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- The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1560-61 - 1/8 -

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W.]





1560-1561 [CHAPTER II.]

Agitation in the Netherlands--The ancient charters resorted to as barriers against the measures of government--"Joyous entrance" of Brabant--Constitution of Holland--Growing unpopularity of Antony Perrenot, Archbishop of Mechlin--Opposition to the new bishoprics, by Orange, Egmont, and other influential nobles--Fury of the people at the continued presence of the foreign soldiery--Orange resigns the command of the legion--The troops recalled--Philip's personal attention to the details of persecution--Perrenot becomes Cardinal de Granvelle--All the power of government in his hands--His increasing unpopularity--Animosity and violence of Egmont towards the Cardinal--Relations between Orange and Granvelle--Ancient friendship gradually changing to enmity--Renewal of the magistracy at Antwerp--Quarrel between the Prince and Cardinal--Joint letter of Orange and Egmont to the King--Answer of the King--Indignation of Philip against Count Horn--Secret correspondence between the King and Cardinal--Remonstrances against the new bishoprics--Philip's private financial statements--Penury of the exchequer in Spain and in the provinces--Plan for debasing the coin--Marriage of William the Silent with the Princess of Lorraine circumvented--Negotiations for his matrimonial alliance with Princess Anna of Saxony-- Correspondence between Granvelle and Philip upon the subject-- Opposition of Landgrave Philip and of Philip the Second--Character and conduct of Elector Augustus--Mission of Count Schwartzburg-- Communications of Orange to the King and to Duchess Margaret-- Characteristic letter of Philip--Artful conduct of Granvelle and of the Regent--Visit of Orange to Dresden--Proposed "note" of Elector Augustus--Refusal of the Prince--Protest of the Landgrave against the marriage--Preparations for the wedding at Leipzig--Notarial instrument drawn up on the marriage day--Wedding ceremonies and festivities--Entrance of Granvelle into Mechlin as Archbishop-- Compromise in Brabant between the abbeys and bishops.

The years 1560 and 1561 were mainly occupied with the agitation and dismay produced by the causes set forth in the preceding chapter.

Against the arbitrary policy embodied in the edicts, the new bishoprics and the foreign soldiery, the Netherlanders appealed to their ancient constitutions. These charters were called "handvests" in the vernacular Dutch and Flemish, because the sovereign made them fast with his hand. As already stated, Philip had made them faster than any of the princes of his house had ever done, so far as oath and signature could accomplish that purpose, both as hereditary prince in 1549, and as monarch in 1555. The reasons for the extensive and unconditional manner in which he swore to support the provincial charters, have been already indicated.

Of these constitutions, that of Brabant, known by the title of the 'joyeuse entree, blyde inkomst', or blithe entrance, furnished the most decisive barrier against the present wholesale tyranny. First and foremost, the "joyous entry" provided "that the prince of the land should not elevate the clerical state higher than of old has been customary and by former princes settled; unless by consent of the other two estates, the nobility and the cities."

Again; "the prince can prosecute no one of his subjects nor any foreign resident, civilly or criminally, except in the ordinary and open courts of justice in the province, where the accused may answer and defend himself with the help of advocates."

Further; "the prince shall appoint no foreigners to office in Brabant."

Lastly; "should the prince, by force or otherwise, violate any of these privileges, the inhabitants of Brabant, after regular protest entered, are discharged of their oaths of allegiance, and as free, independent and unbound people, may conduct themselves exactly as seems to them best."

Such were the leading features, so far as they regarded the points now at issue, of that famous constitution which was so highly esteemed in the Netherlands, that mothers came to the province in order to give birth to their children, who might thus enjoy, as a birthright, the privileges of Brabant. Yet the charters of the other provinces ought to have been as effective against the arbitrary course of the government. "No foreigner," said the constitution of Holland, "is eligible as, councillor, financier, magistrate, or member of a court. Justice can be administered only by the ordinary tribunals and magistrates. The ancient laws and customs shall remain inviolable. Should the prince infringe any of these provisions, no one is bound to obey him."

These provisions, from the Brabant and Holland charters, are only cited as illustrative of the general spirit of the provincial constitutions. Nearly all the provinces possessed privileges equally ample, duly signed and sealed. So far as ink and sealing wax could defend a land against sword and fire, the Netherlands were impregnable against the edicts and the renewed episcopal inquisition. Unfortunately, all history shows how feeble are barriers of paper or lambskin, even when hallowed with a monarch's oath, against the torrent of regal and ecclesiastical absolutism. It was on the reception in the provinces of the new and confirmatory Bull concerning the bishoprics, issued in January, 1560, that the measure became known, and the dissatisfaction manifest. The discontent was inevitable and universal. The ecclesiastical establishment which was not to be enlarged or elevated but by consent of the estates, was suddenly expanded into three archiepiscopates and fifteen bishoprics. The administration of justice, which was only allowed in free and local courts, distinct for each province, was to be placed, so far as regarded the most important of human interests, in the, hands of bishops and their creatures, many of them foreigners and most of them monks. The lives and property of the whole population were to be at the mercy of these utterly irresponsible conclaves. All classes were outraged. The nobles were offended because ecclesiastics, perhaps foreign ecclesiastics, were to be empowered to sit in the provincial estates and to control their proceedings in place of easy, indolent, ignorant abbots and friars, who had generally accepted the influence of the great seignors. The priests were enraged because the religious houses were thus taken out of their control and confiscated to a bench of bishops, usurping the places of those superiors who had formally been elected by and among themselves. The people were alarmed because the monasteries, although not respected nor popular, were at least charitable and without ambition to exercise ecclesiastical cruelty; while, on the other hand, by the new episcopal arrangements, a force of thirty new inquisitors was added to the apparatus for enforcing orthodoxy already established. The odium of the measure was placed upon the head of that churchman, already appointed Archbishop of Mechlin, and soon to be known as Cardinal Granvelle. From this time forth, this prelate began to be regarded with a daily increasing aversion. He was looked upon as the incarnation of all the odious measures which had been devised; as the source of that policy of absolutism which revealed itself more and more rapidly after the King's departure from the country. It was for this reason that so much stress was laid by popular clamor upon the clause prohibiting foreigners from office. Granvelle was a Burgundian; his father had passed most of his active life in Spain, while both he and his more distinguished son were identified in the general mind with Spanish politics. To this prelate, then, were ascribed the edicts, the new bishoprics, and the continued presence of the foreign troops. The people were right as regarded the first accusation. They were mistaken as to the other charges.

The King had not consulted Anthony Perrenot with regard to the creation of the new bishoprics. The measure, which had been successively contemplated by Philip "the Good," by Charles the Bold, and by the Emperor Charles, had now been carried out by Philip the Second, without the knowledge of the new Archbishop of Mechlin. The King had for once been able to deceive the astuteness of the prelate, and had concealed from him the intended arrangement, until the arrival of Sonnius with the Bulls. Granvelle gave the reasons for this mystery with much simplicity. "His Majesty knew," he said, "that I should oppose it, as it was more honorable and lucrative to be one of four than one of eighteen." In fact, according to his own statement, he lost money by becoming archbishop of Mechlin, and ceasing to be Bishop of Arras. For these reasons he declined, more than once, the proffered dignity, and at last only accepted it from fear of giving offence to the King, and after having secured compensation for his alleged losses. In the same letter (of 29th May, 1560) in which he thanked Philip for conferring upon him the rich abbey of Saint Armand, which he had solicited, in addition to the "merced" in ready money, concerning the safe investment of which he had already sent directions, he observed that he was now willing to accept the archbishopric of Mechlin; notwithstanding the odium attached to the measure, notwithstanding his feeble powers, and notwithstanding that, during the life of the Bishop of Tournay, who was then in rude health, he could only receive three thousand ducats of the revenue, giving up Arras and gaining nothing in Mechlin; notwithstanding all this, and a thousand other things besides, he assured his Majesty that, "since the royal desire was so strong that he should accept, he would consider nothing so difficult that he would not at least attempt it." Having made up his mind to take the see and support the new arrangements, he was resolved that his profits should be as large as possible. We have seen how he had already been enabled to indemnify himself. We shall find him soon afterwards importuning the King for the Abbey of Afflighem, the enormous revenue of which the prelate thought would make another handsome addition to the rewards of his sacrifices. At the same time, he was most anxious that the people, and particularly the great nobles, should not ascribe the new establishment to him, as they persisted in doing. "They say that the episcopates were devised to gratify my ambition," he wrote to Philip two years later; "whereas your Majesty knows how steadily I refused the see of Mechlin, and that I only accepted it in order not to live in idleness, doing nothing for God and your Majesty." He therefore instructed Philip, on several occasions, to make it known to the government of the Regent, to the seignors, and to the country generally, that the measure had been arranged without his knowledge; that the Marquis Berghen had known of it first, and that the prelate had, in truth, been kept in the dark on the subject until the arrival of Sonnius with the Bulls. The King, always docile to his minister, accordingly wrote to the Duchess the statements required, in almost the exact phraseology suggested; taking pains to repeat the declarations on several occasions, both by letter and by word of mouth, to many influential persons.

The people, however, persisted in identifying the Bishop with the scheme. They saw that he was the head of the new institutions; that he was to receive the lion's share of the confiscated abbeys, and that he was foremost in defending and carrying through the measure, in spite of all

The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1560-61 - 1/8

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