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Title: History of the Revolt of the Netherlands — Complete
Author: Schiller, Johann Christoph Friedrich von, 1759-1805
Language: English
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                THE WORKS

                  OF

              FREDERICK SCHILLER



            Translated from the German



                Illustrated



PREFACE TO THE EDITION.



The present is the best collected edition of the important works of
Schiller which is accessible to readers in the English language.
Detached poems or dramas have been translated at various times since
the first publication of the original works; and in several instances
these versions have been incorporated into this collection. Schiller
was not less efficiently qualified by nature for an historian than for
a dramatist. He was formed to excel in all departments of literature,
and the admirable lucidity of style and soundness and impartiality of
judgment displayed in his historical writings will not easily be
surpassed, and will always recommend them as popular expositions of the
periods of which they treat.

Since the publication of the first English edition many corrections and
improvements have been made, with a view to rendering it as acceptable
as possible to English readers; and, notwithstanding the disadvantages
of a translation, the publishers feel sure that Schiller will be
heartily acceptable to English readers, and that the influence of his
writings will continue to increase.

THE HISTORY OF THE REVOLT OF THE NETHERLANDS was translated by Lieut.
E. B. Eastwick, and originally published abroad for students' use. But
this translation was too strictly literal for general readers. It has
been carefully revised, and some portions have been entirely rewritten
by the Rev. A. J. W. Morrison, who also has so ably translated the
HISTORY OF THE THIRTY YEARS WAR.

THE CAMP OF WALLENSTEIN was translated by Mr. James Churchill, and first
appeared in "Frazer's Magazine." It is an exceedingly happy version of
what has always been deemed the most untranslatable of Schiller's works.

THE PICCOLOMINI and DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN are the admirable version of
S. T. Coleridge, completed by the addition of all those passages which
he has omitted, and by a restoration of Schiller's own arrangement of
the acts and scenes. It is said, in defence of the variations which
exist between the German original and the version given by Coleridge,
that he translated from a prompter's copy in manuscript, before the
drama had been printed, and that Schiller himself subsequently altered
it, by omitting some passages, adding others, and even engrafting
several of Coleridge's adaptations.

WILHELM TELL is translated by Theodore Martin, Esq., whose well-known
position as a writer, and whose special acquaintance with German
literature make any recommendation superfluous.

DON CARLOS is translated by R. D. Boylan, Esq., and, in the opinion of
competent judges, the version is eminently successful. Mr. Theodore
Martin kindly gave some assistance, and, it is but justice to state,
has enhanced the value of the work by his judicious suggestions.

The translation of MARY STUART is that by the late Joseph Mellish,
who appears to have been on terms of intimate friendship with Schiller.
His version was made from the prompter's copy, before the play was
published, and, like Coleridge's Wallenstein, contains many passages not
found in the printed edition. These are distinguished by brackets. On
the other hand, Mr. Mellish omitted many passages which now form part of
the printed drama, all of which are now added. The translation, as a
whole, stands out from similar works of the time (1800) in almost as
marked a degree as Coleridge's Wallenstein, and some passages exhibit
powers of a high order; a few, however, especially in the earlier
scenes, seemed capable of improvement, and these have been revised,
but, in deference to the translator, with a sparing hand.

THE MAID OF ORLEANS is contributed by Miss Anna Swanwick, whose
translation of Faust has since become well known. It has been.
carefully revised, and is now, for the first time, published complete.

THE BRIDE OF MESSINA, which has been regarded as the poetical
masterpiece of Schiller, and, perhaps of all his works, presents the
greatest difficulties to the translator, is rendered by A. Lodge, Esq.,
M. A. This version, on its first publication in England, a few years
ago, was received with deserved eulogy by distinguished critics. To the
present edition has been prefixed Schiller's Essay on the Use of the
Chorus in Tragedy, in which the author's favorite theory of the "Ideal
of Art" is enforced with great ingenuity and eloquence.



                  THE HISTORY

                    OF THE

            REVOLT OF THE NETHERLANDS.



CONTENTS.

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

BOOK I.----Earlier History of The Netherlands up to the Sixteenth Century

BOOK II.---Cardinal Granvella

BOOK III.--Conspiracy of the Nobles

BOOK IV.---The Iconoclasts
   Trial and Execution of Counts Egmont and Horn
   Siege of Antwerp by the Prince of Parma, in the Years 1584 and 1585



THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE.

Many years ago, when I read the History of the Belgian Revolution in
Watson's excellent work, I was seized with an enthusiasm which political
events but rarely excite. On further reflection I felt that this
enthusiastic feeling had arisen less from the book itself than from the
ardent workings of my own imagination, which had imparted to the
recorded materials the particular form that so fascinated me. These
imaginations, therefore, I felt a wish to fix, to multiply, and to
strengthen; these exalted sentiments I was anxious to extend by
communicating them to others. This was my principal motive for
commencing the present history, my only vocation to write it. The
execution of this design carried me farther than in the beginning I had
expected. A closer acquaintance with my materials enabled me to
discover defects previously unnoticed, long waste tracts to be filled
up, apparent contradictions to be reconciled, and isolated facts to be
brought into connection with the rest of the subject. Not so much with
the view of enriching my history with new facts as of seeking a key to
old ones, I betook myself to the original sources, and thus what was
originally intended to be only a general outline expanded under my hands
into an elaborate history. The first part, which concludes with the
Duchess of Parma's departure from the Netherlands, must be looked upon
only as the introduction to the history of the Revolution itself, which
did not come to an open outbreak till the government of her successor.
I have bestowed the more care and attention upon this introductory
period the more the generality of writers who had previously treated of
it seemed to me deficient in these very qualities. Moreover, it is in
my opinion the more important as being the root and source of all the
subsequent events. If, then, the first volume should appear to any as
barren in important incident, dwelling prolixly on trifles, or, rather,
should seem at first sight profuse of reflections, and in general
tediously minute, it must be remembered that it was precisely out of
small beginnings that the Revolution was gradually developed; and that
all the great results which follow sprang out of a countless number of
trifling and little circumstances.

A nation like the one before us invariably takes its first steps with
doubts and uncertainty, to move afterwards only the more rapidly for its
previous hesitation. I proposed, therefore, to follow the same method
in describing this rebellion. The longer the reader delays on the
introduction the more familiar he becomes with the actors in this
history, and the scene in which they took a part, so much the more
rapidly and unerringly shall I be able to lead him through the
subsequent periods, where the accumulation of materials will forbid
a slowness of step or minuteness of attention.

As for the authorities of our history there is not so much cause to
complain of their paucity as of their extreme abundance, since it is
indispensable to read them all to obtain that clear view of the whole
subject to which the perusal of a part, however large, is always
prejudicial. From the unequal, partial, and often contradictory
narratives of the same occurrences it is often extremely difficult to
seize the truth, which in all is alike partly concealed and to be found
complete in none. In this first volume, besides de Thou, Strada, Reyd,
Grotius, Meteren, Burgundius, Meursius, Bentivoglio, and some moderns,
the Memoirs of Counsellor Hopper, the life and correspondence of his
friend Viglius, the records of the trials of the Counts of Hoorne and
Egmont, the defence of the Prince of Orange, and some few others have
been my guides. I must here acknowledge my obligations to a work
compiled with much industry and critical acumen, and written with
singular truthfulness and impartiality. I allude to the general history
of the United Netherlands which was published in Holland during the
present century. Besides many original documents which I could not
otherwise have had access to, it has abstracted all that is valuable in
the excellent works of Bos, Hooft, Brandt, Le Clerc, which either were
impossible for me to procure or were not available to my use, as being
written in Dutch, which I do not understand. An otherwise ordinary
writer, Richard Dinoth, has also been of service to me by the many
extracts he gives from the pamphlets of the day, which have been long
lost. I have in vain endeavored to procure the correspondence of
Cardinal Granvella, which also would no doubt have thrown much light
upon the history of these times. The lately published work on the
Spanish Inquisition by my excellent countryman, Professor Spittler of
Gottingen, reached me too late for its sagacious and important contents
to be available for my purpose.

The more I am convinced of the importance of the French history, the
more I lament that it was not in my power to study, as I could have
wished, its copious annals in the original sources and contemporary
documents, and to reproduce it abstracted of the form in which it was
transmitted to me by the more intelligent of my predecessors, and
thereby emancipate myself from the influence which every talented author
exercises more or less upon his readers. But to effect this the work of
a few years must have become the labor of a life. My aim in making this
attempt will be more than attained if it should convince a portion of
the reading public of the possibility of writing a history with historic
truth without making a trial of patience to the reader; and if it should
extort from another portion the confession that history can borrow from
a cognate art without thereby, of necessity, becoming a romance.

WEIMAR, Michaelmas Fair, 1788.



INTRODUCTION.

Of those important political events which make the sixteenth century to
take rank among the brightest of the world's epochs, the foundation of
the freedom of the Netherlands appears to me one of the most remarkable.
If the glittering exploits of ambition and the pernicious lust of power
claim our admiration, how much more so should an event in which
oppressed humanity struggled for its noblest rights, where with the good
cause unwonted powers were united, and the resources of resolute despair
triumphed in unequal contest over the terrible arts of tyranny.

Great and encouraging is the reflection that there is a resource left us
against the arrogant usurpations of despotic power; that its
best-contrived plans against the liberty of mankind may be frustrated;
that resolute opposition can weaken even the outstretched arm of tyranny;
and that heroic perseverance can eventually exhaust its fearful
resources. Never did this truth affect me so sensibly as in tracing the
history of that memorable rebellion which forever severed the United
Netherlands from the Spanish Crown. Therefore I thought it not unworth
the while to attempt to exhibit to the world this grand memorial of
social union, in the hope that it may awaken in the breast of my reader a
spirit-stirring consciousness of his own powers, and give a new and
irrefragible example of what in a good cause men may both dare and
venture, and what by union they may accomplish. It is not the
extraordinary or heroic features of this event that induce me to describe
it. The annals of the world record perhaps many similar enterprises,
which may have been even bolder in the conception and more brilliant in
the execution. Some states have fallen after a nobler struggle; others
have risen with more exalted strides. Nor are we here to look for eminent
heroes, colossal talents, or those marvellous exploits which the history
of past times presents in such rich abundance. Those times are gone; such
men are no more. In the soft lap of refinement we have suffered the
energetic powers to become enervate which those ages called into action
and rendered indispensable. With admiring awe we wonder at these gigantic
images of the past as a feeble old man gazes on the athletic sports of
youth.

Not so, however, in the history before us. The people here presented to
our notice were the most peaceful in our quarter of the globe, and less
capable than their neighbors of that heroic spirit which stamps a lofty
character even on the most insignificant actions. The pressure of
circumstances with its peculiar influence surprised them and forced a
transitory greatness upon them, which they never could have possessed
and perhaps will never possess again. It is, indeed, exactly this want
of heroic grandeur which renders this event peculiarly instructive; and
while others aim at showing the superiority of genius over chance, I
shall here paint a scene where necessity creates genius and accident
makes heroes.

If in any case it be allowable to recognize the intervention of
Providence in human affairs it is certainly so in the present history,
its course appears so contradictory to reason and experience. Philip
II., the most powerful sovereign of his line--whose dreaded supremacy
menaced the independence of Europe--whose treasures surpassed the
collective wealth of all the monarchs of Christendom besides--whose
ambitious projects were backed by numerous and well-disciplined armies
--whose troops, hardened by long and bloody wars, and confident in past
victories and in the irresistible prowess of this nation, were eager for
any enterprise that promised glory and spoil, and ready to second with
prompt obedience the daring genius of their leaders--this dreaded
potentate here appears before us obstinately pursuing one favorite
project, devoting to it the untiring efforts of a long reign, and
bringing all these terrible resources to bear upon it; but forced, in
the evening of his reign, to abandon it--here we see the mighty Philip
II. engaging in combat with a few weak and powerless adversaries, and
retiring from it at last with disgrace.

And with what adversaries? Here, a peaceful tribe of fishermen and
shepherds, in an almost-forgotten corner of Europe, which with
difficulty they had rescued from the ocean; the sea their profession,
and at once their wealth and their plague; poverty with freedom their
highest blessing, their glory, their virtue. There, a harmless, moral,
commercial people, revelling in the abundant fruits of thriving
industry, and jealous of the maintenance of laws which had proved their
benefactors. In the happy leisure of affluence they forsake the narrow
circle of immediate wants and learn to thirst after higher and nobler
gratifications. The new views of truth, whose benignant dawn now broke
over Europe, cast a fertilizing beam on this favored clime, and the free
burgher admitted with joy the light which oppressed and miserable slaves
shut out. A spirit of independence, which is the ordinary companion of
prosperity and freedom, lured this people on to examine the authority of
antiquated opinions and to break an ignominious chain. But the stern
rod of despotism was held suspended over them; arbitrary power
threatened to tear away the foundation of their happiness; the guardian
of their laws became their tyrant. Simple in their statecraft no less
than in their manners, they dared to appeal to ancient treaties and to
remind the lord of both Indies of the rights of nature. A name decides
the whole issue of things. In Madrid that was called rebellion which in
Brussels was simply styled a lawful remonstrance. The complaints of
Brabant required a prudent mediator; Philip II. sent an executioner.
The signal for war was given. An unparalleled tyranny assailed both
property and life. The despairing citizens, to whom the choice of
deaths was all that was left, chose the nobler one on the battle-field.
A wealthy and luxurious nation loves peace, but becomes warlike as soon
as it becomes poor. Then it ceases to tremble for a life which is
deprived of everything that had made it desirable. In an instant the
contagion of rebellion seizes at once the most distant provinces; trade
and commerce are at a standstill, the ships disappear from the harbors,
the artisan abandons his workshop, the rustic his uncultivated fields.
Thousands fled to distant lands, a thousand victims fell on the bloody
field, and fresh thousands pressed on. Divine, indeed, must that
doctrine be for which men could die so joyfully. All that was wanting
was the last finishing hand, the enlightened, enterprising spirit, to
seize on this great political crisis and to mould the offspring of
chance into the ripe creation of wisdom. William the Silent, like a
second Brutus, devoted himself to the great cause of liberty. Superior
to all selfishness, he resigned honorable offices which entailed on him
obectionable duties, and, magnanimously divesting himself of all his
princely dignities, he descended to a state of voluntary poverty, and
became but a citizen of the world. The cause of justice was staked upon
the hazardous game of battle; but the newly-raised levies of mercenaries
and peaceful husbandmen were unable to withstand the terrible onset of
an experienced force. Twice did the brave William lead his dispirited
troops against the tyrant. Twice was he abandoned by them, but not by
his courage.

Philip II. sent as many reinforcements as the dreadful importunity of
his viceroy demanded. Fugitives, whom their country rejected, sought a
new home on the ocean, and turned to the ships of their enemy to satisfy
the cravings both of vengeance and of want. Naval heroes were now
formed out of corsairs, and a marine collected out of piratical vessels;
out of morasses arose a republic. Seven provinces threw off the yoke at
the same time, to form a new, youthful state, powerful by its waters and
its union and despair. A solemn decree of the whole nation deposed the
tyrant, and the Spanish name was erased from all its laws.

For such acts no forgiveness remained; the republic became formidable
only because it was impossible for her to retrace her steps. But
factions distracted her within; without, her terrible element, the sea
itself, leaguing with her oppressors, threatened her very infancy with a
premature grave. She felt herself succumb to the superior force of the
enemy, and cast herself a suppliant before the most powerful thrones of
Europe, begging them to accept a dominion which she herself could no
longer protect. At last, but with difficulty--so despised at first was
this state that even the rapacity of foreign monarchs spurned her
opening bloom--a stranger deigned to accept their importunate offer of a
dangerous crown. New hopes began to revive her sinking courage; but in
this new father of his country destiny gave her a traitor, and in the
critical emergency, when the foe was in full force before her very
gates, Charles of Anjou invaded the liberties which he had been called
to protect. In the midst of the tempest, too, the assassin's hand tore
the steersman from the helm, and with William of Orange the career of
the infant republic was seemingly at an end, and all her guardian angels
fled. But the ship continued to scud along before the storm, and the
swelling canvas carried her safe without the pilot's help.

Philip II. missed the fruits of a deed which cost him his royal honor,
and perhaps, also, his self-respect. Liberty struggled on still with
despotism in obstinate and dubious contest; sanguinary battles were
fought; a brilliant array of heroes succeeded each other on the field of
glory, and Flanders and Brabant were the schools which educated generals
for the coming century. A long, devastating war laid waste the open
country; victor and vanquished alike waded through blood; while the
rising republic of the waters gave a welcome to fugitive industry, and
out of the ruins of despotism erected the noble edifice of its own
greatness. For forty years lasted the war whose happy termination was
not to bless the dying eye of Philip; which destroyed one paradise in
Europe to form a new one out of its shattered fragments; which destroyed
the choicest flower of military youth, and while it enriched more than a
quarter of the globe impoverished the possessor of the golden Peru.
This monarch, who could expend nine hundred tons of gold without
oppressing his subjects, and by tyrannical measures extorted far more,
heaped, moreover, on his exhausted people a debt of one hundred and
forty millions of ducats. An implacable hatred of liberty swallowed up
all these treasures, and consumed on the fruitless task the labor of a
royal life. But the Reformation throve amidst the devastations of the
sword, and over the blood of her citizens the banner of the new republic
floated victorious.

This improbable turn of affairs seems to border on a miracle; many
circumstances, however, combined to break the power of Philip, and to
favor the progress of the infant state. Had the whole weight of his
power fallen on the United Provinces there had been no hope for their
religion or their liberty. His own ambition, by tempting him to divide
his strength, came to the aid of their weakness. The expensive policy
of maintaining traitors in every cabinet of Europe; the support of the
League in France; the revolt of the Moors in Granada; the conquest of
Portugal, and the magnificent fabric of the Escurial, drained at last
his apparently inexhaustible treasury, and prevented his acting in the
field with spirit and energy. The German and Italian troops, whom the
hope of gain alone allured to his banner, mutinied when he could no
longer pay them, and faithlessly abandoned their leaders in the decisive
moment of action. These terrible instruments of oppression now turned
their dangerous power against their employer, and wreaked their
vindictive rage on the provinces which remained faithful to him.
The unfortunate armament against England, on which, like a desperate
gamester, he had staked the whole strength of his kingdom, completed his
ruin; with the armada sank the wealth of the two Indies, and the flower
of Spanish chivalry.

But in the very same proportion that the Spanish power declined the
republic rose in fresh vigor. The ravages which the fanaticism of the
new religion, the tyranny of the Inquisition, the furious rapacity of
the soldiery, and the miseries of a long war unbroken by any interval of
peace, made in the provinces of Brabant, Flanders, and Hainault, at once
the arsenals and the magazines of this expensive contest, naturally
rendered it every year more difficult to support and recruit the royal
armies. The Catholic Netherlands had already lost a million of
citizens, and the trodden fields maintained their husbandmen no longer.
Spain itself had but few more men to spare. That country, surprised by
a sudden affluence which brought idleness with it, had lost much of its
population, and could not long support the continual drafts of men which
were required both for the New World and the Netherlands. Of these
conscripts few ever saw their country again; and these few having left
it as youths returned to it infirm and old. Gold, which had become more
common, made soldiers proportionately dearer; the growing charm of
effeminacy enhanced the price of the opposite virtues. Wholly different
was the posture of affairs with the rebels. The thousands whom the
cruelty of the viceroy expelled from the southern Netherlands, the
Huguenots whom the wars of persecution drove from France, as well as
every one whom constraint of conscience exiled from the other parts of
Europe, all alike flocked to unite themselves with the Belgian
insurgents. The whole Christian world was their recruiting ground.
The fanaticism both of the persecutor and the persecuted worked in their
behalf. The enthusiasm of a doctrine newly embraced, revenge, want, and
hopeless misery drew to their standard adventurers from every part of
Europe. All whom the new doctrine had won, all who had suffered, or had
still cause of fear from despotism, linked their own fortunes with those
of the new republic. Every injury inflicted by a tyrant gave a right of
citizenship in Holland. Men pressed towards a country where liberty
raised her spirit-stirring banner, where respect and security were
insured to a fugitive religion, and even revenge on the oppressor. If
we consider the conflux in the present day of people to Holland, seeking
by their entrance upon her territory to be reinvested in their rights as
men, what must it have been at a time when the rest of Europe groaned
under a heavy bondage, when Amsterdam was nearly the only free port for
all opinions? Many hundred families sought a refuge for their wealth in
a land which the ocean and domestic concord powerfully combined to
protect. The republican army maintained its full complement without the
plough being stripped of hands to work it. Amid the clash of arms trade
and industry flourished, and the peaceful citizen enjoyed in
anticipation the fruits of liberty which foreign blood was to purchase
for them. At the very time when the republic of Holland was struggling
for existence she extended her dominions beyond the ocean, and was
quietly occupied in erecting her East Indian Empire.

Moreover, Spain maintained this expensive war with dead, unfructifying
gold, that never returned into the hand which gave it away, while it
raised to her the price of every necessary. The treasuries of the
republic were industry and commerce. Time lessened the one whilst it
multiplied the other, and exactly in the same proportion that the
resources of the Spanish government became exhausted by the long
continuance of the war the republic began to reap a richer harvest. Its
field was sown sparingly with the choice seed which bore fruit, though
late, yet a hundredfold; but the tree from which Philip gathered fruit
was a fallen trunk which never again became verdant.

Philip's adverse destiny decreed that all the treasures which he
lavished for the oppression of the Provinces should contribute to enrich
them. The continual outlay of Spanish gold had diffused riches and
luxury throughout Europe; but the increasing wants of Europe were
supplied chiefly by the Netherlanders, who were masters of the commerce
of the known world, and who by their dealings fixed the price of all
merchandise. Even during the war Philip could not prohibit his own
subjects from trading with the republic; nay, he could not even desire
it. He himself furnished the rebels with the means of defraying the
expenses of their own defence; for the very war which was to ruin them
increased the sale of their goods. The enormous suns expended on his
fleets and armies flowed for the most part into the exchequer of the
republic, which was more or less connected with the commercial places of
Flanders and Brabant. Whatever Philip attempted against the rebels
operated indirectly to their advantage.

The sluggish progress of this war did the king as much injury as it
benefited the rebels. His army was composed for the most part of the
remains of those victorious troops which had gathered their laurels
under Charles V. Old and long services entitled them to repose; many of
them, whom the war had enriched, impatiently longed for their homes,
where they might end in ease a life of hardship. Their former zeal,
their heroic spirit, and their discipline relaxed in the same proportion
as they thought they had fully satisfied their honor and their duty, and
as they began to reap at last the reward of so many battles. Besides,
the troops which had been accustomed by their irresistible impetuosity
to vanquish all opponents were necessarily wearied out by a war which
was carried on not so much against men as against the elements; which
exercised their patience more than it gratified their love of glory; and
where there was less of danger than of difficulty and want to contend
with. Neither personal courage nor long military experience was of
avail in a country whose peculiar features gave the most dastardly the
advantage. Lastly, a single discomfiture on foreign ground did them
more injury than any victories gained over an enemy at home could profit
them. With the rebels the case was exactly the reverse. In so
protracted a war, in which no decisive battle took place, the weaker
party must naturally learn at last the art of defence from the stronger;
slight defeats accustomed him to danger; slight victories animated his
confidence.

At the beginning of the war the republican army scarcely dared to show
itself in the field; the long continuance of the struggle practised and
hardened it. As the royal armies grew wearied of victory, the
confidence of the rebels rose with their improved discipline and
experience. At last, at the end of half a century, master and pupil
separated, unsubdued, and equal in the fight.

Again, throughout the war the rebels acted with more concord and
unanimity than the royalists. Before the former had lost their first
leader the government of the Netherlands had passed through as many as
five hands. The Duchess of Parma's indecision soon imparted itself to
the cabinet of Madrid, which in a short time tried in succession almost
every system of policy. Duke Alva's inflexible sternness, the mildness
of his successor Requescens, Don John of Austria's insidious cunning,
and the active and imperious mind of the Prince of Parma gave as many
opposite directions to the war, while the plan of rebellion remained the
same in a single head, who, as he saw it clearly, pursued it with vigor.
The king's greatest misfortune was that right principles of action
generally missed the right moment of application. In the commencement
of the troubles, when the advantage was as yet clearly on the king's
side, when prompt resolution and manly firmness might have crushed the
rebellion in the cradle, the reigns of government were allowed to hang
loose in the hands of a woman. After the outbreak had come to an open
revolt, and when the strength of the factious and the power of the king
stood more equally balanced, and when a skilful flexible prudence could
alone have averted the impending civil war, the government devolved on a
man who was eminently deficient in this necessary qualification. So
watchful an observer as William the Silent failed not to improve every
advantage which the faulty policy of his adversary presented, and with
quiet silent industry he slowly but surely pushed on the great
enterprise to its accomplishment.

But why did not Philip II. himself appear in the Netherlands? Why did
he prefer to employ every other means, however improbable, rather than
make trial of the only remedy which could insure success? To curb the
overgrown power and insolence of the nobility there was no expedient
more natural than the presence of their master. Before royalty itself
all secondary dignities must necessarily have sunk in the shade, all
other splendor be dimmed. Instead of the truth being left to flow
slowly and obscurely through impure channels to the distant throne, so
that procrastinated measures of redress gave time to ripen ebullitions
of the moment into acts of deliberation, his own penetrating glance
would at once have been able to separate truth from error; and cold
policy alone, not to speak of his humanity, would have saved the land a
million citizens. The nearer to their source the more weighty would his
edicts have been; the thicker they fell on their objects the weaker and
the more dispirited would have become the efforts of the rebels. It
costs infinitely more to do an evil to an enemy in his presence than in
his absence. At first the rebellion appeared to tremble at its own
name, and long sheltered itself under the ingenious pretext of defending
the cause of its sovereign against the arbitrary assumptions of his own
viceroy. Philip's appearance in Brussels would have put an end at once
to this juggling. In that case, the rebels would have been compelled to
act up to their pretence, or to cast aside the mask, and so, by
appearing in their true shape, condemn themselves. And what a relief
for the Netherlands if the king's presence had only spared them those
evils which were inflicted upon them without his knowledge, and contrary
to his will. [1] What gain, too, even if it had only enabled him to
watch over the expenditure of the vast sums which, illegally raised on
the plea of meeting the exigencies of the war, disappeared in the
plundering hands of his deputies.

What the latter were compelled to extort by the unnatural expedient of
terror, the nation would have been disposed to grant to the sovereign
majesty. That which made his ministers detested would have rendered the
monarch feared; for the abuse of hereditary power is less painfully
oppressive than the abuse of delegated authority. His presence would
have saved his exchequer thousands had he been nothing more than an
economical despot; and even had he been less, the awe of his person
would have preserved a territory which was lost through hatred and
contempt for his instruments.

In the same manner, as the oppression of the people of the Netherlands
excited the sympathy of all who valued their own rights, it might have
been expected that their disobedience and defection would have been a
call to all princes to maintain their own prerogatives in the case of
their neighbors. But jealousy of Spain got the better of political
sympathies, and the first powers of Europe arranged themselves more or
less openly on the side of freedom.

Although bound to the house of Spain by the ties of relationship, the
Emperor Maximilian II. gave it just cause for its charge against him
of secretly favoring the rebels. By the offer of his mediation he
implicitly acknowledged the partial justice of their complaints, and
thereby encouraged them to a resolute perseverance in their demands.
Under an emperor sincerely devoted to the interests of the Spanish
house, William of Orange could scarcely have drawn so many troops and so
much money from Germany. France, without openly and formally breaking
the peace, placed a prince of the blood at the head of the Netherlandish
rebels; and it was with French gold and French troops that the
operations of the latter were chiefly conducted. [2] Elizabeth of
England, too, did but exercise a just retaliation and revenge in
protecting the rebels against their legitimate sovereign; and although
her meagre and sparing aid availed no farther than to ward off utter
ruin from the republic, still even this was infinitely valuable at a
moment when nothing but hope could have supported their exhausted
courage. With both these powers Philip at the time was at peace, but
both betrayed him. Between the weak and the strong honesty often ceases
to appear a virtue; the delicate ties which bind equals are seldom
observed towards him whom all men fear. Philip had banished truth from
political intercourse; he himself had dissolved all morality between
kings, and had made artifice the divinity of cabinets. Without once
enjoying the advantages of his preponderating greatness, he had,
throughout life, to contend with the jealousy which it awakened in
others. Europe made him atone for the possible abuses of a power of
which in fact he never had the full possession.

If against the disparity between the two combatants, which, at first
sight, is so astounding, we weigh all the incidental circumstances which
were adverse to Spain, but favorable to the Netherlands, that which is
supernatural in this event will disappear, while that which is
extraordinary will still remain--and a just standard will be furnished
by which to estimate the real merit of these republicans in working out
their freedom. It must not, however, be thought that so accurate a
calculation of the opposing forces could have preceded the undertaking
itself, or that, on entering this unknown sea, they already knew the
shore on which they would ultimately be landed. The work did not
present itself to the mind of its originator in the exact form which it
assumed when completed, any more than the mind of Luther foresaw the
eternal separation of creeds when he began to oppose the sale of
indulgences. What a difference between the modest procession of those
suitors in Brussels, who prayed for a more humane treatment as a favor,
and the dreaded majesty of a free state, which treated with kings as
equals, and in less than a century disposed of the throne of its former
tyrant. The unseen hand of fate gave to the discharged arrow a higher
flight, and quite a different direction from that which it first
received from the bowstring. In the womb of happy Brabant that liberty
had its birth which, torn from its mother in its earliest infancy, was
to gladden the so despised Holland. But the enterprise must not be less
thought of because its issue differed from the first design. Man works
up, smooths, and fashions the rough stone which the times bring to him;
the moment and the instant may belong to him, but accident develops the
history of the world. If the passions which co-operated actively in
bringing about this event were only not unworthy of the great work to
which they were unconsciously subservient--if only the powers which
aided in its accomplishment were intrinsically noble, if only the single
actions out of whose great concatenation it wonderfully arose were
beautiful then is the event grand, interesting, and fruitful for us, and
we are at liberty to wonder at the bold offspring of chance, or rather
offer up our admiration to a higher intelligence.

The history of the world, like the laws of nature, is consistent with
itself, and simple as the soul of man. Like conditions produce like
phenomena. On the same soil where now the Netherlanders were to resist
their Spanish tyrants, their forefathers, the Batavi and Belgee, fifteen
centuries before, combated against their Roman oppressors. Like the
former, submitting reluctantly to a haughty master, and misgoverned by
rapacious satraps, they broke off their chain with like resolution, and
tried their fortune in a similar unequal combat. The same pride of
conquest, the same national grandeur, marked the Spaniard of the
sixteenth century and the Roman of the first; the same valor and
discipline distinguished the armies of both, their battle array inspired
the same terror. There as here we see stratagem in combat with superior
force, and firmness, strengthened by unanimity, wearying out a mighty
power weakened by division; then as now private hatred armed a whole
nation; a single man, born for his times, revealed to his fellow-slaves
the dangerous Secret of their power, and brought their mute grief to a
bloody announcement. "Confess, Batavians," cries Claudius Civilis to
his countrymen in the sacred grove, "we are no longer treated, as
formerly, by these Romans as allies, but rather as slaves. We are
handed over to their prefects and centurions, who, when satiated with
our plunder and with our blood, make way for others, who, under
different names, renew the same outrages. If even at last Rome deigns
to send us a legate, he oppresses us with an ostentatious and costly
retinue, and with still more intolerable pride. The levies are again at
hand which tear forever children from their parents, brothers from
brothers. Now, Batavians, is our time. Never did Rome lie so prostrate
as now. Let not their names of legions terrify you. There is nothing
in their camps but old men and plunder. Our infantry and horsemen are
strong; Germany is allied to us by blood, and Gaul is ready to throw off
its yoke. Let Syria serve them, and Asia and the East, who are used to
bow before kings; many still live who were born among us before tribute
was paid to the Romans. The gods are ever with the brave." Solemn
religious rites hallowed this conspiracy, like the League of the Gueux;
like that, it craftily wrapped itself in the veil of submissiveness, in
the majesty of a great name. The cohorts of Civilis swear allegiance on
the Rhine to Vespasian in Syria, as the League did to Philip II. The
same arena furnished the same plan of defence, the same refuge to
despair. Both confided their wavering fortunes to a friendly element;
in the same distress Civilis preserves his island, as fifteen centuries
after him William of Orange did the town of Leyden--through an
artificial inundation. The valor of the Batavi disclosed the impotency
of the world's ruler, as the noble courage of their descendants revealed
to the whole of Europe the decay of Spanish greatness. The same
fecundity of genius in the generals of both times gave to the war a
similarly obstinate continuance, and nearly as doubtful an issue; one
difference, nevertheless, distinguishes them: the Romans and Batavians
fought humanely, for they did not fight for religion.

[1] More modern historians, with access to the records of the Spanish
Inquisition and the private communications between Phillip II. and his
various appointees to power in the Netherlands, rebut Shiller's kind but
naive thought. To the contrary, Phillip II. was most critical of his
envoys lack of severity. See in particular the "Rise of the Dutch
Republic" and the other works of John Motley on the history of the
Netherlands all of which are available at Doctrine Publishing Corporation.--D.W.

[2] A few French generals who were by and large ineffective; and many
promises of gold which were undelivered.--D.W.



                BOOK I.

  EARLIER HISTORY OF THE NETHERLANDS UP TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

Before we consider the immediate history of this great revolution, it
will be advisable to go a few steps back into the ancient records of the
country, and to trace the origin of that constitution which we find it
possessed of at the time of this remarkable change.

The first appearance of this people in the history of the world is the
moment of its fall; their conquerors first gave them a political
existence. The extensive region which is bounded by Germany on the
east, on the south by France, on the north and northwest by the North
Sea, and which we comprehend under the general name of the Netherlands,
was, at the time when the Romans invaded Gaul, divided amongst three
principal nations, all originally of German descent, German
institutions, and German spirit. The Rhine formed its boundaries. On
the left of the river dwelt the Belgae, on its right the Frisii, and the
Batavi on the island which its two arms then formed with the ocean. All
these several nations were sooner or later reduced into subjection by
the Romans, but the conquerors themselves give us the most glorious
testimony to their valor. The Belgae, writes Caesar, were the only
people amongst the Gauls who repulsed the invasion of the Teutones and
Cimbri. The Batavi, Tacitus tells us, surpassed all the tribes on the
Rhine in bravery. This fierce nation paid its tribute in soldiers, and
was reserved by its conquerors, like arrow and sword, only for battle.
The Romans themselves acknowledged the Batavian horsemen to be their
best cavalry. Like the Swiss at this day, they formed for a long time
the body-guard of the Roman Emperor; their wild courage terrified the
Dacians, as they saw them, in full armor, swimming across the Danube.
The Batavi accompanied Agricola in his expedition against Britain, and
helped him to conquer that island. The Frieses were, of all, the last
subdued, and the first to regain their liberty. The morasses among
which they dwelt attracted the conquerors later, and enhanced the price
of conquest. The Roman Drusus, who made war in these regions, had a
canal cut from the Rhine into the Flevo, the present Zuyder Zee, through
which the Roman fleet penetrated into the North Sea, and from thence,
entering the mouths of the Ems and the Weser, found an easy passage into
the interior of Germany.

Through four centuries we find Batavian troops in the Roman armies, but
after the time of Honorius their name disappears from history.
Presently we discover their island overrun by the Franks, who again lost
themselves in the adjoining country of Belgium. The Frieses threw off
the yoke of their distant and powerless rulers, and again appearad as a
free, and even a conquering people, who governed themselves by their own
customs and a remnant of Roman laws, and extended their limits beyond
the left bank of the Rhine. Of all the provinces of the Netherlands,
Friesland especially had suffered the least from the irruptions of
strange tribes and foreign customs, and for centuries retained traces of
its original institutions, of its national spirit and manners, which
have not, even at the present day, entirely disappeared.

The epoch of the immigration of nations destroyed the original form of
most of these tribes; other mixed races arose in their place, with other
constitutions. In the general irruption the towns and encampments of
the Romans disappeared, and with them the memorials of their wise
government, which they had employed the natives to execute. The
neglected dikes once more yielded to the violence of the streams and to
the encroachments of the ocean. Those wonders of labor, and creations
of human skill, the canals, dried up, the rivers changed their course,
the continent and the sea confounded their olden limits, and the nature
of the soil changed with its inhabitants. So, too, the connection of
the two eras seems effaced, and with a new race a new history commences.

The monarchy of the Franks, which arose out of the ruins of Roman Gaul,
had, in the sixth and seventh centuries, seized all the provinces of the
Netherlands, and planted there the Christian faith. After an obstinate
war Charles Martel subdued to the French crown Friesland, the last of
all the free provinces, and by his victories paved a way for the gospel.
Charlemagne united all these countries, and formed of them one division
of the mighty empire which he had constructed out of Germany, France,
and Lombardy. As under his descendants this vast dominion was again
torn into fragments, so the Netherlands became at times German, at
others French, or then again Lotheringian Provinces; and at last we find
them under both the names of Friesland and Lower Lotheringia.

With the Franks the feudal system, the offspring of the North, also came
into these lands, and here, too, as in all other countries, it
degenerated. The more powerful vassals gradually made themselves
independent of the crown, and the royal governors usurped the countries
they were appointed to govern. But the rebellions vassals could not
maintain their usurpations without the aid of their own dependants,
whose assistance they were compelled to purchase by new concessions.
At the same time the church became powerful through pious usurpations
and donations, and its abbey lands and episcopal sees acquired an
independent existence. Thus were the Netherlands in the tenth,
eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries split up into several small
sovereignties, whose possessors did homage at one time to the German
Emperor, at another to the kings of France. By purchase, marriages,
legacies, and also by conquest, several of these provinces were often
united under one suzerain, and thus in the fifteenth century we see the
house of Burgundy in possession of the chief part of the Netherlands.
With more or less right Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, had united
as many as eleven provinces under his authority, and to these his son,
Charles the Bold, added two others, acquired by force of arms. Thus
imperceptibly a new state arose in Europe, which wanted nothing but the
name to be the most flourishing kingdom in this quarter of the globe.
These extensive possessions made the Dukes of Burgundy formidable
neighbors to France, and tempted the restless spirit of Charles the Bold
to devise a scheme of conquest, embracing the whole line of country from
the Zuyder Zee and the mouth of the Rhine down to Alsace. The almost
inexhaustible resources of this prince justify in some measure this bold
project. A formidable army threatened to carry it into execution.
Already Switzerland trembled for her liberty; but deceitful fortune
abandoned him in three terrible battles, and the infatuated hero was
lost in the melee of the living and the dead.

   [A page who had seen him fall a few days after the battle conducted
   the victors to the spot, and saved his remains from an ignominious
   oblivion. His body was dragged from out of a pool, in which it was
   fast frozen, naked, and so disfigured with wounds that with great
   difficulty he was recognized, by the well-known deficiency of some
   of his teeth, and by remarkably long finger-nails. But that,
   notwithstanding the marks, there were still incredulous people who
   doubted his death, and looked for his reappearance, is proved by
   the missive in which Louis XI. called upon the Burgundian States to
   return to their allegiance to the Crown of France. "If," the
   passage runs, "Duke Charles should still be living, you shall be
   released from your oath to me." Comines, t. iii., Preuves des
   Memoires, 495, 497.]

The sole heiress of Charles the Bold, Maria, at once the richest
princess and the unhappy Helen of that time, whose wooing brought misery
on her inheritance, was now the centre of attraction to the whole known
world. Among her suitors appeared two great princes, King Louis XI. of
France, for his son, the young Dauphin, and Maximilian of Austria, son
of the Emperor Frederic III. The successful suitor was to become the
most powerful prince in Europe; and now, for the first time, this
quarter of the globe began to fear for its balance of power. Louis, the
more powerful of the two, was ready to back his suit by force of arms;
but the people of the Netherlands, who disposed of the hand of their
princess, passed by this dreaded neighbor, and decided in favor of
Maximilian, whose more remote territories and more limited power seemed
less to threaten the liberty of their country. A deceitful, unfortunate
policy, which, through a strange dispensation of heaven, only
accelerated the melancholy fate which it was intended to prevent.

To Philip the Fair, the son of Maria and Maximilian, a Spanish bride
brought as her portion that extensive kingmdom which Ferdinand and
Isabella had recently founded; and Charles of Austria, his son, was born
lord of the kingdoms of Spain, of the two Sicilies, of the New World,
and of the Netherlands. In the latter country the commonalty
emancipated themselves much earlier than in other; feudal states, and
quickly attained to an independent political existence. The favorable
situation of the country on the North Sea and on great navigable rivers
early awakened the spirit of commerce, which rapidly peopled the towns,
encouraged industry and the arts, attracted foreigners, and diffused
prosperity and affluence among them. However contemptuously the warlike
policy of those times looked down upon every peaceful and useful
occupation, the rulers of the country could not fail altogether to
perceive the essential advantages they derived from such pursuits. The
increasing population of their territories, the different imposts which
they extorted from natives and foreigners under the various titles of
tolls, customs, highway rates, escort money, bridge tolls, market fees,
escheats, and so forth, were too valuable considerations to allow them
to remain indifferent to the sources from which they were derived..
Their own rapacity made them promoters of trade, and, as often happens,
barbarism itself rudely nursed it, until at last a healthier policy
assumed its place. In the course of time they invited the Lombard
merchants to settle among them, and accorded to the towns some valuable
privileges and an independent jurisdiction, by which the latter acquired
uncommon extraordinary credit and influence. The numerous wars which
the counts and dukes carried on with one another, or with their
neighbors, made them in some measure dependent on the good-will of the
towns, who by their wealth obtained weight and consideration, and for
the subsidies which they afforded failed not to extort important
privileges in return. These privileges of the commonalties increased as
the crusades with their expensive equipment augumented the necessities
of the nobles; as a new road to Europe was opened for the productions of
the East, and as wide-spreading luxury created new wants to their
princes. Thus as early as the eleventh and twelfth centuries we find in
these lands a mixed form of governmeut, in which the prerogative of the
sovereign is greatly limited by the privileges of the estates; that is
to say, of the nobility, the clergy, and the municipalities.

These, under the name of States, assembled as often as the wants of the
province required it. Without their consent no new laws were valid, no
war could be carried on, and no taxes levied, no change made in the
coinage, and no foreigner admitted to any office of government. All the
provinces enjoyed these privileges in common; others were peculiar to
the various districts. The supreme government was hereditary, but the
son did not enter on the rights of his father before he had solemnly
sworn to maintain the existing constitution.

Necessity is the first lawgiver; all the wants which had to be met by
this constitution were originally of a commercial nature. Thus the
whole constitution was founded on commerce, and the laws of the nation
were adapted to its pursuits. The last clause, which excluded
foreigners from all offices of trust, was a natural consequence of the
preceding articles. So complicated and artificial a relation between
the sovereign and his people, which in many provinces was further
modified according to the peculiar wants of each, and frequently of some
single city, required for its maintenance the liveliest zeal for the
liberties of the country, combined with an intimate acquaintance with
them. From a foreigner neither could well be expected. This law,
besides, was enforced reciprocally in each particular province; so that
in Brabant no Fleming, in Zealand no Hollander, could hold office; and
it continued in force even after all these provinces were united under
one government.

Above all others, Brabant enjoyed the highest degree of freedom. Its
privileges were esteemed so valuable that many mothers from the adjacent
provinces removed thither about the time of their accouchment, in order
to entitle their children to participate, by birth, in all the
immunities of that favored country; just as, says Strada, one improves
the plants of a rude climate by removing them to the soil of a milder.

After the House of Burgundy had united several provinces under its
dominion, the separate provincial assemblies which, up to that time, had
been independent tribunals, were made subject to a supreme court at
Malines, which incorporated the various judicatures into one body, and
decided in the last resort all civil and criminal appeals. The separate
independence of the provinces was thus abolished, and the supreme power
vested in the senate at Malines.

After the death of Charles the Bold the states did not neglect to avail
themselves of the embarassment of their duchess, who, threatened by
France, was consequently in their power. Holland and Zealand compelled
her to sign a great charter, which secured to them the most important
sovereign rights. The people of Ghent carried their insolence to such a
pitch that they arbitrarily dragged the favorites of Maria, who had the
misfortune to displease them, before their own tribunals, and beheaded
them before the eyes of that princess. During the short government of
the Duchess Maria, from her father's death to her marriage, the commons
obtained powers which few free states enjoyed. After her death her
husband, Maximilian, illegally assumed the government as guardian of his
son. Offended by this invasion of their rights, the estates refused to
acknowledge his authority, and could only be brought to receive him as a
viceroy for a stated period, and under conditions ratified by oath.

Maximilian, after he became Roman Emperor, fancied that he might safely
venture to violate the constitution. He imposed extraordinary taxes on
the provinces, gave official appointments to Burgundians and Germans,
and introduced foreign troops into the provinces. But the jealousy of
these republicans kept pace with the power of their regent. As he
entered Bruges with a large retinue of foreigners, the people flew to
arms, made themselves masters of his person, and placed him in
confinement in the castle. In spite of the intercession of the Imperial
and Roman courts, he did not again obtain his freedom until security had
been given to the people on all the disputed points.

The security of life and property arising from mild laws, and, an equal
administration of justice, had encouraged activity and industry. In
continual contest with the ocean and rapid rivers, which poured their
violence on the neighboring lowlands, and whose force it was requisite
to break by embankments and canals, this people had early learned to
observe the natural objects around them; by industry and perseverance to
defy an element of superior power; and like the Egyptian, instructed by
his Nile, to exercise their inventive genius and acuteness in
self-defence. The natural fertility of their soil, which favored
agriculture and the breeding of cattle, tended at the same time to
increase the population. Their happy position on the sea and the great
navigable rivers of Germany and France, many of which debouched on their
coasts; the numerous artificial canals which intersected the land in all
directions, imparted life to navigation; and the facility of internal
communication between the provinces, soon created and fostered a
commercial spirit among these people.

The neighboring coasts, Denmark and Britain, were the first visited by
their vessels. The English wool which they brought back employed
thousands of industrious hands in Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp; and as
early as the middle of the twelfth century cloths of Flanders were
extensively worn in France and Germany. In the eleventh century we find
ships of Friesland in the Belt, and even in the Levant. This
enterprising people ventured, without a compass, to steer under the
North Pole round to the most northerly point of Russia. From the
Wendish towns the Netherlands received a share in the Levant trade,
which, at that time, still passed from the Black Sea through the Russian
territories to the Baltic. When, in the thirteenth century, this trade
began to decline, the Crusades having opened a new road through the
Mediterranean for Indian merchandise, and after the Italian towns had
usurped this lucrative branch of commerce, and the great Hanseatic
League had been formed in Germany, the Netherlands became the most
important emporium between the north and south. As yet the use of
the compass was not general, and the merchantmen sailed slowly and
laboriously along the coasts. The ports on the Baltic were, during the
winter months, for the most part frozen and inaccessible. Ships,
therefore, which could not well accomplish within the year the long
voyage from the Mediterranean to the Belt, gladly availed themselves of
harbors which lay half-way between the two.

With an immense continent behind them with which navigable streams kept
up their communication, and towards the west and north open to the ocean
by commodious harbors, this country appeared to be expressly formed for
a place of resort for different nations, and for a centre of commerce.
The principal towns of the Netherlands were established marts.
Portuguese, Spaniards, Italians, French, Britons, Germans, Danes, and
Swedes thronged to them with the produce of every country in the world.
Competition insured cheapness; industry was stimulated as it found a
ready market for its productions. With the necessary exchange of money
arose the commerce in bills, which opened a new and fruitful source of
wealth. The princes of the country, acquainted at last with their true
interest, encouraged the merchant by important immunities, and neglected
not to protect their commerce by advantageous treaties with foreign
powers. When, in the fifteenth century, several provinces were united
under one rule, they discontinued their private wars, which had proved
so injurious, and their separate interests were now more intimately
connected by a common government. Their commerce and affluence
prospered in the lap of a long peace, which the formidable power of
their princes extorted from the neighboring monarchs. The Burgundian
flag was feared in every sea, the dignity of their sovereign gave
support to their undertakings, and the enterprise of a private
individual became the affair of a powerful state. Such vigorous
protection soon placed them in a position even to renounce the Hanseatic
League, and to pursue this daring enemy through every sea. The
Hanseatic merchants, against whom the coasts of Spain were closed,
were compelled at last, however reluctantly, to visit the Flemish fairs,
and purchase their Spanish goods in the markets of the Netherlands.

Bruges, in Flanders, was, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the
central point of the whole commerce of Europe, and the great market of
all nations. In the year 1468 a hundred and fifty merchant vessels were
counted entering the harbor of Sluys it one time. Besides the rich
factories of the Hanseatic League, there were here fifteen trading
companies, with their countinghouses, and many factories and merchants'
families from every European country. Here was established the market
of all northern products for the south, and of all southern and
Levantine products for the north. These passed through the Sound, and
up the Rhine, in Hanseatic vessels to Upper Germany, or were transported
by landcarriage to Brunswick and Luneburg.

As in the common course of human affairs, so here also a licentious
luxury followed prosperity. The seductive example of Philip the Good
could not but accelerate its approach. The court of the Burgundian
dukes was the most voluptuous and magnificent in Europe, Italy itself
not excepted. The costly dress of the higher classes, which afterwards
served as patterns to the Spaniards, and eventually, with other
Burgundian customs, passed over to the court of Austria, soon descended
to the lower orders, and the meanest citizen nursed his person in velvet
and silk.

   [Philip the Good was too profuse a prince to amass treasures;
   nevertheless Charles the Bold found accumulated among his effects,
   a greater store of table services, jewels, carpets, and linen than
   three rich princedoms of that time together possessed, and over and
   above all a treasure of three hundred thousand dollars in ready
   money. The riches of this prince, and of the Burgundian people,
   lay exposed on the battle-fields of Granson, Murten and Nancy.
   Here a Swiss soldier drew from the finger of Charles the Bold, that
   celebrated diamond which was long esteemed the largest in Europe,
   which even now sparkles in the crown of France as the second in
   size, but which the unwitting finder sold for a florin. The Swiss
   exchanged the silver they found for tin, and the gold for copper,
   and tore into pieces the costly tents of cloth of gold. The value
   of the spoil of silver, gold, and jewels which was taken has been
   estimated at three millions. Charles and his army had advanced to
   the combat, not like foes who purpose battle, but like conquerors
   who adorn themselves after victory.]

Comines, an author who travelled through the Netherlands about the
middle of the fifteenth century, tells us that pride had already
attended their prosperity. The pomp and vanity of dress was carried by
both sexes to extravagance. The luxury of the table had never reached
so great a height among any other people. The immoral assemblage of
both sexes at bathing-places, and such other places of reunion for
pleasure and enjoyment, had banished all shame--and we are not here
speaking of the usual luxuriousness of the higher ranks; the females of
the common class abandoned themselves to such extravagances without
limit or measure.

But how much more cheering to the philanthropist is this extravagance
than the miserable frugality of want, and the barbarous virtues of
ignorance, which at that time oppressed nearly the whole of Europe!
The Burgundian era shines pleasingly forth from those dark ages, like
a lovely spring day amid the showers of February. But this flourishing
condition tempted the Flemish towns at last to their ruin; Ghent and
Bruges, giddy with liberty and success, declared war against Philip the
Good, the ruler of eleven provinces, which ended as unfortunately as it
was presumptuously commenced. Ghent alone lost many thousand men in an
engagement near Havre, and was compelled to appease the wrath of the
victor by a contribution of four hundred thousand gold florins. All the
municipal functionaries, and two thousand of the principal citizens,
went, stripped to their shirts, barefooted, and with heads uncovered, a
mile out of the town to meet the duke, and on their knees supplicated
for pardon. On this occasion they were deprived of several valuable
privileges, all irreparable loss for their future commerce. In the year
1482 they engaged in a war, with no better success, against Maximilian
of Austria, with a view to, deprive him of the guardianship of his son,
which, in contravention of his charter, he had unjustly assumed. In
1487 the town of Bruges placed the archduke himself in confinement, and
put some of his most eminent ministers to death. To avenge his son the
Emperor Frederic III. entered their territory with an army, and,
blockading for ten years the harbor of Sluys, put a stop to their entire
trade. On this occasion Amsterdam and Antwerp, whose jealousy had long
been roused by the flourishing condition of the Flemish towns, lent him
the most important assistance. The Italians began to bring their own
silk-stuffs to Antwerp for sale, and the Flemish cloth-workers likewise,
who had settled in England, sent their goods thither; and thus the town
of Bruges lost two important branches of trade. The Hanseatic League
had long been offended at their overweening pride; and it now left them
and removed its factory to Antwerp. In the year 1516 all the foreign
merchants left the town except only a few Spaniards; but its prosperity
faded as slowly as it had bloomed.

Antwerp received, in the sixteenth century, the trade which the
luxuriousness of the Flemish towns had banished; and under the
government of Charles V. Antwerp was the most stirring and splendid
city in the Christian world. A stream like the Scheldt, whose broad
mouth, in the immediate vicinity, shared with the North Sea the ebb and
flow of the tide, and could carry vessels of the largest tonnage under
the walls of Antwerp, made it the natural resort for all vessels which
visited that coast. Its free fairs attracted men of business from all
countries.

   [Two such fairs lasted forty days, and all the goods sold there
   were duty free.]

The industry of the nation had, in the beginning of this century,
reached its greatest height. The culture of grain, flax, the breeding
of cattle, the chase, and fisheries, enriched the peasant; arts,
manufactures, and trade gave wealth to the burghers. Flemish and
Brabantine manufactures were long to be seen in Arabia, Persia, and
India. Their ships covered the ocean, and in the Black Sea contended
with the Genoese for supremacy. It was the distinctive characteristic
of the seaman of the Netherlands that he made sail at all seasons of the
year, and never laid up for the winter.

When the new route by the Cape of Good Hope was discovered, and the East
India trade of Portugal undermined that of the Levant, the Netherlands
did not feel the blow which was inflicted on the Italian republics. The
Portuguese established their mart in Brabant, and the spices of Calicut
were displayed for sale in the markets of Antwerp. Hither poured the
West Indian merchandise, with which the indolent pride of Spain repaid
the industry of the Netherlands. The East Indian market attracted the
most celebrated commercial houses from Florence, Lucca, and Genoa; and
the Fuggers and Welsers from Augsburg. Here the Hanse towns brought the
wares of the north, and here the English company had a factory. Here
art and nature seemed to expose to view all their riches; it was a
splendid exhibition of the works of the Creator and of the creature.

Their renown soon diffused itself through the world. Even a company of
Turkish merchants, towards the end of this century, solicited permission
to settle here, and to supply the products of the East by way of Greece.
With the trade in goods they held also the exchange of money. Their
bills passed current in the farthest parts of the globe. Antwerp, it is
asserted, then transacted more extensive and more important business in
a single month than Venice, at its most flourishing period, in two whole
years.

In the year 1491 the Hanseatic League held its solemn meetings in this
town, which had formerly assembled in Lubeck alone. In 1531 the
exchange was erected, at that time the most splendid in all Europe, and
which fulfilled its proud inscription. The town now reckoned one
hundred thousand inhabitants. The tide of human beings, which
incessantly poured into it, exceeds all belief. Between two hundred and
two hundred and fifty ships were often seen loading at one time in its
harbor; no day passed on which the boats entering inwards and outwards
did not amount to more than five hundred; on market days the number
amounted to eight or nine hundred. Daily more than two hundred
carriages drove through its gates; above two thousand loaded wagons
arrived every week from Germany, France, and Lorraine, without reckoning
the farmers' carts and corn-vans, which were seldom less than ten
thousand in number. Thirty thousand hands were employed by the English
company alone. The market dues, tolls, and excise brought millions to
the government annually. We can form some idea of the resources of the
nation from the fact that the extraordinary taxes which they were
obliged to pay to Charles V. towards his numerous wars were computed at
forty millions of gold ducats.

For this affluence the Netherlands were as much indebted to their
liberty as to the natural advantages of their country. Uncertain laws
and the despotic sway of a rapacious prince would quickly have blighted
all the blessings which propitious nature had so abundantly lavished on
them. The inviolable sanctity of the laws can alone secure to the
citizen the fruits of his industry, and inspire him with that happy
confidence which is the soul of all activity.

The genius of this people, developed by the spirit of commerce, and by
the intercourse with so many nations, shone in useful inventions; in the
lap of abundance and liberty all the noble arts were carefully
cultivated and carried to perfection. From Italy, to which Cosmo de
Medici had lately restored its golden age, painting, architecture, and
the arts of carving and of engraving on copper, were transplanted into
the Netherlands, where, in a new soil, they flourished with fresh vigor.
The Flemish school, a daughter of the Italian, soon vied with its mother
for the prize; and, in common with it, gave laws to the whole of Europe
in the fine arts. The manufactures and arts, on which the Netherlanders
principally founded their prosperity, and still partly base it, require
no particular enumeration. The weaving of tapestry, oil painting, the
art of painting on glass, even pocketwatches and sun-dials were, as
Guicciardini asserts, originally invented in the Netherlands. To them
we are indebted for the improvement of the compass, the points of which
are still known by Flemish names. About the year 1430 the invention of
typography is ascribed to Laurence Koster, of Haarlem; and whether or
not he is entitled to this honorable distinction, certain it is that the
Dutch were among the first to engraft this useful art among them; and
fate ordained that a century later it should reward its country with
liberty. The people of the Netherlands united with the most fertile
genius for inventions a happy talent for improving the discoveries of
others; there are probably few mechanical arts and manufactures which
they did not either produce or at least carry to a higher degree of
perfection.

Up to this time these provinces had formed the most enviable state in
Europe. Not one of the Burgundian dukes had ventured to indulge a
thought of overturning the constitution; it had remained sacred even to
the daring spirit of Charles the Bold, while he was preparing fetters
for foreign liberty. All these princes grew up with no higher hope than
to be the heads of a republic, and none of their territories afforded
them experience of a higher authority. Besides, these princes possessed
nothing but what the Netherlands gave them; no armies but those which
the nation sent into the field; no riches but what the estates granted
to them. Now all was changed. The Netherlands had fallen to a master
who had at his command other instruments and other resources, who could
arm against them a foreign power.

   [The unnatural union of two such different nations as the Belgians
   and Spaniards could not possibly be prosperous. I cannot here
   refrain from quoting the comparison which Grotius, in energetic
   language, has drawn between the two. "With the neighboring
   nations," says he, "the people of the Netherlands could easily
   maintain a good understanding, for they were of a similar origin
   with themselves, and had grown up in the same manner. But the
   people of Spain and of the Netherlands differed in almost every
   respect from one another, and therefore, when they were brought
   together clashed the more violently. Both had for many centuries
   been distinguished in war, only the latter had, in luxurious
   repose, become disused to arms, while the former had been inured to
   war in the Italian and African campaigns; the desire of gain made
   the Belgians more inclined to peace, but not less sensitive of
   offence. No people were more free from the lust of conquest, but
   none defended its own more zealously. Hence the numerous towns,
   closely pressed together in a confined tract of country; densely
   crowded with a foreign and native population; fortified near the
   sea and the great rivers. Hence for eight centuries after the
   northern immigration foreign arms could not prevail against them.
   Spain, on the contrary, often changed its masters; and when at last
   it fell into the hands of the Goths, its character and its manners
   had suffered more or less from each new conqueror. The people thus
   formed at last out of these several admixtures is described as
   patient in labor, imperturbable in danger, equally eager for riches
   and honor, proud of itself even to contempt of others, devout and
   grateful to strangers for any act of kindness, but also revengeful,
   and of such ungovernable passions in victory as so regard neither
   conscience nor honor in the case of an enemy. All this is foreign
   to the character of the Belgian, who is astute but not insidious,
   who, placed midway between France and Germany, combines in
   moderation the faults and good qualities of both. He is not easily
   to be imposed upon, nor is he to be insulted with impunity. In
   veneration for the Deity, too, he does not yield to the Spaniard;
   the arms of the Northmen could not make him apostatize from
   Christianity when he had once professed it. No opinion which the
   church condemns had, up to this time, empoisoned the purity of his
   faith. Nay, his pious extravagance went so far that it became
   requisite to curb by laws the rapacity of his clergy. In both
   people loyalty to their rulers is equally innate, with this
   difference, that the Belgian places the law above kings. Of all
   the Spaniards the Castilians require to be, governed with the most
   caution; but the liberties which they arrogate for themselves they
   do not willingly accord to others. Hence the difficult task to
   their common ruler, so to distribute his attention, and care
   between the two nations that neither the preference shown to the
   Castilian should offend the Belgian, nor the equal treatment of the
   Belgian affront the haughty spirit of the Castilian."--Grotii
   Annal. Belg. L. 1. 4. 5. seq.]

Charles V. was an absolute monarch in his Spanish dominions; in the
Netherlands he was no more than the first citizen. In the southern
portion of his empire he might have learned contempt for the rights of
individuals; here he was taught to respect them. The more he there
tasted the pleasures of unlimited power, and the higher he raised his
opinion of his own greatness, the more reluctant he must have felt to
descend elsewhere to the ordinary level of humanity, and to tolerate any
check upon his arbitrary authority. It requires, indeed, no ordinary
degree of virtue to abstain from warring against the power which imposes
a curb on our most cherished wishes.

The superior power of Charles awakened at the same time in the
Netherlands that distrust which always accompanies inferiority. Never
were they so alive to their constitutional rights, never so jealous of
the royal prerogative, or more observant in their proceedings. Under,
his reign we see the most violent outbreaks of republican spirit, and
the pretensions of the people carried to an excess which nothing but the
increasing encroachments of the royal power could in the least justify.
A Sovereign will always regard the freedom of the citizen as an
alienated fief, which he is bound to recover. To the citizen the
authority of a sovereign is a torrent, which, by its inundation,
threatens to sweep away his rights. The Belgians sought to protect
themselves against the ocean by embankments, and against their princes
by constitutional enactments. The whole history of the world is a
perpetually recurring struggle between liberty and the lust of power and
possession; as the history of nature is nothing but the contest of the
elements and organic bodies for space. The Netherlands soon found to
their cost that they had become but a province of a great monarchy. So
long as their former masters had no higher aim than to promote their
prosperity, their condition resembled the tranquil happiness of a
secluded family, whose head is its ruler. Charles V. introduced them
upon the arena of the political world. They now formed a member of that
gigantic body which the ambition of an individual employed as his
instrument. They ceased to have their own good for their aim; the
centre of their existence was transported to the soul of their ruler.
As his whole government was but one tissue of plans and manoeuvres to
advance his power, so it was, above all things, necessary that he should
be completely master of the various limbs of his mighty empire in order
to move them effectually and suddenly. It was impossible, therefore,
for him to embarrass himself with the tiresome mechanism of their
interior political organization, or to extend to their peculiar
privileges the conscientious respect which their republican jealousy
demanded. It was expedient for him to facilitate the exercise of their
powers by concentration and unity. The tribunal at Malines had been
under his predecessor an independent court of judicature; he subjected
its decrees to the revision of a royal council, which he established in
Brussels, and which was the mere organ of his will. He introduced
foreigners into the most vital functions of their constitution, and
confided to them the most important offices. These men, whose only
support was the royal favor, would be but bad guardians of privileges
which, moreover, were little known to them. The ever-increasing
expenses of his warlike government compelled him as steadily to augment
his resources. In disregard of their most sacred privileges he imposed
new and strange taxes on the provinces. To preserve their olden
consideration the estates were forced to grant what he had been so
modest as not to extort; the whole history of the government of this
monarch in the Netherlands is almost one continued list of imposts
demanded, refused, and finally accorded. Contrary to the constitution,
he introduced foreign troops into their territories, directed the
recruiting of his armies in the provinces, and involved them in wars,
which could not advance even if they did not injure their interest, and
to which they had not given their consent. He punished the offences of
a free state as a monarch; and the terrible chastisement of Ghent
announced to the other provinces the great change which their
constitution had already undergone.

The welfare of the country was so far secured as was necessary to the
political schemes of its master; the intelligent policy of Charles would
certainly not violate the salutary regiment of the body whose energies
he found himself necessitated to exert. Fortunately, the opposite
pursuits of selfish ambition, and of disinterested philanthropy, often
bring about the same end; and the well-being of a state, which a Marcus
Aurelius might propose to himself as a rational object of pursuit, is
occasionally promoted by an Augustus or a Louis.

Charles V. was perfectly aware that commerce was the strength of the
nation, and that the foundation of their commerce was liberty. He
spared its liberty because he needed its strength. Of greater political
wisdom, though not more just than his son, he adapted his principles to
the exigencies of time and place, and recalled an ordinance in Antwerp
and in Madrid which he would under other circumstances have enforced
with all the terrors of his power. That which makes the reign of
Charles V. particularly remarkable in regard to the Netherlands is the
great religious revolution which occurred under it; and which, as the
principal cause of the subsequent rebellion, demands a somewhat
circumstantial notice. This it was that first brought arbitrary power
into the innermost sanctuary of the constitution; taught it to give a
dreadful specimen of its might; and, in a measure, legalized it, while
it placed republican spirit on a dangerous eminence. And as the latter
sank into anarchy and rebellion monarchical power rose to the height of
despotism.

Nothing is more natural than the transition from civil liberty to
religious freedom. Individuals, as well as communities, who, favored by
a happy political constitution, have become acquainted with the rights
of man, and accustomed to examine, if not also to create, the law which
is to govern them; whose minds have been enlightened by activity, and
feelings expanded by the enjoyments of life; whose natural courage has
been exalted by internal security and prosperity; such men will not
easily surrender themselves to the blind domination of a dull arbitrary
creed, and will be the first to emancipate themselves from its yoke.
Another circumstance, however, must have greatly tended to diffuse the
new religion in these countries. Italy, it might be objected, the seat
of the greatest intellectual culture, formerly the scene of the most
violent political factions, where a burning climate kindles the blood
with the wildest passions--Italy, among all the European countries,
remained the freest from this change. But to a romantic people, whom a
warm and lovely sky, a luxurious, ever young and ever smiling nature,
and the multifarious witcheries of art, rendered keenly susceptible of
sensuous enjoyment, that form of religion must naturally have been
better adapted, which by its splendid pomp captivates the senses, by its
mysterious enigmas opens an unbounded range to the fancy; and which,
through the most picturesque forms, labors to insinuate important
doctrines into the soul. On the contrary, to a people whom the ordinary
employments of civil life have drawn down to an unpoetical reality, who
live more in plain notions than in images, and who cultivate their
common sense at the expense of their imagination--to such a people that
creed will best recommend itself which dreads not investigation, which
lays less stress on mysticism than on morals, and which is rather to be
understood then to be dwelt upon in meditation. In few words, the Roman
Catholic religion will, on the whole, be found more adapted to a nation
of artists, the Protestant more fitted to a nation of merchants.

On this supposition the new doctrines which Luther diffused in Germany,
and Calvin in Switzerland, must have found a congenial soil in the
Netherlands. The first seeds of it were sown in the Netherlands by the
Protestant merchants, who assembled at Amsterdam and Antwerp. The
German and Swiss troops, which Charles introduced into these countries,
and the crowd of French, German, and English fugitives who, under the
protection of the liberties of Flanders, sought to escape the sword of
persecution which threatened them at home, promoted their diffusion. A
great portion of the Belgian nobility studied at that time at Geneva, as
the University of Louvain was not yet in repute, and that of Douai not
yet founded. The new tenets publicly taught there were transplanted by
the students to their various countries. In an isolated people these
first germs might easily have been crushed; but in the market-towns of
Holland and Brabant, the resort of so many different nations, their
first growth would escape the notice of government, and be accelerated
under the veil of obscurity. A difference in opinion might easily
spring up and gain ground amongst those who already were divided in
national character, in manners, customs, and laws. Moreover, in a
country where industry was the most lauded virtue, mendicity the most
abhorred vice, a slothful body of men, like that of the monks, must have
been an object of long and deep aversion. Hence, the new religion,
which opposed these orders, derived an immense advantage from having the
popular opinion on its side. Occasional pamphlets, full of bitterness
and satire, to which the newly-discovered art of printing secured a
rapid circulation, and several bands of strolling orators, called
Rederiker, who at that time made the circuit of the provinces,
ridiculing in theatrical representations or songs the abuses of their
times, contributed not a little to diminish respect for the Romish
Church, and to prepare the people for the reception of the new dogmas.

The first conquests of this doctrine were astonishingly rapid. The
number of those who in a short time avowed themselves its adherents,
especially in the northern provinces, was prodigious; but among these
the foreigners far outnumbered the natives. Charles V., who, in this
hostile array of religious tenets, had taken the side which a despot
could not fail to take, opposed to the increasing torrent of innovation
the most effectual remedies. Unhappily for the reformed religion
political justice was on the side of its persecutor. The dam which, for
so many centuries, had repelled human understanding from truth was too
suddenly torn away for the outbreaking torrent not to overflow its
appointed channel. The reviving spirit of liberty and of inquiry, which
ought to have remained within the limits of religious questions, began
also to examine into the rights of kings. While in the commencement
iron fetters were justly broken off, a desire was eventually shown to
rend asunder the most legitimate and most indispensable of ties. Even
the Holy Scriptures, which were now circulated everywhere, while they
imparted light and nurture to the sincere inquirer after truth, were the
source also whence an eccentric fanaticism contrived to extort the
virulent poison. The good cause had been compelled to choose the evil
road of rebellion, and the result was what in such cases it ever will be
so long as men remain men. The bad cause, too, which had nothing in
common with the good but the employment of illegal means, emboldened by
this slight point of connection, appeared in the same company, and was
mistaken for it. Luther had written against the invocation of saints;
every audacious varlet who broke into the churches and cloisters, and
plundered the altars, called himself Lutheran. Faction, rapine,
fanaticism, licentiousness robed themselves in his colors; the most
enormous offenders, when brought before the judges, avowed themselves
his followers. The Reformation had drawn down the Roman prelate to a
level with fallible humanity; an insane band, stimulated by hunger and
want, sought to annihilate all distinction of ranks. It was natural
that a doctrine, which to the state showed itself only in its most
unfavorable aspect, should not have been able to reconcile a monarch who
had already so many reasons to extirpate it; and it is no wonder,
therefore, that be employed against it the arms it had itself forced
upon him.

Charles must already have looked upon himself as absolute in the
Netherlands since he did not think it necessary to extend to these
countries the religious liberty which he had accorded to Germany.
While, compelled by the effectual resistance of the German princes, he
assured to the former country a free exercise of the new religion, in
the latter he published the most cruel edicts for its repression. By
these the reading of the Evangelists and Apostles; all open or secret
meetings to which religion gave its name in ever so slight a degree; all
conversations on the subject, at home or at the table, were forbidden
under severe penalties. In every province special courts of judicature
were established to watch over the execution of the edicts. Whoever
held these erroneous opinions was to forfeit his office without regard
to his rank. Whoever should be convicted of diffusing heretical
doctrines, or even of simply attending the secret meetings of the
Reformers, was to be condemned to death, and if a male, to be executed
by the sword, if a female, buried alive. Backsliding heretics were to
be committed to the flames. Not even the recantation of the offender
could annul these appalling sentences. Whoever abjured his errors
gained nothing by his apostacy but at farthest a milder kind of death.

The fiefs of the condemned were also confiscated, contrary to the
privileges of the nation, which permitted the heir to redeem them for a
trifling fine; and in defiance of an express and valuable privilege of
the citizens of Holland, by which they were not to be tried out of their
province, culprits were conveyed beyond the limits of the native
judicature, and condemned by foreign tribunals. Thus did religion guide
the hand of despotism to attack with its sacred weapon, and without
danger or opposition, the liberties which were inviolable to the secular
arm.

Charles V., emboldened by the fortunate progress of his arms in Germany,
thought that he might now venture on everything, and seriously meditated
the introduction of the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands. But the
terror of its very name alone reduced commerce in Antwerp to a
standstill. The principal foreign merchants prepared to quit the city.
All buying and selling ceased, the value of houses fell, the employment
of artisans stopped. Money disappeared from the hands of the citizen.
The ruin of that flourishing commercial city was inevitable had not
Charles V. listened to the representations of the Duchess of Parma, and
abandoned this perilous resolve. The tribunal, therefore, was ordered
not to interfere with the foreign merchants, and the title of Inquisitor
was changed unto the milder appellation of Spiritual Judge. But in the
other provinces that tribunal proceeded to rage with the inhuman
despotism which has ever been peculiar to it. It has been computed that
during the reign of Charles V. fifty thousand persons perished by the
hand of the executioner for religion alone.

When we glance at the violent proceedings of this monarch we are quite
at a loss to comprehend what it was that kept the rebellion within
bounds during his reign, which broke out with so much violence under his
successor. A closer investigation will clear up this seeming anomaly.
Charles's dreaded supremacy in Europe had raised the commerce of the
Netherlands to a height which it had never before attained. The majesty
of his name opened all harbors, cleared all seas for their vessels, and
obtained for them the most favorable commercial treaties with foreign
powers. Through him, in particular, they destroyed the dominion of the
Hanse towns in the Baltic. Through him, also, the New World, Spain,
Italy, Germany, which now shared with them a common ruler, were, in a
measure, to be considered as provinces of their own country, and opened
new channels for their commerce. He had, moreover, united the remaining
six provinces with the hereditary states of Burgundy, and thus given to
them an extent and political importance which placed them by the side of
the first kingdoms of Europe.

   [He had, too, at one time the intention of raising it to a kingdom;
   but the essential points of difference between the provinces, which
   extended from constitution and manners to measures and weights,
   soon made him abandon this design. More important was the service
   which he designed them in the Burgundian treaty, which settled its
   relation to the German empire. According to this treaty the
   seventeen provinces were to contribute to the common wants of the
   German empire twice as much as an electoral prince; in case of a
   Turkish war three times as much; in return for which, however, they
   were to enjoy the powerful protection of this empire, and not to be
   injured in any of their various privileges. The revolution, which
   under Charles' son altered the political constitution of the
   provinces, again annulled this compact, which, on account of the
   trifling advantage that it conferred, deserves no further notice.]

By all this he flattered the national pride of this people. Moreover,
by the incorporation of Gueldres, Utrecht, Friesland, and Groningen with
these provinces, he put an end to the private wars which had so long
disturbed their commerce; an unbroken internal peace now allowed them to
enjoy the full fruits of their industry. Charles was therefore a
benefactor of this people. At the same time, the splendor of his
victories dazzled their eyes; the glory of their sovereign, which was
reflected upon them also, had bribed their republican vigilance; while
the awe-inspiring halo of invincibility which encircled the conqueror of
Germany, France, Italy, and Africa terrified the factious. And then,
who knows not on how much may venture the man, be he a private
individual or a prince, who has succeeded in enchaining the admiration
of his fellow-creatures! His repeated personal visits to these lands,
which he, according to his own confession, visited as often as ten
different times, kept the disaffected within bounds; the constant
exercise of severe and prompt justice maintained the awe of the royal
power. Finally, Charles was born in the Netherlands, and loved the
nation in whose lap he had grown up. Their manners pleased him, the
simplicity of their character and social intercourse formed for him a
pleasing recreation from the severe Spanish gravity. He spoke their
language, and followed their customs in his private life. The
burdensome ceremonies which form the unnatural barriers between king and
people were banished from Brussels. No jealous foreigner debarred
natives from access to their prince; their way to him was through their
own countrymen, to whom he entrusted his person. He spoke much and
courteously with them; his deportment was engaging, his discourse
obliging. These simple artifices won for him their love, and while
his armies trod down their cornfields, while his rapacious imposts
diminished their property, while his governors oppressed, his
executioners slaughtered, he secured their hearts by a friendly
demeanor.

Gladly would Charles have seen this affection of the nation for himself
descend upon his son. On this account he sent for him in his youth from
Spain, and showed him in Brussels to his future subjects. On the solemn
day of his abdication he recommended to him these lands as the richest
jewel in his crown, and earnestly exhorted him to respect their laws and
privileges.

Philip II. was in all the direct opposite of his father. As ambitious
as Charles, but with less knowledge of men and of the rights of man, he
had formed to himself a notion of royal authority which regarded men as
simply the servile instruments of despotic will, and was outraged by
every symptom of liberty. Born in Spain, and educated under the iron
discipline of the monks, he demanded of others the same gloomy formality
and reserve as marked his own character. The cheerful merriment of his
Flemish subjects was as uncongenial to his disposition and temper as
their privileges were offensive to his imperious will. He spoke no
other language but the Spanish, endured none but Spaniards about his
person, and obstinately adhered to all their customs. In vain did the
loyal ingenuity of the Flemish towns through which he passed vie with
each other in solemnizing his arrival with costly festivities.

   [The town of Antwerp alone expended on an occasion of this kind two
   hundred and sixty thousand gold florins.]

Philip's eye remained dark; all the profusion of magnificence, all the
loud and hearty effusions of the sincerest joy could not win from him
one approving smile.

Charles entirely missed his aim by presenting his son to the Flemings.
They might eventually have endured his yoke with less impatience if he
had never set his foot in their land. But his look forewarned them what
they had to expect; his entry into Brussels lost him all hearts. The
Emperor's gracious affability with his people only served to throw a
darker shade on the haughty gravity of his son. They read in his
countenance the destructive purpose against their liberties which, even
then, he already revolved in his breast. Forewarned to find in him a
tyrant they were forearmed to resist him.

The throne of the Netherlands was the first which Charles V. abdicated.
Before a solemn convention in Brussels he absolved the States-General of
their oath, and transferred their allegiance to King Philip, his son.
"If my death," addressing the latter, as he concluded, "had placed you
in possession of these countries, even in that case so valuable a
bequest would have given me great claims on your gratitude. But now
that of my free will I transfer them to you, now that I die in order to
hasten your enjoyment of them, I only require of you to pay to the
people the increased obligation which the voluntary surrender of my
dignity lays upon you. Other princes esteem it a peculiar felicity to
bequeath to their children the crown which death is already ravishing
from then. This happiness I am anxious to enjoy during my life. I wish
to be a spectator of your reign. Few will follow my example, as few
have preceded me in it. But this my deed will be praised if your future
life should justify my expectations, if you continue to be guided by
that wisdom which you have hitherto evinced, if you remain inviolably
attached to the pure faith which is the main pillar of your throne. One
thing more I have to add: may Heaven grant you also a son, to whom you
may transmit your power by choice, and not by necessity."

After the Emperor had concluded his address Philip kneeled down before
him, kissed his hand, and received his paternal blessing. His eyes for
the last time were moistened with a tear. All present wept. It was an
hour never to be forgotten.

This affecting farce was soon followed by another. Philip received the
homage of the assembled states. He took the oath administered in the
following words: "I, Philip, by the grace of God, Prince of Spain, of
the two Sicilies, etc., do vow and swear that I will be a good and just
lord in these countries, counties, and duchies, etc.; that I will well
and truly hold, and cause to be held, the privileges and liberties of
all the nobles, towns, commons, and subjects which have been conferred
upon them by my predecessors, and also the customs, usages and rights
which they now have and enjoy, jointly and severally, and, moreover,
that I will do all that by law and right pertains to a good and just
prince and lord, so help me God and all His Saints."

The alarm which the arbitrary government of the Emperor had inspired,
and the distrust of his son, are already visible in the formula of this
oath, which was drawn up in far more guarded and explicit terms than
that which had been administered to Charles V. himself and all the Dukes
in Burgundy. Philip, for instance, was compelled to swear to the
maintenance of their customs and usages, what before his time had never
been required. In the oath which the states took to him no other
obedience was promised than such as should be consistent with the
privileges of the country. His officers then were only to reckon on
submission and support so long as they legally discharged the duties
entrusted to them. Lastly, in this oath of allegiance, Philip is simply
styled the natural, the hereditary prince, and not, as the Emperor had
desired, sovereign or lord; proof enough how little confidence was
placed in the justice and liberality of the new sovereign.



         PHILIP II., RULER OF THE NETHERLANDS.

Philip II. received the lordship of the Netherlands in the brightest
period of their prosperity. He was the first of their princes who
united them all under his authority. They now consisted of seventeen
provinces; the duchies of Brabant, Limburg, Luxembourg, and Gueldres,
the seven counties of Artois, Hainault, Flanders, Namur, Zutphen,
Holland, and Zealand, the margravate of Antwerp, and the five lordships
of Friesland, Mechlin (Malines), Utrecht, Overyssel, and Groningen,
which, collectively, formed a great and powerful state able to contend
with monarchies. Higher than it then stood their commerce could not
rise. The sources of their wealth were above the earth's surface, but
they were more valuable and inexhaustible and richer than all the mines
in America. These seventeen provinces which, taken together, scarcely
comprised the fifth part of Italy, and do not extend beyond three
hundred Flemish miles, yielded an annual revenue to their lord, not much
inferior to that which Britain formerly paid to its kings before the
latter had annexed so many of the ecclesiastical domains to their crown.
Three hundred and fifty cities, alive with industry and pleasure, many
of them fortified by their natural position and secure without bulwarks
or walls; six thousand three hundred market towns of a larger size;
smaller villages, farms, and castles innumerable, imparted to this
territory the aspect of one unbroken flourishing landscape. The nation
had now reached the meridian of its splendor; industry and abundance had
exalted the genius of the citizen, enlightened his ideas, ennobled his
affections; every flower of the intellect had opened with the
flourishing condition of the country. A happy temperament under a
severe climate cooled the ardor of their blood, and moderated the rage
of their passions; equanimity, moderation, and enduring patience, the
gifts of a northern clime; integrity, justice, and faith, the necessary
virtues of their profession; and the delightful fruits of liberty,
truth, benevolence, and a patriotic pride were blended in their
character, with a slight admixture of human frailties. No people on
earth was more easily governed by a prudent prince, and none with more
difficulty by a charlatan or a tyrant. Nowhere was the popular voice so
infallible a test of good government as here. True statesmanship could
be tried in no nobler school, and a sickly artificial policy had none
worse to fear.

A state constituted like this could act and endure with gigantic energy
whenever pressing emergencies called forth its powers and a skilful and
provident administration elicited its resources. Charles V. bequeathed
to his successor an authority in these provinces little inferior to that
of a limited monarchy. The prerogative of the crown had gained a
visible ascendancy over the republican spirit, and that complicated
machine could now be set in motion, almost as certainly and rapidly as
the most absolutely governed nation. The numerous nobility, formerly so
powerful, cheerfully accompanied their sovereign in his wars, or, on the
civil changes of the state, courted the approving smile of royality.
The crafty policy of the crown had created a new and imaginary good, of
which it was the exclusive dispenser. New passions and new ideas of
happiness supplanted at last the rude simplicity of republican virtue.
Pride gave place to vanity, true liberty to titles of Honor, a needy
independence to a luxurious servitude. To oppress or to plunder their
native land as the absolute satraps of an absolute lord was a more
powerful allurement for the avarice and ambition of the great, than in
the general assembly of the state to share with the monarch a hundredth
part of the supreme power. A large portion, moreover, of the nobility
were deeply sunk in poverty and debt. Charles V. had crippled all the
most dangerous vassals of the crown by expensive embassies to foreign
courts, under the specious pretext of honorary distinctions. Thus,
William of Orange was despatched to Germany with the imperial crown, and
Count Egmont to conclude the marriage contract between Philip and Queen
Mary. Both also afterwards accompanied the Duke of Alva to France to
negotiate the peace between the two crowns, and the new alliance of
their sovereign with Madame Elizabeth. The expenses of these journeys
amounted to three hundred thousand florins, towards which the king did
not contribute a single penny. When the Prince of Orange was appointed
generalissimo in the place of the Duke of Savoy he was obliged to defray
all the necessary expenses of his office. When foreign ambassadors or
princes came to Brussels it was made incumbent on the nobles to maintain
the honor of their king, who himself always dined alone, and never kept
open table. Spanish policy had devised a still more ingenious
contrivance gradually to impoverish the richest families of the land.
Every year one of the Castilian nobles made his appearance in Brussels,
where he displayed a lavish magnificence. In Brussels it was accounted
an indelible disgrace to be distanced by a stranger in such munificence.
All vied to surpass him, and exhausted their fortunes in this costly
emulation, while the Spaniard made a timely retreat to his native
country, and by the frugality of four years repaired the extravagance of
one year. It was the foible of the Netherlandish nobility to contest
with every stranger the credit of superior wealth, and of this weakness
the government studiously availed itself. Certainly these arts did not
in the sequel produce the exact result that had been calculated on; for
these pecuniary burdens only made the nobility the more disposed for
innovation, since he who has lost all can only be a gainer in the
general ruin.

The Roman Church had ever been a main support of the royal power, and it
was only natural that it should be so. Its golden time was the bondage
of the human intellect, and, like royalty, it had gained by the
ignorance and weakness of men. Civil oppression made religion more
necessary and more dear; submission to tyrannical power prepares the
mind for a blind, convenient faith, and the hierarchy repaid with usury
the services of despotism. In the provinces the bishops and prelates
were zealous supporters of royalty, and ever ready to sacrifice the
welfare of the citizen to the temporal advancement of the church and the
political interests of the sovereign.

Numerous and brave garrisons also held the cities in awe, which were
at the same time divided by religious squabbles and factions, and
consequently deprived of their strongest support--union among
themselves. How little, therefore, did it require to insure this
preponderance of Philip's power, and how fatal must have been the folly
by which it was lost.

But Philip's authority in these provinces, however great, did not
surpass the influence which the Spanish monarchy at that time enjoyed
throughout Europe. No state ventured to enter the arena of contest with
it. France, its most dangerous neighbor, weakened by a destructive war,
and still more by internal factions, which boldly raised their heads
during the feeble government of a child, was advancing rapidly to that
unhappy condition which, for nearly half a century, made it a theatre of
the most enormous crimes and the most fearful calamities. In England
Elizabeth could with difficulty protect her still tottering throne
against the furious storms of faction, and her new church establishment
against the insidious arts of the Romanists. That country still awaited
her mighty call before it could emerge from a humble obscurity, and had
not yet been awakened by the faulty policy of her rival to that vigor
and energy with which it finally overthrew him. The imperial family of
Germany was united with that of Spain by the double ties of blood and
political interest; and the victorious progress of Soliman drew its
attention more to the east than to the west of Europe. Gratitude and
fear secured to Philip the Italian princes, and his creatures ruled the
Conclave. The monarchies of the North still lay in barbarous darkness
and obscurity, or only just began to acquire form and strength, and were
as yet unrecognized in the political system of Europe. The most skilful
generals, numerous armies accustomed to victory, a formidable marine,
and the golden tribute from the West Indies, which now first began to
come in regularly and certainly--what terrible instruments were these in
the firm and steady hand of a talented prince Under such auspicious
stars did King Philip commence his reign.

Before we see him act we must first look hastily into the deep recesses
of his soul, and we shall there find a key to his political life. Joy
and benevolence were wholly wanting in the composition of his character.
His temperament, and the gloomy years of his early childhood, denied him
the former; the latter could not be imparted to him by men who had
renounced the sweetest and most powerful of the social ties. Two ideas,
his own self and what was above that self, engrossed his narrow and
contracted mind. Egotism and religion were the contents and the
title-page of the history of his whole life. He was a king and a
Christian, and was bad in both characters; he never was a man among men,
because he never condescended but only ascended. His belief was dark and
cruel; for his divinity was a being of terror, from whom he had nothing
to hope but everything to fear. To the ordinary man the divinity appears
as a comforter, as a Saviour; before his mind it was set up as an image
of fear, a painful, humiliating check to his human omnipotence. His
veneration for this being was so much the more profound and deeply rooted
the less it extended to other objects. He trembled servilely before God
because God was the only being before whom he had to tremble. Charles V.
was zealous for religion because religion promoted his objects. Philip
was so because he had real faith in it. The former let loose the fire and
the sword upon thousands for the sake of a dogma, while he himself, in
the person of the pope, his captive, derided the very doctrine for which
he had sacrificed so much human blood. It was only with repugnance and
scruples of conscience that Philip resolved on the most just war against
the pope, and resigned all the fruits of his victory as a penitent
malefactor surrenders his booty. The Emperor was cruel from calculation,
his son from impulse. The first possessed a strong and enlightened
spirit, and was, perhaps, so much the worse as a man; the second was
narrow-minded and weak, but the more upright.

Both, however, as it appears to me, might have been better men than they
actually were, and still, on the whole, have acted on the very same
principles. What we lay to the charge of personal character of an
individual is very often the infirmity, the necessary imperfection of
universal human nature. A monarchy so great and so powerful was too
great a trial for human pride, and too mighty a charge for human power.
To combine universal happiness with the highest liberty of the
individual is the sole prerogative of infinite intelligence, which
diffuses itself omnipresently over all. But what resource has man
when placed in the position of omnipotence? Man can only aid his
circumscribed powers by classification; like the naturalist, he
establishes certain marks and rules by which to facilitate his own
feeble survey of the whole, to which all individualities must conform.
All this is accomplished for him by religion. She finds hope and fear
planted in every human breast; by making herself mistress of these
emotions, and directing their affections to a single object, she
virtually transforms millions of independent beings into one uniform
abstract. The endless diversity of the human will no longer embarrasses
its ruler--now there exists one universal good, one universal evil,
which he can bring forward or withdraw at pleasure, and which works in
unison with himself even when absent. Now a boundary is established
before which liberty must halt; a venerable, hallowed line, towards
which all the various conflicting inclinations of the will must finally
converge. The common aim of despotism and of priestcraft is uniformity,
and uniformity is a necessary expedient of human poverty and
imperfection. Philip became a greater despot than his father because
his mind was more contracted, or, in other words, he was forced to
adhere the more scrupulously to general rules the less capable he was of
descending to special and individual exceptions. What conclusion could
we draw from these principles but that Philip II. could not possibly
have any higher object of his solicitude than uniformity, both in
religion and in laws, because without these he could not reign?

And yet he would have shown more mildness and forbearance in his
government if he had entered upon it earlier. In the judgment which is
usually formed of this prince one circumstance does not appear to be
sufficiently considered in the history of his mind and heart, which,
however, in all fairness, ought to be duly weighed. Philip counted
nearly thirty years when he ascended the Spanish throne, and the early
maturity of his understanding had anticipated the period of his
majority. A mind like his, conscious of its powers, and only too early
acquainted with his high expectations, could not brook the yoke of
childish subjection in which he stood; the superior genius of the
father, and the absolute authority of the autocrat, must have weighed
heavily on the self-satisfied pride of such a son. The share which the
former allowed him in the government of the empire was just important
enough to disengage his mind from petty passions and to confirm the
austere gravity of his character, but also meagre enough to kindle a
fiercer longing for unlimited power. When he actually became possessed
of uncontrolled authority it had lost the charm of novelty. The sweet
intoxication of a young monarch in the sudden and early possession of
supreme power; that joyous tumult of emotions which opens the soul to
every softer sentiment, and to which humanity has owed so many of the
most valuable and the most prized of its institutions; this pleasing
moment had for him long passed by, or had never existed. His character
was already hardened when fortune put him to this severe test, and his
settled principles withstood the collision of occasional emotion. He had
had time, during fifteen years, to prepare himself for the change; and
instead of youthful dallying with the external symbols of his new
station, or of losing the morning of his government in the intoxication
of an idle vanity, he remained composed and serious enough to enter at
once on the full possession of his power so as to revenge himself
through the most extensive employment of it for its having been so long
withheld from him.



           THE TRIBUNAL OF THE INQUISITION

Philip II. no sooner saw himself, through the peace of Chateau-Cambray,
in undisturbed enjoyment of his immense territory than he turned his
whole attention to the great work of purifying religion, and verified
the fears of his Netherlandish subjects. The ordinances which his
father had caused to be promulgated against heretics were renewed in all
their rigor, and terrible tribunals, to whom nothing but the name of
inquisition was wanting, were appointed to watch over their execution.
But his plan appeared to him scarcely more than half-fulfilled so long
as he could not transplant into these countries the Spanish Inquisition
in its perfect form--a design in which the Emperor had already suffered
shipwreck.

The Spanish Inquisition is an institution of a new and peculiar kind,
which finds no prototype in the whole course of time, and admits of
comparison with no ecclesiastical or civil tribunal. Inquisition had
existed from the time when reason meddled with what is holy, and from
the very commencement of scepticism and innovation; but it was in the
middle of the thirteenth century, after some examples of apostasy had
alarmed the hierarchy, that Innocent III. first erected for it a
peculiar tribunal, and separated, in an unnatural manner, ecclesiastical
superintendence and instruction from its judicial and retributive
office. In order to be the more sure that no human sensibilities or
natural tenderness should thwart the stern severity of its statutes, he
took it out of the hands of the bishops and secular clergy, who, by the
ties of civil life, were still too much attached to humanity for his
purpose, and consigned it to those of the monks, a half-denaturalized
race of beings who had abjured the sacred feelings, of nature, and were
the servile tools of the Roman See. The Inquisition was received in
Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France; a Franciscan monk sat as
judge in the terrible court, which passed sentence on the Templars. A
few states succeeded either in totally excluding or else in subjecting
it to civil authority. The Netherlands had remained free from it until
the government of Charles V.; their bishops exercised the spiritual
censorship, and in extraordinary cases reference was made to foreign
courts of inquisition; by the French provinces to that of Paris, by the
Germans to that of Cologne.

But the Inquisition which we are here speaking of came from the west of
Europe, and was of a different origin and form. The last Moorish throne
in Granada had fallen in the fifteenth century, and the false faith of
the Saracens had finally succumbed before the fortunes of Christianity.
But the gospel was still new, and but imperfectly established in this
youngest of Christian kingdoms, and in the confused mixture of
heterogeneous laws and manners the religions had become mixed. It is
true the sword of persecution had driven many thousand families to
Africa, but a far larger portion, detained by the love of climate and
home, purchased remission from this dreadful necessity by a show of
conversion, and continued at Christian altars to serve Mohammed and
Moses. So long as prayers were offered towards Mecca, Granada was not
subdued; so long as the new Christian, in the retirement of his house,
became again a Jew or a Moslem, he was as little secured to the throne
as to the Romish See. It was no longer deemed sufficient to compel a
perverse people to adopt the exterior forms of a new faith, or to wed it
to the victorious church by the weak bands of ceremonials; the object
now was to extirpate the roots of an old religion, and to subdue an
obstinate bias which, by the slow operation of centuries, had been
implanted in their manners, their language, and their laws, and by the
enduring influence of a paternal soil and sky was still maintained in
its full extent and vigor.

If the church wished to triumph completely over the opposing worship,
and to secure her new conquest beyond all chance of relapse, it was
indispensable that she should undermine the foundation itself on which
the old religion was built. It was necessary to break to pieces the
entire form of moral character to which it was so closely and intimately
attached. It was requisite to loosen its secret roots from the hold
they had taken in. the innermost depths of the soul; to extinguish all
traces of it, both in domestic life and in the civil world; to cause all
recollection of it to perish; and, if possible, to destroy the very
susceptibility for its impressions. Country and family, conscience and
honor, the sacred feelings of society and of nature, are ever the first
and immediate ties to which religion attaches itself; from these it
derives while it imparts strength. This connection was now to be
dissolved; the old religion was violently to be dissevered from the holy
feelings of nature, even at the expense of the sanctity itself of these
emotions. Thus arose that Inquisition which, to distinguish it from the
more humane tribunals of the same name, we usually call the Spanish.
Its founder was Cardinal Ximenes, a Dominican monk. Torquemada was the
first who ascended its bloody throne, who established its statutes, and
forever cursed his order with this bequest. Sworn to the degradation of
the understanding and the murder of intellect, the instruments it
employed were terror and infamy. Every evil passion was in its pay; its
snare was set in every joy of life. Solitude itself was not safe from
it; the fear of its omnipresence fettered the freedom of the soul in its
inmost and deepest recesses. It prostrated all the instincts of human
nature before it yielded all the ties which otherwise man held most
sacred. A heretic forfeited all claims upon his race; the most trivial
infidelity to his mother church divested him of the rights of his
nature. A modest doubt in the infallibility of the pope met with the
punishment of parricide and the infamy of sodomy; its sentences
resembled the frightful corruption of the plague, which turns the most
healthy body into rapid putrefaction. Even the inanimate things
belonging to a heretic were accursed. No destiny could snatch the
victim of the Inquisition from its sentence. Its decrees were carried
in force on corpses and on pictures, and the grave itself was no asylum
from its tremendous arm. The presumptuous arrogance of its decrees
could only be surpassed by the inhumanity which executed them. By
coupling the ludicrous with the terrible, and by amusing the eye with
the strangeness of its processions, it weakened compassion by the
gratification of another feeling; it drowned sympathy in derision and
contempt. The delinquent was conducted with solemn pomp to the place of
execution, a blood-red flag was displayed before him, the universal
clang of all the bells accompanied the procession. First came the
priests, in the robes of the Mass and singing a sacred hymn; next
followed the condemned sinner, clothed in a yellow vest, covered with
figures of black devils. On his head he wore a paper cap, surmounted by
a human figure, around which played lambent flames of fire, and ghastly
demons flitted. The image of the crucified Saviour was carried before,
but turned away from the eternally condemned sinner, for whom salvation
was no longer available. His mortal body belonged to the material fire,
his immortal soul to the flames of bell. A gag closed his mouth, and
prevented him from alleviating his pain by lamentations, from awakening
compassion by his affecting tale, and from divulging the secrets of the
holy tribunal. He was followed by the clergy in festive robes, by the
magistrates, and the nobility; the fathers who had been his judges
closed the awful procession. It seemed like a solemn funeral
procession, but on looking for the corpse on its way to the grave,
behold! it was a living body whose groans are now to afford such
shuddering entertainment to the people. The executions were generally
held on the high festivals, for which a number of such unfortunate
sufferers were reserved in the prisons of the holy house, in order to
enhance the rejoicing by the multitude of the victims, and on these
occasions the king himself was usually present. He sat with uncovered
head, on a lower chair than that of the Grand Inquisitor, to whom, on
such occasions, he yielded precedence; who, then, would not tremble
before a tribunal at which majesty must humble itself?

The great revolution in the church accomplished by Luther and Calvin
renewed the causes to which this tribunal owed its first origin; and
that which, at its commencement, was invented to clear the petty kingdom
of Granada from the feeble remnant of Saracens and Jews was now required
for the whole of Christendom. All the Inquisitions in Portugal, Italy,
Germany, and France adopted the form of the Spanish; it followed
Europeans to the Indies, and established in Goa a fearful tribunal,
whose inhuman proceedings make us shudder even at the bare recital.
Wherever it planted its foot devastation followed; but in no part of the
world did it rage so violently as in Spain. The victims are forgotten
whom it immolated; the human race renews itself, and the lands, too,
flourish again which it has devastated and depopulated by its fury; but
centuries will elapse before its traces disappear from the Spanish
character. A generous and enlightened nation has been stopped by it on
its road to perfection; it has banished genius from a region where it
was indigenous, and a stillness like that which hangs over the grave has
been left in the mind of a people who, beyond most others of our world,
were framed for happiness and enjoyment.

The first Inquisitor in Brabant was appointed by Charles V. in the year
1522. Some priests were associated with him as coadjutors; but he
himself was a layman. After the death of Adrian VI., his successor,
Clement VII., appointed three Inquisitors for all the Netherlands; and
Paul III. again reduced them to two, which number continued until the
commencement of the troubles. In the year 1530, with the aid and
approbation of the states, the edicts against heretics were promulgated,
which formed the foundation of all that followed, and in which, also,
express mention is made of the Inquisition. In the year 1550, in
consequence of the rapid increase of sects, Charles V. was under the
necessity of reviving and enforcing these edicts, and it was on this
occasion that the town of Antwerp opposed the establishment of the
Inquisition, and obtained an exemption from its jurisdiction. But the
spirit of the Inquisition in the Netherlands, in accordance with the
genius of the country, was more humane than in Spain, and as yet had
never been administered by a foreigner, much less by a Dominican. The
edicts which were known to everybody served it as the rule of its
decisions. On this very account it was less obnoxious; because, however
severe its sentence, it did not appear a tool of arbitrary power, and it
did not, like the Spanish Inquisition, veil itself in secrecy.

Philip, however, was desirous of introducing the latter tribunal into
the Netherlands, since it appeared to him the instrument best adapted to
destroy the spirit of this people, and to prepare them for a despotic
government. He began, therefore, by increasing the rigor of the
religious ordinances of his father; by gradually extending the power of
the inquisitors; by making the proceedings more arbitrary, and more
independent of the civil jurisdiction. The tribunal soon wanted little
more than the name and the Dominicans to resemble in every point the
Spanish Inquisition. Bare suspicion was enough to snatch a citizen from
the bosom of public tranquillity, and from his domestic circle; and the
weakest evidence was a sufficient justification for the use of the rack.
Whoever fell into its abyss returned no more to the world. All the
benefits of the laws ceased for him; the maternal care of justice no
longer noticed him; beyond the pale of his former world malice and
stupidity judged him according to laws which were never intended for
man. The delinquent never knew his accuser, and very seldom his crime,
--a flagitious, devilish artifice which constrained the unhappy victim
to guess at his error, and in the delirium of the rack, or in the
weariness of a long living interment, to acknowledge transgressions
which, perhaps, had never been committed, or at least had never come
to the knowledge of his judges. The goods of the condemned were
confiscated, and the informer encouraged by letters of grace and
rewards. No privilege, no civil jurisdiction was valid against the holy
power; the secular arm lost forever all whom that power had once
touched. Its only share in the judicial duties of the latter was to
execute its sentences with humble submissiveness. The consequences of
such an institution were, of necessity, unnatural and horrible; the
whole temporal happiness, the life itself, of an innocent man was at
the mercy of any worthless fellow. Every secret enemy, every envious
person, had now the perilous temptation of an unseen and unfailing
revenge. The security of property, the sincerity of intercourse were
gone; all the ties of interest were dissolved; all of blood and of
affection were irreparably broken. An infectious distrust envenomed
social life; the dreaded presence of a spy terrified the eye from
seeing, and choked the voice in the midst of utterance. No one believed
in the existence of an honest man, or passed for one himself. Good
name, the ties of country, brotherhood, even oaths, and all that man
holds sacred, were fallen in estimation. Such was the destiny to which
a great and flourishing commercial town was subjected, where one hundred
thousand industrious men had been brought together by the single tie of
mutual confidence,--every one indispensable to his neighbor, yet every
one distrusted and distrustful,--all attracted by the spirit of gain,
and repelled from each other by fear,--all the props of society torn
away, where social union was the basis of all life and all existence.



    OTHER ENCROACHMENTS ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE NETHERLANDS.

No wonder if so unnatural a tribunal, which had proved intolerable even
to the more submissive spirit of the Spaniard, drove a free state to
rebellion. But the terror which it inspired was increased by the
Spanish troops, which, even after the restoration of peace, were kept in
the country, and, in violation of the constitution, garrisoned border
towns. Charles V. had been forgiven for this introduction of foreign
troops so long as the necessity of it was evident, and his good
intentions were less distrusted. But now men saw in these troops only
the alarming preparations of oppression and the instruments of a
detested hierarchy. Moreover, a considerable body of cavalry, composed
of natives, and fully adequate for the protection of the country, made
these foreigners superfluous. The licentiousness and rapacity, too,
of the Spaniards, whose pay was long in arrear, and who indemnified
themselves at the expense of the citizens, completed the exasperation of
the people, and drove the lower orders to despair. Subsequently, when
the general murmur induced the government to move them from the
frontiers and transport them into the islands of Zealand, where ships
were prepared for their deportation, their excesses were carried to such
a pitch that the inhabitants left off working at the embankments, and
preferred to abandon their native country to the fury of the sea rather
than to submit any longer to the wanton brutality of these lawless
bands.

Philip, indeed, would have wished to retain these Spaniards in the
country, in order by their presence to give weight to his edicts,
and to support the innovations which he had resolved to make in the
constitution of the Netherlands. He regarded them as a guarantee for
the submission of the nation and as a chain by which he held it captive.
Accordingly, he left no expedient untried to evade the persevering
importunity of the states, who demanded the withdrawal of these troops;
and for this end he exhausted all the resources of chicanery and
persuasion. At one time he pretended to dread a sudden invasion by
France, although, torn by furious factions, that country could scarce
support itself against a domestic enemy; at another time they were, he
said, to receive his son, Don Carlos, on the frontiers; whom, however,
he never intended should leave Castile. Their maintenance should not be
a burden to the nation; he himself would disburse all their expenses
from his private purse. In order to detain them with the more
appearance of reason he purposely kept back from them their arrears of
pay; for otherwise he would assuredly have preferred them to the troops
of the country, whose demands he fully satisfied. To lull the fears of
the nation, and to appease the general discontent, he offered the chief
command of these troops to the two favorites of the people, the Prince
of Orange and Count Egmont. Both, however, declined his offer, with the
noble-minded declaration that they could never make up their minds to
serve contrary to the laws of the country. The more desire the king
showed to have his Spaniards in the country the more obstinately the
states insisted on their removal. In the following Diet at Ghent he was
compelled, in the very midst of his courtiers, to listen to republican
truth. "Why are foreign hands needed for our defence?" demanded the
Syndic of Ghent. "Is it that the rest of the world should consider us
too stupid, or too cowardly, to protect ourselves? Why have we made
peace if the burdens of war are still to oppress us? In war necessity
enforced endurance; in peace our patience is exhausted by its burdens.
Or shall we be able to keep in order these licentious bands which thine
own presence could not restrain? Here, Cambray and Antwerp cry for
redress; there, Thionville and Marienburg lie waste; and, surely, thou
hast not bestowed upon us peace that our cities should become deserts,
as they necessarily must if thou freest them not from these destroyers?
Perhaps then art anxious to guard against surprise from our neighbors?
This precaution is wise; but the report of their preparations will long
outrun their hostilities. Why incur a heavy expense to engage
foreigners who will not care for a country which they must leave
to-morrow? Hast thou not still at thy command the same brave
Netherlanders to whom thy father entrusted the republic in far more
troubled times? Why shouldest thou now doubt their loyalty, which, to
thy ancestors, they have preserved for so many centuries inviolate?
Will not they be sufficient to sustain the war long enough to give time
to thy confederates to join their banners, or to thyself to send succor
from the neighboring country?" This language was too new to the king,
and its truth too obvious for him to be able at once to reply to it.
"I, also, am a foreigner," he at length exclaimed, "and they would like,
I suppose, to expel me from the country!" At the same time he descended
from the throne, and left the assembly; but the speaker was pardoned for
his boldness. Two days afterwards he sent a message to the states that
if he had been apprised earlier that these troops were a burden to them
he would have immediately made preparation to remove them with himself
to Spain. Now it was too late, for they would not depart unpaid; but he
pledged them his most sacred promise that they should not be oppressed
with this burden more than four months. Nevertheless, the troops
remained in this country eighteen months instead of four; and would not,
perhaps, even then have left it so soon if the exigencies of the state
had not made their presence indispensable in another part of the world.

The illegal appointment of foreigners to the most important offices of
the country afforded further occasion of complaint against the
government. Of all the privileges of the provinces none was so
obnoxious to the Spaniards as that which excluded strangers from office,
and none they had so zealously sought to abrogate. Italy, the two
Indies, and all the provinces of this vast Empire, were indeed open to
their rapacity and ambition; but from the richest of them all an
inexorable fundamental law excluded them. They artfully persuaded their
sovereign that his power in these countries would never be firmly
established so long as he could not employ foreigners as his
instruments. The Bishop of Arras, a Burgundian by birth, had already
been illegally forced upon the Flemings; and now the Count of Feria, a
Castilian, was to receive a seat and voice in the council of state. But
this attempt met with a bolder resistance than the king's flatterers had
led him to expect, and his despotic omnipotence was this time wrecked by
the politic measures of William of Orange and the firmness of the
states.



          WILLIAM OF ORANGE AND COUNT EGMONT.

By such measures, did Philip usher in his government of the Netherlands,
and such were the grievances of the nation when he was preparing to
leave them. He had long been impatient to quit a country where he was a
stranger, where there was so much that opposed his secret wishes, and
where his despotic mind found such undaunted monitors to remind him of
the laws of freedom. The peace with France at last rendered a longer
stay unnecessary; the armaments of Soliman required his presence in the
south, and the Spaniards also began to miss their long-absent king. The
choice of a supreme Stadtholder for the Netherlands was the principal
matter which still detained him. Emanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, had
filled this place since the resignation of Mary, Queen of Hungary,
which, however, so long as the king himself was present, conferred more
honor than real influence. His absence would make it the most important
office in the monarchy, and the most splendid aim for the ambition of a
subject. It had now become vacant through the departure of the duke,
whom the peace of Chateau-Cambray had restored to his dominions. The
almost unlimited power with which the supreme Statholder would be
entrusted, the capacity and experience which so extensive and delicate
an appointment required, but, especially, the daring designs which the
government had in contemplation against the freedom of the country, the
execution of which would devolve on him, necessarily embarrassed the
choice. The law, which excluded all foreigners from office, made an
exception in the case of the supreme Stadtholder. As he could not be at
the same time a native of all the provinces, it was allowable for him
not to belong to any one of them; for the jealousy of the man of Brabant
would concede no greater right to a Fleming, whose home was half a mile
from his frontier, than to a Sicilian, who lived in another soil and
under a different sky. But here the interests of the crown itself
seemed to favor the appointment of a native. A Brabanter, for instance,
who enjoyed the full confidence of his countrymen if he were a traitor
would have half accomplished his treason before a foreign governor could
have overcome the mistrust with which his most insignificant measures
would be watched. If the government should succeed in carrying through
its designs in one province, the opposition of the rest would then be a
temerity, which it would be justified in punishing in the severest
manner. In the common whole which the provinces now formed their
individual constitutions were, in a measure, destroyed; the obedience of
one would be a law for all, and the privilege, which one knew not how to
preserve, was lost for the rest.

Among the Flemish nobles who could lay claim to the Chief
Stadtholdership, the expectations and wishes of the nation were divided
between Count Egmont and the Prince of Orange, who were alike qualified
for this high dignity by illustrious birth and personal merits, and by
an equal share in the affections of the people. Their high rank placed
them both near to the throne, and if the choice of the monarch was to
rest on the worthiest it must necessarily fall upon one of these two.
As, in the course of our history, we shall often have occasion to
mention both names, the reader cannot be too early made acquainted with
their characters.

William I., Prince of Orange, was descended from the princely German
house of Nassau, which had already flourished eight centuries, had long
disputed the preeminence with Austria, and had given one Emperor to
Germany. Besides several extensive domains in the Netherlands, which
made him a citizen of this republic and a vassal of the Spanish
monarchy, he possessed also in France the independent princedom of
Orange. William was born in the year 1533, at Dillenburg, in the
country of Nassau, of a Countess Stolberg. His father, the Count of
Nassau, of the same name, had embraced the Protestant religion, and
caused his son also to be educated in it; but Charles V., who early
formed an attachment for the boy, took him when quite young to his
court, and had him brought up in the Romish church. This monarch, who
already in the child discovered the future greatness of the man, kept
him nine years about his person, thought him worthy of his personal
instruction in the affairs of government, and honored him with a
confidence beyond his years. He alone was permitted to remain in the
Emperor's presence when he gave audience to foreign ambassadors--a proof
that, even as a boy, he had already begun to merit the surname of the
Silent. The Emperor was not ashamed even to confess openly, on one
occasion, that this young man had often made suggestions which would
have escaped his own sagacity. What expectations might not be formed of
the intellect of a man who was disciplined in such a school.

William was twenty-three years old when Charles abdicated the
government, and had already received from the latter two public marks of
the highest esteem. The Emperor had entrusted to him, in preference to
all the nobles of his court, the honorable office of conveying to his
brother Ferdinand the imperial crown. When the Duke of Savoy, who
commanded the imperial army in the Netherlands, was called away to Italy
by the exigency of his domestic affairs, the Emperor appointed him
commander-in-chief against the united representations of his military
council, who declared it altogether hazardous to oppose so young a tyro
in arms to the experienced generals of France. Absent, and
unrecommended by any, he was preferred by the monarch to the
laurel-crowned band of his heroes, and the result gave him no cause
to repent of his choice.

The marked favor which the prince had enjoyed with the father was in
itself a sufficient ground for his exclusion from the confidence of the
son. Philip, it appears, had laid it down for himself as a rule to
avenge the wrongs of the Spanish nobility for the preference which
Charles V. had on all important occasions shown to his Flemish nobles.
Still stronger, however, were the secret motives which alienated him
from the prince. William of Orange was one of those lean and pale men
who, according to Caesar's words, "sleep not at night, and think too
much," and before whom the most fearless spirits quail.

The calm tranquillity of a never-varying countenance concealed a busy,
ardent soul, which never ruffled even the veil behind which it worked,
and was alike inaccessible to artifice and love; a versatile,
formidable, indefatigable mind, soft, and ductile enough to be
instantaneously moulded into all forms; guarded enough to lose itself in
none; and strong enough to endure every vicissitude of fortune. A
greater master in reading and in winning men's hearts never existed than
William. Not that, after the fashion of courts, his lips avowed a
servility to which his proud heart gave the lie; but because he was
neither too sparing nor too lavish of the marks of his esteem, and
through a skilful economy of the favors which mostly bind men, he
increased his real stock in them. The fruits of his meditation were as
perfect as they were slowly formed; his resolves were as steadily and
indomitably accomplished as they were long in maturing. No obstacles
could defeat the plan which he had once adopted as the best; no
accidents frustrated it, for they all had been foreseen before they
actually occurred. High as his feelings were raised above terror and
joy, they were, nevertheless, subject in the same degree to fear; but
his fear was earlier than the danger, and he was calm in tumult because
he had trembled in repose. William lavished his gold with a profuse
hand, but he was a niggard of his movements. The hours of repast were
the sole hours of relaxation, but these were exclusively devoted to his
heart, his family, and his friends; this the modest deduction he allowed
himself from the cares of his country. Here his brow was cleared with
wine, seasoned by temperance and a cheerful disposition; and no serious
cares were permitted to enter this recess of enjoyment. His household
was magnificent; the splendor of a numerous retinue, the number and
respectability of those who surrounded his person, made his habitation
resemble the court of a sovereign prince. A sumptuous hospitality, that
master-spell of demagogues, was the goddess of his palace. Foreign
princes and ambassadors found here a fitting reception and
entertainment, which surpassed all that luxurious Belgium could
elsewhere offer. A humble submissiveness to the government bought off
the blame and suspicion which this munificence might have thrown on his
intentions. But this liberality secured for him the affections of the
people, whom nothing gratified so much as to see the riches of their
country displayed before admiring foreigners, and the high pinnacle of
fortune on which he stood enhanced the value of the courtesy to which he
condescended. No one, probably, was better fitted by nature for the
leader of a conspiracy than William the Silent. A comprehensive and
intuitive glance into the past, the present, and the future; the talent
for improving every favorable opportunity; a commanding influence over
the minds of men, vast schemes which only when viewed from a distance
show form and symmetry; and bold calculations which were wound up in the
long chain of futurity; all these faculties he possessed, and kept,
moreover, under the control of that free and enlightened virtue which
moves with firm step even on the very edge of the abyss.

A man like this might at other times have remained unfathomed by his
whole generation; but not so by the distrustful spirit of the age in
which he lived. Philip II. saw quickly and deeply into a character
which, among good ones, most resembled his own. If he had not seen
through him so clearly his distrust of a man, in whom were united nearly
all the qualities which he prized highest and could best appreciate,
would be quite inexplicable. But William had another and still more
important point of contact with Philip II. He had learned his policy
from the same master, and had become, it was to be feared, a more apt
scholar. Not by making Machiavelli's 'Prince' his study, but by having
enjoyed the living instruction of a monarch who reduced the book to
practice, had he become versed in the perilous arts by which thrones
rise and fall. In him Philip had to deal with an antagonist who was
armed against his policy, and who in a good cause could also command the
resources of a bad one. And it was exactly this last circumstance which
accounts for his having hated this man so implacably above all others of
his day, and his having had so supernatural a dread of him.

The suspicion which already attached to the prince was increased by the
doubts which were entertained of his religious bias. So long as the
Emperor, his benefactor, lived, William believed in the pope; but it was
feared, with good ground, that the predilection for the reformed
religion, which had been imparted into his young heart, had never
entirely left it. Whatever church he may at certain periods of his life
have preferred each might console itself with the reflection that none
other possessed him more entirely. In later years he went over to
Calvinism with almost as little scruple as in his early childhood he
deserted the Lutheran profession for the Romish. He defended the rights
of the Protestants rather than their opinions against Spanish
oppression; not their faith, but their wrongs, had made him their
brother.

These general grounds for suspicion appeared to be justified by a
discovery of his real intentions which accident had made. William had
remained in France as hostage for the peace of Chateau-Cambray, in
concluding which he had borne a part; and here, through the imprudence
of Henry II., who imagined he spoke with a confidant of the King of
Spain, he became acquainted with a secret plot which the French and
Spanish courts had formed against Protestants of both kingdoms. The
prince hastened to communicate this important discovery to his friends
in Brussels, whom it so nearly concerned, and the letters which he
exchanged on the subject fell, unfortunately, into the hands of the King
of Spain. Philip was less surprised at this decisive disclosure of
William's sentiments than incensed at the disappointment of his scheme;
and the Spanish nobles, who had never forgiven the prince that moment,
when in the last act of his life the greatest of Emperors leaned upon
his shoulders, did not neglect this favorable opportunity of finally
ruining, in the good opinion of their king, the betrayer of a state
secret.

Of a lineage no less noble than that of William was Lamoral, Count
Egmont and Prince of Gavre, a descendant of the Dukes of Gueldres, whose
martial courage had wearied out the arms of Austria. His family was
highly distinguished in the annals of the country; one of his ancestors,
had, under Maximilian, already filled the office of Stadtholder over
Holland. Egmont's marriage with the Duchess Sabina of Bavaria reflected
additional lustre on the splendor of his birth, and made him powerful
through the greatness of this alliance. Charles V. had, in the year
1516, conferred on him at Utrecht the order of the Golden Fleece; the
wars of this Emperor were the school of his military genius, and the
battle of St. Quentin and Gravelines made him the hero of his age.
Every blessing of peace, for which a commercial people feel most
grateful, brought to mind the remembrance of the victory by which it was
accelerated, and Flemish pride, like a fond mother, exulted over the
illustrious son of their country, who had filled all Europe with
admiration. Nine children who grew up under the eyes of their
fellow-citizens, multiplied and drew closer the ties between him and his
fatherland, and the people's grateful affection for the father was kept
alive by the sight of those who were dearest to him. Every appearance
of Egmont in public was a triumphal procession; every eye which was
fastened upon him recounted his history; his deeds lived in the plaudits
of his companions-in-arms; at the games of chivalry mothers pointed him
out to their children. Affability, a noble and courteous demeanor, the
amiable virtues of chivalry, adorned and graced his merits. His liberal
soul shone forth on his open brow; his frank-heartedness managed his
secrets no better than his benevolence did his estate, and a thought was
no sooner his than it was the property of all. His religion was gentle
and humane, but not very enlightened, because it derived its light from
the heart and not from, his understanding. Egmont possessed more of
conscience than of fixed principles; his head had not given him a code
of its own, but had merely learnt it by rote; the mere name of any
action, therefore, was often with him sufficient for its condemnation.
In his judgment men were wholly bad or wholly good, and had not
something bad or something good; in this system of morals there was no
middle term between vice and virtue; and consequently a single good
trait often decided his opinion of men. Egmont united all the eminent
qualities which form the hero; he was a better soldier than the Prince
of Orange, but far inferior to him as a statesman; the latter saw the
world as it really was; Egmont viewed it in the magic mirror of an
imagination that embellished all that it reflected. Men, whom fortune
has surprised with a reward for which they can find no adequate ground
in their actions, are, for the most part, very apt to forget the
necessary connection between cause and effect, and to insert in the
natural consequences of things a higher miraculous power to which, as
Caesar to his fortune, they at last insanely trust. Such a character
was Egmont. Intoxicated with the idea of his own merits, which the love
and gratitude of his fellow-citizens had exaggerated, he staggered on in
this sweet reverie as in a delightful world of dreams. He feared not,
because he trusted to the deceitful pledge which destiny had given him
of her favor, in the general love of the people; and he believed in its
justice because he himself was prosperous. Even the most terrible
experience of Spanish perfidy could not afterwards eradicate this
confidence from his soul, and on the scaffold itself his latest feeling
was hope. A tender fear for his family kept his patriotic courage
fettered by lower duties. Because he trembled for property and life he
could not venture much for the republic. William of Orange broke with
the throne because its arbitrary power was offensive to his pride;
Egmont was vain, and therefore valued the favors of the monarch. The
former was a citizen of the world; Egmont had never been more than a
Fleming.

Philip II. still stood indebted to the hero of St. Quentin, and the
supreme stadtholdership of the Netherlands appeared the only appropriate
reward for such great services. Birth and high station, the voice of
the nation and personal abilities, spoke as loudly for Egmont as for
Orange; and if the latter was to be passed by it seemed that the former
alone could supplant him.

Two such competitors, so equal in merit, might have embarrassed Philip
in his choice if he had ever seriously thought of selecting either of
them for the appointment. But the pre-eminent qualities by which they
supported their claim to this office were the very cause of their
rejection; and it was precisely the ardent desire of the nation for
their election to it that irrevocably annulled their title to the
appointment. Philip's purpose would not be answered by a stadtholder in
the Netherlands who could command the good-will and the energies of the
people. Egmont's descent from the Duke of Gueldres made him an
hereditary foe of the house of Spain, and it seemed impolitic to place
the supreme power in the hands of a man to whom the idea might occur of
revenging on the son of the oppressor the oppression of his ancestor.
The slight put on their favorites could give no just offence either to
the nation or to themselves, for it might be pretended that the king
passed over both because he would not show a preference to either.

The disappointment of his hopes of gaining the regency did not deprive
the Prince of Orange of all expectation of establishing more firmly his
influence in the Netherlands. Among the other candidates for this
office was also Christina, Duchess of Lorraine, and aunt of the king,
who, as mediatrix of the peace of Chateau-Cambray, had rendered
important service to the crown. William aimed at the hand of her
daughter, and he hoped to promote his suit by actively interposing his
good offices for the mother; but he did not reflect that through this
very intercession he ruined her cause. The Duchess Christina was
rejected, not so much for the reason alleged, namely, the dependence of
her territories on France made her an object of suspicion to the Spanish
court, as because she was acceptable to the people of the Netherlands
and the Prince of Orange.



        MARGARET OF PARMA REGENT OF THE NETHERLANDS.

While the general expectation was on the stretch as to whom the fature
destines of the provinces would be committed, there appeared on the
frontiers of the country the Duchess Margaret of Parma, having been
summoned by the king from Italy to assume the government.

Margaret was a natural daughter of Charles V. and of a noble Flemish
lady named Vangeest, and born in 1522.

Out of regard for the honor of her mother's house she was at first
educated in obscurity; but her mother, who possessed more vanity than
honor, was not very anxious to preserve the secret of her origin, and a
princely education betrayed the daughter of the Emperor. While yet a
child she was entrusted to the Regent Margaret, her great-aunt, to be
brought up at Brussels under her eye. This guardian she lost in her
eighth year, and the care of her education devolved on Queen Mary of
Hungary, the successor of Margaret in the regency. Her father had
already affianced her, while yet in her fourth year, to a Prince of
Ferrara; but this alliance being subsequently dissolved, she was
betrothed to Alexander de Medicis, the new Duke of Florence, which
marriage was, after the victorious return of the Emperor from Africa,
actually consummated in Naples. In the first year of this unfortunate
union, a violent death removed from her a husband who could not love
her, and for the third time her hand was disposed of to serve the policy
of her father. Octavius Farnese, a prince of thirteen years of age and
nephew of Paul III., obtained, with her person, the Duchies of Parma and
Piacenza as her portion. Thus, by a strange destiny, Margaret at the
age of maturity was contracted to a boy, as in the years of infancy she
had been sold to a man. Her disposition, which was anything but
feminine, made this last alliance still more unnatural, for her taste
and inclinations were masculine, and the whole tenor of her life belied
her sex. After the example of her instructress, the Queen of Hungary,
and her great-aunt, the Duchess Mary of Burgundy, who met her death in
this favorite sport, she was passionately fond of hunting, and had
acquired in this pursuit such bodily vigor that few men were better able
to undergo its hardships and fatigues.

Her gait itself was so devoid of grace that one was far more tempted to
take her for a disguised man than for a masculine woman; and Nature,
whom she had derided by thus transgressing the limits of her sex,
revenged itself finally upon her by a disease peculiar to men--the gout.

These unusual qualities were crowned by a monkish superstition which was
infused into her mind by Ignatius Loyola, her confessor and teacher.
Among the charitable works and penances with which she mortified her
vanity, one of the most remarkable was that, during Passion-Week she
yearly washed, with her own hands, the feet of a number of poor men (who
were most strictly forbidden to cleanse themselves beforehand), waited
on them at table like a servant, and sent them away with rich presents.

Nothing more is requisite than this last feature in her character to
account for the preference which the king gave her over all her rivals;
but his choice was at the same time justified by excellent reasons of
state. Margaret was born and also educated in the Netherlands. She had
spent her early youth among the people, and had acquired much of their
national manners. Two regents (Duchess Margaret and Queen Mary of
Hungary), under whose eyes she had grown up, had gradually initiated her
into the maxims by which this peculiar people might be most easily
governed; and they would also serve her as models. She did not want
either in talents; and possessed, moreover, a particular turn for
business, which she had acquired from her instructors, and had
afterwards carried to greater perfection in the Italian school. The
Netherlands had been for a number of years accustomed to female
government; and Philip hoped, perhaps, that the sharp iron of tyranny
which he was about to use against them would cut more gently if wielded
by the hands of a woman. Some regard for his father, who at the time
was still living, and was much attached to Margaret, may have in a
measure, as it is asserted, influenced this choice; as it is also
probable that the king wished to oblige the Duke of Parma, through this
mark of attention to his wife, and thus to compensate for denying a
request which he was just then compelled to refuse him. As the
territories of the duchess were surrounded by Philip's Italian states,
and at all times exposed to his arms, he could, with the less danger,
entrust the supreme power into her hands. For his full security her
son, Alexander Farnese, was to remain at his court as a pledge for her
loyalty. All these reasons were alone sufficiently weighty to turn the
king's decision in her favor; but they became irresistible when
supported by the Bishop of Arras and the Duke of Alva. The latter, as
it appears, because he hated or envied all the other competitors, the
former, because even then, in all probability, he anticipated from the
wavering disposition of this princess abundant gratification for his
ambition.

Philip received the new regent on the frontiers with a splendid cortege,
and conducted her with magnificent pomp to Ghent, where the States
General had been convoked. As he did not intend to return soon to the
Netherlands, he desired, before he left them, to gratify the nation for
once by holding a solemn Diet, and thus giving a solemn sanction and the
force of law to his previous regulations. For the last time he showed
himself to his Netherlandish people, whose destinies were from
henceforth to be dispensed from a mysterious distance. To enhance the
splendor of this solemn day, Philip invested eleven knights with the
Order of the Golden Fleece, his sister being seated on a chair near
himself, while he showed her to the nation as their future ruler. All
the grievances of the people, touching the edicts, the Inquisition, the
detention of the Spanish troops, the taxes, and the illegal introduction
of foreigners into the offices and administration of the country were
brought forward in this Diet, and were hotly discussed by both parties;
some of them were skilfully evaded, or apparently removed, others
arbitrarily repelled. As the king was unacquainted with the language of
the country, he addressed the nation through the mouth of the Bishop of
Arras, recounted to them with vain-glorious ostentation all the benefits
of his government, assured them of his favor for the future, and once
more recommended to the estates in the most earnest manner the
preservation of the Catholic faith and the extirpation of heresy.
The Spanish troops, he promised, should in a few months evacuate the
Netherlands, if only they would allow him time to recover from the
numerous burdens of the last war, in order that he might be enabled to
collect the means for paying the arrears of these troops; the
fundamental laws of the nation should remain inviolate, the imposts
should not be grievously burdensome, and the Inquisition should
administer its duties with justice and moderation. In the choice of a
supreme Stadtholder, he added, he had especially consulted the wishes of
the nation, and had decided for a native of the country, who had been
brought up in their manners and customs, and was attached to them by a
love to her native land. He exhorted them, therefore, to show their
gratitude by honoring his choice, and obeying his sister, the duchess,
as himself. Should, he concluded, unexpected obstacles oppose his
return, he would send in his place his son, Prince Charles, who should
reside in Brussels.

A few members of this assembly, more courageous than the rest, once more
ventured on a final effort for liberty of conscience. Every people,
they argued, ought to be treated according to their natural character,
as every individual must in accordance to his bodily constitution.
Thus, for example, the south may be considered happy under a certain
degree of constraint which would press intolerably on the north. Never,
they added, would the Flemings consent to a yoke under which, perhaps,
the Spaniards bowed with patience, and rather than submit to it would
they undergo any extremity if it was sought to force such a yoke upon
them. This remonstrance was supported by some of the king's
counsellors, who strongly urged the policy of mitigating the rigor of
religious edicts. But Philip remained inexorable. Better not reign at
all, was his answer, than reign over heretics!

According to an arrangement already made by Charles V., three councils
or chambers were added to the regent, to assist her in the
administration of state affairs. As long as Philip was himself present
in the Netherlands these courts had lost much of their power, and the
functions of the first of them, the state council, were almost entirely
suspended. Now that he quitted the reins of government, they recovered
their former importance. In the state council, which was to deliberate
upon war and peace, and security against external foes, sat the Bishop
of Arras, the Prince of Orange, Count Egmont, the President of the Privy
Council, Viglius Van Zuichem Van Aytta, and the Count of Barlaimont,
President of the Chamber of Finance. All knights of the Golden Fleece,
all privy counsellors and counsellors of finance, as also the members of
the great senate at Malines, which had been subjected by Charles V. to
the Privy Council in Brussels, had a seat and vote in the Council of
State, if expressly invited by the regent. The management of the royal
revenues and crown lands was vested in the Chamber of Finance, and the
Privy Council was occupied with the administration of justice, and the
civil regulation of the country, and issued all letters of grace and
pardon. The governments of the provinces which had fallen vacant were
either filled up afresh or the former governors were confirmed. Count
Egmont received Flanders and Artois; the Prince of Orange, Holland,
Zealand, Utrecht, and West Friesland; the Count of Aremberg, East
Friesland, Overyssel, and Groningen; the Count of Mansfeld, Luxemburg;
Barlaimont, Namur; the Marquis of Bergen, Hainault, Chateau-Cambray, and
Valenciennes; the Baron of Montigny, Tournay and its dependencies.
Other provinces were given to some who have less claim to our attention.
Philip of Montmorency, Count of Hoorn, who had been succeeded by the
Count of Megen in the government of Gueldres and Ziitphen, was confirmed
as admiral of the Belgian navy. Every governor of a province was at the
same time a knight of the Golden Fleece and member of the Council of
State. Each had, in the province over which he presided, the command of
the military force which protected it, the superintendence of the civil
administration and the judicature; the governor of Flanders alone
excepted, who was not allowed to interfere with the administration of
justice. Brabant alone was placed under the immediate jurisdiction of
the regent, who, according to custom, chose Brussels for her constant
residence. The induction of the Prince of Orange into his governments
was, properly speaking, an infraction of the constitution, since he was
a foreigner; but several estates which he either himself possessed in
the provinces, or managed as guardian of his son, his long residence in
the country, and above all the unlimited confidence the nation reposed
in him, gave him substantial claims in default of a real title of
citizenship.

The military force of the Low Countries consisted, in its full
complement, of three thousand horse. At present it did not much exceed
two thousand, and was divided into fourteen squadrons, over which,
besides the governors of the provinces, the Duke of Arschot, the Counts
of Hoogstraten, Bossu, Roeux, and Brederode held the chief command.
This cavalry, which was scattered through all the seventeen provinces,
was only to be called out on sudden emergencies. Insufficient as it was
for any great undertaking, it was, nevertheless, fully adequate for the
maintenance of internal order. Its courage had been approved in former
wars, and the fame of its valor was diffused through the whole of
Europe. In addition to this cavalry it was also proposed to levy a body
of infantry, but hitherto the states had refused their consent to it.
Of foreign troops there were still some German regiments in the service,
which were waiting for their pay. The four thousand Spaniards,
respecting whom so many complaints had been made, were under two Spanish
generals, Mendoza and Romero, and were in garrison in the frontier
towns.

Among the Belgian nobles whom the king especially distinguished in these
new appointments, the names of Count Egmont and William of Orange stand
conspicuous. However inveterate his hatred was of both, and
particularly of the latter, Philip nevertheless gave them these public
marks of his favor, because his scheme of vengeance was not yet fully
ripe, and the people were enthusiastic in their devotion to them. The
estates of both were declared exempt from taxes, the most lucrative
governments were entrusted to them, and by offering them the command of
the Spaniards whom he left behind in the country the king flattered them
with a confidence which he was very far from really reposing in them.
But at the very time when he obliged the prince with these public marks
of his esteem he privately inflicted the most cruel injury on him.
Apprehensive lest an alliance with the powerful house of Lorraine might
encourage this suspected vassal to bolder measures, he thwarted the
negotiation for a marriage between him and a princess of that family,
and crushed his hopes on the very eve of their accomplishment,--an
injury which the prince never forgave. Nay, his hatred to the prince on
one occasion even got completely the better of his natural
dissimulation, and seduced him into a step in which we entirely lose
sight of Philip II. When he was about to embark at Flushing, and the
nobles of the country attended him to the shore, he so far forgot
himself as roughly to accost the prince, and openly to accuse him of
being the author of the Flemish troubles. The prince answered
temperately that what had happened had been done by the provinces of
their own suggestion and on legitimate grounds. No, said Philip,
seizing his hated, and shaking it violently, not the provinces, but You!
You! You! The prince stood mute with astonishment, and without waiting
for the king's embarkation, wished him a safe journey, and went back to
the town.

Thus the enmity which William had long harbored in his breast against
the oppressor of a free people was now rendered irreconcilable by
private hatred; and this double incentive accelerated the great
enterprise which tore from the Spanish crown seven of its brightest
jewels.

Philip had greatly deviated from his true character in taking so
gracious a leave of the Netherlands. The legal form of a diet, his
promise to remove the Spaniards from the frontiers, the consideration of
the popular wishes, which had led him to fill the most important offices
of the country with the favorites of the people, and, finally, the
sacrifice which he made to the constitution in withdrawing the Count of
Feria from the council of state, were marks of condescension of which
his magnanimity was never again guilty. But in fact he never stood in
greater need of the good-will of the states, that with their aid he
might, if possible, clear off the great burden of debt which was still
attached to the Netherlands from the former war. He hoped, therefore,
by propitiating them through smaller sacrifices to win approval of more
important usurpations. He marked his departure with grace, for he knew
in what hands he left them. The frightful scenes of death which he
intended for this unhappy people were not to stain the splendor of
majesty which, like the Godhead, marks its course only with beneficence;
that terrible distinction was reserved for his representatives. The
establishment of the council of state was, however, intended rather to
flatter the vanity of the Belgian nobility than to impart to them any
real influence. The historian Strada (who drew his information with
regard to the regent from her own papers) has preserved a few articles
of the secret instructions which the Spanish ministry gave her. Amongst
other things it is there stated if she observed that the councils were
divided by factions, or, what would be far worse, prepared by private
conferences before the session, and in league with one another, then she
was to prorogue all the chambers and dispose arbitrarily of the disputed
articles in a more select council or committee. In this select
committee, which was called the Consulta, sat the Archbishop of Arras,
the President Viglius, and the Count of Barlaimont. She was to act in
the same manner if emergent cases required a prompt decision. Had this
arrangement not been the work of an arbitrary despotism it would perhaps
have been justified by sound policy, and republican liberty itself might
have tolerated it. In great assemblies where many private interests and
passions co-operate, where a numerous audience presents so great a
temptation to the vanity of the orator, and parties often assail one
another with unmannerly warmth, a decree can seldom be passed with that
sobriety and mature deliberation which, if the members are properly
selected, a smaller body readily admits of. In a numerous body of men,
too, there is, we must suppose, a greater number of limited than of
enlightened intellects, who through their equal right of vote frequently
turn the majority on the side of ignorance. A second maxim which the
regent was especially to observe, was to select the very members of
council who had voted against any decree to carry it into execution.
By this means not only would the people be kept in ignorance of the
originators of such a law, but the private quarrels also of the members
would be restrained, and a greater freedom insured in voting in
compliance with the wishes of the court.

In spite of all these precautions Philip would never have been able to
leave the Netherlands with a quiet mind so long as he knew that the
chief power in the council of state, and the obedience of the provinces,
were in the hands of the suspected nobles. In order, therefore, to
appease his fears from this quarter, and also at the same time to assure
himself of the fidelity of the regent, be subjected her, and through her
all the affairs of the judicature, to the higher control of the Bishop
of Arras. In this single individual he possessed an adequate
counterpoise to the most dreaded cabal. To him, as to an infallible
oracle of majesty, the duchess was referred, and in him there watched a
stern supervisor of her administration. Among all his contemporaries
Granvella was the only one whom Philip II. appears to have excepted from
his universal distrust; as long as he knew that this man was in Brussels
he could sleep calmly in Segovia. He left the Netherlands in September,
1559, was saved from a storm which sank his fleet, and landed at Laredo
in Biscay, and in his gloomy joy thanked the Deity who had preserved him
by a detestable vow. In the hands of a priest and of a woman was placed
the dangerous helm of the Netherlands; and the dastardly tyrant escaped
in his oratory at Madrid the supplications, the complaints, and the
curses of the people.



BOOK II.

CARDINAL GRANVELLA.


ANTHONY PERENOT, Bishop of Arras, subsequently Archbishop of Malines,
and Metropolitan of all the Netherlands, who, under the name of Cardinal
Granvella, has been immortalized by the hatred of his contemporaries,
was born in the year 1516, at Besancon in Burgundy. His father,
Nicolaus Perenot, the son of a blacksmith, had risen by his own merits
to be the private secretary of Margaret, Duchess of Savoy, at that time
regent of the Netherlands. In this post he was noticed for his habits
of business by Charles V., who took him into his own service and
employed him in several important negotiations. For twenty years he was
a member of the Emperor's cabinet, and filled the offices of privy
counsellor and keeper of the king's seal, and shared in all the state
secrets of that monarch. He acquired a large fortune. His honors,
his influence, and his political knowledge were inherited by his son,
Anthony Perenot, who in his early years gave proofs of the great
capacity which subsequently opened to him so distinguished a career.
Anthony had cultivated at several colleges the talents with which nature
had so lavishly endowed him, and in some respects had an advantage over
his father. He soon showed that his own abilities were sufficient to
maintain the advantageous position which the merits of another had
procured him. He was twenty-four years old when the Emperor sent him as
his plenipotentiary to the ecclesiastical council of Trent, where he
delivered the first specimen of that eloquence which in the sequel gave
him so complete an ascendancy over two kings. Charles employed him in
several difficult embassies, the duties of which he fulfilled to the
satisfaction of his sovereign, and when finally that Emperor resigned
the sceptre to his son he made that costly present complete by giving
him a minister who could help him to wield it.

Granvella opened his new career at once with the greatest masterpiece of
political genius, in passing so easily from the favor of such a father
into equal consideration with such a son. And he soon proved himself
deserving of it. At the secret negotiations of which the Duchess of
Lorraine had, in 1558, been the medium between the French and Spanish
ministers at Peronne, he planned, conjointly with the Cardinal of
Lorraine, that conspiracy against the Protestants which was afterwards
matured, but also betrayed, at Chateau-Cambray, where Perenot likewise
assisted in effecting the so-called peace.

A deeply penetrating, comprehensive intellect, an unusual facility in
conducting great and intricate affairs, and the most extensive learning,
were wonderfully united in this man with persevering industry and
never-wearying patience, while his enterprising genius was associated
with thoughtful mechanical regularity. Day and night the state found him
vigilant and collected; the most important and the most insignificant
things were alike weighed by him with scrupulous attention. Not
unfrequently he employed five secretaries at one time, dictating to them
in different languages, of which he is said to have spoken seven. What
his penetrating mind had slowly matured acquired in his lips both force
and grace, and truth, set forth by his persuasive eloquence, irresistibly
carried away all hearers. He was tempted by none of the passions which
make slaves of most men. His integrity was incorruptible. With shrewd
penetration he saw through the disposition of his master, and could read
in his features his whole train of thought, and, as it were, the
approaching form in the shadow which outran it. With an artifice rich in
resources he came to the aid of Philip's more inactive mind, formed into
perfect thought his master's crude ideas while they yet hung on his lips,
and liberally allowed him the glory of the invention. Granvella
understood the difficult and useful art of depreciating his own talents;
of making his own genius the seeming slave of another; thus he ruled
while he concealed his sway. In this manner only could Philip II. be
governed. Content with a silent but real power, Granvella did not grasp
insatiably at new and outward marks of it, which with lesser minds are
ever the most coveted objects; but every new distinction seemed to sit
upon him as easily as the oldest. No wonder if such extraordinary
endowments had alone gained him the favor of his master; but a large and
valuable treasure of political secrets and experiences, which the active
life of Charles V. had accumulated, and had deposited in the mind of this
man, made him indispensable to his successor. Self-sufficient as the
latter was, and accustomeded to confide in his own understanding, his
timid and crouching policy was fain to lean on a superior mind, and to
aid its own irresolution not only by precedent but also by the influence
and example of another. No political matter which concerned the royal
interest, even when Philip himself was in the Netherlands, was decided
without the intervention of Granvella; and when the king embarked for
Spain he made the new regent the same valuable present of the minister
which he himself had received from the Emperor, his father.

Common as it is for despotic princes to bestow unlimited confidence on
the creatures whom they have raised from the dust, and of whose
greatness they themselves are, in a measure, the creators, the present
is no ordinary instance; pre-eminent must have been the qualities which
could so far conquer the selfish reserve of such a character as Philip's
as to gain his confidence, nay, even to win him into familiarity. The
slightest ebullition of the most allowable self-respect, which might
have tempted him to assert, however slightly, his claim to any idea
which the king had once ennobled as his own, would have cost him his
whole influence. He might gratify without restraint the lowest passions
of voluptuousness, of rapacity, and of revenge, but the only one in
which he really took delight, the sweet consciousness of his own
superiority and power, he was constrained carefully to conceal from the
suspicious glance of the despot. He voluntarily disclaimed all the
eminent qualities, which were already his own, in order, as it were, to
receive them a second time from the generosity of the king. His
happiness seemed to flow from no other source, no other person could
have a claim upon his gratitude. The purple, which was sent to him from
Rome, was not assumed until the royal permission reached him from Spain;
by laying it down on the steps of the throne he appeared, in a measure,
to receive it first from the hands of majesty. Less politic, Alva
erected a trophy in Antwerp, and inscribed his own name under the
victory, which he had won as the servant of the crown--but Alva carried
with him to the grave the displeasure of his master. He had invaded
with audacious hand the royal prerogative by drawing immediately at the
fountain of immortality.

Three times Granvella changed his master, and three times he succeeded
in rising to the highest favor. With the same facility with which he
had guided the settled pride of an autocrat, and the sly egotism of a
despot, he knew how to manage the delicate vanity of a woman. His
business between himself and the regent, even when they were in the same
house, was, for the most part, transacted by the medium of notes, a
custom which draws its date from the times of Augustus and Tiberius.
When the regent was in any perplexity these notes were interchanged from
hour to hour. He probably adopted this expedient in the hope of eluding
the watchful jealousy of the nobility, and concealing from them, in part
at least, his influence over the regent. Perhaps, too, he also believed
that by this means his advice would become more permanent; and, in case
of need, this written testimony would be at hand to shield him from
blame. But the vigilance of the nobles made this caution vain, and it
was soon known in all the provinces that nothing was determined upon
without the minister's advice.

Granvella possessed all the qualities requisite for a perfect statesman
in a monarchy governed by despotic principles, but was absolutely
unqualified for republics which are governed by kings. Educated between
the throne and the confessional, he knew of no other relation between
man and man than that of rule and subjection; and the innate
consciousness of his own superiority gave him a contempt for others.
His policy wanted pliability, the only virtue which was here
indispensable to its success. He was naturally overbearing and
insolent, and the royal authority only gave arms to the natural
impetuosity of his disposition and the imperiousness of his order. He
veiled his own ambition beneath the interests of the crown, and made the
breach between the nation and the king incurable, because it would
render him indispensable to the latter. He revenged on the nobility the
lowliness of his own origin; and, after the fashion of all those who
have risen by their own merits, he valued the advantages of birth below
those by which he had raised himself to distinction. The Protestants
saw in him their most implacable foe; to his charge were laid all the
burdens which oppressed the country, and they pressed the more heavily
because they came from him. Nay, he was even accused of having brought
back to severity the milder sentiments to which the urgent remonstrances
of the provinces had at last disposed the monarch. The Netherlands
execrated him as the most terrible enemy of their liberties, and the
originator of all the misery which subsequently came upon them.


1559. Philip had evidently left the provinces too soon. The new
measures of the government were still strange to the people, and could
receive sanction and authority from his presence alone; the new machines
which he had brought into play required to be kept in motion by a
dreaded and powerful hand, and to have their first movements watched and
regulated. He now exposed his minister to all the angry passions of the
people, who no longer felt restrained by the fetters of the royal
presence; and he delegated to the weak arm of a subject the execution of
projects in which majesty itself, with all its powerful supports, might
have failed.

The land, indeed, flourished; and a general prosperity appeared to
testify to the blessings of the peace which had so lately been bestowed
upon it. An external repose deceived the eye, for within raged all the
elements of discord. If the foundations of religion totter in a country
they totter not alone; the audacity which begins with things sacred ends
with things profane. The successful attack upon the hierarchy had
awakened a spirit of boldness, and a desire to assail authority in
general, and to test laws as well as dogmas--duties as well as opinions.
The fanatical boldness with which men had learned to discuss and decide
upon the affairs of eternity might change its subject matter; the
contempt for life and property which religious enthusiasm had taught
could metamorphose timid citizens into foolhardy rebels. A female
government of nearly forty years had given the nation room to assert
their liberty; continual wars, of which the Netherlands had been the
theatre, had introduced a license with them, and the right of the
stronger had usurped the place of law and order. The provinces were
filled with foreign adventurers and fugitives; generally men bound by no
ties of country, family, or property, who had brought with them from
their unhappy homes the seeds of insubordination and rebellion. The
repeated spectacles of torture and of death had rudely burst the
tenderer threads of moral feeling, and had given an unnatural harshness
to the national character.

Still the rebellion would have crouched timorously and silently on the
ground if it had not found a support in the nobility. Charles V. had
spoiled the Flemish nobles of the Netherlands by making them the
participators of his glory, by fostering their national pride, by the
marked preference he showed for them over the Castilian nobles, and by
opening an arena to their ambition in every part of his empire. In the
late war with France they had really deserved this preference from
Philip; the advantages which the king reaped from the peace of
Chateau-Cambray were for the most part the fruits of their valor, and
they now sensibly missed the gratitude on which they had so confidently
reckoned. Moreover, the separation of the German empire from the Spanish
monarchy, and the less warlike spirit of the new government, had greatly
narrowed their sphere of action, and, except in their own country, little
remained for them to gain. And Philip now appointed his Spaniards where
Charles V. had employed the Flemings. All the passions which the
preceding government had raised and kept employed still survived in
peace; and in default of a legitimate object these unruly feelings found,
unfortunately, ample scope in the grievances of their country.
Accordingly, the claims and wrongs which had been long supplanted by new
passions were now drawn from oblivion. By his late appointments the king
had satisfied no party; for those even who obtained offices were not much
more content than those who were entirely passed over, because they had
calculated on something better than they got. William of Orange had
received four governments (not to reckon some smaller dependencies which,
taken together, were equivalent to a fifth), but William had nourished
hopes of Flanders and Brabant. He and Count Egmont forgot what had really
fallen to their share, and only remembered that they had lost the
regency. The majority of the nobles were either plunged into debt by
their own extravagance, or had willingly enough been drawn into it by the
government. Now that they were excluded from the prospect of lucrative
appointments, they at once saw themselves exposed to poverty, which
pained them the more sensibly when they contrasted the splendor of the
affluent citizens with their own necessities. In the extremities to which
they were reduced many would have readily assisted in the commission even
of crimes; how then could they resist the seductive offers of the
Calvinists, who liberally repaid them for their intercession and
protection? Lastly, many whose estates were past redemption placed their
last hope in a general devastation, and stood prepared at the first
favorable moment to cast the torch of discord into the republic.

This threatening aspect of the public mind was rendered still more
alarming by the unfortunate vicinity of France. What Philip dreaded for
the provinces was there already accomplished. The fate of that kingdom
prefigured to him the destiny of his Netherlands, and the spirit of
rebellion found there a seductive example. A similar state of things
had under Francis I. and Henry II. scattered the seeds of innovation in
that kingdom; a similar fury of persecution and a like spirit of faction
had encouraged its growth. Now Huguenots and Catholics were struggling
in a dubious contest; furious parties disorganized the whole monarchy,
and were violently hurrying this once-powerful state to the brink of
destruction. Here, as there, private interest, ambition, and party
feeling might veil themselves under the names of religion and
patriotism, and the passions of a few citizens drive the entire nation
to take up arms. The frontiers of both countries merged in Walloon
Flanders; the rebellion might, like an agitated sea, cast its waves as
far as this: would a country be closed against it whose language,
manners, and character wavered between those of France and Belgium? As
yet the government had taken no census of its Protestant subjects in
these countries, but the new sect, it was aware, was a vast, compact
republic, which extended its roots through all the monarchies of
Christendom, and the slighest disturbance in any of its most distant
members vibrated to its centre. It was, as it were, a chain of
threatening volcanoes, which, united by subterraneous passages, ignite
at the same moment with alarming sympathy. The Netherlands were,
necessarily, open to all nations, because they derived their support
from all. Was it possible for Philip to close a commercial state as
easily as he could Spain? If he wished to purify these provinces from
heresy it was necessary for him to commence by extirpating it in France.

It was in this state that Granvella found the Netherlands at the
beginning of his administration (1560).

To restore to these countries the uniformity of papistry, to break the
co-ordinate power of the nobility and the states, and to exalt the royal
authority on the ruins of republican freedom, was the great object of
Spanish policy and the express commission of the new minister. But
obstacles stood in the way of its accomplishment; to conquer these
demanded the invention of new resources, the application of new
machinery. The Inquisition, indeed, and the religious edicts appeared
sufficient to check the contagion of heresy; but the latter required
superintendence, and the former able instruments for its now extended
jurisdiction. The church constitution continued the same as it had been
in earlier times, when the provinces were less populous, when the church
still enjoyed universal repose, and could be more easily overlooked and
controlled. A succession of several centuries, which changed the whole
interior form of the provinces, had left the form of the hierarchy
unaltered, which, moreover, was protected from the arbitrary will of its
ruler by the particular privileges of the provinces. All the seventeen
provinces were parcelled out under four bishops, who had their seats at
Arras, Tournay, Cambray, and Utrecht, and were subject to the primates
of Rheims and Cologne. Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, had, indeed,
meditated an increase in the number of bishops to meet the wants of the
increasing population; but, unfortunately, in the excitement of a life
of pleasure had abandoned the project. Ambition and lust of conquest
withdrew the mind of Charles the Bold from the internal concerns of his
kingdom, and Maximilian had already too many subjects of dispute with
the states to venture to add to their number by proposing this change.
A stormy reign prevented Charles V. from the execution of this extensive
plan, which Philip II. now undertook as a bequest from all these
princes. The moment had now arrived when the urgent necessities of the
church would excuse the innovation, and the leisure of peace favored its
accomplishment. With the prodigious crowd of people from all the
countries of Europe who were crowded together in the towns of the
Netherlands, a multitude of religious opinions had also grown up; and it
was impossible that religion could any longer be effectually
superintended by so few eyes as were formerly sufficient. While the
number of bishops was so small their districts must, of necessity, have
been proportionally extensive, and four men could not be adequate to
maintain the purity of the faith through so wide a district.

The jurisdiction which the Archbishops of Cologne and Rheims exercised
over the Netherlands had long been a stumbling-block to the government,
which could not look on this territory as really its own property so
long as such an important branch of power was still wielded by foreign
hands. To snatch this prerogative from the alien archbishops; by new
and active agents to give fresh life and vigor to the superintendence of
the faith, and at the same time to strengthen the number of the
partisans of government at the diet, no more effectual means could be
devised than to increase the number of bishops. Resolved upon doing
this Philip II. ascended the throne; but he soon found that a change in
the hierarchy would inevitably meet with warm opposition from the
provinces, without whose consent, nevertheless, it would be vain to
attempt it. Philip foresaw that the nobility would never approve of a
measure which would so strongly augment the royal party, and take from
the aristocracy the preponderance of power in the diet. The revenues,
too, for the maintenance of these new bishops must be diverted from the
abbots and monks, and these formed a considerable part of the states of
the realm. He had, besides, to fear the opposition of the Protestants,
who would not fail to act secretly in the diet against him. On these
accounts the whole affair was discussed at Rome with the greatest
possible secrecy. Instructed by, and as the agent of, Granvella,
Francis Sonnoi, a priest of Louvain, came before Paul IV. to inform him
how extensive the provinces were, how thriving and populous, how
luxurious in their prosperity. But, he continued, in the immoderate
enjoyment of liberty the true faith is neglected, and heretics prosper.
To obviate this evil the Romish See must have recourse to extraordinary
measures. It was not difficult to prevail on the Romish pontiff to make
a change which would enlarge the sphere of his own jurisdiction.

Paul IV. appointed a tribunal of seven cardinals to deliberate upon this
important matter; but death called him away, and he left to his
successor, Pius IV., the duty of carrying their advice into execution.
The welcome tidings of the pope's determination reached the king in
Zealand when he was just on the point of setting sail for Spain, and the
minister was secretly charged with the dangerous reform. The new
constitution of the hierarchy was published in 1560; in addition to the
then existing four bishoprics thirteen new ones were established,
according to the number of seventeen provinces, and four of them were
raised into archbishoprics. Six of these episcopal sees, viz., in
Antwerp, Herzogenbusch, Ghent, Bruges, Ypres, and Ruremonde, were placed
under the Archbishopric of Malines; five others, Haarlem, Middelburg,
Leuwarden, Deventer, and Groningen, under the Archbishopric of Utrecht;
and the remaining four, Arras, Tournay, St. Omer, and Namur, which lie
nearest to France, and have language, character, and manners in common
with that country, under the Archbishopric of Cambray. Malines,
situated in the middle of Brabant and in the centre of all the seventeen
provinces, was made the primacy of all the rest, and was, with several
rich abbeys, the reward of Granvella. The revenues of the new
bishoprics were provided by an appropriation of the treasures of the
cloisters and abbeys which had accumulated from pious benefactions
during centuries. Some of the abbots were raised to the episcopal
throne, and with the possession of their cloisters and prelacies
retained also the vote at the diet which was attached to them. At the
same time to every bishopric nine prebends were attached, and bestowed
on the most learned juris-consultists and theologians, who were to
support the Inquisition and the bishop in his spiritual office. Of
these, the two who were most deserving by knowledge, experience, and
unblemished life were to be constituted actual inquisitors, and to have
the first voice in the Synods. To the Archbishop of Malines, as
metropolitan of all the seventeen provinces, the full authority was
given to appoint, or at discretion depose, archbishops and bishops; and
the Romish See was only to give its ratification to his acts.

At any other period the nation would have received with gratitude and
approved of such a measure of church reform since it was fully called
for by circumstances, was conducive to the interests of religion, and
absolutely indispensable for the moral reformation of the monkhood. Now
the temper of the times saw in it nothing but a hateful change.
Universal was the indignation with which it was received. A cry was
raised that the constitution was trampled under foot, the rights of the
nation violated, and that the Inquisition was already at the door, and
would soon open here, as in Spain, its bloody tribunal. The people
beheld with dismay these new servants of arbitrary power and of
persecution. The nobility saw in it nothing but a strengthening of the
royal authority by the addition of fourteen votes in the states'
assembly, and a withdrawal of the firmest prop of their freedom, the
balance of the royal and the civil power. The old bishops complained of
the diminution of their incomes and the circumscription of their sees;
the abbots and monks had not only lost power and income, but had
received in exchange rigid censors of their morals. Noble and simple,
laity and clergy, united against the common foe, and while all singly
struggled for some petty private interest, the cry appeared to come from
the formidable voice of patriotism.

Among all the provinces Brabant was loudest in its opposition. The
inviolability of its church constitution was one of the important
privileges which it had reserved in the remarkable charter of the
"Joyful Entry,"--statutes which the sovereign could not violate without
releasing the nation from its allegiance to him. In vain did the
university of Louvain assert that in disturbed times of the church a
privilege lost its power which had been granted in the period of its
tranquillity. The introduction of the new bishoprics into the
constitution was thought to shake the whole fabric of liberty. The
prelacies, which were now transferred to the bishops, must henceforth
serve another rule than the advantage of the province of whose states
they had been members. The once free patriotic citizens were to be
instruments of the Romish See and obedient tools of the archbishop, who
again, as first prelate of Brabant, had the immediate control over them.
The freedom of voting was gone, because the bishops, as servile spies of
the crown, made every one fearful. "Who," it was asked, "will after
this venture to raise his voice in parliament before such observers, or
in their presence dare to protect the rights of the nation against the
rapacious hands of the government? They will trace out the resources of
the provinces, and betray to the crown the secrets of our freedom and
our property. They will obstruct the way to all offices of honor; we
shall soon see the courtiers of the king succeed the present men; the
children of foreigners will, for the future, fill the parliament, and
the private interest of their patron will guide their venal votes."
"What an act of oppression," rejoined the monks, "to pervert to other
objects the pious designs of our holy institutions, to contemn the
inviolable wishes of the dead, and to take that which a devout charity
had deposited in our chests for the relief of the unfortunate and make
it subservient to the luxury of the bishops, thus inflating their
arrogant pomp with the plunder of the poor?" Not only the abbots and
monks, who really did suffer by this act of appropriation, but every
family which could flatter itself with the slightest hope of enjoying,
at some time or other, even in the most remote posterity, the benefit of
this monastic foundation, felt this disappointment of their distant
expectations as much as if they had suffered an actual injury, and the
wrongs of a few abbot-prelates became the concern of a whole nation.

Historians have not omitted to record the covert proceedings of William
of Orange during this general commotion, who labored to conduct to one
end these various and conflicting passions. At his instigation the
people of Brabant petitioned the regent for an advocate and protector,
since they alone, of all his Flemish subjects, had the misfortune to
unite, in one and the same person, their counsel and their ruler. Had
the demand been granted, their choice could fall on no other than the
Prince of Orange. But Granvella, with his usual presence of mind, broke
through the snare. "The man who receives this office," he declared in
the state council, "will, I hope, see that he divides Brabant with the
king!"  The long delay of the papal bull, which was kept back by a
misunderstanding between the Romish and Spanish courts, gave the
disaffected an opportunity to combine for a common object. In perfect
secrecy the states of Brabant despatched an extraordinary messenger to
Pins IV. to urge their wishes in Rome itself. The ambassador was
provided with important letters of recommendation from the Prince of
Orange, and carried with him considerable sums to pave his way to the
father of the church. At the same time a public letter was forwarded
from the city of Antwerp to the King of Spain containing the most urgent
representations, and supplicating him to spare that flourishing
commercial town from the threatened innovation. They knew, it was
stated, that the intentions of the monarch were the best, and that the
institution of the new bishops was likely to be highly conducive to the
maintenance of true religion; but the foreigners could not be convinced
of this, and on them depended the prosperity of their town. Among them
the most groundless rumors would be as perilous as the most true. The
first embassy was discovered in time, and its object disappointed by the
prudence of the regent; by the second the town of Antwerp gained so far
its point that it was to remain without a bishop, at least until the
personal arrival of the king, which was talked of.

The example and success of Antwerp gave the signal of opposition to all
the other towns for which a new bishop was intended. It is a remarkable
proof of the hatred to the Inquisition and the unanimity of the Flemish
towns at this date that they preferred to renounce all the advantages
which the residence of a bishop would necessarily bring to their local
trade rather than by their consent promote that abhorred tribunal, and
thus act in opposition to the interests of the whole nation. Deventer,
Ruremond, and Leuwarden placed themselves in determined opposition, and
(1561) successfully carried their point; in the other towns the bishops
were, in spite of all remonstrances, forcibly inducted. Utrecht,
Haarlem, St. Omer, and Middelburg were among the first which opened
their gates to them; the remaining towns followed their example; but in
Malines and Herzogenbusch the bishops were received with very little
respect. When Granvella made his solemn entry into the former town not
a single nobleman showed himself, and his triumph was wanting in
everything that could make it real, because those remained away over
whom it was meant to be celebrated.

In the meantime, too, the period had elapsed within which the Spanish
troops were to have left the country, and as yet there was no appearance
of their being withdrawn. People perceived with terror the real cause
of the delay, and suspicion lent it a fatal connection with the
Inquisition. The detention of these troops, as it rendered the nation
more vigilant and distrustful, made it more difficult for the minister
to proceed with the other innovations, and yet he would fain not deprive
himself of this powerful and apparently indispensable aid in a country
where all hated him, and in the execution of a commission to which all
were opposed. At last, however, the regent saw herself compelled by the
universal murmurs of discontent, to urge most earnestly upon the king
the necessity of the withdrawal of the troops. "The provinces," she
writes to Madrid, "have unanimously declared that they would never again
be induced to grant the extraordinary taxes required by the government
as long as word was not kept with them in this matter. The danger of a
revolt was far more imminent than that of an attack by the French
Protestants, and if a rebellion was to take place in the Netherlands
these forces would be too weak to repress it, and there was not
sufficient money in the treasury to enlist new." By delaying his answer
the king still sought at least to gain time, and the reiterated
representations of the regent would still have remained ineffectual, if,
fortunately for the provinces, a loss which he had lately suffered from
the Turks had not compelled him to employ these troops in the
Mediterranean. He, therefore, at last consented to their departure:
they were embarked in 1561 in Zealand, and the exulting shouts of all
the provinces accompanied their departure.

Meanwhile Granvella ruled in the council of state almost uncontrolled.
All offices, secular and spiritual, were given away through him; his
opinion prevailed against the unanimous voice of the whole assembly.
The regent herself was governed by him. He had contrived to manage so
that her appointment was made out for two years only, and by this
expedient he kept her always in his power. It seldom happened that any
important affair was submitted to the other members, and if it really
did occur it was only such as had been long before decided, to which it
was only necessary for formality's sake to gain their sanction.
Whenever a royal letter was read Viglius received instructions to omit
all such passages as were underlined by the minister. It often happened
that this correspondence with Spain laid open the weakness of the
government, or the anxiety felt by the regent, with which it was not
expedient to inform the members, whose loyalty was distrusted. If again
it occurred that the opposition gained a majority over the minister, and
insisted with determination on an article which he could not well put
off any longer, he sent it to the ministry at Madrid for their decision,
by which he at least gained time, and in any case was certain to find
support.--With the exception of the Count of Barlaimont, the President
Viglius, and a few others, all the other counsellors were but
superfluous figures in the senate, and the minister's behavior to them
marked the small value which he placed upon their friendship and
adherence. No wonder that men whose pride had been so greatly indulged
by the flattering attentions of sovereign princes, and to whom, as to
the idols of their country, their fellow-citizens paid the most
reverential submission, should be highly indignant at this arrogance of
a plebeian. Many of them had been personally insulted by Granvella.

The Prince of Orange was well aware that it was he who had prevented his
marriage with the Princess of Lorraine, and that he had also endeavored
to break off the negotiations for another alliance with the Princess of
Savoy. He had deprived Count Horn of the government of Gueldres and
Zutphen, and had kept for himself an abbey which Count Egmont had in
vain exerted himself to obtain for a relation. Confident of his
superior power, he did not even think it worth while to conceal from the
nobility his contempt for them, and which, as a rule, marked his whole
administration; William of Orange was the only one with whom he deemed
it advisable to dissemble. Although he really believed himself to be
raised far above all the laws of fear and decorum, still in this point,
however, his confident arrogance misled him, and he erred no less
against policy than he shined against propriety. In the existing
posture of affairs the government could hardly have adopted a worse
measure than that of throwing disrespect on the nobility. It had it in
its power to flatter the prejudices and feelings of the aristocracy, and
thus artfully and imperceptibly win them over to its plans, and through
them subvert the edifice of national liberty. Now it admonished them,
most inopportunely, of their duties, their dignity, and their power;
calling upon them even to be patriots, and to devote to the cause of
true greatness an ambition which hitherto it had inconsiderately
repelled. To carry into effect the ordinances it required the active
co-operation of the lieutenant-governors; no wonder, however, that the
latter showed but little zeal to afford this assistance. On the
contrary, it is highly probable that they silently labored to augment
the difficulties of the minister, and to subvert his measures, and
through his ill-success to diminish the king's confidence in him, and
expose his administration to contempt. The rapid progress which in
spite of those horrible edicts the Reformation made during Granvella's
administration in the Netherlands, is evidently to be ascribed to the
lukewarmness of the nobility in opposing it. If the minister had been
sure of the nobles he might have despised the fury of the mob, which
would have impotently dashed itself against the dreaded barriers of the
throne. The sufferings of the citizens lingered long in tears and
sighs, until the arts and the example of the nobility called forth a
louder expression of them.

Meanwhile the inquisitions into religion were carried on with renewed
vigor by the crowd of new laborers (1561, 1562), and the edicts against
heretics were enforced with fearful obedience. But the critical moment
when this detestable remedy might have been applied was allowed to pass
by; the nation had become too strong and vigorous for such rough
treatment. The new religion could now be extirpated only by the death
of all its professors. The present executions were but so many alluring
exhibitions of its excellence, so many scenes of its triumphs and
radiant virtue. The heroic greatness with which the victims died made
converts to the opinions for which they perished. One martyr gained ten
new proselytes. Not in towns only, or villages, but on the very
highways, in the boats and public carriages disputes were held touching
the dignity of the pope, the saints, purgatory, and indulgences, and
sermons were preached and men converted. From the country and from the
towns the common people rushed in crowds to rescue the prisoners of the
Holy Tribunal from the hands of its satellites, and the municipal
officers who ventured to support it with the civil forces were pelted
with stones. Multitudes accompanied the Protestant preachers whom the
Inquisition pursued, bore them on their shoulders to and from church,
and at the risk of their lives concealed them from their persecutors.
The first province which was seized with the fanatical spirit of
rebellion was, as had been expected, Walloon Flanders. A French
Calvinist, by name Lannoi, set himself up in Tournay as a worker of
miracles, where he hired a few women to simulate diseases, and to
pretend to be cured by him. He preached in the woods near the town,
drew the people in great numbers after him, and scattered in their minds
the seeds of rebellion. Similar teachers appeared in Lille and
Valenciennes, but in the latter place the municipal functionaries
succeeded in seizing the persons of these incendiaries; while, however,
they delayed to execute them their followers increased so rapidly that
they became sufficiently strong to break open the prisons and forcibly
deprive justice of its victims. Troops at last were brought into the
town and order restored. But this trifling occurrence had for a moment
withdrawn the veil which had hitherto concealed the strength of the
Protestant party, and allowed the minister to compute their prodigious
numbers. In Tournay alone five thousand at one time had been seen
attending the sermons, and not many less in Valenciennes. What might
not be expected from the northern provinces, where liberty was greater,
and the seat of government more remote, and where the vicinity of
Germany and Denmark multiplied the sources of contagion? One slight
provocation had sufficed to draw from its concealment so formidable a
multitude. How much greater was, perhaps, the number of those who in
their hearts acknowledged the new sect, and only waited for a favorable
opportunity to publish their adhesion to it. This discovery greatly
alarmed the regent. The scanty obedience paid to the edicts, the wants
of the exhausted treasury, which compelled her to impose new taxes, and
the suspicious movements of the Huguenots on the French frontiers still
further increased her anxiety. At the same time she received a command
from Madrid to send off two thousand Flemish cavalry to the army of the
Queen Mother in France, who, in the distresses of the civil war, had
recourse to Philip II. for assistance. Every affair of faith, in
whatever land it might be, was made by Philip his own business. He felt
it as keenly as any catastrophe which could befall his own house, and in
such cases always stood ready to sacrifice his means to foreign
necessities. If it were interested motives that here swayed him they
were at least kingly and grand, and the bold support of his principles
wins our admiration as much as their cruelty withholds our esteem.

The regent laid before the council of state the royal will on the
subject of these troops, but with a very warm opposition on the part of
the nobility. Count Egmont and the Prince of Orange declared that the
time was illchosen for stripping the Netherlands of troops, when the
aspect of affairs rendered rather the enlistment of new levies
advisable. The movements of the troops in France momentarily threatened
a surprise, and the commotions within the provinces demanded, more than
ever, the utmost vigilance on the part of the government. Hitherto,
they said, the German Protestants had looked idly on during the
struggles of their brethren in the faith; but will they continue to do
so, especially when we are lending our aid to strengthen their enemy?
By thus acting shall we not rouse their vengeance against us, and call
their arms into the northern Netherlands? Nearly the whole council of
state joined in this opinion; their representations were energetic and
not to be gainsaid. The regent herself, as well as the minister, could
not but feel their truth, and their own interests appeared to forbid
obedience to the royal mandate. Would it not be impolitic to withdraw
from the Inquisition its sole prop by removing the larger portion of the
army, and in a rebellious country to leave themselves without defence,
dependent on the arbitrary will of an arrogant aristocracy? While the
regent, divided between the royal commands, the urgent importunity of
her council, and her own fears, could not venture to come to a decision,
William of Orange rose and proposed the assembling of the States
General. But nothing could have inflicted a more fatal blow on the
supremacy of the crown than by yielding to this advice to put the nation
in mind of its power and its rights. No measure could be more hazardous
at the present moment. The danger which was thus gathering over the
minister did not escape him; a sign from him warned the regent to break
off the consultation and adjourn the council. "The government," he
writes to Madrid, "can do nothing more injurious to itself than to
consent to the assembling of the states. Such a step is at all times
perilous, because it tempts the nation to test and restrict the rights
of the crown; but it is many times more objectionable at the present
moment, when the spirit of rebellion is already widely spread amongst
us; when the abbots, exasperated at the loss of their income, will
neglect nothing to impair the dignity of the bishops; when the whole
nobility and all the deputies from the towns are led by the arts of the
Prince of Orange, and the disaffected can securely reckon on the
assistance of the nation." This representation, which at least was not
wanting in sound sense, did not fail in having the desired effect on the
king's mind. The assembling of the states was rejected once and
forever, the penal statutes against the heretics were renewed in all
their rigor, and the regent was directed to hasten the despatch of the
required auxiliaries.

But to this the council of state would not consent. All that she
obtained was, instead of the troops, a supply of money for the Queen
Mother, which at this crisis was still more welcome to her. In place,
however, of assembling the states, and in order to beguile the nation
with, at least, the semblance of republican freedom, the regent summoned
the governors of the provinces and the knights of the Golden Fleece to a
special congress at Brussels, to consult on the present dangers and
necessities of the state. When the President, Viglius, had laid before
them the matters on which they were summoned to deliberate, three days
were given to them for consideration. During this time the Prince of
Orange assembled them in his palace, where he represented to them the
necessity of coming to some unanimous resolution before the next
sitting, and of agreeing on the measures which ought to be followed in
the present dangerous state of affairs.

The majority assented to the propriety of this course; only Barlaimont,
with a few of the dependents of the cardinal, had the courage to plead
for the interests of the crown and of the minister. "It did not behoove
them," he said, "to interfere in the concerns of the government, and
this previous agreement of votes was an illegal and culpable assumption,
in the guilt of which he would not participate;"--a declaration which
broke up the meeting without any conclusion being come to. The regent,
apprised of it by the Count Barlaimont, artfully contrived to keep the
knights so well employed during their stay in the town that they could
find no time for coming to any further secret understanding; in this
session, however, it was arranged, with their concurrence, that Florence
of Montmorency, Lord of Montigny, should make a journey to Spain, in
order to acquaint the king with the present posture of affairs. But the
regent sent before him another messenger to Madrid, who previously
informed the king of all that had been debated between the Prince of
Orange and the knights at the secret conference.

The Flemish ambassador was flattered in Madrid with empty protestations
of the king's favor and paternal sentiments towards the Netherlands,
while the regent was commanded to thwart, to the utmost of her power,
the secret combinations of the nobility, and, if possible, to sow
discord among their most eminent members. Jealousy, private interest,
and religious differences had long divided many of the nobles; their
share in the common neglect and contempt with which they were treated,
and a general hatred of the minister had again united them. So long as
Count Egmont and the Prince of Orange were suitors for the regency it
could not fail but that at times their competing claims should have
brought them into collision. Both had met each other on the road to
glory and before the throne; both again met in the republic, where they
strove for the same prize, the favor of their fellow-citizens. Such
opposite characters soon became estranged, but the powerful sympathy of
necessity as quickly reconciled them. Each was now indispensable to the
other, and the emergency united these two men together with a bond which
their hearts would never have furnished. But it was on this very
uncongeniality of disposition that the regent based her plans; if she
could fortunately succeed in separating them she would at the same time
divide the whole Flemish nobility into two parties. Through the
presents and small attentions by which she exclusively honored these
two she also sought to excite against them the envy and distrust of the
rest, and by appearing to give Count Egmont a preference over the Prince
of Orange she hoped to make the latter suspicious of Egmont's good
faith. It happened that at this very time she was obliged to send an
extraordinary ambassador to Frankfort, to be present at the election of
a Roman emperor. She chose for this office the Duke of Arschot, the
avowed enemy of the prince, in order in some degree to show in his case
how splendid was the reward which hatred against the latter might look
for. The Orange faction, however, instead of suffering any diminution,
had gained an important accession in Count Horn, who, as admiral of the
Flemish marine, had convoyed the king to Biscay, and now again took his
seat in the council of state. Horn's restless and republican spirit
readily met the daring schemes of Orange and Egmont, and a dangerous
Triumvirate was soon formed by these three friends, which shook the
royal power in the Netherlands, but which terminated very differently
for each of its members.


(1562.) Meanwhile Montigny had returned from his embassy, and brought
back to the council of state the most gracious assurance of the monarch.
But the Prince of Orange had, through his own secret channels of
intelligence, received more credible information from Madrid, which
entirely contradicted this report. By these means be learnt all the ill
services which Granvella had done him and his friends with the king, and
the odious appellations which were there applied to the Flemish
nobility. There was no help for them so long as the minister retained
the helm of government, and to procure his dismissal was the scheme,
however rash and adventurous it appeared, which wholly occupied the mind
of the prince. It was agreed between him and Counts Horn and Egmont to
despatch a joint letter to the king, and, in the name of the whole
nobility, formally to accuse the minister, and press energetically for
his removal. The Duke of Arschot, to whom this proposition was
communicated by Count Egmont, refused to concur in it, haughtily
declaring that he was not disposed to receive laws from Egmont and
Orange; that he had no cause of complaint against Granvella, and that he
thought it very presumptuous to prescribe to the king what ministers he
ought to employ. Orange received a similar answer from the Count of
Aremberg. Either the seeds of distrust which the regent had scattered
amongst the nobility had already taken root, or the fear of the
minister's power outweighed the abhorrence of his measures; at any rate,
the whole nobility shrunk back timidly and irresolutely from the
proposal. This disappointment did not, however, discourage them. The
letter was written and subscribed by all three (1563).

In it Granvella was represented as the prime cause of all the disorders
in the Netherlands. So long as the highest power should be entrusted to
him it would, they declared, be impossible for them to serve the nation
and king effectually; on the other hand, all would revert to its former
tranquillity, all opposition be discontinued, and the government regain
the affections of the people as soon as his majesty should be pleased to
remove this man from the helm of the state. In that case, they added,
neither exertion nor zeal would be wanting on their part to maintain in
these countries the dignity of the king and the purity of the faith,
which was no less sacred to them than to the cardinal, Granvella.

Secretly as this letter was prepared still the duchess was informed of
it in sufficient time to anticipate it by another despatch, and to
counteract the effect which it might have had on the king's mind. Some
months passed ere an answer came from Madrid. It was mild, but vague.
"The king," such was its import, "was not used to condemn his ministers
unheard on the mere accusations of their enemies. Common justice alone
required that the accusers of the cardinal should descend from general
imputations to special proofs, and if they were not inclined to do this
in writing, one of them might come to Spain, where he should be treated
with all respect." Besides this letter, which was equally directed to
all three, Count Egmont further received an autograph letter from the
king, wherein his majesty expressed a wish to learn from him in
particular what in the common letter had been only generally touched
upon. The regent, also, was specially instructed how she was to answer
the three collectively, and the count singly. The king knew his man.
He felt it was easy to manage Count Egmont alone; for this reason he
sought to entice him to Madrid, where he would be removed from the
commanding guidance of a higher intellect. In distinguishing him above
his two friends by so flattering a mark of his confidence, he made a
difference in the relation in which they severally stood to the throne;
how could they, then, unite with equal zeal for the same object when the
inducements were no longer the same? This time, indeed, the vigilance
of Orange frustrated the scheme; but the sequel of the history will show
that the seed which was now scattered was not altogether lost.


(1563.) The king's answer gave no satisfaction to the three
confederates; they boldly determined to venture a second attempt. "It
had," they wrote, "surprised them not a little, that his majesty had
thought their representations so unworthy of attention. It was not as
accusers of the minister, but as counsellors of his majesty, whose duty
it was to inform their master of the condition of his states, that they
had despatched that letter to him. They sought not the ruin of the
minister, indeed it would gratify them to see him contented and happy in
any other part of the world than here in the Netherlands. They were,
however, fully persuaded of this, that his continued presence there was
absolutely incompatible with the general tranquillity. The present
dangerous condition of their native country would allow none of them to
leave it, much less to take so long a journey as to Spain on Granvella's
account. If, therefore, his majesty did not please to comply with their
written request, they hoped to be excused for the future from attendance
in the senate, where they were only exposed to the mortification of
meeting the minister, and where they could be of no service either to
the king or the state, but only appeared contemptible in their own
sight. In conclusion, they begged his majesty would not take ill the
plain simplicity of their language, since persons of their character set
more value on acting well than on speaking finely." To the same purport
was a separate letter from Count Egmont, in which he returned thanks for
the royal autograph. This second address was followed by an answer to
the effect that "their representations should be taken into
consideration, meanwhile they were requested to attend the council of
state as heretofore."

It was evident that the monarch was far from intending to grant their
request; they, therefore, from this tune forth absented themselves from
the state council, and even left Brussels. Not having succeeded in
removing the minister by lawful means they sought to accomplish this end
by a new mode from which more might be expected. On every occasion they
and their adherents openly showed the contempt which they felt for him,
and contrived to throw ridicule on everything he undertook. By this
contemptuous treatment they hoped to harass the haughty spirit of the
priest, and to obtain through his mortified self-love what they had
failed in by other means. In this, indeed, they did not succeed; but
the expedient on which they had fallen led in the end to the ruin of the
minister.

The popular voice was raised more loudly against him so soon as it was
perceived that he had forfeited the good opinion of the nobles, and that
men whose sentiments they had been used blindly to echo preceded them in
detestation of him. The contemptuous manner in which the nobility now
treated him devoted him in a measure to the general scorn and emboldened
calumny which never spares even what is holiest and purest, to lay its
sacrilegious hand on his honor. The new constitution of the church,
which was the great grievance of the nation, had been the basis of his
fortunes. This was a crime that could not be forgiven. Every fresh
execution--and with such spectacles the activity of the inquisitors was
only too liberal--kept alive and furnished dreadful exercise to the
bitter animosity against him, and at last custom and usage inscribed his
name on every act of oppression. A stranger in a land into which he had
been introduced against its will; alone among millions of enemies;
uncertain of all his tools; supported only by the weak arm of distant
royalty; maintaining his intercourse with the nation, which he had to
gain, only by means of faithless instruments, all of whom made it their
highest object to falsify his actions and misrepresent his motives;
lastly, with a woman for his coadjutor who could not share with him the
burden of the general execration--thus he stood exposed to the
wantonness, the ingratitude, the faction, the envy, and all the evil
passions of a licentious, insubordinate people. It is worthy of remark
that the hatred which he had incurred far outran the demerits which
could be laid to his charge; that it was difficult, nay impossible, for
his accusers to substantiate by proof the general condemnation which
fell upon him from all sides. Before and after him fanaticism dragged
its victims to the altar; before and after him civil blood flowed, the
rights of men were made a mock of, and men themselves rendered wretched.
Under Charles V. tyranny ought to have pained more acutely through its
novelty; under the Duke of Alva it was carried to far more unnatural
lengths, insomuch that Granvella's administration, in comparison with
that of his successor, was even merciful; and yet we do not find that
his contemporaries ever evinced the same degree of personal exasperation
and spite against the latter in which they indulged against his
predecessor. To cloak the meanness of his birth in the splendor of high
dignities, and by an exalted station to place him if possible above the
malice of his enemies, the regent had made interest at Rome to procure
for him the cardinal's hat; but this very honor, which connected him
more closely with the papal court, made him so much the more an alien in
the provinces. The purple was a new crime in Brussels, and an
obnoxious, detested garb, which in a measure publicly held forth to view
the principles on which his future conduct would be governed. Neither
his honorable rank, which alone often consecrates the most infamous
caitiff, nor his talents, which commanded esteem, nor even his terrible
omnipotence, which daily revealed itself in so many bloody
manifestations, could screen him from derision. Terror and scorn, the
fearful and the ludicrous, were in his instance unnaturally blended.

   [The nobility, at the suggestion of Count Egmont, caused their
   servants to wear a common livery, on which was embroidered a fool's
   cap. All Brussels interpreted it for the cardinal's hat, and every
   appearance of such a servant renewed their laughter; this badge of
   a fool's cap, which was offensive to the court, was subsequently
   changed into a bundle of arrows--an accidental jest which took a
   very serious end, and probably was the origin of the arms of the
   republic. Vit. Vigl. T. II. 35 Thuan. 489. The respect for the
   cardinal sunk at last so low that a caricature was publicly placed
   in his own hand, in which he was represented seated on a heap of
   eggs, out of which bishops were crawling. Over him hovered a devil
   with the inscription--"This is my son, hear ye him!"]

Odious rumors branded his honor; murderous attempts on the lives of
Egmont and Orange were ascribed to him; the most incredible things found
credence; the most monstrous, if they referred to him or were said to
emanate from him, surprised no longer. The nation had already become
uncivilized to that degree where the most contradictory sentiments
prevail side by side, and the finer boundary lines of decorum and moral
feeling are erased. This belief in extraordinary crimes is almost
invariably their immediate precursor.

But with this gloomy prospect the strange destiny of this man opens at
the same time a grander view, which impresses the unprejudiced observer
with pleasure and admiration. Here he beholds a nation dazzled by no
splendor, and restrained by no fear, firmly, inexorably, and
unpremeditatedly unanimous in punishing the crime which had been
committed against its dignity by the violent introduction of a stranger
into the heart of its political constitution. We see him ever aloof and
ever isolated, like a foreign hostile body hovering over a surface which
repels its contact. The strong hand itself of the monarch, who was.
his friend and protector, could not support him against the antipathies
of the nation which had once resolved to withhold from him all its
sympathy. The voice of national hatred was all powerful, and was ready
to forego even private interest, its certain gains; his alms even were
shunned, like the fruit of an accursed tree. Like pestilential vapor,
the infamy of universal reprobation hung over him. In his case
gratitude believed itself absolved from its duties; his adherents
shunned him; his friends were dumb in his behalf. So terribly did the
people avenge the insulted majesty of their nobles and their nation on
the greatest monarch of the earth.

History has repeated this memorable example only once, in Cardinal
Mazarin; but the instance differed according to the spirit of the two
periods and nations. The highest power could not protect either from
derision; but if France found vent for its indignation in laughing at
its pantaloon, the Netherlands hurried from scorn to rebellion. The
former, after a long bondage under the vigorous administration of
Richelieu, saw itself placed suddenly in unwonted liberty; the latter
had passed from ancient hereditary freedom into strange and unusual
servitude; it was as natural that the Fronde should end again in
subjection as that the Belgian troubles should issue in republican
independence. The revolt of the Parisians was the offspring of poverty;
unbridled, but not bold, arrogant, but without energy, base and
plebeian, like the source from which it sprang. The murmur of the
Netherlands was the proud and powerful voice of wealth. Licentiousness
and hunger inspired the former; revenge, life, property, and religion
were the animating motives of the latter. Rapacity was Mazarin's spring
of action; Granvella's lust of power. The former was humane and mild;
the latter harsh, imperious, cruel. The French minister sought in the
favor of his queen an asylum from the hatred of the magnates and the
fury of the people; the Netherlandish minister provoked the hatred of a
whole nation in order to please one man. Against Mazarin were only a
few factions and the mob they could arm; an entire and united nation
against Granvella. Under the former parliament attempted to obtain,
by stealth, a power which did not belong to them; under the latter it
struggled for a lawful authority which he insidiously had endeavored to
wrest from them. The former had to contend with the princes of the
blood and the peers of the realm, as the latter had with the native
nobility and the states, but instead of endeavoring, like the former, to
overthrow the common enemy, in the hope of stepping themselves into his
place, the latter wished to destroy the place itself, and to divide a
power which no single man ought to possess entire.

While these feelings were spreading among the people the influence of
the minister at the court of the regent began to totter. The repeated
complaints against the extent of his power must at last have made her
sensible how little faith was placed in her own; perhaps, too, she began
to fear that the universal abhorrence which attached to him would soon
include herself also, or that his longer stay would inevitably provoke
the menaced revolt. Long intercourse with him, his instruction and
example, had qualified her to govern without him. His dignity began to
be more oppressive to her as he became less necessary, and his faults,
to which her friendship had hitherto lent a veil, became visible as it
was withdrawn. She was now as much disposed to search out and enumerate
these faults as she formerly had been to conceal them. In this
unfavorable state of her feelings towards the cardinal the urgent and
accumulated representations of the nobles began at last to find access
to her mind, and the more easily, as they contrived to mix up her own
fears with their own. "It was matter of great astonishment," said Count
Egmont to her, "that to gratify a man who was not even a Fleming, and of
whom, therefore, it must be well known that his happiness could not be
dependent on the prosperity of this country, the king could be content
to see all his Netherlandish subjects suffer, and this to please a
foreigner, who if his birth made him a subject of the Emperor, the
purple had made a creature of the court of Rome." "To the king alone,"
added the count, "was Granvella indebted for his being still among the
living; for the future, however, he would leave that care of him to the
regent, and he hereby gave her warning." As the majority of the nobles,
disgusted with the contemptuous treatment which they met with in the
council of state, gradually withdrew from it, the arbitrary proceedings
of the minister lost the last semblance of republican deliberation which
had hitherto softened the odious aspect, and the empty desolation of
the council chamber made his domineering rule appear in all its
obnoxiousness. The regent now felt that she had a master over her,
and from that moment the banishment of the minister was decided upon.

With this object she despatched her private secretary, Thomas
Armenteros, to Spain, to acquaint the king with the circumstances in
which the cardinal was placed, to apprise him of the intimations she had
received of the intentions of the nobles, and in this manner to cause
the resolution for his recall to appear to emanate from the king
himself. What she did not like to trust to a letter Armenteros was
ordered ingeniously to interweave in the oral communication which the
king would probably require from him. Armenteros fulfilled his
commission with all the ability of a consummate courtier; but an
audience of four hours could not overthrow the work of many years, nor
destroy in Philip's mind his opinion of his minister, which was there
unalterably established. Long did the monarch hold counsel with his
policy and his interest, until Granvella himself came to the aid of his
wavering resolution and voluntarily solicited a dismissal, which, he
feared, could not much longer be deferred. What the detestation of all
the Netherlands could not effect the contemptuous treatment of the
nobility accomplished; he was at last weary of a power which was no
longer feared, and exposed him less to envy than to infamy.

Perhaps as some have believed he trembled for his life, which was
certainly in more than imaginary danger; perhaps he wished to receive
his dismissal from the king under the shape of a boon rather than of a
sentence, and after the example of the Romans meet with dignity a fate
which he could no longer avoid. Philip too, it would appear, preferred
generously to accord to the nation a request rather than to yield at a
later period to a demand, and hoped at least to merit their thanks by
voluntarily conceding now what necessity would ere long extort. His
fears prevailed over his obstinacy, and prudence overcame pride.

Granvella doubted not for a moment what the decision of the king would
be. A few days after the return of Armenteros he saw humility and
flattery disappear from the few faces which had till then servilely
smiled upon him; the last small crowd of base flatterers and eyeservants
vanished from around his person; his threshold was forsaken; he
perceived that the fructifying warmth of royal favor had left him.

Detraction, which had assailed him during his whole administration, did
not spare him even in the moment of resignation. People did not scruple
to assert that a short time before he laid down his office he had
expressed a wish to be reconciled to the Prince of Orange and Count
Egmont, and even offered, if their forgiveness could be hoped for on no
other terms, to ask pardon of them on his knees. It was base and
contemptible to sully the memory of a great and extraordinary man with
such a charge, but it is still more so to hand it down uncontradicted to
posterity. Granvella submitted to the royal command with a dignified
composure. Already had he written, a few months previously, to the Duke
of Alva in Spain, to prepare him a place of refuge in Madrid, in case of
his having to quit the Netherlands. The latter long bethought himself
whether it was advisable to bring thither so dangerous a rival for the
favor of his king, or to deny so important a friend such a valuable
means of indulging his old hatred of the Flemish nobles. Revenge
prevailed over fear, and he strenuously supported Granvella's request
with the monarch. But his intercession was fruitless. Armenteros had
persuaded the king that the minister's residence in Madrid would only
revive, with increased violence, all the complaints of the Belgian
nation, to which his ministry had been sacrificed; for then, he said, he
would be suspected of poisoning the very source of that power, whose
outlets only he had hitherto been charged with corrupting. He therefore
sent him to Burgundy, his native place, for which a decent pretext
fortunately presented itself. The cardinal gave to his departure from
Brussels the appearance of an unimportant journey, from which he would
return in a few days. At the same time, however, all the state
counsellors, who, under his administration, had voluntarily excluded
themselves from its sittings, received a command from the court to
resume their seats in the senate at Brussels. Although the latter
circumstance made his return not very credible, nevertheless the
remotest possibility of it sobered the triumph which celebrated his
departure. The regent herself appears to have been undecided what to
think about the report; for, in a fresh letter to the king, she repeated
all the representations and arguments which ought to restrain him from
restoring this minister. Granvella himself, in his correspondence with
Barlaimont and Viglius, endeavored to keep alive this rumor, and at
least to alarm with fears, however unsubstantial, the enemies whom he
could no longer punish by his presence. Indeed, the dread of the
influence of this extraordinary man was so exceedingly great that, to
appease it, he was at last driven even from his home and his country.

After the death of Pius IV., Granvella went to Rome, to be present at
the election of a new pope, and at the same time to discharge some
commissions of his master, whose confidence in him remained unshaken.
Soon after, Philip made him viceroy of Naples, where he succumbed to the
seductions of the climate, and the spirit which no vicissitudes could
bend voluptuousness overcame. He was sixty-two years old when the king
allowed him to revisit Spain, where he continued with unlimited powers
to administer the affairs of Italy. A gloomy old age, and the
self-satisfied pride of a sexagenarian administration made him a harsh
and rigid judge of the opinions of others, a slave of custom, and a
tedious panegyrist of past times. But the policy of the closing century
had ceased to be the policy of the opening one. A new and younger
ministry were soon weary of so imperious a superintendent, and Philip
himself began to shun the aged counsellor, who found nothing worthy of
praise but the deeds of his father. Nevertheless, when the conquest of
Portugal called Philip to Lisbon, he confided to the cardinal the care of
his Spanish territories. Finally, on an Italian tour, in the town of
Mantua, in the seventy-third year of his life, Granvella terminated his
long existence in the full enjoyment of his glory, and after possessing
for forty years the uninterrupted confidence of his king.


(1564.) Immediately upon the departure of the minister, all the happy
results which were promised from his withdrawal were fulfilled. The
disaffected nobles resumed their seats in the council, and again devoted
themselves to the affairs of the state with redoubled zeal, in order to
give no room for regret for him whom they had driven away, and to prove,
by the fortunate administration of the state, that his services were not
indispensable. The crowd round the duchess was great. All vied with
one another in readiness, in submission, and zeal in her service; the
hours of night were not allowed to stop the transaction of pressing
business of state; the greatest unanimity existed between the three
councils, the best understanding between the court and the states. From
the obliging temper of the Flemish nobility everything was to be had, as
soon as their pride and self-will was flattered by confidence and
obliging treatment. The regent took advantage of the first joy of the
nation to beguile them into a vote of certain taxes, which, under the
preceding administration, she could not have hoped to extort. In this,
the great credit of the nobility effectually supported her, and she soon
learned from this nation the secret, which had been so often verified in
the German diet--that much must be demanded in order to get a little.

With pleasure did the regent see herself emancipated from her long
thraldom; the emulous industry of the nobility lightened for her the
burden of business, and their insinuating humility allowed her to feel
the full sweetness of power.


(1564). Granvella had been overthrown, but his party still remained.
His policy lived in his creatures, whom he left behind him in the privy
council and in the chamber of finance. Hatred still smouldered amongst
the factious long after the leader was banished, and the names of the
Orange and Royalist parties, of the Patriots and Cardinalists still
continued to divide the senate and to keep up the flames of discord.
Viglius Van Zuichem Van Aytta, president of the privy council, state
counsellor and keeper of the seal, was now looked upon as the most
important person in the senate, and the most powerful prop of the crown
and the tiara. This highly meritorious old man, whom we have to thank
for some valuable contributions towards the history of the rebellion of
the Low Countries, and whose confidential correspondence with his
friends has generally been the guide of our narrative, was one of the
greatest lawyers of his time, as well as a theologian and priest, and
had already, under the Emperor, filled the most important offices.
Familiar intercourse with the learned men who adorned the age, and at
the head of whom stood Erasmus of Rotterdam, combined with frequent
travels in the imperial service, had extended the sphere of his
information and experience, and in many points raised him in his
principles and opinions above his contemporaries. The fame of his
erudition filled the whole century in which he lived, and has handed his
name down to posterity. When, in the year 1548, the connection of the
Netherlands with the German empire was to be settled at the Diet of
Augsburg, Charles V. sent hither this statesman to manage the interests
of the provinces; and his ability principally succeeded in turning the
negotiations to the advantage of the Netherlands. After the death of
the Emperor, Viglius was one of the many eminent ministers bequeathed to
Philip by his father, and one of the few in whom he honored his memory.
The fortune of the minister, Granvella, with whom he was united by the
ties of an early acquaintance, raised him likewise to greatness; but he
did not share the fall of his patron, because he had not participated in
his lust of power; nor, consequently, the hatred which attached to him.
A residence of twenty years in the provinces, where the most important
affairs were entrusted to him, approved loyalty to his king, and zealous
attachment to the Roman Catholic tenets, made him one of the most
distinguished instruments of royalty in the Netherlands.

Viglius was a man of learning, but no thinker; an experienced statesman,
but without an enlightened mind; of an intellect not sufficiently
powerful to break, like his friend Erasmus, the fetters of error, yet
not sufficiently bad to employ it, like his predecessor, Granvella, in
the service of his own passions. Too weak and timid to follow boldly
the guidance of his reason, he preferred trusting to the more convenient
path of conscience; a thing was just so soon as it became his duty; he
belonged to those honest men who are indispensable to bad ones; fraud
reckoned on his honesty. Half a century later he would have received
his immortality from the freedom which he now helped to subvert.
In the privy council at Brussels he was the servant of tyranny; in the
parliament in London, or in the senate at Amsterdam, he would have died,
perhaps, like Thomas More or Olden Barneveldt.

In the Count Barlaimont, the president of the council of finance,
the opposition had a no less formidable antagonist than in Viglius.
Historians have transmitted but little information regarding the
services and the opinions of this man. In the first part of his career
the dazzling greatness of Cardinal Granvella seems to have cast a shade
over him; after the latter had disappeared from the stage the
superiority of the opposite party kept him down, but still the little
that we do find respecting him throws a favorable light over his
character. More than once the Prince of Orange exerted himself to
detach him from the interests of the cardinal, and to join him to his
own party--sufficient proof that he placed a value on the prize. All
his efforts failed, which shows that he had to do with no vacillating
character. More than once we see him alone, of all the members of the
council, stepping forward to oppose the dominant faction, and protecting
against universal opposition the interests of the crown, which were in
momentary peril of being sacrificed. When the Prince of Orange had
assembled the knights of the Golden Fleece in his own palace, with a
view to induce them to come to a preparatory resolution for the
abolition of the Inquisition, Barlaimont was the first to denounce the
illegality of this proceeding and to inform the regent of it. Some time
after the prince asked him if the regent knew of that assembly, and
Barlaitnont hesitated not a moment to avow to him the truth. All the
steps which have been ascribed to him bespeak a man whom neither
influence nor fear could tempt, who, with a firm courage and indomitable
constancy, remained faithful to the party which he had once chosen, but
who, it must at the same time be confessed, entertained too proud and
too despotic notions to have selected any other.

Amongst the adherents of the royal party at Brussels, we have, further,
the names of the Duke of Arschot, the Counts of Mansfeld, Megen, and
Aremberg--all three native Netherlanders; and therefore, as it appeared,
bound equally with the whole Netherlandish nobility to oppose the
hierarchy and the royal power in their native country. So much the more
surprised must we feel at their contrary behavior, and which is indeed
the more remarkable, since we find them on terms of friendship with the
most eminent members of the faction, and anything but insensible to the
common grievances of their country.

But they had not self-confidence or heroism enough to venture on an
unequal contest with so superior an antagonist. With a cowardly
prudence they made their just discontent submit to the stern law of
necessity, and imposed a hard sacrifice on their pride because their
pampered vanity was capable of nothing better. Too thrifty and too
discreet to wish to extort from the justice or the fear of their
sovereign the certain good which they already possessed from his
voluntary generosity, or to resign a real happiness in order to preserve
the shadow of another, they rather employed the propitious moment to
drive a traffic with their constancy, which, from the general defection
of the nobility, had now risen in value. Caring little for true glory,
they allowed their ambition to decide which party they should take; for
the ambition of base minds prefers to bow beneath the hard yoke of
compulsion rather than submit to the gentle sway of a superior
intellect. Small would have been the value of the favor conferred had
they bestowed themselves on the Prince of Orange; but their connection
with royalty made them so much the more formidable as opponents. There
their names would have been lost among his numerous adherents and in the
splendor of their rival. On the almost deserted side of the court their
insignificant merit acquired lustre.

The families of Nassau and Croi (to the latter belonged the Duke of
Arschot) had for several reigns been competitors for influence and
honor, and their rivalry had kept up an old feud between their families,
which religious differences finally made irreconcilable. The house of
Croi from time immemorial had been renowned for its devout and strict
observance of papistic rites and ceremonies; the Counts of Nassau had
gone over to the new sect--sufficient reasons why Philip of Croi, Duke
of Arschot, should prefer a party which placed him the most decidedly in
opposition to the Prince of Orange. The court did not fail to take
advantage of this private feud, and to oppose so important an enemy to
the increasing influence of the house of Nassau in the republic. The
Counts Mansfeld and Megen had till lately been the confidential friends
of Count Egmont. In common with him they had raised their voice against
the minister, had joined him in resisting the Inquisition and the
edicts, and had hitherto held with him as far as honor and duty would
permit. But at these limits the three friends now separated. Egmont's
unsuspecting virtue incessantly hurried him forwards on the road to
ruin; Mansfeld and Megen, admonished of the danger, began in good time
to think of a safe retreat. There still exist letters which were
interchanged between the Counts Egmont and Mansfeld, and which, although
written at a later period, give us a true picture of their former
friendship. "If," replied Count Mansfeld to his friend, who in an
amicable manner had reproved him for his defection to the king, "if
formerly I was of opinion that the general good made the abolition of
the Inquisition, the mitigation of the edicts, and the removal of the
Cardinal Granvella necessary, the king has now acquiesced in this wish
and removed the cause of complaint. We have already done too much
against the majesty of the sovereign and the authority of the church; it
is high time for us to turn, if we would wish to meet the king, when he
comes, with open brow and without anxiety. As regards my own person, I
do not dread his vengeance; with confident courage I would at his first
summons present myself in Spain, and boldly abide my sentence from his
justice and goodness. I do not say this as if I doubted whether Count
Egmont can assert the same, but he will act prudently in looking more
to his own safety, and in removing suspicion from his actions. If I
hear," he says, in conclusion, "that he has allowed my admonitions to
have their due weight, our friendship continues; if not, I feel myself
in that case strong enough to sacrifice all human ties to my duty and to
honor."

The enlarged power of the nobility exposed the republic to almost a
greater evil than that which it had just escaped by the removal of the
minister. Impoverished by long habits of luxury, which at the same time
had relaxed their morals, and to which they were now too much addicted
to be able to renounce them, they yielded to the perilous opportunity of
indulging their ruling inclination, and of again repairing the expiring
lustre of their fortunes. Extravagance brought on the thirst for gain,
and this introduced bribery. Secular and ecclesiastical offices were
publicly put up to sale; posts of honor, privileges, and patents were
sold to the highest bidder; even justice was made a trade. Whom the
privy council had condemned was acquitted by the council of state, and
what the former refused to grant was to be purchased from the latter.
The council of state, indeed, subsequently retorted the charge on the
two other councils, but it forgot that it was its own example that
corrupted them. The shrewdness of rapacity opened new sources of gain.
Life, liberty, and religion were insured for a certain sum, like landed
estates; for gold, murderers and malefactors were free, and the nation
was plundered by a lottery. The servants and creatures of the state,
counsellors and governors of provinces, were, without regard to rank or
merit, pushed into the most important posts; whoever had a petition to
present at court had to make his way through the governors of provinces
and their inferior servants. No artifice of seduction was spared to
implicate in these excesses the private secretary of the duchess, Thomas
Armenteros, a man up to this time of irreproachable character. By
pretended professions of attachment and friendship a successful attempt
was made to gain his confidence, and by luxurious entertainments to
undermine his principles; the seductive example infected his morals, and
new wants overcame his hitherto incorruptible integrity. He was now
blind to abuses in which he was an accomplice, and drew a veil over the
crimes of others in order at the same time to cloak his own. With his
knowledge the royal exchequer was robbed, and the objects of the
government were defeated through a corrupt administration of its
revenues. Meanwhile the regent wandered on in a fond dream of power and
activity, which the flattery of the nobles artfully knew how to foster.
The ambition of the factious played with the foibles of a woman, and
with empty signs and an humble show of submission purchased real power
from her. She soon belonged entirely to the faction, and had
imperceptibly changed her principles. Diametrically opposing all her
former proceedings, even in direct violation of her duty, she now
brought before the council of state, which was swayed by the faction,
not only questions which belonged to the other councils, but also the
suggestions which Viglius had made to her in private, in the same way as
formerly, under Granvella's administration, she had improperly neglected
to consult it at all. Nearly all business and all influence were now
diverted to the governors of provinces. All petitions were directed to
them, by them all lucrative appointments were bestowed. Their
usurpations were indeed carried so far that law proceedings were
withdrawn from the municipal authorities of the towns and brought before
their own tribunals. The respectability of the provincial courts
decreased as theirs extended, and with the respectability of the
municipal functionaries the administration of justice and civil order
declined. The smaller courts soon followed the example of the
government of the country. The spirit which ruled the council of state
at Brussels soon diffused itself through the provinces. Bribery,
indulgences, robbery, venality of justice, were universal in the courts
of judicature of the country; morals degenerated, and the new sects
availed themselves of this all-pervading licentiousness to propagate
their opinions. The religious indifference or toleration of the nobles,
who, either themselves inclined to the side of the innovators, or, at
least, detested the Inquisition as an instrument of despotism, had
mitigated the rigor of the religious edicts, and through the letters of
indemnity, which were bestowed on many Protestants, the holy office was
deprived of its best victims. In no way could the nobility more
agreeably announce to the nation its present share in the government of
the country than by sacrificing to it the hated tribunal of the
Inquisition--and to this inclination impelled them still more than the
dictates of policy. The nation passed in a moment from the most
oppressive constraint of intolerance into a state of freedom, to which,
however, it had already become too unaccustomed to support it with
moderation. The inquisitors, deprived of the support of the municipal
authorities, found themselves an object of derision rather than of fear.
In Bruges the town council caused even some of their own servants to be
placed in confinement, and kept on bread and water, for attempting to
lay hands upon a supposed heretic. About this very time the mob in
Antwerp, having made a futile, attempt to rescue a person charged with
heresy from the holy office, there was placarded in the public
market-place an inscription, written in blood, to the effect that a
number of persons had bound themselves by oath to avenge the death of
that innocent person.

From the corruption which pervaded the whole council of state, the privy
council, and the chamber of finance, in which Viglius and Barlaimont
were presidents, had as yet, for the most part, kept themselves pure.

As the faction could not succeed in insinuating their adherents into
those two councils the only course open to them was, if possible, to
render both inefficient, and to transfer their business to the council
of state. To carry out this design the Prince of Orange sought to
secure the co-operation of the other state counsellors. "They were
called, indeed, senators," he frequently declared to his adherents, "but
others possessed the power. If gold was wanted to pay the troops, or
when the question was how the spreading heresy was to be repressed, or
the people kept in order, then they were consulted; although in fact
they were the guardians neither of the treasury nor of the laws, but
only the organs through which the other two councils operated on the
state. And yet alone they were equal to the whole administration of the
country, which had been uselessly portioned out amongst three separate
chambers. If they would among themselves only agree to reunite to the
council of state these two important branches of government, which had
been dissevered from it, one soul might animate the whole body." A plan
was preliminarily and secretly agreed on, in accordance with which
twelve new Knights of the Fleece were to be added to the council of
state, the administration of justice restored to the tribunal at
Malines, to which it originally belonged, the granting of letters of
grace, patents, and so forth, assigned to the president, Viglius, while
the management of the finances should be committed to it. All the
difficulties, indeed, which the distrust of the court and its jealousy
of the increasing power of the nobility would oppose to this innovation
were foreseen and provided against. In order to constrain the regent's
assent, some of the principal officers of the army were put forward as a
cloak, who were to annoy the court at Brussels with boisterous demands
for their arrears of pay, and in case of refusal to threaten a
rebellion. It was also contrived to have the regent assailed with
numerous petitions and memorials complaining of the delays of justice,
and exaggerating the danger which was to be apprehended from the daily
growth of heresy. Nothing was omitted to darken the picture of the
disorganized state of society, of the abuse of justice, and of the
deficiency in the finances, which was made so alarming that she awoke
with terror from the delusion of prosperity in which she had hitherto
cradled herself. She called the three councils together to consult them
on the means by which these disorders were to be remedied. The majority
was in favor of sending an extraordinary ambassador to Spain, who by a
circumstantial and vivid delineation should make the king acquainted
with the true position of affairs, and if possible prevail on him to
adopt efficient measures of reform. This proposition was opposed by
Viglius, who, however, had not the slighest suspicion of the secret
designs of the faction. "The evil complained of," he said, "is
undoubtedly great, and one which can no longer be neglected with
impunity, but it is not irremediable by ourselves. The administration
of justice is certainly crippled, but the blame of this lies with the
nobles themselves; by their contemptuous treatment they have thrown
discredit on the municipal authorities, who, moreover, are very
inadequately supported by the governors of provinces. If heresy is on
the increase it is because the secular arm has deserted the spiritual
judges, and because the lower orders, following the example of the
nobles, have thrown off all respect for those in authority. The
provinces are undoubtedly oppressed by a heavy debt, but it has not been
accumulated, as alleged, by any malversation of the revenues, but by the
expenses of former wars and the king's present exigences; still wise and
prudent measures of finance might in a short time remove the burden. If
the council of state would not be so profuse of its indulgences, its
charters of immunity, and its exemptions; if it would commence the
reformation of morals with itself, show greater respect to the laws, and
do what lies in its power to restore to the municipal functionaries
their former consideration; in short, if the councils and the governors
of provinces would only fulfil their own duties the present grounds of
complaint would soon be removed. Why, then, send an ambassador to
Spain, when as yet nothing has occurred to justify so extraordinary an
expedient? If, however, the council thinks otherwise, he would not
oppose the general voice; only he must make it a condition of his
concurrence that the principal instruction of the envoy should be to
entreat the king to make them a speedy visit."

There was but one voice as to the choice of an envoy. Of all the
Flemish nobles Count Egmont was the only one whose appointment would
give equal satisfaction to both parties. His hatred of the Inquisition,
his patriotic and liberal sentiments, and the unblemished integrity of
his character, gave to the republic sufficient surety for his conduct,
while for the reasons already mentioned he could not fail to be welcome
to the king. Moreover, Egmont's personal figure and demeanor were
calculated on his first appearance to make that favorable impression
which goes co far towards winning the hearts of princes; and his
engaging carriage would come to the aid of his eloquence, and enforce
his petition with those persuasive arts which are indispensable to the
success of even the most trifling suits to royalty. Egmont himself,
too, wished for the embassy, as it would afford him the opportunity of
adjusting, personally, matters with his sovereign.

About this time the Council, or rather synod, of Trent closed its
sittings, and published its decrees to the whole of Christendom. But
these canons, far from accomplishing the object for which the synod was
originally convened, and satisfying the expectation of religious
parties, had rather widened the breach between them, and made the schism
irremediable and eternal.

The labors of the synod instead of purifying the Romish Church from its
corruptions had only reduced the latter to greater definiteness and
precision, and invested them with the sanction of authority. All the
subtilties of its teaching, all the arts and usurpations of the Roman
See, which had hitherto rested more on arbitrary usage, were now passed
into laws and raised into a system. The uses and abuses which during
the barbarous times of ignorance and superstition had crept into
Christianity were now declared essential parts of its worship, and
anathemas were denounced upon all who should dare to contradict the
dogmas or neglect the observances of the Romish communion. All were
anathematized who should either presume to doubt the miraculous power of
relics, and refuse to honor the bones of martyrs, or should be so bold
as to doubt the availing efficacy of the intercession of saints. The
power of granting indulgences, the first source of the defection from
the See of Rome, was now propounded in an irrefragable article of faith;
and the principle of monasticism sanctioned by an express decree of the
synod, which allowed males to take the vows at sixteen and females at
twelve. And while all the opinions of the Protestants were, without
exception, condemned, no indulgence was shown to their errors or
weaknesses, nor a single step taken to win them back by mildness to the
bosom of the mother church. Amongst the Protestants the wearisome
records of the subtle deliberations of the synod, and the absurdity of
its decisions, increased, if possible, the hearty contempt which they
had long entertained for popery, and laid open to their
controversialists new and hitherto unnoticed points of attack. It was
an ill-judged step to bring the mysteries of the church too close to the
glaring torch of reason, and to fight with syllogisms for the tenets of
a blind belief.

Moreover, the decrees of the Council of Trent were not satisfactory even
to all the powers in communion with Rome. France rejected them
entirely, both because she did not wish to displease the Huguenots, and
also because she was offended by the supremacy which the pope arrogated
to himself over the council; some of the Roman Catholic princes of
Germany likewise declared against it. Little, however, as Philip II.
was pleased with many of its articles, which trenched too closely upon
his own rights, for no monarch was ever more jealous of his prerogative;
highly as the pope's assumption of control over the council, and its
arbitrary, precipitate dissolution had offended him; just as was his
indignation at the slight which the pope had put upon his ambassador; he
nevertheless acknowledged the decrees of the synod, even in its present
form, because it favored his darling object--the extirpation of heresy.
Political considerations were all postponed to this one religious
object, and he commanded the publication and enforcement of its canons
throughout his dominions.

The spirit of revolt, which was diffused through the Belgian provinces,
scarcely required this new stimulus. There the minds of men were in a
ferment, and the character of the Romish Church had sunk almost to the
lowest point of contempt in the general opinion. Under such
circumstances the imperious and frequently injudicious decrees of the
council could not fail of being highly offensive; but Philip II. could
not belie his religious character so far as to allow a different
religion to a portion of his subjects, even though they might live on a
different soil and under different laws from the rest. The regent was
strictly enjoined to exact in the Netherlands the same obedience to the
decrees of Trent which was yielded to them in Spain and Italy.

They met, however, with the warmest opposition in the council of state
at Brussels. "The nation," William of Orange declared, "neither would
nor could acknowledge them, since they were, for the most part, opposed
to the fundamental principles of their constitution; and, for similar
reasons, they had even been rejected by several Roman Catholic princes."
The whole council nearly was on the side of Orange; a decided majority
were for entreating the king either to recall the decrees entirely or at
least to publish them under certain limitations. This proposition was
resisted by Viglius, who insisted on a strict and literal obedience to
the royal commands. "The church," he said, "had in all ages maintained
the purity of its doctrines and the strictness of its discipline by
means of such general councils. No more efficacious remedy could be
opposed to the errors of opinion which had so long distracted their
country than these very decrees, the rejection of which is now urged by
the council of state. Even if they are occasionally at variance with
the constitutional rights of the citizens this is an evil which can
easily be met by a judicious and temperate application of them. For the
rest it redounds to the honor of our sovereign, the King of Spain, that
he alone, of all the princes of his time, refuses to yield his better
judgment to necessity, and will not, for any fear of consequences,
reject measures which the welfare of the church demands, and which the
happiness of his subjects makes a duty."

But the decrees also contained several matters which affected the rights
of the crown itself. Occasion was therefore taken of this fact to
propose that these sections at least should be omitted from the
proclamation. By this means the king might, it was argued, be relieved
from these obnoxious and degrading articles by a happy expedient; the
national liberties of the Netherlands might be advanced as the pretext
for the omission, and the name of the republic lent to cover this
encroachment on the authority of the synod. But the king had caused
the decrees to be received and enforced in his other dominions
unconditionally; and it was not to be expected that he would give the
other Roman Catholic powers such an example of opposition, and himself
undermine the edifice whose foundation he had been so assiduous in
laying.



             COUNT EGMONT IN SPAIN.

Count Egmont was despatched to Spain to make a forcible representation
to the king on the subject of these decrees; to persuade him, if
possible, to adopt a milder policy towards his Protestant subjects, and
to propose to him the incorporation of the three councils, was the
commission he received from the malcontents. By the regent he was
charged to apprise the monarch of the refractory spirit of the people;
to convince him of the impossibility of enforcing these edicts of
religion in their full severity; and lastly to acquaint him with the bad
state of the military defences and the exhausted condition of the
exchequer.

The count's public instructions were drawn up by the President Viglius.
They contained heavy complaints of the decay of justice, the growth of
heresy, and the exhaustion of the treasury. He was also to press
urgently a personal visit from the king to the Netherlands. The rest
was left to the eloquence of the envoy, who received a hint from the
regent not to let so fair an opportunity escape of establishing himself
in the favor of his sovereign.

The terms in which the count's instructions and the representations
which he was to make to the king were drawn up appeared to the Prince of
Orange far too vague and general. "The president's statement," he said,
"of our grievances comes very far short of the truth. How can the king
apply the suitable remedies if we conceal from him the full extent of
the evil? Let us not represent the numbers of the heretics inferior to
what it is in reality. Let us candidly acknowledge that they swarm in
every province and in every hamlet, however small. Neither let us
disguise from him the truth that they despise the penal statutes and
entertain but little reverence for the government. What good can come
of this concealment? Let us rather openly avow to the king that the
republic cannot long continue in its present condition. The privy
council indeed will perhaps pronounce differently, for to them the
existing disorders are welcome. For what else is the source of the
abuse of justice and the universal corruption of the courts of law but
its insatiable rapacity? How otherwise can the pomp and scandalous
luxury of its members, whom we have seen rise from the dust, be
supported if not by bribery? Do not the people daily complain that no
other key but gold can open an access to them; and do not even their
quarrels prove how little they are swayed by a care for the common weal?
Are they likely to consult the public good who are the slaves of their
private passions? Do they think forsooth that we, the governors of the
provinces are, with our soldiers, to stand ready at the beck and call of
an infamous lictor? Let them set bounds to their indulgences and free
pardons which they so lavishly bestow on the very persons to whom we
think it just and expedient to deny them. No one can remit the
punishment of a crime without sinning against the society and
contributing to the increase of the general evil. To my mind, and I
have no hesitation to avow it, the distribution amongst so many councils
of the state secrets and the affairs of government has always appeared
highly objectionable. The council of state is sufficient for all the
duties of the administration; several patriots have already felt this in
silence, and I now openly declare it. It is my decided conviction that
the only sufficient remedy for all the evils complained of is to merge
the other two chambers in the council of state. This is the point which
we must endeavor to obtain from the king, or the present embassy, like
all others, will be entirely useless and ineffectual." The prince now
laid before the assembled senate the plan which we have already
described. Viglius, against whom this new proposition was individually
and mainly directed, and whose eyes were now suddenly opened, was
overcome by the violence of his vexation. The agitation of his feelings
was too much for his feeble body, and he was found, on the following
morning, paralyzed by apoplexy, and in danger of his life.

His place was supplied by Jaachim Hopper, a member of the privy council
at Brussels, a man of old-fashioned morals and unblemished integrity,
the president's most trusted and worthiest friend.


   [Vita Vigl. 89. The person from whose memoirs I have already drawn
   so many illustrations of the times of this epoch. His subsequent
   journey to Spain gave rise to the correspondence between him and
   the president, which is one of the most valuable documents for our
   history.]

To meet the wishes of the Orange party he made some additions to the
instructions of the ambassador, relating chiefly to the abolition of the
Inquisition and the incorporation of the three councils, not so much
with the consent of the regent as in the absence of her prohibition.
Upon Count Egmont taking leave of the president, who had recovered from
his attack, the latter requested him to procure in Spain permission to
resign his appointment. His day, he declared, was past; like the
example of his friend and predecessor, Granvella, he wished to retire
into the quiet of private life, and to anticipate the uncertainty of
fortune. His genius warned him of impending storm, by which he could
have no desire to be overtaken.

Count Egmont embarked on his journey to Spain in January, 1565, and was
received there with a kindness and respect which none of his rank had
ever before experienced. The nobles of Castile, taught by the king's
example to conquer their feelings, or rather, true to his policy, seemed
to have laid aside their ancient grudge against the Flemish nobility,
and vied with one another in winning his heart by their affability. All
his private matters were immediately settled to his wishes by the king,
nay, even his expectations exceeded; and during the whole period of his
stay he had ample cause to boast of the hospitality of the monarch. The
latter assured him in the strongest terms of his love for his Belgian
subjects, and held out hopes of his acceding eventually to the general
wish, and remitting somewhat of the severity of the religious edicts.
At the same time, however, he appointed in Madrid a commission of
theologians to whom he propounded the question, "Is it necessary to
grant to the provinces the religious toleration they demand?" As the
majority of them were of opinion that the peculiar constitution of the
Netherlands, and the fear of a rebellion might well excuse a degree of
forbearance in their case, the question was repeated more pointedly.
"He did not seek to know," he said, "if he might do so, but if he must."
When the latter question was answered in the negative, he rose from his
seat, and kneeling down before a crucifix prayed in these words:
"Almighty Majesty, suffer me not at any time to fall so low as to
consent to reign over those who reject thee!" In perfect accordance
with the spirit of this prayer were the measures which he resolved to
adopt in the Netherlands. On the article of religion this monarch had
taken his resolution once forever; urgent necessity might, perhaps, have
constrained him temporarily to suspend the execution of the penal
statutes, but never, formally, to repeal them entirely, or even to
modify them. In vain did Egmont represent to him that the public
execution of the heretics daily augmented the number of their followers,
while the courage and even joy with which they met their death filled
the spectators with the deepest admiration, and awakened in them high
opinions of a doctrine which could make such heroes of its disciples.
This representation was not indeed lost upon the king, but it had a very
different effect from what it was intended to produce. In order to
prevent these seductive scenes, without, however, compromising the
severity of the edicts, he fell upon an expedient, and ordered that in
future the executions should take place in private. The answer of the
king on the subject of the embassy was given to the count in writing,
and addressed to the regent. The king, when he granted him an audience
to take leave, did not omit to call him to account for his behavior to
Granvella, and alluded particularly to the livery invented in derision
of the cardinal. Egmont protested that the whole affair had originated
in a convivial joke, and nothing was further from their meaning than to
derogate in the least from the respect that was due to royalty. "If he
knew," he said, "that any individual among them had entertained such
disloyal thoughts be himself would challenge him to answer for it with
his life."

At his departure the monarch made him a present of fifty thousand
florins, and engaged, moreover, to furnish a portion for his daughter on
her marriage. He also consigned to his care the young Farnese of Parma,
whom, to gratify the regent, his mother, he was sending to Brussels.
The king's pretended mildness, and his professions of regard for the
Belgian nation, deceived the open-hearted Fleming. Happy in the idea of
being the bearer of so much felicity to his native country, when in fact
it was more remote than ever, he quitted Madrid satisfied beyond measure
to think of the joy with which the provinces would welcome the message
of their good king; but the opening of the royal answer in the council
of state at Brussels disappointed all these pleasing hopes. "Although
in regard to the religious edicts," this was its tenor, "his resolve was
firm and immovable, and he would rather lose a thousand lives than
consent to alter a single letter of it, still, moved by the
representations of Count Egmont, he was, on the other hand, equally
determined not to leave any gentle means untried to guard the people
against the delusions of heresy, and so to avert from them that
punishment which must otherwise infallibly overtake them. As he had now
learned from the count that the principal source of the existing errors
in the faith was in the moral depravity of the clergy, the bad
instruction and the neglected education of the young, he hereby
empowered the regent to appoint a special commission of three bishops,
and a convenient number of learned theologians, whose business it should
be to consult about the necessary reforms, in order that the people
might no longer be led astray through scandal, nor plunge into error
through ignorance. As, moreover, he had been informed that the public
executions of the heretics did but afford them an opportunity of
boastfully displaying a foolhardy courage, and of deluding the common
herd by an affectation of the glory of martyrdom, the commission was to
devise means for putting in force the final sentence of the Inquisition
with greater privacy, and thereby depriving condemned heretics of the
honor of their obduracy." In order, however, to provide against the
commission going beyond its prescribed limits Philip expressly required
that the Bishop of Ypres, a man whom he could rely on as a determined
zealot for the Romish faith, should be one of the body. Their
deliberaations were to be conducted, if possible, in secrecy, while the
object publicly assigned to them should be the introduction of the
Tridentine decrees. For this his motive seems to have been twofold; on
the one hand, not to alarm the court of Rome by the assembling of a
private council; nor, on the other, to afford any encouragement to the
spirit of rebellion in the provinces. At its sessions the duchess was
to preside, assisted by some of the more loyally disposed of her
counsellors, and regularly transmit to Philip a written account of its
transactions. To meet her most pressing wants he sent her a small
supply in money. He also gave her hopes of a visit from himself; first,
however, it was necessary that the war with the Turks, who were then
expected in hostile force before Malta, should be terminated. As to the
proposed augmentation of the council of state, and its union with the
privy council and chamber of finance, it was passed over in perfect
silence. The Duke of Arschot, however, who is already known to us as a
zealous royalist, obtained a voice and seat in the latter. Viglius,
indeed, was allowed to retire from the presidency of the privy council,
but he was obliged, nevertheless, to continue to discharge its duties
for four more years, because his successor, Carl Tyssenaque, of the
council for Netherlandish affairs in Madrid, could not sooner be spared.



   SEVERER RELIGIOUS EDICTS--UNIVERSAL OPPOSITION OF THE NATION.

Scarcely was Egmont returned when severer edicts against heretics,
which, as it were, pursued him from Spain, contradicted the joyful
tidings which he had brought of a happy change in the sentiments of the
monarch. They were at the same time accompanied with a transcript of
the decrees of Trent, as they were acknowledged in Spain, and were now
to be proclaimed in the Netherlands also; with it came likewise the
death warrants of some Anabaptists and other kinds of heretics.
"The count has been beguiled," William the Silent was now heard to say,
"and deluded by Spanish cunning. Self-love and vanity have blinded his
penetration; for his own advantage he has forgotten the general
welfare." The treachery of the Spanish ministry was now exposed, and
this dishonest proceeding roused the indignation of the noblest in the
land. But no one felt it more acutely than Count Egmont, who now
perceived himself to have been the tool of Spanish duplicity, and to
have become unwittingly the betrayer of his own country. "These
specious favors then," he exclaimed, loudly and bitterly, "were nothing
but an artifice to expose me to the ridicule of my fellow-citizens, and
to destroy my good name. If this is the fashion after which the king
purposes to keep the promises which he made to me in Spain, let who will
take Flanders; for my part, I will prove by my retirement from public
business that I have no share in this breach of faith." In fact, the
Spanish ministry could not have adopted a surer method of breaking the
credit of so important a man--than by exhibiting him to his fellow
citizens, who adored him, as one whom they had succeeded in deluding.

Meanwhile the commission had been appointed, and had unanimously come
to the following decision: "Whether for the moral reformation of the
clergy, or for the religious instruction of the people, or for the
education of youth, such abundant provision had already been made in the
decrees of Trent that nothing now was requisite but to put these decrees
in force as speedily as possible. The imperial edicts against the
heretics already ought on no account to be recalled or modified; the
courts of justice, however, might be secretly instructed to punish with
death none but obstinate heretics or preachers, to make a difference
between the different sects, and to show consideration to the age, rank,
sex, or disposition of the accused. If it were really the case that
public executions did but inflame fanaticism, then, perhaps, the
unheroic, less observed, but still equally severe punishment of the
galleys, would be well-adapted to bring down all high notions of
martyrdom. As to the delinquencies which might have arisen out of mere
levity, curiosity, and thoughtlessness it would perhaps be sufficient to
punish them by fines, exile, or even corporal chastisement."

During these deliberations, which, moreover, it was requisite to submit
to the king at Madrid, and to wait for the notification of his approval
of them, the time passed away unprofitably, the proceedings against the
sectaries being either suspended, or at least conducted very supinely.
Since the recall of Granvella the disunion which prevailed in the higher
councils, and from thence had extended to the provincial courts of
justice, combined with the mild feelings generally of the nobles on the
subject of religion, had raised the courage of the sects, and allowed
free scope to the proselytizing mania of their apostles. The
inquisitors, too, had fallen into contempt in consequence of the secular
arm withdrawing its support, and in many places even openly taking their
victims under its protection. The Roman Catholic part of the nation.
had formed great expectations from the decrees of the synod of Trent, as
well as from Egmont's embassy to Spain; but in the latter case their
hopes had scarcely been justified by the joyous tidings which the count
had brought back, and, in the integrity of his heart, left nothing
undone to make known as widely as possible. The more disused the nation
had become to severity in matters pertaining to religion the more
acutely was it likely to feel the sudden adoption of even still more
rigorous measures. In this position of affairs the royal rescript
arrived from Spain in answer to the proposition of the bishops and the
last despatches of the regent. "Whatever interpretation (such was its
tenor) Count Egmont may have given to the king's verbal communications,
it had never in the remotest manner entered his mind to think of
altering in the slightest degree the penal statutes which the Emperor,
his father, had five-and-thirty years ago published in the provinces.
These edicts he therefore commanded should henceforth be carried rigidly
into effect, the Inquisition should receive the most active support from
the secular arm, and the decrees of the council of Trent be irrevocably
and unconditionally acknowledged in all the provinces of his
Netherlands. He acquiesced fully in the opinion of the bishops and
canonists as to the sufficiency of the Tridentine decrees as guides in
all points of reformation of the clergy or instruction of the people;
but he could not concur with them as to the mitigation of punishment
which they proposed in consideration either of the age, sex, or
character of individuals, since he was of opinion that his edicts were
in no degree wanting in moderation. To nothing but want of zeal and
disloyalty on the part of judges could he ascribe the progress which
heresy had already made in the country. In future, therefore, whoever
among them should be thus wanting in zeal must be removed from his
office and make room for a more honest judge. The Inquisition ought to
pursue its appointed path firmly, fearlessly, and dispassionately,
without regard to or consideration of human feelings, and was to look
neither before nor behind. He would always be ready to approve of all
its measures however extreme if it only avoided public scandal."

This letter of the king, to which the Orange party have ascribed all
the subsequent troubles of the Netherlands, caused the most violent
excitement amongst the state counsellors, and the expressions which in
society they either accidentally or intentionally let fall from them
with regard to it spread terror and alarm amongst the people. The dread
of the Spanish Inquisition returned with new force, and with it came
fresh apprehensions of the subversion of their liberties. Already the
people fancied they could hear prisons building, chains and fetters
forging, and see piles of fagots collecting. Society was occupied with
this one theme of conversation, and fear kept no longer within bounds.
Placards were affixed to houses of the nobles in which they were called
upon, as formerly Rome called on her Brutus, to come forward and save
expiring freedom. Biting pasquinades were published against the new
bishops--tormentors as they were called; the clergy were ridiculed in
comedies, and abuse spared the throne as little as the Romish see.

Terrified by the rumors which were afloat, the regent called together
all the counsellors of state to consult them on the course she ought to
adopt in this perilous crisis. Opinion varied and disputes were
violent. Undecided between fear and duty they hesitated to come to a
conclusion, until at last the aged senator, Viglius, rose and surprised
the whole assembly by his opinion. "It would," he said, "be the height
of folly in us to think of promulgating the royal edict at the present
moment; the king must be informed of the reception which, in all
probability, it will now meet. In the meantime the inquisitors must
be enjoined to use their power with moderation, and to abstain from
severity." But if these words of the aged president surprised the whole
assembly, still greater was the astonishment when the Prince of Orange
stood up and opposed his advice. "The royal will," he said, "is too
clearly and too precisely stated; it is the result of too long and too
mature deliberation for us to venture to delay its execution without
bringing on ourselves the reproach of the most culpable obstinacy."
"That I take on myself," interrupted Viglius; "I oppose myself to, his
displeasure. If by this delay we purchase for him the peace of the
Netherlands our opposition will eventually secure for us the lasting
gratitude of the king." The regent already began to incline to the
advice of Viglius, when the prince vehemently interposing, "What," he
demanded, "what have the many representations which we have already made
effected? of what avail was the embassy we so lately despatched?
Nothing! And what then do we wait for more? Shall we, his state
counsellors, bring upon ourselves the whole weight of his displeasure by
determining, at our own peril, to render him a service for which he will
never thank us?" Undecided and uncertain the whole assembly remained
silent; but no one had courage enough to assent to or reply to him. But
the prince had appealed to the fears of the regent, and these left her
no choice. The consequences of her unfortunate obedience to the king's
command will soon appear. But, on the other hand, if by a wise
disobedience she had avoided these fatal consequences, is it clear that
the result would not have been the same? However she had adopted the
most fatal of the two counsels: happen what would the royal ordinance
was to be promulgated. This time, therefore, faction prevailed, and the
advice of the only true friend of the government, who, to serve his
monarch, was ready to incur his displeasure, was disregarded. With this
session terminated the peace of the regent: from this day the
Netherlands dated all the trouble which uninterruptedly visited their
country. As the counsellors separated the Prince of Orange said to one
who stood nearest to him, "Now will soon be acted a great tragedy."

   [The conduct of the Prince of Orange in this meeting of the council
   has been appealed to by historians of the Spanish party as a proof
   of his dishonesty, and they have availed themselves over and over
   again to blacken his character. "He," say they, "who had,
   invariably up to this period, both by word and deed, opposed the
   measures of the court so long as he had any ground to fear that the
   king's measures could be successfully carried out, supported them
   now for the first time when he was convinced that a scrupulous
   obedience to the royal orders would inevitably prejudice him. In
   order to convince the king of his folly in disregarding his
   warnings; in order to be able to boast, 'this I foresaw,' and 'I
   foretold that,' he was willing to risk the welfare of his nation,
   for which alone he had hitherto professed to struggle. The whole
   tenor of his previous conduct proved that he held the enforcement
   of the edicts to be an evil; nevertheless, he at once becomes false
   to his own convictions and follows an opposite course; although, so
   far as the nation was concerned, the same grounds existed as had
   dictated his former measures; and he changed his conduct simply
   that the result might be different to the king." "It is clear,
   therefore," continue his adversaries, "that the welfare of the
   nation had less weight with him than his animosity to his
   sovereign. In order to gratify his hatred to the latter he does
   not hesitate to sacrifice the former." But is it then true that by
   calling for the promulgation of these edicts he sacrificed the
   nation? or, to speak more correctly, did he carry the edicts into
   effect by insisting on their promulgation? Can it not, on the
   contrary, be shown with far more probability that this was really
   the only way effectually to frustrate them? The nation was in a
   ferment, and the indignant people would (there was reason to
   expect, and as Viglius himself seems to have apprehended) show so
   decided a spirit of opposition as must compel the king to yield.
   "Now," says Orange, "my country feels all the impulse necessary for
   it to contend successfully with tyranny! If I neglect the present
   moment the tyrant will, by secret negotiation and intrigue, find
   means to obtain by stealth what by open force he could not. The
   some object will be steadily pursued, only with greater caution and
   forbearance; but extremity alone can combine the people to unity of
   purpose, and move them to bold measures." It is clear, therefore,
   that with regard to the king the prince did but change his language
   only; but that as far as the people was concerned his conduct was
   perfectly consistent. And what duties did he owe the king apart
   from those he owed the republic? Was he to oppose an arbitrary act
   in the very moment when it was about to entail a just retribution
   on its author? Would he have done his duty to his country if he
   had deterred its oppressor from a precipitate step which alone
   could save it from its otherwise unavoidable misery?]

An edict, therefore, was issued to all the governors of provinces,
commanding them rigorously to enforce the mandates of the Emperor
against heretics, as well as those which had been passed under the
present government, the decrees of the council of Trent, and those of
the episcopal commission, which had lately sat to give all the aid of
the civil force to the Inquisition, and also to enjoin a similar line of
conduct on the officers of government under them. More effectually to
secure their object, every governor was to select from his own council
an efficient officer who should frequently make the circuit of the
province and institute strict inquiries into the obedience shown by the
inferior officers to these commands, and then transmit quarterly, to the
capital an exact report of their visitation. A copy of the Tridentine
decrees, according to the Spanish original, was also sent to the
archbishops and bishops, with an intimation that in case of their
needing the assistance of the secular power, the governors of their
diocese, with their troops, were placed at their disposal. Against
these decrees no privilege was to avail; however, the king willed and
commanded that the particular territorial rights of the provinces and
towns should in no case be infringed.

These commands, which were publicly read in every town by a herald,
produced an effect on the people which in the fullest manner verified
the fears of the President Viglius and the hopes of the Prince of
Orange.

Nearly all the governors of provinces refused compliance with them, and
threatened to throw up their appointments if the attempt should be made
to compel their obedience. "The ordinance," they wrote back, "was based
on a statement of the numbers of the sectaries, which was altogether
false."

   [The number of the heretics was very unequally computed by the two
   parties according as the interests and passions of either made its
   increase or diminution desirable, and the same party often
   contradicted itself when its interest changed. If the question
   related to new measures of oppression, to the introduction of the
   inquisitional tribunals, etc., the numbers of the Protestants were
   countless and interminable. If, on the other hand, the question
   was of lenity towards them, of ordinances to their advantage, they
   were now reduced to such an insignificant number that it would not
   repay the trouble of making an innovation for this small body of
   ill-minded people.]

"Justice was appalled at the prodigious crowd of victims which daily
accumulated under its hands; to destroy by the flames fifty thousand or
sixty thousand persons from their districts was no commission for them."
The inferior clergy too, in particular, were loud in their outcries
against the decrees of Trent, which cruelly assailed their ignorance and
corruption, and which moreover threatened them with a reform they so
much detested. Sacrificing, therefore, the highest interests of their
church to their own private advantage, they bitterly reviled the decrees
and the whole council, and with liberal hand scattered the seeds of
revolt in the minds of the people. The same outcry was now revived
which the monks had formerly raised against the new bishops. The
Archbishop of Cambray succeeded at last, but not without great
opposition, in causing the decrees to be proclaimed. It cost more labor
to effect this in Malines and Utrect, where the archbishops were at
strife with their clergy, who, as they were accused, preferred to
involve the whole church in ruin rather than submit to a reformation of
morals.

Of all the provinces Brabant raised its voice the loudest. The states
of this province appealed to their great privilege, which protected
their members from being brought before a foreign court of justice.
They spoke loudly of the oath by which the king had bound himself to
observe all their statutes, and of the conditions under which they alone
had sworn allegiance to him. Louvain, Antwerp, Brussels, and
Herzogenbusch solemnly protested against the decrees, and transmitted
their protests in distinct memorials to the regent. The latter, always
hesitating and wavering, too timid to obey the king, and far more afraid
to disobey him, again summoned her council, again listened to the
arguments for and against the question, and at last again gave her
assent to the opinion which of all others was the most perilous for her
to adopt. A new reference to the king in Spain was proposed; the next
moment it was asserted that so urgent a crisis did not admit of so
dilatory a remedy; it was necessary for the regent to act on her own
responsibility, and either defy the threatening aspect of despair, or to
yield to it by modifying or retracting the royal ordinance. She finally
caused the annals of Brabant to be examined in order to discover if
possible a precedent for the present case in the instructions of the
first inquisitor whom Charles V. had appointed to the province. These
instructions indeed did not exactly correspond with those now given; but
had not the king declared that he introduced no innovation? This was
precedent enough, and it was declared that the new edicts must also be
interpreted in accordance with the old and existing statutes of the
province. This explanation gave indeed no satisfaction to the states
of Brabant, who had loudly demanded the entire abolition of the
inquisition, but it was an encouragement to the other provinces to make
similar protests and an equally bold opposition. Without giving the
duchess time to decide upon their remonstrances they, on their own
authority, ceased to obey the inquisition, and withdrew their aid from
it. The inquisitors, who had so recently been expressly urged to a more
rigid execution of their duties now saw themselves suddenly deserted by
the secular arm, and robbed of all authority, while in answer to their
application for assistance the court could give them only empty
promises. The regent by thus endeavoring to satisfy all parties had
displeased all.

During these negotiations between the court, the councils, and the
states a universal spirit of revolt pervaded the whole nation. Men
began to investigate the rights of the subject, and to scrutinize the
prerogative of kings. "The Netherlanders were not so stupid," many were
heard to say with very little attempt at secrecy, "as not to know right
well what was due from the subject to the sovereign, and from the king
to the subject; and that perhaps means would yet be found to repel force
with force, although at present there might be no appearance of it."
In Antwerp a placard was set up in several places calling upon the town
council to accuse the King of Spain before the supreme court at Spires
of having broken his oath and violated the liberties of the country,
for, Brabant being a portion of the Burgundian circle, was included in
the religious peace of Passau and Augsburg. About this time too the
Calvinists published their confession of faith, and in a preamble
addressed to the king, declared that they, although a hundred thousand
strong, kept themselves nevertheless quiet, and like the rest of his
subjects, contributed to all the taxes of the country; from which it was
evident, they added, that of themselves they entertained no ideas of
insurrection. Bold and incendiary writings were publicly disseminated,
which depicted the Spanish tyranny in the most odious colors, and
reminded the nation of its privileges, and occasionally also of its
powers.

   [The regent mentioned to the king a number (three thousand) of
   these writings. Strada 117. It is remarkable how important a part
   printing, and publicity in general, played in the rebellion of the
   Netherlands. Through this organ one restless spirit spoke to
   millions. Besides the lampoons, which for the most part were
   composed with all the low scurrility and brutality which was the
   distinguishing character of most of the Protestant polemical
   writings of the time, works were occasionally published which
   defended religious liberty in the fullest sense of the word.]

The warlike preparations of Philip against the Porte, as well as those
which, for no intelligible reason, Eric, Duke of Brunswick, about this
time made in the vicinity, contributed to strengthen the general
suspicion that the Inquisition was to be forcibly imposed on the
Netherlands. Many of the most eminent merchants already spoke of
quitting their houses and business to seek in some other part of the
world the liberty of which they were here deprived; others looked about
for a leader, and let fall hints of forcible resistance and of foreign
aid.

That in this distressing position of affairs the regent might be left
entirely without an adviser and without support, she was now deserted by
the only person who was at the present moment indispensable to her, and
who had contributed to plunge her into this embarrassment. "Without
kindling a civil war," wrote to her William of Orange, "it was
absolutely impossible to comply now with the orders of the king.
If, however, obedience was to be insisted upon, he must beg that his
place might be supplied by another who would better answer the
expectations of his majesty, and have more power than he had over the
minds of the nation. The zeal which on every other occasion he had
shown in the service of the crown, would, he hoped, secure his present
proceeding from misconstruction; for, as the case now stood, he had no
alternative between disobeying the king and injuring his country and
himself." From this time forth William of Orange retired from the
council of state to his town of Breda, where in observant but scarcely
inactive repose he watched the course of affairs. Count Horn followed
his example. Egmont, ever vacillating between the republic and the
throne, ever wearying himself in the vain attempt to unite the good
citizen with the obedient subject--Egmont, who was less able than the
rest to dispense with the favor of the monarch, and to whom, therefore,
it was less an object of indifference, could not bring himself to
abandon the bright prospects which were now opening for him at the court
of the regent. The Prince of Orange had, by his superior intellect,
gained an influence over the regent--which great minds cannot fail to
command from inferior spirits. His retirement had opened a void in her
confidence which Count Egmont was now to fill by virtue of that sympathy
which so naturally subsists between timidity, weakness, and good-nature.
As she was as much afraid of exasperating the people by an exclusive
confidence in the adherents to the crown, as she was fearful of
displeasing the king by too close an understanding with the declared
leaders of the faction, a better object for her confidence could now
hardly be presented than this very Count Egmont, of whom it could not be
said that he belonged to either of the two conflicting parties.



                BOOK III.

            CONSPIRACY OF THE NOBLES

1565. Up to this point the general peace had it appears been the
sincere wish of the Prince of Orange, the Counts Egmont and Horn, and
their friends. They had pursued the true interests of their sovereign
as much as the general weal; at least their exertions and their actions
had been as little at variance with the former as with the latter.
Nothing bad as yet occurred to make their motives suspected, or to
manifest in them a rebellious spirit. What they had done they had done
in discharge of their bounden duty as members of a free state, as the
representatives of the nation, as advisers of the king, as men of
integrity and honor. The only weapons they had used to oppose the
encroachments of the court had been remonstrances, modest complaints,
petitions. They had never allowed themselves to be so far carried away
by a just zeal for their good cause as to transgress the limits of
prudence and moderation which on many occasions are so easily
overstepped by party spirit. But all the nobles of the republic did not
now listen to the voice of that prudence; all did not abide within the
bounds of moderation.

While in the council of state the great question was discussed whether
the nation was to be miserable or not, while its sworn deputies summoned
to their assistance all the arguments of reason and of equity, and while
the middle-classes and the people contented themselves with empty
complaints, menaces, and curses, that part of the nation which of all
seemed least called upon, and on whose support least reliance had been
placed, began to take more active measures. We have already described a
class of the nobility whose services and wants Philip at his accession
had not considered it necessary to remember. Of these by far the
greater number had asked for promotion from a much more urgent reason
than a love of the mere honor. Many of them were deeply sunk in debt,
from which by their own resources they could not hope to emancipate
themselves. When then, in filling up appointments, Philip passed them
over he wounded them in a point far more sensitive than their pride.
In these suitors he had by his neglect raised up so many idle spies and
merciless judges of his actions, so many collectors and propagators of
malicious rumor. As their pride did not quit them with their
prosperity, so now, driven by necessity, they trafficked with the sole
capital which they could not alienate--their nobility and the political
influence of their names; and brought into circulation a coin which only
in such a period could have found currency--their protection. With a
self-pride to which they gave the more scope as it was all they could
now call their own, they looked upon themselves as a strong intermediate
power between the sovereign and the citizen, and believed themselves
called upon to hasten to the rescue of the oppressed state, which looked
imploringly to them for succor. This idea was ludicrous only so far as
their self-conceit was concerned in it; the advantages which they
contrived to draw from it were substantial enough. The Protestant
merchants, who held in their hands the chief part of the wealth of the
Netherlands, and who believed they could not at any price purchase too
dearly the undisturbed exercise of their religion, did not fail to make
use of this class of people who stood idle in the market and ready to be
hired. These very men whom at any other time the merchants, in the
pride of riches, would most probably have looked down upon, now appeared
likely to do them good service through their numbers, their courage,
their credit with the populace, their enmity to the government, nay,
through their beggarly pride itself and their despair. On these grounds
they zealously endeavored to form a close union with them, and
diligently fostered the disposition for rebellion, while they also used
every means to keep alive their high opinions of themselves, and, what
was most important, lured their poverty by well-applied pecuniary
assistance and glittering promises. Few of them were so utterly
insignificant as not to possess some influence, if not personally, yet
at least by their relationship with higher and more powerful nobles; and
if united they would be able to raise a formidable voice against the
crown. Many of them had either already joined the new sect or were
secretly inclined to it; and even those who were zealous Roman Catholics
had political or private grounds enough to set them against the decrees
of Trent and the Inquisition. All, in fine, felt the call of vanity
sufficiently powerful not to allow the only moment to escape them in
which they might possibly make some figure in the republic.

But much as might be expected from the co-operation of these men in
a body it would have been futile and ridiculous to build any hopes on
any one of them singly; and the great difficulty was to effect a union
among them. Even to bring them together some unusual occurrence was
necessary, and fortunately such an incident presented itself. The
nuptials of Baron Montigny, one of the Belgian nobles, as also those of
the Prince Alexander of Parma, which took place about this time in
Brussels, assembled in that town a great number of the Belgian nobles.
On this occasion relations met relations; new friendships were formed
and old renewed; and while the distress of the country was the topic of
conversation wine and mirth unlocked lips and hearts, hints were dropped
of union among themselves, and of an alliance with foreign powers.
These accidental meetings soon led to concealed ones, and public
discussions gave rise to secret consultations. Two German barons,
moreover, a Count of Holle and a Count of Schwarzenberg, who at this
time were on a visit to the Netherlands, omitted nothing to awaken
expectations of assistance from their neighbors. Count Louis of Nassau,
too, had also a short time before visited several German courts to
ascertain their sentiments.

   [It was not without cause that the Prince of Orange suddenly
   disappeared from Brussels in order to be present at the election of
   a king of Rome in Frankfort. An assembly of so many German princes
   must have greatly favored a negotiation.]

It has even been asserted that secret emissaries of the Admiral Coligny
were seen at this time in Brabant, but this, however, may be reasonably
doubted.

If ever a political crisis was favorable to an attempt at revolution it
was the present. A woman at the helm of government; the governors of
provinces disaffected themselves and disposed to wink at insubordination
in others; most of the state counsellors quite inefficient; no army to
fall back upon; the few troops there were long since discontented on
account of the outstanding arrears of pay, and already too often
deceived by false promises to be enticed by new; commanded, moreover, by
officers who despised the Inquisition from their hearts, and would have
blushed to draw a sword in its behalf; and, lastly, no money in the
treasury to enlist new troops or to hire foreigners. The court at
Brussels, as well as the three councils, not only divided by internal
dissensions, but in the highest degree--venal and corrupt; the regent
without full powers to act on the spot, and the king at a distance; his
adherents in the provinces few, uncertain, and dispirited; the faction
numerous and powerful; two-thirds of the people irritated against popery
and desirous of a change--such was the unfortunate weakness of the
government, and the more unfortunate still that this weakness was so
well known to its enemies!

In order to unite so many minds in the prosecution of a common object a
leader was still wanting, and a few influential names to give political
weight to their enterprise. The two were supplied by Count Louis of
Nassau and Henry Count Brederode, both members of the most illustrious
houses of the Belgian nobility, who voluntarily placed themselves at the
head of the undertaking. Louis of Nassau, brother of the Prince of
Orange, united many splendid qualities which made him worthy of
appearing on so noble and important a stage. In Geneva, where he
studied, he had imbibed at once a hatred to the hierarchy and a love to
the new religion, and on his return to his native country had not failed
to enlist proselytes to his opinions. The republican bias which his
mind had received in that school kindled in him a bitter hatred of the
Spanish name, which animated his whole conduct and only left him with
his latest breath. Popery and Spanish rule were in his mind identical--
as indeed they were in reality--and the abhorrence which he entertained
for the one helped to strengthen his dislike for the other. Closely as
the brothers agreed in their inclinations and aversions the ways by
which each sought to gratify them were widely dissimilar. Youth and an
ardent temperament did not allow the younger brother to follow the
tortuous course through which the elder wound himself to his object.
A cold, calm circumspection carried the latter slowly but surely to his
aim, and with a pliable subtilty he made all things subserve his
purpose; with a foolhardy impetuosity which overthrew all obstacles,
the other at times compelled success, but oftener accelerated disaster.
For this reason William was a general and Louis never more than an
adventurer; a sure and powerful arm if only it were directed by a wise
head. Louis' pledge once given was good forever; his alliances survived
every vicissitude, for they were mostly formed in the pressing moment of
necessity, and misfortune binds more firmly than thoughtless joy. He
loved his brother as dearly as he did his cause, and for the latter he
died.

Henry of Brederode, Baron of Viane and Burgrave of Utrecht, was
descended from the old Dutch counts who formerly ruled that province as
sovereign princes. So ancient a title endeared him to the people, among
whom the memory of their former lords still survived, and was the more
treasured the less they felt they had gained by the change. This
hereditary splendor increased the self-conceit of a man upon whose
tongue the glory of his ancestors continually hung, and who dwelt the
more on former greatness, even amidst its ruins, the more unpromising
the aspect of his own condition became. Excluded from the honors and
employments to which, in his opinion, his own merits and his noble
ancestry fully entitled him (a squadron of light cavalry being all which
was entrusted to him), he hated the government, and did not scruple
boldly to canvass and to rail at its measures. By these means he won
the hearts of the people. He also favored in secret the evangelical
belief; less, however, as a conviction of his better reason than as an
opposition to the government. With more loquacity than eloquence, and
more audacity than courage, he was brave rather from not believing in
danger than from being superior to it. Louis of Nassau burned for the
cause which he defended, Brederode for the glory of being its defender;
the former was satisfied in acting for his party, the latter
discontented if he did not stand at its head. No one was more fit to
lead off the dance in a rebellion, but it could hardly have a worse
ballet-master. Contemptible as his threatened designs really were, the
illusion of the multitude might have imparted to them weight and terror
if it had occurred to them to set up a pretender in his person. His
claim to the possessions of his ancestors was an empty name; but even a
name was now sufficient for the general disaffection to rally round. A
pamphlet which was at the time disseminated amongst the people openly
called him the heir of Holland; and his engraved portrait, which was
publicly exhibited, bore the boastful inscription:--

        Sum Brederodus ego, Batavae non infima gentis
        Gloria, virtutem non unica pagina claudit.


(1565.) Besides these two, there were others also from among the most
illustrious of the Flemish nobles the young Count Charles of Mansfeld,
a son of that nobleman whom we have found among the most zealous
royalists; the Count Kinlemburg; two Counts of Bergen and of Battenburg;
John of Marnix, Baron of Toulouse; Philip of Marnix, Baron of St.
Aldegonde; with several others who joined the league, which, about the
middle of November, in the year 1565, was formed at the house of Von
Hanimes, king at arms of the Golden Fleece. Here it was that six men
decided the destiny of their country as formerly a few confederates
consummated the liberty of Switzerland, kindled the torch of a forty
years' war, and laid the basis of a freedom which they themselves were
never to enjoy. The objects of the league were set forth in the
following declaration, to which Philip of Marnix was the first to
subscribe his name: "Whereas certain ill-disposed persons, under the
mask of a pious zeal, but in reality under the impulse of avarice and
ambition, have by their evil counsels persuaded our most gracious
sovereign the king to introduce into these countries the abominable
tribunal of the Inquisition, a tribunal diametrically opposed to all
laws, human and divine, and in cruelty far surpassing the barbarous
institutions of heathenism; which raises the inquisitors above every
other power, and debases man to a perpetual bondage, and by its snares
exposes the honest citizen to a constant fear of death, inasmuch as any
one (priest, it may be, or a faithless friend, a Spaniard or a
reprobate), has it in his power at any moment to cause whom he will to
be dragged before that tribunal, to be placed in confinement, condemned,
and executed without the accused ever being allowed to face his accuser,
or to adduce proof of his innocence; we, therefore, the undersigned,
have bound ourselves to watch over the safety of our families, our
estates, and our own persons. To this we hereby pledge ourselves, and
to this end bind ourselves as a sacred fraternity, and vow with a solemn
oath to oppose to the best of our power the introduction of this
tribunal into these countries, whether it be attempted openly or
secretly, and under whatever name it may be disguised. We at the same
time declare that we are far from intending anything unlawful against
the king our sovereign; rather is it our unalterable purpose to support
and defend the royal prerogative, and to maintain peace, and, as far as
lies in our power, to put down all rebellion. In accordance with this
purpose we have sworn, and now again swear, to hold sacred the
government, and to respect it both in word and deed, which witness
Almighty God!

"Further, we vow and swear to protect and defend one another, in all
times and places, against all attacks whatsoever touching the articles
which are set forth in this covenant. We hereby bind ourselves that no
accusation of any of our followers, in whatever name it may be clothed,
whether rebellion, sedition, or otherwise, shall avail to annul our oath
towards the accused, or absolve us from our obligation towards him. No
act which is directed against the Inquisition can deserve the name of a
rebellion. Whoever, therefore, shall be placed in arrest on any such
charge, we here pledge ourselves to assist him to the utmost of our
ability, and to endeavor by every allowable means to effect his
liberation. In this, however, as in all matters, but especially in the
conduct of all measures against the tribunal of the Inquisition, we
submit ourselves to the general regulations of the league, or to the
decision of those whom we may unanimously appoint our counsellors and
leaders.

"In witness hereof, and in confirmation of this our common league and
covenant, we call upon the holy name of the living God, maker of heaven
and earth, and of all that are therein, who searches the hearts, the
consciences, and the thoughts, and knows the purity of ours. We implore
the aid of the Holy Spirit, that success and honor may crown our
undertaking, to the glory of His name, and to the peace and blessing of
our country!"

This covenant was immediately translated into several languages, and
quickly disseminated through the provinces. To swell the league as
speedily as possible each of the confederates assembled all his friends,
relations, adherents, and retainers. Great banquets were held, which
lasted whole days--irresistible temptations for a sensual, luxurious
people, in whom the deepest wretchedness could not stifle the propensity
for voluptuous living. Whoever repaired to these banquets--and every
one was welcome--was plied with officious assurances of friendship, and,
when heated with wine, carried away by the example of numbers, and
overcome by the fire of a wild eloquence. The hands of many were guided
while they subscribed their signatures; the hesitating were derided, the
pusillanimous threatened, the scruples of loyalty clamored down; some
even were quite ignorant what they were signing, and were ashamed
afterwards to inquire. To many whom mere levity brought to the
entertainment the general enthusiasm left no choice, while the splendor
of the confederacy allured the mean, and its numbers encouraged the
timorous. The abettors of the league had not scrupled at the artifice
of counterfeiting the signature and seals of the Prince of Orange,
Counts Egmont, Horn, Mcgen, and others, a trick which won them hundreds
of adherents. This was done especially with a view of influencing the
officers of the army, in order to be safe in this quarter, if matters
should come at last to violence. The device succeeded with many,
especially with subalterns, and Count Brederode even drew his sword upon
an ensign who wished time for consideration. Men of all classes and
conditions signed it. Religion made no difference. Roman Catholic
priests even were associates of the league. The motives were not the
same with all, but the pretext was similar. The Roman Catholics desired
simply the abolition of the Inquisition, and a mitigation of the edicts;
the Protestants aimed at unlimited freedom of conscience. A few daring
spirits only entertained so bold a project as the overthrow of the
present government, while the needy and indigent based the vilest hopes
on a general anarchy. A farewell entertainment, which about this time
was given to the Counts Schwarzenberg and Holle in Breda, and another
shortly afterwards in Hogstraten, drew many of the principal nobility to
these two places, and of these several had already signed the covenant.
The Prince of Orange, Counts Egmont, Horn, and Megen were present at the
latter banquet, but without any concert or design, and without having
themselves any share in the league, although one of Egmont's own
secretaries and some of the servants of the other three noblemen had
openly joined it. At this entertainment three hundred persons gave in
their adhesion to the covenant, and the question was mooted whether the
whole body should present themselves before the regent armed or unarmed,
with a declaration or with a petition? Horn and Orange (Egmont would
not countenance the business in any way) were called in as arbiters upon
this point, and they decided in favor of the more moderate and
submissive procedure. By taking this office upon them they exposed
themselves to the charge of having in no very covert manner lent their
sanction to the enterprise of the confederates. In compliance,
therefore, with their advice, it was determined to present their address
unarmed, and in the form of a petition, and a day was appointed on which
they should assemble in Brussels.

The first intimation the regent received of this conspiracy of the
nobles was given by the Count of Megen soon after his return to the
capital. "There was," he said, "an enterprise on foot; no less than
three hundred of the nobles were implicated in it; it referred to
religion; the members of it had bound themselves together by an oath;
they reckoned much on foreign aid; she would soon know more about it."
Though urgently pressed, he would give her no further information.
"A nobleman," he said, "had confided it to him under the seal of
secrecy, and he had pledged his word of honor to him." What really
withheld him from giving her any further explanation was, in all
probability, not so much any delicacy about his honor, as his hatred
of the Inquisition, which he would not willingly do anything to advance.
Soon after him, Count Egmont delivered to the regent a copy of the
covenant, and also gave her the names of the conspirators, with some few
exceptions. Nearly about the same time the Prince of Orange wrote to
her: "There was, as he had heard, an army enlisted, four hundred
officers were already named, and twenty thousand men would presently
appear in arms." Thus the rumor was intentionally exaggerated, and the
danger was multiplied in every mouth.

The regent, petrified with alarm at the first announcement of these
tidings, and guided solely by her fears, hastily called together all the
members of the council of state who happened to be then in Brussels, and
at the same time sent a pressing summons to the Prince of Orange and
Count Horn, inviting them to resume their seats in the senate. Before
the latter could arrive she consulted with Egmont, Megen, and Barlaimont
what course was to be adopted in the present dangerous posture of
affairs. The question debated was whether it would be better to have
recourse to arms or to yield to the emergency and grant the demands of
the confederates; or whether they should be put off with promises, and
an appearance of compliance, in order to gain time for procuring
instructions from Spain, and obtaining money and troops? For the first
plan the requisite supplies were wanting, and, what was equally
requisite, confidence in the army, of which there seemed reason to doubt
whether it had not been already gained by the conspirators. The second
expedient would it was quite clear never be sanctioned by the king;
besides it would serve rather to raise than depress the courage of the
confederates; while, on the other hand, a compliance with their
reasonable demands and a ready unconditional pardon of the past would in
all probability stifle the rebellion in the cradle. The last opinion
was supported by Megen and Egmont but opposed by Barlaimont. "Rumor,"
said the latter, "had exaggerated the matter; it is impossible that so
formidable an armament could have been prepared so secretly and, so
rapidly. It was but a band of a few outcasts and desperadoes,
instigated by two or three enthusiasts, nothing more. All will be quiet
after a few heads have been struck off." The regent determined to await
the opinion of the council of state, which was shortly to assemble; in
the meanwhile, however, she was not inactive. The fortifications in the
most important places were inspected and the necessary repairs speedily
executed; her ambassadors at foreign courts received orders to redouble
their vigilance; expresses were sent off to Spain. At the same time she
caused the report to be revived of the near advent of the king, and in
her external deportment put on a show of that imperturbable firmness
which awaits attack without intending easily to yield to it. At the end
of March (four whole months consequently from the framing of the
covenant), the whole state council assembled in Brussels. There were
present the Prince of Orange, the Duke of Arschot, Counts Egmont,
Bergen, Megen, Aremberg, Horn, Hosstraten, Barlaimont, and others; the
Barons Montigny and Hachicourt, all the knights of the Golden Fleece,
with the President Viglius, State Counsellor Bruxelles, and the other
assessors of the privy council. Several letters were produced which
gave a clearer insight into the nature and objects of the conspiracy.
The extremity to which the regent was reduced gave the disaffected a
power which on the present occasion they did not neglect to use.
Venting their long suppressed indignation, they indulged in bitter
complaints against the court and against the government. "But lately,"
said the Prince of Orange, "the king sent forty thousand gold florins
to the Queen of Scotland to support her in her undertakings against
England, and he allows his Netherlands to be burdened with debt.
Not to mention the unseasonableness of this subsidy and its fruitless
expenditure, why should he bring upon us the resentment of a queen, who
is both so important to us as a friend and as an enemy so much to be
dreaded?" The prince did not even refrain on the present occasion from
glancing at the concealed hatred which the king was suspected of
cherishing against the family of Nassau and against him in particular.
"It is well known," he said, "that he has plotted with the hereditary
enemies of my house to take away my life, and that he waits with
impatience only for a suitable opportunity." His example opened the
lips of Count Horn also, and of many others besides, who with passionate
vehemence descanted on their own merits and the ingratitude of the king.
With difficulty did the regent succeed in silencing the tumult and in
recalling attention to the proper subject of the debate. The question
was whether the confederates, of whom it was now known that they
intended to appear at court with a petition, should be admitted or not?
The Duke of Arschot, Counts Aremberg, Megen, and Barlaimont gave their
negative to the proposition. "What need of five hundred persons," said
the latter, "to deliver a small memorial? This paradox of humility and
defiance implies no good. Let them send to us one respectable man from
among their number without pomp, without assumption, and so submit their
application to us. Otherwise, shut the gates upon them, or if some
insist on their admission let them be closely watched, and let the first
act of insolence which any one of them shall be guilty of be punished
with death." In this advice concurred Count Mansfeld, whose own son was
among the conspirators; he had even threatened to disinherit his son if
he did not quickly abandon the league.

Counts Megen, also, and Aremberg hesitated to receive the petition; the
Prince of Orange, however, Counts Egmont, Horn, Hogstraten, and others
voted emphatically for it. "The confederates," they declared, "were
known to them as men of integrity and honor; a great part of them were
connected with themselves by friendship and relationship, and they dared
vouch for their behavior. Every subject was allowed to petition; a
right which was enjoyed by the meanest individual in the state could not
without injustice be denied to so respectable a body of men." It was
therefore resolved by a majority of votes to admit the confederates on
the condition that they should appear unarmed and conduct themselves
temperately. The squabbles of the members of council had occupied the
greater part of the sitting, so that it was necessary to adjourn the
discussion to the following day. In order that the principal matter in
debate might not again be lost sight of in useless complaints the regent
at once hastened to the point: "Brederode, we are informed," she said,
"is coming to us, with an address in the name of the league, demanding
the abolition of the Inquisition and a mitigation of the edicts. The
advice of my senate is to guide me in my answer to him; but before you
give your opinions on this point permit me to premise a few words. I am
told that there are many even amongst yourselves who load the religious
edicts of the Emperor, my father, with open reproaches, and describe
them to the people as inhuman and barbarous. Now I ask you, lords and
gentlemen, knights of the Fleece, counsellors of his majesty and of the
state, whether you did not yourselves vote for these edicts, whether the
states of the realm have not recognized them as lawful? Why is that now
blamed, which was formerly declared right? Is it because they have now
become even more necessary than they then were? Since when is the
Inquisition a new thing in the Netherlands? Is it not full sixteen
years ago since the Emperor established it? And wherein is it more
cruel than the edicts? If it be allowed that the latter were the work
of wisdom, if the universal consent of the states has sanctioned them--
why this opposition to the former, which is nevertheless far more humane
than the edicts, if they are to be observed to the letter? Speak now
freely; I am not desirous of fettering your decision; but it is your
business to see that it is not misled by passion and prejudice." The
council of state was again, as it always had been, divided between two
opinions; but the few who spoke for the Inquisition and the literal
execution of the edicts were outvoted by the opposite party with the
Prince of Orange at its head. "Would to heaven," he began,--"that my
representations had been then thought worthy of attention, when as yet
the grounds of apprehension were remote; things would in that case never
have been carried so far as to make recourse to extreme measures
indispensable, nor would men have been plunged deeper in error by the
very means which were intended to beguile them from their delusion. We
are all unanimous on the one main point. We all wish to see the
Catholic religion safe; if this end can be secured without the aid of
the Inquisition, it is well, and we offer our wealth and our blood to
its service; but on this very point it is that our opinions are divided.

"There are two kinds of inquisition: the see of Rome lays claim to one,
the other has, from time immemorial, been exercised by the bishops. The
force of prejudice and of custom has made the latter light and
supportable to us. It will find little opposition in the Netherlands,
and the augmented numbers of the bishops will make it effective. To
what purpose then insist on the former, the mere name of which is
revolting to all the feelings of our minds? When so many nations exist
without it why should it be imposed on us? Before Luther appeared it
was never heard of; but the troubles with Luther happened at a time when
there was an inadequate number of spiritual overseers, and when the few
bishops were, moreover, indolent, and the licentiousness of the clergy
excluded them from the office of judges. Now all is changed; we now
count as many bishops as there are provinces. Why should not the policy
of the government adjust itself to the altered circumstances of the
times? We want leniency, not severity. The repugnance of the people is
manifest--this we must seek to appease if we would not have it burst out
into rebellion. With the death of Pius IV. the full powers of the
inquisitors have expired; the new pope has as yet sent no ratification
of their authority, without which no one formerly ventured to exercise
his office. Now, therefore, is the time when it can be suspended
without infringing the rights of any party.

"What I have stated with regard to the Inquisition holds equally good in
respect to the edicts also. The exigency of the times called them
forth, but are not those times passed? So long an experience of them
ought at last to have taught us that against hersey no means are less
successful than the fagot and sword. What incredible progress has not
the new religion made during only the last few years in the provinces;
and if we investigate the cause of this increase we shall find it
principally in the glorious constancy of those who have fallen
sacrifices to the truth of their opinions. Carried away by sympathy and
admiration, men begin to weigh in silence whether what is maintained
with such invincible courage may not really be the truth. In France and
in England the same severities may have been inflicted on the
Protestants, but have they been attended with any better success there
than here? The very earliest Christians boasted that the blood of the
martyrs was the seed of the church. The Emperor Julian, the most
terrible enemy that Christianity ever experienced, was fully persuaded
of this. Convinced that persecution did but kindle enthusiasm he betook
himself to ridicule and derision, and found these weapons far more
effective than force. In the Greek empire different teachers of heresy
have arisen at different times. Arius under Constantine, Aetius under
Constantius, Nestorius under Theodosius. But even against these
arch-heretics and their disciples such cruel measures were never resorted
to as are thought necessary against our unfortunate country--and yet
where are all those sects now which once a whole world, I had almost
said, could not contain? This is the natural course of heresy. If it is
treated with contempt it crumbles into insignificance. It is as iron,
which, if it lies idle, corrodes, and only becomes sharp by use. Let no
notice be paid to it, and it loses its most powerful attraction, the
magic of what is new and what is forbidden. Why will we not content
ourselves with the measures which have been approved of by the wisdom of
such great rulers? Example is ever the safest guide.

"But what need to go to pagan antiquity for guidance and example when we
have near at hand the glorious precedent of Charles V., the greatest of
kings, who taught at last by experience, abandoned the bloody path of
persecution, and for many years before his abdication adopted milder
measures. And Philip himself, our most gracious sovereign, seemed at
first strongly inclined to leniency until the counsels of Granvella and
of others like him changed these views; but with what right or wisdom
they may settle between themselves. To me, however, it has always
appeared indispensable that legislation to be wise and successful must
adjust itself to the manners and maxims of the times. In conclusion,
I would beg to remind you of the close understanding which subsists
between the Huguenots and the Flemish Protestants. Let us beware of
exasperating them any further. Let us not act the part of French
Catholics towards them, lest they should play the Huguenots against us,
and, like the latter, plunge their country into the horrors of a civil
war."

   [No one need wonder, says Burgundias (a vehement stickler for the
   Roman Catholic religion and the Spanish party), that the speech of
   this prince evinced so much acquaintance with philosophy; he had
   acquired it in his intercourse with Balduin. 180. Barry, 174-178.
   Hopper, 72. Strada, 123,124.]

It was, perhaps, not so much the irresistible truth of his arguments,
which, moreover, were supported by a decisive majority in the senate, as
rather the ruinous state of the military resources, and the exhaustion
of the treasury, that prevented the adoption of the opposite opinion
which recommended an appeal to the force of arms that the Prince of
Orange had chiefly to thank for the attention which now at last was paid
to his representations. In order to avert at first the violence of the
storm, and to gain time, which was so necessary to place the government
in a better sate of preparation, it was agreed that a portion of the
demands should be accorded to the confederates. It was also resolved to
mitigate the penal statutes of the Emperor, as he himself would
certainly mitigate them, were he again to appear among them at that day
--and as, indeed, he had once shown under circumstances very similar to
the present that he did not think it derogatory to his high dignity to
do. The Inquisition was not to be introduced in any place where it did
not already exist, and where it had been it should adopt a milder
system, or even be entirely suspended, especially since the inquisitors
had not yet been confirmed in their office by the pope. The latter
reason was put prominently forward, in order to deprive the Protestants
of the gratification of ascribing the concessions to any fear of their
own power, or to the justice of their demands. The privy council was
commissioned to draw out this decree of the senate without delay. Thus
prepared the confederates were awaited.



                THE GUEUX.

The members of the senate had not yet dispersed, when all Brussels
resounded with the report that the confederates were approaching the
town. They consisted of no more than two hundred horse, but rumor
greatly exaggerated their numbers. Filled with consternation, the
regent consulted with her ministers whether it was best to close the
gates on the approaching party or to seek safety in flight? Both
suggestions were rejected as dishonorable; and the peaceable entry of
the nobles soon allayed all fears of violence. The first morning after
their arrival they assembled at Kuilemberg house, where Brederode
administered to them a second oath, binding them before all other duties
to stand by one another, and even with arms if necessary. At this
meeting a letter from Spain was produced, in which it was stated that a
certain Protestant, whom, they all knew and valued, had been burned
alive in that country by a slow fire. After these and similar
preliminaries he called on them one after another by name to take the
new oath and renew the old one in their own names and in those of the
absent. The next day, the 5th of April, 1556, was fixed for the
presentation of the petition. Their numbers now amounted to between
three and four hundred. Amongst them were many retainers of the high
nobility, as also several servants of the king himself and of the
duchess.

With the Counts of Nassau and Brederode at their head, and formed in
ranks of four by four, they advanced in procession to the palace; all
Brussels attended the unwonted spectacle in silent astonishment. Here
were to be seen a body of men advancing with too much boldness and
confidence to look like supplicants, and led by two men who were not
wont to be petitioners; and, on the other hand, with so much order and
stillness as do not usually accompany rebellion. The regent received
the procession surrounded by all her counsellors and the Knights of the
Fleece. "These noble Netherlanders," thus Brederode respectfully
addressed her, "who here present themselves before your highness, wish
in their own name, and of many others besides who are shortly to arrive,
to present to you a petition of whose importance as well as of their own
humility this solemn procession must convince you. I, as speaker of
this body, entreat you to receive our petition, which contains nothing
but what is in unison with the laws of our country and the honor of the
king."

"If this petition," replied Margaret, "really contains nothing which is
at variance either with the good of the country, or with the authority
of the king, there is no doubt that it will be favorably considered."
"They had learnt," continued the spokesman, "with indignation and regret
that suspicious objects had been imputed to their association, and that
interested parties had endeavored to prejudice her highness against him;
they therefore craved that she would name the authors of so grave an
accusation, and compel them to bring their charges publicly, and in due
form, in order that he who should be found guilty might suffer the
punishment of his demerits." "Undoubtedly," replied the regent, "she
had received unfavorable rumors of their designs and alliance. She
could not be blamed, if in consequence she had thought it requisite to
call the attention of the governors of the provinces to the matter; but,
as to giving up the names of her informants to betray state secrets,"
she added, with an appearance of displeasure, "that could not in justice
be required of her." She then appointed the next day for answering
their petition; and in the meantime she proceeded to consult the members
of her council upon it.

"Never" (so ran the petition which, according to some, was drawn up by
the celebrated Balduin), "never had they failed in their loyalty to
their king, and nothing now could be farther from their hearts; but they
would rather run the risk of incurring the displeasure of their
sovereign than allow him to remain longer in ignorance of the evils with
which their native country was menaced, by the forcible introduction of
the Inquisition and the continued enforcement of the edicts. They had
long remained consoling themselves with the expectation that a general
assembly of the states would be summoned to remedy these grievances; but
now that even this hope was extinguished, they held it to be their duty
to give timely warning to the regent. They, therefore, entreated her
highness to send to Madrid an envoy, well disposed, and fully acquainted
with the state and temper of the times, who should endeavor to persuade
the king to comply with the demands of the whole nation, and abolish the
Inquisition, to revoke the edicts, and in their stead cause new and more
humane ones to be drawn up at a general assembly of the states. But, in
the meanwhile, until they could learn the king's decision, they prayed
that the edicts and the operations of the Inquisition be suspended."
"If," they concluded, "no attention should be paid to their humble
request, they took God, the king, the regent, and all her counsellors to
witness that they had done their part, and were not responsible for any
unfortunate result that might happen."

The following day the confederates, marching in the same order of
procession, but in still greater numbers (Counts Bergen and Kuilemberg
having, in the interim, joined them with their adherents), appeared
before the regent in order to receive her answer. It was written on the
margin of the petition, and was to the effect, "that entirely to suspend
the Inquisition and the edicts, even temporarily, was beyond her powers;
but in compliance with the wishes of the confederates she was ready to
despatch one of the nobles to the king in Spain, and also to support
their petition with all her influence. In the meantime, she would
recommend the inquisitors to administer their office with moderation;
but in return she should expect on the part of the league that they
should abstain from all acts of violence, and undertake nothing to the
prejudice of the Catholic faith." Little as these vague and general
promises satisfied the confederates, they were, nevertheless, as much as
they could have reasonably expected to gain at first. The granting or
refusing of the petition had nothing to do with the primary object of
the league. Enough for them at present that it was once recognized,
enough that it was now, as it were, an established body, which by its
power and threats might, if necessary, overawe the government. The
confederates, therefore, acted quite consistently with their designs,
in contenting themselves with this answer, and referring the rest to
the good pleasure of the king. As, indeed, the whole pantomime of
petitioning had only been invented to cover the more daring plan of the
league, until it should have strength enough to show itself in its true
light, they felt that much more depended on their being able to continue
this mask, and on the favorable reception of their petition, than on its
speedily being granted. In a new memorial, which they delivered three
days after, they pressed for an express testimonial from the regent that
they had done no more than their duty, and been guided simply by their
zeal for the service of the king. When the duchess evaded a
declaration, they even sent a person to repeat this request in a private
interview. "Time alone and their future behavior," she replied to this
person, "would enable her to judge of their designs."

The league had its origin in banquets, and a banquet gave it form and
perfection. On the very day that the second petition was presented
Brederode entertained the confederates in Kuilemberg house. About three
hundred guests assembled; intoxication gave them courage, and their
audacity rose with their numbers. During the conversation one of their
number happened to remark that he had overheard the Count of Barlaimont
whisper in French to the regent, who was seen to turn pale on the
delivery of the petitions, that "she need not be afraid of a band of
beggars (gueux);" (in fact, the majority of them had by their bad
management of their incomes only too well deserved this appellation.)
Now, as the very name for their fraternity was the very thing which had
most perplexed them, an expression was eagerly caught up, which, while
it cloaked the presumption of their enterprise in humility, was at the
same time appropriate to them as petitioners. Immediately they drank to
one another under this name, and the cry "long live the Gueux!" was
accompanied with a general shout of applause. After the cloth had been
removed Brederode appeared with a wallet over his shoulder similar to
that which the vagrant pilgrims and mendicant monks of the time used to
carry, and after returning thanks to all for their accession to the
league, and boldly assuring them that he was ready to venture life and
limb for every individual present, he drank to the health of the whole
company out of a wooden beaker. The cup went round and every one
uttered the same vow as be set it to his lips. Then one after the other
they received the beggar's purse, and each hung it on a nail which he
had appropriated to himself. The shouts and uproar attending this
buffoonery attracted the Prince of Orange and Counts Egmont and Horn,
who by chance were passing the spot at the very moment, and on entering
the house were boisterously pressed by Brederode, as host, to remain and
drink a glass with them.

   ["But," Egmont asserted in his written defence "we drank only one
   single small glass, and thereupon they cried 'long live the king
   and the Gueux!' This was the first time that I heard that
   appellation, and it certainly did not please me. But the times
   were so bad that one was often compelled to share in much that was
   against one's inclination, and I knew not but I was doing an
   innocent thing." Proces criminels des Comtes d'Egmont, etc.. 7. 1.
   Egmont's defence, Hopper, 94. Strada, 127-130. Burgund., 185,
   187.]

The entrance of three such influential personages renewed the mirth of
the guests, and their festivities soon passed the bounds of moderation.
Many were intoxicated; guests and attendants mingled together without
distinction; the serious and the ludicrous, drunken fancies and affairs
of state were blended one with another in a burlesque medley; and the
discussions on the general distress of the country ended in the wild
uproar of a bacchanalian revel. But it did not stop here; what they had
resolved on in the moment of intoxication they attempted when sober to
carry into execution. It was necessary to manifest to the people in
some striking shape the existence of their protectors, and likewise to
fan the zeal of the faction by a visible emblem; for this end nothing
could be better than to adopt publicly this name of Gueux, and to borrow
from it the tokens of the association. In a few days the town of
Brussels swarmed with ash-gray garments such as were usually worn by
mendicant friars and penitents. Every confederate put his whole family
and domestics in this dress. Some carried wooden bowls thinly overlaid
with plates of silver, cups of the same kind, and wooden knives; in
short the whole paraphernalia of the beggar tribe, which they either
fixed around their hats or suspended from their girdles: Round the neck
they wore a golden or silver coin, afterwards called the Geusen penny,
of which one side bore the effigy of the king, with the inscription,
"True to the king;" on the other side were seen two hands folded
together holding a wallet, with the words "as far as the beggar's
scrip." Hence the origin of the name "Gueux," which was subsequently
borne in the Netherlands by all who seceded from popery and took up arms
against the king.

Before the confederates separated and dispersed among the provinces they
presented themselves once more before the duchess, in order to remind
her of the necessity of leniency towards the heretics until the arrival
of the king's answer from Spain, if she did not wish to drive the people
to extremities. "If, however," they added, "a contrary behavior should
give rise to any evils they at least must be regarded as having done
their duty."

To this the regent replied, "she hoped to be able to adopt such
measures as would render it impossible for disorders to ensue; but if,
nevertheless, they did occur, she could ascribe them to no one but the
confederates. She therefore earnestly admonished them on their part to
fulfil their engagements, but especially to receive no new members into
the league, to hold no more private assemblies, and generally not to
attempt any novel and unconstitutional measures." And in order to
tranquillize their minds she commanded her private secretary, Berti, to
show them the letters to the inquisitors and secular judges, wherein
they were enjoined to observe moderation towards all those who had not
aggravated their heretical offences by any civil crime. Before their
departure from Brussels they named four presidents from among their
number who were to take care of the affairs of the league, and also
particular administrators for each province. A few were left behind in
Brussels to keep a watchful eye on all the movements of the court.
Brederode, Kuilemberg, and Bergen at last quitted the town, attended by
five hundred and fifty horsemen, saluted it once more beyond the walls
with a discharge of musketry, and then the three leaders parted,
Brederode taking the road to Antwerp, and the two others to Guelders.
The regent had sent off an express to Antwerp to warn the magistrate of
that town against him. On his arrival more than a thousand persons
thronged to the hotel where he had taken up his abode. Showing himself
at a window, with a full wineglass in his hand, he thus addressed them:
"Citizens of Antwerp! I am here at the hazard of my life and my
property to relieve you from the oppressive burden of the Inquisition.
If you are ready to share this enterprise with me, and to acknowledge me
as your leader, accept the health which I here drink to you, and hold up
your hands in testimony of your approbation." Hereupon he drank to
their health, and all hands were raised amidst clamorous shouts of
exultation. After this heroic deed he quitted Antwerp.

Immediately after the delivery of the "petition of the nobles," the
regent had caused a new form of the edicts to be drawn up in the privy
council, which should keep the mean between the commands of the king and
the demands of the confederates. But the next question that arose was
to determine whether it would be advisable immediately to promulgate
this mitigated form, or moderation, as it was commonly called, or to
submit it first to the king for his ratification. The privy council who
maintained that it would be presumptuous to take a step so important and
so contrary to the declared sentiments of the monarch without having
first obtained his sanction, opposed the vote of the Prince of Orange
who supported the former proposition. Besides, they urged, there was
cause to fear that it would not even content the nation.

A "moderation" devised with the assent of the states was what they
particularly insisted on. In order, therefore, to gain the consent of
the states, or rather to obtain it from them by stealth, the regent
artfully propounded the question to the provinces singly, and first of
all to those which possessed the least freedom, such as Artois, Namur,
and Luxemburg. Thus she not only prevented one province encouraging
another in opposition, but also gained this advantage by it, that the
freer provinces, such as Flanders and Brabant, which were prudently
reserved to the last, allowed themselves to be carried away by the
example of the others. By a very illegal procedure the representatives
of the towns were taken by surprise, and their consent exacted before
they could confer with their constituents, while complete silence was
imposed upon them with regard to the whole transaction. By these means
the regent obtained the unconditional consent of some of the provinces
to the "moderation," and, with a few slight changes, that of other
provinces. Luxemburg and Namur subscribed it without scruple. The
states of Artois simply added the condition that false informers should
be subjected to a retributive penalty; those of Hainault demanded that
instead of confiscation of the estates, which directly militated against
their privileges, another discretionary punishment should be introduced.
Flanders called for the entire abolition of the Inquisition, and desired
that the accused might be secured in right of appeal to their own
province. The states of Brabant were outwitted by the intrigues of the
court. Zealand, Holland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Friesland as being
provinces which enjoyed the most important privileges, and which,
moreover, watched over them with the greatest jealousy, were never asked
for their opinion. The provincial courts of judicature had also been
required to make a report on the projected amendment of the law, but we
may well suppose that it was unfavorable, as it never reached Spain.
From the principal cause of this "moderation," which, however, really
deserved its name, we may form a judgment of the general character of
the edicts themselves. "Sectarian writers," it ran, "the heads and
teachers of sects, as also those who conceal heretical meetings, or
cause any other public scandal, shall be punished with the gallows, and
their estates, where the law of the province permit it, confiscated; but
if they abjure their errors, their punishment shall be commuted into
decapitation with the sword, and their effects shall be preserved to
their families." A cruel snare for parental affection! Less grievous
heretics, it was further enacted, shall, if penitent, be pardoned; and
if impenitent shall be compelled to leave the country, without, however,
forfeiting their estates, unless by continuing to lead others astray
they deprive themselves of the benefit of this provision. The
Anabaptists, however, were expressly excluded from benefiting by this
clause; these, if they did not clear themselves by the most thorough
repentance, were to forfeit their possessions; and if, on the other
hand, they relapsed after penitence, that is, were backsliding heretics,
they were to be put to death without mercy. The greater regard for life
and property which is observable in this ordinance as compared with the
edicts, and which we might be tempted to ascribe to a change of
intention in the Spanish ministry, was nothing more than a compulsory
step extorted by the determined opposition of the nobles. So little,
too, were the people in the Netherlands satisfied by this "moderation,"
which fundamentally did not remove a single abuse, that instead of
"moderation" (mitigation), they indignantly called it "moorderation,"
that is, murdering.

After the consent of the states had in this manner been extorted from
them, the "moderation" was submitted to the council of the state, and,
after receiving their signatures, forwarded to the king in Spain in
order to receive from his ratification the force of law.

The embassy to Madrid, which had been agreed upon with the confederates,
was at the outset entrusted to the Marquis of Bergen, who, however, from
a distrust of the present disposition of the king, which was only too
well grounded, and from reluctance to engage alone in so delicate a
business, begged for a coadjutor.

   [This Marquis of Bergen is to be distinguished from Count William
   of Bergen, who was among the first who subscribed the covenant.
   Vigi. ad Hopper, Letter VII.]

He obtained one in the Baron of Montigny, who had previously been
employed in a similar duty, and had discharged it with high credit.
As, however, circumstances had since altered so much that he had just
anxiety as to his present reception in Madrid for his greater safety,
he stipulated with the duchess that she should write to the monarch
previously; and that he, with his companion, should, in the meanwhile,
travel slowly enough to give time for the king's answer reaching him en
route. His good genius wished, as it appeared, to save him from the
terrible fate which awaited him in Madrid, for his departure was delayed
by an unexpected obstacle, the Marquis of Bergen being disabled from
setting out immediately through a wound which he received from the blow
of a tennis-ball. At last, however, yielding to the pressing
importunities of the regent, who was anxious to expedite the business,
he set out alone, not, as he hoped, to carry the cause of his nation,
but to die for it.

In the meantime the posture of affairs had changed so greatly in the
Netherlands, the step which the nobles had recently taken had so nearly
brought on a complete rupture with the government, that it seemed
impossible for the Prince of Orange and his friends to maintain any
longer the intermediate and delicate position which they had hitherto
held between the country and the court, or to reconcile the
contradictory duties to which it gave rise. Great must have been
the restraint which, with their mode of thinking, they had to put on
themselves not to take part in this contest; much, too, must their
natural love of liberty, their patriotism, and their principles of
toleration have suffered from the constraint which their official
station imposed upon them. On the other hand, Philip's distrust, the
little regard which now for a long time had been paid to their advice,
and the marked slights which the duchess publicly put upon them, had
greatly contributed to cool their zeal for the service, and to render
irksome the longer continuance of a part which they played with so much
repugnance and with so little thanks. This feeling was strengthened by
several intimations they received from Spain which placed beyond doubt
the great displeasure of the king at the petition of the nobles, and his
little satisfaction with their own behavior on that occasion, while they
were also led to expect that he was about to enter upon measures, to
which, as favorable to the liberties of their country, and for the most
part friends or blood relations of the confederates; they could never
lend their countenance or support. On the name which should be applied
in Spain to the confederacy of the nobles it principally depended what
course they should follow for the future. If the petition should be
called rebellion no alternative would be left them but either to come
prematurely to a dangerous explanation with the court, or to aid it in
treating as enemies those with whom they had both a fellow-feeling and a
common interest. This perilous alternative could only be avoided by
withdrawing entirely from public affairs; this plan they had once before
practically adopted, and under present circumstances it was something
more than a simple expedient. The whole nation had their eyes upon
them. An unlimited confidence in their integrity, and the universal
veneration for their persons, which closely bordered on idolatry, would
ennoble the cause which they might make their own and ruin that which
they should abandon. Their share in the administration of the state,
though it were nothing more than nominal, kept the opposite party in
check; while they attended the senate violent measures were avoided
because their continued presence still favored some expectations of
succeeding by gentle means. The withholding of their approbation, even
if it did not proceed from their hearts, dispirited the faction, which,
on the contrary, would exert its full strength so soon as it could
reckon even distantly on obtaining so weighty a sanction. The very
measures of the government which, if they came through their hands, were
certain of a favorable reception and issue, would without them prove
suspected and futile; even the royal concessions, if they were not
obtained by the mediation of these friends of the people, would fail of
the chief part of their efficacy. Besides, their retirement from public
affairs would deprive the regent of the benefit of their advice at a
time when counsel was most indispensable to her; it would, moreover,
leave the preponderance with a party which, blindly dependent on the
court, and ignorant of the peculiarities of republican character, would
neglect nothing to aggravate the evil, and to drive to extremity the
already exasperated mind of the public.

All these motives (and it is open to every one, according to his good or
bad opinion of the prince, to say which was the most influential) tended
alike to move him to desert the regent, and to divest himself of all
share in public affairs. An opportunity for putting this resolve into
execution soon presented itself. The prince had voted for the immediate
promulgation of the newly-revised edicts; but the regent, following the
suggestion of her privy council, had determined to transmit them first
to the king. "I now see clearly," he broke out with well-acted
vehemence, "that all the advice which I give is distrusted. The king
requires no servants whose loyalty he is determined to doubt; and far be
it from me to thrust my services upon a sovereign who is unwilling to
receive them. Better, therefore, for him and me that I withdraw from
public affairs." Count Horn expressed himself nearly to the same
effect. Egmont requested permission to visit the baths of
Aix-la-Chapelle, the use of which had been prescribed to him by his
physician, although (as it is stated in his accusation) he appeared
health itself. The regent, terrified at the consequences which must
inevitably follow this step, spoke sharply to the prince. "If neither my
representations, nor the general welfare can prevail upon you, so far as
to induce you to relinquish this intention, let me advise you to be more
careful, at least, of your own reputation. Louis of Nassau is your
brother; he and Count Brederode, the heads of the confederacy, have
publicly been your guests. The petition is in substance identical with
your own representations in the council of state. If you now suddenly
desert the cause of your king will it not be universally said that you
favor the conspiracy?" We do not find it anywhere stated whether the
prince really withdrew at this time from the council of state; at all
events, if he did, he must soon have altered his mind, for shortly after
he appears again in public transactions. Egmont allowed himself to be
overcome by the remonstrances of the regent; Horn alone actually withdrew
himself to one of his estates,--[Where he remained three months
inactive.]--with the resolution of never more serving either emperor or
king. Meanwhile the Gueux had dispersed themselves through the provinces,
and spread everywhere the most favorable reports of their success.
According to their assertions, religious freedom was finally assured; and
in order to confirm their statements they helped themselves, where the
truth failed, with falsehood. For example, they produced a forged letter
of the Knights of the Fleece, in which the latter were made solemnly to
declare that for the future no one need fear imprisonment, or banishment,
or death on account of religion, unless he also committed a political
crime; and even in that case the confederates alone were to be his
judges; and this regulation was to be in force until the king, with the
consent and advice of the states of the realm, should otherwise dispose.
Earnestly as the knights applied themselves upon the first information of
the fraud to rescue the nation from their delusion, still it had already
in this short interval done good service to the faction. If there are
truths whose effect is limited to a single instant, then inventions which
last so long can easily assume their place. Besides, the report, however
false, was calculated both to awaken distrust between the regent and the
knights, and to support the courage of the Protestants by fresh hopes,
while it also furnished those who were meditating innovation an
appearance of right, which, however unsubstantial they themselves knew it
to be, served as a colorable pretext for their proceedings. Quickly as
this delusion was dispelled, still, in the short space of time that it
obtained belief, it had occasioned so many extravagances, had introduced
so much irregularity and license, that a return to the former state of
things became impossible, and continuance in the course already commenced
was rendered necessary as well by habit as by despair. On the very first
news of this happy result the fugitive Protestants had returned to their
homes, which they had so unwillingly abandoned; those who had been in
concealment came forth from their hiding-places; those who had hitherto
paid homage to the new religion in their hearts alone, emboldened by
these pretended acts of toleration, now gave in their adhesion to it
publicly and decidedly. The name of the "Gueux" was extolled in all the
provinces; they were called the pillars of religion and liberty; their
party increased daily, and many of the merchants began to wear their
insignia. The latter made an alteration in the "Gueux" penny, by
introducing two travellers' staffs, laid crosswise, to intimate that they
stood prepared and ready at any instant to forsake house and hearth for
the sake of religion. The Gueux league, in short, had now given to things
an entirely different form. The murmurs of the people, hitherto impotent
and despised, as being the cries of individuals, had, now that they were
concentrated, become formidable; and had gained power, direction, and
firmness through union. Every one who was rebelliously disposed now
looked on himself as the member of a venerable and powerful body, and
believed that by carrying his own complaints to the general stock of
discontent he secured the free expression of them. To be called an
important acquisition to the league flattered the vain; to be lost,
unnoticed, and irresponsible in the crowd was an inducement to the timid.
The face which the confederacy showed to the nation was very unlike that
which it had turned to the court. But had its objects been the purest,
had it really been as well disposed towards the throne as it wished to
appear, still the multitude would have regarded only what was illegal in
its proceedings, and upon them its better intentions would have been
entirely lost.



              PUBLIC PREACHING.

No moment could be more favorable to the Huguenots and the German
Protestants than the present to seek a market for their dangerous
commodity in the Netherlands. Accordingly, every considerable town now
swarmed with suspicious arrivals, masked spies, and the apostles of
every description of heresy. Of the religious parties, which had sprung
up by secession from the ruling church, three chiefly had made
considerable progress in the provinces. Friesland and the adjoining
districts were overrun by the Anabaptists, who, however, as the most
indigent, without organization and government, destitute of military
resources, and moreover at strife amongst themselves, awakened the least
apprehension. Of far more importance were the Calvanists, who prevailed
in the southern provinces, and above all in Flanders, who were
powerfully supported by their neighbors the Huguenots, the republic of
Geneva, the Swiss Cantons, and part of Germany, and whose opinions, with
the exception of a slight difference, were also held by the throne in
England. They were also the most numerous party, especially among the
merchants and common citizens. The Huguenots, expelled from France, had
been the chief disseminators of the tenets of this party. The Lutherans
were inferior both in numbers and wealth, but derived weight from having
many adherents among the nobility. They occupied, for the most part,
the eastern portion of the Netherlands, which borders on Germany, and
were also to be found in some of the northern territories. Some of the
most powerful princes of Germany were their allies; and the religious
freedom of that empire, of which by the Burgundian treaty the
Netherlands formed an integral part, was claimed by them with some
appearance of right. These three religious denominations met together
in Antwerp, where the crowded population concealed them, and the
mingling of all nations favored liberty. They had nothing in common,
except an equally inextinguishable hatred of popery, of the Inquisition
in particular, and of the Spanish government, whose instrument it was;
while, on the other hand, they watched each other with a jealousy which
kept their zeal in exercise, and prevented the glowing ardor of
fanaticism from waxing dull.

The regent, in expectation that the projected "moderation" would be
sanctioned by the king, had, in the meantime, to gratify the Gueux,
recommended the governors and municipal officers of the provinces to be
as moderate as possible in their proceedings against heretics;
instructions which were eagerly followed, and interpreted in the widest
sense by the majority, who had hitherto administered the painful duty of
punishment with extreme repugnance. Most of the chief magistrates were
in their hearts averse to the Inquisition and the Spanish tyranny, and
many were even secretly attached to one or other of the religious
parties; even the others were unwilling to inflict punishment on
their countrymen to gratify their sworn enemies, the Spaniards.
All, therefore, purposely misunderstood the regent, and allowed the
Inquisition and the edicts to fall almost entirely into disuse.
This forbearance of the government, combined with the brilliant
representations of the Gueux, lured from their obscurity the
Protestants, who, however, had now grown too powerful to be any longer
concealed. Hitherto they had contented themselves with secret
assemblies by night; now they thought themselves numerous and formidable
enough to venture to these meetings openly and publicly. This license
commenced somewhere between Oudenarde and Ghent, and soon spread through
the rest of Flanders. A certain Herrnann Stricker, born at Overyssel,
formerly a monk, a daring enthusiast of able mind, imposing figure, and
ready tongue, was the first who collected the people for a sermon in the
open air. The novelty of the thing gathered together a crowd of about
seven thousand persons. A magistrate of the neighborhood, more
courageous than wise, rushed amongst the crowd with his drawn sword, and
attempted to seize the preacher, but was so roughly handled by the
multitude, who for want of other weapons took up stones and felled him
to the ground, that he was glad to beg for his life.

   [The unheard-of foolhardiness of a single man rushing into the
   midst of a fanatical crowd of seven thousand people to seize before
   their eyes one whom they adored, proves, more than all that can be
   said on the subject the insolent contempt with which the Roman
   Catholics of the time looked down upon the so-called heretics as an
   inferior race of beings.]

This success of the first attempt inspired courage for a second. In the
vicinity of Aalst they assembled again in still greater numbers; but on
this occasion they provided themselves with rapiers, firearms, and
halberds, placed sentries at all the approaches, which they also
barricaded with carts and carriages. All passers-by were obliged,
whether willing or otherwise, to take part in the religious service, and
to enforce this object lookout parties were posted at certain distances
round the place of meeting. At the entrance booksellers stationed
themselves, offering for sale Protestant catechisms, religious tracts,
and pasquinades on the bishops. The preacher, Hermann Stricker, held
forth from a pulpit which was hastily constructed for the occasion out
of carts and trunks of trees. A canvas awning drawn over it protected
him from the sun and the rain; the preacher's position was in the
quarter of the wind that the people might not lose any part of his
sermon, which consisted principally of revilings against popery. Here
the sacraments were administered after the Calvinistic fashion, and
water was procured from the nearest river to baptize infants without
further ceremony, after the practice, it was pretended, of the earliest
times of Christianity. Couples were also united in wedlock, and the
marriage ties dissolved between others. To be present at this meeting
half the population of Ghent had left its gates; their example was soon
followed in other parts, and ere long spread over the whole of East
Flanders. In like manner Peter Dathen, another renegade monk, from
Poperingen, stirred up West Flanders; as many as fifteen thousand
persons at a time attended his preaching from the villages and hamlets;
their number made them bold, and they broke into the prisons, where some
Anabaptists were reserved for martyrdom. In Tournay the Protestants
were excited to a similar pitch of daring by Ambrosius Ville, a French
Calvinist. They demanded the release of the prisoners of their sect,
and repeatedly threatened if their demands were not complied with to
deliver up the town to the French. It was entirely destitute of a
garrison, for the commandant, from fear of treason, had withdrawn it
into the castle, and the soldiers, moreover, refused to act against
their fellow-citizens. The sectarians carried their audacity to such
great lengths as to require one of the churches within the town to be
assigned to them; and when this was refused they entered into a league
with Valenciennes and Antwerp to obtain a legal recognition of their
worship, after the example of the other towns, by open force. These
three towns maintained a close connection with each other, and the
Protestant party was equally powerful in all. While, however, no one
would venture singly to commence the disturbance, they agreed
simultaneously to make a beginning with public preaching. Brederode's
appearance in Antwerp at last gave them courage. Six thousand persons,
men and women, poured forth from the town on an appointed day, on which
the same thing happened in Tournay and Valenciennes. The place of
meeting was closed in with a line of vehicles, firmly fastened together,
and behind them armed men were secretly posted, with a view to protect
the service from any surprise. Of the preachers, most of whom were men
of the very lowest class--some were Germans, some were Huguenots--and
spoke in the Walloon dialect; some even of the citizens felt themselves
called upon to take a part in this sacred work, now that no fears of the
officers of justice alarmed them. Many were drawn to the spot by mere
curiosity to hear what kind of new and unheard-of doctrines these
foreign teachers, whose arrival had caused so much talk, would set
forth. Others were attracted by the melody of the psalms, which were
sung in a French version, after the custom in Geneva. A great number
came to hear these sermons as so many amusing comedies such was the
buffoonery with which the pope, the fathers of the ecclesiastical
council of Trent, purgatory, and other dogmas of the ruling church were
abused in them. And, in fact, the more extravagant was this abuse and
ridicule the more it tickled the ears of the lower orders; and a
universal clapping of hands, as in a theatre, rewarded the speaker who
had surpassed others in the wildness of his jokes and denunciations.
But the ridicule which was thus cast upon the ruling church was,
nevertheless, not entirely lost on the minds of the hearers, as neither
were the few grains of truth or reason which occasionally slipped in
among it; and many a one, who had sought from these sermons anything but
conviction, unconsciously carried away a little also of it.

These assemblies were several times repeated, and each day augmented the
boldness of the sectarians; till at last they even ventured, after
concluding the service to conduct their preachers home in triumph, with
an escort of armed horsemen, and ostentatiously to brave the law. The
town council sent express after express to the duchess, entreating her
to visit them in person, and if possible to reside for a short time in
Antwerp, as the only expedient to curb the arrogance of the populace;
and assuring her that the most eminent merchants, afraid of being
plundered, were already preparing to quit it. Fear of staking the royal
dignity on so hazardous a stroke of policy forbade her compliance; but
she despatched in her stead Count Megen, in order to treat with the
magistrate for the introduction of a garrison. The rebellious mob, who
quickly got an inkling of the object of his visit, gathered around him
with tumultuous cries, shouting, "He was known to them as a sworn enemy
of the Gueux; that it was notorious he was bringing upon them prisons
and the Inquisition, and that he should leave the town instantly." Nor
was the tumult quieted till Megen was beyond the gates. The Calvinists
now handed in to the magistrate a memorial, in which they showed that
their great numbers made it impossible for them henceforward to assemble
in secrecy, and requested a separate place of worship to be allowed them
inside the town. The town council renewed its entreaties to the duchess
to assist, by her personal presence, their perplexities, or at least to
send to them the Prince of Orange, as the only person for whom the
people still had any respect, and, moreover, as specially bound to the
town of Antwerp by his hereditary title of its burgrave. In order to
escape the greater evil she was compelled to consent to the second
demand, however much against her inclination to entrust Antwerp to the
prince. After allowing himself to be long and fruitlessly entreated,
for he had all at once resolved to take no further share in public
affairs, he yielded at last to the earnest persuasions of the regent
and the boisterous wishes of the people. Brederode, with a numerous
retinue, came half a mile out of the town to meet him, and both parties
saluted each other with a discharge of pistols. Antwerp appeared to
have poured out all her inhabitants to welcome her deliverer. The high
road swarmed with multitudes; the roofs were taken off the houses in
order that they might accommodate more spectators; behind fences, from
churchyard walls, even out of graves started up men. The attachment of
the people to the prince showed itself in childish effusions. "Long
live the Gueux!" was the shout with which young and old received him.
"Behold," cried others, "the man who shall give us liberty." "He brings
us," cried the Lutherans, "the Confession of Augsburg!" "We don't want
the Gueux now!" exclaimed others; "we have no more need of the
troublesome journey to Brussels. He alone is everything to us!" Those
who knew not what to say vented their extravagant joy in psalms, which
they vociferously chanted as they moved along. He, however, maintained
his gravity, beckoned for silence, and at last, when no one would listen
to him, exclaimed with indignation, half real and half affected, "By
God, they ought to consider what they did, or they would one day repent
what they had now done." The shouting increased even as he rode into
the town. The first conference of the prince with the heads of the
different religious sects, whom he sent for and separately interrogated,
presently convinced him that the chief source of the evil was the mutual
distrust of the several parties, and the suspicions which the citizens
entertained of the designs of the government, and that therefore it must
be his first business to restore confidence among them all. First of
all he attempted, both by persuasion and artifice, to induce the
Calvinists, as the most numerous body, to lay down their weapons, and in
this he at last, with much labor, succeeded. When, however, some wagons
were soon afterwards seen laden with ammunition in Malines, and the high
bailiff of Brabant showed himself frequently in the neighborhood of
Antwerp with an armed force, the Calvinists, fearing hostile
interruption of their religious worship, besought the prince to allot
them a place within the walls for their sermons, which should be secure
from a surprise. He succeeded once more in pacifying them, and his
presence fortunately prevented an outbreak on the Assumption of the
Virgin, which, as usual, had drawn a crowd to the town, and from whose
sentiments there was but too much reason for alarm. The image of the
Virgin was, with the usual pomp, carried round the town without
interruption; a few words of abuse, and a suppressed murmur about
idolatry, was all that the disapproving multitudes indulged in against
the procession.


1566. While the regent received from one province after another the
most melancholy accounts of the excesses of the Protestants, and while
she trembled for Antwerp, which she was compelled to leave in the
dangerous hands of the Prince of Orange, a new terror assailed her from
another quarter. Upon the first authentic tidings of the public
preaching she immediately called upon the league to fulfil its promises
and to assist her in restoring order. Count Brederode used this pretext
to summon a general meeting of the whole league, for which he could not
have selected a more dangerous moment than the present. So ostentatious
a display of the strength of the league, whose existence and protection
had alone encouraged the Protestant mob to go the length it had already
gone, would now raise the confidence of the sectarians, while in the
same degree it depressed the courage of the regent. The convention took
place in the town of Liege St. Truyen, into which Brederode and Louis of
Nassau had thrown themselves at the head of two thousand confederates.
As the long delay of the royal answer from Madrid seemed to presage no
good from that quarter, they considered it advisable in any case to
extort from the regent a letter of indemnity for their persons.

Those among them who were conscious of a disloyal sympathy with the
Protestant mob looked on its licentiousness as a favorable circumstance
for the league; the apparent success of those to whose degrading
fellowship they had deigned to stoop led them to alter their tone; their
former laudable zeal began to degenerate into insolence and defiance.
Many thought that they ought to avail themselves of the general
confusion and the perplexity of the duchess to assume a bolder tone and
heap demand upon demand. The Roman Catholic members of the league,
among whom many were in their hearts still strongly inclined to the
royal cause, and who had been drawn into a connection with the league by
occasion and example, rather than from feeling and conviction, now heard
to their astonishment propositions for establishing universal freedom of
religion, and were not a little shocked to discover in how perilous an
enterprise they had hastily implicated themselves. On this discovery
the young Count Mansfeld withdrew immediately from it, and internal
dissensions already began to undermine the work of precipitation and
haste, and imperceptibly to loosen the joints of the league.

Count Egmont and William of Orange were empowered by the regent to treat
with the confederates. Twelve of the latter, among whom were Louis of
Nassau, Brederode, and Kuilemberg, conferred with them in Duffle, a
village near Malines. "Wherefore this new step?" demanded the regent
by the mouth of these two noblemen. "I was required to despatch
ambassadors to Spain; and I sent them. The edicts and the Inquisition
were complained of as too rigorous; I have rendered both more lenient.
A general assembly of the states of the realm was proposed; I have
submitted this request to the king because I could not grant it from my
own authority. What, then, have I unwittingly either omitted or done
that should render necessary this assembling in St. Truyen? Is it
perhaps fear of the king's anger and of its consequences that disturbs
the confederates? The provocation certainly is great, but his mercy is
even greater. Where now is the promise of the league to excite no
disturbances amongst the people? Where those high-sounding professions
that they were ready to die at my feet rather, than offend against any
of the prerogatives of the crown? The innovators already venture on
things which border closely on rebellion, and threaten the state with
destruction; and it is to the league that they appeal. If it continues
silently to tolerate this it will justly bring on itself the charge of
participating in the guilt of their offences; if it is honestly disposed
towards the sovereign it cannot remain longer inactive in this
licentiousness of the mob. But, in truth, does it not itself outstrip
the insane population by its dangerous example, concluding, as it is
known to do, alliances with the enemies of the country, and confirming
the evil report of its designs by the present illegal meeting?"

Against these reproaches the league formally justified itself in a
memorial which it deputed three of its members to deliver to the council
of state at Brussels.

"All," it commenced, "that your highness has done in respect to our
petition we have felt with the most lively gratitude; and we cannot
complain of any new measure, subsequently adopted, inconsistent with
your promise; but we cannot help coming to the conclusion that the
orders of your highness are by the judicial courts, at least, very
little regarded; for we are continually hearing--and our own eyes attest
to the truth of the report--that in all quarters our fellow-citizens are
in spite of the orders of your highness still mercilessly dragged before
the courts of justice and condemned to death for religion. What the
league engaged on its part to do it has honestly fulfilled; it has, too,
to the utmost of its power endeavored to prevent the public preachings;
but it certainly is no wonder if the long delay of an answer from Madrid
fills the mind of the people with distrust, and if the disappointed
hopes of a general assembly of the states disposes them to put little
faith in any further assurances. The league has never allied, nor ever
felt any temptation to ally, itself with the enemies of the country. If
the arms of France were to appear in the provinces we, the confederates,
would be the first to mount and drive them back again. The league,
however, desires to be candid with your highness. We thought we read
marks of displeasure in your countenance; we see men in exclusive
possession of your favor who are notorious for their hatred against us.
We daily hear that persons are warned from associating with us, as with
those infected with the plague, while we are denounced with the arrival
of the king as with the opening of a day of judgment--what is more
natural than that such distrust shown to us should at last rouse our
own? That the attempt to blacken our league with the reproach of
treason, that the warlike preparations of the Duke of Savoy and of other
princes, which, according to common report, are directed against
ourselves; the negotiations of the king with the French court to obtain
a passage through that kingdom for a Spanish army, which is destined,
it is said, for the Netherlands--what wonder if these and similar
occurrences should have stimulated us to think in time of the means of
self-defence, and to strengthen ourselves by an alliance with our
friends beyond the frontier? On a general, uncertain, and vague rumor
we are accused of a share in this licentiousness of the Protestant mob;
but who is safe from general rumor? True it is, certainly, that of our
numbers some are Protestants, to whom religious toleration would be a
welcome boon; but even they have never forgotten what they owe to their
sovereign. It is not fear of the king's anger which instigated us to
hold this assembly. The king is good, and we still hope that he is also
just. It cannot, therefore, be pardon that we seek from him, and just
as little can it be oblivion that we solicit for our actions, which are
far from being the least considerable of the services we have at
different times rendered his majesty. Again, it is true, that the
delegates of the Lutherans and Calvinists are with us in St. Truyen;
nay, more, they have delivered to us a petition which, annexed to this
memorial, we here present to your highness. In it they offer to go
unarmed to their preachings if the league will tender its security to
them, and be willing to engage for a general meeting of the states. We
have thought it incumbent upon us to communicate both these matters to
you, for our guarantee can have no force unless it is at the same time
confirmed by your highness and some of your principal counsellors.
Among these no one can be so well acquainted with the circumstances of
our cause, or be so upright in intention towards us, as the Prince of
Orange and Counts Horn and Egmont. We gladly accept these three as
meditators if the necessary powers are given to them, and assurance is
afforded us that no troops will be enlisted without their knowledge.
This guarantee, however, we only require for a given period, before the
expiration of which it will rest with the king whether he will cancel or
confirm it for the future. If the first should be his will it will then
be but fair that time should be allowed us to place our persons and our
property in security; for this three weeks will be sufficient. Finally,
and in conclusion, we on our part also pledge ourselves to undertake
nothing new without the concurrence of those three persons, our
mediators."

The league would not have ventured to hold such bold language if it had
not reckoned on powerful support and protection; but the regent was as
little in a condition to concede their demands as she was incapable of
vigorously opposing them. Deserted in Brussels by most of her
counsellors of state, who had either departed to their provinces, or
under some pretext or other had altogether withdrawn from public
affairs; destitute as well of advisers as of money (the latter want had
compelled her, in the first instance, to appeal to the liberality of the
clergy; when this proved insufficient, to have recourse to a lottery),
dependent on orders from Spain, which were ever expected and never
received, she was at last reduced to the degrading expedient of entering
into a negotiation with the confederates in St. Truyen, that they should
wait twenty-four days longer for the king's resolution before they took
any further steps. It was certainly surprising that the king still
continued to delay a decisive answer to the petition, although it was
universally known that he had answered letters of a much later date, and
that the regent earnestly importuned him on this head. She had also, on
the commencement of the public preaching, immediately despatched the
Marquis of Bergen after the Baron of Montigny, who, as an eye-witness of
these new occurrences, could confirm her written statements, to move the
king to an earlier decision.


1566. In the meanwhile, the Flemish ambassador, Florence of Montigny,
had arrived in Madrid, where he was received with a great show of
consideration. His instructions were to press for the abolition of the
Inquisition and the mitigation of the edicts; the augmentation of the
council of state, and the incorporation with it of the two other
councils; the calling of a general assembly of the states, and, lastly,
to urge the solicitations of the regent for a personal visit from the
king. As the latter, however, was only desirous of gaining time,
Montigny was put off with fair words until the arrival of his coadjutor,
without whom the king was not willing to come to any final
determination. In the meantime, Montigny had every day and at any hour
that he desired, an audience with the king, who also commanded that on
all occasions the despatches of the duchess and the answers to them
should be communicated to himself. He was, too, frequently admitted to
the council for Belgian affairs, where he never omitted to call the
king's attention to the necessity of a general assembly of the states,
as being the only means of successfully meeting the troubles which had
arisen, and as likely to supersede the necessity of any other measure.
He moreover impressed upon him that a general and unreserved indemnity
for the past would alone eradicate the distrust, which was the source of
all existing complaints, and would always counteract the good effects of
every measure, however well advised. He ventured, from a thorough
acquaintance with circumstances and accurate knowledge of the character
of his countrymen, to pledge himself to the king for their inviolable
loyalty, as soon as they should be convinced of the honesty of his
intentions by the straightforwardness of his proceedings; while, on the
contrary, he assured him that there would be no hopes of it as long as
they were not relieved of the fear of being made the victims of the
oppression, and sacrificed to the envy of the Spanish nobles. At last
Montigny's coadjutor made his appearance, and the objects of their
embassy were made the subject of repeated deliberations.


1566. The king was at that time at his palace at Segovia, where also he
assembled his state council. The members were: the Duke of Alva; Don
Gomez de Figueroa; the Count of Feria; Don Antonio of Toledo, Grand
Commander of St. John; Don John Manriquez of Lara, Lord Steward to the
Queen; Ruy Gomez, Prince of Eboli and Count of Melito; Louis of Quixada,
Master of the Horse to the Prince; Charles Tyssenacque, President of the
Council for the Netherlands; Hopper, State Counsellor and Keeper of the
Seal; and State Counsellor Corteville. The sitting of the council was
protracted for several days; both ambassadors were in attendance, but
the king was not himself present. Here, then, the conduct of the
Belgian nobles was examined by Spanish eyes; step by step it was traced
back to the most distant source; circumstances were brought into
relation with others which, in reality, never had any connection; and
what had been the offspring of the moment was made out to be a
well-matured and far-sighted plan. All the different transactions and
attempts of the nobles which had been governed solely by chance, and to
which the natural order of events alone assigned their particular shape
and succession, were said to be the result of a preconcerted scheme for
introducing universal liberty in religion, and for placing all the power
of the state in the hands of the nobles. The first step to this end
was, it was said, the violent expulsion of the minister Granvella,
against whom nothing could be charged, except that he was in possession
of an authority which they preferred to exercise themselves. The second
step was sending Count Egmont to Spain to urge the abolition of the
Inquisition and the mitigation of the penal statutes, and to prevail on
the king to consent to an augmentation of the council of state. As,
however, this could not be surreptitiously obtained in so quiet a
manner, the attempt was made to extort it from the court by a third and
more daring step--by a formal conspiracy, the league of the Gueux. The
fourth step to the same end was the present embassy, which at length
boldly cast aside the mask, and by the insane proposals which they were
not ashamed to make to their king, clearly brought to light the object
to which all the preceding steps had tended. Could the abolition of the
Inquisition, they exclaimed, lead to anything less than a complete
freedom of belief? Would not the guiding helm of conscience be lost
with it? Did not the proposed "moderation" introduce an absolute
impunity for all heresies? What was the project of augmenting the
council of state and of suppressing the two other councils but a
complete remodelling of the government of the country in favor of
the nobles?--a general constitution for all the provinces of the
Netherlands? Again, what was this compact of the ecclesiastics in their
public preachings but a third conspiracy, entered into with the very
same objects which the league of the nobles in the council of state and
that of the Gueux had failed to effect?

However, it was confessed that whatever might be the source of the evil
it was not on that account the less important and imminent. The
immediate personal presence of the king in Brussels was, indubitably,
the most efficacious means speedily and thoroughly to remedy it. As,
however, it was already so late in the year, and the preparations alone
for the journey would occupy the short tine which was to elapse before
the winter set in; as the stormy season of the year, as well as the
danger from French and English ships, which rendered the sea unsafe, did
not allow of the king's taking the northern route, which was the shorter
of the two; as the rebels themselves meanwhile might become possessed of
the island of Walcheren, and oppose the lauding of the king; for all
these reasons, the journey was not to be thought of before the spring,
and in absence of the only complete remedy it was necessary to rest
satisfied with a partial expedient. The council, therefore, agreed to
propose to the king, in the first place, that he should recall the papal
Inquisition from the provinces and rest satisfied with that of the
bishops; in the second place, that a new plan for the mitigation of the
edicts should be projected, by which the honor of religion and of the
king would be better preserved than it had been in the transmitted
"moderation;" thirdly, that in order to reassure the minds of the
people, and to leave no means untried, the king should impart to the
regent full powers to extend free grace and pardon to all those who had
not already committed any heinous crime, or who had not as yet been
condemned by any judicial process; but from the benefit of this
indemnity the preachers and all who harbored them were to be excepted.
On the other hand, all leagues, associations, public assemblies, and
preachings were to be henceforth prohibited under heavy penalties; if,
however, this prohibition should be infringed, the regent was to be at
liberty to employ the regular troops and garrisons for the forcible
reduction of the refractory, and also, in case of necessity, to enlist
new troops, and to name the commanders over them according as should be
deemed advisable. Finally, it would have a good effect if his majesty
would write to the most eminent towns, prelates, and leaders of the
nobility, to some in his own hand, and to all in a gracious tone, in
order to stimulate their zeal in his service.

When this resolution of his council of state was submitted to the king
his first measure was to command public processions and prayers in all
the most considerable places of the kingdom and also of the Netherlands,
imploring the Divine guidance in his decision. He appeared in his own
person in the council of state in order to approve this resolution and
render it effective. He declared the general assembly of the states to
be useless and entirely abolished it. He, however, bound himself to
retain some German regiments in his pay, and, that they might serve with
the more zeal, to pay them their long-standing arrears. He commanded
the regent in a private letter to prepare secretly for war; three
thousand horse and ten thousand infantry were to be assembled by her in
Germany, to which end he furnished her with the necessary letters and
transmitted to her a sum of three hundred thousand gold florins. He
also accompanied this resolution with several autograph letters to some
private individuals and towns, in which he thanked them in the most
gracious terms for the zeal which they had already displayed in his
service and called upon them to manifest the same for the future.
Notwithstanding that he was inexorable on the most important point,
and the very one on which the nation most particularly insisted--the
convocation of the states, notwithstanding that his limited and
ambiguous pardon was as good as none, and depended too much on arbitrary
will to calm the public mind; notwithstanding, in fine, that he
rejected, as too lenient, the proposed "moderation," but which, on the
part of the people, was complained of as too severe; still he had this
time made an unwonted step in the favor of the nation; he had sacrificed
to it the papal Inquisition and left only the episcopal, to which it was
accustomed. The nation had found more equitable judges in the Spanish
council than they could reasonably have hoped for. Whether at another
time and under other circumstances this wise concession would have had
the desired effect we will not pretend to say. It came too late; when
(1566) the royal letters reached Brussels the attack on images had
already commenced.



                 BOOK IV.


               THE ICONOCLASTS.



The springs of this extraordinary occurrence are plainly not to be
sought for so far back as many historians affect to trace them. It is
certainly possible, and very probable, that the French Protestants did
industriously exert themselves to raise in the Netherlands a nursery for
their religion, and to prevent by all means in their power an amicable
adjustment of differences between their brethren in the faith in that
quarter and the King of Spain, in order to give that implacable foe of
their party enough to do in his own country. It is natural, therefore,
to suppose that their agents in the provinces left nothing undone to
encourage their oppressed brethren with daring hopes, to nourish their
animosity against the ruling church, and by exaggerating the oppression
under which they sighed to hurry them imperceptibly into illegal
courses. It is possible, too, that there were many among the
confederates who thought to help out their own lost cause by increasing
the number of their partners in guilt; who thought they could not
otherwise maintain the legal character of their league unless the
unfortunate results against which they had warned the king really came
to pass, and who hoped in the general guilt of all to conceal their own
individual criminality. It is, however, incredible that the outbreak of
the Iconoclasts was the fruit of a deliberate plan, preconcerted, as it
is alleged, at the convent of St. Truyen. It does not seem likely that
in a solemn assembly of so many nobles and warriors, of whom the greater
part were the adherents of popery, an individual should be found insane
enough to propose an act of positive infamy, which did not so much
injure any religious party in particular, as rather tread under foot all
respect for religion in general, and even all morality too, and which
could have been conceived only in the mind of the vilest reprobate.
Besides, this outrage was too sudden in its outbreak, too vehement in
its execution altogether, too monstrous to have been anything more than
the offspring of the moment in which it saw the light; it seemed to flow
so naturally from the circumstances which preceded it that it does not
require to be traced far back to remount to its origin.

A rude mob, consisting of the very dregs of the populace, made brutal by
harsh treatment, by sanguinary decrees which dogged them in every town,
scared from place to place and driven almost to despair, were compelled
to worship their God, and to hide like a work of darkness the universal,
sacred privilege of humanity. Before their eyes proudly rose the
temples of the dominant church, in which their haughty brethren indulged
in ease their magnificent devotion, while they themselves were driven
from the walls, expelled, too, by the weaker number perhaps, and forced,
here in the wild woods, under the burning heat of noon, in disgraceful
secrecy to worship the same God; cast out from civil society into a
state of nature, and reminded in one dread moment of the rights of that
state! The greater their superiority of numbers the more unnatural did
their lot appear; with wonder they perceive the truth. The free heaven,
the arms lying ready, the frenzy in their brains and fury in their
hearts combine to aid the suggestions of some preaching fanatic; the
occasion calls; no premeditation is necessary where all eyes at once
declare consent; the resolution is formed ere yet the word is scarcely
uttered; ready for any unlawful act, no one yet clearly knows what,
the furious band rushes onwards. The smiling prosperity of the hostile
religion insults the poverty of their own; the pomp of the authorized
temples casts contempt on their proscribed belief; every cross they set
up upon the highway, every image of the saints that they meet, is a
trophy erected over their own humiliation, and they all must be removed
by their avenging hands. Fanaticism suggests these detestable
proceedings, but base passions carry them into execution.


1566. The commencement of the attack on images took place in West
Flanders and Artois, in the districts between Lys and the sea. A
frantic herd of artisans, boatmen, and peasants, mixed with prostitutes,
beggars, vagabonds, and thieves, about three hundred in number,
furnished with clubs, axes, hammers, ladders, and cords (a few only
were provided with swords or fire arms), cast themselves, with fanatical
fury, into the villages and hamlets near St. Omer, and breaking open the
gates of such churches and cloisters as they find locked, overthrow
everywhere the altars, break to pieces the images of the saints, and
trample them under foot. With their excitement increased by its
indulgence, and reinforced by newcomers, they press on by the direct
road to Ypres, where they can count on the support of a strong body of
Calvinists. Unopposed, they break into the cathedral, and mounting on
ladders they hammer to pieces the pictures, hew down with axes the
pulpits and pews, despoil the altars of their ornaments, and steal the
holy vessels. This example was quickly followed in Menin, Comines,
Verrich, Lille, and Oudenard; in a few days the same fury spreads
through the whole of Flanders. At the very time when the first tidings
of this occurrence arrived Antwerp was swarming with a crowd of
houseless people, which the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin had
brought together in that city. Even the presence of the Prince of
Orange was hardly sufficient to restrain the licentious mob, who burned
to imitate the doings of their brethren in St. Omer; but an order from
the court which summoned him to Brussels, where the regent was just
assembling her council of state, in order to lay before them the royal
letters, obliged him to abandon Antwerp to the outrages of this band.
His departure was the signal for tumult. Apprehensive of the lawless
violence of which, on the very first day of the festival, the mob had
given indications in derisory allusions, the priests, after carrying
about the image of the Virgin for a short time, brought it for safety
to the choir, without, as formerly, setting it up in the middle of the
church. This incited some mischievous boys from among the people to pay
it a visit there, and jokingly inquire why she had so soon absented
herself from among them? Others mounting the pulpit, mimicked the
preacher, and challenged the papists to a dispute. A Roman Catholic
waterman, indignant at this jest, attempted to pull them down, and blows
were exchanged in the preacher's seat. Similar scenes occurred on the
following evening. The numbers increased, and many came already
provided with suspicious implements and secret weapons. At last it came
into the head of one of them to cry, "Long live the Gueux!" immediately
the whole band took up the cry, and the image of the Virgin was called
upon to do the same. The few Roman Catholics who were present, and who
had given up the hope of effecting anything against these desperadoes,
left the church after locking all the doors except one. So soon as they
found themselves alone it was proposed to sing one of the psalms in the
new version, which was prohibited by the government. While they were
yet singing they all, as at a given signal, rushed furiously upon the
image of the Virgin, piercing it with swords and daggers, and striking
off its head; thieves and prostitutes tore the great wax-lights from the
altar, and lighted them to the work. The beautiful organ of the church,
a masterpiece of the art of that period, was broken to pieces, all the
paintings were effaced, the statues smashed to atoms. A crucifix, the
size of life, which was set up between the two thieves, opposite the
high altar, an ancient and highly valued piece of workmanship, was
pulled to the ground with cords, and cut to pieces with axes, while the
two malefactors at its side were respectfully spared. The holy wafers
were strewed on the ground and trodden under foot; in the wine used for
the Lord's Supper, which was accidentally found there, the health of the
Gueux was drunk, while with the holy oil they rubbed their shoes. The
very tombs were opened, and the half-decayed corpses torn up and
trampled on. All this was done with as much wonderful regularity as if
each had previously had his part assigned to him; every one worked into
his neighbor's hands; no one, dangerous as the work was, met with
injury; in the midst of thick darkness, which the tapers only served to
render more sensible, with heavy masses falling on all sides, and though
on the very topmost steps of the ladders, they scuffled with each other
for the honors of demolition--yet no one suffered the least injury. In
spite of the many tapers which lighted them below in their villanous
work not a single individual was recognized. With incredible rapidity
was the dark deed accomplished; a number of men, at most a hundred,
despoiled in a few hours a temple of seventy altars--after St. Peter's
at Rome, perhaps the largest and most magnificent in Christendom.

The devastation of the cathedral did not content them; with torches and
tapers purloined from it they set out at midnight to perform a similar
work of havoc on the remaining churches, cloisters, and chapels. The
destructive hordes increased with every fresh exploit of infamy, and
thieves were allured by the opportunity. They carried away whatever
they found of value--the consecrated vessels, altar-cloths, money, and
vestments; in the cellars of the cloisters they drank to intoxication;
to escape greater indignities the monks and nuns abandoned everything to
them. The confused noises of these riotous acts had startled the
citizens from their first sleep; but night made the danger appear more
alarming than it really was, and instead of hastening to defend their
churches the citizens fortified themselves in their houses, and in
terror and anxiety awaited the dawn of morning. The rising sun at
length revealed the devastation which had been going on during the
night; but the havoc did not terminate with the darkness. Some churches
and cloisters still remained uninjured; the same fate soon overtook them
also. The work of destruction lasted three whole days. Alarmed at last
lest the frantic mob, when it could no longer find anything sacred to
destroy, should make a similar attack on lay property and plunder their
ware houses; and encouraged, too, by discovering how small was the
number of the depredators, the wealthier citizens ventured to show
themselves in arms at the doors of their houses. All the gates of the
town were locked but one, through which the Iconoclasts broke forth to
renew the same atrocities in the rural districts. On one occasion only
during all this time did the municipal officers venture to exert their
authority, so strongly were they held in awe by the superior power of
the Calvinists, by whom, as it was believed, this mob of miscreants
was hired. The injury inflicted by this work of devastation was
incalculable. In the church of the Virgin it was estimated at not less
than four hundred thousand gold florins. Many precious works of art
were destroyed; many valuable manuscripts; many monuments of importance
to history and to diplomacy were thereby lost. The city magistrate
ordered the plundered articles to be restored on pain of death; in
enforcing this restitution he was effectually assisted by the preachers
of the Reformers, who blushed for their followers. Much was in this
manner recovered, and the ringleaders of the mob, less animated,
perhaps, by the desire of plunder than by fanaticism and revenge, or
perhaps being ruled by some unseen head, resolved for the future to
guard against these excesses, and to make their attacks in regular bands
and in better order.

The town of Ghent, meanwhile, trembled for a like destiny. Immediately
on the first news of the outbreak of the Iconoclasts in Antwerp the
magistrate of the former town with the most eminent citizens had bound
themselves to repel by force the church spoilers; when this oath was
proposed to the commonalty also the voices were divided, and many
declared openly that they were by no means disposed to hinder so devout
a work. In this state of affairs the Roman Catholic clergy found it
advisable to deposit in the citadel the most precious movables of their
churches, and private families were permitted in like manner to provide
for the safety of offerings which had been made by their ancestors.
Meanwhile all the services were discontinued, the courts of justice were
closed; and, like a town in momentary danger of being stormed by the
enemy, men trembled in expectation of what was to come. At last an
insane band of rioters ventured to send delegates to the governor with
this impudent message: "They were ordered," they said, "by their chiefs
to take the images out of the churches, as had been done in the other
towns. If they were not opposed it should be done quietly and with as
little injury as possible, but otherwise they would storm the churches;"
nay, they went so far in their audacity as to ask the aid of the
officers of justice therein. At first the magistrate was astounded at
this demand; upon reflection, however, and in the hope that the presence
of the officers of law would perhaps restrain their excesses, he did not
scruple to grant their request.

In Tournay the churches were despoiled of their ornaments within sight
of the garrison, who could not be induced to march against the
Iconoclasts. As the latter had been told that the gold and silver
vessels and other ornaments of the church were buried underground, they
turned up the whole floor, and exposed, among others, the body of the
Duke Adolph of Gueldres, who fell in battle at the head of the
rebellious burghers of Ghent, and had been buried herein Tournay. This
Adolph had waged war against his father, and had dragged the vanquished
old man some miles barefoot to prison--an indignity which Charles the
Bold afterwards retaliated on him. And now, again, after more than half
a century fate avenged a crime against nature by another against
religion; fanaticism was to desecrate that which was holy in order to
expose once more to execration the bones of a parricide. Other
Iconoclasts from Valenciennes united themselves with those of Tournay to
despoil all the cloisters of the surrounding district, during which a
valuable library, the accumulation of centuries, was destroyed by fire.
The evil soon penetrated into Brabant, also Malines, Herzogenbusch,
Breda, and Bergen-op-Zoom experienced the same fate. The provinces,
Namur and Luxemburg, with a part of Artois and of Hainault, had alone
the good fortune to escape the contagion of those outrages. In the
short period of four or five days four hundred cloisters were plundered
in Brabant and Flanders alone.

The northern Netherlands were soon seized with the same mania which had
raged so violently through the southern. The Dutch towns, Amsterdam,
Leyden, and Gravenhaag, had the alternative of either voluntarily
stripping their churches of their ornaments, or of seeing them violently
torn from there; the determination of their magistrates saved Delft,
Haarlem, Gouda, and Rotterdam from the devastation. The same acts of
violence were practised also in the islands of Zealand; the town of
Utrecht and many places in Overyssel and Groningen suffered the same
storms. Friesland was protected by the Count of Aremberg, and Gueldres
by the Count of Megen from a like fate. An exaggerated report of these
disturbances which came in from the provinces spread the alarm to
Brussels, where the regent had just made preparations for an
extraordinary session of the council of state. Swarms of Iconoclasts
already penetrated into Brabant; and the metropolis, where they were
certain of powerful support, was threatened by them with a renewal of
the same atrocities then under the very eyes of majesty. The regent, in
fear for her personal safety, which, even in the heart of the country,
surrounded by provincial governors and Knights of the Fleece, she
fancied insecure, was already meditating a flight to Mons, in Hainault,
which town the Duke of Arschot held for her as a place of refuge, that
she might not be driven to any undignified concession by falling into
the power of the Iconoclasts. In vain did the knights pledge life and
blood for her safety, and urgently beseech her not to expose them to
disgrace by so dishonorable a flight, as though they were wanting in
courage or zeal to protect their princess; to no purpose did the town of
Brussels itself supplicate her not to abandon them in this extremity,
and vainly did the council of state make the most impressive
representations that so pusillanimous a step would not fail to encourage
still more the insolence of the rebels; she remained immovable in this
desperate condition. As messenger after messenger arrived to warn her
that the Iconoclasts were advancing against the metropolis, she issued
orders to hold everything in readiness for her flight, which was to take
place quietly with the first approach of morning. At break of day the
aged Viglius presented himself before her, whom, with the view of
gratifying the nobles, she had been long accustomed to neglect. He
demanded to know the meaning of the preparations he observed, upon which
she at last confessed that she intended to make her escape, and assured
him that he would himself do well to secure his own safety by
accompanying her. "It is now two years," said the old man to her, "that
you might have anticipated these results. Because I have spoken more
freely than your courtiers you have closed your princely ear to me,
which has been open only to pernicious suggestions." The regent allowed
that she had been in fault, and had been blinded by an appearance of
probity; but that she was now driven by necessity. "Are you resolved,"
answered Viglius, "resolutely to insist upon obedience to the royal
commands?" "I am," answered the duchess. "Then have recourse to the
great secret of the art of government, to dissimulation, and pretend to
join the princes until, with their assistance, you have repelled this
storm. Show them a confidence which you are far from feeling in your
heart. Make them take an oath to you that they will make common cause
in resisting these disorders. Trust those as your friends who show
themselves willing to do it; but be careful to avoid frightening away
the others by contemptuous treatment." Viglius kept the regent engaged
in conversation until the princes arrived, who he was quite certain
would in nowise consent to her flight. When they appeared he quietly
withdrew in order to issue commands to the town council to close the
gates of the city and prohibit egress to every one connected with the
court. This last measure effected more than all the representations had
done. The regent, who saw herself a prisoner in her own capital, now
yielded to the persuasions of the nobles, who pledged themselves to
stand by her to the last drop of blood. She made Count Mansfeld
commandant of the town, who hastily increased the garrison and armed her
whole court.

The state council was now held, who finally came to a resolution that it
was expedient to yield to the emergency; to permit the preachings in
those places where they had already commenced; to make known the
abolition of the papal Inquisition; to declare the old edicts against
the heretics repealed, and before all things to grant the required
indemnity to the confederate nobles, without limitation or condition.
At the same time the Prince of Orange, Counts Egmont and Horn, with some
others, were appointed to confer on this head with the deputies of the
league. Solemnly and in the most unequivocal terms the members of the
league were declared free from all responsibility by reason of the
petition which had been presented, and all royal officers and
authorities were enjoined to act in conformity with this assurance,
and neither now nor for the future to inflict any injury upon any
of the confederates on account of the said petition. In return,
the confederates bound themselves to be true and loyal servants of
his majesty, to contribute to the utmost of their power to the
re-establishment of order and the punishment of the Iconiclasts,
to prevail on the people to lay down their arms, and to afford
active assistance to the king against internal and foreign enemies.
Securities, formally drawn up and subscribed by the plenipotentiaries
of both sides, were exchanged between them; the letter of indemnity, in
particular, was signed by the duchess with her own hand and attested by
her seal. It was only after a severe struggle, and with tears in her
eyes, that the regent, as she tremblingly confessed to the king, was at
last induced to consent to this painful step. She threw the whole blame
upon the nobles, who had kept her a prisoner in Brussels and compelled
her to it by force. Above all she complained bitterly of the Prince of
Orange.

This business accomplished, all the governors hastened to their
provinces; Egmont to Flanders, Orange to Antwerp. In the latter city
the Protestants had seized the despoiled and plundered churches, and,
as if by the rights of war, had taken possession of them. The prince
restored them to their lawful owners, gave orders for their repair, and
re-established in them the Roman Catholic form of worship. Three of the
Iconoclasts, who had been convicted, paid the penalty of their sacrilege
on the gallows; some of the rioters were banished, and many others
underwent punishment. Afterwards he assembled four deputies of each
dialect, or nations, as they were termed, and agreed with them that, as
the approaching winter made preaching in the open air impossible, three
places within the town should be granted then, where they might either
erect new churches, or convert private houses to that purpose. That
they should there perform their service every Sunday and holiday, and
always at the same hour, but on no other days. If, however, no holiday
happened in the week, Wednesday should be kept by them instead. No
religious party should maintain more than two clergymen, and these must
be native Netherlanders, or at least have received naturalization from
some considerable town of the provinces. All should take an oath to
submit in civil matters to the municipal authorities and the Prince of
Orange. They should be liable, like the other citizens, to all imposts.
No one should attend sermons armed; a sword, however, should be allowed
to each. No preacher should assail the ruling religion from the pulpit,
nor enter upon controverted points, beyond what the doctrine itself
rendered unavoidable, or what might refer to morals. No psalm should be
sung by them out of their appointed district. At the election of their
preachers, churchwardens, and deacons, as also at all their other
consistorial meetings, a person from the government should on each
occasion be present to report their proceedings to the prince and the
magistrate. As to all other points they should enjoy the same
protection as the ruling religion. This arrangement was to hold good
until the king, with consent of the states, should determine otherwise;
but then it should be free to every one to quit the country with his
family and his property. From Antwerp the prince hastened to Holland,
Zealand, and Utrecht, in order to make there similar arrangements for
the restoration of peace; Antwerp, however, was, during his absence,
entrusted to the superintendence of Count Howstraten, who was a mild
man, and although an adherent of the league, had never failed in loyalty
to the king. It is evident that in this agreement the prince had far
overstepped the powers entrusted to him, and though in the service of
the king had acted exactly like a sovereign lord. But he alleged in
excuse that it would be far easier to the magistrate to watch these
numerous and powerful sects if he himself interfered in their worship,
and if this took place under his eyes, than if he were to leave the
sectarians to themselves in the open air.

In Gueldres Count Megen showed more severity, and entirely suppressed
the Protestant sects and banished all their preachers. In Brussels the
regent availed herself of the advantage derived from her personal
presence to put a stop to the public preaching, even outside the town.
When, in reference to this, Count Nassau reminded her in the name of the
confederates of the compact which had been entered into, and demanded if
the town of Brussels had inferior rights to the other towns? she
answered, if there were public preachings in Brussels before the treaty,
it was not her work if they were now discontinued. At the same time,
however, she secretly gave the citizens to understand that the first who
should venture to attend a public sermon should certainly be hung. Thus
she kept the capital at least faithful to her.

It was more difficult to quiet Tournay, which office was committed to
Count Horn, in the place of Montigny, to whose government the town
properly belonged. Horn commanded the Protestants to vacate the
churches immediately, and to content themselves with a house of worship
outside the walls. To this their preachers objected that the churches
were erected for the use of the people, by which terms, they said, not
the heads but the majority were meant. If they were expelled from the
Roman Catholic churches it was at least fair that they should be
furnished with money for erecting churches of their own. To this the
magistrate replied even if the Catholic party was the weaker it was
indisputably the better. The erection of churches should not be
forbidden them; they could not, however, after the injury which the town
had already suffered from their brethren, the Iconoclasts, very well
expect that it should be further burdened by the erection of their
churches. After long quarrelling on both sides, the Protestants
contrived to retain possession of some churches, which, for greater
security, they occupied with guards. In Valenciennes, too, the
Protestants refused submission to the conditions which were offered to
them through Philip St. Aldegonde, Baron of Noircarmes, to whom, in the
absence of the Marquis of Bergen, the government of that place was
entrusted. A reformed preacher, La Grange, a Frenchman by birth, who by
his eloquence had gained a complete command over them, urged them to
insist on having churches of their own within the town, and to threaten
in case of refusal to deliver it up to the Huguenots. A sense of the
superior numbers of the Calvinists, and of their understanding with the
Huguenots, prevented the governor adopting forcible measures against
them.

Count Egmont, also to manifest his zeal for the king's service, did
violence to his natural kind-heartedness. Introducing a garrison into
the town of Ghent, he caused some of the most refractory rebels to be
put to death. The churches were reopened, the Roman Catholic worship
renewed, and all foreigners, without exception, ordered to quit the
province. To the Calvinists, but to them alone, a site was granted
outside the town for the erection of a church. In return they were
compelled to pledge themselves to the most rigid obedience to the
municipal authorities, and to active co-operation in the proceedings
against the Iconoclasts. He pursued similar measures through all
Flanders and Artois. One of his noblemen, John Cassembrot, Baron of
Beckerzeel, and a leaguer, pursuing the Iconoclasts at the head of some
horsemen of the league, surprised a band of them just as they were about
to break into a town of Hainault, near Grammont, in Flanders, and took
thirty of them prisoners, of whom twenty-two were hung upon the spot,
and the rest whipped out of the province.

Services of such importance one would have thought scarcely deserved to
be rewarded with the displeasure of the king; what Orange, Egmont, and
Horn performed on this occasion evinced at least as much zeal and had
as beneficial a result as anything that was accomplished by Noircarmes,
Megen, and Aremberg, to whom the king vouchsafed to show his gratitude
both by words and deeds. But their zeal, their services came too late.
They had spoken too loudly against his edicts, had been too vehement in
their opposition to his measures, had insulted him too grossly in the
person of his minister Granvella, to leave room for forgiveness. No
time, no repentance, no atonement, however great, could efface this one
offence from the memory of their sovereign.

Philip lay sick at Segovia when the news of the outbreak of the
Iconoclasts and the uncatholic agreement entered into with the Reformers
reached him. At the same time the regent renewed her urgent entreaty
for his personal visit, of which also all the letters treated, which the
President Viglius exchanged with his friend Hopper. Many also of the
Belgian nobles addressed special letters to the king, as, for instance,
Egmont, Mansfeld, Megen, Aremberg, Noircarmes, and Barlaimont, in which
they reported the state of their provinces, and at once explained and
justified the arrangements they had made with the disaffected. Just at
this period a letter arrived from the German Emperor, in which he
recommended Philip to act with clemency towards his Belgian subjects,
and offered his mediation in the matter. He had also written direct to
the regent herself in Brussels, and added letters to the several leaders
of the nobility, which, however, were never delivered. Having conquered
the first anger which this hateful occurrence had excited, the king
referred the whole matter to his council.

The party of Granvella, which had the preponderance in the council, was
diligent in tracing a close connection between the behavior of the
Flemish nobles and the excesses of the church desecrators, which showed
itself in similarity of the demands of both parties, and especially the
time which the latter chose for their outbreak. In the same month,
they observed, in which the nobles had sent in their three articles of
pacification, the Iconoclasts had commenced their work; on the evening
of the very day that Orange quitted Antwerp the churches too were
plundered. During the whole tumult not a finger was lifted to take up
arms; all the expedients employed were invariably such as turned to the
advantage of the sects, while, on the contrary, all others were
neglected which tended to the maintenance of the pure faith. Many of
the Iconoclasts, it was further said, had confessed that all that they
had done was with the knowledge and consent of the princes; though
surely nothing was more natural, than for such worthless wretches to
seek to screen with great names a crime which they had undertaken solely
on their own account. A writing also was produced in which the high
nobility were made to promise their services to the "Gueux," to procure
the assembly of the states general, the genuineness of which, however,
the former strenuously denied. Four different seditious parties were,
they said, to be noticed in the Netherlands, which were all more or
less connected with one another, and all worked towards a common end.
One of these was those bands of reprobates who desecrated the churches;
a second consisted of the various sects who had hired the former to
perform their infamous acts; the "Gueux," who had raised themselves to
be the defenders of the sects were the third; and the leading nobles who
were inclined to the "Gueux" by feudal connections, relationship, and
friendship, composed the fourth. All, consequently, were alike fatally
infected, and all equally guilty. The government had not merely to
guard against a few isolated members; it had to contend with the whole
body. Since, then, it was ascertained that the people were the seduced
party, and the encouragement to rebellion came from higher quarters, it
would be wise and expedient to alter the plan hitherto adopted, which
now appeared defective in several respects. Inasmuch as all classes had
been oppressed without distinction, and as much of severity shown to the
lower orders as of contempt to the nobles, both had been compelled to
lend support to one another; a party had been given to the latter and
leaders to the former. Unequal treatment seemed an infallible expedient
to separate them; the mob, always timid and indolent when not goaded by
the extremity of distress, would very soon desert its adored protectors
and quickly learn to see in their fate well-merited retribution if only
it was not driven to share it with them. It was therefore proposed to
the king to treat the great multitude for the future with more leniency,
and to direct all measures of severity against the leaders of the
faction. In order, however, to avoid the appearance of a disgraceful
concession, it was considered advisable to accept the mediation of the
Emperor, and to impute to it alone and not to the justice of their
demands, that the king out of pure generosity had granted to his Belgian
subjects as much as they asked.

The question of the king's personal visit to the provinces was now again
mooted, and all the difficulties which had formerly been raised on this
head appeared to vanish before the present emergency. "Now," said
Tyssenacque and Hopper, "the juncture has really arrived at which the
king, according to his own declaration formerly made to Count Egmont,
will be ready to risk a thousand lives. To restore quiet to Ghent
Charles V. had undertaken a troublesome and dangerous journey through an
enemy's country. This was done for the sake of a single town; and now
the peace, perhaps even the possession, of all the United Provinces was
at stake." This was the opinion of the majority; and the journey of the
king was looked upon as a matter from which he could not possibly any
longer escape.

The question now was, whether he should enter upon it with a numerous
body of attendants or with few; and here the Prince of Eboli and Count
Figueroa were at issue with the Duke of Alva, as their private interests
clashed. If the king journeyed at the head of an army the presence of
the Duke of Alva would be indispensable, who, on the other hand, if
matters were peaceably adjusted, would be less required, and must make
room for his rivals. "An army," said Figueroa, who spoke first, "would
alarm the princes through whose territories it must march, and perhaps
even be opposed by them; it would, moreover, unnecessarily burden the
provinces for whose tranquillization it was intended, and add a new
grievance to the many which had already driven the people to such
lengths. It would press indiscriminately upon all of the king's
subjects, whereas a court of justice, peaceably administering its
office, would observe a marked distinction between the innocent and
the guilty. The unwonted violence of the former course would tempt the
leaders of the faction to take a more alarming view of their behavior,
in which wantonness and levity had the chief share, and consequently
induce them to proceed with deliberation and union; the thought of
having forced the king to such lengths would plunge them into despair,
in which they would be ready to undertake anything. If the king placed
himself in arms against the rebels he would forfeit the most important
advantage which he possessed over them, namely, his authority as
sovereign of the country, which would prove the more powerful in
proportion as he showed his reliance upon that alone. He would place
himself thereby, as it were, on a level with the rebels, who on their
side would not be at a loss to raise an army, as the universal hatred of
the Spanish forces would operate in their favor with the nation. By
this procedure the king would exchange the certain advantage which his
position as sovereign of the country conferred upon him for the
uncertain result of military operations, which, result as they might,
would of necessity destroy a portion of his own subjects. The rumor of
his hostile approach would outrun him time enough to allow all who were
conscious of a bad cause to place themselves in a posture of defence,
and to combine and render availing both their foreign and domestic
resources. Here again the general alarm would do them important
service; the uncertainty who would be the first object of this warlike
approach would drive even the less guilty to the general mass of the
rebels, and force those to become enemies to the king who otherwise
would never have been so. If, however, he was coming among them without
such a formidable accompaniment; if his appearance was less that of a
sanguinary judge than of an angry parent, the courage of all good men
would rise, and the bad would perish in their own security. They would
persuade themselves what had happened was unimportant; that it did not
appear to the king of sufficient moment to call for strong measures.
They wished if they could to avoid the chance of ruining, by acts of
open violence, a cause which might perhaps yet be saved; consequently,
by this quiet, peaceable method everything would be gained which by the
other would be irretrievably lost; the loyal subject would in no degree
be involved in the same punishment with the culpable rebel; on the
latter alone would the whole weight of the royal indignation descend.
Lastly, the enormous expenses would be avoided which the transport of a
Spanish army to those distant regions would occasion.

"But," began the Duke of Alva, "ought the injury of some few citizens to
be considered when danger impends over the whole? Because a few of the
loyally-disposed may suffer wrong are the rebels therefore not to be
chastised? The offence has been universal, why then should not the
punishment be the same? What the rebels have incurred by their actions
the rest have incurred equally by their supineness. Whose fault is it
but theirs that the former have so far succeeded? Why did they not
promptly oppose their first attempts? It is said that circumstances
were not so desperate as to justify this violent remedy; but who will
insure us that they will not be so by the time the king arrives,
especially when, according to every fresh despatch of the regent, all is
hastening with rapid strides to a-ruinous consummation? Is it a hazard
we ought to run to leave the king to discover on his entrance into the
provinces the necessity of his having brought with him a military force?
It is a fact only too well-established that the rebels have secured
foreign succors, which stand ready at their command on the first signal;
will it then be time to think of preparing for war when the enemy pass
the frontiers? Is it a wise risk to rely for aid upon the nearest
Belgian troops when their loyalty is so little to be depended upon? And
is not the regent perpetually reverting in her despatches to the fact
that nothing but the want of a suitable military force has hitherto
hindered her from enforcing the edicts, and stopping the progress of the
rebels? A well-disciplined and formidable army alone will disappoint
all their hopes of maintaining themselves in opposition to their lawful
sovereign, and nothing but the certain prospect of destruction will make
them lower their demands. Besides, without an adequate force, the king
cannot venture his person in hostile countries; he cannot enter into any
treaties with his rebellious subjects which would not be derogatory to
his honor."

The authority of the speaker gave preponderance to his arguments, and
the next question was, when the king should commence his journey and
what road he should take. As the voyage by sea was on every account
extremely hazardous, he had no other alternative but either to proceed
thither through the passes near Trent across. Germany, or to penetrate
from Savoy over the Apennine Alps. The first route would expose him to
the danger of the attack of the German Protestants, who were not likely
to view with indifference the objects of his journey, and a passage over
the Apennines was at this late season of the year not to be attempted.
Moreover, it would be necessary to send for the requisite galleys from
Italy, and repair them, which would take several months. Finally, as
the assembly of the Cortes of Castile, from which he could not well be
absent, was already appointed for December, the journey could not be
undertaken before the spring. Meanwhile the regent pressed for explicit
instructions how she was to extricate herself from her present
embarrassment, without compromising the royal dignity too far; and it
was necessary to do something in the interval till the king could
undertake to appease the troubles by his personal presence. Two
separate letters were therefore despatched to the duchess; one public,
which she could lay before the states and the council chambers, and one
private, which was intended for herself alone. In the first, the king
announced to her his restoration to health, and the fortunate birth of
the Infanta Clara Isabella Eugenia, afterwards wife of the Archduke
Albert of Austria and Princess of the Netherlands. He declared to her
his present firm intention to visit the Netherlands in person, for which
he was already making the necessary preparations. The assembling of the
states he refused, as he had previously done. No mention was made in
this letter of the agreement which she had entered into with the
Protestants and with the league, because he did not deem it advisable at
present absolutely to reject it, and he was still less disposed to
acknowledge its validity. On the other hand, he ordered her to
reinforce the army, to draw together new regiments from Germany, and to
meet the refractory with force. For the rest, he concluded, he relied
upon the loyalty of the leading nobility, among whom he knew many who
were sincere in their attachment both to their religion and their king.
In the secret letter she was again enjoined to do all in her power to
prevent the assembling of the states; but if the general voice should
become irresistible, and she was compelled to yield, she was at least to
manage so cautiously that the royal dignity should not suffer, and no
one learn the king's consent to their assembly.

While these consultations were held in Spain the Protestants in the
Netherlands made the most extensive use of the privileges which had been
compulsorily granted to them. The erection of churches wherever it was
permitted was completed with incredible rapidity; young and old, gentle
and simple, assisted in carrying stones; women sacrificed even their
ornaments in order to accelerate the work. The two religious parties
established in several towns consistories, and a church council of their
own, the first move of the kind being made in Antwerp, and placed their
form of worship on a well-regulated footing. It was also proposed to
raise a common fund by subscription to meet any sudden emergency of the
Protestant church in general. In Antwerp a memorial was presented by
the Calvinists of that town to the Count of Hogstraten, in which they
offered to pay three millions of dollars to secure the free exercise of
their religion. Many copies of this writing were circulated in the
Netherlands; and in order to stimulate others, many had ostentatiously
subscribed their names to large sums. Various interpretations of this
extravagant offer were made by the enemies of the Reformers, and all had
some appearance of reason. For instance, it was urged that under the
pretext of collecting the requisite sum for fulfilling this engagement
they hoped, without suspicion, to raise funds for military purposes; for
whether they should be called upon to contribute for or against they
would, it was thought, be more ready to burden themselves with a view of
preserving peace than for an oppressive and devasting war. Others saw
in this offer nothing more than a temporary stratagem of the Protestants
by which they hoped to bind the court and keep it irresolute until they
should have gained sufficient strength to confront it. Others again
declared it to be a downright bravado in order to alarm the regent, and
to raise the courage of their own party by the display of such rich
resources. But whatever was the true motive of this proposition, its
originators gained little by it; the contributions flowed in scantily
and slowly, and the court answered the proposal with silent contempt.
The excesses, too, of the Iconoclasts, far from promoting the cause of
the league and advancing the Protestants interests, had done irreparable
injury to both. The sight of their ruined churches, which, in the
language of Viglius, resembled stables more than houses of God, enraged
the Roman Catholics, and above all the clergy. All of that religion,
who had hitherto been members of the league, now forsook it, alleging
that even if it had not intentionally excited and encouraged the
excesses of the Iconoclasts it had beyond question remotely led to them.
The intolerance of the Calvinists who, wherever they were the ruling
party, cruelly oppressed the Roman Catholics, completely expelled the
delusion in which the latter had long indulged, and they withdrew their
support from a party from which, if they obtained the upper hand, their
own religion had so much cause to fear. Thus the league lost many of
its best members; the friends and patrons, too, which it had hitherto
found amongst the well-disposed citizens now deserted it, and its
character began perceptibly to decline. The severity with which some of
its members had acted against the Iconoclasts in order to prove their
good disposition towards the regent, and to remove the suspicion of any
connection with the malcontents, had also injured them with the people
who favored the latter, and thus the league was in danger of ruining
itself with both parties at the same time. The regent had no sooner
became acquainted with this change in the public mind than she devised a
plan by which she hoped gradually to dissolve the whole league, or at
least to enfeeble it through internal dissensions. For this end she
availed herself of the private letters which the king had addressed to
some of the nobles, and enclosed to her with full liberty to use them at
her discretion. These letters, which overflowed with kind expressions
were presented to those for whom they were intended, with an attempt at
secrecy, which designedly miscarried, so that on each occasion some one
or other of those who had received nothing of the sort got a hint of
them. In order to spread suspicion the more widely numerous copies of
the letters were circulated. This artifice attained its object. Many
members of the league began to doubt the honesty of those to whom such
brilliant promises were made; through fear of being deserted by their
principal members and supporters, they eagerly accepted the conditions
which were offered them by the regent, and evinced great anxiety for a
speedy reconciliation with the court. The general rumor of the
impending visit of the king, which the regent took care to have widely
circulated, was also of great service to her in this matter; many who
could not augur much good to themselves from the royal presence did not
hesitate to accept a pardon, which, perhaps, for what they could tell,
was offered them for the last time. Among those who thus received
private letters were Egmont and Prince of Orange. Both had complained
to the king of the evil reports with which designing persons in Spain
had labored to brand their names, and to throw suspicion on their
motives and intentions; Egmont, in particular, with the honest
simplicity which was peculiar to his character, had asked the monarch
only to point out to him what he most desired, to determine the
particular action by which his favor could be best obtained and zeal in
his service evinced, and it should, he assured him, be done. The king
in reply caused the president, Von Tyssenacque, to tell him that he
could do nothing better to refute his traducers than to show perfect
submission to the royal orders, which were so clearly and precisely
drawn up, that no further exposition of them was required, nor any
particular instruction. It was the sovereign's part to deliberate, to
examine, and to decide; unconditionally to obey was the duty of the
subject; the honor of the latter consisted in his obedence. It did not
become a member to hold itself wiser than the head. He was assuredly to
be blamed for not having done his utmost to curb the unruliness of his
sectarians; but it was even yet in his power to make up for past
negligence by at least maintaining peace and order until the actual
arrival of the king. In thus punishing Count Egmont with reproofs like
a disobedient child, the king treated him in accordance with what he
knew of his character; with his friend he found it necessary to call in
the aid of artifice and deceit. Orange, too, in his letter, had alluded
to the suspicions which the king entertained of his loyalty and
attachment, but not, like Egmont, in the vain hope of removing them; for
this, he had long given up; but in order to pass from these complaints
to a request for permission to resign his offices. He had already
frequently made this request to the regent, but had always received from
her a refusal, accompanied with the strongest assurance of her regard.
The king also, to whom he now at last addressed a direct application,
returned him the same answer, graced with similar strong assurances of
his satisfaction and gratitude. In particular he expressed the high
satisfaction he entertained of his services, which he had lately
rendered the crown in Antwerp, and lamented deeply that the private
affairs of the prince (which the latter had made his chief plea for
demanding his dismissal) should have fallen into such disorder; but
ended with the declaration that it was impossible for him to dispense
with his valuable services at a crisis which demanded the increase,
rather than diminution, of his good and honest servants. He had
thought, he added, that the prince entertained a better opinion of him
than to suppose him capable of giving credit to the idle talk of certain
persons, who were friends neither to the prince nor to himself. But, at
the same time, to give him a proof of his sincerity, he complained to
him in confidence of his brother, the Count of Nassau, pretended to ask
his advice in the matter, and finally expressed a wish to have the count
removed for a period from the Netherlands.

But Philip had here to do with a head which in cunning was superior to
his own. The Prince of Orange had for a long time held watch over him
and his privy council in Madrid and Segovia, through a host of spies,
who reported to him everything of importance that was transacted there.
The court of this most secret of all despots had become accessible to
his intriguing spirit and his money; in this manner he had gained
possession of several autograph letters of the regent, which she had
secretly written to Madrid, and had caused copies to be circulated in
triumph in Brussels, and in a measure under her own eyes, insomuch that
she saw with astonishment in everybody's hands what she thought was
preserved with so much care, and entreated the king for the future to
destroy her despatches immediately they were read. William's vigilance
did not confine itself simply to the court of Spain; he had spies in
France, and even at more distant courts. He is also charged with not
being over scrupulous as to the means by which he acquired his
intelligence. But the most important disclosure was made by an
intercepted letter of the Spanish ambassador in France, Francis Von
Alava, to the duchess, in which the former descanted on the fair
opportunity which was now afforded to the king, through the guilt of
the Netherlandish people, of establishing an arbitrary power in that
country. He therefore advised her to deceive the nobles by the very
arts which they had hitherto employed against herself, and to secure
them through smooth words and an obliging behavior. The king, he
concluded, who knew the nobles to be the hidden springs of all the
previous troubles, would take good care to lay hands upon them at the
first favorable opportunity, as well as the two whom he had already in
Spain; and did not mean to let them go again, having sworn to make an
example in them which should horrify the whole of Christendom, even if
it should cost him his hereditary dominions. This piece of evil news
was strongly corroborated by the letters which Bergen and Montigny wrote
from Spain, and in which they bitterly complained of the contemptuous
behavior of the grandees and the altered deportment of the monarch
towards them; and the Prince of Orange was now fully sensible what he
had to expect from the fair promises of the king.

The letter of the minister, Alava, together with some others from Spain,
which gave a circumstantial account of the approaching warlike visit of
the king, and of his evil intentions against the nobles, was laid by the
prince before his brother, Count Louis of Nassau, Counts Egmont, Horn,
and Hogstraten, at a meeting at Dendermonde in Flanders, whither these
five knights had repaired to confer on the measures necessary for their
security. Count Louis, who listened only to his feelings of
indignation, foolhardily maintained that they ought, without loss of
time, to take up arms and seize some strongholds. That they ought at
all risks to prevent the king's armed entrance into the provinces. That
they should endeavor to prevail on the Swiss, the Protestant princes of
Germany, and the Huguenots to arm and obstruct his passage through their
territories; and if, notwithstanding, he should force his way through
these impediments, that the Flemings should meet him with an army on the
frontiers. He would take upon himself to negotiate a defensive alliance
in France, in Switzerland, and in Germany, and to raise in the latter
empire four thousand horse, together with a proportionate body of
infantry. Pretexts would not be wanting for collecting the requisite
supplies of money, and the merchants of the reformed sect would, he felt
assured, not fail them. But William, more cautious and more wise,
declared himself against this proposal, which, in the execution, would
be exposed to numberless difficulties, and had as yet nothing to justify
it. The Inquisition, he represented, was in fact abolished, the edicts
were nearly sunk into oblivion, and a fair degree of religious liberty
accorded. Hitherto, therefore, there existed no valid or adequate
excuse for adopting this hostile method; he did not doubt, however,
that one would be presented to them before long, and in good time for
preparation. His own opinion consequently was that they should await
this opportunity with patience, and in the meanwhile still keep a
watchful eye upon everything, and contrive to give the people a hint of
the threatened danger, that they might be ready to act if circumstances
should call for their co-operation. If all present had assented to the
opinion of the Prince of Orange, there is no doubt but so powerful a
league, formidable both by the influence and the high character of its
members, would have opposed obstacles to the designs of the king which
would have compelled him to abandon them entirely. But the
determination of the assembled knights was much shaken by the
declaration with which Count Egmont surprised them. "Rather," said he,
"may all that is evil befall me than that I should tempt fortune so
rashly. The idle talk of the Spaniard, Alava, does not move me; how
should such a person be able to read the mind of a sovereign so reserved
as Philip, and to decipher his secrets? The intelligence which Montigny
gives us goes to prove nothing more than that the king has a very
doubtful opinion of our zeal for his service, and believes he has cause
to distrust our loyalty; and for this I for my part must confess that
we have given him only too much cause. And it is my serious purpose,
by redoubling my zeal, to regain his good opinion, and by my future
behavior to remove, if possible, the distrust which my actions have
hitherto excited. How could I tear myself from the arms of my numerous
and dependent family to wander as an exile at foreign courts, a burden
to every one who received me, the slave of every one who condescended to
assist me, a servant of foreigners, in order to escape a slight degree
of constraint at home? Never can the monarch act unkindly towards a
servant who was once beloved and dear to him, and who has established a
well-grounded claim to his gratitude. Never shall I be persuaded that
he who has expressed such favorable, such gracious sentiments towards
his Belgian subjects, and with his own mouth gave me such emphatic,
such solemn assurances, can be now devising, as it is pretended, such
tyrannical schemes against them. If we do but restore to the country
its former repose, chastise the rebels, and re-establish the Roman
Catholic form of worship wherever it has been violently suppressed,
then, believe me, we shall hear no more of Spanish troops. This is the
course to which I now invite you all by my counsel and my example, and
to which also most of our brethren already incline. I, for my part,
fear nothing from the anger of the king. My conscience acquits me.
I trust my fate and fortunes to his justice and clemency." In vain did
Nassau, Horn, and Orange labor to shake his resolution, and to open his
eyes to the near and inevitable danger. Egmont was really attached to
the king; the royal favors, and the condescension with which they were
conferred, were still fresh in his remembrance. The attentions with
which the monarch had distinguished him above all his friends had not
failed of their effect. It was more from false shame than from party
spirit that he had defended the cause of his countrymen against him;
more from temperament and natural kindness of heart than from tried
principles that he had opposed the severe measures of the government.
The love of the nation, which worshipped him as its idol, carried him
away. Too vain to renounce a title which sounded so agreeable, he had
been compelled to do something to deserve it; but a single look at his
family, a harsher designation applied to his conduct, a dangerous
inference drawn from it, the mere sound of crime, terrified him from his
self-delusion, and scared him back in haste and alarm to his duty.

Orange's whole plan was frustrated by Egmont's withdrawal. The latter
possessed the hearts of the people and the confidence of the army,
without which it was utterly impossible to undertake anything effective.
The rest had reckoned with so much certainty upon him that his
unexpected defection rendered the whole meeting nugatory. They
therefore separated without coming to a determination. All who had met
in Dendermonde were expected in the council of state in Brussels; but
Egmont alone repaired thither. The regent wished to sift him on the
subject of this conference, but she could extract nothing further from
him than the production of the letter of Alava, of which he had
purposely taken a copy, and which, with the bitterest reproofs, he laid
before her. At first she changed color at sight of it, but quickly
recovering herself, she boldly declared that it was a forgery. "How can
this letter," she said, "really come from Alava, when I miss none? And
would he who pretends to have intercepted it have spared the other
letters? Nay, how can it be true, when not a single packet has
miscarried, nor a single despatch failed to come to hand? How, too,
can it be thought likely that the king would have made Alava master
of a secret which he has not communicated even to me?"



                CIVIL WAR

1566. Meanwhile the regent hastened to take advantage of the schism
amongst the nobles to complete the ruin of the league, which was already
tottering under the weight of internal dissensions. Without loss of
time she drew from Germany the troops which Duke Eric of Brunswick was
holding in readiness, augmented the cavalry, and raised five regiments
of Walloons, the command of which she gave to Counts Mansfeld, Megen,
Aremberg, and others. To the prince, likewise, she felt it necessary to
confide troops, both because she did not wish, by withholding them
pointedly, to insult him, and also because the provinces of which he was
governor were in urgent need of them; but she took the precaution of
joining with him a Colonel Waldenfinger, who should watch all his steps
and thwart his measures if they appeared dangerous. To Count Egmont the
clergy in Flanders paid a contribution of forty thousand gold florins
for the maintenance of fifteen hundred men, whom he distributed among
the places where danger was most apprehended. Every governor was
ordered to increase his military force, and to provide himself with
ammunition. These energetic preparations, which were making in all
places, left no doubt as to the measures which the regent would adopt in
future. Conscious of her superior force, and certain of this important
support, she now ventured to change her tone, and to employ quite
another language with the rebels. She began to put the most arbitrary
interpretation on the concessions which, through fear and necessity, she
had made to the Protestants, and to restrict all the liberties which she
had tacitly granted them to the mere permission of their preaching. All
other religious exercises and rites, which yet appeared to be involved
in the former privilege, were by new edicts expressly forbidden, and all
offenders in such matters were to be proceeded against as traitors. The
Protestants were permitted to think differently from the ruling church
upon the sacrament, but to receive it differently was a crime; baptism,
marriage, burial, after their fashion, were probibited under pain of
death. It was a cruel mockery to allow them their religion, and forbid
the exercise of it; but this mean artifice of the regent to escape from
the obligation of her pledged word was worthy of the pusillanimity with
which she had submitted to its being extorted from her. She took
advantage of the most trifling innovations and the smallest excesses to
interrupt the preachings; and some of the preachers, under the charge of
having performed their office in places not appointed to them, were
brought to trial, condemned, and executed. On more than one occasion
the regent publicly declared that the confederates had taken unfair
advantage of her fears, and that she did not feel herself bound by an
engagement which had been extorted from her by threats.

Of all the Belgian towns which had participated in the insurrection of
the Iconoclasts none had caused the regent so much alarm as the town of
Valenciennes, in Hainault. In no other was the party of the Calvinists
so powerful, and the spirit of rebellion for which the province of
Hainault had always made itself conspicuous, seemed to dwell here as in
its native place. The propinquity of France, to which, as well by
language as by manners, this town appeared to belong, rather than to the
Netherlands, had from the first led to its being governed with great
mildness and forbearance, which, however, only taught it to feel its own
importance. At the last outbreak of the church-desecrators it had been
on the point of surrendering to the Huguenots, with whom it maintained
the closest understanding. The slightest excitement night renew this
danger. On this account Valenciennes was the first town to which the
regent proposed, as soon as should be in her power, to send a strong
garrison. Philip of Noircarmes, Baron of St. Aldegonde, Governor of
Hainault in the place of the absent Marquis of Bergen, had received this
charge, and now appeared at the head of an army before its walls.
Deputies came to meet him on the part of the magistrate from the town,
to petition against the garrison, because the Protestant citizens, who
were the superior number, had declared against it. Noircarnes
acquainted them with the will of the regent, and gave them the choice
between the garrison or a siege. He assured them that not more than
four squadrons of horse and six companies of foot should be imposed upon
the town; and for this he would give them his son as a hostage. These
terms were laid before the magistrate, who, for his part, was much
inclined to accept them. But Peregrine Le Grange, the preacher, and the
idol of the populace, to whom it was of vital importance to prevent a
submission of which he would inevitably become the victim, appeared at
the head of his followers, and by his powerful eloquence excited the
people to reject the conditions. When their answer was brought to
Noircarmes, contrary to all law of nations, he caused the messengers to
be placed in irons, and carried them away with him as prisoners; he was,
however, by express command of the regent, compelled to set them free
again. The regent, instructed by secret orders from Madrid to exercise
as much forbearance as possible, caused the town to be repeatedly
summoned to receive the garrison; when, however, it obstinately
persisted in its refusal, it was declared by public edict to be in
rebellion, and Noircarmes was authorized to commence the siege in form.
The other provinces were forbidden to assist this rebellious town with
advice, money, or arms. All the property contained in it was
confiscated. In order to let it see the war before it began in earnest,
and to give it time for rational reflection, Noircarmes drew together
troops from all Hainault and Cambray (1566), took possession of St.
Amant, and placed garrisons in all adjacent places.

The line of conduct adopted towards Valenciennes allowed the other towns
which were similarly situated to infer the fate which was intended for
them also, and at once put the whole league in motion. An army of the
Gueux, between three thousand and four thousand strong, which was
hastily collected from the rabble of fugitives, and the remaining bands
of the Iconoclasts, appeared in the territories of Tournay and Lille, in
order to secure these two towns, and to annoy the enemy at Valenciennes.
The commandant of Lille was fortunate enough to maintain that place by
routing a detachment of this army, which, in concert with the Protestant
inhabitants, had made an attempt to get possession of it. At the same
time the army of the Gueux, which was uselessly wasting its time at
Lannoy, was surprised by Noircarmes and almost entirely annihilated.
The few who with desperate courage forced their way through the enemy,
threw themselves into the town of Tournay, which was immediately
summoned by the victor to open its gates and admit a garrison. Its
prompt obedience obtained for it a milder fate. Noircarmes contented
himself with abolishing the Protestant consistory, banishing the
preachers, punishing the leaders of the rebels, and again
re-establishing the Roman Catholic worship, which he found almost
entirely suppressed. After giving it a steadfast Roman Catholic as
governor, and leaving in it a sufficient garrison, he again returned
with his victorious army to Valenciennes to press the siege.

This town, confident in its strength, actively prepared for defence,
firmly resolved to allow things to come to extremes before it
surrendered. The inhabitants had not neglected to furnish themselves
with ammunition and provisions for a long siege; all who could carry
arms (the very artisans not excepted), became soldiers; the houses
before the town, and especially the cloisters, were pulled down, that
the besiegers might not avail themselves of them to cover their attack.
The few adherents of the crown, awed by the multitude, were silent; no
Roman Catholic ventured to stir himself. Anarchy and rebellion had
taken the place of good order, and the fanaticism of a foolhardy priest
gave laws instead of the legal dispensers of justice. The male
population was numerous, their courage confirmed by despair, their
confidence unbounded that the siege would be raised, while their hatred
against the Roman Catholic religion was excited to the highest pitch.
Many had no mercy to expect; all abhorred the general thraldom of an
imperious garrison. Noircarmes, whose army had become formidable
through the reinforcements which streamed to it from all quarters, and
was abundantly furnished with all the requisites for a long blockade,
once more attempted to prevail on the town by gentle means, but in vain.
At last he caused the trenches to be opened and prepared to invest the
place.

In the meanwhile the position of the Protestants had grown as much worse
as that of the regent had improved. The league of the nobles had
gradually melted away to a third of its original number. Some of its
most important defenders, Count Egmont, for instance, had gone over to
the king; the pecuniary contributions which had been so confidently
reckoned upon came in but slowly and scantily; the zeal of the party
began perceptibly to cool, and the close of the fine season made it
necessary to discontinue the public preachings, which, up to this time,
had been continued. These and other reasons combined induced the
declining party to moderate its demands, and to try every legal
expedient before it proceeded to extremities. In a general synod of the
Protestants, which was held for this object in Antwerp, and which was
also attended by some of the confederates, it was resolved to send
deputies to the regent to remonstrate with her upon this breach of
faith, and to remind her of her compact. Brederode undertook this
office, but was obliged to submit to a harsh and disgraceful rebuff, and
was shut out of Brussels. He had now recourse to a written memorial, in
which,--in the name of the whole league, he complained that the duchess
had, by violating her word, falsified in sight of all the Protestants
the security given by the league, in reliance on which all of them had
laid down their arms; that by her insincerity she had undone all the
good which the confederates had labored to effect; that she had sought
to degrade the league in the eyes of the people, had excited discord
among its members, and had even caused many of them to be persecuted as
criminals. He called upon her to recall her late ordinances, which
deprived the Protestants of the free exercise of their religion, but
above all to raise the siege of Valenciennes, to disband the troops
newly enlisted, and ended by assuring her that on these conditions and
these alone the league would be responsible for the general
tranquillity.

To this the regent replied in a tone very different from her previous
moderation. "Who these confederates are who address me in this memorial
is, indeed, a mystery to me. The confederates with whom I had formerly
to do, for ought I know to the contrary, have dispersed. All at least
cannot participate in this statement of grievances, for I myself know of
many, who, satisfied in all their demands, have returned to their duty.
But still, whoever he may be, who without authority and right, and
without name addresses me, he has at least given a very false
interpretation to my word if he asserts that I guaranteed to the
Protestants complete religious liberty. No one can be ignorant how
reluctantly I was induced to permit the preachings in the places where
they had sprung up unauthorized, and this surely cannot be counted for a
concession of freedom in religion. Is it likely that I should have
entertained the idea of protecting these illegal consistories, of
tolerating this state within a state? Could I forget myself so far as
to grant the sanction of law to an objectionable sect; to overturn all
order in the church and in the state, and abominably to blaspheme my
holy religion? Look to him who has given you such permission, but you
must not argue with me. You accuse me of having violated the agreement
which gave you impunity and security. The past I am willing to look
over, but not what may be done in future. No advantage was to be taken
of you on account of the petition of last April, and to the best of my
knowledge nothing of the kind has as yet been done; but whoever again
offends in the same way against the majesty of the king must be ready to
bear the consequences of his crime. In fine, how can you presume to
remind me of an agreement which you have been the first to break? At
whose instigation were the churches plundered, the images of the saints
thrown down, and the towns hurried into rebellion? Who formed alliances
with foreign powers, set on foot illegal enlistments, and collected
unlawful taxes from the subjects of the king? These are the reasons
which have impelled me to draw together my troops, and to increase the
severity of the edicts. Whoever now asks me to lay down my arms cannot
mean well to his country or his king, and if ye value your own lives,
look to it that your own actions acquit you, instead of judging mine."

All the hopes which the confederates might have entertained of an
amicable adjustment sank with this high-toned declaration. Without
being confident of possessing powerful support, the regent would not,
they argued, employ such language. An army was in the field, the enemy
was before Valenciennes, the members who were the heart of the league
had abandoned it, and the regent required unconditional submission.
Their cause was now so bad that open resistance could not make it worse.
If they gave themselves up defenceless into the hands of their
exasperated sovereign their fate was certain; an appeal to arms could at
least make it a matter of doubt; they, therefore, chose the latter, and
began seriously to take steps for their defence. In order to insure the
assistance of the German Protestants, Louis of Nassau attempted to
persuade the towns of Amsterdam, Antwerp, Tournay, and Valenciennes to
adopt the confession of Augsburg, and in this manner to seal their
alliance with a religious union. But the proposition was not
successful, because the hatred of the Calvinists to the Lutherans
exceeded, if possible, that which they bore to popery. Nassau also
began in earnest to negotiate for supplies from France, the Palatinate,
and Saxony. The Count of Bergen fortified his castles; Brederode threw
himself with a small force into his strong town of Vianne on the Leek,
over which he claimed the rights of sovereignty, and which he hastily
placed in a state of defense, and there awaited a reinforcement from the
league, and the issue of Nassua's negotiations. The flag of war was now
unfurled, everywhere the drum was heard to beat; in all parts troops
were seen on the march, contributions collected, and soldiers enlisted.
The agents of each party often met in the same place, and hardly had the
collectors and recruiting officers of the regent quitted a town when it
had to endure a similar visit from the agents of the league.

From Valenciennes the regent directed her attention to Herzogenbusch,
where the Iconoclasts had lately committed fresh excesses, and the party
of the Protestants had gained a great accession of strength. In order
to prevail on the citizens peaceably to receive a garrison, she sent
thither, as ambassador, the Chancellor Scheiff, from Brabant, with
counsellor Merode of Petersheim, whom she appointed governor of the
town; they were instructed to secure the place by judicious means, and
to exact from the citizens a new oath of allegiance. At the same time
the Count of Megen, who was in the neighborhood with a body of troops,
was ordered to support the two envoys in effecting their commission,
and to afford the means of throwing in a garrison immediately. But
Brederode, who obtained information of these movements in Viane, had
already sent thither one of his creatures, a certain Anton von Bomber,--
a hot Calvinist, but also a brave soldier, in order to raise the courage
of his party, and to frustrate the designs of the regent. This Bomberg
succeeded in getting possession of the letters which the chancellor
brought with him from the duchess, and contrived to substitute in their
place counterfeit ones, which, by their harsh and imperious language,
were calculated to exasperate the minds of the citizens. At the same
time he attempted to throw suspicion on both the ambassadors of the
duchess as having evil designs upon the town. In this he succeeded so
well with the mob that in their mad fury they even laid hands on the
ambassadors and placed them in confinement. He himself, at the head of
eight thousand men, who had adopted him as their leader, advanced
against the Count of Megen, who was moving in order of battle, and gave
him so warm a reception, with some heavy artillery, that he was
compelled to retire without accomplishing his object. The regent now
sent an officer of justice to demand the release of her ambassadors, and
in case of refusal to threaten the place with siege; but Bomberg with
his party surrounded the town hall and forced the magistrate to deliver
to him the key of the town. The messenger of the regent was ridiculed
and dismissed, and an answer sent through him that the treatment of the
prisoners would depend upon Brederode's orders. The herald, who was
remaining outside before the town, now appeared to declare war against
her, which, however, the chancellor prevented.

After his futile attempt on Herzogenhusch the Count of Megen threw
himself into Utrecht in order to prevent the execution of a design which
Count Brederode had formed against that town. As it had suffered much
from the army of the confederates, which was encamped in its immediate
neighborhood, near Viane, it received Megen with open arms as its
protector, and conformed to all the alterations which he made in the
religious worship. Upon this he immediately caused a redoubt to be
thrown up on the bank of the Leek, which would command Viane.
Brederode, not disposed to await his attack, quitted that rendezvous
with the best part of his army and hastened to Amsterdam.

However unprofitably the Prince of Orange appeared to be losing his
time in Antwerp during these operations he was, nevertheless, busily
employed. At his instigation the league had commenced recruiting, and
Brederode had fortified his castles, for which purpose he himself
presented him with three cannons which he had had cast at Utrecht.
His eye watched all the movements of the court, and he kept the league
warned of the towns which were next menaced with attack. But his chief
object appeared to be to get possession of the principal places in the
districts under his own government, to which end he with all his power
secretly assisted Brederode's plans against Utrecht and Amsterdam. The
most important place was the Island of Walcheren, where the king was
expected to land; and he now planned a scheme for the surprise of this
place, the conduct of which was entrusted to one of the confederate
nobles, an intimate friend of the Prince of Orange, John of Marnix,
Baron of Thoulouse, and brother of Philip of Aldegonde.


1567. Thoulouse maintained a secret understanding with the late mayor
of Middleburg, Peter Haak, by which he expected to gain an opportunity
of throwing a garrison into Middleburg and Flushing. The recruiting,
however, for this undertaking, which was set on foot in Antwerp, could
not be carried on so quietly as not to attract the notice of the
magistrate. In order, therefore, to lull the suspicions of the latter,
and at the same time to promote the success of the scheme, the prince
caused the herald by public proclamation to order all foreign soldiers
and strangers who were in the service of the state, or employed in other
business, forthwith to quit the town. He might, say his adversaries, by
closing the gates have easily made himself master of all these suspected
recruits; but be expelled them from the town in order to drive them the
more quickly to the place of their destination. They immediately
embarked on the Scheldt, and sailed down to Rammekens; as, however, a
market-vessel of Antwerp, which ran into Flushing a little before them
had given warning of their design they were forbidden to enter the port.
They found the same difficulty at Arnemuiden, near Middleburg, although
the Protestants in that place exerted themselves to raise an
insurrection in their favor. Thoulouse, therefore, without having
accomplished anything, put about his ships and sailed back down the
Scheldt as far as Osterweel, a quarter of a mile from Antwerp, where he
disembarked his people and encamped on the shore, with the hope of
getting men from Antwerp, and also in order to revive by his presence
the courage of his party, which had been cast down by the proceedings of
the magistrate. By the aid of the Calvinistic clergy, who recruited for
him, his little army increased daily, so that at last he began to be
formidable to the Antwerpians, whose whole territory he laid waste. The
magistrate was for attacking him here with the militia, which, however,
the Prince of Orange successfully opposed by the pretext that it would
not be prudent to strip the town of soldiers.

Meanwhile the regent had hastily brought together a small army under the
command of Philip of Launoy, which moved from Brussels to Antwerp by
forced marches. At the same time Count Megen managed to keep the army
of the Gueux shut up and employed at Viane, so that it could neither
hear of these movements nor hasten to the assistance of its
confederates. Launoy, on his arrival attacked by surprise the dispersed
crowds, who, little expecting an enemy, had gone out to plunder, and
destroyed them in one terrible carnage. Thoulouse threw himself with
the small remnant of his troops into a country house, which had served
him as his headquarters, and for a long time defended himself with the
courage of despair, until Launoy, finding it impossible to dislodge him,
set fire to the house. The few who escaped the flames fell on the
swords of the enemy or were drowned in the Scheldt. Thoulouse himself
preferred to perish in the flames rather than to fall into the hands of
the enemy. This victory, which swept off more than a thousand of the
enemy, was purchased by the conqueror cheaply enough, for he did not
lose more than two men. Three hundred of the leaguers who surrendered
were cut down without mercy on the spot, as a sally from Antwerp was
momentarily dreaded.

Before the battle actually commenced no anticipation of such an event
had been entertained at Antwerp. The Prince of Orange, who had got
early information of it, had taken the precaution the day before of
causing the bridge which unites the town with Osterweel to be destroyed,
in order, as he gave out, to prevent the Calvinists within the town
going out to join the army of Thoulouse. A more probable motive seems
to have been a fear lest the Catholics should attack the army of the
Gueux general in the rear, or lest Launoy should prove victorious, and
try to force his way into the town. On the same pretext the gates of
the city were also shut by his orders, arnd the inhabitants, who did not
comprehend the meaning of all these movements, fluctuated between
curiosity and alarm, until the sound of artillery from Osterweel
announced to them what there was going on. In clamorous crowds they all
ran to the walls and ramparts, from which, as the wind drove the smoke
from the contending armies, they commanded a full view of the whole
battle. Both armies were so near to the town that they could discern
their banners, and clearly distinguish the voices of the victors and the
vanquished. More terrible even than the battle itself was the spectacle
which this town now presented. Each of the conflicting armies had its
friends and its enemies on the wall. All that went on in the plain
roused on the ramparts exultation or dismay; on the issue of the
conflict the fate of each spectator seemed to depend. Every movement on
the field could be read in the faces of the townsmen; defeat and
triumph, the terror of the conquered, and the fury of the conqueror.
Here a painful but idle wish to support those who are giving way, to
rally those who fly; there an equally futile desire to overtake them,
to slay them, to extirpate them. Now the Gueux fly, and ten thousand
men rejoice; Thoulouse's last place and refuge is in flames, and the
hopes of twenty thousand citizens are consumed with him.

But the first bewilderment of alarm soon gave place to a frantic desire
of revenge. Shrieking aloud, wringing her hands and with dishevelled
hair, the widow of the slain general rushed amidst the crowds to implore
their pity and help. Excited by their favorite preacher, Hermann, the
Calvinists fly to arms, determined to avenge their brethren, or to
perish with them; without reflection, without plan or leader, guided by
nothing but their anguish, their delirium, they rush to the Red Gate of
the city which leads to the field of battle; but there is no egress, the
gate is shut and the foremost of the crowd recoil on those that follow.
Thousands and thousands collect together, a dreadful rush is made to the
Meer Bridge. We are betrayed! we are prisoners! is the general cry.
Destruction to the papists, death to him who has betrayed us!--a sullen
murmur, portentous of a revolt, runs through the multitude. They begin
to suspect that all that has taken place has been set on foot by the
Roman Catholics to destroy the Calvinists. They had slain their
defenders, and they would now fall upon the defenceless. With fatal
speed this suspicion spreads through the whole of Antwerp. Now they
can, they think, understand the past, and they fear something still
worse in the background; a frightful distrust gains possession of every
mind. Each party dreads the other; every one sees an enemy in his
neighbor; the mystery deepens the alarm and horror; a fearful condition
for a populous town, in which every accidental concourse instantly
becomes tumult, every rumor started amongst them becomes a fact, every
small spark a blazing flame, and by the force of numbers and collision
all passions are furiously inflamed. All who bore the name of
Calvinists were roused by this report. Fifteen thousand of them take
possession of the Meer Bridge, and plant heavy artillery upon it, which
they had taken by force from the arsenal; the same thing also happens at
another bridge; their number makes them formidable, the town is in their
hands; to escape an imaginary danger they bring all Antwerp to the brink
of ruin.

Immediately on the commencement of the tumult the Prince of Orange
hastened to the Meer Bridge, where, boldly forcing his way through the
raging crowd, he commanded peace and entreated to be heard. At the
other bridge Count Hogstraten, accompanied by the Burgomaster Strahlen,
made the same attempt; but not possessing a sufficient share either of
eloquence or of popularity to command attention, he referred the
tumultuous crowd to the prince, around whom all Antwerp now furiously
thronged. The gate, he endeavored to explain to them, was shut simply
to keep off the victor, whoever he might be, from the city, which would
otherwise become the prey of an infuriated soldiery. In vain! the
frantic people would not listen, and one more daring than the rest
presented his musket at him, calling him a traitor. With tumultuous
shouts they demanded the key of the Red Gate, which he was ultimately
forced to deliver into the hands of the preacher Hermann. But, he added
with happy presence of mind, they must take heed what they were doing;
in the suburbs six hundred of the enemy's horse were waiting to receive
them. This invention, suggested by the emergency, was not so far
removed from the truth as its author perhaps imagined; for no sooner had
the victorious general perceived the commotion in Antwerp than he caused
his whole cavalry to mount in the hope of being able, under favor of the
disturbance, to break into the town. I, at least, continued the Prince
of Orange, shall secure my own safety in time, and he who follows my
example will save himself much future regret. These words opportunely
spoken and immediately acted upon had their effect. Those who stood
nearest followed him, and were again followed by the next, so that at
last the few who had already hastened out of the city when they saw no
one coming after them lost the desire of coping alone with the six
hundred horse. All accordingly returned to the Meer Bridge, where they
posted watches and videttes, and the night was passed tumultuously under
arms.

The town of Antwerp was now threatened with fearful bloodshed and
pillage. In this pressing emergency Orange assembled an extraordinary
senate, to which were summoned all the best-disposed citizens of the
four nations. If they wished, said he, to repress the violence of the
Calvinists they must oppose them with an army strong enough and prepared
to meet them. It was therefore resolved to arm with speed the Roman
Catholic inhabitants of the town, whether natives, Italians, or
Spaniards, and, if possible, to induce the Lutherans also to join them.
The haughtiness of the Calvinists, who, proud of their wealth and
confident in their numbers, treated every other religious party with
contempt, had long made the Lutherans their enemies, and the mutual
exasperation of these two Protestant churches was even more implacable
than their common hatred of the dominant church. This jealousy the
magistrate had turned to advantage, by making use of one party to curb
the other, and had thus contrived to keep the Calvinists in check, who,
from their numbers and insolence, were most to be feared. With this
view, he had tacitly taken into his protection the Lutherans, as the
weaker and more peaceable party, having moreover invited for them, from
Germany, spiritual teachers, who, by controversial sermons, might keep
up the mutual hatred of the two bodies. He encouraged the Lutherans in
the vain idea that the king thought more favorably of their religious
creed than that of the Calvinists, and exhorted them to be careful how
they damaged their good cause by any understanding with the latter. It
was not, therefore, difficult to bring about, for the moment, a union
with the Roman Catholics and the Lutherans, as its object was to keep
down their detested rivals. At dawn of day an army was opposed to the
Calvinists which was far superior in force to their own. At the head of
this army, the eloquence of Orange had far greater effect, and found far
more attention than on the preceding evening, unbacked by such strong
persuasion. The Calvinists, though in possession of arms and artillery,
yet, alarmed at the superior numbers arrayed against them, were the
first to send envoys, and to treat for an amicable adjustment of
differences, which by the tact and good temper of the Prince of Orange,
he concluded to the satisfaction of all parties. On the proclamation of
this treaty the Spaniards and Italians immediately laid down their arms.
They were followed by the Calvinists, and these again by the Roman
Catholics; last of all the Lutherans disarmed.

Two days and two nights Antwerp had continued in this alarming state.
During the tumult the Roman Catholics had succeeded in placing barrels
of gunpowder under the Meer Bridge, and threatened to blow into the air
the whole army of the Calvinists, who had done the same in other places
to destroy their adversaries. The destruction of the town hung on the
issue of a moment, and nothing but the prince's presence of mind saved
it.

Noircarmes, with his army of Walloons, still lay before Valenciennes,
which, in firm reliance on being relieved by the Gueux, obstinately
refused to listen to all the representations of the regent, and rejected
every idea of surrender. An order of the court had expressly forbidden
the royalist general to press the siege until he should receive
reinforcements from Germany. Whether from forbearance or fear, the king
regarded with abhorrence the violent measure of storming the place, as
necessarily involving the innocent in the fate of the guilty, and
exposing the loyal subject to the same ill-treatment as the rebel. As,
however, the confidence of the besieged augmented daily, and emboldened
by the inactivity of the besiegers, they annoyed him by frequent
sallies, and after burning the cloisters before the town, retired with
the plunder--as the time uselessly lost before this town was put to good
use by the rebels and their allies, Noircarmes besought the duchess to
obtain immediate permission from the king to take it by storm. The
answer arrived more quickly than Philip was ever before wont to reply.
As yet they must be content, simply to make the necessary preparations,
and then to wait awhile to allow terror to have its effect; but if upon
this they did not appear ready to capitulate, the storming might take
place, but, at the same time, with the greatest possible regard for the
lives of the inhabitants. Before the regent allowed Noircarmes to
proceed to this extremity she empowered Count Egmont, with the Duke
Arschot, to treat once more with the rebels amicably. Both conferred
with the deputies of the town, and omitted no argument calculated to
dispel their delusion. They acquainted them with the defeat of
Thoulouse, their sole support, and with the fact that the Count of Megen
had cut off the army of the Gueux from the town, and assured them that
if they had held out so long they owed it entirely to the king's
forbearance. They offered them full pardon for the past; every one was
to be free to prove his innocence before whatever tribunal he should
chose; such as did not wish to avail themselves of this privilege were
to be allowed fourteen days to quit the town with all their effects.
Nothing was required of the townspeople but the admission of the
garrison. To give time to deliberate on these terms an armistice of
three days was granted. When the deputies returned they found their
fellow-citizens less disposed than ever to an accommodation, reports of
new levies by the Gueux having, in the meantime, gained currency.
Thoulouse, it was pretended, had conquered, and was advancing with a
powerful army to relieve the place. Their confidence went so far that
they even ventured to break the armistice, and to fire upon the
besiegers. At last the burgomaster, with difficulty, succeeded in
bringing matters so far towards a peaceful settlement that twelve of the
town counsellors were sent into the camp with the following conditions:
The edict by which Valenciennes had been charged with treason and
declared an enemy to the country was required to be recalled, the
confiscation of their goods revoked, and the prisoners on both sides
restored to liberty; the garrison was not to enter the town before every
one who thought good to do so had placed himself and his property in
security; and a pledge to be given that the inhabitants should not be
molested in any manner, and that their expenses should be paid by the
king.

Noircarmes was so indignant with these conditions that he was almost on
the point of ill-treating the deputies. If they had not come, he told
them, to give up the place, they might return forthwith, lest he should
send them home with their hands tied behind their backs. Upon this the
deputies threw the blame on the obstinacy of the Calvinists, and
entreated him, with tears in their eyes, to keep them in the camp, as
they did not, they said, wish to have anything more to do with their
rebellious townsmen, or to be joined in their fate. They even knelt to
beseech the intercession of Egmont, but Noircarmes remained deaf to all
their entreaties, and the sight of the chains which he ordered to be
brought out drove them reluctantly enough back to Valenciennes.
Necessity, not severity, imposed this harsh procedure upon the general.
The detention of ambassadors had on a former occasion drawn upon him the
reprimand of the duchess; the people in the town would not have failed
to have ascribed the non-appearance of their present deputies to the
same cause as in the former case had detained them. Besides, he was
loath to deprive the town of any out of the small residue of
well-disposed citizens, or to leave it a prey to a blind, foolhardy mob.
Egmont was so mortified at the bad report of his embassy that he the
night following rode round to reconnoitre its fortifications, and
returned well satisfied to have convinced himself that it was no longer
tenable.

Valenciennes stretches down a gentle acclivity into the level plain,
being built on a site as strong as it is delightful. On one side
enclosed by the Scheldt and another smaller river, and on the other
protected by deep ditches, thick walls, and towers, it appears capable
of defying every attack. But Noircarmes had discovered a few points
where neglect had allowed the fosse to be filled almost up to the level
of the natural surface, and of these he determined to avail himself in
storming. He drew together all the scattered corps by which he had
invested the town, and during a tempestuous night carried the suburb of
Berg without the loss of a single man. He then assigned separate points
of attack to the Count of Bossu, the young Charles of Mansfeld, and the
younger Barlaimont, and under a terrible fire, which drove the enemy
from his walls, his troops were moved up with all possible speed. Close
before the town, and opposite the gate under the eyes of the besiegers,
and with very little loss, a battery was thrown up to an equal height
with the fortifications. From this point the town was bombarded with an
unceasing fire for four hours. The Nicolaus tower, on which the
besieged had planted some artillery, was among the first that fell, and
many perished under its ruins. The guns were directed against all the
most conspicuous buildings, and a terrible slaughter was made amongst
the inhabitants. In a few hours their principal works were destroyed,
and in the gate itself so extensive a breach was made that the besieged,
despairing of any longer defending themselves, sent in haste two
trumpeters to entreat a parley. This was granted, but the storm was
continued without intermission. The ambassador entreated Noircarmes to
grant them the same terms which only two days before they had rejected.
But circumstances had now changed, and the victor would hear no more of
conditions. The unceasing fire left the inhabitants no time to repair
the ramparts, which filled the fosse with their debris, and opened many
a breach for the enemy to enter by. Certain of utter destruction, they
surrendered next morning at discretion after a bombardment of
six-and-thirty hours without intermission, and three thousand bombs had
been thrown into the city. Noircarmes marched into the town with his
victorious army under the strictest discipline, and was received by a
crowd of women and children, who went to meet him, carrying green boughs,
and beseeching his pity. All the citizens were immediately disarmed, the
commandant and his son beheaded; thirty-six of the most guilty of the
rebels, among whom were La Grange and another Calvinistic preacher, Guido
de Bresse, atoned for their obstinacy at the gallows; all the municipal
functionaries were deprived of their offices, and the town of all its
privileges. The Roman Catholic worship was immediately restored in full
dignity, and the Protestant abolished. The Bishop of Arras was obliged to
quit his residence in the town, and a strong garrison placed in it to
insure its future obedience.

The fate of Valenciennes, towards which all eyes had been turned, was a
warning to the other towns which had similarly offended. Noircarmes
followed up his victory, and marched immediately against Maestricht,
which surrendered without a blow, and received a garrison. From thence
he marched to Tornhut to awe by his presence the people of Herzogenbusch
and Antwerp. The Gueux in this place, who under the command of Bomberg
had carried all things before them, were now so terrified at his
approach that they quitted the town in haste. Noircarmes was received
without opposition. The ambassadors of the duchess were immediately set
at liberty. A strong garrison was thrown into Tornhut. Cambray also
opened its gates, and joyfully recalled its archbishop, whom the
Calvinists had driven from his see, and who deserved this triumph as
he did not stain his entrance with blood. Ghent, Ypres, and Oudenarde
submitted and received garrisons. Gueldres was now almost entirely
cleared of the rebels and reduced to obedience by the Count of Megen.
In Friesland and Groningen the Count of Aremberg had eventually the same
success; but it was not obtained here so rapidly or so easily, since the
count wanted consistency and firmness, and these warlike republicans
maintained more pertinaciously their privileges, and were greatly
supported by the strength of their position. With the exception of
Holland all the provinces had yielded before the victorious arms of the
duchess. The courage of the disaffected sunk entirely, and nothing was
left to them but flight or submission.



          RESIGNATION OF WILLIAM OF ORANGE.

Ever since the establishment of the Guesen league, but more perceptibly
since the outbreak of the Iconoclasts, the spirit of rebellion and
disaffection had spread so rapidly among all classes, parties had become
so blended and confused, that the regent had difficulty in
distinguishing her own adherents, and at last hardly knew on whom to
rely. The lines of demarcation between the loyal and the disaffected
had grown gradually fainter, until at last they almost entirely
vanished. The frequent alterations, too, which she had been obliged to
make in the laws, and which were at most the expedients and suggestions
of the moment, had taken from them their precision and binding force,
and had given full scope to the arbitrary will of every individual whose
office it was to interpret them. And at last, amidst the number and
variety of the interpretations, the spirit was lost and the intention of
the lawgiver baffled. The close connection which in many cases
subsisted between Protestants and Roman Catholics, between Gueux and
Royalists, and which not unfrequently gave them a common interest, led
the latter to avail themselves of the loophole which the vagueness of
the laws left open, and in favor of their Protestant friends and
associates evaded by subtle distinctions all severity in the discharge
of their duties. In their minds it was enough not to be a declared
rebel, not one of the Gueux, or at least not a heretic, to be authorized
to mould their duties to their inclinations, and to set the most
arbitrary limits to their obedience to the king. Feeling themselves
irresponsible, the governors of the provinces, the civil functionaries,
both high and low, the municipal officers, and the military commanders
had all become extremely remiss in their duty, and presuming upon this
impunity showed a pernicious indulgence to the rebels and their
adherents which rendered abortive all the regent's measures of coercion.
This general indifference and corruption of so many servants of the
state had further this injurious result, that it led the turbulent to
reckon on far stronger support than in reality they had cause for, and
to count on their own side all who were but lukewarm adherents of the
court. This way of thinking, erroneous as it was, gave them greater
courage and confidence; it had the same effect as if it had been well
founded; and the uncertain vassals of the king became in consequence
almost as injurious to him as his declared enemies, without at the same
time being liable to the same measures of severity. This was especially
the case with the Prince of Orange, Counts Egmont, Bergen, Hogstraten,
Horn, and several others of the higher nobility. The regent felt the
necessity of bringing these doubtful subjects to an explanation, in
order either to deprive the rebels of a fancied support or to unmask the
enemies of the king. And the latter reason was of the more urgent
moment when being obliged to send an army into the field it was of the
utmost importance to entrust the command of the troops to none but those
of whose fidelity she was fully assured. She caused, therefore, an oath
to be drawn up which bound all who took it to advance the Roman Catholic
faith, to pursue and punish the Iconoclasts, and to help by every means
in their power in extirpating all kinds of heresy. It also pledged them
to treat the king's enemies as their own, and to serve without
distinction against all whom the regent in the king's name should point
out. By this oath she did not hope so much to test their sincerity, and
still less to secure them, as rather to gain a pretext for removing the
suspected parties if they declined to take it, and for wresting from
their hands a power which they abused, or a legitimate ground for
punishing them if they took it and broke it. This oath was exacted from
all Knights of the Fleece, all civil functionaries and magistrates, all
officers of the army--from every one in short who held any appointment
in the state. Count Mansfeld was the first who publicly took it in the
council of state at Brussels; his example was followed by the Duke of
Arschot, Counts Egmont, Megen, and Barlaimont. Hogstraten and Horn
endeavored to evade the necessity. The former was offended at a proof
of distrust which shortly before the regent had given him. Under the
pretext that Malines could not safely be left any longer without its
governor, but that the presence of the count was no less necessary in
Antwerp, she had taken from him that province and given it to another
whose fidelity she could better reckon upon. Hostraten expressed his
thanks that she had been pleased to release him from one of his burdens,
adding that she would complete the obligation if she would relieve him
from the other also. True to his determination Count Horn was living
on one of his estates in the strong town of Weerdt, having retired
altogether from public affairs. Having quitted the service of the
state, he owed, he thought, nothing more either to the republic or to
the king, and declined the oath, which in his case appears at last to
have been waived.

The Count of Brederode was left the choice of either taking the
prescribed oath or resigning the command of his squadron of cavalry.
After many fruitless attempts to evade the alternative, on the plea that
he did not hold office in the state, he at last resolved upon the latter
course, and thereby escaped all risk of perjuring himself.

Vain were all the attempts to prevail on the Prince of Orange to take
the oath, who, from the suspicion which had long attached to him,
required more than any other this purification; and from whom the great
power which it had been necessary to place in his hands fully justified
the regent in exacting it. It was not, however, advisable to proceed
against him with the laconic brevity adopted towards Brederode and the
like; on the other hand, the voluntary resignation of all his offices,
which he tendered, did not meet the object of the regent, who foresaw
clearly enough how really dangerous he would become, as soon as he
should feel himself independent, and be no longer checked by any
external considerations of character or duty in the prosecution of his
secret designs. But ever since the consultation in Dendermonde the
Prince of Orange had made up his mind to quit the service of the King of
Spain on the first favorable opportunity, and till better days to leave
the country itself. A very disheartening experience had taught him how
uncertain are hopes built on the multitude, and how quickly their zeal
is cooled by the necessity of fulfilling its lofty promises. An army
was already in the field, and a far stronger one was, he knew, on its
road, under the command of the Duke of Alva. The time for remonstrances
was past; it was only at the head of an army that an advantageous treaty
could now be concluded with the regent, and by preventing the entrance
of the Spanish general. But now where was he to raise this army, in
want as he was of money, the sinews of warfare, since the Protestants
had retracted their boastful promises and deserted him in this pressing
emergency?

   [How valiant the wish, and how sorry the deed was, is proved by the
   following instance amongst others. Some friends of the national
   liberty, Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, had solemnly
   engaged in Amsterdam to subscribe to a common fund the hundredth
   penny of their estates, until a sum of eleven thousand florins
   should be collected, which was to be devoted to the common cause
   and interests. An alms-box, protected by three locks, was prepared
   for the reception of these contributions. After the expiration of
   the prescribed period it was opened, and a sum was found amounting
   to seven hundred florins, which was given to the hostess of the
   Count of Brederode, in part payment of his unliquidated score.
   Univ. Hist. of the N., vol. 3.]

Religious jealousy and hatred, moreover, separated the two Protestant
churches, and stood in the way of every salutary combination against
the common enemy of their faith. The rejection of the Confession of
Augsburg by the Calvinists had exasperated all the Protestant princes of
Germany, so that no support was to be looked for from the empire. With
Count Egmont the excellent army of Walloons was also lost to the cause,
for they followed with blind devotion the fortunes of their general, who
had taught them at St. Quentin and Gravelines to be invincible. And
again, the outrages which the Iconoclasts had perpetrated on the
churches and convents had estranged from the league the numerous,
wealthy, and powerful class of the established clergy, who, before this
unlucky episode, were already more than half gained over to it; while,
by her intrigues, the regent daily contrived to deprive the league
itself of some one or other of its most influential members.

All these considerations combined induced the prince to postpone to
a more favorable season a project for which the present juncture was
little suited, and to leave a country where his longer stay could not
effect any advantage for it, but must bring certain destruction on
himself. After intelligence gleaned from so many quarters, after so
many proofs of distrust, so many warnings from Madrid, he could be no
longer doubtful of the sentiments of Philip towards him. If even he
had any doubt, his uncertainty would soon have been dispelled by the
formidable armament which was preparing in Spain, and which was to have
for its leader, not the king, as was falsely given out, but, as he was
better informed, the Duke of Alva, his personal enemy, and the very man
he had most cause to fear. The prince had seen too deeply into Philip's
heart to believe in the sincerity of his reconciliation after having
once awakened his fears. He judged his own conduct too justly to
reckon, like his friend Egmont, on reaping a gratitude from the king to
which he had not sown. He could therefore expect nothing but hostility
from him, and prudence counselled him to screen himself by a timely
flight from its actual outbreak. He had hitherto obstinately refused
to take the new oath, and all the written exhortations of the regent
had been fruitless. At last she sent to him at Antwerp her private
secretary, Berti, who was to put the matter emphatically to his
conscience, and forcibly remind him of all the evil consequences which
so sudden a retirement from the royal service would draw upon the
country, as well as the irreparable injury it would do to his own fair
fame. Already, she informed him by her ambassador, his declining the
required oath had cast a shade upon his honor, and imparted to the
general voice, which accused him of an understanding with the rebels, an
appearance of truth which this unconditional resignation would convert
to absolute certainty. It was for the sovereign to discharge his
servants, but it did not become the servant to abandon his sovereign.
The envoy of the regent found the prince in his palace at Antwerp,
already, as it appeared, withdrawn from the public service, and entirely
devoted to his private concerns. The prince told him, in the presence
of Hogstraten, that he had refused to take the required oath because he
could not find that such a proposition had ever before been made to a
governor of a province; because he had already bound himself, once for
all, to the king, and therefore, by taking this new oath, he would
tacitly acknowledge that he had broken the first. He had also refused
because the old oath enjoined him to protect the rights and privileges
of the country, but he could not tell whether this new one might not
impose upon him duties which would contravene the first; because, too,
the clause which bound him to serve, if required, against all without
distinction, did not except even the emperor, his feudal lord, against
whom, however, he, as his vassal, could not conscientiously make war.
He had refused to take this oath because it might impose upon him the
necessity of surrendering his friends and relations, his children, nay,
even his wife, who was a Lutheran, to butchery. According to it,
moreover, he must lend himself to every thing which it should occur to
the king's fancy or passion to demand. But the king might thus exact
from him things which he shuddered even to think of, and even the
severities which were now, and had been all along, exercised upon the
Protestants, were the most revolting to his heart. This oath, in short,
was repugnant to his feelings as a man, and he could not take it. In
conclusion, the name of the Duke of Alva dropped from his lips in a tone
of bitterness, and he became immediately silent.

All these objections were answered, point by point, by Berti. Certainly
such an oath had never been required from a governor before him, because
the provinces had never been similarly circumstanced. It was not
exacted because the governors had broken the first, but in order to
remind them vividly of their former vows, and to freshen their activity
in the present emergency. This oath would not impose upon him anything
which offended against the rights and privileges of the country, for the
king had sworn to observe these as well as the Prince of Orange. The
oath did not, it was true, contain any reference to a war with the
emperor, or any other sovereign to whom the prince might be related; and
if he really had scruples on this point, a distinct clause could easily
be inserted, expressly providing against such a contingency. Care would
be taken to spare him any duties which were repugnant to his feelings as
a man, and no power on earth would compel him to act against his wife or
against his children. Berti was then passing to the last point, which
related to the Duke of Alva, but the prince, who did not wish to have
this part of his discourse canvassed, interrupted him. "The king was
coming to the Netherlands," he said, "and he knew the king. The king
would not endure that one of his servants should have wedded a Lutheran,
and he had therefore resolved to go with his whole family into voluntary
banishment before he was obliged to submit to the same by compulsion.
But," he concluded, "wherever he might be, he would always conduct
himself as a subject of the king." Thus far-fetched were the motives
which the prince adduced to avoid touching upon the single one which
really decided him.

Berti had still a hope of obtaining, through Egmont's eloquence, what by
his own he despaired of effecting. He therefore proposed a meeting with
the latter (1567), which the prince assented to the more willingly as he
himself felt a desire to embrace his friend once more before his
departure, and if possible to snatch the deluded man from certain
destruction. This remarkable meeting, at which the private secretary,
Berti, and the young Count Mansfeld, were also present, was the last
that the two friends ever held, and took place in Villebroeck, a village
on the Rupel, between Brussels and Antwerp. The Calvinists, whose last
hope rested on the issue of this conference, found means to acquaint
themselves of its import by a spy, who concealed himself in the chimney
of the apartment where it was held. All three attempted to shake the
determination of the prince, but their united eloquence was unable to
move him from his purpose. "It will cost you your estates, Orange, if
you persist in this intention," said the Prince of Gaure, as he took him
aside to a window. "And you your life, Egmont, if you change not
yours," replied the former. "To me it will at least be a consolation in
my misfortunes that I desired, in deed as well as in word, to help my
country and my friends in the hour of need; but you, my friend, you are
dragging friends and country with you to destruction." And saying these
words, he once again exhorted him, still more urgently than ever, to
return to the cause of his country, which his arm alone was yet able to
preserve; if not, at least for his own sake to avoid the tempest which
was gathering against him from Spain.

But all the arguments, however lucid, with which a far-discerning
prudence supplied him, and however urgently enforced, with all the ardor
and animation which the tender anxiety of friendship could alone
inspire, did not avail to destroy the fatal confidence which still
fettered Egmont's better reason. The warning of Orange seemed to come
from a sad and dispirited heart; but for Egmont the world still smiled.
To abandon the pomp and affluence in which he had grown up to youth and
manhood; to part with all the thousand conveniences of life which alone
made it valuable to him, and all this to escape an evil which his
buoyant spirit regarded as remote, if not imaginary; no, that was not a
sacrifice which could be asked from Egmont. But had he even been less
given to indulgence than he was, with what heart could he have consigned
a princess, accustomed by uninterrupted prosperity to ease and comfort,
a wife who loved him as dearly as she was beloved, the children on whom
his soul hung in hope and fondness, to privations at the prospect of
which his own courage sank, and which a sublime philosophy alone can
enable sensuality to undergo. "You will never persuade me, Orange,"
said Egmont, "to see things in the gloomy light in which they appear to
thy mournful prudence. When I have succeeded in abolishing the public
preachings, and chastising the Iconoclasts, in crushing the rebels, and
restoring peace and order in the provinces, what can the king lay to my
charge? The king is good and just; I have claims upon his gratitude,
and I must not forget what I owe to myself." "Well, then," cried
Orange, indignantly and with bitter anguish, "trust, if you will, to
this royal gratitude; but a mournful presentiment tells me--and may
Heaven grant that I am deceived!--that you, Egmont, will be the bridge
by which the Spaniards will pass into our country to destroy it." After
these words, he drew him to his bosom, ardently clasping him in his
arms. Long, as though the sight was to serve for the remainder of his
life, did he keep his eyes fixed upon him; the tears fell; they saw each
other no more.

The very next day the Prince of Orange wrote his letter of resignation
to the regent, in which he assured her of his perpetual esteem, and once
again entreated her to put the best interpretation on his present step.
He then set off with his three brothers and his whole family for his own
town of Breda, where he remained only as long as was requisite to
arrange some private affairs. His eldest son, Prince Philip William,
was left behind at the University of Louvain, where he thought him
sufficiently secure under the protection of the privileges of Brabant
and the immunities of the academy; an imprudence which, if it was really
not designed, can hardly be reconciled with the just estimate which, in
so many other cases, he had taken of the character of his adversary. In
Breda the heads of the Calvinists once more consulted him whether there
was still hope for them, or whether all was irretrievably lost. "He had
before advised them," replied the prince, "and must now do so again, to
accede to the Confession of Augsburg; then they might rely upon aid from
Germany. If they would still not consent to this, they must raise six
hundred thousand florins, or more, if they could." "The first," they
answered, "was at variance with their conviction and their conscience;
but means might perhaps be found to raise the money if he would only let
them know for what purpose he would use it." "No!" cried he, with the
utmost displeasure, "if I must tell you that, it is all over with the
use of it." With these words he immediately broke off the conference
and dismissed the deputies.

The Prince of Orange was reproached with having squandered his fortune,
and with favoring the innovations on account of his debts; but he
asserted that he still enjoyed sixty thousand florins yearly rental.
Before his departure he borrowed twenty thousand florins from the states
of Holland on the mortgage of some manors. Men could hardly persuade
themselves that he would have succumbed to necessity so entirely, and
without an effort at resistance given up all his hopes and schemes. But
what he secretly meditated no one knew, no one had read in his heart.
Being asked how he intended to conduct himself towards the King of
Spain, "Quietly," was his answer, "unless he touches my honor or my
estates." He left the Netherlands soon afterwards, and betook himself
in retirement to the town of Dillenburg, in Nassau, at which place he
was born. He was accompanied to Germany by many hundreds, either as his
servants or as volunteers, and was soon followed by Counts Hogstraten,
Kuilemberg, and Bergen, who preferred to share a voluntary exile with
him rather than recklessly involve themselves in an uncertain destiny.
In his departure the nation saw the flight of its guardian angel; many
had adored, all had honored him. With him the last stay of the
Protestants gave way; they, however, had greater hopes from this man
in exile than from all the others together who remained behind. Even
the Roman Catholics could not witness his departure without regret.
Them also had he shielded from tyranny; he had not unfrequently
protected them against the oppression of their own church, and he had
rescued many of them from the sanguinary jealousy of their religious
opponents. A few fanatics among the Calvinists, who were offended with
his proposal of an alliance with their brethren, who avowed the
Confession of Augsburg, solemnized with secret thanksgivings the day on
which the enemy left them. (1567).



        DECAY AND DISPERSION OF THE GEUSEN LEAGUE.

Immediately after taking leave of his friend, the Prince of Gaure
hastened back to Brussels, to receive from the regent the reward of his
firmness, and there, in the excitement of the court and in the sunshine
of his good fortune, to dispel the light cloud which the earnest
warnings of the Prince of Orange had cast over his natural gayety.
The flight of the latter now left him in possession of the stage.
He had now no longer any rival in the republic to dim his glory. With
redoubled zeal he wooed the transient favor of the court, above which he
ought to have felt himself far exalted. All Brussels must participate
in his joy. He gave splendid banquets and public entertainments, at
which, the better to eradicate all suspicion from his mind, the regent
herself frequently attended. Not content with having taken the required
oath, he outstripped the most devout in devotion; outran the most
zealous in zeal to extirpate the Protestant faith, and to reduce by
force of arms the refractory towns of Flanders. He declared to his old
friend, Count Hogstraten, as also to the rest of the Gueux, that he
would withdraw from them his friendship forever if they hesitated any
longer to return into the bosom of the church, and reconcile themselves
with their king. All the confidential letters which had been exchanged
between him and them were returned, and by this last step the breach
between them was made public and irreparable. Egmont's secession, and
the flight of the Prince of Orange, destroyed the last hope of the
Protestants and dissolved the whole league of the Gueux. Its members
vied with each other in readiness--nay, they could not soon enough
abjure the covenant and take the new oath proposed to them by the
government. In vain did the Protestant merchants exclaim at this breach
of faith on the part of the nobles; their weak voice was no longer
listened to, and all the sums were lost with which they had supplied the
league.

The most important places were quickly reduced and garrisoned; the
rebels had fled, or perished by the hand of the executioner; in the
provinces no protector was left. All yielded to the fortune of the
regent, and her victorious army was advancing against Antwerp. After a
long and obstinate contest this town had been cleared of the worst
rebels; Hermann and his adherents took to flight; the internal storms
had spent their rage. The minds of the people became gradually
composed, and no longer excited at will by every furious fanatic, began
to listen to better counsels. The wealthier citizens earnestly longed
for peace to revive commerce and trade, which had suffered severely from
the long reign of anarchy. The dread of Alva's approach worked wonders;
in order to prevent the miseries which a Spanish army would inflict upon
the country, the people hastened to throw themselves on the gentler
mercies of the regent. Of their own accord they despatched
plenipotentiaries to Brussels to negotiate for a treaty and to hear her
terms. Agreeably as the regent was surprised by this voluntary step,
she did not allow herself to be hurried away by her joy. She declared
that she neither could nor would listen to any overtures or
representations until the town had received a garrison. Even this was
no longer opposed, and Count Mansfeld marched in the day after with
sixteen squadrons in battle array. A solemn treaty was now made between
the town and duchess, by which the former bound itself to prohibit the
Calvinistic form of worship, to banish all preachers of that persuasion,
to restore the Roman Catholic religion to its former dignity, to
decorate the despoiled churches with their former ornaments, to
administer the old edicts as before, to take the new oath which the
other towns had sworn to, and, lastly, to deliver into the hands of
justice all who been guilty of treason, in bearing arms, or taking part
in the desecration of the churches. On the other hand, the regent
pledged herself to forget all that had passed, and even to intercede for
the offenders with the king. All those who, being dubious of obtaining
pardon, preferred banishment, were to be allowed a month to convert
their property into money, and place themselves in safety. From this
grace none were to be excluded but such as had been guilty of a capital
offence, and who were excepted by the previous article. Immediately
upon the conclusion of this treaty all Calvinist and Lutheran preachers
in Antwerp, and the adjoining territory, were warned by the herald to
quit the country within twenty-four hours. All the streets and gates
were now thronged with fugitives, who for the honor of their God
abandoned what was dearest to them, and sought a more peaceful home for
their persecuted faith. Here husbands were taking an eternal farewell
of their wives, fathers of their children; there whole families were
preparing to depart. All Antwerp resembled a house of mourning;
wherever the eye turned some affecting spectacle of painful separation
presented itself. A seal was set on the doors of the Protestant
churches; the whole worship seemed to be extinct. The 10th of April
(1567) was the day appointed for the departure of the preachers. In the
town hall, where they appeared for the last time to take leave of the
magistrate, they could not command their grief; but broke forth into
bitter reproaches. They had been sacrificed, they exclaimed, they had
been shamefully betrayed; but a time would come when Antwerp would pay
dearly enough for this baseness. Still more bitter were the complaints
of the Lutheran clergy, whom the magistrate himself had invited into the
country to preach against the Calvinists. Under the delusive
representation that the king was not unfavorable to their religion they
had been seduced into a combination against the Calvinists, but as soon
as the latter had been by their co-operation brought under subjection,
and their own services were no longer required, they were left to bewail
their folly, which had involved themselves and their enemies in common
ruin.

A few days afterwards the regent entered Antwerp in triumph, accompanied
by a thousand Walloon horse, the Knights of the Golden Fleece, all the
governors and counsellors, a number of municipal officers, and her whole
court. Her first visit was to the cathedral, which still bore
lamentable traces of the violence of the Iconoclasts, and drew from her
many and bitter tears. Immediately afterwards four of the rebels, who
had been overtaken in their flight, were brought in and executed in the
public market-place. All the children who had been baptized after the
Protestant rites were rebaptized by Roman Catholic priests; all the
schools of heretics were closed, and their churches levelled to the
ground. Nearly all the towns in the Netherlands followed the example of
Antwerp and banished the Protestant preachers. By the end of April the
Roman Catholic churches were repaired and embellished more splendidly
than ever, while all the Protestant places of worship were pulled down,
and every vestige of the proscribed belief obliterated in the seventeen
provinces. The populace, whose sympathies are generally with the
successful party, was now as active in accelerating the ruin of the
unfortunate as a short time before it had been furiously zealous in its
cause; in Ghent a large and beautiful church which the Calvinists had
erected was attacked, and in less than an hour had wholly disappeared.
From the beams of the roofless churches gibbets were erected for those
who had profaned the sanctuaries of the Roman Catholics. The places of
execution were filled with corpses, the prisons with condemned victims,
the high roads with fugitives. Innumerable were the victims of this
year of murder; in the smallest towns fifty at least, in several of the
larger as many as three hundred, were put to death, while no account was
kept of the numbers in the open country who fell into the hands of the
provost-marshal and were immediately strung up as miscreants, without
trial and without mercy.

The regent was still in Antwerp when ambassadors presented themselves
from the Electors of Brandenburg, Saxony, Hesse, Wurtemberg, and Baden
to intercede for their fugitive brethren in the faith. The expelled
preachers of the Augsburg Confession had claimed the rights assured to
them by the religious peace of the Germans, in which Brabant, as part of
the empire, participated, and had thrown themselves on the protection of
those princes. The arrival of the foreign ministers alarmed the regent,
and she vainly endeavored to prevent their entrance into Antwerp; under
the guise, however, of showing them marks of honor, she continued to
keep them closely watched lest they should encourage the malcontents in
any attempts against the peace of the town. From the high tone which
they most unreasonably adopted towards the regent it might almost be
inferred that they were little in earnest in their demand. "It was but
reasonable," they said, "that the Confession of Augsburg, as the only
one which met the spirit of the gospel, should be the ruling faith in
the Netherlands; but to persecute it by such cruel edicts as were in
force was positively unnatural and could not be allowed. They therefore
required of the regent, in the name of religion, not to treat the people
entrusted to her rule with such severity." She replied through the Count
of Staremberg, her minister for German affairs, that such an exordium
deserved no answer at all. From the sympathy which the German princes
had shown for the Belgian fugitives it was clear that they gave less
credit to the letters of the king, in explanation of his measures, than
to the reports of a few worthless wretches who, in the desecrated
churches, had left behind them a worthier memorial of their acts and
characters. It would far more become them to leave to the King of Spain
the care of his own subjects, and abandon the attempt to foster a spirit
of rebellion in foreign countries, from which they would reap neither
honor nor profit. The ambassadors left Antwerp in a few days without
having effected anything. The Saxon minister, indeed, in a private
interview with the regent even assured her that his master had most
reluctantly taken this step.

The German ambassadors had not quitted Antwerp when intelligence from
Holland completed the triumph of the regent. From fear of Count Megen
Count Brederode had deserted his town of Viane, and with the aid of the
Protestants inhabitants had succeeded in throwing himself into
Amsterdam, where his arrival caused great alarm to the city magistrate,
who had previously found difficulty in preventing a revolt, while it
revived the courage of the Protestants. Here Brederode's adherents
increased daily, and many noblemen flocked to him from Utrecht,
Friesland, and Groningen, whence the victorious arms of Megen and
Aremberg had driven them. Under various disguises they found means to
steal into the city, where they gathered round Brederode, and served him
as a strong body-guard. The regent, apprehensive of a new outbreak,
sent one of her private secretaries, Jacob de la Torre, to the council
of Amsterdam, and ordered them to get rid of Count Brederode on any
terms and at any risk. Neither the magistrate nor de la Torre himself,
who visited Brederode in person to acquaint him with the will of the
duchess, could prevail upon him to depart. The secretary was even
surprised in his own chamber by a party of Brederode's followers, and
deprived of all his papers, and would, perhaps, have lost his life also
if he had not contrived to make his escape. Brederode remained in
Amsterdam a full month after this occurrence, a powerless idol of the
Protestants, and an oppressive burden to the Roman Catholics; while his
fine army, which he had left in Viane, reinforced by many fugitives from
the southern provinces, gave Count Megen enough to do without attempting
to harass the Protestants in their flight. At last Brederode resolved
to follow the example of Orange, and, yielding to necessity, abandon a
desperate cause. He informed the town council that he was willing to
leave Amsterdam if they would enable him to do so by furnishing him with
the pecuniary means. Glad to get quit of him, they hastened to borrow
the money on the security of the town council. Brederode quitted
Amsterdam the same night, and was conveyed in a gunboat as far as Vlie,
from whence he fortunately escaped to Embden. Fate treated him more
mildly than the majority of those he had implicated in his foolhardy
enterprise; he died the year after, 1568, at one of his castles in
Germany, from the effects of drinking, by which he sought ultimately to
drown his grief and disappointments. His widow, Countess of Moers in
her own right, was remarried to the Prince Palatine, Frederick III. The
Protestant cause lost but little by his demise; the work which he had
commenced, as it had not been kept alive by him, so it did not die with
him.

The little army, which in his disgraceful flight he had deserted, was
bold and valiant, and had a few resolute leaders. It disbanded, indeed,
as soon as he, to whom it looked for pay, had fled; but hunger and
courage kept its parts together some time longer. One body, under
command of Dietrich of Battenburgh, marched to Amsterdam in the hope of
carrying that town; but Count Megen hastened with thirteen companies of
excellent troops to its relief, and compelled the rebels to give up the
attempt. Contenting themselves with plundering the neighboring
cloisters, among which the abbey of Egmont in particular was hardly
dealt with, they turned off towards Waaterland, where they hoped the
numerous swamps would protect them from pursuit. But thither Count
Megen followed them, and compelled them in all haste to seek safety in
the Zuyderzee. The brothers Van Battenburg, and two Friesan nobles,
Beima and Galama, with a hundred and twenty men and the booty they had
taken from the monasteries, embarked near the town of Hoorne, intending
to cross to Friesland, but through the treachery of the steersman, who
ran the vessel on a sand-bank near Harlingen, they fell into the hands
of one of Aremberg's captains, who took them all prisoners. The Count
of Aremberg immediately pronounced sentence upon all the captives of
plebeian rank, but sent his noble prisoners to the regent, who caused
seven of them to be beheaded. Seven others of the most noble, including
the brothers Van Battenburg and some Frieslanders, all in the bloom of
youth, were reserved for the Duke of Alva, to enable him to signalize
the commencement of his administration by a deed which was in every way
worthy of him. The troops in four other vessels which set sail from
Medenhlick, and were pursued by Count Megen in small boats, were more
successful. A contrary wind had forced them out of their course and
driven them ashore on the coast of Gueldres, where they all got safe to
land; crossing the Rhine, near Heusen, they fortunately escaped into
Cleves, where they tore their flags in pieces and dispersed. In North
Holland Count Megen overtook some squadrons who had lingered too long in
plundering the cloisters, and completely overpowered them. He
afterwards formed a junction with Noircarmes and garrisoned Amsterdam.
The Duke Erich of Brunswick also surprised three companies, the last
remains of the army of the Gueux, near Viane, where they were
endeavoring to take a battery, routed them and captured their leader,
Rennesse, who was shortly afterwards beheaded at the castle of
Freudenburg, in Utrecht. Subsequently, when Duke Erich entered Viane,
he found nothing but deserted streets, the inhabitants having left it
with the garrison on the first alarm. He immediately razed the
fortifications, and reduced this arsenal of the Gueux to an open town
without defences. All the originators of the league were now dispersed;
Brederode and Louis of Nassau had fled to Germany, and Counts
Hogstraten, Bergen, and Kuilemberg had followed their example.
Mansfeld had seceded, the brothers Van Battenburg awaited in prison an
ignomonious fate, while Thoulouse alone had found an honorable death on
the field of battle. Those of the confederates who had escaped the
sword of the enemy and the axe of the executioner had saved nothing but
their lives, and thus the title which they had assumed for show became
at last a terrible reality.

Such was the inglorious end of the noble league, which in its beginning
awakened such fair hopes and promised to become a powerful protection
against oppression. Unanimity was its strength, distrust and internal
dissension its ruin. It brought to light and developed many rare and
beautiful virtues, but it wanted the most indispensable of all, prudence
and moderation, without which any undertaking must miscarry, and all the
fruits of the most laborious industry perish. If its objects had been
as pure as it pretended, or even had they remained as pure as they
really were at its first establishment, it might have defied the
unfortunate combination of circumstances which prematurely overwhelmed
it, and even if unsuccessful it would still have deserved an honorable
mention in history. But it is too evident that the confederate nobles,
whether directly or indirectly, took a greater share in the frantic
excesses of the Iconoclasts than comported with the dignity and
blamelessness of their confederation, and many among them openly
exchanged their own good cause for the mad enterprise of these worthless
vagabonds. The restriction of the Inquisition and a mitigation of the
cruel inhumanity of the edicts must be laid to the credit of the league;
but this transient relief was dearly purchased, at the cost of so many
of the best and bravest citizens, who either lost their lives in the
field, or in exile carried their wealth and industry to another quarter
of the world; and of the presence of Alva and the Spanish arms. Many,
too, of its peaceable citizens, who without its dangerous temptations
would never have been seduced from the ranks of peace and order, were
beguiled by the hope of success into the most culpable enterprises, and
by their failure plunged into ruin and misery. But it cannot be denied
that the league atoned in some measure for these wrongs by positive
benefits. It brought together and emboldened many whom a selfish
pusillanimity kept asunder and inactive; it diffused a salutary public
spirit amongst the Belgian people, which the oppression of the
government had almost entirely extinguished, and gave unanimity and a
common voice to the scattered members of the nation, the absence of
which alone makes despots bold. The attempt, indeed, failed, and the
knots, too carelessly tied, were quickly unloosed; but it was through
such failures that the nation was eventually to attain to a firm and
lasting union, which should bid defiance to change.

The total destruction of the Geusen army quickly brought the Dutch towns
also back to their obedience, and in the provinces there remained not a
single place which had not submitted to the regent; but the increasing
emigration, both of the natives and the foreign residents, threatened
the country with depopulation. In Amsterdam the crowd of fugitives was
so great that vessels were wanting to convey them across the North Sea
and the Zuyderzee, and that flourishing emporium beheld with dismay the
approaching downfall of its prosperity. Alarmed at this general flight,
the regent hastened to write letters to all the towns, to encourage the
citizens to remain, and by fair promises to revive a hope of better and
milder measures. In the king's name she promised to all who would
freely swear to obey the state and the church complete indemnity, and by
public proclamation invited the fugitives to trust to the royal clemency
and return to their homes. She engaged also to relieve the nation from
the dreaded presence of a Spanish army, even if it were already on the
frontiers; nay, she went so far as to drop hints that, if necessary,
means might be found to prevent it by force from entering the provinces,
as she was fully determined not to relinquish to another the glory of a
peace which it had cost her so much labor to effect. Few, however,
returned in reliance upon her word, and these few had cause to repent it
in the sequel; many thousands had already quitted the country, and
several thousands more quickly followed them. Germany and England were
filled with Flemish emigrants, who, wherever they settled, retained
their usages and manners, and even their costume, unwilling to come to
the painful conclusion that they should never again see their native
land, and to give up all hopes of return. Few carried with them any
remains of their former affluence; the greater portion had to beg their
way, and bestowed on their adopted country nothing but industrious skill
and honest citizens.

And now the regent hastened to report to the king tidings such as,
during her whole administration, she had never before been able to
gratify him with. She announced to him that she had succeeded in
restoring quiet throughout the provinces, and that she thought herself
strong enough to maintain it. The sects were extirpated, and the Roman
Catholic worship re-established in all its former splendor; the rebels
had either already met with, or were awaiting in prison, the punishment
they deserved; the towns were secured by adequate garrisons. There was
therefore no necessity for sending Spanish troops into the Netherlands,
and nothing to justify their entrance. Their arrival would tend to
destroy the existing repose, which it had cost so much to establish,
would check the much-desired revival of commerce and trade, and, while
it would involve the country in new expenses, would at the same time
deprive them of the only means of supporting them. The mere rumor of
the approach of a Spanish army had stripped the country of many
thousands of its most valuable citizens; its actual appearance would
reduce it to a desert. As there was no longer any enemy to subdue, or
rebellion to suppress, the people would see no motive for the march of
this army but punishment and revenge, and under this supposition its
arrival would neither be welcomed nor honored. No longer excused by
necessity, this violent expedient would assume the odious aspect of
oppression, would exasperate the national mind afresh, drive the
Protestants to desperation, and arm their brethren in other countries in
their defence. The regent, she said, had in the king's name promised
the nation it should be relieved from this foreign army, and to this
stipulation she was principally indebted for the present peace; she
could not therefore guarantee its long continuance if her pledge was not
faithfully fulfilled. The Netherlands would receive him as their
sovereign, the king, with every mark of attachment and veneration, but
he must come as a father to bless, not as a despot to chastise them.
Let him come to enjoy the peace which she had bestowed on the country,
but not to destroy it afresh.



      ALVA'S ARMAMENT AND EXPEDITION TO THE NETHERLANDS.

But it was otherwise determined in the council at Madrid. The minister,
Granvella, who, even while absent himself, ruled the Spanish cabinet by
his adherents; the Cardinal Grand Inquisitor, Spinosa, and the Duke of
Alva, swayed respectively by hatred, a spirit of persecution, or private
interest, had outvoted the milder councils of the Prince Ruy Gomes of
Eboli, the Count of Feria, and the king's confessor, Fresneda. The
insurrection, it was urged by the former, was indeed quelled for the
present, but only because the rebels were awed by the rumor of the
king's armed approach; it was to fear of punishment alone, and not to
sorrow for their crime, that the present calm was to be ascribed, and
it would soon again be broken if that feeling were allowed to subside.
In fact, the offences of the people fairly afforded the king the
opportunity he had so long desired of carrying out his despotic views
with an appearance of justice. The peaceable settlement for which the
regent took credit to herself was very far from according with his
wishes, which sought rather for a legitimate pretext to deprive the
provinces of their privileges, which were so obnoxious to his despotic
temper.

With an impenetrable dissimulation Philip had hitherto fostered the
general delusion that he was about to visit the provinces in person,
while all along nothing could have been more remote from his real
intentions. Travelling at any time ill suited the methodical regularity
of his life, which moved with the precision of clockwork; and his narrow
and sluggish intellect was oppressed by the variety and multitude of
objects with which new scenes crowded it. The difficulties and dangers
which would attend a journey to the Netherlands must, therefore, have
been peculiarly alarming to his natural timidity and love of ease. Why
should he, who, in all that he did, was accustomed to consider himself
alone, and to make men accommodate themselves to his principles, not his
principles to men, undertake so perilous an expedition, when he could
see neither the advantage nor necessity of it. Moreover, as it had ever
been to him an utter impossibility to separate, even for a moment, his
person from his royal dignity, which no prince ever guarded so
tenaciously and pedantically as himself, so the magnificence and
ceremony which in his mind were inseparably connected with such a
journey, and the expenses which, on this account, it would necessarily
occasion, were of themselves sufficient motives to account for his
indisposition to it, without its being at all requisite to call in the
aid of the influence of his favorite, Ruy Gomes, who is said to have
desired to separate his rival, the Duke of Alva, from the king. Little,
however, as be seriously intended this journey, he still deemed it
advisable to keep up the expectation of it, as well with a view of
sustaining the courage of the loyal as of preventing a dangerous
combination of the disaffected, and stopping the further progress
of the rebels.

In order to carry on the deception as long as possible, Philip made
extensive preparations for his departure, and neglected nothing which
could be required for such an event. He ordered ships to be fitted out,
appointed the officers and others to attend him. To allay the suspicion
such warlike preparations might excite in all foreign courts, they were
informed through his ambassadors of his real design. He applied to the
King of France for a passage for himself and attendants through that
kingdom, and consulted the Duke of Savoy as to the preferable route. He
caused a list to be drawn up of all the towns and fortified places that
lay in his march, and directed all the intermediate distances to be
accurately laid down. Orders were issued for taking a map and survey of
the whole extent of country between Savoy and Burgundy, the duke being
requested to furnish the requisite surveyors and scientific officers.
To such lengths was the deception carried that the regent was commanded
to hold eight vessels at least in readiness off Zealand, and to despatch
them to meet the king the instant she heard of his having sailed from
Spain; and these ships she actually got ready, and caused prayers to be
offered up in all the churches for the king's safety during the voyage,
though in secret many persons did not scruple to remark that in his
chamber at Madrid his majesty would not have much cause to dread the
storms at sea. Philip played his part with such masterly skill that the
Belgian ambassadors at Madrid, Lords Bergen and Montigny, who at first
had disbelieved in the sincerity of his pretended journey, began at last
to be alarmed, and infected their friends in Brussels with similar
apprehensions. An attack of tertian ague, which about this time the
king suffered, or perhaps feigned, in Segovia, afforded a plausible
pretence for postponing his journey, while meantime the preparations for
it were carried on with the utmost activity. At last, when the urgent
and repeated solicitations of his sister compelled him to make a
definite explanation of his plans, he gave orders that the Duke of Alva
should set out forthwith with an army, both to clear the way before him
of rebels, and to enhance the splendor of his own royal arrival. He did
not yet venture to throw off the mask and announce the duke as his
substitute. He had but too much reason to fear that the submission
which his Flemish nobles would cheerfully yield to their sovereign would
be refused to one of his servants, whose cruel character was well known,
and who, moreover, was detested as a foreigner and the enemy of their
constitution. And, in fact, the universal belief that the king was soon
to follow, which long survived Alva's entrance into the country,
restrained the outbreak of disturbances which otherwise would assuredly
have been caused by the cruelties which marked the very opening of the
duke's government.

The clergy of Spain, and especially the Inquisition, contributed richly
towards the expenses of this expedition as to a holy war. Throughout
Spain the enlisting was carried on with the utmost zeal. The viceroys
and governors of Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, and Milan received orders to
select the best of their Italian and Spanish troops in the garrisons and
despatch them to the general rendezvous in the Genoese territory, where
the Duke of Alva would exchange them for the Spanish recruits which he
should bring with him. At the same time the regent was commanded to
hold in readiness a few more regiments of German infantry in Luxembourg,
under the command of the Counts Eberstein, Schaumburg, and Lodrona, and
also some squadrons of light cavalry in the Duchy of Burgundy to
reinforce the Spanish general immediately on his entrance into the
provinces. The Count of Barlaimont was commissioned to furnish the
necessary provision for the armament, and a sum of two hundred thousand
gold florins was remitted to the regent to enable her to meet these
expenses and to maintain her own troops.

The French court, however, under pretence of the danger to be
apprehended from the Huguenots, had refused to allow the Spanish army to
pass through France. Philip applied to the Dukes of Savoy and Lorraine,
who were too dependent upon him to refuse his request. The former
merely stipulated that he should be allowed to maintain two thousand
infantry and a squadron of horse at the king's expense in order to
protect his country from the injuries to which it might otherwise be
exposed from the passage of the Spanish army. At the same time he
undertook to provide the necessary supplies for its maintenance during
the transit.

The rumor of this arrangement roused the Huguenots, the Genevese, the
Swiss, and the Grisons. The Prince of Conde and the Admiral Coligny
entreated Charles IX. not to neglect so favorable a moment of inflicting
a deadly blow on the hereditary foe of France. With the aid of the
Swiss, the Genevese, and his own Protestant subjects, it would, they
alleged, be an easy matter to destroy the flower of the Spanish troops
in the narrow passes of the Alpine mountains; and they promised to
support him in this undertaking with an army of fifty thousand
Huguenots. This advice, however, whose dangerous object was not easily
to be mistaken, was plausibly declined by Charles IX., who assured them
that he was both able and anxious to provide for the security of his
kingdom. He hastily despatched troops to cover the French frontiers;
and the republics of Geneva, Bern, Zurich, and the Grisons followed his
example, all ready to offer a determined opposition to the dreaded enemy
of their religion and their liberty.

On the 5th of May, 1567, the Duke of Alva set sail from Carthagena with
thirty galleys, which had been furnished by Andrew Doria and the Duke
Cosmo of Florence, and within eight days landed at Genoa, where the four
regiments were waiting to join him. But a tertian ague, with which he
was seized shortly after his arrival, compelled him to remain for some
days inactive in Lombardy--a delay of which the neighboring powers
availed themselves to prepare for defence. As soon as the duke
recovered he held at Asti, in Montferrat, a review of all his troops,
who were more formidable by their valor than by their numbers, since
cavalry and infantry together did not amount to much above ten thousand
men. In his long and perilous march he did not wish to encumber himself
with useless supernumeraries, which would only impede his progress and
increase the difficulty of supporting his army. These ten thousand
veterans were to form the nucleus of a greater army, which, according as
circumstances and occasion might require, he could easily assemble in
the Netherlands themselves.

This array, however, was as select as it was small. It consisted of the
remains of those victorious legions at whose head Charles V. had made
Europe tremble; sanguinary, indomitable bands, in whose battalions the
firmness of the old Macedonian phalanx lived again; rapid in their
evolutions from long practice, hardy and enduring, proud of their
leader's success, and confident from past victories, formidable by their
licentiousness, but still more so by their discipline; let loose with
all the passions of a warmer climate upon a rich and peaceful country,
and inexorable towards an enemy whom the church had cursed. Their
fanatical and sanguinary spirit, their thirst for glory and innate
courage was aided by a rude sensuality, the instrument by which the
Spanish general firmly and surely ruled his otherwise intractable
troops. With a prudent indulgence he allowed riot and voluptuousness
to reign throughout the camp. Under his tacit connivance Italian
courtezans followed the standards; even in the march across the
Apennines, where the high price of the necessaries of life compelled him
to reduce his force to the smallest possible number, he preferred to
have a few regiments less rather than to leave behind these instruments
of voluptuousness.

   [The bacchanalian procession of this army contrasted strangely
   enough with the gloomy seriousness and pretended sanctity of his
   aim. The number of these women was so great that to restrain the
   disorders and quarrelling among themselves they hit upon the
   expedient of establishing a discipline of their own. They ranged
   themselves under particular flags, marched in ranks and sections,
   and in admirable military order, after each battalion, and classed
   themselves with strict etiquette according to their rank and pay.]

But industriously as Alva strove to relax the morals of his soldiers,
he enforced the more rigidly a strict military discipline, which was
interrupted only by a victory or rendered less severe by a battle.
For all this he had, he said, the authority of the Athenian General
Iphicrates, who awarded the prize of valor to the pleasure-loving and
rapacious soldier. The more irksome the restraint by which the passions
of the soldiers were kept in check, the greater must have been the
vehemence with which they broke forth at the sole outlet which was left
open to them.

The duke divided his infantry, which was about nine thousand strong, and
chiefly Spaniards, into four brigades, and gave the command of them to
four Spanish officers. Alphonso of Ulloa led the Neapolitan brigade of
nine companies, amounting to three thousand two hundred and thirty men;
Sancho of Lodogno commanded the Milan brigade, three thousand two
hundred men in ten companies; the Sicilian brigade, with the same number
of companies, and consisting of sixteen hundred men, was under Julian
Romero, an experienced warrior, who had already fought on Belgian
ground.

   [The same officer who commanded one of the Spanish regiments about
   which so much complaint had formerly been made in the States-
   General.]

Gonsalo of Braccamonte headed that of Sardinia, which was raised by
three companies of recruits to the full complement of the former. To
every company, moreover, were added fifteen Spanish musqueteers. The
horse, in all twelve hundred strong, consisted of three Italian, two
Albanian, and seven Spanish squadrons, light and heavy cavalry, and the
chief command was held by Ferdinand and Frederick of Toledo, the two
sons of Alva. Chiappin Vitelli, Marquis of Cetona, was field-marshal;
a celebrated general whose services had been made over to the King of
Spain by Cosmo of Florence; and Gabriel Serbellon was general of
artillery. The Duke of Savoy lent Alva an experienced engineer, Francis
Pacotto, of Urbino, who was to be employed in the erection of new
fortifications. His standard was likewise followed by a number of
volunteers, and the flower of the Spanish nobility, of whom the greater
part had fought under Charles V. in Germany, Italy, and before Tunis.
Among these were Christopher Mondragone, one of the ten Spanish heroes
who, near Mithlberg, swam across the Elbe with their swords between
their teeth, and, under a shower of bullets from the enemy, brought over
from the opposite shore the boats which the emperor required for the
construction of a bridge. Sancho of Avila, who had been trained to war
under Alva himself, Camillo of Monte, Francis Ferdugo, Karl Davila,
Nicolaus Basta, and Count Martinego, all fired with a noble ardor,
either to commence their military career under so eminent a leader, or
by another glorious campaign under his command to crown the fame they
had already won. After the review the army marched in three divisions
across Mount Cenis, by the very route which sixteen centuries before
Hannibal is said to have taken. The duke himself led the van; Ferdinand
of Toledo, with whom was associated Lodogno as colonel, the centre; and
the Marquis of Cetona the rear. The Commissary General, Francis of
Ibarra, was sent before with General Serbellon to open the road for the
main body, and get ready the supplies at the several quarters for the
night. The places which the van left in the morning were entered in the
evening by the centre, which in its turn made room on the following day
for the rear. Thus the army crossed the Alps of Savoy by regular
stages, and with the fourteenth day completed that dangerous passage.
A French army of observation accompanied it side by side along the
frontiers of Dauphins, and the course of the Rhone, and the allied army
of the Genevese followed it on the right, and was passed by it at a
distance of seven miles. Both these armies of observation carefully
abstained from any act of hostility, and were merely intended to cover
their own frontiers. As the Spanish legions ascended and descended the
steep mountain crags, or while they crossed the rapid Iser, or file by
file wound through the narrow passes of the rocks, a handful of men
would have been sufficient to put an entire stop to their march, and to
drive them back into the mountains, where they would have been
irretrievably lost, since at each place of encampment supplies were
provided for no more than a single day, and for a third part only of the
whole force. But a supernatural awe and dread of the Spanish name
appeared to have blinded the eyes of the enemy so that they did not
perceive their advantage, or at least did not venture to profit by it.
In order to give them as little opportunity as possible of remembering
it, the Spanish general hastened through this dangerous pass.

Convinced, too, that if his troops gave the slightest umbrage he was
lost, the strictest discipline was maintained during the march; not a
single peasant's hut, not a single field was injured; and never,
perhaps, in the memory of man was so numerous an army led so far in such
excellent order.

   [Once only on entering Lorraine three horsemen ventured to drive
   away a few sheep from a flock, of which circumstance the duke was
   no sooner informed than he sent back to the owner what had been
   taken from him and sentenced the offenders to be hung. This
   sentence was, at the intercession of the Lorraine general, who had
   come to the frontiers to pay his respects to the duke, executed on
   only one of the three, upon whom the lot fell at the drum-head.]

Destined as this army was for vengeance and murder, a malignant and
baleful star seemed to conduct it safe through all dangers; and it would
be difficult to decide whether the prudence of its general or the
blindness of its enemies is most to be wondered at.

In Franche Comte, four squadrons of Burgundian cavalry, newly-raised,
joined the main army, which, at Luxembourg, was also reinforced by three
regiments of German infantry under the command of Counts Eberstein,
Schaumburg, and Lodrona. From Thionville, where he halted a few days,
Alva sent his salutations to the regent by Francis of Ibarra, who was,
at the same time, directed to consult her on the quartering of the
troops. On her part, Noircarmes and Barlairnont were despatched to the
Spanish camp to congratulate the duke on his arrival, and to show him
the customary marks of honor. At the same time they were directed to
ask him to produce the powers entrusted to him by the king, of which,
however, he only showed a part. The envoys of the regent were followed
by swarms of the Flemish nobility, who thought they could not hasten
soon enough to conciliate the favor of the new viceroy, or by a timely
submission avert the vengeance which was preparing. Among them was
Count Egmont. As he came forward the duke pointed him out to the
bystanders. "Here comes an arch-heretic," he exclaimed, loud enough to
be heard by Egmont himself, who, surprised at these words, stopped and
changed color. But when the duke, in order to repair his imprudence,
went up to him with a serene countenance, and greeted him with a
friendly embrace, the Fleming was ashamed of his fears, and made light
of this warning, by putting some frivolous interpretation upon it.
Egmont sealed this new friendship with a present of two valuable
chargers, which Alva accepted with a grave condescension.

Upon the assurance of the regent that the provinces were in the
enjoyment of perfect peace, and that no opposition was to be apprehended
from any quarter, the duke discharged some German regiments, which had
hitherto drawn their pay from the Netherlands. Three thousand six
hundred men, under the command of Lodrona, were quartered in Antwerp,
from which town the Walloon garrison, in which full reliance could not
be placed, was withdrawn; garrisons proportionably stronger were thrown
into Ghent and other important places; Alva himself marched with the
Milan brigade towards Brussels, whither he was accompanied by a splendid
cortege of the noblest in the land.

Here, as in all the other towns of the Netherlands, fear and terror had
preceded him, and all who were conscious of any offences, and even those
who were sensible of none, alike awaited his approach with a dread
similar to that with which criminals see the coming of their day of
trial. All who could tear themselves from the ties of family, property,
and country had already fled, or now at last took to flight. The
advance of the Spanish army had already, according to the report of the
regent, diminished the population of the provinces by the loss of one
hundred thousand citizens, and this general flight still continued. But
the arrival of the Spanish general could not be more hateful to the
people of the Netherlands than it was distressing and dispiriting to the
regent. At last, after so many years of anxiety, she had begun to taste
the sweets of repose, and that absolute-authority, which had been the
long-cherished object of eight years of a troubled and difficult
administration. This late fruit of so much anxious industry, of so many
cares and nightly vigils, was now to be wrested from her by a stranger,
who was to be placed at once in possession of all the advantages which
she had been forced to extract from adverse circumstances, by a long
and tedious course of intrigue and patient endurance. Another was
lightly to bear away the prize of promptitude, and to triumph by more
rapid success over her superior but less glittering merits. Since the
departure of the minister, Granvella, she had tasted to the full the
pleasures of independence. The flattering homage of the nobility, which
allowed her more fully to enjoy the shadow of power, the more they
deprived her of its substance, had, by degrees, fostered her vanity to
such an extent, that she at last estranged by her coldness even the most
upright of all her servants, the state counsellor Viglius, who always
addressed her in the language of truth. All at once a censor of her
actions was placed at her side, a partner of her power was associated
with her, if indeed it was not rather a master who was forced upon her,
whose proud, stubborn, and imperious spirit, which no courtesy could
soften, threatened the deadliest wounds to her self-love and vanity. To
prevent his arrival she had, in her representations to the king, vainly
exhausted every political argument. To no purpose had she urged that
the utter ruin of the commerce of the Netherlands would be the
inevitable consequence of; this introduction of the Spanish troops; in
vain had she assured the king that peace was universally restored, and
reminded him of her own services in procuring it, which deserved, she
thought, a better guerdon than to see all the fruits of her labors
snatched from her and given to a foreigner, and more than all, to behold
all the good which she had effected destroyed by a new and different
line of conduct. Even when the duke had already crossed Mount Cenis she
made one more attempt, entreating him at least to diminish his army; but
that also failed, for the duke insisted upon acting up to the powers
entrusted to him. In poignant grief she now awaited his approach, and
with the tears she shed for her country were mingled those of offended
self-love.

On the 22d of August, 1567, the Duke of Alva appeared before the gates
of Brussels. His army immediately took up their quarters in the
suburbs, and he himself made it his first duty to pay his respects to
the sister of his king. She gave him a private audience on the plea of
suffering from sickness. Either the mortification she had undergone had
in reality a serious effect upon her health, or, what is not improbable,
she had recourse to this expedient to pain his haughty spirit, and in
some degree to lessen his triumph. He delivered to her letters from the
king, and laid before her a copy of his own appointment, by which the
supreme command of the whole military force of the Netherlands was
committed to him, and from which, therefore, it would appear, that the
administration of civil affairs remained, as heretofore, in the hands of
the regent. But as soon as he was alone with her he produced a new
commission, which was totally different from the former. According to
this, the power was delegated to him of making war at his discretion,
of erecting fortifications, of appointing and dismissing at pleasure the
governors of provinces, the commandants of towns, and other officers of
the king; of instituting inquiries into the past troubles, of punishing
those who originated them, and of rewarding the loyal. Powers of this
extent, which placed him almost on a level with a sovereign prince, and
far surpassed those of the regent herself, caused her the greatest
consternation, and it was with difficulty that she could conceal her
emotion. She asked the duke whether he had not even a third commission,
or some special orders in reserve which went still further, and were
drawn up still more precisely, to which he replied distinctly enough in
the affirmative, but at the same time gave her to understand that this
commission might be too full to suit the present occasion, and would be
better brought into play hereafter with due regard to time and
circumstances. A few days after his arrival he caused a copy of the
first instructions to be laid before the several councils and the
states, and had them printed to insure their rapid circulation. As the
regent resided in the palace, he took up his quarters temporarily in
Kuilemberg house, the same in which the association of the Gueux had
received its name, and before which, through a wonderful vicissitude,
Spanish tyranny now planted its flag.

A dead silence reigned in Brussels, broken only at times by the unwonted
clang of arms. The duke had entered the town but a few hours when his
attendants, like bloodhounds that have been slipped, dispersed
themselves in all directions. Everywhere foreign faces were to be seen;
the streets were empty, all the houses carefully closed, all amusements
suspended, all public places deserted. The whole metropolis resembled a
place visited by the plague. Acquaintances hurried on without stopping
for their usual greeting; all hastened on the moment a Spaniard showed
himself in the streets. Every sound startled them, as if it were the
knock of the officials of justice at their doors; the nobility, in
trembling anxiety, kept to their houses; they shunned appearing in
public lest their presence should remind the new viceroy of some past
offence. The two nations now seemed to have exchanged characters. The
Spaniard had become the talkative man and the Brabanter taciturn;
distrust and fear had scared away the spirit of cheerfulness and mirth;
a constrained gravity fettered even the play of the features. Every
moment the impending blow was looked for with dread.

This general straining of expectation warned the duke to hasten the
accomplishment of his plans before they should be anticipated by the
timely flight of his victims. His first object was to secure the
suspected nobles, in order, at once and forever, to deprive the faction
of its leaders, and the nation, whose freedom was to be crushed, of all
its supporters. By a pretended affability he had succeeded in lulling
their first alarm, and in restoring Count Egmont in particular to his
former perfect confidence, for which purpose he artfully employed his
sons, Ferdinand and Frederick of Toledo, whose companionableness and
youth assimilated more easily with the Flemish character. By this
skilful advice he succeeded also in enticing Count Horn to Brussels,
who had hitherto thought it advisable to watch the first measures of the
duke from a distance, but now suffered himself to be seduced by the good
fortune of his friend. Some of the nobility, and Count Egmont at the
head of them, even resumed their former gay style of living. But they
themselves did not do so with their whole hearts, and they had not many
imitators. Kuilemberg house was incessantly besieged by a numerous
crowd, who thronged around the person of the new viceroy, and exhibited
an affected gayety on their countenances, while their hearts were wrung
with distress and fear. Egmont in particular assumed the appearance of
a light heart, entertaining the duke's sons, and being feted by them in
return. Meanwhile, the duke was fearful lest so fair an opportunity for
the accomplishment of his plans might not last long, and lest some act
of imprudence might destroy the feeling of security which had tempted
both his victims voluntarily to put themselves into his power; he only
waited for a third; Hogstraten also was to be taken in the same net.
Under a plausible pretext of business he therefore summoned him to the
metropolis. At the same time that he purposed to secure the three
counts in Brussels, Colonel Lodrona was to arrest the burgomaster,
Strahlen, in Antwerp, an intimate friend of the Prince of Orange, and
suspected of having favored the Calvinists; another officer was to seize
the private secretary of Count Egmont, whose name was John Cassembrot
von Beckerzeel, as also some secretaries of Count Horn, and was to
possess themselves of their papers.

When the day arrived which had been fixed upon for the execution of this
plan, the duke summoned all the counsellors and knights before him to
confer with them upon matters of state. On this occasion the Duke of
Arschot, the Counts Mansfeld, Barlaimont, and Aremberg attended on the
part of the Netherlands, and on the part of the Spaniards besides the
duke's sons, Vitelli, Serbellon, and Ibarra. The young Count Mansfeld,
who likewise appeared at the meeting, received a sign from his father to
withdraw with all speed, and by a hasty flight avoid the fate which was
impending over him as a former member of the Geusen league. The duke
purposely prolonged the consultation to give time before he acted for
the arrival of the couriers from Antwerp, who were to bring him the
tidings of the arrest of the other parties. To avoid exciting any
suspicion, the engineer, Pacotto, was required to attend the meeting to
lay before it the plans for some fortifications. At last intelligence
was brought him that Lodrona had successfully executed his commission.
Upon this the duke dexterously broke off the debate and dismissed the
council. And now, as Count Egmont was about to repair to the apartment
of Don Ferdinand, to finish a game that he had commenced with him, the
captain of the duke's body guard, Sancho D'Avila, stopped him, and
demanded his sword in the king's name. At the same time he was
surrounded by a number of Spanish soldiers, who, as had been
preconcerted, suddenly advanced from their concealment. So unexpected
a blow deprived Egmont for some moments of all powers of utterance and
recollection; after a while, however, he collected himself, and taking
his sword from his side with dignified composure, said, as he delivered
it into the hands of the Spaniard, "This sword has before this on more
than one occasion successfully defended the king's cause." Another
Spanish officer arrested Count Horn as he was returning to his house
without the least suspicion of danger. Horn's first inquiry was after
Egmont. On being told that the same fate had just happened to his
friend he surrendered himself without resistance. "I have suffered
myself to be guided by him," he exclaimed, "it is fair that I should
share his destiny." The two counts were placed in confinement in
separate apartments. While this was going on in the interior of
Kuilemberg house the whole garrison were drawn out under arms in front
of it. No one knew what had taken place inside, a mysterious terror
diffused itself throughout Brussels until rumor spread the news of this
fatal event. Each felt as if he himself were the sufferer; with many
indignation at Egmont's blind infatuation preponderated over sympathy
for his fate; all rejoiced that Orange had escaped. The first question
of the Cardinal Granvella, too, when these tidings reached him in Rome,
is said to have been, whether they had taken the Silent One also. On
being answered in the negative he shook his head "then as they have let
him escape they have got nothing." Fate ordained better for the Count
of Hogstraten. Compelled by ill-health to travel slowly, he was met by
the report of this event while he was yet on his way. He hastily turned
back, and fortunately escaped destruction. Immediately after Egmont's
seizure a writing was extorted from him, addressed to the commandant of
the citadel of Ghent, ordering that officer to deliver the fortress to
the Spanish Colonel Alphonso d'Ulloa. Upon this the two counts were
then (after they had been for some weeks confined in Brussels) conveyed
under a guard of three thousand Spaniards to Ghent, where they remained
imprisoned till late in the following year. In the meantime all their
papers had been seized. Many of the first nobility who, by the
pretended kindness of the Duke of Alva, had allowed themselves to be
cajoled into remaining experienced the same fate. Capital punishment
was also, without further delay, inflicted on all who before the duke's
arrival had been taken with arms in their hands. Upon the news of
Egmont's arrest a second body of about twenty thousand inhabitants took
up the wanderer's staff, besides the one hundred thousand who, prudently
declining to await the arrival of the Spanish general, had already
placed themselves in safety.

   [A great part of these fugitives helped to strengthen the army of
   the Huguenots, who had taken occasion, from the passage of the
   Spanish army through Lorraine, to assemble their forces, and now
   pressed Charles IX. hard. On these grounds the French court
   thought it had a right to demand aid from the regent of the
   Netherlands. It asserted that the Huguenots had looked upon the
   march of the Spanish army as the result of a preconcerted plan
   which had been formed against them by the two courts at Bayonne and
   that this had roused them from their slumber. That consequently it
   behooved the Spanish court to assist in extricating the French king
   from difficulties into which the latter had been brought simply by
   the march of the Spanish troops. Alva actually sent the Count of
   Aremberg with a considerable force to join the army of the Queen
   Mother in France, and even offered to command these subsidiaries in
   person, which, however, was declined. Strada, 206. Thuan, 541.]

After so noble a life had been assailed no one counted himself safe any
longer; but many found cause to repent that they had so long deferred
this salutary step; for every day flight was rendered more difficult,
for the duke ordered all the ports to be closed, and punished the
attempt at emigration with death. The beggars were now esteemed
fortunate, who had abandoned country and property in order to preserve
at least their liberty and their lives.



   ALVA'S FIRST MEASURES, AND DEPARTURE OF THE DUCHESS OF PARMA.

Alva's first step, after securing the most suspected of the nobles, was
to restore the Inquisition to its former authority, to put the decrees
of Trent again in force, abolish the "moderation," and promulgate anew
the edicts against heretics in all their original severity. The court
of Inquisition in Spain had pronounced the whole nation of the
Netherlands guilty of treason in the highest degree, Catholics and
heterodox, loyalists and rebels, without distinction; the latter as
having offended by overt acts, the former as having incurred equal guilt
by their supineness. From this sweeping condemnation a very few were
excepted, whose names, however, were purposely reserved, while the
general sentence was publicly confirmed by the king. Philip declared
himself absolved from all his promises, and released from all
engagements which the regent in his name had entered into with the
people of the Netherlands, and all the justice which they had in future
to expect from him must depend on his own good-will and pleasure. All
who had aided in the expulsion of the minister, Granvella, who had taken
part in the petition of the confederate nobles, or had but even spoken
in favor of it; all who had presented a petition against the decrees of
Trent, against the edicts relating to religion, or against the
installation of the bishops; all who had permitted the public
preachings, or had only feebly resisted them; all who had worn the
insignia of the Gueux, had sung Geusen songs, or who in any way
whatsoever had manifested their joy at the establishment of the league;
all who had sheltered or concealed the reforming preachers, attended
Calvinistic funerals, or had even merely known of their secret meetings,
and not given information of them; all who had appealed to the national
privileges; all, in fine, who had expressed an opinion that they ought
to obey God rather than man; all these indiscriminately were declared
liable to the penalties which the law imposed upon any violation of the
royal prerogative, and upon high treason; and these penalties were,
according to the instruction which Alva had received, to be executed on
the guilty persons without forbearance or favor; without regard to rank,
sex, or age, as an example to posterity, and for a terror to all future
times. According to this declaration there was no longer an innocent
person to be found in the whole Netherlands, and the new viceroy had it
in his power to make a fearful choice of victims. Property and life
were alike at his command, and whoever should have the good fortune to
preserve one or both must receive them as the gift of his generosity and
humanity. By this stroke of policy, as refined as it was detestable,
the nation was disarmed, and unanimity rendered impossible. As it
absolutely depended on the duke's arbitrary will upon whom the sentence
should be carried in force which had been passed without exception upon
all, each individual kept himself quiet, in order to escape, if
possible, the notice of the viceroy, and to avoid drawing the fatal
choice upon himself. Every one, on the other hand, in whose favor he
was pleased to make an exception stood in a degree indebted to him, and
was personally under an obligation which must be measured by the value
he set upon his life and property. As, however, this penalty could only
be executed on the smaller portion of the nation, the duke naturally
secured the greater by the strongest ties of fear and gratitude, and for
one whom he sought out as a victim he gained ten others whom he passed
over. As long as he continued true to this policy he remained in quiet
possession of his rule, even amid the streams of blood which he caused
to flow, and did not forfeit this advantage till the want of money
compelled him to impose a burden upon the nation which oppressed all
indiscriminately.

In order to be equal to this bloody occupation, the details of which
were fast accumulating, and to be certain of not losing a single victim
through the want of instruments; and, on the other hand, to render his
proceedings independent of the states, with whose privileges they were
so much at variance, and who, indeed, were far too humane for him, he
instituted an extraordinary court of justice. This court consisted of
twelve criminal judges, who, according to their instructions, to the
very letter of which they must adhere, were to try and pronounce
sentence upon those implicated in the past disturbances. The mere
institution of such a board was a violation of the liberties of the
country, which expressly stipulated that no citizen should be tried out
of his own province; but the duke filled up the measure of his injustice
when, contrary to the most sacred privileges of the nation, he proceeded
to give seats and votes in that court to Spaniards, the open and avowed
enemies of Belgian liberty. He himself was the president of this court,
and after him a certain licentiate, Vargas, a Spaniard by birth, of
whose iniquitous character the historians of both parties are unanimous;
cast out like a plague-spot from his own country, where he had violated
one of his wards, he was a shameless, hardened villain, in whose mind
avarice, lust, and the thirst for blood struggled for ascendancy. The
principal members were Count Aremberg, Philip of Noircarmes, and Charles
of Barlaimont, who, however, never sat in it; Hadrian Nicolai,
chancellor of Gueldres; Jacob Mertens and Peter Asset, presidents of
Artois and Flanders; Jacob Hesselts and John de la Porte, counsellors of
Ghent; Louis del Roi, doctor of theology, and by birth a Spaniard; John
du Bois, king's advocate; and De la'Torre, secretary of the court. In
compliance with the representations of Viglius the privy council was
spared any part in this tribunal; nor was any one introduced into it
from the great council at Malines. The votes of the members were only
recommendatory, not conclusive, the final sentence being reserved by the
duke to himself. No particular time was fixed for the sitting of the
court; the members, however, assembled at noon, as often as the duke
thought good. But after the expiration of the third month Alva began to
be less frequent in his attendance, and at last resigned his place
entirely to his favorite, Vargas, who filled it with such odious fitness
that in a short time all the members, with the exception merely of the
Spanish doctor, Del Rio, and the secretary, De la Torre, weary of the
atrocities of which they were compelled to be both eyewitnesses and
accomplices, remained away from the assembly.

   [The sentences passed upon the most eminent persons (for example,
   the sentence of death passed upon Strahlen, the burgomaster of
   Antwerp), were signed only by Vargas, Del Rio, and De la Torre.]

It is revolting to the feelings to think how the lives of the noblest
and best were thus placed at the mercy of Spanish vagabonds, and how
even the sanctuaries of the nation, its deeds and charters, were
unscrupulously ransacked, the seals broken, and the most secret
contracts between the sovereign and the state profaned and exposed.

   [For an example of the unfeeling levity with which the most
   important matters, even decisions in cases of life and death, were
   treated in this sanguinary council, it may serve to relate what is
   told of the Counsellor Hesselts. He was generally asleep during
   the meeting, and when his turn came to vote on a sentence of death
   he used to cry out, still half asleep: "Ad patibulum! Ad
   patibulum!" so glibly did his tongue utter this word. It is
   further to be remarked of this Hesselts, that his wife, a daughter
   of the President Viglius, had expressly stipulated in the marriage-
   contract that he should resign the dismal office of attorney for
   the king, which made him detested by the whole nation. Vigl. ad
   Hopp. lxvii., L.]

From the council of twelve (which, from the object of its institution,
was called the council for disturbances, but on account of its
proceedings is more generally known under the appellation of the council
of blood, a name which the nation in their exasperation bestowed upon
it), no appeal was allowed. Its proceedings could not be revised. Its
verdicts were irrevocable and independent of all other authority. No
other tribunal in the country could take cognizance of cases which
related to the late insurrection, so that in all the other courts
justice was nearly at a standstill. The great council at Malines was
as good as abolished; the authority of the council of state entirely
ceased, insomuch that its sittings were discontinued. On some rare
occasions the duke conferred with a few members of the late assembly,
but even when this did occur the conference was held in his cabinet, and
was no more than a private consultation, without any of the proper forms
being observed. No privilege, no charter of immunity, however carefully
protected, had any weight with the council for disturbances.

   [Vargas, in a few words of barbarous Latin, demolished at once the
   boasted liberties of the Netherlands. "Non curamus vestros
   privilegios," he replied to one who wished to plead the immunities
   of the University of Louvain.]

It compelled all deeds and contracts to be laid before it, and often
forced upon them the most strained interpetations and alterations. If
the duke caused a sentence to be drawn out which there was reason to
fear might be opposed by the states of Brabant, it was legalized without
the Brabant seal. The most sacred rights of individuals were assailed,
and a tyranny without example forced its arbitrary will even into the
circle of domestic life. As the Protestants and rebels had hitherto
contrived to strengthen their party so much by marriages with the first
families in the country, the duke issued an edict forbidding all
Netherlanders, whatever might be their rank or office, under pain of
death and confiscation of property, to conclude a marriage without
previously obtaining his permission.

All whom the council for disturbances thought proper to summon before it
were compelled to appear, clergy as well as laity; the most venerable
heads of the senate, as well as the reprobate rabble of the Iconoclasts.
Whoever did not present himself, as indeed scarcely anybody did, was
declared an outlaw, and his property was confiscated; but those who were
rash or foolish enough to appear, or who were so unfortunate as to be
seized, were lost without redemption. Twenty, forty, often fifty were
summoned at the same time and from the same town, and the richest were
always the first on whom the thunderbolt descended. The meaner
citizens, who possessed nothing that could render their country and
their homes dear to them, were taken unawares and arrested without any
previous citation. Many eminent merchants, who had at their disposal
fortunes of from sixty thousand to one hundred thousand florins, were
seen with their hands tied behind their backs, dragged like common
vagabonds at the horse's tail to execution, and in Valenciennes
fifty-five persons were decapitated at one time. All the prisons--and the
duke immediately on commencing his administration had built a great
number of them--were crammed full with the accused; hanging, beheading,
quartering, burning were the prevailing and ordinary occupations of the
day; the punishment of the galleys and banishment were more rarely heard
of, for there was scarcely any offence which was reckoned too trival to
be punished with death. Immense sums were thus brought into the treasury,
which, however, served rather to stimulate the new viceroy's and his
colleagues' thirst for gold than to quench it. It seemed to be his insane
purpose to make beggars of the whole people, and to throw all their
riches into the hands of the king and his servants. The yearly income
derived from these confiscations was computed to equal the revenues of
the first kingdoms of Europe; it is said to have been estimated, in a
report furnished to the king, at the incredible amount of twenty million
of dollars. But these proceedings were the more inhuman, as they often
bore hardest precisely upon the very persons who were the most peaceful
subjects, and most orthodox Roman Catholics, whom they could not want to
injure. Whenever an estate was confiscated all the creditors who had
claims upon it were defrauded. The hospitals, too, and public
institutions, which such properties had contributed to support, were now
ruined, and the poor, who had formerly drawn a pittance from this source,
were compelled to see their only spring of comfort dried up. Whoever
ventured to urge their well-grounded claims on the forfeited property
before the council of twelve (for no other tribunal dared to interfere
with these inquiries), consumed their substance in tedious and expensive
proceedings, and were reduced to beggary before they saw the end of them.
The histories of civilized states furnish but one instance of a similar
perversion of justice, of such violation of the rights of property, and
of such waste of human life; but Cinna, Sylla, and Marius entered
vanquished Rome as incensed victors, and practised without disguise what
the viceroy of the Netherlands performed under the venerable veil of the
laws.

Up to the end of the year 1567 the king's arrival had been confidently
expected, and the well-disposed of the people had placed all their last
hopes on this event. The vessels, which Philip had caused to be
equipped expressly for the purpose of meeting him, still lay in the
harbor of Flushing, ready to sail at the first signal; and the town of
Brussels had consented to receive a Spanish garrison, simply because the
king, it was pretended, was to reside within its walls. But this hope
gradually vanished, as he put off the journey from one season to the
next, and the new viceroy very soon began to exhibit powers which
announced him less as a precursor of royalty than as an absolute
minister, whose presence made that of the monarch entirely superfluous.
To compete the distress of the provinces their last good angel was now
to leave them in the person of the regent. From the moment when the
production of the duke's extensive powers left no doubt remaining as to
the practical termination of her own rule, Margaret had formed the
resolution of relinquishing the name also of regent. To see a successor
in the actual possession of a dignity which a nine years' enjoyment had
made indispensable to her; to see the authority, the glory, the
splendor, the adoration, and all the marks of respect, which are the
usual concomitants of supreme power, pass over to another; and to feel
that she had lost that which she could never forget she had once held,
was more than a woman's mind could endure; moreover, the Duke of Alva
was of all men the least calculated to make her feel her privation the
less painful by a forbearing use of his newly-acquired dignity. The
tranquillity of the country, too, which was put in jeopardy by this
divided rule, seemed to impose upon the duchess the necessity of
abdicating. Many governors of provinces refused, without an express
order from the court, to receive commands from the duke and to recognize
him as co-regent.

The rapid change of their point of attraction could not be met by the
courtiers so composedly and imperturbably but that the duchess observed
the alteration, and bitterly felt it. Even the few who, like State
Counsellor Viglius, still firmly adhered to her, did so less from
attachment to her person than from vexation at being displaced by
novices and foreigners, and from being too proud to serve a fresh
apprenticeship under a new viceroy. But far the greater number, with
all their endeavors to keep an exact mean, could not help making a
difference between the homage they paid to the rising sun and that which
they bestowed on the setting luminary. The royal palace in Brussels
became more and more deserted, while the throng at Kuilemberg house
daily increased. But what wounded the sensitiveness of the duchess most
acutely was the arrest of Horn and Egmont, which was planned and
executed by the duke without her knowledge or consent, just as if there
had been no such person as herself in existence. Alva did, indeed,
after the act was done, endeavor to appease her by declaring that the
design had been purposely kept secret from her in order to spare her
name from being mixed up in so odious a transaction; but no such
considerations of delicacy could close the wound which had been
inflicted on her pride. In order at once to escape all risk of similar
insults, of which the present was probably only a forerunner, she
despatched her private secretary, Macchiavell, to the court of her
brother, there to solicit earnestly for permission to resign the
regency. The request was granted without difficulty by the king, who
accompanied his consent with every mark of his highest esteem. He would
put aside (so the king expressed himself) his own advantage and that of
the provinces in order to oblige his sister. He sent a present of
thirty thousand dollars, and allotted to her a yearly pension of twenty
thousand.

   [Which, however, does not appear to have been very punctually paid,
   if a pamphlet maybe trusted which was printed during her lifetime.
   (It bears the title: Discours sur la Blessure de Monseigneur Prince
   d'Orange, 1582, without notice of the place where it was printed,
   and is to be found in the Elector's library at Dresden.) She
   languished, it is there stated, at Namur in poverty, and so ill-
   supported by her son (the then governor of the Netherlands), that
   her own secretary, Aldrobandin, called her sojourn there an exile.
   But the writer goes on to ask what better treatment could she
   expect from a son who, when still very young, being on a visit to
   her at Brussels, snapped his fingers at her behind her back.]

At the same time a diploma was forwarded to the Duke of Alva,
constituting him, in her stead, viceroy of all the Netherlands, with
unlimited powers.

Gladly would Margaret have learned that she was permitted to resign the
regency before a solemn assembly of the states, a wish which she had not
very obscurely hinted to the king. But she was not gratified. She was
particularly fond of solemnity, and the example of the Emperor, her
father, who had exhibited the extraordinary spectacle of his abdication
of the crown in this very city, seemed to have great attractions for
her. As she was compelled to part with supreme power, she could
scarcely be blamed for wishing to do so with as much splendor as
possible. Moreover, she had not failed to observe how much the general
hatred of the duke had effected in her own favor, and she looked,
therefore, the more wistfully forward to a scene, which promised to be
at once so flattering to her and so affecting. She would have been glad
to mingle her own tears with those which she hoped to see shed by the
Netherlanders for their good regent. Thus the bitterness of her descent
from the throne would have been alleviated by the expression of general
sympathy. Little as she had done to merit the general esteem during the
nine years of her administration, while fortune smiled upon her, and the
approbation of her sovereign was the limit to all her wishes, yet now
the sympathy of the nation had acquired a value in her eyes as the only
thing which could in some degree compensate to her for the
disappointment of all her other hopes. Fain would she have persuaded
herself that she had become a voluntary sacrifice to her goodness of
heart and her too humane feelings towards the Netherlanders. As,
however, the king was very far from being disposed to incur any danger
by calling a general assembly of the states, in order to gratify a mere
caprice of his sister, she was obliged to content herself with a
farewell letter to them. In this document she went over her whole
administration, recounted, not without ostentation, the difficulties
with which she had had to struggle, the evils which, by her dexterity,
she had prevented, and wound up at last by saying that she left a
finished work, and had to transfer to her successor nothing but the
punishment of offenders. The king, too, was repeatedly compelled to hear
the same statement, and she left nothing undone to arrogate to herself
the glory of any future advantages which it might be the good fortune of
the duke to realize. Her own merits, as something which did not admit
of a doubt, but was at the same time a burden oppressive to her modesty,
she laid at the feet of the king.

Dispassionate posterity may, nevertheless; hesitate to subscribe
unreservedly to this favorable opinion. Even though the united voice of
her contemporaries, and the testimony of the Netherlands themselves
vouch for it, a third party will not be denied the right to examine her
claims with stricter scrutiny. The popular mind, easily affected, is
but too ready to count the absence of a vice as an additional virtue,
and, under the pressure of existing evil, to give excess of praise for
past benefits.

The Netherlander seems to have concentrated all his hatred upon the
Spanish name. To lay the blame of the national evils on the regent
would tend to remove from the king and his minister the curses which he
would rather shower upon them alone and undividedly; and the Duke of
Alva's government of the Netherlands was, perhaps, not the proper point
of view from which to test the merits of his predecessor. It was
undoubtedly no light task to meet the king's expectations without
infringing the rights of the people and the duties of humanity; but
in struggling to effect these two contradictory objects Margaret had
accomplished neither. She had deeply injured the nation, while
comparatively she had done little service to the king. It is true that
she at last crushed the Protestant faction, but the accidental outbreak
of the Iconoclasts assisted her in this more than all her dexterity.
She certainly succeeded by her intrigues in dissolving the league of the
nobles, but not until the first blow had been struck at its roots by
internal dissensions. The object, to secure which she had for many
years vainly exhausted her whole policy, was effected at last by a single
enlistment of troops, for which, however, the orders were issued from
Madrid. She delivered to the duke, no doubt, a tranquillized country;
but it cannot be denied that the dread of his approach had the chief
share in tranquillizing it. By her reports she led the council in Spain
astray; because she never informed it of the disease, but only of the
occasional symptoms; never of the universal feeling and voice of the
nation, but only of the misconduct of factions. Her faulty
administration, moreover, drew the people into the crime, because
she exasperated without sufficiently awing them. She it was that
brought the murderous Alva into the country by leading the king to
believe that the disturbances in the provinces were to be ascribed, not
so much to the severity of the royal ordinances, as to the unworthiness
of those who were charged with their execution. Margaret possessed
natural capacity and intellect; and an acquired political tact enabled
her to meet any ordinary case; but she wanted that creative genius
which, for new and extraordinary emergencies, invents new maxims, or
wisely oversteps old ones. In a country where honesty was the best
policy, she adopted the unfortunate plan of practising her insidious
Italian policy, and thereby sowed the seeds of a fatal distrust in the
minds of the people. The indulgence which has been so liberally imputed
to her as a merit was, in truth, extorted from her weakness and timidity
by the courageous opposition of the nation; she had never departed from
the strict letter of the royal commands by her own spontaneous
resolution; never did the gentle feelings of innate humanity lead her
to misinterpret the cruel purport of her instructions. Even the few
concessions to which necessity compelled her were granted with an
uncertain and shrinking hand, as if fearing to give too much; and she
lost the fruit of her benefactions because she mutilated them by a
sordid closeness. What in all the other relations of her life she was
too little, she was on the throne too much--a woman! She had it in her
power, after Granvella's expulsion, to become the benefactress of the
Belgian nation, but she did not. Her supreme good was the approbation
of her king, her greatest misfortune his displeasure; with all the
eminent qualities of her mind she remained an ordinary character because
her heart was destitute of native nobility. She used a melancholy power
with much moderation, and stained her government with no deed of
arbitrary cruelty; nay, if it had depended on her, she would have always
acted humanely. Years afterwards, when her idol, Philip II., had long
forgotten her, the Netherlanders still honored her memory; but she was
far from deserving the glory which her successor's inhumanity reflected
upon her.

She left Brussels about the end of December, 1567. The duke escorted
her as far as the frontiers of Brabant, and there left her under the
protection of Count Mansfeld in order to hasten back to the metropolis
and show himself to the Netherlanders as sole regent.



       TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF COUNTS EGMONT AND HORN.

The two counts were a few weeks after their arrest conveyed to Ghent
under an escort of three thousand Spaniards, where they were confined in
the citadel for more than eight months. Their trial commenced in due
form before the council of twelve, and the solicitor-general, John Du
Bois, conducted the proceedings. The indictment against Egmont
consisted of ninety counts, and that against Horn of sixty. It would
occupy too much space to introduce them here. Every action, however
innocent, every omission of duty, was interpreted on the principle which
had been laid down in the opening of the indictment, "that the two
counts, in conjunction with the Prince of Orange, had planned the
overthrow of the royal authority in the Netherlands, and the usurpation
of the government of the country;" the expulsion of Granvella; the
embassy of Egmont to Madrid; the confederacy of the Gueux; the
concessions which they made to the Protestants in the provinces under
their government--all were made to have a connection with, and reference
to, this deliberate design. Thus importance was attached to the most
insignificant occurrences, and one action made to darken and discolor
another. By taking care to treat each of the charges as in itself a
treasonable offence it was the more easy to justify a sentence of high
treason by the whole.

The accusations were sent to each of the prisoners, who were required to
reply to them within five days. After doing so they were allowed to
employ solicitors and advocates, who were permitted free access to them;
but as they were accused of treason their friends were prohibited from
visiting them. Count Egmont employed for his solicitor Von Landas, and
made choice of a few eminent advocates from Brussels.

The first step was to demur against the tribunal which was to try them,
since by the privilege of their order they, as Knights of the Golden
Fleece, were amenable only to the king himself, the grand master. But
this demurrer was overruled, and they were required to produce their
witnesses, in default of which they were to be proceeded against _in
contumaciam._ Egmont had satisfactorily answered to eighty-two counts,
while Count Horn had refuted the charges against him, article by
article. The accusation and the defence are still extant; on that
defence every impartial tribunal would have acquitted them both. The
Procurator Fiscal pressed for the production of their evidence, and the
Duke of Alva issued his repeated commands to use despatch. They
delayed, however, from week to week, while they renewed their protests
against the illegality of the court. At last the duke assigned them
nine days to produce their proofs; on the lapse of that period they were
to be declared guilty, and as having forfeited all right of defence.

During the progress of the trial the relations and friends of the two
counts were not idle. Egmont's wife, by birth a duchess of Bavaria,
addressed petitions to the princes of the German empire, to the Emperor,
and to the King of Spain. The Countess Horn, mother of the imprisoned
count, who was connected by the ties of friendship or of blood with the
principal royal families of Germany, did the same. All alike protested
loudly against this illegal proceeding, and appealed to the liberty of
the German empire, on which Horn, as a count of the empire, had special
claims; the liberty of the Netherlands and the privileges of the Order
of the Golden Fleece were likewise insisted upon. The Countess Egmont
succeeded in obtaining the intercession of almost every German court in
behalf of her husband. The King of Spain and his viceroy were besieged
by applications in behalf of the accused, which were referred from one
to the other, and made light of by both. Countess Horn collected
certificates from all the Knights of the Golden Fleece in Spain,
Germany, and Italy to prove the privileges of the order. Alva rejected
them with a declaration that they had no force in such a case as the
present. "The crimes of which the counts are accused relate to the
affairs of the Belgian provinces, and he, the duke, was appointed by the
king sole judge of all matters connected with those countries."

Four months had been allowed to the solicitor-general to draw up the
indictment, and five were granted to the two counts to prepare for their
defence. But instead of losing their time and trouble in adducing their
evidence, which, perhaps, would have profited then but little, they
preferred wasting it in protests against the judges, which availed them
still less. By the former course they would probably have delayed the
final sentence, and in the time thus gained the powerful intercession of
their friends might perhaps have not been ineffectual. By obstinately
persisting in denying the competency of the tribunal which was to try
them, they furnished the duke with an excuse for cutting short the
proceedings. After the last assigned period had expired, on the 1st of
June, 1658, the council of twelve declared them guilty, and on the 4th
of that month sentence of death was pronounced against them.

The execution of twenty-five noble Netherlanders, who were beheaded in
three successive days in the marketplace at Brussels, was the terrible
prelude to the fate of the two counts. John Casembrot von Beckerzeel,
secretary to Count Egmont, was one of the unfortunates, who was thus
rewarded for his fidelity to his master, which he steadfastly maintained
even upon the rack, and for his zeal in the service of the king, which
he had manifested against the Iconoclasts. The others had either been
taken prisoners, with arms in their hands, in the insurrection of the
"Gueux," or apprehended and condemned as traitors on account of having
taken a part in the petition of the nobles.

The duke had reason to hasten the execution of the sentence. Count
Louis of Nassau had given battle to the Count of Aremberg, near the
monastery of Heiligerlee, in Groningen, and had the good fortune to
defeat him. Immediately after his victory he had advanced against
Groningen, and laid siege to it. The success of his arms had raised the
courage of his faction; and the Prince of Orange, his brother, was close
at hand with an army to support him. These circumstances made the
duke's presence necessary in those distant provinces; but he could not
venture to leave Brussels before the fate of two such important
prisoners was decided. The whole nation loved them, which was not a
little increased by their unhappy fate. Even the strict papists
disapproved of the execution of these eminent nobles. The slightest
advantage which the arms of the rebels might gain over the duke, or even
the report of a defeat, would cause a revolution in Brussels, which
would immediately set the two counts at liberty. Moreover, the
petitions and intercessions which came to the viceroy, as well as to
the King of Spain, from the German princes, increased daily; nay, the
Emperor, Maximilian II., himself caused the countess to be assured "that
she had nothing to fear for the life of her spouse." These powerful
applications might at last turn the king's heart in favor of the
prisoners. The king might, perhaps, in reliance on his viceroy's usual
dispatch, put on the appearance of yielding to the representations of so
many sovereigns, and rescind the sentence of death under the conviction
that his mercy would come too late. These considerations moved the duke
not to delay the execution of the sentence as soon as it was pronounced.

On the day after the sentence was passed the two counts were brought,
under an escort of three thousand Spaniards, from Ghent to Brussels, and
placed in confinement in the Brodhause, in the great market-place. The
next morning the council of twelve were assembled; the duke, contrary to
his custom, attended in person, and both the sentences, in sealed
envelopes, were opened and publicly read by Secretary Pranz. The two
counts were declared guilty of treason, as having favored and promoted
the abominable conspiracy of the Prince of Orange, protected the
confederated nobles, and been convicted of various misdemeanors against
their king and the church in their governments and other appointments.
Both were sentenced to be publicly beheaded, and their heads were to be
fixed upon pikes and not taken down without the duke's express command.
All their possessions, fiefs, and rights escheated to the royal
treasury. The sentence was signed only by the duke and the secretary,
Pranz, without asking or caring for the consent of the other members of
the council.

During the night between the 4th and 5th of June the sentences were
brought to the prisoners, after they had already gone to rest. The duke
gave them to the Bishop of Ypres, Martin Rithov, whom he had expressly
summoned to Brussels to prepare the prisoners for death. When the
bishop received this commission he threw himself at the feet of the
duke, and supplicated him with tears in his eyes for mercy, at least for
respite for the prisoners; but he was answered in a rough and angry
voice that he had been sent for from Ypres, not to oppose the sentence,
but by his spiritual consolation to reconcile the unhappy noblemen to
it.

Egmont was the first to whom the bishop communicated the sentence of
death. "That is indeed a severe sentence," exclaimed the count, turning
pale, and with a faltering voice. "I did not think that I had offended
his majesty so deeply as to deserve such treatment. If, however, it
must be so I submit to my fate with resignation. May this death atone
for my offence, and save my wife and children from suffering. This at
least I think I may claim for my past services. As for death, I will
meet it with composure, since it so pleases God and my king." He then
pressed the bishop to tell him seriously and candidly if there was no
hope of pardon. Being answered in the negative, he confessed and
received the sacrament from the priest, repeating after him the mass
with great devoutness. He asked what prayer was the best and most
effective to recommend him to God in his last hour. On being told that
no prayer could be more effectual than the one which Christ himself had
taught, he prepared immediately to repeat the Lord's prayer. The
thoughts of his family interrupted him; he called for pen and ink, and
wrote two letters, one to his wife, the other to the king. The latter
was as follows:

"Sire,--This morning I have heard the sentence which your majesty has
been pleased to pass upon me. Far as I have ever been from attempting
anything against the person or service of your majesty, or against the
true, old, and Catholic religion, I yet submit myself with patience to
the fate which it has pleased God to ordain should suffer. If, during
the past disturbances, I have omitted, advised, or done anything that
seems at variance with my duty, it was most assuredly performed with the
best intentions, or was forced upon me by the pressure of circumstances.
I therefore pray your majesty to forgive me, and, in consideration of my
past services, show mercy to my unhappy wife, my poor children, and
servants. In a firm hope of this, I commend myself--to the infinite
mercy of God.

"Your majesty's most faithful vassal and servant,

"LAMORAL COUNT EGMONT.

"BRUSSELS, June 5, 1568, near my last moments."


This letter he placed in the hands of the bishop, with the strongest
injunctions for its safe delivery; and for greater security he sent a
duplicate in his own handwriting to State Counsellor Viglius, the most
upright man in the senate, by whom, there is no doubt, it was actually
delivered to the king. The family of the count were subsequently
reinstated in all his property, fiefs, and rights, which, by virtue of
the sentence, had escheated to the royal treasury.

Meanwhile a scaffold had been erected in the marketplace, before the
town hall, on which two poles were fixed with iron spikes, and the whole
covered with black cloth. Two-and-twenty companies of the Spanish
garrison surrounded the scaffold, a precaution which was by no means
superfluous. Between ten and eleven o'clock the Spanish guard appeared
in the apartment of the count; they were provided with cords to tie his
hands according to custom. He begged that this might be spared him, and
declared that he was willing and ready to die. He himself cut off the
collar from his doublet to facilitate the executioner's duty. He wore a
robe of red damask, and over that a black Spanish cloak trimmed with
gold lace. In this dress he appeared on the scaffold, and was attended
by Don Julian Romero, maitre-de-camp; Salinas, a Spanish captain; and
the Bishop of Ypres. The grand provost of the court, with a red wand in
his hand, sat on horseback at the foot of the scaffold; the executioner
was concealed beneath.

Egmont had at first shown a desire to address the people from the
scaffold. He desisted, however, on the bishop's representing to him
that either he would not be heard, or that if he were, he might--such at
present was the dangerous disposition of the people--excite them to acts
of violence, which would only plunge his friends into destruction. For
a few moments he paced the scaffold with noble dignity, and lamented
that it had not been permitted him to die a more honorable death for his
king and his country. Up to the last he seemed unable to persuade
himself that the king was in earnest, and that his severity would be
carried any further than the mere terror of execution. When the
decisive period approached, and he was to receive the extreme unction,
he looked wistfully round, and when there still appeared no prospect of
a reprieve, he turned to Julian Romero, and asked him once more if there
was no hope of pardon for him. Julian Romero shrugged his shoulders,
looked on the ground, and was silent.

He then closely clenched his teeth, threw off his mantle and robe, knelt
upon the cushion, and prepared himself for the last prayer. The bishop
presented him the crucifix to kiss, and administered to him extreme
unction, upon which the count made him a sign to leave him. He drew a
silk cap over his eyes, and awaited the stroke. Over the corpse and the
streaming blood a black cloth was immediately thrown.

All Brussels thronged around the scaffold, and the fatal blow seemed to
fall on every heart. Loud sobs alone broke the appalling silence. The
duke himself, who watched the execution from a window of the townhouse,
wiped his eyes as his victim died.

Shortly afterwards Count Horn advanced on the scaffold. Of a more
violent temperament than his friend, and stimulated by stronger reasons
for hatred against the king, he had received the sentence with less
composure, although in his case, perhaps, it was less unjust. He burst
forth in bitter reproaches against the king, and the bishop with
difficulty prevailed upon him to make a better use of his last moments
than to abuse them in imprecations on his enemies. At last, however, he
became more collected, and made his confession to the bishop, which at
first he was disposed to refuse.

He mounted the scaffold with the same attendants as his friend. In
passing he saluted many of his acquaintances; his hands were, like
Egmont's, free, and he was dressed in a black doublet and cloak, with a
Milan cap of the same color upon his head. When he had ascended, he
cast his eyes upon the corpse, which lay under the cloth, and asked one
of the bystanders if it was the body of his friend. On being answered
in the affirmative, he said some words in Spanish, threw his cloak from
him, and knelt upon the cushion. All shrieked aloud as he received the
fatal blow.

The heads of both were fixed upon the poles which were set up on the
scaffold, where they remained until past three in the afternoon, when
they were taken down, and, with the two bodies, placed in leaden coffins
and deposited in a vault.

In spite of the number of spies and executioners who surrounded the
scaffold, the citizens of Brussels would not be prevented from dipping
their handkerchiefs in the streaming blood, and carrying home with them
these precious memorials.



  SIEGE OF ANTWERP BY THE PRINCE OF PARMA, IN THE YEARS 1584 AND 1585.

It is an interesting spectacle to observe the struggle of man's
inventive genius in conflict with powerful opposing elements, and to
see the difficulties which are insurmountable to ordinary capacities
overcome by prudence, resolution, and a determined will. Less
attractive, but only the more instructive, perhaps, is the contrary
spectacle, where the absence of those qualities renders all efforts of
genius vain, throws away all the favors of fortune, and where inability
to improve such advantages renders hopeless a success which otherwise
seemed sure and inevitable. Examples of both kinds are afforded by the
celebrated siege of Antwerp by the Spaniards towards the close of the
sixteenth century, by which that flourishing city was forever deprived
of its commercial prosperity, but which, on the other hand, conferred
immortal fame on the general who undertook and accomplished it.

Twelve years had the war continued which the northern provinces of
Belgium had commenced at first in vindication simply of their religious
freedom, and the privileges of their states, from the encroachments of
the Spanish viceroy, but maintained latterly in the hope of establishing
their independence of the Spanish crown. Never completely victors, but
never entirely vanquished, they wearied out the Spanish valor by tedious
operations on an unfavorable soil, and exhausted the wealth of the
sovereign of both the Indies while they themselves were called beggars,
and in a degree actually were so. The league of Ghent, which had united
the whole Netherlands, Roman Catholic and Protestant, in a common and
(could such a confederation have lasted) invincible body, was indeed
dissolved; but in place of this uncertain and unnatural combination the
northern provinces had, in the year 1579, formed among themselves the
closer union of Utrecht, which promised to be more lasting, inasmuch as
it was linked and held together by common political and religious
interests. What the new republic had lost in extent through this
separation from the Roman Catholic provinces it was fully compensated
for by the closeness of alliance, the unity of enterprise, and energy of
execution; and perhaps it was fortunate in thus timely losing what no
exertion probably would ever have enabled it to retain.

The greater part of the Walloon provinces had, in the year 1584, partly
by voluntary submission and partly by force of arms, been again reduced
under the Spanish yoke. The northern districts alone had been able at
all successfully to oppose it. A considerable portion of Brabant and
Flanders still obstinately held out against the arms of the Duke
Alexander of Parma, who at that time administered the civil government
of the provinces, and the supreme command of the army, with equal energy
and prudence, and by a series of splendid victories had revived the
military reputation of Spain. The peculiar formation of the country,
which by its numerous rivers and canals facilitated the connection of
the towns with one another and with the sea, baffled all attempts
effectually to subdue it, and the possession of one place could only be
maintained by the occupation of another. So long as this communication
was kept up Holland and Zealand could with little difficulty assist
their allies, and supply them abundantly by water as well as by land
with all necessaries, so that valor was of no use, and the strength of
the king's troops was fruitlessly wasted on tedious sieges.

Of all the towns in Brabant Antwerp was the most important, as well
from, its wealth, its population, and its military force, as by its
position on the mouth of the Scheldt. This great and populous town,
which at this date contained more than eighty thousand inhabitants, was
one of the most active members of the national league, and had in the
course of the war distinguished itself above all the towns of Belgium by
an untamable spirit of liberty. As it fostered within its bosom all the
three Christian churches, and owed much of its prosperity to this
unrestricted religious liberty, it had the more cause to dread the
Spanish rule, which threatened to abolish this toleration, and by the
terror of the Inquisition to drive all the Protestant merchants from its
markets. Moreover it had had but too terrible experience of the
brutality of the Spanish garrisons, and it was quite evident that if it
once more suffered this insupportable yoke to be imposed upon it it
would never again during the whole course of the war be able to throw it
off.

But powerful as were the motives which stimulated Antwerp to resistance,
equally strong were the reasons which determined the Spanish general to
make himself master of the place at any cost. On the possession of this
town depended in a great measure that of the whole province of Brabant,
which by this channel chiefly derived its supplies of corn from Zealand,
while the capture of this place would secure to the victor the command
of the Scheldt. It would also deprive the league of Brabant, which held
its meetings in the town, of its principal support; the whole faction of
its dangerous influence, of its example, its counsels, and its money,
while the treasures of its inhabitants would open plentiful supplies for
the military exigencies of the king. Its fall would sooner or later
necessarily draw after it that of all Brabant, and the preponderance of
power in that quarter would decide the whole dispute in favor of the
king. Determined by these grave considerations, the Duke of Parma drew
his forces together in July, 1584, and advanced from his position at
Dornick to the neighborhood of Antwerp, with the intention of investing
it.

But both the natural position and fortifications of the town appeared to
defy attacks. Surrounded on the side of Brabant with insurmountable
works and moats, and towards Flanders covered by the broad and rapid
stream of the Scheldt, it could not be carried by storm; and to blockade
a town of such extent seemed to require a land force three times larger
than that which the duke had, and moreover a fleet, of which he was
utterly destitute. Not only did the river yield the town all necessary
supplies from Ghent, it also opened an easy communication with the
bordering province of Zealand. For, as the tide of the North Sea
extends far up the Scheldt, and ebbs and flows regularly, Antwerp enjoys
the peculiar advantage that the same tide flows past it at different
times in two opposite directions. Besides, the adjacent towns of
Brussels, Malines, Ghent, Dendermonde, and others, were all at this time
in the hands of the league, and could aid the place from the land side
also. To blockade, therefore, the town by land, and to cut off its
communication with Flanders and Brabant, required two different armies,
one on each bank of the river. A sufficient fleet was likewise needed
to guard the passage of the Scheldt, and to prevent all attempts at
relief, which would most certainly be made from Zealand. But by the war
which he had still to carry on in other quarters, and by the numerous
garrisons which he was obliged to leave in the towns and fortified
places, the army of the duke was reduced to ten thousand infantry and
seventeen hundred horse, a force very inadequate for an undertaking of
such magnitude. Moreover, these troops were deficient in the most
necessary supplies, and the long arrears of pay had excited them to
subdued murmurs, which hourly threatened to break out into open mutiny.
If, notwithstanding these difficulties, he should still attempt the
siege, there would be much occasion to fear from the strongholds of the
enemy, which were left in the rear, and from which it would be easy, by
vigorous sallies, to annoy an army distributed over so many places, and
to expose it to want by cutting off its supplies.

All these considerations were brought forward by the council of war,
before which the Duke of Parrna now laid his scheme. However great the
confidence which they placed in themselves, and in the proved abilities
of such a leader, nevertheless the most experienced generals did not
disguise their despair of a fortunate result. Two only were exceptions,
Capizucchi and Mondragone, whose ardent courage placed them above all
apprehensions; the rest concurred in dissuading the duke from attempting
so hazardous an enterprise, by which they ran the risk of forfeiting the
fruit of all their former victories and tarnishing the glory they had
already earned.

But objections, which he had already made to himself and refuted, could
not shake the Duke of Parma in his purpose. Not in ignorance of its
inseparable dangers, not from thoughtless overvaluing his forces had he
taken this bold resolve. But that instinctive genius which leads great
men by paths which inferior minds either never enter upon or never
finish, raised him above the influence of the doubts which a cold and
narrow prudence would oppose to his views; and, without being able to
convince his generals, he felt the correctness of his calculations in a
conviction indistinct, indeed, but not on that account less indubitable.
A succession of fortunate results had raised his confidence, and the
sight of his army, unequalled in Europe for discipline, experience, and
valor, and commanded by a chosen body of the most distinguished
officers, did not permit him to entertain fear for a moment. To those
who objected to the small number of his troops, he answered, that
however long the pike, it is only the point that kills; and that in
military enterprise, the moving power was of more importance than the
mass to be moved. He was aware, indeed, of the discontent of his
troops, but he knew also their obedience; and he thought, moreover, that
the best means to stifle their murmurs was by keeping them employed in
some important undertaking, by stimulating their desire of glory by the
splendor of the enterprise, and their rapacity by hopes of the rich
booty which the capture of so wealthy a town would hold out.

In the plan which he now formed for the conduct of the siege he
endeavored to meet all these difficulties. Famine was the only
instrument by which he could hope to subdue the town; but effectually to
use this formidable weapon, it would be expedient to cut off all its
land and water communications. With this view, the first object was to
stop, or at least to impede, the arrival of supplies from Zealand. It
was, therefore, requisite not only to carry all the outworks, which the
people of Antwerp had built on both shores of the Scheldt for the
protection of their shipping; but also, wherever feasible, to throw up
new batteries which should command the whole course of the river; and to
prevent the place from drawing supplies from the land side, while
efforts were being made to intercept their transmission by sea, all the
adjacent towns of Brabant and Flanders were comprehended in the plan of
the siege, and the fall of Antwerp was based on the destruction of all
those places. A bold and, considering the duke's scanty force, an
almost extravagant project, which was, however, justified by the genius
of its author, and crowned by fortune with a brilliant result.

As, however, time was required to accomplish a plan of this magnitude,
the Prince of Parma was content, for the present, with the erection of
numerous forts on the canals and rivers which connected Antwerp with
Dendermonde, Ghent, Malines, Brussels, and other places. Spanish
garrisons were quartered in the vicinity, and almost at the very gates
of those towns, which laid waste the open country, and by their
incursions kept the surrounding territory in alarm. Thus, round Ghent
alone were encamped about three thousand men, and proportionate numbers
round the other towns. In this way, and by means of the secret
understanding which he maintained with the Roman Catholic inhabitants of
those towns, the duke hoped, without weakening his own forces, gradually
to exhaust their strength, and by the harassing operations of a petty
but incessant warfare, even without any formal siege, to reduce them at
last to capitulate.

In the meantime the main force was directed against Antwerp, which he
now closely invested. He fixed his headquarters at Bevern in Flanders,
a few miles from Antwerp, where he found a fortified camp. The
protection of the Flemish bank of the Scheldt was entrusted to the
Margrave of Rysburg, general of cavalry; the Brabant bank to the Count
Peter Ernest Von Mansfeld, who was joined by another Spanish leader,
Mondragone. Both the latter succeeded in crossing the Scheldt upon
pontoons, notwithstanding the Flemish admiral's ship was sent to oppose
them, and, passing Antwerp, took up their position at Stabroek in
Bergen. Detached corps dispersed themselves along the whole Brabant
side, partly to secure the dykes and the roads.

Some miles below Antwerp the Scheldt was guarded by two strong forts, of
which one was situated at Liefkenshoek on the island Doel, in Flanders,
the other at Lillo, exactly opposite the coast of Brabant. The last had
been erected by Mondragone himself, by order of the Duke of Alvaa, when
the latter was still master of Antwerp, and for this very reason the
Duke of Parma now entrusted to him the attack upon it. On the
possession of these two forts the success of the siege seemed wholly to
depend, since all the vessels sailing from Zealand to Antwerp must pass
under their guns. Both forts had a short time before been strengthened
by the besieged, and the former was scarcely finished when the Margrave
of Rysburg attacked it. The celerity with which he went to work
surprised the enemy before they were sufficiently prepared for defence,
and a brisk assault quickly placed Liefkenshoek in the hands of the
Spaniards. The confederates sustained this loss on the same fatal day
that the Prince of Orange fell at Delft by the hands of an assassin.
The other batteries, erected on the island of Doel, were partly
abandoned by their defenders, partly taken by surprise, so that in a
short time the whole Flemish side was cleared of the enemy. But the
fort at Lillo, on the Brabant shore, offered a more vigorous resistance,
since the people of Antwerp had had time to strengthen its
fortifications and to provide it with a strong garrison. Furious
sallies of the besieged, led by Odets von Teligny, supported by the
cannon of the fort, destroyed all the works of the Spaniards, and an
inundation, which was effected by opening the sluices, finally drove
them away from the place after a three weeks' siege, and with the loss
of nearly two thousand killed. They now retired into their fortified
camp at Stabroek, and contented themselves with taking possession of the
dams which run across the lowlands of Bergen, and oppose a breastwork to
the encroachments of the East Scheldt.

The failure of his attempt upon the fort of Lillo compelled the Prince
of Parma to change his measures. As he could not succeed in stopping
the passage of the Scheldt by his original plan, on which the success of
the siege entirely depended, he determined to effect his purpose by
throwing a bridge across the whole breadth of the river. The thought
was bold, and there were many who held it to be rash. Both the breadth
of the stream, which at this part exceeds twelve hundred paces, as well
as its violence, which is still further augmented by the tides of the
neighboring sea, appeared to render every attempt of this kind
impracticable. Moreover, he had to contend with a deficiency of timber,
vessels, and workmen, as well as with the dangerous position between the
fleets of Antwerp and of Zealand, to which it would necessarily be an
easy task, in combination with a boisterous element, to interrupt so
tedious a work. But the Prince of Parma knew his power, and his settled
resolution would yield to nothing short of absolute impossibility.
After he had caused the breadth as well as the depth of the river to be
measured, and had consulted with two of his most skilful engineers,
Barocci and Plato, it was settled that the bridge should be constructed
between Calloo in Flanders and Ordain in Brabant. This spot was
selected because the river is here narrowest, and bends a little to the
right, and so detains vessels a while by compelling them to tack. To
cover the bridge strong bastions were erected at both ends, of which the
one on the Flanders side was named Fort St. Maria, the other, on the
Brabant side, Fort St. Philip, in honor of the king.

While active preparations were making in the Spanish camp for the
execution of this scheme, and the whole attention of the enemy was
directed to it, the duke made an unexpected attack upon Dendermonde, a
strong town between Ghent and Antwerp, at the confluence of the Dender
and the Scheldt. As long as this important place was in the hands of
the enemy the towns of Ghent and Antwerp could mutually support each
other, and by the facility of their communication frustrate all the
efforts of the besiegers. Its capture would leave the prince free to
act against both towns, and might decide the fate of his undertaking.
The rapidity of his attack left the besieged no time to open their
sluices and lay the country under water. A hot cannonade was opened
upon the chief bastion of the town before the Brussels gate, but was
answered by the fire of the besieged, which made great havoc amongst the
Spaniards. It increased, however, rather than discouraged their ardor,
and the insults of the garrison, who mutilated the statue of a saint
before their eyes, and after treating it with the most contumelious
indignity, hurled it down from the rampart, raised their fury to the
highest pitch. Clamorously they demanded to be led against the bastion
before their fire had made a sufficient breach in it, and the prince, to
avail himself of the first ardor of their impetuosity, gave the signal
for the assault. After a sanguinary contest of two hours the rampart
was mounted, and those who were not sacrificed to the first fury of the
Spaniards threw themselves into the town. The latter was indeed now
more exposed, a fire being directed upon it from the works which had
been carried; but its strong walls and the broad moat which surrounded
it gave reason to expect a protracted resistance. The inventive
resources of the Prince of Parma soon overcame this obstacle also.
While the bombardment was carried on night and day, the troops were
incessantly employed in diverting the course of the Dender, which
supplied the fosse with water, and the besieged were seized with despair
as they saw the water of the trenches, the last defence of the town,
gradually disappear. They hastened to capitulate, and in August, 1584,
received a Spanish garrison. Thus, in the space of eleven days, the
Prince of Parrna accomplished an undertaking which, in the opinion of
competent judges, would require as many weeks.

The town of Ghent, now cut off from Antwerp and the sea, and hard
pressed by the troops of the king, which were encamped in its vicinity,
and without hope of immediate succor, began to despair, as famine, with
all its dreadful train, advanced upon them with rapid steps. The
inhabitants therefore despatched deputies to the Spanish camp at Bevern,
to tender its submission to the king upon the same terms as the prince
had a short time previously offered. The deputies were informed that
the time for treaties was past, and that an unconditional submission
alone could appease the just anger of the monarch whom they had offended
by their rebellion. Nay, they were even given to understand that it
would be only through his great mercy if the same humiliation were not
exacted from them as their rebellious ancestors were forced to undergo
under Charles V., namely, to implore pardon half-naked, and with a cord
round their necks. The deputies returned to Ghent in despair, but three
days afterwards a new deputation was sent to the Spanish camp, which at
last, by the intercession of one of the prince's friends, who was a
prisoner in Ghent, obtained peace upon moderate terms. The town was to
pay a fine of two hundred thousand florins, recall the banished papists,
and expel the Protestant inhabitants, who, however, were to be allowed
two years for the settlement of their affairs. All the inhabitants
except six, who were reserved for capital punishment (but afterwards
pardoned), were included in a general amnesty, and the garrison, which
amounted to two thousand men, was allowed to evacuate the place with the
honors of war. This treaty was concluded in September of the same year,
at the headquarters at Bevern, and immediately three thousand Spaniards
marched into the town as a garrison.

It was more by the terror of his name and the dread of famine than by
the force of arms that the Prince of Parma had succeeded in reducing
this city to submission, the largest and strongest in the Netherlands,
which was little inferior to Paris within the barriers of its inner
town, consisted of thirty-seven thousand houses, and was built on twenty
islands, connected by ninety-eight stone bridges. The important
privileges which in the course of several centuries this city had
contrived to extort from its rulers fostered in its inhabitants a spirit
of independence, which not unfrequently degenerated into riot and
license, and naturally brought it in collision with the Austrian-Spanish
government. And it was exactly this bold spirit of liberty which
procured for the Reformation the rapid and extensive success it met with
in this town, and the combined incentives of civil and religious freedom
produced all those scenes of violence by which, during the rebellion, it
had unfortunately distinguished itself. Besides the fine levied, the
prince found within the walls a large store of artillery, carriages,
ships, and building materials of all kinds, with numerous workmen and
sailors, who materially aided him in his plans against Antwerp.

Before Ghent surrendered to the king Vilvorden and Herentals had fallen
into the hands of the Spaniards, and the capture of the block-houses
near the village of Willebrock had cut off Antwerp from Brussels and
Malines. The loss of these places within so short a period deprived
Antwerp of all hope of succor from Brabant and Flanders, and limited all
their expectations to the assistance which might be looked for from
Zealand. But to deprive them also of this the Prince of Parma was now
making the most energetic preparations.

The citizens of Antwerp had beheld the first operations of the enemy
against their town with the proud security with which the sight of their
invincible river inspired them. This confidence was also in a degree
justified by the opinion of the Prince of Orange, who, upon the first
intelligence of the design, had said that the Spanish army would
inevitably perish before the walls of Antwerp. That nothing, however,
might be neglected, he sent, a short time before his assassination, for
the burgomaster of Antwerp, Philip Marnix of St. Aldegonde, his intimate
friend, to Delft, where he consulted with him as to the means of
maintaining defensive operations. It was agreed between then that it
would be advisable to demolish forthwith the great dam between Sanvliet
and Lillo called the Blaaugarendyk, so as to allow the waters of the
East Scheldt to inundate, if necessary, the lowlands of Bergen, and
thus, in the event of the Scheldt being closed, to open a passage for
the Zealand vessels to the town across the inundated country. Aldegonde
had, after his return, actually persuaded the magistrate and the
majority of the citizens to agree to this proposal, when it was resisted
by the guild of butchers, who claimed that they would be ruined by such
a measure; for the plain which it was wished to lay under water was a
vast tract of pasture land, upon which about twelve thousand oxen--were
annually put to graze. The objection of the butchers was successful,
and they managed to prevent the execution of this salutary scheme until
the enemy had got possession of the dams as well as the pasture land.

At the suggestion of the burgomaster St. Aldegonde, who, himself a
member of the states of Brabant, was possessed of great authority in
that council, the fortifications on both sides the Scheldt had, a short
time before the arrival of the Spaniards, been placed in repair, and
many new redoubts erected round the town. The dams had been cut through
at Saftingen, and the water of the West Scheldt let out over nearly the
whole country of Waes. In the adjacent Marquisate of Bergen troops had
been enlisted by the Count of Hohenlohe, and a Scotch regiment, under
the command of Colonel Morgan, was already in the pay of the republic,
while fresh reinforcements were daily expected from England and France.
Above all, the states of Holland and Zealand were called upon to hasten
their supplies. But after the enemy had taken strong positions on both
sides of the river, and the fire of their batteries made the navigation
dangerous, when place after place in Brabant fell into their hands, and
their cavalry had cut off all communication on the land side, the
inhabitants of Antwerp began at last to entertain serious apprehensions
for the future. The town then contained eighty-five thousand souls, and
according to calculation three hundred thousand quarters of corn were
annually required for their support. At the beginning of the siege
neither the supply nor the money was wanting for the laying in of such a
store; for in spite of the enemy's fire the Zealand victualling ships,
taking advantage of the rising tide, contrived to make their way to the
town. All that was requisite was to prevent any of the richer citizens
from buying up these supplies, and, in case of scarcity, raising the
price. To secure his object, one Gianibelli from Mantua, who had
rendered important services in the course of the siege, proposed a
property tax of one penny in every hundred, and the appointment of a
board of respectable persons to purchase corn with this money, and
distribute it weekly. And until the returns of this tax should be
available the richer classes should advance the required sum, holding
the corn purchased, as a deposit, in their own magazines; and were also
to share in the profit. But this plan was unwelcome to the wealthier
citizens, who had resolved to profit by the general distress. They
recommended that every individual should be required to provide himself
with a sufficient supply for two years; a proposition which, however it
might suit their own circumstances, was very unreasonable in regard to
the poorer inhabitants, who, even before the siege, could scarcely find
means to supply themselves for so many months. They obtained indeed
their object, which was to reduce the poor to the necessity of either
quitting the place or becoming entirely their dependents. But when they
afterwards reflected that in the time of need the rights of property
would not be respected, they found it advisable not to be over-hasty in
making their own purchases.

The magistrate, in order to avert an evil that would have pressed upon
individuals only, had recourse to an expedient which endangered the
safety of all. Some enterprising persons in Zealand had freighted a
large fleet with provisions, which succeeded in passing the guns of the
enemy, and discharged its cargo at Antwerp. The hope of a large profit
had tempted the merchants to enter upon this hazardous speculation; in
this, however, they were disappointed, as the magistrate of Antwerp had,
just before their arrival, issued an edict regulating the price of all
the necessaries of life. At the same time to prevent individuals from
buying up the whole cargo and storing it in their magazines with a view
of disposing of it afterwards at a dearer rate, he ordered that the
whole should be publicly sold in any quantities from the vessels. The
speculators, cheated of their hopes of profit by these precautions, set
sail again, and left Antwerp with the greater part of their cargo, which
would have sufficed for the support of the town for several months.

This neglect of the most essential and natural means of preservation can
only be explained by the supposition that the inhabitants considered it
absolutely impossible ever to close the Scheldt completely, and
consequently had not the least apprehension that things would come to
extremity. When the intelligence arrived in Antwerp that the prince
intended to throw a bridge over the Scheldt the idea was universally
ridiculed as chimerical. An arrogant comparison was drawn between the
republic and the stream, and it was said that the one would bear the
Spanish yoke as little as the other. "A river which is twenty-four
hundred feet broad, and, with its own waters alone, above sixty feet
deep, but which with the tide rose twelve feet more--would such a
stream," it was asked, "submit to be spanned by a miserable piece of
paling? Where were beams to be found high enough to reach to the bottom
and project above the surface? and how was a work of this kind to stand
in winter, when whole islands and mountains of ice, which stone walls
could hardly resist, would be driven by the flood against its weak
timbers, and splinter them to pieces like glass? Or, perhaps, the
prince purposed to construct a bridge of boats; if so, where would he
procure the latter, and how bring them into his intrenchments? They
must necessarily be brought past Antwerp, where a fleet was ready to
capture or sink them."

But while they were trying to prove the absurdity of the Prince of
Parma's undertaking he had already completed it. As soon as the forts
St. Maria and St. Philip were erected, and protected the workmen and the
work by their fire, a pier was built out into the stream from both
banks, for which purpose the masts of the largest vessels were employed;
by a skilful arrangement of the timbers they contrived to give the whole
such solidity that, as the result proved, it was able to resist the
violent pressure of the ice. These timbers, which rested firmly and
securely on the bottom of the river, and projected a considerable height
above it, being covered with planks, afforded a commodious roadway. It
was wide enough to allow eight men to cross abreast, and a balustrade
that ran along it on both sides, protected them from the fire of
small-arms from the enemy's vessels. This "stacade," as it was called,
ran from the two opposite shores as far as the increasing depth and force
of the stream allowed. It reduced the breadth of the river to about
eleven hundred feet; as, however, the middle and proper current would not
admit of such a barrier, there remained, therefore, between the two
stacades a space of more than six hundred paces through which a whole
fleet of transports could sail with ease. This intervening space the
prince designed to close by a bridge of boats, for which purpose the
craft must be procured from Dunkirk. But, besides that they could not be
obtained in any number at that place, it would be difficult to bring them
past Antwerp without great loss. He was, therefore, obliged to content
himself for the time with having narrowed the stream one-half, and
rendered the passage of the enemy's vessels so much the more difficult.
Where the stacades terminated in the middle of the stream they spread out
into parallelograms, which were mounted with heavy guns, and served as a
kind of battery on the water. From these a heavy fire was opened on every
vessel that attempted to pass through this narrow channel. Whole fleets,
however, and single vessels still attempted and succeeded in passing this
dangerous strait.

Meanwhile Ghent surrendered, and this unexpected success at once rescued
the prince from his dilemma. He found in this town everything necessary
to complete his bridge of boats; and the only difficulty now was its
safe transport, which was furnished by the enemy themselves. By cutting
the dams at Saftingen a great part of the country of Waes, as far as the
village of Borcht, had been laid under water, so that it was not
difficult to cross it with flat-bottomed boats. The prince, therefore,
ordered his vessels to run out from Ghent, and after passing Dendermonde
and Rupelmonde to pass through the left dyke of the Scheldt, leaving
Antwerp to the right, and sail over the inundated fields in the
direction of Borcht. To protect this passage a fort was erected at the
latter village, which would keep the enemy in check. All succeeded to
his wishes, though not without a sharp action with the enemy's flotilla,
which was sent out to intercept this convoy. After breaking through a
few more dams on their route, they reached the Spanish quarters at
Calloo, and successfully entered the Scheldt again. The exultation of
the army was greater when they discovered the extent of the danger the
vessels had so narrowly escaped. Scarcely had they got quit of the
enemy's vessels when a strong reinforcement from Antwerp got under
weigh, commanded by the valiant defender of Lillo, Odets von Teligny.
When this officer saw that the affair was over, and that the enemy had
escaped, he took possession of the dam through which their fleet had
passed, and threw up a fort on the spot in order to stop the passage of
any vessels from Ghent which might attempt to follow them.

By this step the prince was again thrown into embarrassment. He was far
from having as yet a sufficient number of vessels, either for the
construction of the bridge or for its defence, and the passage by which
the former convoy had arrived was now closed by the fort erected by
Teligny. While he was reconnoitring the country to discover a new way
for his, fleets an idea occurred to him which not only put an end to his
present dilemma, but greatly accelerated the success of his whole plan.
Not far from the village of Stecken, in Waes, which is within some five
thousand paces of the commencement of the inundation, flows a small
stream called the Moer, which falls into the Scheldt near Ghent. From
this river he caused a canal to be dug to the spot where the inundations
began, and as the water of these was not everywhere deep enough for the
transit of his boats, the canal between Bevern and Verrebroek was
continued to Calloo, where it was met by the Scheldt. At this work five
hundred pioneers labored without intermission, and in order to cheer the
toil of the soldiers the prince himself took part in it. In this way
did he imitate the example of the two celebrated Romans, Drusus and
Corbulo, who by similar works had united the Rhine with the Zuyder Zee,
and the Maes with the Rhine?

This canal, which the army in honor of its projector called the canal of
Parma, was fourteen thousand paces in length, and was of proportion able
depth and breadth, so as to be navigable for ships of a considerable
burden. It afforded to the vessels from Ghent not only a more secure,
but also a much shorter course to the Spanish quarters, because it was
no longer necessary to follow the many windings of the Scheldt, but
entering the Moer at once near Ghent, and from thence passing close to
Stecken, they could proceed through the canal and across the inundated
country as far as Calloo. As the produce of all Flanders was brought to
the town of Ghent, this canal placed the Spanish camp in communication
with the whole province. Abundance poured into the camp from all
quarters, so that during the whole course of the siege the Spaniards
suffered no scarcity of any kind. But the greatest benefit which the
prince derived from this work was an adequate supply of flat-bottomed
vessels to complete his bridge.

These preparations were overtaken by the arrival of winter, which, as
the Scheldt was filled with drift-ice, occasioned a considerable delay
in the building of the bridge. The prince had contemplated with anxiety
the approach of this season, lest it should prove highly destructive to
the work he had undertaken, and afford the enemy a favorable opportunity
for making a serious attack upon it. But the skill of his engineers
saved him from the one danger, and the strange inaction of the enemy
freed him from the other. It frequently happened, indeed, that at
flood-time large pieces of ice were entangled in the timbers, and shook
them violently, but they stood the assault of the furious element, which
only served to prove their stability.

In Antwerp, meanwhile, important moments had been wasted in futile
deliberations; and in a struggle of factions the general welfare was
neglected. The government of the town was divided among too many heads,
and much too great a share in it was held by the riotous mob to allow
room for calmness of deliberation or firmness of action. Besides the
municipal magistracy itself, in which the burgomaster had only a single
voice, there were in the city a number of guilds, to whom were consigned
the charge of the internal and external defence, the provisioning of the
town, its fortifications, the marine, commerce, etc.; some of whom must
be consulted in every business of importance. By means of this crowd of
speakers, who intruded at pleasure into the council, and managed to
carry by clamor and the number of their adherents what they could not
effect by their arguments, the people obtained a dangerous influence
in the public debates, and the natural struggle of such discordant
interests retarded the execution of every salutary measure.
A government so vacillating and impotent could not command the respect
of unruly sailors and a lawless soldiery. The orders of the state
consequently were but imperfectly obeyed, and the decisive moment was
more than once lost by the negligence, not to say the open mutiny, both
of the land and sea forces. The little harmony in the selection of the
means by which the enemy was to be opposed would not, however, have
proved so injurious had there but existed unanimity as to the end. But
on this very point the wealthy citizens and poorer classes were divided;
so the former, having everything to apprehend from allowing matters to
be carried to extremity, were strongly inclined to treat with the Prince
of Parma. This disposition they did not even attempt to conceal after
the fort of Liefkenshoek had fallen into the enemy's hands, and serious
fears were entertained for the navigation of the Scheldt. Some of them,
indeed, withdrew entirely from the danger, and left to its fate the
town, whose prosperity they had been ready enough to share, but in whose
adversity they were unwilling to bear a part. From sixty to seventy of
those who remained memorialized the council, advising that terms should
be made with the king. No sooner, however, had the populace got
intelligence of it than their indignation broke out in a violent uproar,
which was with difficulty appeased by the imprisonment and fining of the
petitioners. Tranquillity could only be fully restored by publication
of an edict, which imposed the penalty of death on all who either
publicly or privately should countenance proposals for peace.

The Prince of Parma did not fail to take advantage of these
disturbances; for nothing that transpired within the city escaped his
notice, being well served by the agents with whom he maintained a secret
understanding with Antwerp, as well as the other towns of Brabant and
Flanders. Although he had already made considerable progress in his
measures for distressing the town, still he had many steps to take
before he could actually make himself master of it; and one unlucky
moment might destroy the work of many months. Without, therefore,
neglecting any of his warlike preparations, he determined to make one
more serious attempt to get possession by fair means. With this object
he despatched a letter in November to the great council of Antwerp, in
which he skilfully made use of every topic likely to induce the citizens
to come to terms, or at least to increase their existing dissensions.
He treated them in this letter in the light of persons who had been led
astray, and threw the whole blame of their revolt and refractory conduct
hitherto upon the intriguing spirit of the Prince of Orange, from whose
artifices the retributive justice of heaven had so lately liberated
them. "It was," he said, "now in their power to awake from their long
infatuation and return to their allegiance to a monarch who was ready
and anxious to be reconciled to his subjects. For this end he gladly
offered himself as mediator, as he had never ceased to love a country in
which he had been born, and where he had spent the happiest days of his
youth. He therefore exhorted them to send plenipotentiaries with whom
he could arrange the conditions of peace, and gave them hopes of
obtaining reasonable terms if they made a timely submission, but also
threatened them with the severest treatment if they pushed matters to
extremity."

This letter, in which we are glad to recognize a language very different
from that which the Duke of Alva held ten years before on a similar
occasion, was answered by the townspeople in a respectful and dignified
tone. While they did full justice to the personal character of the
prince, and acknowledged his favorable intentions towards them with
gratitude, they lamented the hardness of the times, which placed it out
of his power to treat them in accordance with his character and
disposition. They declared that they would gladly place their fate in
his hands if he were absolute master of his actions, instead of being
obliged to obey the will of another, whose proceedings his own candor
would not allow him to approve of. The unalterable resolution of the
King of Spain, as well as the vow which he had made to the pope, were
only too well known for them to have any hopes in that quarter. They at
the same time defended with a noble warmth the memory of the Prince of
Orange, their benefactor and preserver, while they enumerated the true
cases which had produced this unhappy war, and had caused the provinces
to revolt from the Spanish crown. At the same time they did not
disguise from him that they had hopes of finding a new and a milder
master in the King of France, and that, if only for this reason, they
could not enter into any treaty with the Spanish king without incurring
the charge of the most culpable fickleness and ingratitude.

The united provinces, in fact, dispirited by a succession of reverses,
had at last come to the determination of placing themselves under the
protection and sovereignty of France, and of preserving their existence
and their ancient privileges by the sacrifice of their independence.
With this view an embassy had some time before been despatched to Paris,
and it was the prospect of this powerful assistance which principally
supported the courage of the people of Antwerp. Henry III., King of
France, was personally disposed to accept this offer; but the troubles
which the intrigues of the Spaniards contrived to excite within his own
kingdom compelled him against his will to abandon it. The provinces now
turned for assistance to Queen Elizabeth of England, who sent them some
supplies, which, however, came too late to save Antwerp. While the
people of this city were awaiting the issue of these negotiations, and
expecting aid from foreign powers, they neglected, unfortunately, the
most natural and immediate means of defence; the whole winter was lost,
and while the enemy turned it to greater advantage the more complete was
their indecision and inactivity.

The burgomaster of Antwerp, St. Aldegonde, had, indeed, repeatedly urged
the fleet of Zealand to attack the enemy's works, which should be
supported on the other side from Antwerp. The long and frequently
stormy nights would favor this attempt, and if at the same time a sally
were made by the garrison at Lillo, it seemed scarcely possible for
the enemy to resist this triple assault. But unfortunately
misunderstandings had arisen between the commander of the fleet, William
von Blois von Treslong, and the admiralty of Zealand, which caused the
equipment of the fleet to be most unaccountably delayed. In order to
quicken their movements Teligny at last resolved to go himself to
Middleburg, were the states of Zealand were assembled; but as the enemy
were in possession of all the roads the attempt cost him his freedom and
the republic its most valiant defender. However, there was no want of
enterprising vessels, which, under the favor of the night and the
floodtide, passing through the still open bridge in spite of the enemy's
fire, threw provisions into the town and returned with the ebb. But as
many of these vessels fell into the hands of the enemy the council gave
orders that they should never risk the passage unless they amounted to a
certain number; and the result, unfortunately, was that none attempted
it because the required number could not be collected at one time.
Several attacks were also made from Antwerp on the ships of the
Spaniards, which were not entirely unsuccessful; some of the latter were
captured, others sunk, and all that was required was to execute similar
attempts on a grand scale. But however zealously St. Aldegonde urged
this, still not a captain was to be found who would command a vessel for
that purpose.

Amid these delays the winter expired, and scarcely had the ice begun to
disappear when the construction of the bridge of boats was actively
resumed by the besiegers. Between the two piers a space of more than
six hundred paces still remained to be filled up, which was effected in
the following manner: Thirty-two flat-bottomed vessels, each sixty-six
feet long and twenty broad, were fastened together with strong cables
and iron chains, but at a distance from each other of about twenty feet
to allow a free passage to the stream. Each boat, moreover, was moored
with two cables, both up and down the stream, but which, as the water
rose with the tide, or sunk with the ebb, could be slackened or
tightened. Upon the boats great masts were laid which reached from one
to another, and, being covered with planks, formed a regular road,
which, like that along the piers, was protected with a balustrade. This
bridge of boats, of which the two piers formed a continuation, had,
including the latter, a length of twenty-four thousand paces. This
formidable work was so ingeniously constructed, and so richly furnished
with the instruments of destruction, that it seemed almost capable, like
a living creature, of defending itself at the word of command,
scattering death among all who approached. Besides the two forts of St.
Maria and St. Philip, which terminated the bridge on either shore, and
the two wooden bastions on the bridge itself, which were filled with
soldiers and mounted with guns on all sides, each of the two-and-thirty
vessels was manned with thirty soldiers and four sailors, and showed the
cannon's mouth to the enemy, whether he came up from Zealand or down
from Antwerp. There were in all ninety-seven cannon, which were
distributed beneath and above the bridge, and more than fifteen hundred
men who were posted, partly in the forts, partly in the vessels, and, in
case of necessity, could maintain a terrible fire of small-arms upon the
enemy.

But with all this the prince did not consider his work sufficiently
secure. It was to be expected that the enemy would leave nothing
unattempted to burst by the force of his machines the middle and weakest
part. To guard against this, he erected in a line with the bridge of
boats, but at some distance from it, another distinct defence, intended
to break the force of any attack that might be directed against the
bridge itself. This work consisted of thirty-three vessels of
considerable magnitude, which were moored in a row athwart the stream
and fastened in threes by masts, so that they formed eleven different
groups. Each of these, like a file of pikemen, presented fourteen long
wooden poles with iron heads to the approaching enemy. These vessels
were loaded merely with ballast, and were anchored each by a double but
slack cable, so as to be able to give to the rise and fall of the tide.
As they were in constant motion they got from the soldiers the name of
"swimmers." The whole bridge of boats and also a part of the piers were
covered by these swimmers, which were stationed above as well as below
the bridge. To all these defensive preparations was added a fleet of
forty men-of-war, which were stationed on both coasts and served as a
protection to the whole.

This astonishing work was finished in March, 1585, the seventh month of
the siege, and the day on which it was completed was kept as a jubilee
by the troops. The great event was announced to the besieged by a grand
_fete de joie_, and the army, as if to enjoy ocular demonstration of its
triumph, extended itself along the whole platform to gaze upon the proud
stream, peacefully and obediently flowing under the yoke which had been
imposed upon it. All the toil they had undergone was forgotten in the
delightful spectacle, and every man who had had a hand in it, however
insignificant he might be, assumed to himself a portion of the honor
which the successful execution of so gigantic an enterprise conferred on
its illustrious projector. On the other hand, nothing could equal the
consternation which seized the citizens of Antwerp when intelligence was
brought them that the Scheldt was now actually closed, and all access
from Zealand cut off. To increase their dismay they learned the fall of
Brussels also, which had at last been compelled by famine to capitulate.
An attempt made by the Count of Hohenlohe about the same time on
Herzogenbusch, with a view to recapture the town, or at least form a
diversion, was equally unsuccessful; and thus the unfortunate city lost
all hope of assistance, both by sea and land.

These evil tidings were brought them by some fugitives who had succeeded
in passing the Spanish videttes, and had made their way into the town;
and a spy, whom the burgomaster had sent out to reconnoitre the enemy's
works, increased the general alarm by his report. He had been seized
and carried before the Prince of Parma, who commanded him to be
conducted over all the works, and all the defences of the bridge to be
pointed out to him. After this had been done he was again brought
before the general, who dismissed him with these words: "Go," said he,
"and report what you have seen to those who sent you. And tell them,
too, that it is my firm resolve to bury myself under the ruins of this
bridge or by means of it to pass into your town."

But the certainty of danger now at last awakened the zeal of the
confederates, and it was no fault of theirs if the former half of the
prince's vow was not fulfilled. The latter had long viewed with
apprehension the preparations which were making in Zealand for the
relief of the town. He saw clearly that it was from this quarter that
he had to fear the most dangerous blow, and that with all his works he
could not make head against the combined fleets of Zealand and Antwerp
if they were to fall upon him at the same time and at the proper moment.
For a while the delays of the admiral of Zealand, which he had labored
by all the means in his power to prolong, had been his security, but now
the urgent necessity accelerated the expedition, and without waiting for
the admiral the states at Middleburg despatched the Count Justin of
Nassau, with as many ships as they could muster, to the assistance of
the besieged. This fleet took up a position before Liefkenshoek, which
was in possession of the Spaniards, and, supported by a few vessels from
the opposite fort of Lillo, cannonaded it with such success that the
walls were in a short time demolished, and the place carried by storm.
The Walloons who formed the garrison did not display the firmness which
might have been expected from soldiers of the Duke of Parma; they
shamefully surrendered the fort to the enemy, who in a short time were
in possession of the whole island of Doel, with all the redoubts
situated upon it. The loss of these places, which were, however, soon
retaken, incensed the Duke of Parma so much that he tried the officers
by court-martial, and caused the most culpable among them to be
beheaded. Meanwhile this important conquest opened to the Zealanders a
free passage as far as the bridge, and after concerting with the people
of Antwerp the time was fixed for a combined attack on this work. It
was arranged that, while the bridge of boats was blown up by machines
already prepared in Antwerp, the Zealand fleet, with a sufficient supply
of provisions, should be in the vicinity, ready to sail to the town
through the opening.

While the Duke of Parma was engaged in constructing his bridge an
engineer within the walls was already preparing the materials for its
destruction. Frederick Gianibelli was the name of the man whom fate had
destined to be the Archimedes of Antwerp, and to exhaust in its defence
the same ingenuity with the same want of success. He was born in
Mantua, and had formerly visited Madrid for the purpose, it was said,
of offering his services to King Philip in the Belgian war. But wearied
with waiting the offended engineer left the court with the intention of
making the King of Spain sensibly feel the value of talents which he had
so little known how to appreciate. He next sought the service of Queen
Elizabeth of England, the declared enemy of Spain, who, after witnessing
a few specimens of his skill, sent him to Antwerp. He took up his
residence in that town, and in the present extremity devoted to its
defence his knowledge, his energy, and his zeal.

As soon as this artist perceived that the project of erecting the bridge
was seriously intended, and that the work was fast approaching to
completion, he applied to the magistracy for three large vessels, from a
hundred and fifty to five hundred tons, in which he proposed to place
mines. He also demanded sixty boats, which, fastened together with
cables and chains, furnished with projecting grappling-irons, and put in
motion with the ebbing of the tide, were intended to second the
operation of the mine-ships by being directed in a wedgelike form
against the bridge. But he had to deal with men who were quite
incapable of comprehending an idea out of the common way, and even where
the salvation of their country was at stake could not forget the
calculating habits of trade.

His scheme was rejected as too expensive, and with difficulty he at last
obtained the grant of two smaller vessels, from seventy to eighty tons,
with a number of flat-bottomed boats. With these two vessels, one of
which he called the "Fortune" and the other the "Hope," he proceeded in
the following manner: In the hold of each he built a hollow chamber of
freestone, five feet broad, three and a half high, and forty long. This
magazine he filled with sixty hundredweight of the finest priming powder
of his own compounding, and covered it with as heavy a weight of large
slabs and millstones as the vessels could carry. Over these he further
added a roof of similar stones, which ran up to a point and projected
six feet above the ship's side. The deck itself was crammed with iron
chains and hooks, knives, nails, and other destructive missiles; the
remaining space, which was not occupied by the magazine, was likewise
filled up with planks. Several small apertures were left in the chamber
for the matches which were to set fire to the mine. For greater
certainty he had also contrived a piece of mechanism which, after the
lapse of a given time, would strike out sparks, and even if the matches
failed would set the ship on fire. To delude the enemy into a belief
that these machines were only intended to set the bridge on fire, a
composition of brimstone and pitch was placed in the top, which could
burn a whole hour. And still further to divert the enemy's attention
from the proper seat of danger, he also prepared thirty-two flatbottomed
boats, upon which there were only fireworks burning, and whose sole
object was to deceive the enemy. These fire-ships were to be sent down
upon the bridge in four separate squadrons, at intervals of half an
hour, and keep the enemy incessantly engaged for two whole hours, so
that, tired of firing and wearied by vain expectation, they might at
last relax their vigilance before the real fire-ships came. In addition
to all this he also despatched a few vessels in which powder was
concealed in order to blow up the floating work before the bridge, and
to clear a passage for the two principal ships. At the same time he
hoped by this preliminary attack to engage the enemy's attention, to
draw them out, and expose them to the full deadly effect of the volcano.

The night between the 4th and 5th of April was fixed for the execution
of this great undertaking. An obscure rumor of it had already diffused
itself through the Spanish camp, and particularly from the circumstance
of many divers from Antwerp having been detected endeavoring to cut the
cables of the vessels. They were prepared, therefore, for a serious
attack; they only mistook the real nature of it, and counted on having
to fight rather with man than the elements. In this expectation the
duke caused the guards along the whole bank to be doubled, and drew up
the chief part of his troops in the vicinity of the bridge, where he was
present in person; thus meeting the danger while endeavoring to avoid
it.

No sooner was it dark than three burning vessels were seen to float down
from the city towards the bridge, then three more, and directly after
the same number. They beat to arms throughout the Spanish camp, and the
whole length of the bridge was crowded with soldiers. Meantime the
number of the fire-ships increased, and they came in regular order down
the stream, sometimes two and sometimes three abreast, being at first
steered by sailors on board them. The admiral of the Antwerp fleet,
Jacob Jacobson (whether designedly or through carelessness is not
known), had committed the error of sending off the four squadrons of
fire-ships too quickly one after another, and caused the two large
mine-ships also to follow them too soon, and thus disturbed the intended
order of attack.

The array of vessels kept approaching, and the darkness of night still
further heightened the extraordinary spectacle. As far as the eye could
follow the course of the stream all was fire; the fire-ships burning as
brilliantly as if they were themselves in the flames; the surface of the
water glittered with light; the dykes and the batteries along the shore,
the flags, arms, and accoutrements of the soldiers who lined the rivers
as well as the bridges were clearly distinguishable in the glare. With
a mingled sensation of awe and pleasure the soldiers watched the unusual
sight, which rather resembled a fete than a hostile preparation, but
from the very strangeness of the contrast filled the mind with a
mysterious awe. When the burning fleet had come within two thousand
paces of the bridge those who had the charge of it lighted the matches,
impelled the two mine-vessels into the middle of the stream, and leaving
the others to the guidance of the current of the waves, they hastily
made their escape in boats which had been kept in readiness.

Their course, however, was irregular, and destitute of steersmen they
arrived singly and separately at the floating works, where they
continued hanging or were dashed off sidewise on the shore. The
foremost powder-ships, which were intended to set fire to the floating
works, were cast, by the force of a squall which arose at that instant,
on the Flemish coast. One of the two, the "Fortune," grounded in its
passage before it reached the bridge, and killed by its explosion some
Spanish soldiers who were at work in a neighboring battery. The other
and larger fire-ship, called the "Hope," narrowly escaped a similar
fate. The current drove her against the floating defences towards the
Flemish bank, where it remained hanging, and had it taken fire at that
moment the greatest part of its effect would have been lost. Deceived
by the flames which this machine, like the other vessels, emitted, the
Spaniards took it for a common fire-ship, intended to burn the bridge of
boats. And as they had seen them extinguished one after the other
without further effect all fears were dispelled, and the Spaniards began
to ridicule the preparations of the enemy, which had been ushered in
with so much display and now had so absurd an end. Some of the boldest
threw themselves into the stream in order to get a close view of the
fire-ship and extinguish it, when by its weight it suddenly broke
through, burst the floating work which had detained it, and drove with
terrible force on the bridge of boats. All was now in commotion on the
bridge, and the prince called to the sailors to keep the vessel off with
poles, and to extinguish the flames before they caught the timbers.

At this critical moment he was standing at the farthest end of the left
pier, where it formed a bastion in the water and joined the bridge of
boats. By his side stood the Margrave of Rysburg, general of cavalry
and governor of the province of Artois, who had formerly-served the
states, but from a protector of the republic had become its worst enemy;
the Baron of Billy, governor of Friesland and commander of the German
regiments; the Generals Cajetan and Guasto, with several of the
principal officers; all forgetful of their own danger and entirely
occupied with averting the general calamity. At this moment a Spanish
ensign approached the Prince of Parma and conjured him to remove from a
place where his life was in manifest and imminent peril. No attention
being paid to his entreaty he repeated it still more urgently, and at
last fell at his feet and implored him in this one instance to take
advice from his servant. While he said this he had laid hold of the
duke's coat as though he wished forcibly to draw him away from the spot,
and the latter, surprised rather at the man's boldness than persuaded by
his arguments, retired at last to the shore, attended by Cajetan and
Guasto. He had scarcely time to reach the fort St. Maria at the end of
the bridge when an explosion took place behind him, just as if the earth
had burst or the vault of heaven given way. The duke and his whole army
fell to the ground as dead, and several minutes elapsed before they
recovered their consciousness.

But then what a sight presented itself! The waters of the Scheldt had
been divided to its lowest depth, and driven with a surge which rose
like a wall above the dam that confined it, so that all the
fortifications on the banks were several feet under water. The earth
shook for three miles round. Nearly the whole left pier, on which the
fire-ship had been driven, with a part of the bridge of boats, had been
burst and shattered to atoms, with all that was upon it; spars, cannon,
and men blown into the air. Even the enormous blocks of stone which had
covered the mine had, by the force of the explosion, been hurled into
the neighboring fields, so that many of them were afterwards dug out of
the ground at a distance of a thousand paces from the bridge. Six
vessels were buried, several had gone to pieces. But still more
terrible was the carnage which the murderous machine had dealt amongst
the soldiers. Five hundred, according to other reports even eight
hundred, were sacrificed to its fury, without reckoning those who
escaped with mutilated or injured bodies. The most opposite kinds of
death were combined in this frightful moment. Some were consumed by the
flames of the explosion, others scalded to death by the boiling water of
the river, others stifled by the poisonous vapor of the brimstone; some
were drowned in the stream, some buried under the hail of falling masses
of rock, many cut to pieces by the knives and hooks, or shattered by the
balls which were poured from the bowels of the machine. Some were found
lifeless without any visible injury, having in all probability been
killed by the mere concussion of the air. The spectacle which presented
itself directly after the firing of the mine was fearful. Men were seen
wedged between the palisades of the bridge, or struggling to release
themselves from beneath ponderous masses of rock, or hanging in the
rigging of the ships; and from all places and quarters the most
heartrending cries for help arose, but as each was absorbed in his own
safety these could only be answered by helpless wailings.

Many had escaped in the most wonderful manner. An officer named Tucci
was carried by the whirlwind like a feather high into the air, where he
was for a moment suspended, and then dropped into the river, where he
saved himself by swimming. Another was taken up by the force of the
blast from the Flanders shore and deposited on that of Brabant,
incurring merely a slight contusion on the shoulder; he felt, as he
afterwards said, during this rapid aerial transit, just as if he had
been fired out of a cannon. The Prince of Parma himself had never been
so near death as at that moment, when half a minute saved his life. He
had scarcely set foot in the fort of St. Maria when he was lifted off
his feet as if by a hurricane, and a beam which struck him on the head
and shoulders stretched him senseless on the earth. For a long time he
was believed to be actually killed, many remembering to have seen him on
the bridge only a few minutes before the fatal explosion. He was found
at last between his attendants, Cajetan and Guasto, raising himself up
with his hand on his sword; and the intelligence stirred the spirits of
the whole army. But vain would be the attempt to depict his feelings
when he surveyed the devastation which a single moment had caused in the
work of so many months. The bridge of boats, upon which all his hopes
rested, was rent asunder; a great part of his army was destroyed;
another portion maimed and rendered ineffective for many days; many of
his best officers were killed; and, as if the present calamity were not
sufficient, he had now to learn the painful intelligence that the
Margrave of Rysburg, whom of all his officers he prized the highest, was
missing. And yet the worst was still to come, for every moment the
fleets of the enemy were to be expected from Antwerp and Lillo, to which
this fearful position of the army would disable him from offering any
effectual resistance. The bridge was entirely destroyed, and nothing
could prevent the fleet from Zealand passing through in full sail; while
the confusion of the troops in this first moment was so great and
general that it would have been impossible to give or obey orders, as
many corps had lost their commanding officers, and many commanders their
corps; and even the places where they had been stationed were no longer
to be recognized amid the general ruin. Add to this that all the
batteries on shore were under water, that several cannon were sunk, that
the matches were wet, and the ammunition damaged. What a moment for the
enemy if they had known how to avail themselves of it!

It will scarcely be believed, however, that this success, which
surpassed all expectation, was lost to Antwerp, simply because nothing
was known of it. St. Aldegonde, indeed, as soon as the explosion of the
mine was heard in the town, had sent out several galleys in the
direction of the bridge, with orders to send up fire-balls and rockets
the moment they had passed it, and then to sail with the intelligence
straight on to Lillo, in order to bring up, without delay, the Zealand
fleet, which had orders to co-operate. At the same time the admiral of
Antwerp was ordered, as soon as the signal was given, to sail out with
his vessels and attack the enemy in their first consternation. But
although a considerable reward was promised to the boatmen sent to
reconnoitre they did not venture near the enemy, but returned without
effecting their purpose, and reported that the bridge of boats was
uninjured, and the fire-ship had had no effect. Even on the following
day also no better measures were taken to learn the true state of the
bridge; and as the fleet at Lillo, in spite of the favorable wind, was
seen to remain inactive, the belief that the fire-ships had accomplished
nothing was confirmed. It did not seem to occur to any one that this
very inactivity of the confederates, which misled the people of Antwerp,
might also keep back the Zealanders at Lille, as in fact it did. So
signal an instance of neglect could only have occurred in a government,
which, without dignity of independence, was guided by the tumultuous
multitude it ought to have governed. The more supine, however, they
were themselves in opposing the enemy, the more violently did their rage
boil against Gianibelli, whom the frantic mob would have torn in pieces
if they could have caught him. For two days the engineer was in the
most imminent danger, until at last, on the third morning, a courier
from Lillo, who had swam under the bridge, brought authentic
intelligence of its having been destroyed, but at the same time
announced that it had been repaired.

This rapid restoration of the bridge was really a miraculous effort of
the Prince of Parma. Scarcely had he recovered from the shock, which
seemed to have overthrown all his plans, when he contrived, with
wonderful presence of mind, to prevent all its evil consequences. The
absence of the enemy's fleet at this decisive moment revived his hopes.
The ruinous state of the bridge appeared to be a secret to them, and
though it was impossible to repair in a few hours the work of so many
months, yet a great point would be gained if it could be done even in
appearance. All his men were immediately set to work to remove the
ruins, to raise the timbers which had been thrown down, to replace those
which were demolished, and to fill up the chasms with ships. The duke
himself did not refuse to share in the toil, and his example was
followed by all his officers. Stimulated by this popular behavior, the
common soldiers exerted themselves to the utmost; the work was carried
on during the whole night under the constant sounding of drums and
trumpets, which were distributed along the bridge to drown the noise of
the work-people. With dawn of day few traces remained of the night's
havoc; and although the bridge was restored only in appearance, it
nevertheless deceived the spy, and consequently no attack was made upon
it. In the meantime the prince contrived to make the repairs solid,
nay, even to introduce some essential alterations in the structure. In
order to guard against similar accidents for the future, a part of the
bridge of boats was made movable, so that in case of necessity it could
be taken away and a passage opened to the fire-ships. His loss of men
was supplied from the garrisons of the adjoining places, and by a German
regiment which arrived very opportunely from Gueldres. He filled up the
vacancies of the officers who were killed, and in doing this he did not
forget the Spanish ensign who had saved his life.

The people of Antwerp, after learning the success of their mine-ship,
now did homage to the inventor with as much extravagance as they had a
short time before mistrusted him, and they encouraged his genius to new
attempts. Gianibelli now actually obtained the number of flat-bottomed
vessels which he had at first demanded in vain, and these he equipped in
such a manner that they struck with irresistible force on the bridge,
and a second time also burst and separated it. But this time, the wind
was contrary to the Zealand fleet, so that they could not put out, and
thus the prince obtained once more the necessary respite to repair the
damage. The Archimedes of Antwerp was not deterred by any of these
disappointments. Anew he fitted out two large vessels which were armed
with iron hooks and similar instruments in order to tear asunder the
bridge. But when the moment came for these vessels to get under weigh
no one was found ready to embark in them. The engineer was therefore
obliged to think of a plan for giving to these machines such a
self-impulse that, without being guided by a steersman, they would keep the
middle of the stream, and not, like the former ones, be driven on the
bank by the wind. One of his workmen, a German, here hit upon a strange
invention, if Strada's description of it is to be credited. He affixed a
sail under the vessel, which was to be acted upon by the water, just as
an ordinary sail is by the wind, and could thus impel the ship with the
whole force of the current. The result proved the correctness of his
calculation; for this vessel, with the position of its sails reversed,
not only kept the centre of the stream, but also ran against the bridge
with such impetuosity that the enemy had not time to open it and was
actually burst asunder. But all these results were of no service to the
town, because the attempts were made at random and were supported by no
adequate force. A new fire-ship, equipped like the former, which had
succeeded so well, and which Gianibelli had filled with four thousand
pounds of the finest powder was not even used; for a new mode of
attempting their deliverance had now occurred to the people of Antwerp.

Terrified by so many futile attempts from endeavoring to clear a
passage for vessels on the river by force, they at last came to the
determination of doing without the stream entirely. They remembered the
example of the town of Leyden, which, when besieged by the Spaniards ten
years before, had saved itself by opportunely inundating the surrounding
country, and it was resolved to imitate this example. Between Lillo and
Stabroek, in the district of Bergen, a wide and somewhat sloping plain
extends as far as Antwerp, being protected by numerous embankments and
counter-embankments against the irruptions of the East Scheldt. Nothing
more was requisite than to break these dams, when the whole plain would
become a sea, navigable by flat-bottomed vessels almost to the very
walls of Antwerp. If this attempt should succeed, the Duke of Parma
might keep the Scheldt guarded with his bridge of boats as long as he
pleased; a new river would be formed, which, in case of necessity, would
be equally serviceable for the time. This was the very plan which the
Prince of Orange had at the commencement of the siege recommended, and
in which he had been strenuously, but unsuccessfully, seconded by St.
Aldegonde, because some of the citizens could not be persuaded to
sacrifice their own fields. In the present emergency they reverted to
this last resource, but circumstances in the meantime had greatly
changed.

The plain in question is intersected by a broad and high dam, which
takes its name from the adjacent Castle of Cowenstein, and extends for
three miles from the village of Stabroek, in Bergen, as far as the
Scheldt, with the great dam of which it unites near Ordam. Beyond this
dam no vessels can proceed, however high the tide, and the sea would be
vainly turned into the fields as long as such an embankment remained in
the way, which would prevent the Zealand vessels from descending into
the plain before Antwerp. The fate of the town would therefore depend
upon the demolition of this Cowenstein dam; but, foreseeing this, the
Prince of Parma had, immediately on commencing the blockade, taken
possession of it, and spared no pains to render it tenable to the last.
At the village of Stabroek, Count Mansfeld was encamped with the
greatest part of his army, and by means of this very Cowenstein dam kept
open the communication with the bridge, the headquarters, and the
Spanish magazines at Calloo. Thus the army formed an uninterrupted line
from Stabroek in Brabant, as far as Bevern in Flanders, intersected
indeed, but not broken by the Scheldt, and which could not be cut off
without a sanguinary conflict. On the dam itself within proper
distances five different batteries had been erected, the command of
which was given to the most valiant officers in the army. Nay, as the
Prince of Parma could not doubt that now the whole fury of the war would
be turned to this point, he entrusted the defence of the bridge to Count
Mansfeld, and resolved to defend this important post himself. The war,
therefore, now assumed a different aspect, and the theatre of it was
entirely changed.

Both above and below Lillo, the Netherlanders had in several places cut
through the dam, which follows the Brabant shore of the Scheldt; and
where a short time before had been green fields, a new element now
presented itself, studded with masts and boats. A Zealand fleet,
commanded by Count Hohenlohe, navigated the inundated fields, and made
repeated movements against the Cowenstein dam, without, however,
attempting a serious attack on it, while another fleet showed itself in
the Scheldt, threatening the two coasts alternately with a landing, and
occasionally the bridge of boats with an attack. For several days this
manoeuvre was practised on the enemy, who, uncertain of the quarter
whence an attack was to be expected, would, it was hoped, be exhausted
by continual watching, and by degrees lulled into security by so many
false alarms. Antwerp had promised Count Hohenlohe to support the
attack on the dam by a flotilla from the town; three beacons on the
principal tower were to be the signal that this was on the way. When,
therefore, on a dark night the expected columns of fire really ascended
above Antwerp, Count Hohenlohe immediately caused five hundred of his
troops to scale the dam between two of the enemy's redoubts, who
surprised part of the Spanish garrison asleep, and cut down the others
who attempted to defend themselves. In a short time they had gained a
firm footing upon the dam, and were just on the point of disembarking
the remainder of their force, two thousand in number, when the Spaniards
in the adjoining redoubts marched out and, favored by the narrowness of
the ground, made a desperate attack on the crowded Zealanders. The guns
from the neighboring batteries opened upon the approaching fleet, and
thus rendered the landing of the remaining troops impossible; and as
there were no signs of co-operation on the part of the city, the
Zealanders were overpowered after a short conflict and again driven down
from the dam. The victorious Spaniards pursued them through the water
as far as their boats, sunk many of the latter, and compelled the rest
to retreat with heavy loss. Count Hohenlohe threw the blame of this
defeat upon the inhabitants of Antwerp, who had deceived him by a false
signal, and it certainly must be attributed to the bad arrangement of
both parties that the attempt failed of better success.

But at last the allies determined to make a systematic assault on the
enemy with their combined force, and to put an end to the siege by a
grand attack as well on the dam as on the bridge. The 16th of May,
1585, was fixed upon for the execution of this design, and both armies
used their utmost endeavors to make this day decisive. The force of the
Hollanders and Zealanders, united to that of Antwerp, exceeded two
hundred ships, to man which they had stripped their towns and citadels,
and with this force they purposed to attack the Cowenstein dam on both
sides. The bridge over the Scheldt was to be assailed with new machines
of Gianibelli's invention, and the Duke of Parma thereby hindered from
assisting the defence of the dam.

Alexander, apprised of the danger which threatened him, spared nothing
on his side to meet it with energy. Immediately after getting
possession of the dam he had caused redoubts to be erected at five
different, places, and had given the command of them to the most
experienced officers of the army. The first of these, which was called
the Cross battery, was erected on the spot where the Cowenstein darn
enters the great embankment of the Scheldt, and makes with the latter
the form of a cross; the Spaniard, Mondragone, was appointed to the
command of this battery. A thousand paces farther on, near the castle
of Cowenstein, was posted the battery of St. James, which was entrusted
to the command of Camillo di Monte. At an equal distance from this lay
the battery of St. George, and at a thousand paces from the latter, the
Pile battery, under the command of Gamboa, so called from the pile-work
on which it rested; at the farthest end of the darn, near Stabroek, was
the fifth redoubt, where Count Mansfeld, with Capizuechi, an Italian,
commanded. All these forts the prince now strengthened with artillery
and men; on both sides of the dam, and along its whole extent, he caused
piles to be driven, as well to render the main embankment firmer, as to
impede the labor of the pioneers, who were to dig through it.

Early on the morning of the 16th of May the enemy's forces were in
motion. With the dusk of dawn there came floating down from Lillo, over
the inundated country, four burning vessels, which so alarmed the guards
upon the dams, who recollected the former terrible explosion, that they
hastily retreated to the next battery. This was exactly what the enemy
desired. In these vessels, which had merely the appearance of
fire-ships, soldiers were concealed, who now suddenly jumped ashore, and
succeeded in mounting the dam at the undefended spot, between the St.
George and Pile batteries. Immediately afterward the whole Zealand
fleet showed itself, consisting of numerous ships-of-war, transports,
and a crowd of smaller craft, which were laden with great sacks of
earth, wool, fascines, gabions, and the like, for throwing up
breastworks wherever necessary, The ships-of-war were furnished with
powerful artillery, and numerously and bravely manned, and a whole army
of pioneers accompanied it in order to dig through the dam as soon as it
should be in their possession.

The Zealanders had scarcely begun on their side to ascend the dam when
the fleet of Antwerp advanced from Osterweel and attacked it on the
other. A high breastwork was hastily thrown up between the two nearest
hostile batteries, so as at once to divide the two garrisons and to
cover the pioneers. The latter, several hundreds in number, now fell to
work with their spades on both sides of the dam, and dug with such
energy that hopes were entertained of soon seeing the two seas united.
But meanwhile the Spaniards also had gained time to hasten to the spot
from the two nearest redoubts, and make a spirited assault, while the
guns from the battery of St. George played incessantly on the enemy's
fleet. A furious battle now raged in the quarter where they were
cutting through the dike and throwing up the breastworks. The
Zealanders had drawn a strong line of troops round the pioneers to keep
the enemy from interrupting their work, and in this confusion of battle,
in the midst of a storm of bullets from the enemy, often up to the
breast in water, among the dead and dying, the pioneers pursued their
work, under the incessant exhortations of the merchants, who impatiently
waited to see the dam opened and their vessels in safety. The
importance of the result, which it might be said depended entirely upon
their spades, appeared to animate even the common laborers with heroic
courage. Solely intent upon their task, they neither saw nor heard the
work of death which was going on around them, and as fast as the
foremost ranks fell those behind them pressed into their places. Their
operations were greatly impeded by the piles which had been driven in,
but still more by the attacks of the Spaniards, who burst with desperate
courage through the thickest of the enemy, stabbed the pioneers in the
pits where they were digging, and filled up again with dead bodies the
cavities which the living had made. At last, however, when most of
their officers were killed or wounded, and the number of the enemy
constantly increasing, while fresh laborers were supplying the place of
those who had been slain, the courage of these valiant troops began to
give way, and they thought it advisable to retreat to their batteries.
Now, therefore, the confederates saw themselves masters of the whole
extent of the dam, from Fort St. George as far as the Pile battery. As,
however, it seemed too long to wait for the thorough demolition of the
dam, they hastily unloaded a Zealand transport, and brought the cargo
over the dam to a vessel of Antwerp, with which Count Hohenlohe sailed
in triumph to that city. The sight of the provisions at once filled the
inhabitants with joy, and as if the victory was already won, they gave
themselves up to the wildest exultation. The bells were rung, the
cannon discharged, and the inhabitants, transported by their unexpected
success, hurried to the Osterweel gate, to await the store-ships which
were supposed to be at hand.

In fact, fortune had never smiled so favorably on the besieged as at
that moment. The enemy, exhausted and dispirited, had thrown themselves
into their batteries, and, far from being able to struggle with the
victors for the post they had conquered, they found themselves rather
besieged in the places where they had taken refuge. Some companies of
Scots, led by their brave colonel, Balfour, attacked the battery of St.
George, which, however, was relieved, but not without severe loss, by
Camillo di Monte, who hastened thither from St. James' battery. The
Pile battery was in a much worse condition, it being hotly cannonaded by
the ships, and threatened every moment to crumble to pieces. Gainboa,
who commanded it, lay wounded, and it was unfortunately deficient in
artillery to keep the enemy at a distance. The breastwork, too, which
the Zealanders had thrown up between this battery and that of St.
George cut off all hope of assistance from the Scheldt. If, therefore,
the Belgians had only taken advantage of this weakness and inactivity of
the enemy to proceed with zeal and perseverance in cutting through the
dam, there is no doubt that a passage might have been made, and thus put
an end to the whole siege. But here also the same want of consistent
energy showed itself which had marked the conduct of the people of
Antwerp during the whole course of the siege. The zeal with which the
work had been commenced cooled in proportion to the success which
attended it. It was soon found too tedious to dig through the dyke; it
seemed far easier to transfer the cargoes from the large store-ships
into smaller ones, and carry these to the town with the flood tide. St.
Aldegonde and Hohenlohe, instead of remaining to animate the industry of
the workmen by their personal presence, left the scene of action at the
decisive moment, in order, by sailing to the town with a corn vessel, to
win encomiums on their wisdom and valor.

While both parties were fighting on the dam with the most obstinate fury
the bridge over the Scheldt had been attacked from Antwerp with new
machines, in order to give employment to the prince in that quarter.
But the sound of the firing soon apprised him of what was going on at
the dyke, and as soon as he saw the bridge clear he hastened to support
the defence of the dyke. Followed by two hundred Spanish pikemen, he
flew to the place of attack, and arrived just in time to prevent the
complete defeat of his troops. He hastily posted some guns which he had
brought with him in the two nearest redoubts, and maintained from thence
a heavy fire upon the enemy's ships. He placed himself at the head of
his men, and, with his sword in one hand and shield in the other, led
them against the enemy. The news of his arrival, which quickly spread
from one end of the dyke to the other, revived the drooping spirits of
his troops, and the conflict recommenced with renewed violence, made
still more murderous by the nature of the ground where it was fought.
Upon the narrow ridge of the dam, which in many places was not more than
nine paces broad, about five thousand combatants were fighting; so
confined was the spot upon which the strength of both armies was
assembled, and which was to decide the whole issue of the siege. With
the Antwerpers the last bulwark of their city was at stake; with the
Spaniards it was to determine the whole success of their undertaking.
Both parties fought with a courage which despair alone could inspire.
From both the extremities of the dam the tide of war rolled itself
towards the centre, where the Zealanders and Antwerpers had the
advantage, and where they had collected their whole strength. The
Italians and Spaniards, inflamed by a noble emulation, pressed on from
Stabroek; and from the Scheldt the Walloons and Spaniards advanced, with
their general at their head. While the former endeavored to relieve the
Pile battery, which was hotly pressed by the enemy, both by sea and
land, the latter threw themselves on the breastwork, between the St.
George and the Pile batteries, with a fury which carried everything
before it. Here the flower of the Belgian troops fought behind a
well-fortified rampart, and the guns of the two fleets covered this
important post. The prince was already pressing forward to attack this
formidable defence with his small army when he received intelligence that
the Italians and Spaniards, under Capizucchi and Aquila, had forced their
way, sword in hand, into the Pile battery, had got possession of it, and
were now likewise advancing from the other side against the enemy's
breastwork. Before this intrenchment, therefore, the whole force of both
armies was now collected, and both sides used their utmost efforts to
carry and to defend this position. The Netherlanders on board the fleet,
loath to remain idle spectators of the conflict, sprang ashore from their
vessels. Alexander attacked the breastwork on one side, Count Mansfeld on
the other; five assaults were made, and five times they were repulsed.
The Netherlanders in this decisive moment surpassed themselves; never in
the whole course of the war had they fought with such determination. But
it was the Scotch and English in particular who baffled the attempts of
the enemy by their valiant resistance. As no one would advance to the
attack in the quarter where the Scotch fought, the duke himself led on
the troops, with a javelin in his hand, and up to his breast in water. At
last, after a protracted struggle, the forces of Count Mansfeld succeeded
with their halberds and pikes in making a breach in the breastwork, and
by raising themselves on one another's shoulders scaled the parapet.
Barthelemy Toralva, a Spanish captain, was the first who showed himself
on the top; and almost at the same instant the Italian, Capizucchi,
appeared upon the edge of it; and thus the contest of valor was decided
with equal glory for both nations. It is worth while to notice here the
manner in which the Prince of Parma, who was made arbiter of this emulous
strife, encouraged this delicate sense of honor among his warriors. He
embraced the Italian, Capizucchi, in presence of the troops, and
acknowledged aloud that it was principally to the courage of this officer
that he owed the capture of the breastwork. He caused the Spanish
captain, Toralva, who was dangerously wounded, to be conveyed to his own
quarters at Stabroek, laid on his own bed, and covered with the cloak
which he himself had worn the day before the battle.

After the capture of the breastwork the victory no longer remained
doubtful. The Dutch and Zealand troops, who had disembarked to come to
close action with the enemy, at once lost their courage when they looked
about them and saw the vessels, which were their last refuge, putting
off from the shore.

For the tide had begun to ebb, and the commanders of the fleet, from
fear of being stranded with their heavy transports, and, in case of an
unfortunate issue to the engagement, becoming the prey of the enemy,
retired from the dam, and made for deep water. No sooner did Alexander
perceive this than he pointed out to his troops the flying vessels, and
encouraged them to finish the action with an enemy who already despaired
of their safety. The Dutch auxiliaries were the first that gave way,
and their example was soon followed by the Zealanders. Hastily leaping
from the dam they endeavored to reach the vessels by wading or swimming;
but from their disorderly flight they impeded one another, and fell in
heaps under the swords of the pursuers. Many perished even in the
boats, as each strove to get on board before the other, and several
vessels sank under the weight of the numbers who rushed into them. The
Antwerpers, who fought for their liberty, their hearths, their faith,
were the last who retreated, but this very circumstance augmented their
disaster. Many of their vessels were outstripped by the ebb-tide, and
grounded within reach of the enemy's cannon, and were consequently
destroyed with all on board. Crowds of fugitives endeavored by swimming
to gain the other transports, which had got into deep water; but such
was the rage and boldness of the Spaniards that they swam after them
with their swords between their teeth, and dragged many even from the
ships. The victory of the king's troops was complete but bloody; for of
the Spaniards about eight hundred, of the Netherlanders some thousands
(without reckoning those who were drowned), were left on the field, and
on both sides many of the principal nobility perished. More than thirty
vessels, with a large supply of provisions for Antwerp, fell into the
hands of the victors, with one hundred and fifty cannon and other
military stores. The dam, the possession of which had been so dearly
maintained, was pierced in thirteen different places, and the bodies of
those who had cut through it were now used to stop up the openings.

The following day a transport of immense size and singular construction
fell into the hands of the royalists. It formed a floating castle, and
had been destined for the attack on the Cowenstein dam. The people of
Antwerp had built it at an immense expense at the very time when the
engineer Gianibelli's useful proposals had been rejected on account of
the cost they entailed, and this ridiculous monster was called by the
proud title of "End of the War," which appellation was afterwards
changed for the more appropriate sobriquet of "Money lost!" When this
vessel was launched it turned out, as every sensible person had
foretold, that on account of its unwieldly size it was utterly
impossible to steer it, and it could hardly be floated by the highest
tide. With great difficulty it was worked as far as Ordain, where,
deserted by the tide, it went aground, and fell a prey to the enemy.

The attack upon the Cowenstein dam was the last attempt which was made
to relieve Antwerp. From this time the courage of the besieged sank,
and the magistracy of the town vainly labored to inspirit with distant
hopes the lower orders, on whom the present distress weighed heaviest.
Hitherto the price of bread had been kept down to a tolerable rate,
although the quality of it continued to deteriorate; by degrees,
however, provisions became so scarce that a famine was evidently near at
hand. Still hopes were entertained of being able to hold out, at least
until the corn between the town and the farthest batteries, which was
already in full ear, could be reaped; but before that could be done the
enemy had carried the last outwork, and had appropriated the whole
harvest to their use. At last the neighboring and confederate town of
Malines fell into the enemy's hands, and with its fall vanished the only
remaining hope of getting supplies from Brabant. As there was,
therefore, no longer any means of increasing the stock of provisions
nothing was left but to diminish the consumers. All useless persons,
all strangers, nay even the women and children were to be sent away out
of the town, but this proposal was too revolting to humanity to be
carried into execution. Another plan, that of expelling the Catholic
inhabitants, exasperated them so much that it had almost ended in open
mutiny. And thus St. Aldegonde at last saw himself compelled to yield
to the riotous clamors of the populace, and on the 17th of August, 1585,
to make overtures to the Duke of Parma for the surrender of the town.





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