General Ambrosio Spinola

General Ambrosio Spinola by Peter Paul Rubens
General Ambrosio Spinola by Peter Paul Rubens

General Spinola (1569-1630) commanded Philip III’s armies which fought the Dutch in Flanders which at the time was under the control of Spain and called The Spanish Netherlands. Spinola was a Genoese aristocrat. He was so rich that he could afford to recruit an army of eight thousand troops in Italy and, in effect, lend them to the Spanish King. His most famous victory was the recapture of the town of Breda for the king, immortalised in Velazquez’s famous picture, The Lances, which hangs in pride of place in The Prado, Madrid.

General Spinola is one of the characters in my novel, The Emerald of Burgos. He leads the 1601 march of 8000 Spanish and Italian troops from Genoa to Brussels. This is the army for which Esmeralda and her two friends, Beatrix and Susana, are camp followers. Their fiery relationships with the general’s troops and in particular one of his field marshals is described in the novel, as is their struggle to survive the siege of Ostend, another of Spinola’s triumphs.

Detail from Velazquez's The Lances. The surrender of Breda
Detail from Velazquez’s The Lances. The surrender of Breda
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