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NETHERLANDS


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NETHERLANDS


win back those who were shocked by the violence of the heretics, he looked on all his subjects in the Nether- lands as equally guilty, and he swore by his father's soul that he would make an example of them. Against the advice of the regent, despite faithful Granvelle, in spite of the pope, who exhorted him to clemency, he dispatched the Duke of Alva to the Low Countries on a punitive expedition (15(i7). Straightway William of Orange and the more compromised nobles went into exile. Recklessly and trusting to his past services, the Count of Egmont had refused to follow them. His mistake cost him dear, for Alva caused him and Count de Homes to be arrested and brought before a sort of court martial which he called the Conseil des Troubles, but known more more popularly as the Conseil du Sang (Blood Tribunal). The accused men, being members of the Golden Fleece, could be punished only by their order; but in spite of this privilege they were judged, condemned, and executed (1568).

When the two counts were arrested, Margaret of Parma resigned her office, and the Duke of Alva was appointed her successor; with him liegan a system of merciless repression. Blood flowed freely, and all the traditional rights of the people were disregarded; the Spaniard Juan Vargas, chief-justice of the Council of Troubles, replied to complaint of the University of Louvain that its privileges had been violated: non curamus privilegios vestros. (We are not concerned with your privileges.) Besides this, heaw taxes, 10 per cent on the sales of chattels, .5 per cent on the sale of real estate, and 1 per cent on all property, completed the popular discontent, and turned even a number of good Catholics against the Government. The Protes- tants, encouraged by these events, began military operations by land and sea, and the gueux des bois (Land-Beggars) and the gueux de mer (Water-Beggars) started a guerilla warfare and a campaign of pillage which were .soon followed by the more serious attack of the Prince of Orange and his brother, Louis of Nas- sau. But the Duke of Alva frustrated all their efforts, and when he had repulsed Louis at Jemmingen, and prevented William from crossing the Gccte. he caused a statue of himself to be set up at Antwerp rep- resenting him crushing under foot the hydra of anarchy. Then just as he thought he had mas- tered the rebellion, news was brought that on 1 April, 1572, the Water-Beggars had taken the port of Briel. Henceforth in the very heart of the Low Countries they had a point for rally or retreat, and their progress was rapid. In quick succession they captured many towns in Holland and Zealand. These Water-Beggars, under their leader, William de la Marck, Lord of Lummen, were for the most part ruffians devoid of all human feeling. When they took the town of Gorkum they put to death in a most barbarous manner nineteen priests and monks who re- fused to abjure their Catholic Faith. The Church venerates these brave victims on 9 July, under the title of the Martyrs of Gorkum. About the same time Louis of Nassau took Mons in Hainault, and William of Orange made a second descent on the country with an army of hirelings that committed frightful excesses. But he failed before the superior forces of the Duke of Alva. Mons was recaptured and William once more driven out. Alva then turned his arms against the provinces of the north; Ziitphen, Naarden, and Haarlem fell successively into his hands and were treated most shamefully, but contrary to his hopes the rest of the rebel country did not submit.

At last Philip II realized that the duke's mission had failed. Yielding to the entreaty of his most faithful subjects — the Iiisho|is and the University of Louvain — he recalled Alva and appointed as his suc- cessor Don Luis of Rei|uesens. During his brief re- gency (1573-75) Don Luis did not succeed in restoring royal authority in the revolted districts, although he showed greater humanity and an inclination to con-


ciliate the disaffected. Nor was he more successful in capturing the town of Leyden which withstood one of the most heroic sieges in history. His death left the country in a state of anarchy.

The Council of State took over the reins of govern- ment pending the arrival of the new regent, Don John of Austria, brother of Philip II. It was a favourable moment for the ambitious schemes of William of Orange. Thanks to the intrigues of his agents, the members of the Council of State were arrested and did not regain their freedom till those most attached to the king's interests had been removed and others appointed in their places. This packed council was but a tool of the Prince of Orange, and its first act was to convene the States-General to deal with the affairs of the coim- try, without any reference to the king. On the motion of the Prince of Orange the delegates met at Ghent the representatives of the rebel provinces of Holland and Zealand, where the authority of the prince was still unquestioned, and together they debated a scheme for securing tolerance for all forms of worship until such time as the States-General should have finally decided the matter, also for obtaining the removal of the Span- ish troops. During the course of these dehberations an event happened which filled the whole country with fear and horror. The Spanish soldiers, who for a long time had received no pay, mutinied, seized the city of Antwerp, and pillaged it ruthlessly, seven thou- sand persons perishing during these disorders, which are usually '■eferred to as the Spanish Fury. The provinces no longer hesitated, and their delegates signed the famous Pacification of Ghent on 8 Novem- ber, 1576.

Thus triumphed the crafty and artful diplomacy of the Prince of Orange. He had succeeded in causing the loyal provinces to vote toleration of worship, while the provinces of Holland and Zealand of which he was master, formally refused toallowwithin their limits the practice of the Catholic religion. No doubt it was stipulated that this refusal was only provisional, and that the States-General of the seventeen provinces would finally settle the question; but meanwhile Prot- estantism gained an immense advantage in the Cath- olic provinces without giving anj'thing in return. Furthermore the prince had taken the precaution to have it stipulated that he should remain admiral and regent of Holland and Zealand, and all these measures were passed in the name of the king whose authority they completely defied .

Such was the situation when the new regent arrived. On the advice of his best friends he ratified by his "Edit perp^tuel de Marche en Famenne" (1577) the main clauses of the Pacification of Ghent, which rallied to him a majority of the people. Then he set about es- tablishing his authority, no easy task in face of the unwearying effort of the Prince of Orange to prevent it. when, in order to obtain a reliable stronghold, he .seized the citadel of Namur, the States-General, prompted by William of Orange, declared him an enemy of the State and called in as regent .\rchduke Matthias of Austria, to whom William succeerled in beingmade lieutenant-general. Don John defeated tlie army of the States-General at Gembloux, and Wil- liam made a fresh appeal to foreign Protestants. From all the neighbouring countries adventurers flocked in to fight the Catholic Government. The Calvinists took son".e of the large cities, Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, and held them in a state of terror. In the last- named town two of the leaders, Hembyze and Ryhove, gave themselves up to every excess, persecuted the Catholics, and endeavoured to set up a sort, of Protes- tant repulilic as Calvin had done at Geneva. To crown all these misfortunes, the yovnig regent was carried off by illness in l.'i7.S. and all seemed lo.st for the Catholic religion antl the royal authority.

But the eyes of the Catholics were at last opened. Seeing that under pretext of freeing them from Spaa-