Battle on the Zuiderzee
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|Battle on the Zuiderzee|
|Part of the Eighty Years' War|
Dutch ships after the battle.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Cornelis Jansz Dircksz||Count of Boussu (POW)|
|Casualties and losses|
|Unknown||6 ships captured
300 sailors captured
For the years prior to the Battle of the Zuiderzee, one of the largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, had been occupied by the Spanish. Because supply routes for cities in the area controlled by both the Spanish and the Dutch almost exclusively went through the Zuiderzee, Dutch rebels (calling themselves de Geuzen) attempted to disturb this route as much as possible in small skirmishes and raids against Spanish ports. In 1573 the Spanish Governor Maximilian de Henin Count of Bossu sent a fleet consisting of about 30 ships with a crew of over 1,300 people with the prerogative to halt the attacks and destroy the enemy force. This fleet also included his flagship, the Inquisition. Weighing in at just over 250 tons, the Inquisition had reinforced sides consisting of armored plating. Opposing Henin's fleet were a small fleet the Gueux managed to assemble. This fleet of 24 much smaller and lightly armed ships. Altogether, this fleet consisted of around 700 men.
Henin and his fleet left Amsterdam on October 5 and immediately hit a standstill in the midst of his attack. Gueux forces continually attacked Henin's fleet. Due to the Gueux's lack of heavily armed ships, instead of a frontal assault against the Spanish fleet, they had chosen to attempt to board, and if possible capture the Spanish ships. If capture was not possible, the boats would be destroyed. Trying to minimize their casualties against the heavier guns, the Gueux attempted to head straight for the Spanish ships. But during the battle, heavy winds hindered the Dutch's attempts greatly, as the winds prevented their ships from getting near to the Spanish ships, and thus halting their chance of boarding. With their main mode of attack thwarted, the Dutch fleet was no match for the Spanish guns, and suffered heavy losses.
It was not until October 11 that the wind turned and the Dutch could execute a surprise attack. During this attack, the Spanish flagship was boarded by the Dutch and during the course of the battle ran aground.
The rest of the Spanish fleet fled and Maximilien de Hénin-Liétard and his crew surrendered after the Dutch promised to spare their lives.
After this lost battle and the failed Siege of Alkmaar, Alva realized that the struggle to conquer North Holland was lost, and he abandoned Amsterdam and returned to Spain.