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- The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1561-62 - 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.]





1561-1562 [CHAPTER III.]

The inquisition the great cause of the revolt--The three varieties of the institution--The Spanish inquisition described--The Episcopal inquisition in the Netherlands--The Papal inquisition established in the provinces by Charles V.--His instructions to the inquisitors-- They are renewed by Philip--Inquisitor Titelmann--Instances of his manner of proceeding--Spanish and Netherland inquisitions compared-- Conduct of Granvelle--Faveau and Mallart condemned at Valenciennes-- "Journee des maubrulea"--Severe measures at Valenciennes--Attack of the Rhetoric Clubs Upon Granvelle--Granvelle's insinuations against Egmont and Simon Renard--Timidity of Viglius--Universal hatred toward the Cardinal--Buffoonery of Brederode and Lumey--Courage of Granvelle--Philip taxes the Netherlands for the suppression of the Huguenots in France--Meeting of the Knights of the Fleece--Assembly at the house of Orange--Demand upon the estates for supplies-- Montigny appointed envoy to Spain--Open and determined opposition to Granvelle--Secret representations by the Cardinal to Philip, concerning Egmont and other Seigniors--Line of conduct traced out for the King--Montigny's representations in Spain--Unsatisfactory result of his mission.

The great cause of the revolt which, within a few years, was to break forth throughout the Netherlands; was the inquisition. It is almost puerile to look further or deeper, when such a source of convulsion lies at the very outset of any investigation. During the war there had been, for reasons already indicated, an occasional pause in the religious persecution. Philip had now returned to Spain, having arranged, with great precision, a comprehensive scheme for exterminating that religious belief which was already accepted by a very large portion of his Netherland Subjects. From afar there rose upon the provinces the prophetic vision of a coming evil still more terrible than any which had yet oppressed them. As across the bright plains of Sicily, when the sun is rising, the vast pyramidal shadow of Mount Etna is definitely and visibly projected--the phantom of that ever-present enemy, which holds fire and devastation in its bosom--so, in the morning hour of Philip's reign, the shadow of the inquisition was cast from afar across those warm and smiling provinces--a spectre menacing fiercer flames and wider desolation than those which mere physical agencies could ever compass.

There has been a good deal of somewhat superfluous discussion concerning the different kinds of inquisition. The distinction drawn between the papal, the episcopal, and the Spanish inquisitions, did not, in the sixteenth century, convince many unsophisticated minds of the merits of the establishment in any of its shapes. However classified or entitled, it was a machine for inquiring into a man's thoughts, and for burning him if the result was not satisfactory.

The Spanish inquisition, strictly so called, that is to say, the modern or later institution established by Pope Alexander the Sixth and Ferdinand the Catholic, was doubtless invested with a more complete apparatus for inflicting human misery, and for appalling human imagination, than any of the other less artfully arranged inquisitions, whether papal or episcopal. It had been originally devised for Jews or Moors, whom the Christianity of the age did not regard as human beings, but who could not be banished without depopulating certain districts. It was soon, however, extended from pagans to heretics. The Dominican Torquemada was the first Moloch to be placed upon this pedestal of blood and fire, and from that day forward the "holy office" was almost exclusively in the hands of that band of brothers. In the eighteen years of Torquemada's administration; ten thousand two hundred and twenty individuals were burned alive, and ninety-seven thousand three hundred and twenty-one punished with infamy, confiscation of property, or perpetual imprisonment, so that the total number of families destroyed by this one friar alone amounted to one hundred and fourteen thousand four hundred and one. In course of time the jurisdiction of the office was extended. It taught the savages of India and America to shudder at the name of Christianity. The fear of its introduction froze the earlier heretics of Italy, France, and Ger many into orthodoxy. It was a court owning allegiance to no temporal authority, superior to all other tribunals. It was a bench of monks without appeal, having its familiars in every house, diving into the secrets of every fireside, judging, and executing its horrible decrees without responsibility. It condemned not deeds, but thoughts. It affected to descend into individual conscience, and to punish the crimes which it pretended to discover. Its process was reduced to a horrible simplicity. It arrested on suspicion, tortured till confession, and then punished by fire. Two witnesses, and those to separate facts, were sufficient to consign the victim to a loathsome dungeon. Here he was sparingly supplied with food, forbidden to speak, or even to sing to which pastime it could hardly be thought he would feel much inclination--and then left to himself, till famine and misery should break his spirit. When that time was supposed to have arrived he was examined. Did he confess, and forswear his heresy, whether actually innocent or not, he might then assume the sacred shirt, and escape with confiscation of all his property. Did he persist in the avowal of his innocence, two witnesses sent him to the stake, one witness to the rack. He was informed of the testimony against him, but never confronted with the witness. That accuser might be his son, father, or the wife of his bosom, for all were enjoined, under the death penalty, to inform the inquisitors of every suspicious word which might fall from their nearest relatives. The indictment being thus supported, the prisoner was tried by torture. The rack was the court of justice; the criminal's only advocate was his fortitude--for the nominal counsellor, who was permitted no communication with the prisoner, and was furnished neither with documents nor with power to procure evidence, was a puppet, aggravating the lawlessness of the proceedings by the mockery of legal forms: The torture took place at midnight, in a gloomy dungeon, dimly, lighted by torches. The victim--whether man, matron, or tender virgin--was stripped naked, and stretched upon the wooden bench. Water, weights, fires, pulleys, screws--all the apparatus by which the sinews could be strained without cracking, the bones crushed without breaking, and the body racked exquisitely without giving up its ghost, was now put into operation. The executioner, enveloped in a black robe from head to foot, with his eyes glaring at his victim through holes cut in the hood which muffled his face, practised successively all the forms of torture which the devilish ingenuity of the monks had invented. The imagination sickens when striving to keep pace with these dreadful realities. Those who wish to indulge their curiosity concerning the details of the system, may easily satisfy themselves at the present day. The flood of light which has been poured upon the subject more than justifies the horror and the rebellion of the Netherlanders.

The period during which torture might be inflicted from day to day was unlimited in duration. It could only be terminated by confession; so that the scaffold was the sole refuge from the rack. Individuals have borne the torture and the dungeon fifteen years, and have been burned at the stake at last.

Execution followed confession, but the number of condemned prisoners was allowed to accumulate, that a multitude of victims might grace each great gala-day. The auto-da fe was a solemn festival. The monarch, the high functionaries of the land, the reverend clergy, the populace regarded it as an inspiring and delightful recreation. When the appointed morning arrived, the victim was taken from his dungeon. He was then attired in a yellow robe without sleeves, like a herald's coat, embroidered all over with black figures of devils. A large conical paper mitre was placed upon his head, upon which was represented a human being in the midst of flames, surrounded by imps. His tongue was then painfully gagged, so that he could neither open nor shut his mouth. After he was thus accoutred, and just as he was leaving his cell, a breakfast, consisting of every delicacy, was placed before him, and he was urged, with ironical politeness, to satisfy his hunger. He was then led forth into the public square. The procession was formed with great pomp. It was headed by the little school children, who were immediately followed by the band of prisoners, each attired in the horrible yet ludicrous manner described. Then came the magistrates and nobility, the prelates and other dignitaries of the Church: the holy inquisitors, with their officials and familiars, followed, all on horseback, with the blood-red flag of the "sacred office" waving above them, blazoned upon either side with the portraits of Alexander and of Ferdinand, the pair of brothers who had established the institution. After the procession came the rabble. When all had reached the neighborhood of the scaffold, and had been arranged in order, a sermon was preached to the assembled multitude. It was filled with laudations of the inquisition, and with blasphemous revilings against the condemned prisoners. Then the sentences were read to the individual victims. Then the clergy chanted the fifty-first psalm, the whole vast throng uniting in one tremendous miserere. If a priest happened to be among the culprits, he was now stripped of the canonicals which he had hitherto worn; while his hands, lips, and shaven crown were scraped with a bit of glass, by which process the oil of his consecration was supposed to be removed. He was then thrown into the common herd. Those of the prisoners who were reconciled, and those whose execution was not yet appointed, were now separated from the others. The rest were compelled to mount a scaffold, where the executioner stood ready to conduct them to the fire. The inquisitors then delivered them into his hands, with an ironical request that he would deal with them tenderly, and without blood-letting or injury. Those who remained steadfast to the last were then burned at the stake; they who in the last extremity renounced their faith were strangled before being thrown into the flames. Such was the Spanish inquisition--technically--so called: It was, according' to the biographer of Philip the Second, a "heavenly remedy, a guardian angel of Paradise, a lions' den in which Daniel and other just men could sustain no injury, but in which perverse sinners were torn to pieces." It was a tribunal superior to all human law, without appeal, and certainly owing no allegiance to the powers of earth or heaven. No rank, high or humble, was safe from its jurisdiction. The royal family were not sacred, nor, the pauper's hovel. Even death afforded no protection. The holy office invaded the prince in his palace and the beggar in his shroud. The corpses of dead heretics were mutilated and burned. The inquisitors preyed upon carcases and rifled graves. A gorgeous festival of the holy office had, as we have seen, welcomed Philip to his native land. The news of these tremendous autos-da fe, in which so many illustrious victims had been sacrificed before their sovereign's eyes, had reached the Netherlands almost simultaneously with the bulls creating the new bishoprics in the provinces. It was not likely that the measure would be rendered more palatable by this intelligence of the royal amusements.

The Spanish inquisition had never flourished in any soil but that of the peninsula. It is possible that the King and Granvelle were sincere in their protestations of entertaining no intention of introducing it into

The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1561-62 - 1/8

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