HISTORY OF HOLLAND and the Dutch Nation
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE TENTH TO THE END OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Including an account of the municipal institutions, commercial pursuits, and social habits of the people
The rise and progress of the protestant reformation in Holland.
The intestine dissentious foreign wars
BY C. M. DAVIES.
In Three Volumes
LONDON: G.Willis, Great Piazza,Covent Garden MDCCCXLI
Assemblies of the States. Truce with France. Renewal of the war. Battle of St. Quentin. Reduction of Calais by the Duke of Guise. Battle of Gravelingues. Peace. Philip solicits the erection of new Bishopricks from the Pops. Unpopularity of the Measure. Other causes of Dissatisfaction among the Netherlanders. Philip's intended departure for Spain, Appointment of Margaret, Duchess of Parma, as Governess of the Netherlands. Philip sets sail from Flushing. Council of State. Authority possessed by the Cardinal of Granvelle. Discontents of the Nobles and People. Gravelle retires. Affaire conducted by the Prince of Orange and his Adherents. Evils of their Administration. Egmond's Embassy to Spain. Decrees of the Council of Trent enforced. Inquisition and penal Edicts. Ferment in the Netherlands. Confederacy of the Nobles. The "Gueux." Scheme for moderating the penal Edicts. Embassy of Bergen and Montigny to Spain* Public Preachings of the Reformers. Iconoclasts. Effect of their Oatrages on the Mind of the Governess, and of the King. Margaret temporizes. Intercepted letters to her. Meeting of the discontented Nobles. Their difference of Opinion. Margaret makes use of it to dissolve the Confederacy. Her Success. Renewal of Severities against the Reformers. Margaret takes up Arms, Siege of Valenciennes, Decline of the popular Party. Division between Orange and Egmond. Defeat of the confederate Troops at Oosterwel. Surrender of Valenciennes. Rumour of the Duke of Alva's March into the Netherlands. Abolition of the Reformed Worship. Flight of the Prince of Orange. Alva embarks from Spain. Death of the Marquis of Bergen. General Desertion of the Netherlands.
1555 Whatever forboding suspicions the Dutch might have entertained of the ultimate designs of their young sovereign—whatever secret mistrust of the rectitude of his principles of government, they allowed none of these feelings to appear. An assembly of the states being held soon after his accession, by Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, whom he had appointed Governor-general of the Netherlands, the demand of 200,000 guilders, which in the early part of the year had been met with so many complaints of poverty and distress, was renewed; and although the same difficulties continued unabated, and that it appeared necessary in order to raise the required sum, to impose a daty upon nearly every article of raw produce exported from Holland, the deputies readily consented to the Whole sum asked of them 1.
- Adrian van der Goes, Regist. op'tjaar 1555, bl. 69—87. From the list of articles to be taxed, it appears that Holland was in the habit of exporting turf, butter, cheese, horses, kine, salt, fresh and dried fish, rabbits, fowl, and crayons. Idem, 61,62.
A fresh demand made on the part of the king in the next year, first aroused the spirit of opposition against him. It was proposed to the states, that a 1556 hundredth should be paid on immoveable property, and a fiftietssh of merchants profits. The deputies of the states of Holland, having ascertained that those of Flanders and Brabant had determined to resist the Imposition of a similar tax, declared that it would be impossible to carry it into effect in Holland, as well on account of the expense of collection, as the probability there was that men would take false oaths as to the amount of their incomes, and the oppression it would cause to the poorer classes. Finding them obstinate in their refusal, the king agreed to accept a petition of 300,000 guilders in lieu of the hundredth and fiftietssh 1.
There appeared the less occasion for these extras-ordinary burdens, as a truce with the King of Prance was concluded in the beginning of this year, under the mediation of Cardinal Pole, ambassador from England to that court. It was again broken, however, at the end of a few months, by the interference of Pope Paul IV., who, aggrieved that Henry should have treated without making him a party to the negotiations, and yet not venturing openly to avow his discontent» sent the Cardinal Caraffa as his legate to France, for the purpose of effecting its rupture.
- Adrian ran der Goes, 1556, bl. 8—11, 23—59.
By flattering Henry with the present of the consecrated sword, as Defender of the Catholic Church, and by exciting his fears lest Spain, now that she was secure on the side of France, should employ the whole force of her arms in the conquest of Italy, the cardinal succeeded in persuading him to violate his engagements; and accordingly, without any previous declaration of war, the 1557 king sent the Duke of Guise with a powerful army into Piedmont, while hostilities were commenced in the Netherlands by an unsuccessful attempt to surprise Douay 1.
Philip was no sooner aware of the designs of France, than he repaired to England, where he prevailed upon the queen, over whose actions her fondness for his person gave him entire control, to declare war against Henry. He likewise assembled in the Netherlands a body of 35,000 foot and 12,000 horse, whom he placed under the command of Emmanuel of Savoy, governor-general of the Netherlands; and taking advantage of the circumstance, that France, by the expedition to Italy, was left destitute of the greater portion of her veteran troops, he ordered his general to carry the war into the enemy's boundary, by laying siege to St Quentin, where his army was joined by 3000 English, under the Count of Pembroke, and the Lords Clinton and Grey. The town being slenderly, garrisoned Coligny, admiral of France, succeeded with some difficulty in effecting an entry with a small reinforcement of troops, which enabled it to sustain the siege, until the Constable Montmorenci could advance to its relief at the head of fifteen regiments of French and twenty-two of German infantry.
- Thuanus, lib. xvii., cap. 4, 7 ; lib. xviii., cap. 1, 2.
1557 Montmorenci, on his approach, found that the Netherland commander had drawn out his forces before the walls of St. Quentin, in readiness to give him battle, 2000 of his troops having taken their post at a mill somewhat in advance of the main army. The engagement commencing with these, they were driven back with considerable slaughter, when Lamoral, Count of Egmond, at the head of the Netherland horse, made a sudden attack on the enemy's flank, which caused them to waver; perceiving this, the Counts of Mansfeldt, Hoogstradt, and Lalain assaulted them in front with such impetuosity, that their ranks were speedily broken: the flight, begun by the servants of the camp, soon became universal among the cavalry; the infantry, however, continued the fight during nearly four hours longer, but were at length nearly all disabled: 2500 of the French were killed, among whom were John of Bourbon, brother of the Prince of Condé, and several others of the most illustrious nobility; and the whole of the artillery and baggage, together with an immense number of prisoners taken 1.
Amazement and consternation spread through the French court at the news of this fatal defeat. An immediate advance upon Paris was regarded as its inevitable consequence, and Henry began to make hasty preparations for the expected siege; but happily for France, and perhaps, in the result, for himself also, Philip was satisfied to follow up his victory by the capture of St. Quentin, Ham, and Chastelet, which gave the king time to recall the Duke of Guise, with 2000 choice troops, from Italy.
- Thuanus, lib. xix., cap. 9, 10.
After his departure, Pope Paul, deserting the ally who had involved himself in the war solely at his instigation, concluded a separate peace with Philip, of which the renunciation of the alliance with Henry was made the principal condition 1. Guise, on his return to France, was made lieutenant-general of the kingdom in the room of Montmorenci, who had been taken prisoner at the battle of St Quentin, and to the remnant of the army placed under his command were added besides a new levy of 4000 Swiss, a number of German mercenaries, whose tem of service with the King of Spain having expired, went over to the French camp.
Despairing of being able to recover the places lately captured, which had been carefully fortified and provisioned under the personal inspection of Philip, Guise marched toward Calais which he mastered after a siege of only seven days 2. Gaines, also, another town possessed by the English, capitulated upon the firing of a few shots. Having restored courage to the French soldiers by these successes, he invaded the duchy of Luxemburg, and took possession of Thionville 3.
Meanwhile, the Sieur de Thermes, whom he had left in command of Calais, marched with a force of about 14,000 strong into Flanders, and passing by Gravelingues, surprised and plundered Dunkirk. Here he halted, expecting to be joined by the main army for the purpose of pursuing the conquest of Flanders. Guise, however, remaining unnaCountably inactive in Luxemburg, during a period of seventeen days after the capture of Thionville, gave the Count of Egmond time to collect troops out of the different garrisons to the number of 12,000 infantry, and 8000 cavalry.
- Thuanus, lib.xix., cap. 11, J3. Pont. Heut. Rer. Aust, lib. xv, cap. 3.
- It is said that a great number of persons within the walls, being corrupted by French gold, he had been informed that but slight resistance would be offered. Pont. Heut. Rer. Aast., lib, xv., cap. 4.
- Thuanus, lib. xix., cap. 13,14 ; lib. xx., cap. 2,12.
1558 With these ha advanced by rapid marches towards Dunkirk, when Thermes retreated to Gravelingues, intending to return if possible to Calais. Being overtaken by Egmond, who had left his artillery behind, that the celerity of his movements might not be impended, he perceived that no resource was left to him but to come to a regular engagement. He therefore took up an advantageous position near Gravelingues with the river Aa on his right, and the sea in his rear; and placing the baggage and waggons on his left, with the artillery in front, awaited the attack of Egmond's troops, The van of the French army was occupied by some regiments of Gascons, who steadily withstood the assault of the Netherlanders, and even threw them into some embarrassment by the fire of the artillery, the general's horse being killed under him.
Undaunted at this reception, and confident in his somewhat superior numbers, Egmond commanded his soldiers to close with the enemy, himself leading the charge. They fought hand to hand for several hours, the Netherlanders animated by the example and exhortations of their leader; the French conscious that in victory lay-their only hope of safety, and the issue of the contest appeared still doubtful, when ten English vessels, having by a mere chance entered the river Aa, attacked the latter on the right flank, where they deemed themselves secure. The cavalry was instantly thrown into utter confusion, which soon extended itself to the infantry; 1500 were slain; numbers perished in their flight by the hands of the peasants, or were drowned in the Aa; about 3000 were made prisoners, and 200 taken by the English, and carried home as trophies of the victory 1.
- Thuanus, lib. xx., cap. 14.
1558 Upon intelligence of this disaster, Guise repaired in all haste to Pierrepoint, a town situated on the confines of Picardy and Champagne, convenient alike for collecting his forces, and for holding himself prepared to meet the attack of the enemy, in whatever direction it might be made. The King of France afterwards taking the command of the army in person, Philip likewise placed himself at the head of his troops, and the two armies encamped within a short distance of each other on the banks of the river Auth. Both being strongly entrenched, neither ventured to risk an assault on the enemy's camp, and the presence of these two powerful monarchs in the field was signalized by nothing further than a few unimportant skirmishes. Their vicinity, however, gave occasion to mutual overtures for an accommodation 1.
The negotiations, opened at Sercamp by the ambassadors of France, Spain, and England 2, were delayed for some time, first by the determination of the English to insist upon the restoration of Calais as an indispensable condition, and afterwards by the death of their queen, Mary. Her successor, Elizabeth, having made 1559 a separate treaty with France, whereby Calais was to remain in the hands of the king for eight years, after which he was either to restore it, or pay England 500,000 crowns, no further obstacle remained to a peace between the Kings of France and Spain, which was therefore concluded on the 3rd of April. It was agreed, that both parties should restore all the conguests they had made since the year 1551; that Philip should marry Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the king of France, and that Margaret, sister of Henry, should be given in marriage to Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy 3.
- Thuanus, lib. xx., cap, 17.
- On the part of France there appeared the Cardinal of Lorraine sat the Constable Montmorenci; from Philip, the Duke of Alva and the Prince of Orange; and from the court of England were sent, Thorlby, bishop of Ely, Lord Howard of Effingham, and Wotton, archbishop of York.
- Thuanus, lib. xx., cap. 20, 21. Rymer's Foedera, torn, xv., p. 107. Recueil des Traites de Leonard, torn, ii., p. 535.
This peace was less acceptable to the Netherlanders than it would otherwise have been, since the report was generally believed, and not without foundation, that it had been brought about by the intervention of the Cardinal of Lorraine, and Anthony Perrenot de Granvelle, bishop of Arras, in order that both sovereigns might be left at liberty to employ their whole power against the Reformers.
The King of France himself, indeed, had incautiously discovered to the Prince of Orange (ambassador on the part of Philip), on an occasion while hunting, that it was the intention of the King of Spain to unite his arms with those of France, if necessary, to extirpate the heretical sects in their respective dominions 1. If the opinion, that the ultimate design of the two monarchs was the destruction of the reformed religion, wanted confirmation, it was given by the first step which Philip took after the conclusion of the treaty. This was to solicit from the Pope, Paul IV., the erection of fourteen new bishoprics in the Netherlands, to provide, as he alleged, for the spiritual wants of an increased population, and to arrest the progress of heresy. Paul, anxious at once to gratify Philip, and to strengthen the hands of the church against the heretics, readily granted a bull to this effect, which was afterwards confirmed by his successor Pius IV. But although the king declared that Philip the Good had, more than a hundred years before,
- Thuanus, lib. xxii., cap. 6.
1559 entertained the design of increasing the number of bishops from a conviction of its necessity, and had recommended it on his deathbed to his son Charles, who was only prevented from executing it by the multiplicity of his other affairs—and that the emperor, his own father, had made it the most especial of his admonitions to him on his resignation—he found it impossible to reconcile the minds of any class of persons to the measure 1.
It was odious to the clergy, since the revenues of the new sees were to be created by alienating the funds of the old foundations and abbeys; to the nobles, in those provinces where the clergy formed an estate, because as the bishops would be summoned to the assemblies of the states in place of the abbots, their superior power and dignity would tend to lessen their own authority, and being appointed by the king, they would form a body wholly subservient to Spanish interests; while the people held a firm conviction, that the sole purpose for which the new bishops were instituted, was to increase and support the power of the inquisition; a conviction rendered still stronger by the fact, that each bishop was empowered to appoint nine prebendaries in his cathedral to assist the inquisition in the execution of its duties, two of their number being themselves inquisitors 2.
The very name of this tribunal had now become an object of horror and loathing to men of all ranks and opinions, Catholic as well as Protestant. No less than 50,000 industrious and peaceful citizens had perished in the Netherlands alone, from the effects of it, in conjunction with the penal edicts during the last reign 3;
- Strada de Bello Belgico, dec. i., lib. i., p. 22, 23. Minn Dip, torn, in., p. 523.
- Strada de Bel. Belg., dec. L, lib. il., p. 37. Mederen Nederl* Hist. boek ii., fol. 31.
- Dor's Oorsprong, begin und vervolgh der Nederlandsche Oorlogen, boek i., bl. 18. Autthentike Stukken. Idem, deel. i., bl. 6.
and its activity continued rather to increase 1559 than abate, although its officers were for the most part obliged to seize on suspected persons secretly, and by night, for fear of exciting tumults; and the execution of its judgments was attended by extreme difficulty and danger; since the people usually accompanied the victims in formidable numbers to the stake, singing psalms, exhorting, and consoling them; and not unfrequently rescued them by force from the hands of the executioners, or aided them in effecting their escape 1, The persistance in religious persecution was not the only cause of estrangement which had arisen between Philip and his subjects in the course of his four years residence among them.
Notwithstanding that the year 1557 was one of excessive dearth, insomuch, that had it not been for the arrival in Holland of 200 ships laden with grain from Denmark, the people must have suffered from the effects of famine to a fatal extent, the king reiterated his demand of a hundredth upon immoveable property, and a tenth and fifth upon the value of the salt, cloths, and various staple articles of export from Holland 2. This the states peremptorily refused, though they softened their denial by a loan of 100,000 guilders in the following year. Soon after, the states-general of the Netherlands consented to a petition of 800,000 guilders a year for nine years, but provided only that the administration of these funds should remain in their hands for the payment of the garrisons and regular troops; a condition at which the king conceived the deepest 1559 umbrage, as derogatory to his authority and insulting to his dignity.
- Meteren Nederl. Hist., boek ii., fol. 32. Brandt, Hist, der Ref., boek iv., bl. 227.
- Bor, Oorsprong, &c, boek i., bl. 16. Res. der Holl. Staaten op'tjaar 1567, bl. 105,110.
The comparison between Philip and his father was, moreover, by no means advantageous to the former. Charles, although he detested the popular institutions and despised the tolerant religious spirit of his Netherland subjects, had always borne them a strong personal attachment; he conformed to their customs, spoke their language, and treated them on all occasions with that freedom and familiarity to which they bad been accustomed from their sovereigns. He promoted the nobles to the highest offices in his government, and constantly distinguished them by marks of his peculiar favour; the Prince of Orange, especially, whom from his early youth he admitted to his most intimate confidence, and regarded with paternal affection.
The austere temper and suspicious disposition of Philip, on the contrary, was peculiarly distasteful to the frank and jovial character of the Netherlanders. He spoke no language but the Spanish, affected on all occasions the Spanish dress and manner, and took little notice of any but the Spanish nobles, by whom he was constantly surrounded, and who, from their pride, insolence, and ignorance, were viewed by the Netherlanders with mingled jealousy and contempt 1.
To these grounds of dissatisfaction was added the report, that the Spanish soldiers, instead of being disbanded, or returning to their own Country now that peace was restored, were to be put in possession of the strongest fortresses in the Netherlands, and that 8000 troops of that nation were shortly to be added to the 4000 already quartered in the Country.
- Resol. Holl., 1558, bl. 26. Meterai Nederl. Hist, b. L, fid. 16,17.
- Mem. de Du Maurier, p. 4—8. Strada De Bell. Belg., dec. L, lib. ii-, p. 47,48.
This excited deep murmurs, not only among the people, 1559 who declared that it was done with the design of bringing them under the yoke of the Spaniards, and of upholding by force the inquisition and the introduction of the new bishops, but likewise among the nobles and governments of the towns, who regarded it as a flagrant violation of the ancient privileges of the land 1.
Such was the state of men's minds when Philip signified his intention of quitting the Netherlands to return to Spain, and the important question came to be decided, into whose hands the government of the provinces should be consigned during his absence. Among the Netherland nobility, those who appeared from their character, station, and circumstances the most eligible to this office, were the Prince of Orange and the Count of Egmond. The eyes of the whole nation were, at this juncture, fixed upon these two nobles, formed no less by their different dispositions than by their relative situation to be rivals, and whom their common interest and their common discontents alone united in the bonds of a friendship, never, it is said, free from the existence of a lurking jealousy.
William, prince of Orange, a descendant from the ancient and powerful family of Nassau, of which a member, Adolphus of Nassau had, above two centuries before, borne the imperial crown, was of a character well fitted to sustain and augment the lustre of his house. Ere he had scarce reached the age of adolescence, (he was at this time no more than twenty-six,) the opinion entertained by the Emperor Charles V. of his wisdom and capacity was so exalted, that he was accustomed to permit him, and frequently him alone of all his court, to be present at the private audiences of foreign ambassadors, and to take part in all the most 1559 secret affairs of state;
- Bor. Oorsp., &c, boek i., bl. 18,19.
nor did he disdain to acknowledge that ideas and reflections, which had escaped his more experienced judgment, were often suggested by his youthful counsellor, who, on no one occasions was found to betray or abuse the trust thus reposed in hint Prudent and reserved, his thoughts were impenetrable, even to those admitted to his most intimate friendship; neither the blandishments of affection, nor the subtlety of envy, ever surprised him for a moment off his guard, or tempted him to disclose that which he wished to conceal; his power of gaining the good-will and confidence of those to whom he addressed himself was unbounded; not that he ever descended to any affectation of extraordinary courtesy, or to the base arts of flattery, but that he found means to inspire his hearers with the idea that they were peculiarly the objects of his esteem, and that he was prepared to evince by his actions that friendship which he forbore to express in words.
Lamoral, Count of Egraond, though a genuine Dutchman, his ancestors having possessed the territory of that name in Holland before its erection into a County, was of a disposition more resembling the South Netherlander, being wholly destitute of that firmness of character and tenacity of purpose by which the Dutch are distinguished above all other nations. Frank, credulous, and confiding, his kindly and affable manners rendered him the idol, as his brilliant warlike achievements had made him the hero of the people; superior to the Prince of Orange in military skill and enterprise, he was immeasurably below him in talent, education, and political sagacity, and, though twelve years his senior, in discretion.
Both were ambitious; but the ambition of Egmond made him desirous of honours and distinctions, to become thereby an object of wonder and admiration to his Countrymen, while Orange cared 1559 little for the outward show of power, provided he possessed the reality; the ardour of Egmond's character prompted him to engage in his schemes with eagerness, while his inconstancy exposed him to be dlscouraged at the first obstacle; Orange, on the other hand, with a foresight of dangers almost amounting to timidity, could never be deterred by them from pursuing a resolution which he had once adopted; the temper of the one was hasty and somewhat irascible, of the other, bland and imperturbable; the hospitality constantly practised by Orange was a means judiciously employed to gain friends and to maintain his credit with the populace; that of Egmond, the natural indulgence of his joyous and social disposition.
The personal appearance of these two great rivals in popular favour was no less opposite than their manners and character. The Countenance of Orange, pale, thin, and haggard, gave token of the thoughtful and unquietss spirit which lurked within; that of Egmond, full and florid, wore the sunny unclouded expression which is seldom observed to survive the freshness of early youth. Orange was best fitted to inspire veneration; Egmond was formed to be loved 1.
Besides these, another candidate for the government was Christina, duchess of Lorraine, niece of Charles V., who had given a distinguished proof of her abilities in the negotiation of the peace of Chateau Cambresis. She was strongly supported by William of Orange, who hoped, in the event of his own exclusion, still to retain an influence in public affairs by a marriage with her daughter; and towards her, next to Orange and Egmond, the wishes of the Netherlander were directed—suflicient reasons, perhaps, to induce Philip 1559 to set aside her claims in favour of his natural sister, Margaret, wife of Octavius Farnese, Duke of Parma, whom he accordingly summoned from Italy 2.
- Strada De Bell. Belg., dec. i., lib, i., p. 24, 57, 87.
- Strada De Bell. Belg., dec. i., lib. i., p. 25.
On her arrival, the king meeting her at the confines of the Netherlands, conducted her with great magnificence to Ghent, where the states-general were assembled; and in an audience of leave held soon after, declared, that, out of his paternal care and anxietssy for the welfare of his states, he had appointed the Duchess of Parma to the government, as being born and bred among the Netherland people, conversant with their laws and language, and because of the strong attachment she had always entertained for them.
The close of his address, however, neutralized entirely the effect of the flattering terms he had used at its commencement; he admonished not only the duchess, but every member of the government, to the diligent execution of the edicts lately made and renewed against the heretics, a charge which at once convinced the deputies that the odious religious persecutions were to be carried on with renewed vigour, and that the Spanish troops were left in the Netherlands with no other view than that of strengthening the hands of government for this purpose.
They therefore presented to the king a petition, praying that the foreign soldiers might either be disbanded or removed, the defence of the boundaries being left, as heretofore, to the native troops; and, secondly, that the Country might be governed by a council composed solely of Netherlanders, to the exclusion of foreigners.
Philip, taken somewhat by surprise at these demands, observed in answer, that he had no desire to thrust strangers into public offices in the Netherlands, as his appointment of the governess sufficiently testified, and promised that the Spanish troops should be 1559 withdrawn, within a period of four months at the farthest 1.
- Bor, Oorsp., &c, boek i., bl. 20—22.
If anything were wanting to render this petition more unpalatable to the sovereign, it was the circumstance of its being signed by the Prince of Orange and the Counts of Egmond and Hoorn, whom he bad appointed to the command of the troops, in order, if possible, to reconcile the people to their presence; and to this source is generally ascribed those bitter feelings of hatred with which Philip ever afterwards regarded his Netherland subjects, and these nobles in particular.
He was able, however, to dissemble for the time, except upon one occasion, when an ebullition burst forth, in spite of his efforts to retain it. Just as he was on the point of departure from Flushing, the Prince of Orange, having come with a number of the principal nobility to bid him adieu, Philip reproached him, with an angry Countenance, that, by his secret machinations, he had impeded the execution of his measures. The prince replied, with great humility, that it was the act of the states alone. "Non los estados!" exclaimed the king, seizing his wrist, and shaking it violently; "mas vos, vos, vos!" (Not the states, but you, you, you!) repeating three times the " vos," a term of contempt among the Spaniards 1.
Margaret, duchess of Parma, into whose hands Philip now entrusted the government of the Netherlands, was a natural daughter of Charles V., born in the year 1522, and married, first to Alexander de Medici, and secondly, to Octavius Farnese, Duke of Parma. Of a strong understanding, masculine courage, and ambitious spirit, her love of power was so inordinate, that she could not endure to share it even with her husband. 1559
- Bor, Oorsp., &c, boek i., Mem. de Du Marnier, p. 9.
She had been bred up from her infancy by Margaret, duchess of Savoy, and after her death, by the late governess, Mary, who fostered her natural quickness of intellect by a careful and comprehensive education; from the latter she imbibed the passion for field sports, remarkable in all the princesses of this family. She pursued the chase (of the stag in particular) with an avidity and perseverance rarely to be met with even in the other sex, the generality of whom she surpassed in capability of enduring fatigue, and in vigour of constitution, occasional fits of the gout being the only infirmity to which she was subject; while her tall and large stature contributed with her gestures, and something of a beard on the upper lip and chin, to give her the appearance of a man in female apparel.
To Counterbalance these not very agreeable attributes, she possessed a fund of natural kindness and benevolence, a mild temper, and affable manners. But neither the qualities of her mind nor heart had recommended her to the favour of Philip so much as the circumstance of her having been, from the time of her first marriage, a pupil and penitent of Ignatius Loyola, to whom she was in the habit of confessing herself even more frequently than the custom of the time warranted; and the mode in which she manifested her pietssy, by washing every year the feet of twelve poor women, whom she afterwards attended herself at table 1.
Three councils were appointed to assist her in the conduct of affairs. A privy council, empowered to grant letters of freedom and pardon, and to watch over law and order; a council of finance to administer the public revenues, and the domains of the sovereign; and a council of state, to advise in matters relating to peace and war, and the higher affairs of government.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. 1* p. 27, 30.
1559 Of this latter council were nominated, Anthony Perrenot de Granvelle, bishop of Arras, William, prince of Orange, Lamoral, Count of Egmond, Charles, Count of Barlaimont, superintendent of the finances, the doctor Viglius van Zuichem, president of the privy council, Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn, and Charles de Croye, lord of Aarschot; the Knights of the Golden Fleece! and the members of the privy council and council of finance, were likewise to have admittance when summoned by the governess 1.
The members of this council received from the king a private instruction to the effect, that, though they might hear and examine, they should decide no question without the advice of the Bishop of Arras, the Prince of Orange, the Count of Barlaimont, and Viglius van Zuichem; and, in order, probably, to shield individual members from the odium of any obnoxious measures they might pursue, they were required to take an oath, that they would support in public whatever opinion prevailed in the council, notwithstanding their inclinations might be strongly opposed to it 2,3.
Separate Stadtholder s were also placed over all the provinces, except Brabant, in which the governess herself resided. The Prince of Orange was made Stadtholder of Holland, Zealand, and Utrecht; John de Ligny, Count of Aremberg, of Friesland, Overyssel, and Groningen; and Charles de Brimen, Count of Megen, of Guelderland and Zutphen. The Stadtholder ship of Flanders was bestowed on Lamoral, Count of Egmond 4.
- Hooft Nederl. Hist., boek i., bl. 22. .
- Meieren Nederl. Hist., boek i., fol. 25, Strata de Bell. Belg., p. 32.
- This is denied by Hooft (bl. 23) 5 but as it is positively asserted by Strada, who had ample means of information, and is very unlikely to have wilfully misrepresented the fact, there appears no reason to disbelieve it.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. i., p. 21.
Having thus arranged matters for his departure, Philip set sail from Flushing on the 26th of August 1559, in a fleet of fifty large and forty smaller vessels. He had scarcely arrived before the port of Laredo, when he was overtaken by so violent a tempest, that the ship in which he sailed foundered, the whole of his baggage and jewels were lost, and he himself with difficulty reached the land in a small boat. He ascribed his preservation to a miraculous interposition of Providence, that he might live to extirpate heresy; and to testify his gratitude, immediately upon his landing in Spain, assisted at the burning of a number of heretics in Seville, on which occasion no less than fourteen noble ladies suffered death at the stake 1.
It soon appeared that the council of state in the Netherlands was a mere phantom, created to give the sanction of its name to the measures pursued by the governess, under the dictation of Anthony Perrenot de Granvelle, in whose hands the whole authority of the government lay; a man whose powerful mind, undaunted courage, and iron constitution, well fitted him to press down the yoke upon the necks of a free people with a firm and steady hand. Deeply skilled in affairs, learned, eloquent, and accomplished, he spoke seven languages with grace and fluency, and was able to dictate, at the same time, to five amanuenses; patient of labour, he was often absorbed in business for days and nights together without sleep or food. He had at an early age succeeded his father, Nicholas de Granvelle, who, during twenty years, the most intimate friend and counsellor of the Emperor Charles V., had died in his service, in the favour and confidence of that monarch, and thus initiated from his childhood into all the secrets of state, added vast experience to his natural capacity.
- Hooft, Nederl. Hist, b. i., bl. 20.
On the death of the emperor, he obtained an equally high place in the esteem of Pliilip, by affecting a great regard for the interests of religion, and during his stay in the Netherlands, the king took no step either in foreign or domestic matters without first consulting him. At his departure he recommended him to the especial favour of Margaret, whom indeed Granvelle had been chiefly instrumental in elevating to the government, in opposition to Christina of Lorraine 1.
The first act of Granvelle's administration was the 1560 publication of the bull of Pope Pius IV., confirmatory of that of his predecessor, creating fourteen new bishoprics, in addition to the four already existing in the Netherlands, of which, Mechlin, Cambray, and Utrecht were to be archbishoprics 2; the nomination to the new sees was vested in the king, to be confirmed by the Pope. Granvelle himself was made Archbishop of Mechlin, and received a cardinal's hat, a circumstance which increased, if possible, the aversion of the people to this innovation 3.
The apprehension of the states also, that the foreign soldiers were left in the Country to uphold both the bishops and the inquisition by force of arms, appeared but too truly realized, when it was found that their removal, which the king had explicitly promised should take place within four months, was delayed under various pretexts, which Philip, following the advice of Granvelle, desired the governess to invent, rather than allow them to depart.
- Strada, dec. L, lib. ii., p. 50. v
- The remaining new sees were Antwerp, Ruremonde, Boifi-le-Duc, Haarlem, Deventer, Leeuwarden, Groningen, Middleburg, Namur, St. Omer, Ypres, Ghent, and Bruges.
- Miraei Dip. Belg., torn, i., p. 156.
It was only on the earnest representations of Margaret, of the dangers that would ensue from their longer stay, that Philip "rather hastily than willingly" consented to withdraw them. 1561 The dreaded lest the towns of the Netherlands should unanimously shut their gates against them, since the states of all the provinces had refused to contribute any further funds for their support; and the Zealanders had declared their determination to leave the dikes unrepaired, since they would rather their land were swallowed up by the ocean, than preserve it to be overrun by a foreign soldiery; a resolution which, as she well knew, they would not hesitate to abide by 1.
The new bishops, who it is said the king took care should be "learned men famed as authors, approved of by the Council of Trent 2, and such as the people should be ashamed to refuse" 3, were received in Mechlin, and some other sees, though not without great opposition and tumult; but in the remainder, the threats of the populace that they would put them to death if they attempted to enter the towns, were found of sufficient force to deter the government from insisting for the present upon their introduction. In this difficulty, the council of state, with the consent of the governess, despatched the Lord of Montigny, brother of the Count of Hoorn, to Spain, to lay 1562 before the king the actual condition of the Netherland provinces, and to represent the discontents excited among the people by the establishment of the bishops and the inquisition.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. i., p. 33; lib. ill., p. 62—64.
- Five of them had been deputies to the council, and it was probably to their services there, that they owed their present elevation; they were, Gerard van Hamericourt, bishop of St. Omer, John Mahusius of Deventer, Martin Ryhoven of Ypres, Cornelius Jansen of Ghent, and Francis Sonnoy, bishop of Bois-le-Duc, and afterwards of Antwerp.— Miraei Dip. Belg., torn, iii., p. 465, 460. -
- Strada, dec i., lib. i., p. 23.
But as his mission had been anticipated by a private letter from Margaret, alleging that the discontents were fomented entirely by the nobles, who were jealous of the influence of Granvelle, it produced no other effect than a recommendation to her from Philip to aim at dissolving their union, by sowing dissensions between the Count of Egmond and the Prince of Orange, and to watch carefully all the movements of the latter 1.
Meanwhile, the unpopularity of Granvelle among all ranks of men constantly increased. The people cast on him the blame of all the obnoxious measures, and of the persecution which was daily becoming more merciless and violent against the Reformers. Among the nobles, Orange, Egmond, and the Count of Hoorn, had private causes of enmity against him. Besides the share he had taken in the exclusion of either of the two former from the office of governor, he had successfully used his influence to prevent the marriage of the Prince of Orange with the daughter of the Duchess of Lorraine; and had added to his offence against Ëgmond, the obtaining for one of his own followers, the gift of the Abbey of St. Truye, which he had solicited the Pope for his son; while Hoorn, who, by his refusal to give his sister in marriage to the brother of the cardinal, had excited the anger of the latter against him, had been in his turn aggrieved, by Granvelle's preventing an advantageous sale of some 1562 estates which he had made to the citizens of Antwerp 2.
- Bor, Ooxsp., &c, boek. i., bl. 27. Strada, dec. i>, lib. iii., p. 86. .
- Hooft Nederl. Hist., boek i., bl. 25. Strada, deel. i., Ub. ii., p. 52L " Justification of the Count of Hoorn. Bof, Autthen. Stukken, deel. i., bl. 61.
The remainder were disgusted by his haughty bearing, and the contempt in which he affected to hold them, and dissatisfied that they were seldom called to the council of state, and even on these few occasions enjoyed none of the confidence of their sovereign; Granvelle being accustomed to discuss all the despatches from Spain with the governess alone, and then to hand them to Viglius and Barlaimont, to read such parts only to the council as he had not marked private 1.
Thus impelled at once by motives of public discontent and private pique, the Prince of Orange, in conjunction with the Counts of Egmond and Hoorn, 1563 addressed a letter to the king, representing that the cardinal had excited so general a hatred amongst all classes of persons, that the utter ruin of the Country must inevitably ensue, unless he were removed from the administration of affairs; and praying that, if the king were determined upon his continuance, he would be pleased to excuse them from further attendance in the council. Philip replied that, although he was convinced of the zeal and affection of the three nobles for his service, he was not accustomed to dismiss any of his ministers without a cause. Having addressed a second letter to the king, couched in still more earnest! terms, and presented a petition to the same effect to the governess, Orange, Egmond, and Hoorn absented themselves entirely from the deliberations of the council of state, protesting that their attendance, so long as the cardinal remained, tended in nothing to the king's service, but solely to their own dishonour 2.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. iii., p. 84.
- Bor, b. i., bl. 29. Autth. Stuk., bl. 79. Strada, dec. i., lib. iv., p. 91.
As there appeared but little chance of removing 1563 Granvelle from his office by any legitimate means, the disaffected nobles next applied themselves to undermine his authority by bringing him into contempt with the whole nation, or to render his situation so irksome that weariness and disgust should at length oblige him to retire. They induced such as were opposed to his government to assume the party badge of a fool's cap sewed on the sleeve of their garments, and to dress their servants in black livery, in order to mark their numbers.
They afterwards, indeed, complied so far with the remonstrances of the governess, as to relinquish the former, which was interpreted as an irreverent allusion to the cardinal's hat, but substituted in its stead a bundle of arrows, signifying, as they affirmed, their union in the service of the king; while the friends of the cardinal maintained, on the other hand, that it was a token of the conspiracy they had formed against him. The provinces teemed with lampoons» pasquinades, and caricatures 1, the authors of which the governess received commands from the king to discover and to punish. She, however, promptly desisted from the search, since she found that it would be a work of too much hazard to attempt to apply remedies to these abuses 2.
At length, Margaret, finding that all her efforts to induce the seceding nobles to resume their sittings in the council were fruitless, and beginning to grow weary of the contest, and perhaps of the overbearing temper of the cardinal himself, sent her secretary, Armenteros, to Spain, to solicit his recall.
- The cardinal had, one day, thrust into his hand a picture of himself sitting on a nest of eggs, from which bishops were hatching; over his head was a devil, saying, " This is my beloved son, hear ye him."
- Hooft Nederl. Hist., b. L, bl. 38—42. Strada, dec. i., lib. iv., p. 95.
The consent of the king, however, to part with his ancient and long-trusted servant was not easily obtained; Armenteros returned without any decisive answer, when Granvelle, who perceived the favour of the governess towards him daily declining, and the seal of his friends growing cold, and fearing, it may be, lest the detestation in which he was held might assume the form of a conspiracy against his life, made some family affairs a pretext for retiring to his native Country of Burgundy 1. 1564
His departure tended but little at first to allay the general discontents, still further increased by a season of scarcity and some misunderstandings with England, by which the Netherlanders were deprived of the accustomed trade with that Country. Men said, that although the cardinal was absent in person, he was present in spirit, since Viglius and Barliamont, his creatures, possessed the whole authority both of the privy council (of which the former was president) and of the council of finance; rumours were constantly afloat of his speedy return, and that the decrees lately issued by the Council of Trent, upholding the inquisition and the authority of the bishops were to be strictly enforced 2.
In a short time, however, as the expectation of Granvelle's return died away, matters began to assume a more favourable aspect. The discontented nobles resumed their attendance in the council of state, and applied themselves to the despatch of business with unexampled industry and zeal; and while, on the one hand, they conciliated the good will of Margaret by their vehement professions of obedience and devotion to her service, they left no method untried to gain the 1564 confidence of the nobility and deputies of the states.
- Strada, dec. L, lib. ir., bl. 97.
- Meteren, b. ii., fol. 33, 34. Bor, Oowp., &c, b. L, M. SO. Strada dec. i., lib. iv., p. 100.
The cardinalists, as the friends of Granvelle were called, soon fell wholly into discredit, and the governess, instead of holding private consultations on every subject with Viglius and Barlaimont, as heretofore, appeared to be guided wholly by the opinions of the "patriot" party, which appellation Orange, Egmond, and their adherents, appropriated to themselves. The effect of this change was soon felt in the cessation of religious persecution; the inquisition, unsupported by the civil power, began to exercise its functions but with langour and timidity; and the governments of most of the towns eagerly availing themselves of the opportunity to render the penal edicts a mere dead letter 1, the people began to enjoy a virtual security and liberty of conscience, as new as it was welcome.
- The efforts of the magistrates to shield their fellow-citizens of the reformed religion from the effects of these edicts were various and unceasing. Sometimes they induced them to attend mass once or twice for appearance sake, and then appealed to the circumstance as a proof of their being good Catholics; often, when they knew an accusation was likely to he Drought against them, they gave them timely warning, or provided them with a place of concealment. The method adopted on one occasion by the magistrates of Hoorn was rather curious. The government of that town being accused before the council of Holland by one Dirk, a hot-headed meddling priest, of remissness in the punishment of heretics, a commissioner, named Charles Smyter, was sent to inquire into the matter. On his arrival at Hoorn, he was received with great courtesy by the burgomasters and principal members of the government, who took it by turns to entertain him, which they did so effectually, that the only movement he was able to make was " from bad to table, and from table to bed.' The answers, therefore, to all such as came to give information concerning heretics, was either that the commissioner was engaged at meals, or that he was asleep. Having spent a week in this manner, and hearing no accusation, he returned to the Hague, lauding to the skies the religious disposition of the good citizens of Hoorn, against whom, he said, he had not heard the slightest complaint of heresy during the whole time he had been there. The chief burgomaster had not forgotten to recommend his hospitalities still further, by a liberal present of money. Velius Hoorn, b. iii., bl. 155.
1564 But to Counterbalance the real benefit which the nobles thus conferred on their Countrymen, they are accused of having caused evils in the administration of civil affairs, far greater than any they could complain of under Granvelle. The course of justice was impeded by their refusal to permit the execution of any judgments of the provincial courts that were not confirmed by the council of state, and the authority of the courts themselves was thus brought into contempt; persons condemned by them were either delivered or protected by the council; criminalsof every degree ransomed themselves by sums of money paid, as it was said, either to the members of the council, or their servants; public offices were set to sale; places of trust conferred, from motives of private interest, on unworthy and incapable persons; the taint of bribery was allowed to creep into every department of the state; and the moralsof the people were corrupted by the establishment of lotteries 1.
Though these heavy charges of malversation against the patriot party are to be received with caution, as resting principally on the evidence of their rancorous opponents, yet it is certain that they used means, unjustifiable alike in themselves and in their object, to undermine, or wholly annihilate, the authority of the privy council and council of finance, by which all their measures for modifying the severity of the inquisition and the penal edicts were constantly opposed. Matters which of right belonged solely to the cognizance of these two councils, were brought forward by the governess at their suggestion to be discussed and decided in the council of state; and they endeavoured, moreover, to persuade her to place the disbursement of the public funds at their disposal.
- Joachim Hopperus, De Initiis Tumultuum Belgicornm, lib. ii., cap* 2, p. 37—39.
The Prince of Orange, indeed, 1565 openly declared that no remedy was to be expected for the evils of the state until ten or twelve of the most esteemed among the nobility were added to this council, and authority were given to it over both the others, It was with the view, probably, of bringing about some change of this nature, that they proposed to Margaret the appointment of an ambassador to the king, to represent to him the condition of the provinces, from the increase of heresy, the defective administration of justice, and the exhaustion of the finances; and to solicit a mitigation of the penal edicts and the severity of the inquisition: and some modification with respect to the establishment of the new bishops. The choice fell on the Count of Egmond, who, having some private favours to ask of Philip, readily accepted the charge 1.
His reception at the court of Spain was such as was due to the captain of so many victories; the king and his courtiers vied with each other in testimonies of courtesy and esteem; all his personal requests were granted, and he was dismissed with fair promises as regarded the object of his embassy. On his return to the Netherlands, Egmond gave his Countrymen hopes that the king would shortly transmit despatches from Spain, modifying both the edicts and the inquisition, for which purpose a council meanwhile was to be formed, of three bishops, three professors of theology, three doctors of civil and three of canon law 2.
The despatches soon after arrived, but proved wholly contrary to what Egmond had been led himself, and had led others, to expect. The Council of Trent, which had resumed its sittings in 1562, 1565 after a suspension of ten years, was now terminated, having wholly failed in the objects for which it was assembled, the reform, namely, of the Catholic church, and the healing of religious dissensions.
- Hopper., De Initiis, &c, lib. ii., cap. 3, p. 30—42.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. iv., p. 110. Bor, boek L, bl. 31.
That any concession should have been made to the reformed churches, or the slightest approximation towards a reconciliation of their different doctrines, was scarcely to be expected from the composition of the assembly; but it might have been supposed that prudence or policy would have led to the purifying of those corruptions most glaring in the eyes of the generality of mankind, and offensive to the most devoted members of the Catholic church itself; and that some of those dogmas and ceremonies, odious and burdensome alike to the enlightened and unlearned, and neither necessary to the discipline of the church, nor conducive to her stability, might have been abolished or modified.
Such were the least of the advantages to which the nations of Europe looked forward from its deliberations, of which, however, the results wholly frustrated their anticipations. Each obsolete pretension, each antiquated abuse, was recognised and confirmed by the sanction of its decisions, and became henceforth a vital principle of faith; the most absurd tenets of the Catholic church, the veneration of relics, the worship of saints, and the sale of indulgences, were insisted on with as much vehemence as the most important, and a similar punishment awarded for their violation. But, however defective or mischievous the decrees of the council, the strong arm with which they furnished the hierarchy for the extirpation of heresy, rendered them highly acceptable to Philip.
Accordingly, the governess now received a stringent command to cause the decrees to be immediately published throughout the Netherlands, and enforced to their full extent. She was enjoined, at the same time, to support the inquisition with the 1566 whole authority of the government, and to renew the rigorous execution of the penal edicts, both of this and the last reign; Philip declaring, that he never meant to permit any other modification of the punishment of death for heresy than that, to avoid tumult, the executions should be secret instead of public 1.
- Bor, boek i., bl. 32. Strada, dec. i., lib. iv., p. 119.
The question of the publication of the king's mandates excited animated and stormy debates, both in the privy council and council of state; Viglius urged the necessity of keeping them secret until an ambassador could be sent to explain to Philip the state of men's minds, and the opposition that was likely to arise; offering to take upon himself the responsibility of the delay.
His opinion was supported by many of the members of both councils; but Orange and his partisans, on the other hand, insisted that the king's pleasure should be immediately made known to the courts of justice and the governments of the towns; with the view, as it was but too justly imputed to them, of exciting those very murmurs, and of fomenting those disturbances, which they affected to dread. The advice thus insidiously given, was unfortunately followed 1.
Margaret despatched forthwith to the Stadtholder s of all the provinces, an edict containing an extract from the king's letter, to which she required them to yield a punctual and ready obedience, and commanded that they should instruct all the public officers and magistrates of the towns to aid and assist the inquisitors to the utmost of their power 2. The consequences of the measure were exactly such' 1565 as all parties had anticipated.
- Hopper, lib. ii., cap. 7, p, 58. Strada, dec. i., lib. ir., p. 120.
- Vide Note I at the end of the volume.
No sooner was the edict published in the provinces, than the ferment became violent and universal. Inflammatory and seditious pamphlets - and placards were scattered abroad, and posted up on the walls of the towns, declaring that the hope which had been excited of a mitigation of the edicts was a mere fraud; that the ill advisers of the king were determined upon the destruction of the Netherlands; and exhorting the people to defend themselves bravely against the inquisition, and the tyranny which the Spaniards would force upon them. Notwithstanding the severe decrees against printing or publishing unlicensed works, all efforts to discover and punish their authors proved unavailing 1.
The nobles, perceiving that the people were on the eve of an insurrection, of which the first effects would most probably be the plunder and destruction of their defenceless Country houses, in order to provide for their own security by union, and to engage the forbearance of the people by making common cause with them, formed among themselves the celebrated confederacy, which was fraught with such important consequences to their Country.
By this bond of alliance, usually called the " Compromise," which was signed at first by eleven only, and afterwards by some hundreds of the nobility and principal merchants, they engaged themselves by oath " to resist to the utmost of their power the establishment of the inquisition, under what name or pretext soever; to support and assist each other as faithful friends and brothers; and if any one of them were disquietssed or molested on account of this alliance, to devote their lives and properties to his protection 2.
- Meteren, boek ii., fol. 40. Bor, boek iL, U. 61.
- Bop, boek ii., bl. 53.
Neither the Prince of Orange nor the Count of Egtnond signed this document, but, on the contrary, 1566 gave information of the league to the governess 1, whether to exculpate themselves from the suspicion of any share in it, or, by exciting her alarm, to bend her the more readily to their purposes. It is most probable they were impelled by the latter motive, since, although informed of its existence, she was left in ignorance of its real nature and extent (with which Orange must have been well acquainted, since his brother, Louis of Nassau, was one of the principal devisers and promoters of it); and thus, prone to believe all the sinister rumours which were rapidly in circulation, as to the number and designs of the confederates; some alleging that the whole body of the nobility was in a state of revolt, and that they were coming to the court in arms; and others, that they had invited foreign soldiers, both horse and foot, to their aid 2.
The governess having summoned in haste to the council of state the Knights of the Golden Fleece, and such of the Stadtholder s as were not at court, the confederate nobles took occasion from hence to assemble at Brussels, for the purpose of presenting her in full council, with a remonstrance upon the present state of affairs. Accordingly, on the 5th of April 1566, they proceeded to the court, between 300 and 400 in number, walking slowly in ranks of four abreast, the procession being closed by the Lord of Brederode and Count Louis of Nassau, as chiefs of the confederacy. On their appearance before the governess, Brederode delivered an address, disowning and deprecating the malicious insinuations of their enemies, that they designed to pave the way for sedition and revolt, and that they held secret communication with the commanders of the reformed troops in France and Germany, and professing their zeal for the service of the king; after which he presented a petition, praying that she would send a fit and capable person to Spain, to represent to the king the misery and rain which threatened his Netherland dominions, and which the abolition of the inquisition, the abrogation of the penal edicts, and a new ordinance concerning religion, framed with the advice and consent of the states-general, were the only means of averting; and, like-Wise, that she would cause the inquisition and edicts to be suspended till an answer should arrive from the king.
- See her Letter to the King in Bor's Autthent. Stuk., deel i., hl. 84.
- Bor, hoek ii., bl. 55.
To these demands the governess replied, that she had already advised with the privy council upon the question of laying before the king a proposal for moderating the edicts, but that she had no authority to suspend either them or the inquisition; she would, nevertheless, she said, issue commands to the inquisitors to proceed with mildness and discretion in the execution of their office 1.
The confederates, to avoid assembling a crowd, or exciting tumults, had, on this occasion, gone to court on foot, plainly dressed, and unarmed, which led the Count of Barlaimont to remark to the governess, on their approach, that " she had no cause of fear, since they were only a troop of beggars (gueux)." The taunt was but too truly applied; many of the most illustrious families had, from so distant a period as the reign of Philip the Good, been accustomed to squander their incomes in attendance on a luxurious and expensive court; and a great portion of the nobility wore now accused of being prompted by their embarrassed circumstances to seek a change in affairs 2. The blot, therefore, thus cast upon them remained; but liberty 1566 Shed her halo round it, and it appeared a star of honour on their breasts.
- Bor, Oonp., &c, boek ii., bl. 55—60.
- Hooft, Nederl. Hist., boek L, bl. 26.
At a feast given the same evening by the Lord of Brederode, in the house of Cuilembourg, where nearly three hundred guests were present, the expression being repeated, was eagerly caught up, and handed from mouth to mouth: " It was no shame," they said, "to be beggars for their Country's good." ''Live the gueux!" resounded from all sides of the apartment. Brederode appearing shortly after, with a wooden vessel such as pilgrims and mendicant monks were wont to carry, pledged the whole company to the health of the "Gueux! the cup went round; Orange, Egmond, and the Count of Hoorn, whom the noise of the banquet had attracted thither, were forced by a gentle coercion to join in the pledge, and mirth and wine crowned the birth of that name, which was, ere long, to be the watchword of strife and bloodshed.
Sober reflection confirmed what levity had suggested; the value of a party-name and a party-badge (a standard which men are often ashamed to desert, when they have failed of every object for which they raised it), was acknowledged; the appellation of "gueux* was adopted alike by those of the reformed religion, and such as were hostile to the measures of the government; they dressed themselves and their families in the beggars' costume of grey cloth, with a small wooden porringer, or cup, fastened to their caps, and wore about their necks medalsof gold or silver, whereon was engraven, on the one side the image of the king, on the other a beggar's wallet and two hands joined, with the motto "Fidèles au roy—jusqu'a la besace "1.
- " Faithful to the king, even to the wallet."—Strada, dec. i., lib. v., p. 135. Du Maurier, p. 25.
1566 As the answer of the governess appeared scarcely satisfactory to the petitioners, they presented a second remonstrance, professing their desire to submit to whatever the king, with the advice of the states-general, should ordain, for the preservation of the ancient religion; and praying that, to silence the malevolence of their enemies, she would cause their last petition to be printed, word for word, without change or interpolation; and that she would command the inquisitors to suspend for the present the execution of their office.
Margaret, fearful of allowing them to separate in discontent, promised, that until the king's answer arrived, the inquisitors should not proceed against any one on account of religion, except in case of sedition, or open scandal. She refused, however, to comply with a requisition they made, that she should declare what they had done to be for the service of God and the king. Upon the faith of her promise! the confederate nobles dispersed, having first appointed deputies in each province to watch over its performance 1.
To deprecate the anger of Philip, which Margaret well knew would be excited to the highest pitch by these proceedings on the part of the nobles, it was determined in the council of state to despatch ambassadors to Spain, as well for this purpose, as to obtain the king's consent to the project of a moderation of the penal edicts, which the governess had framed with the assistance of the privy council. They were instructed, likewise, to solicit the abolition of the inquisition, and a general indemnity in favour of the confederate nobles. This difficult and delicate commission was entrusted to John, marquis of Bergen, and Florence de Montmorenci, lord of Montigny, (brother of the Count of Hoorn), both knights of the Golden Fleece, and men of discretion and talent.
- Meteren, boek ii., fol. 41.
They were received with apparent complacency by Philip, who showed himself inclined to suspend the inquisition on condition that the bishops should first be inducted and confirmed in their sees, and to permit the council of state to modify the penal edicts, provided his sanction were obtained to the proposed alterations, before they were promulgated in the Netherlands. The ambassadors soon found, however, that measures were taken to prevent their transmitting any private intelligence to their friends, and that various pretexts were used to detain them at the court of Spain, whence they never returned 1.
The joy caused by the relaxation of persecution consequent on the orders of the governess, soon gave way to renewed fear and suspicion. When the moderation (or as the populace called it, "murderation") devised by her and the privy council became known, it was found to be such as to excite the indignation of many, and the contempt of all. Priests, teachers, and those who exercised any office among the Reformers, the composers, printers, or sellers of any pamphlet, song, or pasquinade, were to be hanged instead of burnt alive; the punishment of death being changed to banishment, in favour of the common people only 2.
The assembly of the states-general also, which men had been led to expect, was evaded in a manner equally unprecedented and unconstitutional. The petition which they had presented in 1559, for the removal of the foreign soldiers, had planted such deep resentment in the breast of Philip, that he had strictly forbidden 1566 the governess ever to assemble them more 3.
- Meteren, fol. 42. Strode, dec. L, lib. v., p. 149.
- Meteren, b. ii^ fol. 41. Bor., b. ii., bl. 64, 6$.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. iii., p. 80.
Accordingly, instead of summoning the states of all the provinces together, as had been, since their union under one sovereign, the invariable custom, when any matter of general concernment was to be considered, she sent the scheme of the moderation to the states of some of the provinces only, with strict injunctions to keep it secret; while in Holland, Zealand, Friesland, Guelderland, and Overyssel, whose privileges were more extensive, and more strenuously asserted than those of the other provinces, they were left unsummoned 1.
The answer from the king to the subject of Bergen and Montigny's embassy, was delayed from time to time. Meanwhile the sentiments both of Philip and the governess were supposed to be sufficiently discovered, by the treatment of the confederate nobles, who were looked upon at court with a coldness almost amounting to disdain. The mistrust of the people was still further excited by the equipment of ships of war in various ports of the Netherlands, and by the purchase of an immense quantity of arms and ammunition on the part of some Spanish agents at Antwerp, and in Zealand 2.
The Reformers, despairing on the one hand of obtaining any more favourable terms from Spain, and encouraged on the other by the sympathy and protection which the nobles had manifested towards their cause, began to declare themselves more boldly. Instead of meeting a few together, in woods and bye-places, as had hitherto been their custom, they now began to assemble in the plains and open fields in great numbers; to show, they said, " how many the inquisition would have to burn, slay, and banish." In the commencement they were unarmed; but after being threatened or disturbed, they provided themselves with pistols and rapiers, and finally went fully armed with clubs, pikes, and muskets.
- Bor, b. ii., bl. 62.
- Idem, 63, 66.
The first of these assemblies was held near Oudenarde, where the people, on the summons of one Herman Stryker, the reformed preacher of the town, flocked together to hear him, 7000 in number. One Cornelius Kroeser, schout of a neighbouring village, undertook alone to disperse the multitude, and with this intent, rushed in among them on horseback, holding in one hand a musket, in the other a drawn sword, and directed his course straight towards the preacher.
The people, as yet unarmed, poured upon him a shower of stones from all quarters; when, receiving a severe wound in the head, he threw down his weapons and fled, but with difficulty escaped death. The next time the Reformers went fully prepared with arms, fortified the circuit of the wide plain in which they assembled with waggons, and stationed guards at all the entrances. Some remained outside the encampment, and in the roads leading to it, offering the forbidden books for sale, and inviting the passers by to go in and hear the sermon. A pulpit was raised by means of planks placed across a waggon; nearest to it stood the women and children, the men forming a circle round them. A deep and stern silence prevailed, broken only by the voice of the preacher as it floated on the wind. When he had made an end, the whole congregation sung a psalm, and afterwards returned in the same military order they came, dispersing at the gates of the town 1.
At Antwerp, a preaching was held on St. John's day, within a quarter of a mile of the city, which was attended by 5000 persons, four separate stations of armed men being placed to secure them from molestation.
- Meteren, b. ii., fol. 42, Brandt, His, der Ref., b. tL, U. 305, 325.
A report being spread, that the burgher guards were coming to disperse them, they quietssly continued their occupation, observing, " that if they came, they would find men to stand against them 1." As another! sermon was announced for the Saturday following; the senate sent to inform the governess of the fact, and to ask what means they were to adopt for arresting these disorders.
She recommended that the burgomaster should employ the schuttery to prevent the meeting as was usual in such cases; but from this they excused themselves, on the plea that it was impossible the schuttery could act with any effect against so vast a number of persons, provided with arms, and ready to defend themselves. On receiving this answer, Margaret usually calm and self-possessed, for the first time lost her temper, and in the moment of irritation, incautiously betrayed her real feelings towards the confederates, by exclaiming that it was the petition of the nobles which made these fellows so bold; adding, that such heretics only sought other men's lives and goods, and that their conduct would end in some fatal excesses 2.
The second-preaching was held as appointed, notwithstanding the efforts of the government of Antwerp to prevent it; and a decree, prohibiting all persons from attending any heretical meeting, was followed by a petition from the Reformers, to be allowed to build a place of worship within the town. This request was referred to the governess, but the only answer they obtained, was the adoption of still stricter measures to prevent the assemblies, and a proclamation issued by the council of state, directing the immediate seizure and punishment both of the preachers and their hearers.
A second petition was, however, attended with somewhat better success, since the senate granted permission for one minister of the Augsburg confession 1566 to preach just without the walls.
- Hooft, Nederl. Hist, b. iii., bl. 84.
The government of Antwerp had repeatedly solicited Margaret to repair thither, in order by her presence to put an end to the disturbances; this she refused to do, unless attended by a garrison to ensure her safety, which the citizens would by no means allow. She therefore sent the Prince of Orange, as governor of the city, whose popularity would, she trusted, enable him to bring affairs to an amicable arrangement. The measures he adopted to restore confidence between the different classes of the citizens, were attended with considerable success, since no further disorders took place so long as he remained 1.
Following the example of Oudenarde and Antwerp, the Reformers of nearly all the towns in Holland began to hold public meetings without the walls; sometimes beyond the jurisdiction of the municipal magistrates, sometimes in defiance of their prohibition, armed, and in such numbers as to preclude all hope of dispersing them by force 2.
Happy would it have been for the government, had it possessed sufficient prudence and temper to concede with a good grace that which it was impossible to avoid! Had it permitted the preaching of the Reformers, it might, together with its sanction, have imposed restrictions calculated to prevent the occurrence of such excesses as the populace, finding from the futile attempts made to put a stop to their assemblies how loosely the restraints of authority hung upon them, were now tempted to indulge in.
It happened that as a number of the Reformers at Ypres were proceeding armed to attend a sermon near the town, a sudden accession of zeal prompted them 1566 to throw down and destroy the images of saints they met with on their road.
- Bor, boek ii., bl. 71—75. Meteren, boek ii., fol. 42.
- Brandt, Hist, der Ref., boek vi., passim.
Hence they proceeded to do the same with those in the churches and chapels in the neighbourhood; and from this slight impulse the movement spread with electric rapidity through Flanders, and all the other provinces of the Netherlands.
The churches in nearly every town and village woe attacked; the images and statues pulled down and broken to pieces; the altars overthrown; the monuments, and even the coffins of the dead, defaced; the mass-books-torn; and the gold and silver ornaments plundered, except where the governments had anticipated the intentions of the rioters by removing them to a place of security. Neither did the superb carved work, the pictures, nor the exquisite painted glass of the windows, the unrivalled beauty of which was the wonder and admiration of Europe, escape the ravage of these barbarians. More than four hundred churches, among which were those of the Hague, Amsterdam, Leyden, Middleburgh, and Schoonhoven, were thus despoiled within the short space of three days. A great portion of the booty, however, was afterwards restored to the municipal authorities 1.
The governess received the intelligence of the sudden and unexpected burst of popular fury with feelings of mingled terror, grief, and rage. She instantly made preparations for a hasty flight to Mons, and was only dissuaded from her purpose by the entreaties of Viglius, and some others of her most confidential advisers, and the remonstrances of the burghers, who expressed their determination to shut the gates, in order to prevent her departure. She bewailed her unhappy fate, that under her government, such contumely should be offered to God and the king; and in the bitterness of her heart wrote to her brother, 1566 saying, that she "was betrayed by the Prince of Orange and the Counts of Egmond, Hoorn, and Hochstradt, and if it were not for the hopes of his coming, her sorrowful life would end; for that grief was in her heart, and a blush on her cheek 2."
- Meteren, boek ii., fol. 43. Hooft, boek iiï., bl. 98, 99.
- Bor, boek ii., bl. 85. Strada, dec. i., lib. v., p. 160.
These melancholy and disgraceful outrages seem, indeed, to have annihilated the small remains of tolerance in the breast of Margaret towards the Reformers; for, though fear afterwards induced her to grant them some concessions, she never entertained for them other feelings than those of implacable hostility.
It may be readily imagined that the effect of these transactions on the mind of Philip was still more intense than on that of his sister. Though confined to his bed by severe sickness, he insisted that all the deliberations of his council on the subject should be held in his presence. Here it was decided, that the mob who had pillaged the churches, the heretics who paid them, the nobles who protected and incited them, and the friends and servants of the nobles, were all links of the same chain, and as such, all equally liable to punishment; and letters were despatched to the governess, desiring her to hasten the equipment of three thousand horse and ten thousand foot, which the king had before commissioned Duke Eric of Brunswick to levy for his service in the Netherlands.
To an offer of mediation made by the Emperor Maximilian II. at this crisis, Philip replied, that " matters had now arrived at such a pitch, that they could only be arranged by arms 1." In this disposition of mind, he was less than ever inclined to give a favourable reception to a petition transmitted to him by the Reformers of Antwerp, in the name of their brethren of the Netherlands, expressive of their detestation of the late outrages, which they affirmed were committed by the lowest of the people, women, and boys 2.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. v., p. 163,164.
- This was not quite the fact At Antwerp, where the fury was the most violent, a number of persons of respectable appearance, with pistols and short muskets under their cloaks, stood in the corners and bye-ways to protect the rioters; and attacked and scattered some of the burgher guards who attempted to seize them. Bor, boek ii., bl. 84.
They besought the king to permit them the free exercise of their religion in such places as the government should appoint; offering, in return for this favour, to contribute 3,000,000 of guilders to redeem the charges on the sovereign domains. The latter clause in particular gave deep offence, being interpreted as a lure to draw the German princes to their service. It is, indeed, not improbable, that they may have designed, under cover of raising this sum, to collect funds for the purpose of hiring troops in ease of need 1.
However embittered the spirit of Margaret might be, the necessity of her affairs, and the perilous position in which she stood, on the brink of a general revolt, obliged her to temporise. She consented to allow the preachings to be continued in places where they had already been held; and having received a well-timed answer from Spain to the requisitions sent through Bergen and Montigny, she declared to the confederate nobles the pleasure of the king, that the inquisition should cease, and a new edict against heresy be framed, but whether by the states general or not he had not decided; and that she was empowered to give them any security they desired, that they should not be vexed or disquietssed on account of the compromise, provided they would dissolve the confederacy, and use their utmost efforts to prevent tumult and disorder, and to bring the perpetrators of the late sacrilegious acts to punishment 2.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. 5, p. 165,166.
- Bor, boek ii., bl. 95, 96.
But the governess meant nothing less than to adhere to this agreement, any longer than circumstances obliged her to do so. She told some of her courtiers, with whom she was on terms of familiarity, that she had, against her will, and to avoid greater evils, permitted the heretics to hold their preachings, but she did not intend thereby to lessen her authority, or to neglect any means of lawful resistance against them. Unsuspicious of any double dealing, however, the frank-hearted Netherlander received the boon with joy and gratitude; "thanking God that they were allowed to worship him according to their conscience, without fear of the inquisition, bishops, or edicts." They built themselves churches with incredible diligence and rapidity, in which they attended their public service unarmed, and with the greatest order and decorum; and although some attempts were made to renew the image breaking, the seditious were forthwith seized and punished 1.
The first circumstance which roused their suspicions was an embassy from the Prince de Condé and the Admiral Coligny, the heads of the Reformers in France, to the confederate nobles, advising them to make no agreement whatever with the governess, for they would surely find themselves deceived. They promised at the same time, that if the confederates required their assistance, 4000 volunteers of cavalry should be ready to enter the Netherlands within a month. Their offer was thankfully refused 2.
- Meteren, boek ii., fol. 46.
- Bor, boek ii., bl. 98.
1566 The warning thus received was confirmed by some letters which a friend of the Prince of Orange had intercepted, written to the governess by Don Francis d'Alava, the ambassador of the King of Spain at the French court; wherein he recommended her to show a favourable Countenance to the Prince of Orange and the Counts of Egmond and Hoorn, until an opportunity should occur for treating them, the authors of all the mischief, as they deserved; he encouraged her to hope, that from the present unpromising state of affairs, the good effect would result to the king, of bringing the Netherlands to such a condition of obedience and submission, as none of his ancestors had as yet been able to do; for which purpose Philip himself would repair thither ere long, at the head of a powerful army, composed of the veteran troops of Italy.
The Lord of Montigny likewise wrote to his brother, the Count of Hoorn, from Spain, informing him of the excessive anger of the king at the outrages of the conoclasts, and urging that some means might be devised to appease him before his departure for the Netherlands. At this doubtful crisis, Orange, Egmond, and Hoorn, met together at Dendermonde, with Louis of Nassau and the Count of Hochstradt, to consider of their present situation, and the course of conduct now to be pursued, when each gave a different opinion, suitable to his character.
Louis of Nassau, bold, ardent, and enterprising, recommended the adoption of prompt and determined measures for their defence. Orange, prudent and cautious thought the wiser plan would be to retire from the Country; while Egmond, already weary of the turmoil in which he had involved himself, and sickening at the loss of court favour, advised that, without taking alarm at the letters of d'Alava, they should strive to convince the king of their zeal for his service, by their efforts to preserve the peace, and their entire submission to his ordinances.
His decision, unhappily for himself and his friends, prevailed, which, indeed, as he possessed unbounded influence with the troops, it was vain to oppose 1. He undertook to demand an explanation of the letters from the governess, when she either denied all knowledge of the matters alluded to in them, or put an entirely opposite interpretation on such parts as she was unable to disown. With her excuses, such as they were, Egmond allowed himself to be pacified. The Count of Hoorn, shortly after, had drawn up a full justification of his conduct in his government of Tournay, retired to his house at Weert; and the Prince of Orange, whose presence had been repeatedly solicited by the Hollanders, obtained permission of the governess to visit his Stadtholder ate.
Soon after his arrival, the states of Holland proposed to confer on him a gift of 55,000 guilders, which he refused, observing, that the public money might be better applied in these calamitous times. He made regulations for the performance of the reformed service, both Calvinist and Lutheran, under certain restrictions, and endeavoured, but without success, to induce the Reformers to be satisfied with churches outside the walls of the towns 2.
The difference of opinion between the heads of the popular party was an effective auxiliary to Margaret, in following the advice given her by Philip, to aim at the breaking up of the confederacy, by sowing mistrust and dissensions among its members. With this view, she held out to those of the Catholic religion promises of the king's speedy arrival, and of the clemency and favour he would show towards them in particular.
- Bor, boek ii., bl. 108—112. Verantwoordinge voor den Grave van Hoorn. Meteren, boek ii., lol. 48.
- Resol. Holl., 1566, bl. 58, 60. Hooft, Nederl. Hist., boek iii., bl. 118.
1566 Philip, likewise, wrote to several among them in the most gracious terms, especially the Prince of Orange, to whom he addressed a letter in his own hand, containing expressions of entire confidence and affection, and begging him (in answer to a request he had made some time before, to be dismissed from his employments) not to desert his service in this difficult „ crisis, but to cease for a while his intimacy with his brother, Louis, whose loyalty was suspected.
In consequence of the blandishments and solicitations of Philip and the governess, above a third part of the confederate nobles, among whom was the Count of Egmond, were induced to abandon the common cause 1. The important preliminary of dissolving the confederacy being thus accomplished, Margaret, under pretext of punishing the seditious and image-breakers, gave orders for levying, besides the German soldiers under Eric of Brunswick, two more regiments, under Count Philip of Oversteyn, with five of native troops of which two were Walloons 2. Thus supported, she felt it no longer necessary to disguise her real intentions. She placed troops at the disposal of the Stadtholder s of the provinces, with commands to seize and punish all those concerned in the late disorders, and to distribute garrisons in the principal towns of their governments. On the refusal of the citizens of Valenciennes to admit the soldiers within their walls, pleading that it was a violation of their privileges, she ordered Philip de St. Aldegonde, lord of Noircarmes, to lay siege to the town, and publicly proclaimed them traitors.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. v., p. 173. Meteren, boek ii., fol. 47. Autthen Stuk., bl. 17.
- The name of Walloon provinces is generally given to Hainaut, Artois, and French Flanders, where the French language is spoken.
The performance of the reformed services was forbidden in most of the provinces, and the ministers seized and imprisoned. To a remonstrance of the confederate nobles on the subject, Margaret replied, that she had, with great reluctance, granted the heretics liberty to preach, but she did not understand that they were to, perform the ceremony of marriage and other rites appertaining only to the true church 1.
The next measure adopted by the governess was to 1567 propose a new oath to all the members of the council of state, to the effect, that they should use their utmost endeavours to uphold the Catholic church, to punish the sacrilegious, and extirpate heresy; and that they should treat as enemies all those whom she declared such in the king's name. It was determined that all who refused to take this oath should be deprived of their offices; by which means, such as did not take it, were removed from affairs, while the governess secured the co-operation of those who did.
Egmond and most of the other nobles readily accepted it; the Prince of Orange, Brederode, Hoorn, and Hochstradt, declined, and the latter was in consequence commanded to surrender his government of Mechlin. To the prince Margaret sent a private ambassador, urging and even entreating him to conform to her wishes on this point; he, however, steadily refused. A similar oath, he objected, had never been imposed on any Stadtholder , and his accepting it would appear like an acknowledgment that he had previously failed in his duty; ho had sworn to preserve the privileges of his provinces, and if any thing were commanded by the king detrimental to them, he should be embarrassed by two oaths of a contrary nature; it was incompatible, also, with the feudal allegiance he owed to the Emperor of Germany; and, lastly, in swearing to prosecute heretics, he should bind himself to denounce his own wife and her family, who were Lutherans 2. He accompanied his refusal with a request that another Stadtholder might be appointed in his room. The office was afterwards conferred on Maximilian, Count of Bossn 3.
- Bor, boek ii., bl. 144—150. Meteren, boek ii., fol. 47.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. vL, p. 190,101.
- He had married, about two years before, Anne, daughter of Maurice, elector of Saxony.
1567 The popular party had been daily losing the ground thus gained by the court. The outrages committed on the churches, though disowned and deprecated by the better class of Reformers, cast, nevertheless a stigma on the whole body, and had alienated from them the minds of their Catholic allies, of whom many were now inclined to admit, that a necessity existed for the inquisition and the penal edicts. On the other hand, the activity which the principal among the confederates had shown in chastising the rioters, had rather excited against them the hatred of the populace, who conceived that the punishment of their excesses argued a desertion of their cause, than reassured the Catholics.
The Reformers, moreover, divided amongst themselves, could not be induced to act heartily together for the purpose of averting the common danger. They were generally considered as forming three principal sects, of which the Anabaptist was composed chiefly of the lower ranks of people, and, except in Friesland, comparatively small in number. The Lutherans, or as they were generally called, Protestants of the Augsburg confession, were the most influential from their station and property; while the 1567 Calvinists, by far the most numerous, active, and zealous, were proportionally detested by the court and Catholic clergy.
Each of these sects viewed the others with no less hatred and mistrust than they did the Catholics, whom the Lutherans, in fact, sometimes supported against their brother Reformers, in the civil broils of the towns. Neither was this feeling confined to the Reformers of the Netherlands, since the German Protestant princes refused to comply with their solicitations for aid, unless the Calvinists would first subscribe to the Augsburg confession; a condition which, it may be readily supposed, was rejected 1,2.
Added to these causes of division among the members of the popular party, was the entire separation which had now taken place between its leaders, the Prince of Orange and the Count of Egmond. The former had the advantage of the latter, inasmuch as he possessed a knowledge of the real views and designs of the Spanish court, by means of a spy he entertained there, in the person of one John of Castile, clerk to Andreas de las Layas, the king's secretary, who, for a pension of 300 crowns, betrayed to the prince all the secrets of his master; and as nearly the whole of the Netherland affairs in Spain were entrusted to the hands of this minister, the traitor had ample means of communicating to the prince all the information he desired 3.
- Hooft, boek iii., M. 112,122,123. Bor, boek iii., bL 168.
- The Duke of Wirtemberg, one of the heads of the Augsburg confession, had even gone so far as to promise the Duke of Guise, the bitter persecutor of the Reformers in France, to unite with the Catholics in preventing the spread of the Calvinistic doctrines, provided the work of purifying the Romish Church were not neglected, and that the punishments and proscriptions of the Lutherans should cease.—Thuanus, lib. xxix., cap. 9.
- Bor, boek xvi., bl. 288.
1567 Orange, therefore, knew full well that no safety remained for him except in flight, or in arms; but professing the Catholic religion, and dreading lest he should appear to Countenance the excesses of the Reformers, he pursued a vacillating course of policy, at one time joining in preparations for active resistance to the government, at another zealously obeying its orders, and assisting in the suppression of disturbances 1.
Ëgmond, in impoverished circumstances, and dependent for support on the emoluments of his offices, either felt or feigned implicit reliance on the promises of the king, whose merciful and benevolent disposition he made the constant theme of his discourse. At this time he seemed to have nothing so much at heart as to expiate his former offences by his present devotion to the service of the court, displaying the greatest activity in abolishing the reformed worship, punishing heretics, and forcing the towns throughout his government of Flanders to receive garrisons.
Henry van Brederode, more perhaps from necessity than inclination, remained faithful to the cause he had espoused. A direct descendant in the male line from the ancient Counts of Holland 2, his title to the sovereignty of the County, was considered by many to be preferable to that of the reigning prince, and he was accused by his enemies of directing his views to the seat of his forefathers; he had been the promoter, and most active member of the confederacy 3: was a sincere and zealous Protestant; and from his illustrious descent, joined to his brave and generous disposition, was as much beloved 1567 by the people, if less reverenced, than Orange and Egmond.
- Bor, boek iii., bl. 145. Meteren, bock ii., fol. 48.
- His ancestor was Siward, or Sigefrid, younger son of Arnold, third Count of Holland.—See Part I., chap.1.
- Vide p. 620.
For these reasons he was peculiarly obnoxious at court, and finding himself shut out from all hopes of a reconciliation, he made active preparations for hostilities. He fortified the town of Vianen, a part of his patrimonial demesnes, provided it with heavy artillery, supplied to him for the purpose from Utrecht by the Prince of Orange, and placed within it a garrison of 3000 men 1.
Troops were also levied by the Lord of Tholen, and a few other confederate nobles, who made an attempt to possess themselves of Flushing, which being unsuccessful, they retired to Oosterwel near Antwerp, Here they were attacked by some companies under Philip de Lannoy, lord of Beauvais, and the Count of Egmond, defeated, and dispersed, Tholen himself being slain.
A similar fete befel a band of 3000 Reformers, who marched from Tournay with the purpose of throwing succours into Valenciennes. This city, which had been besieged since the November of the previous year, now surrendered at discretion when 200 of the inhabitants were put to death by command of the Lord of Noircarmes 2. To add to the consternation occasioned by these disasters, a report was universally spread through the Netherlands, that the king being unable to visit them in person, was about to send thither the Duke of Alva at the head of a large army of Spaniards and Italians. Taking advantage of the general terror, the governess adroitly gave the Stadtholder s and the magistrates of the towns to understand, that the king's wrath would be appeased, and the army withheld, if the heretics were finally put to silence. In consequence of this hint, the reformed service was rapidly abolished through the whole Country; the churches everywhere broken down, and not unfrequently gibbets made of the materials.
- Bor, boek iii., bl. 147.
- Meteren, boek ii., fol. 60.
1567 Such was the state of affairs, when an interview was once more brought about between the Prince of Orange and the Count of Egmond at Willebroeck. Here the prince represented to Egmond, in urgent and forcible terms, the destruction that would ensue to them from the invasion of the Spanish army, and besought him either to enter into a general league with the nobles to oppose their coming, or to seek for safety in flight. But in spite of his prayers and entreaties, Egmond obstinately rejected both these measures, observing, that from the active part he had taken in the punishment of the image-breakers and heretics, he had everything to hope from the mercy of the king. " Your hope then is fallacious," replied Orange, in a tone of melancholy prophecy, " you will but serve as the bridge for the Spaniards to pass over into the Netherlands, which as soon as they have passed, they will destroy 1,2. The two nobles separated with mutual tears and embraces, and shortly after, the prince retired to his territory of Nassau in Germany, leaving his son Philip, Count of Buuren, at the university of Louvain. Brederode, then at Amsterdam, being warned of the approaching danger, took refuge in Cleves, where he died the following year. After his departure, Vianen, and the rest of his demesnes, were occupied and pillaged by the troops of Count Eric of Brunswick 3
- Strada, dec. i., lib. vi., p. 206.
- The popular story that Egmond took leave of the prince in then terms "Adieu prince sans terre!" and that Orange replied, "Adietss comte sans t��te!" rests solely on the authority of Aubery du Maurier, the account of their separation being given by the contemporary historians as in the text. The character of both, indeed, renders it highly improbable that they should have indulged in such coarse and cruel irony, on so mournful an occasion.
- Bor, boek iii., bl. 160.
The governess having thus obtained the full gratification of her wishes in the punishment of the heretics and the abolition of their worship, earnestly besought the king to grant her full powers to proclaim * general pardon*, and that be would abandon his purpose of sending an army into the Netherlands; a measure which had now, she said, become wholly unnecessary, since all the principal towns had received garrisons, the seditious were punished, and - the reformed churches everywhere destroyed 1.
Far different, however, were the resolutions which prevailed in the Spanish council. Of this body three members alone, Roderic Gomez di Suva, the Duke di Fern, and the Cardinal Fresnada, advocated the cause of mercy; the remainder, among whom the most influential were Alvarez di Toledo, Duke of Alva, and the Cardinal of Granvelle, used their utmost endeavours in urging on Philip to those severities, to which he was already but too well inclined. In compliance with their exhortations, supported by those of the Pope, he declared his intention of marching in person at the bead of his army, to chastise the rebels in the Netherlands, and he even made some preparations for his journey; but the affairs of Spain were not at this time in a condition to admit of his absence. The disaffected in that Country only waited for a leader to break out out into open revolt, and he feared lest, if he left his eldest son, Don Carlos, behind him, they would immediately adopt him as such; while, as he had been heard to express sympathy for the misfortunes of the Netherlanders, his presence among them was equally hazardous 2.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. vi., p. 201, 208.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. vi., p. 202.
J567 In this perplexity Philip came to the fatal determination of entrusting the command of the forces, with almost unlimited power, into the hands of the Duke of Alva, a man who, as he had been foremost in advising, was well fitted for executing measures of harshness and severity. An able and experienced general, a devoted and unscrupulous servant of his sovereign, and a stern bigot in religion, he was one to whom the quality of mercy was unknown.
The king commanded the governors of Sicily, Sardinia and Milan, to place all the veteran troops stationed in the fortresses there at his disposal; the clergy and members of the inquisition advanced contributions, as for a holy war; and the Spanish nobles, eager at once to extirpate the heretics, and to enrich themselves with their spoils, volunteered in numbers to accompany the expedition. The Duke, embarking for Italy with two of his sons, Don Frederic and Don Ferdinand de Toledo, arrived at Genoa on the 17th of May 1567 1. Shortly after his departure the Marquis of Bergen, who had been sent with the Lord de Montigny as ambassador to Spain, died suddenly, either from grief at the unhappy condition of his Country, or, as it was believed, from poison administered by an order of the king 2.
Dread and despair seized the Netherlanders at the news of Alva's approach. Nobles, merchants, labourers and partizans were mingled in one general and precipitate flight; vessels of all nations in the ports were crowded with exiles hurrying from their native shores; -and a prohibition issued by the governess, to prevent all persons, under pain of confiscation of their goods from quitting their homes without permission of the 1567 authorities of the place where they resided, served but to increase the evil.
- Meteren, boek iii., fol. 63.
- This, however, is strenuously denied by the friends of the court. Strada, lib. vi., p. 209.
Men fled with the greater haste and secrecy, often leaving their wives and families and the whole of their property to the mercy of their persecutors. Thousands sought refuge in England, Germany, and Denmark; the name of "beggars," a name given in scorn, and borne in pride, became but too true an appellation; the high-born, the wealthy, and the learned, were beheld wandering about in foreign lands and begging their bread. They still wore the dress and retained the badge of " Gueux," in token of their devotion to the cause for which they suffered, and the hope they cherished of being one day restored to their beloved Country 1.
The utter annihilation of the popular party at this period, proves how erroneous is the assertion of the Jesuit, Strada and others, who state that the revolt of the Netherlands was to be attributed, not to the inquisition or the introduction of the new bishops, but solely to the machinations of some impoverished and disappointed nobles 2. In the first formation of the confederacy the nobles rather obeyed than excited the popular impulse which, instead of contributing to sustain, they, by their vacillation and dissensions served but to divide and weaken. So far as they were concerned, the movement was now entirely at an end; and it is to their selfishness, treachery, or inconstancy, that the temporary ruin of the people's cause is to be ascribed.
- Bor, boek iii., bl. 172,176. Meteren, boek ii., fol. 51.
- Strada, dec. L, lib. ii., p. 47.