1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Netherlands
NETHERLANDS. The geographical features of the countries formerly known collectively as the Netherlands or Low Countries are dealt with under the modern English names of Holland and Belgium. Here we are concerned only with their earlier history, which is put for convenience under this heading in order to separate the account of the period when they formed practically a single area for historical purposes from that of the time when Holland and Belgium became distinct administrative units.
The sources of our knowledge of the country down to the 8th century are Caesar's De Bello Gallico, iv., the history of Velleius Paterculus, ii. 105, the works of Tacitus, the Historia Francorum (i.-iii.) of Gregory of Tours, the Fredegar's Chronica (for the last two Early inhabitants. of which see D. Bouquet’s Recueil de historians des Gaules et de la France, 1738–1876). The Netherlands first became known to the Romans through the campaigns of Julius Caesar. He found the country peopled partly by- tribes of Gallo-Celtic, partly by tribes of Germanic stock, the river Rhine forming roughly the line of demarcation between the races. Several of the tribes along the borderland, however, were undoubtedly of mixed blood. The Gallo-Celtic tribes bore the general appellation of Belgae, and among these the Nervii, inhabiting the district between the Scheldt and the Sambre were at the date of Caesar’s invasion, 57 B.C., the most warlike and important. To the north of the Meuse, and more especially in the low-lying ground enclosed between the Waal and the Rhine (insula Batavorum) lived the Batavi, a clan of the great Germanic tribe, the Chatti. Beyond these were found the Frisians (q.v.), a people of German origin, who gave their name to the territory between the Rhine and the Ems. Of the other tribes the best known are the Caninefates, Chauci, Usipetes, Sicambri, Eburones, Menapii, Morini and Aduatici.
Julius Caesar, after a severe struggle with the Nervii and their confederates, was successful in bringing the Belgic tribes into subjection to Rome. Under Augustus, 15 B.C., the conquered territory was formed into an imperial province, Gallia Belgica, Their relations with the Romans.and the frontier line, the Rhine, was strongly held by a series of fortified camps. With regard to the region north of the Rhine we first obtain information from the accounts of the campaigns of Nero, Claudius, Drusus and Tiberius. The Batavians were first brought under Roman rule in the governorship of Drusus, A.D. 13. They were not incorporated in the empire, but were ranked as allies, socii or auxitia. Their land became a recruiting ground for the Roman armies, and a base for expeditions across the Rhine. The Batavians served with fidelity and distinction in all parts of the empire, and from the days of Augustus onwards formed a considerable part of the Praetorian guard. The Frisians struggled against Roman over-lordship somewhat longer, and it was not until A.D. 47 that they finally submitted to the victorious arms of Domitius Corbulo. The Frisian auxiliaries were likewise regarded as excellent troops.
In the confusion of the disputed succession to the imperial
throne after the death of Nero, the Batavians (A.D. 69–70) under
the influence of a great leader, known only by his
Roman name, Claudius Civilis, rose in revolt.
had seen much service in the Roman armies, and wasThe revolt
of Civilis. a man of statesmanlike ability. In revenge for his own imprisonment, and the death of his brother by order of Nero, he took advantage of the disorder in the empire not only to stir up his fellow-countrymen to take up arms for independence, but to persuade a large number of German and Belgic tribes to. join forces with them. A narrative of the revolt is given in detail by Tacitus. At first success attended Civilis and the Romans were driven out of the greater part of the Belgic province. Even the great fortress of Castra Vetera (Xanten) was starved into submission and the garrison massacred. But dissensions arose between the German and Celtic elements of Civilis’s following. The Romans, under an able general, Cerealis, took advantage of this, and Civilis, beaten in ight, retired to the island of the Batavians. But both sides were exhausted, and it was arranged that Cerealis and Civilis should meet on a broken bridge over the Nabalia (Yssel) to discuss terms of peace. At this point the narrative of Tacitus breaks off, but it would appear that easy conditions were offered, for the Batavians returned to their position of socii, and were henceforth faithful in their steady allegiance to Rome. The insula Batavorum, lined with forts, became for a long period the bulwark of the empire against the inroads of the Germans from the north.
Of this period scarcely any record remains, but when at the end of the 3rd century the Franks (q.v.) began to swarm over the Rhine into the Roman lands, the names of the old tribes had disappeared. The peoples within the frontier had been transformed into Romanized provincials;The Franks. outside, the various tribes had become merged in the common appellation of Frisians. The branch of the Franks—who were a Confederacy, not a people-which gradually overspread Gallia Belgica, bore the name of the Salian Franks. Nominally they were taken under the protection of the empire, in reality they were its masters and defenders. In the days of their great king Hlodwig or Clovis (481–511) they were in possession of the whole of the southern and central Netherlands. The strip of coast from the mouth of the Scheldt to that of the Ems remained, however, in the hands of the free Frisians (q.v.), in alliance withwhom against the Franks were the Saxons (q.v.), who, pressing forward from the east, had occupied a portion of the districts known later as Gelderland, Overyssel and Drente. Saxon was at this period the common title of all the north German tribes; there was but little difference between Frisians and Saxons either in race or language, and they were closely united for some four centuries in common resistance to the encroachments of the Frankish power.
The conversion of Clovis and his rude followers to Christianity tended gradually to civilize the Franks, and to facilitate the fusion which soon took place between them and the Gallo-Roman population. It tended also to accentuate the enmity to the Franks of the heathen Frisians and Saxons. In the south (of the Netherlands) Christianity was spread by the labours of devoted missionaries, foremost amongst whom were St Amandus, St Bavon and St Eligius, and bishoprics were set up at Cambrai Tourna' Arras Thérouanne and Liége. In the north progress was much slower, and though a church was erected at Utrecht by Dagobert I. about A.D. 630, it was destroyed by the Frisians, who remained obstinately heathen. The first successful attempt to convert them was made, under the powerful protection of Pippin of Heristal, by Willebrord, a Northumbrian monk, who became, A.D. 695, the first bishop of Utrecht (see Utrecht). His labours were continued with even more striking results by another Englishman, Winfred, better known as St Boniface, the Apostle of the Germans, who suffered martyrdom at Dokkum in A.D. 754 at the hands of some heathen Frisians. The complete conversion was, however, in the end due rather to the arms of the Carolingian kings than to the unaided efforts of the missionaries. Towards the end of the century, Charlemagne, himself a Netherlander by descent and ancestral possessions, after a severe struggle, thoroughly subdued the Frisians and Saxons, and compelled them to embrace Christianity.
In the triple partition of the Carolingian empire at Verdun in
843, the central portion was assigned to the emperor Lothaire,
separating the kingdoms of East Francia (the later
Germany) from West Francia (the later France).
This middle kingdom formed a long strip stretching
The duchy of
Lower Lorraine. across Europe from the North Sea to Naples, and embraced the whole of the later Netherlands with the exception of the portion on the left bank of the Scheldt, which river was made the boundary of West Francia. On the death of the emperor, his son Lothaire II. received the northern part of his father's domain, known as Lotharii or Hlutharii Regnum, corrupted later into Lotharingia or Lorraine. Lothaire had no heir, and in 870 by the treaty of Meerssen his territory was divided between the kings of East and West Francia. In 879 East Francia acquired the whole; from 912 to 924 it formed part of West Francia. Finally in 924 Lorraine passed in the reign of Henry the Fowler under German (East Frankish) over lordship. Henry's son, Otto the Great, owing to the disordered state of the country, placed it in 953 in the hands of his able brother, Bruno, archbishop of Cologne, for pacification. Bruno, who kept for himself the title of archduke, divided the territory into the two duchies of Upper and Lower Lorraine. Godfrey of Verdun was invested by him with the government of Lower Lorraine (Nieder-Löthringen). The history of the Netherlands from this time forward—with the exception of Flanders, which continued to be a fief of the French kings—is the history of the various feudal states into which the duchy of Lower Lorraine was gradually broken up.
It is a melancholy history, telling of the invasion of the Northmen,
and of the dynastic struggles between the petty feudal
sovereigns who carved out counties and lordships
for themselves during the dark centuries which
followed the fall of the Carolingian empire. It was a
Growth of the
feudal states. time of oppression and cruelty, and of war and devastation, during which the country remained chiefly swamp and tangled woodland, with little communication save up and down the rivers and along the old Roman roads. Its remoteness from the control of the authority of the German and French kings, together with its inaccessibility, gave special facilities in Lower Lorraine to the growth of a number of practically independent feudal states forming a group or system apart. Chief among these states were the duchy of Brabant, the counties of Flanders, Hainault, Holland, Gelderland, Limburg and Luxemburg, and the bishoprics of Utrecht and Liége. For their separate local histories and their dynasties, their wars and political relations with one another and with neighbouring countries, reference must be made to the separate articles Flanders, Holland, Brabant, Gelderland, Limburg, Luxemburg, Utrecht, Liége.
During the 9th and 10th centuries the Netherlands suffered
cruelly from the attacks of the Northmen, who ravaged the
shores and at times penetrated far inland. In 834
Utrecht and Dorestad were sacked, and a few years
later all Holland and Friesland was in their hands.
The invasion of
the Northmen. Year after year the raids went on under a succession of leaders—Heriold, Roruk, Rolf, Godfrey—and far and wide there was pillaging, burning, murder and slavery. In 873 Rolf seized Walcheren, and became the scourge of the surrounding districts. In 880 the invaders took Nijmwegen, erected a permanent camp at Elsloo and pushed on to the Rhine. Liége, Aix-la-Chapelle, Cologne and Bonn fell into their hands. The emperor, Charles the Fat, was roused to collect a large army, with which he surrounded the main body of the Northmen under their leader Godfrey in the camp at Elsloo. But Charles preferred negotiation and bribery to righting. Godfrey received a large sum of money, was confirmed in the possession of Friesland, and on being converted to Christianity in 882, received in marriage Gisela, daughter of Lothaire II. Three years later, however, Godfrey was murdered, and although the raids of the Northmen did not entirely cease for upwards of another century, no further attempt was made to establish a permanent dynasty in the land.
At the close of the 11th century the system of feudal states
had been firmly established in the Netherlands under stable
dynasties hereditary or episcopal, and, despite the
continual wars between them, civilization had begun
develop, orderly government to be carried on, and the
general condition of the people to be less hopeless and miserable.
It was at this time that the voice of Peter the Hermit roused the
whole of western Europe to enthusiasm by his preaching of the
first crusade. Nowhere was the call responded to with greater
zeal than in the Netherlands, and nowhere had the spirit of
adventure and the stimulus to enterprise, which was one of the
chief fruits of the Crusades, more permanent effects for good. The
foremost heroes of the first crusade were Netherlanders. Godfrey
of Bouillon, the leader of the expedition and the first king of
Jerusalem, was duke of Lower Lorraine, and the names of his
brothers Baldwin of Edessa and Eustace of Boulogne, and of
Count Robert II. of Flanders are only less famous. The third
crusade numbered among its chiefs Floris III. of Holland, Philip of
Flanders, Otto I. of Gelderland and Henry I. of Brabant. The
so-called Latin crusade of 1203 placed the imperial crown of
Constantinople on the head of Baldwin of Flanders. At the siege
and capture of Damietta (1218) it was the contingent of North-Netherlanders
(Hollanders and Frisians under Count William I.
of Holland) who bore the brunt of the fighting and specially
distinguished themselves. To the Netherlands, as to the rest of
western Europe, the result of the crusades was in the main
advantageous. They broke down the intense narrowness of the
life of those feudal times, enlarged men's conceptions and introduced
new ideas into their minds. They first brought the
products and arts of the Orient into western Europe; and in the
Netherlands, by the impulse that they gave to commerce, they
were one of the primary causes of the rise of the chartered towns.
Little is known about the Netherland towns before the 12th
century The earliest charters date from that period. No place
Rise of the cities
in the Netherlands. was reckoned to be a town unless it had received a charter from its sovereign or its local lord. The cities charters were of the nature of a treaty between the city and its feudal lord, and they differed much in character according to the importance of the place and the pressure it was able to put upon its sovereign. The extent of the rights which the charter conceded determined whether the town was a free town (vrïje stadl—villa franca) or a commune (gemeente—communia). In the case of a commune the concessions included generally the right of inheritance, justice, taxation, use of wood, water, &c. The lord's representative, entitled “justiciary” (schout) of “bailiff” (baljuw), presided over the administration of justice and took the command of the town levies in war. The gemeente—consisting only of those bound by the communal oath for mutual help and defence elected their own magistrates. These electors were often a small proportion of the whole body of inhabitants: sometimes a few influential families alone had the right, and it became hereditary. This governing oligarchy was known as “the patricians.” The magistrates bore the name of scabini (schepenen or échevins), and at their head was the seigneurial official—the schout or baljuw. These schepenen appointed in their turn from the citizens to assist them a body of sworn councillors (gezworenen' or jurés), whose presidents, styled “burgomasters,” had the supervision of the communal finances. Thus grew up a number of municipalities—practically self-governing republics—semi-independent feudatories in the feudal state.
The most powerful and flourishing of all Were those of Flanders—Ghent, Bruges and Yprès. In the 13th century these towns The had become the seat of large industrial populations Flemish (varying according to different estimates from 100,000 to 200,000 inhabitants), employed upon the weaving The Flemish communes. of cloth with its dependent industries, and closely bound up by trade interests with England, from whence they obtained the wool for their looms. Bruges, at that time connected with the sea by the river Zwijn and with Sluis as its port, was the central mart and exchange of the world’s commerce. In these Flemish cities the early oligarchic form of municipal government speedily gave way to a democratic. The great mass of the townsmen organized in trade gilds—weavers, fullers, dyers, smiths, leather-workers, brewers, butchers, bakers and others, of which by far the most powerful was that of the weavers—as soon as they became conscious of their strength rebelled against the exclusive privileges of the patricians and succeeded in ousting them from power. The patricians (hence called leliaerts) relied upon the support of the French crown, but the fatal battle of Courtrai (1302), in which the handicrafts men (clauwrzerts) laid low the chivalry of France, secured the triumph of the democracy. The power of the Flemish cities rose to its height during the ascendancy of Jacques van Artevelde (1285–1345), the famous citizen-statesman of Ghent, but after his downfall the mutual jealousies of the cities undermined their strength, and with the crushing defeat of Roosebeke (1382) in which Philip van Artevelde perished, the political greatness of the municipalities had entered vigorous independence of Ghent, Bruges and Yprès, upon its decline.
In Brabant—Antwerp, Louvain, Brussels, Malines (Mechlin)—and in the episcopal territory of Liege—Liege, Huy, Dinantthere—there was a feebler repetition of the Flemish conditions. Flourishing communities were likewise to be found in land Hainault, Namur, Cambrai and the other southern Other Netherland municipalities. districts of the Netherlands, but nowhere else the nor the splendour of their civic life. In the north also the 13th century was rich in municipal charters. Dordrecht, Leiden, Haarlem, Delft, Vlaardigen, Rotterdam in Holland, and Middleburg and Zierikzee in Zeeland, repeated with modifications the characteristics of the communes of Flanders and Brabant. But the growth and development of the northern communal movement, though strong and instinct with life, was slower and less tempestuous than the Flemish. In the bishopric of Utrecht, in Gelderland and Friesland, the privileges accorded to Utrecht, Groningen, Zutphen, Stavoren, Leeuwarden followed rather on the model of those of the Rhenish “free cities” than of the Franco-Flemish commune. In the northern Netherlands generally up to the end of the 14th century the towns had no great political weight; their importance depended upon their river commerce and their markets. Thus at the close of the 14th century, despite the constant wars between the feudal sovereigns who held sway in the Netherlands, the vigorous municipal life had fostered industry and commerce, and had caused Flanders in particular to become the richest possession in the world.
It was precisely at this time that Flanders, and gradually the other feudal states of the Netherlands, by marriage, purchase, treachery or force, fell under the dominion of the house of Burgundy. The foundation of the Burgundian rule in the Netherlands was laid by the succession of The Burgundian dominion. Philip the Bold to the counties of Flanders and Artois in 1384 in right of his wife Margaret de Mâle. In 1404 Antony, Philip’s second son (killed at Agincourt 1415), became duke of Brabant by bequest of his great-aunt Joan. The consolidation of the Burgundian power was effected by Philip the Good, grandson of Philip the Bold, in his long and successful reign of 48 years, 1419–1467. He inherited Flanders and Artois, purchased the county of Namur (1427) and compelled his cousin Jacqueline, the heiress of Holland, Zeeland, Hainault and Friesland, to surrender her possessions to him, 1428. On the death in 1430 of his cousin Philip, duke of Brabant, he took possession of Brabant and Limburg; the duchy of Luxemburg he acquired by purchase, 1443. He made his bastard son David bishop of Utrecht, and from 1456 onwards that see continued under Burgundian influence. Two other bastards were placed on the episcopal throne of Liege, an illegitimate brother on that of Cambrai, Philip did not live to see Gelderland and Liege pass definitively under his rule; it was reserved for his son, Charles the Bold, to crush the independence of Liege (1468) and to incorporate Gelderland in his dominions (1473).
This extension of dominion on the part of the dukes of Burgundy implied the establishment of a strong monarchical authority. They had united under their sway a number of provinces with different histories and institutions and speaking different languages, and their aim was Philip the Good to centralize the government. The nobility and clergy were on the side of the ducal authority; its opponents were the municipalities, especially those of Flanders. Their strength had been seriously weakened by the overthrow of Roosebeke, but Philip on his accession found them once more advancing rapidly in power and prosperity. He was quite aware that the industrial wealth of the great Flemish communes was financially the mainstay of his power, but their very prosperity made them the chief obstacle to his schemes of unifying into a solid dominion the loose aggregate of states over which he was the ruler. On this matter Philip would brook no opposition. Bruges was forced after strenuous resistance to submit to the loss of its most cherished privileges in 1438, and the revolt of Ghent was quenched in the “red sea” (as it was styled) of Gavre in 1453. The splendour and luxury of the court of Philip surpassed that of any contemporary sovereign. A permanent memorial of it remains in the famous Order of the, Golden Fleece, which was instituted by the duke at Bruges in 1430 on the occasion of his marriage with Isabel of Portugal, a descendant of John of Gaunt, and was so named from the English Wool, the raw material used in the Flemish looms, for which Bruges was the chief mart. The reign of Philip, though marred by many acts of tyranny and harshness, was politically great. Had his successor been as prudent and able, he might have made a unified Netherlands the nucleus of a mighty middle kingdom, interposing between France and Germany, and a revival of that of the Carolingian Lothaire.
Before the accession of Charles, the only son of Philip, two steps had been taken of great importance in the direction of unification. The first was the appointment of a grand council with supreme judicial and financial functions, whose seat was finally fixed at Malines (Mechlin) in Charles the Bold. 1473; the other the summoning of deputies of all the provincial “states” of the Netherlands to a states-general at Brussels in 1465. But Charles, rightly surnamed the Bold or Headstrong, did not possess the qualities of a builder of states. Impatient of control and hasty in action, he was no match for his crafty and plotting adversary, Louis XI. of France. His ambition, however, was boundless, and he set himself to realize the dream of his father—a Burgundian kingdom stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. At first all went well with him. By his ruthless suppression of revolts at Dinant and Liege he made his authority undisputed throughout the Netherlands. His campaigns against the French king were conducted with success. His creation of a formidable standing army, the first of its kind in that age of transition from feudal conditions, gave to the Burgundian power all the outward semblance of stability and permanence. But Charles, though a brave soldier and good military organizer, was neither a capable statesman nor a skilful general. He squandered the resources left to him by his father, and made himself hateful to all classes of his subjects by his ex actions and tyranny. When at the very height of power, all his schemes of aggrandisement came to sudden ruin through a succession of disastrous defeats at the hands of the Swiss at Grandson (March 2, 1476), at Morat (June 22, 1476) and at Nancy (January 5, 1477). At Nancy Charles was himself among the slain, leaving his only daughter Mary of Burgundy, then in her twentieth year, sole heiress to his possessions.
The catastrophe of Nancy threatened the loosely-knit Burgundian dominion with dissolution. Louis XI. claimed the Mary of Burgandy and Maximillas of Austria. reversion of the French fiefs and seized Burgundy Franche Comté and Artois. But the Netherland md Maxi- provinces, though not loving the Burgundian dynasty, had no desire to have a French master. Deputies representing Flanders, Brabant, Hainault and Holland met at Ghent, where Mary was detained almost as a prisoner, and compelled her (February ro, 1477) to sign the “Great Privilege.” This charter provided that no war could be declared nor marriage concluded by the sovereign, nor taxes raised without the assent of the states, that-natives were alone eligible for high office, and that the national language should be used in public documents. The central court of justice at Malines was abolished, but the Grand Council was reorganized and made thoroughly representative. The Great Privilege' was supplemented by provincial charters, the Flemish Privilege granted (February 10), the Great Privilege of Holland and Zeeland (February 17), the Great Privilege of Namur and the Joyeuse Enlrée of Brabant, both in May, thus largely curtailing the sovereign's power of interference with local liberties. On these conditions Mary obtained the hearty support of the states against France, but her humiliations were not yet at an end; two of her privy councillors, accused of traitorous intercourse with the enemy, were, despite her entreaties, seized, tried and beheaded (April 3). Her marriage four months later to Maximilian of Austria was the beginning of the long domination of the house of Habsburg. The next fifteen years were for Maximilian a stormy and difficult period. The duchess Mary died from the effects of a fall from her horse (March 1482), and Maximilian became regent (mambourg) for his son. The peace of Arras with France (March 1483) freed him to deal with the discords in the Netherland provinces, and more especially with the turbulent opposition in the Flemish cities. With the submission of Ghent (June 1485) the contest was decided in favour of the Philip and Jonna. archduke, who in 1494, on his election as emperor, was able to hand over the country to his son Philip in a comparatively tranquil and secure state. Philip, surnamed the Fair, was fifteen years of age, and his accession was welcomed by the Netherlanders with whom Maximilian had never been popular; Gelderland, however, which had revolted after Nancy, had Charles of Egmont for its duke, and the two bishoprics of Liége and Utrecht were no longer subject to Burgundian authority. In 1496 Philip married Toanna of Aragon, who in 1500 became heiress apparent to Castile, and Aragon. That same year she gave birth at Ghent to a son, afterwards the emperor Charles V. Philip's reign in the Netherlands was chiefly noteworthy for his efforts for the revival of trade with England. On the death of Queen Isabel, Philip and Joanna succeeded to the crown of Castile and took up their residence in their new kingdom (January 1506). A few months later Philip unexpectedly died at Burgos (September 25th). His Burgundian lands passed without opposition to his son Charles, then six years of age.
The claim of the emperor Maximilian to be regent during the minority of his grandson was recognized by the states-general. Margaret of Austria. Maximilian nominated his daughter Margaret, widow of Philibert, duke of Savoy, to act as governor-general, and she filled the difficult post for eight years with great ability, courage and tact; and when Charles at the age of fifteen assumed the government he found the Netherlands thriving and prosperous. In the following, year, by the death of Ferdinand of Aragon, his maternal grandfather, and the incapacity of his mother Joanna, who had become hopelessly insane, he succeeded to the crowns of Castile and Aragon, which carried with them large possessions in Italy and the dominion of the New World of America. In 1519 Maximilian died, and the following year his grandson, now the head of the house of Austria, was elected emperor. Charles V. had been born and brought up in the Netherlands, and retained a strong predilection Charles V. for his native country, but necessarily he had to pass the larger part of his life, at that great crisis of the world's history, in other lands. During his frequent absences he entrusted the government of the Netherlands to the tried hands of his aunt, Margaret, who retained his confidence until her death (November 1530), and secured the affection of all Netherlanders. Margaret was assisted by a permanent council of regency, and there was a special minister charged with the administration of the finances, sometimes under the name of superintendent of the finances, sometimes under the title of treasurer-general and controller-general. The duties of this minister were of special importance, for it was to the Netherlands that Charles looked for much of the resources wherewith to carry on his many wars. During this time Charles consolidated his dominion over the Netherlands. In 1524 he became lord of Friesland by purchase, and in 1528 he acquired the temporalities of Utrecht. He now ruled over seventeen provinces—i.e.. four duchies, Brabant, Gelderland, Limburg and Luxemburg; seven counties, Flanders, Artois, Hainault, Holland, Zeeland, Namur and Zutphen; the margraviate of Antwerp; and tive lordships—Friesland, Mechlin, Utrecht, Overyssel, and Groningen with its dependent districts.
After the death of Margaret, Charles appointed his sister Mary, the Widowed queen of Hungary, to the regency, and for Mar of Hungary. twenty .years she retained her post, until the abdication in fact of Charles V. in 1555. She too governed ably, though in entire subservience to her nephew, but was not in such intimate touch with the national peculiarities of the Netherlanders as her predecessor. At the time of her accession to office Charles changed the form of administration by the creation of three separate councils, those of State, of Finance, and the Privy Council. The regent was president of the council of state, of which the knights of the Golden Fleece were members. The policy of Charles towards the Netherlands was for many years one of studied moderation. He redressed many grievances, regulated the administration of justice, encouraged commerce, reformed the coinage, but as time went on he was compelled to demand larger subsidies and to take severer measures against heretical opinions. Mary was forced to impose taxation which met with violent resistance, especially in 1539 from the stiff-necked town of Ghent. The emperor himself was obliged to intervene. On the 14th of February 1540 he entered, Ghent at the head of a large army and visited the city with severe punishment. All its charters were annulled, its privileges and those of its gilds swept away, and a heavy fine imposed. It was a lesson intended to teach the Netherlanders the utter futility of opposition to the will of their lord. The struggle, however, with the Protestant princes of Germany not only led to continual demands of Charles for men and money from his Netherland dominions, but to his determination to prevent the spread of Protestant opinions; and a series of edicts was passed, the most severe of which (that of 1550) was carried out with extreme rigour. Its preamble stated that its object was “to exterminate the root and ground of this pest.” By its enactments, men holding heretical opinions were condemned to the stake, women to be buried alive. Yet despite the efforts of the government the Reformation made progress in the land. In 1548 Charles laid before the states a scheme for making the Netherlands an integral part of the empire under the name of the Circle of Burgundy; but the refusal of the German Electors to make his only son Philip king of the Romans led him to abandon the project, which was never renewed. Already the emperor was beginning to feel weary of the heavy burdens which the government of so many realms had imposed upon him, and in 1549 he presented Philip to the states of the Netherlands, that they might take the oath of allegiance to him, and Philip swore to maintain all ancient rights, privileges' and customs.
The abdication of Charles V. took place on the 25th of October 1555 in the great hall of the palace at Brussels, and Philip II. entered upon his long and eventful reign. His external policy was at first successful. Chiefly through the valour of Lamoral, count of Egmont, two great victories-were won over the French Philip II. at St Quentin (August ro, 1557) and at Gravelines (July 13, 1558). The terms of the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (February 1559) were entirely favourable to Philip. Internal difficulties, however, confronted him. His proposal to impose a tax of 1% on real property and of 2% on movable property was rejected by all the larger provinces. As a thorough Spaniard who did not even understand the language of his Netherland subjects Philip was from the first distrusted and his acts' regarded with suspicion. He himself never felt at home at Brussels, and in August 1 5 59 he set sail for Spain, never again to revisit the Netherlands.
He appointed as regent, Margaret, duchess of Parma, a natural daughter of Charles V. by a Flemish mother, and like the other Margaret of Parma. women of the House a strong and capable ruler. She was nominally assisted by the members of the three councils—the Council of State, the Privy Council and the Council of Finance, but in reality all power had been placed by Philip in the hands of three confidential councillors styled the Consulta—Barlaymont, president of the Council of Finance, Viglius, president of the Privy Council, and Antony Perrenot, bishop of Arras, better known by his later title as Cardinal Granvelle. This extremely able man, a Burgundian by birth, was the son of one of Charles V.'s most trusted councillors, and it was largely to him that the government of the Netherlands was confided. Two burning questions at the outset confronted Margaret and Granvelle—the question of the new bishoprics and the question of the presence in the Netherlands of a number of Spanish troops. The proposal to reorganize the bishoprics of the Netherlands was not a new one, but was the carrying out of a long-planned project of Charles V. In 1555 there were but three dioceses in the Netherlands—those of Tournay, Arras and Utrecht,—all of unwieldy size and under the' jurisdiction of foreign metropolitan. It was proposed now to establish a more numerous hierarchy, self-contained within the limits of Burgundian rule, with three archbishops and fifteen diocesans. The primatial see was placed at Malines (Mechlin), having under it Antwerp, Hertogenbosch, Roermond, Ghent, Bruges, and Yprès constituting the Flemish province; the second archbishopric was at Cambray, with Tournay, Arras, St Omer, and Namur,—the Walloon province; the third at Utrecht, with Haarlem, Middleburg, Leeuwarden, Groningen and Deventer,—the northern (Dutch) province. All these with the exception of Cambray and St Omer were within the boundaries of the Netherlands. The scheme aroused almost universal distrust and opposition. It was believed that its object was the introduction of the dreaded form of the Inquisition established in Spain, and in any case more systematic and stringent measures for the stamping out of heresy. It excited also the animosity of the nobles jealous of their privileges, and of the monasteries, which were called upon to furnish the revenues for the new sees. Granvelle was made first archbishop of Malines, and all the odium attaching to the increase of the episcopate was laid at his door, though he was in neality opposed to it. The continued presence of the Spanish troops, caused also great dissatisfaction. The Netherlanders detested the Spaniards and everything Spanish, and this foreign mercenary force, together with the new bishops, was looked upon as part of a general plan for the gradual overthrow of their rights and liberties. So loud was the outcry that Margaret and Granvelle on their own responsibility sent away the Spanish regiments from the country” (January 1561). The most serious difficulty with which Margaret had to deal arose from the attitude of the great nobles, and among these especially of William (the “Silent”) of Nassau, prince of Orange, Lamoral, count of Egmont, and Philip de Montmorency, count of Hoorn. These great magnates, all of them Knights of the Fleece and men of peculiar weight and authority in the country, were disgusted to find that, though nominally councillors of state, their advice was never asked, and that all power was placed in the hands of the Consulta. They began to be alarmed by the severity with which the edicts against heresy were being carried out, and by the rising indignation among the populace. William, Egmont, and Hoorn therefore placed themselves at the head of a league of nobles against Granvelle (who had become cardinal in 1561) with the object of undermining, his influence and driving him from power. They resigned their positions as councillors of state, and expressed their grievances personally to Margaret and by letter to the king in Madrid, asking for the dismissal of Granvelle. The duchess, herself aggrieved by the dictatorial manners of the cardinal, likewise urged upon her brother the necessity of the retirement of, the unpopular minister. At last Philip unwillingly gave way, and he secretly suggested to the cardinal that he should ask permission from the regent to visit his mother at Besancon. Granvelle left Brussels on the 13th of March 1 564, never to return. But the king was only temporizing; he had no intention of changing his policy. He did but bide his time.
The Council of Trent had recently brought its long labours to a close (December 4, 1563), and Philip resolved to enforce The Tridentine decrees. its decrees throughout his dominions. He issued an order to that effect (August 18, 1564), and it was sent to the duchess of Parma for publication. The nobles protested, and Egmont was deputed to go to Madrid and try to obtain from the king a. mitigation of the edicts and redress of grievances. Philip was inexorable. The activity of the Inquisition was redoubled, and persecution raged throughout the Netherlands. Everywhere intense indignation was aroused by the cruel tortures and executions. In the presence of the rising storm the duchess was bewildered, seeing clearly the folly of the policy she was obliged to carry out no less than its difficulty. Following the example of William of Orange, Hoorn, Berghen and other governors, the magistrates generally declined to enforce the edicts, and offered to resign rather than he the instruments for burning and maltreating their fellow-countrymen. It was at this time that the lesser nobility, foremost among whom were Louis of Nassau (brother of William), Philip de Marnix, lord of The Compromise. Sainte Aldegonde, and Henry, count of Brederode, began to organize resistance, and in 1566 confederacy, was formed, all the members of which signed a document called “The Compromise,” by which they bound themselves to help and protect one another against persecution, and to extirpate the Inquisition from the land. The signatories drew up a petition, known as the “Request,” which was presented by the confederates to the regent (April 5, 1566) in the council chamber at Brussels. As they approached, Barlaymont had The Beggars. been heard to say to Margaret, “What, Madam, is your Highness afraid of these beggars (gueux)?” The phrase was seized upon and made a party name, and it became the fashion for patriots to wear beggar's garb and a medal round the neck, bearing Philip's image on one side and a wallet on the other, with two hands crossed, and the legend Fidèles au roi jusqzu'à la besace.
William of Orange, Egmont, and Hoorn were alarmed at, the violent passions that had been aroused, and held aloof at first from Brederode and his companions. At their instance, and carrying with them instructions from the regent and the council, the marquis of Berghen and Hoorn's brother (the lord of Montigny) were persuaded to go to Spain and lay before Philip the serious character of the crisis. Philip received them courteously, but took care that neither of them should return home. Meanwhile in the Netherlands the sectaries had been making rapid headway in spite of the persecution. Open-air conventicles, were held in all parts of the provinces, and the fierce Calvinist The Iconoclasts. preachers raised the religious excitement of their hearers to such a pitch that it found vent in a furious outburst of iconoclasm. During the month of August bands of fanatical rioters in various parts of the country made havoc in the churches and religious houses, wrecking the altars, smashing the images and pictures, and carrying off the sacred vessels and other treasures on which they could lay their hands; These acts of wild and sacrilegious destruction reached their climax at Antwerp (August 16 and 17), where a small body of rioters forced their way into the cathedral and were permitted without any interference on the part of the magistracy to wreak their will upon its spendid and priceless contents.
The effect of the outbreak was in every way disastrous. The regent was alienated from the popular leaders, and was no longer disposed to help William of Orange, Egmont, and Hoorn to secure a mitigation of religious persecution; and the heart of Philip was hardened in its resolve to exterminate heresy in the Netherlands. He dissembled until such time as he could despatch his greatest general, the duke of Alva, to Brussels at the head of a picked force to crush all opposition.
William of Orange was not deceived by the specious temporizing of the king. He foresaw the coming storm, and he did his utmost to induce Egmont, Hoorn and other prominent members of the patriotic party to unite with him in taking measures for meeting the approaching danger. Flight of Orange. Egmont and Hoorn refused to do anything that might be construed into disloyalty; in these circumstances William felt that the time had come to provide for his personal safety. He withdrew (April 1567) first to his residence at Breda, and then to the ancestral seat of his family at Dillenburg in Nassau.
Margaret of Parma meanwhile, with the aid of a considerable
body of German mercenaries, had inflicted exemplary punishment
upon the iconoclasts and Calvinist sectaries.
A body of some 2000 men drawn principally from
Antwerp were cut to pieces at Austruweel (March 13,
the sectaries. 1567), and their leader John de Marnix, lord of Thouseule, slain. Valenciennes, the chief centre of disturbance in the south, was besieged and taken by Philip de Noircarmes, governor of Hainault, who inflicted a savage vengeance (April 1567). The regent therefore represented to her brother that the disorders were entirely put down and that the time had come to show mercy. But Philip's preparations were now complete, and Alva set out from Italy at the head of a force of some 10,000 veteran troops, Spaniards and Italians, afterwards increased by a body of Germans, with which, after marching through Burgundy, Lorraine and Luxemburg, he reached the Netherlands (August 8), and made his entry into Brussels a fortnight later.
The powers conferred on Alva were those of military dictator.
The title of regent was left to the duchess Margaret, but she
speedily sent in her resignation, which was accepted
(October 6). Before this took place events had been
moving fast. On the 9th of September Egmont and
of Blood. Hoorn were arrested as they left a council at the duke's residence and were confined in the castle of Ghent. At the same time Orange's friend, the powerful burgomaster of Antwerp, Anthony van Stralen, was seized. The next step of Alva was to create a special tribunal which was officially known as the “Council of Troubles,” but was popularly branded with the name of the “Council of Blood,” and as such it has passed down to history. As a tribunal it had no legal status. The duke himself was president and all sentences were submitted to him. Two members only, Vargas and del Rio, both Spaniards, had votes. A swarm of commissioners ransacked the provinces in search of delinquents, and the council sat daily for hours, condemning the accused, almost without a hearing, in batches together. The executioners were ceaselessly at work with stake, sword and Orange outlawed. gibbet. Crowds of fugitives crossed the frontier to seek refuge in Germany and England. The prince of Orange was publicly declared an outlaw and his property confiscated (January 24, 1568). A few weeks later his eldest son, Philip William, count of Buren, a student at the university of Louvain, was kidnapped and carried off to Madrid. William had meanwhile succeeded in raising a force in Germany with which his brother Louis invaded Friesland. He gained a victory at Heiligerlee (May 23) over a Spanish force under Count Aremberg. Aremberg himself was killed, as was Adolphus of Nassau, a younger brother of William and Louis. But Alva himself took the field, and at Jemmingen (July 21) completely annihilated the force of Louis, who himself narrowly escaped with his life. One result of the victory of Heiligerlee was the determination of Alva that Egmont and Hoorn should die before he left Brussels for the campaign in Execution of
Egmont and Hoorn. Friesland. They were pronounced by the Council of Blood to be guilty of high treason (June 2, 1568). On the 6th of June they were beheaded before the Broodhuis at Brussels.
A few months after the disaster of Jemmingen, Orange, who had now become a Lutheran, himself led a large army into Brabant. He was met by Alva with cautious tactics. The Spaniards skilfully avoided a battle, and in November the invaders were compelled to withdraw Alva triumphant. across the French frontier through lack of resources, and were disbanded. Alva was triumphant; but though Alva's master had supplied him with an invincible army, he was unable to furnish him with the funds to pay for it. Money had to be raised by taxation, and at a meeting of the states-general (March 20, 1569) the governor-general proposed (1) an immediate tax of 1% on all property, (2) a tax of 5% on all transfers of real estate, (3) a tax of 10% on the sale of all articles of commerce, the last two taxes to be granted in perpetuity. Everywhere the proposal met with uncompromising resistance. After a prolonged struggle, Alva succeeded in obtaining a subsidy of 2,000,000 fl. for two years only. All this time the brutal work of the Blood Council went on, as did the exodus of thousands upon thousands of industrious and well-to-do citizens, and with each year the detestation felt for Alva and his rule steadily increased.
All this time William and Louis were indefatigably making
preparations for a new campaign, and striving by their agents
to rouse the people to active resistance. The first
successes were however to be not on land, but on the
sea. In 1569 William in his capacity as sovereign
prince of Orange issued letters-of-marque to a number
of vessels to prey upon the Spanish commerce in the narrow
seas. These corsairs, for such they were, were known by the
name of Sea-Beggars (Gfueux-de-Mer). Under the command of the
lord of Lumbres, the lord of Treslong, and William de la Marck
(lord of Lumey) they spread terror and alarm along the coast,
seized much plunder, and in revenge for Alva's cruelty committed
acts of terrible barbarity upon the priests and monks and
catholic officials, as well as upon the crews of the vessels that fell
into their hands. Their difficulty lay in the lack of ports in
Capture of Brill
and Flushing. which to take refuge. At last by a sudden assault the-Sea-Beggars seized the town of Brill at the mouth of the Maas (April 1, 1572). Encouraged by this success they next attacked and took Flushing, the port of g Zeeland, which commanded the approach to Antwerp; and the inhabitants were compelled to take the oath to the prince of Orange, as stadtholder of the king. They next mastered Delfshaven and Schiedam. These striking successes caused a wave of Revolt in the northern provinces. revolt to spread through Holland, Zeeland, Gelderland, Utrecht and Friesland. The principal towns gave in in their submission to the prince of Orange, and acknowledged him as their lawful stadtholder. Within three months of the capture of Brill, Amsterdam was the only town in Holland in the hands of the Spaniards.
This revolt of the northern provinces was facilitated by the
fact that Alva had withdrawn many of the garrisons, and was
moving to oppose an invasion from the south. Louis
of Nassau, with a small force raised in France with the The
connivance of Charles IX., made a sudden dash into
of Mons. Hainault (May 1572) and captured Valenciennes and Mons. Here he was shut in by a superior force of Spaniards, and made preparations to defend himself until relieved by the army which Orange was collecting on the eastern frontier. On the 9th of July William crossed the Rhine, and captured Malines, Termonde and Oudenarde, and was advancing southwards when the news reached him of the massacre of St Bartholomew, which deprived him of the promised aid of Coligny and his army of 12,000 men. He made an attempt, however, to relieve Mons, but his camp at Harmignies was surprised by a night attack, and William himself narrowly escaped capture. The next morning he retreated, and six days later Mons surrendered.
Orange however did not despair, and resolved to throw in his lot for good and all with the rebel province of the north. Already at his summons the states of Holland had in his lot met at Dort (July 15) under the presidency of Philip de Marnix, lord of Sainte Aldegonde, and they had Orange takes up his residence at Delft. unanimously recognized William as their lawful Stadtholder and had voted a large grant of supplies. The prince now took up his permanent residence at Delft, and a regular government was established, in which he exercised almost dictatorial authority.
Alva was now free to deal with rebellion in the north. Malines, which had surrendered to William, was given over for three days to the mercy of a brutal soldiery. Then the army under Alva’s son, Don Frederick of Toledo, marched northwards, and the sack of Zutphen and the inhuman butchery of Naarden are among the blackest records of history. But the very horrors of Don Frederick’s advance roused a spirit of indomitable resistance in Holland.
The famous defence of Haarlem, lasting through the winter of 1572 to July 1573, cost the besiegers 12,000 lives, and gave the insurgent provinces time to breathe. The example of Haarlem was followed by Alkmaar, and with better and success. The assault of the Spaniards was repulsed, Siege of Haarlem and Alkmaar. the dykes were cut, and Don Frederick, fearing for his communications, beat a hasty retreat (August). A few weeks later (Oct. 11) the Beet of Alva on the Zuyder Zee was completely defeated by the Sea-Beggars and its admiral taken prisoner. Disgusted by these reverses, from the in bad odour with the king, and with his soldiers mutinying for lack of a the governor-general resigned. On the 18th of December 1573 Alva, who to the end had persisted in his policy of pitiless severity, Alva withdraws from the Netherlands. left Brussels, carrying with him the curses of the people over whom he had tyrannized for six terrible years of misery and oppression.
Philip sent the grand commander, Don Luis Requesens, as governor-general in his place, and after some futile attempts at negotiation the war went on. The prince of Orange, who had now formally entered the Calvinist communion, was inexorable in laying down three conditions as Don Luis Requesens governor-general. indispensable: (1) Freedom of worship and liberty to preach the gospel according to the Word of God; (2) the restoration and maintenance of all the ancient charters, privileges, and liberties of the land; (3) the removal of all Spaniards and other foreigners from all posts and employments civil and military. In February 1574 the Spaniards by the fall of Middleburg lost their last hold upon Walcheren and Zeeland. This triumph was however far more than counterbalanced by the complete defeat of the army, led by Count Louis of Nassau, at Mookerheide near Nijmwegen (14th March). The gallant Louis and his younger brother Henry both lost their lives. This was a grievous blow to William, but his courage did not fail. The Spaniards laid siege to Leiden, and though stricken down by a fever at Delft The siege and relief of Leiden. the prince spared no exertion to save the town. The dykes were cut, the land flooded, but again and again a relieving force was baulked in its attempts to reach the place, which for more than four months bravely defended itself. But when at the very last extremity through famine, a tempestuous flood enabled the vessels of Orange to reach Leiden, and the investing force was driven to retreat (October 3, 1574). This was the turning-point of the first stage in the struggle for Dutch independence. In honour of this great deliverance, the state of Holland founded the university, which was speedily to make the name of Leiden illustrious throughout Europe.
In the spring of 1575 conferences with a view to peace were held at Breda, and on their failure Orange, in the face of Spanish successes in Zeeland, was forced to seek foreign succour. He sought at first in vain. The sovereignty of Holland and Zeeland was offered to the queen of Death of Requesens. England, but she, though promising secret support, declined.
The situation was, however, relieved through the
sudden death of Requesens (March 1576). The stadtholder
summoned a meeting of the states of Holland and Zeeland to
Delft, and on the 25th of April an act of federation
between the two provinces was executed. By this
Act of Federation between Holland
and Zeeland. compact the prince was invested with all the prerogatives belonging to the sovereign. He was made commander-in-chief of both the military and naval forces with supreme authority, and in his hands was placed the final appointment to all political and judicial posts and to vacant city magistracies. He was required to maintain the Protestant reformed religion and to suppress “all religion at variance with the gospel.” He also had authority to confer the protectorate of the federated provinces upon a foreign prince.
In June 1576 the long siege of Zierikzee, the capital of
Schouwen, ended in its surrender to the Spanish general Mondragon,
after the failure of a gallant attempt by
Admiral Boisot to break the leaguer, in which he lost
his life. Things looked ill for the patriots, and Zeeland,
The great Spanish Mutiny.
would have been at the mercy of the conqueror had
not the success been followed by a great mutiny of the Spanish
and Walloon troops, to whom long arrears of pay were due.
They chose their leader (eletto), marched into Brabant, and
established themselves at Alost, where they were joined by
other bands of mutineers. The principal fortresses of the country
were in the hands of Spanish garrisons, who refused obedience
to the council. William seized his opportunity, and with a body
of picked troops advanced into Flanders, occupied Ghent, and
entered into negotiations with the leader of the states general
“The Spanish Fury.”
at Brussels, for a union of all the provinces on
the basis of exclusion of foreigners and non-interference
with religious belief. The overtures were favourably
received, the council at Brussels was forcibly dissolved, and a
congress met at Ghent on the 19th of October to consider what
measures must be taken for the pacification of the country.
In the midst of their deliberations the news arrived that the
mutineers had marched from Alost on Antwerp, overpowered
the troops of Champagney, and sacked the town with terrible
barbarities (Nov. 3). This tragedy, known as “the Spanish
Fury,” silenced all disputes and differences among the representatives
of the provinces. A treaty establishing a firm alliance
between the provinces, represented by the states-general,
assembled at Brussels on the one part, and on the other by the
of Ghent. prince of Orange, and the states of Holland and Zeeland, was agreed upon and ratified under the title of the “Pacification of Ghent.” It was received with great enthusiasm. The provinces agreed first to eject the foreigner, then to meet in states-general and regulate all matters of religion and defence. It was stipulated that there was to be toleration for both Catholics and Protestants; that the Spanish king should be recognized as de jure sovereign, and the prince of Orange as governor with full powers in Holland and Zeeland.
Meanwhile Philip had appointed his natural brother, Don John of Austria, to be governor-general in the place of Requesens. After many delays he reached Luxemburg on the 4th of November (the date of the Spanish Fury at Antwerp) and notified his arrival to the council of state. Don John of Austria becomes Governor-General. His letter met with a cold reception. On the advice receive him as governor-general unless he accepted the “Pacification of Ghent.” Negotiations were entered into, but a deadlock ensued. At this crisis the hands of Orange and the patriotic party were greatly strengthened by a new compact entitled “The Union of Brussels,” which was extensively signed, especially in the southern Netherlands. This document (Jan. 1577) engaged all its signatories to help in ejecting the foreign soldiery, in carrying out the “Pacification,” in recognizing Philip’s sovereignty, and at the same time in maintaining the charters and constitutions which that king on his accession had sworn to observe. The popular “Union of Brussels.” support given to the Union of Brussels forced Don John to yield. He promised to accept the “Pacification of Ghent,” and finally an agreement was drawn up, styled the “Perpetual Edict,” which was signed by Don John (February 12th) and ratified by Philip a few weeks later. The states-general undertook to accept Don John as governor general “Perpetual Edict.” and to uphold the Catholic religion, while Don John, in the name of the king, agreed to carry out the provisions of the “Pacification.” The authority conferred upon Orange as stadtholder by the provinces of Holland and Zeeland was thus ratified, but that astute statesman had no confidence that Philip intended to observe the treaty any longer than it suited his convenience. He therefore refused, with the approval of the representatives of these provinces, to allow the publication of the “Perpetual Edict” in Holland and Zeeland. As events were to prove, he was in the right.
Don John made his state entry into Brussels on the 1st of May, but only to find that he had no real authority. “The prince of Orange,” he informed the king, “has bewitched the minds of all men. They keep him informed of everything, and take no resolution without consulting Oman at Brussels. him.” In vain the fiery young soldier strove to break loose from the shackles which hampered him. He was, to quote the words of a contemporary, “like an apprentice defying his master.” Irritated and alarmed, the governor suddenly left Brussels in the month of July with some Walloon troops and went to Namur. It was a virtual act of abdication. The eyes of all men turned to the prince of Orange. Through his exertions the Spanish troops had not only been expelled from Holland and Zeeland, but also from the citadels of Antwerp and Ghent, which were now in the hands of the patriots. He was invited to come to Brussels, and after some hesitation, and not without having first obtained the approval of the' states of Holland and Zeeland, he assented. William made his triumphal entry into the capital (September 23), which he had quitted as an outlawed fugitive ten years before. In a brief period he was the acclaimed leader of the entire Netherland people.
But it was not to last. The jealousy of Catholic against Protestant, of south against north, was too deeply rooted. Two distinctive nationalities, Belgian and Dutch, were already in course of formation, and not even the tactful and conciliatory policy of the most consummate Archduke Matthias. statesman of his time could unite those whom the whole trend of events was year by year putting farther asunder. On the 6th of October, at the secret invitation of the Catholic nobles headed by the duke of Aerschot, the archduke Matthias, brother of the emperor, arrived in Brussels to assume the sovereignty of the Netherlands. He was but twenty years of age, and his sudden intrusion was as embarrassing to the prince of Orange as to Don John. William, however, whose position had been strengthened by his nomination to the post of ruwaard of Brabant, determined to welcome Matthias and use him for his own purposes. Matthias was to be the nominal ruler, he himself with the title of lieutenant-general to hold the reins of power.
But Philip had now become thoroughly alarmed, and he dispatched Alexander Farnese, son of the duchess of Parma, to join his uncle Don John with a veteran force of 20,000 troops. Strengthened by this powerful reinforcement, Don John fell upon the patriot army at Gemblours The Duke of Anjou and John Casimir. near Namur on the 31st of January 1578, and with scarcely any loss completely routed the Netherlanders. All was now terror and confusion. The “malcontent” Catholics now turned for help from Matthias to the duke of Anjou, who had invaded the Netherlands with a French army and seized Mons. At the same time John Casimir, brother of the elector palatine, at the invitation of the Calvinist party and with the secret financial aid of Queen Elizabeth, entered the country at the head of a body of German mercenaries from the east. Never did the diplomatic talents of the prince of Orange shine brighter than at this difficult crisis. The duke of Anjou at his earnest instigation accepted the title of “Defender of the liberties of the Netherlands, ”and promised, if the provinces would raise an army of 10,000 foot and 2000 horse, to come to their assistance with a like force. At the same time negotiations were successfully carried on with John Casimir, with Elizabeth and with Henry of Navarre, and their help secured for the national cause. Meanwhile Don John had aroused the mistrust of his brother, who met Death of Don John his urgent appeal for funds with cold silence. Deeply hurt at this treatment and disappointed at his failure, the governor-general fell ill and died on the 1st of October. Philip immediately appointed Alexander Farnese to the vacant post. In him Orange was to find an adversary who was not only a great general but a statesman of insight and ability equal to his own.
Farnese at once set to work with subtle skill to win over to the royalist cause the Catholic nobles of the south. The moment was propitious, and his efforts met with success. Ghent had fallen into the hands of John Casimir, and under his armed protection a fierce and intolerant Alexander Farnese governor-general Calvinism reigned supreme in that important city. To the “Malcontents” (as the Catholic party was styled) the domination of heretical sectaries appeared less tolerable than the evils attendant upon alien rule. This feeling was widespread League of Arras throughout the Walloon provinces, and found expression in the League of Arras (5th of January 1579). By this instrument the deputies of Hainault, Artois and Douay formed themselves into a league for the defence of the Catholic religion, and, subject to his observance of the political stipulations of the Union of Brussels, professed loyal allegiance to the king. The Protestant response was not long in coming. The Union of Utrecht was signed on the 29th of January by the Union of Utrecht representatives of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Zutphen. By it the northern provinces bound themselves together “as if they were one province” to maintain their rights and liberties “with life-blood and goods” against foreign tyranny, and to grant complete freedom of worship and of religious opinion throughout the Confederacy. This famous compact was the work of John of Nassau, at that time governor of Gelderland, and did not at first commend itself to his brother. William was still struggling to carry out that larger scheme of a union of all the seventeen provinces, which at the time of the “Pacification of Ghent” had seemed a possibility. But his efforts were already doomed to certain failure. The die-was cast, which decreed that from 1579 onwards the northern and southern Netherlands were to pursue separate destinies. For their later history see Holland and Belgium.
Bibliography.—General history: For the early authorities consult Collections de chronigues Belges inédites, publ. par ordre du gouvernement (89 vols., 1836–1893); and Collections des chroniqueurs. Trouvères Belges, publ. par l’Académie de Bruxelles (58 vols., 1868–1870); among later writers, J. P. Arend, Algemeane geschiedenis des vaderlands van de vroegste tijden (4 vols., 1840–1883); J. Wagenaar, Vaderlandsche historic (21 vols., 1749–1759); J. P. Blok, A History of the People of the Netherlands (trans. from the Dutch by O. Bierstadt and R. Putnam), vols. i. and ii. (1898–1900). For the Burgundian period—A. B. de Burante, Histoire des dues de Burgogne (1364–1477), (13 vols., 1824–1826); L. Vanderkindere, Le Siècle des Artevelde (1879); J. F. Kirk, History of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (3 vols., 1863–1868). For the Habsburg period to 1555—Th. Juste, Charles Quint et Marguerite d’Autriche (1858); A. Le Glay, Maximilian I. et Marguerite d’Autriche (1839); A. Henne, Histoire du règne de Charles V. en Belgique (10 vols., 1858–1860).
The Revolt of the Netherlands: Contemporary authorities: P. C. Gachard, Correspondance de Philippe II. sur les affaires des Pays-Bas (5 vols., 1848–1879); Correspondance de Guillaume le taciturne (6 vols., 1847–1857); G. Groen van Prinsterer, Archives ou correspondance inédite de la maison d’Orange, 1ᵉ série (9 vols., 1841–1861); Poullet et Piot, Correspondance du cardinal Granvelle, (12 vols., 1879–1899); J. M. B. C. Kervyn de Lettenhove, Relations politiques des Pays-Bas el de l’Angleterre sous le règne de Philippe II. (5 vols., 1882–1886); Collection de mémoires sur l’histoire Belgique au XVIᵉ, XVIIᵉ, et XVIIIᵉ siècles (47 vols., 1858–1875) (chiefly dealing with the period of the Revolt) P. Bor, Oorspronck, begin ende aenwang der Nederlandscher oorlogen, beroerten ende borgelijcke oneenicheyden (1595); J. Ghysius, Oorsprong en voortgang der nederlandscher beroerten (1626); Hugo Grotius, Annales et histoire de rebus belgicis (1657); P. C. Hooft, Nederlandscher historien, 1555–1587 (1656); E. V. Reyd, Voornaenste gheschiedennissen in de Nederlanden, 1566–1601 (1626); A. Carnero, Historia de las guerras civiles que ha avido en los estados de Flandres des del anno 1559 hasta el de 1609, y las causas de la rebelion de los dichos eslados (1625); B. Mendoga, Commentaires memorables des guerres de Flandres et Pays-Bas, avec une sommaire description des Pays-Bas 1567–1577 (1591); F. Strada, De bello Belgico decades duae (1640–1647); L. Guicciardini, Descrittione di tulti i Paesi Bassi (1588). Later works: R. Fruin, Het voorspel van den tachtigjariger oorlog (1866); J. M. B. C. Kervyn de Lettenhove, Les Huguenots et les Gueux 1560–1585 (6 vols., 1883–1885); Th. Juste, Histoire de la révolulion des Pays-Bas sous Philippe II., 1555–1577 (4 vols., 1855–1867); W. J. Nuyens, Geschiedenis der Nederlandse berverten (2 vols., 1889); E. Marx, Studien zur Geschichte des niederländischen Aufstandes (1902); W. H. Prescott, History of the Reign of Philip II. 1555–1568 (1855); J. L. Motley, Rise of the Dutch Republic 1555–1584 (3 vols., 1856); Cambridge Modern History, vol. i., c. xiii. (1902), and vol. iii., cc. vi. and vii. (1904). (Bibliographies, vol. i. pp. 761-769, vol. iii. pp. 798-809).