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Contemporary prints and maps of the battles and sieges of the Eighty Years War

Anonymous

Siege of Ostend, 1601

VERO DISSEGNO DELLA FORTISSIMA CITTA’ DI OSTENDE, / Assediata dal Sereniss. Arciduca ALBERTO D’AVSTRIA con potentissimo essercito, quest’anno MDCI 1601 or later

Etching and engraving; printed on paper; with letterpress text printed below the map on the same sheet; mounted on paper (Mount Type A); gilt edges right and bottom | 26.5 x 33.4 cm (image and sheet) | RCIN 721112

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A high oblique view of the siege of Ostend by the Spanish army of Flanders, commanded by Albert VII, Archduke of Austria (13 November 1559-13 July 1621) governor of the Spanish Netherlands and General Ambrogio Spínola Doria (1659-25 September 1630), defended from 1601 to March 1602 by Sir Francis Vere (c.1560-18 August 1609) 5 July 1601-22 September 1604. The Eighty Years War (Dutch War of Independence) (1568-1648). Oriented with north-north-west to top (compass rose).

The siege of the heavily fortified port of Ostend – the last Dutch stronghold in the southern Netherlands- was the longest continuous siege in modern European history until the siege of Gibraltar (1779-1783). This crude print, which names Vere 'Colonel Ver', and shows the outer defences still manned by the Dutch and English. When compared with RCINs 721113 and 721114, it can be seen that the situation shown in this print probably relates to the the early period of the siege, probably in 1601 and certainly before Spinola took command of the Army of Flanders on 29 September 1603 and before March 1603 when Vere left. It shows the Spanish guns in position on the sandhills commanding the entrances to the port on each side of the town.

The town was garrisoned with 4,500 troops commanded by Vere; it was difficult to take because supplies and reinforcements were continuously provided by sea. As Simoni (2003) notes: 'among the many battles, sieges, naval encounters and all manner of other military engagements of the Eighty Years' War, none was, and perhaps is, more famous than the long drawn-out siege of Ostend in which the Spaniards assailed the unassailable and the Dutch defended the indefensible'.

Printed from a dirty and smudged plate.

  • Anonymous (cartographer)

  • Watermark: Crossbow in circle, with the letter B and another indistinct letter, trefoil above. Mount, cropped: crown with six-pointed star above

    Condition: no fold lines; pressure marks from the mounts of items which were kept above and below this print in a different collection are present on the recto and verso

  • 21.3 x 30.4 cm (neatline)

    26.5 x 33.4 cm (image and sheet)

    21.4 cm x [cropped platemark]

    51.8 x 41.1 cm (mount)

  • Printed title:

    VERO DISSEGNO DELLA FORTISSIMA CITTA’ DI OSTENDE, / Assediata dal Sereniss. Arciduca ALBERTO D’AVSTRIA con potentissimo essercito, quest’anno MDCI. [in letterpress text, across top of map]

    Additional text:

    [letterpess text in Italian giving a key to figures on the map, 1-44, below map.] 

    Annotations:

    George III heading: Ostend besieged by the Archduke Albert and the Marquis de Spinola from the 25.th June of 1601 to the 10.th of Sep.r 1604.

    Other annotations: (Recto) none. (Verso) [bottom left, red pencil:] 1/108; [bottom left, black pencil:] I/112a.

    George III catalogue entry:

    Ostend Disegno della fortissima Citta di Ostende, assediata dal Sereniss. Arciduca Alberto d’Austria con potentissimo Essercito quest’anno 1601. (besieged from the 25.th of June 1601 to the 10.th Sept.r 1604)

  • From the collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-22 October 1657); inherited by his brother, Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo (1606-1689); sold by Carlo Antonio’s grandson to Clement XI, 1703; acquired by Cardinal Alessandro Albani by 1714, from whom purchased by George III in 1762

  • Subject(s)

    Oostende, Flanders, Belgium (51°13'24"N 02°54'42"E)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    A.E.C. Simoni, The Ostend story: early tales of the great siege and the mediating role of Henrick van Haestens, 'T Goy-Houten 2003

    M. 't Hart, The Dutch Wars of Independence: warfare and commerce in the Netherlands 1570-1680, London 2014, pp. 23-24

    G. Parker, The army of Flanders and the Spanish road, 1567-1659, Cambridge 1974, reprinted 2004, pp. 1, 211-212

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