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´╗┐Title: History of the United Netherlands, 1590-92
Author: Motley, John Lothrop
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the United Netherlands, 1590-92" ***

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HISTORY OF THE UNITED NETHERLANDS
From the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609

By John Lothrop Motley



History of the United Netherlands, 1590-1592



CHAPTER XXIV.

     Prince Maurice--State of the Republican army--Martial science of the
     period--Reformation of the military system by Prince Maurice--His
     military genius--Campaign in the Netherlands--The fort and town of
     Zutphen taken by the States' forces--Attack upon Deventer--Its
     capitulation--Advance on Groningen, Delfzyl, Opslag, Yementil,
     Steenwyk, and other places--Farnese besieges Fort Knodsenburg--
     Prince Maurice hastens to its relief--A skirmish ensues resulting in
     the discomfiture of the Spanish and Italian troops--Surrender of
     Hulat and Nymegen--Close of military, operations of the year.

While the events revealed in the last chapter had been occupying the
energies of Farnese and the resources of his sovereign, there had been
ample room for Prince Maurice to mature his projects, and to make a
satisfactory beginning in the field.  Although Alexander had returned to
the Netherlands before the end of the year 1590, and did not set forth on
his second French campaign until late in the following year, yet the
condition of his health, the exhaustion of his funds, and the dwindling
of his army, made it impossible for him to render any effectual
opposition to the projects of the youthful general.

For the first time Maurice was ready to put his theories and studies into
practice on an extensive scale.  Compared with modern armaments, the
warlike machinery to be used for liberating the republic from its foreign
oppressors would seem almost diminutive.  But the science and skill of a
commander are to be judged by the results he can work out with the
materials within reach.  His progress is to be measured by a comparison
with the progress of his contemporaries--coheirs with him of what Time
had thus far bequeathed.

The regular army of the republic, as reconstructed, was but ten thousand
foot and two thousand horse, but it was capable of being largely expanded
by the trainbands of the cities, well disciplined and enured to hardship,
and by the levies of German reiters and other, foreign auxiliaries in
such numbers as could be paid for by the hard-pressed exchequer of the
provinces.

To the state-council, according to its original constitution, belonged
the levying and disbanding of troops, the conferring of military offices,
and the supervision of military operations by sea and land.  It was its
duty to see that all officers made oath of allegiance to the United
Provinces.

The course of Leicester's administration, and especially the fatal
treason of Stanley and of York, made it seem important for the true
lovers of their country to wrest from the state-council, where the
English had two seats, all political and military power.  And this, as
has been seen, was practically but illegally accomplished.  The silent
revolution by which at this epoch all the main attributes of government
passed into the hands of the States-General-acting as a league of
sovereignties--has already been indicated.  The period during which the
council exercised functions conferred on it by the States-General
themselves was brief and evanescent.  The jealousy of the separate
provinces soon prevented the state-council--a supreme executive body
entrusted with the general defence of the commonwealth--from causing
troops to pass into or out of one province or another without a patent
from his Excellency the Prince, not as chief of the whole army, but as
governor and captain-general of Holland, or Gelderland, or Utrecht, as
the case might be.

The highest military office in the Netherlands was that of captain-
general or supreme commander.  This quality was from earliest times
united to that of stadholder, who stood, as his title implied, in the
place of the reigning sovereign, whether count, duke, king, or emperor.
After the foundation of the Republic this dynastic form, like many
others, remained, and thus Prince Maurice was at first only captain-
general of Holland and Zeeland, and subsequently of Gelderland, Utrecht,
and Overyssel, after he had been appointed stadholder of those three
provinces in 1590 on the death of Count Nieuwenaar.  However much in
reality he was general-in-chief of the army, he never in all his life
held the appointment of captain-general of the Union.

To obtain a captain's commission in the army, it was necessary to have
served four years, while three years' service was the necessary
preliminary to the post of lieutenant or ensign.  Three candidates were
presented by the province for each office, from whom the stadholder
appointed one.--The commissions, except those of the highest commanders,
were made out in the name of the States-General, by advice and consent of
the council of state.  The oath of allegiance, exacted from soldiers as
well as officers; mentioned the name of the particular province to which
they belonged, as well as that of the States-Generals.  It thus appears
that, especially after Maurice's first and successful campaigns; the
supreme authority over the army really belonged to the States-General,
and that the powers of the state-council in this regard fell, in the
course of four years, more and more into the back-ground, and at last
disappeared almost entirely.  During the active period of the war,
however; the effect of this revolution was in fact rather a greater
concentration of military power than its dispersion, for the States-
General meant simply the province of Holland.  Holland was the republic.

The organisation of the infantry was very simple.  The tactical unit
was the company.  A temporary combination of several companies--made a
regiment, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant-colonel, but for such
regiments there was no regular organisation.  Sometimes six or seven
companies were thus combined, sometimes three times that number, but the
strength of a force, however large, was always estimated by the number of
companies, not of regiments.

The normal strength of an infantry company, at the beginning of Maurice's
career, may be stated at one hundred and thirteen, commanded by one
captain, one lieutenant, one ensign, and by the usual non-commissioned
officers.  Each company was composed of musketeers, harquebusseers,
pikemen, halberdeers, and buckler-men.  Long after, portable firearms had
come into use, the greater portion of foot soldiers continued to be armed
with pikes, until the introduction of the fixed bayonet enabled the
musketeer to do likewise the duty of pikeman.  Maurice was among the
first to appreciate the advantage of portable firearms, and he
accordingly increased the proportion of soldiers armed with the musket
in his companies.  In a company of a hundred and thirteen, including
officers, he had sixty-four armed with firelocks to thirty carrying pikes
and halberds.  As before his time the proportion between the arms had
been nearly even; he thus more than doubled the number of firearms.

Of these weapons there were two sorts, the musket and the harquebus.  The
musket was a long, heavy, unmanageable instrument.  When fired it was-
placed upon an iron gaffle or fork, which: the soldier carried with him,
and stuck before him into the ground.  The bullets of the musket were
twelve to the pound.

The harquebus--or hak-bus, hook-gun, so called because of the hook in the
front part of the barrel to give steadiness in firing--was much lighter,
was discharged from the hand; and carried bullets of twenty-four to the
pound.  Both weapons had matchlocks.

The pike was eighteen feet long at least, and pikemen as well as
halberdsmen carried rapiers.

There were three buckler-men to each company, introduced by Maurice for
the personal protection of the leader of the company.  The prince was
often attended by one himself, and, on at least one memorable occasion,
was indebted to this shield for the preservation of his life.

The cavalry was divided into lancers and carabineers.  The unit was the
squadron, varying in number from sixty to one hundred and fifty, until
the year 1591, when the regular complement of the squadron was fixed at
one hundred and twenty.

As the use of cavalry on the battle-field at that day, or at least in the
Netherlands, was not in rapidity of motion, nor in severity of shock--the
attack usually taking place on a trot--Maurice gradually displaced the
lance in favour of the carbine.  His troopers thus became rather mounted
infantry than regular cavalry.

The carbine was at least three feet long, with wheel-locks, and carried
bullets of thirty to the pound.

The artillery was a peculiar Organisation.  It was a guild of citizens,
rather than a strictly military force like the cavalry and infantry.  The
arm had but just begun to develop itself, and it was cultivated as a
special trade by the guild of the holy Barbara existing in all the
principal cities.  Thus a municipal artillery gradually organised itself,
under the direction of the gun-masters (bus-meesters), who in secret
laboured at the perfection of their art, and who taught it to their
apprentices and journeymen; as the principles of other crafts were
conveyed by master to pupil.  This system furnished a powerful element of
defence at a period when every city had in great measure to provide for
its own safety.

In the earlier campaigns of Maurice three kinds of artillery were used;
the whole cannon (kartow) of forty-eight pounds; the half-cannon, or
twenty-four pounder, and the field-piece carrying a ball of twelve
pounds.  The two first were called battering pieces or siege-guns.  All
the guns were of bronze.

The length of the whole cannon was about twelve feet; its weight one
hundred and fifty times that of the ball, or about seven thousand pounds.
It was reckoned that the whole kartow could fire from eighty to one
hundred shots in an hour.  Wet hair cloths were used to cool the piece
after every, ten or twelve discharges.  The usual charge was twenty
pounds of powder.

The whole gun was drawn by thirty-one horses, the half-cannon by twenty-
three.

The field-piece required eleven horses, but a regular field-artillery, as
an integral part of the army, did not exist, and was introduced in much
later times.  In the greatest pitched battle ever fought by Maurice, that
of Nieuport, he had but six field-pieces.

The prince also employed mortars in his sieges, from which were thrown
grenades, hot shot, and stones; but no greater distance was reached than
six hundred yards.  Bomb-shells were not often used although they had
been known for a century.

Before the days of Maurice a special education for engineers had never
been contemplated.  Persons who had privately acquired a knowledge of
fortification and similar branches of the science were employed, upon
occasion, but regular corps of engineers there were none.  The prince
established a course of instruction in this profession at the University
of Leyden, according to a system drawn up by the celebrated Stevinus.

Doubtless the most important innovation of the prince, and the one which
required the most energy to enforce, was the use of the spade.  His
soldiers were jeered at by the enemy as mere boors and day labourers who
were dishonouring themselves and their profession by the use of that
implement instead of the sword.  Such a novelty was a shock to all the
military ideas of the age, and it was only the determination and vigour
of the prince and of his cousin Lewis William that ultimately triumphed
over the universal prejudice.

The pay of the common soldier varied from ten to twenty florins the
month, but every miner had eighteen florins, and, when actually working
in the mines, thirty florins monthly.  Soldiers used in digging trenches
received, over and above their regular pay, a daily wage of from ten to
fifteen styvers, or nearly a shilling sterling.

Another most wholesome improvement made by the prince was in the payment
of his troops.  The system prevailing in every European country at that
day, by which Governments were defrauded and soldiers starved, was most
infamous.  The soldiers were paid through the captain, who received the
wages of a full company, when perhaps not one-third of the names on the
master-roll were living human beings.  Accordingly two-thirds of all the
money stuck to the officer's fingers, and it was not thought a disgrace
to cheat the Government by dressing and equipping for the day a set of
ragamuffins, caught up in the streets for the purpose, and made to pass
muster as regular soldiers.

These parse-volants, or scarecrows, were passed freely about from one
company to another, and the indecency of the fraud was never thought a
disgrace to the colours of the company.

Thus, in the Armada year, the queen had demanded that a portion of her
auxiliary force in the Netherlands should be sent to England.  The States
agreed that three thousand of these English troops, together with a few
cavalry companies, should go, but stipulated that two thousand should
remain in the provinces.  The queen accepted the proposal, but when the
two thousand had been counted out, it appeared that there was scarcely a
man left for the voyage to England.  Yet every one of the English
captains had claimed full pay for his company from her Majesty's
exchequer.

Against this tide of peculation and corruption the strenuous Maurice set
himself with heart and soul, and there is no doubt that to his
reformation in this vital matter much of his military success was owing.
It was impossible that roguery and venality should ever furnish a solid
foundation for the martial science.

To the student of military history the campaigns and sieges of Maurice,
and especially the earlier: ones, are of great importance.  There is no
doubt whatever, that the youth who now, after deep study and careful
preparation, was measuring himself against the first captains of the age,
was founding the great modern school of military science.  It was in this
Netherland academy, and under the tuition of its consummate professor,
that the commanders of the seventeenth century not only acquired the
rudiments, but perfected themselves in the higher walks of their art.
Therefore the siege operations, in which all that had been invented by
modern genius, or rescued from the oblivion which had gathered over
ancient lore during the more vulgar and commonplace practice of the
mercenary commanders of the day was brought into successful application,
must always engage the special attention of the military student.

To the general reader, more interested in marking the progress of
civilisation and the advance of the people in the path of development
and true liberty, the spectacle of tho young stadholder's triumphs has
an interest of another kind.  At the moment when a thorough practical
soldier was most needed by the struggling little commonwealth, to enable
it to preserve liberties partially secured by its unparalleled sacrifices
of blood and treasure during a quarter of a century, and to expel the
foreign invader from the soil which he had so long profaned, it was
destined that a soldier should appear.

Spade in hand, with his head full of Roman castrametation and geometrical
problems, a prince, scarce emerged from boyhood, presents himself on that
stage where grizzled Mansfelds, drunken Hohenlos, and truculent Verdugos
have been so long enacting, that artless military drama which consists
of hard knocks and wholesale massacres.  The novice is received with
universal hilarity.  But although the machinery of war varies so steadily
from age to age that a commonplace commander of to-day, rich in the
spoils of preceding time, might vanquish the Alexanders, and Caesars,
and Frederics, with their antiquated enginery, yet the moral stuff out of
which great captains, great armies, great victories are created, is the
simple material it was in the days of Sesostris or Cyrus.  The moral and
physiological elements remain essentially the same as when man first
began to walk up and down the earth and destroy his fellow-creatures.

To make an army a thorough mowing-machine, it then seemed necessary that
it should be disciplined into complete mechanical obedience.  To secure
this, prompt payment of wages and inexorable punishment of delinquencies
were indispensable.  Long arrearages were now converting Farnese's
veterans into systematic marauders; for unpaid soldiers in every age
and country have usually degenerated into highwaymen, and it is an
impossibility for a sovereign, with the strictest intentions, to persist
in starving his soldiers and in killing them for feeding themselves.  In
Maurice's little army, on the contrary, there were no back-wages and no
thieving.  At the siege of Delfzyl Maurice hung two of his soldiers for
stealing, the one a hat and the other a poniard, from the townsfolk,
after the place had capitulated.  At the siege of Hulst he ordered
another to be shot, before the whole camp, for robbing a woman.

This seems sufficiently harsh, but war is not a pastime nor a very humane
occupation.  The result was, that robbery disappeared, and it is better
for all that enlisted men should be soldiers rather than thieves.  To
secure the ends which alone can justify war--and if the Netherlanders
engaged in defending national existence and human freedom against foreign
tyranny were not justifiable then a just war has never been waged--
a disciplined army is vastly more humane in its operations than a band
of brigands.  Swift and condign punishments by the law-martial, for even
trifling offences, is the best means of discipline yet devised.

To bring to utmost perfection the machinery already in existence,
to encourage invention, to ponder the past with a practical application
to the present, to court fatigue, to scorn pleasure, to concentrate the
energies on the work in hand, to cultivate quickness of eye and calmness
of nerve in the midst of danger, to accelerate movements, to economise
blood even at the expense of time, to strive after ubiquity and
omniscience in the details of person and place, these were the
characteristics of Maurice, and they have been the prominent traits of
all commanders who have stamped themselves upon their age.  Although his
method of war-making differed as far as possible from that quality in
common, of the Bearnese, yet the two had one personal insensibility to
fear.  But in the case of Henry, to confront danger for its own sake
was in itself a pleasure, while the calmer spirit of Maurice did not
so much seek the joys of the combat as refuse to desist from scientific
combinations in the interests of his personal safety.  Very frequently,
in the course of his early campaigns, the prince was formally and
urgently requested by the States-General not to expose his life so
recklessly, and before he had passed his twenty-fifth year he had
received wounds which, but for fortunate circumstances, would have proved
mortal, because he was unwilling to leave special operations on which
much was depending to other eyes than his own.  The details of his
campaigns are, of necessity, the less interesting to a general reader
from their very completeness.  Desultory or semi-civilised warfare, where
the play of the human passions is distinctly visible, where individual
man, whether in buff jerkin or Milan coat of proof, meets his fellow man
in close mortal combat, where men starve by thousands or are massacred by
town-fulls, where hamlets or villages blaze throughout whole districts or
are sunk beneath the ocean--scenes of rage, hatred, vengeance, self-
sacrifice, patriotism, where all the virtues and vices of which humanity
is capable stride to and fro in their most violent colours and most
colossal shape where man in a moment rises almost to divinity, or sinks
beneath the beasts of the field--such tragical records of which the
sanguinary story of mankind is full--and no portion of them more so than
the Netherland chronicles appeal more vividly to the imagination than the
neatest solution of mathematical problems.  Yet, if it be the legitimate
end of military science to accomplish its largest purposes at the least
expense of human suffering; if it be progress in civilisation to acquire
by scientific combination what might be otherwise attempted, and perhaps
vainly attempted, by infinite carnage, then is the professor with his
diagrams, standing unmoved amid danger, a more truly heroic image than
Coeur-de-Lion with his battle-axe or Alva with his truncheon.

The system--then a new one--which Maurice introduced to sustain that
little commonwealth from sinking of which he had become at the age of
seventeen the predestined chief, was the best under the circumstances
that could have been devised.  Patriotism the most passionate, the most
sublime, had created the republic.  To maintain its existence against
perpetual menace required the exertion of perpetual skill.

Passionless as algebra, the genius of Maurice was ready for the task.
Strategic points of immense value, important cities and fortresses, vital
river-courses and communications--which foreign tyranny had acquired
during the tragic past with a patient iniquity almost without a parallel,
and which patriotism had for years vainly struggled to recover--were the
earliest trophies and prizes of his art.  But the details of his
victories may be briefly indicated, for they have none of the
picturesqueness of crime.  The sieges of Naarden, Harlem, Leyden, were
tragedies of maddening interest, but the recovery of Zutphen, Deventer,
Nymegen, Groningen, and many other places--all important though they
were--was accomplished with the calmness of a consummate player, who
throws down on the table the best half dozen invincible cards which it
thus becomes superfluous to play.

There were several courses open to the prince before taking the field.
It was desirable to obtain control of the line of the Waal, by which that
heart of the republic--Holland--would be made entirely secure.  To this
end, Gertruydenberg--lately surrendered to the enemy by the perfidy of
the Englishman Wingfield, to whom it had been entrusted--Bois le Duc, and
Nymegen were to be wrested from Spain.

It was also important to hold the Yssel, the course of which river led
directly through the United Netherlands, quite to the Zuyder Zee, cutting
off Friesland, Groningen, and Gelderland from their sister provinces of
Holland and Zeeland.  And here again the keys to this river had been lost
by English treason.  The fort of Zutphen and the city of Deventer had
been transferred to the Spaniard by Roland York and Sir William Stanley,
in whose honour the republic had so blindly confided, and those cities it
was now necessary to reduce by regular siege before the communications
between the eastern and western portions of the little commonwealth could
ever be established.

Still farther in the ancient Frisian depths, the memorable treason of
that native Netherlander, the high-born Renneberg, had opened the way
for the Spaniard's foot into the city of Groningen.  Thus this whole
important province--with its capital--long subject to the foreign
oppressor, was garrisoned with his troops.

Verdugo, a veteran officer of Portuguese birth, who had risen from the
position of hostler to that of colonel and royal stadholder, commanded in
Friesland.  He had in vain demanded reinforcements and supplies from
Farnese, who most reluctantly was obliged to refuse them in order that he
might obey his master's commands to neglect everything for the sake of
the campaign in France.

And Verdugo, stripped of all adequate forces to protect his important
province, was equally destitute of means for feeding the troops that were
left to him.  "I hope to God that I may do my duty to the king and your
Highness," he cried, "but I find myself sold up and pledged to such an
extent that I am poorer than when I was a soldier at four crowns a month.
And everybody in the town is as desperate as myself."

Maurice, after making a feint of attacking Gertruydenberg and Bois le
Duc, so that Farnese felt compelled, with considerable difficulty, to
strengthen the garrison of those places, came unexpectedly to Arnhem
with a force of nine thousand foot and sixteen hundred horse.  He had
previously and with great secrecy sent some companies of infantry under
Sir Francis Vere to Doesburg.

On the 23rd May (1591) five peasants and six peasant women made their
appearance at dawn of day before the chief guard-house of the great fort
in the Badmeadow (Vel-uwe), opposite Zutphen, on the west side of the
Yssel.  It was not an unusual occurrence.  These boors and their wives
had brought baskets of eggs, butter, and cheese, for the garrison, and
they now set themselves quietly down on the ground before the gate,
waiting for the soldiers of the garrison to come out and traffic with
them for their supplies.  Very soon several of the guard made their
appearance, and began to chaffer with the peasants, when suddenly one of
the women plucked a pistol from under her petticoats and shot dead the
soldier who was cheapening her eggs.  The rest of the party, transformed
in an instant from boors to soldiers, then sprang upon the rest of the
guard, overpowered and bound them, and took possession of the gate.  A
considerable force, which had been placed in ambush by Prince Maurice
near the spot, now rushed forward, and in a few minutes the great fort of
Zutphen was mastered by the States' forces without loss of a man.  It was
a neat and perfectly successful stratagem.

Next day Maurice began the regular investment of the city.  On the 26th,
Count Lewis William arrived with some Frisian companies.  On the 27th,
Maurice threw a bridge of boats from the Badmeadow side, across the river
to the Weert before the city.  On the 28th he had got batteries, mounting
thirty-two guns, into position, commanding the place at three points.  On
the 30th the town capitulated.  Thus within exactly one week from the
firing of the pistol shot by the supposed butterwoman, this fort and
town, which had so long resisted the efforts of the States, and were such
important possessions of the Spaniards, fell into the hands of Maurice.
The terms of surrender were easy.  The city being more important than
its garrison, the soldiers were permitted to depart with bag and baggage.
The citizens were allowed three days to decide whether to stay under
loyal obedience to the States-General, or to take their departure.
Those who chose to remain were to enjoy all the privileges of citizens
of the United Provinces.

But very few substantial citizens were left, for such had been the
tyranny, the misery, and the misrule during the long occupation by a
foreign soldiery of what was once a thriving Dutch town, that scarcely
anybody but paupers and vagabonds were left.  One thousand houses were
ruined and desolate.  It is superfluous to add that the day of its
restoration to the authority of the Union was the beginning of its
renewed prosperity.

Maurice, having placed a national garrison in the place, marched the same
evening straight upon Deventer, seven miles farther down the river,
without pausing to sleep upon his victory.  His artillery and munitions
were sent rapidly down the Yssel.

Within five days he had thoroughly invested the city, and brought twenty-
eight guns to bear upon the weakest part of its defences.

It was a large, populous, well-built town, once a wealthy member of the
Hanseatic League, full of fine buildings, both public and private, the
capital of the rich and fertile province of Overyssel, and protected by a
strong wall and moat--as well-fortified a place as could be found in the
Netherlands.  The garrison consisted of fourteen hundred Spaniards and
Walloons, under the command of Count Herman van den Berg, first cousin of
Prince Maurice.

No sooner had the States army come before the city than a Spanish captain
observed--"We shall now have a droll siege--cousins on the outside,
cousins on the inside.  There will be a sham fight or two, and then the
cousins will make it up, and arrange matters to suit themselves."

Such hints had deeply wounded Van den Berg, who was a fervent Catholic,
and as loyal a servant to Philip II. as he could have been, had that
monarch deserved, by the laws of nature and by his personal services and
virtues, to govern all the swamps of Friesland.  He slept on the gibe,
having ordered all the colonels and captains of the garrison to attend at
solemn mass in the great church the next morning.  He there declared to
them all publicly that he felt outraged at the suspicions concerning his
fidelity, and after mass he took the sacrament, solemnly swearing never
to give up the city or even to speak of it until he had made such
resistance that he must be carried from the breach.  So long as he could
stand or sit he would defend the city entrusted to his care.

The whole council who had come from Zutphen to Maurice's camp were
allowed to deliberate concerning the siege.  The, enemy had been seen
hovering about the neighbourhood in considerable numbers, but had not
ventured an attempt to throw reinforcements into the place.  Many of the
counsellors argued against the siege.  It was urged that the resistance
would be determined and protracted, and that the Duke of Parma was sure
to take the field in person to relieve so important a city, before its
reduction could be effected.

But Maurice had thrown a bridge across the Yssel above, and another below
the town, had carefully and rapidly taken measures in the success of
which he felt confident, and now declared that it would be cowardly and
shameful to abandon an enterprise so well begun.

The city had been formally summoned to surrender, and a calm but most
decided refusal had been returned.

On the 9th June the batteries began playing, and after four thousand six
hundred shots a good breach had been effected in the defences along the
Kaye--an earthen work lying between two strong walls of masonry.

The breach being deemed practicable, a storm was ordered.  To reach the
Kaye it was necessary to cross a piece of water called the Haven, over
which a pontoon bridge was hastily thrown.  There was now a dispute among
the English, Scotch, and Netherlanders for precedence in the assault.
It was ultimately given to the English, in order that the bravery of that
nation might now on the same spot wipe out the disgrace inflicted upon
its name by the treason of Sir William Stanley.  The English did their
duty well and rushed forward merrily, but the bridge proved too short.
Some sprang over and pushed boldly for the breach.  Some fell into the
moat and were drowned.  Others, sustained by the Netherlanders under
Solms, Meetkerke, and Brederode, effected their passage by swimming,
leaping, or wading, so that a resolute attack was made.  Herman van den
Berg met them in the breach at the head of seven companies.  The
defenders were most ferocious in their resistance.  They were also very
drunk.  The count had placed many casks of Rhenish and of strong beer
within reach, and ordered his soldiers to drink their fill as they
fought.  He was himself as vigorous in his potations as he was chivalrous
with sword and buckler.  Two pages and two lieutenants fell at his side,
but still he fought at the head of his men with a desperation worthy of
his vow, until he fell wounded in the eye and was carried from the place.
Notwithstanding this disaster to the commander of the town, the
assailants were repulsed, losing two hundred-and twenty-five in killed
and wounded--Colonel Meetkerke and his brother, two most valuable Dutch
officers, among them.

During the whole of the assault, a vigorous cannonade had been kept up
upon other parts of the town, and houses and church-towers were toppling
down in all directions.  Meanwhile the inhabitants--for it was Sunday--
instead of going to service were driven towards the breach by the
serjeant-major, a truculent Spaniard, next in command to Van den Berg,
who ran about the place with a great stick, summoning the Dutch burghers
to assist the Spanish garrison on the wall.  It was thought afterwards
that this warrior would have been better occupied among the soldiers, at
the side of his commander.

A chivalrous incident in the open field occurred during the assault.
A gigantic Albanian cavalry officer came prancing out of Deventer into
the spaces between the trenches, defying any officer in the States' army
to break a lance with him.  Prince Maurice forbade any acceptance of the
challenge, but Lewis van der Cathulle, son of the famous Ryhove of Ghent,
unable to endure the taunts and bravado of this champion, at last
obtained permission to encounter him in single combat.  They met
accordingly with much ceremony, tilted against each other, and shivered
their lances in good style, but without much effect.  The Albanian then
drew a pistol.  Cathulle had no weapon save a cutlass, but with this
weapon he succeeded in nearly cutting off the hand which held the pistol.
He then took his enemy prisoner, the vain-glorious challenger throwing
his gold chain around his conqueror's neck in token of his victory.
Prince Maurice caused his wound to be bound up and then liberated him,
sending him into the city with a message to the governor.

During the following night the bridge, over which the  assailants had
nearly forced their way into the town, was vigorously attacked by the
garrison, but Count Lewis William, in person, with a chosen band defended
it stoutly till morning, beating back the Spaniards with heavy loss in a
sanguinary midnight contest.

Next morning there was a unanimous outcry on the part of the besieged for
a capitulation.  It was obvious that, with the walls shot to ruins as
they had been, the place was no longer tenable against Maurice's superior
forces.  A trumpet was sent to the prince before the dawn of day, and on
the 10th of June, accordingly, the place capitulated.

It was arranged that the garrison should retire with arms and baggage
whithersoever they chose.  Van den Berg stipulated nothing in favour of
the citizens, whether through forgetfulness or spite does not distinctly
appear.  But the burghers were received like brothers.  No plunder was
permitted, no ransom demanded, and the city took its place among its
sisterhood of the United Provinces.

Van den Berg himself was received at the prince's head, quarters with
much cordiality.  He was quite blind; but his wound seemed to be the
effect of exterior contusions, and he ultimately recovered the sight of
one eye.  There was mach free conversation between himself and his
cousins during the brief interval in which he was their guest.

"I've often told Verdugo," said he, "that the States had no power to make
a regular siege, nor to come with proper artillery into the field, and he
agreed with me.  But we were both wrong, for I now see the contrary."

To which Count Lewis William replied with a laugh: "My dear cousin, I've
observed that in all your actions you were in the habit of despising us
Beggars, and I have said that you would one day draw the shortest straw
in consequence.  I'm glad to hear this avowal from your own lips."
Herman attempted no reply but let the subject drop, seeming to regret
having said so much.

Soon afterwards he was forwarded by Maurice in his own coach to Ulff,
where he was attended by the prince's body physician till he was re-
established in health.

Thus within ten days of his first appearance before its walls, the city
of Deventer, and with it a whole province, had fallen into the hands of
Maurice.  It began to be understood that the young pedant knew something
about his profession, and that he had not been fagging so hard at the
science of war for nothing.

The city was in a sorry plight when the States took possession of it.
As at Zutphen, the substantial burghers had wandered away, and the
foreign soldiers bivouacking there so long had turned the stately old
Hanseatic city into a brick and mortar wilderness.  Hundreds of houses
had been demolished by the garrison, that the iron might be sold and the
woodwork burned for fuel; for the enemy had conducted himself as if
feeling in his heart that the occupation could not be a permanent one,
and as if desirous to make the place as desolate as possible for the
Beggars when they should return.

The dead body of the traitor York, who had died and been buried in
Deventer, was taken from the tomb, after the capture of the city, and
with the vulgar ferocity so characteristic of the times, was hung, coffin
and all, on the gibbet for the delectation of the States' soldiery.

Maurice, having thus in less than three weeks recovered two most
important cities, paused not an instant in his career but moved at once
on Groningen.  There was a strong pressure put upon him to attempt the
capture of Nymegen, but the understanding with the Frisian stadholders
and his troops had been that the enterprise upon Groningen should follow
the reduction of Deventer.

On the 26th June Maurice appeared before Groningen.  Next day, as a
precautionary step, he moved to the right and attacked the strong city of
Delfzyl.  This place capitulated to him on the 2nd July.  The fort of
Opslag surrendered on the 7th July.  He then moved to the west of
Groningen, and attacked the forts of Yementil and Lettebaest, which fell
into his hands on the 11th July.  He then moved along the Nyenoort
through the Seven Wolds and Drenthe to Steenwyk, before which strongly
fortified city he arrived on the 15th July.

Meantime, he received intercepted letters from Verdugo to the Duke of
Parma, dated 19th June from Groningen.  In these, the Spanish stadholder
informed Farnese that the enemy was hovering about his neighbourhood, and
that it would be necessary for the duke to take the field in person in
considerable force, or that Groningen would be lost, and with it the
Spanish forces in the province.  He enclosed a memorial of the course
proper to be adopted by the duke for his relief.

Notwithstanding the strictness by which Philip had tied his great
general's hands, Farnese felt the urgency of the situation.  By the end
of June, accordingly, although full of his measures for marching to the
relief of the Leaguers in Normandy, he moved into Gelderland, coming by
way of Xanten, Rees, and neighbouring places.  Here he paused for a
moment perplexed, doubting whether to take the aggressive in Gelderland
or to march straight to the relief of Groningen.  He decided that it was
better for the moment to protect the line of the Waal.  Shipping his army
accordingly into the Batavian Island or Good-meadow (Bet-uwe), which lies
between the two great horns of the Rhine, he laid siege to Fort
Knodsenburg, which Maurice had built the year before, on the right bank
of the Waal for the purpose of attacking Nymegen.  Farnese, knowing that
the general of the States was occupied with his whole army far away to
the north, and separated from him by two great rivers, wide and deep, and
by the whole breadth of that dangerous district called the Foul-meadow
(Vel-uwe), and by the vast quagmire known as the Rouvenian morass, which
no artillery nor even any organised forces had ever traversed since the
beginning of the world, had felt no hesitation in throwing his army in
boats across the Waal.  He had no doubt of reducing a not very powerful
fortress long before relief could be brought to it, and at the same time
of disturbing by his presence in Batavia the combinations of his young
antagonist in Friesland and Groningen.

So with six thousand foot and one thousand horse, Alexander came before
Knodsenburg.  The news reached Maurice at Steenwyk on the 15th July.
Instantly changing his plans, the prince decided that Farnese must be
faced at once, and, if possible, driven from the ground, thinking it more
important to maintain, by concentration, that which had already been
gained, than to weaken and diffuse his forces in insufficient attempts to
acquire more.  Before two days had passed, he was on the march southward,
having left Lewis William with a sufficient force to threaten Groningen.
Coming by way of Hasselt Zwol to Deventer, he crossed the Yssel on a
bridge of boats on the 18th of July, 1591 and proceeded to Arnhem.
His army, although excessively fatigued by forced marches in very hot
weather, over nearly impassable roads, was full of courage and
cheerfulness, having learned implicit confidence in their commander.
On the 20th he was at Arnhem.  On the 22nd his bridge of boats was made,
and he had thrown his little army across the Rhine into Batavia, and
entrenched himself with his six thousand foot and fourteen hundred horse
in the immediate neighbourhood of Farnese--Foul-meadow and Good-meadow,
dyke, bog, wold, and quagmire, had been successfully traversed, and
within one week of his learning that the great viceroy of Philip had
reached the Batavian island, Maurice stood confronting that famous
chieftain in battle-array.

On the 22nd July, Farnese, after firing two hundred and eighty-five shots
at Fort Knodsenburg, ordered an assault, expecting that so trifling a
work could hardly withstand a determined onslaught by his veterans.
To his surprise they were so warmly received that two hundred of the
assailants fell at the first onset, and the attack was most conclusively
repulsed.

And now Maurice had appeared upon the scene, determined to relieve a
place so important for his ulterior designs.  On the 24th July he sent
out a small but picked force of cavalry to reconnoitre the enemy.  They
were attacked by a considerable body of Italian and Spanish horse from
the camp before Knodsenburg, including Alexander's own company of lancers
under Nicelli.  The States troops fled before them in apparent dismay for
a little distance, hotly pursued by the royalists, until, making a sudden
halt, they turned to the attack, accompanied by five fresh companies of
cavalry and a thousand musketeers, who fell upon the foe from all
directions.  It was an ambush, which had been neatly prepared by Maurice
in person, assisted by Sir Francis Vere.  Sixty of the Spaniards and
Italians were killed and one hundred and fifty prisoners, including
Captain Nicelli, taken, while the rest of the party sought safety in
ignominious flight.  This little skirmish, in which ten companies of the
picked veterans of Alexander Farnese had thus been utterly routed before
his eyes, did much to inspire the States troops with confidence in
themselves and their leader.

Parma was too experienced a campaigner, and had too quick an eye, not to
recognise the error which he had committed in placing the dangerous river
Waal, without a bridge; between himself and his supplies.  He had not
dreamed that his antagonist would be capable of such celerity of movement
as he had thus displayed, and his first business now was to extricate
himself from a position which might soon become fatal.  Without
hesitation, he did his best to amuse the enemy in front of the fort, and
then passed the night in planting batteries upon the banks of the river,
under cover of which he succeeded next day in transporting in ferry-boats
his whole force, artillery and: baggage, to the opposite shore, without
loss, and with his usual skill.

He remained but a short time in Nymegen, but he was hampered by the
express commands of the king.  Moreover, his broken health imperatively
required that he should once more seek the healing influence of the
waters of Spa, before setting forth on his new French expedition.
Meanwhile, although he had for a time protected the Spanish possessions
in the north by his demonstration in Gelderland, it must be confessed
that the diversion thus given to the plans of Maurice was but a feeble
one.

Having assured the inhabitants of Nymegen that he would watch over the
city like the apple of, his eye, he took his departure on the 4th of
August for Spa.  He was accompanied on his journey by his son, Prince
Ranuccio, just arrived from Italy.

After the retreat of Farnese, Maurice mustered his forces at Arnhem, and
found himself at the head of seven thousand foot and fifteen hundred
horse.  It was expected by all the world that, being thus on the very
spot, he would forthwith proceed to reduce the ancient, wealthy, imperial
city of Nynegen.  The garrison and burghers accordingly made every
preparation to resist the attack, disconcerted as they were, however,
by the departure of Parma, and by the apparent incapacity of Verdugo to
bring them effectual relief.

But to the surprise of all men, the States forces suddenly disappeared
from the scene, having been, as it were, spirited away by night-time,
along those silent watery highways and crossways of canal, river, and
estuary--the military advantages of which to the Netherlands, Maurice was
the first thoroughly to demonstrate.  Having previously made great
preparations of munitions and provisions in Zeeland, the young general,
who was thought hard at work in Gelderland, suddenly presented himself
on the 19th September, before the gates of Hulst, on the border of
Zeeland and Brabant.

It was a place of importance from its situation, its possession by the
enemy being a perpetual thorn in the side of the States, and a constant
obstacle to the plans of Maurice.  His arrangements having been made with
the customary, neatness, celerity, and completeness, he received the
surrender of the city on the fifth day after his arrival.

Its commander, Castillo, could offer no resistance; and was subsequently,
it is said, beheaded by order of the Duke of Parma for his negligence.
The place is but a dozen miles from Antwerp, which city was at the very,
moment keeping great holiday and outdoing itself in magnificent festivals
in honour of young Ranuccio.  The capture of Hulst before his eyes was a
demonstration quite unexpected by the prince, and great was the wrath of
old Mondragon, governor of Antwerp, thus bearded in his den.  The veteran
made immediate preparations for chastising the audacious Beggars of
Zeeland and their, pedantic young commander, but no sooner had the
Spaniards taken the field than the wily foe had disappeared as magically
as he had come.

The Flemish earth seemed to have bubbles as the water hath, and while
Mondragon was beating the air in vain on the margin of the Scheld,
Maurice was back again upon the Waal, horse, foot, and artillery, bag,
baggage, and munition, and had fairly set himself down in earnest to
besiege Nymegen, before the honest burghers and the garrison had finished
drawing long breaths at their recent escape.  Between the 14th and 16th
October he had bridged the deep, wide, and rapid river, had transported
eight thousand five hundred infantry and, sixteen companies of cavalry to
the southern side, had entrenched his camp and made his approaches, and
had got sixty-eight pieces of artillery into three positions commanding
the weakest part of the defences of the city between the Falcon Tower and
the Hoender gate.  The fort of Knodsenburg was also ready to throw hot
shot across the river into the town.  Not a detail in all these
preparations escaped the vigilant eye of the Commander-in-Chief, and
again and again was he implored not so recklessly to expose a life
already become precious to his country.  On the 20th October, Maurice
sent to demand the surrender of the city.  The reply was facetious but
decisive.

The prince was but a young suitor, it was said, and the city a spinster
not so lightly to be won.  A longer courtship and more trouble would be
necessary.

Whereupon the suitor opened all his batteries without further delay, and
the spinster gave a fresh example of the inevitable fate of talking
castles and listening ladies.

Nymegen, despite her saucy answer on the 20th, surrendered on the 21st.
Relief was impossible.  Neither Parma, now on his way to France, nor
Verdugo, shut up in Friesland, could come to the rescue of the place,
and the combinations of Maurice were an inexorable demonstration.

The terms of the surrender were similar to those accorded to Zutphen and
Deventer.  In regard to the religious point it was expressly laid down by
Maurice that the demand for permission to exercise publicly the Roman
Catholic religion should be left to the decision of the States-General.

And thus another most important city had been added to the domains of the
republic.  Another triumph was inscribed on the record of the young
commander.  The exultation was very great throughout the United
Netherlands, and heartfelt was the homage rendered by all classes of his
countrymen to the son of William the Silent.

Queen Elizabeth wrote to congratulate him in warmest terms on his great
successes, and even the Spaniards began to recognise the merits of the
new chieftain.  An intercepted letter from Verdugo, who had been foiled
in his efforts to arrest the career of Maurice, indicated great respect
for his prowess.  "I have been informed," said the veteran, "that Count
Maurice of Nassau wishes to fight me.  Had I the opportunity I assure you
that I should not fail him, for even if ill luck were my portion, I
should at least not escape the honour of being beaten by such a
personage.  I beg you to tell him so with my affectionate compliments.
Yours, FRANCIS VERDUGO."

These chivalrous sentiments towards Prince Maurice had not however
prevented Verdugo from doing his best to assassinate Count Lewis William.
Two Spaniards had been arrested in the States camp this summer, who came
in as deserters, but who confessed "with little, or mostly without
torture," that they had been sent by their governor and colonel with
instructions to seize a favourable opportunity to shoot Lewis William and
set fire to his camp.  But such practices were so common on the part of
the Spanish commanders as to occasion no surprise whatever.

It will be remembered that two years before, the famous Martin Schenk had
come to a tragic end at Nymegen.  He had been drowned, fished up, hanged,
drawn, and quartered; after which his scattered fragments, having been
exposed on all the principal towers of the city, had been put in
pickle and deposited in a chest.  They were now collected and buried
triumphantly in the tomb of the Dukes of Gelderland.  Thus the shade
of the grim freebooter was at last appeased.

The government of the city was conferred upon Count Lewis William, with
Gerard de Jonge as his lieutenant.  A substantial garrison was placed in
the city, and, the season now far advanced Maurice brought the military
operations of the year, saving a slight preliminary demonstration against
Gertruydenberg, to a close.  He had deserved and attained--considerable
renown.  He had astonished the leisurely war-makers and phlegmatic
veterans of the time, both among friends and foes, by the unexampled
rapidity of his movements and the concentration of his attacks.  He had
carried great waggon trains and whole parks of siege artillery--the
heaviest then known--over roads and swamps which had been deemed
impassable even for infantry.  He had traversed the length and breadth of
the republic in a single campaign, taken two great cities in Overyssel,
picked up cities and fortresses in the province of Groningen, and
threatened its capital, menaced Steenwyk, relieved Knodsenburg though
besieged in person by the greatest commander of the age, beaten the most
famous cavalry of Spain and Italy under the eyes of their chieftain,
swooped as it were through the air upon Brabant, and carried off an
important city almost in the sight of Antwerp, and sped back again in the
freezing weather of early autumn, with his splendidly served and
invincible artillery, to the imperial city of Nymegen, which Farnese had
sworn to guard like the apple of his eye, and which, with consummate
skill, was forced out of his grasp in five days.

"Some might attribute these things to blind fortune," says an honest
chronicler who had occupied important posts in the service of the prince
and of his cousin Lewis William, "but they who knew the prince's constant
study and laborious attention to detail, who were aware that he never
committed to another what he could do himself, who saw his sobriety,
vigilance, his perpetual study and holding of council with Count Lewis
William (himself possessed of all these good gifts, perhaps even in
greater degree), and who never found him seeking, like so many other
commanders, his own ease and comfort, would think differently."



CHAPTER XXV

     War in Brittany and Normandy--Death of La Noue--Religious and
     political persecution in Paris--Murder of President Brisson,
     Larcher, and Tardif--The sceptre of France offered to Philip--The
     Duke of Mayenne punishes the murderers of the magistrates--Speech of
     Henry's envoy to the States-General--Letter of Queen Elizabeth to
     Henry--Siege of Rouen--Farnese leads an army to its relief--The king
     is wounded in a skirmish--Siege of Rue by Farnese--Henry raises the
     siege of Rouen--Siege of Caudebec--Critical position of Farnese and
     his army--Victory of the Duke of Mercoeur in Brittany.

Again the central point towards which the complicated events to be
described in this history gravitate is found on the soil of France.
Movements apparently desultory and disconnected--as they may have seemed
to the contemporaneous observer, necessarily occupied with the local and
daily details which make up individual human life--are found to be
necessary parts of a whole, when regarded with that breadth and clearness
of vision which is permitted to human beings only when they can look
backward upon that long sequence of events which make up the life of
nations and which we call the Past.  It is only by the anatomical study
of what has ceased to exist that we can come thoroughly to comprehend the
framework and the vital conditions of that which lives.  It is only by
patiently lifting the shroud from the Past that we can enable ourselves
to make even wide guesses at the meaning of the dim Present and the
veiled Future.  It is only thus that the continuity of human history
reveals itself to us as the most important of scientific facts.

If ever commonwealth was apparently doomed to lose that national
existence which it had maintained for a brief period at the expense of
infinite sacrifice of blood and treasure, it was the republic of the
United Netherlands in the period immediately succeeding the death of
William the Silent.  Domestic treason, secession of important provinces,
religious-hatred, foreign intrigue, and foreign invasion--in such a sea
of troubles was the republic destined generations long to struggle.  Who
but the fanatical, the shallow-minded, or the corrupt could doubt the
inevitable issue of the conflict?  Did not great sages and statesmen
whose teachings seemed so much wiser in their generation than the
untaught impulses of the great popular heart, condemn over and over again
the hopeless struggles and the atrocious bloodshed which were thought to
disgrace the age, and by which it was held impossible that the cause of
human liberty should ever be advanced?

To us who look back from the vantage summit which humanity has reached--
thanks to the toil and sacrifices of those who have preceded us--it may
seem doubtful whether premature peace in the Netherlands, France, and
England would have been an unmitigated blessing, however easily it might
have been purchased by the establishment all over Europe of that holy
institution called the Inquisition, and by the tranquil acceptance of the
foreign domination of Spain.

If, too; ever country seemed destined to the painful process of national
vivisection and final dismemberment, it was France: Its natural guardians
and masters, save one, were in secret negotiation with foreign powers to
obtain with their assistance a portion of the national territory under
acknowledgment of foreign supremacy.  There was hardly an inch of French
soil that had not two possessors.  In Burgundy Baron Biron was battling
against the Viscount Tavannes; in the Lyonese and Dauphiny Marshal des
Digiueres was fighting with the Dukes of Savoy and Nemours; in Provence,
Epernon was resisting Savoy; in Languedoc, Constable Montmorency
contended with the Duke of Joyeuse; in Brittany, the Prince of Dombes was
struggling with the Duke of Mercoeur.

But there was one adventurer who thought he could show a better legal
title to the throne of France than all the doctors of the Sorbonne could
furnish to Philip II. and his daughter, and who still trusted, through
all the disasters which pursued him, and despite the machinations of
venal warriors and mendicant princes, to his good right and his good
sword, and to something more potent than both, the cause of national
unity.  His rebuke to the intriguing priests at the interview of St.
Denis, and his reference to the judgment of Solomon, formed the text to
his whole career.

The brunt of the war now fell upon Brittany and Normandy.  Three thousand
Spaniards under Don John de Aquila had landed in the port of Blavet which
they had fortified, as a stronghold on the coast.  And thither, to defend
the integrity of that portion of France, which, in Spanish hands, was a
perpetual menace to her realm, her crown, even to her life, Queen
Elizabeth had sent some three thousand Englishmen, under commanders well
known to France and the Netherlands.  There was black Norris again
dealing death among the Spaniards and renewing his perpetual squabbles
with Sir Roger Williams.  There was that doughty Welshman himself,
truculent and caustic as ever--and as ready with sword or pen, foremost
in every mad adventure or every forlorn hope, criticising with sharpest
tongue the blunders and shortcomings of friend and foe, and devoting the
last drop in his veins with chivalrous devotion to his Queen.  "The world
cannot deny," said he, "that any carcase living ventured himself freer
and oftener for his prince, state, and friends than I did mine.  There is
no more to be had of a poor beast than his skin, and for want of other
means I never respected mine in the least respect towards my sovereign's
service, or country."  And so passing his life in the saddle and under
fire, yet finding leisure to collect the materials for, and to complete
the execution of, one of the most valuable and attractive histories of
the age, the bold Welshman again and again appears, wearing the same
humorous but truculent aspect that belonged to him when he was wont to
run up and down in a great morion and feathers on Flemish battlefields,
a mark for the Spanish sharpshooters.

There, too, under the banner of the Bearnese, that other historian of
those sanguinary times, who had fought on almost every battle-field where
tyranny and liberty had sought to smite each other dead, on French or
Flemish soil, and who had prepared his famous political and military
discourses in a foul dungeon swarming with toads and rats and other
villainous reptiles to which the worse than infernal tyranny of Philip
II. had consigned him for seven years long as a prisoner of war--the
brave and good La Noue, with the iron arm, hero of a hundred combats,
was fighting his last fight.  At the siege of Lamballe in Brittany, he
had taken off his calque and climbed a ladder to examine the breach
effected by the batteries.  An arquebus shot from the town grazed his
forehead, and, without inflicting a severe wound, stunned him so much
that he lost his balance and fell head foremost towards the ground; his
leg, which had been wounded at the midnight assault upon Paris, where he
stood at the side of King Henry, caught in the ladder and held him
suspended.  His head was severely bruised, and the contusions and shock
to his war-worn frame were so great that he died after lingering eighteen
days.

His son de Teligny; who in his turn had just been exchanged and released
from the prison where he had lain since his capture before Antwerp, had
hastened with joy to join his father in the camp, but came to close his
eyes.  The veteran caused the chapter in Job on the resurrection of the
body to be read to him on his death-bed, and died expressing his firm
faith in a hereafter.  Thus passed away, at the age of sixty, on the 4th
August, 1591, one of the most heroic spirits of France.  Prudence,
courage, experience, military knowledge both theoretic and practical,
made him one of the first captains of the age, and he was not more
distinguished for his valour than for the purity of his life, and the
moderation, temperance, and justice of his character.  The Prince of
Dombes, in despair at his death, raised the siege of Lamballe.

There was yet another chronicler, fighting among the Spaniards, now in
Brittany, now in Normandy, and now in Flanders, and doing his work as
thoroughly with his sword as afterwards with his pen, Don Carlos Coloma,
captain of cavalry, afterwards financier, envoy, and historian.  For it
was thus that those writers prepared themselves for their work.  They
were all actors in the great epic, the episodes of which they have
preserved.  They lived and fought, and wrought and suffered and wrote.
Rude in tongue; aflame with passion, twisted all awry by prejudice,
violent in love and hate, they have left us narratives which are at
least full of colour and thrilling with life.

Thus Netherlanders, Englishmen, and Frenchmen were again mingling their
blood and exhausting their energies on a hundred petty battle-fields of
Brittany and Normandy; but perhaps to few of those hard fighters was it
given to discern the great work which they were slowly and painfully
achieving.

In Paris the League still maintained its ascendancy.  Henry, having again
withdrawn from his attempts to reduce the capital, had left the sixteen
tyrants who governed it more leisure to occupy themselves with internal
politics.  A network of intrigue was spread through the whole atmosphere
of the place.  The Sixteen, sustained by the power of Spain and Rome, and
fearing nothing so much as the return of peace, by which their system of
plunder would come to an end, proceeded with their persecution of all
heretics, real or supposed, who were rich enough to offer a reasonable
chance of spoil.  The soul of all these intrigues was the new legate,
Sego, bishop of Piacenza.  Letters from him to Alexander Farnese,
intercepted by Henry, showed a determination to ruin the Duke of Mayenne
and Count Belin governor of Paris, whom he designated as Colossus and
Renard, to extirpate the magistrates, and to put Spanish partizans in
their places, and in general to perfect the machinery by which the
authority of Philip was to be established in France.  He was perpetually
urging upon that monarch the necessity of spending more money among his
creatures in order to carry out these projects.

Accordingly the attention of the Sixteen had been directed to President
Brisson, who had already made himself so dangerously conspicuous by his
resistance to the insolent assumption of the cardinal-legate.  This
eminent juris-consult had succeeded Pomponne de Bellievre as first
president of the Parliament of Paris.  He had been distinguished for
talent, learning, and eloquence as an advocate; and was the author of
several important legal works.  His ambition to fill the place of first
president had caused him to remain in Paris after its revolt against
Henry III.  He was no Leaguer; and, since his open defiance of the ultra-
Catholic party, he had been a marked man--doomed secretly by the
confederates who ruled the capital.  He had fondly imagined that he could
govern the Parisian populace as easily as he had been in the habit of
influencing the Parliament or directing his clients.  He expected to
restore the city to its obedience to the constituted authorities.  He
hoped to be himself the means of bringing Henry IV. in triumph to the
throne of his ancestors.  He found, however, that a revolution was more
difficult to manage than a law case; and that the confederates of the
Holy League were less tractable than his clients had usually been found.

On the night of the 14th November; 1591; he was seized on the bridge St.
Michel, while on his way to parliament, and was told that he was expected
at the Hotel de Ville.  He was then brought to the prison of the little
Chatelet.

Hardly had he been made secure in the dimly-lighted dungeon, when Crome,
a leader among the Parisian populacey made his appearance, accompanied by
some of his confederates, and dressed in a complete suit of mail.  He
ordered the magistrate to take off his hat and to kneel.  He then read a
sentence condemning him to death.  Profoundly astonished, Brisson
demanded to know of what crime he was accused; and under what authority.
The answer was a laugh; and an assurance that he had no time to lose.
He then begged that at least he might be imprisoned long enough to enable
him to complete a legal work on which he was engaged, and which, by his
premature death, would be lost to the commonwealth.  This request
produced no doubt more merriment than his previous demands.  His judges
were inflexible; and allowed him hardly time to confess himself.  He was
then hanged in his dungeon.

Two other magistrates, Larcher and Tardif, were executed in the same
way, in the same place, and on the same night.  The crime charged against
them was having spoken in a public assembly somewhat freely against the
Sixteen, and having aided in the circulation in Paris of a paper drawn
up by the Duke of Nevers, filled with bitterness against the Lorraine
princes and the League, and addressed to the late Pope Sixtus.

The three bodies were afterwards gibbeted on the Greve in front of the
Hotel de Ville, and exposed for two days to the insults and fury of the
populace.

This was the culminating point of the reign of terror in Paris.  Never
had the sixteen tyrants; lords of the market halls, who governed the
capital by favour of and in the name of the populace, seemed more
omnipotent.  As representatives or plenipotentiaries of Madam League they
had laid the crown.  at the feet of the King of Spain, hoping by still
further drafts on his exchequer and his credulity to prolong indefinitely
their own ignoble reign.  The extreme democratic party, which had
hitherto supported the House of Lorraine and had seemed to idolize that
family in the person of the great Balafre, now believed themselves
possessed of sufficient power to control the Duke of Mayenne and all his
adherents.  They sent the Jesuit Claude Mathieu with a special memorial
to Philip II.  That monarch was implored to take, the sceptre of France,
and to reign over them, inasmuch as they most willingly threw themselves
into his arms?  They assured him that all reasonable people, and
especially the Holy League, wished him to take the reins of Government,
on condition of exterminating heresy throughout the kingdom by force of
arms, of publishing the Council of Trent, and of establishing everywhere
the Holy inquisition--an institution formidable only to the wicked and
desirable for the good.  It was suggested that Philip should not call
himself any longer King of Spain nor adopt the title of King of France,
but that he should proclaim himself the Great King, or make use of some
similar designation, not indicating any specialty but importing universal
dominion.

Should Philip, however, be disinclined himself to accept the monarchy,
it was suggested that the young Duke of Guise, son of the first martyr
of France, would be the most appropriate personage to be honoured with
the hand of the legitimate Queen of France, the Infanta Clara Isabella.

But the Sixteen were reckoning without the Duke of Mayenne.  That great
personage, although an indifferent warrior and an utterly unprincipled
and venal statesman, was by no means despicable as a fisherman in the
troubled waters of revolution.  He knew how to manage intrigues with both
sides for his own benefit.  Had he been a bachelor he might have obtained
the Infanta and shared her prospective throne.  Being encumbered with a
wife he had no hope of becoming the son-in-law of Philip, and was
determined that his nephew Guise should not enjoy a piece of good fortune
denied to himself.  The escape of the young duke from prison had been the
signal for the outbreak of jealousies between uncle and nephew, which
Parma and other agents had been instructed by their master to foster to
the utmost.  "They must be maintained in such disposition in regard to
me," he said, "that the one being ignorant of my relations to the other,
both may without knowing it do my will."

But Mayenne, in this grovelling career of self-seeking, in this perpetual
loading of dice and marking of cards, which formed the main occupation of
so many kings and princes of the period, and which passed for
Machiavellian politics, was a fair match for the Spanish king and his
Italian viceroy.  He sent President Jeannin on special mission to Philip,
asking for two armies, one to be under his command, the other under that
of Farnese, and assured him that he should be king himself, or appoint
any man he liked to the vacant throne.  Thus he had secured one hundred
thousand crowns a month to carry on his own game withal.  "The
maintenance of these two armies costs me 261,000 crowns a month," said
Philip to his envoy Ybarra.

And what was the result of all this expenditure of money, of all this
lying and counter-lying, of all this frantic effort on the part of the
most powerful monarch of the age to obtain property which did not belong
to him--the sovereignty of a great kingdom, stocked with a dozen millions
of human beings--of all this endless bloodshed of the people in the
interests of a high-born family or two, of all this infamous brokerage
charged by great nobles for their attempts to transfer kingdoms like
private farms from one owner to another?  Time was to show.  Meanwhile
men trembled at the name of Philip II., and grovelled before him as the
incarnation of sagacity, high policy, and king-craft.

But Mayenne, while taking the brokerage, was less anxious about the
transfer.  He had fine instinct enough to suspect that the Bearnese,
outcast though he seemed, might after all not be playing so desperate a
game against the League as it was the fashion to suppose.  He knew
whether or not Henry was likely to prove a more fanatical Huguenot in
1592 than he bad shown himself twenty years before at the Bartholomew
festival.  And he had wit enough to foresee that the "instruction" which
the gay free-thinker held so cautiously in his fingers might perhaps turn
out the trump card.  A bold, valorous Frenchman with a flawless title,
and washed whiter than snow by the freshet of holy water, might prove a
more formidable claimant to the allegiance of Frenchmen than a foreign
potentate, even though backed by all the doctors of the Sorbonne.

The murder of President Brisson and his colleagues by the confederates of
the sixteen quarters, was in truth the beginning of the end.  What seemed
a proof of supreme power was the precursor of a counter-revolution,
destined ere long to lead farther than men dreamed.  The Sixteen believed
themselves omnipotent.  Mayenne being in their power, it was for them to
bestow the crown at their will, or to hold it suspended in air as long as
seemed best to them.  They felt no doubt that all the other great cities
in the kingdom would follow the example of Paris.

But the lieutenant-general of the realm felt it time for him to show that
his authority was not a shadow--that he was not a pasteboard functionary
like the deceased cardinal-king, Charles X.  The letters entrusted by the
Sixteen to Claude Mathieu were intercepted by Henry, and, very probably,
an intimation of their contents was furnished to Mayenne.  At any rate,
the duke, who lacked not courage nor promptness when his own interests
were concerned, who felt his authority slipping away from him, now that
it seemed the object of the Spaniards to bind the democratic party to
themselves by a complicity in crime, hastened at once to Paris,
determined to crush these intrigues and to punish the murderers of the
judges.  The Spanish envoy Ybarra, proud, excitable, violent, who had
been privy to the assassinations, and was astonished that the deeds had
excited indignation and fury instead of the terror counted upon,
remonstrated with Mayenne, intimating that in times of civil commotion it
was often necessary to be blind and deaf.

In vain.  The duke carried it with a high and firm hand.  He arrested the
ringleaders, and hanged four of them in the basement of the Louvre within
twenty days after the commission of their crime.  The energy was well-
timed and perfectly successful.  The power of the Sixteen was struck to
the earth at a blow.  The ignoble tyrants became  in a moment as
despicable as they had been formidable and insolent.  Crome, more
fortunate than many of his fellows, contrived to make his escape
out of the kingdom.

Thus Mayenne had formally broken with the democratic party, so called-
with the market-halls oligarchy.  In thus doing, his ultimate rupture
with the Spaniards was foreshadowed.  The next combination for him to
strive for would be one to unite the moderate Catholics and the Bearnese.
Ah! if Henry would but "instruct" himself out of hand, what a game the
duke might play!

The burgess-party, the mild royalists, the disgusted portion of the
Leaguers, coalescing with those of the Huguenots whose fidelity might
prove stanch even against the religious apostasy contemplated by their
chief--this combination might prove an over-match for the ultra-leaguers,
the democrats, and the Spaniards.  The king's name would be a tower of
strength for that "third party," which began to rear its head very boldly
and to call itself "Politica."  Madam League might succumb to this new
rival in the fickle hearts of the French.

At the beginning of the year 1591; Buzanval had presented his credentials
to the States-General at the Hague as envoy of Henry IV.  In the speech
which he made on this occasion he expressed the hope that the mission of
the Viscount Turenne, his Majesty's envoy to England and to the
Netherlands, had made known the royal sentiments towards the States and
the great satisfaction of the king with their energetic sympathy and
assistance.  It was notorious, said Buzanval, that the King of Spain for
many years had been governed by no other motive than to bring all the
rest of Christendom under his dominion, while at the same time he forced
upon those already placed under his sceptre a violent tyranny, passing
beyond all the bounds that God, nature, and reason had set to lawful
forms of government.  In regard to nations born under other laws than
his, he had used the pretext of religion for reducing them to servitude.
The wars stirred up by his family in Germany, and his recent invasion of
England, were proofs of this intention, still fresh in the memory of all
men.  Still more flagrant were his machinations in the present troubles
of France.  Of his dealings with his hereditary realms, the condition of
the noble provinces of the Netherlands, once so blooming under reasonable
laws, furnished, a sufficient illustration.  You see, my masters,
continued the envoy, the subtle plans of the Spanish king and his
counsellors to reach with certainty the object of their ambition.
They have reflected that Spain, which is the outermost corner of Europe,
cannot conveniently make war upon other Christian realms.  They have seen
that a central position is necessary to enable them to stretch their arms
to every side.  They have remembered that princes who in earlier days
were able to spread their wings over all Christendom had their throne in
France, like Charles the Great and his descendants.  Therefore the king
is now earnestly bent on seizing this occasion to make himself master of
France.  The death of the late king (Henry III.) had no sooner occurred,
than--as the blood through great terror rushes from the extremities and
overflows the heart--they here also, fearing to lose their opportunity
and astonished at the valour of our present king, abandoned all their
other enterprises in order to pour themselves upon France.

Buzanval further reminded the States that Henry had received the most
encouraging promises from the protestant princes of Germany, and that so
great a personage as the Viscount Turenne, who had now gone thither to
reap the fruit of those promises, would not have been sent on such a
mission except that its result was certain.  The Queen of England, too,
had promised his Majesty most liberal assistance.

It was not necessary to argue as to the close connection between the
cause of the Netherlands and that of France.  The king had beaten down
the mutiny of his own subjects, and repulsed the invasion of the Dukes of
Savoy and of Lorraine.  In consideration of the assistance promised by
Germany and England--for a powerful army would be at the command of Henry
in the spring--it might be said that the Netherlands might repose for a
time and recruit their exhausted energies, under the shadow of these
mighty preparations.

"I do not believe, however," said the minister, "that you will all answer
me thus.  The faint-hearted and the inexperienced might flatter
themselves with such thoughts, and seek thus to cover their cowardice,
but the zealous and the courageous will see that it is time to set sail
on the ship, now that the wind is rising so freshly and favourably.

"For there are many occasions when an army might be ruined for want of
twenty thousand crowns.  What a pity if a noble edifice, furnished to the
roof-tree, should fall to decay for want of a few tiles.  No doubt your
own interests are deeply connected with our own.  Men may say that our
proposals should be rejected on the principle that the shirt is nearer
to the skin than the coat, but it can be easily proved that our cause
is one.  The mere rumour of this army will prevent the Duke of Parma from
attacking you.  His forces will be drawn to France.  He will be obliged
to intercept the crash of this thunderbolt.  The assistance of this army
is worth millions to you, and has cost you nothing.  To bring France into
hostility with Spain is the very policy that you have always pursued and
always should pursue in order to protect your freedom.  You have always
desired a war between France and Spain, and here is a fierce and cruel
one in which you have hazarded nothing.  It cannot come to an end without
bringing signal advantages to yourselves.

"You have always desired an alliance with a French sovereign, and here is
a firm friendship offered you by our king, a natural alliance.

"You know how unstable are most treaties that are founded on shifting
interests, and do not concern the freedom of bodies and souls.  The first
are written with pen upon paper, and are generally as light as paper.
They have no roots in the heart.  Those founded on mutual assistance on
trying occasions have the perpetual strength of nature.  They bring
always good and enduring fruit in a rich soil like the heart of our king;
that heart which is as beautiful and as pure from all untruth as the lily
upon his shield.

"You will derive the first profits from the army thus raised.  From the
moment of its mustering under a chief of such experience as Turenne, it
will absorb the whole attention of Spain, and will draw her thoughts from
the Netherlands to France."

All this and more in the same earnest manner did the envoy urge upon the
consideration of the States-General, concluding with a demand of 100,000
florins as their contribution towards the French campaign.

His eloquence did not fall upon unwilling ears; for the States-General,
after taking time to deliberate, replied to the propositions by an
expression of the strongest sympathy with, and admiration for, the heroic
efforts of the King of France.  Accordingly, notwithstanding their own
enormous expenses, past and present, and their strenuous exertions at
that very moment to form an army of foot and horse for the campaign, the
brilliant results of which have already been narrated, they agreed to
furnish the required loan of 100,000 florins to be repaid in a year,
besides six or seven good ships of war to co-operate with the fleets of
England and France upon the coasts of Normandy.  And the States were
even better than their word.

Before the end of autumn of the year 1591, Henry had laid siege to Rouen,
then the second city of the kingdom.  To leave much longer so important a
place--dominating, as it did, not only Normandy but a principal portion
of the maritime borders of France--under the control of the League and of
Spain was likely to be fatal to Henry's success.  It was perfectly sound
in Queen Elizabeth to insist as she did, with more than her usual
imperiousness towards her excellent brother, that he should lose no more
time before reducing that city.  It was obvious that Rouen in the hands
of her arch-enemy was a perpetual menace to the safety of her own
kingdom.  It was therefore with correct judgment, as well as with that
high-flown gallantry so dear to the heart of Elizabeth, that her royal
champion and devoted slave assured her of his determination no longer to
defer obeying her commands in this respect.

The queen had repeatedly warned him of the necessity of defending the
maritime frontier of his kingdom, and she was not sparing of her
reproaches that the large sums which she expended in his cause had been
often ill bestowed.  Her criticisms on what she considered his military
mistakes were not few, her threats to withdraw her subsidies frequent.
"Owning neither the East nor the West Indies," she said, "we are unable
to supply the constant demands upon us; and although we have the
reputation of being a good housewife, it does not follow that we can be a
housewife for all the world."  She was persistently warning the king of
an attack upon Dieppe, and rebuking him for occupying himself with petty
enterprises to the neglect of vital points.  She expressed her surprise
that after the departure of Parma, he had not driven the Spaniards out of
Brittany, without allowing them to fortify themselves in that country.
"I am astonished," she said to him, "that your eyes are so blinded as not
to see this danger.  Remember, my dear brother," she frankly added, "that
it is not only France that I am aiding, nor are my own natural realms of
little consequence to me.  Believe me, if I see that you have no more
regard to the ports and maritime places nearest to us, it will be
necessary that my prayers should serve you in place of any other
assistance, because it does not please me to send my people to the
shambles where they may perish before having rendered you any assistance.
I am sure the Spaniards will soon besiege Dieppe.  Beware of it, and
excuse my bluntness, for if in the beginning you had taken the maritime
forts, which are the very gates of your kingdom, Paris would not have
been so well furnished, and other places nearer the heart of the kingdom
would not have received so much foreign assistance, without which the
others would have soon been vanquished.  Pardon my simplicity as
belonging to my own sex wishing to give a lesson to one who knows better,
but my experience in government makes me a little obstinate in believing
that I am not ignorant of that which belongs to a king, and I persuade
myself that in following my advice you will not fail to conquer your
assailants."

Before the end of the year Henry had obtained control of the, Seine, both
above and below the city, holding Pont de l'Arche on the north--where was
the last bridge across the river; that of Rouen, built by the English
when they governed Normandy, being now in ruins--and Caudebec on the
south in an iron grasp.  Several war-vessels sent by the Hollanders,
according to the agreement with Buzanval, cruised in the north of the
river below Caudebec, and rendered much service to the king in cutting
off supplies from the beleaguered place, while the investing army of
Henry, numbering twenty-five thousand foot--inclusive of the English
contingent, and three thousand Netherlanders--and ten thousand cavalry,
nearly all French, was fast reducing the place to extremities.

Parma, as usual, in obedience to his master's orders, but entirely
against his own judgment, had again left the rising young general of the
Netherlands to proceed from one triumph to another, while he transferred
beyond the borders of that land which it was his first business to
protect, the whole weight of his military genius and the better portion
of his well disciplined forces.

Most bitterly and indignantly did he express himself, both at the outset
and during the whole progress of the expedition, concerning the utter
disproportions between the king's means and aims.  The want of money was
the cause of wholesale disease, desertion, mutiny, and death in his
slender army.

Such great schemes as his master's required, as he perpetually urged,
liberality of expenditure and measures of breadth.  He protested that he
was not to blame for the ruin likely to come upon the whole enterprise.
He had besought, remonstrated, reasoned with the king in vain.  He had
seen his beard first grow, he said, in the king's service, and he had
grown gray in that service, but rather than be kept longer in such a
position, without money, men, or means to accomplish the great purposes
on which he was sent, he protested that he would "abandon his office and
retire into the woods to feed on roots."  Repeatedly did he implore his
master for a large and powerful army; for money and again money.  The
royal plans should be enforced adequately or abandoned entirely.  To
spend money in small sums, as heretofore, was only throwing it into the
sea.

It was deep in the winter however before he could fairly come to the
rescue of the besieged city.  Towards the end of January, 1592, he moved
out of Hainault, and once more made his junction at Guise with the Duke
of Mayenne.  At a review of his forces on 16th January, 1592, Alexander
found himself at the head of thirteen thousand five hundred and sixteen
infantry and four thousand and sixty-one cavalry.  The Duke of Mayenne's
army, for payment of which that personage received from Philip 100,000
dollars a month, besides 10,000 dollars a month for his own pocket, ought
to have numbered ten thousand foot and three thousand horse, according to
contract, but was in reality much less.

The Duke of Montemarciano, nephew of Gregory XIV., had brought two
thousand Swiss, furnished by the pontiff to the cause of the League,
and the Duke of Lorraine had sent his kinsmen, the Counts Chaligny and
Vaudemont, with a force of seven hundred lancers and cuirassiers.

The town of Fere was assigned in pledge to Farnese to hold as a
convenient: mustering-place and station in proximity to his own borders,
and, as usual, the chief command over the united armies was placed in his
hands.  These arrangements concluded, the allies moved slowly forward
much in the same order as in the previous year.  The young Duke of Guise,
who had just made his escape from the prison of Tours, where he had been
held in durance since the famous assassination of his father and uncle,
and had now come to join his uncle Mayenne, led the vanguard.  Ranuccio,
son of the duke, rode also in the advance, while two experienced
commanders, Vitry and De la Chatre, as well as the famous Marquis del
Vasto, formerly general of cavalry in the Netherlands, who had been
transferred to Italy but was now serving in the League's army as a
volunteer, were associated with the young princes.  Parma, Mayenne, and
Montemarciano rode in the battalia, the rear being under command of the
Duke of Aumale and the Count Chaligny.  Wings of cavalry protected the
long trains of wagons which were arranged on each flank of the invading
army.  The march was very slow, a Farnese's uniform practice to guard
himself scrupulously against any possibility of surprise and to entrench
himself thoroughly at nightfall.

By the middle of February they reached the vicinity of Aumale in Picardy.
Meantime Henry, on the news of the advance of the relieving army, had
again the same problem to solve that had been presented to him before
Paris in the summer of 1590.  Should he continue in the trenches,
pressing more and more closely the city already reduced to great straits?
Should he take the open field against the invaders and once more attempt
to crush the League and its most redoubtable commander in a general
engagement?  Biron strenuously advised the continuance of the siege.
Turenne, now, through his recent marriage with the heiress, called Duc
de Bouillon, great head of the Huguenot party in France, counselled as
warmly the open attack.  Henry, hesitating more than was customary with
him, at last decided on a middle course.  The resolution did not seem a
very wise one, but the king, who had been so signally out-generalled in
the preceding campaign by the great Italian, was anxious to avoid his
former errors, and might perhaps fall into as great ones by attempting
two inconsistent lines of action.  Leaving Biron in command of the
infantry and a portion of the horse to continue the siege, he took the
field himself with the greater part of the cavalry, intending to
intercept and harass the enemy and to prevent his manifest purpose of
throwing reinforcements and supplies into the invested city.

Proceeding to Neufchatel and Aumale, he soon found himself in the
neighbourhood of the Leaguers, and it was not long before skirmishing
began.  At this time, on a memorable occasion, Henry, forgetting as
usual, in his eagerness for the joys of the combat that he was not a
young captain of cavalry with his spurs to win by dashing into every mad
adventure that might present itself, but a king fighting for his crown,
with the welfare of a whole people depending on his fortunes, thought
proper to place himself at the head of a handful of troopers to
reconnoitre in person the camp of the Leaguers.  Starting with five
hundred horse, and ordering Lavardin and Givry to follow with a larger
body, while the Dukes of Nevers and Longueville were to move out, should
it prove necessary, in force, the king rode forth as merrily as to a
hunting party, drove in the scouts and pickets of the confederated
armies, and, advancing still farther in his investigations, soon found
himself attacked by a cavalry force of the enemy much superior to his
own.  A skirmish began, and it was necessary for the little troop to beat
a hasty retreat, fighting as it ran.  It was not long before Henry was
recognised by the enemy, and the chase became all the more lively; George
Basti, the famous Albanian trooper, commanding the force which pressed
most closely upon the king.  The news spread to the camp of the League
that the Bearnese was the leader of the skirmishers.  Mayenne believed
it, and urged the instant advance of the flying squadron and of the whole
vanguard.  Farnese refused.  It was impossible that the king should be
there, he said, doing picket duty at the head of a company.  It was a
clumsy ambush to bring on a general engagement in the open field, and he
was not to be drawn out of his trenches into a trap by such a shallow
device.  A French captain, who by command of Henry had purposely allowed
himself to be taken, informed his captors that the skirmishers were in
reality supported by a heavy force of infantry.  This suggestion of the
ready Bearnese confirmed the doubts of Alexander.  Meantime the
skirmishing steeplechase went on before his eyes.  The king dashing down
a hill received an arquebus shot in his side, but still rode for his
life.  Lavardin and Givry came to the rescue, but a panic seized their
followers as the rumour flew that the king was mortally wounded--was
already dead--so that they hardly brought a sufficient force to beat back
the Leaguers.  Givry's horse was soon killed under him, and his own thigh
crushed; Lavardin was himself dangerously wounded.  The king was more
hard pressed than ever, men were falling on every side of him, when four
hundred French dragoons--as a kind of musketeers who rode on hacks to the
scene of action but did their work on foot, were called at that day--now
dismounted and threw themselves between Henry and his pursuers.  Nearly
every man of them laid down his life, but they saved the king's.  Their
vigorous hand to hand fighting kept off the assailants until Nevers and
Longueville received the king at the gates of Aumale with a force before
which the Leaguers were fain to retreat as rapidly as they had come.

In this remarkable skirmish of Aumale the opposite qualities of Alexander
and of Henry were signally illustrated.  The king, by his constitutional
temerity, by his almost puerile love of confronting danger for the
danger's sake, was on the verge of sacrificing himself with all the hopes
of his house and of the nobler portion of his people for an absolute
nothing; while the duke, out of his superabundant caution, peremptorily
refused to stretch out his hand and seize the person of his great enemy
when directly within his, grasp.  Dead or alive, the Bearnese was
unquestionably on that day in the power of Farnese, and with him the
whole issue of the campaign and of the war.  Never were the narrow limits
that separate valour on the one side and discretion on the other from
unpardonable lunacy more nearly effaced than on that occasion.'

When would such an opportunity occur again?

The king's wound proved not very dangerous, although for many days
troublesome, and it required, on account of his general state of health,
a thorough cure.  Meantime the royalists fell back from Aumale and
Neufchatel, both of which places were at once occupied by the Leaguers:
In pursuance of his original plan, the Duke of Parma advanced with his
customary steadiness and deliberation towards Rouen.  It was his
intention to assault the king's army in its entrenchments in combination
with a determined sortie to be made by the besieged garrison.  His
preparations for the attack were ready on the 26th February, when he
suddenly received a communication from De Villars, who had thus far most
ably and gallantly conducted the defence of the place, informing him that
it was no longer necessary to make a general attack.  On the day before
he had made a sally from the four gates of the city, had fallen upon the
besiegers in great force, had wounded Biron and killed six hundred of his
soldiers, had spiked several pieces of artillery and captured others
which he had successfully brought into the town, and had in short so
damaged the enemy's works and disconcerted him in all his plans, that he
was confident of holding the place longer than the king could afford to
stay in front of him.  All he wished was a moderate reinforcement of men
and munitions.  Farnese by no means sympathized with the confident tone
of Villars nor approved of his proposition.  He had come to relieve Rouen
and to raise the siege, and he preferred to do his work thoroughly.
Mayenne was however most heartily in favour of taking the advice of
Villars.  He urged that it was difficult for the Bearnese to keep an army
long in the field, still more so in the trenches.  Let them provide for
the immediate wants of the city; then the usual process of decomposition
would soon be witnessed in the ill-paid, ill-fed, desultory forces of the
heretic pretender.

Alexander deferred to the wishes of Mayenne, although against his better
judgment.  Eight hundred infantry, were successfully sent into Rouen.
The army of the League then countermarched into Picardy near the confines
of Artois.

They were closely followed by Henry at the head of his cavalry, and
lively skirmishes were of frequent occurrence.  In a military point of
view none of these affairs were of consequence, but there was one which
partook at once of the comic and the pathetic.  For it chanced that in a
cavalry action of more than common vivacity the Count Chaligny found
himself engaged in a hand to hand conflict with a very dashing swordsman,
who, after dealing and receiving many severe blows, at last succeeded in
disarming the count and taking him prisoner.  It was the fortune of war,
and, but a few days before, might have been the fate of the great Henry
himself.  But Chaligny's mortification at his captivity became intense
when he discovered that the knight to whom he had surrendered was no
other than the king's jester.  That he, a chieftain of the Holy League,
the long-descended scion of the illustrious house of Lorraine, brother of
the great Duke of Mercoeur, should become the captive of a Huguenot
buffoon seemed the most stinging jest yet perpetrated since fools had
come in fashion.  The famous Chicot--who was as fond of a battle as of a
gibe, and who was almost as reckless a rider as his master--proved on
this occasion that the cap and bells could cover as much magnanimity as
did the most chivalrous crest.  Although desperately wounded in the
struggle which had resulted in his triumph, he generously granted to the
Count his freedom without ransom.  The proud Lorrainer returned to his
Leaguers and the poor fool died afterwards of his wounds.

The army of the allies moved through Picardy towards the confines of
Artois, and sat down leisurely to beleaguer Rue, a low-lying place on the
banks and near the mouth of the Somme, the only town in the province
which still held for the king.  It was sufficiently fortified to
withstand a good deal of battering, and it certainly seemed mere trifling
for the great Duke of Parma to leave the Netherlands in such confusion,
with young Maurice of Nassau carrying everything before him, and to come
all the way into Normandy in order, with the united armies of Spain and
the League, to besiege the insignificant town of Rue.

And this was the opinion of Farnese, but he had chosen throughout the
campaign to show great deference to the judgment of Mayenne.  Meantime
the month of March wore away, and what had been predicted came to pass.
Henry's forces dwindled away as usual.  His cavaliers rode off to forage
for themselves, when their battles were denied them, and the king was now
at the head of not more than sixteen thousand foot and five thousand
horse.  On the other hand the Leaguers' army had been melting quite as
rapidly.  With the death of Pope Sfondrato, his nephew Montemarciano had
disappeared with his two thousand Swiss; while the French cavalry and
infantry, ill-fed and uncomfortable, were diminishing daily.  Especially
the Walloons, Flemings, and other Netherlanders of Parma's army, took
advantage of their proximity to the borders and escaped in large numbers
to their own homes.  It was but meagre and profitless campaigning on both
sides during those wretched months of winter and early spring, although
there was again an opportunity for Sir Roger Williams, at the head of two
hundred musketeers and one hundred and fifty pikemen, to make one of his
brilliant skirmishes under the eye of the Bearnese.  Surprised and
without armour, he jumped, in doublet and hose, on horseback, and led his
men merrily against five squadrons of Spanish and Italian horse, and six
companies of Spanish infantry; singled out and unhorsed the leader of the
Spanish troopers, and nearly cut off the head, of the famous Albanian
chief George Basti with one swinging blow of his sword.  Then, being
reinforced by some other English companies, he succeeded in driving the
whole body of Italians and Spaniards, with great loss, quite into their
entrenchments.  "The king doth commend him very highly," said Umton,
"and doth more than wonder at the valour of our nation.  I never heard
him give more honour to any service nor to any man than he doth to Sir
Roger Williams and the rest, whom he held as lost men, and for which he
has caused public thanks to be given to God."

At last Villars, who had so peremptorily rejected assistance at the end
of February, sent to say that if he were not relieved by the middle of
April he should be obliged to surrender the city.  If the siege were not
raised by the twentieth of the month he informed Parma, to his profound
astonishment, that Rouen would be in Henry's hands.

In effecting this result the strict blockade maintained by the Dutch
squadron at the mouth of the river, and the resolute manner in which
those cruisers dashed at every vessel attempting to bring relief to
Rouen, were mainly instrumental.  As usual with the stern Hollanders and
Zeelanders when engaged at sea with the Spaniards, it was war to the
knife.  Early in April twelve large vessels, well armed and manned,
attempted to break the blockade.  A combat ensued, at the end of which
eight of the Spanish ships were captured, two were sunk, and two were set
on fire in token of victory, every man on board of all being killed and
thrown into the sea.  Queen Elizabeth herself gave the first news of this
achievement to the Dutch envoy in London.  "And in truth," said he, "her
Majesty expressed herself, in communicating these tidings, with such
affection and extravagant joy to the glory and honour of our nation and
men-of-war's-men, that it wonderfully delighted me, and did me good into
my very heart to hear it from her."

Instantly Farnese set himself to the work which, had he followed his own
judgment, would already have been accomplished.  Henry with his cavalry
had established himself at Dieppe and Arques, within a distance of five
or six leagues from the infantry engaged in the siege of Rouen.
Alexander saw the profit to be derived from the separation between the
different portions of the enemy's forces, and marched straight upon the
enemy's entrenchments.  He knew the disadvantage of assailing a strongly
fortified camp, but believed that by a well-concerted, simultaneous
assault by Villars from within and the Leaguers from without, the king's
forces would be compelled to raise the siege or be cut up in their
trenches.

But Henry did not wait for the attack.  He had changed his plan, and,
for once in his life, substituted extreme caution for his constitutional
temerity.  Neither awaiting the assault upon his entrenchments nor
seeking his enemy in the open field, he ordered the whole camp to be
broken up, and on the 20th of April raised the siege.

Farnese marched into Rouen, where the Leaguers were received with
tumultuous joy, and this city, most important for the purposes of the
League and for Philip's ulterior designs, was thus wrested from the grasp
just closing upon it.  Henry's main army now concentrated itself in the
neighbourhood of Dieppe, but the cavalry under his immediate
superintendence continued to harass the Leaguers.  It was now determined
to lay siege to Caudebec, on the right bank of the Seine, three leagues
below Rouen; the possession of this place by the enemy being a constant.
danger and difficulty to Rouen, whose supplies by the Seine were thus cut
off.

Alexander, as usual, superintended the planting of the batteries against
the place.  He had been suffering during the whole campaign with those
dropsical ailments which were making life a torture to him; yet his
indomitable spirit rose superior to his physical disorders, and he
wrought all day long on foot or on horseback, when he seemed only fit to
be placed on his bed as a rapid passage to his grave.  On this occasion,
in company with the Italian engineer Properzio, he had been for some time
examining with critical nicety the preliminaries, for the siege, when it
was suddenly observed by those around him that he was growing pale.  It
then appeared that he had received a musket-ball between the wrist and
the elbow, and had been bleeding profusely; but had not indicated by a
word or the movement of a muscle that he had been wounded, so intent was
he upon carrying out the immediate task to which he had set himself.  It
was indispensable, however, that he should now take to his couch.  The
wound was not trifling, and to one in his damaged and dropsical condition
it was dangerous.  Fever set in, with symptoms of gangrene, and it became
necessary to entrust the command of the League to Mayenne.  But it was
hardly concealed from Parma that the duke was playing a double game.
Prince Ranuccio, according to his father's express wish, was placed
provisionally at the head of the Flemish forces.  This was conceded;
however, with much heart-burning, and with consequences easily to be
imagined.

Meantime Caudebec fell at once.  Henry did nothing to relieve it, and the
place could offer but slight resistance to the force arrayed against it.
The bulk of the king's army was in the neighbourhood of Dieppe, where
they had been recently strengthened by twenty companies of Netherlanders
and Scotchmen brought by Count Philip Nassau.  The League's headquarters
were in the village of Yvetot, capital of the realm of the whimsical
little potentate so long renowned under that name.

The king, in pursuance of the plan he had marked out for himself,
restrained his skirmishing more than was his wont.  Nevertheless he lay
close to Yvetot.  His cavalry, swelling and falling as usual like an
Alpine torrent, had now filled up its old channels again, for once more
the mountain chivalry had poured themselves around their king.  With ten
thousand horsemen he was now pressing the Leaguers, from time to time,
very hard, and on one occasion the skirmishing became so close and so
lively that a general engagement seemed imminent.  Young Ranuccio had a
horse shot under him, and his father--suffering as he was--had himself
dragged out of bed and brought on a litter into the field, where he was
set on horseback, trampling on wounds and disease, and, as it were, on
death itself, that he might by his own unsurpassed keenness of eye and
quickness of resource protect the army which had been entrusted to his
care.  The action continued all day; young Bentivoglio, nephew of the
famous cardinal, historian and diplomatist, receiving a bad wound in the
leg, as he fought gallantly at the side of Ranuccio.  Carlo Coloma also
distinguished himself in the engagement.  Night separated the combatants
before either side had gained a manifest advantage, and on the morrow it
seemed for the interest of neither to resume the struggle.

The field where this campaign was to be fought was a narrow peninsula
enclosed between the sea and the rivers Seine and Dieppe.  In this
peninsula, called the Land of Caux, it was Henry's intention to shut up
his enemy.  Farnese had finished the work that he had been sent to do,
and was anxious, as Henry was aware, to return to the Netherlands.  Rouen
was relieved, Caudebec had fallen.  There was not food or forage enough
in the little peninsula to feed both the city and the whole army of the
League.  Shut up in this narrow area, Alexander must starve or surrender.
His only egress was into Picardy and so home to Artois, through the base
of the isosceles triangle between the two rivers and on the borders of
Picardy.  On this base Henry had posted his whole army.  Should Farnese
assail him, thus provided with a strong position and superiority of
force, defeat was certain.  Should he remain where he was, he must
inevitably starve.  He had no communications with the outside.  The
Hollanders lay with their ships below Caudebec, blockading the river's
mouth and the coast.  His only chance of extrication lay across the
Seine.  But Alexander was neither a bird nor a fish, and it was
necessary, so Henry thought, to be either the one or the other to cross
that broad, deep, and rapid river, where there were no bridges, and where
the constant ebb and flow of the tide made transportation almost
impossible in face of a powerful army in rear and flank.  Farnese's
situation seemed, desperate; while the shrewd Bearnese sat smiling
serenely, carefully watching at the mouth of the trap into which he had
at last inveigled his mighty adversary.  Secure of his triumph, he seemed
to have changed his nature, and to have become as sedate and wary as, by
habit, he was impetuous and hot.

And in truth Farnese found himself in very narrow quarters.  There was no
hay for his horses, no bread for his men.  A penny loaf was sold for two
shillings.  A jug of water was worth a crown.  As for meat or wine, they
were hardly to be dreamed of.  His men were becoming furious at their
position.  They had enlisted to fight, not to starve, and they murmured
that it was better for an army to fall with weapons in its hands than to
drop to pieces hourly with the enemy looking on and enjoying their agony.

It was obvious to Farnese that there were but two ways out of his
dilemma.  He might throw himself upon Henry--strongly entrenched as he
was, and with much superior forces to his own, upon ground deliberately
chosen for himself--defeat him utterly, and march over him back to the
Netherlands.  This would be an agreeable result; but the undertaking
seemed difficult, to say the least.  Or he might throw his army across
the Seine and make his escape through the isle of France and Southern
Picardy back to the so-called obedient provinces.  But it seemed,
hopeless without bridges or pontoons to attempt the passage of the Seine.

There was; however, no time left, for hesitation.  Secretly he took his
resolution and communicated it in strict confidence to Mayenne, to
Ranuccio, and to one or two other chiefs.  He came to Caudebec, and
there, close to the margin of the river, he threw up a redoubt.  On the
opposite bank, he constructed another.  On both he planted artillery,
placing a force of eight hundred Netherlanders under Count Bossu in the
one, and an equal number of the same nation, Walloons chiefly, under
Barlotte in the other.  He collected all the vessels, flatboats,--
wherries,--and rafts that could be found or put together at Rouen, and
then under cover of his forts he transported all the Flemish infantry,
and the Spanish, French, and Italian cavalry, during the night of 22nd
May to the 22 May, opposite bank of the Seine.  Next morning he sent up
all the artillery together with the Flemish cavalry to Rouen, where,
making what use he could by temporary contrivances of the broken arches
of the broken bridge, in order to shorten the distance from shore to
shore, he managed to convey his whole army with all its trains across the
river.

A force was left behind, up to the last moment, to engage in the
customary skirmishes, and to display themselves as largely as possible
for the purpose of imposing upon the enemy.  The young Prince of Parma
had command of this rearguard.  The device was perfectly successful.  The
news of the movement was not brought to the ears of Henry until after it
had been accomplished.  When the king reached the shore of the Seine, he
saw to his infinite chagrin and indignation that the last stragglers of
the army, including the garrison of the fort on the right bank, were just
ferrying themselves across under command of Ranuccio.

Furious with disappointment, he brought some pieces of artillery to bear
upon the triumphant fugitives.  Not a shot told, and the Leaguers had the
satisfaction of making a bonfire in the king's face of the boats which
had brought them over.  Then, taking up their line of march rapidly
inland, they placed themselves completely out of the reach of the
Huguenot guns.

Henry had a bridge at Pont de l'Arche, and his first impulse was to
pursue with his cavalry, but it was obvious that his infantry could never
march by so circuitous a route fast enough to come up with the enemy, who
had already so prodigious a stride in advance.

There was no need to disguise it to himself.  Henry saw himself for the
second time out-generalled by the consummate Farnese.  The trap was
broken, the game had given him the slip.  The manner in which the duke
had thus extricated himself from a profound dilemma; in which his
fortunes seemed hopelessly sunk, has usually been considered one of the
most extraordinary exploits of his life.

Precisely at this time, too, ill news reached Henry from Brittany and the
neighbouring country.  The Princes Conti and Dombes had been obliged, on
the 13th May, 1592, to raise the siege of Craon, in consequence of the
advance of the Duke of Mercoeur, with a force of seven thousand men.

They numbered, including lanzknechts and the English contingent, about
half as many, and before they could effect their retreat, were attacked
by Mercoeur, and utterly routed.  The English, who alone stood to their
colours, were nearly all cut to pieces.  The rest made a disorderly
retreat,  but were ultimately, with few exceptions, captured or slain.
The duke, following up his victory, seized Chateau Gontier and La Val,
important crossing places on the river Mayenne, and laid siege to
Mayenne, capital city of that region.  The panic, spreading through
Brittany and Maine, threatened the king's cause there with complete
overthrow, hampered his operations in Normandy, and vastly encouraged the
Leaguers.  It became necessary for Henry to renounce his designs upon
Rouen, and the pursuit of Parma, and to retire to Vernon, there to occupy
himself with plans for the relief of Brittany.  In vain had the Earl of
Essex, whose brother had already been killed in the campaign, manifested
such headlong gallantry in that country as to call forth the sharpest
rebukes from the admiring but anxious Elizabeth.  The handful of brave
Englishmen who had been withdrawn from the Netherlands, much to the
dissatisfaction of the States-General, in order to defend the coasts of
Brittany, would have been better employed under Maurice of Nassau.  So
soon as the heavy news reached the king, the faithful Umton was sent for.
"He imparted the same unto me," said the envoy, "with extraordinary
passion and discontent.  He discoursed at large of his miserable estate,
of the factions of his servants, and of their ill-dispositions, and then
required my opinion touching his course for Brittan, as also what further
aid he might expect from her Majesty; alleging that unless he were
presently strengthened by England it was impossible for him, longer to
resist the greatness of the King of Spain, who assailed his country by
Brittany, Languedoc, the Low Countries by the Duke of Saxony and the Duke
of Lorraine, and so ended his speech passionately."  Thus adjured, Sir
Henry spoke to the king firmly but courteously, reminding him how,
contrary to English advice, he had followed other counsellors to the
neglect of Brittany, and had broken his promises to the queen.  He
concluded by urging him to advance into that country in person, but did
not pledge himself on behalf of her Majesty to any further assistance.
"To this," said Umton, "the king gave a willing ear, and replied, with
many thanks, and without disallowing of anything that I alleged, yielding
many excuses of his want of means, not of disposition, to provide a
remedy, not forgetting to acknowledge her Majesty's care of him and his
country, and especially of Brittany, excusing much the bad disposition of
his counsellors, and inclining much to my motion to go in person thither,
especially because he might thereby give her Majesty better satisfaction;
.  .  .  .  and protesting that he would either immediately himself make
war there in those parts or send an army thither.  I do not doubt," added
the ambassador, "but with good handling her Majesty may now obtain any
reasonable matter for the conservation of Brittany, as also for a place
of retreat for the English, and I urge continually the yielding of Brest
into her Majesty's hands, whereunto I find the king well inclined, if he
might bring it to pass."

Alexander passed a few days in Paris, where he was welcomed with much
cordiality, recruiting his army for a brief period in the land of Brie,
and then--broken in health but entirely successful--he dragged himself
once more to Spa to drink the waters.  He left an auxiliary force with
Mayenne, and promised--infinitely against his own wishes--to obey his
master's commands and return again before the winter to do the League's
work.

And thus Alexander had again solved a difficult problem.  He had saved
for his master and for the League the second city of France and the whole
coast of Normandy.  Rouen had been relieved in masterly manner even as
Paris had been succoured the year before.  He had done this, although
opposed by the sleepless energy and the exuberant valour of the quick-
witted Navarre, and although encumbered by the assistance of the
ponderous Duke of Mayenne.  His military reputation, through these
two famous reliefs and retreats, grew greater than ever.

No commander of the age was thought capable of doing what he had thus
done.  Yet, after all, what had he accomplished?  Did he not feel in his
heart of hearts that he was but a strong and most skilful swimmer
struggling for a little while against an ocean-tide which was steadily
sweeping him and his master and all their fortunes far out into the
infinite depths?

Something of this breathed ever in his most secret utterances.  But, so
long as life was in him, his sword and his genius were at the disposal of
his sovereign, to carry out a series of schemes as futile as they were
nefarious.

For us, looking back upon the Past, which was then the Future, it is
easy to see how remorselessly the great current of events was washing
away the system and the personages seeking to resist its power and to
oppose the great moral principles by which human affairs in the long run
are invariably governed.  Spain and Rome were endeavouring to obliterate
the landmarks of race, nationality, historical institutions, and the
tendencies of awakened popular conscience, throughout Christendom,
and to substitute for them a dead level of conformity to one regal
and sacerdotal despotism.

England, Holland, the Navarre party in France, and a considerable part of
Germany were contending for national unity and independence, for vested
and recorded rights.  Much farther than they themselves or their
chieftains dreamed those millions of men were fighting for a system
of temperate human freedom; for that emancipation under just laws from
arbitrary human control, which is the right--however frequently trampled
upon--of all classes, conditions, and races of men; and for which it is
the instinct of the human race to continue to struggle under every
disadvantage, and often against all hope, throughout the ages, so long
as the very principle of humanity shall not be extinguished in those
who have been created after their Maker's image.

It may safely be doubted whether the great Queen, the Bearnese, Alexander
Farnese, or his master, with many of their respective adherents, differed
very essentially from each other in their notions of the right divine and
the right of the people.  But history has shown us which of them best
understood the spirit of the age, and had the keenest instinct to keep
themselves in the advance by moving fastest in the direction whither it
was marshalling all men.  There were many, earnest, hard-toiling men in
those days, men who believed in the work to which they devoted their
lives.  Perhaps, too, the devil-worshippers did their master's work as
strenuously and heartily as any, and got fame and pelf for their pains.
Fortunately, a good portion of what they so laboriously wrought for has
vanished into air; while humanity has at least gained something from
those who deliberately or instinctively conformed themselves to her
eternal laws.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Anatomical study of what has ceased to exist
Artillery
Bomb-shells were not often used although known for a century
Court fatigue, to scorn pleasure
For us, looking back upon the Past, which was then the Future
Hardly an inch of French soil that had not two possessors
Holy institution called the Inquisition
Inevitable fate of talking castles and listening ladies
Life of nations and which we call the Past
Often necessary to be blind and deaf
Picturesqueness of crime
Royal plans should be enforced adequately or abandoned entirely
Toil and sacrifices of those who have preceded us
Use of the spade
Utter disproportions between the king's means and aims
Valour on the one side and discretion on the other
Walk up and down the earth and destroy his fellow-creatures
We have the reputation of being a good housewife
Weapons





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