silent then became the leader of the rebellion and managed to escape execution using charisma and political intelligence until he could go into hiding, though he was later assassinated by a spy.
Subsequently, the Dutch revolt would break out in 1567 leading to the rise of William of Orange. Under his command hostilities between the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Empire. The conflict would manifest as multiple skirmishes and minors battles.
The Dutch Republic was finally given some recognition when the two belligerents contracted the Twelve Years' Truce in 1609. The peace lasted until 1619 when the Thirty Years War broke out, returning the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Empire to opposition as the Dutch intervened. With the resolution of the Thirty Years War, the Dutch gained French allies who aided them in a defense against the Spanish. With the Spanish forces spread far and thin they eventually were cut off from the Dutch. Peace negotiations began January 1646 which eventually lead to a peace agreement.
The war was followed by a slight upheaval of the Dutch Republic's political system. The Spanish Empire's reputation was greatly hurt by the loss, but persevered nonetheless. The war also had little effect on the Spanish-Portuguese war.
The following tropes are used to describe the period and its events:
- Armor Is Useless: The camisados.
- Badass Bookworm: Marquis Spinola. He actually learned to command armies by reading books. Naturally he was also a...
- Badass Spaniard: Well, yeah.
- Bling of War: Since the armies were always moving and soldiers could be drafted for many years, bags and safes were often impractical. Instead, soldiers (specially veteran ones) would walk to the battlefield dressed in fancy clothes plus all their gold in the form of necklaces, rings, bracelets... The bodies of the fallen were extensively pillaged.
- Boring Invincible Hero: The Spanish Tercios remained undefeated in battle till the Battle of the Dunes in 1600, a good century after their creation. When news of the defeat came to Spain, the Royal Court was understandably shocked.
- But Not Too Foreign: The Dutch were happy while the Empire was ruled by Flemish-raised Omniglot Charles V. When he was succeeded by his die-hard Castilian son Philip II, on the other hand...
- Butt Monkey: The Portuguese. United with Spain in 1580, they proceed to lose lots of their colonies to the Dutch in the following years while their Spanish overlords couldn't care less.
- Eagle Squadron: English volunteers. Of course they came on their own. Good Queen Bess did not send them. She always desired the best of friendship with Spain. Didn't she?
- Earth Is a Battlefield: Arguably, the first conflict to be fought over all continents (except, maybe, Oceania).
- Not even that exception. Sir Francis Drake would have sailed through their looking for Plunder
- Elite Mooks: In a effectivity+reliance scale, the Spanish army chain was roughly Catholic Flemish << Germans << Italians << Iberians. Of these, the scary guys were the veterans serving on the Tercios, which usually had a 20+ years old experience and had been serving on the army since they were 13.
- The Empire: Spain
- The Engineer : There were dozens of sieges in this war and star players on both sides were the engineers. As the Dutch lived below sea level and had been centuries fortifying themselves against the ocean it was fairly easy to shift to dealing with mere humans.
- Eyepatch of Power: The smoke produced by the muskets of the time damaged extensively the handler's right eye. If you didn't wear an eyepatch on battle, you certainly would upon retirement.
- Forever War: Well, it lasted "only" 80 years. Then again, the average life expectancy of the time was barely above 40, so it's understandable it felt this way.
- Colleges in Dutch cities had military engineering courses for generations which took for granted the assumption that graduates would right away head for what later ages would call "The Front".
- Consider how it relates to English history. Early on The Spanish Armada was prompted partly because of Elizabeth's (limited) support for the Dutch rebels. Later, the Dutch Republic considered uniting with the English Republic under Cromwell (but ended up fighting them instead). How many wars lasted so long that everyone from the Tudors to the leaders of the English Civil War were peripherally involved in them?
- HAD to Be Sharp: The Spaniards were trained by generations of war against the Moors. The Dutch by living below sea-level and being dependent on the sea for their survival.
- High Octane Nightmare Fuel: That spy that assasinated the Dutch equivalent of the Founding Fathers? He didn't get away. His punishment was... extensive.
- During sieges, surgeons would pay well to any scavenger who brought a goodly supply of human fat scrapped from corpses to use as balm. One doubts that all the fat donors were quite dead when they made the donation.
- Improvised Weapon: Dutch would blow up their dikes to flood Spanish trenches.
- Knight Templar: Phillip II. He absolutely hated Protestants.
- Money, Dear Boy: The German mercenaries on the Spanish lines (called "Tudescos") were on it just for the money, and walked away or revolted as soon as payment didn't arrive as scheduled. In contrast, the Spaniards were noted to continue fighting even after months without pay, and sometimes when they had barely anything left to eat.
- one of the main reason the alliance with queen bess fell through? the guy she send to the netherlands (robert dudley) insisted the dutch merchants stop doing business with the spaniards. the dutch vehemently defended their right to sell weapons to the guys shooting at them.
- More Dakka: Dutch produced lots of cannons. They really liked cannons.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: Many if not most Spanish soldiers did not care at all about the Dutch. In their opinion, if they wanted to be "heretics" and go to Hell it was their problem. They still took the arms on behalf of their king because they understand it was their duty.
- Pirates : Sea Beggers. And of course the Sea Beggers always wanted
- Poor Communication Kills: The anti-Catholic riots known as the 'beeldenstorm' had already been quelled, in part by Willem of Orange himself, by the time Phillip send the Duke of Alba to the Netherlands to restore order, but that news hadn't reached Phillip. A large dose of The Spanish Inquisition later, the rebellion started up again, this time led by that same Willem of Orange.
- Proud Merchant Race: The Dutch
- Proud Warrior Race: The Spaniards
- Rape, Pillage and Burn: What usually happened when a city fell to an army that had been besieging it for months - or years - with little to no pay.
- Rebellious Rebel: Guess who
- The Republic: Dutch
- The Siege: This war had dozens of sieges.
- By coincidence another war had a lot of fighting in this same location. It took roughly the same form.
- The Low Countries had a reputation for being the most fortified region in the world. Centuries of sappers would hone their teeth there.
- The Strategist: Maurice of Nasseu
- Training the warlike burghers: Dutch militia was quite formidable as militias go and had a strong sense of civic loyalty and the knowledge that their families were in for it if the enemy broke through. The Spaniards most definitely had their work cut out for them.
- Unwinnable by Design: Little place over there, way isolated from other Spanish territories, with a north-south orientation, humid, cold, filled with fortresses and dikes, and easy access to mercenaries, markets and alliances in England, France, Germany and Denmark-Norway? Not surprising the modern Spanish view on this issue is pretty much this.
- Urban Warfare
- Virgin Power: Guess Who?
- Warrior Prince: Don Juan of Austria. Commanding here was his "reward" for winning the Battle of Lepanto.