WILLIAM THE SILENT.
By the Rev. GEORGE EDMUNDSON, M.A.
Outlawry of William of Orange, 1568. His Justification . 221
He raises an armed force . 222
Battles of Heiligerlee and Jemmingen . 223
The Nassaus in France . 224
Triumph of Alva . 225
Taxation proposed by Alva. Resistance . 226
Alva proclaims a royal amnesty. 227
Death of Montigny at Simancas. 228
The Gueux de Mer . 229
Lewis of Nassau takes Valenciennes and Mons . 230
Activity of " Wilhelmus van Nassouwen ",. 231
His army in Brabant. 232
The Camisaders. Surrender of Mons. Assembly of the States of Holland at Dort . 233
Sack of Zutphen, and of Malines . 234
Siege and reduction of Haarlem . 235
Alva quits the Netherlands, 1573. Requesens succeeds him . 237
Negotiations of Orange with England, France, etc. . 238
Zeeland in hands of insurgents. Death of Lewis of Nassau . 239
Siege and relief of Leyden . 240
Conferences at Breda. Marriage of Orange to Charlotte de Bourbon . 241
Spanish conquest of Duiveland and Schouwen. Negotiations with Queen Elizabeth . 242
Act of Federation between Holland and Zeeland . 243
Don John of Austria Governor-General, 1576 . 244
Negotiations for a general Union. The "Spanish Fury" at Antwerp . 245
Pacification of Ghent and Union of Brussels. . 246
"Perpetual Edict." Don John at Brussels . 247
Archduke Matthias in the Netherlands . 248
Agreement between Orange and Anjou . 249
Death of Don John, 1578. Alexander of Parma succeeds. . 250
The "Malcontents." Treaty of Arras. Union of Utrecht . 251
Fall of Maestricht . 252
The Apology of William of Orange . 253
Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours . 254
Anjou at Antwerp. Attempt at assassinating Orange . 255
The " French Fury " at Antwerp. Orange marries Louise de Coligny . 256
Orange accepts the Countship of Holland and Zeeland . 257
Orange at Delft . 258
His assassination by Balthasar Gérard, 1584. 259
WILLIAM THE SILENT.
ON January 24, 1568, William of Nassau had by sound of the trumpet before the palace in Brussels been proclaimed an outlaw, unless within the space of thrice fourteen days he submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the Council of Troubles ; and this act of proscription had been followed by the kidnapping of William's eldest son from the University of Louvain. Before the allotted six weeks were out, the Prince, on March 3, replied to the proclamation by a manifesto in which, pleading his privileges as a Knight of the Fleece and a member of the Empire, he boldly refused to admit the competency of the tribunal before which he was summoned to appear. This was followed, a month later, by the publication of a lengthy defence of his conduct, entitled Justification of the Prince of Orange against his Calumniators. In this eloquent but somewhat prolix document, in the writing of which the well-known Protestant divine Languet had a share, William deals seriatim with the events of the previous years, which were the causes of the troubles in the Netherlands, and endeavours to prove that the whole blame for the disorders which had occurred lay at the door of the government. In saying this, he was careful to shield the King personally by throwing the whole responsibility upon his evil counsellors, and especially upon Granvelle. On the other hand, while upholding the loyal motives of the authors of the Compromise and the petition of the nobles, he declared positively that these steps were taken " sans son aveu et à son insu,'" and refused to admit that in anything that he had done, whether in the council, in his government, or at Antwerp, could he be accused of not serving his sovereign to the best of his power, or of being actuated by any other motives than the good of the country and the security of the public peace. This Justification, which was published in several languages, was, together with the previous refusal to obey Alva's summons, naturally regarded as an act of open defiance to the Spanish government.
Nor was the defiance confined to words only. At the very time when he wrote his Justification, Orange was busily occupied at Dillenburg
William's chief difficulty was the financial one. In the smaller German States there were always plenty of mercenaries at hand; but the raising of money to pay them was no easy matter for an exile whose estates were in the hands of his enemies. However, he managed to get together 200,000 florins ; half of which sum was subscribed by Antwerp, Amsterdam, and certain towns of Holland and Zeeland, the other half by private individuals. The Prince himself gave 50,000 florins, Lewis of Nassau 10,000, Culemburg, Hoogstraeten, and van den Berg 30,000 each. John of Nassau pledged his estates on his brother's behalf; and William sold a large part of his plate and jewels. It seemed a mad attempt with such limited resources to venture to invade a land garrisoned by a large veteran army under the command of the most experienced general of the day, the representative of the mightiest and wealthiest monarch in existence. It might have been deemed impossible that so far-sighted and prudent a man as the Prince of Orange would embark upon so hazardous an adventure ; and, in fact, his first efforts ended, as they were bound to end, in hopeless failure. That they were made at all is susceptible of only one explanation. A change had passed over the once gay, pleasure-loving, lavish young nobleman, who with half-mocking indifferentism had lightly promised that he would teach his Lutheran bride to read Amadïs de Gaul and other such amusing books instead of the Holy Scriptures. His spirit had been moved within him by the sufferings and the constancy of the victims of persecution. By slow degrees the Reformed doctrine had been gaining a stronger hold upon him. Since his exile he had not only given himself to the once despised study of God's Word, but had asked the Landgrave of Hesse to send him an Evangelical preacher to help him in his task. The whole tenour of his letters proclaims that his course was henceforth moulded not chiefly, far less entirely, by political ambition, but by deep religious conviction that he was an instrument in the hands of God to rescue his countrymen from pitiless oppression at the hands of the Spanish tyranny. At times, amidst the stress and strain of his great struggle, the conduct of the Prince of Orange may be open to reproach, his methods liable to the charge of opportunism ; but it is scarcely credible that the man did not believe he had a sacred mission to discharge who could thus write in his hour of darkest misfortune to his wife, "lam determined to place myself in the hands of the Almighty, that He may guide me, where it shall be His good pleasure, since 1 see well that I must needs pass this life in misery
William's plan in the spring of 1568 was to invade the oppressed provinces simultaneously from three directions. A force of Huguenots and refugees was to attack Artois from France; another, raised by Hoogstraeten, to cross the frontier on the south-east near Maestricht ; another under Lewis of Nassau to enter Friesland from the Ems. The two first-mentioned corps, numbering respectively some 2000 and 3000 men, were ignominiously routed and dispersed by bodies of Spanish troops sent out by Alva to meet them. On the expedition of Lewis at the outset brighter fortune smiled. The Duke had ordered Count 'Aremberg, Governor of Friesland, to enroll a force of 2800 choice veteran troops ; and he despatched Meghem with 1500 more to support him, giving strict orders that the two commanders were not to risk an action until they had united. Count Lewis, who had experienced much difficulty in keeping his undisciplined and irregularly paid mercenaries together, and had only succeeded in doing so by blackmailing the wretched inhabitants, had retreated before Aremberg to a strong position at Heiligerlee, approachable only by a single causeway across morasses. On the morning of May 23, the Spanish troops, pushing on in pursuit and feeling sure of an easy victory, found themselves suddenly floundering in the treacherous quagmire, and suffered a severe defeat with heavy loss. Aremberg himself was killed, as on the other side Adolphus of Nassau, the brave young brother of William and Lewis. The victory was a barren one, but it provoked Alva to take strong measures. The decree of May 28, announcing the confiscation of the possessions of the Prince of Orange and the other exiled nobles, was followed by a number of executions, culminating on June 5 in the deaths of Egmont and Hoorn on the scaffold. The Governor-General then prepared to take the field himself in Friesland at the head of an admirably equipped army of 15,000 men. He drove the discontented and almost mutinous bands of Lewis before him, until he succeeded in penning them up, to the number of 10,000, at Jemmingen, in a small peninsula of land washed on all sides but one by the estuary of the Ems. The fight took place on July 21. The resistance was slight ; there was no way of escape ; and an absolute butchery ensued. Seven Spaniards perished, seven thousand of their hapless opponents. Lewis of Nassau himself escaped by swimming. Alva marched back in triumph, plundering and burning as he went, to Utrecht, where he held a magnificent review of 30,000 infantry and 7000 cavalry, with the view of striking terror into the minds of all would-be rebels. But though the Prince's forces had been shattered in detail, and all seemed lost, his indomitable spirit was not to be crushed even by a disaster like that of Jemmingen. "With God's
Meanwhile he had by strenuous exertions succeeded in the beginning of September in collecting near Römersdorf a force of 18,000 infantry and 7000 cavalry, Germans and Walloons. There being a lack of ready money, this army of mercenaries was in constant ill-humour and not seldom on the verge of mutiny, and was only kept together by the leader's personal importunity and address, sometimes exerted at no slight risk to himself. With these troops Orange crossed the Meuse on the night of October 5 and 6, and advanced into Brabant, where he was joined by a reinforcement of French Huguenots. Knowing that time was on his adversary's side, William was anxious, as soon as possible, to join issue. But the cautious Alva, with a smaller but far better disciplined force, dogged the Prince's steps, following him like his shadow, but always avoiding battle. On one occasion, however, he seized the opportunity of isolating a rear-guard of 3000 men, and cutting them to pieces. It was here that Hoogstraeten received a slight wound, from which he died shortly afterwards. Finding that nothing was to be done, William, whose army was clamouring for arrears of pay, withdrew on November 17 across the French frontier. He then disbanded his forces, after selling what effects he had at his disposal to satisfy their demands. Followed only by a few hundred horse, he with his brothers Henry and Lewis reached the camp of Admiral Coligny. The two younger Nassaus fought like heroes at the bloody defeats of Jarnac and Moncontour ; but William was not present at either of these fights. For some unknown reason he left the Huguenot army, and made his way back through countless perils, disguised as a peasant, to German territory. His enemies have most unwarrantably seized upon this withdrawal from the forefront of danger as a sign that William was a coward at heart. He left the Huguenot camp probably because he saw that he was doing no good there to the cause which lay nearest to his heart. But though he returned to Germany, what could he do ? Well might Alva write, "We may regard the Prince as a dead man ; he has neither influence nor credit." His failures, moreover, had well-nigh destroyed any reputation he possessed for ability and leadership. Afraid of assassination by the agents of Alva, afraid of his creditors, afraid of being placed under the Ban of the Empire, he wandered about from place to place, not daring to take up his residence permanently at Dillenburg. And, all this time, his
With the complete failure of Orange's military enterprises Alva's policy seemed triumphant. The man of blood and iron had tamed " the men of butter." His emissaries and executioners were still at work throughout the Provinces ; but no one any longer dared to resist. It is indeed noteworthy how slight was the support given to the invading armies of the Nassaus, and how apathetic was the attitude of the population. The object of Alva's coming to the Netherlands was at least as much political as religious-to crush out autonomy as a prelude to crushing out heresy. The first persons on whom the heavy hand of retribution fell were not the sectaries, but the great Catholic nobles, who had dared to make a stand on behalf of the time-honoured liberties of their native land ; the conventual clergy, who had ventured to resist the taking away of their revenues for supplying incomes to Philip's new Bishops ; and the magistrates of the great municipalities, Catholic almost to a man, who had upheld the immunities of the towns against arbitrary exactions. Emigrants fled away in crowds, yet these by no means consisted entirely of Protestant refugees, but comprised numbers of abbots and monks, and quite a considerable proportion of rich and influential burgesses, who had nothing to fear on the ground of their religious opinions. The fate of Egmont and Hoorn and of Antony van Straelen showed that the only way to escape the clutch of the Blood Council was to put oneself as speedily as possible out of the reach of its jurisdiction. Thousands therefore sought refuge from the tyrant in France, Germany, and England, while the bulk of the people bowed the neck to the yoke in the hopelessness of despair. But the very completeness of his triumph led the Governor to take a step which was to undo all his previous work.
Philip and his Viceroy were always in want of funds. This perennial impecuniousness of the Spanish treasury was at this time accentuated by Queen Elizabeth's seizure at Plymouth, where they had sought refuge, of five Spanish vessels, bringing to the Duke 450,000 ducats. This unlooked-for loss was a most serious blow to Alva. His troops had long been without pay. Money must be had ; and the only way to get it was in the
From this hour the Duke's supremacy began to wane. His proposed taxes roused to fury the feelings of hatred against him. He had henceforth no friends. Even the pliant Viglius strenuously resisted him in the Council; and such faithful adherents of the Spanish régime as Barlaymont, Noircarmes, and Aerschot joined with Viglius in the general chorus of condemnation. The Bishops and clergy were on the same side ; so too was Philip's Council at Madrid. " Everybody turns against me," wrote the Duke, but he swore nevertheless that he would have his own way. When the town and district of Utrecht refused to pay the tax, Alva quartered the regiment of Lombardy upon them ; and, when the insolence and brutality of the soldiery failed to bring the citizens to their knees, the city and district were declared guilty of high treason, their charters and privileges were abolished, and all their property, real and personal, declared to be confiscated to the King's use (December, 1569).
All this time the Prince of Orange was hard at work through his agents, striving to rouse the people to active resistance, and, as a first step, to help in providing the necessary funds for equipping an army
The general chorus of disapproval that arose against the continued brutality of Alva's treatment of the Netherlands led Philip, slowly as was his wont, to think that the time had come for proclaiming an amnesty. It was true that Alva himself, in claiming that he had restored the Provinces to their rightful obedience to their King, without the least intention of irony, added, "and all this without violence." Alva's views of violence were fortunately, even in that relentless age, quite exceptional. Granvelle from Naples pressed on the King the necessity of using clemency. Already in February, 1569, the subject of the amnesty had been broached with the Governor-General. It did not meet with his approval ; and he found it easy to put forward, as soon as pressure was brought to bear upon him, various reasons for delay. At last the King formally announced to him his will that an amnesty should be proclaimed before the arrival of his fourth bride and niece, Anne of Austria, who was coming down the Rhine to embark at Antwerp for Spain. Accordingly, on July 16,1570, in the great square of Antwerp, the Duke, seated on a throne covered with cloth of gold, and with the Bishops, Councillors of State and other dignitaries grouped around him, read before the assembled people the words of the royal proclamation. It was not a very indulgent document, since there were not less than six classes of offenders excepted ; but to all others pardon was offered, on condition that they should within two months make their peace with the Church and receive absolution. This act of grace accomplished, Alva hastened to meet the new Queen. Anne, however, despite the brilliant festivities which greeted her at Brussels, was painfully reminded that the reign of terror had not yet ceased, when she was entreated by the Dowager Countess of Hoorn, to plead with Philip that her younger son, Montigny, might be spared from sharing his elder brother's doom of death. Anne promised that this should be one of her first requests to her husband. She kept her word, but it was too late. There is no act of Philip's that has cast a darker stain on his memory than the execution of Montigny.
From the moment when the Marquis of Berghen and Floris de
Montmorency, lord of Montigny, set foot in Spain, in 1566, on their mission from Margaret of Parma, it had been the settled determination of Philip that they should not return. Their names had been entered in the King's book of remembrance as those of the leaders of the Netherland national party, with Orange, Egmont, and Hoorn ; and all five had been marked down for destruction. From the first they were virtually captives. Berghen died in 1567, but his colleague lingered on in confinement in the castle of Segovia. His case, like that of other nobles charged with treason in their absence, had been brought before the Tribunal of Blood. Not till the unhappy man had been in prison three years was he sentenced to be beheaded as a traitor, his property being confiscated. For six months no action was taken, but Philip was alarmed at the armaments of Orange ; he had received intimation of the new Queen's promise to the Countess of Hoorn ; and he resolved that Floris de Montmorency must die before her arrival. Philip hereupon arranged in his own cabinet in its most minute details an elaborate scheme by which Montigny should in reality be privately strangled in the castle of Simancas, and yet that all the world should believe that he had died from fever. On the very same day (October 1,1570) on which Philip drew up the programme of the splendid ceremonies that were to attend Anne of Austria's entry into Segovia, he penned an order to the Governor of Simancas for the killing of his prisoner. Arrangements were made that a medical man should call at the castle for several days, bringing medicines for the treatment of one suffering from fever. It was represented to Montigny that a private execution was an act of special grace from the King; and he was allowed to write out a will, as if he were a sick man lying on his death-bed, and also to send a letter of farewell to his wife. On October 16, between one and two o'clock in the morning an executioner arrived and did his office. Thereupon the Governor, acting on his secret instruction, solemnly informed His Majesty that, despite the utmost care of the doctors, Montigny had unhappily succumbed to his disease. Philip affected sorrow, and ordered that the obsequies of the defunct should be performed with all the respect due to his rank, and that his servants should be supplied with suits of mourning.
In the years 1570 and 1571 William and Lewis of Nassau continued indefatigably active, the one at Dillenburg and Arnstadt, the other at La Rochelle and Paris, making preparations diplomatic and material for a new campaign. It was not however by military levies that the cause they championed was to gain its first solid successes. The year 1569 saw some eighteen vessels armed with letters of marque from the Prince of Orange in his capacity as a sovereign prince, cruising in the narrow seas under the command of the lord of Dolhain. It was the insignificant beginning of that sea-power which was destined ere long to cover the ocean with its fleets and to plant its colonies in every
Under Lumbres, their chief leaders were William de Blois, lord of Treslong, a man as capable as he was fearless, and William de la Marck, lord of Lumey, a worthy descendant of the famous Wild Boar of the Ardennes-bold, cruel, revelling in deeds of blood. Terrible barbarities were executed upon the hapless priests and monks and Catholic magistrates by the rovers, as they sailed up and down the coasts and into the estuaries, in revenge for Alva's persecutions ; and vast stores of plate, church ornaments and treasures, and money ransoms, were carried back by them to their ships. The difficulty as to finding harbours of refuge had been partly removed by the secret connivance of Queen Elizabeth. The Beggars were allowed to put in at various English ports, there to refit and revictual their vessels, to dispose of their plunder and beat up recruits. But suddenly this privilege came to an end. Strong representations were made to Elizabeth by the Spanish government ; and, as the Queen at the moment had no desire to irritate Philip, a proclamation was issued forbidding the rebels the use of the English havens. The consequences of this prohibition were momentous. A fleet of some twenty-eight vessels under Lumbres and Treslong, having been denied refuge in England, was cruising off the shores of Holland, when a strong westerly wind forced it to seek refuge in the estuary of the Meuse, and to cast anchor off Brill. Finding that the Spanish garrison had marched out to quell a disturbance at Utrecht it was hastily determined (April 1, 1572) to seize the town. One of
Lewis of Nassau at Rochelle, with his keen and alert spirit, at once saw the importance of this bold stroke, and forthwith turned his eyes to the yet more important town of Flushing, the key of Zeeland, which commanded the approach to Antwerp. Alva, too, after in vain attempting to recover Brill, gave orders that the garrison and defences of Flushing should be strengthened, and that Pachecho, his famous Italian engineer, should do his utmost to complete the citadel, which he had already begun. But he was too late. The citizens, urged by a messenger from Lewis of Nassau rose in revolt. Treslong hastened to their assistance. His wild mariners forced an entrance into the town and put to the sword the scanty Spanish garrison. Pachecho himself was captured and hanged. The consequences of this success were enormous. The Sea-Beggars, whose ranks were now swollen by crowds of refugees, speedily made themselves supreme over the whole island of Walcheren, except the town of Middelburg. In a very short time they rendered themselves masters also of Delfshaven and Schiedam ; and the movement of revolt spread like wildfire through Holland, "Zeeland, Gelderland, Utrecht, and Friesland. The principal towns submitted themselves to the Prince of Orange as their lawful Stadholder, and acknowledged his authority.
Meanwhile, Lewis of Nassau, who had been for a long time conducting elaborate and intricate negotiations with the view of obtaining help for the cause not merely from the Huguenots, but from Elizabeth of England and from Charles IX himself, had been to a considerable extent successful. The French King was persuaded that it was to his interest to assist the Nassaus, at least to the extent of giving them a free hand in raising troops, and in invading the Netherlands from French territory. Lewis, however, with all his high qualities, lacked something of his brother's prudence and caution. His first move, by its very suddenness and daring, was at the outset successful. With a small force, raised in France and paid for by French money, he dashed into Hainault with such unexpected rapidity that he seized Valenciennes, and then captured Mons (May 23) before Alva had made any move'to oppose him. At Mons he fortified himself. But the population was doubtful and suspicious; and Lewis found himself looked upon as an enemy, as
The Prince, with his usual circumspection, at first received the news of the capture of Brill with doubtful satisfaction. But the subsequent seizure of Flushing, followed as it was by a series of successes elsewhere, lent a different aspect to the operations of the Sea-Beggars. William now surpassed himself by the variety and activity of his correspondence. His agents and fellow-workers were to be found everywhere, many of their communications being written under feigned names and dealing apparently with ordinary business transactions. The two merchants George and Lambert Certain, for instance, were none other than William and Lewis of Nassau. Among those who toiled with the greatest zeal on his behalf were Sainte Aldegonde and Wesembeke, not only by their personal intercourse with others, as they moved about from place to place, but by their prolific pens, and by a skilled literary power, especially notable in Sainte Aldegonde. Two publications of this date had a great effect in stirring up the popular feeling in William's favour. The one was the famous war-song of the revolt, the Wilhelmus van Nassouwen, still the national hymn of the Netherlands, the authorship of which is almost universally assigned to Sainte Aldegonde. The other was the eloquent appeal to the people, which, soon after the taking of Brill was scattered broadcast through the country as if emanating from the Prince of Orange, but which recent evidence shows to have been written by Wesembeke in William's name and without his knowledge. But lack of funds was still the burden of the letters from Dillenburg. Contributions from Elizabeth and Charles IX had indeed helped to replenish the Prince's empty treasury, and to this had been added a portion of the booty captured by the Sea-Beggars ; but the collections made in the provinces themselves had not as yet yielded much. But the sight of Brill and Flushing in the hands of Orange's followers not only caused other towns to throw open their gates, but led the rich burghers to open their purses. The first to offer from his private resources a large sum to William was Arend van Dorp, a man of position in Veere and Zevenbergen, who went in person to Dillenburg and on May 23 placed 10,000 florins at the Prince's disposal. It happened that at that very time a number of German Princes had met at the castle to discuss the question of raising
Such was the vigour with which the enlisting was now pressed on that on June 29 William set out from Dillenburg at the head of 1000 horse, and on July 9 was able to cross the Rhine near Duisburg with some 20,000 men and to penetrate into Gelderland. He quickly took Roeremonde ; but this success was marred by the sacking of churches and the barbarous treatment of the priests and monks in the town. Though in all his proclamations William always laid stress on his desire for religious toleration, his lack of ready money made him dependent upon his unpaid soldiery. From Roeremonde the Prince advanced into Brabant; but here the news reached him that a force of 5000 Huguenots, which the Seigneur de Genlis was leading to the relief of Mons, had been cut in pieces by the Spaniards. Always timid as a general, William retreated and pitched his camp at Hellarde on the banks of the Meuse, close to Roeremonde, and did not move again till August 27. He then marched into Limburg ; and again his course was marked by excesses and destruction of property, the desecration of churches, and the killing and maltreating of ecclesiastics. Herenthal, Tirlemont, and Diest fell into his hands, but Louvain shut her gates against him. Passing on, he arrived within a league of Brussels ; but, although the Spanish garrison was very small, such was the terror created by the misdeeds of William's mercenaries that the Duke of Aerschot had no difficulty in rousing the inhabitants to resist. The Prince did not feel himself strong enough to besiege the town, which he had hoped would welcome him. At this moment of discouragement information was brought to him of the Massacre of St Bartholomew. All his plans had been framed on the confident expectation that Coligny, according to the understanding with him to which the French King had been a party, would come to his help with 12,000 arquebusiers. And now his hopes were dashed to the ground. " Quel coup de massue cela nous ait esté ! " he wrote to his brother; "my sole hope was from the side of France." A bold dash southwards might still have saved Mons, but Orange turned to the north, where for a while he seemed successful. Archiépiscopal Malines was surrendered to him ; and shortly afterwards Termonde and Oudenarde shared the same fate. A considerable part of the southern provinces was already in his power. But Alva was pursuing a masterly game of his own. The issue of the campaign he knew well depended upon the capture of Mons, and to effect this he deliberately denuded the rest of the country of troops. William also saw that his successes elsewhere availed little if he allowed Lewis and his army to be taken prisoners, so at last he turned his steps towards Hainault.
On September 11 he reached the village of Harmignies, about a league from Mons. During the following night the Spanish captain,
Julian de Romero, at the head of a body of six hundred men, who, to prevent mistakes in the dark, each wore a white shirt over his armour, made their way stealthily into the camp of Orange, where the Camisaders all but succeeded in capturing William himself asleep in his tent. He was however awakened by a favourite lap-dog that lay at his feet, and escaped just in time. But some eight hundred of his followers were slain; and the moral effect of the blow decided the issue of the campaign. On the following morning the Prince gave orders to retreat, and ignominiously made his way back to Malines. The expedition so long and laboriously prepared thus utterly collapsed ; and William was pronounced to be not only incapable as a general, but pusillanimous as a man. Six days after the affair of Harmignies Mons surrendered. Alva granted the garrison most favourable conditions, and showed the most punctilious courtesy to the chivalrous and unfortunate Lewis of Nassau, who, prostrate with fever, was borne out on a litter. Slowly he made his way to Roeremonde, and thence to Dillenburg, where under the skilful nursing of his devoted mother he once more recovered his health.
William, meanwhile, saw that, so far as the southern provinces were concerned, the game was up. But in the north the spirit of resistance to Spanish tyranny was still vigorous ; and the Prince now made up his mind to throw in his lot for good and all with the brave Hollanders and Zeelanders, who were so gallantly struggling against overwhelming odds, "being resolved," as he wrote (October 22) to his brother John, "to maintain the affair there as long as possible and decided to find there my grave." From henceforth William, though in name a Provençal Prince and a German Count, became a Netherlander pure and simple, and absolutely identified himself with the interests and fortunes of the people, to whom he was already bound by so many ties.
After the success of the Sea-Beggars in capturing Brill and Flushing and the adhesion of a large number of towns to the cause of which the Prince of Orange was the champion, Alva's authority had practically ceased to exist in Zeeland, Utrecht, Overyssel, and Friesland, except in places garrisoned by Spanish troops. In the early summer of 1572 William, as Stadholder in the name of the King, had issued a summons to the States of Holland to assemble. Deputies were sent by eight towns, and met, on July 15, at Dort. Sainte Aldegonde, as the Prince's representative, addressed them in a long and eloquent speech, with the result that William was by a unanimous vote recognised as lawful Stadholder. Liberty of worship was to be established both for Protestant and Romanist. De la Marck was appointed to be Admiral ; Paul Buys, so well known later, to be Advocate; and a large and liberal grant of supplies was voted for the prosecution of military operations. William, therefore, as he travelled from Enckhuysen through Haarlem and Leyden to Delft, where he fixed his permanent abode, found everywhere a
At the beginning of the year 1572 Alva had fallen considerably in his master's esteem ; and the Duke of Medina Coeli had been sent from Spain to enquire into his conduct of affairs, and no doubt finally to supersede him, as Alva had himself superseded the Duchess of Parma. But Medina Coeli, after narrowly escaping capture by the Sea-Beggars, found that the dangers of invasion, which threatened the provinces from so many quarters, demanded the strong hand of a military chief rather than of an administrator ; and Alva retained his governorship. In denuding the country of garrisons in order to concentrate a great army round Mons, and in refusing to be tempted by Orange's advance and successes from the prosecution of the siege, the Duke played at once a bold and a cautious game. He staked everything on the venture; but, when Mons was captured, and the mutinous army of his adversary melted away before its first reverse, Alva's thoughts immediately turned to vengeance. The danger had been great, the retribution must be exemplary. Malines was the most important of the towns which had surrendered to the Prince of Orange ; and on it fell the first brunt of his wrath. In vain the clergy begged the Governor to have pity; the town was for three days handed over to the tender mercies of a brutal soldiery, who tortured, pillaged, and maltreated the inhabitants, without making any distinction between Romanist and Protestant, loyalist and rebel. At length, gorged with plunder, the troops under Don Frederick of Toledo moved northwards in search of other prey.
Worse still was to follow. The sack of Zutphen was even more horrible than that of Malines ; and the utter destruction of Naarden by fire and by sword was more inhuman in its cruelty than either. In this little town nearly the whole population, men, women, and children, were deliberately butchered. " It has been by the permission of God," Alva wrote to the King, "that they have been so blinded as to wish to resist in a town that no one in the world would have thought of defending, so weak was it."
Naarden was near to Amsterdam ; and, while Don Frederick was forcing his way to the Zuyderzee, another Spanish force under Mondragon had reconquered the greater part of Zeeland. At the head of 3000 men, this intrepid leader had at the end of October, 1572, marched at the ebb tide across the shallow channel, ten miles broad, which separates the island of South Beveland from the mainland, and had seized by surprise its chief town, Tergoes. The water, as they crossed, rose to the breasts and shoulders of the soldiers. But their deeds of horror had filled the minds of the stern Hollanders and Zeelanders with the fierce and indomitable courage of despair; and the long narrow strip of swampy, half-submerged land stretching from the Scheldt to the Helder became the scene of one of the most prolonged and ferocious struggles that the world has ever seen.
The great port of Amsterdam had remained loyal to the King ; but only ten miles distant lay Haarlem, a very hotbed of fierce Calvinism. The road between the two towns passed along a narrow causeway following the dyke, which parted the vast mere, known as the Haarlem Sea, from the estuary of the Y, which was really an arm of the Zuyderzee. Haarlem was thus protected by two great sheets of shallow water to the east and north; on the south was a large wood, and, a few miles to the west beyond the sand dunes, the ocean. Against this rebel town, at the beginning of December, Don Frederick advanced from Amsterdam at the head of an apparently irresistible army of thirty thousand Spanish, Walloon, and German veterans, expecting that he could easily carry the weak defences of the place at the first assault. But the fate of Zutphen and Naarden had roused in the citizens a stubborn and almost frenzied spirit of resistance and defiance. The garrison numbered about 4000 men ; and their commander, Ripperda, was a man of conspicuous bravery and unflagging energy and resourcefulness. After a fierce bombardment, the Spaniards on December 21 tried to effect a lodgment in the town by storm ; but the assailing columns were beaten off after desperate hand to hand fighting with heavy loss. Thus foiled, Don Frederick changed his plans. His engineers set to work for a formal siege by regular approaches. Amidst the bitter cold and icy fogs of midwinter, by night as well as by day, the struggle went on, above ground and below, as besiegers and besieged mined and countermined, and breaches were made in the ramparts only to be repaired under cover of the darkness. At last, on January 81,1573, Toledo ordered another great assault. It ended, like that of December 21, in grievous loss and failure. Toledo was now disposed to give up in despair; but Alva threatened to disown him as his son if he retired. The siege was therefore turned into a blockade. Since Haarlem could not be captured by the sword, it must be reduced by famine. As week after week passed, the investing army was for some time in an even more sorry plight than that within the walls. Spaniard and Hollander strove to outvie one another in deeds of savage cruelty and vengeance. The gibbets on the town walls and in the Spanish camp stood face to face, each garnished with its crop of victims, neither side giving quarter. Toledo announced the defeats of the relief armies, by throwing into the town the heads of captured leaders with suitable inscriptions ; the citizens replied by rolling a barrel into the Spanish lines containing eleven heads, with the statement that ten were for payment of the tenth penny to Alva, the eleventh for interest for the delay in discharge of the debt. The besieged also did their utmost to shock the religious feelings of their adversaries by parodying the Catholic rites and ceremonies on the ramparts. Savage religious intolerance was equally rampant on both sides ; and, if the Spaniards exacted bloody reprisals on the garrison, no small provocation had been given.
Meanwhile, the Prince of Orange had been exerting himself to the
Of the four thousand men who formed the garrison only sixteen hundred survived. All of these, with the exception of the Germans, were deliberately butchered in cold blood ; and their gallant leaders, Ripperda and Lancelot Brederode, were hanged. Some four hundred of the principal citizens were likewise put to death ; but the rest were spared, and the town was saved from pillage on consenting to pay a fine of 250,000 guilders. The Spaniards had suffered even more terrible losses during this seven months' siege, at least 12,000 men having perished, more by disease and privation than by the sword. William had to endure many reproaches for his failure in relieving Haarlem and for not having taken the field in person. But he knew that the continuance of the struggle depended upon his life. He had, indeed, a difficult part to play. The very staunchest of the patriots began to despair ; but the spirit which breathes through all William's utterances at this time is that of absolute trust in God, and submission to His will. When his followers urged that the cause was hopeless without an alliance with some great potentate, he nobly replied, " When I took in hand to defend these oppressed Christians I made an alliance with the mightiest of all Potentates-the God of Hosts, who is able to save us if He choose."
The splendid defence of Haarlem had, however, wide-reaching effects ; and Alva, already in bad odour with the King for his failure in pacifying the country, became more and more embittered when he found that the fall of that town, and what he was pleased to call his clemency to its inhabitants, did not lead to a general submission. He actually advised the King to allow him utterly to destroy and burn to the ground every town that showed resistance. In August he despatched Don Frederick at the head of 16,000 troops to attack Alkmaar, with orders to put every living creature within the walls to death. But the burghers, about 2000 in number, valiantly defended themselves. An assault, after desperate
The Duke of Alva, detested throughout the Netherlands, accused by the royalists of bringing disaster on the country, ill-supported by the King, with no money to pay his mutinous soldiery and with the fleets of Orange riding triumphant on the Zuyderzee and the Meuse, now besought his master to appoint a successor to him in a post in which he had sacrificed health, strength, and reputation. His request was granted; and the Grand Commander, Don Luis Requesens, was appointed to take his place. On December 18,1573, Alva left Brussels for Spain, having persisted to the last in the truculent and pitiless policy which had marked the six bloodstained years of his rule.
The coming of Requesens was marked by repeated efforts to bring about a settlement through direct negotiations. Marnix, in his captivity, was prevailed upon to urge the Prince to make terms. Various intermediaries, Dr Leoninus, Hugo Bonticus, Champagny, and others, engaged with him in correspondence or had interviews with him on the subject. But it was all in vain. William could never be moved from the inexorable three conditions which he always laid down as the basis for any accommodation : freedom of worship and liberty to preach the Gospel according to the Word of God; the restoration and maintenance of all the ancient charters, privileges, and liberties of the land ; the withdrawal of all Spaniards and other foreigners from all posts and employments, civil and military. Unless these conditions were granted, the Hollanders and Zeelanders would fight to the last man ; and, as he wrote to his brother John, " If these poor people should be abandoned by all the world, yet, if they are obstinate in resisting as they have been hitherto, it will cost our enemies the half of Spain, both in money and in men, before that they have triumphed over us." Meanwhile the Stadholder identified himself yet more closely with the cause he had made his own by publicly, October 23, declaring himself a member of the Calvinist communion. There can be little doubt that this step was taken by William of Orange from motives of high policy to strengthen his authority in the Provinces, which he had just induced to give him almost sovereign powers and to vote him, what they had
The beginning of the year 1574 saw Leyden invested by the Spaniards in great force, and Mondragon shut up in Middelburg, the last stronghold that remained to the King in Zeeland. The issue in the case of Middelburg depended upon the mastery of the sea ; and its fate was determined by a bloody victory gained by the fierce Sea-Beggars under the command of Admiral Boisot near Bergen over the Spanish fleet under the very eyes of the Governor-General. Mondragon surrendered on honourable terms, after being reduced to the last extremity, on February 18 ; and Zeeland fell into the hands of the rebels. But this success was immediately counterbalanced by a heavy disaster. Lewis of Nassau had been busily engaged all the winter with his wonted energy in raising troops, with the intention of leading a force to the help of his brother, and of effecting a diversion for the relief of Leyden. He wrote personally to Charles IX, pleading eloquently for help, and not without effect. With a large sum of money received from the French King he hastily equipped a force of some seven thousand foot and three thousand horse-a force of mixed nationalities, partly volunteers, partly mercenaries, with no cohesion or discipline, and at once crossed the Rhine ; with him were his brothers John and Henry, and Christopher, son of the Elector Palatine. After failing in an attempt to take Maestricht by surprise, he advanced along the right bank of the Meuse in the hope of being able to join William, who had set out to meet him at the head of six thousand men. But a strong body of royal troops under the command of the skilful and experienced old soldier, Sancho d'Avila, managed to fall unexpectedly upon the disorderly array of the Nassaus at Mookerheide near Nymegen, and with scarcely any loss utterly annihilated it. Count John escaped with his life; but his two brothers and Duke Christopher were never seen again. Scarcely less to be regretted than the chivalrous Lewis of Nassau, whose enthusiasm and restless energy had played so great a part in the stormy history of his times, was the gallant Henry, the youngest of the band of brothers and the third to lay down his life for the cause of liberty. The one was but thirty-six, the other twenty-four ; and their loss was a grievous blow to William, who loved them both.
The invasion of Lewis, followed as it was by a mutiny of the royal troops, who, irritated by not receiving their arrears of pay, had chosen a general of their own and seized Antwerp, led to a suspension for two months of the siege of Leyden. Unfortunately the inhabitants failed to utilise this interval by laying in an adequate store of supplies. On May 26 a powerful Spanish army under Valdez again invested the town, and by means of a circle of redoubts completely shut out all hope of military relief. It was now that William conceived the desperate plan of submerging the land, and conducting a fleet across the flooded fields
During the nine months that followed there was practically a cessation of hostilities. The Spanish armies were mutinous for lack of pay, Requesens with his empty exchequer being unable to satisfy their demands and hampered by opposition even from among the Belgian loyalists. " As to hatred for our nation, those who are in the
These months of comparative repose were not, however, spent by the Prince solely in futile negotiations. On June 24, 1575, he married Charlotte de Bourbon, daughter of the Duke of Montpensier, and thus a member of the royal House of France. This event casts a peculiar light on William's temperament and character. His wife, Anne of Saxony, was still alive ; and Charlotte de Bourbon was a runaway and renegade nun. Having secretly embraced the Reformed faith, she fled from the Abbey of Jouarre, of which she was head, to the Puritan Court of Heidelberg, to place herself under the protection of the Elector Palatine and his wife. It was soon after this that during a passing visit to Heidelberg (1572) William had made her acquaintance. He had never seen her since, but he now asked her to be his wife, and she consented. In vain Charlotte's father angrily refused his consent ; in vain the Elector of Saxony and Landgrave of Hesse stormed ; in vain his own family remonstrated, and his only surviving brother wrote long letters of sorrowful reproach. Having obtained from five Protestant divines a formally attested statement that they held him " free to marry again by human and divine law," he sent Sainte Aldegonde to conduct his bride from Heidelberg to Emden, and thence to Brill. On the very day after her arrival on Dutch soil the wedding was celebrated with much ceremony and festivity at the church of Brill ; and " la nonne" as his enemies called her, became Princess of Orange. The union proved to be one of the greatest happiness ; and Charlotte was worthy, by her qualities of both head and heart, to share William's fortunes.
After the failure of the conferences at Breda, hostilities were renewed by the Spaniards with energetic determination. The royalist forces amounted to 50,000 foot and 5000 horse, and were irresistible in the field. Oudewater and Schoonhoven were captured in August ; and then Requesens conceived the bold project of emulating the great achievement
Orange accordingly found himself hemmed in on every side. His sea-power alone enabled him still to hold out in a little corner of land of which Delft was the centre ; but he lacked both men and money, and without help from outside saw no prospect of effectual resistance to the overwhelming forces around him. In these desperate circumstances he once more turned for aid, first to France and then to England. His own inclinations were towards France ; but Henry III, who had just succeeded to the throne, was too much embarrassed at the moment by the civil commotions in his own kingdom to be able to lend assistance to others. William therefore had no choice but to fall in with the wishes of the States of Holland, and make approaches to Elizabeth. An embassy had audience of the Queen on November 14. They were authorised to offer her the sovereignty of Holland and Zeeland, on condition that she would assist them with all her power in their struggle against Spain. But Elizabeth was not fond either of rebels or of Calvinists; and, when Champagny, as special envoy from Requesens,
His first step was to summon a meeting of the States of Holland and Zeeland at Delft to consolidate the union between the two Provinces which had been provisionally effected the previous year. They met ; and on April 25, 1576 (the Prince's birthday), an Act of Federation was agreed upon and duly signed. This Act, which consisted of eighteen articles, may be regarded as the germ of the Republic of the United Provinces. By this compact supreme authority was conferred upon the Prince of Orange, as sovereign and chief (souverein en overhoqfd). He was invested in fact, as ad interim ruler, with all the prerogatives belonging to the Spanish monarch as successor to the Counts of Holland. Thus this little group of republics (for each municipality was practically an independent entity) agreed to place in his hands a power, such as they had been unwilling to concede to any of their actual sovereigns. Not only in military matters was he, as commander-in-chief by land and sea, absolutely supreme ; but he had in his hands the final appointment to all political and judicial posts, and to vacant city magistracies. As regards religion, William undertook to maintain the Protestant Reformed faith, and to put down all forms of worship contrary to the Gospel. This last, somewhat elastic, expression was inserted in deference to the Stallholder's disinclination to sanction any measures of persecution against the very considerable number of Catholics who were to be found even in Calvinist Holland and Zeeland. Another article gave William authority, should he deem it needful for the safety of the land, to confer the Protectorate of the Confederacy upon a foreign Prince. With his position thus strengthened in his northern fastness, Orange issued a series of appeals to the patriotism of the other Provinces. In these appeals he called upon them to join with Holland and Zeeland in expelling the Spaniards from the country and in securing for the Netherlands, under the King, the enjoyment of those local liberties and
On the death of Requesens, the Council of State had perforce to take upon themselves the government of the country, pending the arrival of a new Governor-General. All of them, with the single exception of Jerome de Roda, were natives of the Low Countries ; and several, among whom was the Duke of Aerschot, made no secret of being heartily sick of the presence of foreign soldiers in the country and bitterly opposed to any further interference by Spaniards in the government of the Provinces. They urged upon Philip the importance of sending a member of his family as Governor, with full powers. The King accordingly, in April, nominated his half-brother, Don John of Austria, the famous victor of Lepanto, and directed the new Governor-General to repair at once to his post. But Don John, whose ambitious brain was filled with high-flown schemes of self-aggrandisement, and who probably regarded his appointment as due to the King's desire to remove him from Italy, did not obey. Instead of going to Brussels he made his way to Madrid ; and many months passed before he could be persuaded to undertake his new duties. The delay was most injurious to the royalist cause in the Low Countries, where events had meanwhile been moving rapidly.
At the end of June a last effort made by the Prince of Orange for the relief of Zierickzee, in which the gallant Admiral Boisot lost his life, had failed ; and nothing was left to the commandant but to surrender on the favourable terms offered by Mondragon. This capture, however, proved to be one of those victories that are worse than a defeat. The Spanish troops in Schouwen, to whom large arrears of pay were due, finding themselves defrauded by the conditions of the capitulation from the hoped-for pillage of the town, mutinied. They entered Flanders, were joined by other bands of mutineers, and finally seized Alost, which they made their head-quarters. The excesses and outrages of which they were guilty roused against them a violent feeling of indignation throughout the country. The excitement of the populace, especially in Brussels, was intense ; troops were raised to protect the city ; and the Council of State, impotent and trembling for its safety, was compelled to declare the mutineers, who were the soldiers and countrymen of the King, outlaws. But the Spanish veterans were in possession of the principal fortresses in the country, and defied the Council. Orange saw his opportunity, and opened friendly communications with the States of Brabant assembled at Brussels, and with those of Flanders at Ghent, with a view to taking common measures against the common enemy.
The people were on his side ; and, through his reiterated undertaking not to attempt anything subversive of the Catholic religion, he was able to win the support of the great majority of the deputies to his views and proposals. Two events greatly strengthened his position. On September 4 Baron de Héze, who was godson of William and had been appointed by the States of Brabant to the command of their troops in Brussels, seized those members of the Council of State who were suspected of "espagnolisme."" The leaders, Mansfeld and Barlaymont, were confined in the Broodhuis. On September 26, at the wish of the States of Flanders, the Prince sent from Flushing a body of picked troops with artillery to occupy Ghent and cooperate in the siege of its citadel, which was in the hands of a body of mutineers. Meanwhile the States General had met at Brussels, and, largely through the influence of the Duke of Aerschot, between whom and Orange intimate relations had for some time subsisted, entered readily into negotiations for a union of all the Provinces on the basis of exclusion of foreigners and non-interference with religious belief. It was arranged that a Congress should be held at Ghent, at which nine delegates from the Prince of Orange and the Provinces of Holland and Zeeland should meet nine from the States General representing the other fifteen Provinces, with the object of concluding a firm union and alliance for the pacification of the country. The chief difficulty proved to be the question of the toleration of the Catholic cult in the Calvinist Provinces, and of the Protestant conventicles in those adhering to the ancient faith. The Congress met on October 19. The discussions were protracting themselves when the terrible news of the sack of Antwerp caused all minor differences to sink into nothingness in the presence of a common danger.
The famous citadel built by Alva to curb the great city of Antwerp was garrisoned in this month of October, 1576, by a body of mutinous Spanish troops under Sancho d'Avila, the victor of Mookerheide. Cham-pagny was governor of the town ; and, though he had with him a body of German mercenaries commanded by Count Oberstein, he represented to the States General that he could not answer for the security of the place in view of the threatening attitude of the Spaniards. A large reinforcement of militia, sent to his aid under the Marquis of Havre, the Duke of Aerschot's brother, arrived on November 2 ; and the preparations for defence were vigorously pressed on. But the garrison of the citadel on their side began to be alarmed for their safety. They lay under the ban of outlawry recently proclaimed, and an appeal was sent out to their fellow-countrymen in neighbouring fortresses for assistance. Strong detachments of mutineers from Alost and other places at once by forced marches joined their comrades at Antwerp, arriving at nightfall on November 3. The following day at noon an attack was made by the united force upon the troops of Champagny. After a brief struggle
The report of what had happened reached the States General at Brussels on the very day when they were deliberating on the terms of a treaty provisionally agreed upon by the Congress at Ghent on October 28. The treaty was forthwith ratified both by the States General and by the Council of State. This treaty, known in history as the Pacification of Ghent, established a firm alliance and inviolable peace between the Provinces represented by the States General assembled at Brussels on the one part, and by the Prince of Orange and the States of Holland and Zeeland on the other. All were bound to unite their forces for the purpose of driving the Spanish soldiery and other foreigners out of the country. As soon as this should be accomplished, a new assembly of the States General of the seventeen Provinces after the likeness of that convoked by the Emperor Charles V at his abdication was to be summoned to consider the religious question. Meantime all the placards against heretics were declared abolished ; the Prince of Orange was recognised as Governor with full powers and Admiral-General in Holland and Zeeland ; and the confiscation of the possessions of the Houses of Nassau and Brederode was revoked.
At this very time Don John was posting through France in the disguise of a Moorish slave, to take up at last his duties in the Netherlands. On November 4* (the day of the Antwerp disaster) he wrote from Luxemburg to the Council of State to announce his arrival. Acting under the advice of the Prince of Orange, the States General declined to receive him as Governor, unless he would consent to the expulsion of all Spaniards from the country, approve the Pacification of Ghent, and swear to maintain the ancient privileges of the country and to employ none but Netherlander in his service. Angry and disappointed at such a reception, Don John chafed during the winter of 1576 and the spring of 1577, negotiating and discussing, but never able to move the States or Orange from the position which they had taken up.
In January, 1577, the compact of Ghent, which was of the nature of a treaty between Holland and Zeeland and the other Provinces, received a popular confirmation by means of an agreement, which met with large support especially throughout the southern Provinces, and to which was given the name of the Union of Brussels. The signatories proclaimed
Don John made his state entry into Brussels on May 1, but found himself Governor only in name. " The Prince of Orange," he wrote to the King, " has bewitched the minds of all men. They love him and fear him, and wish to have him as their lord. They keep him informed of everything, and take no resolution without consulting him." On every side the impetuous and brilliant soldier found himself thwarted by the sleepless and indefatigable diplomatist. Don John, says a contemporary, "seemed like an apprentice defying his master." Irritated beyond measure, and unable either to intimidate his "silent" adversary by threats or to win him by blandishments, the fiery young Governor wrote in his indignation to Madrid : " that which the Prince loathes most in the world is your Majesty; if he could, he would drink your Majesty's blood." Brussels, full of Orange partisans, was in fact far from being a comfortable place of residence for Philip IPs representative. Don John speedily found it unendurable. His impatient spirit rebelled against the shackles in which he was held ; and, professing to be afraid for his personal security, he suddenly in July put himself at the head of a body of Walloon soldiery, seized Namur, and defied the States General. This suicidal act irretrievably ruined his reputation, even with the southern Catholics. For a while all was confusion. But the voice of the people demanded the presence of the Prince of Orange. All these months he had been consolidating his position in the north. Zierickzee had been retaken,
Matthias, who thus came to assume the sovereignty of the Netherlands, was a foolish boy of twenty. That a member of the Imperial house of Habsburg should thus thrust himself into the troubled arena of the Low Countries was disconcerting not only to his relatives, Don John and King Philip, but even more so to the Prince of Orange. It was all-important that no split should take place which could injure the national cause ; so William at once made up his mind to welcome the intruder, and to use him for his own purposes. The Orange partisans bestirred themselves (not without instigation from headquarters) to secure the nomination of their chief as Ruwaard or Governor of Brabant, and, as William was the idol of the populace, succeeded, despite the opposition of Aerschot and the Catholic nobility. By way of a counterpoise Aerschot had himself appointed Governor of Flanders by the States of that Province ; but the townsfolk of Ghent, led by Ryhove and Hembyze, two revolutionary demagogues, took up arms, and even went so far as to seize the persons of the Duke and other Catholic leaders, and throw them into prison. William disclaimed any share in this act of violence, but it is difficult altogether to exculpate him. He certainly did not exert himself to procure the release of the prisoners, and he remained master of the situation. He treated the Archduke with the greatest courtesy and deference, and secured on his behalf the goodwill of Queen Elizabeth, who promised her help to Matthias in men and money, provided he made the Prince his lieutenant-general, "because of his great experience in affairs."
Matthias in his turn made his solemn state entry into Brussels in
January, 1578, preceded by his lieutenant-general ; and it seemed as if a real union of the entire Netherlands were now to be firmly and satisfactorily established under the nominal rule of a Habsburg Prince, but with all the reins of administration gathered together in the capable hands of William the Silent.
But, just as the sun of fortune, so long obscured, seemed at length to have begun to shine upon the Liberator's path, it was once more suddenly eclipsed. The King of Spain, at last aroused from his torpor by the urgent remonstrances of his half-brother, had been quietly preparing a vigorous counterstroke. A body of 20,000 veteran troops, Spanish and Italian, had been placed under the command of Alexander Farnese, the son of the Duchess of Parma, who had orders to conduct them to the Low Countries to the assistance of his uncle and old school-comrade, Don John. This time, Philip had found the right instrument for a difficult task ; for Farnese proved himself to be the best general of his times, and at the same time a statesman and diplomatist scarcely inferior in astuteness and sagacity to the Prince of Orange himself. He joined Don John; and on January 31 the united force fell upon the federal army at Gemblours. A daring cavalry charge under the personal leadership of the Prince of Parma decided the day. The Netherlanders were utterly routed, with the loss of not less than 6000 men, while on the side of the victors there were scarcely any casualties. Several towns in a short time opened their gates to Don John ; and the States General in terror withdrew from Brussels to Antwerp. Once more all was conflict and confusion. The Duke of Anjou crossed the southern frontier with an army of Frenchmen and made himself master of Mons ; while on the eastern side John Casimir, brother of the Elector Palatine, at the head of a force of German reiters in the pay of the English Queen, also forced his way into the unhappy country. The one came as the champion of the "malcontent" Catholics, the other as that of the ultra-Calvinist sectaries.
Amid so many contending parties William scarcely knew which way to turn. Matthias was already clearly played out. John Casimir and Anjou, representing contradictory interests, could scarcely be both countenanced. The antagonism between Catholic and Protestant was rapidly growing more acute, and it was essential to try and reconcile them ; so Orange carried on negotiations with Germany, France, and England at the same time. Unless help came from without, nothing could be done against 30,000 royal troops ; and to secure what was required he accomplished a task that might have been deemed impossible. He succeeded (August, 1578) in inducing the Duke of Anjou to accept the title of "Defender of the Liberties of the Netherlands," and to promise to bring a force of 10,000 foot and 2000 horse to act against the Spaniards if the Provinces on their part undertook to raise a like number. At the same time he managed to secure the alliance of
Elizabeth, of Henry of Navarre, and of John Casimir. This curious combination of selfish aims and rival aspirations formed a confederacy that was not likely to last ; but at any rate it served the purpose of a makeshift. The defeat of Gemblours had been more than compensated by the acquisition of Amsterdam ; the progress of the Spanish arms had been checked by the skilful tactics of Bossu, the General of the States ; yet such is the disintegrating force of religious antipathies that nothing but the utmost personal efforts and the influence of the Prince was able to keep the national forces in line. All this time, however, Don John, though at the head of an imposing army, had been chafing for many months in compulsory inactivity, due to lack of funds. Disappointed at his ill-success, and deeply hurt by the coldness of his brother, he broke down in health, and, from his camp before Namur, sent despairing appeals to the King for money and for instructions. At last a malignant fever seized him; and, on October 1, 1578, the hero of Lepanto closed his brilliant and adventurous life at the early age of thirty-three. Philip at once appointed Alexander of Parma (Farnese) to take his place; and from that hour a new era commences which was to end in the formation of two groups of Netherland Provinces, each with a character and a history of its own.
Farnese at once began, deftly and subtly, to sow the seeds of dissension amongst the confederates ; and he found the soil ready prepared to reward his labours by a speedy harvest. The seventeen Provinces which had been so laboriously bound together in defence of a common cause by the Pacification of Ghent were not homogeneous. In the Walloon Provinces of the south and south-east, the Reformed doctrines never succeeded in obtaining a firm and permanent foothold. Already, in 1576, the Walloon country had, under the stress of Alva's persecutions, practically reverted to Catholicism ; but these very persecutions had inflamed the inhabitants with the same detestation of foreign tyranny with which they had filled the people of the Teutonic Provinces of the north and west. Orange, therefore, had been able to unite at Ghent all Netherlanders against the alien rule of the Spanish viceroys, so long as it was strictly provided by the " Pacification " that the Catholic religion should be maintained. Two years later, however, the schism, sure to arise sooner or later between allies so dissimilar in their views and aims, was hastened under Parma's fostering care by an outbreak of Calvinist fanaticism, which disgraced the capital of Flanders. This outbreak was in the first instance attributed to the encouragement given by William to the revolutionary leaders, Ryhove and Hembyze, who seized and imprisoned the Duke of Aerschot and other Catholic notables at Ghent. There can be no question that the Prince connived at this act of violence, only to repent bitterly what he had done. For, under the protection of John Casimir, a regular Calvinist tyranny was established at Ghent. Churches and cloisters were sacked and gutted ; monks and
Naturally, this spectre of bigoted Calvinism, dominant and aggressive in so important a centre as Ghent, alarmed the southern Catholics. A party rapidly came into existence, known as the " Malcontents." At its head were a number of Catholic nobles, Montigny, Lalaing, Câpres, Héze, and others. These men were not moved by pure venality, as Protestant historians have frequently said, though no doubt the substantial rewards dangled before their eyes by the artful Farnese had some weight in influencing their decision to take the side of the King. Of the majority of them it may be asserted that they did not love their country less, but their religion more. Genuinely attached to the faith of their ancestors, they trembled at the thought of heresy rampant in the land, and preferred the risk of their political liberties being curtailed by their natural sovereign, to the prospect of seeing their dearest religious convictions flouted and outraged by the fierce Protestant sectaries. William of Orange, from his lofty standpoint of a universal liberty of worship and conscience, might still dream of reconciling the irreconcilable, but he only earned the condemnation of the zealots of both parties, who pronounced him an irreligious man, almost an atheist. Mutually repulsive forces were at work, and were not long in bringing about a cleavage.
On January 5, 1579, a defensive league was signed at Arras by the deputies of Hainault, Douay, and Artois, for the protection of the Catholic religion in those Provinces, and with the avowed purpose of effecting a reconciliation with the King on his approving the political stipulations of the Pacification of Ghent and the Union of Brussels. The treaty of Arras was of the nature of a challenge to the Protestants, and it was answered at once by the Union of Utrecht. On January 29, under the auspices and by the efforts of John of Nassau, now Governor of Gelderland, the representatives of the northern Provinces, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and its district, Gelderland and Zutphen, at a meeting at Utrecht, bound themselves together " as if they were one Province," for the defence of their rights and liberties " with life, blood, and goods " against all foreign potentates, including the King of Spain. There was to be complete freedom of worship in each Province, and no one was to be persecuted for his religious opinions. These two compacts mark the definitive parting of the ways between the northern and the southern Netherlands.
It is important and interesting to note that, despite the claims he himself puts forward in his Apology, William was not the active author
Meanwhile, after a terrible siege of four months, Maestricht, the key of the eastern frontier, had been taken by storm by the royal troops, despite the utmost endeavours of the Prince to relieve it. Its loss made a great impression on men's minds in Brabant and Flanders, and aroused a strong feeling of dissatisfaction against Orange. Ghent indeed had at last been reduced to order, and the Calvinist leaders, Hembyze and Dathenus, forced to leave the town by the personal intervention of William at no slight risk to his life. The position of affairs, as 1579 drew to a close, was moving from bad to worse ; and in the spring of 1580 the hold of the patriot party even upon the north was most seriously shaken by the unexpected defection of George Lalaing, Count of Renneberg, the Stadholder of Groningen. Only in faithful Holland and Zeeland did William retain his old unchallenged authority and the full confidence of the people. The continued secession of so many
The instigator of this edict was Orange's old adversary, Cardinal Granvelle, who on the failure of the efforts of Terranova had not scrupled to suggest to his master the advisability of setting a price on the life of the arch-enemy. " Fear," he argued, " will unman the Prince and prevent him from quietly carrying out his plans." But King and Minister alike mistook the temper and character of their proposed victim. William was not content merely to take up the challenge. The famous Apology of the Prince of Orange, which was written under his direction by his chaplain, Pierre L'Oyseleur, Seigneur de Villiers, is, despite its prolixity and at times rhetorical verbiage, a most remarkable document. This defence, which was first presented to the States General at Delft on December 13, was afterwards published in French, Dutch, and Latin, and sent to every Court of Europe. In it the Apologist gives an account of his entire life and career, and not only rebuts seriatim the charges that had been made against him, but carries the war into the enemy's camp. With pride he dwells upon his Imperial descent, and points out that his ancestors were great lords in the Netherlands when those of Philip were still but petty Counts of Habsburg, and that in later times for a succession of generations they had performed great and memorable services to the Houses of Burgundy and of Austria. He further indulges in a scathing denunciation of the King's own misdeeds and crimes, even venturing to accuse him of the murder of his son and wife, of incest, adultery, and of an innate love of bloodshed and cruelty. He scoffs at the idea of being frightened at a price being set upon his head, as if he had not for years been surrounded by hired poisoners and assassins. He concludes by an impassioned address to the people for whom he had sacrificed his property, the lives of three brothers, and the liberty of his eldest son, and for whose sakes he had for years been holding his life in his hand day and night; and he protests that, if they think he can still serve them, then in God's name let them go forward together in defence of their wives and children and
Many of the Prince's friends and relations, notably the excellent John of Nassau, who at this time relinquished the Stadholdership of Gelderland and returned to Dillenburg, thought the tone of the Apology too violent. But Orange was well aware of what he was doing; and even in his violence there lay concealed careful premeditation and reasoned motive. His aim was to stir up the minds of the Netherlanders against Spain, and at the same time to fill them with implicit trust in himself. The goal of all his striving was the severance of the ties which bound the United Provinces to the Spanish King. Already Holland and Zeeland had pressed him to become their Count instead of Philip ; but William, anxious as yet to take no step which might alienate the Walloon Catholics, had refused. Now, however, that the southerners had proclaimed their reconciliation with their hereditary sovereign, he felt that circumstances had changed.
On September 19, 1580, a treaty had been signed at Plessis-les-Tours (ratified at Bordeaux on January 23, 1581) with the Duke of Anjou, by which the Duke accepted the proffered sovereignty of the United Netherlands on certain conditions, one of which was that " Holland and Zeeland should have the privilege of remaining as they were in the matter of religion and otherwise." These Provinces in fact refused to have the French Prince as their sovereign. William therefore, unwillingly and with no little demur, on July 24, 1581, agreed to assume provisionally the title of Count. He did this in order that he might be able two days later to join in the name of Holland and Zeeland at the public abjuration of their allegiance to Philip II, which he had already persuaded the States General of the other Provinces to make. On July 26, at the Hague, this momentous Act of Abjuration, by which the representatives of Brabant, Flanders, Utrecht, Gelderland, Holland, and Zeeland solemnly declared that the Bang of Spain was deposed from his sovereignty over them on account of his tyranny and misrule, and that they were henceforth absolved from all allegiance to him, was duly carried into effect. But Orange knew well that the newly proclaimed commonwealth could not stand alone. He exerted therefore all his influence and persuasiveness to press forward the coming of the Duke of Anjou. He was aware that the Duke was false, fickle, and depraved, but he hoped to be able to keep him under his personal control, and through him to secure at the same time the good offices of France, to whose throne Anjou was heir, and the friendship of England, whose Queen was for the moment treating him as her favoured suitor.
In January, 1582, the French Prince accordingly set sail from England for Flushing attended by a retinue of English nobles, and with Elizabeth's
The spirit of William of Nassau, which had so long and so often braved misfortunes, once more, however, rose superior to his personal afflictions. By his exertions Anjou was, in July, duly accepted as Lord of Friesland and Duke of Gelderland, and publicly inaugurated at Bruges as Count of Flanders. But this false and feather-brained son of Catharine de' Medici was far from being content with the narrow limits of the sovereignties conferred upon him. He hated his dependence upon the good offices of Orange, his subjection to the authority of the States General, and the restraints placed upon him by the provincial charters. He declared that he felt insulted and humiliated, and that he had no intention of becoming a second Matthias. And he listened readily to
Henceforth the French protectorate, never loved by the people of the United Provinces, became an impossibility. And yet, despite his disillusionment and indignation, William still strove to effect a reconciliation between the States and Anjou, bringing thereby no small share of opprobrium upon himself. At first sight it appears almost inexplicable that so sagacious a statesman should have committed so great a mistake, and persisted in it. But the perusal of William's correspondence, papers and speeches during this period show him to have been fully aware of all that was to be said against the French alliance and its graceless representative, but to have been unable, after an exhaustive survey, to discover in any other combination besides this the slightest hope of salvation for the Netherlands against the power of Spain, when directed by so consummate a leader of men as Alexander Farnese. " You must make your choice between the Spaniard and the Frenchman," was his argument to the obdurate Antwerp Council. "But if you wish for the Spaniard, kill me first." However, not even his influence and powers of persuasion could prevail. Such, indeed, was the feeling excited against him by his continued advocacy of the detested French alliance that William was publicly insulted, and even in peril of his life. An event now took place which gave fresh proof of his leaning towards France, and which considerably increased his unpopularity. On April 7, 1583, he married, in fourth wedlock, Louise de Coligny, daughter of the famous Admiral
Meanwhile Parma had been taking full advantage of the dissensions among his enemies, and moving on from town to town had made himself master of Zutphen and the district of Waes. Had Orange been willing to accept for himself the dukedom of Brabant and the other sovereignties offered to him, and essayed to stir up a national resistance without the damaging assistance of the French, he might perhaps have longer held back the advancing Spanish tide. But he himself judged otherwise. On the ground that he would not accept any dignity unless he possessed the means to uphold it, he refused for some time to place any of the proffered coronets upon his head. But at last he made an exception. For more than a decade already he had ruled with sovereign power in Holland and Zeeland, and, as has been previously recorded, had provisionally some twelve months before accepted the title of Count from the States of those Provinces, in order to induce them to enter the French alliance. Now in changed circumstances he yielded to the urgent representations of the States, and agreed to accept from them the hereditary countship ; and in December, 1583, the necessary documents were already drawn up, ready to be sealed and ratified. He did this because he was resolved to identify himself and his fortunes with those of these two "Sea Provinces," as they were called, which were rebel and Calvinist to the core, determined to perish rather than submit to the yoke of Spain. They served the Prince as an inexpugnable fortress from which to watch and control the course of events outside.
At Delft he fixed his residence, and thence mournfully watched the successive defection of the Catholic nobles and men of note drawn away by Parma's subtle fascination. Even his own brother-in-law, the Count van den Berg, who had succeeded John of Nassau as Stadholder of Gelderland, changed sides like the rest. But William still obstinately clung to the hope that the untrustworthy Anjou would belie all his antecedents by vigorous and straightforward action. Antwerp, with Marnix as its burgomaster, though it not unnaturally refused to acknowledge
Yet he was quite aware that the failure of Jaureguy's attempt on his life would not deter others from repeating it. By one means or another, poison, bullet, steel, assassins were always compassing his death. But it was not easy in Delft for suspicious strangers to find their way into the town, still less to the Prinsenhof, such was the care with which the citizens kept watch and ward over their beloved " Father William." A young Burgundian, Balthasar Gérard, in his devoted loyalty to His Most Catholic Majesty and the cause of which that monarch was the foremost champion, had long conceived a violent hatred of the man whom his training and principles had led him to look upon as an enemy alike to God and the King. The Ban was no sooner published than, fired with fanatical zeal to rid the world of the arch-heretic and rebel- "this monster and public pest," as he called him-Gérard set out for the Netherlands with the design of carrying into execution his holy purpose. Arrived at Luxemburg he there heard of Jaureguy's deed, and later of its failure. He thereupon proffered his services to Parma, and asked for money to enable him to follow in the steps of " the gentle Biscayan now defunct." But Farnese, though he promised the reward in event of success, had not sufficient faith in this insignificant, undergrown youth to advance him any cash in hand. Gérard, however, was not deterred by the coolness of his reception. Under the pseudonym of François Guyon he made his way to Delft, and by means of a carefully prepared fictitious story managed to get access to the Prince of Orange.
His enterprise, however, well-nigh miscarried, for he was ordered to accompany the Seigneur de Caron, and repeat his tale to the Duke of Anjou. As they were journeying, information came of the Duke's death ; and Gérard begged eagerly that he might carry back the news to Delft. On his arrival the would-be assassin was at once conducted to the Prince's chamber, but such was the suddenness of the summons that the Burgundian found himself close to his victim's bedside totally unarmed.
After this his needy condition was brought to the ears of William, who sent him a present of twelve crowns. On the following day (July 9) Balthasar with this money bought a pair of heavy pistols (mousquetons). On July 10 he again gained access into the Prinsenhof on the pretext of obtaining a passport, and, while Orange was at dinner with his family, contrived to conceal himself behind the main staircase, the foot of which was opposite the door of exit from the dining-hall. When William, accompanied by his wife and followed by his sister, the Countess of Schwarzburg, and three of his daughters, came out from dinner to go upstairs, he had scarcely placed his foot on the first step, when a man suddenly appeared and, pointing a pistol at his breast, fired. Three balls passed through his body. The Prince at once fell to the ground, crying out in French, " My God, have pity on my soul ; I am badly wounded. My God, have pity on my soul and on this poor people ! " He was mortally struck, and within a very short time expired.
The feelings of mingled gratitude and vengeance excited by Balthasar Gérard's deed found vent in the splendid public obsequies accorded to the "Father of his Country," as William was affectionately called, and in the barbarous punishment of his murderer, who expired amidst inexpressible torments with courage and constancy. The interment of William took place in the Nieuwe Kerk at Delft at the charges of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Friesland, with great pomp and amidst the tears of the assembled crowds. But the Prince had died almost penniless, and the States of Holland attested in a more practical form their deep obligations to the man, who had sacrificed all in their defence, by voting a provision for his widow and children, and by assigning to his son Maurice a position of high influence in the government of the country.
Thus tragically passed away from the midst of the scene of action its foremost figure. The Prince of Orange was but fifty-one years old ; but from his earliest youth he had been in official harness and entrusted with important charges, and already appeared careworn and rapidly aging, in consequence of the ever-growing burden of a twenty years' struggle which would have crushed almost any other man. But at the time of his assassination, so his physicians said, he was thoroughly healthy and might have lived for many years. He had certainly shown no signs of decrepitude either in mind or body ; and it is impossible to doubt that, had he been spared for another decade, he would have rendered almost incalculable services in organising and consolidating the infant State, which owed its existence to his courage and genius. Yet though cut off, with his task unfinished, William the Silent had really done his work. The foundations of that mighty Dutch Republic, which will ever be inseparably connected with his name, were already laid so strong and deep that on them men of his blood, successive Princes of Orange scarcely less great than he, were able to build up the edifice of a world-wide commercial and colonial empire.