Изображения страниц

expulsion of the English, who had now possessed it above 200 years. But in the mean time the troops of Philip gained another battle in the neighbourhood of Gravelines, in which Count Egmont, the Spanish general, completely defeated the French under the Marshal de Ternis. This

appeared to Philip a favourable juncture for making peace with the greatest advantage; the treaty of Chateau Cambrésis was accordingly concluded between Spain and France, in the year 1559, extremely advantageous for Spain, as the French, mortified by their losses, gave up no less than eighty-nine fortified towns in the Low Countries and in Italy. Philip likewise, assuming all the authority of a conqueror, caused the territory of Bouillon to be restored to the bishop of Liege; Montferat to the duke of Mantua; Corsica to the Genoese; and Savoy, Piedmont, and Bresse to the duke of Savoy. Henry II. was likewise, at the same time, obliged to conclude a peace with Elizabeth of England, of which one condition was the re-delivery of Calais, which Henry agreed to restore within eight years, or to pay five hundred thousand crowns; but Calais was never restored, nor was the money ever paid. Philip cemented this peace by marrying Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry II. This princess, it is said, had been promised in marriage to his son, Don Carlos, a circumstance on which some writers have founded a most romantic story of distress, and which is said to have been the cause of that deplorable catastrophe which, as we shall afterwards see, befel both the unfortunate prince and the queen, his mother-in-law.

Philip returned in triumph to Spain, where his active mind, now at ease from foreign disturbances, began to be disquieted on the score of religion, and he laid down a fixed resolution to extirpate every species of heresy from his dominions. The inquisition was invested with all the plenitude of the powers of persecution. It is wonderful how much the spirit of this tyrant coincided with that of his consort Mary of England; only Mary burnt the protestants at once, and Philip prepared them for that ceremony by racks and tortures.


king of Spain, hearing that there were some heretics in a valley of Piedmont, bordering on the Milanese, sent orders to the governor of Milan to despatch a few troops that way, and concluded his order in two remarkable words, "ahorcad todos"hang them all. Being informed that the same opinions were entertained by some of the inhabitants of Calabria, he ordered one-half to be hanged and the other burned: the consequences of these cruelties were what he did not foresee, the loss of a third part of his dominions.

The Netherlands were an assemblage of seignories or lordships, subject to Philip II. under various titles. Each province had its particular laws and usages, and was under the command of a governor, who had the title of Stadtholder; and no law was enacted, or taxes imposed, without the sanction of the whole States in the district. In the year 1559, Philip conferred the government of Holland, Zealand, Friesland, and Utrecht, on William of Nassau, prince of Orange, who was also a count of the German empire.

The new opinions of Calvin and of Luther,

which had made great progress in the Netherlands, gave Philip much disquiet. He determined to create new bishops, to establish the Inquisition with its amplest powers, and, in order to enforce the most implicit submission to his authority, he resolved to abrogate all the ancient laws of the provinces, and give them a political system of his own devising. The report of these innovations created a dreadful alarm, and a meeting was held of the chief lords of the Netherlands, who deputed two of their number to lay their humble remonstrances before the king at Madrid. The effect which this produced was, that the duke of Alva was immediately sent into Flanders to suppress what was termed an unnatural rebellion; but there had been no rebellion if this measure had not occasioned one.

William I., prince of Orange, was a man of a haughty, reserved, and resolute turn of mind. He had seen several of the nobility, his friends, the counts Egmont and Horn, with eighteen other gentlemen, beheaded on account of their religion by sentence of the Inquisition at Brussels; and the prince himself was sentenced to undergo the same fate, as a Calvinist and heretic. In the prospect of this impending destruction, he conceived the magnanimous resolution of delivering his country from the yoke of its merciless tyrant, and confident that the great body of the people were kept in their allegiance to the Spanish government only from the principle of fear, which would be dissipated on the first dawning of success, he immediately began to collect an army. In a short time, having reduced some of the most important

garrisons in Holland and in Zealand, he was solemnly proclaimed Stadtholder of the United Provinces by a general convocation of the States at Dort, who, at the same time, openly threw down the gauntlet of defiance to Philip II. by declaring that the Romish religion should for ever be abolished from these provinces. Hostilities began, on the part of Philip, by laying siege to the rebellious city of Haerlem; and the town being at length compelled to surrender, the whole magistrates, all the Protestant ministers, and above fifteen hundred of the citizens, were hanged. Philip's viceroy, the duke of Alva, who at this time resigned his government, boasted, that during the period of his administration he had put eighteen thousand persons to death by the hands of the public executioner. His successor followed the same plan which had been prescribed by his tyrannical master. The Spaniards besieged Leyden, which was most resolutely defended by the prince of Orange. The Dutch threw down the dykes which restrained the encroachments of the sea, and the whole country was laid under water; and what was equally singular, as an effort of vigorous perseverance, the Spaniards continued the siege, and attempted to drain off the inundation. But the Dutch compelled them, at length, to abandon the undertaking. The whole seventeen provinces had suffered equally from the harassing of their sovereign; but jealousy of the power of the prince of Orange prevented a general union, and only seven of these asserted their independence.


Philip now sent his brother, the celebrated Don



John of Austria, whom we have seen victorious over the Turks at Lepanto, to endeavour to regain the revolted Netherlands; but the attempt was fruitless. The prince of Orange summoning a meeting of the provinces at Utrecht, a treaty of union was formed, which became the foundation of the commonwealth of Holland. It was agreed by this treaty, that they should defend each other as one body; that they should consult concerning peace and war; establish a legislative authority; regulate the imposition of taxes; and maintain a liberty of conscience in matters of religion. These Seven United Provinces were Guelderland, Holland, Zealand, Friesland, Utrecht, Overyssel, and Groningen. They chose William prince of Orange to be their head, with the authority of general of their armies, admiral of their fleets, and chief magistrate, by the name of Stadtholder. This famous treaty bears date the 23rd January, 1579.

The intelligence of these proceedings exasperated Philip in the most extreme degree. He proscribed the prince of Orange, and set the price of 25,000 crowns upon his head. William, in his answer, which is one of the finest things recorded in history, considers himself as on a level with the king of Spain; impeaches him for injustice, perfidy, and tyranny, at the tribunal of all Europe; and declares, for his own part, that though he might imitate the conduct of Philip by proscribing him in his turn, he abhorred the base revenge, and rested his security upon the point of his sword.

Philip, however, compassed his vengeance against the prince of Orange: the reward had its effect, and repeated attempts were made against

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »