Siege of Leuven

Siege of Leuven
Part of the Eighty Years' War, the Thirty Years' War and the Franco-Spanish War (1635-1659)
Peter Snayers - The Relief of Louvain.jpg
Relief of Louvain. Oil on canvas by Peter Snayers.
Date24 June – 4 July 1635
LocationLeuven, Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium)
50°53′N 4°42′E / 50°53′N 4°42′E / 50.883; 4.700
ResultDecisive Spanish victory,
Franco-Dutch invasion of the Spanish Netherlands defeated[1]
Belligerents
 Spain United Provinces
 Kingdom of France
Commanders and leaders
Anthonie Schetz
Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand
Ottavio Piccolomini
Dutch Republic Prince Frederick Henry
Kingdom of France Marquis de Brézé
Kingdom of France Maréchal de Châtillon
Strength
Garrison: 4,000[2][3][4]
Relief force: 11,000[5]
50,000[2]
Casualties and losses
700At least 12,000 casualties[6]
Leuven is located in Belgium
Leuven
Leuven
Location within Belgium

The Siege of Leuven (24 June – 4 July 1635) was an important siege in the Thirty Years' War in which a Franco-Dutch army under Frederick Henry of Orange and the French Marshals Urbain de Maillé-Brezé and Gaspard III de Coligny, who had invaded the Spanish Netherlands from two sides, laid siege to the city of Leuven, defended by a force of 4,000 comprising local citizen and student militias with Walloons, Germans and Irish of the Army of Flanders under Anthonie Schetz, Baron of Grobbendonck.[4] Poor organization and logistics and the spread of sickness among the French, along with the appearance of a relief army of 11,000 Spanish and Italian troops under Ottavio Piccolomini, forced the invading army to lift the siege.[7][8] This failure allowed the Spanish forces to take the initiative and soon the invaders were forced into a headlong retreat.[1]

Background

Map of Brabant in 1645 by Joan Blaeu.

In 1635 the Dutch Republic concluded an alliance with France with the objective of taking on the Army of Flanders from two sides, in the hope of breaking the strategic stalemate in the Eighty Years' War and dividing up the Spanish Netherlands between the two partners in the alliance. The French invaded from the south and defeated the Spanish army at Les Avins on 20 May, eventually joining forces in Maastricht with Frederick Henry of Orange, who had departed the Dutch Republic in command of 20,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry soldiers,.[9] Meanwhile, the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, who was in Leuven, ordered the Spanish Tercios to move to Tienen and sent the Count of Fuenclara to Germany with instructions to call the Imperial army for help.[9]

The joint army of France and the United Provinces, then numbering 50,000 men,[9] composed by French, Dutch, German and English soldiers,[9] marched to Tienen, defended by a small garrison under Captain Martín de los Alarcos. The town was taken by assault, looted for three days, and finally razed.[9] The Spanish garrison and most of its inhabitants were massacred.[9] This event gave Ferdinand time to improve the fortifications of Leuven and to camp his army in a fortified position next to the city. The Franco-Dutch army made its appearance soon after and camped two leagues from Ferdinand's headquarters. Nevertheless, they remained inactive for eight days, which allowed the populace of all the country, but specially of Brussels, where the news of the sack of Tienen had caused great fear, to escape to safer places.[9]

Other Languages
Nederlands: Beleg van Leuven
русский: Осада Лёвена