Outbreak of Revolt and Northern Independence
These timelines are a work in progress and compilation of multiple academic sources.
† These forty-eight works have been deemed of such importance by the Digital Library for Dutch Literature (DBNL) to be included in its Basisbibliotheek of key Dutch-language texts from the cultural history of the Low Countries.
Key Events 1568-1579
1568: Plantin publishes the Polygot Bible, with five languages
1568 Convent of Wesel (allegedly)
1568, Johan Radermacher (de Oude), Voorreden vanden noodich ende nutticheit der Nederduytscher taelkunste †
May 1568 Louis of Nassau invades the State of Groningen and establishes the Sea Beggars (“Watergeuzen”) to support him.
23 May 1568 German rebel force of 2,500 horse and 7,00 foot under Louis of Nassau defeats the army of the Count of Aremberg comprised of the Tercio of Sardinia, and several companies of Germans and Walloons at Heiligerlee near Groningen.
June 1568 Siege of Groningen. Rebels lift siege at the approach of Parma’s army and moves to and establish a defense at Jemmingen.
5 June 1568 Egmont and Horn are executed for high treason in Brussels.
21 July 1568 Rebel and Huguenot force under Prince Louis of Nassau routed at Jemmingen along the river Ems. Count Adolf of Nassau killed.
August 1568 Formal Treaty between William of Orange and the Huguenot leaders, the Duc De Conde and Admiral Coligny.
October-November 1568 William of Orange invades from Trier and retreats into Huguenot controlled France without engaging Alba’s forces.
December 1568- January 1569 Louis of Nassau leads Rebel army into France to assist Huguenot forces but is forced to retreat back into Germany.
1569, Philips van Marnix van Sint Aldegonde, De bijencorf der H. Roomsche Kercke †
1569: Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator publishes a map of the world, using the projection now known by his name
1569, anoniem, Historie van broer Cornelis †
January 1569 Wofgagn of Bavaria, the Duke of Zweibrucken leads mercenary army into France to assist Huguenot forces
February 1569 William of Orange gives Sea Beggars their first Letters of Commission. They are based in Emden, La Rochelle, a Huguenot controlled port in France, and Dover in England.
13 March 1569 French Catholic victory over Huguenots at Jarnac. Duc de Conde captured and killed.
March 1569 Duke of Alva forces the States-General to enact a 10% sales tax (the Tenth Penny) and a 5% sales tax on property (the Twentieth Penny) to provide funds that he, not the States-General, would control.
March 1569 Duke of Alba presides over book burning at Tournai
9 September 1569: Pieter Breugel the Elder dies in Brussels. Earlier in the year, the city council exempts him from billeting Spanish soldiers in his home. No works survive from his final year of life.
January 1570 Phillip II announces state of war with England and Elizabeth I is excommunicated by the Pope.
1570 Gillain de Fiennes appointed Admiral of the Sea Beggar Fleet by William of Orange in an effort to impose discipline.
January-June 1570 Sea Beggars disrupt shipping and conduct raids along the coast of Friesland and Groningen
3 October 1570: Hieronymus Cock passes away. His press manager (and fellow artist) Philip Galle takes over the Antwerp printing and publishing business and continues to manage it alongside his former employer’s widow until her death in 1601.
1 November 1570: A massive storm breaks dikes all along the Dutch coast, resulting in the Allerheiligenvloed (“All Saints Flood”). An estimated 20,000 people lose their lives, while tens of thousands become homeless. Vast amounts of animals and winter food stocks are destroyed. Several islands are reclaimed entirely by the sea.
c. 1573: 12,000 cases have been tried by Alba’s “Council of Blood.” 1,000 people have been executed, and 9,000 have had their property confiscated and/or been exiled.
1750: Synod of Emden
1570-1573 Confiscation and sale of Catholic moveable property, buildings and land used to finance Rebel army and reimburse towns for war related losses.
March 1572 Sea Beggars ejected from England
April 1, 1572 The Spanish garrison of Brill (Den Briel) called away to reinforce the French border. Planning initially to conduct a raid with 600 Waloon, Dutch, Scots and English Sea Beggars, Count Lumley de la Marck occupies the town.
7 April 1572 – February 1574 Siege of Middleburg by Sea Beggars and Rebels.
April 1572 Count Bossu Alba’s Governor of Holland and Utrecht, surprises garrison of townspeople in Rotterdam and his Walloon and Spanish forces sack the city.
1572 With the taking of Brill, the improvement in the political fortunes of the Prince of Orange and the funds provided by Sea beggar activity, large number of mercenaries from Scotland, France and England go into Dutch service. Conduct of Duke of Alba’s soldiers causes a large number of cities to accept a garrison from the Prince of Orange.
April-July 1572 Veere, Vlissingen, Enkhuizen, Hoorn, Alkmaar, Haarlem and most of the towns of Walcheren Island join the revolt and all proclaim William of Orange Stadhouder.
May 1572 Louis of Nassau with German, English and Huguenot force take Valenciennes in France.
24 May-19 September 1572 Siege of Mons
31 May- Louis of Nassau with German, English and Huguenot force take Mons in France
July- Mons besieged
17 July- Relieving force of French Huguenots defeated
9 Sept- Relieving force under William of Orange defeated
19 Sept- Mons surrenders and garrison marches out under terms and retreats into Germany. Tercio of Lombardy sacks town.
21 June 1572 Famine in Scotland causes Scottish Privy Council to approve the raising of companies in Scotland, “in order that the idle men and soldier be not drawn to any desperate necessity, but may have commodity to serve and pass to the wars in Flanders.”
July 1572 Sluys and Bruge captured by Huguenot and English forces.
July 1572 Senior Pacheco is sent by Duke of Alba to be governor of Flushing and is executed by the townspeople. 400 Wallon soldiers for Middleburg are refused entry and the Sea Beggars and Wood Beggars (Bozgeuzen) converge with a force of 400 soldiers to help defends the city. Captain Thomas Morgan arrives at Flushing with three hundred English mercenaries. Three companies of Huguenots under Captains Henri, Tristan and Vitran arrive at Flushing as well. Tseraerts appointed Governor by Prince of Orange. Sir Humphrey Gilbert arrives with 10 companies of English mercenaries.
July 1572 English and Huguenot forces capture Sluys but are driven out of Brugge but are driven off.
19 July 1572 First State meeting of rebel provinces at Dortrecht
23 July 1572 Rebel force of 17,000 German mercenaries and Waloons under William of Orange take Roermond.
24 August-6 October 1572 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of the Huguenot’s in Paris during Henri of Navarre’s wedding to Princess Marguerite of Valois, sister to Charles IX, the King of France. 1000,000-75,000 Huguenots massacred throughout France and military support for the rebels halted.
26 August 1572 Prince of Orange crosses River Maas and main towns of Brabant, Mechelen and Oudenaarde, welcome him.
1 October 1572 Mechelen sacked for three days by unpaid Spanish soldiers as an example to towns that support William of Orange.
October 1572 Deist and Dendermonde purchase their safety for eight thousand florins each
October 1572 English mercenaries besiege and fail to take Goes
October 1572 Blockade established of entire coast of Netherlands with high fees required for trade in only non-military goods with the Spanish and low fees for trade with ports friendly to the rebels.
1 November 1572 Zutphen sacked by Spanish soldiers
22 November 1572 Naarden surrenders without resistance and is sacked by Spanish soldiers
4 December 1572 – 12 July 1573: The royalists lay siege to Haarlem. The city eventually surrenders and 1,800 soldiers of the garrison are killed. The actions of Kenau Hasselaer turn her into a folk heroine.
1572: Sea beggars seize the town of Brill and raise the flag of William of Orange (also known as William the Silent)
10 October 1572: Cornelis Musius, a Catholic priest and humanist, is hung without due process after being captured by Beggars while taking church treasures out of the city of Delft for safekeeping. He is considered a martyr by many Catholics across the Low Countries.
1573: William of Orange declares himself a Calvinist is subsequently recognized as Stadhouder by the Protestant-dominated provincial governments of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht.
1573: The city of Alkmaar is saved when the Dutch breach their own dikes, threatening the Spanish troops with death by drowning
May 1573 Queen Elizabeth I and Duke of Alba agree not to support rebels in each others countries. Mercenaries and equipment still flow from England to rebels.
August 1573 Spanish garrison of Haarlem mutinies. Mutiny put down after 18 days and mutineers executed.
21 August- 8 October 1573 Siege of Alkmaar. Spanish forced to raise the siege after dykes are cut flooding the surrounding countryside.
August 1573 De Valdez and his Spanish tercio de la Ligue and several companies of Walloons occupy The Hague and attempt to raid the countryside and seize surrounding villages and towns. Garrisons in surrounding towns comprises of French, Walloon, Dutch, Scots and English forces force his withdrawal back into Spanish held territory.
September 1573 An army of 1.200 Flemings, French, Scots and English under de Poyet capture Gertruidenberg.
10 October 1573 Battle of Zuider Zee between the Sea Beggars under Cornelis Dirckszoon, and the Spanish. Sea beggar victory with most of Spanish fleet, including the flagship “Inquisition” run aground. The battle leaves the Scheldt Estuary in Sea Beggar hands.
1574, Marcus van Vaernewyck, De historie van Belgis †
29 January 1574 Spanish fleet fails in attempt to relive the siege of Middleburg
21 February 1574 Spanish garrison of Middleburg surrenders. Spanish soldiers given safe conduct to Spanish held territory.
February 1574-1576 Admiralty prize court operates at Flushing. Piracy ends and States establish regular navy.
April 1574 Elizabeth I and Don Luis Requensen agree on expulsion of each others rebels for their respective countries.
14 April 1574 Spanish victory at Mook over a force attempting to relieve siege of Lieden. Louis of Nassau, Henry of Nassau and Duke Christopher son of the Elector Palatine killed.
26 April 1574 Spanish forces in Antwerp mutiny
26 May- October 1574 Siege of Leiden. Garrison consists of five companies of Burgher Guard
July- Dykes along the Meuse and Yssel river broken to prevent infantry attack on city walls
3 Oct- Water levels rise permitting Sea Beggar ships to approach and eliminate Spanish positions around city. Spanish forces flee as city is relieved.
1 October 1574: Maarten van Heemskerck dies. His work was influential in widely introducing Italian Renaissance artist styles and techniques to the northern Low Countries.
17 November 1574 Alva replaced as Governor General by Don Luis Requensen who offers a general pardon and withdraws the “Tenth Penny” tax on behalf of Phillip II. No compromise offered for religious freedom.
ca. 1576-1579, Andries Vierlingh, Tractaet van dyckagie †
February 1575: Leiden University founded out of gratitude to the city. Its formal mission also included the theological training of Reformed clergy, but the nascent school quickly took on a humanist character of its own.
1 March 1575: Don Luis Requensen dies Don Juan of Austria, half-brother of Philip II, would be appointed as Don Luis’ replacement in April.
1576 ANTWERP MASSACRE The Pacification of Ghent unites all the provinces of the Netherlands in opposition to Spain
January -2 July 1576 Seige of Zierikzee. Garrison surrenders to Spanish.
27 May 1576 Louis De Boisot, Admiral of Holland and Zeeland, fails in attempt to relieve Zierikzee
June 1576 Spanish capture Maastricht
4 November 1576 Namur sacked by Spanish forces
4 November 1576 Spanish mutineers seize and sack Antwerp in what is described as the Spanish Fury (Spaanse Furie).
8 November 1576 As a result of the Spanish Fury, the States-General agrees to the Pacification of Ghent (Pacificatie van Gent) calling for removal of all Spanish soldiers and unity to expel all foreign forces from the Netherlands. William of Orange retains titles.
December 1576: Elizabeth I makes loan to States General on the condition of cessation of negotiations with France. English concern over Spanish support of Mary Queen of Scots halts collaboration with Don Juan.
February 1577 Ceasefire declared, the Perpetual Edict, and States-General recognizes Don Juan as Phillip II’s Governor General.
28 April 1577 Spanish forces leave the Netherlands
May 1577 Siege of La Charite by Catholic French forces under the Duc De Anjou. Huguenots surrender city.
June 1577 Siege of Issiore by Catholic French forces under the Duc De Anjou. Huguenots surrender city.
11 June 1577 Don Juan flees Brussels
24 July 1577 Spanish forces return and take Namur
6 September 1577 States General invites Prince of Orange to Brussels to advise them.
8 October 1577 States army besieges Namur
7 December 1577 Don Juan declared an enemy of the state by the States General.
c. 1577 – 1578: Hendrick Goltzius follows his mentor Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert to Haarlem and begins his printmaking and publishing business there.
1578 Synod of Dord
January 1578 William of Orange becomes leader of the Netherlands government.
31 January 1578: The battle of Gembloux sees the rebels defeated by the royalist army of Don Juan of Austria.
July 1578 – January 1579: John Casimir, the Count Palatine, leads an army subsidized by England into the Low Countries in support of the (Protestant) rebel cause. It refuses to give battle to the royalists, occupies Ghent and eventually leaves.
1578 Amsterdam, Kampen and Deventer state their support for rebels.
1 August 1578: The battle of Mechelen, where the rebels emerge victorious.
1 October 1578: Don Juan dies and is replaced by his deputy, Alexander Farnese the Duke of Parma, as Phillip II’s Governor General.
1578: Amsterdam’s most prominent chamber of rhetoric, the Egelantier, is publicly reformed in the wake of the city government coming under Protestant control.
January 1579 Seven provinces (Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland, Groningen, Overijsel, and Gelderland), sign the Union of Utrecht forming the Republic of the United Provinces with William of Orange as king. The Republic’s lands also include Drenthe (one of the 17, but without the autonomous status of the others), and parts of Brabant, Limburg and Flanders, governed directly by their States-General. Each of the provinces had a high degree of autonomy, co-operating with each other mainly on defense and on the international level in general, but keeping to their own affairs elsewhere. Central power is placed in the hands of the Council of State. Prince of Orange forces issue of universal religious toleration but fails. Catholicism only permitted in some states.
January 1579 Southern provinces (Hainault, Artois, Waloon Flanders, Namur, Luxembourg and Limburg) sign the Union of Arras and accept the authority of Spain. Catholicism is the only accepted religion.
1579: DIVIDE INTO TWO The Union of Arras and the Union of Utrecht split the Netherlands into Catholic and Protestant camps
1579: Justus Lipsius accepts an appointment to Leiden University as a professor of history. He would spend eleven years there, both as a powerful force for the development of the university and the broader European republic of letters.
February-29 June 1579 Siege of Maastricht by Spanish forces. Townspeople as well as States army garrison involved in defense.
1579 Peace Conference sponsored by Emperor Rudolph II at Cologne fails
17 May 1579 Southern provinces reconciled with Phillip II at the Peace of Arras, and offer military help to the Spanish
June 1579 Five Scottish companies occupy Brussels on behalf of William of Orange
July 1579 Mechelen and ‘s Hertogenbosch surrender to the Spanish.
November 1579 Duke De Conde seizes Catholic town of La Fere
1580 – 1592
March 1580 Count Rennenberg, Stadhouder of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel – and the last remaining Catholic stadhouder on the rebels’ side – goes over to Spanish side.
27 June-28 August 1580 Spain army under the Duke of Alba invades Portugal, sacks Lisbon and Phillip II seizes the throne
August 1580 Prince of Orange declared an outlaw by Phillip II
1581: Adriaen Coenen completes the text and illustrations for his Visboek, a massive, 800 page manuscript detailing all manner of fish and sealife – both real, alleged, and ultimately fantastic.
1581, Pontus de Heuiter, Nederduitse orthographie †
1581, Willem van Oranje, Apologie, ofte Verantwoordinghe †
23 January 1581: William of Orange and the States General invite Duke of Anjou, brother of the King of France Henry III to serve as head of state for the United Provinces in an effort to insure French support against Spain.
26 July 1581: The States-General 26 adopts Plakkaat van Verlatinge (“Act of Abjuration”) declaring the rule of Phillips II was no longer valid. Though the document was formally signed, few proclamations or celebrations are made. Philip writes Parma to ignore it publicly. †
1581 Capture of Tournai, Oudenaarde and Maastricht by Spanish
1581 Ghent occupied by the Scots Brigade
10 February 1582 Duke of Anjou arrives at Flushing, without the army promised by him and Henry III, to assume control of the United Provinces.
April 1582 Spanish forces capture Oudenaarde
August 1582 Spanish forces capture Lier
1582 Steenwijk captured by Spanish
December 1582 French army of 10,000 under the command of Marshal Biron arrives and is quartered outside Antwerp.
1583, Lucas Jansz Waghenaer, Spiegel der zeevaert †
17 January 1583 Duke of Anjou’s attempt to seize Antwerp with French soldiers defeated by armed citizens. Attempts to seize Bruges and Ostend fail as well but Aalst, Vilvoorde and Dunkirk fall to French. Duke of Anjou and his army flee Anwerp for Vilvoorde.
February 1583 Prince of Orange becomes head of government for the United Provinces
March 1583 Towns occupied by army of Duke of Anjou returned to United Provinces. Duke of Anjou returns to France but his army remains and Marchal Biron appointed supreme commander of the States army.
1583: Professor Justus Lipsius publishes De Constantia (On Constancy), a seminal work that lays the foundation for neostoicism in a Humanist, Christian context. This revival of Stoic philosophy found wide acceptance in a European context troubled by war and religious turmoil.
December 1583: Marchal Biron and his army return to France.
1584: The great Flemish humanist and Leuven professor Justus Lipsius was the most important author of the Antwerp publisher Jan Moretus. It is therefore not surprising that Moretus, or Moerentorf as he was actually called , has translated one of Lipsius’ best-known works, De Constantia , into Dutch. Twee boecken vanande stantvasticheyt is a philosophical dialogue consisting of two books, modeled on Seneca’s dialogues. Moerentorf was first and foremost a publisher and bookseller. He himself says in the text that he is not the ideal translator, yet he deserves all the praise for translating such a stylistically refined work as De Constantia . Some controversial chapters were deleted, but his translation was nevertheless successful. Justus Lipsius, Twee boecken vande stantvasticheyt †
1583 – 1585: A Spanish wave of military successes see the capture or surrender of many of the most important cities in the Low Counries: Zutphen, Dunkirk, Nieuport, Lindhoven, Steenbergen, Sas-van-Gent, Ypres, Bruge, Brussels, Ghent, Nijmegen, Dendermonde, Antwerp, Brussels, and Mechlin.
10 June 1584: Duke de Anjou dies of malaria. As a result, the Protestant Huguenot Henri of Navarre becomes heir-presumptive to the French throne.
10 July 1584: William of Orange assassinated by pistol shot by Balthasar Gérard – a Catholic who had infiltrated his court. His last words are “My God, have mercy on my soul and on these poor people.”
1585: H.L. Spiegel, Twe-spraack; Ruygh-bewerp; Kort begrip; Rederijck-kunst †
1585: Simon Stevin, De Thiende †
18 August 1585: William of Orange’s oldest son, Maurice of Nassau, becomes Stadhouder of Holland and Zeeland.
19 August 1585: The Treaty of Nonsuch is signed between England and the United Provinces Elizabeth I agrees to send 6,000 troops and 600,000 florins annually. In exchange, the Dutch surrender control of the port cities of Flushing, Rotterdam, Enkhuizen, and Brill and the accept an English military advisor/governor (one of Elizabeth’s favorites, Robert Dudley, the Duke of Leicester).
October 1585 – January 1586: English troops promised in the Treaty of Nonsuch begin arriving, followed by the Earl of Leicester arrives in United Provinces who is appointed Governor General of United Provinces.
September 1585: The University of Franeker is founded in Friesland. It would be the second oldest university in what would become the Netherlands.
c. 1585 – 1589: Hendrick Goltzius and his workshop create a series of highly regarded, famous Mannerist engravings
1586: Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert publishes what can be considered his masterpiece, Zedekunst, Dat is Wellevenskunste (“Ethics, or the Art of Living Well”). The work uses neostoic philosophy to call for a tolerant view of theology and politics. †
1586 Venlo captured by Spanish
June- July 1586 Sluis captured by Spanish. Of the original garrison of 1600 English, Flemings and Waloons, less that 700 surrender.
1586 Leicester takes Doesburg
1586 English garrison of Geertruidenberg sells town to Spanish
April 1586 Leicester announces restrictions on Holland’s trade with Southern Provinces causing division in the Council of State and States General.
August 1586 John Oldenbarneveldt appointed Lands Advocate of Holland and Keeper of the Great Seal, as such, he is the leading statesman of the United Provinces. In partnership with Maurice of Nassau and Louis of Nassau who control majority of army, he opposes Leicester’s effort to split the United Provinces.
22 September 1586 Battle of Zutphen. English force defeated.
November 1586 Leicester departs for England
November 1586 English garrisons of Grave, Deventer and a fort near Zutphen are bribed and turn them over to the Spanish
June 1587 Leicester returns with additional troops
July 1587 Leicester announces to States General that Elizabeth I is in negotiations with the Duke of Parma and invited United Provinces to participate
June 1587 – October 1587: Leicester returns, but continues struggles to establish leadership, control, and credibility with the provincial governments of Holland and Zeeland. attempts to capture Leiden and fails. English soldiers in States General army reluctant to obey orders. October 1587 Leicester departs United Provinces
January 1588 Leicester submits resignation as Governor General.
May – August 1588 Fleet of United Provinces blockades coast to prevent Spanish forces in Netherlands linking up with the ‘Great Armada” – blocked in Dunkirk by a fleet of 30 Dutch flyboats whose shallower drafts allowed them to sail into waters the Spanish galleons could not follow commanded by Lieutenant Admiral Justin of Nassau,
1588 – 1589: Maurice of Nassau’s political fortunes rise. appointed Captain General of the Army of the states in Flanders and Brabant. He also commands armies paid for by the States of Holland and Zeeland. Then appointed Captain-General and Admiral- General of the United Provinces. Finally Maurice of Nassau becomes Stadholder of Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel.
c. 1590: Zacharias Janssen – a swindler, a counterfeiter, and a spectacle maker – is alleged to have created the first microscope. This account has been debated by historians.
1590: Simon Stevin, Het burgherlick leven †
1590: In an event that sent shockwaves through the religiously-minded world, Lipsus reconciles with both the Roman Catholic Church and King Philip II. He would remain in the Low Countries as professor of Latin in the Collegium Buslidianum in Leuven.
1590-1592: Spanish troops driven out of the United Provinces. “ten golden years” – Breda taken, Zutphen, Deventer forts along the Ijssel River, Delfzijl, Hulst and Nijmegen taken. Gronigen joins and Seenwijk and Coevorden taken
1591: Dirck Adriaensz. Valcooch, Den reghel der Duytsche schoolmeesters †
3 December 1592: Alexander Farnese, the Prince of Parma and gifted foe of the Dutch rebels, dies.