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Nassau, Prince Maurice of Orange-Nassau


Subject History » Military History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


(1567–1625) Prince Maurice of Orange-Nassau was appointed president of the council of state of what was to become the Republic of the United Provinces in 1584, the same year in which his father, William the Silent, had been assassinated. In 1585, the provincial estates of Holland and Zeeland offered him the office of stadholder, to be followed in 1587 by those of Utrecht, Gelderland and Overyssel. Simultaneously, he became captain-general of the Dutch armed forces. In conjunction with his cousin, William-Louis of Nassau (1560–1620), stadholder in Friesland and Groningen, he succeeded in introducing many reforms into the army. These were partly based on the lessons he had drawn from studying the classical authors, particularly Vegetius, Aelian, Frontinus and Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium. He reduced his disparate artillery to four basic calibres; reorganized his logistics; made his infantry more manoeuvrable by splitting the large regiments, or tercios , into smaller battalions of 580 men; and he introduced a system of drill and discipline which became the model for most European armies. In 1599, the entire Dutch field army was re-equipped with weapons of the same size and calibre. He was supported in his efforts by the advocate of Holland, Johan van Oldenbarneveldt, who occupied a key post in the new republic. Maurice had some very competent officers serving in his entourage whose ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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