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
Arrival of the Duh of Alva in the Netherlands. Arrest of the Counts of Egmond and Hoorn. Establishment of the Council of Troubles. Resignation of the Governess Margaret. Severities exercised by the Council, Remonstrance of Holland. Desertion of the Netherlands. Wild Gueux. Outlawry of the Prince of Orange. His Son carried Prisoner to Spain. Commencement of Hostilities. Battle of Heyligerlee. Execution of Egmond and Hoorn. Battle of Jemmingen. Campaign in the Netherlands of the Prince of Orange, unsuccessful. Statue of Alva at Antwerp. His arbitrary Government. Opposition of Leyden. Animosity of the Queen of England towards Alva. Seizure of the Treasure sent to the Netherlands. Alva attempts to levy the Tenth. Consents to a Substitution. Proceedings of the Prince of Orange. Petition of the Netherland Exiles to the Dietss at Spires. Amnesty. Flood. Gueux expelled the Ports of England. Capture of Briel. Second attempt to levy the Tenth, at Brussels. Siege of Briel by the Spaniards. Gueux take possession of Flushing. Capture of Merchant Ships. Duke of Medina-Celi arrives in the Netherlands. Louis of Nassau obtains succours from France. Surprises Mons. Revolt of the Province of Holland. Assembly of the States there. Siege and reduction of Mons by AIva. Sack of Mechlin. Siege of Goes raised by the Gueux. Prince of Orange in Holland. Pillage of Zutphen. Massacre of Naarden. Siege of Haarlem; of Akimaar. Naval Victory of the Gueux. Assembly of the States-general. Recall of Alva. His Character. Cruelties committed by the Spaniards in the Netherlands.
1567 The Duke of Alva was delayed some time on his journey to the Netherlands, first at Genoa, by a severe fit of sickness, and afterwards in Savoy, by letters from the governess, who once more endeavoured to divert the king from his purpose, representing the pacified and submissive condition of the Country, and that the presence of the Spanish army would only awaken fresh disturbances. One hundred thousand persons, she urged, had already quitted the Netherlands, and it was to be feared that if the desertion continued, the provinces would be entirely depopulated.
Her remonstrances were attended with no other effect than an order from Philip to the Duke of Alva, to hasten his march as much as possible. The Netherlanders concealing their dread under a show of courtesy, or with a faint hope of propitiating their foe, prepared to receive him with every demonstration of joy; the Count of Egmond, with some other nobles, even advanced as far as Luxemburg to bid him welcome. His reception of them was such as might have awakened their fears under far less perilous circumstances. As the Count of Egmond presented himself he exclaimed aloud, " Here comes the arch heretic!" and replied to their expressions of congratulation, " Welcome or not, it is all one; here I am 1."
In the month of August the Duke entered the Netherlands, at the head of an army of 19,000 infantry and 1200 cavalry, composed of Spaniards, Italians, Savoyards, and Germans, the greater portion of them veteran troops, and in a high state of discipline. Besides his commission as captain-general, he was furnished by the king with another private commission, by which he was empowered to remove and appoint Stadtholder s of provinces, and all other public officers, to build forts and citadels, to levy such funds as were necessary for the support of his troops, and to seek out and punish heretics and seditious persons.
On being asked by the governess if he had any farther instructions, he insolently replied, that he would produce them as occasion required. Though deeply hurt at this treatment, Margaret, well knowing that a word from her, expressive of dissatisfaction, would be sufficient to throw the whole of the provinces into a state of uproar, took no farther 1567 notice of it, than immediately to write to the king requesting her dismissal 2*.
- Meteren, boek iii., fol. 53, 64. Bor, boek iv., bL 182.
- Cesare Campana, Guerre di Fiandre, lib. ii., p. 31—S3. Strada, lib. vi., p. 214.
Having placed his troops in garrison in the towns of Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent, of which he obliged the citizens to deliver up the keys, Alva resolved upon executing without delay those projects of vengeance which the king had long secretly cherished; and for this the blind confidence of his intended victims soon gave him an opportunity. He summoned a general assembly of the council of state at Brussels, when the Counts of Egmond and Hoorn appearing among others, were received with every appearance of friendship, and admitted to several interviews with the Duke at the house of Culemburg, where he resided.
On one occasion, the conference being prolonged to a late hour of the day, the Count of Egmond was preparing to depart, when he was invited into a side apartment, as if for the purpose of a private communication. On his entrance, he was immediately arrested by some Spanish soldiers, under the command of Don Frederic di Toledo and Sanchio d'Avila.
At the first moment he changed Countenance, and appeared struck with dismay, but quickly recovering himself, he surrendered his sword with composure, observing, " That sword has, ere now, done the king good service." The Count of Hoorn at the same time was made prisoner in another part of the building, by Don Ferdinand di Toledo. John Casembrot, lord of Backerseel, secretary to the Count of Egmond, and the secretary of the Count of Hoorn, Alonzo de la Loo, were likewise seized, together with all the principal officers and servants belonging to their household, and the whole of their papers. The Count of Hochstradt, being delayed by an accident on his road to Brussels, received a timely, warning from the fete 1567 of his companions to proceed no farther.
Egmond and Hoorn, after remaining some days confined at Brussels, were conducted prisoners to Ghent, under an escort of three thousand Spanish soldiers 1. Although this act had been done without the consent or knowledge of the governess, and was, in fact, a flagrant contempt of her authority, Alva deemed no farther apology necessary, than a declaration that be had forborne to consult her, because he was desirous of saving her from the obloquy with which it must necessarily be attended 2.
The subsequent measures of the Duke sufficiently testified that he was prepared to carry out to the fullest extent the counsels he had given his sovereign, not to lose so fair a pretext for breaking at once the sealsof all the charters of the Netherlands, badges of the weakness of his ancestors, disgraceful chains upon the prince, and sources of disaffection to the people, and placing a sharp bridle in the mouth of the conquered provinces 3,4. Not content with enforcing the inquisition and the penal edicts in their utmost rigour, he annihilated at one fell blow, all the privileges and liberties which the Netherlander had so hardly won and so deeply cherished, by the erection of a council, which he called the Council of Troubles, but which soon merited and received the name of the "Council of Blood".
- It was said that when the Cardinal of Granvelle heard that Alva had the principal of the Netherland nobles in his power, he inquired "whether they had caught the Taciturn (a nickname given to the Prince of Orange,) and being answered in the negative ; " Ah then," he Replied, if he is not in the net, Alva has caught nothing." Strada, dec. i., lib. vi., p. 216.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 184,185. Hooft, boek iv., bl. 142.
- The king had obtained of the Pope absolution from the oath he had taken at his accession. Bor, Autthen. Stuk., torn, i., bl. 6.
1567 This council consisted of twelve members, at the head of whom was a Spaniard, John di Vargas, a man so notorious for his cruelty, that it was a generally received saying among his Countrymen, that " to cut away the gangrene of heresy from the Netherlands it was necessary to have a knife like Vargas". Closely associated with him, both by family connection and similarity of disposition, was Jacob Hessels, of whom it is reported, that he took no other part in the debates, during which he generally slept, than when the votes were given to cry out, " To the gibbet! to the gibbet*!" As all those in whom fanaticism or cupidity had not extinguished every spark of human feeling, soon retired from the council in disgust at its barbarous and tyrannical proceedings, the whole authority was left in the hands of these two, and Louis del Rio, a Spanish priest 1.
Such was the character of the men to whom was committed absolute power over the lives, persons, and property of the Netherlander; for though Alva reserved to himself the final decision of all questions discussed by them, he rarely failed to consent to whatever they proposed. The jurisdiction of all the native tribunals was superseded; the authority of the council of state annihilated; and the rights, privileges, and customs of the provinces declared mischievous and invalid 2.
The governess perceiving herself deprived, by the establishment of the new council, of even the shadow of authority, peremptorily insisted on her dismissal, which was granted with ample expressions of approbation of her government, and a present of 30,000 crowns with an annuity of 20,000 for life 3.
- Meteren, boek iii., fol. 54, Hooft, boek xiv., bl. 594,' 1 Meteren, boek, iii., fol. 54,
- This miscreant ultimately suffered the same fate he was so ready to inflict on others; he was hanged to a tree by the people of Ghent during some commotions which occurred there in 1570. Met, boek viü? fol. 161.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 168.
With her departed the last glimmering ray of hope from the hearts of the unhappy Netherlanders. She had never, until her anger was roused by the public preachings of the Reformers and the excesses of the image-breakers, enforced the persecuting edicts, but after vehement remonstrances to the king, and in obedience to his repeated and pressing importunities 1; she constantly dissuaded Philip from having recourse fro violent measures, and, on the other hand, sincerely endeavoured to conciliate the minds of the discontented nobles.
Her just indignation at the outrages committed on the churches, and her real alarm for the welfare of the Catholic religion, once appeased by the punishment of the seditious and the dispersion of the heretical assemblies, she soon returned to those better and gentler impulses by which she had before been swayed. She left no means untried to prevent the invasion of the Spanish army; and even after the arrival of Alva, smothering her own feelings of wounded pride at the style of his coming, she advised him to disband the greater part of his troops, and rather to regain the good will of the Netherlander by kind treatment, than attempt to subdue them by force 2.
In her last letter to the king, she made one more effort to move his pity, and soften his heart to the miseries of his subjects: " I pray and conjure you," she writes, " that, mindful of your own and the divine mercy, vengeance may be confined to few, and that you will prefer the repentance to the punishment of your people 3."
- Philip's commands to Margaret were imperative, to use her utmost efforts to extirpate the heretics, amongst whom he seemed to know the age, condition, and opinions of each individual. See extracts from his private letters in Strada, deel.1, lib. iv», p. 100.
- Meteren, boek iii., fol. 54.
- Strada, dec. i., lib. yL, p. 219.
1567 With these dispositions it is most probable that, had time been permitted her, her messures of conciliation would have proved as successful as her measures of coercion had been effective. Had Philip not committed the grave and fatal political error of removing her from the government at this juncture, or had he even then condescended to abide by; her counsels, there is little doubt that he might have prevented the crimes and miseries of ensuing years and transmitted these valuable dominions in wealth and peace to his posterity.
Freed at length from the semblance of a superior authority, and from the restraints which the mere presence of the governess imposed, the Duke of Alva, who, on her resignation, was appointed governor-general, and his council of troubles began to execute their decrees with appalling severity. They had declared guilty of high treason all who had not used their utmost endeavours to prevent the pillage of the churches or the preachings of the heretics; all who had supported the petitions against the bishops, edicts, and inquisition ; all who had expressed approbation of the confederacy of the nobles who had worn the badges, or pledged to the health of the "Gueux;" and all who had at any time pleaded the national privileges in opposition to the commands of the sovereign. Thus, scarcely an individual in the whole Country was safe. The rich were summoned before the council twenty and thirty together; the property of such as did not appear was immediately confiscated; those who did were invariably condemned, dragged at the tail of a horse to the place of execution, and hanged. The poor were seized at once, cruelly tortured, and put to death, without even the form of a trial 1.
- Hooft, boek iv., bl. 152. Meteren, boek iii., fol. 65.
The whole land was crowded with gibbets: the trees by the wayside were loaded with corpses; and bodies fastened to stakes, burnt, mangled, and headless, met the eye in every direction. The living walked among the dead as in a charnel house. From the judgments of this terrible tribunal there was no appeal, in its executions no mercy. More than eighteen hundred persons perished within the space of a few weeks by the hand of the executioner. The citizens of Antwerp having ventured to remonstrate against these cruelties, were sharply told by the Duke, that he was astonished any one should be found so bold as to intercede for heretics, and if they did not take heed, they would all be put to death as an example to others; adding, that the king would rather see the whole Country a desert, than permit a single heretic to remain in it 1. It was a wretched source of consolation, that those magistrates who had been foremost in the work of persecution fared no better than the rest, several being put to death on the accusation of negligence, and connivance with the heretics 2.
The governments of all the towns where any disturbances had occurred were obliged to justify themselves before the council of blood as to the cause of their not having been prevented; and the pensionaries and advocates of many of the provinces, as well as of the towns, were seized and brought before the same tribunal. Among the rest, Jacob van der Einde, pensionary of Holland, was arrested by the Lord of Bossu, who had invited him to his house under a show of friendship, and sent prisoner to Brussels, together with all the papers, public and private, found in his possession.
- Bor, boek iv., bl, 220, 211.
- Hooft, boek iv., bl. 153.
He was accused before the council of blood of having been present at the requisition made to the king on his departure, to withdraw the Spanish troops from the Netherlands. On this occasion the Hollanders showed, that even in these times of terror and abasement, their ancient spirit had not quite deserted them. They sent several burgomasters and magistrates to Brussels to demand the release of their advocate, and the surrender of the public documents; adding the intelligible hint, that until the latter were returned, it was impossible either to levy the public imposts, or to pass the receiver's accounts. John van Treslong, pleaded the cause of the pensionary so boldly, that he was seized and detained a whole day in custody; upon which the others, fearing for their own safety so near the court, returned to Holland. Alva, tyrannical and reckless as he was, did not venture to push matters to extremity; but the council, unwilling to release their captive, prolonged the trial until the next year, when van Einde died in prison. After his death he was acquitted, and his property freed from sequestration 1.
These violent and sanguinary proceedings occasioned, as may well be imagined, a daily increasing desertion of the Netherlands, in spite of the preventive edict of the late governess; and as many of the fugitives volunteered in the service of the Huguenots, in the civil war now 1568 raging in France, Alva decreed immediate outlawry and confiscation of goods against such as left their homes without permission; and shortly after forbad, under the same penalty, any communication to be held with the exiles. A portion of the miserable inhabitants, driven by desperation to seek refuge in the woods of West Flanders, and depending for their subsistence on plunder, became a terror to the Country, under the name of Wild Gueux, exercising their vengeance principally on the priests and monks, whom they robbed, and frequently put to death with cruel tortures.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 209—211.
The Duke of Alva attempted to put a stop to their excesses, by making each parish responsible for the safety of its clergy; but as this proved ineffectual, he despatched a band of soldiers into Flanders, by whom the Wild Gueux were quickly extirpated 1,
About four months subsequently to the arrest of the Counts of Egmond and Hoorn, a citation was issued, summoning the Prince of Orange, his brother, Count Louis of Nassau, the Count of Hochstradt, the Lord of Brederode, and others of the nobility, to appear before the Duke in councils within three terms of fourteen days each; and on their non-appearance, they were condemned to death as guilty of high treason.
Vargas likewise, by order of Alva, seized the prince's son, the Count of Buuren, a child of thirteen years of age, then at the high school of Lou-vain. The governors in vain protested against such a violation of the privileges of the university; Vargas vouchsafed them no other reply than a single sentence, of which it were difficult to determine, whether the language or the sentiment it was intended to convey was most offensive to the worthy professors, "Non Quramus vestros privilegios." The young Count was sent prisoner to Spain, where he was detained nearly thirty years. Both the Prince of Orange and the Count of Hochstradt, answered the citation in writing, protesting against the competency of the court to try them, on the ground of their being knights of the Golden Fleece, and liable to be cited only before their peers. The prince, likewise, as a member of the empire, obtained the intercession of the emperor and 1568 princes of Germany; but Philip merely replied to the ambassador sent by Maximilian for this purpose, that he had given the Duke of Alva an unlimited commission to execute his wishes concerning the affaire of the Netherlands 2.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 124.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 222, 227. Autthen. Stuk., bl. 10.
As Alva now apprehended some hostile attempts on the part of the fugitive nobles, and that peace having been declared between the Huguenots and government of France, the German Protestant princes who had assisted the former, would turn their arms against himself, he fortified the frontier towns, and hastened the completion of a strong citadel he had begun some time before at Antwerp, with a view of keeping the inhabitants of Brabant in subjection. His army was reinforced by the return of 1200 horse, and 2000 foot, whom he had sent under the Count of Aremberg as auxiliaries to the king of France, and he likewise took into his pay the whole of the Italian cavalry discharged from the service of that monarch, and levied 2000 recruits among the Walloons 1.
The Prince of Orange, on his side, convinced that no hope of returning to his Country, or delivering it from oppression, remained but in arms, invested his brother Louis with a commission "to enter the Netherlands with an army, for the purpose of restoring freedom, and liberty of conscience to the inhabitants, and of preserving the provinces for the king in their former prosperous condition* 2. Before he proceeded to this last irrevocable step, he published a long and able manifesto, justifying all his acts since the accession of the king, enumerating his services both before and after that period, and proving that the present disorders were to be attributed, not to his own ambition as his enemies falsely asserted, but to the mat-administration 1568 of Granvelle, and the attempts of the Spaniards to reduce the Netherlands to slavery, by the introduction of the inquisition 3,4.
- Meteren, boek in., fol. 67.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 233.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 233. Autthen. Stuk., deel. i., bl. 3.
- According to Grotius (Ann., lib. ii., p. 42), he declares in this manifesto his abandonment of the Catholic religion; but I have remarked no expression that can be so interpreted. In the commission given to his brother, indeed, he says that the penal edicts were enacted for the purpose of "rooting out the pure word and service of God."—Bor, boek iv., bl. 233. An air of mystery is thrown by historians over the exact time of William's conversion to the reformed religion, which, however, seems to have been effected during the period between his flight from the Netherlands, and his proscription by Alva.
The German princes, chagrined at the haughty refusal of their mediation by Philip, and jealous of the near neighbourhood of so large a number of Spanish troops, readily granted their aid to the fugitive nobles. It was the design of the confederates, to commence hostilities on several quarters at once, in order, by that means, to embarrass Alva, and encourage the inhabitants to join their standard. But before the Prince of Orange was in a sufficient state of preparation, Louis of Nassau entered the province of Groningen at the head of some hastily-levied troops.
The Duke immediately despatched the Count of Aremberg with about one thousand Spanish and Italian, and five hundred German infantry, to oppose his advance; but Louis had already mastered the small fort of Wedde, and reduced Appingadam. Fearing, however, to await the attack of the disciplined troops of D'Aremberg, he commenced his retreat, pursued by the enemy, to the village of Heyligerlee. Here the Spanish soldiers, imagining that the retreat of Louis was in fact a flight, forced their general to a battle before the arrival of the cavalry which was coming up, under the Count of Megen. 1568
The consequence was an entire victory on the side of the Gueux the Count D'Aremberg himself being slain with 600 men, and all his baggage and plate, and six pieces of artillery, taken. Louis lost only a few men in this action, but among them was his young brother, the Count Adolphus of Nassau. Unfortunately, instead of pushing on at once to Friesland, where crowds of the disaffected would probably have joined his standard, Louis consumed his time in a vain attempt to reduce Groningen, for which he possessed neither sufficient troops nor artillery 1.
On intelligence of this defeat, the Duke of Alva, whether in revenge of the death of the Count D'Aremberg, who stood high in his esteem, or because he wished to employ in active service the troops occupied in guarding the prisons, resolved upon the immediate execution of all the nobles then in confinement.
On the 1st of June, eighteen noble captives, from among the most illustrious families in the Netherlands, were beheaded in the horse-market at Brussels, and the bodies of seven of them, who had died without confession, fastened to stakes and left to perish on the public highway 2. The trial of the Counts of Egmond and Hoorn had been commenced in the early part of the year, before Vargas and Louis del Rio, members of the council of blood, and conducted in a manner so arbitrary and unconstitutional, as to leave the question of their guilt or innocence wholly out of view. Egmond, the possessor of large estates in Brabant, was properly amenable to the supreme court of that duchy; and the Count of Hoorn, the principal portion of whose lands lay in Germany, had a right to be considered as a subject of the empire; both, likewise, appealed to their privilege of being tried only by their peers, as knights 1568 of the Golden Fleece.
- Campana, Guerre di Fiandre, lib. Hi., p. 38, 43—40.
- Meteren, boek iii., fol. 68.
Their plea was disregarded; they were neither confronted with the witnesses, nor allowed a copy of the depositions; and were refused permission either to hold private interviews with their attornies, or to employ counsel in their defence. By this mockery of a trial, they were found guilty upon an indictment, Egmond of ninety, Hoorn of sixty different Counts; the greater number of so frivolous a nature, that it seems wonderful how any tribunal could have been found, gravely to sustain them. The only ones of any importance were, that they had favoured and promoted the detestable conspiracy of the Prince of Orange; that they had afforded their protection to the confederate nobles; and that they had ill-served both the king and the church in their Stadtholder ates and other offices. They were condemned to death, notwithstanding the earnest intercession of the emperor, the elector palatine, and several German princes in their favour 1.
On the evening of the fourth of June 1568, the Duke of Alva summoned the Bishop of Ypres, Martin Ryhoven, to his presence, and commanded him to prepare the Count of Egmond for death the next day. The bishop fell on his knees, and bursting into tears, implored, in accents of the most humble entreaty, that the Count's life might be spared, or at least that the execution might be delayed. " I did not bring you from Ypres," answered Alva fiercely, " to change or defer the sentence, but to confess the criminal.' On the delivery of the sentence, which was drawn out by Hessels, and signed by Alva alone, Egmond asked if there was no hope; and being informed by the bishop of what had passed, began to prepare himself calmly for death.
- Bor, Autth. Stuk., deel. i., bl. 40, et seq.
1568 He wrote a farewell letter to his wife, to whom he was fondly attached, and another to the king, recommending her and his children to his mercy, in memory of his former services. He then confessed, and received the last sacrament at the hands of the bishop. Before midday on the following morning, himself and the Count of Hoorn, were conducted by a guard of 2000 Spanish soldiers to the scaffold, erected in the hone-market at Brussels. As they ascended, Egmond asked once more, "Is there no hope?" The captain of the guard, Julian de Romero, shook his head, and was silent. He immediately knelt down, and taking a crucifix from the Bishop of Ypres, kissed it, and exclaimed, " Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!" The dreadful moment passed, the Count of Hoorn next submitted to his fate with the courage of a hero, and the humility of a Christian. He died professing the tenets of the Protestant faith.
Thousands had assembled to witness the execution, of which they scarcely seemed to believe the possibility. The two nobles, from their ancient descent, their high station, the eminent services they had rendered their Country, their courage, liberality, and popular manners, were, notwithstanding their vacillating and temporizing conduct during the late troubles, peculiarly the objects of love and veneration to the people. All that the Netherlanders had hitherto suffered—though death or ruin had fallen upon every family—though they lay down in fear, and rose up in sorrow—had failed to inspire them with the feelings of anguish, horror, and detestation, excited by the spectacle now presented to their eyes.
The serried ranks of armed men prevented any attempt at rescue, and even checked the sound of a murmur from the surrounding multitude; but as soon as the fatal blow was struck, and the troops began to give way, the people rushed 1568 tumultuously to the scaffold; some kneeling before it, vowed, after the manner of their forefathers, to leave their hair and beards uncut, till blood so noble was avenged 1; others dipped their handkerchiefs in the gore, and pressed them to their bosoms with muttered imprecations; while others, among whom were the Spanish soldiers themselves, vented their grief in tears and lamentations.
It was said, that the French ambassador, who was secretly a witness of the execution, remarked, that he had " now seen the head of that man fall who had thrice caused all France to tremble*2. After the heads had remained fixed upon iron poles for two hours, they were interred with their bodies; that of Egmond in the church of St. Clara, at Sotteghem, in Flanders, and the body of Hoorn at Kempen 3.
About the time of these tragical events in the Netherlands, the Lord of Montigny was beheaded in Spain, in pursuance of a sentence promulgated by the council of blood; and Don Carlos, the eldest son of the king, was thrown into prison upon an accusation of entertaining a secret correspondence with the disaffected nobles of that Country. He died within a few days of his arrest, as some affirmed, by his own act, from impatience of confinement; but as there was every reason to believe, in consequence of poison administered by order of Philip.
- Tacit, de Mor., cap. 31.
- Alluding to the marriage of Philip with Maiy, queen of England, negotiated by Egmond, and the battles of St. Quentin and Grave-lingues.
- Meteren, boek Hi., fol. 58. Grot. Annalea, lib. ii., p. 40. Bor, boek iv.,bl. 226, 239,240.
A similar suspicion attended the death of his step-mother within three months 1568 after; and the intelligence of these atrocities served to convince the Netherlanders, that Alva, in all that he had hitherto done, had not exceeded the instructions given him by the king, whom they now began to look upon as a tyrant yet more sanguinary and vindictive than him whom he had sent amongst them 1.
The Duke of Alva having, as he supposed, infused a salutary fear into the minds of the Netherlanders by the acts of remorseless and impolitic cruelty which he had perpetrated, prepared to march in person against Louis of Nassau, who was still engaged at the siege of Groningen. On the approach of Alva, Louis retired towards the Ems, with the design of fortifying himself at Jem-mingen, until the Prince of Orange could arrive with succours. Thither he was closely followed by the Duke, with his whole army, notwithstanding that Louis, to impede his march, had broken the bridges behind him, and, by opening the sluices, had laid a great portion of the Country under water. Seeing, therefore, no chance of further retreat, he drew out his army in order of battle; when, at this critical moment, the troops, composed mostly of German mercenaries, instead of preparing to fight, began to mutiny for want of pay. Scarcely had they given time for the vanguard of the Spaniards to attack them, when they broke their ranks, and fled towards the boats lying in the Ems; nearly six thousand were killed in the pursuit, or drowned in attempting to reach them. Louis, seeing himself almost deserted, made his escape to East Friesland, leaving behind his artillery, plate, and baggage. After the battle, the Spaniards entered Jemmingen, where they put every human being, of whatever age or sex, to the sword 2.
- Tlraanus, lib. XLiih, cap. 8.
- Campana, Guer. di Fiand., lib. ii., p. 56.
The Duke immediately despatched letters to the Councils of state of all the provinces, with the 1568 news of his victory, ordering that it should be celebrated with processions and thanksgivings; a mandate which the people dared not disobey. Having raised a fort at Delfzyl to command the Ems, he returned by way of Utrecht and Amsterdam to Brabant 1.
Undismayed by this ruinous defeat, Louis of Nassau rallied the remains of his scattered forces, and hastened to join his brother, William of Orange, who was assembling a powerful army in his German territories. In the month of September he had collected under his standard forty-four companies (in each a hundred men) of German infantry, 4000 archers, French and Netherland refugees, and 4000 cavalry 2, with four large and six smaller pieces of artillery. His banners, designed as emblems of the purpose for which he invaded his Country, were inscribed with the motto, "Pro lege, grege, et rege!" and on others was painted a pelican feeding her young with her own blood. Before he commenced his march, he caused manifestoes to be published, justifying his necessary defence against the horrible tyranny of the Duke of Alva, and calling upon the Netherlanders to devote their lives and property to an unanimous resistance against the blood-thirstiness of the Spaniards, the eternal slavery of themselves and their posterity, and the destruction of the pure religion 3.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 245.
- Meteren, Bor, and Campana, all agree as to the amount of infantry, but differ with respect to the cavalry, of which Bor states the number to have been 4000, Meteren, 7000, Grotius, 6000, Campana, 9000, and Strada 10,000, while De Thou alone gives the much more probable estimate of 700.
- b Campana, Guer. di Fiand., lib. ii., p. 67. Meteren, boek iii., fol. 62* Bor, boek iv., bl. 265.
The Duke of Alva having received a supply of 400,000 crowns, with 2500 fresh troops from Spain, marched, at the head of an army of 5500 horse, and 16,000 foot, to Maestricht, where he formed a strong encampment, being kept for some time in doubt as to where his adversary would direct his first attack.
At length Orange, finding himself destitute of materials for throwing a bridge across the Meuse, passed that river at a ford near Stochem, between Maestricht and Ruremonde, by a bold and rapid movement, executed almost in sight of Alva's army. But the issue of the campaign, thus auspiciously commenced, was equally unsuccessful with that of Louis. Alva, an able and experienced captain, adopted the same system of tactics which he had often found to serve him well during the long wars he had conducted in Italy. He carefully avoided a general engagement, and satisfied himself with laying waste the Country, destroying the mills, and harassing the prince by continual skirmishes, well knowing that the latter would be unable to keep his army long on foot for want of provisions.
The event turned out as he had anticipated. The strong garrisons which he had placed in all the neighbouring towns prevented the friends of the Gueux from joining their standard; supplies were cut off from their army on all sides; and of 300,000 ducats which the reformed communions of the Netherlands (where they were still held in secret), and of the refugees in other Countries, had promised for the payment of the German troops, but 12,000 were forthcoming. As the winter approached, therefore, the prince marched to Cambray, with the intention of giving aid to the Prince of Condé and the Huguenots, in France; but being prevented from effecting his purpose by the mutinous disposition of his troops, who refused to serve except against the Duke of Alva, he was obliged to retire through Champagne and Lorraine to Strasburg.
Here he dismissed his forces, except a few hundred cavalry, with which he joined the Duke of Deuxponts, who was then raising troops for the service of the Prince de Condé 1.
Alva, puffed up with pride and arrogance at the 1569 entire destruction, as he imagined, of his enemies, caused, on his return to Antwerp, a brazen statue to be cast of the cannon taken at the battle of Jemmingen, and set up in the market-place, with an inscription on the base, signifying that he had defeated the rebels, restored security to religion, and peace to the Netherlands. The figure, an exact resemblance of himself, was in full armour, except the head, which was bare; under the feet lay the effigy of a man with two heads, which some thought was meant to represent the Counts of Egmond and Hoorn, others the nobles and people of the Netherlands. As the Duke was one day contemplating the work, Charles de la Croye, Duke of Aarschot, one of those persons who assume a license to say what they please, observed to him, that "the heads grinned so horribly, it was to be feared they would take a signal vengeance if ever they should rise again." The people caught up the idle jest, and cherished it as a prophecy 2.
Alva had now full leisure to pursue those schemes of arbitrary government which the attempts of the Prince of Orange and his brother had in some degree interrupted. He built strong citadels, and quartered Spanish garrisons in most of the principal towns; some, however, bought exemptions with large sums of money, Amsterdam paying 200,000 guilders for this purpose* 3.
- Campana, lib. ii., p. 59—61. Bor, boek iv., bl. 256. Meteren, boek iii., fol. 63. Thuanus, lib. xiiii., cap. 19.
- Bor, boek iv., bl. 258.
- Idem, boek v., bl. 260,
1569 Such cities as had refused to acknowledge the new bishops, were now obliged to receive them with testimonies of the highest honour and respect; the decrees of the Council of Trent were universally enforced, and commissioners were despatched from the council of blood, to search out all those who had maintained any correspondence with the Prince of Orange, or borne any share in the preceding disturbances. The council likewise sent commands to the magistrates of the principal towns, to deliver up all such charters as empowered them to administer criminal jurisdiction, Once more Holland opposed to Alva's career of tyranny a barrier which, though slight, yet gave token of that hidden strength, the existence of which their oppressors little suspected, and of which they themselves were perhaps scarcely conscious.
The great council of Leyden, on receipt of the order, came to an unanimous resolution, in no case to surrender their charters of privileges, but to defend them to the utmost of their power. In consequence of this decision, the sheriffs, although they were unable to prevent the arrest of persons accused, since that office belonged to the schout (an officer appointed by the Count or his representative), refused, by virtue of the charter of William VI., which invested them with both the high and low jurisdiction, either to assist the commissioner of the council, or to permit him to proceed in the trials without them; neither would they suffer those who had been condemned, to incur a forfeiture of more than ten pounds Flemish, according to their charter. It would have cost the Duke of Alva but little to have summoned every member of the government before the council of blood as abettors of heretics, and punished their boldness with death.
He did not, however; and there is little doubt that the firmness and courage of the magistrates of Leyden on 1569 this occasion, saved the lives of many of their innocent fellow citizens. In the rest of the Netherlands the commissioners carried on their work with remorseless violence; in one year, more than eight thousand persons were hanged, burnt, or beheaded; the executions, banishments, and confiscations, appeared endless. Not all the severe decrees against the fugitives, nor the dread of poverty and contempt in a foreign land, could stop the daily desertion of the Country by the inhabitants. Above one hundred thousand heads of families quitted the Netherlands within a short space of time; the greater portion of whom took refuge in England, and settled about the towns of Norwich, Sandwich, Maidstone, and Hampton, where, protected, and permitted the free exercise of their religion by the wise policy of the queen, they established factories, and instructed the natives in the art of making baize, serge, and other articles of woollen manufacture 1,2.
The Duke of Alva, for his eminent services in support of the Gatholic church, and the extinction of heresy, was this year presented by the Pope with the consecrated hat and sword; and, about the same time, Pius V. fulminated the sentence of excommunication against the Queen of England; a coincidence which ultimately proved favourable to the Netherlander since, by making the cause of Alva appear identified with that of the holy see, the feelings of resentment 1569 which this act excited in the breast of Elizabeth, were extended in a great measure to him also; and she soon found an opportunity of exhibiting them in a manner peculiarly vexatious.
- Bor, boek v., bl. 260—267. Brandt, Hist, der Ref., boek x., h\. 408, et seq. Meteren, boek iii,, fol. 64.
- We are told by the Duc de Sully, that at the time of his visit to England (1603), two-thirds of the inhabitants of Canterbury were Netherland refugees ; a circumstance which, he says, accounted for the Superior civilization and politeness he remarked in that city. Tom. iv., lib. xiv./p. 217.
It happened that five Spanish vessels, laden with specie for the Netherlands, being pursued by some French privateers belonging to the Prince of Condé, were forced to take refuge in the port of Southampton, when the Spanish ambassador, Gerard d'Esprez obtained permission of the queen, either to send them to Flanders under an English convoy, or to provide them with arms and ammunition in England, sufficient for their defence. But while he awaited further instructions from the Duke of Alva, Elizabeth, having received information that the money belonged to some Genoese merchants, by whom it had been supplied to the King of Spain, seized the whole of it, amounting to 600,000 crowns, as a loan, declaring that she would arrange with them only as to the payment of the interest and principal.
As a means of compelling her to restore it, Alva, without the advice of either of his councils, immediately arrested all the English merchants in the Netherlands, placed guards of soldiers round their houses, and seized all their ships, which he sold for his own profit. The queen retaliated by causing an embargo to be laid on the Netherlanders and their vessels in her ports, and transferred the staple of English wares to Hamburg; whereupon the Duke forbad all traffic or communication with England, and prohibited the manufactures of that Country throughout the Netherlands. Thus the trade between the two nations was entirely stopped until the year 1573, when matters were brought to an arrangement 1.
- Bor, boek v., bl. 272, 273, 279. Camden's Annalsof the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, book i., p. 121, edit. 1675.
As Alva depended wholly upon the supply from 1569 Spain for the payment of his troops, (the nine years petition granted by the states having now terminated,) he found himself in a situation of no small difficulty. Although he had trampled under foot all the other liberties and privileges of the Netherlander, he was not, even yet, bold enough to attempt an arbitrary levy of taxes without consent of the states; which, consequently, the present emergency obliged him to summon.
On their assembling at Brussels, he represented to them the expenses which the king had incurred in restoring to the Netherlands the blessing of peace, and extirpating the plague of heresy; and proposed that, in order to provide for the payment of the troops, and lay up a fund for future occasions, and at the same time to avoid the discontents arising from the inequality in the usual mode of levying the petitions, a tax of a hundredth should be imposed upon the value of every species of property, real and personal, except household utensils, tapestry, and wearing apparel; a twentietssh upon the net produce of all sales of real property; and a tenth upon the sale of every article, except the first sale of the produce of land, and of wares belonging to foreign merchants; the duty, in all cases, to be paid by the seller.
He desired that the states of all the provinces would conform readily and willingly to this proposition, observing that, " the king's meaning and intention was, to stop the mouths of all such as were inclined to offer any opposition 1." The matter being referred to the states of the several provinces, they consented, with little difficulty, to the levy of the hundredth, which, though always an unpopular, was by no means an unprecedented tax, in times of necessity.
- Bor, boek v., bl. 281,
But with respect to the tenth 1569 they declared that it would occasion the utter ruin of all commerce, trade, and manufactures in the Netherlands; since the high price at which the merchants, after the payment of this tax, would be forced to sell, in order to remunerate themselves, and the low one at which they could then afford to buy, would both stop the home consumption and deter the foreign trader, who had hitherto been attracted only by the certainty and quickness of sale, from coming thither with their wares. They urged, likewise, that in a Country where trade and circulation were so constant and rapid as in the Netherlands, the same article often changed hands six or eight times before it came to the consumer, so that a tenth of the value being paid on every transfer, it might be easily imagined to what an exorbitant height the price would ultimately be raised; and the same would also occur with respect to the raw materials brought to be manufactured in the Netherlands 1.
Deaf alike to their remonstrances and to their offers of substituting enormous petitions in lieu of this obnoxious impost, Alva informed the states, through the medium of the Stadtholder s, that they must either give their simple and unconditional consent, or he must take measures to carry the king's intention into execution 2. This, as they well knew, meant that he would, under pretext of placing garrisons, let loose 1569 upon them an unpaid and licentious soldiery.
- Hooft, boek v., bl. 190—194. Bor, bock v., bl. 281—280.
- It may be pleaded in excuse for Alva, that from, his utter ignorance as to the mode of governing a commercial nation, be was not aware of the mischievous effects of his own scheme. He had been accustomed to see this tax levied in Spain, where it had existed for nearly a century, and where, in a Country wholly agricultural, the evils consequent on it were comparatively slight; since goods for the most part passed with little intervening exchange from the producer to the consumer. So little did he understand the subject upon which he ventured to legislate, boldly, that he imagined it to be one of the greatest recommendations of the tax, that it would spare the nobles and gentry, and fell principally on the merchants and traders. Prescott's History of Ferdinand and Isabella, vol. iii., p. 524. Meteren, boek iv., fol. 69.
In consequence of this menace, therefore, the states of Holland, as the nobles and Dordrecht had already consented, yielded the point, but on condition only that the consent of the states of the remaining provinces were unanimous. At length, all the provinces agreed to the proposed tax except Utrecht, which firmly refused, offering instead a petition of 100,000 guilders.
The Duke, enraged beyond measure, especially with the clergy, (who formed the first member of the states of that province,) immediately quartered 2000 Spanish soldiers in the city, and encouraged them to exercise every species of insolence and outrage. The Utrechters, however, bore their injuries without complaint; and Alva finding them immoveable, and that Holland had declared her consent invalid in consequence of the opposition of Utrecht, began to despair of being able as yet to levy the tenth. He therefore offered to accept, in lieu of it, a second payment of a hundredth, with the sum of 2,000,000 guilders a year for six years: but as the states suspected, not without cause, that the provision which he was so anxious to. lay up would one day be employed in strengthening their bonds of servitude, and that the king having become wholly independent of them, would be able to follow out his schemes of arbitrary government without constraint, although they granted the sum, they limited its payment to the term of two years 1.
The attempt to impose a tax so ruinous to the Country, and the cessation of the trade with England added to the sufferings they had already endured from the tyranny of Alva, exasperated the hatred of the Netherlander against him to an uncontrollable degree, 1569 and prepared them to second any attempt which might be made for their deliverance from a yoke now become insupportable.
- Bor, bL 280—288,810.
The Prince of Orange had, after the death of the Duke de Deuxponts in France, returned to his estates in Germany, where he remained watching the opportunity of a favourable turn in affairs. It was of the greatest importance that he should be informed of the present state of men's minds, and a citizen of Leyden, a name glorious in the annalsof her Country, was destined to make this first movement towards her redemption. Paul Buys, pensionary of that city, one of the deputies from Holland to the states-general at Brussels, remaining behind his companions on their return, under pretence of business at Antwerp, travelled night and day to Nassau-Dillenburg, where he had an interview with the Prince of Orange, laid open to him the whole state of the provinces, made arrangements for future correspondence, and arrived in Holland unsuspected within two or three days of the rest 1.
Thus encouraged, the prince began busily to make preparations for another enterprise. He had been advised by the renowned Admiral de Coligny to change entirely his mode of operations, and to direct hostilities against the enemy chiefly by sea 2. But the good effects of this wise and enlightened counsel, which eventually proved the salvation of Holland, were not at first perceived. Instead of fitting out a regular fleet, which perhaps he had scarcely the means of doing; William commissioned a number of privateers under the command of Adrian van Bergen, lord of Dolhain, which seized and plundered all the vessels they fell in with, whether friendly or neutral, and by this means alienated from the party of the Gueux not only foreign nations, but even the Netherlander themselves, whose trade was impeded by their piracies. The people gave them the appellation of Water-Gueux 3.
- Bor, boek v., bl. 289.
- Du Maurier, p. 43.
- Bor, boek v., bl. 289.
Orange, meanwhile, notwithstanding that the Country was filled with the Duke of Alva's spies 1, kept up a continual correspondence with his agents in the different towns, and appointed Theodore Sonnoy, 1570 John Basius, and others, his commissioners, to receive weekly and monthly contributions, as well from the exiles, as from the Reformers still remaining in the Netherlands. Several ministers of the reformed churches also, relying on the protection of men as brave and devoted as themselves, returned to Holland, and concealed by their friends at the risk of their own lives, persuaded their flocks to come forward with energy and liberality in support of the "honour of God, and the freedom of Christianity." They generally found the poorer and middle classes willing to contribute largely in proportion to their means, while the wealthier either gave nothing, or a small sum, just sufficient to redeem themselves from the obloquy of having withheld their assistance 2.
The exiles, in order to re-awaken the sympathy of the German princes, presented to the emperor in a dietss at Spires, a petition of grievances, entreating him to use his mediation with the king in their favour. They complained that "the Spaniards desired the entire extirpation of all who would not submit to the papal power; that the Duke of Alva had entirely deprived the Netherlander of their ancient laws, rights, and privileges; that by his tyranny and cruelty, the best 1570 and most pious men were driven from their Country} the holiest things desecrated; the bonds of marriage broken asunder; and all ties of affection and friendship dissolved."
- These persons receiving from the Duke daily wages for their nefarious trade, were called by the populace his * seven-penny men."
- Hooft, boek v., bl. 199. Bor, boek v., bl. 312,
The ambassadors sent by Alva to the dietss, maintained, on the other hand, that the King of Spain had a right to punish his rebellious subjects as he thought fit, without any interference on the part of the emperor. As the latter were supported by most of the Catholic princes, and a marriage was then negotiating between Philip and the daughter of Maximilian, the petition of the exiles remained unheeded. It is not improbable, however, that it had the effect of inducing Alva to proclaim a general amnesty, which he had received from Spain eight months previously, and until now kept secret. A solemn and imposing ceremony was held at Antwerp on the occasion; but the exceptions were so numerous, that instead of restoring confidence, it rather tended to increase the number of fugitives 1.
Heretical preachers and teachers, and such as had harboured or associated with them; image breakers, and those who had given them any encouragement, whether through fear or connivance; all who had signed the compromise of the nobles; who had taken any part in the late attempts of the Prince of Orange and his brother, or assisted them with money; and the magistrates and public officers who had been negligent in preventing the seditions, were excluded from the benefits of the pardon 2. It would seem difficult, indeed, to discover that any were eligible, were it not that the inquisition in Spain had pronounced the whole of the king's subjects in the Netherlands, except some who were expressly named, deserving of death as rebels and heretics 3.
- Meteren, boek iii., fol. 66.
- Hooft, boek v., bl. 201, 202. Bor, boek v., bl. 321.
- Bor, boek v., bl. 226.
A very few of the 1570 lower rank of people only returned to their Country, to whom the faith of the amnesty was inviolably kept; and the term of one month, to which it had at first been limited, was extended to three. Some prisoners also were released in honour of Anne of Austria, daughter of the emperor, who passed through the Netherlands on her way to Spain, to complete her marriage with King Philip, her maternal uncle 1.
Hardly had this slight tendency to mercy discovered itself towards the Netherlanders, when they were visited by a new and unexpected calamity. It seemed, indeed, as if it were the design of the Almighty to try to the utmost the patience of this enduring people, and to show from how low a depth he could raise up a mighty nation, that none who honestly struggle for their rights might fear to put their trust in Him.
A strong north-west wind occurring during the high tides, drove the sea with such violence against the dikes, that several of them were broken down; the waters rushed in on every side, and rolling forward with resistless fury, swept away houses, trees, men, and cattle in one universal ruin; in Holland, entire villages, and among them Catwyk-on-the-Sea, were destroyed; and the number of souls who perished in Friesland alone, was estimated at 20,000. The loss of life was less extensive in the other provinces, but the damage done to property was incalculable. The Spaniards imputed the flood, which occurred on All Saints' day, to the vengeance of God upon the heresy of the land; the Netherlander looked upon it as an omen portending some violent commotions 2.
- Hooft, boek vi., bl. 204.
- Hooft, boek vi., bl. 206.
The stormy season prevented the execution of the designs which the Prince of Orange had formed of seizing Enkhuyzen, Briel, and some other places; nevertheless, the events of the year were not wholly unpropitious to him. He had substituted in the place of Dolhain, as his admiral, William van der Mark, lord of Lumey, and placed his little navy on a more regular footing. They had taken some valuable prizes, principally Spanish vessels, and the rich booty they obtained, while it contributed to the support of the war, drew numbers to their flag.
1571 The fleet having no place of rendezvous in the Netherlands, the prince besought the Kings of Denmark and Sweden to grant permission for his ships to retire into their ports. Both rejected his demand; the former with some manifestations of hostility towards the Gueux. The Count of East Friesland also, who had at first favoured their party, was rendered, by the excessive dread he entertained of Alva, a doubtful and unsafe ally; and England now became their only haven of shelter. To deprive them of this, Alva peremptorily demanded of the queen that she should cease to afford encouragement to the pirates and rebels from the King of Spain's dominions. His remonstrance, which bore somewhat the appearance of a menace, induced Elizabeth, who feared to draw on herself the enmity of 1572 Philip, to issue an order commanding the Gueux to quit the ports, and strictly forbidding any one to harbour, or supply them with food or other necessaries 1.
Thus driven from their last refuge, and left without a single spot of earth in Europe whereon to set their foot, the Gueux, under the command of the admiral, William van der Mark, (one of those who had sworn to let their hair and beard grow till the death of Egmond was avenged,) set sail in their vessels, twenty-four in number for the Texel, purposing to attack the Duke's ships of war which were then lying there.
- Bor, boek v., bl., 320—040, Meteren, boek iv., fol 71.
On their way they captured two large Spanish vessels, and being driven by stress of weather into the Meuse, presented themselves suddenly before BrieL The town being destitute of a garrison, and the poorer people favourably inclined to the Gueux, the more wealthy inhabitants fled precipitately, and on the first of April 1572, Van der Mark took possession in the name of the Prince of Orange as Stadtholder , with little opposition. The lives and property of the citizens remained untouched: but the Gueux wreaking a-cruel vengeance on the priests and monks, hanged no less than thirteen of them; they likewise stripped the churches, and broke all the images 1.
In so extraordinary and unexpected a manner did the Gueux first gain a footing in their native Country, an event pregnant with consequences of such vast importance, and which was to be imputed solely to the stubborn and vindictive folly of Alva himself. He had, as it has been observed, quartered a band of Spanish soldiers on the inhabitants of Utrecht, in revenge of their refusal to consent to the levy of the tenth.
Finding this of no effect, he summoned the states before the council of blood, which pronounced them guilty of high treason, and their privileges forfeited. The inhabitants appealed to the king in Spain, both against the sentence and the infliction of the Spanish soldiers; and Alva, in consequence, received commands from Philip to use clemency and forbearance towards them 2. Their boldness in appealing to the king, however, provoked Alva to such a degree, that in order to vex and oppress them to the utmost of his power, he withdrew the Spanish garrisons from Haarlem, Leyden, Delft, and the Briel, and quartered the whole of them in Utrecht, thus leaving those towns open to the attack of the enemy 3.
- Hooft, boek yi., bl. 216. Meteren, boek iv., fol. 72.
- Hooft, boek vi., bl. 203. Bor, boek v., bl. 842.
- Bor, 848.
The intelligence of the loss of Briel arrived at a juncture when Alva was sufficiently embarrassed by other matters. At the termination of the period for which the 2,000,000 guilders bad been granted, he again insisted on the levy of the tenth, though with some slight modifications; and condemned the citizens of Amsterdam, who hesitated to publish his decree, to pay a fine of 25,000 guilders.
To the vehement remonstrances of the states of Holland on the subject, he answered, that they had already given their consent, and that the decree had been published in the other provinces. It was in vain that Viglius, president of the council of finance, and others well acquainted with the disposition of the Netherlanders, endeavoured to dissuade him from his purpose; in vain that warning was given him of the storm he was raising by the acts of the council of Holland, which issued orders for a general fast, commanding the people to " repent, and pray to God to soften the Duke's hard and stubborn heart, that he might listen to the voice of reason and justice;" and by the preaching of the Franciscan monks themselves, who openly railed at him from the pulpit as a tyrant and violator of the people's rights.
He declared that he was resolved to enforce the tax, though it should occasion the entire loss of the provinces or cost him his life; that those councillors who supported the people in their refusal ought to be treated as rebels; that he had determined to try all the contumacious before the council of blood, and have them beheaded; and that the states of all the provinces, particularly Flanders, should deem themselves happy that he was willing to accept this tax in lieu of placing them in the same situation as the Count of Egmond or the Prince of Orange 1.
- Meteren, boek iv., fol. 71. Brandt's Hist, der Ref., boek x., bl. 517.
He accordingly proceeded to demand the payment of the tenth, first In Brussels, where he imagined that his presence, and that of an immense number of armed troops, would awe the people into submission, and thus serve as a precedent for the rest. But the citizens in this emergency offered an example of that passive resistance which, when prudently adopted and steadily persevered in, renders a people invincible.
They unanimously, ceased their traffic; every shop was shut, the brewers refused to brew, the bakers would not bake, and even the innkeepers closed their houses, so that the soldiers themselves could not get supplied with provisions. The Duke determined to hang seventy of the principal shopkeepers before their own doors on the next night, as an example to the rest; and the executioner, in obedience to his commands, had already prepared ladders and ropes for the purpose, when, happily, on the very day appointed, the tidings arrived of the capture of Briel, and saved Alva from the commission of this additional atrocity 1.
Seeking too late to remedy his error, the Duke suspended the collection of the tenth at Brussels, and ordered the Count of Bossu to withdraw the Spanish troops from Utrecht, and proceed with all haste to Briel, where the Gueux, in expectation of an attack, fortified themselves as well as the time permitted.
- Hooft, boek vi., bl. 216. Bor, boek vi., bl. 361. Meteren. boek ir., fol. 70.
1572 They allowed the Spaniards to land unmolested; but scarcely were they set on shore, when one Rok Meussen opened the sluice of the Nieuland dyke and laid the Country under water. The Spaniards, in consequence, were obliged to flie along the top of the dyke, where they were completely exposed to the fire of the artillery from the town; and at the same time, William de Treslong sunk, burnt, or captured, all the vessels lying in the Meuse, which had brought them to BrieL
Finding their means of retreat cut off and that the water continued to rise higher and higher around then, the troops, seized with terror, commenced a hasty and disorderly flight; some attempting to swim, were drowned, and the rest took their route, through streams and marshes, over New Beyerland to Dordrecht, where, when they arrived, wet, weary, and jaded, they ware denied admittance.
Thence they proceeded to Rotterdam, the gates of which were shut against them. After much entreaty, however, the Count of Bossu obtained permission of the government for the soldiers to pass through the town to the neighbouring villages, fifty at a time, with their muskets unloaded. The first detachment, on entering, slew the watch at the gates, when the whole body followed, without having discharged their muskets, as agreed on. They killed all whom they found in arms, about four hundred in number, and taking possession of the town, treated the inhabitants in the same manner as if they had conquered it by assault. The consequences of this breach of faith were, as it will appear, most inimical to the Spanish commander 1.
After the loss of Briel, the key to the entrance of the Meuse, the primary object of Alva's care was the security of the Scheldt by the possession of Flushing, where he had already begun to build a citadel, under the superintendence of one Pacieco. He now gave him orders for its immediate completion, and sent thither 1500 troops under the command of Osorio di Angelo.
- Bor, boek vi., bl. 367 et seq.
On the arrival of the Spaniards, the people ran to arms, and having forced them to retire, destroyed the portion of the citadel already built, fortified the town, and despatched messengers to solicit succours from William van der Mark, at Briel, from England, from the Prince of Orange, and from Count Louis of Nassau, then in France. Van der Mark sent to their assistance three ships of war, with about two hundred men, commanded by William de Treslong, and a band of exiles arrived nearly at the same time from England. The engineer, Pacieco, ignorant of what had occurred, came a few days after to Flushing, expecting to find the Spanish soldiers in garrison there. He was seized by order of Treslong, and immediately hanged, in revenge for the death of Treslong's brother, who was one of the eighteen nobles executed by Alva on the 1st of June, 1568 1,2.
Within a short time of this event, the fishers and burghers of the small town of Campveere forced their government to declare for the Prince of Orange 3.
The possession of Flushing was of the last importance to the Gueux, since it commanded the passage of the ships coming from Spain and Portugal to Antwerp, Not long after its capture, a fleet of forty sail appeared in the Scheldt, having on board, together with 2500 fresh troops, the Duke of Medina-Celi, sent by the King of Spain to supersede Alva in the government of the Netherlands, from which he had desired to. be relieved.
- Bor, boek vi., bl. 370.
- This Pacieco is usually confounded with a celebrated engineer of that name, sent to the Netherlands by the Duke of Savoy in the service of Alva, whom, however, we find signalising himself in the defence of Tergoes, in the latter part of this year. Campana, Guer. di Piand., lib. iii., p. 95.
- Met., boek iv., fol. 74.
Several of these were merchant ships laden with valuable wares, the crews of which, ignorant of the revolt of Flushing, brought them close to the town, when they were received with a heavy discharge, of artillery; and at the same time were attacked by a number of small vessels under the command of one Ewald Peterson, commonly called Captain Worst, a brave and able seaman.
Twenty-four were captured, containing a booty of 200,000 crowns in money, besides merchandize to the value of 500,000 more, which were applied to the public service. The Gueux drowned all their prisoners, in order to force the Duke of Alva to a more humane mode of warfare, since, in the campaign against the Prince of Orange, he had caused ail who were taken in battle to be immediately hanged as traitors and rebels. Medina-Celi, with the men-of-war and troops escaped to Sluys in safety.
On his arrival at Brussels, he found the state of affairs so desperate, that, as his own powers from the king were very limited, he declined assuming any share in the government, and finally obtained his dismissal 1.
The Duke of Alva, to all appearance, was but little disquietssed at the progress of the Gueux, judging that, at the head of his veteran troops, he could crush their feeble force at a single blow 2. But a coincidence not less remarkable than that which had preserved the lives of the citizens of Brussels, proved the salvation of Holland.
- Meteren, boek ir., fol. 74. Bor, boek vi.. bl. 893.
- The quietss and patient temper of the people of Holland and Zealand had inspired Alva with so sovereign a contempt for them, that he was accustomed to say he would smother them in their own butter.
This was the capture of Mons, in Hainaut, by Louis of Nassau, Louis had, after his brother's 1572 departure from France, remained at Rochelle, then the stronghold of the Huguenots, where he pursued his negotiations with such zeal and activity, that he obtained promises of assistance from the principal nobles of that party, and even succeeded in making an alliance with the government itself.
It was at this time the policy of the French court to conciliate the minds, and lull the suspicions of the Huguenots, by every possible means, and nothing was more conducive to this effect than the pretence of reviving the ancient animosity between France and Spain, to which some disputes that had occurred between their respective ambassadors at the Council of Trent, and the treatment by Philip of his wife, Elizabeth, sister of the King of France, gave a colour of reality. With the same view the king appeared to listen with complacency to the counsels earnestly pressed "upon him by Coligny, and the heads of the Huguenot party, to find employment at once for the King of Spain, and the restless spirits in his own dominions, by sending an army to the assistance of the revolted provinces in the Netherlands.
Accordingly Louis of Nassau was encouraged to repair secretly to the court, where he was received with every mark of esteem by Charles, who granted him permission to make an unlimited levy of troops in France, and engaged to furnish his brother, the Prince of Orange, with a subsidy of 200,000 crowns 1. Louis, having speedily raised 500 French light horse and 1000 musketeers, advanced by forced marches into Hainaut, and presenting himself unexpectedly before Mons, made himself master of the town by stratagem the May next day. He was followed by the remainder of his 1573 troops, consisting of 2000 infantry, together with an additional body of 1200 horse and 1300 foot, under the command of the Sieur de Montmorency.
- Thuanus, lib. u, cap. 14.
Alva could scarcely believe the intelligence of the capture of Mons, especially as he had heard from his spies in France, that Louis had been seen a few days before in Paris playing at tennis. As it was in itself one of the strongest places in that part of the Netherlands, and afforded a key to the entrance of the French, he resolved, leaving all other cares aside, to employ his whole force in its recovery; and to this effect summoned to his camp the troops which had been assembled at Bergen op Zoom for the reduction of Zealand.
The Gueux thus gained time to strengthen themselves in that quarter. Jeronimo Tseraarts, master of the horse to the Prince of Orange, being appointed by Louis of Nassau governor of Walcheren, repaired to Flushing with a considerable number of French and Netherland soldiers, to which were added 200 English volunteers, under Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Thomas Morgan 1.
Meanwhile, Holland was not behindhand in the work of liberation. The Duke of Alva had commanded some vessels to be prepared at Enkhuyzen (a town of North Holland commanding the entrance of the Zuyderzee), for the attack of the Count van der Mark at Briel; and under this pretext, attempted to introduce a body of Spanish troops into the town. The burghers, however, kept the gates firmly closed; forced the captain, who, with a few soldiers, was already in the town, to evacuate it; and committed Boshuyzen, the admiral sent thither by the Duke to conduct the preparations, a prisoner to the guildhall. They likewise took prisoners the burgomasters, who had endeavoured to effect the admittance of the foreign soldiers; and, hoisting the Orange 1572 standard on the walls, declared themselves under the government of the prince, as Stadtholder of the King of Spain.
- Meteren, boek iv., fol. 74.
They then proceeded to levy 350 troops from among the citizens, and sent to request succours from William van der Mark and the Prince of Orange. The former despatched some privateering vessels, and a few veteran soldiers, to their assistance; and Theodore Sonnoy, whom the prince had appointed deputy Stadtholder of North Holland, repaired to Enkhuyzen from Bremen with all speed, at the first report of this favourable turn in affairs.
The remainder of the towns of North Holland were easily induced to follow the example set by Enkhuyzen; in Medemblik and Hoorn the burghers, in defiance of the opposition of their governments, acknowledged Sonnoy at his first summons 1. Oudewater first raised the standard of revolt in South Holland; Gouda next, after a show of resistance to the troops sent by William van der Mark, took the oath of allegiance to the prince; Delft shut its gates against the Spanish garrison and levied troops for its own defence; the inhabitants of Leyden and Dordrecht unanimously espoused the same side; and within three months from the capture of Briel, not a single town in Holland, except Amsterdam, remained in obedience to the king's governor; the Spanish soldiers having been forced to evacuate Rotterdam, from the difficulty of obtaining supplies.
In Friesland, some of the most powerful and illustrious of the nobility were numbered among the party of the Gueux, who were admitted without difficulty into Sneek, Bolsward, Franiker, and Dokkum; they likewise besieged Staveren and Leeuwarden, and reduced the latter to great straits for want of provisions 2.
- Velius Hoorn, boek iii7 blf 179? et seq.
- Hooft, boek Yi., bl. 243. Bor, boek vi., W. 37»—383.
Even the bold spirit of Alva quailed before the events that were now crowding fast around him. He sent to the Lord of Bossu, as Stadtholder of Holland, commanding him to assemble the states at the Hague, and to signify to them the entire abolition of the tenth and twentietssh, and his consent to the substitution of the annual payment of 2,000,000 of guilders. It was too late. The same measure of conciliation which three months before might have gone far to appease the Netherlands, was now worse than useless.
The states did indeed assemble, but in a different place, and for far other purposes than those designed by Alva. Deputies from the nobles, and from the towns of Dordrecht, Haarlem, Leyden, Gouda, Gorcum, Oudewater, Alkmaar, Hoorn, Enkhuyaen, Medemblick, Edam and Monnikendam, met together at Dordrecht, on the summons of Philip de Marnix, Lord de St. Aldegonde, as deputy from the Prince of Orange; and from the resolutions they adopted, it appears evident that even at this early period they had not the slightest intention of ever again returning under the dominion of Spain.
They acknowledged the Prince of Orange as Stadtholder of Holland, Zealand, and Friesland, appointed by the King of Spain, Count of Holland, and not removed by any act conformable to the laws of the land; they voted a sum of 200,000 guilders for the expenses of the war, and 500,000 more to defray the cost of the prince's intended expedition for the relief of Mons; and passed a resolution that attested copies should be delivered to the towns of all the charters and muniments relating to the privileges of the land. They bound themselves to make no compromise with the king, or any one bearing his commission, unless by the advice and consent of the Prince of Orange; to assist him faithfully to the utmost of their power, and never to abandon him or the cause which they had mutually undertaken to support.
St. Aldegonde entered into a like engagement on the part of the prince, declaring, at the same time, his intention to permit to all persons the free exercise of their religion. At the same assembly the states confirmed the appointment of William van der Mark, a native of Liege, as captain-general ; a man of irregular habits and brutal ferocity, but of inestimable value at the present juncture, from his activity, promptness, and decision, qualities in which the prince himself, particularly in the early part of his career, seems to have been lamentably deficient.
About the same time the tenth was remitted in Brabant, Flanders, Hainaut, and Artois, in consequence of a petition which the states of those provinces had transmitted to the king 1.
The Duke had sent forward his son Don Frederic di Toledo to lay siege to Mons, with 4000 infantry and 400 cavalry, he himself remaining behind to complete his preparations. Frederic, in obedience to the orders of his father, formed a strong encampment at the monastery of Bethlem, within a quarter of a mile of the town, in order to prevent the besieged from obtaining supplies of corn and forage. Louis of Nassau beginning to fear a scarcity, as the store of provisions within the walls was but slender, despatched the Sieur de Genlis to France for additional succours. He returned with 3200 infantry and 1000 cavalry, under the command of himself and the Sieur de Jumelles; but, instead of marching to Cambray, as Louis desired, to effect a junction with the German army that the prince was about to bring into the Netherlands, His French commander persisted in attempting to enter Mons.
- Bor, boek vi., bl. 887—389.
He was met within a short distance from the town by Noircarmes, (or, as it is affirmed, purposely betrayed into his hands by some spies employed by the French court for the purpose 1,) attacked, and entirely defeated; 1200 of his troops were slain, and the greater portion of the remainder, including himself and the Sieur de Jumelles, made prisoners 2.
Leaving the Duke of Aarschot in command of Brussels, Alva marched to Mons with 10,500 cavalry, chiefly Germans, and eleven newly raised regiments of infantry, Germans and Walloons, in addition to his Spanish troops. He was accompanied by the Doke of Medina-Celi, who, though still in the Netherlands awaiting his dismissal, took no part in affairs.
Nearly at the same time the Prince of Orange marched from Germany for the purpose of relieving Mons, at the head of 7000 German horse and 14000 foot, with 3000 Netherlanders 3. On his route, he mastered Buremonde by assault; and Louvain, Nivelle, Mechlin, and Dendermonde opened their gates to him. The whole Country, indeed, manifested favourable dispositions; but fearful of weakening his army, by dividing it into a number of garrisons, instead of encouraging the towns in their revolt, he pressed forward to the relief of his brother in Mons. But Alva, following the same plan he had successfully adopted on a former occasion, entrenched himself so strongly before the walls, that Orange was unable either to force him to a battle or to throw succours into the town. While he was detained in this state of involuntary inactivity, the fearful news arrived of the massacre of St Bartholomew.
- Mém. de Sully, torn, i., lib. i., p. 88.
- Thuanus, lib. liv^ cap. 9.
- Bor, boek vi., bL 998.
By this event, besides the loss of nearly all his friends among the Huguenots, who had perished by the knife of the assassin, and the conviction it brought of the insincerity of the professions lately made by the court of France, the prince was precluded from the hope of supplies from thence, upon which he in great measure depended for the payment of his troops. Having, therefore, contrived to convey intelligence to Louis of his inability to afford him aid, and his wish that he should surrender on the best terms he could obtain, he retired to Mechlin, and thence beyond the Rhine, where he once more dismissed his useless band of mercenaries; not without danger to himself, however, since they were on the point of seizing his person as security for their pay, and were only diverted from their purpose by the Hollanders making themselves responsible for the amount.
The Duke of Alva, eager to secure Mons, was willing to grant the most favourable conditions, which Louis of Nassau, being confined to his bed by sickness, and finding that there were no hopes of relief from without, thought it advisable to accept. The town, accordingly, surrendered, having sustained no less than 14,534 cannon shots; the garrison were permitted to march out with all the honours of war, and their lives and property secured to the inhabitants; but all who were not Catholics were banished 1. From Mons, Alva marched to Mechlin, which the garrison, finding themselves too weak to resist him, secretly abandoned; and the town being given up to the unbridled fury of the soldiers, was sacked and pillaged without mercy; ecclesiastics as well as laymen, women and children, alike fell a prey to their cupidity or barbarity; the property of the Catholic clergy, which the Gueux themselves had spared, with the jewels and ornaments of the churches, were seized and carried away; and the amount of loss to the citizens was estimated at several millions of guilders.
- Meteren, boek iv., bl. 81—85. Campana, Guer. di Fiand,, lib. iii., p. 92,93.
The neighbouring cities of less wealth and importance were permitted to redeem themselves from pillage by the payment of large sums of money 1.
During this time, the affairs of the Gueux had somewhat retrograded in Zealand. After an unsuccessful attack on Middleburg, Tseraarts, governor of Flushing, laid siege to Goes, in South Beveland, accompanied by the French and English auxiliaries; they had planted their artillery before the walls, and already effected two breaches, when Alva, upon the surrender of Mons, sent Mondragon with 3000 men to its relief. Unable to reach it by water, on account of the number of vessels which the Gueux captain, Peterson Worst, kept in the channel, Mondragon was conducted by a guide across a ford near Woonsdrecht at ebb tide, marching two leagues through the water.
His advance, which they had deemed impossible, so astonished the besiegers, that they broke up their camp in disorder, and hastened on board their ships, scarcely giving themselves time to re-embark their artillery. Thus Goes and the remainder of South Beveland continued still under the dominion of Spain, as well as Arnemuyden and the fort of Rammeken 2 in Walcheren.
Middleburg, to which the Gueux had now laid siege a second time, was kept closely blockaded; and Zierikzee, with the island of Schouwen, acknowledged the Prince of Orange 2.
- Bor, boek vi., bl. 409, et aeq. Campana, boek iii., p. 97.
- Meteren, boek iv., fol. 87.
The prince, after disbanding his German army, went into Holland, accompanied by a few attendants only, where his presence was much required, as well to cheer the minds of the people, disappointed in the results they anticipated from his long-prepared and expensive enterprize, as to put a stop to the excesses committed by the undisciplined soldiers of William van der Mark, which had now arrived at such a height, as to cause loud complaints among the people, who declared, that they might almost as well live under the tyranny of the Spaniards.
Landing at Enkhuyzen, he proceeded thence to Haarlem, where the states were assembled, by whom he was welcomed with an excess of joy; he made several regulations for the better ordering of the troops, strictly forbidding any communication with the enemy, or the exportation of provisions, and confirmed the impositions laid on by the states for the support of the war. The council of finance, and the supreme court of Holland, having retired to Utrecht when the Spaniards evacuated Rotterdam, he, with the consent of the states, appointed new ones in their room. All the acts of the prince were done by the combined authority of himself and the states alone, without any reservation of the king's future approbation, or any provisional limitation until he should be better advised; so that Holland had now, though not in express terms, virtually emancipated itself from the government of Spain 1.
The Duke of Alva having retired to repose himself at Nimeguen, his son, Don Frederic, conducted a portion of the army to the siege of Zutphen. The garrison fled, and the burghers offered to surrender; but the town was, nevertheless, pillaged in the same manner as if it had been conquered by assault, and 600 of the inhabitants were drowned in the Yssel.
- Bor, boek vi., bl, 409, et aeq. Velius Hoorn, boek iii., bl. 200.
Terrified by the fate of Zutphen, and too weak to withstand the arms of Don Frederic without speedy aid, of which there appeared no hope, all the towns of Guelderland and Friesland once more submitted to Alva 1. Advancing from Zutphen to Amersfoort, Frederick sent forward the Lord of Bossu to the small town of Naarden, in Holland, with a summons to surrender.
The inhabitants replied, that, " by the help of God, they would keep their town, as they had hitherto done, to the service and profit of the King of Spain." They immediately despatched agents to purchase ammunition on the credit of the states of Holland, and wrote to Theodore Sonnoy for the loan of two barrels of powder, and to Berthold Entes, lieutenant of William van der Mark, then stationed at Veen, soliciting succours of troops without delay.
Obtaining nothing in return but fair words and promises, and having no more than three barrels of powder within the walls, they at last determined to throw themselves on the mercy of Don Frederic. Accordingly, Martin Lawrenceson, one of the burgomasters, and Gerard Peterson, a sheriff, were commissioned to repair to his camp, for the purpose of interceding for their fellow citizens. They were denied admittance, but ordered to retire to Bussem, about a mile and a half from Naarden, and wait there till he came.
On the road thither, Peterson, alarmed at the preparations he had observed at Amersfoort, left the sledge on which they travelled, saying, " Adieu, I shall not come this time to Naarden," and was seen no more. Lawrenceson, though overwhelmed with fear and chagrin at the behaviour of his comrade, determined to persevere in fulfilling his duty towards those who had sent him, and awaited the arrival of Don Frederic at Bussem.
- Meteren, boek ir«, fol. 88.
Here he was joined by Lambertus Hortensius, a catholic priest, (the historian of Utrecht,) and some others. Being unable to obtain an audience of Don Frederic himself, they were informed, that Julian de Romero was invested with full powers to treat for the surrender in his name. With him, therefore, the deputies agreed, that the town should open its gates to Don Frederic, on the express condition that the lives and properties of all the inhabitants should be preserved; that the citizens should take a new oath to the King of Spain; and that 100 Spaniards should be allowed to take out of the city as much goods as they could carry. This treaty, a verbal one only, was confirmed by the usual ceremony of joining hands, the same which the states and Prince of Orange had lately used in promising fidelity to each other, and which hitherto had always been deemed an ample security among so simple and faithful a people.
On the entrance of Somero, the burghers were summoned to come unarmed to the guildhall, for the purpose of taking the new oath to the king; nearly the whole of them quitted the ramparts and hastened thither, a few only -excepted, who, seized with a vague dread or suspicion, concealed themselves in the dome of the church; their wives, meanwhile, were busily employed in the duties of hospitality, preparing for the entertainment of the strangers. The town was soon filled with Spanish soldiers, a number of whom, headed by a priest, walked to and fro for some time before the guildhall; when at length the priest, turning suddenly towards the people, bid them prepare for death. At this signal the work of slaughter began; first firing their muskets among the defenceless multitude, the Spaniards proceeded to cut them in pieces with their swords, and in an instant laid 500 dead on the floor of the guildhall, which they set on fire.
They then ran through the streets, butchering all they met, and set fire to the houses in different places, to force those who had escaped or concealed themselves to come out, when they were immediately cut down, or thrust through with pikes; even the inmates of the hospitals for the aged, whose years numbered from eighty to a hundred, were with the exception of two, all massacred.
The life of Lambertus Hortensius himself, though a priest, was with difficulty saved by the entreaties of the Count of Bossu; but his son, the organist of the principal church, was murdered, and his heart torn out before his eyes. A smith named Hubert Williamson, snatching up a three-legged stool in one hand and a sword in the other, bravely defended the entrance of his house far some time against a troop of Spaniards, several of whom he killed. At length, wounded and overpowered by numbers, he sank down, letting fall his temporary shield, but had still sufficient strength left to grasp with his hard hands the blades of two swords which the Spaniards pointed at his breast They quickly drew them back, severing every one of his fingers, and plunged the weapons into his body. His daughter was at that moment on her knees by his side, imploring them to save his life; the only answer they gave her was to take up her father's yet quivering fingers and dash in her face. Those who had taken refuge in the dome of the church, though they might easily have defended themselves, the only entrance being through one narrow door, stupified by terror, were slaughtered without resistance. The cruelties practised on the women were yet more enormous. Many died of their tortures under the hands of the soldiers; some were thrown into wells and drowned; others were forced to quit their beds, and, with their infants of a few days old, to fly barefoot from the town.
One of the burgomasters, Henry Lambertson, was hanged and quartered before his own door. No more than sixty men were left alive, forty of whom were able to make their escape, and twenty redeemed themselves by payment of a heavy ransom. The town was so completely stripped, that there was not sufficient sustenance left for the few women and children who remained. With an impious and indecent barbarity, for which we should vainly seek a parallel in the annalsof savage nations, it was forbidden to bury the dead, and their corpses were left putrefying in the streets for the space of three weeks.
The acts committed at Naarden received the highest approbation from the Duke of Alva, who afterwards, as if in bitter irony, declared the citizens of that town, whose streets were now a desert, banished, and all their goods confiscated, as guilty of high treason; and forced the peasants of Gooiland by threats to destroy the walls and public buildings. It was part of his policy to infuse terror into the conquered; but on this occasion he had gone a step beyond^—he had roused despair in all its fury 1.
Hastily quitting the smoking ruins of Naarden, Dou Frederic led his troops to repose a few days at Amsterdam, designing to make Haarlem his next object of attack. The government of Amsterdam, who had all along shown themselves conspicuous in the persecution of the Reformers, and still remained devoted to the Spanish party, sent to inform the inhabitants of Haarlem of his intention, exhorting them to submit promptly, and pledging themselves that mercy would be shown by the conqueror.
- Bor, boek vi., bl. 416—419. Hooft, boek vil., bl. 278. Boxhorn, Theat. Urb. Holl. in Naarden, p. 343.
1572 The Haarlemmers beheld the extent and weakness of their fortifications, the numbers and discipline of the enemy's host, and the small reliance that was to be placed on the Prince of Orange, who had never yet succeeded in relieving a single town, and for a moment they wavered; the government even sent deputies secretly to make terms with Don Frederic. But a bold and animated harangue from Wybald van Ripperda, captain of the burgher guard, reminding them of the blood of their Countrymen shed at Naarden, and the fidelity they had sworn to the prince, aroused their nobler and more manly feelings; with an universal shout of enthusiasm the people replied, that they would devote their lives to the preservation of their town and the welfare of the good cause 1.
The Lord of St. Aldegonde was commissioned by the Prince of Orange to remove such members of the senate and great council as were supposed to be inclined to the Spanish interests, new ones chosen by the burghers being substituted in their place; and those who had opened the negotiation with the Spaniards were sent prisoners to Leyden; the images were removed from the churches, and the reformed service everywhere established 2.
On the 9th of December 1572, in a season of intense cold, Don Frederic marched towards Haarlem with thirty-six companies of Spanish infantry, sixteen of Germans, and twenty-two of Walloons, his cavalry amounting to no more than 1500 3. The number of troops within the city was about 1000, composed of English, Scotch, and Germans, to which was afterwards added a reinforcement of 550 Netherlanders. The commencement of operations was unpropitious to the defenders, Don Frederic making himself master of the important fort of Sparendan about a mile from Haarlem; and being, enabled, under cover of a thick fog accompanied by a temporary thaw, to throw up his entrenchments without molestation.
- Bor, boek vi., bl. 420.
- Meteren, boek ir., fol. 89.
- Campana, Guer. di, Fiand., lib, iiL, p. 100.
These were indeed but hasty and incomplete, since he imagined a single week would amply suffice for the execution of his task. It fell out far otherwise; for though fifteen pieces of heavy artillery which he brought to bear against a ravelyn near the gate called the Kruysgate, easily effected a breach, yet the Spaniards, on mounting to the assault, were so resolutely repelled by the troops, and burghers within, that they were forced to retire with the loss of 200 men and twenty of their best officers.
Encouraged by this first success, the Haarlemmers carried on their defence with redoubled energy and spirit. No sooner was a breach made, than it was again repaired with wood, sacks, earth, and such other materials as were at hand; the inhabitants spent the long winter nights in building an inner wall, higher and stronger than the old one; rich and poor, aged and children, men and women, all joined in the work; not an idle hand was to be seen in the city; among the rest, one Catherine van Hasselaar, a widow lady of rank and fortune, formed a regiment of 300 women, who, retaining the dress of their sex, distinguished themselves no less by their skill in the use of the spade and pickaxe, than the musket and sword; scarcely a day passed without a murderous sally on the part of the besieged, who on some occasions advanced to the enemy's trenches, and plundered and burned their tents. Meanwhile the citizens of Leyden constantly supplied them with provisions, artillery, and ammunition, conveyed in sledges across the frozen sea of Haarlem, and reinforcements of troops were sent by the same means from the prince and states at Delft.
At length the Spaniards, having gained the ravelyn near the Kruysgate, though not before the besieged had completed the erection of a strong half-moon behind it, prepared for a fresh assault.
Leaving the camp before daybreak on the last day of January 1573, they came unperceived close to the walls where the wearied and sleepy sentinels kept but negligent watch. The morning light discovered them in possession of the Kruysgate, and a considerable portion of the rampart on each side the ravelyn, to about fifty or sixty soldiers who were near. They quickly raised the alarm, and kept the enemy at bay with undaunted courage till the troops and burghers came to their aid; all hurried to the place of danger; some engaged with the assailants, while others filled a mine already dug under the ravelyn, with powder, and blew it into the air; a fierce contest ensued on the rampart, in which the Spaniards were once more worsted; 300 of their choicest troops fell, while the loss sustained by the defenders was no more than ten.
During this time, eighty sledges laden with stores were conveyed safely into the town on the opposite side. Unhappily the noble and patriotic courage of the Haarlemmers was stained by acts of cold-blooded and atrocious barbarity. The Spaniards having taken prisoner one Philip King, in an unsuccessful attempt to throw succours into the town, put him to death, and afterwards threw his head over the wall, with the inscription " This is the King who should have relieved Haarlem with 2000 men-" To revenge this outrage, the citizens massacred eleven Spanish prisoners, and having cut off the heads, and shaved the hair and beard after the fashion of beggars, packed them in a barrel, which they rolled towards the enemy's camp with these words inscribed on it: "This is the tenth for which the Duke of Alva has besieged Haarlem, and as we did not pay it before, we have sent the interest that he might not complain.
The besiegers likewise having hanged their prisoners within sight of the town, some by the neck, and some by one foot, their example was followed by their opponents, who erected a gallows on the walls, on which they executed not only the Spanish prisoners, but one or two of the citizens who favoured their party. Don Frederic finding the ill-success of his assaults, had recourse to the slower effect of mines; but several were sprung by means of the skilful Countermining of the besieged, and the damage caused by the rest was small and speedily repaired.
His confidence, therefore, began to give way to despair; the scarcity of provisions in his camp was extreme, and the intense cold had occasioned among his troops wide-spread sickness and desertion. He was inclined to have raised the siege; but the commands, and stinging taunts of his father, who declared, that " If sick and unable to go in person to the camp, he would send for his mother from Spain to fill the place of her son,' together with a powerful reinforcement of troops, determined him to persevere; and ere long, the breaking up of the frost, brought about a lamentable change in the prospects of Haarlem.
The Lord of Bossu having cut through the dike between the Y and the sea of Haarlem, opened by this means a passage into the latter for a large fleet of sixty vessels, which the Duke of Alva had equipped at Amsterdam. By the presence of this powerful armament, which the Holland ships were unable to withstand, the communication between Leyden and Haarlem was entirely cut off, and the only mode of conveying intelligence was by means of carrier pigeons, which, as they were frequently shot by the enemy, discovered to them, instead of the besieged, the plans formed for their relief.
These were invariably unsuccessful, and in a short time, money and provisions began to fail within the walls; the first was supplied in some degree by coining promissory specie of small value; and the inhabitants were put upon an allowance of a pound of bread a day to each man, and a malt cake for the women and children. But even this scanty supply soon ceased; rape and hempseed, the flesh of dogs, cats, and vermin, were greedily devoured; and when these were exhausted, a wretched substitute was found in the tanned hides of cows and oxen. Still they supported their woes with unshaken firmness; the besieging army which had encamped on the ice, sickened under the damp summer heats, and Haarlem was yet unconquered.
Orange making one more effort for its relief, despatched 500 waggons, laden with food and ammunition, under the convoy of the Lord of Batenburg, with all the troops that could be spared from the neighbouring garrisons, and a considerable number of volunteers, burghers of Delft, Leyden, and Rotterdam, amounting together to about 5000 men.
Batenburg was surprised by an ambush of the enemy's soldiers, himself slain, and his army cut in pieces. Then first the courage of the besieged fell; Don Frederic had received a reinforcement of fresh troops, and threatened them with another assault, which they were not now in a condition to repel; numbers had perished of hunger; the streets were crowded with sick and dying, and the feeble and wasted garrison were no longer able to do their duty. They first fonned the desperate resolution of sallying forth in a body with their women and children in the midst, and fighting their way through the enemy's lines; but this was prevented by the refusal of the German troops to join in the attempt.
Don Frederic, dreading that the effects of their despair might lead them to set fire to their houses, and bury themselves under the ruins, sent a herald to declare, that he would observe the utmost clemency towards such as remained in the town. They, therefore, after a siege of seven months, surrendered to the mercy of the conqueror, and were permitted to redeem themselves from pillage by the payment of 240,000 guilders. A general amnesty was granted by the Duke of Alva to all the citizens except fifty-seven; and the Spaniards, fearful of losing the promised ransom, forbore their usual work of massacre and plunder.
The executions were, however, sufficiently numerous to have satiated their cruelty. The first act of Roderigo di Toledo, brother of the general, was the beheading of the gallant Wybald van Ripperda, the promoter and sustainer of this memorable defence; Lancelot van Brederode next shared the same fate, together with all those who had shown themselves most active during the siege, and the reformed preachers. Of the English, Scotch and French soldiers, 300 were drowned, and 900 hanged or beheaded; the Germans only, as having been the first to advise the surrender, were spared 1. The conquerors purchased their victory with the loss of 12,000 men 2.
- Campana, a Catholic, and a partizan of the Duke of Alva, affirms, that 2000 persons were put to death in cold blood, within the space of eight days from the surrender.—Guer. di Fiand., lib. iv., p. 112.
- Bor, boek vi., bl. 421 et seq. Meteren, boek iv., fol. 88—02. Cam-pana,lib.iii. and iv*
1573 The surrender of Haarlem spread grief and dread throughout the whole of Holland. The prospect of affairs was, in truth, melancholy in the extreme. Nearly every resource for raising money was exhausted, while the public necessities were daily more great and pressing; the soldiers, in a lax state of discipline, did more mischief to their friends than to their enemies, and, as well as the seamen, were continually on the point of mutiny for want of pay; the Hollanders, undisturbed by invasion since the pacification with Guelderland in 1543, knew little of the art of defensive warfare, and their towns were badly fortified and worse provided. In addition to all these disadvantages they lost, about this time, one of their ablest commanders in William van der Mark, lord of Lumey, whose cruelties, committed chiefly on the Catholic priests, had become so frequent and atrocious, as to render him generally abhorred, while his insolence and contumacy had risen to such a pitch as to defy the authority of the states, and even of the prince himself. He was deprived of his offices and thrown into prison, but ultimately permitted to retire with his property from Holland. Whatever his crimes and defects, he cannot but be looked upon as one of the principal founders of the liberties of Holland 1.
Discouraged and dispirited, the exiles, who had returned to their Country, began to prepare for a second flight; each town expected that it would be the next to share the fate of Haarlem. In the peevish impatience of despair the inhabitants of North Holland, through the medium of their governor, Theodore Sonnoy, laid before the Prince of Orange a lamentable picture of the desolation of the Country, and their inability to defend themselves any longer, unless he could obtain the protection of some powerful sovereign. But William well knew how to touch that deep chord of enthusiasm which lay unstrung but for awhile in the hearts of the Hollanders to vibrate through the land. "The King of kings is our only ally," he replied, "and in him will we put our trust.
- Bor, boek vi.,M. 424.
Is it because the misfortunes to which all men are subject have fallen upon you, that manly courage has fled entirely from your hearts? If God has done what it pleased him with Haarlem, is it therefore that his arm is shortened? Has he forsaken his Church, that it should deny him ? Cast away from you all idle fears; arouse within your* selves the courage of former days, and each labouring heartily to do his duty, the blessing of God shall be with you 1."
The voice of complaint was heard no more. The people treated with silent scorn the threats promulgated by Alva under the semblance of an edict of pardon, that " if they did not immediately submit they should be utterly exterminated with fire and sword, and what remained of their land given to strangers to dwell in."
They renewed with vigour their preparations for defence, repaired and strengthened the fortifications of the towns, and collected stores of provisions and ammunition as abundant as the exhausted state of the Country permitted. The prince and states at the same time, neglected no means of replenishing the finances; but for this purpose they were obliged to resort to the unpopular measures of seizing the church property and the estates of fugitives, as well as the granting of licences and permits to trading vessels; the people, however, paid all without a murmur. A council of state was also appointed, (without any mention of the king,) to dispose of the confiscated property, and to punish the irregularities of the governors of garrisons, captains, and soldiers 2.
- Bor, boek vi., M. 44Ê-448.
- Grotius, Ann. Belg., lib, ii.p.58. Meeren, boek iv. vol. 94.
1573 Ample time was given to the Hollanders to arrange their affairs, in consequence of a mutiny which broke out among the troops engaged at the siege of Haarlem, to whom twenty-eight months arrears of pay were due. It was appeased with great difficulty at the end of seven weeks, when Alva determined to make a decisive attack on Holland both by land and water, and with this view commanded his son, Don Frederic di Toledo, to march to the siege of Alkmaar, and repaired in person to Amsterdam to inspect the equipment of a fleet of thirty ships; of which the largest, bearing the ominous name of the Inquisition, carried thirty-two guns and 350 men 1.
Don Frederic laid siege to Alkmaar at the head of 16,000 able and efficient troops; within the town were 1300 armed burghers and 800 soldiers, as many perhaps as it was at that time capable of containing. With this handful of men the citizens of Alkmaar defended themselves no less resolutely than the Haarlemmers had done. The fierce onslaughts of the Spaniards were beaten back with uniform success on the part of the besieged; the women and girls were never seen to shrink from the fight, even where it was hottest, but unceasingly supplied the defenders with stones and burning missiles, to throw amongst their enemies.
At last the Spaniards scarcely dared to show themselves beyond their trenches; but as there were no means of conveying reinforcements to the besieged from without, and their supplies began to fail, they resolved, after a month's siege, on the desperate measure of cutting through the dykes. Some troops sent by Sonnoy having effected this, and opened the sluices, the whole Country was soon deluged with water. Don Frederic, astounded at this novel mode of warfare, and fearing that himself and his whole army would be drowned, broke up his camp in haste, and fled, rather than retreated, to Amsterdam 2.
- Bor, boek vi., bL 460.
- Idem, 465. Meteren, boek iv., fol. 96.
It seemed almost as though the blessing which the Prince of Orange had promised his people had come upon them. The capture of Geertruydenberg, about this time, by one of his lieutenants, was followed by a naval victory, as signal as it was important. The Admiral Bossu, to whom was given the command of the fleet at Amsterdam, having sailed through the Pampus with the design of occupying the Zuyderzee, and thus making himself master of the towns of North Holland, enCountered the fleet of those towns, consisting of twenty-four vessels, commanded by Admiral Dirkson, stationed in the Zuyderzee to await his arrival.
Several days were consumed in partial skirmishes, the wind not permitting the ships to come to a general engagement; when at length a favourable breeze springing up, the Dutch vessels made sail straight towards the enemy, by whom they were received with a heavy fire. Being so poorly supplied with ammunition as to be unable to return it, the Hollanders ran in amongst their opponents, and the Admiral Dirkson bringing up his prow close to the Inquisition, in which was Bossu himself, threw out the grappling irons, and succeeded in making her fast. Scarcely was this effected when one John Harink, a volunteer from Hoorn, sprang on board and hauled down the admiral's flag. He was instantly shot dead; but the circumstance tended in no small degree to damp the ardour of the combatants on the Spanish side.
The other Holland vessels, in like manner, forced their enemies to come to a close fight, which lasted with little intermission from the afternoon of the 11th of October 1573 to midday of the 12th, during which time two of the royalist ships were sunk and a third captured; the remainder then lost courage, and throwing the greater portion of their guns overboard to expedite their sailing, fled into the Pampus. Bossu seeing himself wholly deserted, and that every means of escape was cut off, proposed a surrender upon terms which, after some difficulty, were accepted, and he was carried prisoner to Hoorn.
Unfortunately, for some reason which does not appear, the Dutch neglected to pursue the fugitive and disabled vessels, which, if they had done, there is little doubt that the whole would have been captured or destroyed. On intelligence of the issue of the battle, Alva quitted Amsterdam in haste and secrecy. This success delivered the towns of North Holland from the most imminent danger, and rendered the possession of Amsterdam nearly useless to the royalists, since the Gueux surrounding it on all sides, effectually barred the communication with the southern provinces 1.
As Alva was unable to obtain any farther remittances from Spain, and had wholly failed in the exaction of the tenth, he was driven to have recourse to the irksome and now hazardous measure of summoning the states-general, in order to obtain from them a vote of subsidy. Upon their assembling at Brussels, the states of Holland despatched an earnest and eloquent address, exhorting them to emancipate themselves from Spanish slavery and the cruel tyranny of Alva, which the want of unanimity in the provinces had alone enabled him to exercise. If, they urged, the united forces of Spain, Italy, Germany, and France, had been unable to conquer the strip of land which formed the province of Holland, how easy would it have been for them, had they made it a common cause, to have preserved entire the liberties, peace, and wealth of their Country; since it was from the Netherlands alone that Alva drew strength and resources to enable him to oppress the Netherlands.
- Velius Hoorn, boek iii., bl. 221—225.
If, at last, Holland were subdued, he would take vengeance on the whole of the provinces as rebels, for refusing the tenth; but that, they observed, would be no trifling task, since they wore determined to perish, one town after another, man by man, rather than submit to so disgraceful a slavery 1. Their remonstrance appears to have been attended with a powerful effect, since the states-general could neither by threats or remonstrances be induced to grant the smallest subsidy.
At the same time, the states of Holland forwarded a petition to the king, wherein, after recapitulating the cruelties and enormities of Alva, they declared that it was never their intention to take up arms against their sovereign, but solely to relieve themselves from the tyranny of the Spaniards, which they were resolved never to endure 2.
From their previous acts, we should be rather led to suppose, that they had not, from the first, any real intention of returning under the dominion of Philip, and that the petition was merely framed for the purpose of placing their cause in a favourable light before the world. However this may be, they had soon an opportunity of evincing their sincerity, since Alva, having become heartily weary of the government he had involved in such irretrievable confusion, now obtained his recall; his place was filled by Don Louis de Requesens, grand commander of Castile 3.
In the November of this year, Alva quitted the Netherlands, leaving behind him a name which has become a bye-word of hatred, scorn, and execration. He is described as tall and spare in person, his Countenance long and pallid, with eyes deeply sunk in the forehead, and expressive of harshness and austerity;
- Bor, boek vi., bl. 459, et seq.
- Idem, 471.
- Meteren, boek iv., fol. 90,
1573 insolent to an excess towards his equals and inferiors; overhearing and opiniated, hut penetrating, sagacious, and eloquent; devotedly faithful to his sovereign, it is jet remarkable that, though employed and trusted for sixty years by Philip and his father, he possessed not the smallest share of the affection of either. In ability and experience, he stood unrivalled among the commanders of his age; but while firm and fertile in resources in adversity, he was puffed up by prosperity to a height of arrogance amounting to folly. Accustomed from his earliest years to serve in the barbarous wars waged by his Country against the Moors, and in Italy, France, and Hungary, he had learned to look on human suffering, and to trample on the rights and shed the blood of mankind, with a remorseless and reckless indifference which seems hardly credible.
Were the pages of Italian and American history closed to us, we might, indeed, hesitate to believe even the grave and upright historians of the time, in the accounts they have transmitted of the ferocious cruelties which the Spaniards continually practised, and to which Alva gave his connivance and encouragement. During the six years that he had governed the Netherlands, 18,000 persons had perished by the hand of the executioner, besides the numbers massacred at Naarden, Zutphen and other conquered cities, and those whom the Spanish soldiers put to death in the wantonness of impunity.
The amount of profits from confiscated estates was said to be 8,000,000 of guilders yearly; nor was the property of hospitals, almshouses, or orphan asylums, spared in the general plunder. The Spaniards were accustomed to take whatever they chose without payment, observing, that everything in the Netherlands belonged to them, as forfeited for rebellion; the smallest resistance was followed by instant death; the husbands and fathers who attempted to protect their families from their brutality, were slaughtered on the spot; some they flayed alive, and used their skins for drums; others had their flesh torn off with red-hot pincers; and others were roasted before a slow fire, to force them to reveal their treasures.
Even the ashes of the dead were not left in peace, but disinterred and burnt, under the pretext that they had died without confession. One man was condemned and put to death because he had afforded shelter for a single night to his only son, proscribed for heresy; another for bestowing a morsel of food on the widow of a person executed for the same cause; a female of high rank, eighty-four years of age, was publicly beheaded at Utrecht, in the presence of Alva, for having on one occasion received a reformed preacher into her house; and many rich and noble ladies were stripped of their possessions for holding communication with their husbands, who had been outlawed as fugitives. Nevertheless, Vargas, on his departure with Alva, remarked, that the King of Spain had lost the Netherlands through an excess of clemency and forbearance.
Contrary to the expectations of many, Philip received Alva with every appearance of favour, and continued, with one short intermission, to trust and employ him till his death, which happened during the expedition to Portugal, in 1582. His last act was to place on his master's head the crown of that kingdom, the conquest of which he effected in the space of ten weeks 1.
- Campana, lib. iii., p. 68. Meteren, boek iv., fol. 96—98. Bor, boek vi., 464, et passim. Hooft, boek viii., bl. 383. Da Maurier, p. 65.
Note A. (Page 7.)
The following extracts will serve to show that this position is mot assumed upon insufficient grounds; they are taken from the " Description of the Netherlands," published by Louis Guicciardini 1, in 1563, three years before the first outbreak of the disturbances with Spain.
In this work, the fruit of many years diligent observation, the author informs us, that 300 merchant ships were accustomed to cast anchor every year at Amsterdam, where they found such a ready market for their wares, that they were usually cleared by the fifth or sixth day; and that Arnemuyden (a town in Zealand of secondary importance, and having no voice in the assembly of the states) was noted for the immense number of vessels constantly in its harbour, whence there often sailed fleets of from fifty to two hundred ships, besides numerous single vessels trading to and from Antwerp.
Holland employed 600 vessels, of from fifty to one hundred tons each, in the herring fishery: and the average number of large merchant ships was above 800. The importation of corn from Denmark, Poland, and the Hanse towns, into the province of Holland alone, averaged 6,480,000 bushels, while the butter and cheese exported from thence brought in a revenue of 1,000,000 of florins. The value of the exportations in general may be estimated from the fact, that the single town of Gouda paid an export duty of 3000 ducats annually, upon so simple an article of commerce as the Dutch tiles.
We are told also, that although Holland produced no flax, more fine linen was made there than in any other Country of the world, the yarn being imported chiefly from Flanders; nor was the manufacture of cloth less extensive, although wholly dependent on foreign wools, since 12,000 bales were made in the town of Haarlem alone: in like manner, although the Country afforded no materials for ship building, more vessels were constructed and equipped in the ports of Holland, than in almost all the rest of Europe together. Lad. Ouicc Belg. Des., torn. ii.y p. 92, 93, 94, 110, 183, 243. We shall see during the course of the history, that the Dutch were able frequently to equip navies sufficiently powerful to withstand those of France and the Hanse towns, and to send forth large fleets of merchant vessels, as well as ships of war.
- Uncle of the celebrated historian of that name.
Note B. (Page 22)
The time of the foundation of the County of Holland is involved in great obscurity, and I will not enter into the tedious discussion as to whether it should be fixed in 863, according to the most prevalent opinion, or, as others say, in the year 922. For the former date we have the authority of Melis Stoke, John of Leyden, Beka, Barlandus, Meyer, and numerous others; while Buchelius, the annotator of the Chronicle of Beka, Schryver, John van der Dors the younger, and the author of the admirable " Vaterlandache Historie," (Wagenaar) insist upon the latter.
The origin and rise of the County are, I believe, here traced with as much clearness as the intricacy of the subject admits of; and the facts stated are home out by the documents preserved in the " Diplomata" of Miraeus, of the authenticity of which there seems no reason to doubt: one or two brief observations, therefore, will suffice to prove, that neither of the foregoing conjectures is absolutely correct.
Charles the Bald of France, by whom the original grant in 863 1 was supposed to have been made, possessed no part of Holland, since all the land between the Rhine and the Meuse was included in the kingdom of Lorraine; and Charles the Simple, who did in fact bestow Egmond and its dependencies on Theodore I. in 912, was in 922 engaged in a war with the rebel, Duke Robert of Paris, who had usurped his crown 2; and consequently it was highly improbable that he should confer grants of those lands of which at that time he was not even in possession, since little more than Aquitaine was left to him by the usurper.
- The County of Flanders was, in fact, founded at this period; and either this circumstance may hare given rise to the mistake, or the monks of EgmoodJ, the first chroniclers of Holland, may have wilfully falsified the date in the charter, as not wishing the origin of their nation to appear less ancient than that of the Flemings, their neighbours and rivals.
- Wily, Hist, de France, torn, ii., p. 205,
Note C (Page 37)
The historian Wagcnaar (Vat. Hist., boek vii., No. 1.) is of opinion that the Counts of Holland had no footing in Friesland, east of the Zuyderzee, until long after this period. But the whole of the land lying between the Yssel and " Liore," is mentioned in the grant of Otho III. to Theodore II., Count of Holland: and the latter is much more likely to be the Lauwers in Friesland, than, as Wagenaar supposes, the small stream of the Lee in the southern part of Delftland, which, as Medemblick and the Texel are also named, would exclude the Country lying between, that is, the greater portion of Delftland, and the whole of Rhynland and North Holland : indeed, a single glance at the map will suffice to show that it was hardly possible this stream could have been the boundary fixed upon for the County.
The supposition that the Lauwers is in reality the river meant, besides the similarity of the name, is further confirmed by the great probability which exists, that the Zuyderzee was still, as in the time of the Romans, an inland sea, Friesland and West Friesland forming one continued tract of land along the north of it, intersected by the Vlie, which connected the Zuyderzee with the ocean, the rivers Medemblick, Chimelosara, and other small streams.
A flood, which happened in 1173, considerably extended the limits of the Zuyderzee, and from that period until 1396 it continued gradually to increase, overflowing " whole forests and many thousand acres of land, so that large ships might be navigated where carriages used to travel." In 1396 another deluge occurred, which formed the Marsdiep, separated the islands of Texel, Vlielandt, and Wieringen from the main land, and drowned the land around Enkhuyzen and Medemblick 1.
We may therefore conclude that the rivers Medemelec, or Medemblick, and Kinnem in Kemmerland, with the Texel, were the boundaries of the County, as granted by Otho III., on the west 2, and the Lauwers on the east. The Emperor Lothaire certainly made a grant of Friesland, in 1125, to his nephew Theodore VI.; but if the rights of the Counts of Holland were founded solely upon this charter, it is hardly probable that the Emperor Frederic I. should have considered their claims and those of the bishops of Utrecht so equal, as to decide that the government should be divided between them (in 1165), since the grant of
- Schryver's Graaven, deel i., bl. 343.
- The portion of Holland' around Egmond was granted by Charles the Simple, king of France,
Lothaire was long subsequent to those of Henry IV. of 1077 ad 1086, upon which the bishops grounded their pretensions. John of Leyden, speaking of the grant of Lothaire, says, that he again incorporated the land in question with the County of Holland, according to the ancient rights, "secundum antiqua privilegia iterum incorporavit 1. He likewise tells us, that Friesland had been wrested from Holland, by Egbert, margrave of Brandenborg 2, which opinion is adopted by the author of the Netherland Cronicle 3, and by Heda 4, but controverted by Buohelius, the annotator of the latter (Note " c,") on the ground that the expulsion of the Count of Holland is not mentioned in the diplomas of Henry IV. to the bishop of Utrecht: but it does not appear probable that either the emperor who made the grants, or the bishop who obtained them, would voluntarily adduce any pretensions which the Counts of Holland may have had to the territories conferred by them.
- Lib. xvii., cap. 2.
- Lib. xv., cap. 5.
- Divis. x., cap. 10
- P. 138,
Note D. (Page 125.)
Suspicions have been cast upon Edward, as if guilty of a previous knowledge of the murder of Count Florence; they are, however, not borne out by facts. It is true that the chief instigator of that plot, the Lord of Cuyck, was engaged to perform any service that the King of England might require of him, in consideration of the sum of 2000 livres; but we are not justified in concluding that the treaty was made between them with a view to this particular transaction, since it was merely such an one as petty princes frequently entered into with rich and powerful monarchs; nor were the terms of it unusual, since Waleran, lord of Monjoie and Hauquemont, bound himself to the service of Edward nearly at the same time, is a manner precisely similar : " Et sur ces (i. e, the 2000 livres,) lui avions faite homage, et foiauté, pur li loiaument servir a notre poer, et consailler." There is likewise no evidence to show that the conspirators themselves entertained any other design at first, than that of conveying Count Florence to imprisonment in England or Flanders, which being prevented by the Naardeners and Frieslanders they suddenly resolved upon putting him to death, lest his rescue should be achieved. It is far less easy to acquit Edward of an active participation in the iniquitous scheme of confining Florence
in prison for the remainder of his life. The angry terms in which he expressed himself with regard to the Count's alliance with France 1; the promise of assistance made to the conspirators at Cambray by his temporary vassal, the Lord of Cuyck, a promise which could hardly have been ventured upon without his sanction; the fact that the conspirators carried their prisoner to Muyden for the purpose of transporting him thence to England; and, above all, a letter which he wrote to the emperor, only two days before the Count's death, wherein he makes use of this remarkable expression, " speramus enim quod magis in persona filii, quam in persona patris res eadem foret salva," are circumstances that fix upon him a considerable, if not the largest share in the guilt of this enterprise, to which he was prompted at once by a feeling of vengeance against Florence for having forsaken his alliance, and by the ambition of exercising unbounded influence in the affairs of Holland when the nominal government was lodged in the hands of his infant son-in-law.
- Rym. Feed., torn. ii. p. 117.
Note E. (Page 149.)
With the account of this marriage ends the Rhyme Chronicle of the monk of Egmond, Melis Stoke: a work which, whether in regard to the fidelity and judgment displayed in the relation of the facts, or (considering the age in which it was written) the purity and dignity of the language, is of inestimable value to the literature as well as to the history of Holland; and honourable alike to the author and to the Country which produced him, at a time when rude rhymes and monkish legends constituted the chief of the poetry and history of the northern nations of Europe.
The " Rym-chronyk" is written in the "ottava rima," or verses of eight feet, the measure being preserved less by the exact number of syllables, than by emphases and points, in the same manner as in our own Chaucer: the versification, well sustained throughout is in many parts by no means deficient in softness and harmony, but constantly adheres to the simplicity of history, being wholly destitute of poetical imagery, or rhetorical ornament. The early part of the Chronicle is brief, and often somewhat obscure, being probably intended merely as an introduction to the contemporary history, which commences with the reign of Florence V., when the details become sufficiently full, and the descriptions often graphic and striking;
they are intermingled, however, with tedious and common place reflections, which the learned editor, Huydecoper, conjectures with great probability, to have been the interpolations of some of the transcribing monks: indeed, the terse and vigorous style of the author himself may be distinguished by the most superficial reader.
The farewell address to the young Count William, then about nineteen, is so remarkable for its boldness and simplicity, that I cannot resist the temptation of inserting it at length:
—" Lord of Holland, noble Count. I, Melis Stoke, your poor clerk, have finished this work for your behoof, and for the honour of God. Take heed that you lose not the good name you now have: else will your condition be worse than if you had never gained it, and all your foregone labour fruitless. Think always on virtue: give all you can, but be careful what you give, and to whom you give it Look into the mouths of your parasites, and see whether they flatter for gain. Do justice over the whole land, to the lord and to the peasant. Measure out right, and justice to every one according to his deserts; so if he complain, he shall complain without cause: if you do not this, you do ill, and he shall trample you under foot, and say, the devil may serve and love such a master. Reward him who serves you; so will he remain your constant friend. Judge the rich as well as the poor, and let not the poor make lamentation. If you do this, you shall do well. Be courteous in deed and word, and maintain a firm Countenance. Keep moderation in all things. Love the holy Church, and honour clerks, priests, and monks ; so shall our Lord strengthen you. Despise not the poor, but do good to him; that is to do well. God preserve your worldly honour in this life; and after this life, may you come to where holy angels praise the Lord. This may the Child of Mary grant; and let all who love the Count say, Amen."
Note F. (Page 165)
A moment's reflection on the relative situation of the two classes at this period will show us, that hatred and dissensions must of necessity spring up between them. The feudal system was now on the decline: the sovereigns by such restraints as they had been able to impose on the custom of private war, and on the exercise of the hereditary jurisdictions of the nobles, (by the encouragement of appeals from the Barons, Courts to their own,) had lessened considerably the dread and respect which this order had formerly
inspired: while the towns had, during the crusades, risen from various causes in wealth and importance.
The communication with the east, during the same period, had inspired the nobility with a taste for luxury and magnificence, which the extended commerce of the towns enabled them to gratify: and as the estates of the former no longer sufficed to supply their multiplied wants, and they had no other means of increasing their resources than the inadequate and uncertain expedient of military plunder, they were frequently reduced to solicit loans from the rich and industrious burghers, and were accordingly at once dependent upon, and jealous of them.
Debased by their poverty, and insolent from the pride of their high birth, they alternately cringed to, and plundered the wealthy and peaceful traders. The commons, on the other hand, sustaining alone the pecuniary burdens of the state, envied the privileges enjoyed by the nobles, whom they detested for their tyranny, rapacity, and debauchery, and despised for their ignorance and indolence, and the puerile vanity which led them to squander their incomes in splendid festivals and gauds for the decoration of their persons; while they themselves, beginning now pretty generally to assert and use the right of taking up arms in their own defence, rather sought to repel violence by violence, and repay aggression with aggression, than to shelter themselves under thé protection and restraint of the laws.
The sovereigns meanwhile, now supporting the people with a view of creating a balance to the aristocratic power, and flattering them in order to draw supplies from their pockets to their own empty exchequer—now prompted by ancient prejudices, and their instinctive dread of popular control, to lend their favour and Countenance to the nobles—rather exasperated than curbed the rancorous passions that agitated both.
Note G. (Page 207
The following is the letter addressed by the Countess Jacoba to Humphry of Gloucester (commonly called the "Good Duke Humphry), as translated by Johnes from Monstrelet's Chronicle: "
--- My very dear and redoubted lord and father, in the most humble of manners in this world, I recommend myself to your kind favour. May it please you to know, my very redoubted lord and father, that I address myself to you as the most doleful, most ruined, and most treacherously deceived woman living; for, my very dear lord,
on Sunday, the I3th of this present month of June, the deputies of your town of Mons returned, and brought with them a treaty that had been agreed on between our fair cousin of Burgundy and our fair cousin of Brabant; which treaty had been made in the absence and without the knowledge of my mother, as she herself signifies to me, and confirmed by her chaplain, Master Gerard Ie Grand.
" My mother, most redoubted lord, has written to me letters, certifying the above treaty haying been made; but that in regard to it, she knew not how to advise me, for that she was herself doubtful how to act. She desired me, however, to call an assembly of the principal burghers of Mons, and learn from them what aid and advice they were willing to give me. Upon this, my sweet lord and father, I went on the morrow to the town-house, and remonstrated with them, that it had been at their request and earnest entreaties that you had left me under their safeguard and on their oaths, that they would be true and loyal subjects, and take especial care of me, so that they should be enabled to give you good accounts on your return; and these oaths had been taken on the holy sacrament at the altar, and on the sacred evangelists.
"To this my harangue, my dear and honoured lord, they simply replied, that they were not sufficiently strong within the town to defend and guard me; and instantaneously they rose in tumult, saying that my people wanted to murder them; and, my sweet lord, they carried matters so far that, in despite of me, they arrested one of your sergeants, called Maquart, whom they immediately beheaded, and hanged very many who were of your party and strongly attached to your interest, such as Bardould de la Porte, his brother Colart, and others, to the number of 250 of you adherents. They also wished to seize Sir Baldwin the treasurer, and Sir Louis de Montfort; but though they did not succeed, I know not what they intend doing; for, my very dear lord, they plainly told me that unless I make peace, they will deliver me into the hands of the Duke of Brabant, and that I shall only remain eight days longer in their town, when I shall be forced to go into Flanders, which will be to me the most painful of events; for I very much fear that, unless you shall hasten to free me from the hands I am now in, I shall never see you more. Alas! my most dear and redoubted father, my whole hope is in your power, seeing, my sweet lord and only delight, that all my sufferings arise from my love to you. I therefore entreat, in the most humble manner possible, and for the love of God, that you would be pleased to haw compassion on me and on my affairs; for you must hasten to succour your most doleful creature, if you do not wish to lose her forever.
" I have hopes that you will do as I beg, for, dear father, have never behaved ill to you in my whole life, and so long as I shall live I will never do any thing to displease you, but I am ready to die for love of you and your noble person.
" Your government pleases me much; and by my faith, my very redoubted lord and prince, my sole consolation and hope, I beg you will consider; by the love of God and of my lord St. George, the melancholy situation of myself and my affairs more maturely than you have hitherto done, for you seem entirely to have forgotten me.
" Nothing more do I know at present than that I ought sooner to have sent Sir Louis de Montfort to you, for he cannot longer remain here, although he attended me when all the rest deserted me; and he will tell you more particularly all that has happened than I can do in a letter. I entreat, therefore, that you will be a kind lord to him, and send me your good pleasure and commands, which I will most heartily obey. This is known to the blessed Son of God, whom I pray to grant you a long and happy life, and that I may have the great joy of seeing you soon.
"Written in the false and traitorous town of Mons, with a doleful heart, the 16th day of June." The letter was signed " your sorrowful and well-beloved daughter, suffering great grief by your commands—your daughter, De Quienebourg."
Note H. (Page 346)
The epithet of "moneyless," bestowed on Maximilian, and better applied than the cognomens usually given to princes, was a consequence no less of his political situation, than of his personal character. A portion, and not the larger portion, of his dominions consisted of the Netherlands, the most industrious and wealthy states in Europe; states which not long before had supported the splendid and voluptuous court of Philip of Burgundy, and of which a few provinces, in this same century, were indebted for their success in a protracted war against Spain, the mistress of the treasures of the new world, chiefly to their superior regularity in the payment of their troops: yet Maximilian, lord of these rich provinces, was, from his poverty, an object of mistrust to his allies, and of contempt to his enemies. The principal cause of this seeming anomaly is to be found in the new system of politics introduced by Louis XI. of
France, which, rendering each nation, instead of an isolated individual, a member of a great political body, had widened the views and extended the sphere of action of the principal monarchs of Europe, while their increased efforts were unsupported at home by a regular method of taxation, or an economical system of finance.
The nobles still claimed exemption from the burdens of the state: the taxes paid by the industrious classes, and levied chiefly upon land and raw produce, or by means of irksome restrictions on commerce, drained the wealth of the Country even at the fountain bend; while for want of skilful regulations in the mode of collecting them, only a small portion of the funds extorted from the people found their way into the treasury of the sovereign. Henry YII of England was, at the end of the fifteenth, and beginning of the sixteenth century, the only wealthy prince of Europe; and of the mean he adopted to accumulate his riches, Lord Bacon has given us only too vivid a description.
The poverty of Maximilian was the mom conspicuous, because, while in appearance sovereign of a vast empire, he was in fact lord only of an assemblage of independent states, in not one of which, except his hereditary duchy of Austria, did he possess the power of taxing his subjects; and his schemes, begun without consideration, and abandoned without cause, were seldom sufficiently popular to induce his states to open their purses in his support.
Note I. (Page 519.)
The conduct of the Prince of Orange on this occasion has not wanted strenuous defenders; but it is impossible to plead for it either excuse or justification, and the cause of truth and virtue does but suffer in the attempt. The inclination which historians are too prone to gratify, to elevate into heroes the actors in the events of which they treat, and by enhancing their qualifications and disguising their failings, to give to their character an appearance of perfection of which human nature is incapable; besides that it is spurious and dishonest mode of exciting the interest of their readers, tends to throw an air of fiction and exaggeration over the whole, and renders them utterly valueless as models for imitation. William was unhappily placed in the situation in which every leader of a popular party must at one time or other find himself, when, in order to gain the numbers requisite to the success of his cause, the ambitious are to be gratified, the rapacious satiated, the vain flattered,
the lukewarm roused, and the timid encouraged or deceived.
His object was now to excite a general and active spirit of hostility to the government in the minds of the Netherlanders—inclined, like most trading and commercial people, rather to sit down patiently under a wrong, trusting to time and chance to work out a remedy, than to risk the loss of the actual advantages they enjoyed by adopting violent and coercive measures of redress; and to accomplish this, he scrupled not to violate the oath he had taken as councillor of state to advise the governess to the best of his ability, by giving counsels, the effect of which would be, as he was well aware, to embarrass her with difficulties, and involve her affairs in confusion.
The error into which so great and good a man was in this instance betrayed, affords evidence of the strength of the temptation which besets a party leader to commit acts in the heat of party contention, which his calmer reason would spurn, and to make deviations from the strict principle of rectitude and honour, which should be exquisitely painful to an upright mind.