When after the catastrophe of Nancy the cautious doubts of Louis XI as to the personal fate of his adversary had at last been set at rest, many of Charles the Hold's former subjects refused to believe him dead; and from Burgundy to the Flemish communes the rumour ran that he but lay concealed in some sure retreat whence sooner or later he would issue forth in the full blaze of his accustomed grandeur. Some had seen him in Lorraine, others in Germany; others in Portugal, to whose nationality he had laid claim as descending to him from his mother, and in England, of whose throne he had loved to describe himself as the next heir; yet others in Jerusalem, which he and his father had vainly hoped to reach as crusaders, and in Rome. Men of business lent out large sums of money to one another to be repaid on the day of his return, on which strange to say even those fixed their hopes who had previously testified to having seen him dead in the snow and ice of his last battlefield. A delusion was upon them all, says the chronicler Molinet in his bombastic way, like that possessing the Jews who await the coming of the Messiah in Judasa, or the English who expect King Arthur back in their island; but what wonder, he asks, since there never was in the Burgundian dominions a duke more magnificent, more warlike, more terrible than he, the scourge of the rebels, the alarum of Germany, the exterminator of the folk of Liege, and the terror of France? Of so strong and splendid a prince it might indeed seem hard to understand so great a fall. Yet even more difficult to grasp than the fact of his personal overthrow was this other fact, that with him had been pulled down suddenly, and to all seeming irrecoverably, the mightiest and wealthiest monarchy known to the West in the fifteenth century. This vast inheritance, welded together by the policy of his ancestors and above all of his father, and augmented by his own ambition, to which Charles had allowed so many princes to aspire as suitors for his daughter's hand, he had left to her precarious tenure as a mutilated, dislocated, and disorganised heap of territories. Furthermore, in those centres of civic life, whose mercantile and industrial prosperity had in the Europe of the later Middle Ages been the real source of the importance of the Netherlands and of the Burgundian monarchy, that prosperity was except in certain specially favoured seaports helplessly and hopelessly on the wane; and the great communes which had of old been its most favoured seats, were, in the truthful words of a modern historian, smitten to the heart.
The territories under the dominion of the House of Burgundy, which had formed part of the northern division of ancient Lotharingia, and were known to later political geography as the provinces of the Netherlands, were for the most part acquired by the fortune of marriage and inheritance; but a settled plan of policy had from an early date continuously directed and developed the process of annexation. The inheritance brought by Margaret of Maele to the French prince, who was the founder of the ducal dynasty, included the county of Artois, with its capital of Arras, a city of great mercantile prosperity as early as the thirteenth century, and the whole of Flanders. To the latter on the eastern side Malines (Mechlin) and Antwerp had been yielded by Brabant, and on the south certain Walloon districts, long united with France and including Lille and Douay, had been restored so as likewise to be left to his daughter by the last Count of Flanders of the native line. Without the support of the good towns of Flanders-Bruges, Ghent, and Ypres-Philip the Bold could not have secured the hand of the richest heiress in Europe; and of the political greatness achieved by his dynasty the true foundations are to be sought in the resources of the great communes themselves, with whom it was engaged in perennial conflict, and, in a less degree, of the other towns around them. There is no indication, on the other hand, that even during the Burgundian period agriculture, except perhaps pasture, reached a high level in Flanders; in a considerable proportion of its villages, the inhabitants gained their livelihood by manufacturing industry, the villages aiming at becoming small towns, and the small towns at becoming large in their turn.
Artois and Flanders remained fiefs of the French Crown, although by the Peace of Arras (1435) Philip the Good was relieved for his own person of all obligations of homage to his French overlord. The great acquisitions, which ensued in the course of his long reign, were not altogether due to his own resolution and statecraft. He shared the credit of them with his grandfather and namesake who had induced Joan, heiress of Brabant and aunt to his wife Margaret of Flanders, to designate his second son Anthony as her heir; and who married his daughter, another Margaret, to the future Count William VI of Hainault, Holland, Zeeland, and Friesland. But they could not have been actually accomplished except by the extraordinary strength of will and perseverance displayed by Philip the Good in the course of the long and momentous struggle carried on by Jacqueline of Bavaria for the maintenance of her rights as William VTs heiress.
Philip began the systematic extension of his dominions by the business-like purchase of the county of Namur (Namen) (1422), of which he came into actual possession eight years later by the death of the last female representative of the House of Dampierre. This district was of some consequence by reason of its mining industry, whose products the Meuse carried north, after uniting the waters of the Sambre to its own at the capital. Brabant fell into his hands in 1430 on the death of the young Duke Philip, the brother of Jacqueline's unhappy husband. To the duchy of Brabant that of Limburg had been annexed (1288), with its chief town of Maestricht, the "higher ford" of the Romans and the residence of many Caroling Kings, over which the Bishop of Liege claimed joint rights of sovereignty with the Dukes of Brabant. Unlike the Flemish Counts these Dukes had consistently remained on friendly terms with their towns, where the patriciate (geslachten) vigorously maintained itself throughout the fourteenth century. Ample and solid liberties were conceded to his towns and nobility by Duke John II in the compact known as the Letter of Cortenberg (1312), enlarged by later charters, and above all, when the accession of Wen-ceslas of Luxemburg offered an irresistible opportunity by the famous Joyeuse Entree (blyde inkomste) (1356), which remained the chief pillar of the liberties of the two united duchies down to the tempestuous times of Philip II of Spain. At the beginning of this century Louvain (Leuven) had still regarded herself as the foremost city of Brabant, mindful of the day when she had numbered a hundred thousand inhabitants, and the cloth-industry and the linen-trade had alike flourished within her walls. Soon, however, though she became the seat of the first Netherlands University (1426), a large emigration set in to Brussels, whither the Court likewise transferred its seat. Here the active lower town, and the residences of the nobility lining the descent from the Castle to St Gudule, together contained all the chief elements in the Brabancon population, while the French tastes and manners introduced together with the use of the French tongue by the new dynasty familiarised its favourite residence with an exotic license of life. But, owing to the decay of the cloth industry early in the century, the democratic ascendency of the trades was short-lived in the capital of Brabant; and, like the great Flemish cities themselves, Brussels, though other industries flourished here, was commercially distanced by Antwerp.
Over Hainault, Holland, Zeeland, and (more or less nominally) Friesland, Philip's sovereignty was definitively established in 1433, five years after the resistance of Jacqueline had finally collapsed, at the very time when the fury of the Kabeljaauws had risen to fever-pitch against her supporters, the Hoeks; their last fleet had been annihilated, and he was preparing for a decisive campaign against his seemingly indomitable adversary. At that time the recognition of Philip as next heir had been voted even in chivalrous Hainault, where Jacqueline had always been able to count on ardent loyalty, and where, amidst feudal conditions of life, only one or two towns-Valenciennes, and more recently Mons,—had developed their communal institutions. In Holland and Zeeland the towns attained to an advanced condition of prosperity and importance later than in Brabant, just as the latter had lagged behind Flanders. Yet, though the growth of the towns in the Northern Netherlands was relatively slow, neither was their commercial and industrial progress hampered, as was the case in Germany, by too close a control on the part of transmitted interests, nor was their political life, like that of the Flemish communes, handed over to the gusts of the market-place. As a rule, practical considerations led them from more to less broadly popular methods of government.
In matters of trade, on the other hand, the towns of Holland generally favoured freedom as against privilege and protection, and towards the close of the Middle Ages the single port in the Northern Netherlands which retained any staple-rights of consequence was Dort, whose ancient monopoly of all goods carried on the main rivers of Holland nominally outlasted the Burgundian period. But long before this Amsterdam, converted into a seaport by the formation of the Zuiderzee in the thirteenth century, had risen into prominence, and by the middle of the fifteenth she had left behind all the older towns of importance-Dort, Delft, Haarlem, Alkmaar, Middelburg, and Zierikzee -while among the younger Gouda, Leiden, Schiedam, and Rotterdam were likewise active centres of industrial and mercantile life. Few great noble families remained either in Holland or in Zeeland; but in the latter the small nobility was still numerous in the days of Jacqueline, and it was from them that the main strength of the Hoeks had been recruited in her wars, while that of the Kabeljaauws lay with the ruling classes in the towns. The vanquished cause, however, was consecrated in the memory of the people as having been that of resistance against the dominion of the stranger.
In no instance had his hand been heavier than in his treatment of the peninsula now known as North Holland, stretching out between the North Sea and the Zuiderzee, where dwelt the Kennemer, a primitive race of great and tried vigour, who clung to their liberties as they held fast to the fragments of land left to them by the waters. In Kenne-merland proper Alkmaar was the only town; with thriving Haarlem on their borders these peasants were constantly engaged in petty warfare, and it was from here that Philip proceeded on his expedition of. vengeance which reduced them to the condition of overtaxed dependents. A few of the mercantile settlements along the western coast of the Zuiderzee came in the Burgundian period to rank among the busiest towns of Holland-Hoorn as the chief market in the Netherlands for dairy produce and cattle, Enkhuizen as a centre of the herring-fishery. Friesland proper, on the north-eastern shore, over which Philip asserted his claims as Count of Holland and Zeeland, was not actually absorbed by him. Here the party-name of the Schieringers mainly applied to the lower population settled round the waters of the ancient Westergao, and that of the Veikoopers to the men of substance in and around Groningen, which town held a position so distinctive that it afterwards became eponymous of a whole province (officially called stadt en landen). Philip the Good might possibly have been acknowledged as Lord of Friesland, like John of Bavaria before him, had he been prepared to bind himself to respect the liberties of the population. But this he consistently refused, and the remote region was once more left to itself. Even the subsequent recognition by Groningen of the overlordship of the Bishop of Utrecht was purely nominal; as was the episcopal protection claimed by her against the attempt of Charles the Bold to assert the ducal authority over all West-Friesland (1469.) From the renewed internal party-conflicts in Friesland Groningen discreetly held aloof, intent upon the advancement of her commercial prosperity, by whose side that of ancient "golden" Stavoren was passing away, while that of Leeuwarden had hardly yet begun.
Philip's last important territorial acquisition was that of the duchy of Luxemburg, a sparsely peopled land of mountains and forests whose capital derived importance from the incomparable natural strength of its position. It had been twice temporarily united with Brabant-first under Wenceslas, upon whom it had been bestowed by his brother, the great Emperor Charles IV, and who was married to the heiress Joan; and then under Elizabeth, niece of the second Wenceslas, King of the Romans, who had left it very much to itself and the protection of its natural outworks, the wild Ardennes. To her (commonly called Elizabeth of Gorlitz) he had, after her marriage to Duke Anthony of Brabant, Philip's younger brother, made over his rights in Luxemburg; and since both Anthony and her second husband, John of Bavaria, formerly Bishop-elect of Liege, left her a childless widow, her duchy was plainly marked out for incorporation in the Burgundian dominions. In 1445 Philip purchased it from Elizabeth, who, after he had averted an extraneous attack and established his authority in every part of the duchy, made a formal donation to him of the whole.
Of the four great dioceses into which the Netherlands were up to the time of Charles V divided, Liege and Utrecht retained the character of self-governed ecclesiastical principalities beyond the duration of Philip's reign. Liege (Luik) was one of the most important sees in the Empire, and the spiritual authority of its Bishop extended over parts of Brabant and Hainault, as well as over Namur, Limburg, and Upper Gelderland. In the principality the Diets were composed of representatives of clergy, nobility, and towns, but these last were in enjoyment of liberties resembling those possessed by the Flemish communes. In the city of Liege itself the struggle which had long been carried on between the old patrician families, relatively few in number but favoured by the Bishops, and the mass of the Walloon population, had been decided in favour of the latter, even before "a city of priests had been changed into one of colliers and armourers." The faction feuds between the Awans and the Waroux had ended with the utter extrusion of the patrician element from the city; and Liege became a democracy of the most advanced type, with a governing body based directly upon the suffrage of all the thirty-two trades. It was as a community swayed by leaders who gloried in their rupture with the past (haydroits), that Liege, with the support of the other "good towns" of the principality revolted against the Bishop-elect, John of Bavaria. The terrible chastisement inflicted by this "pitiless" prince, in which his kinsman the "fearless" John of Burgundy had hastened to have his share (1408), was followed by a reconstitution of the government, from which the trades were absolutely excluded (1414); but some concessions were made to them a few years later.
Half a century later the Liegeois, instigated by Louis XI of France, waged another struggle against another bishop, Louis of Bourbon, a nephew of Duke Philip of Burgundy. His son, the future Duke Charles, forced the principality to acknowledge the Burgundian Dukes as its hereditary protectors (mambourgs) (1465); but another insurrection speedily broke out, nor was the defiant spirit of the artisans who were masters of the city broken even by the bloody sack of Dinant, hitherto the seat of a flourishing industry in the working of copper and brass. In 1467, after defeating the Liegeois in the field, Charles, now Duke in his father's place, annihilated their privileges and reestablished the Bishop, but at the same time reduced the principality to the condition of a Burgundian fief. In the following year, when Louis XI had placed himself in the power of Charles at Peronne, and a fresh rising had taken place at Liege, the recalcitrant city was overtaken by a fearful doom, at the wreaking of which the French King assisted perforce. Leodensium clades et excidium became the most flagrant of Charles the Bold's titles to fame; and the pillaged churches, in which, formerly, according to Commines, as many masses had been daily said as at Rome, were virtually all that, after a seven weeks' sack, was left standing of Liege. But the principality, which had never been formally annexed by Charles, after his death recovered its political independence; and, with characteristic vitality, the great Walloon city rose rapidly from its ruins.
At Peronne Charles also made use of his strange opportunity to strengthen his hold over the series of towns along the line of the Somme, extending from St Quentin to St Valery at the mouth of the river. These Picard towns, "the key of France," had been left in pledge by France to Burgundy already in the Treaty of Arras (1435), which first impressed upon western Europe a sense of the magnitude of the Burgundian power; redeemed by Louis, in 1463, at a time when Philip and his heir were on ill terms with one another, they had been recovered in 1465 for the Netherlands and the protection of their southern frontier.
The temporal power of the Bishops of Utrecht covered, at least in name, the later provinces of Overyssel and Drenthe (called the Upper See), Groningen, and Utrecht (called the Lower). Although much restricted by the "five Chapters," whose deputies took the first place in the Diets, the episcopal system of government, as well as the institutions of the city of Utrecht, showed considerable lasting power; largely because, while the representatives of the trades controlled the civic Council, members of the noble families residing at Utrecht had been frequently placed on the roll of the trades themselves. Conflicts, however, repeatedly broke out on the occasion of the filling up of the see, and in Jacqueline's times the factions of the Llchtenbergers and the Lockhorsts respectively supported the Hoeks and the Kabeljaauws. In 1425 the question of the episcopal succession gave rise to a protracted contest, in which Philip took part; and when, after this had come to an end on the expulsion of one of the claimants and the death of the other, the succession was again disputed, he menaced Utrecht with a large armada, and thus managed to secure the see for his illegitimate son David, who kept possession of it till the death of Charles the Bold. From 1456 onwards to that date Utrecht was entirely under Burgundian influence; but though, as will be seen, Maximilian in 1483 assumed the administration of the principality, and though from 1517-24 another of Philip the Good's bastards was put in possession of the bishopric, it was not till 1529 that the temporal government of the Upper and Lower See was definitively assumed by Charles V as the sovereign of Brabant and Holland.
It was still later that Gelderland in its turn acknowledged the authority now established over all the rest of the Netherlands. The dynastic broils of the House of Gelders had been tragic enough while they merely affected its own dominions and the neighbouring duchy of Juliers-brother supplanting brother, and sister striving against sister. The contending factions in the duchy of Gelders, whose fury survived the occasion of their origin, went by the names of the Heckerens and the Bronkhorsts. The spheres of English and Burgundian influence in the Netherlands were respectively enlarged, when Duke William IX of Juliers and Gelders, himself the grandson of an English princess, opposed the efforts of Joan of Brabant, the friend of Burgundy, and defied the power of France. His reign, which lasted till 1402, marked an important advance in the prosperity of the chief Geldrian towns, Nymwegen, Roermonde, Zutphen, and Arnhem, where the rise of a considerable cloth industry connects itself with his firm attachment to the English alliance. Under his brother and successor, who remained childless like himself, the diet of the duchy resolved that no Duke should henceforth be acknowledged in Gelderland unless approved by the majority of the knightly Order (many of whose members down to the close of the fifteenth century were virtually independent), and by the smaller towns, with the unanimous assent of the above-mentioned chief towns of the "four quarters"; while any partition of the duchy, or alienation of any section of it, was made conditional on the sanction of the diet. Thus in 1423, on the death of Duke Rainald IV, the towns raised to the ducal dignity his sister's grandson Arnold of Egmond, who was still a boy in years. Although the Emperor Sigismund had invested the Duke of Berg with the duchy of Gelders, Arnold retained the confidence of the Estates by enlarging their privileges, and enjoyed the support of Duke Philip of Burgundy, to whose niece, the daughter of Duke Adolf of Cleves, he was betrothed, and afterwards united in marriage. Subsequently, however, Duke Arnold fell out with his ally as to the succession to the see of Utrecht; whereupon Philip joined with the four chief towns of Gelderland in the successful attempt of Arnold's son Adolf to substitute his own for his father's authority. But when in 1467 Charles the Bold became Duke of Burgundy, who could not bring himself to befriend a friend of the towns, Adolf after rejecting a compromise was thrown into prison, and his incapable father, against the will of the towns and the law of the land, pledged his duchy to Charles for 300,000 Rhenish florins (1471). On Arnold's death two years later, Charles took possession of the duchy. Nymwegen, whose stout resistance he had overcome by force, was subjected to a heavy fine; and only such of the towns as had voluntarily submitted to the Burgundian regime were confirmed in certain of their privileges. During the rest of the reign of Charles the Bold Arnold's son Charles and his sister were kept at the Burgundian Court, and Gelderland was ruled with an iron hand; but the Burgundian system of administration was probably to the advantage of the Geldrian population at large, though it had to furnish troops for his wars. As will be seen, a long and troublous interval of rebellion and war was to ensue, before in 1543, William of Juliers, whom Charles of Egmond had named his successor, resigned his claims to Gelders and Zutphen, and the entire Netherlands were united in the hands of the Emperor Charles V.
The extension by the Dukes of Burgundy of their territorial dominion over the Netherlands necessitated the establishment by them of a strong monarchical authority. A number of States, of which each had a history and institutions of its own, while the most important of them abounded in large and populous towns, were brought under the control of one and the same dynasty. The physical and economic conditions of these several provinces varied greatly; while in the country at large two very dissimilar races continued to dwell side by side, and to employ two forms of speech differing from one another as well as from the language spoken at the ducal Court. But the Dukes of Burgundy from the first were intent upon something more than securing to themselves a strong control over all their Netherlands dominions. They had come into the Low Countries as strangers; they had no traditional sympathy with the memories, no inborn respect for the rights and liberties, of any section or class of their subjects; and the last two of these Dukes in particular were deliberately resolved on setting up a centralised system of rule in the face of all claims, legal, historical, or other. Herein they followed both the traditions of the royal line from which they sprang, and the political instinct which apprised them, that, unless their strength was at least equal to that of their overlords, the struggle against these could only end in the absorption of their own dominions in a united France.
While, for reasons to be given below, the endeavour of the Dukes of Burgundy to advance and consolidate their princely power in the Netherlands met with goodwill and cooperation on the part of the nobility and clergy, its chief adversaries were the great communes of Flanders, and in a less degree those of Brabant. This conflict was in itself inevitable; for the political and social development of the chief Flemish towns only typified on a large scale what had taken or was taking place in other Provinces. The terrible blow inflicted at Roosebeke with the aid of France upon the communes, and upon Ghent in particular, was not absolutely mortal; and although their prosperity in the fifteenth century never again reached the height to which it had previously attained, yet their importance in the whole body politic was still paramount. As early as the thirteenth century Bruges, practically a port by means of its control of Sluys, had become a world's fair, and Ghent in Eastern and Ypres in Western Flanders had grown with amazing rapidity into great industrial centres of population surrounded by many other flourishing towns of which the names are now in part forgotten. With their activity and wealth had grown a sense of power and an impatience of external control for which in the Middle Ages no complete parallel could have been found on the hither side of the Alps. The civic governments which in this earlier period asserted their authority against that of the Counts were purely oligarchic; and it was only gradually that the artisans, since the organisation of the trades as guilds had been elaborated and was for a long time controlled by the patriciates, came to essay a trial of strength with them. The determining factor is to be sought in the irresistible ascendency of the trade of the weavers and of the minor trades connected with it, when the cloth industry of Flanders was at its height. When the patricians in their turn had thrown themselves upon the support of the French Crown (leliaerts), the massacres known as the mette (matines) of Bruges began the great democratic revolution which triumphed in the utter overthrow of the chivalry of France on the field of Courtray (1302). The honours of that day belonged to the trades of Bruges, assisted by those of Ypres and Ghent in defiance of the prohibitions issued by their patrician authorities. And during the entire epoch of the political ascendency of the communes, their self-government was striving to establish itself on broad popular foundations. The elder Artevelde was the Pericles of Ghent, whose extraordinary self-confidence was mainly due to the hope of an effective political alliance with England, based on free commercial intercourse with her, as the chief provider of the raw material of Flemish industry. After his death evil times began for Ghent, which had become the chief of "the three members of Flanders" (de dry leden), and had charged itself with the executive on behalf of the towns and other districts of the country at large. The visitations of Heaven seemed to descend upon the land in the form of tempests and inundations and the Black Death. The Anglo-Flemish alliance was a thing of the past. Bruges, whose jealousy of Ghent was ineradicable, was inclined to support the manoeuvres of the territorial prince; and in many of the communes a reaction set in towards oligarchical government. But Ghent stood firm, and when the banners of her crafts had been unfurled for the critical struggle, and the Whitehoods once more streamed forth from her gates, Bruges, Ypres, Courtray, and all the other Flemish towns once more fell into line for the final struggle. With their overthrow at Hoosebeke (1382) the political greatness of the communes came to an end; but the resistance of Ghent was only slowly extinguished.
Yet to Philip the Good, as to his father (notwithstanding the part which he played at Paris) and to his grandfather before him, and his son after him, the Flemish communes were, as Commines says of Ghent in especial, a thorn in the flesh. Not that he was unaware of the fact that his European position depended upon the prosperity of the Flemish towns even more than upon that of the Dutch, who always regarded the ally of the Kabeljaauws as their friend, or upon that of Brussels, his favourite place of residence. He sought to arrest the decay of Ypres, and his commercial policy towards England was dictated by the interests of Flanders. But he was resolute in asserting his political supremacy at any cost; and the first occasion, on which he showed himself conscious of the fact that the destruction of his subjects was his own loss, was when he had crushed the last resistance of the Ghenters at Gavre (1453). Until the Peace of Arras he mainly (though not entirely, as Ypres learnt to its cost) confined himself to sowing discord between the towns; but afterwards, when the communal militia had deserted him at the siege of Calais, the conflict first broke out between him and Bruges (14-36). Patched up by the grant of two new charters, it burst forth again in the insurrection known as the Terrible Whit-Wednesday (1438); and after meeting the Duke's forces in the open field, the city, which was suffering from the devastations of a pestilence, was in the end forced to give way. Bruges was only saved from destruction by the intervention of the foreign merchants; but, while the new charters were revoked or modified, the trades were deprived of their cherished right of unfurling their banners without waiting for the display of the Duke's-in other words of the right of taking up arms without his summons-and the sinews of future resistance were cut by the abolition of the communal contribution to the trades (mcendtgelt).
The turn of Ghent came a little later. On her refusal to pay a salt-tax to which Bruges and Ypres had submitted, a conflict began which lasted for four years (1449). After the Duke had twice stopped the ordinary administration of justice, the whole body of the people took the power into its hands, appointed three captains (hooftmannen), and at the sound of the bell assembled under arms on the Vrydags-markt. The Duke retorted by a decree of blockade and outlawry against Ghent. Bruges and the other towns jealously held aloof; and, though the Ghenters appealed both to the French suzerain and to the government of Henry VI of England, they had to fight out the contest virtually alone. In the city a ruthless terrorism maintained an unreasoning enthusiasm, till a long and sanguinary campaign ended, within sight of her towers, by the carnage of Gavre (1453). The settlement which ensued established the ducal authority as paramount in every important function of the administration of the city, abolished the most cherished guarantees of its previous independence, and among other humiliations inflicted on its representatives that of confessing the guilt of the suppressed rebellion in the French tongue. Some of the privileges of the prostrate city were indeed renewed in a new charter, the powers of the royal bailiff were restricted, and no mention was made of the obnoxious salt-tax. But the victory was not the less complete, and was followed by the revocation of the charters of other towns, although they had abstained from supporting Ghent.
The overthrow of the greatness of the Flemish communes was due in part to the anarchical spirit which more and more took possession of them as their public life passed into the ochlocratic stage, and which could not but impair their military discipline and defensive strength. What had here-and the state of things was not very different in Brabant-remained of the authority of the territorial prince was confined to the influence exercised by his bailli upon the administration of justice, and when possible upon the choice of magistrates and upon legislation. The patriciate-the poorters at Bruges and Ghent, to which the lignages corresponded in Brabant-still ordinarily determined the choice of the magistrates or aldermen; but in any season of agitation this power was sure to be swept out of their hands with all the judicial, financial, and other functions of government. Not un-frequently such outbursts of popular fury were provoked by the venality of the ruling classes, and the fear of their recurrence naturally inclined the patricians towards the ducal authority, unless when their advances were blindly repelled by the harshness of the sovereign, as in the later days of Charles the Bold. The real holders of power in the Flemish communes were now the working population at large, divided on a system varying in the several towns into trades or handicrafts (am-bachten); in Brabant these trades had before the accession of Philip effected a compromise with the lignages; in Holland and Utrecht their authority was great but not overwhelming; in Liege, as has been seen, it was paramount. In the three great Flemish towns, the great mass of the trades ordinarily asserted their power by the votes of their representatives, and on critical occasions by the organised resort to arms under their banners in the market-place (wapeninghe). By itself each trade formed not only a military, but also a social and religious unit, with its common purse for purposes of business, pleasure and charity, and often with a chapel and a hospital of its own. In the course of the fourteenth century the great craft of the Weavers had effected its predominance in each of the three cities, and became omnipotent at Ghent. Next to them came the Fullers, with whom they had many a sanguinary conflict. At Ghent there were besides these two great crafts 52 smaller crafts; and in one of them even the poorters, who constituted a guild without political power, had to inscribe themselves if desirous of becoming eligible for a magisterial office. At Bruges there were four great crafts-Weavers, Fullers, Shearers and Dyers-and the famous muster of October 10, 1436, included 48 smaller, from the butchers and bakers to the paternoster-makers; all these were combined into eight "members," with a ninth consisting of the four "free trades" of merchants, while the Ghent trades made up three "members" only. Each "member" (elsewhere called "nation") was presided over by a Grand Dean; and these officers were always, however its composition might from time to time vary, included in the representative committee (called collatie at Ghent) of the entire commune. The approval of this committee was doubtless asked by the commune, when in moments of supreme excitement hoqftmannen or captains were chosen by or for it- a term which seems in the first instance to have meant merely the heads of a poorters1 guild.
The absence of any durable league or alliance between the several communes was due to the narrow jealousy which they cherished towards one another and which has already been illustrated in the case of the relations between Bruges and Ghent. In 1423 Ghent successfully thwarted the attempt of Ypres to divert to herself the water-transport of wine and cereals; half a century later the Yprois joined the Ghenters in ignoring the apprehensions of Bruges as to the sanding-up of the Zwyn. To this pernicious jealousy was added the ill-will of the large against the smalle steden, and the tyrannous arrogance of the towns towards the rural districts; nor was it till 1438 that Duke Philip restored the rights of the Vrije (le Franc) of Bruges as a "fourth member" of Flanders.
The economic decline of Flanders in the fifteenth century has been obscured by the glowing descriptions of luxurious life in which the Court chroniclers of Philip and Charles abound. The great industry which had filled the famous Cloth-hall of Ypres steadily declined; till about the time of the death of Mary a city population which had formerly amounted to something like 100,000 had fallen to about one-twentieth of that total. Ypres, like some other of the Flemish towns, had suffered from special causes, but there was one which fundamentally affected them all. The fabrication of cloth in England had endangered the chief industry of Flanders already at the close of the fourteenth century; and, profiting alike by the instruction derived from the Flemish immigration which the troubles of the fifteenth century had superadded to earlier immigrations in the twelfth and fourteenth, and by the facilities of export offered by the Hanseatic merchants, she gradually drove Flemish cloth from the staple at Calais. The crucial question whether it were better to attract to the Flemish market the sale of this exported English cloth, or to exclude it altogether from competition with the native industry, was settled by a sort of compromise in favour of protection. But the repeated prohibitions of the importation of English cloth (1436-64) remained ineffectual, and the cloth industry was paralysed in the Flemish cities; though it maintained itself for a considerable time in the open country. Ghent was able to some extent to fall back upon its resources as a staple of corn; and at Bruges, where the banking business of Europe was in the hands of foreign merchants, a busy traffic continued to be carried on. In the struggle pertinaciously maintained by the latter city, from the close of the thirteenth century onwards, against the transference of her foreign trade to Antwerp, interest in the end prevailed over habit. The English Merchant Adventurers, who had set up a house at Antwerp early in the fifteenth century, by the middle of it had transferred themselves thither in a body. While the great transmarine trade was thus drawn away from Flanders proper to Brabant, and the depopulation of the former, which assumed alarming proportions under Charles the Bold, had begun already in the last years of his predecessor, the prosperity of the Northern Netherlands continued to increase. Navigation, with the great fishing and other industries, flourished; and little troubled by the remote wars of Charles the Bold, the Hollanders and their neighbours took consolation for his exactions in the cheapness of comforts which they came to reckon among the necessaries of life. In the struggles of the Dukes with the communes the nobles ranged themselves readily on the side of the former down to the close of Philip's reign-notably in Flanders, where Courtray had never been forgotten. Only very gradually under him, though more abruptly under his successor, the modern notion of the sovereign throned in majestic isolation superseded the feudal conception of the prince among his peers. To a large extent the change was doubtless due to the influence of the most splendid of contemporary Western courts. The pictures of its magnificence and luxury drawn by Jacques du Clercq and the elaborate episodes of feast and tournament, with which Olivier de la Marche loves to intersperse his narrative, bear out the assertion of Commines, that in the prodigality of enticements it surpassed any other Court known to his experience. In the Court guide composed by Olivier during the siege of Neuss where Charles displayed in the midst of war the stately ceremonial in which his pride delighted, he details the official system, and the elaborate etiquette which became the model of many generations. But the completeness of the external machinery furnished no safeguard against the venality and corruption inseparable from despotic rule, or against a dissoluteness of manners usually fostered by formal restraint. The lasciviousness, that pervaded the Court of Charles VII of France and made that of Edward IV a seminary of pleasant vice, readily found its way into the surroundings of Philip the Good, who had a large family of bastards, and mistresses by the score. The extravagant delights in which the nobles might share when not engaged in warlike service impoverished many and ruined some; and Charles the Bold's relations with his nobility were strained to the utmost by the military burdens which he imposed on them. Numerous defections followed, and suspicions of treason on the unfortunate field of Morat; only a handful of his nobles fought by his side at Nancy, and hardly any held out by his daughter in her hour of distress.
Of the relations between the Dukes and the clergy it must suffice to say that they were largely determined by considerations of interest, and drawn closer by the unpopularity of both prince and priesthood in the towns. Duke Philip contrived to place his illegitimate brother John in the see of Cambray, while two of his own bastards held the great ecclesiastical principality of Liege. Notwithstanding the Church's acquisitions of landed property, which here as elsewhere legislation sought to stay, the secular arm occasionally appealed to the spiritual for its aid against civic recalcitrance, and now and then supported the clergy when at issue with the towns. Yet such was the perversity of Charles the Bold, which left no section of his subjects ,to lament his downfall, that he, who at the beginning of his reign had protected the churches of Liege from sharing in the general doom of the city, was at its close generally hated by the Netherlands clergy, for having overtaxed them as he had their flocks. The principles and policy of the Burgundian dynasty found their most skilful agents in the highly-trained lawyers who, after studying in France, at Louvain, or in the University founded by Philip in Franche Comte, held high judicial office in the Netherlands. The ground had been in some measure prepared for them, at all events in Flanders, though it was precisely here that the judicial innovations of this period met with the most stubborn resistance. The so-called Audiences of the Count, based to some extent on the ancient usage of conveying "quiet truths" to him, led the way to the establishment of the Count's Council, which in 1385 Philip the Bold transformed into the Chamber of the Duke's Council in Flanders, subdividing it into a judicial and a financial Chamber. The latter remained at Lille, whence Philip the Good extended its operations to Namur, Hainault, and the towns on the Somme, while the two financial chambers of Holland and Zeeland, and of Brabant, were united by him at Brussels in 1463. The judicial Chamber on the other hand, which came to be generally known as the Council of Flanders, was, after many shiftings of place, finally brought back to Ghent in 1452; the Council of the Counts of Holland, and that of the Dukes of Brabant, having been alike reformed on the acknowledgment of Philip's sovereignty. In each case the substance of the reform lay in the introduction, by the side of the great lords and officials previously composing the Council, of trained lawyers, devoted to the maintenance of the ducal authority, and inclined to stimulate its self-consciousness. In order, however, to make this authority really supreme, and to avoid the possibility of any appeal to the Parliament of Paris, Philip in 1446, without putting an end to the Privy Council which ordinarily attended him, established a Grand Council, attached to his own person and entrusted with supreme judicial as well as political and financial functions. The centralising process was carried to its final stage by Charles the Bold's settlement of 1473, which maintained the Grand Council as a Council of State for the whole of his dominions, but transferred its financial functions to a Chamber finally fixed at Malines, absorbing into this the Brussels Chamber of Accounts. Charles also established a central judicial Court at Malines, which he sought to surround with all possible external dignity, frequently presiding in person at his sittings. But it remained unpopular, by reason of its slow Roman procedure, and the use of the French language to which it adhered; nor did it survive his fall.
As a matter of course, both Philip and Charles had from time to time to summon the "States" of the several lands; for there was no other way of obtaining the extraordinary aids (beden) required more especially for their wars. In the meetings of these "States" the attendance of the nobles gradually slackened, and (notably in Holland) only the larger towns were regularly represented. For the rest, no town or "State" was bound except by its own vote. It was again no innovation when, in 1428, Philip caused his settlement with Jacqueline to be confirmed by a meeting of representatives of all the lands whose allegiance she had formerly claimed. And it was only a step further when, after two previous meetings in 1463-4 he in 1465 formally called upon all the States of the Low Countries assembled at Brussels to recognise his son as his successor and Lieutenant general, and at the same time obtained from them a supply enabling him to carry on effective war against Louis XI. Charles the Bold thrice assembled these States-General; but they do not appear to have regularly comprised representatives of the whole of his Netherlands dominions. Thus this all-important institution never passed beyond an initial stage under either of the last two Burgundian Dukes; though Philip had faithful servants who advised him to trust those trusted by his subjects. Indeed, an outline of the constitutional system to which the occasional convocation of the States-General pointed has actually been preserved, dating from an early period of his reign.
After Philip had, like his father before him, found the communal militia of the Flemish towns untrustworthy in foreign war, he had for his military needs fallen back on the feudal services upon which the first two Burgundian Dukes had placed a precarious dependence; but the forces which he employed for the overthrow of the liberties of Ghent, and which his heir led forth against Louis XI on behalf of the League of the Common Good, already comprised a considerable element of mercenary soldiers-Picards and English in particular. The bandes (Pordonnance of Charles the Bold, a modified imitation of the new French model, were partly recruited among the nobility, partly made up of Italian heavy infantry and the indispensable English archers; and a select body-guard was formed on a similar basis. In 1471 he raised a permanent force of 10,000 men. The towns had to equip contingents at their own expense, but under officers named by the Duke. He improved his artillery, and paid attention to the fighting qualities of his navy. Though Charles was both an unskilful and an unfortunate commander, he was the creator of the standing army which proved so formidable under the rule of his descendants; much of his military expenditure was unavoidable, since the superiority of regular troops over feudal levies was already proved; and he deserves credit for his consistent niaintenance of discipline, more especially as it only increased his unpopularity.
It has frequently been assumed that the progress of art and literature in the Netherlands must have benefited by the patronage of an open-handed dynasty and a sumptuous Court. But, although the Renaissance owed not a little to the goodwill of Philip the Good and his family, they either used its culture as a political expedient or (in Voltaire's phrase) treated it as a passe-temps. The triumphs of a late and rich variety of the Gothic style attested by so many municipal and ecclesiastical edifices of the fifteenth century are due to the towns, although in so many instances their decadence had already set in. The case was different with the sister-art, which in Flanders was emancipated from Byzantine models (introduced by the Crusades) by the great painters to whom the miniaturists had formed a characteristic transition. When Hubert van Eyck dijed in 1420, he bequeathed the completion of the masterpiece of the school of Bruges to his younger brother John. Within fourteen further years the latter, who was soon made a member of Duke Philip's household, perfected a form of art that clothed its simple ideals of faith and devotion in the golden splendour of the age of its origin. Its latest great master, Memling, carried far beyond the borders of his native land the purest and profoundest pictorial expression of the mystic depth of religious sentiment.
Leaving aside other forms of art-among which something might be said of the attention paid by both Flemings and Walloons to that of music-we find that already under the House of Dampierre, the French literature patronised by the Counts, and the Flemish that was dear to the people, had gone far asunder. In the latter part of the fourteenth century, French historic prose as it were annexed the Netherlands as part of its proper domain. Froissart, the chief prophet of the last phase of chivalry radiating from the Court of the Burgundian Dukes and the exemplar of a whole line of chroniclers devoted to their dynasty, was himself a native of Hainault and spent the last quarter of a century of his life in retirement in Flanders. After him it became indispensable that every important Court or great noble household should possess its indiciaire or historiographer, and the House of Burgundy fostered a series of such literary officials, who placed on record every step in its advance, inflated its pride, and enhanced its fame. The list includes, besides Enguerrand de Monstrelet, on the whole a fairly candid writer, Jacques Lefevre de Saint-Remy, who in the main borrowed or abridged from him, the graphic Jacques du Clercq, Georges Chastellain, by his literary gifts as well as by his masculine outspokenness the most notable of Froissart's successors, and Jean Molinet, whose turgid artificiality and Euphuistic affectations render him a fit narrator of the decay and downfall of Burgundian greatness. All these (except Monstrelet) were officials of the ducal House, which was abandoned by Commines, the one narrator of the great struggle who writes in the spirit of practical statesmanship. Edmond of Dynter, who came into the service of Philip the Good from that of the Dukes of Brabant, furnished a long pragmatic history of the Jacqueline troubles and the complicated course of events in Gelderland.
Against the influences of a French-speaking Court and its literary mouthpieces, the native language and literature had to rely upon a power of resistance strengthened by movements springing from the heart of the people. Thus, though the so-called Chambers of Rhetoric, whose members went by the name of Rederijlcers, derived their title from France, the institution itself was clearly a continuation or renewal of the old confraternities or guilds devoted to the performance of religious plays which flourished in various parts of the Netherlands in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The Rederijkers, whose activity , cannot safely be asserted to have begun much before the fifteenth century, abandoned the domain of ecclesiastical tradition, thereby rendering collision with the Church inevitable sooner or later, and, as at the .same time the critical spirit asserted itself and the influence of the Renaissance enlarged the choice of materials, in their dramatic allegories or moralities (spelen van zinne) paid increasing attention to the treatment of their subjects and the form of their plays. Connecting their performances with the festivals that formed so material a part of the popular life of the Netherlands, they at the same time more and more acquired the character of literary associations whose activity extended to a wide variety of forms of composition. The most ancient of the Belgian Chambers, the Alpha et Omega of Ypres, seems to date from a time rather before the beginning of the fifteenth century; the famous In liefde bloeyende of Amsterdam was not instituted till 1517. Their number ultimately grew to an extraordinary extent, more especially in the Southern Netherlands; and the elaborate arrangements for establishing an organic union among them culminated in the meeting of deputies of all the Chambers at Malines in 1493 on the summons of Philip the Fair, and the setting-up in 1503 of a supreme Chamber at Ghent. But this late effort of a centralising policy was vehemently opposed, and its practical result was small. The Reformation found the Chambers instinctively sensitive to impulses moving the heart of the people-with what consequences is well known.
The popular religious movements noticeable in the Netherlands up to the close of the fourteenth century had on the whole remained ominously out of touch with the organisation of the Church. On the other hand, the Beguines and Beghards and Lollards had little or nothing to say against the doctrines of the Church of Rome; and neither the Wicliffites nor afterwards the followers of Hus seem to have attempted any propaganda in the Low Countries. The beginnings there of mystical speculation, of which the revered Johannes Rusbroek, born near Brussels in 1283, can in his age hardly have been a solitary representative, may possibly be traceable to the teachings of the "Master" Eckhart at Cologne. To Rusbroek's teachings both Tauler and Gerard Groote were listeners; they became a profound source of personal inspiration to many generations; nor has their echo died out to this day. To Geert (Gerard) Groote and his friend Florentius Radevynszoon, unlike him an ecclesiastic by profession, was due the establishment of ihefrater-huis at his native town of Deventer, which became the model of a series of similar foundations, intended as the homes of pious followers of God f resolved to lead a common life of prayer and labour, unencumbered by any hierarchical organisation and free from any system of irrevocable vows. A happy accident suggested that some of the young members of the Deventer settlement should contribute towards its support by clubbing together their earnings as copyists of manuscripts of the Scriptures and the Church Fathers, to which work they had as pupils of the Latin school in the town been encouraged by Groote. Hereby he had from the very outset of his endeavours blended the pursuit of learning and the furtherance of education with a life of piety and devotion. While extending and consolidating the system of ihefrater-htdzen, Florentius also carried out a cherished earlier design of his friend by the foundation, at Windesem near Zwolle, of a convent of canons regular. The half-century of the reigns of Philip and Charles witnessed a continuous extension in almost every part of the Netherlands, as well as in many districts of Northern Germany, both of the Houses of the Brethren of the Common Life and of the convents called the Windesem Congregations. The Church had come to recognise the agency of the Brethren as useful and praiseworthy; among those who extolled their labours was the Minorite Johannes Brugmann, the greatest popular preacher of his age in the Netherlands, and they were favoured by Duke Philip's brother, Bishop David of Utrecht.
The value of the Brethren's labours in the transcription of manuscripts has not been overestimated; but these labours belonged to a period that was passing away, and were only slightly supplemented by use of the new invention of the printing-press. On the other hand the work of education had always formed a chief purpose and essential part of the existence of the fraternity. The very large numbers of scholars attending its schools signally contributed throughout the Netherlands to lay the foundations of an enduring literary culture, and the fact that the teaching and training of these scholars was everywhere impregnated with the spirit of religious devotion determined the significance, to the most illustrious as well as to the humblest of them, of the advance of the New Learning. They met it less in the spirit of an enthusiastic humanism than in that of a steady demand for serviceable lore,, such as already gives so much substance to the writings of Cardinal Cusanus, a pupil of Deventer in its earlier days.
But a new educational epoch began with Alexander Hegius, who in 1474 was appointed head of the school at Deventer, and died near the close of the century, leaving behind him nothing but his clothes and his books, and a name which may fairly be called that of one of the great schoolmasters of the world. The list of the scholars trained at Deventer by him, or in his time, and that of his Paris fellow-student Badius Ascensius (Bade of Asche), includes, besides its chief and incomparable glory, the name of Erasmus, those of Conrad Mutianus, the pride of Erfurt in her brightest days, and Hermann von dem Busche, whom Strauss calls "the missionary of humanism." Johannes Sintius (Sin-theim), who taught with Hegius at Deventer and was himself a member of the Brotherhood, rendered a signal service to education in the Netherlands and in Germany by the successful revision of the Latin grammar which had held its own for centuries. But the schools of the Brethren were not seminaries of that narrower humanism which made the study of the classical tongues the sole method and all but the supreme object of education. They encouraged the reading of the Bible and the use of the service-books in the vulgar tongue, cherished the careful use and even the study of the vernacular, and thus brought about the beginning of a new educational movement which on the Upper Rhine was to lead to results such as it could hardly expect to command on the Lower. Many links connect the labours of the Brethren and the great movement which in the fifteenth century strove to quicken the religious life of the German people by bringing learning and education, and literature and art, into living harmony with it. Such a link may be found in the life of Rudolf Agricola, who died in 1485, and, although apparently not a pupil of the Brethren, was a native of the neighbourhood of Groningen, where one of their seminaries was placed. The last years of his life were spent at Heidelberg and Worms. He was a man of three tongues; but it was in theological rather than in philological study that he found the crown of his labours.
Of a very different character were the relations, in the Netherlands, between the Renaissance and University studies. The complete separation of academical from municipal government at Louvain, and the special attention devoted there to legal studies intended to prepare for the service of the central government, went some way towards estranging that University from popular and provincial interests; but the part which she was long to play in the history of the intellectual culture of the country was determined by the identification of her interests with those of Church and Clergy. The most illustrious of the earlier students and teachers of Louvain, Pope Adrian VI, in a sense typifies both her influence and that of the Brethren's school in which he had been previously trained. In matters concerning the Church he thought with vigour and honesty; but for "poetry" he had scant sympathy to spare. Especially in consequence of the influence exercised by the monastic orders, Louvain's academical character was even more conservative than that of Cologne. For the rest, the relations between Church and people in the fifteenth century were in the Netherlands affected by the general causes in operation throughout western Europe. The deep religious feeling of the people remained proof against the excesses alike and the shortcomings of the clergy; against a corruption which led even Philip the Good to approve of the attempt to divert the administration of charity into lay hands, and a license of life on the part of both seculars and regulars which defied repeated attempts at reform. Few protests against the doctrines and usages of the Church are noticeable in the course of the fifteenth century.
A more lasting influence was however being quietly exercised by a school of religious thinkers, to which in the latter half of the century two notable Netherlander belonged. The theology of John (Pupper) of Goch in the duchy of Cleves, who is believed to have been educated in one of the Brethren's schools, and who for nearly a quarter of a century presided over a priory of Austin canonesses founded by him at Malines in 1451, rejected the pretensions of mere outward piety and dead formalism. There is no proof that his writings which were read by few were known to Luther; but they must have come under the notice of Erasmus. The step to the assertion of the universal priesthood of Christian believers was taken by a bolder thinker, John Wessel (Goesevort), who, born at Groningen about the year 1420, was educated in the school of the Brotherhood at Zwolle, but afterwards studied in most of the chief universities of Europe. He was honoured by both Luther and Melanchthon, but he never took Orders, and his academic distinction is his chief title to fame (magister contradictionum). He enjoyed the patronage of Bishop David of Utrecht; but his favourite residence seems to have been the Frisian convent of Adwert, to which a species of high school was attached. Lover of truth as he was, and in one respect at least (viz. as to the doctrine of the Eucharist) even further advanced than Luther, he disliked any appeal to the passions of the people, and had as little thought as Bishop David himself of an open rupture with the Church.
When the death of Charles the Bold at Nancy was ascertained, Louis prepared to seize those parts of the ducal dominions which were nearest to his hand and indispensable for the future of the French monarchy, while keeping in view the ultimate acquisition of them all. He proclaimed his anxiety for the interest of Charles1 daughter and heiress whom he had held at the font; but the project of a marriage between Mary, now close upon her twenty-first year, and the Dauphin, a boy of eight, was full of difficulty, more especially as the suit of Maximilian had already reached an advanced point. This prince's father was naturally not less anxious to preserve the cohesion of the Burgundian inheritance than Louis XI had been prompt to impair it; and from him no revival was to be apprehended of those questions as to male or female fiefs which had of old divided the Netherlands. All the more important was the attitude of the country itself towards the French intervention.
Almost simultaneously with the prompt mission of the Count of Craon into Burgundy, Louis had despatched to Picardy and Artois the High Admiral of France (the Bastard of Bourbon), accompanied by Commines, to demand the surrender of all fiefs of the French Crown, and in the first instance of the towns on the Somme. His plans were vast, but according to Commines the reverse of vague. Namur, Hainault, and other parts near his borders were to be made over to some of his French vassals, and Brabant and Holland to German princes whom he would thus bind to his alliance. The French fief of Flanders he must have intended to secure for his Crown, of which it would still have been one of the brightest jewels. The towns on the Somme were one after the other-some by golden keys-opened to him; and the defection of Philip de Crevecceur placed him in possession of the Boulonnais. Mary's letter of January 23 to the ducal council at Dijon, protesting against French encroachments in the duchy of Burgundy and the Franche Comte, held out no prospect of armed resistance on her own part; and indeed any attempt of the kind was out of the question. At Ghent, where she was detained whether she would or not, and in the other towns of Flanders and Brabant, the confirmation of the tidings of her father's death had been received with general feelings of relief and joy, and throughout the Netherlands it was resolved to make the most of the opportunity.
By the beginning of February, the Four Members of Flanders, the three Estates of Brabant and Hainault, and the deputies of the States of Holland were assembled at Ghent. In the hands of these representatives of the vier landen, who explicitly took it upon themselves to act on behalf of the country at large, the executive remained till the Austrian marriage, and their united action imposed upon the lady of Burgundy the grant of the great charter of Netherlands liberties, and of the special charters which supplemented it. The importance of the promises comprised in the Groote Privilegie of February 10, 1477, lies not so much in its sweeping invalidation of all previous ducal ordinances antagonistic to communal privileges, or even in the assertion of principles more or less indigenous to all the Low Countries under Burgundian rule, as in the announcement of a definite machinery for their future government. It was, no doubt, of moment to provide that no war could be declared and no marriage concluded by the ducal sovereign without the consent of the States; to establish the necessity of their approval for fresh taxes, to confine the tenure of office to natives, to insist on the use of the national tongue in all public documents, to secure to the several provinces the control of the government's commercial policy and a check upon the use of its military force. But the chief political significance of the new constitution was directly constructive. While abolishing the central judicial Court or Parliament of Malines, it reorganised the Grand Council, attached to the person of the sovereign, on a broad representative basis. It was to consist, in addition to the princes of the dynasty, of the Chancellor and twenty-three other members named for life by the sovereign, nobles and trained lawyers in equal proportions, and assigned on a fixed scale to each of the provinces of the land. Every precaution was used for ensuring a paramount regard on the part of the Council for the privileges and usages of provinces and towns, and every facility provided for the assembling on their own motion of the States of the whole of the ducal dominions-the States-General.
The Great Privilege was supplemented by several special applications of its principles to the needs of particular provinces. These were the Flemish Privilege, obtained on the same day by the Four Members of Flanders, upon whose unanimous consent it made any future constitutional change depend, while no Flemish business was to be transacted except on Flemish soil and in the Flemish tongue; the Great Privilege of Holland and Zeeland (February 17), which contained similar provisions and granted full liberty to the towns to hold "Parliaments" of their own, in conjunction with the other States of the Netherlands or not; the Great Privilege of Namur (May), and the Joyeuse Entree granted to Mary on the occasion of her being acknowledged at Leuven as Duchess of Brabant (May 29), which, while returning to the usages confirmed at the accession of Philip the Good, added new liberties and doubled the measure of restrictions upon the ducal, power.
Thai fear of France rather than any affection for the Burgundian dynasty, or even any warmth of feeling towards Mary herself, had induced the representatives of the vier landen to come to terms with her, was shown by the military preparations upon which they simultaneously agreed. In place of the ducal army which had ceased to exist, 100,000 men were to be levied, of whom Flanders contributed more than one-third, and the rest in proportion. Raised by means of half-obsolete feudal obligations, or as communal or rural militia, this army, though its numbers were helped out by a system of substitutes, proved inadequate to its purpose; but the fact of its levy not the less shows that the mind of the Netherlands had been made up to resist the French advance.
Meanwhile Mary, still uncertain in which direction to turn for preservation, had sent an embassy to Louis XI, apparently just before her relations with the Flemish towns had been settled. She had little personal advice to depend upon. Her step-mother, the high-spirited Duchess Dowager Margaret, still relied on delusive hopes of English support. Mary's kinsman, Adolf, Lord zum B^ivenstein and brother of the Duke of Cleves, was both loyal to her and popular with her subjects, but as yet chiefly intent upon securing her hand for his own son. The time for taking the matronly advice of her former governess, Jeanne de Commines, Dame de Hallewin, had not yet come. Very naturally, therefore, she fell back upon the counsel of the men who had been faithful to his father's interests in his last and worst days, and who still sat in her Privy Council, though differing in their policy from the majority of its members. The Chancellor Hugonet (to leave out his other titles) and the Sire d'Himbercourt,' Count of Meghem-the former a Burgundian, the latter a Picard by birth-persuaded the youthful Duchess to allow them to negotiate with France. They were animated by the spirit common to lawyers and nobles in the heyday of the Burgundian rule, and shared by the Church (William de Clugny, protonotary of the Holy See, was afterwards arraigned for complicity with them). Towards France they were, attracted by a sympathy which needed no stimulus of sordid interests, whether or not they had from the first resolved that the end must be the acceptance of Louis XI's marriage-scheme and the reabsorption of the Burgundian in the French dynasty; while they detested a policy of concessions to the several portions of the crumbling monarchy of Charles the Bold.
Louis, on his side, was resolved to secure a party in Flanders. The agent whom he had first, in spite of Commines' warning, sent to Ghent for the purpose-no other than the notorious Olivier le Dain-had indeed been obliged to depart discomfited, and had only partially redeemed his credit by cleverly bringing into his master's power the city of Tournay, always well disposed towards France. Louis, however, when Mary's embassy reached him at Peronne, was at particular pains to show courtesy towards the Flemish towns in the person of the distinguished hooftman of Bruges, a member of the great patrician family of Gruuthuse. Little importance attached to the ambassadors' offers of the cession of all the possessions given up by Louis in the Treaty of Peronne, and the recognition of his suzerainty in Artois and Flanders; and as to the real nodus of the transaction, the question of a marriage engagement between Mary and the Dauphin, they declared themselves to be without instructions. While, therefore, the embassy returned to Flanders to report, Louis seems to have, by private communications with Hugonet and d'Himbercourt, secured their adherence to the marriage-scheme. At Arras, of which he took possession in March, 1477, he received a deputation from Ghent, and-playing the kind of double game which his soul loved-revealed to them the confidence reposed by Mary in the privy councillors detested by the city.
Thus, on the return of the civic deputies to Ghent, the storm broke out. The city was already in a condition of ferment; some of the partisans of the old regime had been put to death; and the agitation, which had spread to Ypres and as far as Mons, was increased by the claims put forward at Ghent on behalf of the restoration of Liegeois independence by the Bishop of Liege, urged on by William of Aremberg, Sire de la Marck, the "Boar of the Ardennes," and the terror of all who respected the ordinances of either God or man. Distracted by her fears, Mary seems actually to have countenanced Hugonet's final proposal that she should quit Flanders and place herself under the protection of the French King, when at the last moment Ravenstein induced her to reveal the design. He immediately informed the representatives of the vier landen, and the deans of the trades of Ghent, and on the same night (March 4) Hugonet, d'Himbercourt and de Clugny were placed under arrest. A rumour having been spread that their liberation was to be attempted, and news having arrived of the resolute advance of the French forces, new disturbances followed; and Mary issued an ordinance naming a mixed commission of nobles and civic officials to try the accused with all due expedition (March 28). She afterwards interceded in favour of one or both of the lay prisoners (for de Clugny was saved by his benefit of clergy), and at a later date expressed her sympathy with the widow and orphans of d'Himbercourt, the extent of whose share in the Chancellor's schemes remains unknown. After being subjected to torture, both were executed on April 3. They met with short shrift at the hands of their judges; but they cannot be said to have been sacrificed to a mere gust of democratic passion; and Mary and her Council, and the other Estates of the Netherlands assembled at Ghent, were with the city itself and the sister Flemish towns one and all involved in the responsibility of the deed.
There was now no solution left but war, and at Eastertide Louis XI advanced from Artois into Hainault. At the same time no doubt could remain as to the way in which the question of Mary's marriage must be settled. An English engagement such as the Duchess Dowager desired was hopelessly impeded by the disagreement between the factions at Edward's Court, one of which favoured the claims of the Duke of Clarence, while the other supported Earl Rivers, the brother of Queen Elizabeth. At Ghent there was for a time a strong wish that Mary would bestow her hand upon Adolf of Gelders, the friend of the towns, who had been liberated from prison on Charles' death, and proclaimed Duke notwithstanding Mary's protest. He had entered himself as a member of one of the trades of Ghent, and had been named commander of the Flemish levies against France. But, instead of gaining Mary's hand, he was destined to fall fighting in her service before Tournay (June), leaving his children Charles and Philippa as hostages in her hands, though the former had been proclaimed Duke in Gelderland. Of Mary's kinsmen of the Cleves family two were still talked of for her hand-the Duke's son and subsequent successor, John, and Philip, the son of his brother Adolf zum Ravenstein. Philip had been brought up with Mary, whose father was said to have at one time favoured the idea of their future union, agreeably it was rumoured to Mary's own wishes. But after the English project had come to naught the Duchess Dowager transferred all her influence to the only remaining suitor, the selection of whom promised high political advantage; and the choice actually fell upon Archduke Maximilian of Austria.
The vigilance of the Emperor Frederick III had long prepared this match, and even the catastrophe of Nancy had been unable to baulk his purpose. Now, while at Bruges Mary was seeking to satisfy a clamorous demand for a suppression of the pretensions of le Franc, the imperial envoys arrived to urge upon her the acceptance of the Austrian suit (April 18); and Mary formally accorded it. On May 21 Maximilian, who had been delayed by the slackness of the response made by the Estates to the imperial appeal for support of his enterprise (the Wittelsbachs were jealous about Hainault and Holland, while the King of Bohemia remembered the Luxemburg connexion), at last started on his expedition; and after passing through Louvain and Brussels, where he was well received, at the head of a body of near 8000 horsemen, arrived at Ghent. At six o'clock on the following morning his marriage with Mary was solemnised by the Bishop of Tournay, in the presence of the Count of Chimay and the hooftman of Bruges, "min jonker" of Gelders and his sister bearing the tapers before the bride. He had not come a day too soon. Part of Hainault was already in Louis' hands, and Brabant and Flanders were alike threatened; but, now that the political situation had so decisively altered to his disadvantage, he paused. Mary, in securing the protection of which she stood in need against the contending influences around, and the popular bodies confronting her, had at the same time gained for the Netherlands the alliance of a House not less resolved upon withstanding the encroachments of France in the West of the Empire, than it was upon resisting Hungarian ambition and the Turkish danger in the East. On no other conditions could the House of Austria command support from the princes of the Empire, or continue to hold authority there. With England also the Austrian marriage at once placed the Netherlands government on close terms of friendship.
At first things went smoothly with Archduke Maximilian in the Netherlands. Born in 1459, he was but a boy in years and little else than a boy in mind, notwithstanding the completeness of the education which he afterwards professed to have received through the care of the old Weisskunig", and the solemn purposes which he ascribed to himself as the "dear hero" Tewrdanck. But at no time of his life was he wanting either in courage or in elasticity of disposition. On September 18 Louis was found ready to conclude a favourable truce at Lens, having enough on his hands in consequence of the reconciliation of the Swiss to the House of Austria, and the menace of an English as well as an Aragonese invasion. And though in 1478 the campaign recommenced with much show of ardour, it only ended in another truce (July). The Flemish army under Maximilian's command, reinforced by Swiss mercenaries and English archers, had driven the French back upon Arras; Tournay had been retaken; and Louis promised to restore all towns taken by him in Hainault.
But already there were signs of impatience in Flanders. Maximilian had immediately on his marriage sworn to respect the privileges of Ghent and Bruges; and loud complaints were now heard of the misconduct of the German and other foreign soldiery, while Ghent was wroth at the imposition of a war-duty on small-beer. This led to an outbreak, in which three of the trades were involved and which, if Molinet is to be believed, had some curiously Catilinarian characteristics. It was quenched, chiefly through the exertions of Jan van Dadizeele, a loyal Flemish noble who now or afterwards was named Bailli of Ghent, and who in the following year (1479) so effectively reorganised the Flemish forces, of which he was named captain-general, that Olivier de la Marche describes these well-disciplined levies as the largest army he ever saw put into the field by Flanders. Town and country had combined to furnish it forth; and not less than five hundred nobles served with it on foot. With this truly national force the young Archduke gained his first victory at Guinegaste near Terouanne (August, 1479); but it could not be followed up, and the capture of the Holland herring-fleet caused renewed discouragement. Though in 1480 Maximilian gained possession of Luxemburg and in 1481, mainly through his general Count Adolf of Nassau, reduced Gelderland, where the insurgents had actually entered into alliance with France, the principal struggle made no progress, and the Archduke refused to be led away by the daring schemes of the Duchess Dowager for an Anglo-Burgundian invasion and partition of France.
His position was already growing difficult, and though the popularity of Mary, who in June, 1478, after the death of their first infant, had borne him a son, seems to have been on the increase, ill-will accumulated against her German consort. Maximilian's, doubtless reluctant, consent to place himself up to a certain point under the guidance of the Members of Flanders, and to allow the communal authorities of Ghent to interfere as to appointments in his household, had no conciliatory effect. In October, 1481, a grievous catastrophe occurred in the murder of Jan van Dadizeele, whose services to the House of Burgundy had not ended at Guinegaste. The arrest by Maximilian's orders of persons unsuspected of complicity with this dark crime, while others actually suspected of it were left untouched, led to an open quarrel between the ducal government and the Ghent magistrature. Such had been the jealousy of the Archduke excited in the Ghenters that after the birth of his third child Margaret (February, 1480) they had attempted to secure the control of both her and her brother Philip; and though it had finally been arranged that the children were to reside in the several chief provinces in succession, the Ghenters refused to give them up to Brabant when the first term of four months was at an end. In September, 1481, a third son was born; but he survived for a few months only. His mother's death soon followed. On March 27, 1482, the results of a neglected fall from her horse proved fatal to the Duchess Mary. Pitiable as was the decease of one so young, and so full of life and happiness, from a political point of view it threatened to prove disastrous to those whom she left behind her.
In accordance with the declaration put forth immediately before their marriage, Maximilian's authority in the Netherlands had come to an end with the life of his consort; and his claims to its continuance must be based on his parentage of their two surviving children, and Philip the young heir in particular. But these children were in the power of Ghent, where, as throughout Flanders, Maximilian was profoundly unpopular. Moreover, the feeling was widespread that apart from his personal prowess the advantages looked for from his union with the Duchess Mary had proved illusory. Neither the Emperor nor England had come forward as allies against the French invasion; and at home all was disturbance and disorder. Holland and Zeeland were once more torn by the old faction-feuds; in Gelderland Arnhem was ready to give the signal for renewed revolt; Utrecht had driven out its Burgundian Bishop. Meanwhile Flanders was exposed to the full force of the French advance; her trade and industry were at a standstill. Ghent and her sister-towns had no desire for annexation to France; but neither did they wish to bear the burden of a war which must end either thus or by covering the hated German prince with glory. They therefore resolved to force him into a peace with France which would leave them free, under the nominal rule of his youthful son. In the three years' struggle which ensued before Ghent lay at Maximilian's mercy, he was obliged to all intents and purposes to rely upon himself. Lower Austria, with parts of Styria and the adjoining duchies, were in the grasp of King Matthias Corvinus, and the Emperor had to depend upon the scant sympathy and goodwill which he could find among the electors at Frankfort. A loud cry arose in the Austrian dominions for the presence of the valiant and vigorous Archduke; but instead of giving way, as so often afterwards, to his natural impetuosity, he resolved so far as his hereditary interests were concerned to bide his time.
While in Holland and Zeeland as well as in Hainault Maximilian was at once acknowledged as guardian of his son and regent on his behalf (mambourg), Flanders and Brabant refused to concede this position to him, except under the control in each case of a Council named by the province. Yet on every side faction was raging. At Liege William de la Marck savagely murdered the Bishop and thrust his own son into his place, defying Maximilian and the nobles of Brabant and Namur so long as he knew himself supported by France; nor was it till 1485 that after new outrages he fell into the Archduke's hands and was righteously put to death at Maestricht. New troubles had begun at Utrecht; in Holland the leaders of the government set up at Hoorn by the Hoeks were put to death by the Kabeljaauws and the town pillaged; and Haarlem only escaped similar treatment by payment of an onerous fine. In the midst of this confusion, Maximilian had to allow the States of the Netherlands, assembled at Alost with the exception of Luxemburg and Gelders, to open a formal negotiation with Louis XI (November), with whom they had been for some time in secret communication. Nor was he able to refuse his assent to the basis on which, in December, 1482, the Peace of Arras was actually concluded, viz. the marriage of his daughter Margaret to the Dauphin, with Artois and Burgundy for her dowry. It was further settled by this peace that Philip should do homage to Louis for Flanders, so that the old relation of vassalage against which Charles the Bold and his father had so long struggled was restored, and a pretext for fresh intervention established. But the Flemish communes, satisfied with the restoration of free commercial intercourse with France, would probably have been prepared to sacrifice Namur and Hainault into the bargain, and Louis, now near his end, seemed to have lived long enough to master the House of Burgundy. Maximilian, who had been left out of the Council of four, appointed, with Ravenstein at its head, to carry on the government of Flanders with the Estates on behalf of Philip, was powerless, and unable to obtain the annual pension granted to him about this time except by compliance. In March, 1483, he finally accepted the Peace of Arras, and without any interposition on his part, his daughter was transferred into the guardianship of the French King, and on June 23 solemnly betrothed to the Dauphin.
Soon after this Maximilian was able to strengthen his personal position by a successful intervention against the Hoek revolt at Utrecht. On returning to his capital Bishop David had been brutally insulted and imprisoned at Amersfoort, and Engelbert of Cleves had been set up in his place. At the head of a force of 12000 men, commanded by a staff of celebrated captains, the Archduke laid siege to Utrecht, which capitulated in September and was condemned to pay a heavy fine. Bishop David once more held his entry into the prostrate city as the spiritual ruler of his see (he died peacefully as such at Wyk in 1496); but Maximilian was acknowledged as the administrator of its temporalities. It was in the course of this successful campaign that he received the news of the death of Louis XI. Though this event could hardly lead to the undoing of the Peace of Arras, it could not but reassure him as to the future relations between France and the Flemings, for he was not aware how much of her father's spirit survived in Anne de Beaujeu, under whose control the government of Charles VIII was carried on during the first eight years of his reign. He now declared the powers of the Council of Flanders to have determined, and a storm of protests and charges ensued, in the course of which the Flemings invoked the authority of Charles VIII, which Maximilian refused tb acknowledge. Towards the end of 1483, after the French government 1 had ingratiated itself with the great Flemish towns by renouncing for ten years the appellate jurisdiction claimed by the Parliament of Paris, negotiations for an alliance ensued between the States of Flanders and Brabant and the assembly which, under the name of States-General, met at Tours in 1484. But the popular entente of earlier days was not to be renewed between the decaying communes and a people over which the power of the monarchy was already paramount.
Meanwhile the quarrel between Maximilian and the Flemings became more acute. The Knights of the Golden Fleece at Termonde declared his headship of their Order at an end, though he might still preside over its meetings during his son's minority. Bruges refused him admission if attended by more than a dozen companions, and sent to the block several persons who had laid a plot on his behalf. Humours of a similar plot were rife at Ghent; and Maximilian had clearly accepted the challenge of a people resolved upon completely throwing off his authority. He began by sending the faithful Olivier de la Marche to lodge complaints with the French government against the communes, and succeeded in provoking so much distrust in Flanders that, though a French as well as a Flemish army took the field in 1484, no decisive blow was struck. The Flemings however flooded Brabant, where the Archduke's appeal for support of the dynasty was very coolly received, and Count de Romont, the commander of the Flemish levies, proclaimed himself lieutenant-general of Duke Philip against his father. In January, 1485, Maximilian by taking Oudenarde snowed his determination to make himself master of Ghent. But after defeating the Ghenters under their own walls, and capturing their great banner, he was obliged by a mutiny for pay among his troops to retreat, while the French under Crevecceur (des Querdes) entered the city. Soon nothing remained to the Archduke but Brabant and Hainault. Fortunately, however, for him with the Ghenters the powers that were could never be in the right; and such a storm of popular indignation was raised by the misconduct of the French soldiery, that Crevecceur in his turn retired upon Tournay.
The French faction were now at the mercy of their adversaries. On June 21 Maximilian held his entry into Bruges, which had set the example of recognising him as mambourg. At Ghent, William Jlin and another leader of the French faction were decapitated, while Coppenole (said to be in actual enjoyment of a pension as a member of the royal household) and the rest only saved themselves by flight. On June 28 Maximilian, while confirming the privileges of Ghent and Bruges, was by the former also recognised as mambourg, and declared a general amnesty, with however some important exceptions. On July 6 Duke Philip was delivered into his father's hands at a village near Ghent, which they hereupon entered at the head of 5000 men, instead of the stipulated 500. Before night the trades were under arms on the Vrydagsmarkt, and in the morning a terrible conflict must have ensued, had not Maximilian listened to counsels of moderation and delay. Sending his son out of Ghent, he returned for a final settlement; and the end was the complete submission of the city, which was carried out on July 22. Thirty-three ringleaders were executed, many more sent into banishment, and a heavy fine was inflicted. Many of the old charters were destroyed, and the entire constitution of the city was subjected to revision by a commission. After taking Philip to Malines, there to be educated under the superintendence of the Duchess Dowager, and judiciously declining an offer of the Liegeois to put him in possession of their city, Maximilian at last departed to Germany. He left the Netherlands under the military guardianship of Philip of Cleves and his other captains.
When, in the summer of 1486, Maximilian returned to the Netherlands as Roman King, the glamour of this new dignity ensured him a good reception in Brabant and the other provinces through which, as mambourg, he accompanied Duke Philip on a sort of progress; and he was more than ever intent upon taking vengeance on France. But, though he openly broke the Peace of Arras by occupying Omer, which was again taken by Crevecceur with Terouanne in the following year, these campaigns were of no real importance; his chief designs were concerned with the future of Britanny-a vital question for France. It was the fear of a war no longer defensive and of measurable proportions which, together with the slow rate of his military progress in the Low Countries, notwithstanding the oppressive presence of his large bodies of alien troops-German and Swiss mercenaries in particular -led to the renewal of agitation in Flanders against the Austrian regime. Of what advantage had it proved to the economic interests of the good towns? In 1478 the inte/rcursus had indeed been concluded which placed commerce and navigation between England and the Netherlands on a new footing of security, and King Richard III had granted to the Netherlands merchants in England the lower tariff of duties enjoyed by their German competitors (a privilege taken away again by his successor). But, for reasons already stated, the English trade had more and more passed to Brabant and Holland, and Flanders found her industry and commerce increasingly dependent upon her relations with France.
Stirred up by the return of Adrian Vilain, Lord of Rasenghien, who had fled from the city at the time of the execution of William Rin, the mordans laingages at Ghent, as Molinet calls them, complained more loudly than ever of imposts and military oppression, and Maximilian was fain to summon the States of the chief provinces to Ypres, while at the same time he met the deans of the trades in person at Bruges and promised-sincerely or not-to enter into peace negotiations with France. But the Ghent democracy, brooking no delay, sent forth a force which seized Courtray, obliging it to take the oath to Duke Philip and Ghent, and holding it against Philip of Cleves. On February 1, 1488, the trades of Bruges in their turn took up arms, and the Carpenters occupied the gate towards Ghent. Then ensued the strangest and most humiliating episode in the whole history of Maximilian's experiences in the Netherlands. The market-place was turned into a fortified camp, and for the better part of four months the Roman King was detained, first in his own lodging; then, as an actual prisoner in the Cranenburg, a house by the market; afterwards, when his soldiery had been driven out of the city, in the fortified mansion of Ravenstein. Bruges itself, afraid of Antwerp and plied with advice by Ghent (whence at one time several thousands arrived before the gates, • and later Coppenole appeared to proclaim the Peace of Arras), passed gradually into a state of terrorism, during which a series of executions of the King's followers took place under his very eyes. In the midst of these proceedings the Brughelins sent forth their levies against Maximilian's garrisons in other towns, seizing Middelburg and putting several nobles of his party to death; while the Ghenters on their own account committed similar excesses. Maximilian, although he at first gave fair words to the trades and afterwards made a pathetic appeal for consideration, bore himself throughout with courage and dignity.
At last, after Pope Innocent VIII had issued his censures at Bruges, it became known there that the Emperor in person was marching upon Flanders for the delivery of his son. Hitherto the States assembled round Duke Philip at Malines had transacted in a very business-like way with the other States at Ghent; but by the middle of May it was understood that now or never an arrangement must be made with the captive King. He was liberated on condition that he would withdraw from Flanders within four days of his deliverance, and that he approved, as did his son-in-law the King of France, the solemn League and Union entered into on May 1 by the States of several of the provinces for the sake of peace and good government, and for the maintenance of the Treaty of Arras.
He had thus yielded everything. But, though he had sworn a solemn oath and accepted a heavy pecuniary payment, it was felt that the nodus materiae lay in the question of hostages; nor was it till Philip of Cleves had arrived at Bruges in this capacity that the King was at last allowed to depart. On May 24 the Emperor arrived at Louvain at the head of a well-appointed army, and Maximilian, as a prince of the Empire (not "for his own quarrel"), felt himself compelled to take part in the punitive campaign against Flanders. On both sides the necessity was put forward of protecting the rights of Duke Philip; and, after the Germans and Walloons had seized Deinze, Ravenstein protested that he must take up arms in defence of his liege lord even against the Emperor. Henceforth the hostage became the guiding spirit of Flemish resistance to Maximilian. In September, 1488, he was received with acclamation at Brussels; soon Louvain and the smaller towns of Brabant fell into his hands. Flanders had likewise remained unreduced, while Maximilian was operating on the Lys and in Zeeland; Ypres was occupied by French troops, and the siege of Ghent, begun by the Emperor in person, had been abandoned. By October Frederick III had returned to Germany, and in the last days of the year Maximilian followed. In vain he had assembled the loyal States at Malines; for the time his field of action lay elsewhere. The Duke of Britanny had died in September, and the struggle with France would have to be resumed on a perhaps more favourable field. But his present task was to reconquer Austria.
Maximilian left behind him as governor-general, with full powers, Duke Albert of Saxony (Albertus Animosus, founder of the Albertine line), who in the organisation and conduct of armies was unsurpassed by any German commander of his age. With resources inferior to those which had been at Maximilian's disposal, Albert had in the first instance to suppress a fresh outbreak of the Hoeks in Holland, who, under the leadership of young Francis van Brederode, after surprising Rotterdam, organised a petty warfare in the style of the gueux of later days. But the States of Holland resolved on putting an end to this Jonker-Franzen war, and the rebel fleet was finally all but annihilated at Brouwershaven (July, 1490), Brederode himself dying soon afterwards of his wounds. Several of the other Hoek leaders died a violent death at Delft; but one of them threw himself into Sluys, which was in the hands of Philip of Cleves. In 1489 Albert restored the authority of Maximilian in Brabant, where the Peace of Frankfort, concluded for temporary purposes with France by the Roman King, was eagerly welcomed, for Bruges and Louvain had suffered unspeakably from war and pestilence. But it was some time before, at Montils-les-Tours, Maximilian's mambournie over Flanders was likewise acknowledged, and Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres undertook to sue to him for pardon, a commission being appointed to ascertain and restore the privileges enjoyed by them under Philip the Good and his successor.
The ink, however, was hardly dry upon the so-called Treaty of Flanders when, during Albert's temporary absence in Germany, the communal insurrection broke out afresh. At Bruges George Picquanet, elected hooftman, held out for a time against famine and Engelbert of Nassau, by whose soldiery he was ultimately killed. At Ghent, in May, 1491, a cordwainer named Remieulx, after admitting some of Philip of Cleves' adherents, slew the Grand Dean, and Coppenole was put in his place. A strange conflict ensued between this demagogue and one Arnoul Leclercq, a labourer who had been named hooftman by a body of 5000 peasants previously organised under arms by Coppenole and his brother, both of whom were in the end put to death. Then a deputation of notables waited upon Duke Philip at Malines; the usual penalties were once more inflicted, the wearing of white hoods was prohibited for ever, and a Peace of Ghent was once more proclaimed (June, 1492). Meanwhile, Albert had on his return been occupied with a rising in Kennemerland, Friesland, and the Texel, stirred up by emissaries from Alkmaar, where followers of Brederode had seized the power. The insurgent peasants bore banners of our Lady and certain saints of local repute, together with a strange ensign consisting of a loaf of rye-bread and a large lump of green cheese. (Arnoul Leclercq at Ghent had borne a plough in his banner, and we remember the Bundschuh.) After much debate they were admitted into Haarlem, which had itself been disaffected; but on the approach of Albert the peasant host, left to itself, was massacred at Hemskerke. Haarlem, Alkmaar, and the smaller towns all humbled themselves before him; and the Landsknechte, with the art-treasures of Haarlem stuck in their hats, prefigured their comrades of the sacco di Roma (May). It remained for Albert to finish his task by the reduction of Sluys, where Philip of Cleves, whom the death of his father during the siege made Lord zum Ravenstein, still held out. The slow progress of the siege, even after in 'July English vessels, sent by Henry VII, had arrived to take part in it, finds its explanation in the tenderness invariably shown by the House of Burgundy, and by Maximilian, to his wife's kinsman. In October Ravenstein very leisurely surrendered Sluys, and three years later he was formally acquitted of any imputation against his honour.
Meanwhile, Maximilian had (towards the end of 1490) made the great cast, and married by proxy Anne, the heiress of Britanny. Shortly before this he had concluded a close alliance with Henry VII, mediated by Ferdinand of Aragon. (For Flanders this was all the more important, since in 1486 Bruges had sought to gain English support by granting free importation of English cloths and in 1488 had entreated the new King to aid her against the Emperor and concluded a new commercial treaty with this object.) Although this had been a fortunate year for Maximilian, he could not expect that his successes would be crowned by the tame submission of France to such a provocation. In November, 1491, Anne of Britanny surrendered Rennes, and in the following month she gave her hand to Charles VIII. But Margaret of Burgundy was still detained in France, and nothing had been said as to the restitution of her dowry. Yet in the Netherlands there was little sympathy with the insulted Regent; and early in 1492 the French Court provided him with a new difficulty in the shape of a pretender in Gelderland. Charles of Egmond had in 1487 been taken prisoner at Bethune and carried off to France. The Geldrian towns eagerly came forward to pay the ransom demanded by the French government; but without its support they had not sufficient resources to place Charles in the seat of his ancestors. His struggle against the Burgundian authority accordingly proved long and arduous. At first Maximilian showed himself willing to take the unusual course of referring the question of the government of Gelderland to the arbitration of the Empire; then a truce was concluded in 1497, with a view to a partition of the duchy; but soon afterwards war broke out again, Maximilian taking the field in person. In 1503 Philip, now King of Castile, consented to a compromise at Rosendal, which left Charles in possession of the Nymwegen and Roer-monde districts. But he played fast and loose with the treaty, and as the ally of France by 1514 at last succeeded in possessing himself of the entire duchy. His later struggles which only terminated with his death in 1538, and in the course of which he actually sought to make over his duchy to France, must be left unnoticed here.
The recovery of Artois, whose capital Arras was surprised by the Landsknechte after the fall of Sluys, would, together with his reconquest of Franche Comte, have encouraged Maximilian to attempt to secure the whole of his daughter's dowry, notwithstanding the pacifications concluded by Charles VIH's government with the Kings of England and Aragon (November, 1492-January, 1493). But the unwillingness of the Netherlands to continue the War, added to his other cares, induced him to accept Swiss mediation for the conclusion of a truce with France, followed in May, 1493, by the Peace of Senlis. The territorial question was settled as nearly as possible on the uti possidetis basis; so that Artois (and the Franche Comte) remained with the House of Burgundy, though Arras was ultimately to revert to France in exchange for certain towns now occupied by her. Margaret, all obligations between her and King Charles having been cancelled by the treaty, returned home joyously, calling out Vive Bowrgogne to the people who flocked round her at St Quentin, and receiving at Valenciennes a popular welcome. After narrowly escaping a design of the Landsknechte to seize her in pledge for outstanding pay, she took up her residence at Namur.
In 1494, the year after that of his father's death, Maximilian returned to the Netherlands. His immediate purpose was to superintend the transfer of their government to Philip, now fifteen years of age, and also to settle affairs in Gelderland; but the Eastern Question was now uppermost in his mind, as was shown by his solemn assumption at Antwerp of the insignia of the crusading Order of St George, and by his appeal to all Christian potentates to follow his example (October- November). Flanders was tranquil; Crevecreur lay dead; Ravenstein was among those who paid their respects to the young Duke on his solemn entry into the great mercantile city. The presence there of another visitor- the pretended Richard Duke of York-which gave rise to an unseemly Jracas, reflected little credit on the discretion of the House of Burgundy. He was the protege of the Duchess Dowager, and Maximilian was quite ready to risk a quarrel with England on the chance of the dethronement of the faithless Tudor. Henry VII replied by removing the staple for English wool, tin, and other products to Calais, stopping all intercourse between his subjects and the Netherlands, and expelling all Flemings from England. The Burgundian government retorted (April, 1494, and January, 1495) by prohibiting the importation of English cloth; and for two years there was a complete cessation of commercial dealings between the two countries. Finally, Duke Philip was prevailed upon to promise not to admit any enemy of England into his dominions; and in February, 1496, the Magnus Intercursus proclaimed on both , sides freedom of trade, i.e. the right of trading without special license or pass, and that of fishery. Though there was nothing novel in this famous treaty, it offered a solid foundation for the establishment of satisfactory mercantile relations; but time could hardly fail to be on the side of the English, to the sale of whose cloth the Netherlands were now open-with the important exception however of Flanders, where restrictions were still maintained. Even here it soon became difficult to confine this sale to the staples of Antwerp and Bruges-or from 1501 to Bruges alone- to limit it to large pieces, and to prevent the wearing of it by natives. And Philip's well-meant endeavours to revive the sunken prosperity of Bruges were seen to be hopelessly out of date. After in 1502 the Magnus Intercursus had been solemnly renewed, Henry VII, angered by the refusal of the Netherlands government to assist him in laying hands on the fugitive Earl of Suffolk (Edmund de la Pole), brought about a fresh stoppage of trade between the two countries, which lasted till 1506.
It was not only in commercial matters that Duke Philip and his advisers showed a disposition to emancipate themselves from his father's control. Maximilian had placed at the head of the Privy Council, composed of fourteen members, Count Engelbert of Nassau, the faithful servant of three generations of the House of Burgundy, but the leading voice in it was that of William de Croy, Seigneur de Chievres. He and those who thought with him resented as strongly as the Flemish and Brabancon towns the continuance in the land of the German soldiery, to whose chief commander Albert of Saxony the ducal treasury had pledged Haarlem and several other important places pending the payment of a heavy debt. The influence of de Chievres and the great nobles in general was accordingly in favour of maintaining peace with France, although in the Gelders difficulty above all she showed so little regard for Netherlands interests; and Philip on the whole inclined to follow these pacific counsels.
In May, 1494, Maximilian had at Kempten intervened in a dispute between Groningen and the rural districts of West-Friesland encroached upon by the city. His decision had been in favour of Groningen; and though he was anxious to keep the peace, further encroachments on her part induced the Schieringers of the Westergao in their straits to invite the redoubtable Albert of Saxony to assume authority as governor. The end came three years later when Albert was once more offered the governorship by the terrified towns of Sneek and Franeker, and his lieutenants subjugated the land by a series of manoeuvres, crafty and cruel like those of a campaign against savages, and ending with a battle of artillery against pikes, and the capture of Leeuwarden (June-July, 1498). Maximilian now bestowed the whole of Friesland, including Groningen, upon Albert with the title of hereditary governor (potestat), reserving to himself the right of redeeming West-Friesland on the payment of 100,000 florins. The greater part of his own debt to Albert, which amounted to more than treble this sum, had been taken over by Philip; but an ugly suspicion remains as to Maximilian's motives in the transaction. After Albert, who had been detained by the Gelders War, had himself arrived in Friesland, the rough insolence of one of his sons drove the country into rising once more against his yoke; and he was laying siege to Groningen, which this time had joined hands with its former adversaries, when death overtook him at Emden (September, 1500). Edzard of East-Friesland, to whom Groningen and the Omme-lande now did homage, summoned Charles of Egmond to his aid and was supported by a native rising under a peasant known as the Great Pier, who afterwards rejoiced in the title of "Admiral of the Zuiderzee." At last, in 1515, Duke George of Saxony agreed to dismiss the "Black Band" of soldiery, formerly in Egmond's service, which had carried fire and sword through the land, and to accept the redemption of the country on payment of the sum agreed upon between his father and the Roman King. Charles, who in this very year assumed the government of the Netherlands, at last solved the Frisian problem by the reduction of the country, followed by the submission of Groningen to the imperial authority.
Slight indeed had been the importance of that problem on the horizon of Maximilian's speculations. The great matrimonial plan, which he seems to have devised in part as early as 1491, was fully carried out within six years. In August, 1496, the infanta Juana was wedded at Antwerp to Duke Philip, and on Palm Sunday of the following year his sister Margaret, after intrepidly encountering many dangers on the way, gave her hand at Burgos to the infante Don John. Soon however a tragic succession of deaths-those of Don John, his posthumous child, Juana's elder sister Queen Isabel of Portugal, and her son Don Miguel, left Juana heiress-apparent of the united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon (1500). In the same year her eldest son Charles was born at Ghent; and the city, with no foreknowledge of what she was afterwards to suffer at his hands, was loud in her rejoicings. But vast as was the prospect now opened before Philip, he was, so far as the conduct of Netherlands affairs was concerned, brought little nearer to the schemes of Maximilian's foreign policy. An interview between father and son arranged by Ravenstein and others in May, 1496, seems indeed for a time to have made Philip swerve from his policy of friendliness towards France, and soon afterwards he dismissed from his council Francis van Busleyden, Provost of Liege, supposed to be an active adversary of the Austrian influence. But already in 1497 he helped to thwart the exertions of Maximilian in Gelderland, and, on the accession of Louis XII in 1498, crossed the endeavours of his father, who had actually invaded Burgundy, by opening negotiations with the new French King. In the Treaty of Brussels Philip promised homage for Artois and Flanders (performed in 1499), and personally renounced all claims on the duchy of Burgundy, in return for the restoration of the Picard towns reserved at Senlis; while Maximilian, after taking Franche Comte, gradually became inclined to treat in his turn for peace with France.
Thus it was that during the first years of the new century father and son came to cooperate in the scheme for a marriage between Philip's son Charles (Duke of Luxemburg) and Claude, the elder daughter of Louis XII, which was to transfer both Britanny and Burgundy to Philip as the dowry of his future daughter-in-law. The purposes of this extraordinary design being purely dynastic, except that Maximilian seems honestly to have counted on its success for French aid against the Turks, it could not find much favour in the Netherlands, where in February, 1505, the States-General at Malines showed little willingness to grant a large bede demanded for the Turkish War by the Roman King in the absence of his son. Involved in a network of manoeuvres, besides being obliged to nurse his Spanish expectations, Philip was in these years constantly away from the Low Countries-in 1501 with his consort in Spain, where their succession was assured in Castile and, should King Ferdinand die without a male heir, in Aragon, and negotiating on his way out and home with King Louis in France; in 1503 in the Empire. It was on their second voyage to Spain that King Philip and his Queen -once more on kindly terms with one another-were obliged by a fearful storm (January, 1506) to land at Southampton, and placed for a time in the power of Henry VII. The goodwill of that prince-highly important to Philip by reason of his desire to arrive at a permanent understanding with Ferdinand of Aragon-had, together with his personal liberty, to be purchased by a commercial treaty. Philip had a heart for the Flemings, and for Bruges in particular; and in the negotiations which followed her interests were eagerly pressed; but so also were the divergent interests of Antwerp. The so-called Mains Intercursus was inevitably to the advantage of English trade, which it freed from oppressive tolls on the way to Antwerp or Bruges, Middelburg or Mons, while it left the sale and use of English cloth absolutely free except to a certain extent in Flanders. The unpopularity of the compact there was no secret to Philip, and notwithstanding the representations of de Chievres he had not yet ratified it, when the news arrived of his death at Burgos (September £5, 1506). Evil rumours accompanied the tidings; for the young King's light and profuse ways were odious to the Castilians, agreeing better with the preferences of the Low Countries, and the traditional habits of the Burgundian House. Philip the Fail-had something of his mother's docility in council and of his father's high spirit in the field, and was not wholly without the popular fibre which commended each of them to the respective lands of their birth; but, so far as can be judged from his short career, he gave no proof of the profound conscientiousness and high aspirings that make it difficult to deny the epithet of great to his eldest son, notwithstanding all his failures.
Five months after Philip's death the unhappy Juana gave birth to a third daughter, and then sank into hopeless insanity. Maximilian showed himself from the first perfectly prepared to enter on a second course of regency, this time on behalf of his elder grandson, now a boy of six years of age. Personally he was as unpopular as ever in the Netherlands, where it was perceived that neither his authority in the Empire nor his influence in European affairs corresponded to his still expanding ambition; and where a strong feeling survived in favour of maintaining friendly relations with France. It was therefore a judicious as well as a necessary step on his part, when, after accepting the offer made to him by the States-General on the motion of the States of Holland and Brabant (October, 1506), he empowered his daughter Margaret to receive in his stead the oaths due to him as Guardian of his grandchildren and Regent; and on her being proclaimed as such by the States-General at Leuven (April, 1507), he appointed her his sole governor-general in the Netherlands.
The office which Margaret had originally been intended by her father to hold only temporarily she filled with honour and credit during eight eventful years (1507-15). After her troubled experiences in France she had in 1501 bravely gone forth to serve the imperial interest by becoming the bride of Duke Philibert (called the Fair) of Savoy, and, once more a widow, had escaped the doom of being united to Henry VII of England. She was now, though saddened by her sufferings, prepared to devote her remarkable talents and even higher gifts of character to the service of her House. Her correspondence with her father, occasionally grotesque in form, since neither had really mastered the language of the other, proves her candour and courage, her moderation more especially in the earlier years of her government, and her spirit of self-sacrifice throughout its course. She began by promptly declaring the so-called Mcdus Intercursits invalid, thus putting pressure on Henry VII, who had no mind for the stoppage of commercial relations, besides being desirous of influencing the political action of Margaret's government and at this moment himself posing as a candidate for her hand. A commercial treaty, drafted on the lines of the Intercursus of 1496, but with the English cloth-trade clauses left out, was at once returned with her signature; and on these terms trade was carried on between the two countries during the remainder of Henry VII's reign.
Maximilian might therefore look forward hopefully to the explanation of his relations with England which he invited Margaret to lay before the States-General early in 1508, when notifying to them the proposed marriage between Charles and Mary Tudor. Not long before this he had enquired of her whether the Netherlands were to be regarded as included in his present war with France. Margaret knew how even the Gelderland trouble was insufficient to counteract the desire of the States for peace with France, and therefore persuaded her father by concluding a truce with Charles of Egmond, which left Gelderland provisionally in his hands, to conciliate his French ally, whose cooperation he needed for his project of vengeance upon Venice. The ill-omened League of Cambray, concluded in December, 1508, was as a matter of fact in a large measure Margaret's work. Soon Maximilian was wrapped up in its progress; but in the ensuing four years he by no means left his daughter to carry on her government without his supervision. Not only was he extremely sensitive of any supposed want of deference by her to his supreme authority, but he was constantly intervening in the matter of appointments in Church and State-from the bishopric of Cambray to the aldermanship of le Franc. And through all goes the call for money, culminating in July, 1510, with a demand for an annual pension of 50,000 crowns for which Margaret was obliged to tell him the time had not yet come. Her task of mediating between the States and the requirements of Maximilian's complicated Italian policy was a very arduous one.
With the advent on the scene of Henry VIII a new chapter may be said to begin in the political activity of Margaret, to whom the alliance between him and her father was mainly due. The variations of Maximilian's European policy in these years of surprises were little to the taste of the Netherlanders, and occasionally ran a risk of conflicting with their interests. Thus when he had been tardily induced to take the side of the Head of the Hansa in her quarrel with John, King of Denmark, the latter (in 1507 or rather later) sought to strike a blow at Lübeck's commercial supremacy in the Baltic by inviting the Holland merchants to make the Sound one of their trade-routes. The Lübeckers insisted on the Holland and Friesland vessels confining themselves to the passage of the Great Belt, as leading more directly to their own city. Hence the outbreak of hostilities between the Hansa and the Netherlands, many of whose ships were taken up the Trave as prizes, and in 1511 the capture of the entire Dutch Baltic fleet by the Lübeckers and Wismarers. Strong pressure was put by the States upon Margaret to induce the Emperor to equip a fleet for the protection of the interests of Holland in the Baltic; in the end, though the Peace of Malmoe (1512) maintained Lubeck's ascendency there, it secured free navigation for Netherlands vessels, except when carrying contraband of war. But to the schemes of the Emperor-Elect (as he now called himself) against France, with which was curiously mixed up a project for a marriage between Charles and Louis XII's second daughter Renee, the provinces turned a deaf ear. Not even against Charles of Egmond, though Holland and Brabant were dreading his approach, would they grant aids, unless assured of a general peace. With the exception of Antwerp, Malines, and Hertogenbosch, Margaret wrote, the States were (Tune si maulvaise nature that nothing short of the Emperor's own presence could manage the business. But even this expedient seems to have failed; and when in April, 1513, he concluded an offensive alliance with Henry VIII against France, the Netherlands were declared neutral. They took advantage of their neutrality to supply the French with arms and ammunition, but at the same time allowed Henry after he had commenced the siege of Terouanne (June, 1513) to levy both foot and horse in the country. Maximilian approved, but he held no independent command, and the capture of Tournay following on the brilliant victory of Guinegaste was treated by Henry as an English acquisition. But though for a time it seemed as if Margaret's programme of a close alliance against France of England, Spain, and the Austro-Burgundian interest would carry everything before it, Henry was at last estranged by the delay of the marriage between his sister and Prince Charles, due in part at least to the de Chievres influence, and finally entered into an alliance with Louis XII, to whom the English Princess was now wedded. As the project of marriage between the French King and Charles1 sister Eleanor was now likewise abandoned, Charles was in his turn left in a humiliating position, and, though the Netherlands were ex post facto admitted to the new French alliance, all cordiality between the English and Burgundian Courts was at an end. The commercial relations between the two countries had meanwhile made but little advance; the duties levied upon English trade, especially in Zeeland, had again been raised; and a commission summoned to Bruges in 1512 had effected nothing.
Thus Margaret's foreign policy had proved unsuccessful before (January, 1515) Charles assumed the government of the Netherlands; and in the course of the year she found herself virtually excluded from the more intimate counsels of the nephew over whose interests she had so tenderly watched in his younger days, and for whom to the last she was ready to make any personal sacrifice. Charles, who in 1520 fitly recognised her services by assigning to her as her own domain the loyal city of Malines and the adjoining territory, was during the first years of his government still entirely under the influence of de Chievres, who, in the course of this very year, contrived to send away Adrian of Utrecht to Spain in the interests of the Prince's succession. The death of Louis XII on January 1, 1515, and the accession of Francis I had offered an opening for the advancement of those friendly relations with France which de Chievres and the Netherlands statesmen were so anxious to cultivate; and even after the death of Ferdinand of Aragon a year later had left to Charles the inheritance of the Spanish monarchy and its Italian dependencies, he continued in spite of Margaret's action to follow the same policy. Nor was it till the imperial succession loomed largely on the horizon that the three generations, Maximilian, Margaret and Charles were reunited in their efforts for a common end.
A heavy price was paid by the Netherlands for the preservation of the greater part of the monarchy of Charles the Bold. Like the House of Burgundy into which he had married, Maximilian (so popular at Nürnberg and Augsburg) showed scant regard for the rights and usages of provinces or towns in its dominions, though it was only exceptionally that he ventured on such an act as the decapitation of the burgomaster of Dort, who had upheld a meeting of the States on their own motion, as allowed by the Groote Privilegie. Philip the Fair went the logical length of limiting his renewal of this famous Charter by a reservation which rendered his acceptance nugatory. That these sentiments had descended to Charles V was shown by the chastisement inflicted by him in 1540 upon his native city of Ghent-the most far-reaching, though not the most sanguinary of any to which in the course of her history she was subjected. In the face of these experiences the gradual growth of the practice of summoning the States-General, long resisted by Charles, but resumed during the governor-generalship (from 1531) of his sister Maria, Queen Dowager of Hungary, seemed of little account. The sufferings of the country-of Holland in particular-in the period preceding that of the rule of Philip the Fair were un-forgotten by the next generation. In 1494 a new valuation of income (verponding) was made throughout the Netherlands, in order to rectify the modus under which the contributions to the bedes had hitherto been assessed on the several towns and villages; and this had to be again revised in 1514. A most distressful state of things was hereby revealed in many parts of the country-more especially south of Utrecht and Gelderland, where there had hardly been a break in the presence of the German soldiery. The number of the homesteads here had dwindled, the cattle had on many pastures diminished by half; along the coasts navigation and fisheries had declined. In some of the Zuiderzee ports the stillness was beginning to set in from which, owing to natural cause's, there was to be no later awakening. What wonder that under Philip and afterwards during Margaret's governorship all classes in the Netherlands should have been practically unanimous in their desire for peace, and that even the Gelders War, upon a successful termination of which the achievement of political unity depended, was held a burden? And what favour could the endeavours expect to find which, set on foot by Maximilian, were carried out by Charles V for establishing in a new form an organic connexion between the whole of the provinces and the Empire at large? The States took very coolly the inclusion in 1512 of the so-called Burgundian Circle (Gelderland and Utrecht were afterwards added to the Westphalian) in the system of Circles established as it were incidentally twelve years earlier, and persistently declined to acknowledge the right claimed by the Emperor of taxing the provinces for imperial purposes. On the other hand the imperial Diet held fast to the pretension, as was shown at Nürnberg in 1543; and in 1548-just a century before the political bond between the United Provinces and the Empire was finally severed-the entire group of the "Burgundian hereditary lands" was included as the Burgundian Circle in the nexus of the Empire. It was in this shape that, with the proper safeguard of a reservation of the privileges and liberties of the several provinces, the undivided Netherlands were by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 settled upon Philip, then intended by Charles to succeed him on the Imperial as well as on the Spanish throne.
Although, notwithstanding the Gelders War, the Netherlands recovered something of their prosperity during the governorship of Margaret, the downfall of the trade and industry of Flanders was irremediable. Public feeling in England continued to favour the Netherlands, just as of old the Flemish towns had upheld the English alliance; but no substantial change took place for many a long year in the mercantile relations between the two peoples. In consequence of the decline of the Venetian and Genoese trade after the discovery of the Cape route to India, Antwerp, where the Portuguese and Spaniards found the facilities and the security they required, and whither they were followed by the other foreign "nations" from Bruges, gradually became the chief commercial port of Europe; while not a rivulet from the current of trade could be turned back into the sands of the Zwyn. Before the middle of the century the proportion of the total exports of the Netherlands, estimated at between six and six and a half million of pounds Flemish, assignable to Antwerp was reckoned at eighty per cent.-that to Bruges at one-half per cent. While Antwerp had supplanted Bruges, the advance of Amsterdam was beginning to emulate that of the great Belgian city, and the mariners of Holland and Zeeland were in the North Sea and the Baltic learning to play their destined part of carriers on the ocean.
The great religious movement the eve of which this summary has reached, found the intellectual life of the Netherlands in a condition of stillness sufficiently accounted for by its political experiences. But the stillness was not stagnation. University studies were in fetters; but in the schools education was largely in the hands of men anxious to prevent any divorce between theological and grammatical teaching. Among the people at large publications against the sale of indulgences an abuse with which the Netherlands had been familiarised during the previous half century-circulated before the date of Luther's theses; and the book of appeal, the Bible, had spread very notably in its Latin form, even before (some time after a version of the body of the Old Testament) the first Dutch New Testament appeared in 1523. The activity of the Windeshem convents continued till the advent of the Reformation, when the Fraterhuizen themselves, many of whose members adopted the doctrines of the reformers, fell into disuse. For the rest, although Erasmus had reason enough for remembering the monks of his native land, the monasticism denounced by him is not so much of a local as of a general type; so too was the disregard by the secular priesthood of one at least of the laws most conspicuously imposed upon their lives by the Church. Yet in the Netherlands, formerly a seedplot of attempts to purify life and morals which too often took a fanatical form and thus came to be branded as heresies, the Reformation had few immediate precursors. John Wessel, as has been seen, died in a convent. The Austin friars at Dort had been influenced by Hendrik of Zutphen, appointed their prior in 1515 after being a pupil of Staupitz and a fellow-student of Luther. Nor do we meet with many enquirers upon whom the Free Spirit, which had formerly likewise had its Brotherhood and Sisterhood, might be thought to have descended. The only heretic of this sort whom Jacob van Hoogstraten, himself of Brabancon origin, tracked to his death in the Netherlands before the Reformation was Hermann of Ryswyk, burnt in 1512.
The share of the Netherlands in the history of the Renaissance, on the other hand, is, insofar as it has not already come under notice here, comprehended in a single name-Erasmus. The ducal Court, as has been seen, was not indifferent to intellectual abilities of many sorts and kinds; the examples of his father and half-brother were in a sense bettered by Bishop David of Utrecht, and a fresh impulse was given to the patronage of learning and its appliances by the English consort of Charles the Bold. The relations between Maximilian and the Renaissance were neither perfunctory nor casual, and justify the warmth of feeling towards him on the part of scholars, poets, and artists which was one of the truest foundations of his popularity; but no traces remain of his having found leisure to encourage a similar devotion in the Burgundian lands, except that among the statues for his own mausoleum (originally meant to be erected at Vienna) he gave orders for two-one of them very likely his own-to be cast in the Netherlands. What he left undone was not supplied either by his son Philip, careless of most of the graver interests of life, or by his daughter Margaret who, poetess as she was, needed all her strength for the business of her life. Thus amidst depressing influences the care of learning and letters, arts and science, was in the main left to the population itself, and chiefly of course to the towns; and from the midst of one of these, trained under influences which more than any other strengthened popular and civic life, came forth Erasmus, a born citizen of the world of letters of which he became the glory.
His early education, as has been seen, he received at Deventer under Alexander Hegius; but after this he had to learn by bitter experience how evil is the corruption of that which is good. For it may be taken as proved that the Collationary Brethren, in whose House he and his brother were placed to be prepared for the assumption of monastic vows, and whom in his celebrated letter he describes as so many decoys for the monastic orders proper, were Brethren of the Common Life under another name. A few years after he had been liberated from the cloister, he began his cosmopolitan career, and the Netherlands could no longer more than transitorily claim him as their own; and when at the height of his fame, he had by the Emperor's desire fixed his residence at Louvain, there was probably no place in the world which swarmed so thickly with his enemies, who hated him at least as bitterly for his actual learning as for his supposed heresy. But cosmopolite as he was, more especially in the years preceding this date, he was such rather in the sense that all countries were after a fashion alike to him, than that, notwithstanding occasional rhetorical flights, he identified himself with any. His position towards peoples as well as princes was a European one, and has not inaptly been compared to that of Voltaire in the eighteenth century; and though the Renaissance was not his movement, nor that of any one other man, yet his influence over its course was incomparable-even in Germany by the side of Reuchlin, and in England as developing the work of Colet. His earlier publications were mainly linguistic and literary; but it would not be difficult to show that in all, or nearly all of them, the educational purpose proper to the Renaissance movement in his native land maintained itself. In his Education of a Christian Prince, designed primarily for the use of the future Emperor Charles V, he advances political doctrines in harmony with the progress of the constitutional life of his own native land, and effaces the futile distinction between political and Christian morality. Thus, too, there is a real continuity between the whole of these writings and his great biblical and patristic labours-from which of course his one late excursion into the field of dogmatic controversy stands apart. It was not by chance that he was led to theological enquiry, as he had of his own choice addressed himself to ethical problems. He believed that a new era was dawning for the Church and the Christian religion, and that to hasten its advent was eminently a concern of his. But he had made up his mind that a calm and reasonable progress, in which scholar and statesman should go hand in hand, was the only way by which victory could be secured and a real and enduring reformation accomplished. Had he thought differently of his task, he would probably in many ways have proved ill-suited for the leadership of a great popular movement. But in truth, he had no desire in his heart to be reckoned on either side. He was content to stand by himself-herein a true representative of the Renaissance, whose supreme purpose it was after all to vindicate to every man the right of remaining true to his individuality by means of self-education and self-development. Whether or not, from this point of view also, he was in some respects a typical product of his native land, the Reformation as it presented itself to the Netherlands, and as they gave admittance to it with consequences so vital for their future history, was not the Reformation of Erasmus.