The Destruction of Neuss occurred in July 1586, during the Cologne War. Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parmas troops surrounded the city of Neuss, in total, approximately 3000 civilians died, out of a population of approximately 4500, and the entire garrison was killed. Neuss had been seized by supporters of the Protestant Prince-Elector Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg in February 1586. Adolf, Count of Moers and Neuenahr, reinforced and supplied the city and took most of his troops north, to Moers and Venlo, Cloedt had a garrison of 1600 men, mostly Germans and Dutch soldiers, some had military experience, but many were recent recruits. In June, the Duke of Parma approached the city and surrounded its landed fortifications, he was supported by Karl von Mansfeld, Francisco Verdugo, the next day, being the feast of St. Once the cannonade began, Parmas 45 artillery pounded at the walls for 30 hours with iron cannonballs weighing 30 to 50 pounds, the Spanish made several attacks, each repelled. With the ninth assault, the wall was breached, and soldiers poured into the city, the Italians from one end. They met in the marketplace in the middle, Cloedt, gravely injured, had been carried into the town. The Spanish and Italian forces entered the town from opposing ends, Parma was reportedly inclined to honor the garrison commander, Ernst demanded his blood. Soldiers found Cloedt and the man was hanged from the window. Italian and Spanish soldiers, on their rampage through the city, slaughtered the rest of the garrison, women, who had taken refuge in some of the churches, were initially spared, but when the fire started, they were forced into the street. Parma wrote to the king that over 4000 lay dead in the ditches, english observers confirmed this report, and elaborated that only 8 buildings remained standing. Although Parma had taken the city, his Protestant opponents took some comfort in the fact that the city had been destroyed in the process and was of no use as a garrison. Parma had nearly unfettered access to the Electorates northern regions, called the Niederstift, Gebhard renounced of the Electorate in 1588. Despite Ernst of Bavarias unchallenged possession, Parma continued to acquire, the history of Holland and the Dutch nation, vol. Der Kampf um das Erzstift Köln zur Zeit der Kurfürsten, holborn, Hajo, A History of Modern Germany, The Reformation. Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press,1959
Image: Neus 1586
Engraved map of the city of Neuss
The Electorate of Cologne, circa 1580. The City of Cologne, although part of the archdiocese, was not part of the Electorate.