Timeline of the Eighty Years War

Timeline of the Eighty Years’ War.


1500: Birth of Charles V

Charles inherited the hereditary estates of the duke of Burgundy including Franche-Comte, Mechelen, Flanders, Namur, Hainaut, Holland, Zealand, Branbant, part of Limburg and Luxemburg (Parker, 1977).


Charles V conducted sporadic warfare against the duke of Gelre (Parker, 1977).


In Oct 1520 a government edict condemned Lutheranism in the Netherlands and Lutheran books were burnt in Leuven (Parker, 1977).


Holy Roman Empire’s war with France fought in Italy and the Netherlands (Parker, 1977).


Holy Roman Empire’s war with Turkey (Parker, 1977). Spanish troops drove the Turks back in Hungary in 1532 and at Tunis in 1535.

1521: Conquest of Tournai

Charles V conquered Tournai (Parker, 1977).


Charles V and the Pope started a state run ‘Apostolic’ inquisition to supplement the Episcopal institution (Parker, 1977).


Lutheran books were starting to be published in Dutch (Parker, 1977). Other heretics also gained ground in the Netherlands including the Anabaptists and other more fringe movements. The first protestant martyr in the world was burnt in Antwerp in 1523. About 30 martyrs were burnt by 1530 along with many books. Charles V executed at least 2,000 Netherlanders for religious deviation during his reign, mostly Anabaptists.


Charles V annexed Friesland, part of the lands of the duke of Gelre (Parker, 1977).


Charles V annexed Utrecht and Overijssel , part of the lands of the duke of Gelre (Parker, 1977).


Brussels and ‘s Hertogenbosch defied the government (Parker, 1977).


Charles V annexed Groningen, the Ommelanden and Drenthe, part of the lands of the duke of Gelre (Parker, 1977).


Holy Roman Empire’s war with France fought in Italy and the Netherlands (Parker, 1977).


Period of intense religious persecution as a reaction to the Anabaptist ‘Kingdom of Munster’ (Parker, 1977).


Ghent rebelled but was crushed and lost its privileges (Parker, 1977).


Holy Roman Empire’s war with Turkey (Parker, 1977).


Holy Roman Empire’s war with France fought in Italy and the Netherlands (Parker, 1977).


Charles V conquered Cambrai in 1543 (Parker, 1977).

With the Treaty of Venlo (12 Sep 1543) Charles V annexed Gelderland, the remaining lands of the duke of Gelre (Parker, 1977).


Following peace with France at Crépy Charles V and the French King agreed to join forces against heresy (Parker, 1977). This included intensifying persecution and forcibly repatriating any heretics who fled across their mutual border. Charles V then launched a period of intense religious persecution in the Netherlands. Many communities were destroyed and those that survived were more uniform, disciplined and determined. Following this persecution the Anabaptists and Calvinists began to dominate the reform movement in the Netherlands.


Holy Roman Empire’s war with German protestants (Parker, 1977). Spanish troops defeated the Protestants at Muhlberg in 1547.

26 Jun 1548: The ‘Augsburg Transaction’

The Imperial Diet, meeting in Augsburg on 26 Jun 1548, agreed to let Charles V form the Low Countries into a single administrative unit (Parker, 1977). The new entity was physically compact although unity was marred by the presence of the independent principality of Liege in the geographical centre. Cambrai was an exception as it formally remained part of the Holy Roman Empire until 1678. The Hapsburg Netherlands were free from imperial legislation and jurisdiction although they continued to pay taxes and send troops in emergencies.

1549: A ‘United Netherlands’

In Nov 1549 the States (representative assembly) of each province ratified the ‘Pragmatic Sanction’ (Parker, 1977). The sanction ensured all provinces would continue to obey the same ruler and central institutions. Crown Prince Philip of Spain (future Philip II) paid a state visit to the Netherlands and was accepted as the heir apparent.


Charles V’s ‘Blood Edict’ against heresy (Parker, 1977).


The war of 1551-60 was fought against France, the German Protestants and the Turks (Parker, 1977).

The war against France was successful (Parker, 1977). There was a brief period of peace during the Truce of Vaucelles (Feb-Jul 1556). Spanish troops defeated the French at St Quentin (1557) and at Gravelines (13 Jul 1558). The latter resulted in a settlement favourable to Spain in 1559 in the Peace of Cateau-Cambresis.

The war against Turkey didn’t go so well (Parker, 1977). The Turks took Tripoli fairly quickly then Bougie in 1555. In 1558 they mauled a Spanish army outside Oran. In Spring 1560 the Turks successfully ambushed a Spanish expedition to recapture Tripoli and captured 27 galleys and 10,000 men. The Spanish galleys were replaced the next year but many of the men were veterans and irreplaceable.

And what about the German Protestants ??


In Jul 1554 there was serious rioting in Antwerp (Parker, 1977).


Charles V abdicated and power transferred to Philip II (Parker, 1977).

Calvinist began to establish churches under the cross, i.e. in hiding, in the Netherlands (Parker, 1977).


On 10 Jun 1557 Philip II suspended payment to his creditors (Parker, 1977).

13 Jul 1558: Battle of Gravelines

Spanish under Count Egmont routed a French invasion at Gravelines on 13 Jul 1558 (Parker, 1977). This battle effectively ended the latest war with France although the peace was only agreed the following year.


The States-General of the Netherlands voted the “Nine Years’ Aid” in Jan 1559 (Parker, 1977).

Henry II of France died in Jul 1559 and was succeeded by his sickly and indecisive son, Francis II (Parker, 1977). Francis ruled for only 18 months.

Philip II’s “novelties” began to appear, which together threatened local liberties and hence were the underlying cause of the revolt to come (Parker, 1977):

  • Spanish garrisons
  • New bishoprics
  • Persecution of heretics by a special Inquisition

Philip II of Spain departed the Netherlands on 24 Aug 1559 and arrived in Spain 8 Sep (Parker, 1977). He left his half-sister Margaret of Parma as regent and governess-general. He also left 3,000 Spanish veterans in garrison. The States of the provinces refused funds to pay for the Spanish troops who naturally grew restless through 1560.

Philip II married Isabella de Valois, sister of the French King (Parker, 1977).


Francis II of France died in Dec 1560 and was succeeded by his 10 year old brother Charles IX (Parker, 1977). His mother, Catherine de Medici, became regent.

In Nov 1560 Philip II issued a new decree of bankruptcy (Parker, 1977).


With the States denying funds to pay them the Spanish veterans in the Netherlands embarked on 10 Jan 1561 for deployment in the Mediterranean (Parker, 1977). This was a significant victory for the States who then took aim at Philip’s recently announced plans for new bishoprics. The first of the new bishops were appointed in Mar and Aug 1561. Antoine Perrenot, the King’s principal advisor, was appointed archbishop of Mechelen, abbot-designate of Afflinghem in Brabant, and also became Cardinal Granvelle. Resistance was strongest in the provinces annexed by Charles V. Egmont and Orange was offended by the precedence his new title gave Granvelle and on 15 Aug sent the King a letter of protest.

In Aug 1561 Orange married Anna of Saxony (Parker, 1977). Anna was was not favoured by Philip II. She was the daughter of Maurice of Saxony, niece of the Lutheran Elector, Augustus of Saxony, and grand-daughter of the landgrave of Hesse, enemy of the Hapsburgs and Orange’s main creditor. The wedding gave him funds but made Granvelle and enemy and lost him the confidence of the King.


Civil war broke out in France in Jun 1562 between the Catholic house of Guise-Lorraine and the Protestant house of Bourbon (Parker, 1977). Philip II of Spain immediately ordered aid to be sent to the French king: 4,000 veterans from Spain and 1,500 troopers from the bandes d’Ordonnance of the Netherlands. Margaret of Parma, backed by the Netherlands noblemen, declined to send troops into France for fear of a Huguenot response.

25 Spanish galleys were destroyed in a storm off Malaga in Oct 1562 (Parker, 1977).

France began to persecute Protestants with the massacre of Vassy. Many Calvinists fled France to the towns of the southern Netherlands (Parker, 1977).


The magistrates of Brabant convinced Philip that the inquisition that came with the new bishoprics was contrary to their privileges and he postponed the appointment of the bishop of Antwerp until his next visit to the Netherlands (Parker, 1977).

Orange was already provincial governor of Holland, Zealand, and Utrecht but after 1562 he was also governor of Franche-Comte (Parker, 1977). Lamoral, count of Egmont, was governor of the provinces of Flanders, Walloon Flanders, and Artois, but he also had hereditary clients in the eastern lands.

In Apr 1563 the Algiers pirates besieged Spanish held Oran (Parker, 1977). Spain sent a relief expedition at great expense.

In Jun 1563 Denmark declared war on Sweden and the Hanseatic towns (Parker, 1977). Poland and Russia quickly got involved. Baltic trade was seriously impacted with only 10% of the normal shipping reaching the Netherlands. Unemployment increased and bread supplies declined.

From 29 Jul 1563 Orange, Egmont, and Hornes avoided the court in Brussels in protest against Cardinal Granvelle (Parker, 1977). The States of Brabant withheld all taxes until Granvelle went. Margaret of Parma advised Philip to drop Granvelle.

Anglo-Netherlands relationships had become increasingly poor due to piracy in the Channel, harassment by customs officials and a sudden increase in English duty (Parker, 1977). As a result, in Dec 1563, Brussels temporarily banned the import of English goods. This backfired as Elizabeth I of England promptly redirected her wool and cloth exports to Emden in Germany (until Jan 1565) and unemployment soared in Flanders.


Philip II gave into the pressure from the Netherlands and ordered Granvelle to leave in Jan 1564 (Parker, 1977). Granvelle rode out of Brussels on 13 Mar, never to return. Orange, Egmont and Hornes returned to court. The ‘inquisition’ plan was dropped along with other aspects of the new bishops scheme. The States of Brabant voted for an increased grant to the government.

In Sep 1564 a Spanish fleet of 100 galleys attacked and captured the Turkish stronghold of Peñón de Vélez near Tetuan in north Africa (Parker, 1977).

Bad weather made for a cold winter in 1564-5 and a poor harvest in 1565 (Parker, 1977). Bread became even more scarce and expensive. This contributed to the agitation to come.

First Revolt (1565-8)

The main cause of the first revolt was defence of local “liberties” against new “novelties” of Philip II specifically (Parker, 1977):

  • Spanish garrisons
  • New bishoprics
  • Persecution of heretics by a special Inquisition

The specific trigger for revolt was Philip II’s letters from Segovia Wood in Oct 1665 reaffirming the heresy laws (Parker, 1977). The Grandees and a Confederation of the minor nobles opposed these, although the Gr.

The core of the first revolt was in the south Netherlands (Parker, 1977). Although religion played a part most rebels were at least nominally Catholic rather than Calvinist.


Mar – Sep 1565

The Turks besieged, but failed to take, Malta from Mar to 8 Sep 1565 (Parker, 1977).

Oct 1565

In letters from Segovia Wood dated Oct 1565, Philip II ordered the Brussels government to recommence vigorous persecution of heretics (Parker, 1977). This was exactly what the nobles of the Netherlands had been advising against and hence an ultimatum to the nobles.

5 Nov 1565

The letters from Segovia Wood arrived in Brussels on 5 Nov 1565 (Parker, 1977). Margaret of Parma delayed telling the Council of State until 14 Nov so the wedding (12 Nov) of her son, Alexander Farnese, would be unaffected.

Nov-Dec 1565

With little grain arriving from the Baltic bread became too expensive for the poor and bread riots resulted during Nov-Dec in Breda, Mechelen, Ghent, Ter Goes and other locations (Parker, 1977).

Dec 1565

During Dec 1565 a confederation of minor noblemen prepared and signed the Compromise of the Nobility in opposition to the heresy laws (Parker, 1977). The document gained 400 signatures, most from the lesser nobility.

20 Dec 1565

On 20 Dec the council called upon provincial authorities to enforce the king’s persecution orders (Parker, 1977). The grandees did not sign the Compromise but did refuse to implement the heresy laws in their domains. Some resigned their offices in protest.


5 Apr 1566

On 5 Apr 1566 300 armed confederates presented a ‘Request’ for the moderation of the heresy laws to Margaret of Parma (Parker, 1977). The demands were mild but the delivery was revolutionary. Powerless to refuse Margaret gave in.

9 Apr 1566

On 9 Apr Orange, Egmont and Hornes threatened to leave the Netherlands and the service of Philip and go to Germany (Parker, 1977). Margaret, who needed their support against the confederates, persuaded them to stay. A government minister referred to the confederates as ‘les Gueux’ (the Beggars) and the confederates adopted the term for themselves. They began to wear liveries of grey with badges and medals showing a beggar’s scrip. A steady stream of preachers arrived from abroad, along with returned exiles and Protestants newly exiled from France.

May-Jul 1566

In May-Jul open air services Calvinist services began through the western Netherlands (Parker, 1977). The gatherings had up to 30,000 people attendees, sometimes armed.

30 Jul 1566

On 30 Jul the ‘the twelve apostles’ of the confederates delivered a ‘second Request’ to Margaret demanding toleration for non-Catholics (Parker, 1977).

31 Jul 1566

On 31 Jul 1566 Philip abolished the inquisition in the Netherlands and pardoned all participants in the revolt (Parker, 1977). However on the same day he also ordered the recruitment of 13,000 Germans for service in the Netherlands.

Aug 1566

Realising Philip II would send troops into the Netherlands the Confederates began to look for troops of their own from Aug 1566 (Parker, 1977). Attempts in Germany, such as the 1,000 horsemen Louis of Nassau contracted on 30 Aug, were thwarted by a revolt in Saxony. The Emperor raised an army of 20,000 foot and 8,000 horse to combat the rebellion and these troops were tied up until Jun 1567.

Baron Bredarode began to prepare his castle of Vianen for action and raise troops to defend it (Parker, 1977). Bredarode also had a printing press at Vianen which was used to print Dutch versions of Calvinist tracts and other seditious literature.

1 Aug 1566

On 1 Aug 2,000 armed Calvinists, under a returned exile called Sebastian Matte, failed to force an entry into the walled town of Veurne (Parker, 1977).

9 Aug 1566

On 9 Aug Philip ordered money sent to the Netherland to pay the arrears of the 3,000 veteran troops manning the southern frontier and to raise 5,000 Netherlands recruits (Parker, 1977). The recruits were ready by 11 Sep.

Aug-Sep 1566: Iconoclastic fury

Following a sermon by the same Matte on 10 Aug, 20 of the audience smashed all the images in the monastery of St Laurence at Steenvoorde (Parker, 1977). The ‘iconoclastic fury’ continued through Aug-Sep. A hardcore of 50-100 iconoclasts, paid for the by Calvinist consistories of the large towns, did most of the damage. The magistrates depended on the burgher guard (schutters) to enforce Philip’s laws, prevent iconoclasm and stop the open air services (instructions which Margaret’s sent contrary commands about). However the guard of the various towns rarely intervened. The burger guard at Middelburg summed up the general attitude by saying ‘we will not fight for church, pope and monks’. At ‘s Hertogenbosch 400 of the burgher guard actively supported the Calvinists; subsequently they had to flee their homes for their participation. In contrast the burgher guard at Lille, Leuven and Bruges defended the local churches.

23 Aug 1566: Accord

Under mounting pressure Margaret signed the Accord of 23 Aug 1566 which conceded freedom of Protestant worship in any location where it was already occurring (Parker, 1977).

25 Aug 1566

Having achieved their goal the ‘twelve apostles’ dissolved their confederation on 25 Aug (Parker, 1977).

Late Aug – Early Sep 1566

The iconoclasm continued in the north although some Grandees (especially Egmont) and magistrates arrested and executed some of the ringleaders (Parker, 1977). More positively for the reform movement the Grandees (Oranges, Hornes, Egmont), in the name of Margaret but without her approval, conceded permission to the Protestants to worship within the towns, and to both Calvinists and Lutherans (but not Anabaptists) to build churches.

The Grandees had been trying to walk a middle line between the Protestants and Philip II (Parker, 1977). However they were alarmed at the increasing demands of the Calvinists and also the increasing evidence that Philip II was intending to punish them for their part in the troubles. Part of the evidence for the latter was a probably forged letter dated 29 Aug 1566 from Don Frances de Alava to Margaret of Parma. Egmont took the forgery to Margaret refusing to believe that Philip wished them ill. None-the-less further evidence, of Philips military plans and his opinion of the Grandees, continued to arrive from Spain.

Sep 1567

The Turkish Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, died. His successor had to face mutinies in the army and the revolt of some provinces. The Spanish could be sure the Turks would not come west in 1567 and hence it would be safe to strip Italy of her veteran garrison.

13 Sep 1566

On 13 Sep, in letters to Philip II, Margaret disowned concessions made by the Grandees in her name (Parker, 1977).

3-22 Sep 1566: Philip II with Fever

In Spain Philip II fell into a fever from 3-22 Sep 1566 (Parker, 1977). Never fast to make decision this illness delayed decisions about the Netherlands.

Oct 1566

During Oct Calvinists took control of ‘s Hertogenbosch (Parker, 1977).

4 Oct 1566

Upon Philip II’s recovery the political situation seemed supportive for armed intervention in the Netherlands (Parker, 1977). The Turks were busy in the Adriatic and were unlikely to be threat in the west that year. Following Spanish financial support in his defence of Hungary in 1565-6 the Emperor Maximilian was expected to send troops to help in the Netherlands. France and England wouldn’t approve but didn’t look in a position to directly intervene. Consequently on 4 Oct Philip ordered 8,000 veteran Spanish troops in Italy to move to Genoa where another 2,000 recruits from Spain would join them; they were expected in Milan in Nov, ready to march overland to the Netherlands. 6,000 Italians, 24,000 Germans, 2,000 light cavalry, 1,000 men-at-arms and 5,000 heavy cavalry were also mentioned although the full army to be assembled in Luxemburg was expected to be 60,000 foot and 12,000 horse.

17 Oct 1566

With her forces slowly increasing Margaret started taking direct action in the Netherlands from 17 Oct (Parker, 1977). She recalled Hornes in disgrace and ordered provincial governors to punish any Calvinists breaking the Accord of 23 Aug, i.e. worshiping in locations that hadn’t previously had a Calvinist presence.

23 and 29 Oct 1566

During Oct it was clear that the Emperor Maximilian proposed negotiated settlement rather than armed intervention (Parker, 1977). The Spanish council of State rejected Maximilian’s suggestions on 23 Oct. At meetings on 23 and 29 Oct Philip II and his advisors decided to send the veterans over the Spanish road to the Netherlands – passing through Lombardy, Savoy, France-Compte, and Lorraine before entering Luxemburg. A sea route was not possible because the maritime provinces of the Netherlands were controlled by the suspect Grandees – Orange (Holland and Zealand) and Egmont (Flanders). Philip asked permission of the duke of Savoy for 8,000 Spanish foot and 1,200 horse to pass through his territory, appointed ambassadors and commissaries to arrange the veterans travel, and sent surveyors and engineers into the Alps to chart and construct a route for the army.

29 Nov 1566: Captain-General the duke of Alva

Philip offered command of his army to the dukes of Parma and Savoy but neither was interested. Command instead fell to the duke of Alva; he accepted the captain-generalship on 29 Nov (Parker, 1977).

End of Nov 1566

Both Tournai and Valenciennes had large and restless Protestant populations so, at the end of Nov 1566, Margaret decided to impose royalist garrisons on both towns (Parker, 1977).

10 Dec 1566

The Calvinist consistories began to collect a war fund from 10 Dec 1566 to be “employed in paying the troops which the confederates were holding in readiness in Germany for the country’s defence” (p. 93) (Parker, 1977).

4 Dec 1566

On 4 Dec 1566 Margaret ordered a levy of 1,000 soldiers (Parker, 1977).

10-17 Dec 1566

Feeling under threat the Calvinists of the Westkwartier, i.e. western Flanders, began to raise troops (Parker, 1977). They had 700 men on 10 Dec and 1,500 (700 armed) in nine companies by 17 Dec. Each consistory agreed to raise 100 men under a captain and contribute funds.

11 Dec 1566

The Spanish troops from Sicily arrived in Milan on 11 Dec and those from Naples and Sardinia even latter (Parker, 1977). The late appointment of a commander and the late arrival of the troops in Milan meant the expedition was delayed until 1567. The troops wintered in Lombardy although Alva was still in Spain.

14 Dec 1566

The inhabitants of Valenciennes closed the gates to the royalist troops on 14 Dec (Parker, 1977). Tournai also closed its gates but a royal garrison remained in the citadel.

15 Dec 1566

On 15 Dec Margaret declared it a capital offence to attend a ‘Calvinist service’, i.e. once where a sacrament was involved, although ordinary worship was still allowed (Parker, 1977).

17 Dec 1566

On 17 Dec Margaret declared Tournai and Valciennes guilty of treason and rebellion (Parker, 1977). The royalist siege of Valenciennes began the same day. The Calvinist relief force began to gather at Tournai.

26-29 Dev 1566: Battles of Wattrelos and Lannoy

On 26 Dec 1566 band of 200 Calvinist recruits arrived in the village of Wattrelos, 16 km from Tournai and about 14 km to the north-east of Lille (Parker, 1977). Maximilien Vilain, signeur de Rassenghien, the governor of Lille took 400 soldiers from the garrison and 2,000 peasants to attack the Calvinists on 27 Dec. The royalists surprised and routed the Calvinist.

News of the defeat caused confusion in the Calvinist main force at Tournai (Parker, 1977). About 3,000 Calvinists streamed towards Wattrelos, either hoping to surprise Rassenghien or seeking safer refuge. On 28 Dec the Calvinists demanded entry into Lannoy, a town just south of Wattrelos, but the locals refused.

Meanwhile the royalist commander at the siege of Valciennes, baron Noircarmes, took the majority of his siege force, 650 horse and 950 foot, to join Rassenghien (Parker, 1977). The combined royalist force confronted and routed the Calvinists outside Lannoy on 29 Dec. About 600 Calvinists were killed. Noircarmes led his army to Tournai.

The defeats at Wattrelos and Lannoy were the end of the Calvinist movement in west Flanders (Parker, 1977). The Calvinists fled to safer areas of the Netherlands, to England or Germany.


Jan 1567

In Jan 1567 Bredarode was elected the leader of the Beggars, becoming the ‘Grand Gueux’ (Big Beggar) (Parker, 1977). He had effectively been the leader before this so the election was a mere formality. Bredarode had eight companies of infantry at Vianen.

In Jan 1567 the count of Aremburg restored royal authority in Friesland and Groningen (Parker, 1977).

2 Jan 1567: Spanish capture Tournai

On 2 Jan 1567 the magistrates of Tournai laid down their arms and opened the gates to Noircarmes’s army (Parker, 1977). Noircarmes returned to the siege works at Valciennes.

2 Feb 1567

On 2 Feb Bredarode asked for a safe conduct to present a new Request in Brussels (Parker, 1977). Margaret refused.

Early Feb 1567

In early Feb Bredarode recruited about 3,000 men in Antwerp (Parker, 1977). They gathered in a small fortified camp at the village of Oosterweel just outside the walls of the city. Jean Marnix was the leader.

Mid Feb 1567

In mid-Feb Bredarode returned to Holland to raise more troops (Parker, 1977).

16 Feb 1567

On 16 Feb Bredarode’s lieutenant, Antoon van Bomberghen, entered the Calvinist held town of ‘s Hertogenbosch and took command in the name of the Gueux (Parker, 1977). He effectively became the local dictator.

28 Feb 1567

On 28 Feb the Count Meghen arrived in Utrecht thus blocking the route the rebel troops in Vianen would take to relieve Valenciennes (Parker, 1977).

13 Mar 1567

On 13 Mar 800 royalist troops launched a successful surprise attack on the camp at Oosterweel (Parker, 1977). Few rebels escaped. Most, including their leader Jean Marnix, were killed in the attack. Those rebels taken prisoner were executed latter. Orange and Egmont now opted to support the government. Egmont supplied half the men that attacked Oosterweel. Orange was less directly involved; he, however, persuaded the Calvinists of Antwerp not to intervene in the fight at Oosterweel.

24 Mar 1567

On 24 Mar 1567 Valenciennes surrendered to Noircarmes (Parker, 1977).

31 Mar 1567

On 31 Mar Maastricht evicted its Calvinist preachers and soon admitted a royalist garrison (Parker, 1977).

10 Apr 1567

On 10 Apr Orange resigned all his offices and left Antwerp (Parker, 1977).

11 Apr 1567

On 11 Apr Antoon van Bomberghen fled ‘s Hertogenbosch (Parker, 1977).

13 Apr 1567

On 13 Apr Antwerp accepted a royalist garrison (Parker, 1977).

14 Apr 1567

On 14 Apr the Calvinist preachers fled ‘s Hertogenbosch (Parker, 1977). A government garrison was soon admitted.

17 Apr 1567

On 17 Apr the duke of Alva took leave of Philip II at Aranjuez, Spain (Parker, 1977).

21 Apr 1567

On 21 Apr Orange fled to Germany (Parker, 1977).

27 Apr 1567

Bredarode, the Big Beggar, fled the Netherlands for Emden (Parker, 1977). He left behind perhaps 4,000 supporters, many of whom fell into government hands.

The duke of Alva sailed from Cartagena to join his troops at Genoa (Parker, 1977).

Ironically on the same day a letter arrived in Madrid from Margaret of Parma saying that Spanish troops were no longer needed in the Netherlands (Parker, 1977). The King decided to ignore this advice although he cut back the number of troops that Alva would command. Alva’s army would comprise the Walloons and Germans already serving Margaret of Parma, the 10,000 Spanish gathering in Italy, and a regiment of German infantry under Count Alberic de Lodron.

26 Apr 1567

On 26 Apr 3,000 royalist troops marched into Antwerp (Parker, 1977).

3 May 1567

On 3 May Vianen fell to the royalists bringing the rebellion within the Netherlands, and with it open Calvinist worship, to an end (Parker, 1977). The only rebel activity was beyond the borders.

31 May 1567

The duke of Alva joined his Spanish veterans in Italy (Parker, 1977).

18 Jun 1567

Alva led his men from Asti in Lombardy across the border and headed for the Netherlands (Parker, 1977).

24 Jun 1567

Alva’s first contingents cross via the difficult Mt Cenis on 24 Jun (Parker, 1977). The weather was bad including snow.

29 Jun 1567

Alva’s army reached Chambéry, the capital of Savoy (Parker, 1977). From here the army moved as a single main body and scouting parties ahead.

Aug 1568

Berghes, one of the rebel leaders, died (Parker, 1977). ?? Who was he??

3 Aug 1567

Alva’s army reached the Netherlands at Thionville (Parker, 1977). Alva paused to assess the situation before proceeding further.

22 Aug 1567

Alva entered Brussels (Parker, 1977). Alva ordered his infantry to be billeted at Ghent, Lier, Enghien and Brussels itself. The Cavalry were to be quartered to the area around Diest. Alva ignored protests from Margaret of Parma, still the governor, that these were areas that had been loyal during the troubles.

Alva also demobilised all the troops that Margaret had raised in 1566-7 (Parker, 1977). Despite the fact some of the German regiments were Lutheran they had served well.

30 Aug 1567

The tercio of Naples, for example, marched into Ghent on 30 Aug (Parker, 1977). The Spanish troops viewed all Netherlanders as heretics, using the term ‘Lutheran’ for all locals, and traitors. Outrages started almost immediately including attacking Egmont and local merchants.

5 Sep 1567

Alva secretly created a ‘Council of Troubles’on 5 Sep 1567 which continued in operation until 1576 (Parker, 1977). It was initially secret because some of the Grandees implicated in the troubles (Orange, Hoogstraten, Hornes) were in Germany. Alva asked Margaret of Parma to summon the missing Grandees were summed to Brussels, although he didn’t explain why.

8 Sep 1567

Hornes responded to the summons and arrived in Brussels on 8 Sep but Orange and Hoogstraten stayed in Germany (Parker, 1977).

9 Sep 1567

A detachment of Spanish troops arrested Hornes, Egmont and their secretaries (Parker, 1977). They also seized their papers. The burgomaster of Antwerp, Antoon van Stralen, was also arrested. Margaret of Parma was outraged and resigned.

23 Sep 1567

Philip II announced he would delay his visit to the Netherlands until spring 1568 (Parker, 1977).

Nov 1567 – May 1568

Under Alva’s orders the count of Aremberg with 1,400 cavalry troopers entered France to assist the army of Charles IX (Parker, 1977).

30 Dec 1567

Having sworn in Alva as her successor as governor-general Margaret of Parma left the Netherlands (Parker, 1977).

Winter 1567-8

The Council of troubles was active with collecting evidence, making arrest and executing sentences (Parker, 1977). During its lifetime the council tried over 12,000, condemned 9,000 of those to loss of goods, and executed over 1,000. 60,000 people fled into exile – mostly to England and the protestant areas of Germany.


In 1568 about 2,400 Spanish troops were shipped to the Netherlands to reinforce the veterans (Parker, 1977).

19 Jan 1568

The Council of Troubles summoned absentee Nobles to the court: Orange, Culemborg, Hoogstraten, all in Germany, and Montigny in Spain (Parker, 1977). They were tried in their absence, found guilty and condemned to forfeit their possessions and property in the Netherlands. This left the absentee Nobles not option but to fight Alva to recover their inheritances so they opened a campaign fund.

Feb 1568

Bredarode, the Big Beggar, died (Parker, 1977).

The prince of Orange was now the unopposed leader of the opposition (Parker, 1977). As a sovereign prince Orange could declare war on his enemies and that meant Alva. For 1568 Orange planned a four prong attack with a reserve:

  1. French Huguenots under the lord of Hannecamp to invade the south Netherlands
  2. Troops from England to invade Flanders
  3. Troops from Germany, under the seigneur de Villers, to invade Limburg in the south-east
  4. More troops from Germany, under Louis of Nassau, to invade Friesland in the north-east
  5. Orange and the reserve in Cleves

Unfortunately in Feb 1568 the lord of Hannecamp was captured on a reconnaissance trip into west Flanders (Parker, 1977). He had gone to meet the Bosgeuzen (Beggars of the Wood), a group of about 100 Calvinist partisans specialising in the murder of Catholic priests.

Start of Lent 1568

The Council of Troubles arrested a large number of people at once all over the Netherlands (Parker, 1977).

6 Apr 1568

On 6 Apr Orange issued commissions to levy troops to Count Louis, van den Berg, Hoogstraten and others (Parker, 1977).

20-25 Apr 1568: Battle of Dalheim

The 3,000 men of the seigneur de Villers’s army crossed into the Netherlands on 20 Apr (Parker, 1977). They received no support from the local towns and were easily defeated by a column of Spanish veterans near Dalheim on 25 Apr. The Spanish captured or killed Villers and most his lieutenants. The prisoners revealed Orange’s contacts in the Netherlands and Germany.

24 Apr 1568

Louis of Nassau led a large force into Friesland on 24 Apr (Parker, 1977). Like the seigneur de Villers he received no support from the towns and hence stayed close to the border with German.

23 May 1568: Battle of Heiligerlee

On 13 May a mixed force of Spanish and Netherlands troops engaged Louis of Nassau (Parker, 1977). The battle was fought at the monastery of Heiligerlee outside Winschoten. The rebels repulsed the royalists with heavy losses.

Louis then based himself at Delfzijl on the Eems (Parker, 1977). He also created a fleet to enable the flow of men and money from the Calvinist churches-in-exile in England. This was the start of the Watergeuzen or Gueux de Mer (Sea Beggars). Louis hired and equipped some ships directly but others were supplied under contract by Jan Abels, a local pirate.

Alva decided to lead his Spanish veterans against Louis of Nassau himself (Parker, 1977).

5 Jun 1568

Alva executed Egmont and Hornes in Brussels (Parker, 1977).

Late Jun 1568

3,000 French Huguenots under the seignuer de Coqueville crossed into Artois (Parker, 1977). Superior royalist numbers quickly pushed them back into France. Charles IX of France also sent an army against the Huguenots.

15 Jul 1568

By Jul 1568 the Sea Beggars had about 15 ships (Parker, 1977).

The Sea Beggars decisively defeated a royalist fleet that attacked Delfzijl (Parker, 1977).

18 Jul 1568: Battle of St Valéry

Charlex IX’s army surrounded the Huguenots of the seignuer de Coqueville at St Valéry and cut them to pieces (Parker, 1977).

21 Jul 1568: Battle of Jemmigen

Alva led his Spanish veterans against Louis of Nassau (Parker, 1977). Louis deployed his men on the Jemmigen peninsula with their backs to Eems. The Spanish won and butchered the rebels. Few escaped given the width of the river, over 3 km wide at that point. The river carried news of the defeat to Emden in the estuary in the form of the rebel’s broad brimmed hats.

The defeat deprived the Sea Beggars of a base (Parker, 1977). They returned to privateering, i.e. piracy in the name of a sovereign, in this case Orange. The prizes were sold to colonies of Dutch exiles in England.

24 Jul 1568

Don Carlos, the mentally unstable only son of Philip II, died in custody (Parker, 1977). This left Philip with two infant daughters and a succession problem.

18 Sep 1568

A new group of Bosgeuzen (Beggars of the Wood) landed in Flanders from England (Parker, 1977). They were quickly captured, tortured for information, and executed.

Oct 1568

The Spanish queen died in child birth giving Philip II an acute succession problem (Parker, 1977).

Oct – Nov 1568

In Oct 1568 the prince of Orange invaded Brabant with 30,000 men (Parker, 1977). But like the other rebel efforts of 1568 he received no support in the Netherlands. In fact after the defeat at Jemmingen he also lost the support of England and the German princes. Alva blocked the road to Brussels and waited. 29 days of indecisive skirmishing followed with Orange suffering considerable attrition. In late Nov Orange led his remaining troops into France.

Alva had recruited many Germans and Walloons to help face the threat from the rebel invasions (Parker, 1977). After Orange retreated Alva decided to rationalise the army of Flanders. He kept 4,000 Spanish infantry and 500 light cavalry as a reserve near Brussels. Another 4,000 Spanish infantry and 4,000 Walloon infantry were deployed garrison troops. Alva also ordered fortifications for Antwerp, Groningen and Maastricht.

Nov 1568

Huguenot pirates forced five ships carrying Spanish cash into Southampton and Plymouth (Parker, 1977).

19 Dec 1568

Elizabeth arrested the Spanish treasure ships, seized the treasure and transported it London (Parker, 1977).

29 Dec 1568

Alva seized all English property in the Netherlands and asked Philip II to do the same in Spain (Parker, 1977). In retaliation Elizabeth stopped all trade between England and the Hispanic world.

25 Dec 1568: Moriscos Revolt

The moriscos of the Granadine mountains revolted because of forced conversions to Christianity (Parker, 1977). The revolt tied up a large Spanish army and continued until the summer of 1571.


The Turks sent armies against the Muscovites and Yemen and not to the west – good news for Spain (Parker, 1977).

Feb 1569

Orange paid off his remaining troops (Parker, 1977). He and his brothers collected 1,200 survivors from the various invasion attempts and joined the French Huguenot army under Condé and Coligny.

Philip II seized all English property in Spain (Parker, 1977).

Mar 1569

Alva asked the estates of the Netherlands provinces to collect three new taxes: the Tenth, Twentieth and Hundredth Pennies. The last was approved and paid. The first two were controversial and the estates would not approve them. Alva used his Spanish troops to exert pressure on the reluctant burghers. He didn’t get approval for the new taxes but he did get a one off lump sum in its place.

13 Mar 1569: Battle of Jarnac

The French Catholics, supported by Alva’s Spanish veterans, defeated the French Huguenot army under Condé and Coligny including a Netherlands contingent under the prince of Orange (Parker, 1977). Condé was killed.

26 Mar 1569

Men employed by the Council of Troubles swooped on all of the bookshops in the Netherlands and seized prohibited literature (Parker, 1977).

Summer 1569

Orange hired some ships in England to form a new fleet (Parker, 1977). They quickly turned to piracy as Orange had insufficient funds to pay them.

16 Jun 1569

The books seized in Mar were burned (Parker, 1977).

25 Jun 1569: Battle of La Roche l’Abeille

The French Huguenot army under Coligny defeated the French Catholics (Parker, 1977). A Netherlands contingent under the prince of Orange fought with the Huguenots.

3 Oct 1569: Battle of Moncontour

The French Catholics, supported by Alva’s Spanish veterans, defeated the French Huguenot army under Coligny (Parker, 1977). A contingent from the Netherlands including Louis of Nassau fought with the Huguenots. Louis subsequently became second-in-command of the Huguenot forces in France.


By 1570 Alva had fully implemented the scheme for the new bishops (Parker, 1977).

Spring 1570

The Sea Beggars had about 30 vessels (Parker, 1977).

8 Aug 1570: Peace of St Germain

Charles IX and the Huguenot leaders signed the Peace of St Germain (Parker, 1977). Orange began to get support from France for his struggle against Alva.

Oct 1570

Montigny was strangled in Spain for his part in the troubles (Parker, 1977).

Dec 1570

Some Sea Beggars captured the fort of Loevestein on the island of Bommel in Gelderland (Parker, 1977). They did not receive the expected support and were driven off with heavy loss.


In 1571 Orange let the Sea Beggars loose on the coast of Holland and Zealand (Parker, 1977). They also continued their piratical activities against all nations, including neutrals. Both neutral Emden and the Hanseatic league suffered … and complained.

May 1571

Under pressure from Philip II Alva said he would support Mary Queen of Scots in her bid for the English crown once he heard Elizabeth I was dead (Parker, 1977).

Summer 1571

After a bad harvest the moriscos of the Granadine mountains faced starvation so surrendered to the Christians (Parker, 1977).

7 Jul 1571

The Spanish Council of State agreed a scheme where following Elizabeth I of England’s arrest by Catholic conspirators by the duke of Norfolk a Spanish force of 10,000 men would cross from the Netherlands (Parker, 1977). Alva wasn’t keen.

31 Jul 1571

Alva declared he would collect the Tenth Penny without consent from the estates (Parker, 1977). Shopkeepers (bakers, brewers and butchers in Brussels) and merchants retaliated with a tax strike and ceased business to avoid the new tax. Trade and industry stopped. Unemployment grew.

7 Sep 1571

Elizabeth I arrested the head conspirators, the duke of Norfolk (Parker, 1977).

14 Sep 1571

Despite Alva’s misgivings about the English plan Philip II ordered him to prepare for invasion across the Channel (Parker, 1977). Alva moved siege artillery from various points, including the arsenal at Mechelen, to the naval arsenal at Veere in Zealand.

4-13 Oct 1571

Leaders of the Netherlands Calvinists, both the churches under the cross and those in exile, met at Emden and agreed a protocol for the Dutch Reformed Church (Parker, 1977). This put them in a good position to support the rebellion.

Nov 1571

By this time even Philip II could see the invasion of England was not going to happen (Parker, 1977). But the whole scheme had soured Anglo-Spanish relations and encouraged Elizabeth to support the Dutch rebels.

End of 1571

The revenue from new taxes took time to collect and Alva began to experience financial difficulties (Parker, 1977).

Second Revolt (1572)

The main cause was the government’s attempt to impose an illegal 10-per-cent Value Added Tax on all sales – “the Tenth Penny” (Parker, 1977). The core of the second revolt was in the north Netherlands. Gouda, Rotterdam, Dordrecht and Haarlem led the second revolt – all towns which had remained dormant in the first revolt. Middelburg and Amsterdam, which had been active in the first revolt, remained inactive.


Orange and Count Louis were carefully organising a grand plan for a five-prong invasion of the Netherlands after the marriage of Henry of Navarre to the French king’s sister, Marguerite, and a formal declaration of war by France (Parker, 1977):

  1. Count van den Berg, Orange’s brother-in-law to conduct a small operation in the north-east
  2. Count Louis to invade the south at the same time a missed Netherlands and Huguenot force
  3. Coligny to invade the south after Louis
  4. Orange, with an army raised in Germany, to invade Brabant from the east once the other initiatives were under way
  5. Admiral Philip Strozzi to invade Holland and Zealand with a fleet assembling at La Rochelle, and possibly with the help of the Sea Beggars in the Channel

Things turned out a bit differently.

Mar 1572

Under pressure from the Hanseatic League England expelled the Sea Beggars (Parker, 1977). The Sea Beggars had to decide where to go. There were no obvious choices. Orange was at La Rochelle raising a new fleet however the Sea Beggars had not been overly obedient underlings to the prince and preferred to avoid him. Instead they sailed up and down the channel.

Suffering under the tax strike Alva moved troops into the shops of those in Brussels involved in the strike (Parker, 1977).

25 Mar 1572

The Spanish Ambassador in London sent a letter to Alva warning him that the Sea Beggars had ambitions on Brill. But the letter didn’t arrive in time.

1 Apr 1572

The Sea Beggars landed on the island of Voorne and captured Brill (Parker, 1977). Brill was a the small seaport of 3,000 people on the island of Voorne in south Holland. The Sea Beggars picked it because one of the captains originated from there. The second revolt had begun.

11 Apr 1572

The marriage of Henry of Navarre and the king’s sister, Marguerite, was announced (Parker, 1977). A move intended to reconcile the two parties in the French court.

19 Apr 1572

France and England signed a Treaty of friendship at Blois (Parker, 1977).

?? TODO ?? Finish it

Third Revolt (1576-1609)

The Third Revolt had a new cause and occurred in new areas (Parker, 1977). It started in Brussels which had been loyal in the first two revolts and spread to Hainaut and Artois, provinces that had been little affected by earlier unrest. Most participants were Catholic. The cause was the mutinous Spanish troops wrecking havoc in the southern Netherlands.


Parker, G (1977). The Dutch Revolt. Cornell University Press.

Feltam, O. (1652). A brief character of the low-countries. London.

4 thoughts on “Timeline of the Eighty Years War”

  1. History has been my primary interest for 45 years and I had never hear a reference to the 80 years war. Now you may take that statement to show that I am not a very diligent student of History and that I very much exaggerate my interest (or I am just not very bright and a poor student). I assure you I am not and I was surprised to read the term 80 years war. Because of that I discovered G. Parker and I have a feeling reading his books and such are going to provide me with many hours of diversion. thank you.

  2. I really appreciate the effort involved in your compiling this 80YW timeline. I am a student of the war; I find it fascinating and chock full of amazing anecdotes and descriptions of an endless variety of battles and raids, on land and sea. Although limited to English I’ve read all I can find, Parker in particular. I’ve visited many of the key sites of the war such as Delft and Breda. I find Parker so dense with memorable facts and details that I have often thought of creating an outline such as this excellent recap of the revolt(s)` first few years. I’m curious: have you outlined the rest of the war?

    • Marc, thanks for your feedback. My focus floats around and only occasionally returns to the 80 Years War. I’ll expand this, well, one day.


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