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- The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1572 - 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



Municipal revolution throughout Holland and Zealand--Characteristics of the movement in various places--Sonoy commissioned by Orange as governor of North Holland--Theory of the provisional government-- Instructions of the Prince to his officers--Oath prescribed--Clause of toleration--Surprise of Mons by Count Louis--Exertions of Antony Oliver--Details of the capture--Assembly of the citizens--Speeches of Genlis and of Count Louis--Effect of the various movements upon Alva--Don Frederic ordered to invest Mons--The Duke's impatience to retire--Arrival of Medina Coeli--His narrow escape--Capture of the Lisbon fleet--Affectation of cordiality between Alva and Medina-- Concessions by King and Viceroy on the subject of the tenth penny-- Estates of Holland assembled, by summons of Orange, at Dort--Appeals from the Prince to this congress for funds to pay his newly levied army--Theory of the provisional States' assembly--Source and nature of its authority--Speech of St. Aldegonde--Liberality of the estates and the provinces--Pledges exchanged between the Prince's representative and the Congress--Commission to De la Marck ratified --Virtual dictatorship of Orange--Limitation of his power by his own act--Count Louis at Mons--Reinforcements led from France by Genlis-- Rashness of that officer--His total defeat--Orange again in the field--Rocrmond taken--Excesses of the patriot army--Proclamation of Orange, commanding respect to all personal and religious rights--His reply to the Emperor's summons--His progress in the Netherlands-- Hopes entertained from France--Reinforcements under Coligny promised to Orange by Charles IX.--The Massacre of St. Bartholomew--The event characterized--Effect in England, in Rome, and in other parts of Europe--Excessive hilarity of Philip--Extravagant encomium bestowed by him upon Charles IX.--Order sent by Philip to put all French prisoners in the Netherlands to Death--Secret correspondence of Charles IX. with his envoy in the Netherlands--Exultation of the Spaniards before Mons--Alva urged by the French envoy, according to his master's commands, to put all the Frenchmen in Mons, and those already captured, to death--Effect of the massacre upon the Prince of Orange--Alva and Medina in the camp before Mons--Hopelessness of the Prince's scheme to obtain battle from Alva--Romero's encamisada --Narrow escape of the prince--Mutiny and dissolution of his army-- His return to Holland--His steadfastness--Desperate position of Count Louis in Mons--Sentiments of Alva--Capitulation of Mons-- Courteous reception of Count Louis by the Spanish generals-- Hypocrisy of these demonstrations--Nature of the Mons capitulation-- Horrible violation of its terms--Noircarmes at Mons--Establishment of a Blood Council in the city--Wholesale executions--Cruelty and cupidity of Noircarmes--Late discovery of the archives of these crimes--Return of the revolted cities of Brabant and Flanders to obedience--Sack of Mechlin by the Spaniards--Details of that event.

The example thus set by Brill and Flushing was rapidly followed. The first half of the year 1572 was distinguished by a series of triumphs rendered still more remarkable by the reverses which followed at its close. Of a sudden, almost as it were by accident, a small but important sea-port, the object for which the Prince had so long been hoping, was secured. Instantly afterward, half the island of Walcheren renounced the yoke of Alva, Next, Enkbuizen, the key to the Zuyder Zee, the principal arsenal, and one of the first commercial cities in the Netherlands, rose against the Spanish Admiral, and hung out the banner of Orange on its ramparts. The revolution effected here was purely the work of the people--of the mariners and burghers of the city. Moreover, the magistracy was set aside and the government of Alva repudiated without shedding one drop of blood, without a single wrong to person or property. By the same spontaneous movement, nearly all the important cities of Holland and Zealand raised the standard of him in whom they recognized their deliverer. The revolution was accomplished under nearly similar circumstances everywhere. With one fierce bound of enthusiasm the nation shook off its chain. Oudewater, Dort, Harlem, Leyden, Gorcum, Loewenstein, Gouda, Medenblik, Horn, Alkmaar, Edam, Monnikendam, Purmerende, as well as Flushing, Veer, and Enkbuizen, all ranged themselves under the government of Orange, as lawful stadholder for the King.

Nor was it in Holland and Zealand alone that the beacon fires of freedom were lighted. City after city in Gelderland, Overyssel, and the See of Utrecht; all the important towns of Friesland, some sooner, some later, some without a struggle, some after a short siege, some with resistance by the functionaries of government, some by amicable compromise, accepted the garrisons of the Prince, and formally recognized his authority. Out of the chaos which a long and preternatural tyranny had produced, the first struggling elements of a new and a better world began to appear. It were superfluous to narrate the details which marked the sudden restoration of liberty in these various groups of cities. Traits of generosity marked the change of government in some, circumstances of ferocity, disfigured the revolution in others. The island of Walcheren, equally divided as it was between the two parties, was the scene of much truculent and diabolical warfare. It is difficult to say whether the mutual hatred of race or the animosity of religious difference proved the deadlier venom. The combats were perpetual and sanguinary, the prisoners on both sides instantly executed. On more than one occasion; men were seen assisting to hang with their own hands and in cold blood their own brothers, who had been taken prisoners in the enemy's ranks. When the captives were too many to be hanged, they were tied back to back, two and two, and thus hurled into the sea. The islanders found a fierce pleasure in these acts of cruelty. A Spaniard had ceased to be human in their eyes. On one occasion, a surgeon at Veer cut the heart from a Spanish prisoner, nailed it on a vessel's prow; and invited the townsmen to come and fasten their teeth in it, which many did with savage satisfaction.

In other parts of the country the revolution was, on the whole, accomplished with comparative calmness. Even traits of generosity were not uncommon. The burgomaster of Gonda, long the supple slave of Alva and the Blood Council, fled for his life as the revolt broke forth in that city. He took refuge in the house of a certain widow, and begged for a place of concealment. The widow led him to a secret closet which served as a pantry. "Shall I be secure there?" asked the fugitive functionary. "O yes, sir Burgomaster," replied the widow, "'t was in that very place that my husband lay concealed when you, accompanied by the officers of justice, were searching the house, that you might bring him to the scaffold for his religion. Enter the pantry, your worship; I will be responsible for your safety." Thus faithfully did the humble widow of a hunted and murdered Calvinist protect the life of the magistrate who had brought desolation to her hearth.

Not all the conquests thus rapidly achieved in the cause of liberty were destined to endure, nor were any to be, retained without a struggle. The little northern cluster of republics which had now restored its honor to the ancient Batavian name was destined, however, for a long and vigorous life. From that bleak isthmus the light of freedom was to stream through many years upon struggling humanity in Europe; a guiding pharos across a stormy sea; and Harlem, Leyden, Alkmaar--names hallowed by deeds of heroism such as have not often illustrated human annals, still breathe as trumpet-tongued and perpetual a defiance to despotism as Marathon, Thermopylae, or Salamis.

A new board of magistrates had been chosen in all the redeemed cities, by popular election. They were required to take an oath of fidelity to the King of Spain, and to the Prince of Orange as his stadholder; to promise resistance to the Duke of Alva, the tenth penny, and the inquisition; to support every man's freedom and the welfare of the country; to protect widows, orphans, and miserable persons, and to maintain justice and truth.

Diedrich Sonoy arrived on the 2nd June at Enkbuizen. He was provided by the Prince with a commission, appointing him Lieutenant-Governor of North Holland or Waterland. Thus, to combat the authority of Alva was set up the authority of the King. The stadholderate over Holland and Zealand, to which the Prince had been appointed in 1559, he now reassumed. Upon this fiction reposed the whole provisional polity of the revolted Netherlands. The government, as it gradually unfolded itself, from this epoch forward until the declaration of independence and the absolute renunciation of the Spanish sovereign power, will be sketched in a future chapter. The people at first claimed not an iota more of freedom than was secured by Philip's coronation oath. There was no pretence that Philip was not sovereign, but there was a pretence and a determination to worship God according to conscience, and to reclaim the ancient political "liberties" of the land. So long as Alva reigned, the Blood Council, the inquisition, and martial law, were the only codes or courts, and every charter slept. To recover this practical liberty and these historical rights, and to shake from their shoulders a most sanguinary government, was the purpose of William and of the people. No revolutionary standard was displayed.

The written instructions given by the Prince to his Lieutenant Sonoy were to "see that the Word of God was preached, without, however, suffering any hindrance to the Roman Church in the exercise of its religion; to restore fugitives and the banished for conscience sake, and to require of all magistrates and officers of guilds and brotherhoods an oath of fidelity." The Prince likewise prescribed the form of that oath, repeating therein, to his eternal honor, the same strict prohibition of intolerance. "Likewise," said the formula, "shall those of 'the religion' offer no let or hindrance to the Roman churches."

The Prince was still in Germany, engaged in raising troops and providing funds. He directed; however, the affairs of the insurgent provinces in their minutest details, by virtue of the dictatorship inevitably forced upon him both by circumstances and by the people. In the meantime; Louis of Nassau, the Bayard of the Netherlands, performed a most unexpected and brilliant exploit. He had been long in France, negotiating with the leaders of the Huguenots, and, more secretly, with the court. He was supposed by all the world to be still in that kingdom, when the startling intelligence arrived that he had surprised and captured the important city of Mons. This town, the capital of Hainault, situate in a fertile, undulating, and beautiful country, protected by lofty walls, a triple moat, and a strong citadel, was one of the most flourishing and elegant places in the Netherlands. It was, moreover, from its vicinity to the frontiers of France; a most important acquisition to the insurgent party. The capture was thus accomplished. A native of Mons, one Antony Oliver, a geographical painter, had insinuated himself into the confidence of Alva, for whom he had prepared at different times some remarkably well- executed maps of the country. Having occasion to visit France, he was employed by the Duke to keep a watch upon the movements of Louis of

The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1572 - 1/7

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