The Rise of the Dutch Republic/Part 1/Chapter 1
- Abdication of Charles resolved upon — Brussels in the sixteenth century — Hall of the palace described — Portraits of prominent individuals present at the ceremony — Formalities of the abdication — Universal emotion — Remarks upon the character and career of Charles — His retirement at Juste.
On the twenty-fifth day of October, 1555, the estates of the Netherlands were assembled in the great hall of the palace at Brussels. They had been summoned to be the witnesses and the guarantees of the abdication which Charles V. had long before resolved upon, and which he was that day to execute. The emperor, like many potentates before and since, was fond of great political spectacles. He knew their influence upon the masses of mankind. Although plain, even to shabbiness, in his own costume, and usually attired in black, no one ever understood better than he how to arrange such exhibitions in a striking and artistic style. We have seen the theatrical and imposing manner in which he quelled the insurrection at Ghent, and nearly crushed the life forever out of that vigorous and turbulent little commonwealth. The closing scene of his long and energetic reign he had now arranged with profound study, and with an accurate knowledge of the manner in which the requisite effects were to be produced. The termination of his own career, the opening of his beloved Philip's, were to be dramatized in a manner worthy the august character of the actors, and the importance of the great stage where they played their parts. The eyes of the whole world were directed upon that day towards Brussels; for an imperial abdication was an event which had not, in the sixteenth century, been staled by custom.
The gay capital of Brabant—of that province which rejoiced in the liberal constitution known by the cheerful title of the "joyful entrance," was worthy to be the scene of the imposing show. Brussels had been a city for more than five centuries, and, at that day, numbered about one hundred thousand inhabitants. Its walls, six miles in circumference, were already two hundred years old. Unlike most Netherland cities, lying usually upon extensive plains, it was built along the sides of an abrupt promontory. A wide expanse of living verdure, cultivated gardens, shady groves, fertile cornfields, flowed round it like a sea. The foot of the town was washed by the little river Senne, while the irregular but picturesque streets rose up the steep sides of the hill like the semicircles and stairways of an amphitheatre. Nearly in the heart of the place rose the audacious and exquisitely embroidered tower of the townhouse, three hundred and sixty-six feet in height, a miracle of needlework in stone, rivalling in its intricate carving the cobweb tracery of that lace which has for centuries been synonymous with the city, and rearing itself above a facade of profusely decorated and brocaded architecture. The crest of the elevation was crowned by the towers of the old ducal palace of Brabant, with its extensive and thickly-wooded park on the left, and by the stately mansions of Orange, Egmont, Aremberg, Culemburg, and other Flemish grandees, on the right. The great forest of Soignies, dotted with monasteries and convents, swarming with every variety of game, whither the citizens made their summer pilgrimages, and where the nobles chased the wild boar and the stag, extended to within a quarter of a mile of the city walls. The population, as thrifty, as intelligent, as prosperous as that of any city in Europe, was divided into fifty-two guilds of artisans, among which the most important were the armorers, whose suits of mail would turn a musket-ball; the gardeners, upon whose gentler creations incredible sums were annually lavished; and the tapestry-workers, whose gorgeous fabrics were the wonder of the world. Seven principal churches, of which the most striking was that of St. Gudule, with its twin towers, its charming facade, and its magnificently painted windows, adorned the upper part of the city. The number seven was a magic number in Brussels, and was supposed at that epoch, during which astronomy was in its infancy and astrology in its prime, to denote the seven planets which governed all things terrestrial by their aspects and influences. Seven noble families, springing from seven ancient castles, supplied the stock from which the seven senators were selected who composed the upper council of the city. There were seven great squares, seven city gates, and upon the occasion of the present ceremony, it was observed by the lovers of wonderful coincidences, that seven crowned heads would be congregated under a single roof in the liberty-loving city.
The palace where the states-general were upon this occasion convened, had been the residence of the Dukes of Brabant since the days of John the Second, who had built it about the year 1300. It was a spacious and convenient building, but not distinguished for the beauty of its architecture. In front was a large open square, enclosed by an iron railing; in the rear an extensive and beautiful park, filled with forest trees, and containing gardens and labyrinths, fish-ponds and game preserves, fountains and promenades, race-courses and archery grounds. The main entrance to this edifice opened upon a spacious hall, connected with a beautiful and symmetrical chapel. The hall was celebrated for its size, harmonious proportions, and the richness of its decorations. It was the place where the chapters of the famous order of the Golden Fleece were held. Its walls were hung with a magnificent tapestry of Arran, representing the life and achievements of Gideon, the Midianite, and giving particular prominence to the miracle of the "fleece of wool," vouchsafed to that renowned champion, the great patron of the Knights of the Fleece. On the present occasion there were various additional embellishments of flowers and votive garlands. At the western end a spacious platform or stage, with six or seven steps, had been constructed, below which was a range of benches for the deputies of the seventeen provinces. Upon the stage itself there were rows of seats, covered with tapestry, upon the right hand and upon the left. These were respectively to accommodate the knights of the order and the guests of high distinction. In the rear of these were other benches, for the members of the three great councils. In the centre of the stage was a splendid canopy, decorated with the arms of Burgundy, beneath which were placed three gilded arm-chairs.
All the seats upon the platform were vacant, but the benches below, assigned to the deputies of the provinces, were already filled. Numerous representatives from all the states but two—Gelderland and Overyssel—had already taken their places. Grave magistrates, in chain and gown, and executive officers in the splendid civic uniforms for which the Netherlands were celebrated, already filled every seat within the apace allotted. The remainder of the hall was crowded with the more favored portion of the multitude which had been fortunate enough to procure admission to the exhibition. The archers and hallebardiers of the body-guard kept watch at all the doors. The theatre was filled—the audience was eager with expectation—the actors were yet to arrive. As the clock struck three, the hero of the scene appeared. Caesar, as he was always designated in the classic language of the day, entered, leaning on the shoulder of William of Orange. They came from the chapel, and were immediately followed by Philip the Second and Queen Mary of Hungary. The Archduke Maximilian the Duke of Savoy, and other great personages came afterwards, accompanied by a glittering throng of warriors, councillors, governors, and Knights of the Fleece.
Many individuals of existing or future historic celebrity in the Netherlands, whose names are so familiar to the student of the epoch, seemed to have been grouped, as if by premeditated design, upon this imposing platform, where the curtain was to fall forever upon the mightiest emperor since Charlemagne, and where the opening scene of the long and tremendous tragedy of Philip's reign was to be simultaneously enacted. There was the Bishop of Arras, soon to be known throughout Christendom by the more celebrated title of Cardinal Granvelle, the serene and smiling priest whose subtle influence over the destinies of so many individuals then present, and over the fortunes of the whole land, was to be so extensive and so deadly. There was that flower of Flemish chivalry, the lineal descendant of ancient Frisian kings, already distinguished for his bravery in many fields, but not having yet won those two remarkable victories which were soon to make the name of Egmont like the sound of a trumpet throughout the whole country. Tall, magnificent in costume, with dark flowing hair, soft brown eye, smooth cheek, a slight moustache, and features of almost feminine delicacy; such was the gallant and ill-fated Lamoral Egmont. The Count of Horn; too, with bold, sullen face, and fan-shaped beard-a brave, honest, discontented, quarrelsome, unpopular man; those other twins in doom—the Marquis Berghen and the Lord of Montigny; the Baron Berlaymont, brave, intensely loyal, insatiably greedy for office and wages, but who, at least, never served but one party; the Duke of Arschot, who was to serve all, essay to rule all, and to betray all—a splendid seignor, magnificent in cramoisy velvet, but a poor creature, who traced his pedigree from Adam, according to the family monumental inscriptions at Louvain, but who was better known as grand-nephew of the emperor's famous tutor, Chiebres; the bold, debauched Brederode, with handsome, reckless face and turbulent demeanor; the infamous Noircarmes, whose name was to be covered with eternal execration, for aping towards his own compatriots and kindred as much of Alva's atrocities and avarice, as he was permitted to exercise; the distinguished soldiers Meghen and Aremberg—these, with many others whose deeds of arms were to become celebrated throughout Europe, were all conspicuous in the brilliant crowd. There, too, was that learned Frisian, President Viglius, crafty, plausible, adroit, eloquent—a small, brisk man, with long yellow hair, glittering green eyes, round, tumid, rosy cheeks, and flowing beard. Foremost among the Spanish grandees, and close to Philip, stood the famous favorite, Ruy Gomez, or as he was familiarly called "Re y Gomez" (King and Gomez), a man of meridional aspect, with coal-black hair and beard, gleaming eyes, a face pallid with intense application, and slender but handsome figure; while in immediate attendance upon the emperor, was the immortal Prince of Orange.
Such were a few only of the most prominent in that gay throng, whose fortunes, in part, it will be our humble duty to narrate; how many of them passing through all this glitter to a dark and mysterious doom!—some to perish on public scaffolds, some by midnight assassination; others, more fortunate, to fall on the battle-field—nearly all, sooner or later, to be laid in bloody graves!
All the company present had risen to their feet as the emperor entered. By his command, all immediately afterwards resumed their places. The benches at either end of the platform were accordingly filled with the royal and princely personages invited, with the Fleece Knights, wearing the insignia of their order, with the members of the three great councils, and with the governors. The Emperor, the King, and the Queen of Hungary, were left conspicuous in the centre of the scene. As the whole object of the ceremony was to present an impressive exhibition, it is worth our while to examine minutely the appearance of the two principal characters.
Charles the Fifth was then fifty-five years and eight months old; but he was already decrepit with premature old age. He was of about the middle height, and had been athletic and well-proportioned. Broad in the shoulders, deep in the chest, thin in the flank, very muscular in the arms and legs, he had been able to match himself with all competitors in the tourney and the ring, and to vanquish the bull with his own hand in the favorite national amusement of Spain. He had been able in the field to do the duty of captain and soldier, to endure fatigue and exposure, and every privation except fasting. These personal advantages were now departed. Crippled in hands, knees and legs, he supported himself with difficulty upon a crutch, with the aid of, an attendant's shoulder. In face he had always been extremely ugly, and time had certainly not improved his physiognomy. His hair, once of a light color, was now white with age, close-clipped and bristling; his beard was grey, coarse, and shaggy. His forehead was spacious and commanding; the eye was dark blue, with an expression both majestic and benignant. His nose was aquiline but crooked. The lower part of his face was famous for its deformity. The under lip, a Burgundian inheritance, as faithfully transmitted as the duchy and county, was heavy and hanging; the lower jaw protruding so far beyond the upper, that it was impossible for him to bring together the few fragments of teeth which still remained, or to speak a whole sentence in an intelligible voice. Eating and talking, occupations to which he was always much addicted, were becoming daily more arduous, in consequence of this original defect, which now seemed hardly human, but rather an original deformity.
So much for the father. The son, Philip the Second, was a small, meagre man, much below the middle height, with thin legs, a narrow chest, and the shrinking, timid air of an habitual invalid. He seemed so little, upon his first visit to his aunts, the Queens Eleanor and Mary, accustomed to look upon proper men in Flanders and Germany, that he was fain to win their favor by making certain attempts in the tournament, in which his success was sufficiently problematical. "His body," says his professed panegyrist, "was but a human cage, in which, however brief and narrow, dwelt a soul to whose flight the immeasurable expanse of heaven was too contracted." The same wholesale admirer adds, that "his aspect was so reverend, that rustics who met him alone in a wood, without knowing him, bowed down with instinctive veneration." In face, he was the living image of his father, having the same broad forehead, and blue eye, with the same aquiline, but better proportioned, nose. In the lower part of the countenance, the remarkable Burgundian deformity was likewise reproduced. He had the same heavy, hanging lip, with a vast mouth, and monstrously protruding lower jaw. His complexion was fair, his hair light and thin, his beard yellow, short, and pointed. He had the aspect of a Fleming, but the loftiness of a Spaniard. His demeanor in public was still, silent, almost sepulchral. He looked habitually on the ground when he conversed, was chary of speech, embarrassed, and even suffering in manner. This was ascribed partly to a natural haughtiness which he had occasionally endeavored to overcome, and partly to habitual pains in the stomach, occasioned by his inordinate fondness for pastry.
Such was the personal appearance of the man who was about to receive into his single hand the destinies of half the world; whose single will was, for the future, to shape the fortunes of every individual then present, of many millions more in Europe, America, and at the ends of the earth, and of countless millions yet unborn.
The three royal personages being seated upon chairs placed triangularly under the canopy, such of the audience as had seats provided for them, now took their places, and the proceedings commenced. Philibert de Bruxelles, a member of the privy council of the Netherlands, arose at the emperor's command, and made a long oration. He spoke of the emperor's warm affection for the provinces, as the land of his birth; of his deep regret that his broken health and failing powers, both of body and mind, compelled him to resign his sovereignty, and to seek relief for his shattered frame in a more genial climate. Caesar's gout was then depicted in energetic language, which must have cost him a twinge as he sat there and listened to the councillor's eloquence. "'Tis a most truculent executioner," said Philibert: "it invades the whole body, from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet, leaving nothing untouched. It contracts the nerves with intolerable anguish, it enters the bones, it freezes the marrow, it converts the lubricating fluids of the joints into chalk, it pauses not until, having exhausted and debilitated the whole body, it has rendered all its necessary instruments useless, and conquered the mind by immense torture." Engaged in mortal struggle with such an enemy, Caesar felt himself obliged, as the councillor proceeded to inform his audience, to change the scene of the contest from the humid air of Flanders to the warmer atmosphere of Spain. He rejoiced, however, that his son was both vigorous and experienced, and that his recent marriage with the Queen of England had furnished the provinces with a most valuable alliance. He then again referred to the emperor's boundless love for his subjects, and concluded with a tremendous, but superfluous, exhortation to Philip on the necessity of maintaining the Catholic religion in its purity. After this long harangue, which has been fully reported by several historians who were present at the ceremony, the councillor proceeded to read the deed of cession, by which Philip, already sovereign of Sicily, Naples, Milan, and titular King of England, France, and Jerusalem, now received all the duchies, marquisates, earldoms, baronies, cities, towns, and castles of the Burgundian property, including, of course, the seventeen Netherlands.
As De Bruxelles finished, there was a buzz of admiration throughout the assembly, mingled with murmurs of regret, that in the present great danger upon the frontiers from the belligerent King of France and his warlike and restless nation, the provinces should be left without their ancient and puissant defender. The emperor then rose to his feet. Leaning on his crutch, he beckoned from his seat the personage upon whose arm he had leaned as he entered the hall. A tall, handsome youth of twenty-two came forward—a man whose name from that time forward, and as long as history shall endure, has been, and will be, more familiar than any other in the mouths of Netherlanders. At that day he had rather a southern than a German or Flemish appearance. He had a Spanish cast of features, dark, well chiselled, and symmetrical. His head was small and well placed upon his shoulders. His hair was dark brown, as were also his moustache and peaked beard. His forehead was lofty, spacious, and already prematurely engraved with the anxious lines of thought. His eyes were full, brown, well opened, and expressive of profound reflection. He was dressed in the magnificent apparel for which the Netherlanders were celebrated above all other nations, and which the ceremony rendered necessary. His presence being considered indispensable at this great ceremony, he had been summoned but recently from the camp on the frontier, where, notwithstanding his youth, the emperor had appointed him to command his army in chief against such antagonists as Admiral Coligny and the Due de Nevers.
Thus supported upon his crutch and upon the shoulder of William of Orange, the Emperor proceeded to address the states, by the aid of a closely-written brief which he held in his hand. He reviewed rapidly the progress of events from his seventeenth year up to that day. He spoke of his nine expeditions into Germany, six to Spain, seven to Italy, four to France, ten to the Netherlands, two to England, as many to Africa, and of his eleven voyages by sea. He sketched his various wars, victories, and treaties of peace, assuring his hearers that the welfare of his subjects and the security of the Roman Catholic religion had ever been the leading objects of his life. As long as God had granted him health, he continued, only enemies could have regretted that Charles was living and reigning, but now that his strength was but vanity, and life fast ebbing away, his love for dominion, his affection for his subjects, and his regard for their interests, required his departure. Instead of a decrepit man with one foot in the grave, he presented them with a sovereign in the prime of life and the vigor of health. Turning toward Philip, he observed, that for a dying father to bequeath so magnificent an empire to his son was a deed worthy of gratitude, but that when the father thus descended to the grave before his time, and by an anticipated and living burial sought to provide for the welfare of his realms and the grandeur of his son, the benefit thus conferred was surely far greater. He added, that the debt would be paid to him and with usury, should Philip conduct himself in his administration of the province with a wise and affectionate regard to their true interests. Posterity would applaud his abdication, should his son Prove worthy of his bounty; and that could only be by living in the fear of God, and by maintaining law, justice, and the Catholic religion in all their purity, as the true foundation of the realm. In conclusion, he entreated the estates, and through them the nation, to render obedience to their new prince, to maintain concord and to preserve inviolate the Catholic faith; begging them, at the same time, to pardon him all errors or offences which he might have committed towards them during his reign, and assuring them that he should unceasingly remember their obedience and affection in his every prayer to that Being to whom the remainder of his life was to be dedicated.
Such brave words as these, so many vigorous asseverations of attempted performance of duty, such fervent hopes expressed of a benign administration in behalf of the son, could not but affect the sensibilities of the audience, already excited and softened by the impressive character of the whole display. Sobs were heard throughout every portion of the hall, and tears poured profusely from every eye. The Fleece Knights on the platform and the burghers in the background were all melted with the same emotion. As for the Emperor himself, he sank almost fainting upon his chair as he concluded his address. An ashy paleness overspread his countenance, and he wept like a child. Even the icy Philip was almost softened, as he rose to perform his part in the ceremony. Dropping upon his knees before his father's feet, he reverently kissed his hand. Charles placed his hands solemnly upon his son's head, made the sign of the cross, and blessed him in the name of the Holy Trinity. Then raising him in his arms he tenderly embraced him saying, as he did so, to the great potentates around him, that he felt a sincere compassion for the son on whose shoulders so heavy a weight had just devolved, and which only a life-long labor would enable him to support. Philip now uttered a few words expressive of his duty to his father and his affection for his people. Turning to the orders, he signified his regret that he was unable to address them either in the French or Flemish language, and was therefore obliged to ask their attention to the Bishop of Arras, who would act as his interpreter. Antony Perrenot accordingly arose, and in smooth, fluent, and well-turned commonplaces, expressed at great length the gratitude of Philip towards his father, with his firm determination to walk in the path of duty, and to obey his father's counsels and example in the future administration of the provinces. This long address of the prelate was responded to at equal length by Jacob Maas, member of the Council of Brabant, a man of great learning, eloquence and prolixity, who had been selected to reply on behalf of the states-general, and who now, in the name of these; bodies, accepted the abdication in an elegant and complimentary harangue. Queen Mary of Hungary, the "Christian widow" of Erasmus, and Regent of the Netherlands during the past twenty-five years, then rose to resign her office, making a brief address expressive of her affection for the people, her regrets at leaving them, and her hopes that all errors which she might have committed during her long administration would be forgiven her. Again the redundant Maas responded, asserting in terms of fresh compliment and elegance the uniform satisfaction of the provinces with her conduct during her whole career.
The orations and replies having now been brought to a close, the ceremony was terminated. The Emperor, leaning on the shoulders of the Prince of Orange and of the Count de Buren, slowly left the hall, followed by Philip, the Queen of Hungary, and the whole court; all in the same order in which they had entered, and by the same passage into the chapel.
It is obvious that the drama had been completely successful. It had been a scene where heroic self-sacrifice, touching confidence, ingenuous love of duty, patriotism, and paternal affection upon one side; filial reverence, with a solemn regard for public duty and the highest interests of the people on the other, were supposed to be the predominant sentiments. The happiness of the Netherlands was apparently the only object contemplated in the great transaction. All had played well their parts in the past, all hoped the best in the times which were to follow. The abdicating Emperor was looked upon as a hero and a prophet. The stage was drowned in tears. There is not the least doubt as to the genuine and universal emotion which was excited throughout the assembly. "Caesar's oration," says Secretary Godelaevus, who was present at the ceremony, "deeply moved the nobility and gentry, many of whom burst into tears; even the illustrious Knights of the Fleece were melted." The historian, Pontus Heuterus, who, then twenty years of age, was likewise among the audience, attests that "most of the assembly were dissolved in tears; uttering the while such sonorous sobs that they compelled his Caesarean Majesty and the Queen to cry with them. My own face," he adds, "was certainly quite wet." The English envoy, Sir John Mason, describing in a despatch to his government the scene which he had just witnessed, paints the same picture. "The Emperor," he said, "begged the forgiveness of his subjects if he had ever unwittingly omitted the performance of any of his duties towards them. And here," continues the envoy, "he broke into a weeping, whereunto, besides the dolefulness of the matter, I think, he was moche provoked by seeing the whole company to do the lyke before; there beyng in myne opinion not one man in the whole assemblie, stranger or another, that dewring the time of a good piece of his oration poured not out as abundantly teares, some more, some lesse. And yet he prayed them to beare with his imperfections, proceeding of his sickly age, and of the mentioning of so tender a matter as the departing from such a sort of dere and loving subjects."
And yet what was the Emperor Charles to the inhabitants of the Netherlands that they should weep for him? His conduct towards them during his whole career had been one of unmitigated oppression. What to them were all these forty voyages by sea and land, these journeyings back and forth from Friesland to Tunis, from Madrid to Vienna. What was it to them that the imperial shuttle was thus industriously flying to and fro? The fabric wrought was but the daily growing grandeur and splendor of his imperial house; the looms were kept moving at the expense of their hardly-earned treasure, and the woof was often dyed red in the blood of his bravest subjects. The interests of the Netherlands had never been even a secondary consideration with their master. He had fulfilled no duty towards them, he had committed the gravest crimes against them. He had regarded them merely as a treasury upon which to draw; while the sums which he extorted were spent upon ceaseless and senseless wars, which were of no more interest to them than if they had been waged in another planet. Of five millions of gold annually, which he derived from all his realms, two millions came from these industrious and opulent provinces, while but a half million came from Spain and another half from the Indies. The mines of wealth which had been opened by the hand of industry in that slender territory of ancient morass and thicket, contributed four times as much income to the imperial exchequer as all the boasted wealth of Mexico and Peru. Yet the artisans, the farmers and the merchants, by whom these riches were produced, were consulted about as much in the expenditure of the imposts upon their industry as were the savages of America as to the distribution of the mineral treasures of their soil. The rivalry of the houses of Habsburg and Valois, this was the absorbing theme, during the greater part of the reign which had just been so dramatically terminated. To gain the empire over Francis, to leave to Don Philip a richer heritage than the Dauphin could expect, were the great motives of the unparalleled energy displayed by Charles during the longer and the more successful portion of his career. To crush the Reformation throughout his dominions, was his occupation afterward, till he abandoned the field in despair. It was certainly not desirable for the Netherlanders that they should be thus controlled by a man who forced them to contribute so largely to the success of schemes, some of which were at best indifferent, and others entirely odious to them. They paid 1,200,000 crowns a year regularly; they paid in five years an extraordinary subsidy of eight millions of ducats, and the States were roundly rebuked by the courtly representatives of their despot, if they presumed to inquire into the objects of the appropriations, or to express an interest in their judicious administration. Yet it maybe supposed to have been a matter of indifference to them whether Francis or Charles had won the day at Pavia, and it certainly was not a cause of triumph to the daily increasing thousands of religious reformers in Holland and Flanders that their brethren had been crushed by the Emperor at Muhlberg. But it was not alone that he drained their treasure, and hampered their industry. He was in constant conflict with their ancient and dearly-bought political liberties. Like his ancestor Charles the Bold, he was desirous of constructing a kingdom out of the provinces. He was disposed to place all their separate and individual charters on a procrustean bed, and shape them all into uniformity simply by reducing the whole to a nullity. The difficulties in the way, the stout opposition offered by burghers, whose fathers had gained these charters with their blood, and his want of leisure during the vast labors which devolved upon him as the autocrat of so large a portion of the world, caused him to defer indefinitely the execution of his plan. He found time only to crush some of the foremost of the liberal institutions of the provinces, in detail. He found the city of Tournay a happy, thriving, self-governed little republic in all its local affairs; he destroyed its liberties, without a tolerable pretext, and reduced it to the condition of a Spanish or Italian provincial town.
His memorable chastisement of Ghent for having dared to assert its ancient rights of self-taxation, is sufficiently known to the world, and has been already narrated at length. Many other instances might be adduced, if it were not a superfluous task, to prove that Charles was not only a political despot, but most arbitrary and cruel in the exercise of his despotism.
But if his sins against the Netherlands had been only those of financial and political oppression, it would be at least conceivable, although certainly not commendable, that the inhabitants should have regretted his departure. But there are far darker crimes for which he stands arraigned at the bar of history, and it is indeed strange that the man who had committed them should have been permitted to speak his farewell amid blended plaudits and tears. His hand planted the inquisition in the Netherlands. Before his day it is idle to say that the diabolical institution ever had a place there. The isolated cases in which inquisitors had exercised functions proved the absence and not the presence of the system, and will be discussed in a later chapter. Charles introduced and organized a papal inquisition, side by side with those terrible "placards" of his invention, which constituted a masked inquisition even more cruel than that of Spain. The execution of the system was never permitted to languish. The number of Netherlanders who were burned, strangled, beheaded, or buried alive, in obedience to his edicts, and for the offences of reading the Scriptures, of looking askance at a graven image, or of ridiculing the actual presence of the body and blood of Christ in a wafer, have been placed as high as one hundred thousand by distinguished authorities, and have never been put at a lower mark than fifty thousand. The Venetian envoy Navigero placed the number of victims in the provinces of Holland and Friesland alone at thirty thousand, and this in 1546, ten years before the abdication, and five before the promulgation of the hideous edict of 1550!
The edicts and the inquisition were the gift of Charles to the Netherlands, in return for their wasted treasure and their constant obedience. For this, his name deserves to be handed down to eternal infamy, not only throughout the Netherlands, but in every land where a single heart beats for political or religious freedom. To eradicate these institutions after they had been watered and watched by the care of his successor, was the work of an eighty years' war, in the course of which millions of lives were sacrificed. Yet the abdicating Emperor had summoned his faithful estates around him, and stood up before them in his imperial robes for the last time, to tell them of the affectionate regard which he had always borne them, and to mingle his tears with theirs.
Could a single phantom have risen from one of the many thousand graves where human beings had been thrust alive by his decree, perhaps there might have been an answer to the question propounded by the Emperor amid all that piteous weeping. Perhaps it might have told the man who asked his hearers to be forgiven if he had ever unwittingly offended them, that there was a world where it was deemed an offence to torture, strangle, burn, and drown one's innocent fellow-creatures. The usual but trifling excuse for such enormities can not be pleaded for the Emperor. Charles was no fanatic. The man whose armies sacked Rome, who laid his sacrilegious hands on Christ's vicegerent, and kept the infallible head of the Church a prisoner to serve his own political ends, was then no bigot. He believed in nothing; save that when the course of his imperial will was impeded, and the interests of his imperial house in jeopardy, pontiffs were to succumb as well as anabaptists. It was the political heresy which lurked in the restiveness of the religious reformers under dogma, tradition, and supernatural sanction to temporal power, which he was disposed to combat to the death. He was too shrewd a politician not to recognize the connection between aspirations for religious and for political freedom. His hand was ever ready to crush both heresies in one. Had he been a true son of the Church, a faithful champion of her infallibility, he would not have submitted to the peace of Passau, so long as he could bring a soldier to the field. Yet he acquiesced in the Reformation for Germany, while the fires for burning the reformers were ever blazing in the Netherlands, where it was death even to allude to the existence of the peace of Passau. Nor did he acquiesce only from compulsion, for long before his memorable defeat by Maurice, he had permitted the German troops, with whose services he could not dispense, regularly to attend Protestant worship performed by their own Protestant chaplains. Lutheran preachers marched from city to city of the Netherlands under the imperial banner, while the subjects of those patrimonial provinces were daily suffering on the scaffold for their nonconformity. The influence of this garrison-preaching upon the progress of the Reformation in the Netherlands is well known. Charles hated Lutherans, but he required soldiers, and he thus helped by his own policy to disseminate what had he been the fanatic which he perhaps became in retirement, he would have sacrificed his life to crush. It is quite true that the growing Calvinism of the provinces was more dangerous both religiously and politically, than the Protestantism of the German princes, which had not yet been formally pronounced heresy, but it is thus the more evident that it was political rather than religious heterodoxy which the despot wished to suppress.
No man, however, could have been more observant of religious rites. He heard mass daily. He listened to a sermon every Sunday and holiday. He confessed and received the sacrament four times a year. He was sometimes to be seen in his tent at midnight, on his knees before a crucifix with eyes and hands uplifted. He ate no meat in Lent, and used extraordinary diligence to discover and to punish any man, whether courtier or plebeian, who failed to fast during the whole forty days. He was too good a politician not to know the value of broad phylacteries and long prayers. He was too nice an observer of human nature not to know how easily mint and cummin could still outweigh the "weightier matters of law, judgment, mercy and faith;" as if the founder of the religion which he professed, and to maintain which he had established the inquisition and the edicts, had never cried woe upon the Pharisees. Yet there is no doubt that the Emperor was at times almost popular in the Netherlands, and that he was never as odious as his successor. There were some deep reasons for this, and some superficial ones; among others, a singularly fortunate manner. He spoke German, Spanish, Italian, French, and Flemish, and could assume the characteristics of each country as easily as he could use its language. He could be stately with Spaniards, familiar with Flemings witty with Italians. He could strike down a bull in the ring like a matador at Madrid, or win the prize in the tourney like a knight of old; he could ride at the ring with the Flemish nobles, hit the popinjay with his crossbow among Antwerp artisans, or drink beer and exchange rude jests with the boors of Brabant. For virtues such as these, his grave crimes against God and man, against religion and chartered and solemnly-sworn rights have been palliated, as if oppression became more tolerable because the oppressor was an accomplished linguist and a good marksman.
But the great reason for his popularity no doubt lay in his military genius. Charles was inferior to no general of his age. "When he was born into the world," said Alva, "he was born a soldier," and the Emperor confirmed the statement and reciprocated the compliment, when he declared that "the three first captains of the age were himself first, and then the Duke of Alva and Constable Montmorency." It is quite true that all his officers were not of the same opinion, and many were too apt to complain that his constant presence in the field did more harm than good, and "that his Majesty would do much better to stay at home." There is, however, no doubt that he was both a good soldier and a good general. He was constitutionally fearless, and he possessed great energy and endurance. He was ever the first to arm when a battle was to be fought, and the last to take off his harness. He commanded in person and in chief, even when surrounded by veterans and crippled by the gout. He was calm in great reverses. It was said that he was never known to change color except upon two occasions: after the fatal destruction of his fleet at Algiers, and in the memorable flight from Innspruck. He was of a phlegmatic, stoical temperament, until shattered by age and disease; a man without a sentiment and without a tear. It was said by Spaniards that he was never seen to weep, even at the death of his nearest relatives and friends, except on the solitary occasion of the departure of Don Ferrante Gonzaga from court. Such a temperament was invaluable in the stormy career to which he had devoted his life. He was essentially a man of action, a military chieftain. "Pray only for my health and my life," he was accustomed to say to the young officers who came to him from every part of his dominions to serve under his banners, "for so, long as I have these I will never leave you idle; at least in France. I love peace no better than the rest of you. I was born and bred to arms, and must of necessity keep on my harness till I can bear it no longer." The restless energy and the magnificent tranquillity of his character made him a hero among princes, an idol with his officers, a popular favorite every where. The promptness with which, at much personal hazard, he descended like a thunderbolt in the midst of the Ghent insurrection; the juvenile ardor with which the almost bedridden man arose from his sick-bed to smite the Protestants at Muhlberg; the grim stoicism with which he saw sixty thousand of his own soldiers perish in the wintry siege of Metz; all ensured him a large measure of that applause which ever follows military distinction, especially when the man who achieves it happens to wear a crown. He combined the personal prowess of a knight of old with the more modern accomplishments of a scientific tactician. He could charge the enemy in person like the most brilliant cavalry officer, and he thoroughly understood the arrangements of a campaign, the marshalling and victualling of troops, and the whole art of setting and maintaining an army in the field.
Yet, though brave and warlike as the most chivalrous of his ancestors, Gothic, Burgundian, or Suabian, he was entirely without chivalry. Fanaticism for the faith, protection for the oppressed, fidelity to friend and foe, knightly loyalty to a cause deemed sacred, the sacrifice of personal interests to great ideas, generosity of hand and heart; all those qualities which unite with courage and constancy to make up the ideal chevalier, Charles not only lacked but despised. He trampled on the weak antagonist, whether burgher or petty potentate. He was false as water. He inveigled his foes who trusted to imperial promises, by arts unworthy an emperor or a gentleman. He led about the unfortunate John Frederic of Saxony, in his own language, "like a bear in a chain," ready to be slipped upon Maurice should "the boy" prove ungrateful. He connived at the famous forgery of the prelate of Arras, to which the Landgrave Philip owed his long imprisonment; a villany worse than many for which humbler rogues have suffered by thousands upon the gallows. The contemporary world knew well the history of his frauds, on scale both colossal and minute, and called him familiarly "Charles qui triche."
The absolute master of realms on which the sun perpetually shone, he was not only greedy for additional dominion, but he was avaricious in small matters, and hated to part with a hundred dollars. To the soldier who brought him the sword and gauntlets of Francis the First, he gave a hundred crowns, when ten thousand would have been less than the customary present; so that the man left his presence full of desperation. The three soldiers who swam the Elbe, with their swords in their mouths; to bring him the boats with which he passed to the victory of Muhlberg, received from his imperial bounty a doublet, a pair of stockings, and four crowns apiece. His courtiers and ministers complained bitterly of his habitual niggardliness, and were fain to eke out their slender salaries by accepting bribes from every hand rich enough to bestow them. In truth Charles was more than any thing else a politician, notwithstanding his signal abilities as a soldier. If to have founded institutions which could last, be the test of statesmanship, he was even a statesman; for many of his institutions have resisted the pressure of three centuries. But those of Charlemagne fell as soon as his hand was cold, while the works of many ordinary legislators have attained to a perpetuity denied to the statutes of Solon or Lycurgus. Durability is not the test of merit in human institutions. Tried by the only touchstone applicable to governments, their capacity to insure the highest welfare of the governed, we shall not find his polity deserving of much admiration. It is not merely that he was a despot by birth and inclination, nor that he naturally substituted as far as was practicable, the despotic for the republican element, wherever his hand can be traced. There may be possible good in despotisms as there is often much tyranny in democracy. Tried however according to the standard by which all governments may be measured, those laws of truth and divine justice which all Christian nations recognize, and which are perpetual, whether recognized or not, we shall find little to venerate in the life work of the Emperor. The interests of his family, the security of his dynasty, these were his end and aim. The happiness or the progress of his people never furnished even the indirect motives of his conduct, and the result was a baffled policy and a crippled and bankrupt empire at last.
He knew men, especially he knew their weaknesses, and he knew how to turn them to account. He knew how much they would bear, and that little grievances would sometimes inflame more than vast and deliberate injustice. Therefore he employed natives mainly in the subordinate offices of his various states, and he repeatedly warned his successor that the haughtiness of Spaniards and the incompatibility of their character with the Flemish, would be productive of great difficulties and dangers. It was his opinion that men might be tyrannized more intelligently by their own kindred, and in this perhaps he was right. He was indefatigable in the discharge of business, and if it were possible that half a world could be administered as if it were the private property of an individual, the task would have been perhaps as well accomplished by Charles as by any man. He had not the absurdity of supposing it possible for him to attend to the details of every individual affair in every one of his realms; and he therefore intrusted the stewardship of all specialities to his various ministers and agents. It was his business to know men and to deal with affairs on a large scale, and in this he certainly was superior to his successor. His correspondence was mainly in the hands of Granvelle the elder, who analyzed letters received, and frequently wrote all but the signatures of the answers. The same minister usually possessed the imperial ear, and farmed it out for his own benefit. In all this there was of course room for vast deception, but the Emperor was quite aware of what was going on, and took a philosophic view of the matter as an inevitable part of his system. Granvelle grew enormously rich under his eye by trading on the imperial favor and sparing his majesty much trouble. Charles saw it all, ridiculed his peculations, but called him his "bed of down." His knowledge of human nature was however derived from a contemplation mainly of its weaknesses, and was therefore one-sided. He was often deceived, and made many a fatal blunder, shrewd politician though he was. He involved himself often in enterprises which could not be honorable or profitable, and which inflicted damage on his greatest interests. He often offended men who might have been useful friends, and converted allies into enemies. "His Majesty," said a keen observer who knew him well, "has not in his career shown the prudence which was necessary to him. He has often offended those whose love he might have conciliated, converted friends into enemies, and let those perish who were his most faithful partisans." Thus it must be acknowledged that even his boasted knowledge of human nature and his power of dealing with men was rather superficial and empirical than the real gift of genius.
His personal habits during the greater part of his life were those of an indefatigable soldier. He could remain in the saddle day and night, and endure every hardship but hunger. He was addicted to vulgar and miscellaneous incontinence. He was an enormous eater. He breakfasted at five, on a fowl seethed in milk and dressed with sugar and spices. After this he went to sleep again. He dined at twelve, partaking always of twenty dishes. He supped twice; at first, soon after vespers, and the second time at midnight or one o'clock, which meal was, perhaps, the most solid of the four. After meat he ate a great quantity of pastry and sweetmeats, and he irrigated every repast by vast draughts of beer and wine. His stomach, originally a wonderful one, succumbed after forty years of such labors. His taste, but not his appetite began to fail, and he complained to his majordomo, that all his food was insipid. The reply is, perhaps, among the most celebrated of facetia. The cook could do nothing more unless he served his Majesty a pasty of watches. The allusion to the Emperor's passion for horology was received with great applause. Charles "laughed longer than he was ever known to laugh before, and all the courtiers (of course) laughed as long as his Majesty." The success of so sorry a jest would lead one to suppose that the fooling was less admirable at the imperial court than some of the recorded quips of Tribaulet would lead us to suppose.
The transfer of the other crowns and dignitaries to Philip, was accomplished a month afterwards, in a quiet manner. Spain, Sicily, the Balearic Islands, America, and other portions of the globe, were made over without more display than an ordinary 'donatio inter vivos'. The Empire occasioned some difficulty. It had been already signified to Ferdinand, that his brother was to resign the imperial crown in his favor, and the symbols of sovereignty were accordingly transmitted to him by the hands of William of Orange. A deputation, moreover, of which that nobleman, Vice-Chancellor Seld, and Dr. Wolfgang Haller were the chiefs, was despatched to signify to the electors of the Empire the step which had been thus resolved upon. A delay of more than two years, however, intervened, occasioned partly by the deaths of three electors, partly by the war which so soon broke out in Europe, before the matter was formally acted upon. In February, 1553, however, the electors, having been assembled in Frankfort, received the abdication of Charles, and proceeded to the election of Ferdinand. That Emperor was crowned in March, and immediately despatched a legation to the Pope to apprize him of the fact. Nothing was less expected than any opposition on the part of the pontiff. The querulous dotard, however, who then sat in St. Peter's chair, hated Charles and all his race. He accordingly denied the validity of the whole transaction, without sanction previously obtained from the Pope, to whom all crowns belonged. Ferdinand, after listening, through his envoys, to much ridiculous dogmatism on the part of the Pope, at last withdrew from the discussion, with a formal protest, and was first recognized by Caraffa's successor, Pius IV.
Charles had not deferred his retirement till the end of these disputes. He occupied a private house in Brussels, near the gate of Louvain, until August of the year 1556. On the 27th of that month, he addressed a letter from Ghent to John of Osnabruck, president of the Chamber of Spiers, stating his abdication in favor of Ferdinand, and requesting that in the interim the same obedience might be rendered to Ferdinand, as could have been yielded to himself. Ten days later; he addressed a letter to the estates of the Empire, stating the same fact; and on the 17th September, 1556, he set sail from Zeland for Spain. These delays and difficulties occasioned some misconceptions. Many persons who did not admire an abdication, which others, on the contrary, esteemed as an act of unexampled magnanimity, stoutly denied that it was the intention of Charles to renounce the Empire. The Venetian envoy informed his government that Ferdinand was only to be lieutenant for Charles, under strict limitations, and that the Emperor was to resume the government so soon as his health would allow. The Bishop of Arras and Don Juan de Manrique had both assured him, he said, that Charles would not, on any account, definitely abdicate. Manrique even asserted that it was a mere farce to believe in any such intention. The Emperor ought to remain to protect his son, by the resources of the Empire, against France, the Turks, and the heretics. His very shadow was terrible to the Lutherans, and his form might be expected to rise again in stern reality from its temporary grave. Time has shown the falsity of all these imaginings, but views thus maintained by those in the best condition to know the truth, prove how difficult it was for men to believe in a transaction which was then so extraordinary, and how little consonant it was in their eyes with true propriety. It was necessary to ascend to the times of Diocletian, to find an example of a similar abdication of empire, on so deliberate and extensive a scale, and the great English historian of the Roman Empire has compared the two acts with each other. But there seems a vast difference between the cases. Both emperors were distinguished soldiers; both were merciless persecutors of defenceless Christians; both exchanged unbounded empire for absolute seclusion. But Diocletian was born in the lowest abyss of human degradation—the slave and the son of a slave. For such a man, after having reached the highest pinnacle of human greatness, voluntarily to descend from power, seems an act of far greater magnanimity than the retreat of Charles. Born in the purple, having exercised unlimited authority from his boyhood, and having worn from his cradle so many crowns and coronets, the German Emperor might well be supposed to have learned to estimate them at their proper value. Contemporary minds were busy, however, to discover the hidden motives which could have influenced him, and the world, even yet, has hardly ceased to wonder. Yet it would have been more wonderful, considering the Emperor's character, had he remained. The end had not crowned the work; it not unreasonably discrowned the workman. The earlier, and indeed the greater part of his career had been one unbroken procession of triumphs. The cherished dream of his grandfather, and of his own youth, to add the Pope's triple crown to the rest of the hereditary possessions of his family, he had indeed been obliged to resign. He had too much practical Flemish sense to indulge long in chimeras, but he had achieved the Empire over formidable rivals, and he had successively not only conquered, but captured almost every potentate who had arrayed himself in arms against him. Clement and Francis, the Dukes and Landgraves of, Clever, Hesse, Saxony, and Brunswick, he had bound to his chariot wheels; forcing many to eat the bread of humiliation and captivity, during long and weary years. But the concluding portion of his reign had reversed all its previous glories. His whole career had been a failure. He had been defeated, after all, in most of his projects. He had humbled Francis, but Henry had most signally avenged his father. He had trampled upon Philip of Hesse and Frederic of Saxony, but it had been reserved for one of that German race, which he characterized as "dreamy, drunken, and incapable of intrigue," to outwit the man who had outwitted all the world, and to drive before him, in ignominious flight, the conqueror of the nations. The German lad who had learned both war and dissimulation in the court and camp of him who was so profound a master of both arts, was destined to eclipse his teacher on the most august theatre of Christendom. Absorbed at Innspruck with the deliberations of the Trent Council, Charles had not heeded the distant mutterings of the tempest which was gathering around him. While he was preparing to crush, forever, the Protestant Church, with the arms which a bench of bishops were forging, lo! the rapid and desperate Maurice, with long red beard streaming like a meteor in the wind, dashing through the mountain passes, at the head of his lancers—arguments more convincing than all the dogmas of Granvelle! Disguised as an old woman, the Emperor had attempted on the 6th April, to escape in a peasant's wagon, from Innspruck into Flanders. Saved for the time by the mediation of Ferdinand, he had, a few weeks later, after his troops had been defeated by Maurice, at Fussen, again fled at midnight of the 22nd May, almost unattended, sick in body and soul, in the midst of thunder, lightning, and rain, along the difficult Alpine passes from Innspruck into Carinthia. His pupil had permitted his escape, only because in his own language, "for such a bird he had no convenient cage." The imprisoned princes now owed their liberation, not to the Emperor's clemency, but to his panic. The peace of Passau, in the following August, crushed the whole fabric of the Emperor's toil, and laid-the foundation of the Protestant Church. He had smitten the Protestants at Muhlberg for the last time. On the other hand, the man who had dealt with Rome, as if the Pope, not he, had been the vassal, was compelled to witness, before he departed, the insolence of a pontiff who took a special pride in insulting and humbling his house, and trampling upon the pride of Charles, Philip and Ferdinand. In France too, the disastrous siege of Metz had taught him that in the imperial zodiac the fatal sign of Cancer had been reached. The figure of a crab, with the words "plus citra," instead of his proud motto of "plus ultra," scrawled on the walls where he had resided during that dismal epoch, avenged more deeply, perhaps, than the jester thought, the previous misfortunes of France. The Grand Turk, too, Solyman the Magnificent, possessed most of Hungary, and held at that moment a fleet ready to sail against Naples, in co-operation with the Pope and France. Thus the Infidel, the Protestant, and the Holy Church were all combined together to crush him. Towards all the great powers of the earth, he stood not in the attitude of a conqueror, but of a disappointed, baffled, defeated potentate. Moreover, he had been foiled long before in his earnest attempts to secure the imperial throne for Philip. Ferdinand and Maximilian had both stoutly resisted his arguments and his blandishments. The father had represented the slender patrimony of their branch of the family, compared with the enormous heritage of Philip; who, being after all, but a man, and endowed with finite powers, might sink under so great a pressure of empire as his father wished to provide for him. Maximilian, also, assured his uncle that he had as good an appetite for the crown as Philip, and could digest the dignity quite as easily. The son, too, for whom the Emperor was thus solicitous, had already, before the abdication, repaid his affection with ingratitude. He had turned out all his father's old officials in Milan, and had refused to visit him at Brussels, till assured as to the amount of ceremonial respect which the new-made king was to receive at the hands of his father.
Had the Emperor continued to live and reign, he would have found himself likewise engaged in mortal combat with that great religious movement in the Netherlands, which he would not have been able many years longer to suppress, and which he left as a legacy of blood and fire to his successor. Born in the same year with his century, Charles was a decrepit, exhausted man at fifty-five, while that glorious age, in which humanity was to burst forever the cerements in which it had so long been buried, was but awakening to a consciousness of its strength.
Disappointed in his schemes, broken in his fortunes, with income anticipated, estates mortgaged, all his affairs in confusion; failing in mental powers, and with a constitution hopelessly shattered; it was time for him to retire. He showed his keenness in recognizing the fact that neither his power nor his glory would be increased, should he lag superfluous on the stage where mortification instead of applause was likely to be his portion. His frame was indeed but a wreck. Forty years of unexampled gluttony had done their work. He was a victim to gout, asthma, dyspepsia, gravel. He was crippled in the neck, arms, knees, and hands. He was troubled with chronic cutaneous eruptions. His appetite remained, while his stomach, unable longer to perform the task still imposed upon it, occasioned him constant suffering. Physiologists, who know how important a part this organ plays in the affairs of life, will perhaps see in this physical condition of the Emperor A sufficient explanation, if explanation were required, of his descent from the throne. Moreover, it is well known that the resolution to abdicate before his death had been long a settled scheme with him. It had been formally agreed between himself and the Empress that they should separate at the approach of old age, and pass the remainder of their lives in a convent and a monastery. He had, when comparatively a young man, been struck by the reply made to him by an aged officer, whose reasons he had asked for, earnestly soliciting permission to retire from the imperial service. It was, said the veteran, that he might put a little space of religious contemplation between the active portion of his life and the grave.
A similar determination, deferred from time to time, Charles had now carried into execution. While he still lingered in Brussels, after his abdication, a comet appeared, to warn him to the fulfilment of his purpose. From first to last, comets and other heavenly bodies were much connected with his evolutions and arrangements. There was no mistaking the motives with which this luminary had presented itself. The Emperor knew very well, says a contemporary German chronicler, that it portended pestilence and war, together with the approaching death of mighty princes. "My fates call out," he cried, and forthwith applied himself to hasten the preparations for his departure.
The romantic picture of his philosophical retirement at Juste, painted originally by Sandoval and Siguenza, reproduced by the fascinating pencil of Strada, and imitated in frequent succession by authors of every age and country, is unfortunately but a sketch of fancy. The investigations of modern writers have entirely thrown down the scaffolding on which the airy fabric, so delightful to poets and moralists, reposed. The departing Emperor stands no longer in a transparency robed in shining garments. His transfiguration is at an end. Every action, almost every moment of his retirement, accurately chronicled by those who shared his solitude, have been placed before our eyes, in the most felicitous manner, by able and brilliant writers. The Emperor, shorn of the philosophical robe in which he had been conventionally arrayed for three centuries, shivers now in the cold air of reality.
So far from his having immersed himself in profound and pious contemplation, below the current of the world's events, his thoughts, on the contrary, never were for a moment diverted from the political surface of the times. He read nothing but despatches; he wrote or dictated interminable ones in reply, as dull and prolix as any which ever came from his pen. He manifested a succession of emotions at the course of contemporary affairs, as intense and as varied, as if the world still rested in his palm. He was, in truth, essentially a man of action. He had neither the taste nor talents which make a man great in retirement. Not a lofty thought, not a generous sentiment, not a profound or acute suggestion in his retreat has been recorded from his lips. The epigrams which had been invented for him by fabulists have been all taken away, and nothing has been substituted, save a few dull jests exchanged with stupid friars. So far from having entertained and even expressed that sentiment of religious toleration for which he was said to have been condemned as a heretic by the inquisition, and for which Philip was ridiculously reported to have ordered his father's body to be burned, and his ashes scattered to the winds, he became in retreat the bigot effectually, which during his reign he had only been conventionally. Bitter regrets that he should have kept his word to Luther, as if he had not broken faith enough to reflect upon in his retirement; stern self-reproach for omitting to put to death, while he had him in his power, the man who had caused all the mischief of the age; fierce instructions thundered from his retreat to the inquisitors to hasten the execution of all heretics, including particularly his ancient friends, preachers and almoners, Cazalla and Constantine de Fuente; furious exhortations to Philip—as if Philip needed a prompter in such a work—that he should set himself to "cutting out the root of heresy with rigor and rude chastisement;"—such explosions of savage bigotry as these, alternating with exhibitions of revolting gluttony, with surfeits of sardine omelettes, Estramadura sausages, eel pies, pickled partridges, fat capons, quince syrups, iced beer, and flagons of Rhenish, relieved by copious draughts of senna and rhubarb, to which his horror-stricken doctor doomed him as he ate—compose a spectacle less attractive to the imagination than the ancient portrait of the cloistered Charles. Unfortunately it is the one which was painted from life.
- Four days before the abdication, namely, on the 21st October, Charles had held a council of the Fleece, at which eleven knights had been present. To these personages he had made the first formal commmunication of his intention of conceding all his realms to his son. At the same time he intimated that, being chief of the order of the Golden Fleece, as sovereign of Burgundy and the Netherlands, he wished to divest himself of that dignity in favor of Philip. The king then retired from the council. The knights held a formal discussion upon the subject, concluding by approving unanimously the appointment. Philip then reentered the apartment, and was congratulated upon the new office.
- The historian was present at the ceremony, and gives a very full report of the speeches, all of which he heard. His imagination may have assisted his memory in the task. The other reporters of the councillor's harangue have reduced this pathological flight of rhetoric to a very small compass.