On this day in Dutch history
On the 8th of September 1575, the Spanish started the siege of Woerden. Woerden is a city in the province of Utrecht.
Before the Siege, the Spanish had conquered Oudewater and a bloodbath had resulted. Another nearby town, Schoonhoven wished to avoid this and had treated with them, leading to a more peaceful conquest.
Woerden, meanwhile, was preparing for a longterm siege. They had flooded most of the land surrounding the city, so the Spanish armies couldn’t get close enough. The Count of Megen, in charge of the Spanish armies, built fortifications around the city in an attempt to cut off supplies.
On the 12th of September, the people of Woerden sent a message of the Prince of Orange, William I, that they were fighting off their attackers. The Prince sent a message back, telling them how happy he was with their resilience and that they would attempt to end the siege as soon as possible.
The city of Woerden got its supplies via Gouda and kept contact with pigeons. Because of the flooding, a lot of the supplies arrived by boat. Since the soldiers of Woerden knew the area far better than the Spanish, they were mostly able to evade their enemy. The high water at the time also helped the people of Woerden, as it made it a lot easier to catch fish. Thanks to the supplies, moral was high amongst the citizens.
The Spanish alternately threatened the city with a bloodbath, then with forgiveness if they would just return to the Catholic faith, but the citizens would have none of it and kept on fighting. During one Spanish raid on the northside of the city, where the people of Woerden kept a herd of cows, the Spanish took six cows and killed three citizens. On the Spanish side, 150 soldiers died.
While the government did discuss plans to break the siege, the Spanish abandoned the siege before any plans could be put into action. In Flanders, some of the Spanish armies were mutinous and in order to fight that, Spanish armies had to be pulled back from the north.
The last of the Spanish armies left the surrounding areas on the 10th of September 1576.
(Above: An anonymous print of the Siege of Woerden.)