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Title: History of Holland
Author: Edmundson, George, 1848-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Team.



  CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  C.F. CLAY, MANAGER LONDON:
  FETTER LANE, E.C.4



  NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO.
  BOMBAY  }
  CALCUTTA} MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD.
  MADRAS  }
  TORONTO: THE MACMILLAN CO.
                    OF CANADA, LTD.
  TOKYO: MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA



  HISTORY OF HOLLAND



  BY GEORGE EDMUNDSON D.
  LITT., F.R.G.S., F.R.HIST.S.

  SOMETIME FELLOW OF BRASENOSE COLLEGE, OXFORD
  HON. MEMBER OF THE DUTCH HISTORICAL SOCIETY, UTRECHT
  FOREIGN MEMBER OF THE NETHERLAND SOCIETY OF LITERATURE, LEYDEN



  CAMBRIDGE
  AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  1922



GENERAL PREFACE


_The aim of this series is to sketch the history of Modern Europe, with
that of its chief colonies and conquests, from about the end of the
fifteenth century down to the present time. In one or two cases the
story commences at an earlier date; in the case of the colonies it
generally begins later. The histories of the different countries are
described, as a rule, separately; for it is believed that, except in
epochs like that of the French Revolution and Napoleon I, the connection
of events will thus be better understood and the continuity of
historical development more clearly displayed.

The series is intended for the use of all persons anxious to understand
the nature of existing political conditions. 'The roots of the present
lie deep in the past'; and the real significance of contemporary events
cannot be grasped unless the historical causes which have led to them
are known. The plan adopted makes it possible to treat the history of
the last four centuries in considerable detail, and to embody the most
important results of modern research. It is hoped therefore that the
series will be useful not only to beginners but to students who have
already acquired some general knowledge of European History. For those
who wish to carry their studies further, the bibliography appended to
each volume will act as a guide to original sources of information and
works of a more special character.

Considerable attention is paid to political geography; and each volume
is furnished with such maps and plans as may be requisite for the
illustration of the text_.

G.W. PROTHERO.

       *       *       *       *       *



PROLOGUE


The title, "History of Holland," given to this volume is fully justified
by the predominant part which the great maritime province of Holland
took in the War of Independence and throughout the whole of the
subsequent history of the Dutch state and people. In every language the
country, comprising the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht,
Friesland, Gelderland, Overyssel and Groningen, has, from the close of
the sixteenth century to our own day, been currently spoken of as
Holland, and the people (with the solitary exception of ourselves) as
'Hollanders[1].' It is only rarely that the terms the Republic of the
United Provinces, or of the United Netherlands, and in later times the
Kingdom of the Netherlands, are found outside official documents. Just
as the title "History of England" gradually includes the histories of
Wales, of Scotland, of Ireland, and finally of the widespread British
Empire, so is it in a smaller way with the history that is told in the
following pages. That history, to be really complete, should begin with
an account of mediaeval Holland in the feudal times which preceded the
Burgundian period; and such an account was indeed actually written, but
the plan of this work, which forms one of the volumes of a series,
precluded its publication.

The character, however, of the people of the province of Holland, and of
its sister and closely allied province of Zeeland, its qualities of
toughness, of endurance, of seamanship and maritime enterprise, spring
from the peculiar amphibious nature of the country, which differs from
that of any other country in the world. The age-long struggle against
the ocean and the river floods, which has converted the marshes, that
lay around the mouths of the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt, by
toilsome labour and skill into fertile and productive soil, has left its
impress on the whole history of this people. Nor must it be forgotten
how largely this building up of the elaborate system of dykes, dams and
canals by which this water-logged land was transformed into the Holland
of the closing decades of the sixteenth century, enabled her people to
offer such obstinate and successful resistance to the mighty power of
Philip II.

The earliest dynasty of the Counts of Holland--Dirks, Floris, and
Williams--was a very remarkable one. Not only did it rule for an
unusually long period, 922 to 1299, but in this long period without
exception all the Counts of Holland were strong and capable rulers. The
fiefs of the first two Dirks lay in what is now known as North Holland,
in the district called Kennemerland. It was Dirk III who seized from the
bishops of Utrecht some swampy land amidst the channels forming the
mouth of the Meuse, which, from the bush which covered it, was named
Holt-land (Holland or Wood-land). Here he erected, in 1015, a stronghold
to collect tolls from passing ships. This stronghold was the beginning
of the town of Dordrecht, and from here a little later the name Holland
was gradually applied to the whole county. Of his successors the most
illustrious was William II (1234 to 1256) who was crowned King of the
Romans at Aachen, and would have received from Pope Innocent IV the
imperial crown at Rome, had he not been unfortunately drowned while
attempting to cross on horseback an ice-bound marsh.

In 1299 the male line of this dynasty became extinct; and John of
Avennes, Count of Hainault, nephew of William II, succeeded. His son,
William III, after a long struggle with the Counts of Flanders,
conquered Zeeland and became Count henceforth of Holland, Zeeland and
Hainault. His son, William IV, died childless; and the succession then
passed to his sister Margaret, the wife of the Emperor Lewis of Bavaria.
It was contested by her second son William, who, after a long drawn-out
strife with his mother, became, in 1354, Count of Holland and Zeeland
with the title William V, Margaret retaining the county of Hainault.
Becoming insane, his brother Albert in 1358 took over the reins of
government. In his time the two factions, known by the nicknames of "the
Hooks" and "the Cods," kept the land in a continual state of disorder
and practically of civil war. They had already been active for many
years. The Hooks were supported by the nobles, by the peasantry and by
that large part of the poorer townsfolk that was excluded from all share
in the municipal government. The Cods represented the interests of the
powerful burgher corporations. In later times these same principles and
interests divided the Orangist and the States parties, and were
inherited from the Hooks and Cods of mediaeval Holland. The marriages
of Albert's son, William, with Margaret the sister of John the Fearless,
Duke of Burgundy, and of John the Fearless with Albert's daughter,
Margaret, were to have momentous consequences. Albert died in 1404 and
was succeeded by William VI, who before his death in 1417 caused the
nobles and towns to take the oath of allegiance to his daughter and only
child, Jacoba or Jacqueline.[2]

Jacoba, brave, beautiful and gifted, for eleven years maintained her
rights against many adversaries, chief among them her powerful and
ambitious cousin, Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Her courage and
many adventures transformed her into a veritable heroine of romance. By
her three marriages with John, Duke of Brabant, with Humphry, Duke of
Gloucester, and, finally, with Frans van Borselen, she had no children.
Her hopeless fight with Philip of Burgundy's superior resources ended at
last in the so-called "Reconciliation of Delft" in 1428, by which, while
retaining the title of countess, she handed over the government to
Philip and acknowledged his right of succession to the Countship upon
her death, which took place in 1436.

G.E.

_November_, 1921



  TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                        PAGES


  GENERAL PREFACE                                       v

  PROLOGUE                                              vii-ix

  CHAP.


     I. The Burgundian Netherlands                      1-11

    II. Habsburg Rule in the Netherlands                12-26

   III. The Prelude to the Revolt                       27-46

   IV. The Revolt of the Netherlands                    47-68

    V. William the Silent                               69-81

   VI. The Beginnings of the Dutch Republic             82-109

  VII. The System of Government                         110-118

 VIII. The Twelve Years' Truce                          119-126

   IX. Maurice and Oldenbarneveldt                      127-138

    X. From the end of the Twelve Years' Truce
         to the Peace of Munster, 1621-1648.
         The Stadholderate
         of Frederick Henry of Orange                   139-158

    XI. The East and West India Companies.
          Commercial and Economic Expansion             159-185

   XII. Letters, Science and Art                        186-201

  XIII. The Stadholderate of William II.
        The Great Assembly                              202-211

   XIV. Rise of John de Witt.
       The First English War                            212-224

    XV. The Administration of John de Witt, 1654-1665,
        from the Peace of Westminster to
        the Out-break of the Second English War         225-235

  XVI.  The last years of De Witt's Administration,
        1665-1672. The Second English War.
        The Triple Alliance.
        The French Invasion                             236-250

 XVII.  War with France and England. William III,
        Stadholder. Murder of the brothers De
        Witt, 1672                                      251-257

XVIII.  The Stadholderate of William III,
        1672-1688                                       258-273

  XIX.    The King-Stadholder, 1688-1702                274-284

  XX.     The War of the Spanish Succession and the
        Treaties of Utrecht, 1702-1715                  285-297

  XXI.    The Stadholderless Republic, 1715-1740        298-305

  XXII.   The Austrian Succession War and William
          IV, 1740-1751                                 306-315

 XXIII. The Regency of Anne and of Brunswick,
          1751-1766                                     316-320

 XXIV.   William V. First Period, 1766-1780             321-326

  XXV.  Stadholderate of William V (_continued_),
        1780-1788. The English War.
        Patriot Movement. Civil War. Prussian
        Intervention                                    327-336

 XXVI. The Orange Restoration. Downfall of the
        Republic, 1788-1795                             337-343

XXVII.  The Batavian Republic, 1795-1806                344-356

XXVIII. The Kingdom of Holland and the French
        Annexation, 1806-1814                           357-366

XXIX.   The Formation of the Kingdom of the
        Netherlands, 1814-1815                          367-375

XXX.  The Kingdom of the Netherlands--Union
          of Holland and Belgium, 1815-1830             376-388

XXXI.  The Belgian Revolution. The Separation of
        Holland and Belgium, 1830-1842                  389-404

XXXII.  William I abdicates. Reign of William II.
          Revision of the Constitution, 1842-1849       405-410

XXXIII.  Reign of William III to the death of
           Thorbecke, 1849-1872                         411-418

XXXIV.  The later reign of William III, and the
        Regency of Queen Emma, 1872-1898                419-425

XXXV.  The Reign of Queen Wilhelmina, 1898-1917         426-428

  EPILOGUE                                              429-432

  BIBLIOGRAPHY                                          433-444

  INDEX                                                 445-464


  MAPS

  THE NETHERLANDS, _about_ 1550
  THE NETHERLANDS, _after_ 1648                AFTER p. 444



CHAPTER I

THE BURGUNDIAN NETHERLANDS


The last duke of the ancient Capetian house of Burgundy dying in 1361
without heirs male, the duchy fell into the possession of the French
crown, and was by King John II bestowed upon his youngest son, Philip
the Hardy, Duke of Touraine, as a reward, it is said, for the valour he
displayed in the battle of Poictiers. The county of Burgundy, generally
known as Franche-Comté, was not included in this donation, for it was an
imperial fief; and it fell by inheritance in the female line to
Margaret, dowager Countess of Flanders, widow of Count Louis II, who was
killed at Crécy. The duchy and the county were soon, however, to be
re-united, for Philip married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Louis de
Male, Count of Flanders, and granddaughter of the above-named Margaret.
In right of his wife he became, on the death of Louis de Male in 1384,
the ruler of Flanders, Mechlin, Artois, Nevers and Franche-Comté. Thus
the foundation was laid of a great territorial domain between France and
Germany, and Philip the Hardy seems from the first to have been
possessed by the ambitious design of working for the restoration of a
powerful middle kingdom, which should embrace the territories assigned
to Lothaire in the tripartite division of the Carolingian empire by the
treaty of Verdun (843). For this he worked ceaselessly during his long
reign of forty years, and with singular ability and courage. Before his
death he had by the splendour of his court, his wealth and his successes
in arms and diplomacy, come to be recognised as a sovereign of great
weight and influence, in all but name a king. The Burgundian policy and
tradition, which he established, found in his successors John the
Fearless (murdered in 1419) and John's son, Philip the Good, men of like
character and filled with the same ambitions as himself. The double
marriage of John with Margaret, the sister of William VI of Holland, and
of William VI with Margaret of Burgundy, largely helped forward their
projects of aggrandisement. Philip the Good was, however, a much abler
ruler than his father, a far-seeing statesman, who pursued his plans
with a patient and unscrupulous pertinacity, of which a conspicuous
example is to be found in his long protracted struggle with his cousin
Jacoba, the only child and heiress of William of Holland, whose
misfortunes and courage have made her one of the most romantic figures
of history. By a mixture of force and intrigue Philip, in 1433, at last
compelled Jacoba to abdicate, and he became Count of Holland, Zeeland
and Hainault. Nor was this by any means the end of his acquisitions.
Joanna, Duchess of Brabant (1355-1404) in her own right, was aunt on the
mother's side to Margaret of Flanders, wife of Philip the Hardy. Dying
without heirs, she bequeathed Brabant, Limburg and Antwerp to her
great-nephew, Anthony of Burgundy, younger brother of John the Fearless.
Anthony was killed at Agincourt and was succeeded first by his son John
IV, the husband of Jacoba of Holland, and on his death without an heir
in 1427, by his second son, Philip of St Pol, who also died childless in
1430. From him his cousin Philip the Good inherited the duchies of
Brabant and Limburg and the marquisate of Antwerp. Already he had
purchased in 1421 the territory of Namur from the last Count John III,
who had fallen into heavy debt; and in 1443 he likewise purchased the
duchy of Luxemburg from the Duchess Elizabeth of Görlitz, who had
married in second wedlock Anthony, Duke of Brabant, and afterwards John
of Bavaria, but who had no children by either of her marriages. Thus in
1443 Philip had become by one means or another sovereign under various
titles of the largest and most important part of the Netherlands, and he
increased his influence by securing in 1456 the election of his
illegitimate son David, as Bishop of Utrecht. Thus a great step forward
had been taken for the restoration of the middle kingdom, which had been
the dream of Philip the Hardy, and which now seemed to be well-nigh on
the point of accomplishment.

The year 1433, the date of the incorporation of Holland and Zeeland in
the Burgundian dominion, is therefore a convenient starting-point for a
consideration of the character of the Burgundian rule in the
Netherlands, and of the changes which the concentration of sovereign
power in the hands of a single ruler brought into the relations of the
various provinces with one another and into their internal
administration. The Netherlands become now for the first time something
more than a geographical expression for a number of petty feudal
states, practically independent and almost always at strife.
Henceforward there was peace; and throughout the whole of this northern
part of his domains it was the constant policy of Philip gradually to
abolish provincialism and to establish a centralised government. He was
far too wise a statesman to attempt to abolish suddenly or arbitrarily
the various rights and privileges, which the Flemings, Brabanters and
Hollanders had wrung from their sovereigns, and to which they were
deeply attached; but, while respecting these, he endeavoured to restrict
them as far as possible to local usage, and to centralise the general
administration of the whole of the "pays de par deçà" (as the Burgundian
dukes were accustomed to name their Netherland dominions) by the
summoning of representatives of the Provincial States to an assembly
styled the States-General, and by the creation of a common Court of
Appeal.

The first time the States-General were called together by Philip was in
1465 for the purpose of obtaining a loan for the war with France and the
recognition of his son Charles as his successor; and from this time
forward at irregular intervals, but with increasing frequency, the
practice of summoning this body went on. The States-General (in a sense)
represented the Netherlands as a whole; and it was a matter of great
convenience for the sovereign, especially when large levies of money had
to be raised, to be enabled thus to bring his proposals before a single
assembly, instead of before a number of separate and independent
provincial states. Nevertheless, it must be borne in mind that the
States-General had, as such, no authority to act on behalf of these
several provincial states. Each of these sent their deputies to the
General Assembly, but these deputies had to refer all matters to their
principals before they could give their assent, and each body of
deputies gave this assent separately, and without regard to the others.
It was thus but a first provisional step towards unity of
administration, but it did tend to promote a feeling of community of
interests between the provinces and to lead to the deputies having
intercourse with one another and interchanging their views upon the
various important subjects that were brought before their consideration.
The period of disturbance and the weakening of the authority of the
sovereign, which followed the death of Charles the Bold, led to the
States-General obtaining a position of increased importance; and they
may from that time be regarded as forming a regular and necessary part
of the machinery of government in the Burgundian Netherlands. The
States-General however, like the Provincial States, could only meet when
summoned by the sovereign or his stadholder; and the causes for which
they were summoned were such special occasions as the accession of a new
sovereign or the appointment of a new stadholder, or more usually for
sanctioning the requests for levies of money, which were required for
the maintenance of splendid courts and the cost of frequent wars. For
not only the Burgundian princes properly so-called, but even Charles V,
had mainly to depend upon the wealth of the Netherlands for their
financial needs. And here a distinction must be drawn. For solemn
occasions, such as the accession of a new sovereign, or the acceptance
of a newly appointed governor, representatives of all the provinces
(eventually seventeen) were summoned, but for ordinary meetings for the
purpose of money levies only those of the so-called patrimonial or old
Burgundian provinces came together. The demands for tribute on the
provinces acquired later, such as Gelderland, Groningen, Friesland and
Overyssel, were made to each of these provinces separately, and they
jealously claimed their right to be thus separately dealt with. In the
case of the other provinces the States-General, as has been already
stated, could only grant the money after obtaining from each province
represented, severally, its assent; and this was often not gained until
after considerable delay and much bargaining. Once granted, however, the
assessment regulating the quota, which the different provinces had to
contribute, was determined on the basis of the so-called _quotisatie_ or
_settinge_ drawn up in 1462 on the occasion of a tribute for 10 years,
which Charles the Bold, as his father's stadholder in the "pays de par
deçà," then demanded. The relative wealth of the provinces may be judged
from the fact that at this date Flanders and Brabant each paid a quarter
of the whole levy, Holland one sixth, Zeeland one quarter of Holland's
share.

As regards the provincial government the Burgundian princes left
undisturbed the local and historical customs and usages, and each
province had its individual characteristics. At the head of each
provincial government (with the exception of Brabant, at whose capital,
Brussels, the sovereign himself or his regent resided) was placed a
governor, with the title of Stadholder, who was the representative of
the sovereign and had large patronage. It was his duty to enforce
edicts, preserve order, and keep a watchful eye over the administration
of justice. He nominated to many municipal offices, but had little or no
control over finance. The raising of troops and their command in the
field was entrusted to a captain-general, who might not be the same
person as the stadholder, though the offices were sometimes united. In
the northern Netherlands there was but one stadholder for the three
provinces of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, and one (at a somewhat later
date) for Friesland, Groningen, Drente and Overyssel.

The desire of the Burgundian princes to consolidate their dominions into
a unified sovereignty found itself thwarted by many obstacles and
especially by the lack of any supreme tribunal of appeal. It was galling
to them that the _Parlement_ of Paris should still exercise appellate
jurisdiction in Crown-Flanders and Artois, and the Imperial Diet in some
of the other provinces. Already in 1428 Philip had erected the Court of
Holland at the Hague to exercise large powers of jurisdiction and
financial control in the provinces of Holland and Zeeland; and in 1473
Charles the Bold set up at Mechlin the body known as the Great Council,
to act as a court of appeal from the provincial courts. It was to be, in
the Netherlands, what the _Parlement_ of Paris was in France. The Great
Council, which had grown out of the Privy Council attached to the person
of the prince, and which under the direction of the Chancellor of
Burgundy administered the affairs of the government, more particularly
justice and finance, was in 1473, as stated above, re-constituted as a
Court of Appeal in legal matters, a new Chamber of Accounts being at the
same time created to deal with finance. These efforts at centralisation
of authority were undoubtedly for the good of the country as a whole,
but such was the intensity of provincial jealousy and particularism that
they were bitterly resented and opposed.

In order to strengthen the sovereign's influence in the towns, and to
lessen the power of the Gilds, Philip established in Holland, and so far
as he could elsewhere, what were called "vaste Colleges" or fixed
committees of notables, to which were entrusted the election of the town
officials and the municipal administration. These bodies were composed
of a number of the richest and most influential burghers, who were
styled the Twenty-four, the Forty, the Sixty or the Eighty, according
to the number fixed for any particular town. These men were appointed
for life and their successors were chosen by co-option, so that the town
corporations gradually became closed hereditary aristocracies, and the
mass of the citizens were deprived of all voice in their own affairs.
The _Schout_ or chief judge was chosen directly by the sovereign or his
stadholder, who also nominated the _Schepens_ or sheriffs from a list
containing a double number, which was submitted to him.

The reign of Philip the Good was marked by a great advance in the
material prosperity of the land. Bruges, Ghent, Ypres and Antwerp were
among the most flourishing commercial and industrial cities in the
world, and when, through the silting up of the waterway, Bruges ceased
to be a seaport, Antwerp rapidly rose to pre-eminence in her place, so
that a few decades later her wharves were crowded with shipping, and her
warehouses with goods from every part of Europe. In fact during the
whole of the Burgundian period the southern Netherlands were the richest
domain in Christendom, and continued to be so until the disastrous times
of Philip II of Spain. Meanwhile Holland and Zeeland, though unable to
compete with Brabant and Flanders in the populousness of their towns and
the extent of their trade, were provinces of growing importance. Their
strength lay in their sturdy and enterprising sea-faring population. The
Hollanders had for many years been the rivals of the Hanse Towns for the
Baltic trade. War broke out in 1438 and hostilities continued for three
years with the result that the Hanse League was beaten, and henceforth
the Hollanders were able without further let or hindrance more and more
to become the chief carriers of the "Eastland" traffic. Amsterdam was
already a flourishing port, though as yet it could make no pretension of
competing with Antwerp. The herring fisheries were, however, the staple
industry of Holland and Zeeland. The discovery of the art of curing
herrings by William Beukelsz of Biervliet (died 1447) had converted a
perishable article of food into a marketable commodity; and not only did
the fisheries give lucrative employment to many thousands of the
inhabitants of these maritime provinces, but they also became the
foundation on which was to be built their future commercial
supremacy.

The Burgundian dukes were among the most powerful rulers of their
time--the equals of kings in all but name--and they far surpassed all
contemporary sovereigns in their lavish display and the splendour of
their court. The festival at Bruges in 1430 in celebration of the
marriage of Philip the Good and Isabel of Portugal, at which the Order
of the Golden Fleece was instituted, excited universal wonder; while his
successor, Charles the Bold, contrived to surpass even his father in the
splendour of his espousals with Margaret of York in 1468, and at his
conference with the Emperor Frederick III at Trier in 1473. On this last
occasion he wore a mantle encrusted all over with diamonds.

The foundation of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1430 was an event of
great importance, as marking a step forward on the part of Philip in its
assumption of quasi-regal attributes. The title was very appropriate,
for it pointed to the wool and cloth trade as being the source of the
wealth of Flanders. The Order comprised thirty-one knights, chosen from
the flower of the Burgundian nobles and the chief councillors of the
sovereign. The statutes of the Order set forth in detail the privileges
of the members, and their duties and obligations to their prince. They
had a prescriptive claim to be consulted on all matters of importance,
to be selected for the chief government posts, and to serve on military
councils. The knights were exempt from the jurisdiction of all courts,
save that of their own chapter.

Philip died in 1467 and was succeeded by his son, Charles, who had
already exercised for some years authority in the Netherlands as his
father's deputy. Charles, as his surname _le Téméraire_ witnesses, was
a man of impulsive and autocratic temperament, but at the same time a
hard worker, a great organiser, and a brilliant soldier. Consumed with
ambition to realise that restoration of a great middle Lotharingian
kingdom stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, for which
his father had been working during his long and successful reign, he
threw himself with almost passionate energy into the accomplishment of
his task. With this object he was the first sovereign to depart from
feudal usages and to maintain a standing army. He appeared at one time
to be on the point of accomplishing his aim. Lorraine, which divided his
southern from his northern possessions, was for a short time in his
possession. Intervening in Gelderland between the Duke Arnold of
Egmont and his son Adolf, he took the latter prisoner and obtained the
duchy in pledge from the former. Uprisings in the Flemish towns against
heavy taxation and arbitrary rule were put down with a strong hand. In
September, 1474, the duke, accompanied by a splendid suite, met the
emperor Frederick III at Trier to receive the coveted crown from the
imperial hands. It was arranged that Charles' only daughter and heiress
should be betrothed to Maximilian of Austria, the emperor's eldest son,
and the very day and hour for the coronation were fixed. But the
Burgundian had an enemy in Louis XI of France, who was as prudent and
far-seeing as his rival was rash and impetuous, and who was far more
than his match in political craft and cunning. French secret agents
stirred up Frederick's suspicions against Charles' designs, and the
emperor suddenly left Trier, where he had felt humiliated by the
splendour of his powerful vassal.

The duke was furious at his disappointment, but was only the more
obstinately bent on carrying out his plans. But Louis had been meanwhile
forming a strong league (League of Constance, March 1474) of various
states threatened by Charles' ambitious projects. Duke Sigismund of
Austria, Baden, Basel, Elsass, and the Swiss Cantons united under the
leadership of France to resist them. Charles led an army of 60,000 men
to aid the Archbishop of Cologne against his subjects, but spent eleven
months in a fruitless attempt to take a small fortified town, Neuss, in
which a considerable portion of his army perished. He was compelled to
raise large sums of money from his unwilling subjects in the Netherlands
to repair his losses, and in 1475 he attacked Duke Réné of Lorraine,
captured Nancy and conquered the duchy, which had hitherto separated his
Netherland from his French possessions. It was the first step in the
accomplishment of his scheme for the restoration of the Lotharingian
kingdom. In Elsass, however, the populace had risen in insurrection
against the tyranny of the Burgundian governor, Peter van Hagenbach, and
had tried and executed him. Finding that the Swiss had aided the rebels,
Charles now, without waiting to consolidate his conquest of Lorraine,
determined to lead his army into Switzerland. At the head of a
splendidly equipped force he encountered the Confederates near Granson
(March 2, 1476) and was utterly routed, his own seal and order of the
Golden Fleece, with vast booty, falling into the hands of the victors.
A few months later, having recruited and reorganised his beaten army, he
again led them against the Swiss. The encounter took place (June 21,
1476) at Morat and once more the chivalry of Burgundy suffered complete
defeat. Charles fled from the field, half insane with rage and
disappointment, when the news that Duke Réné had reconquered Lorraine
roused him from his torpor. He hastily gathered together a fresh army
and laid siege to Nancy. But in siege operations he had no skill, and in
the depth of winter (January 5, 1477) he was attacked by the Swiss and
Lorrainers outside the walls of the town. A panic seized the
Burgundians; Charles in person in vain strove to stem their flight, and
he perished by an unknown hand. His body was found later, stripped
naked, lying frozen in a pool.

Charles left an only child, Mary, not yet twenty years of age. Mary
found herself in a most difficult and trying situation. Louis XI, the
hereditary enemy of her house, at once took possession of the duchy of
Burgundy, which by failure of heirs-male had reverted to its liege-lord.
The sovereignty of the county of Burgundy (Franche-Comté), being an
imperial fief descending in the female line, she retained; but, before
her authority had been established, Louis had succeeded in persuading
the states of the county to place themselves under a French
protectorate. French armies overran Artois, Hainault and Picardy, and
were threatening Flanders, where there was in every city a party of
French sympathisers. Gelderland welcomed the exiled duke, Adolf, as
their sovereign. Everywhere throughout the provinces the despotic rule
of Duke Charles and his heavy exactions had aroused seething discontent.
Mary was virtually a prisoner in the hands of her Flemish subjects; and,
before they consented to support her cause, there was a universal demand
for a redress of grievances. But Mary showed herself possessed of
courage and statesmanship beyond her years, and she had at this critical
moment in her step-mother, Margaret of York, an experienced and capable
adviser at her side. A meeting of the States-General was at once
summoned to Ghent. It met on February 3, 1477, Mary's 20th birthday.
Representatives came from Flanders, Brabant, Artois and Namur, in the
southern, and from Holland and Zeeland in the northern Netherlands. Mary
saw there was no course open to her but to accede to their demands. Only
eight days after the Assembly met, the charter of Netherland
liberties, called The Great Privilege, was agreed to and signed. By this
Act all previous ordinances conflicting with ancient privileges were
abolished. The newly-established Court of Appeal at Mechlin was replaced
by a Great Council of twenty-four members chosen by the sovereign from
the various states, which should advise and assist in the administration
of government. Mary undertook not to marry or to declare war without the
assent of the States-General. The States-General and the Provincial
States were to meet as often as they wished, without the summons of the
sovereign. All officials were to be native-born; no Netherlander was to
be tried by foreign judges; there were to be no forced loans, no
alterations in the coinage. All edicts or ordinances infringing
provincial rights were to be _ipso facto_ null and void. By placing her
seal to this document Mary virtually abdicated the absolute sovereign
power which had been exercised by her predecessors, and undid at a
stroke the results of their really statesmanlike efforts to create out
of a number of semi-autonomous provinces a unified State. Many of their
acts and methods had been harsh and autocratic, especially those of
Charles the Bold, but who can doubt that on the whole their policy was
wise and salutary? In Holland and Zeeland a Council was erected
consisting of a Stadholder and eight councillors (six Hollanders and two
Zeelanders) of whom two were to be nobles, the others jurists. Wolferd
van Borselen, lord of Veere, was appointed Stadholder.

The Great Privilege granted, the States willingly raised a force of
34,000 men to resist the French invasion, and adequate means for
carrying on the war. But the troubles of the youthful Mary were not yet
over. The hand of the heiress of so many rich domains was eagerly sought
for (1) by Louis of France for the dauphin, a youth of 17 years; (2) by
Maximilian of Austria to whom she had been promised in marriage; (3) by
Adolf, Duke of Gelderland, who was favoured by the States-General.
Adolf, however, was killed in battle. In Flanders there was a party who
favoured the French and actually engaged in intrigues with Louis, but
the mass of the people were intensely averse to French domination. To
such an extent was this the case that two influential officials, the
lords Hugonet and Humbercourt, on whom suspicion fell of treacherous
correspondence with the French king, were seized, tried by a special
tribunal, and, despite the tears and entreaties of the duchess, were
condemned and beheaded in the market-place of Ghent. Maximilian became
therefore the accepted suitor; and on August 19, 1477, his marriage with
Mary took place at Bruges. This marriage was to have momentous
consequences, not only for the Netherlands, but for Europe. The union
was a happy one, but, unfortunately, of brief duration. On March 29,
1482, Mary died from the effects of a fall from her horse, leaving two
children, Philip and Margaret.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER II

HABSBURG RULE IN THE NETHERLANDS


Maximilian, on the death of Mary, found himself in a very difficult
position. The archduke was a man of high-soaring ideas, chivalrous,
brave even to the point of audacity, full of expedients and never
daunted by failure, but he was deficient in stability of character, and
always hampered throughout his life by lack of funds. He had in 1477 set
himself to the task of defending Flanders and the southern provinces of
the Netherlands against French attack, and not without considerable
success. In 1482, as guardian of his four-year old son Philip, the heir
to the domains of the house of Burgundy, he became regent of the
Netherlands. His authority however was little recognised. Gelderland and
Utrecht fell away altogether. Liège acknowledged William de la Marck as
its ruler. Holland and Zeeland were torn by contending factions.
Flanders, the centre of the Burgundian power, was specially hostile to
its new governor. The burghers of Ghent refused to surrender to him his
children, Philip and Margaret, who were held as hostages to secure
themselves against any attempted infringement of their liberties. The
Flemings even entered into negotiations with Louis XI; and the archduke
found himself compelled to sign a treaty with France (December 23,
1482), one of the conditions being the betrothal of his infant daughter
to the dauphin. Maximilian, however, found that for a time he must leave
Flanders to put down the rising of the Hook faction in Holland, who,
led by Frans van Brederode, and in alliance with the anti-Burgundian
party in Utrecht, had made themselves masters of Leyden. Beaten in a
bloody fight by the regent, Brederode nevertheless managed to seize
Sluis and Rotterdam; and from these ports he and his daring
companion-in-arms, Jan van Naaldwijk, carried on a guerrilla warfare for
some years. Brederode was killed in a fight at Brouwershaven (1490), but
Sluis still held out and was not taken till two years later.

Meanwhile Maximilian had to undertake a campaign against the Flemings,
who were again in arms at the instigation of the turbulent burghers of
Ghent and Bruges. Entering the province at the head of a large force he
compelled the rebel towns to submit and obtained possession of the
person of his son Philip (July, 1485). Elected in the following year
King of the Romans, Maximilian left the Netherlands to be crowned at
Aachen (April, 1486). A war with France called him back, in the course
of which he suffered a severe defeat at Bethune. At the beginning of
1488 Ghent and Bruges once more rebelled; and the Roman king, enticed to
enter Bruges, was there seized and compelled to see his friends executed
in the market-place beneath his prison window. For seven months he was
held a prisoner; nor was he released until he had sworn to surrender his
powers, as regent, to a council of Flemings and to withdraw all his
foreign troops from the Netherlands. He was forced to give hostages as a
pledge of his good faith, among them his general, Philip of Cleef, who
presently joined his captors.

Maximilian, on arriving at the camp of the Emperor Frederick III, who
had gathered together an army to release his imprisoned son, was
persuaded to break an oath given under duress. He advanced therefore at
the head of his German mercenaries into Flanders, but was able to
achieve little success against the Flemings, who found in Philip of
Cleef an able commander. Despairing of success, he now determined to
retire into Germany, leaving Duke Albert of Saxe-Meissen, a capable and
tried soldier of fortune, as general-in-chief of his forces and
Stadholder of the Netherlands. With the coming of Duke Albert order was
at length to be restored, though not without a severe struggle.

Slowly but surely Duke Albert took town after town and reduced province
after province into submission. The Hook party in Holland and Zeeland,
and their anti-Burgundian allies in Utrecht, and Robert de la Marck in
Liège, in turn felt the force of his arm. An insurrection of the
peasants in West Friesland and Kennemerland--the "Bread and Cheese
Folk," as they were called--was easily put down. Philip of Cleef with
his Flemings was unable to make head against him; and, with the fall of
Ghent and Sluis in the summer of 1492, the duke was able to announce to
Maximilian that the Netherlands, except Gelderland, were pacified. The
treaty of Senlis in 1493 ended the war with France. In the following
year, after his accession to the imperial throne, Maximilian retired to
his ancestral dominions in Germany, and his son, Philip the Fair, took
in his hands the reins of government. The young sovereign, who was a
Netherlander by birth and had spent all his life in the country, was
more popular than his father; and his succession to the larger part of
the Burgundian inheritance was not disputed. He received the homage of
Zeeland at Roemerswaal, of Holland at Geertruidenburg, and seized the
occasion to announce the abrogation of the Great Privilege, and at the
same time restored the Grand Council at Mechlin.

In Utrecht the authority of Bishop David of Burgundy was now firmly
re-established; and on his death, Philip of Baden, an obsequious
adherent of the house of Austria, was elected. These results of the
pacification carried out so successfully by Duke Albert had, however,
left Maximilian and Philip deeply in debt to the Saxon; and there was no
money wherewith to meet the claim, which amounted to 300,000 guilders.
After many negotiations extending over several years, compensation was
found for Albert in Friesland. That unhappy province and the adjoining
territory of Groningen had for a long time been torn by internal
dissensions between the two parties, the _Schieringers_ and the
_Vetkoopers_, who were the counterparts of the Hooks and Cods of
Holland. The Schieringers called in the aid of the Saxon duke, who
brought the land into subjection. Maximilian now recognised Albert as
hereditary Podesta or governor of Friesland on condition that the House
of Austria reserved the right of redeeming the territory for 100,000
guilders; and Philip acquiesced in the bargain by which Frisian freedom
was sold in exchange for the cancelling of a debt. The struggle with
Charles of Egmont in Gelderland was not so easily terminated. Not till
1505 was Philip able to overcome this crafty and skilful adversary.
Charles was compelled to do homage and to accompany Philip to Brussels
(October, 1505). It was, however, but a brief submission. Charles made
his escape once more into Gelderland and renewed the war of
independence.

Before these events had taken place, the marriage of Philip with Juana,
the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, had brought
about a complete change in his fortunes. Maximilian, always full of
ambitious projects for the aggrandisement of his House, had planned with
Ferdinand of Aragon a double marriage between their families, prompted
by a common hatred and fear of the growing power of France. The
Archduke Philip was to wed the Infanta Juana, the second daughter of
Ferdinand and Isabel; the Infante Juan, the heir to the thrones of
Aragon and Castile, Philip's sister, Margaret. Margaret had in 1483,
aged then three years, been betrothed to the Dauphin Charles, aged
twelve, and she was brought up at the French Court, and after the death
of Louis XI (August 30, 1483) had borne the title of Queen and had lived
at Amboise with other children of the French royal house, under the care
of the Regent, Anne de Beaujeu. The marriage, however, of Charles VIII
and Margaret was never to be consummated. In August, 1488, the male line
of the Dukes of Brittany became extinct; and the hand of the heiress,
Anne of Brittany, a girl of twelve, attracted many suitors. It was
clearly a matter of supreme importance to the King of France that this
important territory should not pass by marriage into the hands of an
enemy. The Bretons, on the other hand, clung to their independence and
dreaded absorption in the unifying French state. After many intrigues
her council advised the young duchess to accept Maximilian as her
husband, and she was married to him by proxy in March, 1490. Charles
VIII immediately entered Brittany at the head of a strong force and,
despite a fierce and prolonged resistance, conquered the country, and
gained possession of Anne's person (August, 1491). The temptation was
too strong to be resisted. Margaret, after residing in France as his
affianced wife for eight years, was repudiated and finally, two years
later, sent back to the Netherlands, while Anne was compelled to break
off her marriage with Margaret's father, and became Charles' queen. This
double slight was never forgiven either by Maximilian or by Margaret,
and was the direct cause of the negotiations for the double Spanish
marriage, which, though delayed by the suspicious caution of the two
chief negotiators, Ferdinand and Maximilian, was at length arranged. In
August, 1496, an imposing fleet conveyed the Infanta Juana to Antwerp
and she was married to Philip at Lille. In the following April Margaret
and Don Juan were wedded in the cathedral of Burgos. The union was
followed by a series of catastrophes in the Spanish royal family. While
on his way with his wife to attend the marriage of his older sister
Isabel with the King of Portugal, Juan caught a malignant fever and
expired at Salamanca in October, 1497.

The newly-married Queen of Portugal now became the heiress to the crowns
of Aragon and Castile, but she died a year later and shortly afterwards
her infant son. The succession therefore passed to the younger sister,
Juana; and Philip the Fair, the heir of the House of Austria and already
through his mother the ruler of the rich Burgundian domain, became
through his wife the prospective sovereign of the Spanish kingdoms of
Ferdinand and Isabel. Fortune seemed to have reserved all her smiles for
the young prince, when on February 24, 1500, a son was born to him at
Ghent, who received the name Charles. But dark days were soon to follow.
Philip was pleasure-loving and dissolute, and he showed little affection
for his wife, who had already begun to exhibit symptoms of that weakness
of mind which was before long to develop into insanity. However in 1501,
they journeyed together to Spain, in order to secure Juana's rights to
the Castilian succession and also to that of Aragon should King
Ferdinand die without an heir-male.

In November, 1504, Isabel the Catholic had died; and Philip and his
consort at once assumed the titles of King and Queen of Castile, in
spite of the opposition of Ferdinand, who claimed the right of regency
during his life-time. Both parties were anxious to obtain the support of
Henry VII. Already since the accession of Philip the commercial
relations between England and the Netherlands had been placed on what
proved to be a permanently friendly basis by the treaty known as the
_Magnus Intercursus_ of 1496. Flanders and Brabant were dependent upon
the supply of English wool for their staple industries, Holland and
Zeeland for that freedom of fishery on which a large part of their
population was employed and subsisted. In reprisals for the support
formerly given by the Burgundian government to the house of York, Henry
had forbidden the exportation of wool and of cloth to the Netherlands,
had removed the staple from Bruges to Calais, and had withdrawn the
fishing rights enjoyed by the Hollanders since the reign of Edward I.
But this state of commercial war was ruinous to both countries; and, on
condition that Philip henceforth undertook not to allow any enemies of
the English government to reside in his dominions, a good understanding
was reached, and the _Magnus Intercursus_, which re-established
something like freedom of trade between the countries, was duly signed
in February, 1496. The treaty was solemnly renewed in 1501, but shortly
afterwards fresh difficulties arose concerning Yorkist refugees, and a
stoppage of trade was once more threatened. At this juncture a storm
drove Philip and Juana, who had set sail in January, 1506, for Spain, to
take refuge in an English harbour. For three months they were hospitably
entertained by Henry, but he did not fail to take advantage of the
situation to negotiate three treaties with his unwilling guest: (1) a
treaty of alliance, (2) a treaty of marriage with Philip's sister, the
Archduchess Margaret, already at the age of 25 a widow for the second
time, (3) a revision of the treaty of commerce of 1496, named from its
unfavourable conditions, _Malus Intercursus_. The marriage treaty came
to nothing through the absolute refusal of Margaret to accept the hand
of the English king.

Philip and Juana left England for Spain, April 23, to assume the
government of the three kingdoms, Castile, Leon and Granada, which Juana
had inherited from her mother. Owing to his wife's mental incapacity
Philip in her name exercised all the powers of sovereignty, but his
reign was very short, for he was suddenly taken ill and died at Burgos,
September 25, 1506. His hapless wife, after the birth of a posthumous
child, sank into a state of hopeless insanity and passed the rest of her
long life in confinement. Charles, the heir to so vast an inheritance,
was but six years old. The representatives of the provinces, assembled
at Mechlin (October 18), offered the regency of the Burgundian dominions
to the Emperor Maximilian; he in his turn nominated his daughter,
Margaret, to be regent in his place and guardian of his grandson during
Charles' minority, and she with the assent of the States-General took
the oath on her installation as _Mambour_ or Governor-General of the
Netherlands, March, 1507. Margaret was but 27 years of age, and for
twenty-four years she continued to administer the affairs of the
Netherlands with singular discretion, firmness and Statesmanlike
ability. The superintendence and training of the young archduke could
have been placed in no better hands. Charles, who with his three sisters
lived with his aunt at Mechlin, was thus both by birth and education a
Netherlander.

One of the first acts of Margaret was a refusal to ratify the _Malus
Intercursus_ and the revival of the _Magnus Intercursus_ of 1496. This
important commercial treaty from that time forward continued in force
for more than a century. The great difficulty that Margaret encountered
in her government was the lack of adequate financial resources. The
extensive privileges accorded to the various provinces and their mutual
jealousies and diverse interests made the task of levying taxes arduous
and often fruitless. Margaret found that the granting of supplies, even
for so necessary a purpose as the raising of troops to resist the raids
of Charles of Gelderland, aided by the French king, into Utrecht and
Holland, was refused. She fortunately possessed in a high degree those
qualities of persuasive address and sound judgment, which gave to her a
foremost place among the diplomatists and rulers of her time. Such was
the confidence that her brilliant abilities inspired that she was
deputed both by the Emperor Maximilian and by Ferdinand of Aragon to be
their plenipotentiary at the Peace Congress that assembled at Cambray in
November, 1508. Chiefly through her exertions the negotiations had a
speedy and successful issue, and the famous treaty known as the League
of Cambray was signed on December 10. By this treaty many of the
disputes concerning the rights and prerogatives of the French crown in
the Burgundian Netherlands were amicably settled; and it was arranged
that Charles of Egmont should be provisionally recognised as Duke of
Gelderland on condition that he should give up the towns in Holland that
he had captured and withdraw his troops within his own borders.

The extant correspondence between Maximilian and Margaret, which is of
the most confidential character, on matters of high policy, is a proof
of the high opinion the emperor entertained of his daughter's
intelligence and capacity. In nothing was his confidence more justified
than in the assiduous care and interest that the regent took in the
education of the Archduke Charles and his three sisters, who had been
placed in her charge. In 1515 Charles, on entering his sixteenth year,
was declared by Maximilian to be of age; Margaret accordingly handed
over to him the reins of government and withdrew for the time into
private life. Her retirement was not, however, to be of long
continuance. On January 23, 1516, King Ferdinand of Aragon died, and
Charles, who now became King of Castile and of Aragon, was obliged to
leave the Netherlands to take possession of his Spanish dominions.
Before sailing he reinstated his aunt as governess, and appointed a
council to assist her. This post she continued to hold till the day of
her death, for Charles was never again able to take up his permanent
residence in the Netherlands. During the first years after his
accession to the thrones of Ferdinand and Isabel he was much occupied
with Spanish affairs; and the death of Maximilian, January 12, 1519,
opened out to him a still wider field of ambition and activity. On June
28 Charles was elected emperor, a result which he owed in no small
degree to the diplomatic skill and activity of Margaret. Just a year
later the emperor visited the Netherlands, where Charles of Gelderland
was again giving trouble, and his presence was required both for the
purpose of dealing with the affairs of the provinces and also for
securing a grant of supply, for he was sorely in need of funds. Margaret
had at his request summoned the States-General to meet at Brussels,
where Charles personally addressed them, and explained at some length
the reasons which led him to ask his loyal and devoted Netherland
subjects for their aid on his election to the imperial dignity. The
States-General on this, as on other occasions, showed no niggardliness
in responding to the request of a sovereign who, though almost always
absent, appealed to their patriotism as a born Netherlander, who had
been brought up in their midst and spoke their tongue. Charles was
crowned at Aachen, October 23, 1520, and some three months later
presided at the famous diet of Worms, where he met Martin Luther face to
face. Before starting on his momentous journey he again appointed
Margaret regent, and gave to her Council, which he nominated, large
powers; the Council of Mechlin, the Court of Holland and other
provincial tribunals being subjected to its superior authority and
jurisdiction. By this action the privileges of the provinces were
infringed, but Charles was resolute in carrying out the centralising
policy of his ancestors, the Dukes of Burgundy, and he had the power to
enforce his will in spite of the protests that were raised. And so
under the wise and conciliatory but firm administration of Margaret
during a decade of almost continuous religious and international
strife--a decade marked by such great events as the rapid growth of the
Reformation in Germany, the defeat and capture of Francis I at Pavia,
the sack of Rome by the troops of Bourbon and the victorious advance of
the Turks in Hungary and along the eastern frontier of the empire--the
Netherland provinces remained at peace, save for the restless intrigues
of Charles of Egmont in Gelderland, and prospered. Their wealth
furnished indeed no small portion of the funds which enabled Charles to
face successfully so many adversaries and to humble the power of
France. The last important act of Margaret, like her first, was
connected with the town of Cambray. In this town, as the representative
and plenipotentiary of her nephew the emperor, she met, July, 1529,
Louise of Savoy, who had been granted similar powers by her son Francis
I, to negotiate a treaty of peace. The two princesses proved worthy of
the trust that had been placed in them, and a general treaty of peace,
often spoken of as "the Ladies' Peace," was speedily drawn up and
ratified. The conditions were highly advantageous to the interests of
Spain and the Netherlands. On November 30 of the following year Margaret
died, as the result of a slight accident to her foot which the medical
science of the day did not know how to treat properly, in the 50th year
of her age and the 24th of her regency.

Charles, who had a few months previously reached the zenith of his power
by being crowned with the iron crown of Lombardy and with the imperial
crown at the hands of Pope Clement VII at Bologna (February 22 and 24,
1530), appointed as governess in Margaret's place his sister Mary, the
widowed queen of Louis, King of Hungary, who had been slain by the Turks
at the battle of Mohacs, August 29, 1526.

Mary, who had passed her early life in the Netherlands under the care of
her aunt Margaret, proved herself in every way her worthy successor. She
possessed, like Margaret, a strong character, statesmanlike qualities
and singular capacity in the administration of affairs. She filled the
difficult post of regent for the whole period of twenty-four years
between the death of Margaret and the abdication of Charles V in 1555.
It was fortunate indeed for that great sovereign that these two eminent
women of his house should, each in turn for one half of his long reign,
have so admirably conducted the government of this important portion of
his dominions, as to leave him free for the carrying out of his
far-reaching political projects and constant military campaigns in other
lands. Two years after Mary entered upon her regency Charles appointed
three advisory and administrative bodies--the Council of State, the
Council of Finance and the Privy Council--to assist her in the
government. The Council of State dealt with questions of external and
internal policy and with the appointment of officials; the Council of
Finance with the care of the revenue and private domains of the
sovereign; to the Privy Council were entrusted the publication of edicts
and "placards," and the care of justice and police.

When Charles succeeded Philip the Fair only a portion of the Netherlands
was subject to his sway. With steady persistence he set himself to the
task of bringing all the seventeen provinces under one sovereign. In
1515 George of Saxe-Meissen sold to him his rights over Friesland. Henry
of Bavaria, who in opposition to his wishes had been elected Bishop of
Utrecht, was compelled (1528) to cede to him the temporalities of the
see, retaining the spiritual office only. Charles thus added the Upper
and Lower _Sticht_--Utrecht and Overyssel--to his dominions. He made
himself (1536) master of Groningen and Drente after a long and obstinate
struggle with Charles of Gelderland, and seven years later he forced
Charles' successor, William of Jülich and Cleves, to renounce in his
favour his claims to Gelderland and Zutphen. During the reign of Charles
V the States-General were summoned many times, chiefly for the purpose
of voting subsidies, but it was only on special and solemn occasions,
that the representatives of all the seventeen provinces were present, as
for instance when Philip received their homage in 1549 and when Charles
V announced his abdication in 1555. The names of the seventeen provinces
summoned on these occasions were Brabant, Limburg, Luxemburg,
Gelderland, Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Artois, Hainault, Namur, Lille
with Douay and Orchies, Tournay and district, Mechlin, Friesland,
Utrecht, Overyssel with Drente and Groningen. The bishopric of Liège,
though nominally independent, was under the strict control of the
government at Brussels. The relations of Charles' Burgundian domains
to the empire were a matter of no small moment, and he was able to
regulate them in a manner satisfactory to himself. Several times during
his reign tentative attempts were made to define those relations, which
were of a very loose kind. The fact that the head of the house of
Habsburg was himself emperor had not made him any less determined than
the Burgundian sovereigns, his ancestors, to assert for his Netherland
territories a virtual independence of imperial control or obligation.
The various states of which the Netherlands were composed were as much
opposed as the central government at Brussels to any recognition of the
claims of the empire; and both Margaret of Austria and Mary of Hungary
ventured to refuse to send representatives to the imperial diets, even
when requested to do so by the emperor. At last in 1548, when all the
Netherland provinces had been brought under the direct dominion or
control of one sovereign prince, a convention was drawn up at the diet
of Augsburg, chiefly by the exertions of the Regent Mary and her tried
councillors Viglius and Granvelle, by which the unity of the Netherland
territories was recognised and they were freed from imperial
jurisdiction. Nominally, they formed a circle of the empire,--the
Burgundian circle--and representatives of the circle were supposed to
appear at the diets and to bear a certain share of imperial taxation in
return for the right to the protection of the empire against attacks by
France. As a matter of fact, no representatives were ever sent and no
subsidy was paid, nor was the protection of the empire ever sought or
given.

This convention, which in reality severed the shadowy links which had
hitherto bound the Netherlands to the empire, received the sanction of
the States-General in October, 1548; and it was followed by the issuing,
with the consent of the Estates of the various provinces, of a
"Pragmatic Sanction" by which the inherited right of succession to the
sovereignty in each and every province was settled upon the male and
female line of Charles' descendants, notwithstanding the existence of
ancient provincial privileges to the contrary. In 1549 the emperor's
only son Philip was acknowledged by all the Estates as their future
sovereign, and made a journey through the land to receive homage.

The doctrines of the Reformation had early obtained a footing in
various parts of the Netherlands. At first it was the teaching of Luther
and of Zwingli which gained adherents. Somewhat later the Anabaptist
movement made great headway in Holland and Friesland, especially in
Amsterdam. The chief leaders of the Anabaptists were natives of Holland,
including the famous or infamous John of Leyden, who with some thousands
of these fanatical sectaries perished at Münster in 1535. Between 1537
and 1543 a more moderate form of Anabaptist teaching made rapid progress
through the preaching of a certain Menno Simonszoon. The followers of
this man were called Mennonites. Meanwhile Lutheranism and Zwinglianism
were in many parts of the country being supplanted by the sterner
doctrines of Calvin. All these movements were viewed by the emperor
with growing anxiety and detestation. Whatever compromises with the
Reformation he might be compelled to make in Germany, he was determined
to extirpate heresy from his hereditary dominions. He issued a strong
placard soon after the diet of Worms in 1521 condemning Luther and his
opinions and forbidding the printing or sale of any of the reformer's
writings; and between that date and 1555 a dozen other edicts and
placards were issued of increasing stringency. The most severe was the
so-called "blood-placard" of 1550. This enacted the sentence of death
against all convicted of heresy--the men to be executed with the sword
and the women buried alive; in cases of obstinacy both men and women
were to be burnt. Terribly harsh as were these edicts, it is doubtful
whether the number of those who Suffered the extreme penalty has not
been greatly exaggerated by partisan writers. Of the thousands who
perished, by far the greater part were Anabaptists; and these met their
fate rather as enemies of the state and of society, than as heretics.
They were political as well as religious anarchists.

In the time of Charles the trade and industries of the Netherlands were
in a highly prosperous state. The Burgundian provinces under the wise
administrations of Margaret and Mary, and protected by the strong arm of
the emperor from foreign attack, were at this period by far the richest
state in Europe and the financial mainstay of the Habsburg power.
Bruges, however, had now ceased to be the central market and exchange of
Europe, owing to the silting up of the river Zwijn. It was no longer a
port, and its place had been taken by Antwerp. At the close of the reign
of Charles, Antwerp, with its magnificent harbour on the Scheldt, had
become the "counting-house" of the nations, the greatest port and the
wealthiest and most luxurious city in the world. Agents of the principal
bankers and merchants of every country had their offices within its
walls. It has been estimated that, inclusive of the many foreigners who
made the town their temporary abode, the population of Antwerp in 1560
was about 150,000. Five hundred vessels sailed in and out of her harbour
daily, and five times that number were to be seen thronging her wharves
at the same time.

To the north of the Scheldt the condition of things was not less
satisfactory than in the south, particularly in Holland. The commercial
prosperity of Holland was in most respects different in kind from that
of Flanders and Brabant, and during the period with which we are dealing
had been making rapid advances, but on independent lines. A manufactory
of the coarser kinds of cloth, established at Leyden, had indeed for a
time met with a considerable measure of success, but had fallen into
decline in the time of Mary of Hungary. The nature of his country led
the Hollander to be either a sailor or a dairy-farmer, not an artisan or
operative. Akin though he was in race to the Fleming and the Brabanter,
his instincts led him by the force of circumstances to turn his energies
in other directions. Subsequent history has but emphasised the
fact--which from the fourteenth century onwards is clearly evident--that
the people who inhabited the low-lying sea-girt lands of dyke, canal and
polder in Holland and Zeeland were distinct in character and temper from
the citizens of Bruges, Ghent, Ypres, Brussels or Mechlin, who were
essentially landsmen and artisans. Ever since the discovery of the art
of curing herrings (ascribed to William Beukelsz), the herring fishery
had acquired a great importance to the Hollanders and Zeelanders, and
formed the chief livelihood of a large part of the entire population of
those provinces; and many thousands, who did not themselves sail in the
fishing fleets, found employment in the ship and boat-building wharves
and in the making of sails, cordage, nets and other tackle. It was in
this hazardous occupation that the hardy race of skilled and seasoned
seamen, who were destined to play so decisive a part in the coming wars
of independence, had their early training. The herring harvest, through
the careful and scientific methods that were employed in curing the
fish and packing them in barrels, became a durable and much sought for
article of commerce. A small portion of the catch served as a supply of
food for home consumption, the great bulk in its thousands of barrels
was a marketable commodity, and the distribution of the cured herring to
distant ports became a lucrative business. It had two important
consequences, the formation of a Dutch Mercantile Marine, and the growth
of Amsterdam, which from small beginnings had in the middle of the
sixteenth century become a town with 40,000 inhabitants and a port
second only in importance in the Netherlands to Antwerp. From its
harbour at the confluence of the estuary of the Y with the Zuyder Zee
ships owned and manned by Hollanders sailed along the coasts of France
and Spain to bring home the salt for curing purposes and with it wines
and other southern products, while year by year a still larger and
increasing number entered the Baltic. In those eastern waters they
competed with the German Hanseatic cities, with whom they had many
acrimonious disputes, and with such success that the Hollanders
gradually monopolised the traffic in grain, hemp and other "Eastland"
commodities and became practically the freight-carriers of the Baltic.
And be it remembered that they were able to achieve this because many of
the North-Netherland towns were themselves members of the Hanse League,
and possessed therefore the same rights and privileges commercially as
their rivals, Hamburg, Lübeck or Danzig. The great industrial cities of
Flanders and Brabant, on the other hand, not being members of the League
nor having any mercantile marine of their own, were content to transact
business with the foreign agents of the Hanse towns, who had their
counting-houses at Antwerp. It will thus be seen that in the middle of
the sixteenth century the trade of the northern provinces, though as yet
not to be compared in volume to that of the Flemings and Walloons, had
before it an opening field for enterprise and energy rich in
possibilities and promise for the future.

Such was the state of affairs political, religious and economical when
in the year 1555 the Emperor Charles V, prematurely aged by the heavy
burden of forty years of world-wide sovereignty, worn out by constant
campaigns and weary of the cares of state, announced his intention of
abdicating and retiring into a monastery. On October 25, 1555, the act
of abdication was solemnly and with impressive ceremonial carried out
in the presence of the representatives of the seventeen provinces of the
Netherlands specially summoned to meet their sovereign for the last time
in the Great Hall of the Palace at Brussels. Charles took an affecting
farewell of his Netherland subjects and concluded by asking them to
exhibit the same regard and loyalty to his son Philip as they had always
displayed to himself. Much feeling was shown, for Charles, despite the
many and varied calls and duties which had prevented him from residing
for any length of time in the Netherlands, had always been at pains to
manifest a special interest in the country of his birth. The Netherlands
were to him throughout life his homeland and its people looked upon him
as a fellow-countryman, and not even the constant demands that Charles
had made for financial aid nor the stern edicts against heresy had
estranged them from him. The abdication was the more regretted because
at the same time Mary of Hungary laid down her office as regent, the
arduous duties of which she had so long and so ably discharged. On the
following day, October 26, the Knights of the Golden Fleece, the members
of the Councils and the deputies of the provinces took the oath of
allegiance to Philip, the emperor's only son and heir; and Philip on his
side solemnly undertook to maintain unimpaired the ancient rights and
privileges of the several provinces.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER III

THE PRELUDE TO THE REVOLT


Philip at the time of his accession to the sovereignty of the
Netherlands was already King of Naples and Sicily, and Duke of Milan,
and, by his marriage in 1554 to Mary Tudor, King-consort of England, in
which country he was residing when summoned by his father to assist at
the abdication ceremony at Brussels. A few months later (January 16,
1556) by a further act of abdication on the part of Charles V he became
King of Castile and Aragon. It was a tremendous inheritance, and there
is no reason to doubt that Philip entered upon his task with a deep
sense that he had a mission to fulfil and with a self-sacrificing
determination to spare himself no personal labour in the discharge of
his duties. But though he bore to his father a certain physical
likeness, Philip in character and disposition was almost his antithesis.
Silent, reserved, inaccessible, Philip had none of the restless energy
or the geniality of Charles, and was as slow and undecided in action as
he was bigoted in his opinions and unscrupulous in his determination to
compass his ends. He found himself on his accession to power faced with
many difficulties, for the treasury was not merely empty, it was
burdened with debt. Through lack of means he was compelled to patch up
a temporary peace (February 5, 1556) with the French king at Vaucelles,
and to take steps to reorganise his finances.

One of Philip's first acts was the appointment of Emmanuel Philibert,
Duke of Savoy, to the post vacated by his aunt Mary; but it was a
position, as long as the king remained in the Netherlands, of small
responsibility. Early in 1556 he summoned the States-General to Brussels
and asked for a grant of 1,300,000 florins. The taxes proposed were
disapproved by the principal provinces and eventually refused. Philip
was very much annoyed, but was compelled to modify his proposals and
accept what was offered by the delegates. There was indeed from the very
outset no love lost between the new ruler and his Netherland subjects.
Philip had spent nearly all his life in Spain, where he had received
his education and early training, and he had grown up to manhood, in the
narrowest sense of the word, a Spaniard. He was as unfamiliar with the
laws, customs and privileges of the several provinces of his Netherland
dominions as he was with the language of their peoples. He spoke and
wrote only Castilian correctly, and during his four years' residence at
Brussels he remained coldly and haughtily aloof, a foreigner and alien
in a land where he never felt at home. Philip at the beginning of his
reign honestly endeavoured to follow in his father's steps and to carry
out his policy; but acts, which the great emperor with his conciliatory
address and Flemish sympathies could venture upon with impunity, became
suspect and questionable when attempted by the son. Philip made the
great mistake of taking into his private confidence only foreign
advisers, chief among whom was Anthony Perrenot de Granvelle, Bishop of
Arras, a Burgundian by birth, the son of Nicholas Perrenot, who for
thirty years had been the trusted counsellor of Charles V.

The opening of Philip's reign was marked by signal military successes.
War broke out afresh with France, after a brief truce, in 1557. The
French arms however sustained two crushing reverses at St Quentin,
August 10, 1557, and at Gravelines, July 13, 1558. Lamoral, Count of
Egmont, who commanded the cavalry, was the chief agent in winning these
victories. By the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis peace was concluded, in
which the French made many concessions, but were allowed to retain, at
the cost of Philip's ally, the town of Calais which had been captured
from the English by a surprise attack in 1558. By the death of Queen
Mary, which was said to have been hastened by the news of the loss of
Calais, Philip's relations with England were entirely changed, and one
of the reasons for a continuance of his residence in the Netherlands was
removed. Peace with France therefore was no sooner assured than Philip
determined to return to Spain, where his presence was required. He chose
his half-sister Margaret, Duchess of Parma, to be regent in place of the
Duke of Savoy. In July he summoned the Chapter of the Order of the
Golden Fleece--destined to be the last that was ever held--to Ghent in
order to announce his intended departure. A little later the
States-General were called together, also at Ghent, for a solemn
leave-taking. On August 26, Philip embarked at Flushing, and quitted the
Netherlands, never again to return.

Philip's choice of Margaret as governess-general was a happy one. She
was a natural daughter of Charles V. Her mother was a Fleming, and she
had been brought up under the care of her aunts, Margaret of Austria and
Mary of Hungary. She resembled those able rulers in being a woman of
strong character and statesmanlike qualities, and no doubt she would
have been as successful in her administration had she had the same
opportunities and the same freedom of action as her predecessors.
Philip, however, though henceforth he passed the whole of his life in
Spain, had no intention of loosening in any way his grasp of the reins
of power or of delegating any share of his sovereign authority. On his
return to Madrid he showed plainly that he meant to treat the Netherland
provinces as if they were dependencies of the Spanish crown, and he
required from Margaret and her advisers that all the details of policy,
legislation and administration should be submitted to him for
supervision and sanction. This necessitated the writing of voluminous
despatches and entailed with a man of his habits of indecision
interminable delays. Margaret moreover was instructed that in all
matters she must be guided by the advice of her three councils. By far
the most important of the three was the Council Of State, which at this
time consisted of five members--Anthony Granvelle, Bishop of Arras;
Baron de Barlaymont; Viglius van Zwychem van Aytta; Lamoral, Count of
Egmont; and William, Prince of Orange. Barlaymont was likewise
president of the Council of Finance and Viglius president of the Privy
Council. By far the most important member of the Council of State, as he
was much the ablest, was the Bishop of Arras; and he, with Barlaymont
and Viglius, formed an inner confidential council from whom alone the
regent asked advice. The members of this inner council, nicknamed the
_Consulta_, were all devoted to the interests of Philip. Egmont and
Orange, because of their great influence and popularity with the people,
were allowed to be nominally Councillors of State, but they were rarely
consulted and were practically shut out from confidential access to the
regent. It is no wonder that both were discontented with their position
and soon showed openly their dissatisfaction.

Egmont, a man of showy rather than of solid qualities, held in 1559 the
important posts of Stadholder of Flanders and Artois. The Prince of
Orange was the eldest of the five sons of William, Count of
Nassau-Dillenburg, head of the younger or German branch of the famous
house of Nassau. Members of the elder or Netherland branch had for
several generations rendered distinguished services to their Burgundian
and Habsburg sovereigns. This elder branch became extinct in the person
of Réné, the son of Henry of Nassau, one of Charles V's most trusted
friends and advisers, by Claude, sister of Philibert, Prince of
Orange-Châlons. Philibert being childless bequeathed his small
principality to Réné; and Réné in his turn, being killed at the siege of
St Dizier in 1544, left by will all his possessions to his cousin
William, who thus became Prince of Orange. His parents were Lutherans,
but Charles insisted that William, at that time eleven years of age,
should be brought up as a Catholic at the Court of Mary of Hungary. Here
he became a great favourite of the emperor, who in 1550 conferred on him
the hand of a great heiress, Anne of Egmont, only child of the Count of
Buren. Anne died in 1558, leaving two children, a son, Philip William,
and a daughter. At the ceremony of the abdication in 1555, Charles
entered the hall leaning on the shoulder of William, on whom, despite
his youth, he had already bestowed an important command. Philip likewise
specially recognised William's ability and gave evidence of his
confidence in him by appointing him one of the plenipotentiaries to
conclude with France the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559. He had also
made him a Knight of the Golden Fleece, a Councillor of State and
Stadholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Burgundy (Franche-Comté).
Nevertheless there arose between Philip and Orange a growing feeling of
distrust and dislike, with the result that William speedily found
himself at the head of a patriotic opposition to any attempts of the
Spanish king to govern the Netherlands by Spanish methods. The presence
of a large body of Spanish troops in the country aroused the suspicion
that Philip intended to use them, if necessary, to support him in
overriding by force the liberties and privileges of the provinces. It
was largely owing to the influence of Orange that the States-General in
1559 refused to vote the grant of supplies for which Philip had asked,
unless he promised that all foreign troops should be withdrawn from the
Netherlands. The king was much incensed at such a humiliating rebuff and
is reported, when on the point of embarking at Flushing, to have charged
William with being the man who had instigated the States thus to thwart
him.

Thus, when Margaret of Parma entered upon her duties as regent, she
found that there was a feeling of deep dissatisfaction and general
irritation in the provinces; and this was accentuated as soon as it was
found that, though Philip had departed, his policy remained. The spirit
of the absent king from his distant cabinet in Madrid brooded, as it
were, over the land. It was soon seen that Margaret, whatever her
statesmanlike qualities or natural inclination might be, had no real
authority, nor was she permitted to take any steps or to initiate any
policy without the advice and approval of the three confidential
councillors placed at her side by Philip--Granvelle, Viglius and
Barlaymont. Of these Granvelle, both by reason of his conspicuous
abilities and of his being admitted more freely than anyone else into
the inner counsels of a sovereign, as secretive in his methods as he was
suspicious and distrustful of his agents, held the foremost position and
drew upon himself the odium of a policy with which, though it was
dictated from Spain, his name was identified.

Orange and Egmont, with whom were joined a number of other leading
nobles (among these Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn, his brother
the lord of Montigny, the Counts of Meghem and Hoogstraeten and the
Marquis of Berghen), little by little adopted an attitude of increasing
hostility to this policy, which they regarded as anti-national and
tending to the establishment of a foreign despotism in the Netherlands.

The continued presence of the Spanish troops, the severe measures that
were being taken for the suppression of heresy, and a proposal for the
erection of a number of new bishoprics, aroused popular discontent and
suspicion. Orange and Egmont, finding that they were never consulted
except on matters of routine, wrote to Philip (July, 1561) stating that
they found that their attendance at the meetings of the Council of State
was useless and asked to be allowed to resign their posts. Meanwhile,
feeling that the presence of the Spanish troops was a source of weakness
rather than of strength, Margaret and Granvelle were urging upon the
king the necessity of their withdrawal. Neither the nobles nor the
regent succeeded in obtaining any satisfactory response. Orange and
Egmont accordingly absented themselves from the Council, and Margaret
ventured on her own authority to send away the Spanish regiments.

The question of the bishoprics was more serious. It was not a new
question. The episcopal organisation in the Netherlands was admittedly
inadequate. It had long been the intention of Charles V to create a
number of new sees, but in his crowded life he had never found the
opportunity of carrying out the proposed scheme, and it was one of the
legacies that at his abdication he handed on to his son. One of the
first steps taken by Philip was to obtain a Bull from Pope Paul IV for
the creation of the new bishoprics, and this Bull was renewed and
confirmed by Pius IV, January, 1560. Up to this time the entire area of
the seventeen provinces had been divided into three unwieldy
dioceses--Utrecht, Arras and Tournay. The See of Utrecht comprised
nearly the whole of the modern kingdom of the Netherlands. Nor was there
any archiepiscopal see. The metropolitical jurisdiction was exercised by
the three foreign Archbishops of Cologne, Rheims and Treves. Philip now
divided the land into fourteen dioceses (Charles had proposed six) with
three Metropolitans at Mechlin, Utrecht and 'sHertogenbosch[3].
Granvelle, who had obtained the Cardinal's hat, February, 1561, was
appointed Archbishop of Mechlin, and by virtue of this office Primate of
the Netherlands, December, 1561. This new organisation was not carried
out without arousing widespread opposition.

The existing bishops resented the diminution of their jurisdiction and
dignity, and still louder were the protests of the abbots, whose
endowments were appropriated to furnish the incomes of the new sees.
Still more formidable was the hostility of the people generally, a
hostility founded on fear, for the introduction of so many new bishops
nominated by the king was looked upon as being the first step to prepare
the way for the bringing in of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition. Already
the edicts against heretics, which Charles V had enacted and severely
enforced, were being carried out throughout the length and breadth of
the land with increasing and merciless barbarity. Both papal and
episcopal inquisitors were active in the work of persecution, and so
many were the sentences that in many places the civil authorities, and
even some of the stadholders, declined to carry out the executions.
Public opinion looked upon Granvelle as the author of the new bishoprics
scheme and the instigator of the increased activity of the persecutors.
He was accused of being eager to take any measures to repress the
ancient liberties of the Netherland provinces and to establish a
centralised system of absolute rule, in order to ingratiate himself with
the king and so to secure his own advancement. That the cardinal was
ambitious of power there can be no question. But to men of Granvelle's
great abilities, as administrator and statesman, ambition is not
necessarily a fault; and access to the secret records and correspondence
of the time has revealed that the part played by him was far from being
so sinister as was believed. The Bishop of Arras was not consulted about
the bishoprics proposal until after the Papal Bull had been secured, and
at first he was unfavourable to it and was not anxious to become
archbishop and primate. It was his advice which led Margaret to send
away the hated Spanish regiments from Netherland soil; and, far from
being naturally a relentless persecutor, there is proof that neither he
nor the president of the Privy Council, the jurist Viglius, believed in
the policy of harsh and brutal methods for stamping out heretical
opinions. They had in this as in other matters to obey their master, and
allow the odium to fall upon themselves.

To Orange and Egmont, the two leaders of the opposition to Granvelle, a
third name, that of Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn and Admiral of
Flanders, has now to be added. These three worked together for the
overthrow of the Cardinal, but their opposition at this time was based
rather on political than on religious grounds. They all professed the
Catholic faith, but the marriage of Orange in August, 1561, with a
Lutheran, Anne daughter of Maurice of Saxony and granddaughter of
Philip of Hesse, was ominous of coming change in William's religious
opinions. In 1562 the discontent of the nobles led to the formation of a
league against the cardinal, of which, in addition to the three leaders,
the Counts of Brederode, Mansfeld and Hoogstraeten were the principal
members. This league, of which Orange was the brain and moving spirit,
had as its chief aim the removal of Granvelle from office, and then
redress of grievances. It found widespread support. The cardinal was
assailed by a torrent of lampoons and pasquinades of the bitterest
description. But, though Margaret began to see that the unpopularity of
the minister was undermining her position, and was rendering for her the
task of government more and more difficult, Philip was obdurate and
closed his ears. The long distance between Madrid and Brussels and the
procrastinating habits of the Spanish king added immensely to the
regent's perplexities. She could not act on her own initiative, and her
appeals to Philip were either disregarded or after long delay met by
evasive replies.

The discontented nobles in vain tried to obtain redress for their
grievances. In the autumn of 1562 Montigny was sent on a special mission
to Madrid, but returned without effecting anything. Orange, Egmont and
Hoorn thereupon drew up a joint letter containing a bold demand for the
dismissal of Granvelle, as the chief cause of all the troubles in the
land. The king replied by asking that one of them should go in person to
Spain to discuss the grievances with him, and suggesting that Egmont
should be sent. Egmont however was averse to the proposal, and another
and stronger letter signed by the three leaders was despatched to
Madrid. Finding that both Margaret and Granvelle himself were in
agreement with Orange, Egmont and Hoorn in their view of the situation,
Margaret advising, with the cardinal's acquiescence, the necessity of
the minister's removal from his post, Philip determined at last that
Granvelle should leave the Netherlands. But in accordance with the
counsel of Alva, who was opposed on principle to any concession, he
characteristically employed circuitous and clandestine means to conceal
from the world any appearance of yielding to the request of his
subjects. In January, 1564 he sent a letter to the Duchess of Parma
expressing his displeasure at the lords' letter, and saying that they
must substantiate their complaints. The same messenger (Armenteros, the
duchess' secretary) carried another letter for Granvelle headed
"secret," in which the cardinal was told that "owing to the strong
feeling that had been aroused against him, he was to ask permission from
the regent to go away for a short time to visit his mother." About a
week after these letters had reached their destination another courier
brought a reply to the three nobles, which, though written on the same
day as the others, bore a date three weeks later, in which they were
bidden to take their places again in the Council of State, and a promise
was given that the charges against Granvelle after substantiation should
be maturely considered. This letter was delivered on March 1, after
Granvelle had already, in obedience to the king's orders, asked for
leave of absence to visit his mother in Franche-Comté. The cardinal
actually left Brussels on March 13, to the great joy of every class of
the people, never to return.

With the departure of Granvelle, the nobles once more took their seats
on the Council of State. The _Consulta_ disappeared, and the regent
herself appeared to be relieved and to welcome the disappearance of the
man whose authority had overshadowed her own. But the change, though it
placed large powers of administration and of patronage in the hands of
Netherlanders instead of foreigners, did not by any means introduce
purer methods of government. Many of the nobles were heavily in debt;
most of them were self-seeking; offices and emoluments were eagerly
sought for, and were even put up for sale. Armenteros, Margaret's
private secretary (to whom the nickname of _Argenteros_ was given), was
the leading spirit in this disgraceful traffic, and enriched himself by
the acceptance of bribes for the nomination to preferments. It was an
unedifying state of things; and public opinion was not long in
expressing its discontent with such an exhibition of widespread venality
and greed. All this was duly reported to Philip by Granvelle, who
continued, in his retirement, to keep himself well informed of all that
was going on.

Meanwhile by the efforts of Orange, Egmont and Hoorn, chiefly of the
former, proposals of reform were being urged for the strengthening of
the powers of the Council of State, for the reorganisation of finance,
and for the more moderate execution of the placards against heresy.
While discussion concerning these matters was in progress, came an order
from Philip (August, 1564) for the enforcing of the decrees of the
recently concluded Council of Trent. This at once aroused protest and
opposition. It was denounced as an infringement of the fundamental
privileges of the provinces. Philip's instructions however were
peremptory. In these circumstances it was resolved by the Council of
State to despatch Egmont on a special mission to Madrid to explain to
the king in person the condition of affairs in the Netherlands. Egmont
having expressed his willingness to go, instructions were drawn up for
him by Viglius. When these were read at a meeting of the council
convened for the purpose, Orange in a long and eloquent speech boldly
expressed his dissent from much that Viglius had written, and wished
that Philip should be plainly told that it was impossible to enforce the
decrees and that the severity of religious persecution must be
moderated. The council determined to revise the instructions on the
lines suggested by Orange, whose words had such an effect upon the
aged Viglius, that he had that very night a stroke of apoplexy, which
proved fatal.

Egmont set out for Spain, January 15, 1565, and on his arrival was
received by Philip with extreme courtesy and graciousness. He was
entertained splendidly; presents were made to him, which, being
considerably in debt, he gladly accepted; but as regards his mission he
was put off with evasions and blandishments, and he returned home with a
reply from the king containing some vague promises of reform in
financial and other matters, but an absolute refusal to modify the
decrees against heresy. Rather would he sacrifice a hundred thousand
lives, if he had them, than concede liberty of worship in any form. For
some months however no attempt was made to carry out active
persecutions; and the regent meanwhile did her utmost to place before
the king urgent reasons for the modification of his policy, owing to the
angry spirit of unrest and suspicion which was arising in the provinces.
She begged Philip to visit the Netherlands and acquaint himself
personally with the difficulties of a situation which, unless her advice
were taken, would rapidly grow worse and pass beyond her control. Philip
however was deaf alike to remonstrance or entreaty. On November 5, 1565,
a royal despatch reached Brussels in which the strictest orders were
renewed for the promulgation throughout the provinces of the decrees of
the Council of Trent and for the execution of the placards against
heretics, while the proposals that had been made for an extension of the
powers of the Council of State and for the summoning of the
States-General were refused. As soon as these fateful decisions were
known, and the Inquisition began to set about its fell work in real
earnest, the popular indignation knew no bounds. A large number of the
magistrates refused to take any part in the cruel persecution that
arose, following the example of Orange, Egmont, Berghen and others of
the stadholders and leading nobles. A strong spirit of opposition to
arbitrary and foreign rule arose and found expression in the action
taken by a large number of the members of the so-called "lesser
nobility." Many of these had come to Brussels, and at a meeting at the
house of the Count of Culemburg the formation of a league to resist
arbitrary rule was proposed. The leaders were Lewis of Nassau, brother
of the Prince of Orange, Nicolas de Harnes, Philip de Marnix, lord of
Sainte Aldegonde, and Henry, Viscount of Brederode. Other meetings
were held, and a document embodying the principles and demands of the
Confederates was drawn up, known as _the Compromise_, which was widely
distributed among the nobles and quickly obtained large and constantly
increasing support. The signatories of the Compromise, while professing
themselves to be faithful and loyal subjects of the king, denounced the
Inquisition in its every form "as being unjust and contrary to all laws
human and divine"; and they pledged themselves to stand by one another
in resisting its introduction into the Netherlands and in preventing the
carrying-out of the placards against heresy, while at the same time
undertaking to maintain the royal authority and public peace in the
land.

At first the great nobles stood aloof, doubtful what course to pursue.
At the instigation of Orange conferences were held, at which, by his
advice, a petition or _Request_, setting forth the grievances and asking
for redress, should be made in writing for presentation to the regent.
The original draft of this document was the work of Lewis of Nassau.
These conferences, however, revealed that there was a considerable
divergence of views among the leading nobles. Egmont and Meghem were
indeed so alarmed at the character of the movement, which seemed to them
to savour of treason, that they separated themselves henceforth from
Orange and Hoorn and openly took the side of the government. The duchess
after some demur agreed to receive the petition. A body of confederates
under the leadership of Brederode and Lewis of Nassau marched to the
palace, where they were received by Margaret in person. The petitioners
asked the regent to send an envoy to Madrid to lay before the king the
state of feeling among his loyal subjects in the Netherlands, praying
him to withdraw the Inquisition and moderate the placards against
heresy, and meanwhile by her own authority to suspend them until the
king's answer had been received. The regent replied that she had no
power to suspend the Inquisition or the placards, but would undertake,
while awaiting the royal reply, to mitigate their operation.

On the last day of their stay at Brussels, April 8, the confederates
under the presidency of Brederode, to the number of about three hundred,
dined together at the Hotel Culemburg. In the course of the meal
Brederode drew the attention of the company now somewhat excited with
wine to a contemptuous phrase attributed by common report to Barlaymont.
Margaret was somewhat perturbed at the formidable numbers of the
deputation, as it entered the palace court, and it was said that
Barlaymont remarked that "these beggars" (_ces gueux_) need cause her no
fear. Brederode declared that he had no objection to the name and was
quite willing to be "a beggar" in the cause of his country and his king.
It was destined to be a name famous in history. Immediately loud cries
arose from the assembled guests, until the great hall echoed with the
shouts of _Vivent les Gueux_. From this date onwards the confederates
were known as "les gueux," and they adopted a coarse grey dress with the
symbols of beggarhood--the wallet and the bowl--worn as the _insignia_
of their league. It was the beginning of a popular movement, which made
rapid headway among all classes. A medal was likewise struck, which bore
on one side the head of the king, on the other two clasped hands with
the inscription--_Fidèles au roy jusques à la besace_.

Thus was the opposition to the tyrannical measures of the government
organising itself in the spring of 1566. It is a great mistake to
suppose that the majority of those who signed "the Compromise" or
presented "the Request" were disloyal to their sovereign or converts to
the reformed faith. Among those who denounced the methods of the
Inquisition and of the Blood Placards were a large number, who without
ceasing to be Catholics, had been disillusioned by the abuses which had
crept into the Roman Church, desired their removal only to a less degree
than the Protestants themselves, and had no sympathy with the terrible
and remorseless persecution on Spanish lines, which sought to crush out
all liberty of thought and all efforts of religious reform by the stake
and the sword of the executioner. Nevertheless this league of the nobles
gave encouragement to the sectaries and was the signal for a great
increase in the number and activity of the Calvinist and Zwinglian
preachers, who flocked into the land from the neighbouring countries.
Such was the boldness of these preachers that, instead of being
contented with secret meetings, they began to hold their conventicles in
the fields or in the outskirts of the towns. Crowds of people thronged
to hear them, and the authority of the magistrates was defied and
flouted. The regent was in despair. Shortly after the presentation of
the Request it was determined by the advice of the council to send
special envoys to lay before the king once more the serious state of
things. The Marquis of Berghen and Baron Montigny consented with some
demur to undertake the mission, but for various reasons they did not
reach Madrid till some two months later. They were received with
apparent courtesy, and after several conferences the king, on July 31,
despatched a letter to Margaret in which he undertook to do away with
the Papal Inquisition and offered to allow such moderation of the
Placards as did not imply any recognition of heretical opinions or any
injury to the Catholic faith. He refused to consent to the meeting of
the States, but he sent letters couched in most friendly terms to Orange
and Egmont appealing to their loyalty and asking them to support the
regent by their advice and influence. These demonstrations of a
conciliatory temper were however mere temporising. He was playing false.
A document is in existence, dated August 9, in which Philip states that
these concessions had been extorted from him against his will and that
he did not regard himself as bound by them, and he informed the Pope
that the abolition of the Papal Inquisition was a mere form of words.

Meanwhile events were moving fast in the Netherlands. The open-air
preachings were attended by thousands; and at Antwerp, which was one of
the chief centres of Calvinism, disorders broke out, and armed conflicts
were feared. Orange himself, as burgrave of Antwerp, at the request of
the duchess visited the town and with the aid of Brederode and Meghem
succeeded in effecting a compromise between the Catholic and Protestant
parties. The latter were allowed to hold their preachings undisturbed,
so long as they met outside and not within the city walls. The regent
in her alarm was even driven to make overtures to the confederates to
assist her in the maintenance of order. There was much parleying, in
which Orange and Egmont took part; and in July an assembly of the
signatories of the Compromise was called together at St Trond in the
district of Liège. Some two thousand were present, presided over by
Lewis of Nassau. It was resolved to send twelve delegates to Margaret to
lay before her the necessity of finding a remedy for the evils which
were afflicting and disturbing the land. They offered to consult with
Orange and Egmont as to the best means by which they could work together
for the country's good, but hinting that, if no redress was given, they
might be forced to look for foreign aid. Indeed this was no empty
threat, for Lewis had already been in communication with the Protestant
leaders both in France and in the Rhinelands, as to the terms on which
they would furnish armed assistance; and Orange was probably not
altogether in ignorance of the fact. The regent was angry at the tone of
the delegates, whom she received on July 26, but in her present
impotence thought it best to dissemble. She promised to give
consideration to the petition, and summoned a meeting of the Knights of
the Golden Fleece to meet at Brussels on August 18, when she would
decide upon her answer. But, when that date arrived, other and more
pressing reasons than the advice of counsellors compelled her to yield
to the confederates a large part of their demands. On August 23 she
agreed, in return for help in the restoration of order, to concede
liberty of preaching, so long as those who assembled did not bear arms
and did not interfere with the Catholic places of worship and religious
services. Further an indemnity was promised to all who had signed the
Compromise.

The reasons which influenced her were, first the receipt, on August 12,
of the conciliatory letter from the king, to which reference has already
been made, in which he consented to a certain measure of toleration; and
secondly a sudden outburst of iconoclastic fury on the part of the
Calvinistic sectaries, which had spread with great rapidity through many
parts of the land. On August 14, at St Omer, Ypres, Courtray,
Valenciennes and Tournay, fanatical mobs entered the churches destroying
and wrecking, desecrating the altars, images, vestments and works of
art, and carrying away the sacred vessels and all that was valuable. On
August 16 and 17 the cathedral of Antwerp was entered by infuriated and
sacrilegious bands armed with axes and hammers, who made havoc and ruin
of the interior of the beautiful church. In Holland and Zeeland similar
excesses were committed. Such conduct aroused a feeling of the deepest
indignation and reprobation in the minds of all right-thinking men, and
alienated utterly those more moderate Catholics who up till now had been
in favour of moderation. Of the great nobles, who had hitherto upheld
the cause of the national liberties and privileges against the
encroachments of a foreign despotism, many now fell away. Among these
were Aremberg, Meghem and Mansfeld. Egmont hesitated. As might have been
expected, the news of the outrages, when it reached Philip's ears,
filled him with rage and grief; and he is reported to have exclaimed,
"It shall cost them dear. I swear it by the soul of my father." From
this time forward he was determined to visit with exemplary punishment
not only the rioters and the Protestant sectaries, but more especially
the great nobles on whose shoulders he laid the whole blame for the
troubles that had arisen.

He was in no hurry to act, and announced that it was his intention to go
to the Netherlands in person and enquire into the alleged grievances. So
he told his councillors and wrote to Margaret. No one seems to have
suspected his deep-laid scheme for allaying the suspicions of his
intended victims until the right moment came for laying his hands upon
them and crushing all opposition by overwhelming force. Orange alone,
who had his paid spies at Madrid, had a presage of what was coming and
took measures of precaution betimes. An intercepted letter from the
Spanish ambassador at Paris to the Regent Margaret, specifically
mentioned Orange, Egmont and Hoorn as deserving of exemplary punishment;
and on October 3 the prince arranged a meeting at Dendermonde to
consider what should be their course of action. In addition to Egmont
and Hoorn, Hoogstraeten and Lewis of Nassau were present. William and
Lewis urged that steps should be taken for preparing armed resistance
should the necessity arise. But neither Egmont nor Hoorn would consent;
they would not be guilty of any act of disloyalty to their sovereign.
The result of the meeting was a great disappointment to Orange, and this
date marked a turning-point in his life. In concert with his brothers,
John and Lewis, he began to enter into negotiations with several of the
German Protestant princes for the formation of a league for the
protection of the adherents of the reformed faith in the Netherlands.
Now for the first time he severed his nominal allegiance to the Roman
Church, and in a letter to Philip of Hesse avowed himself a Lutheran.

During these same autumn months Philip furnished his sister with
considerable sums of money for the levying of a strong mercenary force,
German and Walloon. Possessed now of a body of troops that she could
trust, Margaret in the spring of 1567 took energetic steps to suppress
all insurrectionary movements and disorders, and did not scruple to
disregard the concessions which had been wrung from her on August 23.
The confederate nobles, satisfied with her promises, had somewhat
prematurely dissolved their league; but one of the most fiery and
zealous among them, John de Marnix, lord of Thoulouse, collected at
Antwerp a body of some 2000 Calvinists and attempted to make himself
master of that city. At Austruweel he was encountered (March 13) by a
Walloon force despatched by Margaret with orders to "exterminate the
heretics." Thoulouse and almost the whole of his following perished in
the fight. In the south at the same time the conventicles were
mercilessly suppressed and the preachers driven into exile.

Margaret now felt herself strong enough to demand that the stadholders
and leading nobles should, on pain of dismissal from their posts, take
an oath "to serve the king and to act for and against whomsoever His
Majesty might order." Egmont took the oath; Hoorn, Hoogstraeten and
Brederode declined to do so and resigned their offices. Orange offered
his resignation, but Margaret was unwilling to accept it and urged him
to discuss the matter first with Egmont and Meghem. The three nobles met
accordingly at Willebroek, April 2. William used his utmost powers of
persuasion in an attempt to convince Egmont that he was courting
destruction. But in vain. He himself was not to be moved from his
decision, and the two friends, who had worked together so long in the
patriot cause, parted, never to meet again. Orange saw that he was no
longer safe in the Netherlands and, on April 22, he set out from Breda
for the residence of his brother John at Dillenburg. Here in exile he
could watch in security the progress of events, and be near at hand
should circumstances again require his intervention in the affairs of
the Netherlands.

Orange did not take this extreme step without adequate cause. At the
very time that he left the Netherlands Philip was taking leave of the
Duke of Alva, whom he was despatching at the head of a veteran force to
carry out without pity or remorse the stern duty of expelling heresy
from the provinces and punishing all those, and especially the leaders,
who had ventured to oppose the arbitrary exercise of the royal
authority. He had for some time been preparing this expedition. He still
kept up the pretence that he was coming in person to enquire into the
alleged grievances, but he never had the slightest intention of quitting
Madrid. Alva sailed from Cartagena (April 27) for Genoa, and proceeded
at once to draw together from the various Spanish garrisons in Italy a
picked body of some 12,000 men. With these he set out in June for his
long march across the Alps and through Burgundy, Lorraine and Luxemburg.
His progress, jealously watched by the French and Swiss, met with no
opposition save for the difficulties of the route. He entered the
Netherlands on August 8, with his army intact. A number of notables,
amongst whom was Egmont, came to meet him on his way to Brussels. He
received them, more particularly Egmont, with every appearance of
graciousness. Alva as yet bore only the title of Captain-General, but
the king had bestowed on him full powers civil and military; and the
Duchess of Parma, though still nominally regent, found herself reduced
to a nonentity. Alva's first step was to place strong Spanish garrisons
in the principal cities, his next to get the leaders who had been marked
for destruction into his power. To effect this he succeeded by fair and
flattering words in securing the presence of both Egmont and Hoorn at
Brussels. Under the pretence of taking part in a consultation they were
(September 9) invited to the duke's residence and on their arrival
suddenly found themselves arrested. At the same time their secretaries
and papers were seized, and Antony van Stralen, the burgomaster of
Antwerp, was placed under arrest. These high-handed actions were the
prelude to a reign of terror; and Margaret, already humiliated by
finding herself superseded, requested her brother to accept her
resignation. On October 6 the office of Governor-General was conferred
upon Alva; and shortly afterwards the duchess left the Netherlands and
returned to Parma.

Alva had now the reins of power in his hand, and with a relentless zeal
and cold-blooded ferocity, which have made his name a by-word, he set
about the accomplishment of the fell task with which his master had
entrusted him. He had to enforce with drastic rigour all the penalties
decreed by the placards against heretics and preachers, and to deal
summarily with all who had taken any part in opposition to the
government. But to attempt to do this by means of the ordinary courts
and magistrates would consume time and lead to many acquittals. Alva
therefore had no sooner thrown off the mask by the sudden and skilfully
planned arrest of Egmont and Hoorn, than he proceeded to erect an
extraordinary tribunal, which had no legal standing except such as the
arbitrary will of the duke conferred upon it. This so-called Council of
Troubles, which speedily acquired in popular usage the name of the
Council of Blood, virtually consisted of Alva himself, who was president
and to whose final decision all cases were referred, and two Spanish
lawyers, his chosen tools and agents, Juan de Vargas and Louis del
Rio. The two royalist nobles, Noircarmes and Barlaymont, and five
Netherland jurists also had seats; but, as only the Spaniards voted, the
others before long ceased to attend the meetings. The proceedings indeed
were, from the legal point of view, a mere travesty of justice. A whole
army of commissioners was let loose upon the land, and informers were
encouraged and rewarded. Multitudes of accused were hauled before the
tribunal and were condemned by batches almost without the form of a
trial. For long hours day by day Vargas and del Rio revelled in their
work of butchery; and in all parts of the Netherlands the executioners
were busy. It was of no use for the accused to appeal to the charters
and privileges of their provinces. All alike were summoned to Brussels;
_non curamus privilegios vestros_ declared Vargas in his ungrammatical
Latin. Hand in hand with the wholesale sentences of death went the
confiscation of property. Vast sums went into the treasury. The whole
land for awhile was terror-stricken. All organised opposition was
crushed, and no one dared to raise his voice in protest.

The Prince of Orange was summoned to appear in person before the council
within six weeks, under pain of perpetual banishment and confiscation of
his estates. He refused to come, and energetically denied that the
council had any jurisdiction over him. The same sentence was passed upon
all the other leaders who had placed themselves out of reach of Alva's
arm--Sainte Aldegonde, Hoogstraeten, Culemburg, Montigny, Lewis of
Nassau and others. Unable to lay hands upon the prince himself, the
governor-general took dastardly advantage of William's indiscretion in
leaving his eldest son at Louvain to pursue his studies at the
university. At the beginning of 1568 Philip William, Count of Buren in
right of his mother, was seized and sent to Madrid to be brought up at
the court of Philip to hate the cause to which his father henceforth
devoted his life. Already indeed, before the abduction of his son,
Orange from his safe retreat at Dillenburg had been exerting himself to
raise troops for the invasion of the Netherlands. He still professed
loyalty to the king and declared that in the king's name he wished to
restore to the provinces those liberties and privileges which Philip
himself had sworn that he would maintain. The difficulty was to find the
large sum of money required for such an enterprise, and it was only by
extraordinary efforts that a sufficient amount was obtained. Part of
the money was collected in Antwerp and various towns of Holland and
Zeeland, the rest subscribed by individuals. John of Nassau pledged his
estates, Orange sold his plate and jewels, and finally a war-chest of
200,000 florins was gathered together. It was proposed to attack the
Netherlands from three directions. From the north Lewis of Nassau was to
lead an army from the Ems into Friesland; Hoogstraeten on the east to
effect an entrance by way of Maestricht; while another force of
Huguenots and refugees in the south was to march into Artois. It was an
almost desperate scheme in the face of veteran troops in a central
position under such a tried commander as Alva. The last-named French
force and that under Hoogstraeten were easily defeated and scattered by
Spanish detachments sent to meet them. Lewis of Nassau was at first more
successful. Entering Groningen at the head of eight or nine thousand
undisciplined troops he was attacked, May 23, in a strong position
behind a morass by a Spanish force under the Count of Aremberg,
Stadholder of Friesland, at Heiligerlee. He gained a complete victory.
Aremberg himself was slain, as was also the younger brother of Lewis,
Adolphus of Nassau. The triumph of the invaders was of short duration.
Alva himself took in hand the task of dealing with the rebels. At the
head of 15,000 troops he drove before him the levies of Nassau to
Jemmingen on the estuary of the Ems, and here with the loss of only
seven men he completely annihilated them. Lewis himself and a few others
alone escaped by throwing themselves into the water and swimming for
their lives.

The action at Heiligerlee, by compelling the governor-general to take
the field, had hastened the fate of Egmont and Hoorn. After their arrest
the two noblemen were kept in solitary confinement in the citadel of
Ghent for several months, while the long list of charges against them
was being examined by the Council of Troubles--in other words by Vargas
and del Rio. These charges they angrily denied; and great efforts were
made on their behalf by the wife of Egmont and the dowager Countess of
Hoorn. Appeals were made to the governor-general and to Philip himself,
either for pardon on the ground of services rendered to the State, or at
least for a trial, as Knights of the Golden Fleece, before the Court of
the Order. The Emperor Maximilian himself pleaded with Philip for
clemency, but without avail. Their doom had been settled in advance, and
the king was inflexible. Alva accordingly determined that they should
be executed before he left Brussels for his campaign in the north. On
June 2, the council, after refusing to hear any further evidence in the
prisoners' favour, pronounced them guilty of high treason; and Alva at
once signed the sentences of death. Egmont and Hoorn the next day were
brought by a strong detachment of troops from Ghent to Brussels and were
confined in a building opposite the town hall, known as the Broodhuis.
On June 5, their heads were struck off upon a scaffold erected in the
great square before their place of confinement. Both of them met their
death with the utmost calmness and courage. The effect of this momentous
stroke of vengeance upon these two patriot leaders, both of them good
Catholics, who had always professed loyalty to their sovereign, and one
of whom, Egmont, had performed distinguished services for his country
and king, was profound. A wave of mingled rage and sorrow swept over the
land. It was not only an act of cruel injustice, but even as an act of
policy a blunder of the first magnitude, which was sure to bring, as it
did bring, retribution in its train.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER IV

THE REVOLT OF THE NETHERLANDS


The complete failure of the expeditions of Hoogstraeten and of Lewis of
Nassau was a great discouragement to the Prince of Orange. Nevertheless
after receiving the news of Jemmingen he wrote to his brother, "With
God's help I am determined to go on." By great exertions he succeeded in
gathering together a heterogeneous force of German and Walloon
mercenaries numbering about 18,000 men, and with these in the beginning
of October he crossed the frontier. But to maintain such a force in the
field required far larger financial resources than William had at his
disposal. Alva was aware of this, and, as the prince made his way into
Brabant, he followed his steps with a small body of veteran troops,
cutting off supplies and stragglers, but declining battle. The
mercenaries, debarred from plunder and in arrears of pay, could not be
kept together more than a few weeks. In November Orange withdrew into
France and disbanded the remnants of his army. In disguise he managed to
escape with some difficulty through France to Dillenburg. His brothers,
Lewis and Henry, joined the Huguenot army under Coligny and took part in
the battles of Moncontour and Jarnac.

Alva was now apparently supreme in the Netherlands; and crowds of
refugees fled the country to escape the wholesale persecutions of the
Council of Blood. Alva however, like his predecessor and indeed like all
Spanish governors engaged in carrying out the policy of Philip II, was
always hampered by lack of funds. The Spanish treasury was empty. The
governor-general's troops no less than those of Orange clamoured for
their regular pay, and it was necessary to find means to satisfy them.
The taxes voted for nine years in 1559 had come to an end. New taxes
could only be imposed with the assent of the States-General. Alva,
however, after his victory at Jemmingen and the dispersion of the army
of Orange, felt himself strong enough to summon the States-General and
demand their assent to the scheme of taxation which he proposed. The
governor-general asked for (1) a tax of five per cent., the "twentieth
penny," on all transfers of real estate, (2) a tax of ten per cent., the
"tenth penny," on all sales of commodities. These taxes, which were an
attempt to introduce into the Netherlands the system known in Castile as
_alcabala_, were to be granted in perpetuity, thus, as the duke hoped,
obviating the necessity of having again to summon the States-General. In
addition to these annual taxes he proposed a payment once for all of one
per cent., "the hundredth penny," on all property, real or personal.
Such a demand was contrary to all precedent in the Netherlands and an
infringement of time-honoured charters and privileges; and even the
terror, which Alva's iron-handed tyranny had inspired, did not prevent
his meeting with strong opposition. The proposals had to be referred to
the provincial estates, and everywhere difficulties were raised. All
classes were united in resistance. Petitions came pouring in protesting
against impositions which threatened to ruin the trade and industries of
the country. Alva found it impossible to proceed.

The "hundredth penny" was voted, but instead of the other taxes, which
were to provide a steady annual income, he had to content himself with a
fixed payment of 2,000,000 guilders for two years only. The imposition
of these taxes on the model of the _alcabala_ had been part of a scheme
for sweeping away all the provincial jurisdictions and rights and
forming the whole of the Netherlands into a unified state, as
subservient to despotic rule as was Castile itself. A greater
centralisation of government had been the constant policy of the
Burgundian and Habsburg rulers since the time of Philip the Good, a
policy to be commended if carried out in a statesmanlike and moderate
spirit without any sudden or violent infringement of traditional
liberties. The aim of Philip of Spain as it was interpreted by his
chosen instrument, the Duke of Alva, was far more drastic. With Alva and
his master all restrictions upon the absolute authority of the sovereign
were obstacles to be swept remorselessly out of the way; civil and
religious liberty in their eyes deserved no better fate than to be
suppressed by force. Alva's experience was that of many would-be tyrants
before and since his day, that the successful application of force is
limited by the power of the purse. His exchequer was empty. Philip was
himself in financial difficulties and could spare him no money from
Spain. The refusal of the provincial estates of the Netherlands to
sanction his scheme of taxation deprived him of the means for imposing
his will upon them. His reign of terror had produced throughout the land
a superficial appearance of peace. There were at the beginning of 1570
no open disturbances or insurrectionary movements to be crushed, but the
people were seething with discontent, and the feeling of hatred aroused
by the presence of the Spanish Inquisition and the foreign soldiery and
by the proceedings of the Council of Blood was, day by day, becoming
deeper and more embittered.

This condition of affairs was duly reported to the king at Madrid; and
there was no lack of councillors at his side who were unfriendly to Alva
and eager to make the most of the complaints against him. Among these
enemies was Ruy Gomez, the king's private secretary, who recommended a
policy of leniency, as did Granvelle, who was now at Naples. Philip
never had any scruples about throwing over his agents, and he announced
his intention of proclaiming an amnesty on the occasion when Anne of
Austria, his intended bride and fourth wife, set sail from Antwerp for
Spain. The proclamation was actually made at Antwerp by the
governor-general in person, July 16, 1570. It was a limited declaration
of clemency, for six classes of offenders were excepted, and it only
extended to those who within two months made their peace with the
Catholic Church and abjured the Reformed doctrines.

During the years 1570-71 there were however few outward signs of the
gradual undermining of Alva's authority. There was sullen resentment and
discontent throughout the land, but no attempt at overt resistance. The
iron hand of the governor-general did not relax its firm grasp of the
reins of power, and the fear of his implacable vengeance filled men's
hearts. He ruled by force, not by love; and those who refused to submit
had either to fly the country or to perish by the hands of the
executioner. Nevertheless during these sad years the Prince of Orange
and Lewis of Nassau, in spite of the apparent hopelessness of the
situation, were unremitting in their efforts to raise fresh forces.
William at Dillenburg exerted himself to the uttermost to obtain
assistance from the Protestant princes of the Rhineland. With the
Calvinists he was, however, as yet strongly suspect. He himself was held
to be a lukewarm convert from Catholicism to the doctrines of Augsburg;
and his wife was the daughter and heiress of Maurice of Saxony, the
champion of Lutheranism. William's repudiation of Anne of Saxony for her
 repeated infidelities (March, 1571) severed this Lutheran alliance.
The unfortunate Anne, after six years' imprisonment, died insane in
1577. At the same time the closest relations of confidence and
friendship sprang up between Orange and the well-known Calvinist writer
and leader, Philip de Marnix, lord of Sainte Aldegonde. This connection
with Sainte Aldegonde ensured for William the support of the Calvinists;
and secret agents of the prince were soon busily at work in the
different parts of the provinces promising armed assistance and
collecting levies for the raising of an invading force. Foremost among
these active helpers were Jacob van Wesenbeke, Diedrich Sonoy and Paul
Buys; and the chief scene of their operations were the provinces of
Holland and Zeeland, already distinguished for their zeal in the cause
of freedom. The amount of cash that was raised was, however, for some
time very small. There was goodwill in plenty, but the utter failure of
the prince's earlier efforts had made people despair.

These earlier efforts had indeed, on land, been disastrous, but they
had not been confined entirely to land operations. Orange, in his
capacity as a sovereign prince, had given _letters of marque_ to a
number of vessels under the command of the lord of Dolhain. These
vessels were simply corsairs and they were manned by fierce fanatical
sectaries, desperadoes inflamed at once by bitter hatred of the papists
and by the hope of plunder. These "Beggars of the Sea" (_Gueux de mer_),
as they were called, rapidly increased in number and soon made
themselves a terror in the narrow seas by their deeds of reckless daring
and cruelty. William tried in vain to restrain excesses which brought
him little profit and no small discredit. It was to no purpose that he
associated the lord of Lumbres in the chief command with Dolhain. Their
subordinates, William de Blois, lord of Treslong, and William de la
Marck, lord of Lumey, were bold, unscrupulous adventurers who found it
to their interest to allow their unruly crews to burn and pillage, as
they lusted, not only their enemies' ships in the open sea, but churches
and monasteries along the coast and up the estuaries that they infested.
The difficulty was to find harbours in which they could take refuge and
dispose of their booty. For some time they were permitted to use the
English ports freely, and the Huguenot stronghold at La Rochelle was
also open to them as a market. Queen Elizabeth, as was her wont, had no
scruple in conniving at acts of piracy to the injury of the Spaniard;
but at last, at the beginning of 1572, in consequence of strong
representations from Madrid, she judged it politic to issue an order
forbidding the Sea-Beggars to enter any English harbours. The pirates,
thus deprived of the shelter which had made their depredations possible,
would have been speedily in very bad case, but for an unexpected and
surprising stroke of good fortune. It chanced that a large number of
vessels under Lumbres and Treslong were driven by stress of weather into
the estuary of the Maas; and finding that the Spanish garrison of Brill
had left the town upon a punitive expedition, the rovers landed and
effected an entry by burning one of the gates. The place was seized and
pillaged, and the marauders were on the point of returning with their
spoil to their ships, when at the suggestion of Treslong it was
determined to place a garrison in the town and hold it as a harbour of
refuge in the name of the Prince of Orange, as Stadholder of Holland. On
April 1, 1572, the prince's flag was hoisted over Brill, and the
foundation stone was laid of the future Dutch republic.

William himself at first did not realise the importance of this capture,
and did not take any steps to express his active approval; but it was
otherwise with his brother Lewis, who was at the time using his utmost
endeavours to secure if not the actual help, at least the connivance, of
Charles IX to his conducting an expedition from France into the
Netherlands. Lewis saw at once the great advantage to the cause of the
possession of a port like Brill, and he urged the Beggars to try and
gain possession of Flushing also, before Alva's orders for the
strengthening of the garrison and the defences had been carried out.
Flushing by its position commanded the approach by water to Antwerp.
When the ships of Lumbres and Treslong appeared before the town, the
inhabitants rose in revolt, over-powered the garrison, and opened the
gates. This striking success, following upon the taking of Brill,
aroused great enthusiasm. The rebels had now a firm foothold both in
Holland and Zeeland, and their numbers grew rapidly from day to day.
Soon the whole of the island of Walcheren, on which Flushing stands, was
in their hands with the exception of the capital Middelburg; and in
Holland several important towns hoisted the flag of revolt and
acknowledged the Prince of Orange as their lawful Stadholder. From
Holland the rebellion spread into Friesland. Finally on June 19 an
assembly of the Estates of Holland was, at the instance of Dordrecht,
convened to meet in that town. There was but one representative of the
nobility present at this meeting, whose legality was more than doubtful,
but it included deputies of no less than twelve out of the fourteen
towns which were members of the Estates. The prince sent Ste Aldegonde
as his plenipotentiary. The step taken was practically an act of
insurrection against the king. William had resigned his stadholdership
in 1568 and had afterwards been declared an outlaw. Bossu had been by
royal authority appointed to the vacant office. The Estates now formally
recognised the prince as Stadholder of the king in Holland, Zeeland,
West Friesland and Utrecht; and he was further invested with the supreme
command of the forces both by land and sea and was charged with the duty
of protecting the country against foreign oppression or invasion by
foreign troops. Ste Aldegonde in the name of the prince announced his
acceptance of the posts that had been conferred on him and declared that
he desired, as a condition of such acceptance, that the principle of
religious freedom and liberty of worship should be conceded to
Catholics and Protestants alike. To this the Estates assented. Orange
took an oath to maintain the towns in the rights and privileges of which
they had been deprived by Alva and not to enter into any negotiations or
conclude any treaty with Spain without their consent. The Court of
Holland for the administration of justice was reconstituted and a
Chamber of Finance erected. The question of finance was indeed crucial,
for the new stadholder asked for a subsidy of 100,000 crowns a month for
the support of the army he had raised for the invasion of Brabant; and
the Estates agreed to take measures for appropriating certain taxes for
the purpose, an undertaking which had, however, in this time of present
distress small likelihood of effectual result.

The course of events indeed in the months which followed this historic
gathering at Dordrecht was not encouraging to those who had thus dared
somewhat prematurely to brave the wrath of Philip and the vengeance of
Alva. Lewis of Nassau had for some time been engaged in raising a
Huguenot force for the invasion of the southern Netherlands. The news of
the capture of Brill and Flushing stirred him to sudden action. He had
collected only a small body of men, but, with characteristic impetuosity
he now led these across the frontier, and, before Alva was aware of his
presence in Hainault, had captured by surprise Valenciennes and Mons
(May 24). It was a rash move, for no sooner did the news reach the
governor-general than he sent his son, Don Frederick of Toledo, at the
head of a powerful force to expel the invader. Don Frederick quickly
made himself master of Valenciennes and then proceeded (June 3) to lay
siege to Mons, where Lewis, in hopes that relief would reach him,
prepared for an obstinate defence. These hopes were not without
foundation, for he knew that, beyond the Rhine, Orange with a
considerable army was on the point of entering the Netherlands from the
east, and that the Huguenot leader, Genlis, was leading another force
from France to his succour. William at the head of 20,000 German and
3000 Walloon mercenaries actually entered Gelderland (July 7), captured
Roeremonde and then marched into Brabant. Here (July 19) the news
reached him of the complete defeat and annihilation of the raw levies of
Genlis by Toledo's veteran troops. Hampered by lack of funds William
now, as throughout his life, showed himself to be lacking in the higher
qualities of military leadership. With an ill-paid mercenary force time
was a factor of primary importance, nevertheless the prince made no
effort to move from his encampment near Roeremonde for some five weeks.
Meanwhile his troops got out of hand and committed many excesses, and
when, on August 27, he set out once more to march westwards, he found to
his disappointment that there was no popular rising in his favour.
Louvain and Brussels shut their gates, and though Mechlin, Termonde and
a few other places surrendered, the prince saw only too plainly that his
advance into Flanders would not bring about the relief of Mons. All his
plans had gone awry. Alva could not be induced to withdraw any portion
of the army that was closely blockading Mons, but contented himself in
following Orange with a force under his own command while avoiding a
general action. And then like a thunderclap, September 5, the news of
the massacre of St Bartholomew was brought to the prince, and he knew
that the promise of Coligny to conduct 12,000 arquebusiers to the
succour of Lewis could not be redeemed. In this emergency William saw
that he must himself endeavour to raise the siege. He accordingly
marched from Flanders and, September 11, encamped at the village of
Harmignies, a short distance from Mons. In the night six hundred
Spaniards, each of whom to prevent mistakes wore a white shirt over his
armour, surprised the camp. The prince himself was awakened by a little
dog that slept in his tent and only narrowly escaped with his life,
several hundred of his troops being slain by the _Camisaders_. He was
now thoroughly discouraged and on the following day retreated first to
Mechlin, then to Roeremonde, where on September 30 the ill-fated
expedition was disbanded. The retirement from Harmignies decided the
fate of Mons. Favourable conditions were granted and Lewis of Nassau,
who was ill with fever, met with chivalrous treatment and was allowed to
return to Dillenburg.

William now found himself faced with something like financial ruin.
Mercenary armies are very costly, and by bitter experience he had learnt
the futility of opposing a half-hearted and badly disciplined force to
the veteran troops of Alva. He resolved therefore to go in person to
Holland to organise and direct the strong movement of revolt, which had
found expression in the meeting of the Estates at Dordrecht. His agents
had long been busy going about from town to town collecting funds in the
name of the prince and encouraging the people in their resistance to the
Inquisition and to foreign tyranny. William's declaration that
henceforth he intended to live and die in their midst and to devote
himself with all his powers to the defence of the rights and liberties
of the land met with willing and vigorous support throughout the greater
part of Holland, West Friesland and Zeeland; and contributions for the
supply of the necessary ways and means began to flow in. It was,
however, a desperate struggle to which he had pledged himself, and to
which he was to consecrate without flinching the rest of his life. If,
however, the prince's resolve was firm, no less so was that of Alva.

Alva had his enemies at the Spanish court, always ready to excite
distrust against the duke in the mind of the suspicious king. In July,
1572, the Duke of Medina-Coeli had been sent from Spain to enquire into
the state of affairs in the Netherlands; probably it was intended that
he should take over the administration and supersede the
governor-general. On his arrival, however, Medina-Coeli quickly saw that
the difficulties of the situation required a stronger hand than his, and
he did not attempt to interfere with Alva's continued exercise of
supreme authority. The governor-general, on his side, knew well what was
the meaning of this mission of Medina-Coeli, and no sooner was the army
of Orange dispersed than he determined, while the reins of power were
still in his hands, to visit the rebellious towns of the north with
condign vengeance.

At the head of a powerful force, Frederick of Toledo marched northwards.
Mechlin, which had received Orange, was given over for three days to
pillage and outrage. Then Zutphen was taken and sacked. Naarden, which
had, though without regular defences, dared to resist the Spaniards, was
utterly destroyed and the entire population massacred. Amsterdam, one of
the few towns of Holland which had remained loyal to the king, served as
a basis for further operations. Although it was already December and the
season was unfavourable, Toledo now determined to lay siege to the
important town of Haarlem. Haarlem was difficult of approach. It was
protected on two sides by broad sheets of shallow water, the Haarlem
lake and the estuary of the Y, divided from one another by a narrow neck
of land. On another side was a thick wood. It was garrisoned by 4000
men, stern Calvinists, under the resolute leadership of Ripperda and
Lancelot Brederode. An attempt to storm the place (December 21) was
beaten off with heavy loss to the assailants; so Toledo, despite the
inclemency of the weather, had to invest the city. Another desperate
assault, January 31, disastrously failed, and the siege was turned into
a blockade. The position, however, of the besiegers was in some respects
worse than that of the besieged; and Toledo would have abandoned his
task in despair had not his father ordered him at all costs to proceed.
William meanwhile made several efforts to relieve the town. Bodies of
skaters in the winter, and when the ice disappeared, numbers of boats
crossed over the Haarlem lake from Leyden and managed to carry supplies
of food into the town, and resistance might have been indefinitely
prolonged had not Bossu put a stop to all intercourse between Haarlem
and the outside world by convoying a flotilla of armed vessels from the
Y into the lake. Surrender was now only a question of time. On July
11,1573, after a relieving force of 4000 men, sent by Orange, had been
utterly defeated, and the inhabitants were perishing by famine, Toledo
gained possession of Haarlem. The survivors of the heroic garrison were
all butchered, and Ripperda and Brederode, their gallant leaders,
executed. A number of the leading citizens were likewise put to death,
but the town was spared from pillage on condition of paying a heavy
fine. The siege had lasted seven months, and the army of Toledo, which
had suffered terribly during the winter, is said to have lost twelve
thousand men.

Alva in his letters to the king laid great stress on the clemency with
which he had treated Haarlem. It had been spared the wholesale
destruction of Zutphen and Naarden, and the duke hoped that by this
exhibition of comparative leniency he might induce the other rebel towns
to open their gates without opposition. He was deceived. On July 18
Alkmaar was summoned to surrender, but refused. Alva's indignation knew
no bounds, and he vowed that every man, woman and child in the
contumacious town should be put to the sword. The threat, however, could
not at once be executed. Toledo's army, debarred from the sack of
Haarlem, became mutinous through lack of pay. Until they received the
arrears due to them, they refused to stir. Not till August 21 was Don
Frederick able to invest Alkmaar with a force of 16,000 men. The
garrison consisted of some 1300 burghers with 800 troops thrown into the
town by Sonoy, Orange's lieutenant in North Holland. Two desperate
assaults were repulsed with heavy loss, and then the Spaniards proceeded
to blockade the town. Sonoy now, by the orders of the prince, gained the
consent of the cultivators of the surrounding district to the cutting of
the dykes. The camps and trenches of the besiegers were flooded out; and
(October 8) the siege was raised and the army of Don Frederick retired,
leaving Alkmaar untaken. Within a week another disaster befell the
Spanish arms. Between Hoorn and Enkhuizen the fleet of Bossu on the
Zuyder Zee was attacked by the Sea-Beggars and was completely defeated.
Bossu himself was taken prisoner and was held as a hostage for the
safety of Ste Aldegonde, who fell into the hands of the Spaniards about
month later.

This naval victory, following upon the retreat from Alkmaar,
strengthened greatly the efforts of Orange and gave fresh life to the
patriot cause. It likewise marked the end of the six years of Alva's
blood-stained rule in the Netherlands. Weary and disappointed, always
hampered by lack of funds, angry at the loss of the king's confidence
and chafing at the evidence of it in the presence of Medina-Coeli at his
side, the governor-general begged that he might be relieved of his
functions. His request was granted, October 29. The chosen successor was
the Grand Commander, Don Luis de Requesens, governor of Milan. It was
only with much reluctance that Requesens, finding the king's command
insistent and peremptory, accepted the charge.

The Grand Commander was indeed far from being a suitable man for dealing
with the difficult situation in the Netherlands, for he was a Spanish
grandee pure and simple and did not even speak French. Even the
loyalists received him coolly. He knew nothing of the country, and
whatever his ability or disposition it was felt that he would not be
allowed a free hand in his policy or adequate means for carrying it out.
That his temper was conciliatory was quickly shown. An amnesty was
proclaimed for political offenders except three hundred persons (among
these Orange and his principal adherents), and pardon to all heretics
who abjured their errors. He went even further than this by entering
into a secret exchange of views with William himself through Ste
Aldegonde as an intermediary, in the hope of finding some common
meeting-ground for an understanding. But the prince was immovable.
Unless freedom of worship, the upholding of all ancient charters and
liberties and the removal of Spaniards and all foreigners from any share
in the government or administration of the land were granted, resistance
would be continued to the last. These were conditions Requesens had no
power even to consider.

Orange during this time was on his side using all his diplomatic ability
to gain help for the oppressed Netherlanders from France and England.
But Charles IX had his own difficulties and was in too feeble health (he
died May, 1574) to take any decided step, and Queen Elizabeth, though
she connived at assistance being given to the rebel cause on strictly
commercial terms, was not willing either to show open hostility to
Philip or to support subjects in revolt against their sovereign.
William's position appeared well-nigh desperate, for at the opening of
the year 1574 his authority was only recognised in a few of the towns of
Holland and in some of the Zeeland islands, and the Spaniards had sent a
large force to invest Leyden. He had, however, made up his mind to cast
in his lot with the brave Hollanders and Zeelanders in their gallant
struggle against overwhelming odds. To identify himself more completely
with his followers, the prince, October, 1573, openly announced his
adhesion to Calvinism. There are no grounds for doubting his sincerity
in taking this step; it was not an act of pure opportunism. His early
Catholicism had probably been little more than an outward profession,
and as soon as he began to think seriously about religious questions,
his natural bent had led him first to the Lutheran faith of his family,
and then to the sterner doctrines, which had gained so firm a foothold
in the towns of Holland and Zeeland. Nevertheless William, though
henceforth a consistent Calvinist, was remarkable among his
contemporaries for the principles of religious toleration he both
inculcated and practised. He was constitutionally averse to religious
persecution in any form, and by the zealots of his party he was
denounced as lukewarm; but throughout his life he upheld the right of
the individual, who was peaceful and law-abiding, to liberty of opinion
and freedom of worship.

The year 1574 opened favourably. By a remarkable feat of arms the
veteran Spanish commander Mondragon had, October, 1572, reconquered
several of the Zeeland islands. His men on one occasion at ebb-tide
marched across the channel which lies between South Beveland and the
mainland, the water reaching up to their necks. The patriot forces had
since then recovered much of the lost ground, but Middelburg was
strongly held, and so long as the Spaniards had command of the sea, was
the key to the possession of Zeeland. On January 29, 1574, the
Sea-Beggars under Boisot attacked the Spanish fleet near Roemerswaal and
after a bloody encounter gained a complete victory. The siege of
Middelburg was now pressed and Mondragon surrendered, February 18. The
prince at once set to work to create a patriot government in the
province. Four towns had representatives, Middelburg, Zierikzee, Veere
and Flushing. William himself acquired by purchase the marquisate of
Flushing and thus was able to exercise a preponderating influence in the
Provincial Estates, all of whose members were required to be Calvinists
and supporters of the rebel cause.

The investment of Leyden by the Spaniards threatened however, now
that Haarlem had fallen, to isolate South Holland and Zeeland; and
William did not feel himself strong enough to make any serious attempt
to raise the siege. Lewis of Nassau therefore, with the help of French
money, set himself to work with his usual enthusiastic energy to
collect a force in the Rhineland with which to invade the Netherlands
from the east and effect a diversion. At the head of 7000 foot and
3000 horse--half-disciplined troops, partly Huguenot volunteers,
partly German mercenaries--he tried to cross the Meuse above Maestricht
with the intention of effecting a junction with the Prince of Orange.
He was accompanied by John and Henry of Nassau, his brothers, and
Christopher, son of the Elector Palatine. He found his course blocked
by a Spanish force under the command of Sancho d'Avila and Mondragon.
The encounter took place on the heath of Mook (April 14) and ended in
the crushing defeat of the invaders. Lewis and his young brother,
Henry, and Duke Christopher perished, and their army was completely
scattered. The death of his brothers was a great grief to William.
Lewis had for years been his chief support, and the loss of this
dauntless champion was indeed a heavy blow to the cause for which he
had sacrificed his life. He was only thirty-six years of age, while
Henry, the youngest of the Nassaus, to whom the Prince was deeply
attached, was but a youth of twenty-four.

The invasion of Lewis had nevertheless the result of raising the siege
of Leyden; but only for a time. After the victory at Mook the Spanish
troops were free to continue the task of reconquering rebel Holland for
the king. On May 26 a strong force under Valdez advanced to Leyden and
completely isolated the town by surrounding it with a girdle of forts.
The attack came suddenly, and unfortunately the place had not been
adequately provisioned. So strong was the position of the Spaniards that
the stadholder did not feel that any relieving force that he could send
would have any chance of breaking through the investing lines and
revictualling the garrison. In these circumstances he summoned, June 1,
a meeting of the Estates of Holland at Rotterdam and proposed, as a
desperate resource, that the dykes should be cut and the land submerged,
and that the light vessels of the Sea-Beggars under Boisot should sail
over the waters, attack the Spanish forts and force an entrance into the
town. After considerable opposition the proposal was agreed to and the
waters were allowed to flow out upon the low-lying fields, villages and
farms, which lie between the sea, the Rhine, the Waal and the Maas.
Unfortunately the season was not favourable, and though the water
reached nearly to the higher land round Leyden on which the Spanish
redoubts were erected, and by alarming Valdez caused him to press the
blockade more closely, it was not deep enough even for the light-draught
vessels, which Boisot had gathered together, to make their way to the
town. So the month of August passed and September began. Meanwhile the
prince, who was the soul of the enterprise, was confined to his sick-bed
by a violent attack of fever, and the pangs of famine began to be
cruelly felt within the beleaguered town. A portion of the citizens were
half-hearted in the struggle, and began to agitate for surrender and
even sent out emissaries to try to make terms with the Spanish
commander. But there were within Leyden leaders of iron resolution, the
heroic Burgomaster Pieter Adriaanzoon van der Werf; the commandant of
the garrison, Jan van der Does; Dirk van Bronkhorst, Jan van Hout and
many others who remained staunch and true in face of the appalling agony
of a starving population; men who knew the fate in store for them if
they fell into the enemy's hands and were determined to resist as long
as they had strength to fight. At last in mid-September faint hopes
began to dawn. William recovered, and a fierce equinoctial gale driving
the flood-tide up the rivers gradually deepened the waters up to the
very dyke on which the entrenchments of the besiegers stood. Urged on by
Orange, Boisot now made a great effort. Anxiously from the towers was
the approach of the relieving fleet watched. The town was at the very
last extremity. The people were dying of hunger on every side. Some
fierce combats took place as soon as the Sea-Beggars, experts at this
amphibious warfare, arrived at the outlying Spanish forts, but not for
long. Alarmed at the rising of the waters and fearing that the fleet of
Boisot might cut off their escape, the Spaniards retreated in the night;
and on the morning of October 3 the vessels of the relieving force,
laden with provisions, entered the town. The long-drawn-out agony was
over and Leyden saved from the fate of Haarlem, just at the moment when
further resistance had become impossible. Had Leyden fallen the
probability is that the whole of South Holland would have been
conquered, and the revolt might have collapsed. In such a narrow escape
well might the people of the town see an intervention of Providence on
their behalf. The prince himself hastened to Leyden on the following
day, reorganised the government of the town and in commemoration of this
great deliverance founded the University, which was to become in the
17th century one of the most famous seats of learning in Europe.

The successful relief of Leyden was followed by a mutiny of the army of
Valdez. They were owed long arrears of pay, had endured great hardships,
and now that they saw themselves deprived of the hope of the pillage
of the town, they put their commander and his officers under arrest and
marched under a leader elected by themselves into Utrecht. Other
mutinies occurred in various parts of the southern provinces, for
Requesens had no funds, and it was useless to appeal to Philip, for the
Spanish treasury was empty. This state of things led to a practical
cessation of active hostilities for many months; and Requesens seized
the opportunity to open negotiations with Orange. These were, however,
doomed to be fruitless, for the king would not hear of any real
concessions being made to the Protestants. The position of William was
equally beset with difficulties, politically and financially. In the
month following the relief of Leyden he even threatened to withdraw from
the country unless his authority were more fully recognised and adequate
supplies were furnished for the conduct of the war. The Estates
accordingly, November 12, asked him to assume the title of Regent or
Governor, with "absolute might, authority and sovereign control" of the
affairs of the country. They also voted him an allowance of 49,000
guilders a month; but, while thus conferring on the man who still
claimed to be the "Stadholder of the king" practically supreme power,
the burgher-corporations of the towns were very jealous of surrendering
in the smallest degree that control over taxation which was one of their
most valued rights. The exercise of authority, however, by the prince
from this time forward was very great, for he had complete control in
military and naval matters, and in the general conduct of affairs he
held all the administrative threads in his own hands. He had become
indispensable, and in everything but name a sovereign in Holland and
Zeeland.

The first part of 1575 was marked by a lull in warlike operations, and
conferences were held at Breda between envoys of Orange and Requesens,
only to find that there was no common ground of agreement. The marriage
of the prince (June 24) with Charlotte de Bourbon, daughter of the Duke
of Montpensier, was a daring step which aroused much prejudice against
him. The bride, who was of the blood-royal of France, had been Abbess of
Jouarre, but had abjured her vows, run away and become a Calvinist. This
was bad enough, but the legality of the union was rendered the more
questionable by the fact that Anne of Saxony was still alive. On all
sides came protests--from Charlotte's father, from John of Nassau, and
from Anne's relations in Saxony and Hesse. But William's character was
such that opposition only made him more determined to carry out his
purpose. The wedding was celebrated at Brill with Calvinist rites. The
union, whether legitimate or not, was undoubtedly one of great
happiness.

Meanwhile the governor-general, unable to obtain any financial help from
Spain, had managed to persuade the provinces, always in dread of the
excesses of the mutinous soldiery, to raise a loan of 1,200,000 guilders
to meet their demands for arrears of pay. Requesens was thus enabled to
put in the late summer a considerable army into the field and among
other successes to gain possession of the Zeeland islands, Duiveland and
Schouwen. On September 27 a force under the command of the veteran
Mondragon waded across the shallow channels dividing the islands, which
fell into their hands. Zierikzee, the chief town of Schouwen, made a
stout resistance, but had at length to surrender (July, 1576). This
conquest separated South Holland from the rest of Zeeland; and, as
Haarlem and Amsterdam were in the hands of the Spaniards, the only
territory over which the authority of Orange extended was the low-lying
corner of land between the Rhine and the Maas, of which Delft was the
centre.

The situation again appeared well-nigh desperate, and the stadholder
began to look anxiously round in the hope of obtaining foreign
assistance. It was to the interest of both France and England to assist
a movement which distracted the attention and weakened the power of
Spain. But Henry III of France was too much occupied with civil and
religious disturbances in his own country, and Elizabeth of England,
while receiving with courtesy the envoys both of Orange and Requesens,
gave evasive replies to both. She was jealous of France, and pleased to
see the growing embarrassment of her enemy Philip, but the Tudor queen
had no love either for rebels or for Calvinists. While refusing
therefore openly to take the side of the Hollanders and Zeelanders, she
agreed to give them secret help; and no obstacle was placed in the way
of the English volunteers, who had already since 1572 been enlisting in
the Dutch service. It was at this time that those English and Scottish
Brigades were first formed which remained for nearly two centuries in
that service, and were always to be found in the very forefront of the
fighting throughout the great war of Liberation.

On March 4, 1576, Requesens died; and in the considerable interval
that elapsed before the arrival of his successor, the outlook for the
patriot cause became distinctly brighter. The Estates of Holland and
Zeeland met at Delft (April 25, 1576); and the assembly was noteworthy
for the passing of an Act of Federation. This Act, which was the work of
Orange, bound the two provinces together for common action in defence of
their rights and liberties and was the first step towards that larger
union, which three years later laid the foundations of the Dutch
Republic. By this Act sovereign powers were conferred upon William; he
was in the name of the king to exercise all the prerogatives of a ruler.
It required all his influence to secure the insertion of articles (1)
extending a certain measure of toleration to all forms of religious
worship that were not contrary to the Gospel, (2) giving authority to
the prince in case of need to offer the Protectorate of the federated
provinces to a foreign prince. Orange knew only too well that Holland
and Zeeland were not strong enough alone to resist the power of Spain.
His hopes of securing the support of the other provinces, in which
Catholics were in the majority, depended, he clearly saw, on the
numerous adherents to the ancient faith in Holland and Zeeland being
protected against the persecuting zeal of the dominant Calvinism of
those provinces. In any case--and this continued to be his settled
conviction to the end of his life--the actual independence of the whole
or any portion of the Netherlands did not seem to him to lie within the
bounds of practical politics. The object for which he strove was the
obtaining of substantial guarantees for the maintenance of the ancient
charters, which exempted the provinces from the presence of foreign
officials, foreign tribunals, foreign soldiery and arbitrary methods of
taxation. As Philip had deliberately infringed all those privileges
which he had sworn to maintain, it was the duty of all patriotic
Netherlanders to resist his authority, and, if resistance failed to
bring redress, to offer the sovereignty with the necessary restrictions
to some other prince willing to accept it on those conditions and
powerful enough to protect the provinces from Spanish attack. In order
to grasp the principles which guided William's policy during the next
few years it is essential to bear in mind (1) that he sought to bring
about a union of all the Netherland provinces on a basis of toleration,
(2) that he did not aim at the erection of the Netherlands into an
independent State.

On the death of Requesens the Council of State had assumed temporary
charge of the administration. There had for some time been growing
dissatisfaction even amongst the loyalist Catholics of the southern
provinces at the presence and over-bearing attitude of so many Spanish
officials and Spanish troops in the land and at the severity of the
religious persecution. Representations were made to the king by the
Council of State of the general discontent throughout the country, of
the deplorable results of the policy of force and repression, and urging
the withdrawal of the troops, the mitigation of the edicts, and the
appointment of a member of the royal house to the governorship. To these
representations and requests no answer was sent for months in accordance
with Philip's habitual dilatoriness in dealing with difficult affairs of
State. He did, however, actually nominate in April his bastard brother,
Don John of Austria, the famous victor of Lepanto, as Requesens'
successor. But Don John, who was then in Italy, had other ambitions, and
looked with suspicion upon Philip's motives in assigning him the
thankless task of dealing with the troubles in the Low Countries.
Instead of hurrying northwards, he first betook himself to Madrid where
he met with a cold reception. Delay, however, so far from troubling
Philip, was thoroughly in accordance with the whole bent of his
character and policy. For six months Don John remained in Spain, and it
was a half-year during which the situation in the Netherlands had been
to a very large extent transformed.

The position of Orange and his followers in Holland and Zeeland in the
spring of 1576 had again darkened. In June the surrender of Zierikzee to
Mondragon was a heavy blow to the patriot cause, for it gave the
Spaniards a firm footing in the very heart of the Zeeland archipelago
and drove a wedge between South Holland and the island of Walcheren.
This conquest was, however, destined to have important results of a very
different character from what might have been expected. The town had
surrendered on favourable terms and pillage was forbidden. Baulked of
their expected booty, the Spanish troops, to whom large arrears of pay
were due, mutinied. Under their own "eletto" they marched to Aalst,
where they were joined by other mutineers, and soon a large force was
collected together, who lived by plunder and were a terror to the
country. The Council declared them to be outlaws, but the revolted
soldiery defied its authority and scoffed at its threats. This was a
moment which, as Orange was quick to perceive, was extremely favourable
for a vigorous renewal of his efforts to draw together all the provinces
to take common action in their resistance to Spanish tyranny. His agents
and envoys in all parts of the Netherlands, but especially in Flanders
and Brabant, urged his views upon the more influential members of the
provincial estates and upon leading noblemen, like the Duke of Aerschot
and other hitherto loyal supporters of the government, who were now
suspected of wavering. His efforts met with a success which a few months
earlier would have been deemed impossible. The conduct of the Spanish
troops, and the lack of any central authority to protect the inhabitants
against their insolence and depredations, had effected a great change
in public opinion. In Brussels Baron de Héze (a god-child of the prince)
had been appointed to the command of the troops in the pay of the
Estates of Brabant. De Héze exerted himself to arouse popular opinion in
the capital in favour of Orange and against the Spaniards. To such an
extent was he successful that he ventured, Sept. 21, to arrest the whole
of the Council of State with the exception of the Spanish member Roda,
who fled to Antwerp. William now entered into direct negotiations with
Aerschot and other prominent nobles of Flanders and Brabant. He took a
further step by sending, at the request of the citizens of Ghent, a
strong armed force to protect the town against the Spanish garrison in
the citadel. In the absence of any lawful government, the States-General
were summoned to meet at Brussels on September 22. Deputies from
Brabant, Flanders and Hainault alone attended, but in the name of the
States-General they nominated Aerschot, Viglius and Sasbout as
Councillors of State, and appointed Aerschot to the command of the
forces, with the Count of Lalaing as his lieutenant. They then, Sept.
27, approached the prince with proposals for forming a union of all the
provinces. As a preliminary it was agreed that the conditions, which had
been put forward by William as indispensable--namely, exclusion of all
foreigners from administrative posts, dismissal of foreign troops, and
religious toleration--should be accepted. The proposals were gladly
received by William, and Ghent was chosen as the place where nine
delegates from Holland and Zeeland should confer with nine delegates
nominated by the States-General as representing the other provinces.
They met on October 19. Difficulties arose on two points--the
recognition to be accorded to Don John of Austria, and the principle of
non-interference with religious beliefs. Orange himself had always been
an advocate of toleration, but the representatives of Holland and
Zeeland showed an obstinate disinclination to allow liberty of Catholic
worship within their borders; and this attitude of theirs might, in
spite of the prince's efforts, have led to a breaking-off of the
negotiations, had not an event occurred which speedily led to a sinking
of differences on the only possible basis, that of mutual concession and
compromise.

The citadel of Antwerp was, during this month of October, garrisoned by
a body of mutinous Spanish troops under the command of Sancho d'Avila,
the victor of Mook. Champagney, the governor, had with him a body of
German mercenaries under a certain Count Oberstein; and at his request,
such was the threatening attitude of the Spaniards, the States-General
sent Havré with a reinforcement of Walloon troops. On Sunday, November
4, the garrison, which had been joined by other bands of mutineers,
turned the guns of the citadel upon the town and sallying forth attacked
the forces of Champagney. The Germans offered but a feeble resistance.
Oberstein perished; Champagney and Havré took refuge on vessels in the
river; and the Spaniards were masters of Antwerp. The scene of massacre,
lust and wholesale pillage, which followed, left a memory behind it
unique in its horror even among the excesses of this blood-stained time.
The "Spanish Fury," as it was called, spelt the ruin of what, but a
short time before, had been the wealthiest and most flourishing
commercial city in the world.

The news of this disaster reached the States-General, as they were in
the act of considering the draft proposals which had been submitted to
them by the Ghent conference. At the same time tidings came that Don
John, who had travelled through France in disguise, had arrived at
Luxemburg. They quickly therefore came to a decision to ratify the pact,
known as the _Pacification of Ghent,_ and on November 8 it was signed.
The _Pacification_ was really a treaty between the Prince of Orange and
the Estates of Holland and Zeeland on the one hand, and the
States-General representing the other provinces. It was agreed that the
Spanish troops should be compelled to leave the Netherlands and that the
States-General of the whole seventeen provinces, as they were convened
at the abdication of Charles V, should be called together to decide upon
the question of religious toleration and other matters of national
importance. Meanwhile the placards against heresy were suspended, and
all the illegal measures and sentences of Alva declared null and void.
His confiscated property was restored to Orange, and his position, as
stadholder in Holland and Zeeland, acknowledged. Don John was informed
that he would not be recognised as governor-general unless he would
consent to dismiss the Spanish troops, accept the Pacification of Ghent,
and swear to maintain the rights and privileges of the Provinces.
Negotiations ensued, but for a long time to little purpose; and Don
John, who was rather an impetuous knight-errant than a statesman and
diplomatist, remained during the winter months at Namur, angry at his
reception and chafing at the conditions imposed upon him, which he dared
not accept without permission from the king. In December the
States-General containing deputies from all the provinces met at
Brussels, and in January the Pacification of Ghent was confirmed, and a
new compact, to which the name of the Union of Brussels was given, was
drawn up by a number of influential Catholics. This document, to which
signatures were invited, was intended to give to the Pacification of
Ghent the sanction of popular support and to be at the same time a
guarantee for the maintenance of the royal authority and the Catholic
religion. The Union of Brussels was generally approved throughout the
southern provinces, and the signatories from every class were numbered
by thousands. Don John, who was at Huy, saw that it was necessary to
temporise. He was willing, he declared, to dismiss the foreign troops
and send them out of the country and to maintain the ancient charters
and liberties of the provinces, provided that nothing was done to
subvert the king's authority or the Catholic faith. Finally, on February
12, a treaty called "The Perpetual Edict," a most inappropriate name,
was signed, and the States-General acknowledged Don John as
governor-general. The agreement was principally the work of Aerschot and
the loyalist Catholic party, who followed his leadership, and was far
from being entirely acceptable to Orange. He had no trust in the good
faith of either Philip or his representative, and, though he recommended
Holland and Zeeland to acquiesce in the treaty and acknowledge Don John
as governor-general, it was with the secret resolve to keep a close
watch upon his every action, and not to brook any attempt to interfere
with religious liberty in the two provinces, in which he exercised
almost sovereign power and with whose struggles for freedom he had
identified himself.

The undertaking of Don John with regard to the Spanish troops was
punctually kept. Before the end of April they had all left the country;
and on May 1 the new governor-general made his state entry into
Brussels. It was to outward appearances very brilliant. But the hero of
Lepanto found himself at once distrusted by the Catholic nobles and
checkmated by the influence and diplomacy of the ever watchful William
of Orange. Chafing at his impotence, and ill-supported by the king, who
sent no reply to his appeals for financial help, Don John suddenly left
the capital and, placing himself at the head of a body of Walloon
troops, seized Namur. Feeling himself in this stronghold more secure, he
tried to bring pressure on the States-General to place in his hands
wider powers and to stand by him in his efforts to force Orange to
submit to the authority of the king. His efforts were in vain. William
had warned the States-General and the nobles of the anti-Spanish party
in Brabant and Flanders that Don John was not to be trusted, and he now
pointed to the present attitude of the governor-general, as a proof that
his suspicions were well-founded. Indeed the eyes of all true patriots
began to turn to the prince, who had been quietly strengthening his
position, not only in Holland and Zeeland, where he was supreme, but
also in Utrecht and Gelderland; and popular movements in Brussels and
elsewhere took place in his favour. So strongly marked was the Orange
feeling in the capital that the States-General acceded to the general
wish that the prince should be invited to come in person to Brussels.
Confidence was expressed by Catholics no less than by Protestants that
only under his leadership could the country be delivered from Spanish
tyranny. A deputation was sent, bearing the invitation; but for a while
William hesitated in giving an affirmative reply. On September 23,
however, he made his entry into Brussels amidst general demonstrations
of joy and was welcomed as "the Restorer and Defender of the
Father-land's liberty." Thus, ten years after he had been declared an
outlaw and banished, did the Prince of Orange return in triumph to the
town which had witnessed the execution of Egmont and Hoorn. It was the
proudest day of his life and the supreme point of his career.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER V

WILLIAM THE SILENT


The position of William at Brussels after his triumphant entry,
September 23, 1577, was by no means an easy one. His main support was
derived from a self-elected Council of Eighteen, containing
representatives of the gilds and of the citizens. This Council
controlled an armed municipal force and was really master in the city.
In these circumstances the States-General did not venture upon any
opposition to the popular wishes, in other words to William, whose
influence with the masses was unbounded. The States-General, therefore,
under pressure from the Eighteen, informed Don John, October 8, that
they no longer recognised him as governor-general; and the Estates of
Brabant appointed the prince to the office of _Ruward_ or governor of
the province. Meanwhile a fresh factor of disturbance had been
introduced into the troubled scene. Certain of the Catholic nobles
opposed to Spanish rule, but suspicious of Orange, had invited the
twenty year old Archduke Matthias, brother of the emperor, to accept the
sovereignty of the Netherlands. Matthias, who was of an adventurous
spirit, after some parleying agreed. He accordingly left Vienna
secretly, and at the end of October arrived in the Netherlands. Not
content with this counter-stroke, Aerschot went to Ghent to stir up
opposition to the appointment of William as Ruward of Brabant. The
populace however in Ghent was Orangist, and, rising in revolt, seized
Aerschot and a number of other Catholic leaders and threw them into
prison. They were speedily released, but the breach between the Catholic
nobles and the Calvinist stadholder of Holland was widened. William
himself saw in the coming of Matthias a favourable opportunity for
securing the erection of the Netherlands into a constitutional State
under the nominal rule of a Habsburg prince. By his influence,
therefore, the States-General entered into negotiations with the
Archduke; and Matthias finally was recognised (December 8) as governor
on condition that he accepted the Union of Brussels, He was also induced
to place the real power in the hands of Orange with the title of
Lieutenant-General. Matthias made his state entry into Brussels, January
18, 1578. His position appeared to be strengthened by a treaty concluded
with the English queen (January 7) by which Elizabeth promised to send
over a body of troops and to grant a subsidy to the States, for the
repayment of which the towns of Middelburg, Bruges and Gravelines were
to be pledges.

The news however of the step taken by Matthias had had more effect upon
Philip II than the despairing appeals of his half-brother. A powerful
army of tried Spanish and Italian troops under the command of Alexander
Farnese, Prince of Parma, son of the former regent Margaret, was sent to
Flanders. Farnese was Don John's nephew, and they had been brought up
together at Madrid, being almost of the same age. Already Philip had
determined to replace Don John, whose brilliance as a leader in the
field did not compensate for his lack of statesmanlike qualities. In
Farnese, whether by good fortune or deliberate choice, he had at length
found a consummate general who was to prove himself a match even for
William the Silent in all the arts of political combination and
intrigue. At Gembloux, January 31, Don John and Parma fell upon the
levies of the States and gained a complete and almost bloodless victory.
Had Philip supplied his governor-general with the money he asked for,
Don John might now have conquered the whole of the southern Netherlands,
but without funds he could achieve little.

Meanwhile all was confusion. The States-General withdrew from Brussels
to Antwerp; and William, finding that Matthias was useless, began
negotiations with France, England and Germany in the hope of finding in
this emergency some other foreign prince ready to brave the wrath of
Philip by accepting the suzerainty of the Netherlands. The Duke of
Anjou, brother of the French king, was the favoured candidate of the
Catholic party; and William, whose one aim was to secure the aid of a
powerful protector in the struggle against Spain, was ready to accept
him. Anjou at the head of an army of 15,000 men crossed the frontier at
Mons, July 12; and, on the following August 13, a treaty was agreed upon
between him and the States-General, by which the French duke, with the
title of _Defender of the Liberties of the Netherlands_, undertook to
help the States to expel the Spaniards from the Low Countries. But, to
add to the complications of the situation, a German force under the
command of John Casimir, brother of the Elector Palatine, and in the pay
of Queen Elizabeth, invaded the hapless provinces from the east. The
advent of John Casimir was greeted with enthusiasm by the Calvinist
party; and it required all the skill and sagacity of the Prince of
Orange to keep the peace and prevent the rival interests from breaking
out into open strife in the face of the common enemy. But Don John was
helpless, his repeated appeals for financial help remained unanswered,
and, sick at heart and weary of life, he contracted a fever and died in
his camp at Namur, October 1, 1578. His successor in the
governor-generalship was Alexander of Parma, who had now before him a
splendid field for the exercise of his great abilities.

The remainder of the year 1578 saw a violent recrudescence of religious
bitterness. In vain did Orange, who throughout his later life was a
genuine and earnest advocate of religious toleration, strive to the
utmost of his powers and with untiring patience to allay the suspicions
and fears of the zealots. John Casimir at Ghent, in the fervour of his
fanatical Calvinism, committed acts of violence and oppression, which
had the very worst effect in the Walloon provinces. In this part of the
Netherlands Catholicism was dominant; and there had always been in the
provinces of Hainault, Artois, and in the southern districts generally,
a feeling of distrust towards Orange. The upholding of the principle of
religious toleration by a man who had twice changed his faith was itself
suspect; and Farnese left no means untried for increasing this growing
anti-Orange feeling among the Catholic nobles. A party was formed, which
bore the name of "The Malcontents," whose leaders were Montigny, Lalaing
and La Motte. With these the governor-general entered into negotiations,
with the result that an alliance was made between Hainault, Artois,
Lille, Douay and Orchies (January 6, 1579), called the Union of Arras,
for the maintenance of the Catholic faith, by which these Walloon
provinces and towns expressed their readiness to submit to the king on
condition that he were willing to agree to uphold their rights and
privileges in accordance with the provisions of the Pacification of
Ghent. The Union of Arras did not as yet mean a complete reconciliation
with the Spanish sovereign, but it did mean the beginning of a breach
between the Calvinist north and the Catholic south, which the
statecraft of Parma gradually widened into an impossible chasm. Before
this took place, Anjou, Matthias and John Casimir had alike withdrawn
from the scene of anarchic confusion, in which for a brief time each had
been trying to compass his own ambitious ends in selfish indifference
to the welfare of the people they were proposing to deliver from the
Spanish yoke. The opening of the year 1579 saw Orange and Parma face to
face preparing to measure their strength in a grim struggle for the
mastery.

In the very same month as witnessed the signing of the Union of Arras, a
rival union had been formed in the northern Netherlands, which was
destined to be much more permanent. The real author however of the Union
of Utrecht was not Orange, but his brother, John of Nassau. In March,
1578, John had been elected Stadholder of Gelderland. He, like William,
had devoted himself heart and soul to the cause of Netherland freedom,
but his Calvinism was far more pronounced than his brother's. From the
moment of his acceptance of the stadholdership he set to work to effect
a close union between Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht with Gelderland and
the adjoining districts which lay around the Zuyder Zee. It was a
difficult task, since the eastern provinces were afraid (and not
unjustly) that its much greater wealth would give Holland predominance
in the proposed confederation. Nevertheless it was accomplished, and an
Act of Union was drawn up and signed at Utrecht, January 29, 1579, by
the representatives of Holland, Zeeland, the town and district
(_sticht_) of Utrecht, Gelderland and Zutphen, by which they agreed to
defend their rights and liberties and to resist all foreign intervention
in their affairs by common action as if they were one province, and to
establish and maintain freedom of conscience and of worship within their
boundaries. William does not seem at first to have been altogether
pleased with his brother's handiwork. He still hoped that a
confederation on a much wider scale might have been formed, comprising
the greater part of those who had appended their signatures to the
Pacification of Ghent. It was not until some months had passed and he
saw that his dreams of a larger union were not to be realised, that he
signed, on May 3, the Act of Union drawn up at Utrecht. By this time he
was well aware that Parma had succeeded in winning over the malcontent
nobles to accept his terms. On May 19 the Walloon provinces, whose
representatives had signed the Union of Arras, agreed to acknowledge,
with certain nominal reservations, the sovereignty of Philip and to
allow only Catholic worship. In fact the reconciliation was complete.

Thus, despite the efforts of Orange, the idea of the federation of all
the seventeen provinces on national lines became a thing of the past,
henceforth unattainable. The Netherlands were divided into two camps.
Gradually in the course of 1580 Overyssel, Drente and the greater part
of Friesland gave in their adherence to the Union of Utrecht, and
Groningen and the Ommelanden allied themselves with their neighbours. In
the rest of the Low Countries all fell away and submitted themselves to
the king's authority, except Antwerp and Breda in Brabant, and Ghent,
Bruges and Ypres in Flanders. William felt that Parma was constantly
gaining ground. Defection after defection took place, the most serious
being that of George Lalaing, Count of Renneberg, the Stadholder of
Groningen. Negotiations were indeed secretly opened with William
himself, and the most advantageous and flattering terms offered to him,
if he would desert the patriot cause. But with him opposition to Spain
and to Spanish methods of government was a matter of principle and
strong conviction. He was proof alike against bribery and cajolery, even
when he perceived, as the year 1580 succeeded 1579, that he had no
staunch friends on whom he could absolutely rely, save in the devoted
provinces of Holland and Zeeland.

For things had been going from bad to worse. The excesses and cruelties
committed by the Calvinists, wherever they found themselves in a
position to persecute a Catholic minority, and especially the outrages
perpetrated at Ghent under the leadership of two Calvinist fanatics, De
Ryhove and De Hembyze, although they were done in direct opposition to
the wishes and efforts of Orange, always and at all times the champion
of toleration, did much to discredit him in Flanders and Brabant and to
excite bitter indignation among the Catholics, who still formed the
great majority of the population of the Netherlands. William felt
himself to be month by month losing power. The action he was at last
compelled to take, in rescuing Ghent from the hands of the
ultra-democratic Calvinist party and in expelling De Ryhove and De
Hembyze, caused him to be denounced as "a papist at heart." Indeed the
bigots of both creeds in that age of intolerance and persecution were
utterly unable to understand his attitude, and could only attribute it
to a lack of any sincere religious belief at all. Farnese, meanwhile,
whose genius for Machiavellian statesmanship was as remarkable as those
gifts for leadership in war which entitled him to rank as the first
general of his time, was a man who never failed to take full advantage
of the mistakes and weaknesses of his opponents. At the head of a
veteran force he laid siege in the spring of 1579 to the important
frontier town of Maestricht. He encountered a desperate resistance,
worthy of the defence of Haarlem or of Leyden, and for four months the
garrison held out grimly in the hope of relief. But, despite all the
efforts of Orange to despatch an adequate force to raise the siege, at
last (June 29) the town was carried by assault and delivered up for
three days to the fury of a savage soldiery. By the possession of this
key to the Meuse, Parma was now able to cut off communications between
Brabant and Protestant Germany. Had he indeed been adequately supported
by Philip it is probable that at this time all the provinces up to the
borders of Holland might have been brought into subjection by the
Spanish forces.

The position of William was beset with perils on every side. One by one
his adherents were deserting him; even in the provinces of Holland and
Zeeland he was losing ground. He saw clearly that without foreign help
the national cause for which he had sacrificed everything was doomed. In
this emergency he reopened negotiations with Anjou, not because he had
any trust in the French prince's capacity or sincerity, but for the
simple reason that there was no one else to whom he could turn. As heir
to the throne of France and at this time the favoured suitor of Queen
Elizabeth, his acceptance of the sovereignty of the Netherlands would
secure, so Orange calculated, the support both of France and England. It
was his hope also that the limiting conditions attached to the offer of
sovereignty would enable him to exercise a strong personal control over
a man of weak character like Anjou. The Duke's vanity and ambition were
flattered by the proposal; and on September 19, 1580, a provisional
treaty was signed at Plessis-les-Tours by which Anjou accepted the offer
that was made to him, and showed himself quite ready to agree to any
limitations imposed upon his authority, since he had not any intention,
when once he held the reins of power, of observing them.

The first effect of William's negotiations with Anjou was to alienate
the Calvinists without gaining over the Catholics. Anjou was suspect
to both. The action of the Spanish government, however, at this critical
juncture did much to restore the credit of the prince with all to whom
the Spanish tyranny and the memory of Alva were abhorrent. Cardinal
Granvelle, after fifteen years of semi-exile in Italy, had lately been
summoned to Madrid to become chief adviser to the king. Granvelle
spared no pains to impress upon Philip the necessity of getting rid of
Orange as the chief obstacle to the pacification of the Netherlands, and
advised that a price should be placed upon his life. "The very fear of
it will paralyse or kill him" was the opinion of the cardinal, who ought
to have had a better understanding of the temper and character of his
old adversary. Accordingly at Maestricht, March 15, 1581, "a ban and
edict in form of proscription" was published against the prince, who was
denounced as "a traitor and miscreant, an enemy of ourselves and of our
country"; and all and everywhere empowered "to seize the person and
goods of this William of Nassau, as enemy of the human race." A solemn
promise was also made "to anyone who has the heart to free us of this
pest, and who will deliver him dead or alive, or take his life, the sum
of 25,000 crowns in gold or in estates for himself and his heirs; and we
will pardon him any crimes of which he has been guilty, and give him a
patent of nobility, if he be not noble." It is a document which, however
abhorrent or loathsome it may appear to us, was characteristic of the
age in which it was promulgated and in accordance with the ideas of that
cruel time. The ban was a declaration of war to the knife, and as such
it was received and answered.

In reply to the ban the prince at the close of the year (December 13)
published a very lengthy defence of his life and actions, the famous
_Apology_. To William himself is undoubtedly due the material which the
document embodies and the argument it contains, but it was almost
certainly not written by him, but by his chaplain, Pierre L'Oyseleur,
Seigneur de Villiers, to whom it owes its rather ponderous prolixity and
redundant verbiage. Historically it is of very considerable value,
though the facts are not always to be relied upon as strictly accurate.
The _Apology_ was translated into several languages and distributed to
the leading personages in every neighbouring country, and made a deep
impression on men's minds.

The combined effect of the _Ban_ and _the Apology_ was to strengthen
William's position in all the provinces where the patriot party still
held the upper hand; and he was not slow to take advantage of the strong
anti-Spanish feeling which was aroused. Its intensity was shown by the
solemn Act of Abjuration, July 26, 1581, by which the provinces of
Brabant, Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Gelderland renounced
their allegiance to Philip II on the ground of his tyranny and misrule.
But after signing this Act it never seems to have occurred to the prince
or to the representatives of the provinces, that these now derelict
territories could remain without a personal sovereign. Orange used all
his influence and persuasiveness to induce them to accept Anjou. Anjou,
as we have seen, had already agreed to the conditions under which he
should, when invited, become "prince and lord" of the Netherlands. In
the autumn of 1581 the position was an ambiguous one. The States-General
claimed that, after the abjuration of Philip, the sovereignty of the
provinces had reverted to them, as the common representative of a group
of provinces that were now sovereign in their own right, and that the
conferring of that sovereignty on another overlord was their
prerogative. The position of Orange was peculiar, for _de facto_ under
one title or another he exercised the chief authority in each one of the
rebel provinces, but in the name of the States-General, instead of the
king. His influence indeed was so great as to over-shadow that of the
States-General, but great as it was, it had to be exerted to the utmost
before that body could be induced to accept a man of Anjou's despicable
and untrustworthy character as their new ruler. William however had
committed himself to the candidature of the duke, through lack of any
fitter choice; and at last both the States-General and the several
provincial Estates (Holland and Zeeland excepted) agreed to confer the
sovereignty upon the French prince subject to the conditions of the
treaty of Plessis-les-Tours.

William himself exercised the powers with which Holland and Zeeland had
invested him in the name of the king, whose stadholder he was, even when
waging war against him. After the Abjuration this pretence could no
longer be maintained. The Estates of Holland and Zeeland had indeed
petitioned Orange to become their count, but he refused the title,
fearing to give umbrage to Anjou. Finding, however, the two provinces
resolute in their opposition to the Valois prince, he consented, July
24, 1581, to exercise provisionally, as if he were count, the powers
of "high supremacy," which had already been conferred upon him.
Meanwhile Anjou was dallying in England, but on receiving through Ste
Aldegonde an intimation that the States could brook no further delay,
he set sail and landed at Flushing. Lord Leicester and a brilliant
English escort accompanied him; and Elizabeth asked the States to
receive her suitor as "her own self." At Antwerp, where he took up his
residence, Anjou was (February 19) solemnly invested with the duchy of
Brabant, and received the homage of his new subjects. He was far from
popular, and William remained at his side to give him support and
counsel. On March 18 (Anjou's birthday) an untoward event occurred,
which threatened to have most disastrous consequences. As Orange was
leaving the dinner-table, a young Biscayan, Juan Jaureguy by name,
attempted his assassination, by firing a pistol at him. The ball entered
the head by the right ear and passed through the palate. Jaureguy was
instantly killed and it was afterwards found that he had, for the sake
of the reward, been instigated to the deed by his master, a merchant
named Caspar Anastro. Anjou, who was at first suspected of being
accessory to the crime, was thus exculpated. It was a terrible wound and
William's life was for some time in great danger; but by the assiduous
care of his physicians and nurses he very slowly recovered, and was
strong enough, on May 2, to attend a solemn service of thanksgiving. The
shock of the event and the long weeks of anxiety were however too heavy
a strain upon his wife, Charlotte de Bourbon, who had recently given
birth to their sixth daughter. Her death, on May 5, was deeply grieved
by the prince, for Charlotte had been a most devoted helpmeet and
adviser to him throughout the anxious years of their married life.
During the whole of the summer and autumn William remained at Antwerp,
patiently trying to smooth away the difficulties caused by the dislike
and suspicion felt by the Netherlanders for the man whom they were asked
to recognise as their sovereign. It was an arduous task, but William, at
the cost of his own popularity, succeeded in getting the duke
acknowledged in July as Lord of Friesland and Duke of Gelderland, and in
August Anjou was solemnly installed at Bruges, as Count of Flanders.
Meanwhile he was planning, with the help of the large French force which
Anjou had undertaken to bring into the Netherlands, to take the
offensive against Parma. The truth is that he and Anjou were really
playing at cross-purposes. Orange wished Anjou to be the
_roi-fainéant_ of a United Netherland state of which he himself should
be the real ruler, but Anjou had no intention of being treated as a
second Matthias. He secretly determined to make himself master of
Antwerp by a sudden attack and, this achieved, to proceed to seize by
force of arms some of the other principal cities and to make himself
sovereign in reality as well as in name. He resented his dependence upon
Orange and was resolved to rid himself of it. With shameless treachery
in the early morning of January 17, 1583, he paid a visit to the prince
in Antwerp, and, with the object of gaining possession of his person,
tried to persuade him to attend a review of the French regiments who
were encamped outside the town. The suspicions of William had however
been aroused, and he pleaded some excuse for declining the invitation.
At midday some thousands of Anjou's troops rushed into the city at the
dinner-hour with loud cries of "Ville gagnée! Tue! Tue!" But the
citizens flew to arms; barricades were erected; and finally the French
were driven out with heavy loss, leaving some 1500 prisoners in the
hands of the town-guard. Many French nobles perished, and the "French
Fury," as it was called, was an ignominious and ghastly failure.
Indignation was wide and deep throughout the provinces; and William's
efforts to calm the excitement and patch up some fresh agreement with
the false Valois, though for the moment partially successful, only added
to his own growing unpopularity.

The prince in fact was so wedded to the idea that the only hope for the
provinces lay in securing French aid that he seemed unable to convince
himself that Anjou after this act of base treachery was impossible. His
continued support of the duke only served to alienate the people of
Brabant and Flanders. The Protestants hated the thought of having as
their sovereign a prince who was a Catholic and whose mother and
brothers were looked upon by them as the authors of the massacre of St
Bartholomew. The Catholics, cajoled by Parma's fair words, and alarmed
by the steady progress of his arms, were already inclining to return to
their old allegiance. The marriage of Orange, April 7, 1583, to Louise,
daughter of the famous Huguenot leader Admiral Coligny, and widow of the
Sieur de Téligny, added to the feelings of distrust and hostility he had
already aroused, for the bride was a Frenchwoman and both her father and
husband had perished on the fatal St Bartholomew's day.

Finding himself exposed to insult, and his life ever in danger,
William, at the end of July, left Antwerp and took up his residence
again at Delft in the midst of his faithful Hollanders. They, too,
disliked his French proclivities, but his alliance with Louise de
Téligny seemed to be an additional pledge to these strong Calvinists of
his religious sincerity.

Meanwhile Anjou had already returned to France; and Parma had now a
freer field for his advance northwards and, though sorely hampered by
lack of funds, was rapidly taking town after town. In the spring of 1584
he took Ypres and Bruges, and a strong party in Ghent was in traitorous
correspondence with him. Many nobles had fallen away from the patriot
cause, among them William's brother-in-law, Count van den Berg, who had
succeeded John of Nassau as Stadholder of Gelderland. The hold of Orange
upon Brabant and the Scheldt was, however, still ensured by the
possession of Antwerp, of which strongly fortified town the trusty Ste
Aldegonde was governor.

Meanwhile the prince, who was still striving hard to persuade the
provinces that were hostile to Spanish rule that their only hope lay in
obtaining aid from France through Anjou, was living at the old convent
of St Agatha, afterwards known as the Prinsenhof at Delft. His manner of
life was of the most modest and homely kind, just like that of an
ordinary Dutch burgher. He was in fact deeply in debt, terribly worried
with the outward aspect of things, and his position became one of
growing difficulty, for on June 10, 1584, the miserable Anjou died, and
the policy on which he had for so long expended his best efforts was
wrecked. Even his own recognition as Count of Holland and Zeeland had
led to endless negotiations between the Estates and the various town
councils which claimed to have a voice in the matter; and in July, 1584,
he had, though provisionally exercising sovereign authority, not yet
received formal homage. And all this time, in addition to the other
cares that weighed heavily upon him, there was the continual dread of
assassination. Ever since the failure of the attempt of Jaureguy, there
had been a constant succession of plots against the life of the rebel
leader and heretic at the instigation of the Spanish government, and
with the knowledge of Parma. Religious fanaticism, loyalty to the
legitimate sovereign, together with the more sordid motive of pecuniary
reward, made many eager to undertake the murderous commission. It was
made the easier from the fact that the prince always refused to
surround himself with guards or to take any special precautions, and was
always easy of access. Many schemes and proposed attempts came to
nothing either through the vigilance of William's spies or through the
lack of courage of the would-be assassins. A youth named Balthazar
Gérard had however become obsessed with the conviction that he had a
special mission to accomplish the deed in which Jaureguy had failed, and
he devoted himself to the task of ridding the world of one whom he
looked upon as the arch-enemy of God and the king. Under the false name
of Francis Guyon he made his way to Delft, pretended to be a zealous
Calvinist flying from persecution, and went about begging for alms. The
prince, even in his poverty always charitable, hearing of his needy
condition sent to the man a present of twelve crowns. With this gift
Gérard bought a pair of pistols and on July 10, 1584, having managed on
some pretext to gain admittance to the Prinsenhof, he concealed himself
in a dark corner by the stairs just opposite the door of the room where
William and his family were dining. As the prince, accompanied by his
wife, three of his daughters and one of his sisters, came out and was
approaching the staircase, the assassin darted forward and fired two
bullets into his breast. The wound was mortal; William fell to the
ground and speedily expired. Tradition says that, as he fell, he
exclaimed in French: "My God, have pity on my soul! My God, have pity on
this poor people!" But an examination of contemporary records of the
murder throws considerable doubt on the statement that such words were
uttered. The nature of the wound was such that the probability is that
intelligible speech was impossible.

Balthazar Gérard gloried in his deed, and bore the excruciating tortures
which were inflicted upon him with almost superhuman patience and
courage. He looked upon himself as a martyr in a holy cause, and as such
he was regarded by Catholic public opinion. His deed was praised both by
Granvelle and Parma, and Philip bestowed a patent of nobility on his
family, and exempted them from taxation.

In Holland there was deep and general grief at the tragic ending of the
great leader, who had for so many years been the fearless and
indefatigable champion of their resistance to civil and religious
tyranny. He was accorded a public funeral and buried with great pomp
in the Nieuwe Kerk at Delft, where a stately memorial, recording his
many high qualities and services, was erected to his memory.

William of Orange was but fifty-one years of age when his life was thus
prematurely ended, and though he had been much aged by the cares and
anxieties of a crushing responsibility, his physicians declared that at
the time of his death he was perfectly healthy and that he might have
been spared to carry on his work for many years, had he escaped the
bullets of the assassin. But it was not to be. It is possible that he
should be reckoned in the number of those whose manner of death sets the
seal to a life-work of continuous self-sacrifice. The title of "Father
of his Country," which was affectionately given to him by Hollanders of
every class, was never more deservedly bestowed, for it was in the
Holland that his exertions had freed and that he had made the
impregnable fortress of the resistance to Spain that he ever felt more
at home than anywhere else. It was in the midst of his own people that
he laid down the life that had been consecrated to their cause. As a
general he had never been successful. As a statesman he had failed to
accomplish that union of the Netherlands, north and south, which at one
triumphant moment had seemed to be well-nigh realised by the
Pacification of Ghent. But he had by the spirit that he had aroused in
Holland and its sister province of Zeeland created a barrier against
Spanish domination in the northern Netherlands which was not to be
broken down.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER VI

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE DUTCH REPUBLIC


At the moment of the assassination of William the Silent it might well
have seemed to an impartial observer that the restoration of the
authority of the Spanish king over the whole of the Netherlands was only
a question of time. The military skill and the statecraft of Alexander
Farnese were making slow but sure progress in the reconquest of Flanders
and Brabant. Despite the miserable inadequacy of the financial support
he received from Spain, the governor-general, at the head of a
numerically small but thoroughly efficient and well-disciplined army,
was capturing town after town. In 1583 Dunkirk, Nieuport, Lindhoven,
Steenbergen, Zutphen and Sas-van-Gent fell; in the spring of 1584 Ypres
and Bruges were already in Spanish hands, and on the very day of
William's death the fort of Liefkenshoek on the Scheldt, one of the
outlying defences of Antwerp, was taken by assault. In August
Dendermonde, in September Ghent, surrendered. All West Flanders, except
the sea-ports of Ostend and Sluis, had in the early autumn of 1584 been
reduced to the obedience of the king. The campaign of the following year
was to be even more successful. Brussels, the seat of government, was
compelled by starvation to capitulate, March 10; Mechlin was taken, July
19; and finally Antwerp, after a memorable siege, in which Parma
displayed masterly skill and resource, passed once more into the
possession of the Spaniards. The fall of this great town was a very
heavy blow to the patriot cause, and it was likewise the ruin of Antwerp
itself. A very large part of its most enterprising inhabitants left
their homes rather than abjure their religious faith and took refuge in
Holland and Zeeland, or fled across the Rhine into Germany. Access to
the sea down the Scheldt was closed by the fleets of the Sea Beggars,
and the commerce and industry of the first commercial port of western
Europe passed to Amsterdam and Middelburg. Meanwhile there had been no
signs of weakness or of yielding on the part of the sturdy burghers of
Holland and Zeeland. On the fatal July 10, 1584, the Estates of
Holland were in session at Delft. They at once took energetic action
under the able leadership of Paul Buys, Advocate of Holland, and John
van Oldenbarneveldt, Pensionary of Rotterdam. They passed a resolution
"to uphold the good cause with God's help without sparing gold or
blood." Despatches were at once sent to the Estates of the other
provinces, to the town councils and to the military and naval
commanders, affirming their own determined attitude and exhorting all
those who had accepted the leadership of the murdered Prince of Orange
"to bear themselves manfully and piously without abatement of zeal on
account of the aforesaid misfortune." Their calm courage at such a
moment of crisis reassured men's minds. There was no panic. Steps were
at once taken for carrying on the government in Holland, Zeeland and
Utrecht. Stimulated by the example of Holland, the States-General
likewise took prompt action. On August 18 a Council of State was
appointed to exercise provisionally the executive powers of sovereignty,
consisting of eighteen members, four from Holland, three each from
Zeeland and Friesland, two from Utrecht and six from Brabant and
Flanders. Of this body Maurice of Nassau, William's seventeen year-old
son, was nominated first Councillor, and a pension of 30,000 guilders
per annum was granted him. At the same time Louise de Coligny was
invited to take up her residence in Holland and suitable provision was
made for her. William Lewis, son of Count John of Nassau, was elected
Stadholder of Friesland. Count Nieuwenaar was Stadholder of Gelderland
and shortly afterwards also of Utrecht and Overyssel. Owing to the youth
of Maurice the question as to whether he should become Count of Holland
and Zeeland or be elected Stadholder was left in abeyance until it
should be settled to which of two foreign rulers the sovereignty of the
provinces, now that Anjou was dead, should be offered.

In the revolted provinces the responsible leaders were at this time
practically unanimous in their opinion that any attempt on their part to
carry on the struggle against the power of Spain without foreign
assistance was hopeless; and it was held that such assistance could only
be obtained by following in the footsteps of William and offering to
confer the overlordship of the provinces on another sovereign in the
place of Philip II. There were but two possible candidates, Henry III of
France and Elizabeth of England.

There were objections to both, but the rapid successes of Parma made it
necessary to take action. The partisans of a French alliance were in the
majority, despite the efforts of a strong opposition headed by Paul
Buys; and an embassy (January, 1585) was despatched to Paris to offer
conditionally to the French king the Protectorship of Holland and
Zeeland and sovereignty over the other provinces. The negotiations went
on for a couple of months, but Henry III finally declined the offer.
Another embassy was sent, July, 1585, to England, but Elizabeth refused
absolutely to accept the sovereignty. She however was not averse to the
proposal that she should despatch a body of troops to the armed
assistance of the provinces, provided that adequate guarantees were
given for the outlay. She was afraid of Philip II and, though she had no
love for men who were rebels to their lawful sovereign, was quite
willing to use them for her own ends. Her motives therefore were mixed
and purely self-interested; nevertheless it is doubtful if the
negotiations would have led to any definite result, had not the news of
the fall of Antwerp made both parties feel that this was no time for
haggling or procrastination. Elizabeth therefore promised to send at
once 6000 troops under the command of a "gentleman of quality," who
should bear the title of governor-general. He was to co-operate with the
Council of State (on which two Englishmen were to sit) in restoring
order and in maintaining and defending the ancient rights and privileges
of the provinces. The governor-general and all other officials were to
take an oath of fealty both to the States-General and to the queen. The
towns of Flushing and Brill with the fort of Rammekens were to be handed
over in pledge to Elizabeth for the repayment of expenses and received
English garrisons. They were known as "the cautionary towns."

At the end of October the States were informed that the choice of the
queen had fallen upon her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester,
and that he would shortly set out for the Netherlands. Holland and
Zeeland, ever jealous of foreign interference with their rights and
privileges, resolved now to forestall the arrival of the English
governor-general by appointing Maurice of Nassau, with the title of
"Excellency," to the offices of Stadholder and Admiral and
Captain-General of both provinces; and the Count of Hohenlo was
nominated (Maurice being still little more than a boy) to the actual
command of the State's forces. Leicester set sail from Harwich
accompanied by a fleet of fifty vessels and landed at Flushing on
December 19. He met everywhere with an enthusiastic reception. The
States-General were eager to confer large powers upon him. Practically
he was invested with the same authority as the former regent, Mary of
Hungary, with the reservation that the States-General and the Provincial
Estates should meet at their own instance, that the present stadholders
should continue in office, and that appointments to vacant offices
should be made from two or three persons nominated by the Provincial
Estates. A new Council of State was created which, as previously agreed,
included two Englishmen. On February 4, 1586, Leicester's government was
solemnly inaugurated in the presence of Maurice of Nassau and the
States-General, and he accepted the title of "Excellency." Elizabeth on
hearing this was very angry and even threatened to recall Leicester, and
she sent Lord Heneage to express both to the States-General and the
governor-general her grave displeasure at what had taken place. She bade
Leicester restrict himself to the functions that she had assigned to
him, and it was not until July that she was sufficiently appeased to
allow him to be addressed as "Excellency."

All this was galling to Leicester's pride and ambition, and did not tend
to improve his relations with the States. An English governor would in
any case have had a difficult task, and Leicester had neither tact nor
capacity as a statesman, and no pretensions as a military leader. He
possessed no knowledge of the institutions of the country or the
character of the people, and was ignorant of the Dutch language. The
measures he took and the arbitrary way in which he tried to enforce
them, soon brought him face to face with the stubborn resistance of the
Estates of Holland under the leadership of Oldenbarneveldt. In April,
1586, he issued a very stringent placard forbidding all traffic with the
enemy's lands and more especially the supplying of the enemy with grain.
He meant it well, for he had been informed that the cutting-off of this
commerce, which he regarded as illicit, would deprive the Spaniards of
the necessaries of life, and Parma's position would become desperate.
This carrying trade had, however, for long been a source of much profit
to the merchants and shipowners of Holland and Zeeland; indeed it
supplied no small part of the resources by which those two provinces
had equipped the fleets and troops by which they had defended themselves
against the efforts of the Spanish king. Two years before this the
States-General had tried to place an embargo on the traffic in grain,
but the powerful town-council of Amsterdam had refused obedience and the
Estates of Holland supported them in their action. The deputies of the
inland provinces, which had suffered most from the Spanish armies, were
jealous of the prosperity of the maritime States, and regarded this
trade with the Spaniard as being carried on to their injury. But Holland
and Zeeland supplied the funds without which resistance would long since
have been impossible, and they claimed moreover, as sovereign provinces,
the right to regulate their trade affairs. The edict remained a
dead-letter, for there was no power to enforce it.

The governor made a still greater mistake when, in his annoyance at the
opposition of the Hollanders, he courted the democratic anti-Holland
party in Utrecht, which had as its leader the ultra-Calvinist
stadholder, Nieuwenaar, and caused one of his confidants, a Brabanter,
Gerard Prounick, surnamed Deventer, to be elected burgomaster of
Utrecht, although as a foreigner he was disqualified from holding that
office. An even more arbitrary act was his creation of a Chamber of
Finance armed with inquisitorial powers, thus invading the rights of the
Provincial Estates and depriving the Council of State of one of its most
important functions. To make matters worse, he appointed Nieuwenaar to
preside over the new Chamber, with a Brabanter, Jacques Reingoud, as
treasurer-general, and a Fleming, Daniel de Burchgrave, as auditor. The
Estates of Holland, under the guidance of Oldenbarneveldt, prepared
themselves to resist stubbornly this attempt to thrust upon them a new
tyranny.

As a military leader Leicester was quite unfitted to oppose successfully
such a general as Parma. Both commanders were in truth much hampered by
the preparations that were being made by Philip for the invasion of
England. The king could spare Parma but little money for the pay of his
troops, and his orders were that the Spanish forces in the Netherlands
should be held in reserve and readiness for embarkation, as soon as the
Great Armada should hold command of the Channel. England was the first
objective. When its conquest was accomplished that of the rebel
provinces would speedily follow. On the other hand Elizabeth, always
niggardly, was little disposed in face of the threatened danger to
dissipate her resources by any needless expenditure. Leicester
therefore found himself at the head of far too small a force to deal any
effective blows at the enemy. He succeeded in capturing Doesburg, but
failed to take Zutphen. It was in a gallant effort to prevent a Spanish
convoy from entering that town that Sir Philip Sidney met his death at
the combat of Warnsfeld (Sept. 22, 1586). An important fort facing
Zutphen was however stormed, and here Leicester left Sir Robert Yorke
with a strong garrison, and at the same time sent Sir William Stanley
with 1200 men to be governor of Deventer. These appointments gave rise
to much criticism that proved later to be fully justified, for both
these officers were Catholics and had formerly been in the Spanish
service. Leicester had also taken other steps that were ill-judged. West
Friesland had for many years been united to Holland and was known as the
North-Quarter. The governor-general, however, appointed Sonoy Stadholder
of West Friesland, and was thus infringing the rights and jurisdiction
of Maurice of Nassau. Maurice also held the post of Admiral-General of
Holland and Zeeland, but Leicester took it upon himself to create three
distinct Admiralty Colleges, those of Holland, Zeeland, and the
North-Quarter, thus further dividing authority in a land where greater
unity was the chief thing to be aimed at. Leicester was equally unwise
in the part he took in regard to religious matters. Oldenbarneveldt,
Paul Buys and the great majority of burgher-regents in Holland belonged
to the moderate or, as it was called, the "libertine" party, to which
William the Silent had adhered and whose principles of toleration he had
strongly upheld. Leicester, largely influenced by spite against
Oldenbarneveldt and the Hollanders for their opposition to his edict
about trade with the enemy and to his appointment of Sonoy, threw
himself into the arms of the extreme Calvinists, who were at heart as
fanatical persecutors as the Spanish inquisitors themselves. These
"precisian" zealots held, by the governor-general's permission and under
his protection, a synod at Dort, June, 1586, and endeavoured to organise
the Reformed Church in accordance with their strict principles of
exclusiveness.

By this series of maladroit acts Leicester had made himself so unpopular
and distrusted in Holland that the Estates of that predominant province
lost no opportunity of inflicting rebuffs upon him. Stung by the
opposition he met and weary of a thankless task, the governor determined
at the end of November to pay a visit to England. The Council of State
was left in charge of the administration during his absence.

His departure had the very important effect of bringing the question of
State-rights acutely to the front. The dislike and distrust felt by the
Hollanders towards the English governor-general was greatly increased by
the treachery of Yorke and Stanley, who delivered the fort at Zutphen
and the town of Deventer, with the defence of which they had been
charged, into the hands of the Spaniards. The town of Gelder and the
fort at Wouw were likewise betrayed, and there can be small doubt that,
had Parma at this time been able to take advantage of the dissensions in
the ranks of his adversaries, he would have met with little effectual
resistance to his arms. His whole attention was, however, centred in
preparations for the proposed invasion of England. Leicester had no
sooner left the country than the Estates of Holland, under the strong
leadership of Oldenbarneveldt, took measures to assert their right to
regulate their own affairs, independently of the Council of State. A
levy of troops was made (in the pay of the province of Holland), who
were required to take an oath to the Provincial Estates and the
stadholder. To Maurice the title of "Prince" was given; and Sonoy in the
North-Quarter and all the commanders of fortified places were compelled
to place themselves under his orders. The States-General, in which the
influence of Holland and its chief representative, Oldenbarneveldt, was
overpoweringly great, upheld the Provincial Estates in the measures they
were taking. As a result of their action the trade restrictions were
practically repealed, the Council of State was reconstituted, and a
strong indictment of Leicester's conduct and administration was drawn up
in the name of the States-General and forwarded to the absent governor
in England.

Elizabeth was indignant at the language of this document, but at this
particular time the dangers which were threatening her throne and people
were too serious for her to take any steps to alienate the States. It
was her obvious policy to support them in their resistance, and to keep,
if possible, Parma's forces occupied in the Netherlands. Accordingly
Leicester returned to his post, July 1587, but in an altogether wrong
spirit. He knew that he had a strong body of partisans in Utrecht,
Friesland and elsewhere, for he had posed as the friend of the people's
rights against the nobles and those burgher-aristocracies in the cities
in whose hands all real power rested, and by his attitude in religious
matters he had won for himself the support of the Calvinist preachers.
His agents, Deventer in Utrecht, Aysma in Friesland and Sonoy in the
North-Quarter, were able men, who could count on the help of the
democracy, whom they flattered. So Leicester came back with the
determination to override the opposition of the Estates of Holland and
compel their submission to his will. But he found that he only succeeded
in making that opposition more resolute. His attempts to overthrow the
supremacy of the "regents" in Amsterdam, Leyden, Enkhuizen and other
towns were complete failures. Oldenbarneveldt and Maurice were supreme
in Holland and Zeeland; and the power of the purse gave to Holland a
controlling voice in the States-General. The position of Leicester was
shaken also by his inability to relieve Sluis, which important seaport
fell after a long siege into Parma's hands, August 5. Its capture was
attributed by rumour, which in this case had no foundation, to the
treachery of the English governor and garrison. Moreover it was
discovered that for some months secret peace negotiations had been
passing between the English government and Parma; and this aroused
violent suspicions that the Netherlands were merely being used as pawns
in English policy, and alienated from the governor-general the sympathy
of the preachers, who had been his strongest supporters. Humiliated and
broken in spirit, Leicester, after many bickerings and recriminations,
finally left the Netherlands (December 10), though his formal
resignation of his post did not reach the States-General until the
following April. Lord Willoughby was placed in command of the English
troops.

The year 1588 was the beginning of a decade full of fate for the Dutch
Republic. The departure of Leicester left the seven provinces of the
Union of Utrecht weak, divided, torn by factions, without allies, the
country to the east of the Yssel and to the south of the Scheldt and the
Waal already in the hands of the enemy. Moreover the armed forces of
that enemy were far stronger than their own and under the command of a
consummate general. But this was the year of the Spanish Armada, and
Parma's offensive operations were, by the strictest orders from Madrid,
otherwise directed. And Elizabeth on her side, though highly offended
at the treatment which her favourite, Leicester, had received from the
Hollanders, was too astute to quarrel at such a moment with a people
whose ships kept a strict blockade in the Scheldt and before the Flemish
harbours. Thus a respite was obtained for the States at this critical
time, which was turned to good account and was of vital import for their
constitutional development. The Leicestrian period, despite its record
of incompetence and failure, had however the distinction of being the
period which for good or for evil gave birth to the republic of the
United Netherlands, as we know it in history. The curious, amorphous,
hydra-headed system of government, which was to subsist for some two
centuries, was in its origin the direct result of the confused welter of
conflicting forces, which was the legacy of Leicester's rule. As a
preliminary to a right understanding of the political system, which was
now, more by accidental force of circumstances than by design,
developing into a permanent constitution, it will be necessary to trace
the events of the years which immediately followed the departure of
Leicester, and which under the influence and by the co-operation of
three striking personalities were to mould the future of the Dutch
republic.

Those three personalities were John van Oldenbarneveldt, Maurice of
Nassau and his cousin William Lewis of Nassau, the Stadholder of
Friesland. Born in 1547, Oldenbarneveldt, after studying Jurisprudence
at Louvain, Bourges and Heidelberg, became a devoted adherent of William
the Silent and took part in the defence of Haarlem and of Leyden. His
abilities, however, fitted him to take a prominent part as a politician
and administrator rather than as a soldier; and his career may be said
to have begun by his appointment to the post of Pensionary of Rotterdam
in 1576. In this capacity his industry and his talent speedily won for
him a commanding position in the Estates of Holland, and he became one
of the Prince of Orange's confidential friends and advisers. In 1586 he
was appointed Advocate of Holland in succession to Paul Buys. This
office included the duties of legal adviser, secretary and likewise in a
sense that of "Speaker" to the Provincial Estates. In addition to all
this he was the mouthpiece in the States-General of the deputation
representing the Provincial Estates, and exercised in that assembly all
the authority attaching to the man who spoke in the name of Holland. At
this time of transition, by his predominance alike in his own province
of Holland and in the States-General, he was able to secure for the
general policy of the Union, especially in the conduct of foreign
affairs, a continuity of aim and purpose that enabled the
loosely-cemented and mutually jealous confederacy of petty sovereign
states to tide-over successfully the critical years which followed the
departure of Leicester, and to acquire a sense of national unity.

The brain and the diplomatic skill of the great statesman would,
however, have been of little avail without the aid of the military
abilities of Maurice of Nassau. Maurice was twenty years of age when
Leicester left Holland. He was a man very different from his father in
opinions and in the character of his talents. Maurice had nothing of his
father's tolerance in religious matters or his subtle skill in
diplomacy. He was a born soldier, but no politician, and had no wish to
interfere in affairs of State. He had the highest respect for
Oldenbarneveldt and complete confidence in his capacity as a statesman,
and he was at all times ready to use the executive powers, which he
exercised by virtue of the numerous posts he was speedily called upon to
fill, for the carrying out of Oldenbarneveldt's policy; while the
Advocate on his side found in the strong arm of the successful general
the instrument that he needed for the maintenance of his supremacy in
the conduct of the civil government. Already in 1587 Maurice was
Stadholder of Holland and Zeeland. In 1588 he became Captain-General and
Admiral-General of the Union with the control and supervision of all the
armed forces of the Provinces by sea and by land. The death of
Nieuwenaar in the following year created a vacancy in the stadholderates
of Utrecht, Gelderland and Overyssel. Maurice was in each province
elected as Nieuwenaar's successor. The Advocate therefore and the
Prince, through the close accord which was for many years to subsist
between them, gathered thus into their hands (except in Friesland)
practically the entire administrative, executive and military powers of
the United Provinces and by their harmonious co-operation with William
Lewis, the wise and capable Stadholder of Friesland, were able to give
something of real unity to a group of states, each claiming to be a
sovereign entity, and to give them the outward semblance of a federal
republic. There was no "eminent head," but the sovereignty in reality,
if not in name, was vested during the period with which we have now to
deal in this triumvirate.

Circumstances provided a favourable field for the display of the
youthful Maurice's military abilities. In 1589 the assassination of
Henry III placed Henry of Navarre on the throne of France. The accession
of the brilliant Huguenot leader led to civil war; and the Catholic
opposition was encouraged and supported by Philip II, who regarded Henry
IV as a menace and danger to the Spanish power. Parma, therefore, whose
active prosecution of the war against the rebel provinces had been so
long hindered by having to hold his army in readiness for the projected
invasion of England, found himself, after the failure and destruction of
the Armada, in no better position for a campaign in the northern
Netherlands. Disappointment and false charges against him brought on a
serious illness, and on his recovery he received orders to conduct an
expedition into France. William Lewis of Nassau had for sometime been
urging upon the States-General that the time for remaining upon the
strict defensive was past, and that, when the enemy's efforts were
weakened and distracted, the best defence was a vigorous offensive. At
first he spoke to deaf ears, but he found now a powerful supporter in
Maurice, and the two stadholders prevailed. They had now by careful and
assiduous training created a strong and well-disciplined army for the
service of the States. This army was made up by contingents of various
nationalities, English, Scottish, French and German as well as
Netherlanders. But the material was on the whole excellent, and the
entire force was welded together by confidence in their leaders.

In 1590 the capture of Breda by a ruse (seventy men hidden beneath a
covering of peat making their entrance into the town and opening the
gates to their comrades outside) was a good omen for the campaign that
was planned for 1591. For the first time Maurice had an opportunity for
showing his genius for war and especially for siege warfare. By rapid
movements he took first Zutphen, then Deventer and Delfzijl, and
relieved the fort of Knodsenburg (near Nijmwegen). Thus successful on
the eastern frontier, the stadholder hurried to Zeeland and captured
Hulst, the key to the land of Waas. He then turned his steps again to
the east and appearing suddenly before Nijmwegen made himself master of
this important city. Such a succession of brilliant triumphs established
Maurice's fame, and to a lesser degree that of William Lewis, whose
co-operation and advice were of the greatest service to the younger man.
This was markedly the case in the following year (1592) when the two
stadholders set to work to expel the Spaniards from the two strongly
fortified towns of Steenwijk and Coevorden, whose possession enabled a
strong force under the veteran Verdugo to retain their hold upon
Friesland. The States army was not at its full strength, for the English
contingent under Sir Francis Vere had been sent to France; and Verdugo
was confident that any attempt to capture these well-garrisoned
fortresses was doomed to failure. He had to learn how great was the
scientific skill and resource of Maurice in the art of beleaguering.
Steenwijk after an obstinate defence capitulated on June 5. Coevorden
was then invested and in its turn had to surrender, on September 12.
During this time Parma had been campaigning with no great success in
northern France. In the autumn he returned to the Netherlands suffering
from the effects of a wound and broken in spirit. Never did any man fill
a difficult and trying post with more success and zeal than Alexander
Farnese during the sixteen years of his governor-generalship.
Nevertheless Philip was afraid of his nephew's talents and ambition, and
he despatched the Count of Fuentes with a letter of recall. It was never
delivered. Parma set out to meet him, but fell ill and died at Spa,
December 2, 1592. He appointed the Count of Mansfeld to take his place,
until the Archduke Ernest of Austria, who had been appointed to succeed
him, arrived in the Netherlands.

The campaign of 1593 was marked by the taking of Geertruidenberg, a
fortress which barred the free access of the Hollanders and Zeelanders
to the inland waters. The science which Maurice displayed in the siege
of this town greatly increased his renown. In the following year the
stadholders turned their attention to the north-east corner of the land,
which was still in the possession of the Spaniards. After a siege of two
months Groningen surrendered; and the city with the surrounding district
was by the terms of the capitulation--known as "The Treaty of
Reduction"--admitted as a province into the Union under the name of
_Stad en Landen._ William Lewis was appointed stadholder, and Drente was
placed under his jurisdiction. The northern Netherlands were now cleared
of the enemy, and Maurice at the conclusion of the campaign made a
triumphal entry into the Hague amidst general rejoicing. William Lewis
lost no time in taking steps to establish Calvinism as the only
recognised form of faith in his new government. His strong principles
did not allow him to be tolerant, and to Catholicism he was a
convinced foe. Everywhere throughout the United Provinces the reformed
religion was now dominant, and its adherents alone could legally take
part in public worship.

In January, 1595, Henry IV declared war against Spain and was anxious
for an alliance with the States against the common enemy. The Archduke
Ernest, on whose coming into the Netherlands great hopes had been
placed, found himself now in a difficult position with hostile armies
threatening from both sides and no hope of efficient financial or other
support from Spain. He was instructed therefore to enter into
negotiations at the Hague with a view to the conclusion of a peace,
based upon the terms of the Pacification of Ghent. But there was never
any prospect of an agreement being reached; and the sudden death of the
archduke (February 20,1595) brought the negotiations to an end. Archduke
Ernest was succeeded by the Count of Fuentes as governor _ad interim._
Fuentes proved himself to be a strong and capable commander; and the
summer was marked by a series of successes against the hostile forces
both of the French and the Netherlanders. There was no decisive
encounter, but the Spanish forces foiled the efforts of their
adversaries to effect an invasion or capture any towns.

The Cardinal Archduke Albert arrived at Brussels to replace Fuentes in
January, 1596. Albert was the favourite nephew of King Philip, and had
been brought up at Madrid. Although an ecclesiastic, he proved himself
to be a statesman and soldier of more than ordinary capacity. It was
intended that he should, as soon as the Pope's consent could be
obtained, divest himself of his orders and marry his cousin the Infanta
Isabel. The bankrupt condition of Spain prevented Philip from furnishing
the archduke with adequate financial help on entering upon his
governorship, but Albert was provided with some money, and he found in
the Netherlands the well-disciplined and war-tried force of which
Fuentes had made such good use in the previous campaign. He was anxious
to emulate that general's success, and as the veteran leaders, Mondragon
and Verdugo, had both died, he gave the command to the Seigneur de
Rosne, a French refugee. This man was a commander of skill and
enterprise, and special circumstances enabled him by two brilliant
offensive strokes to capture first Calais and afterwards Hulst. Hulst
was only taken after a severe struggle, in which De Rosne himself
fell.

The special circumstances which favoured these operations were brought
about by the conclusion of a treaty of alliance between France, England
and the States. This treaty was the result of prolonged negotiations; it
was of short duration and its conditions were far from favourable to the
United Provinces, but it was of great importance from the fact that for
the first time the new-fledged republic was recognised by the
neighbouring sovereigns of France and England as an independent state
and was admitted into alliance on terms of equality. It was, however,
only with difficulty and through the insistence of Henry IV that
Elizabeth was induced to acknowledge the independent status of the rebel
provinces. In return the republic was required to keep up a force of
8000 men for service in the Netherlands, and to despatch 4000 men to act
with the French army in northern France--this auxiliary force to include
the five English regiments in the States' service. Thus Maurice was
deprived of a considerable part of his army and obliged to act on the
defensive. Elizabeth also insisted upon the carrying out of Leicester's
placard forbidding trade with the enemy. This clause of the treaty was
very unpalatable to Amsterdam and the Hollanders generally, and only a
sullen acquiescence was given to it. From the first it was
systematically evaded. The English government on their part undertook to
support the French king with a force equal in strength to that furnished
by the Provinces, _i.e._ 4000 men, but at the same time a secret treaty
was drawn up by which Henry agreed to a reduction of the English troops
by one-half. This piece of underhand work was in due time discovered by
the States, who saw that their allies were not to be trusted and that
they must be on the watch lest their interests should be sacrificed to
the selfish policy of France. The issue showed that Henry IV was in fact
ready to make terms with Spain, as soon as it was to his advantage to do
so. Meanwhile in 1597 the French king, by advancing in force into
Picardy, drew upon this frontier the chief attention of the Spaniards;
and Maurice seized the opportunity that was offered to him to conduct an
offensive campaign with signal success.

He began the year brilliantly by surprising in January, while still in
its winter quarters, a Spanish force of 4500 near Turnhout. More than
half the force was destroyed. On the side of the Netherlands eight men
only fell. With the spring began a series of sieges; and, one after the
other, Rheinberg, Meurs, Groenloo, Breedevoort, Enschede, Ootmarsum,
Oldenzaal and Lingen were captured. Gelderland, Overyssel and Drente
were entirely freed from the presence of the enemy. With the opening of
1598 Henry IV and Philip II entered upon negotiations for a peace. The
French king felt the necessity of a respite from war in order to
reorganise the resources of his country, exhausted by a long continuance
of civil strife; and Philip was ill and already feeling his end
approaching. The States strove hard to prevent what they regarded as
desertion, and two embassies were despatched to France and to England to
urge the maintenance of the alliance. Oldenbarneveldt himself headed the
French mission, but he failed to turn Henry from his purpose. A treaty
of peace between France and Spain was signed at Vervins, May 2, 1598.
Oldenbarneveldt went from Paris to England and was more successful.
Elizabeth bargained however for the repayment of her loan by annual
installments, and for armed assistance both by land and sea should an
attack be made by the Spaniards on England. The queen, however, made two
concessions. Henceforth only one English representative was to have a
seat in the Council of State; and all the English troops in the
Netherlands, including the garrisons of the cautionary towns, were to
take an oath of allegiance to the States.

This year saw the accomplishment of a project on which the Spanish king
had for some time set his heart--the marriage of the Cardinal Archduke
Albert to his cousin the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia, and the erection
of the Netherlands into an independent sovereignty under their joint
rule. Philip hoped in this way to provide suitably for a well-beloved
daughter and at the same time, by the grant of apparent independence to
the Netherland provinces, to secure their allegiance to the new
sovereigns. The use of the word "apparent" is justified, for provision
was made in the deed of cession that the Netherlands should revert to
the Spanish crown in case the union should prove childless; and there
was a secret agreement that the chief fortresses should still be
garrisoned by Spanish troops and that the archdukes, as they were
officially styled, should recognise the suzerainty of the King of Spain.
 Philip did not actually live to carry his plan into execution. His
death took place on September 13, 1598. But all the necessary
arrangements for the marriage and the transfer of sovereignty had
already been made. Albert, having first divested himself of his
ecclesiastical dignities, was married by proxy to Isabel at Ferrara in
November. It was not until the end of the following year that the new
rulers made their _joyeuse entrée_ into Brussels, but their marriage
marks the beginning of a fresh stage in the history of the Netherlands.
Albert and Isabel were wise and capable, and they succeeded in gaining
the affection and willing allegiance of the southern provinces. The
States-General of the revolted provinces of the north had, however,
already enjoyed for some years a real independence won by suffering and
struggle and they showed no disposition to meet the overtures of the
archdukes. They were resolved to have no further connection with Spain
or with Spanish rulers, and from this time forward the cleavage in
character, sentiment, and above all in religion, between north and south
was to become, as time went on, more and more accentuated. The Dutch
republic and the Spanish Netherlands were henceforth destined to pursue
their separate course along widely divergent paths.

The ten years which had elapsed between the departure of Leicester and
the advent of Albert and Isabel had witnessed a truly marvellous
transformation in the condition of the rebel provinces, and especially
of Holland and Zeeland. Gradually they had been freed from the presence
of the Spaniard, while at the same time the Spanish yoke had been firmly
riveted upon Flanders and Brabant. These provinces were now devastated
and ruined. The quays of Antwerp were deserted, the industries of Ghent
and Bruges destroyed. The most enterprising and skilful of their
merchants and artisans had fled over the frontier into Holland or across
the sea into England. Holland and Zeeland were thronged with refugees,
Flemings and Brabanters, French Huguenots and numerous Spanish and
Portuguese Jews, driven out by the pitiless persecution of Philip II.
The Hollanders and Zeelanders had long been a seafaring people, who had
derived the chief part of their wealth from their fisheries and their
carrying trade; and this influx of new and vigorous blood, merchants,
traders, and textile workers, bringing with them their knowledge, skill
and energy, aroused such a phenomenal outburst of maritime and
commercial activity and adventure as the world had never seen before.
The fleets of the Hollanders and Zeelanders had during the whole of the
war of independence been the main defence of those provinces against
Spanish invasion; but, great as had been the services they had
rendered, it was the carrying-trade which had furnished the rebel states
with the sinews of war, and of this a large part had been derived from
that very trading with the enemy which Leicester had striven in vain to
prevent. The Spaniards and Portuguese were dependent upon the Dutch
traders for the supply of many necessaries of life; and thus Spanish
gold was made to pay for the support of the war which was waged against
the Spanish king. The dues in connection with this trade, known as
licences and convoys, alone furnished large sums to replenish the
war-chest; and it is said that from 25,000 to 30,000 seamen found
employment by it.

Amsterdam during this decade had been rapidly growing in importance and
it was soon to be the first seaport in the world. It had become the
_emporium_ of the Baltic trade. In 1601 it is stated that between 800
and 900 ships left its quays in three days, carrying commodities to the
Baltic ports. They came back laden with corn and other "east-sea" goods,
which they then distributed in French, Portuguese and Spanish havens,
and even as far as Italy and the Levant. Ship-building went on apace at
Enkhuizen, Hoorn and other towns on the Zuyder Zee; and Zaandam was soon
to become a centre of the timber trade. In Zeeland, Middelburg, through
the enterprise of an Antwerp refugee of French extraction, by name
Balthazar de Moucheron, was second only to Amsterdam as a sea-port,
while Dordrecht and Rotterdam were also busy with shipping.

The energies of the Dutch at this springtide of their national life were
far from being confined to European, waters. Dutch sailors already knew
the way to the East-Indies round the Cape of Good Hope through
employment on Portuguese vessels; and the trade-routes by which the
Spaniards brought the treasures of the New World across the Atlantic
were likewise familiar to them and for a similar reason. The East-Indies
had for the merchants of Holland and Zeeland, ever keenly on the
look-out for fresh markets, a peculiar attraction. At first the Cape
route was thought to be too dangerous, and several attempts were made to
discover a north-west passage along the coast of Siberia. Balthazar de
Moucheron was the pioneer in these northern latitudes. He established a
regular traffic with the Russians by way of the White Sea, and had a
factory (built in 1584) at Archangel. Through his instances, aided by
those of the famous geographer Petrus Plancius (likewise a refugee from
Antwerp), an expedition was fitted out and despatched in 1594 to try
to sail round northern Asia, but it was driven back after passing
through the Waigat by ice and storms. A like fate befell a second
expedition in the following year. Discouraged, but still not despairing,
a third fleet set out in 1596 under the command of Jacob van Heemskerk
with William Barendtsz as pilot. Forced to winter in Spitsbergen, after
terrible sufferings, Heemskerk returned home in the autumn of 1597 with
the remnant of his crews. Barendtsz was one of those who perished. This
was the last effort in this direction, for already a body of Amsterdam
merchants had formed a company for trafficking to India by the Cape; and
four ships had sailed, April 2, 1596, under the command of Cornelis
Houtman, a native of Gouda. A certain Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, who
had been in the Portuguese service, had published in 1595 a book
containing a description from personal knowledge of the route to the
East and the character of the Portuguese commerce. It was the
information contained in this work that led the Amsterdam merchants to
venture their money upon Houtman's expedition, which Linschoten himself
accompanied as guide. They reached Madagascar, Java and the Moluccas,
and, after much suffering and many losses by sickness, what was left of
the little fleet reached home in July, 1597. The rich cargo they brought
back, though not enough to defray expenses, proved an incentive to
further efforts. Three companies were formed at Amsterdam, two at
Rotterdam, one at Delft and two in Zeeland, for trading in the
East-Indies, all vying with one another in their eagerness to make large
profits from these regions of fabled wealth, hitherto monopolised by the
Portuguese. One expedition sent out by two Amsterdam companies under the
command of Jacob van Neck and Wybrand van Waerwyck was very successful
and came back in fifteen months richly laden with East-Indian products.
The year 1598 was one of great commercial activity. Two-and-twenty large
vessels voyaged to the East-Indies; others made their way to the coasts
of Guinea, Guiana and Brazil; and one daring captain, Olivier van Noort,
sailing through the Straits of Magellan, crossed the Pacific. It was in
this year that Philip II prohibited by decree all trading in Spain with
the Dutch, and all the Dutch ships in the harbours of the Peninsula were
confiscated. But the Spanish trade was no longer of consequence to the
Hollanders and Zeelanders. They had sought and found compensation
elsewhere.

The small companies formed to carry out these ventures in the
far-Eastern seas continued to grow in number, and by the very keenness
of their competition threatened each other's enterprises with ruin. In
these circumstances the States-General and the Estates of Holland
determined, under the leadership of Oldenbarneveldt, to take a step
which was to be fraught with very important consequences. The rival
companies were urged to form themselves into a single corporation to
which exclusive rights would be given for trading in the East-Indies.
Such a proposal was in direct contradiction to that principle of free
trade which had hitherto been dear to the Netherlanders, and there was
much opposition, and many obstacles had to be overcome owing to the
jealousies of the various provinces, towns and bodies of merchants who
were interested. But at length the patience and statesmanship of
Oldenbarneveldt overcame all difficulties, and on March 20,1601, a
charter was issued creating the United East-India Company and giving it
a monopoly of the East-India trade (for 21 years) with all lands east of
the Cape of Good Hope and west of the Straits of Magellan. The executive
control was vested in a College known as the Seventeen. Extensive
sovereign privileges were conferred upon the company and exercised by
the Seventeen in the name of the States-General. They might make
treaties with native rulers and potentates, erect forts for the
protection of their factories, appoint governors and officials with
administrative and judicial functions, and enlist troops, but these
officials and troops were required to take an oath of allegiance to the
States-General. The States-General themselves became "participants" by
investing the 25,000 pounds, which the company had paid them for the
grant of the charter. The capital speedily reached the amount of six and
a half million guilders.

The warlike operations of the year 1599 were uneventful and in the main
defensive, except on the eastern frontier where the Spanish forces under
the command of the Admiral of Aragon, Mendoza, captured Wesel and
Rheinberg. The new rulers of the Netherlands, Albert and Isabel, did
not make their entry into Brussels until the end of 1599; and almost
before they had had time to organise the new government and gain firm
possession of the reins of power in the Belgic provinces, they found
themselves confronted with a serious danger. The seaport of Dunkirk had
for many years been a nest of pirates, who preyed upon Dutch commerce
in the narrow seas. The States-General, urged on by Oldenbarneveldt,
resolved in the spring of 1606 to despatch an expedition to besiege and
capture Dunkirk. Both Maurice and William Lewis were opposed to the
project, which they regarded as rash and risky. The States-General,
however, hearing reports of the archduke's soldiery being mutinous for
lack of pay, persisted in their purpose, and Maurice, against his better
judgment, acquiesced. A body of picked troops, 12,000 foot and 3000
horse, was assembled on the island of Walcheren. A succession of
contrary winds delaying the sailing of the force, it was determined to
march straight through West Flanders to Nieuport and then along the
shore to Dunkirk. A deputation of the States-General, of which
Oldenbarneveldt was the leading member, went to Ostend to supervise,
much to Maurice's annoyance, the military operations. The stadholder,
however, reached Nieuport without serious opposition and proceeded to
invest it. Meanwhile the Archduke Albert had been acting with great
energy. By persuasive words and large promises he succeeded in winning
back the mutineers, and at the head of a veteran force of 10,000
infantry and 1500 cavalry he followed Maurice and, advancing along the
dunes, came on July 1 upon a body of 2000 men under the command of
Ernest Casimir of Nassau, sent by the stadholder to defend the bridge of
Leffingen. At the sight of the redoubtable Spanish infantry a panic
seized these troops and they were routed with heavy loss. The fight,
however, gave Maurice time to unite his forces and draw them up in
battle order in front of Nieuport. Battle was joined the following
afternoon, and slowly, foot by foot, after a desperate conflict the
archduke's Spanish and Italian veterans drove back along the dunes the
troops of the States. Every hillock and sandy hollow was fiercely
contested, the brunt of the conflict falling on the English and Frisians
under the command of Sir Francis Vere. Vere himself was severely
wounded, and the battle appeared to be lost. At this critical moment the
Spaniards began to show signs of exhaustion through their tremendous
exertions in two successive fights under a hot sun in the yielding
sand-hills; and the prince, at the critical moment, throwing himself
into the midst of his retreating troops, succeeded in rallying them. At
the same time he ordered some squadrons of cavalry which he had kept in
reserve to charge on the flank of the advancing foe. The effect was
instantaneous. The Spaniards were thrown into confusion, broke and
fled. The victory was complete. The archduke only just escaped capture,
and of his army 5000 perished and a large number were taken prisoners,
among these the Admiral of Aragon. Almost by a miracle was the States'
army thus rescued from a desperate position. Maurice's hard-won triumph
greatly enhanced his fame, for the battle of Nieuport destroyed the
legend of the invincibility of the Spanish infantry in the open field.
The victorious general, however, was not disposed to run any further
risks. He accordingly retreated to Ostend and there embarked his troops
for the ports from which they had started. The expedition had been very
costly and had been practically fruitless. Oldenbarneveldt and those who
had acted with him were deeply disappointed at the failure of their
plans for the capture of Dunkirk and were far from satisfied with
Maurice's obstinate refusal to carry out any further offensive
operations. From this time there arose a feeling of soreness between the
advocate and the stadholder, which further differences of opinion were
to accentuate in the coming years.

The vigour and powers of leadership displayed by their new sovereigns in
meeting the invasion of Flanders by the States' army, though a defeat in
the field had been suffered at Nieuport, had inspired their subjects in
the southern Netherlands with confidence and loyalty. Albert had proved
himself a brave commander, and his efforts had at least been successful
in compelling the enemy to withdraw within his own borders.

Ostend had long been a thorn in the side of the government at Brussels
and energetic steps were soon taken to besiege it. But the possession of
Ostend was important also to Elizabeth, and she promised active
assistance. The larger part of the garrison was, indeed, formed of
English troops, and Sir Francis Vere was governor of the town. The siege
which ensued was one of the memorable sieges of history, it lasted for
more than three years (July 15,1601, to September 20,1604) and was
productive of great feats of valour, skill and endurance on the part
alike of besiegers and besieged. The States' army under Maurice, though
it did not march to the relief of Ostend, endeavoured to divert the
attention of Albert from his objective by attacks directed elsewhere. In
1601 the fortresses of Rheinberg and Meurs on the Rhine were captured,
and an attack made upon Hertogenbosch. In 1602 the important town of
Grave on the Meuse was taken and a raid made into Brabant and
Luxemburg.

Meanwhile the defenders of Ostend had been making a desperate
resistance, and little progress was made by the besiegers, with the
result that a great drain was made upon the finances of the archdukes
and there were threatenings of mutiny among the troops. But the
situation was saved by the intervention of a wealthy Genoese banker,
Ambrosio de Spinola, who offered his services and his money to the
archdukes and promised that if he, though inexperienced in warfare, were
given the command, he would take Ostend. He fulfilled his promise.
Without regard to loss of life he pressed on the siege, and though as
fast as one line of defences was taken another arose behind it to bar
his progress, little by little he advanced and bit by bit the area held
by the garrison grew less. At last in the spring of 1604, under the
pressure of the States-General, Maurice led an army of 11,000 men into
Flanders in April, 1604, and laid siege to Sluis on May 19. Both Maurice
and William Lewis were still unwilling to run the risk of an attack on
Spinola's army in its lines, and so the two sieges went on side by side,
as it were independently. Sluis fell at the end of August, and Ostend
was then at its last gasp. Urged now by the deputies of the States to
make a direct effort to relieve the heroic garrison, Maurice and his
cousin, after wasting some precious time in protesting against the step,
began to march southward. It was too late. What was left of Ostend
surrendered on September 20, and Spinola became the master of a heap of
ruins. It is said that this three years' siege cost the Spaniards 80,000
lives, to say nothing of the outlay of vast expenditure. Whether Maurice
and William Lewis were right or wrong in their reluctance to assail
Spinola's entrenched camp, it is certain that they were better judges of
the military situation than the civilian deputies of the States. In any
case the capture of Sluis was an offset to the loss of Ostend; and its
importance was marked by the appointment of Frederick Henry, the young
brother of the stadholder, as governor of the seaport and the
surrounding district, which received the name of States-Flanders. The
tremendous exertions put forward for the defence of Ostend had been a
very serious drain upon the resources of the United Provinces,
especially upon those of Holland. Taxation was already So high that
Oldenbarneveldt and many other leading members of the States-General and
Provincial Estates began to feel despondent and to doubt whether it were
possible to continue the war. No longer could the States rely upon the
assistance of England. James I had concluded peace with Spain; and,
though he made professions of friendship and goodwill to the Dutch, wary
statesmen, like the Advocate, did not trust him, and were afraid lest he
should be tempted to deliver up the cautionary towns into the hands of
the enemy. Reverting to the policy of William the Silent,
Oldenbarneveldt even went so far as to make tentative approaches to
Henry IV of France touching the conditions on which he would accept the
sovereignty of the Provinces. Indeed it is said that such was the
despair felt by this great statesman, who knew better than any man the
economic difficulties of the situation, that he even contemplated the
possibility of submission to the archdukes. Had he suggested submission,
there would have been no question, however, that he could not have
retained office, for Maurice, William Lewis and the military leaders on
the one hand, and on the other the merchants and the adventurous seamen,
whom they employed in the profitable Indian traffic, would not have
listened for a moment to any thought of giving up a struggle which had
been so resolutely and successfully maintained for so many years. For
financially the archdukes were in even worse plight than the
Netherlanders, even though for a short time, with the help of Spinola,
appearances seemed to favour the Belgic attacks on the Dutch frontier
districts. In 1605 the Genoese general, at the head of a mixed but
well-disciplined force in his own pay, made a rapid advance towards
Friesland, and, after capturing Oldenzaal and Lingen and ravaging the
eastern provinces, concluded the campaign with a brilliant success
against a body of the States cavalry commanded by Frederick Henry, who
nearly lost his life. Maurice with inferior forces kept strictly on the
defensive, skilfully covering the heart of the land from attack, but
steadily refusing a pitched battle. In the following year Spinola with
two armies attempted to force the lines of the Waal and the Yssel, but,
though thwarted in this aim by the wariness of the stadholder and by a
very wet season, he succeeded in taking the important fortresses of
Groll and Rheinberg. Maurice made no serious effort to relieve them, and
his inactivity caused much discontent and adverse comment. His military
reputation suffered, while that of his opponent was enhanced. But
subsequent events showed that Maurice, though perhaps erring on the side
of caution, had acted rightly. The armies which had threatened the
safety of the Provinces had been raised at the charges of a private
individual, but the financial resources, even of a Spinola, were not
capable of a prolonged effort; there was no money in the State treasury;
and the soldiery, as soon as their pay was in arrears, began once more
to be mutinous. The bolt had been shot without effect, and the year 1607
found both sides, through sheer lack of funds, unable to enter upon a
fresh campaign on land with any hope of definite success. But though the
military campaigns had been so inconclusive, it had been far different
with the fortunes of maritime warfare in these opening years of the
seventeenth century. The sea-power of the Dutch republic was already a
formidable factor which had to be reckoned with and which was destined
to be decisive.

The East-India Company was no sooner founded than active steps were
taken to make full use of the privileges granted by the Charter. A fleet
of 17 vessels was despatched in 1602 under Wybrand van Waerwyck.
Waerwyck visited Ceylon and most of the islands of the Malay
Archipelago, established a factory at Bantam with a staff of officials
for developing trade relations with the natives, and even made his way
to Siam and China. He sent back from time to time some of his vessels
richly laden, and finally returned himself with the residue of his fleet
after an absence of five years in June, 1607. Another expedition of
thirteen ships sailed in 1604 under Steven van der Hagen, whose
operations were as widespread and as successful as those of Waerwyck.
Van der Hagen took possession of Molucca and built factories at Amboina,
Tidor and other places in the spice-bearing islands. On his way back in
1606 with his cargo of cloves, spices and other products of the far
Orient, he encountered at Mauritius another westward-bound fleet of
eleven ships under Cornelis Matelief. Matelief's first objective was the
town of Malacca, held by the Portuguese and commanding the straits to
which it gave its name. Alphonso de Castro, the Viceroy of India,
hastened however with a naval force far more powerful than the Dutch
squadron to the relief of this important fortress; and after a
hardly-fought but indecisive action Matelief raised the siege on August
17. Returning, however, about a month later, the Dutch admiral found
that De Castro had sailed away, leaving only a detachment of ten vessels
before Malacca. Matelief at once attacked this force, whose strength was
about equal to his own, and with such success that he sank or burnt
every single ship of the enemy with scarcely any loss, September 21,
1606.

These successful incursions into a region that the Spaniards and
Portuguese had jealously regarded as peculiarly their own aroused both
anger and alarm. All available forces in the East (the Portuguese from
the Mozambique and Goa, the Spaniards from the Philippines) were
equipped and sent to sea with the object of expelling the hated and
despised Netherlanders from East-Indian waters. Paulus van Caerden,
Matelief's successor in command, was defeated and himself taken
prisoner. Nor were the Spaniards content with attacking the Dutch fleets
in the far East. As the weather-worn and heavily-laden Company's vessels
returned along the west coast of Africa, they had to pass within
striking distance of the Spanish and Portuguese harbours and were in
constant danger of being suddenly assailed by a superior force and
captured. In 1607 rumours reached Holland of the gathering of a large
Spanish fleet at Gibraltar, whose destination was the East-Indies. The
directors of the Company were much alarmed, an alarm which was shared by
the States-General, many of whose deputies were cargo-shareholders.
Accordingly, in April, 1607, a fleet of twenty-six vessels set sail for
the purpose of seeking out and attacking the Spaniards whether in
harbour or on the open sea. The command was given to one of the most
daring and experienced of Dutch seamen, Jacob van Heemskerk. He found
twenty-one ships still at anchor in Gibraltar Bay, ten of them large
galleons, far superior in size and armament to his own largest vessels.
Heemskerk at once cleared for action. Both Heemskerk and the Spanish
commander, d'Avila, were killed early in the fight, the result of which
however was not long doubtful. The Spanish fleet was practically
destroyed. On the Dutch side no vessel was lost and the casualties were
small. Such a disaster was most humiliating to Castilian pride, and its
effect in hastening forward the peace negotiations, which were already
in progress, was considerable.

The initial steps had been taken by the archdukes. Through the secret
agency of Albert's Franciscan Confessor, Father John Neyen, both
Oldenbarneveldt and Maurice were approached in May, 1606, but without
any result. Early in 1607 however the efforts were renewed, and
negotiations were actively set on foot for the purpose of concluding a
peace or a truce for a term of twelve, fifteen or twenty years. There
were, however, almost insuperable difficulties in the way. In the first
place the stadholders, the military and naval leaders, the Calvinist
clergy, and the great majority of the traders honestly believed that a
peace would be detrimental to all the best interests of the States, and
were thoroughly distrustful of the motives which had prompted the
archdukes and the Spanish government to make these advances.
Oldenbarneveldt on the other hand thought that peace was necessary for
the land to recuperate after the exhausting struggle, which had already
lasted for forty years; and he found strong support among the
burgher-regents and that large part of the people who were over-burdened
and impoverished by the weight of taxation, and sick and weary of
perpetual warfare. There were, however, certain preliminary conditions,
which all were agreed must be assented to, and without which it would be
useless to continue the negotiations. The independence of the United
Provinces must be recognised, freedom of trade in the Indies conceded,
and the public exercise of Catholic worship prohibited. After some
parleying the archdukes agreed to treat with the United Provinces "in
the quality and as considering them free provinces and states," and an
armistice was concluded in April, 1607, for eight months, in order that
the matters in dispute might be referred to the King of Spain and his
views upon them ascertained. Not till October did the king's reply
arrive at Brussels. He consented to negotiate with the States "as free
and independent" parties, but he required that liberty of Catholic
worship should be permitted during the truce, and no mention was made of
the Indian trade. This was by no means satisfactory; nevertheless the
influence of Oldenbarneveldt prevailed and the negotiations were not
broken off. On February 1, 1608, the archdukes' envoys, the two leading
members being Ambrosio de Spinola and the president of the Privy
Council, Ricardot, arrived in Holland. They were met at Ryswyck by
Maurice and William Lewis in person, and with much ceremony and
splendour a solemn entry was made into the Hague, the procession with
the brilliant retinues forming a memorable spectacle, as it made its way
through the crowds which lined the roads. The negotiations were
conducted in the Binnenhof. The Special Commissioners to represent the
States-General were William Lewis of Nassau, Walraven, lord of
Brederode, and a deputy from each of the provinces under the leadership
of Oldenbarneveldt. Envoys from France, England, Denmark, the
Palatinate and Brandenburg were present, took part in the discussions,
and acted as friendly mediators.

The question of treating the United Provinces "as free States" was soon
settled. The archdukes, who were aiming at the conclusion of a truce in
which to recuperate and not of a definitive peace, showed an unexpected
complaisance in granting a concession which they regarded as only
temporary. Then came the really serious questions as to freedom of trade
in the Indies and the liberty of Catholic worship. Of these the first
was of most immediate interest, and showed irreconcilable differences
between the two parties. The Spaniards would never consent to any
trespassing in the closed area, which they regarded as their own
peculiar preserve. The Dutch traders and sailors were fired with the
spirit of adventure and of profit, and their successful expeditions had
aroused an enthusiasm for further effort in the distant seas, which had
hardened into a fixed resolve not to agree to any peace or truce
shutting them out from the Indian trade. For months the subject was
discussed and re-discussed without result. Some of the foreign delegates
left. The armistice was prolonged, in order that Father Neyen might go
to Madrid for further instructions. It was found, however, that the King
of Spain would yield nothing. The negotiations came to a standstill, and
both sides began to make preparations for a renewal of the war.
President Jeannin on behalf of the French king, by his skilful
mediation, in which he was supported by his English colleague, saved the
situation. He proposed as a compromise a twelve years' truce, pointing
out that whatever terms were arranged would only be binding for that
short period. He managed to bring about a personal interview between
Oldenbarneveldt and Maurice, who had respectively headed the peace and
war parties in the provinces; and henceforth both consented to work
together for this proposal of a limited truce, during which the trade to
the Indies should be open and the religious question be untouched. The
assent of the States-General and of the several Provincial Estates was
obtained. The two most interested, Holland and Zeeland, were won over,
Holland by the arguments and persuasions of the Advocate, Zeeland, which
was the last to agree, by the influence of Maurice. Jeannin was aware
that the finances of Spain were at their last gasp, and that both the
archdukes and Philip III were most anxious for a respite from the
ever-consuming expense of the war. At last the long and wearisome
negotiations came to an end, and the treaty concluding a truce for
twelve years was signed at the Hague on April 9,1609. The territorial
_status quo_ was recognised. The United Provinces were treated "as free
States over which the archdukes made no pretensions." Nothing was said
about the religious difficulty nor about trade in the Indies, but in a
secret treaty the King of Spain undertook not to interfere with Dutch
trade, wherever carried on. Thus access to the Indies was conceded,
though to save appearances the word was not mentioned. This result was
due solely to the diplomatic tact and resource of Jeannin, who was able
to announce to Henry IV that he had accomplished his task "to the
satisfaction of everyone, and even of Prince Maurice."

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER VII

THE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT


One of the reasons which influenced the archdukes and the King of Spain
to make large concessions in order to secure the assent of the
States-General to the conclusion of a twelve years' truce was their firm
belief that the unstable political condition of the United Provinces
must lead to civil discord, as soon as the relaxing of the pressure of
war loosened the bonds which had, since Leicester's departure, held
together a number of separate authorities and discordant interests. They
were right in their supposition. In order, therefore, to understand the
course of events in the republic, which had been correctly recognised by
the treaty not as a single state, but as a group of "free and
independent States," it is necessary to give a brief account of one of
the most strangely complicated systems of government that the world has
ever seen--especially strange because no one could ever say positively
where or with whom the sovereignty really resided.

Let us take into separate consideration the powers and functions of (1)
the Council of State, (2) the States-General, (3) the Provincial
Estates, (4) the Stadholders, (5) the Advocate (later the
_Raad-Pensionarius_ or Council-Pensionary) of Holland, (6) the Admiralty
Colleges.

The Council of State was not a legislative, but an executive, body. In
the time of Leicester the Council was the executive arm of the
governor-general and had large powers. After his departure the presence
of the English ambassador, who by treaty had a seat in the Council,
caused the States-General gradually to absorb its powers, and to make
its functions subordinate to their own, until at last its authority was
confined to the administration of the affairs of war and of finance. The
right of the English representative to sit in the Council and take an
active part in its deliberations continued till 1626. The Stadholders
were also _ex officio_ members. The Provinces, since 1588, were
represented by twelve councillors. Holland had three; Gelderland,
Zeeland and Friesland two each; Utrecht, Overyssel and Groningen
(_Stad en Landeri_) one each. The treasurer-general and the clerk
(_Griffier_) of the States-General took part in the deliberations and
had great influence. The chief duty of the Council, during the period
with which we are dealing, was the raising of the "quotas" from the
various provinces for the military defence of the State. The General
Petition or War Budget was prepared by the Council and presented to the
States-General at the end of each year, providing for the military
expenses in the following twelve months. The "quotas" due towards these
expenses from the several provinces were set forth in smaller petitions
sent to the Provincial Estates, whose consent was necessary. The
so-called _repartitie_ fixing the amount of these quotas was likewise
drawn up by the Council of State, and was the subject at times of
considerable haggling and discontent. In 1612 it was settled that the
proportions to be borne by the provinces should be Holland 57.1 per
cent.; Friesland 11.4; Zeeland 11 (afterwards reduced to 9); Utrecht and
Groningen 5.5; Overyssel 3.5. It will thus be seen that the quota of
Holland was considerably more than half of the whole; and, as the naval
expenditure was to an even larger extent borne by Holland, the
preponderating influence of this province in the Union can be easily
understood. The forces of the republic that were distributed in the
several provinces received their pay from the provinces, but those
maintained by the Council, as troops of the State, were paid by monies
received from the Generality lands, _i.e._ lands such as the conquered
portions of Brabant and Flanders, governed by the States-General, but
without representation in that body. The Council of State, though its
political powers were curtailed and absorbed by the States-General,
continued to exercise, as a court of justice, appellate jurisdiction in
military and financial questions.

The States-General consisted of representatives of the Estates of the
seven sovereign provinces of Gelderland, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht,
Friesland, Overyssel, and Groningen (_Stad en Landeri_) in the order of
precedence given above. Gelderland, having been a duchy, ranked before
those that had formerly been counties or lordships. The provinces sent
deputations varying in number; Holland and Gelderland generally six, the
others less. Each province had but a single vote. The president changed
week by week, being chosen in turn from each province according to their
order of precedence. Holland had nominally no more weight than the
others; its practical influence, however, was great in proportion to the
burden of taxation that it bore and was increased by the fact that the
sessions, which after 1593 were permanent, were held at the Hague in the
same building with the Estates of Holland, and that the
Council-Pensionary of Holland was the spokesman of the province in the
States-General. The States-General had control of the foreign affairs of
the Union. To them belonged the supreme control of military and naval
matters. The Captain-General and Admiral-General of the Union were
appointed by them; and a deputation of the States-General accompanied
the army into the field and the commanders were bound to consult it.
They exercised a strong supervision of finance, and sovereign authority
over the entire administration of the "Generality" lands. Ambassadors
were appointed by them, also the Treasurer-General of the Union, and
numerous other important officials. Yet with all these attributes and
powers the States-General possessed only a derived, not an inherent,
authority. To foreigners the sovereignty of the republic of the United
Netherlands appeared to be vested in their "High-Mightinesses." In
reality the States-General was, as already stated, a gathering of
deputations from the seven sovereign provinces. Each deputation voted as
a unit; and in all important affairs of peace and war, treaties and
finance, there must be no dissentient. A single province, however small,
could, by obstinate opposition, block the way to the acceptance of any
given proposal. Moreover the members, despite their lofty designation as
High-Mightinesses, did not vote according to their convictions or
persuasions, but according to the charge they had received from their
principals. The deputation of a province had no right to sanction any
disputable measure or proposal without referring it back to the Estates
of that province for approval or disapproval. Hence arose endless
opportunities and occasions for friction and dissension and manifold
delays in the transaction of the business of the republic, oftentimes
in a manner inimical to its vital interests.

The Provincial Estates in their turn were by no means homogeneous or
truly representative bodies. In Holland the nobles had one vote; and
eighteen towns, Dordrecht, Haarlem, Delft, Leyden, Amsterdam, Gouda,
Rotterdam, Gorkum, Schiedam, Schoonhoven, Brill, Alkmaar, Hoorn,
Enkhuizen, Edam, Monnikendam, Medemblik and Purmerend, had one each.
The nobles, though they had only one vote, were influential, as they
represented the rural districts and the small towns which had no
franchise, and they voted first. Here again, as in the States-General,
though each of the privileged towns counted equal in the voting, as a
matter of fact their weight and influence was very different. The
opposition of wealthy and populous Amsterdam was again and again
sufficient to override the decision of the majority, for there was no
power to enforce its submission, except the employment of armed force.
For at this point it may be as well to explain that each one of these
municipalities (_vroedschappen_) claimed to be a sovereign entity, and
yet, far from being bodies representing the citizens as a whole, they
were close corporations of the narrowest description. The ordinary
inhabitants of these towns had no voice whatever in the management of
their own affairs. The governing body or _vroedschap_ consisted of a
limited number of persons, sometimes not more than forty, belonging to
certain families, which filled up vacancies by co-option and chose the
burgomasters and sheriffs (_schepenen_). Thus it will be seen that
popular representation had no place in Holland. The regent-burghers were
a small patrician oligarchy, in whose hands the entire government and
administration of the towns rested, and from their number were chosen
the deputies, who represented the eighteen privileged cities in the
Provincial Estates.

The other provinces do not need such detailed notice. In Zeeland the
Estates consisted of seven members, the "first noble" (who presided) and
six towns. There was but one noble, the Marquis of Flushing and Veere.
William the Silent in 1581 obtained this marquisate by purchase; and his
heirs, through its possession, continued to exercise great influence in
the Provincial Estates. As Philip William, Prince of Orange, was in
Madrid, Maurice sat in the assembly as "first noble" in his place. In
Utrecht the three Estates were represented, _i.e._ the nobles, the towns
(four in number) and the clergy. The representatives of the clergy
were, however, chosen no longer from the Chapter but from the possessors
of what had been Church lands and property. They were elected by the
knights and the small towns out of a list drawn up by the corporation of
Utrecht. They necessarily belonged to the Reformed (Calvinist) faith.
Gelderland was divided into three (so-called) quarters, Nijmwegen,
Zutphen and Arnhem. Each of these quarters had its separate assembly;
and there was also a general diet. The nobles, who were numerous and had
large estates, were here very influential. Friesland was divided into
four quarters, three of which (Oostergoo, Westergoo and Zevenwolden)
were country districts, the fourth a gathering of the deputies of eleven
towns. The Diet of Friesland was not formed of Estates, the nobles and
the town representatives sitting together in the same assembly, which was
elected by a popular vote, all who had a small property-qualification
possessing the franchise, Roman Catholics excepted. The system of
administration and divided authority was in Friesland a very
complicated one, inherited from mediaeval times, but here again the
nobles, being large land-owners, had much influence. The stadholder
presided at the diet and had a casting vote. The Estates of Groningen
were divided into two parts--town and districts--each with one vote. The
districts were those of Hunsingoo, Fivelingoo and the West-Quarter. Here
also the stadholder had a casting vote. In Overyssel the Estates, like
those of Groningen, consisted of two members, the nobles from the
three quarters, Sallant, Twente and Vollenhove, and the deputies of
the three towns, Deventer, Kampen and Zwolle.

The ordinary executive and administrative work of Provincial
government was carried out in Holland by a body known as the
Commissioned-Councillors--_Gecommitteerde-Raden;_ in the other provinces
by Deputed-Estates--_Gedeputeerde-Staten._ The Commissioned-Councillors
were to the Estates of Holland what the Council of State was to the
States-General. They enjoyed considerable independence, for they were
not appointed by the Estates but directly by the nobles and cities
according to a fixed system of rotation, and they sat continuously,
whereas the Estates only met for short sessions. Their duty was to see
that all provincial edicts and ordinances decreed by the Estates were
published and enforced, to control the finances and to undertake the
provision and oversight of all military requirements; and to them it
belonged to summon the meetings of the Estates. The Deputed-Estates in
the other provinces had similar but generally less extensive and
authoritative functions.

Such a medley of diverse and often conflicting authorities within a
state of so small an area has no counterpart in history. It seemed
impossible that government could be carried on, or that there could be
any concerted action or national policy in a republic which was rather a
many-headed confederation than a federal state. That the United
Netherlands, in spite of all these disadvantages, rapidly rose in the
17th century to be a maritime and commercial power of the first rank was
largely due to the fact that the foreign policy of the republic and the
general control of its administration was directed by a succession of
very able men, the stadholders of the house of Orange-Nassau and the
council-pensionaries of Holland. For a right understanding of the period
of Dutch history with which we are about to deal, it is necessary to
define clearly what was the position of the stadholder and of the
council-pensionary in this cumbrous and creaking machinery of government
that has just been described, and the character of those offices, which
conferred upon their holders such wide-reaching influence and authority.

The Stadholder or governor was really, both in title and office, an
anomaly in a republic. Under the Burgundian and Habsburg rulers the
Stadholder exercised the local authority in civil and also in military
matters as representing the sovereign duke, count or lord in the
province to which he was appointed, and was by that fact clothed with
certain sovereign attributes during his tenure of office. William the
Silent was Stadholder of Holland and Zeeland at the outbreak of the
revolt, and, though deprived of his offices, he continued until the time
of the Union of Utrecht to exercise authority in those and other
provinces professedly in the name of the king. After his death one would
have expected that the office would have fallen into abeyance, but the
coming of Leicester into the Netherlands led to a revival of the
stadholderate. Holland and Zeeland, in their desire to exercise a check
upon the governor-general's arbitrary exercise of his powers, appointed
Maurice of Nassau to take his father's place; and at the same time
William Lewis of Nassau became Stadholder of Friesland, and stadholders
were also appointed in Utrecht, Gelderland and Overyssel. In 1609
Maurice was Stadholder in the five provinces of Holland, Zeeland,
Gelderland, Utrecht and Overyssel; his cousin William Lewis in Friesland
and Groningen with Drente. The powers of the stadholder were not the
same in the different provinces, but generally speaking he was the
executive officer of the Estates; and in Holland, where his authority
was the greatest, he had the supervision of the administration of
justice, the appointment of a large number of municipal magistrates,
and the prerogative of pardon, and he was charged with the military and
naval defence of the province. The stadholder received his commission
both from the Provincial Estates and from the States-General and took an
oath of allegiance to the latter. In so far, then, as he exercised
quasi-sovereign functions, he did it in the name of the States, whose
servant he nominally was. But when the stadholder, as was the case with
Maurice and the other Princes of Orange, was himself a sovereign-prince
and the heir of a great name, he was able to exercise an authority far
exceeding those of a mere official. The descendants of William the
Silent--Maurice, Frederick Henry, William II and William III--were,
moreover, all of them men of exceptional ability; and the stadholderate
became in their hands a position of almost semi-monarchical dignity and
influence, the stadholder being regarded both by foreign potentates and
by the people of the Netherlands generally as "the eminent head of the
State." Maurice, as stated above, was stadholder in five provinces;
Frederick Henry, William II and William III in six; the seventh
province, Friesland, remaining loyal, right through the 17th century, to
their cousins of the house of Nassau-Siegen, the ancestors of the
present Dutch royal family. That the authority of the States-General and
States-Provincial should from time to time come into conflict with that
of the stadholder was to be expected, for the relations between them
were anomalous in the extreme. The Stadholder of Holland for instance
appointed, directly or indirectly, the larger part of the municipal
magistrates; they in their turn the representatives who formed the
Estates of the Province. But, as the stadholder was the servant of the
Estates, he, in a sense, may be said to have had the power of appointing
his own masters. The stadholders of the house of Orange had also, in
addition to the prestige attaching to their name, the possession of
large property and considerable wealth, which with the emoluments they
received from the States-General, as Captain-General and
Admiral-General of the Union, and from the various provinces, where they
held the post of stadholder, enabled them in the days of Frederick Henry
and his successors to maintain the state and dignity of a court.

The office of Land's Advocate or Council-Pensionary was different
altogether in character from the stadholderate, but at times scarcely
less influential, when filled by a man of commanding talents. The
Advocate in the time of Oldenbarneveldt combined the duties of being
legal adviser to the Estates of Holland, and of presiding over and
conducting the business of the Estates at their meetings, and also those
of the Commissioned-Councillors. He was the leader and spokesman of the
Holland deputies in the States-General. He kept the minutes, introduced
the business and counted the votes at the provincial assemblies. It was
his duty to draw up and register the resolutions. What was perhaps
equally important, he carried on the correspondence with the ambassadors
of the republic at foreign courts, and received their despatches, and
conducted negotiations with the foreign ambassadors at the Hague. It is
easy to see how a man like Oldenbarneveldt, of great industry and
capacity for affairs, although nominally the paid servant of the
Estates, gradually acquired an almost complete control over every
department of administration and became, as it were, a Minister of State
of all affairs. In Oldenbarneveldt's time the post was held for life;
and, as Maurice did not for many years trouble himself about matters of
internal government and foreign diplomacy, the Advocate by the length of
his tenure of office had at the opening of the 17th century become the
virtual director and arbiter of the policy of the State. After his death
the title of advocate and the life-tenure ceased. His successors were
known as Council-Pensionaries, and they held office for five years only,
but with the possibility of re-election. The career of John de Witt
showed, however, that in the case of a supremely able man these
restrictions did not prevent a _Raad-Pensionarius_[4] from exercising
for eighteen years an authority and influence greater even than that of
Oldenbarneveldt.

An account of the multiplied subdivision of administrative control in
the United Provinces would not be complete without some mention of the
Admiralty Colleges in Holland. Holland with Zeeland furnished the fleets
on which the existence and well-being of the republic depended. Both
William the Silent and his son Maurice were, as stadholders, admirals of
Holland and of Zeeland, and both likewise were by the States-General
appointed Admirals-General of the Union. They thus wielded a double
authority over maritime affairs in the two provinces. In 1574 William
had at his side a Council of Admiralty erected by the Provincial
Estates, but Leicester in 1585 was annoyed by the immediate control of
naval matters being withdrawn from the governor-general and the
Council of State. He succeeded therefore in obtaining a division of the
Council of Admiralty into three Chambers, shortly afterwards increased
to five--Rotterdam, Hoorn with Enkhuizen, Veere, Amsterdam and Harlingen
with Dokkum. In 1597 it was determined that each Admiralty should
consist of seven members nominated by the States-General. The
Admiral-General presided over each College and over joint meetings of
the five Colleges. The Admiralties nominated the lieutenants of the
ships and proposed a list of captains to be finally chosen by the
States-General. The Lieutenant-Admiral and Vice-Admirals of Holland and
the Vice-Admiral of Zeeland were chosen by the Provincial Estates. The
States-General appointed the Commander-in-Chief. Such a system seemed to
be devised to prevent any prompt action or swift decision being taken at
times of emergency or sudden danger.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER VIII

THE TWELVE YEARS' TRUCE


The first years of the truce were for the United Provinces, now
recognised as "free and independent States," a period of remarkable
energy and enterprise. The young republic started on its new career with
the buoyant hopefulness that comes from the proud consciousness of
suffering and dangers bravely met and overcome, and, under the wise and
experienced guidance of Oldenbarneveldt, acquired speedily a position
and a weight in the Councils of Europe out of all proportion to its
geographical area or the numbers of its population. The far-seeing
statecraft and practised diplomatic skill of the Advocate never rendered
greater services to his country than during these last years of his long
tenure of power. A difficult question as to the succession to the
Jülich-Cleves duchies arose at the very time of the signing of the
truce, which called for delicate and wary treatment.

In March, 1609, the Duke of Jülich and Cleves died without leaving a
male heir, and the succession to these important border territories on
the Lower Rhine became speedily a burning question. The two principal
claimants through the female line were the Elector of Brandenburg and
William, Count-Palatine of Neuburg. The Emperor Rudolph II, however,
under the pretext of appointing imperial commissioners to adjudicate
upon the rival claims, aroused the suspicions of Brandenburg and
Neuburg; and these two came to an agreement to enter into joint
possession of the duchies, and were styled "the possessors." The
Protestant Union at Heidelberg recognised "the possessors," for it was
all-important for the balance of power in Germany that these lands
should not pass into the hands of a Catholic ruler of the House of
Austria. For the same reason Brandenburg and Neuburg were recognised by
the States-General, who did not wish to see a partisan of Spain
established on their borders. The emperor on his part not only refused
to acknowledge "the possessors," but he also sent his cousin Archduke
Leopold, Bishop of Passau, to intervene by armed force. Leopold seized
the fortress of Jülich and proceeded to establish himself.

It was an awkward situation, for neither the United Provinces nor the
archdukes nor the King of Spain had the smallest desire to make the
Jülich succession the cause of a renewal of hostilities, immediately
after the conclusion of the truce. The eagerness of the French king to
precipitate hostilities with the Habsburg powers however forced their
hands. Henry IV had for some time been making preparations for war, and
he was at the moment irritated by the protection given by the archdukes
to the runaway Princess of Condé, who had fled to Brussels. He had
succeeded in persuading the States to send an auxiliary force into
Germany to assist the French army of invasion in the spring of 1610,
when just as the king was on the point of leaving Paris to go to the
front he was assassinated on May 14. This event put an end to the
expedition, for the regent, Marie de' Medici, was friendly to Austria.
The States nevertheless did not feel disposed to leave Leopold in
possession of Jülich. Maurice led an army into the duchy and laid siege
to the town. It capitulated on September 1. As might have been
anticipated, however, the joint rule of the "possessors" did not turn
out a success. They quarrelled, and Neuburg asked for Catholic help.
Maurice and Spinola in 1614 found themselves again face to face at the
head of rival forces, but actual hostilities were avoided; and by the
treaty of Nanten (November 12, 1614) it was arranged that the disputed
territory should be divided, Brandenburg ruling at Cleves, Neuburg at
Jülich. Thus, in the settlement of this thorny question, the influence
of Oldenbarneveldt worked for a temporary solution satisfactory to the
interests of the United Provinces; nor was his successful intervention
in the Jülich-Cleves affair an isolated instance of his diplomatic
activity. On the contrary it was almost ubiquitous.

The growth of the Dutch trade in the Baltic had for some years been
advancing by leaps and bounds, and now far exceeded that of their old
rivals, the Hanseatic league. Christian IV, the ambitious and warlike
King of Denmark, had been seriously interfering with this trade by
imposing such heavy dues for the passage of the Sound as on the one hand
to furnish him with a large revenue, and on the other hand to support
his claim to sovereign rights over all traffic with the inland sea. The
Hanse towns protested strongly and sought the support of the
States-General in actively opposing the Danish king. It was granted. A
force of 7000 men under Frederick Henry was sent into Germany to the
relief of Brunswick, which was besieged by Christian IV. The siege was
raised; and an alliance was concluded between the republic and the Hanse
towns for common action in the protection of their commercial interests.
Nor was this all. Oldenbarneveldt entered into diplomatic relations with
Charles IX of Sweden and with Russia. Cornelis Haga was sent to
Stockholm; and from this time forward a close intimacy was established
between Sweden and the States. The seaport of Gotheborg, just outside
the entrance to the Sound, was founded by a body of Dutch colonists
under a certain Abraham Cabelliau, an Amsterdam merchant, and continued
to be for years practically a Dutch town.

Scarcely less important was the enterprise shown in the establishment of
friendly relations with distant Russia. Balthazar de Moucheron
established a Dutch factory at Archangel so early as 1584; and a growing
trade sprang up with Russia by way of the White Sea, at first in rivalry
with the English Muscovy Company. But a Dutch merchant, by name Isaac
Massa, having succeeded in gaining the ear and confidence of the Tsar,
Russian commerce gradually became a Dutch monopoly. In 1614 a Muscovite
embassy conducted by Massa came to the Hague, and access to the interior
of Russia was opened to the traders of Holland and to them only.

In the Mediterranean no less foresight and dexterity was shown in
forwarding the interests of the States. The Advocate's son-in-law, Van
der Myle, went in 1609 as ambassador to Venice; and the following year
the first Venetian envoy, Tommaso Contarini, arrived in Holland. In 1612
Cornelis Haga, who had been in Sweden, was sent to Constantinople to
treat with the Turks about commercial privileges in the Levant and for
the suppression of piracy, and he remained in the East in charge of the
republic's interests for many years.

More difficult was the maintenance of friendly relations with England.
In 1604 James I had made peace with Spain; and the growing rivalry upon
the seas between the Dutch and English tended to alienate his sympathies
from the rising maritime power of the republic. He outwardly maintained
friendly relations; his ambassador had a seat on the Council of State;
he retained his garrisons in the cautionary towns; and after the signing
of the truce he bestowed the Garter upon Prince Maurice. But at this
very time, May, 1609, James took a step which was most hurtful to that
industry which had laid the foundation of the commercial prosperity of
Holland--this was the issuing of an edict imposing a tax on all
foreigners fishing in English waters. Though general in its form, this
edict was really directed against the right heretofore enjoyed by the
Netherlanders to fish on the English coast, a right conferred by a
series of treaties and never challenged since its confirmation by the
_Magnus Intercursus_ of 1496. Dutch public opinion was strongly aroused
and a special embassy was sent to London, April, 1610, to protest
against the edict and endeavour to procure its withdrawal or its
modification. This was by no means an easy matter. The fisheries, on
which a large part of the population of Holland and Zeeland depended for
their livelihood, were of vital importance to the States. On the other
hand their virtual monopoly by the Dutch caused keen resentment in
England. In the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth that adventurous
sea-faring spirit, which was destined eventually to plant the flag of
England on the shores of every ocean, had come to the birth, and
everywhere it found, during this early part of the 17th century, Dutch
rivals already in possession and Dutch ships on every trading route. The
Dutch mercantile marine in fact far exceeded the English in numbers and
efficiency. The publication of Hugo Grotius' famous pamphlet, _Mare
Liberum_, in March, 1609, was probably the final cause which decided
James to issue his Fisheries' proclamation. The purpose of Grotius was
to claim for every nation, as against the Portuguese, freedom of trade
in the Indian Ocean, but the arguments he used appeared to King James
and his advisers to challenge the _dominium maris_, which English kings
had always claimed in the "narrow seas." The embassy of 1610,
therefore, had to deal not merely with the fisheries, but with the whole
subject of the maritime relations of the two countries; and a crowd of
published pamphlets proves the intense interest that was aroused. But
the emergence of the dispute as to the Jülich-Cleves succession, and the
change in the policy of the French government owing to the assassination
of Henry IV, led both sides to desire an accommodation; and James
consented, not indeed to withdraw the edict, but to postpone its
execution for two years. It remained a dead letter until 1616, although
all the time the wranglings over the legal aspects of the questions in
dispute continued. The Republic, however, as an independent State, was
very much hampered by the awkward fact of the cautionary towns remaining
in English hands. The occupation of Flushing and Brill, commanding the
entrances to important waterways, seemed to imply that the Dutch
republic was to a certain extent a vassal state under the protection of
England. Oldenbarneveldt resolved therefore to take advantage of King
James' notorious financial embarrassments by offering to redeem the
towns by a ready-money payment. The nominal indebtedness of the United
Provinces for loans advanced by Elizabeth was £600,000; the Advocate
offered in settlement £100,000 in cash and £150,000 more in half-yearly
payments. James accepted the offer, and the towns were handed over, the
garrisons being allowed to pass into the Dutch service, June 1616. Sir
Dudley Carleton, however, who about this time succeeded Sir Ralph
Winwood as English envoy at the Hague, continued to have a seat in the
Council of State.

Oldenbarneveldt thus, at a time when his dominant position in the State
was already being undermined and his career drawing to an end, performed
a great service to his country, the more so as King James, in his
eagerness to negotiate a marriage between the Prince of Wales and a
Spanish infanta, was beginning to allow his policy to be more and more
controlled by the Count of Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador at
Whitehall. James' leaning towards Spain naturally led him to regard with
stronger disfavour the increasing predominance of the Dutch flag upon
the seas, and it was not long before he was sorry that he had
surrendered the cautionary towns. For the fishery rights and the
principle of the _dominium maris_ in the narrow seas were no longer the
only questions in dispute between England and the States. English
seamen and traders had other grievances to allege against the Hollanders
in other parts of the world. The exclusive right to fish for whales in
the waters of Spitsbergen and Greenland was claimed by the English on
the ground of Hugh Willoughby's alleged discovery of Spitsbergen in
1553. The Dutch would not admit any such claim, and asserted that
Heemskerk was the first to visit the archipelago, and that he planted in
1596 the Dutch flag on the shores of the island, to which he gave the
name of Spitsbergen. In 1613 James conferred the monopoly upon the
English Muscovy Company, who sent out a fishing fleet with orders to
drive off any interlopers; and certain Dutch vessels were attacked and
plundered. The reply of the States-General was the granting of a
charter, January 27, 1614, to a company, known as the Northern or
Greenland Company, with the monopoly of fishing between Davis' Straits
and Nova Zembla; and a fishing fleet was sent out accompanied by
warships. The result was a temporary agreement between the English and
Dutch companies for using separate parts of Spitsbergen as their bases,
all others being excluded. Meanwhile the dispute was kept open; and
despite conferences and negotiations neither side showed any disposition
to yield. Matters reached an acute stage in 1618. English and Dutch
fishing fleets of exceptional strength sailed into the northern waters
in the early summer of that year, and a fierce fight took place, which,
as two Dutch war vessels were present, resulted in the scattering of the
English vessels and considerable loss of life and property.

The rivalry and opposition between the Dutch and English traders in the
East-Indies was on a larger scale, but here there was no question of the
Dutch superiority in force, and it was used remorselessly. The Dutch
East India Company had thriven apace. In 1606 a dividend of 50 per cent,
had been paid; in 1609 one of 325 per cent. The chief factory was at
Bantam, but there were many others on the mainland of India, and at
Amboina, Banda, Ternate and Matsjan in the Moluccas; and from these
centres trade was carried on with Ceylon, with Borneo and even with
distant China and Japan. But the position of the company was precarious,
until the secret article of the treaty of 1609 conceded liberty of trade
during the truce. The chief need was to create a centre of
administration, from which a general control could be exercised over all
the officials at the various trading factories throughout the
East-Indian archipelago. It was resolved, therefore, by the Council of
Seventeen to appoint a director-general, who should reside at Bantam,
armed with powers which made him, far removed as he was from
interference by the home authorities, almost a sovereign in the
extensive region which he administered. Jan Pieterszoon Koen, appointed
in 1614, was the first of a series of capable men by whose vigorous and
sometimes unscrupulous action the Dutch company became rapidly the
dominant power in the eastern seas, where their trade and influence
overshadowed those of their European competitors. The most enterprising
of those competitors were the English. Disputes quickly arose between
the rival companies as to trading rights in the Moluccas, the Banda
group and Amboina; and some islands, where the English had made treaties
with the natives, were occupied by the Dutch, and the English expelled.

Another grievance was the refusal of the States-General in 1616 to admit
English dyed cloths into the United Provinces. This had caused especial
irritation to King James. The manufacture of woollen cloth and the
exportation of wool had for long been the chief of English industries;
and the monopoly of the trade was, when James ascended the throne, in
the hands of the oldest of English chartered companies, the Fellowship
of Merchant Adventurers. The Adventurers held since 1598 their Court and
Staple at Middelburg in Zeeland. The English had not learnt the art of
finishing and dyeing the cloth that they wove; it was imported in its
unfinished state, and was then dyed and prepared for commerce by the
Dutch. Some thousands of skilled hands found employment in Holland in
this work. James, always impecunious, determined in 1608, on the
proposal of a certain Alderman Cockayne, to grant Cockayne a patent for
the creation of a home-dyeing industry, reserving to the crown a
monopoly for the sale of the goods. The Adventurers complained of this
as a breach of their charter; and, after much bickering, the king in
1615 settled the dispute by withdrawing the charter. Cockayne now hoped
that the company he had formed would be a profitable concern, but he and
the king were doomed to disappointment. The Estates of Holland refused
to admit the English dyed cloths, and their example was followed by the
other provinces and by the States-General. Cockayne became bankrupt, and
in 1617 the king had to renew the charter of the Adventurers. James was
naturally very sore at this rebuff, and he resolved upon reprisals by
enforcing the proclamation of 1609 and exacting a toll from all foreign
vessels fishing in British waters. Great was the indignation in Holland,
and the fishing fleet in 1617 set sail with an armed convoy. A Scottish
official named Browne, who came to collect the toll, was seized and
carried as a prisoner to Holland. James at once laid hands on two Dutch
skippers in the Thames, as hostages, and demanded satisfaction for the
outrage upon his officer. Neither side would at first give way, and it
was not until after some months that an accommodation was patched up.
The general question of the fishery privileges remained however just
as far from settlement as ever, for the States stood firm upon their
treaty rights. At length it was resolved by the States to send a special
mission to England to discuss with the king the four burning questions
embittering the relations between the two countries. The envoys arrived
in London, December, 1618. For seven months the parleyings went on
without any definite result being reached, and in August, 1619, the
embassy returned. Very important events had meanwhile been occurring
both in the United Provinces and in Germany, which made it necessary to
both parties that the decision on these trade questions, important as
they were, should be postponed for awhile, as they were overshadowed by
the serious political crises in Holland and in Bohemia, which were then
occupying all men's attention.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER IX

MAURICE AND OLDENBARNEVELDT


The conclusion of the truce did not bring, with material progress and
trade expansion, internal peace to the United Provinces. The relations
between the Prince-stadholder and the all-powerful Advocate had long
been strained. In the long-drawn-out negotiations Maurice had never
disguised his dislike to the project of a truce, and, though he finally
acquiesced, it was a sullen acquiescence. At first there was no overt
breach between the two men, but Maurice, though he did not refuse to
meet Oldenbarneveldt, was cold and unfriendly. He did not attempt to
interfere with the old statesman's control of the machinery of
administration or with his diplomatic activities, for he was naturally
indolent and took little interest in politics. Had he been ambitious, he
might many years before have obtained by general consent sovereign
power, but he did not seek it. His passion was the study of military
science. From his early youth he had spent his life in camps, and now he
found himself without occupation. The enemies of Oldenbarneveldt seized
the opportunity to arouse Maurice's suspicions of the Advocate's motives
in bringing about the truce, and even to hint that he had been bribed
with Spanish gold. Chief among these enemies was Francis van Aerssens,
for a number of years ambassador of the States at Paris. Aerssens owed
much to the Advocate, but he attributed his removal from his post at
the French court to the decision of Oldenbarneveldt to replace him by
his son-in-law, Van der Myle. He never forgave his recall, and alike by
subtle insinuation and unscrupulous accusation, strove to blacken the
character and reputation of his former benefactor.

By a curious fatality it was the outbreak of fierce sectarian strife and
dissension between the extreme and the moderate Calvinists which was
eventually to change the latent hostility of Maurice to Oldenbarneveldt
into open antagonism. Neither of the two men had strong religious
convictions, but circumstances brought it about that they were to range
themselves irrevocably on opposite sides in a quarrel between
fanatical theologians on the subject of predestination and grace.

From early times Calvinism in the northern Netherlands had been divided
into two schools. The strict Calvinists or "Reformed," known by their
opponents as "Precisians," and the liberal Calvinists, "the
Evangelicals," otherwise "the Libertines." To this Libertine party
belonged William the Silent, Oldenbarneveldt and the majority of the
burgher-regents of Holland. These men regarded the religious question
from the statesman's point of view. Having risen in rebellion against
the tyranny of the Spanish Inquisition, they were anxious to preserve
their countrymen (only a minority of whom were Protestants) from being
placed under the heel of a religious intolerance as narrow and bigoted
as that from which they had escaped. The "Reformed" congregations on the
other hand, led by the preachers, were anxious to summon a National
Synod for the purpose of creating a State Church to whose tenets,
rigidly defined by the Heidelberg catechism and the Netherland
confession, all would be required to conform on pain of being deprived
of their rights as citizens. The Libertines were opposed to such a
scheme, as an interference with the rights of each province to regulate
its own religious affairs, and as an attempt to assert the supremacy of
Church over State.

The struggle between the two parties, which had continued intermittently
for a number of years, suddenly became acute through the appointment by
Maurice of Jacob Harmensz, better known as Arminius, to the Chair of
Theology at Leyden, vacated by the death of Junius in 1602. The leader
of the strict Calvinist school, the learned Franciscus Gomarus, had at
the time of the appointment of Arminius already been a professor at
Leyden for eight years. Each teacher gathered round him a following of
devoted disciples, and a violent collision was inevitable. Prolonged and
heated controversy on the high doctrines of Predestination and Freewill
led to many appeals being made to the States-General and to the Estates
of Holland to convene a Synod to settle the disputed questions, but
neither of these bodies in the midst of the negotiations for the truce
was willing to complicate matters by taking a step that could not fail
to accentuate existing discords. Six months after the truce was signed
Arminius died. The quarrel, however, was only to grow more embittered.
Johannes Uyttenbogaert took the leadership of the Arminians, and
finally, after consultation with Oldenbarneveldt, he called together a
convention of Arminian preachers and laymen at Gouda (June, 1610). They
drew up for presentation to the Estates a petition, known as the
_Remonstratie,_ consisting of five articles, in which they defined the
points wherein they differed from the orthodox Calvinist doctrines on
the subjects of predestination, election and grace. The Gomarists on
their part drew up a _Contra-Remonstratie_ containing seven articles,
and they declined to submit to any decision on matters of doctrine, save
from a purely Church Synod. These two weighty declarations gained for
the two parties henceforth the names of Remonstrants and
Contra-Remonstrants. For the next three years a fierce controversy raged
in every province, pulpit replying to pulpit, and pamphlet to pamphlet.
The Contra-Remonstrants roundly accused their adversaries of holding
Pelagian and Socinian opinions and of being Papists in disguise. This
last accusation drew to their side the great majority of the Protestant
population, but the Remonstrants had many adherents among the
burgher-regents, and they could count upon a majority in the Estates of
Holland, Utrecht and Overyssel, and they had the powerful support of
Oldenbarneveldt.

The Advocate was no theologian, and on the doctrinal points in dispute
he probably held no very clear views. He inclined, however, to the
Arminians because of their greater tolerance, and above all for their
readiness to acknowledge the authority of the State as supreme, in
religious as well as in civil matters. He was anxious to bring about an
accommodation which should give satisfaction to both parties, but he was
dealing with fanatics, and the fires of religious bigotry when once
kindled are difficult to quench. And now was seen a curious object
lesson in the many-headed character of the government of the United
Netherlands. A majority of the provinces in the States-General favoured
the Contra-Remonstrants. The Estates of Holland, however, under the
influence of Oldenbarneveldt by a small majority refused the
Contra-Remonstrant demand and resolved to take drastic action against
the Gomarists. But a number of the representative towns in Holland, and
among them Amsterdam, declined to enforce the resolution. At Rotterdam,
on the other hand, and in the other town-councils, where the Arminians
had the majority, the Gomarist preachers were expelled from their
pulpits; and the Advocate was determined by coercion, if necessary, to
enforce the authority of the Estates throughout the province. But
coercion without the use of the military force was impossible in face of
the growing uprising of popular passion; and the military forces could
not be employed without the consent of the stadholder. Thus in 1617,
with the question of civil war in Holland trembling in the balance, the
ultimate decision lay with the stadholder; and Maurice after long
hesitation determined to throw the sword of the soldier into the scale
against the influence of the statesman.

Maurice had not as yet openly broken with his father's old friend, whose
immense services to the republic during the greater part of four decades
he fully recognised. As to the questions now in dispute the stadholder
was to an even less degree than the Advocate a zealous theologian. It is
reported that he declared that he did not know whether predestination
was blue or green. His court-chaplain, Uyttenbogaert, was a leading
Arminian; and both his step-mother, Louise (see p. 78), to whose
opinions he attached much weight, and his younger brother, Frederick
Henry, were by inclination "libertines." On the other hand William
Lewis, the Frisian Stadholder, was a zealous Calvinist, and he used all
his influence with his cousin to urge him to make a firm stand against
Oldenbarneveldt, and those who were trying to overthrow the Reformed
faith. Sir Dudley Carleton, the new English ambassador, ranged himself
also as a strong opponent of the Advocate. While Maurice, however, was
hesitating as to the action he should take, Oldenbarneveldt determined
upon a step which amounted to a declaration of war. In December, 1616,
he carried in the Estates of Holland a proposal that they should, in
the exercise of their sovereign rights, enlist a provincial force of
4000 militia (_waardgelders_) in their pay. Thus Holland, though a
strong minority in the Estates was in opposition, declared its intention
of upholding the principle of provincial sovereignty against the
authority of the States-General. The States-General at the instance of
the two stadholders, May, 1617, declared for the summoning of a National
Synod by a vote of four provinces against three. The Estates of Holland,
again with a sharp division of opinion but by a majority, declined to
obey the summons. An impasse was thus reached and Maurice at last openly
declared for the Contra-Remonstrant side.

On July 23 the Prince, accompanied by his suite, ostentatiously attended
divine service at the Cloister Church at the Hague, where the
Contra-Remonstrants had a fortnight before, in face of the prohibition
of the Estates, established themselves. This step was countered by
decisive action on the part of Oldenbarneveldt. A proposal was made in
the Estates of Holland, August 4, known as the "Sharp Resolution"--and
it well merited its name, for it was of the most drastic character. It
was a most unqualified declaration of provincial sovereignty, and yet it
was only passed in the teeth of a strong minority by the exertion of the
Advocate's personal influence. By this resolution Holland declined to
assent to the summoning of any Synod, National or Provincial, and
asserted the supremacy of the Estates in matters of religion. The
municipal authorities were ordered to raise levies of _Waardgelders_ to
keep the peace; and all officials, civil or military, were required to
take an oath of obedience to the Estates on pain of dismissal. A strong
protest was made by the representatives of the dissenting cities headed
by Reinier Pauw, burgomaster of Amsterdam.

On the plea of ill-health Oldenbarneveldt now left the Hague, and took
up his residence at Utrecht. His object was to keep this province firm
in its alliance with Holland. He did not return till November 6, but all
the time he was in active correspondence with his party in Holland, at
whose head were the three pensionaries of Rotterdam, Leyden and
Haarlem--De Groot, Hoogerbeets and De Haan. Under their leadership
levies of _Waardgelders_ were made in a number of towns; but other
towns, including Amsterdam, refused, and the total levy did not amount
to more than 1800 men. Meanwhile the majority of the States-General,
urged on by Maurice and William Lewis, were determined, despite the
resistance of Holland and Utrecht, to carry through the proposal for the
summoning of a National Synod. Overyssel had been overawed and persuaded
to assent, so that there were five votes against two in its favour. All
through the winter the wrangling went on, and estrangement between the
contending parties grew more bitter and acute. A perfect flood of
pamphlets, broadsheets and pasquinades issued from the press; and in
particular the most violent and envenomed attacks were made upon the
character and administration of the Advocate, in which he was accused of
having received bribes both from Spanish and French sources and to have
betrayed the interests of his country. The chief instigator of these
attacks was Oldenbarneveldt's personal enemy, Francis van Aerssens,
whose pen was never idle. The defenders of the Remonstrant cause and
of the principles of provincial sovereignty were not lacking in the
vigour and virulence of their replies; and the Advocate himself felt
that the accusations which were made against him demanded a formal and
serious rejoinder. He accordingly prepared a long and careful defence of
his whole career, in which he proved conclusively that the charges made
against him had no foundation. This _Remonstratie_ he addressed to the
Estates of Holland, and he also sent a copy to the Prince. If this
document did not at the time avail to silence the voices of prejudiced
adversaries whose minds were made up, it has at least had the effect of
convincing posterity that, however unwise may have been the course now
deliberately pursued by the Advocate, he never for the sake of personal
gain betrayed the interests of his country. Had he now seen that the
attempt of a majority in the Estates of Holland to resist the will of
the majority in the States-General could only lead to civil war, and had
he resigned his post, advising the Estates to disband the _Waardgelders_
and yield to superior force, a catastrophe might have been averted.
There is no reason to believe that in such circumstances Maurice would
have countenanced any extreme harshness in dealing with the Advocate.
But Oldenbarneveldt, long accustomed to the exercise of power, was
determined not to yield one jot of the claim of the sovereign province
of Holland to supremacy within its own borders in matters of religion.
The die was cast and the issue had to be decided by force of arms.

On June 28, 1618, a solemn protest was made by the Advocate in the
States-General against the summoning of a National Synod in opposition
to the expressed opinion of the Estates of Holland; and a threat was
made that Holland might withhold her contribution to the general fund.
The majority of the States-General (July 9) declared the raising of
local levies illegal, and (July 23) it was resolved that a commission be
sent to Utrecht with Maurice at its head to demand the disbanding of the
_Waardgelders_ in that town.

The Estates of Holland[5] impelled by Oldenbarneveldt now took a very
strong step, a step which could not be retrieved. They resolved also to
despatch commissioners to Utrecht to urge the town-council to stand
firm. De Groot, Hoogerbeets and two others were nominated, and they at
once set out for Utrecht. Maurice, with the deputation from the
States-General and a large suite, left the Hague only a little later
than De Groot and his companions, and reached Utrecht on the evening of
the 25th. This strange situation lasted for several days, and much
parleying and several angry discussions took place. Matters were further
complicated by the news that the dissentient towns of Holland were also
sending a deputation. This news had a considerable effect upon Colonel
Ogle, the commander of the _Waardgelders_ in Utrecht, and his officers.
They were already wavering; they now saw that resistance to the orders
of the States-General would be useless. The Prince, who had been
collecting a body of troops, now determined on action. His force entered
the city on the evening of the 31st, and on the following morning he
commanded the local levies to lay down their arms. They at once obeyed,
and Maurice took possession of the city. The Holland commissioners and
the members of the town-council fled. Maurice appointed a new
town-council entirely Contra-Remonstrant; and changes were made in both
branches of the Estates, so as to secure a Contra-Remonstrant majority
and with it the vote of the province in the States-General for the
National Synod. Holland now stood alone, and its opposition had to be
dealt with in a fashion even sterner than that of Utrecht.

The Remonstrant cities of Holland were still for resistance, and
attempts were made to influence the stadholder not to resort to extreme
measures. Maurice had, however, made up his mind. On August 18 the
States-General passed a resolution demanding the dismissal of the
_Waardgelders_ in Holland within twenty-four hours. The placard was
published on the 20th and was immediately obeyed. The Estates of
Holland had been summoned to meet on the 21st, and were at once called
upon to deal with the question of the National Synod. A few days later
(August 28) a secret resolution was adopted by the majority in the
States-General, without the knowledge of the Holland deputies, to arrest
Oldenbarneveldt, De Groot, Hoogerbeets and Ledenburg, the secretary of
the Estates of Utrecht, on the ground that their action in the troubles
at Utrecht had been dangerous to the State. On the following day the
Advocate, on his way to attend the meeting of the Estates, was arrested
and placed in confinement. De Groot, Hoogerbeets and Ledenburg met with
similar treatment. After protesting the Estates adjourned on the 30th
until September 12, the deputies alleging that it was necessary to
consult their principals in this emergency, but in reality because the
suddenness of the blow had stricken them with terror. It was a prudent
step, for Maurice was resolved to purge the Estates and the
town-councils of Holland, as he had already purged those of Utrecht.
Attended by a strong body-guard he went from town to town, changing the
magistracies, so as to place everywhere the Contra-Remonstrants in
power. As a consequence of this action the deputies sent by the towns
were likewise changed; and, when the Estates next met, the supporters of
Oldenbarneveldt and his policy had disappeared. A peaceful revolution
had been accomplished. All opposition to the summoning of the Synod was
crushed; and (November 9) the Estates passed a vote of thanks to the
stadholder for "the care and fidelity" with which he had discharged a
difficult and necessary duty.

Meanwhile Oldenbarneveldt and the other prisoners had been confined in
separate rooms in the Binnenhof and were treated with excessive
harshness and severity. They were permitted to have no communication
with the outside world, no books, paper or writing materials; and the
conditions of their imprisonment were such as to be injurious to health.
A commission was appointed by the States-General to examine the accused,
and it began its labours in November. The method of procedure was unjust
and unfair in the extreme, even had it been a case of dealing with vile
criminals. The treatment of Oldenbarneveldt in particular was almost
indecently harsh. The aged statesman had to appear sixty times before
the commission and was examined and cross-examined on every incident of
the forty years of his administration and on every detail of his
private life. He was allowed not only to have no legal adviser, but
also was forbidden access to any books of reference or to any papers or
to make any notes. It was thus hoped that, having to trust entirely to
his memory, the old man might be led into self-contradictions or to
making damaging admissions against himself. De Groot and Hoogerbeets had
to undergo a similar, though less protracted, inquisition. Such was its
effect upon Ledenburg that he committed suicide.

It was not until February 20, 1619, that the States-General appointed an
extraordinary court for the trial of the accused. It consisted of
twenty-four members, of whom twelve were Hollanders.

It is needless to say that such a court had no legal status; and the
fact that nearly all its members were the Advocate's personal or
political enemies is a proof that the proceedings were judicial only in
name. It was appointed not to try, but to condemn the prisoners.
Oldenbarneveldt protested in the strongest terms against the court's
competence. He had been the servant of the Estates of the sovereign
province of Holland, and to them alone was he responsible. He denied to
the States-General any sovereign rights; they were simply an assembly
representing a number of sovereign allies. These were bold statements,
and they were accompanied by an absolute denial of the charges brought
against him. It was quite useless. All the prisoners were condemned,
first De Groot, then Hoogerbeets, then Oldenbarneveldt. The trials were
concluded on May 1, but it was resolved to defer the sentences until
after the close of the National Synod, which had been meeting at
Dordrecht. This took place on May 9.

Meanwhile strong and influential efforts were made for leniency. The
French ambassador, Aubrey du Maurier, during the trial did his utmost to
secure fair treatment for the Advocate; and a special envoy, Châtillon,
was sent from Paris to express the French king's firm belief in the aged
statesman's integrity and patriotism based on an intimate knowledge of
all the diplomatic proceedings during and after the negotiations for the
Truce. But these representations had no effect and were indeed resented.
Equally unfruitful were the efforts made by Louise de Coligny to soften
the severity of her step-son's attitude. Even William Lewis wrote to
Maurice not to proceed too harshly in the matter. All was in vain. The
Prince's heart was steeled. He kept asking whether the Advocate or his
family had sued for pardon. But Oldenbarneveldt was far too proud to
take any step which implied an admission of guilt; and all the members
of his family were as firmly resolved as he was not to supplicate for
grace. Few, however, believed that capital punishment would be carried
out. On Sunday, May 12, however, sentence of death was solemnly
pronounced; and on the following morning the head of the great statesman
and patriot was stricken off on a scaffold erected in the Binnenhof
immediately in front of the windows of Maurice's residence. The
Advocate's last words were a protestation of his absolute innocence of
the charge of being a traitor to his country; and posterity has endorsed
the declaration.

That Oldenbarneveldt had in the last two years of his life acted
indiscreetly and arrogantly there can be no question. His long tenure of
power had made him impatient of contradiction; and, having once
committed himself to a certain course of action, he determined to carry
it through in the teeth of opposition, regardless of consequences and
with a narrow obstinacy of temper that aroused bitter resentment. His
whole correspondence and private papers were however seized and
carefully scrutinised by his personal enemies; and, had they found any
evidence to substantiate the charges brought against him, it would have
been published to the world. It is clear that not a shred of such
evidence was discovered, and that the Advocate was perfectly innocent of
the treasonable conduct for which a packed court condemned him to suffer
death. Such was the reward that Oldenbarneveldt received for life-long
services of priceless value to his country. He more than any other man
was the real founder of the Dutch Republic; and it will remain an
ineffaceable stain on Maurice's memory that he was consenting unto this
cruel and unjust sentence.

Sentences of imprisonment for life were passed upon De Groot and
Hoogerbeets. They were confined in the castle of Loevestein. The
conditions of captivity were so far relaxed that the famous jurist was
allowed to receive books for the continuance of his studies. Through the
ingenuity and daring of his wife De Groot contrived to escape in 1621 by
concealing himself in a trunk supposed to be filled with heavy tomes.
The trunk was conveyed by water to Rotterdam, from whence the prisoner
managed to make his way safely to France.

Concurrently with the political trials the National Synod had been
pursuing its labours at Dordrecht. On November 13 rather more than one
hundred delegates assembled under the presidency of Johannes Bogerman of
Leeuwarden. Fifty-eight of the delegates were preachers, professors and
elders elected by the provincial synods, fifteen were commissioners
appointed by the States-General, twenty-eight were members of foreign
Reformed churches. English and Scottish representatives took an active
part in the proceedings. The Synod decided to summon the Remonstrants to
send a deputation to make their defence. On December 6 accordingly, a
body of twelve leading Remonstrants with Simon Episcopius at their head
took their seats at a table facing the assembly. Episcopius made a
long harangue in Latin occupying nine sessions. His eloquence was,
however, wasted on a court that had already prejudged the cause for
which he pleaded. After much wrangling and many recriminations Bogerman
ordered the Remonstrants to withdraw. They did so only to meet in an
"anti-synod" at Rotterdam at which the authority of the Dordrecht
assembly to pronounce decisions on matters of faith was denied.
Meanwhile the Contra-Remonstrant divines at Dordrecht during many weary
sessions proceeded to draw up a series of canons defining the true
Reformed doctrine and condemning utterly, as false and heretical, the
five points set forth in the Remonstrance. On May 1 the Netherland
confession and the Heidelberg catechism were unanimously adopted, as
being in conformity with Holy Scripture, and as fixing the standard of
orthodox teaching. The Synod was dissolved eight days later. The final
session was the 154th; and this great assembly of delegates from many
lands, the nearest approach to a general council of the Protestant
churches that has ever been held, came to a close amidst much festivity
and no small congratulation. No time was lost in taking action by the
dominant party against their opponents. Two hundred Remonstrant
preachers were driven into exile; and the congregations were treated
with the same spirit of intolerance as had hitherto been the lot of the
Catholics, and were forbidden the exercise of public worship.

After the Advocate's death, except for the persecution directed against
the Remonstrant party, the course of public affairs went on smoothly.
Maurice, who by the death of his brother, Philip William, had in
February, 1618, become Prince of Orange, was virtually sovereign in the
United Provinces. His name appeared in treaties with eastern potentates
and in diplomatic despatches, just as if he were a reigning monarch; and
the people of the Netherlands were even at times spoken of as his
subjects. But Maurice never cared to trouble himself about the details
of politics, and he now left the management of affairs in the hands of a
few men that he could trust, notably in those of Francis van Aerssens
(henceforth generally known as lord of Sommelsdijk) and Reinier Pauw,
the influential burgomaster of Amsterdam. Aerssens had shown himself
spiteful and vindictive in his conduct towards his earlier patron,
Oldenbarneveldt, but being a clever diplomatist and gifted with
considerable powers of statesmanship, he became henceforth for many
years the trusted adviser and confidant not only of Maurice, but of his
successor Frederick Henry.

The year 1620 was marked by the sudden death in June of William Lewis,
the Stadholder of Friesland. His loss was much deplored by Maurice, who
had for years been accustomed to rely upon the tried experience and
sound judgment of his cousin both in peace and war. A few months earlier
(March) Louise de Coligny had died at Fontainebleau. She too had been
from his youth the wise adviser of her step-son, but she was deeply
grieved at the fate of Oldenbarneveldt, and after his execution left the
Netherlands to take up her residence in her native country. By the death
of William Lewis the two stadholderates of Groningen with Drente and of
Friesland became vacant. Maurice succeeded to that of Groningen, but the
Frieslanders remained faithful to the house of Nassau-Siegen and elected
Ernest Casimir, the younger brother of William Lewis, as their
stadholder.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER X

FROM THE END OF THE TWELVE YEARS' TRUCE TO THE PEACE OF MUENSTER
(1621-48). THE STADHOLDERATE OF FREDERICK HENRY OF ORANGE


Civil disturbances and religious persecutions were not the only causes
of anxiety to the political leaders in the United Provinces during the
crisis of 1618-19; foreign affairs were also assuming a menacing aspect.
The year 1618 saw the opening in Germany of the Thirty Years' War. The
acceptance of the Crown of Bohemia by Frederick, Elector Palatine, meant
that the long-delayed struggle for supremacy between Catholics and
Protestants was to be fought out; and it was a struggle which neither
Spain nor the Netherlands could watch with indifference. Maurice was
fully alive to the necessity of strengthening the defences of the
eastern frontier; and subsidies were granted by the States-General to
Frederick and also to some of the smaller German princes. This support
would have been larger, but the unexpected refusal of James I to give
aid to his son-in-law made the Dutch doubtful in their attitude. The
States, though friendly, were unwilling to commit themselves. In the
spring of 1620, however, by James' permission, the English regiments in
the Dutch service under the command of Sir Horace Vere were sent to
oppose Spinola's invasion of the Rhineland. Accompanied by a Dutch force
under Frederick Henry, they reached the Palatinate, but it was too late.
The fate of the King of Bohemia was soon to be decided elsewhere than in
his hereditary dominions. Completely defeated at the battle of Prague,
Frederick with his wife and family fled to Holland to seek the
protection of their cousin, the Prince of Orange. They met with the most
generous treatment at his hands, and they were for many years to make
the Hague the home of their exile.

As the date at which the Twelve Years' Truce came to an end drew near,
some efforts were made to avert war. There were advocates of peace in
the United Provinces, especially in Gelderland and Overyssel, the two
provinces most exposed to invasion.

The archdukes had no desire to re-open hostilities; and Pecquinius, the
Chancellor of Brabant, was sent to the Hague to confer with Maurice, and
was authorised to name certain conditions for the conclusion of a peace.
These conditions proved, however, to be wholly unacceptable, and the
early summer of 1621 saw Maurice and Spinola once more in the field at
the head of rival armies. The operations were, however, dilatory and
inconclusive. The stadholder now, and throughout his last campaigns, was
no longer physically the same man as in the days when his skilful
generalship had saved the Dutch republic from overthrow; he had lost the
brilliant energy of youth. The deaths in the course of this same year,
1621, of both the Archduke Albert and Philip III of Spain, were also
hindrances to the vigorous prosecution of the war. In 1622 there was
much marching and counter-marching, and Maurice was successful in
compelling Spinola to raise the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom, the last
success he was destined to achieve. In the course of this year the
prince's life was in serious danger. A plot was laid to assassinate him
on his way to Ryswyck, the leading conspirator being William van
Stoutenberg, the younger son of Oldenbarneveldt. Stoutenberg had, in
1619, been deprived of his posts and his property confiscated, and he
wished to avenge his father's death and his own injuries. The plot was
discovered, but Stoutenberg managed to escape and took service under the
Archduchess Isabel. Unfortunately he had implicated his elder brother,
Regnier, lord of Groeneveldt, in the scheme. Groeneveldt was seized and
brought to the scaffold.

From this time nothing but misfortune dogged the steps of Maurice, whose
health began to give way under the fatigues of campaigning. In 1623 a
carefully planned expedition against Antwerp, which he confidently
expected to succeed, was frustrated by a long continuance of stormy
weather. Spinola in the following year laid siege to Breda. This
strongly fortified town, an ancestral domain of the Princes of Orange,
had a garrison of 7000 men. The Spanish commander rapidly advancing
completely invested it. Maurice, who had been conducting operations on
the eastern frontier, now hastened to Breda, and did his utmost by
cutting off Spinola's own supplies to compel him to raise the blockade.
All his efforts however failed, and after holding out for many months
Breda surrendered. In the spring of 1625 the prince became so
seriously ill that he asked the States-General to appoint his brother
commander-in-chief in his stead. Feeling his end drawing near, Maurice's
chief wish was to see Frederick Henry married before his death.
Frederick Henry, like Maurice himself, had never shown any inclination
for wedlock and there was no heir to the family. He had, however, been
attracted by the Countess Amalia von Solms, a lady of the suite of
Elizabeth of Bohemia. Under pressure from the dying man the
preliminaries were speedily arranged, and the wedding was quietly
celebrated on April 4. Though thus hastily concluded, the marriage
proved to be in every way a thoroughly happy one. Amalia was throughout
his life to be the wise adviser of her husband and to exercise no small
influence in the conduct of public affairs. Maurice died on April 23, in
the fifty-eighth year of his age. His forty years of continuous and
strenuous service to the State had made him prematurely old; and there
can be but little doubt that the terrible anxieties of the crisis of
1618-19 told upon him. Above all a feeling of remorse for his share in
the tragedy of Oldenbarneveldt's death preyed upon his mind.

The new Prince of Orange succeeded to a difficult position, but he was
endowed with all the qualities of a real leader of men. Forty-one years
old and brought up from boyhood in camps under the eye of his brother,
Frederick Henry was now to show that he was one of the most accomplished
masters of the military art, and especially siege-craft, in an age of
famous generals, for Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, Torstenson, Turenne,
Charles Gustavus and the Great Elector were all trained in his school.
He was, however, much more than an experienced and resourceful commander
in the field. He inherited much of his father's wary and tactful
statesmanship and skill in diplomacy. He was, moreover, deservedly
popular. He was a Hollander born and bred, and his handsome face,
chivalrous bearing, and conciliatory genial temper, won for him an
influence, which for some years was to give him almost undisputed
predominance in the State. To quote the words of a contemporary, Van der
Capellen, "the prince in truth disposed of everything as he liked;
everything gave way to his word."

The offices and dignities held by Maurice were at once conferred on
Frederick Henry. He was elected Stadholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht,
Gelderland and Overyssel, and was appointed Captain-General and
Admiral-General of the Union and head of the Council of State. During
practically the whole of his life the prince spent a considerable part
of the year in camp, but he was able all the time to keep in touch with
home affairs, and to exercise a constant supervision and control of the
foreign policy of the State by the help of his wife, and through the
services of Francis van Aerssens. The Court of the Princess of Orange,
graced as it was by the presence of the exiled King and Queen of
Bohemia, was brilliant and sumptuous, and gave to the reality of power
possessed by the stadholder more than a semblance of sovereign pomp.
During her husband's absence she spared no pains to keep him
well-acquainted with all the currents and under-currents of action and
opinion at the Hague, and was not only able to give sound advice, but
was quite ready, when necessity called, to meet intrigue with intrigue
and render abortive any movements or schemes adverse to the prince's
policy or authority. The obligations of Frederick Henry to Aerssens were
even greater. The stadholder was at first suspicious of the man, whom he
disliked for the leading part he had taken against Oldenbarneveldt. But
he did not allow personal prejudice to prevent him from employing a
diplomatist of Aerssens' experience and capacity, and, with
acquaintance, he learned to regard him, not merely as a clever and wise
councillor, but as a confidential friend.

The right conduct of foreign affairs was of peculiar importance at the
moment, when Frederick Henry became stadholder, for a change of
_régime_ took place almost simultaneously both in France and England. In
Paris Cardinal Richelieu had just laid firm hands upon the reins of
power, and the timorous and feeble James I died in the autumn of 1625.
Richelieu and Charles I were both hostile to Spain, and the republic had
reason to hope for something more than friendly neutrality in the coming
years of struggle with the united forces of the two Habsburg monarchies.

One of the chief difficulties which confronted the new stadholder was
the religious question. The prince himself, as was well known, was
inclined to Remonstrant opinions. He was, however, anxious not to stir
up the smouldering embers of sectarian strife, and he made no effort to
withdraw the placards against the Remonstrants, but confined himself to
moderate in practice their severity. He recalled from exile Van der
Myle, Oldenbarneveldt's son-in-law; made Nicholas van Reigersberg, De
Groot's brother-in-law, a member of the council; and released
Hoogerbeets from his captivity at Loevestein. When, however, De Groot
himself, presuming on the stadholder's goodwill, ventured to return to
Holland without permission, the prince refused to receive him and he was
ordered to leave the country once more.

The year 1626 was marked by no events of military importance; both sides
were in lack of funds and no offensive operations were undertaken. Much
rejoicing, however, attended the birth of a son and heir to the Prince
of Orange, May 27. The child received the name of William. Early in the
following year Sir Dudley Carleton, as envoy-extraordinary of King
Charles I, invested Frederick Henry at the Hague with the Order of the
Garter. This high distinction was not, however, a mark of really
friendlier relations between the two countries. The long-standing
disputes as to fishing rights in the narrow seas and at Spitsbergen, and
as to trading spheres in the East Indian Archipelago, remained
unsettled; and in the unfortunate and ill-considered war, which broke
out at this time between England and France, the sympathies of the
States were with the latter. Already those close relations between the
French and the Dutch, which for the next decade were to be one of the
dominating factors in determining the final issue of the Thirty Years'
War, were by the diplomatic efforts of Richelieu and of Aerssens being
firmly established. France advanced to the States a large subsidy by the
aid of which the stadholder was enabled to take the field at the head
of a really fine army and to give to the world a brilliant display of
his military abilities. Throughout his stadholderate the persistent aim
which Frederick Henry held before himself was never aggression with a
view to conquest, but the creation of a scientific frontier, covered by
strong fortresses, within which the flat lands behind the defensive
lines of the great rivers could feel reasonably secure against sudden
attack. It was with this object that in 1629 he determined to lay siege
to the town of Hertogenbosch. A force of 24,000 infantry and 4000
cavalry were gathered together for the enterprise. It was composed of
many nationalities, like all the armies commanded by Maurice and
Frederick Henry, but was admirably disciplined and devoted to its
commander. Four English, three Scottish and four French regiments, all
choice troops, raised by permission of their sovereigns for the service
of the States, formed the backbone of the force. On April 30 the town
was invested.

Hertogenbosch, or Bois-le-duc, was strongly fortified, and so surrounded
by marshy ground, intersected by a number of small streams, that the
only way of approach for a besieging force was a single causeway
defended by the forts of St Isabella and St Anthony. The garrison
consisted of 8000 men, and the governor, Grobendonc, was an experienced
and resolute soldier.

The stadholder began by surrounding the town with a double line of
circumvallation. The marshes were crossed by dykes, and two streams were
dammed so as to fill a broad deep moat round the lines and flood the
country outside. Other lines, three miles long, connected the investing
lines with the village of Crèvecceur on the Meuse, Frederick Henry's
base of supplies, which were brought by water from Holland. These works
completed, approaches were at once opened against the forts of St
Anthony and St Isabella, the task being entrusted to the English and
French troops. The court of Brussels now began to take serious measures
for relieving the town. At first regarding _Bolduc la pucelle_ as
impregnable, they had been pleased to hear that the prince had committed
himself to an enterprise certain to be a dismal failure. Then came the
news of the circumvallation, and with it alarm. The Count de Berg was
therefore ordered (June 17) at the head of an army of 30,000 foot and
7000 horse to advance into North Brabant and raise the siege. But the
stadholder was prepared and ceaselessly on his guard; and the Spanish
general, after several vain attempts, found the Dutch lines
unassailable. With the view of compelling Frederick Henry to follow him,
Berg now marched into the heart of the United Provinces, devastating as
he went with fire and sword, took Amersfoort and threatened Amsterdam.
But the prince confined himself to despatching a small detached force of
observation; and meanwhile a happy stroke, by which a certain Colonel
Dieden surprised and captured the important frontier fortress of Wesel,
forced the Spaniards to retreat, for Wesel was Berg's depot of supplies
and munitions.

While all this was going on the Prince of Orange had been pushing
forward the siege operations. On July 17 the forts of St Isabella and St
Anthony were stormed. The attack against the main defences, in which the
English regiments specially distinguished themselves, was now pressed
with redoubled vigour. The resistance at every step was desperate, but
at last the moat was crossed and a lodgment effected within the walls.
On September 14 Hertogenbosch surrendered; and the virgin fortress
henceforth became the bulwark of the United Provinces against Spanish
attack on this side. The consummate engineering skill, with which the
investment had been carried out, attracted the attention of all Europe
to this famous siege. It was a signal triumph and added greatly to the
stadholder's popularity and influence in the republic.

It was needed. The Estates of Holland were at this time once more
refractory. The interests of this great commercial and maritime province
differed from those of the other provinces of the Union; and it bore a
financial burden greater than that of all the others put together. The
Estates, then under the leadership of Adrian Pauw, the influential
pensionary of Amsterdam, declined to raise the quota of taxation
assigned to the province for military needs and proceeded to disband a
number of troops that were in their pay. Inconsistently with this action
they declined to consider certain proposals for peace put forward by the
Infanta Isabel, for they would yield nothing on the questions of liberty
of worship or of freedom to trade in the Indies. Their neglect to
furnish the requisite supplies for the war, however, prevented the
prince from undertaking any serious military operations in 1630.
Fortunately the other side were in no better case financially, while the
death of Spinola and the withdrawal of the Count de Berg from the
Spanish service deprived them of their only two competent generals. This
attitude of Holland, though it thwarted the stadholder's plans and was
maintained in opposition to his wishes, by no means however implied any
distrust of him or lack of confidence in his leadership. This was
conclusively proved by the passing, at the instigation of Holland, of
the _Acte de Survivance_ (April 19,1631). This Act declared all the
various offices held by the prince hereditary in the person of his
five-year-old son. He thus became, in all but name, a constitutional
sovereign.

An expedition planned for the capture of Dunkirk at this time, spring
1631, proved too hazardous and was abandoned, but later in the year the
Dutch sailors gave a signal proof of their superiority at sea.
Encouraged by the failure of the attempted attack on Dunkirk the
government at Brussels determined on a counter-stroke. A flotilla of 35
frigates, accompanied by a large number of smaller vessels to carry
supplies and munitions and having on board a body of 6000 soldiers,
set sail from Antwerp under the command of Count John of Nassau (a
cousin of the stadholder) and in the presence of Isabel herself to
effect the conquest of some of the Zeeland islands. As soon as the
news reached Frederick Henry, detachments of troops were at once
despatched to various points; and about a dozen vessels were rapidly
equipped and ordered to follow the enemy and if possible bring him to
action. A landing at Terscholen was foiled by Colonel Morgan, who, at
the head of 2000 English troops, waded across a shallow estuary in
time to prevent a descent. At last (September 12) the Dutch ships
managed to come up with their adversaries in the Slaak near the island
of Tholen. They at once attacked and though so inferior in numbers
gained a complete victory. Count John of Nassau just contrived to
escape, but his fleet was destroyed and 5000 prisoners were taken.

The year 1632 witnessed a renewal of military activity and was memorable
for the famous siege and capture of Maestricht. This fortress held the
same commanding position on the eastern frontier as Hertogenbosch on the
southern; and, though its natural position was not so strong as the
capital of North Brabant, Maestricht, lying as it did on both sides of
the broad Meuse, and being strongly fortified and garrisoned, was very
difficult to invest. The stadholder, at the head of a force of 17,000
infantry and 4000 horse, first made himself master of Venloo and
Roeremonde and then advanced upon Maestricht. Unfortunately before
Roeremonde, Ernest Casimir, the brave stadholder of Friesland and
Groningen, was killed. He was succeeded in his offices by his son, Henry
Casimir. Arriving (June 10) before Maestricht, Frederick Henry proceeded
to erect strongly entrenched lines of circumvallation round the town
connecting them above and below the town by bridges. Supplies reached
him plentifully by the river. To the English and French regiments were
once more assigned the place of honour in the attack. All went well
until July 2, when Don Gonzales de Cordova led a superior Spanish force
from Germany, consisting of 18,000 foot and 6000 horse, to raise the
siege, and encamped close to the Dutch lines on the south side of the
river. Finding however no vulnerable spot, he awaited the arrival at the
beginning of August of an Imperialist army of 12,000 foot and 4000
horse, under the renowned Pappenheim. This impetuous leader determined
upon an assault, and the Dutch entrenchments were attacked suddenly with
great vigour at a moment when the prince was laid up with the gout. He
rose, however, from his bed, personally visited all the points of
danger, and after desperate fighting the assailants were at last driven
off with heavy loss. The Spaniards and Imperialists, finding that the
stadholder's lines could not be forced, instituted a blockade, so that
the besiegers were themselves besieged. But Frederick Henry had laid up
such ample stores of munitions and provisions that he paid no heed to
the cutting of his communications, and pushed on his approaches with the
utmost rapidity. All difficulties were overcome by the engineering skill
of the scientific commander; and finally two tunnels sixty feet deep
were driven under the broad dry moat before the town walls. The English
regiments during these operations bore the brunt of the fighting and
lost heavily, Colonels Harwood and the Earl of Oxford being killed and
Colonel Morgan dangerously wounded. After exploding a mine, a forlorn
hope of fifty English troops rushed out from one of the tunnels and made
good their footing upon the ramparts. Others followed, and the garrison,
fearing that further resistance might entail the sacking of the town,
surrendered (August 23) with honours of war.

One result of the fall of Maestricht was a renewal on the part of the
Archduchess Isabel of negotiations for peace or a long truce. On the
authority of Frederick Henry's memoirs the terms first offered to him in
camp were favourable and might have been accepted. When, however, the
discussion was shifted to the Hague, the attitude of the Belgic
representatives had stiffened. The cause was not far to seek, for on
November 6, 1632 the ever-victorious Gustavus Adolphus had fallen in the
hour of triumph in the fatal battle of Lützen. The death of the Swedish
hero was a great blow to the Protestant cause and gave fresh heart to
the despondent Catholic alliance. The negotiations dragged however their
slow length along, the chief point of controversy being the old dispute
about freedom to trade in the Indies. On this point agreement was
impossible. Spain would yield nothing of her pretensions; and the
Hollanders would hear of no concessions that threatened the prosperity
of the East and West India Companies in which so many merchants and
investors were deeply interested. Any admission of a Spanish monopoly or
right of exclusion would have spelt ruin to thousands. The diplomatic
discussions, however, went on for many months in a desultory and
somewhat futile manner; and meanwhile though hostilities did not
actually cease, the campaign of 1633 was conducted in a half-hearted
fashion. The death of Isabel on November 29, 1633, shattered finally any
hopes that the peace party in the Provinces (for there was a strong
peace party) might have had of arriving at any satisfactory agreement.
By the decease of the arch-duchess, who had been a wise and beneficent
ruler and had commanded the respect and regard not only of her own
subjects but of many northerners also, the Belgic provinces reverted to
the crown of Spain and passed under the direct rule of Philip IV. The
Cardinal Infante Ferdinand, fresh from his crushing victory over the
Swedes at Nördlingen, came as governor to Brussels in 1634, at the head
of considerable Spanish forces, and an active renewal of the war in 1635
was clearly imminent.

In these circumstances Frederick Henry determined to enter into
negotiations with France for the conclusion of an offensive and
defensive alliance against Spain, the common enemy. He had many
difficulties to encounter. The Estates of Holland, though opposed to the
terms actually offered by the Brussels government, were also averse to
taking any step which shut the door upon hopes of peace. Richelieu on
his side, though ready, as before, to grant subsidies and to permit the
enrolment of French regiments for the Dutch service, shrank from
committing France to an open espousal of the Protestant side against the
Catholic powers. The stadholder, however, was not deterred by the
obstacles in his way; and the diplomatic skill and adroitness of
Aerssens, aided by his own tact and firmness of will, overcame the
scruples of Richelieu. The opposition of the Estates of Holland, without
whose consent no treaty could be ratified, was likewise surmounted.
Adrian Pauw, their leader, was despatched on a special embassy to Paris,
and in his absence his influence was undermined, and Jacob Cats was
appointed Council-Pensionary in his stead. In the spring of 1635 a firm
alliance was concluded between France and the United Provinces, by which
it was agreed that neither power should make peace without the consent
of the other, each meanwhile maintaining a field force of 25,000 foot
and 5000 horse and dividing conquests in the Southern Netherlands
between them. This treaty was made with the concurrence and strong
approval of the Swedish Chancellor, Oxenstierna, and was probably
decisive in its effect upon the final issue of the Thirty Years' War.

In the early spring of 1635, therefore, a French force entered the
Netherlands and, after defeating Prince Thomas of Savoy at Namur, joined
the Dutch army at Maestricht. Louis XIII had given instructions to the
French commanders, Châtillon and de Brézé, to place themselves under the
orders of the Prince of Orange; and Frederick Henry at the head of
32,000 foot and 9000 horse now entered the enemy's territory and
advanced to the neighbourhood of Louvain. Here however, owing to the
outbreak of disease among his troops, to lack of supplies and to
differences of opinion with his French colleagues, the prince determined
to retreat. His action was attended by serious results. His adversary,
the Cardinal Infante Ferdinand, was a wary and skilful general. He now
seized his opportunity, rapidly made himself master of Diest, Gennep,
Goch and Limburg, and took by surprise the important fort of Schenck at
the junction of the Waal and the Rhine. Vexed at the loss of a
stronghold which guarded two of the main waterways of the land, the
stadholder at once laid siege to Schenck. But the Spanish garrison held
out obstinately all through the winter and did not surrender until April
26,1636. The Dutch army had suffered much from exposure and sickness
during this long investment and was compelled to abstain for some months
from active operations. Ferdinand thereupon, as soon as he saw that
there was no immediate danger of an attack from the north, resolved to
avenge himself upon the French for the part they had taken in the
preceding year's campaign. Reinforced by a body of Imperialist troops
under Piccolomini he entered France and laid the country waste almost to
the gates of Paris. This bold stroke completely frustrated any plans
that the allies may have formed for combined action in the late summer.

The following year the States determined, somewhat against the wishes of
Frederick Henry, to send an expedition into Flanders for the capture of
Dunkirk. This was done at the instance of the French ambassador,
Charnacé, acting on the instructions of Richelieu, who promised the
assistance of 5000 French troops and undertook, should the town be
taken, to leave it in the possession of the Dutch. The stadholder
accordingly assembled (May 7) an army of 14,000 foot and a considerable
body of horse at Rammekens, where a fleet lay ready for their transport
to Flanders. Contrary winds, however, continued steadily to blow for
many weeks without affording any opportunity for putting to sea. At
last, wearied out with the long inaction and its attendant sickness
the prince (July 20) suddenly broke up his camp and marched upon Breda.
Spinola, after capturing Breda in 1625, had greatly strengthened its
defences; and now, with a garrison of 4000 men under a resolute
commander, it was held to be secure against any attack. The siege was a
repetition of those of Hertogenbosch and Maestricht. In vain did the
Cardinal Infante with a powerful force try to break through the lines of
circumvallation, which the prince had constructed with his usual skill.
Called away by a French invasion on the south, he had to leave Breda to
its fate. The town surrendered on October 10.

During the years 1637 and 1638 the ever-recurring dissensions between
the province of Holland and the Generality became acute once more. The
Provincial Estates insisted on their sovereign rights and refused to
acknowledge the authority of the States-General to impose taxes upon
them. This opposition of Holland was a great hindrance to the prince in
the conduct of the war, and caused him constant anxiety and worry. It
was impossible to plan or to carry out a campaign without adequate
provision being made for the payment and maintenance of the military and
naval forces, and this depended upon Holland's contribution. Amsterdam
was the chief offender. On one occasion a deputation sent to Amsterdam
from the States-General was simply flouted. The burgomaster refused to
summon the council together, and the members of the deputation had to
return without an audience. All the prince's efforts to induce the
contumacious city to consider his proposals in a reasonable and
patriotic spirit were of no avail; they were rejected insultingly. In
his indignation Frederick Henry is reported to have exclaimed, "I have
no greater enemy, but if only I could take Antwerp, it would bring them
to their senses."

The immense and growing prosperity of Amsterdam at this time was indeed
mainly due to the fall of Antwerp from its high estate. To reconquer
Antwerp had indeed long been a favourite project of Frederick Henry. In
1638 he made careful and ample preparations for its realisation. But it
was not to be. Misfortune this year was to dog his steps. The advance
was made in two bodies. The larger under the prince was to march
straight to Antwerp. The second, of 6000 men, commanded by Count William
of Nassau, was instructed to seize some outlying defences on the Scheldt
before joining the main force before the town. Count William began
well, but, hearing a false rumour that a fleet was sailing up the
Scheldt to intercept his communications, he hastily retreated. While his
ranks were in disorder he was surprised by a Spanish attack, and
practically his entire force was cut to pieces. On hearing of this
disaster the stadholder had no alternative but to abandon the siege.

Constant campaigning and exposure to the hardships of camp life year
after year began at this time seriously to affect the health of the
stadholder. He was much troubled by attacks of gout, which frequently
prevented him from taking his place in the field. In 1639 there were no
military events of importance; nevertheless this year was a memorable
one in the annals of the Dutch republic.

It was the year of the battle of the Downs. A great effort was made by
Spain to re-establish her naval supremacy in the narrow seas, and the
finest fleet that had left the harbours of the peninsula since 1588
arrived in the Channel in September, 1639. It consisted of seventy-seven
vessels carrying 24,000 men, sailors and soldiers, and was under the
command of an experienced and capable seaman, Admiral Oquendo. His
orders were to drive the Dutch fleet from the Channel and to land 10,000
men at Dunkirk as a reinforcement for the Cardinal Infante. Admiral
Tromp had been cruising up and down the Channel for some weeks on the
look-out for the Spaniards, and on September 16 he sighted the armada.
He had only thirteen vessels with him, the larger part of his fleet
having been detached to keep watch and ward over Dunkirk. With a
boldness, however, that might have been accounted temerity, Tromp at
once attacked the enemy and with such fury that the Spanish fleet sought
refuge under the lee of the Downs and anchored at the side of an English
squadron under Vice-Admiral Pennington. Rejoined by seventeen ships from
before Dunkirk, the Dutch admiral now contented himself with a vigilant
blockade, until further reinforcements could reach him. Such was the
respect with which he had inspired the Spaniards, that no attempt was
made to break the blockade; and in the meantime Tromp had sent urgent
messages to Holland asking the Prince of Orange and the admiralties to
strain every nerve to give him as many additional ships as possible. The
request met with a ready and enthusiastic response. In all the dockyards
work went on with relays of men night and day. In less than a month
Tromp found himself at the head of 105 sail with twelve fire-ships. They
were smaller ships than those of his adversary, but they were more
than enough to ensure victory. On October 21, after detaching
Vice-Admiral Witte de with 30 ships to watch Pennington's squadron,
Tromp bore down straight upon the Spanish fleet though they were lying
in English waters. Rarely has there been a naval triumph more complete.
Under cover of a fog Oquendo himself with seven vessels escaped to
Dunkirk; all the rest were sunk, burnt, or captured. It is said that
15,000 Spaniards perished. On the side of the Dutch only 100 men were
killed and wounded. The Spanish power at sea had suffered a blow from
which it never recovered.

Charles I was very angry on learning that English ships had been obliged
to watch the fleet of a friendly power destroyed in English waters
before their eyes. The king had inherited from his father a long series
of grievances against the Dutch; and, had he not been involved in
serious domestic difficulties, there would probably have been a
declaration of war. But Charles' finances did not permit him to take a
bold course, and he was also secretly irritated with the Spaniards for
having sought the hospitality of English waters (as written evidence
shows) without his knowledge and permission. Aerssens was sent to London
to smooth over the matter. He had no easy task, but by skill and
patience he contrived, in spite of many adverse influences at the
court, so to allay the bitter feelings that had been aroused by "the
scandal of the Downs" that Charles and his queen were willing, in the
early months of 1640, to discuss seriously the project of a marriage
between the stadholder's only son and one of the English princesses. In
January a special envoy, Jan van der Kerkoven, lord of Heenvlict, joined
Aerssens with a formal proposal for the hand of the princess royal; and
after somewhat difficult negotiations the marriage was at length
satisfactorily arranged. The ceremony took place in London, May 12,
1641. As William was but fifteen years of age and Mary, the princess
royal, only nine, the bridegroom returned to Holland alone, leaving the
child-bride for a time at Whitehall with her parents. The wedding took
place at an ominous time. Ten days after it was celebrated Strafford was
executed; and the dark shadow of the Great Rebellion was already hanging
over the ill-fated Charles. In the tragic story of the House of Stewart
that fills the next two decades there is perhaps no more pathetic figure
than that of Mary, the mother of William III. At the time this alliance
gave added lustre to the position of the Prince of Orange, both at
home and abroad, by uniting his family in close bonds of relationship
with the royal houses both of England and France.

In 1640, as the Spaniards remained on the defensive, the stadholder
entered Flanders and by a forced march attempted to seize Bruges. His
effort, however, was foiled, as was a later attempt to capture Hulst,
when Frederick Henry and the States sustained a great loss in the death
of the gallant Henry Casimir of Nassau, who was killed in a chance
skirmish at the age of 29 years. This regrettable event caused a vacancy
in the stadholderates of Friesland and Groningen with Drente. A number
of zealous adherents of the House of Orange were now anxious that
Frederick Henry should fill the vacant posts to the exclusion of his
cousin, William Frederick, younger brother of Henry Casimir. They urged
upon the prince, who was himself unwilling to supplant his relative,
that it was for the good of the State that there should be a unification
of authority in his person; and at last he expressed himself ready to
accept the offices, if elected. The result of the somewhat mean
intrigues that followed, in which Frederick Henry himself took no part,
gave a curious illustration of the extreme jealousy of the provinces
towards anything that they regarded as outside intrusion into their
affairs. The States-General ventured to recommend the Estates of
Friesland to appoint the Prince of Orange; the recommendation was
resented, and William Frederick became stadholder. The Frieslanders on
their part sent a deputation to Groningen in favour of William
Frederick, and Groningen-Drente elected the Prince of Orange. This
dispute caused an estrangement for a time between the two branches of
the House of Nassau, which was afterwards healed by the marriage of the
Friesland stadholder with Albertine Agnes, a daughter of Frederick
Henry. From this union the present royal family of Holland trace their
descent.

The military operations of the years 1641, 1642 and 1643 were dilatory
and featureless. Both sides were sick of the war and were content to
remain on the defensive. This was no doubt largely due to the fact that
in rapid succession death removed from the stage many of those who had
long played leading parts in the political history of the times.
Aerssens died shortly after his return from his successful mission to
England in the autumn of 1641; and almost at the same time the Cardinal
Infante Ferdinand, who during his tenure of the governor-generalship
had shown great capacity and prudence both as a statesman and as a
commander, expired. In 1642, after eighteen years of almost autocratic
rule, Richelieu passed away, his death (December 4, 1642) coming almost
half-way between those of his enemy, the intriguing Marie de' Medici
(July 3,1642), and that of her son, Louis XIII (May 18, 1643). Anne of
Austria, the sister of the King of Spain, became regent in France; but
this did not imply any change of policy with regard to the United
Provinces, for Cardinal Mazarin, who, through his influence over the
regent succeeded to the power of Richelieu, was a pupil in the school of
that great statesman and followed in his steps. Moreover, during this
same period the outbreak of civil war in England had for the time being
caused that country to be wholly absorbed in its own domestic concerns,
and it ceased to have any weight in the councils of western Europe. Thus
it came to pass that there was a kind of lull in the external affairs of
the United Provinces; and her statesmen were compelled to take fresh
stock of their position in the changed situation that had been created.

Not that this meant that these years were a time of less pressure and
anxiety to the Prince of Orange. His new relations with the English
royal family were a source of difficulty to him. Henrietta Maria (March,
1642) came to Holland, bringing with her the princess royal, and for a
whole year took up her residence at the Hague. She was received with
kindliness and courtesy not only by the stadholder and his family, but
by the people of Holland generally. Her presence, together with that of
the Queen of Bohemia, at the Princess of Orange's court gave to it quite
a regal dignity and splendour, which was particularly gratifying to
Amalia von Solms. But the English queen had other objects in view than
those of courtesy. She hoped not merely to enlist the sympathies of
Frederick Henry for the royal cause in the English civil war, but to
obtain through his help supplies of arms and munitions from Holland for
King Charles. But in this she did not succeed. The Parliament had sent
an envoy, William Strickland, to counteract the influence of Henrietta
Maria, and to represent to the States-General that it was fighting in
defence of the same principles which had led to the revolt against
Spain. The prince was far too prudent to allow his personal inclinations
to override his political judgment as a practical statesman. He knew
that public opinion in the United Provinces would never sanction in
any form active support of King Charles against his parliament, and he
did not attempt it. Intervention was confined to the despatch of an
embassy to England with instructions to mediate between the two
parties. When the unfortunate queen found that all her efforts on
behalf of King Charles were in vain, she determined to leave the safe
refuge where she had been so hospitably entertained and to return to
her husband's side. She sailed from Scheveningen on March 9, 1643, and
reached the royal camp at York in safety.

In the autumn of this year, 1643, two special envoys were sent by
Cardinal Mazarin to the Hague; and one of the results of their visit was
a renewal of the treaty of 1635 by which France and the United Provinces
had entered upon an offensive and defensive alliance and had agreed to
conclude no peace but by mutual consent. Nevertheless Frederick Henry,
whom long experience had made wary and far-sighted, had been growing for
some little time suspicious of the advantage to the republic of
furthering French aggrandisement in the southern Netherlands. He saw
that France was a waxing, Spain a waning power, and he had no desire to
see France in possession of territory bordering on the United Provinces.
This feeling on his part was possibly the cause of the somewhat
dilatory character of his military operations in 1641 and 1642. The
revolt of Portugal from Spain in December, 1640, had at first been
welcomed by the Dutch, but not for long. The great and successful
operations of the East and West India Companies had been chiefly carried
on at the expense of the Portuguese, not of the Spaniards. The great
obstacle to peace with Spain had been the concession of the right to
trade in the Indies. It was Portugal, rather than Spain, which now stood
in the way of the Dutch merchants obtaining that right, for the Spanish
government, in its eagerness to stamp out a rebellion which had spread
from the Peninsula to all the Portuguese colonies, was quite ready to
sacrifice these to secure Dutch neutrality in Europe. The dazzling
victory of the French under the young Duke of Enghien over a veteran
Spanish army at Rocroi (May, 1643) also had its effect upon the mind of
the prince. With prophetic foresight, he rightly dreaded a France too
decisively victorious. In the negotiations for a general peace between
all the contending powers in the Thirty Years' War, which dragged on
their slow length from 1643 to 1648, the stadholder became more and
more convinced that it was in the interest of the Dutch to maintain
Spain as a counterpoise to the growing power of France, and to secure
the favourable terms, which, in her extremity, Spain would be ready to
offer.

At first, however, there was no breach in the close relations with
France; and Frederick Henry, though hampered by ill-health, showed in
his last campaigns all his old skill in siege-craft. By the successive
captures of Hertogenbosch, Maestricht and Breda he had secured the
frontiers of the republic in the south and south-east. He now turned to
the north-west corner of Flanders. In 1644 he took the strongly
fortified post of Sas-van-Gent, situated on the Ley, the canalised river
connecting Ghent with the Scheldt. In 1645 he laid siege to and captured
the town of Hulst, and thus gained complete possession of the strip of
territory south of the Scheldt, known as the Land of Waes, which had
been protected by these two strongholds, and which has since been called
Dutch Flanders.

Very shortly after the capitulation of Hulst, the ambassadors
plenipotentiary of the United Provinces set out (November, 1645) to take
their places at the Congress of Münster on equal terms with the
representatives of the Emperor and of the Kings of France and Spain.
The position acquired by the Dutch republic among the powers of Europe
was thus officially recognised _de facto_ even before its independence
had been _de jure_ ratified by treaty. The parleyings at Münster made
slow headway, as so many thorny questions had to be settled. Meanwhile,
with the full approval of the prince, negotiations were being secretly
carried on between Madrid and the Hague with the view of arriving at a
separate understanding, in spite of the explicit terms of the treaty of
1635. As soon as the French became aware of what was going on, they
naturally protested and did their utmost to raise every difficulty to
prevent a treaty being concluded behind their backs. The old questions
which had proved such serious obstacles in the negotiations of 1607-9
were still sufficiently formidable. But the situation was very different
in 1646-7. The Spanish monarchy was actually _in extremis._ Portugal and
Catalonia were in revolt; a French army had crossed the Pyrenees; the
treasury was exhausted. Peace with the Dutch Republic was a necessity;
and, as has been already said, the vexed question about the Indies had
resolved itself rather into a Portuguese than a Spanish question. By a
recognition of the Dutch conquests in Brazil and in the Indian Ocean
they were acquiring an ally without losing anything that they had not
lost already by the Portuguese declaration of independence. But, as the
basis of an agreement was on the point of being reached, an event
happened which caused a delay in the proceedings.

The Prince of Orange, who had been long a martyr to the gout, became in
the autumn of 1646 hopelessly ill. He lingered on in continual suffering
for some months and died on March 14, 1647. Shortly before his death he
had the satisfaction of witnessing the marriage of his daughter Louise
Henrietta to Frederick William of Brandenburg, afterwards known as the
Great Elector. He was not, however, destined to see peace actually
concluded, though he ardently desired to do so. Frederick Henry could,
however, at any rate feel that his life-work had been thoroughly and
successfully accomplished. The services he rendered to his country
during his stadholderate of twenty-two years can scarcely be
over-estimated. It is a period of extraordinary prosperity and
distinction, which well deserves the title given to it by Dutch
historians--"the golden age of Frederick Henry." The body of the
stadholder was laid, amidst universal lamentation and with almost regal
pomp, besides those of his father and brother in the Nieuwe Kerk at
Delft.

The removal of a personality of such authority and influence at this
critical time was a dire misfortune, for there were many cross-currents
of policy in the different provinces and of divergence of interests
between the seafaring and merchant classes and other sections of the
population. Finally the skill and perseverance of the two leading Dutch
plenipotentiaries, Pauw and Van Knuyt, and of the Spanish envoys,
Peñaranda and Brun, brought the negotiations to a successful issue. The
assent of all the provinces was necessary, and for a time Utrecht and
Zeeland were obstinately refractory, but at length their opposition was
overcome; and on January 30,1648, the treaty of Münster was duly
signed. Great rejoicings throughout the land celebrated the end of the
War of Independence, which had lasted for eighty years. Thus, in spite
of the solemn engagement made with France, a separate peace was
concluded with Spain and in the interests of the United Provinces. Their
course of action was beyond doubt politically wise and defensible, but,
as might be expected, it left behind it a feeling of soreness, for the
French naturally regarded it as a breach of faith. The treaty of
Münster consisted of 79 articles, the most important of which were:
the King of Spain recognised the United Provinces as free and
independent lands; the States-General kept all their conquests in
Brabant, Limburg and Flanders, the so-called Generality lands; also
their conquests in Brazil and the East Indies made at the expense of
Portugal; freedom of trading both in the East and West Indies was
conceded; the Scheldt was declared closed, thus shutting out Antwerp
from access to the sea; to the House of Orange all its confiscated
property was restored; and lastly a treaty of trade and navigation with
Spain was negotiated. On all points the Dutch obtained all and more than
all they could have hoped for.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XI

THE EAST AND WEST INDIA COMPANIES. COMMERCIAL AND ECONOMIC EXPANSION


An account of the foundation, constitution and early efforts of the
Dutch East India Company has been already given. The date of its charter
(March 20, 1602) was later than that of its English rival (Dec. 31,
1600), but in reality the Dutch were the first in the field, as there
were several small companies in existence and competing with one another
in the decade previous to the granting of the charter, which without
extinguishing these companies incorporated them by the name of chambers
under a common management, the Council of Seventeen. The four chambers
however--Amsterdam, Zeeland, the Maas (Rotterdam and Delft) and the
North Quarter (Enkhuizen and Hoorn)--though separately administered and
with different spheres, became gradually more and more unified by the
growing power of control exercised by the Seventeen. This was partly due
to the dominating position of the single Chamber of Amsterdam, which
held half the shares and appointed eight members of the council. The
erection of such a company, with its monopoly of trade and its great
privileges including the right of maintaining fleets and armed forces,
of concluding treaties and of erecting forts, was nothing less than the
creation of an _imperium in imperio_; and it may be said to have
furnished the model on which all the great chartered companies of later
times have been formed. The English East India Company was, by the side
of its Dutch contemporary, almost insignificant; with its invested
capital of £30,000 it was in no position to struggle successfully
against a competitor which started with subscribed funds amounting to
£540,000.

The conquest of Portugal by Spain had spelt ruin to that unhappy country
and to its widespread colonial empire and extensive commerce. Before
1581 Lisbon had been a great centre of the Dutch carrying-trade; and
many Netherlanders had taken service in Portuguese vessels and were
familiar with the routes both to the East Indies and to Brazil. It was
the closing of the port of Lisbon to Dutch vessels that led the
enterprising merchants of Amsterdam and Middelburg to look further
afield. In the early years of the seventeenth century a large number of
expeditions left the Dutch harbours for the Indian Ocean and made great
profits; and very large dividends were paid to the shareholders of the
company. How far these represented the actual gain it is difficult to
discover, for the accounts were kept in different sets of ledgers; and
it is strongly suspected that the size of the dividends may, at times
when enhanced credit was necessary for the raising of loans, have been
to some extent fictitious. For the enterprise, which began as a trading
concern, speedily developed into the creation of an empire overseas, and
this meant an immense expenditure.

The Malay Archipelago was the chief scene of early activity, and more
especially the Moluccas. Treaties were made with the native chiefs; and
factories defended by forts were established at Tidor, Ternate,
Amboina, Banda and other places. The victories of Cornelis Matelief
established that supremacy of the Dutch arms in these eastern waters
which they were to maintain for many years. With the conclusion of the
truce the necessity of placing the general control of so many scattered
forts and trading posts in the hands of one supreme official led, in
1609, to the appointment of a governor-general by the Seventeen with the
assent of the States-General. The governor-general held office for five
years, and he was assisted by a council, the first member of which,
under the title of director-general, was in reality minister of
commerce. Under him were at first seven (afterwards eight) local
governors. These functionaries, though exercising considerable powers in
their respective districts, were in all matters of high policy entirely
subordinate to the governor-general. The first holders of the office
were all men who had risen to that position by proving themselves to
possess energy and enterprise, and being compelled by the distance from
home to act promptly on their own initiative, were practically endowed
with autocratic authority. In consequence of this the Dutch empire in
the East became in their hands rapidly extended and consolidated, to the
exclusion of all competitors. This meant not only that the Portuguese
and Spaniards were ousted from their formerly dominant position in the
Orient, but that a collision with the English was inevitable.

The first governor-general, Pieter Both, had made Java the centre of
administration and had established factories and posts at Bantam,
Jacatra and Djapara, not without arousing considerable hostility among
the local rulers, jealous of the presence of the intruders. This
hostility was fostered and encouraged by the English, whose vessels had
also visited Java and had erected a trading-post close to that of the
Dutch at Jacatra. Already the spice islands had been the scene of
hostile encounters between the representatives of the two nations, and
had led to many altercations. This was the state of things when Jan
Pieterzoon Koen became governor-general in 1615. This determined man,
whose experience in the East Indies was of long date, and who had
already served as director-general, came into his new office with an
intense prejudice against the English, and with a firm resolve to put an
end to what he described as their treachery and intrigues. "Were they
masters," he wrote home, "the Dutch would quickly be out of the Indies,
but praise be to the Lord, who has provided otherwise. They are an
unendurable nation." With this object he strongly fortified the factory
near Jacatra, thereby arousing the hostility of the _Pangeran_, as the
native ruler was styled. The English in their neighbouring post also
began to erect defences and to encourage the _Pangeran_ in his hostile
attitude. Koen thereupon fell upon the English and destroyed and burnt
their factory, and finding that there was a strong English fleet under
Sir Thomas Dale in the neighbourhood, he sailed to the Moluccas in
search of reinforcements, leaving Pieter van der Broeck in command at
the factory. The _Pangeran_ now feigned friendship, and having enticed
Broeck to a conference, made him prisoner and attacked the Dutch
stronghold. The garrison however held out until the governor-general
returned with a strong force. With this he stormed and destroyed the
town of Jacatra and on its site erected a new town, as the seat of the
company's government, to which the name Batavia was given. From this
time the Dutch had no rivalry to fear in Java. The conquest of the whole
island was only a question of time, and the "pearl of the Malay
Archipelago" has from 1620 to the present been the richest and most
valuable of all the Dutch colonial possessions. Koen was planning to
follow up his success by driving the English likewise from the Moluccas,
when he heard that the home government had concluded a treaty which tied
his hands.

The position in the Moluccas had for some years been one of continual
bickering and strife; the chief scene being in the little group known as
the Banda islands. The lucrative spice-trade tempted both companies to
establish themselves by building forts; and the names of Amboina and
Pulo Rum were for many years to embitter the relations of the two
peoples. Meanwhile the whole subject of those relations had been in 1619
discussed at London by a special embassy sent nominally to thank King
James for the part he had taken in bringing the Synod of Dort to a
successful termination of its labours, but in reality to settle several
threatening trade disputes. Almost the only result of the prolonged
conferences was an agreement (June 2, 1619) by which the East India
Companies were for twenty years to be virtually amalgamated. The English
were to have half the pepper crop in Java and one-third of the spices in
the Moluccas, Amboina and the Banda islands. Forts and posts were to
remain in their present hands, but there was to be a joint council for
defence, four members from each company, the president to be appointed
alternately month by month. Such a scheme was a paper scheme, devised
by those who had no personal acquaintance with the actual situation.
There was no similarity between a great military and naval organisation
like the Dutch Company and a body of traders like the English, whose
capital was small, and who were entirely dependent on the political
vagaries of an impecunious sovereign, whose dearest wish at the time was
to cultivate close relations with the very power in defiance of whose
prohibition the East India Company's trade was carried on. The agreement
received indeed a fresh sanction at another conference held in London
(1622-23), but it never was a working arrangement. The bitter
ill-feeling that had arisen between the Dutch and English traders was
not to be allayed by the diplomatic subterfuge of crying peace when
there was no peace. Events were speedily to prove that this was so.

The trade in spices had proved the most lucrative of all, and measures
had been taken to prevent any undue lowering of the price by a glut in
the market. The quantity of spices grown was carefully regulated,
suitable spots being selected, and the trees elsewhere destroyed. Thus
cloves were specially cultivated at Amboina; nutmegs in the Banda
islands. Into this strictly guarded monopoly, from which the English had
been expelled by the energy of Koen, they were now by the new treaty to
be admitted to a share.

It was only with difficulty that the Dutch were induced to acquiesce
sullenly in the presence of the intruders. A fatal collision took place
almost immediately after the convention between the Companies, about the
trade in the spice islands, had been renewed in London, 1622-3.

In 1623 Koen was succeeded, as governor-general, by Pieter Carpentier,
whose name is still perpetuated by the Gulf of Carpentaria on the north
of Australia. At this time of transition the Governor of Amboina, Van
Speult, professed to have discovered a conspiracy of the English
settlers, headed by Gabriel Towerson, to make themselves masters of the
Dutch fort. Eighteen Englishmen were seized, and though there was no
evidence against them, except what was extorted by torture and
afterwards solemnly denied, twelve, including Towerson, were executed.
Carpentier admitted that the proceedings were irregular, and they were
in any case unnecessary, for a despatch recalling Towerson was on its
way to Amboina. It was a barbarous and cruel act; and when the news of
the "massacre of Amboina," as it was called, reached England, there was
loud indignation and demands for redress. But the quarrel with Spain
over the marriage of the Prince of Wales had driven James I at the very
end of his life, and Charles I on his accession, to seek the support of
the United Provinces. By the treaty of Southampton, September 17, 1625,
an offensive and defensive alliance was concluded with the
States-General; and Charles contented himself with a demand that the
States should within eighteen months bring to justice those who were
responsible "for the bloody butchery on our subjects." However, Carleton
again pressed for the punishment of the perpetrators of "the foule and
bloody act" of Amboina. The Dutch replied with evasive promises, which
they never attempted to carry out; and Charles' disastrous war with
France and his breach with his parliament effectually prevented him from
taking steps to exact reparation. But Amboina was not forgotten; the
sore rankled and was one of the causes that moved Cromwell to war in
1654.

The activity of the Dutch in eastern waters was, however, by no means
confined to Java, their seat of government, or to the Moluccas and Banda
islands with their precious spices. Many trading posts were erected on
the large islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Trading relations were opened
with Siam from 1613 onwards. In 1623 a force under Willem Bontekoe was
sent by Koen to Formosa. The island was conquered and a governor
appointed with his residence at Fort Zelandia. Already under the first
governor-general, Pieter Both, permission was obtained from the Shogun
for the Dutch, under close restrictions, to trade with Japan, a
permission which was still continued, after the expulsion of the
Portuguese and the bloody persecution of the Christian converts
(1637-42), though under somewhat humiliating conditions. But, with the
Dutch, trade was trade, and under the able conduct of Francis Caron it
became of thriving proportions. During the next century no other
Europeans had any access to the Japanese market except the agents of the
Dutch East India Company.

Among the governors-general of this early period the name of Antony van
Diemen (1636-45) deserves special recognition. If Koen laid the firm
foundations of Dutch rule in the East, Van Diemen built wisely and ably
on the work of Koen. Carpentier's rule had been noteworthy for several
voyages of discovery along the coasts of New Guinea and of the adjoining
shore of Australia, but the spirit of exploration reached its height in
the days of Van Diemen. The north and north-west of Australia being to
some extent already known, Abel Tasman was despatched by Van Diemen to
find out, if possible, how far southward the land extended. Sailing in
October, 1642, from Mauritius, he skirted portions of the coast of what
is now Victoria and New South Wales and discovered the island which he
named after his patron Van Diemen's land, but which is now very
appropriately known as Tasmania. Pressing on he reached New Zealand,
which still bears the name that he gave to it, and sailed through the
strait between the northern and southern islands, now Cook's strait. In
the course of this great voyage he next discovered the Friendly or Tonga
islands and the Fiji archipelago. He reached Batavia in June, 1643, and
in the following year he visited again the north of Australia and
voyaged right round the Gulf of Carpentaria. Even in a modern map of
Australia Dutch names will be found scattered round certain portions of
the coast of the island-continent, recording still, historically, the
names of the early Dutch explorers, their patrons, ships and homes.
Along the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria may be seen Van Diemen
river, gulf and cape; Abel Tasman, Van Alphen, Nassau and Staten rivers;
capes Arnhem, Caron and Maria (after Francis Caron and Maria van
Diemen) and Groote Eylandt. In Tasmania, with many other names, may be
found Frederick Henry bay and cape, Tasman's peninsula and Tasman's head
and Maria island; while the wife of the governor-general is again
commemorated, the northernmost point of New Zealand bearing the name of
Maria van Diemen cape.

To Van Diemen belongs the credit of giving to the Dutch their first
footing (1638) in the rich island of Ceylon, by concluding a treaty with
the native prince of Kandy. The Portuguese still possessed forts at
Colombo, Galle, Negumbo and other places, but Galle and Negumbo were now
taken by the Dutch, and gradually the whole island passed into their
hands and became for a century and a half their richest possession in
the East, next to Java. On the Coromandel coast posts were also early
established, and trade relations opened up with the Persians and Arabs.
At the time when the Treaty of Münster gave to the United Provinces the
legal title to that independence for which they had so long fought, and
conceded to them the freedom to trade in the Indies, that trade was
already theirs, safe-guarded by the fleets, the forts and the armed
forces of the chartered company. The governor-general at Batavia had
become a powerful potentate in the Eastern seas; and a succession of
bold and able men, by a policy at once prudent and aggressive, had in
the course of a few decades organised a colonial empire. It was a
remarkable achievement for so small a country as the United Provinces,
and it was destined to have a prolonged life. The voyage round by the
cape was long and hazardous, so Van Diemen in 1638 caused the island of
Mauritius to be occupied as a refitting station; and in 1652 one of his
successors (Reinierz) sent a body of colonists under Jan van Riebeck to
form a settlement, which should be a harbour of refuge beneath the Table
mountain at the Cape itself. This was the beginning of the Cape colony.

Quite as interesting, and even more exciting, was the history of Dutch
enterprise in other seas during this eventful period. The granting of
the East India Company's charter led a certain Willem Usselincx to come
forward as an earnest and persistent advocate for the formation of a
West India Company on the same lines. But Oldenbarneveldt, anxious to
negotiate a peace or truce with Spain and to maintain good relations
with that power, refused to lend any countenance to his proposals,
either before or after the truce was concluded. He could not, however,
restrain the spirit of enterprise that with increasing prosperity was
abroad in Holland. The formation of the Northern or Greenland Company in
1613, specially created in order to contest the claims of the English
Muscovy Company to exclusive rights in the whale fishery off
Spitsbergen, led to those violent disputes between the fishermen of the
two countries, of which an account has been given. The granting of a
charter to the Company of New Netherland (1614) was a fresh departure.
The voyage of Henry Hudson in the Dutch service when, in 1610, he
explored the coast of North America and sailed up the river called by
his name, led certain Amsterdam and Hoorn merchants to plan a settlement
near this river; and they secured a charter giving them exclusive rights
from Chesapeake bay to Newfoundland. The result was the founding of the
colony of New Netherland, with New Amsterdam on Manhattan island as its
capital. This settlement was at first small and insignificant, but,
being placed midway between the English colonies on that same coast, it
added one more to the many questions of dispute between the two
sea-powers.

Willem Usselincx had all this time continued his agitation for the
erection of a West India Company; and at last, with the renewal of the
war with Spain in 1621, his efforts were rewarded. The charter granted
by the States-General (June 3, 1621) gave to the company for twenty-four
years the monopoly of navigation and trade to the coast-lands of America
and the West Indies from the south-end of Newfoundland to the Straits of
Magellan and to the coasts and lands of Africa from the tropic of Cancer
to the Cape of Good Hope. The governing body consisted of nineteen
representatives, the Nineteen. The States-General contributed to the
capital 1,000,000 fl., on half of which only they were to receive
dividends. They also undertook in time of war to furnish sixteen ships
and four yachts, the company being bound to supply a like number. The
West India Company from the first was intended to be an instrument of
war. Its aims were buccaneering rather than commerce. There was no
secret about its object; it was openly proclaimed. Its historian De Laet
(himself a director) wrote, "There is no surer means of bringing our
Enemy at last to reason, than to infest him with attacks everywhere in
America and to stop the fountain-head of his best finances." After some
tentative efforts, it was resolved to send out an expedition in great
force; but the question arose, where best to strike? By the advice of
Usselincx and others acquainted with the condition of the defences of
the towns upon the American coast, Bahia, the capital of the Portuguese
colony of Brazil, was selected, as specially vulnerable. Thus in the
West, as in the East, Portugal was to suffer for her unwilling
subjection to the crown of Castile.

The consent of the States-General and of the stadholder being obtained,
some months were spent in making preparations on an adequate scale. The
fleet, which consisted of twenty-three ships of war with four yachts,
armed with 500 pieces of ordnance, and carrying in addition to the crews
a force of 1700 troops, sailed in two contingents, December, 1623, and
January, 1624. Jacob Willekens was the admiral-in-chief, with Piet Hein
as his vice-admiral. Colonel Jan van Dorth, lord of Horst, was to
conduct the land operations and to be the governor of the town, when its
conquest was achieved. On May 9 the fleet sailed into the Bay of All
Saints (_Bahia de todos os Santos_) and proceeded to disembark the
troops on a sandy beach a little to the east of the city of San
Salvador, commonly known as Bahia. It was strongly situated on heights
rising sheer from the water; and, as news of the Dutch preparations had
reached Lisbon and Madrid, its fortifications had been repaired and its
garrison strengthened. In front of the lower town below the cliffs was a
rocky island, and on this and on the shore were forts well provided with
batteries, and under their lee were fifteen ships of war. On May 10 Piet
Hein was sent with five vessels to contain the enemy's fleet and cover
the landing of the military forces. But Hein, far from being content
with a passive role, attacked the Portuguese, burnt or captured all
their ships and then, embarking his men in launches, stormed the
defences of the island and spiked the guns. Meanwhile the troops had,
without opposition, occupied a Benedictine convent on the heights
opposite the town. But the daring of Piet Hein had caused a panic to
seize the garrison. Despite the efforts of the governor, Diogo de
Mendoça Furdado, there was a general exodus in the night, both of the
soldiery and the inhabitants. When morning came the Dutch marched into
the undefended town, the governor and his son, who had refused to desert
their posts, being taken prisoners. They, with much booty, were at once
sent to Holland as a proof of the completeness of the victory. Events,
however, were to prove that it is easier for an expeditionary force to
capture a town at such a distance from the home-base of supplies, than
to retain it.

Governor Van Dorth had scarcely entered upon his duties when he fell
into an ambush of native levies near San Salvador and was killed. His
successor, Willem Schouten, was incompetent and dissolute; and, when the
fleet set sail on its homeward voyage at the end of July, the garrison
soon found itself practically besieged by bodies of Portuguese troops
with Indian auxiliaries, who occupied the neighbouring woods and stopped
supplies. Meanwhile the news of the capture of San Salvador reached
Madrid and Lisbon; and Spaniards and Portuguese vied with one another in
their eagerness to equip a great expedition to expel the invaders. It
was truly a mighty armada which set sail, under the supreme command of
Don Fadrique de Toledo, from the Iberian ports at the beginning of 1625,
for it consisted of fifty ships with five caravels and four pinnaces,
carrying 12,566 men and 1185 guns. On Easter Eve (March 29) the fleet
entered All Saints' Bay in the form of a vast crescent measuring six
leagues from tip to tip. The Dutch garrison of 2300 men, being strongly
fortified, resisted for a month but, shut in by sea and by land and
badly led, they capitulated on April 28, on condition that they were
sent back to Holland.

That the brilliant success of 1624 was thus so soon turned into disaster
was in no way due to the supineness of the home authorities. The
Nineteen were in no way surprised to hear of great preparations being
made by the King of Spain to retake the town, and they on their part
were determined to maintain their conquest by meeting force with force.
Straining all their resources, three squadrons were equipped; the first
two, numbering thirty-two ships and nine yachts, were destined for
Brazil; the third, a small flying squadron of seven vessels, was
despatched early to watch the Spanish ports. The general-in-chief of the
Brazilian expedition was Boudewyn Hendrikszoon. Driven back by a
succession of storms, it was not until April 17, 1625, that the fleet
was able to leave the Channel and put out to sea. The voyage was a rapid
one and on May 23, Hendrikszoon sailed into the bay in battle order,
only to see the Spanish flag waving over San Salvador and the mighty
fleet of Admiral Toledo drawn up under the protection of its batteries.
Hendrikszoon sailed slowly past the Spaniards, who did not stir, and
perceiving that it would be madness to attack a superior force in such
a position he reluctantly gave orders to withdraw. On the homeward
journey by the West Indies a number of rich prizes were made, but
sickness made great ravages among the crews, and counted Hendrikszoon
himself among its victims.

The events of the following year seem to show that with audacity he
might have at least inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. For in 1626 the
directors, ignorant of his failure, sent out a reinforcement of nine
ships and five yachts under the command of the redoubtable Piet Hein.
Hein sailed on May 21 for the West Indies, where he learnt that
Hendrikszoon was dead and that the remnant of his expedition had
returned after a fruitless voyage of misadventure. Hein however was not
the man to turn back. He determined to try what he could effect at Bahia
by a surprise attack. He reached the entrance to the bay on March 1,
1627, but was unluckily becalmed; and the Portuguese were warned of his
presence. On arriving before San Salvador he found thirty ships drawn up
close to the land; sixteen of these were large and armed, and four were
galleons with a considerable number of troops on board. The Dutch
admiral with great daring determined to attack them by sailing between
them and the shore, making it difficult for the guns on shore to fire on
him without injury to their own ships. It was a hazardous stroke, for
the passage was narrow, but entirely successful. One of the four
galleons, carrying the admiral's flag, was sunk, the other three struck.
Taking to their launches, the Dutchmen now fiercely assailed the other
vessels, and in a very short time were masters of twenty-two prizes. It
was a difficult task to carry them off at the ebb-tide, and it was not
achieved without loss. Hein's own ship, the _Amsterdam,_ grounded and
had to be burnt, and another ship by some mischance blew up. The total
loss, except through the explosion, was exceedingly small. The captured
vessels contained 2700 chests of sugar, besides a quantity of cotton,
hides and tobacco. The booty was stored in the four largest ships and
sent to Holland; the rest were burnt.

Hein now made a raid down the coast as far as Rio de Janeiro and then
returned. The "Sea Terror of Delft" for some weeks after this remained
in unchallenged mastery of the bay, picking up prizes when the
opportunity offered. Then he sailed by the West Indies homewards and
reached Dutch waters on October 31, 1627, having during this expedition
captured no less than fifty-five enemy vessels. The value of the booty
was sufficient to repay the company for their great outlay, and it was
wisely used in the equipment of fresh fleets for the following year.

This next year, 1628, was indeed an _annus mirabilis_ in the records of
the Dutch West India Company. On January 24 two fleets put to sea, one
under Dirk Simonsz Uitgeest for the coast of Brazil; another under
Pieter Adriansz Ita for the West Indies. Both were successful and came
back laden with spoil. It was reserved, however, for the expedition
under Piet Hein to make all other successes seem small. This fleet,
consisting of thirty-one ships of war, left Holland at the end of May
for the West Indies with instructions to lie in wait for the Spanish
Treasure Fleet. Many attempts had been made in previous years to
intercept the galleons, which year by year carried the riches of Mexico
and Peru to Spain, but they had always failed. After some weeks of
weary cruising, Piet Hein, when off the coast of Cuba, was rewarded
(September 8) by the sight of the Spanish fleet approaching, and at once
bore down upon them. After a sharp conflict, the Spaniards took refuge
in the bay of Matanzas and, running the galleons into shoal-water, tried
to convey the rich cargoes on shore. It was in vain. The Dutch sailors,
taking to their boats, boarded the galleons and compelled them to
surrender. The spoil was of enormous value, comprising 177,537 lbs. of
silver, 135 lbs. of gold, 37,375 hides, 2270 chests of indigo, besides
cochineal, logwood, sugar, spices and precious stones. It brought
11,509,524 fl. into the coffers of the company, and a dividend of 50 per
cent, was paid to the shareholders. It was a wrong policy thus to deal
with the results of a stroke of good fortune not likely to be repeated.
This year was, however, to be a lucky year unto the end. A fourth
expedition under Adrian Jansz Pater which left on August 15 for the
Caribbean sea, sailed up the Orinoco and destroyed the town of San Thomé
de Guiana, the chief Spanish settlement in those parts. All this, it may
be said, partook of the character of buccaneering, nevertheless these
were shrewd blows struck at the very source from whence the Spanish
power obtained means for carrying on the war. The West India Company was
fulfilling triumphantly one of the chief purposes for which it was
created, and was threatening Philip IV with financial ruin.

The successes of 1628 had the effect of encouraging the directors to try
to retrieve the failure at Bahia by conquest elsewhere.


Olinda, on the coast of Pernambuco, was selected as the new objective.
An expeditionary force of exceptional strength was got ready; and, as
Piet Hein, at the very height of his fame, unfortunately lost his life
in the spring of 1629 in an encounter with the Dunkirk pirates, Hendrik
Cornelisz Lonck, who had served as vice-admiral under Hein at Matanzas
bay, was made admiral-in-chief, with Jonckheer Diederik van Waerdenburgh
in command of the military forces. A considerable delay was caused by
the critical position of the United Provinces when invaded by the
Spanish-Imperialist armies at the time of the siege of Hertogenbosch,
but the capture of that fortress enabled the last contingents to sail
towards the end of the year; and Lonck was able to collect his whole
force at St Vincent, one of the Canary islands, on Christmas Day to
start on their voyage across the Atlantic. That force consisted of
fifty-two ships and yachts and thirteen sloops, carrying 3780 sailors
and 3500 soldiers, and mounting 1170 guns. Adverse weather prevented the
arrival of the fleet in the offing of Olinda until February 13. Along
the coast of Pernambuco runs a continuous reef of rock with narrow
openings at irregular intervals, forming a barrier against attack from
the sea. Olinda, the capital of the provinces, was built on a hill a
short distance inland, having as its port a village known as Povo or the
Reciff, lying on a spit of sand between the mouths of the rivers
Biberibi and Capibaribi. There was a passage through the rocky reef
northwards about two leagues above Olinda and three others southwards
(only one of which, the _Barra_, was navigable for large ships) giving
access to a sheet of water of some 18 ft. in depth between the reef and
the spit of sand, and forming a commodious harbour, the Pozo.

The problem before the Dutch commander was a difficult one, for news of
the expedition had reached Madrid; and Matthias de Albuquerque, brother
of "the proprietor" of Pernambuco, Duarte de Albuquerque, a man of great
energy and powers of leadership, had arrived in October to put Olinda
and the Reciff into a state of defence. Two forts strongly garrisoned
and armed, San Francisco and San Jorge, defended the entrances through
the reef and the neck of the spit of sand; sixteen ships chained
together and filled with combustibles barred access to the harbour; and
the village of the Reciff was surrounded by entrenchments. Within the
fortifications of Olinda, Albuquerque held himself in readiness to
oppose any body of the enemy that should effect a landing above the
town. Lonck, after consultation with Waerdenburgh, determined to make
with the main body of the fleet under his own command an attempt to
force the entrances to the Pozo, while Waerdenburgh, with the bulk of
the military contingent on sixteen ships, sailed northwards to find some
spot suitable for disembarkation.

The naval attack was made on February 15, but was unavailing. All the
efforts of the Dutch to make their way through any of the entrances to
the Pozo, though renewed again and again with the utmost bravery, were
beaten off. In the evening Lonck withdrew his ships. He had learnt by an
experience, to which history scarcely offers an exception, that a naval
attack unsupported by military co-operation against land defences
cannot succeed. But Waerdenburgh had used the opportunity, while the
enemy's attention was directed to the repelling of the assault on the
Reciff, to land his army without opposition. At dawn the Dutch general
advanced and, after forcing the crossing of the river Doce in the teeth
of the resistance of a body of irregular troops led by Albuquerque in
person, marched straight on Olinda. There was no serious resistance. The
fortifications were carried by storm and the town fell into the hands of
Waerdenburgh. The garrison and almost all the inhabitants fled into the
neighbouring forest.

Aware of the fact that the occupation of Olinda was useless without a
harbour as a base of supplies, it was resolved at once with the aid of
the fleet to lay siege to the forts of San Francisco and San Jorge.
Despite obstinate resistance, first San Jorge, then San Francisco
surrendered; and on March 3 the fleet sailed through the Barra, and the
Reciff with the island of Antonio Vaz behind it was occupied by the
Dutch. No sooner was the conquest made than steps were taken for its
administration. A welcome reinforcement arrived from Holland on March
11, having on board three representatives sent by the Nineteen, who were
to form with Waerdenburgh, appointed governor, an administrative
council, or Court of Policy. The Reciff, rather than Olinda, was
selected as the seat of government, and forts were erected for its
defence. The position, however, was perilous in the extreme.
Albuquerque, who was well acquainted with the country and skilled in
guerrilla warfare, formed an entrenched camp to which he gave the name
of the _Arreyal de Bom Jesus_, a position defended by marshes and thick
woods. From this centre, by the aid of large numbers of friendly
Indians, he was able to cut off all supplies of fresh water, meat or
vegetables from reaching the Dutch garrison. They had to depend for the
necessaries of life upon stores sent to them in relief fleets from
Holland. It was a strange and grim struggle of endurance, in which both
Dutch and Portuguese suffered terribly, the one on the barren sea-shore,
the other in the pathless woods under the glare of a tropical sun, both
alike looking eagerly for succour from the Motherland. The Dutch
succours were the first to arrive. The first detachment under Marten
Thijssen reached the Reciff on December 18, 1630; the main fleet under
Adrian Jansz Pater on April 14, 1631. The whole fleet consisted of
sixteen ships and yachts manned by 1270 sailors and 860 soldiers. Their
arrival was the signal for offensive operations. An expedition under
Thijssen's command sailed on April 22 for the large island of Itamaraca
about fifteen miles to the north of the Reciff. It was successful.
Itamaraca was occupied and garrisoned, and thus a second and
advantageous post established on the Brazilian coast.

Meanwhile the Spanish government had not been idle. After many delays a
powerful fleet set sail from Lisbon on May 5 for Pernambuco, consisting
of fifteen Spanish and five Portuguese ships and carrying a large
military force, partly destined for Bahia, but principally as a
reinforcement for Matthias de Albuquerque. The expedition was commanded
by Admiral Antonio de Oquendo, and was accompanied by Duarte de
Albuquerque, the proprietor of Pernambuco. After landing troops and
munitions at Bahia, the Spaniards wasted several weeks before starting
again to accomplish the main object of blockading the Dutch in the
Reciff and compelling their surrender by famine. But Pater had learnt by
his scouts of the presence of Oquendo at Bahia, and though his force was
far inferior he determined to meet the hostile armada at sea. The
Spanish fleet was sighted at early dawn on September 12, and Pater at
once gave orders to attack. His fleet consisted of sixteen ships and
yachts, that of the enemy of twenty galleons and sixteen caravels. The
Dutch admiral had formed his fleet in two lines, himself in the _Prins
Willem_ and Vice-Admiral Thijssen in the _Vereenigte Provintien_ being
the leaders. On this occasion the sight of the great numbers and size of
the Spanish galleons caused a great part of the Dutch captains to lose
heart and hang back. Pater and Thijssen, followed by only two ships,
bore down however on the Spaniards. _The Prins Willem_ with the
_Walcheren_ in attendance laid herself alongside the _St Jago_, flying
the flag of Admiral Oquendo; the _Vereenigte Provintien_ with the
_Provintie van Utrecht_ in its wake drew up to the _St Antonio de
Padua_, the ship of Vice-Admiral Francisco de Vallecilla. For six hours
the duel between the _Prins Willem_ and the _St Jago_ went on with
fierce desperation, the captain of the _Walcheren_ gallantly holding at
bay the galleons who attempted to come to the rescue of Oquendo.
At 4 p.m. the _St Jago_ was a floating wreck with only a remnant of
her crew surviving, when suddenly a fire broke out in the _Prins
Willem_, which nothing could check. With difficulty the _St Jago_ drew
off and, finding that his vessel was lost, Pater, refusing to
surrender, wrapped the flag round his body and threw himself into the
sea. Meanwhile success had attended Thijssen. The lagging Dutch ships
coming up gradually threatened the convoy of Spanish transports and
drew off many of the galleons for their protection. The _Provintie van
Utrecht_ indeed, like the _Prins Willem_, caught fire and was burnt to
the water's edge; but the vice-admiral himself sank the _St Antonio de
Padua_ and another galleon that came to Vallecilla's help, and
captured a third. It was a bloody and apparently indecisive fight, but
the Dutch enjoyed the fruits of victory. Oquendo made no attempt to
capture the Reciff and Olinda, but, after landing the troops he
convoyed at a favourable spot, sailed northwards, followed by
Thijssen.

But though relieved the position was still very serious. Albuquerque,
now considerably reinforced from his impregnable post at the _Arreyal de
Bom Jesus_, cut off all intercourse inland. The Dutch even abandoned
Olinda and concentrated themselves at the Reciff, where they remained as
a besieged force entirely dependent upon supplies sent from Holland.
Several expeditions were despatched with the hope of seizing other
positions on the coast, but all of them proved failures; and, when
Waerdenburgh returned home in 1633, having reached the end of his three
years' service as governor, all that could be said was that the Dutch
had retained their foothold on the coast of Pernambuco, but at vast cost
to the company in men, vessels and treasure, and without any apparent
prospect for the future. But pertinacity was to be rewarded. For the
period of success that followed special histories must be consulted. In
the year following the return of Waerdenburgh the efforts of the Dutch
authorities to extend their possessions along the coast at the various
river mouths were steadily successful; and with the advent of Joan
Maurice of Nassau to the governorship, in 1637, the dream of a Dutch
empire in Brazil seemed to be on the point of realisation. This cousin
of the Prince of Orange was endowed with brilliant qualities, and during
the seven years of his governorship he extended the Dutch dominion from
the Rio Grande in the south to the island of Maranhão on the north and
to a considerable distance inland, indeed over the larger part of seven
out of the fourteen captaincies into which Portuguese Brazil was
divided. On his arrival, by a wise policy of statesmanlike conciliation,
he contrived to secure the goodwill of the Portuguese planters, who,
though not loving the Dutch heretics, hated them less than their Spanish
oppressors, and also of the Jews, who were numerous in the conquered
territory. Under his rule the Reciff as the seat of the Dutch government
was beautified and enlarged; many fine buildings and gardens adorned it,
and the harbour made commodious for commerce with rows of warehouses and
ample docks. To the new capital he gave the name of Mauritsstad.

During the earlier part of his governor-generalship Joan Maurice was
called upon to face a really great danger. The year 1639 was to witness
what was to be the last great effort (before the Portuguese revolt) of
the still undivided Spanish monarchy for supremacy at sea. Already it
has been told how a great fleet sent under Antonio de Oquendo to drive
the Dutch from the narrow seas was crushed by Admiral Tromp at the
battle of the Downs. In the same year the most formidable armada ever
sent from the Peninsula across the ocean set sail for Brazil. It
consisted of no less than eighty-six vessels manned by 12,000 sailors
and soldiers under the command of the Count de Torre. Unpropitious
weather conditions, as so often in the case of Spanish naval
undertakings, ruined the enterprise. Making for Bahia they were detained
for two months in the Bay of All Saints by strong northerly winds.
Meanwhile Joan Maurice, whose naval force at first was deplorably weak,
had managed by energetic efforts to gather together a respectable fleet
of forty vessels under Admiral Loos, which resembled the English fleet
of 1588 under Effingham and Drake, in that it made up for lack of
numbers and of size by superior seamanship and skill in manoeuvring. At
length, the wind having shifted, the Count de Torre put to sea; and on
January 12, 1640, the Dutch squadrons sighted the Spaniards, who were
being driven along by a southerly gale which had sprung up. Clinging to
their rear and keeping the weather-gauge, the Dutch kept up a running
fight, inflicting continual losses on their enemies, and, giving them no
opportunity to make for land and seek the shelter of a port, drove them
northwards in disorder never to return. By this signal deliverance the
hold of the Netherlanders upon their Brazilian conquests appeared to be
assured; and, as has been already stated, Joan Maurice took full
advantage of the opportunity that was offered to him to consolidate and
extend them. A sudden change of political circumstances was, however,
to bring to a rapid downfall a dominion which had never rested on a
sound basis.

The revolt of Portugal in 1641 was at first hailed in the United
Provinces as the entry of a new ally into the field against their
ancient enemy the Spaniard. But it was soon perceived that there could
be no friendship with independent Portugal, unless both the East and
West India Companies withdrew from the territories they had occupied
overseas entirely at the expense of the Portuguese. King João IV and his
advisers at Lisbon, face to face as they were with the menacing Spanish
power, showed willingness to make great concessions, but they could not
control the spirit which animated the settlers in the colonies
themselves. Everywhere the Spanish yoke was repudiated, and the Dutch
garrisons in Brazil suddenly found themselves confronted in 1645 with a
loyalist rising, with which they were not in a position to deal
successfully. The West India Company had not proved a commercial
success. The fitting out of great fleets and the maintenance of numerous
garrisons of mercenaries at an immense distance from the home country
had exhausted their resources and involved the company in debt. The
building of Mauritsstad and the carrying out of Joan Maurice's ambitious
schemes for the administration and organisation of a great Brazilian
dominion were grandiose, but very costly. The governor, moreover, who
could brook neither incompetence nor interference on the part of his
subordinates, had aroused the enmity of some of them, notably of a
certain Colonel Architofsky, who through spite plotted and intrigued
against him with the authorities at home. The result was that, the
directors having declined to sanction certain proposals made to them by
Joan Maurice, he sent in his resignation, which was accepted (1644).
It must be remembered that their position was a difficult one. The
charter of the company had been granted for a term of twenty-four years,
and it was doubtful whether the States-General, already beginning to
discuss secretly the question of a separate peace with Spain, would
consent to renew it. The relations with Portugal were very delicate; and
a formidable rebellion of the entire body of Portuguese settlers, aided
by the natives, was on the point of breaking out. Indeed the successors
of Joan Maurice, deprived of any adequate succour from home, were unable
to maintain themselves against the skill and courage of the insurgent
Portuguese leaders. The Dutch were defeated in the field, and one by
one their fortresses were taken. The Reciff itself held out for some
time, but it was surrendered at last in 1654; and with its fall the
Dutch were finally expelled from the territory for the acquisition of
which they had sacrificed so much blood and treasure.

The West India Company at the peace of Münster possessed, besides the
remnant of its Brazilian dominion, the colony of New Netherland in North
America, and two struggling settlements on the rivers Essequibo and
Berbice in Guiana. New Netherland comprised the country between the
English colonies of New England and Virginia; and the Dutch settlers had
at this time established farms near the coast and friendly relations
with the natives of the interior, with whom they trafficked for furs.
The appointment of Peter Stuyvesant as governor, in 1646, was a time of
real development in New Netherland. This colony was an appanage of the
Chamber of Amsterdam, after which New Amsterdam, the seat of government
on the island of Manhattan, was named. The official trading posts on the
Essequibo and the Berbice, though never abandoned, had for some years a
mere lingering existence, but are deserving of mention in that they were
destined to survive the vicissitudes of fortune and to become in the
18th century a valuable possession. Their importance also is to be
measured not by the meagre official reports and profit and loss accounts
that have survived in the West India Company's records, but by the much
fuller information to be derived from Spanish and Portuguese sources, as
to the remarkable daring and energy of Dutch trading agents in all that
portion of the South American continent lying between the rivers Amazon
and Orinoco. Expelled from the Amazon itself in 1627 by the Portuguese
from Para, the Dutch traders established themselves at different times
at the mouths of almost all the rivers along what was known as the Wild
Coast of Guiana, and penetrating inland through a good understanding
with the natives, especially with the ubiquitous Carib tribes, carried
on a barter traffic beyond the mountains into the northern watershed of
the Amazon, even as far as the Rio Negro itself. This trade with the
interior finds no place in the company's official minutes, for it was
strictly speaking an infringement of the charter, and therefore
illegitimate. But it was characteristically Dutch, and it was winked at,
for the chief offenders were themselves among the principal
shareholders of the company.

No account of Dutch commerce during the period of Frederick Henry would
be complete, however, which did not refer to the relations between
Holland and Sweden, and the part played by an Amsterdam merchant in
enabling the Swedish armies to secure the ultimate triumph of the
Protestant cause in the Thirty Years' War. Louis de Geer sprang from an
ancient noble family of Liège. His father fled to Dordrecht in 1595 to
escape from the Inquisition and became prosperous in business. Liège was
then, as now, a great centre of the iron industry; and after his
father's death Louis de Geer in 1615 removed to Amsterdam, where he
became a merchant in all kinds of iron and copper goods, more especially
of ordnance and fire-arms. In close alliance with him, though not in
partnership, was his brother-in-law, Elias Trip, the head of a firm
reputed to have the most extensive business in iron-ware and weapons in
the Netherlands. The commanding abilities of de Geer soon gave to the
two firms, which continued to work harmoniously together as a family
concern, a complete supremacy in the class of wares in which they dealt.
At this time the chief supply of iron and copper ore came from Sweden;
and in 1616 de Geer was sent on a mission by the States-General to that
country to negotiate for a supply of these raw materials for the forging
of ordnance. This mission had important results, for it was the first
step towards bringing about those close relations between Sweden and the
United Provinces which were to subsist throughout the whole of the
Thirty Years' War. In the following year, 1617, Gustavus Adolphus, then
about to conduct an expedition into Livonia, sent an envoy to Holland
for the purpose of securing the good offices of the States-General for
the raising of a loan upon the security of the Swedish copper mines. The
principal contributor was Louis de Geer. He had, during his visit to
Sweden, learnt how great was the wealth of that country in iron ore, and
at the same time that the mines were lying idle and undeveloped through
lack of capital and skilled workmen. He used his opportunity therefore
to obtain from Gustavus the lease of the rich mining domain of Finspong.
The lease was signed on October 12, 1619, and de Geer at once began
operations on the largest scale. He introduced from Liège a body of
expert Walloon iron-workers, built forges and factories, and was in a
few years able to supply the Swedish government with all the ordnance
and munitions of war that they required, and to export through the port
of Norrköping large supplies of goods to his warehouses at Amsterdam.
His relations with Gustavus Adolphus soon became intimate. The king
relied upon de Geer for the supply of all the necessaries for his armies
in the field, and even commissioned him to raise troops for the Swedish
service. In 1626 the Dutch merchant was appointed by the king
acting-manager of the copper mines, which were royal property; and, in
order to regularise his position and give him greater facilities for the
conduct of his enterprises, the rights of Swedish citizenship were
conferred by royal patent upon him. It was a curious position, for
though de Geer paid many visits to Sweden, once for three consecutive
years, 1626-29, he continued to make Amsterdam his home and principal
residence. He thus had a dual nationality. Year after year saw an
increasing number of mines and properties passing into the great
financier's hands, and in return for these concessions he made large
advances to the king for his triumphant expedition into Germany;
advancing him in 1628 50,000 rixdalers, and somewhat later a further sum
of 32,000 rixdalers. So confidential were the relations between them
that Gustavus sent for de Geer to his camp at Kitzingen for a personal
consultation on business matters in the spring of 1632. It was their
last interview, for before that year closed the Swedish hero was to
perish at Lützen.

The death of Gustavus made no difference to the position of Louis de
Geer in Sweden, for he found Axel Oxenstierna a warm friend and powerful
supporter. Among other fresh enterprises was the formation of a
Swedo-Dutch Company for trading on the West Coast of Africa. In this
company Oxenstierna himself invested money. In reward for his many
services the Swedish Council of Regency conferred upon de Geer and his
heirs a patent of nobility (August 4,1641); and as part repayment of the
large loans advanced by him to the Swedish treasury he obtained as his
own the districts containing his mines and factories in different parts
of Sweden, making him one of the largest landed proprietors in the
country. He on his part in return for this was able to show in a
remarkable way that he was not ungrateful for the favours that he had
received.

With Christian IV of Denmark for many years the Swedes and the Dutch had
had constant disputes and much friction. This able and ambitious king,
throughout a long and vigorous reign, which began in 1593, had watched
with ever-increasing jealousy the passing of the Baltic trade into Dutch
hands, and with something more than jealousy the rapid advance to power
of the sister Scandinavian kingdom under Gustavus Adolphus. Of the 1074
merchant ships that passed through the Sound between June 19 and
November 16, 1645, all but 49 came from Dutch ports, by far the largest
number from Amsterdam; and from these Christian IV drew a large revenue
by the exaction of harsh and arbitrary toll-dues. Again and again the
States-General had complained and protested; and diplomatic pressure had
been brought to bear upon the high-handed king, but without avail.
Between Sweden and Denmark there had been, since Gustavus Adolphus came
to the throne in 1613, no overt act of hostility; but smouldering
beneath the surface of an armed truce were embers of latent rivalries
and ambitions ready at any moment to burst into flame. Christian IV was
a Protestant, but his jealousy of Sweden led him in 1639 openly to take
sides with the Catholic powers, Austria and Spain. Fearing that he might
attempt to close the passage of the Sound, the States-General and the
Swedish Regency in 1640 concluded a treaty "for securing the freedom and
protection of shipping and commerce in the Baltic and North Seas"; and
one of the secret articles gave permission to Sweden to buy or hire
ships in the Netherlands and in case of necessity to enlist crews for
the same. Outward peace was precariously maintained between the
Scandinavian powers, when the seizure of a number of Swedish ships in
the Sound in 1643 made Oxenstierna resolve upon a bold stroke. Without
any declaration of war the Swedish general, Torstensson, was ordered to
lead his victorious army from North Germany into Denmark and to force
King Christian to cease intriguing with the enemy. Holstein, Schleswig
and Jutland were speedily in Torstensson's hands, but the Danish fleet
was superior to the Swedish, and he could make no further progress. Both
sides turned to the United Provinces. Christian promised that the
grievances in regard to the Sound dues should be removed if the
States-General would remain neutral. Oxenstierna addressed himself to
Louis de Geer. The merchant on behalf of the Swedish government was
instructed to approach the stadholder and the States-General, and to
seek for naval assistance under the terms of the treaty of 1640; and, if
he failed in obtaining their assent, then he--de Geer--should himself
(in conformance with the secret article of that treaty) raise on his
own account and equip a fleet of thirty ships for the Swedish service.

De Geer soon discovered that Frederick Henry, being intent on peace
negotiations, was averse to the proposal. The stadholder, and the
States-General acting under his influence, did not wish to create fresh
entanglements by embroiling the United Provinces in a war with Denmark.
De Geer therefore at once began on his own responsibility to equip ships
in the various seaports of Holland and Zeeland which had been the chief
sufferers by the vexatious Sound dues, and he succeeded in enlisting the
connivance of the Estates of Holland to his undertaking. Before the end
of April, 1644, a fleet of thirty-two vessels was collected under the
command of Marten Thijssen. Its first efforts were unsuccessful. The
Danish fleet effectually prevented the junction of Thijssen with the
Swedes, and for a time he found himself blockaded in a narrow passage
called the Listerdiep. Taking advantage of a storm which dispersed the
Danes, the Dutch admiral at last was able to put to sea again, and early
in July somewhat ignominiously returned to Amsterdam to refit. For the
moment King Christian was everywhere triumphant. On July 11 he gained a
signal victory over the Swedish fleet at Colberg Heath, and he had the
satisfaction of seeing Torstensson compelled by the Imperialists to
retreat from Jutland. But the energy and pertinacity of the Amsterdam
merchant saved the situation. Though the retreat of Thijssen meant for
him a heavy financial loss, de Geer never for a moment faltered in his
purpose. Within three weeks Thijssen again put to sea with twenty-two
ships, and by skilful manoeuvring he succeeded in making his way
through the Skagerak and the Sound, and finally brought his fleet to
anchor in the Swedish harbour of Calmar. From this harbour the united
Swedo-Dutch squadrons sailed out and on October 23, between Femern and
Laaland, met the Danish fleet, and after a desperate conflict completely
defeated and destroyed it. Thus were the wealth and resources of a
private citizen of Amsterdam able to intervene decisively at a critical
moment in the struggle for supremacy in the Baltic between the two
Scandinavian powers. But it is not in the victory won by Marten Thijssen
that de Geer rendered his greatest service to Sweden. As the Swedish
historian Fryxell truly says, "all that was won by the statesmanship of
Oxenstierna, by the sword of Baner, Torstensson and Wrangel, in a
desolated Germany streaming with blood, has been already lost again; but
the benefits which Louis de Geer brought to Sweden, by the path of
peaceful industry and virtue, these still exist, and bear wholesome
fruit to a late posterity."

This expedition under Marten Thijssen, who after his victory was created
a Swedish noble and definitely entered the Swedish naval service, though
connived at by Frederick Henry and the States-General, did not express
any desire on their part to aggrandise Sweden unduly at the expense of
Denmark. If some great merchants such as Louis de Geer and Elias Trip
were exploiting the resources of Sweden, others, notably a certain
Gabriel Marcelis, had invested their capital in developing the Danish
grazing lands; and politically and commercially the question of the
Sound dues, pre-eminently a Danish question, overshadowed all others in
importance. The Dutch had no desire to give Sweden a share in the
control of the Sound; they preferred in the interests of their vast
Baltic trade to have to deal with Christian IV alone. The Swedish threat
was useful in bringing diplomatic pressure to bear on the Danish king,
but ultimately they felt confident that, if he refused to make
concessions in the matter of the dues, they could compel him to do so.
As one of their diplomatists proudly declared, "the wooden keys of the
Sound were not in the hands of King Christian, but in the wharves of
Amsterdam." In June, 1645, his words were put to a practical test.
Admiral Witte de With at the head of a fleet of fifty war-ships was
ordered to convoy 300 merchantmen through the Sound, peacefully if
possible, if not, by force. Quietly the entire fleet of 350 vessels
sailed through the narrow waters. The Danish fleet and Danish forts
made no attempt at resistance. All the summer De With cruised to and fro
and the Dutch traders suffered no molestation. Christian's obstinacy at
last gave way before this display of superior might, and on August 23,
by the treaty of Christianopel he agreed to lower the tolls for forty
years and to make many other concessions that were required from him. At
the same time by Dutch mediation peace was concluded between Denmark and
Sweden, distinctly to the advantage of the former, by the treaty of
Brömsebro.

To pass to other regions. In the Levant, during the long residence of
Cornelis Haga at Constantinople, trade had been greatly extended.
Considerable privileges were conceded to the Dutch by the so-called
"capitulation" concluded by his agency with the Porte in 1612; and Dutch
consuls were placed in the chief ports of Turkey, Asia Minor, Syria,
Egypt, Tunis, Greece and Italy. The trading however with the
Mediterranean and the Levant was left to private enterprise, the
States-General which had given charters to the different Companies--East
India, West India and Northern--not being willing to create any further
monopolies.

The lack of coal and of metals has always seriously hindered industrial
development in the United Provinces. Nevertheless the advent into
Holland of so many refugees who were skilled artisans, from the southern
Netherlands, led to the establishment of various textile industries at
Leyden, Haarlem and other towns. One of the chief of these was the
dressing and dyeing of English cloth for exportation.

Amsterdam, it should be mentioned, had already at this time become the
home of the diamond industry. The art of cutting and polishing diamonds
was a secret process brought to the city on the Y by Portuguese Jews,
who were expelled by Philip II; and in Amsterdam their descendants still
retain a peculiar skill and craftmanship that is unrivalled. Jewish
settlers were indeed to be found in many of the Dutch towns; and it was
through them that Holland became famous in 17th century Europe for the
perfection of her goldsmiths' and silversmiths' art and for jewelry of
every kind. Another industry, which had its centre at Delft, was that of
the celebrated pottery and tiles known as "delfware." It will be evident
from what has been said above that vast wealth flowed into Holland at
this period of her history, but, as so often happens, this sudden
growth of riches had a tendency to accumulate in the hands of a minority
of the people, with the inevitable consequence, on the one hand, of the
widening of the gulf which divided poverty from opulence; on the other,
with the creation among rich and poor alike of a consuming eagerness and
passion for gain, if not by legitimate means, then by wild speculation
or corrupt venality. Bubble companies came into existence, only to bring
disaster on those who rashly invested their money in them. The fever of
speculation rose to its height in the mania for the growing of bulbs and
more especially of tulips, which more and more absorbed the attention of
the public in Holland in the years 1633-6. Perfectly inordinate sums
were offered in advance for growing crops or for particular bulbs; most
of the transactions being purely paper speculations, a gambling in
futures. Millions of guilders were risked, and hundreds of thousands
lost or won. In 1637 the crash came, and many thousands of people, in
Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leyden, Alkmaar and other towns in Holland, were
brought to ruin. The Estates of Holland and the various municipal
corporations, numbers of whose members were among the sufferers, were
compelled to take official action to extend the time for the liquidation
of debts, and thus to some extent limit the number of bankruptcies. The
tulip mania reduced, however, so many to beggary that it came as a stern
warning. It was unfortunately only too typical of the spirit of the
time.

Even worse in some ways was the venality and corruption which began to
pervade the public life of the country. The getting of wealth, no matter
how, was an epidemic, which infected not merely the business community,
but the official classes of the republic. There was malversation in the
admiralties and in the military administration. The government was in
the hands of narrow oligarchies, who took good care to oppose jealously
any extension of the privileges which placed so much valuable patronage
at their disposal. Even envoys to foreign courts were reputed not to be
inaccessible to the receipt of presents, which were in reality bribes;
and in the law-courts the wealthy suitor or offender could generally
count on a charitable construction being placed upon all points in his
favour. The severe placards, for instance, against the public
celebration of any form of worship but that of the Reformed religion,
according to the decrees of the Synod of Dort, were notoriously not
enforced. Those who were able and willing to pay for a dispensation
found a ready and judicious toleration.

This toleration was not entirely due to the venality of the officials,
but rather to the spirit of materialistic indifference that was abroad
among the orthodox Calvinists, who were alone eligible for public
office. Large numbers of those who professed the established faith were
in reality either nominal conformists too much immersed in affairs to
trouble about religious questions, or actually free-thinkers in
disguise. It must never be forgotten that in the United Provinces taken
as a whole, the Calvinists, whether orthodox or arminian, formed a
minority of the population. Even in Holland itself more than half the
inhabitants were Catholics, including many of the old families and
almost all the peasantry. Likewise in Utrecht, Gelderland and Overyssel
the Catholics were in the majority. The Generality lands, North Brabant
and Dutch Flanders, were entirely of the Roman faith. In Holland,
Zeeland and especially in Friesland and Groningen the Mennonite Baptists
and other sects had numerous adherents. Liberty of thought and to a
large extent of worship was in fact at this time the characteristic of
the Netherlands, and existed in spite of the unrepealed placards which
enforced under pain of heavy penalties a strict adherence to the
principles of Dort.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XII

LETTERS, SCIENCE AND ART


The epithet "glorious"--_roemrijke_--has been frequently applied by
Dutch historians to the period of Frederick Henry--and deservedly. The
preceding chapter has told that it was a time of wonderful maritime and
colonial expansion, of commercial supremacy and material prosperity. But
the spirit of the Holland, which reached its culminating point of
national greatness in the middle of the 17th century, was far from being
wholly occupied with voyages of adventure and conquest on far distant
seas, or engrossed in sordid commercialism at home. The rapid
acquisition of wealth by successful trade is dangerous to the moral
health and stability alike of individuals and of societies; and the
vices which follow in its train had, as we have already pointed out,
infected to a certain extent the official and commercial classes in the
Dutch republic at this epoch. There is, however, another side of the
picture. The people of the United Provinces in their long struggle for
existence, as a free and independent state, had had all the dormant
energies and qualities of which their race was capable called into
intense and many-sided activity, with the result that the quickening
impulse, which had been sent thrilling through the veins, and which had
made the pulses to throb with the stress of effort and the eagerness of
hope, penetrated into every department of thought and life. When the
treaty of Münster was signed, Holland had taken her place in the very
front rank in the civilised world, as the home of letters, science and
art, and was undoubtedly the most learned state in Europe.

In an age when Latin was the universal language of learning, it was this
last fact which loomed largest in the eyes of contemporaries. The wars
and persecutions which followed the Reformation made Holland the place
of refuge of many of the most adventurous spirits, the choicest
intellects and the most independent thinkers of the time. Flemings and
Walloons, who fled from Alva and the Inquisition, Spanish and Portuguese
Jews driven out by the fanaticism of Philip II, French Huguenots and
German Calvinists, found within the borders of the United Provinces a
country of adoption, where freedom of the press and freedom of opinion
existed to a degree unknown elsewhere until quite modern times. The
social condition of the country, the disappearance of a feudal nobility,
and the growth of a large and well-to-do burgher aristocracy in whose
hands the government of the republic really lay, had led to a
widespread diffusion of education and culture. All travellers in 17th
century Holland were struck by the evidences which met their eyes, in
all places that they visited, of a general prosperity combined with
great simplicity of life and quiet domesticity. Homely comfort was to be
seen everywhere, but not even in the mansions of the merchant princes of
Amsterdam was there any ostentatious display of wealth and luxury.
Probably of no other people could it have been said that "amongst the
Dutch it was unfashionable not to be a man of business[6]." And yet, in
spite of this, there was none of that narrowness of outlook, which is
generally associated with burgher-society immersed in trade. These men,
be it remembered, were necessarily acquainted with many languages, for
they had commercial relations with all parts of the world. The number
too of those who had actually voyaged and travelled in far distant
oceans, in every variety of climate, amidst every diversity of race, was
very large; and their presence in their home circles and in social
gatherings and all they had to tell of their experiences opened men's
minds, stirred their imaginations, and aroused an interest and a
curiosity, which made even the stay-at-home Hollanders alert, receptive
and eager for knowledge.

The act of William the Silent in founding the University of Leyden, as a
memorial of the great deliverance of 1574, was prophetic of the future
that was about to dawn upon the land, which, at the moment of its lowest
fortunes, the successful defence of Leyden had done so much to save from
utter disaster. For the reasons which have been already stated, scholars
of renown driven by intolerance from their own countries found in the
newly-founded Academy in Holland a home where they could pursue their
literary work undisturbed, and gave to it a fame and celebrity which
speedily attracted thousands of students not only from the Netherlands,
but also from foreign lands. This was especially the case during the
terrible time when Germany was devastated by the Thirty Years' War.
Among the scholars and philologists, who held chairs at Leyden during
the first century of its existence, are included a long list of names of
European renown. Justus Lipsius and Josephus Justus Scaliger may be
justly reckoned among the founders of the science of critical
scholarship. These were of foreign extraction, as was Salmasius, one of
their successors, famous for his controversy with John Milton. But only
less illustrious in the domain of philology and classical learning were
the Netherlanders Gerardus Johannes Vossius (1577-1649) and his five
sons, one of whom Isaac (1618-89) may be even said to have surpassed his
father; Daniel Heinsius (1580-1665) and his son Nicolas (1620-1681), men
of immense erudition and critical insight; and the brilliant Latinist
Caspar Barlaeus (1584-1648). Of theologians and their bitter disputes
posterity retains a less grateful remembrance. Gomarus and Arminius by
their controversies were the authors of party strife and civil
dissensions which led to the death of Oldenbarneveldt on the scaffold;
and with them may be mentioned Episcopius, Voetius, Coecaeus, Bogerman
and Uyttenbogaert. Not all these men had a direct connection with
Leyden, for the success which attended the creation of the academy in
that town quickly led to the erection of similar institutions elsewhere.
Universities were founded at Franeker, 1584; Groningen, 1614; Amsterdam,
1632; Utrecht, 1636; and Harderwijk, 1646. These had not the same
attraction as Leyden for foreigners, but they quickly became, one and
all, centres for the diffusion of that high level of general culture
which was the distinguishing mark of the 17th century Netherlands.

All the writers, whose names have just been mentioned, used Latin almost
exclusively as their instrument of expression. But one name, the most
renowned of them all, has been omitted, because through political
circumstances he was compelled to spend the greater part of his life in
banishment from his native land. Hugo Grotius (Huig van Groot), after
his escape from the castle of Loevestein in 1621, though he remained
through life a true patriot, never could be induced to accept a pardon,
which implied an admission of guilt in himself or in Oldenbarneveldt. So
the man, who was known to have been the actual writer of the Advocate's
_Justification_, continued to live in straitened circumstances at Paris,
until Oxenstierna appointed him Swedish ambassador at the French
court. This post he held for eleven years. Of his extraordinary ability,
and of the variety and range of his knowledge, it is not possible to
speak without seeming exaggeration. Grotius was in his own time styled
"the wonder of the world"; he certainly stands intellectually as one of
the very foremost men the Dutch race has produced. Scholar, jurist,
theologian, philosopher, historian, poet, diplomatist, letter-writer, he
excelled in almost every branch of knowledge and made himself a master
of whatever subject he took in hand. For the student of International
Law the treatise of Grotius, _De Jure belli et pacis_, still remains the
text-book on which the later superstructure has been reared. His _Mare
liberum_, written expressly to controvert the Portuguese claim of an
exclusive right to trade and navigate in the Indian Ocean, excited much
attention in Europe, and was taken by James I to be an attack on the
oft-asserted _dominium maris_ of the English crown in the narrow seas.
It led the king to issue a proclamation forbidding foreigners to fish in
British waters (May, 1609). Selden's _Mare clausum_ was a reply, written
by the king's command, to the _Mare liberum_. Of his strictly historical
works the _Annales et Historiae de Rebus Belgicis_, for its impartiality
and general accuracy no less than for its finished and lucid style,
stands out as the best of all contemporary accounts from the Dutch side
of the Revolt of the Netherlands. As a theologian Grotius occupied a
high rank. His _De Veritate Religionis Christianae_ and his
_Annotationes in Vetus et in Novum Testamentum_ are now out of date; but
the _De Veritate_ was in its day a most valuable piece of Christian
apologetic and was quickly translated into many languages. The
_Annotationes_ have, ever since they were penned, been helpful to
commentators on the Scriptures for their brilliancy and suggestiveness
on many points of criticism and interpretation. His voluminous
correspondence, diplomatic, literary, confidential, is rich in
information bearing on the history and the life of his time. Several
thousands of these letters have been collected and published.

But if the smouldering embers of bitter sectarian and party strife
compelled the most brilliant of Holland's own sons to spend the last
twenty-three years of his life in a foreign capital and to enter the
service of a foreign state, Holland was at the same time, as we have
seen, gaining distinction by the presence within her hospitable
boundaries of men of foreign extraction famous for their learning.

It was thus that both the Cartesian and Spinozan systems of philosophy
had their birth-place on Dutch soil. Réné Descartes sought refuge from
France at Amsterdam in 1629, and he resided at different places in the
United Provinces, among them at the university towns of Utrecht,
Franeker and Leyden, for twenty years. During this time he published
most of his best known works, including the famous _Discours de la
méthode_. His influence was great. He made many disciples, who openly or
secretly became "Cartesians." Among his pupils was Baruch Spinoza
(1632-1677) the apostle of pantheism. A Portuguese Jew by descent,
Spinoza was born in Amsterdam and was a resident in his native city
throughout life.

The fame of Holland in 17th century Europe as the chosen home of
learning had thus been established by scholars and thinkers whose
literary language was ordinarily Latin. It is now time to speak of the
brilliant band of poets, dramatists and stylists, who cultivated the
resources of their native tongue with such success as to make this great
era truly the Golden Age of Dutch Literature properly so-called. The
growth of a genuine national literature in the Netherlands, which had
produced during the latter part of the 13th century a Maerlandt and a
Melis Stoke, was for some considerable time checked and retarded by the
influence of the Burgundian _régime_, where French, as the court
language, was generally adopted by the upper classes. The Netherland or
Low-German tongue thus became gradually debased and corrupted by the
introduction of bastard words and foreign modes of expression.
Nevertheless this period of linguistic degradation witnessed the uprise
of a most remarkable institution for popularising "the Art of Poesy." I
refer to the literary gilds, bearing the name of "Chambers of Rhetoric,"
which, though of French origin, became rapidly acclimatised in the
Netherlands. In well-nigh every town one or more of these "gilds" were
established, delighting the people with their quaint pageantry and
elaborate ritual, and forming centres of light and culture throughout
the land. Rhyming, versifying, acting, became through their means the
recreation of many thousands of shop-keepers, artisans and even
peasants. And with all their faults of style and taste, their endless
effusion of bad poetry, their feeble plays and rude farces, the mummery
and buffoonery which were mingled even with their gravest efforts, the
"Rhetoricians" effectually achieved the great and important work of
attracting an entire people in an age of ignorance and of darkness
towards a love of letters, and thereby broke the ground for the great
revival of the 17th century. Amsterdam at one time possessed several
of these Chambers of Rhetoric, but towards the end of the 16th century
they had all disappeared, with one brilliant exception, that of the
"Blossoming Eglantine," otherwise known as the "Old Chamber." Founded in
1518 under the special patronage of Charles V, the "Eglantine" weathered
safely the perils and troubles of the Revolt, and passed in 1581 under
the joint direction of a certain notable triumvirate, Coornheert,
Spiegel and Visscher. These men banded themselves together "to raise,
restore and enrich" their mother-tongue. But they were not merely
literary purists and reformers; the "Eglantine" became in their hands
and through their efforts the focus of new literary life and energy, and
Amsterdam replaced fallen Antwerp as the home of Netherland culture.

The senior member of the triumvirate, Dirk Volkertz Coornheert, led a
stormy and adventurous life. He was a devoted adherent of William the
Silent and for a series of years, through good and ill-fortune, devoted
himself with pen and person to the cause of his patron. As a poet he did
not attain any very high flight, but he was a great pamphleteer, and,
taking an active part in religious controversy, by his publications he
drew upon himself a storm of opposition and in the end of persecution.
He was, like his patron, a man of moderate and tolerant views, which in
an age of religious bigotry brought upon him the hatred of all parties
and the accusation of being a free-thinker. His stormy life ended in
1590. Hendrik Laurensz Spiegel (1549-1612) was a member of an old
Amsterdam family. In every way a contrast to Coornheert, Spiegel was a
Catholic. A prosperous citizen, simple, unostentatious and charitable,
he spent the whole of his life in his native town, and being
disqualified by his religion from holding public office he gave all his
leisure to the cultivation of his mind and to literary pursuits. The
work on which his fame chiefly rests was a didactic poem entitled the
_Hert-Spiegel_. In his pleasant country house upon the banks of the
Amstel, beneath a wide and spreading tree, which he was wont to call the
"Temple of the Muses" he loved to gather a circle of literary friends,
irrespective of differences of opinion or of faith, and with them to
spend the afternoon in bright congenial converse on books and men and
things. Roemer Visscher, the youngest member of the triumvirate, was
like Spiegel an Amsterdammer, a Catholic and a well-to-do merchant. His
poetical efforts did not attain a high standard, though his epigrams,
which were both witty and quaint, won for him from his contemporaries
the name of the "Second Martial." Roemer Visscher's fame does not,
however, rest chiefly upon his writings. A man of great affability,
learned, shrewd and humorous, he was exceedingly hospitable, and he was
fortunate in having a wife of like tastes and daughters more gifted than
himself. During the twenty years which preceded his death in 1620 his
home was the chosen rendezvous of the best intelligence of the day. To
the young he was ever ready to give encouragement and help; and
struggling talent always found in him a kindly critic and a sympathising
friend. He lived to see and to make the acquaintance of Brederôo,
Vondel, Cats and Huyghens, the men whose names were to make the period
of Frederick Henry the most illustrious in the annals of Dutch
literature.

Gerbrand Adriansz Brederôo, strictly speaking, did not belong to that
period. He died prematurely in 1618, a victim while still young to a
wayward life of dissipation and disappointment. His comedies, written in
the rude dialect of the fish-market and the street, are full of native
humour and originality and give genuine glimpses of low life in old
Amsterdam. His songs show that Brederôo had a real poetic gift. They
reveal, beneath the rough and at times coarse and licentious exterior, a
nature of fine susceptibilities and almost womanly tenderness. Joost van
den Vondel was born in the same year as Brederôo, 1587, but his career
was very different. Vondel survived till 1679, and during the whole of
his long life his pen was never idle. His dramas and poems (in the
edition of Van Lennep) fill twelve volumes. Such a vast production, as
is inevitable, contains material of very unequal merit; but it is not
too much to say that the highest flights of Vondel's lyric poetry, alike
in power of expression and imagery, in the variety of metre and the
harmonious cadence of the verse, deserve a far wider appreciation than
they have ever received, through the misfortune of having been written
in a language little known and read. Vondel was the son of an Antwerp
citizen compelled as a Protestant to fly from his native town after its
capture by Parma. He took refuge at Cologne, where the poet was born,
and afterwards settled at Amsterdam. In that town Vondel spent all his
life, first as a shopkeeper, then as a clerk in the City Savings' Bank.
He was always a poor man; he never sought for the patronage of the
great, but rather repelled it. His scathing attacks on those who had
compassed the death of Oldenbarneveldt, and his adhesion to the
Remonstrant cause brought him in early life into disfavour with the
party in power, while later his conversion to Catholicism--in 1641--and
his eager and zealous advocacy of its doctrines, were a perpetual bar to
that public recognition of his talents which was his due. Vondel never
at any time sacrificed his convictions to his interest, and he wrote
poetry not from the desire of wealth or fame, but because he was a born
poet and his mind found in verse the natural expression of its thought
and emotions.

But, though Vondel was a poor man, he was not unlearned. On the contrary
he was a diligent student of Greek and Latin literature, and translated
many of the poetical masterpieces in those languages into Dutch verse.
Indeed so close was his study that it marred much of his own work.
Vondel wrote a great number of dramas, but his close imitation of the
Greek model with its chorus, and his strict adherence to the unities,
render them artificial in form and lacking in movement and life. This is
emphasised by the fact that many of them are based on Scriptural themes,
and by the monotony of the Alexandrine metre in which all the dialogues
are written. It is in the choruses that the poetical genius of Vondel is
specially displayed. Lyrical gems in every variety of metre are to be
found in the Vondelian dramas, alike in his youthful efforts and in
those of extreme old age. Of the dramas, the finest and the most famous
is the _Lucifer_, 1654, which treats of the expulsion of Lucifer and his
rebel host of angels from Heaven. We are here in the presence of a
magnificent effort to deal grandiosely with a stupendous theme. The
conception of the personality of Lucifer is of heroic proportions; and a
comparison of dates renders it at least probable that this Dutch drama
passed into John Milton's hands, and that distinct traces of the
impression it made upon him are to be found in certain passages of the
_Paradise Lost_. Vondel also produced hundreds of occasional pieces,
besides several lengthy religious and didactic poems. He even essayed an
epic poem on Constantine the Great, but it was never completed. Of the
occasional poems the finest are perhaps the triumph songs over the
victories of Frederick Henry, and of the great admirals Tromp and De
Ruyter.

Jacob Cats (1577-1660) lived, like Vondel, to a great age, but in very
different circumstances. He was a native of Dordrecht and became
pensionary of that town, and, though not distinguished as a statesman or
politician, he was so much respected for his prudence and moderation
that for twenty-two years he filled the important office of
Council-Pensionary of Holland and was twice sent as an Envoy
Extraordinary to England. He was a prolific writer and was undoubtedly
the most popular and widely-read of the poets of his time. His works
were to be found in every Dutch homestead, and he was familiarly known
as "Father Cats." His gifts were, however, of a very different order
from those of Vondel. His long poems dealt chiefly with the events of
domestic, every-day existence; and the language, simple, unpretentious
and at times commonplace, was nevertheless not devoid of a certain
restful charm. There are no high flights of imagination or of passion,
but there are many passages as rich in quaint fancy as in wise maxims.
With Constantine Huyghens (1596-1687) the writing of verse was but one
of the many ways in which one of the most cultured, versatile, and busy
men of his time found pleasant recreation in his leisure hours. The
trusted secretary, friend and counsellor of three successive Princes of
Orange, Huyghens in these capacities was enabled for many years to
render great service to Frederick Henry, William II and William III,
more especially perhaps to the last-named during the difficult and
troubled period of his minority. Nevertheless all these cares and
labours of the diplomatist, administrator, courtier and man of the world
did not prevent him from following his natural bent for intellectual
pursuits. He was a man of brilliant parts and of refined and artistic
tastes. Acquainted with many languages and literatures, an accomplished
musician and musical composer, a generous patron of letters and of art,
his poetical efforts are eminently characteristic of the personality of
the man. His volumes of short poems--_Hofwijck, Cluijswerck, Voorhout_
and _Zeestraet_--contain exquisite and witty pictures of life at the
Hague--"the village of villages"--and are at once fastidious in form and
pithy in expression.

It remains to speak of the man who may truly be described as the central
figure among his literary contemporaries. Pieter Cornelisz Hooft
(1583-1647) was indisputably the first man of letters of his time. He
sprang from one of the first families of the burgher-aristocracy of
Amsterdam, in which city his father, Cornelis Pietersz Hooft, filled the
office of burgomaster no less than thirteen times. He began even as a
boy to write poetry, and his strong bent to literature was deepened by a
prolonged tour of more than three years in France, Germany and Italy,
almost two years of which were spent at Florence and Venice. After his
return he studied jurisprudence at Leyden, but when he was only
twenty-six years old he received an appointment which was to mould and
fix the whole of his future career. In 1609 Prince Maurice, in
recognition of his father's great services, nominated Hooft to the
coveted post of Drost, or Governor, of Muiden and bailiff of Gooiland.
This post involved magisterial and administrative duties of a
by-no-means onerous kind; and the official residence of the Drost, the
"High House of Muiden," an embattled feudal castle with pleasant
gardens, lying at the point where at no great distance from Amsterdam
the river Vecht sleepily empties itself into the Zuyder Zee, became
henceforth for thirty years a veritable home of letters.

Hooft's literary life may be divided into two portions. In the decade
after his settlement at Muiden, he was known as a dramatist and a writer
of pretty love songs. His dramas--_Geerard van Velzen, Warenar_ and
_Baeto_--caught the popular taste and were frequently acted, but are not
of high merit. His songs and sonnets are distinguished for their musical
rhythm and airy lightness of touch, but they were mostly penned, as he
himself tells us, for his own pleasure and that of his friends, not for
general publication. There are, nevertheless, charming pieces in the
collected edition of Hooft's poems, and he was certainly an adept in the
technicalities of metrical craft. But Hooft himself was ambitious of
being remembered by posterity as a national historian. He aimed at
giving such a narrative of the struggle against Spain as would entitle
him to the name of "the Tacitus of the Netherlands." He wished to
produce no mere chronicle like those of Bor or Van Meteren, but a
literary history in the Dutch tongue, whose style should be modelled on
that of the great Roman writer, whose works Hooft is said to have read
through fifty-two times. He first, to try his hand, wrote a life of
Henry IV of France, which attained great success. Louis XIII was so
pleased with it that he sent the author a gold chain and made him a
Knight of St Michael. Thus encouraged, on August 19, 1628, Hooft began
his _Netherland Histories_, and from this date until his death in 1647
he worked ceaselessly at the _magnum opus_, which, beginning with the
abdication of Charles V, he intended to carry on until the conclusion of
the Twelve Years' Truce. He did not live to bring the narrative further
than the end of the Leicester régime. In a small tower in the orchard at
Muiden he kept his papers; and here, undisturbed, he spent all his
leisure hours for nineteen years engaged on the great task, on which he
concentrated all his energies. He himself tells us of the enormous pains
that he took to get full and accurate information, collecting records,
consulting archives and submitting every portion as it was written to
the criticism of living authorities, more especially to Constantine
Huyghens and through him to the Prince of Orange himself. Above all
Hooft strove, to use his own words, "never to conceal the truth, even
were it to the injury of the fatherland"; and the carrying-out of this
principle has given to the great prose-epic that he wrote a permanent
value apart altogether from its merits as a remarkable literary
achievement. And yet perhaps the most valuable legacy that Hooft has
left to posterity is his collection of letters. Of these a recent
writer[7] has declared "that, though it could not be asserted that they
[Hooft's letters] threw into the shade the whole of the rest of
Netherland literature, still the assertion would not be far beyond the
mark." They deal with every variety of subject, grave and gay; and they
give us an insight into the literary, social and domestic life of the
Holland of his time, which is of more value than any history.

In these letters we find life-like portraits of the scholars, poets,
dramatists, musicians, singers, courtiers and travellers, who formed
that brilliant society which received from their contemporaries the name
of the "Muiden Circle"--_Muidener Kring_. The genial and hospitable
Drost loved to see around him those "five or six couple of friends,"
whom he delighted to invite to Muiden. Hooft was twice married; and both
his wives, Christina van Erp and Heleonore Hellemans, were charming and
accomplished women, endowed with those social qualities which gave an
added attractiveness to the Muiden gatherings. Brandt, Hooft's
biographer, describes Christina as "of surpassing capacity and
intelligence, as beautiful, pleasing, affable, discreet, gentle and
gracious, as such a man could desire to have"; while, of Heleonore,
Hooft himself writes: "Within this house one ever finds sunshine, even
when it rains without."

This reference to the two hostesses of Muiden calls attention to one of
the noteworthy features of social life in the Holland of this
period--namely, the high level of education among women belonging to
the upper burgher-class. Anna and Maria Tesselschade Visscher, and Anna
Maria Schuurman may be taken as examples. Anna, the elder of the two
daughters of Roemer Visscher (1584-1651), was brought up amidst cultured
surroundings. For some years after her mother's death she took her place
as mistress of the house which until 1620 had been the hospitable
rendezvous of the literary society of Amsterdam. She was herself a woman
of wide erudition, and her fame as a poet was such as to win for her,
according to the fashion of the day, the title of "the Dutch Sappho."
Tesselschade, ten years younger than her sister and educated under her
fostering care, was however destined to eclipse her, alike by her
personal charms and her varied accomplishments. If one could believe all
that is said in her praise by Hooft, Huyghens, Barlaeus, Brederôo,
Vondel and Cats, she must indeed have been a very marvel of perfect
womanhood. As a singer she was regarded as being without a rival; and
her skill in painting, carving, etching on glass and tapestry work was
much praised by her numerous admirers. Her poetical works, including her
translation into Dutch verse of Tasso's _Gerusalemme Liberata_, have
almost all unfortunately perished, but a single ode that survives--"the
Ode to a Nightingale"--is an effort not unworthy of Shelley and shows
her possession of a true lyrical gift. At Muiden the presence of the
"beautiful" Tesselschade was almost indispensable. "What feast would be
complete," wrote Hooft to her, "at which you were not present? Favour us
then with your company if it be possible"; and again: "that you will
come is my most earnest desire. If you will but be our guest, then, I
hope, you will cure all our ills." He speaks of her to Barlaeus as "the
priestess"; and it is clear that at her shrine all the frequenters of
Muiden were ready to burn the incense of adulation. Both Anna and
Tesselschade, like their father, were devout Catholics.

Anna Maria van Schuurman (1607-84) was a woman of a different type. She
does not seem to have loved or to have shone in society, but she was a
very phenomenon of learning. She is credited with proficiency in
painting, carving and other arts; but it is not on these, so to speak,
accessory accomplishments that her fame rests, but on the extraordinary
range and variety of her solid erudition. She was at once linguist,
scholar, theologian, philosopher, scientist and astronomer. She was a
remarkable linguist and had a thorough literary and scholarly knowledge
of French, English, German, Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac,
Chaldee, Arabic and Ethiopic. Her reputation became widespread; and, in
the latter part of her long life, many strangers went to Utrecht, where
she resided, to try to get a glimpse of so great a celebrity, which was
not easy owing to her aversion to such visits.

Turning to the domain of mathematical and physical science and of
scientific research and discovery, we find that here also the 17th
century Netherlanders attained the highest distinction. As
mathematicians Simon Stevin, the friend and instructor of Maurice of
Orange, and Francis van Schooten, the Leyden Professor, who numbered
among his pupils Christian Huyghens and John de Witt, did much excellent
work in the earlier years of the century. The published writings of De
Witt on "the properties of curves" and on "the theory of probabilities"
show that the greatest of Dutch statesmen might have become famous as a
mathematician had the cares of administration permitted him to pursue
the abstract studies that he loved. Of the scientific achievements of
Christian Huyghens (1629-95), the brilliant son of a brilliant father,
it is difficult to speak in adequate terms. There is scarcely any name
in the annals of science that stands higher than his. His abilities, as
a pure mathematician, place him in the front rank among mathematicians
of all time; and yet the services that he rendered to mathematical
science were surpassed by his extraordinary capacity for the combination
of theory with practice. His powers of invention, of broad
generalisation, of originality of thought were almost unbounded. Among
the mathematical problems with which he dealt successfully were the
theory of numbers, the squaring of the circle and the calculation of
chances. To him we owe the conception of the law of the conservation of
energy, of the motion of the centre of gravity, and of the undulatory
theory of light. He expounded the laws of the motion of the pendulum,
increased the power of the telescope, invented the micrometer,
discovered the rings and satellites of Saturn, constructed the first
pendulum clock, and a machine, called the gunpowder machine, in
principle the precursor of the steam engine. For sheer brain power and
inventive genius Christian Huyghens was a giant. He spent the later
years of his life in Paris, where he was one of the founders and
original members of the _Académie des Sciences_. Two other names of
scientists, who gained a European reputation for original research and
permanent additions to knowledge, must be mentioned; those of Antoni van
Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), and of Jan Swammerdam (1637-80). Leeuwenhoek
was a life-long observer of minute life. The microscope (the invention
of which was due to a Dutchman, Cornelius Drebbel) was the favourite
instrument of his patient investigations, and he was able greatly to
improve its mechanism and powers. Among the results of his labours was
the discovery of the infusoria, and the collection of a valuable mass of
information concerning the circulation of the blood and the structure of
the eye and brain. Swammerdam was a naturalist who devoted himself to
the study of the habits and the metamorphoses of insects, and he may be
regarded as the founder of this most important branch of scientific
enquiry. His work forms the basis on which all subsequent knowledge on
this subject has been built up.

To say that the school of Dutch painting attained its zenith in the
period of Frederick Henry and the decades which preceded and followed
it, is scarcely necessary. It was the age of Rembrandt. The works of
that great master and of his contemporaries, most of whom were
influenced and many dominated by his genius, are well known to every
lover of art, and are to be seen in every collection of pictures in
Europe. One has, however, to visit the Rijks Museum at Amsterdam and the
Mauritshuis at the Hague to appreciate what an extraordinary outburst of
artistic skill and talent had at this time its birth within the narrow
limits of the northern Netherlands. To the student of Dutch history
these two galleries are a revelation, for there we see 17th century
Holland portrayed before us in every phase of its busy and prosperous
public, social and domestic life. Particularly is this the case with the
portraits of individuals and of civic and gild groups by Rembrandt,
Frans Hals, Van der Helst and their followers, which form an inimitable
series that has rarely been equalled. To realise to what an extent in
the midst of war the fine arts flourished in Holland, a mere list of the
best-known painters of the period will suffice, it tells its own tale.
They are given in the order of their dates: Frans Hals (1584-1666),
Gerard Honthorst (1592-1662), Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Jan Wyvants
(1600-87), Albert Cuyp (1606-72), Jan Lievens (1607-63), Rembrandt van
Rhyn (1608-69), Gerard Terburg (1608-81), Adrian Brouwer (1608-41),
Ferdinand Bol (1609-81), Salomon Koning (1609-74), Andreas Both
(1609-60), Jan Both (1610-62), Adrian van Ostade (1610-85), Bartolomaus
van der Helst (1613-70), Gerard Douw (1613-80), Gabriel Metzu (1615-58),
Govaert Flinck (1615-60), Isaac van Ostade (1617-71), Aart van der Neer
(1619-83), Pieter de Koningh (1619-89), Philip Wouvermans (1620-68),
Pieter van der Hoogh (?), Nicolas Berchem (1624-83), Paul Potter
(1625-54), Jacob Ruysdael (1625-81), Meindert Hobbema (?), Jan Steen
(1626-79), Samuel van Hoogstraeten (1627-78), Ludolf Backhuizen
(1631-1709), Jan van der Meer of Delft (1632-?), Nicholas Maes
(1632-93), William van der Velde (1633-1707), Frans van Mieris
(1635-81), Caspar Netscher (1639-84), Adrian van der Velde (1639-72).

It is strange that little is known of the lives of the great majority of
these men; they are scarcely more than names, but their memory survives
in their works. No better proof could be brought of the general
abundance of money and at the same time of the widespread culture of the
land than the fact that art found among all classes so many patrons. The
aristocratic burgher-magistrates and the rich merchants loved to adorn
their houses with portraits and a choice selection of pictures; it was a
favourite investment of capital, and there was a certain amount of
rivalry among the principal families in a town like Amsterdam in being
possessed of a fine collection. The "Six" collection still remains as an
example upon the walls of the 17th century house of Burgomaster Six,
where it was originally placed. The governing bodies of gilds and
boards, members of corporations, the officers of the town _schutterij_
or of archer companies delighted to have their portraits hung around
their council chambers or halls of assembly. In the well-to-do
farmer-homesteads and even in the dwellings of the poorer classes
pictures were to be found, as one may see in a large number of the
"interiors" which were the favourite subject of the _genre_ painters of
the day. But with all this demand the artists themselves do not seem to
have in any case been highly paid. The prices were low. Even Rembrandt
himself, whose gains were probably much larger than those of any of
his contemporaries, and whose first wife, Saskia Uilenburg, was a woman
of means, became bankrupt in 1656, and this at a time when he was still
in his prime, and his powers at their height. Some of his most famous
pictures were produced at a later date.

During the Thirty Years' War Holland became the centre of the publishing
and book-selling trade; and Leyden and Amsterdam were famed as the
foremost seats of printing in Europe. The devastation of Germany and
the freedom of the press in the United Provinces combined to bring about
this result. The books produced by the Elseviers at Leyden and by Van
Waesberg and Cloppenburch at Amsterdam are justly regarded as fine
specimens of the printer's art, while the maps of Willem Jansz Blaeu and
his Dutch contemporaries were quite unrivalled, and marked a great step
forward in cartography.

This chapter must not conclude without a reference to the part taken by
the Netherlanders in the development of modern music and the modern
stage. The love of music was widespread; and the musicians of the
Netherlands were famed alike as composers and executants. It was from
its earlier home in the Low Countries that the art of modern music
spread into Italy and Germany and indeed into all Europe. Similarly in
the late Middle Ages the people of the Netherlands were noted for their
delight in scenic representations and for the picturesque splendour with
which they were carried out. The literary gilds, named Chambers of
Rhetoric, never took such deep root elsewhere; and in the performance of
Mystery Plays and Moralities and of lighter comic pieces (_chuttementen_
and _cluyten_) many thousands of tradespeople and artisans took part. In
the 17th century all the Chambers of Rhetoric had disappeared with the
single exception of the famous "Old Chamber" at Amsterdam, known as _The
Blossoming Eglantine_, to which the leading spirits of the Golden Age of
Dutch Literature belonged and which presided over the birth of the Dutch
Stage. From the first the stage was popular and well-supported; and the
new theatre of Amsterdam, the Schouburg (completed in 1637), became
speedily renowned for the completeness of its arrangements and the
ability of its actors. Such indeed was their reputation that travelling
companies of Dutch players visited the chief cities of Germany, Austria
and Denmark, finding everywhere a ready welcome and reaping a rich
reward, whilst at Stockholm for a time a permanent Dutch theatre was
established.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XIII

THE STADHOLDERATE OF WILLIAM II.

THE GREAT ASSEMBLY


Upon the death of Frederick Henry of Orange (March, 1647), his only son
succeeded to his titles and estates and also by virtue of the Act of
Survivance to the offices of Stadholder in six provinces and to the
Captain-Generalship and Admiral-Generalship of the Union. William was
but twenty-one years of age and, having been excluded during Frederick
Henry's lifetime from taking any active part in affairs of state, he had
turned his energies into the pursuit of pleasure, and had been leading a
gay and dissolute life. His accession to power was, however, speedily to
prove that he was possessed of great abilities, a masterful will and a
keen and eager ambition. He had strongly disapproved of the trend of the
peace negotiations at Münster, and would have preferred with the help of
the French to have attempted to drive the Spaniards out of the southern
Netherlands. The preliminaries were, however, already settled in the
spring of 1647; and the determination of the province of Holland and
especially of the town of Amsterdam to conclude an advantageous peace
with Spain and to throw over France rendered the opposition of the young
Stadholder unavailing. But William, though he had perforce to acquiesce
in the treaty of Münster, was nevertheless resolved at the earliest
opportunity to undo it. Thus from the outset he found himself in a
pronounced antagonism with the province of Holland, which could only
issue in a struggle for supremacy similar to that with which his uncle
Maurice was confronted in the years that followed the truce of 1609,
and, to a less degree, his father after 1640.

Commerce was the predominant interest of the burgher-aristocracies who
held undisputed sway in the towns of Holland; and they, under the
powerful leadership of Amsterdam, were anxious that the peace they had
secured should not be disturbed. They looked forward to lightening
considerably the heavy load of taxation which burdened them, by reducing
the number of troops and of ships of war maintained by the States. To
this policy the young prince was resolutely opposed, and he had on his
side the prestige of his name and a vast body of popular support even
in Holland itself, among that great majority of the inhabitants, both of
town and country, who were excluded from all share in government and
administration and were generally Orangist in sympathy. He had also with
him the officers of the army and navy and the preachers. His chief
advisers were his cousin William Frederick, Stadholder of Friesland, and
Cornelis van Aerssens (son of Francis) lord of Sommelsdijk. By the
agency of Sommelsdijk he put himself in secret communication with Count
d'Estrades, formerly French ambassador at the Hague, now Governor of
Dunkirk, and through him with Mazarin, with the view of concluding an
alliance with France for the conquest of the Spanish Netherlands, and
for sending a joint expedition to England to overthrow the Parliamentary
forces and establish the Stewarts on the throne. Mazarin was at this
time, however, far too much occupied by his struggle with the Fronde to
listen to the overtures of a young man who had as yet given no proof of
being in a position to give effect to his ambitious proposals.
Nevertheless the prince was in stern earnest. In April, 1648, his
brother-in-law, James, Duke of York, had taken refuge at the Hague, and
was followed in July by the Prince of Wales. William received them with
open arms and, urged on by his wife, the Princess Royal, and by her aunt
the exiled Queen of Bohemia, who with her family was still residing at
the Hague, he became even more eager to assist in effecting a Stewart
restoration than in renewing the war with Spain. The difficulties in his
way were great. In 1648 public opinion in the States on the whole
favoured the Parliamentary cause. But, when the Parliament sent over Dr
Doreslaer and Walter Strickland as envoys to complain of royal ships
being allowed to use Dutch harbours, the States-General, through the
influence of the prince, refused them an audience. The Estates of
Holland on this gave a signal mark of their independence and antagonism
by receiving Doreslaer and forbidding the royal squadron to remain in
any of the waters of the Province.

The news of the trial of King Charles for high-treason brought about a
complete revulsion of feeling. The Prince of Wales himself in person
begged the States-General to intervene on his father's behalf; and the
proposal met with universal approval. It was at once agreed that Adrian
Pauw, the now aged leader of the anti-Orange party in Holland, should go
to London to intercede for the king's life. He was courteously received
on January 26 o.s., and was granted an audience by the House of Commons,
but the decision had already been taken and his efforts were
unavailing. The execution of the king caused a wave of horror to sweep
over the Netherlands, and an address of condolence was offered by the
States-General to the Prince of Wales; but, to meet the wishes of the
delegates of Holland, he was addressed not as King of Great Britain, but
simply as King Charles II, and it was agreed that Joachimi, the resident
ambassador in London, should not be recalled at present. The new English
Government on their part sent over once more Dr Doreslaer with friendly
proposals for drawing the two republics into closer union. Doreslaer,
who had taken part in the trial of Charles I, was specially obnoxious to
the royalist exiles, who had sought refuge in Holland. He landed on May
9. Three days later he was assassinated as he was dining at his hotel.
The murderers, five or six in number, managed to make their escape and
were never apprehended.

Although highly incensed by this outrage, the English Government did not
feel itself strong enough to take decided action. The Estates of Holland
expressed through Joachimi their abhorrence at what had occurred; and
the Parliament instructed Strickland to approach the States-General
again with friendly advances. The States-General refused to grant him an
audience, while receiving the envoy despatched by Charles II from
Scotland to announce his accession. The English Council of State had no
alternative but to regard this as a deliberate insult. Strickland was
recalled and left Holland, July 22. On September 26 Joachimi was ordered
to leave London. The breach between the two countries seemed to be
complete, but the Estates of Holland, who for the sake of their commerce
dreaded the thought of a naval war, did all in their power to work for
an accommodation. They received Strickland in a public audience before
his departure, and they ventured to send a special envoy to Whitehall,
Gerard Schaep, January 22, to treat with the Parliament. By this action
the Provincial Estates flouted the authority of the States-General and
entered into negotiations on their own account, as if they were an
independent State. The Hollanders were anxious to avoid war almost at
any price, but circumstances proved too strong for them.

In order to carry out this pacifist policy the Estates of Holland now
resolved to effect a large reduction of expenditure by disbanding a
portion of the troops and ships. When the peace of Münster was signed
the States possessed an army of 60,000 men, and all parties were agreed
that this large force might safely be reduced. In July 1648, a drastic
reduction was carried out, twenty-five thousand men being disbanded. The
Estates of Holland, however, demanded a further retrenchment of military
charges, but met with the strong opposition of the Prince and his cousin
William Frederick, who declared that an army of at least 30,000 was
absolutely necessary for garrisoning the frontier fortresses and
safeguarding the country against hostile attack. Their views had the
support of all the other provinces, but Holland was obdurate. In Holland
commerce reigned supreme; and the burgher-regents and merchants were
suspicious of the prince's warlike designs and were determined to thwart
them. Finding that the States-General refused to disband at their
dictation some fifty-five companies of the excellent foreign troops who
formed the kernel of the States' army, the Provincial Estates proceeded
to take matters into their own hands, and discharged a body of 600
foreign troops which were paid by the Province. In doing this they were
acting illegally. The old question of the sovereign rights of the
Provinces, which had been settled in 1619 by the sword of Maurice, was
once more raised. The States-General claimed to exercise the sole
authority in military matters. There were not seven armies in the Union,
but one army under the supreme command of the captain-general appointed
by the States-General. The captain-general was now but a young and
inexperienced man, but he had none of the hesitation and indecision
shown by his uncle Maurice in the troubles of 1618-19, and did not
shrink from the conflict with the dominant province to which he was
challenged.

For some time, indeed, wrangling went on. There was a strong minority in
the Estates of Holland opposed to extreme measures; and the
council-pensionary, Jacob Cats, was a moderate man friendly to the House
of Orange. An accommodation was reached on the subject of the disbanding
of the 600 foreign troops, but the conflict was renewed, and in the
middle of 1650 it assumed grave proportions. The heart and soul of the
opposition to the prince was Amsterdam. William had for some time been
urged by his Friesland cousin to take action, since the attitude of
Amsterdam threatened the dissolution of the Union. The prince was at
this time engaged in negotiating with France, but nothing had as yet
been settled, and his projects were not ripe for execution. Nevertheless
it was absolutely necessary for their realisation that the military
forces should not be excessively reduced. Under his influence the
States-General decided that, though the number of troops in the several
regiments should be decreased, the _cadres_ of all regiments with their
full quota of officers should be retained. To this the Estates of
Holland dissented, and finding that they could not prevail, they
determined on a daring step. Orders were sent (June 1, 1650) to the
colonels of the regiments on the Provincial war-sheet to disband their
regiments on pain of stoppage of pay. The colonels refused to take any
orders save from the Council of State and the captain-general. The
prince accordingly, with William Frederick and the Council of State,
appeared in the States-General and appealed to them to uphold the
colonels in their refusal. There could be no question that the Estates
of Holland were hopelessly in the wrong, for their representatives in
the States-General had in 1623,1626,1630 and 1642 voted for the
enforcement on recalcitrant provinces of the full quota at which they
were assessed for the payment of the army of the Union. The
States-General, June 5, therefore determined to send a "notable
deputation" to the towns of Holland. The prince was asked to head the
deputation, the members of which were to be chosen by him; and he was
invested with practically dictatorial powers to take measures for the
keeping of the peace and the maintenance of the Union. In doing this the
Generality were themselves acting _ultra vires_. The States-General was
an assembly consisting of the representatives of the Provincial Estates.
It could deal or treat therefore only with the Estates of the several
provinces, not with the individual towns within a province. In resisting
the interference of the Estates of Holland with matters that concerned
the Union as a whole, they were themselves infringing, by the commission
given to the "notable deputation," the jurisdiction of the Provincial
Estates over their own members.

The prince set out on June 8, and visited all the "privileged" towns.
The result was more than disappointing. The Council of the premier
municipality, Dordrecht, set the example by declaring that they were
answerable only to the Estates of the Province. Schiedam, Alkmaar, Edam
and Monnikendam gave the same reply. Delft and Haarlem were willing to
receive the prince as stadholder, but not the deputation. Amsterdam,
under the influence of the brothers Andries and Cornelis Bicker, went
even further and after some parleying declined to admit either the
deputation or the prince. On June 25 William returned to the Hague
bitterly chagrined by his reception and determined to crush resistance
by force.

The stroke he planned was to seize the representatives of six towns
which had been specially obstinate in their opposition, and at the same
time to occupy Amsterdam with an armed force. His preparations were
quickly made. On July 30 an invitation was sent to Jacob de Witt,
ex-burgomaster of Dordrecht, and five other prominent members of the
Estates of Holland, to visit the prince. On their arrival they were
arrested by the stadholder's guard, and carried off as prisoners to the
Castle of Loevestein. William had meanwhile left the execution of the
_coup-de-main_ against Amsterdam to his cousin William Frederick. The
arrangements for gathering together secretly a large force from various
garrisons were skilfully made, and it was intended at early dawn to
seize unexpectedly one of the gates, and then to march in and get
possession of the town without opposition. The plan, however,
accidentally miscarried. Some of the troops in the night having lost
their way, attracted the notice of a postal messenger on his way to
Amsterdam, who reported their presence to the burgomaster, Cornelis
Bicker. Bicker at once took action. The gates were closed, the council
summoned, and vigorous measures of defence taken. William Frederick
therefore contented himself with surrounding the city, so as to prevent
ingress or egress from the gates. On the next morning, July 31, William,
having learnt that the surprise attack had failed, set out for
Amsterdam, determined to compel its surrender. The council, fearing the
serious injury a siege would cause to its commerce, opened negotiations
(August 1). The prince, however, insisting on unconditional submission,
no other course was open. Amsterdam undertook to offer no further
opposition to the proposals of the States-General, and was compelled to
agree to the humiliating demand of the stadholder that the brothers
Bicker should not only resign their posts in the municipal government,
but should be declared ineligible for any official position in the
future.

The Prince of Orange had now secured the object at which he had aimed.
His authority henceforth rested on a firm basis. His opponents had been
overthrown and humiliated. The Estates of six provinces thanked him for
the success of his efforts, and he on his part met the general wish for
economy by agreeing to a reduction of the foreign troops in the pay of
the States on the distinct understanding that only the States-General
had the right to disband any portion of the forces, not the provincial
paymasters. In the flush of triumph William at the end of August left
the Hague for his country seat at Dieren, nominally for hunting and for
rest, in reality to carry on secret negotiations with France for the
furtherance of his warlike designs. The complete defeat of Charles II at
the battle of Worcester, September 3, must have been a severe blow to
his hopes for the restoration of the Stuarts, but it did not deter him
from pursuing his end. With d'Estrades, now Governor of Dunkirk, the
prince secretly corresponded, and through him matters were fully
discussed with the French Government. In a letter written from the Hague
on October 2, William expressed a strong wish that d'Estrades should
come in person to visit him; and it was the intention of d'Estrades to
accept this invitation as soon as he had received from Paris the copy of
a draft-treaty, which was being prepared. This draft-treaty, which was
probably drawn up by Mazarin, reached d'Estrades in the course of
October, but circumstantial evidence proves that it was never seen by
William. Its provisions were as follows. Both Powers were to declare war
on Spain and attack Flanders and Antwerp. The Dutch were to besiege
Antwerp, which city, if taken, was to become the personal appanage of
the Prince, of Orange. When the Spanish power in the southern
Netherlands had been overthrown, then France and the United Provinces
were to send a joint expedition to England to place Charles II on the
throne. Whether the prince would have approved these proposals we know
not; in all probability he would have declined to commit himself to a
plan of such a far-reaching and daring character, for he was aware of
the limitations of his power, and knew that even his great influence
would have been insufficient to obtain the consent of the States-General
to an immediate renewal of war. Speculation however is useless, for an
inexorable fate raised other issues.

On October 8 the stadholder returned to Dieren, on the 27th he fell ill
with an attack of small-pox. He was at once taken back to the Hague and
for some days he progressed favourably, but the illness suddenly took a
turn for the worse and he expired on November 6. The news of the
prince's death fell like a shock upon the country. Men could scarcely
believe their ears. William was only 24 years old; and, though his wife
gave birth to a son a week later, he left no heir capable of succeeding
to the high offices that he had held. The event was the more tragic,
following, as it did, so swiftly upon the _coup d'état_ of the previous
summer, and because of the youth and high promise of the deceased
prince. William II was undoubtedly endowed with high and brilliant
qualities of leadership, and he had proved his capacity for action with
unusual decision and energy. Had his life not been cut short, the course
of European politics might have been profoundly changed.

As was to be expected, the burgher-regents of Holland, when once the
first shock was over, lost no time in taking advantage of the
disappearance of the man who had so recently shown that he possessed the
power of the sword and meant to be their master. The States-General at
once met and requested the Provincial Estates to take steps to deal with
the situation. The Estates of Holland proposed that an extraordinary
assembly should be summoned. This was agreed to by the States-General;
and "the Great Assembly" met on January 11, 1651. In the meantime the
Holland regents had been acting. The Estates of that province were
resolved to abolish the stadholderates and to press the States-General
to suspend the offices of Captain-and Admiral-General of the Union.
Utrecht, Gelderland, Overyssel and Zeeland were induced to follow their
example. Groningen, however, elected William Frederick of Friesland to
be stadholder in the place of his cousin.

The "States party" in Holland had for their leaders the aged Adrian
Pauw, who had for so many years been the moving spirit of the opposition
in powerful Amsterdam to Frederick Henry's authority, and Jacob de Witt,
the imprisoned ex-burgomaster of Dordrecht. The "Orange party" was for
the moment practically impotent. Stunned by the death of their youthful
chief, they were hopelessly weakened and disorganised by the
dissensions and rivalries which surrounded the cradle of the infant
Prince of Orange. The princess royal quarrelled with her mother-in-law,
Amalia von Solms, over the guardianship of the child. Mary asserted her
right to be sole guardian; the dowager-princess wished to have her
son-in-law, the Elector of Brandenburg, associated with her as
co-guardian. After much bickering the question was at last referred to
the Council of State, who appointed the princess royal, the
dowager-princess and the elector jointly to the office. This decision
however was far from effecting a reconciliation between the mother and
the grandmother. Mary did not spare the Princess Amalia the humiliation
of knowing that she regarded her as inferior in rank and social standing
to the eldest daughter of a King of England. There was rivalry also
between the male relatives William Frederick, Stadholder of Friesland,
and Joan Maurice, the "Brazilian," both of them being ambitious of
filling the post of captain-general, either in succession to the dead
prince, or as lieutenant in the name of his son. In these circumstances
a large number of the more moderate Orangists were ready to assist the
"States party" in preventing any breach of the peace and securing that
the government of the republic should be carried on, if not in the
manner they would have wished, at least on stable and sound lines, so
far as possible in accordance with precedent.

The Great Assembly met on January 11,1651, in the Count's Hall in the
Binnenhof at the Hague. The sittings lasted until September, for there
were many important matters to be settled on which the representatives
of the seven provinces were far from being in entire agreement. The
chief controversies centred around the interpretation of the Utrecht Act
of Union, the Dordrecht principles, and military affairs. The last-named
proved the most thorny. The general result was decentralisation, and the
strengthening of the Provincial Estates at the expense of the
States-General. It was agreed that the established religion should be
that formulated at Dordrecht, that the sects should be kept in order,
and the placards against Roman Catholicism enforced. In accordance with
the proposal of Holland there was to be no captain-or admiral-general.
Brederode, with the rank of field-marshal, was placed at the head of the
army. The Provincial Estates were entrusted with considerable powers
over the troops in their pay. The effect of this, and of the decision
of five provinces to dispense with a stadholder and to transfer his
power and prerogatives to the Estates, was virtually the establishment
in permanent authority of a number of close municipal corporations. It
meant the supersession alike of monarchy and popular government, both of
which were to a certain extent represented by the authority vested in,
and the influence exerted by, the stadholder princes of Orange, in
favour of a narrow oligarchic rule. Moreover, in this confederation of
seven semi-sovereign provinces, Holland, which contributed to the
strength, the finances and the commerce of the Union more than all the
other provinces added together, obtained now, in the absence of an
"eminent head," that position of predominance, during the stadholderless
period which now follows, for which its statesmen had so long striven.
When the amiable Jacob Cats, the Council-Pensionary of Holland, closed
the Great Assembly in a flowery speech describing the great work that it
had accomplished, a new chapter in the history of the republic may be
said to have begun.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XIV

THE RISE OF JOHN DE WITT.

THE FIRST ENGLISH WAR


Before the sittings of the Great Assembly had come to an end, a young
statesman, destined to play the leading part in the government of the
Dutch republic during two decades, had already made his mark. After the
death of William II Jacob de Witt was not only reinstated in his former
position at Dordrecht but on December 21, 1650, John, his younger son,
at the age of 25 years was appointed pensionary of that town. In this
capacity he was _ex officio_ spokesman of the deputation sent to
represent Dordrecht in the Great Assembly. His knowledge, his readiness
and persuasiveness of speech, his industry and his gifts at once of
swift insight and orderly thoroughness, quickly secured for him a
foremost place both in the deliberations of the Assembly and in the
conduct of the negotiations with the English Parliament, which at this
time required very delicate handling.

The many disputes, which had arisen between England and the United
Provinces during the period between the accession of James I and the
battle of the Downs in 1639, had never been settled. The minds of
Englishmen were occupied with other and more pressing matters while the
Civil War lasted. But the old sores remained open. Moreover the refusal
of the States-General to receive the Parliamentary envoys, the murder of
Doreslaer, and the protection afforded to royalist refugees, had been
additional causes of resentment; but the English Council had not felt
strong enough to take action. The death of the Prince of Orange,
following so quickly upon the complete overthrow of Charles II at
Worcester, appeared at first to open out a prospect of friendlier
relations between the two neighbouring republics. In January, 1651, the
Great Assembly formally recognised the Commonwealth and determined to
send back to his old post in London the veteran ambassador, Joachimi,
who had been recalled. The English government on their part anticipated
his return by despatching, in March, Oliver St John and Walter
Strickland on a special embassy to the Hague. They reached that city
on March 27, 1651, and presented their credentials to the Great Assembly
two days later. Their reception in the streets was anything but
favourable. The feeling among the populace was predominantly Orangist
and Stewart; and St John and Strickland, greeted with loud cries of
"regicides" and many abusive epithets, remembering the fate of
Doreslaer, were in fear of their lives.

On April 4 a conference was opened between the envoys and six
commissioners appointed by the States to consider the proposals of the
English Government for "a more strict and intimate alliance and union"
between the two states. The Dutch quickly perceived that what the
English really wanted was nothing less than such a binding alliance or
rather coalition as would practically merge the lesser state in the
greater. But the very idea of such a loss of the independence that they
had only just won was to the Netherlanders unthinkable. The negotiations
came to a deadlock. Meanwhile St John and Strickland continued to have
insults hurled at them by Orangists and royalist refugees, foremost
amongst them Prince Edward, son of the Queen of Bohemia. The Parliament
threatened to recall the envoys, but consented that they should remain,
on the undertaking of the Estates of Holland to protect them from
further attacks, and to punish the offenders. New proposals were
accordingly made for an offensive and defensive alliance (without any
suggestion of a union), coupled with the condition that both States
should bind themselves not to allow the presence within their boundaries
of avowed enemies of the other--in other words the expulsion of the
members and adherents of the house of Stewart, including the princess
royal and the Queen of Bohemia with their children. In the face of the
strong popular affection for the infant Prince of Orange and his mother,
even the Estates of Holland dared not consider such terms, and the
States-General would have angrily rejected them. After some further
parleying therefore about fisheries and trade restrictions, it was felt
that no agreement could be reached; and St John and Strickland returned
to England on July 31, 1651.

Their failure created a very bad impression upon the Parliament. All the
old complaints against the Dutch were revived; and, as they had refused
the offer of friendship that had been made to them, it was resolved that
strong measures should be taken to obtain redress for past grievances
and for the protection of English trade interests.

At the instance of St John, the famous Navigation Act was passed by the
Parliament, October 9, 1651. This Act struck a mortal blow at the Dutch
carrying trade by forbidding the importation of foreign goods into
English ports except in English bottoms, or in those of the countries
which had produced the goods. Scarcely less injurious was the
prohibition to aliens to fish in British waters, and the withdrawal of
the rights based on the _Magnus Intercursus_, for the maintenance of
which Dutch statesmen had so long and strenuously fought. There was
consternation in Holland, and the States-General determined to send a
special embassy to London. At the same time the Estates of Holland
replaced Jacob Cats by appointing the aged Adrian Pauw, a man in whose
ripe judgment they had confidence, to the office of council-pensionary.
The chosen envoys were Jacob Cats and Gerard Schaep from Holland, Paulus
van der Perre from Zeeland, all three representative of the two maritime
and trading provinces. They arrived in England on December 27, 1651.
Their instructions were to secure the withdrawal of the Navigation Act
and to try to negotiate a new treaty of commerce on the basis of the
_Magnus Intercursus_. They were also to protest strongly against the
action of English privateers, who, having been given letters of marque
to prey upon French commerce, had been stopping and searching Dutch
merchantmen on the ground that they might be carrying French goods. The
English government, however, met the Dutch complaints by raking up the
long list of grievances that had stirred up a bitter feeling of popular
hatred against the United Provinces in England, and by demanding
reparation. They further demanded that Dutch commanders should
acknowledge England's sovereignty by striking flag and sail and by
firing a salute, whenever any of their squadrons met English ships "in
the narrow seas."

It was these last two questions, the right of search and the striking of
the flag, that were to be the real causes of the outbreak of a war that
was desired by neither of the two governments. But popular feeling and
the course of events was too strong for them. The news of the seizure of
their vessels, not merely by privateers, but by an English squadron
under Ayscue in the West Indies, had caused intense indignation and
alarm in Holland, and especially in Amsterdam. Pressure was brought to
bear on the States-General and the Admiralties, who in pursuance of
economy had reduced the fleet to seventy-five ships. It was resolved
therefore, on February 22, to fit out an additional 150 vessels. The
Council of State, on hearing of this, began also to make ready for
eventualities. Negotiations were still proceeding between the two
countries, when Martin Tromp, the victor of the battle of the Downs, now
lieutenant-admiral of Holland, was sent to sea with fifty ships and
instructions to protect Dutch merchantmen from interference, and to see
that the States suffered no affront. Nothing was actually said about the
striking of the flag.

The situation was such that an armed collision was almost certain to
happen with such an admiral as Tromp in command. It came suddenly
through a misunderstanding. The Dutch admiral while cruising past Dover
met, on May 29, fifteen English ships under Blake. The latter fired a
warning shot across the bows of Tromp's ship to signify that the flag
should be struck. Tromp declared that he had given orders to strike the
flag, but that Blake again fired before there was time to carry them
out. Be this as it may, the two fleets were soon engaged in a regular
fight, and, the English being reinforced, Tromp withdrew at nightfall to
the French coast, having lost two ships. Great was the anger aroused in
England, where the Dutch were universally regarded as the aggressors. In
the Netherlands, where the peace party was strong, many were disposed to
blame Tromp despite his protests. Adrian Pauw himself left hastily for
London, John de Witt being appointed to act as his deputy during his
absence. Pauw's strenuous efforts however to maintain peace were all in
vain, despite the strong leanings of Cromwell towards a peaceful
solution. But popular feeling on both sides was now aroused. The
States-General, fearing that the Orangists would stir up a revolt, if
humiliating terms were submitted to, stiffened their attitude. The
result was that the envoys left London on June 30, 1652; and war was
declared.

The Dutch statesmen who sought to avoid hostilities were right. All the
advantages were on the side of their enemies. The Dutch merchant-fleets
covered the seas, and the welfare of the land depended on commerce. The
English had little to lose commercially. Their war-fleet too, though
inferior in the number of ships, was superior in almost all other
respects. The Stuarts had devoted great attention to the fleet and would
have done more but for lack of means. Charles' much abused ship-money
was employed by him for the creation of the first English professional
navy. It had been largely increased by the Parliament after 1648; and
its "generals," Blake, Penn and Ayscue, had already acquired much
valuable experience in their encounters with the royalist squadron under
Prince Rupert, and in long cruises to the West Indies for the purpose of
forcing the English colonies to acknowledge parliamentary rule. The
crews therefore were well trained, and the ships were larger, stronger
and better armed than those of the Dutch. The position of England, lying
as it did athwart the routes by which the Dutch merchant-fleets must
sail, was a great advantage. Even more important was the advantage of
having a central control, whereas in the Netherlands there were five
distinct Boards of Admiralty, to some extent jealous of each other, and
now lacking the supreme direction of an admiral-general.

The war began by a series of English successes and of Dutch misfortunes.
Early in July, 1652, Blake at the head of sixty ships set sail for the
north to intercept the Dutch Baltic commerce, and to destroy their
fishing fleet off the north of Scotland. He left Ayscue with a small
squadron to guard the mouth of the Thames. Tromp meanwhile had put to
sea at the head of nearly a hundred ships. Ayscue succeeded in
intercepting a fleet of Dutch merchantmen near Calais, all of them being
captured or burnt, while Blake with the main force off the north coast
of Scotland destroyed the Dutch fishing fleet and their convoy. After
these first blows against the enemy's commerce good fortune continued to
attend the English. Tromp was prevented from following Blake by strong
northerly winds. He then turned upon Ayscue, whose small force he must
have overwhelmed, but for a sudden change to a southerly gale. The Dutch
admiral now sailed northwards and (July 25) found the English fleet off
the Shetlands. A violent storm arose, from the force of which Blake was
protected, while the Dutch vessels were scattered far and wide. On the
following day, out of ninety-nine ships Tromp could only collect
thirty-five, and had no alternative but to return home to refit.

Before Tromp's return another Dutch fleet under Michael de Ruyter had
put to sea to escort a number of outward-bound merchantmen through the
Channel, and to meet and convoy back the home-coming ships. He had
twenty-three warships and three fireships under his command. Ayscue had
previously sailed up Channel with forty men-of-war and five fireships
for a similar purpose. The two fleets met on August 16, and despite his
inferiority of force De Ruyter forced Ayscue to withdraw into Plymouth,
and was able to bring his convoy home to safety.

The ill-success of Tromp, though he was in no way to blame for it,
caused considerable alarm and discontent in Holland. His enemies of the
States party in that province took advantage of it to suspend the
gallant old seaman from his command. He was an Orangist; and, as the
Orange partisans were everywhere clamorously active, the admiral was
suspect. In his place Cornelisz Witte de With was appointed, a capable
sailor, but disliked in the fleet as much as Tromp was beloved. De With
effected a junction with De Ruyter and with joint forces they attacked
Blake on October 8, near the shoal known as the Kentish Knock. The
English fleet was considerably more powerful than the Dutch, and the
desertion of De With by some twenty ships decided the issue. The Dutch
had to return home with some loss. The English were elated with their
victory and thought that they would be safe from further attack until
the spring. Blake accordingly was ordered to send a squadron of twenty
sail to the Mediterranean, where the Dutch admiral Jan van Galen held
the command of the sea. But they were deceived in thinking that the
struggle in the Channel was over for the winter. The deserters at the
Kentish Knock were punished, but the unpopularity of De With left the
authorities with no alternative but to offer the command-in-chief once
more to Martin Tromp. Full of resentment though he was at the bad
treatment he had received, Tromp was too good a patriot to refuse. At
the end of November the old admiral at the head of 100 warships put to
sea for the purpose of convoying some 450 merchantmen through the
Straits. Stormy weather compelled him to send the convoy with an escort
into shelter, but he himself with sixty ships set out to seek the
English fleet, which lay in the Downs. After some manoeuvring the two
fleets met on December 10, off Dungeness. A stubborn fight took place,
but this time it was some of the English ships that were defaulters.
The result was the complete victory of the Dutch; and Blake's fleet,
severely damaged, retreated under cover of the night into Dover roads.
Tromp was now for a time master of the Channel and commerce to and from
the ports of Holland and Zeeland went on unimpeded, while many English
prizes were captured.

This state of things was however not to last long. Towards the end of
February, 1653, Blake put to sea with nearly eighty ships, and on the
25th off Portland met Tromp at the head of a force nearly equal to his
own in number. But the Dutch admiral was convoying more than 150
merchantmen and he had moreover been at sea without replenishment of
stores ever since the fight at Dungeness, while the English had come
straight from port. The fight, which on the part of the Dutch consisted
of strong rear-guard actions, had lasted for two whole days, when Tromp
found that his powder had run out and that on the third day more than
half his fleet were unable to continue the struggle. But, inspiring his
subordinates De Ruyter, Evertsen and Floriszoon with his own indomitable
courage, Tromp succeeded by expert seamanship in holding off the enemy
and conducting his convoy with small loss into safety. Four Dutch
men-of-war were taken and five sunk; the English only lost two ships.

Meanwhile both nations had been getting sick of the war. The Dutch were
suffering terribly from the serious interference with their commerce and
carrying trade and from the destruction of the important fisheries
industry, while the English on their side were shut out from the Baltic,
where the King of Denmark, as the ally of the United Provinces, had
closed the Sound, and from the Mediterranean, where Admiral van Galen,
who lost his life in the fight, destroyed a British squadron off Leghorn
(March 23). In both countries there was a peace party. Cromwell had
always wished for a closer union with the United Provinces and was
averse to war. In the Dutch republic the States party, especially in
Holland the chief sufferer by the war, was anxious for a cessation of
hostilities; and it found its leader in the youthful John de Witt, who
on the death of Adrian Pauw on February 21, 1653, had been appointed
council-pensionary. Cromwell took pains to let the Estates of Holland
know his favourable feelings towards them by sending over, in February,
a private emissary, Colonel Dolman, a soldier who had served in the
Netherland wars. On his part John de Witt succeeded in persuading the
Estates of Holland to send secretly, without the knowledge of the
States-General, letters to the English Council of State and the
Parliament expressing their desire to open negotiations. Thus early did
the new council-pensionary initiate a form of diplomacy in which he was
to prove himself an adept. This first effort was not a success. The
Parliament published the letter with the title "Humble Supplication of
the States of Holland." The indignation of the Orange partisans was
great, and they threatened internal disturbances throughout the country.
Such however was the skill of De Witt that, on Parliament showing a
willingness to resume the negotiations that had been broken off in the
previous summer, he induced the States-General by a bare majority (four
provinces to three) to send a conciliatory letter, the date of which
(April 30, 1653) coincided with Cromwell's forcible dissolution of the
Rump Parliament and the assumption by him, with the support of the army,
of dictatorial powers. The English Council of State, however, was well
informed of the serious economical pressure of the war upon Holland; and
their insistence now on the full satisfaction of all the English demands
made a continuation of hostilities inevitable.

Tromp, after successfully bringing in two large convoys of merchantmen,
encountered (June 12), near the Gabbard, the English fleet under Monk
and Deane. Each fleet numbered about 100 sail, but the Dutch ships were
inferior in size, solidity and weight of metal. For two days the fight
was obstinately and fiercely contested, but on Blake coming up with a
reinforcement of thirteen fresh ships, Tromp was obliged to retreat,
having lost twenty ships. He complained bitterly, as did his
vice-admirals De Ruyter and De With, to the Board of Admiralty of the
inferiority of the vessels of his fleet, as compared with those of the
adversary.

The English now instituted a blockade of the Dutch coast, which had the
effect of reducing to desperate straits a land whose welfare and
prosperity depended wholly on commerce. Amsterdam was ruined. In these
circumstances direct negotiation was perforce attempted. Four envoys
were sent representing the three maritime provinces. At first it seemed
impossible that any common ground of agreement could be found. Cromwell
was obsessed with the idea of a politico-religious union between the two
republics, which would have meant the extinction of Dutch independence.
The Council of State met the Dutch envoys with the proposal _una gens,
una respublica,_ which nothing but sheer conquest and dire necessity
would ever induce the Dutch people to accept. Accordingly the war went
on, though the envoys did not leave London, hoping still that some
better terms might be offered. But in order to gain breathing space for
the efforts of the negotiators, one thing was essential--the breaking
of the blockade. The Admiralties made a supreme effort to refit and
reinforce their fleet, but it lay in two portions; eighty-five sail
under Tromp in the Maas, thirty-one under De With in the Texel. Monk
with about 100 ships lay between them to prevent their junction. On
August 4 Tromp sailed out and, after a rearguard action off Katwijk,
out-manoeuvred the English commander and joined De With. He now turned
and with superior numbers attacked Monk off Scheveningen. The old hero
fell mortally wounded at the very beginning of what proved to be an
unequal fight. After a desperate struggle the Dutch retired with very
heavy loss. Monk's fleet also was so crippled that he returned home to
refit. The action in which Tromp fell thus achieved the main object for
which it was fought, for it freed the Dutch coast from blockade. It was,
moreover, the last important battle in the war. The States, though much
perplexed to find a successor to Martin Tromp, were so far from being
discouraged that great energy was shown in reorganising the fleet. Jacob
van Wassenaer, lord of Obdam, was appointed lieutenant-admiral of
Holland, with De Ruyter and Evertsen under him as vice-admirals. De With
retained his old command of a detached squadron, with which he safely
convoyed a large fleet of East Indiamen round the north of Scotland into
harbour. After this there were only desultory operations on both sides
and no naval engagement.

Meanwhile negotiations had been slowly dragging on. The accession of
Cromwell to supreme power in December, 1653, with the title of Lord
Protector seemed to make the prospects of the negotiations brighter, for
the new ruler of England had always professed himself an opponent of the
war, which had shattered his fantastic dream of a union between the two
republics. Many conferences took place, but the Protector's attitude and
intentions were ambiguous and difficult to divine. The fear of an Orange
restoration appears to have had a strange hold on his imagination and to
have warped at this time the broad outlook of the statesman. At last
Cromwell formulated his proposals in twenty-seven articles. The demands
were those of the victor, and were severe. All the old disputes were to
be settled in favour of England. An annual sum was to be paid for the
right of fishing; compensation to be made for "the massacre of Amboina"
and the officials responsible for it punished; the number of warships in
English waters was to be limited; the flag had to be struck when
English ships were met and the right of search to be permitted. These
demands, unpalatable as they were, might at least have furnished a basis
of settlement, but there was one demand besides these which was
impossible. Article 12 stipulated that the Prince of Orange should not
at any time hold any of the offices or dignities which had been held by
his ancestors, or be appointed to any military command. De Witt, in
whose hands were all the threads of the negotiations, was perfectly
aware that it would be useless to present such proposals to the
States-General. Not only would they indignantly reject them, but he had
not the slightest hope of getting any single province, even Holland, to
allow a foreign power to interfere with their internal affairs and to
bid them to treat with harsh ingratitude the infant-heir of a family to
which the Dutch people owed so deep a debt. There was nothing for it but
to prepare for a vigorous resumption of the war. Strong efforts were
therefore made at De Witt's instigation to increase the fleet and secure
the active co-operation of Denmark and France, both friendly to the
States. But Cromwell really wanted peace and showed himself ready to
yield on certain minor points, but he continued to insist on the
exclusion of the Prince of Orange. Not till the Dutch envoys had
demanded their passports did the Protector give way so far as to say he
would be content to have the exclusion guaranteed by a secret article.

What followed forms one of the strangest chapters in the history of
diplomacy. De Witt had all this time been keeping up, in complete
secrecy, a private correspondence with the leading envoy, his confidant
Van Beverningh. Through Van Beverningh he was able to reach the private
ear of Cromwell, and to enter into clandestine negotiations with him.
The council-pensionary knew well the hopelessness of any attempt to get
the assent of the States-General to the proposed exclusion, even in a
secret article. Van Beverningh was instructed to inform Cromwell of the
state of public feeling on this point, with the result that the
Protector gave the envoy to understand that he would be satisfied if the
Estates of Holland alone would affirm a declaration that the Prince
should never be appointed stadholder or captain-general. Whether this
concession was offered by Cromwell _proprio motu_ or whether it was in
the first instance suggested to him by De Witt through Van Beverningh is
unknown. In any case the council-pensionary, being convinced of the
necessity of peace, resolved to secure it by playing a very deep and
dangerous game. Not only must the whole affair be kept absolutely from
the cognisance of the States-General, but also De Witt was fully aware
that the assent of the Estates of Holland to the proposed exclusion
article could only be obtained with the greatest difficulty. He was to
prove himself a very past master in the art of diplomatic chicanery and
intrigue.

The council-pensionary first set to work to have the treaty, from which
the exclusion article had been cut out, ratified rapidly by the
States-General, before bringing the secret article to the knowledge of
the Estates of Holland. The Estates adjourned for a recess on April 21,
1654. On the following day he presented the treaty to the
States-General, and such was his persuasive skill that he accomplished
the unprecedented feat of getting this dilatory body to accept the
conditions of peace almost without discussion. On April 23 the treaty
ratified and signed was sent back to London. Only one article aroused
opposition (Art. 32), the so-called "temperament clause"; but Cromwell
had insisted upon it. By this article the States-General and the
Provincial Estates separately undertook that every stadholder,
captain-general or commander of military or naval forces should be
required to take an oath to observe the treaty. Meanwhile De Witt had
received a letter from Van Beverningh and his colleague Nieuwpoort
addressed to the Estates of Holland (not at the moment in session)
stating that Cromwell refused on his part to ratify the treaty until he
received the Act of Exclusion[8] from the Estates, who were until now
wholly ignorant that any such proposal would be made to them.

The cleverness and skill now shown by the council-pensionary were truly
extraordinary. A summons was sent out to the Estates to meet on April 28
without any reason being assigned. The members on assembly were sworn to
secrecy, and then the official letter from London was read to them. The
news that Cromwell refused to sign the treaty until he received the
assent of the Province of Holland to the Act of Exclusion came upon the
Estates like a thunder-bolt. The sudden demand caused something like
consternation, and the members asked to be allowed to consider the
matter with their principals before taking so momentous a decision.
Three days were granted but, as it was essential to prevent publicity,
it was settled that only the burgomasters should be consulted, again
under oath of secrecy. At the meeting on May 1 another despatch from Van
Beverningh was read in which the envoy stated that the demand of
Cromwell--that the Act should be placed in his hands within two days
after the ratification of the treaty--was peremptory and threatening.
Unless he received the Act he would consider the treaty as not binding
upon him. Using all his powers of advocacy, De Witt succeeded after an
angry debate in securing a majority for the Act. Five towns however
obstinately refused their assent, and claimed that it could not be
passed without it. But De Witt had made up his mind to risk illegality,
and overruled their protest. The Act was declared to have been passed
and was on May 5 sent to Van Beverningh and Nieuwpoort with instructions
not to deliver it until circumstances compelled them to do so. The
proclamation of peace followed amidst general rejoicing both in England
and the Netherlands; but for some five weeks the existence of the Act
was unknown to the States-General, and during that period, as a fact, it
remained in Van Beverningh's possession still undelivered.

Early in June a bribe induced one of De Witt's clerks to betray the
secret to Count William Frederick. The news soon spread, and loud was
the outcry of the Orange partisans and of the two princesses, who at
once addressed a remonstrance to the States-General. All the other
provinces strongly protested against the action of the Estates of
Holland and of the council-pensionary. De Witt attempted to defend
himself and the Estates, by vague statements, avoiding the main issue,
but insisting that nothing illegal had been done. His efforts were in
vain. On June 6 the States-General passed a resolution that the envoys
in England should be ordered to send back at once all the secret
instructions they had received from Holland, and the Act of Exclusion.
Meanwhile the Estates of Holland themselves, frightened at the clamour
which had been aroused, began to show signs of defection. They went so
far as to pass a vote of thanks to the envoys for not having delivered
the Act to Cromwell. De Witt's position appeared hopeless. He extricated
himself and outwitted his opponents by the sheer audacity and cleverness
of the steps that he took. His efforts to prevent the resolution of the
States-General from taking immediate effect proving unavailing, he put
forward the suggestion that on account of its importance the despatch
should be sent to the envoys in cipher. This was agreed to, and on June
7 the document was duly forwarded to London by the council-pensionary;
but he enclosed a letter from himself to Van Beverningh and Nieuwpoort
informing them that the Estates of Holland assented to the request made
by the States-General, and that they were to send back the secret
correspondence and also the Act, _if it were still undelivered_. The
result answered to his expectations. While the clerk was laboriously
deciphering the despatch, the envoys read between the lines of De Witt's
letter, and without a moment's delay went to Whitehall and placed the
Act in Cromwell's hands. The States-General had thus no alternative
between acceptance of the _fait accompli_ and the risk of a renewal of
the war. No further action was taken, and the Protector professed
himself satisfied with a guarantee of such doubtful validity.

It is impossible to withhold admiration from De Witt's marvellous
diplomatic dexterity, and from the skill and courage with which he
achieved his end in the face of obstacles and difficulties that seemed
insurmountable; but for the course of double-dealing and chicanery by
which he triumphed, the only defence that can be offered is that the
council-pensionary really believed that peace was an absolute necessity
for his country, and that peace could only be maintained at the cost of
the Act of Exclusion. Whether or no Cromwell would have renewed the war,
had the Act been withdrawn, it is impossible to say. There is, however,
every reason to believe that De Witt was prompted to take the risks he
did by purely patriotic motives, and not through spite against the house
of Orange. Be this as it may, the part that he now played was bitterly
resented, not merely by the Orange partisans, but by popular opinion
generally in the United Provinces, and it was never forgiven.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XV

THE ADMINISTRATION OF JOHN DE WITT 1654-1665

FROM THE PEACE OF WESTMINSTER TO THE OUT-BREAK OF THE SECOND ENGLISH WAR


The position of John de Witt in July, 1654, was a difficult one. The
conduct of the council-pensionary in the matter of the Act of Exclusion
was openly attacked in the States-General. Had the leaders of the Orange
party been united, the attack might have had serious consequences; but
notoriously the princess royal, the princess dowager and William
Frederick were on bad terms, and De Witt, with his usual adroitness,
knew well how to play off one against another. To meet the accusations
of his assailants in the States-General he drew up however an elaborate
defence of the action taken by the Estates of Holland and by himself.
The document bore the title "Deduction of the Estates of Holland." It
was laborious rather than convincing, and it did not convince opponents.
Nevertheless, though resentment continued to smoulder, the fact that
peace had been assured soon reconciled the majority to allow the
doubtful means by which it had been obtained to be overlooked. The tact,
the persuasiveness, the great administrative powers of the
council-pensionary effected the rest; and his influence from this time
forward continued to grow, until he attained to such a control over
every department of government, as not even Oldenbarneveldt had
possessed in the height of his power.

John de Witt was possibly not the equal of the famous Advocate in sheer
capacity for great affairs, but he had practical abilities of the
highest order as a financier and organiser, and he combined with these
more solid qualifications a swiftness of courageous decision in moments
of emergency which his almost infinite resourcefulness in extricating
himself from difficult and perilous situations, enabled him to carry to
a successful issue. His marriage in February, 1655, to Wendela Bicker,
who belonged to one of the most important among the ruling
burgher-families of Amsterdam, brought to him enduring domestic
happiness. It was likewise of no slight political value. Andries and
Cornelis Bicker, who had headed the opposition to William II and had
been declared by him in 1650 incapable of holding henceforth any
municipal office, were her uncles; while her maternal uncle, Cornelis de
Graeff, was a man of weight and influence both in his native town and in
the Provincial Estates. By this close relationship with such leading
members of the regent-aristocracy of Amsterdam the council-pensionary
became almost as secure of the support of the commercial capital in the
north of Holland, as he was already of Dordrecht in the south. Two of
his cousins, Slingelandt and Vivien, were in turn his successors, as
pensionaries of Dordrecht, while for his predecessor in that post,
Nicolas Ruysch, he obtained the extremely influential office of
_griffier_ or secretary to the States-General. Nor did he scruple to
exercise his powers of patronage for other members of his family. His
father, Jacob de Witt, was made a member of the Chamber of Finance; his
elder brother, Cornelis, Ruwaard of Putten. By these and other
appointments of men who were his friends and supporters, to important
positions diplomatic, military and naval, De Witt contrived to
strengthen more and more his personal authority and influence. And yet
in thus favouring his relatives and friends, let us not accuse De Witt
of base motives or of venality. He firmly believed in his own ability to
serve the State, and, without doubt, he was convinced that it was for
the best interest of his country for him to create for himself, as far
as was possible amidst the restrictions by which he was hemmed in on
every side, a free field of diplomatic and administrative action. No
one, not even his bitterest enemies, ever charged John de Witt with
personal corruption. Throughout his whole career he lived quietly and
unostentatiously, as a simple citizen, on a very moderate income, and he
died a poor man.

One of the first cares of the council-pensionary after the peace with
England was to deal with the internal troubles which were disturbing
certain parts of the land, notably Groningen, Zeeland and Overyssel. In
the last-named province a serious party struggle arose out of the
appointment of a strong Orangist, named Haersolte, to the post of Drost
or governor of Twente. The Estates were split up, the Orange partisans
meeting at Zwolle, the anti-Orange at Deventer. Both enlisted troops,
but those of Zwolle were the stronger and laid siege to Deventer. The
victorious Orangists then nominated William III as stadholder with
William Frederick as his lieutenant. At last, after three years' strife,
the parties called in De Witt and William Frederick as mediators. But De
Witt was far too clever for the Friesland stadholder. It happened that
the post of field-marshal had just fallen vacant by the death of
Brederode. Both William Frederick and his cousin Joan Maurice aspired to
the office. The council-pensionary induced his co-mediator, with the
hope of becoming Brederode's successor, to yield on all points.
Haersolte was deprived of office; the prince's appointment as stadholder
was suspended until his majority; and therefore William Frederick could
not act as his lieutenant. Thus peace was restored to Overyssel, but
William Frederick was not appointed field-marshal. In the other
provinces the tact and skill of De Witt were equally successful in
allaying discord. He would not have been so successful had the Orange
party not been hopelessly divided and had it possessed capable leaders.

As an administrator and organiser the council-pensionary at once applied
himself to two most important tasks, financial reform and naval
reconstruction. The burden of debt upon the province of Holland, which
had borne so large a part of the charges of the war, was crushing. The
rate of interest had been reduced in 1640 from 6 J to 5 per cent. But
the cost of the English war, which was wholly a naval war, had caused
the debt of Holland to mount to 153,000,000 guilders, the interest on
which was 7,000,000 guilders per annum. De Witt first took in hand a
thorough overhauling of the public accounts, by means of which he was
enabled to check unnecessary outlay and to effect a number of economies.
Finding however that, despite his efforts to reduce expenditure, he
could not avoid an annual deficit, the council-pensionary took the bold
step of proposing a further reduction of interest from 5 to 4 per cent.
He had some difficulty in persuading the investors in government funds
to consent, but he overcame opposition by undertaking to form a sinking
fund by which the entire debt should be paid off in 41 years. Having
thus placed the finances of the province on a sound basis, De Witt next
brought a similar proposal before the States-General with the result
that the interest on the Generality debt was likewise reduced to 4 per
cent.

The English war had conclusively proved to the Dutch their inferiority
in the size and armament of their war-vessels, and of the need of a
complete reorganisation of the fleet. De Witt lost no time in taking the
necessary steps. The custom which had hitherto prevailed of converting
merchantmen into ships of war at the outbreak of hostilities was
abandoned. Steps were taken to build steadily year by year a number of
large, strongly-constructed, powerfully armed men-of-war, mounting 60,70
and 80 guns. These vessels were specially adapted for passing in and out
of the shallow waters and were built for strength rather than for speed.
Again, the part taken in the war by the light, swift-sailing English
frigates led to a large flotilla of these vessels being built, so useful
for scouting purposes and for preying upon the enemy's commerce. The
supply and training of seamen was also dealt with, and the whole system
of pay and of prize-money revised and reorganised. It was a great and
vitally necessary task, and subsequent events were to show how admirably
it had been carried out.

No one knew better than John de Witt that peace was the chief interest
of the United Provinces, but his lot was cast in troubled times, and he
was one of those prescient statesmen who perceive that meekness in
diplomacy and willingness to submit to injury do not promote the cause
of peace or further the true interests of any country.

The conquests of France in the southern Netherlands caused great anxiety
to the Dutch; and the high-handed action of French pirates in searching
and seizing Dutch merchantmen in the Mediterranean aroused much
indignation. The States, acting on De Witt's advice, replied by sending
a squadron under De Ruyter to put a stop to these proceedings. The Dutch
admiral took vigorous action and captured some French freebooters. The
French government thereupon forbade Dutch vessels to enter French
harbours. The Dutch replied by a similar embargo and threatened to
blockade the French coast. This threat had the desired effect, and an
accommodation was reached. The peace of the Pyrenees in 1659, by which
the French retained a large part of their conquests in Flanders,
Hainault and Namur, while the English acquired possession of Dunkirk,
was disquieting. For the relations with England, despite the goodwill
of the Protector, were far from satisfactory. The trade interests of
the two republics clashed at so many points that a resumption of
hostilities was with difficulty prevented. More especially was this the
case after the outbreak of war with Portugal in November, 1657.

The Dutch accused the Portuguese government of active connivance with
the successful revolt of the Brazilian colonists against Dutch rule.
What was once Dutch Brazil was now claimed by the Lisbon government as a
Portuguese possession, and De Witt demanded an indemnity. As this was
not conceded, a squadron under Obdam, November, 1657, blockaded the
Portuguese coast, while another under De Ruyter made many seizures of
merchant vessels. Cromwell was disposed to intervene, but his death on
September 3,1658, removed any fears of English action. Meanwhile the
Dutch captured Ceylon and Macassar and practically cut off Portuguese
intercourse with the East Indies. At last in August, 1661, a treaty was
signed by which the Dutch abandoned all territorial claims in Brazil,
but were granted freedom of trade and an indemnity of 8,000,000 fl. to
be paid in sixteen years, and, what was more valuable, they retained
possession of their conquests in the East.

The protracted dispute with Portugal was however of quite subordinate
importance to the interest of the Dutch in the complications of the
so-called Northern War. On the abdication of Christina in 1654, Charles
X Gustavus had succeeded to the Swedish throne. The new king was fired
with the ambition of following in the footsteps of Gustavus Adolphus,
and of rendering Sweden supreme in the Baltic by the subjection of
Poland and Denmark. Charles was a man of great force of character and
warlike energy, and he lost no time in attempting to put his schemes of
conquest into execution. Having secured the alliance of the Great
Elector, anxious also to aggrandise himself in Polish Prussia, the
Swedish king declared war against Poland, and in the early summer of
1656 laid siege to Danzig. But the importance of the Baltic trade to
Holland was very great and Danzig was the corn emporium of the Baltic.
Under pressure therefore of the Amsterdam merchants the States-General
despatched (July) a fleet of forty-two ships under Obdam van Wassenaer
through the Sound, which raised the siege of Danzig and with Polish
consent left a garrison in the town. Thus checked, the Swedish king at
Elbing (September, 1656) renewed amicable relations with the republic,
and Danzig was declared a neutral port. At the same time a defensive
alliance was concluded between the States and Denmark. It was obvious
from, this that the Dutch were hostile to Swedish pretensions and
determined to resist them. De Witt was anxious to preserve peace, but
he had against him all the influence of Amsterdam, and that of the able
diplomatist, Van Beuningen, who after being special envoy of the States
at Stockholm had now been sent to Copenhagen. Van Beuningen held that,
whatever the risks of intervention on the part of the States, the
control of the Sound must not fall into the hands of Sweden. The
emergency came sooner than was expected.

Brandenburg having changed sides, the Swedes were expelled from Poland;
and Frederick III of Denmark, despite the advice of De Witt, seized the
opportunity to declare war on Sweden. Although it was the depth of
winter Charles Gustavus lost no time in attacking Denmark. He quickly
drove the Danes from Schonen and Funen and invaded Seeland. Frederick
was compelled at Roeskilde (February, 1658) to accept the terms of the
conqueror. Denmark became virtually a Swedish dependency, and undertook
to close the Sound to all foreign ships. Involved as the republic was in
disputes at this time with both France and England, and engaged in war
with Portugal, De Witt would have been content to maintain a watchful
attitude in regard to Scandinavian matters and to strive by diplomacy to
secure from Sweden a recognition of Dutch rights. But his hand was
forced by Van Beuningen, who went so far as to urge the Danish king to
rely on his defensive alliance with the republic and to break the treaty
of Roeskilde. Charles Gustavus promptly invaded Denmark, drove the
Danish fleet from the sea, placed strong garrisons at Elsinore and
Kronborg, and laid siege to Copenhagen. Van Beuningen had proudly
asserted that "the oaken keys of the Sound lay in the docks of
Amsterdam," and his boast was no empty one. At the beginning of October
a force of thirty-five vessels under Obdam carrying 4000 troops sailed
for the Sound with orders to destroy the Swedish fleet, and to raise the
siege of Copenhagen. On November 8 Obdam encountered the Swedes in the
entrance to the Baltic. The Swedish admiral Wrangel had forty-five ships
under his command, and the battle was obstinate and bloody. Obdam
carried out his instructions. Only a remnant of the Swedish fleet found
refuge in the harbour of Landskrona, but the Dutch also suffered
severely. The two vice-admirals, Witte de With and Floriszoon, were
killed, and Obdam himself narrowly escaped capture, but Copenhagen was
freed from naval blockade.

Charles Gustavus however held military possession of a large part of
Denmark, and in the spring began to press the attack on the capital
from the land side. As both England and France showed a disposition to
interfere in the conflict, the States-General now acted with unexpected
vigour, recognising that this question to them was vital. An imposing
force of seventy-five warships, carrying 12,000 troops and mounting 3000
guns, was despatched in May, 1659, under De Ruyter to the Baltic.
Negotiations for peace between the Scandinavian powers under the
mediation of France, England and the United Provinces, were now set on
foot and dragged on through the summer. But neither Charles Gustavus nor
Frederick could be brought to agree to the terms proposed, and the
former in the autumn again threatened Copenhagen. In these circumstances
De Ruyter was ordered to expel the Swedes from Funen. On November 24 the
town of Nyborg was taken by storm and the whole Swedish force compelled
to surrender. De Ruyter was now supreme in the Baltic and closely
blockaded the Swedish ports. The spirit of Charles Gustavus was broken
by these disasters; he died on February 20, 1660. Peace was now
concluded at Oliva on conditions favourable to Sweden, but securing for
the Dutch the free passage of the Sound. The policy of De Witt was at
once firm and conciliatory. Without arousing the active opposition of
England and France, he by strong-handed action at the decisive moment
succeeded in maintaining that balance of power in the Baltic which was
essential in the interest of Dutch trade. The republic under his skilful
leadership undoubtedly gained during the northern wars fresh weight and
consideration in the Councils of Europe.

The peace of the Pyrenees, followed by the peace of Oliva and the
settlement with Portugal, seemed to open out to the United Provinces a
period of rest and recuperation, but probably no one knew better than
the council-pensionary that outward appearances were deceptive. In the
spring of 1660 a bloodless revolution had been accomplished in England,
and Charles II was restored to the throne. The hostility of De Witt and
of the States party to the house of Stuart had been marked. It happened
that Charles was at Breda when he received the invitation recalling him
to England. The position was a difficult one, but the council-pensionary
at once saw, with his usual perspicacity, that there was but one course
to pursue. Acting under his advice, every possible step was taken by the
States-General and the Estates of Holland to propitiate the prince,
who from being a forlorn exile had suddenly become a powerful king.
Immense sums were spent upon giving him a magnificent reception at the
Hague; and, when he set sail from Scheveningen, deputations from the
States-General and the Estates of Holland attended in state his
embarkation and lavish promises of friendship were exchanged. It was
significant, however, that Charles handed to the council-pensionary a
declaration commending to the care of their High Mightinesses "the
Princess my sister and the Prince of Orange my nephew, persons who are
extremely dear to me." He had previously expressed the same wish to De
Witt privately; and compliance with it, _i.e._ the annulling of the Act
of Exclusion, was inevitable. But all the actors in this comedy were
playing a part. Charles was not deceived by all this subservience, and,
continuing to entertain a bitter grudge against De Witt and his party,
only waited his time to repay their enmity in kind. De Witt on his side,
though in his anxiety to conciliate the new royalist government he
consented to deliver up three regicides who were refugees in Holland (an
act justly blamed), refused to restore the Prince of Orange to any of
the ancient dignities and offices of his forefathers. Acting however on
his advice, the Estates of Holland passed a unanimous resolution
declaring William a ward of the Estates and voting a sum of money for
his maintenance and education.

Very shortly after this momentous change in the government of England,
Cardinal Mazarin died (March, 1661); and the youthful Louis XIV took the
reins of power into his own hands. Outwardly all seemed well in the
relations between France and the republic, and in point of fact an
offensive and defensive alliance for twenty-five years was concluded
between them on April 27,1662. Later in the same year Count D'Estrades,
formerly ambassador in the time of Frederick Henry, resumed his old
post. The relations between him and De Witt were personally of the
friendliest character, but the conciliatory attitude of D'Estrades did
not deceive the far-sighted council-pensionary, who was seriously
disquieted as to the political aims of France in the southern
Netherlands.

By the treaty of the Pyrenees, 1659, the French had already acquired a
large slice of territory in Flanders and Artois. They had since obtained
Dunkirk by purchase from Charles II. Moreover Louis XIV had married the
eldest daughter of Philip IV, whose only son was a weakly boy. It is
true that Maria Theresa, on her marriage, had renounced all claims to
the Spanish succession. But a large dowry had been settled upon her, and
by the treaty the renunciation was contingent upon its payment. The
dowry had not been paid nor was there any prospect of the Spanish
treasury being able to find the money. Besides it was no secret that
Louis claimed the succession to Brabant for his wife and certain other
portions of the Netherlands under what was called the Law of Devolution.
By this law the female child of a first wife was the heir in preference
to the male child of a later marriage. The Dutch dreaded the approach of
the French military power to their frontiers, and yet the decrepitude of
Spain seemed to render it inevitable. There appeared to De Witt to be
only two solutions of the difficulty. Either what was styled "the
cantonment" of the southern Netherlands, _i.e._ their being formed into
a self-governing republic under Dutch protection guaranteed by a French
alliance, or the division of the Belgic provinces between the two
powers. The latter proposal, however, had two great disadvantages: in
the first place it gave to France and the Republic the undesirable
common frontier; in the second place Amsterdam was resolved that Antwerp
should not be erected into a dangerous rival. The last objection proved
insuperable; and, although De Witt had many confidential discussions
with D'Estrades, in which the French envoy was careful not to commit
himself to any disclosure of the real intentions of his government, no
settlement of any kind had been arrived at, when the threatening state
of relations with England threw all other questions into the background.

The accession of Charles II placed upon the throne of England a man who
had no goodwill to Holland and still less to the council-pensionary, and
who, like all the Stewart kings, had a keen interest in naval and
maritime matters. The Navigation Act, far from being repealed, was
vigorously enforced, as were the English claims to the sovereignty of
the narrow seas. The grievances of the English East India Company
against its Dutch rival with regard to the seizure of certain ships and
especially as to the possession of a small island named Poeloe-Rum in
the Moluccas led to a growing feeling of bitterness and hostility. A
special embassy, headed by De Witt's cousin, Beverweert, was sent to
London in the autumn of 1660 to try to bring about a friendly
understanding, but was fruitless. At the same time George Downing, a
skilful intriguer and adventurer, who after serving Cromwell had
succeeded in gaining the confidence of the royal government, had been
sent as ambassador to the Hague, where he worked underhand to exacerbate
the disputes and to prevent a settlement of the differences between the
two peoples. The position and treatment of the Prince of Orange had
likewise been a source of difficulty and even of danger to the supremacy
of the States party. There arose a general movement among the provinces,
headed by Gelderland and Zeeland, to nominate William captain-and
admiral-general of the Union and stadholder. The lack of leadership in
the Orangist party, and the hostility between the two princesses,
rendered, however, any concentrated action impossible. De Witt, with his
usual adroitness, gained the ear of the princess royal, who accepted the
proposal that the Estates of Holland should undertake the education of
the prince, and even consented that De Witt himself and his wife's
uncle, De Graef, should superintend the prince's studies. This arranged,
Mary, for the first time since her marriage, paid a visit to her native
land, being desirous to consult her brother on various subjects.
Unfortunately she died of small-pox in January, 1661, having nominated
Charles as her son's guardian. This nomination did not tend to smooth
matters between the two countries.

There was a powerful war party in England, supported by the Duke of
York. It was at his instigation that a strong-handed act took place
which aroused intense indignation in Holland. A company called "The
Royal African Company" had been formed in which the duke had a large
interest. A fleet fitted out by this company under the command of
Admiral Holmes seized, in February, 1664, a portion of the coast of
Guinea on which the Dutch had settlements. Strong protests meeting with
nothing but evasive replies, in all secrecy a squadron was got ready to
sail under De Ruyter, nominally to the Mediterranean. Dilatory
negotiations were in the meantime being conducted by Beverweert in
London, and by Downing at the Hague in regard to this and other
grievances, but without any approach to a settlement. Downing in fact
was surreptitiously doing his best not to reconcile, but to aggravate
differences. Matters were brought to a head by the news that an English
fleet had crossed the Atlantic and had taken possession of the Dutch
colony of New Netherland (September), and that Holmes had made himself
master of Cabo Corso on the West African coast, and was threatening
further conquests. This was too much. De Ruyter received orders to
proceed to Guinea, where he speedily drove out the English intruders and
reoccupied the lost settlements. During the winter both powers prepared
for a struggle for maritime supremacy which had become inevitable; and
at last war was declared by England (March 4, 1665).

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XVI

THE LAST YEARS OF DE WITT'S ADMINISTRATION, 1665-1672. THE SECOND
ENGLISH WAR. THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE. THE FRENCH INVASION


THE declaration of war in March, 1665, found the Dutch navy, thanks to
the prescience and personal care of the council-pensionary, far better
prepared for a struggle with the superior resources of its English rival
than was the case in 1654. John de Witt, aided by his brother Cornelis,
had supplied the lack of an admiral-general by urging the various
Admiralty Boards to push on the building of vessels in size,
construction and armaments able to contend on equal terms with the
English men-of-war. He had, moreover, with his usual industry taken
great pains to study the details of admiralty-administration and naval
science; and now, in company with the Commissioners of the
States-General, he visited all the ports and dockyards and saw that
every available ship was got ready for immediate service, provided with
seasoned crews, and with ample stores and equipment. The English on
their side were equally ready for the encounter. After the death of
Cromwell the fleet had been neglected, but during the five years that
had passed since the Restoration steps had been taken to bring it to an
even greater strength and efficiency than before. Whatever may have
been the faults of the Stewart kings, neglect of the navy could not be
laid to their charge. One of the first steps of Charles II was to
appoint his brother James, Duke of York, to the post of
Lord-High-Admiral; and James was unremitting in his attention to his
duties, and a most capable naval administrator and leader, while Charles
himself never ceased during his reign to take a keen interest in naval
matters. In his case, as previously in the case of his father, it was
lack of the necessary financial means that alone prevented him from
creating an English fleet that would be capable of asserting that
"sovereignty in the narrow seas," which was the traditional claim of the
English monarchy.

The English were ready before the Dutch, who were hampered in their
preparations by having five distinct Boards of Admiralty. The Duke of
York put to sea with a fleet of 100 ships at the end of April and,
cruising off the coast of Holland, cut off the main Dutch fleet in the
Texel from the Zeeland contingent. It was unfortunate for Holland that
Michael Adriansz de Ruyter, one of the greatest of seamen, was at this
time still in the Mediterranean Obdam, to whom the chief command was
given, waited until a storm drove the enemy to their harbours. He then
united all the Dutch squadrons and crossing to Southwold Bay found the
English fleet ready for battle. After some manoeuvring the action was
joined on June 13, and after a bloody fight ended most disastrously for
the Dutch. The flag-ships in the course of the struggle became closely
engaged, with the result that Obdam's vessel suddenly blew up, while
that of the English admiral was seriously damaged and he himself
wounded. The Dutch line had already been broken, and the fate of their
commander decided the issue. The Dutch in great confusion sought the
shelter of their shoals, but their habit of firing at the masts and
rigging had so crippled their opponents that a vigorous pursuit was
impossible. Nevertheless the English had gained at the first encounter a
decided victory. Sixteen Dutch ships were sunk or destroyed, nine
captured, and at least 2000 men were killed, including three admirals,
and as many more taken prisoners. The English had but one vessel sunk,
and their casualties did not amount to more than a third of the Dutch
losses. The consternation and anger in Holland was great. Jan Evertsen,
the second-in-command, and a number of the captains were tried by
court-martial; and the reorganisation of the fleet was entrusted to
Cornells Tromp, who, encouraged and aided by the council-pensionary,
set himself with great energy to the task.

The English meanwhile were masters of the sea, though administrative
shortcomings, defects of victualling and shortage of men prevented them
from taking full advantage of their success. Early in August, however, a
fleet under the Earl of Sandwich attempted to capture a number of Dutch
East Indiamen, who had sailed round the north of Scotland. The East
Indiamen took refuge in the neutral port of Bergen. Here Sandwich
ventured to attack them but was driven off by the forts. While he was
thus engaged in the north the Channel was left free; and De Ruyter with
his squadron seized the opportunity to return to home-waters without
opposition. His arrival was of the greatest value to the Dutch, and he
was with universal approval appointed to succeed Obdam as
lieutenant-admiral of Holland, and was given the supreme command on the
sea. Tromp, angry at being superseded, was with difficulty induced to
serve under the new chief, but he had to yield to the force of public
opinion. De Ruyter at once gave proof of his skill by bringing back
safely the East Indiamen from Bergen, though a severe storm caused some
losses, both to the fleet and the convoy. The damage was however by the
energy of De Witt and the admiral quickly repaired; and De Ruyter again
sailed out at the beginning of October to seek the English fleet. He
cruised in the Channel and off the mouth of the Thames, but no enemy
vessels were to be seen; and at the end of the month fresh storms
brought the naval campaign of 1665 to a close, on the whole to the
advantage of the English.

Nor were the misfortunes of the Dutch confined to maritime warfare.
Between England and Holland indeed the war was entirely a sea affair,
neither of them possessing an army strong enough to land on the enemy's
coast with any hope of success; but the United Provinces were
particularly vulnerable on their eastern frontier, and Charles II
concluded an alliance with the Bishop of Münster, who had a grievance
against the States on account of a disputed border-territory, the
lordship of Borkelo. Subsidised by England, the bishop accordingly at
the head of 18,000 men (September, 1665) overran a considerable part of
Drente and Overyssel and laid it waste. There was at first no organised
force to oppose him. It had been the policy of Holland to cut down the
army, and the other provinces were not unwilling to follow her example.
No field-marshal had been appointed to succeed Brederode; there was no
army of the Union under a captain-general, but seven small provincial
armies without a military head. Some thousands of fresh troops were now
raised and munitions of war collected, but to whom should the chief
command be given? William Frederick was dead (October 31, 1664) and had
been succeeded by his youthful son, Henry Casimir, in the Stadholderate
of Friesland. Joan Maurice of Nassau had withdrawn from the Netherlands
and was Governor of Cleves in the service of Brandenburg. He was however
persuaded to place himself at the head of the army, though complaining
bitterly of the inadequacy of the forces placed at his disposal. De
Witt, however, had not been idle. He secured the assistance of
Brunswick-Lüneburg, and an army of 12,000 Brunswickers under the command
of George Frederick von Waldeck attacked Münster; while a force of 6000
French likewise, under the terms of the treaty of 1662, advanced to the
help of the Dutch. Threatened also by Brandenburg, the bishop was
compelled to withdraw his troops for home defence and in April, 1666,
was glad to conclude peace with the States.

French naval co-operation against England was also promised; and war was
actually declared by Louis XIV in the early spring of 1666. The real
cause of this strong action was due to other motives than enmity to
England. The death of Philip IV of Spain in September, 1665, had brought
nearer the prospect of there being no heir-male to the vast Spanish
monarchy. The French Queen, Maria Theresa, was the eldest child of
Philip; and, though on her marriage she had renounced her claim to the
Spanish throne, it was well known that Louis intended to insist upon her
rights, particularly in regard to the Spanish Netherlands. He was afraid
that the States, always suspicious of his ambitious projects, might be
tempted to come to terms with England on the basis of a defensive
alliance against French aggression in Flanders and Brabant, for both
powers were averse to seeing Antwerp in French hands. To avert this
danger Louis determined to take part in the war on the side of the
Dutch. The move however was diplomatic rather than serious, for the
French admiral, de Beaufort, never sailed into the North Sea or effected
a junction with the Dutch fleet. Nevertheless, as will be seen, his
presence in the Atlantic exercised an important effect upon the naval
campaign of 1666.

The English fleet was not ready until the beginning of June. The ravages
of the plague and financial difficulties had caused delay; and the fleet
only numbered about eighty sail, including a squadron which had been
recalled from the Mediterranean. The "Generals-at-Sea," as they were
called, were Monk and Rupert. They began by committing the great blunder
of dividing their force. Rupert was detached with twenty ships to keep
watch over de Beaufort, a diversion which had serious consequences for
the English. The Dutch fleet, consisting of seventy-two men-of-war with
twelve frigates, was the most powerful that the Admiralties had ever
sent to sea, not in numbers but in the quality of the ships. De Witt
himself had supervised the preparations and had seen that the equipment
was complete in every respect. De Ruyter was in supreme command and led
the van, Cornelis Evertsen the centre, Cornelis Tromp the rear. On June
11 the English fleet under Monk was sighted between the North Foreland
and Dunkirk, and the famous Four Days' Battle was begun. The English had
only fifty-four ships, but having the weather gauge Monk attacked
Tromp's squadron with his whole force; nor was it till later in the day
that De Ruyter and Evertsen were able to come to the relief of their
colleague. Night put an end to an indecisive contest, in which both
sides lost heavily. The next day Monk renewed the attack, at first with
some success; but, De Ruyter having received a reinforcement of sixteen
ships, the weight of numbers told and Monk was forced to retreat. On the
third morning De Ruyter pursued his advantage, but the English admiral
conducted his retirement in a most masterly manner, his rear squadron
covering the main body and fighting stubbornly. Several ships, however,
including the flag-ship of Vice-Admiral Ayscue, had to be abandoned and
were either destroyed or captured by the Dutch. At the end of the day
Monk had only twenty-eight ships left fit for service. Very opportunely
he was now rejoined by Rupert's squadron and other reinforcements; and
on the fourth morning the two fleets confronted one another in almost
equal numbers, each having some sixty vessels. Once more therefore the
desperate struggle was resumed and with initial advantage to the
English. Rupert forced his way through the Dutch fleet, which was for
awhile divided. But the English habit of firing at the hulls, though it
did most damage, was not so effective as the Dutch system of aiming at
the masts and rigging in crippling the freedom of tacking and
manoeuvring; and Monk and Rupert were unable to prevent De Ruyter from
re-uniting his whole force, and bearing down with it upon the enemy. The
English were forced to retreat again, leaving several of their "lamed"
vessels behind. They lost in all ten ships besides fireships, something
like 3000 killed and wounded and 2500 prisoners. Vice-Admiral Berkeley
was killed, Vice-Admiral Ayscue taken prisoner. Nor were the Dutch much
better off. Four or five of their ships were sunk, a number severely
damaged, and their casualty list was probably as large as that of their
foes. Nevertheless the victory was undoubtedly theirs; and the fleet on
its return was greeted with public rejoicings in Holland and Zeeland.
The triumph was of short duration.

By vigorous efforts on both sides the damaged fleets were rapidly
repaired. De Ruyter was the first to put to sea (July 9) with some
ninety ships; three weeks later Monk and Rupert left the Thames with an
equal force. The encounter took place on August 4. It ended in a
decisive English victory after some fierce and obstinate fighting. The
Dutch van, after losing its two admirals, Evertsen and De Vries, gave
way. Monk and Rupert then attacked with a superior force the centre
under De Ruyter himself, who to save his fleet from destruction was
compelled to take refuge behind the Dutch shoals. Meanwhile the squadron
under Tromp, driving before it the rear squadron of the English, had
become separated and unable to come to De Ruyter's assistance. For this
abandonment he was bitterly reproached by De Ruyter and accused of
desertion. The quarrel necessitated Tromp's being deprived of his
command, as the States-General could not afford to lose the services of
the admiral-in-chief.

For a time the English were now masters of the narrow seas, and,
cruising along the Dutch coast, destroyed a great number of Dutch
merchantmen, made some rich prizes and even landed on the island of
Terschelling, which was pillaged. Lack of supplies at length compelled
them to withdraw for the purpose of revictualling. On this De Ruyter,
accompanied by Cornelis de Witt as special commissioner, sailed out in
the hopes of effecting a junction with De Beaufort. Rupert also put to
sea again, but storms prevented a meeting between the fleets and
sickness also seriously interfered with their efficiency. De Ruyter
himself fell ill; and, though John de Witt was himself with the fleet,
no further operations were attempted. Both sides had become weary and
exhausted and anxious for peace.

To De Witt the war had been from the outset distasteful; and he had been
much disturbed by the constant intrigues of the Orangist party to
undermine his position. He was aware that in this hour of the country's
need the eyes of a considerable part of the people, even in Holland,
were more and more directed to the young prince. There was a magic in
his name, which invested the untried boy with the reflected glory of his
ancestor's great deeds. The council-pensionary, a past-master in the
arts of expediency, was driven to avert the danger which threatened
the supremacy of the States party, by proposing to the Princess Amalia
that the province of Holland should not only charge themselves with
William's education, but should adopt him as "a Child of State." It was
a short-sighted device for, as the princess shrewdly saw, this
exceptional position assigned to her grandson must ensure, when he grew
to man's estate, the reversion of his ancestral dignities. She willingly
assented; and in April, 1666, the Estates of Holland appointed a
Commission, of which John de Witt was himself the head, which was
entrusted with the religious and political instruction of the prince. A
few months later De Witt was to discover that Orangist intrigues were
being still clandestinely carried on. An officer of French extraction,
the lord of Buat, though an Orange partisan, had been employed by the
pensionary to make tentative proposals of peace to the English court
through Lord Arlington. In August a packet of intercepted letters showed
that Buat had played him false and was seeking to compass his overthrow.
Buat was brought to trial, condemned to death, and executed on October
11.

This strong action by the council-pensionary did not prevent, however,
the preliminaries of a peaceful settlement being discussed both at the
Hague and in London during the winter months, with the result that a
conference of delegates representing Great Britain, the United Provinces
and France, met at Breda in May, 1667, to discuss the terms of peace.
But the negotiations did not progress. The English envoys raised afresh
all the old questions, while the Dutch were not ready to concede
anything unless the Navigation Act was largely modified. In these
circumstances De Witt determined by bold action to try to expedite the
negotiations in a sense favourable to Holland. He knew that the English
were unprepared. Charles II, in opposition to the advice of Rupert, Monk
and the Duke of York, had refused to spend money in preparation for a
campaign at sea, which he felt confident would never take place. The
ravages of the plague and of the Great Fire of London had made the year
1666 one of the darkest in English history and had caused the heavy
financial drain and losses of the war to be more severely felt. There
was widespread discontent in the country; and the king in sore financial
distress was immovable in his resolve that no steps should be taken for
refitting the fleet. The ships remained laid up in port, although the
Dutch despatched in April a squadron to the Firth of Forth and dominated
the Channel.

In deep secrecy De Witt now made preparations for the despatch of a
great fleet with orders to sail up the estuary of the Thames and attack
the English ships in harbour. De Ruyter, accompanied by Cornelis de
Witt, left the Texel on June 14, at the head of a fleet numbering more
than eighty vessels. A squadron under Admiral Van Ghent sailed up the
Thames on June 19, followed by the main body. Sheerness was captured,
and on the 22nd De Ruyter determined to force his way up the Medway. The
river had been blocked by drawing up a line of ships behind a heavy
chain. The Dutch fire-ships broke through the chain and burnt the
vessels, and then proceeding upwards burnt, scuttled or captured some
sixteen vessels, among the latter the flag-ship, _Royal Charles_. The
sound of the Dutch guns was heard in London and for a time panic
reigned. But the narrowness of the river and the prompt measures that
were taken to call out the militia and man the forts prevented any
further success. The Dutch fleet withdrew to the Nore and, beyond
blocking the mouth of the river, were able to effect no further damage.
The blow to English prestige was however irreparable, and the people
felt deeply humiliated that short-sightedness and lack of preparation on
the part of the government should have exposed them to an insult galling
to the national pride. One of its consequences, as had been anticipated
by De Witt, was a more conciliatory attitude on the part of the English
envoys at Breda. Peace was concluded on July 26, on terms more
favourable than the Dutch could have expected. The Navigation Act was
modified, various commercial advantages were conceded and Poeloe-Rum
was retained. On the other hand, the custom of the striking of the flag
remained unchanged. It was agreed that the English colony of Surinam,
which had been captured in March, 1667, by a Zeeland squadron should be
kept in exchange for New York, an exchange advantageous to both parties.

By the treaty of Breda the Dutch republic attained the summit of its
greatness, and the supremacy of De Witt appeared to be not only secure
but unassailable. Yet events were preparing which were destined to
undermine the prosperity of Holland and the position of the statesman to
whom in so large a measure that prosperity was due. France under the
absolute rule of Louis XIV had become by far the most powerful State
in Europe, and the king was bent upon ambitious and aggressive projects.
It has already been explained that after the death of Philip IV of Spain
he claimed for his queen, Maria Theresa, the succession, by the
so-called "law of devolution," to a large part of the southern
Netherlands. He now determined that the hour had come for enforcing his
claim. In May, 1667, before the treaty of Breda had been signed, a
French army of 50,000 men crossed the Belgic frontier. Castel-Rodrigo,
the Spanish governor, had no force at his disposal for resisting so
formidable an invasion; fortress after fortress fell into French hands;
and Flanders, Brabant and Hainault were speedily overrun. This rapid
advance towards their borders caused no small consternation in Holland,
and De Witt's efforts to reach an understanding with King Louis proved
unavailing. The States were not in a position to attempt an armed
intervention, and the once formidable Spanish power was now feeble and
decrepit. The only hope lay in the formation of a coalition. De Witt
therefore turned to England and Sweden for help.

The anti-French party in Sweden was then predominant; and Dohna, the
Swedish ambassador at the Hague, was ordered to go to London, there to
further the efforts of the newly appointed Dutch envoy, John Meerman,
for the formation of a coalition to check French aggrandisement. They
had difficulties to overcome. The English were sore at the results of
the peace of Breda. Charles disliked the Dutch and was personally
indebted to Louis XIV for many favours. But the feeling in England was
strongly averse to French aggression towards Antwerp. The fall of
Clarendon from power at this time and the accession of Arlington, who
was son-in-law to Beverweert, turned the scale in favour of the
proposals of De Witt; and Charles found himself obliged to yield. Sir
William Temple, whose residence as English minister at Brussels had
convinced him of the gravity of the French menace, was ordered to go to
the Hague to confer personally with the council-pensionary and then to
proceed to London. His mission was most promptly and skilfully carried
out. His persuasiveness overcame all obstacles. After a brief stay in
London he returned to the Hague, January 17, 1668. Even the proverbial
slowness of the complicated machinery of the Dutch government did not
hinder him from carrying out his mission with almost miraculous
rapidity. Having first secured the full support of De Witt to his
proposals, he next, with the aid of the council-pensionary, pressed
the urgency of the case upon the States-General with such convincing
arguments that the treaty between England and the United Provinces was
signed on January 23. Three days afterwards Dohna was able to announce
the adhesion of the Swedish government; and on January 26, the Triple
Alliance was an accomplished fact. It was essentially a defensive
alliance, and its main object was to offer mediation between France and
Spain in order to moderate the French claims and to back up their
mediation, if necessity should arise, by joint action. As a preliminary
precaution, a strong force was promptly placed under the command of Joan
Maurice of Nassau, and a fleet of forty-eight ships was fitted out.

These steps had their effect. Louis, suddenly confronted by this
formidable coalition, preferred to accept mediation, though it involved
his waiving a portion of his pretensions. Knowing well that the alliance
was a very unstable one, for the consent of Charles was given under
duress and the aims of Sweden were mercenary, he foresaw that by biding
his time, he could have ample revenge later upon the republic of traders
who had ventured to thwart him. At a meeting at St Germain-en-Laye
between the French Foreign Minister, Lionne, and the Dutch and English
ambassadors, Van Beuningen and Trevor, preliminaries were settled on
April 15. These were confirmed by a conference of representatives of all
the interested States at Aix-la-Chapelle (May 2), in which Temple took
an active part. Louis gave up Franche-Comté, which he had conquered, but
retained Mons, Courtrai, Tournai, Lille, Charleroi and other frontier
towns. This treaty, following on that of Breda, was the crowning
triumph of De Witt's administration, for it had given to the Dutch
Republic a decisive voice in the Councils of the Great Powers of Europe.

But, though he had proved himself so successful in the fields of
diplomacy and statesmanship, the position of the council-pensionary had,
during the course of the English war, become distinctly weaker. De
Witt's authoritative ways, his practical monopoly of power, and his
bestowal of so many posts upon his relatives and friends, aroused
considerable jealousy and irritation. Cabals began to be formed against
him and old supporters to fall away. He lost the help of Van Beverningh,
who resigned the office of Treasurer-General, and he managed to estrange
Van Beuningen, who had much influence in Amsterdam. The Bickers and De
Graeffs were no longer supreme in that city, where a new party under the
leadership of Gillis Valckenier had acceded to power. This party, with
which Van Beuningen now associated himself, was at present rather
anti-De Witt than pro-Orange. Valckenier and Beuningen became in
succession burgomasters; and De Witt's friend, Pieter de Groot, had to
resign the office of pensionary. In the Estates of Holland, therefore,
De Witt had to face opposition, one of the leaders being the able
Pensionary of Haarlem, Caspar Fagel. And all this time he had ever
before his eyes the fact that the Prince of Orange could not much longer
remain "the Child of State"; and that, when he passed out of the
tutelage of the Estates of Holland, his future position would have to be
settled. De Witt had himself devoted much personal care to William's
instruction; and the prince had submitted patiently and apparently with
contentment to the restrictions with which he was surrounded. Physically
weakly, his health was at all times delicate, but his intelligence was
remarkable and his will-power extraordinary. Cold and impenetrable in
manner and expression, unbending in his haughty aloofness, he knew how
with perfect courtesy to keep his own counsel and to refrain from giving
utterance to an unguarded word. But behind this chilling and sphinx-like
exterior was a mind of singular precocity, already filled with deep-laid
schemes and plans for the future, confident that his opportunity would
come, and preparing when the hour struck to seize it. One can well
imagine how anxiously in their many personal interviews the
council-pensionary must have tried to read what was passing in his
pupil's inmost thoughts, only to be baffled.

So early as August, 1667, steps had been taken by the Estates of Holland
to forestall the danger that threatened. On the proposal of Van
Beuningen and Valckenier, who had not yet detached themselves from the
States party, an edict was passed to which, somewhat infelicitously, the
name of the "Eternal Edict" was given. It abolished in Holland the
office of stadholder for ever and affirmed the right of the
town-corporations (_vroedschappen_) to elect their own magistrates. It
was further resolved to invite the other provinces to declare that no
stadholder could hold either the captain-or admiral-generalship of the
Union. This resolution was styled the "Concept of Harmony." Deputations
were sent to urge the acceptation of the Concept; and De Witt himself
used his utmost power of persuasion to bring about a general
agreement. He was successful in Utrecht, Gelderland and Overyssel. But
Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen, where the Orangists were strong,
refused to give their assent; and the approval of the States-General was
only carried by a bare majority. De Witt himself doubtless knew that the
erection of this paper barrier against the inherited influence of one
bearing the honoured title of Prince of Orange was of little real value.
It is reported that Vivien, the Pensionary of Dordrecht, De Witt's
cousin, stuck his pen-knife into a copy of the Eternal Edict as it lay
on the table before him, and in reply to a remonstrance said: "I was
only trying what steel can do against parchment."

The second period of five years during which De Witt had held the post
of council-pensionary was now drawing to an end. For a decade he had
wielded a power which had given to him almost supreme authority in the
republic, especially in the control of foreign affairs. But all the time
he had lived the life of a simple burgher, plainly dressed, occupying
the same modest dwelling-house, keeping only a single manservant. He was
devotedly attached to his wife and children, and loved to spend the
hours he could spare from public affairs in the domestic circle. The
death of Wendela on July 1, 1668, was a great blow to him and damped the
satisfaction which must have filled him at the manner in which he was
reelected at the end of that month to enter upon his third period of
office. In recognition of his great services his salary of 6000 guilders
was doubled, and a gratuity of 45,000 guilders was voted to him, to
which the nobles added a further sum of 15,000 guilders. De Witt again
obtained an Act of Indemnity from the Estates of Holland and likewise
the promise of a judicial post on his retirement.

The Prince of Orange had received the announcement of the passing of the
Eternal Edict without showing the slightest emotion, or making any
protest. He now, two months after the re-election of the
council-pensionary, took the first step towards self-assertion. Under
cover of a visit to his ancestral town of Breda, William made his way to
Middelburg, where the Estates of Zeeland were assembled. Being now
eighteen years of age he claimed his inherited right to take his seat as
"first noble," and after being duly installed he appointed his relative,
Seigneur van Odijk, to act as his deputy. This done, he quietly
returned to the Hague, having given a clear indication of the course he
meant to pursue.

The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had left a deep feeling of humiliation and
rancour in the heart of Louis XIV; and he was resolved to leave no stone
unturned to wreak his vengeance on Holland and its council-pensionary.
The Triple Alliance was plainly an ill-assorted combination. Charles II
cared nothing about the fate of the Spanish Netherlands, and there was a
strong party in England which hated the Dutch and wished to wipe out
the memory of Chatham and to upset the treaty of Breda. Grievances about
the settlement of questions concerning the East Indies and Surinam were
raked up. Both Van Beuningen in London and Pieter de Groot in Paris sent
warnings that the States should be prepared for war and at an early
date, but the council-pensionary pinned his faith on Temple and the
Alliance, and kept his eyes shut to the imminent danger. Meanwhile Louis
had been bribing freely both in England and Sweden, and he had no
difficulty in detaching the latter power from the Alliance. To England
he sent over the beautiful Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans, Charles'
favourite sister, on a secret mission to the king, and she was speedily
successful. The offer of an annual payment of 3,000,000 francs and the
possession of Walcheren, which commanded the entrance to the Scheldt,
effected their purpose. A secret treaty was signed at Dover on December
31, 1670, between Louis and Charles, by which the latter agreed, on
being called upon to do so, to declare war upon Holland in conjunction
with the French.

Meanwhile De Witt was so absorbed in domestic politics and in the
maintenance of the burgher-aristocratic party in power, that he seemed
to have lost his usual statesmanlike acumen. He never ceased to work for
the general acceptance of the Concept of Harmony. At last the three
recalcitrant provinces (Friesland, Groningen and Zeeland), when William
had reached his twenty-first year, agreed to accept it on condition that
the prince were at once admitted to the Council of State. Even now De
Witt tried to prevent the prince from having more than an advisory vote,
but he was overruled through the opposition of Amsterdam to his views.
All this time Louis was preparing his great plan for the crushing of the
republic. He succeeded in gaining the promised assistance of England,
Münster and Cologne, and in detaching from the Dutch the Emperor and
the Swedes. The finances under Colbert were in a flourishing state, and
a splendid army had been equipped by the great war minister, Louvois. It
was in vain that Pieter de Groot sent warnings of coming peril. The
council-pensionary was deaf, and the States-General still deafer. Temple
had left (August, 1670) for a visit to London, and he never returned.
For some months there was no resident English ambassador at the Hague.
Finally, at the end of the year, Downing arrived, the very man who had
done his utmost to bring about the war of 1665. De Witt still placed
his hopes in the anti-French views of the English Parliament; but in
August, 1671, it was dissolved by the king and was not summoned to meet
again for a year and a half. Charles had therefore a free-hand, and the
secret treaty of Dover was the result. The reports of De Groot became
more and more alarming; and De Witt found it necessary to urge the
States to make preparations both by sea and land to resist attack. But
he met with a luke-warm response. The fleet indeed was considerably
strengthened, but the army was in a miserable state. At no time during
the English wars had a powerful army been required, and the lesson
taught by the invasion of the Bishop of Münster had had little effect.
The heavy charges of the naval war compelled the States and especially
Holland, on whom the chief burden fell, to economise by cutting down the
military expenses. Politically also the ruling burgher-regents in
Holland had from past experience a wholesome fear lest the power of the
sword wielded by another Maurice or William II should again overthrow
the civil power. The consequence was that when Charles II declared war
on March 28, 1672, and Louis on the following April 6, and a great
French army of 120,000 men under Condé, Turenne and Luxemburg marched
through Liège to invade the States, while another army of 30,000 men
from Münster and Cologne attacked farther north, all was confusion and
panic, for it was felt that there was no possibility of effective
resistance. The Bishop of Münster was eager to take vengeance for his
defeat in 1666, and the Elector-Archbishop of Cologne was a Bavarian
prince friendly to France. His help was the more valuable, as he was
likewise Bishop of Liège, and thus able to offer to the French armies a
free passage through his territory.

Not until the storm was actually bursting on them by sea and land at
once were the various authorities in the threatened land induced to
move in earnest. Confronted by the sudden crisis, De Witt however made
the most strenuous efforts to meet it. A fleet of 150 ships was got
ready and an army of some 50,000 men, mercenaries of many nationalities,
hastily gathered together. It was a force without cohesion, discipline
or competent officers. In the peril of the country all eyes were turned
towards the Prince of Orange. William was now twenty-one years of age,
but by the provisions of the Concept of Harmony his name was not to be
proposed as captain-general until he had reached the age of twenty-two.
But in the wave of feeling which swept over the country the paper
barrier was dashed aside. In the Estates of Holland, which De Witt had
so long controlled, and despite his strong opposition, the proposal to
confer the post on William for one year was carried. All that the
council-pensionary could effect was to surround the exercise of the
office with so many restrictions as to deprive the prince of any real
authority. These restrictions did not, however, meet the approval of the
other provinces, and William himself refused to accept them. De Witt had
to give way. William was appointed captain-general for one year
(February 25, 1672). It appeared to be an absolutely hopeless task that
this utterly inexperienced young man had to face. But the mere fact that
once more a Prince of Orange was in command gave new hope. It was a name
to conjure with; and the holder of it, young as he was and with no
previous military training, faced his task with the calm confidence
which comes from conscious power and an inherited aptitude for the
leadership of men.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XVII

WAR WITH FRANCE AND ENGLAND. WILLIAM III, STADHOLDER. MURDER OF THE
BROTHERS DE WITT, 1672


The advance of the French armies and those of Münster and Cologne to
attack the eastern frontier of the United Provinces met with little
serious resistance. Fortress after fortress fell; the line of the Yssel
was abandoned. Soon the whole of Gelderland, Overyssel, Drente and
Utrecht were in the possession of the enemy. Even the castle of Muiden,
but ten miles from Amsterdam, was only saved from capture at the last
moment by Joan Maurice throwing himself with a small force within the
walls. The Prince of Orange had no alternative but to fall back behind
the famous waterline of Holland. He had at his disposal, after leaving
garrisons in the fortresses, barely 4000 men as a field-force. With some
difficulty the people were persuaded to allow the dykes to be cut, as in
the height of the struggle against Spain, and the country to be
submerged. Once more behind this expanse of flood, stretching like a
gigantic moat from Muiden on the Zuyder Zee to Gorkum on the Maas,
Holland alone remained as the last refuge of national resistance to an
overwhelming foe. True the islands of Zeeland and Friesland were yet
untouched by invasion, but had Holland succumbed to the French armies
their resistance would have availed little. At the end of June the
aspect of affairs looked very black, and despite the courageous attitude
of the young captain-general, and the ceaseless energy with which the
council-pensionary worked for the equipment of an adequate fleet, and
the provision of ways and means and stores, there seemed to be no ray of
hope. Men's hearts failed them for fear, and a panic of despair filled
the land.

Had the combined fleets of England and France been able at this moment
to obtain a victory at sea and to land an army on the coast, it is
indeed difficult to see how utter and complete disaster could have been
avoided. Fortunately, however, this was averted. It had been De Witt's
hope that De Ruyter might have been able to have struck a blow at the
English ships in the Thames and the Medway before they had time to put
to sea and effect a junction with the French. But the Zeeland contingent
was late and it was the middle of May before the famous admiral,
accompanied as in 1667 by Cornelis de Witt as the representative of the
States-General, sailed at the head of seventy-five ships in search of
the Anglo-French fleet. After delays through contrary winds the
encounter took place in Southwold Bay on June 7. The Duke of York was
the English admiral-in-chief, D'Estrées the French commander, and they
had a united force of ninety ships. The Dutch, who had the wind-gauge,
found the hostile squadrons separated from one another. De Ruyter at
once took advantage of this. He ordered Vice-Admiral Banckers with the
Zeeland squadron to contain the French, while he himself with the rest
of his force bore down upon the Duke of York. The battle was contested
with the utmost courage and obstinacy on both sides and the losses were
heavy. The advantage, however, remained with the Dutch. The English
flag-ship, the _Royal James_, was burnt; and the duke was afterwards
three times compelled to shift his flag. Both fleets returned to the
home ports to refit; and during the rest of the summer and early autumn
no further attack was made on De Ruyter, who with some sixty vessels
kept watch and ward along the coasts of Holland and Zeeland. The Dutch
admiral had gained his object and no landing was ever attempted.

But the battle of Southwold Bay, though it relieved the immediate naval
danger, could do nothing to stay the advancing tide of invasion on land.
The situation appeared absolutely desperate; trade was at a standstill;
and the rapid fall in the State securities and in the East India
Company's stock gave alarming evidence of the state of public opinion.
In these circumstances De Witt persuaded the States-General and the
Estates of Holland to consent to the sending of two special embassies to
Louis, who was now at Doesburg, and to London, to sue for peace. They
left the Hague on June 13, only to meet with a humiliating rebuff.
Charles II refused to discuss the question apart from France. Pieter de
Groot and his colleagues were received at Doesburg with scant courtesy
and sent back to the Hague to seek for fuller powers. When they arrived
they found the council-pensionary lying on a sick-bed. The country's
disasters had been attributed to the De Witts, and the strong feeling
against them led to a double attempt at assassination. John de Witt,
while walking home at the close of a busy day's work was (June 21)
attacked by four assailants and badly wounded. The leader, Jacob van der
Graeff, was seized and executed; the others were allowed to escape, it
was said by the prince's connivance. A few days later an attack upon
Cornells de Witt at Dordrecht likewise failed to attain its object. That
such dastardly acts could happen without an outburst of public
indignation was ominous of worse things to come. It was a sign that the
whole country had turned its back upon the States party and the whole
system of government of which for nineteen years John de Witt had been
the directing spirit, and had become Orangist. Revolutionary events
followed one another with almost bewildering rapidity. On July 2 the
Estates of Zeeland appointed William to the office of Stadholder. The
Estates of Holland repealed the Eternal Edict on July 3; and on the next
day it was resolved on the proposal of Amsterdam to revive the
stadholdership with all its former powers and prerogatives in favour of
the Prince of Orange. The other provinces followed the lead of Holland
and Zeeland; and on July 8 the States-General appointed the young
stadholder captain-and admiral-general of the Union. William thus found
himself invested with all the offices and even more than the authority
that had been possessed by his ancestors. Young and inexperienced as he
was, he commanded unbounded confidence, and it was not misplaced.

Meanwhile, despite the strong opposition of Amsterdam and some other
towns, the fuller powers asked for by De Groot were granted, and he
returned to the camp of Louis to endeavour to obtain more favourable
terms of peace. He was unsuccessful. The demands of the French king
included concessions of territory to Cologne, to Münster and to England,
and for himself the greater part of the Generality-lands with the great
fortresses of Hertogenbosch and Maestricht, a war indemnity of
16,000,000 francs, and complete freedom for Catholic worship. On July 1
De Groot returned to the Hague to make his report. The humiliating terms
were rejected unanimously, but it was still hoped that now that the
Prince of Orange was at the head of affairs negotiations might be
resumed through the mediation of England. William even went so far as to
send a special envoy to Charles II, offering large concessions to
England, if the king would withdraw from the French alliance. But it
was in vain. On the contrary at this very time (July 16) the treaty
between Louis and Charles was renewed; and the demands made on behalf of
England were scarcely less exorbitant than those put forward by Louis
himself--the cession of Sluis, Walcheren, Cadsand, Voorne and Goerce, an
indemnity of 25,000,000 francs, the payment of an annual subsidy for the
herring fishery, and the striking of the flag. If all the conditions
made by the two kings were agreed to, the sovereignty of the remnants of
the once powerful United Provinces, impoverished and despoiled, was
offered to the prince. He rejected it with scorn. When the Estates of
Holland on the return of De Groot asked his advice about the French
terms, the stadholder replied, "all that stands in the proposal is
unacceptable; rather let us be hacked in pieces, than accept such
conditions"; and when an English envoy, after expressing King Charles'
personal goodwill to his nephew, tried to persuade him to accept the
inevitable, he met with an indignant refusal. "But don't you see that
the Republic is lost," he is reported to have pleaded. "I know of one
sure means of not seeing her downfall," was William's proud reply, "to
die in defence of the last ditch."

The firm attitude of the prince gave courage to all; and, whatever
might be the case with the more exposed provinces on the eastern and
south-eastern frontiers, the Hollanders and Zeelanders were resolved to
sacrifice everything rather than yield without a desperate struggle. But
the fact that they were reduced to these dire straits roused the popular
resentment against the De Witts and the system of government which had
for more than two decades been in possession of power. Their wrath was
especially directed against the council-pensionary. Pamphlets were
distributed broadcast in which he was charged amongst other misdoings
with appropriating public funds for his private use. While yet suffering
from the effects of his wounds De Witt appeared (July 23) before the
Estates and vigorously defended himself. A unanimous vote declared him
free from blame.

Cornelis de Witt was, no less than his brother, an object of popular
hatred. In the town of Dordrecht where the De Witt influence had been so
long supreme his portrait in the Town-hall was torn to pieces by the mob
and the head hung on a gallows. On July 24 he was arrested and
imprisoned at the Hague on the charge brought against him by a barber
named Tichelaer, of being implicated in a plot to assassinate the
prince. Tichelaer was well known to be a bad and untrustworthy
character. On the unsupported testimony of this man, the Ruwaard, though
indignantly denying the accusation, was incarcerated in the
Gevangenpoort, to be tried by a commission appointed by the Estates.
Great efforts were made by his friends and by his brother to obtain his
release; but, as the prince would not interfere, the proceedings had to
take their course. John de Witt meanwhile, wishing to forestall a
dismissal which he felt to be inevitable, appeared before the Estates on
August 4, and in an impressive speech voluntarily tendered his
resignation of the post of council-pensionary, asking only for the
redemption of the promise made to him that at the close of his tenure of
office he should receive a judicial appointment. The resignation was
accepted, the request granted, but owing to opposition no vote of thanks
was given. Caspar Fagel was appointed council-pensionary in his place.

The enemies of John de Witt were not content with his fall from power. A
committee of six judges were empanelled to try his brother Cornelis for
his alleged crime. On August 17, to their eternal disgrace, they by a
majority vote ordered the prisoner, who was suffering from gout, to be
put to the torture. The illustrious victim of their malice endured the
rack without flinching, insisting on his absolute innocence of any plot
against the prince's life. Nevertheless, early on August 19, sentence
was pronounced upon him of banishment and loss of all his offices.
Later on the same day Cornelis sent a message to his brother that he
should like to see him. John, in spite of strong warnings, came to the
Gevangenpoort and was admitted to the room where the Ruwaard, as a
result of the cruel treatment he had received, was lying in bed; and the
two brothers had a long conversation. Meanwhile a great crowd had
gathered round the prison clamouring for vengeance upon the De Witts.
Three companies of soldiers were however drawn up under the command of
Count Tilly with orders from the Commissioned-Councillors to maintain
order. At the same time the _schutterij_--the civic guard--was called
out. These latter, however, were not to be trusted and were rather
inclined to fraternise with the mob. So long as Tilly's troops were at
hand, the rioters were held in restraint and no acts of violence were
attempted. It was at this critical moment that verbal orders came to
Tilly to march his troops to the gates to disperse some bands of
marauding peasants who were said to be approaching. Tilly refused to
move without a written order. It came, signed by Van Asperen, the
president of the Commissioned-Councillors, a strong Orange partisan. On
receiving it Tilly is said to have exclaimed, "I will obey, but the De
Witts are dead men." The soldiers were no sooner gone than the crowd,
under the leadership of Verhoef, a goldsmith, and Van Bankhem, a banker,
forced the door of the prison (the _schutterij_ either standing aloof,
or actually assisting in the attack), and rushing upstairs found John de
Witt sitting calmly at the foot of his brother's bed reading aloud to
him a passage of Scripture. Hands were laid upon both with brutal
violence; they were dragged into the street; and there with blows of
clubs and repeated stabs done to death. It was 4 p.m. when Tilly
departed, at 4.30 all was over, but the infuriated rabble were not
content with mere murder. The bodies were shamefully mis-handled and
were finally hung up by the feet to a lamppost, round which to a late
hour in the evening a crowd shouted, sang and danced. It is impossible
to conceive a fate more horrible or less deserved. The poor dishonoured
remains were taken down when night fell by faithful hands and were at
dawn in the presence of a few relatives and friends interred in the
Nieuwe Kerk.

That William III had any complicity in this _execrable faict_, as it
was well styled by the new council-pensionary Fagel, there is not the
slightest evidence. He was absent from the Hague at the time and wholly
preoccupied with the sore necessities of the military position; and it
is said that he was much affected at hearing the dreadful news. But his
naturally cold and self-contained nature had been hardened in the school
of adversity during the long years of humiliation which had been imposed
upon him by John de Witt and his party. He had endured in proud patience
awaiting the hour when he could throw off the yoke, and now that it had
come he could not forgive. Under the plea that the number of those
implicated in the deed was so large that it was impossible to punish
them and thus stir up party passions at a time when the whole energies
of the nation were needed for the war, he took no steps to bring the
offenders to justice. Unfortunately for his reputation he was not
content with a neutral attitude, but openly protected and rewarded the
three chief offenders Tichelaer, Verhoef and Van Bankhem, all of them
men of disreputable character.

Thus two of the greatest statesmen and patriots that Holland has
produced, John van Oldenbarneveldt and John de Witt, both perished
miserably, victims of the basest national ingratitude; and it will ever
remain a stain upon the national annals and upon the memory of two
illustrious Princes of Orange, Maurice and William III, that these
tragedies were not averted.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XVIII

THE STADHOLDERATE OF WILLIAM III, 1672-1688


In the early summer of 1672, when William resolved to concentrate all
his available forces for the defence of Holland covered by its
water-line, the military situation was apparently hopeless. Had Turenne
and Luxemburg made a united effort to force this line at the opening of
the campaign the probability is that they would have succeeded. Instead
of doing so they expended their energies in the capture of a number of
fortified places in Gelderland, Overyssel and North Brabant; and in the
meantime the stadholder was week by week strengthening the weak points
in his defences, encouraging his men, personally supervising every
detail and setting an example of unshaken courage and of ceaseless
industry. He had at his side, as his field-marshal, George Frederick,
Count of Waldeck, an officer of experience and skill who had entered the
Republic's service, and Van Beverningh as Commissioner of the
States-General. With their help and counsel he had before autumn an
efficient army of 57,000 men on guard behind entrenchments at all
assailable points, while armed vessels patrolled the waterways. Outside
the line Nijmwegen, Grave, Coevorden, Steenwijk and other smaller places
had fallen; but the Münster-Cologne forces, after a siege lasting from
July 9 to August 28, had to retire from Groningen. The French armies
were all this time being constantly weakened by having to place
garrisons in the conquered provinces; and neither Turenne nor Luxemburg
felt strong enough to attack the strongly-protected Dutch frontiers
behind the water-line.

The prince, however, was not content with inaction. Assuming the
offensive, he ventured on a series of attacks on Naarden and on Woerden,
raised the siege of Maestricht, and finally made an attempt to cut the
French communications by a march upon Charleroi. All these raids were
more or less failures, since in each case William had to retreat without
effecting anything of importance. Nevertheless the enterprise shown by
the young general had the double effect of heartening his own troops and
of undermining the overweening confidence of the enemy. A hard frost
in December enabled Luxemburg to penetrate into Holland, but a rapid
thaw compelled a hasty withdrawal. The only road open to him was blocked
by a fortified post at Nieuwerbrug, but Colonel Vin et Pain, who was in
command of the Dutch force, retired to Gouda and left the French a free
passage, to the stadholder's great indignation. The colonel was tried on
the charge of deserting his post, and shot.

The year 1673 was marked by a decisive change for the better in the
position of the States. Alarm at the rapid growth of the French power
brought at last both Spanish and Austrian assistance to the hard-pressed
Netherlands; and the courage and skill of De Ruyter held successfully
at bay the united fleets of England and France, and effectually
prevented the landing of an army on the Dutch coast. Never did De Ruyter
exhibit higher qualities of leadership than in the naval campaign of
1673. His fleet was greatly inferior in numbers to the combined
Anglo-French fleet under Prince Rupert and D'Estrées. A stubborn action
took place near the mouth of the Scheldt on June 7, in which the English
had little assistance from the French squadron and finally retired to
the estuary of the Thames. Another fierce fight at Kijkduin on August 21
was still more to the advantage of the Dutch. Meanwhile on land the
French had scored a real success by the capture of the great fortress of
Maestricht with its garrison of 6000 men, after a siege which lasted
from June 6 to July 1. All attempts, however, to pass the water-line and
enter Holland met with failure; and, as the summer drew to its close,
the advance of Imperial and Spanish forces began to render the position
of the French precarious. William seized his opportunity in September to
capture Naarden before Luxemburg could advance to its relief. He then
took a bolder step. In October, at the head of an army of 25,000 men, of
whom 15,000 were Spanish, he marched to Cologne and, after effecting a
junction with the Imperial army, laid siege to Bonn, which surrendered
on November 15. This brilliant stroke had great results. The French,
fearing that their communications might be cut, withdrew from the Dutch
frontier; and at the same time the Münster-Cologne forces hastily
evacuated the eastern provinces. The stadholder before the end of the
year entirely freed the country from its invaders. Once more a Prince of
Orange had saved the Dutch Republic in its extremity.

The effect of this was to place almost supreme power in his hands. Had
the prince at this moment set his heart upon obtaining the title of
sovereign, he would have had but little difficulty in gratifying his
ambition. Leading statesmen like the Council-Pensionary Fagel, the
experienced Van Beverningh, and Valckenier, the most influential man in
Amsterdam, would have supported him. But William was thoroughly
practical. The freeing of the Provinces from the presence of the enemy
was but the beginning of the task which he had already set before
himself as his life-work, _i.e._ the overthrow of the menacing
predominance of the French power under Louis XIV. His first care was the
restoration of the well-nigh ruined land. The country outside the
water-line had been cruelly devastated by the invaders, and then
impoverished by having for a year and a half to maintain the armies of
occupation. Large tracts on the borders of Holland, Utrecht and
Friesland, submerged by the sea-waters through the cutting of the dams,
had been rendered valueless for some years to come, while those parts of
Holland and Zeeland on which the enemy had not set foot had been crushed
beneath heavy taxes and the loss of commerce.

The position of the three provinces, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overyssel,
which had been overrun by the French at the opening of hostilities and
held by them ever since, had to be re-settled. They had, during this
period, paid no taxes, and had no representation in the States-General.
Holland was in favour of reducing them to the status of Generality-lands
until they had paid their arrears. The prince was opposed to any
harshness of treatment, and his will prevailed. The three provinces were
re-admitted into the Union, but with shorn privileges; and William was
elected stadholder by each of them with largely increased powers. The
nomination, or the choice out of a certain number of nominees, of the
members of the Town-Corporations, of the Courts of Justice and of the
delegates to the States-General, was granted to him. The Dutch Republic
was full of anomalies. In Utrecht, Gelderland and Overyssel we have the
curious spectacle in the days of William III of the stadholder, who was
nominally a servant of the Sovereign Estates, himself appointing his
masters. As a matter of fact, the voice of these provinces was his
voice; and, as he likewise controlled the Estates in Zeeland, he could
always count upon a majority vote in the States-General in support of
his foreign policy. Nor was this all.

Holland itself, in gratitude for its deliverance, had become
enthusiastically Orangist. It declared the stadholdership hereditary in
the male-line, and its example was followed by Zeeland, Utrecht,
Gelderland and Overyssel, while the States-General in their turn made
the captain-and admiral-generalship of the Union hereditary offices. Nor
was gratitude confined to the conferring of powers and dignities which
gave the prince in all but name monarchical authority. At the proposal
of Amsterdam, the city which so often had been and was yet to be the
stubborn opponent of the Princes of Orange, William II's debt of
2,000,000 fl. was taken over by the province of Holland; Zeeland
presented him with 30,000 fl.; and the East India Company with a grant
of 1/33 of its dividends.

From the very first William had kept steadily in view a scheme of
forming a great coalition to curb the ambitious designs of Louis XIV;
and for effecting this object an alliance between England and the United
Provinces was essential. The first step was to conclude peace. This was
not a difficult task. The English Parliament, and still more the English
people, had throughout been averse from fighting on the side of the
French against the Dutch. Charles II, with the help of French money, had
been carrying on the war in opposition to the wishes of his subjects,
who saw their fleets but feebly supported by their French allies, their
trade seriously injured, and but little chance of gaining any
advantageous return for the heavy cost. Charles himself had a strong
affection for his nephew, and began to turn a favourable ear to his
proposals for negotiations, more especially as his heroic efforts to
stem the tide of French invasion had met with so much success. In these
circumstances everything was favourable to an understanding; and peace
was concluded at Westminster on February 19,1674. The terms differed
little from those of Breda, except that the Republic undertook to pay a
war indemnity of 2,000,000 fl. within three years. The striking of the
flag was conceded. Surinam remained in Dutch hands. New York, which had
been retaken by a squadron under Cornelis Evertsen, August, 1673, was
given back to the English crown. Negotiations were likewise opened with
Münster and Cologne; and peace was concluded with Münster (April 22) and
with Cologne (May 11) on the basis of the evacuation of all conquered
territory. France was isolated and opposed now by a strong coalition,
the Republic having secured the help of Austria, Spain, Brandenburg and
Denmark. The campaign of the summer of 1674 thus opened under favouring
circumstances, but nothing of importance occurred until August 11, when
William at the head of an allied force of some 70,000 men encountered
Condé at Seneff in Hainault. The battle was fought out with great
obstinacy and there were heavy losses on both sides. The French,
however, though inferior in numbers had the advantage in being a more
compact force than that of the allies; and William, poorly supported by
the Imperialist contingents, had to retire from the field. He was never
a great strategist, but he now conducted a retreat which extracted
admiration from his opponents. His talents for command always showed
themselves most conspicuously in adverse circumstances. His coolness and
courage in moments of peril and difficulty never deserted him, and,
though a strict disciplinarian, he always retained the confidence and
affection of his soldiers. On October 27 Grave was captured, leaving
only one of the Dutch fortresses, Maestricht, in the hands of the
French.

The war on land dragged on without any decisive results during 1675. The
stadholder was badly supported by his allies and reduced to the
defensive; but, though tentative efforts were made by the English
government to set on foot negotiations for peace, and a growing party in
Holland were beginning to clamour for the cessation of a war which was
crippling their trade and draining the resources of the country, the
prince was resolutely opposed to the English offer of mediation, which
he regarded as insincere and premature. He was well aware that there was
in England a very strong and widespread opposition to the succession of
James Duke of York, who made no secret of his devoted attachment to the
Roman Catholic faith. So strong was the feeling that he had been
compelled to resign his post of Lord-High-Admiral. The dislike and
distrust he aroused had been accentuated by his second marriage to Mary
of Modena, a zealous Catholic. William was the son of the eldest
daughter of Charles I, and to him the eyes of a large party in England
were turning. The prince was keenly alive to the political advantages of
his position. He kept himself well informed of the intrigues of the
court and of the state of public opinion by secret agents, and entered
into clandestine correspondence with prominent statesmen. Charles II
himself, though he had not the smallest sympathy with his nephew's
political views, was as kindly disposed to him as his selfish and
unprincipled nature would allow, and he even went so far as to encourage
in 1674 an alliance between him and his cousin Mary, the elder daughter
of the Duke of York. But William had at that time no inclination for
marriage. He was preoccupied with other things, and the age of Mary--she
was only twelve--rendered it easy for him to postpone his final
decision.

Events were to force his hand. In 1676 the French king, fearing the
power of the coalition that was growing in strength, endeavoured to
detach the republic by offering to make a separate peace on generous
terms. Despite the opposition of the stadholder, Dutch and French
representatives met at Nijmwegen; but William by his obdurate attitude
rendered any settlement of the points in dispute impossible. In 1677,
however, the capture of Valenciennes by the French and their decisive
defeat of the allied army under William's command at Mont-Cassel (April
11) made it more difficult for him to resist the growing impatience of
the burgher-class in Holland and especially of the merchants of
Amsterdam at his opposition to peace. He was accused of wishing to
continue the war from motives of personal ambition and the desire of
military glory. In February of this year, however, Charles II after a
period of personal rule was through lack of resources compelled to
summon parliament. It no sooner met than it showed its strong sympathy
with the Netherlands; and the king speedily saw that he could no longer
pursue a policy opposed to the wishes of his people. When, therefore,
William sent over his most trusted friend and counsellor, Bentinck, to
London on a secret mission in the summer, he met with a most favourable
reception; and the prince himself received an invitation to visit his
uncle with the special object of renewing the proposal for his marriage
with the Princess Mary. William accordingly arrived in London on October
19; and, the assent of the king and the Duke of York being obtained, the
wedding was celebrated with almost indecent haste. It was a purely
political union; and when, early in December, the Prince and Princess of
Orange set sail for Holland, the young girl wept bitterly at having to
leave her home for a strange land at the side of a cold, unsympathetic
husband. The weeks he spent in England had been utilised by the prince
to good purpose. He persuaded Charles to promise his support by land
and sea to the Netherlands in case the terms of peace offered by the
allies were rejected by the French. A treaty between the States and
Great Britain giving effect to this promise was actually signed on
January 29, 1678. The results, however, did not answer William's
expectations. The English Parliament and the States alike had no trust
in King Charles, nor was the English match at first popular in Holland.
A strong opposition arose against the prince's war policy. The
commercial classes had been hard hit by the French invasion, and they
were now suffering heavy losses at sea through the Dunkirk privateers
led by the daring Jean Bart. The peace party included such tried and
trusted statesmen as Van Beverningh, Van Beuningen and the
Council-Pensionary Fagel, all of them loyal counsellors of the
stadholder. So resolute was the attitude of Amsterdam that the leaders
of both municipal parties, Valckenier and Hooft, were agreed in
demanding that the French offers of a separate peace should be accepted.
On the same side was found Henry Casimir, Stadholder of Friesland, who
was jealous of his cousin's autocratic exercise of authority.

The _pourparlers_ at Nijmwegen were still going on, but made no progress
in face of William's refusal to treat except in concert with his allies.
Louis XIV, however, fully informed of the state of public opinion and of
the internal dissensions both in the United Provinces and in England,
was not slow to take advantage of the situation. A powerful French army
invaded Flanders and made themselves masters of Ypres and Ghent and
proceeded to besiege Mons. William, despite the arrival of an English
auxiliary force under Monmouth, could do little to check the enemy's
superior forces. Meanwhile French diplomacy was busy at Amsterdam and
elsewhere in the States, working against the war parties; and by the
offer of favourable terms the States-General were induced to ask for a
truce of six weeks. It was granted, and the Dutch and Spanish
representatives at Nijmwegen (those of the emperor, of Brandenburg and
of Denmark refusing to accede) speedily agreed to conclude peace on the
following terms: the French to restore Maestricht and to evacuate all
occupied Dutch territory, and to make a commercial treaty. Spain to
surrender an important slice of southern Flanders, but to be left in
possession of a belt of fortresses to cover their Netherland possessions
against further French attack. But, though these conditions were
accepted, the French raised various pretexts to delay the signature of
the treaty, hoping that meanwhile Mons, which was closely beleaguered
by Luxemburg, might fall into their hands, and thus become an asset
which they could exchange for some other possession. The States and the
Spanish Government were both anxious to avoid this; and the Prince of
Orange, who steadily opposed the treaty, returned towards the end of
July to his camp to watch the siege of Mons and prevent its falling into
the hands of the enemy. At the same time (July 26) King Charles, who had
been working through Sir William Temple for the conclusion of peace, now
declared that, unless the treaty was signed before August 11, he would
assist the allies to enforce it. The French diplomatists at Nijmwegen
had hitherto declared that their troops would not evacuate Maestricht
and the other places which they had agreed to restore to the States,
until Brandenburg and Denmark had evacuated the territory they had
conquered from Sweden. On August 10, just before time for resuming
hostilities had been reached, they tactfully conceded this point and
promised immediate evacuation, if the treaty were at once concluded. Van
Beverningh and his colleagues accordingly, acting on their instructions,
affixed their signatures just before midnight.

They fell into the trap laid for them, for the treaty between France and
Spain was not yet signed, and it was the intention of the French to make
further pretexts for delay in the hope that Mons meanwhile would fall.
The report of the conclusion of peace reached the stadholder in his camp
on August 13, but unofficially. On the morning of August 14 D'Estrades
came personally to bring the news to Luxemburg; and the French marshal
was on the point of forwarding the message to the Dutch camp, when he
heard that Orange was advancing with his army to attack him, and he felt
that honour compelled him to accept the challenge. A sanguinary fight
took place at St Denis, a short distance from Mons. William exposed his
life freely, and though the result was nominally a drawn battle, he
achieved his purpose. Luxemburg raised the siege of Mons, and the
negotiations with Spain were pressed forward. The treaty was signed on
September 17, 1678. The peace of Nijmwegen thus brought hostilities to
an end, leaving the United Provinces in possession of all their
territory. It lasted ten years, but it was only an armed truce. Louis
XIV desired a breathing space in which to prepare for fresh aggressions;
and his tireless opponent, the Prince of Orange, henceforth made it the
one object of his life to form a Grand Alliance to curb French
ambition and uphold in Europe what was henceforth known as "the Balance
of Power."

In setting about this task William was confronted with almost
insuperable difficulties. The Dutch people generally had suffered
terribly in the late invasions and were heartily sick of war. The
interest of the Hollanders and especially of the Amsterdammers was
absorbed in the peaceful pursuits of commerce. The far-reaching plans
and international combinations, upon which William concentrated his
whole mind and energies, had no attraction for them, even had they
understood their purpose and motive. The consequence was that the prince
encountered strong opposition, and this not merely in Holland and
Amsterdam, but from his cousin Henry Casimir and the two provinces of
which he was stadholder. In Amsterdam the old "States" party revived
under the leadership of Valckenier and Hooft; and in his latter days Van
Beuningen was ready to resist to the utmost any considerable outlay on
the army or navy or any entangling alliances. They held that it was the
business of the Republic to attend to its own affairs and to leave Louis
to pursue his aggressive policy at the expense of other countries, so
long as he left them alone. The ideal which William III had set before
him was the exact reverse of this; and, unfortunately for his own
country, throughout his life he often subordinated its particular
interests to the wider European interests which occupied his attention.

The work of building up afresh a coalition to withstand the ever-growing
menace of the formidable French power could scarcely have been more
unpromising than it now appeared. Spain was utterly exhausted and
feeble. Brandenburg and Denmark had been alienated by the States
concluding a separate peace at Nijmwegen and leaving them in the lurch.
The attention of the emperor was fully occupied in defending Hungary and
Vienna itself against the Turks. England under Charles II was
untrustworthy and vacillating, almost a negligible quantity. A visit
made by William to London convinced him that nothing was at present to
be hoped for from that quarter. At the same time the very able French
ambassador at the Hague, D'Avaux, did his utmost to foment the divisions
and factions in the Provinces. He always insisted that he was accredited
to the States-General and not to the Prince of Orange, and carried on
correspondence and intrigues with the party in Amsterdam opposed to
the stadholder's anti-French policy. The cumbrous and complicated system
of government enabled him thus to do much to thwart the prince and to
throw obstacles in his way. The curious thing is, that William was so
intent on his larger projects that he was content to use the powers he
had without making any serious attempt, as he might have done, to make
the machine of government more workable by reforms in the direction of
centralisation. Immersed in foreign affairs, he left the internal
administration in the hands of subordinates chosen rather for their
subservience than for their ability and probity; and against several of
them, notably against his relative Odijk, serious charges were made.
Odijk, representing the prince as first noble in Zeeland, had a large
patronage; and he shamelessly enriched himself by his venal traffic in
the disposal of offices without a word of rebuke from William, in whose
name he acted. On the contrary, he continued to enjoy his favour.
Corruption was scarcely less rife in Holland, though no one practised it
quite on the same scale as Odijk in Zeeland. William indeed cared little
about the domestic politics of the Republic, except in so far as they
affected his diplomatic activities; and in this domain he knew how to
employ able and devoted men. He had Waldeck at his side not merely as a
military adviser, but as a skilful diplomatist well versed in the
intricate politics of the smaller German states; Everhard van Weede,
lord of Dijkveld, and Godard van Rheede, lord of Amerongen, proved
worthy successors of Van Beverningh and Van Beuningen. Through the
Council-Pensionary Fagel he was able to retain the support of the
majority in the Estates of Holland, despite the strong opposition he
encountered at Amsterdam and some other towns, where the interests of
commerce reigned supreme. The death of Gillis Valckenier, the ablest of
the leaders of the opposition in Amsterdam, in 1680 left the control of
affairs in that city in the hands of Nicolaes Witsen and Johan Hudde,
but these were men of less vigour and determination than Valckenier.

Louis XIV meanwhile had been actively pushing forward his schemes of
aggrandisement. Strasburg was seized in August, 1681; Luxemburg was
occupied; claims were made under the treaty of Nijmwegen to certain
portions of Flanders and Brabant, and troops were despatched to take
possession of them. There was general alarm; and, with the help of
Waldeck, William was able to secure the support of a number of the
small German states in the Rhenish circle, most of them always ready to
hire out their armed forces for a subsidy. Sweden also offered
assistance. But both England and Brandenburg were in secret collusion
with France, and the emperor would not move owing to the Turkish menace.

In these circumstances Spain was compelled (1684) by the entry of the
armies of Louis into the southern Netherlands to declare war upon
France, and called upon the States for their military aid of 8000 men in
accordance with the terms of the treaty of Nijmwegen. Orange at once
referred the matter to the Council of State, and himself proposed that
16,000 should be sent. As this, however, could only mean a renewal of
the war with France, the proposal met with strong opposition in many
quarters, and especially in Amsterdam. Prosperity was just beginning to
revive, and a remembrance of past experiences filled the hearts of many
with dread at the thought of the French armies once more invading their
land. The Amsterdam regents even went so far as to enter into secret
negotiations with D'Avaux; and they were supported by Henry Casimir, who
was always ready to thwart his cousin's policy. William was checkmated
and at first, in his anger, inclined to follow his father's example and
crush the opposition of Amsterdam by force. He possessed however, which
William II had not, the support of a majority in the Estates of Holland.
He used this with effect. The raising of the troops was sanctioned by
the Estates (January 31, 1684), an intercepted cipher-letter from
D'Avaux being skilfully used to discredit the Amsterdam leaders, who
were accused of traitorous correspondence with a foreign power.
Nevertheless the prince, although he was able to override any active
opposition at home, did not venture, so long as England and Brandenburg
were on friendly relations with France, to put pressure upon the
States-General. The French troops, to the prince's chagrin, overran
Flanders; and he had no alternative but to concur in the truce for
twenty years concluded at Ratisbon, August 15, 1684, which left the
French king in possession of all his conquests.

No more conclusive proof of the inflexible resolve of William III can be
found than the patience he now exhibited. His faith in himself was never
shaken, and his patience in awaiting the favourable moment was
inexhaustible. To him far more appropriately than to his
great-grandfather might the name of William the Silent have been
given. He had no confidants, except Waldeck and William Bentinck; and
few could even guess at the hidden workings of that scheming mind or at
the burning fires of energy and will-power beneath the proud and frigid
reserve of a man so frail in body and always ailing. Very rarely could a
born leader of men have been more unamiable or less anxious to win
popular applause, but his whole demeanour inspired confidence and,
ignoring the many difficulties and oppositions which thwarted him, he
steadfastly bided his time and opportunity. It now came quickly, for the
year 1685 was marked by two events--the accession of James II to the
throne of England, and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes--which were
to have far-reaching consequences.

The new King of England was not merely a strong but a bigoted Roman
Catholic. Had he been a wise and patriotic prince, he would have tried
by a studiously moderate policy to win the loyal allegiance of his
subjects, but he was stubborn, wrong-headed and fanatical, and from the
first he aimed at the impossible. His attempts to establish absolute
rule, to bring back the English nation to the fold of the Catholic
Church and, as a means to that end, to make himself independent of
Parliament by accepting subsidies from the French king, were bound to
end in catastrophe. This was more especially the case as Louis XIV had,
at the very time of King James' accession, after having for a number of
years persecuted the Huguenots in defiance of the Edict of Nantes, taken
the step of revoking that great instrument of religious toleration on
November 17, 1685. The exile of numerous families, who had already been
driven out by the _dragonnades_, was now followed by the expulsion of
the entire Huguenot body, of all at least who refused to conform to the
Catholic faith. How many hundreds of thousands left their homes to find
refuge in foreign lands it is impossible to say, but amongst them were
great numbers of industrious and skilled artisans and handicraftsmen,
who sought asylum in the Dutch Republic and there found a ready and
sympathetic welcome. The arrival of these unhappy immigrants had the
effect of arousing a strong feeling of indignation in Holland, and
indeed throughout the provinces, against the government of Louis XIV.
They began to see that the policy of the French king was not merely one
of territorial aggression, but was a crusade against Protestantism. The
governing classes in Holland, Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen were
stirred up by the preachers to enforce more strictly the laws against
the Catholics in those provinces, for genuine alarm was felt at the
French menace to the religion for which their fathers had fought and
suffered. The cause of Protestantism was one with which the Princes of
Orange had identified themselves; but none of his ancestors was so keen
an upholder of that cause as was William III. The presence in their
midst of the Huguenot refugees had the effect of influencing public
opinion powerfully in the States in favour of their stadholder's warlike
policy. Nor was the Dutch Republic the only State which was deeply moved
by the ruthless treatment of his Protestant subjects by the French king.
The Elector of Brandenburg, as head of the principal Protestant State in
Germany, had also offered an asylum to the French exiles and now
reverted once more to his natural alliance with the United Provinces. He
sent his trusted councillor, Paul Fuchs, in May, 1685, to offer to his
nephew, the Prince of Orange, his friendly co-operation in the formation
of a powerful coalition against France. Fuchs was a skilled diplomatist,
and by his mediation an understanding was arrived at between the
stadholder and his opponents in Amsterdam. At the same time strong
family influence was brought to bear upon Henry Casimir of Friesland,
and a reconciliation between the two stadholders was effected. William
thus found himself, before the year 1685 came to an end, able to pursue
his policy without serious let or hindrance. He was quite ready to seize
his opportunity, and by tactful diplomacy he succeeded by August, 1686,
in forming an alliance between the United Provinces, Brandenburg,
Sweden, Austria, Spain and a number of the smaller Rhenish states, to
uphold the treaties of Westphalia and Nijmwegen against the
encroachments of French military aggression. But the design of William
was still incomplete. The naval power and financial resources of England
were needed to enable the coalition to grapple successfully with the
mighty centralised power of Louis XIV.

In England the attempt of James II to bring about a Catholic reaction
by the arbitrary use of the royal prerogative was rapidly alienating the
loyalty of all classes, including many men of high position, and even
some of his own ministers. William watched keenly all that was going on
and kept himself in close correspondence with several of the principal
malcontents. He was well aware that all eyes were turning to him (and he
accepted the position) as the natural defender, should the need
arise, of England's civil and religious liberties. The need arose and
the call came in the summer of 1688, and it found William prepared. The
climax of the conflict between King James and his people was reached
with the acquittal of the Seven Bishops in May, 1688, amidst public
rejoicings, speedily followed on June 10 by the birth of a Prince of
Wales. The report was spread that the child was supposititious and it
was accepted as true by large numbers of persons, including the Princess
Anne, and also, on the strength of her testimony, by the Prince and
Princess of Orange.

The secret relations of William with the leaders of opposition had for
some time been carried on through his trusted confidants, Dijkveld, the
State's envoy at the English Court, and William of Nassau, lord of
Zuilestein. A bold step was now taken. Several Englishmen of note signed
an invitation to the prince to land in England with an armed force in
defence of the religion and liberties of the country; and it was brought
to him by Admiral Russell, one of the signatories. After some hesitation
William, with the consent and approval of the princess, decided to
accept it. No man ever had a more loyal and devoted wife than William
III of Orange, and he did not deserve it. For some years after his
marriage he treated Mary with coldness and neglect. He confessed on one
occasion to Bishop Burnet that his churlishness was partly due to
jealousy; he could not bear the thought that Mary might succeed to the
English throne and he would in that country be inferior in rank to his
wife. The bishop informed the princess, who at once warmly declared
that she would never accept the crown unless her husband received not
merely the title of king, but the prerogatives of a reigning sovereign.
From that time forward a complete reconciliation took place between
them, and the affection and respect of William for this loyal,
warm-hearted and self-sacrificing woman deepened as the years went on.
Mary's character, as it is revealed in her private diaries, which have
been preserved, deserves those epithets. Profoundly religious and a
convinced Protestant, Mary with prayers for guidance and not without
many tears felt that the resolve of her husband to hazard all on armed
intervention in England was fully justified; and at this critical
juncture she had no hesitation in allowing her sense of duty to her
husband and her country to override that of a daughter to her father.
Already in July vigorous preparations in all secrecy began to be made
for the expedition. The naval yards were working at full pressure with
the ostensible object of sending out a fleet to suppress piracy in the
Mediterranean. The stadholder felt that he was able to rely upon the
willing co-operation of the States in his project. His difficulty now,
as always, was to secure the assent of Amsterdam. But the opposition of
that city proved less formidable than was anticipated. The peril to
Protestantism should England under James II be leagued with France, was
evident, and scarcely less the security of the commerce on which
Amsterdam depended for its prosperity. The support of Amsterdam secured
that of the Estates of Holland; and finally, after thus surmounting
successfully the elements of opposition in the town and the province,
where the anti-Orange party was most strongly represented, the prince
had little difficulty in obtaining, on October 8, the unanimous approval
of the States-General, assembled in secret session, to the proposed
expedition. By that time an army of 14,000 men had been gathered
together and was encamped at Mook. Of these the six English and Scottish
regiments, who now, as throughout the War of Independence, were
maintained in the Dutch service, formed the nucleus. The force also
comprised the prince's Dutch guards and other picked Dutch troops, and
also some German levies. Marshal Schomberg was in command. The pretext
assigned was the necessity of protecting the eastern frontier of the
Republic against an attack from Cologne, where Cardinal Fürstenberg, the
nominee and ally of Louis XIV, had been elected to the archiepiscopal
throne.

Meanwhile diplomacy was active. D'Avaux was far too clear-sighted not to
have discerned the real object of the naval and military preparations,
and he warned both Louis XIV and James II. James, however, was obdurate
and took no heed, while Louis played his enemy's game by declaring war
on the Emperor and the Pope, and by invading the Palatinate instead of
the Republic. For William had been doing his utmost to win over to his
side, by the agency of Waldeck and Bentinck, the Protestant Princes of
Germany, with the result that Brandenburg, Hanover, Saxony, Brunswick
and Hesse had undertaken to give him active support against a French
attack; while the constant threat against her possessions in the Belgic
Netherlands compelled Spain to join the anti-French league which the
stadholder had so long been striving to bring into existence. To
these were now added the Emperor and the Pope, who, being actually at
war with France, were ready to look favourably upon an expedition which
would weaken the common enemy. The Grand Alliance of William's dreams
had thus (should his expedition to England prove successful) come within
the range of practical politics; and with his base secured Orange now
determined to delay no longer, but to stake everything upon the issue of
the English venture.

The prince bade farewell to the States-General on October 26, and four
days later he set sail from Helvoetsluis, but was driven back by a heavy
storm, which severely damaged the fleet. A fresh start was made on
November 11. Admiral Herbert was in command of the naval force, which
convoyed safely through the Channel without opposition the long lines of
transports. Over the prince's vessel floated his flag with the words
_Pro Religione et Libertate_ inscribed above the motto of the House of
Orange, _Je maintiendray_. Without mishap a landing was effected at
Torbay, November 14 (5 o.s.), which was William's birthday, and a rapid
march was made to Exeter. He met with no armed resistance. James'
troops, his courtiers, his younger daughter the Princess Anne, all
deserted him; and finally, after sending away his wife and infant son to
France, the king himself left his palace at Whitehall by night and fled
down the river to Sheerness. Here he was recognised and brought back to
London. It was thought, however, best to connive at his escape, and he
landed on the coast of France at Christmas. The expedition had achieved
its object and William, greeted as a deliverer, entered the capital at
the head of his army.

On February 13,1689, a convention, specially summoned for the
purpose, declared that James by his flight had vacated the throne;
and the crown was offered to William and Mary jointly, the
executive power being placed in the hands of the prince.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XIX

THE KING-STADHOLDER, 1688-1702


The accession of William III to the throne of England was an event
fraught with important consequences to European politics and to the
United Provinces. The king was enabled at last to realise the formation
of that Grand Alliance for which he had so long been working. The treaty
of Vienna, signed on May 12, 1689, encircled France with a ring of
enemies, and saw the Emperor and Spain united with the Protestant
powers, England, the States and many of the German princes in a bond of
alliance for the maintenance of the treaties of Westphalia and the
Pyrenees. It was not without some difficulty that William succeeded in
inducing the States to enter into an offensive and defensive alliance
with England. A special embassy consisting of Witsen, Odijk, Dijkveld
and others was sent to London early in 1689 to endeavour to bring about
some mutually advantageous arrangement of the various conflicting
maritime and commercial interests of the two countries. But they could
effect nothing. The English government refused either to repeal or
modify the Navigation Act or to reduce the toll for fishing privileges;
and it required all the personal influence of William to secure the
signing of a treaty (September 3), which many leading Hollanders
considered to be a subordinating of Dutch to English interests. And
they were right; from this time began that decline of Dutch commercial
supremacy which was to become more and more marked as the 18th century
progressed. The policy of William III, as Frederick the Great remarked
most justly, placed Holland in the position of a sloop towed behind the
English ship-of-the-line.

The carrying trade of the world was still, however, in the reign of
William III practically in the hands of the Dutch, despite the losses
that had been sustained during the English wars and the French invasion.
The only competitor was England under the shelter of the Navigation Act.
The English had, under favourable conditions, their staple at Dordrecht,
the Scots their staple at Veere; and the volume of trade under the
new conditions of close alliance was very considerable. But the imports
largely exceeded the exports; and both exports and imports had to be
carried in English bottoms. The Baltic (or Eastern) trade remained a
Dutch monopoly, as did the trade with Russia through Archangel. Almost
all the ships that passed through the Sound were Dutch; and they
frequented all the Baltic ports, whether Russian, Scandinavian or
German, bringing the commodities of the South and returning laden with
hemp, tallow, wood, copper, iron, corn, wax, hides and other raw
products for distribution in other lands. The English had a small number
of vessels in the Mediterranean and the Levant, and frequented the
Spanish and Portuguese harbours, but as yet they hardly interfered with
the Dutch carrying-trade in those waters. The whole trade of Spain with
her vast American dominions was by law restricted to the one port of
Cadiz; but no sooner did the galleons bringing the rich products of
Mexico and Peru reach Cadiz than the bulk of their merchandise was
quickly transhipped into Dutch vessels, which here, as elsewhere, were
the medium through which the exchange of commodities between one country
and another was effected. It was a profitable business, and the
merchants of Amsterdam and of the other Dutch commercial centres grew
rich and prospered.

The position of the Dutch in the East Indies at the close of the 17th
century is one of the marvels of history. The East India Company, with
its flourishing capital at Batavia, outdistanced all competitors. It was
supreme in the Indian archipelago and along all the shores washed by the
Indian Ocean. The governor-general was invested with great powers and,
owing to his distance from the home authority, was able to make
unfettered use of them during his term of office. He made treaties and
conducted wars and was looked upon by the princes and petty rulers of
the Orient as a mighty potentate. The conquest of Macassar in 1669, the
occupation of Japara and Cheribon in 1680, of Bantam in 1682, of
Pondicherry in 1693, together with the possession of Malacca and of the
entire coast of Ceylon, of the Moluccas, and of the Cape of Good Hope,
gave to the Dutch the control of all the chief avenues of trade
throughout those regions. By treaties of alliance and commerce with the
Great Mogul and other smaller sovereigns and chieftains factories were
established at Hooghly on the Ganges, at Coelim, Surat, Bender Abbas,
Palembang and many other places. In the Moluccas they had the entire
spice trade in their hands. Thus a very large part of the products of
the Orient found its way to Europe by way of Amsterdam, which had become
increasingly the commercial emporium and centre of exchange for the
world.

The West India Company, on the other hand, had been ruined by the loss
of its Brazilian dominion followed by the English wars. Its charter came
to an end in 1674, but it was replaced by a new Company on a more
moderate scale. Its colonies on the Guiana coast, Surinam, Berbice and
Essequibo were at the end of the 17th century in an impoverished
condition, but already beginning to develop the sugar plantations which
were shortly to become a lucrative industry; and the island of Curaçoa
had the unenviable distinction of being for some years one of the chief
centres of the negro slave trade.

In the United Provinces themselves one of the features of this period
was the growth of many new industries and manufactures, largely due to
the influx of Huguenot refugees, many of whom were skilled artisans. Not
only did the manufacturers of cloth and silk employ a large number of
hands, but also those of hats, gloves, ribbons, trimmings, laces, clocks
and other articles, which had hitherto been chiefly produced in France.
One of the consequences of the rapid increase of wealth was a change in
the simple habits, manners and dress, which hitherto travellers had
noted as one of the most remarkable characteristics of the Hollanders.
Greater luxury began to be displayed, French fashions and ways of life
to be imitated, and the French language to be used as the medium of
intercourse among the well-to-do classes. Another sign of the times was
the spread of the spirit of speculation and of gambling in stocks and
shares, showing that men were no longer content to amass wealth by the
slow process of ordinary trade and commerce. This state of prosperity,
which was largely due to the security which the close alliance with
England brought to the Republic, explains in no small measure the
acquiescence of the Dutch in a state of things which made the smaller
country almost a dependency of the larger. They were proud that their
stadholder should reign as king in Britain; and his prolonged absences
did not diminish their strong attachment to him or lessen his authority
among them. So much greater indeed was the power exercised by William in
the Republic than that which, as a strictly constitutional sovereign, he
possessed in the kingdom, that it was wittily said that the Prince of
Orange was stadholder in England and king in Holland.

It must not be supposed, however, that William in his capacity as
stadholder was free from worries and trials. He had many; and, as usual,
Amsterdam was the chief centre of unrest. After the expedition set sail
for Torbay, William was continuously absent for no less than two and a
half years. It is no wonder therefore that during so long a period, when
the attention of the king was absorbed by other pressing matters,
difficulties should have arisen in his administration of the affairs of
the Republic. It was very unfortunate that his most able and trusted
friend and adviser, the Council-Pensionary Fagel, should have died, in
December, 1688, just when William's enterprise in England had reached
its most critical stage. Fagel was succeeded, after a brief interval, in
his most important and influential office by Antony Heinsius. Heinsius,
who had been for some years Pensionary of Delft, was a modest, quiet
man, already forty-five years of age, capable, experienced and
business-like. His tact and statesmanlike qualities were of the greatest
service to William and scarcely less to his country, at a time when
urgent duties in England made it so difficult for the stadholder to give
personal attention to the internal affairs of the Republic. No other
Prince of Orange had ever so favourable an opportunity as William III
for effecting such changes in the system of government and
administration in the Dutch Republic as would simplify and co-ordinate
its many rival and conflicting authorities, and weld its seven
sovereign provinces into a coherent State with himself (under whatever
title) as its "eminent head." At the height of his power his will could
have over-ridden local or partisan opposition, for he had behind him the
prestige of his name and deeds and the overwhelming support of popular
opinion. But William had little or no interest in these constitutional
questions. Being childless, he had no dynastic ambitions. The nearest
male representative of his house was Henry Casimir, the stadholder of
Friesland, with whom his relations had been far from friendly. In his
mind, everything else was subordinate to the one and overruling purpose
of his life, the overthrow of the power of Louis XIV and of French
ascendancy in Europe.

The great coalition which had been formed in 1689 by the treaty of
Vienna was, in the first years of the war which then broke out,
attended with but mediocre success. The French armies laid waste the
Palatinate with great barbarity, and then turned their attentions to the
southern Netherlands. The attempted invasion was, however, checked by an
allied force (August 25) in a sharp encounter near Charleroi. The next
year, 1690, was particularly unfortunate for the allies. William was
still absent, having been obliged to conduct an expedition to Ireland.
He had placed the aged Marshal Waldeck in command of the Coalition
forces. Waldeck had the redoubtable Luxemburg opposed to him and on July
1 the two armies met at Fleurus, when, after a hard-fought contest, the
allies suffered a bloody defeat. An even greater set-back was the
victory gained by Admiral Tourville over the combined Anglo-Dutch fleet
off Beachy Head (July 10). The Dutch squadron under Cornelis Evertsen
bore the brunt of the fight and suffered heavily. They received little
help from the English contingent; and the English Admiral Torrington was
accused of having wilfully sacrificed his allies. The effect was
serious, for the French enjoyed for a while the rare satisfaction of
holding the command of the Channel. The complete triumph of King William
at the battle of the Boyne (July 12) relieved somewhat the consternation
felt at this naval disaster, and set him free to devote his whole
attention to the Continental war. His return to the Hague early in 1691
caused general rejoicing, and he was there able to concert with his
allies the placing of a large force in the field for the ensuing
campaign. The operations were, however, barren of any satisfactory
results. Luxemburg advanced before the allies were ready, and burnt and
plundered a large tract of country. William, acting on the defensive,
contented himself with covering the capital and the rest of Flanders and
Brabant from attack; and no pitched battle took place.

Great preparations were made by Louis XIV in the spring of 1692 for the
invasion of England. Troops were collected on the coast, and the
squadron under D'Estrées at Toulon was ordered to join the main fleet of
Tourville at Brest. Contrary winds delayed the junction; and Tourville
rashly sailed out and engaged off La Hogue a greatly superior allied
fleet on May 29. The conflict this time chiefly fell upon the English,
and after a fierce fight the French were defeated and fled for refuge
into the shoal waters. Here they were followed by the lighter vessels
and fire-ships of the allies; and the greater part of the French
fleet was either burnt or driven upon the rocks (June 1). The maritime
power of France was for the time being destroyed, and all fears of
invasion dissipated. On land ill-success continued to dog the footsteps
of the allies. The strong fortress of Namur was taken by the French;
and, after a hotly contested battle at Steinkirk, William was compelled
by his old adversary Luxemburg to retreat. William, though he was rarely
victorious on the field of battle, had great qualities as a leader. His
courage and coolness won the confidence of his troops, and he was never
greater than in the conduct of a retreat. This was shown conspicuously
in the following year (1693), when, after a disastrous defeat at
Neerwinden (July 29), again at the hands of Luxemburg, he succeeded at
imminent personal risk in withdrawing his army in good order in face of
the superior forces of the victorious enemy.

In 1694 the allies confined themselves to defensive operations. Both
sides were growing weary of war; and there were strong parties in favour
of negotiating for peace both in the Netherlands and in England. Some of
the burgher-regents of Amsterdam, Dordrecht and other towns even went so
far as to make secret overtures to the French government, and they had
the support of the Frisian Stadholder; but William was resolutely
opposed to accepting such conditions as France was willing to offer,
and his strong will prevailed.

The position of the king in England was made more difficult by the
lamented death of Queen Mary on January 2,1695. William had become
deeply attached to his wife during these last years, and for a time he
was prostrated by grief. But a strong sense of public duty roused him
from his depression; and the campaign of 1695 was signalised by the most
brilliant military exploit of his life, the recapture of Namur. That
town, strong by its natural position, had been fortified by Vauban with
all the resources of engineering skill, and was defended by a powerful
garrison commanded by Marshal Boufflers. But William had with him the
famous Coehoorn, in scientific siege-warfare the equal of Vauban
himself. At the end of a month the town of Namur was taken, but
Boufflers withdrew to the citadel. Villeroy, at the head of an army of
90,000 men, did his utmost to compel the king to raise the siege by
threatening Brussels; but a strong allied force watched his movements
and successfully barred his approach to Namur. At last, on September 5,
Boufflers capitulated after a gallant defence on the condition that
he and his troops should march out with all the honours of war.

The campaign of 1696 was marked by no event of importance; indeed both
sides were thoroughly tired out by the protracted and inconclusive
contest. Moreover the failing health of Charles II of Spain threatened
to open out at any moment the vital question of the succession to the
Spanish throne. Louis XIV, William III and the emperor were all keenly
alive to the importance of the issue, and wished to have their hands
free in order to prepare for a settlement, either by diplomatic means or
by a fresh appeal to arms. But peace was the immediate need, and
overtures were privately made by the French king to each of the allied
powers in 1696. At last it was agreed that plenipotentiaries from all
the belligerents should meet in congress at Ryswyck near the Hague with
the Swedish Count Lilienrot as mediator. The congress was opened on May
9, 1697, but many weeks elapsed before the representatives of the
various powers settled down to business. Heinsius and Dijkveld were the
two chief Dutch negotiators. The emperor, when the other powers had
come to terms, refused to accede; and finally England, Spain and the
United Provinces determined to conclude a separate peace. It was signed
on September 20 and was based upon the treaties of Nijmwegen and
Münster. France, having ulterior motives, had been conciliatory.
Strasburg was retained, but most of the French conquests were given up.
William was recognised as King of England, and the Principality of
Orange was restored to him. With the Dutch a commercial treaty was
concluded for twenty-five years on favourable terms.

It was well understood, however, by all the parties that the peace of
Ryswyck was a truce during which the struggle concerning the Spanish
Succession would be transferred from the field of battle to the field of
diplomacy, in the hope that some solution might be found. The question
was clearly of supreme importance to the States, for it involved the
destiny of the Spanish Netherlands. England, too, had great interests at
stake, and was determined to prevent the annexation of the Belgic
provinces by France. With Charles II the male line of the Spanish
Habsburgs became extinct; and there were three principal claimants in
the female line of succession. The claim of the Dauphin was much the
strongest, for he was the grandson of Anne of Austria, Philip III's
eldest daughter, and the son of Maria Theresa of Austria, Charles
II's eldest sister. But both these queens of France had on their
marriage solemnly renounced their rights of succession. Louis XIV,
however, asserted that his wife's renunciation was invalid, since the
dowry, the payment of which was guaranteed by the marriage contract, had
never been received. The younger sister of Maria Theresa had been
married to the emperor; and two sons and a daughter had been the fruit
of the union. This daughter in her turn had wedded the Elector of
Bavaria, and had issue one boy of ten years. The Elector himself,
Maximilian Emmanuel, had been for five years Governor of the Spanish
Netherlands, where his rule had been exceedingly popular. William knew
that one of the chief objects of the French king in concluding peace was
to break up the Grand Alliance and so prepare the way for a masterful
assertion of his rights as soon as the Spanish throne was vacant; and
with patient diplomatic skill he set to work at once to arrange for such
a partition of the Spanish monarchy among the claimants as should
prevent the Belgic provinces from falling into the hands of a
first-class power and preserve Spain itself with its overseas
possessions from the rule of a Bourbon prince. He had no difficulty in
persuading the States to increase their fleet and army in case diplomacy
should fail, for the Dutch were only too well aware of the seriousness
of the French menace to their independence. In England, where jealousy
of a standing army had always been strong, he was less successful, and
Parliament insisted on the disbanding of many thousands of seasoned
troops. The object at which William aimed was a partition treaty; and a
partition was actually arranged (October 11, 1698). This arrangement,
according to the ideas of the time, paid no respect whatever to the
wishes of the peoples, who were treated as mere pawns by these
unscrupulous diplomatists. The Spanish people, as might be expected,
were vehemently opposed to any partition of the empire of Charles V and
Philip II; and, in consequence of the influences that were brought to
bear upon him, Charles II left by will the young electoral prince,
Joseph Ferdinand, heir to his whole inheritance. By the secret terms of
the partition treaty the crown of Spain together with the Netherlands
and the American colonies had been assigned to the Bavarian claimant,
but the Spanish dominions in Italy were divided between the two other
claimants, the second son of the Dauphin, Philip, Duke of Anjou,
receiving Naples and Sicily; the second son of the emperor, the Archduke
Charles, the Milanese. Unfortunately, Joseph Ferdinand fell sick of the
small-pox and died (March, 1699). With William and Heinsius the main
point now was to prevent the French prince from occupying the Spanish
throne; and in all secrecy negotiations were again opened at the Hague
for a second partition treaty. They found Louis XIV still willing to
conclude a bargain. To the Duke of Anjou was now assigned, in addition
to Naples and Sicily, the duchy of Lorraine (whose duke was to receive
the Milanese in exchange); the rest of the Spanish possessions were to
fall to the Archduke Charles (March, 1700). The terms of this
arrangement between the French king and the maritime powers did not long
remain a secret; and when they were known they displeased the emperor,
who did not wish to see French influence predominant in Italy and his
own excluded, and still more the Spanish people, who objected to any
partition and to the Austrian ruler. The palace of Charles II became a
very hot-bed of intrigues, and finally the dying king was persuaded to
make a fresh will and nominate Anjou as his universal heir. Accordingly
on Charles' death (November 1, 1700) Philip V was proclaimed king.

For a brief time Louis was doubtful as to what course of action
would be most advantageous to French interests, but not for long.
On November 11 he publicly announced to his court at Versailles
that his grandson had accepted the Spanish crown. This step was
followed by the placing of French garrisons in some of the frontier
fortresses of the Belgic Netherlands by consent of the governor,
the Elector of Bavaria. The following months were spent in the vain
efforts of diplomacy to obtain such guarantees from the French
king as would give security to the States and satisfaction to England
and the emperor, and so avoid the outbreak of war. In the States
Heinsius, who was working heart and soul with the stadholder in this
crisis, had no difficulty in obtaining the full support of all parties,
even in Holland, to the necessity of making every effort to be ready
for hostilities. William had a more difficult task in England, but he
had the support of the Whig majority in Parliament and of the
commercial classes; and he laboured hard, despite constant and
increasing ill-health, to bring once more into existence the Grand
Alliance of 1689. In July negotiations were opened between the
maritime powers and the emperor at the Hague, which after lengthy
discussions were brought to a conclusion in September, in no small
degree through the tact and persuasiveness of Lord Marlborough,
the English envoy, who had now begun that career which was shortly
to make his name so famous. The chief provisions of the treaty of
alliance, signed on September 7, 1701, were that Austria was to have
the Italian possessions of Spain; the Belgic provinces were to
remain as a barrier and protection for Holland against French
aggression; and England and the States were to retain any conquests
they might make in the Spanish West Indies. Nothing was said
about the crown of Spain, a silence which implied a kind of
recognition of Philip V. To this league were joined Prussia, Hanover,
Lüneburg, Hesse-Cassel, while France, to whom Spain was now
allied, could count upon the help of Bavaria. War was not yet
declared, but at this very moment Louis XIV took a step which was
wantonly provocative. James II died at St Germain on September 6;
and his son was at once acknowledged by Louis as King of England,
by the title of James III. This action aroused a storm of indignation
among the English people, and William found himself supported
by public opinion in raising troops and obtaining supplies for war.
The preparations were on a vast scale. The emperor undertook to
place 90,000 men in the field; England, 40,000; the German states,
54,000; and the Republic no less than 100,000. William had
succeeded at last in the object of his life; a mighty confederation
had been called into being to maintain the balance of power in
Europe, and overthrow the threatened French domination. This
confederation in arms, of which he was the soul and the acknowledged
head, was destined to accomplish the object for which it was formed,
but not under his leadership. The king had spent the autumn in
Holland in close consultation with Heinsius, visiting the camps, the
arsenals and the dockyards, and giving instructions to the admirals
and generals to have everything in readiness for the campaign of
the following spring. Then in November he went to England to
hurry on the preparations, which were in a more backward condition
than in the States. But he had overtaxed his strength. Always
frail and ailing, William had for years by sheer force of will-power
conquered his bodily weakness and endured the fatigue of campaigns
in which he was content to share all hardships with his
soldiers. In his double capacity, too, of king and stadholder, the
cares of government and the conduct of foreign affairs had left him
no rest. Especially had this been the case in England during the
years which had followed Queen Mary's death, when he found
himself opposed and thwarted and humiliated by party intrigues
and cabals, to such an extent that he more than once thought of
abdicating. He was feeling very ill and tired when he returned, and
he grew weaker, for the winter in England always tried him. His
medical advisers warned him that his case was one for which
medicine was of no avail, and that he was not fit to bear the strain
of the work he was doing. But the indomitable spirit of the man
would not give way, and he still hoped with the spring to be able
to put himself at the head of his army. It was not to be; an accident
was the immediate cause by which the end came quickly. He was
riding in Bushey Park when his horse stumbled over a mole-hill
and the king was thrown, breaking his collar-bone (March 14,1702).
The shock proved fatal in his enfeebled state; and, after lingering
for four days, during which, in full possession of his mental faculties,
he continued to discuss affairs of state, he calmly took leave of his
special friends, Bentinck, Earl of Portland and Keppel, Earl of
Albemarle, and of the English statesmen who stood round his death-bed,
and, after thanking them for their services, passed away.
For four generations the House of Orange had produced great
leaders of men, but it may be said without disparagement to his
famous predecessors that the last heir-male of that House was the
greatest of them all. He saved the Dutch Republic from destruction;
and during the thirty years of what has well been called his reign
he gave to it a weighty place in the Councils of Europe and raised
it to a height of great material prosperity. But even such services
as these were dwarfed by the part that he played in laying the
foundation of constitutional monarchy in England, and of the
balance of power in Europe. It is difficult to say whether Holland,
England or Europe owed the deepest debt to the life-work of
William III.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XX

THE WAR OF THE SPANISH SUCCESSION AND THE TREATIES OF UTRECHT, 1702-1715


William III left no successor to take his place. The younger branch of
the Nassau family, who had been, from the time of John of Nassau,
stadholders of Friesland and, except for one short interval, of
Groningen, and who by the marriage of William Frederick with Albertina
Agnes, younger daughter of Frederick Henry, could claim descent in the
female line from William the Silent, had rendered for several
generations distinguished services to the Republic, but in 1702 had as
its only representative a boy of 14 years of age, by name John William
Friso. As already narrated, the relations between his father, Henry
Casimir, and William III had for a time been far from friendly; but a
reconciliation took place before Henry Casimir's untimely death, and the
king became god-father to John William Friso, and by his will left him
his heir. The boy had succeeded by hereditary right to the posts of
stadholder and captain-general of Friesland and Groningen under the
guardianship of his mother, but such claims as he had to succeed William
III as stadholder in the other provinces were, on account of his youth,
completely ignored. As in 1650, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland
and Overyssel reverted once more to a stadholderless form of government.

Fortunately this implied no change of external policy. The men who had
for years been fellow-workers with King William and were in complete
sympathy with his aims continued to hold the most important posts in the
government of the Republic, and to control its policy. That policy
consisted in the maintenance of a close alliance with England for the
purpose of curbing the ambitious designs of Louis XIV. Foremost among
these statesmen were Antony Heinsius, the council-pensionary of Holland,
Simon van Slingelandt, secretary of the Council of State since 1690, and
Jan Hop, the treasurer-general of the Union. In England the recognition
by Louis of the Prince of Wales as King James III had thoroughly
aroused the popular feeling against France; and Anne the new queen
determined to carry out her predecessor's plans. The two maritime
powers, closely bound together by common interests, and the ties which
had arisen between them during the thirteen years of the reign of the
king-stadholder, were to form the nucleus of a coalition with Austria
and a number of the German states, including Prussia and Hanover (to
which Savoy somewhat later adhered), pledged to support the claims of
the Archduke Charles to the Spanish throne. For the Dutch it was an
all-important question, for with Philip V reigning at Madrid the
hegemony of France in Europe seemed to be assured. Already French troops
were in possession of the chief fortresses of the so-called Spanish
Netherlands. Face to face with such a menace it was not difficult for
Heinsius to obtain not only the assent of the States-General, but of the
Estates of Holland, practically without a dissenting voice, to declare
war upon France and Spain (May 8, 1702); and this was quickly followed
by similar declarations by England and Austria.

The Grand Alliance had an outward appearance of great strength, but in
reality it had all the weaknesses of a coalition, its armies being
composed of contingents from a number of countries, whose governments
had divergent aims and strategic objects, and it was opposed by a power
under absolute rule with numerous and veteran armies inspired by a long
tradition of victory under brilliant leaders. In 1702, however, the
successors of Turenne and Luxemburg were by no means of the same calibre
as those great generals. On the other hand, the allies were doubly
fortunate in being led by a man of exceptional gifts. John Churchill,
Earl (and shortly afterwards Duke) of Marlborough, was placed in supreme
command of the Anglo-Dutch armies. Through the influence of his wife
with the weak Queen Anne, the Whig party, of which Marlborough and his'
friend Godolphin the lord-treasurer were the heads, was maintained in
secure possession of power; and Marlborough thus entered upon his
command in the full confidence of having the unwavering support of the
home government behind him. Still this would have availed little but for
the consummate abilities of this extraordinary man. As a general he
displayed a military genius, both as a strategist and a tactician, which
has been rarely surpassed. For ten years he pursued a career of victory
not marred by a single defeat, and this in spite of the fact that his
army was always composed of heterogeneous elements, that his
subordinates of different nationalities were jealous of his authority
and of one another, and above all, as will be seen, that his bold and
well-laid plans were again and again hindered and thwarted by the
timidity and obstinacy of the civilian deputies who were placed by the
States-General at his side. Had Marlborough been unhampered, the war
would probably have ended some years before it did; as it was, the
wonderful successes of the general were made possible by his skill and
tact as a diplomatist. He had, moreover, the good fortune to have at his
side in the Imperialist general, Prince Eugene of Savoy, a commander
second only to himself in brilliance and leadership. In almost all wars
the Austrian alliance has proved a weak support on which to trust; but
now, thanks to the outstanding capacity of Eugene, the armies of Austria
were able to achieve many triumphs. The vigorous participation of the
emperor in this war, in support of the claims of his second son, was
only made possible by the victories of the Italian general over the
Turks, who had overrun Hungary and threatened Vienna. And now, in the
still more important sphere of operations in the West in which for a
series of years he had to co-operate with Marlborough, it is to the
infinite credit of both these great men that they worked harmoniously
and smoothly together, so that at no time was there even a hint of any
jealousy between them. In any estimate of the great achievements of
Marlborough it must never be forgotten that he not only had Eugene at
his right hand in the field, but Heinsius in the council chamber.
Heinsius had always worked loyally and sympathetically with William III;
and it was in the same spirit that he worked with the English duke, who
brought William's life-task to its triumphant accomplishment. Between
Marlborough and Heinsius, as between Marlborough and Eugene, there was
no friction--surely a convincing tribute to the adroit and tactful
persuasiveness of a commanding personality.

In July, 1702, Marlborough at the head of 65,000 men faced Marshal
Boufflers with a French army almost as strong numerically, the one in
front of Nijmwegen, the other in the neighbourhood of Liège. Leaving a
force of 25,000 Dutch and Brandenburgers to besiege Kaiserswerth,
Marlborough by skilful manoeuvring prevented Boufflers from attempting a
relief, and would on two occasions have been able to inflict a severe
defeat upon him had he not been each time thwarted by the cautious
timidity of the Dutch deputies. Kaiserswerth, however, fell, and in turn
Rheinberg, Venloo, Roeremonde and Liège; and the campaign ended
successfully, leaving the allies in command of the lower Rhine and lower
Meuse.

That of 1703 was marred even more effectually than that of the previous
year by the interference of the deputies, and the ill-concealed
opposition to Marlborough of certain Dutch generals, notably of
Slangenburg. The duke was very angry, and bitter recriminations ensued.
In the end Slangenburg was removed from his command; and the appointment
of Ouwerkerk, as field-marshal of the Dutch forces, relieved the
tension, though the deputies were still present at headquarters, much to
Marlborough's annoyance. The campaign resulted in the capture of Bonn,
Huy and Limburg, but there was no general action.

The year 1704 saw the genius of Marlborough at length assert itself. The
French had placed great armies in the field, Villeroy in the
Netherlands, Tallard in Bavaria, where in conjunction with the Bavarian
forces he threatened to descend the Danube into the heart of Austria.
Vienna itself was in the greatest danger. The troops under Lewis of
Baden and under Eugene were, even when united, far weaker than their
adversaries. In these circumstances Marlborough determined by a bold
strategical stroke to execute a flank march from the Netherlands right
across the front of the Franco-Bavarian army and effect a junction with
the Imperialists. He had to deceive the timid Dutch deputies by feigning
to descend the Meuse with the intention of working round Villeroy's
flank; then, leaving Ouwerkerk to contain that marshal, he set out on
his daring adventure early in May and carried it out with complete
success. His departure had actually relieved the Netherlands, for
Villeroy had felt it necessary with a large part of his forces to follow
Marlborough and reinforce the Franco-Bavarians under Marshal Tallard and
the Elector. The two armies met at Blenheim (Hochstädt) on August 13.
The battle resulted in the crushing victory of the allies under
Marlborough and Eugene. Eleven thousand prisoners were taken, among them
Tallard himself. The remnant of the French army retired across the
Rhine. Vienna was saved, and all Bavaria was overrun by the
Imperialists.

Meanwhile at sea the Anglo-Dutch fleet was incontestably superior to the
enemy; and the operations were confined to the immediate
neighbourhood of the Peninsula. William III had before his death been
preparing an expedition for the capture of Cadiz. His plan was actually
carried out in 1702, when a powerful fleet under the supreme command of
Admiral Sir George Rooke sailed for Cadiz; but the attack failed owing
to the incompetence of the Duke of Ormonde, who commanded the military
forces. In this expedition a strong Dutch squadron under Philip van
Almonde participated. Almonde was a capable seaman trained in the
school of Tromp and De Ruyter; and he took a most creditable part in the
action off Vigo, October 23, in which a large portion of the silver
fleet was captured, and the Franco-Spanish fleet, which formed its
escort, destroyed. The maritime operations of 1703 were uneventful, the
French fleet being successfully blockaded in Toulon harbour.

The accession of Portugal in the course of this year to the Grand
Alliance was important in that it opened the estuary of the Tagus as a
naval base, and enabled the Archduke Charles to land with a body of
troops escorted by an Anglo-Dutch fleet under Rooke and Callenberg. This
fleet later in the year (August 4) was fortunate in capturing Gibraltar
without much loss, the defences having been neglected and inadequately
garrisoned. In this feat of arms, which gave to the English the
possession of the rock fortress that commands the entrance into the
Mediterranean, the Dutch under Callenberg had a worthy share, as also in
the great sea-fight off Malaga on August 24, against the French fleet
under the Count of Toulouse. The French had slightly superior numbers,
and the allies, who had not replenished their stores after the siege of
Gibraltar, were short of ammunition. Though a drawn battle, so far as
actual losses were concerned, it was decisive in its results. The French
fleet withdrew to the shelter of Toulon harbour; and the allies'
supremacy in the midland sea was never again throughout the war
seriously challenged. The Dutch ships at the battle of Malaga were
twelve in number and fought gallantly, but it was the last action of any
importance in which the navy of Holland took part. There had been
dissensions between the English and Dutch commanders, and from this time
forward the admiralties made no effort to maintain their fleet in the
state of efficiency in which it had been left by William III. The cost
of the army fell heavily upon Holland, and money was grudged for the
maintenance of the navy, whose services, owing to the weakness of the
enemy, were not required.

The military campaign of 1705 produced small results, the plans of
Marlborough for an active offensive being thwarted by the Dutch
deputies. The duke's complaints only resulted in one set of deputies
being replaced by another set of civilians equally impracticable. There
was also another reason for a slackening of vigour. The Emperor Leopold
I died on May 5. His successor Joseph I had no children, so that the
Archduke Charles became the heir-apparent to all the possessions of the
Austrian Habsburgs. Louis XIV therefore seized the opportunity to make
secret overtures of peace to some of the more influential Dutch
statesmen through the Marquis D'Allègne, at that time a prisoner in the
hands of the Dutch. The French were willing to make many concessions in
return for the recognition of Philip V as King of Spain. In the autumn
conversations took place between Heinsius, Buys the pensionary of
Amsterdam, and others, with D'Allègne and Rouillé, an accredited agent
of the French government. Matters went so far that Buys went to London
on a secret mission to discuss the matter with the English minister. The
English cabinet, however, refused to recognise Philip V; and, as the
Dutch demand for a strong barrier of fortresses along the southern
frontier of the Netherlands was deemed inadmissible at Versailles, the
negotiations came to an end.

In 1706 Marlborough's bold proposal to join Eugene in Italy, and with
their united forces to drive the French out of that country and to march
upon Toulon, failed to gain the assent of the Dutch deputies. The duke,
after much controversy and consequent delay, had to content himself with
a campaign in Belgium. It was brilliantly carried out. On Whit Sunday,
May 23, at Ramillies the allies encountered the enemy under the command
of Marshal Villeroi and the Elector of Bavaria. The French were utterly
defeated with very heavy loss; and such was the vigour of the pursuit
that the shattered army was obliged to retire to Courtrai, leaving
Brabant and Flanders undefended. In rapid succession Louvain, Antwerp,
Ghent, Bruges and other towns surrendered to Marlborough, and a little
later Ostend, Dendermonde, Menin and Ath; and the Archduke Charles was
acknowledged as sovereign by the greater part of the southern
Netherlands. In Italy and Spain also things had gone well with the
allies. This series of successes led Louis XIV to make fresh
overtures of peace to the States-General, whom the French king hoped to
seduce from the Grand Alliance by the bait of commercial advantages both
with Spain and France and a good "barrier." He was even ready to yield
the crown of Spain to the Archduke Charles on condition that Philip of
Anjou were acknowledged as sovereign of the Spanish possessions in
Italy. Heinsius however was loyal to the English alliance; and, in face
of the determination of the English government not to consent to any
division of the Spanish inheritance, the negotiations again came to
nothing.

The year 1707 saw a change of fortune. Austria was threatened by the
victorious advance of Charles XII of Sweden through Poland into Saxony.
A French army under Villars crossed the Rhine (May 27) and advanced far
into south-eastern Germany. The defence of their own territories caused
several of the German princes to retain their troops at home instead of
sending them as mercenaries to serve in the Netherlands under
Marlborough. The duke therefore found himself unable to attack the
superior French army under Vendôme, and acted steadfastly on the
defensive. An attempt by Eugene, supported by the English fleet, to
capture Toulon ended in dismal failure and the retreat of the
Imperialists with heavy loss into Italy. In Spain the victory of Berwick
at Almanza (April 27) made Philip V the master of all Spain, except a
part of Catalonia.

But, though Marlborough had been reduced to immobility in 1707, the
following campaign was to witness another of his wonderful victories. At
the head of a mixed force of 80,000 men he was awaiting the arrival of
Eugene with an Imperialist army of 35,000, when Vendôme unexpectedly
took the offensive while he still had superiority in numbers over his
English opponent. Rapidly overrunning western Flanders he made himself
master of Bruges and Ghent and laid siege to Oudenarde. By a series of
brilliant movements Marlborough out-marched and out-manoeuvred his
adversary and, interposing his army between him and the French frontier,
compelled him to risk a general engagement. It took place on July 11,
1708, and ended in the complete defeat of the French, who were only
saved by the darkness from utter destruction. Had the bold project of
Marlborough to march into France forthwith been carried out, a deadly
blow would have been delivered against the very vitals of the enemy's
power and Louis XIV probably compelled to sue for peace on the allies'
terms. But this time not only the Dutch deputies, but also Eugene, were
opposed to the daring venture, and it was decided that Eugene should
besiege Lille, while Marlborough with the field army covered the
operations. Lille was strongly fortified, and Marshal Boufflers made a
gallant defence. The siege began in mid-August; the town surrendered on
October 22, but the citadel did not fall until December 9. Vendôme did
his best to cut off Eugene's supplies of munitions and stores, and at
one time the besiegers were reduced to straits. The French marshal did
not, however, venture to force an engagement with Marlborough's covering
army, a portion of which under General Webb, after gaining a striking
victory over a French force at Wynendael, (September 30), conducted at a
critical moment a large train of supplies from Ostend into Eugene's
camp. As a consequence of the capture of Lille, the French withdrew from
Flanders into their own territory, Ghent and Bruges being re-occupied by
the allies with a mere show of resistance.

The reverses of 1708 induced the French king to be ready to yield much
for the sake of peace. He offered the Dutch a strong barrier, a
favourable treaty of commerce and the demolition of the defences of
Dunkirk; and there were many in Holland who would have accepted his
terms. But their English and Austrian allies insisted on the restoration
of Louis' German conquests, and that the king should, by force if
necessary, compel his grandson to leave Spain. Such was the exhaustion
of France that Louis would have consented to almost any terms however
harsh, but he refused absolutely to use coercion against Philip V. The
negotiations went on through the spring nor did they break down until
June, 1709, when the exorbitant demands of the allies made further
progress impossible. Louis issued a manifesto calling upon his subjects
to support him in resisting terms which were dishonouring to France.

He met with a splendid response from all classes, and a fine army of
90,000 men was equipped and placed in the field under the command of
Marshal Villars. The long delay over the negotiations prevented
Marlborough and Eugene from taking the field until June. They found
Villars had meanwhile entrenched himself in Artois in a very strong
position. Marlborough's proposal to advance by the sea-coast and
outflank the enemy being opposed both by Eugene and the Dutch
deputies as too daring, siege was laid to Tournay. Campaigns in those
days were dilatory affairs. Tournay was not captured until September 3;
and the allies, having overcome this obstacle without any active
interference, moved forward to besiege Mons. They found Villars posted
at Malplaquet on a narrow front, skilfully fortified and protected on
both flanks by woods. A terrible struggle ensued (September 11, 1709),
the bloodiest in the war. The Dutch troops gallantly led by the Prince
of Orange attacked the French right, but were repulsed with very heavy
losses. For some time the fight on the left and centre of the French
line was undecided, the attacking columns being driven back many times,
but at length the allies succeeded in turning the extreme left and also
after fearful slaughter in piercing the centre; and the French were
compelled to retreat. They had lost 12,000 men, but 23,000 of the allies
had fallen; the Dutch divisions had suffered the most severely, losing
almost half their strength. The immediate result of this hard-won
victory was the taking of Mons, October 9. The lateness of the season
prevented any further operations. Nothing decisive had been achieved,
for on all the other fields of action, on the Rhine, on the Piedmont
frontier and in Spain, the advantage had on the whole been with the
French and Spaniards. Negotiations proceeded during the winter
(1709-10), Dutch and French representatives meeting both at the Hague
and at Geertruidenberg. The States were anxious for peace and Louis was
willing to make the concessions required of him, but Philip V refused to
relinquish a crown which he held by the practically unanimous approval
of the Spanish people. The emperor on the other hand was obstinate in
claiming the undivided Spanish inheritance for the Archduke Charles. The
maritime powers, however, would not support him in this claim; and the
maritime powers meant England, for Holland followed her lead, being
perfectly satisfied with the conditions of the First Barrier Treaty,
which had been drawn up and agreed upon between the States-General and
the English government on October 29, 1709. By this secret treaty the
Dutch obtained the right to hold and to garrison a number of towns along
the French frontier, the possession of which would render them the real
masters of Belgium. Indeed it was manifest that, although the Dutch did
not dispute the sovereign rights of the Archduke Charles, they intended
to make the southern Netherlands an economic dependency of the
Republic, which provided for its defence.

The negotiations at Geertruidenberg dragged on until July, 1710, and
were finally broken off owing to the insistence of the Dutch envoys,
Buys and Van Dussen, upon conditions which, even in her exhausted state,
France was too proud to concede. Meanwhile Marlborough and Eugene,
unable to tempt Villars to risk a battle, contented themselves with a
succession of sieges. Douay, Béthune, St Venant and Aine fell, one after
the other, the French army keeping watch behind its strongly fortified
lines. This was a very meagre result, but Marlborough now felt his
position to be so insecure that he dared not take any risks. His wife,
so long omnipotent at court, had been supplanted in the queen's favour;
Godolphin and the Whig party had been swept from power; and a Tory
ministry bent upon peace had taken their place. Marlborough knew that
his period of dictatorship was at an end, and he would have resigned his
command but for the pressing instances of Eugene, Heinsius and other
leaders of the allies.

The desire of the Tory ministry to bring the long drawn-out hostilities
to an end was accentuated by the death, on April 17, 1711, of the
Emperor Joseph, an event which left his brother Charles heir to all the
possessions of the Austrian Habsburgs. The Grand Alliance had been
formed and the war waged to maintain the balance of power in Europe. But
such a result would not be achieved by a revival of the empire of
Charles V in the person of the man who had now become the head of the
House of Austria. Even had the Whigs remained in office, they could
hardly have continued to give active support to the cause of the
Habsburg claimant in Spain.

One of the consequences of the death of Joseph I, then, was to render
the Tory minister, Henry St John, more anxious to enter into
negotiations for peace; another was the paralysing of active operations
in the field. Eugene had been summoned to Germany to watch over the
meeting of the Imperial Diet at Frankfort, and Marlborough was left with
an army considerably inferior in numbers to that of his opponent
Villars. Thus the only fruit of the campaign was the capture of
Bouchain. Meanwhile the French minister Torcy entered into secret
communications with St John, intimating that France was ready to
negotiate directly with England, but at first without the cognisance
of the States. The English ministry on their part, under the influence
of St John, showed themselves to be ready to throw over their allies, to
abandon the Habsburg cause in Spain, and to come to an agreement with
France on terms advantageous to England. For French diplomacy, always
alert and skilful, these proceedings were quite legitimate; but it was
scarcely honourable for the English government, while the Grand Alliance
was still in existence, to carry on these negotiations in profound
secrecy.

In August matters had so far advanced that Mesnager was sent over from
Paris to London entrusted with definite proposals. In October the
preliminaries of peace were virtually settled between the two powers.
Meanwhile the Dutch had been informed through Lord Strafford, the
English envoy at the Hague, of what was going on; and the news aroused
no small indignation and alarm. But great pressure was brought to bear
upon them; and, knowing that without England they could not continue the
war, the States-General at last, in fear for their barrier, consented,
on November 21, to send envoys to a peace congress to be held at Utrecht
on the basis of the Anglo-French preliminaries. It was in vain that the
Emperor Charles VI protested both at London and the Hague, or that
Eugene was despatched on a special mission to England in January, 1712.
The English ministry had made up their minds to conclude peace with or
without the emperor's assent; and the congress opened at the beginning
of the year 1712 without the presence of any Austrian plenipotentiaries,
though they appeared later. The Dutch provinces sent two envoys each.
The conferences at Utrecht were, however, little more than futile
debates; and the congress was held there rather as a concession to save
the _amour propre_ of the States than to settle the terms of peace. The
real negotiations were carried on secretly between England and France;
and after a visit by St John, now Viscount Bolingbroke, in person to
Paris in August, all points of difference between the two governments
were amicably arranged. Spain followed the lead of France; and the
States, knowing that they could not go on with the war without England,
were reluctantly obliged to accept the Anglo-French proposals. Their
concurrence might not have been so easily obtained, but for the
unfortunate course of the campaign of 1712. Marlborough had now been
replaced in the chief command by the Duke of Ormonde. Eugene, counting
upon English support, had taken Quesnoy on July 4, and was about to
invest Landrecies, when Ormonde informed him that an armistice had been
concluded between the French and English governments. On July 16 the
English contingent withdrew to Dunkirk, which had been surrendered by
the French as a pledge of good faith. Villars seized the opportunity to
make a surprise attack on the isolated Dutch at the bridge of Denain
(July 24) and, a panic taking place, completely annihilated their whole
force of 12,000 men with slight loss to himself. Eugene had to retreat,
abandoning his magazines; and Douay, Quesnoy and Bouchain fell into the
hands of the French marshal.

These disasters convinced the Dutch of their helplessness when deprived
of English help; and instructions were given to their envoys at Utrecht,
on December 29, to give their assent to the terms agreed upon and indeed
dictated by the governments of England and France. Making the best of
the situation, the Dutch statesmen, confronted with the growing
self-assertion of the French plenipotentiaries, concluded, on January
30, 1713, a new offensive and defensive alliance with England. This
treaty of alliance is commonly called the Second Barrier Treaty, because
it abrogated the Barrier Treaty of 1709, and was much more favourable to
France. It was not until all these more or less secret negotiations were
over that the Congress, after being suspended for some months, resumed
its sittings at Utrecht. The Peace of Utrecht which ensued is really a
misnomer. No general treaty was agreed upon and signed, but a series of
separate treaties between the belligerent powers. This was what France
had been wishing for some time and, by the connivance of England, she
achieved it. The treaty between these two countries was signed on April
11, 1713; and such was the dominant position of England that her allies,
with the single exception of the emperor, had to follow her lead.
Treaties with the States-General, with Savoy, Brandenburg and Portugal,
were all signed on this same day.

Louis XIV had good right to congratulate himself upon obtaining far more
favourable terms than he could have dared to hope in 1710 or 1711.
Philip V was recognised as King of Spain and the Indies, but had
solemnly to renounce his right of succession to the French throne and
his claim to the Spanish possessions in the Netherlands and in Italy.
The treaty between England and Spain was signed on July 13, 1713; that
between the States-General and Spain was delayed until June 26, 1714,
owing to the difficulties raised by the emperor, who, though deserted
by his allies, continued the war single-handed, but with signal lack of
success. He was forced to yield and make peace at Rastatt in a treaty,
which was confirmed by the Imperial Diet at Baden in Switzerland on
September 7, 1714. By this treaty the French king retained practically
all his conquests, while Charles VI, though he did not recognise the
title of Philip V, contented himself with the acquisition of the
"Spanish" Netherlands, and of the Milanese and Naples. Into the details
of these several treaties it is unnecessary here to enter, except in so
far as they affected the United Provinces. The power that benefited more
than any other was Great Britain, for the Peace of Utrecht laid the
foundation of her colonial empire and left her, from this time forward,
the first naval and maritime power in the world. Holland, though her
commerce was still great and her colonial possessions both rich and
extensive, had henceforth to see herself more and more overshadowed and
dominated by her former rival. Nevertheless the treaties concluded by
the States-General at this time were decidedly advantageous to the
Republic.

That with France, signed on April 11, 1713, placed the Spanish
Netherlands in the possession of the States-General, to be held by
them in trust for Charles VI until such time as the emperor came to
an agreement with them about a "Barrier." France in this matter
acted in the name of Spain, and was the intermediary through whose
good offices Spanish or Upper Gelderland was surrendered to
Prussia. Most important of all to the Dutch was the treaty with
the emperor concluded at Antwerp, November 15, 1715. This is
generally styled the Third Barrier Treaty, the First being that of
1709, the Second that of 1713 at Utrecht. The States-General
finally obtained what was for their interest a thoroughly satisfactory
settlement. They obtained the right to place garrisons amounting
in all to 35,000 men in Furnes, Warneton, Ypres, Knocke, Tournay,
Menin and Namur; and three-fifths of the cost were to be borne by
the Austrian government, who pledged certain revenues of their
newly-acquired Belgic provinces to the Dutch for the purpose. The
strong position in which such a treaty placed the Republic against
aggression, either from the side of France or Austria, was made
stronger by being guaranteed by the British government.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXI

THE STADHOLDERLESS REPUBLIC, 1715-1740


The thirty-four years which followed the Peace of Utrecht are a period
of decadence and decay; a depressing period exhibiting the spectacle of
a State, which had played a heroic part in history, sinking, through its
lack of inspiring leadership and the crying defects inherent in its
system of government, to the position of a third-rate power. The
commanding abilities of the great stadholders of the house of
Orange-Nassau, and during the stadholderless period which followed the
untimely death of William II, those of the Council-Pensionary, John de
Witt, had given an appearance of solidarity to what was really a loose
confederation of sovereign provinces. Throughout the 17th century
maritime enterprise, naval prowess and world-wide trade had, by the help
of skilled diplomacy and wise statesmanship, combined to give to the
Dutch Republic a weight in the council of nations altogether
disproportionate to its size and the number of its population. In the
memorable period of Frederick Henry the foundations were laid of an
empire overseas; Dutch seamen and traders had penetrated into every
ocean and had almost monopolised the carrying-trade of Europe; and at
the same time Holland had become the chosen home of scholarship,
science, literature and art. In the great days of John de Witt she
contended on equal terms with England for the dominion of the seas; and
Amsterdam was the financial clearing-house of the world. To William III
the Republic owed its escape from destruction in the critical times of
overwhelming French invasion in 1672, when by resolute and heroic
leadership he not only rescued the United Provinces from French
domination, but before his death had raised them to the rank of a great
power. Never did the prestige of the States stand higher in Europe than
at the opening of the 18th century. But, as has already been pointed
out, the elevation of the great stadholder to the throne of England had
been far from an unmixed blessing to his native land. It brought the two
maritime and commercial rivals into a close alliance, which placed the
smaller and less favoured country at a disadvantage, and ended in the
weaker member of the alliance becoming more and more the dependent of
the stronger. What would have been the trend of events had William
survived for another ten or fifteen years or had he left an heir to
succeed him in his high dignities, one can only surmise. It may at least
be safely said, that the treaty which ended the war of the Spanish
succession would not have been the treaty of Utrecht.

William III by his will made his cousin, John William Friso of
Nassau-Siegen, his heir. Friso (despite the opposition of the Prussian
king, who was the son of Frederick Henry's eldest daughter) assumed the
title of Prince of Orange; and, as he was a real Netherlander, his
branch of the house of Nassau having been continuously stadholders of
Friesland since the first days of the existence of the Republic, he soon
attracted to himself the affection of the Orangist party. But at the
time of William III's death Friso was but fourteen years of age; and the
old "States" or "Republican" party, which had for so many years been
afraid to attempt any serious opposition to the imperious will of King
William, now saw their opportunity for a return once more to the state
of things established by the Great Assembly in 1651. Under the
leadership of Holland five provinces now declared for a stadholderless
government. The appointment of town-councillors passed into the hands of
the corporations or of the Provincial Estates, not, however, without
serious disturbances in Gelderland, Utrecht, Overyssel and also in
Zeeland, stirred up partly by the old regent-families, who had been
excluded from office under William, partly by the gilds and working
folk, who vainly hoped that they would be able to exercise a larger
share in the government. In many places faction-fights ensued. In
Amersfoort two burghers were tried and beheaded; in Nijmwegen the
burgomaster, Ronkens, met the same fate. But after a short while the
aristocratic States party everywhere gained control in the
town-corporations and through them in the Provincial Estates. In
Zeeland the dignity of "first noble" was abolished.

The effect of all this was that decentralisation reached its extreme
point. Not only were there seven republics, but each town asserted
sovereign rights, defying at times the authority of the majority in the
Provincial Estates. This was especially seen in the predominant
province of Holland, where the city of Amsterdam by its wealth and
importance was able to dictate its will to the Estates, and through the
Estates to the States-General. Money-making and trade profits were the
matters which engrossed everybody's interest. War interfered with trade;
it was costly, and was to be avoided at any price. During this time the
policy of the Republic was neutrality; and the States-General, with
their army and navy reduced more and more in numbers and efficiency,
scarcely counted in the calculations of the cabinets of Europe.

But this very time that was marked by the decline and fall of the
Republic from the high position which it occupied during the greater
part of the 17th century, was the golden age of the burgher-oligarchies.
A haughty "patrician" class, consisting in each place of a very limited
number of families, closely inter-related, had little by little
possessed themselves, as a matter of hereditary right, of all the
offices and dignities in the town, in the province and in the state.
Within their own town they reigned supreme, filling up vacancies in the
_vroedschap_ by co-option, exercising all authority, occupying or
distributing among their relatives all posts of profit, and acquiring
great wealth. Their fellow-citizens were excluded from all share in
affairs, and were looked down upon as belonging to an inferior caste.
The old simple habits of their forefathers were abandoned. French
fashions and manners were the vogue amongst them, and English clothes,
furniture and food. In the country--_platteland_--people had no voice
whatever in public affairs; they were not even represented, as the
ordinary townspeople were by their regents. Thus the United Netherlands
had not only ceased to be a unified state in any real sense of the word,
but had ceased likewise to be a free state. It consisted of a large
number of semi-independent oligarchies of the narrowest description;
and the great mass of its population was deprived of every vestige of
civic rights.

That such a State should have survived at all is to be explained by the
fact that the real control over the foreign policy of the Republic and
over its general government continued to be exercised by the band of
experienced statesmen who had served under William III and inherited his
traditions. Heinsius, the wise and prudent council-pensionary, continued
in office until his death cm August 3, 1720, when he was succeeded by
Isaac van Hoornbeck, pensionary of Rotterdam. Hoornbeck was not a man of
great parts, but he was sound and safe and he had at his side Simon
van Slingelandt, secretary of the Council of State since 1690, and
others whose experience in public office dated from the preceding
century. In their hands the external policy of the Republic, conducted
with no lack of skill, was of necessity non-interventionist. In internal
matters they could effect little. The finances after the war were in an
almost hopeless condition, and again and again the State was threatened
with bankruptcy. To make things worse an epidemic of wild speculation
spread far and wide during the period 1716-1720 in the bubble companies,
the Mississippi Company and the South Sea Company, associated with the
name of Edward Law, which proved so ruinous to many in England and
France, as well as in Holland. In 1716 such was the miserable condition
of the country that the Estates of Overyssel, under the leadership of
Count van Rechteren, proposed the summoning of a Great Assembly on the
model of that of 1651 to consider the whole question of government and
finance. The proposal was ultimately accepted, and the Assembly met at
the Hague on November 28. After nine months of ineffectual debate and
wrangling it finally came to an end on September 14, 1717, without
effecting anything, leaving all who had the best interests of the State
at heart in despair.

In the years immediately succeeding the Peace of Utrecht difficulties
arose with Charles XII of Sweden; whose privateers had been seizing
Dutch and English merchantmen in the Baltic. Under De Witt or William
III the fleet of the Republic would speedily have brought the Swedish
king to reason. But now other counsels prevailed. Dutch squadrons sailed
into the Baltic with instructions to convoy the merchant vessels, but to
avoid hostilities. With some difficulty this purpose was achieved; and
the death of Charles at the siege of Frederikshald brought all danger of
war to an end. And yet in the very interests of trade it would have been
good policy for the States to act strongly in this matter of Swedish
piracy in the Baltic. Russia was the rising power in those regions. The
Dutch had really nothing to fear from Sweden, whose great days came to
an end with the crushing defeat of Charles XII at Pultova in 1709. Trade
relations had been opened between Holland and Muscovy so early as the
end of the 16th century; and, despite English rivalry, the opening out
of Russia and of Russian trade had been almost entirely in Dutch hands
during the 17th century. The relations between the two countries
became much closer and more important after the accession of the
enterprising and reforming Tsar, Peter the Great. It is well known how
Peter in 1696 visited Holland to learn the art of ship-building and
himself toiled as a workman at Zaandam. As a result of this visit he
carried back with him to Russia an admiration for all things Dutch. He
not only favoured Dutch commerce, but he employed numbers of Hollanders
in the building and training of his fleet and in the construction of
waterways and roads. In 1716-17 Peter again spent a considerable time in
Holland. Nevertheless Dutch policy was again timid and cautious; and no
actual alliance was made with Russia, from dread of entanglements,
although the opportunity seemed so favourable.

It was the same when in this year 1717 Cardinal Alberoni, at the
instigation of Elizabeth of Parma the ambitious second wife of Philip V,
attempted to regain Spain's lost possessions in Italy by an aggressive
policy which threatened to involve Europe in war. Elizabeth's object was
to obtain an independent sovereignty for her sons in her native country.
Austria, France and England united to resist this attempt to reverse the
settlement of Utrecht, and the States were induced to join with them in
a quadruple alliance. It was not, however, their intention to take any
active part in the hostilities which speedily brought Spain to reason,
and led to the fall of Alberoni. But the Spanish queen had not given up
her designs, and she found another instrument for carrying them out in
Ripperda, a Groningen nobleman, who had originally gone to Spain as
ambassador of the States. This able and scheming statesman persuaded
Elizabeth that she might best attain her ends by an alliance with
Austria, which was actually concluded at Vienna on April 1, 1725. This
alliance alarmed France, England and Prussia, but was especially
obnoxious to the Republic, for the emperor had in 1722 erected an East
India Company at Ostend in spite of the prohibition placed by Holland
and Spain in the treaties of 1714-15 upon Belgian overseas commerce. By
the Treaty of Alliance in 1725 the Spanish crown recognised the Ostend
Company and thus gave it a legal sanction. The States therefore, after
some hesitation, became parties to a defensive alliance against Austria
and Spain that had been signed by France, England and Prussia at Hanover
in September, 1728. These groupings of the powers were of no long
duration. The emperor, fearing an invasion of the Belgian provinces,
first agreed to suspend the Ostend Company for seven years, and then, in
order to secure the assent of the maritime powers to the Pragmatic
Sanction, which guaranteed to his daughter, Maria Theresa, the
succession to the Austrian hereditary domains, he broke with Spain and
consented to suppress the Ostend Company altogether. The negotiations
which took place at this time are very involved and complicated, but
they ended in a revival of the old alliance between Austria and the
maritime powers against the two Bourbon monarchies of France and Spain.
This return to the old policy of William III was largely the work of
Slingelandt, who had become council-pensionary on July 27, 1727.

Simon van Slingelandt, with the able assistance of his brother-in-law
Francis Fagel, clerk of the States-General, was during the nine years in
which he directed the foreign policy of the Republic regarded as one of
the wisest and most trustworthy, as he was the most experienced
statesman of his time. His aim was, in co-operation with England, to
maintain by conciliatory and peaceful methods the balance of power. Lord
Chesterfield, at that time the British envoy at the Hague, had the
highest opinion of Slingelandt's powers; and the council-pensionary's
writings, more especially his _Pensées impartiales_, published in 1729,
show what a thorough grasp he had of the political situation.
Fortunately the most influential ministers in England and France, Robert
Walpole and Cardinal Fleury, were like-minded with him in being sincere
seekers after peace. The Treaty of Vienna (March 18,1731), which secured
the recognition by the powers of the Pragmatic Sanction, was largely his
work; and he was also successful in preventing the question of the
Polish succession, after the death of Augustus of Saxony in 1733, being
the cause of the outbreak of a European war. In domestic policy
Slingelandt, though profoundly dissatisfied with the condition of the
Republic, took no steps to interfere with the form of government. He saw
the defects of the stadholderless system plainly enough, but he had not,
like Fagel, strong Orangist sympathies; and on his appointment as
council-pensionary he pledged himself to support during his tenure of
office the existing state of things. This undertaking he loyally kept,
and his strong personality during his life-time alone saved Holland, and
through Holland the entire Republic, from falling into utter ruin and
disaster. At his death Antony van der Heim became council-pensionary
under the same conditions as his predecessor. But Van der Heim,
though a capable and hard-working official, was not of the same calibre
as Slingelandt. The narrow and grasping burgher-regents had got a firm
grip of power, and they used it to suppress the rights of their
fellow-citizens and to keep in their own hands the control of municipal
and provincial affairs. Corruption reigned everywhere; and the patrician
oligarchy, by keeping for themselves and their relations all offices of
profit, grew rich at the same time that the finances of the State fell
into greater confusion. It was not a condition of things that could
endure, should any serious crisis arise.

John William Friso, on whom great hopes had been fixed, met with an
untimely death in 1711, leaving a posthumous child who became William
IV, Prince of Orange. Faithful Friesland immediately elected William
stadholder under the regency of his mother, Maria Louisa of
Hesse-Cassel. By her fostering care the boy received an education to fit
him for service to the State. Though of weakly bodily frame and slightly
deformed, William had marked intelligence, and a very gentle and kindly
disposition. Though brave like all his family, he had little inclination
for military things. The Republican party had little to fear from a man
of such character and disposition. The burgher-regents, secure in the
possession of power, knew that the Frisian stadholder was not likely to
resort either to violence or intrigue to force on a revolution.
Nevertheless the prestige of the name in the prevailing discontent
counted for much. William was elected stadholder of Groningen in 1718,
of Drente and of Gelderland in 1722, though in each case with certain
restrictions. But the other provinces remained obstinate in their
refusal to admit him to any place in their councils or to any military
post. The Estates of Zeeland went so far as to abolish the marquisate of
Flushing and Veere, which carried with it the dignity of first noble and
presidency in the meetings of the Estates, and offered to pay 100,000
fl. in compensation to the heir of the Nassaus. William refused to
receive it, saying that either the marquisate did not belong to him, in
which case he could not accept money for it, or it did belong to him and
was not for sale. William's position was advanced by his marriage in
1734 to Anne, eldest daughter of George II. Thus for the third time a
Princess Royal of England became Princess of Orange. The reception of
the newly married pair at Amsterdam and the Hague was, however, cool
though polite; and despite the representatives of Gelderland, who
urged that the falling credit and bad state of the Republic required the
appointment of an "eminent head," Holland, Utrecht, Zeeland and
Overyssel remained obdurate in their refusal to change the form of
government. William had to content himself with the measure of power he
had obtained and to await events. He showed much patience, for he had
many slights and rebuffs to put up with. His partisans would have urged
him to more vigorous action, but this he steadily refused to take.

The Republic kept drifting meanwhile on the downward path. Its
foreign policy was in nerveless hands; jobbery was rampant; trade
and industry declined; the dividends of the East India Company
fell year by year through the incompetence and greed of officials
appointed by family influence; the West India Company was
practically bankrupt. Such was the state of the country in 1740,
when the outbreak of the Austrian Succession War found the
Republic without leadership, hopelessly undecided what course of
action it should take, and only seeking to evade its responsibilities.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXII

THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION WAR. WILLIAM IV, 1740-1751


The death of the Emperor Charles VI in October, 1740, was the signal for
the outbreak of another European war. All Charles' efforts on behalf of
the Pragmatic Sanction proved to have been labour spent in vain. Great
Britain, the United Provinces, Spain, Saxony, Poland, Russia, Sardinia,
Prussia, most of the smaller German States, and finally France, had
agreed to support (1738) the Pragmatic Sanction. The assent of Spain had
been bought by the cession of the two Sicilies; of France by that of
Lorraine, whose Duke Francis Stephen had married Maria Theresa and was
compensated by the Grand Duchy of Tuscany for the loss of his ancestral
domain. The only important dissentient was Charles Albert, Elector of
Bavaria, who had married the younger daughter of Joseph I and who
claimed the succession not only through his wife, but as the nearest
male descendant of Ferdinand I. On the death of Charles VI, then, it
might have been supposed that Maria Theresa would have succeeded to her
inheritance without opposition. This was far from being the case. The
Elector of Bavaria put forward his claims and he found unexpected
support in Frederick II of Prussia. Frederick had just succeeded his
father Frederick William I, and being at once ambitious and without
scruples he determined to seize the opportunity for the purpose of
territorial aggression. While lulling the suspicions of Vienna by
friendly professions, he suddenly, in December, 1740, invaded Silesia.
Maria Theresa appealed to the guarantors of the Pragmatic Sanction. She
met no active response, but on the part of Spain, Sardinia and France
veiled hostility. Great Britain, at war with Spain since 1739, and
fearing the intervention of France, confined her efforts to diplomacy;
and the only anxiety of the United Provinces was to avoid being drawn
into war. An addition was made to the army of 11,000 men and afterwards
in 1741, through dread of an attack on the Austrian Netherlands, a
further increase of 20,000 was voted. The garrisons and
fortifications of the barrier towns were strengthened and some addition
was made to the navy. But the policy of the States continued to be
vacillating and pusillanimous. The Republican party, who held the reins
of power, desiring peace at any price, were above all anxious to be on
good terms with France. The Orangist opposition were in favour of
joining with England in support of Maria Theresa; but the prince would
not take any steps to assert himself, and his partisans, deprived of
leadership, could exert little influence. Nor did they obtain much
encouragement from England, where Walpole was still intent upon a
pacific policy.

The events of 1741, however, were such as to compel a change of
attitude. The Prussians were in possession of Silesia; and spoliation,
having begun so successfully, became infectious. The aged Fleury was no
longer able to restrain the war party in France. In May at Nymphenburg a
league was formed by France, Spain, Sardinia, Saxony and Poland, in
conjunction with Prussia and Bavaria, to effect the overthrow of Maria
Theresa and share her inheritance between them. Resistance seemed
hopeless. A Franco-Bavarian army penetrated within a few miles of
Vienna, and then overran Bohemia. Charles Albert was crowned King of
Bohemia at Prague and then (January, 1742) was elected Emperor under the
title of Charles VII.

Before this election took place, however, English mediation had
succeeded by the convention of Klein-Schnellendorf in securing a
suspension of hostilities (October 9) between Austria and Prussia. This
left Frederick in possession of Silesia, but enabled the Queen of
Hungary, supported by English and Dutch subsidies, not only to clear
Bohemia from its invaders, but to conquer Bavaria. At the very time when
Charles Albert was elected Emperor, his own capital was occupied by his
enemies. In February, 1742, the long ministry of Walpole came to an end;
and the party in favour of a more active participation in the war
succeeded to office. George II was now thoroughly alarmed for the safety
of his Hanoverian dominions; and Lord Stair was sent to the Hague on a
special mission to urge the States to range themselves definitely on the
side of Maria Theresa. But fears of a French onslaught on the southern
Netherlands still caused timorous counsels to prevail. The French
ambassador, De Fénélon, on his part was lavish in vague promises not
unmingled with veiled threats, so that the feeble directors of Dutch
policy, torn between their duty to treaty obligations urged upon them by
England, and their dread of the military power of France, helplessly
resolved to cling to neutrality as long as possible. But events proved
too strong for them. Without asking their permission, an English force
of 16,000 men landed at Ostend and was sent to strengthen the garrison
of the barrier fortresses (May, 1742). The warlike operations of this
year were on the whole favourable to Maria Theresa, who through English
mediation, much against her will, secured peace with Prussia by the
cession of Silesia. The treaty between the two powers was signed at
Berlin on July 28. Hostilities with France continued; but, though both
the Maritime Powers helped Austria with subsidies, neither Great Britain
nor the States were at the close of the year officially at war with the
French king.

Such a state of precarious make-believe could not last much longer. The
Austrians were anxious that the English force in the Netherlands, which
had been reinforced and was known as the _Pragmatic Army_, should
advance into Bavaria to co-operate with the Imperial forces.
Accordingly the army, commanded by George II in person, advanced across
the Main to Dettingen. Here the king, shut in by French forces and cut
off from his supplies, was rescued from a very difficult position by the
valour of his troops, who on June 27, 1743 attacked and completely
routed their opponents. The States-General had already, on June 22,
recognised their responsibilities; and by a majority vote it was
determined that a force of 20,000 men under the command of Count Maurice
of Nassau-Ouwerkerk should join the _Pragmatic Army_.

The fiction that the Maritime Powers were not at war with France was
kept up until the spring of 1744, when the French king in alliance with
Spain declared war on England. One of the projects of the war party at
Versailles was the despatch of a powerful expedition to invade England
and restore the Stewarts. As soon as news of the preparations reached
England, a demand was at once made, in accordance with treaty, for naval
aid from the States. Twenty ships were asked for, but only eight were in
a condition to sail; and the admiral in command, Grave, was 73 years of
age and had been for fifteen years in retirement. What an object lesson
of the utter decay of the Dutch naval power! Fortunately a storm
dispersed the French fleet, and the services of the auxiliary squadron
were not required.

The news that Marshal Maurice de Saxe was about to invade the Austrian
Netherlands with a French army of 80,000 men came like a shock upon the
peace party in the States. The memory of 1672 filled them with terror.
The pretence of neutrality could no longer be maintained. The choice lay
between peace at any price or war with all its risks; and it was
doubtful which of the two alternatives was the worse. Was there indeed
any choice? It did not seem so, when De Fénélon, who had represented
France at the Hague for nineteen years, came to take leave of the
States-General on his appointment to a command in the invading army
(April 26). But a last effort was made. An envoy-extraordinary, the
Count of Wassenaer-Twickel, was sent to Paris, but found that the king
was already with his army encamped between Lille and Tournay. Wassenaer
was amused with negotiations for awhile, but there was no pause in the
rapid advance of Marshal Saxe. The barrier fortresses, whose defences
had been neglected, fell rapidly one after another. All west Flanders
was overrun. The allied forces, gathered at Oudenarde, were at first too
weak to offer resistance, and were divided in counsels. Gradually
reinforcements came in, but still the Pragmatic army remained inactive
and was only saved from inevitable defeat by the invasion of Alsace by
the Imperialists. Marshal Saxe was compelled to despatch a considerable
part of the invading army to meet this attack on the eastern frontier,
and to act on the defensive in Flanders. Menin, Courtrai, Ypres, Knocke
and other places remained, however, in French hands.

All this time the Dutch had maintained the fiction that the States were
not at war with France; but in January, 1745, the pressure of
circumstances was too strong even for the weak-kneed Van der Heim and
his fellow-statesmen, and a quadruple alliance was formed between
England, Austria, Saxony and the United Provinces to maintain the
Pragmatic Sanction. This was followed in March by the declaration of war
between France and the States. Meanwhile the position of Austria had
improved. The Emperor Charles VII died on January 20; and his youthful
successor Maximilian Joseph, in return for the restoration of his
electorate, made peace with Maria Theresa and withdrew all Bavarian
claims to the Austrian succession. Affairs in Flanders however did not
prosper. The command-in-chief of the allied army had been given to the
Duke of Cumberland, who was no match for such an opponent as Maurice de
 Saxe. The Prince of Waldeck was in command of the Dutch contingent.

The provinces of Friesland, Groningen, Overyssel and Gelderland had
repeatedly urged that this post should be bestowed upon the Prince of
Orange; and the States-General had in 1742 offered to give William the
rank of lieutenant-general in the army, but Holland and Zeeland steadily
refused. The campaign of 1745 was disastrous. The battle of Fontenoy
(May 11) resulted in a victory for Marshal Saxe over the allied forces,
a victory snatched out of the fire through the pusillanimous withdrawal
from the fight of the Dutch troops on the left wing. The British
infantry with magnificent valour on the right centre had pierced through
the French lines, only to find themselves deserted and overwhelmed by
superior forces. This victory was vigorously followed up. The Jacobite
rising under Charles Edward, the young Pretender, had necessitated the
recalling not only of the greater part of the English expeditionary
force, but also, under the terms of the treaties between Great Britain
and the United Provinces, of a body of 6000 Dutch. Before the year 1745
had ended, Tournay, Ghent, Bruges, Oudenarde, Dendermonde, Ostend,
Nieuport, Ath fell in succession into the hands of Marshal Saxe, and
after a brave defence Brussels itself was forced to capitulate on
February 19, 1746.

Van der Heim and the Republican conclave in whose hands was the
direction of foreign affairs, dreading the approach of the French armies
to the Dutch frontier, sent the Count de Larrey on a private mission to
Paris in November, 1745, to endeavour to negotiate terms of peace. He
was unsuccessful; and in February, 1746 another fruitless effort was
made, Wassenaer and Jacob Gilles being the envoys. The French minister,
D'Argenson, was not unwilling to discuss matters with them; and
negotiations went on for some time in a more or less desultory way, but
without in any way checking the alarming progress of hostilities. An
army 120,000 strong under Marshal Saxe found for some months no force
strong enough to resist it. Antwerp, Louvain, Mechlin, Mons, Charleroi,
Huy and finally Namur (September 21) surrendered to the French. At last
(October 11) a powerful allied army under the command of Charles of
Lorraine made a stand at Roucoux. A hardly-fought battle, in which both
sides lost heavily, ended in the victory of the French. Liège was taken,
and the French were now masters of Belgium.

These successes made the Dutch statesmen at the Hague the more anxious
to conclude peace. D'Argenson had always been averse to an actual
invasion of Dutch territory; and it was arranged between him and the
Dutch envoys, Wassenaer and Gilles, at Paris, and between the
council-pensionary Van der Heim and the Abbé de la Ville at the Hague,
that a congress should meet at Breda in August, in which England
consented to take part. Before it met, however, Van der Heim had died
(August 15). He was succeeded by Jacob Gilles. The congress was destined
to make little progress, for several of the provinces resented the way
in which a small handful of men had secretly been committing the
Republic to the acceptance of disadvantageous and humiliating terms of
peace, without obtaining the consent of the States-General to their
proposals. The congress did not actually assemble till October, and
never got further than the discussion of preliminaries, for the war
party won possession of power at Paris, and Louis XV dismissed
D'Argenson. Moderate counsels were thrown to the winds; and it was
determined in the coming campaign to carry the war into Dutch territory.

Alarm at the threatening attitude of the French roused the allies to
collect an army of 90,000 men, of whom more than half were Austrian;
but, instead of Charles of Lorraine, the Duke of Cumberland was placed
in command. Marshal Saxe, at the head of the main French force, held
Cumberland in check, while he despatched Count Löwenthal with 20,000 to
enter Dutch Flanders. His advance was a triumphal progress. Sluis,
Cadsand and Axel surrendered almost without opposition. Only the timely
arrival of an English squadron in the Scheldt saved Zeeland from
invasion.

The news of these events caused an immense sensation. For some time
popular resentment against the feebleness and jobbery of the
stadholderless government had been deep and strong. Indignation knew no
bounds; and the revolutionary movement to which it gave rise was as
sudden and complete in 1747 as in 1672. All eyes were speedily turned to
the Prince of Orange as the saviour of the country. The movement began
on April 25 at Veere and Middelburg in the island of Walcheren. Three
days later the Estates of the Province proclaimed the prince stadholder
and captain-and admiral-general of Zeeland. The province of Holland,
where the stadholderless form of government was so deeply rooted and had
its most stubborn and determined supporters, followed the example of
Zeeland on May 3, Utrecht on May 5, and Overyssel on May 10. The
States-General appointed him captain-and admiral-general of the Union.
Thus without bloodshed or disturbance of any kind or any personal effort
on the part of the prince, he found himself by general consent invested
with all the posts of dignity and authority which had been held by
Frederick Henry and William III. It was amidst scenes of general popular
rejoicing that William visited Amsterdam, the Hague and Middelburg, and
prepared to set about the difficult task to which he had been called.

One of the first results of the change of government was the closing of
the Congress of Breda. There was no improvement, however, in the
military position. The allied army advancing under Cumberland and
Waldeck, to prevent Marshal Saxe from laying siege to Maestricht, was
attacked by him at Lauffeldt on July 2. The fight was desperately
contested, and the issue was on the whole in favour of the allies, when
at a critical moment the Dutch gave way; and the French were able to
claim, though at very heavy cost, a doubtful victory. It enabled Saxe
nevertheless to despatch a force under Löwenthal to besiege the
important fortress of Bergen-op-Zoom. It was carried by assault on
September 16, and with it the whole of Dutch Brabant fell into the
enemy's hands.

Indignation against the rule of the burgher-regents, which had been
instrumental in bringing so many disasters upon the Republic, was very
general; and there was a loudly expressed desire that the prince should
be invested with greater powers, as the "eminent head" of the State.
With this object in view, on the proposal of the nobles of Holland, the
Estates of that province made the dignity of stadholder and of
captain-and admiral-general hereditary in both the male and female
lines. All the other provinces passed resolutions to the same effect;
and the States-General made the offices of captain-and admiral-general
of the Union also hereditary. In the case of a minority, the
Princess-Mother was to be regent; in that of a female succession the
heiress could only marry with the consent of the States, it being
provided that the husband must be of the Reformed religion, and not a
king or an elector.

Strong measures were taken to prevent the selling of offices and to do
away with the system of farming out the taxes. The post-masterships in
Holland, which produced a large revenue, were offered to the prince;
but, while undertaking the charge, he desired that the profits should
be applied to the use of the State. Indeed they were sorely needed, for
though William would not hear of peace and sent Count Bentinck to
England to urge a vigorous prosecution of the war in conjunction with
Austria and Russia in 1748, promising a States contingent of 70,000 men,
it was found that, when the time for translating promises into action
came, funds were wanting. Holland was burdened with a heavy debt; and
the contributions of most of the provinces to the Generality were
hopelessly in arrears. In Holland a "voluntary loan" was raised, which
afterwards extended to the other provinces and also to the Indies, at
the rate of 1 per cent. on properties between 1000 fl. and 2000 fl.; of
2 per cent. on those above 2000 fl. The loan (_mildegift_) produced a
considerable sum, about 50,000,000 fl.; but this was not enough, and the
prince had the humiliation of writing and placing before the English
government the hopeless financial state of the Republic, and their need
of a very large loan, if they were to take any further part in the war.
This pitiful revelation of the condition of their ally decided Great
Britain to respond to the overtures for peace on the part of France. The
representatives of the powers met at Aix-la-Chapelle; and, as the
English and French were both thoroughly tired of the war, they soon came
to terms. The preliminaries of peace between them were signed on April
30, 1748, on the principle of a restoration of conquests. In this treaty
of Aix-la-Chapelle the United Provinces were included, but no better
proof could be afforded of the low estate to which the Dutch Republic
had now fallen than the fact that its representatives at
Aix-la-Chapelle, Bentinck and Van Haren, were scarcely consulted and
exercised practically no influence upon the decisions. The French
evacuated the southern Netherlands in return for the restoration to them
of the colony of Cape Breton, which had fallen into the hands of the
English; and the barrier towns were again allowed to receive Dutch
garrisons. It was a useless concession, for their fortifications had
been destroyed, and the States could no longer spare the money to make
them capable of serious defence.

The position of William IV all this time was exceptionally responsible,
and therefore the more trying. Never before had any Prince of Orange
been invested with so much power. The glamour attaching to the name of
Orange was perhaps the chief asset of the new stadholder in facing the
serious difficulties into which years of misgovernment had plunged
the country. He had undoubtedly the people at his back, but
unfortunately they expected an almost magical change would take place in
the situation with his elevation to the stadholderate. Naturally they
were disappointed. The revolution of 1747 was not carried out in the
spirit of "thorough," which marked those of 1618, 1650 and 1672. William
IV was cast in a mould different from that of Maurice or William II,
still more from that of his immediate predecessor William III. He was a
man of wide knowledge, kindly, conciliatory, and deeply religious, but
only a mediocre statesman. He was too undecided in his opinions, too
irresolute in action, to be a real leader in a crisis.

The first business was to bring back peace to the country; and this was
achieved, not by any influence that the Netherlands government was able
to exercise upon the course of the negotiations at Aix-la-Chapelle, but
simply as a part of the understanding arrived at by Great Britain and
France. It was for the sake of their own security that the English
plenipotentiaries were willing to give up their conquests in North
America as compensation for the evacuation of those portions of Belgium
and of the Republic that the French forces occupied, and the restoration
of the barrier fortresses.

After peace was concluded, not only the Orange partisans but the great
mass of the people, who had so long been excluded from all share of
political power, desired a drastic reform of the government. They had
conferred sovereign authority upon William, and would have willingly
increased it, in the hope that he would in his person be a centre of
unity to the State, and would use his power for the sweeping away of
abuses. It was a vain hope. He never attempted to do away, root and
branch, with the corrupt municipal oligarchies, but only to make them
more tolerable by the infusion of a certain amount of new blood.

The birth of an heir on March 8,1748, caused great rejoicings, for it
promised permanence to the new order of things. Whatever the prince had
firmly taken in hand would have met with popular approval, but William
had little power of initiative or firmness of principle. He allowed his
course of action to be swayed now by one set of advisers, now by their
opponents. Even in the matter of the farmers of the revenue, the
best-hated men throughout the Republic and especially in Holland, it
required popular tumults and riots at Haarlem, Leyden, the Hague and
Amsterdam, in which the houses of the obnoxious officials were
attacked and sacked, to secure the abolition of a system by which the
proceeds of taxation were diverted from the service of the State to fill
the pockets of venal and corrupt officials. In Amsterdam the spirit of
revolt against the domination of the Town Council by a few patrician
families led to serious disorders and armed conflicts in which blood
was shed; and in September, 1748, the prince, at the request of the
Estates, visited the turbulent city. As the Town Council proved
obstinate in refusing to make concessions, the stadholder was compelled
to take strong action. The Council was dismissed from office, but here,
as elsewhere, the prince was averse from making a drastic purge; out of
the thirty-six members, more than half, nineteen, were restored. The new
men, who thus took their seats in the Town Council, obtained the
_sobriquet_ of "Forty-Eighters."

The state of both the army and navy was deplorable at the end of the
war in which the States had played so inglorious a part. William
had neither the training nor the knowledge to undertake their
reorganisation. He therefore sought the help of Lewis Ernest, Duke of
Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1718-86), who, as an Austrian field-marshal,
had distinguished himself in the war. Brunswick was with difficulty
persuaded, in October, 1749, to accept the post of Dutch field-marshal,
a salary of 60,000 fl. being guaranteed to him, the governorship of
Hertogenbosch, and the right to retain his rank in the Austrian army.
The duke did not actually arrive in Holland and take up his duties until
December, 1750.

The prince's efforts to bring about a reform of the Admiralties, to make
the Dutch navy an efficient force and to restore the commerce and
industries of the country were well meant, but were marred by the
feebleness of his health. All through the year 1750 he had recurring
attacks of illness and grew weaker. On October 22, 1751, he died. It is
unfair to condemn William IV because he did not rise to the height of
his opportunities. When in 1747 power was thrust upon him so suddenly,
no man could have been more earnest in his wish to serve his country.
But he was not gifted with the great abilities and high resolve of
William III; and there can be no doubt that the difficulties with which
he had to contend were manifold, complex and deep-rooted. A
valetudinarian like William IV was not fitted to be the physician of a
body-politic suffering from so many diseases as that of the United
Provinces in 1747.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXIII

THE REGENCY OF ANNE AND OF BRUNSWICK.

1751-1766


On the death of William IV, his widow, Anne of England, was at once
recognised as regent and guardian of her son William V. Bentinck and
other leaders of the Orangist party took prompt measures to secure that
the hereditary rights of the young prince did not suffer by his father's
early death. During the minority Brunswick was deputed to perform the
duties of captain-general. The new regent was a woman of by no means
ordinary parts. In her domestic life she possessed all the virtues of
her mother, Queen Caroline; and in public affairs she had been of much
help to her husband and was deeply interested in them. She was therefore
in many ways well-fitted to undertake the serious responsibilities that
devolved upon her, but her good qualities were marred by a self-willed
and autocratic temperament, which made her resent any interference with
her authority. William Bentinck, who was wont to be insistent with his
advice, presuming on the many services he had rendered, the Duke of
Brunswick, and the council-pensionary Steyn were all alike distrusted
and disliked by her. Her professed policy was not to lean on any party,
but to try and hold the balance between them. Unfortunately William IV,
after the revolution of 1747, had allowed his old Frisian counsellors
(with Otto Zwier van Haren at their head) to have his ear and to
exercise an undue influence upon his decisions. This Frisian court-cabal
continued to exercise the same influence with Princess Anne; and the
Hollanders not unnaturally resented it. For Holland, as usual, in the
late war had borne the brunt of the cost and had a debt of 70,000,000
fl. and an annual deficit of 28,000,000 fl. The council-pensionary Steyn
was a most competent financier, and he with Jan Hop, the
treasurer-general of the Union, and with William Bentinck, head and
spokesman of the nobles in the Estates of Holland, were urgent in
impressing upon the Regent the crying need of retrenchment. Anne
accepted their advice as to the means by which economies might be
effected and a reduction of expenses be brought about. Among these was
the disbanding of some of the military forces, including a part of the
body-guard. To this the regent consented, though characteristically
without consulting Brunswick. The captain-general felt aggrieved, but
allowed the reduction to be made without any formal opposition. No
measure, however, of a bold and comprehensive financial reform, like
that of John de Witt a century earlier, was attempted.

The navy had at the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle been in an even worse
condition than the army; and the stadholder, as admiral-general, had
been urging the Admiralties to bestir themselves and to make the fleet
more worthy of a maritime power. But William's premature death brought
progress to a standstill; and it is noteworthy that such was the
supineness of the States-General in 1752 that, while Brunswick was given
the powers of captain-general, no admiral-general was appointed. The
losses sustained by the merchants and ship-owners through the audacity
of the Algerian pirates roused public opinion, however; and in
successive years squadrons were despatched to the Mediterranean to bring
the sea-robbers to reason. Admiral Boudaen in 1755 contented himself
with the protection of the merchantmen, but Wassenaer in 1756 and 1757
was more aggressive and compelled the Dey of Algiers to make terms.

Meanwhile the rivalry between France and England on the one hand, and
between Austria and Prussia on the other, led to the formation of new
alliances, and placed the Dutch Republic in a difficult position. The
peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was but an armed truce. The French lost no time
in pushing forward ambitious schemes of colonial enterprise in North
America and in India. Their progress was watched with jealous eyes by
the English; and in 1755 war broke out between the two powers. The
Republic was bound to Great Britain by ancient treaties; but the
activities of the French ambassador, D'Affry, had been successful in
winning over a number of influential Hollanders and also the court-cabal
to be inclined to France and to favour strict neutrality. The situation
was immensely complicated by the alliance concluded between Austria and
France on May 1, 1756.

This complete reversal of the policy, which from the early years of
William III had grouped England, Austria and the States in alliance
against French aggression, caused immense perturbation amongst the Dutch
statesmen. By a stroke of the pen the Barrier Treaty had ceased to
exist, for the barrier fortresses were henceforth useless. The English
ambassador, Yorke, urged upon the Dutch government the treaty right of
Great Britain to claim the assistance of 6000 men and twenty ships;
Austria had the able advocacy of D'Affry in seeking to induce the States
to become parties to the Franco-Austrian alliance. The regent, though an
English princess, was scarcely less zealous than were the
council-pensionary Steyn, Brunswick and most of the leading
burgher-regents in desiring to preserve strict neutrality. To England
the answer was made that naval and military help were not due except in
case of invasion. The French had meanwhile been offering the Dutch
considerable commercial privileges in exchange for their neutrality,
with the result that Dutch merchantmen were seized by the English
cruisers and carried into English ports to be searched for contraband.

The princess had a very difficult part to play. Delegations of merchants
waited upon her urging her to exert her influence with the English
government not to use their naval supremacy for the injury of Dutch
trade. Anne did her best, but without avail. England was determined to
stop all commercial intercourse between France and the West Indies.
Dutch merchantmen who attempted to supply the French with goods did so
at their own risk. Four deputations from Amsterdam and the maritime
towns waited upon the princess, urging an increase of the fleet as a
protection against England. Other deputations came from the inland
provinces, asking for an increase of the army against the danger of a
French invasion. The French were already in occupation of Ostend and
Nieuport, and had threatening masses of troops on the Belgian frontier.
The regent, knowing on which side the peril to the security of the
country was greatest, absolutely refused her consent to an increase of
the fleet without an increase of the army. The Estates of Holland
refused to vote money for the army; and, having the power of the purse,
matters were at a deadlock. The Republic lay helpless and without
defence should its enemies determine to attack it. In the midst of all
these difficulties and anxieties, surrounded by intrigues and
counter-intrigues, sincerely patriotic and desirous to do her utmost for
the country, but thwarted and distrusted on every side, the health of
the regent, which had never been strong, gradually gave way. On
December 11, 1758, she went in person to the States-General, "with
tottering steps and death in her face," to endeavour to secure unity of
action in the presence of the national danger, but without achieving her
object. The maritime provinces were obdurate. Seeing death approaching,
with the opening of the new year she made arrangements for the marriage
of her daughter Caroline with Charles Christian, Prince of
Nassau-Weilburg, and after committing her two children to the care of
the Duke of Brunswick (with whom she had effected a reconciliation) and
making him guardian of the young Prince of Orange, Anne expired on
January 12, 1759, at the early age of forty-nine.

The task Brunswick had to fulfil was an anxious one, but by the exercise
of great tact, during the seven years of William's minority, he managed
to gather into his hands a great deal of the powers of a stadholder, and
at the same time to ingratiate himself with the anti-Orange States
party, whose power especially in Holland had been growing in strength
and was in fact predominant. By politic concessions to the regents, and
by the interest he displayed in the commercial and financial prosperity
of the city of Amsterdam, that chief centre of opposition gave its
support to his authority; and he was able to do this while keeping at
the same time on good terms with Bentinck, Steyn, Fagel and the Orange
party.

The political position of the United Provinces during the early part of
the Brunswick guardianship was impotent and ignominious in the extreme.
Despite continued protests and complaints, Dutch merchantmen were
constantly being searched for contraband and brought as prizes into
English ports; and the lucrative trade that had been carried on between
the West Indies and France in Dutch bottoms was completely stopped. Even
the fitting out of twenty-one ships of the line, as a convoy, effected
nothing, for such a force could not face the enormous superiority of the
English fleet, which at that time swept the seas. The French ambassador,
D'Affry, made most skilful use of his opportunities to create a
pro-French party in Holland and especially in Amsterdam, and he was not
unsuccessful in his intrigues. But the Dutch resolve to remain neutral
at any cost remained as strong as ever, for, whatever might be the case
with maritime Holland, the inland provinces shrank from running any
risks of foreign invasion. When at last the Peace of Paris came in 1763,
the representatives of the United Provinces, though they essayed to
play the part of mediators between the warring powers, no longer
occupied a position of any weight in the councils of the European
nations. The proud Republic, which had treated on equal terms with
France and with Great Britain in the days of John de Witt and of William
III, had become in the eyes of the statesmen of 1763 a negligible
quantity.

One of the effects of the falling-off in the overseas trade of Amsterdam
was to transform this great commercial city into the central exchange of
Europe. The insecurity of sea-borne trade caused many of the younger
merchants to deal in money securities and bills of exchange rather than
in goods. Banking houses sprang up apace, and large fortunes were made
by speculative investments in stocks and shares; and loans for foreign
governments, large and small, were readily negotiated. This state of
things reached its height during the Seven Years' War, but with the
settlement which followed the peace of 1763 disaster came. On July 25
the chief financial house in Amsterdam, that of De Neufville, failed to
meet its liabilities and brought down in its crash a very large number
of other firms, not merely in Holland, but also in Hamburg and other
places; for a veritable panic was caused, and it was some time before
stability could be restored.

The remaining three years of the Brunswick _régime_ were uneventful in
the home country. Differences with the English East India Company
however led to the expulsion of the Dutch from their trading settlements
on the Hooghley and Coromandel; and in Berbice there was a serious
revolt of the negro slaves, which, after hard fighting in the bush, was
put down with much cruelty. The young Prince of Orange on the attainment
of his eighteenth year, March 8,1766, succeeded to his hereditary
rights. His grandmother, Maria Louisa, to whose care he had owed much,
had died on April 9, in the previous year. During the interval the
Princess Caroline had taken her place as regent in Friesland.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXIV

WILLIAM V. FIRST PERIOD, 1766-1780


Of all the stadholders of his line William V was the least
distinguished. Neither in appearance, character nor manner was he fitted
for the position which he had to fill. He had been most carefully
educated, and was not wanting in ability, but he lacked energy and
thoroughness, and was vacillating and undecided at moments when resolute
action was called for. Like his contemporary Louis XVI, had he been born
in a private station, he would have adorned it, but like that unhappy
monarch he had none of the qualities of a leader of men in critical and
difficult times. It was characteristic of him that he asked for
confirmation from the Provincial Estates of the dignities and offices
which were his by hereditary right. In every thing he relied upon the
advice of the Duke of Brunswick, whose methods of government he
implicitly followed. To such an extent was this the case that, soon
after his accession to power, a secret Act was drawn up (May 3, 1766),
known as the Act of Consultation, by which the duke bound himself to
remain at the side of the stadholder and to assist him by word and deed
in all affairs of State. During the earlier years therefore of William
V's stadholderate he consulted Brunswick in every matter, and was thus
encouraged to distrust his own judgment and to be fitful and desultory
in his attention to affairs of State.

One of the first of Brunswick's cares was to provide for the prince a
suitable wife. William II, William III and William IV had all married
English princesses, but the feeling of hostility to England was strong
in Holland, and it was not thought advisable for the young stadholder to
seek for a wife in his mother's family. The choice of the duke was the
Prussian Princess Wilhelmina. The new Princess of Orange was niece on
the paternal side of Frederick the Great and on the maternal side of the
Duke of Brunswick himself. The marriage took place at Berlin on October,
4 1767. The bride was but sixteen years of age, but her attractive
manners and vivacious cleverness caused her to win the popular
favour on her first entry into her adopted country.

The first eight years of William's stadholdership passed by quietly.
There is little to record. Commerce prospered, but the Hollanders were
no longer content with commerce and aimed rather at the rapid
accumulation of wealth by successful financial transactions.
Stock-dealing had become a national pursuit. Foreign powers came to
Amsterdam for loans; and vast amounts of Dutch capital were invested in
British and French funds and in the various German states. And yet all
the time this rich and prosperous country was surrounded by powerful
military and naval powers, and, having no strong natural frontiers, lay
exposed defenceless to aggressive attack whether by sea or land. It was
in vain that the stadholder, year by year, sent pressing memorials to
the States-General urging them to strengthen the navy and the army and
to put them on a war footing. The maritime provinces were eager for an
increase of the navy, but the inland provinces refused to contribute
their quota of the charges. Utrecht, Gelderland, Overyssel and Groningen
on the other hand, liable as they were to suffer from military invasion,
were ready to sanction a considerable addition to the land forces, but
were thwarted by the opposition of Holland, Zeeland and Friesland. So
nothing was done, and the Republic, torn by divided interests and with
its ruling classes lapped in self-contented comfort and luxury, was a
helpless prey that seemed to invite spoliation.

This was the state of things when the British North American colonies
rose in revolt against the mother-country. The sympathies of France were
from the first with the colonials; and a body of volunteers raised by
Lafayette with the connivance of the French overnment crossed the
Atlantic to give armed assistance to the rebels. Scarcely less warm was
the feeling in the Netherlands. The motives which prompted it were
partly sentimental, partly practical. There was a certain similarity
between the struggle for independence on the part of the American
colonists against a mighty state like Great Britain, and their own
struggle with the world-power of Spain. There was also the hope that the
rebellion would have the practical result of opening out to the Dutch
merchants a lucrative trade with the Americans, one of whose chief
grievances against the mother-country had been the severity of the
restrictions forbidding all trading with foreign lands. At the same
time the whole air was full of revolutionary ideas, which were
unsettling men's minds. This was no less the case in the Netherlands
than elsewhere; and the American revolt was regarded as a realisation
and vindication in practical politics of the teaching of Montesquieu,
Voltaire and Rousseau, whose works were widely read, and of the
Englishmen Hume, Priestley and Richard Price. Foremost among the
propagandists of these ideas were Jan Dirk van der Capellen tot de Pol,
a nobleman of Overyssel, and the three burgomasters of Amsterdam, Van
Berckel, De Vrij Temminck and Hooft, all anti-Orange partisans and
pro-French in sentiment. Amidst all these contending factions and
opinions, the State remained virtually without a head, William V
drifting along incapable of forming an independent decision, or of
making a firm and resolute use of the great powers with which he was
entrusted.

Torn by internal dissensions, the maintenance of neutrality by the
Republic became even more difficult than in the Seven Years' War. The
old questions of illicit trade with the enemy and the carrying of
contraband arose. The Dutch islands of St Eustatius and Curaçoa became
centres of smuggling enterprise; and Dutch merchant vessels were
constantly being searched by the British cruisers and often carried off
as prizes into English ports. Strong protests were made and great
irritation aroused. Amsterdam was the chief sufferer. Naturally in this
hot-bed of Republican opinion and French sympathies, the prince was
blamed and was accused of preferring English interests to those of his
own country. The arrival of the Duke de la Vauguyon, as French
ambassador, did much to fan the flame. Vauguyon entered into close
relations with the Amsterdam regents and did all in his power to
exacerbate the growing feeling of hostility to England, and to persuade
the Republic to abandon the ancient alliance with that country in favour
of one with France.

The British ambassador, Yorke, lacked his ingratiating manners; and his
language now became imperative and menacing in face of the flourishing
contraband trade that was carried on at St Eustatius. In consequence of
his strong protest the governor of the island, Van Heyliger, was
replaced by De Graeff, but it was soon discovered that the new governor
was no improvement upon his predecessor. He caused additional offence to
the British government by saluting the American flag on November 16,
1776. The threats of Yorke grew stronger, but with small result. The
Americans continued to draw supplies from the Dutch islands. The entry
of France into the war on February 6, 1778, followed by that of Spain,
complicated matters. England was now fighting with her back to the wall;
and her sea-power had to be exerted to its utmost to make head against
so many foes. She waged relentless war on merchant ships carrying
contraband or suspected contraband, whether enemy or neutral. At last
money was voted under pressure from Amsterdam, supported by the prince,
for the building of a fleet for protection against privateers and for
purposes of convoy. But a fleet cannot be built in a day; and, when
Admiral van Bylandt was sent out in 1777, his squadron consisted of five
ships only. Meanwhile negotiations with England were proceeding and
resulted in certain concessions, consent being given to allow what was
called "limited convoy." The States-General, despite the opposition of
Amsterdam, accepted on November 13, 1778, the proffered compromise. But
the French ambassador Vauguyon supported the protest of Amsterdam by
threatening, unless the States-General insisted upon complete freedom of
trade, to withdraw the commercial privileges granted to the Republic by
France. Finding that the States-General upheld their resolution of
November 13, he carried his threat into execution. This action brought
the majority of the Estates of Holland to side with Amsterdam and to
call for a repeal of the "limited convoy" resolution. The English on
their part, well aware of all this, continued to do their utmost to stop
all supplies reaching their enemies in Dutch bottoms, convoy or no
convoy. The British government, though confronted by so many foes, now
took strong measures. Admiral van Bylandt, convoying a fleet of
merchantmen through the Channel, was compelled by a British squadron to
strike his flag; and all the Dutch vessels were taken into Portsmouth.
This was followed by a demand under the treaty of 1678 for Dutch aid in
ships and men, or the abrogation of the treaty of alliance and of the
commercial privileges it carried with it. Yorke gave the States-General
three weeks for their decision; and on April 17, 1779, the long-standing
alliance, which William III had made the keystone of his policy, ceased
to exist. War was not declared, but the States-General voted for
"unlimited convoy" on April 24; and every effort was made by the
Admiralties to build and equip a considerable fleet. The reception
given to the American privateer, Paul Jones, who, despite English
protests, was not only allowed to remain in Holland for three months,
but was feted as a hero (October-December, 1779), accentuated the
increasing alienation of the two countries.

At this critical stage the difficult position of England was increased
by the formation under the leadership of Russia of a League of Armed
Neutrality. Its object was to maintain the principle of the freedom of
the seas for the vessels of neutral countries, unless they were carrying
contraband of war, _i.e._military or naval munitions. Further a blockade
would not be recognised if not effective. Sweden and Denmark joined the
league; and the Empress Catherine invited the United Provinces and
several other neutral powers to do likewise. Her object was to put a
curb upon what was described by Britain's enemies as the tyranny of the
Mistress of the Seas. The Republic for some time hesitated. Conscious of
their weakness at sea, the majority in the States-General were unwilling
to take any overt steps to provoke hostilities, when an event occurred
which forced their hands.

In 1778 certain secret negotiations had taken place between the
Amsterdam regents and the American representatives at Paris,
Franklin and Lee. It chanced that Henry Lawrence, a former
President of the Congress, was on his way from New York to
Amsterdam in September, 1780, for the purpose of raising a loan.
Pursued by an English frigate, the ship on which he was sailing
was captured off Newfoundland; and among his papers were found
copies of the negotiations of 1778 and of the correspondence which
then took place. Great was the indignation of the British government,
and it was increased when the Estates of Holland, under the
influence of Amsterdam, succeeded in bringing the States-General
(by a majority of four provinces to three) to join the League of
Armed Neutrality. Better open war than a sham peace. Instructions
were therefore sent to the ambassador Yorke to demand the
punishment of the Amsterdam regents for their clandestine transactions
with the enemies of England. The reply was that the matter
should be brought before the Court of Holland; and Van Welderen,
the Dutch ambassador in London, in vain endeavoured to give
assurances that the States were anxious to maintain a strict neutrality.
Yorke demanded immediate satisfaction and once more called
upon the Republic to furnish the aid in men and ships in accordance
with the treaty. Further instructions were therefore sent
to Van Welderen, but they were delayed by tempestuous weather.
In any case they would have been of no avail. The British
government was in no mood for temporising. On December 20,
1780 war was declared against the United Provinces; and three
days later Yorke left the Hague.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXV

STADHOLDERATE OF WILLIAM V, _continued_, 1780-1788


The outbreak of war meant the final ruin of the Dutch Republic. Its
internal condition at the close of 1780 made it hopelessly unfitted to
enter upon a struggle with the overwhelming sea-power of England. Even
had William V possessed the qualities of leadership, he would have had
to contend against the bitter opposition and enmity of the anti-Orange
party among the burgher-regents, of which Van der Capellen was one of
the most moving spirits, and which had its chief centre in Amsterdam.
But the prince, weak and incompetent, was apparently intent only on
evading his responsibilities, and so laid himself open to the charges of
neglect and mal-administration that were brought against him by his
enemies.

Against an English fleet of more than 300 vessels manned by a force of
something like 100,000 seamen, the Dutch had but twenty ships of the
line, most of them old and of little value. Large sums of money were now
voted for the equipment of a fleet; and the Admiralties were urged to
press forward the work with all possible vigour. But progress was
necessarily slow. Everything was lacking--material, munitions,
equipment, skilled labour--and these could not be supplied in time to
prevent Dutch commerce being swept from the seas and the Dutch colonies
captured. The Republicans, or Patriots, as they began to name
themselves, were at first delighted that the Orange stadholder and his
party had been compelled to break with England and to seek the alliance
of France; but their joy was but short-lived. Bad tidings followed
rapidly one upon another. In the first month of the war 200 merchantmen
were captured, of the value of 15,000,000 florins. The fishing fleets
dared not put out to sea. In 1780 more than 2000 vessels passed through
the Sound, in 1781 only eleven. On February 3 St Eustatius surrendered
to Admiral Rodney, when one hundred and thirty merchantmen together with
immense stores fell into the hands of the captors. Surinam and Curaçoa
received warning and were able to put themselves into a state of
defence, but the colonies of Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo were taken,
also St Martin, Saba and the Dutch establishments on the coast of
Guinea. In the East Indies Negapatam and the factories in Bengal passed
into English possession; and the Cape, Java and Ceylon would have shared
the same fate, but for the timely protection of a French squadron under
the command of Suffren, one of the ablest and bravest of French seamen.

The losses were enormous, and loud was the outcry raised in Amsterdam
and elsewhere against the prince of being the cause of his country's
misfortunes. "Orange," so his enemies said, "is to blame for everything.
He possessed the power to do whatsoever he would, and he neglected to
use it in providing for the navy and the land's defences." This was to a
considerable extent unjust, for William from 1767 onwards had repeatedly
urged an increase of the sea and land forces, but his proposals had been
thwarted by bitter opposition, especially in Amsterdam itself. The
accusations were to this extent correct that he was undoubtedly invested
with large executive power which he had not the strength of will to use.
It was at this period that Van der Capellen and others started a most
violent press campaign not only against the stadholder, but against the
hereditary stadholdership and all that the house of Orange-Nassau stood
for in the history of the Dutch Republic. Brunswick was attacked with
especial virulence. The "Act of Consultation" had become known; and, had
the prince been willing to throw responsibility upon the duke for bad
advice he might have gained some fleeting popularity by separating
himself from the hated "foreigner." But William, weak though he was,
would not abandon the man who in his youth had been to him and to his
house a wise and staunch protector and friend; and he knew, moreover,
that the accusations against Brunswick were really aimed at himself. The
duke, however, after appealing to the States-General, and being by them
declared free from blame, found the spirit of hostility so strong at
Amsterdam and in several of the Provincial Estates that he withdrew
first (1782) to Hertogenbosch, of which place he was governor, and
finally left the country in 1784.

The war meanwhile, which had been the cause, or rather the pretext, for
this outburst of popular feeling against Brunswick, was pursuing its
course. In the summer of 1781 Rear-Admiral Zoutman, at the head of a
squadron of fifteen war-ships, was ordered to convoy seventy-two
merchantmen into the Baltic. He met an English force of twelve vessels,
which were larger and better armed than the Dutch, under Vice-Admiral
Hyde Parker. A fierce encounter took place at the Doggerbank on August
5, which lasted all day without either side being able to claim the
victory. Parker was the first to retreat, but Zoutman had likewise to
return to the Texel to repair his disabled ships, and his convoy never
reached the Baltic. The Dutch however were greatly elated at the result
of the fight, and Zoutman and his captains were feted as heroes.

Doggerbank battle was but, at the most, an indecisive engagement on a
very small scale, and it brought no relaxation in the English blockade.
No Dutch admiral throughout all the rest of the war ventured to face the
English squadrons in the North Sea and in the Channel; and the Dutch
mercantile marine disappeared from the ocean. England was strong enough
to defy the Armed Neutrality, which indeed proved, as its authoress
Catherine II is reported to have said, "an armed nullity." There was
deep dissatisfaction throughout the country, and mutual recriminations
between the various responsible authorities, but there was some justice
in making the stadholder the chief scapegoat, for, whatever may have
been the faults of others, a vigorous initiative in the earlier years of
his stadholdership might have effected much, and would have certainly
gained for him increased influence and respect.

The war lasted for two years, if war that could be called in which there
was practically no fighting. There were changes of government in
England during that time, and the party of which Fox was the leader had
no desire to press hardly upon the Dutch. Several efforts were made to
induce them to negotiate in London a separate peace on favourable terms,
but the partisans of France in Amsterdam and elsewhere rendered these
tentative negotiations fruitless. Being weak, the Republic suffered
accordingly by having to accept finally whatever terms its mightier
neighbour thought fit to dictate. On November 30, 1782, the preliminary
treaty by which Great Britain conceded to the United States of America
their independence was concluded. A truce between Great Britain and
France followed in January, 1783, in which the United Provinces, as a
satellite of France, were included. No further hostilities took place,
but the negotiations for a definitive peace dragged on, the protests of
the Dutch plenipotentiaries at Paris against the terms arranged
between England and France being of no avail. Finally the French
government concluded a separate peace on September 3; but it was not
till May 20, 1784, that the Dutch could be induced to surrender
Negapatam and to grant to the English the right of free entry into the
Moluccas. Nor was this the only humiliation the Republic had at this
time to suffer, for during the course of the English war serious
troubles with the Emperor Joseph II had arisen.

Joseph had in 1780 paid a visit to his Belgian provinces, and he had
seen with his own eyes the ruinous condition of the barrier fortresses.
On the pretext that the fortresses were now useless, since France and
the Republic were allies, Joseph informed the States-General of his
intention to dismantle them all with the exception of Antwerp and
Luxemburg. This meant of course the withdrawal of the Dutch garrisons.
The States-General, being unable to resist, deemed it the wiser course
to submit. The troops accordingly left the barrier towns in January,
1782. Such submission, as was to be expected, inevitably led to further
demands.

The Treaty of Münster (1648) had left the Dutch in possession of
territory on both banks of the Scheldt, and had given them the right to
close all access by river to Antwerp, which had for a century and a
quarter ceased to be a sea-port. In 1781, during his visit to Belgium,
Joseph had received a number of petitions in favour of the liberation
of the Scheldt. At the moment he did not see his way to taking action,
but in 1783 he took advantage of the embarrassments of the Dutch
government to raise the question of a disputed boundary in Dutch
Flanders; and in the autumn of that year a body of Imperial troops took
forcible possession of some frontier forts near Sluis. Matters were
brought to a head in May, 1784, by the emperor sending to the
States-General a detailed summary of all his grievances, _Tableau
sommaire des prétentions_. In this he claimed, besides cessions of
territory at Maestricht and in Dutch Flanders, the right of free
navigation on the Scheldt, the demolition of the Dutch forts closing the
river, and freedom of trading from the Belgian ports to the Indies. This
document was in fact an ultimatum, the rejection of which meant war. For
once all parties in the Republic were united in resistance to the
emperor's demands; and when in October, 1784, two ships attempted to
navigate the Scheldt, the one starting from Antwerp, the other from
Ostend, they were both stopped; the first at Saftingen on the
frontier, the second at Flushing. War seemed imminent. An Austrian army
corps was sent to the Netherlands; and the Dutch bestirred themselves
with a vigour unknown in the States for many years to equip a strong
fleet and raise troops to repel invasion. It is, however, almost certain
that, had Joseph carried out his threat of sending a force of 80,000 men
to avenge the insult offered to his ships, the hastily enlisted Dutch
troops would not have been able to offer effectual resistance. But the
question the emperor was raising was no mere local question. He was
really seeking to violate important clauses of two international
treaties, to which all the great powers were parties, the Treaty of
Münster and the Treaty of Utrecht. His own possession of the Belgian
Netherlands and the independence and sovereign rights of the Dutch
Republic rested on the same title. Joseph had counted upon the help or
at least the friendly neutrality of his brother-in-law, Louis XVI, but
France had just concluded an exhausting war in which the United
Provinces had been her allies. The French, moreover, had no desire to
see the Republic over-powered by an act of aggression that might give
rise to European complications. Louis XVI offered mediation, and it was
accepted.

It is doubtful indeed whether the emperor, whose restless brain was
always full of new schemes, really meant to carry his threats into
execution. In the autumn of 1784 a plan for exchanging the distant
Belgian Netherlands for the contiguous Electorate of Bavaria was
beginning to exercise his thoughts and diplomacy. He showed himself
therefore ready to make concessions; and by the firmness of the attitude
of France both the disputants were after lengthy negotiations brought to
terms, which were embodied in a treaty signed at Fontainebleau on
November 8,1785. The Dutch retained the right to close the Scheldt, but
had to dismantle some of the forts; the frontier of Dutch Flanders was
to be that of 1664; and Joseph gave up all claim to Maestricht in
consideration of a payment of 9,500,000 florins. A few days later an
alliance between France and the Republic, known as "the Defensive
Confederacy" of Fontainebleau, was concluded, the French government
advancing 4,500,000 florins towards the ransom of Maestricht. The return
of peace, however, far from allaying the spirit of faction in the
Republic, was to lead to civil strife.

The situation with which William V now had to deal was in some ways
more difficult and dangerous than in the days of his greater
predecessors. It was no longer a mere struggle for supremacy between the
Orange-Stadholder party (_prins-gezinderi_) and the patrician-regents of
the town corporations (_staats-gezinderi_); a third party had come into
existence, the democratic or "patriot" party, which had imbibed the
revolutionary ideas of Rousseau and others about the Rights of Man and
the Social Contract. These new ideas, spread about with fiery zeal by
the two nobles, Van der Capellen tot de Pol and his cousin Van der
Capellen van den Marsch, had found a fertile soil in the northern
Netherlands, and among all classes, including other nobles and many
leading burgomasters. Their aim was to abolish all privileges whether in
Church or State, and to establish the principle of the sovereignty of
the people. These were the days, be it remembered, which immediately
succeeded the American Revolution and preceded the summoning of the
States-General in France with its fateful consequences. The atmosphere
was full of revolution; and the men of the new ideas had no more
sympathy with the pretensions of an aristocratic caste of
burgher-regents to exclude their fellow-citizens from a voice in the
management of their own affairs, than they had with the quasi-sovereign
position of an hereditary stadholder. Among the Orange party were few
men of mark. The council-pensionary Bleiswijk was without character,
ready to change sides with the shifting wind; and Count Bentinck van
Rhoon had little ability. They were, however, to discover in burgomaster
Van de Spiegel of Goes a statesman destined soon to play a great part in
the history of the country. During this period of acute party strife
Patriot and Orangeman were not merely divided from one another on
questions of domestic policy. The one party were strong adherents of the
French alliance and leant upon its support; the other sought to renew
the bonds which had so long united the Republic with England. Indeed the
able representatives of France and England at the Hague at this time,
the Count de Vérac and Sir James Harris (afterwards Lord Malmesbury),
were the real leaders and advisers, behind the scenes, of the opposing
factions.

The strength of parties varied in the different provinces. Holland,
always more or less anti-stadholder, was the chief centre of the
patriots. With Holland were the majority of the Estates of Friesland,
Groningen and Overyssel. In Utrecht the nobles and the regents were
for the stadholder, but the townsmen were strong patriots. Zeeland
supported the prince, who had with him the army, the preachers and the
great mass of small _bourgeoisie_ and the country folk. Nothing could
exceed the violence and unscrupulousness of the attacks that were
directed against the stadholder in the press; and no efforts were spared
by his opponents to curtail his rights and to insult him personally.
Corps of patriot volunteers were enrolled in different places with
self-elected officers. The wearing of the Orange colours and the singing
of the _Wilhelmus_ was forbidden, and punished by fine and imprisonment.
In September, 1785, a riot at the Hague led to the Estates of Holland
taking from the stadholder the command of the troops in that city. They
likewise ordered the foot-guards henceforth to salute the members of the
Estates, and removed the arms of the prince from the standards and the
facings of the troops. As a further slight, the privilege was given to
the deputies, while the Estates were in session, to pass through the
gate into the Binnenhof, which had hitherto been reserved for the use of
the stadholder alone. Filled with indignation and resentment, William
left the Hague with his family and withdrew to his country residence at
Het Loo. Such a step only increased the confusion and disorder that was
filling every part of the country, for it showed that William had
neither the spirit nor the energy to make a firm stand against those who
were resolved to overthrow his authority.

In Utrecht the strife between the parties led to scenes of violence. The
"patriots" found an eloquent leader in the person of a young student
named Ondaatje. The Estates of the province were as conservative as the
city of Utrecht itself was ultra-democratic; and a long series of
disturbances were caused by the burgher-regents of the Town Council
refusing to accede to the popular demand for a drastic change in their
constitution. Finally they were besieged in the town hall by a numerous
gathering of the "free corps" headed by Ondaatje, and were compelled to
accede to the people's demands. A portion of the Estates thereupon
assembled at Amersfoort; and at their request a body of 400 troops were
sent there from Nijmwegen. Civil war seemed imminent, but it was averted
by the timely mediation of the Estates of Holland.

Scarcely less dangerous was the state of affairs in Gelderland. Here the
Estates of the Gelderland had an Orange majority, but the patriots had
an influential leader in Van der Capellen van den Marsch. Petitions
and requests were sent to the Estates demanding popular reforms. The
Estates not only refused to receive them but issued a proclamation
forbidding the dissemination of revolutionary literature in the
province. The small towns of Elburg and Hattem not only refused to obey,
but the inhabitants proceeded by force to compel their Councils to yield
to their demands. The Estates thereupon called upon the stadholder to
send troops to restore order. This was done, and garrisons were placed
in Elburg and Hattem. This step caused a very great commotion in Holland
and especially at Amsterdam; and the patriot leaders felt that the time
had come to take measures by which to unite all their forces in the
different parts of the country for common defence and common action. The
result of all this was that the movement became more and more
revolutionary in its aims. To such an extent was this the case that many
of the old aristocratic anti-stadholder regents began to perceive that
the carrying out of the patriots' programme of popular reform would mean
the overthrow of the system of government which they upheld, at the same
time as that of the stadholderate.

The reply of the Estates of Holland to the strong measures taken against
Elburg and Hattem was the "provisional" removal of the prince from the
post of captain-general, and the recalling, on their own authority, of
all troops in the pay of the province serving in the frontier fortresses
(August, 1786). As the year went on the agitation grew in volume;
increasing numbers were enrolled in the free corps. The complete
ascendancy of the ultra-democratic patriots was proved and assured by
tumultuous gatherings at Amsterdam (April 21, 1787), and a few days
later at Rotterdam, compelling the Town Councils to dismiss at Amsterdam
nine regents and at Rotterdam seven, suspected of Orange leanings.
Holland was now entirely under patriot control; and the democrats in
other districts were eagerly looking to the forces which Holland could
bring into the field to protect the patriot cause from tyrannous acts of
oppression by the stadholder's troops. In the summer of 1787 the forces
on both sides were being mustered on the borders of the province of
Utrecht, and frequent collisions had already taken place. Nothing but
the prince's indecision had prevented the actual outbreak of a general
civil war. At the critical moment of suspense an incident occurred,
however, which was to effect a dramatic change in the situation.

William's pusillanimous attitude (he was actually talking of withdrawing
from the country to Nassau) was by no means acceptable to his
high-spirited wife. The princess was all for vigorous action, and she
wrung from William a reluctant consent to her returning from Nijmwegen,
where for security she had been residing with her family, to the Hague.
In that political centre she would be in close communication with Sir J.
Harris and Van de Spiegel, and would be able to organise a powerful
opposition in Holland to patriot ascendancy. It was a bold move, the
success of which largely depended on the secrecy with which it was
carried out. On June 28 Wilhelmina started from Nijmwegen, but the
commandant of the free corps at Gouda, hearing that horses were being
ordered at Schoonhoven and Haasrecht for a considerable party,
immediately sent to headquarters for instructions. He was told not to
allow any suspicious body of persons to pass. He accordingly stopped the
princess and detained her at a farm until the arrival at Woerden of the
members of the Committee of Defence. By these Her Highness was treated
(on learning her quality) with all respect, but she was informed that
she could not proceed without the permit of the Estates of Holland. The
indignant princess did not wait for the permit to arrive, but returned
to Nijmwegen.

The British ambassador, Harris, at once brought the action of the
Estates of Holland before the States-General and demanded satisfaction;
and on July 10 a still more peremptory demand was made by the Prussian
ambassador, von Thulemeyer. Frederick William II was incensed at the
treatment his sister had received; and, when the Estates of Holland
refused to punish the offending officials, on the ground that no insult
had been intended, orders were immediately given for an army of 20,000
men under Charles, Duke of Brunswick, to cross the frontier and exact
reparation. The Prussians entered in three columns and met with little
opposition. Utrecht, where 7000 "patriot" volunteers were encamped, was
evacuated, the whole force taking flight and retreating in disorder to
Holland. Gorkum, Dordrecht, Kampen and other towns surrendered without a
blow; and on September 17 Brunswick's troops entered the Hague amidst
general rejoicings. The populace wore Orange favours, and the streets
rang with the cry of _Oranje boven_. Amsterdam still held out and
prepared for defence, hoping for French succour; and thither the leaders
of the patriot party had fled, together with the representatives of
six cities. The nobility, the representatives of eight cities, and the
council-pensionary remained at the Hague, met as the Estates of Holland,
repealed all the anti-Orange edicts, and invited the prince to return.
Amidst scenes of great enthusiasm the stadholder made his entry into the
Binnenhof on September 20. The hopes held by the patriot refugees at
Amsterdam of French aid were vain, for the French government was in no
position to help anyone. As soon as the Prussian army appeared before
the gates, the Town Council, as in 1650, was unwilling to jeopardise the
welfare of the city by armed resistance, and negotiations were opened
with Brunswick. On October 3 Amsterdam capitulated, and the campaign was
over.

The princess was now in a position to demand reparation for the insult
she had received; and, though her terms were severe, the Estates of
Holland obsequiously agreed to carry them out (October 6). She demanded
the punishment of all who had taken part in her arrest, the disbanding
of the free corps, and the purging of the various Town Councils of
obnoxious persons. All this was done. In the middle of November the main
body of the Prussians departed, but a force of 4000 men remained to
assist the Dutch troops in keeping order. The English ambassador,
Harris, and Van de Spiegel were the chief advisers of the now dominant
Orange government; and drastic steps were taken to establish the
hereditary stadholderate henceforth on a firm basis. All persons filling
any office were required to swear to maintain the settlement of 1766,
and to declare that "the high and hereditary dignities" conferred upon
the Princes of Orange were "an essential part not only of the
constitution of each province but of the whole State." An amnesty was
proclaimed by the prince on November 21, but it contained so many
exceptions that it led to a large number of the patriots seeking a place
of refuge in foreign countries, as indeed many of the leaders had
already done, chiefly in France and the Belgian Netherlands. It has been
said that the exiles numbered as many as 40,000, but this is possibly an
exaggeration. The victory of the Orange party was complete; but a
triumph achieved by the aid of a foreign invader was dearly purchased.
The Prussian troops, as they retired laden with booty after committing
many excesses, left behind them a legacy of hatred.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXVI

THE ORANGE RESTORATION. DOWNFALL OF THE REPUBLIC, 1788-1795


One of the first steps taken, after the restoration of the stadholder's
power had been firmly established, was the appointment of Laurens Pieter
van de Spiegel to the post of council-pensionary of Holland in place of
the trimmer Bleiswijk. It was quite contrary to usage that a Zeelander
should hold this the most important post in the Estates of Holland, but
the influence of the princess and of Harris secured his unanimous
election on December 3, 1787. Van de Spiegel proved himself to be a
statesman of high capacity, sound judgment and great moderation, not
unworthy to be ranked among the more illustrious occupants of his great
office. He saw plainly the hopeless deadlock and confusion of the
machinery of government and its need of root-and-branch revision, but he
was no more able to achieve it than his predecessors. The feebleness of
the stadholder, the high-handedness of the princess, and the selfish
clinging of the patrician-regents to their privileged monopoly of civic
power were insuperable hindrances to any attempts to interfere with the
existing state of things. Such was the inherent weakness of the Republic
that it was an independent State in little more than name; its form of
government was guaranteed by foreign powers on whom it had to rely for
its defence against external foes.

Prussia by armed force, England by diplomatic support, had succeeded in
restoring the hereditary stadholderate to a predominant position in the
State. It was the first care of the triumvirate, Harris, Van de Spiegel
and the princess, to secure what had been achieved by bringing about a
defensive alliance between the Republic, Great Britain and Prussia.
After what had taken place this was not a difficult task; and two
separate treaties were signed between the States-General and the two
protecting powers on the same day, April 15, 1788, each of the three
states undertaking to furnish a definite quota of troops, ships or
money, if called upon to do so. Both Prussia and England gave a strong
guarantee for the upholding of the hereditary stadholderate. This was
followed by the conclusion of an Anglo-Prussian alliance directed
against France and Austria (August 13). The marriage of the hereditary
prince with Frederika Louise Wilhelmina of Prussia added yet another to
the many royal alliances of the House of Orange; but, though it raised
the prestige of the stadholder's position, it only served to make that
position more dependent on the support of the foreigner.

The council-pensionary, Van de Spiegel, did all that statesman could do
in these difficult times to effect reforms and bring order out of chaos.
It was fortunate for the Republic that the stadholder should have
discerned the merits of this eminent servant of the state and entrusted
to him so largely the direction of affairs. Internally the spirit of
faction had, superficially at least, been crushed by Prussian military
intervention, but externally there was serious cause for alarm. Van de
Spiegel watched with growing disquietude the threatening aspect of
things in France, preluding the great Revolution; and still more serious
was the insurrection, which the reforming zeal of Joseph II had caused
to break out in the Austrian Netherlands. Joseph's personal visit to his
Belgian dominions had filled him with a burning desire to sweep away the
various provincial privileges and customs and to replace them by
administrative uniformity. Not less was his eagerness to free education
from clerical influence. He stirred up thereby the fierce opposition of
clericals and democrats alike, ending in armed revolt in Brabant and
elsewhere. A desultory struggle went on during the years 1787, '88 and
'89, ending in January, 1790, in a meeting of the States-General at
Brussels and the formation of a federal republic under the name of "the
United States of Belgium." All this was very perturbing to the Dutch
government, who were most anxious lest an Austrian attempt at reconquest
might lead to a European conflict close to their borders. The death of
Joseph on February 24, 1790, caused the danger to disappear. His
brother, Leopold II, at once offered to re-establish ancient privileges,
and succeeded by tact and moderation in restoring Austrian rule under
the old conditions. That this result was brought about without any
intervention of foreign powers was in no small measure due to a
conference at the Hague, in which Van de Spiegel conducted negotiations
with the representatives of Prussia, England and Austria for a
settlement of the Belgian question without disturbance of the peace.

The council-pensionary found the finances of the country in a state of
great confusion. One of his first cares was a re-assessment of the
provincial quotas, some of which were greatly in arrears and inadequate
in amount, thus throwing a disproportionate burden upon Holland. It was
a difficult task, but successfully carried out. The affairs of the East
and West India Companies next demanded his serious attention. Both of
them were practically bankrupt.

The East India Company had, during the 18th century, been gradually on
the decline. Its object was to extract wealth from Java and its other
eastern possessions; and, by holding the monopoly of trade and
compelling the natives to hand over to the Company's officials a
proportion of the produce of the land at a price fixed by the Company
far below its real value (_contingent-en leverantie-stelsel_), the
country was drained of its resources and the inhabitants impoverished
simply to increase the shareholder's dividends. This was bad enough, but
it was made worse by the type of men whom the directors, all of whom
belonged to the patrician regent-families, sent out to fill the posts of
governor-general and the subordinate governorships. For many decades
these officials had been chosen, not for their proved experience or for
their knowledge of the East or of the Indian trade, but because of
family connection; and the nominees went forth with the intention of
enriching themselves as quickly as possible. This led to all sorts of
abuses, and the profits of the Company from all these causes kept
diminishing. But, in order to keep up their credit, the Board of XVII
continued to pay large dividends out of capital, with the inevitable
result that the Company got into debt and had to apply for help to the
State. The English war completed its ruin. In June, 1783, the Estates of
Holland appointed a Commission to examine into the affairs of the
Company. Too many people in Holland had invested their money in it, and
the Indian trade was too important, for an actual collapse of the
Company to be permitted. Accordingly an advance of 8,000,000 florins was
made to the directors, with a guarantee for 38,000,000 of debt. But
things went from bad to worse. In 1790 the indebtedness of the Company
amounted to 85,000,000 florins. Van de Spiegel and others were convinced
that the only satisfactory solution would be for the State to dissolve
the Company and take over the Indian possessions in full sovereignty at
the cost of liquidating the debt, A commission was appointed in 1791 to
proceed to the East and make a report upon the condition of the
colonies. Before their mission was accomplished the French armies were
overrunning the Republic. It was not till 1798 that the existence of the
Company actually came to an end. To the West India Company the effect of
the English war was likewise disastrous. The Guiana colonies, whose
sugar plantations had been a source of great profit, had been conquered
first by the English, then by the French; and, though they were restored
after the war, the damage inflicted had brought the Company into heavy
difficulties. Its charter expired in 1791, and it was not renewed. The
colonies became colonies of the State, the shareholders being
compensated by exchanging their depreciated shares for Government bonds.

The Orange restoration, however, and the efforts of Van de Spiegel to
strengthen its bases by salutary reforms were doomed to be short-lived.
The council-pensionary, in spite of his desire to relinquish office at
the end of his quinquennial term, was reelected by the Estates of
Holland on December 6, 1792, and yielded to the pressure put upon him to
continue his task. A form of government, which had been imposed against
their will on the patriot party by the aid of foreign bayonets, was
certain to have many enemies; and such prospect of permanence as it had
lay in the goodwill and confidence inspired by the statesmanlike and
conciliatory policy of Van de Spiegel. But it was soon to be swept away
in the cataclysm of the French Revolution now at the height of its
devastating course.

In France extreme revolutionary ideas had made rapid headway, ending in
the dethronement and imprisonment of the king on August 10, 1792. The
invasion of France by the Prussian and Austrian armies only served to
inflame the French people, intoxicated by their new-found liberty, to a
frenzy of patriotism. Hastily raised armies succeeded in checking the
invasion at Valmy on September 20, 1792; and in their turn invading
Belgium under the leadership of Dumouriez, they completely defeated the
Austrians at Jemappes on November 6. The whole of Belgium was overrun
and by a decree of the French Convention was annexed. The fiery
enthusiasts, into whose hands the government of the French Republic had
fallen, were eager to carry by force of arms the principles of liberty,
fraternity and equality to all Europe, declaring that "all governments
are our enemies, all peoples are our friends." The southern
Netherlands having been conquered, it was evident that the northern
Republic would speedily invite attack. The Dutch government, anxious to
avoid giving any cause for hostilities, had carefully abstained from
offering any encouragement to the emigrants or support to the enemies of
the French Republic. Van de Spiegel had even expressed to De Maulde, the
French ambassador, a desire to establish friendly relations with the
Republican government. But the Jacobins looked upon the United Provinces
as the dependent of their enemies England and Prussia; and, when after
the execution of the king the English ambassador was recalled from
Paris, the National Convention immediately declared war against England
and at the same time against the stadholder of Holland "because of his
slavish bondage to the courts of St James and Berlin."

Dumouriez at the head of the French army prepared to enter the United
Provinces at two points. The main body under his own command was to
cross the Moerdijk to Dordrecht and then advance on Rotterdam, the
Hague, Leyden and Haarlem. He was accompanied by the so-called _Batavian
legion_, enlisted from the patriot exiles under Colonel Daendels, once
the fiery anti-Orange advocate of Hattem. General Miranda, who was
besieging Maestricht, was to march by Nijmwegen and Venloo to Utrecht.
The two forces would then unite and make themselves masters of
Amsterdam. The ambitious scheme miscarried. At first success attended
Dumouriez. Breda fell after a feeble resistance, also De Klundert and
Geertruidenberg. Meanwhile the advance of an Austrian army under Coburg
relieved Maestricht and inflicted a defeat upon the French at Aldenhoven
on March 1, 1793. Dumouriez, compelled to retreat, was himself beaten at
Neerwinden on March 18, and withdrew to Antwerp. For the moment danger
was averted. Revolutionary movements at Amsterdam and elsewhere failed
to realise the hopes of the patriots, and the Dutch government was able
to breathe again.

It indeed appeared that the French menace need no longer be feared.
Dumouriez changed sides and, failing to induce his troops to follow him,
took refuge in the enemy's camp. A powerful coalition had now been
formed by the energy of Pitt against revolutionary France; and, in
April, 1794, a strong English army under the Duke of York had joined
Coburg. They were supported by 22,000 Dutch troops commanded by the two
sons of the Prince of Orange.

New French armies, however, organised by the genius of Carnot, proved
more than a match for the allied forces acting without any unity of
place under slow-moving and incompetent leaders. Coburg and the
Austrians were heavily defeated at Fleurus by Jourdan on June 26. York
and Prince William thereupon retreated across the frontier, followed by
the French under Pichegru, while another French general, Moreau, took
Sluis and overran Dutch Flanders. This gave fresh encouragement to the
patriot party, who in Amsterdam formed a revolutionary committee, of
which the leaders were Gogel, Van Dam and Kraijenhoff. Nothing overt was
done, but by means of a large number of so-called reading-societies
(_leesgezelschappen_) secret preparations were made for a general
uprising so soon as circumstances permitted, and communications were
meanwhile kept up with the exiled patriots. But Pichegru, though he
captured Maestricht and other towns, was very cautious in his movements
and distrustful of the promises of the Amsterdam Convention that a
general revolt would follow upon his entry into Holland.

In this way the year 1794 drew to its end; and, as no further help from
England or Prussia could be obtained, the States-General thought it
might be possible to save the Republic from the fate of Belgium by
opening negotiations for peace with the enemy. Accordingly two envoys,
Brantsen and Repelaer, were sent on December 16 to the French
headquarters, whence they proceeded to Paris. Fearing lest their plans
for an uprising should be foiled, the Amsterdam committee also
despatched two representatives, Blauw and Van Dam, to Paris to
counteract the envoys of Van de Spiegel, and to urge upon the French
commanders an immediate offensive against Holland. The withdrawal of the
remains of the English army under the Duke of York, and the setting in
of a strong frost, lent force to their representations. The army of
Pichegru, accompanied by Daendels and his Batavian legion, were able to
cross the rivers; and Holland lay open before them. It was in vain that
the two young Orange princes did their utmost to organise resistance. In
January, 1795 one town after another surrendered; and on the 19th
Daendels without opposition entered Amsterdam.

The revolution was completely triumphant, for on this very day the
stadholder, despite the protests of his sons and the efforts of the
council-pensionary, had left the country. The English government had
offered to receive William V and his family; and arrangements had been
quietly made for the passage across the North Sea. The princess with her
daughter-in-law and grandson were the first to leave; and on January 17,
1795, William himself, on the ground that the French would never
negotiate so long as he was in the country, bade farewell to the
States-General and the foreign ambassadors. On the following day he
embarked with his sons and household on a number of fishing-pinks at
Scheveningen and put to sea. With his departure the stadholderate and
the Republic of the United Netherlands came to an end.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXVII

THE BATAVIAN REPUBLIC, 1795-1806


On January 19, 1795, Amsterdam fell into the hands of the advancing
French troops. Daendels had previously caused a proclamation to be
distributed which declared "that the representatives of the French
people wished the Dutch nation to make themselves free; that they do not
desire to oppress them as conquerors, but to ally themselves with them
as with a free people." A complete change of the city government took
place without any disturbance or shedding of blood. At the summons of
the Revolutionary Committee the members of the Town Council left the
Council Hall and were replaced by twenty-one citizens "as provisional
representatives of the people of Amsterdam." Of this body Rutger Jan
Schimmelpenninck, a former advocate of the Council, was appointed
president. The other towns, one after the other, followed in the steps
of the capital. The patrician corporations were abolished and replaced
by provisional municipal assemblies. Everywhere the downfall of the old
_régime_ was greeted with tumultuous joy by those large sections of the
Dutch population which had imbibed revolutionary principles; and the
French troops were welcomed by the "patriots" as brothers and
deliverers. "Trees of Liberty," painted in the national colours, were
erected in the principal squares; and the citizens, wearing "caps of
liberty" danced round them hand in hand with the foreign soldiers.
Feast-making, illuminations and passionate orations, telling that a new
era of "liberty, fraternity and equality" had dawned for the Batavian
people, were the order of the day. The Revolution was not confined to
the town-corporations. At the invitation of the Amsterdam Committee and
under the protection of the French representatives, deputations from
fourteen towns met at the Hague on January 26. Taking possession of the
Assembly Hall of the Estates of Holland and choosing as their president
Pieter Paulus, a man generally respected, this Provisional Assembly
proceeded to issue a series of decrees subverting all the ancient
institutions of the land. The representation by Estates and the
offices of stadholder and of council-pensionary were abolished. The old
colleges such as the Commissioned Councillors, the Admiralties, the
Chamber of Accounts, were changed into Committees for General Welfare,
for War, for Marine, for Finance, etc. The other provinces in turn
followed Holland's example; and the changes in the provincial
administrations were then quickly extended to the States-General. These
retained their name, but were now to be representative of the citizens
of the whole land. The Council of State was transformed into a Committee
for General Affairs; and a Colonial Council replaced the East and West
India Companies and the Society of Surinam. To the Committee for General
Affairs was entrusted the task of drawing up a plan for the summoning of
a National Convention on March 4.

So far all had gone smoothly with the course of the revolutionary
movement, so much so that its leaders seem almost to have forgotten that
the land was in the occupation of a foreign conqueror. The unqualified
recognition of Batavian independence, however, in the proclamation by
Daendels had caused dissatisfaction in Paris. The Committee of Public
Safety had no intention of throwing away the fruits of victory; and two
members of the Convention, Cochon and Ramel, were despatched to Holland
to report upon the condition of affairs. They arrived at the Hague on
February 7. Both reports recommended that a war-indemnity should be
levied on the Republic, but counselled moderation, for, though the
private wealth of the Dutch was potentially large, the State was
practically insolvent. These proposals were too mild to please the
Committee of Public Safety. The new States-General had sent (March 3)
two envoys, Van Blauw and Meyer, to Paris with instructions to propose a
treaty of alliance and of commerce with France, to ask for the
withdrawal of the French troops and that the land should not be flooded
with _assignats_. The independence of the Batavian Republic was taken
for granted. Very different were the conditions laid before them by
Merlin de Douat, Rewbell and Siéyès. A war contribution of 100,000,000
florins was demanded, to be paid in ready money within three months, a
loan of like amount at 3 per cent, and the surrender of all territory
south of the Waal together with Dutch Flanders, Walcheren and South
Beveland. Moreover there was to be no recognition of Batavian
independence until a satisfactory treaty on the above lines was drawn
up.

These hard conditions were on March 23 rejected by the States-General.
Wiser counsels however prevented this point-blank refusal being sent to
Paris, and it was hoped that a policy of delay might secure better
terms. The negotiations went on slowly through March and April; and, as
Blauw and Meyer had no powers as accredited plenipotentiaries, the
Committee determined to send Rewbell and Siéyès to the Hague, armed with
full authority to push matters through.

The envoys reached the Hague on May 8, and found the States-General in a
more yielding mood than might have been expected from their previous
attitude. Rewbell and Siéyès knew how to play upon the fears of the
Provisional Government by representing to them that, if the terms they
offered were rejected, their choice lay between French annexation or an
Orange restoration. Four members were appointed by the States-General
with full powers to negotiate. The conferences began on May 11; and in
five days an agreement was reached. The Batavian Republic, recognised as
a free and independent State, entered into an offensive and defensive
alliance with the French Republic. But the Dutch had to cede Maestricht,
Venloo and Dutch Flanders and to pay an indemnity of 100,000,000
florins. Flushing was to receive a French garrison, and its harbour was
to be used in common by the two powers; 25,000 French troops were to be
quartered in the Republic and were to be fed, clothed and paid. The
Dutch were compelled to permit the free circulation of the worthless
_assignats_ in their country.

One of the first results of this treaty was a breach with Great Britain.
The Dutch coast was blockaded; British fleets stopped all sea-borne
commerce; and the Dutch colonies in the East and West Indies were one
after the other captured. The action of the Prince of Orange made this
an easy task. William placed in the hands of the British commanders
letters addressed to the governors of the Dutch colonies ordering them
"to admit the troops sent out on behalf of his Britannic Majesty and to
offer no resistance to the British warships, but to regard them as
vessels of a friendly Power." The Cape of Good Hope surrendered to
Admiral Rodney; and in quick succession followed Malacca, Ceylon and the
Moluccas. A squadron of nine ships under Rear-Admiral Lucas, sent out to
recover the Cape and the other East Indian possessions, was compelled to
surrender to the English in Saldanha Bay on August 17, 1796, almost
without resistance, owing to the Orange sympathies of the crews. The
West Indian Colonies fared no better. Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice
capitulated in the spring of 1796; Surinam remained in Dutch hands until
1799; Java until 1801. The occupation by the English of this island, the
most important of all the Dutch overseas possessions, made the tale of
their colonial losses complete. The offensive and defensive alliance
with France had thus brought upon the Republic, as a trading and
colonial power, a ruin which the efforts of the provisional government
under French pressure to re-organise and strengthen their naval and
military forces had been unable to prevent. The erstwhile exiles,
Daendels and Dumonceau, who had attained the rank of generals in the
French service, were on their return entrusted with the task of raising
an army of 36,000 men, disciplined and equipped on the French system.
The navy was dealt with by a special Committee, of which Pieter Paulus
was the energetic president. Unfortunately for the Committee, a large
proportion of the officers and crews were strongly Orangist. Most of the
officers resigned, and it was necessary to purge the crews. Their places
had to be supplied by less experienced and trustworthy material; but
Vice-Admiral Jan de Winter did his utmost to create a fleet in fit
condition to join the French and Spanish fleets in convoying an
expeditionary force to make a descent upon the coast of Ireland. In
July, 1797, eighty ships were concentrated at the Texel with troops on
board, ready to join the Franco-Spanish squadrons, which were to sail
from Brest. But the junction was never effected. Week after week the
Dutch admiral was prevented from leaving the Texel by contrary winds.
The idea of an invasion of Ireland was given up, but so great was the
disappointment in Holland and such the pressure exerted on De Winter by
the Commission of Foreign Affairs, that he was obliged against his will
to put to sea on October 7, and attack the English fleet under the
command of Admiral Duncan, who was blockading the Dutch coast. The
number of vessels on the two sides was not unequal, but neither officers
nor crews under De Winter could compare in seamanship and experience
with their opponents. The fleets met off Camperdown and the Dutch fought
with their traditional bravery, but the defeat was complete. Out of
sixteen ships of the line nine were taken, including the flag-ship of De
Winter himself.

Meanwhile there had arisen strong differences of opinion in the Republic
as to the form of government which was to replace the old confederacy of
seven sovereign provinces. No one probably wished to continue a system
which had long proved itself obsolete and unworkable. But particularism
was still strong, especially in the smaller provinces. The country found
itself divided into two sharply opposed parties of Unitarians and
federalists. The Unitarians were the most active, and meetings were held
all over the country by the local Jacobin clubs. Finally it was
determined to hold a central meeting of delegates from all the clubs at
the Hague. The meeting took place on Jan. 26, 1796, and resolutions were
passed in favour of summoning a National Convention to draw up a new
constitution on Unitarian lines. Holland and Utrecht pressed the matter
forward in the States-General, and they had the support of Gelderland
and Overyssel, but Zeeland, Friesland and Groningen refused their
assent. Their action was very largely financial, as provinces whose
indebtedness was small dreaded lest unification should increase their
burden. But even in the recalcitrant provinces there were a large number
of moderate men; and through the intervention of the French ambassador,
Nöel, who gave strong support to the Unitarians, the proposal of Holland
for a National Assembly to meet on March 1 was carried (February 18) by
a unanimous vote. The following Provisional Regulation was then rapidly
drawn up by a special committee. The land was divided into districts
each containing 15,000 inhabitants; these again into fundamental
assemblies (_grondvergaderingen_) of 500 persons; each of these
assemblies chose an "elector" (_kiezer_); and then the group of thirty
electors chose a deputy to represent the district. The National Assembly
was in this way to consist of one hundred and twenty-six members; its
deliberations were to be public, the voting individualistic and the
majority to prevail. A Commission of twenty-one deputies was to be
appointed, who were to frame a draft-Constitution, which after approval
by the Assembly was to be submitted to the whole body of the people for
acceptance or rejection.

The Assembly, having duly met on March 1, 1796, in the Binnenhof at the
Hague, elected Pieter Paulus as their president, but had the misfortune
to lose his experienced direction very speedily. He had for some time
been in bad health, and on March 17 he died. It fell to his lot to
assist at the ceremonial closing of the last meeting of the
States-General, which had governed the Republic of the United
Netherlands for more than two centuries.

The National Assembly reflected the pronounced differences of opinion in
the land. Orangist opinion had no representatives, although possibly
more than half the population had Orange sympathies. All the deputies
had accepted in principle French revolutionary ideas, but there were
three distinct parties, the unitarians, the moderates and the
federalists. The moderates, who were in a majority, occupied, as their
name implied, an intermediate position between the unitarians or
revolutionary party, who wished for a centralised republic after the
French model, and the federalists or conservatives, who aimed at
retaining so far as possible the rights of the several provinces and
towns to manage their own affairs. The leaders of the unitarians were
Vreede, Midderigh, Valckenier and Gogel; of the moderates
Schimmelpenninck, Hahn and Kantelaur; of the federalists, Vitringa, Van
Marle and De Mist. After the death of Pieter Paulus the most influential
man in an Assembly composed of politicians mostly without any
parliamentary experience was the eloquent and astute Schimmelpenninck,
whose opportunist moderation sprang from a natural dislike of extreme
courses.

One of the first cares of the Assembly was the appointment of the
Commission of twenty-one members to draw up a draft Constitution. The
(so-styled) Regulation, representing the views of the moderate majority,
was presented to the Assembly on November 10. The Republic was
henceforth to be a unified state governed by the Sovereign People; but
the old provinces, though now named departments, were to retain large
administrative rights and their separate financial quotas. The draft met
fierce opposition from the unitarians, but after much discussion and
many amendments it was at length accepted by the majority. It had,
however, before becoming law, to be submitted to the people; and the
network of Jacobin clubs throughout the country, under the leadership of
the central club at Amsterdam, carried on a widespread and secret
revolutionary propaganda against the Regulation. They tried to enlist
the open co-operation of the French ambassador, Noël, but he, acting
under the instruction of the cautious Talleyrand, was not disposed to
commit himself.

The unitarian campaign was so successful that the Regulation, on being
submitted to the Fundamental Assemblies, was rejected by 136,716 votes
to 27,955. In these circumstances, as had been previously arranged by
the Provisional Government, it was necessary to summon another National
Assembly to draw up another draft Constitution. It met on September 1,
1797. The moderates, though they lost some seats, were still in a
majority; and the new Commission of Twenty-One had, as before,
federalistic leanings. The Unitarians, therefore, without awaiting their
proposals, under the leadership of the stalwart revolutionary, Vreede,
determined to take strong action. The _coup d'état_ they planned was
helped forward by two events. The first was the revolution in Paris of
September 4, 1797, which led to the replacing of ambassador Noël by the
pronounced Jacobin, Charles Delacroix. The other event was the disaster
which befell the Dutch fleet at Camperdown, the blame for which was laid
upon the Provisional Government.

Vreede and his confederates being assured by Delacroix of the supportof
the new French Directory, and of the co-operation of the French General
Joubert and of Daendels, the commander of the Batavian army, chose for
the execution of their plan the week in which Midderigh, one of the
confederates, took his turn as president of the Assembly. Midderigh, by
virtue of his office, being in command of the Hague civic force, on
January 22, 1798, seized and imprisoned the members of the Committee for
Foreign Affairs and twenty-two members of the Assembly. The "Rump" then
met, protected by a strong body of troops, and declared itself a
Constituent Assembly representing the Batavian people. After the French
model, an Executive Council was nominated, consisting of five members,
Vreede, Fijnje, Fokker, Wildrik and Van Langen, and a new Commission of
Seven to frame a Constitution. The "Regulation" was rejected; and the
Assembly solemnly proclaimed its "unalterable aversion" to the
stadholderate, federalism, aristocracy and governmental
decentralisation.

French influence was henceforth paramount; and the draft of the new
Constitution, in the framing of which Delacroix took a leading part, was
ready on March 6. Eleven days later it was approved by the Assembly. The
Fundamental Assemblies in their turn assented to it by 165,520 votes to
11,597, considerable official pressure being exerted to secure this
result; and the Constitution came thus into legal existence. Its
principal provisions were directed to the complete obliteration of the
old provincial particularism. The land was divided into eight
departments, whose boundaries in no case coincided with those of the
provinces. Holland was split up among five departments; that of the
Amstel, with Amsterdam as its capital, being the only one that did not
contain portions of two or more provinces. Each department was divided
into seven circles; each of these returned one member; and the body of
seven formed the departmental government. The circles in their turn were
divided into communes, each department containing sixty or seventy. All
these local administrations were, however, quite subordinate to the
authority exercised by the central Representative Body. For the purpose
of electing this body the land was divided into ninety-four districts;
each district into forty "Fundamental Assemblies," each of 500 persons.
The forty "electors" chosen by these units in their turn elected the
deputy for the department. The ninety-four deputies formed the
Representative Body, which was divided into two Chambers. The Second
Chamber of thirty members was annually chosen by lot from the
ninety-four, the other sixty-four forming the First Chamber. The framing
and proposing of all laws was the prerogative of the First Chamber. The
Second Chamber accepted or rejected these proposed laws, but for a
second rejection a two-thirds majority was required. The Executive Power
was vested in a Directorate of five persons, one of whom was to retire
every year. To supply his place the Second Chamber chose one out of
three persons selected by the First Chamber. The Directorate had the
assistance of eight agents or ministers: Foreign Affairs, War, Marine,
Finance, Justice, Police, Education, and Economy. Finance was
nationalised, all charges and debts being borne in common. Church and
State were separated, payments to the Reformed ministers from the State
ceasing in three years.

Such was the project, but it was not to be carried into effect without
another _coup d'état_. It was now the duty of the Constituent Assembly
to proceed to the election of a Representative Body. Instead of this, on
May 4, 1798, the Assembly declared itself to be Representative, so that
power remained in the hands of the Executive Council, who were afraid of
an election returning a majority of "moderates." But this autocratic act
aroused considerable discontent amongst all except the extreme Jacobin
faction. The opponents of the Executive Council found a leader in
Daendels, who, strong "unionist" though he was, was dissatisfied with
the arbitrary conduct of this self-constituted government, and more
especially in matters connected with the army. Daendels betook himself
to Paris, where he was favourably received by the Foreign Secretary,
Talleyrand, and with his help was able to persuade the French Directory
that it was not in their interest to support the Jacobin Council in
their illegal retention of office. Daendels accordingly returned to
Holland, where he found the French commander, Joubert, friendly to his
project, and three of the "agents," including Pijman, the Minister of
War, ready to help him. Placed in command of the troops at the Hague,
Daendels (June 12, 1798) arrested the directors and the presidents of
the two Chambers. The Constituent Assembly was dissolved and a new
Representative Body was (July 31) elected. The moderates, as was
expected, were in a considerable majority; and five members of that
party, Van Hasselt, Hoeth, Van Haersolte, Van Hoeft and Ermerius were
appointed Directors.

The country was now at length in the enjoyment of a settled constitution
based upon liberal principles and popular representation. Daendels,
though his influence was great, never attempted to play the part of a
military dictator; and, though party passions were strong, no political
persecutions followed. Nevertheless troubled times awaited the Batavian
Republic, and the Constitution of 1798 was not to have a long life.

The Emperor Paul of Russia had taken up arms with Great Britain and
Austria against revolutionary France, and the hopes of the Orange party
began to rise. The hereditary prince was very active and, though he was
unable to move his brother-in-law, the King of Prussia, to take active
steps in his favour, he succeeded in securing the intervention of an
Anglo-Russian force on his behalf. In August, 1798, a strong English
fleet under Admiral Duncan appeared off Texel and in the name of the
Prince of Orange demanded the surrender of the Batavian fleet which lay
there under Rear-Admiral Story. Story refused. A storm prevented the
English from taking immediate action; but on the 26th a landing of
troops was effected near Callantroog and the Batavian forces abandoned
the Helder. Story had withdrawn his fleet to Vlieter, but Orangist
sympathies were strong among his officers and crews, and he was
compelled to surrender. The ships, hoisting the Orange flag, became
henceforth a squadron attached to the English fleet. Such was the
humiliating end of the Batavian navy. The efforts of the hereditary
prince to stir up an insurrection in Overyssel and Gelderland failed;
and he thereupon joined the Anglo-Russian army, which, about 50,000
strong, was advancing under the command of the Duke of York to invade
Holland. But York was an incompetent commander; there was little harmony
between the British and Russian contingents; and the French and
Batavians under Generals Brune and Daendels inflicted defeats upon them
at Bergen (September 19), and at Castricum (October 6). York thereupon
entered upon negotiations with Brune and was allowed to re-embark his
troops for England, after restoration of the captured guns and
prisoners. The expedition was a miserable fiasco.

At the very time when the evacuation of North Holland by invading armies
was taking place, the Directory in Paris had been overthrown by
Bonaparte (18 Brumaire, or Nov. 20), who now, with the title of First
Consul, ruled France with dictatorial powers. The conduct of the
Batavian government during these transactions had not been above
suspicion; and Bonaparte at once replaced Brune by Augereau, and sent
Sémonville as ambassador in place of Deforgues. He was determined to
compel the Batavian Republic to comply strictly with the terms imposed
by the treaty of 1795, and demanded more troops and more money. In vain
the Executive Council, by the mouth of its ambassador, Schimmelpenninck,
protested its inability to satisfy those demands. Augereau was
inexorable, and there was no alternative but to obey. But the very
feebleness of the central government made Bonaparte resolve on a
revision of the constitution in an anti-democratic direction. Augereau
acted as an intermediary between him and the Executive Council. Three of
the directors favoured his views, the other two opposed them. The
Representative Body, however, rejected all proposals for a revision. On
this the three called in the aid of Augereau, who suspended the
Representative Body and closed the doors of its hall of meeting. The
question was now referred to the Fundamental Assemblies. On October 1,
1801, the voting resulted in 52,279 noes against 16,771 yeas. About
350,000 voters abstained, but these were declared to be "yeas"; and the
new constitution became on October 16 the law of the land.

The Constitution of 1801 placed the executive power in the hands of a
State-Government of twelve persons. The three directors chose seven
others, who in their turn chose five more, amongst these the above-named
three, to whom they owed their existence. With this State-Government was
associated a Legislative Body of 35 members, who met twice in the year
and whose only function was to accept without amendment, or to reject,
the proposals of the Executive Body. The "agents" were abolished and
replaced by small councils, who administered the various departments of
State. Considerable administrative powers were given to the local
governments, and the boundaries of the eight departments, Holland,
Zeeland, Utrecht, Overyssel (in which Drente was included), Gelderland,
Groningen, Friesland, and Brabant, were made to coincide largely with
those of the old provinces. The aim of the new Constitution was
efficiency, the reconciliation of the moderate elements both of the
federalist and unitarian parties, and the restraint alike of
revolutionary and Orangist intrigues.

It began its course in fortunate circumstances. The long-wished-for
peace was concluded at Amiens on March 27, 1802. It was signed by
Schimmelpenninck, as the representative of the Batavian Republic, but he
had not been allowed to have any influence upon the decisions. Great
Britain restored all the captured colonies, except Ceylon; and the house
of Orange was indemnified by the grant of the secularised Bishopric of
Fulda, the abbeys of Korvey and Weingarten, together with the towns of
Dortmund, Isny and Buchhorn. The hereditary prince, as his father
refused to reside in this new domain, undertook the duties of
government. William V preferred to live on his Nassau Estates. He died
at Brunswick in 1806.

The peace was joyfully welcomed in Holland, for it removed the British
blockade and gave a promise of the revival of trade. But all the hopes
of better times were blighted with the fresh outbreak of war in 1803.
All the colonial possessions were again lost; and a new treaty of
alliance, which the State-Government was compelled to conclude
with France, led to heavy demands. The Republic was required to
provide for the quartering and support of 18,000 French troops and
16,000 Batavians under a French general. Further, a fleet of ten ships
of war was to be maintained, and 350 flat-bottomed transports built for
the conveyance of an invading army to England. These demands were
perforce complied with. Nevertheless Napoleon was far from satisfied
with the State-Government, which he regarded as inefficient and
secretly hostile.

In Holland itself it was hated, because of the heavy charges it was
obliged to impose. Bonaparte accordingly determined to replace it and to
concentrate the executive power in a single person. The Legislative Body
was to remain, but the head of the State was to bear the title of
council-pensionary, and was to be elected for a period of five years.
Schimmelpenninck was designated for this post. Referred to a popular
vote, the new Constitution was approved by 14,230 against 136; about
340,000 abstained from voting. On April 29, 1805, Schimmelpenninck
entered into office as council-pensionary. He was invested with
monarchical authority. The executive power, finance, the army and navy,
the naming of ambassadors, the proposing of legislation, were placed in
his hands. He was assisted by a Council of State, nominated by himself,
of five members, and by six Secretaries of State. The Legislative Body
was reduced to nineteen members, appointed by the Departmental
Governments. They met twice in the year and could accept or reject the
proposals of the council-pensionary, but not amend them.

Schimmelpenninck was honest and able, and during the brief period of his
administration did admirable work. With the aid of the accomplished
financier Gogel, who had already done much good service to his country
in difficult circumstances, he, by spreading the burdens of taxation
equally over all parts of the land and by removing restrictive customs
and duties, succeeded in reducing largely the deficits in the annual
balance-sheet. He also was the first to undertake seriously the
improvement of primary education. But it was not Napoleon's intention to
allow the council-pensionary to go on with the good work he had begun.
The weakening of Schimmelpenninck's eyesight, through cataract, gave the
emperor the excuse for putting an end to what he regarded as a
provisional system of government, and for converting Holland into a
dependent kingdom under the rule of his brother Louis. Admiral Verhuell,
sent to Paris at Napoleon's request on a special mission, was bluntly
informed that Holland must choose between the acceptance of Louis as
their king, or annexation. On Verhuell's return with the report of the
emperor's ultimatum, the council-pensionary (April 10, 1806) summoned
the Council of State, the Secretaries and the Legislative Body to meet
together as an Extraordinary Committee and deliberate on what were best
to be done. It was resolved to send a deputation to Paris to try to
obtain from Napoleon the relinquishment, or at least a modification, of
his demand. Their efforts were in vain; Napoleon's attitude was
peremptory. The Hague Committee must within a week petition that Louis
Bonaparte might be their king, or he would take the matter into his own
hands. The Committee, despite the opposition of Schimmelpenninck,
finding resistance hopeless, determined to yield. The deputation at
Paris was instructed accordingly to co-operate with the emperor in the
framing of a new monarchical constitution. It was drawn up and signed on
May 23; and a few days later it was accepted by the Hague Committee.
Schimmelpenninck, however, refused to sign it and resigned his office on
June 4, explaining in a dignified letter his reasons for doing so.
Verhuell, at the head of a deputation (June 5), now went through the
farce of begging the emperor in the name of the Dutch people to allow
his brother, Louis, to be their king. Louis accepted the proffered
sovereignty "since the people desires and Your Majesty commands it." On
June 15 the new king left Paris and a week later arrived at the Hague,
accompanied by his wife, Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's
step-daughter.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE KINGDOM OF HOLLAND AND THE FRENCH ANNEXATION, 1806-1814


Louis Bonaparte was but 28 years old, and of a kindly, gentle character
very unlike his self-willed, domineering brother. He was weakly, and his
ill-health made him at times restless and moody. He had given great
satisfaction by his declaration that "as soon as he set foot on the soil
of his kingdom he became a Hollander," and he was well received. The
constitution of the new kingdom differed little from that it superseded.
The Secretaries of State became Ministers, and the number of members of
the Legislative Body was raised to thirty-nine. The king had power to
conclude treaties with foreign States without consulting the Legislative
Body. The partition of the country was somewhat changed, Holland being
divided into two departments, Amstelland and Maasland. Drente became a
separate department; and in 1807 East Friesland with Jever was made into
an eleventh department, as compensation for Flushing, which was annexed
to France.

Louis came to the Hague with the best intentions of doing his utmost to
promote the welfare of his kingdom, but from the first he was thwarted
by the deplorable condition of the national finances. Out of a total
income of fifty million florins the interest on the national debt
absorbed thirty-five millions. The balance was not nearly sufficient to
defray the costs of administration, much less to meet the heavy demands
of Napoleon for contributions to war expenditure. All the efforts of the
finance minister Gogel to reduce the charges and increase the income
were of small avail. The king was naturally lavish, and he spent
considerable sums in the maintenance of a brilliant court, and in adding
to the number of royal residences. Dissatisfied with the Hague, he moved
first to Utrecht, then to Amsterdam, where the Stadhuis was converted
into a palace; and he bought the Pavilion at Haarlem as a summer abode.
All this meant great expenditure. 'Louis was vain, and was only
prevented from creating marshals of his army and orders of chivalry by
Napoleon's stern refusal to permit it. He had to be reminded that by the
Bonaparte family-law he was but a vassal king, owning allegiance to the
emperor.

Despite these weaknesses Louis did much for the land of his adoption.
The old Rhine at Leyden, which lost itself in the dunes, was connected
by a canal with Katwijk on the sea, where a harbour was created. The
dykes and waterways were repaired and improved, and high-roads
constructed from the Hague to Leyden, and from Utrecht to Het Loo. Dutch
literature found in Louis a generous patron. He took pains to learn the
language from the instruction of Bilderdijk, the foremost writer of his
day. The foundation in 1808 of the "Royal Netherland Institute for
Science, Letters and the Fine Arts" was a signal mark of his desire to
raise the standard of culture in Holland on a national basis. The
introduction of the _Code Napoléon,_ with some necessary modifications,
replaced a confused medley of local laws and customs, varying from
province to province, by a general unified legal system. As a statesman
and administrator Louis had no marked ability, but the ministers to whom
he entrusted the conduct of affairs, Verhuell, minister of marine,
Roëll, of foreign affairs, Kragenhoff, of war, Van Maanen, of justice,
and more especially the experienced Gogel, in control of the embarrassed
finances, were capable men.

The state of the finances indeed was the despair of the Dutch
government. The imperious demands of Napoleon for the maintenance of an
army of 40,000 men, to be employed by him on foreign campaigns, and also
of a considerable navy, made all attempts at economy and re-organisation
of the finances almost hopeless. By the war with England the Dutch had
lost their colonies and most of their great sea-borne trade; and the
situation was rendered more difficult by the Decree of Berlin in 1806
and the establishment of the "Continental System" by the emperor, as a
reply to the British blockade. All trade and even correspondence with
England were forbidden. He hoped thus to bring England to her knees;
but, though the decree did not achieve this object, it did succeed in
bringing utter ruin upon the Dutch commercial classes. In vain Louis
protested; he was not heard and only met with angry rebukes from his
brother for not taking more vigorous steps to stop smuggling, which the
character of the Dutch coast rendered a comparatively easy and, at the
same time, lucrative pursuit.

The overthrow of Austria and Prussia by Napoleon in 1805 and 1806,
followed in 1807 by the Peace of Tilsit with Russia, made the emperor
once more turn his attention to the project of an invasion of his hated
enemy, England. A great French fleet was to be concentrated on the
Scheldt, with Antwerp and Flushing for its bases. For this purpose large
sums of money were expended in converting Antwerp into a formidable
naval arsenal. But the British government were well aware of "the pistol
that was being aimed at England's breast"; and in 1809 a powerful
expedition under the command of Lord Chatham was despatched, consisting
of more than 100 warships and transports, with the object of destroying
these growing dockyards and arsenals, and with them the threat of
invasion. The attack was planned at a favourable moment, for the
defensive force was very small, the bulk of the Dutch army having been
sent to fight in the Austrian and Spanish campaigns, and the French
garrisons greatly reduced. Chatham landed on the island of Walcheren,
captured Middelburg and Veere and on August 15 compelled Flushing to
surrender after such a furious bombardment that scarcely any houses
remained standing. The islands of Schouwen, Duiveland and Zuid-Beveland
were overrun; and, had the British general pushed on without delay,
Antwerp might have fallen. But this he failed to do; and meanwhile Louis
had collected, for the defence of the town, a force of 20,000 men,
which, to his deep chagrin, Napoleon did not allow him to command. No
attack however was made on Antwerp by the British, who had suffered
severely from the fevers of Walcheren; and on the news of Wagram and the
Treaty of Schönbrunn they slowly evacuated their conquests. Before the
end of the year the whole force had returned to England.

This invasion, though successfully repelled, only accentuated the
dissensions between the two brothers. French troops remained in
occupation of Zeeland; and the French army of the north at Antwerp, now
placed under the command of Marshal Oudinot, lay ready to enforce the
demands of the emperor should the Dutch government prove recalcitrant.
Those demands included the absolute suppression of smuggling, the
strictest enforcement of the decrees against trading with England,
conscription, and a repudiation of a portion of the State debt. Napoleon
overwhelmed his brother with bitter gibes and angry threats, declaring
that he wished to make Holland an English colony, and that the whole
land, even his own palace, was full of smuggled goods. At last, though
unwillingly, Louis consented to go in person to Paris and try to bring
about an amicable settlement of the questions at issue. He arrived on
December 26, intending to return at the New Year, meanwhile leaving the
Council of Ministers in charge of the affairs of the kingdom. He soon
found not only that his mission was in vain, but that he was regarded
virtually as a prisoner. For three months he remained in Paris under
police _surveillance_; and his interviews with his brother were of the
most stormy description. The Dutch Council, alarmed by the constant
threat of French invasion, at first thought of putting Amsterdam into a
state of defence, but finally abandoned the idea as hopeless. The king
did his utmost to appease Napoleon by the offer of concessions, but his
efforts were scornfully rejected, and at last he was compelled (March
16, 1810) to sign a treaty embodying the terms dictated by the emperor.
"I must," he said, "at any price get out of this den of murderers." By
this treaty Brabant and Zeeland and the land between the Maas and the
Waal, with Nijmwegen, were ceded to France. All commerce with England
was forbidden. French custom-house officers were placed at the mouths of
the rivers and at every port. Further, the Dutch were required to
deliver up fifteen men-of-war and one hundred gunboats.

Louis was compelled to remain at Paris for the marriage of Napoleon with
Marie Louise, but was then allowed to depart. Discouraged and
humiliated, he found himself, with the title of king, practically
reduced to the position of administrative governor of some French
departments. Oudinot's troops were in occupation of the Hague, Utrecht
and Leyden; and, when the emperor and his bride paid a state visit to
Antwerp, Louis had to do him homage. The relations between the two
brothers had for some time been strained, Napoleon having taken the part
of his step-daughter Hortense, who preferred the gaiety of Paris to the
dull court of her husband, reproached the injured man for not treating
better the best of wives. Matters were now to reach their climax. The
coachman of the French ambassador, Rochefoucault, having met with
maltreatment in the streets of Amsterdam, the emperor angrily ordered
Rochefoucault to quit the Dutch capital (May 29), leaving only a chargé
d'affaires, and at the same time dismissed Verhuell, the Dutch envoy,
from Paris. This was practically a declaration of war. The Council of
Ministers, on being consulted, determined that it was useless to attempt
the defence of Amsterdam; and, when the king learned towards the end of
June that Oudinot had orders to occupy the city, he resolved to
forestall this final humiliation by abdication. On July 1, 1810, he
signed the deed by which he laid down his crown in favour of his elder
son, Napoleon Louis, under the guardianship of Queen Hortense. He then
left the country, and retired into Bohemia.

To this disposition of the kingdom Napoleon, who had already made up his
mind, paid not the slightest heed. On July 9 an Imperial Decree
incorporated Holland in the French empire. "Holland," said the emperor,
"being formed by the deposits of three French rivers, the Rhine, the
Meuse and the Scheldt, was by nature a part of France." Not till January
1, 1811, was the complete incorporation to take place; meanwhile Le
Brun, Duke of Piacenza, a man of 72 years of age, was sent to Amsterdam
to be governor-general during the period of transition. It was a wise
appointment, as Le Brun was a man of kindly disposition, ready to listen
to grievances and with an earnest desire to carry out the transformation
of the government in a conciliatory spirit. With him was associated, as
Intendant of Home Affairs, Baron D'Alphonse, like himself of moderate
views, and a Council of Ministers. A deputation of twenty-two persons
from the Legislative Assembly was summoned to Paris for consultation
with the Imperial Government. To Amsterdam was given the position of the
third city in the empire, Paris being the first and Rome the second. The
country was divided into nine departments--Bouches de l'Escaut, Bouches
de la Meuse, Bouches du Rhin, Zuiderzee, Issel supérieur, Bouches de
Issel, Frise, Ems Occidental and Ems Oriental. Over the departments, as
in France, were placed _préfets_ and under them _sous-préfets_ and
_maires_. All the _préfets_ now appointed were native Dutchmen with the
exception of two, De Celles at Amsterdam and De Standaart at the Hague;
both were Belgians and both rendered themselves unpopular by their
efforts to gain Napoleon's favour by a stringent enforcement of his
orders. The Dutch representation in the Legislative Assembly at Paris
was fixed at twenty-five members; in the Senate at six members. When
these took their seats, the Council of Affairs at Amsterdam was
dissolved and at the same time the _Code Napoléon_ unmodified became
the law of the land.

Napoleon's demands upon Holland had always been met with the reply that
the land's finances were unequal to the strain. The debt amounted to
40,000,000 fl.; and, despite heavy taxation, there was a large annual
deficit in the budget. The emperor at once took action to remedy this
state of things by a decree reducing the interest on the debt to
one-third. This was a heavy blow to those persons whose limited incomes
were mainly or entirely derived from investments in the State
Funds--including many widows, and also hospitals, orphanages and other
charitable institutions. At the same time this step should not be
regarded as a mere arbitrary and dishonest repudiation of debt. The
State was practically bankrupt. For some years only a portion of the
interest or nothing at all had been paid; and the reduction in 1810 was
intended to be but a temporary measure. The capital amount was left
untouched, and the arrears of 1808 and 1809 were paid up at the new
rate. That financial opinion was favourably impressed by this drastic
action was shown by a considerable rise in the quotation of the Stock on
the Bourse.

A far more unpopular measure was the introduction of military and naval
conscription in 1811. There never had been any but voluntary service in
Holland. Indeed during the whole period of the Republic, though the
fleet was wholly manned by Dutch seamen, the army always included a
large proportion of foreign mercenaries. By the law of 1811 all youths
of twenty were liable to serve for five years either on land or sea; and
the contingent required was filled by the drawing of lots. Deep and
strong resentment was felt throughout the country, the more so that the
law was made retrospective to all who had reached the age of twenty in
the three preceding years. The battalions thus raised were treated as
French troops, and were sent to take part in distant campaigns--in Spain
and in Russia. Of the 15,000 men who marched with Napoleon into Russia
in 1812 only a few hundreds returned.

The strict enforcement of the Continental System entailed great
hardships upon the population. To such an extent was the embargo carried
that all English manufactured goods found in Holland were condemned to
be burnt; and the value of what was actually consumed amounted to
millions of florins. A whole army of custom-house officers watched
the coast, and every fishing smack that put to sea had one on board. At
the same time not till 1812 was the customs barrier with France removed.
In consequence of this prices rose enormously, industries were ruined,
houses were given up and remained unoccupied, and thousands upon
thousands were reduced to abject poverty. Such was the state of the
treasury that in 1812 the reformed preachers received no stipends, and
officials of all kinds had to be content with reduced salaries.

Nor were these the only causes of discontent. The police regulations and
the censorship of the press were of the severest description, and the
land swarmed with spies. No newspaper was permitted to publish any
article upon matters of State or any political news except such as was
sanctioned by the government, and with a French translation of the Dutch
original. This applied even to advertisements. All books had to be
submitted for the censor's _imprimatur_. Every household was subject to
the regular visitation of the police, who made the most minute
inquisition into the character, the opinions, the occupations and means
of subsistence of every member of the household.

Nevertheless the French domination, however oppressive, had good results
in that for the first time in their history the Dutch provinces acquired
a real unity. All the old particularism disappeared with the
burgher-aristocracies, and the party feuds of Orangists and patriots. A
true sense of nationality was developed. All classes of the population
enjoyed the same political rights and equality before the law. Napoleon
himself was not unpopular. In the autumn of 1811 he, accompanied by
Marie Louise, made a state-progress through this latest addition to his
empire. Almost every important place was visited, and in all parts of
the country he was received with outward demonstrations of enthusiasm
and almost servile obsequiency. It is perhaps not surprising, as the
great emperor was now at the very topmost height of his dazzling
fortunes.

But for Holland Napoleon's triumphs had their dark side, for his chief
and most determined enemy, England, was mistress of the seas; and the
last and the richest of the Dutch colonies, Java, surrendered to the
English almost on the very day that the Imperial progress began. Hearing
of the activity of the British squadron in the Eastern seas, King Louis
had, shortly after his acceptance of the crown, taken steps for the
defence of Java by appointing Daendels, a man of proved vigour and
initiative, governor-general. The difficulties of reaching Java in face
of British vigilance were however well-nigh insurmountable, and it was
not until a year after his nomination to the governorship that Daendels
reached Batavia, on January 1, 1808. His measures for the defence of the
island, including the construction of important highways, were most
energetic, but so oppressive and high-handed as to arouse hostility and
alienate the native chiefs. Napoleon, informed of Daendels' harsh rule,
sent out Janssens with a body of troops to replace him. The new
governor-general landed on April 27, 1811, but he could make no
effective resistance to a powerful British expedition under General
Auchmuty, which took possession of Batavia on August 4, and after some
severe fighting compelled (September 17) the whole of the Dutch forces
to capitulate.

The year of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, 1812, was a year of passive
endurance. The safety of the remnant of the Grand Army was secured
(November 28) by the courage and staunchness of the Dutch
pontoon-engineers, who, standing in the ice-cold water of the Beresina,
completed the bridge over which, after a desperate battle, the French
troops effected their escape. The Moscow catastrophe was followed in
1813 by a general uprising of the oppressed peoples of Europe against
the Napoleonic tyranny. In this uprising the Dutch people, although
hopes of freedom were beginning to dawn upon them, did not for some time
venture to take any part. The Prince of Orange however had been in
London since April, trying to secure a promise of assistance from the
British government in case of a rising; and he was working in
collaboration with a number of patriotic men in Holland, who saw in an
Orange restoration the best hopes for their country's independence. The
news of Leipzig (October 14-16) roused them to action.

Foremost among these leaders was Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp. He had
been one of the Orangist leaders at the time of the restoration of 1787
and had filled the post of pensionary of Rotterdam. After the French
conquest he had withdrawn from public life. With him were associated
Count Van Limburg-Stirum and Baron Van der Duyn van Maasdam, like
himself residents at the Hague. Van Hogendorp could also count on a
number of active helpers outside the Hague, prominent among whom were
Falck, Captain of the National Guard at Amsterdam, and Kemper, a
professor at Leyden. Plans were made for restoring the independence of
the country under the rule of the Prince of Orange; but, in order to
escape the vigilance of the French police, great care was taken to
maintain secrecy, and nothing was committed to writing. The rapid march
of allied troops, Russians and Prussians, towards the Dutch frontiers
after Leipzig necessitated rapid action.

Van Hogendorp and his friends wished that Holland should free herself by
her own exertions, for they were aware that reconquest by the allied
forces might imperil their claims to independence. Their opportunity
came when General Melliton, by order of the governor-general Le Brun,
withdrew on November 14 from Amsterdam to Utrecht. One of the Orangist
confederates, a sea-captain, named Job May, on the following day stirred
up a popular rising in the city; and some custom-houses were burnt. Le
Brun himself on this retreated to Utrecht and, on the 16th, after
transferring the government of the country to Melliton, returned to
France. Falck at the head of the National Guard had meanwhile
re-established order at Amsterdam, and placed the town in charge of a
provisional government. No sooner did this news reach the Hague than Van
Hogendorp and Van Limburg-Stirum determined upon instant action
(November 17). With a proclamation drawn up by Van Hogendorp, and at the
head of a body of the National Guard wearing Orange colours, Van
Limburg-Stirum marched through the streets to the Town Hall, where he
read the proclamation declaring the Prince of Orange "eminent head of
the State." No opposition being offered, after discussion with their
chief supporters, the triumvirate, Van Hogendorp, Van Limburg-Stirum and
Van der Duyn van Maasdam, took upon themselves provisionally the
government of the country, until the arrival of the Prince. Emissaries
were at once sent to Amsterdam to announce what had taken place at the
Hague. At first the Amsterdammers showed some hesitation; and it was not
until the arrival of a body of Cossacks at their gates (November 24),
that the city openly threw in its lot with the Orangist movement, which
now rapidly spread throughout the country. Without delay the provisional
government despatched two envoys, Fagel and De Perponcher, to London, to
inform the Prince of Orange of what had occurred and to invite him to
Holland.

William had been in England since April and had met with a
favourable reception. In an interview with the British Foreign
Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, support had been promised him
(April 27, 1813) on the following conditions: (1) the frontiers of
Holland should be extended "either by a sort of new Barrier, more
effective than the old one, or by the union of some portions of
territory adjacent to the ancient Republic; (2) Holland must wait
until such time as Great Britain should deem convenient in her
own interests for the restoration of the Dutch colonies, which she
had conquered during the war; (3) a system of government must
be set up which would reconcile the wishes of Holland with those
of the Powers called to exercise so powerful an influence upon her
future." William had gone to London knowing that he could rely
on the active assistance of his brother-in-law, Frederick William
of Prussia, and of the Emperor Alexander I, and that the goodwill
of England was assured by the projected marriage of his son (now
serving under Wellington in Spain) with the Princess Charlotte,
heiress-presumptive to the British throne. He now therefore
without hesitation accepted the invitation, and landed at
Scheveningen, November 30. He was received with unspeakable
enthusiasm. At first there was some doubt as to what title William
should bear and as to what should be the form of the new government.
Van Hogendorp had drawn up a draft of a constitution on
the old lines with an hereditary stadholder, a council-pensionary
and a privileged aristocracy, but with large and necessary amendments,
and the prince was himself inclined to a restoration of the
stadholdership with enlarged powers. To the arguments of Kemper
is the credit due of having persuaded him that a return to the old
system, however amended, had now become impossible. The prince
visited Amsterdam, December 2, and was there proclaimed by the
title and quality of William I, Sovereign-Prince of the Netherlands.
He refused the title of king, but the position he thus accepted with
general approval was that of a constitutional monarch, and the
promise was given that as soon as possible a Commission should
be appointed to draw up a Fundamental Law _(Grondwet)_ for the
Dutch State.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXIX

THE FORMATION OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS, 1814-1815


When the Prince of Orange assumed the title of William I,
Sovereign-Prince of the Netherlands, at Amsterdam, on December 2, 1813,
the principal towns were still occupied by French garrisons; but with
the help of the allied forces, Russians and Prussians, these were, in
the opening months of 1814, one by one conquered. The Helder garrison,
under the command of Admiral Verhuell, did not surrender till May. By
the end of that month the whole land was freed.

The first step taken by the Sovereign-Prince (December 21) was to
appoint a Commission to draw up a Fundamental Law according to his
promise. The Commission consisted of fifteen members, with Van Hogendorp
as president. Their labours were concluded early in March. The concept
was on March 29 submitted to an Assembly of six hundred notables,
summoned for the purpose, the voting to be 'for' or 'against' without
discussion. The gathering took place in the Nieuwe Kerk at Amsterdam, Of
the 474 who were present, 448 voted in favour of the new Constitution.
On the following day the Prince of Orange took the oath in the Nieuwe
Kerk and was solemnly inaugurated as Sovereign-Prince of the
Netherlands.

The principal provisions of the Fundamental Law of March, 1814, were as
follows:

The Sovereign shares the Legislative Power with the States-General, but
alone exercises the Executive Power. All the sovereign prerogatives
formerly possessed by provinces, districts or towns are now transferred
to the Sovereign. He is assisted by a Council of State of twelve
members, appoints and dismisses ministers, declares war and makes peace,
has the control of finance and governs the overseas-possessions. The
States-General consist of fifty-five members, elected by the nine
provinces, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overyssel, Gelderland, Groningen,
Friesland, Brabant and Drente on the basis of population. The members
are elected for three years, but one-third vacate their seats every
year. They have the right of legislative initiative, and of veto. The
finances are divided into ordinary and extraordinary expenditure, over
the former the States-General exercise no control, but a general Chamber
of Accounts _(Algemeene Rekenkamer)_ has the supervision over ways and
means. The Sovereign must be a member of the Reformed Church, but equal
protection is given by the State to all religious beliefs.

It was essentially an aristocratic constitution. At least one quarter of
the States-General must belong to the nobility. The Provincial Estates
had the control of local affairs only, but had the privilege of electing
the members of the States-General. They were themselves far from being
representative. For the country districts the members were chosen from
the nobility and the land-owners; in the towns by colleges of electors
_(kiezers)_, consisting of those who paid the highest contributions in
taxes. Except for the strengthening of the central executive power and
the abolition of all provincial sovereign rights, the new Constitution
differed little from the old in its oligarchic character.

It was, however, to be but a temporary arrangement. It has already been
pointed out that, months before his actual return to Holland, the prince
had received assurances from the British government that a strong
Netherland State should be created, capable of being a barrier to French
aggression. The time had now arrived for the practical carrying-out of
this assurance. Accordingly Lord Castlereagh in January, 1814, when on
his way, as British plenipotentiary, to confer with the Allied
Sovereigns at Basel, visited the Sovereign-Prince at the Hague. The
conversations issued in a proposal to unite (with the assent of Austria)
the Belgic provinces as far as the Meuse to Holland together with the
territory between the Meuse and the Rhine as far as the line
Maestricht-Düren-Cologne. Castlereagh submitted this project to the
allies at Basel; and it was discussed and adopted in principle at the
Conference of Châtillon (February 3 to March 15), the Austrian Emperor
having renounced all claim to his Belgian dominions in favour of an
equivalent in Venetia. This was done without any attempt to ascertain
the wishes of the Belgian people on the proposed transference of their
allegiance, and a protest was made. An assembly of notables, which had
been summoned to Brussels by the military governor, the Duke of
Saxe-Weimar, sent a deputation to the allied headquarters at Chaumont to
express their continued loyalty to their Habsburg sovereign and to ask
that, if the Emperor Francis relinquished his claim, they might be
erected into an independent State under the rule of an Austrian
archduke. A written reply (March 14) informed them that the question of
union with Holland was settled, but assurances were given that in
matters of religion, representation, commerce and the public debt their
interests would be carefully guarded. Meanwhile General Baron Vincent, a
Belgian in the Austrian service, was made governor-general.

The idea, however, of giving to Holland a slice of cis-Rhenan territory
had perforce to be abandoned in the face of Prussian objections. The
preliminary Treaty of Peace signed at Paris on May 30, 1814, was
purposely vague, Art. VI merely declaring that "Holland placed under the
sovereignty of the House of Orange shall receive an increase of
territory--_un accroissement de territoire";_ but a secret article
defined this increase as "the countries comprised between the sea, the
frontiers of France, as defined by the present treaty; and the Meuse
shall be united in perpetuity to Holland. The frontiers on the right
bank of the Meuse shall be regulated in accordance with the military
requirements of Holland and her neighbours." In other words the whole of
Belgium as far as the Meuse was to be annexed to Holland; beyond the
Meuse the military requirements of Prussia were to be consulted.

Previously to this, Castlereagh had written to the British Minister at
the Hague, Lord Clancarty, suggesting that the Sovereign-Prince should
summon a meeting of an equal number of Dutch and Belgian notables to
draw up a project of union to be presented to the Allied Sovereigns at
Paris for their approbation. But William had already himself, with the
assistance of his minister Van Nagell, drawn up in eight articles the
fundamental conditions for the constitution of the new State; and, after
revision by Falck and Lord Clancarty, he in person took them to Paris.
They were laid by Clancarty before the plenipotentiaries, and were
adopted by the Allied Sovereigns assembled in London on June 21, 1814.
The principles which animated them were set forth in a protocol which
breathes throughout a spirit of fairness and conciliation--but all was
marred by the final clause--_Elles mettent ces principes en exécution en
vertu de leur droit de conquete de la Belgique._ To unite Belgium to
Holland, as a conquered dependency, could not fail to arouse bad
feelings; and thus to proclaim it openly was a very grave mistake. It
was not thus that that "perfect amalgamation" of the two countries, at
which, according to the protocol, the Great Powers aimed, was likely to
be effected.

At the same time, as a standing proof of William's own excellent
intentions, the text of the Eight Articles is given in full:

(1) _The union shall be intimate and complete, so that the two countries
shall form but one State, to be governed by the Fundamental Law already
established in Holland, which by mutual consent shall be modified
according to the circumstances._

(2) _There shall be no change in those Articles of the Fundamental Law
which secure to all religious cults equal protection and privileges, and
guarantee the admissibility of all citizens, whatever be their religious
creed, to public offices and dignities._

(3) _The Belgian provinces shall be in a fitting manner represented in
the States-General, whose sittings in time of peace shall be held by
turns in a Dutch and a Belgian town._

(4) _All the inhabitants of the Netherlands thus having equal
constitutional rights, they shall have equal claim to all commercial and
other rights, of which their circumstances allow, without any hindrance
or obstruction being imposed on any to the profit of others._

(5) _Immediately after the union the provinces and towns of Belgium
shall be admitted to the commerce and navigation of the colonies of
Holland upon the same footing as the Dutch provinces and towns._

(6) _The debts contracted on the one side by the Dutch, and on the other
side by the Belgian provinces, shall be charged to the public chest of
the Netherlands._

(7) _The expenses required for the building and maintenance of the
frontier fortresses of the new State shall be borne by the public chest
as serving the security and independence of the whole nation._

(8) _The cost of the making and upkeep of the dykes shall be at the
charge of the districts more directly interested, except in the case of
an extraordinary disaster._

It is not too much to say that, if the provisions of these Articles had
been carried out fully and generously, there might have been at the
present moment a strong and united Netherland State.

On July 21 the Articles, as approved by the Powers, were returned to the
Sovereign-Prince, who officially accepted them, and on August 1 took
over at Brussels the government of the Belgic provinces, while awaiting
the decisions of the Congress, which was shortly to meet at Vienna, as
to the boundaries and political status of the territories over which he
ruled. The work of the Congress, however, which met in October, was much
delayed by differences between the Powers. Prussia wished to annex the
entire kingdom of Saxony; and, when it was found that such a claim, if
persisted in, would be opposed by Great Britain, Austria and France,
compensation was sought in the Rhenish provinces. Thus the idea of
strengthening the new Netherland buffer-state by an addition of
territory in the direction of the Rhine had to be abandoned. It must be
remembered that the Sovereign-Prince on his part was not likely to raise
any objection to having an enlarged and strengthened Prussia as his
immediate neighbour on the east. William was both brother-in-law and
first cousin of the King of Prussia, and had spent much of his exile at
Berlin; and he no doubt regarded the presence of this strong military
power on his frontier as the surest guarantee against French aggression.
His relations with Prussia were indeed of the friendliest character, as
is shown by the fact that secret negotiations were at this very time
taking place for the cession to Prussia of his hereditary Nassau
principalities of Dillenburg, Siegen, Dietz and Hadamar in exchange for
the Duchy of Luxemburg.

The proceedings of the inharmonious Congress of Vienna were, however,
rudely interrupted by the sudden return of Napoleon from Elba. Weary of
waiting for a formal recognition of his position, William now (March 15,
1815) issued a proclamation in which he assumed the title of King of the
Netherlands and Duke of Luxemburg. No protest was made; and the _fait
accompli_ was duly accepted by the Powers (May 23). The first act of the
king was to call upon all his subjects, Dutch and Belgians alike, to
unite in opposing the common foe. This call to arms led to a
considerable force under the command of the hereditary prince being able
to join the small British army, which Wellington had hurriedly collected
for the defence of Brussels. The sudden invasion of Belgium by Napoleon
(June 14) took his adversaries by surprise, for the Anglo-Netherland
forces were distributed in different cantonments and were separated from
the Prussian army under Blücher, which had entered Belgium from the
east. Napoleon in person attacked and defeated Blücher at Ligny on June
16; and on the same day a French force under Ney was, after a desperate
encounter, held in check by the British and Dutch regiments, which had
been pushed forward to Quatre Bras. Blücher retreated to Wavre and
Wellington to Waterloo on the following day. The issue of the battle of
Waterloo, which took place on June 18, is well known. The Belgian
contingent did not play a distinguished part at Waterloo, but it would
be unfair to place to their discredit any lack of steadiness that was
shown. These Belgian troops were all old soldiers of Napoleon, to whom
they were attached, and in whose invincibility they believed. The Prince
of Orange distinguished himself by great courage both at Quatre Bras and
Waterloo.

William, after his assumption of the regal title, at once proceeded to
regularise his position by carrying out that necessary modification of
the Dutch Fundamental Law to which he was pledged by the Eight Articles.
He accordingly summoned a Commission of twenty-four members, half Dutch
and half Belgian, Catholics and Protestants being equally represented,
which on April 22 met under the presidency of Van Hogendorp. Their
activity was sharpened by the threat of French invasion, and in three
months (July 18) their difficult task was accomplished. The new
Fundamental Law made no change in the autocratic powers conferred on the
king. The executive authority remained wholly in his hands. The
States-General were now to consist of two Chambers, but the First
Chamber was a nominated Chamber. It contained forty to sixty members
appointed by the king for life. The Second Chamber of 110 members,
equally divided between north and south, _i.e._ fifty-five Dutch and
fifty-five Belgian representatives, was elected under a very restricted
franchise by the seventeen provinces into which the whole kingdom was
divided. The ordinary budget was voted for ten years, and it was only
extraordinary expenses which had to be considered annually. The other
provisions strictly followed the principles and the liberties guaranteed
in advance by the Eight Articles.

The new Fundamental Law was presented to the Dutch States-General on
August 8, and was approved by a unanimous vote. Very different was its
reception in Belgium. The king had summoned a meeting of 1603 notables
to Brussels, of these 1323 were present. The majority were hostile. It
had been strongly urged by the Belgian delegates on the Commission that
the Belgic provinces, with three and a half millions of inhabitants,
ought to return to the Second Chamber of the States-General a number of
members proportionately greater than the Dutch provinces, which had
barely two millions. The Dutch on their part argued that their country
had been an independent State for two centuries and possessed a large
colonial empire, while Belgium had always been under foreign rule, and
had now been added to Holland "as an increase of territory." It was
finally arranged, however, that the representation of the northern and
southern portions of the new kingdom should be equal, 55 each. Belgian
public opinion loudly protested, especially as the 55 Belgian deputies
included four representatives of Luxemburg, which had been created a
separate State under the personal rule of King William. Still more
bitter and determined was the opposition of the powerful clerical party
to the principle of religious equality. About 99 per cent, of the
Belgian population was Catholic; and the bishops were very suspicious of
what might be the effect of this principle in the hands of an autocratic
Calvinist king, supported by the predominant Protestant majority in
Holland. A further grievance was that the heavy public debt incurred by
Holland should be made a common burden.

Considerable pressure was brought to bear upon the notables, but without
avail. The Fundamental Law was rejected by 796 votes to 527. Confronted
with this large hostile majority, the king took upon himself to reverse
the decision by an arbitrary and dishonest manipulation of the return.
He chose to assume that the 280 notables who had not voted were in
favour of the Law, and added their votes to the minority. He then
declared that 126 votes had been wrongly given in opposition to the
principle of religious equality, which, by the Second of the Eight
Articles approved by the Powers was binding and fundamental to the
Union, and he then not only deducted them from the majority, but added
them also to the minority. He then announced that the Fundamental Law
had been accepted by a majority of 263 votes. Such an act of chicanery
was not calculated to make the relations between north and south work
smoothly. Having thus for reasons of state summarily dealt with the
decision of the Belgian notables, William (September 26), made his state
entry into Brussels and took his oath to the Constitution.

Already the Congress of Vienna had given the official sanction of
the Powers to the creation of the kingdom of the Netherlands by a
treaty signed at Paris on May 31, 1815. By this treaty the whole
of the former Austrian Netherlands (except the province of Luxemburg)
together with the territory which before 1795 had been ruled by
the prince-bishops of Liège, the Duchy of Bouillon and several small
pieces of territory were added to Holland; and the new State thus
created was placed under the sovereignty of the head of the House
of Orange-Nassau. As stated above, however, it had been necessary
in making these arrangements to conciliate Prussian claims for
aggrandisement in the cis-Rhenan provinces. This led to a number of
complicated transactions. William ceded to Prussia his ancient
hereditary Nassau principalities--Dillenburg, Dietz, Siegen and
Hadamar. The equivalent which William received was the sovereignty of
Luxemburg, which for this purpose was severed from the Belgian
Netherlands, of which it had been one of the provinces since the time
of the Burgundian dukes, and was erected into a Grand-Duchy. Further
than this, the Grand-Duchy was made one of the states of the Germanic
Confederation; and the town of Luxemburg was declared to be a federal
fortress, the garrison to consist of Prussian and Dutch detachments
under a Prussian commandant. There was a double object in this
transaction: (1) to preserve to the Grand-Duke his rights and
privileges as a German prince, (2) to secure the defence of this
important borderland against French attack. Another complication
arose from the fact that in the 14th century the House of Nassau had
been divided into two branches, Walram and Otto, the younger branch
being that of which the Prince of Orange was the head. But by a
family-pact[9], agreed upon in 1735 and renewed in 1783, the
territorial possessions of either line in default of male-heirs had to
pass to the next male-agnate of the other branch. This pact therefore,
by virtue of the exchange that had taken place, applied to the new
Grand-Duchy. It is necessary here to explain what took place in some
detail, for this arbitrary wrenching of Luxemburg from its historical
position as an integral part of the Netherlands was to have serious
and disconcerting consequences in the near future.

The new kingdom of the Netherlands naturally included Luxemburg, so that
William was a loser rather than a gainer by the cession of his Nassau
possessions; but his close relation by descent and marriage with the
Prussian Royal House made him anxious to meet the wishes of a power on
whose friendship he relied. All evidence also points to the conclusion
that in accepting the personal sovereignty of the Grand-Duchy he had
no intention of treating Luxemburg otherwise than as part of his
kingdom. The Fundamental Law was made to apply to Luxemburg, in the same
way as to Brabant or Flanders; and of the 55 members allotted to the
Belgic provinces, four were representatives of the Grand-Duchy, which
was subject to the same legislation and taxes as the kingdom. At first
the king had thought of nominating his second son Frederick as his
successor in Luxemburg, but he changed his mind and gave him an
indemnity elsewhere; and he himself states the reason, "since we have
judged it advisable _(convenable)_ in the general interest of the
kingdom to unite the Grand-Duchy to it and to place it under the same
constitutional laws."

The boundaries of the new kingdom and of the Grand-Duchy
were fixed by the treaty of May 31, 1815, and confirmed by the
General Act of the Congress of Vienna. By this treaty Prussia
received a considerable part of the old province of Luxemburg as
well as slices of territory taken from the bishopric of Liège. A
separate boundary treaty a year later (June 26, 1816) between the
Netherlands and Prussia filled in the details of that of 1815; and
that Prussia herself acquiesced in the fusion of the kingdom and
the Grand-Duchy is shown by the fact that the boundary between
Prussia and Luxemburg is three times referred to in the later treaty
as the boundary between Prussia and the kingdom of the Netherlands.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXX

THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS--UNION OF HOLLAND AND BELGIUM, 1815-1830


The autocratic powers that were conferred upon King William by the
Fundamental Law rendered his personality a factor of the utmost
importance in the difficult task which lay before him. William's
character was strong and self-confident, and he did not shrink from
responsibility. His intentions were of the best; he was capable,
industrious, a good financier, sparing himself no trouble in mastering
the details of State business. But he had the defects of his qualities,
being self-opinionated, stubborn and inclined, as in the matter of the
vote of the Belgian notables, to override opposition with a high hand.
He had at the beginning of his reign the good fortune of being on the
best of terms with Castlereagh, the British Foreign Minister. To
Castlereagh more than to any other statesman the kingdom of the
Netherlands owed its existence. The Peace of Paris saw Great Britain in
possession by conquest of all the Dutch colonies. By the Convention of
London (August 13, 1814), which was Castlereagh's work, it was arranged
that all the captured colonies, including Java, the richest and most
valuable of all, should be restored, with the exception of the Cape of
Good Hope and the Guiana colonies--Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo. In
the latter the plantations had almost all passed into British hands
during the eighteen years since their conquest; and Cape Colony was
retained as essential for the security of the sea-route to India. But
these surrenders were not made without ample compensation. Great Britain
contributed £2,000,000 towards erecting fortresses along the French
frontier; £1,000,000 to satisfy a claim of Sweden with regard to the
island of Guadeloupe; and £3,000,000 or one-half of a debt from Holland
to Russia, _i.e._ a sum of £6,000,000 in all.

One of the most urgent problems with which the Sovereign-Prince had to
deal on his accession to power was the state of the finances. Napoleon
by a stroke of the pen had reduced the public debt to one-third of its
amount. William, however, was too honest a man to avail himself of the
opportunity for partial repudiation that was offered him. He recalled
into existence the two-thirds on which no interest had been paid and
called it "deferred debt" (_uitgestelde schuld_); the other third
received the name of "working debt" (_werkelijke schuld_). The figures
stood at 1200 million florins and 600 million florins respectively.
Every year four millions of the "working debt" were to be paid off, and
a similar amount from the "deferred" added to it. Other measures taken
in 1814 for effecting economies were of little avail, as the campaign of
Waterloo in the following year added 40 million florins to the debt.
Heavier taxation had to be imposed, but even then the charges for the
debt made it almost impossible to avoid an annual deficit in the budget.
It was one of the chief grievances of the Belgians that they were called
upon to share the burden of a crushing debt which they had not incurred.
The voting of ways and means for ten years gave the king the control
over all ordinary finance; it was only extraordinary expenditure that
had to be submitted annually to the representatives of the people.

The dislike of the Catholic hierarchy in Belgium to Dutch rule had been
intensified by the manner in which the king had dealt with the vote of
the notables. Their leader was Maurice de Broglie, Bishop of Ghent, a
Frenchman by birth. His efforts by speech and by pen to stir up active
enmity in Belgium to the union aroused William's anger, and he resolved
to prosecute him. It was an act of courage rather than of statesmanship,
but the king could not brook opposition. Broglie refused to appear
before the court and fled to France. In his absence he was condemned to
banishment and the payment of costs. The powerful clerical party
regarded him as a martyr and continued to criticise the policy of the
Protestant king with watchful and hostile suspicion. Nor were the
Belgian liberal party more friendly. They did not indeed support the
clerical claim to practical predominance in the State, but they were
patriotic Belgians who had no love for Holland and resented the thought
that they were being treated as a dependency of their northern
neighbours. They were at one with the clericals in claiming that the
Belgian representation in the Second Chamber of the States-General
should be proportional to their population. But this grievance might
have been tolerated had the king shown any inclination to treat his
Belgian subjects on a footing of equality with the Dutch. He was, as
will be seen, keenly interested in the welfare and progress of the
south, but in spirit and in his conduct of affairs he proved himself to
be an out-and-out Hollander. The provision of the Fundamental Law that
the seat of government and the meetings of the States-General should be
alternately from year to year at the Hague and at Brussels was never
carried out. All the ministries were permanently located at the Hague;
and of the seven ministers who held office in 1816 only one, the Duke
d'Ursel, was a Belgian, and he held the post of Minister of Public Works
and Waterways. Fourteen years later (at the time of the revolt) six out
of seven were still northerners. The military establishments were all in
Holland, and nearly all the diplomatic and civil posts were given to
Dutchmen. Nor was this merely due to the fact that, when the union took
place, Holland already possessed an organised government and a supply of
experienced officials, while Belgium lacked both. On the contrary, the
policy of the king remained fixed and unwavering. In 1830 out of 39
diplomatists 30 were Dutch. All the chief military posts were filled by
Dutchmen. Nor was it different in the civil service. In the home
department there were 117 Dutch, 11 Belgians; in the war department 102
Dutch, 3 Belgians; in finance 59 Dutch, 5 Belgians. Such a state of
things was bound to cause resentment. Parties in the Belgic provinces
were in the early days of the Union divided very much as they have been
in recent years. The Catholic or Clerical party had its stronghold in
the two Flanders and Antwerp, _i.e._ in the Flemish-speaking districts.
In Walloon Belgium the Liberals had a considerable majority. The
opposition to the Fundamental Law came overwhelmingly from Flemish
Belgium; the support from Liège, Namur, Luxemburg and other Walloon
districts. But the sense of injustice brought both parties together, so
that in the representative Chamber the Belgian members were soon found
voting solidly together, as a permanent opposition, while the Dutch
voted _en bloc_ for the government. As the representation of north and
south was equal, 55 members each, the result would have been a deadlock,
but there were always two or three Belgians who held government offices;
and these were compelled, on pain of instant dismissal, to vote for a
government measure or at least to abstain. Thus the king could always
rely on a small but constant majority, and by its aid he did not
hesitate to force through financial and legislative proposals in the
teeth of Belgian opposition. It is only fair, however, to the
arbitrary king to point out how earnestly he endeavoured to promote the
material and industrial welfare of the whole land, and to encourage to
the best of his power literary, scientific and educational progress. In
Holland the carrying-trade, which had so long been the chief source of
the country's wealth, had been utterly ruined by Napoleon's Continental
System. On the other hand, Belgian industries, which had been
flourishing through the strict embargo placed upon the import of British
goods, were now threatened with British competition. The steps taken by
the energy and initiative of the king were, considering the state of the
national finances, remarkable in the variety of their aims and the
results that they achieved. The old Amsterdam Bank was transformed into
a Bank of the Netherlands. A number of canals were planned and
constructed. Chief among these was the North Holland Canal, connecting
Amsterdam with the Helder. The approaches to Rotterdam were improved, so
that this port became the meeting-point of sea-traffic from England and
river-traffic by the Rhine from Germany. But both these ports were
quickly overshadowed by the rapid recovery of Antwerp, now that the
Scheldt was free and open to commerce. Other important canals, begun and
wholly or in part constructed, during this period were the
Zuid-Willemsvaart, the Zederik, the Appeldoorn and the Voorne canals.
Water communication was not so necessary in the south as in the north,
but care was there also bestowed upon the canals, especially upon the
canal of Terneuzen connecting Ghent with the western Scheldt, and many
highways were constructed. To restore the prosperity of the Dutch
carrying-trade, especially that with their East Indies, in 1824 a
Company--_de Nederlandsche Handekmaatschappij_--was founded; and at the
same time a commercial treaty was concluded with Great Britain, by which
both nations were to enjoy free trade with each other's East Indian
possessions. The _Handekmaatschappij_ had a capital of 37 million
florins; to this the king contributed four millions and guaranteed to
the shareholders for 20 years a dividend of 4 1/2 per cent. The Company
at first worked at a loss, and in 1831 William had to pay four million
florins out of his privy purse to meet his guarantee. This was partly
due to the set-back of a revolt in Java which lasted some years.

Agriculture received equal attention. Marshy districts were impoldered
or turned into pasture-land. More especially did the _Maatschappij van
Weldadigheid_, a society founded in 1818 by General van den Bosch with
the king's strong support, undertake the task of reclaiming land with
the special aim of relieving poverty. No less zealous was the king for
the prosperity of Belgian industries; Ghent with its cotton factories
and sugar refineries, Tournai with its porcelain industry, and Liège
with its hardware, all were the objects of royal interest. The great
machine factory at Seraing near Liège under the management of an
Englishman, Cockerill, owed its existence to the king. Nor was William's
care only directed to the material interests of his people. In 1815 the
University at Utrecht was restored; and in Belgium, besides Louvain, two
new foundations for higher education were in 1816 created at Ghent and
Liège. Royal Academies of the Arts were placed at Amsterdam and Antwerp,
which were to bear good fruit. His attention was also given to the
much-needed improvement of primary education, which in the south was
almost non-existent in large parts of the country. Here the presence of
a number of illiterate dialects was a great obstacle and was the cause
of the unfortunate effort to make literary Dutch into a national
language for his whole realm.

Nevertheless the king's political mistakes (of which the attempted
compulsory use of Dutch was one) rendered all his thoughtful
watchfulness over his people's welfare unavailing. Great as were the
autocratic powers conferred upon the sovereign, he overstepped them.
Plans, in which he was interested, he carried out without consulting the
States-General. His ministers he regarded as bound to execute his
orders. If their views differed from his, they were dismissed. This was
the fate even of Van Hogendorp, to whom he owed so much; Roëll and Falck
also had to make way for less competent but more obsequious ministers.

The chief difficulty with which the king had to contend throughout this
period was the ceaseless and irreconcilable opposition of the Catholic
hierarchy and clergy to the principle of absolute religious equality
established by the Fundamental Law (Articles CXC-CXCIII). Their leader,
Maurice de Broglie, Bishop of Ghent, actually published a _jugement
doctrinal_ in which he declared that the taking of the oath to the
Constitution was an act of treason to the Catholic Church. In this
defiance to the government he had the support of the Pope, who only
permitted the Count de Méan to take the oath on his appointment to the
Archbishopric of Malines on the understanding that he held Articles
CXC-CXCIII to refer only to civil matters. From this time to take the
oath "dans le sens de M. Méan" became with the ultra-clerical party a
common practice.

Other measures of the government aroused Catholic hostility. In this
year, 1819, a decree forbade the holding of more than two religious
processions in a year. In such a country as Belgium this restriction was
strongly resented. But the establishment in 1825 by the king of a
_Collegium Philosophicum_ at Louvain, at which all candidates for the
priesthood were by royal decree required (after 1826) to have a
two-years' course before proceeding to an episcopal seminary, met with
strenuous resistance. The instruction was in ancient languages, history,
ethics and canon-law; and the teachers were nominated by the king. The
first effect of this decree was that young men began to seek education
in foreign seminaries. Another royal decree at once forbade this, and
all youths were ordered to proceed either to the _Collegium_ or to one
of the High Schools of the land; unless they did so, access to the
priesthood or to any public office was barred to them. This was perhaps
the most serious of all the king's mistakes. He miscalculated both the
strength and the sincerity of the opposition he thus deliberately
courted. His decrees were doomed to failure. The bishops on their part
refused to admit to their seminaries or to ordination anyone who
attended the _Collegium Philosophicum_. The king, in the face of the
irrevocable decision of the Belgian hierarchy, found himself in an
untenable position. He could not compel the bishops to ordain candidates
for Holy Orders, and his decrees were therefore a dead letter; nor on
the other hand could he trample upon the convictions of the vast
majority of his Belgian subjects by making admission to the priesthood
impossible. He had to give way and to send a special envoy--De
Celles--to the Pope in 1827 to endeavour to negotiate a Concordat. It
was accomplished. By Article III of the Concordat, there were to be
eight bishops in the Netherlands instead of five. They were to be chosen
by the Pope, but the king was to have the right of objection, and they
were required to take the oath of allegiance. The course at the
_Collegium Philosophicum_ was made optional. William thus yielded on
practically all the points at issue, but prided himself on having
obtained the right of rejecting a papal nominee. The Pope, however, in
an allocution made no mention of this right, and declared that the
decree about the _Collegium_ was annulled, and that in matters of
education the bishops would act in accordance with instructions from
Rome. The government immediately issued a confidential notice to the
governors of provinces, that the carrying-out of the Concordat was
indefinitely postponed. Thus the effort at conciliation ended in the
humiliation of the king, and the triumph of the astute diplomacy of the
Vatican.

The financial situation, as we have seen, was from the outset full of
difficulty. The king was personally parsimonious, but his many projects
for the general welfare of the land involved large outlay, and the
consequence was an annual average deficit of seven million florins. At
first the revenue was raised by the increase of customs and excise,
including colonial imports. This caused much dissatisfaction in Holland,
especially when duties were placed on coffee and sugar. The complaint
was that thus an undue share of taxation fell on the maritime north. In
order to lighten these duties on colonial wares, other taxes had to be
imposed. In 1821 accordingly it was proposed to meet the deficit by two
most unwise and obnoxious taxes, known as _mouture_ and _abbatage_. The
first was on ground corn, the second on the carcases of beasts, exacted
at the mill or the slaughter-house--in other words on bread and on
butcher's meat. Both were intensely unpopular, and the _mouture_ in
particular fell with especial severity on the Belgian working classes
and peasantry, who consumed much more bread per head than the Dutch.
Nevertheless by ministerial pressure the bill was passed (July 21, 1821)
by a narrow majority of four--55 to 51. All the minority were Belgians,
only two Belgians voted with the majority. It is inconceivable how the
government could have been so impolitic as to impose these taxes in face
of such a display of national animosity. The _mouture_ only produced a
revenue of 5,500,000 fl.; the _abbatage_ 2,500,000 fl.

This amount, though its exaction pressed heavily on the very poor,
afforded little relief; and to meet recurring deficits the only resource
was borrowing. To extricate the national finances from ever-increasing
difficulties the _Amortisatie-Syndikaat_ was created in December, 1822.
Considerable sources of income from various public domains and from
tolls passed into the hands of the seven members of the Syndicate, all
of whom were bound to secrecy, both as to its public and private
transactions. Its effect was to diminish still further the control of
the Representative Chamber over the national finances. The Syndicate
did indeed assist the State, for between 1823 and 1829 it advanced no
less than 58,885,443 fl. to meet the deficits in the budget, but the
means by which it achieved this result were not revealed.

Yet another device to help the government in its undertakings was the
_million de l'industrie_, which was voted every year, as an
extraordinary charge, but of which no account was ever given. That this
sum was beneficially used for the assistance of manufacturing and
industrial enterprise, as at Seraing and elsewhere, and that it
contributed to the growing prosperity of the southern provinces, is
certain. But the needless mystery which surrounded its expenditure led
to the suspicion that it was used as a fund for secret service and
political jobbery.

The autocratic temper of the king showed itself not merely in keeping
the control of finance largely in his own hands, but also in carrying
out a series of measures arousing popular discontent by simple _arrêtés_
or decrees of the Council of State without consultation with the
representative Chamber. Such were the decree of November 6,1814,
abolishing trial by jury and making certain other changes in judicial
proceedings; that of April 15, 1815, imposing great restrictions on the
liberty of the press; that of September 15, 1819, making Dutch the
official language of the country; that of June 25,1825, establishing the
_Collegium Philosophicum_; and finally that of June 21, 1830, making the
Hague the seat of the supreme court of justice. All these produced
profound discontent and had a cumulative effect.

The language decree of 1819 was tentative, declaring a knowledge of
Dutch obligatory for admission to all public offices, but it was
followed by a much more stringent decree in 1822 by which, in the two
Flanders, South Brabant and Limburg, Dutch was to be used in the
law-courts and in all public acts and notices. Although the operation of
this decree was confined to the Flemish-speaking districts, it must be
remembered that, from the time of the Burgundian dukes right through the
Spanish and Austrian periods, French had always been the official
language of the country, the upper classes only spoke French, and with
few exceptions the advocates could only plead in that language. This was
a great hardship upon the Belgian bar, which would have been greatly
increased had the royal decree (June 21,1830), placing the court of
appeal for the whole kingdom at the Hague, been carried into effect.

More serious in its results was the infringement of Art. CCXXVII of the
Fundamental Law guaranteeing liberty of the press. The return of
Napoleon from Elba, and the imminent danger to which the, as yet,
unorganised kingdom of the Netherlands was exposed, led to the issue of
an _arrêté_ of the severest character. By it all persons publishing news
of any kind, or giving information injurious to the State, or writing or
distributing political pamphlets, were to be brought before a special
tribunal of nine judges holding office at the king's pleasure; and, if
condemned, were liable to be sentenced to exposure in the pillory,
deprivation of civic rights, branding, imprisonment, and fines varying
from 100 to 10,000 francs. This harsh measure was possibly justifiable
in an extreme emergency upon the plea that it was necessary for the
safety of the State. When the danger was over, and the Fundamental Law
was passed, there was no excuse for its further maintenance on the
Statute-book. Yet before this court Abbé de Foere was summoned for
having defended in the _Spectateur Beige_ the _jugement doctrinal_ of
Bishop de Broglie, and he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. In
the following year, 1818, the government obtained the approval of the
States-General (with slight modification) for the continuance of this
war-time censorship of the press. The penalties remained, but the court
consisted of a judge and four assessors, all government nominees. Under
this law a Brussels advocate, Van der Straeten, was fined 3000 fl. for a
brochure attacking the ministers; and several other advocates were
disbarred for protesting that this sentence was in conflict with the
Fundamental Law. Prosecutions henceforth followed prosecutions, and the
press was gagged.

As a result of these press persecutions, the two Belgian political
parties, the clericals and the liberals, poles apart as they were in
their principles, drew closer together. All differences of religious and
political creed were fused in a common sense of national grievances
under what was regarded as a foreign tyranny. This brought about in 1828
the formation of the _Union_, an association for the co-operation of
Belgians of all parties in defence of liberty of worship, liberty of
instruction and liberty of the press. The ultra-clericals, who looked to
the Vatican for their guidance, and the advanced liberals who professed
the principles of the French Revolution were thus by the force of
events led on step by step to convert an informal into a formal
alliance. The Abbe de Foere in the _Spectateur_ and MM. D'Ellougue and
Donker in the _Observateur_ had been for some years advocating united
action; and it was their success in winning over to their side the
support and powerful pen of Louis de Potter, a young advocate and
journalist of Franco-radical sympathies, that the _Union_, as a party,
was actually effected. From this time the onslaughts in the press became
more and more violent and embittered, and stirred up a spirit of unrest
throughout the country. Petitions began to pour in against the _mouture_
and _abbatage_ taxes and other unpopular measures, especially from the
Walloon provinces. These were followed by a National Petition, signed by
representatives of every class of the community asking for redress of
grievances, but it met with no response from the unyielding king. He had
in the early summer of this year, 1828, made a tour in Belgium and had
in several towns, especially in Antwerp and Ghent, met with a warm
reception, which led him to underestimate the extent and seriousness of
the existing discontent. At Liège, a centre of Walloon liberalism, he
was annoyed by a number of petitions being presented to him; and, in a
moment of irritation, he described the conduct of those who there
protested against "pretended grievances" as infamous, "une conduite
in-fâme." The words gave deep offence; and the incident called forth a
parody of the League of the Beggars in 1566, an Order of Infamy being
started with a medal bearing the motto _fidèles jusqu' à l'infamie._ The
movement spread rapidly, but it remains a curious fact that the
animosity of the Belgians, as yet, was directed against the Dutch
ministers (especially Van Maanen the Minister of Justice) and the Dutch
people, whose overbearing attitude was bitterly resented, rather than
against the king or the House of Orange. William's good deeds for the
benefit of the country were appreciated; his arbitrary measures in
contravention to the Fundamental Law were attributed chiefly to his bad
advisers.

The month of December, 1829, was however to bring the king and his
Belgian subjects into violent collision. A motion was brought forward in
the Second Chamber (December 8) by M. Charles de Broukère, an eminent
Belgian liberal supported by the Catholics under the leadership of M. de
Gerlache, for the abolition of the hated Press Law of 1815. The motion
was defeated by the solid Dutch vote, supplemented by the support of
seven Belgians. The decennial budget was due, and opposition to it was
threatened unless grievances were remedied--the cry was "point de
redressements de griefs, point d'argent." On December 11 came a royal
message to the States-General which, while promising certain concessions
regarding the taxes, the _Collegium Philosophicum_ and the language
decree, stated in unequivocal terms the principle of royal absolutism.
To quote the words of a competent observer of these events:

The message declared in substance that the constitution was an act of
condescension on the part of the throne; that the king had restrained
rather than carried to excess the rights of his house; that the press
had been guilty of sowing discord and confusion throughout the State;
and that the opposition was but the fanatic working of a few misguided
men, who, forgetting the benefits they enjoyed, had risen up in an
alarming and scandalous manner against a paternal government[10].

The Minister of Justice, Van Maanen, on the next day issued a circular
calling upon all civil officials to signify their adherence to the
principles of the message within 24 hours. Several functionaries, who
had taken part in the petition-agitation, were summarily dismissed; and
prosecutions against the press were instituted with renewed energy. From
this time Van Maanen became the special object of Belgian hatred.

The threat of the Belgian deputies to oppose the decennial budget was
now carried out. At the end of December the ministerial proposals were
brought before the States-General. The expenditure was sanctioned, the
ways and means to meet it were rejected by 55 votes to 52. The Finance
Minister in this emergency was obliged to introduce fresh estimates for
one year only, from which the _mouture_ and _abbatage_ taxes were
omitted. This was passed without opposition, but in his vexation at this
rebuff the king acted unworthily of his position by issuing an _arrêté_
(January 8, 1830) depriving six deputies, who had voted in the majority,
of their official posts. Meanwhile the virulence of the attacks in the
press against the king and his ministers from the pens of a number of
able and unscrupulous journalists were too daring and offensive to be
overlooked by any government. Foremost in the bitterness of his
onslaught was Louis de Potter, whose _Lettre de Démophile au Roi_ was
throughout a direct challenge to the autocratic claims advanced by the
royal message. Nor was De Potter content only with words. An appeal
dated December 11, of which he and his friend Tielemans were
originators, appeared (January 31,1830) in seventeen news-papers, for
raising a national subscription to indemnify the deputies who had been
ejected from their posts and salaries for voting against the budget.
Proceedings were taken against De Potter and Tielemans, and also against
Barthels, editor of the _Catholique_, and the printer, De Nève, and all
were sentenced by the court to banishment--De Potter for eight years,
Tielemans and Barthels for seven years, DeNève for five years. These men
had all committed offences which the government were fully justified in
punishing, for their language had passed the limits not only of good
order but of decency, and was subversive of all authority. Nevertheless
they were regarded by their Belgian compatriots as political martyrs
suffering for the cause of their country's liberties. Their condemnation
was attributed to Van Maanen, already the object of general detestation.

The ministry had meanwhile taken the wise step of starting an organ, the
_National_, at Brussels to take their part in the field of controversy.
But in the circumstances it was an act of almost inconceivable folly to
select as the editor a certain Libri-Bagnano, a man of Italian
extraction, who, as it was soon discovered by his opponents, had twice
suffered heavy sentences in France as a forger. He was a brilliant and
caustic writer, well able to carry the polemical war into his
adversaries' camp. But his antecedents were against him, and he aroused
a hatred second only to the aversion felt for Van Maanen.

We have now arrived at the eve of the Belgian Revolt, which had its
actual origin in a riot. But the riot was not the cause of the revolt;
it was but the spark which brought about an explosion, the materials for
which had been for years preparing. The French secret agent, Julian,
reports a conversation which took place between the king and Count
Bylandt on July 20,1823[11]. The following extract proves that, so early
as this date, William had begun to perceive the impossibility of the
situation:

    I say it and I repeat it often to Clancarty (the British Minister)
    that I should love much better to have my Holland quite alone. I
    should be then a hundred times happier.... When I am exerting
    myself to make a whole of this country, a party, which in
    collusion with the foreigner never ceases to gain ground, is
    working to disunite it. Besides the allies have not given me this
    kingdom to submit it to every kind of influence. This situation
    cannot last.

Another extract from a despatch of the French Minister at the Hague,
Lamoussaye, dated December 26, 1828, depicts a state of things in the
relations between the two peoples, tending sooner or later to make a
political separation of some kind inevitable:

    The Belgian hates the Hollander and he (the Hollander) despises
    the Belgian, besides which he assumes an infinite _hauteur_, both
    from his national character, by the creations of his industry and
    by the memories of his history. Disdained by their neighbour of
    the North, governed by a prince whose confidence they do not
    possess, hindered in the exercise of their worship, and, as they
    say, in the enjoyment of their liberties, overburdened with taxes,
    having but a share in the National Representation disproportionate
    to the population of the South, the Belgians ask themselves
    whether they have a country, and are restless in a painful
    situation, the outcome of which they seek vainly to discover[12].

From an intercepted letter from Louvain, dated July 30, 1829:

    What does one see? Hesitation uncertainty, embarrassment and fear
    in the march of the government; organisation, re-organisation and
    finally disorganisation of all and every administration. Again a
    rude shock and the machine crumbles.

A true forecast of coming events.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXXI

THE BELGIAN REVOLUTION, 1830-1842


During the last days of July, 1830, came the revolution at Paris that
overthrew Charles X and placed the Duke of Orleans at the head of a
constitutional monarchy with the title of Louis Philippe, King of the
French. The Belgian liberals had always felt drawn towards France rather
than Holland, and several of the more influential among them were in
Paris during the days of July. Through their close intercourse with
their friends in Brussels the news of all that had occurred spread
rapidly, and was eagerly discussed. Probably at this time few
contemplated the complete separation of Belgium from Holland, but rather
looked to the northern and southern provinces becoming administratively
autonomous under the same crown. This indeed appeared to be the only
practical solution of the _impasse_ which had been reached. Even had the
king met the complaints of the Belgians by large concessions, had he
dismissed Van Maanen, removed Libri-Bagnano from the editorship of the
_National_, and created a responsible ministry--which he had no
intention of doing--he could not have granted the demand for a
representation of the south in the Second Chamber proportionate to the
population. For this would have meant that the position of Holland would
have henceforth been subordinate to that of Belgium; and to this the
Dutch, proud of their history and achievements, would never have
submitted. It had been proved that amalgamation was impossible, but the
king personally was popular with those large sections of the Belgian
mercantile and industrial population whose prosperity was so largely due
to the royal care and paternal interest; and, had he consented to the
setting-up of a separate administration at Brussels, he might by a
conciliatory attitude have retained the loyalty of his Belgian subjects.

He did none of these things; but, when in August, he and his two sons
paid a visit to Brussels at a time when the town was celebrating with
festivities the holding of an exhibition of national industry, he was
well received and was probably quite unaware of the imminence of the
storm that was brewing. It had been intended to close the exhibition by
a grand display of fireworks on the evening of August 23, and to have a
general illumination on the king's birthday (August 24). But the king
had hurried back to the Hague to keep his birthday, and during the
preceding days there were abundant signs of a spirit of revolutionary
ferment. Inscriptions were found on blank walls--_Down with Van Maanen;
Death to the Dutch; Down with Libri-Bagnano and the National_; and, more
ominous still, leaflets were distributed containing the words _le 23
Août, feu d'artifice; le 24 Août, anniversaïre du Roi; le 25 Août,
révolution._

In consequence of these indications of subterranean unrest, which were
well known to Baron van der Fosse, the civil governor of Brabant, and to
M. Kuyff, the head of the city police, the municipal authorities weakly
decided on the ground of unfavourable weather to postpone the fireworks
and the illumination. The evening of the 23rd, as it turned out, was
exceedingly fine. At the same time the authorities permitted, on the
evening of the 25th, the first performance of an opera by Scribe and
Auber, entitled _La Muette de Portici_, which had been previously
proscribed. The hero, Masaniello, headed a revolt at Naples in 1648
against foreign (Spanish) rule. The piece was full of patriotic,
revolutionary songs likely to arouse popular passion.

The evening of the performance arrived, and the theatre was crowded. The
excitement of the audience grew as the play proceeded; and the thunders
of applause were taken up by the throng which had gathered outside.
Finally the spectators rushed out with loud cries of vengeance against
Libri-Bagnano and Van Maanen, in which the mob eagerly joined. Brussels
was at that time a chosen shelter of political refugees, ready for any
excesses; and a terrible riot ensued. The house of Van Maanen and the
offices of the _National_ were attacked, pillaged and burnt. The city
was given over to wild confusion and anarchy; and many of the mob
secured arms by the plunder of the gun-smiths' shops. Meanwhile the
military authorities delayed action. Several small patrols were
surrounded and compelled to surrender, while the main body of troops,
instead of attacking and dispersing the rioters, was withdrawn and
stationed in front of the royal palace. Thus by the extraordinary
passiveness of Lieut.-General Bylandt, the military governor of the
province, and of Major-General Wauthier, commandant of the city, who
must have been acting under secret orders, the wild outbreak of the
night began, as the next day progressed and the troops were still
inactive, to assume more of the character of a revolution.

This was checked by the action of the municipal authorities and certain
of the principal inhabitants, who called together the civic-guard to
protect any further tumultuary attacks by marauders and ne'er-do-wells
on private property. The guard were joined by numbers of volunteers of
the better classes and, under the command of Baron D'Hoogvoort, were
distributed in different quarters of the town, and restored order. The
French flags, which at first were in evidence, were replaced at the Town
Hall by the Brabant tricolor--red, yellow and black. The royal insignia
had in many places been torn down, and the Orange cockades had
disappeared; nevertheless there was at this time no symptom of an
uprising to overthrow the dynasty, only a national demand for redress of
grievances. Meanwhile news arrived that reinforcements from Ghent were
marching upon the city. The notables however informed General Bylandt
that no troops would be allowed to enter the city without resistance;
and he agreed to stop the advance and to keep his own troops in their
encampment until he received further orders from the Hague. For this
abandonment of any attempt to re-assert the royal authority he has been
generally blamed.

There is no lack of evidence to show that the riot of August 25 and its
consequences were not the work of the popular leaders. The
correspondence of Gendebien with De Potter at this time, and the tone of
the Belgian press before and after the outbreak, are proofs of this. The
_Catholique_ of Ghent (the former organ of Barthels) for instance
declared:

    There is no salvation for the throne, but in an ample concession
    of our rights. The essential points to be accorded are royal
    inviolability and ministerial responsibility; the dismissal of Van
    Maanen; liberty of education and the press; a diminution of
    taxation ... in short, justice and liberty in all and for all, in
    strict conformity with the fundamental law.

The _Coursier des Pays Bos_ (the former organ of De Potter), after
demanding the dismissal of Van Maanen as the absolute condition of
pacification, adds:

    We repeat that we are neither in a state of insurrection nor
    revolution; all we want is a mitigation of the grievances we have
    so long endured, and some guarantees for a better future.

In accordance with such sentiments an infuencial meeting on the on
the 28th at the townhall appointed a deputation of five, headed by
Alexandre de Gendebien and Felix, count de Mérode, to bear to the
king a loyal address setting forth the just grievances which had led
to the Brussels disturbances, and asking respectfully for their removal.

The news of the uprising reached the king on the 27th, and he was much
affected. At a Council held at the Hague the Prince of Orange earnestly
besought his father to accept the proffered resignation of Van Maanen,
and to consider in a conciliatory spirit the grievances of the Belgians.
But William refused flatly to dismiss the minister or to treat with
rebels. He gave the prince, however, permission to visit Brussels, not
armed with powers to act, but merely with a mission of enquiry. He also
consented to receive the deputation from Brussels, and summoned an
extraordinary meeting of the States-General at the Hague for September
13. Troops were at once ordered to move south and to join the camp at
Vilvoorde, where the regiments sent to reinforce the Brussels garrison
had been halted. The Prince of Orange and his brother Frederick
meanwhile had left the Hague and reached Vilvoorde on August 31. Here
Frederick assumed command of the troops; and Orange sent his
_aide-de-camp_ to Baron D'Hoogvoort to invite him to a conference at
headquarters. The news of the gathering troops had aroused immense
excitement in the capital; and it was resolved that Hoogvoort, at the
head of a representative deputation, should go to Vilvoorde to urge the
prince to stop any advance of the troops on Brussels, as their entrance
into the town would be resisted, unless the citizens were assured that
Van Maanen was dismissed, and that the other grievances were removed.
They invited Orange to come to Brussels attended only by his personal
suite, and offered to be sureties for his safety.

The prince made his entry on September 1, the streets being lined with
the civic guard. He was personally popular, but, possessing no powers,
he could effect nothing. After three days of parleying he returned to
the camp, and his mission was a failure. On the same day when Orange
entered Brussels the deputation of five was received by King William at
the Hague. His reply to their representations was that by the
Fundamental Law he had the right to choose his ministers, that the
principle of ministerial responsibility was contrary to the
Constitution, and that he would not dismiss Van Maanen or deal with any
alleged grievances with a pistol at his head.

William, however, despite his uncompromising words, did actually accept
the resignation of Van Maanen (September 3); but when the Prince of
Orange, returning from his experiences at Brussels, urged the necessity
of an administrative separation of north and south, and offered to
return to the Belgian capital if armed with full authority to carry it
out, his offer was declined. The king would only consent to bring the
matter to the consideration of the States-General, which was to meet on
the 13th. Instead of taking any immediate action he issued a
proclamation, which in no way faced the exigencies of the situation, and
was no sooner posted on the walls at Brussels than it was torn down and
trampled underfoot. It is only just to say that the king had behind him
the unanimous support of the Dutch people, especially the commercial
classes. To them separation was far preferable to admitting the Belgians
to that predominant share of the representation which they claimed on
the ground of their larger population.

Meanwhile at Brussels, owing to the inaction of the government, matters
were moving fast. The spirit of revolt had spread to other towns,
principally in the Walloon provinces. Liège and Louvain were the first
to move. Charles Rogier, an advocate by profession and a Frenchman by
birth, was the leader of the revolt at Liège; and such was his fiery
ardour that at the head of some 400 men, whom he had supplied with arms
from the armourer's warehouses, he marched to Brussels, and arrived in
that disturbed city without encountering any Dutch force. The example of
Liège was followed by Jemappes, Wavre, and by the miners of the
Borinage; and Brussels was filled with a growing crowd of men filled
with a revolutionary spirit. Their aim was to proclaim the independence
of Belgium, and set up a provisional government.

For such a step even pronounced liberals like Gendebien, Van de Weyer
and Rouppe, the veteran burgomaster of the city, were not yet prepared;
and they combined with the moderates, Count Felix de Mérode and
Ferdinand Meeus, to form a Committee of Public Safety. They were aided,
in the maintenance of order, by the two Barons D'Hoogvoort (Emmanuel and
Joseph), the first the commander of the civic guard, and both popular
and influential, and by the municipality. While these were still
struggling to maintain their authority, the States-General had met at
the Hague on September 13. It was opened by a speech from the king which
announced his firm determination to maintain law and order in the face
of revolutionary violence. He had submitted two questions to the
consideration of the States-General: (1) whether experience had shown
the necessity for a modification of the Fundamental Law; (2) whether any
change should be made in the relations between the two parts of the
kingdom. Both questions were, after long debate (September 29) answered
in the affirmative; but, before this took place, events at Brussels had
already rendered deliberations at the Hague futile and useless.

The contents of the king's speech were no sooner known in Brussels than
they were used by the revolutionary leaders to stir up the passions of
the mob by inflammatory harangues. Rogier and Ducpétiaux, at the head of
the Liègeois and the contingents from the other Walloon towns, with the
support of the lowest elements of the Brussels population, demanded the
dissolution of the Committee of Public Safety and the establishment of a
Provisional Government. The members of the Committee and of the
Municipality, sitting in permanence at the Hotel de Ville, did their
utmost to maintain order with the strong support of Baron D'Hoogvoort
and the Civic Guard. But it was in vain. On the evening of September 20
an immense mob rushed the Hotel de Ville, after disarming the Civic
Guard; and Rogier and Ducpétiaux were henceforth masters of the city.
The Committee of Public Safety disappeared and is heard of no more.
Hoogvoort resigned his command. On receipt of this news Prince Frederick
at Vilvoorde was ordered to advance upon the city and compel submission.
But the passions of the crowd had been aroused, and the mere rumour that
the Dutch troops were moving caused the most vigorous steps to be taken
to resist _à outrance_ their penetrating into the town.

The royal forces, on the morning of September 23, entered the city at
three gates and advanced as far as the Park. But beyond that point they
were unable to proceed, so desperate was the resistance, and such the
hail of bullets that met them from barricades and from the windows and
roofs of the houses. For three days almost without cessation the fierce
contest went on, the troops losing ground rather than gaining it. On
the evening of the 26th the prince gave orders to retreat, his troops
having suffered severely.

The effect of this withdrawal was to convert a street insurrection into
a national revolt. The moderates now united with the liberals, and a
Provisional Government was formed, having amongst its members Rogier,
Van de Weyer, Gendebien, Emmanuel D'Hoogvoort, Felix de Mérode and
Louis de Potter, who a few days later returned triumphantly from
banishment. The Provisional Government issued a series of decrees
declaring Belgium independent, releasing the Belgian soldiers from their
allegiance, and calling upon them to abandon the Dutch standard. They
were obeyed. The revolt, which had been confined mainly to the Walloon
districts, now spread rapidly over Flanders. Garrison after garrison
surrendered; and the remnants of the disorganised Dutch forces retired
upon Antwerp (October 2). Two days later the Provisional Government
summoned a National Congress to be elected by all Belgian citizens of 25
years of age. The news of these events caused great perturbation at the
Hague. The Prince of Orange, who had throughout advocated conciliation,
was now permitted by his father to go to Antwerp (October 4) and
endeavour to place himself at the head of the Belgian movement on the
basis of a grant of administrative separation, but without severance of
the dynastic bond with Holland.

King William meanwhile had already (October 2) appealed to the Great
Powers, signatories of the Articles of London in 1814, to intervene and
to restore order in the Belgic provinces. The difficulties of the prince
at Antwerp were very great, for he was hampered throughout by his
father's unwillingness to grant him full liberty of action. He issued a
proclamation, but it was coldly received; and his attempts to negotiate
with the Provisional Government at Brussels met with no success. Things
had now gone too far, and any proposal to make Belgium connected with
Holland by any ties, dynastic or otherwise, was unacceptable. The
well-meaning prince returned disappointed to the Hague on October 24. A
most unfortunate occurrence now took place. As General Chassé, the Dutch
commander at Antwerp, was withdrawing his troops from the town to the
citadel, attacks were made upon them by the mob, and some lives were
lost. Chassé in reprisal (October 27) ordered the town to be bombarded
from the citadel and the gunboats upon the river. This impolitic act
increased throughout Belgium the feeling of hatred against the Dutch,
and made the demand for absolute independence deeper and stronger.

The appeal of William to the signatory Powers had immediate effect; and
representatives of Austria, Prussia, Russia and Great Britain, to whom a
representative of France was now added, met at London on November 4.
This course of action was far from what the king expected or wished.
Their first step was to impose an armistice; their next to make it clear
that their intervention would be confined to negotiating a settlement on
the basis of separation. A Whig ministry in England had (November 16)
taken the place of that of Wellington; and Lord Palmerston, the new
Foreign Secretary, was well-disposed to Belgium and found himself able
to work in accord with Talleyrand, the French plenipotentiary. Austria
and Russia were too much occupied with their own internal difficulties
to think of supporting the Dutch king by force of arms; and Prussia,
despite the close family connection, did not venture to oppose the
determination of the two western Powers to work for a peaceful
settlement. While they were deliberating, the National Congress had met
at Brussels, and important decisions had been taken. By overwhelming
majorities (November 18) Belgium was declared to be an independent
State; and four days later, after vigorous debates, the Congress (by 174
votes to 13) resolved that the new State should be a constitutional
monarchy and (by 161 votes to 28) that the house of Orange-Nassau be for
ever excluded from the throne. A committee was appointed to draw up a
constitution.

William had appealed to the Powers to maintain the Treaties of Paris and
Vienna and to support him in what he regarded, on the basis of those
treaties, as his undoubted rights; and it was with indignation that he
saw the Conference decline to admit his envoy, Falck, except as a
witness and on precisely the same terms as the representatives of the
Brussels Congress. On December 20 a protocol was issued by the Powers
which defined their attitude. They accepted the principle of separation
and independence, subject to arrangements being made for assuring
European peace. The Conference, however, declared that such arrangements
would not affect the rights of King William and of the German
Confederation in the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. This part of the protocol
was as objectionable to the Belgians as the former part was to the
Dutch king. The London Plenipotentiaries had in fact no choice, for they
were bound by the unfortunate clauses of the treaties of 1815, which, to
gratify Prussian ambition for cis-Rhenan territory, converted this
ancient Belgian province into a German state. This ill-advised step was
now to be the chief obstacle to a settlement in 1831. The mere fact that
William had throughout the period of union always treated Luxemburg as
an integral part of the southern portion of his kingdom made its
threatened severance from the Belgic provinces a burning question. For
Luxemburgers had taken a considerable part in the revolt, and Luxemburg
representatives sat in the National Congress. Of these eleven voted for
the perpetual exclusion of the Orange-Nassau dynasty, one only in its
favour. It is not surprising, therefore, that a strong protest was made
against the decision of the London Conference to treat the status of
Luxemburg as outside the subject of their deliberations. The Conference,
however, unmoved by this protest, proceeded in a protocol of January
20,1831, to define the conditions of separation. Holland was to retain
her old boundaries of the year 1790, and Belgium to have the remainder
of the territory assigned to the kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815.
Luxemburg was again excluded. The Five Powers, moreover, declared that
within these limits the new Belgian State was to be perpetually neutral,
its integrity and inviolability being guaranteed by all and each of the
Powers. A second protocol (January 27) fixed the proportion of the
national debt to be borne by Belgium at sixteen parts out of thirty-one.
The sovereign of Belgium was required to give his assent to these
protocols, as a condition to being recognised by the Powers. But the
Congress of Brussels was in no submissive mood. They had already
(January 19) resolved to proceed to the election of a king without
consulting anyone. The territorial boundaries assigned to Belgium met
with almost unanimous reprobation, a claim being made to the
incorporation not merely of Luxemburg, but also of Maestrieht, Limburg
and Dutch Flanders, in the new State. Nor were they more contented with
the proportion of the debt Belgium was asked to bear. On February 1 the
Five Powers had agreed that they would not assent to a member of any of
the reigning dynasties being elected to the throne of Belgium.
Nevertheless (February 3) the Duc de Nemours, son of Louis Philippe, was
elected by 94 votes, as against 67 recorded for the Duke of
Leuchtenberg, son of Eugène Beauharnais. The Conference took immediate
action by refusing to permit either Nemours or Leuchtenberg to accept
the proffered crown.

These acute differences between the Conference and the Belgian Congress
were a cause of much satisfaction to the Dutch king, who was closely
watching the course of events; and he thought it good policy (February
18) to signify his assent to the conditions set forth in the protocols
of January 20 and 27. He had still some hopes of the candidature of the
Prince of Orange (who was in London) being supported by the Powers, but
for this the time was past.

At this juncture the name of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who had resided in
England since the death of his wife the Princess Charlotte, was put
forward. This candidature was supported by Great Britain; France raised
no objection; and in Belgium it met with official support. Early in
April a deputation of five commissioners was sent to offer the crown
provisionally to the prince, subject to his endeavouring to obtain some
modification of the protocols of January 20 and 27. The Five Powers,
however, in a protocol, dated April 15, announced to the Belgian
Government that the conditions of separation as laid down in the January
protocols were final and irrevocable, and, if not accepted, relations
would be broken off. Leopold was not discouraged, however; and such was
his influence that he did succeed in obtaining from the Conference an
undertaking that they would enter into negotiations with King William in
regard both to the territorial and financial disputes with a view to a
settlement, _moyennant de justes compensations_.

The Saxe-Coburg prince was elected king by the Congress (June 4); and in
redemption of their undertaking the Conference promulgated (June 26) the
preliminary treaty, generally known as the Treaty of the XVIII Articles.
By this treaty the question of Luxemburg was reserved for a separate
negotiation, the _status quo_ being meanwhile maintained. Other boundary
disputes (Maestricht, Limburg and various _enclaves_) were to be
amicably arranged, and the share of Belgium in the public debt was
reduced. Leopold had made his acceptance of the crown depend upon the
assent of the Congress being given to the Treaty. This assent was given,
but in the face of strong opposition (July 9); and the new king made his
public entry into Brussels and took the oath to the Constitution twelve
days later. On the same day (July 21) the Dutch king refused to accept
the XVIII Articles, declaring that he adhered to the protocols of
January 20 and 27, which the plenipotentiaries had themselves declared
(April 15) to be fundamental and irrevocable. Nor did he confine himself
to a refusal. He declared that if any prince should accept the
sovereignty of Belgium or take possession of it without having assented
to the protocols as the basis of separation he could only regard such
prince as his enemy. He followed this up (August 2) by a despatch
addressed to the Foreign Ministers of the Five Powers, announcing his
intention "to throw his army into the balance with a view to obtaining
more equitable terms of separation."

These were no empty words. The facile success of the Belgian revolution
had led to the Dutch army being branded as a set of cowards. The king,
therefore, despite a solemn warning from the Conference, was determined
to show the world that Holland was perfectly able to assert her rights
by armed force if she chose to do so. In this course he had the
whole-hearted support of his people. It was a bold act politically
justified by events. Unexpectedly, on August 2, the Prince of Orange at
the head of an army of 30,000 picked men with 72 guns crossed the
frontier. The Belgians were quite taken by surprise. Their army, though
not perhaps inferior in numbers to the invaders, was badly organised,
and was divided into two parts--the army of the Scheldt and the army of
the Meuse. The prince knew that he must act with promptness and
decision, and he thrust his army by rapid movements between the two
Belgian corps. That of the Meuse fell back in great disorder upon Liège;
that of the Scheldt was also forced to beat a rapid retreat. Leopold,
whose reign was not yet a fortnight old, joined the western corps and
did all that man could do to organise and stiffen resistance. At Louvain
(August 12) he made a last effort to save the capital and repeatedly
exposed his life, but the Belgians were completely routed and Brussels
lay at the victor's mercy. It was a terrible humiliation for the new
Belgian state. But the prince had accomplished his task and did not
advance beyond Louvain. On hearing that a French army, at the invitation
of King Leopold, had entered Belgium with the sanction of the Powers, he
concluded an armistice, by the mediation of the British Minister, Sir
Robert Adair, and undertook to evacuate Belgian territory. His army
recrossed the Dutch frontier (August 20), and the French thereupon
withdrew.

The Ten Days' Campaign had effected its purpose; and, when the
Conference met to consider the new situation, it was felt that the XVIII
Articles must be revised. Belgium, saved only from conquest by French
intervention, had to pay the penalty of defeat. A new treaty in XXIV
Articles was drawn up, and was (October 14) again declared to be final
and irrevocable. By this treaty the northwestern (Walloon) portion of
Luxemburg was assigned to Belgium, but at the cost of ceding to Holland
a considerable piece of Belgian Limburg giving the Dutch the command of
both banks of the river Meuse from Maestricht to the Gelderland
frontier. The proportion of the debt was likewise altered in favour of
Holland. King William was informed that he must obtain the assent of the
Germanic Confederation and of the Nassau agnates to the territorial
adjustments.

These conditions created profound dissatisfaction both in Belgium and
Holland. It was again the unhappy Luxemburg question which caused so
much heart-burning. The Conference however felt itself bound by the
territorial arrangements of the Congress of Vienna; and Palmerston and
Talleyrand, acting in concert throughout, could not on this matter
overrule the opposition of Prussia and Austria supported by Russia. All
they could do was to secure the compromise by which Walloon Luxemburg
was given to Belgium in exchange for territorial compensation in
Limburg. Belgian feeling was strong against surrendering any part either
of Luxemburg or Limburg; but King Leopold saw that surrender was
inevitable and by a threat of abdication he managed to secure, though
against vehement opposition, the acceptance of the Treaty of the XXIV
Articles by the Belgian Chambers (November 1). The treaty was signed at
London by the plenipotentiaries of the Five Great Powers and by the
Belgian envoy, Van de Weyer, on November 15, 1831; and Belgium was
solemnly recognised as an independent State, whose perpetual neutrality
and inviolability was guaranteed by each of the signatories
severally[13].

Once more the obstinacy of King William proved an insuperable obstacle
to a settlement. He had expected better results from the Ten Days'
Campaign, and he emphatically denied the right of the Conference to
interfere with the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, as this was not a Belgian
question, but concerned only the House of Nassau and the Germanic
Confederation. He also objected to the proposed regulations regarding
the navigation of the river Scheldt, and refused to evacuate Antwerp or
other places occupied by Dutch troops. He was aware that Great Britain
and France had taken the leading part in drawing up the treaty, but he
relied for support upon his close family relations with Prussia and
Russia[14], with whom Austria acted. But, although these Powers bore him
good will, they had no intention of encouraging his resistance. Their
object in delaying their ratification of the treaty was to afford time
to bring good advice to bear upon the unbending temper of the Dutch
king. The Tsar even sent Count Alexis Orloff on a special mission to the
Hague, with instructions to act with the Prussian and Austrian envoys in
urging William to take a reasonable course. All their efforts ended in
failure.

During the first nine months of the year 1832 a vigorous exchange of
notes took place between London and the Hague; and the Conference did
its utmost to effect an accommodation. At last patience was exhausted,
and the Powers had to threaten coercion. The three eastern Powers
declined indeed to take any active share in coercive measures, but were
willing that Great Britain and France should be their delegates.
Palmerston and Talleyrand, however, were determined that the King of
Holland should no longer continue to defy the will of the European Great
Powers; and on October 22 the English and French governments concluded a
Convention for joint action. Notice was given to King William (November
2) that he must withdraw his troops before November 13 from all places
assigned to Belgium by the Treaty of the XXIV Articles. If he refused,
the Dutch ports would be blockaded and an embargo placed upon Dutch
ships in the allies' harbours. Further, if on November 13 any Dutch
garrisons remained on Belgian soil, they would be expelled by armed
force. William at once (November 2) replied to the notice by a flat
refusal. In so acting he had behind him the practically unanimous
support of Dutch public opinion. The allies took prompt measures. An
Anglo-French squadron set sail (November 7) to blockade the Dutch ports
and the mouth of the Scheldt; and in response to an appeal from the
Belgian government (as was required by the terms of the Convention) a
French army of 60,000 men under Marshal Gérard crossed the Belgian
frontier (November 15) and laid siege to the Antwerp citadel, held by a
garrison of 5000 men commanded by General Chassé. The siege began on
November 20, and it was not until December 22 that Chassé, after a most
gallant defence, was compelled to capitulate. Rear-Admiral Koopman
preferred to burn his twelve gunboats rather than surrender them to the
enemy. Marshal Gérard offered to release his prisoners if the Dutch
would evacuate the forts of Lillo and Liefkenshoeck, lower down the
river. His offer was refused; and the French army, having achieved its
purpose, withdrew. For some time longer the blockade and embargo
continued, to the great injury of Dutch trade. An interchange of notes
between the Hague and London led to the drawing up of a convention,
known as the Convention of London, on May 21, 1833. By this agreement
King William undertook to commit no acts of hostility against Belgium
until a definitive treaty of peace was signed, and to open the
navigation of the Scheldt and the Meuse for commerce. The Convention was
in fact a recognition of the _status quo_ and was highly advantageous to
Belgium, as both Luxemburg and Limburg were _ad interim_ treated as if
they were integral parts of the new kingdom.

The cessation of hostilities, however, led to a fresh attempt to reach a
settlement. In response to an invitation sent by the western Powers to
Austria, Prussia and Russia, the Conference again met in London on July
15. The thread of the negotiations was taken up; but the Belgian
government insisted, with the full support of Palmerston, that as a
preliminary to any further discussion the King of Holland must obtain
the assent of the German Confederation and of the Nassau agnates to the
proposed territorial rearrangements. William declined to ask for this
assent. The Conference on this was indefinitely suspended. That the
king's refusal in August was a part of his fixed policy of waiting upon
events was shown by his actually approaching the Confederation and the
agnates in the following November (1833). Neither of these would consent
to any partition of Luxemburg, unless they received full territorial
compensation elsewhere. So matters drifted on through the years
1834-1837. Meanwhile in Holland a change of opinion had been gradually
taking place. The heavy taxes consequent upon the maintenance of an army
on a war footing pressed more and more upon a country whose income was
insufficient to meet its expenses. People grew tired of waiting for a
change in the political position that became every year more remote.
Luxemburg was of little interest to the Dutch; they only saw that
Belgium was prosperous, and that the maintenance of the _status quo_ was
apparently all to her advantage. The dissatisfaction of the Dutch
people, so long patient and loyal, made itself heard with increasing
insistence in the States-General; and the king saw that the time had
arrived for abandoning his obstinate _non-possumus_ attitude.
Accordingly, in March, 1838, he suddenly instructed his minister in
London (Dedel) to inform Palmerston that he (the king) was ready to sign
the treaty of the XXIV Articles, and to agree _pleinement et
entièrement_ to the conditions it imposed.

The unexpected news of this sudden step came upon the Belgians like a
thunderclap. From every part of the kingdom arose a storm of protest
against any surrender of territory. The people of Luxemburg and Limburg
appealed to their fellow-citizens not to abandon them; and their appeal
met with the strongest support from all classes and in both Chambers.
They argued that Holland had refused to sign the treaty of 1831, which
had been imposed on Belgium in her hour of defeat; and that now, after
seven years, the treaty had ceased to be in force and required revision.
The Belgians expected to receive support from Great Britain and France,
and more especially from Palmerston, their consistent friend. But
Palmerston was tired of the endless wrangling; and, acting on his
initiative, the Five Powers determined that they would insist on the
Treaty of the XXIV Articles being carried out as it stood. The
Conference met again in October, 1838; and all the efforts of the
Belgian government, and of King Leopold personally, to obtain more
favoured terms proved unavailing. An offer to pay sixty million francs
indemnity for Luxemburg and Limburg was rejected both by King William
and the Germanic Confederation. Such was the passionate feeling in
Belgium that there was actually much talk of resisting in the last
resort by force of arms. Volunteers poured in; and in Holland also the
government began to make military preparations. But it was an act of
sheer madness for isolated Belgium to think of opposing the will of the
Great Powers of Europe. The angry interchange of diplomatic notes
resulted only in one modification in favour of Belgium. The annual
charge of 8,400,000 francs placed upon Belgium on account of her share
in the public debt of the Netherlands was reduced to a payment of
5,000,000 francs. The Dutch king signed the treaty on February 1, 1839.
Finally the proposal that the treaty should be signed, opposition being
useless, met with a sullen assent from the two Belgian Chambers. On
April 19, 1839, the Belgian envoy, Van de Weyer, affixed his signature
at the Foreign Office in London and so brought to an end the long
controversy, which had lasted for nine years. There were still many
details to be settled between the two kingdoms, which from this time
became two separate and distinct political entities; but these were
finally arranged in an amicable spirit, and were embodied in a
subsidiary treaty signed November 5, 1842.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXXII

WILLIAM II. REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION.

1842-1849


The Dutch nation welcomed the final separation from Belgium with
profound relief. The national charges had risen from 15 million florins
in 1815 to 38 million florins in 1838. Taxation was oppressive, trade
stagnant, and the financial position growing more and more intolerable.
The long-tried loyalty of the people, who had entrusted their sovereign
with such wide and autocratic powers, had cooled. The king's Belgian
policy had obviously been a complete failure; and the rotten state of
public finance was naturally in large part attributed to the sovereign,
who had so long been practically his own finance minister. Loud cries
began to be raised for a revision of the constitution on liberal lines.
To the old king any such revision was repugnant; but, unable to resist
the trend of public opinion, he gave his assent to a measure of
constitutional reform in the spring of 1840. Its limited concessions
satisfied no one. Its principal modifications of the Fundamental Law
were: (1) the division of the province of Holland into two parts; (2)
the reduction of the Civil List; (3) the necessary alteration of the
number of deputies in the Second Chamber due to the separation from
Belgium; (4) abolition of the distinction between the ordinary and the
extraordinary budget; (5) a statement of the receipts and expenditure of
the colonies to be laid before the States-General. Finally the principle
of ministerial responsibility was granted most reluctantly, the king
yielding only after the Chambers had declined to consider the estimates
without this concession. But William had already made up his mind to
abdicate, rather than reign under the new conditions. He knew that he
was unpopular and out-of-touch with the times; and his unpopularity had
been increased by his announced intention of marrying the Countess
Henriette D'Oultremont, a Belgian and a Catholic. On October 7 he issued
a proclamation by which he handed over the government to his son William
Frederick, Prince of Orange. He then retired quietly to his private
estates in Silesia. He died at Berlin in 1843.

William II was forty-eight years of age on his accession to the throne.
He was a man of a character very different from that of his father.
Amiable, accessible, easily influenced, liberal-handed even to
extravagance, he was deservedly popular. He had shown himself in the
Peninsula, at Quatre Bras and Waterloo and later in the Ten Days'
Campaign, to be a capable and courageous soldier, but he possessed few
of the qualities either of a statesman or a financier. He had married in
1816 Anna Paulovna, sister of the Tsar Alexander I, after his proposed
marriage with the Princess Charlotte of England had been broken off.

He entered upon his reign in difficult times. There was a loud demand
for a further sweeping revision of the constitution. Religious
movements, which had been gathering force during the reign of William I,
required careful handling. One minister after another had tried to
grapple with the financial problem, but in vain. In 1840 the public debt
amounted to 2200 million florins; and the burden of taxation, though it
had become almost unendurable, failed to provide for the interest on the
debt and the necessary expenses of administration. The State was in fact
on the verge of bankruptcy. The appointment in 1842 of F.A. van Hall
(formerly an Amsterdam advocate, who had held the post of minister of
justice) to be finance minister opened out a means of salvation. The
arrears to 1840 amounted to 35 million florins; the deficit for 1841-3
had to be covered, and means provided for the expenditure for 1843-4.
Van Hall's proposals gave the people the choice between providing the
necessary money by an extraordinary tax of one and a half per cent, on
property and income, and raising a voluntary loan of 150 million florins
at 3 per cent. After long debates the States-General accepted the
proposal for the voluntary loan, but the amount was reduced to 126
millions. The success of the loan, though at first doubtful, was by
March, 1844, complete. The Amsterdam Bourse gave its utmost support; and
the royal family set a good example by a joint subscription of 11
million florins. By this means, and by the capitalisation of the annual
Belgian payment of five million francs, Van Hall was able to clear off
the four years' arrears and to convert the 5 and 4-1/2 per cent. scrip
into 4 per cent. He was helped by the large annual payments, which now
began to come in from the Dutch East Indies; and at length an
equilibrium was established in the budget between receipts and
expenditure.

In the years preceding the French Revolution the Reformed Church in the
United Provinces had become honey-combed with rationalism. The official
orthodoxy of the Dort synod had become "a fossilised skeleton." By the
Constitution of 1798 Church and State were separated, and the property
of the Church was taken by the State, which paid however stipends to the
ministers. Under King Louis subsidies were paid from the public funds to
teachers of every religious persuasion; and this system continued during
the union of Holland and Belgium. A movement known as the _Reveil_ had
meanwhile been stirring the dry-bones of Calvinistic orthodoxy
in Holland. Its first leaders were Bilderdijk, De Costa and Capadose.
Like most religious revivals, this movement gave rise to extravagancies
and dissensions. In 1816 a new sect was founded by a sea-captain,
Staffel Mulder, on communistic principles after the example of
the first Jerusalem converts, which gathered a number of followers
among the peasantry. The "New Lighters"--such was the name they
assumed--established in 1823 their headquarters at Zwijndrecht. The
first enthusiasm however died down, and the sect gradually disappeared.
More serious was the liberal revolt against the cut-and-dried orthodoxy
of Dort. Slowly it made headway, and it found leaders in Hofstede de
Groot, professor at Groningen, and in two eloquent preachers, De Cocq at
Ulrum and Scholte at Deventer. These men, finding that their views met
with no sympathy or recognition by the synodal authorities, resolved
(October 14,1834) on the serious step of separating from the Reformed
Church and forming themselves and their adherents into a new church
body. They were known as "the Separatists" (_de Afgescheidenen_). Though
deprived of their pulpits, fined and persecuted, the Separatists grew in
number. In 1836 the government refused to recognise them as a Church,
but permitted local congregations to hold meetings in houses. In 1838
more favourable conditions were offered, which De Cocq and Scholte
finally agreed to accept, but no subsidies were paid to the sect by the
State. William II, in 1842, made a further concession by allowing
religious teaching to be given daily in the public schools (out of
school hours) by the Separatist ministers, as well as by those of other
denominations. All this while, however, certain congregations refused
to accept the compromise of 1838; and a large number, headed by a
preacher named Van Raalte, in order to obtain freedom of worship,
emigrated to Michigan to form the nucleus of a flourishing Dutch colony.

The accession of William II coincided with a period of political unrest,
not only in Holland but throughout Europe. A strong reaction had set in
against the system of autocratic rule, which had been the marked feature
of the period which followed 1815. Liberal and progressive ideas had
during the later years been making headway in Holland under the
inspiring leadership of Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, at that time a professor
of jurisprudence at Leyden. He had many followers; and the cause he
championed had the support of the brilliant writers and publicists,
Donker-Curtius, Luzac, Potgieter, Bakhuizen van der Brink and others. A
strong demand arose for a thorough revision of the constitution. In 1844
a body of nine members of the Second Chamber, chief amongst them
Thorbecke, drew up a definite proposal for a revision; but the king
expressed his dislike to it, and it was rejected. The Van Hall ministry
had meanwhile been carrying out those excellent financial measures which
had saved the credit of the State, and was now endeavouring to conduct
the government on opportunist lines. But the potato famine in 1845-46
caused great distress among the labouring classes, and gave added force
to the spirit of discontent in the country. The king himself grew
nervous in the presence of the revolutionary ferment spreading
throughout Europe, and was more especially alarmed (February, 1848) by
the sudden overthrow of the monarchy of Louis Philippe and the
proclamation of a republic at Paris. He now resolved himself to take the
initiative. He saw that the proposals hitherto made for revision did not
satisfy public opinion; and on March 8, without consulting his
ministers, he took the unusual step of sending for the President of the
Second Chamber, Boreel van Hogelanden. He asked him to ascertain the
opinions and wishes of the Chamber on the matter of revision and to
report to him. The ministry on this resigned and a new liberal ministry
was formed, at the head of which was Count Schimmelpenninck, formerly
minister in London. On March 17 a special Commission was appointed to
draw up a draft scheme of revision. It consisted of five members, four
of whom, Thorbecke, Luzac, Donker-Curtius and Kempenaer, were prominent
liberals and the fifth a Catholic from North Brabant. Their work was
completed by April 11 and the report presented to the king.
Schimmelpenninck, not agreeing with the proposals of the Commission,
resigned; and on May 11 a new ministry under the leadership of
Donker-Curtius was formed for the express purpose of carrying out the
proposed revision. A periodical election of the Second Chamber took
place in July, and difficulties at first confronted the new scheme.
These were, however, overcome; and on October 14 the revised
constitution received the king's assent. It was solemnly proclaimed on
November 3.

The Constitution of 1848 left in the hands of the king the executive
power, i.e. the conduct of foreign affairs, the right of declaring war
and making peace, the supreme command of the military and naval forces,
the administration of the overseas possessions, and the right of
dissolving the Chambers; but these prerogatives were modified by the
introduction of the principle of ministerial responsibility. The
ministers were responsible for all acts of the government, and the king
could legally do no wrong. The king was president of the Council of
State (15 members), whose duty it was to consider all proposals made to
or by the States-General. The king shared the legislative power with the
States-General, but the Second Chamber had the right of initiative,
amendment and investigation; and annual budgets were henceforth to be
presented for its approval. All members of the States-General were to be
at least 30 years of age. The First Chamber of 39 members was elected by
the Provincial Estates from those most highly assessed to direct
taxation; the members sat for nine years, but one-third vacated their
seats every third year. All citizens of full age paying a certain sum to
direct taxation had the right of voting for members of the Second
Chamber, the country for this purpose being divided into districts
containing 45,000 inhabitants. The members held their seats for four
years, but half the Chamber retired every second year. Freedom of
worship to all denominations, liberty of the press and the right of
public meeting were guaranteed. Primary education in public schools was
placed under State control, but private schools were not interfered
with. The provincial and communal administration was likewise reformed
and made dependent on the direct popular vote.

The ministry of Donker-Curtius at once took steps for holding
fresh elections, as soon as the new constitution became the
fundamental law of the country. A large majority of liberals was
returned to the Second Chamber. The king in person opened the
States-General on February 13, 1849, and expressed his intention of
accepting loyally the changes to which he had given his assent. He
was, however, suffering and weak from illness, and a month later
(March 17) he died at Tilburg. His gracious and kindly personality
had endeared him to his subjects, who deeply regretted that at this
moment of constitutional change the States should lose his experienced
guidance. He was succeeded by his son, William III.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXXIII

REIGN OF WILLIAM III TO THE DEATH OF THORBECKE, 1849-1872


William III succeeded to the throne at a moment of transition. He was
thirty-two years of age, and his natural leanings were autocratic; but
he accepted loyally the principle of ministerial responsibility, and
throughout his long reign endeavoured honestly and impartially to fulfil
his duties as a constitutional sovereign. There were at this time in
Holland four political parties: (1) the old conservative party, which
after 1849 gradually dwindled in numbers and soon ceased to be a power
in the State; (2) the liberals, under the leadership of Thorbecke; (3)
the anti-revolutionary or orthodox Protestant party, ably led by G.
Groen van Prinsterer, better known perhaps as a distinguished historian,
but at the same time a good debater and resourceful parliamentarian; (4)
the Catholic party. The Catholics for the first time obtained in 1849
the full privileges of citizenship. They owed this to the liberals, and
for some years they gave their support to that party, though differing
from them fundamentally on many points. The anti-revolutionaries placed
in the foreground the upholding of the Reformed (orthodox Calvinistic)
faith in the State, and of religious teaching in the schools. In this
last article of their political creed they were at one with the
Catholics, and in its defence the two parties were destined to become
allies.

The liberal majority in the newly elected States-General was
considerable; and it was the general expectation that Thorbecke would
become head of the government. The king however suspected the aims of
the liberal leader, and personally disliked him. He therefore kept in
office the Donker-Curtius-De Kempenaer cabinet; but, after a vain
struggle against the hostile majority, it was compelled to resign, and
Thorbecke was called upon to form a ministry.

Thorbecke was thus the first constitutional prime-minister of Holland.
His answer to his opponents, who asked for his programme, was
contained in words which he was speedily to justify: "Wait for our
deeds." A law was passed which added 55,000 votes to the electorate; and
by two other laws the provincial and communal assemblies were placed
upon a popular representative basis. The system of finance was reformed
by the gradual substitution of direct for indirect taxation. By the
Navigation Laws all differential and transit dues upon shipping were
reduced; tolls on through-cargoes on the rivers were abolished, and the
tariff on raw materials lowered. It was a considerable step forward in
the direction of free-trade. Various changes were made to lighten the
incidence of taxation on the poorer classes. Among the public works
carried to completion at this time (1852) was the empoldering of the
Haarlem lake, which converted a large expanse of water into good pasture
land.

It was not on political grounds that the Thorbecke ministry was to be
wrecked, but by their action in matters which aroused religious passions
and prejudices. The prime-minister wished to bring all charitable
institutions and agencies under State supervision. Their number was more
than 3500; and a large proportion of these were connected with and
supported by religious bodies. It is needless to say the proposal
aroused strong opposition. More serious was the introduction of a
Catholic episcopate into Holland. By the Fundamental Law of 1848
complete freedom of worship and of organisation had been guaranteed to
every form of religious belief. It was the wish of the Catholics that
the system which had endured ever since the 16th century of a "Dutch
mission" under the direction of an Italian prelate (generally the
internuncio) should come to an end, and that they should have bishops of
their own. The proposal was quite constitutional and, far from giving
the papal curia more power in the Netherlands, it decreased it. A
petition to Pius IX in 1847 met with little favour at Rome; but in 1851
another petition, much more widely signed, urged the Pope to seize the
favourable opportunity for establishing a native hierarchy. Negotiations
were accordingly opened by the papal see with the Dutch government,
which ended (October, 1852) in a recognition of the right of the
Catholic Church in Holland to have freedom of organisation. It was
stipulated, however, that a previous communication should be made to the
government of the papal intentions and plans, before they were carried
out. The only communication that was made was not official, but
confidential; and it merely stated that Utrecht was to be erected into
an archbishopric with Haarlem, Breda, Hertogenbosch and Roeremonde, as
suffragans. The ministry regarded the choice of such Protestant centres
as Utrecht and Haarlem with resentment, but were faced with the _fait
accompli_. This strong-handed action of the Roman authorities was made
still more offensive by the issuing of a papal allocution, again without
any consultation with the Dutch government, in which Pius IX described
the establishment of the new hierarchy as a means of counteracting in
the Netherlands the heresy of Calvin.

A wave of fierce indignation swept over Protestant Holland, which united
in one camp orthodox Calvinists (anti-revolutionaries), conservatives
and anti-papal liberals. The preachers everywhere inveighed against a
ministry which had permitted such an act of aggression on the part of a
foreign potentate against the Protestantism of the nation. Utrecht took
the lead in drawing up an address to the king and to the States-General
(which obtained two hundred thousand signatures), asking them not to
recognise the proposed hierarchy. At the meeting of the Second Chamber
of the States-General on April 12, Thorbecke had little difficulty in
convincing the majority that the Pope had proceeded without Consultation
with the ministry, and that under the Constitution the Catholics had
acted within their rights in re-modelling their Church organisation. But
his arguments were far from satisfying outside public opinion. On the
occasion of a visit of the king to Amsterdam the ministry took the step
of advising him not to receive any address hostile to the establishment
of the hierarchy, on the ground that this did not require the royal
approval. William, who had never been friendly to Thorbecke, was annoyed
at being thus instructed in the discharge of his duties; and he not only
received an address containing 51,000 signatures but expressed his great
pleasure in being thus approached (April 15). At the same time he
summoned Van Hall, the leader of the opposition, to Amsterdam for a
private consultation. The ministry, on hearing of what had taken place,
sent its resignation, which was accepted on April 19. Thus fell the
Thorbecke ministry, not by a parliamentary defeat, but because the king
associated himself with the uprising of hostile public opinion, known as
the "April Movement."

A new ministry was formed under the joint leadership of Van Hall and
Donker-Curtius; and an appeal to the electors resulted in the defeat of
the liberals. The majority was a coalition of conservatives and
anti-revolutionaries. The followers of Groen van Prinsterer were small
in number, but of importance through the strong religious convictions
and debating ability of the leader. The presence of Donker-Curtius was a
guarantee for moderation; and, as Van Hall was an adept in political
opportunism, the new ministry differed from its liberal predecessor
chiefly in its more cautious attitude towards the reforms which both
were ready to adopt. As it had been carried into office by the April
Movement, a Church Association Bill was passed into law making it
illegal for a foreigner to hold any Church office without the royal
assent, and forbidding the wearing of a distinctive religious dress
outside closed buildings. Various measures were introduced dealing with
ministerial responsibility, poor-law administration and other matters,
such as the abolition of the excise on meat and of barbarous punishments
on the scaffold.

The question of primary education was to prove for the next half-century
a source of continuous political and religious strife, dividing the
people of Holland into hostile camps. The question was whether the State
schools should be "mixed" i.e. neutral schools, where only those simple
truths which were common to all denominations should be taught; or
should be "separate" i.e. denominational schools, in which religious
instruction should be given in accordance with the wishes of the
parents. A bill was brought in by the government (September, 1854) which
was intended to be a compromise. It affirmed the general principle that
the State schools should be "neutral," but allowed "separate" schools to
be built and maintained. This proposal was fiercely opposed by Groen and
gave rise to a violent agitation. The ministry struggled on, but its
existence was precarious and internal dissensions at length led to its
resignation (July, 1856). The elections of 1856 had effected but little
change in the constitution of the Second Chamber, and the
anti-revolutionary J.J.L. van der Brugghen was called upon to form a
ministry. Groen himself declined office, Van der Brugghen made an effort
to conciliate opposition; and a bill for primary education was
introduced (1857) upholding the principle of the "mixed" schools, but
with the proviso that the aim of the teaching was to be the instruction
of the children "in Christian and social virtues"; at the same time
"separate" schools were permitted and under certain conditions would be
subsidised by the State. Groen again did his utmost to defeat this bill,
but he was not successful; and after stormy debates it became law (July,
1857). The liberals obtained a majority at the elections of 1858, and
Van der Brugghen resigned. But the king would not send for Thorbecke;
and J.J. Rochussen, a former governor-general of the Dutch East Indies,
was asked to form a "fusion" ministry. During his tenure of office
(1858-60) slavery was abolished in the East Indies, though not the
cultivation-system, which was but a kind of disguised slavery. The way
in which the Javanese suffered by this system of compulsory labour for
the profit of the home country--the amount received by the Dutch
treasury being not less than 250 million florins in thirty years--was
now scathingly exposed by the brilliant writer Douwes Dekker. He had
been an official in Java, and his novel _Max Havelaar_, published in
1860 under the pseudonym "Multatuli," was widely read, and brought to
the knowledge of the Dutch public the character of the system which was
being enforced.

Holland was at this time far behind Belgium in the construction of a
system of railroads, to the great hindrance of trade. A bill, however,
proposed by the ministry to remedy this want was rejected by the First
Chamber, and Rochussen resigned. The king again declined to send for
Thorbecke; and Van Hall was summoned for the third time to form a
ministry. He succeeded in securing the passage of a proposal to spend
not less than 10 million florins annually in the building of State
railways. All Van Hall's parliamentary adroitness and practised
opportunism could not, however, long maintain in office a ministry
supported cordially by no party. Van Hall gave up the unthankful task
(February, 1861), but still it was not Thorbecke, but Baron S. van
Heemstra that was called upon to take his place. For a few months only
was the ministry able to struggle on in the face of a liberal majority.
There was now no alternative but to offer the post of first minister to
Thorbecke, who accepted the office (January 31, 1862).

The second ministry of Thorbecke lasted for four years, and was actively
engaged during that period in domestic, trade and colonial reforms.
Thorbecke, as a free-trader, at once took in hand the policy of lowering
all duties except for revenue purposes. The communal dues were
extinguished. A law for secondary and technical education was passed in
1863; and in the same year slavery was abolished in Surinam and the West
Indies. Other bills were passed for the canalising of the Hook of
Holland, and the reclaiming of the estuary of the Y. This last project
included the construction of a canal, the Canal of Holland, with the
artificial harbour of Ymuiden at its entrance, deep enough for ocean
liners to reach Amsterdam. With the advent of Fransen van de Putte, as
colonial minister in 1863, began a series of far-reaching reforms in the
East Indies, including the lowering of the differential duties. His
views, however, concerning the scandal of the cultivation-system in Java
did not meet with the approval of some of his colleagues; and Thorbecke
himself supported the dissentients. The ministry resigned, and Van de
Putte became head of the government. He held office for four months
only. His bill for the abolition of the cultivation-system and the
conversion of the native cultivators into possessors of their farms was
thrown out by a small majority, Thorbecke with a few liberals and some
Catholics voting with the conservatives against it. This was the
beginning of a definite liberal split, which was to continue for years.

A coalition-ministry followed under the presidency of J. van Heemskerk
(Interior) and Baron van Zuylen van Nyevelt (Foreign Affairs). The
colonial minister Mijer shortly afterwards resigned in order to take the
post of governor-general of the East Indies. This appointment did not
meet with the approval of the Second Chamber; and the government
suffered a defeat. On this they persuaded the king not only to dissolve
the Chamber, but to issue a proclamation impressing upon the electors
the need of the country for a more stable administration. The result was
the return of a majority for the Heemskerk-Van Zuylen combination. It is
needless to say that Thorbecke and his followers protested strongly
against the dragging of the king's name into a political contest, as
gravely unconstitutional. The ministry had a troubled existence.

The results of the victory of Prussia over Austria at Sadowa, and the
formation of the North German Confederation under Prussian leadership,
rendered the conduct of foreign relations a difficult and delicate task,
especially as regards Luxemburg and Limburg, both of which were under
the personal sovereignty of William III, and at the same time formed
part of the old German Confederation. The rapid success of Prussia had
seriously perturbed public opinion in France; and Napoleon III, anxious
to obtain some territorial compensation which would satisfy French
_amour-propre,_ entered into negotiations with William III for the sale
of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. The king was himself alarmed at the
Prussian annexations, and Queen Sophie and the Prince of Orange had
decided French leanings; and, as Bismarck had given the king reason to
believe that no objection would be raised, the negotiations for the sale
were seriously undertaken. On March 26, 1867, the Prince of Orange
actually left the Hague, bearing the document containing the Grand
Duke's consent; and on April 1 the cession was to be finally completed.
On that very day the Prussian ambassadors at Paris and the Hague were
instructed to say that any cession of Luxemburg to France would mean war
with Prussia. It was a difficult situation; and a conference of the
Great Powers met at London on May 11 to deal with it. Its decision was
that Luxemburg should remain as an independent state, whose neutrality
was guaranteed collectively by the Powers, under the sovereignty of the
House of Nassau; that the town of Luxemburg should be evacuated by its
Prussian garrison; and that Limburg should henceforth be an integral
part of the kingdom of the Netherlands.

Van Zuylen was assailed in the Second Chamber for his exposing the
country to danger and humiliation in this matter; and the Foreign Office
vote was rejected by a small majority. The ministry resigned; but,
rather than address himself to Thorbecke, the king sanctioned a
dissolution, with the result of a small gain of seats to the liberals.
Heemskerk and Van Zuylen retained office for a short time in the face of
adverse votes, but finally resigned; and the king had no alternative but
to ask Thorbecke to form a ministry. He himself declined office, but he
chose a cabinet of young liberals who had taken no part in the recent
political struggles, P.P. van Bosse becoming first minister.

From this time forward there was no further attempt on the part
of the royal authority to interfere in the constitutional course of
parliamentary government. Van Bosse's ministry, scoffingly called by
their opponents "Thorbecke's marionettes," maintained themselves
in office for two years(1868-70), passing several useful measures, but
are chiefly remembered for the abolition of capital punishment. The
outbreak of the Franco-German war in 1870 found, however, the
Dutch army and fortresses ill-prepared for an emergency, when
the maintenance of strict neutrality demanded an efficient defence
of the frontiers. The ministry was not strong enough to resist the
attacks made upon it; and at last the real leader of the liberal party,
the veteran Thorbecke, formed his third ministry (January, 1871).
But Thorbecke was now in ill-health, and the only noteworthy
achievement of his last premiership was an agreement with Great
Britain by which the Dutch possessions on the coast of Guinea
were ceded to that country in exchange for a free hand being given
to the Dutch in Surinam. The ministry, having suffered a defeat
on the subject of the cost of the proposed army re-organisation, was
on the point of resigning, when Thorbecke suddenly died (June 5,
1872). His death brought forth striking expressions of sympathy
and appreciation from men and journals representing all parties
in the State. For five-and-twenty years, in or out of office, his had
been the dominating influence in Dutch politics; and it was felt on
all sides that the country was the poorer for the loss of a man of
outstanding ability and genuine patriotism.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXXIV

THE LATER REIGN OF WILLIAM III, AND THE REGENCY OF
QUEEN EMMA, 1872-1898


The death of Thorbecke was the signal for a growing cleavage between the
old _doctrinaire_ school of liberals, who adhered to the principles of
1848, and the advanced liberalism of many of the younger progressive
type. To Gerrit de Vries was entrusted the duty of forming a ministry,
and he had the assistance of the former first minister, F. van de Putte.
His position was weakened by the opposition of the Catholic party, who
became alienated from the liberals, partly on the religious education
question, but more especially because their former allies refused to
protest against the Italian occupation of Rome. The election of 1873 did
not improve matters, for it left the divided liberals to face an
opposition of equal strength, whenever the conservatives,
anti-revolutionaries and Catholics acted together. This same year saw
the first phase of the war with the piratical state of Achin. An
expedition of 3600 men under General Köhler was sent out against the
defiant sultan in April, 1873, but suffered disaster, the General
himself dying of disease. A second stronger expedition under General van
Swieten was then dispatched, which was successful; and the sultan was
deposed in January, 1874. This involved heavy charges on the treasury;
and the ministry, after suffering two reverses in the Second Chamber,
resigned (June, 1874), being succeeded by a Heemskerk coalition
ministry.

Heemskerk in his former premiership had shown himself to be a clever
tactician, and for three years he managed to maintain himself in office
against the combined opposition of the advanced liberals, the
anti-revolutionaries and the Catholics. Groen van Prinsterer died in
May, 1876; and with his death the hitherto aristocratic and exclusive
party, which he had so long led, became transformed. Under its new
leader, Abraham Kuyper, it became democratised, and, by combining its
support of the religious principle in education with that of progressive
reform, was able to exercise a far wider influence in the political
sphere. Kuyper, for many years a Calvinist pastor, undertook in 1872 the
editorship of the anti-revolutionary paper, _De Standdard_. In 1874 he
was elected member for Gouda, but resigned in order to give his whole
time to journalism in the interest of the political principles to which
he now devoted his great abilities.

The Heemskerk ministry had the support of no party, but by the
opportunist skill of its chief it continued in office for three years;
no party was prepared to take its place, and "the government of the king
must be carried on." The measures that were passed in this time were
useful rather than important. An attempt to deal with primary
instruction led to the downfall of the ministry. The elections of 1877
strengthened the liberals; and, an amendment to the speech from the
throne being carried, Heemskerk resigned. His place was taken by Joannes
Kappeyne, leader of the progressive liberals. A new department of State
was now created, that of Waterways and Commerce, whose duties in a
country like Holland, covered with a net-work of dykes and canals, was
of great importance. A measure which denied State support to the
"private" schools was bitterly resisted by the anti-revolutionaries and
the Catholics, whose union in defence of religious education was from
this time forward to become closer. The outlay in connection with the
costly Achin war, which had broken out afresh, led to a considerable
deficit in the budget. In consequence of this a proposal for the
construction of some new canals was rejected by a majority of one. The
financial difficulties, which had necessitated the imposing of unpopular
taxes, had once more led to divisions in the liberal ranks; and
Kappeyne, finding that the king would not support his proposals for a
revision of the Fundamental Law, saw no course open to him but
resignation.

In these circumstances the king decided to ask an anti-revolutionary,
Count van Lynden van Sandenburg, to form a "Ministry of Affairs,"
composed of moderate men of various parties. Van Lynden had a difficult
task, but with the strong support of the king his policy of conciliation
carried him safely through four disquieting and anxious years. The
revolt of the Boers in the Transvaal against British rule caused great
excitement in Holland, and aroused much sympathy. Van Lynden was careful
to avoid any steps which might give umbrage to England, and he was
successful in his efforts. The Achin trouble was, however, still a
cause of much embarrassment. Worst of all was the series of bereavements
which at this time befell the House of Orange-Nassau. In 1877 Queen
Sophie died, affectionately remembered for her interest in art and
science, and her exemplary life. The king's brother, Henry, for thirty
years Stadholder of Luxemburg, died childless early in 1879; and shortly
afterwards in June the Prince of Orange, who had never married, passed
away suddenly at Paris. The two sons of William III's uncle Frederick
predeceased their father, whose death took place in 1881. Alexander, the
younger son of the king, was sickly and feeble-minded; and with his
decease in 1884, the male line of the House of Orange-Nassau became
extinct. Foreseeing such a possibility in January, 1879, the already
aged king took in second wedlock the youthful Princess Emma of
Waldeck-Pyrmont. Great was the joy of the Dutch people, when, on August
31, 1880, she gave birth to a princess, Wilhelmina, who became from this
time forth the hope of a dynasty, whose history for three centuries had
been bound up with that of the nation.

The Van Lynden administration, having steered its way through many
parliamentary crises for four years, was at last beaten upon a proposal
to enlarge the franchise, and resigned (February 26, 1883). To Heemskerk
was confided the formation of a coalition ministry of a neutral
character; and this experienced statesman became for the third time
first minister of the crown. The dissensions in the liberal party
converted the Second Chamber into a meeting-place of hostile factions;
and Heemskerk was better fitted than any other politician to be the head
of a government which, having no majority to support it, had to rely
upon tactful management and expediency. The rise of a socialist party
under the enthusiastic leadership of a former Lutheran pastor, Domela
Nieuwenhuis, added to the perplexities of the position. It soon became
evident that a revision of the Fundamental Law and an extension of the
franchise, which the king no longer opposed, was inevitable. Meanwhile
the death of Prince Alexander and the king's growing infirmities made it
necessary to provide, by a bill passed on August 2,1884, that Queen Emma
should become regent during her daughter's minority.

Everything conspired to beset the path of the Heemskerk ministry with
hindrances to administrative or legislative action. The bad state of the
finances (chiefly owing to the calls for the Achin war) the subdivision
of all parties into groups, the socialist agitation and the weak
health of the king, created something like a parliamentary deadlock. A
revision of the constitution became more and more pressing as the only
remedy, though no party was keenly in its favour. Certain proposals for
revision were made by the government (March, 1885), but the
anti-revolutionaries, the Catholics and the conservatives were united in
opposition, unless concessions were made in the matter of religious
education. Such concessions as were finally offered were rejected
(April, 1886), and Heemskerk offered his resignation. Baron Mackay
(anti-revolutionary) declining office, a dissolution followed. The
result of the elections, however, was inconclusive, the liberals of all
shades having a bare majority of four; but there was no change of
ministry. A more conciliatory spirit fortunately prevailed under stress
of circumstances in the new Chamber; and at last, after many debates,
the law revising the constitution was passed through both Chambers, and
approved by the king (November 30, 1887). It was a compromise measure,
and no violent changes were made. The First Chamber was to consist of 50
members, appointed by the Provincial Councils; the Second Chamber of 100
members, chosen by an electorate of male persons of not less than 25
years of age with a residential qualification and possessing "signs of
fitness and social well-being"--a vague phrase requiring future
definition. The number of electors was increased from (in round numbers)
100,000 to 350,000, but universal male suffrage, the demand of the
socialists and more advanced liberals, was not conceded.

The elections of 1888 were fought on the question of religious education
in the primary schools. The two "Christian" parties, the Calvinist
anti-revolutionaries under the leadership of Dr Kuyper, and the
Catholics, who had found a leader of eloquence and power in Dr
Schaepman, a Catholic priest, coalesced in a common programme for a
revision of Kappeyne's Education Act of 1878. The coalition obtained a
majority, 27 anti-revolutionaries and 25 Catholics being returned as
against 46 liberals of various groups. For the first time a socialist,
Domela Nieuwenhuis, was elected. The conservative party was reduced to
one member. In the First Chamber the liberals still commanded a
majority. In April, 1888, Baron Mackay, an anti-revolutionary of
moderate views, became first minister. The coalition made the revision
of the Education Act of 1878 their first business; and they obtained the
support of some liberals who were anxious to see the school question
out of the way. The so-called "Mackay Law" was passed in 1889. It
provided that "private" schools should receive State support on
condition that they conformed to the official regulations; that the
number of scholars should be not less than twenty-five; and that they
should be under the management of some body, religious or otherwise,
recognised by the State. This settlement was a compromise, but it
offered the solution of an acute controversy and was found to work
satisfactorily.

The death of King William on November 23, 1890, was much mourned by his
people. He was a man of strong and somewhat narrow views, but during his
reign of 41 years his sincere love for his country was never in doubt,
nor did he lose popularity by his anti-liberal attitude on many
occasions, for it was known to arise from honest conviction; and it was
amidst general regret that the last male representative of the House of
Orange-Nassau was laid in his grave.

A proposal by the Catholic minister Borgesius for the introduction of
universal personal military service was displeasing however to many of
his own party, and it was defeated with the help of Catholic dissidents.
An election followed, and the liberals regained a majority. A new
government was formed of a moderate progressive character, the premier
being Cornelis van Tienhoven. It was a ministry of talents, Tak van
Poortvliet (interior) and N.G. Pierson (finance) being men of marked
ability. Pierson had more success than any of his predecessors in
bringing to an end the recurring deficits in the annual balance sheet.
He imposed an income tax on all incomes above 650 florins derived from
salaries or commerce. All other sources of income were capitalised
(funds, investments, farming, etc.); and a tax was placed on all capital
above 13,000 florins. Various duties and customs were lowered, to the
advantage of trade. There was, however, a growing demand for a still
further extension of the franchise, and for an official interpretation
of that puzzling qualification of the Revision of 1889--"signs of
fitness and social well-being." Tak van Poortvliet brought in a measure
which would practically have introduced universal male suffrage, for he
interpreted the words as including all who could write and did not
receive doles from charity. This proposal, brought forward in 1893,
again split up the liberal party. The moderates under the leadership of
Samuel van Houten vigorously opposed such an increase of the electorate;
and they had the support of the more conservative anti-revolutionaries
and a large part of the Catholics. The more democratic followers of
Kuyper and Schaepman and the progressive radicals ranged themselves on
the side of Tak van Poortvliet. All parties were thus broken up into
hostile groups. The election of 1894 was contested no longer on party
lines, but between Takkians and anti-Takkians. The result was adverse to
Tak, his following only mustering 46 votes against 54 for their
opponents.

A new administration therefore came into office (May, 1894) under the
presidency of Jonkheer Johan Roëll with Van Houten as minister of the
interior. On Van Houten's shoulders fell the task of preparing a new
electoral law. His proposals were finally approved in 1896. Before this
took place the minister of finance, Spenger van Eyk, had succeeded in
relieving the treasury by the conversion of the public debt from a 3-1/2
to a 3 per cent, security. The Van Houten reform of the franchise was
very complicated, as there were six different categories of persons
entitled to exercise the suffrage: (1) payers of at least one guilder in
direct taxation; (2) householders or lodgers paying a certain minimum
rent and having a residential qualification; (3) proprietors or hirers
of vessels of 24 tons at least; (4) earners of a certain specified wage
or salary; (5) investors of 100 guilders in the public funds or of 50
guilders in a savings bank; (6) persons holding certain educational
diplomas. This very wide and comprehensive franchise raised the number
of electors to about 700,000.

The election of 1897, after first promising a victory to the more
conservative groups, ended by giving a small majority to the liberals,
the progressive section winning a number of seats, and the socialists
increasing their representation in the Chamber. A liberal-concentration
cabinet took the place of the Roell-Van Houten ministry, its leading
members being Pierson (finance) and Goeman-Borgesius (interior). For a
right understanding of the parliamentary situation at this time and
during the years that follow, a brief account of the groups and sections
of groups into which political parties in Holland were divided, must
here interrupt the narrative of events.

It has already been told that the deaths of Thorbecke and Groen
van Prinsterer led to a breaking up of the old parties and the
formation of new groups. The Education Act of 1878 brought about an
alliance of the two parties, who made the question of religious
education in the primary schools the first article of their political
programme--the anti-revolutionaries led by the ex-Calvinist pastor
Dr Abraham Kuyper and the Catholics by Dr Schaepman, a Catholic
priest. Kuyper and Schaepman were alike able journalists, and used
the press with conspicuous success for the propagation of their
views, both being advocates of social reform on democratic lines. The
anti-revolutionaries, however, did not, as a body, follow the lead of
Kuyper. An aristocratic section, whose principles were those of Groen
van Prinsterer, "orthodox" and "conservative," under the appellation of
"Historical Christians," were opposed to the democratic ideas of Kuyper,
and were by tradition anti-Catholic. Their leader was Jonkheer Savornin
Lohman. For some years there was a separate Frisian group of "Historical
Christians," but these finally amalgamated with the larger body. The
liberals meanwhile had split up into three groups: (1) the Old
Independent _(vrij)_ Liberals; (2) the Liberal Progressive Union
_(Unie van vooruitstrevende Liberalen)_; (3) Liberal-Democrats
_(vrijzinnig-democratischen Bond)_. The socialist party was a
development of the _Algemeene Nederlandsche Werklieden Verbond_ founded
in 1871. Ten years later, by the activities of the fiery agitator,
Domela Nieuwenhuis, the Social-Democratic Bond was formed; and the
socialists became a political party. The loss of Nieuwenhuis' seat in
1891 had the effect of making him abandon constitutional methods for a
revolutionary and anti-religious crusade. The result of this was a split
in the socialist party and the formation, under the leadership of
Troelstra, Van Kol and Van der Goes, of the "Social-Democratic Workmen's
Party," which aimed at promoting the welfare of the proletariat on
socialistic lines, but by parliamentary means. The followers of Domela
Nieuwenhuis, whose openly avowed principles were "the destruction of
actual social conditions by all means legal and illegal," were after
1894 known as "the Socialist Bond." This anarchical party, who took as
their motto "neither God nor master," rapidly decreased in number; their
leader, discouraged by his lack of success in 1898, withdrew finally
from the political arena; and the Socialist Bond was dissolved. This
gave an accession of strength to the "Social-Democratic Workmen's
Party," which has since the beginning of the present century gradually
acquired an increasing hold upon the electorate.

       *       *       *       *       *



CHAPTER XXXV

THE REIGN OF QUEEN WILHELMINA, 1898-1917


THE Pierson-Borgesius ministry had not been long in office when Queen
Wilhelmina attained her majority (August 31, 1898) amidst public
enthusiasm. At the same time the Queen-Mother received many expressions
of high appreciation for the admirable manner in which for eight years
she had discharged her constitutional duties. The measures passed by
this administration dealt with many subjects of importance. Personal
military service was at last, after years of controversy, enforced by
law, ecclesiastics and students alone being excepted. Attendance at
school up to the age of 13 was made obligatory, and the subsidies for
the upkeep of the schools and the payment of teachers were substantially
increased. The year 1899 was memorable for the meeting of the first
Peace Congress (on the initiative of the Tsar Nicholas II) at the _Huis
in't Bosch_. The deliberations and discussions began on May 18 and
lasted until June 29. By the irony of events, a few months later
(October 10) a war broke out, in which the Dutch people felt a great and
sympathetic interest, between the two Boer republics of South Africa and
Great Britain. Bitter feelings were aroused, and the queen did but
reflect the national sentiment when she personally received in the most
friendly manner President Krüger, who arrived in Holland as a fugitive
on board a Dutch man-of-war in the summer of 1900. The official attitude
of the government was however perfectly correct, and there was never any
breach in the relations between Great Britain and the Netherlands.

The marriage of Queen Wilhelmina, on February 7, 1901, with Prince Henry
of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was welcomed by the people, as affording hopes,
for some years to be disappointed, of the birth of an heir to the
throne.

The elections of 1901 found the liberal ministry out of favour through
the laws enforcing military service and obligatory attendance at school.
Against them the indefatigable Dr Kuyper, who had returned to active
politics in 1897, had succeeded in uniting the three "Church"
groups--the democratic anti-revolutionaries, the aristocratic Historical
Christians (both orthodox Calvinists) and the Catholics of all
sections--into a "Christian Coalition" in support of religious teaching
in the schools. The victory lay with the coalition, and Dr Kuyper became
first minister. The new administration introduced a measure on Higher
Education, which was rejected by the First Chamber. A dissolution of
this Chamber led to the majority being reversed, and the measure was
passed. Another measure revised the Mackay Law and conferred a larger
subsidy on "private" schools. The socialist party unde