Geuzen medals

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Geuzen medals or Beggar’s medals (also Sea Beggars medals were coined during the early days of the Dutch Revolt and the first half of the Eighty Years' War in the 16th century. During that period, a lot of medals, tokens and jetons with a political message were issued. This article deals with the earliest Geuzen medals or tokens, i.e. from the mid-century to 1577.

In the Dutch language a "geus" - plural "geuzen" - is a familiar word for people who revolted in the 16th century against the Spanish king Philip II. It started with the nobility, then the gentry and finally the common folk (all on land). Some years later, when war broke out, the title "geus" or specifically "watergeus" (meaning marine “geus”) was given to the rather irregular force of rebels fighting and living in the estuaries of the big rivers and as a distinction sometimes the name "bosgeus" ("geus" of the forest) was given to the originals.

"Geus" is derived from the French word for beggar, hence the translation of "watergeus" into "sea beggar". The expression "sea beggar" by extension now is also being applied for a land bound "geus".


The Holy Roman Empire was still at war with France when, in 1555, Philip II of Spain succeeded his father, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. After peace made was made, Philip II appointed his half-sister Margaret of Parma as viceroy in the Low Countries...
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