Battle on the Zuiderzee

Battle on the Zuiderzee

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle on the Zuiderzee
partof=the Eighty Years' War

caption=Dutch ships after the battle.
date=October 11, 1573
place= The Zuiderzee, now the IJsselmeer
result=Decisive Dutch victory
combatant1=flagicon|Netherlands|pri Dutch rebels
commander1=Cornelis Jansz Dircksz
commander2=Maximilian de Henin Count of Bossu
strength1=24 ships, 700 sailors
strength2= 30 ships, 1300 sailors
casualties2=6 ships captured by the Dutch – 300 sailors taken prisoner

The Battle on the Zuiderzee (October 11th 1573) was a naval battle during the Eighty Years' War in which a Dutch Fleet destroyed a larger and better equipped Spanish fleet on the Zuiderzee.


For the years prior to the Battle of the Zuiderzee, one of the largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, had been occupied by the Spanish. Because supply routes for cities in the area controlled by both the Spanish and the Dutch almost exclusively went through the Zuiderzee, Dutch rebels (calling themselves Les Gueux) attempted to disturb this route as much as possible in small skirmishes and raids against Spanish ports. In 1573 the Spanish Governor Maximilian de Henin Count of Bossu sent a fleet consisting of about 30 ships with a crew of over 1300 persons with the prerogative to halt the attacks and destroy the enemy force. This fleet also included his flagship "The Inquisition". Weighing in at just over 250tons, The Inquisition had reinforced sides consisting of armored plating. Opposing Henin's fleet were a small fleet the Les Gueux managed to assemble. This fleet of 24 much smaller and lightly armed ships. Totaled, this fleet consisted of around 700 men.


Henin and his fleet left Amsterdam on October 5th and immediately hit a standstill in the midst of his attack. Les Gueux forces continually attacked Henin's fleet. Due to the Les Gueux's lack of heavily armed ships, instead of a frontal assault against the Spanish fleet, they had instead chosen to attempt to board, and if possible capture the Spanish ships. If capture wasn't possible, the boats would be destroyed. Trying to minimize their casualties against the heavier guns, the Les Gueux attempted to head straight for the Spanish ships. But during the battle, heavy winds hindered the Dutch's attempts greatly, as the winds prevented their ships from getting near to the Spanish ships, and thus halting their chance of boarding. With their main mode of attack thwarted, the Dutch fleet was no match for the Spanish guns, and suffered heavy losses.

It wasn't until October 11th that the wind turned and the Dutch could execute a surprise attack. During this attack, the Spanish flagship was boarded by the Dutch and during the course of the battle ran aground. Along the course of the battle, the Dutch attackers threw boiling water and primitive molotov cocktails at the Spanish crewmen.

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