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The ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) online

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and that, on the other side, the contest of opinions
was carried on with greater vehemence, and perse-
cution became more severe and crushing*.

In all countries, wherever the principle of ca-
tholic restoration was not possessed of sufficient
strength to gain ascendency, its effect was to widen
the breach between the parties, and to render their
differences more striking and irreconcilable.

Of this Switzerland afforded another example,
although each canton had long possessed religious
independence, and the disagreements which occa-
sionally broke out concerning the terms of the con-
federation were very nearly settled.

vBut the Jesuits now found their way into this coun-
try. In the year 1 574, at the suggestion of a colonel
of the Swiss guard in Rome, they went to Lucern,
and found sympathy and support, especially from
the family of Pfyfferf . Louis Pfyffer alone is sup-
posed to have contributed 30,000 guilders towards
the foundation of the Jesuits' college; Philip II. and
the Guises are also said to have advanced some-
thing towards it; and Gregory XIII., who never
withheld his assistance from such institutions, gave
the means to purchase a library. The people of
Lucern were delighted, and wrote expressly to re-

* Campiani Vita et Martyrium, as well as Sacchinus. In-
golstadii, 1584.
t Agricola, 177.



94 CONTRASTS EXHIBITED IN EUROPE. [bOOK V.

quest the general of the order not to deprive them
of the fathers of the company who had already ar-
rived : " It was their most earnest wish to see their
youth well brought up in sound learning, and more
especially in piety and a christian life." They pro-
mised, in return, to spare neither pains nor labour,
neitber their property nor their blood, to comply
with every wish of the order*.

An opportunity was soon afforded them of show-
ing their renovated zeal for Catholicism in a matter
of some importance.

The city of Geneva had placed itself under the
peculiar protection of Berne, and now endeavoured
to draw into this alliance Soleure and Freiburg,
which usually attached themselves to Berne in po-
litical, although not perhaps in ecclesiastical mat-
ters. With respect to Soleure they succeeded. A
catholic city took under its protection the focus of
western protestantism. Gregory XIII. was alarmed,
and used every effort, at any rate to deter Freiburg
from following the example of her neighbour. Lu-
cern now came to his assistance ; an embassy from
that city united its exertions to those of the papal
nuncio. Freiburg not only refused to enter into
the proposed alliance, but invited the Jesuits ; and,
with the help of the pope, a college soon arose in
this canton.

In the meanwhile the influence of Carlo Borro-
meo's unwearied zeal and spotless character began

* Literse Lucernensium ad Everardum Mercurianum in Sac-
chinus, Hist, Soc. Jesu, iv. v. 145.



§ VIII.] CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. 95

to be felt ; more especially in the Wald cantons.
Melchior Lussi, the landamman of Unterwaiden,
was esteemed his particular friend. Carlo Borro-
meo sent thither in the first place capuchin friars,
who made a great impression in the mountain di-
stricts by the austerity and simplicity of their lives ;
to them succeeded the pupils of the Swiss college,
which he had founded for this express purpose.

Their influence was soon traced in all public af-
fairs. In the autumn of 1579, the catholic cantons
concluded a treaty with the bishop of Basle, by
which they promised not only to protect him in
religious matters, but also, if oj^portunity offered,
to bring back " to the true catholic faith" those of
his subjects who had become protestants ; engage-
ments which naturally aroused the lutheran part
of the community. Tlie animosity became fiercer
than it had been for a long time. A papal nuncio
arrived, who was received in the catholic cantons
with the greatest possible honours ; while from the
protestants he experienced nothing but contempt
and insult.



§ 8. CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS.

The religious condition of Europe was now as
follows.

Restored Catholicism, under the forms it had as-
sumed in Italy and Spain, had made a formidable
inroad upon the rest of Europe. In Germany it
had achieved no inconsiderable conquests, and had



9Ö CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. [bOOK V.

made progress in many other countries ; yet it had
everywhere encountered a vigorous resistance. In
France the protestants were protected by extensive
concessions, and by their strong pohtical and mihtary
position. They 2:»redominated in the Netherlands.
They ruled paramount in England, Scotland, and
in the north. In Poland they had extorted peremp-
tory laws in their favour, and a great influence in
the general affairs of the kingdom. Throughout the
whole Austrian dominions they stood, armed with
their old provincial rights, face to face with the go-
vernment. In Lower Germany a complete change
appeared to threaten the religious institutions.

In this state of aflairs, it was of the utmost im-
portance to know what would be the issue of the
contest in the Netherlands, where there was con-
tinually a fresh resort to arms.

It was impossible that Philip II. could intend to
repeat measures which had proved so abortive, —
nor was he indeed in a condition to attempt them ;
it was his good fortune that he found friends who
came spontaneously to his aid, and that protestant-
ism Avas arrested in its career by an unexpected
and invincible obstacle. It will be w^ell worth our
w4iile to pause for a moment over this important
event.

In the first place, it was by no means agreeable
to all parties in the provinces, and least of all to
the Walloon nobility, to see the prince of Orange
acquiring so much power.

Under the king's government, these nobles had
always Ijeen the first to take horse in the French



§ VIII.] CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. 97

wars ; and the leaders of note, whom the people
were accustomed to follow, had thence acquired a
certain independence and authority. Under the
government of the states, they were thrown into
the background ; their pay was irregular: the army
of the states consisted principally of Dutch, En-
glish and Germans, who enjoyed the greatest con-
fidence as being undoubted protestants.

When the Walloons acceded to the treaty of
Ghent, they had flattered themselves that they
should obtain a leading influence in the general af-
fairs of the country. But the very reverse took
place. Power fell almost exclusively into the hands
of the prince of Orange and his friends of Holland
and Zealand.

Affairs of religion were blended with the person-
al disgusts thus engendered. Whatever was the
cau,se, it is certain that the protestant movement
found little sympathy in the Walloon provinces.
The new^ bishops, almost all of them men of great
activity and influence, had been peaceably in-
stalled in their sees. In Arras, we find Francois de
Richardot, who had become thoroughly imbued
with the principles of the restoration at the council
of Trent ; we are told, in terms of boundless ad-
miration, how he united in his discourses firm-
ness and impressiveness with elegance and learn-
ing, and in his life, zeal with knowledge of the
world * : in Namur, Antoine Havet, a dominican,

* Gazet, Histoire Ecclesiastique des Pays-Bas, p. 143, thinks
him " subtile e solide en doctrine, nerveux en raisons, riche eu
VOL. II. H



98 CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. [bOOK V.

perhaps endowed with less worldly wisdom, hut
also a former memher of the council, and equally
indefatigable in the introduction of its regula-
tions*: in St. Omer, Gerhard de Ilamericourt,
one of the richest prelates in the provinces (also
abbot of St. Bertin), whose ambition it was to pro-
mote the studies of the youth of his diocese, and
to establish schools ; and who first founded in the
Netherlands a college for the order of Jesus, and
endowed it with permanent funds. Under the guid-
ance of these and other heads of the church, Artois,
Hainault and Namur remained exempt from the
savage fury of the iconoclastic storm which deso-
lated the other provinces. As a consequence of
the same causes f, the reaction excited by Alva's
atrocities was not felt so powerfully there j. The
decrees of the council of Trent were, without much
delay, discussed in the provincial councils and sy-
nods of the diocese, and put in execution. The
influence of the Jesuits spread rapidly from St.
Omer, and still more from Douay. Philip II. had
founded an university at Douay, in order to aftbrd

sentences, copieux en dlscours, poly en son langage et grave en
actions, mais surtout I'excellente piete et vertu, qui reluisait en
sa vie, rendait son oralson persuasive."

* Havensius, De Erectione Novorum Episcopatuum in Belgio,
p. 50.

t Hopper, Recueil et Memorial des Troubles des Pays-Bas, 93,
98.

X According to Viglii Commentarius Rerum Actarum super
impositionc Decimi Denarii, in Papendrccht, Analecta i. 1, 292,
the tenth penny was imposed with the assurance, that it should
not be strictly exacted.



§ VIII.] CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS, 99

his subjects who spoke the French language an op-
portunity of studying in their own country. This
formed a part of the plan for a close ecclesiastical
constitution which he intended to establish through-
out his dominions. Not far from Douay stood the be-
nedictine abbey of Anchin, where, in the days when
the fury of the image-breakers raged in the greater
remaining part of the Netherlands, the abbot Jean
Lentailleur practised the religious exercises of Ig-
natius with his monks. Filled with the enthusiasm
generated by these practices, he determined to endow
out of the revenues of his abbey a college of Jesuits
in the newuniversity ; this was accordingly opened in
the year 1568, immediately acquired a certain inde-
pendence of the authorities of the university, and
prospered extremely ; eight years afterwards the
flourishing condition of the university, even in
respect to literature, was chiefly ascribed to the
Jesuits. Not only was their college filled with pious
and diligent young men, but the other colleges had
greatly improved from the emulation it excited ;
it already furnished the whole university with
excellent theologians, and the j^rovinces of Ar-
tois and Hainault with numerous priests*. By
degrees this college became the central point of

* Testimonium Thomae Stapleton (rector of the universit}')
in tlie year 1576, in Sacchinus, iv. iv. 124. " Plurimos ex hoc
patrum collegio," — that is to say, the collegium Aquicintense, —
" Artesia et Hannonia pastores, multos schola nostra theologos
optime institutes et comparatos accepit." There follow still
higher panegyrics, which we may the more easily omit, as Staple«
ton himself was also a Jesuit.

H 2



100 CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. [bOOK V.

modern Catholicism for all the surrounding districts.
In the year 1.578, the Walloon provinces were
esteemed by their contemporaries (to use the ex-
pression of one of them) in the highest degree
catholic*.

But the religious condition of the country was
threatened no less than its political claims, by the
ascendency of protestantism.

Protestantism had assumed a form in Ghent, which
in these times we should describe as revolutionary.
The ancient liberties which had been destroyed by
Charles V. in 1539, were by no means forgotten.
Alva's cruelties had excited peculiar exasperation
in this city, and the populace was of an migoverna-
ble character, given to image-breaking and violently
irritated against the priests. Two bold leaders,
Imbize and Ryhove, took advantage of this state
of popular feeling to put themselves at the head of
the mob. Imbize conceived the project of esta-
blishing a pure republic, and dreamt that Ghent,
under such a form of government, might become a
second Rome. Their first act was to arrest their
governor Arschot, while engaged in holding a
meeting with some of the bishops and catholic
leaders of the neighbouring towns; they then esta-
blished the old constitution, of course with some
alterations securing to themselves the possession
of power ; they seized upon the property of the
church, abolished the bishoprick, confiscated the

* Michiel, Relatione di Francia : " il conte (the governor of
Hainaiilt) e cattolichissirao, come e tutto quel contado insieme
con quel d* Artoes che li e propinquo."



§ VIII.] CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. 101

abbeys, and converted the hospitals and convents
into barracks ; and finally they endeavoured by
force of arms to introduce the same order of things
among their neighbours*.

Some of those leaders who had been taken pri-
soners together with Arschot belonged to the Wal-
loon provinces, into which the troops of Ghent
made incursions ; all those who were inclined to
protestantism began to rouse themselves ; and from
the example of Ghent, the democratic inclinations
of the people were brought into intimate relation
with their religious feelings. In Arras, an insur-
rection broke out against the senate ; in Douay
itself the Jesuits were driven out, against the wish
of the senate, by a popular commotion; their exile
lasted indeed but a fortnight, yet even this was an
important event ; and in St. Omer they maintained
tli^ir position only through the especial protection
of the senate.

The civic magistrates, the provincial nobility, the
clergy, all were suddenly menaced with danger and
oppression, with a revolution of a no less destructive
nature than that which had already taken place in
Ghent ; no wonder therefore that in this extremity
of peril they sought every means of defence. With
this view they first brought into the field their
troops, which laid waste the country round Ghent
with the most savage atrocity, and then looked
around for an alliance offering greater promise of

* Van der Vynkt's Hist, of the Netherlands^ vol. ii., book vi.,
sec. 2 ; this section is probably the most important of the whole
book.



102 CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. [bOOK V.

security than was afforded by their connexion with
tiie united Netherland provinces.

Don John of Austria did not fail to take advan-
tage of this state of iiublic feeling. On a cursory
and general survey of Don John's measures and
conduct in the Netherlands, it would appear that
they produced no results whatever ; that his whole
existence had passed away, leaving as little trace
on the world as it had afforded satisfaction to him-
self. But if we consider more accurately wliat
was his position, what were his actions, and what
their consequences, we shall he forced to admit
that the settlement of the Spanish Netherlands
is to be ascribed pre-eminently to him. For some
time he tried to adhere to the terms of the treaty
of Ghent ; but the independent attitude which
the States had taken up, the situation of the
prince of Orange, who was far more powerful
than himself, the viceroy, and the mutual suspi-
cion of the parties, necessarily tended to an open
rupture. Don John made up his mind to begin
the war ; unquestionably this was contrary to the
wishes of his brother, but it was inevitable ; by this
means alone could he possibly succeed in recon-
quering one province to the crown of Spain, and in
this he did succeed. He kept possession of Lux-
emburg, he invested Namur, and in consequence
of the battle of Gemblours, became master of Lou-
vaine and Limburg. If the king wished to regain
his power over the Netherlands, this was not to
be effected by an accommodation with the States
General, which was evidently impracticable, but



§ VIII.] CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. 103

only by a gradual subjugation of the particular
districts, either by treaty or force of arms. This
system Don John pursued, and speedily opened to
himself the most extensive prospects. He rekin-
dled the old attachment of the Walloon provinces
to the Burgundian race, and especially brought
over to his party two men of great importance,
Pardieu de la Motte, governor of Gravelines. and
Matthieu Moulart, bishop of Arras*.

These were the two men who, after the early
death of Don John, conducted the negotiations on
which every thing depended, with the greatest zeal
and the most successful skill.

De la Motte availed himself of the newly -kindled
hatred against the protestants. He managed that
the garrisons belonging to the States should be re-
moved from many strong places solely on account
of their protestantism, and that early in November
the nobles of Artois should decree the expulsion of
all lutherans from that province ; a decree which
they carried into execution. Matthieu Moulart now
endeavoured to bring about a complete reconcilia-
tion with the king. He began by invoking the as-
sistance of God by a solemn procession through the
city ; an act of devotion prompted by his sense of
the enormous difficulties he had to contend with, as

* That they were won over to Don John is evident from
both the following passages. 1. Strada, ii. 1, p. 19 : " Pardiaeus
MottEG dominus non rediturum modo se ad regis obedientiam sed
etiam quamplures secum tracturumjam pridem significarat Joanni
Austriaco." 2. Tassis : " Episcopum Atrebatensem, qui vivente
adhuc Austriaco se regi conciliarat."



104 CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. [bOOK V.

he had sometimes to induce men to coalesce whose
claims were directly at variance. He proved himself
indefatigable, subtle, and conciliating, and perfectly
succeeded in his object.

Alessandro Farnese, the successor to Don Jolm,
had the mighty talent of persuading, attaching, and
of inspiring lasting confidence ; at his side stood
Francois Richardot, the nephew of the bishop, " a
man," says Cabrera, " of sound and perspicacious
judgement in various matters, and experienced in
all ; competent to conduct all business, of whatso-
ever sort it might be;" and Sarrazin, abbot of St.
Vaast, described by the same Cabrera, " as a great
politician under the appearance of quietness, am-
bitious with the demeanor of humility, and one who
knew how to sustain his dignity in the eyes of
all*."

It will be impossible for us to trace the whole
progress of the negotiations until they gradually
attained their object.

It is sutficient to remark that, on the side of the
provinces, the interests of self-preservation and of
their religion pointed immediately to the king ; on
the side of the king, nothing w^as left untried which
priestly influence and dexterous negotiation, united
with the returning faA^our of the prince, could effect.
In April 1579, Emanuel de Montigny, whom the
Walloon army had recognised as their general, en-
tered into the pay of the king. Upon this, count
De Lalaing went over, without whom Hainault

* Cabrera, Felipe Segundo, p. 1021.



§ VIII,] CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. 105

could never have been won. At length, on the 17th
of May 1579, the treaty was signed in the camp
at Maestricht. But to what conditions was the
king subjected ! It was indeed a restoration of his
sovereignty, but under the strictest limitations. Not
only did he promise to dismiss all foreigners from
his army and only to employ Netherland troops,
but confirmed all present possessors in the offices
which they had acquired during the disturbances.
The inhabitants pledged themselves, on their part,
to receive no garrison of which information had not
been previously given to the estates of the country ;
two-thirds of the council of state were to consist of
men who had been implicated in the disturbances.
The other articles were framed in the same spirit*.
The provinces thus attained an independence such
as they had never before enjoyed.
^ This event involved a turn of affairs of universal
importance. Throughout the west of Europe no
other means had hitherto been resorted to for the
maintenance and restoration of Catholicism than
the application of open force ; and the monarchical
power, under this pretence, had endeavoured com-
pletely to annihilate all provincial rights and fran-
chises. It was now compelled to adopt another
course. If kings wished to restore Catholicism,
and maintain themselves, they could do so only by
a strict union with representative bodies and popu-
lar privileges.

But to whatever extent the royal power of Spain

* Tassis gives this treaty in all its details, lib. v. 394 — 405.



106 CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. [bOOK V.

was limited, it had yet made an immense acqui-
sition. It had recovered the provinces upon
which the greatness of the house of Burgundy had
been founded. Alessandro Farnese kept the field
with the Walloon troops, and although the progress
of the war was slow, he continued to advance ; he
took Courtray in 1580, Tournay in 1581, and Oude-
narde in 1582.

But affairs were not decided by these successes.
It was precisely the union of the catholic provinces
with the king, that forced the northern districts
(which were exclusively protestant) not only to
draw closer their mutual alhance, but eventually to
emancipate themselves entirely from the king.

Let us here take a rapid review of the history of
the Netherlands. In all the provinces a contest
had subsisted for ages between the provincial privi-
leges and the royal prerogative. In Alva's time
the latter had attained an ascendancy it never had
before possessed, and which it could not even then
maintain. The treaty of Ghent showed how com-
pletely the popular bodies had gained the uj^per
hand over the government. In this respect the
northern provinces could claim no pre-eminence
over those of the south ; and had they been united
in the matter of religion, they would have consti-
tuted one common Netherland republic; but, as we
have seen, they fell asunder. It followed, first,
that the catholics placed themselves once more
under the protection of the king, with whom their
strongest bond of union was the determination to
maintain the catholic religion ; hence it likewise



§ VIII.] CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. 107

followed that the protestants, after having so long
persevered in the struggle, at length threw aside
the very name of subjection, and completely shook
off the authority of the king. We may indeed call
the one party the subject provinces, and describe
the other as a republic ; but we must not suffer our-
selves to be misled by these names' into a belief
that the difference in their internal organization
was at first great. The subject provinces asserted
all their popular rights and privileges with the
greatest spirit ; while the republican provinces
possessed, in the office of viceroy, an institution
analogous to that of royalty. Their chief differ-
ence lay in their religion.

This brought out the true points of the con-
test, and events now advanced to their consum-
mation.

^ Just at this time Philip II. had conquered Portu-
gal, and in the moment of triumph, stimulated as
he was to new enterprises by this signal success,
the Walloon states at length consented to the return
of the Spanish troops.

Lalaing and his wife, who had always been a
great opponent of the Spaniards and to whom their
expulsion was ascribed, were won over, and the
whole body of the Walloon nobihty followed their
example ; men were persuaded that all danger of a
renewal of Alva's acts of tyranny and violence was
at an end. The Spanish-Italian army, which had
once been removed, again brought back, and again
dismissed, returned once more. With the Nether-
land troops alone, the war would have been in-



108 CRISIS IN THE NETHERLANDS. [bOOK V.

tcnninablc ; the superiority of these veteran, well-
disciplined troops brought matters to a crisis.

While in Germany the colonies of Jesuits, consist-
ing of Spaniards, Italians and a few Netherlanders
had restored Catholicism by their teaching and by
the inculcation of the principles of their creed,
in the Netherlands an Italico- Spanish army came
to unite its forces to the catholic element of the
native population, the Walloons, for the re-esta-
blishment of catholic supremacy by the sword.

In treating of this period of history, it is impos-
sible to avoid speaking of war ; it involves the des-
tinies of religion.

In the month of July 1583, both the harbour
and the town of Dunkirk were taken in six days ;
shortly afterwards Nieuport, and all the coast as far
as Ostende, Dixmunde and Funics.

Even here the character of this war manifested
itself. In all political matters the Spaniards were
forbearing; but inexorable wherever the interests of
the church were concerned. There was not the
slightest question of tolerating the public or even
the private worship of the protestants. All the



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