Night assault on Ardres or Capture of the low town of Ardres

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Night assault on Ardres or Capture of the low town of Ardres
The night attack and capture of the town of Ardres is depicted in this tapestry, the third of the cycle. After storming Calais, Archduke Albert’s troops took the nearby town of Ardres on the 23rd May, 1596.

Assault and burning

On the 9th May 1596, Archduke Albert departed from Calais with 9,000 infantrymen and 1,200 cavalrymen to attack the nearby stronghold of Ardres. The tapestry depicts the night when the Archduke’s troops took this stronghold and set light to it. In the foreground, we see the infantry, led by Don Luis de Velasco. In the upper left-hand part, the cavalry are depicted along with the cannon fire which set light to the town of Ardres.

Archduke Albert

In the tapestry, the attack takes place under the watch of Archduke Albert, who observes the action closely, accompanied by his military staff, from a tower on the right-hand side of the panel.

The border

The border, as in the other tapestries in the series, contains the same motifs related to military victories are repeated: weapons, armour, palm branches of victory and laurel wreaths. Three emblems are also included, which vary between each piece in the series, and a banner with a weaved Latin inscription telling us about the scene.


In the upper banner we find the following inscription: ARDA CALETENSIS AGRI PROPVGNACVLUM NOCTVRNA OBSIDIONE OPPRIMITVR [Ardres, a fortress in the region of Calais, is besieged by night].

In the lower border, an emblem bears the inscription NON RVINA SED AQVA [Not water, but ruins], a clear allusion to the episode of the capture of Ardres. In the banner we see several men trying to put out the fires with the remains of ruined buildings, instead of water.

On the left-hand edge, the banner containing the emblem depicts a goshawk in flight, clutching another bird in its talons and pursuing yet more birds. We also see a hunter, a hare draped over his shoulder, hunting another hare with his dog. The inscription reads: PARTA TENENS NON PARTA SEQVOR [I have made gains, I seek no further gains].

In the banner on the right-hand edge, the moon travels through the sky in a horse-drawn carriage, above the symbols of the god Apollo: the tripod, the staff and the cup of sacrifices. The inscription reads: AVCTOR EGO AVDENDI [I am the author of my daring].

Series Triumphs and battles of Archduke Albert

Third tapestry in the series

Model Otto van Veen y Hans I Snellinck

Manufacture Martin Reynbouts, Bruselas, 1597-1599

Fabric Gold, silver, silk and wool

Size 356 x 397 cm

Location Royal Palace of Madrid

Origin Collection of Philip IV

On display Royal Armoury

National Heritage Inv. N. 10005714


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