Episodic narratives in Spanish and Dutch chronicles on the siege of Leiden (1573–74)
Leonor Álvarez Francés

This chapter explores how chronicles written in Spanish and Dutch portrayed loyalist commander Francisco de Valdés in his role of military leader during the Siege of Leiden (1573–74). Spanish and Dutch chronicles illustrate how the main characters of the story were fabricated in order to support the underlying perceptions of the chroniclers. Remarkably enough, differences are not so much between Spanish and Dutch narratives, but depend on the overall vision the chroniclers wish to offer. Valdés and his men are shown in a negative way by Dutch historians who want to emphasize the positive qualities of the Leiden defenders, while those that do not stress local unity do not show such a negative vision on the Spanish enemy either. The same holds true for Spanish authors. Those who wish to convey a very positive picture of the Spanish let their hero Valdés fight against a negatively described enemy, while a Spanish text more neutral on the enemy can even offer a negative image of the Spanish commander.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
European military history and human universals
Gregory Hanlon

Geoffrey Parker's exploration of the common soldiery in the seventeenth century broadened our understanding of the social profile of men fighting in the various armies of the period. This chapter revises Parker’s concept of the Universal Soldier and delves into ‘the human behavioural repertory’, connecting it to the history of early modern warfare. Focusing on warfare in seventeenth-century Italy, it shows how sociology and anthropology can be used to understand the behaviour of the common soldier as ‘the human animal in collective danger’. This chapter is a call to return to the primary sources to see what these texts can teach us about the way soldiers behaved in times of war, and to this end makes use of many recent valuable insights stemming from the social sciences. It also reviews some of the salient writing in the field and suggests how historians might insert warlike behaviour they encounter in early modern Europe into a species-wide framework. Hopefully in the future we will possess a huge database of war narratives that can bring us further in understanding human behaviour surrounding war.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
The siege of Ostend in contemporary Dutch war coverage and post-war chronicles (1601–15)
Werner Thomas

The siege of Ostend was undoubtedly one of the most stirring episodes of the Revolt in the Low Countries. From July 1601 to September 1604, an army of about 20,000 royal troops continuously confronted a garrison of about 5,700 defenders. This chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the siege of Ostend in successive published sources. It demonstrates how the facts of the siege could be manipulated in printed media in order to change the outcome of the events. Texts were able to convert a defeat into a victory, and in this case it was the translation of a text that changed the meaning of the original narrative. Translations are often taken for granted by historians, but it is worth analysing how the meaning of texts could be changed in the process, and how the translation was presented to the new public.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
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Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
Raymond Fagel

The objective of this introduction is to bring the more historical outlook on war and the cultural perspective closer together by introducing the concept of the often overlooked ‘episodic narratives’, the detailed factual texts that decribe the actual stories of the war. It also pleads for the use of ‘Revolt in the Low Countries’ as a more accurate way of refering to what is commonly known as the Dutch Revolt, as not all inhabitants revolted, and the Revolt was not limited to the territory of the subsequent Dutch Republic. It is essential to study the creation of war narratives on the Revolt in a broader European context, reflecting the international character of early modern wars and the Revolt in particular. Moreover, though there are differences between early modern and contemporary war narratives, there is no reason why these texts cannot be studied in comparison.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
Italian historians on the Spanish soldiers
Cees Reijner

Nearly all Italian historians from the seventeenth century who wrote on the Revolt in the Low Countries took the view that the war waged by the Spanish monarchy against the rebels was a just one. Some of these histories, however, do contain criticism of the monarchy’s administrative and military policies in the rebellious Low Countries. This chapter focuses on the Sack of Antwerp in 1576, one of the central episodes of violence during the first phase of the Revolt in the Low Countries. Though most Italian historians supported Spanish policy, some wrote more critically about these events. While it was a way of criticising Spanish dominance within the Italian Peninsula, the Sack of Antwerp could also be used to create a clear-cut opposition between the behaviour of Spanish and Italian military in the Low Countries. The cruelty of the Spanish soldiers could be contrasted with an image of superior and virtuous Italians fighting in the same war and on the same side. As such, these texts could be used to support an Italian patriotic language that could be found, for example, at the Medici court in Florence.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
Cristóbal Rodríguez Alva’s La inquieta Flandes (1594)
Miguel Martínez

This chapter explores how the mutinies of the army of Flanders were narrated by contemporary witnesses, historians and participant actors. In addition to revisiting the repertoire of collective actions of the mutineers themselves, it attempts to analyse their imaginaries, as well as the tropes and emplotment strategies that shaped the documents they produced. The chapter focuses on a long epic poem written by Cristóbal Rodríguez Alva, who had been active in the military both in Italy and in the Low Countries. This unknown manuscript text, consisting of more than 18,000 verses, is used to analyse the language of the mutineers, as the author of the poem was an eyewitness and a participant in mutinies in the Low Countries.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
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A comparison of episodic war narratives during the Revolt in the Low Countries
Jasper van der Steen

The Revolt divided the Low Countries into two polities: the Habsburg Netherlands in the south and the new Dutch Republic in the north. Historians have demonstrated that people in the north and south interpreted the rebellion very differently. This chapter analyses the development of episodic war narratives produced in the two different parts of the Low Countries, a loyal Habsburg part in the south, and a rebel state in the north. War narratives in the two parts diverged because of the function war memories had in society. In the Catholic south a consensual Catholic narrative could be constructed, while the religiously divided north preferred a national narrative with the Spaniards as the common enemy. Local factors such as religion and the political system also strongly influenced the ways in which stories about loyalists were told. This chapter investigates how propagandists and historical chroniclers portrayed loyalists during the period 1590–1621. This was a period in which the north and south became increasingly irreconcilable, even though on both sides of the border authors sought to persuade audiences on the other side.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
Narratives on Spanish defection during the Revolt in the Low Countries
Raymond Fagel

Defection is a considerably neglected topic in the context of the Dutch Revolt. This chapter concentrates on a selection of narrative fragments on Spanish defectors to the rebel side during the Revolt in the Low Countries. The analysis not only shows the importance of this rather unknown phenomenon, but also addresses the different ways of describing these side-changers. Especially striking is the fact that although Spanish chronicler and military man Alonso Vázquez criticizes all defectors, he does find positive words for some of them in his individual biographical descriptions. One of them, a mulatto soldier, decided to change sides after being the victim of racist comments from within his own army unit. The fact that rebel propaganda produced a strong and lasting image of all Spaniards as cruel and untrustworthy liars did not prevent the presence of Spaniards within the rebel army.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
Cross-border nobleman Sweder Schele’s (1569–1639) accounts of army commanders during the Revolt in the Low Countries and Thirty Years’ War
Raingard Esser and Dániel Moerman

This chapter delves into a chronicle produced in the frontier zone between the Low Countries and Germany, written by Sweder Schele. Engaging in the modern field of transregional history and the long-standing tradition of German studies on autobiographical texts of the Revolt, the different layers within Sweder Schele’s chronicle are deconstructed, utilizing the concept of ‘episodic memory’ as defined by Geoffrey Cubitt. As the two parts of the chronicle of Schele have been preserved separately in archives in both Germany and the Netherlands, the subject of this contribution already demonstrates the importance of historical research across borders. Schele wrote the first part of his chronicle while living in the Low Countries and the second part during his time in Germany, which makes him a personal witness and participant of both the Revolt in the Low Countries and the Thirty Years’ War in the Holy Roman Empire.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries
Military correspondence around the Sack of Antwerp (1576)
Beatriz Santiago Belmonte

In this chapter Beatriz Santiago Belmonte looks at one of the most chaotic years of the Revolt. In March 1576, the death of Governor General Luis de Requesens created a power vacuum that would worsen during the following months, leading up to the infamous Sack of Antwerp on 4 November the same year. This chapter proposes opening up the discussion on the Sack of Antwerp by looking at hitherto understudied sources: the letters of the Spanish commanders playing a prominent role in the events. The information conveyed within their letters has a strong episodic character. They saw things differently, but they also saw different things. The power vacuum created a growing disunity between the Spanish commanders and the members of the Council of State that had officially received full authority. Political and military affairs became divided for the first time since the outbreak of the Revolt. The case of the almost forgotten previous Sack of Maastricht on 20 October 1576 moreover enables us to put the events in Antwerp into a broader historical perspective.

in Early modern war narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries