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and gallantry were blended with the dance and the song. Even the liberal pleasures of literature sometimes diversified the orgies of the licentious nobles who attended the two most dissolute and refined of the great courts of Europe. At the dead hour of midnight, when they, exhausted by the tournament, the table, and the dance, retired to repose, the queen-mother held secret conferences with Alva in the apartments of her probably unconscious daughter Elizabeth. The British minister at Madrid announced these conferences to his court with evident alarm. “A post from Bayonne brings news of the meeting of the two queens. There are surely matters in hand of importance, for there are the president of Flanders, the council, and the secretary.” * The minister's inference from the presence of these grave personages was reasonable.
These conferences undoubtedly related to the most effectual means of subduing the protestants in France and Flanders. Mutual succour was stipulated; and, in pursuance of the stipulation, actually afforded. It would be altogether incredible that, if they had been successful to this point, they could there have checked their course. The queen-mother and the duke of Alva were agreed in the necessity of the designs, both pious and political, for destroying the heretics. Alva declared for immediate extermination. He blamed the faint-hearted propositions of France, which he treated as treason to the cause of God. All the huguenot leaders must, he said, be taken off. To this he added, that there must also be a massacre of the whole pestilential sect, as general as that massacre of the French in Italy, known by the name of "The Sicilian Vespers." Catherine ventured to represent that measures so extreme were unsuitable to the reduced state of the royal power in France. She preferred the wiles of an Italian woman, and expressed a wish that while she was busied in alluring the princes and lords into the ancient church, she should, at the same time, make preparations for chastising by arms the *Phaer to Cecil, June 22. 1665. MSS. State Paper Office.
contumacy of the heretical populace. She had, shortly before, answered in the same manner proposals like those of Alva, which had been made to her at Avignon by the pope's legate. The queen and the duke, however, agreeing in their object, and differing only about the option of fraud or force as the best immediate means, it was not difficult to effect a compromise. It was finally determined to adopt the general principle of destroying the incorrigible ringleaders of the heretical factions. Each sovereign was to select the opportunities and modes of execution which should best suit the circumstances of his own dominions. In France, where the parties were mingled, and in some degree balanced, the considerations of time and expediency were evidently more complicated. In suppressing the Belgic disorders, where a catholic army was to be sent from Spain and Italy against a heretical nation, the same perplexities did not exist, and immediate execution appeared more practicable. There
is some reason to believe that the outlines of this project, though couched in the smooth and soft language of courts, were reduced to writing, and subscribed by the sovereigns. In this point the despatch of Phaer concurs with the account already given of the queen of Scots having sent back a messenger to Paris, in the spring of 1566, with the "bond" of the catholic monarchs to root out heresy, the date of which was only a few months after the conferences at Bayonne. It is not likely, however it might be expressed, that it should have been understood by the parties as containing obligations less extensive than those which Mary had voluntarily imposed on herself by her letter to the council of Trent.*
The war of Spain against the Netherlands, one of the most memorable conflicts of modern times, which so soon followed the conference of Bayonne, had its source
The greater part of the summary rests on the testimony of Adriani (Ist. di suoi Tempi, Firenze, 1584), who wrote from materials furnished by Cosmo first duke of Tuscany, a prince whose safety much depended on his information of the designs of the great courts. His narrative is adopted by De Thou. The declaration of the eloquent jesuit, Strada, who wrote at Rome from the papers of the house of Parma, that he will neither affirm nor deny these imputed designs, must be regarded as a confirmation of Thuanus and Adriani.
in more general and more remote causes. The provinces of Lower Germany, which are watered by the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt, had been united under Charles V.; whose power was, however, circumscribed by constitutional boundaries, and balanced by the extensive authority of the provincial states, composed of the clergy, the nobility, and the representatives of the people chosen by the towns. The great and opulent cities of the southern provinces had been the ancient seats of popular liberty, and of those commotions which often expose it to destruction. Of them alone, Antwerp, by its commercial enterprise, kept alive some sparks of the sacred fire of the northern and maritime provinces, where the people,—a daring and robust race of mariners, inured to hardship, to suffering, to dreadful danger, and to daring enterprise,- from behind their dikes and canals smiled on the fruitless advances of invaders. That the mouths as well as the sources of the Rhine became the sole asylum of Germanic liberty on the continent of Europe, will appear unaccountable to those who have not reflected that causes almost the same may bestow on the dwellers amidst mountains, and along shores, the exalted spirit which belongs to the consciousness of secure independence. The three provinces of Holland, Friesland, and Zealand were the most deeply imbued with the Lutheran doctrine of no implicit submission to human power, which flowed on them from northern Germany; and they might also have caught additional boldness and jealousy from the example and opinions of England, with which they maintained an almost daily intercourse. The earliest of modern sufferers for religion were the Protestants of these Burgundian provinces. Charles V. began to proscribe that body of his subjects in the summer of 1521, after he had holden an imperial
"Two voices are there; one is of the sea,
One of the mountains; each a mighty voice:
Wordsworth's Sonnet on the Subjugation of Switzerland, vol. ii. 216
diet at Worms on the subject of suppressing the new heresy. He issued an edict not only for the government of the empire, but for that of his hereditary dominions, particularly including the Netherlands; in which, after reciting the condemnation of Lutheran heresies by the church, he denounced the punishment of death against all who deviated from the doctrines of the apostolic see, or who possessed Lutheran books, or harboured the heretics themselves. All men were commanded to discover those who were suspected of heresy. Solicitation for fugitives was prohibited; not excepting fathers, sons, or brothers. Even by recantation of heresy, no farther grace could be earned than that the men were beheaded, and the women buried alive*, while the contumacious expiated their obstinacy in the flames. These tremendous denunciations were speedily carried into effect. Blood began to be spilt in 1523. "From that time," says father Paul, "to the peace of Câteau-Cambresis in 1558, there were fifty thousand Protestants hanged, beheaded, buried alive, or burnt in the Netherlands."+ Grotius, in writing of a later period, estimates the number at a hundred thousand.
Slaughter like this was of itself sufficient to render any people irreconcilable whose spirit it had not extinguished. Such was the strength of the reforming spirit in the Low Countries, that every execution multiplied heretics. The mighty agency of religion was aided by many minor grievances. Spanish troops were kept up in peace, in contradiction to the Belgic laws. A new ecclesiastical hierarchy of three archbishops and twelve bishops § was established, with an abolition of the juris
*Van Meteren, Hist. des Pays Bas, liv. i. anno 1521. Wagen. Vaderland Hist. iv. Qui de literis divinis dissertassent, privates cœtibus sacrorum causa interfuissent, in viros gladius, in fœminas sub terram defossio statuitur, ita tamen si prius culpam agnoscerent; nam in pervicaces flammis vindicabatur."- Grot. Ann. lib. i.,
Fra Paolo, lib. v. Opp. ii. p. 33.
Grot. Ann. lib. i. The reference of the two great writers to different periods affords the most reasonable explanation of the apparent contradiction. Grotius had the best means of information, and the smaller number is as good a proof of cruelty as the larger.
Archbishoprics of Cambray, Mechlin, and Utrecht; bishoprics of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres, in Flanders; of St. Omer in Artois; of Antwerp and Bois le Duc in Brabant; of Ruremonde in Guelderland; of Namur, in the
diction of the foreign prelates in the neighbourhood, in whose dioceses or provinces the greater part of the Belgic territory had formerly been included; with the purpose, as the Netherlanders believed, of substituting an oppressive and persecuting prelacy in the room of those who were enfeebled and restrained by distance and national difference. These new prelates were also naturally dreaded, as likely to convert the provincial states into mere instruments of the government. The abbots, whose vast domains and princely dignity had maintained the independence of the clergy, were loud in their complaints against these new slaves of the crown and oppressors of the people, whose recently created sees were enriched by the spoils of the ancient and magnificent monasteries. The contrast of Charles V., a native Fleming, with the Spanish manners and temper of Philip, was very unfavourable to the latter, who was suspected of seriously entertaining the monstrous project, which, if his father ever harboured, he had been obliged by experience to renounce, - that of reducing his various dominions, and the still more various nations who dwelt in them, to one uniform model of Spanish rule and belief. The mind of Charles V. was adapted to a variety of institutions and manners, by the diversity of races over whom he had long ruled. Philip II., whose Spanish education had fortified his natural qualities, early betrayed an impatience which sometimes broke through his dissimulation, of the constitutional resistance to his power from the Flemings, who were among the most anciently free of European nations. He embarked at Flushing, for Spain, on the 26th of August, 1559, prophesying, as the event showed truly, that he should never again see the Low Countries; a prediction probably inspired by hatred to a free people. At the moment of his sailing, he is said to have betrayed his secret thoughts in an angry conversation with the prince
province so called; of Haarlem in Holland; of Middleburg in Zealand; of Leuwerden in Friesland; of Deventer and Groningen in the small provinces of Overyssel and Groningen.