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´╗┐Title: History of the United Netherlands from the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce, 1584
Author: Motley, John Lothrop
Language: English
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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, 1584

PREFACE.

The indulgence with which the History of the Rise of the Dutch Republic
was received has encouraged me to prosecute my task with renewed
industry.

A single word seems necessary to explain the somewhat increased
proportions which the present work has assumed over the original design.
The intimate connection which was formed between the Kingdom of England
and the Republic of Holland, immediately after the death of William the
Silent, rendered the history and the fate of the two commonwealths for a
season almost identical.  The years of anxiety and suspense during which
the great Spanish project for subjugating England and reconquering the
Netherlands, by the same invasion, was slowly matured, were of deepest
import for the future destiny of those two countries, and for the cause
of national liberty.  The deep-laid conspiracy of Spain and Rome against
human rights deserves to be patiently examined, for it is one of the
great lessons of history.  The crisis was long and doubtful, and the
health--perhaps the existence--of England and Holland, and, with them, of
a great part of Christendom, was on the issue.

History has few so fruitful examples of the dangers which come from
superstition and despotism, and the blessings which flow from the
maintenance of religious and political freedom, as those afforded by the
struggle between England and Holland on the one side, and Spain and Rome
on the other, during the epoch which I have attempted to describe.  It is
for this reason that I have thought it necessary to reveal, as minutely
as possible, the secret details of this conspiracy of king and priest
against the people, and to show how it was baffled at last by the strong
self-helping energy of two free nations combined.

The period occupied by these two volumes is therefore a short one, when
counted by years, for it begins in 1584 and ends with the commencement of
1590.  When estimated by the significance of events and their results for
future ages, it will perhaps be deemed worthy of the close examination
which it has received.  With the year 1588 the crisis was past; England
was safe, and the new Dutch commonwealth was thoroughly organized.  It is
my design, in two additional volumes, which, with the two now published,
will complete the present work, to carry the history of the Republic down
to the Synod of Dort.  After this epoch the Thirty Years' War broke out
in Germany; and it is my wish, at a future day, to retrace the history of
that eventful struggle, and to combine with it the civil and military
events in Holland, down to the epoch when the Thirty Years' War and the
Eighty Years' War of the Netherlands were both brought to a close by the
Peace of Westphalia.

The materials for the volumes now offered to the public were so abundant
that it was almost impossible to condense them into smaller compass
without doing injustice to the subject.  It was desirable to throw full
light on these prominent points of the history, while the law of
historical perspective will allow long stretches of shadow in the
succeeding portions, in which less important objects may be more slightly
indicated.  That I may not be thought capable of abusing the reader's
confidence by inventing conversations, speeches, or letters, I would take
this opportunity of stating--although I have repeated the remark in the
foot-notes--that no personage in these pages is made to write or speak
any words save those which, on the best historical evidence, he is known
to have written or spoken.

A brief allusion to my sources of information will not seem superfluous:
I have carefully studied all the leading contemporary chronicles and
pamphlets of Holland, Flanders, Spain, France, Germany, and England; but,
as the authorities are always indicated in the notes, it is unnecessary
to give a list of them here.  But by far my most valuable materials are
entirely unpublished ones.

The archives of England are especially rich for the history of the
sixteenth century; and it will be seen, in the course of the narrative,
how largely I have drawn from those mines of historical wealth, the State
Paper Office and the MS. department of the British Museum.  Although both
these great national depositories are in admirable order, it is to be
regretted that they are not all embraced in one collection, as much
trouble might then be spared to the historical student, who is now
obliged to pass frequently from the one place to the other, in order to,
find different portions of the same correspondence.

From the royal archives of Holland I have obtained many most important,
entirely unpublished documents, by the aid of which I have endeavoured to
verify, to illustrate, or sometimes to correct, the recitals of the elder
national chroniclers; and I have derived the greatest profit from the
invaluable series of Archives and Correspondence of the Orange-Nassau
Family, given to the world by M. Groen van Prinsterer.  I desire to renew
to that distinguished gentleman, and to that eminent scholar M. Bakhuyzen
van den Brink, the expression of my gratitude for their constant kindness
and advice during my residence at the Hague.  Nothing can exceed the
courtesy which has been extended to me in Holland, and I am deeply
grateful for the indulgence with which my efforts to illustrate the
history of the country have been received where that history is best
known.

I have also been much aided by the study of a portion of the Archives of
Simancas, the originals of which are in the Archives de l'Empire in
Paris, and which were most liberally laid before me through the kindness
of M. le Comte de La Borde.

I have, further; enjoyed an inestimable advantage in the perusal of the
whole correspondence between Philip II., his ministers, and governors,
relating to the affairs of the Netherlands, from the epoch at which this
work commences down to that monarch's death.  Copies of this
correspondence have been carefully made from the originals at Simancas by
order of the Belgian Government, under the superintendence of the eminent
archivist M. Gachard, who has already published a synopsis or abridgment
of a portion of it in a French translation.  The translation and
abridgment of so large a mass of papers, however, must necessarily occupy
many years, and it may be long, therefore, before the whole of the
correspondence--and particularly that portion of it relating to the epoch
occupied by these volumes sees the light.  It was, therefore, of the
greatest importance for me to see the documents themselves unabridged and
untranslated.  This privilege has been accorded me, and I desire to
express my thanks to his Excellency M. van de Weyer, the distinguished
representative of Belgium at the English Court, to whose friendly offices
I am mainly indebted for the satisfaction of my wishes in this respect.
A letter from him to his Excellency M. Rogier, Minister of the Interior
in Belgium--who likewise took the most courteous interest in promoting my
views--obtained for me the permission thoroughly to study this
correspondence; and I passed several months in Brussels, occupied with
reading the whole of it from the year 1584 to the end of the reign of
Philip II.

I was thus saved a long visit to the Archives of Simancas, for it would
be impossible conscientiously to write the history of the epoch without a
thorough examination of the correspondence of the King and his ministers.
I venture to hope, therefore--whatever judgment may be passed upon my own
labours--that this work may be thought to possess an intrinsic value; for
the various materials of which it is composed are original, and--so far
as I am aware--have not been made use of by any historical writer.

I would take this opportunity to repeat my thanks to M. Gachard,
Archivist of the kingdom of Belgium, for the uniform courtesy and
kindness which I have received at his-hands, and to bear my testimony to
the skill and critical accuracy with which he has illustrated so many
passages of Belgian and Spanish history.

31, HERTFORD-STREET, MAY-FAIR,
November llth 1860.



THE UNITED NETHERLANDS.

CHAPTER I.

     Murder of Orange--Extension of Protestantism--Vast Power of Spain--
     Religious Origin of the Revolt--Disposal of the Sovereignty--Courage
     of the Estates of Holland--Children of William the Silent--
     Provisional Council of State--Firm attitude of Holland and Zeeland--
     Weakness of Flanders--Fall of Ghent--Adroitness of Alexander
     Farnese.

WILLIAM THE SILENT, Prince of Orange, had been murdered on the 10th of
July, 1534.  It is difficult to imagine a more universal disaster than
the one thus brought about by the hand of a single obscure fanatic.  For
nearly twenty years the character of the Prince had been expanding
steadily as the difficulties of his situation increased.  Habit,
necessity, and the natural gifts of the man, had combined to invest him
at last with an authority which seemed more than human.  There was such
general confidence in his sagacity, courage, and purity, that the nation
had come to think with his brain and to act with his hand.  It was
natural that, for an instant, there should be a feeling as of absolute
and helpless paralysis.

Whatever his technical attributes in the polity of the Netherlands--and
it would be difficult to define them with perfect accuracy--there is no
doubt that he stood there, the head of a commonwealth, in an attitude
such as had been maintained by but few of the kings, or chiefs, or high
priests of history.  Assassination, a regular and almost indispensable
portion of the working machinery of Philip's government, had produced, in
this instance, after repeated disappointments, the result at last which
had been so anxiously desired.  The ban of the Pope and the offered gold
of the King had accomplished a victory greater than any yet achieved by
the armies of Spain, brilliant as had been their triumphs on the blood-
stained soil of the Netherlands.

Had that "exceeding proud, neat, and spruce"  Doctor of Laws, William
Parry, who had been busying himself at about the same time with his
memorable project against the Queen of England, proved as successful as
Balthazar Gerard, the fate of Christendom would have been still darker.
Fortunately, that member of Parliament had made the discovery in time--
not for himself, but for Elizabeth--that the "Lord was better pleased
with adverbs than nouns;" the well-known result being that the traitor
was hanged and the Sovereign saved.

Yet such was the condition of Europe at that day.  A small, dull,
elderly, imperfectly-educated, patient, plodding invalid, with white hair
and protruding under jaw, and dreary visage, was sitting day after day;
seldom speaking, never smiling, seven or eight hours out of every twenty-
four, at a writing table covered with heaps of interminable despatches,
in a cabinet far away beyond the seas and mountains, in the very heart of
Spain.  A clerk or two, noiselessly opening and shutting the door, from
time to time, fetching fresh bundles of letters and taking away others--
all written and composed by secretaries or high functionaries--and all
to be scrawled over in the margin by the diligent old man in a big
schoolboy's hand and style--if ever schoolboy, even in the sixteenth
century, could write so illegibly or express himself so awkwardly;
couriers in the court-yard arriving from or departing for the uttermost
parts of earth-Asia, Africa America, Europe-to fetch and carry these
interminable epistles which contained the irresponsible commands of this
one individual, and were freighted with the doom and destiny of countless
millions of the world's inhabitants--such was the system of government
against which the Netherlands had protested and revolted.  It was a
system under which their fields had been made desolate, their cities
burned and pillaged, their men hanged, burned, drowned, or hacked to
pieces; their women subjected to every outrage; and to put an end to
which they had been devoting their treasure and their blood for nearly
the length of one generation.  It was a system, too, which, among other
results, had just brought about the death of the foremost statesman of
Europe, and had nearly effected simultaneously the murder of the most
eminent sovereign in the world.  The industrious Philip, safe and
tranquil in the depths of the Escorial, saying his prayers three times
a day with exemplary regularity, had just sent three bullets through the
body of William the Silent at his dining-room door in Delft.  "Had it
only been done two years earlier," observed the patient old man, "much
trouble might have been spared me; but 'tis better late than never."  Sir
Edward Stafford, English envoy in Paris, wrote to his government--so soon
as the news of the murder reached him--that, according to his information
out of the Spanish minister's own house, "the same practice that had been
executed upon the Prince of Orange, there were practisers more than two
or three about to execute upon her Majesty, and that within two months."
Without vouching for the absolute accuracy of this intelligence, he
implored the Queen to be more upon her guard than ever.  "For there is no
doubt," said the envoy, "that she is a chief mark to shoot at; and seeing
that there were men cunning enough to inchant a man and to encourage him
to kill the Prince of Orange, in the midst of Holland, and that there was
a knave found desperate enough to do it, we must think hereafter that
anything may be done.  Therefore God preserve her Majesty."

Invisible as the Grand Lama of Thibet, clothed with power as extensive
and absolute as had ever been wielded by the most imperial Caesar, Philip
the Prudent, as he grew older and feebler in mind and body seemed to
become more gluttonous of work, more ambitious to extend his sceptre over
lands which he had never seen or dreamed of seeing, more fixed in his
determination to annihilate that monster Protestantism, which it had been
the business of his life to combat, more eager to put to death every
human creature, whether anointed monarch or humble artizan, that defended
heresy or opposed his progress to universal empire.

If this enormous power, this fabulous labour, had, been wielded or
performed with a beneficent intention; if the man who seriously regarded
himself as the owner of a third of the globe, with the inhabitants
thereof, had attempted to deal with these extensive estates inherited
from his ancestors with the honest intention of a thrifty landlord, an
intelligent slave-owner, it would have yet been possible for a little
longer to smile at the delusion, and endure the practice.

But there was another old man, who lived in another palace in another
remote land, who, in his capacity of representative of Saint Peter,
claimed to dispose of all the kingdoms of the earth--and had been willing
to bestow them upon the man who would go down and worship him.  Philip
stood enfeoffed, by divine decree, of all America, the East Indies, the
whole Spanish Peninsula, the better portion of Italy, the seventeen
Netherlands, and many other possessions far and near; and he contemplated
annexing to this extensive property the kingdoms of France, of England,
and Ireland.  The Holy League, maintained by the sword of Guise, the
pope's ban, Spanish ducats, Italian condottieri, and German mercenaries,
was to exterminate heresy and establish the Spanish dominion in France.
The same machinery, aided by the pistol or poniard of the assassin, was
to substitute for English protestantism and England's queen the Roman
Catholic religion and a foreign sovereign.  "The holy league," said
Duplessis-Mornay, one of the noblest characters of the age, "has destined
us all to the name sacrifice.  The ambition of the Spaniard, which has
overleaped so many lands and seas, thinks nothing inaccessible."

The Netherland revolt had therefore assumed world-wide proportions.
Had it been merely the rebellion of provinces against a sovereign, the
importance of the struggle would have been more local and temporary.  But
the period was one in which the geographical land-marks of countries were
almost removed.  The dividing-line ran through every state, city, and
almost every family.  There was a country which believed in the absolute
power of the church to dictate the relations between man and his Maker,
and to utterly exterminate all who disputed that position.  There was
another country which protested against that doctrine, and claimed,
theoretically or practically, a liberty of conscience.  The territory of
these countries was mapped out by no visible lines, but the inhabitants
of each, whether resident in France, Germany, England, or Flanders,
recognised a relationship which took its root in deeper differences than
those of race or language.  It was not entirely a question of doctrine or
dogma.  A large portion of the world had become tired of the antiquated
delusion of a papal supremacy over every land, and had recorded its
determination, once for all, to have done with it.  The transition to
freedom of conscience became a necessary step, sooner or later to be
taken.  To establish the principle of toleration for all religions was
an inevitable consequence of the Dutch revolt; although thus far, perhaps
only one conspicuous man in advance of his age had boldly announced that
doctrine and had died in its defence.  But a great true thought never
dies--though long buried in the earth--and the day was to come, after
long years, when the seed was to ripen into a harvest of civil and
religious emancipation, and when the very word toleration was to sound
like an insult and an absurdity.

A vast responsibility rested upon the head of a monarch, placed as Philip
II. found himself, at this great dividing point in modern history.  To
judge him, or any man in such a position, simply from his own point of
view, is weak and illogical.  History judges the man according to its
point of view.  It condemns or applauds the point of view itself.  The
point of view of a malefactor is not to excuse robbery and murder.  Nor
is the spirit of the age to be pleaded in defence of the evil-doer at a
time when mortals were divided into almost equal troops.  The age of
Philip II. was also the age of William of Orange and his four brethren,
of Sainte Aldegonde, of Olden-Barneveldt, of Duplessis-Mornay, La Noue,
Coligny, of Luther, Melancthon, and Calvin, Walsingham, Sidney, Raleigh,
Queen Elizabeth, of Michael Montaigne, and William Shakspeare.  It was
not an age of blindness, but of glorious light.  If the man whom the
Maker of the Universe had permitted to be born to such boundless
functions, chose to put out his own eyes that he might grope along his
great pathway of duty in perpetual darkness, by his deeds he must be
judged.  The King perhaps firmly believed that the heretics of the
Netherlands, of France, or of England, could escape eternal perdition
only by being extirpated from the earth by fire and sword, and therefore;
perhaps, felt it his duty to devote his life to their extermination.
But he believed, still more firmly, that his own political authority,
throughout his dominions, and his road to almost universal empire, lay
over the bodies of those heretics.  Three centuries have nearly past
since this memorable epoch; and the world knows the fate of the states
which accepted the dogma which it was Philip's life-work to enforce, and
of those who protested against the system.  The Spanish and Italian
Peninsulas have had a different history from that which records the
career of France, Prussia, the Dutch Commonwealth, the British Empire,
the Transatlantic Republic.

Yet the contest between those Seven meagre Provinces upon the sand-banks
of the North Sea, and--the great Spanish Empire, seemed at the moment
with which we are now occupied a sufficiently desperate one.  Throw a
glance upon the map of Europe.  Look at the broad magnificent Spanish
Peninsula, stretching across eight degrees of latitude and ten of
longitude, commanding the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, with a genial
climate, warmed in winter by the vast furnace of Africa, and protected
from the scorching heats of summer by shady mountain and forest, and
temperate breezes from either ocean.  A generous southern territory,
flowing with wine and oil, and all the richest gifts of a bountiful
nature-splendid cities--the new and daily expanding Madrid, rich in the
trophies of the most artistic period of the modern world--Cadiz, as
populous at that day as London, seated by the straits where the ancient
and modern systems of traffic were blending like the mingling of the two
oceans--Granada, the ancient wealthy seat of the fallen Moors--Toledo,
Valladolid, and Lisbon, chief city of the recently-conquered kingdom of
Portugal, counting, with its suburbs, a larger population than any city,
excepting Paris, in Europe, the mother of distant colonies, and the
capital of the rapidly-developing traffic with both the Indies--these
were some of the treasures of Spain herself.  But she possessed Sicily
also, the better portion of Italy, and important dependencies in Africa,
while the famous maritime discoveries of the age had all enured to her
aggrandizement.  The world seemed suddenly to have expanded its wings
from East to West, only to bear the fortunate Spanish Empire to the most
dizzy heights of wealth and power.  The most accomplished generals, the
most disciplined and daring infantry the world has ever known, the best-
equipped and most extensive navy, royal and mercantile, of the age, were
at the absolute command of the sovereign.  Such was Spain.

Turn now to the north-western corner of Europe.  A morsel of territory,
attached by a slight sand-hook to the continent, and half-submerged by
the stormy waters of the German Ocean--this was Holland.  A rude climate,
with long, dark, rigorous, winters, and brief summers, a territory, the
mere wash of three great rivers, which had fertilized happier portions of
Europe only to desolate and overwhelm this less-favoured land, a soil so
ungrateful, that if the whole of its four hundred thousand acres of
arable land had been sowed with grain, it could not feed the labourers
alone, and a population largely estimated at one million of souls--these
were the characteristics of the Province which already had begun to give
its name to the new commonwealth.  The isles of Zeeland--entangled in the
coils of deep slow-moving rivers, or combating the ocean without--and the
ancient episcopate of Utrecht, formed the only other Provinces that had
quite shaken off the foreign yoke.  In Friesland, the important city of
Groningen was still held for the King, while Bois-le-Duc, Zutphen,
besides other places in Gelderland and North Brabant, also in possession
of the royalists, made the position of those provinces precarious.

The limit of the Spanish or "obedient" Provinces, on the one hand, and of
the United Provinces on the other, cannot, therefore, be briefly and
distinctly stated.  The memorable treason--or, as it was called, the
"reconciliation" of the Walloon Provinces in the year 1583-4--had placed
the Provinces of Hainault, Arthois, Douay, with the flourishing cities
Arran, Valenciennes, Lille, Tournay, and others--all Celtic Flanders, in
short-in the grasp of Spain.  Cambray was still held by the French
governor, Seigneur de Balagny, who had taken advantage of the Duke of
Anjou's treachery to the States, to establish himself in an unrecognized
but practical petty sovereignty, in defiance both of France and Spain;
while East Flanders and South Brabant still remained a disputed
territory, and the immediate field of contest.  With these limitations,
it may be assumed, for general purposes, that the territory of the United
States was that of the modern Kingdom of the Netherlands, while the
obedient Provinces occupied what is now the territory of Belgium.

Such, then, were the combatants in the great eighty years' war for civil
and religious liberty; sixteen of which had now passed away.  On the one
side, one of the most powerful and, populous world-empires of history,
then in the zenith of its prosperity; on the other hand, a slender group
of cities, governed by merchants and artisans, and planted precariously
upon a meagre, unstable soil.  A million and a half of souls against the
autocrat of a third part of the known world.  The contest seemed as
desperate as the cause was certainly sacred; but it had ceased to be a
local contest.  For the history which is to occupy us in these volumes is
not exclusively the history of Holland.  It is the story of the great
combat between despotism, sacerdotal and regal, and the spirit of
rational human liberty.  The tragedy opened in the Netherlands, and its
main scenes were long enacted there; but as the ambition of Spain
expanded, and as the resistance to the principle which she represented
became more general, other nations were, of necessity, involved in the
struggle.  There came to be one country, the citizens of which were the
Leaguers; and another country, whose inhabitants were Protestants.  And
in this lay the distinction between freedom and absolutism. The religious
question swallowed all the others.  There was never a period in the early
history of the Dutch revolt when the Provinces would not have returned to
their obedience, could they have been assured of enjoying liberty of
conscience or religious peace; nor was there ever a single moment in
Philip II.'s life in which he wavered in his fixed determination never to
listen to such a claim.  The quarrel was in its nature irreconcilable and
eternal as the warfare between wrong and right; and the establishment of
a comparative civil liberty in Europe and America was the result of the
religious war of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The struggle
lasted eighty years, but the prize was worth the contest.

The object of the war between the Netherlands and Spain was not,
therefore, primarily, a rebellion against established authority for the
maintenance of civil rights.  To preserve these rights was secondary.
The first cause was religion.  The Provinces had been fighting for years
against the Inquisition.  Had they not taken arms, the Inquisition would
have been established in the Netherlands, and very probably in England,
and England might have become in its turn a Province of the Spanish
Empire.

The death of William the Silent produced a sudden change in the political
arrangements of the liberated Netherlands.  During the year 1583, the
United Provinces had elected Francis, Duke of Anjou, to be Duke of
Brabant and sovereign of the whole country, under certain constitutional
provisions enumerated in articles of solemn compact.  That compact had
been grossly violated.  The Duke had made a treacherous attempt to
possess himself of absolute power and to seize several important cities.
He had been signally defeated in Antwerp, and obliged to leave the
country, covered with ignominy.  The States had then consulted William of
Orange as to the course to be taken in the emergency.  The Prince had
told them that their choice was triple.  They might reconcile themselves
with Spain, and abandon the contest for religious liberty which they had
so long been waging; they might reconcile themselves with Anjou,
notwithstanding that he had so utterly forfeited all claims to their
consideration; or they might fight the matter out with Spain single-
handed.  The last course was, in his opinion, the most eligible one, and
he was ready to sacrifice his life to its furtherance.  It was, however,
indispensable, should that policy be adopted, that much larger supplies
should be voted than had hitherto been raised, and, in general, that a
much more extensive and elevated spirit of patriotism should manifest
itself than had hitherto been displayed.

It was, on the whole, decided to make a second arrangement with the Duke
of Anjou, Queen Elizabeth warmly urging that course.  At the same time,
however, that articles of agreement were drawn up for the installation of
Anjou as sovereign of the United Provinces, the Prince had himself
consented to accept the title of Count of Holland, under an ample
constitutional charter, dictated by his own lips.  Neither Anjou nor
Orange lived to be inaugurated into the offices thus bestowed upon them.
The Duke died at Chateau-Thierry on the 10th June, and the Prince was
assassinated a month later at Delft.

What now was the political position of the United Provinces at this
juncture?  The sovereignty which had been held by the Estates, ready to
be conferred respectively upon Anjou and Orange, remained in the hands of
the Estates.  There was no opposition to this theory.  No more enlarged
view of the social compact had yet been taken.  The people, as such,
claimed no sovereignty.  Had any champion claimed it for them they would
hardly have understood him.  The nation dealt with facts.  After abjuring
Philip in 1581--an act which had been accomplished by the Estates--the
same Estates in general assembly had exercised sovereign power, and had
twice disposed of that sovereign power by electing a hereditary ruler.
Their right and their power to do this had been disputed by none, save by
the deposed monarch in Spain.  Having the sovereignty to dispose of, it
seemed logical that the Estates might keep it, if so inclined.  They did
keep it, but only in trust.  While Orange lived, he might often have been
elected sovereign of all the Provinces, could he have been induced to
consent.  After his death, the Estates retained, ex necessitate, the
sovereignty; and it will soon be related what they intended to do with
it.  One thing is very certain, that neither Orange, while he lived, nor
the Estates, after his death, were actuated in their policy by personal
ambition.  It will be seen that the first object of the Estates was to
dispossess themselves of the sovereignty which had again fallen into
their hands.

What were the Estates?  Without, at the present moment, any farther
inquiries into that constitutional system which had been long
consolidating itself, and was destined to exist upon a firmer basis for
centuries longer, it will be sufficient to observe, that the great
characteristic of the Netherland government was the municipality.

Each Province contained a large number of cities, which were governed by
a board of magistrates, varying in number from twenty to forty.  This
college, called the Vroedschap (Assembly of Sages), consisted of the most
notable citizens, and was a self-electing body--a close corporation--the
members being appointed for life, from the citizens at large.  Whenever
vacancies occurred from death or loss of citizenship, the college chose
new members--sometimes immediately, sometimes by means of a double or
triple selection of names, the choice of one from among which was offered
to the stadtholder of the province.  This functionary was appointed by
the Count, as he was called, whether Duke of Bavaria or of Burgundy,
Emperor, or King.  After the abjuration of Philip, the governors were
appointed by the Estates of each Province.

The Sage-Men chose annually a board of senators, or schepens, whose
functions were mainly judicial; and there were generally two, and
sometimes three, burgomasters, appointed in the same way.  This was
the popular branch of the Estates.  But, besides this body of
representatives, were the nobles, men of ancient lineage and large
possessions, who had exercised, according to the general feudal law of
Europe, high, low, and intermediate jurisdiction upon their estates, and
had long been recognized as an integral part of the body politic, having
the right to appear, through delegates of their order, in the provincial
and in the general assemblies.

Regarded as a machine for bringing the most decided political capacities
into the administration of public affairs, and for organising the most
practical opposition to the system of religious tyranny, the Netherland
constitution was a healthy, and, for the age, an enlightened one.  The
officeholders, it is obvious, were not greedy for the spoils of office;
for it was, unfortunately, often the case that their necessary expenses
in the service of the state were not defrayed.  The people raised
enormous contributions for carrying on the war; but they could not afford
to be extremely generous to their faithful servants.

Thus constituted was the commonwealth upon the death of William the
Silent.  The gloom produced by that event was tragical.  Never in human
history was a more poignant and universal sorrow for the death of any
individual.  The despair was, for a brief season, absolute; but it was
soon succeeded by more lofty sentiments.  It seemed, after they had laid
their hero in the tomb, as though his spirit still hovered above the
nation which he had loved so well, and was inspiring it with a portion of
his own energy and wisdom.

Even on the very day of the murder, the Estates of Holland, then sitting
at Delft, passed a resolution "to maintain the good cause, with God's
help, to the uttermost, without sparing gold or blood."  This decree was
communicated to Admiral de Warmont, to Count Hohenlo, to William Lewis of
Nassau, and to other commanders by land and sea.  At the same time, the
sixteen members--for no greater number happened to be present at the
session--addressed letters to their absent colleagues, informing them
of the calamity which had befallen them, summoning them at once to
conference, and urging an immediate convocation of the Estates of all
the Provinces in General Assembly.  They also addressed strong letters of
encouragement, mingled with manly condolence, upon the common affliction,
to prominent military and naval commanders and civil functionaries,
begging them to "bear themselves manfully and valiantly, without
faltering in the least on account of the great misfortune which had
occurred, or allowing themselves to be seduced by any one from the union
of the States."  Among these sixteen were Van Zuylen, Van Nyvelt, the
Seigneur de Warmont, the Advocate of Holland, Paul Buys, Joost de Menin,
and John van Olden-Barneveldt.  A noble example was thus set at once to
their fellow citizens by these their representatives--a manful step taken
forward in the path where Orange had so long been leading.

The next movement, after the last solemn obsequies had been rendered to
the Prince was to provide for the immediate wants of his family.  For the
man who had gone into the revolt with almost royal revenues, left his
estate so embarrassed that his carpets, tapestries, household linen--
nay, even his silver spoons, and the very clothes of his wardrobe were
disposed of at auction for the benefit of his creditors.  He left eleven
children--a son and daughter by the first wife, a son and daughter by
Anna of Saxony, six daughters by Charlotte of Bourbon, and an infant,
Frederic Henry, born six months before his death.  The eldest son, Philip
William, had been a captive in Spain for seventeen years, having been
kidnapped from school, in Leyden, in the year 1567.  He had already
become so thoroughly Hispaniolized under the masterly treatment of the
King and the Jesuits, that even his face had lost all resemblance to the
type of his heroic family, and had acquired a sinister, gloomy,
forbidding expression, most painful to contemplate.  All of good that
he had retained was a reverence for his father's name--a sentiment which
he had manifested to an extravagant extent on a memorable occasion in
Madrid, by throwing out of window, and killing on the spot a Spanish
officer who had dared to mention the great Prince with insult.

The next son was Maurice, then seventeen years of age, a handsome youth,
with dark blue eyes, well-chiselled features, and full red lips, who had
already manifested a courage and concentration of character beyond his
years.  The son of William the Silent, the grandson of Maurice of Saxony,
whom he resembled in visage and character, he was summoned by every drop
of blood in his veins to do life-long battle with the spirit of Spanish
absolutism, and he was already girding himself for his life's work.  He
assumed at once for his device a fallen oak, with a young sapling
springing from its root.  His motto, "Tandem fit surculus arbor," "the
twig shall yet become a tree"--was to be nobly justified by his career.

The remaining son, then a six months' child, was also destined to high
fortunes, and to win an enduring name in his country's history.  For the
present he remained with his mother, the noble Louisa de Coligny, who had
thus seen, at long intervals, her father and two husbands fall victims to
the Spanish policy; for it is as certain that Philip knew beforehand, and
testified his approbation of, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, as that he
was the murderer of Orange.

The Estates of Holland implored the widowed Princess to remain in their
territority, settling a liberal allowance upon herself and her child, and
she fixed her residence at Leyden.

But her position was most melancholy.  Married in youth to the Seigneur
de Teligny, a young noble of distinguished qualities, she had soon become
both a widow and an orphan in the dread night of St. Bartholomew.  She
had made her own escape to Switzerland; and ten years afterwards she had
united herself in marriage with the Prince of Orange.  At the age of
thirty-two, she now found herself desolate and wretched in a foreign
land, where she had never felt thoroughly at home.  The widow and
children of William the Silent were almost without the necessaries of
life.  "I hardly know," wrote the Princess to her brother-in-law, Count
John, "how the children and I are to maintain ourselves according to the
honour of the house.  May God provide for us in his bounty, and certainly
we have much need of it."  Accustomed to the more luxurious civilisation
of France, she had been amused rather than annoyed, when, on her first
arrival in Holland for her nuptials, she found herself making the journey
from Rotterdam to Delft in an open cart without springs, instead of the
well-balanced coaches to which she had been used, arriving, as might have
been expected, "much bruised and shaken."  Such had become the primitive
simplicity of William the Silent's household.  But on his death, in
embarrassed circumstances, it was still more straightened.  She had no
cause either to love Leyden, for, after the assassination of her husband,
a brutal preacher, Hakkius by name, had seized that opportunity for
denouncing the French marriage, and the sumptuous christening of the
infant in January, as the deeds which had provoked the wrath of God and
righteous chastisement.  To remain there in her widowhood, with that six
months' child, "sole pledge of her dead lord, her consolation and only
pleasure," as she pathetically expressed herself, was sufficiently
painful, and she had been inclined to fix her residence in Flushing, in
the edifice which had belonged to her husband, as Marquis of Vere.  She
had been persuaded, however, to remain in Holland, although "complaining,
at first, somewhat of the unkindness of the people."

A small well-formed woman, with delicate features, exquisite complexion,
and very beautiful dark eyes, that seemed in after-years, as they looked
from beneath her coif, to be dim with unshed tears; with remarkable
powers of mind, angelic sweetness of disposition, a winning manner, and a
gentle voice, Louisa de Coligny became soon dear to the rough Hollanders,
and was ever a disinterested and valuable monitress both to her own child
and to his elder brother Maurice.

Very soon afterwards the States General established a State Council,
as a provisional executive board, for the term of three months, for the
Provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland, and such parts of
Flanders and Brabant as still remained in the Union.  At the head of this
body was placed young Maurice, who accepted the responsible position,
after three days' deliberation.  The young man had been completing his
education, with a liberal allowance from Holland and Zeeland, at the
University of Leyden; and such had been their tender care for the child
of so many hopes, that the Estates had given particular and solemn
warning, by resolution, to his governor during the previous summer,
on no account to allow him to approach the sea-shore, lest he should be
kidnapped by the Prince of Parma, who had then some war-vessels cruising
on the coast.

The salary of Maurice was now fixed at thirty thousand florins a year,
while each of the councillors was allowed fifteen hundred annually, out
of which stipend he was to support at least one servant; without making
any claim for travelling or other incidental expenses.

The Council consisted of three members from Brabant, two from Flanders,
four from Holland, three from Zeeland, two from Utrecht, one from
Mechlin, and three from Friesland--eighteen in all.  They were empowered
and enjoined to levy troops by land and sea, and to appoint naval and
military officers; to establish courts of admiralty, to expend the moneys
voted by the States, to maintain the ancient privileges of the country,
and to see that all troops in service of the Provinces made oath of
fidelity to the Union.  Diplomatic relations, questions of peace and war,
the treaty-making power, were not entrusted to the Council, without the
knowledge and consent of the States General, which body was to be
convoked twice a year by the State Council.

Thus the Provinces in the hour of danger and darkness were true to
themselves, and were far from giving way to a despondency which under
the circumstances would not have been unnatural.

For the waves of bitterness were rolling far and wide around them.  A
medal, struck in Holland at this period, represented a dismasted hulk
reeling through the tempest. The motto, "incertum quo fate ferent" (who
knows whither fate is sweeping her?) expressed most vividly the ship
wrecked condition of the country.  Alexander of Parma, the most
accomplished general and one of the most adroit statesmen of the age,
was swift to take advantage of the calamity which had now befallen the
rebellious Provinces. Had he been better provided with men and money,
the cause of the States might have seemed hopeless.  He addressed many
letters to the States General, to the magistracies of various cities, and
to individuals, affecting to consider that with the death of Orange had
died all authority, as well as all motive for continuing the contest with
Spain.  He offered easy terms of reconciliation with the discarded
monarch--always reserving, however, as a matter of course, the religious
question--for it was as well known to the States as to Parma that there
was no hope of Philip making concessions upon that important point.

In Holland and Zeeland the Prince's blandishments were of no avail.  His
letters received in various towns of those Provinces, offered, said one
who saw them, "almost every thing they would have or demand, even till
they should repent."  But the bait was not taken.  Individuals and
municipalities were alike stanch, remembering well that faith was not to
be kept with heretics.  The example was followed by the Estates of other
Provinces, and all sent in to the General Assembly, soon in session at
Delft, "their absolute and irrevocable authority to their deputies to
stand to that which they, the said States General, should dispose of as
to their persons, goods and country; a resolution and agreement which
never concurred before among them, to this day, in what age or government
soever."

It was decreed that no motion of agreement "with the tyrant of Spain"
should be entertained either publicly or privately, "under pain to be
reputed ill patriots."  It was also enacted in the city of Dort that any
man that brought letter or message from the enemy to any private person
"should be forthwith hanged."  This was expeditious and business-like.
The same city likewise took the lead in recording its determination by
public act, and proclaiming it by sound of trumpet, "to live and die in
the cause now undertaken."

In Flanders and Brabant the spirit was less noble.  Those Provinces were
nearly lost already.  Bruges seconded Parma's efforts to induce its
sister-city Ghent to imitate its own baseness in surrendering without
a struggle; and that powerful, turbulent, but most anarchical little
commonwealth was but too ready to listen to the voice of the tempter.
"The ducats of Spain, Madam, are trotting about in such fashion," wrote
envoy Des Pruneaux to Catherine de Medici, "that they have vanquished a
great quantity of courages.  Your Majesties, too, must employ money if
you wish to advance one step."  No man knew better than Parma how to
employ such golden rhetoric to win back a wavering rebel to his loyalty,
but he was not always provided with a sufficient store of those practical
arguments.

He was, moreover, not strong in the field, although he was far superior
to the States at this contingency.  He had, besides his garrisons,
something above 18,000 men.  The Provinces had hardly 3000 foot and 2500
horse, and these were mostly lying in the neighbourhood of Zutphen.
Alexander was threatening at the same time Ghent, Dendermonde, Mechlin,
Brussels, and Antwerp.  These five powerful cities lie in a narrow
circle, at distances varying from six miles to thirty, and are, as it
were, strung together upon the Scheldt, by which river, or its tributary,
the Senne, they are all threaded.  It would have been impossible for
Parma, with 100,000 men at his back, to undertake a regular and
simultaneous siege of these important places.  His purpose was to isolate
them from each other and from the rest of the country, by obtaining the
control of the great river, and so to reduce them by famine.  The scheme
was a masterly one, but even the consummate ability of Farnese would have
proved inadequate to the undertaking, had not the preliminary
assassination of Orange made the task comparatively easy.  Treason,
faint-heartedness, jealousy, were the fatal allies that the Governor-
General had reckoned upon, and with reason, in the council-rooms of these
cities.  The terms he offered were liberal.  Pardon, permission for
soldiers to retreat with technical honour, liberty to choose between
apostacy to the reformed religion or exile, with a period of two years
granted to the conscientious for the winding up of their affairs; these
were the conditions, which seemed flattering, now that the well-known
voice which had so often silenced the Flemish palterers and intriguers
was for ever hushed.

Upon the 17th August (1584) Dendermonde surrendered, and no lives were
taken save those of two preachers, one of whom was hanged, while the
other was drowned.  Upon the 7th September Vilvoorde capitulated, by
which event the water-communication between Brussels and Antwerp was cut
off.  Ghent, now thoroughly disheartened, treated with Parma likewise;
and upon the 17th September made its reconciliation with the King.  The
surrender of so strong and important a place was as disastrous to the
cause of the patriots as it was disgraceful to the citizens themselves.
It was, however, the result of an intrigue which had been long spinning,
although the thread had been abruptly, and, as it was hoped,
conclusively, severed several months before.  During the early part of
the year, after the reconciliation of Bruges with the King--an event
brought about by the duplicity and adroitness of Prince Chimay--the same
machinery had been diligently and almost successfully employed to produce
a like result in Ghent.  Champagny, brother of the famous Cardinal
Granvelle, had been under arrest for six years in that city.  His
imprisonment was not a strict one however; and he avenged himself for
what he considered very unjust treatment at the hands of the patriots,
by completely abandoning a cause which he had once begun to favour.
A man of singular ability, courage, and energy, distinguished both for
military and diplomatic services, he was a formidable enemy to the party
from which he was now for ever estranged.  As early as April of this
year, secret emissaries of Parma, dealing with Champagny in his nominal
prison, and with the disaffected burghers at large, had been on the point
of effecting an arrangement with the royal governor.  The negotiation had
been suddenly brought to a close by the discovery of a flagrant attempt
by Imbue, one of the secret adherents of the King, to sell the city of
Dendermonde, of which he was governor, to Parma.  For this crime he had
been brought to Ghent for trial, and then publicly beheaded.  The
incident came in aid of the eloquence of Orange, who, up to the latest
moment of his life, had been most urgent in his appeals to the patriotic
hearts of Ghent, not to abandon the great cause of the union and of
liberty.  William the Silent knew full well, that after the withdrawal of
the great keystone-city of Ghent, the chasm between the Celtic-Catholic
and the Flemish-Calvinist Netherlands could hardly be bridged again.
Orange was now dead.  The negotiations with France, too, on which those
of the Ghenters who still held true to the national cause had fastened
their hopes, had previously been brought to a stand-still by the death of
Anjou; and Champagny, notwithstanding the disaster to Imbize, became more
active than ever.  A private agent, whom the municipal government had
despatched to the French court for assistance, was not more successful
than his character and course of conduct would have seemed to warrant;
for during his residence in Paris, he had been always drunk, and
generally abusive.  This was not good diplomacy, particularly on the part
of an agent from a weak municipality to a haughty and most undecided
government.

"They found at this court," wrote Stafford to Walsingham, "great fault
with his manner of dealing that was sent from Gaunt.  He was scarce sober
from one end of the week to the other, and stood so much on his tiptoes
to have present answer within three days, or else that they of Gaunt
could tell where to bestow themselves.  They sent him away after keeping
him three weeks, and he went off in great dudgeon, swearing by yea and
nay that he will make report thereafter."

Accordingly, they of Ghent did bestow themselves very soon thereafter
upon the King of Spain.  The terms were considered liberal, but there
was, of course, no thought of conceding the great object for which the
patriots were contending--religious liberty.  The municipal privileges--
such as they might prove to be worth under the interpretation of a royal
governor and beneath the guns of a citadel filled with Spanish troops--
were to be guaranteed; those of the inhabitants who did not choose to go
to mass were allowed two years to wind up their affairs before going into
perpetual exile, provided they behaved themselves "without scandal;"
while on the other hand, the King's authority as Count of Flanders was to
be fully recognised, and all the dispossessed monks and abbots to be
restored to their property.

Accordingly, Champagny was rewarded for his exertions by being released
from prison and receiving the appointment of governor of the city: and,
after a very brief interval, about one-half of the population, the most
enterprising of its merchants and manufacturers, the most industrious of
its artizans, emigrated to Holland and Zeeland.  The noble city of Ghent
--then as large as Paris, thoroughly surrounded with moats, and fortified
with bulwarks, ravelins, and counterscarps, constructed of earth, during
the previous two years, at great expense, and provided with bread and
meat, powder and shot, enough to last a year--was ignominiously
surrendered.  The population, already a very reduced and slender one
for the great extent of the place and its former importance, had been
estimated at 70,000.  The number of houses was 35,000, so that as the
inhabitants were soon farther reduced to one-half, there remained but one
individual to each house.  On the other hand, the twenty-five monasteries
and convents in the town were repeopled--with how much advantage as a
set-off to the thousands of spinners and weavers who had wandered away,
and who in the flourishing days of Ghent had sent gangs of workmen
through the streets "whose tramp was like that of an army"--may be
sufficiently estimated by the result.

The fall of Brussels was deferred till March, and that of Mechlin (19th
July, 1585) and of Antwerp (19th August, 1585), till Midsummer of the
following year; but, the surrender of Ghent (10th March 1585)
foreshadowed the fate of Flanders and Brabant.  Ostend and Sluys,
however, were still in the hands of the patriots, and with them the
control of the whole Flemish coast.  The command of the sea was destined
to remain for centuries with the new republic.

The Prince of Parma, thus encouraged by the great success of his
intrigues, was determined to achieve still greater triumphs with his
arms, and steadily proceeded with his large design of closing the
Scheldt--and bringing about the fall of Antwerp.  The details of that
siege-one of the most brilliant military operations of the age and one of
the most memorable in its results--will be given, as a connected whole,
in a subsequent series of chapters.  For the present, it will be better
for the reader who wishes a clear view of European politics at this
epoch, and of the position of the Netherlands, to give his attention to
the web of diplomatic negotiation and court-intrigue which had been
slowly spreading over the leading states of Christendom, and in which the
fate of the world was involved.  If diplomatic adroitness consists mainly
in the power to deceive, never were more adroit diplomatists than those
of the sixteenth century.  It would, however, be absurd to deny them a
various range of abilities; and the history of no other age can show more
subtle, comprehensive, indefatigable--but, it must also be added, often
unscrupulous--intellects engaged in the great game of politics in which
the highest interests of millions were the stakes, than were those of
several leading minds in England, France, Germany, and Spain.  With such
statesmen the burgher-diplomatists of the new-born commonwealth had to
measure themselves; and the result was to show whether or not they could
hold their own in the cabinet as on the field,

For the present, however, the new state was unconscious of its latent
importance, The new-risen republic remained for a season nebulous, and
ready to unsphere itself so soon as the relative attraction of other
great powers should determine its absorption.  By the death of Anjou and
of Orange the United Netherlands had became a sovereign state, an
independent republic; but they stood with that sovereignty in their
hands, offering it alternately, not to the highest bidder, but to the
power that would be willing to accept their allegiance, on the sole
condition of assisting them in the maintenance of their religious
freedom.



CHAPTER II.

     Relations of the Republic to France--Queen's Severity towards
     Catholics and Calvinists--Relative Positions of England and France--
     Timidity of Germany--Apathy of Protestant Germany--Indignation of
     the Netherlanders--Henry III. of France--The King and his Minions--
     Henry of Guise--Henry of Navarre--Power of France--Embassy of the
     States to France--Ignominious position of the Envoys--Views of the
     French Huguenots--Efforts to procure Annexation--Success of Des
     Pruneaux.

The Prince of Orange had always favoured a French policy.  He had ever
felt a stronger reliance upon the support of France than upon that of any
other power.  This was not unreasonable, and so long as he lived, the
tendency of the Netherlands had been in that direction.  It had never
been the wish of England to acquire the sovereignty of the Provinces.  In
France on the contrary, the Queen Dowager, Catharine de' Medici had
always coveted that sovereignty for her darling Francis of Alencon; and
the design had been favoured, so far as any policy could be favoured, by
the impotent monarch who occupied the French throne.

The religion of the United Netherlands was Calvinistic.  There were also
many Anabaptists in the country.  The Queen of England hated Anabaptists,
Calvinists, and other sectarians, and banished them from her realms on
pain of imprisonment and confiscation of property.  As firmly opposed as
was her father to the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, she felt much of
the paternal reluctance to accept the spirit of the Reformation.  Henry
Tudor hanged the men who believed in the Pope, and burnt alive those who
disbelieved in transubstantiation, auricular confession, and the other
'Six Articles.'  His daughter, whatever her secret religious convictions,
was stanch in her resistance to Rome, and too enlightened a monarch not
to see wherein the greatness and glory of England were to be found; but
she had no thought of tolerating liberty of conscience.  All opposed to
the Church of England, whether Papists or Puritans, were denounced as
heretics, and as such imprisoned or banished.  "To allow churches with
contrary rites and ceremonies," said Elizabeth, "were nothing else but to
sow religion out of religion, to distract good men's minds, to cherish
factious men's humours, to disturb religion and commonwealth, and mingle
divine and human things; which were a thing in deed evil, in example
worst of all; to our own subjects hurtful, and to themselves--to whom it
is granted, neither greatly commodious, nor yet at all safe."--[Camden]
The words were addressed, it is true, to Papists, but there is very
little doubt that Anabaptists or any other heretics would have received a
similar reply, had they, too, ventured to demand the right of public
worship.  It may even be said that the Romanists in the earlier days of
Elizabeth's reign fared better than the Calvinists.  The Queen neither
banished nor imprisoned the Catholics.  She did not enter their houses to
disturb their private religious ceremonies, or to inquire into their
consciences.  This was milder treatment than the burning alive, burying
alive, hanging, and drowning, which had been dealt out to the English and
the Netherland heretics by Philip and by Mary, but it was not the spirit
which William the Silent had been wont to manifest in his measures
towards Anabaptists and Papists alike.  Moreover, the Prince could hardly
forget that of the nine thousand four hundred Catholic ecclesiastics who
held benefices at the death of Queen Mary, all had renounced the Pope on
the accession of Queen Elizabeth, and acknowledged her as the head of the
church, saving only one hundred and eighty-nine individuals.  In the
hearts of the nine thousand two hundred and eleven others, it might be
thought perhaps that some tenderness for the religion from which they had
so suddenly been converted, might linger, while it could hardly be hoped
that they would seek to inculcate in the minds of their flocks or of
their sovereign any connivance with the doctrines of Geneva.

When,  at a later period, the plotting of Catholics, suborned by the Pope
and Philip, against the throne and person of the Queen, made more
rigorous measures necessary; when it was thought indispensable to execute
as traitors those Roman seedlings--seminary priests and their disciples--
who went about preaching to the Queen's subjects the duty of carrying out
the bull by which the Bishop of Rome had deposed and excommunicated their
sovereign, and that "it was a meritorious act to kill such princes as
were excommunicate," even then, the men who preached and practised
treason and murder experienced no severer treatment than that which other
"heretics" had met with at the Queen's hands.  Jesuits and Popish priests
were, by Act of Parliament, ordered to depart the realm within forty
days.  Those who should afterwards return to the kingdom were to be held
guilty of high treason.  Students in the foreign seminaries were
commanded to return within six months and recant, or be held guilty of
high treason.  Parents and guardians supplying money to such students
abroad were to incur the penalty of a preamunire--perpetual exile,
namely, with loss of all their goods.

Many seminary priests and others were annually executed in England under
these laws, throughout the Queen's reign, but nominally at least they
were hanged not as Papists, but as traitors; not because they taught
transubstantiation, ecclesiastical celibacy, auricular confession, or
even Papal supremacy, but because they taught treason and murder--because
they preached the necessity of killing the Queen.  It was not so easy,
however, to defend or even comprehend the banishment and imprisonment of
those who without conspiring against the Queen's life or throne, desired
to see the Church of England reformed according to the Church of Geneva.
Yet there is no doubt that many sectaries experienced much inhuman
treatment for such delinquency, both in the early and the later years of
Elizabeth's reign.

There was another consideration, which had its due weight in this
balance, and that was the respective succession to the throne in the two
kingdoms of France and England.  Mary Stuart, the Catholic, the niece of
the Guises, emblem and exponent of all that was most Roman in Europe, the
sworn friend of Philip, the mortal foe to all heresy, was the legitimate
successor to Elizabeth.  Although that sovereign had ever refused to
recognize that claim; holding that to confirm Mary in the succession was
to "lay her own winding sheet before her eyes, yea, to make her, own
grave, while she liveth and looketh on;" and although the unfortunate
claimant of two thrones was a prisoner in her enemy's hands, yet, so long
as she lived, there was little security for Protestantism, even in
Elizabeth's lifetime, and less still in case of her sudden death.  On the
other hand, not only were the various politico-religious forces of France
kept in equilibrium by their action upon each other--so that it was
reasonable to believe that the House of Valois, however Catholic itself,
would be always compelled by the fast-expanding strength of French
Calvinism, to observe faithfully a compact to tolerate the Netherland
churches--but, upon the death of Henry III.  the crown would be
legitimately placed upon the head of the great champion and chief of the
Huguenots, Henry of Navarre.

It was not unnatural, therefore, that the Prince of Orange, a Calvinist
himself, should expect more sympathy with the Netherland reformers in
France than in England.  A large proportion of the population of that
kingdom, including an influential part of the nobility, was of the
Huguenot persuasion, and the religious peace, established by royal edict,
had endured so long, that the reformers of France and the Netherlands had
begun to believe in the royal clemency, and to confide in the royal word.
Orange did not live to see the actual formation of the Holy League, and
could only guess at its secrets.

Moreover, it should be remembered that France at that day was a more
formidable state than England, a more dangerous enemy, and, as it was
believed, a more efficient protector.  The England of the period,
glorious as it was for its own and all future ages, was, not the great
British Empire of to-day.  On the contrary, it was what would now be
considered, statistically speaking, a rather petty power.  The England of
Elizabeth, Walsingham, Burghley, Drake, and Raleigh, of Spenser and
Shakspeare, hardly numbered a larger population than now dwells in its
capital and immediate suburbs.  It had neither standing army nor
considerable royal navy.  It was full of conspirators, daring and
unscrupulous, loyal to none save to Mary of Scotland, Philip of Spain,
and the Pope of Rome, and untiring in their efforts to bring about a
general rebellion.  With Ireland at its side, nominally a subject
province, but in a state of chronic insurrection--a perpetual hot-bed for
Spanish conspiracy and stratagem; with Scotland at its back, a foreign
country, with half its population exasperated enemies of England, and the
rest but doubtful friends, and with the legitimate sovereign of that
country, "the daughter of debate, who discord still did sow,"--[Sonnet by
Queen Elizabeth.]--a prisoner in Elizabeth's hands, the central point
around which treason was constantly crystallizing itself, it was not
strange that with the known views of the Queen on the subject of the
reformed Dutch religion, England should seem less desirable as a
protector for the Netherlands than the neighbouring kingdom of France.

Elizabeth was a great sovereign, whose genius Orange always appreciated,
in a comparatively feeble realm.  Henry of Valois was the contemptible
monarch of a powerful state, and might be led by others to produce
incalculable mischief or considerable good.  Notwithstanding the massacre
of St. Bartholomew, therefore, and the more recent "French fury" of
Antwerp, Orange had been willing to countenance fresh negociations with
France.

Elizabeth, too, it should never be forgotten, was, if not over generous,
at least consistent and loyal in her policy towards the Provinces.  She
was not precisely jealous of France, as has been unjustly intimated on
distinguished authority, for she strongly advocated the renewed offer of
the sovereignty to Anjou, after his memorable expulsion from the
Provinces.  At that period, moreover, not only her own love-coquetries
with Anjou were over, but he was endeavouring with all his might, though
in secret, to make a match with the younger Infanta of Spain.  Elizabeth
furthered the negociation with France, both publicly and privately.  It
will soon be narrated how those negociations prospered.

If then England were out of the, question, where, except in France,
should the Netherlanders, not deeming themselves capable of standing
alone, seek for protection and support?

We have seen the extensive and almost ubiquitous power of Spain.  Where
she did not command as sovereign, she was almost equally formidable as an
ally.  The Emperor of Germany was the nephew and the brother-in-law of
Philip, and a strict Catholic besides.  Little aid was to be expected
from him or the lands under his control for the cause of the Netherland
revolt.  Rudolph hated his brother-in-law, but lived in mortal fear of
him.  He was also in perpetual dread of the Grand Turk.  That formidable
potentate, not then the "sick man" whose precarious condition and
territorial inheritance cause so much anxiety in modern days, was, it is
true, sufficiently occupied for the moment in Persia, and had been
sustaining there a series of sanguinary defeats.  He was all the more
anxious to remain upon good terms with Philip, and had recently sent him
a complimentary embassy, together with some rather choice presents, among
which were "four lions, twelve unicorns, and two horses coloured white,
black, and blue."  Notwithstanding these pacific manifestations towards
the West, however, and in spite of the truce with the German Empire which
the Turk had just renewed for nine years,--Rudolph and his servants still
trembled at every report from the East.

"He is much deceived," wrote Busbecq, Rudolph's ambassador in Paris, "who
doubts that the Turk has sought any thing by this long Persian war, but
to protect his back, and prepare the way, after subduing that enemy, to
the extermination of all Christendom, and that he will then, with all his
might, wage an unequal warfare with us, in which the existence of the
Empire will be at stake."

The envoy expressed, at the same period, however, still greater awe of
Spain.  "It is to no one," he wrote, "endowed with good judgment, in the
least obscure, that the Spanish nation, greedy of empire, will never be
quiet, even with their great power, but will seek for the dominion of the
rest of Christendom.  How much remains beyond what they have already
acquired?  Afterwards, there will soon be no liberty, no dignity, for
other princes and republics.  That single nation will be arbiter of all
things, than which nothing can be more miserable, nothing more degrading.
It cannot be doubted that all kings, princes, and states, whose safety or
dignity is dear to them, would willingly associate in arms to extinguish
the common conflagration.  The death of the Catholic king would seem the
great opportunity 'miscendis rebus'."

Unfortunately neither Busbecq's master nor any other king or prince
manifested any of this commendable alacrity to "take up arms against the
conflagration."  Germany was in a shiver at every breeze from East or
West-trembling alike before Philip and Amurath.  The Papists were making
rapid progress, the land being undermined by the steady and stealthy
encroachments of the Jesuits.  Lord Burghley sent many copies of his
pamphlet, in Latin, French, and Italian, against the Seminaries, to
Gebhard Truchsess; and the deposed archbishop made himself busy in
translating that wholesome production into German, and in dispersing it
"all Germany over."  The work, setting duly forth "that the executions of
priests in England were not for religion but for treason," was
"marvellously liked" in the Netherlands.  "In uttering the truth," said
Herle, "'tis likely to do great good;" and he added, that Duke Augustus
of Saxony "did now see so far into the sect of Jesuits, and to their
inward mischiefs, as to become their open enemy, and to make friends
against them in the Empire."

The love of Truchsess for Agnes Mansfeld had created disaster not only
for himself but for Germany.  The whole electorate of Cologne had become
the constant seat of partisan warfare, and the resort of organised bands
of brigands.  Villages were burned and rifled, highways infested, cities
threatened, and the whole country subjected to perpetual black mail
(brandschatzung)--fire-insurance levied by the incendiaries in person--by
the supporters of the rival bishops.  Truchsess had fled to Delft, where
he had been countenanced and supported by Orange.  Two cities still held
for him, Rheinberg and Neuss.  On the other hand, his rival, Ernest of
Bavaria; supported by Philip II., and the occasional guest of Alexander
of Parma, had not yet succeeded in establishing a strong foothold in the
territory.  Two pauper archbishops, without men or means of their own,
were thus pushed forward and back, like puppets, by the contending
highwaymen on either side; while robbery and murder, under the name of
Protestantism or Catholicism, were for a time the only motive or result
of the contest.

Thus along the Rhine, as well as the Maas and the Scheldt, the fires of
civil war were ever burning.  Deeper within the heart of Germany, there
was more tranquillity; but it was the tranquillity rather of paralysis
than of health.  A fearful account was slowly accumulating, which was
evidently to be settled only by one of the most horrible wars which
history has ever recorded.  Meantime there was apathy where there should
have been enthusiasm; parsimony and cowardice where generous and combined
effort were more necessary than ever; sloth without security.  The
Protestant princes, growing fat and contented on the spoils of the
church, lent but a deaf ear to the moans of Truchsess, forgetting that
their neighbour's blazing roof was likely soon to fire their own.  "They
understand better, 'proximus sum egomet mild'," wrote Lord Willoughby
from Kronenburg, "than they have learned, 'humani nihid a me alienum
puto'.  These German princes continue still in their lethargy, careless
of the state of others, and dreaming of their ubiquity, and some of them,
it is thought, inclining to be Spanish or Popish more of late than
heretofore."

The beggared archbishop, more forlorn than ever since the death of his
great patron, cried woe from his resting-place in Delft, upon Protestant
Germany.  His tones seemed almost prophetic of the thirty years' wrath to
blaze forth in the next generation.  "Courage is wanting to the people
throughout Germany," he wrote to William Lewis of Nassau.  "We are
becoming the laughing-stock of the nations.  Make sheep of yourselves,
and the wolf will eat you.  We shall find our destruction in our
immoderate desire for peace.  Spain is making a Papistical league in
Germany.  Therefore is Assonleville despatched thither, and that's the
reason why our trash of priests are so insolent in the empire.  'Tis
astonishing how they are triumphing on all sides.  God will smite them.
Thou dear God!  What are our evangelists about in Germany?  Asleep on
both ears.  'Dormiunt in utramque aurem'.  I doubt they will be suddenly
enough awakened one day, and the cry will be, 'Who'd have thought it?'
Then they will be for getting oil for the lamp, for shutting the stable-
door when the steed is stolen," and so on, with a string of homely
proverbs worthy of Sancho Panza, or landgrave William of Hesse.

In truth, one of the most painful features is the general aspect of
affairs was the coldness of the German Protestants towards the
Netherlands.  The enmity between Lutherans and Calvinists was almost as
fatal as that between Protestants and Papists.  There was even a talk, at
a little later period, of excluding those of the "reformed" church from
the benefits of the peace of Passau.  The princes had got the Augsburg
confession and the abbey-lands into the bargain; the peasants had got the
Augsburg confession without the abbey-lands, and were to believe exactly
what their masters believed.  This was the German-Lutheran sixteenth-
century idea of religious freedom.  Neither prince nor peasant stirred in
behalf of the struggling Christians in the United Provinces, battling,
year after year, knee-deep in blood, amid blazing cities and inundated
fields, breast to breast with the yellow jerkined pikemen of Spain and
Italy, with the axe and the faggot and the rack of the Holy Inquisition
distinctly visible behind them.  Such were the realities which occupied
the Netherlanders in those days, not watery beams of theological
moonshine, fantastical catechism-making, intermingled with scenes of riot
and wantonness, which drove old John of Nassau half frantic; with
banquetting and guzzling, drinking and devouring, with unchristian
flaunting and wastefulness of apparel, with extravagant and wanton
dancing, and other lewd abominations; all which, the firm old reformer
prophesied, would lead to the destruction of Germany.

For the mass, slow moving but apparently irresistible, of Spanish and
papistical absolutism was gradually closing over Christendom.  The
Netherlands were the wedge by which alone the solid bulk could be riven
asunder.  It was the cause of German, of French, of English liberty, for
which the Provinces were contending.  It was not surprising that they
were bitter, getting nothing in their hour of distress from the land of
Luther but dogmas and Augsburg catechisms instead of money and gunpowder,
and seeing German reiters galloping daily to reinforce the army of Parma
in exchange for Spanish ducats.

Brave old La Noue, with the iron arm, noblest of Frenchmen and Huguenots
--who had just spent five years in Spanish bondage, writing military
discourses in a reeking dungeon, filled with toads and vermin, after
fighting the battle of liberty for a life-time, and with his brave son
already in the Netherlands emulating his father's valour on the same
field--denounced at a little later day, the lukewarmness of Protestant
Germany with whimsical vehemence:--"I am astounded," he cried, "that
these princes are not ashamed of themselves; doing nothing while they see
the oppressed cut to pieces at their gates.  When will God grant me grace
to place me among those who are doing their duty, and afar from those who
do nothing, and who ought to know that the cause is a common one.  If I
am ever caught dancing the German cotillon, or playing the German flute,
or eating pike with German sauce, I hope it may be flung in my teeth."

The great league of the Pope and Philip was steadily consolidating
itself, and there were but gloomy prospects for the counter-league in
Germany.  There was no hope but in England and France.  For the reasons
already indicated, the Prince of Orange, taking counsel with the Estates,
had resolved to try the French policy once more.  The balance of power in
Europe, which no man in Christendom so well understood as he, was to be
established by maintaining (he thought) the equilibrium between France
and Spain.  In the antagonism of those two great realms lay the only hope
for Dutch or European liberty.  Notwithstanding the treason of Anjou,
therefore, it had been decided to renew negociations with that Prince.
On the death of the Duke, the envoys of the States were accordingly
instructed to make the offer to King Henry III. which had been intended
for his brother.  That proposition was the sovereignty of all the
Netherlands, save Holland and Zeeland, under a constitution maintaining
the reformed religion and the ancient laws and privileges of the
respective provinces.

But the death of Francis of Anjou had brought about a considerable change
in French policy.  It was now more sharply defined than ever, a right-
angled triangle of almost mathematical precision.  The three Henrys and
their partizans divided the realm into three hostile camps--threatening
each other in simulated peace since the treaty of Fleig (1580), which had
put an end to the "lover's war" of the preceding year,--Henry of Valois,
Henry of Guise, and Henry of Navarre.

Henry III., last of the Valois line, was now thirty-three years of age.
Less than king, less even than man, he was one of those unfortunate
personages who seem as if born to make the idea of royalty ridiculous,
and to test the capacity of mankind to eat and drink humiliation as if it
were wholesome food.  It proved how deeply engraved in men's minds of
that century was the necessity of kingship, when the hardy Netherlanders,
who had abjured one tyrant, and had been fighting a generation long
rather than return to him, were now willing to accept the sovereignty of
a thing like Henry of Valois.

He had not been born without natural gifts, such as Heaven rarely denies
to prince or peasant; but the courage which he once possessed had been
exhausted on the field of Moncontour, his manhood had been left behind
him at Venice, and such wit as Heaven had endowed him withal was now
expended in darting viperous epigrams at court-ladies whom he was only
capable of dishonouring by calumny, and whose charms he burned to
outrival in the estimation of his minions.  For the monarch of France was
not unfrequently pleased to attire himself like a woman and a harlot.
With silken flounces, jewelled stomacher, and painted face, with pearls
of great price adorning his bared neck and breast, and satin-slippered
feet, of whose delicate shape and size he was justly vain, it was his
delight to pass his days and nights in a ceaseless round of gorgeous
festivals, tourneys, processions; masquerades, banquets, and balls, the
cost of which glittering frivolities caused the popular burthen and the
popular execration to grow, from day to day, more intolerable and more
audible.  Surrounded by a gang of "minions," the most debauched and the
most desperate of France, whose bedizened dresses exhaled perfumes
throughout Paris, and whose sanguinary encounters dyed every street in
blood, Henry lived a life of what he called pleasure, careless of what
might come after, for he was the last of his race.  The fortunes of his
minions rose higher and higher, as their crimes rendered them more and
more estimable in the eyes of a King who took a woman's pride in the
valour of such champions to his weakness, and more odious to a people
whose miserable homes were made even more miserable, that the coffers of
a few court-favourites might be filled: Now sauntering, full-dressed, in
the public promenades, with ghastly little death's heads strung upon his
sumptuous garments, and fragments of human bones dangling among his
orders of knighthood--playing at cup and ball as he walked, and followed
by a few select courtiers who gravely pursued the same exciting
occupation--now presiding like a queen of beauty at a tournament to
assign the prize of valour, and now, by the advice of his mother, going
about the streets in robes of penitence, telling his beads as he went,
that the populace might be edified by his piety, and solemnly offering up
prayers in the churches that the blessing of an heir might be vouchsafed
to him,--Henry of Valois seemed straining every nerve in order to bring
himself and his great office into contempt.

As orthodox as he was profligate, he hated the Huguenots, who sought his
protection and who could have saved his throne, as cordially as he loved
the Jesuits, who passed their lives in secret plottings against his
authority and his person, or in fierce denunciations from the Paris
pulpits against his manifold crimes.  Next to an exquisite and sanguinary
fop, he dearly loved a monk.  The presence of a friar, he said, exerted
as agreeable an effect upon his mind as the most delicate and gentle
tickling could produce upon his body; and he was destined to have a
fuller dose of that charming presence than he coveted.

His party--for he was but the nominal chief of a faction, 'tanquam unus
ex nobis'--was the party in possession--the office-holders' party; the
spoilsmen, whose purpose was to rob the exchequer and to enrich
themselves.  His minions--for the favourites were called by no other
name--were even more hated, because less despised than the King.  Attired
in cloth of gold--for silk and satin were grown too coarse a material for
them--with their little velvet porringer-caps stuck on the sides of their
heads, with their long hair stiff with pomatum, and their heads set
inside a well-starched ruff a foot wide, "like St. John's head in a
charger," as a splenetic contemporary observed, with a nimbus of musk and
violet-powder enveloping them as they passed before vulgar mortals, these
rapacious and insolent courtiers were the impersonation of extortion and
oppression to the Parisian populace.  They were supposed, not unjustly,
to pass their lives in dancing, blasphemy, dueling, dicing, and intrigue,
in following the King about like hounds, fawning at his feet, and showing
their teeth to all besides; and for virtues such as these they were
rewarded by the highest offices in church, camp, and state, while new
taxes and imposts were invented almost daily to feed their avarice and
supply their extravagance.  France, doomed to feel the beak and talons of
these harpies in its entrails, impoverished by a government that robbed
her at home while it humiliated her abroad, struggled vainly in its
misery, and was now on the verge of another series of internecine
combats--civil war seeming the only alternative to a voluptuous and
licentious peace.

"We all stood here at gaze," wrote ambassador Stafford to Walsingham,
"looking for some great matter to come of this sudden journey to Lyons;
but, as far as men can find, 'parturient montes', for there hath been
nothing but dancing and banquetting from one house to another, bravery in
apparel, glittering like the sun."  He, mentioned that the Duke of
Epernon's horse, taking fright at a red cloak, had backed over a
precipice, breaking his own neck, while his master's shoulder merely was
put out of joint.  At the same time the Duke of Joyeuse, coming over
Mount Cenis, on his return from Savoy, had broken his wrist.  The people,
he said, would rather they had both broken their necks "than any other
joint, the King having racked the nation for their sakes, as he hath-
done."  Stafford expressed much compassion for the French in the plight
in which they found themselves.  "Unhappy people!"  he cried, "to have
such a King, who seeketh nothing but to impoverish them to enrich a
couple, and who careth not what cometh after his death, so that he may
rove on while he liveth, and careth neither for doing his own estate good
nor his neighbour's state harm."  Sir Edward added, however, in a
philosophizing vein, worthy of Corporal Nym, that, "seeing we cannot be
so happy as to have a King to concur with us to do us any good, yet we
are happy to have one that his humour serveth him not to concur with
others to do us harm; and 'tis a wisdom for us to follow these humours,
that we may keep him still in that humour, and from hearkening to others
that may egg him on to worse."

It was a dark hour for France, and rarely has a great nation been reduced
to a lower level by a feeble and abandoned government than she was at
that moment under the distaff of Henry III.  Society was corrupted to its
core.  "There is no more truth, no more justice, no more mercy," moaned
President L'Etoile.  "To slander, to lie, to rob, to wench, to steal; all
things are permitted save to do right and to speak the truth."  Impiety
the most cynical, debauchery the most unveiled, public and unpunished
homicides, private murders by what was called magic, by poison, by hired
assassins, crimes natural, unnatural, and preternatural, were the common
characteristics of the time.  All posts and charges were venal.  Great
offices of justice were sold to the highest bidder, and that which was
thus purchased by wholesale was retailed in the same fashion.  Unhappy
the pauper client who dreamed of justice at the hands of law.  The great
ecclesiastical benefices were equally matter of merchandise, and married
men, women, unborn children, enjoyed revenues as dignitaries of the
church.  Infants came into the world, it was said, like the mitre-fish,
stamped with the emblems of place.

"'Twas impossible," said L'Etoile, "to find a crab so tortuous and
backsliding as the government."

This was the aspect of the first of the three factions in France.  Such
was the Henry at its head, the representative of royalty.

Henry with the Scar, Duke of Guise, the well-known chief of the house of
Lorraine, was the chief of the extreme papistical party.  He was now
thirty-four years of age, tall, stately, with a dark, martial face and
dangerous eyes, which Antonio Moro loved to paint; a physiognomy made
still more expressive by the arquebus-shot which had damaged his left
cheek at the fight near Chateau-Thierry and gained him his name of
Balafre.  Although one of the most turbulent and restless plotters of
that plotting age, he was yet thought more slow and heavy in character
than subtle, Teutonic rather than Italian.  He was the idol of the
Parisian burghers.  The grocers, the market-men, the members of the
arquebus and crossbow clubs, all doated on him.  The fishwomen worshipped
him as a god.  He was the defender of the good old religion under which
Paris and the other cities of France had thriven, the uncompromising
opponent of the new-fangled doctrines which western clothiers, and dyers,
and tapestry-workers, had adopted, and which the nobles of the mountain-
country, the penniless chevaliers of Bearn and Gascony and Guienne, were
ceaselessly taking the field and plunging France into misery and
bloodshed to support.  But for the Balafre and Madam League--as the great
Spanish Catholic conspiracy against the liberties of France, and of
England, and of all Europe, was affectionately termed by the Paris
populace--honest Catholics would fare no better in France than they did
in England, where, as it was well known, they were every day subjected to
fearful tortures: The shopwindows were filled with coloured engravings,
representing, in exaggerated fashion, the sufferings of the English
Catholics under bloody Elizabeth, or Jezebel, as she was called; and as
the gaping burghers stopped to ponder over these works of art, there were
ever present, as if by accident, some persons of superior information who
would condescendingly explain the various pictures, pointing out with a
long stick the phenomena most worthy of notice.  These caricatures
proving highly successful, and being suppressed by order of government,
they were repeated upon canvas on a larger scale, in still more
conspicuous situations, as if in contempt of the royal authority, which
sullied itself by compromise with Calvinism!  The pulpits, meanwhile,
thundered denunciations on the one hand against the weak and wicked King,
who worshipped idols, and who sacrificed the dearly-earned pittance of
his subjects to feed the insolent pomp of his pampered favourites; and on
the other, upon the arch-heretic, the arch-apostate, the Bearnese
Huguenot, who, after the death of the reigning monarch, would have the
effrontery to claim his throne, and to introduce into France the
persecutions and the horrors under which unhappy England was already
groaning.

The scarce-concealed instigator of these assaults upon the royal and upon
the Huguenot faction was, of course, the Duke of Guise,--the man whose
most signal achievement had been the Massacre of St. Bartholomew--all the
preliminary details of that transaction having been arranged by his
skill.  So long as Charles IX. was living, the Balafre had created the
confusion which was his element, by entertaining and fomenting the
perpetual intrigues of Anjou and Alencon against their brother; while the
altercations between them and the Queen Mother and the furious madman who
then sat upon the throne, had been the cause of sufficient disorder and
calamity for France.  On the death of Charles IX.  Guise had sought the
intimacy of Henry of Navarre, that by his means he might frustrate the
hopes of Alencon for the succession.  During the early period of the
Bearnese's residence at the French court the two had been inseparable,
living together, going to the same festivals, tournaments, and
masquerades, and even sleeping in the same bed.  "My master," was ever
Guise's address to Henry; "my gossip," the young King of Navarre's reply.
But the crafty Bearnese had made use of the intimacy only to read the
secrets of the Balafre's heart; and on Navarre's flight from the court,
and his return to Huguenotism, Guise knew that he had been played upon by
a subtler spirit than his own.  The simulated affection was now changed
into undisguised hatred.  Moreover, by the death of Alencon, Navarre now
stood next the throne, and Guise's plots became still more extensive and
more open as his own ambition to usurp the crown on the death of the
childless Henry III.  became more fervid.

Thus, by artfully inflaming the populace of Paris, and through his
organized bands of confederates--that of all the large towns of France,
against the Huguenots and their chief, by appeals to the religious
sentiment; and at the same time by stimulating the disgust and
indignation of the tax-payers everywhere at the imposts and heavy
burthens which the boundless extravagance of the court engendered, Guise
paved the way for the advancement of the great League which he
represented.  The other two political divisions were ingeniously
represented as mere insolent factions, while his own was the true
national and patriotic party, by which alone the ancient religion and the
cherished institutions of France could be preserved.

And the great chief of this national patriotic party was not Henry of
Guise, but the industrious old man who sat writing despatches in the
depths of the Escorial.  Spanish counsels, Spanish promises, Spanish
ducats--these were the real machinery by which the plots of Guise against
the peace of France and of Europe were supported.  Madam League was
simply Philip II.  Nothing was written, officially or unofficially, to
the French government by the Spanish court that was not at the same time
communicated to "Mucio"--as the Duke of Guise was denominated in the
secret correspondence of Philip, and Mucio was in Philip's pay, his
confidential agent, spy, and confederate, long before the actual
existence of the League was generally suspected.

The Queen-Mother, Catharine de' Medici, played into the Duke's hands.
Throughout the whole period of her widowhood, having been accustomed to
govern her sons, she had, in a certain sense, been used to govern the
kingdom.  By sowing dissensions among her own children, by inflaming
party against party, by watching with care the oscillations of France
--so than none of the great divisions should obtain preponderance--by
alternately caressing and massacring the Huguenots, by cajoling or
confronting Philip, by keeping, as she boasted, a spy in every family
that possessed the annual income of two thousand livres, by making
herself the head of an organized system of harlotry, by which the
soldiers and politicians of France were inveigled, their secrets
faithfully revealed to her by her well-disciplined maids of honour, by
surrounding her unfortunate sons with temptation from earliest youth, and
plunging them by cold calculation into deepest debauchery, that their
enervated faculties might be ever forced to rely in political affairs on
the maternal counsel, and to abandon the administration to the maternal
will; such were the arts by which Catharine had maintained her influence,
and a great country been governed for a generation--Machiavellian state-
craft blended with the more simple wiles of a procuress.

Now that Alencon was dead, and Henry III. hopeless of issue, it was her
determination that the children of her daughter, the Duchess of Lorraine,
should succeed to the throne.  The matter was discussed as if the throne
were already vacant, and Guise and the Queen-Mother, if they agreed in
nothing else, were both cordial in their detestation of Henry of Navarre.
The Duke affected to support the schemes in favour of his relatives, the
Princes of Lorraine, while he secretly informed the Spanish court that
this policy was only a pretence.  He was not likely, he said, to advance
the interests of the younger branch of a house of which he was himself
the chief, nor were their backs equal to the burthen.  It was necessary
to amuse the old queen, but he was profoundly of opinion that the only
sovereign for France, upon the death of Henry, was Philip II. himself.
This was the Duke's plan of arriving, by means of Spanish assistance,
at the throne of France; and such was Henry le Balafre, chief of the
League.

And the other Henry, the Huguenot, the Bearnese, Henry of Bourbon, Henry
of Navarre, the chieftain of the Gascon chivalry, the king errant, the
hope and the darling of the oppressed Protestants in every land--of him
it is scarce needful to say a single word.  At his very name a figure
seems to leap forth from the mist of three centuries, instinct with ruddy
vigorous life.  Such was the intense vitality of the Bearnese prince,
that even now he seems more thoroughly alive and recognizable than half
the actual personages who are fretting their hour upon the stage.

We see, at once, a man of moderate stature, light, sinewy, and strong; a
face browned with continual exposure; small, mirthful, yet commanding
blue eyes, glittering from beneath an arching brow, and prominent
cheekbones; a long hawk's nose, almost resting upon a salient chin, a
pendent moustache, and a thick, brown, curly beard, prematurely grizzled;
we see the mien of frank authority and magnificent good humour, we hear
the ready sallies of the shrewd Gascon mother-wit, we feel the
electricity which flashes out of him, and sets all hearts around him on
fire, when the trumpet sounds to battle.  The headlong desperate charge,
the snow-white plume waving where the fire is hottest, the large capacity
for enjoyment of the man, rioting without affectation in the 'certaminis
gaudia', the insane gallop, after the combat, to lay its trophies at the
feet of the Cynthia of the minute, and thus to forfeit its fruits; all
are as familiar to us as if the seven distinct wars, the hundred pitched
battles, the two hundred sieges; in which the Bearnese was personally
present, had been occurrences of our own day.

He at least was both king and man, if the monarch who occupied the throne
was neither.  He was the man to prove, too, for the instruction of the
patient letter-writer of the Escorial, that the crown of France was to be
won with foot in stirrup and carbine in hand, rather than to be caught by
the weaving and casting of the most intricate nets of diplomatic
intrigue, though thoroughly weighted with Mexican gold.

The King of Navarre was now thirty-one years old; for the three Henrys
were nearly of the same age.  The first indications of his existence had
been recognized amid the cannon and trumpets of a camp in Picardy, and
his mother had sung a gay Bearnese song as he was coming into the world
at Pau.  Thus, said his grandfather, Henry of Navarre, thou shalt not
bear to us a morose and sulky child.  The good king, without a kingdom,
taking the child, as soon as born, in the lappel of his dressing-gown,
had brushed his infant lips with a clove of garlic, and moistened them
with a drop of generous Gascon wine.  Thus, said the grandfather again,
shall the boy be both merry and bold.  There was something mythologically
prophetic in the incidents of his birth.

The best part of Navarre had been long since appropriated by Ferdinand of
Aragon.  In France there reigned a young and warlike sovereign with four
healthy boys.  But the new-born infant had inherited the lilies of France
from St. Louis, and a later ancestor had added to the escutcheon the
motto "Espoir."  His grandfather believed that the boy was born to
revenge upon Spain the wrongs of the House of Albret, and Henry's nature
seemed ever.  pervaded with Robert of Clermont's device.

The same sensible grandfather, having different views on the subject of
education from those manifested by Catherine de Medici towards her
children, had the boy taught to run about bare-headed and bare-footed,
like a peasant, among the mountains and rocks of Bearn, till he became as
rugged as a young bear, and as nimble as a kid.  Black bread, and beef,
and garlic, were his simple fare; and he was taught by his mother and his
grandfather to hate lies and liars, and to read the Bible.

When he was fifteen, the third religious war broke out.  Both his father
and grandfather were dead.  His mother, who had openly professed the
reformed faith, since the death of her husband, who hated it, brought her
boy to the camp at Rochelle, where he was received as the chief of the
Huguenots.  His culture was not extensive.  He had learned to speak the
truth, to ride, to shoot, to do with little sleep and less food.  He
could also construe a little Latin, and had read a few military
treatises; but the mighty hours of an eventful life were now to take him
by the hand, and to teach him much good and much evil, as they bore him
onward.  He now saw military treatises expounded practically by
professors, like his uncle Condo, and Admiral Coligny, and Lewis Nassau,
in such lecture-rooms as Laudun, and Jarnac, and Montcontour, and never
was apter scholar.

The peace of Arnay-le-Duc succeeded, and then the fatal Bartholomew
marriage with the Messalina of Valois.  The faith taught in the mountains
of Bearn was no buckler against the demand of "the mass or death,"
thundered at his breast by the lunatic Charles, as he pointed to
thousands of massacred Huguenots.  Henry yielded to such conclusive
arguments, and became a Catholic.  Four years of court imprisonment
succeeded, and the young King of Navarre, though proof to the artifices
of his gossip Guise, was not adamant to the temptations spread for him by
Catherine de' Medici.  In the harem entertained for him in the Louvre
many pitfalls entrapped him; and he became a stock-performer in the state
comedies and tragedies of that plotting age.

A silken web of palace-politics, palace-diplomacy, palace revolutions,
enveloped him.  Schemes and counter-schemes, stratagems and conspiracies,
assassinations and poisonings; all the state-machinery which worked so
exquisitely in fair ladies' chambers, to spread havoc and desolation over
a kingdom, were displayed before his eyes.  Now campaigning with one
royal brother against Huguenots, now fighting with another on their side,
now solicited by the Queen-Mother to attempt the life of her son, now
implored by Henry III. to assassinate his brother, the Bearnese, as fresh
antagonisms, affinities; combinations, were developed, detected,
neutralized almost daily, became rapidly an adept in Medicean state-
chemistry.  Charles IX. in his grave, Henry III. on the throne, Alencon
in the Huguenot camp--Henry at last made his escape.  The brief war and
peace of Monsieur succeeded, and the King of Navarre formally abjured the
Catholic creed.  The parties were now sharply defined.  Guise mounted
upon the League, Henry astride upon the Reformation, were prepared to do
battle to the death.  The temporary "war of the amorous" was followed by
the peace of Fleix.

Four years of peace again; four fat years of wantonness and riot
preceding fourteen hungry famine-stricken years of bloodiest civil war.
The voluptuousness and infamy of the Louvre were almost paralleled in
vice, if not in splendour, by the miniature court at Pau.  Henry's
Spartan grandfather would scarce have approved the courses of the youth,
whose education he had commenced on so simple a scale.  For Margaret
of Valois, hating her husband, and living in most undisguised and
promiscuous infidelity to him, had profited by her mother's lessons.
A seraglio of maids of honour ministered to Henry's pleasures, and were
carefully instructed that the peace and war of the kingdom were
playthings in their hands.  While at Paris royalty was hopelessly sinking
in a poisonous marsh, there was danger that even the hardy nature of the
Bearnese would be mortally enervated by the atmosphere in which he lived.

The unhappy Henry III., baited by the Guises, worried by Alencon and his
mother, implored the King of Navarre to return to Paris and the Catholic
faith.  M. de Segur, chief of Navarre's council, who had been won over
during a visit to the capital, where he had made the discovery that
"Henry III. was an angel, and his ministers devils," came back to Pau,
urging his master's acceptance of the royal invitation.  Henry wavered.
Bold D'Aubigne, stanchest of Huguenots, and of his friends, next day
privately showed Segur a palace-window opening on a very steep precipice
over the Bayae, and cheerfully assured him that he should be flung from
it did he not instantly reverse his proceedings, and give his master
different advice.  If I am not able to do the deed myself, said
D'Aubigne, here are a dozen more to help me.  The chief of the council
cast a glance behind him, saw a number of grim Puritan soldiers, with
their hats plucked down upon their brows, looking very serious; so made
his bow, and quite changed his line of conduct.

At about the same time, Philip II. confidentially offered Henry of
Navarre four hundred thousand crowns in hand, and twelve hundred thousand
yearly, if he would consent to make war upon Henry III.  Mucio, or the
Duke of Guise, being still in Philip's pay, the combination of Leaguers
and Huguenots against the unfortunate Valois would, it was thought, be a
good triangular contest.

But Henry--no longer the unsophisticated youth who had been used to run
barefoot among the cliffs of Coarasse--was grown too crafty a politician
to be entangled by Spanish or Medicean wiles.  The Duke of Anjou was now
dead.  Of all the princes who had stood between him and the throne, there
was none remaining save the helpless, childless, superannuated youth, who
was its present occupant.  The King of Navarre was legitimate heir to the
crown of France.  "Espoir" was now in letters of light upon his shield,
but he knew that his path to greatness led through manifold dangers, and
that it was only at the head of his Huguenot chivalry that he could cut
his way.  He was the leader of the nobles of Gascony, and Dauphins, and
Guienne, in their mountain fastnesses, of the weavers, cutlers, and
artizans, in their thriving manufacturing and trading towns.  It was not
Spanish gold, but carbines and cutlasses, bows and bills, which could
bring him to the throne of his ancestors.

And thus he stood the chieftain of that great austere party of Huguenots,
the men who went on, their knees before the battle, beating their breasts
with their iron gauntlets, and singing in full chorus a psalm of David,
before smiting the Philistines hip and thigh.

Their chieftain, scarcely their representative--fit to lead his Puritans
on the battle-field, was hardly a model for them elsewhere.  Yet, though
profligate in one respect, he was temperate in every other.  In food,
wine, and sleep, he was always moderate.  Subtle and crafty in self-
defence, he retained something of his old love of truth, of his hatred
for liars.  Hardly generous perhaps, he was a friend of justice, while
economy in a wandering King, like himself, was a necessary virtue, of
which France one day was to feel the beneficent action.  Reckless and
headlong in appearance, he was in truth the most careful of men.  On the
religious question, most cautious of all, he always left the door open
behind him, disclaimed all bigotry of opinion, and earnestly implored the
Papists to seek, not his destruction, but his instruction.  Yet prudent
as he was by nature in every other regard, he was all his life the slave
of one woman or another, and it was by good luck rather than by sagacity
that he did not repeatedly forfeit the fruits of his courage and conduct,
in obedience to his master-passion.

Always open to conviction on the subject of his faith, he repudiated the
appellation of heretic.  A creed, he said, was not to be changed like a
shirt, but only on due deliberation, and under special advice.  In his
secret heart he probably regarded the two religions as his chargers, and
was ready to mount alternately the one or the other, as each seemed the
more likely to bear him safely in the battle.  The Bearnese was no
Puritan, but he was most true to himself and to his own advancement.  His
highest principle of action was to reach his goal, and to that principle
he was ever loyal.  Feeling, too, that it was the interest of France that
he should succeed, he was even inspired--compared with others on the
stage--by an almost lofty patriotism.

Amiable by nature and by habit, he had preserved the most unimpaired
good-humour throughout the horrible years which succeeded St.
Bartholomew, during which he carried his life in his hand, and learned
not to wear his heart upon his sleeve.  Without gratitude, without
resentment, without fear, without remorse, entirely arbitrary, yet with
the capacity to use all men's judgments; without convictions, save in
regard to his dynastic interests, he possessed all the qualities,
necessary to success.  He knew how to use his enemies.  He knew how to
use his friends, to abuse them, and to throw them away.  He refused to
assassinate Francis Alencon at the bidding of Henry III., but he
attempted to procure the murder of the truest of his own friends, one of
the noblest characters of the age--whose breast showed twelve scars
received in his services--Agrippa D'Aubigne, because the honest soldier
had refused to become his pimp--a service the King had implored upon his
knees.

Beneath the mask of perpetual careless good-humour, lurked the keenest
eye, a subtle, restless, widely combining brain, and an iron will.
Native sagacity had been tempered into consummate elasticity by the fiery
atmosphere in which feebler natures had been dissolved.  His wit was as
flashing and as quickly unsheathed as his sword.  Desperate, apparently
reckless temerity on the battle-field was deliberately indulged in, that
the world might be brought to recognise a hero and chieftain in a King.
The do-nothings of the Merovingian line had been succeeded by the Pepins;
to the effete Carlovingians had come a Capet; to the impotent Valois
should come a worthier descendant of St. Louis.  This was shrewd Gascon
calculation, aided by constitutional fearlessness.  When despatch-
writing, invisible Philips, stargazing Rudolphs, and petticoated Henrys,
sat upon the thrones of Europe, it was wholesome to show the world that
there was a King left who could move about in the bustle and business of
the age, and could charge as well as most soldiers at the head of his
cavalry; that there was one more sovereign fit to reign over men, besides
the glorious Virgin who governed England.

Thus courageous, crafty, far-seeing, consistent, untiring, imperturbable,
he was born to command, and had a right to reign.  He had need of the
throne, and the throne had still more need of him.

This then was the third Henry, representative of the third side of the
triangle, the reformers of the kingdom.

And before this bubbling cauldron of France, where intrigues, foreign and
domestic, conflicting ambitions, stratagems, and hopes, were whirling in
never-ceasing tumult, was it strange if the plain Netherland envoys
should stand somewhat aghast?

Yet it was necessary that they should ponder well the aspect of affairs;
for all their hopes, the very existence of themselves and of their
religion, depended upon the organization which should come of this chaos.

It must be remembered, however, that those statesmen--even the wisest or
the best-informed of them--could not take so correct a view of France and
its politics as it is possible for us, after the lapse of three
centuries, to do.  The interior leagues, subterranean schemes,
conflicting factions, could only be guessed at; nor could the immediate
future be predicted, even by such far-seeing politicians as William of
Orange; at a distance, or Henry of Navarre, upon the spot.

It was obvious to the Netherlanders that France, although torn by
faction, was a great and powerful realm.  There had now been, with the
brief exception of the lovers' war in 1580, a religious peace of eight
years' duration.  The Huguenots had enjoyed tranquil exercise of their
worship during that period, and they expressed perfect confidence in the
good faith of the King.  That the cities were inordinately taxed to
supply the luxury of the court could hardly be unknown to the
Netherlanders.  Nevertheless they knew that the kingdom was the richest
and most populous of Christendom, after that of Spain.  Its capital,
already called by contemporaries the "compendium of the world," was
described by travellers as "stupendous in extent and miraculous for its
numbers."  It was even said to contain eight hundred thousand souls; and
although, its actual population did not probably exceed three hundred and
twenty thousand, yet this was more than double the number of London's
inhabitants, and thrice as many as Antwerp could then boast, now that a
great proportion of its foreign denizens had been scared away.  Paris was
at least by one hundred thousand more populous than any city of Europe,
except perhaps the remote and barbarous Moscow, while the secondary
cities of France, Rouen in the north, Lyons in the centre, and Marseilles
in the south, almost equalled in size, business, wealth, and numbers, the
capitals of other countries.  In the whole kingdom were probably ten or
twelve millions of inhabitants, nearly as many as in Spain, without her
colonies, and perhaps three times the number that dwelt in England.

In a military point of view, too, the alliance of France was most
valuable to the contiguous Netherlands.  A few regiments of French
troops, under the command of one of their experienced Marshals, could
block up the Spaniards in the Walloon Provinces, effectually stop their
operations against Ghent, Antwerp, and the other great cities of Flanders
and Brabant, and, with the combined action of the United Provinces on the
north, so surround and cripple the forces of Parma, as to reduce the
power of Philip, after a few vigorous and well-concerted blows, to an
absolute nullity in, the Low Countries.  As this result was of as vital
importance to the real interests of France and of Europe, whether
Protestant or Catholic, as it was to the Provinces, and as the French
government had privately manifested a strong desire to oppose the
progress of Spain towards universal empire, it was not surprising that
the States General, not feeling capable of standing alone, should make
their application to France.  This they had done with the knowledge and
concurrence of the English government.  What lay upon the surface the
Netherland statesmen saw and pondered well.  What lurked beneath, they
surmised as shrewdly as they could, but it was impossible, with plummet
and fathom-line ever in hand, to sound the way with perfect accuracy,
where the quicksands were ever shifting, and the depth or shallowness of
the course perpetually varying.  It was not easy to discover the
intentions of a government which did not know its own intentions, and
whose changing policy was controlled by so many hidden currents.

Moreover, as already indicated, the envoys and those whom they
represented had not the same means of arriving at a result as are granted
to us.  Thanks to the liberality of many modern governments of Europe,
the archives where the state-secrets of the buried centuries have so
long mouldered, are now open to the student of history.  To him who
has patience and industry many mysteries are thus revealed, which no
political sagacity or critical acumen could have divined.  He leans over
the shoulder of Philip the Second at his writing-table, as the King
spells patiently out, with cipher-key in hand, the most concealed
hieroglyphics of Parma or Guise or Mendoza.  He reads the secret thoughts
of "Fabius,"--[The name usually assigned to Philip himself in the Paris-
Simancas Correspondence.]--as that cunctative Roman scrawls his marginal
apostilles on each despatch; he pries into all the stratagems of
Camillus, Hortensius, Mucius, Julius, Tullius, and the rest of those
ancient heroes who lent their names to the diplomatic masqueraders of
the 16th century; he enters the cabinet of the deeply-pondering Burghley,
and takes from the most private drawer the memoranda which record that
minister's unutterable doubtings; he pulls from the dressing-gown folds
of the stealthy, softly-gliding Walsingham the last secret which he has
picked from the Emperor's pigeon-holes, or the Pope's pocket, and which,
not Hatton, nor Buckhurst, nor Leicester, nor the Lord Treasurer, is to
see; nobody but Elizabeth herself; he sits invisible at the most secret
councils of the Nassaus and Barneveldt and Buys, or pores with Farnese
over coming victories, and vast schemes of universal conquest; he reads
the latest bit of scandal, the minutest characteristic of king or
minister, chronicled by the gossiping Venetians for the edification of
the Forty; and, after all this prying and eavesdropping, having seen the
cross-purposes, the bribings, the windings, the fencings in the dark, he
is not surprised, if those who were systematically deceived did not
always arrive at correct conclusions.

Noel de Caron, Seigneur de Schoneval, had been agent of the States at the
French court at the time of the death of the Duke of Anjou.  Upon the
occurrence of that event, La Mouillerie and Asseliers were deputed by the
Provinces to King Henry III., in order to offer him the sovereignty,
which they had intended to confer upon his brother.  Meantime that
brother, just before his death, and with the privity of Henry, had been
negotiating for a marriage with the younger daughter of Philip II.--an
arrangement somewhat incompatible with his contemporaneous scheme to
assume the sovereignty of Philip's revolted Provinces.  An attempt had
been made at the same time to conciliate the Duke of Savoy, and invite
him to the French court; but the Duc de Joyeuse, then on his return from
Turin, was bringing the news, not only that the match with Anjou was not
favored--which, as Anjou was dead, was of no great consequence--but that
the Duke of Savoy was himself to espouse the Infanta, and was therefore
compelled to decline the invitation to Paris, for fear of offending his
father-in-law.  Other matters were in progress, to be afterwards
indicated, very much interfering with the negotiations of the Netherland
envoys.

When La Mouillerie and Asseliers arrived at Rouen, on their road from
Dieppe to Paris, they received a peremptory order from the Queen-Mother
to proceed no farther.  This prohibition was brought by an unofficial
personage, and was delivered, not to them, but to Des Pruneaux, French
envoy to the States General, who had accompanied the envoys to France.

After three weeks' time, during which they "kept themselves continually
concealed in Rouen," there arrived in that city a young nephew of
Secretary Brulart, who brought letters empowering him to hear what they
had in charge for the King.  The envoys, not much flattered by such
cavalier treatment on the part of him to, whom they were offering a
crown, determined to digest the affront as they best might, and, to save
time, opened the whole business to this subordinate stripling.  He
received from them accordingly an ample memoir to be laid before his
Majesty, and departed by the post the same night.  Then they waited ten
days longer, concealed as if they had been thieves or spies, rather than
the representatives of a friendly power, on a more than friendly errand.

At last, on the 24th July 1854, after the deputies had been thus shut up
a whole month, Secretary Brulart himself arrived from Fontainebleau.

He stated that the King sent his royal thanks to the States for the offer
which they had made him, and to the deputies in particular for taking the
trouble of so long a journey; but that he did not find his realm in
condition to undertake a foreign war so inopportunely.  In every other
regard, his Majesty offered the States "all possible favours and
pleasures."

Certainly, after having been thus kept in prison for a month, the
ambassadors had small cause to be contented with this very cold
communication.  To be forbidden the royal presence, and to be turned out
of the country without even an official and accredited answer to a
communication in which they had offered the sovereignty of their
fatherland, was not flattering to their dignity.  "We little thought,"
said they to Brulart, after a brief consultation among themselves, "to
receive such a reply as this.  It displeases us infinitely that his
Majesty will not do us the honour to grant us an audience.  We must take
the liberty of saying, that 'tis treating the States, our masters, with
too much contempt.  Who ever heard before of refusing audience to public
personages?  Kings often grant audience to mere letter-carriers.  Even
the King of Spain never refused a hearing to the deputies from the
Netherlands when they came to Spain to complain of his own government.
The States General have sent envoys to many other kinds and princes, and
they have instantly granted audience in every case.  His Majesty, too,
has been very ill-informed of the contracts which we formerly made with
the Duke of Anjou, and therefore a personal interview is the more
necessary."  As the envoys were obstinate on the point of Paris, Brulart
said "that the King, although he should himself be at Lyons, would not
prevent any one from going to the capital on his own private affairs; but
would unquestionably take it very ill if, they should visit that city in
a public manner, and as deputies."

Des Pruneaux professed himself "very grievous at this result, and
desirous of a hundred deaths in consequence."

They stated that they should be ready within a month to bring an army of
3,000 horse and 13,000 foot into the field for the relief of Ghent,
besides their military operations against Zutphen; and that the enemy had
recently been ignominiously defeated in his attack upon Fort Lille, and
had lost 2,000 of his best soldiers.

Here were encouraging facts; and it certainly was worth the while of the
French sovereign to pause a moment before rejecting without a hearing,
the offer of such powerful and conveniently-situated provinces.

Des Pruneaux, a man of probity and earnestness, but perhaps of
insufficient ability to deal with such grave matters as now fell almost
entirely upon his shoulders, soon afterwards obtained audience of the
King.  Being most sincerely in favour of the annexation of the
Netherlands to France, and feeling that now or never was the opportunity
of bringing it about, he persuaded the King to send him back to the
Provinces, in order to continue the negotiation directly with the States
General.  The timidity and procrastination of the court could be overcome
no further.

The two Dutch envoys, who had stolen secretly to Paris, were indulged in
a most barren and unmeaning interview with the Queen-Mother.  Before
their departure from France, however, they had the advantage of much
conversation with leading members of the royal council, of the
parliaments of Paris and Rouen, and also with various persons professing
the reformed religion.  They endeavoured thus to inform themselves, as
well as they could, why the King made so much difficulty in accepting
their propositions, and whether, and by what means, his Majesty could be
induced to make war in their behalf upon the King of Spain.

They were informed that, should Holland and Zeeland unite with the rest
of the Netherlands, the King "without any doubt would undertake the cause
most earnestly."  His councillors, also--even those who had been most
active in dissuading his Majesty from such a policy--would then be
unanimous in supporting the annexation of the Provinces and the war with
Spain.  In such a contingency, with the potent assistance of Holland and
Zeeland, the King would have little difficulty, within a very short time,
in chasing every single Spaniard out of the Netherlands.  To further this
end, many leading personages in France avowed to the envoys their
determination "to venture their lives and their fortunes, and to use all
the influence which they possessed at court."

The same persons expressed their conviction that the King, once satisfied
by the Provinces as to conditions and reasons, would cheerfully go into
the war, without being deterred by any apprehension as to the power of
Spain.  It was, however, fitting that each Province should chaffer as
little as possible about details, but should give his Majesty every
reasonable advantage.  They should remember that they were dealing with
"a great, powerful monarch, who was putting his realm in jeopardy, and
not with a Duke of Anjou, who had every thing to gain and nothing to
lose."

All the Huguenots, with whom the envoys conversed, were excessively
sanguine.  Could the King be once brought they said, to promise the
Netherlands his protection, there was not the least fear but that he
would keep his word.  He would use all the means within his power; "yea,
he would take the crown from his head," rather than turn back.  Although
reluctant to commence a war with so powerful a sovereign, having once
promised his help, he would keep his pledge to the utmost, "for he was a
King of his word," and had never broken and would never break his faith
with those of the reformed religion.

Thus spoke the leading Huguenots of France, in confidential communication
with the Netherland envoys, not many months before the famous edict of
extermination, published at Nemours.

At that moment the reformers were full of confidence; not foreseeing the
long procession of battles and sieges which was soon to sweep through the
land.  Notwithstanding the urgency of the Papists for their extirpation,
they extolled loudly the liberty of religious worship which Calvinists,
as well as Catholics, were enjoying in France, and pointed to the fact
that the adherents of both religions were well received at court, and
that they shared equally in offices of trust and dignity throughout the
kingdom.

The Netherland envoys themselves bore testimony to the undisturbed
tranquillity and harmony in which the professors of both religions were
living and worshipping side by side "without reproach or quarrel" in all
the great cities which they had visited.  They expressed the conviction
that the same toleration would be extended to all the Provinces when
under French dominion; and, so far as their ancient constitutions and
privileges were concerned, they were assured that the King of France
would respect and maintain them with as much fidelity as the States could
possibly desire.

Des Pruneaux, accompanied by the two States' envoys, departed forthwith
for the Netherlands.  On the 24th August, 1584 he delivered a discourse
before the States General, in which he disclosed, in very general terms,
the expectations of Henry III., and intimated very clearly that the
different Provinces were to lose no time in making an unconditional offer
to that monarch.  With regard to Holland and Zeeland he observed that he
was provided with a special commission to those Estates.  It was not long
before one Province after the other came to the conclusion to offer the
sovereignty to the King without written conditions, but with a general
understanding that their religious freedom and their ancient
constitutions were to be sacredly respected.  Meantime, Des Pruneaux made
his appearance in Holland and Zeeland, and declared the King's intentions
of espousing the cause of the States, and of accepting the sovereignty of
all the Provinces.  He distinctly observed, however, that it was as
sovereign, not as protector, that his Majesty must be recognised in
Holland and Zeeland, as well as in the rest of the country.

Upon this grave question there was much debate and much difference of
opinion.  Holland and Zeeland had never contemplated the possibility of
accepting any foreign sovereignty, and the opponents of the present
scheme were loud and angry, but very reasonable in their remarks.

The French, they said, were no respecters of privileges nor of persons.
The Duke of Anjou had deceived William of Orange and betrayed the
Provinces.  Could they hope to see farther than that wisest and most
experienced prince?  Had not the stout hearts of the Antwerp burghers
proved a stronger defence to Brabant liberties than the "joyous entry" on
the dread day of the "French fury," it would have fared ill then and for
ever with the cause of freedom and religion in the Netherlands.  The King
of France was a Papist, a Jesuit.  He was incapable of keeping his
pledges.  Should they make the arrangement now proposed and confer the
sovereignty upon him, he would forthwith make peace with Spain, and
transfer the Provinces back to that crown in exchange for the duchy of
Milan, which France had ever coveted.  The Netherlands, after a quarter
of a century of fighting in defence of their hearths and altars, would
find themselves handed over again, bound and fettered, to the tender
mercies of the Spanish Inquisition.

The Kings of France and of Spain always acted in concert, for religion
was the most potent of bonds.  Witness the sacrifice of thousands of
French soldiers to Alva by their own sovereign at Mons, witness the fate
of Genlis, witness the bloody night of St. Bartholomew, witness the
Antwerp fury.  Men cited and relied upon the advice of William of Orange
as to this negotiation with France.  But Orange never dreamed of going so
far as now proposed.  He was ever careful to keep the Provinces of
Holland and Zeeland safe from every foreign master.  That spot was to be
holy ground.  Not out of personal ambition.  God forbid that they, should
accuse his memory of any such impurity, but because he wished one safe
refuge for the spirit of freedom.

Many years long they had held out by land and sea against the Spaniards,
and should they now, because this Des Pruneaux shrugged his shoulders, be
so alarmed as to open the door to the same Spaniard wearing the disguise
of a Frenchman?

Prince Maurice also made a brief representation to the States' Assembly
of Holland, in which, without distinctly opposing the negotiation with
France, he warned them not to proceed too hastily with so grave a matter.
He reminded them how far they had gone in the presentation of the
sovereignty to his late father, and requested them, in their dealings
with France, not to forget his interests and those of his family.  He
reminded them of the position of that family, overladen with debt
contracted in their service alone.  He concluded by offering most
affectionately his service in any way in which he, young and
inexperienced as he knew himself to be, might be thought useful; as he
was long since resolved to devote his life to the welfare of his country.

These passionate appeals were answered with equal vehemence by those who
had made up their minds to try the chances of the French sovereignty.
Des Pruneaux, meanwhile, was travelling from province to province, and
from city to city, using the arguments which have already been
sufficiently indicated, and urging a speedy compliance with the French
King's propositions.  At the same time, in accordance with his
instructions, he was very cautious to confine himself to generalities,
and to avoid hampering his royal master with the restrictions which had
proved so irksome to the Duke of Anjou.

"The States General demanded a copy of my speech," he wrote the day after
that harangue had been delivered, "but I only gave them a brief outline;
extending myself [25th August, 1584] as little as I possibly could,
according to the intention and command of your Majesty.  When I got here,
I found them without hope of our assistance, and terribly agitated by the
partizans of Spain.  There was some danger of their going over in a panic
to the enemy.  They are now much changed again, and the Spanish partizans
are beginning to lose their tongues.  I invite them, if they intend to
address your Majesty, to proceed as they ought towards a veritably grand
monarch, without hunting up any of their old quibbles, or reservations of
provinces, or any thing else which could inspire suspicion.  I have sent
into Gelderland and Friesland, for I find I must stay here in Holland and
Zeeland myself.  These two provinces are the gates and ramparts through
which we must enter.  'Tis, in my opinion, what could be called superb,
to command all the sea, thus subject to the crown of France.  And France,
too, with assistance of this country, will command the land as well.
They are much astonished here, however, that I communicate nothing of the
intention of your Majesty.  They say that if your Majesty does not accept
this offer of their country, your Majesty puts the rope around their
necks."

The French envoy was more and more struck with the brilliancy of the
prize offered to his master.  "If the King gets these Provinces," said he
to Catharine, "'t will be the most splendid inheritance which Prince has
ever conquered."

In a very few weeks the assiduity of the envoy and of the French party
was successful.  All the other provinces had very soon repeated the offer
which they had previously made through Asseliers and La Mouillerie.  By
the beginning of October the opposition of Holland was vanquished.  The
estates of that Province--three cities excepted, however--determined "to
request England and France to assume a joint protectorate over the
Netherlands.  In case the King of France should refuse this proposition,
they were then ready to receive him as prince and master, with knowledge
and consent of the Queen of England, and on such conditions as the United
States should approve."

Immediately afterwards, the General Assembly of all the States determined
to offer the sovereignty to King Henry "on conditions to be afterwards
settled."

Des Pruneaux, thus triumphant, received a gold chain of the value of two
thousand florins, and departed before the end of October for France.

The departure of the solemn embassy to that country, for the purpose of
offering the sovereignty to the King, was delayed till the beginning of
January.  Meantime it is necessary to cast a glance at the position of
England in relation to these important transactions.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Diplomatic adroitness consists mainly in the power to deceive
Enmity between Lutherans and Calvinists
Find our destruction in our immoderate desire for peace
German-Lutheran sixteenth-century idea of religious freedom
Intentions of a government which did not know its own intentions
Lord was better pleased with adverbs than nouns
Make sheep of yourselves, and the wolf will eat you
Necessity of kingship
Neighbour's blazing roof was likely soon to fire their own
Nor is the spirit of the age to be pleaded in defence
Pauper client who dreamed of justice at the hands of law
Seem as if born to make the idea of royalty ridiculous
Shutting the stable-door when the steed is stolen
String of homely proverbs worthy of Sancho Panza
The very word toleration was to sound like an insult
There was apathy where there should have been enthusiasm
Tranquillity rather of paralysis than of health
Write so illegibly or express himself so awkwardly





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