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The Twelve Year Truce of 1609 essentially marked the end of the Dutch struggle for independence and a pause in one of history's longest running conflicts, The Dutch Revolt. As Peter Geyl puts it, the truce marked "an astonishing victory for the Dutch". They gave up no land and did not agree to halt their attacks on Spanish colonies and the Spanish trade empire. In return the Spanish granted the United Provinces de facto independence by describing them as "Free lands, provinces and states against who they make no claim" for the duration of the truce.

Both sides were being hit hard by the spiralling costs of their largely unsuccessful military campaigns. Expenditure by the United Provinces on the army had risen from 3.2 Million florins in 1592 to 8.8 Million in 1607. The major brunt of this increased was taken by Holland, by far the most economically successful of any of the provinces of the Netherlands. As Advocate of Holland Oldenbarneveld was one of the key proponents of peace negotiations with the Spanish Provinces and a temporary armistice was achieved in 1607.

Despite the armistice there were factions within the United Provinces who were unhappy. Both Brederode and Maurice of Nassau were unwilling to give up the fight and neither of them trusted the Spanish. Brederode felt that giving in to Spain and not continuing the fight was giving into a Madrid-Rome Catholic conspiracy to destroy the privileges and ancient liberties of Protestant estates everywhere. Maurice of Nassau had more personal reasons for his opposition to the truce. As the United Provinces' leading General he had accumulated a large power base. However he was no politician and he feared that in peace time he would lose out to men like Oldenbarneveld. Two groups emerged, Oldenbarneveld and financial and merchant groups wanted a return to peace and thus to prosperity, Brederode and Maurice felt that they must continue their "just" war.

Oldenbarneveld fought fiercely against this opposition and travelled extensively around the United Provinces attempting to convince his opponents. His political skill proved the turning point and he managed to win support for peace. The result was the Twelve Year Truce. One of the key Spanish aims in the Truce was to end Dutch commercial expansion which was threatening Spanish trade monopolies to the West and East Indies. The Dutch East India Company, found in 1602, had proved extremely successful and Spanish commercial interests had suffered.

The Truce benefited the United Provinces a great deal more than it did the Spanish provinces. As I have already stated the Truce's terms were very favourable for the Dutch and in addition during the twelve years of peace the Dutch experienced a period of intense economic boom. The United Provinces flourished and their commercial empire continued to grow, this was in stark contrast to the devastated Spanish Provinces. Having been ravaged by war, suffered from the huge emigration of the wealthy and skilled Calvinists to the United Provinces and with Antwerp still suffering from the Dutch blockade of the Scheldt the Spanish Provinces continued to experience economics depression.

The truce lasted only for the allotted twelve years and in 1621 fighting resumed.


My own notes made in class
"The Netherlands: Revolt and Independence, 1550-1650" - Martyn Rady, Arnold 1987
"The Dutch Revolt, 1559-1648" - Peter Limm, Longman 1989

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