For a small nation the Dutch have been involved in a great number of battles and wars, often against nation multiple the size of the Netherlands.
Although the Dutch didn’t win all the battles there were quite a few where they were the victors
On the 25th of April 1607, the Dutch defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Gibraltar. Under the command of Jacob van Heemskerk.
A fleet of 26 ships attacked a Spanish fleet of 21 vessels under the command of Don Juan Álvarez de Ávila.The actual event took place during the 80 Years War which began in 1568 as a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces against the sovereign power of the Habsburg Netherlands and therefore against Philip II of Spain. The battle is considered the first and perhaps the greatest of Dutch naval victories against Spain in their fight for independence. The Dutch Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck died during the battle and gained instant immortality in his homeland.
The Dutch defeated the Spaniards by doubling up on the galleons, several of which caught fire and one exploded. At the close of the battle, the Dutch dispatched boats, killing hundreds of Spanish sailors who were in the water.
The Dutch lost 100 men including admiral Van Heemskerk. Sixty Dutch were wounded. Depending on the sources, most or all of the Spanish ships were lost and between 3500 and 4000 Spaniards killed or captured. Álvarez de Ávila was amongst the dead.
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On this day
The Battle of Heiligerlee (Heiligerlee, Groningen, 23 May 1568) was fought between Dutch rebels and the Spanish army of Friesland. This was the first Dutch victory during the Eighty Years’ War.
The Groningen province of the Spanish Netherlands was invaded by an army consisting of 3,900 infantry led by Louis of Nassau and 200 cavalry led by Adolf of Nassau.
Both were brothers of William I of Orange.
The intention was to begin an armed uprising against the Spanish rulers of the Netherlands.
The Stewart of Friesland and also Duke of Aremberg, Johan de Ligne, had an army of 3,200 infantry and 20 cavalry.Aremberg initially avoided confrontation, awaiting reinforcements from the Count of Meghem. However, on 23 May, Adolf’s cavalry lured him to an ambush at the monastery of Heiligerlee. Louis’ infantry, making up the bulk of the army, defeated the Spanish force which lost 1,500–2,000 men, while the invading force lost 50, including Adolf. The rebels captured seven cannon.
The invading force however, did not capture any cities and was soon defeated at the Battle of Jemmingen.
The death of Adolf of Nassau is mentioned in the Dutch national anthem (4th verse):
“Lijf en goed al te samen
heb ik u niet verschoond,
mijn broeders hoog van namen
hebben ‘t u ook vertoond:
Graaf Adolf is gebleven
in Friesland in de slag,”
zijn ziel in ‘t eeuwig leven
verwacht de jongste dag
- “Count Adolf stayed behind, in Friesland, in the battle
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