The battle of the Berkumerbridge


In August 2nd 1606, the battle of the Berkumerbridge took place during the Eighty Years’ war. The Spanish army led by Ambrogio Spinola was sent to the Netherlands for an assignment of King Filips III. The army tried to cross the Black Water (Zwarte Water in Dutch) by sailing from Almelo crossing the Regge and the Overijsselse Vecht, but was stopped by a States Party garrison from Zwolle headed by Gerard van Warmelo. 

Spinola's assignment

Ambrogio Spinola was sent to the Netherlands by the Spanish king Filips III to support archduke Albert of Austria against the Dutch Revolters. During his campaign he succeeded to recapture Ostend. After that he started the annexation of the Eastern areas of the Republic, the county Zutphen and Twente. If his mission has been accomplished to annex the Eastern areas of the Republic, then they would be ruling the from the Ijssel and the Vecht to the Zuiderzee. Spinola’s target was to capture Friesland because then Groningen, the Ommelanden, Drenthe and Overijssel can’t get help of the Western part of the Netherlands and ultimately they should surrender.

Prince Maurits closely monitored the march of the army and noticed that the rivers needed to be strenghtened. He therefore strenghtened the sconces of Deventer and Zutphen. Spinola sent a small unit of his army to Holten as a diversion tactic, where it should look like they will attack Deventer. As a reaction prince Maurits withdrew three units from Lochem to strenghten the Deventer garrison. Spinola and the Spanish army suddenly surrounded the fortress on July the 21st, and the remaining two units in Lochem couldn’t withstand and finally surrendered two days later. Subsequently Spinola left for Doesburg and Bronkhorst to mislead prince Maurits.

The fight

Spinola sent a part of his army to Almelo, to cross the Black Water. Once they got in Mastenbroek, the Spanish should conquer Fort Kijk in the Vecht, besiege the city of Zwolle at his weak edge and conquer Genemuiden. However, they got noticed on their way and the drost of Zwolle, Gerard of Warmelo, was warned. He hurried, together with three groups of infantry (175 each) and one group of cavalry (also 175), to the Berkumerbridge. On the morning of the 2nd of August, this spot turned into a huge battlefield. The Spanish tried to reach the Blackwaterdike(Zwartewatersdijk in Dutch) on the other side, while the Dutch army tried to prevent this. The number of dead people was very high on both sides. The Spanish probably never reached the shore of Mastenbroek. They were forced back until they fled at the Berkumerbridge. The battle was over.

The aftermath

This defeat came really hard to Spinola: he had to quit plans to break through to the Zuiderzee so he decided to besiege Groenlo and Lochem again. His campaign to the north wasnt successful, but the Dutch army wouldnt be able to conquer anything back up to 1627. 

Spinola saw the weak spot in the Dutch defense, thats why he came so far. So after the battle of the Berkumerbridge, Zwolle took their defense way more serious. They finished their fortifications really quickly. However, the city and his land to the north werent threatened after 1606 in the Eighty Years War.



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