Flanders Ardennes Lower Rhine Naarden Brielle Willemstad Bruges (Brugge) Fort van Beieren Damme Sluis Retranchement Bois-le-Duc ('s-Hertogenbosch)

Northern Netherlands

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In the 1560s the Netherlands rebelled against their Spanish masters in what is known as the Dutch Revolt. However, they had pitted themselves against the world's strongest military power and many decades of war followed. For the first few years of the revolt only the provinces of Holland and Zeeland were able to hold out against the Spanish armies because their low-lying land could be flooded for protection.

The war between the Spanish and Dutch became dominated by siege warfare, with both sides using the newly-developed bastioned'system of fortification to defend towns and key locations such as Willemstad, at the mouth of the river Maas and Retranchement guarding the channel to Sluis. These fortifications were mainly earthworks, which were both effective and cheap to construct. The low-lying nature of the land meant that ditches'were usually flooded and inundations'could be used to hamper enemy siegeworks.

After the northern Netherlands had gained independance from Spain, the French under Louis XIV'invaded the Spanish Netherlands from the south. During the Dutch Wars'the Dutch attempted to contain the French advance, but suffered humiliating defeats in the 1670s. This led to various fortresses being remodelled or strengthened, such as Naarden, which was taken by the French briefly in 1672. Much of this work was carried out by the Dutch military engineer Menno van Coehoorn.

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