Biography of Ambrosio. Marqués de Espínola o Spínola (ca. 1569-1630)

Noble and military of Italian origin in the service of the Spanish monarchy. He was born in Genoa between 1569 and 1571 and died in Castelnuovo di Scrivia (Italy) September 25, 1630. It was Duke's sixth and first Marquis of Balbases or the Valbases. He fought by the Spanish monarchy in Flanders, Germany and Italy, and was one of the greatest generals of his time.

Childhood and youth

His parents were Felipe, Marquis of sixth and Benafro and Polisena Grimaldo, daughter of Nicolás Grimaldo, who had the title of Prince of Salerno. Very young, being the eldest son and heir, his father, was so his mother who was endowed with a great spirit and mood but also of utmost prudence, sweetness and religious piety attempted to give him a good education. Marcelo Espínola is first delivered a passion for exact sciences studies, mainly studies of mathematics, as well as history. Interested late in the fortification and military science, but in general all branches of the military of his time science, since the military profession was their greatest aspiration since I was very young. However, as eldest son of his illustrious and powerful family I had a series of obligations which by custom or by maternal consent was devoted to military activity unless it had previously secured the succession of his house. To this end he married in 1592, Juana Bassadonna, the cuel was a member of a large House and as such led to the marriage a substantial dowry, more than five hundred thousand crowns, which were added to the already huge fortune of Ambrose. It also gave a greater greatness, because his wife belonged by maternal line to the illustrious family of Doria. He initially devoted himself to business and managed to significantly increase his fortune through trade with what was called the Levant, but when he was around thirty years of age he began his true vocation.

The wars in Flanders

Federico Espínola, brother of Ambrose, after some years in Flanders military, with no small satisfaction of the Archduke Alberto, achieved that command of a squadron were you committed to breaking the naval power of the Dutch. Federico planned a landing in England, and when his brother Ambrose learned of their plans offered to be his partner in arms, and prior consent of the monarch, enlisted on their own in Italy, an army of 9,000 men. The 2 may 1602 Ambrosio Espínola launched his picked troop and arrived in Flanders in critical moments, when the rebel leader Mauricio de Nassau was preparing for an active campaign. At the behest of the Catholics of England Felipe III returned to the idea of sending to the coasts of Great Britain to the Espinola with a great army, so Ambrose approached Germany and Italy where wanted to recruit the necessary people, and was in Pavia when he received the news of his brother's death, which happened may 26, 1603. The King then offered him the command of the Squadron, but refused to a position of such importance, and after having personally recognized the difficulties of the company, went to Brussels to put under the orders of the Archduke, who asked for his help so that is put in front of the besieger army of Ostend, although when she appeared before Albertounder the orders of which acted, she handed him a letter from King in which told him that not used the troops brought the until Federico arrived with the squad.

The Archduke needed reinforcement of Espinola to continue the siege of Ostend, so convinced him that he should go to gave to add itself to the troops which there Francisco Mendoza, Admiral of Aragon, in order to oppose the progress of the Dutch army. Ambrosio Espínola got, September 20, 1604, successfully complete the siege of Ostend that Archduke Alberto had begun in 1601 and where he had failed. As a result, the Spanish monarch, Felipe III, appointed him general master of the troops of Flanders and Superintendent of finances. The capitulation of the besieged square credited him as a general expert.

After his victory in Ostend, Espinola marched towards Spain, in the middle of November 1604, aiming to counter the handling and intrigues that plotted to remove the command, being received as it deserved, and not only by the King, but by the magnates and the village, keeping his post and received as a prize the Golden Fleece.

His reputation as a good military was great even outside the Spanish monarchy, in such a way that when he went to Spain, and also when he returned to the Netherlands, the King of France Henry IV made him invited staff, feted him and even invited him to sit at his table. During the subsequent food gathering King tried to elicit it projects that had the general that would face the rebels of the United provinces in the following campaign. Ambrosio Espínola was aware of the sympathy that had the French sovereign over the rebels, and that this was not going to believe the plan that contase him, so as he told him the truth and in effect the King didn't believe him. He returned to the Netherlands and in 1605, according to the plan which had mentioned him to the King of France, crossed the Rhine and took the Frisian Oldenzal, Linghett and Wachtendonck, squares for which made bridges that crossed the River over the Archbishopric of Cologne. Before this the King of France indicated that it was the first time that they were deceiving him with the truth. ESPINOLA was encamped with the infantry in Roerort and Trivulcio with the cavalry in Mulen. Mauricio de Nassau take an oversight of the guard of the camps and he wanted to surprise Trivulcio, but Espinola realized this and defeated the rebel forces. However, the lack of economic resources made early in 1606 he was again towards the Court in Spain where he showed his plan, which was to organize two armies. Despite the convincing of the plan and the general military history, only Espinola managed economic resources through the mortgage on their property, however, in Spain received new appointments and honours by the most important characters of the Court.

After his stay in Spain, he went to Italy where certain family matters arranged and then returned to the Netherlands while in Lombardy he suffered an attack of fever chills. In the Netherlands, where he became at the end of June the city of Brussels, had the mission to fulfill a custom King Felipe III had done with great secrecy, and was that take oath of allegiance to the Archduke Alberto and if this is refused, did you prisoner, while he survived his wife Isabel Clara Eugenia. Shortly after that was found once again without money and must have recourse to a credit that resumed the campaign in which arrived on the banks of the river Isel, but torrential rains did change plan and conquered the squares of Gral, August 14 and Bembergh, with large losses of men. Mauricio de Nassau wanted to retrieve Gral, but failed. The development of the campaign and the economic hardships did again propose a trip to Spain, but the Secretaries of King avoided it since they knew his eloquence to persuade the King that would grant him more resources. This and the terrible situation that also had the United provinces did opting for peace. At first achieved a truce of eight months which resulted in a long peace talks and in which participated as a member of the Archdukes in the negotiations that led to the truce of twelve, in 1609, following the signing of the peace of the Hague on 9 April. When the Treaty was signed he asked permission to the King to abandon those lands, which was denied permission. The reason for such refusal was the beginning of the war against France. 29 November 1609 he had come to the territory of the Spanish monarchy, Prince de Condé, who fled from France to the persecutions that Enrique IV started.

Fearing the reaction of the French, the Archduke Alberto ordered Conde to abandon the Netherlands in three days, but Espinola, he supported other great characters, managed that he desdijera his decision. To this and other issues, Enrique IV prepared an army that wanted to enter the Spanish Netherlands with the excuse of crossing them to go to the rescue of an ally, distressed by the imperial troops. However this question not able carry out since he was promptly killed. On March 26, 1611 he left again to Spain where in 1612 he was named Grande of Spain. In June of that same year he was again in the Netherlands. Shortly after he received a new mission that reflected the confidence that the monarch, Felipe III, had on his person, when it commissioned him to congratulate on behalf of the King to the new emperor, Matias and equally that the dignity of King of the Romans was granted to infante Fernando where the Archduke Alberto apeteciese not such dignity. The tranquility was constant during this period of his life when came the succession problem in the Duchy of Cleves, by which again led the troops that the Catholic suitor, the Duke of Neuburg, argued their rights against the Duke of Brandenburg, who was assisted by Protestant troops. The campaign ended when Ambrosio Espínola conquered the important centre of Wesel, and initially Maastricht, Duren and Orsoy, after which crossed the Rhine and demolished the fortress of Mulen, which continually devastated the Catholic bishopric of Cologne


The thirty years ' war

The situation had become quiet, when in the 1620 was the participation of the Spanish monarchy in the conflict of the thirty-years war was subsequently called. The Spanish monarchy, headed by a new King, Felipe IV, from 1621, allied with imperial, Catholic camp.

Ambrosio Espínola was appointed captain general of the troops which were to invade the German region of Palatinate from Flanders. With these troops, composed of thirty thousand men, crossed, August 9, 1620, the Rhine, and in less than six months conquered more than thirty forts, which took over the lower Palatinate and parts of the Upper Palatinate, where he camped with his troops to winter. Due to the success that took the Regents was named greater Butler. But both Felipe III and the Archduke Alberto died in that range and ended the truce of twelve, by what the count-Duke of Olivares, the valid's new King, Felipe IV, ordered the Spanish troops that they went into the attack. Earlier, the new king commanded him that he remained beside the Regent Isabel Clara Eugenia and that lend him the necessary support in the political aspects while he was in charge of the military. In September 1621 he went again to the area of Cleves which sought to deal with Mauricio de Nassau. So he besieged the plaza de Juliers and during the siege, the King, Felipe IV, granted the noble title of Marquis of the Balbases, was on 17 December. When he took Juliers in February 1622, moved towards the coastal plaza de Berg op Zoom, but had to lift the siege and withdrew because there was a very high contingent of troops enemy led by Mauricio de Nassau and Mansfeld.

The next step was decided in a Council of war in Brussels, which was chaired by Isabella Clara Eugenia infanta-regente and in which it was decided the siege of Breda square. The campaign was launched on 21 June, but when he came to the outskirts of the town, he knew that it had been reinforced with 7,000 soldiers. He announced the news to the infante-regente and it delegated to Ambrosio Espínola the final decision. The captain-general, against the opinion of the rest of their bosses, started the siege on 28 August, which finally was conquered, June 5, 1625, after nine months of siege; surrender of Breda was immortalized by the painter Velázquez in his picture Spears. 3 January 1628 he went back from Brussels to Spain, which had a permission given by King Felipe IV. The years he spent in the Netherlands, although it obtained satisfactory results in the war by the maritime control which maintained against the Dutch, was embittered by the lack of economic resources. This prevented the execution of new military campaigns and also produced defections and military mutinies. He was also sorry for the loss of Groll, city to whose distress was unable to attend. Passing through France, a new King, Luis XIII, asked you about the fence that kept against the Huguenots in the port city of La Rochelle, and that he advised was to prevent reinforcements from entering by sea. When he arrived in Spain he was again honored by the whole Court, headed by the monarch himself. However the situation for him was not to his liking, since the count-Duke of Olivares had refused to listen to their advice about the Netherlands, founded on many years of experience and fighting. This made that you refused to return to those lands, since he considered it contrary to the real service, while it was not provided with the necessary economic and human resources.

The situation at the Court was very tense but again the European situation did, that because of the problems that had emerged in Italy in 1627 by the succession of the Duchy of Mantua, Espinola received the order to go there. Ambrosio Espínola accepted not pleased very good command of the Spanish army in Italy, for which he was appointed 16 July 1629 Governor of the Milan. He came to Genoa from September 19, 1629 and his disappointment increased when there was forced to fight the Duke of Mantua. It left Milan and invaded Monferrato, taking over the main squares, at the same time the German imperial troops entered in the Valtellina. In 1630 the main possessions of the Duchy were held by Spaniards except the capital, Mantua, which was besieged by another general, while Espinola besieged Casal square since May when it filed the plaza with an army of twenty-four thousand soldiers. Overwhelmed by the continuing difficulties and how not help asking nor the support of the general who besieged Mantua, which was free when the city surrendered, he received Espinola offered, 4 September 1630, the Papal Nuncio that he lifted the siege if the French restituían to the Duke of Savoy all the territories that had occupied him and retreating of the mountains beyond. But the intrigues of his enemies, who persuaded the Duke of Olivares who had him by a supporter of the Duke of Lerma, managed this will remove the authority to conclude peace. The psychic blow that earned him was so deep and painful that eventually undermine their already delicate state of health. Much effect caused the humiliation he received from such prostration, which kept the secret for some time even before his son and only communicated the news to the belligerents, who thus urged to sign the truce that they had agreed. His State of health forced him to that handed over the command of the troops, after out of camp, on 15 September, with direction to the town of Castelnuovo di Serivia, where died September 25, 1630, unless I had access fever, while incessantly slurred the words "honour and reputation".


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CERROLAZA, Spinola: a Genoese in Flanders. Madrid, Gran Capitán, 1946.

LEFEVRE, j., Spínola et la Belgique (1601-1627).Brussels, La Renaissance du Livre, 1947.

Rodríguez VILLA, a., Ambrosio Spínola, first Marquis of the Balbases. Madrid, 1905.