spoils of war

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A 16th-century etching, De plundering van Mechelen door de hertog van Alba (The Plundering of Mechelen by the Duke of Alba), by Frans Hogenberg, from the collection of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It depicts the sacking and looting of Mechelen (now in the province of Antwerp, Belgium) by the Spanish troops led by the Duke of Alba on 2 October 1572 during the Eighty Years' War.

spoils of war pl (plural only)

  1. Any profits extracted as the result of winning a war or other military activity.
    • 1701, Lucius Annaeus Seneca; Edward Sherburne, transl., “Troades; or The Royal Captives. A Tragedy, Written Originally in Latin, by Lucius Annæus Seneca, the Philosopher. Englished by Sir Edward Sherburne, Knight. With Annotations.”, in The Tragedies of L. Annæus Seneca the Philosopher; viz. Medea, Phædra and Hippolytus, Troades, or the Royal Captives, and The Rape of Helen, out of the Greek of Coluthus; Translated into English Verse; with Annotations. To which is Prefixed the Life and Death of Seneca the Philosopher; with a Vindication of the said Tragedies to Him, as Their Proper Author. Adorn'd with Sculptures Representing each History, London: Printed for S. Smith and B. Walford, at the Prince's Arms in St. Paul's Churchyard, published 1702, OCLC 642240233, Act II, scene ii, lines 33–38, pages 241–242:
      Theſe ſo great Slaughters, Nations mighty dread, / Like Whirlwinds through ſo many Cities ſpread, / Which might have been anothers cloſing Fame, / Were but his Marches Actions; thus he came: / And in ſo many glorious Conqueſts ſhar'd / The Spoils of War, while he for War prepar'd.
    • 1725, Benjamin Marshall, “A Chapter. Shewing that the Abstracted Nature of the Seventy Weeks of Years of this Prophecy, as the Said Number of Weeks of Years Contains Exactly Four Hundred and Ninety Years, and that as They Cannot Possibly Contain Less, so neither Can They Contain More than That Number of Years; [...]”, in A Chronological Treatise upon the Seventy Weeks of Daniel; [...], London: Printed for James Knapton, at the Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard, OCLC 745272124, page 56:
      For according to that Hiſtorian [Josephus] upon Nebuchadnezzar [II]'s coming to Babylon in the year after, upon his father's death, and becoming Lord of all his father's Empire, He with the SPOILS of WAR magnificently repair'd, and deckt the Temple of Bel, &c.
    • 1800, James Sedgwick, “chapter XIII”, in Remarks, Critical and Miscellaneous, on the Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone, London: Printed by M. Ritchie, Middle Street, Cloth Fair; for G. G. & J. Robinson, Paternoster Row; J[oseph] Butterworth, Fleet Street; W. Clarke & Son, Portugal Street; J. White, Fleet Street; A. Sutton, Long Acre; and John Glanville, St. James's Street, OCLC 731550056, page 261:
      The march of mankind from ſavageneſs to refinement is devious and ſlow. In that iron age when the multitude look for ſubſiſtence to the ſpoils of war, and the wants of a powerful empire are relieved by the tributes impoſed on ſubjugated ſtates, the haughty victors, devoting their captives to the taſk of cultivating the ſoil, riot in the fruits of that drudgery which they diſdain to ſhare.
    • 1810, Virgil; Christopher Pitt, transl., “Virgil’s Æneid. Book XI.”, in Samuel Johnson, editor, The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper; including the Series Edited, with Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, by Dr. Samuel Johnson: and the Most Approved Translations. The Additional Lives by Alexander Chalmers, F.S.A. In Twenty-one Volumes, volume XIX, London: Printed for J. Johnson [et al.], OCLC 230590539, page 614, column 2:
      Stripp'd of his trappings, and his head declin'd; / Æthon, his gen'rous warrior-horse, behind, / Moves with a solemn, slow, majestic pace; / And the big tears rolling down his face. / These, the young hero's [Pallas's] lance and helmet bear; / The rest, the victor seiz'd, the spoils of war.
    • 2011, Alexander Gillespie, A History of the Laws of War: Volume 2: The Customs and Laws of War with regards to Civilians in Times of Conflict, volume 2, Oxford: Hart Publishing, →ISBN:
      The taking of the spoils of war was important to both Muslim and Christian communities during the Crusades. This was particularly so due to its feudal nature, whereby large numbers of men served without pay, and booty became one of the few sources of reward and resources from which campaigns could be sustained.
    • 2016 October 27, “Sakharov prize: Yazidi women win EU freedom prize”, in BBC News[1], archived from the original on 28 October 2016:
      Tens of thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee their homes after IS [Islamic State] fighters took the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar in August 2014. Thousands of women and girls were treated as "spoils of war" and openly sold in slave markets to IS militants. They were separated from the men and boys, many of whom were shot dead.