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Title: Holland - The History of the Netherlands
Author: Grattan, Thomas Colley, 1792-1864
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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B.C. 50--A.D. 250

Extent of the Kingdom--Description of the People--Ancient State
of the Low Countries--Of the High Grounds--Contrasted with the
present Aspect of the Country--Expedition of Julius Cæsar--The
Belgæ--The Menapians--Batavians--Distinguished among the Auxiliaries
of Rome--Decrease of national Feeling in Part of the Country--
Steady Patriotism of the Frisons and Menapians--Commencement of
Civilization--Early Formation of the Dikes--Degeneracy of those
who became united to the Romans--Invasion of the Netherlands
by the Salian Franks.



A.D. 250--800

Character of the Franks--The Saxon Tribes--Destruction of the
Salians by a Saxon Tribe--Julian the Apostate--Victories of Clovis
in Gaul--Contrast between the Low Countries and the Provinces of
France--State of Friesland--Charles Martell--Friesland converted
to Christianity--Finally subdued by France.



A.D. 800--1000

Commencement of the Feudal System in the Highlands--Flourishing State
of the Low Countries--Counts of the Empire--Formation of the Gilden
or Trades--Establishment of popular Privileges in Friesland--In
what they consisted--Growth of Ecclesiastical Power--Baldwin of
Flanders--Created Count--Appearance of the Normans--They ravage the
Netherlands--Their Destruction, and final Disappearance--Division
of the Empire into Higher and Lower Lorraine--Establishment of
the Counts of Lorraine and Hainault--Increasing Power of the
Bishops of Liege and Utrecht--Their Jealousy of the Counts; who
resist their Encroachments.



A.D. 1018--1384

Origin of Holland--Its first Count--Aggrandizement of Flanders--Its
growing Commerce--Fisheries--Manufactures--Formation of the County
of Guelders, and of Brabant--State of Friesland--State of the
Provinces--The Crusades--Their good Effects on the State of the
Netherlands--Decline of the Feudal Power, and Growth of the Influence
of the Towns--Great Prosperity of the Country--The Flemings take
up Arms against the French--Drive them out of Bruges, and defeat
them in the Battle of Courtrai--Popular Success in Brabant--Its
Confederation with Flanders--Rebellion of Bruges against the
Count, and of Ghent under James d' Artaveldt--His Alliance with
England--His Power, and Death--Independence of Flanders--Battle
of Roosbeke--Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, obtains the
Sovereignty of Flanders.



A.D. 1384--1506

Philip succeeds to the Inheritance of Brabant--Makes War on England
as a French Prince, Flanders remaining neuter--Power of the Houses
of Burgundy and Bavaria, and Decline of Public Liberty--Union of
Holland, Hainault, and Brabant--Jacqueline, Countess of Holland and
Hainault--Flies from the Tyranny of her Husband, John of Brabant,
and takes Refuge in England--Murder of John the Fearless, Duke of
Burgundy--Accession of his Son, Philip the Good--His Policy--Espouses
the Cause of John of Brabant against Jacqueline--Deprives her
of Hainault, Holland, and Zealand--Continues his Persecution,
and despoils her of her last Possession and Titles--She marries
a Gentleman of Zealand, and Dies--Peace or Arras--Dominions of
the House of Burgundy equal to the present Extent of the Kingdom
of the Netherlands--Rebellion of Ghent--Affairs of Holland and
Zealand--Charles the Rash--His Conduct in Holland--Succeeds his
Father--Effects of Philip's Reign on the Manners of the People--
Louis XI.--Death of Charles, and Succession of Mary--Factions
among her Subjects--Marries Maximilian of Austria--Battle of
Guinegate--Death of Mary--Maximilian unpopular--Imprisoned by
his Subjects--Released--Invades the Netherlands--Succeeds to
the Imperial Throne by the Death of his Father--Philip the Fair
proclaimed Duke and Count--His wise Administration--Affairs of
Friesland--Of Guelders--Charles of Egmont--Death of Philip the



A.D. 1506--1555

Margaret of Austria invested with the Sovereignty--Her Character
and Government--Charles, Son of Philip the Fair, created Duke of
Brabant and Count of Flanders and Holland--The Reformation--Martin
Luther--Persecution of the Reformers--Battle of Pavia--Cession of
Utrecht to Charles V.--Peace of Cambray--The Anabaptists' Sedition
at Ghent--Expedition against Tunis and Algiers--Charles becomes
possessed of Friesland and Guelders--His increasing Severity
against the Protestants--His Abdication and Death--Review--Progress
of Civilization.



A.D. 1555--1566

Accession of Philip II.--His Character and Government--His Wars
with France, and with the Pope--Peace with the Pope--Battle of St.
Quentin--Battle of Gravelines--Peace of Câteau-Cambresis--Death
of Mary of England--Philip's Despotism--Establishes a Provisional
Government--Convenes the States--General at Ghent--His Minister
Granvelle--Goes to Zealand--Embarks for Spain--Prosperity revives--
Effects of the Provisional Government--Marguerite of Palma--
Character of Granvelle--Viglius de Berlaimont--Departure of the
spanish Troops--Clergy--Bishops--National Discontent--Granvelle
appointed Cardinal--Edict against Heresy--Popular Indignation--
Reformation--State of Brabant--Confederacy against Granvelle--
Prince of Orange--Counts Egmont and Horn join the Prince against
Granvelle--Granvelle recalled--Council of Trent--Its Decrees
received with Reprobation--Decrees against Reformers--Philip's
Bigotry--Establishment of the Inquisition--Popular Resistance.



A.D. 1566

Commencement of the Revolution--Defence of the Prince of
Orange--Confederacy of the Nobles--Louis of Nassau--De
Brederode--Philip de St. Aldegonde--Assembly of the Council of
State--Confederates enter Brussels--Take the Title of _Gueux_--Quit
Brussels, and disperse in the Provinces--Measures of Government--
Growing Power of the Confederates--Progress of the Reformation--
Field Preaching--Herman Stricker--Boldness of the Protestants--
Peter Dathen--Ambrose Ville--Situation of Antwerp--The Prince
repairs to it, and saves it--Meeting of the Confederates at St.
Trond---The Prince of Orange and Count Egmont treat with them--
Tyranny of Philip and Moderation of the Spanish Council--Image
Breakers--Destruction of the Cathedral, of Antwerp--Terror of
Government--Firmness of Viglius--Arbitration between the Court
and the People--Concessions made by Government--Restoration of



A.D. 1566--1573

Philip's Vindictiveness and Hypocrisy--Progress of
Protestantism--Gradual Dissolution of the Conspiracy--Artifices
of Philip and the Court to disunite the Protestants--Firmness of
the Prince of Orange--Conference at Termonde--Egmont abandons
the Patriot Cause--Fatal Effects of his Conduct--Commencement
of Hostilities--Siege of Valenciennes--Protestant Synod at
Antwerp--Haughty Conduct of the Government--Royalists Repulsed
at Bois-le-duc--Battle of Osterweel, and Defeat of the
Patriots--Antwerp again saved by the Firmness and Prudence of
the Prince of Orange--Capitulation of Valenciennes--Success of
the Royalists--Death of De Brederode--New Oath of Allegiance;
Refused by the Prince of Orange and others--The Prince resolves
on voluntary Banishment, and departs for Germany--His Example is
followed by the Lords--Extensive Emigration--Arrival of the Duke of
Orleans--Egmont's Humiliation--Alva's Powers--Arrest of Egmont and
others---Alva's first Acts of Tyranny--Council of Blood--Recall of
the Government--Alva's Character--He summons the Prince of Orange,
who is tried by Contumacy--Horrors committed by Alva--Desolate State
of the Country--Trial and Execution of Egmont and Horn--The Prince
of Orange raises an Army in Germany, and opens his first Campaign
in the Netherlands--Battle of Heiligerlee--Death of Adolphus of
Nassau--Battle of Jemminghem--Success and skilful Conduct of
Alva--Dispersion of the Prince of Orange's Army--Growth of the naval
Power of the Patriots--Inundation in Holland and Friesland--Alva
reproached by Philip--Duke of Medina-Celi appointed Governor--Is
attacked, and his fleet destroyed by the Patriots--Demands his
Recall--Policy of the English Queen, Elizabeth--The Dutch take
Brille--General Revolt in Holland and Zealand--New Expedition of
the Prince of Orange--Siege of Mons--Success of the Prince--Siege
of Haarlem--Of Alkmaer--Removal of Alva--Don Luis Zanega y Requesens
appointed Governor-General.



A.D. 1573--1576

Character of Requesens--His conciliating Conduct--Renews the
War against the States--Siege of Middleburg--Generosity of the
Prince of Orange--Naval Victory--State of Flanders--Count Louis of
Nassau--Battle of Mookerheyde--Counts Louis and Henry slain--Mutiny
of the Spanish Troops--Siege of Leyden--Negotiations for Peace at
Breda--The Spaniards take Zuriczee--Requesens dies--The Government
devolves on the Council of State--Miserable State of the Country,
and Despair of the Patriots--Spanish Mutineers--The States-General
are convoked, and the Council arrested by the Grand Bailiff of
Brabant--The Spanish Mutineers sack and capture Maestricht, and
afterward Antwerp--The States-General assemble at Ghent and assume
the Government--The Pacification of Ghent.



A.D. 1576--1580

Don John of Austria, Governor-General, arrives in the
Netherlands--His Character and Conduct--The States send an Envoy
to Elizabeth of England--She advances them a Loan of Money--The
Union of Brussels--The Treaty of Marche-en-Famenne, called the
Perpetual Edict--The impetuous Conduct of Don John excites the
public Suspicion--He seizes on the Citadel of Namur--The Prince
of Orange is named Protector of Brabant--The People destroy the
Citadels of Antwerp and other Towns--The Duke of Arschot is named
Governor of Flanders--He invites the Archduke Mathias to accept
the Government of the Netherlands--Wise Conduct of the Prince of
Orange--Ryhove and Hembyse possess themselves of supreme Power at
Ghent--The Prince of Orange goes there and establishes Order--The
Archduke Mathias is installed--The Prince of Parma arrives in
the Netherlands, and gains the Battle of Gemblours--Confusion
of the States-General--The Duke of Alencon comes to their
Assistance--Dissensions among the Patriot Chiefs--Death of Don
John of Austria--Suspicions of his having been Poisoned by Order of
Philip II.--The Prince of Parma is declared Governor-General--The
Union of Utrecht--The Prince of Parma takes the Field--The Congress
of Cologne rendered fruitless by the Obstinacy of Philip--The
States-General assemble at Antwerp, and issue a Declaration of
National Independence--The Sovereignty of the Netherlands granted
to the Duke of Alencon.



A.D. 1580--1584

Proscription of the Prince of Orange--His celebrated Apology--Philip
proposes sending back the Duchess of Parma as Stadtholderess--Her
son refuses to act jointly with her, and is left in the exercise
of his Power--The Siege of Cambray undertaken by the Prince of
Parma, and gallantly defended by the Princess of Epinoi--The
Duke of Alencon created Duke of Anjou--Repairs to England, in
hopes of marrying Queen Elizabeth--He returns to the Netherlands
unsuccessful, and is inaugurated at Antwerp--The Prince of Orange
desperately wounded by an Assassin--Details on John Jaureguay
and his Accomplices--The People suspect the French of the Crime--
Rapid Recovery of the Prince, who soon resumes his accustomed
Activity--Violent Conduct of the Duke of Anjou, who treacherously
attempts to seize on Antwerp--He is defeated by the Townspeople--
His Disgrace and Death--Ungenerous Suspicions of the People against
the Prince of Orange, who leaves Flanders in Disgust--Treachery
of the Prince of Chimay and others--Treason of Hembyse--He is
executed at Ghent--The States resolve to confer the Sovereignty
on the Prince of Orange--He is murdered at Delft--Parallel between
him and the Admiral Coligny--Execution of Balthazar Gerard, his
Assassin--Complicity of the Prince of Parma.



A.D. 1584--1592

Effects of William's Death on the History of his Country--Firm
Conduct of the United Provinces--They reject the Overtures of
the Prince of Parma--He reduces the whole of Flanders--Deplorable
Situation of the Country--Vigorous Measures of the Northern
States--Antwerp besieged--Operations of the Siege--Immense Exertions
of the Besiegers--The Infernal Machine--Battle on the Dike of
Couvestien--Surrender of Antwerp--Extravagant Joy of Philip II.--The
United Provinces solicit the Aid of France and England--Elizabeth
sends them a supply of Troops under the Earl of Leicester--He returns
to England--Treachery of some English and Scotch Officers--Prince
Maurice commences his Career--The Spanish Armada--Justin of Nassau
blocks up the Prince of Parma in the Flemish Ports--Ruin of the
Armada--Philip's Mock Piety on hearing the News--Leicester
dies--Exploits and Death of Martin Schenck--Breda surprised--The
Duke of Parma leads his Army into France--His famous Retreat--His
Death and Character.



A.D. 1592--1599

Count Mansfield named Governor-General--State of Flanders and
Brabant--The Archduke Ernest named Governor-General--Attempts
against the Life of Prince Maurice--He takes Groningen--Death of
the Archduke Ernest--Count Fuentes named Governor-General--He takes
Cambray and other Towns--Is soon replaced by the Archduke Albert
of Austria--His high Reputation--He opens his first Campaign in
the Netherlands--His Successes--Prince Maurice gains the Battle
of Turnhout--Peace of Vervins--Philip yields the Sovereignty of
the Netherlands to Albert and Isabella--A new Plot against the
Life of Prince Maurice--Albert sets out for Spain, and receives
the News of Philip's Death--Albert arrives in Spain, and solemnizes
his Marriage with the Infanta Isabella--Review of the State of
the Netherlands.



A.D. 1599--1604

Cardinal Andrew of Austria Governor--Francisco Mendoza, Admiral
of Aragon, invades the neutral States of Germany--His atrocious
Conduct--Prince Maurice takes the Field--His masterly
Movements--Sybilla of Cleves raises an Army, which is, quickly
destroyed--Great Exertions of the States-General--Naval Expedition
under Vander Goes--Its complete Failure--Critical Situation of the
United Provinces--Arrival of the Archduke in Brussels--Success
of Prince Maurice--His Expedition into Flanders--Energy of the
Archduke--Heroism of Isabella--Progress of Albert's Army--Its
first Success--Firmness of Maurice--The Battle of Nieuport--Total
Defeat of the Royalists--Consequences of the Victory--Prince
Maurice returns to Holland--Negotiations for Peace--Siege of
Ostend--Death of Elizabeth of England--United Provinces send
Ambassadors to James I.--Successful Negotiations of Barneveldt
and the Duke of Sully in London--Peace between England and
Spain--Brilliant Campaign between Spinola and Prince Maurice--Battle
of Roeroord--Naval Transactions--Progress of Dutch Influence in
India--Establishment of the East India Company.



A.D. 1600--1619

Spinola proposes to invade the United Provinces--Successfully
opposed by Prince Maurice--The Dutch defeated at Sea--Desperate
Conduct of Admiral Klagoon--Great naval Victory of the Dutch,
and Death of their Admiral Heemskirk--Overtures of the Archdukes
for Peace--How received in Holland--Prudent Conduct of
Barneveldt--Negotiations opened at The Hague--John de Neyen,
Ambassador for the Archdukes--Armistice for Eight Months--Neyen
attempts to bribe D'Aarsens, the Greffier of the States-General--His
Conduct disclaimed by Verreiken, Counsellor to the Archdukes--Great
Prejudices in Holland against King James I. and the English,
and Partiality toward France--Rupture of the Negotiations--They
are renewed--Truce for Twelve Years signed at Antwerp--Gives
great Satisfaction in the Netherlands--Important Attitude of
the United Provinces--Conduct of the Belgian Provinces--Disputes
relative to Cleves and Juviers--Prince Maurice and Spinola remove
their Armies into the contested states--Intestine Troubles in
the United Provinces--Assassination of Henry IV. of France--His
Character--Change in Prince Maurice's Character and Conduct--He
is strenuously opposed by Barneveldt--Religious Disputes--King
James enters the Lists of Controversy--Barneveldt and Maurice
take Opposite sides--The cautionary Towns released from the
Possession of England--Consequences of this Event--Calumnies
against Barneveldt--Ambitious Designs of Prince Maurice--He is
baffled by Barneveldt--The Republic assists its Allies with Money
and Ships--Its great naval Power--Outrages of some Dutch Sailors in
Ireland--Unresented by King James--His Anger at the manufacturing
Prosperity of the United Provinces--Excesses of the Gomarists--The
Magistrates call out the National Militia--Violent Conduct of
Prince Maurice--Uncompromising Steadiness of Barneveldt--Calumnies
against him--Maurice succeeds to the Title of Prince of Orange,
and Acts with increasing Violence--Arrest of Barneveldt and his
Friends--Synod of Dort--Its Consequences--Trial, Condemnation,
and Execution of Barneveldt--Grotius and Hoogerbeets sentenced
to perpetual Imprisonmemt--Ledenburg commits Suicide.



A.D. 1619--1625

The Parties Of Arminianism quite subdued--Emigrations--Grotius
resolves to attempt an Escape from Prison--Succeeds in his
Attempt--He repairs to Paris, and publishes his "Apology"--Expiration
of the Twelve Years' Truce--Death of Philip III. And of the Archduke
Albert--War in Germany--Campaign between Prince Maurice and
Spinola--Conspiracy against the Life of Prince Maurice--Its
Failure--Fifteen of the Conspirators executed--Great Unpopularity
of Maurice--Death of Maurice.



A.D. 1625--1648

Frederick Henry succeeds his Brother--Charles I. King of England--War
between France and England--Victories of Admiral Hein--Brilliant
Success of Frederick Henry--Fruitless Enterprise in Flanders--Death
of the Archduchess Isabella--Confederacy in Brabant--Its Failure,
and Arrest of the Nobles--Ferdinand, Prince-Cardinal,
Governor-General--Treaty between France and Holland--Battle of
Avein--Naval Affairs--Battle of the Downs--Van Tromp--Negotiations
for the Marriage of Prince William with the Princess Mary of
England--Death of the Prince-Cardinal--Don Francisco de Mello
Governor-General--Battle of Rocroy--Gallantry of Prince
William--Death of Cardinal Richelieu and of Louis XIII.--English
Politics--Affairs of Germany--Negotiations for Peace--Financial
Embarrassment of the Republic--The Republic negotiates with
Spain--Last Exploits of Frederick Henry--His Death, and
Character--William II. Stadtholder--Peace of Munster--Resentment
of Louis XIII.--Peace of Westphalia--Review of the Progress of
Art, Science, and Manners--Literature-- Painting--Engraving--



A.D. 1648--1678

State of the Republic after the Peace of Munster--State of
England--William II. Stadtholder--His ambitious Designs and Violent
Conduct--Attempts to seize on Amsterdam--His Death--Different
Sensations caused by his Death--The Prerogatives of the Stadtholder
assumed by the People--Naval War with England--English Act of
Navigation--Irish Hostilities--Death of Tromp--A Peace with
England--Disturbed State of the Republic--War with Denmark--Peace
concluded--Charles II. restored to the English Throne--Declares
War against Holland--Naval Actions--Charles endeavors to excite all
Europe against the Dutch--His Failure--Renewed Hostilities--De Ruyter
defeated--Peace of Breda--Invasion of Flanders by Louis XIV.--He
overruns Brabant and Flanders--Triple League, 1668--Perfidious
Conduct of Charles II.--He declares War against Holland, etc.,
as does Louis XIV.--Unprepared State of United Provinces--William
III. Prince of Orange--Appointed Captain-General and High
Admiral--Battle of Solebay--The French Invade the Republic--The
States-General implore Peace--Terms demanded by Louis XIV. and
by Charles II.--Desperation of the Dutch--The Prince of Orange
proclaimed Stadtholder--Massacre of the De Witts--Fine Conduct of
the Prince of Orange--He takes the Field--Is reinforced by Spain,
the Emperor, and Brandenburg--Louis XIV. forced to abandon his
Conquests--Naval Actions with the English--A Peace, 1674--Military
Affairs--Battle of Senef--Death of De Ruyter--Congress for Peace
at Nimeguen--Battle of Mont Cassel--Marriage of the Prince of
Orange--Peace of Nimeguen.



A.D. 1678--1713

State of Europe subsequently to the Peace of Nimeguen--Arrogant
Conduct of Louis XIV.--Truce for Twenty Years--Death of Charles
II. of England--League of Augsburg--The Conduct of William--He
invades England--James II. Deposed--William III. proclaimed King of
England--King William puts himself at the Head of the Confederacy
against Louis XIV., and enters on the War--Military Operations--Peace
of Ryswyk--Death of Charles II. of Spain--War of Succession--Death
of William III.--His Character--Duke of Marlborough--Prince
Eugene--Successes of the Earl of Peterborough in Spain and
Portugal--Louis XIV. solicits Peace--Conferences for Peace--Peace
of Utrecht--Treaty of the Barrier.



A.D. 1713--1794

Quadruple Alliance--General Peace of Europe--Wise Conduct of the
Republic--Great Danger from the bad State of the Dikes--Death
of the Emperor Charles VI.--Maria Theresa Empress--Her heroic
Conduct--Battle of Dettingen--Louis XV. invades the
Netherlands--Conferences for Peace at Breda--Battle of
Fontenoy--William IV. Stadtholder and Captain-General--Peace of
Aix-la-Chapelle--Death of the Stadtholder, who is succeeded by his
Son William V.--War of Seven Years--State of the Republic--William
V. Stadtholder--Dismemberment of Poland--Joseph II. Emperor--His
attempted Reforms in Religion--War with England--Sea-Fight on
the Doggerbank--Peace with England, 1784--Progress of Public
Opinion in Europe, in Belgium, and Holland--Violent Opposition
to the Stadtholder--Arrest of the Princess of Orange--Invasion
of Holland by the Prussian Army--Agitation in Belgium--Vander
Noot--Prince Albert of Saxe-Teschen and the Archduchess Maria
Theresa joint Governors-General--Succeeded by Count
Murray--Riots--Meetings of the Provisional States--General
Insurrection--Vonckists--Vander Mersch--Takes the Command of
the Insurgents--His Skilful Conduct--He gains the Battle of
Turnhout--Takes Possession of Flanders--Confederation of the
Belgian Provinces--Death of Joseph II.--Leopold Emperor--Arrest
of Vander Mersch--Arrogance of the States-General of Belgium--The
Austrians overrun the Country--Convention at The Hague--Death
of Leopold--Battle of Jemmappes--General Dumouriez--Conquest of
Belgium by the French--Recovered by the Austrians--The Archduke
Charles Governor-General--War in the Netherlands--Duke of York--The
Emperor Francis--The Battle of Fleurus--Incorporation of Belgium
with the French Republic--Peace of Leoben--Treaty of Campo-Formio.



A.D. 1794--1818

Pichegru invades Holland--Winter Campaign--The Duke of York vainly
resists the French Army--Abdication of the Stadtholder--Batavian
Republic--War with England--Unfortunate Situation of Holland--Naval
Fight--English Expedition to the Helder--Napoleon Bonaparte--Louis
Bonaparte named King of Holland--His popular Conduct--He abdicates
the Throne--Annexation of Holland to the French Empire--Ruinous
to the Prosperity of the Republic--The people desire the Return
of the Prince of Orange--Confederacy to effect this Purpose--The
Allied Armies advance toward Holland--The Nation rises to throw
off the Yoke of France--Count Styrum and his Associates lead
on that Movement, and proclaim the Prince of Orange, who lands
from England--His first Proclamation--His second Proclamation.



A.D. 1813--1815

Rapid Organization of Holland--The Constitution formed--Accepted by
the People--Objections made to it by some Individuals--Inauguration
of the Prince-Sovereign--Belgium is occupied by the Allies--Treaty
of Paris--Treaty of London--Formation of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands--Basis of the Government--Relative Character and
Situation of Holland and Belgium--The Prince-Sovereign of Holland
arrives in Belgium as Governor-General--The fundamental Law--Report
of the Commissioners by whom it was framed--Public Feeling in
Holland, and in Belgium--The Emperor Napoleon invades France,
and Belgium--The Prince of Orange takes the Field--The Duke of
Wellington--Prince Blucher--Battle of Ligny--Battle of Quatre
Bras--Battle of Waterloo--Anecdote of the Prince of Orange, who
is wounded--Inauguration of the King.




  The Duke of Alva Deposes Margaret of Parma.

  Storming the Barricades at Brussels During the Revolution of 1848.

  William the Silent of Orange.

  A Holland Beauty.



B.C. 50--A.D. 200

The Netherlands form a kingdom of moderate extent, situated on
the borders of the ocean, opposite to the southeast coast of
England, and stretching from the frontiers of France to those
of Hanover. The country is principally composed of low and humid
grounds, presenting a vast plain, irrigated by the waters from
all those neighboring states which are traversed by the Rhine,
the Meuse, and the Scheldt. This plain, gradually rising toward
its eastern and southern extremities, blends on the one hand
with Prussia, and on the other with France. Having, therefore,
no natural or strongly marked limits on those sides, the extent
of the kingdom could only be determined by convention; and it must
be at all times subject to the arbitrary and varying influence
of European policy. Its greatest length, from north to south, is
about two hundred and twenty English miles; and its breadth,
from east to west, is nearly one hundred and forty.

Two distinct kinds of men inhabit this kingdom. The one occupying
the valleys of the Meuse and the Scheldt, and the high grounds
bordering on France, speak a dialect of the language of that
country, and evidently belong to the Gallic race. They are called
Walloons, and are distinguished from the others by many peculiar
qualities. Their most prominent characteristic is a propensity
for war, and their principal source of subsistence the working
of their mines. They form nearly one-fourth of the population of
the whole kingdom, or about one million three hundred thousand
persons. All the rest of the nation speak Low German, in its
modifications of Dutch and Flemish; and they offer the distinctive
characteristics of the Saxon race--talents for agriculture,
navigation, and commerce; perseverance rather than vivacity;
and more courage than taste for the profession of arms. They
are subdivided into Flemings--those who were the last to submit
to the House of Austria; and Dutch--those who formed the republic
of the United Provinces. But there is no difference between these
two subdivisions, except such as has been produced by political
and religious institutions. The physical aspect of the people
is the same; and the soil, equally law and moist, is at once
fertilized and menaced by the waters.

The history of this last-mentioned portion of the nation is
completely linked to that of the soil which they occupy. In remote
times, when the inhabitants of this plain were few and uncivilized,
the country formed but one immense morass, of which the chief
part was incessantly inundated and made sterile by the waters of
the sea. Pliny the naturalist, who visited the northern coasts,
has left us a picture of their state in his days. "There," says
he, "the ocean pours in its flood twice every day, and produces
a perpetual uncertainty whether the country may be considered as
a part of the continent or of the sea. The wretched inhabitants
take refuge on the sand-hills, or in little huts, which they
construct on the summits of lofty stakes, whose elevation is
conformable to that of the highest tides. When the sea rises,
they appear like navigators; when it retires, they seem as though
they had been shipwrecked. They subsist on the fish left by the
refluent waters, and which they catch in nets formed of rushes
or seaweed. Neither tree nor shrub is visible on these shores.
The drink of the people is rain-water, which they preserve with
great care; their fuel, a sort of turf, which they gather and
form with the hand. And yet these unfortunate beings dare to
complain against their fate, when they fall under the power and
are incorporated with the empire of Rome!"

The picture of poverty and suffering which this passage presents
is heightened when joined to a description of the country. The
coasts consisted only of sand-banks or slime, alternately overflowed
or left imperfectly dry. A little further inland, trees were
to be found, but on a soil so marshy that an inundation or a
tempest threw down whole forests, such as are still at times
discovered at either eight or ten feet depth below the surface.
The sea had no limits; the rivers no beds nor banks; the earth
no solidity; for according to an author of the third century
of our era, there was not, in the whole of too immense plain,
a spot of ground that did not yield under the footsteps of

It was not the same in the southern parts, which form at present
the Walloon country. These high grounds suffered much less from
the ravages of the waters. The ancient forest of the Ardennes,
extending from the Rhine to the Scheldt, sheltered a numerous though
savage population, which in all things resembled the Germans, from
whom they derived their descent. The chase and the occupations of
rude agriculture sufficed for the wants of a race less poor and
less patient, but more unsteady and ambitious, than the fishermen
of the low lands. Thus it is that history presents us with a
tribe of warriors and conquerors on the southern frontier of
the country; while the scattered inhabitants of the remaining
parts seemed to have fixed there without a contest, and to have
traced out for themselves, by necessity and habit, an existence
which any other people must have considered insupportable.

This difference in the nature of the soil and in the fate of the
inhabitants appears more striking when we consider the present
situation of the country. The high grounds, formerly so preferable,
are now the least valuable part of the kingdom, even as regards
their agriculture; while the ancient marshes have been changed
by human industry into rich and fertile tracts, the best parts
of which are precisely those conquered from the grasp of the
ocean. In order to form an idea of the solitude and desolation
which once reigned where we now see the most richly cultivated
fields, the most thriving villages, and the wealthiest towns
of the continent, the imagination must go back to times which
have not left one monument of antiquity and scarcely a vestige
of fact.

The history of the Netherlands is, then, essentially that of
a patient and industrious population struggling against every
obstacle which nature could oppose to its well-being; and, in
this contest, man triumphed most completely over the elements
in those places where they offered the greatest resistance. This
extraordinary result was due to the hardy stamp of character
imprinted by suffering and danger on those who had the ocean for
their foe; to the nature of their country, which presented no
lure for conquest; and, finally, to the toleration, the justice,
and the liberty nourished among men left to themselves, and who
found resources in their social state which rendered change neither
an object of their wants nor wishes.

About half a century before the Christian era, the obscurity
which enveloped the north of Europe began to disperse; and the
expedition of Julius Cæsar gave to the civilized world the first
notions of the Netherlands, Germany, and England. Cæsar, after
having subjugated the chief part of Gaul, turned his arms against
the warlike tribes of the Ardennes, who refused to accept his
alliance or implore his protection. They were called Belgæ by
the Romans; and at once pronounced the least civilized and the
bravest of the Gauls. Cæsar there found several ignorant and poor
but intrepid clans of warriors, who marched fiercely to encounter
him; and, notwithstanding their inferiority in numbers, in weapons,
and in tactics, they nearly destroyed the disciplined armies of
Rome. They were, however, defeated, and their country ravaged
by the invaders, who found less success when they attacked the
natives of the low grounds. The Menapians, a people who occupied
the present provinces of Flanders and Antwerp, though less numerous
than those whom the Romans had last vanquished, arrested their
progress both by open fight and by that petty and harassing
contest--that warfare of the people rather than of the soldiery--so
well adapted to the nature of the country. The Roman legions
retreated for the first time, and were contented to occupy the
higher parts, which now form the Walloon provinces.

But the policy of Cæsar made greater progress than his arms. He
had rather defeated than subdued those who had dared the contest.
He consolidated his victories without new battles; he offered peace
to his enemies, in proposing to them alliance; and he required
their aid, as friends, to carry on new wars in other lands. He
thus attracted toward him, and ranged under his banners, not only
those people situated to the west of the Rhine and the Meuse,
but several other nations more to the north, whose territory he
had never seen; and particularly the Batavians--a valiant tribe,
stated by various ancient authors, and particularly by Tacitus,
as a fraction of the Catti, who occupied the space comprised
between these rivers. The young men of these warlike people, dazzled
by the splendor of the Roman armies, felt proud and happy in
being allowed to identify themselves with them. Cæsar encouraged
this disposition, and even went so far on some occasions as to
deprive the Roman cavalry of their horses, on which he mounted
those new allies, who managed them better than their Italian
riders. He had no reason to repent these measures; almost all
his subsequent victories, and particularly that of Pharsalia,
being decided by the valor of the auxiliaries he obtained from
the Low Countries.

These auxiliaries were chiefly drawn from Hainault, Luxemburg,
and the country of the Batavians, and they formed the best cavalry
of the Roman armies, as well as their choicest light infantry
force. The Batavians also signalized themselves on many occasions,
by the skill with which they swam across several great rivers
without breaking their squadrons ranks. They were amply rewarded
for their military services and hazardous exploits, and were treated
like stanch and valuable allies. But this unequal connection of
a mighty empire with a few petty states must have been fatal to
the liberty of the weaker party. Its first effect was to destroy
all feeling of nationality in a great portion of the population.
The young adventurer of this part of the Low Countries, after
twenty years of service under the imperial eagles, returned to
his native wilds a Roman. The generals of the empire pierced
the forests of the Ardennes with causeways, and founded towns
in the heart of the country. The result of such innovations was
a total amalgamation of the Romans and their new allies; and
little by little the national character of the latter became
entirely obliterated. But to trace now the precise history of
this gradual change would be as impossible as it will be one
day to follow the progress of civilization in the woods of North

But it must be remarked that this metamorphosis affected only
the inhabitants of the high grounds, and the Batavians (who were
in their origin Germans) properly so called. The scanty population
of the rest of the country, endowed with that fidelity to their
ancient customs which characterizes the Saxon race, showed no
tendency to mix with foreigner, rarely figured in their ranks,
and seemed to revolt from the southern refinement which was so
little in harmony with their manners and ways of life. It is
astonishing, at the first view, that those beings, whose whole
existence was a contest against famine or the waves, should show
less inclination than their happier neighbors to receive from
Rome an abundant recompense for their services. But the greater
their difficulty to find subsistence in their native land, the
stronger seemed their attachment; like that of the Switzer to
his barren rocks, or of the mariner to the frail and hazardous
home that bears him afloat on the ocean. This race of patriots
was divided into two separate peoples. Those to the north of
the Rhine were the Frisons; those to the west of the Meuse, the
Menapians, already mentioned.

The Frisons differed little from those early inhabitants of the
coast, who, perched on their high-built huts, fed on fish and
drank the water of the clouds. Slow and successive improvements
taught them to cultivate the beans which grew wild among the
marshes, and to tend and feed a small and degenerate breed of
horned cattle. But if these first steps toward civilization were
slow, they were also sure; and they were made by a race of men
who could never retrograde in a career once begun.

The Menapians, equally repugnant to foreign impressions, made, on
their part, a more rapid progress. They were already a maritime
people, and carried on a considerable commerce with England. It
appears that they exported thither salt, the art of manufacturing
which was well known to them; and they brought back in return
marl, a most important commodity for the improvement of their
land. They also understood the preparation of salting meat, with
a perfection that made it in high repute even in Italy; and,
finally, we are told by Ptolemy that they had established a colony
on the eastern coast of Ireland, not far from Dublin.

The two classes of what forms at present the population of the
Netherlands thus followed careers widely different, during the
long period of the Roman power in these parts of Europe. While
those of the high lands and the Batavians distinguished themselves
by a long-continued course of military service or servitude, those
of the plains improved by degrees their social condition, and fitted
themselves for a place in civilized Europe. The former received
from Rome great marks of favor in exchange for their freedom.
The latter, rejecting the honors and distinctions lavished on
their neighbors, secured their national independence, by trusting
to their industry alone for all the advantages they gradually

Were the means of protecting themselves and their country from
the inundations of the sea known and practiced by these ancient
inhabitants of the coast? or did they occupy only those elevated
points of land which stood out like islands in the middle of the
floods? These questions are among the most important presented
by their history; since it was the victorious struggle of man
against the ocean that fixed the extent and form of the country.
It appears almost certain that in the time of Cæsar they did not
labor at the construction of dikes, but that they began to be
raised during the obscurity of the following century; for the
remains of ancient towns are even now discovered in places at
present overflowed by the sea. These ruins often bring to light
traces of Roman construction, and Latin inscriptions in honor
of the Menapian divinities. It is, then, certain that they had
learned to imitate those who ruled in the neighboring countries: a
result by no means surprising; for even England, the mart of their
commerce, and the nation with which they had the most constant
intercourse, was at that period occupied by the Romans. But the
nature of their country repulsed so effectually every attempt at
foreign domination that the conquerors of the world left them
unmolested, and established arsenals and formed communications
with Great Britain only at Boulogne and in the island of the
Batavians near Leyden.

This isolation formed in itself a powerful and perfect barrier
between the inhabitants of the plain and those of the high grounds.
The first held firm to their primitive customs and their ancient
language; the second finished by speaking Latin, and borrowing
all the manners and usages of Italy. The moral effect of this
contrast was that the people, once so famous for their bravery,
lost, with their liberty, their energy and their courage. One of
the Batavian chieftains, named Civilis, formed an exception to
this degeneracy, and, about the year 70 of our era, bravely took
up arms for the expulsion of the Romans. He effected prodigies of
valor and perseverance, and boldly met and defeated the enemy
both by land and sea. Reverses followed his first success, and he
finally concluded an honorable treaty, by which his countrymen
once more became the allies of Rome. But after this expiring effort
of valor, the Batavians, even though chosen from all nations for
the bodyguards of the Roman emperors, became rapidly degenerate;
and when Tacitus wrote, ninety years after Christ, they were
already looked on as less brave than the Frisons and the other
peoples beyond the Rhine. A century and a half later saw them
confounded with the Gauls; and the barbarian conquerors said
that "they were not a nation, but merely a _prey_."

Reduced into a Roman province, the southern portion of the
Netherlands was at this period called Belgic Gaul; and the name
of Belgium, preserved to our days, has until lately been applied
to distinguish that part of the country situated to the south of
the Rhine and the Meuse, or nearly that which formed the Austrian

During the establishment of the Roman power in the north of Europe,
observation was not much excited toward the rapid effects of this
degeneracy, compared with the fast-growing vigor of the people of
the low lands. The fact of the Frisons having, on one occasion,
near the year 47 of our era, beaten a whole army of Romans, had
confirmed their character for intrepidity. But the long stagnation
produced in these remote countries by the colossal weight of
the empire was broken, about the year 250, by an irruption of
Germans or Salian Franks, who, passing the Rhine and the Meuse,
established themselves in the vicinity of the Menapians, near
Antwerp, Breda and Bois-le-duc. All the nations that had been
subjugated by the Roman power appear to have taken arms on this
occasion and opposed the intruders. But the Menapians united
themselves with these newcomers, and aided them to meet the shock
of the imperial armies. Carausius, originally a Menapian pilot,
but promoted to the command of a Roman fleet, made common cause
with his fellow-citizens, and proclaimed himself emperor of Great
Britain, where the naval superiority of the Menapians left him
no fear of a competitor. In recompense of the assistance given
him by the Franks, he crossed the sea again from his new empire,
to aid them in their war with the Batavians, the allies of Rome;
and having seized on their islands, and massacred nearly the whole
of its inhabitants, he there established his faithful friends the
Salians. Constantius and his son Constantine the Great vainly
strove, even after the death of the brave Carausius, to regain
possession of the country; but they were forced to leave the
new inhabitants in quiet possession of their conquest.



A.D. 250--800

From this epoch we must trace the progress of a totally new and
distinct population in the Netherlands. The Batavians being
annihilated, almost without resistance, the low countries contained
only the free people of the German race. But these people did not
completely sympathize together so as to form one consolidated
nation. The Salians, and the other petty tribes of Franks, their
allies, were essentially warlike, and appeared precisely the same
as the original inhabitants of the high grounds. The Menapians
and the Frisons, on the contrary, lost nothing of their spirit
of commerce and industry. The result of this diversity was a
separation between the Franks and the Menapians. While the latter,
under the name of Armoricans, joined themselves more closely
with the people who bordered the Channel, the Frisons associated
themselves with the tribes settled on the limits of the German
Ocean, and formed with them a connection celebrated under the
title of the Saxon League. Thus was formed on all points a union
between the maritime races against the inland inhabitants; and
their mutual antipathy became more and more developed as the
decline of the Roman empire ended the former struggle between
liberty and conquest.

The Netherlands now became the earliest theatre of an entirely
new movement, the consequences of which were destined to affect
the whole world. This country was occupied toward the sea by
a people wholly maritime, excepting the narrow space between
the Rhine and the Vahal, of which the Salian Franks had become
possessed. The nature of this marshy soil, in comparison with the
sands of Westphalia, Guelders, and North Brabant, was not more
strikingly contrasted than was the character of their population.
The Franks, who had been for a while under the Roman sway, showed
a compound of the violence of savage life and the corruption
of civilized society. They were covetous and treacherous, but
made excellent soldiers; and at this epoch, which intervened
between the power of imperial Rome and that of Germany, the Frank
might be morally considered as a borderer on the frontiers of the
Middle Ages. The Saxon (and this name comprehends all the tribes
of the coast from the Rhine as far north as Denmark), uniting in
himself the distinctive qualities of German and navigator, was
moderate and sincere, but implacable in his rage. Neither of
these two races of men was excelled in point of courage; but
the number of Franks who still entered into the service of the
empire diminished the real force of this nation, and naturally
tended to disunite it. Therefore, in the subsequent shock of
people against people, the Saxons invariably gained the final

They had no doubt often measured their strength in the most remote
times, since the Franks were but the descendants of the ancient
tribes of Sicambers and others, against whom the Batavians had
offered their assistance to Cæsar. Under Augustus, the inhabitants
of the coast had in the same way joined themselves with Drusus,
to oppose these their old enemies. It was also after having been
expelled by the Frisons from Guelders that the Salians had passed
the Rhine and the Meuse; but, in the fourth century, the two
peoples, recovering their strength, the struggle recommenced,
never to terminate--at least between the direct descendants of
each. It is believed that it was the Varni, a race of Saxons
nearly connected with those of England (and coming, like them,
from the coast of Denmark), who on this occasion struck the decisive
blow on the side of the Saxons. Embarking on board a numerous
fleet, they made a descent in the ancient isle of the Batavians,
at that time inhabited by the Salians, whom they completely
destroyed. Julian the Apostate, who was then with a numerous
army pursuing his career of early glory in these countries,
interfered for the purpose of preventing the expulsion, or at
least the utter destruction, of the vanquished; but his efforts
were unavailing. The Salians appear to have figured no more in
this part of the Low Countries.

The defeat of the Salians by a Saxon tribe is a fact on which no
doubt rests. The name of the victors is, however, questionable.
The Varni having remained settled near the mouths of the Rhine
till near the year 500, there is strong, probability that they
were the people alluded to. But names and histories, which may on
this point appear of such little importance, acquire considerable
interest when we reflect that these Salians, driven from their
settlement, became the conquerors of France; that those Saxons
who forced them on their career of conquest were destined to
become the masters of England; and that these two petty tribes,
who battled so long for a corner of marshy earth, carried with
them their reciprocal antipathy while involuntarily deciding
the destiny of Europe.

The defeat of the Franks was fatal to those peoples who had become
incorporated with the Romans; for it was from them that the exiled
wanderers, still fierce in their ruin, and with arms in their hands,
demanded lands and herds; all, in short, which they themselves had
lost. From the middle of the fourth century to the end of the
fifth, there was a succession of invasions in this spirit, which
always ended by the subjugation of a part of the country; and which
was completed about the year 490, by Clovis making himself master
of almost the whole of Gaul. Under this new empire not a vestige
of the ancient nations of the Ardennes was left. The civilized
population either perished or was reduced to slavery, and all
the high grounds were added to the previous conquests of the

But the maritime population, when once possessed of the whole
coast, did not seek to make the slightest progress toward the
interior. The element of their enterprise and the object of their
ambition was the ocean; and when this hardy and intrepid race
became too numerous for their narrow limits, expeditions and
colonies beyond the sea carried off their redundant population.
The Saxon warriors established themselves near the mouths of the
Loire; others, conducted by Hengist and Horsa, settled in Great
Britain. It will always remain problematical from what point
of the coast these adventurers departed; but many circumstances
tend to give weight to the opinion which pronounces those old
Saxons to have started from the Netherlands.

Paganism not being yet banished from these countries, the obscurity
which would have enveloped them is in some degree dispelled by the
recitals of the monks who went among them to preach Christianity.
We see in those records, and by the text of some of their early
laws, that this maritime people were more industrious, prosperous,
and happy, than those of France. The men were handsome and richly
clothed; and the land well cultivated, and abounding in fruits,
milk, and honey. The Saxon merchants carried their trade far
into the southern countries. In the meantime, the parts of the
Netherlands which belonged to France resembled a desert. The
monasteries which were there founded were established, according
to the words of their charters, amid immense solitudes; and the
French nobles only came into Brabant for the sport of bear-hunting
in its interminable forests. Thus, while the inhabitants of the
low lands, as far back as the light of history penetrates, appear
in a continual state of improvement, those of the high grounds,
after frequent vicissitudes, seem to sink into utter degeneracy
and subjugation. The latter wished to denaturalize themselves,
and become as though they were foreigners even on their native
soil; the former remained firm and faithful to their country
and to each other.

But the growth of French power menaced utter ruin to this interesting
race. Clovis had succeeded about the year 485 of our era, in
destroying the last remnants of Roman domination in Gaul. The
successors of these conquerors soon extended their empire from the
Pyrenees to the Rhine. They had continual contests with the free
population of the Low Countries, and their nearest neighbors. In the
commencement of the seventh century, the French king, Clotaire II.,
exterminated the chief part of the Saxons of Hanover and Westphalia;
and the historians of those barbarous times unanimously relate
that he caused to be beheaded every inhabitant of the vanquished
tribes who exceeded the height of his sword. The Saxon name was
thus nearly extinguished in those countries; and the remnant of
these various peoples adopted that of Frisons (Friesen), either
because they became really incorporated with that nation, or
merely that they recognized it for the most powerful of their
tribes. Friesland, to speak in the language of that age, extended
then from the Scheldt to the Weser, and formed a considerable
state. But the ascendency of France was every year becoming more
marked; and King Dagobert extended the limits of her power even
as far as Utrecht. The descendants of the Menapians, known at
that epoch by the different names of Menapians, Flemings, and
Toxandirans, fell one after another directly or indirectly under
the empire of the Merovingian princes; and the noblest family
which existed among the French--that which subsequently took the
name of Carlovingians--comprised in its dominions nearly the
whole of the southern and western parts of the Netherlands.

Between this family, whose chief was called duke of the Frontier
Marshes (_Dux_Brabantioe_), and the free tribes, united under
the common name of Frisons, the same struggle was maintained as
that which formerly existed between the Salians and the Saxons.
Toward the year 700, the French monarchy was torn by anarchy,
and, under "the lazy kings," lost much of its concentrated power;
but every dukedom formed an independent sovereignty, and of all
those that of Brabant was the most redoubtable. Nevertheless
the Frisons, under their king, Radbod, assumed for a moment the
superiority; and Utrecht, where the French had established
Christianity, fell again into the power of the pagans. Charles
Martell, at that time young, and but commencing his splendid
career, was defeated by the hostile king in the forest of the
Ardennes; and though, in subsequent conquests, he took an ample
revenge, Radbod still remained a powerful opponent. It is related
of this fierce monarch that he was converted by a Christian
missionary; but, at the moment in which he put his foot in the
water for the ceremony of baptism, he suddenly asked the priest
where all his old Frison companions in arms had gone after their
death? "To hell," replied the priest. "Well, then," said Radbod,
drawing back his foot from the water, "I would rather go to hell
with them, than to paradise with you and your fellow foreigners!"
and he refused to receive the rite of baptism, and remained a

After the death of Radbod, in 719, Charles Martell, now become
duke of the Franks, mayor of the palace, or by whatever other of
his several titles he may be distinguished, finally triumphed over
the long-resisting Frisons. He labored to establish Christianity
among them; but they did not understand the French language, and
the lot of converting them was consequently reserved for the
English. St. Willebrod was the first missionary who met with
any success, about the latter end of the seventh century; but
it was not till toward the year 750 that this great mission was
finally accomplished by St. Boniface, archbishop of Mayence,
and the apostle of Germany. Yet the progress of Christianity,
and the establishment of a foreign sway, still met the partial
resistance which a conquered but not enervated people are always
capable of opposing to their masters. St. Boniface fell a victim
to this stubborn spirit. He perished a martyr to his zeal, but
perhaps a victim as well to the violent measures of his colleagues,
in Friesland, the very province which to this day preserves the

The last avenger of Friesland liberty and of the national idols
was the illustrious Witikind, to whom the chronicles of his country
give the title of first azing, or judge. This intrepid chieftain
is considered as a compatriot, not only by the historians of
Friesland, but by those of Saxony; both, it would appear, having
equal claims to the honor; for the union between the two peoples
was constantly strengthened by intermarriages between the noblest
families of each. As long as Witikind remained a pagan and a
freeman, some doubt existed as to the final fate of Friesland;
but when by his conversion he became only a noble of the court
of Charlemagne, the slavery of his country was consummated.



A.D. 800--1000

Even at this advanced epoch of foreign domination, there remained
as great a difference as ever between the people of the high
grounds and the inhabitants of the plain. The latter were, like
the rest, incorporated with the great monarchy; but they preserved
the remembrance of former independence, and even retained their
ancient names. In Flanders, Menapians and Flemings were still
found, and in the country of Antwerp the Toxandrians were not
extinct. All the rest of the coast was still called Friesland. But
in the high grounds the names of the old inhabitants were lost.
Nations were designated by the names of their rivers, forests, or
towns. They were classified as accessories to inanimate things;
and having no monuments which reminded them of their origin,
they became as it were without recollections or associations;
and degenerated, as may be almost said, into a people without

The physical state of the country had greatly changed from the
times of Cæsar to those of Charlemagne. Many parts of the forest
of the Ardennes had been cut down or cleared away. Civilization
had only appeared for a while among these woods, to perish like
a delicate plant in an ungenial clime; but it seemed to have
sucked the very sap from the soil, and to have left the people
no remains of the vigor of man in his savage state, nor of the
desperate courage of the warriors of Germany. A race of serfs now
cultivated the domains of haughty lords and imperious priests.
The clergy had immense possessions in this country; an act of
the following century recognizes fourteen thousand families of
vassals as belonging to the single abbey of Nivelle. Tournay and
Tongres, both Episcopal cities, were by that title somewhat less
oppressed than the other ancient towns founded by the Romans; but
they appear to have possessed only a poor and degraded population.

The low lands, on the other hand, announced a striking commencement
of improvement and prosperity. The marshes and fens, which had
arrested and repulsed the progress of imperial Rome, had disappeared
in every part of the interior. The Meuse and the Scheldt no longer
joined at their outlets, to desolate the neighboring lands; whether
this change was produced by the labors of man, or merely by the
accumulation of sand deposited by either stream and forming barriers
to both. The towns of Courtraig, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp,
Berg-op-Zoom, and Thiel, had already a flourishing trade. The
last-mentioned town contained in the following century fifty-five
churches; a fact from which, in the absence of other evidence,
the extent of the population may be conjectured. The formation of
dikes for the protection of lands formerly submerged was already
well understood, and regulated by uniform custom. The plains
thus reconquered from the waters were distributed in portions,
according to their labor, by those who reclaimed them, except
the parts reserved for the chieftain, the church, and the poor.
This vital necessity for the construction of dikes had given to
the Frison and Flemish population a particular habit of union,
goodwill, and reciprocal justice, because it was necessary to make
common cause in this great work for their mutual preservation.
In all other points, the detail of the laws and manners of this
united people presents a picture similar to that of the Saxons of
England, with the sole exception that the people of the Netherlands
were milder than the Saxon race properly so called--their long
habit of laborious industry exercising its happy influence on
the martial spirit original to both. The manufacturing arts were
also somewhat more advanced in this part of the continent than in
Great Britain. The Frisons, for example, were the only people
who could succeed in making the costly mantles in use among the
wealthy Franks.

The government of Charlemagne admitted but one form, borrowed
from that of the empire in the period of its decline--a mixture
of the spiritual and temporal powers, exercised in the first place
by the emperor, and at second-hand by the counts and bishops. The
counts in those times were not the heads of noble families, as
they afterward became, but officers of the government, removable
at will, and possessing no hereditary rights. Their incomes did
not arise from salaries paid in money, but consisted of lands,
of which they had the revenues during the continuance of their
authority. These lands being situated in the limits of their
administration, each regarded them as his property only for the
time being, and considered himself as a tenant at will. How
unfavorable such a system was to culture and improvement may be
well imagined. The force of possession was, however, frequently
opposed to the seigniorial rights of the crown; and thus, though
all civil dignity and the revenues attached to it were but personal
and reclaimable at will, still many dignitaries, taking advantage
of the barbarous state of the country in which their isolated
cantons were placed, sought by every possible means to render
their power and prerogatives inalienable and real. The force
of the monarchical government, which consists mainly in its
centralization, was necessarily weakened by the intervention
of local obstacles, before it could pass from the heart of the
empire to its limits. Thus it was only by perpetually interposing
his personal efforts, and flying, as it were, from one end to the
other of his dominions, that Charlemagne succeeded in preserving
his authority. As for the people, without any sort of guarantee
against the despotism of the government, they were utterly at
the mercy of the nobles or of the sovereign. But this state of
servitude was quite incompatible with the union of social powers
necessary to a population that had to struggle against the tyranny
of the ocean. To repulse its attacks with successful vigor, a
spirit of complete concert was absolutely required; and the nation
being thus united, and consequently strong, the efforts of foreign
tyrants were shattered by its resistance, as the waves of the
sea that broke against the dikes by which it was defied.

From the time of Charlemagne, the people of the ancient Menapia,
now become a prosperous commonwealth, formed political associations
to raise a barrier against the despotic violence of the Franks.
These associations were called Gilden, and in the Latin of the
times Gildonia. They comprised, besides their covenants for mutual
protection, an obligation which bound every member to give succor
to any other, in cases of illness, conflagration, or shipwreck.
But the growing force of these social compacts alarmed the
quick-sighted despotism of Charlemagne, and they were, consequently,
prohibited both by him and his successors. To give a notion of
the importance of this prohibition to the whole of Europe, it is
only necessary to state that the most ancient corporations (all
which had preceded and engendered the most valuable municipal
rights) were nothing more than gilden. Thus, to draw an example
from Great Britain, the corporative charter of Berwick still
bears the title of Charta Gildoniæ. But the ban of the sovereigns
was without efficacy, when opposed to the popular will. The gilden
stood their ground, and within a century after the death of
Charlemagne, all Flanders was covered with corporate towns.

This popular opposition took, however, another form in the northern
parts of the country, which still bore the common name of Friesland;
for there it was not merely local but national. The Frisons succeeded
in obtaining the sanction of the monarch to consecrate, as it
were, those rights which were established under the ancient forms
of government. The fact is undoubted; but the means which they
employed are uncertain. It appears most probable that this great
privilege was the price of their military services; for they held
a high place in the victorious armies of Charlemagne; and Turpin,
the old French romancer, alluding to the popular traditions of
his time, represents the warriors of Friesland as endowed with
the most heroic valor.

These rights, which the Frisons secured, according to their own
statements, from Charlemagne, but most undoubtedly from some
one or other of the earliest emperors, consisted, first, in the
freedom of every order of citizens; secondly, in the right of
property--a right which admitted no authority of the sovereign
to violate by confiscation, except in cases of downright treason;
thirdly, in the privilege of trial by none but native judges, and
according to their national usages; fourthly, in a very narrow
limitation of the military services which they owed to the king;
fifthly, in the hereditary title to feudal property, in direct
line, on payment of certain dues or rents. These five principal
articles sufficed to render Friesland, in its political aspect,
totally different from the other portions of the monarchy. Their
privileges secured, their property inviolable, their duties limited,
the Frisons were altogether free from the servitude which weighed
down France. It will soon be seen that these special advantages
produced a government nearly analogous to that which Magna Charta
was the means of founding at a later period in England.

The successors of Charlemagne chiefly signalized their authority
by lavishing donations of all kinds on the church. By such means
the ecclesiastical power became greater and greater, and, in those
countries under the sway of France, was quite as arbitrary and
enormous as that of the nobility. The bishops of Utrecht, Liege,
and Tournay, became, in the course of time, the chief personages
on that line of the frontier. They had the great advantage over
the counts, of not being subjected to capricious or tyrannical
removals. They therefore, even in civil affairs, played a more
considerable part than the latter; and began to render themselves
more and more independent in their episcopal cities, which were
soon to become so many principalities. The counts, on their parts,
used their best exertions to wear out, if they had not the strength
to break, the chains which bound them to the footstool of the
monarch. They were not all now dependent on the same sovereign;
for the empire of Charlemagne was divided among his successors:
France, properly so called, was bounded by the Scheldt; the country
to the eastward of that river, that is to say, nearly the whole
of the Netherlands, belonged to Lorraine and Germany.

In the state of things, it happened that in the year 864, Judith,
daughter of Charles the Bald, king of France, having survived
her husband Ethelwolf, king of England, became attached to a
powerful Flemish chieftain called Baldwin. It is not quite certain
whether he was count, forester, marquis, or protector of the
frontiers; but he certainly enjoyed, no matter under what title,
considerable authority in the country; since the pope on one
occasion wrote to Charles the Bald to beware of offending him,
lest he should join the Normans, and open to them an entrance
into France. He carried off Judith to his possessions in Flanders.
The king, her father, after many ineffectual threats, was forced
to consent to their union; and confirmed to Baldwin, with the
title of count, the hereditary government of all the country
between the Scheldt and the Somme, a river of Picardy. This was
the commencement of the celebrated county of Flanders; and this
Baldwin is designated in history by the surname of Bras-de-fer
(iron-handed), to which his courage had justly entitled him.

The Belgian historians are also desirous of placing about this
epoch the first counts of Hainault, and even of Holland. But
though it may be true that the chief families of each canton sought
then, as at all times, to shake off the yoke, the epoch of their
independence can only be fixed at the later period at which they
obtained or enforced the privilege of not being deprived of their
titles and their feudal estates. The counts of the high grounds,
and those of Friesland, enjoyed at the utmost but a fortuitous
privilege of continuance in their rank. Several foreigners had
gained a footing and an authority in the country; among others
Wickmand, from whom descended the chatelains of Ghent; and the
counts of Holland, and Heriold, a Norman prince who had been
banished from his own country. This name of Normans, hardly known
before the time of Charlemagne, soon became too celebrated. It
designated the pagan inhabitants of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden,
who, driven by rapacity and want, infested the neighboring seas.
The asylum allowed in the dominions of the emperors to some of
those exiled outlaws, and the imprudent provocations given by these
latter to their adventurous countrymen, attracted various bands
of Norman pirates to the shores of Guelders; and from desultory
descents upon the coast, they soon came to inundate the interior
of the country. Flanders alone successfully resisted them during
the life of Baldwin Bras-de-fer; but after the death of this brave
chieftain there was not a province of the whole country that
was not ravaged by these invaders. Their multiplied expeditions
threw back the Netherlands at least two centuries, if, indeed,
any calculation of the kind may be fairly formed respecting the
relative state of population and improvement on the imperfect
data that are left us. Several cantons became deserted. The chief
cities were reduced to heaps of ruins. The German emperors vainly
interposed for the relief of their unfortunate vassals. Finally,
an agreement was entered into, in the year 882, with Godfrey the
king or leader of the Normans, by which a peace was purchased
on condition of paying him a large subsidy, and ceding to him the
government of Friesland. But, in about two years from this period,
the fierce barbarian began to complain that the country he had
thus gained did not produce grapes, and the present inspiration
of his rapacity seemed to be the blooming vineyards of France.
The emperor Charles the Fat, anticipating the consequence of a
rupture with Godfrey, enticed him to an interview, in which he
caused him to be assassinated. His followers, attacked on all points
by the people of Friesland, perished almost to a man; and their
destruction was completed, in 891, by Arnoul the Germanic. From
that period, the scourge of Norman depredation became gradually
less felt. They now made but short and desultory attempts on the
coast; and their last expedition appears to have taken place
about the year 1000, when they threatened, but did not succeed
in seizing on, the city of Utrecht.

It is remarkable that, although for the space of one hundred and
fifty years the Netherlands were continually the scene of invasion
and devastation by these northern barbarians, the political state
of the country underwent no important changes. The emperors of
Germany were sovereigns of the whole country, with the exception of
Flanders. These portions of the empire were still called Lorraine,
as well as all which they possessed of what is now called France,
and which was that part forming the appanage of Lothaire and of the
Lotheringian kings. The great difficulty of maintaining subordination
among the numerous chieftains of this country caused it, in 958,
to be divided into two governments, which were called Higher and
Lower Lorraine. The latter portion comprised nearly the whole
of the Netherlands, which thus became governed by a lieutenant of
the emperors. Godfrey count of Ardenne was the first who filled
this place; and he soon felt all the perils of the situation. The
other counts saw, with a jealous eye, their equal now promoted
into a superior. Two of the most powerful, Lambert and Reginald,
were brothers. They made common cause against the new duke; and
after a desperate struggle, which did not cease till the year
985, they gained a species of imperfect independence--Lambert
becoming the root from which sprang the counts of Louvain, and
Reginald that of the counts of Hainault.

The emperor Othon II., who upheld the authority of his lieutenant,
Godfrey, became convinced that the imperial power was too weak
to resist singly the opposition of the nobles of the country.
He had therefore transferred, about the year 980, the title of
duke to a young prince of the royal house of France; and we thus
see the duchy of Lower Lorraine governed, in the name of the
emperor, by the last two shoots of the branch of Charlemagne,
the dukes Charles and Othon of France, son and grandson of Louis
d'Outremer. The first was a gallant prince: he may be looked on
as the founder of the greatness of Brussels, where he fixed his
residence. After several years of tranquil government, the death
of his brother called him to the throne of France; and from that
time he bravely contended for the crown of his ancestors, against
the usurpation of Hugues Capet, whom he frequently defeated in
battle; but he was at length treacherously surprised and put
to death in 990. Othon, his son, did not signalize his name nor
justify his descent by any memorable action; and in him ingloriously
perished the name of the Carlovingians.

The death of Othon set the emperor and the great vassals once
more in opposition. The German monarch insisted on naming some
creature of his own to the dignity of duke; but Lambert II.,
count of Louvain, and Robert, count of Namur, having married the
sisters of Othon, respectively claimed the right of inheritance
to his title. Baldwin of the comely beard, count of Flanders,
joined himself to their league, hoping to extend his power to
the eastward of the Scheldt. And, in fact, the emperor, as the
only means of disuniting his two powerful vassals, felt himself
obliged to cede Valenciennes and the islands of Zealand to Baldwin.
The imperial power thus lost ground at every struggle.

Amid the confusion of these events, a power well calculated to
rival or even supplant that of the fierce counts was growing
up. Many circumstances were combined to extend and consolidate
the episcopal sway. It is true that the bishops of Tournay had no
temporal authority since the period of their city being ruined by
the Normans. But those of Liege and Utrecht, and more particularly
the latter, had accumulated immense possessions; and their power
being inalienable, they had nothing to fear from the caprices
of sovereign favor, which so often ruined the families of the
aristocracy. Those bishops, who were warriors and huntsmen rather
than ecclesiastics, possessed, however, in addition to the lance
and the sword, the terrible artillery of excommunication and
anathema, which they thundered forth without mercy against every
laic opponent; and when they had, by conquest or treachery, acquired
new dominions and additional store of wealth, they could not
portion it among their children, like the nobles, but it devolved
to their successors, who thus became more and more powerful,
and gained by degrees an authority almost royal, like that of
the ecclesiastical elector of Germany.

Whenever the emperor warred against his lay vassals, he was sure
of assistance from the bishops, because they were at all times
jealous of the power of the counts, and had much less to gain
from an alliance with them than with the imperial despots on
whose donations they throve, and who repaid their efforts by new
privileges and extended possessions. So that when the monarch,
at length, lost the superiority in his contests with the counts,
little was wanting to make his authority be merged altogether in
the overgrown power of these churchmen. Nevertheless, a first
effort of the bishop of Liege to seize on the rights of the count
of Louvain in 1013 met with a signal defeat, in a battle which
took place at the little village of Stongarde. And five years
later, the count of the Friesland marshes (_comes_Frisonum_
_Morsatenorum_) gave a still more severe lesson to the bishop
of Utrecht. This last merits a more particular mention from the
nature of the quarrel and the importance of its results.



A.D. 1018--1384

The district in which Dordrecht is situated, and the grounds
in its environs which are at present submerged, formed in those
times an island just raised above the waters, and which was called
Holland or Holtland (which means _wooded_ land, or, according to
some, _hollow_ land). The formation of this island, or rather its
recovery from the waters, being only of recent date, the right to
its possession was more disputable than that of long-established
countries. All the bishops and abbots whose states bordered the
Rhine and the Meuse had, being equally covetous and grasping,
and mutually resolved to pounce on the prey, made it their common
property. A certain Count Thierry, descended from the counts
of Ghent, governed about this period the western extremity of
Friesland--the country which now forms the province of Holland;
and with much difficulty maintained his power against the Frisons,
by whom his right was not acknowledged. Beaten out of his own
territories by these refractory insurgents, he sought refuge in
the ecclesiastical island, where he intrenched himself, and founded
a town which is believed to have been the origin of Dordrecht.

This Count Thierry, like all the feudal lords, took advantage
of his position to establish and levy certain duties on all the
vessels which sailed past his territory, dispossessing in the
meantime some vassals of the church, and beating, as we have
stated, the bishop of Utrecht himself. Complaints and appeals
without number were laid at the foot of the imperial throne.
Godfrey of Eenham, whom the emperor had created duke of Lower
Lorraine, was commanded to call the whole country to arms. The
bishop of Liege, though actually dying, put himself at the head
of the expedition, to revenge his brother prelate, and punish
the audacious spoiler of the church property. But Thierry and
his fierce Frisons took Godfrey prisoner, and cut his army in
pieces. The victor had the good sense and moderation to spare
his prisoners, and set them free without ransom. He received
in return an imperial amnesty; and from that period the count
of Holland and his posterity formed a barrier against which the
ecclesiastical power and the remains of the imperial supremacy
continually struggled, to be only shattered in each new assault.
John Egmont, an old chronicler, says that the counts of Holland
were "a sword in the flanks of the bishops of Utrecht."

As the partial independence of the great vassals became consolidated,
the monarchs were proportionally anxious to prevent its perpetuation
in the same families. In pursuance of this system, Godfrey of Eenham
obtained the preference over the Counts Lambert and Robert; and
Frederick of Luxemburg was named duke of Lower Lorraine in 1046,
instead of a second Godfrey, who was nephew and expectant heir to
the first. But this Godfrey, upheld by Baldwin of Flanders, forced
the emperor to concede to him the inheritance of the dukedom.
Baldwin secured for his share the country of Alost and Waas, and the
citadel of Ghent; and he also succeeded in obtaining in marriage
for his son the Countess Richilde, heiress of Hainault and Namur.
Thus was Flanders incessantly gaining new aggrandizement, while
the duchy of Lorraine was crumbling away on every side.

In the year 1066 this state of Flanders, even then flourishing
and powerful, furnished assistance, both in men and ships, to
William the Bastard of Normandy, for the conquest of England.
William was son-in-law to Count Baldwin, and recompensed the
assistance of his wife's father by an annual payment of three
hundred silver marks. It was Mathilda, the Flemish princess and
wife of the conqueror, who worked with her own hands the celebrated
tapestry of Bayeux, on which is embroidered the whole history
of the conquest, and which is the most curious monument of the
state of the arts in that age.

Flanders acquired a positive and considerable superiority over all
the other parts of the Netherlands, from the first establishment
of its counts or earls. The descendants of Baldwin Bras-de-fer,
after having valiantly repulsed the Normans toward the end of
the ninth century, showed themselves worthy of ruling over an
industrious and energetic people. They had built towns, cut down
and cleared away forests, and reclaimed inundated lands: above
all things, they had understood and guarded against the danger
of parcelling out their states at every succeeding generation;
and the county of Flanders passed entire into the hands of the
first-born of the family. The stability produced by this state
of things had allowed the people to prosper. The Normans now
visited the coasts, not as enemies, but as merchants; and Bruges
became the mart of the booty acquired by these bold pirates in
England and on the high seas. The fisheries had begun to acquire
an importance sufficient to establish the herring as one of the
chief aliments of the population. Maritime commerce had made such
strides that Spain and Portugal were well known to both sailors
and traders, and the voyage from Flanders to Lisbon was estimated
at fifteen days' sail. Woollen stuffs formed the principal wealth
of the country; but salt, corn, and jewelry were also important
branches of traffic; while the youth of Flanders were so famous for
their excellence in all martial pursuits that foreign sovereigns
were at all times desirous of obtaining bodies of troops from
this nation.

The greatest part of Flanders was attached, as has been seen, to
the king of France, and not to Lorraine; but the dependence was
little more than nominal. In 1071 the king of France attempted
to exercise his authority over the country, by naming to the
government the same Countess Richilde who had received Hainault
and Namur for her dower, and who was left a widow, with sons
still in their minority. The people assembled in the principal
towns, and protested against this intervention of the French
monarch. But we must remark that it was only the population of
the low lands (whose sturdy ancestors had ever resisted foreign
domination) that now took part in this opposition. The vassals
which the counts of Flanders possessed in the Gallic provinces
(the high grounds), and in general all the nobility, pronounced
strongly for submission to France; for the principles of political
freedom had not yet been fixed in the minds of the inhabitants of
those parts of the country. But the lowlanders joined together
under Robert, surnamed the Frison, brother of the deceased count;
and they so completely defeated the French, the nobles and their
unworthy associates of the high ground, that they despoiled the
usurping Countess Richilde of even her hereditary possessions.
In this war perished the celebrated Norman, William Fitz-Osborn,
who had flown to the succor of the defeated countess, of whom
he was enamored.

Robert the Frison, not satisfied with having beaten the king of
France and the bishop of Liege, reinstated in 1076 the grandson
of Thierry of Holland in the possessions which had been forced
from him by the duke of Lower Lorraine, in the name of the emperor
and the bishop of Utrecht; so that it was this valiant chieftain,
who, above all others, is entitled to the praise of having
successfully opposed the system of foreign domination on all
the principal points of the country. Four years later, Othon of
Nassau was the first to unite in one county the various cantons of
Guelders. Finally, in 1086, Henry of Louvain, the direct descendant
of Lambert, joined to his title that of count of Brabant; and
from this period the country was partitioned pretty nearly as
it was destined to remain for several centuries.

In the midst of this gradual organization of the various counties,
history for some time loses sight of those Frisons, the maritime
people of the north, who took little part in the civil wars of
two centuries. But still there was no portion of Europe which
at that time offered a finer picture of social improvement than
these damp and unhealthy coasts. The name of Frisons extended
from the Weser to the westward of the Zuyder Zee, but not quite
to the Rhine; and it became usual to consider no longer as Frisons
the subjects of the counts of Holland, whom we may now begin
to distinguish as Hollanders or Dutch. The Frison race alone
refused to recognize the sovereign counts. They boasted of being
self-governed; owning no allegiance but to the emperor, and regarding
the counts of his nomination as so many officers charged to require
obedience to the laws of the country, but themselves obliged
in all things to respect them. But the counts of Holland, the
bishops of Utrecht, and several German lords, dignified from
time to time with the title of counts of Friesland, insisted
that it carried with it a personal authority superior to that
of the sovereign they represented. The descendants of the Count
Thierry, a race of men remarkably warlike, were the most violent
in this assumption of power. Defeat after defeat, however, punished
their obstinacy; and numbers of those princes met death on the
pikes of their Frison opponents. The latter had no regular leaders;
but at the approach of the enemy the inhabitants of each canton
flew to arms, like the members of a single family; and all the
feudal forces brought against them failed to subdue this popular

The frequent result of these collisions was the refusal of the
Frisons to recognize any authority whatever but that of the national
judges. Each canton was governed according to its own laws. If
a difficulty arose, the deputies of the nation met together on
the borders of the Ems, in a place called "the Trees of Upstal"
(_Upstall-boomen_), where three old oaks stood in the middle of
an immense plain. In this primitive council-place chieftains
were chosen, who, on swearing to maintain the laws and oppose
the common enemy, were invested with a limited and temporary

It does not appear that Friesland possessed any large towns, with
the exception of Staveren. In this respect the Frisons resembled
those ancient Germans who had a horror of shutting themselves up
within walls. They lived in a way completely patriarchal; dwelling
in isolated cabins, and with habits of the utmost frugality. We
read in one of their old histories that a whole convent of
Benedictines was terrified at the voracity of a German sculptor
who was repairing their chapel. They implored him to look elsewhere
for his food; for that he and his sons consumed enough to exhaust
the whole stock of the monastery.

In no part of Europe was the good sense of the people so effectively
opposed to the unreasonable practices of Catholicism in those days.
The Frisons successfully resisted the payment of tithes; and as a
punishment (if the monks are to be believed) the sea inflicted
upon them repeated inundations. They forced their priests to
marry, saying that the man who had no wife necessarily sought
for the wife of another. They acknowledged no ecclesiastical
decree, if secular judges, double the number of the priests, did
not bear a part in it. Thus the spirit of liberty burst forth
in all their proceedings, and they were justified in calling
themselves _Vri-Vriesen_, Free-Frisons.

No nation is more interested than England in the examination of
all that concerns this remote corner of Europe, so resolute in
its opposition to both civil and religious tyranny; for it was
there that those Saxon institutions and principles were first
developed without constraint, while the time of their establishment
in England was still distant. Restrained by our narrow limits,
we can merely indicate this curious state of things; nor may
we enter on many mysteries of social government which the most
learned find a difficulty in solving. What were the rights of
the nobles in their connection with these freemen? What ties of
reciprocal interest bound the different cantons to each other?
What were the privileges of the towns?--These are the minute
but important points of detail which are overshadowed by the
grand and imposing figure of the national independence. But in
fact the emperors themselves, in these distant times, had little
knowledge of this province, and spoke of it vaguely, and as it
were at random, in their diplomas, the chief monuments of the
history of the Middle Ages. The counts of Holland and the apostolic
nuncios addressed their acts and rescripts indiscriminately to
the nobles, clergy, magistrates, judges, consuls, or commons of
Friesland. Sometimes appeared in those documents the vague and
imposing title of "the great Frison," applied to some popular
leader. All this confusion tends to prove, on the authority of the
historians of the epoch, and the charters so carefully collected
by the learned, that this question, now so impossible to solve,
was even then not rightly understood--what were really those
fierce and redoubtable Frisons in their popular and political
relations? The fact is, that liberty was a matter so difficult
to be comprehended by the writers of those times that Froissart
gave as his opinion, about the year 1380, that the Frisons were
a most unreasonable race, for not recognizing the authority and
power of the great lords.

The eleventh century had been for the Netherlands (with the exception
of Friesland and Flanders) an epoch of organization; and had nearly
fixed the political existence of the provinces, which were so long
confounded in the vast possessions of the empire. It is therefore
important to ascertain under what influence and on what basis
these provinces became consolidated at that period. Holland and
Zealand, animated by the spirit which we may fairly distinguish
under the mingled title of Saxon and maritime, countries scarcely
accessible, and with a vigorous population, possessed, in the
descendants of Thierry I., a race of national chieftains who
did not attempt despotic rule over so unconquerable a people. In
Brabant, the maritime towns of Berg-op-Zoom and Antwerp formed, in
the Flemish style, so many republics, small but not insignificant;
while the southern parts of the province were under the sway of
a nobility who crushed, trampled on, or sold their vassals at
their pleasure or caprice. The bishopric of Liege offered also
the same contrast; the domains of the nobility being governed
with the utmost harshness, while those prince-prelates lavished on
their plebeian vassals privileges which might have been supposed
the fruits of generosity, were it not clear that the object was
to create an opposition in the lower orders against the turbulent
aristocracy, whom they found it impossible to manage single-handed.
The wars of these bishops against the petty nobles, who made their
castles so many receptacles of robbers and plunder, were thus the
foundation of public liberty. And it appears tolerably certain
that the Paladins of Ariosto were in reality nothing more than
those brigand chieftains of the Ardennes, whose ruined residences
preserve to this day the names which the poet borrowed from the
old romance writers. But in all the rest of the Netherlands,
excepting the provinces already mentioned, no form of government
existed, but that fierce feudality which reduced the people into
serfs, and turned the social state of man into a cheerless waste
of bondage.

It was then that the Crusades, with wild and stirring fanaticism,
agitated, in the common impulse given to all Europe, even those
little states which seemed to slumber in their isolated independence.
Nowhere did the voice of Peter the Hermit find a more sympathizing
echo than in these lands, still desolated by so many intestine
struggles. Godfrey of Bouillon, duke of Lower Lorraine, took the
lead in this chivalric and religious frenzy. With him set out
the counts of Hainault and Flanders; the latter of whom received
from the English crusaders the honorable appellation of Fitz
St. George. But although the valor of all these princes was
conspicuous, from the foundation of the kingdom of Jerusalem by
Godfrey of Bouillon in 1098, until that of the Latin empire of
Constantinople by Baldwin of Flanders in 1203, still the simple
gentlemen and peasants of Friesland did not less distinguish
themselves. They were, on all occasions, the first to mount the
breach or lead the charge; and the pope's nuncio found himself
forced to prohibit the very women of Friesland from embarking
for the Holy Land--so anxious were they to share the perils and
glory of their husbands and brothers in combating the Saracens.

The outlet given by the crusaders to the overboiling ardor of
these warlike countries was a source of infinite advantage to
their internal economy; under the rapid progress of civilization,
the population increased and the fields were cultivated. The
nobility, reduced to moderation by the enfeebling consequences
of extensive foreign wars, became comparatively impotent in their
attempted efforts against domestic freedom. Those of Flanders and
Brabant, also, were almost decimated in the terrible battle of
Bouvines, fought between the Emperor Othon and Philip Augustus,
king of France. On no occasion, however, had this reduced but
not degenerate nobility shown more heroic valor. The Flemish
knights, disdaining to mount their horses or form their ranks for
the repulse of the French cavalry, composed of common persons,
contemptuously received their shock on foot and in the disorder
of individual resistance. The brave Buridan of Ypres led his
comrades to the fight, with the chivalric war-cry, "Let each
now think of her he loves!" But the issue of this battle was
ruinous to the Belgians, in consequence of the bad generalship
of the emperor, who had divided his army into small portions,
which were defeated in detail.

While the nobility thus declined, the towns began rapidly to
develop the elements of popular force. In 1120, a Flemish knight
who might descend so far as to marry a woman of the plebeian
ranks incurred the penalty of degradation and servitude. In 1220,
scarcely a serf was to be found in all Flanders. The Countess Jane
had enfranchised all those belonging to her as early as 1222.
In 1300, the chiefs of the gilden, or trades, were more powerful
than the nobles. These dates and these facts must suffice to mark
the epoch at which the great mass of the nation arose from the
wretchedness in which it was plunged by the Norman invasion, and
acquired sufficient strength and freedom to form a real political
force. But it is remarkable that the same results took place in
all the counties or dukedoms of the Lowlands precisely at the
same period. In fact, if we start from the year 1200 on this
interesting inquiry, we shall see the commons attacking, in the
first place, the petty feudal lords, and next the counts and the
dukes themselves, often as justice was denied them. In 1257,
the peasants of Holland and the burghers of Utrecht proclaimed
freedom and equality, drove out the bishop and the nobles, and
began a memorable struggle which lasted full two hundred years.
In 1260, the townspeople of Flanders appealed to the king of
France against the decrees of their count, who ended the quarrel
by the loss of his county. In 1303, Mechlin and Louvain, the chief
towns of Brabant, expelled the patrician families. A coincidence
like this cannot be attributed to trifling or partial causes,
such as the misconduct of a single count, or other local evil;
but to a great general movement in the popular mind, the progress
of agriculture and industry in the whole country, superinducing
an increase of wealth and intelligence, which, when unrestrained
by the influence of a corrupt government, must naturally lead
to the liberty and the happiness of a people.

The weaving of woollen and linen cloths was one of the chief
sources of this growing prosperity. A prodigious quantity of
cloth and linen was manufactured in all parts of the Netherlands.
The maritime prosperity acquired an equal increase by the carrying
trade, both in imports and exports. Whole fleets of Dutch and
Flemish merchant ships repaired regularly to the coasts of Spain
and Languedoc. Flanders was already become the great market for
England and all the north of Europe. The great increase of population
forced all parts of the country into cultivation; so much so,
that lands were in those times sold at a high price, which are
to-day left waste from imputed sterility.

Legislation naturally followed the movements of those positive
and material interests. The earliest of the towns, after the
invasion of the Normans, were in some degree but places of refuge.
It was soon however, established that the regular inhabitants
of these bulwarks of the country should not be subjected to any
servitude beyond their care and defence; but the citizen who
might absent himself for a longer period than forty days was
considered a deserter and deprived of his rights. It was about
the year 1100 that the commons began to possess the privilege of
regulating their internal affairs; they appointed their judges
and magistrates, and attached to their authority the old custom of
ordering all the citizens to assemble or march when the summons
of the feudal lord sounded the signal for their assemblage or
service. By this means each municipal magistracy had the disposal
of a force far superior to those of the nobles, for the population
of the towns exceeded both in number and discipline the vassals of
the seigniorial lands. And these trained bands of the towns made
war in a way very different from that hitherto practiced; for the
chivalry of the country, making the trade of arms a profession for
life, the feuds of the chieftains produced hereditary struggles,
almost always slow, and mutually disastrous. But the townsmen,
forced to tear themselves from every association of home and
its manifold endearments, advanced boldly to the object of the
contest; never shrinking from the dangers of war, from fear of
that still greater to be found in a prolonged struggle. It is this
that it may be remarked, during the memorable conflicts of the
thirteenth century, that when even the bravest of the knights
advised their counts or dukes to grant or demand a truce, the
citizen militia never knew but one cry--"To the charge!"

Evidence was soon given of the importance of this new nation,
when it became forced to take up arms against enemies still more
redoubtable than the counts. In 1301, the Flemings, who had abandoned
their own sovereign to attach themselves to Philip the Fair, king
of France, began to repent of their newly-formed allegiance,
and to be weary of the master they had chosen. Two citizens of
Bruges, Peter de Koning, a draper, and John Breydel, a butcher,
put themselves at the head of their fellow-townsmen, and completely
dislodged the French troops who garrisoned it. The following year
the militia of Bruges and the immediate neighborhood sustained
alone, at the battle of Courtrai, the shock of one of the finest
armies that France ever sent into the field. Victory soon declared
for the gallant men of Bruges; upward of three thousand of the
French chivalry, besides common soldiers, were left dead on the
field. In 1304, after a long contested battle, the Flemings forced
the king of France to release their count, whom he had held prisoner.
"I believe it rains Flemings!" said Philip, astonished to see them
crowd on him from all sides of the field. But this multitude
of warriors, always ready to meet the foe, were provided for
the most part by the towns. In the seigniorial system a village
hardly furnished more than four or five men, and these only on
important occasions; but in that of the towns every citizen was
enrolled as a soldier to defend the country at all times.

The same system established in Brabant forced the duke of that
province to sanction and guarantee the popular privileges, and
the superiority of the people over the nobility. Such was the
result of the famous contract concluded in 1312 at Cortenbergh,
by which the duke created a legislative and judicial assembly to
meet every twenty-one days for the, provincial business; and to
consist of fourteen deputies, of whom only four were to be nobles,
and ten were chosen from the people. The duke was bound by this
act to hold himself in obedience to the legislative decisions
of the council, and renounced all right of levying arbitrary
taxes or duties on the state. Thus were the local privileges
of the people by degrees secured and ratified; but the various
towns, making common cause for general liberty, became strictly
united together, and progressively extended their influence and
power. The confederation between Flanders and Brabant was soon
consolidated. The burghers of Bruges, who had taken the lead in
the grand national union, and had been the foremost to expel
the foreign force, took umbrage in 1323 at an arbitrary measure
of their count, Louis (called of Cressy by posthumous nomination,
from his having been killed at that celebrated fight), by which
he ceded to the count of Namur, his great-uncle, the port of
Ecluse, and authorized him to levy duties there in the style of
the feudal lords of the high country. It was but the affair of
a day to the intrepid citizens to attack the fortress of Ecluse,
carry it by assault, and take prisoner the old count of Namur.
They destroyed in a short time almost all the strong castles of
the nobles throughout the province; and having been joined by
all the towns of western Flanders, they finally made prisoners
of Count Louis himself, with almost the whole of the nobility,
who had taken refuge with him in the town of Courtrai. But Ghent,
actuated by the jealousy which at all times existed between it and
Bruges, stood aloof at this crisis. The latter town was obliged
to come to a compromise with the count, who soon afterward, on a
new quarrel breaking out, and supported by the king of France,
almost annihilated his sturdy opponents at the battle of Cassel,
where the Flemish infantry, commanded by Nicholas Zannekin and
others, were literally cut to pieces by the French knights and

This check proved the absolute necessity of union among the rival
cities. Ten years after the battle of Cassel, Ghent set the example
of general opposition; this example was promptly followed, and
the chief towns flew to arms. The celebrated James d'Artaveldt,
commonly called the brewer of Ghent, put himself at the head of
this formidable insurrection. He was a man of a distinguished
family, who had himself enrolled among the guild of brewers, to
entitle him to occupy a place in the corporation of Ghent, which
he soon succeeded in managing and leading at his pleasure. The
tyranny of the count, and the French party which supported him,
became so intolerable to Artaveldt, that he resolved to assail
them at all hazards, unappalled by the fate of his father-in-law,
Sohier de Courtrai, who lost his head for a similar attempt,
and notwithstanding the hitherto devoted fidelity of his native
city to the count. One only object seemed insurmountable. The
Flemings had sworn allegiance to the crown of France; and they
revolted at the idea of perjury, even from an extorted oath.
But to overcome their scruples, Artaveldt proposed to acknowledge
the claim of Edward III. of England to the French crown. The
Flemings readily acceded to this arrangement; quickly overwhelmed
Count Louis of Cressy and his French partisans; and then joined,
with an army of sixty thousand men, the English monarch, who had
landed at Antwerp. These numerous auxiliaries rendered Edward's
army irresistible; and soon afterward the French and English
fleets, both of formidable power, but the latter of inferior
force, met near Sluys, and engaged in a battle meant to be decisive
of the war: victory remained doubtful during an entire day of
fighting, until a Flemish squadron, hastening to the aid of the
English, fixed the fate of the combat by the utter defeat of
the enemy.

A truce between the two kings did not deprive Artaveldt of his
well-earned authority. He was invested with the title of ruward,
or conservator of the peace, of Flanders, and governed the whole
province with almost sovereign sway. It was said that King Edward
used familiarly to call him "his dear gossip"; and it is certain
that there was not a feudal lord of the time whose power was
not eclipsed by this leader of the people. One of the principal
motives which cemented the attachment of the Flemings to Artaveldt
was the advantage obtained through his influence with Edward for
facilitating the trade with England, whence they procured the
chief supply of wool for their manufactories. Edward promised
them seventy thousand sacks as the reward of their alliance. But
though greatly influenced by the stimulus of general interest,
the Flemings loved their domestic liberty better than English
wool; and when they found that their ruward degenerated from a
firm patriot into the partisan of a foreign prince, they became
disgusted with him altogether; and he perished in 1345, in a
tumult raised against him by those by whom he had been so lately
idolized. The Flemings held firm, nevertheless, in their alliance
with England, only regulating the connection by a steady principle
of national independence.

Edward knew well how to conciliate and manage these faithful
and important auxiliaries during all his continental wars. A
Flemish army covered the siege of Calais in 1348; and, under
the command of Giles de Rypergherste, a mere weaver of Ghent,
they beat the dauphin of France in a pitched battle. But Calais
once taken, and a truce concluded, the English king abandoned
his allies. These, left wholly to their own resources, forced
the French and the heir of their count, young Louis de Male,
to recognize their right to self-government according to their
ancient privileges, and of not being forced to give aid to France
in any war against England. Flanders may therefore be pronounced
as forming, at this epoch, both in right and fact, a truly
independent principality.

But such struggles as these left a deep and immovable sentiment
of hatred in the minds of the vanquished. Louis de Male longed
for the re-establishment and extension of his authority; and
had the art to gain over to his views not only all the nobles,
but many of the most influential guilds or trades. Ghent, which
long resisted his attempts, was at length reduced by famine; and
the count projected the ruin, or at least the total subjection,
of this turbulent town. A son of Artaveldt started forth at this
juncture, when the popular cause seemed lost, and joining with
his fellow-citizens, John Lyons and Peter du Bois, he led seven
thousand resolute burghers against forty thousand feudal vassals.
He completely defeated the count, and took the town of Bruges,
where Louis de Male only obtained safety by hiding himself under
the bed of an old woman who gave him shelter. Thus once more
feudality was defeated in a fresh struggle with civic freedom.

The consequences of this event were immense. They reached to the
very heart of France, where the people bore in great discontent
the feudal yoke; and Froissart declares that the success of the
people of Gheut had nearly overthrown the superiority of the
nobility over the people in France. But the king, Charles VI.,
excited by his uncle, Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy, took arms
in support of the defeated count, and marched with a powerful army
against the rebellious burghers. Though defeated in four successive
combats, in the latter of which, that of Roosbeke, Artaveldt
was killed, the Flemings would not submit to their imperious
count, who used every persuasion with Charles to continue his
assistance for the punishment of these refractory subjects. But
the duke of Burgundy was aware that a too great perseverance would
end, either in driving the people to despair and the possible
defeat of the French, or the entire conquest of the country and
its junction to the crown of France. He, being son-in-law to
Louis de Male, and consequently aspiring to the inheritance of
Flanders, saw with a keen glance the advantage of a present
compromise. On the death of Louis, who is stated to have been
murdered by Philip's brother, the duke of Berri, be concluded
a peace with the rebel burghers, and entered at once upon the
sovereignty of the country.



A.D. 1384--1506

Thus the house of Burgundy, which soon after became so formidable
and celebrated, obtained this vast accession to its power. The
various changes which had taken place in the neighboring provinces
during the continuance of these civil wars had altered the state
of Flanders altogether. John d'Avesnes, count of Hainault, having
also succeeded in 1299 to the county of Holland, the two provinces,
though separated by Flanders and Brabant, remained from that
time under the government of the same chief, who soon became
more powerful than the bishops of Utrecht, or even than their
formidable rivals the Frisons.

During the wars which desolated these opposing territories, in
consequence of the perpetual conflicts for superiority, the power
of the various towns insensibly became at least as great as that
of the nobles to whom they were constantly opposed. The commercial
interests of Holland, also, were considerably advanced by the
influx of Flemish merchants forced to seek refuge there from the
convulsions which agitated their province. Every day confirmed
and increased the privileges of the people of Brabant; while at
Liege the inhabitants gradually began to gain the upper hand,
and to shake off the former subjection to their sovereign bishops.

Although Philip of Burgundy became count of Flanders, by the
death of his father-in-law, in the year 1384, it was not till
the following year that he concluded a peace with the people
of Ghent, and entered into quiet possession of the province.
In the same year the duchess of Brabant, the last descendant
of the duke of that province, died, leaving no nearer relative
than the duchess of Burgundy; so that Philip obtained in right
of his wife this new and important accession to his dominions.
But the consequent increase of the sovereign's power was not,
as is often the case, injurious to the liberties or happiness
of the people. Philip continued to govern in the interest of the
country, which he had the good sense to consider as identified
with his own. He augmented the privileges of the towns, and
negotiated for the return into Flanders of those merchants who
had emigrated to Germany and Holland during the continuance of
the civil wars. He thus by degrees accustomed his new subjects,
so proud of their rights, to submit to his authority; and his
peaceable reign was only disturbed by the fatal issue of the
expedition of his son, John the Fearless, count of Nevers, against
the Turks. This young prince, filled with ambition and temerity,
was offered the command of the force sent by Charles III. of France
to the assistance of Sigismund of Hungary in his war against
Bajazet. Followed by a numerous body of nobles, he entered on
the contest, and was defeated and taken prisoner by the Turks
at the battle of Nicopolis. His army was totally destroyed, and
himself only restored to liberty on the payment of an immense

John the Fearless succeeded in 1404 to the inheritance of all
his father's dominions, with the exception of Brabant, of which
his younger brother, Anthony of Burgundy, became duke. John, whose
ambitious and ferocious character became every day more strongly
developed, now aspired to the government of France during the
insanity of his cousin Charles VI. He occupied himself little
with the affairs of the Netherlands, from which he only desired
to draw supplies of men. But the Flemings, taking no interest in
his personal views or private projects, and equally indifferent
to the rivalry of England and France, which now began so fearfully
to affect the latter kingdom, forced their ambitious count to
declare their province a neutral country; so that the English
merchants were admitted as usual to trade in all the ports of
Flanders, and the Flemings equally well received in England,
while the duke made open war against Great Britain in his quality
of a prince of France and sovereign of Burgundy. This is probably
the earliest well-established instance of such a distinction
between the prince and the people.

Anthony, duke of Brabant, the brother of Philip, was not so closely
restricted in his authority and wishes. He led all the nobles
of the province to take part in the quarrels of France; and he
suffered the penalty of his rashness in meeting his death in
the battle of Agincourt. But the duchy suffered nothing by this
event, for the militia of the country had not followed their
duke and his nobles to the war; and a national council was now
established, consisting of eleven persons, two of whom were
ecclesiastics, three barons, two knights, and four commoners.
This council, formed on principles so fairly popular, conducted
the public affairs with great wisdom during the minority of the
young duke. Each province seems thus to have governed itself
upon principles of republican independence. The sovereigns could
not at discretion, or by the want of it, play the bloody game
of war for their mere amusement; and the emperor putting in his
claim at this epoch to his ancient rights of sovereignty over
Brabant, as an imperial fief, the council and the people treated
the demand with derision.

The spirit of constitutional liberty and legal equality which
now animated the various provinces is strongly marked in the
history of the time by two striking and characteristic incidents.
At the death of Philip the Bold, his widow deposited on his tomb
her purse, and the keys which she carried at her girdle in token
of marriage; and by this humiliating ceremony she renounced her
rights to a succession overloaded with her husband's debts. In
the same year (1404) the widow of Albert, count of Holland and
Hainault, finding herself in similar circumstances, required of
the bailiff of Holland and the judges of his court permission to
make a like renunciation. The claim was granted; and, to fulfil
the requisite ceremony, she walked at the head of the funeral
procession, carrying in her hand a blade of straw, which she
placed on the coffin. We thus find that in such cases the reigning
families were held liable to follow the common usages of the
country. From such instances there required but little progress
in the principle of equality to reach the republican contempt for
rank which made the citizens of Bruges in the following century
arrest their count for his private debts.

The spirit of independence had reached the same point at Liege.
The families of the counts of Holland and Hainault, which were at
this time distinguished by the name of Bavaria, because they were
only descended from the ancient counts of Netherland extraction in
the female line, had sufficient influence to obtain the nomination
to the bishopric for a prince who was at the period in his infancy.
John of Bavaria--for so he was called, and to his name was afterward
added the epithet of "the Pitiless"--on reaching his majority,
did not think it necessary to cause himself to be consecrated a
priest, but governed as a lay sovereign. The indignant citizens
of Liege expelled him, and chose another bishop. But the Houses
of Burgundy and Bavaria, closely allied by intermarriages, made
common cause in his quarrel; and John, duke of Burgundy, and
William IV., count of Holland and Hainault, brother of the bishop,
replaced by force this cruel and unworthy prelate.

This union of the government over all the provinces in two families
so closely connected rendered the preponderance of the rulers
too strong for that balance hitherto kept steady by the popular
force. The former could on each new quarrel join together, and
employ against any particular town their whole united resources;
whereas the latter could only act by isolated efforts for the
maintenance of their separate rights. Such was the cause of a
considerable decline in public liberty during the fifteenth century.
It is true that John the Fearless gave almost his whole attention
to his French political intrigues, and to the fierce quarrels
which he maintained with the House of Orleans. But his nephew,
John, duke of Brabant, having married, in 1416, his cousin
Jacqueline, daughter and heiress of William IV., count of Holland
and Hainault, this branch of the House of Burgundy seemed to get
the start of the elder in its progressive influence over the
provinces of the Netherlands. The dukes of Guelders, who had
changed their title of counts for one of superior rank, acquired
no accession of power proportioned to their new dignity. The
bishops of Utrecht became by degrees weaker; private dissensions
enfeebled Friesland; Luxemburg was a poor, unimportant dukedom;
but Holland, Hainault, and Brabant formed the very heart of the
Netherlands; while the elder branch of the same family, under
whom they were united, possessed Flanders, Artois, and the two
Burgundies. To complete the prosperity and power of this latter
branch, it was soon destined to inherit the entire dominions
of the other.

A fact the consequences of which were so important for the entire
of Europe merits considerable attention; but it is most difficult
to explain at once concisely and clearly the series of accidents,
manoeuvres, tricks, and crimes by which it was accomplished. It
must first be remarked that this John of Brabant, become the
husband of his cousin Jacqueline, countess of Holland and Hainault,
possessed neither the moral nor physical qualities suited to
mate with the most lovely, intrepid, and talented woman of her
times; nor the vigor and firmness required for the maintenance
of an increased, and for those days a considerable, dominion.
Jacqueline thoroughly despised her insignificant husband; first
in secret, and subsequently by those open avowals forced from
her by his revolting combination of weakness, cowardice, and
tyranny. He tamely allowed the province of Holland to be invaded
by the same ungrateful bishop of Liege, John the Pitiless, whom
his wife's father and his own uncle had re-established in his
justly forfeited authority. But John of Brabant revenged himself
for his wife's contempt by a series of domestic persecutions so
odious that the states of Brabant interfered for her protection.
Finding it, however, impossible to remain in a perpetual contest
with a husband whom she hated and despised, she fled from Brussels,
where he held his ducal court, and took refuge in England, under
the protection of Henry V., at that time in the plenitude of
his fame and power.

England at this epoch enjoyed the proudest station in European
affairs. John the Fearless, after having caused the murder of
his rival, the duke of Orleans, was himself assassinated on the
bridge of Montereau by the followers of the dauphin of France, and
in his presence. Philip, duke of Burgundy, the son and successor
of John, had formed a close alliance with Henry V., to revenge
his father's murder; and soon after the death of the king he
married his sister, and thus united himself still more nearly to
the celebrated John, duke of Bedford, brother of Henry, and regent
of France, in the name of his infant nephew, Henry VI. But besides
the share on which he reckoned in the spoils of France, Philip
also looked with a covetous eye on the inheritance of Jacqueline,
his cousin. As soon as he had learned that this princess, so
well received in England, was taking measures for having her
marriage annulled, to enable her to espouse the duke of Gloucester,
also the brother of Henry V., and subsequently known by the
appellation of "the good duke Humphrey," he was tormented by a
double anxiety. He, in the first place, dreaded that Jacqueline
might have children by her projected marriage with Gloucester (a
circumstance neither likely nor even possible, in the opinion of
some historians, to result from her union with John of Brabant:
Hume, vol. iii., p. 133), and thus deprive him of his right of
succession to her states; and in the next, he was jealous of
the possible domination of England in the Netherlands as well
as in France. He therefore soon became self-absolved from all
his vows of revenge in the cause of his murdered father, and
labored solely for the object of his personal aggrandizement.
To break his connection with Bedford; to treat secretly with
the dauphin, his father's assassin, or at least the witness and
warrant for his assassination; and to shuffle from party to party
as occasion required, were movements of no difficulty to Philip,
surnamed "the Good." He openly espoused the cause of his infamous
relative, John of Brabant; sent a powerful army into Hainault,
which Gloucester vainly strove to defend in right of his affianced
wife; and next seized on Holland and Zealand, where he met with
a long but ineffectual resistance on the part of the courageous
woman he so mercilessly oppressed. Jacqueline, deprived of the
assistance of her stanch but ruined friends,[1] and abandoned
by Gloucester (who, on the refusal of Pope Martin V. to sanction
her divorce, had married another woman, and but feebly aided
the efforts of the former to maintain her rights), was now left
a widow by the death of John of Brabant. But Philip, without a
shadow of justice, pursued his designs against her dominions,
and finally despoiled her of her last possessions, and even of
the title of countess, which she forfeited by her marriage with
Vrank Van Borselen, a gentleman of Zealand, contrary to a compact
to which Philip's tyranny had forced her to consent. After a career
the most checkered and romantic which is recorded in history, the
beautiful and hitherto unfortunate Jacqueline found repose and
happiness in the tranquillity of private life, and her death
in 1436, at the age of thirty-six, removed all restraint from
Philip's thirst for aggrandizement, in the indulgence of which
he drowned his remorse. As if fortune had conspired for the rapid
consolidation of his greatness, the death of Philip, count of
St. Pol, who had succeeded his brother John in the dukedom of
Brabant, gave him the sovereignty of that extensive province;
and his dominions soon extended to the very limits of Picardy,
by the Peace of Arras, concluded with the dauphin, now become
Charles VII., and by his finally contracting a strict alliance
with France.

[Footnote 1: We must not omit to notice the existence of two
factions, which, for near two centuries, divided and agitated
the whole population of Holland and Zealand. One bore the title
of _Hoeks_ (fishing-hooks); the other was called _Kaabel-jauws_
(cod-fish). The origin of these burlesque denominations was a
dispute between two parties at a feast, as to whether the cod-fish
took the hook or the hook the cod-fish? This apparently frivolous
dispute was made the pretext for a serious quarrel; and the partisans
of the nobles and those of the towns ranged themselves at either
side, and assumed different badges of distinction. The _Hoeks_,
partisans of the towns, wore red caps; the _Kaabeljauws_ wore
gray ones. In Jacqueline's quarrel with Philip of Burgundy, she
was supported by the former; and it was not till the year 1492
that the extinction of that popular and turbulent faction struck
a final blow to the dissensions of both.]

Philip of Burgundy, thus become sovereign of dominions at once so
extensive and compact, had the precaution and address to obtain
from the emperor a formal renunciation of his existing, though
almost nominal, rights as lord paramount. He next purchased the
title of the duchess of Luxemburg to that duchy; and thus the
states of the House of Burgundy gained an extent about equal to
that of the existing kingdom of the Netherlands. For although on
the north and east they did not include Friesland, the bishopric
of Utrecht, Guelders, or the province of Liege, still on the south
and west they comprised French Flanders, the Boulonnais, Artois,
and a part of Picardy, besides Burgundy. But it has been already
seen how limited an authority was possessed by the rulers of the
maritime provinces. Flanders in particular, the most populous
and wealthy, strictly preserved its republican institutions.
Ghent and Bruges were the two great towns of the province, and
each maintained its individual authority over its respective
territory, with great indifference to the will or the wishes of
the sovereign duke. Philip, however, had the policy to divide
most effectually these rival towns. After having fallen into
the hands of the people of Bruges, whom he made a vain attempt
to surprise, and who massacred numbers of his followers before
his eyes, he forced them to submission by the assistance of the
citizens of Ghent, who sanctioned the banishment of the chief
men of the vanquished town. But some years later Ghent was in
its turn oppressed and punished for having resisted the payment
of some new tax. It found no support from the rest of Flanders.
Nevertheless this powerful city singly maintained the war for
the space of two years; but the intrepid burghers finally yielded
to the veterans of the duke, formed to victory in the French
wars. The principal privileges of Ghent were on this occasion
revoked and annulled.

During these transactions the province of Holland, which enjoyed
a degree of liberty almost equal to Flanders, had declared war
against the Hanseatic towns on its own proper authority. Supported
by Zealand, which formed a distinct country, but was strictly united
to it by a common interest, Holland equipped a fleet against the
pirates which infested their coasts and assailed their commerce,
and soon forced them to submission. Philip in the meantime contrived
to manage the conflicting elements of his power with great subtlety.
Notwithstanding his ambitious and despotic character, he conducted
himself so cautiously that his people by common consent confirmed
his title of "the Good," which was somewhat inappropriately given
to him at the very epoch when he appeared to deserve it least. Age
and exhaustion may be adduced among the causes of the toleration
which signalized his latter years; and if he was the usurper of
some parts of his dominions, he cannot be pronounced a tyrant
over any.

Philip had an only son, born and reared in the midst of that
ostentatious greatness which he looked on as his own by divine
right; whereas his father remembered that it had chiefly become
his by fortuitous acquirement, and much of it by means not likely
to look well in the sight of Heaven. This son was Charles, count of
Charolois, afterward celebrated under the name of Charles the Rash.
He gave, even in the lifetime of his father, a striking specimen
of despotism to the people of Holland. Appointed stadtholder of
that province in 1457, he appropriated to himself several important
successions; forced the inhabitants to labor in the formation of
dikes for the security of the property thus acquired; and, in a
word, conducted himself as an absolute master. Soon afterward he
broke out into open opposition to his father, who had complained of
this undutiful and impetuous son to the states of the provinces,
venting his grief in lamentations instead of punishing his people's
wrongs. But his private rage burst forth one day in a manner as
furious as his public expressions were tame. He went so far as
to draw his sword on Charles and pursue him through his palace;
and a disgusting yet instructive spectacle it was, to see this
father and son in mutual and disgraceful discord, like two birds
of prey quarrelling in the same eyry; the old count outrageous
to find he was no longer undisputed sovereign, and the young
one in feeling that he had not yet become so. But Philip was
declining daily. Yet even when dying he preserved his natural
haughtiness and energy; and being provoked by the insubordination
of the people of Liege, he had himself carried to the scene of
their punishment. The refractory town of Dinant, on the Meuse,
was utterly destroyed by the two counts, and six hundred of the
citizens drowned in the river, and in cold blood. The following
year Philip expired, leaving to Charles his long-wished-for

The reign of Philip had produced a revolution in Belgian manners;
for his example and the great increase of wealth had introduced
habits of luxury hitherto quite unknown. He had also brought into
fashion romantic notions of military honor, love, and chivalry;
which, while they certainly softened the character of the nobility,
contained nevertheless a certain mixture of frivolity and
extravagance. The celebrated order of the Golden Fleece, which
was introduced by Philip, was less an institution based on grounds
of rational magnificence than a puerile emblem of his passion
for Isabella of Portugal, his third wife. The verses of a
contemporary poet induced him to make a vow for the conquest
of Constantinople from the Turks. He certainly never attempted
to execute this senseless crusade; but he did not omit so fair
an opportunity for levying new taxes on his people. And it is
undoubted that the splendor of his court and the immorality of
his example were no slight sources of corruption to the countries
which he governed.

In this respect, at least, a totally different kind of government
was looked for on the part of his son and successor, who was by
nature and habit a mere soldier. Charles began his career by
seizing on all the money and jewels left by his father; he next
dismissed the crowd of useless functionaries who had fed upon,
under the pretence of managing, the treasures of the state. But
this salutary and sweeping reform was only effected to enable the
sovereign to pursue uncontrolled the most fatal of all passions,
that of war. Nothing can better paint the true character of this
haughty and impetuous prince than his crest (a branch of holly),
and his motto, "Who touches it, pricks himself." Charles had
conceived a furious and not ill-founded hatred for his base yet
formidable neighbor and rival, Louis XI. of France. The latter
had succeeded in obtaining from Philip the restitution of some
towns in Picardy; cause sufficient to excite the resentment of
his inflammable successor, who, during his father's lifetime,
took open part with some of the vassals of France in a temporary
struggle against the throne. Louis, who had been worsted in a
combat where both he and Charles bore a part, was not behindhand
in his hatred. But inasmuch as one was haughty, audacious, and
intemperate, the other was cunning, cool, and treacherous. Charles
was the proudest, most daring, and most unmanageable prince that
ever made the sword the type and the guarantee of greatness;
Louis the most subtle, dissimulating, and treacherous king that
ever wove in his closet a tissue of hollow diplomacy and bad
faith in government. The struggle between these sovereigns was
unequal only in respect to this difference of character; for
France, subdivided as it still was, and exhausted by the wars
with England, was not comparable, either as regarded men, money,
or the other resources of the state, to the compact and prosperous
dominions of Burgundy.

Charles showed some symptoms of good sense and greatness of mind,
soon after his accession to power, that gave a false coloring to
his disposition, and encouraged illusory hopes as to his future
career. Scarcely was he proclaimed count of Flanders at Ghent,
when the populace, surrounding his hotel, absolutely insisted
on and extorted his consent to the restitution of their ancient
privileges. Furious as Charles was at this bold proof of
insubordination, he did not revenge it; and he treated with equal
indulgence the city of Mechlin, which had expelled its governor
and razed the citadel. The people of Liege, having revolted against
their bishop, Louis of Bourbon, who was closely connected with
the House of Burgundy, were defeated by the duke in 1467, but
he treated them with clemency; and immediately after this event,
in February, 1468, he concluded with Edward IV. of England an
alliance, offensive and defensive, against France.

The real motive of this alliance was rivalry and hatred against
Louis. The ostensible pretext was this monarch's having made war
against the duke of Brittany, Charles's old ally in the short
contest in which he, while yet but count, had measured his strength
with his rival after he became king. The present union between
England and Burgundy was too powerful not to alarm Louis; he
demanded an explanatory conference with Charles, and the town
of Peronne in Picardy was fixed on for their meeting. Louis,
willing to imitate the boldness of his rival, who had formerly
come to meet him in the very midst of his army, now came to the
rendezvous almost alone. But he was severely mortified and near
paying a greater penalty than fright for this hazardous conduct.
The duke, having received intelligence of a new revolt at Liege
excited by some of the agents of France, instantly made Louis
prisoner, in defiance of every law of honor or fair dealing. The
excess of his rage and hatred might have carried him to a more
disgraceful extremity, had not Louis, by force of bribery, gained
over some of his most influential counsellors, who succeeded in
appeasing his rage. He contented himself with humiliating, when
he was disposed to punish. He forced his captive to accompany him
to Liege, and witness the ruin of this unfortunate town, which
he delivered over to plunder; and having given this lesson to
Louis, he set him at liberty.

From this period there was a marked and material change in the
conduct of Charles. He had been previously moved by sentiments
of chivalry and notions of greatness. But sullied by his act of
public treachery and violence toward the monarch who had, at
least in seeming, manifested unlimited confidence in his honor,
a secret sense of shame embittered his feelings and soured his
temper. He became so insupportable to those around him that he
was abandoned by several of his best officers, and even by his
natural brother, Baldwin of Burgundy, who passed over to the side
of Louis. Charles was at this time embarrassed by the expense
of entertaining and maintaining Edward IV. and numerous English
exiles, who were forced to take refuge in the Netherlands by
the successes of the earl of Warwick, who had replaced Henry
VI. on the throne. Charles at the same time held out to several
princes in Europe hopes of bestowing on them in marriage his
only daughter and heiress Mary, while he privately assured his
friends, if his courtiers and ministers may be so called, "that
he never meant to have a son-in-law until he was disposed to
make himself a monk." In a word, he was no longer guided by any
principle but that of fierce and brutal selfishness.

In this mood he soon became tired of the service of his nobles
and of the national militia, who only maintained toward him a
forced and modified obedience founded on the usages and rights
of their several provinces; and he took into his pay all sorts
of adventurers and vagabonds who were willing to submit to him as
their absolute master. When the taxes necessary for the support
and pay of these bands of mercenaries caused the people to murmur,
Charles laughed at their complaints, and severely punished some
of the most refractory. He then entered France at the head of
his army, to assist the duke of Brittany; but at the moment when
nothing seemed to oppose the most extensive views of his ambition
he lost by his hot-brained caprice every advantage within his
easy reach: he chose to sit down before Beauvais; and thus made
of this town, which lay in his road, a complete stumbling-block
on his path of conquest.

The time he lost before its walls caused the defeat and ruin
of his unsupported, or as might be said his abandoned, ally,
who made the best terms he could with Louis; and thus Charles's
presumption and obstinacy paralyzed all the efforts of his courage
and power. But he soon afterward acquired the duchy of Guelders
from the old Duke Arnoul, who had been temporarily despoiled of
it by his son Adolphus. It was almost a hereditary consequence in
this family that the children should revolt and rebel against their
parents. Adolphus had the effrontery to found his justification
on the argument that his father having reigned forty-four years,
he was fully entitled to his share--a fine practical authority
for greedy and expectant heirs. The old father replied to this
reasoning by offering to meet his son in single combat. Charles
cut short the affair by making Adolphus prisoner and seizing
on the disputed territory; for which he, however, paid Arnoul
the sum of two hundred and twenty thousand florins.

After this acquisition Charles conceived and had much at heart
the design of becoming king, the first time that the Netherlands
were considered sufficiently important and consolidated to entitle
their possessor to that title. To lead to this object he offered
to the emperor of Germany the hand of his daughter Mary for his
son Maximilian. The emperor acceded to this proposition, and
repaired to the city of Treves to meet Charles and countenance
his coronation. But the insolence and selfishness of the latter
put an end to the project. He humiliated the emperor, who was of
a niggardly and mean-spirited disposition, by appearing with a
train so numerous and sumptuous as totally to eclipse the imperial
retinue; and deeply offended him by wishing to postpone the marriage,
from his jealousy of creating for himself a rival in a son-in-law
who might embitter his old age as he had done that of his own
father. The mortified emperor quitted the place in high dudgeon,
and the projected kingdom was doomed to a delay of some centuries.

Charles, urged on by the double motive of thirst for aggrandizement
and vexation at his late failure, attempted, under pretext of
some internal dissensions, to gain possession of Cologne and
its territory, which belonged to the empire; and at the same
time planned the invasion of France, in concert with his
brother-in-law Edward IV., who had recovered possession of England.
But the town of Nuys, in the archbishopric of Cologne, occupied
him a full year before its walls. The emperor, who came to its
succor, actually besieged the besiegers in their camp; and the
dispute was terminated by leaving it to the arbitration of the
pope's legate, and placing the contested town in his keeping.
This half triumph gained by Charles saved Louis wholly from
destruction. Edward, who had landed in France with a numerous
force, seeing no appearance of his Burgundian allies, made peace
with Louis; and Charles, who arrived in all haste, but not till
after the treaty was signed, upbraided and abused the English
king, and turned a warm friend into an inveterate enemy.

Louis, whose crooked policy had so far succeeded on all occasions,
now seemed to favor Charles's plans of aggrandizement, and to
recognize his pretended right to Lorraine, which legitimately
belonged to the empire, and the invasion of which by Charles would
be sure to set him at variance with the whole of Germany. The
infatuated duke, blind to the ruin to which he was thus hurrying,
abandoned to Louis, in return for this insidious support, the
constable of St. Pol; a nobleman who had long maintained his
independence in Picardy, where he had large possessions, and
who was fitted to be a valuable friend or formidable enemy to
either. Charles now marched against, and soon overcame, Lorraine.
Thence he turned his army against the Swiss, who were allies
to the conquered province, but who sent the most submissive
dissuasions to the invader. They begged for peace, assuring Charles
that their romantic but sterile mountains were not altogether
worth the bridles of his splendidly equipped cavalry. But the
more they humbled themselves, the higher was his haughtiness
raised. It appeared that he had at this period conceived the
project of uniting in one common conquest the ancient dominions
of Lothaire I., who had possessed the whole of the countries
traversed by the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Po; and he even spoke
of passing the Alps, like Hannibal, for the invasion of Italy.

Switzerland was, by moral analogy as well as physical fact, the
rock against which these extravagant projects were shattered.
The army of Charles, which engaged the hardy mountaineers in
the gorges of the Alps near the town of Granson, were literally
crushed to atoms by the stones and fragments of granite detached
from the heights and hurled down upon their heads. Charles, after
this defeat, returned to the charge six weeks later, having rallied
his army and drawn reinforcements from Burgundy. But Louis had
despatched a body of cavalry to the Swiss--a force in which they
were before deficient; and thus augmented, their army amounted
to thirty-four thousand men. They took up a position, skilfully
chosen, on the borders of the Lake of Morat, where they were
attacked by Charles at the head of sixty thousand soldiers of
all ranks. The result was the total defeat of the latter, with
the loss of ten thousand killed, whose bones, gathered into an
immense heap, and bleaching in the winds, remained for above
three centuries; a terrible monument of rashness and injustice
on the one hand, and of patriotism and valor on the other.

Charles was now plunged into a state of profound melancholy;
but he soon burst from this gloomy mood into one of renewed
fierceness and fatal desperation. Nine months after the battle
of Morat he re-entered Lorraine, at the head of an army, not
composed of his faithful militia of the Netherlands, but of those
mercenaries in whom it was madness to place trust. The reinforcements
meant to be despatched to him by those provinces were kept back
by the artifices of the count of Campo Basso, an Italian who
commanded his cavalry, and who only gained his confidence basely
to betray it. Rene, duke of Lorraine, at the head of the confederate
forces, offered battle to Charles under the walls of Nancy; and
the night before the combat Campo Basso went over to the enemy
with the troops under his command. Still Charles had the way
open for retreat. Fresh troops from Burgundy and Flanders were
on their march to join him; but he would not be dissuaded from
his resolution to fight, and he resolved to try his fortune once
more with his dispirited and shattered army. On this occasion the
fate of Charles was decided, and the fortune of Louis triumphant.
The rash and ill-fated duke lost both the battle and his life.
His body, mutilated with wounds, was found the next day, and
buried with great pomp in the town of Nancy, by the orders of
the generous victor, the duke of Lorraine.

Thus perished the last prince of the powerful House of Burgundy.
Charles left to his only daughter, then eighteen years of age,
the inheritance of his extensive dominions, and with them that of
the hatred and jealousy which he had so largely excited. External
spoliation immediately commenced, and internal disunion quickly
followed. Louis XI. seized on Burgundy and a part of Artois, as
fiefs devolving to the crown in default of male issue. Several
of the provinces refused to pay the new subsidies commanded in
the name of Mary; Flanders alone showing a disposition to uphold
the rights of the young princess. The states were assembled at
Ghent, and ambassadors sent to the king of France in the hopes
of obtaining peace on reasonable terms. Louis, true to his system
of subtle perfidy, placed before one of those ambassadors, the
burgomaster of Ghent, a letter from the inexperienced princess,
which proved her intention to govern by the counsel of her father's
ancient ministers rather than by that of the deputies of the
nation. This was enough to decide the indignant Flemings to render
themselves at once masters of the government and get rid of the
ministers whom they hated. Two Burgundian nobles, Hugonet and
Imbercourt, were arrested, accused of treason, and beheaded under
the very eyes of their agonized and outraged mistress, who threw
herself before the frenzied multitude, vainly imploring mercy
for these innocent men. The people having thus completely gained
the upper hand over the Burgundian influence, Mary was sovereign
of the Netherlands but in name.

It would have now been easy for Louis XI. to have obtained for
the dauphin, his son, the hand of this hitherto unfortunate but
interesting princess; but he thought himself sufficiently strong
and cunning to gain possession of her states without such an
alliance. Mary, however, thus in some measure disdained, if not
actually rejected, by Louis, soon after married her first-intended
husband, Maximilian of Austria, son of the emperor Frederick
III.; a prince so absolutely destitute, in consequence of his
father's parsimony, that she was obliged to borrow money from
the towns of Flanders to defray the expenses of his suite.
Nevertheless he seemed equally acceptable to his bride and to his
new subjects. They not only supplied all his wants, but enabled
him to maintain the war against Louis XI., whom they defeated at
the battle of Guinegate in Picardy, and forced to make peace on
more favorable terms than they had hoped for. But these wealthy
provinces were not more zealous for the national defence than bent
on the maintenance of their local privileges, which Maximilian
little understood, and sympathized with less. He was bred in the
school of absolute despotism; and his duchess having met with
a too early death by a fall from her horse in the year 1484, he
could not even succeed in obtaining the nomination of guardian to
his own children without passing through a year of civil war. His
power being almost nominal in the northern provinces, he vainly
attempted to suppress the violence of the factions of Hoeks and
Kaabeljauws. In Flanders his authority was openly resisted. The
turbulent towns of that country, and particularly Bruges, taking
umbrage at a government half German, half Burgundian, and altogether
hateful to the people, rose up against Maximilian, seized on
his person, imprisoned him in a house which still exists, and
put to death his most faithful followers. But the fury of Ghent
and other places becoming still more outrageous, Maximilian asked
as a favor from his rebel subjects of Bruges to be guarded while
a prisoner by them alone. He was then king of the Romans, and
all Europe became interested in his fate. The pope addressed
a brief to the town of Bruges, demanding his deliverance. But
the burghers were as inflexible as factious; and they at length
released him, but not until they had concluded with him and the
assembled states a treaty which most amply secured the enjoyment
of their privileges and the pardon of their rebellion.

But these kind of compacts were never observed by the princes of
those days beyond the actual period of their capacity to violate
them. The emperor having entered the Netherlands at the head of
forty thousand men, Maximilian, so supported, soon showed his
contempt for the obligations he had sworn to, and had recourse
to force for the extension of his authority. The valor of the
Flemings and the military talents of their leader, Philip of
Cleves, thwarted all his projects, and a new compromise was entered
into. Flanders paid a large subsidy, and held fast her rights.
The German troops were sent into Holland, and employed for the
extinction of the Hoeks; who, as they formed by far the weaker
faction, were now soon destroyed. That province, which had been so
long distracted by its intestine feuds, and which had consequently
played but an insignificant part in the transactions of the
Netherlands, now resumed its place; and acquired thenceforth new
honor, till it at length came to figure in all the importance
of historical distinction.

The situation of the Netherlands was now extremely precarious
and difficult to manage, during the unstable sway of a government
so weak as Maximilian's. But he having succeeded his father on the
imperial throne in 1493, and his son Philip having been proclaimed
the following year duke and count of the various provinces at
the age of sixteen, a more pleasing prospect was offered to the
people. Philip, young, handsome, and descended by his mother
from the ancient sovereigns of the country, was joyfully hailed
by all the towns. He did not belie the hopes so enthusiastically
expressed. He had the good sense to renounce all pretensions to
Friesland, the fertile source of many preceding quarrels and
sacrifices. He re-established the ancient commercial relations with
England, to which country Maximilian had given mortal-offence by
sustaining the imposture of Perkin Warbeck. Philip also consulted
the states-general on his projects of a double alliance between
himself and his sister with the son and daughter of Ferdinand,
king of Aragon, and Isabella, queen of Castile; and from this wise
precaution the project soon became one of national partiality instead
of private or personal interest. In this manner complete harmony
was established between the young prince and the inhabitants of
the Netherlands. All the ills produced by civil war disappeared
with immense rapidity in Flanders and Brabant, as soon as peace
was thus consolidated. Even Holland, though it had particularly
felt the scourge of these dissensions, and suffered severely
from repeated inundations, began to recover. Yet for all this,
Philip can be scarcely called a good prince: his merits were
negative rather than real. But that sufficed for the nation;
which found in the nullity of its sovereign no obstacle to the
resumption of that prosperous career which had been checked by
the despotism of the House of Burgundy, and the attempts of
Maximilian to continue the same system.

The reign of Philip, unfortunately a short one was rendered
remarkable by two intestine quarrels; one in Friesland, the other
in Guelders. The Frisons, who had been so isolated from the more
important affairs of Europe that they were in a manner lost sight
of by history for several centuries, had nevertheless their full
share of domestic disputes; too long, too multifarious, and too
minute, to allow us to give more than this brief notice of their
existence. But finally, about the period of Philip's accession,
eastern Friesland had chosen for its count a gentleman of the
country surnamed Edzart, who fixed the headquarters of his military
government at Embden. The sight of such an elevation in an individual
whose pretensions he thought far inferior to his own induced Albert
of Saxony, who had well served Maximilian against the refractory
Flemings, to demand as his reward the title of stadtholder or
hereditary governor of Friesland. But it was far easier for the
emperor to accede to this request than for his favorite to put
the grant into effect. The Frisons, true to their old character,
held firm to their privileges, and fought for their maintenance
with heroic courage. Albert, furious at this resistance, had the
horrid barbarity to cause to be impaled the chief burghers of the
town of Leuwaarden, which he had taken by assault. But he himself
died in the year 1500, without succeeding in his projects of an
ambition unjust in its principle and atrocious in its practice.

The war of Guelders was of a totally different nature. In this
case it was not a question of popular resistance to a tyrannical
nomination, but of patriotic fidelity to the reigning family.
Adolphus, the duke who had dethroned his father, had died in
Flanders, leaving a son who had been brought up almost a captive
as long as Maximilian governed the states of his inheritance.
This young man, called Charles of Egmont, and who is honored in
the history of his country under the title of the Achilles of
Guelders, fell into the hands of the French during the combat
in which he made his first essay in arms. The town of Guelders
unanimously joined to pay his ransom; and as soon as he was at
liberty they one and all proclaimed him duke. The emperor Philip
and the Germanic diet in vain protested against this measure,
and declared Charles a usurper. The spirit of justice and of
liberty spoke more loudly than the thunders of their ban; and the
people resolved to support to the last this scion of an ancient
race, glorious in much of its conduct, though often criminal in
many of its members. Charles of Egmont found faithful friends
in his devoted subjects; and he maintained his rights, sometimes
with, sometimes without, the assistance of France--making up for
his want of numbers by energy and enterprise. We cannot follow this
warlike prince in the long series of adventures which consolidated
his power; nor stop to depict his daring adherents on land, who
caused the whole of Holland to tremble at their deeds; nor his
pirates--the chief of whom, Long Peter, called himself king of
the Zuyder Zee. But amid all the consequent troubles of such a
struggle, it is marvellous to find Charles of Egmont upholding
his country in a state of high prosperity, and leaving it at his
death almost as rich as Holland itself.

The incapacity of Philip the Fair doubtless contributed to cause
him the loss of this portion of his dominions. This prince, after
his first acts of moderation and good sense, was remarkable only
as being the father of Charles V. The remainder of his life was
worn out in undignified pleasures; and he died almost suddenly,
in the year 1506, at Burgos in Castile, whither he had repaired
to pay a visit to his brother-in-law, the king of Spain.



A.D. 1506--1555

Philip being dead, and his wife, Joanna of Spain, having become
mad from grief at his loss, after nearly losing her senses from
jealousy during his life, the regency of the Netherlands reverted
to Maximilian, who immediately named his daughter Margaret
stadtholderess of the country. This princess, scarcely twenty-seven
years of age, had been, like the celebrated Jacqueline of Bavaria,
already three times married, and was now again a widow. Her first
husband, Charles VIII. of France, had broken from his contract
of marriage before its consummation; her second, the Infante
of Spain, died immediately after their union; and her third,
the duke of Savoy, left her again a widow after three years of
wedded life. She was a woman of talent and courage; both proved
by the couplet she composed for her own epitaph, at the very
moment of a dangerous accident which happened during her journey
into Spain to join her second affianced spouse.

  "Ci-git Margot la genre demoiselle,
  Qui eut deux maris, et si mourut pucelle."

  "Here gentle Margot quietly is laid,
  Who had two husbands, and yet died a maid."

She was received with the greatest joy by the people of the
Netherlands; and she governed them as peaceably as circumstances
allowed. Supported by England, she firmly maintained her authority
against the threats of France; and she carried on in person all
the negotiations between Louis XII., Maximilian, the pope Julius
II., and Ferdinand of Aragon, for the famous League of Venice.
These negotiations took place in 1508, at Cambray; where Margaret,
if we are to credit an expression to that effect in one of her
letters, was more than once on the point of having serious
differences with the cardinal of Amboise, minister of Louis XII.
But, besides her attention to the interests of her father on
this important occasion, she also succeeded in repressing the
rising pretensions of Charles of Egmont; and, assisted by the
interference of the king of France, she obliged him to give up
some places in Holland which he illegally held.

From this period the alliance between England and Spain raised
the commerce and manufactures of the southern provinces of the
Netherlands to a high degree of prosperity, while the northern
parts of the country were still kept down by their various
dissensions. Holland was at war with the Hanseatic towns. The
Frisons continued to struggle for freedom against the heirs of
Albert of Saxony. Utrecht was at variance with its bishop, and
finally recognized Charles of Egmont as its protector. The
consequence of all these causes was that the south took the start
in a course of prosperity, which was, however, soon to become
common to the whole nation.

A new rupture with France, in 1513, united Maximilian, Margaret,
and Henry VIII. of England, in one common cause. An English and
Belgian army, in which Maximilian figured as a spectator (taking
care to be paid by England), marched for the destruction of
Therouenne, and defeated and dispersed the French at the battle
of Spurs. But Louis XII. soon persuaded Henry to make a separate
peace; and the unconquerable duke of Guelders made Margaret and
the emperor pay the penalty of their success against France. He
pursued his victories in Friesland, and forced the country to
recognize him as stadtholder of Groningen, its chief town; while
the duke of Saxony at length renounced to another his unjust claim
on a territory which engulfed both his armies and his treasure.

About the same epoch (1515), young Charles, son of Philip the
Fair, having just attained his fifteenth year, was inaugurated
duke of Brabant and count of Flanders and Holland, having purchased
the presumed right of Saxony to the sovereignty of Friesland. In
the following year he was recognized as prince of Castile, in
right of his mother, who associated him with herself in the royal
power--a step which soon left her merely the title of queen. Charles
procured the nomination of bishop of Utrecht for Philip, bastard
of Burgundy, which made that province completely dependent on
him. But this event was also one of general and lasting importance
on another account. This Philip of Burgundy was deeply affected
by the doctrines of the Reformation, which had burst forth in
Germany. He held in abhorrence the superstitious observances
of the Romish Church, and set his face against the celibacy of
the clergy. His example soon influenced his whole diocese, and
the new notions on points of religion became rapidly popular.
It was chiefly, however, in Friesland that the people embraced
the opinions of Luther, which were quite conformable to many of
the local customs of which we have already spoken. The celebrated
Edzard, count of eastern Friesland, openly adopted the Reformation.
While Erasmus of Rotterdam, without actually pronouncing himself
a disciple of Lutheranism, effected more than all its advocates
to throw the abuses of Catholicism into discredit.

We may here remark that, during the government of the House of
Burgundy, the clergy of the Netherlands had fallen into considerable
disrepute. Intrigue and court favor alone had the disposal of
the benefices; while the career of commerce was open to the
enterprise of every spirited and independent competitor. The
Reformation, therefore, in the first instance found but a slight
obstacle in the opposition of a slavish and ignorant clergy,
and its progress was all at once prodigious. The refusal of the
dignity of emperor by Frederick "the Wise," duke of Saxony, to
whom it was offered by the electors, was also an event highly
favorable to the new opinions; for Francis I. of France, and
Charles, already king of Spain and sovereign of the Netherlands,
both claiming the succession to the empire, a sort of interregnum
deprived the disputed dominions of a chief who might lay the heavy
hand of power on the new-springing doctrines of Protestantism. At
length the intrigues of Charles, and his pretensions as grandson
of Maximilian, having caused him to be chosen emperor, a desperate
rivalry resulted between him and the French king, which for a
while absorbed his whole attention and occupied all his power.

From the earliest appearance of the Reformation, the young sovereign
of so many states, having to establish his authority at the two
extremities of Europe, could not efficiently occupy himself in
resisting the doctrines which, despite their dishonoring epithet
of heresy, were doomed so soon to become orthodox for a great
part of the Continent. While Charles vigorously put down the
revolted Spaniards, Luther gained new proselytes in Germany; so
that the very greatness of the sovereignty was the cause of his
impotency; and while Charles's extent of dominion thus fostered
the growing Reformation, his sense of honor proved the safeguard
of its apostle. The intrepid Luther, boldly venturing to appear
and plead its cause before the representative power of Germany
assembled at the Diet of Worms, was protected by the guarantee
of the emperor; unlike the celebrated and unfortunate John Huss;
who fell a victim to his own confidence and the bad faith of
Sigismund, in the year 1415.

Charles was nevertheless a zealous and rigid Catholic; and in the
Low Countries, where his authority was undisputed, he proscribed
the heretics, and even violated the privileges of the country
by appointing functionaries for the express purpose of their
pursuit and punishment. This imprudent stretch of power fostered
a rising spirit of opposition; for, though entertaining the best
disposition to their young prince, the people deeply felt and
loudly complained of the government; and thus the germs of a
mighty revolution gradually began to be developed.

Charles V. and Francis I. had been rivals for dignity and power,
and they now became implacable personal enemies. Young, ambitious,
and sanguine, they could not, without reciprocal resentment, pursue
in the same field objects essential to both. Charles, by a short
but timely visit to England in 1520, had the address to gain over
to his cause and secure for his purpose the powerful interest
of Cardinal Wolsey, and to make a most favorable impression on
Henry VIII.; and thus strengthened, he entered on the struggle
against his less wily enemy with infinite advantage. War was
declared on frivolous pretexts in 1521. The French sustained it
for some time with great valor; but Francis being obstinately
bent on the conquest of the Milanais, his reverses secured the
triumph of his rival, and he fell into the hands of the imperial
troops at the battle of Pavia in 1525. Charles's dominions in the
Netherlands suffered severely from the naval operations during
the war; for the French cruisers having, on repeated occasions,
taken, pillaged, and almost destroyed the principal resources
of the herring fishery, Holland and Zealand felt considerable
distress, which was still further augmented by the famine which
desolated these provinces in 1524.

While such calamities afflicted the northern portion of the
Netherlands, Flanders and Brabant continued to flourish, in spite
of temporary embarrassments. The bishop of Utrecht having died,
his successor found himself engaged in a hopeless quarrel with his
new diocese, already more than half converted to Protestantism;
and to gain a triumph over these enemies, even by the sacrifice
of his dignity, he ceded to the emperor in 1527 the whole of
his temporal power. The duke of Guelders, who then occupied the
city of Utrecht, redoubled his hostility at this intelligence;
and after having ravaged the neighboring country, he did not lay
down his arms till the subsequent year, having first procured
an honorable and advantageous peace. One year more saw the term
of this long-continued state of warfare by the Peace of Cambray,
between Charles and Francis, which was signed on the 5th of August,

This peace once concluded, the industry and perseverance of the
inhabitants of the Netherlands repaired in a short time the evils
caused by so many wars, excited by the ambition of princes, but
in scarcely any instance for the interest of the country. Little,
however, was wanting to endanger this tranquillity, and to excite
the people against each other on the score of religious dissension.
The sect of Anabaptists, whose wild opinions were subversive of
all principles of social order and every sentiment of natural
decency, had its birth in Germany, and found many proselytes in
the Netherlands. John Bokelszoon, a tailor of Leyden, one of
the number, caused himself to be proclaimed king of Jerusalem;
and making himself master of the town of Munster, sent out his
disciples to preach in the neighboring countries. Mary, sister
of Charles V., and queen-dowager of Hungary, the stadtholderess
of the Netherlands, proposed a crusade against this fanatic; which
was, however, totally discountenanced by the states. Encouraged
by impunity, whole troops of these infuriate sectarians, from
the very extremities of Hainault, put themselves into motion
for Munster; and notwithstanding the colds of February, they
marched along, quite naked, according to the system of their
sect. The frenzy of these fanatics being increased by persecution,
they projected attempts against several towns, and particularly
against Amsterdam. They were easily defeated, and massacred without
mercy; and it was only by multiplied and horrible executions
that their numbers were at length diminished. John Bokelszoon
held out at Munster, which was besieged by the bishop and the
neighboring princes. This profligate fanatic, who had married
no less than seventeen women, had gained considerable influence
over the insensate multitude; but he was at length taken and
imprisoned in an iron cage--an event which undeceived the greater
number of those whom he had persuaded of his superhuman powers.

The prosperity of the southern provinces proceeded rapidly and
uninterruptedly, in consequence of the great and valuable traffic
of the merchants of Flanders and Brabant, who exchanged their
goods of native manufacture for the riches drawn from America and
India by the Spaniards and Portuguese. Antwerp had succeeded to
Bruges as the general mart of commerce, and was the most opulent
town of the north of Europe. The expenses, estimated at one hundred
and thirty thousand golden crowns, which this city voluntarily
incurred, to do honor to the visit of Philip, son of Charles
V., are cited as a proof of its wealth. The value of the wool
annually imported for manufacture into the Low Countries from
England and Spain was calculated at four million pieces of gold.
Their herring fishery was unrivalled; for even the Scotch, on
whose coasts these fish were taken, did not attempt a competition
with the Zealanders. But the chief seat of prosperity was the
south. Flanders alone was taxed for one-third of the general
burdens of the state. Brabant paid only one-seventh less than
Flanders. So that these two rich provinces contributed thirteen
out of twenty-one parts of the general contribution; and all
the rest combined but eight. A search for further or minuter
proofs of the comparative state of the various divisions of the
country would be superfluous.

The perpetual quarrels of Charles V. with Francis I. and Charles
of Guelders led, as may be supposed, to a repeated state of
exhaustion, which forced the princes to pause, till the people
recovered strength and resources for each fresh encounter. Charles
rarely appeared in the Netherlands; fixing his residence chiefly in
Spain, and leaving to his sister the regulation of those distant
provinces. One of his occasional visits was for the purpose of
inflicting a terrible example upon them. The people of Ghent,
suspecting an improper or improvident application of the funds
they had furnished for a new campaign, offered themselves to
march against the French, instead of being forced to pay their
quota of some further subsidy. The government having rejected
this proposal, a sedition was the result, at the moment when
Charles and Francis already negotiated one of their temporary
reconciliations. On this occasion, Charles formed the daring
resolution of crossing the kingdom of France, to promptly take
into his own hands the settlement of this affair--trusting to
the generosity of his scarcely reconciled enemy not to abuse the
confidence with which he risked himself in his power. Ghent, taken
by surprise, did not dare to oppose the entrance of the emperor,
when he appeared before the walls; and the city was punished
with extreme severity. Twenty-seven leaders of the sedition were
beheaded; the principal privileges of the city were withdrawn,
and a citadel built to hold it in check for the future. Charles
met with neither opposition nor complaint. The province had so
prospered under his sway, and was so flattered by the greatness of
the sovereign, who was born in the town he so severely punished,
that his acts of despotic harshness were borne without a murmur. But
in the north the people did not view his measures so complacently;
and a wide separation in interests and opinions became manifest
in the different divisions of the nation.

Yet the Dutch and the Zealanders signalized themselves beyond all
his other subjects on the occasion of two expeditions which Charles
undertook against Tunis and Algiers. The two northern provinces
furnished a greater number of ships than the united quotas of
all the rest of his states. But though Charles's gratitude did
not lead him to do anything in return as peculiarly favorable
to these provinces, he obtained for them, nevertheless, a great
advantage in making himself master of Friesland and Guelders on
the death of Charles of Egmont. His acquisition of the latter,
which took place in 1543, put an end to the domestic wars of
the northern provinces. From that period they might fairly look
for a futurity of union and peace; and thus the latter years of
Charles promised better for his country than his early ones,
though he obtained less success in his new wars with France,
which were not, however, signalized by any grand event on either

Toward the end of his career, Charles redoubled his severities
against the Protestants, and even introduced a modified species
of inquisition into the Netherlands, but with little effect toward
the suppression of the reformed doctrines. The misunderstandings
between his only son Philip and Mary of England, whom he had
induced him to marry, and the unamiable disposition of this young
prince, tormented him almost as much as he was humiliated by the
victories of Henry II. of France, the successor of Francis I.,
and the successful dissimulation of Maurice, elector of Saxony,
by whom he was completely outwitted, deceived, and defeated.
Impelled by these motives, and others, perhaps, which are and
must ever remain unknown, Charles at length decided on abdicating
the whole of his immense possessions. He chose the city of Brussels
as the scene of the solemnity, and the day fixed for it was the
25th of October, 1555. It took place accordingly, in the presence
of the king of Bohemia, the duke of Savoy, the dowager queens
of France and Hungary, the duchess of Lorraine, and an immense
assemblage of nobility from various countries. Charles resigned
the empire to his brother Ferdinand, already king of the Romans;
and all the rest of his dominions to his son. Soon after the
ceremony, Charles embarked from Zealand on his voyage to Spain.
He retired to the monastery of St. Justus, near the town of
Placentia, in Estremadura. He entered this retreat in February,
1556, and died there on the 21st of September, 1558, in the
fifty-ninth year of his age. The last six months of his existence,
contrasted with the daring vigor of his former life, formed a
melancholy picture of timidity and superstition.

The whole of the provinces of the Netherlands being now for the
first time united under one sovereign, such a junction marks
the limits of a second epoch in their history. It would be a
presumptuous and vain attempt to trace, in a compass so confined
as ours, the various changes in manners and customs which arose
in these countries during a period of one thousand years. The
extended and profound remarks of many celebrated writers on the
state of Europe from the decline of the Roman power to the epoch
at which we are now arrived must be referred to, to judge of
the gradual progress of civilization through the gloom of the
dark ages, till the dawn of enlightenment which led to the grand
system of European politics commenced during the reign of Charles
V. The amazing increase of commerce was, above all other
considerations, the cause of the growth of liberty in the
Netherlands. The Reformation opened the minds of men to that
intellectual freedom without which political enfranchisement is
a worthless privilege. The invention of printing opened a thousand
channels to the flow of erudition and talent, and sent them out
from the reservoirs of individual possession to fertilize the
whole domain of human nature. War, which seems to be an instinct
of man, and which particular instances of heroism often raise to
the dignity of a passion, was reduced to a science, and made
subservient to those great principles of policy in which society
began to perceive its only chance of durable good. Manufactures
attained a state of high perfection, and went on progressively
with the growth of wealth and luxury. The opulence of the towns
of Brabant and Flanders was without any previous example in the
state of Europe. A merchant of Bruges took upon himself alone
the security for the ransom of John the Fearless, taken at the
battle of Nicopolis, amounting to two hundred thousand ducats.
A provost of Valenciennes repaired to Paris at one of the great
fairs periodically held there, and purchased on his own account
every article that was for sale. At a repast given by one of the
counts of Flanders to the Flemish magistrates the seats they
occupied were unfurnished with cushions. Those proud burghers
folded their sumptuous cloaks and sat on them. After the feast
they were retiring without retaining these important and costly
articles of dress; and on a courtier reminding them of their
apparent neglect, the burgomaster of Bruges replied, "We Flemings
are not in the habit of carrying away the cushions after dinner!"
The meetings of the different towns for the sports of archery were
signalized by the most splendid display of dress and decoration.
The archers were habited in silk, damask, and the finest linen,
and carried chains of gold of great weight and value. Luxury
was at its height among women. The queen of Philip the Fair of
France, on a visit to Bruges, exclaimed, with astonishment not
unmixed with envy, "I thought myself the only queen here; but
I see six hundred others who appear more so than I."

The court of Phillip the Good seemed to carry magnificence and
splendor to their greatest possible height. The dresses of both
men and women at this chivalric epoch were of almost incredible
expense. Velvet, satin, gold, and precious stones seemed the
ordinary materials for the dress of either sex; while the very
housings of the horses sparkled with brilliants and cost immense
sums. This absurd extravagance was carried so far that Charles
V. found himself forced at length to proclaim sumptuary laws
for its repression.

The style of the banquets given on grand occasions was regulated
on a scale of almost puerile splendor. The Banquet of Vows given
at Lille, in the year 1453, and so called from the obligations
entered into by some of the nobles to accompany Philip in a new
crusade against the infidels, showed a succession of costly
fooleries, most amusing in the detail given by an eye-witness
(Olivier de la Marche), the minutest of the chroniclers, but
unluckily too long to find a place in our pages.

Such excessive luxury naturally led to great corruption of manners
and the commission of terrible crimes. During the reign of Philip de
Male, there were committed in the city of Ghent and its outskirts, in
less than a year, above fourteen hundred murders in gambling-houses
and other resorts of debauchery. As early as the tenth century,
the petty sovereigns established on the ruins of the empire of
Charlemagne began the independent coining of money; and the various
provinces were during the rest of this epoch inundated with a most
embarrassing variety of gold, silver, and copper. Even in ages of
comparative darkness, literature made feeble efforts to burst
through the entangled weeds of superstition, ignorance, and war.
In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, history was greatly
cultivated; and Froissart, Monstrelet, Olivier de la Marche, and
Philip de Comines, gave to their chronicles and memoirs a charm
of style since their days almost unrivalled. Poetry began to be
followed with success in the Netherlands, in the Dutch, Flemish,
and French languages; and even before the institution of the
Floral Games in France, Belgium possessed its chambers of rhetoric
(_rederykkamers_) which labored to keep alive the sacred flame
of poetry with more zeal than success. In the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries, these societies were established in almost
every burgh of Flanders and Brabant; the principal towns possessing
several at once.

The arts in their several branches made considerable progress
in the Netherlands during this epoch. Architecture was greatly
cultivated in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; most of
the cathedrals and town houses being constructed in that age.
Their vastness, solidity, and beauty of design and execution,
make them still speaking monuments of the stern magnificence
and finished taste of the times. The patronage of Philip the
Good, Charles the Rash, and Margaret of Austria, brought music
into fashion, and led to its cultivation in a remarkable degree.
The first musicians of France were drawn from Flanders; and other
professors from that country acquired great celebrity in Italy
for their scientific improvements in their delightful art.

Painting, which had languished before the fifteenth century,
sprung at once into a new existence from the invention of John Van
Eyck, known better by the name of John of Bruges. His accidental
discovery of the art of painting in oil quickly spread over Europe,
and served to perpetuate to all time the records of the genius
which has bequeathed its vivid impressions to the world. Painting
on glass, polishing diamonds, the Carillon, lace, and tapestry,
were among the inventions which owed their birth to the Netherlands
in these ages, when the faculties of mankind sought so many new
channels for mechanical development. The discovery of a new world
by Columbus and other eminent navigators gave a fresh and powerful
impulse to European talent, by affording an immense reservoir for
its reward. The town of Antwerp was, during the reign of Charles
V., the outlet for the industry of Europe, and the receptacle
for the productions of all the nations of the earth. Its port
was so often crowded with vessels that each successive fleet
was obliged to wait long in the Scheldt before it could obtain
admission for the discharge of its cargoes. The university of
Louvain, that great nursery of science, was founded in 1425, and
served greatly to the spread of knowledge, although it degenerated
into the hotbed of those fierce disputes which stamped on theology
the degradation of bigotry, and drew down odium on a study that,
if purely practiced, ought only to inspire veneration.

Charles V. was the first to establish a solid plan of government,
instead of the constant fluctuations in the management of justice,
police, and finance. He caused the edicts of the various sovereigns,
and the municipal usages, to be embodied into a system of laws; and
thus gave stability and method to the enjoyment of the prosperity
in which he left his dominions.



A.D. 1555--1566

It has been shown that the Netherlands were never in a more
flourishing state than at the accession of Philip II. The external
relations of the country presented an aspect of prosperity and
peace. England was closely allied to it by Queen Mary's marriage
with Philip; France, fatigued with war, had just concluded with it
a five years truce; Germany, paralyzed by religious dissensions,
exhausted itself in domestic quarrels; the other states were
too distant or too weak to inspire any uneasiness; and nothing
appeared wanting for the public weal. Nevertheless there was
something dangerous and alarming in the situation of the Low
Countries; but the danger consisted wholly in the connection
between the monarch and the people, and the alarm was not sounded
till the mischief was beyond remedy.

From the time that Charles V. was called to reign over Spain,
he may be said to have been virtually lost to the country of
his birth. He was no longer a mere duke of Brabant or Limberg,
a count of Flanders or Holland; he was also king of Castile,
Aragon, Leon, and Navarre, of Naples, and of Sicily. These various
kingdoms had interests evidently opposed to those of the Low
Countries, and forms of government far different. It was scarcely
to be doubted that the absolute monarch of so many peoples would
look with a jealous eye on the institutions of those provinces
which placed limits to his power; and the natural consequence was
that he who was a legitimate king in the south soon degenerated
into a usurping master in the north.

But during the reign of Charles the danger was in some measure
lessened, or at least concealed from public view, by the apparent
facility with which he submitted to and observed the laws and
customs of his native country. With Philip, the case was far
different, and the results too obvious. Uninformed on the Belgian
character, despising the state of manners, and ignorant of the
language, no sympathy attached him to the people. He brought
with him to the throne all the hostile prejudices of a foreigner,
without one of the kindly or considerate feelings of a compatriot.

Spain, where this young prince had hitherto passed his life, was
in some degree excluded from European civilization. A contest of
seven centuries between the Mohammedan tribes and the descendants
of the Visigoths, cruel, like all civil wars, and, like all those
of religion, not merely a contest of rulers, but essentially of
the people, had given to the manners and feelings of this unhappy
country a deep stamp of barbarity. The ferocity of military
chieftains had become the basis of the government and laws. The
Christian kings had adopted the perfidious and bloody system of
the despotic sultans they replaced. Magnificence and tyranny,
power and cruelty, wisdom and dissimulation, respect and fear,
were inseparably associated in the minds of a people so governed.
They comprehended nothing in religion but a God armed with
omnipotence and vengeance, or in politics but a king as terrible
as the deity he represented.

Philip, bred in this school of slavish superstition, taught that he
was the despot for whom it was formed, familiar with the degrading
tactics of eastern tyranny, was at once the most contemptible
and unfortunate of men. Isolated from his kind, and wishing to
appear superior to those beyond whom his station had placed him,
he was insensible to the affections which soften and ennoble
human nature. He was perpetually filled with one idea--that of
his greatness; he had but one ambition--that of command; but
one enjoyment--that of exciting fear. Victim to this revolting
selfishness, his heart was never free from care; and the bitter
melancholy of his character seemed to nourish a desire of evil-doing,
which irritated suffering often produces in man. Deceit and blood
were his greatest, if not his only, delights. The religious zeal
which he affected, or felt, showed itself but in acts of cruelty;
and the fanatic bigotry which inspired him formed the strongest
contrast to the divine spirit of Christianity.

Nature had endowed this ferocious being with wonderful penetration
and unusual self-command; the first revealing to him the views
of others, and the latter giving him the surest means of
counteracting them, by enabling him to control himself. Although
ignorant, he had a prodigious instinct of cunning. He wanted
courage, but its place was supplied by the harsh obstinacy of
wounded pride. All the corruptions of intrigue were familiar
to him; yet he often failed in his most deep-laid designs, at
the very moment of their apparent success, by the recoil of the
bad faith and treachery with which his plans were overcharged.

Such was the man who now began that terrible reign which menaced
utter ruin to the national prosperity of the Netherlands. His
father had already sapped its foundations, by encouraging foreign
manners and ideas among the nobility, and dazzling them with the
hope of the honors and wealth which he had at his disposal abroad.
His severe edicts against heresy had also begun to accustom the
nation to religious discords and hatred. Philip soon enlarged
on what Charles had commenced, and he unmercifully sacrificed
the well-being of a people to the worst objects of his selfish

Philip had only once visited the Netherlands before his accession
to sovereign power. Being at that time twenty-two years of age, his
opinions were formed and his prejudices deeply rooted. Everything
that he observed on this visit was calculated to revolt both. The
frank cordiality of the people appeared too familiar. The expression
of popular rights sounded like the voice of rebellion. Even the
magnificence displayed in his honor offended his jealous vanity.
From that moment he seems to have conceived an implacable aversion
to the country, in which alone, of all his vast possessions, he
could not display the power or inspire the terror of despotism.

The sovereign's dislike was fully equalled by the disgust of his
subjects. His haughty severity and vexatious etiquette revolted
their pride as well as their plain dealing; and the moral qualities
of their new sovereign were considered with loathing. The commercial
and political connection between the Netherlands and Spain had
given the two people ample opportunities for mutual acquaintance.
The dark, vindictive dispositions of the latter inspired a deep
antipathy in those whom civilization had softened and liberty
rendered frank and generous; and the new sovereign seemed to
embody all that was repulsive and odious in the nation of which
he was the type. Yet Philip did not at first act in a way to
make himself more particularly hated. He rather, by an apparent
consideration for a few points of political interest and individual
privilege, and particularly by the revocation of some of the edicts
against heretics, removed the suspicions his earlier conduct
had excited; and his intended victims did not perceive that the
despot sought to lull them to sleep, in the hopes of making them
an easier prey.

Philip knew well that force alone was insufficient to reduce
such a people to slavery. He succeeded in persuading the states
to grant him considerable subsidies, some of which were to be paid
by instalments during a period of nine years. That was gaining
a great step toward his designs, as it superseded the necessity
of a yearly application to the three orders, the guardians of
the public liberty. At the same time he sent secret agents to
Rome, to obtain the approbation of the pope to his insidious
but most effective plan for placing the whole of the clergy in
dependence upon the crown. He also kept up the army of Spaniards
and Germans which his father had formed on the frontiers of France;
and although he did not remove from their employments the
functionaries already in place, he took care to make no new
appointments to office among the natives of the Netherlands.

In the midst of these cunning preparations for tyranny, Philip
was suddenly attacked in two quarters at once; by Henry II. of
France, and by Pope Paul IV. A prince less obstinate than Philip
would in such circumstances have renounced, or at least postponed,
his designs against the liberties of so important a part of his
dominions, as those to which he was obliged to have recourse
for aid in support of this double war. But he seemed to make
every foreign consideration subservient to the object of domestic
aggression which he had so much at heart.

He, however, promptly met the threatened dangers from abroad. He
turned his first attention toward his contest with the pope; and
he extricated himself from it with an adroitness that proved the
whole force and cunning of his character. Having first publicly
obtained the opinion of several doctors of theology, that he
was justified in taking arms against the pontiff (a point on
which there was really no doubt), he prosecuted the war with
the utmost vigor, by the means of the afterward notorious duke
of Alva, at that time viceroy of his Italian dominions. Paul soon
yielded to superior skill and force, and demanded terms of peace,
which were granted with a readiness and seeming liberality that
astonished no one more than the defeated pontiff. But Philip's
moderation to his enemy was far outdone by his perfidy to his
allies. He confirmed Alva's consent to the confiscation of the
domains of the noble Romans who had espoused his cause; and thus
gained a stanch and powerful supporter to all his future projects
in the religious authority of the successor of St. Peter.

His conduct in the conclusion of the war with France was not
less base. His army, under the command of Philibert Emmanuel,
duke of Savoy, consisting of Belgians, Germans, and Spaniards,
with a considerable body of English, sent by Mary to the assistance
of her husband, penetrated into Picardy, and gained a complete
victory over the French forces. The honor of this brilliant affair,
which took place near St. Quintin, was almost wholly due to the
count d'Egmont, a Belgian noble, who commanded the light cavalry;
but the king, unwilling to let anyone man enjoy the glory of
the day, piously pretended that he owed the entire obligation
to St. Lawrence, on whose festival the battle was fought. His
gratitude or hypocrisy found a fitting monument in the celebrated
convent and palace of the Escurial, which he absurdly caused to
be built in the form of a gridiron, the instrument of the saint's
martyrdom. When the news of the victory reached Charles V. in his
retreat, the old warrior inquired if Philip was in Paris? but
the cautious victor had no notion of such prompt manoeuvring; nor
would he risk against foreign enemies the exhaustion of forces
destined for the enslavement of his people.

The French in some measure retrieved their late disgrace by the
capture of Calais, the only town remaining to England of all its
French conquests, and which, consequently, had deeply interested
the national glory of each people. In the early part of the year
1558, one of the generals of Henry II. made an irruption into
western Flanders; but the gallant count of Egmont once more proved
his valor and skill by attacking and totally defeating the invaders
near the town of Gravelines.

A general peace was concluded in April, 1559, which bore the
name of Câteau-Cambresis, from that of the place where it was
negotiated. Philip secured for himself various advantages in the
treaty; but he sacrificed the interests of England, by consenting
to the retention of Calais by the French king--a cession deeply
humiliating to the national pride of his allies; and, if general
opinion be correct, a proximate cause of his consort's death. The
alliance of France and the support of Rome, the important results
of the two wars now brought to a close, were counterbalanced
by the well-known hostility of Elizabeth, who had succeeded to
the throne of England; and this latter consideration was an
additional motive with Philip to push forward the design of
consolidating his despotism in the Low Countries.

To lead his already deceived subjects the more surely into the
snare, he announced his intended departure on a short visit to
Spain; and created for the period of his absence a provisional
government, chiefly composed of the leading men among the Belgian
nobility. He flattered himself that the states, dazzled by the
illustrious illusion thus prepared, would cheerfully grant to
this provisional government the right of levying taxes during
the temporary absence of the sovereign. He also reckoned on the
influence of the clergy in the national assembly, to procure the
revival of the edicts against heresy, which he had gained the
merit of suspending. These, with many minor details of profound
duplicity, formed the principal features of a plan, which, if
successful, would have reduced the Netherlands to the wretched
state of colonial dependence by which Naples and Sicily were
held in the tenure of Spain.

As soon as the states had consented to place the whole powers of
government in the hands of the new administration for the period
of the king's absence, the royal hypocrite believed his scheme
secure, and flattered himself he had established an instrument of
durable despotism. The composition of this new government was
a masterpiece of political machinery. It consisted of several
councils, in which the most distinguished citizens were entitled
to a place, in sufficient numbers to deceive the people with a
show of representation, but not enough to command a majority,
which was sure on any important question to rest with the titled
creatures of the court. The edicts against heresy, soon adopted,
gave to the clergy an almost unlimited power over the lives and
fortunes of the people. But almost all the dignitaries of the
church being men of great respectability and moderation, chosen
by the body of the inferior clergy, these extraordinary powers
excited little alarm. Philip's project was suddenly to replace
these virtuous ecclesiastics by others of his own choice, as
soon as the states broke up from their annual meeting; and for
this intention he had procured the secret consent and authority
of the court of Rome.

In support of these combinations, the Belgian troops were completely
broken up and scattered in small bodies over the country. The
whole of this force, so redoubtable to the fears of despotism,
consisted of only three thousand cavalry. It was now divided
into fourteen companies (or squadrons in the modern phraseology),
under the command of as many independent chiefs, so as to leave
little chance of any principle of union reigning among them. But
the German and Spanish troops in Philip's pay were cantoned on the
frontiers, ready to stifle any incipient effort in opposition to
his plans. In addition to these imposing means for their execution,
he had secured a still more secret and more powerful support: a
secret article in the treaty of Câteau-Cambresis obliged the
king of France to assist him with the whole armies of France
against his Belgian subjects, should they prove refractory. Thus
the late war, of which the Netherlands had borne all the weight,
and earned all the glory, only brought about the junction of the
defeated enemy with their own king for the extinction of their
national independence.

To complete the execution of this system of perfidy, Philip convened
an assembly of all the states at Ghent, in the month of July,
1559. This meeting of the representatives of the three orders
of the state offered no apparent obstacle to Philip's views. The
clergy, alarmed at the progress of the new doctrines, gathered
more closely round the government of which they required the
support. The nobles had lost much of their ancient attachment
to liberty; and had become, in various ways, dependent on the
royal favor. Many of the first families were then represented by
men possessed rather of courage and candor than of foresight and
sagacity. That of Nassau, the most distinguished of all, seemed
the least interested in the national cause. A great part of its
possessions were in Germany and France, where it had recently
acquired the sovereign principality of Orange. It was only from
the third order--that of the commons--that Philip had to expect
any opposition. Already, during the war, it had shown some
discontent, and had insisted on the nomination of commissioners
to control the accounts and the disbursements of the subsidies.
But it seemed improbable that among this class of men any would
be found capable of penetrating the manifold combinations of
the king, and disconcerting his designs.

Anthony Perrenotte de Granvelle, bishop of Arras, who was considered
as Philip's favorite counsellor, but who was in reality no more
than his docile agent, was commissioned to address the assembly
in the name of his master, who spoke only Spanish. His oration
was one of cautious deception, and contained the most flattering
assurances of Philip's attachment to the people of the Netherlands.
It excused the king for not having nominated his only son, Don
Carlos, to reign over them in his name; alleging, as a proof
of his royal affection, that he preferred giving them as
stadtholderess a Belgian princess, Madame Marguerite, duchess
of Parma, the natural daughter of Charles V. by a young lady,
a native of Audenarde. Fair promises and fine words were thus
lavished in profusion to gain the confidence of the deputies.

But notwithstanding all the talent, the caution, and the mystery
of Philip and his minister, there was among the nobles one man
who saw through all. This individual, endowed with many of the
highest attributes of political genius, and pre-eminently with
judgment, the most important of all, entered fearlessly into
the contest against tyranny--despising every personal sacrifice
for the country's good. Without making himself suspiciously
prominent, he privately warned some members of the states of
the coming danger. Those in whom he confided did not betray the
trust. They spread among the other deputies the alarm, and pointed
out the danger to which they had been so judiciously awakened.
The consequence was a reply to Philip's demand; in vague and
general terms, without binding the nation by any pledge; and a
unanimous entreaty that he would diminish the taxes, withdraw
the foreign troops, and intrust no official employments to any
but natives of the country. The object of this last request was
the removal of Granvelle, who was born in Franche-Comte.

Philip was utterly astounded at all this. In the first moment
of his vexation he imprudently cried out, "Would ye, then, also
bereave _me_ of my place; I, who am a Spaniard?" But he soon
recovered his self-command, and resumed his usual mask; expressed
his regret at not having sooner learned the wishes of the states;
promised to remove the foreign troops within three months; and
set off for Zealand, with assumed composure, but filled with
the fury of a discovered traitor and a humiliated despot.

A fleet under the command of Count Horn, the admiral of the United
Provinces, waited at Flessingue to form his escort to Spain. At
the very moment of his departure, William of Nassau, prince of
Orange and governor of Zealand, waited on him to pay his official
respects. The king, taking him apart from the other attendant
nobles, recommended him to hasten the execution of several gentlemen
and wealthy citizens attached to the newly introduced religious
opinions. Then, quite suddenly, whether in the random impulse of
suppressed rage, or that his piercing glance discovered William's
secret feelings in his countenance, he accused him with having
been the means of thwarting his designs. "Sire," replied Nassau,
"it was the work of the national states."--"No!" cried Philip,
grasping him furiously by the arm; "it was not done by the states,
but by you, and you alone!"--Schiller. The words of Philip were:
"_No,_no_los_estados_; _ma_vos,_vos,_vos!_" Vos thus used in
Spanish is a term of contempt, equivalent to _toi_ in French.

This glorious accusation was not repelled. He who had saved his
country in unmasking the designs of its tyrant admitted by his
silence his title to the hatred of the one and the gratitude
of the other. On the 20th of August, Philip embarked and set
sail; turning his back forever on the country which offered the
first check to his despotism; and, after a perilous voyage, he
arrived in that which permitted a free indulgence to his ferocious
and sanguinary career.

For some time after Philip's departure, the Netherlands continued
to enjoy considerable prosperity. From the period of the Peace
of Câteau-Cambresis, commerce and navigation had acquired new
and increasing activity. The fisheries, but particularly that of
herrings, became daily more important; that one alone occupying
two thousand boats. While Holland, Zealand and Friesland made this
progress in their peculiar branches of industry, the southern
provinces were not less active or successful. Spain and the colonies
offered such a mart for the objects of their manufacture that
in a single year they received from Flanders fifty large ships
filled with articles of household furniture and utensils. The
exportation of woollen goods amounted to enormous sums. Bruges
alone sold annually to the amount of four million florins of
stuffs of Spanish, and as much of English, wool; and the least
value of the florin then was quadruple its present worth. The
commerce with England, though less important than that with Spain,
was calculated yearly at twenty-four million florins, which was
chiefly clear profit to the Netherlands, as their exportations
consisted almost entirely of objects of their own manufacture.
Their commercial relations with France, Germany, Italy, Portugal,
and the Levant, were daily increasing. Antwerp was the centre of
this prodigious trade. Several sovereigns, among others Elizabeth
of England, had recognized agents in that city, equivalent to
consuls of the present times; and loans of immense amount were
frequently negotiated by them with wealthy merchants, who furnished
them, not in negotiable bills or for unredeemable debentures,
but in solid gold, and on a simple acknowledgment.

Flanders and Brabant were still the richest and most flourishing
portions of the state. Some municipal fêtes given about this time
afford a notion of their opulence. On one of these occasions
the town of Mechlin sent a deputation to Antwerp, consisting
of three hundred and twenty-six horsemen dressed in velvet and
satin with gold and silver ornaments; while those of Brussels
consisted of three hundred and forty, as splendidly equipped, and
accompanied by seven huge triumphal chariots and seventy-eight
carriages of various constructions--a prodigious number for those

But the splendor and prosperity which thus sprung out of the
national industry and independence, and which a wise or a generous
sovereign would have promoted, or at least have established on a
permanent basis, was destined speedily to sink beneath the bigoted
fury of Philip II. The new government which he had established
was most ingeniously adapted to produce every imaginable evil
to the state. The king, hundreds of leagues distant, could not
himself issue an order but with a lapse of time ruinous to any
object of pressing importance. The stadtholderess, who represented
him, having but a nominal authority, was forced to follow her
instructions, and liable to have all her acts reversed; besides
which, she had the king's orders to consult her private council
on all affairs whatever, and the council of state on any matter
of paramount importance. These two councils, however, contained
the elements of a serious opposition to the royal projects, in
the persons of the patriot nobles sprinkled among Philip's devoted
creatures. Thus the influence of the crown was often thwarted, if
not actually balanced; and the proposals which emanated from it
frequently opposed by the stadtholderess herself. She, although
a woman of masculine appearance and habits,[2] was possessed
of no strength of mind. Her prevailing sentiment seemed to be
dread of the king; yet she was at times influenced by a sense
of justice, and by the remonstrances of the well-judging members
of her councils. But these were not all the difficulties that
clogged the machinery of the state. After the king, the government,
and the councils, had deliberated on any measure, its execution
rested with the provincial governors or stadtholders, or the
magistrates of the towns. Almost everyone of these, being strongly
attached to the laws and customs of the nation, hesitated, or
refused to obey the orders conveyed to them, when those orders
appeared illegal. Some, however, yielded to the authority of
the government; so it often happened that an edict, which in one
district was carried into full effect, was in others deferred,
rejected, or violated, in a way productive of great confusion
in the public affairs.

[Footnote 2: Strada.]

Philip was conscious that he had himself to blame for the consequent
disorder. In nominating the members of the two councils, he had
overreached himself in his plan for silently sapping the liberty
that was so obnoxious to his designs. But to neutralize the influence
of the restive members, he had left Granvelle the first place
in the administration. This man, an immoral ecclesiastic, an
eloquent orator, a supple courtier, and a profound politician,
bloated with pride, envy, insolence, and vanity, was the real
head of the government.[3] Next to him among the royalist party
was Viglius, president of the privy council, an erudite schoolman,
attached less to the broad principles of justice than to the letter
of the laws, and thus carrying pedantry into the very councils of
the state. Next in order came the count de Berlaimont, head of
the financial department--a stern and intolerant satellite of the
court, and a furious enemy to those national institutions which
operated as checks upon fraud. These three individuals formed
the stadtholderess's privy council. The remaining creatures of
the king were mere subaltern agents.

[Footnote 3: Strada, a royalist, a Jesuit, and therefore a fair
witness on this point, uses the following words in portraying the
character of this odious minister: _Animum_avidum_invidumque,_ac_

A government so composed could scarcely fail to excite discontent
and create danger to the public weal. The first proof of incapacity
was elicited by the measures required for the departure of the
Spanish troops. The period fixed by the king had already expired,
and these obnoxious foreigners were still in the country, living
in part on pillage, and each day committing some new excess.
Complaints were carried in successive gradation from the government
to the council, and from the council to the king. The Spaniards
were removed to Zealand; but instead of being embarked at any of
its ports, they were detained there on various pretexts. Money,
ships, or, on necessity, a wind, was professed to be still wanting
for their final removal, by those who found excuses for delay in
every element of nature or subterfuge of art. In the meantime
those ferocious soldiers ravaged a part of the country. The simple
natives at length declared they would open the sluices of their
dikes; preferring to be swallowed by the waters rather than remain
exposed to the cruelty and rapacity of those Spaniards. Still
the embarkation was postponed; until the king, requiring his
troops in Spain for some domestic project, they took their
long-desired departure in the beginning of the year 1561.

The public discontent at this just cause was soon, however,
overwhelmed by one infinitely more important and lasting. The
Belgian clergy had hitherto formed a free and powerful order in
the state, governed and represented by four bishops, chosen by
the chapters of the towns or elected by the monks of the principal
abbeys. These bishops, possessing an independent territorial
revenue, and not directly subject to the influence of the crown,
had interests and feelings in common with the nation. But Philip
had prepared, and the pope had sanctioned, the new system of
ecclesiastical organization before alluded to, and the provisional
government now put it into execution. Instead of four bishops, it
was intended to appoint eighteen, their nomination being vested
in the king. By a wily system of trickery, the subserviency of
the abbeys was also aimed at. The new prelates, on a pretended
principle of economy, were endowed with the title of abbots of
the chief monasteries of their respective dioceses. Thus not
only would they enjoy the immense wealth of these establishments,
but the political rights of the abbots whom they were to succeed;
and the whole of the ecclesiastical order become gradually
represented (after the death of the then living abbots) by the
creatures of the crown.

The consequences of this vital blow to the integrity of the national
institutions were evident; and the indignation of both clergy
and laity was universal. Every legal means of opposition was
resorted to, but the people were without leaders; the states
were not in session. While the authority of the pope and the king
combined, the reverence excited by the very name of religion, and
the address and perseverance of the government, formed too powerful
a combination, and triumphed over the national discontents which
had not yet been formed into resistance. The new bishops were
appointed; Granvelle securing for himself the archiepiscopal
see of Mechlin, with the title of primate of the Low Countries.
At the same time Paul IV. put the crowning point to the capital
of his ambition, by presenting him with a cardinal's hat.

The new bishops were to a man most violent, intolerant, and it
may be conscientious, opponents to the wide-spreading doctrines
of reform. The execution of the edicts against heresy was confided
to them. The provincial governors and inferior magistrates were
commanded to aid them with a strong arm; and the most unjust and
frightful persecution immediately commenced. But still some of
these governors and magistrates, considering themselves not only
the officers of the prince, but the protectors of the people,
and the defenders of the laws rather than of the faith, did not
blindly conform to those harsh and illegal commands. The Prince
of Orange, stadtholder of Holland, Zealand, and Utrecht, and
the count of Egmont, governor of Flanders and Artois, permitted
no persecutions in those five provinces. But in various places
the very people, even when influenced by their superiors, openly
opposed it. Catholics as well as Protestants were indignant at
the atrocious spectacles of cruelty presented on all sides. The
public peace was endangered by isolated acts of resistance, and
fears of a general insurrection soon became universal.

The apparent temporizing or seeming uncertainty of the champions
of the new doctrines formed the great obstacle to the reformation,
and tended to prolong the dreadful struggle which was now only
commencing in the Low Countries. It was a matter of great difficulty
to convince the people that popery was absurd, and at the same time
to set limits to the absurdity. Had the change been from blind
belief to total infidelity, it would (as in a modern instance)
have been much easier, though less lasting. Men might, in a time
of such excitement, have been persuaded that _all_ religion
productive of abuses such as then abounded was a farce, and that
common sense called for its abolition. But when the boundaries
of belief became a question; when the world was told it ought to
reject some doctrines, and retain others which seemed as difficult
of comprehension; when one tenet was pronounced idolatry, and
to doubt another declared damnation--the world either exploded
or recoiled: it went too far or it shrank back; plunged into
atheism, or relapsed into popery. It was thus the reformation
was checked in the first instance. Its supporters were the
strong-minded and intelligent; and they never, and least of all
in those days, formed the mass. Superstition and bigotry had
enervated the intellects of the majority; and the high resolve
of those with whom the great work commenced was mixed with a
severity that materially retarded its progress. For though personal
interests, as with Henry VIII. of England, and rigid enthusiasm,
as with Calvin, strengthened the infant reformation; the first
led to violence which irritated many, the second to austerity
which disgusted them; and it was soon discovered that the change
was almost confined to forms of practice, and that the essentials
of abuse were likely to be carefully preserved. All these, and
other arguments, artfully modified to distract the people, were
urged by the new bishops in the Netherlands, and by those whom
they employed to arrest the progress of reform.

Among the various causes of the general confusion, the situation
of Brabant gave to that province a peculiar share of suffering.
Brussels, its capital, being the seat of government, had no
particular chief magistrate, like the other provinces. The executive
power was therefore wholly confided to the municipal authorities
and the territorial proprietors. But these, though generally
patriotic in their views, were divided into a multiplicity of
different opinions. Rivalry and resentment produced a total want
of union, ended in anarchy, and prepared the way for civil war.
William of Nassau penetrated the cause, and proposed the remedy
in moving for the appointment of a provincial governor. This
proposition terrified Granvelle, who saw, as clearly as did his
sagacious opponent in the council, that the nomination of a special
protector between the people and the government would have paralyzed
all his efforts for hurrying on the discord and resistance which
were meant to be the plausible excuses for the introduction of
arbitrary power. He therefore energetically dissented from the
proposed measure, and William immediately desisted from his demand.
But he at the same time claimed, in the name of the whole country,
the convocation of the states-general. This assembly alone was
competent to decide what was just, legal, and obligatory for
each province and every town. Governors, magistrates, and simple
citizens, would thus have some rule for their common conduct;
and the government would be at least endowed with the dignity
of uniformity and steadiness. The ministers endeavored to evade
a demand which they were at first unwilling openly to refuse.
But the firm demeanor and persuasive eloquence of the Prince
of Orange carried before them all who were not actually bought
by the crown; and Granvelle found himself at length forced to
avow that an express order from the king forbade the convocation
of the states, on any pretext, during his absence.

The veil was thus rent asunder which had in some measure concealed
the deformity of Philip's despotism. The result was a powerful
confederacy, among all who held it odious, for the overthrow of
Granvelle, to whom they chose to attribute the king's conduct; thus
bringing into practical result the sound principle of ministerial
responsibility, without which, except in some peculiar case of
local urgency or political crisis, the name of constitutional
government is but a mockery. Many of the royalist nobles united
for the national cause; and even the stadtholderess joined her
efforts to theirs, for an object which would relieve her from
the tyranny which none felt more than she did. Those who composed
this confederacy against the minister were actuated by a great
variety of motives. The duchess of Parma hated him, as a domestic
spy robbing her of all real authority; the royalist nobles, as
an insolent upstart at every instant mortifying their pride.
The counts Egmont and Horn, with nobler sentiments, opposed him
as the author of their country's growing misfortunes. But it is
doubtful if any of the confederates except the Prince of Orange
clearly saw that they were putting themselves in direct and personal
opposition to the king himself. William alone, clear-sighted
in politics and profound in his views, knew, in thus devoting
himself to the public cause, the adversary with whom he entered
the lists.

This great man, for whom the national traditions still preserve
the sacred title of "father" (Vader-Willem), and who was in truth
not merely the parent but the political creator of the country,
was at this period in his thirtieth year. He already joined the
vigor of manhood to the wisdom of age. Brought up under the eye
of Charles V., whose sagacity soon discovered his precocious
talents, he was admitted to the councils of the emperor at a
time of life which was little advanced beyond mere boyhood. He
alone was chosen by this powerful sovereign to be present at
the audiences which he gave to foreign ambassadors, which proves
that in early youth he well deserved by his discretion the surname
of "the taciturn." It was on the arm of William, then twenty
years of age, and already named by him to the command of the
Belgian troops, that this powerful monarch leaned for support on
the memorable day of his abdication; and he immediately afterward
employed him on the important mission of bearing the imperial
crown to his brother Ferdinand, in whose favor he had resigned
it. William's grateful attachment to Charles did not blind him
to the demerits of Philip. He repaired to France, as one of the
hostages on the part of the latter monarch for the fulfilment
of the peace of Câteau-Cambresis; and he then learned from the
lips of Henry II., who soon conceived a high esteem for him,
the measures reciprocally agreed on by the two sovereigns for
the oppression of their subjects. From that moment his mind was
made up on the character of Philip, and on the part which he
had himself to perform; and he never felt a doubt on the first
point, nor swerved from the latter.

But even before his patriotism was openly displayed, Philip had
taken a dislike to one in whom his shrewdness quickly discovered
an intellect of which he was jealous. He could not actually remove
William from all interference with public affairs; but he refused
him the government of Flanders, and opposed, in secret, his projected
marriage with a princess of the House of Lorraine, which was
calculated to bring him a considerable accession of fortune,
and consequently of influence. It may be therefore said that
William, in his subsequent conduct, was urged by motives of personal
enmity against Philip. Be it so. We do not seek to raise him
above the common feelings of humanity; and we should risk the
sinking him below them, if we supposed him insensible to the
natural effects of just resentment.

The secret impulses of conduct can never be known beyond the
individual's own breast; but actions must, however questionable,
be taken as the tests of motives. In all those of William's
illustrious career we can detect none that might be supposed to
spring from vulgar or base feelings. If his hostility to Philip
was indeed increased by private dislike, he has at least set an
example of unparalleled dignity in his method of revenge; but in
calmly considering and weighing, without deciding on the question,
we see nothing that should deprive William of an unsullied title
to pure and perfect patriotism. The injuries done to him by Philip
at this period were not of a nature to excite any violent hatred.
Enough of public wrong was inflicted to arouse the patriot, but
not of private ill to inflame the man. Neither was William of
a vindictive disposition. He was never known to turn the knife
of an assassin against his royal rival, even when the blade hired
by the latter glanced from him reeking with his blood. And though
William's enmity may have been kept alive or strengthened by the
provocations he received, it is certain that, if a foe to the
king, he was, as long as it was possible, the faithful counsellor
of the crown. He spared no pains to impress on the monarch who
hated him the real means for preventing the coming evils; and
had not a revolution been absolutely inevitable, it is he who
would have prevented it.

Such was the chief of the patriot party, chosen by the silent
election of general opinion, and by that involuntary homage to
genius which leads individuals in the train of those master-minds
who take the lead in public affairs. Counts Egmont and Horn,
and some others, largely shared with him the popular favor. The
multitude could not for some time distinguish the uncertain and
capricious opposition of an offended courtier from the determined
resistance of a great man. William was still comparatively young;
he had lived long out of the country; and it was little by little
that his eminent public virtues were developed and understood.

The great object of immediate good was the removal of Cardinal
Granvelle. William boldly put himself at the head of the confederacy.
He wrote to the king, conjointly with Counts Egmont and Horn,
faithfully portraying the state of affairs. The duchess of Parma
backed this remonstrance with a strenuous request for Granvelle's
dismission. Philip's reply to the three noblemen was a mere tissue
of duplicity to obtain delay, accompanied by an invitation to
Count Egmont to repair to Madrid, to hear his sentiments at large
by word of mouth. His only answer to the stadtholderess was a
positive recommendation to use every possible means to disunite
and breed ill-will among the three confederate lords. It was
difficult to deprive William of the confidence of his friends,
and impossible to deceive him. He saw the trap prepared by the
royal intrigues, restrained Egmont for a while from the fatal
step he was but too well inclined to take, and persuaded him and
Horn to renew with him their firm but respectful representations;
at the same time begging permission to resign their various
employments, and simultaneously ceasing to appear at the court
of the stadtholderess.

In the meantime every possible indignity was offered to the cardinal
by private pique and public satire. Several lords, following
Count Egmont's example, had a kind of capuchon or fool's-cap
embroidered on the liveries of their varlets; and it was generally
known that this was meant as a practical parody on the cardinal's
hat. The crowd laughed heartily at this stupid pleasantry; and
the coarse satire of the times may be judged by a caricature,
which was forwarded to the cardinal's own hands, representing him
in the act of hatching a nest full of eggs, from which a crowd
of bishops escaped, while overhead was the devil _in_propriâ_
_personâ_, with the following scroll: "This is my well-beloved
son--listen to him!"

Philip, thus driven before the popular voice, found himself forced
to the choice of throwing off the mask at once, or of sacrificing
Granvelle. An invincible inclination for manoeuvring and deceit
decided him on the latter measure; and the cardinal, recalled
but not disgraced, quitted the Netherlands on the 10th of March,
1564. The secret instructions to the stadtholderess remained
unrevoked; the president Viglius succeeded to the post which
Granvelle had occupied; and it was clear that the projects of
the king had suffered no change.

Nevertheless some good resulted from the departure of the unpopular
minister. The public fermentation subsided; the patriot lords
reappeared at court; and the Prince of Orange acquired an increasing
influence in the council and over the stadtholderess, who by his
advice adopted a conciliatory line of conduct--a fallacious but
still a temporary hope for the nation. But the calm was of short
duration. Scarcely was this moderation evinced by the government,
when Philip, obstinate in his designs, and outrageous in his
resentment, sent an order to have the edicts against heresy put
into most rigorous execution, and to proclaim throughout the
seventeen provinces the furious decree of the Council of Trent.

The revolting cruelty and illegality of the first edicts were
already admitted. As to the decrees of this memorable council,
they were only adapted for countries in submission to an absolute
despotism. They were received in the Netherlands with general
reprobation. Even the new bishops loudly denounced them as unjust
innovations; and thus Philip found zealous opponents in those on
whom he had reckoned as his most servile tools. The stadtholderess
was not the less urged to implicit obedience to the orders of the
king by Viglius and De Berlaimont, who took upon themselves an
almost menacing tone. The duchess assembled a council of state,
and asked its advice as to her proceedings. The Prince of Orange
at once boldly proposed disobedience to measures fraught with
danger to the monarchy and ruin to the nation. The council could
not resist his appeal to their best feelings. His proposal that
fresh remonstrances should be addressed to the king met with
almost general support. The president Viglius, who had spoken
in the opening of the council in favor of the king's orders, was
overwhelmed by William's reasoning, and demanded time to prepare
his reply. His agitation during the debate, and his despair of
carrying the measures against the patriot party, brought on in
the night an attack of apoplexy.

It was resolved to despatch a special envoy to Spain, to explain
to Philip the views of the council, and to lay before him a plan
proposed by the Prince of Orange for forming a junction between
the two councils and that of finance, and forming them into one
body. The object of this measure was at once to give greater
union and power to the provisional government, to create a central
administration in the Netherlands, and to remove from some obscure
and avaricious financiers the exclusive management of the national
resources. The Count of Egmont, chosen by the council for this
important mission, set out for Madrid in the month of February,
1565. Philip received him with profound hypocrisy; loaded him
with the most flattering promises; sent him back in the utmost
elation: and when the credulous count returned to Brussels, he
found that the written orders, of which he was the bearer, were
in direct variance with every word which the king had uttered.

These orders were chiefly concerning the reiterated subject of
the persecution to be inflexibly pursued against the religious
reformers. Not satisfied with the hitherto established forms of
punishment, Philip now expressly commanded that the more revolting
means decreed by his father in the rigor of his early zeal, such
as burning, living burial, and the like, should be adopted; and
he somewhat more obscurely directed that the victims should be no
longer publicly immolated, but secretly destroyed. He endeavored,
by this vague phraseology, to avoid the actual utterance of the word
"inquisition"; but he thus virtually established that atrocious
tribunal, with attributes still more terrific than even in Spain;
for there the condemned had at least the consolation of dying
in open day, and of displaying the fortitude which is rarely
proof against the horror of a private execution. Philip had thus
consummated his treason against the principles of justice and the
practices of jurisprudence, which had heretofore characterized
the country; and against the most vital of those privileges which
he had solemnly sworn to maintain.

His design of establishing this horrible tribunal, so impiously
named "holy" by its founders, had been long suspected by the
people of the Netherlands. The expression of those fears had
reached him more than once. He as often replied by assurances
that he had formed no such project, and particularly to Count
d'Egmont during his recent visit to Madrid. But at that very time
he assembled a conclave of his creatures, doctors of theology,
of whom he formally demanded an opinion as to whether he could
conscientiously tolerate two sorts of religion in the Netherlands.
The doctors, hoping to please him, replied, that "he might, for
the avoidance of a greater evil." Philip trembled with rage,
and exclaimed, with a threatening tone, "I ask not if I _can_,
but if I _ought_." The theologians read in this question the
nature of the expected reply; and it was amply conformable to
his wish. He immediately threw himself on his knees before a
crucifix, and raising his hands toward heaven, put up a prayer
for strength in his resolution to pursue as deadly enemies all
who viewed that effigy with feelings different from his own. If
this were not really a sacrilegious farce, it must be that the
blaspheming bigot believed the Deity to be a monster of cruelty
like himself.

Even Viglius was terrified by the nature of Philip's commands;
and the patriot lords once more withdrew from all share in the
government, leaving to the duchess of Parma and her ministers the
whole responsibility of the new measures. They were at length put
into actual and vigorous execution in the beginning of the year
1566. The inquisitors of the faith, with their familiars, stalked
abroad boldly in the devoted provinces, carrying persecution
and death in their train. Numerous but partial insurrections
opposed these odious intruders. Every district and town became
the scene of frightful executions or tumultuous resistance. The
converts to the new doctrines multiplied, as usual, under the
effects of persecution. "There was nowhere to be seen," says a
contemporary author, "the meanest mechanic who did not find a
weapon to strike down the murderers of his compatriots." Holland,
Zealand and Utrecht alone escaped from those fast accumulating
horrors. William of Nassau was there.



A.D. 1566

The stadtholderess and her ministers now began to tremble. Philip's
favorite counsellors advised him to yield to the popular despair;
but nothing could change his determination to pursue his bloody
game to the last chance. He had foreseen the impossibility of
reducing the country to slavery as long as it maintained its
tranquillity, and that union which forms in itself the elements
and the cement of strength. It was from deep calculation that
he had excited the troubles, and now kept them alive. He knew
that the structure of illegal power could only be raised on the
ruins of public rights and national happiness; and the materials
of desolation found sympathy in his congenial mind.

And now in reality began the awful revolution of the Netherlands
against their tyrant. In a few years this so lately flourishing
and happy nation presented a frightful picture; and in the midst
of European peace, prosperity, and civilization, the wickedness
of one prince drew down on the country he misgoverned more evils
than it had suffered for centuries from the worst effects of
its foreign foes.

William of Nassau has been accused of having at length urged
on the stadtholderess to promulgate the final edicts and the
resolutions of the Council of Trent, and then retiring from the
council of state. This line of conduct may be safely admitted and
fairly defended by his admirers. He had seen the uselessness of
remonstrance against the intentions of the king. Every possible
means had been tried, without effect, to soften his pitiless
heart to the sufferings of the country. At length the moment
came when the people had reached that pitch of despair which is
the great force of the oppressed, and William felt that their
strength was now equal to the contest he had long foreseen. It
is therefore absurd to accuse him of artifice in the exercise of
that wisdom which rarely failed him on any important crisis. A
change of circumstances gives a new name to actions and motives;
and it would be hard to blame William of Nassau for the only point
in which he bore the least resemblance to Philip of Spain--that
depth of penetration, which the latter turned to every base and
the former to every noble purpose.

Up to the present moment the Prince of Orange and the Counts
Egmont and Horn, with their partisans and friends, had sincerely
desired the public peace, and acted in the common interest of
the king and the people. But all the nobles had not acted with
the same constitutional moderation. Many of those, disappointed
on personal accounts, others professing the new doctrines, and
the rest variously affected by manifold motives, formed a body
of violent and sometimes of imprudent malcontents. The marriage
of Alexander, prince of Parma, son of the stadtholderess, which
was at this time celebrated at Brussels, brought together an
immense number of these dissatisfied nobles, who became thus drawn
into closer connection, and whose national candor was more than
usually brought out in the confidential intercourse of society.
Politics and patriotism were the common subjects of conversation
in the various convivial meetings that took place. Two German
nobles, Counts Holle and Schwarzemberg, at that period in the
Netherlands, loudly proclaimed the favorable disposition of the
princes of the empire toward the Belgians. It was supposed even
thus early that negotiations had been opened with several of
those sovereigns. In short, nothing seemed wanting but a leader,
to give consistency and weight to the confederacy which was as
yet but in embryo. This was doubly furnished in the persons of
Louis of Nassau and Henry de Brederode. The former, brother of
the Prince of Orange, was possessed of many of those brilliant
qualities which mark men as worthy of distinction in times of
peril. Educated at Geneva, he was passionately attached to the
reformed religion, and identified in his hatred the Catholic
Church and the tyranny of Spain. Brave and impetuous, he was,
to his elder brother, but as an adventurous partisan compared
with a sagacious general. He loved William as well as he did
their common cause, and his life was devoted to both.

Henry de Brederode, lord of Vienen and marquis of Utrecht, was
descended from the ancient counts of Holland. This illustrious
origin, which in his own eyes formed a high claim to distinction,
had not procured him any of those employments or dignities which
he considered his due. He was presumptuous and rash, and rather
a fluent speaker than an eloquent orator. Louis of Nassau was
thoroughly inspired by the justice of the cause he espoused; De
Brederode espoused it for the glory of becoming its champion. The
first only wished for action; the latter longed for distinction. But
neither the enthusiasm of Nassau, nor the vanity of De Brederode,
was allied with those superior attributes required to form a

The confederation acquired its perfect organization in the month
of February, 1566, on the tenth of which month its celebrated
manifesto was signed by its numerous adherents. The first name
affixed to this document was that of Philip de Marnix, lord of
St. Aldegonde, from whose pen it emanated; a man of great talents
both as soldier and writer. Numbers of the nobility followed him
on this muster-roll of patriotism, and many of the most zealous
royalists were among them. This remarkable proclamation of general
feeling consisted chiefly in a powerful reprehension of the illegal
establishment of the Inquisition in the Low Countries, and a
solemn obligation on the members of the confederacy to unite
in the common cause against this detested nuisance. Men of all
ranks and classes offered their signatures, and several Catholic
priests among the rest. The Prince of Orange, and the Counts
Egmont, Horn, and Meghem, declined becoming actual parties to
this bold measure; and when the question was debated as to the
most appropriate way of presenting an address to the stadtholderess
these noblemen advised the mildest and most respectful demeanor
on the part of the purposed deputation.

At the first intelligence of these proceedings, the duchess of
Parma, absorbed by terror, had no resource but to assemble hastily
such members of the council of state as were at Brussels; and she
entreated, by the most pressing letters, the Prince of Orange
and Count Horn to resume their places at this council. But three
courses of conduct seemed applicable to the emergency: to take up
arms; to grant the demands of the confederates; or to temporize
and to amuse them with a feint of moderation, until the orders
of the king might be obtained from Spain. It was not, however,
till after a lapse of four months that the council finally met
to deliberate on these important questions; and during this long
interval at such a crisis the confederates gained constant accessions
to their numbers, and completely consolidated their plans. The
opinions in the council were greatly divided as to the mode of
treatment toward those whom one party considered as patriots
acting in their constitutional rights, and the other as rebels
in open revolt against the king. The Prince of Orange and De
Berlaimont were the principal leaders and chief speakers on either
side. But the reasonings of the former, backed by the urgency of
events, carried the majority of the suffrages; and a promised
redress of grievances was agreed on beforehand as the anticipated
answer to the coming demands.

Even while the council of state held its sittings, the report was
spread through Brussels that the confederates were approaching.
And at length they did enter the city, to the amount of some
hundreds of the representatives of the first families in the
country. On the following day, the 5th of April, 1566, they walked
in solemn procession to the palace. Their demeanor was highly
imposing, from their mingled air of forbearance and determination.
All Brussels thronged out to gaze and sympathize with this
extraordinary spectacle of men whose resolute step showed they
were no common suppliants, but whose modest bearing had none
of the seditious air of faction. The stadtholderess received
the distinguished petitioners with courtesy, listened to their
detail of grievances, and returned a moderate, conciliatory,
but evasive answer.

The confederation, which owed its birth to, and was cradled in
social enjoyments, was consolidated in the midst of a feast.
The day following this first deputation to the stadtholderess,
De Brederode gave a grand repast to his associates in the Hotel
de Culembourg. Three hundred guests were present. Inflamed by
joy and hope, their spirits rose high under the influence of
wine, and temperance gave way to temerity. In the midst of their
carousing, some of the members remarked that when the stadtholderess
received the written petition, Count Berlaimont observed to her
that "she had nothing to fear from such a band of beggars"
(_tas_de_GUEUX_). The fact was that many of the confederates
were, from individual extravagance and mismanagement, reduced to
such a state of poverty as to justify in some sort the sarcasm.
The chiefs of the company being at that very moment debating on
the name which they should choose for this patriotic league,
the title of Gueux was instantly proposed, and adopted with
acclamation. The reproach it was originally intended to convey
became neutralized, as its general application to men of all
ranks and fortunes concealed its effect as a stigma on many to
whom it might be seriously applied. Neither were examples wanting
of the most absurd and apparently dishonoring nicknames being
elsewhere adopted by powerful political parties. "Long live the
Gueux!" was the toast given and tumultuously drunk by this
mad-brained company; and Brederode, setting no bounds to the
boisterous excitement which followed, procured immediately, and
slung across his shoulders, a wallet such as was worn by pilgrims
and beggars; drank to the health of all present, in a wooden cup
or porringer; and loudly swore that he was ready to sacrifice
his fortune and life for the common cause. Each man passed round
the bowl, which he first put to his lips, repeated the oath,
and thus pledged himself to the compact. The wallet next went
the rounds of the whole assembly, and was finally hung upon a
nail driven into the wall for the purpose; and gazed on with
such enthusiasm as the emblems of political or religious faith,
however worthless or absurd, never fail to inspire in the minds
of enthusiasts.

The tumult caused by this ceremony, so ridiculous in itself, but
so sublime in its results, attracted to the spot the Prince of
Orange and Counts Egmont and Horn, whose presence is universally
attributed by the historians to accident, but which was probably
that kind of chance that leads medical practitioners in our days
to the field where a duel is fought. They entered; and Brederode,
who did the honors of the mansion, forced them to be seated, and
to join in the festivity. The following was Egmont's account of
their conduct: "We drank a single glass of wine each, to shouts
of 'Long live the king! Long live the Gueux!' It was the first
time I had heard the confederacy so named, and I avow that it
displeased me; but the times were so critical that people were
obliged to tolerate many things contrary to their inclinations, and
I believed myself on this occasion to act with perfect innocence."
The appearance of three such distinguished personages heightened
the general excitement; and the most important assemblage that
had for centuries met together in the Netherlands mingled the
discussion of affairs of state with all the burlesque extravagance
of a debauch. But this frantic scene did not finish the affair. What
they resolved on while drunk, they prepared to perform when sober.
Rallying signs and watchwords were adopted and soon displayed. It
was thought that nothing better suited the occasion than the
immediate adoption of the costume as well as the title of beggary.
In a very few days the city streets were filled with men in gray
cloaks, fashioned on the model of those used by mendicants and
pilgrims. Each confederate caused this uniform to be worn by every
member of his family, and replaced with it the livery of his
servants. Several fastened to their girdles or their sword-hilts
small wooden drinking-cups, clasp-knives, and other symbols of the
begging fraternity; while all soon wore on their breasts a medal
of gold or silver, representing on one side the effigy of Philip,
with the words, "Faithful to the king"; and on the reverse, two
hands clasped, with the motto, "Jusqu' à la besace" (Even to
the wallet). From this origin arose the application of the word
Gueux, in its political sense, as common to all the inhabitants
of the Netherlands who embraced the cause of the Reformation and
took up arms against their tyrant. Having presented two subsequent
remonstrances to the stadtholderess, and obtained some consoling
promises of moderation, the chief confederates quitted Brussels,
leaving several directors to sustain their cause in the capital;
while they themselves spread into the various provinces, exciting
the people to join the legal and constitutional resistance with
which they were resolved to oppose the march of bigotry and

A new form of edict was now decided on by the stadtholderess
and her council; and after various insidious and illegal but
successful tricks, the consent of several of the provinces was
obtained to the adoption of measures that, under a guise of
comparative moderation, were little less abominable than those
commanded by the king. These were formally signed by the council,
and despatched to Spain to receive Philip's sanction, and thus
acquire the force of law. The embassy to Madrid was confided to
the marquis of Bergen and the baron de Montigny; the latter of
whom was brother to Count Horn, and had formerly been employed
on a like mission. Montigny appears to have had some qualms of
apprehension in undertaking this new office. His good genius seemed
for a while to stand between him and the fate which awaited him.
An accident which happened to his colleague allowed an excuse
for retarding his journey. But the stadtholderess urged him away:
he set out, and reached his destination; not to defend the cause
of his country at the foot of the throne, but to perish a victim
to his patriotism.

The situation of the patriot lords was at this crisis peculiarly
embarrassing. The conduct of the confederates was so essentially
tantamount to open rebellion, that the Prince of Orange and his
friends found it almost impossible to preserve a neutrality between
the court and the people. All their wishes urged them to join at
once in the public cause; but they were restrained by a lingering
sense of loyalty to the king, whose employments they still held,
and whose confidence they were, therefore, nominally supposed
to share. They seemed reduced to the necessity of coming to an
explanation, and, perhaps, a premature rupture with the government;
of joining in the harsh measures it was likely to adopt against
those with whose proceedings they sympathized; or, as a last
alternative, to withdraw, as they had done before, wholly from all
interference in public affairs. Still their presence in the council
of state was, even though their influence had greatly decreased,
of vast service to the patriots, in checking the hostility of the
court; and the confederates, on the other hand, were restrained
from acts of open violence, by fear of the disapprobation of
these their best and most powerful friends. Be their individual
motives of reasoning what they might, they at length adopted
the alternative above alluded to, and resigned their places.
Count Horn retired to his estates; Count Egmont repaired to
Aix-la-Chapelle, under the pretext of being ordered thither by
his physicians; the Prince of Orange remained for a while at

In the meanwhile, the confederation gained ground every day. Its
measures had totally changed the face of affairs in all parts
of the nation. The general discontent now acquired stability,
and consequent importance. The chief merchants of many of the
towns enrolled themselves in the patriot band. Many active and
ardent minds, hitherto withheld by the doubtful construction of
the association, now freely entered into it when it took the
form of union and respectability. Energy, if not excess, seemed
legitimatized. The vanity of the leaders was flattered by the
consequence they acquired; and weak minds gladly embraced an
occasion of mixing with those whose importance gave both protection
and concealment to their insignificance.

An occasion so favorable for the rapid promulgation of the new
doctrines was promptly taken advantage of by the French Huguenots
and their Protestant brethren of Germany. The disciples of reform
poured from all quarters into the Low Countries, and made prodigious
progress, with all the energy of proselytes, and too often with
the fury of fanatics. The three principal sects into which the
reformers were divided, were those of the Anabaptists, the
Calvinists, and the Lutherans. The first and least numerous were
chiefly established in Friesland. The second were spread over
the eastern provinces. Their doctrines being already admitted
into some kingdoms of the north, they were protected by the most
powerful princes of the empire. The third, and by far the most
numerous and wealthy, abounded in the southern provinces, and
particularly in Flanders. They were supported by the zealous
efforts of French, Swiss, and German ministers; and their dogmas
were nearly the same with those of the established religion of
England. The city of Antwerp was the central point of union for
the three sects; but the only principle they held in common was
their hatred against popery, the Inquisition, and Spain.

The stadtholderess had now issued orders to the chief magistrates
to proceed with moderation against the heretics; orders which were
obeyed in their most ample latitude by those to whose sympathies
they were so congenial. Until then, the Protestants were satisfied
to meet by stealth at night; but under this negative protection
of the authorities they now boldly assembled in public.
Field-preachings commenced in Flanders; and the minister who
first set this example was Herman Stricker, a converted monk, a
native of Overyssel, a powerful speaker, and a bold enthusiast.
He soon drew together an audience of seven thousand persons. A
furious magistrate rushed among this crowd, and hoped to disperse
them sword in hand; but he was soon struck down, mortally wounded,
with a shower of stones. Irritated and emboldened by this rash
attempt, the Protestants assembled in still greater numbers near
Alost; but on this occasion they appeared with poniards, guns, and
halberds. They intrenched themselves under the protection of wagons
and all sorts of obstacles to a sudden attack; placed outposts and
videttes; and thus took the field in the doubly dangerous aspect of
fanaticism and war. Similar assemblies soon spread over the whole
of Flanders, inflamed by the exhortations of Stricker and another
preacher, called Peter Dathen, of Poperingue. It was calculated
that fifteen thousand men attended at some of these preachings;
while a third apostle of Calvinism, Ambrose Ville, a Frenchman,
successfully excited the inhabitants of Tournay, Valenciennes,
and Antwerp, to form a common league for the promulgation of
their faith. The sudden appearance of De Brederode at the latter
place decided their plan, and gave the courage to fix on a day
for its execution. An immense assemblage simultaneously quitted
the three cities at a pre-concerted time; and when they united
their forces at the appointed rendezvous, the preachings,
exhortations, and psalm-singing commenced, under the auspices of
several Huguenot and German ministers, and continued for several
days in all the zealous extravagance which may be well imagined
to characterize such a scene.

The citizens of Antwerp were terrified for the safety of the place,
and courier after courier was despatched to the stadtholderess at
Brussels to implore her presence. The duchess, not daring to
take such a step without the authority of the king, sent Count
Meghem as her representative, with proposals to the magistrates
to call out the garrison. The populace soon understood the object
of this messenger; and assailing him with a violent outcry, forced
him to fly from the city. Then the Calvinists petitioned the
magistrates for permission to openly exercise their religion,
and for the grant of a temple in which to celebrate its rites.
The magistrates in this conjuncture renewed their application to
the stadtholderess, and entreated her to send the Prince of Orange,
as the only person capable of saving the city from destruction.
The duchess was forced to adopt this bitter alternative; and the
prince, after repeated refusals to mix again in public affairs,
yielded, at length, less to the supplications of the stadtholderess
than to his own wishes to do another service to the cause of his
country. At half a league from the city he was met by De Brederode,
with an immense concourse of people of all sects and opinions,
who hailed him as a protector from the tyranny of the king, and
a savior from the dangers of their own excess. Nothing could
exceed the wisdom, the firmness, and the benevolence, with which
he managed all conflicting interests, and preserved tranquillity
amid a chaos of opposing prejudices and passions.

From the first establishment of the field-preachings the
stadtholderess had implored the confederate lords to aid her for
the re-establishment of order. De Brederode seized this excuse for
convoking a general meeting of the associates which consequently
took place at the town of St. Trond, in the district of Liege.
Full two thousand of the members appeared on the summons. The
language held in this assembly was much stronger and less equivocal
than that formerly used. The delay in the arrival of the king's
answer presaged ill as to his intentions; while the rapid growth
of the public power seemed to mark the present as the time for
successfully demanding all that the people required. Several of
the Catholic members, still royalists at heart, were shocked
to hear a total liberty of conscience spoken of as one of the
privileges sought for. The young count of Mansfield, among others,
withdrew immediately from the confederation; and thus the first
stone seemed to be removed from this imperfectly constructed

The Prince of Orange and Count Egmont were applied to, and appointed
by the stadtholderess, with full powers to treat with the
confederates. Twelve of the latter, among whom were Louis of
Nassau, De Brederode, and De Culembourg, met them by appointment
at Duffle, a village not far from Mechlin. The result of the
conference was a respectful but firm address to the stadtholderess,
repelling her accusations of having entered into foreign treaties;
declaring their readiness to march against the French troops should
they set foot in the country; and claiming, with the utmost force
of reasoning, the convocation of the states-general. This was
replied to by an entreaty that they would still wait patiently for
twenty-four days, in hopes of an answer from the king; and she sent
the marquess of Bergen in all speed to Madrid, to support Montigny
in his efforts to obtain some prompt decision from Philip. The
king, who was then at Segovia, assembled his council, consisting
of the duke of Alva and eight other grandees. The two deputies
from the Netherlands attended at the deliberations, which were
held for several successive days; but the king was never present.
The whole state of affairs being debated with what appears a calm
and dispassionate view, considering the hostile prejudices of this
council, it was decided to advise the king to adopt generally a
more moderate line of conduct in the Netherlands, and to abolish
the inquisition; at the same time prohibiting under the most
awful threats all confederation assemblage, or public preachings,
under any pretext whatever.

The king's first care on, receiving this advice was to order, in
all the principal towns of Spain and the Netherlands, prayer and
processions to implore the divine approbation on the resolutions
which he had formed. He appeared then in person at the council of
state, and issued a decree, by which he refused his consent to
the convocation of the states-general, and bound himself to take
several German regiments into his pay. He ordered the duchess
of Parma, by a private letter, to immediately cause to be raised
three thousand cavalry and ten thousand foot, and he remitted to
her for this purpose three hundred thousand florins in gold. He
next wrote with his own hand to several of his partisans in the
various towns, encouraging them in their fidelity to his purpose,
and promising them his support. He rejected the adoption of the
moderation recommended to him; but he consented to the abolition
of the inquisition in its most odious sense, re-establishing
that modified species of ecclesiastical tyranny which had been
introduced into the Netherlands by Charles V. The people of that
devoted country were thus successful in obtaining one important
concession from the king, and in meeting unexpected consideration
from this Spanish council. Whether these measures had been calculated
with a view to their failure, it is not now easy to determine;
at all events they came too late. When Philip's letters reached
Brussels, the iconoclasts or image-breakers were abroad.

It requires no profound research to comprehend the impulse which
leads a horde of fanatics to the most monstrous excesses. That
the deeds of the iconoclasts arose from the spontaneous outburst
of mere vulgar fury, admits of no doubt. The aspersion which
would trace those deeds to the meeting of St. Trond, and fix
the infamy on the body of nobility there assembled, is scarcely
worthy of refutation. The very lowest of the people were the
actors as well as the authors of the outrages, which were at
once shocking to every friend of liberty, and injurious to that
sacred cause. Artois and western Flanders were the scenes of the
first exploits of the iconoclasts. A band of peasants, intermixed
with beggars and various other vagabonds, to the amount of about
three hundred, urged by fanaticism and those baser passions which
animate every lawless body of men, armed with hatchets, clubs, and
hammers, forced open the doors of some of the village churches
in the neighborhood of St. Omer, and tore down and destroyed not
only the images and relics of saints, but those very ornaments
which Christians of all sects hold sacred, and essential to the
most simple rites of religion.

The cities of Ypres, Lille, and other places of importance, were
soon subject to similar visitations; and the whole of Flanders
was in a few days ravaged by furious multitudes, whose frantic
energy spread terror and destruction on their route. Antwerp was
protected for a while by the presence of the Prince of Orange;
but an order from the stadtholderess having obliged him to repair
to Brussels, a few nights after his departure the celebrated
cathedral shared the fate of many a minor temple, and was utterly
pillaged. The blind fury of the spoilers was not confined to
the mere effigies which they considered the types of idolatry,
nor even to the pictures, the vases, the sixty-six altars, and
their richly wrought accessories; but it was equally fatal to the
splendid organ, which was considered the finest at that time in
existence. The rapidity and the order with which this torch-light
scene was acted, without a single accident among the numerous
doers, has excited the wonder of almost all its early historians.
One of them does not hesitate to ascribe the "miracle" to the
absolute agency of demons. For three days and nights these revolting
scenes were acted, and every church in the city shared the fate
of the cathedral, which next to St. Peter's at Rome was the most
magnificent in Christendom.

Ghent, Tournay, Valenciennes, Mechlin, and other cities, were next
the theatres of similar excesses; and in an incredibly short space
of time above four hundred churches were pillaged in Flanders and
Brabant. Zealand, Utrecht, and others of the northern provinces,
suffered more or less; Friesland, Guelders, and Holland alone
escaped, and even the latter but in partial instances.

These terrible scenes extinguished every hope of reconciliation
with the king. An inveterate and interminable hatred was now
established between him and the people; for the whole nation
was identified with deeds which were in reality only shared by
the most base, and were loathsome to all who were enlightened.
It was in vain that the patriot nobles might hope or strive to
exclupate themselves; they were sure to be held criminal either
in fact or by implication. No show of loyalty, no efforts to
restore order, no personal sacrifice, could save them from the
hatred or screen them from the vengeance of Philip.

The affright of the stadtholderess during the short reign of
anarchy and terror was without bounds. She strove to make her
escape from Brussels, and was restrained from so doing only by
the joint solicitations of Viglius and the various knights of
the order of the golden Fleece, consisting of the first among
the nobles of all parties. But, in fact, a species of violence
was used to restrain her from this most fatal step; for Viglius
gave orders that the gates of the city should be shut, and egress
refused to anyone belonging to the court. The somewhat less terrified
duchess now named Count Mansfield governor of the town, reinforced
the garrison, ordered arms to be distributed to all her adherents,
and then called a council to deliberate on the measures to be
adopted. A compromise with the confederates and the reformers
was unanimously agreed to. The Prince of Orange and Counts Egmont
and Horn were once more appointed to this arduous arbitration
between the court and the people. Necessity now extorted almost
every concession which had been so long denied to justice and
prudence. The confederates were declared absolved from all
responsibility relative to their proceedings. The suppression of
the Inquisition, the abolition of the edicts against heresy, and
a permission for the preachings, were simultaneously published.

The confederates on their side undertook to remain faithful to
the service of the king, to do their best for the establishment
of order, and to punish the iconoclasts. A regular treaty to
this effect was drawn up and executed by the respective
plenipotentiaries, and formally approved by the stadtholderess,
who affixed her sign-manual to the instrument. She only consented
to this measure after a long struggle, and with tears in her
eyes; and it was with a trembling hand that she wrote an account
of these transactions to the king.

Soon after this the several governors repaired to their respective
provinces, and their efforts for the re-establishment of tranquillity
were attended with various degrees of success. Several of the
ringleaders in the late excesses were executed; and this severity
was not confined to the partisans of the Catholic Church. The
Prince of Orange and Count Egmont, with others of the patriot
lords, set the example of this just severity. John Casambrot,
lord of Beckerzeel, Egmont's secretary, and a leading member
of the confederation, put himself at the head of some others
of the associated gentlemen, fell upon a refractory band of
iconoclasts near Gramont, in Flanders, and took thirty prisoners,
of whom he ordered twenty-eight to be hanged on the spot.



A.D. 1566--1573

All the services just related in the common cause of the country
and the king produced no effect on the vindictive spirit of the
latter. Neither the lapse of time, the proofs of repentance, nor
the fulfilment of their duty, could efface the hatred excited
by a conscientious opposition to even one design of despotism.

Philip was ill at Segovia when he received accounts of the excesses
of the image-breakers, and of the convention concluded with the
heretics. Despatches from the stadtholderess, with private advice
from Viglius, Egmont, Mansfield, Meghem, De Berlaimont, and others,
gave him ample information as to the real state of things, and they
thus strove to palliate their having acceded to the convention. The
emperor even wrote to his royal nephew, imploring him to treat his
wayward subjects with moderation, and offered his mediation between
them. Philip, though severely suffering, gave great attention to
the details of this correspondence, which he minutely examined,
and laid before his council of state, with notes and observations
taken by himself. But he took special care to send to them only
such parts as he chose them to be well informed upon; his natural
distrust not suffering him to have any confidential communication
with men.

Again the Spanish council appears to have interfered between
the people of the Netherlands and the enmity of the monarch;
and the offered mediation of the emperor was recommended to his
acceptance, to avoid the appearance of a forced concession to
the popular will. Philip was also strongly urged to repair to
the scene of the disturbances; and a main question of debate was,
whether he should march at the head of an army or confide himself
to the loyalty and good faith of his Belgian subjects. But the
indolence or the pride of Philip was too strong to admit of his
taking so vigorous a measure; and all these consultations ended
in two letters to the stadtholderess. In the first he declared
his firm intention to visit the Netherlands in person; refused
to convoke the states-general; passed in silence the treaties
concluded with the Protestants and the confederates; and finished
by a declaration that he would throw himself wholly on the fidelity
of the country. In his second letter, meant for the stadtholderess
alone, he authorized her to assemble the states-general if public
opinion became too powerful for resistance, but on no account
to let it transpire that he had under any circumstances given
his consent.

During these deliberations in Spain, the Protestants in the
Netherlands amply availed themselves of the privileges they had
gained. They erected numerous wooden churches with incredible
activity. Young and old, noble and plebeian, of these energetic
men, assisted in the manual labors of these occupations; and the
women freely applied the produce of their ornaments and jewels
to forward the pious work. But the furious outrages of the
iconoclasts had done infinite mischief to both political and
religious freedom; many of the Catholics, and particularly the
priests, gradually withdrew themselves from the confederacy,
which thus lost some of its most firm supporters. And, on the
other hand, the severity with which some of its members pursued
the guilty offended and alarmed the body of the people, who could
not distinguish the shades of difference between the love of
liberty and the practice of licentiousness.

The stadtholderess and her satellites adroitly took advantage of
this state of things to sow dissension among the patriots. Autograph
letters from Philip to the principal lords were distributed among
them with such artful and mysterious precautions as to throw the
rest into perplexity, and give each suspicions of the other's
fidelity. The report of the immediate arrival of Philip had also
considerable effect over the less resolute or more selfish; and
the confederation was dissolving rapidly under the operations
of intrigue, self-interest, and fear. Even the Count of Egmont
was not proof against the subtle seductions of the wily monarch,
whose severe yet flattering letters half frightened and half
soothed him into a relapse of royalism. But with the Prince of
Orange Philip had no chance of success. It is unquestionable
that, be his means of acquiring information what they might,
he did succeed in procuring minute intelligence of all that was
going on in the king's most secret council. He had from time to
time procured copies of the stadtholderess's despatches; but
the document which threw the most important light upon the real
intentions of Philip was a confidential epistle to the stadtholderess
from D'Alava, the Spanish minister at Paris, in which he spoke in
terms too clear to admit any doubt as to the terrible example
which the king was resolved to make among the patriot lords.
Bergen and Montigny confirmed this by the accounts they sent
home from Madrid of the alteration in the manner with which they
were treated by Philip and his courtiers; and the Prince of Orange
was more firmly decided in his opinions of the coming vengeance
of the tyrant.

William summoned his brother Louis, the Counts Egmont, Horn,
and Hoogstraeten, to a secret conference at Termonde; and he
there submitted to them this letter of Alava's, with others which
he had received from Spain, confirmatory of his worst fears.
Louis of Nassau voted for open and instant rebellion; William
recommended a cautious observance of the projects of government,
not doubting but a fair pretext would be soon given to justify the
most vigorous overt acts of revolt; but Egmont at once struck a
death-blow to the energetic project of one brother, and the cautious
amendment of the other, by declaring his present resolution to
devote himself wholly to the service of the king, and on no
inducement whatever to risk the perils of rebellion. He expressed
his perfect reliance on the justice and the goodness of Philip
when once he should see the determined loyalty of those whom he
had hitherto had so much reason to suspect; and he extorted the
others to follow his example. The two brothers and Count Horn
implored him in their turn to abandon this blind reliance on
the tyrant; but in vain. His new and unlooked-for profession of
faith completely paralyzed their plans. He possessed too largely
the confidence of both the soldiery and the people to make it
possible to attempt any serious measure of resistance in which
he would not take a part. The meeting broke up without coming to
any decision. All those who bore a part in it were expected at
Brussels to attend the council of state; Egmont alone repaired
thither. The stadtholderess questioned him on the object of the
conference at Termonde: he only replied by an indignant glance,
at the same time presenting a copy of Alava's letter.

The stadtholderess now applied her whole efforts to destroy the
union among the patriot lords. She, in the meantime, ordered
levies of troops to the amount of some thousands, the command
of which was given to the nobles on whose attachment she could
reckon. The most vigorous measures were adopted. Noircarmes,
governor of Hainault, appeared before Valenciennes, which, being
in the power of the Calvinists, had assumed a most determined
attitude of resistance. He vainly summoned the place to submission,
and to admit a royalist garrison; and on receiving an obstinate
refusal, he commenced the siege in form. An undisciplined rabble
of between three thousand and four thousand Gueux, under the
direction of John de Soreas, gathered together in the neighborhood
of Lille and Tournay, with a show of attacking these places. But
the governor of the former town dispersed one party of them; and
Noircarmes surprised and almost destroyed the main body--their
leader falling in the action. These were the first encounters
of the civil war, which raged without cessation for upward of
forty years in these devoted countries, and which is universally
allowed to be the most remarkable that ever desolated any isolated
portion of Europe. The space which we have already given to the
causes which produced this memorable revolution, now actually
commenced, will not allow us to do more than rapidly sketch the
fierce events that succeeded each other with frightful rapidity.

While Valenciennes prepared for a vigorous resistance, a general
synod of the Protestants was held at Antwerp, and De Brederode
undertook an attempt to see the stadtholderess, and lay before
her the complaints of this body; but she refused to admit him into
the capital. He then addressed to her a remonstrance in writing,
in which he reproached her with her violation of the treaties;
on the faith of which the confederates had dispersed, and the
majority of the Protestants laid down their arms. He implored
her to revoke the new proclamations, by which she prohibited them
from the free exercise of their religion; and, above all things,
he insisted on the abandonment of the siege of Valenciennes, and
the disbanding of the new levies. The stadtholderess's reply
was one of haughty reproach and defiance. The gauntlet was now
thrown down; no possible hope of reconciliation remained; and the
whole country flew to arms. A sudden attempt on the part of the
royalists, under Count Meghem, against Bois-le-duc, was repulsed
by eight hundred men, commanded by an officer named Bomberg, in
the immediate service of De Brederode, who had fortified himself
in his garrison town of Vienen.

The Prince of Orange maintained at Antwerp an attitude of extreme
firmness and caution. His time for action had not yet arrived;
but his advice and protection were of infinite importance on
many occasions. John de Marnix, lord of Toulouse, brother of
Philip de St. Aldegonde, took possession of Osterweel on the
Scheldt, a quarter of a league from Antwerp, and fortified himself
in a strong position. But he was impetuously attacked by the
Count de Lannoy with a considerable force, and perished, after
a desperate defence, with full one thousand of his followers.
Three hundred who laid down their arms were immediately after
the action butchered in cold blood. Antwerp was on this occasion
saved from the excesses of its divided and furious citizens,
and preserved from the horrors of pillage, by the calmness and
intrepidity of the Prince of Orange. Valenciennes at length
capitulated to the royalists, disheartened by the defeat and
death of De Marnix, and terrified by a bombardment of thirty-six
hours. The governor, two preachers, and about forty of the citizens
were hanged by the victors, and the reformed religion prohibited.
Noircarmes promptly followed up his success. Maestricht, Turnhout,
and Bois-le-duc submitted at his approach; and the insurgents
were soon driven from all the provinces, Holland alone excepted.
Brederode fled to Germany, where he died the following year.

The stadtholderess showed, in her success, no small proofs of
decision. She and her counsellors, acting under orders from the
king, were resolved on embarrassing to the utmost the patriot lords;
and a new oath of allegiance, to be proposed to every functionary
of the state, was considered as a certain means for attaining
this object without the violence of an unmerited dismissal. The
terms of this oath were strongly opposed to every principle of
patriotism and toleration. Count Mansfield was the first of the
nobles who took it. The duke of Arschot, Counts Meghem, Berlaimont,
and Egmont followed his example. The counts of Horn, Hoogstraeten,
De Brederode, and others, refused on various pretexts. Every
artifice and persuasion was tried to induce the Prince of Orange
to subscribe to this new test; but his resolution had been for
some time formed. He saw that every chance of constitutional
resistance to tyranny was for the present at an end. The time
for petitioning was gone by. The confederation was dissolved. A
royalist army was in the field; the Duke of Alva was notoriously
approaching at the head of another, more numerous. It was worse than
useless to conclude a hollow convention with the stadtholderess
of mock loyalty on his part and mock confidence on hers. Many
other important considerations convinced William that his only
honorable, safe, and wise course was to exile himself from the
Netherlands altogether, until more propitious circumstances allowed
of his acting openly, boldly, and with effect.

Before he put this plan of voluntary banishment into execution,
he and Egmont had a parting interview at the village of Willebroek,
between Antwerp and Brussels. Count Mansfield, and Berti, secretary
to the stadtholderess, were present at this memorable meeting.
The details of what passed were reported to the confederates
by one of their party, who contrived to conceal himself in the
chimney of the chamber. Nothing could exceed the energetic warmth
with which the two illustrious friends reciprocally endeavored
to turn each other from their respective line of conduct; but
in vain. Egmont's fatal confidence in the king was not to be
shaken; nor was Nassau's penetrating mind to be deceived by the
romantic delusion which led away his friend. They separated with
most affectionate expressions; and Nassau was even moved to tears.
His parting words were to the following effect: "Confide, then,
since it must be so, in the gratitude of the king; but a painful
presentiment (God grant it may prove a false one!) tells me that
you will serve the Spaniards as the bridge by which they will
enter the country, and which they will destroy as soon as they
have passed over it!"

On the 11th of April, a few days after this conference, the Prince
of Orange set out for Germany, with his three brothers and his
whole family, with the exception of his eldest son Philip William,
count de Beuren, whom he left behind a student in the University
of Louvain. He believed that the privileges of the college and
the franchises of Brabant would prove a sufficient protection to
the youth; and this appears the only instance in which William's
vigilant prudence was deceived. The departure of the prince seemed
to remove all hope of protection or support from the unfortunate
Protestants, now left the prey of their implacable tyrant. The
confederation of the nobles was completely broken up. The counts
of Hoogstraeten, Bergen, and Culembourg followed the example of
the Prince of Orange, and escaped to Germany; and, the greater
number of those who remained behind took the new oath of allegiance,
and became reconciled to the government.

This total dispersion of the confederacy brought all the towns
of Holland into obedience to the king. But the emigration which
immediately commenced threatened the country with ruin. England
and Germany swarmed with Dutch and Belgian refugees; and all the
efforts of the stadtholderess could not restrain the thousands
that took to flight. She was not more successful in her attempts to
influence the measures of the king. She implored him, in repeated
letters, to abandon his design of sending a foreign army into
the country, which she represented as being now quite reduced
to submission and tranquillity. She added that the mere report
of this royal invasion (so to call it) had already deprived the
Netherlands of many thousands of its best inhabitants; and that
the appearance of the troops would change it into a desert. These
arguments, meant to dissuade, were the very means of encouraging
Philip in his design. He conceived his project to be now ripe
for the complete suppression of freedom; and Alva soon began
his march.

On the 5th of May, 1567, this celebrated captain, whose reputation
was so quickly destined to sink into the notoriety of an executioner,
began his memorable march; and on the 22d of August he, with
his two natural sons, and his veteran army consisting of about
fifteen thousand men, arrived at the walls of Brussels. The
discipline observed on this march was a terrible forewarning to
the people of the Netherlands of the influence of the general and
the obedience of the troops. They had little chance of resistance
against such soldiers so commanded.

Several of the Belgian nobility went forward to meet Alva, to
render him the accustomed honors, and endeavor thus early to
gain his good graces. Among them was the infatuated Egmont, who
made a present to Alva of two superb horses, which the latter
received with a disdainful air of condescension. Alva's first
care was the distribution of his troops--several thousands of
whom were placed in Antwerp, Ghent, and other important towns,
and the remainder reserved under his own immediate orders at
Brussels. His approach was celebrated by universal terror; and
his arrival was thoroughly humiliating to the duchess of Parma.
He immediately produced his commission as commander-in-chief
of the royal armies in the Netherlands; but he next showed her
another, which confided to him powers infinitely more extended
than any Marguerite herself had enjoyed, and which proved to her
that the almost sovereign power over the country was virtually
vested in him.

Alva first turned his attention to the seizure of those patriot
lords whose pertinacious infatuation left them within his reach.
He summoned a meeting of all the members of the council of state
and the knights of the order of the Golden Fleece, to deliberate
on matters of great importance. Counts Egmont and Horn attended,
among many others; and at the conclusion of the council they
were both arrested (some historians assert by the hands of Alva
and his eldest son), as was also Van Straeten, burgomaster of
Antwerp, and Casambrot, Egmont's secretary. The young count of
Mansfield appeared for a moment at this meeting; but, warned by
his father of the fate intended him, as an original member of
the confederation, he had time to fly. The count of Hoogstraeten
was happily detained by illness, and thus escaped the fate of
his friends. Egmont and Horn were transferred to the citadel
of Ghent, under an escort of three thousand Spanish soldiers.
Several other persons of the first families were arrested; and
those who had originally been taken in arms were executed without


The next measures of the new governor were the reestablishment of
the Inquisition, the promulgation of the decrees of the Council
of Trent, the revocation of the duchess of Parma's edicts, and
the royal refusal to recognize the terms of her treaties with
the Protestants. He immediately established a special tribunal,
composed of twelve members, with full powers to inquire into
and pronounce judgment on every circumstance connected with the
late troubles. He named himself president of this council, and
appointed a Spaniard, named Vargas, as vice-president--a wretch
of the most diabolical cruelty. Several others of the judges
were also Spaniards, in direct infraction of the fundamental
laws of the country. This council, immortalized by its infamy,
was named by the new governor (for so Alva was in fact, though
not yet in name), the Council of Troubles. By the people it was
soon designed the Council of Blood. In its atrocious proceedings
no respect was paid to titles, contracts, or privileges, however
sacred. Its judgments were without appeal. Every subject of the
state was amenable to its summons; clergy and laity, the first
individuals of the country, as well as the most wretched outcasts
of society. Its decrees were passed with disgusting rapidity
and contempt of form. Contumacy was punished with exile and
confiscation. Those who, strong in innocence, dared to brave
a trial were lost without resource. The accused were forced to
its bar without previous warning. Many a wealthy citizen was
dragged to trial four leagues' distance, tied to a horse's tail.
The number of victims was appalling. On one occasion, the town
of Valenciennes alone saw fifty-five of its citizens fall by
the hands of the executioner. Hanging, beheading, quartering and
burning were the every-day spectacles. The enormous confiscations
only added to the thirst for gold and blood by which Alva and his
satellites were parched. History offers no example of parallel
horrors; for while party vengeance on other occasions has led to
scenes of fury and terror, they arose, in this instance, from
the vilest cupidity and the most cold-blooded cruelty.

After three months of such atrocity, Alva, fatigued rather than
satiated with butchery, resigned his hateful functions wholly
into the hands of Vargas, who was chiefly aided by the members
Delrio and Dela Torre. Even at this remote period we cannot repress
the indignation excited by the mention of those monsters, and
it is impossible not to feel satisfaction in fixing upon their
names the brand of historic execration. One of these wretches,
called Hesselts, used at length to sleep during the mock trials
of the already doomed victims; and as often as he was roused
up by his colleagues, he used to cry out mechanically, "To the
gibbet! to the gibbet!" so familiar was his tongue with the sounds
of condemnation.

The despair of the people may be imagined from the fact that,
until the end of the year 1567, their only consolation was the
prospect of the king's arrival! He never dreamed of coming. Even
the delight of feasting in horrors like these could not conquer
his indolence. The good duchess of Parma--for so she was in
comparison with her successor--was not long left to oppose the
feeble barrier of her prayers between Alva and his victims. She
demanded her dismissal from the nominal dignity, which was now
but a title of disgrace. Philip granted it readily, accompanied
by a hypocritical letter, a present of thirty thousand crowns,
and the promise of an annual pension of twenty thousand more.
She left Brussels in the month of April, 1568, raised to a high
place in the esteem and gratitude of the people, less by any
actual claims from her own conduct than by its fortuitous contrast
with the infamy of her successor. She retired to Italy, and died
at Naples in the month of February, 1586.

Ferdinand Alvarez de Toledo, duke of Alva, was of a distinguished
family in Spain, and even boasted of his descent from one of the
Moorish monarchs who had reigned in the insignificant kingdom of
Toledo. When he assumed the chief command in the Netherlands, he
was sixty years of age; having grown old and obdurate in pride,
ferocity, and avarice. His deeds must stand instead of a more
detailed portrait, which, to be thoroughly striking, should be
traced with a pen dipped in blood. He was a fierce and clever
soldier, brought up in the school of Charles V., and trained
to his profession in the wars of that monarch in Germany, and
subsequently in that of Philip II. against France. In addition
to the horrors acted by the Council of Blood, Alva committed many
deeds of collateral but minor tyranny; among others, he issued
a decree forbidding, under severe penalties, any inhabitant of
the country to marry without his express permission. His furious
edicts against emigration were attempted to be enforced in vain.
Elizabeth of England opened all the ports of her kingdom to the
Flemish refugees, who carried with them those abundant stores of
manufacturing knowledge which she wisely knew to be the elements
of national wealth.

Alva soon summoned the Prince of Orange, his brothers, and all
the confederate lords, to appear before the council and answer
to the charge of high treason. The prince gave a prompt and
contemptuous answer, denying the authority of Alva and his council,
and acknowledging for his judges only the emperor, whose vassal
he was, or the king of Spain in person, as president of the order
of the Golden Fleece. The other lords made replies nearly similar.
The trials of each were, therefore, proceeded on, by contumacy;
confiscation of property being an object almost as dear to the
tyrant viceroy as the death of his victims. Judgments were promptly
pronounced against those present or absent, alive or dead. Witness
the case of the unfortunate marquess of Bergues, who had previously
expired at Madrid, as was universally believed, by poison; and his
equally ill-fated colleague in the embassy, the Baron Montigny,
was for a while imprisoned at Segovia, where he was soon after
secretly beheaded, on the base pretext of former disaffection.

The departure of the duchess of Parma having left Alva undisputed
as well as unlimited authority, he proceeded rapidly in his terrible
career. The count of Beuren was seized at Louvain, and sent prisoner
to Madrid; and wherever it was possible to lay hands on a suspected
patriot, the occasion was not neglected. It would be a revolting
task to enter into a minute detail of all the horrors committed,
and impossible to record the names of the victims who so quickly
fell before Alva's insatiate cruelty. The people were driven to
frenzy. Bands of wretches fled to the woods and marshes; whence,
half famished and perishing for want, they revenged themselves with
pillage and murder. Pirates infested and ravaged the coast; and
thus, from both sea and land, the whole extent of the Netherlands
was devoted to carnage and ruin. The chronicles of Brabant and
Holland, chiefly written in Flemish by contemporary authors,
abound in thrilling details of the horrors of this general
desolation, with long lists of those who perished. Suffice it
to say, that, on the recorded boast of Alva himself, he caused
eighteen thousand inhabitants of the Low Countries to perish by
the hands of the executioner, during his less than six years'
sovereignty in the Netherlands.

The most important of these tragical scenes was now soon to be
acted. The Counts Egmont and Horn, having submitted to some previous
interrogatories by Vargas and others, were removed from Ghent to
Brussels, on the 3d of June, under a strong escort. The following
day they passed through the mockery of a trial before the Council
of Blood; and on the 5th they were both beheaded in the great
square of Brussels, in the presence of Alva, who gloated on the
spectacle from a balcony that commanded the execution. The same day
Van Straeten, and Casambrot shared the fate of their illustrious
friends, in the castle of Vilvorde; with many others whose names
only find a place in the local chronicles of the times. Egmont
and Horn met their fate with the firmness expected from their
well-proved courage.

These judicial murders excited in the Netherlands an agitation
without bounds. It was no longer hatred or aversion that filled
men's minds, but fury and despair. The outbursting of a general
revolt was hourly watched for. The foreign powers, without exception,
expressed their disapproval of these executions. The emperor
Maximilian II., and all the Catholic princes, condemned them.
The former sent his brother expressly to the king of Spain, to
warn him that without a cessation of his cruelties he could not
restrain a general declaration from the members of the empire,
which would, in all likelihood, deprive him of every acre of
land in the Netherlands. The princes of the Protestant states
held no terms in the expression of their disgust and resentment;
and everything seemed now ripe, both at home and abroad, to favor
the enterprise on which the Prince of Orange was determined to
risk his fortune and his life. But his principal resources were
to be found in his genius and courage, and in the heroic devotion
partaken by his whole family in the cause of their country. His
brother, Count John, advanced him a considerable sum of money;
the Flemings and Hollanders, in England and elsewhere, subscribed
largely; the prince himself, after raising loans in every possible
way on his private means, sold his jewels, his plate, and even
the furniture of his houses, and threw the amount into the common

Two remarkable events took place this year in Spain, and added
to the general odium entertained against Philip's character
throughout Europe. The first was the death of his son Don Carlos,
whose sad story is too well known in connection with the annals
of his country to require a place here; the other was the death
of the queen. Universal opinion assigned poison as the cause;
and Charles IX. of France, her brother, who loved her with great
tenderness, seems to have joined in this belief. Astonishment
and horror filled all minds on the double denouement of this
romantic tragedy; and the enemies of the tyrant reaped all the
advantages it was so well adapted to produce them.

The Prince of Orange, having raised a considerable force in Germany,
now entered on the war with all the well-directed energy by which
he was characterized. The queen of England, the French Huguenots,
and the Protestant princes of Germany, all lent him their aid
in money or in men; and he opened his first campaign with great
advantage. He formed his army into four several corps, intending
to enter the country on as many different points, and by a sudden
irruption on that most vulnerable to rouse at once the hopes and
the co-operation of the people. His brothers Louis and Adolphus,
at the head of one of these divisions, penetrated into Friesland,
and there commenced the contest. The count of Aremberg, governor
of this province, assisted by the Spanish troops under Gonsalvo
de Bracamonte, quickly opposed the invaders. They met on the 24th
of May near the abbey of Heiligerlee, which gave its name to
the battle; and after a short contest the royalists were defeated
with great loss. The count of Aremberg and Adolphus of Nassau
encountered in single combat, and fell by each other's hands.
The victory was dearly purchased by the loss of this gallant
prince, the first of his illustrious family who have on so many
occasions, down to these very days, freely shed their blood for the
freedom and happiness of the country which may be so emphatically
called their own.

Alva immediately hastened to the scene of this first action, and
soon forced Count Louis to another at a place called Jemminghem,
near the town of Embden, on the 21st of July. Their forces were
nearly equal, about fourteen thousand on either side; but all the
advantage of discipline and skill was in favor of Alva; and the
consequence was, the total rout of the patriots with a considerable
loss in killed and the whole of the cannon and baggage. The entire
province of Friesland was thus again reduced to obedience, and
Alva hastened back to Brabant to make head against the Prince
of Orange. The latter had now under his command an army of
twenty-eight thousand men--an imposing force in point of numbers,
being double that which his rival was able to muster. He soon
made himself master of the towns of Tongres and St. Trond, and
the whole province of Liege was in his power. He advanced boldly
against Alva, and for several months did all that manoeuvring
could do to force him to a battle. But the wily veteran knew
his trade too well; he felt sure that in time the prince's force
would disperse for want of pay and supplies; and he managed his
resources so ably that with little risk and scarcely any loss
he finally succeeded in his object. In the month of October the
prince found himself forced to disband his large but undisciplined
force; and he retired into France to recruit his funds and consider
on the best measures for some future enterprise.

The insolent triumph of Alva knew no bounds. The rest of the
year was consumed in new executions. The hotel of Culembourg,
the early cradle of De Brederode's confederacy, was razed to the
ground, and a pillar erected on the spot commemorative of the
deed; while Alva, resolved to erect a monument of his success as
well as of his hate, had his own statue in brass, formed of the
cannons taken at Jemminghem, set up in the citadel of Antwerp,
with various symbols of power and an inscription of inflated

The following year was ushered in by a demand of unwonted and
extravagant rapacity; the establishment of two taxes on property,
personal and real, to the amount of the hundredth penny (or denier)
on each kind; and at every transfer or sale ten per cent on personal
and five per cent for real property. The states-general, of whom
this demand was made, were unanimous in their opposition, as well
as the ministers; but particularly De Berlaimont and Viglius.
Alva was so irritated that he even menaced the venerable president
of the council, but could not succeed in intimidating him. He
obstinately persisted in his design for a considerable period;
resisting arguments and prayers, and even the more likely means
tried for softening his cupidity, by furnishing him with sums
from other sources equivalent to those which the new taxes were
calculated to produce. To his repeated threats against Viglius
the latter replied, that "he was convinced the king would not
condemn him unheard; but that at any rate his gray hairs saved
him from any ignoble fear of death."

A deputation was sent from the states-general to Philip explaining
the impossibility of persevering in the attempted taxes, which
were incompatible with every principle of commercial liberty.
But Alva would not abandon his design till he had forced every
province into resistance, and the king himself commanded him to
desist. The events of this and the following year, 1570, may
be shortly summed up; none of any striking interest or eventual
importance having occurred. The sufferings of the country were
increasing from day to day under the intolerable tyranny which
bore it down. The patriots attempted nothing on land; but their
naval force began from this time to acquire that consistency
and power which was so soon to render it the chief means of
resistance and the great source of wealth. The privateers or
corsairs, which began to swarm from every port in Holland and
Zealand, and which found refuge in all those of England, sullied
many gallant exploits by instances of culpable excess; so much
so that the Prince of Orange was forced to withdraw the command
which he had delegated to the lord of Dolhain, and to replace
him by Gislain de Fiennes: for already several of the exiled
nobles and ruined merchants of Antwerp and Amsterdam had joined
these bold adventurers; and purchased or built, with the remnant
of their fortunes, many vessels, in which they carried on a most
productive warfare against Spanish commerce through the whole
extent of the English Channel, from the mouth of the Embs to
the harbor of La Rochelle.

One of those frightful inundations to which the northern provinces
were so constantly exposed occurred this year, carrying away
the dikes, and destroying lives and properly to a considerable
amount. In Friesland alone twenty thousand men were victims to this
calamity. But no suffering could affect the inflexible sternness of
the duke of Alva; and to such excess did he carry his persecution
that Philip himself began to be discontented, and thought his
representative was overstepping the bounds of delegated tyranny.
He even reproached him sharply in some of his despatches. The
governor replied in the same strain; and such was the effect of
this correspondence that Philip resolved to remove him from his
command. But the king's marriage with Anne of Austria, daughter
of the emperor Maximilian, obliged him to defer his intentions
for a while; and he at length named John de la Cerda, duke of
Medina-Celi, for Alva's successor. Upward of a year, however,
elapsed before this new governor was finally appointed; and he
made his appearance on the coast of Flanders with a considerable
fleet, on the 11th of May, 1572. He was afforded on this very
day a specimen of the sort of people he came to contend with;
for his fleet was suddenly attacked by that of the patriots,
and many of his vessels burned and taken before his eyes, with
their rich cargoes and considerable treasures intended for the
service of the state.

The duke of Medina-Celi proceeded rapidly to Brussels, where
he was ceremoniously received by Alva, who, however, refused
to resign the government, under the pretext that the term of
his appointment had not expired, and that he was resolved first
to completely suppress all symptoms of revolt in the northern
provinces. He succeeded in effectually disgusting La Cerda, who
almost immediately demanded and obtained his own recall to Spain.
Alva, left once more in undisputed possession of his power, turned
it with increased vigor into new channels of oppression. He was soon
again employed in efforts to effect the levying of his favorite
taxes; and such was the resolution of the tradesmen of Brussels,
that, sooner than submit, they almost universally closed their
shops altogether. Alva, furious at this measure, caused sixty of
the citizens to be seized, and ordered them to be hanged opposite
their own doors. The gibbets were actually erected, when, on the
very morning of the day fixed for the executions, he received
despatches that wholly disconcerted him and stopped their completion.

To avoid an open rupture with Spain, the queen of England had
just at this time interdicted the Dutch and Flemish privateers
from taking shelter in her ports. William de la Marck, count of
Lunoy, had now the chief command of this adventurous force. He
was distinguished by an inveterate hatred against the Spaniards,
and had made a wild and romantic vow never to cut his hair or
beard till he had avenged the murders of Egmont and Horn. He was
impetuous and terrible in all his actions, and bore the surname
of "the wild boar of the Ardennes." Driven out of the harbors of
England, he resolved on some desperate enterprise; and on the
1st of April he succeeded in surprising the little town of Brille,
in the island of Voorn, situate between Zealand and Holland. This
insignificant place acquired great celebrity from this event,
which may be considered the first successful step toward the
establishment of liberty and the republic.

Alva was confounded by the news of this exploit, but with his
usual activity he immediately turned his whole attention toward
the point of greatest danger. His embarrassment, however, became
every day more considerable. Lunoy's success was the signal of a
general revolt. In a few days every town in Holland and Zealand
declared for liberty, with the exception of Amsterdam and Middleburg,
where the Spanish garrisons were too strong for the people to
attempt their expulsion.

The Prince of Orange, who had been ou the watch for a favorable
moment, now entered Brabant at the head of twenty thousand men,
composed of French, German, and English, and made himself master
of several important places; while his indefatigable brother
Louis, with a minor force, suddenly appeared in Hainault, and,
joined by a large body of French Huguenots under De Genlis, he
seized on Mons, the capital of the province, on the 25th of May.

Alva turned first toward the recovery of this important place,
and gave the command of the siege to his son Frederic of Toledo,
who was assisted by the counsels of Noircarmes and Vitelli; but
Louis of Nassau held out for upward of three months, and only
surrendered on an honorable capitulation in the month of September;
his French allies having been first entirely defeated, and their
brave leader De Genlis taken prisoner. The Prince of Orange had
in the meantime secured possession of Louvain, Ruremonde, Mechlin,
and other towns, carried Termonde and Oudenarde by assault, and
made demonstrations which seemed to court Alva once more to try
the fortune of the campaign in a pitched battle. But such were
not William's real intentions, nor did the cautious tactics of
his able opponent allow him to provoke such a risk. He, however,
ordered his son Frederic to march with all his force into Holland,
and he soon undertook the siege of Haerlem. By the time that Mons
fell again into the power of the Spaniards, sixty-five towns
and their territories, chiefly in the northern provinces, had
thrown off the yoke. The single port of Flessingue contained
one hundred and fifty patriot vessels, well armed and equipped;
and from that epoch may be dated the rapid growth of the first
naval power in Europe, with the single exception of Great Britain.

It is here worthy of remark, that all the horrors of which the
people of Flanders were the victims, and in their full proportion,
had not the effect of exciting them to revolt; but they rose up
with fury against the payment of the new taxes. They sacrificed
everything sooner than pay these unjust exactions--_Omnia_dabant_,
_ne_decimam_darant_. The next important event in these wars
was the siege of Haerlem, before which place the Spaniards were
arrested in their progress for seven months, and which they at
length succeeded in taking with a loss of ten thousand men.

The details of this memorable siege are calculated to arouse
every feeling of pity for the heroic defenders, and of execration
against the cruel assailants. A widow, named Kenau Hasselaer,
gained a niche in history by her remarkable valor at the head of
a battalion of three hundred of her townswomen, who bore a part
in all the labors and perils of the siege. After the surrender,
and in pursuance of Alva's common system, his ferocious son caused
the governor and the other chief officers to be beheaded; and
upward of two thousand of the worn-out garrison and burghers
were either put to the sword, or tied two and two and drowned
in the lake which gives its name to the town. Tergoes in South
Beveland, Mechlin, Naerden, and other towns, were about the same
period the scenes of gallant actions, and of subsequent cruelties
of the most revolting nature as soon as they fell into the power
of the Spaniards. Strada, with all his bigotry to the Spanish
cause, admits that these excesses were atrocious crimes rather
than just punishments: _non_poena,_sed_flagitium_. Horrors like
these were sure to force reprisals on the part of the maddened
patriots. De la Marck carried on his daring exploits with a cruelty
which excited the indignation of the Prince of Orange, by whom
he was removed from his command. The contest was for a while
prosecuted with a decrease of vigor proportioned to the serious
losses on both sides; money and the munitions of war began to
fail; and though the Spaniards succeeded in taking The Hague,
they were repulsed before Alkmaer with great loss, and their
fleet was almost entirely destroyed in a naval combat on the
Zuyder Zee. The count Bossu, their admiral, was taken in this
fight, with about three hundred of his best sailors.

Holland was now from one end to the other the theatre of the
most shocking events. While the people performed deeds of the
greatest heroism, the perfidy and cruelty of the Spaniards had
no bounds. The patriots saw more danger in submission than in
resistance; each town, which was in succession subdued, endured
the last extremities of suffering before it yielded, and victory
was frequently the consequence of despair. This unlooked-for
turn in affairs decided the king to remove Alva, whose barbarous
and rapacious conduct was now objected to even by Philip, when
it produced results disastrous to his cause. Don Luis Zanega y
Requesens, commander of the order of Malta, was named to the
government of the Netherlands. He arrived at Brussels on the
17th of November, 1573; and on the 18th of that following month,
the monster whom he succeeded set out for Spain, loaded with the
booty to which he had waded through oceans of blood, and with
the curses of the country, which, however, owed its subsequent
freedom to the impulse given by his intolerable cruelty. He repaired
to Spain; and after various fluctuations of favor and disgrace
at the hands of his congenial master, he died in his bed, at
Lisbon, in 1582, at the advanced age of seventy-four years.



A.D. 1573--1576

The character of Requesens was not more opposed to that of his
predecessor, than were the instructions given to him for his
government. He was an honest, well-meaning, and moderate man,
and the king of Spain hoped that by his influence and a total
change of measures he might succeed in recalling the Netherlands
to obedience. But, happily for the country, this change was adopted
too late for success; and the weakness of the new government
completed the glorious results which the ferocity of the former
had prepared.

Requesens performed all that depended on him, to gain the confidence
of the people. He caused Alva's statue to be removed; and hoped
to efface the memory of the tyrant by dissolving the Council of
Blood and abandoning the obnoxious taxes which their inventor
had suspended rather than abolished. A general amnesty was also
promulgated against the revolted provinces; they received it
with contempt and defiance. Nothing then was left to Requesens
but to renew the war; and this he found to be a matter of no
easy execution. The finances were in a state of the greatest
confusion; and the Spanish troops were in many places seditious,
in some openly mutinous, Alva having left large arrears of pay
due to almost all, notwithstanding the immense amount of his
pillage and extortion. Middleburg, which had long sustained a
siege against all the efforts of the patriots, was now nearly
reduced by famine, notwithstanding the gallant efforts of its
governor, Mondragon. Requesens turned his immediate attention
to the relief of this important place; and he soon assembled,
at Antwerp and Berg-op-Zoom, a fleet of sixty vessels for that
purpose. But Louis Boisot, admiral of Zealand, promptly repaired
to attack this force; and after a severe action he totally defeated
it, and killed De Glimes, one of its admirals, under the eyes of
Requesens himself, who, accompanied by his suite, stood during
the whole affair on the dike of Schakerloo. This action took place
the 29th of January, 1574; and, on the 19th of February following,
Middleburg surrendered, after a resistance of two years. The Prince
of Orange granted such conditions as were due to the bravery of
the governor; and thus set an example of generosity and honor
which greatly changed the complexion of the war. All Zealand was
now free; and the intrepid Admiral Boisot gained another victory
on the 30th of May--destroying several of the Spanish vessels, and
taking some others, with their Admiral Von Haemstede. Frequent
naval enterprises were also undertaken against the frontiers of
Flanders; and while the naval forces thus harassed the enemy on
every vulnerable point, the unfortunate provinces of the interior
were ravaged by the mutinous and revolted Spaniards, and by the
native brigands, who pillaged both royalists and patriots with
atrocious impartiality.

To these manifold evils was now added one more terrible, in the
appearance of the plague, which broke out at Ghent in the month
of October, and devastated a great part of the Netherlands; not,
however, with that violence with which it rages in more southern

Requesens, overwhelmed by difficulties, yet exerted himself to
the utmost to put the best face on the affairs of government.
His chief care was to appease the mutinous soldiery: he even
caused his plate to be melted, and freely gave the produce toward
the payment of their arrears. The patriots, well informed of this
state of things, labored to turn it to their best advantage. They
opened the campaign in the province of Guelders, where Louis of
Nassau, with his younger brother Henry, and the prince Palatine,
son of the elector Frederick III., appeared at the head of eleven
thousand men; the Prince of Orange prepared to join him with an
equal number; but Requesens promptly despatched Sanchez d'Avila
to prevent this junction. The Spanish commander quickly passed
the Meuse near Nimeguen; and on the 14th of April he forced Count
Louis to a battle, on the great plain called Mookerheyde, close
to the village of Mook. The royalists attacked with their usual
valor; and, after two hours of hard fighting, the confederates
were totally defeated. The three gallant princes were among the
slain, and their bodies were never afterward discovered. It has
been stated, on doubtful authority, that Louis of Nassau, after
having lain some time among the heaps of dead, dragged himself
to the side of the river Meuse, and while washing his wounds
was inhumanly murdered by some straggling peasants, to whom he
was unknown. The unfortunate fate of this enterprising prince
was a severe blow to the patriot cause, and a cruel affliction
to the Prince of Orange. He had now already lost three brothers
in the war; and remained alone, to revenge their fate and sustain
the cause for which they had perished.

D'Avila soon found his victory to be as fruitless as it was
brilliant. The ruffian troops, by whom it was gained, became
immediately self-disbanded; threw off all authority; hastened
to possess themselves of Antwerp; and threatened to proceed to
the most horrible extremities if their pay was longer withheld.
The citizens succeeded with difficulty in appeasing them, by
the sacrifice of some money in part payment of their claims.
Requesens took advantage of their temporary calm, and despatched
them promptly to take part in the siege of Leyden.

This siege formed another of those numerous instances which became
so memorable from the mixture of heroism and horror. Jean Vanderdoes,
known in literature by the name of Dousa, and celebrated for his
Latin poems, commanded the place. Valdez, who conducted the siege,
urged Dousa to surrender; when the latter replied, in the name of
the inhabitants, "that when provisions failed them, they would
devour their left hands, reserving the right to defend their
liberty." A party of the inhabitants, driven to disobedience and
revolt by the excess of misery to which they were shortly reduced,
attempted to force the burgomaster, Vanderwerf, to supply them with
bread, or yield up the place. But he sternly made the celebrated
answer, which, cannot be remembered without shuddering--"Bread I
have none; but if my death can afford you relief, tear my body
in pieces, and let those who are most hungry devour it!"

But in this extremity relief at last was afforded by the decisive
measures of the Prince of Orange, who ordered all the neighboring
dikes to be opened and the sluices raised, thus sweeping away the
besiegers on the waves of the ocean: the inhabitants of Leyden
were apprised of this intention by means of letters intrusted
to the safe carriage of pigeons trained for the purpose. The
inundation was no sooner effected than hundreds of flat-bottomed
boats brought abundance of supplies to the half-famished town;
while a violent storm carried the sea across the country for
twenty leagues around, and destroyed the Spanish camp, with above
one thousand soldiers, who were overtaken by the flood. This
deliverance took place on the 3d of October, on which day it
is still annually celebrated by the descendants of the grateful

It was now for the first time that Spain would consent to listen
to advice or mediation, which had for its object the termination
of this frightful war. The emperor Maximilian II. renewed at
this epoch his efforts with Philip; and under such favorable
auspices conferences commenced at Breda, where the counts
Swartzenberg and Hohenloe, brothers-in-law of the Prince of Orange,
met, on the part of the emperor, the deputies from the king of
Spain and the patriots; and hopes of a complete pacification
were generally entertained. But three months of deliberation
proved their fallacy. The patriots demanded toleration for the
reformed religion. The king's deputies obstinately refused it.
The congress was therefore broken up; and both oppressors and
oppressed resumed their arms with increased vigor and tenfold

Requesens had long fixed his eyes on Zealand as the scene of an
expedition by which he hoped to repair the failure before Leyden;
and he caused an attempt to be made on the town of Zuriczee, in
the island of Scauwen, which merits record as one of the boldest
and most original enterprises of the war.

The little islands of Zealand are separated from each other by
narrow branches of the sea, which are fordable at low water;
and it was by such a passage, two leagues in breadth, and till
then untried, that the Spanish detachment of one thousand seven
hundred and fifty men, under Ulloa and other veteran captains,
advanced to their exploit in the midst of dangers greatly increased
by a night of total darkness. Each man carried round his neck
two pounds of gunpowder, with a sufficient supply of biscuit
for two days; and holding their swords and muskets high over
their heads, they boldly waded forward, three abreast, in some
places up to their shoulders in water. The alarm was soon given;
and a shower of balls was poured upon the gallant band, from
upward of forty boats which the Zealanders sent rapidly toward
the spot. The only light afforded to either party was from the
flashes of their guns; and while the adventurers advanced with
undaunted firmness, their equally daring assailants, jumping
from their boats into the water, attacked them with oars and
hooked handspikes, by which many of the Spaniards were destroyed.
The rearguard, in this extremity, cut off from their companions,
was obliged to retreat; but the rest, after a considerable loss,
at length reached the land, and thus gained possession of the
island, on the night of the 28th of September, 1575.

Requesens quickly afterward repaired to the scene of this gallant
exploit, and commenced the siege of Zuriczee, which he did not
live to see completed. After having passed the winter months
in preparation for the success of this object which he had so
much at heart, he was recalled to Brussels by accounts of new
mutinies in the Spanish cavalry; and the very evening before
he reached the city he was attacked by a violent fever, which
carried him off five days afterward, on the 5th of March, 1516.

The suddenness of Requesen's illness had not allowed time for
even the nomination of a successor, to which he was authorized by
letters patent from the king. It is believed that his intention
was to appoint Count Mansfield to the command of the army, and De
Berlaimont to the administration of civil affairs. The government,
however, now devolved entirely into the hands of the council of
state, which was at that period composed of nine members. The
principal of these was Philip de Croi, duke of Arschot; the other
leading members were Viglius, Counts Mansfield and Berlaimont; and
the council was degraded by numbering, among the rest, Debris
and De Roda, two of the notorious Spaniards who had formed part
of the Council of Blood.

The king resolved to leave the authority in the hands of this
incongruous mixture, until the arrival of Don John of Austria,
his natural brother, whom he had already named to the office of
governor-general. But in the interval the government assumed an
aspect of unprecedented disorder; and widespread anarchy embraced
the whole country. The royal troops openly revolted, and fought
against each other like deadly enemies. The nobles, divided in
their views, arrogated to themselves in different places the
titles and powers of command. Public faith and private probity
seemed alike destroyed. Pillage, violence and ferocity were the
commonplace characteristics of the times.

Circumstances like these may be well supposed to have revived
the hopes of the Prince of Orange, who quickly saw amid this
chaos the elements of order, strength, and liberty. Such had
been his previous affliction at the harrowing events which he
witnessed and despaired of being able to relieve, that he had
proposed to the patriots of Holland and Zealand to destroy the
dikes, submerge the whole country, and abandon to the waves the
soil which refused security to freedom. But Providence destined
him to be the savior, instead of the destroyer, of his country. The
chief motive of this excessive desperation had been the apparent
desertion by Queen Elizabeth of the cause which she had hitherto
so mainly assisted. Offended at the capture of some English ships
by the Dutch, who asserted that they carried supplies for the
Spaniards, she withdrew from them her protection; but by timely
submission they appeased her wrath; and it is thought by some
historians that even thus early the Prince of Orange proposed to
place the revolted provinces wholly under her protection. This,
however, she for the time refused; but she strongly solicited
Philip's mercy for these unfortunate countries, through the Spanish
ambassador at her court.

In the meantime the council of state at Brussels seemed disposed
to follow up as far as possible the plans of Requesens. The siege
of Zuriczee was continued; but speedy dissensions among the members
of the government rendered their authority contemptible, if not
utterly extinct, in the eyes of the people. The exhaustion of
the treasury deprived them of all power to put an end to the
mutinous excesses of the Spanish troops, and the latter carried
their licentiousness to the utmost bounds. Zuriczee, admitted to
a surrender, and saved from pillage by the payment of a large
sum, was lost to the royalists within three months, from the
want of discipline in its garrison; and the towns and burghs
of Brabant suffered as much from the excesses of their nominal
protectors as could have been inflicted by the enemy. The mutineers
at length, to the number of some thousands, attacked and carried
by force the town of Alost, at equal distances between Brussels,
Ghent, and Antwerp, imprisoned the chief citizens, and levied
contributions on all the country round. It was then that the
council of state found itself forced to proclaim them rebels,
traitors, and enemies to the king and the country, and called
on all loyal subjects to pursue and exterminate them wherever
they were found in arms.

This proscription of the Spanish mutineers was followed by the
convocation of the states-general, and the government thus hoped
to maintain some show of union and some chance of authority.
But a new scene of intestine violence completed the picture of
executive inefficiency. On the 4th of September, the grand bailiff
of Brabant, as lieutenant of the Baron de Hesse, governor of
Brussels, entered the council chamber by force, and arrested all
the members present, on suspicion of treacherously maintaining
intelligence with the Spaniards. Counts Mansfield and Berlaimont
were imprisoned, with some others. Viglius escaped this indignity
by being absent froth indisposition. This bold measure was hailed
by the people with unusual joy, as the signal for that total
change in the government which they reckoned on as the prelude
to complete freedom.

The states-general were all at this time assembled, with the
exception of those of Flanders, who joined the others with but
little delay. The general reprobation against the Spaniards procured
a second decree of proscription; and their desperate conduct
justified the utmost violence with which they might be pursued.
They still held the citadels of Ghent and Antwerp, as well as
Maestricht, which they had seized on, sacked, and pillaged with
all the fury which a barbarous enemy inflicts on a town carried
by assault. On the 3d of November, the other body of mutineers,
in possession of Alost, marched to the support of their fellow
brigands in the citadel of Antwerp; and both, simultaneously
attacking this magnificent city, became masters of it in all
points, in spite of a vigorous resistance on the part of the
citizens. They then began a scene of rapine and destruction
unequalled in the annals of these desperate wars. More than five
hundred private mansions and the splendid town-house were delivered
to the flames: seven thousand citizens perished by the sword or
in the waters of the Scheldt. For three days the carnage and
the pillage went on with unheard-of fury; and the most opulent
town in Europe was thus reduced to ruin and desolation by a few
thousand frantic ruffians. The loss was valued at above two million
golden crowns. Vargas and Romero were the principal leaders of
this infernal exploit; and De Roda gained a new title to his
immortality of shame by standing forth as its apologist.

The states-general, assembled at Ghent, were solemnly opened on
the 14th of September. Being apprehensive of a sudden attack from
the Spanish troops in the citadel, they proposed a negotiation,
and demanded a protecting force from the Prince of Orange, who
immediately entered into a treaty with their envoy, and sent to
their assistance eight companies of infantry and seventeen pieces
of cannon, under the command of the English colonel, Temple.
In the midst of this turmoil and apparent insecurity, the
states-general proceeded in their great work, and assumed the
reins of government in the name of the king. They allowed the
council of state still nominally to exist, but they restricted
its powers far within those it had hitherto exercised; and the
government, thus absolutely assuming the form of a republic,
issued manifestoes in justification of its conduct, and demanded
succor from all the foreign powers. To complete the union between
the various provinces, it was resolved to resume the negotiations
commenced the preceding year at Breda; and the 10th of October
was fixed for this new congress to be held in the town-house
of Ghent.

On the day appointed, the congress opened its sittings; and rapidly
arriving at the termination of its important object, the celebrated
treaty known by the title of "The Pacification of Ghent" was
published on the 8th of November, to the sound of bells and trumpets;
while the ceremony was rendered still more imposing by the thunder
of the artillery which battered the walls of the besieged citadel.
It was even intended to have delivered a general assault against the
place at the moment of the proclamation; but the mutineers demanded
a capitulation and finally surrendered three days afterward. It
was the wife of the famous Mondragon who commanded the place
in her husband's absence; and by her heroism gave a new proof
of the capability of the sex to surpass the limits which nature
seems to have fixed for their conduct.

The Pacification contained twenty-five articles. Among others,
it was agreed:

That a full amnesty should be passed for all offences whatsoever.

That the estates of Brabant, Flanders, Hainault, Artois, and
others, on the one part; the Prince of Orange, and the states of
Holland and Zealand and their associates, on the other; promised
to maintain good faith, peace, and friendship, firm and inviolable;
to mutually assist each other, at all times, in council and action;
and to employ life and fortune, above all things, to expel from
the country the Spanish soldiers and other foreigners.

That no one should be allowed to injure or insult, by word or
deed, the exercise of the Catholic religion, on pain of being
treated as a disturber of the public peace.

That the edicts against heresy and the proclamations of the duke
of Alva should be suspended.

That all confiscations, sentences, and judgments rendered since
1566 should be annulled.

That the inscriptions, monuments, and trophies erected by the
duke of Alva should be demolished.

Such were the general conditions of the treaty; the remaining
articles chiefly concerned individual interests. The promulgation
of this great charter of union, which was considered as the
fundamental law of the country, was hailed in all parts of the
Netherlands with extravagant demonstrations of joy.



A.D. 1576--1580

On the very day of the sack of Antwerp, Don John of Austria arrived
at Luxemburg. This ominous commencement of his viceregal reign
was not belied by the events which followed; and the hero of
Lepanto, the victor of the Turks, the idol of Christendom, was
destined to have his reputation and well-won laurels tarnished in
the service of the insidious despotism to which he now became an
instrument. Don John was a natural son of Charles V., and to fine
talents and a good disposition united the advantages of hereditary
courage and a liberal education. He was born at Ratisbon on the
24th of February, 1543. His reputed mother was a young lady of
that place named Barbara Blomberg; but one historian states that
the real parent was of a condition too elevated to have her rank
betrayed; and that, to conceal the mystery, Barbara Blomberg had
voluntarily assumed the distinction, or the dishonor, according
to the different constructions put upon the case. The prince,
having passed through France, disguised, for greater secrecy or
in a youthful frolic, as a negro valet to Prince Octavo Gonzaga,
entered on the limits of his new government, and immediately
wrote to the council of state in the most condescending terms to
announce his arrival.

Nothing could present a less promising aspect to the prince than
the country at the head of which he was now placed. He found all
its provinces, with the sole exception of Luxemburg, in the anarchy
attendant on a ten years' civil war, and apparently resolved on
a total breach of their allegiance to Spain. He found his best,
indeed his only, course to be that of moderation and management;
and it is most probable that at the outset his intentions were
really honorable and candid.

The states-general were not less embarrassed than the prince.
His sudden arrival threw them into great perplexity, which was
increased by the conciliatory tone of his letter. They had now
removed from Ghent to Brussels; and first sending deputies to
pay the honors of a ceremonious welcome to Don John, they wrote
to the Prince of Orange, then in Holland, for his advice in this
difficult conjuncture. The prince replied by a memorial of
considerable length, dated Middleburg, the 30th of November, in
which he gave them the most wise and prudent advice; the substance
of which was to receive any propositions coming from the wily
and perfidious Philip with the utmost suspicion, and to refuse
all negotiation with his deputy, if the immediate withdrawal of
the foreign troops was not at once conceded, and the acceptance
of the Pacification guaranteed in its most ample extent.

This advice was implicitly followed; the states in the meantime
taking the precaution of assembling a large body of troops at
Wavre, between Brussels and Namur, the command of which was given
to the count of Lalain. A still more important measure was the
despatch of an envoy to England, to implore the assistance of
Elizabeth. She acted on this occasion with frankness and intrepidity;
giving a distinguished reception to the envoy, De Sweveghem, and
advancing a loan of one hundred thousand pounds sterling, on
condition that the states made no treaty without her knowledge
or participation.

To secure still more closely the federal union that now bound the
different provinces, a new compact was concluded by the deputies
on the 9th of January, 1577, known by the title of The Union of
Brussels, and signed by the prelates, ecclesiastics, lords,
gentlemen, magistrates, and others, representing the estates of
the Netherlands. A copy of this act of union was transmitted to
Don John, to enable him thoroughly to understand the present state
of feeling among those with whom he was now about to negotiate.
He maintained a general tone of great moderation throughout the
conference which immediately took place; and after some months
of cautious parleying, in the latter part of which the candor
of the prince seemed doubtful, and which the native historians
do not hesitate to stigmatize as merely assumed, a treaty was
signed at Marche-en-Famenne, a place between Namur and Luxemburg,
in which every point insisted on by the states was, to the surprise
and delight of the nation, fully consented to and guaranteed.
This important document is called The Perpetual Edict, bears
date the 12th of February, 1577, and contains nineteen articles.
They were all based on the acceptance of the Pacification; but
one expressly stipulated that the count of Beuren should be set
at liberty as soon as the Prince of Orange, his father, had on
his part ratified the treaty.

Don John made his solemn entry into Brussels on the 1st of May,
and assumed the functions of his limited authority. The conditions
of the treaty were promptly and regularly fulfilled. The citadels
occupied by the Spanish soldiers were given up to the Flemish and
Walloon troops; and the departure of these ferocious foreigners
took place at once. The large sums required to facilitate this
measure made it necessary to submit for a while to the presence
of the German mercenaries. But Don John's conduct soon destroyed
the temporary delusion which had deceived the country. Whether
his projects were hitherto only concealed, or that they were
now for the first time excited by the disappointment of those
hopes of authority held out to him by Philip, and which his
predecessors had shared, it is certain that he very early displayed
his ambition, and very imprudently attempted to put it in force.
He at once demanded from the council of state the command of
the troops and the disposal of the revenues. The answer was a
simple reference to the Pacification of Ghent; and the prince's
rejoinder was an apparent submission, and the immediate despatch
of letters in cipher to the king, demanding a supply of troops
sufficient to restore his ruined authority. These letters were
intercepted by the king of Navarre, afterward Henry IV. of France,
who immediately transmitted them to the Prince of Orange, his
old friend and fellow-soldier.

Public opinion, to the suspicions of which Don John had been
from the first obnoxious, was now unanimous in attributing to
design all that was unconstitutional and unfair. His impetuous
character could no longer submit to the restraint of dissimulation,
and he resolved to take some bold and decided measure. A very
favorable opportunity was presented in the arrival of the queen
of Navarre, Marguerite of Valois, at Namur, on her way to Spa.
The prince, numerously attended, hastened to the former town
under pretence of paying his respects to the queen. As soon as
she left the place, he repaired to the glacis of the town, as if
for the mere enjoyment of a walk, admired the external appearance
of the citadel, and expressed a desire to be admitted inside.
The young count of Berlaimont, in the absence of his father,
the governor of the place, and an accomplice in the plot with
Don John, freely admitted him. The prince immediately drew forth
a pistol, and exclaimed that "that was the first moment of his
government"; took possession of the place with his immediate
guard, and instantly formed them into a devoted garrison.

The Prince of Orange immediately made public the intercepted
letters; and, at the solicitation of the states-general, repaired
to Brussels; into which city he made a truly triumphant entry on
the 23d of September, and was immediately nominated governor,
protector or _ruward_ of Brabant--a dignity which had fallen
into disuse, but was revived on this occasion, and which was
little inferior in power to that of the dictators of Rome. His
authority, now almost unlimited, extended over every province
of the Netherlands, except Namur and Luxemburg, both of which
acknowledged Don John.

The first care of the liberated nation was to demolish the various
citadels rendered celebrated and odious by the excesses of the
Spaniards. This was done with an enthusiastic industry in which
every age and sex bore a part, and which promised well for liberty.
Among the ruins of that of Antwerp the statue of the duke of
Alva was discovered; dragged through the filthiest streets of
the town; and, with all the indignity so well merited by the
original, it was finally broken into a thousand pieces.

The country, in conferring such extensive powers on the Prince
of Orange, had certainly gone too far, not for his desert, but
for its own tranquillity. It was impossible that such an elevation
should not excite the discontent and awaken the enmity of the
haughty aristocracy of Flanders and Brabant; and particularly
of the House of Croi, the ancient rivals of that of Nassau. The
then representative of that family seemed the person most suited
to counterbalance William's excessive power. The duke of Arschot
was therefore named governor of Flanders; and he immediately put
himself at the head of a confederacy of the Catholic party, which
quickly decided to offer the chief government of the country,
still in the name of Philip, to the archduke Mathias, brother of
the emperor Rodolf II., and cousin-german to Philip of Spain, a
youth but nineteen years of age. A Flemish gentleman named Maelsted
was intrusted with the proposal. Mathias joyously consented;
and, quitting Vienna with the greatest secrecy, he arrived at
Maestricht, without any previous announcement, and expected only
by the party that had invited him, at the end of October, 1577.

The Prince of Orange, instead of showing the least symptom of
dissatisfaction at this underhand proceeding aimed at his personal
authority, announced his perfect approval of the nomination, and
was the foremost in recommending measures for the honor of the
archduke and the security of the country. He drew up the basis of
a treaty for Mathias's acceptance, on terms which guaranteed to the
council of state and the states-general the virtual sovereignty,
and left to the young prince little beyond the fine title which
had dazzled his boyish vanity. The Prince of Orange was appointed
his lieutenant, in all the branches of the administration, civil,
military, or financial; and the duke of Arschot, who had hoped
to obtain an entire domination over the puppet he had brought
upon the stage, saw himself totally foiled in his project, and
left without a chance or a pretext for the least increase to
his influence.

But a still greater disappointment attended this ambitious nobleman
in the very stronghold of his power. The Flemings, driven by
persecution to a state of fury almost unnatural, had, in their
antipathy to Spain, adopted a hatred against Catholicism, which had
its source only in political frenzy, while the converts imagined it
to arise from reason and conviction. Two men had taken advantage
of this state of the public mind and gained over it an unbounded
ascendency. They were Francis de Kethulle, lord of Ryhove, and
John Hembyse, who each seemed formed to realize the beau-ideal
of a factious demagogue. They had acquired supreme power over
the people of Ghent, and had at their command a body of twenty
thousand resolute and well-armed supporters. The duke of Arschot
vainly attempted to oppose his authority to that of these men;
and he on one occasion imprudently exclaimed that "he would have
them hanged, even though they were protected by the Prince of
Orange himself." The same night Ryhove summoned the leaders of
his bands; and quickly assembling a considerable force, they
repaired to the duke's hotel, made him prisoner, and, without
allowing him time to dress, carried him away in triumph. At the
same time the bishops of Bruges and Ypres, the high bailiffs of
Ghent and Courtrai, the governor of Oudenarde, and other important
magistrates, were arrested--accused of complicity with the duke,
but of what particular offence the lawless demagogues did not
deign to specify. The two tribunes immediately divided the whole
honors and authority of administration; Ryhove as military, and
Hembyse as civil, chief.

The latter of these legislators completely changed the forms
of the government; he revived the ancient privileges destroyed
by Charles V., and took all preliminary measures for forcing the
various provinces to join with the city of Ghent in forming a
federative republic. The states-general and the Prince of Orange
were alarmed, lest these troubles might lead to a renewal of
the anarchy from the effects of which the country had but just
obtained breathing-time. Ryhove consented, at the remonstrance
of the Prince of Orange, to release the duke of Arschot; but
William was obliged to repair to Ghent in person, in the hope
of establishing order. He arrived on the 29th of December, and
entered on a strict inquiry with his usual calmness and decision.
He could not succeed in obtaining the liberty of the other prisoners,
though he pleaded for them strongly. Having severely reprimanded
the factious leaders, and pointed out the dangers of their illegal
course, he returned to Brussels, leaving the factious city in a
temporary tranquillity which his firmness and discretion could
alone have obtained.

The archduke Mathias, having visited Antwerp, and acceded to
all the conditions required of him, made his public entry into
Brussels on the 18th of January, 1578, and was installed in his
dignity of governor-general amid the usual fetes and rejoicings.
Don John of Austria was at the same time declared an enemy to
the country, with a public order to quit it without delay; and
a prohibition was issued against any inhabitant acknowledging
his forfeited authority.

War was now once more openly declared; some fruitless negotiations
having afforded a fair pretext for hostilities. The rapid appearance
of a numerous army under the orders of Don John gave strength to
the suspicions of his former dissimulation. It was currently
believed that large bodies of the Spanish troops had remained
concealed in the forests of Luxemburg and Lorraine; while several
regiments, which had remained in France in the service of the
League, immediately re-entered the Netherlands. Alexander Farnese,
prince of Parma, son of the former stadtholderess, came to the aid
of his uncle, Don John, at the head of a large force of Italians;
and these several reinforcements, with the German auxiliaries
still in the country, composed an army of twenty thousand men.
The army of the states-general was still larger; but far inferior
in point of discipline. It was commanded by Antoine de Goignies,
a gentleman of Hainault, and an old soldier of the school of
Charles V.

After a sharp affair at the village of Riminants, in which the
royalists had the worst, the two armies met at Gemblours, on the
31st of January, 1578; and the prince of Parma gained a complete
victory, almost with his cavalry only, taking De Goignies prisoner,
with the whole of his artillery and baggage. The account of his
victory is almost miraculous. The royalists, if we are to credit
their most minute but not impartial historian, had only one thousand
two hundred men engaged; by whom six thousand were put to the
sword, with the loss of but twelve men and little more than an
hour's labor.

The news of this battle threw the states into the utmost
consternation. Brussels being considered insecure, the archduke
Mathias and his council retired to Antwerp; but the victors did
not feel their forces sufficient to justify an attack upon the
capital. They, however, took Louvain, Tirlemont, and several other
towns; but these conquests were of little import in comparison with
the loss of Amsterdam, which declared openly and unanimously for
the patriot cause. The states-general recovered their courage, and
prepared for a new contest. They sent deputies to the diet of Worms,
to ask succor from the princes of the empire. The count palatine
John Casimir repaired to their assistance with a considerable
force of Germans and English, all equipped and paid by Queen
Elizabeth. The duke of Alençon, brother of Henry III. of France,
hovered on the frontiers of Hainault with a respectable army;
and the cause of liberty seemed not quite desperate.

But all the various chiefs had separate interests and opposite
views; while the fanatic violence of the people of Ghent sapped
the foundations of the pacification to which the town had given
its name. The Walloon provinces, deep-rooted in their attachment
to religious bigotry, which they loved still better than political
freedom, gradually withdrew from the common cause; and without yet
openly becoming reconciled with Spain, they adopted a neutrality
which was tantamount to it. Don John was, however, deprived of
all chance of reaping any advantage from these unfortunate
dissensions. He was suddenly taken ill in his camp at Bougy;
and died, after a fortnight's suffering, on the 1st of October,
1578, in the thirty-third year of his age.

This unlooked-for close to a career which had been so brilliant,
and to a life from which so much was yet to be expected, makes
us pause to consider for a moment the different opinions of his
times and of history on the fate of a personage so remarkable.
The contemporary Flemish memoirs say that he died of the plague;
those of Spain call his disorder the purple fever. The examination
of his corpse caused an almost general belief that he was poisoned.
"He lost his life," says one author, "with great suspicion of
poison." "Acabo su vida, con gran sospecho de veneno."--Herrera.
Another speaks of the suspicious state of his intestines, but
without any direct opinion. An English historian states the fact
of his being poisoned, without any reserve. Flemish writers do
not hesitate to attribute his murder to the jealousy of Philip
II., who, they assert, had discovered a secret treaty of marriage
about to be concluded between Don John and Elizabeth of England,
securing them the joint sovereignty of the Netherlands. An Italian
historian of credit asserts that this ambitious design was attributed
to the prince; and admits that his death was not considered as
having arisen from natural causes. "E quindi nacque l'opinione
dispersa allora, ch'egli mancasse di morte aiutata più tosto
che naturale."--Bentivoglio. It was also believed that Escovedo,
his confidential secretary, being immediately called back to
Spain, was secretly assassinated by Antonio Perez, Philip's
celebrated minister, and by the special orders of the king. Time
has, however, covered the affair with impenetrable mystery; and
the death of Don John was of little importance to the affairs
of the country he governed so briefly and so ingloriously, if
it be not that it added another motive to the natural hatred
for his assumed murderer.

The prince of Parma, who now succeeded, by virtue of Don John's
testament, to the post of governor-general in the name of the
king, remained intrenched in his camp. He expected much from
the disunion of his various opponents; and what he foresaw very
quickly happened. The duke of Alençon disbanded his troops and
retired to France; and the prince Palatine, following his example,
withdrew to Germany, having first made an unsuccessful attempt to
engage the queen of England as a principal in the confederacy. In
this perplexity, the Prince of Orange saw that the real hope for
safety was in uniting still more closely the northern provinces
of the union; for he discovered the fallacy of reckoning on the
cordial and persevering fidelity of the Walloons. He therefore
convoked a new assembly at Utrecht; and the deputies of Holland,
Guelders, Zealand, Utrecht, and Groningen, signed, on the 29th
of January, 1579, the famous act called the Union of Utrecht,
the real basis or fundamental pact of the republic of the United
Provinces. It makes no formal renunciation of allegiance to Spain,
but this is virtually done by the omission of the king's name.
The twenty-six articles of this act consolidate the indissoluble
connection of the United Provinces; each preserving its separate
franchises, and following its own good pleasure on the subject
of religion. The towns of Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges, and Ypres,
soon after acceded to and joined the union.

The prince of Parma now assumed the offensive, and marched against
Maestricht with his whole army. He took the place in the month
of June, 1579, after a gallant resistance, and delivered it to
sack and massacre for three entire days. About the same time
Mechlin and Bois-le-duc returned to their obedience to the king.
Hembyse having renewed his attempts against the public peace at
Ghent, the Prince of Orange repaired to that place, re-established
order, frightened the inveterate demagogue into secret flight,
and Flanders was once more restored to tranquillity.

An attempt was made this year at a reconciliation between the
king and the states. The emperor Rodolf II. and Pope Gregory XIII.
offered their mediation; and on the 5th of April a congress assembled
at Cologne, where a number of the most celebrated diplomatists in
Europe were collected. But it was early seen that no settlement
would result from the apparently reciprocal wish for peace. One
point--that of religion, the main, and indeed the only one in
debate--was now maintained by Philip's ambassador in the same
unchristian spirit as if torrents of blood and millions of treasure
had never been sacrificed in the cause. Philip was inflexible in
his resolution never to concede the exercise of the reformed
worship; and after nearly a year of fruitless consultation, and
the expenditure of immense sums of money, the congress separated
on the 17th of November, without having effected anything. There
were several other articles intended for discussion, had the
main one been adjusted, on which Philip was fully as determined
to make no concession; but his obstinacy was not put to these
new tests.

The time had now arrived for the execution of the great and decisive
step for independence, the means of effecting which had been so
long the object of exertion and calculation on the part of the
Prince of Orange. He now resolved to assemble the states of the
United Provinces, solemnly abjure the dominion of Spain, and depose
King Philip from the sovereignty he had so justly forfeited. Much
has been written both for and against this measure, which involved
every argument of natural rights and municipal privilege. The
natural rights of man may seem to comprise only those which he
enjoys in a state of nature; but he carries several of those
with him into society, which is based upon the very principle of
their preservation. The great precedent which so many subsequent
revolutions have acknowledged and confirmed is that which we now
record. The states-general assembled at Antwerp early in the
year 1580; and, in spite of all the opposition of the Catholic
deputies, the authority of Spain was revoked forever, and the
United Provinces declared a free and independent state. At the
same time was debated the important question as to whether the
protection of the new state should be offered to England or to
France. Opinions were divided on this point; but that of the Prince
of Orange being in favor of the latter country, from many motives
of sound policy, it was decided to offer the sovereignty to the
duke of Alençon. The archduke Mathias, who was present at the
deliberations, was treated with little ceremony; but he obtained
the promise of a pension when the finances were in a situation to
afford it. The definite proposal to be made to the duke of Alençon
was not agreed upon for some months afterward; and it was in the
month of August following that St. Aldegonde and other deputies
waited on the duke at the chateau of Plessis-le-Tours, when he
accepted the offered sovereignty on the proposed conditions,
which set narrow bounds to his authority, and gave ample security
to the United Provinces. The articles were formally signed on the
29th day of September; and the duke not only promised quickly
to lead a numerous army to the Netherlands, but he obtained a
letter from his brother, Henry III., dated December 26th, by
which the king pledged himself to give further aid, as soon as
he might succeed in quieting his own disturbed and unfortunate
country. The states-general, assembled at Delft, ratified the
treaty on the 30th of December; and the year which was about to
open seemed to promise the consolidation of freedom and internal



A.D. 1580--1584

Philip might be well excused the utmost violence of resentment on
this occasion, had it been bounded by fair and honorable efforts
for the maintenance of his authority. But every general principle
seemed lost in the base inveteracy of private hatred. The ruin
of the Prince of Orange was his main object, and his industry
and ingenuity were taxed to the utmost to procure his murder.
Existing documents prove that he first wished to accomplish this
in such a way as that the responsibility and odium of the act
might rest on the prince of Parma; but the mind of the prince
was at that period too magnanimous to allow of a participation
in the crime. The correspondence on the subject is preserved
in the archives, and the date of Philip's first letter (30th
of November, 1579) proves that even before the final disavowal
of his authority by the United Provinces he had harbored his
diabolical design. The prince remonstrated, but with no effect.
It even appears that Philip's anxiety would not admit of the
delay necessary for the prince's reply. The infamous edict of
proscription against William bears date the 15th of March; and
the most pressing letters commanded the prince of Parma to make
it public. It was not, however, till the 15th of June that he
sent forth the fatal ban.

This edict, under Philip's own signature, is a tissue of invective
and virulence. The illustrious object of its abuse is accused of
having engaged the heretics to profane the churches and break the
images; of having persecuted and massacred the Catholic priests; of
hypocrisy, tyranny, and perjury; and, as the height of atrocity,
of having introduced liberty of conscience into his country! For
these causes, and many others, the king declares him "proscribed
and banished as a public pest"; and it is permitted to all persons
to assail him "in his fortune, person, and life, as an enemy
to human nature." Philip also, "for the recompense of virtue
and the punishment of crime," promises to whoever will deliver
up William of Nassau, dead or alive, "in lands or money, at his
choice, the sum of twenty-five thousand golden crowns; to grant
a free pardon to such person for all former offences of what kind
soever, and to invest him with letters patent of nobility."

In reply to this brutal document of human depravity, William
published all over Europe his famous "Apology," of which it is
enough to say that language could not produce a more splendid
refutation of every charge or a more terrible recrimination against
the guilty tyrant. It was attributed to the pen of Peter de Villiers,
a Protestant minister. It is universally pronounced one of the
noblest monuments of history. William, from the hour of his
proscription, became at once the equal in worldly station, as
he had ever been the superior in moral worth, of his royal
calumniator. He took his place as a prince of an imperial family,
not less ancient or illustrious than that of the House of Austria;
and he stood forward at the supreme tribunal of public feeling
and opinion as the accuser of a king who disgraced his lineage
and his throne.

By a separate article in the treaty with the states, the duke
of Alençon secured to William the sovereignty of Holland and
Zealand, as well as the lordship of Friesland, with his title
of stadtholder, retaining to the duke his claim on the prince's
faith and homage. The exact nature of William's authority was
finally ratified on the 24th of July, 1581; on which day he took
the prescribed oath, and entered on the exercise of his well-earned

Philip now formed the design of sending back the duchess of Parma
to resume her former situation as stadtholderess, and exercise
the authority conjointly with her son. But the latter positively
declined this proposal of divided power; and he, consequently,
was left alone to its entire exercise. Military affairs made
but slow progress this year. The most remarkable event was the
capture of La Noue, a native of Bretagne, one of the bravest, and
certainly the cleverest, officers in the service of the states,
into which he had passed after having given important aid to
the Huguenots of France. He was considered so important a prize
that Philip refused all proposals for his exchange, and detained
him in the castle of Limburg for five years.

The siege of Cambray was now undertaken by the prince of Parma
in person; while the duke of Alençon, at the head of a large army
and the flower of the French nobility, advanced to its relief, and
soon forced his rival to raise the siege. The new sovereign of the
Netherlands entered the town, and was received with tumultuous joy
by the half-starved citizens and garrison. The prince of Parma sought
an equivalent for this check in the attack of Tournay, which he
immediately afterward invested. The town was but feebly garrisoned;
but the Protestant inhabitants prepared for a desperate defence,
under the exciting example of the princess of Epinoi, wife of the
governor, who was himself absent. This remarkable woman furnishes
another proof of the female heroism which abounded in these wars.
Though wounded in the arm, she fought in the breach sword in hand,
braving peril and death. And when at length it was impossible to
hold out longer, she obtained an honorable capitulation, and
marched out, on the 29th of November, on horseback, at the head
of the garrison, with an air of triumph rather than of defeat.

The duke of Alençon, now created duke of Anjou, by which title
we shall hereafter distinguish him, had repaired to England,
in hopes of completing his project of marriage with Elizabeth.
After three months of almost confident expectation, the virgin
queen, at this time fifty years of age, with a caprice not quite
justifiable, broke all her former engagements; and, happily for
herself and her country, declined the marriage. Anjou burst out
into all the violence of his turbulent temper, and set sail for
the Netherlands. Elizabeth made all the reparation in her power,
by the honors paid him on his dismissal. She accompanied him as
far as Canterbury, and sent him away under the convoy of the earl
of Leicester, her chief favorite; and with a brilliant suite and a
fleet of fifteen sail. Anjou was received at Antwerp with equal
distinction; and was inaugurated there on the 19th of February
as duke of Brabant, Lothier, Limburg, and Guelders, with many
other titles, of which he soon proved himself unworthy. When
the Prince of Orange, at the ceremony, placed the ducal mantle
on his shoulders, Anjou said to him, "Fasten it so well, prince,
that they cannot take it off again!"

During the rejoicings which followed this inauspicious ceremony,
Philip's proscription against the Prince of Orange put forth its
first fruits. The latter gave a grand dinner in the chateau of
Antwerp, which he occupied, on the 18th of March, the birthday
of the duke of Anjou; and, as he was quitting the dining-room,
on his way to his private chamber, a young man stepped forward
and offered a pretended petition, William being at all times of
easy access for such an object. While he read the paper, the
treacherous suppliant discharged a pistol at his head: the ball
struck him under the left ear, and passed out at the right cheek.
As he tottered and fell, the assassin drew a poniard to add suicide
to the crime, but he was instantly put to death by the attendant
guards. The young Count Maurice, William's second son, examined
the murderer's body; and the papers found on him, and subsequent
inquiries, told fully who and what he was. His name was John
Jaureguay, his age twenty-three years; he was a native of Biscay,
and clerk to a Spanish merchant of Antwerp, called Gaspar Anastro.
This man had instigated him to the crime; having received a promise
signed by King Philip, engaging to give him twenty-eight thousand
ducats and other advantages, if he would undertake to assassinate
the Prince of Orange. The inducements held out by Anastro to his
simple dupe, were backed strongly by the persuasions of Antony
Timmerman, a Dominican monk; and by Venero, Anastro's cashier, who
had from fear declined becoming himself the murderer. Jaureguay
had duly heard mass, and received the sacrament, before executing
his attempt; and in his pockets were found a catechism of the
Jesuits, with tablets filled with prayers in the Spanish language;
one in particular being addressed to the Angel Gabriel, imploring
his intercession with God and the Virgin, to aid him in the
consummation of his object. Other accompanying absurdities seem
to pronounce this miserable wretch to be as much an instrument
in the hands of others as the weapon of his crime was in his own.
Timmerman and Venero made a full avowal of their criminality, and
suffered death in the usual barbarous manner of the times. The
Jesuits, some years afterward, solemnly gathered the remains of
these three pretended martyrs, and exposed them as holy relics
for public veneration. Anastro effected his escape.

The alarm and indignation of the people of Antwerp knew no bounds.
Their suspicions at first fell on the duke of Anjou and the French
party; but the truth was soon discovered; and the rapid recovery
of the Prince of Orange from his desperate wound set everything
once more to rights. But a premature report of his death flew
rapidly abroad; and he had anticipated proofs of his importance
in the eyes of all Europe, in the frantic delight of the base,
and the deep affliction of the good. Within three months, William
was able to accompany the duke of Anjou in his visits to Ghent,
Bruges, and the other chief towns of Flanders; in each of which the
ceremony of inauguration was repeated. Several military exploits
now took place, and various towns fell into the hands of the
opposing parties; changing masters with a rapidity, as well as a
previous endurance of suffering, that must have carried confusion
and change on the contending principles of allegiance into the
hearts and heads of the harassed inhabitants.

The duke of Anjou, intemperate, inconstant, and unprincipled,
saw that his authority was but the shadow of power, compared to
the deep-fixed practices of despotism which governed the other
nations of Europe. The French officers, who formed his suite and
possessed all his confidence, had no difficulty in raising his
discontent into treason against the people with whom he had made
a solemn compact. The result of their councils was a deep-laid
plot against Flemish liberty; and its execution was ere-long
attempted. He sent secret orders to the governors of Dunkirk,
Bruges, Termonde, and other towns, to seize on and hold them
in his name; reserving for himself the infamy of the enterprise
against Antwerp. To prepare for its execution, he caused his
numerous army of French and Swiss to approach the city; and they
were encamped in the neighborhood, at a place called Borgerhout.

On the 17th of January, 1583, the duke dined somewhat earlier
than usual, under the pretext of proceeding afterward to review
his army in their camp. He set out at noon, accompanied by his
guard of two hundred horse; and when he reached the second
drawbridge, one of his officers gave the preconcerted signal
for an attack on the Flemish guard, by pretending that he had
fallen and broken his leg. The duke called out to his followers,
"Courage, courage! the town is ours!" The guard at the gate was
all soon despatched; and the French troops, which waited outside
to the number of three thousand, rushed quickly in, furiously
shouting the war-cry, "Town taken! town taken! kill! kill!" The
astonished but intrepid citizens, recovering from their confusion,
instantly flew to arms. All differences in religion or politics
were forgotten in the common danger to their freedom. Catholics
and Protestants, men and women, rushed alike to the conflict.
The ancient spirit of Flanders seemed to animate all. Workmen,
armed with the instruments of their various trades, started from
their shops and flung themselves upon the enemy. A baker sprang
from the cellar where he was kneading his dough, and with his
oven shovel struck a French dragoon to the ground. Those who
had firearms, after expending their bullets, took from their
pouches and pockets pieces of money, which they bent between
their teeth, and used for charging their arquebuses. The French
were driven successively from the streets and ramparts, and the
cannons planted on the latter were immediately turned against
the reinforcements which attempted to enter the town. The French
were everywhere beaten; the duke of Anjou saved himself by flight,
and reached Termonde, after the perilous necessity of passing
through a large tract of inundated country. His loss in this
base enterprise amounted to one thousand five hundred; while
that of the citizens did not exceed eighty men. The attempts
simultaneously made on the other towns succeeded at Dunkirk and
Termonde; but all the others failed.

The character of the Prince of Orange never appeared so thoroughly
great as at this crisis. With wisdom and magnanimity rarely equalled
and never surpassed, he threw himself and his authority between
the indignation of the country and the guilt of Anjou; saving the
former from excess, and the latter from execration. The disgraced
and discomfited duke proffered to the states excuses as mean as
they were hypocritical; and his brother, the king of France, sent
a special envoy to intercede for him. But it was the influence of
William that screened the culprit from public reprobation and
ruin, and regained for him the place and power which he might
easily have secured for himself, had he not prized the welfare
of his country far above all objects of private advantage. A new
treaty was negotiated, confirming Anjou in his former station,
with renewed security against any future treachery on his part. He
in the meantime retired to France, to let the public indignation
subside; but before he could assume sufficient confidence again to
face the country he had so basely injured his worthless existence
was suddenly terminated, some thought by poison--the common solution
of all such doubtful questions in those days--in the month of June
in the following year. He expired in his twenty-ninth year.

A disgusting proof of public ingratitude and want of judgment
was previously furnished by the conduct of the people of Antwerp
against him who had been so often their deliverer from such various
dangers. Unable to comprehend the greatness of his mind, they
openly accused the Prince of Orange of having joined with the
French for their subjugation, and of having concealed a body
of that detested nation in the citadel. The populace rushed to
the place, and having minutely examined it, were convinced of
their own absurdity and the prince's innocence. He scorned to
demand their punishment for such an outrageous calumny; but he was
not the less afflicted at it. He took the resolution of quitting
Flanders, as it turned out, forever; and he retired into Zealand,
where he was better known and consequently better trusted.

In the midst of the consequent confusion in the former of these
provinces, the prince of Parma, with indefatigable vigor, made
himself master of town after town; and turned his particular
attention to the creation of a naval force, which was greatly
favored by the possession of Dunkirk, Nieuport, and Gravelines.
Native treachery was not idle in this time of tumult and confusion.
The count of Renneberg, governor of Friesland and Groningen,
had set the basest example, and gone over to the Spaniards. The
prince of Chimay, son of the duke of Arschot, and governor of
Bruges, yielded to the persuasions of his father, and gave up
the place to the prince of Parma. Hembyse also, amply confirming
the bad opinion in which the Prince of Orange always held him,
returned to Ghent, where he regained a great portion of his former
influence, and immediately commenced a correspondence with the
prince of Parma, offering to deliver up both Ghent and Termonde.
An attempt was consequently made by the Spaniards to surprise
the former town; but the citizens were prepared for this, having
intercepted some of the letters of Hembyse; and the traitor was
seized, tried, condemned, and executed on the 4th of August, 1584.
He was upward of seventy years of age. Ryhove, his celebrated
colleague, died in Holland some years later.

But the fate of so insignificant a person as Hembyse passed almost
unnoticed, in the agitation caused by an event which shortly
preceded his death.

From the moment of their abandonment by the duke of Anjou, the
United Provinces considered themselves independent; and although
they consented to renew his authority over the country at large,
at the solicitation of the Prince of Orange, they were resolved
to confirm the influence of the latter over their particular
interests, which they were now sensible could acquire stability
only by that means. The death of Anjou left them without a sovereign;
and they did not hesitate in the choice which they were now called
upon to make. On whom, indeed, could they fix but William of
Nassau, without the utmost injustice to him, and the deepest
injury to themselves? To whom could they turn, in preference to
him who had given consistency to the early explosion of their
despair; to him who first gave the country political existence,
then nursed it into freedom, and now beheld it in the vigor and
prime of independence? He had seen the necessity, but certainly
overrated the value, of foreign support, to enable the new state
to cope with the tremendous tyranny from which it had broken.
He had tried successively Germany, England and France. From the
first and the last of these powers he had received two governors,
to whom he cheerfully resigned the title. The incapacity of both,
and the treachery of the latter, proved to the states that their
only chance for safety was in the consolidation of William's
authority; and they contemplated the noblest reward which a grateful
nation could bestow on a glorious liberator. And is it to be
believed that he who for twenty years had sacrificed his repose,
lavished his fortune, and risked his life, for the public cause,
now aimed at absolute dominion, or coveted a despotism which
all his actions prove him to have abhorred? Defeated bigotry
has put forward such vapid accusations. He has been also held
responsible for the early cruelties which, it is notorious, he
used every means to avert, and frequently punished. But while
these revolting acts can only be viewed in the light of reprisals
against the bloodiest persecution that ever existed, by exasperated
men driven to vengeance by a bad example, not one single act of
cruelty or bad faith has ever been made good against William,
who may be safely pronounced one of the wisest and best men that
history has held up as examples to the species.

The authority of one author has been produced to prove that,
during the lifetime of his brother Louis, offers were made to
him by France of the sovereignty of the northern provinces, on
condition of the southern being joined to the French crown. That
he ever accepted those offers is without proof; that he never
acted on them is certain. But he might have been justified in
purchasing freedom for those states which had so well earned
it, at the price even of a qualified independence under another
power, to the exclusion of those which had never heartily struggled
against Spain. The best evidence, however, of William's real views
is to be found in the Capitulation, as it is called; that is to
say, the act which was on the point of being executed between him
and the states, when a base fanatic, instigated by a bloody tyrant,
put a period to his splendid career. This capitulation exists at
full length, but was never formally executed. Its conditions
are founded on the same principles, and conceived in nearly the
same terms, as those accepted by the duke of Anjou; and the whole
compact is one of the most thoroughly liberal that history has
on record. The prince repaired to Delft for the ceremony of his
inauguration, the price of his long labors; but there, instead
of anticipated dignity, he met the sudden stroke of death.

On the 10th of July, as he left his dining-room, and while he
placed his foot on the first step of the great stair leading to
the upper apartments of his house, a man named Balthazar Gerard
(who, like the former assassin, waited for him at the moment of
convivial relaxation), discharged a pistol at his body. Three
balls entered it. He fell into the arms of an attendant, and
cried out faintly, in the French language, "God pity me! I am
sadly wounded--God have mercy on my soul, and on this unfortunate
nation!" His sister, the countess of Swartzenberg, who now hastened
to his side, asked him in German if he did not recommend his
soul to God? He answered, "Yes," in the same language, but with
a feeble voice. He was carried into the dining-room, where he
immediately expired. His sister closed his eyes; his wife, too,
was on the spot--Louisa, daughter of the illustrious Coligny,
and widow of the gallant count of Teligny, both of whom were also
murdered almost in her sight, in the frightful massacre of St.
Bartholomew. We may not enter on a description of the afflicting
scene which followed; but the mind is pleased in picturing the
bold solemnity with which Prince Maurice, then eighteen years
of age, swore--not vengeance or hatred against his father's
murderers--but that he would faithfully and religiously follow
the glorious example he had given him.

Whoever would really enjoy the spirit of historical details should
never omit an opportunity of seeing places rendered memorable by
associations connected with the deeds, and especially with the
death, of great men; the spot, for instance, where William was
assassinated at Delft; the old staircase he was just on the point
of ascending; the narrow pass between that and the dining-hall
whence he came out, of scarcely sufficient extent for the murderer
to held forth his arm and his pistol, two and a half feet long.
This weapon, and its fellow, are both preserved in the museum
of The Hague, together with two of the fatal bullets, and the
very clothes which the victim wore. The leathern doublet, pierced
by the balls and burned by the powder, lies beside the other
parts of the dress, the simple gravity of which, in fashion and
color, irresistibly brings the wise, great man before us, and
adds a hundred-fold to the interest excited by a recital of his

There is but one important feature in the character of William
which we have hitherto left untouched, but which the circumstances
of his death seemed to sanctify, and point out for record in the
same page with it. We mean his religious opinions; and we shall
despatch a subject which is, in regard to all men, so delicate,
indeed so sacred, in a few words. He was born a Lutheran. When
he arrived, a boy, at the court of Charles V., he was initiated
into the Catholic creed, in which he was thenceforward brought
up. Afterward, when he could think for himself and choose his
profession of faith, he embraced the doctrine of Calvin. His
whole public conduct seems to prove that he viewed sectarian
principles chiefly in the light of political instruments; and
that, himself a conscientious Christian, in the broad sense of
the term, he was deeply imbued with the spirit of universal
toleration, and considered the various shades of belief as
subservient to the one grand principle of civil and religious
liberty, for which he had long devoted and at length laid down
his life. His assassin was taken alive, and four days afterward
executed with terrible circumstances of cruelty, which he bore
as a martyr might have borne them. He was a native of Burgundy,
and had for some months lingered near his victim, and insinuated
himself into his confidence by a feigned attachment to liberty,
and an apparent zeal for the reformed faith. He was nevertheless
a bigoted Catholic and, by his own confession, he had communicated
his design to, and received encouragement to its execution from,
more than one minister of the sect to which he belonged. But his
avowal criminated a more important accomplice, and one whose
character stands so high in history that it behooves us to examine
thoroughly the truth of the accusation, and the nature of the
collateral proofs by which it is supported. Most writers on this
question have leaned to the side which all would wish to adopt,
for the honor of human nature and the integrity of a celebrated
name. But an original letter exists in the archives of Brussels,
from the prince of Parma himself to Philip of Spain, in which he
admits that Balthazar Gerard had communicated to him his intention
of murdering the Prince of Orange some months before the deed was
done; and he mixes phrases of compassion for "the poor man" (the
murderer) and of praise for the act; which, if the document be
really authentic, sinks Alexander of Parma as low as the wretch
with whom he sympathized.



A.D. 1584--1592

The death of William of Nassau not only closes the scene of his
individual career, but throws a deep gloom over the history of a
revolution that was sealed by so great a sacrifice. The animation
of the story seems suspended. Its events lose for a time their
excitement. The last act of the political drama is performed. The
great hero of the tragedy is no more. The other most memorable
actors have one by one passed away. A whole generation has fallen
in the contest; and it is with exhausted interest, and feelings
less intense, that we resume the details of war and blood, which
seem no longer sanctified by the grander movements of heroism.
The stirring impulse of slavery breaking its chains yields to
the colder inspiration of independence maintaining its rights.
The men we have now to depict were born free; and the deeds they
did were those of stern resolve rather than of frantic despair.
The present picture may be as instructive as the last, but it is
less thrilling. Passion gives place to reason; and that which
wore the air of fierce romance is superseded by what bears the
stamp of calm reality.

The consternation caused by the news of William's death soon
yielded to the firmness natural to a people inured to suffering
and calamity. The United Provinces rejected at once the overtures
made by the prince of Parma to induce them to obedience. They
seemed proud to show that their fate did not depend on that of
one man. He therefore turned his attention to the most effective
means of obtaining results by force which he found it impossible
to secure by persuasion. He proceeded vigorously to the reduction
of the chief towns of Flanders, the conquest of which would give
him possession of the entire province, no army now remaining
to oppose him in the field. He soon obliged Ypres and Termonde
to surrender; and Ghent, forced by famine, at length yielded on
reasonable terms. The most severe was the utter abolition of
the reformed religion; by which a large portion of the population
was driven to the alternative of exile; and they passed over
in crowds to Holland and Zealand, not half of the inhabitants
remaining behind. Mechlin, and finally Brussels, worn out by
a fruitless resistance, followed the example of the rest; and
thus, within a year after the death of William of Nassau, the
power of Spain was again established in the whole province of
Flanders, and the others which comprise what is in modern days
generally denominated Belgium.

But these domestic victories of the prince of Parma were barren
in any of those results which humanity would love to see in the
train of conquest. The reconciled provinces presented the most
deplorable spectacle. The chief towns were almost depopulated. The
inhabitants had in a great measure fallen victims to war, pestilence
and famine. Little inducement existed to replace by marriage the
ravages caused by death, for few men wished to propagate a race
which divine wrath seemed to have marked for persecution. The
thousands of villages which had covered the face of the country
were absolutely abandoned to the wolves, which had so rapidly
increased that they attacked not merely cattle and children,
but grown-up persons. The dogs, driven abroad by hunger, had
become as ferocious as other beasts of prey, and joined in large
packs to hunt down brutes and men. Neither fields, nor woods, nor
roads, were now to be distinguished by any visible limits. All
was an entangled mass of trees, weeds, and grass. The prices of
the necessaries of life were so high that people of rank, after
selling everything to buy bread, were obliged to have recourse
to open beggary in the streets of the great towns.

From this frightful picture, and the numerous details which
imagination may readily supply, we gladly turn to the contrast
afforded by the northern states. Those we have just described
have a feeble hold upon our sympathies; we cannot pronounce their
sufferings to be unmerited. The want of firmness or enlightenment,
which preferred such an existence to the risk of entire destruction,
only heightens the glory of the people whose unyielding energy
and courage gained them so proud a place among the independent
nations of Europe.

The murder of William seemed to carry to the United Provinces
conviction of the weakness as well as the atrocity of Spain;
and the indecent joy excited among the royalists added to their
courage. An immediate council was created, composed of eighteen
members, at the head of which was unanimously placed Prince Maurice
of Nassau (who even then gave striking indications of talent and
prudence); his elder brother, the count of Beuren, now Prince
of Orange, being still kept captive in Spain. Count Hohenloe
was appointed lieutenant-general; and several other measures
were promptly adopted to consolidate the power of the infant
republic. The whole of its forces amounted but to five thousand
five hundred men. The prince of Parma had eighty thousand at
his command. With such means of carrying on his conquests, he
sat down regularly before Antwerp, and commenced the operations
of one of the most celebrated among the many memorable sieges of
those times. He completely surrounded the city with troops; placing
a large portion of his army on the left bank of the Scheldt, the
other on the right; and causing to be attacked at the same time
the two strong forts of Liefkinshoek and Lillo. Repulsed on the
latter important point, his only hope of gaining the command of
the navigation of the river, on which the success of the siege
depended, was by throwing a bridge across the stream. Neither
its great rapidity, nor its immense width, nor the want of wood
and workmen, could deter him from this vast undertaking. He was
assisted, if not guided, in all his projects on the occasion, by
Barroccio, a celebrated Italian engineer sent to him by Philip;
and the merit of all that was done ought fairly to be, at least,
divided between the general and the engineer. If enterprise and
perseverance belonged to the first, science and skill were the
portion of the latter. They first caused two strong forts to
be erected at opposite sides of the river; and adding to their
resources by every possible means, they threw forward a pier
on each side of, and far into, the stream. The stakes, driven
firmly into the bed of the river and cemented with masses of
earth and stones, were at a proper height covered with planks
and defended by parapets. These estoccades, as they were called,
reduced the river to half its original breadth; and the cannon with
which they were mounted rendered the passage extremely dangerous
to hostile vessels. But to fill up this strait a considerable
number of boats were fastened together by chain-hooks and anchors;
and being manned and armed with cannon, they were moored in the
interval between the estoccades. During these operations, a canal
was cut between the Moer and Calloo; by which means a communication
was formed with Ghent, which insured a supply of ammunition and
provisions. The works of the bridge, which was two thousand four
hundred feet in length, were constructed with such strength and
solidity that they braved the winds, the floods, and the ice
of the whole winter.

The people of Antwerp at first laughed to scorn the whole of
these stupendous preparations; but when they found that the bridge
resisted the natural elements, by which they doubted not it would
have been destroyed, they began to tremble in the anticipation
of famine; yet they vigorously prepared for their defence, and
rejected the overtures made by the prince of Parma even at this
advanced stage of his proceedings. Ninety-seven pieces of cannon
now defended the bridge; besides which thirty large barges at
each side of the river guarded its extremities; and forty ships
of war formed a fleet of protection, constantly ready to meet any
attack from the besieged. They, seeing the Scheldt thus really
closed up, and all communication with Zealand impossible, felt
their whole safety to depend on the destruction of the bridge. The
states of Zealand now sent forward an expedition, which, joined
with some ships from Lillo, gave new courage to the besieged;
and everything was prepared for their great attempt. An Italian
engineer named Giambelli was at this time in Antwerp, and by
his talents had long protracted the defence. He has the chief
merit of being the inventor of those terrible fire-ships which
gained the title of "infernal machines"; and with some of these
formidable instruments and the Zealand fleet, the long-projected
attack was at length made.

Early on the night of the 4th of April, the prince of Parma and
his army were amazed by the spectacle of three huge masses of
flame floating down the river, accompanied by numerous lesser
appearances of a similar kind, and bearing directly against the
prodigious barrier, which had cost months of labor to him and
his troops, and immense sums of money to the state. The whole
surface of the Scheldt presented one sheet of fire; the country
all round was as visible as at noon; the flags, the arms of the
soldiers, and every object on the bridge, in the fleet, or the
forts, stood out clearly to view; and the pitchy darkness of
the sky gave increased effect to the marked distinctness of all.
Astonishment was soon succeeded by consternation, when one of the
three machines burst with a terrific noise before they reached
their intended mark, but time enough to offer a sample of their
nature. The prince of Parma, with numerous officers and soldiers
rushed to the bridge, to witness the effects of this explosion;
and just then a second and still larger fire-ship, having burst
through the flying bridge of boats, struck against one of the
estoccades. Alexander, unmindful of danger, used every exertion
of his authority to stimulate the sailors in their attempts to
clear away the monstrous machine which threatened destruction to
all within its reach. Happily for him, an ensign who was near,
forgetting in his general's peril all rules of discipline and
forms of ceremony, actually forced him from the estoccade. He had
not put his foot on the river bank when the machine blew up. The
effects were such as really baffle description. The bridge was burst
through; the estoccade was shattered almost to atoms, and, with all
that it supported--men, cannon, and the huge machinery employed
in the various works--dispersed in the air. The cruel marquis
of Roubais, many other officers, and eight hundred soldiers,
perished in all varieties of death--by flood, or flame, or the
horrid wounds from the missiles with which the terrible machine
was overcharged. Fragments of bodies and limbs were flung far
and wide; and many gallant soldiers were destroyed, without a
vestige of the human form being left to prove that they had ever
existed. The river, forced from its bed at either side, rushed
into the forts and drowned numbers of their garrisons; while
the ground far beyond shook as in an earthquake. The prince was
struck down by a beam, and lay for some time senseless, together
with two generals, Delvasto and Gajitani, both more seriously
wounded than he; and many of the soldiers were burned and mutilated
in the most frightful manner. Alexander soon recovered; and by
his presence of mind, humanity, and resolution, he endeavored
with incredible quickness to repair the mischief, and raised the
confidence of his army as high as ever. Had the Zealand fleet
come in time to the spot, the whole plan might have been crowned
with success; but by some want of concert, or accidental delay,
it did not appear; and consequently the beleaguered town received
no relief.

One last resource was left to the besieged; that which had formerly
been resorted to at Leyden, and by which the place was saved.
To enable them to inundate the immense plain which stretched
between Lillo and Strabrock up to the walls of Antwerp, it was
necessary to cut through the dike which defended it against the
irruptions of the eastern Scheldt. This plain was traversed by
a high and wide counter-dike, called the dike of Couvestien; and
Alexander, knowing its importance, had early taken possession
of and strongly defended it by several forts. Two attacks were
made by the garrison of Antwerp on this important construction;
the latter of which led to one of the most desperate encounters
of the war. The prince, seeing that on the results of this day
depended the whole consequences of his labors, fought with a
valor that even he had never before displayed, and he was finally
victorious. The confederates were forced to abandon the attack,
leaving three thousand dead upon the dike or at its base; and
the Spaniards lost full eight hundred men.

One more fruitless attempt was made to destroy the bridge and
raise the siege, by means of an enormous vessel bearing the
presumptuous title of The End of the War. But this floating citadel
ran aground, without producing any effect; and the gallant governor
of Antwerp, the celebrated Philip de Saint Aldegonde, was forced
to capitulate on the 16th of August, after a siege of fourteen
months. The reduction of Antwerp was considered a miracle of
perseverance and courage. The prince of Parma was elevated by
his success to the highest pinnacle of renown; and Philip, on
receiving the news, displayed a burst of joy such as rarely varied
his cold and gloomy reserve.

Even while the fate of Antwerp was undecided, the United Provinces,
seeing that they were still too weak to resist alone the undivided
force of the Spanish monarchy, had opened negotiations with France
and England at once, in the hope of gaining one or the other for
an ally and protector. Henry III. gave a most honorable reception
to the ambassadors sent to his court, and was evidently disposed
to accept their offers, had not the distracted state of his own
country, still torn by civil war, quite disabled him from any
effective co-operation. The deputies sent to England were also
well received. Elizabeth listened to the proposals of the states,
sent them an ambassador in return, and held out the most flattering
hopes of succor. But her cautious policy would not suffer her
to accept the sovereignty; and she declared that she would in
nowise interfere with the negotiations, which might end in its
being accepted by the king of France. She gave prompt evidence
of her sincerity by an advance of considerable sums of money,
and by sending to Holland a body of six thousand troops, under
the command of her favorite, Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester; and
as security for the repayment of her loan, the towns of Flushing
and Brille, and the castle of Rammekins, were given up to her.

The earl of Leicester was accompanied by a splendid retinue of
noblemen, and a select troop of five hundred followers. He was
received at Flushing by the governor, Sir Philip Sidney, his
nephew, the model of manners and conduct for the young men of
his day. But Leicester possessed neither courage nor capacity
equal to the trust reposed in him; and his arbitrary and indolent
conduct soon disgusted the people whom he was sent to assist.
They had, in the first impulse of their gratitude, given him
the title of governor and captain-general of the provinces, in
the hope of flattering Elizabeth. But this had a far contrary
effect: she was equally displeased with the states and with
Leicester; and it was with difficulty that, after many humble
submissions, they were able to appease her.

To form a counterpoise to the power so lavishly conferred on
Leicester, Prince Maurice was, according to the wise advice of
Olden Barnevelt, raised to the dignity of stadtholder,
captain-general, and admiral of Holland and Zealand. This is
the first instance of these states taking on themselves the
nomination to the dignity of stadtholder, for even William has
held his commission from Philip, or in his name; but Friesland,
Groningen, and Guelders had already appointed their local governors,
under the same title, by the authority of the states-general,
the archduke Mathias, or even of the provincial states. Holland
had now also at the head of its civil government a citizen full
of talent and probity, who was thus able to contend with the
insidious designs of Leicester against the liberty he nominally
came to protect. This was Barnevelt, who was promoted from his
office of pensionary of Rotterdam to that of Holland, and who
accepted the dignity only on condition of being free to resign
it if any accommodation of differences should take place with

Alexander of Parma had, by the death of his mother, in February,
1586, exchanged his title of prince for the superior one of duke
of Parma, and soon resumed his enterprises with his usual energy
and success; various operations took place, in which the English
on every opportunity distinguished themselves; particularly in
an action near the town of Grave, in Brabant; and in the taking
of Axel by escalade, under the orders of Sir Philip Sidney. A
more important affair occurred near Zutphen, at a place called
Warnsfeld, both of which towns have given names to the action. On
this occasion the veteran Spaniards, under the marquis of Guasto,
were warmly attacked and completely defeated by the English;
but the victory was dearly purchased by the death of Sir Philip
Sidney, who was mortally wounded in the thigh, and expired a
few days afterward, at the early age of thirty-two years. In
addition to the valor, talent, and conduct, which had united to
establish his fame, he displayed, on this last opportunity of
his short career, an instance of humanity that sheds a new lustre
on even a character like his. Stretched on the battlefield, in all
the agony of his wound, and parched with thirst, his afflicted
followers brought him some water, procured with difficulty at a
distance, and during the heat of the fight. But Sidney, seeing a
soldier lying near, mangled like himself, and apparently expiring,
refused the water, saying, "Give it to that poor man; his sufferings
are greater than mine."

Leicester's conduct was now become quite intolerable to the states.
His incapacity and presumption were every day more evident and
more revolting. He seemed to consider himself in a province wholly
reduced to English authority, and paid no sort of attention to the
very opposite character of the people. An eminent Dutch author
accounts for this, in terms which may make an Englishman of this age
not a little proud of the contrast which his character presents to
what it was then considered. "The Englishman," says Grotius, "obeys
like a slave, and governs like a tyrant; while the Belgian knows
how to serve and to command with equal moderation." The dislike
between Leicester and those he insulted and misgoverned soon became
mutual. He retired to the town of Utrecht; and pushed his injurious
conduct to such an extent that he became an object of utter hatred
to the provinces. All the friendly feelings toward England were
gradually changed into suspicion and dislike. Conferences took
place at The Hague between Leicester and the states, in which
Barnevelt overwhelmed his contemptible shuffling by the force of
irresistible eloquence and well-deserved reproaches; and after
new acts of treachery, still more odious than his former, this
unworthy favorite at last set out for England, to lay an account
of his government at the feet of the queen.

The growing hatred against England was fomented by the true patriots,
who aimed at the liberty of their country; and may be excused, from
the various instances of treachery displayed, not only by the
commander-in-chief, but by several of his inferiors in command. A
strong fort, near Zutphen, under the government of Roland York, the
town of Deventer, under that of William Starily, and subsequently
Guelders, under a Scotchman named Pallot, were delivered up to
the Spaniards by these men; and about the same time the English
cavalry committed some excesses in Guelders and Holland, which
added to the prevalent prejudice against the nation in general. This
enmity was no longer to be concealed. The partisans of Leicester
were, one by one, under plausible pretexts, removed from the
council of state; and Elizabeth having required from Holland
the exportation into England of a large quantity of rye, it was
firmly but respectfully refused, as inconsistent with the wants
of the provinces.

Prince Maurice, from the caprice and jealousy of Leicester, now
united in himself the whole power of command, and commenced that
brilliant course of conduct which consolidated the independence
of his country and elevated him to the first rank of military
glory. His early efforts were turned to the suppression of the
partiality which in some places existed for English domination;
and he never allowed himself to be deceived by the hopes of peace
held out by the emperor and the kings of Denmark and Poland. Without
refusing their mediation, he labored incessantly to organize
every possible means for maintaining the war. His efforts were
considerably favored by the measures of Philip for the support
of the league formed by the House of Guise against Henry III. and
Henry IV. of France; but still more by the formidable enterprise
which the Spanish monarch was now preparing against England.

Irritated and mortified by the assistance which Elizabeth had
given to the revolted provinces, Philip resolved to employ his
whole power in attempting the conquest of England itself; hoping
afterward to effect with ease the subjugation of the Netherlands.
He caused to be built, in almost every port of Spain and Portugal,
galleons, carricks, and other ships of war of the largest dimensions;
and at the same time gave orders to the duke of Parma to assemble
in the harbors of Flanders as many vessels as he could collect

The Spanish fleet, consisting of more than one hundred and forty
ships of the line, and manned by twenty thousand sailors, assembled
at Lisbon under the orders of the duke of Medina Sidonia; while
the duke of Parma, uniting his forces, held himself ready on the
coast of Flanders, with an army of thirty thousand men and four
hundred transports. This prodigious force obtained, in Spain,
the ostentatious title of the Invincible Armada. Its destination
was for a while attempted to be concealed, under pretext that
it was meant for India, or for the annihilation of the United
Provinces; but the mystery was soon discovered. At the end of
May, the principal fleet sailed from the port of Lisbon; and
being reinforced off Corunna by a considerable squadron, the
whole armament steered its course, for the shores of England.

The details of the progress and the failure of this celebrated
attempt are so thoroughly the province of English history that they
would be in this place superfluous. But it must not be forgotten
that the glory of the proud result was amply shared by the new
republic, whose existence depended on it. While Howard and Drake
held the British fleet in readiness to oppose the Spanish Armada,
that of Holland, consisting of but twenty-five ships, under the
command of Justin of Nassau, prepared to take a part in the conflict.
This gallant though illegitimate scion of the illustrious house,
whose name he upheld on many occasions, proved himself on the
present worthy of such a father as William, and such a brother as
Maurice. While the duke of Medina Sidonia, ascending the Channel
as far as Dunkirk, there expected the junction of the duke of
Parma with his important reinforcement, Justin of Nassau, by a
constant activity, and a display of intrepid talent, contrived
to block up the whole expected force in the ports of Flanders
from Lillo to Dunkirk. The duke of Parma found it impossible
to force a passage on any one point; and was doomed to the
mortification of knowing that the attempt was frustrated, and the
whole force of Spain frittered away, discomfited, and disgraced,
from the want of a co-operation, which he could not, however,
reproach himself for having withheld. The issue of the memorable
expedition, which cost Spain years of preparation, thousands
of men, and millions or treasure, was received in the country
which sent it forth with consternation and rage. Philip alone
possessed or affected an apathy which he covered with a veil
of mock devotion that few were deceived by. At the news of the
disaster, he fell on his knees, and rendering thanks for that
gracious dispensation of Providence, expressed his joy that the
calamity was not greater.

The people, the priests, and the commanders of the expedition
were not so easily appeased, or so clever as their hypocritical
master in concealing their mortification. The priests accounted
for this triumph of heresy as a punishment on Spain for suffering
the existence of the infidel Moors in some parts of the country.
The defeated admirals threw the whole blame on the duke of Parma.
He, on his part, sent an ample remonstrance to the king; and
Philip declared that he was satisfied with the conduct of his
nephew. Leicester died four days after the final defeat and
dispersion of the Armada.

The war in the Netherlands had been necessarily suffered to languish,
while every eye was fixed on the progress of the Armada, from
formation to defeat. But new efforts were soon made by the duke
of Parma to repair the time he had lost, and soothe, by his
successes, the disappointed pride of Spain. Several officers now
came into notice, remarkable for deeds of great gallantry and
skill. None among those was so distinguished as Martin Schenck,
a soldier of fortune, a man of ferocious activity, who began
his career in the service of tyranny, and ended it by chance
in that of independence. He changed sides several times, but,
no matter who he fought for, he did his duty well, from that
unconquerable principle of pugnacity which seemed to make his
sword a part of himself.

Schenck had lately, for the last time, gone over to the side
of the states, and had caused a fort to be built in the isle
of Betewe--that possessed of old by the Batavians--which was
called by his name, and was considered the key to the passage
of the Rhine. From this stronghold he constantly harassed the
archbishop of Cologne, and had as his latest exploit surprised and
taken the strong town of Bonn. While the duke of Parma took prompt
measures for the relief of the prelate, making himself master in
the meantime of some places of strength, the indefatigable Schenck
resolved to make an attempt on the important town of Nimeguen. He
with great caution embarked a chosen body of troops on the Wahal,
and arrived under the walls of Nimeguen at sunrise on the morning
chosen for the attack. His enterprise seemed almost crowned with
success; when the inhabitants, recovering from their fright,
precipitated themselves from the town; forced the assailants to
retreat to their boats; and, carrying the combat into those
overcharged and fragile vessels, upset several, and among others
that which contained Schenck himself, who, covered with wounds,
and fighting to the last gasp, was drowned with the greater part
of his followers. His body, when recovered, was treated with
the utmost indignity, quartered, and hung in portions over the
different gates of the city.

The following year was distinguished by another daring attempt on
the part of the Hollanders, but followed by a different result.
A captain named Haranguer concerted with one Adrien Vandenberg
a plan for the surprise of Breda, on the possession of which
Prince Maurice had set a great value. The associates contrived
to conceal in a boat laden with turf (which formed the principal
fuel of the inhabitants of that part of the country), and of
which Vandenberg was master, eighty determined soldiers, and
succeeded in arriving close to the city without any suspicion
being excited. One of the soldiers, named Matthew Helt, being
suddenly afflicted with a violent cough, implored his comrades
to put him to death, to avoid the risk of a discovery. But a
corporal of the city guard having inspected the cargo with
unsuspecting carelessness, the immolation of the brave soldier
became unnecessary, and the boat was dragged into the basin by
the assistance of some of the very garrison who were so soon to
fall victims to the stratagem. At midnight the concealed soldiers
quitted their hiding-places, leaped on shore, killed the sentinels,
and easily became masters of the citadel. Prince Maurice, following
close with his army, soon forced the town to submit, and put it
into so good a state of defence that Count Mansfield, who was
sent to retake it, was obliged to retreat after useless efforts
to fulfil his mission.

The duke of Parma, whose constitution was severely injured by
the constant fatigues of war and the anxieties attending on the
late transactions, had snatched a short interval for the purpose
of recruiting his health at the waters of Spa. While at that place
he received urgent orders from Philip to abandon for a while all
his proceedings in the Netherlands, and to hasten into France
with his whole disposable force, to assist the army of the League.
The battle of Yvri (in which the son of the unfortunate Count
Egmont met his death while fighting in the service of his father's
royal murderer) had raised the prospects and hopes of Henry IV.
to a high pitch; and Paris, which he closely besieged, was on
the point of yielding to his arms. The duke of Parma received his
uncle's orders with great repugnance; and lamented the necessity
of leaving the field of his former exploits open to the enterprise
and talents of Prince Maurice. He nevertheless obeyed; and leaving
Count Mansfield at the head of the government, he conducted his
troops against the royal opponent, who alone seemed fully worthy
of coping with him.

The attention of all Europe was now fixed on the exciting spectacle
of a contest between these two greatest captains of the age. The
glory of success, the fruit of consummate skill, was gained by
Alexander; who, by an admirable manoeuvre, got possession of
the town of Lagny-sur-Seine, under the very eyes of Henry and
his whole army, and thus acquired the means of providing Paris
with everything requisite for its defence. The French monarch saw
all his projects baffled, and his hopes frustrated; while his
antagonist, having fully completed his object, drew off his army
through Champagne, and made a fine retreat through an enemy's
country, harassed at every step, but with scarcely any loss.

But while this expedition added greatly to the renown of the
general, it considerably injured the cause of Spain in the Low
Countries. Prince Maurice, taking prompt advantage of the absence
of his great rival, had made himself master of several fortresses;
and some Spanish regiments having mutinied against the commanders
left behind by the duke of Parma, others, encouraged by the impunity
they enjoyed, were ready on the slightest pretext to follow their
example. Maurice did not lose a single opportunity of profiting by
circumstances so favorable; and even after the return of Alexander
he seized on Zutphen, Deventer, and Nimeguen, despite all the
efforts of the Spanish army. The duke of Parma, daily breaking
down under the progress of disease, and agitated by these reverses,
repaired again to Spa, taking at once every possible means for
the recruitment of his army and the recovery of his health, on
which its discipline and the chances of success now so evidently

But all his plans were again frustrated by a renewal of Philip's
peremptory orders to march once more into France, to uphold the
failing cause of the League against the intrepidity and talent
of Henry IV. At this juncture the emperor Rodolf again offered
his mediation between Spain and the United Provinces. But it
was not likely that the confederated States, at the very moment
when their cause began to triumph, and their commerce was every
day becoming more and more flourishing, would consent to make
any compromise with the tyranny they were at length in a fair
way of crushing.

The duke of Parma again appeared in France in the beginning of
the year 1592; and, having formed his communications with the
army of the League, marched to the relief of the city of Rouen,
at that period pressed to the last extremity by the Huguenot
forces. After some sharp skirmishes--and one in particular, in
which Henry IV. suffered his valor to lead him into a too rash
exposure of his own and his army's safety--a series of manoeuvres
took place, which displayed the talents of the rival generals in
the most brilliant aspect. Alexander at length succeeded in raising
the siege of Rouen, and made himself master of Condebec, which
commanded the navigation of the Seine. Henry, taking advantage
of what appeared an irreparable fault on the part of the duke,
invested his army in the hazardous position he had chosen; but
while believing that he had the whole of his enemies in his power,
he found that Alexander had passed the Seine with his entire
force--raising his military renown to the utmost possible height
by a retreat which it was deemed utterly impossible to effect.

On his return to the Netherlands, the duke found himself again
under the necessity of repairing to Spa, in search of some relief
from the suffering which was considerably increased by the effects
of a wound received in this last campaign. In spite of his shattered
constitution, he maintained to the latest moment the most active
endeavors for the reorganization of his army; and he was preparing
for a new expedition into France, when, fortunately for the good
cause in both countries, he was surprised by death on the 3d
of December, 1592, at the abbey of St. Vaast, near Arras, at
the age of forty-seven years. As it was hard to imagine that
Philip would suffer anyone who had excited his jealousy to die
a natural death, that of the duke of Parma was attributed to
slow poison.

Alexander of Parma was certainly one of the most remarkable, and,
it may be added, one of the greatest, characters of his day. Most
historians have upheld him even higher perhaps than he should
be placed on the scale; asserting that he can be reproached with
very few of the vices of the age in which he lived. Others consider
this judgment too favorable, and accuse him of participation
in all the crimes of Philip, whom he served so zealously. His
having excited the jealousy of the tyrant, or even had he been
put to death by his orders, would little influence the question;
for Philip was quite capable of ingratitude or murder, to either
an accomplice or an opponent of his baseness. But even allowing
that Alexander's fine qualities were sullied by his complicity
in these odious measures, we must still in justice admit that
they were too much in the spirit of the times, and particularly
of the school in which he was trained; and while we lament that
his political or private faults place him on so low a level, we
must rank him as one of the very first masters in the art of
war in his own or any other age.



A.D. 1592--1599

The duke of Parma had chosen the count of Mansfield for his
successor, and the nomination was approved by the king. He entered
on his government under most disheartening circumstances. The rapid
conquests of Prince Maurice in Brabant and Flanders were scarcely
less mortifying than the total disorganization into which those
two provinces had fallen. They were ravaged by bands of robbers
called Picaroons, whose audacity reached such a height that they
opposed in large bodies the forces sent for their suppression
by the government. They on one occasion killed the provost of
Flanders, and burned his lieutenant in a hollow tree; and on
another they mutilated a whole troop of the national militia,
and their commander, with circumstances of most revolting cruelty.

The authority of governor-general, though not the title, was now
fully shared by the count of Fuentes, who was sent to Brussels by
the king of Spain; and the ill effects of this double viceroyalty
was soon seen, in the brilliant progress of Prince Maurice, and
the continual reverses sustained by the royalist armies. The king,
still bent on projects of bigotry, sacrificed without scruple men
and treasure for the overthrow of Henry IV. and the success of
the League. The affairs of the Netherlands seemed now a secondary
object; and he drew largely on his forces in that country for
reinforcements to the ranks of his tottering allies. A final
blow was, however, struck against the hopes of intolerance in
France, and to the existence of the League, by the conversion
of Henry IV. to the Catholic religion; he deeming theological
disputes, which put the happiness of a whole kingdom in jeopardy,
as quite subordinate to the public good.

Such was the prosperity of the United Provinces, that they had
been enabled to send a large supply, both of money and men, to the
aid of Henry, their constant and generous ally. And notwithstanding
this, their armies and fleets, so far from suffering diminution,
were augmented day by day. Philip, resolved to summon up all
his energy for the revival of the war against the republic, now
appointed the archduke Ernest, brother of the emperor Rodolf,
to the post which the disunion of Mansfield and Fuentes rendered
as embarrassing as it had become inglorious. This prince, of
a gentle and conciliatory character, was received at Brussels
with great magnificence and general joy; his presence reviving
the deep-felt hopes of peace entertained by the suffering people.
Such were also the cordial wishes of the prince; but more than
one design, formed at this period against the life of Prince
Maurice, frustrated every expectation of the kind. A priest of
the province of Namur, named Michael Renichon, disguised as a
soldier, was the new instrument meant to strike another blow
at the greatness of the House of Nassau, in the person of its
gallant representative, Prince Maurice; as also in that of his
brother, Frederic Henry, then ten years of age. On the confession
of the intended assassin, he was employed by Count Berlaimont to
murder the two princes. Renichon happily mismanaged the affair,
and betrayed his intention. He was arrested at Breda, conducted
to The Hague, and there tried and executed on the 3d of June,
1594. This miserable wretch accused the archduke Ernest of having
countenanced his attempt; but nothing whatever tends to criminate,
while every probability acquits, that prince of such a participation.

In this same year a soldier named Peter Dufour embarked in a
like atrocious plot. He, too, was seized and executed before
he could carry it into effect; and to his dying hour persisted
in accusing the archduke of being his instigator. But neither
the judges who tried, nor the best historians who record, his
intended crime, gave any belief to this accusation. The mild and
honorable disposition of the prince held a sufficient guarantee
against its likelihood; and it is not less pleasing to be able
fully to join in the prevalent opinion, than to mark a spirit
of candor and impartiality break forth through the mass of bad
and violent passions which crowd the records of that age.

But all the esteem inspired by the personal character of Ernest
could not overcome the repugnance of the United Provinces to
trust to the apparent sincerity of the tyrant in whose name he
made his overtures for peace. They were all respectfully and
firmly rejected; and Prince Maurice, in the meantime, with his
usual activity, passed the Meuse and the Rhine, and invested
and quickly took the town of Groningen, by which he consummated
the establishment of the republic, and secured its rank among
the principal powers of Europe.

The archduke Ernest, finding all his efforts for peace frustrated,
and all hopes of gaining his object by hostility to be vain, became
a prey to disappointment and regret, and died, from the effects
of a slow fever, on the 21st of February, 1595; leaving to the
count of Fuentes the honors and anxieties of the government,
subject to the ratification of the king. This nobleman began
the exercise of his temporary functions by an irruption into
France, at the head of a small army; war having been declared
against Spain by Henry IV., who, on his side, had despatched the
Admiral de Villars to attack Philip's possessions in Hainault
and Artois. This gallant officer lost a battle and his life in
the contest; and Fuentes, encouraged by the victory, took some
frontier towns, and laid siege to Cambray, the great object of
his plans. The citizens, who detested their governor, the marquis
of Bologni, who had for some time assumed an independent tyranny
over them, gave up the place to the besiegers; and the citadel
surrendered some days later. After this exploit Fuentes returned
to Brussels, where, notwithstanding his success, he was extremely
unpopular. He had placed a part of his forces under the command
of Mondragon, one of the oldest and cleverest officers in the
service of Spain. Some trifling affairs took place in Brabant; but
the arrival of the archduke Albert, whom the king had appointed
to succeed his brother Ernest in the office of governor-general,
deprived Fuentes of any further opportunity of signalizing his
talents for supreme command. Albert arrived at Brussels on the
11th of February, 1596, accompanied by the Prince of Orange, who,
when count of Beuren, had been carried off from the university
of Louvain, twenty-eight years previously, and held captive in
Spain during the whole of that period.

The archduke Albert, fifth son of the emperor Maximilian II., and
brother of Rodolf, stood high in the opinion of Philip, his uncle,
and merited his reputation for talents, bravery, and prudence. He
had been early made archbishop of Toledo, and afterward cardinal;
but his profession was not that of these nominal dignities. He was
a warrior and politician of considerable capacity; and had for
some years faithfully served the king, as viceroy of Portugal. But
Philip meant him for the more independent situation of sovereign
of the Netherlands, and at the same time destined him to be the
husband of his daughter Isabella. He now sent him, in the capacity
of governor-general, to prepare the way for the important change;
at once to gain the good graces of the people, and soothe, by
this removal from Philip's too close neighborhood, the jealousy
of his son, the hereditary prince of Spain. Albert brought with
him to Brussels a small reinforcement for the army, with a large
supply of money, more wanting at this conjuncture than men. He
highly praised the conduct of Fuentes in the operations just
finished; and resolved to continue the war on the same plan, but
with forces much superior.

He opened his first campaign early; and, by a display of clever
manoeuvring, which threatened an attempt to force the French to
raise the siege of La Fere, in the heart of Picardy, he concealed
his real design--the capture of Calais; and he succeeded in its
completion almost before it was suspected. The Spanish and Walloon
troops, led on by Rone, a distinguished officer, carried the
first defences: after nine days of siege the place was forced to
surrender; and in a few more the citadel followed the example.
The archduke soon after took the towns of Ardres and Hulst; and by
prudently avoiding a battle, to which he was constantly provoked by
Henry IV., who commanded the French army in person, he established
his character for military talent of no ordinary degree.

He at the same time made overtures of reconciliation to the United
Provinces, and hoped that the return of the Prince of Orange
would be a means of effecting so desirable a purpose. But the
Dutch were not to be deceived by the apparent sincerity of Spanish
negotiation. They even doubted the sentiments of the Prince of
Orange, whose attachments and principles bad been formed in so
hated a school; and nothing passed between them and him but mutual
civilities. They clearly evinced their disapprobation of his
intended visit to Holland; and he consequently fixed his residence
in Brussels, passing his life in an inglorious neutrality.

A naval expedition formed in this year by the English and Dutch
against Cadiz, commanded by the earl of Essex, and Counts Louis
and William of Nassau, cousins of Prince Maurice, was crowned
with brilliant success, and somewhat consoled the provinces for
the contemporary exploits of the archduke. But the following
year opened with an affair which at once proved his unceasing
activity, and added largely to the reputation of his rival, Prince
Maurice. The former had detached the count of Varas, with about
six thousand men, for the purpose of invading the province of
Holland; but Maurice, with equal energy and superior talent,
followed big movements, came up with him near Turnhout, on the
24th of January, 1597; and after a sharp action, of which the
Dutch cavalry bore the whole brunt, Varas was killed, and his
troops defeated with considerable loss.

This action may be taken as a fair sample of the difficulty with
which any estimate can be formed of the relative losses on such
occasions. The Dutch historians state the loss of the royalists,
in killed, at upward of two thousand. Meteren, a good authority,
says the peasants buried two thousand two hundred and fifty;
while Bentivoglio, an Italian writer in the interest of Spain,
makes the number exactly half that amount. Grotius says that
the loss of the Dutch was four men killed. Bentivoglio states
it at one hundred. But, at either computation, it is clear that
the affair was a brilliant one on the part of Prince Maurice.

This was in its consequences a most disastrous affair to the
archduke. His army was disorganized, and his finances exhausted;
while the confidence of the states in their troops and their
general was considerably raised. But the taking of Amiens by
Portocarrero, one of the most enterprising of the Spanish captains,
gave a new turn to the failing fortunes of Albert. This gallant
officer, whose greatness of mind, according to some historians,
was much disproportioned to the smallness of his person, gained
possession of that important town by a well-conducted stratagem,
and maintained his conquest valiantly till he was killed in its
defence. Henry IV. made prodigious efforts to recover the place,
the chief bulwark on that side of France; and having forced
Montenegro, the worthy successor of Portocarrero, to capitulate,
granted him and his garrison most honorable conditions. Henry,
having secured Amiens against any new attack, returned to Paris
and made a triumphal entry into the city.

During this year Prince Maurice took a number of towns in rapid
succession; and the states, according to their custom, caused
various medals, in gold, silver, and copper, to be struck, to
commemorate the victories which had signalized their arms.

Philip II., feeling himself approaching the termination of his
long and agitating career, now wholly occupied himself in
negotiations for peace with France. Henry IV. desired it as
anxiously. The pope, Clement VIII., encouraged by his exhortations
this mutual inclination. The king of Poland sent ambassadors to
The Hague and to London, to induce the states and Queen Elizabeth
to become parties in a general pacification. These overtures
led to no conclusion; but the conferences between France and
Spain went on with apparent cordiality and great promptitude,
and a peace was concluded between these powers at Vervins, on
the 2d of May, 1598.

Shortly after the publication of this treaty, another important
act was made known to the world, by which Philip ceded to Albert
and Isabella, on their being formally affianced--a ceremony which
now took place--the sovereignty of Burgundy and the Netherlands.
This act bears date the 6th of May, and was proclaimed with all
the solemnity due to so important a transaction. It contained
thirteen articles; and was based on the misfortunes which the
absence of the sovereign had hitherto caused to the Low Countries.
The Catholic religion was declared that of the state, in its full
integrity. The provinces were guaranteed against dismemberment.
The archdukes, by which title the joint sovereigns were designated
without any distinction of sex, were secured in the possession,
with right of succession to their children; and a provision was
added, that in default of posterity their possessions should
revert to the Spanish crown. The infanta Isabella soon sent her
procuration to the archduke, her affianced husband, giving him
full power and authority to take possession of the ceded dominions
in her name as in his own; and Albert was inaugurated with great
pomp at Brussels, on the 22d of August. Having put everything in
order for the regulation of the government during his absence, he
set out for Spain for the purpose of accomplishing his spousals,
and bringing back his bride to the chief seat of their joint power.
But before his departure he wrote to the various states of the
republic, and to Prince Maurice himself, strongly recommending
submission and reconciliation. These letters received no answer;
a new plot against the life of Prince Maurice, by a wretched
individual named Peter Pann, having aroused the indignation of
the country, and determined it to treat with suspicion and contempt
every insidious proposition from the tyranny it defied.

Albert placed his uncle, the cardinal Andrew of Austria, at the
head of the temporary government, and set out on his journey;
taking the little town of Halle in his route, and placing at
the altar of the Virgin, who is there held in particular honor,
his cardinal's hat as a token of his veneration. He had not made
much progress when he received accounts of the demise of Philip
II., who died, after long suffering, and with great resignation,
on the 13th of September, 1598, at the age of seventy-two. Albert
was several months on his journey through Germany; and the
ceremonials of his union with the infanta did not take place
till the 18th of April, 1599, when it was finally solemnized in
the city of Valencia in Spain.

This transaction, by which the Netherlands were positively erected
into a separate sovereignty, seems naturally to make the limits
of another epoch in their history. It completely decided the
division between the northern and southern provinces, which,
although it had virtually taken place long previous to this period,
could scarcely be considered as formally consummated until now.
Here then we shall pause anew, and take a rapid review of the
social state of the Netherlands during the last half century,
which was beyond all doubt the most important period of their
history, from the earliest times till the present.

It has been seen that when Charles V. resigned his throne and
the possession of his vast dominions to his son, arts, commerce,
and manufactures had risen to a state of considerable perfection
throughout the Netherlands. The revolution, of which we have traced
the rise and progress, naturally produced to those provinces
which relapsed into slavery a most lamentable change in every
branch of industry, and struck a blow at the general prosperity,
the effects of which are felt to this very day. Arts, science,
and literature were sure to be checked and withered in the blaze
of civil war; and we have now to mark the retrograde movements
of most of those charms and advantages of civilized life, in
which Flanders and the other southern states were so rich.

The rapid spread of enlightenment on religious subjects soon
converted the manufactories and workshops of Flanders into so
many conventicles of reform; and the clear-sighted artisans fled
in thousands from the tyranny of Alva into England, Germany, and
Holland--those happier countries, where the government adopted and
went hand in hand with the progress of rational belief. Commerce
followed the fate of manufactures. The foreign merchants one
by one abandoned the theatre of bigotry and persecution; and
even Antwerp, which had succeeded Bruges as the great mart of
European traffic, was ruined by the horrible excesses of the
Spanish soldiery, and never recovered from the shock. Its trade,
its wealth, and its prosperity, were gradually transferred to
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and the towns of Holland and Zealand; and
the growth of Dutch commerce attained its proud maturity in the
establishment of the India Company in 1596, the effects of which
we shall have hereafter more particularly to dwell on.

The exciting and romantic enterprises of the Portuguese and Spanish
navigators in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries roused all
the ardor of other nations for those distant adventures; and the
people of the Netherlands were early influenced by the general
spirit of Europe. If they were not the discoverers of new worlds,
they were certainly the first to make the name of European respected
and venerated by the natives.

Animated by the ardor which springs from the spirit of freedom
and the enthusiasm of success, the United Provinces labored for
the discovery of new outlets for their commerce and navigation.
The government encouraged the speculations of individuals, which
promised fresh and fertile sources of revenue, so necessary for
the maintenance of the war. Until the year 1581 the merchants of
Holland and Zealand were satisfied to find the productions of
India at Lisbon, which was the mart of that branch of trade ever
since the Portuguese discovered the passage by the Cape of Good
Hope. But Philip II., having conquered Portugal, excluded the United
Provinces from the ports of that country; and their enterprising
mariners were from that period driven to those efforts which
rapidly led to private fortune and general prosperity. The English
had opened the way in this career; and the states-general having
offered a large reward for the discovery of a northwest passage,
frequent and most adventurous voyages took place. Houtman, Le
Maire, Heemskirk, Ryp, and others, became celebrated for their
enterprise, and some for their perilous and interesting adventures.

The United Provinces were soon without any rival on the seas.
In Europe alone they had one thousand two hundred merchant ships
in activity, and upward of seventy thousand sailors constantly
employed. They built annually two thousand vessels. In the year
1598, eighty ships sailed from their ports for the Indies or
America. They carried on, besides, an extensive trade on the coast
of Guinea, whence they brought large quantities of gold-dust;
and found, in short, in all quarters of the globe the reward of
their skill, industry, and courage.

The spirit of conquest soon became grafted on the habits of trade.
Expedition succeeded to expedition. Failure taught wisdom to
those who did not want bravery. The random efforts of individuals
were succeeded by organized plans, under associations well
constituted and wealthy; and these soon gave birth to those eastern
and western companies before alluded to. The disputes between
the English and the Hanseatic towns were carefully observed by
the Dutch, and turned to their own advantage. The English
manufacturers, who quickly began to flourish, from the influx
of Flemish workmen under the encouragement of Elizabeth, formed
companies in the Netherlands, and sent their cloths into those
very towns of Germany which formerly possessed the exclusive
privilege of their manufacture. These towns naturally felt
dissatisfied, and their complaints were encouraged by the king
of Spain. The English adventurers received orders to quit the
empire; and, invited by the states-general, many of them fixed
their residence in Middleburg, which became the most celebrated
woollen market in Europe.

The establishment of the Jews in the towns of the republic forms
a remarkable epoch in the annals of trade. This people, so outraged
by the loathsome bigotry which Christians have not blushed to
call religion, so far from being depressed by the general
persecution, seemed to find it a fresh stimulus to the exertion
of their industry. To escape death in Spain and Portugal they
took refuge in Holland, where toleration encouraged and just
principles of state maintained them. They were at first taken
for Catholics, and subjected to suspicion; but when their real
faith was understood they were no longer molested.

Astronomy and geography, two sciences so closely allied with and
so essential to navigation, flourished now throughout Europe.
Ortilius of Antwerp, and Gerard Mercator of Rupelmonde, were two
of the greatest geographers of the sixteenth century; and the
reform in the calendar at the end of that period gave stability
to the calculations of time, which had previously suffered all
the inconvenient fluctuations attendant on the old style.

Literature had assumed during the revolution in the Netherlands
the almost exclusive and repulsive aspect of controversial learning.
The university of Douay, installed in 1562 as a new screen against
the piercing light of reform, quickly became the stronghold of
intolerance. That of Leyden, established by the efforts of the
Prince of Orange, soon after the famous siege of that town in
1574, was on a less exclusive plan--its professors being in the
first instance drawn from Germany. Many Flemish historians succeeded
in this century to the ancient and uncultivated chroniclers of
preceding times; the civil wars drawing forth many writers, who
recorded what they witnessed, but often in a spirit of partisanship
and want of candor, which seriously embarrasses him who desires
to learn the truth on both sides of an important question. Poetry
declined and drooped in the times of tumult and suffering; and the
chambers of rhetoric, to which its cultivation had been chiefly
due, gradually lost their influence, and finally ceased to exist.

In fixing our attention on the republic of the United Provinces
during the epoch now completed, we feel the desire, and lament the
impossibility, of entering on the details of government in that most
remarkable state. For these we must refer to what appears to us the
best authority for clear and ample information on the prerogative
of the stadtholder, the constitution of the states-general, the
privileges of the tribunals and local assemblies, and other points
of moment concerning the principles of the Belgic confederation.[4]

[Footnote 4: See Cerisier, Hist. Gen. des Prov. Unies.]



A.D. 1599--1604

Previous to his departure for Spain, the archduke Albert had
placed the government of the provinces which acknowledged his
domination in the hands of his uncle, the cardinal Andrew of
Austria, leaving in command of the army Francisco Mendoza, admiral
of Aragon. The troops at his disposal amounted to twenty-two
thousand fighting men--a formidable force, and enough to justify
the serious apprehensions of the republic. Albert, whose finances
were exhausted by payments made to the numerous Spanish and Italian
mutineers, had left orders with Mendoza to secure some place on
the Rhine, which might open a passage for free quarters in the
enemy's country. But this unprincipled officer forced his way
into the neutral districts of Cleves and Westphalia; and with a
body of executioners ready to hang up all who might resist, and
of priests to prepare them for death, he carried such terror on
his march that no opposition was ventured. The atrocious cruelties
of Mendoza and his troops baffle all description: on one occasion
they murdered, in cold blood, the count of Walkenstein, who
surrendered his castle on the express condition of his freedom;
and they committed every possible excess that may be imagined
of ferocious soldiery encouraged by a base commander.

Prince Maurice soon put into motion, to oppose this army of brigands,
his small disposable force of about seven thousand men. With these,
however, and a succession of masterly manoeuvres, he contrived to
preserve the republic from invasion, and to paralyze and almost
destroy an army three times superior in numbers to his own. The
horrors committed by the Spaniards, in the midst of peace, and
without the slightest provocation, could not fail to excite the
utmost indignation in a nation so fond of liberty and so proud
as Germany. The duchy of Cleves felt particularly aggrieved; and
Sybilla, the sister of the duke, a real heroine in a glorious
cause, so worked on the excited passions of the people by her
eloquence and her tears that she persuaded all the orders of
the state to unite against the odious enemy. Some troops were
suddenly raised; and a league was formed between several princes
of the empire to revenge the common cause. The count de la Lippe
was chosen general of their united forces; and the choice could
not have fallen on one more certainly incapable or more probably

The German army, with their usual want of activity, did not open
the campaign till the month of June. It consisted of fourteen
thousand men; and never was an army so badly conducted. Without
money, artillery, provisions, or discipline, it was at any moment
ready to break up and abandon its incompetent general; and on
the very first encounter with the enemy, and after a loss of
a couple of hundred men, it became self-disbanded; and, flying
in every direction, not a single man could be rallied to clear
away this disgrace.

The states-general, cruelly disappointed at this result of measures
from which they had looked for so important a diversion in their
favor, now resolved on a vigorous exertion of their own energies,
and determined to undertake a naval expedition of a magnitude
greater than any they had hitherto attempted. The force of public
opinion was at this period more powerful than it had ever yet been
in the United Provinces; for a great number of the inhabitants,
who, during the life of Philip II., conscientiously believed that
they could not lawfully abjure the authority once recognized and
sworn to, became now liberated from those respectable, although
absurd, scruples; and the death of one unfeeling despot gave
thousands of new citizens to the state.

A fleet of seventy-three vessels, carrying eight thousand men,
was soon equipped, under the order of Admiral Vander Goes; and,
after a series of attempts on the coasts of Spain, Portugal,
Africa, and the Canary Isles, this expedition, from which the
most splendid results were expected, was shattered, dispersed,
and reduced to nothing by a succession of unheard-of mishaps.

To these disappointments were now added domestic dissensions in
the republic, in consequence of the new taxes absolutely necessary
for the exigencies of the state. The conduct of Queen Elizabeth
greatly added to the general embarrassment: she called for the
payment of her former loans; insisted on the recall of the English
troops, and declared her resolution to make peace with Spain.
Several German princes promised aid in men and money, but never
furnished either; and in this most critical juncture, Henry IV.
was the only foreign sovereign who did not abandon the republic.
He sent them one thousand Swiss troops, whom he had in his pay;
allowed them to levy three thousand more in France; and gave
them a loan of two hundred thousand crowns--a very convenient
supply in their exhausted state.

The archdukes Albert and Isabella arrived in the Netherlands in
September, and made their entrance into Brussels with unexampled
magnificence. They soon found themselves in a situation quite as
critical as was that of the United Provinces, and both parties
displayed immense energy to remedy their mutual embarrassments.
The winter was extremely rigorous; so much so as to allow of
military operations being undertaken on the ice. Prince Maurice soon
commenced a Christmas campaign by taking the town of Wachtendenck;
and he followed up his success by obtaining possession of the
important forts of Crevecoeur and St. Andrew, in the island of
Bommel. A most dangerous mutiny at the same time broke out in
the army of the archdukes; and Albert seemed left without troops
or money at the very beginning of his sovereignty.

But these successes of Prince Maurice were only the prelude to
an expedition of infinitely more moment, arranged with the utmost
secrecy, and executed with an energy scarcely to be looked for from
the situation of the states. This was nothing less than an invasion
poured into the very heart of Flanders, thus putting the archdukes
on the defence of their own most vital possessions, and changing
completely the whole character of the war. The whole disposable
troops of the republic, amounting to about seventeen thousand
men, were secretly assembled in the island of Walcheren, in the
month of June; and setting sail for Flanders, they disembarked
near Ghent, and arrived on the 20th of that month under the walls
of Bruges. Some previous negotiations with that town had led
the prince to expect that it would have opened its gates at his
approach. In this he was, however, disappointed; and after taking
possession of some forts in the neighborhood, he continued his
march to Nieuport, which place he invested on the 1st of July.

At the news of this invasion the archdukes, though taken by surprise,
displayed a promptness and decision that proved them worthy of
the sovereignty which seemed at stake. With incredible activity
they mustered, in a few days, an army of twelve thousand men,
which they passed in review near Ghent. On this occasion Isabella,
proving her title to a place among those heroic women with whom
the age abounded, rode through the royalist ranks, and harangued
them in a style of inspiring eloquence that inflamed their courage
and secured their fidelity. Albert, seizing the moment of this
excitement, put himself at their head, and marched to seek the
enemy, leaving his intrepid wife at Bruges, the nearest town to
the scene of the action he was resolved on. He gained possession
of all the forts taken and garrisoned by Maurice a few days before;
and pushing forward with his apparently irresistible troops, he
came up on the morning of the 2d of July with a large body of
those of the states, consisting of about three thousand men, sent
forward under the command of Count Ernest of Nassau to reconnoitre
and judge of the extent of this most unexpected movement: for
Prince Maurice was, in his turn, completely surprised; and not
merely by one of those manoeuvres of war by which the best generals
are sometimes deceived, but by an exertion of political vigor and
capacity of which history offers few more striking examples. Such
a circumstance, however, served only to draw forth a fresh display
of those uncommon talents which in so many various accidents of
war had placed Maurice on the highest rank for military talent.
The detachment under Count Ernest of Nassau was chiefly composed
of Scottish infantry; and this small force stood firmly opposed
to the impetuous attack of the whole royalist army--thus giving
time to the main body under the prince to take up a position, and
form in order of battle. Count Ernest was at length driven back,
with the loss of eight hundred men killed, almost all Scottish;
and being cut off from the rest of the army, was forced to take
refuge in Ostend, which town was in possession of the troops
of the states.

The army of Albert now marched on, flushed with this first success
and confident of final victory. Prince Maurice received them
with the courage of a gallant soldier and the precaution of a
consummate general. He had caused the fleet of ships of war and
transports, which had sailed along the coast from Zealand, and
landed supplies of ammunition and provisions, to retire far from
the share, so as to leave to his army no chance of escape but in
victory. The commissioners from the states, who always accompanied
the prince as a council of observation rather than of war, had
retired to Ostend in great consternation, to wait the issue of
the battle which now seemed inevitable. A scene of deep feeling
and heroism was the next episode of this memorable day, and throws
the charm of natural affection over those circumstances in which
glory too seldom leaves a place for the softer emotions of the
heart. When the patriot army was in its position, and firmly
waiting the advance of the foe, Prince Maurice turned to his
brother, Frederick Henry, then sixteen years of age, and several
young noblemen, English, French, and German, who like him attended
on the great captain to learn the art of war: he pointed out
in a few words the perilous situation in which he was placed;
declared his resolution to conquer or perish on the battlefield,
and recommended the boyish band to retire to Ostend, and wait
for some less desperate occasion to share his renown or revenge
his fall. Frederick Henry spurned the affectionate suggestion,
and swore to stand by his brother to the last; and all his young
companions adopted the same generous resolution.

The army of the states was placed in order of battle, about a
league in front of Nieuport, in the sand hills with which the
neighborhood abounds, its left wing resting on the seashore. Its
losses of the morning, and of the garrisons left in the forts
near Bruges, reduced it to an almost exact equality with that of
the archduke. Each of these armies was composed of that variety
of troops which made them respectively an epitome of the various
nations of Europe. The patriot force contained Dutch, English,
French, German, and Swiss, under the orders of Count Louis of
Nassau, Sir Francis and Sir Horace Vere, brothers and English
officers of great celebrity, with other distinguished captains.
The archduke mustered Spaniards, Italians, Walloons, and Irish in
his ranks, led on by Mendoza, La Berlotta, and their fellow-veterans.
Both armies were in the highest state of discipline, trained to
war by long service, and enthusiastic in the several causes which
they served; the two highest principles of enthusiasm urging them
on--religious fanaticism on the one hand, and the love of freedom
on the other. The rival generals rode along their respective
lines, addressed a few brief sentences of encouragement to their
men, and presently the bloody contest began.

It was three o'clock in the afternoon when the archduke commenced
the attack. His advanced guard, commanded by Mendoza and composed
of those former mutineers who now resolved to atone for their
misconduct, marched across the sand-hills with desperate resolution.
They soon came into contact with the English contingent under Francis
Vere, who was desperately wounded in the shock. The assault was
almost irresistible. The English, borne down by numbers, were
forced to give way; but the main body pressed on to their support.
Horace Vere stepped forward to supply his brother's place. Not
an inch of ground more was gained or lost; the firing ceased,
and pikes and swords crossed each other in the resolute conflict
of man to man. The action became general along the whole line.
The two commanders-in-chief were at all points. Nothing could
exceed their mutual display of skill and courage. At length the
Spanish cavalry, broken by the well-directed fire of the patriot
artillery, fell back on their infantry and threw it into confusion.
The archduke at the same instant was wounded by a lance in the
cheek, unhorsed, and forced to quit the field. The report of
his death, and the sight of his war-steed galloping alone across
the field, spread alarm through the royalist ranks. Prince Maurice
saw and seized on the critical moment. He who had so patiently
maintained his position for three hours of desperate conflict
now knew the crisis for a prompt and general advance. He gave
the word and led on to the charge, and the victory was at once
his own.

The defeat of the royalist army was complete. The whole of the
artillery, baggage, standards, and ammunition, fell into the
possession of the conquerors. Night coming on saved those who
fled, and the nature of the ground prevented the cavalry from
consummating the destruction of the whole. As far as the conflicting
accounts of the various historians may be compared and calculated
on, the royalists had three thousand killed, and among them several
officers of rank; while the patriot army, including those who fell
in the morning action, lost something more than half the number.
The archduke, furnished with a fresh horse, gained Bruges in safety;
but he only waited there long enough to join his heroic wife,
with whom he proceeded rapidly to Ghent, and thence to Brussels.
Mendoza was wounded and taken prisoner, and with difficulty saved
by Prince Maurice from the fury of the German auxiliaries.

The moral effect produced by this victory on the vanquishers
and vanquished, and on the state of public opinion throughout
Europe, was immense; but its immediate consequences were incredibly
trifling. Not one result in a military point of view followed
an event which appeared almost decisive of the war. Nieuport
was again invested three days after the battle; but a strong
reinforcement entering the place saved it from all danger, and
Maurice found himself forced for want of supplies to abandon the
scene of his greatest exploit. He returned to Holland, welcomed
by the acclamations of his grateful country, and exciting the
jealousy and hatred of all who envied his glory or feared his
power. Among the sincere and conscientious republicans who saw
danger to the public liberty in the growing influence of a successful
soldier, placed at the head of affairs and endeared to the people
by every hereditary and personal claim, was Olden Barneveldt,
the pensionary; and from this period may be traced the growth
of the mutual antipathy which led to the sacrifice of the most
virtuous statesman of Holland, and the eternal disgrace of its
hitherto heroic chief.

The states of the Catholic provinces assembled at Brussels now
gave the archdukes to understand that nothing but peace could
satisfy their wishes or save the country from exhaustion and
ruin. Albert saw the reasonableness of their remonstrances, and
attempted to carry the great object into effect. The states-general
listened to his proposals. Commissioners were appointed on both
sides to treat of terms. They met at Berg-op-Zoom; but their
conferences were broken up almost as soon as commenced. The Spanish
deputies insisted on the submission of the republic to its ancient
masters. Such a proposal was worse than insulting; it proved the
inveterate insincerity of those with whom it originated, and
who knew it could not be entertained for a moment. Preparations
for hostilities were therefore commenced on both sides, and the
whole of the winter was thus employed.

Early in the spring Prince Maurice opened the campaign at the
head of sixteen thousand men, chiefly composed of English and
French, who seemed throughout the contest to forget their national
animosities, and to know no rivalry but that of emulation in the
cause of liberty. The town of Rhinberg soon fell into the hands
of the prince. His next attempt was against Bois-le-duc; and the
siege of this place was signalized by an event that flavored of the
chivalric contests now going out of fashion. A Norman gentleman of
the name of Breaute, in the service of Prince Maurice, challenged
the royalist garrison to meet him and twenty of his comrades
in arms under the walls of the place. The cartel was accepted
by a Fleming named Abramzoom, but better known by the epithet
Leckerbeetje (savory bit), who, with twenty more, met Breaute
and his friends. The combat was desperate. The Flemish champion
was killed at the first shock by his Norman challenger; but the
latter falling into the hands of the enemy, they treacherously
and cruelly put him to death, in violation of the strict conditions
of the fight. Prince Maurice was forced to raise the siege of
Bois-le-duc, and turn his attention in another direction.

The archduke Albert had now resolved to invest Ostend, a place
of great importance to the United Provinces, but little worth to
either party in comparison with the dreadful waste of treasure
and human life which was the consequence of its memorable siege.
Sir Francis Vere commanded in the place at the period of its final
investment; but governors, garrisons, and besieging forces, were
renewed and replaced with a rapidity which gives one of the most
frightful instances of the ravages of war. The siege of Ostend lasted
upward of three years. It became a school for the young nobility
of all Europe, who repaired to either one or the other party to
learn the principles and the practice of attack and defence.
Everything that the art of strategy could devise was resorted to on
either side. The slaughter in the various assaults, sorties, and
bombardments was enormous. Squadrons at sea gave a double interest
to the land operations; and the celebrated brothers Frederick
and Ambrose Spinola founded their reputation on these opposing
elements. Frederick was killed in one of the naval combats with
the Dutch galleys, and the fame of reducing Ostend was reserved
for Ambrose. This afterward celebrated general had undertaken
the command at the earnest entreaties of the archduke and the
king of Spain, and by the firmness and vigor of his measures
he revived the courage of the worn-out assailants of the place.
Redoubled attacks and multiplied mines at length reduced the town
to a mere mass of ruin, and scarcely left its still undaunted
garrison sufficient footing on which to prolong their desperate
defence. Ostend at length surrendered, on the 22d of September,
1604, and the victors marched in over its crumbled walls and
shattered batteries. Scarcely a vestige of the place remained
beyond those terrible evidences of destruction. Its ditches,
filled up with the rubbish of ramparts, bastions, and redoubts,
left no distinct line of separation between the operations of
its attack and its defence. It resembled rather a vast sepulchre
than a ruined town, a mountain of earth and rubbish, without a
single house in which the wretched remnant of the inhabitants
could hide their heads--a monument of desolation on which victory
might have sat and wept.

During the progress of this memorable siege Queen Elizabeth of
England had died, after a long and, it must be pronounced, a
glorious reign; though the glory belongs rather to the nation
than to the monarch, whose memory is marked with indelible stains
of private cruelty, as in the cases of Essex and Mary Queen of
Scots, and of public wrongs, as in that of her whole system of
tyranny in Ireland. With respect to the United Provinces she was
a harsh protectress and a capricious ally. She in turns advised
them to remain faithful to the old impurities of religion and to
their intolerable king; refused to incorporate them with her
own states; and then used her best efforts for subjecting them to
her sway. She seemed to take pleasure in the uncertainty to which
she reduced them, by constant demands for payment of her loans,
and threats of making peace with Spain. Thus the states-general
were not much affected by the news of her death; and so rejoiced
were they at the accession of James I. to the throne of England
that all the bells of Holland rang out merry peals; bonfires
were set blazing all over the country; a letter of congratulation
was despatched to the new monarch; and it was speedily followed
by a solemn embassy composed of Prince Frederick Henry, the grand
pensionary De Barneveldt, and others of the first dignitaries of
the republic. These ambassadors were grievously disappointed at
the reception given to them by James, who treated them as little
better than rebels to their lawful king. But this first disposition
to contempt and insult was soon overcome by the united talents
of Barneveldt and the great duke of Sully, who were at the same
period ambassadors from France at the English court. The result
of the negotiations was an agreement between those two powers to
take the republic under their protection, and use their best
efforts for obtaining the recognition of its independence by

The states-general considered themselves amply recompensed for
the loss of Ostend by the taking of Ecluse, Rhinberg, and Grave,
all of which had in the interval surrendered to Prince Maurice;
but they were seriously alarmed on finding themselves abandoned
by King James, who concluded a separate peace with Philip III.
of Spain in the month of August this year.

This event gives rise to a question very important to the honor
of James, and consequently to England itself, as the acts of
the absolute monarchs of those days must be considered as those
of the nations which submitted to such a form of government.
Historians of great authority have asserted that it appeared
that, by a secret agreement, the king had expressly reserved the
power of sending assistance to Holland. Others deny the existence
of this secret article; and lean heavily on the reputation of
James for his conduct in the transaction. It must be considered
a very doubtful point, and is to be judged rather by subsequent
events than by any direct testimony.

The two monarchs stipulated in the treaty that "neither was to
give support of any kind to the revolted subjects of the other."
It is nevertheless true that James did not withdraw his troops
from the service of the states; but he authorized the Spaniards
to levy soldiers in England. The United Provinces were at once
afflicted and indignant at this equivocal conduct. Their first
impulse was to deprive the English of the liberty of navigating
the Scheldt. They even arrested the progress of several of their
merchant-ships. But soon after, gratified at finding that James
received their deputy with the title of ambassador, they resolved
to dissimulate their resentment.

Prince Maurice and Spinola now took the field with their respective
armies; and a rapid series of operations placing them in direct
contact, displayed their talents in the most striking points
of view. The first steps on the part of the prince were a new
invasion of Flanders, and an attempt on Antwerp, which he hoped
to carry before the Spanish army could arrive to its succor.
But the promptitude and sagacity of Spinola defeated this plan,
which Maurice was obliged to abandon after some loss; while the
royalist general resolved to signalize himself by some important
movement, and, ere his design was suspected, he had penetrated
into the province of Overyssel, and thus retorted his rival's
favorite measure of carrying the war into the enemy's country.
Several towns were rapidly reduced; but Maurice flew toward the
threatened provinces, and by his active measures forced Spinola
to fall back on the Rhine and take up a position near Roeroord,
where he was impetuously attacked by the Dutch army. But the
cavalry having followed up too slowly the orders of Maurice,
his hope of surprising the royalists was frustrated; and the
Spanish forces, gaining time by this hesitation, soon changed
the fortune of the day. The Dutch cavalry shamefully took to
flight, despite the gallant endeavors of both Maurice and his
brother Frederick Henry; and at this juncture a large reinforcement
of Spaniards arrived under the command of Velasco. Maurice now
brought forward some companies of English and French infantry
under Horatio Vere and D'Omerville, also a distinguished officer.
The battle was again fiercely renewed; and the Spaniards now
gave way, and had been completely defeated, had not Spinola put
in practice an old and generally successful stratagem. He caused
almost all the drums of his army to beat in one direction, so
as to give the impression that a still larger reinforcement was
approaching. Maurice, apprehensive that the former panic might
find a parallel in a fresh one, prudently ordered a retreat, which
he was able to effect in good order, in preference to risking the
total disorganization of his troops. The loss on each side was
nearly the same; but the glory of this hard-fought day remained
on the side of Spinola, who proved himself a worthy successor of
the great duke of Parma, and an antagonist with whom Maurice
might contend without dishonor.

The naval transactions of this year restored the balance which
Spinola's successes had begun to turn in favor of the royalist
cause. A squadron of ships, commanded by Hautain, admiral of
Zealand, attacked a superior force of Spanish vessels close to
Dover, and defeated them with considerable loss. But the victory
was sullied by an act of great barbarity. All the soldiers found
on board the captured ships were tied two and two and mercilessly
flung into the sea. Some contrived to extricate themselves, and
gained the shore by swimming; others were picked up by the English
boats, whose crews witnessed the scene and hastened to their
relief. The generous British seamen could not remain neuter in
such a moment, nor repress their indignation against those whom
they had hitherto so long considered as friends. The Dutch vessels
pursuing those of Spain which fled into Dover harbor, were fired
on by the cannon of the castle and forced to give up the chase.
The English loudly complained that the Dutch had on this occasion
violated their territory; and this transaction laid the foundation
of the quarrel which subsequently broke out between England and
the republic, and which the jealousies of rival merchants in
either state unceasingly fomented. In this year also the Dutch
succeeded in capturing the chief of the Dunkirk privateers, which
had so long annoyed their trade; and they cruelly ordered sixty
of the prisoners to be put to death. But the people, more humane
than the authorities, rescued them from the executioners and
set them free.

But these domestic instances of success and inhumanity were trifling
in comparison with the splendid train of distant events, accompanied
by a course of wholesale benevolence, that redeemed the traits
of petty guilt. The maritime enterprises of Holland, forced by
the imprudent policy of Spain to seek a wider career than in the
narrow seas of Europe, were day by day extended in the Indies.
To ruin if possible their increasing trade, Philip III. sent
out the admiral Hurtado, with a fleet of eight galleons and
thirty-two galleys. The Dutch squadron of five vessels, commanded
by Wolfert Hermanszoon, attacked them off the coast of Malabar,
and his temerity was crowned with great success. He took two
of their vessels, and completely drove the remainder from the
Indian seas. He then concluded a treaty with the natives of the
isle of Banda, by which he promised to support them against the
Spaniards and Portuguese, on condition that they were to give his
fellow-countrymen the exclusive privilege of purchasing the spices
of the island. This treaty was the foundation of the influence
which the Dutch so soon succeeded in forming in the East Indies;
and they established it by a candid, mild, and tolerant conduct,
strongly contrasted with the pride and bigotry which had signalized
every act of the Portuguese and Spaniards.

The prodigious success of the Indian trade occasioned numerous
societies to be formed all through the republic. But by their
great number they became at length injurious to each other. The
spirit of speculation was pushed too far; and the merchants, who
paid enormous prices for India goods, found themselves forced
to sell in Europe at a loss. Many of those societies were too
weak, in military force as well as in capital, to resist the
armed competition of the Spaniards, and to support themselves
in their disputes with the native princes. At length the
states-general resolved to unite the whole of these scattered
partnerships into one grand company, which was soon organized
on a solid basis that led ere long to incredible wealth at home
and a rapid succession of conquests in the East.



A.D. 1606--1619

The states-general now resolved to confine their military operations
to a war merely defensive. Spinola had, by his conduct during the
late campaign, completely revived the spirits of the Spanish
troops, and excited at least the caution of the Dutch. He now
threatened the United Provinces with invasion; and he exerted his
utmost efforts to raise the supplies necessary for the execution
of his plan. He not only exhausted the resources of the king
of Spain and the archduke, but obtained money on his private
account from all those usurers who were tempted by his confident
anticipations of conquest. He soon equipped two armies of about
twelve thousand men each. At the head of one of those he took
the field; the other, commanded by the count of Bucquoi, was
destined to join him in the neighborhood of Utrecht; and he was
then resolved to push forward with the whole united force into
the very heart of the republic.

Prince Maurice in the meantime concentrated his army, amounting
to twelve thousand men, and prepared to make head against his
formidable opponents. By a succession of the most prudent manoeuvres
he contrived to keep Spinola in check, disconcerted all his projects,
and forced him to content himself with the capture of two or
three towns--a comparatively insignificant conquest. Desiring
to wipe away the disgrace of this discomfiture, and to risk
everything for the accomplishment of his grand design, Spinola
used every method to provoke the prince to a battle, even though a
serious mutiny among his troops, and the impossibility of forming a
junction with Bucquoi, had reduced his force below that of Maurice;
but the latter, to the surprise of all who expected a decisive
blow, retreated from before the Italian general--abandoning the
town of Groll, which immediately fell into Spinola's power, and
giving rise to manifold conjectures and infinite discontent at
conduct so little in unison with his wonted enterprise and skill.
Even Henry IV. acknowledged it did not answer the expectation he
had formed from Maurice's splendid talents for war. The fact
seems to be that the prince, much as he valued victory, dreaded
peace more; and that he was resolved to avoid a decisive blow,
which, in putting an end to the contest, would at the same time
have decreased the individual influence in the state which his
ambition now urged him to augment by every possible means.

The Dutch naval expeditions this year were not more brilliant than
those on land. Admiral Hautain, with twenty ships, was surprised
off Cape St. Vincent by the Spanish fleet. The formidable appearance
of their galleons inspired on this occasion a perfect panic among
the Dutch sailors. They hoisted their sails and fled, with the
exception of one ship, commanded by Vice-Admiral Klaazoon, whose
desperate conduct saved the national honor. Having held out until
his vessel was quite unmanageable, and almost his whole crew
killed or wounded, he prevailed on the rest to agree to the
resolution he had formed, knelt down on the deck, and putting up
a brief prayer for pardon for the act, thrust a light into the
powder-magazine, and was instantly blown up with his companions.
Only two men were snatched from the sea by the Spaniards; and
even these, dreadfully burned and mangled, died in the utterance
of curses on the enemy.

This disastrous occurrence was soon, however, forgotten in the
rejoicings for a brilliant victory gained the following year by
Heemskirk, so celebrated for his voyage to Nova Zembla, and by
his conduct in the East. He set sail from the ports of Holland
in the month of March, determined to signalize himself by some
great exploit, now necessary to redeem the disgrace which had
begun to sully the reputation of the Dutch navy. He soon got
intelligence that the Spanish fleet lay at anchor in the bay
of Gibraltar, and he speedily prepared to offer them battle.
Before the combat began he held a council of war, and addressed
the officers in an energetic speech, in which he displayed the
imperative call on their valor to conquer or die in the approaching
conflict. He led on to the action in his own ship; and, to the
astonishment of both fleets, he bore right down against the enormous
galleon in which the flag of the Spanish admiral-in-chief was
hoisted. D'Avila could scarcely believe the evidence of his eyes
at this audacity: he at first burst into laughter at the notion;
but as Heemskirk approached, he cut his cables and attempted
to escape under the shelter of the town. The heroic Dutchman
pursued him through the whole of the Spanish fleet, and soon
forced him to action. At the second broadside Heemskirk had his
left leg carried off by a cannon-ball, and he almost instantly
died, exhorting his crew to seek for consolation in the defeat
of the enemy. Verhoef, the captain of the ship, concealed the
admiral's death; and the whole fleet continued the action with
a valor worthy the spirit in which it was commenced. The victory
was soon decided: four of the Spanish galleons were sunk or burned,
the remainder fled; and the citizens of Cadiz trembled with the
apprehension of sack and pillage. But the death of Heemskirk,
when made known to the surviving victors, seemed completely to
paralyze them. They attempted nothing further; but sailing back
to Holland with the body of their lamented chief, thus paid a
greater tribute to his importance than was to be found in the
mausoleum erected to his memory in the city of Amsterdam.


The news of this battle reaching Brussels before it was known
in Holland, contributed not a little to quicken the anxiety of
the archdukes for peace. The king of Spain, worn out by the war
which drained his treasury, had for some time ardently desired it.
The Portuguese made loud complaints of the ruin that threatened
their trade and their East Indian colonies. The Spanish ministers
were fatigued with the apparently interminable contest which
baffled all their calculations. Spinola, even, in the midst of
his brilliant career, found himself so overwhelmed with debts
and so oppressed by the reproaches of the numerous creditors
who were ruined by his default of payment, that he joined in the
general demand for repose. In the month of May, 1607, proposals
were made by the archdukes, in compliance with the general desire;
and their two plenipotentiaries, Van Wittenhorst and Gevaerts,
repaired to The Hague.

Public opinion in the United Provinces was divided on this important
question. An instinctive hatred against the Spaniards, and long
habits of warfare, influenced the great mass of the people to
consider any overture for peace as some wily artifice aimed at
their religion and liberty. War seemed to open inexhaustible
sources of wealth; while peace seemed to threaten the extinction
of the courage which was now as much a habit as war appeared to
be a want. This reasoning was particularly convincing to Prince
Maurice, whose fame, with a large portion of his authority and
revenues, depended on the continuance of hostilities: it was
also strongly relished and supported in Zealand generally, and
in the chief towns, which dreaded the rivalry of Antwerp. But
those who bore the burden of the war saw the subject under a
different aspect. They feared that the present state of things
would lead to their conquest by the enemy, or to the ruin of
their liberty by the growing power of Maurice. They hoped that
peace would consolidate the republic and cause the reduction
of the debt, which now amounted to twenty-six million florins.
At the head of the party who so reasoned was De Barneveldt; and
his name is a guarantee with posterity for the wisdom of the

To allow the violent opposition to subside, and to prevent any
explosion of party feuds, the prudent Barneveldt suggested a
mere suspension of arms, during which the permanent interests
of both states might be calmly discussed. He even undertook to
obtain Maurice's consent to the armistice. The prince listened
to his arguments, and was apparently convinced by them. He, at
any rate, sanctioned the proposal; but he afterward complained
that Barneveldt had deceived him, in representing the negotiation
as a feint for the purpose of persuading the kings of France and
England to give greater aid to the republic. It is more than
likely that Maurice reckoned on the improbability of Spain's
consenting to the terms of the proposed treaty; and, on that
chance, withdrew an opposition which could scarcely be ascribed
to any but motives of personal ambition. It is, however, certain
that his discontent at this transaction, either with himself
or Barneveldt, laid the foundation of that bitter enmity which
proved fatal to the life of the latter, and covered his own name,
otherwise glorious, with undying reproach.

The United Provinces positively refused to admit even the
commencement of a negotiation without the absolute recognition
of their independence by the archdukes. A new ambassador was
accordingly chosen on the part of these sovereigns, and empowered
to concede this important admission. This person attracted
considerable attention, from his well-known qualities as an able
diplomatist. He was a monk of the order of St. Francis, named
John de Neyen, a native of Antwerp, and a person as well versed
in court intrigue as in the studies of the cloister. He, in the
first instance, repaired secretly to The Hague; and had several
private interviews with Prince Maurice and Barneveldt, before he
was regularly introduced to the states-general in his official
character. Two different journeys were undertaken by this agent
between The Hague and Brussels, before he could succeed in obtaining
a perfect understanding as to the specific views of the archdukes.
The suspicions of the states-general seem fully justified by
the dubious tone of the various communications, which avoided
the direct admission of the required preliminary as to the
independence of the United Provinces. It was at length concluded
in explicit terms; and a suspension of arms for eight months
was the immediate consequence.

But the negotiation for peace was on the point of being completely
broken, in consequence of the conduct of Neyen, who justified
every doubt of his sincerity by an attempt to corrupt Aarsens
the greffier of the states-general, or at least to influence
his conduct in the progress of the treaty. Neyen presented him,
in the name of the archdukes, and as a token of his esteem, with
a diamond of great value and a bond for fifty thousand crowns.
Aarsens accepted these presents with the approbation of Prince
Maurice, to whom he had confided the circumstance, and who was no
doubt delighted at what promised a rupture to the negotiations.
Verreiken, a councillor of state, who assisted Neyen in his
diplomatic labors, was formally summoned before the assembled
states-general, and there Barneveldt handed to him the diamond
and the bond; and at the same time read him a lecture of true
republican severity on the subject. Verreiken was overwhelmed
by the violent attack: he denied the authority of Neyen for the
measure he had taken; and remarked, "that it was not surprising
that monks, naturally interested and avaricious, judged others
by themselves." This repudiation of Neyen's suspicious conduct
seems to have satisfied the stern resentment of Barneveldt; and
the party which so earnestly labored for peace. In spite of all
the opposition of Maurice and his partisans, the negotiation
went on.

In the month of January, 1608, the various ambassadors were assembled
at The Hague. Spinola was the chief of the plenipotentiaries
appointed by the king of Spain; and Jeannin, president of the
parliament of Dijon, a man of rare endowments, represented France.
Prince Maurice, accompanied by his brother Frederick Henry, the
various counts of Nassau his cousins, and a numerous escort,
advanced some distance to meet Spinola, conveyed him to The Hague
in his own carriage, and lavished on him all the attentions
reciprocally due between two such renowned captains during the
suspension of their rivalry. The president Richardst was, with
Neyen and Verreiken, ambassador from the archdukes; but Barneveldt
and Jeannin appear to have played the chief parts in the important
transaction which now filled all Europe with anxiety. Every state
was more or less concerned in the result; and the three great
monarchies of England, France, and Spain, had all a vital interest
at stake. The conferences were therefore frequent; and the debates
assumed a great variety of aspects, which long kept the civilized
world in suspense.

King James was extremely jealous of the more prominent part taken
by the French ambassadors, and of the sub-altern consideration
held by his own envoys, Winwood and Spencer, in consequence of
the disfavor in which he himself was held by the Dutch people.
It appears evident that, whether deservedly or the contrary,
England was at this period unpopular in the United Provinces,
while France was looked up to with the greatest enthusiasm. This
is not surprising, when we compare the characters of Henry IV.
and James I., bearing in mind how much of national reputation
at the time depended on the personal conduct of kings; and how
political situations influence, if they do not create, the virtues
and vices of a people. Independent of the suspicions of his being
altogether unfavorable to the declaration required by the United
Provinces from Spain, to which James's conduct had given rise, he
had established some exactions which greatly embarrassed their
fishing expeditions on the coasts of England.

The main points for discussion, and on which depended the decision
for peace or war, were those which concerned religion; and the
demand, on the part of Spain, that the United Provinces should
renounce all claims to the navigation of the Indian seas. Philip
required for the Catholics of the United Provinces the free exercise
of their religion; this was opposed by the states-general: and
the archduke Albert, seeing the impossibility of carrying that
point, despatched his confessor, Fra Inigo de Briznella, to Spain.
This Dominican was furnished with the written opinion of several
theologians, that the king might conscientiously slur over the
article of religion; and he was the more successful with Philip, as
the duke of Lerma, his prime minister, was resolved to accomplish
the peace at any price. The conferences at The Hague were therefore
not interrupted on this question; but they went on slowly, months
being consumed in discussions on articles of trifling importance.
They were, however, resumed in the month of August with greater
vigor. It was announced that the king of Spain abandoned the
question respecting religion; but that it was in the certainty
that his moderation would be recompensed by ample concessions
on that of the Indian trade, on which he was inexorable. This
article became the rock on which the whole negotiation eventually
split. The court of Spain on the one hand, and the states-general
on the other, inflexibly maintained their opposing claims. It
was in vain that the ambassadors turned and twisted the subject
with all the subtleties of diplomacy. Every possible expedient was
used to shake the determination of the Dutch. But the influence
of the East India Company, the islands of Zealand, and the city
of Amsterdam, prevailed over all. Reports of the avowal on the
part of the king of Spain, that he would never renounce his title
to the sovereignty of the United Provinces, unless they abandoned
the Indian navigation and granted the free exercise of religion,
threw the whole diplomatic corps into confusion; and, on the
25th of August, the states-general announced to the marquis of
Spinola and the other ambassadors that the congress was dissolved,
and that all hopes of peace were abandoned.

Nothing seemed now likely to prevent the immediate renewal of
hostilities, when the ambassadors of France and England proposed
the mediation of their respective masters for the conclusion of
a truce for several years. The king of Spain and the archdukes
were well satisfied to obtain even this temporary cessation of
the war; but Prince Maurice and a portion of the Provinces
strenuously opposed the proposition. The French and English
ambassadors, however, in concert with Barneveldt, who steadily
maintained his influence, labored incessantly to overcome those
difficulties; and finally succeeded in overpowering all opposition
to the truce. A new congress was agreed on, to assemble at Antwerp
for the consideration of the conditions; and the states-general
agreed to remove from The Hague to Berg-or-Zoom, to be more within
reach, and ready to co-operate in the negotiation.

But, before matters assumed this favorable turn, discussions and
disputes had intervened on several occasions to render fruitless
every effort of those who so incessantly labored for the great causes
of humanity and the general good. On one occasion, Barneveldt,
disgusted with the opposition of Prince Maurice and his partisans,
had actually resigned his employments; but brought back by the
solicitations of the states-general, and reconciled to Maurice by
the intervention of Jeannin, the negotiations for the truce were
resumed; and, under the auspices of the ambassadors, they were
happily terminated. After two years' delay, this long-wished-for
truce was concluded, and signed on the 9th of April, 1609, to
continue for the space of twelve years.

This celebrated treaty contained thirty-two articles; and its
fulfilment on either side was guaranteed by the kings of France
and England. Notwithstanding the time taken up in previous
discussions, the treaty is one of the most vague and unspecific
state papers that exists. The archdukes, in their own names and
in that of the king of Spain, declared the United Provinces to
be free and independent states, on which they renounced all claim
whatever. By the third article each party was to hold respectively
the places which they possessed at the commencement of the armistice.
The fourth and fifth articles grant to the republic, but in a
phraseology obscure and even doubtful, the right of navigation
and free trade to the Indies. The eighth contains all that regards
the exercise of religion; and the remaining clauses are wholly
relative to points of internal trade, custom-house regulations,
and matters of private interest.

Ephemeral and temporary as this peace appeared, it was received
with almost universal demonstrations of joy by the population of
the Netherlands in their two grand divisions. Everyone seemed
to turn toward the enjoyment of tranquillity with the animated
composure of tired laborers looking forward to a day of rest and
sunshine. This truce brought a calm of comparative happiness upon
the country, which an almost unremitting tempest had desolated for
nearly half a century; and, after so long a series of calamity,
all the national advantages of social life seemed about to settle
on the land. The attitude which the United Provinces assumed at
this period was indeed a proud one. They were not now compelled
to look abroad and solicit other states to become their masters.
They had forced their old tyrants to acknowledge their independence;
to come and ask for peace on their own ground; and to treat with
them on terms of no doubtful equality. They had already become
so flourishing, so powerful, and so envied, that they who had
so lately excited but compassion from the neighboring states
were now regarded with such jealousy as rivals, unequivocally
equal, may justly inspire in each other.

The ten southern provinces, now confirmed under the sovereignty of
the House of Austria, and from this period generally distinguished
by the name of Belgium, immediately began, like the northern division
of the country, to labor for the great object of repairing the
dreadful sufferings caused by their long and cruel war. Their
success was considerable. Albert and Isabella, their sovereigns,
joined, to considerable probity of character and talents for
government, a fund of humanity which led them to unceasing acts of
benevolence. The whole of their dominions quickly began to recover
from the ravages of war. Agriculture and the minor operations of
trade resumed all their wonted activity. But the manufactures
of Flanders were no more; and the grander exercise of commerce
seemed finally removed to Amsterdam and the other chief towns
of Holland.

This tranquil course of prosperity in the Belgian provinces was
only once interrupted during the whole continuance of the twelve
years' truce, and that was in the year following its commencement.
The death of the duke of Cleves and Juliers, in this year, gave
rise to serious disputes for the succession to his states, which
was claimed by several of the princes of Germany. The elector
of Brandenburg and the duke of Neuburg were seconded both by
France and the United Provinces; and a joint army of both nations,
commanded by Prince Maurice and the marshal de la Chatre, was
marched into the county of Cleves. After taking possession of the
town of Juliers, the allies retired, leaving the two princes above
mentioned in a partnership possession of the disputed states. But
this joint sovereignty did not satisfy the ambition of either,
and serious divisions arose between them, each endeavoring to
strengthen himself by foreign alliances. The archdukes Albert
and Isabella were drawn into the quarrel; and they despatched
Spinola at the head of twenty thousand men to support the duke
of Neuburg, whose pretensions they countenanced. Prince Maurice,
with a Dutch army, advanced on the other hand to uphold the claims
of the elector of Brandenburg. Both generals took possession of
several towns; and this double expedition offered the singular
spectacle of two opposing armies, acting in different interests,
making conquests, and dividing an important inheritance, without
the occurrence of one act of hostility to each other. But the
interference of the court of Madrid had nearly been the cause
of a new rupture. The greatest alarm was excited in the Belgic
provinces; and nothing but the prudence of the archdukes and
the forbearance of the states-general could have succeeded in
averting the threatened evil.

With the exception of this bloodless mimicry of war, the United
Provinces presented for the space of twelve years a long-continued
picture of peace, as the term is generally received; but a peace
so disfigured by intestine troubles, and so stained by actions
of despotic cruelty, that the period which should have been that
of its greatest happiness becomes but an example of its worst

The assassination of Henry IV., in the year 1609, was a new instance
of the bigoted atrocity which reigned paramount in Europe at the
time; and while robbing France of one of its best monarchs, it
deprived the United Provinces of their truest and most powerful
friend. Henry has, from his own days to the present, found a
ready eulogy in all who value kings in proportion as they are
distinguished by heroism, without ceasing to evince the feelings
of humanity. Henry seems to have gone as far as man can go, to
combine wisdom, dignity and courage with all those endearing
qualities of private life which alone give men a prominent hold
upon the sympathies of their kind. We acknowledge his errors,
his faults, his follies, only to love him the better. We admire
his valor and generosity, without being shocked by cruelty or
disgusted by profusion. We look on his greatness without envy;
and in tracing his whole career we seem to walk hand in hand
beside a dear companion, rather than to follow the footsteps of
a mighty monarch.

But the death of this powerful supporter of their efforts for
freedom, and the chief guarantee for its continuance, was a trifling
calamity to the United Provinces, in comparison with the rapid
fall from the true point of glory so painfully exhibited in the
conduct of their own domestic champion. It had been well for
Prince Maurice of Nassau that the last shot fired by the defeated
Spaniards in the battle of Nieuport had struck him dead in the
moment of his greatest victory and on the summit of his fame.
From that celebrated day he had performed no deed of war that
could raise his reputation as a soldier, and all his acts as
stadtholder were calculated to sink him below the level of civil
virtue and just government. His two campaigns against Spinola
had redounded more to the credit of his rival than to his own;
and his whole conduct during the negotiation for the truce too
plainly betrayed the unworthy nature of his ambition, founded on
despotic principles. It was his misfortune to have been completely
thrown out of the career for which he had been designed by nature
and education. War was his element. By his genius, he improved
it as a science: by his valor, he was one of those who raised
it from the degradation of a trade to the dignity of a passion.
But when removed from the camp to the council room, he became all
at once a common man. His frankness degenerated into roughness;
his decision into despotism; his courage into cruelty. He gave a
new proof of the melancholy fact that circumstances may transform
the most apparent qualities of virtue into those opposite vices
between which human wisdom is baffled when it attempts to draw
a decided and invariable line.

Opposed to Maurice in almost every one of his acts, was, as we
have already seen, Barneveldt, one of the truest patriots of any
time or country; and, with the exception of William the Great,
prince of Orange, the most eminent citizen to whom the affairs
of the Netherlands have given celebrity. A hundred pens have
labored to do honor to this truly virtuous man. His greatness
has found a record in every act of his life; and his death, like
that of William, though differently accomplished, was equally
a martyrdom for the liberties of his country. We cannot enter
minutely into the train of circumstances which for several years
brought Maurice and Barneveldt into perpetual concussion with
each other. Long after the completion of the truce, which the
latter so mainly aided in accomplishing, every minor point in the
domestic affairs of the republic seemed merged in the conflict
between the stadtholder and the pensionary. Without attempting
to specify these, we may say, generally, that almost every one
redounded to the disgrace of the prince and the honor of the
patriot. But the main question of agitation was the fierce dispute
which soon broke out between two professors of theology of the
university of Leyden, Francis Gomar and James Arminius. We do
not regret on this occasion that our confined limits spare us the
task of recording in detail controversies on points of speculative
doctrine far beyond the reach of the human understanding, and
therefore presumptuous, and the decision of which cannot be regarded
as of vital importance by those who justly estimate the grand
principles of Christianity. The whole strength of the intellects
which had long been engaged in the conflict for national and
religious liberty, was now directed to metaphysical theology,
and wasted upon interminable disputes about predestination and
grace. Barneveldt enrolled himself among the partisans of Arminius;
Maurice became a Gomarist.

It was, however, scarcely to be wondered at that a country so
recently delivered from slavery both in church and state should
run into wild excesses of intolerance, before sectarian principles
were thoroughly understood and definitively fixed. Persecutions
of various kinds were indulged in against Papists, Anabaptists,
Socinians, and all the shades of doctrine into which Christianity
had split. Every minister who, in the milder spirit of Lutheranism,
strove to moderate the rage of Calvinistic enthusiasm, was openly
denounced by its partisans; and one, named Gaspard Koolhaas,
was actually excommunicated by a synod, and denounced in plain
terms to the devil. Arminius had been appointed professor at
Leyden in 1603, for the mildness of his doctrines, which were
joined to most affable manners, a happy temper, and a purity
of conduct which no calumny could successfully traduce.

His colleague Gomar, a native of Bruges, learned, violent, and
rigid in sectarian points, soon became jealous of the more popular
professor's influence. A furious attack on the latter was answered
by recrimination; and the whole battery of theological authorities
was reciprocally discharged by one or other of the disputants.
The states-general interfered between them: they were summoned to
appear before the council of state; and grave politicians listened
for hours to the dispute. Arminius obtained the advantage, by the
apparent reasonableness of his creed, and the gentleness and
moderation of his conduct. He was meek, while Gomar was furious;
and many of the listeners declared that they would rather die
with the charity of the former than in the faith of the latter.
A second hearing was allowed them before the states of Holland.
Again Arminius took the lead; and the controversy went on
unceasingly, till this amiable man, worn out by his exertions
and the presentiment of the evil which these disputes were
engendering for his country, expired in his forty-ninth year,
piously persisting in his opinions.

The Gomarists now loudly called for a national synod, to regulate
the points of faith. The Arminians remonstrated on various grounds,
and thus acquired the name of Remonstrants, by which they were
soon generally distinguished. The most deplorable contests ensued.
Serious riots occurred in several of the towns of Holland; and
James I. of England could not resist the temptation of entering
the polemical lists, as a champion of orthodoxy and a decided
Gomarist. His hostility was chiefly directed against Vorstius,
the successor and disciple of Arminius. He pretty strongly
recommended to the states-general to have him burned for heresy.
His inveterate intolerance knew no bounds; and it completed the
melancholy picture of absurdity which the whole affair presents
to reasonable minds.

In this dispute, which occupied and agitated all, it was impossible
that Barneveldt should not choose the congenial temperance and
toleration of Arminius. Maurice, with probably no distinct conviction
or much interest in the abstract differences on either side, joined
the Gomarists. His motives were purely temporal; for the party
he espoused was now decidedly as much political as religious.
King James rewarded him by conferring on him the ribbon of the
Order of the Garter, vacant by the death of Henry IV. of France.
The ceremony of investment was performed with great pomp by the
English ambassador at The Hague; and James and Maurice entered
from that time into a closer and more uninterrupted correspondence
than before.

During the long continuance of the theological disputes, the
United Provinces had nevertheless made rapid strides toward
commercial greatness; and the year 1616 witnessed the completion
of an affair which was considered the consolidation of their
independence. This important matter was the recovery of the towns
of Brille and Flessingue, and the fort of Rammekins, which had
been placed in the hands of the English as security for the loan
granted to the republic by Queen Elizabeth. The whole merit of
the transaction was due to the perseverance and address, of
Barneveldt acting on the weakness and the embarrassments of King
James. Religious contention did not so fully occupy Barneveldt
but that he kept a constant eye on political concerns. He was
well informed on all that passed in the English court; he knew
the wants of James, and was aware of his efforts to bring about
the marriage of his son with the infanta of Spain. The danger
of such an alliance was evident to the penetrating Barneveldt,
who saw in perspective the probability of the wily Spaniards
obtaining from the English monarch possession of the strong places
in question. He therefore resolved on obtaining their recovery; and
his great care was to get them back with a considerable abatement
of the enormous debt for which they stood pledged, and which now
amounted to eight million florins.

Barneveldt commenced his operations by sounding the needy monarch
through the medium of Noel Caron, the ambassador from the
states-general; and he next managed so as that James himself
should offer to give up the towns, thereby allowing a fair pretext
to the states for claiming a diminution of the debt. The English
garrisons were unpaid and their complaints brought down a strong
remonstrance from James, and excuses from the states, founded
on the poverty of their financial resources. The negotiation
rapidly went on, in the same spirit of avidity on the part of
the king, and of good management on that of his debtors. It was
finally agreed that the states should pay in full of the demand
two million seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand florins (about
two hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling), being about
one-third of the debt. Prince Maurice repaired to the cautionary
towns in the month of June, and received them at the hands of
the English governors; the garrisons at the same time entering
into the service of the republic.

The accomplishment of this measure afforded the highest satisfaction
to the United Provinces. It caused infinite discontent in England;
and James, with the common injustice of men who make a bad bargain
(even though its conditions be of their own seeking and suited to
their own convenience), turned his own self-dissatisfaction into
bitter hatred against him whose watchful integrity had successfully
labored for his country's good. Barneveldt's leaning toward France
and the Arminians filled the measure of James's unworthy enmity.
Its effects were soon apparent, on the arrival at The Hague of
Carleton, who succeeded Winwood as James's ambassador. The haughty
pretensions of this diplomatist, whose attention seemed turned to
theological disputes rather than politics, gave great disgust;
and he contributed not a little to the persecution which led to
the tragical end of Barneveldt's valuable life.

While this indefatigable patriot was busy in relieving his country
from its dependence on England, his enemies accused him of the
wish to reduce it once more to Spanish tyranny. Francis Aarsens,
son to him who proved himself so incorruptible when attempted
to be bribed by Neyen, was one of the foremost of the faction
who now labored for the downfall of the pensionary. He was a
man of infinite dissimulation; versed in all the intrigues of
courts; and so deep in all their tortuous tactics that Cardinal
Richelieu, well qualified to prize that species of talent, declared
that he knew only three great political geniuses, of whom Francis
Aarsens was one.

Prince Maurice now almost openly avowed his pretensions to absolute
sovereignty: he knew that his success wholly depended on the
consent of Barneveldt. To seduce him to favor his designs he had
recourse to the dowager princess of Orange, his mother-in-law,
whose gentle character and exemplary conduct had procured her
universal esteem and the influence naturally attendant on it.
Maurice took care to make her understand that her interest in
his object was not trifling. Long time attached to Gertrude van
Mechlen, his favorite mistress, who had borne him several children,
he now announced his positive resolution to remain unmarried;
so that his brother Frederick Henry, the dowager's only son,
would be sure to succeed to the sovereignty he aimed at. The
princess, not insensible to this appeal, followed the instructions
of Maurice, and broached the affair to Barneveldt; but he was
inexorable. He clearly explained to her the perilous career on
which the prince proposed to enter; he showed how great, how
independent, how almost absolute, he might continue, without
shocking the principles of republicanism by grasping at an empty
dignity, which could not virtually increase his authority, and
would most probably convulse the state to its foundation and
lead to his own ruin. The princess, convinced by his reasoning,
repaired to Maurice; but instead of finding him as ready a convert
as she herself had been, she received as cold an answer as was
compatible with a passionate temper, wounded pride, and disappointed
ambition. The princess and Barneveldt recounted the whole affair
to Maurier, the French ambassador; and his son has transmitted
it to posterity.

We cannot follow the misguided prince in all the winding ways
of intrigue and subterfuge through which he labored to reach his
object. Religion, the holiest of sentiments, and Christianity,
the most sacred of its forms, were perpetually degraded by being
made the pretexts for that unworthy object. He was for a while
diverted from its direct pursuit by the preparation made to afford
assistance to some of the allies of the republic. Fifty thousand
florins a month were granted to the duke of Savoy, who was at
war with Spain; and seven thousand men, with nearly forty ships,
were despatched to the aid of the republic of Venice, in its
contest with Ferdinand, archduke of Gratz, who was afterward
elected emperor. The honorary empire of the seas seems at this
time to have been successfully claimed by the United Provinces.
They paid back with interest the haughty conduct with which they
had been long treated by the English; and they refused to pay
the fishery duties to which the inhabitants of Great Britain
were subject. The Dutch sailors had even the temerity, under
pretext of pursuing pirates, to violate the British territory.
They set fire to the town of Crookhaven, in Ireland, and massacred
several of the inhabitants. King James, immersed in theological
studies, appears to have passed slightly over this outrage. More
was to have been expected from his usual attention to the affairs
of Ireland; his management of which ill-fated country is the
best feature of his political character, and ought, to Irish
feelings at least, to be considered to redeem its many errors.
But he took fire at the news that the states had prohibited the
importation of cloth dyed and dressed in England. It required
the best exertion of Barneveldt's talents to pacify him; and
it was not easy to effect this through the jaundiced medium of
the ambassador Carleton. But it was unanswerably argued by the
pensionary that the manufacture of cloth was one of those ancient
and natural sources of wealth which England had ravished from the
Netherlands, and which the latter was justified in recovering by
every effort consistent with national honor and fair principles
of government.

The influence of Prince Maurice had gained complete success for
the Calvinist party, in its various titles of Gomarists,
non-remonstrants, etc. The audacity and violence of these ferocious
sectarians knew no bounds. Outrages, too many to enumerate, became
common through the country; and Arminianism was on all sides assailed
and persecuted. Barneveldt frequently appealed to Maurice without
effect; and all the efforts of the former to obtain justice by
means of the civil authorities were paralyzed by the inaction in
which the prince retained the military force. In this juncture,
the magistrates of various towns, spurred on by Barneveldt, called
out the national militia, termed Waardegelders, which possessed
the right of arming at its own expense for the protection of the
public peace. Schism upon schism was the consequence, and the
whole country was reduced to that state of anarchy so favorable
to the designs of an ambitious soldier already in the enjoyment
of almost absolute power. Maurice possessed all the hardihood and
vigor suited to such an occasion. At the head of two companies
of infantry, and accompanied by his brother Frederick Henry, he
suddenly set out at night from The Hague; arrived at the Brille;
and in defiance of the remonstrances of the magistrates, and
in violation of the rights of the town, he placed his devoted
garrison in that important place. To justify this measure, reports
were spread that Barneveldt intended to deliver it up to the
Spaniards; and the ignorant, insensate, and ungrateful people
swallowed the calumny.

This and such minor efforts were, however, all subservient to the
one grand object of utterly destroying, by a public proscription,
the whole of the patriot party, now identified with Arminianism.
A national synod was loudly clamored for by the Gomarists; and in
spite of all opposition on constitutional grounds, it was finally
proclaimed. Uitenbogaard, the enlightened pastor and friend of
Maurice, who on all occasions labored for the general good, now
moderated, as much as possible, the violence of either party; but
he could not persuade Barneveldt to render himself, by compliance,
a tacit accomplice with a measure that he conceived fraught with
violence to the public privileges. He had an inflexible enemy
in Carleton, the English ambassador. His interference carried
the question; and it was at his suggestion that Dordrecht, or
Dort, was chosen for the assembling of the synod. Du Maurier,
the French ambassador, acted on all occasions as a mediator; but
to obtain influence at such a time it was necessary to become
a partisan. Several towns--Leyden, Gouda, Rotterdam, and some
others--made a last effort for their liberties, and formed a
fruitless confederation.

Barneveldt solicited the acceptance of his resignation of all
his offices. The states-general implored him not to abandon the
country at such a critical moment: he consequently maintained
his post. Libels the most vindictive and atrocious were published
and circulated against him; and at last, forced from his silence
by these multiplied calumnies, he put forward his "Apology,"
addressed to the States of Holland.

This dignified vindication only produced new outrages; Maurice,
now become Prince of Orange by the death of his elder brother
without children, employed his whole authority to carry his object,
and crush Barneveldt. At the head of his troops he seized on
towns, displaced magistrates, trampled under foot all the ancient
privileges of the citizens, and openly announced his intention to
overthrow the federative constitution. His bold conduct completely
terrified the states-general. They thanked him; they consented to
disband the militia; formally invited foreign powers to favor
and protect the synod about to be held at Dort. The return of
Carleton from England, where he had gone to receive the more
positive promises of support from King James, was only wanting,
to decide Maurice to take the final step; and no sooner did the
ambassador arrive at The Hague than Barneveldt and his most able
friends, Grotius, Hoogerbeets, and Ledenberg, were arrested in
the name of the states-general.

The country was taken by surprise; no resistance was offered.
The concluding scenes of the tragedy were hurried on; violence
was succeeded by violence, against public feeling and public
justice. Maurice became completely absolute in everything but
in name. The supplications of ambassadors, the protests of
individuals, the arguments of statesmen, were alike unavailing
to stop the torrent of despotism and injustice. The synod of
Dort was opened on the 13th of November, 1618. Theology was
mystified; religion disgraced; Christianity outraged. And after
one hundred and fifty-two sittings, during six months' display
of ferocity and fraud, the solemn mockery was closed on the 9th
of May, 1619, by the declaration of its president, that "its
miraculous labors had made hell tremble."

Proscriptions, banishments, and death were the natural consequences
of this synod. The divisions which it had professed to extinguish
were rendered a thousand times more violent than before. Its
decrees did incalculable ill to the cause they were meant to
promote. The Anglican Church was the first to reject the canons
of Dort with horror and contempt. The Protestants of France and
Germany, and even Geneva, the nurse and guardian of Calvinism,
were shocked and disgusted, and unanimously softened down the
rigor of their respective creeds. But the moral effects of this
memorable conclave were too remote to prevent the sacrifice which
almost immediately followed the celebration of its rites. A trial
by twenty-four prejudiced enemies, by courtesy called judges,
which in its progress and its result throws judicial dignity into
scorn, ended in the condemnation of Barneveldt and his fellow
patriots, for treason against the liberties they had vainly labored
to save. Barneveldt died on the scaffold by the hands of the
executioner on the 13th of May, 1619, in the seventy-second year
of his age. Grotius and Hoogerbeets were sentenced to perpetual
imprisonment. Ledenberg committed suicide in his cell, sooner
than brave the tortures which he anticipated at the hands of
his enemies.

Many more pages than we are able to afford sentences might be
devoted to the details of these iniquitous proceedings, and an
account of their awful consummation. The pious heroism of Barneveldt
was never excelled by any martyr to the most holy cause. He appealed
to Maurice against the unjust sentence which condemned him to death;
but he scorned to beg his life. He met his fate with such temperate
courage as was to be expected from the dignified energy of his
life. His last words were worthy a philosopher whose thoughts,
even in his latest moments, were superior to mere personal hope
or fear, and turned to the deep mysteries of his being. "O God!"
cried De Barneveldt, "what then is man?" as he bent his head to
the sword that severed it from his body, and sent the inquiring
spirit to learn the great mystery for which it longed.



A.D. 1619--1625

The princess-dowager of Orange, and Du Maurier, the French
ambassador, had vainly implored mercy for the innocent victim at
the hands of the inexorable stadtholder. Maurice refused to see
his mother-in-law: he left the ambassador's appeal unanswered.
This is enough for the rigid justice of history that cannot be
blinded by partiality, but hands over to shame, at the close
of their career, even those whom she nursed in the very cradle
of heroism. But an accusation has become current, more fatal
to the fame of Prince Maurice, because it strikes at the root
of his claims to feeling, which could not be impugned by a mere
perseverance in severity that might have sprung from mistaken
views. It is asserted, but only as general belief, that he witnessed
the execution of Barneveldt. The little window of an octagonal
tower, overlooking the square of the Binnenhof at The Hague,
where the tragedy was acted, is still shown as the spot from
which the prince gazed on the scene. Almost concealed from view
among the clustering buildings of the place, it is well adapted
to give weight to the tradition; but it may not, perhaps, even
now be too late to raise a generous incredulity as to an assertion
of which no eye-witness attestation is recorded, and which might
have been the invention of malignity. There are many statements
of history which it is immaterial to substantiate or disprove.
Splendid fictions of public virtue have often produced their
good if once received as fact; but, when private character is
at stake, every conscientious writer or reader will cherish his
"historic doubts," when he reflects on the facility with which
calumny is sent abroad, the avidity with which it is received,
and the careless ease with which men credit what it costs little
to invent and propagate, but requires an age of trouble and an
almost impossible conjunction of opportunities effectually to

Grotius and Hoogerbeets were confined in the castle of Louvestein.
Moersbergen, a leading patriot of Utrecht, De Haan, pensionary
of Haarlem, and Uitenbogaard, the chosen confidant of Maurice,
but the friend of Barneveldt, were next accused and sentenced
to imprisonment or banishment. And thus Arminianism, deprived of
its chiefs, was for the time completely stifled. The Remonstrants,
thrown into utter despair, looked to emigration as their last
resource. Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, and Frederick, duke
of Holstein, offered them shelter and protection in their respective
states. Several availed themselves of these offers; but the
states-general, alarmed at the progress of self-expatriation,
moderated their rigor, and thus checked the desolating evil.
Several of the imprisoned Arminians had the good fortune to elude
the vigilance of their jailers; but the escape of Grotius is
the most remarkable of all, both from his own celebrity as one
of the first writers of his age in the most varied walks of
literature, and from its peculiar circumstances, which only found
a parallel in European history after a lapse of two centuries.
We allude to the escape of Lavalette from the prison of the
Conciergerie in Paris in 1815, which so painfully excited the
interest of all Europe for the intended victim's wife, whose
reason was the forfeit of her exertion.

Grotius was freely allowed during his close imprisonment all the
relaxations of study. His friends supplied him with quantities of
books, which were usually brought into the fortress in a trunk two
feet two inches long, which the governor regularly and carefully
examined during the first year. But custom brought relaxation in
the strictness of the prison rules; and the wife of the illustrious
prisoner, his faithful and constant visitor, proposed the plan of
his escape, to which he gave a ready and, all hazards considered,
a courageous assent. Shut up in this trunk for two hours, and
with all the risk of suffocation, and of injury from the rude
handling of the soldiers who carried it out of the fort, Grotius
was brought clear off by the very agents of his persecutors,
and safely delivered to the care of his devoted and discreet
female servant, who knew the secret and kept it well. She attended
the important consignment in the barge to the town of Gorcum;
and after various risks of discovery, providentially escaped,
Grotius at length found himself safe beyond the limits of his
native land. His wife, whose torturing suspense may be imagined
the while, concealed the stratagem as long as it was possible
to impose on the jailer with the pardonable and praiseworthy
fiction of her husband's illness and confinement to his bed.
The government, outrageous at the result of the affair, at first
proposed to hold this interesting prisoner in place of the prey
they had lost, and to proceed criminally against her. But after
a fortnight's confinement she was restored to liberty, and the
country saved from the disgrace of so ungenerous and cowardly
a proceeding. Grotius repaired to Paris, where he was received
in the most flattering manner, and distinguished by a pension
of one thousand crowns allowed by the king. He soon published
his vindication--one of the most eloquent and unanswerable
productions of its kind, in which those times of unjust accusations
and illegal punishments were so fertile.

The expiration of the twelve years' truce was now at hand; and
the United Provinces, after that long period of intestine trouble
and disgrace, had once more to recommence a more congenial struggle
against foreign enemies; for a renewal of the war with Spain
might be fairly considered a return to the regimen best suited
to the constitution of the people. The republic saw, however,
with considerable anxiety, the approach of this new contest. It
was fully sensible of its own weakness. Exile had reduced its
population; patriotism had subsided; foreign friends were dead;
the troops were unused to warfare; the hatred against Spanish
cruelty had lost its excitement; the finances were in confusion;
Prince Maurice had no longer the activity of youth; and the still
more vigorous impulse of fighting for his country's liberty was
changed to the dishonoring task of upholding his own tyranny.

The archdukes, encouraged by these considerations, had hopes
of bringing back the United Provinces to their domination. They
accordingly sent an embassy to Holland with proposals to that
effect. It was received with indignation; and the ambassador,
Peckius, was obliged to be escorted back to the frontiers by
soldiers, to protect him from the insults of the people. Military
operations were, however, for a while refrained from on either
side, in consequence of the deaths of Philip III. of Spain and
the archduke Albert. Philip IV. succeeded his father at the age
of sixteen; and the archduchess Isabella found herself alone at
the head of the government in the Belgian provinces. Olivarez
became as sovereign a minister in Spain, as his predecessor the
duke of Lerma had been; but the archduchess, though now with
only the title of stadtholderess of the Netherlands, held the
reins of power with a firm and steady hand.

In the celebrated thirty years' war which had commenced between
the Protestants and Catholics of Germany, the former had met with
considerable assistance from the United Provinces. Barneveldt, who
foresaw the embarrassments which the country would have to contend
with on the expiration of that truce, had strongly opposed its
meddling in the quarrel; but his ruin and death left no restraint
on the policy which prompted the republic to aid the Protestant
cause. Fifty thousand florins a month to the revolted Protestants,
and a like sum to the princes of the union, were for some time
advanced. Frederick, the elector palatine, son-in-law of the
king of England, and nephew of the prince, was chosen by the
Bohemians for their king; but in spite of the enthusiastic wishes
of the English nation, James persisted in refusing to interfere
in Frederick's favor. France, governed by De Luynes, a favorite
whose influence was deeply pledged, and, it is said, dearly sold to
Spain, abandoned the system of Henry IV., and upheld the House of
Austria. Thus the new monarch, only aided by the United Provinces,
and that feebly, was soon driven from his temporary dignity;
his hereditary dominions in the palatinate were overrun by the
Spanish army under Spinola; and Frederick, utterly defeated at
the battle of Prague, was obliged to take refuge in Holland.
James's abandonment of his son-in-law has been universally blamed
by almost every historian. He certainly allowed a few generous
individuals to raise a regiment in England of two thousand four
hundred chosen soldiers, who, under the command of the gallant
Sir Horace Vere, could only vainly regret the impossibility of
opposition to ten times their number of veteran troops.

This contest was carried on at first with almost all the advantages
on the side of the House of Austria. Two men of extraordinary
character, which presented a savage parody of military talent,
and a courage chiefly remarkable for the ferocity into which it
degenerated, struggled for a while against the imperial arms.
These were the count of Mansfield and Christian of Brunswick. At
the head of two desperate bands, which, by dint of hard fighting,
acquired something of the consistency of regular armies, they
maintained a long resistance; but the duke of Bavaria, commanding
the troops of the emperor, and Count Tilly at the head of those
of Spain, completed in the year 1622 the defeat of their daring
and semi-barbarous opponents.

Spinola was resolved to commence the war against the republic by
some important exploit. He therefore laid siege to Berg-op-Zoom,
a place of great consequence, commanding the navigation of the
Meuse and the coasts of all the islands of Zealand. But Maurice,
roused from the lethargy of despotism which seemed to have wholly
changed his character, repaired to the scene of threatened danger;
and succeeded, after a series of desperate efforts on both sides,
to raise the siege, forcing Spinola to abandon his attempt with
a loss of upward of twelve thousand men. Frederick Henry in the
meantime had made an incursion into Brabant with a body of light
troops; and ravaging the country up to the very gates of Mechlin,
Louvain, and Brussels, levied contributions to the amount of
six hundred thousand florins. The states completed this series
of good fortune by obtaining the possession of West Friesland,
by means of Count Mansfield, whom they had despatched thither
at the head of his formidable army, and who had, in spite of the
opposition of Count Tilly, successfully performed his mission.

We must now turn from these brief records of military affairs,
the more pleasing theme for the historian of the Netherlands
in comparison with domestic events, which claim attention but
to create sensations of regret and censure. Prince Maurice had
enjoyed without restraint the fruits of his ambitious daring.
His power was uncontrolled and unopposed, but it was publicly
odious; and private resentments were only withheld by fear, and,
perhaps, in some measure by the moderation and patience which
distinguished the disciples of Arminianism. In the midst, however,
of the apparent calm, a deep conspiracy was formed against the
life of the prince. The motives, the conduct, and the termination
of this plot, excite feelings of many opposite kinds. We cannot,
as in former instances, wholly execrate the design and approve
the punishment. Commiseration is mingled with blame, when we
mark the sons of Barneveldt, urged on by the excess of filial
affection to avenge their venerable father's fate; and despite
our abhorrence for the object in view, we sympathize with the
conspirators rather than the intended victim. William von
Stoutenbourg and Renier de Groeneveld were the names of these
two sons of the late pensionary. The latter was the younger;
but, of more impetuous character than his brother, he was the
principal in the plot. Instead of any efforts to soften down
the hatred of this unfortunate family, these brothers had been
removed from their employments, their property was confiscated,
and despair soon urged them to desperation. In such a time of
general discontent it was easy to find accomplices. Seven or
eight determined men readily joined in the plot; of these, two
were Catholics, the rest Arminians; the chief of whom was Henry
Slatius, a preacher of considerable eloquence, talent, and energy.
It was first proposed to attack the prince at Rotterdam; but
the place was soon after changed for Ryswyk, a village near The
Hague, and afterward celebrated by the treaty of peace signed
there and which bears its name. Ten other associates were soon
engaged by the exertions of Slatius: these were Arminian artisans
and sailors, to whom the actual execution of the murder was to
be confided; and they were persuaded that it was planned with
the connivance of Prince Frederick Henry, who was considered
by the Arminians as the secret partisan of their sect. The 6th
of February was fixed on for the accomplishment of the deed.
The better to conceal the design, the conspirators agreed to go
unarmed to the place, where they were to find a box containing
pistols and poniards in a spot agreed upon. The death of the
Prince of Orange was not the only object intended. During the
confusion subsequent to the hoped-for success of that first blow,
the chief conspirators intended to excite simultaneous revolts
at Leyden, Gouda, and Rotterdam, in which towns the Arminians
were most numerous. A general revolution throughout Holland was
firmly reckoned on as the infallible result; and success was
enthusiastically looked for to their country's freedom and their
individual fame.

But the plot, however cautiously laid and resolutely persevered
in, was doomed to the fate of many another; and the horror of
a second murder (but with far different provocation from the
first) averted from the illustrious family to whom was still
destined the glory of consolidating the country it had formed.
Two brothers named Blansaart, and one Parthy, having procured a
considerable sum of money from the leading conspirators, repaired
to The Hague, as they asserted, for the purpose of betraying the
plot; but they were forestalled in this purpose: four of the
sailors had gone out to Ryswyk the preceding evening, and laid the
whole of the project, together with the wages of their intended
crime, before the prince; who, it would appear, then occupied the
ancient chateau, which no longer exists at Ryswyk. The box of arms
was found in the place pointed out by the informers, and measures
were instantly taken to arrest the various accomplices. Several
were seized. Groeneveld had escaped along the coast disguised as
a fisherman, and had nearly effected his passage to England,
when he was recognized and arrested in the island of Vlieland.
Slatius and others were also intercepted in their attempts at
escape.--Stoutenbourg, the most culpable of all, was the most
fortunate; probably from the energy of character which marks
the difference between a bold adventurer and a timid speculator.
He is believed to have passed from The Hague in the same manner
as Grotius quitted his prison; and, by the aid of a faithful
servant, he accomplished his escape through various perils, and
finally reached Brussels, where the archduchess Isabella took him
under her special protection. He for several years made efforts to
be allowed to return to Holland; but finding them hopeless, even
after the death of Maurice, he embraced the Catholic religion, and
obtained the command of a troop of Spanish cavalry, at the head
of which he made incursions into his native country, carrying
before him a black flag with the effigy of a death's head, to
announce the mournful vengeance which he came to execute.

Fifteen persons were executed for the conspiracy. If ever mercy
was becoming to a man, it would have been pre-eminently so to
Maurice on this occasion; but he was inflexible as adamant. The
mother, the wife, and the son of Groeneveld, threw themselves at
his feet, imploring pardon. Prayers, tears and sobs were alike
ineffectual. It is even said that Maurice asked the wretched
mother "why she begged mercy for her son, having refused to do
as much for her husband?" To which cruel question she is reported
to have made the sublime answer--"Because my son is guilty, and
my husband was not."

These bloody executions caused a deep sentiment of gloom. The
conspiracy excited more pity for the victims than horror for the
intended crime. Maurice, from being the idol of his countrymen, was
now become an object of their fear and dislike. When he moved from
town to town, the people no longer hailed him with acclamations; and
even the common tokens of outward respect were at times withheld. The
Spaniards, taking advantage of the internal weakness consequent on
this state of public feeling in the States, made repeated incursions
into the provinces, which were now united but in title, not in
spirit. Spinola was once more in the field, and had invested the
important town of Breda, which was the patrimonial inheritance
of the princes of Orange. Maurice was oppressed with anxiety
and regret; and, for the sake of his better feelings, it may be
hoped, with remorse. He could effect nothing against his rival;
and he saw his own laurels withering from his careworn brow. The
only hope left of obtaining the so much wanted supplies of money
was in the completion of a new treaty with France and England.
Cardinal Richelieu, desirous of setting bounds to the ambition
and the successes of the House of Austria, readily came into
the views of the States; and an obligation for a loan of one
million two hundred thousand livres during the year 1624, and one
million more for each of the two succeeding years, was granted
by the king of France, on condition that the republic made no
new truce with Spain without his mediation.

An alliance nearly similar was at the same time concluded with
England. Perpetual quarrels on commercial questions loosened
the ties which bound the States to their ancient allies. The
failure of his son's intended marriage with the infanta of Spain
had opened the eyes of King James to the way in which he was
despised by those who seemed so much to respect him. He was highly
indignant; and he undertook to revenge himself by aiding the
republic. He agreed to furnish six thousand men, and supply the
funds for their pay, with a provision for repayment by the States
at the conclusion of a peace with Spain.

Prince Maurice had no opportunity of reaping the expected advantages
from these treaties. Baffled in all his efforts for relieving
Breda, and being unsuccessful in a new attempt upon Antwerp,
he returned to The Hague, where a lingering illness, that had
for some time exhausted him, terminated in his death on the 23d
of April, 1625, in his fifty-ninth year. Most writers attribute
this event to agitation at being unable to relieve Breda from
the attack of Spinola. It is in any case absurd to suppose that
the loss of a single town could have produced so fatal an effect
on one whose life had been an almost continual game of the chances
of war. But cause enough for Maurice's death may be found in the
wearing effects of thirty years of active military service, and
the more wasting ravages of half as many of domestic despotism.



A.D. 1625--1648

Frederick Henry succeeded to almost all his brother's titles and
employments, and found his new dignities clogged with an accumulation
of difficulties sufficient to appall the most determined spirit.
Everything seemed to justify alarm and despondency. If the affairs
of the republic in India wore an aspect of prosperity, those in
Europe presented a picture of past disaster and approaching peril.
Disunion and discontent, an almost insupportable weight of taxation,
and the disputes of which it was the fruitful source, formed
the subjects of internal ill. Abroad was to be seen navigation
harassed and trammelled by the pirates of Dunkirk; and the almost
defenceless frontiers of the republic exposed to the irruptions
of the enemy. The king of Denmark, who endeavored to make head
against the imperialist and Spanish forces, was beaten by Tilly,
and made to tremble for the safety of his own States. England did
nothing toward the common cause of Protestantism, in consequence
of the weakness of the monarch; and civil dissensions for a while
disabled France from resuming the system of Henry IV. for humbling
the House of Austria.

Frederick Henry was at this period in his forty-second year.
His military reputation was well established; he soon proved his
political talents. He commenced his career by a total change in
the tone of government on the subject of sectarian differences.
He exercised several acts of clemency in favor of the imprisoned
and exiled Arminians, at the same time that he upheld the dominant
religion. By these measures he conciliated all parties; and by
degrees the fierce spirit of intolerance became subdued. The foreign
relations of the United Provinces now presented the anomalous
policy of a fleet furnished by the French king, manned by rigid
Calvinists, and commanded by a grandson of Admiral Coligny, for
the purpose of combating the remainder of the French Huguenots,
whom they considered as brothers in religion, though political
foes; and during the joint expedition which was undertaken by the
allied French and Dutch troops against Rochelle, the stronghold
of Protestantism, the preachers of Holland put up prayers for the
protection of those whom their army was marching to destroy. The
states-general, ashamed of this unpopular union, recalled their
fleet, after some severe fighting with that of the Huguenots.
Cardinal Richelieu and the king of France were for a time furious
in their displeasure; but interests of state overpowered individual
resentments, and no rupture took place.

Charles I. had now succeeded his father on the English throne.
He renewed the treaty with the republic, which furnished him
with twenty ships to assist his own formidable fleet in his war
against Spain. Frederick Henry had, soon after his succession
to the chief command, commenced an active course of martial
operations, and was successful in almost all his enterprises.
He took Groll and several other towns; and it was hoped that
his successes would have been pushed forward upon a wider field
of action against the imperial arms; but the States prudently
resolved to act on the defensive by land, choosing the sea for
the theatre of their more active operations. All the hopes of a
powerful confederation against the emperor and the king of Spain
seemed frustrated by the war which now broke out between France
and England. The states-general contrived by great prudence to
maintain a strict neutrality in this quarrel. They even succeeded
in mediating a peace between the rival powers, which was concluded
the following year; and in the meantime they obtained a more
astonishing and important series of triumphs against the Spanish
fleets than had yet been witnessed in naval conflicts.

The West India Company had confided the command of their fleet to
Peter Hein, a most intrepid and intelligent sailor, who proved his
own merits, and the sagacity of his employers on many occasions,
two of them of an extraordinary nature. In 1627, he defeated a
fleet of twenty-six vessels, with a much inferior force. In the
following year, he had the still more brilliant good fortune,
near Havana, in the island of Cuba, in an engagement with the
great Spanish armament, called the Money Fleet, to indicate the
immense wealth which it contained. The booty was safely carried
to Amsterdam, and the whole of the treasure, in money, precious
stones, indigo, etc., was estimated at the value of twelve million
florins. This was indeed a victory worth gaining, won almost
without bloodshed, and raising the republic far above the manifold
difficulties by which it had been embarrassed. Hein perished
in the following year, in a combat with some of the pirates of
Dunkirk--those terrible freebooters whose name was a watchword
of terror during the whole continuance of the war.

The year 1629 brought three formidable armies at once to the
frontiers of the republic, and caused a general dismay all through
the United Provinces; but the immense treasures taken from the
Spaniards enabled them to make preparations suitable to the danger;
and Frederick Henry, supported by his cousin William of Nassau, his
natural brother Justin, and other brave and experienced officers,
defeated every effort of the enemy. He took many towns in rapid
succession; and finally forced the Spaniards to abandon all notion
of invading the territories of the republic. Deprived of the
powerful talents of Spinola, who was called to command the Spanish
troops in Italy, the armies of the archduchess, under the count
of Berg, were not able to cope with the genius of the Prince of
Orange. The consequence was the renewal of negotiations for a
second truce. But these were received on the part of the republic
with a burst of opposition. All parties seemed decided on that
point; and every interest, however opposed on minor questions,
combined to give a positive negative on this.

The gratitude of the country for the services of Frederick Henry
induced the provinces of which he was stadtholder to grant the
reversion in this title to his son, a child of three years old;
and this dignity had every chance of becoming as absolute, as it
was now pronounced almost hereditary, by the means of an army
of one hundred and twenty thousand men devoted to their chief.
However, few military occurrences took place, the sea being still
chosen as the element best suited to the present enterprises
of the republic. In the widely-distant settlements of Brazil
and Batavia, the Dutch were equally successful; and the East
and West India companies acquired eminent power and increasing

The year 1631 was signalized by an expedition into Flanders,
consisting of eighteen thousand men, intended against Dunkirk,
but hastily abandoned, in spite of every probability of success,
by the commissioners of the states-general, who accompanied the
army, and thwarted all the ardor and vigor of the Prince of Orange.
But another great naval victory in the narrow seas of Zealand
recompensed the disappointments of this inglorious affair.

The splendid victories of Augustus Adolphus against the imperial
arms in Germany changed the whole face of European affairs.
Protestantism began once more to raise its head; and the important
conquests by Frederick Henry of almost all the strong places
on the Meuse, including Maestricht, the strongest of all, gave
the United Provinces their ample share in the glories of the
war. The death of the archduchess Isabella, which took place at
Brussels in the year 1633, added considerably to the difficulties
of Spain in the Belgian provinces. The defection of the count
of Berg, the chief general of their armies, who was actuated
by resentment on the appointment of the marquis of St. Croix
over his head, threw everything into confusion, in exposing a
widespread confederacy among the nobility of these provinces
to erect themselves into an independent republic, strengthened
by a perpetual alliance with the United Provinces against the
power of Spain. But the plot failed, chiefly, it is said, by
the imprudence of the king of England, who let the secret slip,
from some motives vaguely hinted at, but never sufficiently
explained. After the death of Isabella, the prince of Brabancon
was arrested. The prince of Epinoi and the duke of Burnonville
made their escape; and the duke of Arschot, who was arrested in
Spain, was soon liberated, in consideration of some discoveries
into the nature of the plot. An armistice, published in 1634,
threw this whole affair into complete oblivion.

The king of Spain appointed his brother Ferdinand, a cardinal
and archbishop of Toledo, to the dignity of governor-general of
the Netherlands. He repaired to Germany at the head of seventeen
thousand men, and bore his share in the victory of Nordlingen;
after which he hastened to the Netherlands, and made his entry
into Brussels in 1634. Richelieu had hitherto only combated the
house of Austria in these countries by negotiation and intrigue;
but he now entered warmly into the proposals made by Holland for
a treaty offensive and defensive between Louis XIII. and the
republic. By a treaty soon after concluded (February 8, 1635)
the king of France engaged to invade the Belgian provinces with
an army of thirty thousand men, in concert with a Dutch force
of equal number. It was agreed that if Belgium would consent
to break from the Spanish yoke it was to be erected into a free
state; if, on the contrary, it would not co-operate for its own
freedom, France and Holland were to dismember, and to divide
it equally.

The plan of these combined measures was soon acted on. The French
army took the field under the command of the marshals De Chatillon
and De Breeze; and defeated the Spaniards in a bloody battle,
near Avein, in the province of Luxemburg, on the 20th of May,
1635, with the loss of four thousand men. The victors soon made
a junction with the Prince of Orange; and the towns of Tirlemont,
St. Trond, and some others, were quickly reduced. The former of
these places was taken by assault, and pillaged with circumstances
of cruelty that recall the horrors of the early transactions of
the war. The Prince of Orange was forced to punish severely the
authors of these offences. The consequences of this event were
highly injurious to the allies. A spirit of fierce resistance was
excited throughout the invaded provinces. Louvain set the first
example. The citizens and students took arms for its defence; and
the combined forces of France and Holland were repulsed, and forced
by want of supplies to abandon the siege, and rapidly retreat. The
prince-cardinal, as Ferdinand was called, took advantage of this
reverse to press the retiring French; recovered several towns;
and gained all the advantages as well as glory of the campaign.
The remains of the French army, reduced by continual combats,
and still more by sickness, finally embarked at Rotterdam, to
return to France in the ensuing spring, a sad contrast to its
brilliant appearance at the commencement of the campaign.

The military events for several ensuing years present nothing
of sufficient interest to induce us to record them in detail. A
perpetual succession of sieges and skirmishes afford a monotonous
picture of isolated courage and skill; but we see none of those
great conflicts which bring out the genius of opposing generals, and
show war in its grand results, as the decisive means of enslaving
or emancipating mankind. The prince-cardinal, one of the many who
on this bloody theatre displayed consummate military talents,
incessantly employed himself in incursions into the bordering
provinces of France, ravaged Picardy, and filled Paris with fear
and trembling. He, however, reaped no new laurels when he came
into contact with Frederick Henry, who, on almost every occasion,
particularly that of the siege of Breda, in 1637, carried his object
in spite of all opposition. The triumphs of war were balanced; but
Spain and the Belgian provinces, so long upheld by the talent
of the governor-general, were gradually become exhausted. The
revolution in Portugal, and the succession of the duke of Braganza,
under the title of John IV., to the throne of his ancestors,
struck a fatal blow to the power of Spain. A strict alliance
was concluded between the new monarch of France and Holland; and
hostilities against the common enemy were on all sides vigorously

The successes of the republic at sea and in their distant enterprises
were continual, and in some instances brilliant. Brazil was gradually
falling into the power of the West India Company. The East India
possessions were secure. The great victory of Van Tromp, known
by the name of the battle of the Downs, from being fought off
the coast of England, on the 21st of October, 1639, raised the
naval reputation of Holland as high as it could well be carried.
Fifty ships taken, burned, and sunk, were the proofs of their
admiral's triumph; and the Spanish navy never recovered the loss.
The victory was celebrated throughout Europe, and Van Tromp was
the hero of the day. The king of England was, however, highly
indignant at the hardihood with which the Dutch admiral broke
through the etiquette of territorial respect, and destroyed his
country's bitter foes under the very sanction of English neutrality.
But the subjects of Charles I. did not partake their monarch's
feelings. They had no sympathy with arbitrary and tyrannic
government; and their joy at the misfortune of their old enemies
the Spaniards gave a fair warning of the spirit which afterward
proved so fatal to the infatuated king, who on this occasion
would have protected and aided them.

In an unsuccessful enterprise in Flanders, Count Henry Casimir
of Nassau was mortally wounded, adding another to the list of
those of that illustrious family whose lives were lost in the
service of their country. His brother, Count William Frederick,
succeeded him in his office of stadtholder of Friesland; but the
same dignity in the provinces of Groningen and Drent devolved
on the Prince of Orange. The latter had conceived the desire of a
royal alliance for his son William. Charles I. readily assented
to the proposal of the states-general that this young prince
should receive the hand of his daughter Mary. Embassies were
exchanged; the conditions of the contract agreed on; but it was
not till two years later that Van Tromp, with an escort of twenty
ships, conducted the princess, then twelve years old, to the
country of her future husband. The republic did not view with an
eye quite favorable this advancing aggrandizement of the House
of Orange. Frederick Henry had shortly before been dignified by
the king of France, at the suggestion of Richelieu, with the
title of "highness," instead of the inferior one of "excellency";
and the states-general, jealous of this distinction granted to
their chief magistrate, adopted for themselves the sounding
appellation of "high and mighty lords." The Prince of Orange,
whatever might have been his private views of ambition, had however
the prudence to silence all suspicion, by the mild and moderate
use which he made of the power, which he might perhaps have wished
to increase, but never attempted to abuse.

On the 9th of November, 1641, the prince-cardinal Ferdinand died
at Brussels in his thirty-third year; another instance of those
who were cut off, in the very vigor of manhood, from worldly
dignities and the exercise of the painful and inauspicious duties
of governor-general of the Netherlands. Don Francisco de Mello, a
nobleman of highly reputed talents, was the next who obtained this
onerous situation. He commenced his governorship by a succession of
military operations, by which, like most of his predecessors, he
is alone distinguished. Acts of civil administration are scarcely
noticed by the historians of these men. Not one of them, with
the exception of the archduke Albert, seems to have valued the
internal interests of the government; and he alone, perhaps,
because they were declared and secured as his own. De Mello,
after taking some towns, and defeating the marshal De Guiche in
the battle of Hannecourt, tarnished all his fame by the great
faults which he committed in the famous battle of Rocroy. The
duke of Enghien, then twenty-one years of age, and subsequently
so celebrated as the great Condé, completely defeated De Mello,
and nearly annihilated the Spanish and Walloon infantry. The
military operations of the Dutch army were this year only remarkable
by the gallant conduct of Prince William, son of the Prince of
Orange, who, not yet seventeen years of age, defeated, near Hulst,
under the eyes of his father, a Spanish detachment in a very
warm skirmish.

Considerable changes were now insensibly operating in the policy
of Europe. Cardinal Richelieu had finished his dazzling but
tempestuous career of government, in which the hand of death
arrested him on the 4th of December, 1642. Louis XIII. soon followed
to the grave him who was rather his master than his minister. Anne
of Austria was declared regent during the minority of her son,
Louis XIV., then only five years of age; and Cardinal Mazarin
succeeded to the station from which death alone had power to
remove his predecessor.

The civil wars in England now broke out, and their terrible results
seemed to promise to the republic the undisturbed sovereignty of
the seas. The Prince of Orange received with great distinction
the mother-in-law of his son, when she came to Holland under
pretext of conducting her daughter; but her principal purpose was
to obtain, by the sale of the crown jewels and the assistance of
Frederick Henry, funds for the supply of her unfortunate husband's

The prince and several private individuals contributed largely
in money; and several experienced officers passed over to serve
in the royalist army of England. The provincial states of Holland,
however, sympathizing wholly with the parliament, remonstrated
with the stadtholder; and the Dutch colonists encouraged the
hostile efforts of their brethren, the Puritans of Scotland,
by all the absurd exhortations of fanatic zeal. Boswell, the
English resident in the name of the king, and Strickland, the
ambassador from the parliament, kept up a constant succession
of complaints and remonstrances on occasion of every incident
which seemed to balance the conduct of the republic in the great
question of English politics. Considerable differences existed:
the province of Holland, and some others, leaned toward the
parliament; the Prince of Orange favored the king; and the
states-general endeavored to maintain a neutrality.

The struggle was still furiously maintained in Germany. Generals
of the first order of military talent were continually appearing,
and successively eclipsing each other by their brilliant actions.
Gustavus Adolphus was killed in the midst of his glorious career,
at the battle of Lutzen; the duke of Weimar succeeded to his
command, and proved himself worthy of the place; Tilly and the
celebrated Wallenstein were no longer on the scene. The emperor
Ferdinand II. was dead, and his son Ferdinand III. saw his victorious
enemies threaten, at last, the existence of the empire. Everything
tended to make peace necessary to some of the contending powers,
as it was at length desirable for all. Sweden and Denmark were
engaged in a bloody and wasteful conflict. The United Provinces
sent an embassy, in the month of June, 1644, to each of those
powers; and by a vigorous demonstration of their resolution to
assist Sweden, if Denmark proved refractory, a peace was signed
the following year, which terminated the disputes of the rival

Negotiations were now opened at Munster between the several
belligerents. The republic was, however, the last to send its
plenipotentiaries there; having signed anew treaty with France,
by which they mutually stipulated to make no peace independent
of each other. It behooved the republic, however, to contribute
as much as possible toward the general object; for, among other
strong motives to that line of conduct, the finances of Holland
were in a state perfectly deplorable.

Every year brought the necessity of a new loan; and the public
debt of the provinces now amounted to one hundred and fifty million
florins, bearing interest at six and a quarter per cent. Considerable
alarm was excited at the progress of the French army in the Belgian
provinces; and escape from the tyranny of Spain seemed only to
lead to the danger of submission to a nation too powerful and
too close at hand not to be dangerous, either as a foe or an
ally. These fears were increased by the knowledge that Cardinal
Mazarin projected a marriage between Louis XIV. and the infanta
of Spain, with the Belgian provinces, or Spanish Netherlands as
they were now called, for her marriage portion. This project
was confided to the Prince of Orange, under the seal of secrecy,
and he was offered the marquisate of Antwerp as the price of
his influence toward effecting the plan. The prince revealed
the whole to the states-general. Great fermentation was excited;
the stadtholder himself was blamed, and suspected of complicity
with the designs of the cardinal. Frederick Henry was deeply
hurt at this want of confidence, and the injurious publications
which openly assailed his honor in a point where he felt himself
entitled to praise instead of suspicion.

The French labored to remove the impression which this affair
excited in the republic; but the states-general felt themselves
justified by the intriguing policy of Mazarin in entering into
a secret negotiation with the king of Spain, who offered very
favorable conditions. The negotiations were considerably advanced
by the marked disposition evinced by the Prince of Orange to
hasten the establishment of peace. Yet, at this very period, and
while anxiously wishing this great object, he could not resist
the desire for another campaign; one more exploit, to signalize
the epoch at which he finally placed his sword in the scabbard.

Frederick Henry was essentially a soldier, with all the spirit
of his race; and this evidence of the ruling passion, while he
touched the verge of the grave, is one of the most striking points
of his character. He accordingly took the field; but, with a
constitution broken by a lingering disease, he was little fitted
to accomplish any feat worthy of his splendid reputation. He failed
in an attempt on Venlo, and another on Antwerp, and retired to The
Hague, where for some months he rapidly declined. On the 14th of
March, 1647, he expired, in his sixty-third year; leaving behind
him a character of unblemished integrity, prudence, toleration,
and valor. He was not of that impetuous stamp which leads men
to heroic deeds, and brings danger to the states whose liberty
is compromised by their ambition. He was a striking contrast to
his brother Maurice, and more resembled his father in many of
those calmer qualities of the mind, which make men more beloved
without lessening their claims to admiration. Frederick Henry had
the honor of completing the glorious task which William began
and Maurice followed up. He saw the oppression they had combated
now humbled and overthrown; and he forms the third in a sequence
of family renown, the most surprising and the least checkered
afforded by the annals of Europe.

William II. succeeded his father in his dignities; and his ardent
spirit longed to rival him in war. He turned his endeavors to
thwart all the efforts for peace. But the interests of the nation
and the dying wishes of Frederick Henry were of too powerful
influence with the states, to be overcome by the martial yearnings
of an inexperienced youth. The negotiations were pressed forward;
and, despite the complaints, the murmurs, and the intrigues of
France, the treaty of Munster was finally signed by the respective
ambassadors of the United Provinces and Spain, on the 30th of
January, 1648. This celebrated treaty contains seventy-nine articles.
Three points were of main and vital importance to the republic:
the first acknowledges an ample and entire recognition of the
sovereignty of the states-general, and a renunciation forever of
all claims on the part of Spain; the second confirms the rights
of trade and navigation in the East and West Indies, with the
possession of the various countries and stations then actually
occupied by the contracting powers; the third guarantees a like
possession of all the provinces and towns of the Netherlands, as
they then stood in their respective occupation--a clause highly
favorable to the republic, which had conquered several considerable
places in Brabant and Flanders. The ratifications of the treaty
were exchanged at Munster with great solemnity on the 15th of
May following the signature; the peace was published in that
town and in Osnaburg on the 19th, and in all the different states
of the king of Spain and the United Provinces as soon as the
joyous intelligence could reach such various and widely separated
destinations. Thus after eighty years of unparalleled warfare,
only interrupted by the truce of 1609, during which hostilities
had not ceased in the Indies, the new republic rose from the
horrors of civil war and foreign tyranny to its uncontested rank
as a free and independent state among the most powerful nations
of Europe. No country had ever done more for glory; and the result
of its efforts was the irrevocable guarantee of civil and religious
liberty, the great aim and end of civilization.

The king of France alone had reason to complain of this treaty:
his resentment was strongly pronounced. But the United Provinces
flung back the reproaches of his ambassador on Cardinal Mazarin;
and the anger of the monarch was smothered by the policy of the

The internal tranquillity of the republic was secured from all
future alarm by the conclusion of the general peace of Westphalia,
definitively signed on the 24th of October, 1648. This treaty was
long considered not only as the fundamental law of the empire,
but as the basis of the political system of Europe. As numbers of
conflicting interests were reconciled, Germanic liberty secured,
and a just equilibrium established between the Catholics and
Protestants, France and Sweden obtained great advantages; and
the various princes of the empire saw their possessions regulated
and secured, at the same time that the powers of the emperor
were strictly defined.

This great epoch in European history naturally marks the conclusion
of another in that of the Netherlands; and this period of general
repose allows a brief consideration of the progress of arts,
sciences, and manners, during the half century just now completed.

The archdukes Albert and Isabella, during the whole course of
their sovereignty, labored to remedy the abuses which had crowded
the administration of justice. The Perpetual Edict, in 1611,
regulated the form of judicial proceedings; and several provinces
received new charters, by which the privileges of the people were
placed on a footing in harmony with their wants. Anarchy, in short,
gave place to regular government; and the archdukes, in swearing
to maintain the celebrated pact known by the name of the Joyeuse
Entree, did all in their power to satisfy their subjects, while
securing their own authority. The piety of the archdukes gave an
example to all classes. This, although degenerating in the vulgar
to superstition and bigotry, formed a severe check, which allowed
their rulers to restrain popular excesses, and enabled them in
the internal quiet of their despotism to soften the people by
the encouragement of the sciences and arts. Medicine, astronomy,
and mathematics, made prodigious progress during this epoch.
Several eminent men flourished in the Netherlands. But the glory
of others, in countries presenting a wider theatre for their
renown, in many instances eclipsed them; and the inventors of
new methods and systems in anatomy, optics and music were almost
forgotten in the splendid improvements of their followers.

In literature, Hugo de Groot, or Grotius (his Latinized name,
by which he is better known), was the most brilliant star of his
country or his age, as Erasmus was of that which preceded. He was
at once eminent as jurist, poet, theologian, and historian. His
erudition was immense; and he brought it to bear in his political
capacity, as ambassador from Sweden to the court of France, when
the violence of party and the injustice of power condemned him
to perpetual imprisonment in his native land. The religious
disputations in Holland had given a great impulse to talent.
They were not mere theological arguments; but with the wild and
furious abstractions of bigotry were often blended various
illustrations from history, art, and science, and a tone of keen
and delicate satire, which at once refined and made them readable.
It is remarkable that almost the whole of the Latin writings of
this period abound in good taste, while those written in the
vulgar tongue are chiefly coarse and trivial. Vondel and Hooft,
the great poets of the time, wrote with genius and energy, but
were deficient in judgment founded on good taste. The latter
of these writers was also distinguished for his prose works;
in honor of which Louis XIII. dignified him with letters patent
of nobility, and decorated him with the order of St. Michael.

But while Holland was more particularly distinguished by the
progress of the mechanical arts, to which Prince Maurice afforded
unbounded patronage, the Belgian provinces gave birth to that
galaxy of genius in the art of painting, which no equal period
of any other country has ever rivalled. A volume like this would
scarcely suffice to do justice to the merits of the eminent artists
who now flourished in Belgium; at once founding, perfecting, and
immortalizing the Flemish school of painting. Rubens, Vandyck,
Teniers, Crayer, Jordaens, Sneyders, and a host of other great
names, crowd on us with claims for notice that almost make the
mention of any an injustice to the rest. But Europe is familiar
with their fame; and the widespread taste for their delicious art
makes them independent of other record than the combination of
their own exquisite touch, undying tints, and unequalled knowledge
of nature. Engraving, carried at the same time to great perfection,
has multiplied some of the merits of the celebrated painters,
while stamping the reputation of its own professors. Sculpture,
also, had its votaries of considerable note. Among these, Des
Jardins and Quesnoy held the foremost station. Architecture also
produced some remarkable names.

The arts were, in short, never held in higher honor than at this
brilliant epoch. Otto Venire, the master of Rubens, held most
important employments. Rubens himself, appointed secretary to
the privy council of the archdukes, was subsequently sent to
England, where he negotiated the peace between that country and
Spain. The unfortunate King Charles so highly esteemed his merit
that he knighted him in full parliament, and presented him with the
diamond ring he wore on his own finger, and a chain enriched with
brilliants. David Teniers, the great pupil of this distinguished
master, met his due share of honor. He has left several portraits of
himself; one of which hands him down to posterity in the costume,
and with the decorations of the belt and key, which he wore in his
capacity of chamberlain to the archduke Leopold, governor-general
of the Spanish Netherlands.

The intestine disturbances of Holland during the twelve years'
truce, and the enterprises against Friesland and the duchy of
Cleves, had prevented that wise economy which was expected from
the republic. The annual ordinary cost of the military establishment
at that period amounted to thirteen million florins. To meet
the enormous expenses of the state, taxes were raised on every
material. They produced about thirty million florins a year,
independent of five million each for the East and West India
companies. The population in 1620, in Holland, was about six
hundred thousand, and the other provinces contained about the
same number.

It is singular to observe the fertile erections of monopoly in
a state founded on principles of commercial freedom. The East
and West India companies, the Greenland company, and others,
were successively formed. By the effect of their enterprise,
industry and wealth, conquests were made and colonies founded
with surprising rapidity. The town of Amsterdam, now New York,
was founded in 1624; and the East saw Batavia rise up from the
ruins of Jacatra, which was sacked and razed by the Dutch

The Dutch and English East India companies, repressing their
mutual jealousy, formed a species of partnership in 1619 for the
reciprocal enjoyment of the rights of commerce. But four years
later than this date an event took place so fatal to national
confidence that its impressions are scarcely yet effaced--this
was the torturing and execution of several Englishmen in the
island of Amboyna, on pretence of an unproved plot, of which every
probability leads to the belief that they were wholly innocent. This
circumstance was the strongest stimulant to the hatred so evident
in the bloody wars which not long afterward took place between
the two nations; and the lapse of two centuries has not entirely
effaced its effects. Much has been at various periods written
for and against the establishment of monopolizing companies,
by which individual wealth and skill are excluded from their
chances of reward. With reference to those of Holland at this
period of its history, it is sufficient to remark that the great
results of their formation could never have been brought about
by isolated enterprises; and the justice or wisdom of their
continuance are questions wholly dependent on the fluctuations
in trade, and the effects produced on that of any given country
by the progress and the rivalry of others.

With respect to the state of manners in the republic, it is clear
that the jealousies and emulation of commerce were not likely
to lessen the vice of avarice with which the natives have been
reproached. The following is a strong expression of one, who cannot,
however, be considered an unprejudiced observer, on occasion of
some disputed points between the Dutch and English maritime
tribunals--"The decisions of our courts cause much ill-will among
these people, whose hearts' blood is their purse."[5] While
drunkenness was a vice considered scarcely scandalous, the intrigues
of gallantry were concealed with the most scrupulous mystery--giving
evidence of at least good taste, if not of pure morality. Court
etiquette began to be of infinite importance. The wife of Count
Ernest Casimir of Nassau was so intent on the preservation of
her right of precedence that on occasion of Lady Carleton, the
British ambassadress, presuming to dispute the _pas_, she forgot
true dignity so far as to strike her. We may imagine the vehement
resentment of such a man as Carleton for such an outrage. The
lower orders of the people had the rude and brutal manners common
to half-civilized nations which fight their way to freedom. The
unfortunate king of Bohemia, when a refugee in Holland, was one
day hunting; and, in the heat of the chase, he followed his dogs,
which had pursued a hare, into a newly sown corn-field: he was
quickly interrupted by a couple of peasants armed with pitchforks.
He supposed his rank and person to be unknown to them; but he
was soon undeceived, and saluted with unceremonious reproaches.
"King of Bohemia! King of Bohemia!" shouted one of the boors,
"why do you trample on my wheat which I have so lately had the
trouble of sowing?" The king made many apologies, and retired,
throwing the whole blame on his dogs. But in the life of Marshal
Turenne we find a more marked trait of manners than this, which
might be paralleled in England at this day. This great general
served his apprenticeship in the art of war under his uncles, the
princes Maurice and Frederick Henry. He appeared one day on the
public walk at The Hague, dressed in his usual plain and modest
style. Some young French lords, covered with gold, embroidery, and
ribbons, met and accosted him: a mob gathered round; and while
treating Turenne, although unknown to them, with all possible
respect, they forced the others to retire, assailed with mockery
and the coarsest abuse.

[Footnote 5: Carleton.]

But one characteristic, more noble and worthy than any of those
thus briefly cited, was the full enjoyment of the liberty of
the press in the United Provinces. The thirst of gain, the fury
of faction, the federal independence of the minor towns, the
absolute power of Prince Maurice, all the combinations which
might carry weight against this grand principle, were totally
ineffectual to prevail over it. And the republic was, on this
point, proudly pre-eminent among surrounding nations.



A.D. 1648--1678

The completion of the peace of Munster opens a new scene in the
history of the republic. Its political system experienced
considerable changes. Its ancient enemies became its most ardent
friends, and its old allies loosened the bonds of long-continued
amity. The other states of Europe, displeased at its imperious
conduct, or jealous of its success, began to wish its humiliation;
but it was little thought that the consummation was to be effected
at the hands of England.

While Holland prepared to profit by the peace so brilliantly
gained, England, torn by civil war, was hurried on in crime and
misery to the final act which has left an indelible stain on her
annals. Cromwell and the parliament had completely subjugated
the kingdom. The unfortunate king, delivered up by the Scotch,
was brought to a mock trial, and condemned to an ignominious
death. Great as were his faults, they are almost lost sight of
in the atrocity of his opponents; so surely does disproportioned
punishment for political offences produce a reaction in the minds
that would approve a commensurate penalty. The United Provinces
had preserved a strict neutrality while the contest was undecided.
The Prince of Orange warmly strove to obtain a declaration in
favor of his father-in-law, Charles I. The Prince of Wales and
the Duke of York, his sons, who had taken refuge at The Hague,
earnestly joined in the entreaty; but all that could be obtained
from the states-general was their consent to an embassy to interpose
with the ferocious bigots who doomed the hapless monarch to the
block. Pauw and Joachimi, the one sixty-four years of age, the
other eighty-eight, the most able men of the republic, undertook
the task of mediation. They were scarcely listened to by the
parliament, and the bloody sacrifice took place.

The details of this event, and its immediate consequences, belong
to English history; and we must hurry over the brief, turbid,
and inglorious stadtholderate of William II., to arrive at the
more interesting contest between the republic which had honorably
conquered its freedom, and that of the rival commonwealth, which
had gained its power by hypocrisy, violence, and guilt.

William II. was now in his twenty-fourth year. He had early evinced
that heroic disposition which was common to his race. He panted
for military glory. All his pleasures were those usual to ardent
and high-spirited men, although his delicate constitution seemed
to forbid the indulgence of hunting, tennis, and the other violent
exercises in which he delighted. He was highly accomplished;
spoke five different languages with elegance and fluency, and
had made considerable progress in mathematics and other abstract
sciences. His ambition knew no bounds. Had he reigned over a
monarchy as absolute king, he would most probably have gone down
to posterity a conqueror and a hero. But, unfitted to direct a
republic as its first citizen, he has left but the name of a
rash and unconstitutional magistrate. From the moment of his
accession to power, he was made sensible of the jealousy and
suspicion with which his office and his character were observed
by the provincial states of Holland. Many instances of this
disposition were accumulated to his great disgust; and he was
not long in evincing his determination to brave all the odium
and reproach of despotic designs, and to risk everything for
the establishment of absolute power. The province of Holland,
arrogating to itself the greatest share in the reforms of the
army, and the financial arrangements called for by the transition
from war to peace, was soon in fierce opposition with the
states-general, which supported the prince in his early views.
Cornelius Bikker, one of the burgomasters of Amsterdam, was the
leading person in the states of Holland; and a circumstance soon
occurred which put him and the stadtholder in collision, and
quickly decided the great question at issue.

The admiral Cornellizon de Witt arrived from Brazil with the
remains of his fleet, and without the consent of the council of
regency there established by the states-general. He was instantly
arrested by order of the Prince of Orange, in his capacity of
high-admiral. The admiralty of Amsterdam was at the same time
ordered by the states-general to imprison six of the captains
of this fleet. The states of Holland maintained that this was a
violation of their provincial rights, and an illegal assumption
of power on the part of the states-general; and the magistrates
of Amsterdam forced the prison doors, and set the captains at
liberty. William, backed by the authority of the states-general,
now put himself at the head of a deputation from that body, and
made a rapid tour of visitation to the different chief towns of
the republic, to sound the depths of public opinion on the matters
in dispute. The deputation met with varied success; but the result
proved to the irritated prince that no measures of compromise were
to be expected, and that force alone was to arbitrate the question.
The army was to a man devoted to him. The states-general gave
him their entire, and somewhat servile, support. He, therefore,
on his own authority, arrested the six deputies of Holland, in
the same way that his uncle Maurice had seized on Barneveldt,
Grotius, and the others; and they were immediately conveyed to
the castle of Louvestein.

In adopting this bold and unauthorized measure, he decided on an
immediate attempt to gain possession of the city of Amsterdam,
the central point of opposition to his violent designs. William
Frederick, count of Nassau, stadtholder of Friesland, at the
head of a numerous detachment of troops, marched secretly and
by night to surprise the town; but the darkness and a violent
thunderstorm having caused the greater number to lose their way,
the count found himself at dawn at the city gates with a very
insufficient force; and had the further mortification to see the
walls well manned, the cannon pointed, the draw-bridges raised,
and everything in a state of defence. The courier from Hamburg,
who had passed through the scattered bands of soldiers during the
night, had given the alarm. The first notion was that a roving
band of Swedish or Lorraine troops, attracted by the opulence
of Amsterdam, had resolved on an attempt to seize and pillage
it. The magistrates could scarcely credit the evidence of day,
which showed them the count of Nassau and his force on their
hostile mission. A short conference with the deputies from the
citizens convinced him that a speedy retreat was the only measure
of safety for himself and his force, as the sluices of the dikes
were in part opened, and a threat of submerging the intended
assailants only required a moment more to be enforced.

Nothing could exceed the disappointment and irritation of the
Prince of Orange consequent on this transaction. He at first
threatened, then negotiated, and finally patched up the matter in
a mariner the least mortifying to his wounded pride. Bikker nobly
offered himself for a peace-offering, and voluntarily resigned
his employments in the city he had saved; and De Witt and his
officers were released. William was in some measure consoled for
his disgrace by the condolence of the army, the thanks of the
province of Zealand, and a new treaty with France, strengthened by
promises of future support from Cardinal Mazarin; but, before he
could profit by these encouraging symptoms, domestic and foreign,
a premature death cut short all his projects of ambition.
Over-violent exercise in a shooting party in Guelders brought
on a fever, which soon terminated in an attack of smallpox. On
the first appearance of his illness, he was removed to The Hague;
and he died there on the 6th of November, 1650, aged twenty-four
years and six months.

The death of this prince left the state without a stadtholder,
and the army without a chief. The whole of Europe shared more or
less in the joy or the regret it caused. The republican party,
both in Holland and in England, rejoiced in a circumstance which
threw back the sovereign power into the hands of the nation;
the partisans of the House of Orange deeply lamented the event.
But the birth of a son, of which the widowed princess of Orange
was delivered within a week of her husbands death, revived the
hopes of those who mourned his loss, and offered her the only
consolation which could assuage her grief. This child was, however,
the innocent cause of a breach between his mother and grandmother,
the dowager-princess, who had never been cordially attached to
each other. Each claimed the guardianship of the young prince;
and the dispute was at length decided by the states, who adjudged
the important office to the elector of Brandenburg and the two
princesses jointly. The states of Holland soon exercised their
influence on the other provinces. Many of the prerogatives of
the stadtholder were now assumed by the people; and, with the
exception of Zealand, which made an ineffectual attempt to name
the infant prince to the dignity of his ancestors under the title
of William III., a perfect unanimity seemed to have reconciled
all opposing interests. The various towns secured the privileges
of appointing their own magistrates, and the direction of the
army and navy devolved to the states-general.

The time was now arrived when the wisdom, the courage, and the
resources of the republic were to be put once more to the test,
in a contest hitherto without example, and never since equalled in
its nature. The naval wars between Holland and England had their
real source in the inveterate jealousies and unbounded ambition
of both countries, reciprocally convinced that a joint supremacy
at sea was incompatible with their interests and their honor, and
each resolved to risk everything for their mutual pretensions--to
perish rather than yield. The United Provinces were assuredly
not the aggressors in this quarrel. They had made sure of their
capability to meet it, by the settlement of all questions of
internal government, and the solid peace which secured them against
any attack on the part of their old and inveterate enemy; but they
did not seek a rupture. They at first endeavored to ward off the
threatened danger by every effort of conciliation; and they met,
with temperate management, even the advances made by Cromwell, at
the instigation of St. John, the chief justice, for a proposed,
yet impracticable coalition between the two republics, which was
to make them one and indivisible. An embassy to The Hague, with
St. John and Strickland at its head, was received with all public
honors; but the partisans of the families of Orange and Stuart,
and the populace generally, openly insulted the ambassadors.
About the same time Dorislas, a Dutchman naturalized in England,
and sent on a mission from the parliament, was murdered at The
Hague by some Scotch officers, friends of the banished king;
the massacre of Amboyna, thirty years before, was made a cause of
revived complaint; and altogether a sum of injuries was easily
made up to turn the proposed fantastic coalition into a fierce
and bloody war.

The parliament of England soon found a pretext in an outrageous
measure, under pretence of providing for the interests of commerce.
They passed the celebrated act of navigation, which prohibited all
nations from importing into England in their ships any commodity
which was not the growth and manufacture of their own country.
This law, though worded generally, was aimed directly at the
Dutch, who were the general factors and carriers of Europe. Ships
were seized, reprisals made, the mockery of negotiation carried
on, fleets equipped, and at length the war broke out.

In the month of May, 1652, the Dutch admiral, Tromp, commanding
forty-two ships of war, met with the English fleet under Blake
in the Straits of Dover; the latter, though much inferior in
number, gave a signal to the Dutch admiral to strike, the usual
salutation of honor accorded to the English during the monarchy.
Totally different versions have been given by the two admirals of
what followed. Blake insisted that Tromp, instead of complying,
fired a broadside at his vessel; Tromp stated that a second and
a third bullet were sent promptly from the British ship while
he was preparing to obey the admiral's claim. The discharge of
the first broadside is also a matter of contradiction, and of
course of doubt. But it is of small consequence; for whether
hostilities had been hurried on or delayed, they were ultimately
inevitable. A bloody battle began: it lasted five hours. The
inferiority in number on the side of the English was balanced
by the larger size of their ships. One Dutch vessel was sunk;
another taken; and night parted the combatants.

The states-general heard the news with consternation: they despatched
the grand pensionary Pauw on a special embassy to London. The
imperious parliament would hear of neither reason nor remonstrance.
Right or wrong, they were resolved on war. Blake was soon at
sea again with a numerous fleet; Tromp followed with a hundred
ships; but a violent tempest separated these furious enemies,
and retarded for a while the rencounter they mutually longed
for. On the 16th of August a battle took place between Sir George
Ayscue and the renowned De Ruyter, near Plymouth, each with about
forty ships; but with no decisive consequences. On the 28th of
October, Blake, aided by Bourn and Pen, met a Dutch squadron
of nearly equal force off the coast of Kent, under De Ruyter
and De Witt. The fight which followed was also severe, but not
decisive, though the Dutch had the worst of the day. In the
Mediterranean, the Dutch admiral Van Galen defeated the English
captain Baddely, but bought the victory with his life. And, on
the 29th of November, another bloody conflict took place between
Blake and Tromp, seconded by De Ruyter, near the Goodwin Sands.
In this determined action Blake was wounded and defeated; five
English ships, taken, burned, or sunk; and night saved the fleet
from destruction. After this victory Tromp placed a broom at
his masthead, as if to intimate that he would sweep the Channel
free of all English ships.

Great preparations were made in England to recover this disgrace;
eighty sail put to sea under Blake, Dean, and Monk, so celebrated
subsequently as the restorer of the monarchy. Tromp and De Ruyter,
with seventy-six vessels, were descried on the 18th of February,
escorting three hundred merchantmen up Channel. Three days of
desperate fighting ended in the defeat of the Dutch, who lost
ten ships of war and twenty-four merchant vessels. Several of
the English ships were disabled, one sunk; and the carnage on
both sides was nearly equal. Tromp acquired prodigious honor
by this battle; having succeeded, though defeated, in saving,
as has been seen, almost the whole of his immense convoy. On
the 12th of June and the day following two other actions were
fought: in the first of which the English admiral Dean was killed;
in the second, Monk, Pen, and Lawson amply revenged his death
by forcing the Dutch to regain their harbors with great loss.

The 21st of July was the last of these bloody and obstinate conflicts
for superiority. Tromp issued out once more, determined to conquer
or die. He met the enemy off Scheveling, commanded by Monk. Both
fleets rushed to the combat. The heroic Dutchman, animating his
sailors with his sword drawn, was shot through the heart with a
musket-ball. This event, and this alone, won the battle, which
was the most decisive of the whole war. The enemy captured or sunk
nearly thirty ships. The body of Tromp was carried with great
solemnity to the church of Delft, where a magnificent mausoleum was
erected over the remains of this eminently brave and distinguished

This memorable defeat, and the death of this great naval hero,
added to the injury done to their trade, induced the states-general
to seek terms from their too powerful enemy. The want of peace
was felt throughout the whole country. Cromwell was not averse to
grant it; but he insisted on conditions every way disadvantageous
and humiliating. He had revived his chimerical scheme of a total
conjunction of government, privileges, and interests between
the two republics. This was firmly rejected by John de Witt,
now grand pensionary of Holland, and by the States under his
influence. But the Dutch consented to a defensive league; to
punish the survivors of those concerned in the massacre of Amboyna;
to pay nine thousand pounds of indemnity for vessels seized in
the Sound, five thousand pounds for the affair of Amboyna, and
eighty-five thousand pounds to the English East India Company,
to cede to them the island of Polerone in the East; to yield
the honor of the national flag to the English; and, finally,
that neither the young Prince of Orange nor any of his family
should ever be invested with the dignity of stadtholder. These
two latter conditions were certainly degrading to Holland; and
the conditions of the treaty prove that an absurd point of honor
was the only real cause for the short but bloody and ruinous war
which plunged the Provinces into overwhelming difficulties.

For several years after the conclusion of this inglorious peace,
universal discontent and dissension spread throughout the republic.
The supporters of the House of Orange, and every impartial friend
of the national honor, were indignant at the act of exclusion.
Murmurs and revolts broke out in several towns; and all was once
more tumult, agitation, and doubt. No event of considerable
importance marks particularly this epoch of domestic trouble.
A new war was at last pronounced inevitable, and was the means
of appeasing the distractions of the people, and reconciling by
degrees contending parties. Denmark, the ancient ally of the
republic, was threatened with destruction by Charles Gustavus,
king of Sweden, who held Copenhagen in blockade. The interests
of Holland were in imminent peril should the Swedes gain the
passage of the Sound. This double motive influenced De Witt;
and he persuaded the states-general to send Admiral Opdam with
a considerable fleet to the Baltic. This intrepid successor of
the immortal Tromp soon came to blows with a rival worthy to
meet him. Wrangel, the Swedish admiral, with a superior force,
defended the passage of the Sound; and the two castles of Cronenberg
and Elsenberg supported his fleet with their tremendous fire.
But Opdam resolutely advanced; though suffering extreme anguish
from an attack of gout, he had himself carried on deck, where he
gave his orders with the most admirable coolness and precision,
in the midst of danger and carnage. The rival monarchs witnessed
the battle; the king of Sweden from the castle of Cronenberg,
and the king of Denmark from the summit of the highest tower in
his besieged capital. A brilliant victory crowned the efforts
of the Dutch admiral, dearly bought by the death of his second in
command, the brave De Witt, and Peter Florizon, another admiral
of note. Relief was poured into Copenhagen. Opdam was replaced
in the command, too arduous for his infirmities, by the still
more celebrated De Ruyter, who was greatly distinguished by his
valor in several successive affairs: and after some months more
of useless obstinacy, the king of Sweden, seeing his army perish
in the island of Funen, by a combined attack of those of Holland
and Denmark, consented to a peace highly favorable to the latter

These transactions placed the United Provinces on a still higher
pinnacle of glory than they had ever reached. Intestine disputes
were suddenly calmed. The Algerines and other pirates were swept
from the seas by a succession of small but vigorous expeditions.
The mediation of the States re-established peace in several of
the petty states of Germany. England and France were both held
in check, if not preserved in friendship, by the dread of their
recovered power. Trade and finance were reorganized. Everything
seemed to promise a long-continued peace and growing greatness,
much of which was owing to the talents and persevering energy of
De Witt; and, to complete the good work of European tranquillity,
the French and Spanish monarchs concluded in this year the treaty
known by the name of the "peace of the Pyrenees."

Cromwell had now closed his career, and Charles II. was restored
to the throne from which he had so long been excluded. The
complimentary entertainments rendered to the restored king in
Holland were on the proudest scale of expense. He left the country
which had given him refuge in misfortune, and done him honor in
his prosperity, with profuse expressions of regard and gratitude.
Scarcely was he established in his recovered kingdom, when a still
greater testimony of deference to his wishes was paid, by the
states-general formally annulling the act of exclusion against
the House of Orange. A variety of motives, however, acting on the
easy and plastic mind of the monarch, soon effaced whatever of
gratitude he had at first conceived. He readily entered into the
views of the English nation, which was irritated by the great
commercial superiority of Holland, and a jealousy excited by
its close connection with France at this period.

It was not till the 22d of February, 1665, that war was formally
declared against the Dutch; but many previous acts of hostility
had taken place in expeditions against their settlements on the
coast of Africa and in America, which were retaliated by De Ruyter
with vigor and success. The Dutch used every possible means of
avoiding the last extremities. De Witt employed all the powers
of his great capacity to avert the evil of war; but nothing could
finally prevent it, and the sea was once more to witness the
conflict between those who claimed its sovereignty. A great battle
was fought on the 31st of June. The duke of York, afterward James
II., commanded the British fleet, and had under him the earl of
Sandwich and Prince Rupert. The Dutch were led on by Opdam; and
the victory was decided in favor of the English by the blowing
up of that admiral's ship, with himself and his whole crew. The
loss of the Dutch was altogether nineteen ships. De Witt the
pensionary then took in person the command of the fleet, which
was soon equipped; and he gave a high proof of the adaptation of
genius to a pursuit previously unknown, by the rapid knowledge
and the practical improvements he introduced into some of the
most intricate branches of naval tactics.

Immense efforts were now made by England, but with a very
questionable policy, to induce Louis XIV. to join in the war.
Charles offered to allow of his acquiring the whole of the Spanish
Netherlands, provided he would leave him without interruption to
destroy the Dutch navy (and, consequently, their commerce), in the
by no means certain expectation that its advantages would all fall
to the share of England. But the king of France resolved to support
the republic. The king of Denmark, too, formed an alliance with
them, after a series of the most strange tergiversations. Spain,
reduced to feebleness, and menaced with invasion by France, showed
no alacrity to meet Charles's overtures for an offensive treaty.
Van Galen, bishop of Munster, a restless prelate, was the only
ally he could acquire. This bishop, at the head of a tumultuous
force of twenty thousand men, penetrated into Friesland; but six
thousand French were despatched by Louis to the assistance of the
republic, and this impotent invasion was easily repelled.

The republic, encouraged by all these favorable circumstances,
resolved to put forward its utmost energies. Internal discords
were once more appeased; the harbors were crowded with merchant
ships; the young Prince of Orange had put himself under the tuition
of the states of Holland and of De Witt, who faithfully executed
his trust; and De Ruyter was ready to lead on the fleet. The
English, in spite of the dreadful calamity of the great fire of
London, the plague which desolated the city, and a declaration
of war on the part of France, prepared boldly for the shock.

The Dutch fleet, commanded by De Ruyter and Tromp, the gallant
successor of his father's fame, was soon at sea. The English,
under Prince Rupert and Monk, now duke of Albemarle, did not
lie idle in port. A battle of four days continuance, one of the
most determined and terrible up to this period on record, was
the consequence. The Dutch claim, and it appears with justice,
to have had the advantage. But a more decisive conflict took
place on the 25th of July,[6] when a victory was gained by the
English, the enemy having three of their admirals killed. "My God!"
exclaimed De Ruyter; during this desperate fight, and seeing the
certainty of defeat; "what a wretch I am! Among so many thousand
bullets, is there not one to put an end to my miserable life?"

[Footnote 6: In all these naval battles we have followed Hume
and the English historians as to dates, which, in almost every
instance, are strangely at variance with those given by the Dutch

The king of France hastened forward in this crisis to the assistance
of the republic and De Witt, by a deep stroke of policy, amused
the English with negotiation while a powerful fleet was fitted
out. It suddenly appeared in the Thames, under the command of De
Ruyter, and all England was thrown into consternation. The Dutch
took Sheerness, and burned many ships of war; almost insulting
the capital itself in their predatory incursion. Had the French
power joined that of the Provinces at this time, and invaded
England, the most fatal results to that kingdom might have taken
place. But the alarm soon subsided with the disappearance of the
hostile fleet; and the signing the peace of Breda, on the 10th
of July, 1667, extricated Charles from his present difficulties.
The island of Polerone was restored to the Dutch, and the point of
maritime superiority was, on this occasion, undoubtedly theirs.

While Holland was preparing to indulge in the luxury of national
repose, the death of Philip IV. of Spain, and the startling ambition
of Louis XIV., brought war once more to their very doors, and
soon even forced it across the threshold of the republic. The
king of France, setting at naught his solemn renunciation at the
peace of the Pyrenees of all claims to any part of the Spanish
territories in right of his wife, who was daughter of the late
king, found excellent reasons (for his own satisfaction) to invade
a material portion of that declining monarchy. Well prepared by
the financial and military foresight of Colbert for his great
design, he suddenly poured a powerful army, under Turenne, into
Brabant and Flanders; quickly overran and took possession of these
provinces; and, in the space of three weeks, added Franche-Comte to
his conquests. Europe was in universal alarm at these unexpected
measures; and no state felt more terror than the republic of the
United Provinces. The interest of all countries seemed now to
require a coalition against the power which had abandoned the
House of Austria only to settle on France. The first measure to
this effect was the signing of the triple league between Holland,
Sweden, and England, at The Hague, on the 13th of January, 1668.
But this proved to be one of the most futile confederations on
record. Charles, with almost unheard-of perfidy throughout the
transaction, fell in with the designs of his pernicious, and
on this occasion purchased, cabinet, called the Cabal; and he
entered into a secret treaty with France, in the very teeth of
his other engagements. Sweden was dissuaded from the league by
the arguments of the French ministers; and Holland in a short
time found itself involved in a double war with its late allies.

A base and piratical attack on the Dutch Smyrna fleet by a large
force under Sir Robert Holmes, on the 13th of March, 1672, was
the first overt act of treachery on the part of the English
government. The attempt completely failed, through the prudence
and valor of the Dutch admirals; and Charles reaped only the double
shame of perfidy and defeat. He instantly issued a declaration of
war against the republic, on reasoning too palpably false to
require refutation, and too frivolous to merit record to the
exclusion of more important matter from our narrow limits.

Louis at least covered with the semblance of dignity his unjust
co-operation in this violence. He soon advanced with his army,
and the contingents of Munster and Cologne, his allies, amounting
altogether to nearly one hundred and seventy thousand men, commanded
by Conde, Turenne, Luxemburg, and others of the greatest generals
of France. Never was any country less prepared than were the
United Provinces to resist this formidable aggression. Their
army was as naught; their long cessation of military operations
by land having totally demoralized that once invincible branch
of their forces. No general existed who knew anything of the
practice of war. Their very stores of ammunition had been delivered
over, in the way of traffic, to the enemy who now prepared to
overwhelm them. De Witt was severely, and not quite unjustly,
blamed for having suffered the country to be thus taken by surprise,
utterly defenceless, and apparently without resource. Envy of
his uncommon merit aggravated the just complaints against his
error. But, above all things, the popular affection to the young
prince threatened, in some great convulsion, the overthrow of
the pensionary, who was considered eminently hostile to the
illustrious House of Orange.

[Illustration: A HOLLAND BEAUTY]

William III., prince of Orange, now twenty-two years of age,
was amply endowed with those hereditary qualities of valor and
wisdom which only required experience to give him rank with the
greatest of his ancestors. The Louvenstein party, as the adherents
of the House of Orange were called, now easily prevailed in their
long-conceived design of placing him at the head of affairs,
with the titles of captain-general and high admiral. De Witt,
anxious from personal considerations, as well as patriotism, to
employ every means of active exertion, attempted the organization
of an army, and hastened the equipment of a formidable fleet of
nearly a hundred ships of the line and half as many fire-ships.
De Ruyter, now without exception the greatest commander of the
age, set sail with this force in search of the combined fleets
of England and France, commanded by the duke of York and Marshal
D'Etrees. He encountered them, on the 6th of May, 1672, at Solebay.
A most bloody engagement was the result of this meeting. Sandwich,
on the side of the English, and Van Ghent, a Dutch admiral, were
slain. The glory of the day was divided; the victory doubtful;
but the sea was not the element on which the fate of Holland
was to be decided.

The French armies poured like a torrent into the territories
of the republic. Rivers were passed, towns taken, and provinces
overrun with a rapidity much less honorable to France than
disgraceful to Holland. No victory was gained--no resistance
offered; and it is disgusting to look back on the fulsome panegyrics
with which courtiers and poets lauded Louis for those facile
and inglorious triumphs. The Prince of Orange had received the
command of a nominal army of seventy thousand men; but with this
undisciplined and discouraged mass he could attempt nothing. He
prudently retired into the province of Holland, vainly hoping
that the numerous fortresses on the frontiers would have offered
some resistance to the enemy. Guelders, Overyssel and Utrecht
were already in Louis's hands. Groningen and Friesland were
threatened. Holland and Zealand opposed obstruction to such rapid
conquest from their natural position; and Amsterdam set a noble
example to the remaining towns--forming a regular and energetic
plan of defence, and endeavoring to infuse its spirit into the
rest. The sluices, those desperate sources at once of safety
and desolation, were opened; the whole country submerged; and
the other provinces following this example, extensive districts
of fertility and wealth were given to the sea, for the exclusion
of which so many centuries had scarcely sufficed.

The states-general now assembled, and it was decided to supplicate
for peace at the hands of the combined monarchs. The haughty
insolence of Louvois, coinciding with the temper of Louis himself,
made the latter propose the following conditions as the price
of peace: To take off all duties on commodities exported into
Holland; to grant the free exercise of the Romish religion in
the United Provinces; to share the churches with the Catholics,
and to pay their priests; to yield up all the frontier towns, with
several in the heart of the republic; to pay him twenty million
livres; to send him every year a solemn embassy, accompanied by
a present of a golden medal, as an acknowledgment that they owed
him their liberty; and, finally, that they should give entire
satisfaction to the king of England.

Charles, on his part, after the most insulting treatment of the
ambassadors sent to London, required, among other terms, that
the Dutch should give up the honor of the flag without reserve,
whole fleets being expected, even on the coasts of Holland, to
lower their topsails to the smallest ship under British colors;
that the Dutch should pay one million pounds sterling toward the
charges of the war, and ten thousand pounds a year for permission
to fish in the British seas; that they should share the Indian
trade with the English; and that Walcheren and several other
islands should be put into the king's hands as security for the
performance of the articles.

The insatiable monarchs overshot the mark. Existence was not
worth preserving on these intolerable terms. Holland was driven
to desperation; and even the people of England were inspired
with indignation at this monstrous injustice. In the republic a
violent explosion of popular excess took place. The people now
saw no safety but in the courage and talents of the Prince of
Orange. He was tumultuously proclaimed stadtholder. De Witt and
his brother Cornelis, the conscientious but too obstinate opponents
of this measure of salvation, fell victims to the popular frenzy.
The latter, condemned to banishment on an atrocious charge of
intended assassination against the Prince of Orange, was visited
in his prison at The Hague by the grand pensionary. The rabble,
incited to fury by the calumnies spread against these two virtuous
citizens, broke into the prison, forced the unfortunate brothers
into the street, and there literally tore them to pieces with
circumstances of the most brutal ferocity. This horrid scene
took place on the 27th of August, 1672.

The massacre of the De Witts completely destroyed the party of
which they were the head. All men now united under the only leader
left to the country. William showed himself well worthy of the
trust, and of his heroic blood. He turned his whole force against
the enemy. He sought nothing for himself but the glory of saving
his country; and taking his ancestors for models, in the best
points of their respective characters, he combined prudence with
energy, and firmness with moderation. His spirit inspired all
ranks of men. The conditions of peace demanded by the partner
kings were rejected with scorn. The whole nation was moved by
one concentrated principle of heroism; and it was even resolved
to put the ancient notion of the first William into practice,
and abandon the country to the waves, sooner than submit to the
political annihilation with which it was threatened. The capability
of the vessels in their harbors was calculated; and they were
found sufficient to transport two hundred thousand families to
the Indian settlements. We must hasten from this sublime picture
of national desperation. The glorious hero who stands in its
foreground was inaccessible to every overture of corruption.
Buckingham, the English ambassador, offered him, on the part
of England and France, the independent sovereignty of Holland,
if he would abandon the other provinces to their grasp; and,
urging his consent, asked him if he did not see that the republic
was ruined? "There is one means," replied the Prince of Orange,
"which will save me from the sight of my country's ruin--I will
die in the last ditch."

Action soon proved the reality of the prince's profession. He
took the field; having first punished with death some of the
cowardly commanders of the frontier towns. He besieged and took
Naarden, an important place; and, by a masterly movement, formed
a junction with Montecuculi, whom the emperor Leopold had at
length sent to his assistance with twenty thousand men. Groningen
repulsed the bishop of Munster, the ally of France, with a loss
of twelve thousand men. The king of Spain (such are the strange
fluctuations of political friendship and enmity) sent the count
of Monterey, governor of the Belgian provinces, with ten thousand
men to support the Dutch army. The elector of Brandenburg also
lent them aid. The whole face of affairs was changed; and Louis
was obliged to abandon all his conquests with more rapidity than
he had made them. Two desperate battles at sea, on the 28th of
May and the 4th of June, in which De Ruyter and Prince Rupert
again distinguished themselves, only proved the valor of the
combatants, leaving victory still doubtful. England was with
one common feeling ashamed of the odious war in which the king
and his unworthy ministers had engaged the nation. Charles was
forced to make peace on the conditions proposed by the Dutch.
The honor of the flag was yielded to the English; a regulation
of trade was agreed to; all possessions were restored to the
same condition as before the war; and the states-general agreed
to pay the king eight hundred thousand patacoons, or nearly three
hundred thousand pounds.

With these encouraging results from the Prince of Orange's influence
and example, Holland persevered in the contest with France. He, in
the first place, made head, during a winter campaign in Holland,
against Marshal Luxemburg, who had succeeded Turenne in the Low
Countries, the latter being obliged to march against the imperialists
in Westphalia. He next advanced to oppose the great Conde, who
occupied Brabant with an army of forty-five thousand men. After
much manoeuvring, in which the Prince of Orange displayed consummate
talent, he on only one occasion exposed a part of his army to a
disadvantageous contest. Conde seized on the error; and of his
own accord gave the battle to which his young opponent could
not succeed in forcing him. The battle of Senef is remarkable
not merely for the fury with which it was fought, or for its
leaving victory undecided, but as being the last combat of one
commander and the first of the other. "The Prince of Orange,"
said the veteran Conde (who had that day exposed his person more
than on any previous occasion), "has acted in everything like an
old captain, except venturing his life too like a young soldier."

The campaign of 1675 offered no remarkable event; the Prince
of Orange with great prudence avoiding the risk of a battle.
But the following year was rendered fatally remarkable by the
death of the great De Ruyter,[7] who was killed in an action
against the French fleet in the Mediterranean; and about the
same time the not less celebrated Turenne met his death from a
cannon-ball in the midst of his triumphs in Germany. This year
was doubly occupied in a negotiation for peace and an active
prosecution of the war. Louis, at the head of his army, took
several towns in Belgium: William was unsuccessful in an attempt
on Maestricht. About the beginning of winter, the plenipotentiaries
of the several belligerents assembled at Nimeguen, where the
congress for peace was held. The Hollanders, loaded with debts
and taxes, and seeing the weakness and slowness of their allies,
the Spaniards and Germans, prognosticated nothing but misfortunes.
Their commerce languished; while that of England, now neutral
amid all these quarrels, flourished extremely. The Prince of
Orange, however, ambitious of glory, urged another campaign;
and it commenced accordingly. In the middle of February, Louis
carried Valenciennes by storm, and laid siege to St. Omer and
Cambray. William, though full of activity, courage, and skill,
was, nevertheless, almost always unsuccessful in the field, and
never more so than in this campaign. Several towns fell almost
in his sight; and he was completely defeated in the great battle
of Mount Cassel by the duke of Orleans and Marshal Luxemburg. But
the period for another peace was now approaching. Louis offered
fair terms for the acceptance of the United Provinces at the
congress of Nimeguen, April, 1678, as he now considered his chief
enemies Spain and the empire, who had at first only entered into
the war as auxiliaries. He was, no doubt, principally impelled
in his measures by the marriage of the Prince of Orange with
the lady Mary, eldest daughter of the duke of York, and heir
presumptive to the English crown, which took place on the 23d of
October, to the great joy of both the Dutch and English nations.
Charles was at this moment the arbiter of the peace of Europe;
and though several fluctuations took place in his policy in the
course of a few months, as the urgent wishes of the parliament
and the large presents of Louis differently actuated him, still
the wiser and more just course prevailed, and he finally decided
the balance by vigorously declaring his resolution for peace; and
the treaty was consequently signed at Nimeguen, on the 10th of
August, 1678. The Prince of Orange, from private motives of spleen,
or a most unjustifiable desire for fighting, took the extraordinary
measure of attacking the French troops under Luxemburg, near Mons,
on the very day after the signing of this treaty. He must have
known it, even though it were not officially notified to him; and
he certainly had to answer for all the blood so wantonly spilled in
the sharp though undecisive action which ensued. Spain, abandoned
to her fate, was obliged to make the best terms she could; and on
the 17th of September she also concluded a treaty with France,
on conditions entirely favorable to the latter power.

[Footnote 7: The council of Spain gave De Ruyter the title and
letters patent of duke. The latter arrived in Holland after his
death; and his children, with true republican spirit, refused
to adopt the title.]



A.D. 1678--1713

A few years passed over after this period, without the occurrence
of any transaction sufficiently important to require a mention
here. Each of the powers so lately at war followed the various
bent of their respective ambition. Charles of England was
sufficiently occupied by disputes with parliament, and the discovery,
fabrication, and punishment of plots, real or pretended. Louis
XIV., by a stretch of audacious pride hitherto unknown, arrogated
to himself the supreme power of regulating the rest of Europe, as
if all the other princes were his vassals. He established courts,
or chambers of reunion as they were called, in Metz and Brisac,
which cited princes, issued decrees, and authorized spoliation,
in the most unjust and arbitrary manner. Louis chose to award to
himself Luxemburg, Chiny, and a considerable portion of Brabant
and Flanders. He marched a considerable army into Belgium, which
the Spanish governors were unable to oppose. The Prince of Orange,
who labored incessantly to excite a confederacy among the other
powers of Europe against the unwarrantable aggressions of France,
was unable to arouse his countrymen to actual war; and was forced,
instead of gaining the glory he longed for, to consent to a truce
for twenty years, which the states-general, now wholly pacific
and not a little cowardly, were too happy to obtain from France.
The emperor and the king of Spain gladly entered into a like
treaty. The fact was that the peace of Nimeguen had disjointed
the great confederacy which William had so successfully brought
about; and the various powers were laid utterly prostrate at the
feet of the imperious Louis, who for a while held the destinies
of Europe in his hands.

Charles II. died most unexpectedly in the year 1685; and his
obstinately bigoted and unconstitutional successor, James II.,
seemed, during a reign of not four years' continuance, to rush
wilfully headlong to ruin. During this period, the Prince of
Orange had maintained a most circumspect and unexceptionable
line of conduct; steering clear of all interference with English
affairs; giving offence to none of the political factions; and
observing in every instance the duty and regard which he owed to
his father-in-law. During Monmouth's invasion he had despatched
to James's assistance six regiments of British troops which were
in the Dutch service, and he offered to take the command of the
king's forces against the rebels. It was from the application
of James himself that William took any part in English affairs;
for he was more widely and much more congenially employed in the
establishment of a fresh league against France. Louis had aroused
a new feeling throughout Protestant Europe by the revocation
of the Edict of Nantes. The refugees whom he had driven from
their native country inspired in those in which they settled
hatred of his persecution as well as alarm of his power. Holland
now entered into all the views of the Prince of Orange. By his
immense influence he succeeded in forming the great confederacy
called the League of Augsburg, to which the emperor, Spain, and
almost every European power but England became parties.

James gave the prince reason to believe that he too would join
in this great project, if William would in return concur in his
views of domestic tyranny; but William wisely refused. James, much
disappointed, and irritated by the moderation which showed his
own violence in such striking contrast, expressed his displeasure
against the prince, and against the Dutch generally, by various
vexatious acts. William resolved to maintain a high attitude;
and many applications were made to him by the most considerable
persons in England for relief against James's violent measures,
and which there was but one method of making effectual. That method
was force. But as long as the Princess of Orange was certain of
succeeding to the crown on her father's death, William hesitated
to join in an attempt that might possibly have failed and lost
her her inheritance. But the birth of a son, which, in giving
James a male heir, destroyed all hope of redress for the kingdom,
decided the wavering, and rendered the determined desperate.
The prince chose the time for his enterprise with the sagacity,
arranged its plan with the prudence, and put it into execution
with the vigor, which were habitual qualities of his mind.

Louis XIV., menaced by the League of Augsburg, had resolved to
strike the first blow against the allies. He invaded Germany; so
that the Dutch preparations seemed in the first instance intended
as measures of defence against the progress of the French. But
Louis's envoy at The Hague could not be long deceived. He gave
notice to his master, who in his turn warned James. But that
infatuated monarch not only doubted the intelligence, but refused
the French king's offers of assistance and co-operation. On the
21st of October, the Prince of Orange, with an army of fourteen
thousand men, and a fleet of five hundred vessels of all kinds,
set sail from Helvoetsluys; and after some delays from bad weather,
he safely landed his army in Torbay, on the 5th of November, 1688.
The desertion of James's best friends; his own consternation,
flight, seizure, and second escape; and the solemn act by which he
was deposed; were the rapid occurrences of a few weeks: and thus
the grandest revolution that England had ever seen was happily
consummated. Without entering here on legislative reasonings or
party sophisms, it is enough to record the act itself; and to
say, in reference to our more immediate subject, that without
the assistance of Holland and her glorious chief, England might
have still remained enslaved, or have had to purchase liberty
by oceans of blood. By the bill of settlement, the crown was
conveyed jointly to the Prince and Princess of Orange, the sole
administration of government to remain in the prince; and the
new sovereigns were proclaimed on the 23d of February, 1689.
The convention, which had arranged this important point, annexed
to the settlement a declaration of rights, by which the powers
of royal prerogative and the extent of popular privilege were
defined and guaranteed.

William, now become king of England, still preserved his title
of stadtholder of Holland; and presented the singular instance
of a monarchy and a republic being at the same time governed by
the same individual. But whether as a king or a citizen, William
was actuated by one grand and powerful principle, to which every
act of private administration was made subservient, although
it certainly called for no sacrifice that was not required for
the political existence of the two nations of which he was the
head. Inveterate opposition to the power of Louis XIV. was this
all-absorbing motive. A sentiment so mighty left William but
little time for inferior points of government, and everything
but that seems to have irritated and disgusted him. He was soon
again on the Continent, the chief theatre of his efforts. He
put himself in front of the confederacy which resulted from the
congress of Utrecht in 1690. He took the command of the allied
army; and till the hour of his death, he never ceased his
indefatigable course of hostility, whether in the camp or the
cabinet, at the head of the allied armies, or as the guiding
spirit of the councils which gave them force and motion.

Several campaigns were expended, and bloody combats fought, almost
all to the disadvantage of William, whose genius for war was
never seconded by that good fortune which so often decides the
fate of battles in defiance of all the calculations of talent.
But no reverse had power to shake the constancy and courage of
William. He always appeared as formidable after defeat as he
was before action. His conquerors gained little but the honor
of the day. Fleurus, Steinkerk, Herwinde, were successively the
scenes of his evil fortune, and the sources of his fame. His
retreats were master-strokes of vigilant activity and profound
combinations. Many eminent sieges took place during this war.
Among other towns, Mons and Namur were taken by the French, and
Huy by the allies; and the army of Marshal Villeroi bombarded
Brussels during three days, in August, 1695, with such fury that
the town-house, fourteen churches, and four thousand houses,
were reduced to ashes. The year following this event saw another
undecisive campaign. During the continuance of this war, the naval
transactions present no grand results. Du Bart, a celebrated
adventurer of Dunkirk, occupies the leading place in those affairs,
in which he carried on a desultory but active warfare against the
Dutch and English fleets, and generally with great success.

All the nations which had taken part in so many wars were now
becoming exhausted by the contest, but none so much so as France.
The great despot who had so long wielded the energies of that
country with such wonderful splendor and success found that his
unbounded love of dominion was gradually sapping all the real
good of his people, in chimerical schemes of universal conquest.
England, though with much resolution voting new supplies, and in
every way upholding William in his plans for the continuance of
war, was rejoiced when Louis accepted the mediation of Charles
XI., king of Sweden, and agreed to concessions which made peace
feasible. The emperor and Charles II. of Spain, were less satisfied
with those concessions; but everything was finally arranged to meet
the general views of the parties, and negotiations were opened
at Ryswyk. The death of the king of Sweden, and the minority of
his son and successor, the celebrated Charles XII., retarded
them on points of form for some time. At length, on the 20th of
September, 1697, the articles of the treaty were subscribed by
the Dutch, English, Spanish, and French ambassadors. The treaty
consisted of seventeen articles. The French king declared he
would not disturb or disquiet the king of Great Britain, whose
title he now for the first time acknowledged. Between France
and Holland were declared a general armistice, perpetual amity,
a mutual restitution of towns, a reciprocal renunciation of all
pretensions upon each other, and a treaty of commerce which was
immediately put into execution. Thus, after this long, expensive,
and sanguinary war, things were established just on the footing they
had been by the peace of Nimeguen; and a great, though unavailable
lesson, read to the world on the futility and wickedness of those
quarrels in which the personal ambition of kings leads to the
misery of the people. Had the allies been true to each other
throughout, Louis would certainly have been reduced much lower
than he now was. His pride was humbled, and his encroachments
stopped. But the sufferings of the various countries engaged in
the war were too generally reciprocal to make its result of any
material benefit to either. The emperor held out for a while,
encouraged by the great victory gained by his general, Prince
Eugene of Savoy, over the Turks at Zenta in Hungary; but he finally
acceded to the terms offered by France; the peace, therefore,
became general, but, unfortunately for Europe, of very short

France, as if looking forward to the speedy renewal of hostilities,
still kept her armies undisbanded. Let the foresight of her
politicians have been what it might, this negative proof of it was
justified by events. The king of Spain, a weak prince, without any
direct heir for his possessions, considered himself authorized to
dispose of their succession by will. The leading powers of Europe
thought otherwise, and took this right upon themselves. Charles
died on the 1st of November, 1700, and thus put the important
question to the test. By a solemn testament he declared Philip,
duke of Anjou, second son of the dauphin, and grandson of Louis
XIV., his successor to the whole of the Spanish monarchy. Louis
immediately renounced his adherence to the treaties of partition,
executed at The Hague and in London, in 1698 and 1700, and to which
he had been a contracting party; and prepared to maintain the act
by which the last of the descendants of Charles V. bequeathed
the possessions of Spain and the Indies to the family which had
so long been the inveterate enemy and rival of his own.

The emperor Leopold, on his part, prepared to defend his claims;
and thus commenced the new war between him and France, which took
its name from the succession which formed the object of dispute.
Hostilities were commenced in Italy, where Prince Eugene, the
conqueror of the Turks, commanded for Leopold, and every day
made for himself a still more brilliant reputation. Louis sent
his grandson to Spain to take possession of the inheritance,
for which so hard a fight was yet to be maintained, with the
striking expression at parting--"My child, there are no longer
any Pyrenees!" an expression most happily unprophetic for the
future independence of Europe; for the moral force of the barrier
has long existed after the expiration of the family compact which
was meant to deprive it of its force.

Louis prepared to act vigorously. Among other measures, he caused
part of the Dutch army that was quartered in Luxemburg and Brabant
to be suddenly made prisoners of war, because they would not own
Philip V. as king of Spain. The states-general were dreadfully
alarmed, immediately made the required acknowledgment, and in
consequence had their soldiers released. They quickly reinforced
their garrisons, purchased supplies, solicited foreign aid, and
prepared for the worst that might happen. They wrote to King
William, professing the most inviolable attachment to England;
and he met their application by warm assurances of support and
an immediate reinforcement of three regiments.

William followed up these measures by the formation of the celebrated
treaty called the Grand Alliance, by which England, the States,
and the emperor covenanted for the support of the pretensions
of the latter to the Spanish monarchy. William was preparing,
in spite of his declining health, to take his usual lead in the
military operations now decided on, and almost all Europe was
again looking forward to his guidance, when he died on the 8th of
March, 1701, leaving his great plans to receive their execution
from still more able adepts in the art of war.

William's character has been traced by many hands. In his capacity
of king of England, it is not our province to judge him in this
place. As stadtholder of Holland, he merits unqualified praise.
Like his great ancestor William I., whom he more resembled than
any other of his race, he saved the country in a time of such
imminent peril that its abandonment seemed the only resource
left to the inhabitants, who preferred self-exile to slavery.
All his acts were certainly merged in the one overwhelming object
of a great ambition--that noble quality, which, if coupled with
the love of country, is the very essence of true heroism. William
was the last of that illustrious line which for a century and a
half had filled Europe with admiration. He never had a child;
and being himself an only one, his title as Prince of Orange
passed into another branch of the family. He left his cousin,
Prince Frison of Nassau, the stadtholder of Friesland, his sole
and universal heir, and appointed the states-general his executors.

William's death filled Holland with mourning and alarm. The meeting
of the states-general after this sad intelligence was of a most
affecting description; but William, like all master-minds, had
left the mantle of his inspiration on his friends and followers.
Heinsius, the grand pensionary, followed up the views of the
lamented stadtholder with considerable energy, and was answered
by the unanimous exertions of the country. Strong assurances
of support from Queen Anne, William's successor, still further
encouraged the republic, which now vigorously prepared for war.
But it did not lose this occasion of recurring to the form of
government of 1650. No new stadtholder was now appointed; the
supreme authority being vested in the general assembly of the
states, and the active direction of affairs confided to the grand
pensionary. This departure from the form of government which had
been on various occasions proved to be essential to the safety,
although at all times hazardous to the independence, of the States,
was not attended with any evil consequences. The factions and
the anarchy which had before been the consequence of the course
now adopted were prevented by the potent influence of national
fear lest the enemy might triumph, and crush the hopes, the
jealousies, and the enmities of all parties in one general ruin.
Thus the common danger awoke a common interest, and the splendid
successes of her allies kept Holland steady in the career of
patriotic energy which had its rise in the dread of her redoubtable

The joy in France at William's death was proportionate to the
grief it created in Holland; and the arrogant confidence of Louis
seemed to know no bounds. "I will punish these audacious merchants,"
said he, with an air of disdain, when he read the manifesto of
Holland; not foreseeing that those he affected to despise so
much would, ere long, command in a great measure the destinies
of his crown. Queen Anne entered upon the war with masculine
intrepidity, and maintained it with heroic energy. Efforts were
made by the English ministry and the states-general to mediate
between the kings of Sweden and Poland. But Charles XII., enamored
of glory, and bent on the one great object of his designs against
Russia, would listen to nothing that might lead him from his
immediate career of victory. Many other of the northern princes
were withheld, by various motives, from entering into the contest
with France, and its whole brunt devolved on the original members
of the Grand Alliance. The generals who carried it on were
Marlborough and Prince Eugene. The former, at its commencement
an earl, and subsequently raised to the dignity of duke, was
declared generalissimo of the Dutch and English forces. He was
a man of most powerful genius, both as warrior and politician.
A pupil of the great Turenne, his exploits left those of his
master in the shade. No commander ever possessed in a greater
degree the faculty of forming vast designs, and of carrying them
into effect with consummate skill; no one displayed more coolness
and courage in action, saw with a keener eye the errors of the
enemy, or knew better how to profit by success. He never laid
siege to a town that he did not take, and never fought a battle
that he did not gain.

Prince Eugene joined to the highest order of personal bravery a
profound judgment for the grand movements of war, and a capacity
for the most minute of the minor details on which their successful
issue so often depends. United in the same cause, these two great
generals pursued their course without the least misunderstanding.
At the close of each of those successive campaigns, in which they
reaped such a full harvest of renown, they retired together to The
Hague, to arrange, in the profoundest secrecy, the plans for the
next year's operations, with one other person, who formed the great
point of union between them, and completed a triumvirate without
a parallel in the history of political affairs. This third was
Heinsius, one of those great men produced by the republic whose
names are tantamount to the most detailed eulogium for talent
and patriotism. Every enterprise projected by the confederates
was deliberately examined, rejected, or approved by these three
associates, whose strict union of purpose, disowning all petty
rivalry, formed the centre of counsels and the source of
circumstances finally so fatal to France.

Louis XIV., now sixty years of age, could no longer himself command
his armies, or probably did not wish to risk the reputation he
was conscious of having gained by the advice and services of
Turenne, Conde, and Luxemburg. Louvois, too, was dead; and Colbert
no longer managed his finances. A council of rash and ignorant
ministers hung like a dead weight on the talent of the generals
who succeeded the great men above mentioned. Favor and not merit
too often decided promotion, and lavished command. Vendome, Villars,
Boufflers, and Berwick were set aside, to make way for Villeroi,
Tallard, and Marsin, men every way inferior.

The war began in 1702 in Italy, and Marlborough opened his first
campaign in Brabant also in that year. For several succeeding
years the confederates pursued a career of brilliant success,
the details of which do not properly belong to this work. A mere
chronology of celebrated battles would be of little interest, and
the pages of English history abound in records of those deeds.
Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet, are names that
speak for themselves, and tell their own tale of glory. The utter
humiliation of France was the result of events, in which the
undying fame of England for inflexible perseverance and unbounded
generosity was joined in the strictest union with that of Holland;
and the impetuous valor of the worthy successor to the title
of Prince of Orange was, on many occasions, particularly at
Malplaquet, supported by the devotion and gallantry of the Dutch
contingent in the allied armies. The naval affairs of Holland
offered nothing very remarkable. The states had always a fleet
ready to support the English in their enterprises; but no eminent
admiral arose to rival the renown of Rooke, Byng, Benbow, and others
of their allies. The first of those admirals took Gibraltar, which
has ever since remained in the possession of England. The great
earl of Peterborough carried on the war with splendid success in
Portugal and Spain, supported occasionally by the English fleet
under Sir Cloudesley Shovel, and that of Holland under Admirals
Allemonde and Wapenaer.

During the progress of the war, the haughty and longtime imperial
Louis was reduced to a state of humiliation that excited a compassion
so profound as to prevent its own open expression--the most galling
of all sentiments to a proud mind. In the year 1709 he solicited
peace on terms of most abject submission. The states-general,
under the influence of the duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene,
rejected all his supplications, retorting unsparingly the insolent
harshness with which he had formerly received similar proposals
from them. France, roused to renewed exertions by the insulting
treatment experienced by her humiliated but still haughty despot,
made prodigious but vain efforts to repair her ruinous losses.
In the following year Louis renewed his attempts to obtain some
tolerable conditions; offering to renounce his grandson, and to
comply with all the former demands of the confederates. Even these
overtures were rejected; Holland and England appearing satisfied
with nothing short of--what was after all impracticable--the total
destruction of the great power which Louis had so long proved
to be incompatible with their welfare.

The war still went on; and the taking of Bouchain on the 30th
of August, 1711, closed the almost unrivalled military career
of Marlborough, by the success of one of his boldest and best
conducted exploits. Party intrigue had accomplished what, in
court parlance, is called the disgrace, but which, in the language
of common sense, means only the dismissal of this great man. The
new ministry, who hated the Dutch, now entered seriously into
negotiations with France. The queen acceded to these views, and
sent special envoys to communicate with the court of Versailles.
The states-general found it impossible to continue hostilities if
England withdrew from the coalition; conferences were consequently
opened at Utrecht in the month of January, 1712. England took
the important station of arbiter in the great question there
debated. The only essential conditions which she demanded
individually were the renunciation of all claims to the crown of
France by Philip V., and the demolition of the harbor of Dunkirk.
The first of these was the more readily acceded to, as the great
battles of Almanza and Villaviciosa, gained by Philip's generals,
the dukes of Berwick and Vendome, had steadily fixed him on the
throne of Spain--a point still more firmly secured by the death
of the emperor Joseph I., son of Leopold, and the elevation of
his brother Charles, Philip's competitor for the crown of Spain,
to the imperial dignity, by the title of Charles VI.

The peace was not definitively signed until the 11th of April,
1713; and France obtained far better conditions than those which
were refused her a few years previously. The Belgian provinces
were given to the new emperor, and must henceforth be called
the Austrian instead of the Spanish Netherlands. The gold and
the blood of Holland had been profusely expended during this
contest; it might seem for no positive results; but the exhaustion
produced to every one of the other belligerents was a source
of peace and prosperity to the republic. Its commerce was
re-established; its financial resources recovered their level;
and altogether we must fix on the epoch now before us as that
of its utmost point of influence and greatness. France, on the
contrary, was now reduced from its palmy state of almost European
sovereignty to one of the deepest misery; and its monarch, in
his old age, found little left of his former power but those
records of poetry, painting, sculpture, and architecture which
tell posterity of his magnificence, and the splendor of which
throw his faults and his misfortunes into the shade.

The great object now to be accomplished by the United Provinces
was the regulation of a distinct and guaranteed line of frontier
between the republic and France. This object had become by degrees,
ever since the peace of Munster, a fundamental maxim of their
politics. The interposition of the Belgian provinces between the
republic and France was of serious inconvenience to the former in
this point of view. It was made the subject of a special article in
"the grand alliance." In the year 1707 it was particularly discussed
between England and the States, to the great discontent of the
emperor, who was far from wishing its definitive settlement. But
it was now become an indispensable item in the total of important
measures whose accomplishment was called for by the peace of
Utrecht. Conferences were opened on this sole question at Antwerp
in the year 1714; and, after protracted and difficult discussions,
the treaty of the Barrier was concluded on the 15th of November,

This treaty was looked on with an evil eye in the Austrian
Netherlands. The clamor was great and general; jealousy of the
commercial prosperity of Holland being the real motive. Long
negotiations took place on the subject of the treaty; and in
December, 1718, the republic consented to modify some of the
articles. The Pragmatic Sanction, published at Vienna in 1713
by Charles VI., regulated the succession to all the imperial
hereditary possessions; and, among the rest, the provinces of
the Netherlands. But this arrangement, though guaranteed by the
chief powers of Europe, was, in the sequel, little respected,
and but indifferently executed.



A.D. 1713--1795

During a period of thirty years following the treaty of Utrecht,
the republic enjoyed the unaccustomed blessing of profound peace.
While the discontents of the Austrian Netherlands on the subject
of the treaty of the Barrier were in debate, the quadruple alliance
was formed between Holland, England, France and the emperor, for
reciprocal aid against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It was
in virtue of this treaty that the pretender to the English throne
received orders to remove from France; and the states-general
about the same time arrested the Swedish ambassador, Baron Gortz,
whose intrigues excited some suspicion. The death of Louis XIV.
had once more changed the political system of Europe; and the
commencement of the eighteenth century was fertile in negotiations
and alliances in which we have at present but little direct interest.
The rights of the republic were in all instances respected; and
Holland did not cease to be considered as a power of the first
distinction and consequence. The establishment of an East India
Company at Ostend, by the emperor Charles VI., in 1722, was the
principal cause of disquiet to the United Provinces, and the most
likely to lead to a rupture. But, by the treaty of Hanover in
1726, the rights of Holland resulting from the treaty of Munster
were guaranteed; and in consequence the emperor abolished the
company of his creation, by the treaty of Seville in 1729, and
that of Vienna in 1731.

The peace which now reigned in Europe allowed the United Provinces
to direct their whole efforts toward the reform of those internal
abuses resulting from feudality and fanaticism. Confiscations
were reversed, and property secured throughout the republic.
It received into its protection the persecuted sectarians of
France, Germany, and Hungary; and the tolerant wisdom which it
exercised in these measures gives the best assurance of its justice
and prudence in one of a contrary nature, forming a solitary
exception to them. This was the expulsion of the Jesuits, whose
dangerous and destructive doctrines had been long a warrant for
this salutary example to the Protestant states of Europe.

In the year 1732 the United Provinces were threatened with imminent
peril, which accident alone prevented from becoming fatal to
their very existence. It was perceived that the dikes, which
had for ages preserved the coasts, were in many places crumbling
to ruin, in spite of the enormous expenditure of money and labor
devoted to their preservation. By chance it was discovered that the
beams, piles and other timber works employed in the construction
of the dikes were eaten through in all parts by a species of
sea-worm hitherto unknown. The terror of the people was, as may
be supposed, extreme. Every possible resource was applied which
could remedy the evil; a hard frost providentially set in and
destroyed the formidable reptiles; and the country was thus saved
from a danger tenfold greater than that involved in a dozen wars.

The peace of Europe was once more disturbed in 1733. Poland,
Germany, France, and Spain, were all embarked in the new war.
Holland and England stood aloof; and another family alliance
of great consequence drew still closer than ever the bonds of
union between them. The young Prince of Orange, who in 1728 had
been elected stadtholder of Groningen and Guelders, in addition
to that of Friesland which had been enjoyed by his father, had
in the year 1734 married the princess Anne, daughter of George
II. of England; and by thus adding to the consideration of the
House of Nassau, had opened a field for the recovery of all its
old distinctions.

The death of the emperor Charles VI., in October, 1740, left his
daughter, the archduchess Maria Theresa, heiress of his throne
and possessions. Young, beautiful, and endowed with qualities of
the highest order, she was surrounded with enemies whose envy
and ambition would have despoiled her of her splendid rights.
Frederick of Prussia, surnamed the Great, in honor of his abilities
rather than his sense of justice, the electors of Bavaria and
Saxony, and the kings of Spain and Sardinia, all pressed forward
to the spoliation of an inheritance which seemed a fair play for
all comers. But Maria Theresa, first joining her husband, Duke
Francis of Lorraine, in her sovereignty, but without prejudice to
it, under the title of co-regent, took an attitude truly heroic.
When everything seemed to threaten the dismemberment of her states,
she threw herself upon the generous fidelity of her Hungarian
subjects with a dignified resolution that has few examples. There
was imperial grandeur even in her appeal to their compassion.
The results were electrical; and the whole tide of fortune was
rapidly turned.

England and Holland were the first to come to the aid of the
young and interesting empress. George II., at the head of his
army, gained the victory of Dettingen, in support of her quarrel,
in 1743; the states-general having contributed twenty thousand
men and a large subsidy to her aid. Louis XV. resolved to throw
his whole influence into the scale against these generous efforts
in the princess's favor; and he invaded the Austrian Netherlands
in the following year. Marshal Saxe commanded under him, and at
first carried everything before him. Holland, having furnished
twenty thousand troops and six ships of war to George II. on
the invasion of the young pretender, was little in a state to
oppose any formidable resistance to the enemy that threatened
her own frontiers. The republic, wholly attached for so long
a period to pursuits of peace and commerce, had no longer good
generals nor effective armies; nor could it even put a fleet of
any importance to sea. Yet with all these disadvantages it would
not yield to the threats nor the demands of France; resolved
to risk a new war rather than succumb to an enemy it had once
so completely humbled and given the law to.

Conferences were opened at Breda, but interrupted almost as soon
as commenced. Hostilities were renewed. The memorable battle of
Fontenoy was offered and gloriously fought by the allies; accepted
and splendidly won by the French. Never did the English and Dutch
troops act more nobly in concert than on this remarkable occasion.
The valor of the French was not less conspicuous; and the success
of the day was in a great measure decided by the Irish battalions,
sent, by the lamentable politics of those and much later days,
to swell the ranks and gain the battles of England's enemies.
Marshal Saxe followed up his advantage the following year, taking
Brussels and many other towns. Almost the whole of the Austrian
Netherlands being now in the power of Louis XV., and the United
Provinces again exposed to invasion and threatened with danger,
they had once more recourse to the old expedient of the elevation
of the House of Orange, which in times of imminent peril seemed
to present a never-failing palladium. Zealand was the first to
give the impulsion; the other provinces soon followed the example;
and William IV. was proclaimed stadtholder and captain-general,
amid the almost unanimous rejoicings of all. These dignities
were soon after declared hereditary both in the male and female
line of succession of the House of Orange Nassau.

The year 1748 saw the termination of the brilliant campaigns of
Louis XV. during this bloody war of eight years' continuance.
The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, definitively signed on the 18th of
October, put an end to hostilities; Maria Theresa was established
in her rights and power; and Europe saw a fair balance of the
nations, which gave promise of security and peace. But the United
Provinces, when scarcely recovering from struggles which had so
checked their prosperity, were employed in new and universal
grief and anxiety by the death of their young stadtholder, which
happened at The Hague, October 13, 1751. He had long been kept
out of the government, though by no means deficient in the talents
suited to his station. His son, William V., aged but three years
and a half, succeeded him, under the guardianship of his mother,
Anne of England, daughter of George II., a princess represented
to be of a proud and ambitious temper, who immediately assumed
a high tone of authority in the state.

The war of seven years, which agitated the north of Europe, and
deluged its plains with blood, was almost the only one in which the
republic was able to preserve a strict neutrality throughout. But
this happy state of tranquillity was not, as on former occasions,
attended by that prodigious increase of commerce, and that
accumulation of wealth, which had so often astonished the world.
Differing with England on the policy which led the latter to
weaken and humiliate France, jealousies sprung up between the
two countries, and Dutch commerce became the object of the most
vexatious and injurious efforts on the part of England. Remonstrance
was vain; resistance impossible; and the decline of the republic
hurried rapidly on. The Hanseatic towns, the American colonies, the
northern states of Europe, and France itself, all entered into the
rivalry with Holland, in which, however, England carried off the
most important prizes. Several private and petty encounters took
place between the vessels of England and Holland, in consequence
of the pretensions of the former to the right of search; and had
the republic possessed the ability of former periods, and the
talents of a Tromp or a De Ruyter, a new war would no doubt have
been the result. But it was forced to submit; and a degrading but
irritating tranquillity was the consequence for several years;
the national feelings receiving a salve for home-decline by some
extension of colonial settlements in the East, in which the island
of Ceylon was included.

In the midst of this inglorious state of things, and the domestic
abundance which was the only compensation for the gradual loss
of national influence, the installation of William V., in 1766;
his marriage with the princess of Prussia, niece of Frederick
the Great, in 1768; and the birth of two sons, the eldest on
the 24th of August, 1772; successively took place. Magnificent
fetes celebrated these events; the satisfied citizens little
imagining, amid their indolent rejoicings, the dismal futurity of
revolution and distress which was silently but rapidly preparing
for their country.

Maria Theresa, reduced to widowhood by the death of her husband,
whom she had elevated to the imperial dignity by the title of
Francis I., continued for a while to rule singly her vast
possessions; and had profited so little by the sufferings of her
own early reign that she joined in the iniquitous dismemberment
of Poland, which has left an indelible stain on her memory, and on
that of Frederick of Prussia and Catherine of Russia. In her own
dominions she was adored; and her name is to this day cherished
in Belgium among the dearest recollections of the people.

The impulsion given to the political mind of Europe by the revolution
in North America was soon felt in the Netherlands. The wish for
reform was not merely confirmed to the people. A memorable instance
was offered by Joseph II., son and successor of Maria Theresa,
that sovereigns were not only susceptible of rational notions
of change, but that the infection of radical extravagance could
penetrate even to the imperial crown. Disgusted by the despotism
exercised by the clergy of Belgium, Joseph commenced his reign
by measures that at once roused a desperate spirit of hostility
in the priesthood, and soon spread among the bigoted mass of the
people, who were wholly subservient to their will. Miscalculating
his own power, and undervaluing that of the priests, the emperor
issued decrees and edicts with a sweeping violence that shocked
every prejudice and roused every passion perilous to the country.
Toleration to the Protestants, emancipation of the clergy from the
papal yoke, reformation in the system of theological instruction,
were among the wholesale measures of the emperor's enthusiasm,
so imprudently attempted and so virulently opposed.

But ere the deep-sown seeds of bigotry ripened to revolt, or
produced the fruit of active resistance in Belgium, Holland had
to endure the mortification of another war with England. The
republic resolved on a futile imitation of the northern powers,
who had adopted the difficult and anomalous system of an armed
neutrality, for the prevention of English domination on the seas.
The right of search, so proudly established by this power, was not
likely to be wrenched from it by manifestoes or remonstrances;
and Holland was not capable of a more effectual warfare. In the
year 1781, St. Eustache, Surinam, Essequibo, and Demerara, were
taken by British valor; and in the following year several of the
Dutch colonies in the East, well fortified but ill defended,
also fell into the hands of England. Almost the whole of those
colonies, the remnants of prodigious power acquired by such
incalculable instances of enterprise and courage, were one by one
assailed and taken. But this did not suffice for the satisfaction
of English objects in the prosecution of the war. It was also
resolved to deprive Holland of the Baltic trade. A squadron of
seven vessels, commanded by Sir Hyde Parker, was encountered on
the Dogher Bank by a squadron of Dutch ships of the same force
under Admiral Zoutman. An action of four hours was maintained
with all the ancient courage which made so many of the memorable
sea-fights between Tromp, De Ruyter, Blake, and Monk drawn battles.
A storm separated the combatants, and saved the honor of each;
for both had suffered alike, and victory had belonged to neither.
The peace of 1784 terminated this short, but, to Holland, fatal
war; the two latter years of which had been, in the petty warfare
of privateering, most disastrous to the commerce of the republic.
Negapatam, on the coast of Coromandel, and the free navigation of
the Indian seas, were ceded to England, who occupied the other
various colonies taken during the war.

Opinion was now rapidly opening out to that spirit of intense
inquiry which arose in France, and threatened to sweep before
it not only all that was corrupt, but everything that tended
to corruption. It is in the very essence of all kinds of power
to have that tendency, and, if not checked by salutary means,
to reach that end. But the reformers of the last century, new
in the desperate practice of revolutions, seeing its necessity,
but ignorant of its nature, neither did nor could place bounds
to the careering whirlwind that they raised. The well-meaning
but intemperate changes essayed by Joseph II. in Belgium had a
considerable share in the development of free principles, although
they at first seemed only to excite the resistance of bigotry and
strengthen the growth of superstition. Holland was always alive
to those feelings of resistance, to established authority which
characterize republican opinions; and the general discontent at the
result of the war with England gave a good excuse to the pretended
patriotism which only wanted change, while it professed reform.
The stadtholder saw clearly the storm which was gathering, and
which menaced his power. Anxious for the present, and uncertain
for the future, he listened to the suggestions of England, and
resolved to secure and extend by foreign force the rights of
which he risked the loss from domestic faction.

In the divisions which were now loudly proclaimed among the states
in favor of or opposed to the House of Orange, the people, despising
all new theories which they did not comprehend, took open part
with the family so closely connected with every practical feeling
of good which their country had yet known. The states of Holland
soon proceeded to measures of violence. Resolved to limit the
power of the stadtholder, they deprived him of the command of
the garrison of The Hague, and of all the other troops of the
province; and, shortly afterward, declared him removed from all
his employments. The violent disputes and vehement discussions
consequent upon this measure throughout the republic announced
an inevitable commotion. The advance of a Prussian army toward
the frontiers inflamed the passions of one party and strengthened
the confidence of the other. An incident which now happened brought
about the crisis even sooner than was expected. The Princess
of Orange left her palace at Loo to repair to The Hague; and
travelling with great simplicity and slightly attended, she was
arrested and detained by a military post on the frontiers of the
province of Holland. The neighboring magistrates of the town of
Woesden refused her permission to continue her journey, and forced
her to return to Loo under such surveillance as was usual with a
prisoner of state. The stadtholder and the English ambassador
loudly complained of this outrage. The complaint was answered
by the immediate advance of the duke of Brunswick with twenty
thousand Prussian soldiers. Some demonstrations of resistance
were made by the astonished party whose outrageous conduct had
provoked the measure; but in three weeks' time the whole of the
republic was in perfect obedience to the authority of the
stadtholder, who resumed all his functions of chief magistrate,
with the additional influence which was sure to result from a
vain and unjustifiable attempt to reduce his former power. We
regret to be beyond the reach of Mr. Ellis's interesting but
unpublished work, detailing the particulars of this revolution.
The former persual of a copy of it only leaves a recollection
of its admirable style and the leading facts, but not of the
details with sufficient accuracy to justify more than a general
reference to the work itself.

By this time the discontent and agitation in Belgium had attained
a most formidable height. The attempted reformation in religion
and judicial abuses persisted in by the emperor were represented,
by a party whose existence was compromised by reform, as nothing
less than sacrilege and tyranny, and blindly rejected by a people
still totally unfitted for rational enlightenment in points of
faith, or practices of civilization. Remonstrances and strong
complaints were soon succeeded by tumultuous assemblages and
open insurrection. A lawyer of Brussels, named Vander Noot, put
himself at the head of the malcontents. The states-general of
Brabant declared the new measures of the emperor to be in opposition
to the constitution and privileges of the country. The other
Belgian provinces soon followed this example. The prince Albert
of Saxe-Teschen, and the archduchess Maria Theresa, his wife,
were at this period joint governors-general of the Austrian
Netherlands. At the burst of rebellion they attempted to temporize;
but this only strengthened the revolutionary party, while the
emperor wholly disapproved their measures and recalled them to

Count Murray was now named governor-general; and it was evident
that the future fate of the provinces was to depend on the issue
of civil war. Count Trautmansdorff, the imperial minister at
Brussels, and General D'Alton, who commanded the Austrian troops,
took a high tone, and evinced a peremptory resolution. The soldiery
and the citizens soon came into contact on many points; and blood
was spilled at Brussels, Mechlin, and Antwerp.

The provincial states were convoked, for the purpose of voting
the usual subsidies. Brabant, after some opposition, consented; but
the states of Hainault unanimously refused the vote. The emperor
saw, or supposed, that the necessity for decisive measures was
now inevitable. The refractory states were dissolved, and arrests
and imprisonments were multiplied in all quarters. Vander Noot,
who had escaped to England, soon returned to the Netherlands,
and established a committee at Breda, which conferred on him the
imposing title of agent plenipotentiary of the people of Brabant.
He hoped, under this authority, to interest the English, Prussian,
and Dutch governments in favor of his views; but his proposals
were coldly received: Protesiant states had little sympathy for
a people whose resistance was excited, not by tyrannical efforts
against freedom, but by broad measures of civil and religious
reformation; the only fault of which was their attempted application
to minds wholly incompetent to comprehend their value.

Left to themselves, the Belgians soon gave a display of that
energetic valor which is natural to them, and which would be
entitled to still greater admiration had it been evinced in a
worthier cause. During the fermentation which led to a general
rising in the provinces, on the impulse of fanatic zeal, the
truly enlightened portion of the people conceived the project of
raising, on the ruins of monkish superstition and aristocratical
power, an edifice of constitutional freedom. Vonck, also an advocate
of Brussels, took the lead in this splendid design; and he and
his friends proved themselves to have reached the level of that
true enlightenment which distinguished the close of the eighteenth
century. But the Vonckists, as they were called, formed but a
small minority compared with the besotted mass; and, overwhelmed
by fanaticism on the one hand, and despotism on the other, they
were unable to act effectually for the public good. Vander Mersch,
a soldier of fortune, and a man of considerable talents, who had
raised himself from the ranks to the command of a regiment, and
had been formed in the school of the seven years' war, was appointed
to the command of the patriot forces. Joseph II. was declared
to have forfeited his sovereignty in Brabant; and hostilities
soon commenced by a regular advance of the insurgent army upon
that province. Vander Mersch displayed consummate ability in
this crisis, where so much depended upon the prudence of the
military chief. He made no rash attempt, to which commanders are
sometimes induced by reliance upon the enthusiasm of a newly
revolted people. He, however, took the earliest safe opportunity
of coming to blows with the enemy; and, having cleverly induced
the Austrians to follow him into the very streets of the town
of Turnhout, he there entered on a bloody contest, and finally
defeated the imperialists with considerable loss. He next manoeuvred
with great ability, and succeeded in making his way into the
province of Flanders, took Ghent by assault, and soon reduced
Bruges, Ypres, and Ostend. At the news of these successes, the
governors-general quitted Brussels in all haste. The states of
Flanders assembled, in junction with those of Brabant. Both provinces
were freed from the presence of the Austrian troops. Vander Noot
and the committee of Breda made an entrance into Brussels with
all the pomp of royalty; and in the early part of the following
year (1790) a treaty of union was signed by the seven revolted
provinces, now formed into a confederation under the name of
the United Belgian States.

All the hopes arising from these brilliant events were soon,
however, to be blighted by the scorching heats of faction. Joseph
II., whose temperament appears to have been too sensitive to
support the shock of disappointment in plans which sprung from the
purest motives, saw, in addition to this successful insurrection
against his power, his beloved sister, the queen of France, menaced
with the horrors of an inevitable revolution. His over-sanguine
expectations of successfully rivalling the glory of Frederick
and Catherine, and the ill success of his war against the Turks,
all tended to break down his enthusiastic spirit, which only
wanted the elastic resistance of fortitude to have made him a
great character. He for some time sunk into a profound melancholy;
and expired on the 20th of January, 1791, accusing his Belgian
subjects of having caused his premature death.

Leopold, the successor of his brother, displayed much sagacity
and moderation in the measures which he adopted for the recovery
of the revolted provinces; but their internal disunion was the
best ally of the new emperor. The violent party which now ruled
at Brussels had ungratefully forgotten the eminent services of
Vander Mersch, and accused him of treachery, merely from his
attachment to the noble views and principles of the widely-increasing
party of the Vonckists. Induced by the hope of reconciling the
opposing parties, he left his army in Namur, and imprudently
ventured into the power of General Schoenfeld, who commanded
the troops of the states. Vander Mersch was instantly arrested
and thrown into prison, where he lingered for months, until set
free by the overthrow of the faction he had raised to power; but
he did not recover his liberty to witness the realization of
his hopes for that of his country. The states-general, in their
triumph over all that was truly patriotic, occupied themselves
solely in contemptible labors to establish the monkish absurdities
which Joseph had suppressed. The overtures of the new emperor were
rejected with scorn; and, as might be expected from this combination
of bigotry and rashness, the imperial troops under General Bender
marched quietly to the conquest of the whole country; town after
town opening their gates, while Vander Noot and his partisans
betook themselves to rapid and disgraceful flight. On the 10th
of December, 1791, the ministers of the emperor concluded a
convention with those of England, Russia, and Holland (which
powers guaranteed its execution), by which Leopold granted an
amnesty for all past offences, and confirmed to all his recovered
provinces their ancient constitution and privileges; and, thus
returning under the domination of Austria, Belgium saw its best
chance for successfully following the noble example of the United
Provinces paralyzed by the short-sighted bigotry which deprived
the national courage of all moral force.

Leopold enjoyed but a short time the fruits of his well-measured
indulgence: he died, almost suddenly, March 1, 1792; and was
succeeded by his son Francis II., whose fate it was to see those
provinces of Belgium, which had cost his ancestors so many struggles
to maintain, wrested forever from the imperial power. Belgium
presented at this period an aspect of paramount interest to the
world; less owing to its intrinsic importance than to its becoming
at once the point of contest between the contending powers, and
the theatre of the terrible struggle between republican France and
the monarchs she braved and battled with. The whole combinations
of European policy were staked on the question of the French
possession of this country.

This war between France and Austria began its earliest operations
on the very first days after the accession of Francis II. The
victory of Jemappes, gained by Dumouriez, was the first great
event of the campaign. The Austrians were on all sides driven
out. Dumouriez made his triumphal entry into Brussels on the
13th of November; and immediately after the occupation of this
town the whole of Flanders, Brabant, and Hainault, with the other
Belgian provinces, were subjected to France. Soon afterward several
pretended deputies from the Belgian people hastened to Paris, and
implored the convention to grant them a share of that liberty
and equality which was to confer such inestimable blessings on
France. Various decrees were issued in consequence; and after
the mockery of a public choice, hurried on in several of the
towns by hired Jacobins and well-paid patriots, the incorporation
of the Austrian Netherlands with the French republic was formally

The next campaign destroyed this whole fabric of revolution.
Dumouriez, beaten at Nerwinde by the prince of Saxe-Coburg, abandoned
not only his last year's conquest, but fled from his own army to
pass the remainder of his life on a foreign soil, and leave his
reputation a doubtful legacy to history. Belgium, once again in
the possession of Austria, was placed under the government of
the archduke Charles, the emperor's brother, who was destined
to a very brief continuance in this precarious authority.

During this and the succeeding year the war was continued with
unbroken perseverance and a constant fluctuation in its results.
In the various battles which were fought, and the sieges which took
place, the English army was, as usual, in the foremost ranks, under
the Duke of York, second son of George III. The Prince of Orange,
at the head of the Dutch troops, proved his inheritance of the
valor which seems inseparable from the name of Nassau. The archduke
Charles laid the foundation of his subsequent high reputation.
The emperor Francis himself fought valiantly at the head of his
troops. But all the coalesced courage of these princes and their
armies could not effectually stop the progress of the republican
arms. The battle of Fleurus rendered the French completely masters
of Belgium; and the representatives of the city of Brussels once
more repaired to the national convention of France, to solicit
the reincorporation of the two countries. This was not, however,
finally pronounced till the 1st of October, 1795, by which time
the violence of an arbitrary government had given the people a
sample of what they were to expect. The Austrian Netherlands and
the province of Liege were divided into nine departments, forming
an integral part of the French republic; and this new state of
things was consolidated by the preliminaries of peace, signed
at Leoben in Styria, between the French general Bonaparte and the
archduke Charles, and confirmed by the treaty of Campo-Formio
on the 17th of October, 1797.



A.D. 1794--1818

While the fate of Belgium was decided on the plains of Fleurus,
Pichegru prepared to carry the triumphant arms of France into
the heart of Holland. He crossed the Meuse at the head of one
hundred thousand men, and soon gained possession of most of the
chief places of Flanders. An unusually severe winter was setting
in; but a circumstance which in common cases retards the operations
of war was, in the present instance, the means of hurrying on the
conquest on which the French general was bent. The arms of the
sea, which had hitherto been the best defences of Holland, now
became solid masses of ice; battlefields, on which the soldiers
manoeuvred and the artillery thundered, as if the laws of the
elements were repealed to hasten the fall of the once proud and
long flourishing republic. Nothing could arrest the ambitious
ardor of the invaders. The Duke of York and his brave army resisted
to the utmost; but, borne down by numbers, he was driven from
position to position. Batteries, cannons, and magazines were
successfully taken; and Pichegru was soon at the term of his
brilliant exploits.

But Holland speedily ceased to be a scene of warfare. The
discontented portion of the citizens, now the majority, rejoiced
to retaliate the revolution of 1787 by another, received the French
as liberators. Reduced to extremity, yet still capable by the aid
of his allies of making a long and desperate resistance, the
stadtholder took the nobler resolution of saving his fellow-citizens
from the horrors of prolonged warfare. He repaired to The Hague;
presented himself in the assembly of the states-general; and
solemnly deposited in their hands the exercise of the supreme
power, which he found he could no longer wield but to entail
misery and ruin on his conquered country. After this splendid
instance of true patriotism and rare virtue, he quitted Holland and
took refuge in England. The states-general dissolved a national
assembly installed at The Hague; and, the stadtholderate abolished,
the United Provinces now changed their form of government, their
long-cherished institutions, and their very name, and were christened
the Batavian Republic.

Assurances of the most flattering nature were profusely showered
on the new state, by the sister republic which had effected this
new revolution. But the first measure of regeneration was the
necessity of paying for the recovered independence, which was
effected for the sum of one hundred million florins. The new
constitution was almost entirely modelled on that of France,
and the promised independence soon became a state of deplorable
suffering and virtual slavery. Incalculable evils were the portion
of Holland in the part which she was forced to take in the war
between France and England. Her marine was nearly annihilated,
and some of her most valuable possessions in the Indies ravished
from her by the British arms. She was at the same time obliged
to cede to her ally the whole of Dutch Flanders, Maestricht,
Venloo, and their dependencies; and to render free and common
to both nations the navigation of the Rhine, the Meuse, and the

The internal situation of the unfortunate republic was deplorable.
Under the weight of an enormous and daily increasing debt, all
the resources of trade and industry were paralyzed. Universal
misery took place of opulence, and not even the consolation of a
free constitution remained to the people. They vainly sought that
blessing from each new government of the country whose destinies
they followed, but whose advantages they did not share. They saw
themselves successively governed by the states-general, a national
assembly, and the directory. But these ephemeral authorities had
not sufficient weight to give the nation domestic happiness,
nor consideration among the other powers.

On the 11th of October, 1797, the English admiral, Sir Adam Duncan,
with a superior force, encountered the Dutch fleet under De Winter
off Camperdown; and in spite of the bravery of the latter he was
taken prisoner, with nine ships of the line and a frigate. An
expedition on an extensive scale was soon after fitted out in
England, to co-operate with a Russian force for the establishment
of the House of Orange. The Helder was the destination of this
armament, which was commanded by Sir Ralph Abercrombie. The Duke of
York soon arrived in the Texel with a considerable reinforcement.
A series of severe, and well-contested actions near Bergen ended
in the defeat of the allies and the abandonment of the enterprise;
the only success of which was the capture of the remains of the
Dutch fleet, which was safely conveyed to England.

From this period the weight of French oppression became every
day more intolerable in Holland. Ministers, generals, and every
other species of functionary, with swarms of minor tyrants, while
treating the country as a conquered province, deprived it of all
share in the brilliant though checkered glories gained by that
to which it was subservient. The Dutch were robbed of national
independence and personal freedom. While the words "liberty" and
"equality" were everywhere emblazoned, the French ambassador
assumed an almost Oriental despotism. The language and forms of a
free government were used only to sanction a foreign tyranny; and
the Batavian republic, reduced to the most hopeless and degraded
state, was in fact but a forced appendage chained to the triumphal
car of France.

Napoleon Bonaparte, creating by the force of his prodigious talents
the circumstances of which inferior minds are but the creatures, now
rapidly rose to the topmost height of power. He not only towered
above the mass of prejudices which long custom had legalized,
but spurned the multitude by whom these prejudices had been
overthrown. Yet he was not of the first order of great minds;
for he wanted that grand principle of self-control which is the
supreme attribute of greatness. Potent, and almost irresistible
in every conflict with others, and only to be vanquished by his
own acts, he possessed many of the higher qualities of genius.
He was rapid, resolute, and daring, filled with contempt for
the littleness of mankind, yet molding every atom which composed
that littleness to purposes at utter variance with its nature.
In defiance of the first essence of republican theory, he built
himself an imperial throne on the crushed privileges of a prostrate
people; and he lavished titles and dignities on men raised from
its very dregs, with a profusion which made nobility a byword of
scorn. Kingdoms were created for his brothers and his friends;
and the Batavian republic was made a monarchy, to give Louis a
dignity, or at least a title, like the rest.

The character of Louis Bonaparte was gentle and amiable, his
manners easy and affable. He entered on his new rank with the
best intentions toward the country which he was sent to reign
over; and though he felt acutely when the people refused him
marks of respect and applause, which was frequently the case,
his temper was not soured, and he conceived no resentment. He
endeavored to merit popularity; and though his power was scanty,
his efforts were not wholly unsuccessful. He labored to revive the
ruined trade, which he knew to be the staple of Dutch prosperity:
but the measures springing from this praiseworthy motive were
totally opposed to the policy of Napoleon; and in proportion as
Louis made friends and partisans among his subjects, he excited
bitter enmity in his imperial brother. Louis was so averse from
the continental system, or exclusion of British manufactures, that
during his short reign every facility was given to his subjects
to elude it, even in defiance of the orders conveyed to him from
Paris through the medium of the French ambassador at The Hague.
He imposed no restraints on public opinion, nor would he establish
the odious system of espionage cherished by the French police;
but he was fickle in his purposes, and prodigal in his expenses.
The profuseness of his expenditure was very offensive to the
Dutch notions of respectability in matters of private finance,
and injurious to the existing state of the public means. The
tyranny of Napoleon became soon quite insupportable to him; so
much so, that it is believed that had the ill-fated English
expedition to Walcheren in 1809 succeeded, and the army advanced
into the country, he would have declared war against France.
After an ineffectual struggle of more than three years, he chose
rather to abdicate his throne than retain it under the degrading
conditions of proconsulate subserviency. This measure excited
considerable regret, and much esteem for the man who preferred
the retirement of private life to the meanness of regal slavery.
But Louis left a galling memento of misplaced magnificence, in
an increase of ninety millions of florins (about nine millions
sterling) to the already oppressive amount of the national debt
of the country.

The annexation of Holland to the French empire was immediately
pronounced by Napoleon. Two-thirds of the national debt were
abolished, the conscription law was introduced, and the Berlin
and Milan decrees against the introduction of British manufactures
were rigidly enforced. The nature of the evils inflicted on the
Dutch people by this annexation and its consequences demand a
somewhat minute examination. Previous to it all that part of
the territory of the former United Provinces had been ceded to
France. The kingdom of Holland consisted of the departments of
the Zuyder Zee, the mouths of the Maese, the Upper Yssel, the
mouths of the Yssel, Friesland, and the Western and Eastern Ems;
and the population of the whole did not exceed one million eight
hundred thousand souls. When Louis abdicated his throne, he left
a military and naval force of eighteen thousand men, who were
immediately taken into the service of France; and in three years
and a half after that event this number was increased to fifty
thousand, by the operation of the French naval and military code:
thus about a thirty-sixth part of the whole population was employed
in arms. The forces included in the maritime conscription were
wholly employed in the navy. The national guards were on constant
duty in the garrisons or naval establishments. The cohorts were
by law only liable to serve in the _interior_ of the French
empire--that is to say, from Hamburg to Rome; but after the Russian
campaign, this limitation was disregarded, and they formed a
part of Napoleon's army at the battle of Bautzen.

The conscription laws now began to be executed with the greatest
rigor; and though the strictest justice and impartiality were
observed in the ballot and other details of this most oppressive
measure, yet it has been calculated that, on an average, nearly
one-half of the male population of the age of twenty years was
annually taken off. The conscripts were told that their service was
not to extend beyond the term of five years; but as few instances
occurred of a French soldier being discharged without his being
declared unfit for service, it was always considered in Holland
that the service of a conscript was tantamount to an obligation
during life. Besides, the regulations respecting the conscription
were annually changed, by which means the code became each year
more intricate and confused; and as the explanation of any doubt
rested with the functionaries, to whom the execution of the law
was confided, there was little chance of their constructions
mitigating its severity.

But the conscription, however galling, was general in its operation.
Not so the formation of the emperor's guard of honor. The members
of this patrician troop were chosen from the most noble and opulent
families, particularly those who were deemed inimical to the French
connection. The selection depended altogether on the prefect, who
was sure to name those most obnoxious to his political or personal
dislike, without regard to their rank or occupation, or even the
state of their health. No exemption was admitted--not even to
those who from mental or bodily infirmity, or other cause, had
been declared unfit for general military duty. The victims were
forced to the mockery of volunteering their services; obliged to
provide themselves with horses, arms, and accoutrements; and when
arrived at the depot appointed for their assembling, considered
probably but as hostages for the fidelity of their relatives.

The various taxes were laid on and levied in the most oppressive
manner; those on land usually amounting to twenty-five, and those
on houses to thirty per cent of the clear annual rent. Other
direct taxes were levied on persons and movable property, and
all were regulated on a scale of almost intolerable severity. The
whole sum annually obtained from Holland by these means amounted
to about thirty millions of florins (or three million pounds
sterling), being at the rate of about one pound thirteen shillings
four pence from every soul inhabiting the country.

The operation of what was called the continental system created
an excess of misery in Holland, only to be understood by those who
witnessed its lamentable results. In other countries, Belgium for
instance, where great manufactories existed, the loss of maritime
communication was compensated by the exclusion of English goods. In
states possessed of large and fertile territories, the population
which could no longer be employed in commerce might be occupied
in agricultural pursuits. But in Holland, whose manufactures were
inconsiderable, and whose territory is insufficient to support
its inhabitants, the destruction of trade threw innumerable
individuals wholly out of employment, and produced a graduated
scale of poverty in all ranks. A considerable part of the population
had been employed in various branches of the traffic carried on
by means of the many canals which conveyed merchandise from the
seaports into the interior, and to the different continental
markets. When the communication with England was cut off, principals
and subordinates were involved in a common ruin.

In France, the effect of the continental system was somewhat
alleviated by the license trade, the exportation of various
productions forced on the rest of continental Europe, and the
encouragement given to home manufactures. But all this was reversed
in Holland: the few licenses granted to the Dutch were clogged
with duties so exorbitant as to make them useless; the duties on
one ship which entered the Maese, loaded with sugar and coffee,
amounting to about fifty thousand pounds sterling. At the same
time every means was used to crush the remnant of Dutch commerce
and sacrifice the country to France. The Dutch troops were clothed
and armed from French manufactories; the frontiers were opened
to the introduction of French commodities duty free; and the
Dutch manufacturer undersold in his own market.

The population of Amsterdam was reduced from two hundred and
twenty thousand souls to one hundred and ninety thousand, of which
a fourth part derived their whole subsistence from charitable
institutions, while another fourth part received partial succor
from the same sources. At Haarlem, where the population had been
chiefly employed in bleaching and preparing linen made in Brabant,
whole streets were levelled with the ground, and more than five
hundred houses destroyed. At The Hague, at Delft, and in other
towns, many inhabitants had been induced to pull down their houses,
from inability to keep them in repair or pay the taxes. The
preservation of the dikes, requiring an annual expense of six
hundred thousand pounds sterling, was everywhere neglected. The
sea inundated the country, and threatened to resume its ancient
dominion. No object of ambition, no source of professional wealth
or distinction, remained to which a Hollander could aspire. None
could voluntarily enter the army or navy, to fight for the worst
enemy of Holland. The clergy were not provided with a decent
competency. The ancient laws of the country, so dear to its pride
and its prejudices, were replaced by the Code Napoleon; so that
old practitioners had to recommence their studies, and young
men were disgusted with the drudgery of learning a system which
was universally pronounced unfit for a commercial country.

Independent of this mass of positive ill, it must be borne in
mind that in Holland trade was not merely a means of gaining
wealth, but a passion long and deeply grafted on the national
mind: so that the Dutch felt every aggravation of calamity,
considering themselves degraded and sacrificed by a power which
had robbed them of all which attaches a people to their native
land; and, for an accumulated list of evils, only offered them
the empty glory of appertaining to the country which gave the
law to all the nations of Europe, with the sole exception of

Those who have considered the events noted in this history for
the last two hundred years, and followed the fluctuations of
public opinion depending on prosperity or misfortune, will have
anticipated that, in the present calamitous state of the country,
all eyes were turned toward the family whose memory was revived by
every pang of slavery, and associated with every throb for freedom.
The presence of the Prince of Orange, William IV., who had, on
the death of his father, succeeded to the title, though he had
lost the revenues of his ancient house, and the re-establishment
of the connection with England, were now the general desire.
Some of the principal partisans of the House of Nassau were for
some time in correspondence with his most serene highness. The
leaders of the various parties into which the country was divided
became by degrees more closely united. Approaches toward a better
understanding were reciprocally made; and they ended in a general
anxiety for the expulsion of the French, with the establishment
of a free constitution, and a cordial desire that the Prince of
Orange should be at its head. It may be safely affirmed, that,
at the close of the year 1813, these were the unanimous wishes
of the Dutch nation.

Napoleon, lost in the labyrinths of his exorbitant ambition,
afforded at length a chance of redress to the nations he had
enslaved. Elevated so suddenly and so high, he seemed suspended
between two influences, and unfit for either. He might, in a
moral view, be said to have breathed badly, in a station which
was beyond the atmosphere of his natural world, without being
out of its attraction; and having reached the pinnacle, he soon
lost his balance and fell. Driven from Russia by the junction of
human with elemental force, in 1812, he made some grand efforts
in the following year to recover from his irremediable reverses.
The battles of Bautzen and Lutzen were the expiring efforts of
his greatness. That of Leipzig put a fatal negative upon the
hopes that sprang from the two former; and the obstinate ambition,
which at this epoch made him refuse the most liberal offers of
the allies, was justly punished by humiliation and defeat. Almost
all the powers of Europe now leagued against him; and France
itself being worn out by his wasteful expenditure of men and
money, he had no longer a chance in resistance. The empire was
attacked at all points. The French troops in Holland were drawn
off to reinforce the armies in distant directions; and the whole
military force in that country scarcely exceeded ten thousand
men. The advance of the combined armies toward the frontiers
became generally known: parties of Cossacks had entered the north
of Holland in November, and were scouring the country beyond the
Yssel. The moment for action on the part of the Dutch confederate
patriots had now arrived; and it was not lost or neglected.

A people inured to revolutions for upward of two centuries, filled
with proud recollections, and urged on by well-digested hopes,
were the most likely to understand the best period and the surest
means for success. An attempt that might have appeared to other
nations rash was proved to be wise, both by the reasonings of its
authors and its own results. The intolerable tyranny of France
had made the population not only ripe, but eager for revolt.
This disposition was acted on by a few enterprising men, at once
partisans of the House of Orange and patriots in the truest sense
of the word. It would be unjust to omit the mention of some of
their names in even this sketch of the events which sprang from
their courage and sagacity. Count Styrum, Messieurs Repelaer
d'Jonge, Van Hogendorp, Vander Duyn van Maasdam, and Changuion,
were the chiefs of the intrepid junta which planned and executed
the bold measures of enfranchisement, and drew up the outlines
of the constitution which was afterward enlarged and ratified.
Their first movements at The Hague were totally unsupported by
foreign aid. Their early checks from the exasperated French and
their overcautious countrymen would have deterred most men embarked
in so perilous a venture; but they never swerved nor shrank back.
At the head of a force, which courtesy and policy called an army,
of three hundred national guards badly armed, fifty citizens
carrying fowling-pieces, fifty soldiers of the old Dutch guard,
four hundred auxiliary citizens armed with pikes, and a cavalry
force of twenty young men, the confederates oddly proclaimed
the Prince of Orange, on the 17th of November, 1813, in their
open village of The Hague, and in the teeth of a French force of
full ten thousand men, occupying every fortress in the country.

While a few gentlemen thus boldly came forward, at their own
risk, with no funds but their private fortunes, and only aided by
an unarmed populace, to declare war against the French emperor,
they did not even know the residence of the exiled prince in
whose cause they were now so completely compromised. The other
towns of Holland were in a state of the greatest incertitude:
Rotterdam had not moved; and the intentions of Admiral Kickert,
who commanded there, were (mistakenly) supposed to be decidedly
hostile to the national cause. Amsterdam had, on the preceding
day, been the scene of a popular commotion, which, however, bore
no decided character; the rioters having been fired on by the
national guard, no leader coming forward, and the proclamation
of the magistrates cautiously abstaining from any allusion to
the Prince of Orange. A brave officer, Captain Falck, had made
use of many strong but inefficient arguments to prevail on the
timid corporation to declare for the prince; the presence of
a French garrison of sixty men seeming sufficient to preserve
their patriotism from any violent excess.

The subsequent events at The Hague furnish an inspiring lesson for
all people who would learn that to be free they must be resolute
and daring. The only hope of the confederates was from the British
government, and the combined armies then acting in the north of
Europe. But many days were to be lingered through before troops
could be embarked, and make their way from England in the teeth
of the easterly winds then prevailing; while a few Cossacks,
hovering on the confines of Holland, gave the only evidence of
the proximity of the allied forces.

In this crisis, it was most fortunate that the French prefect
at The Hague, M. de Stassart, had stolen away on the earliest
alarm; and the French garrison of four hundred chasseurs, aided
by one hundred well-armed custom-house officers, under the command
of General Bouvier des Eclats, caught the contagious fears of the
civil functionary. This force had retired to the old palace--a
building in the centre of the town, the depot of all the arms and
ammunition then at The Hague, and, from its position, capable
of some defence. But the general and his garrison soon felt a
complete panic from the bold attitude of Count Styrum, who made
the most of his little means, and kept up, during the night, a
prodigious clatter by his twenty horsemen; sentinels challenging,
amid incessant singing and shouting, cries of "Oranje boven!"
"Vivat Oranje!" and clamorous patrols of the excited citizens.
At an early hour on the 18th, the French general demanded terms,
and obtained permission to retire on Gorcum, his garrison being
escorted as far as the village of Ryswyk by the twenty cavaliers
who composed the whole mounted force of the patriots.

Unceasing efforts were now made to remedy the want of arms and
men. A quantity of pikes were rudely made and distributed to
the volunteers who crowded in; and numerous fishing-boats were
despatched in different directions to inform the British cruisers
of the passing events. An individual named Pronck, an inhabitant
of Schævening, a village of the coast, rendered great services
in this way, from his influence among the sailors and fishermen
in the neighborhood.

The confederates spared no exertion to increase the confidence
of the people under many contradictory and disheartening
contingencies. An officer who had been despatched for advice
and information to Baron Bentinck, at Zwolle, who was in
communication with the allies, returned with the discouraging
news that General Bulow had orders not to pass the Yssel, the
allies having decided not to advance into Holland beyond the
line of that river. A meeting of the ancient regents of The Hague
was convoked by the proclamation of the confederates, and took
place at the house of Mr. Van Hogendorp, the ancient residence
of the De Witts. The wary magistrates absolutely refused all
co-operation in the daring measures of the confederates, who
had now the whole responsibility on their heads, with little to
cheer them on in their perilous career but their own resolute
hearts and the recollection of those days when their ancestors,
with odds as fearfully against them, rose up and shivered to
atoms the yoke of their oppressors.

Some days of intense anxiety now elapsed; and various incidents
occurred to keep up the general excitement. Reinforcements came
gradually in; no hostile measure was resorted to by the French
troops; yet the want of success, as rapid as was proportioned
to the first movements of the revolution, threw a gloom over
all. Amsterdam and Rotterdam still held back; but the nomination
of Messrs. Van Hogendorp and Vander Duyn van Maasdam to be heads
of the government, until the arrival of the Prince of Orange,
and a formal abjuration of the emperor Napoleon, inspired new
vigor into the public mind. Two nominal armies were formed, and
two generals appointed to the command; and it is impossible to
resist a smile of mingled amusement and admiration on reading the
exact statement of the forces, so pompously and so effectively
announced as forming the armies of Utrecht and Gorcum.

The first of these, commanded by Major-General D'Jonge, consisted
of three hundred infantry, thirty-two volunteer cavalry, with two
eight-pounders. The latter, under the orders of Major-General
Sweertz van Landas, was composed of two hundred and fifty of The
Hague Orange Guard, thirty Prussian deserters from the French
garrison, three hundred volunteers, forty cavalry, with two

The "army of Gorcum" marched on the 22d on Rotterdam: its arrival
was joyfully hailed by the people, who contributed three hundred
volunteers to swell its ranks. The "army of Utrecht" advanced
on Leyden, and raised the spirits of the people by the display
of even so small a force. But still the contrary winds kept back
all appearance of succor from England, and the enemy was known to
meditate a general attack on the patriot lines from Amsterdam to
Dordrecht. The bad state of the roads still retarded the approach
of the far-distant armies of the allies; alarms, true and false,
were spread on all hands--when the appearance of three hundred
Cossacks, detached from the Russian armies beyond the Yssel,
prevailed over the hesitation of Amsterdam and the other towns,
and they at length declared for the Prince of Orange.

But this somewhat tardy determination seemed to be the signal for
various petty events, which at an epoch like that were magnified
into transactions of the most fatal import. A reinforcement of one
thousand five hundred French troops reached Gorcum from Antwerp:
a detachment of twenty-five Dutch, with a piece of cannon, were
surprised at one of the outposts of Woerden, which had been
previously evacuated by the French, and the recapture of the town
was accompanied by some excesses. The numbers and the cruelties of
the enemy were greatly exaggerated. Consternation began to spread
all over the country. The French, who seemed to have recovered
from their panic, had resumed on all sides offensive operations.
The garrison of Gorcum made a sortie, repulsed the force under
General Van Landas, entered the town of Dordrecht, and levied
contributions; but the inhabitants soon expelled them, and the
army was enabled to resume its position.

Still the wind continued adverse to arrivals from the English
coast; the Cossacks, so often announced, had not yet reached
The Hague; and the small unsupported parties in the neighborhood
of Amsterdam were in daily danger of being cut off.

In this crisis the confederates were placed in a most critical
position. On the eve of failure, and with the certainty, in such
a result, of being branded as rebels and zealots, whose rashness
had drawn down ruin on themselves, their families, and their
country, it required no common share of fortitude to bear up
against the danger that threatened them. Aware of its extent,
they calmly and resolutely opposed it; and each seemed to vie
with the others in energy and firmness.

The anxiety of the public had reached the utmost possible height.
Every shifting of the wind was watched with nervous agitation.
The road from The Hague to the sea was constantly covered with
a crowd of every age and sex. Each sail that came in sight was
watched and examined with intense interest; and at length, on the
26th of November, a small boat was seen to approach the shore,
and the inquiring glances of the observers soon discovered that
it contained an Englishman. This individual, who had come over
on a mercantile adventure, landed amid the loudest acclamation,
and was conducted by the populace in triumph to the governor's.
Dressed in an English volunteer uniform, he showed himself in
every part of the town, to the great delight of the people, who
hailed him as the precursor and type of an army of deliverers.

The French soon retreated before the marvellous exaggerations
which the coming of this single Englishman gave rise to. The
Dutch displayed great ability in the transmission of false
intelligence to the enemy. On the 27th Mr. Fagel arrived from
England with a letter from the Prince of Orange, announcing his
immediate coming; and finally, the disembarkation of two hundred
English marines, on the 29th, was followed the next day by the
landing of the prince, whose impatience to throw himself into the
open arms of his country made him spurn every notion of risk and
every reproach for rashness. He was received with indescribable
enthusiasm. The generous flame rushed through the whole country.
No bounds were set to the affectionate confidence of the nation,
and no prince ever gave a nobler example of gratitude. As the
people everywhere proclaimed William I. sovereign prince, it
was proposed that he should everywhere assume that title. It
was, however, after some consideration, decided that no step of
this nature should be taken till his most serene highness had
visited the capital. On the 1st of December the prince issued a
proclamation to his countrymen, in which he states his hopes of
becoming, by the blessing of Providence, the means of restoring
them to their former state of independence and prosperity. "This,"
continued he, "is my only object; and I have the satisfaction of
assuring you that it is also the object of the combined powers.
This is particularly the wish of the prince regent and the British
nation; and it will be proved to you by the succor which that
powerful people will immediately afford you, and which will, I
hope, restore those ancient bonds of alliance and friendship which
were a source of prosperity and happiness to both countries." This
address being distributed at Amsterdam, a proclamation, signed
by the commissioners of the confederate patriots, was published
there the same day. It contained the following passages, remarkable
as being the first authentic declaration of the sovereignty
subsequently conferred on the Prince of Orange: "The uncertainty
which formerly existed as to the executive power will no longer
paralyze your efforts. It is not William, the sixth stadtholder,
whom the nation recalls, without knowing what to hope or expect
from him; but William I. who offers himself as sovereign prince
of this free country." The following day, the 2d of December,
the prince made his entry into Amsterdam. He did not, like some
other sovereigns, enter by a breach through the constitutional
liberties of his country, in imitation of the conquerors from
the Olympic games, who returned to the city by a breach in its
walls: he went forward borne on the enthusiastic greetings of
his fellow-countrymen, and meeting their confidence by a full
measure of magnanimity. On the 3d of December he published an
address, from which we shall quote one paragraph: "You desire,
Netherlands! that I should be intrusted with a greater share
of power than I should have possessed but for my absence. Your
confidence, your affection, offer me the sovereignty; and I am
called upon to accept it, since the state of my country and the
situation of Europe require it. I accede to your wishes. I overlook
the difficulties which may attend such a measure; I accept the
offer which you have made me; but I accept it only on one
condition--that it shall be accompanied by a wise constitution,
which shall guarantee your liberties and secure them against
every attack. My ancestors sowed the seeds of your independence:
the preservation of that independence shall be the constant object
of the efforts of myself and those around me."



A.D. 1814--1815

The regeneration of Holland was rapid and complete. Within four
months, an army of twenty-five thousand men was raised; and in
the midst of financial, judicial, and commercial arrangements,
the grand object of the constitution was calmly and seriously
debated. A committee, consisting of fourteen persons of the first
importance in the several provinces, furnished the result of
three months' labors in the plan of a political code, which was
immediately printed and published for the consideration of the
people at large. Twelve hundred names were next chosen from among
the most respectable householders in the different towns and
provinces, including persons of every religious persuasion, whether
Jews or Christians. A special commission was then formed, who
selected from this number six hundred names; and every housekeeper
was called on to give his vote for or against their election. A
large majority of the six hundred notables thus chosen met at
Amsterdam on the 28th of March, 1814. The following day they
assembled with an immense concourse of people in the great church,
which was splendidly fitted up for the occasion; and then and
there the prince, in an impressive speech, solemnly offered the
constitution for acceptance or rejection. After a few hours'
deliberation, a discharge of artillery announced to the anxious
population that the constitution had been accepted. The numbers
present were four hundred and eighty-three, and the votes as
follows: Ayes, four hundred and fifty-eight; Noes, twenty-five.

There were one hundred and seventeen members absent; several
of these were kept away by unavoidable obstacles. The majority
among them was considered as dissentients; but it was calculated
that if the whole body of six hundred had voted, the adoption
of the constitution would have been carried by a majority of
five-sixths. The dissentients chiefly objected to the power of
declaring war and concluding treaties of peace being vested in
the sovereign. Some individuals urged that the Protestant interest
was endangered by the admission of persons of every persuasion
to all public offices; and the Catholics complained that the
state did not sufficiently contribute to the support of their
religious establishments.

Such objections as these were to be expected, from individual
interest or sectarian prejudices. But they prove that the whole
plan was fairly considered and solemnly adopted; that so far from
being the dictation of a government, it was the freely chosen
charter of the nation at large, offered and sworn to by the prince,
whose authority was only exerted in restraining and modifying
the overardent generosity and confidence of the people.

Only one day more elapsed before the new sovereign was solemnly
inaugurated, and took the oath prescribed by the constitution:
"I swear that first and above all things I will maintain the
constitution of the United Netherlands, and that I will promote,
to the utmost of my power, the independence of the state and
the liberty and prosperity of its inhabitants." In the eloquent
simplicity of this pledge, the Dutch nation found an ample guarantee
for their freedom and happiness. With their characteristic wisdom
and moderation, they saw that the obligation it imposed embraced
everything they could demand; and they joined in the opinion
expressed by the sovereign in his inaugural address, that "no
greater degree of liberty could be desired by rational subjects,
nor any larger share of power by the sovereign, than that allotted
to them respectively by the political code."

While Holland thus resumed its place among free nations, and France
was restored to the Bourbons by the abdication of Napoleon, the
allied armies had taken possession of and occupied the remainder of
the Low Countries, or those provinces distinguished by the name of
Belgium (but then still forming departments of the French empire),
and the provisional government was vested in Baron Vincent, the
Austrian general. This choice seemed to indicate an intention
of restoring Austria to her ancient domination over the country.
Such was certainly the common opinion among those who had no means
of penetrating the secrets of European policy at that important
epoch. It was, in fact, quite conformable to the principle of
_statu_quo_ante_bellum_, adopted toward France. Baron Vincent
himself seemed to have been impressed with the false notion;
and there did not exist a doubt throughout Belgium of the
re-establishment of the old institutions.

But the intentions of the allied powers were of a nature far
different. The necessity of a consolidated state capable of offering
a barrier to French aggression on the Flemish frontier was evident
to the various powers who had so long suffered from its want. By
England particularly, such a field was required for the operations
of her armies; and it was also to the interest of that nation that
Holland, whose welfare and prosperity are so closely connected
with her own, should enjoy the blessings of national independence
and civil liberty, guaranteed by internal strength as well as
friendly alliances.

The treaty of Paris (30th May, 1814), was the first act which
gave an open manifestation of this principle. It was stipulated
by its sixth article; that "Holland, placed under the sovereignty
of the House of Orange, should receive an increase of territory."
In this was explained the primitive notion of the creation of the
kingdom of the Netherlands, based on the necessity of augmenting
the power of a nation which was destined to turn the balance
between France and Germany. The following month witnessed the
execution of the treaty of London, which prescribed the precise
nature of the projected increase.

It was wholly decided, without subjecting the question to the
approbation of Belgium, that that country and Holland should form
one United State; and the rules of government in the chief branches
of its administration were completely fixed. The Prince of Orange
and the plenipotentiaries of the great allied powers covenanted
by this treaty: first, that the union of the two portions forming
the kingdom of the Netherlands should be as perfect as possible,
forming one state, governed in conformity with the fundamental law
of Holland, which might be modified by common consent; secondly,
that religious liberty, and the equal right of citizens of all
persuasions to fill all the employments of the state, should
be maintained; thirdly, that the Belgian provinces should be
fairly represented in the assembly of the states-general, and
that the sessions of the states in time of peace should be held
alternately in Belgium and in Holland; fourthly and fifthly, that
all the commercial privileges of the country should be common
to the citizens at large; that the Dutch colonies should be
considered as belonging equally to Belgium; and, finally, that
the public debt of the two countries, and the expenses of its
interest, should be borne in common.

We shall now briefly recapitulate some striking points in the
materials which were thus meant to be amalgamated. Holland, wrenched
from the Spanish yoke by the genius and courage of the early
princes of Orange, had formed for two centuries an independent
republic, to which the extension of maritime commerce had given
immense wealth. The form of government was remarkable. It was
composed of seven provinces, mutually independent of each other.
These provinces possessed during the Middle Ages constitutions
nearly similar to that of England: a sovereign with limited power;
representatives of the nobles and commons, whose concurrence
with the prince was necessary for the formation of laws; and,
finally, the existence of municipal privileges, which each town
preserved and extended by means of its proper force. This state
of things had known but one alteration--but that a mighty one--the
forfeiture of Philip II. at the latter end of the sixteenth century,
and the total abolition of monarchical power.

The remaining forms of the government were hardly altered; so
that the state was wholly regulated by its ancient usages; and,
like some Gothic edifice, its beauty and solidity were perfectly
original, and different from the general rules and modern theories
of surrounding nations. The country loved its liberty such as
it found it, and not in the fashion of any Utopian plan traced
by some new-fangled system of political philosophy. Inherently
Protestant and commercial, the Dutch abhorred every yoke but
that of their own laws, of which they were proud even in their
abuse. They held in particular detestation all French customs,
in remembrance of the wretchedness they had suffered from French
tyranny; they had unbounded confidence in the House of Orange,
from long experience of its hereditary virtues. The main strength
of Holland was, in fact, in its recollections; but these, perhaps,
generated a germ of discontent, in leading it to expect a revival
of all the influence it had lost, and was little likely to recover,
in the total change of systems and the variations of trade. There
nevertheless remained sufficient capital in the country, and the
people were sufficiently enlightened, to give just and extensive
hope for the future which now dawned on them. The obstacles offered
by the Dutch character to the proposed union were chiefly to be
found in the dogmatical opinions, consequent on the isolation of
the country from all the principles that actuated other states, and
particularly that with which it was now joined: while long-cherished
sentiments of opposition to the Catholic religion was little
likely to lead to feelings of accommodation and sympathy with
its new fellow-citizens.

The inhabitants of Belgium, accustomed to foreign domination, were
little shocked by the fact of the allied powers having disposed
of their fate with consulting their wishes. But they were not so
indifferent to the double discovery of finding themselves the
subjects of a Dutch and a protestant king. Without entering at
large into any invidious discussion on the causes of the natural
jealousy which they felt toward Holland, it may suffice to state
that such did exist, and in no very moderate degree. The countries
had hitherto had but little community of interests with each
other; and they formed elements so utterly discordant as to afford
but slight hope that they would speedily coalesce. The lower
classes of the Belgian population were ignorant as well as
superstitious (not that these two qualities are to be considered
as inseparable); and if they were averse to the Dutch, they were
perhaps not more favorably disposed to the French and Austrians.
The majority of the nobles may be said to have leaned more, at
this period, to the latter than to either of the other two peoples.
But the great majority of the industrious and better informed
portions of the middle orders felt differently from the other
two, because they had found tangible and positive advantages in
their subjection to France, which overpowered every sentiment
of political degradation.

We thus see there was little sympathy between the members of the
national family. The first glance at the geographical position
of Holland and Belgium might lead to a belief that their interests
were analogous. But we have traced the anomalies in government
and religion in the two countries, which led to totally different
pursuits and feelings. Holland had sacrificed manufactures to
commerce. The introduction, duty free, of grain from the northern
parts of Europe, though checking the progress of agriculture,
had not prevented it to flourish marvellously, considering this
obstacle to culture; and, faithful to their traditional notions,
the Dutch saw the elements of well-being only in that liberty of
importation which had made their harbors the marts and magazines
of Europe. But the Belgian, to use the expressions of an acute
and well-informed writer, "restricted in the thrall of a less
liberal religion, is bounded in the narrow circle of his actual
locality. Concentrated in his home, he does not look beyond the
limits of his native land, which he regards exclusively. Incurious,
and stationary in a happy existence, he has no interest in what
passes beyond his own doors."

Totally unaccustomed to the free principles of trade, so cherished
by the Dutch, the Belgians had found under the protection of the
French custom-house laws, an internal commerce and agricultural
advantages which composed their peculiar prosperity. They found
a consumption for the produce of their well-cultivated lands, at
high prices, in the neighboring provinces of France. The webs
woven by the Belgian peasantry, and generally all the manufactures
of the country, met no rivalry from those of England, which were
strictly prohibited; and being commonly superior to those of
France, the sale was sure and the profit considerable.

Belgium was as naturally desirous of the state of things as Holland
was indifferent to it; but in could only have been accomplished
by the destruction of free trade, and the exclusive protection
of internal manufactures. Under such discrepancies as we have
thus traced in religion, character, and local interests, the
two countries were made one; and on the new monarch devolved
the hard and delicate task of reconciling each party in the
ill-assorted match, and inspiring them with sentiments of mutual

Under the title of governor-general of the Netherlands (for his
intended elevation to the throne and the definitive junction of
Holland and Belgium were still publicly unknown), the Prince of
Orange repaired to his new state. He arrived at Brussels in the
month of August, 1814, and his first effort was to gain the hearts
and the confidence of the people, though he saw the nobles and
the higher orders of the inferior classes (with the exception of
the merchants) intriguing all around him for the re-establishment
of the Austrian power. Petitions on this subject were printed and
distributed; and the models of those anti-national documents may
still be referred to in a work published at the time.[8]

[Footnote 8: History of the Low Countries, by St. Genoist.]

As soon as the moment came for promulgating the decision of the
sovereign powers as to the actual extent of the new kingdom--that
is to say, in the month of February, 1815--the whole plan was made
public; and a commission, consisting of twenty-seven members,
Dutch and Belgian, was formed, to consider the modifications
necessary in the fundamental law of Holland, in pursuance of
the stipulation of the treaty of London. After due deliberation
these modifications were formed, and the great political pact
was completed for the final acceptance of the king and people.

As a document so important merits particular consideration, in
reference to the formation of the new monarchy, we shall briefly
condense the reasonings of the most impartial and well-informed
classes in the country on the constitution now about to be framed.
Every one agreed that some radical change in the whole form of
government was necessary, and that its main improvement should
be the strengthening of the executive power. That possessed by
the former stadtholders of Holland was often found to be too much
for the chief of a republic, too little for the head of a monarchy.
The assembly of the states-general, as of old constructed, was
defective in many points; in none so glaringly as in that condition
which required unanimity in questions of peace or war, and in the
provision, from which they had no power to swerve, that all the
taxes should be uniform. Both these stipulations were, of sheer
necessity, continually disregarded; so that the government could be
carried on at all only by repeated violations of the constitution.
In order to excuse measures dictated by this necessity, each
stadtholder was perpetually obliged to form partisans, and he
thus became the hereditary head of a faction. His legitimate
power was trifling: but his influence was capable of fearful
increase; for the principle which allowed him to infringe the
constitution, even on occasions of public good, might be easily
warped into a pretext for encroachments that had no bounds but
his own will.

Besides, the preponderance of the deputies from the commercial
towns in the states-general caused the others to become mere
ciphers in times of peace; only capable of clogging the march
of affairs, and of being, on occasions of civil dissensions,
the mere tools of whatever party possessed the greatest tact
in turning them to their purpose. Hence a wide field was open
to corruption. Uncertainty embarrassed every operation of the
government. The Hague became an arena for the conflicting intrigues
of every court in Europe. Holland was dragged into almost every
war; and thus, gradually weakened from its rank among independent
nations, it at length fell an easy prey to the French invaders.

To prevent the recurrence of such evils as those, and to establish
a kingdom on the solid basis of a monarchy, unequivocal in its
essence yet restrained in its prerogative, the constitution we
are now examining was established. According to the report of
the commissioners who framed it, "It is founded on the manners
and habits of the nation, on its public economy and its old
institutions, with a disregard for the ephemeral constitutions
of the age. It is not a mere abstraction, more or less ingenious,
but a law adapted to the state of the country in the nineteenth
century. It did not reconstruct what was worn out by time; but
it revived all that was worth preserving. In such a system of
laws and institutions well adapted to each other, the members
of the commission belonging to the Belgian provinces recognized
the basis of their ancient charters, and the principles of their
former liberty. They found no difficulty in adapting this law,
so as to make it common to the two nations, united by ties which
had been broken only for their own misfortune and that of Europe,
and which it was once more the interest of Europe to render

The news of the elevation of William I. to the throne was received
in the Dutch provinces with great joy, in as far as it concerned
him personally; but a joy considerably tempered by doubt and
jealousy, as regarded their junction with a country sufficiently
large to counterbalance Holland, oppose interests to interests,
and people to people. National pride and oversanguine expectations
prevented a calm judgment on the existing state of Europe, and on
the impossibility of Holland, in its ancient limits, maintaining
the influence which it was hoped it would acquire.

In Belgium the formation of the new monarchy excited the most
lively sensation. The clergy and the nobility were considerably
agitated and not slightly alarmed; the latter fearing the resentment
of the king for their avowed predilection in favor of Austria,
and perceiving the destruction of every hope of aristocratical
domination. The more elevated of the middle clases also saw an
end to their exclusive occupation of magisterial and municipal
employments. The manufacturers, great and small, saw the ruin of
monopoly staring them in the face. The whole people took fright
at the weight of the Dutch debt, which was considerably greater
than that of Belgium. No one seemed to look beyond the present
moment. The advantage of colonial possessions seemed remote and
questionable to those who possessed no maritime commerce; and
the pride of national independence was foreign to the feelings
of those who had never yet tasted its blessings.

It was in this state of public feeling that intelligence was
received in March, 1815, of the reappearance in France of the
emperor Napoleon. At the head of three hundred men he had taken
the resolution, without parallel even among the grandest of his
own powerful conceptions, of invading a country containing thirty
millions of people, girded by the protecting armies of coalesced
Europe, and imbued, beyond all doubt, with an almost general
objection to the former despot who now put his foot on its shores,
with imperial pretensions only founded on the memory of his bygone
glory. His march to Paris was a miracle; and the vigor of his
subsequent measures redeems the ambitious imbecility with which
he had hurried on the catastrophe of his previous fall.

The flight of Louis XVIII. from Paris was the sure signal to
the kingdom of the Netherlands, in which he took refuge, that it
was about to become the scene of another contest for the life or
death of despotism. Had the invasion of Belgium, which now took
place, been led on by one of the Bourbon family, it is probable
that the priesthood, the people, and even the nobility, would
have given it not merely a negative support. But the name of
Napoleon was a bugbear for every class; and the efforts of the
King and government, which met with most enthusiastic support
in the northern provinces, were seconded with zeal and courage
by the rest of the kingdom.

The national force was soon in the field, under the command of
the Prince of Orange, the king's eldest son, and heir-apparent
to the throne for which he now prepared to fight. His brother,
Prince Frederick, commanded a division under him. The English army,
under the duke of Wellington, occupied Brussels and the various
cantonments in its neighborhood; and the Prussians, commanded by
Prince Blucher, were in readiness to co-operate with their allies
on the first movement of the invaders.

Napoleon, hurrying from Paris to strike some rapid and decisive
blow, passed the Sambre on the 15th of June, at the head of the
French army, one hundred and fifty thousand strong, driving the
Prussians before him beyond Charleroi and back on the plain of
Fleurus with some loss. On the 16th was fought the bloody battle
of Ligny, in which the Prussians sustained a decided defeat; but
they retreated in good order on the little river Lys, followed
by Marshal Grouchy with thirty thousand men detached by Napoleon
in their pursuit. On the same day the British advanced position
at Quatre Bras, and the _corps_d'armée_ commanded by the Prince
of Orange, were fiercely attacked by Marshal Ney; a battalion of
Belgian infantry and a brigade of horse artillery having been
engaged in a skirmish the preceding evening at Frasnes with the
French advanced troops.

The affair of Quatre Bras was sustained with admirable firmness
by the allied English and Netherland forces, against an enemy
infinitely superior in number, and commanded by one of the best
generals in France. The Prince of Orange, with only nine thousand
men, maintained his position till three o'clock in the afternoon,
despite the continual attacks of Marshal Ney, who commanded the
left of the French army, consisting of forty-three thousand men.
But the interest of this combat, and the details of the loss
in killed and wounded, are so merged in the succeeding battle,
which took place on the 18th, that they form in most minds a
combination of exploits which the interval of a day can scarcely
be considered to have separated.

The 17th was occupied by a retrograde movement of the allied
army, directed by the duke of Wellington, for the purpose of
taking its stand on the position he had previously fixed on for
the pitched battle, the decisive nature of which his determined
foresight had anticipated. Several affairs between the French
and English cavalry took place during this movement; and it is
pretty well established that the enemy, flushed with the victory
over Blucher of the preceding day, were deceived by this short
retreat of Wellington, and formed a very mistaken notion of its
real object, or of the desperate reception destined for the morrow's

The battle of Waterloo has been over and over described and
profoundly felt, until its records may be said to exist in the
very hearts and memories of the nations. The fiery valor of the
assault, and the unshakable firmness of the resistance, are perhaps
without parallel in the annals of war. The immense stake depending
on the result, the grandeur of Napoleon's isolated efforts against
the flower of the European forces, and the awful responsibility
resting on the head of their great leader, give to this conflict
a romantic sublimity, unshared by all the manoeuvring of science
in a hundred commonplace combats of other wars. It forms an epoch
in the history of battles. It is to the full as memorable, as an
individual event, as it is for the consequences which followed
it. It was fought by no rules, and gained by no tactics. It was a
fair stand-up fight on level ground, where downright manly courage
was alone to decide the issue. This derogates in nothing from the
splendid talents and deep knowledge of the rival commanders.
Their reputation for all the intricate qualities of generalship
rests on the broad base of previous victories. This day was to
be won by strength of nerve and steadiness of heart; and a moral
grandeur is thrown over its result by the reflection that human
skill had little to do where so much was left to Providence.

We abstain from entering on details of the battle. It is enough
to state that throughout the day the troops of the Netherlands
sustained the character for courage which so many centuries had
established. Various opinions have gone forth as to the conduct of
the Belgian troops on this memorable occasion. Isolated instances
were possibly found, among a mass of several thousands, of that
nervous weakness which neither the noblest incitements nor the
finest examples can conquer. Old associations and feelings not
effaced might have slackened the efforts of a few, directed against
former comrades or personal friends whom the stern necessity of
politics had placed in opposing ranks. Raw troops might here
and there have shrunk from attacks the most desperate on record;
but that the great principle of public duty, on grounds purely
national, pervaded the army, is to be found in the official reports
of its loss; two thousand and fifty-eight men killed and one
thousand nine hundred and thirty-six wounded prove indelibly
that the troops of the Netherlands had their full share in the
honor of the day. The victory was cemented by the blood of the
Prince of Orange, who stood the brunt of the fight with his gallant
soldiers. His conduct was conformable to the character of his
whole race, and to his own reputation during a long series of
service with the British army in the Spanish peninsula. He stood
bravely at the head of his troops during the murderous conflict;
or, like Wellington, in whose school he was formed and whose
example was beside him, rode from rank to rank and column to
column, inspiring his men by the proofs of his untiring courage.

Several anecdotes are related of the prince's conduct throughout
the day. One is remarkable as affording an example of those pithy
epigrams of the battlefield with which history abounds, accompanied
by an act that speaks a fine knowledge of the soldier's heart. On
occasion of one peculiarly desperate charge, the prince, hurried
on by his ardor, was actually in the midst of the French, and was
in the greatest danger; when a Belgian battalion rushed forward,
and, after a fierce struggle, repulsed the enemy and disengaged the
prince. In the impulse of his admiration and gratitude, he tore
from his breast one of those decorations gained by his own conduct
on some preceding occasion, and flung it among the battalion,
calling out, "Take it, take it, my lads! you have all earned it!"
This decoration was immediately grappled for, and tied to the
regimental standard, amid loud shouts of "Long live the prince!"
and vows to defend the trophy, in the very utterance of which
many a brave fellow received the stroke of death.

A short time afterward, and just half an hour before that terrible
charge of the whole line, which decided the victory, the prince
was struck by a musket-ball in the left shoulder. He was carried
from the field, and conveyed that evening to Brussels, in the
same cart with one of his wounded aides-de-camp, supported by
another, and displaying throughout as much indifference to pain
as he had previously shown contempt of danger.

The battle of Waterloo consolidated the kingdom of the Netherlands.
The wound of the Prince of Orange was perhaps one of the most
fortunate that was ever received by an individual, or sympathized
in by a nation. To a warlike people, wavering in their allegiance,
this evidence of the prince's valor acted like a talisman against
disaffection. The organization of the kingdom was immediately
proceeded on. The commission, charged with the revision of the
fundamental law, and the modification required by the increase
of territory, presented its report on the 31st of July. The
inauguration of the king took place at Brussels on the 21st of
September, in presence of the states-general: and the ceremony
received additional interest from the appearance of the sovereign
supported by his two sons who had so valiantly fought for the
rights he now swore to maintain; the heir to the crown yet bearing
his wounded arm in a scarf, and showing in his countenance the
marks of recent suffering.

The constitution was finally accepted by the nation, and the
principles of the government were stipulated and fixed in one
grand view--that of the union, and, consequently, the force of
the new state.

It has been asked by a profound and sagacious inquirer, or at
least the question is put forth on undoubted authority in his
name, "Why did England create for herself a difficulty, and what
will be by and by a natural enemy, in uniting Holland and Belgium,
in place of managing those two immense resources to her commerce
by keeping them separate? For Holland, without manufactures,
was the natural mart for those of England, while Belgium under
an English prince had been the route for constantly inundating
France and Germany."

So asked Napoleon, and England may answer and justify her conduct
so impugned, on principles consistent with the general wishes
and the common good of Europe. The discussion of the question
is foreign to our purpose, which is to trace the circumstances,
not to argue on the policy, that led to the formation of the
Netherlands as they now exist. But it appears that the different
integral parts of the nation were amalgamated from deep-formed
designs for their mutual benefit. Belgium was not given to Holland,
as the already-cited article of the treaty of Paris might at
first sight seem to imply; nor was Holland allotted to Belgium.
But they were grafted together, with all the force of legislative
wisdom; not that one might be dominant and the other oppressed,
but that both should bend to form an arch of common strength,
able to resist the weight of such invasions as had perpetually
periled, and often crushed, their separate independence.


A.D. 1815--1899

In the preceding chapters we have seen the history of Holland
carried down to the treaty which joined together what are now
known as the separate countries of Holland and Belgium. And it is
at this point that the interest of the subject for the historian
practically ceases. The historian differs from the annalist in
this--that he selects for treatment those passages in the career
of nations which possess a dramatic form and unity, and therefore
convey lessons for moral guidance, or for constituting a basis
for reasonable prognostications of the future. But there are in
the events of the world many tracts of country (as we might term
them) which have no special character or apparent significance, and
which therefore, though they may extend over many years in time,
are dismissed with bare mention in the pages of the historian;
just as, in travelling by rail, the tourist will keep his face
at the window only when the scenery warrants it; at other times
composing himself to other occupations.

The scenery of Dutch history has episodes as stirring and instructive
as those of any civilized people since history began; but it
reached its dramatic and moral apogee when the independence of
the United Netherlands was acknowledged by Spain. The Netherlands
then reached their loftiest pinnacle of power and prosperity;
their colonial possessions were vast and rich; their reputation
as guardians of liberty and the rights of man was foremost in the
world. But further than this they could not go; and the moment
when a people ceases to advance may generally be regarded as
the moment when, relatively speaking at least, it begins to go
backward. The Dutch could in no sense become the masters of Europe;
not only was their domain too small, but it was geographically at
a disadvantage with the powerful and populous nations neighboring
it, and it was compelled ever to fight for its existence against
the attacks of nature itself. The stormy waves of the North Sea
were ever moaning and threatening at the gates, and ever and anon
a breach would be made, and the labor of generations annulled.
Holland could never enter upon a career of conquest, like France
or Russia; neither could she assume the great part which Britain
has played; for although the character of the Dutchmen is in
many respects as strong and sound as that of the English, and
in some ways its superior, yet the Dutch had not been dowered
with a sea-defended isle for their habitation, which might enable
them to carry out enterprises abroad without the distraction and
weakness involved in maintaining adequate guards at home. They
were mighty in self-defence and in resistance against tyranny;
and they were unsurpassed in those virtues and qualities which go
to make a nation rich and orderly; but aggression could not be
for them. They took advantage of their season of power to confirm
themselves in the ownership of lands in the extreme East and in
the West, which should be a continual source of revenue; but
they could do no more; and they wasted not a little treasure and
strength in preserving what they had gained, or a part of it, from
the grasp of others. But this was the sum of their possibility;
they could not presume to dictate terms to the world; and the
consequence was that they gradually ceased to be a considered
factor in the European problem. In some respects, their territorial
insignificance, while it prevented them from aggressive action,
preserved them from aggression; their domain was not worth
conquering, and again its conquest could not be accomplished
by any nation without making others uneasy and jealous. They
became, like Switzerland, and unlike Poland and Hungary, a neutral
region, which it was for the interest of Europe at large to let
alone. None cared to meddle with them; and, on the other hand,
they had native virtue and force enough to resist being absorbed
into other peoples; the character of the Dutch is as distinct
to-day as ever it had been. Their language, their literature,
their art, and their personal traits, are unimpaired. They are,
in their own degree, remarkably prosperous and comfortable; and
they have the good sense to be content with their condition.
They are liberal and progressive, and yet conservative; they are
even with modern ideas as regards education and civilization,
and yet the tourist within their boundaries continually finds
himself reminded of their past. The costumes and the customs of
the mass of the people have undergone singularly little change;
they mind their own affairs, and are wisely indifferent to the
affairs of others. Both as importers and as exporters they are
useful to the world, and if the prophecies of those who foretell
a general clash of the European powers should be fulfilled, it
is likely that the Dutch will be onlookers merely, or perhaps
profit by the misfortunes of their neighbors to increase their
own well-being.

As we have seen in the foregoing pages, Belgium did not unite
with the Hollanders in their revolt of the sixteenth century;
but appertained to Burgundy, and was afterward made a domain
of France. But after Napoleon had been overthrown at Waterloo,
the nations who had been so long harried and terrorized by him
were not satisfied with banishing the ex-conqueror to his island
exile, but wished to present any possibility of another Napoleon
arising to renew the wars which had devastated and impoverished
them. Consequently they agreed to make a kingdom which might act
as a buffer between France and the rest of Europe; and to this
end they decreed that Belgium and Holland should be one. But in
doing this, the statesmen or politicians concerned failed to take
into account certain factors and facts which must inevitably, in
the course of time, undermine their arrangements. Nations cannot
be arbitrarily manufactured to suit the convenience of others.
There is a chemistry in nationalities which has laws of its own,
and will not be ignored. Between the Hollanders and the Belgians
there existed not merely a negative lack of homogeneity, but a
positive incompatibility. The Hollanders had for generations been
fighters and men of enterprise; the Belgians had been the appanage
of more powerful neighbors. The Hollanders were Protestants; the
Belgians were adherents of the Papacy. The former were seafarers;
the latter, farmers. The sympathies or affiliations of the Dutch
were with the English and the Germans; those of the Belgians
were with the French. Moreover, the Dutch were inclined to act
oppressively toward the Belgians, and this disposition was made
the more irksome by the fact that King William was a dull, stupid,
narrow and very obstinate sovereign, who thought that to have a
request made of him was reason sufficient for resisting it.

But over and above all these causes for disintegration of the new
kingdom lay facts of the broadest significance and application.
The arbiters of 1815 did not sufficiently apprehend the meaning of
the French Revolution. The wars of Napoleon had made them forget
it; his power had seemed so much more formidable and positive
that the deeper forces which had brought about the events of the
last decade of the eighteenth century were ignored. But they
still continued profoundly active, and were destined ere long
to announce themselves anew. They were in truth the generative
forces of the nineteenth century.

They have not yet spent themselves; but as we look back upon
the events of the past eighty or ninety years, we perceive what
vast differences there are between what we were in Napoleon's day
and what we are now. A long period of intrigue and misrule, of
wars and revolutions, has been followed by material, mental and
social changes affecting every class of the people, and especially
that class which had hitherto been almost entirely unconsidered.
The wars of this century have been of another character than
those of the past; they have not involved basic principles of
human association, but have been the result of attempts to gain
comparatively trifling political advantages, or else were the
almost inevitable consequence of adjustments of national relations.
Several small new kingdoms have appeared; but their presence
has not essentially altered the political aspect of Europe. It
is the conquests of mind that have been, in this century, far
more important than the struggles of arms. Steam, as applied
to locomotion on sea and land, and to manufactures, has brought
about modifications in social and industrial conditions that
cannot be exaggerated. Steamboats and railroads have not only
given a different face to commerce and industry, but they have
united the world in bonds of mutual knowledge and sympathy, which
cannot fail to profoundly affect the political relations of mankind.
Isolation is ignorance; as soon as men begin to discover, by actual
intercourse, the similarities and dissimilarities of their several
conditions, these will begin to show improvements. To be assured
that people in one part of the world are better off than those in
another, will tend inevitably to bring about ameliorations for
the latter. The domain of evil will be continually restricted,
and that of good enlarged. In the dissemination of intelligence
and the spread of sympathy, the telegraph, and other applications
of electricity, have enormously aided the work of steam. Every
individual of civilized mankind may now be cognizant, at any
moment, of what is taking place at any point of the earth's surface
to which the appliances of civilization have penetrated. This
unprecedented spread of common acquaintanceship of the world
has been supplemented by discoveries of science in many other
directions. We know more of the moon to-day than Europe did of
this planet a few centuries ago. The industrial arts are now
prosecuted by machinery with a productiveness which enables one
man to do the work formerly performed by hundreds, and which more
than keeps up the supply with the demand. Conquests of natural
forces are constantly making, and each one of them adds to the
comfort and enlightenment of man. Men, practically, live a dozen
lives such as those of the past in their single span of seventy
years; and we are even finding means of prolonging the Scriptural
limit of mortal existence physically as well as mentally.

But is all this due to that great moral and social earthquake
to which we give the name of the French Revolution? Yes; for
that upheaval, like the plow of some titanic husbandman, brought
to the surface elements of good and use which had been lying
fallow for unnumbered ages. It brought into view the People,
as against mere rulers and aristocrats, who had hitherto lived
upon what the People produced, without working themselves, and
without caring for anything except to conserve things as they
were. Human progress will never be advanced by oligarchies, no
matter how gentle and well-disposed. We see their results to-day
in Spain and in Turkey, which are still mediæval, or worse, in
their condition and methods. It is the brains of the common people
that have wrought the mighty change; their personal interests
demand that they go forward, and their fresh and unencumbered
minds show them the way. The great scientists, the inventors,
the philanthropists, the reformers, are all of the common people;
the statesmen who have really governed the world in this century
have sprung from the common stock. The French Revolution destroyed
the dominance of old ideas, and with them the forms in which
they were embodied. Political, personal and religious freedom
are now matters of course; but a hundred years ago they were
almost unheard of, save in the dreams of optimists and fanatics.
The rights of labor have been vindicated; and the right of every
human being to the benefit of what he produces has been claimed
and established. Along with this improvement has come, of course,
a train of evils and abuses, due to our ignorance of how best
to manage and apply our new privileges and advantages; but such
evils are transient, and the conditions which created them will
suffice, ere long, to remove them. The conflict between labor
and capital is not permanent; it will yield to better knowledge
of the true demands of political economy. The indifference or
corruption of law makers and dispensers will disappear when men
realize that personal selfishness is self-destructive, and that
only care for the commonweal can bring about prosperity for the
individual. The democracy is still in its swaddling clothes,
and its outward aspect is in many ways ugly and unwelcome, and
we sigh for the elegance and composure of old days; but these
discomforts are a necessary accompaniment of growth, and will
vanish when the growing pains are past. The Press is the mirror of
the aspirations, the virtues and the faults of the new mankind; its
power is stupendous and constantly increasing; many are beginning
to dread it as a possible agent of ill; but in truth its real
power can only be for good, since the mass of mankind, however
wedded to selfishness as individuals, are united in desiring
honesty and good in the general trend of things; and it is to
the generality, and not to the particular, that the Press, to
be successful, must appeal. It is the great critic and the great
recorder; and in the face of such criticism and record abuses
cannot long maintain themselves. Men will be free, first of external
tyrannies, and then of that more subtle but not less dangerous
tyranny which they impose upon themselves. As might have been
expected, extremists have arisen who sought to find a short road
to perfection, and they have met with disappointment. The dreams
of the socialists have not been realized; men will not work for one
another unless they are at the same time working for themselves.
The communist and the nihilist are yet further from the true
ideal; there will always remain in human society certain persons
who rule, and others who obey. There must always, in all affairs,
be a head to direct as well as hands to execute. Men are born
unequal in intelligence and ability; and it will never be possible
to reduce leaders to the level of followers. The form of society
must take its model from the human form, in which one part is
subordinate to another, yet all work together in harmony. Only
time--and probably no very long time--is required to bring a
recognition of these facts. Meanwhile, the very violence of the
revolts against even the suspicion of oppression are but symptoms
of the vigorous vitality which, in former centuries, seemed to have
no existence at all. On the other hand, industrial co-operation
seems to promise successful development; it involves immense
economies, and consequent profit to producers. The middleman has
his uses, and especially is he a convenience; but it is easy to
pay too dear for conveniences; and there seems no reason why the
producer should not, as time goes on, become constantly better
equipped for dealing direct with the consumer, to the manifest
advantage of both.

All these and many other triumphs of civilization, which we see
now in objective form, were present in potency at the beginning
of this century, though, as we have said, they were not duly
taken into account by the framers of the agreement which sought
to make Holland and Belgium one flesh. Had the sun not yet risen
upon the human horizon, the attempt might have had a quasi success;
but the light was penetrating the darkened places, and men were
no longer willing to accept subjection as their inevitable doom.
It might be conducive to the comfort of the rest of Europe that
Batavian and Belgian should dwell together under one political
roof; but it did not suit the parties themselves; and therefore
they soon began to make their incompatibility known. But nothing
was heard beyond the grumblings of half-awakened discontent until,
in 1830, the new revolution in Paris sent a sympathetic thrill
through all the dissatisfied of Europe. A generation had now
passed since the first great upheaval, and men had had time to
digest the lesson which it conveyed, and to draw various more or
less reasonable inferences as to future possibilities. It had been
determined that, broadly speaking, what the people heartily wanted,
the people might have; and the disturbances in Paris indicated
that the people were prepared to resent any attempt on the part
of their rulers to bring back the old abuses. When the Pentarchy,
in 1815, had made its division of the spoils of Napoleon, the
Bourbons were reseated on the throne which Louis XIV. had made
famous; but Louis XVIII. was but a degenerate representative
of the glories that had been. He adopted a reactionary policy
against the Napoleonic (or imperialist), the republican and the
Protestant elements in France; and outrages and oppressions occurred.
As a consequence, secret societies were formed to counteract
the ultra-royalist policy. When Louis died, it was hoped that
his successor, Charles X., might introduce improvements; but
on the contrary he only made matters worse. The consequence was
the gradual growth of a liberal party, seeking a monarchy based
on the support of the great middle class of the population. In
1827 Charles disbanded the National Guard; and in the following
year the liberals elected a majority in the Chamber. Charles
foolishly attempted to meet this step by making the prince de
Polignac his minister, who stood for all that the people had
in abhorrence. The prince issued ordinances declaring the late
elections illegal, narrowing down the rights of suffrage to the
large landowners, and forbidding all liberty to the press. Hereupon
the populace of Paris erected barricades and took up arms; and
in the "Three Days" from the 27th to the 29th of July, 1830,
they defeated the forces of the king, and after capturing the
Hotel de Ville and the Louvre, sent him into exile, and made
the venerable and faithful Lafayette commander of the National
Guard. But the revolutionists showed forbearance; and instead of
beheading Charles, as they might have done, they let him go, and
punished the ministers by imprisonment only. This put an end to
the older line of the Bourbons in France, and the representative
of the younger branch, Louis Philippe ("Philippe Egalite"), was
set on the throne, in the hope that he would be willing to carry
out the people's will.

All this was interesting to the Belgians, and they profited by
the example. They regarded William as another Charles, and deemed
themselves justified in revolting against his rule. They declared
that they were no longer subject to his control, and issue was
joined on that point. But the Powers were not ready to permit the
dissolution of their anxiously constructed edifice; and they met
together with a view to arranging some secure modus vivendi. The
issue of their deliberations took the form of proposing that the
duchy of Luxemburg, at the southeast corner of Belgium, should be
ceded to Holland on the north. This suggestion was favorably received
by the Hollanders, but was not so agreeable to the Belgians; and an
assembly at Brussels devised and adopted a liberal constitution,
and invited Leopold of Saxe-Coburg to occupy their throne. Leopold
was at this time about forty years of age; he was the youngest
son of Francis, duke of Saxe-Coburg; he had married, in 1816,
the daughter of George IV. of England, the princess Charlotte,
and had, a few months before the Belgians' proposal, been offered
and had refused the crown of Greece. But the Belgian throne was
more to his liking; and after taking measures to sound the Powers
on the subject, and to assure himself of their good will, he
accepted the proffer, and was crowned under the title of Leopold
I. His reign lasted thirty-four years, and was comparatively
uneventful and prosperous.

But the Dutch refused to tolerate this change of sovereignty
without a struggle; William raised an army and suddenly threw
it into Belgium; and the chanees are that he would have made
short work of Belgian resistance had the two been permitted to
fight out their quarrel undisturbed. This, however, could not
happen; since the independence of Belgium had been recognized by
England, Austria, Russia, and Prussia; and the triumphal march
of the Dutch was arrested by a French army which happened to
be in the place where they could be most effective in the
circumstances. The Dutch had occupied Antwerp, a town on the
borderland of Belgium and Holland. It had been in the possession
of the French in 1794, but had been taken from them at the
Restoration in 1814. The French now laid siege to it, being under
the command of Gérard, while the Dutch were led by Chassè. The
citadel was taken in 1832, and the resistance of the Dutch to
the decree of Europe was practically at an end, though William
the Obstinate refused for several years to accept the fact. The
duchy of Luxemburg had sided with the Belgians all along, as
might have been anticipated from its position and natural
affiliations; and though no immediate action was taken relative
to its ownership till 1839, it remained during the interval in
Belgian hands. Matters remained in this ambiguous condition for
some time; but though the Dutch might grumble, they could not
fight. At length the treaty of 1839 was signed in London, on
the 19th of April, according to the terms of which part of the
duchy of Luxemburg was retained by the Belgians, and part was
ruled by the king of Holland as grand duke. In other respects,
the status quo ante was preserved, and the partition of Holland
and Belgium was confirmed, as it has ever since remained. The
history of Belgium thenceforward has been almost wholly devoid of
incidents; the little nation may quite too apothegm as applying
to themselves, "Short are the annals of a happy people!" Their
insignificance and their geographical position secure them against
all disturbance. They live in their tiny quarters with economy
and industry; the most densely populous community in Europe, and
one of the most prosperous. Around their borders rises the sullen
murmur of threatening armies and hostile dynasties; but Belgium
is free from menace, and their sunshine of peace is without a
cloud. It is of course conceivable that in the great struggle which
seems impending, the Belgian nation may suddenly vanish from the
map, and become but a memory in the minds of a future generation;
but their end, if it come, is likely to be in the nature of a
euthanasia, and so far as they are physically concerned, they
will survive their political annihilation. The only ripples which
have varied the smooth surface of their career since the treaty,
have been disputes between the liberal and clerical parties on
questions of education, and disturbances and occasional riots
instigated by socialists over industrial questions. Leopold,
dying at the age of seventy-six, was succeeded by his son as
Leopold II., and his reign continued during the remainder of the

The treaty of 1839, in addition to its provisions already mentioned,
gave Limburg, on the Prussian border, to the Dutch, and opened
the Scheldt under heavy tolls. In October of the year following
the treaty, William I. abdicated the throne of Holland in favor
of his son. He had not enjoyed his reign, and he retired in an
ill humor, which was not without some excuse. His career had
been a worthy one; he had been a soldier in the field from his
twenty-first year till the battle of Wagram in 1809, when he was
near forty; after that he dwelt in retirement in Berlin until
he was called to the throne of the Netherlands. At that time
he had exchanged his German possessions for the grand duchy of
Luxemburg; and was therefore naturally reluctant to be deprived
of the latter. The old soldier survived his abdication only a
few years, dying in 1843 at Berlin.

William II. was a soldier like his father. He had gained distinction
under Wellington in the Spanish campaign, and in the struggle
against Napoleon during the Hundred Days he commanded the Dutch
contingent. He married Anne, sister of Alexander I. of Russia,
in 1816, and at the outbreak of the revolution of 1830 he was
sent to Belgium to bring about an arrangement. On the 16th of
October of that year he took the step, which was repudiated by
his rigid old father, of acknowledging Belgian independence; but
he subsequently commanded the Dutch army against the Belgians,
and was forced to yield to the French in August, 1832. After his
accession, he behaved with firmness and liberality, and died
in 1849 leaving a good reputation behind him.

Meanwhile, the new revolution of 1848 was approaching. Insensibly,
the states of Europe had ranged themselves under two principles.
There were on one side the states governed by constitutions,
including Great Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland,
Sweden and, Norway, Denmark, and, for the time being, Spain and
Portugal. On the other side were Russia, Prussia, Austria, the
Italian States, and some of those of Germany, who held that the
right of rule and the making of laws belonged absolutely to certain
dynasties, which were, indeed, morally bound to consult the interests
of their populations, yet were not responsible to their subjects
for the manner in which they might choose to do it. In the last
mentioned states there existed a chronic strife between the people
and their rulers. It was an irrepressible conflict, and its crisis
was reached in 1848.

It was in France that things first came to a head. Louis Philippe
and his minister, Guizot, tried to render the government gradually
independent of the nation, in imitation of the absolutist empires;
and the uneasiness caused by this policy was emphasized by the
scarcity that prevailed during the years 1846 and 1847. The Liberals
began to demand electoral reform; but the king, on opening the
Chambers, intimated that he was convinced that no reform was
needed. Angry debates ensued, and finally the opposition arranged
for a great banquet in the Champs Elysee on February 22, 1848,
in support of the reform movement. This gathering, however, was
forbidden by Guizot. The order was regarded as arbitrary, and
the Republicans seized the opportunity. Barricades appeared in
Paris, the king was forced to abdicate, and took refuge with
his family in England. France was thereupon declared to be a
Republic, and the government was intrusted to Lamartine and others.
There was now great danger of excesses similar to those of the
first great revolution; but the elements of violence were kept
under by the opposition of the middle and higher classes. The
communistic clubs were overawed by the National Guards, and on
April 16th the Communistic party was defeated. General Cavaignac,
who had been made dictator during the struggle, laid down his
office after the battle which began on the 23d of June between
the rabble of idle mechanics, eighty thousand in number, and
the national forces had been decided in favor of the latter,
who slew no less than sixteen thousand of the enemy. Cavaignac
was now appointed chief of the Executive Commission with the
title of President of the Council. A reaction favoring a monarchy
was indicated; but meanwhile a new constitution provided for
a quadriennial presidency, with a single legislature of seven
hundred and fifty members. Louis Napoleon, the nephew of the
great emperor, was chosen by a majority vote for the office in
December of 1848. Four years later he was declared emperor under
the title of Napoleon III.

The revolutionary movement spread to other countries of Europe,
with varying results. In Hungary, Kossuth in the Diet demanded
of the emperor-king a national government. Prince Metternich,
prime minister, attempted to resist the demand with military
force, but an insurrection in Vienna drove him into exile, and
the Hungarians gained a temporary advantage, and were granted
a constitution. The Slavs met at Prague, at the instigation of
Polocky, and held a congress; but it was broken up by the impatience
of the inhabitants, and a success of the imperialists was followed
by the rising of the southern Slavs in favor of the emperor.
A battle took place in Hungary on September 11, 1848, but the
imperialists under Jellachich were routed and driven toward the
Austrian frontier. The war became wider in its scope; the
insurrectionists at first met with success; but in spite of their
desperate valor the Hungarian forces were finally overthrown by the
aid of a Russian army; and their leader, Goergy, was compelled to
surrender to the Russians on August 13, 1849. It was thought that
the Czar might annex Hungary; but he handed it back to Francis
Joseph, who, by way of vengeance, permitted the most hideous

In Germany, the issue had no definite feature. The people demanded
freedom of the Press and a German parliament, and the various
princes seemed acquiescent; but when it was proposed that Prussia
should become Germany, there was opposition on all sides; a Diet
of the Confederation was held, but Frederick William IV., king
of Prussia, refused to accept the title of hereditary emperor
which was offered him. Austria and Prussia came into opposition;
two rival congresses were sitting at the same time in 1850; and
war between the two states was only averted by the interference
of Russia. Czar Nicholas, then virtually dictator of Europe,
ordered Prussia's troops back, and the Convention of Olmutz, in
November, seemed to put a final end to Prussia's hopes of German

All the local despotisms of Italy collapsed before the breath
of revolution; but the country then found itself face to face
with Austria. Charles Albert of Sardinia had the courage to head
the revolt; but was defeated, and abdicated in favor of his son
Victor Emmanuel. Venice was taken after a severe siege by the
Austrians; and King Bomba managed to repossess himself of Naples,
after a terrible massacre. Sicily was subdued. In the Papal States,
Pio Nono was deposed; but after a time a reaction set in, the
provisional government under Mazzini was overthrown, and the
French occupied Rome and recalled the Pope.

The question as to the Danish or German ownership of the duchies
of Schleswig-Holstein had already been agitated, and they became
acute at this time; but the spirit of the new revolution had no
direct bearing upon the matter. By the end of the first half
of the nineteenth century, Europe was outwardly quiet once more.

And what part had Holland taken in these proceedings? A very
small one. The phlegmatic Dutchmen found themselves fairly well
off, and were nowise tempted to embark in troubles for sentiment's
sake. The constitution given them in 1814 was revised, with the
consent of the king, and the changes, which involved various
political reforms, went into effect on April 17, 1848. William
II. died just eleven months afterward, and was succeeded by his
son William III., at that time a man of two-and-thirty. He favored
the reforms granted by his father, and showed himself to be in
harmony with such sober ideas of progress as belonged to the
nation over which he ruled. His aim in all things was peace, and
the development of the resources of the country; he understood his
people, and they placed confidence in him, and Holland steadily
grew in wealth and comfort. In 1853, after the establishment by
the papacy of Catholic bishoprics had been allowed, there was
a period of some excitement; for Roman Catholicism had found a
stern and unconquerable foe in the Dutch; when it had come with
the bloody tyranny of Spain. But those evil days were past, and
the Dutch, who had pledged themselves to welcome religious freedom
in their dominions, were disposed to let bygones be bygones, and
to permit such of their countrymen as preferred the Catholic
ceremonial to have their way. It was evident that no danger existed
of Holland's becoming subject to the papacy; and, indeed, the
immediate political sequel of the establishment of the bishoprics
was the election of a moderate, liberal, Protestant cabinet,
which thoroughly represented the country, and which represented
its tone thereafter, with such modifications as new circumstances
might suggest. The Dutch were philosophic, and were victims to
no vague and costly ambitions. They felt that they had given
sufficient proofs of their quality in the past; the glory which
they had won as champions of liberty could never fade; and now
they merited the repose which we have learned to associate with
our conception of the Dutch character. Their nature seems to
partake of the scenic traits of their country; its picturesque,
solid serenity, its unemotional levels, its flavor of the antique:
and yet beneath that composure we feel the strength and steadfastness
which can say to the ocean, Thus far and no further, and can build
their immaculate towns, and erect their peaceful windmills, and
navigate their placid canals, and smoke their fragrant pipes on
land which, by natural right, should be the bottom of the sea.
Holland is a perennial type of human courage and industry, common
sense and moderation. As we contemplate them to-day, it requires
an effort of the imagination to picture them as the descendants
of a race of heroes who defied and overcame the strongest and
most cruel Power on earth in their day, and then taught the rest
of Europe how to unite success in commerce with justice and honor.
But the heroism is still there, and, should need arise, we need
not doubt that it would once more be manifested.

Because Holland is so quiet, some rash critics fancy that she
may be termed effete. But this is far from the truth. The absence
of military burdens, rendered needless by the intelligent
selfishness, if not the conscience, of the rest of Europe, implies
no decadence of masculine spirit in the Dutch. In no department
of enterprise, commercial ability, or intellectual energy are
they inferior to any of their contemporaries, or to their own
great progenitors. "Holland," says Professor Thorold Rogers, "is
the origin of scientific medicine and rational therapeutics. From
Holland came the first optical instruments, the best mathematicians,
the most intelligent philosophers, as well as the boldest and most
original thinkers. Amsterdam and Rotterdam held the printing
presses of Europe in the early days of the republic; the Elzevirs
were the first publishers of cheap editions, and thereby aided
in disseminating the new learning. From Holland came the new
agriculture, which has done so much for social life, horticulture
and floriculture. The Dutch taught modern Europe navigation. They
were the first to explore the unknown seas, and many an island
and cape which their captains discovered has been renamed after
some one who got his knowledge by their research, and appropriated
the fruit of his predecessor's labors. They have been as much
plundered in the world of letters as they have been in commerce
and politics. Holland taught the Western nations finance--perhaps
no great boon. But they also taught commercial honor, the last
and hardest lesson which nations learn. They inculcated free
trade, a lesson nearly as hard to learn, if not harder, since
the conspiracy against private right is watchful, incessant,
and, as some would make us believe, respectable. They raised
a constant and for a long time ineffectual protest against the
barbarous custom of privateering, and the dangerous doctrine of
contraband of war, a doctrine which, if carried out logically,
would allow belligerents to interdict the trade of the world. The
Dutch are the real founders of what people call international law,
or the rights of nations. They made mistakes, but they made fewer
than their neighbors made. The benefits which they conferred were
incomparably greater than the errors they committed. There is nothing
more striking than the fact that, after a brief and discreditable
episode, the states were an asylum for the persecuted. The Jews,
who were condemned because they were thrifty, plundered because
they were rich, and harassed because they clung tenaciously to
their ancient faith and customs, found an asylum in Holland;
and some of them perhaps, after they originated and adopted,
with the pliability of their race, a Teutonic alias, have not
been sufficiently grateful to the country which sheltered them.
The Jansenists, expelled from France, found a refuge in Utrecht,
and more than a refuge, a recognition, when recognition was a
dangerous offence.

"There is no nation in Europe," continues the professor, "which
owes more to Holland than Great Britain does. The English were
for a long time, in the industrial history of modern civilization,
the stupidest and most backward nation in Europe. There was, to
be sure, a great age in England during the reign of Elizabeth
and that of the first Stuart king. But it was brief indeed. In
every other department of art, of agriculture, of trade, we learned
our lesson from the Hollanders. I doubt whether any other small
European race, after passing through the trials which it endured
after the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle to the conclusion of the
continental war, ever had so entire a recovery. The chain of its
history, to be sure, was broken, and can never, in the nature
of things, be welded together. But there is still left to Holland
the boast and the reality of her motto, 'Luctor et emergo.'"

The events of Holland's history since the Catholic concessions
can be briefly told. In 1863 slavery was abolished in the Dutch
West Indies, the owners being compensated; and forty-two thousand
slaves were set free, chiefly in Dutch Guiana. In the same year
the navigation of the Scheldt was freed, by purchase from Holland
by the European powers, of the right to levy tolls. In 1867, Louis
Napoleon raised the question of Luxemburg by negotiating to buy
the grand duchy from Holland; but Prussia objected to the scheme,
and the matter was finally settled by a Conference in London; the
Prussian garrison evacuating the fortifications, which were then
dismantled, and Luxemburg was declared neutral territory. Capital
punishment was abolished in 1869; and on the 15th of July of the
same year the Amsterdam National Exposition was opened by Prince
Henry. In 1870, at the outbreak of war between Germany and France,
the neutrality of Holland as to both belligerents was secured by
the other Powers. In 1871 the Hollanders ceded Dutch Guinea to
England, and in 1876 the canal between Amsterdam and the North
Sea, which had been begun in 1865, was completed, and the passage
through it was accomplished by a monitor. Another Exposition was
opened in 1883, and in the same year the constitution underwent
a further revision. On the 24th of June, 1884, the Prince of
Orange, heir-apparent to the throne, died, and the succession
thus devolved upon the princess Wilhelmina, then a child of four
years. William III. himself died in 1890, and Queen Emma thereupon
assumed the regency, which she was to hold until Wilhelmina came
of age in 1898; an agreeable consummation which we have just

A word may here be said concerning the physical and political
constitution of the present kingdom of Holland. The country is
divided into eleven provinces--North and South Holland, Zealand,
North Brabant, Utrecht, Limburg, Gelderland, Overyssel, Drenthe,
Groningen, and Friesland. There are three large rivers--the Rhine,
the Meuse, and the Scheldt. The inhabitants are Low Germans (Dutch),
Frankish, Saxon, Frisian, and Jews, the latter numbering some
sixty thousand, though their influence is, owing to their wealth
and activity, larger than these figures would normally represent.
The leading religion of the country is Lutheran; but there are
also many Catholics and persons of other faiths, all of whom
are permitted the enjoyment of their creeds. Holland was at one
time second to no country in the extent of its colonies; and
it still owns Java, the Moluccas, part of Borneo, New Guinea,
Sumatra and Celebes, in the East; and in the West, Dutch Guiana
and Curacoa. In Roman times the Low Countries were inhabited by
various peoples, chiefly of Germanic origin; and in the Middle
Ages were divided into several duchies and counties--such as
Brabant, Flanders, Gelderland, Holland, Zealand, etc. The present
government is a hereditary monarchy, consisting of a king or
queen and states-general; the upper chamber of fifty members,
the lower of one hundred. It is essentially a country of large
towns, of five thousand inhabitants and upward. The Frisians are
in North Holland, separated by the river Meuse from the Franks;
the Saxons extend to the Utrecht Veldt. The Semitic race is
represented by the Portuguese Jews; and there is an admixture
of other nationalities. In no part of the country do the Dutch
present a marked physical type, but, on the other hand, they
are sharply differenced, in various localities, by their laws,
their customs, and particularly by their dialects; indeed the
Frisians have a distinct language of their own.

The constitution of 1815, though more than once revised, remains
practically much the same as at first. The son of the monarch, the
heir-apparent, is called the Prince of Orange. The administration
of the Provinces is in the hands of the provincial states; these
meet but a few times in the year. The Communes have their communal
councils, under the control of the burgomasters. There is a high
court of justice, and numerous minor courts.

The population is divided between about two million two hundred
thousand Protestants, and half as many Roman Catholics, together
with others. There are four thousand schools, with six hundred
thousand pupils, and about fourteen thousand teachers. Not more
than ten per cent of the people are illiterate, and the women are
as carefully educated the men. There are four great universities:
Leyden, founded in 1575; Utrecht, founded in 1636; Groningen, in
1614; and Amsterdam, which has existed since 1877. These seats of
learning give instruction to from three hundred to seven hundred
students each. The total expenses of the universities average
about six hundred thousand dollars. There are also in Holland
excellent institutions of art, science, and industry.

Agriculture is generally pursued, but without the extreme science
and economy shown in Belgium. The cultivation and produce vary,
in part, according as the soil is sand or clay; but the same kind
of soil, in different parts of the country, produces different
results. Cattle are largely raised and are of first-rate quality;
Friesland produces the best, but there are also excellent stocks in
North Holland and South Holland. In Drenthe, owing to the extensive
pasturage, great numbers of sheep are raised. But perhaps the most
important industry of Holland is the fisheries, both those of the
deep sea, and those carried on in the great Zuyder Zee, which
occupies a vast area within the boundaries of the country. These
fisheries, however, are not in all years successful, owing to
the ungovernable vagaries of ocean currents, and other causes.

Holland has taken a prominent part in European thought since about
1820. The Dutch language, instead of yielding to the domination
of the German, has been cultivated and enriched. The writers who
have achieved distinction could hardly even be named in space
here available, and any approach to a critical estimate of them
would require volumes. One of the earlier but best-known names
is that of Jacobus Van Lennep, who is regarded as the leader
of the Dutch Romantic school. He was born in Amsterdam on the
24th of March, 1802, and died at Oosterbeek, near Arnheim, August
25, 1868. His father, David, was a professor and a poet; Jacobus
studied jurisprudence at Leyden, and afterward practiced law at
Amsterdam. For a while he took some part in politics as a member
of the second chamber; but his heart was bent on the pursuit
of literature, and he gradually abandoned all else for that.
His first volume of poems was published when he was but
four-and-twenty; and he was the author of several dramas. But
his strongest predilections were for romantic novel-writing;
and his works in this direction show signs of the influence of
Walter Scott, who dominated the romantic field in the first half
of this century, and was known in Holland as well as throughout
the rest of Europe. "The Foster Son" was published in 1829; the
"Rose of Dekama" in 1836; "The Adventures of Claus Sevenstars" in
1865. His complete works, in prose and poetry, fill six-and-thirty
volumes. A younger contemporary of Van Lennep was Nikolas Beets,
born at Haarlem in 1814; he also was both poet and prose writer,
and his "Camara Obscura," published in 1839, is accounted a
masterpiece of character and humor, though it was composed when
the author was barely twenty-four years of age. Van den Brink
was a leading critic of the Romanticists; Hasebrock, author of
a volume of essays called "Truth and Dream," has been likened
to the English Charles Lamb. Vosmaer is another eminent figure
in Dutch literature; he wrote a "Life of Rembrandt" which is a
masterpiece of biography. Kuenen, who died but ten years ago,
was a biblical critic of European celebrity. But the list of
contemporary Dutch writers is long and brilliant, and the time
to speak critically of them must be postponed.

Nothing impresses the visitor to Holland more than the vast dikes
or dams which restrain the sea from overwhelming the country.
They have to be constantly watched and renewed, and to those
unused to the idea of dwelling in the presence of such constant
peril, the phlegm of the Hollanders is remarkable. M. Havard, who
has made a careful study of the country and its people, and who
writes of them in a lively style, has left excellent descriptions
of these unique works. "We know," he says, "what the Zealand
soil is--how uncertain, changing, and mutable; nevertheless,
a construction is placed upon it, one hundred and twenty yards
long, sixteen yards wide at the entrance, and more than seven
and a half yards deep below high water. Add to this, that the
enormous basin (one thousand nine hundred square yards) is enclosed
within granite walls of extraordinary thickness, formed of solid
blocks of stone of tremendous weight. To what depth must the
daring workmen who undertook the Cyclopean task have gone in
search of a stable standpoint, on which to lay the foundation
of such a mass! In what subterranean layer could they have had
such confidence, in this country where the earth sinks in, all of
a sudden, where islands disappear without leaving a trace--that
they ventured to build upon it so mighty an edifice! And observe
that not only one dam is thus built; in the two islands of Zuid
Beveland and Walcheren a dozen have been constructed. There are
two at Wormeldingen. In the presence of these achievements, of
problems faced with such courage and solved with such success,
one is almost bewildered."

Elsewhere, in speaking of Kampveer, one of the towns which suffered
an inundation, he says, "Poor little port! once so famous, lively,
populous, and noisy, and now so solitary and still! Traces of
its former military and mercantile character are yet to be seen.
On the left stands a majestic building with thick walls and few
apertures, terminating on the sea in a crenelated round tower;
and these elegant houses, with their arched and trefoiled windows,
and their decorated gables, on the right, once formed the ancient
Scotschhuis. Every detail of the building recalls the great trade
in wool done by the city at that period. Far off, at the entrance
of the port, stands a tower, the last remnant of the ramparts,
formerly a fortification; it is now a tavern. In vain do we look
for the companion tower; it has disappeared with the earth on
which its foundations stood deep and strong for ages. If, from
the summit of the surviving tower, you search for that mysterious
town upon the opposite bank, you will look for it in vain where
it formerly stood and mirrored its houses and steeples in the
limpid waters. Kampen also has been swallowed up forever, leaving
no trace that it ever existed in this world. The land that stretches
out before us is all affected by that subtle, cancerous disease,
the _val_, whose ravages are so terrible. Two centuries ago this
great bay was so filled up with sand that it was expected the
two islands would in a short time be reunited and thenceforth
form but one. Then, on a sudden, the gulf yawned anew. That huge
rent, the Veer Gat, opened once again, more deeply than before;
whole towns were buried, and their inhabitants drowned. Then the
water retired, the earth rose, shaking off its humid winding
sheet, and the old task was resumed; man began once more to dispute
the soil with the invading waves. A portion of the land, which
seemed to have been forever lost, was regained; but at the cost
of what determined strife, after how many battles, with what
dire alternations! Within a century, three entire polders on
the north coast of Noordbeveland have again vanished, and in
the place where they were there flows a stream forty yards deep.
In 1873, the polder of Borselen, thirty-one acres in extent, sank
into the waters. Each year the terrible _val_ devours some space
or other, carrying away the land in strips. The Sophia polder is
now attacked by the _val_. Every possible means is being employed
for its defence; no sacrifice is spared. The game is almost up;
already one dike has been swallowed, and a portion of the conquered
ground has had to be abandoned. The dams are being strengthened
in the rear, while every effort is being made to fix the soil so
as to prevent the slipping away of the reclaimed land. To effect
this, not only are the dams, reinforced and complicated by an
inextricable network of stones and interlaced tree-branches; but
_Zinkstukken_ are sunk far off in the sea, which by squeezing down
the shifting bottom avert those sudden displacements which bring
about such disasters. The Zinkstukken--enormous constructions in
wicker work--are square rafts, made of reeds and boughs twisted
together, sometimes two or three hundred feet long on a side.
They are made on the edge of the coast and pushed into the sea;
and no sooner is one afloat than it is surrounded by a crowd of
barges and boats, big and little, laden with stones and clods
of earth. The boats are then attached to the Zinkstuk, and this
combined flotilla is so disposed along shore that the current
carries it to the place where the Zinkstuk is to be sunk. When
the current begins to make itself felt, the raft is loaded by
the simple process of heaping the contents of the barges upon
the middle of it. The men form in line from the four corners
to the centre, and the loads of stone and earth are passed on to
the centre of the raft, on which they are flung; then the middle
of the Zinkstuk begins to sink gently, and to disappear under the
water. As it goes down, the operators withdraw; the stones and
clods are then flung upon it from boats. At this stage of the
proceedings the Zinkstuk is so heavy that all the vessels, dragged
by its weight, lean over, and their masts bend above it. But now
the decisive moment approaches, and the foreman, standing on
the poop of the largest boat, in the middle of the flotilla, on
the side furthest from the shore, awaits the instant when the
Zinkstuk shall come into precisely the foreordained position.
At that instant he utters a shout and makes a signal; the ropes
are cut, the raft plunges downward, and disappears forever, while
the boats recover their proper position."

M. Havard merits the space we have given him; for he describes
a work the like of which has never been seen elsewhere in the
world, any more than have the conditions which necessitated it.
But the picturesqueness of the actual scene can hardly be conveyed
in words. Under an azure sky we behold outstretched a sparkling
sea, its waters shading from green to blue and from yellow to
violet, harmoniously blending. In the distance, as though marking
the horizon, stretches a long, green strip of land, with the
spires of the churches standing out in strong relief against the
sky. At our feet is the Zinkstuk, surrounded by its flotilla.
The great red sails furled upon the masts, the green poops, the
rudders sheathed with burnished copper, the red streaks along
the sides of the boats, the colored shirts, brown vests, and
blue girdles of the men, touched by the warm rays of the sun,
compose a striking picture. On all sides the men are in motion,
and five hundred brawny arms are flinging the contents of the
boats upon the great raft; a truly Titanic stoning! Projectiles
rain from all sides without pause, until the moment comes when
the decisive command is to be given. Then silence, absolute and
impressive, falls upon the multitude. Suddenly the signal is
given; a creaking noise is heard; the fifty boats right themselves
at the same instant, and turn toward the point where the great
raft which had separated them has just disappeared. They bump
against one another, they get entangled, they group themselves in
numberless different ways. The swarming men, stooping and raising
up, the uplifted arms, the flying stones, the spurting water
covering the boats with foam; and in the midst of the confusion the
polder-jungens flinging the clods of earth with giant strength and
swiftness upon the raft. At certain points the tumult declines;
flags are hoisted from the tops of masts, the large sails are
shaken out, and aided by the breeze some vessels get loose, sail
out, and desert the field of battle. These are they whose task
is done, and which are empty. They retire one by one upon the
great expanse of water, which, save in one spot, was a little
while ago deserted, and is now overspread with the vessels making
their various ways toward that green line on the horizon.

This is a conflict not of days, nor of years, nor of generations,
but of all time; and what the end will be none can foretell.
It is the concrete symbol of the everlasting fight of man with
nature, which means civilization. The day may come when, where
once Holland was, will be outspread the serene waters of the
sea, hiding beneath them the records of the stupendous struggle
of so many centuries. Or, perhaps, some mysterious shifting of
the ocean bottom may not only lift Holland out of peril, but
uncover mighty tracts of land which, in the prehistoric past,
belonged to Europe. Meanwhile it is easy to understand that the
people who can wage this ceaseless war for their homes and lives,
are the sons of those heroes who curbed the might of Spain, and
taught the world the lessons of freedom and independence.


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