The Eighty Years’ War resulted from the revolt of the Seventeen United Provinces of the Netherlands against the political and religious supremacy of Philip II of Spain. The War started in 1566 with an iconoclastic fury known as ‘Beeldenstorm’. During the Beeldenstorm, Calvinists in Europe destroyed icons and other religious outings in Catholic churches.
Despite it being interesting, I won’t go into the details of the war, but pick out a fascinating event that happened in 1590.
In February 1590, a nobleman named Charles de Heraugiere was ordered by Maurice of Nassau to explore the conditions of Breda, and to discover possible weaknesses. With help of a bargeman who was loyal to the Dutch by trade, he entered the city in his barge: hidden between peat for winter along with a small group of soldiers. To his surprise, no one checked the barge upon entering town. Heraugiere (who apparently knew his classics), recognized the Trojan Horse style trick was the ideal opportunity for smuggling soldiers beyond the city walls.
Reporting back to Maurice, it was decided to station 1700 Dutch and English soldiers near Breda. Despite difficulties caused by wintry conditions, De Heraugiere and a small group of soldiers managed to enter the city hidden under piles of peat at night, March 3, 1590. The following day, they left their hiding places at dawn and took the guards by surprise and gained control over the city very rapidly. By the time Maurice and his troops arrived, the city was ready to surrender.
The capture of Breda marked a turning point in the War. After years of defensive strategy, the Dutch and English forces had at last achieved an offensive success. Maurice used Breda as an operational base and conquered other cities quickly afterwards.
And the bargemen? They were given subsidy for life :).