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usually attired in black, no one ever understood better than he how to
arrange such exhibitions in a striking and artistic style. We have
seen the theatrical and imposing manner in which he quelled the
insurrection at Ghent, and nearly crusht the life forever out of that
vigorous and turbulent little commonwealth. The closing scene of his
long and energetic reign he had now arranged with profound study, and
with an accurate knowledge of the manner in which the requisite
effects were to be produced. The termination of his own career, the
opening of his beloved Philip's, were to be dramatized in a manner
worthy the august characters of the actors, and the importance of the
great stage where they played their parts. The eyes of the whole world
were directed upon that day toward Brussels; for an imperial
abdication was an event which had not, in the sixteenth century, been
staled by custom.

[Footnote 21: From Chapter I of the "The Rise of the Dutch Republic."
Published by Harper & Brothers. After his abdication Charles V retired
to a monastery, where he died three years later.]

The gay capital of Brabant - of that province which rejoiced in the
liberal constitution known by the cheerful title of the "joyful
entrance" - was worthy to be the scene of the imposing show. Brussels
had been a city for more than five centuries, and at that day numbered
about one hundred thousand inhabitants. Its walls, six miles in
circumference, were already two hundred years old. Unlike most
Netherland cities, lying usually upon extensive plains, it was built
along the sides of an abrupt promontory. A wide expanse of living
verdure - cultivated gardens, shady groves, fertile cornfields - flowed
round it like a sea. The foot of the town was washed by the little
river Senne, while the irregular but picturesque streets rose up the
steep sides of the hill like the semicircles and stairways of an
amphitheater. Nearly in the heart of the place rose the audacious and
exquisitely embroidered tower of the town-house, three hundred and
sixty-six feet in height; a miracle of needlework in stone, rivaling
in its intricate carving the cobweb tracery of that lace which has for
centuries been synonymous with the city, and rearing itself above a
façade of profusely decorated and brocaded architecture. The crest of
the elevation was crowned by the towers of the old ducal palace of
Brabant, with its extensive and thickly wooded park on the left, and
by the stately mansions of Orange, Egmont, Aremberg, Culemburg, and
other Flemish grandees, on the right....

The palace where the states-general were upon this occasion convened
had been the residence of the dukes of Brabant since the days of John
the Second, who had built it about the year 1300. It was a spacious
and convenient building, but not distinguished for the beauty of its
architecture. In front was a large open square, enclosed by an iron
railing; in the rear an extensive and beautiful park, filled with
forest trees, and containing gardens and labyrinths, fish-ponds and
game preserves, fountains and promenades, race-courses and archery
grounds. The main entrance to this edifice opened upon a spacious
hall, connected with a beautiful and symmetrical chapel. The hall was
celebrated for its size, harmonious proportions, and the richness of
its decorations. It was the place where the chapters of the famous
order of the Golden Fleece were held. Its walls were hung with a
magnificent tapestry of Arras, representing the life and achievements
of Gideon the Midianite, and giving particular prominence to the
miracle of the "fleece of wool," vouchsafed to that renowned champion,
the great patron of the Knights of the Fleece.

On the present occasion there were various additional embellishments
of flowers and votive garlands. At the western end a spacious platform
or stage, with six or seven steps, had been constructed, below which
was a range of benches for the deputies of the seventeen provinces.
Upon the stage itself there were rows of seats, covered with tapestry,
upon the right hand and upon the left. These were respectively to
accommodate the knights of the order and the guests of high
distinction. In the rear of these were other benches for the members
of the three great councils. In the center of the stage was a splendid
canopy, decorated with the arms of Burgundy, beneath which were placed
three gilded arm-chairs. All the seats upon the platform were vacant;
but the benches below, assigned to the deputies of the provinces, were
already filled. Numerous representatives from all the States but
two - Gelderland and Overyssel - had already taken their places. Grave
magistrates in chain and gown, and executive officers in the splendid
civic uniforms for which the Netherlands were celebrated, already
filled every seat within the space allotted. The remainder of the hall
was crowded with the more favored portion of the multitude, which had
been fortunate enough to procure admission to the exhibition. The
archers and halbardiers of the body-guard kept watch at all the doors.
The theater was filled, the audience was eager with expectation, the
actors were yet to arrive.

As the clock struck three, the hero of the scene appeared. Cæsar, as
he was always designated in the classic language of the day, entered,
leaning on the shoulder of William of Orange. They came from the
chapel, and were immediately followed by Philip the Second and Queen
Mary of Hungary. The Archduke Maximilian, the Duke of Savoy, and
other great personages came afterward, accompanied by a glittering
throng of warriors, councilors, governors, and Knights of the Fleece.

Many individuals of existing or future historic celebrity in the
Netherlands, whose names are so familiar to the student of the epoch,
seemed to have been grouped, as if by premeditated design, upon this
imposing platform, where the curtain was to fall forever upon the
mightiest emperor since Charlemagne, and where the opening scene of
the long and tremendous tragedy of Philip's reign was to be
simultaneously enacted. There was the bishop of Arras, soon to be
known throughout Christendom by the more celebrated title of Cardinal
Granvelle - the serene and smiling priest, whose subtle influence over
the destinies of so many individuals then present, and over the
fortunes of the whole land, was to be so extensive and so deadly.
There was that flower of Flemish chivalry, the lineal descendant of
ancient Frisian kings, already distinguished for his bravery in many
fields, but not having yet won those two remarkable victories which
were soon to make the name of Egmont like the sound of a trumpet
throughout the whole country. Tall, magnificent in costume, with dark
flowing hair, soft brown eye, smooth cheek, a slight mustache, and
features of almost feminine delicacy - such was the gallant and
ill-fated Lamoral Egmont. The Count of Hoorne,[22] too, with bold,
sullen face, and fan-shaped beard - a brave, honest, discontented,
quarrelsome, unpopular man; those other twins in doom, the Marquis
Berghen and the Lord of Montigny; the Baron Berlaymont, brave,
intensely loyal, insatiably greedy for office and wages, but who at
least never served but one party; the Duke of Arschot, who was to
serve all, essay to rule all, and to betray all - a splendid seignior,
magnificent in cramoisy velvet, but a poor creature, who traced his
pedigree from Adam according to the family monumental inscriptions at
Louvain, but who was better known as grandnephew of the Emperor's
famous tutor Chièvres; the bold, debauched Brederode, with handsome,
reckless face and turbulent demeanor; the infamous Noircarmes, whose
name was to be covered with eternal execration for aping toward his
own compatriots and kindred as much of Alva's atrocities and avarice
as he was permitted to exercise; the distinguished soldiers Meghen and
Aremberg - these, with many others whose deeds of arms were to become
celebrated throughout Europe, were all conspicuous in the brilliant
crowd. There, too, was that learned Frisian, President Viglius,
crafty, plausible, adroit, eloquent - a small, brisk man, with long
yellow hair, glittering green eyes, round, tumid, rosy cheeks, and
flowing beard. Foremost among the Spanish grandees, and close to
Philip, stood the famous favorite, Ruy Gomez, or, as he was familiarly
called, "_Re y Gomez_" (King and Gomez) - a man of meridional aspect,
with coal-black hair and beard, gleaming eyes, a face pallid with
intense application, and slender but handsome figure; while in
immediate attendance upon the Emperor was the immortal Prince of

[Footnote 22: See Prescott's account of the execution of Egmont and
Hoorne, in Volume IX of this collection.]

Such were a few only of the most prominent in that gay throng, whose
fortunes in part it will be our humble duty to narrate; how many of
them passing through all this glitter to a dark and mysterious gloom!
some to perish on public scaffolds, some by midnight assassination;
others, more fortunate, to fall on the battle-field; nearly all,
sooner or later, to be laid in bloody graves!

All the company present had risen to their feet as the Emperor
entered. By his command, all immediately after resumed their places.
The benches at either end of the platform were accordingly filled with
the royal and princely personages invited - with the Fleece Knights,
wearing the insignia of their order, with the members of the three
great councils, and with the governors. The Emperor, the King, and the
Queen of Hungary were left conspicuous in the center of the scene. As
the whole object of the ceremony was to present an impressive
exhibition, it is worth our while to examine minutely the appearance
of the two principal characters.

Charles the Fifth was then fifty-five years and eight months old; but
he was already decrepit with premature old age. He was of about the
middle height; and had been athletic and well proportioned. Broad in
the shoulders, deep in the chest, thin in the flank, very muscular in
the arms and legs, he had been able to match himself with all
competitors in the tourney and the ring, and to vanquish the bull with
his own hand in the favorite national amusement of Spain. He had been
able in the field to do the duty of captain and soldier, to endure
fatigue and exposure, and every privation except fasting. These
personal advantages were now departed. Crippled in hands, knees, and
legs, he supported himself with difficulty upon a crutch, with the aid
of an attendant's shoulder. In face he had always been extremely ugly,
and time had certainly not improved his physiognomy. His hair, once of
a light color, was now white with age, close-clipt and bristling; his
beard was gray, coarse, and shaggy. His forehead was spacious and
commanding; the eye was dark-blue, with an expression both majestic
and benignant. His nose was aquiline but crooked. The lower part of
his face was famous for its deformity. The under lip, a Burgundian
inheritance, as faithfully transmitted as the duchy and county, was
heavy and hanging; the lower jaw protruding so far beyond the upper
that it was impossible for him to bring together the few fragments of
teeth which still remained, or to speak a whole sentence in an
intelligible voice. Eating and talking, occupations to which he was
always much addicted, were becoming daily more arduous in consequence
of this original defect; which now seemed hardly human, but rather an
original deformity.

So much for the father. The son, Philip the Second, was a small,
meager man, much below the middle height, with thin legs, a narrow
chest, and the shrinking, timid air of a habitual invalid. He seemed
so little upon his first visit to his aunts, the Queens Eleanor and
Mary, accustomed to look upon proper men in Flanders and Germany, that
he was fain to win their favor by making certain attempts in the
tournament, in which his success was sufficiently problematical. "His
body," says his profest panegyrist, "was but a human cage, in which,
however brief and narrow, dwelt a soul to whose flight the
immeasurable expanse of heaven was too contracted." The same wholesale
admirer adds that "his aspect was so reverend that rustics who met him
alone in the wood, without knowing him, bowed down with instinctive
veneration." In face he was the living image of his father; having the
same broad forehead and blue eye, with the same aquiline, but better
proportioned, nose. In the lower part of the countenance the
remarkable Burgundian deformity was likewise reproduced: he had the
same heavy, hanging lip, with a vast mouth, and monstrously protruding
lower jaw. His complexion was fair, his hair light and thin, his beard
yellow, short, and pointed. He had the aspect of a Fleming, but the
loftiness of a Spaniard. His demeanor in public was still, silent,
almost sepulchral. He looked habitually on the ground when he
conversed, was chary of speech, embarrassed and even suffering in
manner. This was ascribed partly to a natural haughtiness, which he
had occasionally endeavored to overcome, and partly to habitual pains
in the stomach, occasioned by his inordinate fondness for pastry.

Such was the personal appearance of the man who was about to receive
into his single hand the destinies of half the world; whose single
will was, for the future, to shape the fortunes of every individual
then present, of many millions more in Europe, America, and at the
ends of the earth, and of countless millions yet unborn....

The Emperor then rose to his feet. Leaning on his crutch, he beckoned
from his seat the personage upon whose arm he had leaned as he
entered the hall. A tall, handsome youth of twenty-two came forward: a
man whose name from that time forward, and as long as history shall
endure, has been and will be more familiar than any other in the
mouths of Netherlanders. At that day he had rather a southern than a
German or Flemish appearance. He had a Spanish cast of features, dark,
well chiseled, and symmetrical. His head was small and well placed
upon his shoulders. His hair was dark brown, as were also his mustache
and peaked beard. His forehead was lofty, spacious, and already
prematurely engraved with the anxious lines of thought. His eyes were
full, brown, well opened, and expressive of profound reflection. He
was drest in the magnificent apparel for which the Netherlanders were
celebrated above all other nations, and which the ceremony rendered
necessary. His presence being considered indispensable at this great
ceremony, he had been summoned but recently from the camp on the
frontier, where, notwithstanding his youth, the Emperor had appointed
him to command his army in chief against such antagonists as Admiral
Coligny and the Duc de Nevers.

Thus supported upon his crutch and upon the shoulder of William of
Orange, the Emperor proceeded to address the States, by the aid of a
closely written brief which he held in his hand. He reviewed rapidly
the progress of events from his seventeenth year up to that day.
Turning to Philip, he observed that for a dying father to bequeath so
magnificent an empire to his son was a deed worthy of gratitude; but
that when the father thus descended to the grave before his time, and
by an anticipated and living burial sought to provide for the welfare
of his realms and the grandeur of his son, the benefit thus conferred
was surely far greater. He added that the debt would be paid to him
and with usury, should Philip conduct himself in his administration of
the province with a wise and affectionate regard to their true

Sobs were heard throughout every portion of the hall, and tears poured
profusely from every eye. The Fleece Knights on the platform and the
burghers in the background were all melted with the same emotion. As
for the Emperor himself, he sank almost fainting upon his chair as he
concluded his address. An ashy paleness overspread his countenance,
and he wept like a child. Even the icy Philip was almost softened, as
he rose to perform his part in the ceremony. Dropping upon his knees
before his father's feet, he reverently kissed his hand. Charles
placed his hands solemnly upon his son's head, made the sign of the
cross, and blest him in the name of the Holy Trinity. Then raising him
in his arms he tenderly embraced him, saying, as he did so, to the
great potentates around him, that he felt a sincere compassion for the
son on whose shoulders so heavy a weight had just devolved, and which
only a lifelong labor would enable him to support....

The orations and replies having now been brought to a close, the
ceremony was terminated. The Emperor, leaning on the shoulders of the
Prince of Orange and of the Count de Buren, slowly left the hall,
followed by Philip, the Queen of Hungary, and the whole court; all in
the same order in which they had entered, and by the same passage into
the chapel.




Almost at that very instant intelligence had been brought from the
court to the Lord Admiral at Plymouth that the Armada, dispersed and
shattered by the gales of June, was not likely to make its appearance
that year; and orders had consequently been given to disarm the four
largest ships and send them into dock. Even Walsingham had
participated in this strange delusion.

[Footnote 23: From Chapter XIX of the "History of the United
Netherlands." Published by Harper & Brothers. See Hume's account of
the arrival of the Armada in Volume IV, page 113, of this collection.]

Before Howard[24] had time to act upon this ill-timed suggestion - even
had he been disposed to do so - he received authentic intelligence that
the great fleet was off the Lizard. Neither he nor Francis Drake were
the men to lose time in such an emergency; and before that Friday
night was spent, sixty of the best English ships had been warped out
of Plymouth harbor.

[Footnote 24: Lord Howard of Effingham, commander of the English

On Saturday, 30th July, the wind was very light at southwest, with a
mist and drizzling rain; but by three in the afternoon the two fleets
could descry and count each other through the haze.

By nine o'clock, 31st July, about two miles from Looe on the Cornish
coast, the fleets had their first meeting. There were one hundred and
thirty-six sail of the Spaniards, of which ninety were large ships;
and sixty-seven of the English. It was a solemn moment. The
long-expected Armada presented a pompous, almost a theatrical
appearance. The ships seemed arranged for a pageant, in honor of a
victory already won. Disposed in form of a crescent, the horns of
which were seven miles asunder, those gilded, towered, floating
castles, with their gaudy standards and their martial music, moved
slowly along the channel, with an air of indolent pomp. Their
captain-general, the golden duke, stood in his private shot-proof
fortress, on the deck of his great galleon the _St. Martin_,
surrounded by generals of infantry and colonels of cavalry, who knew
as little as he did himself of naval matters.

The English vessels, on the other hand - with a few exceptions light,
swift, and easily handled - could sail round and round those unwieldy
galleons, hulks, and galleys rowed by fettered slave gangs. The
superior seamanship of free Englishmen commanded by such experienced
captains as Drake, Frobisher,[25] and Hawkins[26] - from infancy at
home on blue water - was manifest in the very first encounter. They
obtained the weather-gage at once, and cannonaded the enemy at
intervals with considerable effect; easily escaping at will out of
range of the sluggish Armada, which was incapable of bearing sail in
pursuit, altho provided with an armament which could sink all its
enemies at close quarters. "We had some small fight with them that
Sunday afternoon," said Hawkins.

[Footnote 25: Sir Martin Frobisher, who in 1576 commanded an
expedition in search of the Northwest Passage, and discovered the bay
since called after him.]

[Footnote 26: Sir John Hawkins at this time was a rear-admiral. He was
knighted after the defeat of the Armada.]

Medina Sidonia[27] hoisted the royal standard at the fore; and the
whole fleet did its utmost, which was little, to offer general battle.
It was in vain. The English, following at the heels of the enemy,
refused all such invitations, and attacked only the rear-guard of the
Armada, where Recalde commanded. That admiral, steadily maintaining
his post, faced his nimble antagonists, who continued to tease, to
maltreat, and to elude him, while the rest of the fleet proceeded
slowly up the Channel closely followed by the enemy. And thus the
running fight continued along the coast, in full view of Plymouth,
whence boats with reenforcements and volunteers were perpetually
arriving to the English ships, until the battle had drifted quite out
of reach of the town.

[Footnote 27: The Duke of Medina Sidonia, who commanded the Armada.]

Already in this first "small fight" the Spaniards had learned a
lesson, and might even entertain a doubt of their invincibility. But
before the sun set there were more serious disasters. Much powder and
shot had been expended by the Spaniard to very little purpose, and so
a master-gunner on board Admiral Oquendo's flag-ship was reprimanded
for careless ball-practise. The gunner, who was a Fleming, enraged
with his captain, laid a train to the powder-magazine, fired it, and
threw himself into the sea. Two decks blew up. The great castle at the
stern rose into clouds, carrying with it the paymaster-general of the
fleet, a large portion of treasure, and nearly two hundred men. The
ship was a wreck, but it was possible to save the rest of the crew. So
Medina Sidonia sent light vessels to remove them, and wore with his
flag-ship to defend Oquendo, who had already been fastened upon by his
English pursuers. But the Spaniards, not being so light in hand as
their enemies, involved themselves in much embarrassment by their
maneuver, and there was much falling foul of each other, entanglement
of rigging, and carrying away of yards. Oquendo's men, however, were
ultimately saved and taken to other ships.

Meantime Don Pedro de Valdez, commander of the Andalusian squadron,
having got his galleon into collision with two or three Spanish ships
successively, had at last carried away his foremast close to the deck,
and the wreck had fallen against his main-mast. He lay crippled and
helpless, the Armada was slowly deserting him, night was coming on,
the sea was running high, and the English, ever hovering near, were
ready to grapple with him. In vain did Don Pedro fire signals of
distress. The captain-general - even as tho the unlucky galleon had not
been connected with the Catholic fleet - calmly fired a gun to collect
his scattered ships, and abandoned Valdez to his fate. "He left me
comfortless in sight of the whole fleet," said poor Pedro; "and
greater inhumanity and unthankfulness I think was never heard of among

Yet the Spaniard comported himself most gallantly. Frobisher, in the
largest ship of the English fleet, the _Triumph_, of eleven hundred
tons, and Hawkins in the _Victory_, of eight hundred, cannonaded him
at a distance, but night coming on, he was able to resist; and it was
not till the following morning that he surrendered to the _Revenge_.

Drake then received the gallant prisoner on board his flag-ship - much
to the disgust and indignation of Frobisher and Hawkins, thus
disappointed of their prize and ransom money - treated him with much
courtesy, and gave his word of honor that he and his men should be
treated fairly like good prisoners of war. This pledge was redeemed;
for it was not the English, as it was the Spanish custom, to convert
captives into slaves, but only to hold them for ransom. Valdez
responded to Drake's politeness by kissing his hand, embracing him,
and overpowering him with magnificent compliments. He was then sent on
board the Lord Admiral, who received him with similar urbanity, and
exprest his regret that so distinguished a personage should have been
so coolly deserted by the Duke of Medina. Don Pedro then returned to
the _Revenge_, where, as the guest of Drake, he was a witness to all
subsequent events up to the 10th of August; on which day he was sent
to London with some other officers, Sir Francis claiming his ransom as
his lawful due.

Here certainly was no very triumphant beginning for the Invincible Armada.
On the very first day of their being in presence of the English fleet - then
but sixty-seven in number, and vastly their inferior in size and weight of

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