Maurice of Nassau

Dutch General
November 14, 1567 - April 23, 1625

Maurice of Nassau Notes

On July 10, 1584 William "the Silent", Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau was assasinated. His seventeen year-old son, Maurice, assumed his dead father's role as Stadholder of the Dutch Republic. The son's military genius eventually secured the Netherlands independence from Spain. A goal Maurice's father had died for.

Maurice of Nassau's military accomplishments include reorganizing the Dutch infantry into the battalion sized unit which consisted of approximately 500 soldiers. He was known as a master of "siege warfare" which utilized the combined and coordinated assets of an army's engineering and artillery components. He also created an efficient, loyal and well compensated professional army. An army strong and organized enough to defeat Spain and liberate the Dutch from Spanish rule.

In 1588 Maurice was promoted to captain and admiral-general of the Dutch union. At the time, Spain controlled most of the Netherlands with the exception of the islands of Zeeland, Utrect, and some limited area north and east of Holland. In 1589 Maurice began a series of offensives that would reclaim much of the northern Netherlands from Spain.

Maurice utilized well trained troops that were mobile and adept at using artillery fire. In a four month period the Dutch captured Zutphen (June), Deventer (July), Hulst (September 14) and Nijmegen (October 21).

After consolidating his victories in the northern Netherlands, Maurice concentrated his efforts on training his troops for military operations in the southern Netherlands.

On January 24, 1597 making use of bad weather for cover, Maurice marched his army of 7000 soldiers to Tournhout where he defeated an isolated Spanish force of 6000. Spanish losses were considerable: 2000 dead, including the commander Count Jean de Rie of Varas. Over 500 Spanish prisoners were seized. In contrast, Maurice's Dutch troops suffered only 100 fatalities.

After invading Flanders in June of 1600, Maurice fought the Battle of Nieuport on July 2. The Spanish force collapsed and suffered some 3500 casualties. The Dutch also suffered a large number of casualities. Historians estimate the number of dead Dutch troops to be at least 2000. After the siege, Maurice withdrew into Dutch Flanders.

The Spanish siege of Ostend began in 1601 and ended 3 years and 71 days later when Maurice's superiors ordered him to surrender on September 20, 1604. The casualites on both sides were enormous. Spanish casualities numbered close to 60,000 and the Dutch lost nearly 30,000 soldiers. Spain and the Netherlands concluded a truce in 1609 and this lasted until 1621 when Maurice again took the offensive. However he did not win any significant victories during this later campaign.

Maurice of Nassau died of liver disease in the Hague in 1625 at the age of 57. In ranking him number 42 on his list of 100 most influential military leaders, Michael Lanning writes:

Maurice merits inclusion in this list...because he established the battalion as the primary maneuver force and advanced the care and training of enlisted men and officers...All across Europe, other armies also copied Maurice's military organization and training techniques.


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Maurice of Nassau 1998 Cosmic Player Plate
Published: November 25, 1997
Revised: September 29, 1998
Copyright © 1997, 1998 by the Cosmic Baseball Association