Siege of Ostend
|Siege of Ostend|
|Part of the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604)|
Picture of the Siege of Ostend by Pieter Snayers.
| United Provinces
|Commanders and leaders|
| Francis Vere
Frederick van Dorp (Mar. 1602)
Charles van der Noot
Peter van Gieselles (Dec. 1603)
John van Loon
Jacques van der Meer (Mar. 1604)
Daniël de Hertaing (Jun. 1604)
Maurice of Nassau
| Archduke Albert
Ambrosio Spinola (Oct. 1603)
|Casualties and losses|
|30,000 dead or wounded
30,000 militia and civilians
|35,000 dead or wounded|
The Siege of Ostend (1601–1604) was a three-year siege of the city of Ostend (in present-day Belgium) during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). The siege was the longest of the Eighty Years' War, and one of the longest and bloodiest sieges in world history, described as a "long carnival of death"; during its development over 100,000 people from the both sides were killed in an impossible amount to pinpoint. The siege culminated in a Spanish victory. It is said "the Spanish assailed the unassailable; the Dutch defended the indefensible."
General Sir Francis Vere led a 3,000-men strong English army in support of the Dutch, and was appointed Governor of Ostende by Maurice of Nassau in 1601. After a skillful defence of the city, the English commander left Ostend in March 1602, but the remaining English troops continued to fight for the Dutch until the end.
In 1603, under the able leadership of newly appointed commander Ambrosio Spinola, the Spanish tore Ostend's outer defenses from the exhausted Dutch and put what remained of the city under the muzzles of their guns, compelling the Dutch to surrender. The cost of the victory proved enormous with 35,000 men killed or wounded in the blasted trenches and dugouts surrounding the ruined city.
The next two years saw the Spanish increase the pressure on the Dutch as Spinola captured Oldenzaal, Lochem, Lingen, Rijnberk and Groenlo, despite the efforts of the Dutch army under Maurice of Nassau, reducing trade and causing great fear within the United Provinces.
The shocking devastation suffered at Ostend led to the first serious thoughts about a peace agreement. The Dutch made an approach to the Spanish Crown and after difficult negotiations signed a Twelve Year Truce.
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- Simoni, Anna E. C., The Ostend Story: Early Tales of the Great Siege and the Mediating Role of Henrick van Hastens (‘t-Goy-Houten: HES & De Graaf Publishers, 2003) ISBN 90-6194-159-8
- Routledge & Kegan Paul, Siege warfare: the fortress in the early modern world, 1494-1660.
- Lombaerde, P., "The fortifications of Ostend during the Great Siege of 1601-1604", Fort (Fortress Study Group), 1999, (27), pp. 93–112
- Williams, Penry (1998). The Later Tudors: England, 1547-1603. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192880446.
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