The Dutch Army and the Military Revolutions, 1588-1688

The Dutch Army and the Military Revolutions, 1588-1688

Olaf van Nimwegen


Boydell Press



A magisterial, landmark study of the dramatic reorganizations that transformed the Dutch Army into a disciplined force able to successfully withstand the mighty armies of both Philip II's Spain and Louis XIV's France.
The Dutch army is central to all discussions about the tactical, strategic and organisational military revolution of the early modern period, but this is the first substantial work on the subject in English. This book addresses the changes that were effected in the tactics and organisation of the Dutch armed forces between 1588 and 1688. It shows how in the first decades of this period the Dutch army was transformed from an unreliable band of mercenaries into a disciplined force that could hold its own against the might of Spain. Under the leadership of Maurits of Nassau and his cousin Willem Lodewijk a tactical revolution was achieved that had a profound impact on battle. However, the Dutch army's organisational structure remained unchanged and the Dutch Republic continued to rely on mercenaries and military entrepreneurs. It was not until the latter half of the seventeenth century that the Dutch, under William III of Orange, Captain-General of the Union, introduced revolutionary changes in military organisation and established an efficient standing army. This army withstood attacks by Louis XIV and the Dutch reforms were copied by the English.

OLAF VAN NIMWEGEN has held a number of research posts in the Netherlands. He has an extensive publication record in Dutch and has published several articles on the Dutch army in English. In 2004 he was awarded the Schouwenburg Prize for an outstanding publication on Dutch military history for De Republiek der Verenigde Nederlanden als grote mogendheid [The Republic of the United Netherlands as a great power], about the role and position of the Dutch Republic in the European system of states in the period 1713 to 1756.


October 2010
62 black and white illustrations
602 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Warfare in History
ISBN: 9781843835752
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Introduction. The Notion of a Military Revolution in the Early Modern Era
The organisation and remuneration of the Dutch army (1588-1648)
The Dutch army and the revolution infantry tactics (1592-1618)
Field operations (1590-1648)
The Dutch offensive and the Spanish counter-offensive (1590-1609)
The Republic escalates her war effort (1640-1634)
Warfare hits a strategic ceiling (1635-1648)
The Dutch army under Johan de Witt and William III (1648-1688)
The conduct of war (1650-1688)
War on two fronts against England and Münster: the Dutch army falls short (1650-1667)
The dawn of large-scale land-based warfare: the War of Devolution and the 'Guerre de Hollande' (1667-1674)
War in the Spanish Netherlands: the Republic is still ill-equipped for the new, large-scale manner of warfare (1674-1678)


A valuable account. [...] Nimwegen's book is much to be welcomed. EUROPEAN HISTORY QUARTERLY

[From the Dutch edition] An outstanding analytical and narrative history of the "mature" Dutch army. JOURNAL OF MILITARY HISTORY

Praise for the original Dutch edition:
Van Nimwegen's book is the first fully fledged overview of the Dutch army in the 17th century. The self-image of the Netherlands as a peaceable nation has for a long time stood in the way of a serious scholarly study of this subject. TROUW [Maarten Prak]
Deserves a central place in any specialist discussion about the army in the Dutch Republic. The richly knowledgeable but level-headed style and the well-chosen quotations will make it appealing to a broader readership as well. BMGN [Jeroen Duindam]

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