Battle of Turnhout (1597)

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Battle of Turnhout
Part of the Eighty Years' War & the Anglo-Spanish War (1585)
The battle of Turnhout in 1597. Engraving by Jan Luycken.
Date 24 January 1597
Location Near Turnhout (present-day Belgium)
Result Dutch and English victory
Spain Spain  United Provinces
Commanders and leaders
Spain Count Varax  Dutch Republic Maurice of Nassau
Kingdom of England Francis Vere
4,000 infantry,
500 cavalry[1][2][3]
6,000 infantry,
800 cavalry[3]
Casualties and losses
2,000 killed & wounded,
500 to 700 captured[1][4]
12 to 50 casualties[1][5]

The Battle of Turnhout was a military engagement which took place on 24 January 1597 in the border area between the Northern and Southern Netherlands at Turnhout during the Eighty Years' War and the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). Though the town had not been walled, Turnhout was an important strategic town.

On 24 January 1597 on the Tielenheide (this battle is also called 'The battle on Tielenheide') in a neighbouring village (Tielen), Dutch cavalry under command of Prince Maurice met and defeated a Spanish cavalry detachment under Varax. The Spanish cavalry was driven off, after which the Dutch cavalry fell upon the straggling Spanish infantry, who being caught in marching order in the open were unable to properly form up before the cuirassiers were upon them and inside their ranks, henceforward they were routed with heavy casualties. Dutch troops also burnt parts of the local castle. The ever prudent Maurice failed to follow up and turn the tactical victory into a strategic one.


Music composer Kevin Houben commemorated the battle in his concert work, Thyellene, battle on the heath. In September 2008, Brassband Kempenzonen Tielen played this work on the site where once the battle took place.

The defeat of Varax inspired the writing of the hymn We Gather Together.