Sie sind auf Seite 1von 19


Olaf van Nimwegen

1he Dutch Army and the Military Reolutions ,1588-1688,
Since the 1950s Michael Roberts` idea o a military reolution between
1560-1660 has become a common eature o all military studies dealing
with the early modern period, and this seems to be particularly the case
in the Lnglish speaking world. Roberts argued that the introduction o
irearms led to new tactics. 1he complexities o the new way o ighting
required stricter discipline and a higher leel o training. Soldiers became
expensie articles to be retained in peacetime. 1he deelopment o
standing armies required higher taxes, and hence the creation o a go-
ernmental apparatus to eect this. "1he transormation in the scale o
war led ineitably to an increase in the authority o the state. ,., 1his
deelopment, and the new style o warare itsel, called or new adminis-
tratie methods and standards, and the new administration was rom the
beginning centralized and royal." lurther army growth was now possible,
increasing the scale o war and the impact on society.
loweer, although
Roberts and subsequently Georey Parker
made important contribu-
tions to the debate concerning the relationship between military change
and society at large, it should be remembered that Roberts was elaborat-
ing a amiliar theme. 1he notion that the Dutch army reorms instigated
by the two Nassau cousins Maurice and \illiam Louis ushered in a new
era in military history was already well established. 1he 1934 PhD thesis
by the Dutch military historian J.\. \ijn - et /ri;g.reev iv aev ti;a rav
riv. Mavrit. - scientiically underscored the widely held iew that the
Dutch army really came into being thanks to the good care o Maurice.
And in 1953 the German historian Gerhard Oestreich set out to proe
that Maurice and \illiam Louis were not only responsible or the return
Michael Roberts, 1he Military Reolution, 1560-1660, reprinted in: Cliord J. Rogers
,ed.,, 1he Military Reolution debate. Readings on the military transormation o Lar-
ly Modern Lurope, Boulder et al. 1995, pp. 13-35, quotation at p. 20.
Georey Parker, 1he army o llanders and the Spanish road 156-1659. 1he logistics
o Spanish ictory and deeat in the Low Countries` \ars, ,192, reised edition Cam-
bridge 1990, 1he Military Reolution. Military innoation and the rise o the \est,
1500-1800, Cambridge
1996, Military Reolution 1560-1660 - A myth ,199,,
reprinted in: Rogers, 1he Military Reolution debate ,n. 1,, pp. 3-54, lrom the house
o Orange to the house o Bush: 400 years o 'reolutions in military aairs', in: Mili-
taire Spectator, 12, 4 ,2003, pp. 1-193.
o military discipline and drill, but also or the birth o the standing army.
1he dark era o the soldateska had ended, the reined proessional super-
seded the rough mercenary.
In the 1960s and 190s \erner lahlweg,
partly inspired by and partly in reaction to Roberts and Oestreich, pro-
pounded a new iew. Already in 1941 lahlweg had explored in his PhD
thesis the close link between the Nassau reorms and the tactics
employed by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
lahlweg now maintained
that the struggle or surial waged by the Dutch in their reolt against
the King o Spain orced them to create an entirely new army. le agreed
with Oestreich that the introduction o drill and the emulation o the
ancients were an essential part o this transormation, but he no longer
saw these as the core o the reorm. "Sie |the army reorm| ist ielmehr
ein totaler Umormungs- oder Schopungsorgang, der mehr oder weni-
ger alle Bereiche des leeres- und Kriegswesens erasst."
According to
lahlweg the Nassau army reorms consisted o seen parts: 1. systema-
tized drill, 2. a modern general sta, 3. organized military-supply, 4. the
moulding o a proessional oicers corps, 5. practical usage o natural
sciences ,pyrotechnics,, 6. modern command structures ,"zahlreiche
Beehlshaber, systemisierte lierarchie",, and inally high mobility and
lexibility in tactical manoeures.
According to lahlweg all these
changes were eectuated in just one decade: between 1590 and 1600.
lahlweg did not eschew superlatie terms to explain this phenomenal
deelopment. According to him the Dutch war or independence was a
"totale|r| \iderstandskrieg", which necessitated the application o all
"Krte der Nation in einem zeitweiligen Lxistenzkamp."

1he importance lahlweg attributed to the Nassau army reorms seems

Gerhard Oestreich, Der romische Stoizismus und die oranische leeresreorm, in:
listorische Zeitschrit 16 ,1953,, pp. 1-43.
\erner lahlweg, Die leeresreorm der Oranier und die Antike. Studien zur
Geschichte des Kriegswesens der Niederlande, Deutschlands, lrankreichs, Lnglands,
Italiens, Spaniens und der Schweiz om Jahre 1589 bis zum Drei|igjhrigen Kriege,
Berlin 1941.
\erner lahlweg, Die Oranische leeresreorm. Ihr \eiterwirken und die Bereiung
und Ltablierung der Niederlande. Studien und Betrachtungen, in: Nassauische Anna-
len 80 ,1969,, pp. 13-15, at p. 139.
\erner lahlweg, Aspekte und Probleme der Reorm des niederlndischen Kriegswe-
sens unter Prinz Moritz on Oranien, in: Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreende de
Geschiedenis der Nederlanden 86,191,, p. 161-1, at p. 164.

\erner lahlweg, Die leeresreorm der Oranier. Das Kriegsbuch des Graen Johann
on Nassau-Siegen, \iesbaden 193, introduction pp. 1-54, at p. 9.
to indicate Roberts` idea o a military reolution in the period 1560-
1660. loweer lahlweg`s thesis does not ully conince the reader. lirst-
ly, in the last decade o the sixteenth century the ehemence o the Spa-
nish attacks on the Dutch rebels receded because o the Spanish inter-
ention in the lrench ciil war. Secondly, lahlweg`s insistence that
Maurice and \illiam Louis were responsible or the creation o a modern
oicers corps, the implementation o new command structures and the
deelopment o a logistical support system, is not correct. As Daid Par-
rott points out in his study on Ricbetiev`. arv, ,2001, early modern states
were unable to aect structural changes, except when orced to do so by
external orces.
Contrary to lahlweg`s assertion the Dutch were not
ighting a battle or surial in the 1590s. lahlweg`s idea that an "Lxi-
stenzkamp" occasioned structural changes is, howeer, ully applicable
on the 160s. Indeed, the \ear o Disaster ,162, saw the birth o the
Dutch standing army, the build-up o a modern oicer corps and the rea-
lization o the magazine system o supply. \hat then is the importance
o the Nassau army reorms Are they just propaganda as Parrott
And should we thereore conclude that the tripartite diision o
the military reolution put orward by the British historian Jeremy Black
is the best alternatie to Roberts` or Parker`s modiied ersion o the mili-
tary reolution Black agrees with Parker that the deelopment around
1500 o a new system o ortiication - the "trace italienne" - radically
changed warare, but Black dismisses the period 1560-1660 as one o
military stagnation. le argues instead that the spectacular growth o
Luropean armies beginning in the second hal o the seenteenth centu-
ry, and the impact o new weaponry make the period 1660-120 a reo-
lutionary one. In 189 a third military reolution began with the adent
o mass armies.
Black and Parrott are so eager to dismiss the Roberts
thesis that they oerlooked an important act. Granted they are right that
between 1560 and 1660 no structural changes are perceptible in the orga-
nization o the Dutch and lrench armies. loweer, this does not mean
it was a period o military stagnation. On the contrary, on a tactical leel
Daid Parrott, Richelieu`s army. \ar, goernment and society in lrance 1624-1642,
Cambridge 2001, p. 100-111.
Ibid., 26.
Jeremy Black, Luropean warare 1660-1815, New laen et al. 1994, pp. -20, 32, 89
and 92.
Maurice and \illiam Louis were responsible or reorms that truly merit
the term reolutionary. Parker ery rightly stresses the enormous
importance that is due to the deelopment o a method that made sus-
tainable olley ire possible.
Instead o one all embracing military reolution in the period 1560-1660
and the tripartite one oered by Black, I would like to suggest a dierent
approach. Around 1600 Lurope witnessed a tacticat military reolution.
Its consequences were limited to the ield o tactics because they did not
entail structural changes. Armies were recruited and oicered as beore.
In the 160s and 1680s an orgaviatiovat military reolution took place.
1he tactical reorms were embedded in this second reolution, which saw
the birth o the standing proessional army. In lrance this change was
eected by the aspirations o Louis XIV or an uniersal monarchy. 1he
"Guerre d`lollande" inoled the Dutch in a war which justiies ully
lahlweg`s term "Lxistenzkamp". 1he Austrians and rom 1688 onwards
the Lnglish as well were drawn into this ight against the Sun King.
1he core o my article will be deoted to discussing the tactical and orga-
nizational reolutions rom the perspectie o the Dutch army. lirstly, I
will look at the army under the command o Maurice, \illiam Louis and
lrederick lenry. Secondly, I will deal with the organization o the "new"
Dutch army under \illiam III.
1be Dvtcb arv, frov tbe tate 1tb to tbe fir.t batf of tbe .erevteevtb cevtvr,
1he army o the States-General was in disarray in the 1580s. 1he death
o \illiam o Orange in 1584 and the irresponsible actions o Goernor-
General Leicester diided the United Proinces and let to unrest amongst
the troops. Mutinies and the betrayal o towns to the Spaniards were the
consequence. 1he dismissal o Leicester and the introduction o the
"repartitiestelsel" in 1588 preented the disintegration o the Dutch
orces. 1he "repartitiestelsel" allotted a portion o the payment o the
Dutch troops to each o the member proinces organized in the Union
o Utrecht ,159,. lolland`s share was 64.25 percent ,rom 1599 to 192
it was 58 percent,, this relecting the act that it was the wealthiest and
most populous proince. Already in December 1586 the lollanders
Parker, lrom the house o Orange to the house o Bush ,n. 1,, p. 180-181.
under the leadership o Johan an Oldenbarneelt maintained that the
size o the Dutch army should neer exceed the unds that the proinces
were ready to allot to it. Accordingly, in 1588 the number o Dutch troops
was reduced rom 29.60 to 20.500 men ,paper strength,.
1he relatiely
small size o the Dutch army made it imperatie to minimize the die-
rence between paper and eectie strength, and that the soldiers were
trained and disciplined to perection. 1hereore it was a question o the
utmost importance whether these aims could be achieed or not.
1he organization o the army o the States-General was based on the
time-honoured principle that the company commanders were responsi-
ble or the upkeep o their units. 1he goernment ,i.e. the States o the
Seen Proinces, the States-General and the Council o State, stipulated
the size and composition a company should hae, and accordingly paid
the captains o oot and horse a monthly lump sum or its upkeep. Muster
commissioners were responsible or checking whether the companies
complied with regulations. 1hey deducted the pay o missing troops rom
the speciied sum. 1his might hae seemed reasonable, but its eect was
negatie. Instead o urging the commanders to maintain their units at ull
strength it orced them to deraud the goernment, as an anonymous
adiser to the States o lolland obsered.
1he captains were obliged to
replace any loss rom their own pockets, regardless whether soldiers were
killed in action, died o disease or accident or had deserted. Only ater
they had made good their losses, were captains again entitled to ull pay,
but it could be months beore a new muster had taken place, and the
recruits had to be ed in the meantime. 1he company commanders there-
ore adopted the habit o leading the muster commissioners by the nose
in order to create a und or the replacement o losses. 1hey did this by
hiring people who pretended to belong to the unit during the muster, so-
called a..erotavtev. 1he muster commissioners were ully aware o this
raudulent practice, but they oten looked the other way in order not to
rustrate military operations. Reductions in pay ineitably led to a reduc-
Nationaal Archie ,NA,, 1he lague, Collectie Van der loop 123, Resolution States-
General 4 December 1586.
NA, 1weede Adeling, Collectie Goldberg 305, nr. 36, "Corte ... aenwijsinghe deur wat
middel datte Ld. Gr. Mo. leeren Staeten an lolland haer krijghsolck precyselijcx
souden connen betaelen ... `t welck geschiedende souden haer Ld. Gr. Mo. konnen
oorcomen de groote rauden die door de capiteynen worden gepleeght".
tion in army size, because the company commanders reacted to this by
letting go their most experienced and thereore most expensie soldiers.
In July 1605 Lrnst Casimir count o Nassau-Dietz, a younger brother o
\illiam Louis, preented the commissioners to muster his orce because,
as he explained to the ield deputies o the States-General, the captains
would immediately retaliate by licensing troops, which would reduce the
size o his command by 500 men or more.
Instead o mustering Maurice
and his Nassau cousins thereore preerred a reiew to get a clear picture
o the size o their army. Reiews did not hae inancial consequences or
the captains. Maurice estimated that raud together with illness and
deaths caused by ighting were responsible or a dierence o a quarter
to a third between paper and eectie unit strengths. In June 1604 he
obsered: "1hat the army can neer be in the ield or three or our
months without eneebling a great part o it or one third or quarter o the
troops as a result o illness, desertions, deaths and injuries."
lor the
Dutch army in its entirety ,troops in garrisons and in the ield, the die-
rence between real and paper strength was roughly 25 percent. Although
a large gap existed between paper and eectie strengths, the Dutch army
still compared aourably to the lrench and Spanish armies. 1he die-
rence between paper and real strength was in the lrench case at least a
third as Parrott has shown and in the case o Spain a staggering 50 per-
cent, according to Parker.
\hen comparison is made to ield armies
only, the Dutch did indeed much better than the lrench. In 1635 King
Louis XIII sent an army o 29.000 eectie men to the Netherlands. In
June just 1.000 men were still with the colours, and at the end o the year
no more than 9.000 men remained.
Parrott shows that the lrench crown deliberately ruined its captains in
order to be relieed rom paying arrears.
1he lrench goernment could
NA, Archie an de Staten-Generaal ,SG, 4911, lield deputies lenrik an Brienen, J.
an Duenoirde and Otto Roeck, Rheinberg 29 July 1605.
NA, SG 4908, lield deputies Otto Roeck and lerdinand leman, in ront o Sluis 6
June 1604.
Parrott, Richelieu`s army ,n. 8,, p. 220, Parker, 1he military reolution ,n. 2,, p. 45.
let Utrechts Archie ,lUA,, Utrecht, Archie Staten an Utrecht 654-8, Muster com-
missioner Jacob Groessen, "Lijste an `t legher `twelck a.o 1635 bij sijne Co.e Ma.t an
Vranckrijck d`loo. Mo. leeren Staten-Generael . tot secours gesonden is onder `t
beleydt an de heeren mareschals de Chastillon en|de| Brz", 11 December 1635,
Parrott, Richelieu`s army ,n. 8,, p. 190.
Parrott, Richelieu`s army ,n. 8,, pp. 350-353.
do this because it could easily ind other candidates to replace the insol-
ent captains. 1he Dutch Republic could not. lrance had 18 million inha-
bitants, the Seen Proinces 1.5 to 2 million. It is true that many oicers
and recruits o the Dutch army came rom abroad, but oten the inancial
basis o oreign oicers was less solid than that o natie-born company
commanders. As mentioned beore the Dutch goernment was not pre-
pared to gie the captains inancial compensation or losses in men and
equipment, but the Dutch regents at least tried to pay their troops regu-
larly. 1hey were aided in this endeaour by an institution peculiar to the
Dutch army, namely that o the "solliciteurs-militair". 1hese were busi-
ness-men who concluded contracts with the captains. In return or an
agreed monthly sum, they adanced the pay to the company. Oten the
Proincial States were not able to make payment in ull and in time.
1hanks to the intermediary role o the "solliciteurs-militair" the soldiers
were assured o their pay. 1his was o the utmost importance, because the
troops had to buy oodstus themseles. 1he duties o a "solliciteur-mili-
tair" were not limited to adancing money. 1hey also looked ater the
captain`s interests. \hen or example there was a dispute with the
Council o State oer the "closing" o a muster-role. Orders or payment
were issued only ater a muster-sheet had been approed, i.e. closed.
1he system o the "solliciteurs-militair" gae the Dutch Republic an
important adantage oer its enemies. loweer, in the 1630s and 1640s
this inancial arrangement nearly collapsed under the strain o army
growth. 1he three-year siege o Ostend ,1601-1604, orced the Republic
to augment its army to 31.000 eectie men and in 1608 it numbered
49.000 men. Ater the end o the 1wele \ears` 1ruce the army had to be
expanded urther. In the 1630s and 1640s it numbered 80.000 men on
paper and 60.000 eectie men. 1he proincial taxes were not up to this
leel o spending and the arrears in pay grew accordingly. leay borro-
wing on the money market and the credit adanced by the "solliciteurs-
militair" kept the military machine going, but ater the conquest o Bois
le Ducq in 1629 and Maastricht in 1632 the regents o lolland were get-
ting more and more alarmed about the inancial position o their pro-
Paul Kneel, let laagse bureau. Zeentiende-eeuwse ambtenaren tussen staatsbe-
lang en eigenbelang, Amsterdam 2001, pp. 162, 16, Zwitzer, De militie an den
Staat`. let leger an de Republiek der Verenigde Nederlanden, Amsterdam 1991, pp.
ince. At the same time the "solliciteurs-militair" loudly complained
about the enormous sums o money they had already adanced to the
troops, and which continued to grow with 600.000 guilders per "here-
maand", i.e. a pay-month o 42 days. In January 1643 lolland owed the
troops in its pay more than 3 million guilders, and the seen proinces
taken together were more than 5 million guilders in arrears. In order to
preent massie bankruptcies and mutinies the States o lolland orced
lrederick lenry to reduce the army rom 80.000 men to 60.000 men.
1he lollanders argued that this would not reduce ighting strength, since
a quarter o the troops only existed on paper, and in uture the remaining
60.000 eectie troops would be paid on time. 1he reduction took eect
on 1 March 1643.
At a size o 60.000 men the Dutch army was too small to achiee total
ictory in the Lighty \ears` \ar. A successul attack on the Spanish
Netherlands required the conquest o Antwerp, because only then the
major riers were aailable or the transport o siege artillery and ood-
stus. Since the battle o Nieuwpoort ,1600, both the Spaniards and the
Dutch were unwilling to ight another pitched battle. As long as the cap-
tains had to replace losses caused by ighting out o their own pockets,
Maurice and lrederick lenry were o the opinion that the Republic
could not risk a second Nieuwpoort. 1his created a strategic deadlock.
\ithout ictory in the ield the siege o Antwerp was out o the question.
1he care Maurice and lrederick lenry took or the Dutch troops was o
course laudable, but militarily speaking it was not always the sound thing
to do. Armies were liable to sickness and desertion anyway, and thereore
Spinola, the great Spanish commander, was o the opinion that it was
sometimes better to see troops slaughtered in the trenches or on the batt-
leield, than to loose them without putting them to any use.
1he scru-
pulousness o Maurice and lrederick lenry had moreoer the undesired
eect that no adantage was to be deried rom the great tactical exper-
NA, Rijksarchie in Zuid-lolland ,RAZl,, Archie Staten an lolland ,ASl, 1293-
II, "Staet an `t geene aen de naeolgende compagni|e|n tot in dese lopende maent
an january 1643 noch te betaelen staet" and ASl 6, Resolution Sl 8 mei 1643, NA,
RAZl, Archie Jacob Cats 32, "Rapport an de heeren Gecommitteert ... op `t stuck
an de mesnage", 11 October 1635.
Robert Jaspar an der Capellen ,ed.,, Gedenkschriten an jonkheer Alexander an
der Capellen, heere an Aartsbergen, Boedelho en Merelt, Utrecht 1-18, Vol.
I, p. 332.
tise o the Dutch troops.
During the winter o 1594-1595 \illiam Louis deeloped a method that
enabled the inantry to ire continuous olleys. 1his was a reolutionary
moment, because now or the irst time irearms could eectiely be used
in the open ield. listorians hae attached much importance to \illiam
Louis` letter to Maurice dated 8,18 December 1594. In this letter \illiam
Louis explains the "counter-march". Contrary to a wide-held opinion I
do not beliee that the counter-march was eer actually applied on the
battleield. Based on other sketches o the tactical ormation o the lri-
sian regiment,
I come to the conclusion that ater extensie trials \il-
liam Louis decided that the counter-march was not practicable. \illiam
Louis` letter gies a clue to own his doubts concerning the counter-
march. le writes immediately below the sketch: "So U. L. oersaeck ende
occasie mogen elicht becomen om daeror te lachen, dat doch sulx ivter
arietev ende avico. geschiede."
1he major drawback o the counter-
march was its ulnerability to caalry attack. Lach soldier took up a space
o 6 eet wide, so that ater discharging his weapon he could walk back
through the ranks to the rear o the unit. As a result, the ormation was
too open or hand-to-hand ighting and the pikemen were unable to oer
any protection to the soldiers armed with muskets and caliers. In the
summer o 1595 \illiam Louis had his lrisian regiment demonstrate a
new tactical manoeure - called the "conersion" - which was then
immediately adopted by Maurice, and introduced in all Dutch inantry
regiments. 1he major adantages o the conersion oer the counter-
march were its reduced complexity, smaller rontage and greater iring
speed. Instead o blocks up to nine soldiers wide, the troops now ought
in blocks with a rontage o just ie men, and a depth o nine to ten
ranks. Ater iring a olley the soldiers all turned right or let, and then
proceeded to the rear o the unit through "streets" between the seeral
blocks. Because the soldiers no longer turned about indiidually, the
space taken up by each musketeer could be reduced to 3 eet. 1he smaller
number o troops per rank, made it moreoer possible to speed up the
successie olleys. lie men walking behind one another could more
Koninklijk luisarchie, 1he lague, A24-IV-l10, 1resoar, Leeuwarden, lries Stad-
houderlijk Archie 01, 1actical ormations o 13 July and 5 August 1595.
"I you want to joke about it, do it amongst riends." lahlweg, leeresreorm ,n. 4,,
p. 610.
quickly clear the ront o the unit than nine soldiers who indiidually had
to about turn at the same time.
1be Dvtcb arv, iv tbe .ecova batf of tbe .erevteevtb cevtvr,
Ater the Peace o Munster the Dutch army was reduced to a peacetime
strength o 29.000 men. Because o its small size the maintenance o its
ability to ight was crucial. Unortunately, this was not the case. Less than
a decade ater 1648 the Dutch army was in a dismal state. 1he regiments
had been ragmented and many experienced oicers had either died or
been discharged. 1he death o lrederick lenry in 164 and o \illiam
II in 1650 had let the Dutch army without a Captain-General o the
Union. Lacking a commander-in-chie the Dutch army ell de acto apart
into seen proincial armies. lrederick lenry had maintained a high leel
o discipline among the troops, but ater his rash son had used the army
to carry out a coup d`tat, the Proincial assemblies iewed the armed
orces as a political liability. Immediately ollowing the death o \illiam
II, the States o lolland abolished the stadtholdership together with the
proincial Capitain-Generalship, and took eectie control oer the
nomination o oicers and the moing o troops in the pay o lolland.
\ith the exception o lriesland, Groningen and Drenthe, the Proincial
States o Gelderland, Zeeland, Utrecht, and Oerijssel ollowed the
example o lolland.
As a result, the Dutch army was relegated to a
orce it only or garrison duty. Until the 1660s most regents were not
particularly worried about the condition o their army. 1he American
historian l. l. Rowen rightly obsered that John de \itt, Grand Pensio-
nary o lolland rom 1653 to 162, "ailed to see ... the importance o a
speciic army esprit deeloped oer time, or him an army was a relatie
simple apparatus, something to be bought, used, and dismissed, as the
occasion required."
Aboe all De \itt cared or the reconstruction o
the nay. 1he Republic had suered deeat in the irst Anglo-Dutch \ar
,1652-1654,. 1o preent a repetition the lollanders started building a
powerul battle leet. 1hey spent millions on big warships.
1his was
Lieuwe an Aitzema, Saken an Staet en Oorlogh, 1he lague 1669, Vol. III, pp. 53-
538, l. J. G. ten Raa, let Staatsche leger, 1he lague 1921, p. 2.
l. l. Rowen, John de \itt. Grand Pensionary o lolland 1625-162, Princeton
198, pp. 599, 601.
necessitated by Lngland threatening lolland`s commerce which was ital
or the surial o the Republic. Mending the deiciencies in the Dutch
army could wait, they thought. Ater all, Spain no longer posed a threat
and in 1662 the lranco-Dutch alliance, broken in 1648, had been resto-
red. Just three years later, howeer, in 1665, the Bishop o Munster attak-
ked the Republic in conjuncture with the Lnglish King Charles II. 1he
Dutch leet perormed ery well, but the Dutch army could hardly take
the ield. Companies were under strength and the oicers inexperienced.
In March and June 1665 the Proinces had agreed to augment the Dutch
army with 20.000 men, but the implementation o this decision had not
been carried through. 1he lack o a Captain-General o the Union was
sorely elt now. It took until the winter o 1665 beore the Dutch army
was suiciently up to strength to begin a counter-oensie. In April 1666
shortage o money orced on Galen, the bishop o Munster, to make
peace with the Republic. 1o Johan Maurits o Nassau-Siegen, comman-
der o the Dutch ield army in the war with Munster, the lesson to be lear-
ned rom 1665 was clear: he warned De \itt and the other regents that
unless eery eort was made to reie the oensie capabilities o the
army, the security o the Republic could not be assured.
1he truth o
this became ully apparent the next year, when Louis XIV marched into
the Spanish Netherlands.
In 166 the lrench army threatened to oerrun the Southern Nether-
lands. A shockwae went through the Republic. In January 1668 De \itt
orged a 1riple Alliance with Lngland and Sweden to stop lrance rom
deouring the entire Spanish Netherlands. 1he Dutch nay and army
were prepared or military action: 48 warships were itted out, the army
was augmented to 69.000 men, two ield-marshals were appointed -
Johan Maurits o Nassau-Siegen and Paulus \irtz -, and inally 8.000
men were pulled together or spring manoeures. 1hanks to the experi-
ence gained in the war with Munster and Johan Maurits` eorts to restore
discipline among the rank and ile, the Dutch army was in better shape
"than she had been in many years", wrote an obserer.
1he \ar o
J. R. Bruijn, Varend erleden. De Nederlandse oorlogsloot in de zeentiende en acht-
tiende eeuw 1998, pp. 90-103.
Ola an Nimwegen, De betekenis an \illem III oor de wederopbouw en orming
an het Staatse leger ,162-168,, in: Jaarboek Oranje-Nassau museum 2002, Rotter-
dam 2003, pp. 25-39, at pp. 2-28.
Deolution did not become an Luropean war. On 2 May 1668 the peace
o Aix-la-Chapelle was signed. Louis XIV seemed to be content with the
conquests his armies had made so ar. 1he regents immediately lost
interest in implementing Johan Maurits` adise to organize the troops in
permanent regiments o 14 companies o oot and 6 companies o horse,
and to hold annual manoeures with the greater part o the Dutch army.
1he general eeling was: "let is reede, het komt`er nu soo naauw niet
op aan."
1he States-General een decided to reduce their army to just
33.000 men. 1his decision was ery unwise or two reasons: irstly, much
military expertise gained in the war with Munster was lost again, and
secondly, already in July 1669 it was apparent that Louis XIV was prepa-
ring to inade the Republic, and that the attack would begin as soon as
the lrench army was ready.
During the \ar o Deolution seeral
short-comings in the lrench army had become apparent. Louis XIV,
together with his secretaries-o-state or war, ather and son Le 1ellier,
redressed these deects. 1he discrepancy between paper and real
strengths was reduced to acceptable leels - about 10 to 20 percent -,
Inspector-General Jean Martinet igorously imposed discipline, and
hence orward oicers had to obey commands gien to them by superior
oicers regardless their own social status. In the second hal o 160 the
new lrench army oerran Lorraine. 1his operation sered a double pur-
pose: it was a "dress-rehearsal" so that remaining shortcomings could be
remedied, and new tactics tried, and secondly, it sered as a preliminary
to Louis XIV`s plans or conquering the remainder o the Spanish
lrom the start, the Sun King wanted to deal the Dutch a
knock-out blow. \ith the Dutch Republic out o the way, the principal
obstacle to lrench ambitions in the Spanish Netherlands, lrance could
NA, RAZl, Archie Johan de \itt ,AJd\,, Cornelis de \itt, Bergen op Zoom 23
April 1668.
"It is peace, it is not so ery urgent now". Lieutenant General Johan Dibbetz ,1685-
145,, let groot militair woordenboek, Den laag 140, preace.
NA, RAZl, AJd\, Johan Maurits an Nassau-Siegen, Siegen 3 July 1669.
Ronald Martin, 1he army o Louis XIV, in: Paul Sonnino ,ed.,, 1he reign o Louis
XIV, New Jersey et al. 1991, pp. 111-126, at pp. 112, 115, John A. Lynn, Giant o the
grand siecle. 1he lrench army 1610-115, Cambridge 199, pp. 111-112, Guy Row-
lands, 1he dynastic state and the army under Louis XIV. Royal serice and priate
interest 1661-101, Cambridge 2002, pp. 11, 192-193, Andr Corisier, Louis XIV, la
guerre et la naissance de l`arme moderne, in: Philippe Contamine ,ed.,, listoire mili-
taire de la lrance, Vol. I, Des origines a 115, Paris 1992, pp. 383-413, at p. 402.
start its attack on its arch-enemy Spain.
1he lrench conquest o Lorraine alarmed the regents and made them
aware that the decision to decrease the Dutch army had not been a wise
one. Between December 160 and June 162 the Dutch army was
increased to 100.000 men on paper, or about 80.000 eecties. Only
22.000 o these were aailable or ield duty, because the greatest part was
tight up in garrisons. Louis XIV attacked the Republic with 80.000 men
and possibly een 100.000 men.
1o this ery powerul army must be
added the allied orces o the bishop o Munster and the elector o Colo-
gne. 1he discrepancy in numbers turned the lrench inasion into a tri-
umphal march. Already on 23 June 162 the lrench occupied Utrecht.
1he \aterline, howeer, halted urther progress. Oerijssel, Gelderland
and Utrecht were lost to the lrench and their allies, but lolland, Zeeland,
the city o Groningen and lriesland stood their ground. 1he "Lxistenz-
kamp" compelled the Dutch to reorm their army. 1hat they succeeded
to do this in an astonishing short space o time - about two years - can
be attributed to the collaboration between \illiam III, the new Grand
Pensionary Gaspar lagel, and the two lield-Marshals Johan Maurits and
Georg lriedrich on \aldeck.
1he impending lrench attack had orced the De \itt action to appoint
the 21-year-old \illiam III commander-in-chie o the Dutch army in
lebruary 162. 1he collapse o Dutch deences resulted in the murder o
John de \itt and the eleation o \illiam III to the stadtholdership o
lolland and Zeeland. \illiam III wanted to counter-attack as soon as
possible, but the disheartened and weakened army was yet unable to
accomplish this aim. 1urning the lrench onslaught was only easible i
three conditions were met: 1. re-establishing sel-conidence in the
troops, 2. the insurance o regular pay, and 3. inancial support or the
oicers so that they could repair their losses. 1he third condition consti-
tuted a noelty. O old the Proincial States had been o the opinion that
Carl J. Lkberg, 1he ailure o Louis XIV`s Dutch \ar, Chapel lill 199, p. 112, Paul
Sonnino, Louis XIV and the origins o the Dutch war, Cambridge 1988, p. 89, Klaus
Malettke, Ludwigs XIV. Au|enpolitik zwischen Staatsrson, okonomischen Zwngen
und Sozialkonlikten, in: leinz Duchhardt ,ed.,, Rahmenbedingungen und land-
lungsspielrume europischer Au|enpolitik im Zeitalter Ludwigs XIV., Berlin 1991,
pp. 43-2, at p. 50.
NA, RAZl, lamiliearchie Van Slingelandt De Vrij 1emminck 22, Council o \ar 5
June 162.
the company-commanders themseles were responsible or maintaining
their units at ull strength. 1he disastrous circumstances preailing in
162 orced a change in attitude. During the winter o 162 and spring o
163 the States o lolland took a number o decisions that undamental-
ly changed the relationship between army and state. 1hese decisions
aected the Dutch army in its entirety. As a consequence o the lrench
inasion the Dutch army had in eect become the lolland army. 1he
occupation o Gelderland, Oerijssel en Utrecht let the troops allocated
on these three proinces without pay. 1he States o lolland decided to
take all these troops into their pay until the enemy had been repulsed. 1he
"quote" o lolland in the total army expenses grew rom 58 percent to
nearly 69 percent.
During the winter o 162 the Dutch troops lied rom hand to mouth,
especially the troops in the ormer pay o the three occupied proinces.
1he "solliciteurs-militair" were not keen on sering the company-com-
manders o these units, because they could not gie any security, haing
lost all their property to the inaders. In 1643 the collapse o army inance
had been preented by a reduction in troop-numbers. In the \ear o
Disaster that same solution was unthinkable. Lery man was needed.
Gaspar lagel deised a new system o payment. All the troops paid by
lolland were diided into eight groups, obserant with regimental orga-
nizations, and then allocated to a director. Lach group consisted on aer-
age o 63 companies o oot and 15 o horse. 1he eight directors were
obliged to sere all captains, notwithstanding their credit-status. In return
they were gien the monopoly on paying the troops, receied an interest
rate o 6.95 percent per year or money adanced to the troops, and
moreoer they were entitled to a steady monthly compensation or each
company they sered. It is not clear how long this system unctioned, but
it is certain that in 166 33 "solliciteurs-militair" were employed or
adancing money to the troops in the pay o lolland. Apparently it had
not been possible to limit their number to just eight, probably because o
the enormous sums o money inoled. 1he new situation was not dis-
adantageous or the troops, because the 33 "solliciteurs-militair" could
not reuse a captain either.
1he States o lolland also helped the company-commanders directly. In
NA, RAZl, lamiliearchie lop 6, Lxtract resolution Sl 20 June 162.
July 163 two important measures were taken.
lirst, oicers were reim-
bursed or expenses resulting rom replacing troops killed in action. 1his
was a ery important deelopment, because, as said, until that time the
captains had had to recruit losses out o their own pockets, orcing them
to resort to raud, and hampering military operations. Maurice and lre-
derick lenry loathed ighting bloody battles, because great losses would
ruin the captains. 1he arrangement recompensing losses changed this.
\ithin six weeks an army could be ready or battle again. \hereas beore
that time the Dutch army had to retire to its garrisons ater heay ighting
- as was the case ater Nieuwpoort - rom 163 onwards the Dutch army
could stay in the ield and ater a short period o recuperation risk
another battle. 1he second important measure entailed that inantry cap-
tains whose companies were mustered at 0 rank and ile were paid the
ull complement o 8 men. 1roops who died o other causes than
ighting ,illness or accident, and deserters still had to be replaced by the
captains out o their own pockets, but the States did not leae them to
their ate in those cases either. 1he bonus system enabled the company
commanders to create a und out o which these replacements could be
paid or. Captains whose companies numbered less than 0 men, howe-
er, were not entitled to this bonus, and those whose companies muste-
red below 60 men, were not only heaily ined, but were moreoer dis-
missed i they were negligent in repairing their losses within a speciied
period o time.
1he rank and ile also ared well with the greater inolement o the
goernment. lood and medical help were assured. 1he troops no longer
had to buy their basic oodstu, bread, rom local bakers, but were pro-
isioned by the irm o Machado and Pereira, "proediteurs-generaal an
den Staat". Antonio Alarez Machado and Jacob Pereira, two Seardic
Jewish merchants, bought rye on the Amsterdam grain market, stocked
this in supply depots ,magazines,, and had part o it milled. lrom the
resulting lour their bakers produced loaes o six pounds each, and car-
NA, RAZl, Archie Gaspar lagel 126, Plan or directors "an de betalinge der militie
te lande", 163, NA, RAZl, Archie Gecommitteerde Raden an lolland 3026,
Resolution Gecommitteerde Raden an lolland, 13 March 166.
Recueil an erscheide placaaten, ordonnantin, resolutin, instructin, ordres en lij-
sten &c. betreende de saaken an den oorlog te water en te lande, I ,1he lague, no.
9, "Placaat en ordre op het stuk an de monsteringe", promulgated by the States o
lolland, 19 July 163.
ted these to the army. Lach soldier was entitled to 1 1,2 pounds o bread
per day, so that six pounds suiced or our days. 1he bread price was
ixed in the bread contract concluded between the Council o State and
the "proediteurs" so that the troops were protected against rising ood
prices. \ounded soldiers receied irst aid in ield hospitals, and were
only then sent to the nearest city, resulting in a decline o soldiers who
died unnecessarily because o undressed wounds.
\hat did the States o lolland gain rom these expensie measures
lolland had not acted out o altruism, o course. 1he inancial aid or
oicers and the improement o liing conditions or the rank and ile
justiied the igorous prosecution o raud, and the introduction o ruth-
less discipline. No one was exempt rom harsh punishments any longer,
not een colonels. \hile Gaspar lagel looked ater the inancial matters,
\illiam III, \aldeck and Johan Maurits concentrated on inculcating the
Dutch troops with the proper ighting spirit. In contrast to his ancestors
\illiam III did not turn a blind eye to raud. lraudulent oicers were
cashiered, heaily ined, and could een be beheaded. 1he "ligh Council
o \ar" also seerely punished insubordination: oicers lost their rank
and had to sere as common soldiers in the Dutch Guards until they had
learned to obey, the rank and ile had to run the gauntlet or were gien
lashes. Cowardice in the ace o the enemy and looting o the own popu-
lation were considered oences punishable by death. \illiam III autho-
rized the proost-general to summary execute troops who were caught iv
ftagravti aeticto, and units that disgraced themseles on the battleield were
collectiely punished by decimation.
lrederick lenry always spoke o
the Dutch troops as his children, and although \illiam III was certainly
no Cronus, he was not as concerned or them as his orebears had been.
On the contrary, or him troops were expendable because he knew he
could make good the losses. 1he already mentioned inancial arrange-
Ola an Nimwegen, De subsistentie an het leger. Logistiek en strategie an het
Geallieerde en met name het Staatse leger tijdens de Spaanse Successieoorlog in de
Nederlanden en het leilige Roomse Rijk ,101-112,, Amsterdam 1995, p. 24, 26-39,
Antoon lubert Marie Kerkho, Oer de geneeskundige erzorging in het Staatse
leger, Nijmegen 196, pp. 56, 68-6.
lUA, luisarchie Amerongen 232, Major General Godard an Reede-Ginkel to his
ather, Zedigem 11 May 16, lollantse Mercurius, laarlem 16, p. 46, NA, Cdl
150, Notes by Adriaan an der loop, Secretary o the Council o State, concerning
the "prooost-generaal an het leger".
ments and the continuous drill ensured this. lor Maurice, \illiam Louis
and lrederick lenry turning mercenaries into disciplined and outstan-
dingly trained troops had been the goal o their eorts. 1hat the exercise
programme deeloped by them could be used to guarantee a steady
inlux o recruits or the army, was not realized by them. Ater 162 this
was sel-eident. An anonymous Dutch oicer remarked at the start o
the eighteenth century: "It is a constant truth that in war-time or in times
o recruitment, a ellow can learn to exercise in six to eight weeks and be
turned into a good soldier."
1o be air, the replacement o the match-
lock by the lintlock, and the simpliication in tactics - ire by ranks
instead o the complexities o the conersion - required less training o
late-seenteenth century troops than o their orebears around 1600.
1he military reorms carried through in the winter o 162 and irst hal
o 163 yielded astounding results. 1he eeling o deeatism and despair
was rooted out and replaced by one o deiance. In July 162 an Lnglish
pamphleteer had conidently asserted: "In the eye o all humane reason,
they |the Dutch| are like to be a sincking State."
A year on the only
Dutch conquests still in the Sun King`s hands were Grae and Maastricht,
and his three allies ,Munster, Cologne and Lngland, had deserted him. In
the summer o 163 \illiam III had started his longed or counter-oen-
sie. Ater a siege o just three days Naarden was retaken, and then \il-
liam III in conjunction with the Imperial army under Raimondo Monte-
cuccoli captured Bonn. In 164 30.000 Dutch troops were sent to the
Spanish Netherlands, where they ought together with the Spaniards and
Imperials. About the same number o troops sered there rom 165 to
168, approximating to 40 percent o total Dutch orces, which can be
estimated at 0.000 eectie men. On paper the army o the States-
General should muster around 80.000 men, so that the dierence bet-
ween oicial and eectie strength amounted to just 15 percent! 1his low
percentage is comparable to that o the lrench army. Guy Rowlands esti-
mates the dierence between real and paper strength o the lrench
orces at 10 to 20 percent.
Ater the return o peace in 168 the Dutch
army was reduced to a peace-establishment o 40.000 men. In contrast to
NA, Cdl 106, Memorie en relectie artillery`.
1he present state and condition o the Low-Countries, London 162, Library Unier-
sity o Utrecht, Special Collections, S. oct. 396.
Rowlands, 1he dynastic state ,n. 31,, p. 11.
1648, howeer, much care was now taken to ensure that regimental struc-
tures were let intact, and that the experience gained during the last war
was presered. 168 saw the birth o the Dutch standing army. 1he com-
panies exercised regularly on a regimental leel, and were mustered re-
quently. Musterrolls show that the companies o oot had an eectie
strength o about 90 percent.
Maurice and \illiam Louis were responsible or a tactical reolution.
Volley ire would dominate battleields all oer the world until the late-
nineteenth century. Drill and continuous exercise were at the heart o the
Nassau reorms. Contrary to lahlweg`s and Roberts` assertions, how-
eer, Maurice and \illiam Louis did not reorm the Dutch army. 1he
organization, inancing, and recruiting o the Dutch companies were not
altered by them. 1hey and the Proincial States did not recognize the
need to do so. Until the second hal o the seenteenth century Luropean
goernments hired troops to ight or them, but caring or the mercena-
ries they did not regard as their responsibility. 1he upkeep and recruiting
o troops were considered a priate matter that only concerned the cap-
tains. 1hat this bred raud, hampered army growth, and put seere limi-
tations on the oensie capabilities o armies, was not realized. lrom this
ollows that the reorms o Maurice and \illiam Louis were limited to
the tactical sphere, and that instead o Nassau army-reorms we should
rather speak o Nassau tactical-reorms.
1he lrench army built-up under Louis XIV and his decision to attack the
Dutch Republic caused an organizational military reolution. Between
162 and 1688 the Dutch army changed rom a collection o priately run
companies into a standing orce oicered by people whose lielihood
and career depended on goernment support. 1he suppression o raud,
the meeting out o seere disciplinary punishments, and the actie
tracking down and punishing o deserters, deterred oicers and men
alike. At the same time the oering o inancial assistance to company
commanders, the compensation or losses in men and material, better
logistics, and improed medical acilities, created conditions that enabled
NA, SG 12548.488.4, Musterrolls, 1684.
the captains to maintain their units to the satisaction o the goernment.
1he dierence in real and paper strength dropped rom an aerage o 25
percent to 15 percent. Conditions were now ripe or urther army-
growth. During the \ar o the Spanish Succession the Dutch Republic
would employ an army o more than 100.000 men. 1he greater war eort
had enormous consequences. Goernment expenditure skyrocketed and
losses in human lie grew alarmingly. In 165 and 166 lolland had to
pay on aerage 1 million guilders per year as her share in the Dutch war-
eort. In the 1630s and 1640s this had been 10 to 11 million guilders.
In the battle o Nieuwpoort 1000 Dutch and 3000 Spanish soldiers per-
ished, next to 00 and 600 wounded respectiely. Seenty-our years later
lrench casualties in the battle o Senee totalled 8000 to 10.000 men,
allied losses amounted to 10.000 to 12.000 dead and wounded and possi-
bly een a staggering 15.000. Mont-Cassel ,16, resulted in 3000 dead
and 4000 to 5000 wounded on the Dutch side, and 1200 dead and 2000
wounded on the lrench side. Compared to these bloodbaths the ictory
won by \illiam at Saint-Denis ,168, was not too dearly bought: the
lrench had suered 2500 dead and wounded, and the losses o the allies
amounted to 3000 oicers and men.
1he already-mentioned Lnglish pamphleteer maintained that the Dutch
Republic was lost in the summer o 162 "i some mighty Proidence do
not suddenly direct |i.e. aert| these Judgments threatned."
As we hae
seen it was not diine interention but the reorm o the Dutch army that
presered the Republic as a soereign state. 1ogether the tactical reolu-
tion o the 1600s and the organizational reolution carried through bet-
ween 162 and 1688 proided the Dutch with the means to hold their
own against much more powerul oes.
NA, Cdl 24, "Ordinaris en extraordinaris inkomen en lasten an lollandt" 161-
1he present state and condition o the Low-Countreis ,n. 40,.