How far was the failure of the Spanish armies to subdue the north caused by a) Spanish military weaknesses b) Dutch military superiority?

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Parma's Preparations and Strategy

  • Arrived in 1577 as a lieutenant under Don John
  • On Don John's death in 1578, took over as governor
  • Parma had withdrawn the Spanish troops in 1579 in accordance with the Union of Arras and instead used native troops
  • The native troops were ill-disciplined but he still managed to overrun much of the territory occupied
  • Between 1579-1583 Parma worked hard to establish the precoditions for a successful reconquest of the north; money and troops
  • In 1582 he convinced the leaders of the Southern provinces to get the Spanish troops recalled or the South would fall
  • 60,000 arrived that summer from Italy
  • He extracted a promise from Philip that they would be promptly and regularly paid
  • Strategy: -Occupy the Flemish coastline and blockade the Scheldt
  • Intended to undermine the economies of Brabant and Flanders an cut off their supply routes to the north, forcing their surrender
  • By 1584, all of Flanders had been occupied
  • Antwerp had been put under siege and finally surrendered in August 1585
  • By the en of 1585, all the great towns of Brabant had surrendered
  • After 1585, Parma's advance slackened; Holland, Zealand, Utrecht and Friesland remained uncaptured with most of Gelderland
  • Counter-offensive was began in 1590's which undid much of Parma's earlier work
  • United Provinces expanded to include Groningen and Overijssel, making 7 provinces in all plus small slices of Brabant and Flanders
  • Parma died in 1592, and everything was reversed

Dutch Failures

- Parma's triumphs owed much to the internal disorginisation of the United Provinces, rather than Spanish military success

- Dutch suffered from contradictory orders and a poor command structure

Spanish success

- Led by a general of ability and imagination 

Spanish Failure

- In 1592, two rival commanders came to power; Count of Fuentes and Count of Mansfelt took Parma's place…


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