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- The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1563-64 - 1/10 -


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MOTLEY'S HISTORY OF THE NETHERLANDS, PG EDITION, VOLUME 8.

THE RISE OF THE DUTCH REPUBLIC

JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY, D.C.L., LL.D.

1855

1563-1564 [CHAPTER IV.]

Joint letter to Philip, from Orange, Egmont, and Horn--Egmont's quarrel with Aerschot and with Aremberg--Philip's answer to the three nobles--His instructions to the Duchess--Egmont declines the King's invitation to visit Spain--Second letter of the three seigniors--Mission of Armenteros--Letter of Alva--Secret letters of Granvelle to Philip--The Cardinal's insinuations and instructions-- His complaints as to the lukewarmness of Berghen and Montigny in the cause of the inquisition--Anecdotes to their discredit privately chronicled by Granvelle--Supposed necessity for the King's presence in the provinces--Correspondence of Lazarus Schwendi--Approaching crisis--Anxiety of Granvelle to retire--Banquet of Caspar Schetz-- Invention of the foolscap livery--Correspondence of the Duchess and of the Cardinal with Philip upon the subject--Entire withdrawal of the three seigniors from the state council--the King advises with Alva concerning the recall of Granvelle--Elaborate duplicity of Philip's arrangements--His secret note to the Cardinal--His dissembling letters to others--Departure of Granvelle from the Netherlands--Various opinions as to its cause--Ludicrous conduct of Brederode and Hoogstraaten--Fabulous statements in Granvelle's correspondence concerning his recall--Universal mystification--The Cardinal deceived by the King--Granvelle in retirement--His epicureanism--Fears in the provinces as to his return--Universal joy at his departure--Representations to his discredit made by the Duchess to Philip--Her hypocritical letters to the Cardinal-- Masquerade at Count Mansfeld's--Chantonnay's advice to his brother-- Review of Granvelle's administration and estimate of his character.

On the 11th March, 1563, Orange, Horn, and Egmont united in a remarkable letter to the King. They said that as their longer "taciturnity" might cause the ruin of his Majesty's affairs, they were at last compelled to break silence. They hoped that the King would receive with benignity a communication which was pure, frank, and free from all passion. The leading personages of the province, they continued, having thoroughly examined the nature and extent of Cardinal Granvelle's authority, had arrived at the conclusion that every thing was in his hands. This persuasion, they said, was rooted in the hearts of all his Majesty's subjects, and particularly in their own, so deeply, that it could not be eradicated as long as the Cardinal remained. The King was therefore implored to consider the necessity of remedying the evil. The royal affairs, it was affirmed, would never be successfully conducted so long as they were entrusted to Granvelle, because he was so odious to so many people. If the danger were not imminent, they should not feel obliged to write to his Majesty with so much vehemence. It was, however, an affair which allowed neither delay nor dissimulation. They therefore prayed the King, if they had ever deserved credence in things of weight, to believe them now. By so doing, his Majesty would avoid great mischief. Many grand seigniors, governors, and others, had thought it necessary to give this notice, in order that the King might prevent the ruin of the country. If, however, his Majesty were willing, as they hoped, to avoid discontenting all for the sake of satisfying one, it was possible that affairs might yet prosper. That they might not be thought influenced by ambition or by hope of private profit, the writers asked leave to retire from the state council. Neither their reputation, they said, nor the interests of the royal service would permit them to act with the Cardinal. They professed themselves dutiful subjects and Catholic vassals. Had it not been for the zeal of the leading seigniors, the nobility, and other well-disposed persons, affairs would not at that moment be so tranquil; the common people having been so much injured, and the manner of life pursued by the Cardinal not being calculated to give more satisfaction than was afforded by his unlimited authority. In conclusion, the writers begged his Majesty not to throw the blame upon them, if mischance should follow the neglect of this warning. This memorable letter was signed by Guillaume, de Nassau, Lamoral d'Egmont, and Philippes de Montmorency (Count Horn). It was despatched undercover to Charles de Tisnacq, a Belgian, and procurator for the affairs of the Netherlands at Madrid, a man whose relations with Count Egmont were of a friendly character. It was impossible, however, to keep the matter a secret from the person most interested. The Cardinal wrote to the King the day before the letter was written, and many weeks before it was sent, to apprize him that it was coming, and to instruct him as to the answer he was to make. Nearly all the leading nobles and governors had adhered to the substance of the letter, save the Duke of Aerschot, Count Aremberg, and Baron Berlaymont. The Duke and Count had refused to join the league; violent scenes having occurred upon the subject between them and the leaders of the opposition party. Egmont, being with a large shooting party at Aerschot's country place, Beaumont, had taken occasion to urge the Duke to join in the general demonstration against the Cardinal, arguing the matter in the rough, off-hand, reckless manner which was habitual with him. His arguments offended the nobleman thus addressed, who was vain and irascible. He replied by affirming that he was a friend to Egmont, but would not have him for his master. He would have nothing to do, he said, with their league against the Cardinal, who had never given him cause of enmity. He had no disposition to dictate to the King as to his choice of ministers, and his Majesty was quite right to select his servants at his own pleasure. The Duke added that if the seigniors did not wish him for a friend, it was a matter of indifference to him. Not one of them was his superior; he had as large a band of noble followers and friends as the best of them, and he had no disposition to accept the supremacy of any nobleman in the land. The conversation carried on in this key soon became a quarrel, and from words the two gentlemen would soon have come to blows, but for the interposition of Aremberg and Robles, who were present at the scene. The Duchess of Parma, narrating the occurrence to the King, added that a duel had been the expected result of the affair, but that the two nobles had eventually been reconciled. It was characteristic of Aerschot that he continued afterward to associate with the nobles upon friendly terms, while maintaining an increased intimacy with the Cardinal.

The gentlemen who sent the letter were annoyed at the premature publicity which it seemed to have attained. Orange had in vain solicited Count Aremberg to join the league, and had quarrelled with him in consequence. Egmont, in the presence of Madame de Parma, openly charged Aremberg with having divulged the secret which had been confided to him. The Count fiercely denied that he had uttered a syllable on the subject to a human being; but added that any communication on his part would have been quite superfluous, while Egmont and his friends were daily boasting of what they were to accomplish. Egmont reiterated the charge of a breach of faith by Aremberg. That nobleman replied by laying his hand upon his sword, denouncing as liars all persons who should dare to charge him again with such an offence, and offering to fight out the quarrel upon the instant. Here, again, personal combat was, with much difficulty, averted.

Egmont, rude, reckless, and indiscreet, was already making manifest that he was more at home on a battle-field than in a political controversy where prudence and knowledge of human nature were as requisite as courage. He was at this period more liberal in his sentiments than at any moment of his life. Inflamed by his hatred of Granvelle, and determined to compass the overthrow of that minister, he conversed freely with all kinds of people, sought popularity among the burghers, and descanted to every one with much imprudence upon the necessity of union for the sake of liberty and the national good. The Regent, while faithfully recording in her despatches every thing of this nature which reached her ears, expressed her astonishment at Egmont's course, because, as she had often taken occasion to inform the King, she had always considered the Count most sincerely attached to his Majesty's service.

Berlaymont, the only other noble of prominence who did not approve the 11th of March letter, was at this period attempting to "swim in two waters," and, as usual in such cases, found it very difficult to keep himself afloat. He had refused to join the league, but he stood aloof from Granvelle. On a hope held out by the seigniors that his son should be made Bishop of Liege, he had ceased during a whole year from visiting the Cardinal, and had never spoken to him at the council-board. Granvelle, in narrating these circumstances to the King, expressed the opinion that Berlaymont, by thus attempting to please both parties, had thoroughly discredited himself with both.

The famous epistle, although a most reasonable and manly statement of an incontrovertible fact, was nevertheless a document which it required much boldness to sign. The minister at that moment seemed omnipotent, and it was obvious that the King was determined upon a course of political and religious absolutism. It is, therefore, not surprising that, although many sustained its principles, few were willing to affix their names to a paper which might prove a death-warrant to the signers. Even Montigny and Berghen, although they had been active in conducting the whole cabal, if cabal it could be called, refused to subscribe the letter. Egmont and Horn were men of reckless daring, but they were not keen-sighted enough to perceive fully the consequences of their acts.

Orange was often accused by his enemies of timidity, but no man ever doubted his profound capacity to look quite through the deeds of men. His political foresight enabled him to measure the dangerous precipice which they were deliberately approaching, while the abyss might perhaps be shrouded to the vision of his companions. He was too tranquil of nature to be hurried, by passions into a grave political step, which in cooler moments he might regret. He resolutely, therefore, and with his eyes open, placed himself in open and recorded enmity with the most powerful and dangerous man in the whole Spanish realm, and incurred the resentment of a King who never forgave. It may be safely averred that as much courage was requisite thus to confront a cold and malignant despotism, and to maintain afterwards, without flinching, during a whole lifetime, the cause of national rights and liberty of conscience, as to head the most brilliant charge of cavalry that ever made hero famous.

Philip answered the letter of the three nobles on the 6th June following. In this reply, which was brief, he acknowledged the zeal and affection by which the writers had been actuated. He suggested, nevertheless, that, as they had mentioned no particular cause for adopting the advice contained in their letter, it would be better that one of them should come to Madrid to confer with him. Such matters, he said, could be better treated by word of mouth. He might thus receive sufficient information to enable him to form a decision, for, said he in conclusion, it was not his custom to aggrieve any of his ministers without cause.

This was a fine phrase, but under the circumstances of its application, quite ridiculous. There was no question of aggrieving the minister. The letter of the three nobles was very simple. It consisted of a fact and a deduction. The fact stated was, that the Cardinal was odious to


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