Diego Carrillo de Mendoza Pimentel is, you guessed it, a Spanish nobleman. He was born in 1560, on the eve of a historic war (1) between the world power Spain of Philip II and the small, rebellious Holland. That war is also his link with Radboud Castle.


Military career

Diego has done the military academy and becomes an officer in the army. The house of Los Carrillos is known for its loyalty and Diego lives up to that name. He is driven, fanatical and will do just about anything for the Spanish crown. But he did not count on the Dutch.


Along with the Armada

Our hero Diego quickly makes a career and is promoted to marshal. At sea at the time, the Spanish are supreme, and when Diego is 28, Philip II decides to deploy his invincible fleet, the Armada, to conquer England once and for all (2).

Diego sails along as commander of the San Mateo. Unfortunately for both Spain and Diego, the Armada turns out not to be as invincible as thought. The English cooperate with the Dutch and are ambushed at Zeeland.


Caught in Medemblik

The San Mateo runs adrift adrift and Diego is captured for ransom. Because of his status, he is first interrogated extensively in The Hague. When the Dutch are convinced that they have extracted all the information, Diego is transferred, along with his second-in-command, to the 'Huis te Medemblick', today's Radboud Castle.

The lord of the castle at that time is Diederik van Sonoy. He is at the end of his career and has lost his power since the siege of Medemblik. Diederik is known to hate the Spaniards and now gets Diego on his roof, a Spanish nobleman who still has a whole future ahead of him.


Waiting for ransom

Because he is worth money, Diego is not an ordinary prisoner, so he has a fair amount of freedom of movement. The old prison tower (3) is reinforced and assigned to him. He must pay for his own board and lodging or he will be put on bread and water.

This is true of all prisoners of war, by the way. The Spanish nobles had plenty of money, but the ordinary soldiers did not. From Medemblik, Diego wrote letters to the Spanish governor and others requesting that the Dutch pay for the soldiers' board and lodging.

Beyond that, he can do no more than wait and see. To fill his hours, he reads a lot and draws. One drawing from his time in Medemblik has been preserved: a Spanish nobleman on horseback. Diego himself, dreaming of better times?


Always those Dutchmen

Fortunately, his ransom is paid and he is allowed to go home. It will turn out that his experience with the Armada is the first, but not the last time he loses out to the Dutch sailors. Years later, when Diego returns from the Spanish colonies in the West, he is hijacked by Piet Hein. Again at sea and again one of those miserable Dutchmen....


1) This is, of course, about the Dutch Revolt and the Eighty Years' War, the start of the Netherlands as an independent nation and the inspiration for the American Revolution, a few centuries later.

2) Through his marriage to the English Queen Mary (Bloody Mary), Philip II also thought to add England to his territory, but they have no children and after her death half-sister Elizabeth comes to power. She and Philip do not like each other. Like the Dutch, Elizabeth I is a Protestant and Philip, like the Dutch, wants England under the Catholic, Spanish crown.
Read more about the Spanish empire.
Read more about the Tudor dynasty.

3) The Catch Tower is the original, southeastern high corner tower, which now no longer exists.