"Some of them, indeed, by their services in the Low Countries and on other fields of European warfare, had fairly won their title to assume the name and pomp of soldiership"
Map of the Seventeen Provinces, 1581 secession outlined in red
Public DomainMap of the Seventeen Provinces, 1581 secession outlined in red - Credit: Alexis-Marie Gochet

The Low Countries lie on the coast of north western Europe, embracing the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. From 1568 to 1648, this region was rocked by the Eighty Years’ War as it attempted to throw off the colonial rule of Spain. Not only were the Seventeen Provinces subjected to extortionate taxation, they were also devastated by Philip II of Spain’s attempt to impose Catholicism on this increasingly Protestant area through church reforms and the execution of “heretics.” England became embroiled in the ensuing rebellion when its original leader, William of Orange, died suddenly and the Dutch sought support from other European sovereigns. Though reluctant to get involved, Elizabeth I guaranteed aid for the Dutch rebels in the 1585 Treaty of Nonsuch. The ultimate end of the struggles was the separation of the northern and southern Netherlands and the establishment of the Dutch Republic.

Battle scene from the Eighty Years' War
Public DomainBattle scene from the Eighty Years' War - Credit: circle of Sebastian Vranck