Military History |
Eighty Years War
Painting Guide for the Eighty Years War
Posted 21 Feb 2001
The Eighty Years War (1568-1648) overlapped the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The painting guide or the main protagonists of the Eighty Years War, Spanish and Dutch, is given here. See the Painting Guide for the Thirty Years War page for Swedes, French, Imperialist, etc.
Spanish, Italian, Walloon Infantry
Infantry should look “splendid”, with little uniformity.
Hair (their own)
Black or dark brown
Tunic & breeches
Early (pre 1560)
Bright red (most common), yellow (common), green, blue, but also white, black, grey, brown, etc. Heath (1997) says blue was unpopular, and brown shunned because it was associated with rustics.
Contrasts common, but not garish (leave that for the Germans to come).
Often striped or patterned; pre-1600, often slashed to show contrasting material beneath. Sleeves may differ in colour.
Shoulder wings of doublet often alternative colour, sometimes striped (may have distinguished units).
Mid (1560 - 1600)
The Spanish used the same general colour scheme (Gush, 1975), but by the 1560s their foot-soldiers tended to more sombre colours, at least less brilliant colour schemes than their English opponents (Heath, 1997). Red stockings were common although other colours were possible.
Late (Post 1600)
By 1650 a black hat, white shirt, dark brown doublet and breeches and buff coat was the norm (Gush, 1975).
Neck ruff (if worn)
Hats (if worn)
Various (as above)
Base material: Various (as above); but often white
Cloaks (if worn)
Base material: Various (as above); often scarlet.
Sash (worn by officers, pikes and cavalry)
Base material: Red (always)
Base material: Brown or black. Boots sometimes red.
(Boots + straps + belt, etc)
Armour (if worn)
Mail: Iron or blackened
Linen: Probably white or off white given this idea was adopted from the Americans
Leather: Brown or buff
Plate (including helmets): Varied including steel, gunmetal, gilded, or blackened.
Shield (if used)
Face: Steel, iron or painted. If painted, then black, white or red, usually with simple patterns.
Boss (if any): Iron
Sword and dagger
Handle: Iron, ivory, or wood
Musket/Arquebus/pistol (if used)
Stock: Wood or blackened
Barrel: Steel or gunmetal
Pike (if used)
Spanish, Italian, Walloon Cavalry
as infantry, plus ....
Plumes/helmet crest (if any)
Coloured; same colour for all trappings on each horse.
Lance (if used)
Coloured to match trappings, often striped.
Spanish, Italian, Walloon Dragoons
Early dragoons had a white slouch hat with a red feather, buff coat, calfskin gauntlets and boots, and breeches decorated with red slashes and piping.
Although they favoured German costume styles, in the 16th century Dutch "Beggars" are frequently showed dressed in grey which was also a common uniform colour in the 17th century (Heath, 1997).
An orange sash was used to indicate nationality (Heath, 1997).
First Revolt (1566-7)
The rebels had flags bearing a picture of a beggar's scrip and the motto “Vive le Gueux (Long Live the Beggars)” (Parker, 1977).
Second Revolt (1572)
The Sea Beggars had a flag bearing 10 pennies referring to the Tenth Penny (Parker, 1977).
Third Revolt (1576)
The troops fighting the Spanish had mottos like (Parker, 1977):
- Pro Fide et Patria (For Faith and Fatherland)
- Pugno pro Patria (I fight for the Fatherland)
- Pro Fide et Pace (For Faith and Peace)
English troops serving in the Netherlands wore uniforms (Heath, 1997). Most often with red or blue cassocks. Yellow and red facings are also mentioned - as it happens on a blue cassock.
On German artillery the carriage was always black with red metal fittings (Miller, 1976). The wheels were left their natural colour. Barrels were bronze.
Gush, G. (1975). Renaissance Armies 1480-1650. Patrick Stephens.
Heath, I. (1997). Armies of the Sixteenth Century: The Armies of England, Ireland, the United Provinces, and the Spanish Netherlands 1487-1609. Foundry Books.
Miller, D. (1976). The Landsknechts [Men-At-Arms 58]. Osprey.
Parker, G (1977). The Dutch Revolt. Cornell University Press.