Military Wiki
Siege of Ostend
Part of the Eighty Years' War
Sitio de Ostende.jpg
Siege of Ostend by Pieter Snayers, oil on canvas.
Date5 July 1601 – 16 September 1604
LocationOstend (present-day Belgium)
Result Spanish victory
Dutch Republic United Provinces
England England
Commanders and leaders
Dutch Republic Daniel de Hertaing
England Francis Vere
Spain Archduke Albrecht
Spain Ambrosio Spinola
40,000 infantry,
9,500 cavalry
68,500 infantry,
12,000 cavalry
Casualties and losses
30,000 dead or wounded
15,000 captured
+30,000 civilians
35,000 dead or wounded

Machines for the Siege of Ostend developed by Pompeo Targone and G. Gamurini. Drawn by P. Giustiniano, Delle guerre di Fiandra libri VI, Antwerp, 1609.

The Siege of Ostend was a three-year siege of the city of Ostend (in present-day Belgium) during the Eighty Years' War and one of the longest sieges in history. It is remembered as the bloodiest battle of the war, and culminated in a Spanish victory. It is said "the Spanish assailed the unassailable; the Dutch defended the indefensible."[1]

General Sir Francis Vere led a 3,000-men strong English army in support of the Dutch, and was appointed Governor of Ostende by Maurice of Nassau in 1601. After a skillful defence of the city, the English commander left Ostende in March 1602, but the remaining English troops continued to fight for the Dutch until the end.[2]

The siege was described as a "long carnival of death", in 1603, General Spinola assumed command of the Spanish forces. Under his able leadership, the Spanish tore Ostend's outer defenses from the exhausted Dutch and put what remained of the city under the muzzles of their guns, compelling the Dutch to surrender. The cost of the victory was enormous: 35,000 men had been killed or wounded in the blasted trenches and dugouts surrounding the ruined city. The next two years saw the Spanish increasing the pressure on the Dutch as Spinola captured Oldenzaal, Lochem, Lingen, Rijnberk and Groenlo despite the efforts of the Dutch army under Maurice of Nassau, reducing trade and causing great fear within the United Provinces. The shocking devastation suffered at Ostend produced the first serious thoughts about searching for a peace agreement. The Dutch made an approach to the Spanish Crown and after difficult negotiations signed a Twelve Year Truce.

Among the Dutch dead include the father of Kiliaen van Rensselaer, ancestor of the prominent American political family - the van Rensselaer family of New York.

Citations and notes

  1. Siege of Ostende Journal at Glasgow University
  2. Williams, Penry (1998). The Later Tudors: England, 1547-1603. Oxford University Press, p. 380. ISBN 0192880446


  • Simoni, Anna E. C., The Ostend Story: Early Tales of the Great Siege and the Mediating Role of Henrick van Hastens (‘t-Goy-Houten: HES & De Graaf Publishers, 2003) ISBN 90-6194-159-8
  • Routledge & Kegan Paul, Siege warfare: the fortress in the early modern world, 1494-1660.
  • Lombaerde, P., "The fortifications of Ostend during the Great Siege of 1601-1604", Fort (Fortress Study Group), 1999, (27), pp. 93–112

External links

Coordinates: 51°13′01″N 2°54′00″E / 51.217°N 2.900°E / 51.217; 2.900

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