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- The Life of John of Barneveld, 1609-14 - 1/10 -


Establishment of the Condominium in the Duchies--Dissensions between the Neuburgers and Brandenburgers--Occupation of Julich by the Brandenburgers assisted by the States-General--Indignation in Spain and at the Court of the Archdukes--Subsidy despatched to Brussels Spinola descends upon Aix-la-Chapelle and takes possession of Orsoy and other places--Surrender of Wesel--Conference at Xanten--Treaty permanently dividing the Territory between Brandenburg and Neuburg-- Prohibition from Spain--Delays and Disagreements.

Thus the 'Condominium' had been peaceably established.

Three or four years passed away in the course of which the evils of a joint and undivided sovereignty of two rival houses over the same territory could not fail to manifest themselves. Brandenburg, Calvinist in religion, and for other reasons more intimately connected with and more favoured by the States' government than his rival, gained ground in the duchies. The Palatine of Neuburg, originally of Lutheran faith like his father, soon manifested Catholic tendencies, which excited suspicion in the Netherlands. These suspicions grew into certainties at the moment when he espoused the sister of Maximilian of Bavaria and of the Elector of Cologne. That this close connection with the very heads of the Catholic League could bode no good to the cause of which the States- General were the great promoters was self-evident. Very soon afterwards the Palatine, a man of mature age and of considerable talents, openly announced his conversion to the ancient church. Obviously the sympathies of the States could not thenceforth fail to be on the side of Brandenburg. The Elector's brother died and was succeeded in the governorship of the Condeminium by the Elector's brother, a youth of eighteen. He took up his abode in Cleve, leaving Dusseldorf to be the sole residence of his co-stadholder.

Rivalry growing warmer, on account of this difference of religion, between the respective partisans of Neuburg and Brandenburg, an attempt was made in Dusseldorf by a sudden entirely unsuspected rising of the Brandenburgers to drive their antagonist colleagues and their portion of the garrison out of the city. It failed, but excited great anger. A more successful effort was soon afterwards made in Julich; the Neuburgers were driven out, and the Brandenburgers remained in sole possession of the town and citadel, far the most important stronghold in the whole territory. This was partly avenged by the Neuburgers, who gained absolute control of Dusseldorf. Here were however no important fortifications, the place being merely an agreeable palatial residence and a thriving mart. The States-General, not concealing their predilection for Brandenburg, but under pretext of guarding the peace which they had done so much to establish, placed a garrison of 1400 infantry and a troop or two of horse in the citadel of Julich.

Dire was the anger not unjustly excited in Spain when the news of this violation of neutrality reached that government. Julich, placed midway between Liege and Cologne, and commanding those fertile plains which make up the opulent duchy, seemed virtually converted into a province of the detested heretical republic. The German gate of the Spanish Netherlands was literally in the hands of its most formidable foe.

The Spaniards about the court of the Archduke did not dissemble their rage. The seizure of Julich was a stain upon his reputation, they cried. Was it not enough, they asked, for the United Provinces to have made a truce to the manifest detriment and discredit of Spain, and to have treated her during all the negotiation with such insolence? Were they now to be permitted to invade neutral territory, to violate public faith, to act under no responsibility save to their own will? What was left for them to do except to set up a tribunal in Holland for giving laws to the whole of Northern Europe? Arrogating to themselves absolute power over the controverted states of Cleve, Julich, and the dependencies, they now pretended to dispose of them at their pleasure in order at the end insolently to take possession of them for themselves.

These were the egregious fruits of the truce, they said tauntingly to the discomfited Archduke. It had caused a loss of reputation, the very soul of empires, to the crown of Spain. And now, to conclude her abasement, the troops in Flanders had been shaven down with such parsimony as to make the monarch seem a shopkeeper, not a king. One would suppose the obedient Netherlands to be in the heart of Spain rather than outlying provinces surrounded by their deadliest enemies. The heretics had gained possession of the government at Aix-la-Chapelle; they had converted the insignificant town of Mulheim into a thriving and fortified town in defiance of Cologne and to its manifest detriment, and in various other ways they had insulted the Catholics throughout those regions. And who could wonder at such insolence, seeing that the army in Flanders, formerly the terror of heretics, had become since the truce so weak as to be the laughing-stock of the United Provinces? If it was expensive to maintain these armies in the obedient Netherlands, let there be economy elsewhere, they urged.

From India came gold and jewels. From other kingdoms came ostentation and a long series of vain titles for the crown of Spain. Flanders was its place of arms, its nursery of soldiers, its bulwark in Europe, and so it should be preserved.

There was ground for these complaints. The army at the disposition of the Archduke had been reduced to 8000 infantry and a handful of cavalry. The peace establishment of the Republic amounted to 20,000 foot, 3000 horse, besides the French and English regiments.

So soon as the news of the occupation of Julich was officially communicated to the Spanish cabinet, a subsidy of 400,000 crowns was at once despatched to Brussels. Levies of Walloons and Germans were made without delay by order of Archduke Albert and under guidance of Spinola, so that by midsummer the army was swollen to 18,000 foot and 3000 horse. With these the great Genoese captain took the field in the middle of August. On the 22nd of that month the army was encamped on some plains mid-way between Maestricht and Aachen. There was profound mystery both at Brussels and at the Hague as to the objective point of these military movements. Anticipating an attack upon Julich, the States had meantime strengthened the garrison of that important place with 3000 infantry and a regiment of horse. It seemed scarcely probable therefore that Spinola would venture a foolhardy blow at a citadel so well fortified and defended. Moreover, there was not only no declaration of war, but strict orders had been given by each of the apparent belligerents to their military commanders to abstain from all offensive movements against the adversary. And now began one of the strangest series of warlike evolution's that were ever recorded. Maurice at the head of an army of 14,000 foot and 3000 horse manoeuvred in the neighbourhood of his great antagonist and professional rival without exchanging a blow. It was a phantom campaign, the prophetic rehearsal of dreadful marches and tragic histories yet to be, and which were to be enacted on that very stage and on still wider ones during a whole generation of mankind. That cynical commerce in human lives which was to become one of the chief branches of human industry in the century had already begun.

Spinola, after hovering for a few days in the neighbourhood, descended upon the Imperial city of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle). This had been one of the earliest towns in Germany to embrace the Reformed religion, and up to the close of the sixteenth century the control of the magistracy had been in the hands of the votaries of that creed. Subsequently the Catholics had contrived to acquire and keep the municipal ascendency, secretly supported by Archduke Albert, and much oppressing the Protestants with imprisonments, fines, and banishment, until a new revolution which had occurred in the year 1610, and which aroused the wrath of Spinola. Certainly, according to the ideas of that day, it did not seem unnatural in a city where a very large majority of the population were Protestants that Protestants should have a majority in the town council. It seemed, however, to those who surrounded the Archduke an outrage which could no longer be tolerated, especially as a garrison of 600 Germans, supposed to have formed part of the States' army, had recently been introduced into the town. Aachen, lying mostly on an extended plain, had but very slight fortifications, and it was commanded by a neighbouring range of hills. It had no garrison but the 600 Germans. Spinola placed a battery or two on the hills, and within three days the town surrendered. The inhabitants expected a scene of carnage and pillage, but not a life was lost. No injury whatever was inflicted on person or property, according to the strict injunctions of the Archduke. The 600 Germans were driven out, and 1200 other Germans then serving under Catholic banners were put in their places to protect the Catholic minority, to whose keeping the municipal government was now confided.

Spinola, then entering the territory of Cleve, took session of Orsoy, an important place on the Rhine, besides Duren, Duisburg, Kaster, Greevenbroek and Berchem. Leaving garrisons in these places, he razed the fortifications of Mulheim, much to the joy of the Archbishop and his faithful subjects of Cologne, then crossed the Rhine at Rheinberg, and swooped down upon Wesel. This flourishing and prosperous city had formerly belonged to the Duchy of Cleve. Placed at the junction of the Rhine and Lippe and commanding both rivers, it had become both powerful and Protestant, and had set itself up as a free Imperial city, recognising its dukes no longer as sovereigns, but only as protectors. So fervent was it in the practice of the Reformed religion that it was called the Rhenish Geneva, the cradle of German Calvinism. So important was its preservation considered to the cause of Protestantism that the States-General had urged its authorities to accept from them a garrison. They refused. Had they complied, the city would have been saved, because it was the rule in this extraordinary campaign that the belligerents made war not upon each other, nor in each others territory, but against neutrals and upon neutral soil. The Catholic forces under Spinola or his lieutenants, meeting occasionally and accidentally with the Protestants under Maurice or his generals, exchanged no cannon shots or buffets, but only acts of courtesy; falling away each before the other, and each ceding to the other with extreme politeness the possession of towns which one had preceded the other in besieging.

The citizens of Wesel were amazed at being attacked, considering themselves as Imperial burghers. They regretted too late that they had refused a garrison from Maurice, which would have prevented Spinola from assailing them. They had now nothing for it but to surrender, which they did within three days. The principal condition of the capitulation was that when Julich should be given up by the States Wesel should be restored to its former position. Spinola then took and garrisoned the city of Xanten, but went no further. Having weakened his army sufficiently by the garrisons taken from it for the cities captured by him, he declined to make any demonstration upon the neighbouring and important towns of Emmerich and Rees. The Catholic commander falling back, the Protestant moved forward. Maurice seized both Emmerich and Rees, and placed garrisons within them, besides occupying Goch, Kranenburg, Gennip, and various places in the County of Mark. This closed the amicable campaign.

Spinola established himself and his forces near Wesel. The Prince encamped near Rees. The two armies were within two hours' march of each other. The Duke of Neuburg--for the Palatine had now succeeded on his father's death to the ancestral dukedom and to his share of the Condominium of the debateable provinces--now joined Spinola with an army of 4000 foot and 400 horse. The young Prince of Brandenburg came to Maurice with 800 cavalry and an infantry regiment of the Elector- Palatine.

Negotiations destined to be as spectral and fleeting as the campaign had

The Life of John of Barneveld, 1609-14 - 1/10

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