Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/495

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Maximilian, were carried out by Charles V for establishing in a new form an organic connexion between the whole of the provinces and the Empire at large? The States took very coolly the inclusion in 1512 of the so-called Burgundian Circle (Gelderland and Utrecht were afterwards added to the Westphalian) in the system of Circles established as it were incidentally twelve years earlier, and persistently declined to acknowledge the right claimed by the Emperor of taxing the provinces for imperial purposes. On the other hand the imperial Diet held fast to the pretension, as was shown at Nürnberg in 1543; and in 1548-just a century before the political bond between the United Provinces and the Empire was finally severed-the entire group of the "Burgundian hereditary lands" was included as the Burgundian Circle in the nexus of the Empire. It was in this shape that, with the proper safeguard of a reservation of the privileges and liberties of the several provinces, the undivided Netherlands were by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 settled upon Philip, then intended by Charles to succeed him on the Imperial as well as on the Spanish throne.

Although, notwithstanding the Gelders War, the Netherlands recovered something of their prosperity during the governorship of Margaret, the downfall of the trade and industry of Flanders was irremediable. Public feeling in England continued to favour the Netherlands, just as of old the Flemish towns had upheld the English alliance; but no substantial change took place for many a long year in the mercantile relations between the two peoples. In consequence of the decline of the Venetian and Genoese trade after the discovery of the Cape route to India, Antwerp, where the Portuguese and Spaniards found the facilities and the security they required, and whither they were followed by the other foreign "nations" from Bruges, gradually became the chief commercial port of Europe; while not a rivulet from the current of trade could be turned back into the sands of the Zwyn. Before the middle of the century the proportion of the total exports of the Netherlands, estimated at between six and six and a half million of pounds Flemish, assignable to Antwerp was reckoned at eighty per cent.-that to Bruges at one-half per cent. While Antwerp had supplanted Bruges, the advance of Amsterdam was beginning to emulate that of the great Belgian city, and the mariners of Holland and Zeeland were in the North Sea and the Baltic learning to play their destined part of carriers on the ocean.

The great religious movement the eve of which this summary has reached, found the intellectual life of the Netherlands in a condition of stillness sufficiently accounted for by its political experiences. But the stillness was not stagnation. University studies were in fetters; but in the schools education was largely in the hands of men anxious to prevent any divorce between theological and grammatical teaching. Among the people at large publications against the sale of indulgences -