So why did it fail? Well, that’s where the secret weapon comes in - the terrible Hellburners of Holland. These were really scarey – the nuclear weapons of the sixteenth century. They had first appeared in 1585, at the siege of Antwerp. The Spanish army had blocked access to the city with an 800 metre long bridge made of ships tied together across the river. The Dutch needed to break this blockade, or they would starve. So on the night of 4th-5th April 1585 they sent a fleet of 32 fireships floating downstream towards the bridge. The Spanish soldiers laughed. They didn’t think it would work.
All images from Wikimedia commons