The Rise of the Dutch Republic/Part 2/Chapter 2
Agitation in the Netherlands — The ancient charters resorted to as barriers against the measures of government — "Joyous entrance" of Brabant — Constitution of Holland — Growing unpopularity of Antony Perrenot, Archbishop of Mechlin — Opposition to the new bishoprics, by Orange, Egmont, and other influential nobles — Fury of the people at the continued presence of the foreign soldiery — Orange resigns the command of the legion — The troops recalled — Philip's personal attention to the details of persecution — Perrenot becomes Cardinal de Granvelle — All the power of government in his hands — His increasing unpopularity — Animosity and violence of Egmont towards the Cardinal — Relations between Orange and Granvelle — Ancient friendship gradually changing to enmity — Renewal of the magistracy at Antwerp — Quarrel between the Prince and Cardinal — Joint letter of Orange and Egmont to the King — Answer of the King — Indignation of Philip against Count Horn — Secret correspondence between the King and Cardinal — Remonstrances against the new bishoprics — Philip's private financial statements — Penury of the exchequer in Spain and in the provinces — Plan for debasing the coin — Marriage of William the Silent with the Princess of Lorraine circumvented — Negotiations for his matrimonial alliance with Princess Anna of Saxony — Correspondence between Granvelle and Philip upon the subject — Opposition of Landgrave Philip and of Philip the Second — Character and conduct of Elector Augustus — Mission of Count Schwartzburg — Communications of Orange to the King and to Duchess Margaret — Characteristic letter of Philip — Artful conduct of Granvelle and of the Regent — Visit of Orange to Dresden — Proposed "note" of Elector Augustus — Refusal of the Prince — Protest of the Landgrave against the marriage — Preparations for the wedding at Leipzig — Notarial instrument drawn up on the marriage day — Wedding ceremonies and festivities — Entrance of Granvelle into Mechlin as Archbishop — Compromise in Brabant between the abbeys and bishops.
The years 1560 and 1561 were mainly occupied with the agitation and dismay produced by the causes set forth in the preceding chapter.
Against the arbitrary policy embodied in the edicts, the new bishoprics and the foreign soldiery, the Netherlanders appealed to their ancient constitutions. These charters were called "handvests" in the vernacular Dutch and Flemish, because the sovereign made them fast with his hand. As already stated, Philip had made them faster than any of the princes of his house had ever done, so far as oath and signature could accomplish that purpose, both as hereditary prince in 1549, and as monarch in 1555. The reasons for the extensive and unconditional manner in which he swore to support the provincial charters, have been already indicated.
Of these constitutions, that of Brabant, known by the title of the 'joyeuse entree, blyde inkomst', or blithe entrance, furnished the most decisive barrier against the present wholesale tyranny. First and foremost, the "joyous entry" provided "that the prince of the land should not elevate the clerical state higher than of old has been customary and by former princes settled; unless by consent of the other two estates, the nobility and the cities."
Again; "the prince can prosecute no one of his subjects nor any foreign resident, civilly or criminally, except in the ordinary and open courts of justice in the province, where the accused may answer and defend himself with the help of advocates."
Further; "the prince shall appoint no foreigners to office in Brabant."
Lastly; "should the prince, by force or otherwise, violate any of these privileges, the inhabitants of Brabant, after regular protest entered, are discharged of their oaths of allegiance, and as free, independent and unbound people, may conduct themselves exactly as seems to them best."
Such were the leading features, so far as they regarded the points now at issue, of that famous constitution which was so highly esteemed in the Netherlands, that mothers came to the province in order to give birth to their children, who might thus enjoy, as a birthright, the privileges of Brabant. Yet the charters of the other provinces ought to have been as effective against the arbitrary course of the government. "No foreigner," said the constitution of Holland, "is eligible as, councillor, financier, magistrate, or member of a court. Justice can be administered only by the ordinary tribunals and magistrates. The ancient laws and customs shall remain inviolable. Should the prince infringe any of these provisions, no one is bound to obey him."
These provisions, from the Brabant and Holland charters, are only cited as illustrative of the general spirit of the provincial constitutions. Nearly all the provinces possessed privileges equally ample, duly signed and sealed. So far as ink and sealing wax could defend a land against sword and fire, the Netherlands were impregnable against the edicts and the renewed episcopal inquisition. Unfortunately, all history shows how feeble are barriers of paper or lambskin, even when hallowed with a monarch's oath, against the torrent of regal and ecclesiastical absolutism. It was on the reception in the provinces of the new and confirmatory Bull concerning the bishoprics, issued in January, 1560, that the measure became known, and the dissatisfaction manifest. The discontent was inevitable and universal. The ecclesiastical establishment which was not to be enlarged or elevated but by consent of the estates, was suddenly expanded into three archiepiscopates and fifteen bishoprics. The administration of justice, which was only allowed in free and local courts, distinct for each province, was to be placed, so far as regarded the most important of human interests, in the hands of bishops and their creatures, many of them foreigners and most of them monks. The lives and property of the whole population were to be at the mercy of these utterly irresponsible conclaves. All classes were outraged. The nobles were offended because ecclesiastics, perhaps foreign ecclesiastics, were to be empowered to sit in the provincial estates and to control their proceedings in place of easy, indolent, ignorant abbots and friars, who had generally accepted the influence of the great seignors. The priests were enraged because the religious houses were thus taken out of their control and confiscated to a bench of bishops, usurping the places of those superiors who had formally been elected by and among themselves. The people were alarmed because the monasteries, although not respected nor popular, were at least charitable and without ambition to exercise ecclesiastical cruelty; while, on the other hand, by the new episcopal arrangements, a force of thirty new inquisitors was added to the apparatus for enforcing orthodoxy already established. The odium of the measure was placed upon the head of that churchman, already appointed Archbishop of Mechlin, and soon to be known as Cardinal Granvelle. From this time forth, this prelate began to be regarded with a daily increasing aversion. He was looked upon as the incarnation of all the odious measures which had been devised; as the source of that policy of absolutism which revealed itself more and more rapidly after the King's departure from the country. It was for this reason that so much stress was laid by popular clamor upon the clause prohibiting foreigners from office. Granvelle was a Burgundian; his father had passed most of his active life in Spain, while both he and his more distinguished son were identified in the general mind with Spanish politics. To this prelate, then, were ascribed the edicts, the new bishoprics, and the continued presence of the foreign troops. The people were right as regarded the first accusation. They were mistaken as to the other charges.
The King had not consulted Anthony Perrenot with regard to the creation of the new bishoprics. The measure, which had been successively contemplated by Philip "the Good," by Charles the Bold, and by the Emperor Charles, had now been carried out by Philip the Second, without the knowledge of the new Archbishop of Mechlin. The King had for once been able to deceive the astuteness of the prelate, and had concealed from him the intended arrangement, until the arrival of Sonnius with the Bulls. Granvelle gave the reasons for this mystery with much simplicity. "His Majesty knew," he said, "that I should oppose it, as it was more honorable and lucrative to be one of four than one of eighteen." In fact, according to his own statement, he lost money by becoming archbishop of Mechlin, and ceasing to be Bishop of Arras. For these reasons he declined, more than once, the proffered dignity, and at last only accepted it from fear of giving offence to the King, and after having secured compensation for his alleged losses. In the same letter (of 29th May, 1560) in which he thanked Philip for conferring upon him the rich abbey of Saint Armand, which he had solicited, in addition to the "merced" in ready money, concerning the safe investment of which he had already sent directions, he observed that he was now willing to accept the archbishopric of Mechlin; notwithstanding the odium attached to the measure, notwithstanding his feeble powers, and notwithstanding that, during the life of the Bishop of Tournay, who was then in rude health, he could only receive three thousand ducats of the revenue, giving up Arras and gaining nothing in Mechlin; notwithstanding all this, and a thousand other things besides, he assured his Majesty that, "since the royal desire was so strong that he should accept, he would consider nothing so difficult that he would not at least attempt it." Having made up his mind to take the see and support the new arrangements, he was resolved that his profits should be as large as possible. We have seen how he had already been enabled to indemnify himself. We shall find him soon afterwards importuning the King for the Abbey of Afflighem, the enormous revenue of which the prelate thought would make another handsome addition to the rewards of his sacrifices. At the same time, he was most anxious that the people, and particularly the great nobles, should not ascribe the new establishment to him, as they persisted in doing. "They say that the episcopates were devised to gratify my ambition," he wrote to Philip two years later; "whereas your Majesty knows how steadily I refused the see of Mechlin, and that I only accepted it in order not to live in idleness, doing nothing for God and your Majesty." He therefore instructed Philip, on several occasions, to make it known to the government of the Regent, to the seignors, and to the country generally, that the measure had been arranged without his knowledge; that the Marquis Berghen had known of it first, and that the prelate had, in truth, been kept in the dark on the subject until the arrival of Sonnius with the Bulls. The King, always docile to his minister, accordingly wrote to the Duchess the statements required, in almost the exact phraseology suggested; taking pains to repeat the declarations on several occasions, both by letter and by word of mouth, to many influential persons.
The people, however, persisted in identifying the Bishop with the scheme. They saw that he was the head of the new institutions; that he was to receive the lion's share of the confiscated abbeys, and that he was foremost in defending and carrying through the measure, in spite of all opposition. That opposition waxed daily more bitter, till the Cardinal, notwithstanding that he characterised the arrangement to the King as "a holy work," and warmly assured Secretary Perez that he would contribute his fortune, his blood, and his life, to its success, was yet obliged to exclaim in the bitterness of his spirit, "Would to God that the erection of these new sees had never been thought of. Amen! Amen!"
Foremost in resistance was the Prince of Orange. Although a Catholic, he had no relish for the horrible persecution which had been determined upon. The new bishoprics he characterized afterwards as parts "of one grand scheme for establishing the cruel inquisition of Spain; the said bishops to serve as inquisitors, burners of bodies; and tyrants of conscience: two prebendaries in each see being actually constituted inquisitors." For this reason he omitted no remonstrance on the subject to the Duchess, to Granvelle, and by direct letters to the King. His efforts were seconded by Egmont, Berghen, and other influential nobles. Even Berlaymont was at first disposed to side with the opposition, but upon the argument used by the Duchess, that the bishoprics and prebends would furnish excellent places for his sons and other members of the aristocracy, he began warmly to support the measure. Most of the labor, however, and all the odium, of the business fell upon the Bishop's shoulders. There was still a large fund of loyalty left in the popular mind, which not even forty years of the Emperor's dominion had consumed, and which Philip was destined to draw upon as prodigally as if the treasure had been inexhaustible. For these reasons it still seemed most decorous to load all the hatred upon the minister's back, and to retain the consolatory formula, that Philip was a prince, "clement, benign, and debonair."
The Bishop, true to his habitual conviction, that words, with the people, are much more important than things, was disposed to have the word "inquisitor" taken out of the text of the new decree. He was anxious at this juncture to make things pleasant, and he saw no reason why men should be unnecessarily startled. If the inquisition could be practised, and the heretics burned, he was in favor of its being done comfortably. The word "inquisitor" was unpopular, almost indecent. It was better to suppress the term and retain the thing. "People are afraid to speak of the new bishoprics," he wrote to Perez, "on account of the clause providing that of nine canons one shall be inquisitor. Hence people fear the Spanish inquisition."—He, therefore, had written to the King to suggest instead, that the canons or graduates should be obliged to assist the Bishop, according as he might command. Those terms would suffice, because, although not expressly stated, it was clear that the Bishop was an ordinary inquisitor; but it was necessary to expunge words that gave offence.
It was difficult, however, with all the Bishop's eloquence and dexterity, to construct an agreeable inquisition. The people did not like it, in any shape, and there were indications, not to be mistaken, that one day there would be a storm which it would be beyond human power to assuage. At present the people directed their indignation only upon a part of the machinery devised for their oppression. The Spanish troops were considered as a portion of the apparatus by which the new bishoprics and the edicts were to be forced into execution. Moreover, men were, weary of the insolence and the pillage which these mercenaries had so long exercised in the land. When the King had been first requested to withdraw them, we have seen that he had burst into a violent passion. He had afterward dissembled. Promising, at last, that they should all be sent from the country within three or four months after his departure, he had determined to use every artifice to detain them in the provinces. He had succeeded, by various subterfuges, in keeping them there fourteen months; but it was at last evident that their presence would no longer be tolerated. Towards the close of 1560 they were quartered in Walcheren and Brill. The Zelanders, however, had become so exasperated by their presence that they resolutely refused to lay a single hand upon the dykes, which, as usual at that season, required great repairs. Rather than see their native soil profaned any longer by these hated foreign mercenaries, they would see it sunk forever in the ocean. They swore to perish-men, women, and children together-in the waves, rather than endure longer the outrages which the soldiery daily inflicted. Such was the temper of the Zelanders that it was not thought wise to trifle with their irritation. The Bishop felt that it was no longer practicable to detain the troops, and that all the pretext devised by Philip and his government had become ineffectual. In a session of the State Council, held on the 25th October, 1560, he represented in the strongest terms to the Regent the necessity for the final departure of the troops. Viglius, who knew the character of his countrymen, strenuously seconded the proposal. Orange briefly but firmly expressed the same opinion, declining any longer to serve as commander of the legion, an office which, in conjunction with Egmont, he had accepted provisionally, with the best of motives, and on the pledge of Philip that the soldiers should be withdrawn. The Duchess urged that the order should at least be deferred until the arrival of Count Egmont, then in Spain, but the proposition was unanimously negatived.
Letters were accordingly written, in the name of the Regent, to the King. It was stated that the measure could no longer be delayed, that the provinces all agreed in this point, that so long as the foreigners remained not a stiver should be paid into the treasury; that if they had once set sail, the necessary amount for their arrears would be furnished to the government; but that if they should return it was probable that they would be resisted by the inhabitants with main force, and that they would only be allowed to enter the cities through a breach in their wall. It was urged, moreover, that three or four thousand Spaniards would not be sufficient to coerce all the provinces, and that there was not money enough in the royal exchequer to pay the wages of a single company of the troops. "It cuts me to the heart," wrote the Bishop to Philip, "to see the Spanish infantry leave us; but go they must. Would to God that we could devise any pretext, as your Majesty desires, under which to keep them here! We have tried all means humanly possible for retaining them, but I see no way to do it without putting the provinces in manifest danger of sudden revolt."
Fortunately for the dignity of the government, or for the repose of the country, a respectable motive was found for employing the legion elsewhere. The important loss which Spain had recently met with in the capture of Zerby made a reinforcement necessary in the army engaged in the Southern service. Thus, the disaster in Barbary at last relieved the Netherlands of the pest which had afflicted them so long. For a brief breathing space the country was cleared of foreign mercenaries.
The growing unpopularity of the royal government, still typified, however, in the increasing hatred entertained for the Bishop, was not materially diminished by the departure of the Spaniards. The edicts and the bishoprics were still there, even if the soldiers were gone. The churchman worked faithfully to accomplish his master's business. Philip, on his side, was industrious to bring about the consummation of his measures. Ever occupied with details, the monarch, from his palace in Spain, sent frequent informations against the humblest individuals in the Netherlands. It is curious to observe the minute reticulations of tyranny which he had begun already to spin about a whole, people, while cold, venomous, and patient he watched his victims from the centre of his web. He forwarded particular details to the Duchess and Cardinal concerning a variety of men and women, sending their names, ages, personal appearance, occupations, and residence, together with directions for their immediate immolation. Even the inquisitors of Seville were set to work to increase, by means of their branches or agencies in the provinces, the royal information on this all-important subject. "There are but few of us left in the world," he moralized in a letter to the Bishop, "who care for religion. 'Tis necessary, therefore, for us to take the greater heed for Christianity. We must lose our all, if need be, in order to do our duty; in fine," added he, with his usual tautology, "it is right that a man should do his duty."
Granvelle—as he must now be called, for his elevation to the cardinalship will be immediately alluded to—wrote to assure the King that every pains would be taken to ferret out and execute the individuals complained of. He bewailed, however, the want of heartiness on the part of the Netherland inquisitors and judges. "I find," said he, "that all judicial officers go into the matter of executing the edicts with reluctance, which I believe is caused by their fear of displeasing the populace. When they do act they do it but languidly, and when these matters are not taken in hand with the necessary liveliness, the fruit desired is not gathered. We do not fail to exhort and to command them to do their work." He added that Viglius and Berlaymont displayed laudable zeal, but that he could not say as much for the Council of Brabant. Those councillors "were forever prating," said he, "of the constitutional rights of their province, and deserved much less commendation."
The popularity of the churchman, not increased by these desperate exertions to force an inhuman policy upon an unfortunate nation, received likewise no addition from his new elevation in rank. During the latter part of the year 1560, Margaret of Parma, who still entertained a profound admiration of the prelate, and had not yet begun to chafe under his smooth but imperious dominion, had been busy in preparing for him a delightful surprise. Without either his knowledge or that of the King, she had corresponded with the Pope, and succeeded in obtaining, as a personal favor to herself, the Cardinal's hat for Anthony Perrenot. In February, 1561, Cardinal Borromeo wrote to announce that the coveted dignity had been bestowed. The Duchess hastened, with joyous alacrity, to communicate the intelligence to the Bishop, but was extremely hurt to find that he steadily refused to assume his new dignity, until he had written to the King to announce the appointment, and to ask his permission to accept the honor. The Duchess, justly wounded at his refusal to accept from her hands the favor which she, and she only, had obtained for him, endeavored in vain to overcome his pertinacity. She represented that although Philip was not aware of the application or the appointment, he was certain to regard it as an agreeable surprise. She urged, moreover, that his temporary refusal would be misconstrued at Rome, where it would certainly excite ridicule, and very possibly give offence in the highest quarter. The Bishop was inexorable. He feared, says his panegyrist, that he might one day be on worse terms than at present with the Duchess, and that then she might reproach him with her former benefits. He feared also that the King might, in consequence of the step, not look with satisfaction upon him at some future period, when he might stand in need of his favors. He wrote, accordingly, a most characteristic letter to Philip, in which he informed him that he had been honored with the Cardinal's hat. He observed that many persons were already congratulating him, but that before he made any demonstration of accepting or refusing, he waited for his Majesty's orders: upon his will he wished ever to depend. He also had the coolness, under the circumstances, to express his conviction that "it was his Majesty who had secretly procured this favor from his Holiness."
The King received the information very graciously, observing in reply, that although he had never made any suggestion of the kind, he had "often thought upon the subject." The royal command was of course at once transmitted, that the dignity should be accepted. By special favor, moreover, the Pope dispensed the new Cardinal from the duty of going to Rome in person, and despatched his chamberlain, Theophilus Friso, to Brussels, with the red hat and tabbard.
The prelate, having thus reached the dignity to which he had long aspired, did not grow more humble in his deportment, or less zealous in the work through which he had already gained so much wealth and preferment. His conduct with regard to the edicts and bishoprics had already brought him into relations which were far from amicable with his colleagues in the council. More and more he began to take the control of affairs into his own hand. The consulta, or secret committee of the state council, constituted the real government of the country. Here the most important affairs were decided upon without the concurrence of the other seignors, Orange, Egmont, and Glayon, who, at the same time, were held responsible for the action of government. The Cardinal was smooth in manner, plausible of speech, generally even-tempered, but he was overbearing and blandly insolent. Accustomed to control royal personages, under the garb of extreme obsequiousness, he began, in his intercourse with those of less exalted rank, to omit a portion of the subserviency while claiming a still more undisguised authority. To nobles like Egmont and Orange, who looked down upon the son of Nicolas Perrenot and Nicola Bonvalot as a person immeasurably beneath themselves in the social hierarchy, this conduct was sufficiently irritating. The Cardinal, placed as far above Philip, and even Margaret, in mental power as he was beneath them in worldly station, found it comparatively easy to deal with them amicably. With such a man as Egmont, it was impossible for the churchman to maintain friendly relations. The Count, who notwithstanding his romantic appearance, his brilliant exploits, and his interesting destiny, was but a commonplace character, soon conceived a mortal aversion to Granvelle. A rude soldier, entertaining no respect for science or letters, ignorant and overbearing, he was not the man to submit to the airs of superiority which pierced daily more and more decidedly through the conventional exterior of the Cardinal. Granvelle, on the other hand, entertained a gentle contempt for Egmont, which manifested itself in all his private letters to the King, and was sufficiently obvious in his deportment. There had also been distinct causes of animosity between them. The governorship of Hesdin having become vacant, Egmont, backed by Orange and other nobles, had demanded it for the Count de Roeulx, a gentleman of the Croy family, who, as well as his father, had rendered many important services to the crown. The appointment was, however, bestowed, through Granvelle's influence, upon the Seigneur d'Helfault, a gentleman of mediocre station and character, who was thought to possess no claims whatever to the office. Egmont, moreover, desired the abbey of Trulle for a poor relation of his own; but the Cardinal, to whom nothing in this way ever came amiss, had already obtained the King's permission to, appropriate the abbey to himself Egmont was now furious against the prelate, and omitted no opportunity of expressing his aversion, both in his presence and behind his back. On one occasion, at least, his wrath exploded in something more than words. Exasperated by Granvelle's polished insolence in reply to his own violent language, he drew his dagger upon him in the presence of the Regent herself, "and," says a contemporary, "would certainly have sent the Cardinal into the next world had he not been forcibly restrained by the Prince of Orange and other persons present, who warmly represented to him that such griefs were to be settled by deliberate advice, not by choler." At the same time, while scenes like these were occurring in the very bosom of the state council, Granvelle, in his confidential letters to secretary Perez, asserted warmly that all reports of a want of harmony between himself and the other seignors and councillors were false, and that the best relations existed among them all. It was not his intention, before it should be necessary, to let the King doubt his ability to govern the counsel according to the secret commission with which he had been invested.
His relations with Orange were longer in changing from friendship to open hostility. In the Prince the Cardinal met his match. He found himself confronted by an intellect as subtle, an experience as fertile in expedients, a temper as even, and a disposition sometimes as haughty as his own. He never affected to undervalue the mind of Orange. "'Tis a man of profound genius, vast ambition—dangerous, acute, politic," he wrote to the King at a very early period. The original relations between himself and the Prince bad been very amicable. It hardly needed the prelate's great penetration to be aware that the friendship of so exalted a personage as the youthful heir to the principality of Orange, and to the vast possessions of the Chalons-Nassau house in Burgundy and the Netherlands, would be advantageous to the ambitious son of the Burgundian Councillor Granvelle. The young man was the favorite of the Emperor from boyhood; his high rank, and his remarkable talents marked him indisputably for one of the foremost men of the coming reign. Therefore it was politic in Perrenot to seize every opportunity of making himself useful to the Prince. He busied himself with securing, so far as it might be necessary to secure, the succession of William to his cousin's principality. It seems somewhat ludicrous for a merit to be made not only for Granvelle but for the Emperor, that the Prince should have been allowed to take an inheritance which the will of Rene de Nassau most unequivocally conferred, and which no living creature disputed. Yet, because some of the crown lawyers had propounded the dogma that "the son Of a heretic ought not to succeed," it was gravely stated as an immense act of clemency upon the part of Charles the Fifth that he had not confiscated the whole of the young Prince's heritage. In return Granvelle's brother Jerome had obtained the governorship of the youth, upon whose majority he had received an honorable military appointment from his attached pupil. The prelate had afterwards recommended the marriage with the Count de Buren's heiress, and had used his influence with the Emperor to overcome certain objections entertained by Charles, that the Prince, by this great accession of wealth, might be growing too powerful. On the other hand, there were always many poor relations and dependents of Granvelle, eager to be benefitted by Orange's patronage, who lived in the Prince's household, or received handsome appointments from his generosity. Thus, there had been great intimacy, founded upon various benefits mutually conferred; for it could hardly be asserted that the debt of friendship was wholly upon one side.
When Orange arrived in Brussels from a journey, he would go to the bishop's before alighting at his own house. When the churchman visited the Prince, he entered his bed-chamber without ceremony before he had risen; for it was William's custom, through life, to receive intimate acquaintances, and even to attend to important negotiations of state, while still in bed.
The show of this intimacy had lasted longer than its substance. Granvelle was the most politic of men, and the Prince had not served his apprenticeship at the court of Charles the Fifth to lay himself bare prematurely to the criticism or the animosity of the Cardinal with the recklessness of Horn and Egmont. An explosion came at last, however, and very soon after an exceedingly amicable correspondence between the two upon the subject of an edict of religious amnesty which Orange was preparing for his principality, and which Granvelle had recommended him not to make too lenient. A few weeks after this, the Antwerp magistracy was to be renewed. The Prince, as hereditary burgrave of that city, was entitled to a large share of the appointing power in these political arrangements, which at the moment were of great importance. The citizens of Antwerp were in a state of excitement on the subject of the new bishops. They openly, and in the event, successfully resisted the installation of the new prelate for whom their city had been constituted a diocese. The Prince was known to be opposed to the measure, and to the whole system of ecclesiastical persecution. When the nominations for the new magistracy came before the Regent, she disposed of the whole matter in the secret consulta, without the knowledge, and in a manner opposed to the views of Orange. He was then furnished with a list of the new magistrates, and was informed that he had been selected as commissioner along with Count Aremberg, to see that the appointments were carried into effect. The indignation of the Prince was extreme. He had already taken offence at some insolent expressions upon this topic, which the Cardinal had permitted himself. He now sent back the commission to the Duchess, adding, it was said, that he was not her lackey, and that she might send some one else with her errands. The words were repeated in the state council. There was a violent altercation—Orange vehemently resenting his appointment merely to carry out decisions in which he claimed an original voice. His ancestors, he said, had often changed the whole of the Antwerp magistracy by their own authority. It was a little too much that this matter, as well as every other state affair, should be controlled by the secret committee of which the Cardinal was the chief. Granvelle, on his side, was also in a rage. He flung from the council-chamber, summoned the Chancellor of Brabant, and demanded, amid bitter execrations against Orange, what common and obscure gentleman there might be, whom he could appoint to execute the commission thus refused by the Prince and by Aremberg. He vowed that in all important matters he would, on future occasions, make use of nobles less inflated by pride, and more tractable than such grand seignors. The chancellor tried in vain to appease the churchman's wrath, representing that the city of Antwerp would be highly offended at the turn things were taking, and offering his services to induce the withdrawal, on the part of the Prince, of the language which had given so much offence. The Cardinal was inexorable and peremptory. "I will have nothing to do with the Prince, Master Chancellor," said he, "and these are matters which concern you not." Thus the conversation ended, and thus began the open state of hostilities between the great nobles and the Cardinal, which had been brooding so long.
On the 23rd July, 1561, a few weeks after the scenes lately described, the Count of Egmont and the Prince of Orange addressed a joint letter to the King. They reminded him in this despatch that, they had originally been reluctant to take office in the state council, on account of their previous experience of the manner in which business had been conducted during the administration of the Duke of Savoy. They had feared that important matters of state might be transacted without their concurrence. The King had, however, assured them, when in Zeland, that all affairs would be uniformly treated in full council. If the contrary should ever prove the case, he had desired them to give him information to that effect, that he might instantly apply the remedy. They accordingly now gave him that information. They were consulted upon small matters: momentous affairs were decided upon in their absence. Still they would not even now have complained had not Cardinal Granvelle declared that all the members of the state council were to be held responsible for its measures, whether they were present at its decisions or not. Not liking such responsibility, they requested the King either to accept their resignation or to give orders that all affairs should be communicated to the whole board and deliberated upon by all the councillors.
In a private letter, written some weeks later (August 15), Egmont begged secretary Erasso to assure the King that their joint letter had not been dictated by passion, but by zeal for his service. It was impossible, he said, to imagine the insolence of the Cardinal, nor to form an idea of the absolute authority which he arrogated.
In truth, Granvelle, with all his keenness, could not see that Orange, Egmont, Berghen, Montigny and the rest, were no longer pages and young captains of cavalry, while he was the politician and the statesman. By six or seven years the senior of Egmont, and by sixteen years of Orange, he did not divest himself of the superciliousness of superior wisdom, not unjust nor so irritating when they had all been boys. In his deportment towards them, and in the whole tone of his private correspondence with Philip, there was revealed, almost in spite of himself, an affectation of authority, against which Egmont rebelled and which the Prince was not the man to acknowledge. Philip answered the letter of the two nobles in his usual procrastinating manner. The Count of Horn, who was about leaving Spain (whither he had accompanied the King) for the Netherlands, would be entrusted with the resolution which he should think proper to take upon the subject suggested. In the mean time, he assured them that he did not doubt their zeal in his service.
As to Count Horn, Granvelle had already prejudiced the King against him. Horn and the Cardinal had never been friends. A brother of the prelate had been an aspirant for the hand of the Admiral's sister, and had been somewhat contemptuously rejected. Horn, a bold, vehement, and not very good-tempered personage, had long kept no terms with Granvelle, and did not pretend a friendship which he had never felt. Granvelle had just written to instruct the King that Horn was opposed bitterly to that measure which was nearest the King's heart—the new bishoprics. He had been using strong language, according to the Cardinal, in opposition to the scheme, while still in Spain. He therefore advised that his Majesty, concealing, of course, the source of the information, and speaking as it were out of the royal mind itself, should expostulate with the Admiral upon the subject. Thus prompted, Philip was in no gracious humor when he received Count Horn, then about to leave Madrid for the Netherlands, and to take with him the King's promised answer to the communication of Orange and Egmont. His Majesty had rarely been known to exhibit so much anger towards any person as he manifested upon that occasion. After a few words from the Admiral, in which he expressed his sympathy with the other Netherland nobles, and his aversion to Granvelle, in general terms, and in reply to Philip's interrogatories, the King fiercely interrupted him: "What! miserable man!" he vociferated, "you all complain of this Cardinal, and always in vague language. Not one of you, in spite of all my questions, can give me a single reason for your dissatisfaction." With this the royal wrath boiled over in such unequivocal terms that the Admiral changed color, and was so confused with indignation and astonishment, that he was scarcely able to find his way out of the room.
This was the commencement of Granvelle's long mortal combat with Egmont, Horn, and Orange. This was the first answer which the seignors were to receive to their remonstrances against the churchman's arrogance. Philip was enraged that any opposition should be made to his coercive measures, particularly to the new bishoprics, the "holy work" which the Cardinal was ready, to "consecrate his fortune and his blood" to advance. Granvelle fed his master's anger by constant communications as to the efforts made by distinguished individuals to delay the execution of the scheme. Assonville had informed him, he wrote, that much complaint had been made on the subject by several gentlemen, at a supper of Count Egmont's. It was said that the King ought to have consulted them all, and the state councillors especially. The present nominees to the new episcopates were good enough, but it would be found, they said, that very improper personages would be afterwards appointed. The estates ought not to permit the execution of the scheme. In short, continued Granvelle, "there is the same kind of talk which brought about the recall of the Spanish troops." A few months later, he wrote to inform Philip that a petition against the new bishoprics was about to be drawn up by "the two lords.". They had two motives; according to the Cardinal, for this step—first, to let the King know that he could do nothing without their permission; secondly, because in the states' assembly they were then the cocks of the walk. They did not choose, therefore, that in the clerical branch of the estates any body should be above the abbots, whom they could frighten into doing whatever they chose. At the end, of the year, Granvelle again wrote to instruct his sovereign how to reply to the letter which was about to be addressed to him by the Prince of Orange and the Marquis Berghen on the subject of the bishoprics. They would tell him, he said, that the incorporation of the Brabant abbeys into the new bishoprics was contrary to the constitution of the "joyful entrance." Philip was, however, to make answer that he had consulted the universities, and those learned in the laws, and had satisfied himself that it was entirely constitutional. He was therefore advised to send his command that the Prince and Marquis should use all their influence to promote the success of the measure. Thus fortified, the King was enabled not only to deal with the petition of the nobles, but also with the deputies from the estates of Brabant, who arrived about this time at Madrid. To these envoys, who asked for the appointment of royal commissioners, with whom they might treat on the subject of the bishoprics, the abbeys, and the "joyful entrance," the King answered proudly, "that in matters which concerned the service of God, he was his own commissioner." He afterwards, accordingly, recited to them, with great accuracy, the lesson which he had privately received from the ubiquitous Cardinal. Philip was determined that no remonstrance from great nobles or from private citizens should interfere with the thorough execution of the grand scheme on which he was resolved, and of which the new bishoprics formed an important part. Opposition irritated him more and more, till his hatred of the opponents became deadly; but it, at the same time, confirmed him in his purpose. "'Tis no time to temporize," he wrote to Granvelle; "we must inflict chastisement with full rigor and severity. These rascals can only be made to do right through fear, and not always even by that means."
At the same time, the royal finances did not admit of any very active measures, at the moment, to enforce obedience to a policy which was already so bitterly opposed. A rough estimate, made in the King's own handwriting, of the resources and obligations of his exchequer, a kind of balance sheet for the years 1560 and 1561, drawn up much in the same manner as that in which a simple individual would make a note of his income and expenditure, gave but a dismal picture of his pecuniary, condition. It served to show how intelligent a financier is despotism, and how little available are the resources of a mighty empire when regarded merely as private property, particularly when the owner chances to have the vanity of attending to all details himself: "Twenty millions of ducats," began the memorandum, "will be required to disengage my revenues. But of this," added the King, with whimsical pathos for an account-book, "we will not speak at present, as the matter is so entirely impossible." He then proceeded to enter the various items of expense which were to be met during the two years; such as so many millions due to the Fuggers (the Rothschilds of the sixteenth century), so many to merchants in Flanders, Seville, and other places, so much for Prince Doria's galleys, so much for three years' pay due to his guards, so much for his household expenditure, so much for the tuition of Don Carlos, and Don Juan d'Austria, so much for salaries of ambassadors and councillors—mixing personal and state expenses, petty items and great loans, in one singular jumble, but arriving at a total demand upon his purse of ten million nine hundred and ninety thousand ducats.
To meet this expenditure he painfully enumerated the funds upon which he could reckon for the two years. His ordinary rents and taxes being all deeply pledged, he could only calculate from that source upon two hundred thousand ducats. The Indian revenue, so called, was nearly spent; still it might yield him four hundred and twenty thousand ducats. The quicksilver mines would produce something, but so little as hardly to require mentioning. As to the other mines, they were equally unworthy of notice, being so very uncertain, and not doing as well as they were wont. The licences accorded by the crown to carry slaves to America were put down at fifty thousand ducats for the two years. The product of the "crozada" and "cuarta," or money paid to him in small sums by individuals, with the permission of his Holiness, for the liberty of abstaining from the Church fasts, was estimated at five hundred thousand ducats. These and a few more meagre items only sufficed to stretch his income to a total of one million three hundred and thirty thousand far the two years, against an expenditure calculated at near eleven millions. "Thus, there are nine millions, less three thousand ducats, deficient," he concluded ruefully (and making a mistake in his figures in his own favor of six hundred and sixty-three thousand besides), "which I may look for in the sky, or try to raise by inventions already exhausted."
Thus, the man who owned all America and half of Europe could only raise a million ducats a year from his estates. The possessor of all Peru and Mexico could reckon on "nothing worth mentioning" from his mines, and derived a precarious income mainly from permissions granted his subjects to carry on the slave-trade and to eat meat on Fridays. This was certainly a gloomy condition of affairs for a monarch on the threshold of a war which was to outlast his own life and that of his children; a war in which the mere army expenses were to be half a million florins monthly, in which about seventy per cent. of the annual disbursements was to be regularly embezzled or appropriated by the hands through which it passed, and in which for every four men on paper, enrolled and paid for, only one, according to the average, was brought into the field.
Granvelle, on the other hand, gave his master but little consolation from the aspect of financial affairs in the provinces. He assured him that "the government was often in such embarrassment as not to know where to look for ten ducats." He complained bitterly that the states would meddle with the administration of money matters, and were slow in the granting of subsidies. The Cardinal felt especially outraged by the interference of these bodies with the disbursement of the sums which they voted. It has been seen that the states had already compelled the government to withdraw the troops, much to the regret of Granvelle. They continued, however, to be intractable on the subject of supplies. "These are very vile things," he wrote to Philip, "this authority which they assume, this audacity with which they say whatever they think proper; and these impudent conditions which they affix to every proposition for subsidies." The Cardinal protested that he had in vain attempted to convince them of their error, but that they remained perverse.
It was probably at this time that the plan for debasing the coin, suggested to Philip some time before by a skilful chemist named Malen, and always much approved of both by himself and Ruy Gomez, recurred to his mind. "Another and an extraordinary source of revenue, although perhaps not a very honorable one," wrote Suriano, "has hitherto been kept secret; and on account of differences of opinion between the King and his confessor, has been discontinued." This source of revenue, it seemed, was found in "a certain powder, of which one ounce mixed with six ounces of quicksilver would make six ounces of silver." The composition was said to stand the test of the hammer, but not of the fire. Partly in consequence of theological scruples and partly on account of opposition from the states, a project formed by the King to pay his army with this kind of silver was reluctantly abandoned. The invention, however, was so very agreeable to the King, and the inventor had received such liberal rewards, that it was supposed, according to the envoy, that in time of scarcity his Majesty would make use of such coin without reluctance.
It is necessary, before concluding this chapter, which relates the events of the years 1560 and 1561, to allude to an important affair which occupied much attention during the whole of this period. This is the celebrated marriage of the Prince of Orange with the Princess Anna of Saxony. By many superficial writers; a moving cause of the great Netherland revolt was found in the connexion of the great chieftain with this distinguished Lutheran house. One must have studied the characters and the times to very little purpose, however, to believe it possible that much influence could be exerted on the mind of William of Orange by such natures as those of Anna of Saxony, or of her uncle the Elector Augustus, surnamed "the Pious."
The Prince had become a widower in 1558, at the age of twenty-five. Granvelle, who was said to have been influential in arranging his first marriage, now proposed to him, after the year of mourning had expired, an alliance with Mademoiselle Renee, daughter of the Duchess de Lorraine, and granddaughter of Christiern the Third of Denmark, and his wife Isabella, sister of the Emperor Charles the Fifth. Such a connexion, not only with the royal house of Spain but with that of France—for, the young Duke of Lorraine, brother of the lady, had espoused the daughter of Henry the considered highly desirable by the Prince. Philip and the Duchess Margaret of Parma both approved, or pretended to approve, the match. At the same time the Dowager Duchess of Lorraine, mother of the intended bride, was a candidate, and a very urgent one, for the Regency of the Netherlands. Being a woman of restless ambition, and intriguing character, she naturally saw in a man of William's station and talents a most desirable ally in her present and future schemes. On the other hand, Philip—who had made open protestation of his desire to connect the Prince thus closely with his own blood, and had warmly recommended the match to the young lady's mother—soon afterwards, while walking one day with the Prince in the park at Brussels, announced to him that the Duchess of Lorraine had declined his proposals. Such a result astonished the Prince, who was on the best of terms with the mother, and had been urging her appointment to the Regency with all his-influence, having entirely withdrawn his own claims to that office. No satisfactory explanation was ever given of this singular conclusion to a courtship, begun with the apparent consent of all parties. It was hinted that the young lady did not fancy the Prince; but, as it was not known that a word had ever been exchanged between them, as the Prince, in appearance and reputation, was one of the most brilliant cavaliers of the age, and as the approval of the bride was not usually a matter of primary consequence in such marriages of state, the mystery seemed to require a further solution. The Prince suspected Granvelle and the King, who were believed to have held mature and secret deliberation together, of insincerity. The Bishop was said to have expressed the opinion, that although the friendship he bore the Prince would induce him to urge the marriage, yet his duty to his master made him think it questionable whether it were right to advance a personage already placed so high by birth, wealth, and popularity, still higher by so near an alliance with his Majesty's family. The King, in consequence, secretly instructed the Duchess of Lorraine to decline the proposal, while at the same time he continued openly to advocate the connexion. The Prince is said to have discovered this double dealing, and to have found in it the only reasonable explanation of the whole transaction. Moreover, the Duchess of Lorraine, finding herself equally duped, and her own ambitious scheme equally foiled by her unscrupulous cousin—who now, to the surprise of every one, appointed Margaret of Parma to be Regent, with the Bishop for her prime minister—had as little reason to be satisfied with the combinations of royal and ecclesiastical intrigue as the Prince of Orange himself. Soon after this unsatisfactory mystification, William turned his attentions to Germany. Anna of Saxony, daughter of the celebrated Elector Maurice, lived at the court of her uncle, the Elector Augustus. A musket-ball, perhaps a traitorous one, in an obscure action with Albert of Brandenbourg, had closed the adventurous career of her father seven years before. The young lady, who was thought to have inherited much of his restless, stormy character, was sixteen years of age. She was far from handsome, was somewhat deformed, and limped. Her marriage-portion was deemed, for the times, an ample one; she had seventy thousand rix dollars in hand, and the reversion of thirty thousand on the death of John Frederic the Second, who had married her mother after the death of Maurice. Her rank was accounted far higher in Germany than that of William of Nassau, and in this respect, rather than for pecuniary considerations, the marriage seemed a desirable one for him. The man who held the great Nassau-Chalons property, together with the heritage of Count Maximilian de Buren, could hardly have been tempted by 100,000 thalers. His own provision for the children who might spring from the proposed marriage was to be a settlement of seventy thousand florins annually. The fortune which permitted of such liberality was not one to be very materially increased by a dowry which might seem enormous to many of the pauper princes of Germany. "The bride's portion," says a contemporary, "after all, scarcely paid for the banquets and magnificent festivals which celebrated the marriage. When the wedding was paid for, there was not a thaler remaining of the whole sum." Nothing, then, could be more puerile than to accuse the Prince of mercenary motives in seeking this alliance; an accusation, however, which did not fail to be brought.
There were difficulties on both sides to be arranged before this marriage could take place. The bride was a Lutheran, the Prince was a Catholic. With regard to the religion of Orange not the slightest doubt existed, nor was any deception attempted. Granvelle himself gave the most entire attestation of the Prince's orthodoxy. "This proposed marriage gives me great pain," he wrote to Philip, "but I have never had reason to suspect his principles." In another letter he observed that he wished the marriage could be broken off; but that he hoped so much from the virtue of the Prince that nothing could suffice to separate him from the true religion. On the other side there was as little doubt as to his creed. Old Landgrave Philip of Hesse, grandfather of the young lady, was bitterly opposed to the match. "'Tis a papist," said he, "who goes to mass, and eats no meat on fast days." He had no great objection to his character, but insurmountable ones to his religion. "Old Count William," said he, "was an evangelical lord to his dying day. This man is a papist!" The marriage, then, was to be a mixed marriage. It is necessary, however, to beware of anachronisms upon the subject. Lutherans were not yet formally denounced as heretics. On the contrary, it was exactly at this epoch that the Pope was inviting the Protestant princes of Germany to the Trent Council, where the schism was to be closed, and all the erring lambs to be received again into the bosom of the fold. So far from manifesting an outward hostility, the papal demeanor was conciliating. The letters of invitation from the Pope to the princes were sent by a legate, each commencing with the exordium, "To my beloved son," and were all sent back to his Holiness, contemptuously, with the coarse jest for answer, "We believe our mothers to have been honest women, and hope that we had better fathers." The great council had not yet given its decisions. Marriages were of continual occurrence, especially among princes and potentates, between the adherents of Rome and of the new religion. Even Philip had been most anxious to marry the Protestant Elizabeth, whom, had she been a peasant, he would unquestionably have burned, if in his power. Throughout Germany, also, especially in high places, there was a disposition to cover up the religious controversy; to abstain from disturbing the ashes where devastation still glowed, and was one day to rekindle itself. It was exceedingly difficult for any man, from the Archduke Maximilian down, to define his creed. A marriage, therefore; between a man and woman of discordant views upon this topic was not startling, although in general not considered desirable.
There were, however, especial reasons why this alliance should be distasteful, both to Philip of Spain upon one side, and to the Landgrave Philip of Hesse on the other. The bride was the daughter of the elector Maurice. In that one name were concentrated nearly all the disasters, disgrace, and disappointment of the Emperor's reign. It was Maurice who had hunted the Emperor through the Tyrolean mountains; it was Maurice who had compelled the peace of Passau; it was Maurice who had overthrown the Catholic Church in Germany, it was Maurice who had frustrated Philip's election as king of the Romans. If William of Orange must seek a wife among the pagans, could no other bride be found for him than the daughter of such a man?
Anna's grandfather, on the other hand, Landgrave Philip, was the celebrated victim to the force and fraud of Charles the Fifth. He saw in the proposed bridegroom, a youth who had been from childhood, the petted page and confidant of the hated Emperor, to whom he owed his long imprisonment. He saw in him too, the intimate friend and ally—for the brooding quarrels of the state council were not yet patent to the world—of the still more deeply detested Granvelle; the crafty priest whose substitution of "einig" for "ewig" had inveigled him into that terrible captivity. These considerations alone would have made him unfriendly to the Prince, even had he not been a Catholic.
The Elector Augustus, however, uncle and guardian to the bride, was not only well-disposed but eager for the marriage, and determined to overcome all obstacles, including the opposition of the Landgrave, without whose consent he was long pledged not to bestow the hand of Anna. For this there were more than one reason. Augustus, who, in the words of one of the most acute historical critics of our day, was "a Byzantine Emperor of the lowest class, re-appearing in electoral hat and mantle," was not firm in his rights to the dignity he held. He had inherited from his brother, but his brother had dispossessed John Frederic. Maurice, when turning against the Emperor, who had placed him in his cousin's seat, had not thought it expedient to restore to the rightful owner the rank which he himself owed to the violence of Charles. Those claims might be revindicated, and Augustus be degraded in his turn, by a possible marriage of the Princess Anna, with some turbulent or intriguing German potentate. Out of the land she was less likely to give trouble. The alliance, if not particularly desirable on the score of rank, was, in other worldly respects, a most brilliant one for his niece. As for the religious point, if he could overcome or circumvent the scruples of the Landgrave, he foresaw little difficulty in conquering his own conscience.
The Prince of Orange, it is evident, was placed in such a position, that it would be difficult for him to satisfy all parties. He intended that the marriage, like all marriages among persons in high places at that day, should be upon the "uti possidetis" principle, which was the foundation of the religious peace of Germany. His wife, after marriage and removal to the Netherlands, would "live Catholically;" she would be considered as belonging to the same Church with her husband, was to give no offence to the government, and bring no suspicion upon himself, by violating any of the religious decencies. Further than this, William, who at that day was an easy, indifferent Catholic, averse to papal persecutions, but almost equally averse to long, puritanical prayers and faces, taking far more pleasure in worldly matters than in ecclesiastical controversies, was not disposed to advance in this thorny path. Having a stern bigot to deal with, in Madrid, and another in Cassel, he soon convinced himself that he was not likely entirely to satisfy either, and thought it wiser simply to satisfy himself.
Early in 1560, Count Gunther de Schwartzburg, betrothed to the Prince's sister Catharine, together with Colonel George Von Holl, were despatched to Germany to open the marriage negotiations. They found the Elector Augustus already ripe and anxious for the connexion. It was easy for the envoys to satisfy all his requirements on the religious question. If, as the Elector afterwards stated to the Landgrave, they really promised that the young lady should be allowed to have an evangelical preacher in her own apartments, together with the befitting sacraments, it is very certain that they travelled a good way out of their instructions, for such concessions were steadily refused by William in person. It is, however, more probable that Augustus, whose slippery feet were disposed to slide smoothly and swiftly over this dangerous ground, had represented the Prince's communications under a favorable gloss of his own. At any rate, nothing in the subsequent proceedings justified the conclusions thus hastily formed.
The Landgrave Philip, from the beginning, manifested his repugnance to the match. As soon as the proposition had been received by Augustus, that potentate despatched Hans von Carlowitz to the grandfather at Cassel. The Prince of Orange, it was represented, was young, handsome, wealthy, a favorite of the Spanish monarch; the Princess Anna, on the other hand, said her uncle was not likely to grow straighter or better proportioned in body, nor was her crooked and perverse character likely to improve with years. It was therefore desirable to find a settlement for her as soon as possible. The Elector, however, would decide upon nothing without the Landgrave's consent.
To this frank, and not very flattering statement, so far as the young lady was concerned, the Landgrave answered stoutly and characteristically. The Prince was a Spanish subject, he said, and would not be able to protect Anna in her belief, who would sooner or later become a fugitive: he was but a Count in Germany, and no fitting match for an Elector's daughter; moreover, the lady herself ought to be consulted, who had not even seen the Prince. If she were crooked in body, as the Elector stated, it was a shame to expose her; to conceal it, however, was questionable, as the Prince might complain afterwards that a straight princess had been promised, and a crooked one fraudulently substituted,—and so on, though a good deal more of such quaint casuistry, in which the Landgrave was accomplished. The amount of his answer, however, to the marriage proposal was an unequivocal negative, from which he never wavered.
In consequence of this opposition, the negotiations were for a time suspended. Augustus implored the Prince not to abandon the project, promising that every effort should be made to gain over the Landgrave, hinting that the old man might "go to his long rest soon," and even suggesting that if the worst came to the worst, he had bound himself to do nothing without the knowledge of the Landgrave, but was not obliged to wait for his consent.
On the other hand, the Prince had communicated to the King of Spain the fact of the proposed marriage. He had also held many long conversations with the Regent and with Granvelle. In all these interviews he had uniformly used one language: his future wife was to "live as a Catholic," and if that point were not conceded, he would break off the negotiations. He did not pretend that she was to abjure her Protestant faith. The Duchess, in describing to Philip the conditions, as sketched to her by the Prince, stated expressly that Augustus of Saxony was to consent that his niece "should live Catholically after the marriage," but that it was quite improbable that "before the nuptials she would be permitted to abjure her errors, and receive necessary absolution, according to the rules of the Church." The Duchess, while stating her full confidence in the orthodoxy of the Prince, expressed at the same time her fears that attempts might be made in the future by his new connexions "to pervert him to their depraved opinions."
A silence of many months ensued on the part of the sovereign, during which he was going through the laborious process of making up his mind, or rather of having it made up for him by people a thousand miles off. In the autumn Granvelle wrote to say that the Prince was very much surprised to have been kept so long waiting for a definite reply to his communications, made at the beginning of the year concerning his intended marriage, and to learn at last that his Majesty had sent no answer, upon the ground that the match had been broken off; the fact being, that the negotiations were proceeding more earnestly than ever.
Nothing could be more helpless and more characteristic than the letter which Philip sent, thus pushed for a decision. "You wrote me," said he, "that you had hopes that this matter of the Prince's marriage would go no further, and seeing that you did not write oftener on the subject, I thought certainly that it had been terminated. This pleased me not a little, because it was the best thing that could be done. Likewise," continued the most tautological of monarchs, "I was much pleased that it should be done. Nevertheless;" he added, "if the marriage is to be proceeded with, I really don't know what to say about it, except to refer it to my sister, inasmuch as a person being upon the spot can see better what can be done with regard to it; whether it be possible to prevent it, or whether it be best, if there be no remedy, to give permission. But if there be a remedy, it would be better to take it, because," concluded the King, pathetically, "I don't see how the Prince could think of marrying with the daughter of the man who did to his majesty, now in glory, that which Duke Maurice did."
Armed with this luminous epistle, which, if it meant any thing, meant a reluctant affirmation to the demand of the Prince for the royal consent, the Regent and Granvelle proceeded to summon William of Orange, and to catechise him in a manner most galling to the pride, and with a latitude not at all justified by any reasonable interpretation of the royal instructions. They even informed him that his Majesty had assembled "certain persons learned in cases of conscience, and versed in theology," according to whose advice a final decision, not yet possible, would be given at some future period. This assembly of learned conscience-keepers and theologians had no existence save in the imaginations of Granvelle and Margaret. The King's letter, blind and blundering as it was, gave the Duchess the right to decide in the affirmative on her own responsibility; yet fictions like these formed a part of the "dissimulation," which was accounted profound statesmanship by the disciples of Machiavelli. The Prince, however irritated, maintained his steadiness; assured the Regent that the negotiation had advanced too far to be abandoned, and repeated his assurance that the future Princess of Orange was to "live as a Catholic."
In December, 1560, William made a visit to Dresden, where he was received by the Elector with great cordiality. This visit was conclusive as to the marriage. The appearance and accomplishments of the distinguished suitor made a profound impression upon the lady. Her heart was carried by storm. Finding, or fancying herself very desperately enamored of the proposed bridegroom, she soon manifested as much eagerness for the marriage as did her uncle, and expressed herself frequently with the violence which belonged to her character. "What God had decreed," she said, "the Devil should not hinder."
The Prince was said to have exhibited much diligence in his attention to the services of the Protestant Church during his visit at Dreaden. As that visit lasted, however, but ten or eleven days, there was no great opportunity for shewing much zeal.
At the same period one William Knuttel was despatched by Orange on the forlorn hope of gaining the old Landgrave's consent, without making any vital concessions. "Will the Prince," asked the Landgrave, "permit my granddaughter to have an evangelical preacher in the house?"—"No," answered Knuttel. "May she at least receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in her own chamber, according to the Lutheran form?"—"No," answered Knuttel, "neither in Breda, nor any where else in the Netherlands. If she imperatively requires such sacraments, she must go over the border for them, to the nearest Protestant sovereign."
Upon the 14th April, 1561, the Elector, returning to the charge, caused a little note to be drawn up on the religious point, which he forwarded, in the hope that the Prince would copy and sign it. He added a promise that the memorandum should never be made public to the signer's disadvantage.
At the same time he observed to Count Louis, verbally, "that he had been satisfied with the declarations made by the Prince when in Dresden, upon all points, except that concerning religion. He therefore felt obliged to beg for a little agreement in writing."—"By no means! by no means!" interrupted Louis promptly, at the very first word, "the Prince can give your electoral highness no such assurance. 'T would be risking life, honor, and fortune to do so, as your grace is well aware." The Elector protested that the declaration, if signed, should never come into the Spanish monarch's hands, and insisted upon sending it to the Prince. Louis, in a letter to his brother, characterized the document as "singular, prolix and artful," and strongly advised the Prince to have nothing to do with it.
This note, which the Prince was thus requested to sign, and which his brother Louis thus strenuously advised him not to sign, the Prince never did sign. Its tenor was to the following effect:—The Princess, after marriage, was, neither by menace nor persuasion; to be turned from the true and pure Word of God, or the use of the sacrament according to the doctrines of the Augsburg Confession. The Prince was to allow her to read books written in accordance with the Augsburg Confession. The prince was to permit her, as often, annually, as she required it, to go out of the Netherlands to some place where she could receive the sacrament according to the Augsburg Confession. In case she were in sickness or perils of childbirth, the Prince, if necessary, would call to her an evangelical preacher, who might administer to her the holy sacrament in her chamber. The children who might spring from the marriage were to be instructed as to the doctrines of the Augsburg Confession.
Even if executed, this celebrated memorandum would hardly have been at variance with the declarations made by the Prince to the Spanish government. He had never pretended that his bride was to become a Catholic, but only to live as a Catholic. All that he had promised, or was expected to promise, was that his wife should conform to the law in the Netherlands. The paper, in a general way, recognized that law. In case of absolute necessity, however, it was stipulated that the Princess should have the advantage of private sacraments. This certainly would have been a mortal offence in a Calvinist or Anabaptist, but for Lutherans the practise had never been so strict. Moreover, the Prince already repudiated the doctrines of the edicts, and rebelled against the command to administer them within his government. A general promise, therefore, made by him privately, in the sense of the memorandum drawn up by the Elector, would have been neither hypocritical nor deceitful, but worthy the man who looked over such grovelling heads as Granvelle and Philip on the one side, or Augustus of Saxony on the other, and estimated their religious pretences at exactly what they were worth. A formal document, however, technically according all these demands made by the Elector, would certainly be regarded by the Spanish government as a very culpable instrument. The Prince never signed the note, but, as we shall have occasion to state in its proper place, he gave a verbal declaration, favorable to its tenor, but in very vague and brief terms, before a notary, on the day of the marriage.
If the reader be of opinion that too much time has been expended upon the elucidation of this point, he should remember that the character of a great and good man is too precious a possession of history to be lightly abandoned. It is of no great consequence to ascertain the precise creed of Augustus of Saxony, or of his niece; it is of comparatively little moment to fix the point at which William of Orange ceased to be an honest, but liberal Catholic, and opened his heart to the light of the Reformation; but it is of very grave interest that his name should be cleared of the charge of deliberate fraud and hypocrisy. It has therefore been thought necessary to prove conclusively that the Prince never gave, in Dresden or Cassel, any assurance inconsistent with his assertions to King and Cardinal. The whole tone of his language and demeanor on the religious subject was exhibited in his reply to the Electress, who, immediately after the marriage, entreated that he would not pervert her niece from the paths of the true religion. "She shall not be troubled," said the Prince, "with such melancholy things. Instead of holy writ she shall read 'Amadis de Gaule,' and such books of pastime which discourse de amore; and instead of knitting and sewing she shall learn to dance a galdiarde, and such courtoisies as are the mode of our country and suitable to her rank."
The reply was careless, flippant, almost contemptuous. It is very certain that William of Orange was not yet the "father William" he was destined to become—grave, self-sacrificing, deeply religious, heroic; but it was equally evident from this language that he had small sympathy, either in public or private, with Lutheranism or theological controversy. Landgrave William was not far from right when he added, in his quaint style, after recalling this well-known reply, "Your grace will observe, therefore, that when the abbot has dice in his pocket, the convent will play."
So great was the excitement at the little court of Cassel, that many Protestant princes and nobles declared that "they would sooner give their daughters to a boor or a swineherd than to a Papist." The Landgrave was equally vigorous in his protest, drawn up in due form on the 26th April, 1561. He was not used, he said, "to flatter or to tickle with a foxtail." He was sorry if his language gave offense, nevertheless "the marriage was odious, and that was enough." He had no especial objection to the Prince, "who before the world was a brave and honorable man." He conceded that his estates were large, although he hinted that his debts also were ample; allowed that he lived in magnificent style, had even heard "of one of his banquets, where all the table-cloths, plates, and every thing else, were made of sugar," but thought he might be even a little too extravagant; concluding, after a good deal of skimble-skamble of this nature, with "protesting before God, the world, and all pious Christians, that he was not responsible for the marriage, but only the Elector Augustus and others, who therefore would one day have to render account thereof to the Lord."
Meantime the wedding had been fixed to take place on Sunday, the 24th August, 1561. This was St. Bartholomew's, a nuptial day which was not destined to be a happy one in the sixteenth century. The Landgrave and his family declined to be present at the wedding, but a large and brilliant company were invited. The King of Spain sent a bill of exchange to the Regent, that she might purchase a ring worth three thousand crowns, as a present on his part to the bride. Beside this liberal evidence that his opposition to the marriage was withdrawn, he authorized his sister to appoint envoys from among the most distinguished nobles to represent him on the occasion. The Baron de Montigny, accordingly, with a brilliant company of gentlemen, was deputed by the Duchess, although she declined sending all the governors of the provinces, according to the request of the Prince. The marriage was to take place at Leipsic. A slight picture of the wedding festivities, derived entirely from unpublished sources, may give some insight into the manners and customs of high life in Germany and the Netherlands at this epoch.
The Kings of Spain and Denmark were invited, and were represented by special ambassadors. The Dukes of Brunswick, Lauenburg, Mecklenburg, the Elector and Margraves of Brandenburg, the Archbishop of Cologne, the Duke of Cleves, the Bishops of Naumburg, Meneburg, Meissen, with many other potentates, accepted the invitations, and came generally in person, a few only being represented by envoys. The town councils of Erfurt, Leipsic, Magdeburg, and other cities, were also bidden. The bridegroom was personally accompanied by his brothers John, Adolphus, and Louis; by the Burens, the Leuchtenbergs, and various other distinguished personages.
As the electoral residence at Leipsic was not completely finished, separate dwellings were arranged for each of the sovereign families invited, in private houses, mostly on the market-place. Here they were to be furnished with provisions by the Elector's officials, but they were to cook for themselves. For this purpose all the princes had been requested to bring their own cooks and butlers, together with their plate and kitchen utensils. The sovereigns themselves were to dine daily with the Elector at the town-house, but the attendants and suite were to take their meals in their own lodgings. A brilliant collection of gentlemen and pages, appointed by the Elector to wait at his table, were ordered to assemble at Leipsic on the 22d, the guests having been all invited for the 23d. Many regulations were given to these noble youths, that they might discharge their duties with befitting decorum. Among other orders, they received particular injunctions that they were to abstain from all drinking among themselves, and from all riotous conduct whatever, while the sovereigns and potentates should be at dinner. "It would be a shameful indecency," it was urged, "if the great people sitting at table should be unable to hear themselves talk on account of the screaming of the attendants." This provision did not seem unreasonable. They were also instructed that if invited to drink by any personage at the great tables they were respectfully to decline the challenge, and to explain the cause after the repast.
Particular arrangements were also made for the safety of the city. Besides the regular guard of Leipsic, two hundred and twenty arquebuseers, spearsmen, and halberdmen, were ordered from the neighboring towns. These were to be all dressed in uniform; one arm, side and leg in black, and the other in yellow, according to a painting distributed beforehand to the various authorities. As a mounted patrole, Leipsic had a regular force of two men. These were now increased to ten, and received orders to ride with their lanterns up and down all the streets and lanes, to accost all persons whom they might find abroad without lights in their hands, to ask them their business in courteous language, and at the same time to see generally to the peace and safety of the town.
Fifty arquebuseers were appointed to protect the town-house, and a burgher watch of six hundred was distributed in different quarters, especially to guard against fire.
On Saturday, the day before the wedding, the guests had all arrived at Leipsic, and the Prince of Orange, with his friends, at Meneburg. On Sunday, the 24th August, the Elector at the head of his guests and attendants, in splendid array, rode forth to receive the bridegroom. His cavalcade numbered four thousand. William of Orange had arrived, accompanied by one thousand mounted men. The whole troop now entered the city together, escorting the Prince to the town-house. Here he dismounted, and was received on the staircase by the Princess Anna, attended by her ladies. She immediately afterwards withdrew to her apartments.
It was at this point, between 4 and 5 P.M., that the Elector and Electress, with the bride and bridegroom, accompanied also by the Dame Sophia von Miltitz and the Councillors Hans von Ponika and Ubrich Woltersdorff upon one side, and by Count John of Nassau and Heinrich von Wiltberg upon the other, as witnesses, appeared before Wolf Seidel, notary, in a corner room of the upper story of the town-house. One of the councillors, on the part of the Elector, then addressed the bridegroom. He observed that his highness would remember, no doubt, the contents of a memorandum or billet, sent by the Elector on the 14th April of that year, by the terms of which the Prince was to agree that he would, neither by threat nor persuasion, prevent his future wife from continuing in the Augsburg Confession; that he would allow her to go to places where she might receive the Augsburg sacraments; that in case of extreme need she should receive them in her chamber; and that the children who might spring from the marriage should be instructed as to the Augsburg doctrines. As, however, continued the councillor, his highness the Prince of Orange has, for various reasons, declined giving any such agreement in writing, as therefore it had been arranged that before the marriage ceremony the Prince should, in the presence of the bride and of the other witnesses, make a verbal promise on the subject, and as the parties were now to be immediately united in marriage, therefore the Elector had no doubt that the Prince would make no objection in presence of those witnesses to give his consent to maintain the agreements comprised in the memorandum or note. The note was then read. Thereupon, the Prince answered verbally. "Gracious Elector; I remember the writing which you sent me on the 14th April. All the point: just narrated by the Doctor were contained in it. I now state to your highness that I will keep it all as becomes a prince, and conform to it." Thereupon he gave the Elector his hand.—
What now was the amount and meaning of this promise on the part of the Prince? Almost nothing. He would conform to the demands of the Elector, exactly as he had hitherto said he would conform to them. Taken in connexion with his steady objections to sign and seal any instrument on the subject—with his distinct refusal to the Landgrave (through Knuttel) to allow the Princess an evangelical preacher or to receive the sacraments in the Netherlands—with the vehement, formal, and public protest, on the part of the Landgrave, against the marriage—with the Prince's declarations to the Elector at Dresden, which were satisfactory on all points save the religious point,—what meaning could this verbal promise have, save that the Prince would do exactly as much with regard to the religious question as he had always promised, and no more? This was precisely what did happen. There was no pretence on the part of the Elector, afterwards, that any other arrangement had been contemplated. The Princess lived catholically from the moment of her marriage, exactly as Orange had stated to the Duchess Margaret, and as the Elector knew would be the case. The first and the following children born of the marriage were baptized by Catholic priests, with very elaborate Catholic ceremonies, and this with the full consent of the Elector, who sent deputies and officiated as sponsor on one remarkable occasion.
Who, of all those guileless lambs then, Philip of Spain, the Elector of Saxony, or Cardinal Granvelle, had been deceived by the language or actions of the Prince? Not one. It may be boldly asserted that the Prince, placed in a transition epoch, both of the age and of his own character, surrounded by the most artful and intriguing personages known to history, and involved in a network of most intricate and difficult circumstances, acquitted himself in a manner as honorable as it was prudent. It is difficult to regard the notarial instrument otherwise than as a memorandum, filed rather by Augustus than by wise William, in order to put upon record for his own justification, his repeated though unsuccessful efforts to procure from the Prince a regularly signed, sealed, and holographic act, upon the points stated in the famous note.
After the delay occasioned by these private formalities, the bridal procession, headed by the court musicians, followed by the court marshals, councillors, great officers of state, and the electoral family, entered the grand hall of the town-house. The nuptial ceremony was then performed by "the Superintendent Doctor Pfeffinger." Immediately afterwards, and in the same hall, the bride and bridegroom were placed publicly upon a splendid, gilded bed, with gold-embroidered curtains, the Princess being conducted thither by the Elector and Electress. Confects and spiced drinks were then served to them and to the assembled company. After this ceremony they were conducted to their separate chambers, to dress for dinner. Before they left the hall, however, Margrave Hans of Brandenburg, on part of the Elector of Saxony, solemnly recommended the bride to her husband, exhorting him to cherish her with faith and affection, and "to leave her undisturbed in the recognized truth of the holy gospel and the right use of the sacraments."
Five round tables were laid in the same hall immediately afterwards—each accommodating ten guests. As soon as the first course of twenty-five dishes had been put upon the chief table, the bride and bridegroom, the Elector and Electress, the Spanish and Danish envoys and others, were escorted to it, and the banquet began. During the repast, the Elector's choir and all the other bands discoursed the "merriest and most ingenious music." The noble vassals handed the water, the napkins, and the wine, and every thing was conducted decorously and appropriately. As soon as the dinner was brought to a close, the tables were cleared away, and the ball began in the same apartment. Dances, previously arranged, were performed, after which "confects and drinks" were again distributed, and the bridal pair were then conducted to the nuptial chamber.
The wedding, according to the Lutheran custom of the epoch, had thus taken place not in a church, but in a private dwelling; the hall of the town-house, representing, on this occasion, the Elector's own saloons. On the following morning, however, a procession was formed at seven o'clock to conduct the newly-married couple to the church of St. Nicholas, there to receive an additional exhortation and benediction. Two separate companies of gentlemen, attended by a great number of "fifers, drummers, and trumpeters," escorted the bride and the bridegroom, "twelve counts wearing each a scarf of the Princess Anna's colors, with golden garlands on their heads and lighted torches in their hands," preceding her to the choir, where seats had been provided for the more illustrious portion of the company. The church had been magnificently decked in tapestry, and, as the company entered, a full orchestra performed several fine motettos. After listening to a long address from Dr. Pfeffinger, and receiving a blessing before the altar, the Prince and Princess of Orange returned, with their attendant processions, to the town-house.
After dinner, upon the same and the three following days, a tournament was held. The lists were on the market-place, on the side nearest the town-house; the Electress and the other ladies looking down from balcony and window to "rain influence and adjudge the prize." The chief hero of these jousts, according to the accounts in the Archives, was the Elector of Saxony. He "comported himself with such especial chivalry" that his far-famed namesake and remote successor, Augustus the Strong, could hardly have evinced more knightly prowess. On the first day he encountered George Von Wiedebach, and unhorsed him so handsomely that the discomfited cavalier's shoulder was dislocated. On the following day he tilted with Michael von Denstedt, and was again victorious, hitting his adversary full in the target, and "bearing him off over his horse's tail so neatly, that the knight came down, heels over head, upon the earth."
On Wednesday, there was what was called the palliatourney. The Prince of Orange, at the head of six bands, amounting in all to twenty-nine men; the Margrave George of Brandenburg, with seven bands, comprising thirty-four men, and the Elector Augustus, with one band of four men, besides himself, all entered the lists. Lots were drawn for the "gate of honor," and gained by the Margrave, who accordingly defended it with his band. Twenty courses were then run between these champions and the Prince of Orange, with his men. The Brandenburgs broke seven lances, the Prince's party only six, so that Orange was obliged to leave the lists discomfited. The ever-victorious Augustus then took the field, and ran twenty courses against the defenders, breaking fourteen spears to the Brandenburg's ten. The Margrave, thus defeated, surrendered the "gate of honor" to the Elector, who maintained, it the rest of the day against all comers. It is fair to suppose, although the fact is not recorded, that the Elector's original band had received some reinforcement. Otherwise, it would be difficult to account for these constant victories, except by ascribing more than mortal strength, as well as valor, to Augustus and his four champions. His party broke one hundred and fifty-six lances, of which number the Elector himself broke thirty-eight and a half. He received the first prize, but declined other guerdons adjudged to him. The reward for the hardest hitting was conferred on Wolf Von Schonberg, "who thrust Kurt Von Arnim clean out of the saddle, so that he fell against the barriers."
On Thursday was the riding at the ring. The knights who partook of this sport wore various strange garbs over their armor. Some were disguised as hussars, some as miners, come as lansquenettes; others as Tartans, pilgrims, fools, bird-catchers, hunters, monks; peasants, or Netherland cuirassiers. Each party was attended by a party of musicians, attired in similar costume. Moreover, Count Gunter Von Schwartzburg made, his appearance in the lists, accompanied "by five remarkable giants of wonderful proportions and appearance, very ludicrous to behold, who performed all kind of odd antics on horseback."
The next day there was a foot tourney, followed in the evening by "mummeries," or masquerades. These masques were repeated on the following evening, and afforded great entertainment. The costumes were magnificent, "with golden and pearl embroidery," the dances were very merry and artistic, and the musicians, who formed a part of the company, exhibited remarkable talent. These "mummeries" had been brought by William of Orange from the Netherlands, at the express request of the Elector, on the ground that such matters were much better understood in the provinces than in Germany.
Such is a slight sketch of the revels by which this ill-fated Bartholomew marriage was celebrated. While William of Orange was thus employed in Germany, Granvelle seized the opportunity to make his entry into the city of Mechlin, as archbishop; believing that such a step would be better accomplished in the absence of the Prince from the country. The Cardinal found no one in the city to welcome him. None of the great nobles were there. "The people looked upon the procession with silent hatred. No man cried, God bless him." He wrote to the King that he should push forward the whole matter of the bishoprics as fast as possible, adding the ridiculous assertion that the opposition came entirely from the nobility, and that "if the seigniors did not talk so much, not a man of the people would open his mouth on the subject."
The remonstrance offered by the three estates of Brabant against the scheme had not influenced Philip. He had replied in a peremptory tone. He had assured them that he had no intention of receding, and that the province of Brabant ought to feel itself indebted to him for having given them prelates instead of abbots to take care of their eternal interests, and for having erected their religious houses into episcopates. The abbeys made what resistance they could, but were soon fain to come to a compromise with the bishops, who, according to the arrangement thus made, were to receive a certain portion of the abbey revenues, while the remainder was to belong to the institutions, together with a continuance of their right to elect their own chiefs, subordinate, however, to the approbation of the respective prelates of the diocese. Thus was the episcopal matter settled in Brabant. In many of the other bishoprics the new dignitaries were treated with disrespect, as they made their entrance into their cities, while they experienced endless opposition and annoyance on attempting to take possession of the revenue assigned to them.