The Capture of Brielle by the Watergeuzen, on 1 April 1572 marked a turning point in the uprising of the Low Countries against Spain in the Eighty Years' War. Militarily the success was minor as the port of Brielle was undefended, but it provided the first foothold on land for the rebels at a time when the rebellion was all but crushed, and it offered the sign for a new revolt throughout the Netherlands which led to the formation of the Dutch Republic.
The Watergeuzen were led by William van der Marck, Lord of Lumey, and by two of his captains, Willem Bloys van Treslong and Lenaert Jansz de Graeff. After they were expelled from England by Elizabeth I, they needed a place to shelter their 25 ships. As they sailed towards Brielle, they were surprised to find out that the Spanish garrison had left in order to deal with trouble in Utrecht. On the evening of April 1, the 600 men sacked the undefended port. As they were preparing to leave, one of the men said there was no reason they should leave where they were.
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