Protagonists of War

Spanish Army Commanders and the Revolt in the Low Countries

Raymond Fagel

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Monograph - paperback

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A new vision on the Revolt of the Low Countries through the eyes of Spanish commanders

Julián Romero, Sancho Dávila, Cristóbal de Mondragón, and Francisco de Valdés were prominent Spanish military commanders during the first decade of the Revolt in the Low Countries (1567–1577). Occupying key positions in this conflict, they featured as central characters in various war narratives and episodical descriptions of the events they were involved in, ranging from chronicles, poems, theatre plays, engravings, and songs to news pamphlets. To this day, they still figure as protagonists of historical novels: brave heroes in some, cruel oppressors in others. Yet personal, first-hand accounts also exist. Archival research into the letters written by these commanders now makes it possible to include their perspectives and the way they describe their own experiences. Looking through the eyes of four Spanish commanders, Protagonists of War provides the reader with an alternative reading of the Revolt, contrasting the subjective experiences of these protagonists with fictionalised perceptions.

Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).



Words of gratitude 

Chapter I: Captain Julián: the hero of the battlefield

Chapter II: Sancho Dávila: the champion of Catholic Spain 

Chapter III: Cristóbal de Mondragón: the good Spaniard 

Chapter IV: Francisco de Valdés: the exemplary soldier 

General conclusion: episodic war narratives in comparison


Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 244 × 170 × 23 mm

388 pages

ISBN: 9789462702875

Publication: September 17, 2021

Series: Avisos de Flandes 18

Languages: English

Stock item number: 143292

Raymond Fagel is lecturer in early modern history at the Institute of History, Leiden University.
To a large extent, the malleability, contradictions, and diverse interpretations of these figures are rightly presented by Fagel as inherent to the process of narrative appropriation and re-creation. Indeed, showing the numerous ways that the presentation of the actions, motives, and reputation of these figures have been shaped through the hands of chroniclers, historians, and playwrights is key to these accounts. Yet stressing this aspect of the study would understate the extent that Fagel has also deployed a wealth of administrative and personal correspondence to set the anecdotes, interpretations, and assumptions against a more substantive, verifiable account of the lives and actions of these men. In consequence, while the book tells us much about their shifting historical reputations from the sixteenth century to the present day, it also offers detailed evidence about the dynamics of military service for these officers in the Army of Flanders.
Parrott, D., Early Modern Low Countries, 6(2), 299–301.