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- The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1570-72 - 1/7 -

[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.]



By John Lothrop Motley


1570 [CHAPTER VI.]

Orange and Count Louis in France--Peace with the Huguenots-- Coligny's memoir, presented by request to Charles IX., on the subject of invading the Netherlands--Secret correspondence of Orange organized by Paul Buys--Privateering commissions issued by the Prince--Regulations prescribed by him for the fleets thus created-- Impoverished condition of the Prince--His fortitude--His personal sacrifices and privations--His generosity--Renewed contest between the Duke and the Estates on the subject of the tenth and twentieth pence--Violent disputes in the council--Firm opposition of Viglius-- Edict commanding the immediate collection of the tax--Popular tumults--Viglius denounced by Alva--The Duke's fierce complaints to the King--Secret schemes of Philip against Queen Elizabeth of England--The Ridolphi plot to murder Elizabeth countenanced by Philip and Pius V.--The King's orders to Alva to further the plan-- The Duke's remonstrances--Explosion of the plot--Obstinacy of Philip--Renewed complaints of Alva as to the imprudent service required of him--Other attempts of Philip to murder Elizabeth--Don John of Austria in the Levant----Battle of Lepanto--Slothfulness of Selim--Appointment of Medina Celi--Incessant wrangling in Brussels upon the tax--Persevering efforts of Orange--Contempt of Alva for the Prince--Proposed sentence of ignominy against his name--Sonoy's mission to Germany--Remarkable papers issued by the Prince--The "harangue"--Intense hatred for Alva entertained by the highest as well as lower orders--Visit of Francis de Alva to Brussels--His unfavourable report to the King--Querulous language of the Duke-- Deputation to Spain--Universal revolt against the tax--Ferocity of Alva--Execution of eighteen tradesmen secretly ordered--Interrupted by the capture of Brill--Beggars of the sea--The younger Wild Boar of Ardennes--Reconciliation between the English government and that of Alva--The Netherland privateersmen ordered out of English ports-- De la Marck's fleet before Brill--The town summoned to surrender-- Commissioners sent out to the fleet--Flight of the magistrates and townspeople--Capture of the place--Indignation of Alva--Popular exultation in Brussels--Puns and Caricatures--Bossu ordered to recover the town of Brill--His defeat--His perfidious entrance into Rotterdam--Massacre in that city--Flushing revolutionized-- Unsuccessful attempt of Governor de Bourgogne to recal the citizens to their obedience--Expedition under Treslong from Brill to assist the town of Flushing--Murder of Paccheco by the Patriots--Zeraerts appointed Governor of Walcheren by Orange.

While such had been the domestic events of the Netherlands during the years 1569 and 1570, the Prince of Orange, although again a wanderer, had never allowed himself to despair. During this whole period, the darkest hour for himself and for his country, he was ever watchful. After disbanding his troops at Strasburg, and after making the best arrangements possible under the circumstances for the eventual payment of their wages, he had joined the army which the Duke of Deux Ponts had been raising in Germany to assist the cause of the Huguenots in France. The Prince having been forced to acknowledge that, for the moment, all open efforts in the Netherlands were likely to be fruitless, instinctively turned his eyes towards the more favorable aspect of the Reformation in France. It was inevitable that, while he was thus thrown for the time out of his legitimate employment, he should be led to the battles of freedom in a neighbouring land. The Duke of Deux Ponts, who felt his own military skill hardly adequate to the task which he had assumed, was glad, as it were, to put himself and his army under the orders of Orange.

Meantime the battle of Jamac had been fought; the Prince of Condo, covered with wounds, and exclaiming that it was sweet to die for Christ and country, had fallen from his saddle; the whole Huguenot army had been routed by the royal forces under the nominal command of Anjou, and the body of Conde, tied to the back of a she ass, had been paraded through the streets of Jarnap in derision.

Affairs had already grown almost as black for the cause of freedom in France as in the provinces. Shortly afterwards William of Orange, with a band of twelve hundred horsemen, joined the banners of Coligny. His two brothers accompanied him. Henry, the stripling, had left the university to follow the fortunes of the Prince. The indomitable Louis, after seven thousand of his army had been slain, had swum naked across the Ems, exclaiming "that his courage, thank God, was as fresh and lively as ever," and had lost not a moment in renewing his hostile schemes against the Spanish government. In the meantime he had joined the Huguenots in France. The battle of Moncontour had succeeded, Count Peter Mansfeld, with five thousand troops sent by Alva, fighting on the side of the royalists, and Louis Nassau on that of the Huguenots, atoning by the steadiness and skill with which he covered the retreat, for his intemperate courage, which had precipitated the action, and perhaps been the main cause of Coligny's overthrow. The Prince of Orange, who had been peremptorily called to the Netherlands in the beginning of the autumn, was not present at the battle. Disguised as a peasant, with but five attendants, and at great peril, he had crossed the enemy's lines, traversed France, and arrived in Germany before the winter. Count Louis remained with the Huguenots. So necessary did he seem to their cause, and so dear had he become to their armies, that during the severe illness of Coligny in the course of the following summer all eyes were turned upon him as the inevitable successor of that great man, the only remaining pillar of freedom in France.

Coligny recovered. The deadly peace between the Huguenots and the Court succeeded. The Admiral, despite his sagacity and his suspicions, embarked with his whole party upon that smooth and treacherous current which led to the horrible catastrophe of Saint Bartholomew. To occupy his attention, a formal engagement was made by the government to send succor to the Netherlands. The Admiral was to lead the auxiliaries which were to be despatched across the frontier to overthrow the tyrannical government of Alva. Long and anxious were the colloquies held between Coligny and the Royalists. The monarch requested a detailed opinion, in writing, from the Admiral, on the most advisable plan for invading the Netherlands. The result was the preparation of the celebrated memoir, under Coligny's directions, by young De Mornay, Seigneur de Plessis. The document was certainly not a paper of the highest order. It did not appeal to the loftier instincts which kings or common mortals might be supposed to possess. It summoned the monarch to the contest in the Netherlands that the ancient injuries committed by Spain might be avenged. It invoked the ghost of Isabella of France, foully murdered, as it was thought, by Philip. It held out the prospect of re-annexing the fair provinces, wrested from the King's ancestors by former Spanish sovereigns. It painted the hazardous position of Philip; with the Moorish revolt gnawing at the entrails of his kingdom, with the Turkish war consuming its extremities, with the canker of rebellion corroding the very heart of the Netherlands. It recalled, with exultation, the melancholy fact that the only natural and healthy existence of the French was in a state of war--that France, if not occupied with foreign campaigns, could not be prevented from plunging its sword into its own vitals.

It indulged in refreshing reminiscences of those halcyon days, not long gone by, when France, enjoying perfect tranquillity within its own borders, was calmly and regularly carrying on its long wars beyond the frontier.

In spite of this savage spirit, which modern documents, if they did not scorn, would, at least have shrouded, the paper was nevertheless a sagacious one; but the request for the memoir, and the many interviews on the subject of the invasion, were only intended to deceive. They were but the curtain which concealed the preparations for the dark tragedy which was about to be enacted. Equally deceived, and more sanguine than ever, Louis Nassau during this period was indefatigable in his attempts to gain friends for his cause. He had repeated audiences of the King, to whose court he had come in disguise. He made a strong and warm impression upon Elizabeth's envoy at the French Court, Walsingham. It is probable that in the Count's impetuosity to carry his point, he allowed more plausibility to be given to certain projects for subdividing the Netherlands than his brother would ever have sanctioned. The Prince was a total stranger to these inchoate schemes. His work was to set his country free, and to destroy the tyranny which had grown colossal. That employment was sufficient for a lifetime, and there is no proof to be found that a paltry and personal self-interest had even the lowest place among his motives.

Meantime, in the autumn of 1569, Orange had again reached Germany. Paul Buys, Pensionary of Leyden, had kept him constantly informed of the state of affairs in the provinces. Through his means an extensive correspondence was organized and maintained with leading persons in every part of the Netherlands. The conventional terms by which different matters and persons of importance were designated in these letters were familiarly known to all friends of the cause, not only in the provinces, but in France, England, Germany, and particularly in the great commercial cities. The Prince, for example, was always designated as Martin Willemzoon, the Duke of Alva as Master Powels van Alblas, the Queen of England as Henry Philipzoon, the King of Denmark as Peter Peterson. The twelve signs of the zodiac were used instead of the twelve months, and a great variety of similar substitutions were adopted. Before his visit to France, Orange had, moreover, issued commissions, in his capacity of sovereign, to various seafaring persons, who were empowered to cruise against Spanish commerce.

The "beggars of the sea," as these privateersmen designated themselves, soon acquired as terrible a name as the wild beggars, or the forest beggars; but the Prince, having had many conversations with Admiral Coligny on the important benefits to be derived from the system, had faithfully set himself to effect a reformation of its abuses after his return from France. The Seigneur de Dolhain, who, like many other refugee nobles, had acquired much distinction in this roving corsair life, had for a season acted as Admiral for the Prince. He had, however, resolutely declined to render any accounts of his various expeditions, and was now deprived of his command in consequence. Gillain de Fiennes, Seigneur de Lumbres, was appointed to succeed him. At the same time strict orders were issued by Orange, forbidding all hostile measures against the Emperor or any of the princes of the empire, against Sweden, Denmark, England, or against any potentates who were protectors of the true Christian religion. The Duke of Alva and his adherents were designated as the only lawful antagonists. The Prince, moreover, gave minute instructions as to the discipline to be observed in his fleet. The articles of war were to be strictly enforced. Each commander was to maintain a minister on board his ship, who was to preach God's word, and to preserve Christian piety among the crew. No one was to exercise any

The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1570-72 - 1/7

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