In 1630, the Count-Duke of Olivares decided to build a new palace near the eastern border of Madrid, and would come to be known as Buen Retiro Palace. When his home was finished, Olivares was faced with task to decorate his Palace. The man decided to have paintings commissioned from many local artisans. The topics varied greatly from the military exploits of the Spanish royalty to the life and times of Hercules. One of the paintings that Diego Velázauez made for the Count-Duke was the surrender of Breda (c.1635), and it is considered to be one of his greatest works. The battle itself was in the later stages of Eighty Years War during the year 1624. The battle was between the Spanish led by aristocrat
Ambrogio Spinola, and Maurice of Nassau, the leader of the Dutch rebellion. Some english soldiers were involved as the british had backed the dutch in their revolt. Maurice would die during the siege, so the person surrendering to him in the painting is the mayor of Breda, Justin of Nassau. This painting shows might of the spanish forces by displaying them as far more organized and supplied then the dutch. This can best be seen in the status of each army's spears; the spanish have many uniform spears, while the dutch have few randoms weapons. Furthermore the spanish troops look more confident that the dutch, then again they did win.The painting portrays Spinola as not letting Justin kneel before him. Got to say that I like this painting. It perfectly displays the power of the spanish military but also shows that spanish could be understanding of the dutch that they were ruling.
Here is an english soldier's account of the seige
A biography of Velázquez
A gallery of other works by Velázquez