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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

January 24th, 1597 - The Battle of Turnhout

Conflict: Dutch War of Independence

Combatants: Dutch vs. Spanish

Location: Netherlands

Outcome: Dutch victory

Dutch anger toward the overbearing rule of the Spanish swelled into rebellion in 1567. After fourteen years of revolts, uprisings, and pitched battles with the Spanish, Netherlands declared its independence. The new nation, however, would remain unrecognized for the time being while warfare continued.

In 1584, William of Orange, the appointed stadholder of the Netherlands confederation, was assassinated and succeeded by his son, Maurice of Nassau. In 1589, while Spain was distracted by war with England, Maurice launched a campaign to retake the Dutch provinces lost in the early years of fighting. In a series of victories over the course of the next decade, Maurice re-conquered many of the southern provinces.

In 1597, Maurice led 7,000 Dutch on a forced march over 24 miles to Turnhout. The Dutch had covered the distance in nine hours through bad weather and took an isolated Spanish army of 6,000 by complete surprise. The Spanish lost 2,000 soldiers killed, including their commander, and another 500 taken prisoner. The Dutch losses were around 100 men.

Battle of Turnhout by Jan Frederik Christiaan Reckleben

Points of Interest:

  • Despite declaring independence in 1581, the Dutch Republic would not be recognized until the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648.

  • Although he enjoyed a string of triumphs against Spain in the late 16th century, when war recommenced in 1621 Maurice of Nassau was unable to succeed in doing little but delay the Spanish advance into the Netherlands. He died of illness in 1625.

Maurice of Nassau by Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt



Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).

Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.

Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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