Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/494

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of Louis XII on January 1, 1515, and the accession of Francis I had offered an opening for the advancement of those friendly relations with France which de Chievres and the Netherlands statesmen were so anxious to cultivate; and even after the death of Ferdinand of Aragon a year later had left to Charles the inheritance of the Spanish monarchy and its Italian dependencies, he continued in spite of Margaret's action to follow the same policy. Nor was it till the imperial succession loomed largely on the horizon that the three generations, Maximilian, Margaret and Charles were reunited in their efforts for a common end.

A heavy price was paid by the Netherlands for the preservation of the greater part of the monarchy of Charles the Bold. Like the House of Burgundy into which he had married, Maximilian (so popular at Nürnberg and Augsburg) showed scant regard for the rights and usages of provinces or towns in its dominions, though it was only exceptionally that he ventured on such an act as the decapitation of the burgomaster of Dort, who had upheld a meeting of the States on their own motion, as allowed by the Groote Privilegie. Philip the Fair went the logical length of limiting his renewal of this famous Charter by a reservation which rendered his acceptance nugatory. That these sentiments had descended to Charles V was shown by the chastisement inflicted by him in 1540 upon his native city of Ghent-the most far-reaching, though not the most sanguinary of any to which in the course of her history she was subjected. In the face of these experiences the gradual growth of the practice of summoning the States-General, long resisted by Charles, but resumed during the governor-generalship (from 1531) of his sister Maria, Queen Dowager of Hungary, seemed of little account. The sufferings of the country-of Holland in particular-in the period preceding that of the rule of Philip the Fair were un-forgotten by the next generation. In 1494 a new valuation of income (verponding) was made throughout the Netherlands, in order to rectify the modus under which the contributions to the bedes had hitherto been assessed on the several towns and villages; and this had to be again revised in 1514. A most distressful state of things was hereby revealed in many parts of the country-more especially south of Utrecht and Gelderland, where there had hardly been a break in the presence of the German soldiery. The number of the homesteads here had dwindled, the cattle had on many pastures diminished by half; along the coasts navigation and fisheries had declined. In some of the Zuiderzee ports the stillness was beginning to set in from which, owing to natural cause's, there was to be no later awakening. What wonder that under Philip and afterwards during Margaret's governorship all classes in the Netherlands should have been practically unanimous in their desire for peace, and that even the Gelders War, upon a successful termination of which the achievement of political unity depended, was held a burden? And what favour could the endeavours expect to find which, set on foot by