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Title: History of the Revolt of the Netherlands — Volume 01
Author: Schiller, Friedrich
Language: English
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                               THE WORKS


                           FREDERICK SCHILLER

                       Translated from the German



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.

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

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.




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


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.


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

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.


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 theniselves 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

     [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

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

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

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 be 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

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 cornmercial 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

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

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.  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 be 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 occasonal 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.


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

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.


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

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


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

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

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

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.


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 nman.  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

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

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

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

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.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the Revolt of the Netherlands — Volume 01" ***

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