In the Eighty Years’ War, the Spanish capture the strategic Dutch fortress of Schenkenschans.
The Eighty Years’ War, also known as the Dutch War of Independence or the Dutch Revolt, was a conflict that lasted from 1568 to 1648, spanning eighty years (hence the name). It primarily took place in the Low Countries, which is modern-day Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
The war was triggered by a combination of political, religious, and economic factors. The Low Countries were part of the Spanish Habsburg Empire ruled by King Philip II of Spain. The region was experiencing growing tensions due to Philip’s attempts to centralize power and impose Catholicism, which clashed with the Protestant Reformation gaining popularity in the area. The Dutch people, who were predominantly Protestant, felt oppressed by the Spanish Catholic rule and sought to defend their religious freedom and political autonomy.
1566: The conflict began with the start of the Iconoclastic Fury when Calvinist Protestants in the Low Countries launched a wave of iconoclastic attacks on Catholic churches and religious symbols.
1568: The military phase of the war began when William of Orange, a leading nobleman and supporter of the Dutch cause, raised an army and started a series of military campaigns against Spanish forces.
1579: The Union of Utrecht was formed, which united several northern provinces in the Low Countries and solidified their resolve to fight against Spanish rule.
1581: The Act of Abjuration was issued by the northern provinces, which formally declared their independence from Spanish rule and deposed King Philip II as their ruler.
1609-1621: A Twelve-Year Truce interrupted the war temporarily, during which the northern provinces maintained their de facto independence.
1621-1648: The war resumed in 1621, and it continued until the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
The war finally came to an end with the Peace of Westphalia, which was a series of treaties that marked the conclusion of several major European conflicts, including the Eighty Years’ War. According to the terms of the treaty, the northern provinces of the Low Countries were officially recognized as an independent state known as the Dutch Republic (the Netherlands). The southern provinces remained under Spanish control and would eventually become modern-day Belgium.
The Dutch Republic emerged as a prosperous and influential maritime power in the following centuries, playing a significant role in global trade and exploration during the Age of Exploration and beyond. The war also had broader implications for religious freedom and state sovereignty in Europe, contributing to the principle of state sovereignty and the decline of religious wars.