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Title: History of the Reign of Philip the Second, King of Spain.

Author: William H. Prescott

Release Date: May 30, 2010 [EBook #32600]

Language: English

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PHILIP THE SECOND. From the Original by Titian in the Royal Museum at Madrid. London, George Routledge & Sons, Broadway, Ludgate Hill. PHILIP THE SECOND.

From the Original by Titian in the
Royal Museum at Madrid.

London, George Routledge & Sons, Broadway, Ludgate Hill.















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The reign of Philip the Second has occupied the pen of the historian more frequently—if we except that of Charles the Fifth—than any other portion of the Spanish annals. It has become familiar to the English reader through the pages of Watson, who has deservedly found favor with the public for the perspicuity of his style,—a virtue, however, not uncommon in his day,—for the sobriety of his judgments, and for the skill he has shown in arranging his complicated story, so as to maintain the reader's interest unbroken to the end. But the public, in Watson's day, were not very fastidious in regard to the sources of the information on which a narrative was founded. Nor was it easy to obtain access to those unpublished documents which constitute the best sources of information. Neither can it be denied that Watson himself was not so solicitous as he should have been to profit by opportunities which a little pains might have put within his reach,—presenting, in this respect, a contrast to his more celebrated predecessor, Robertson; that he contented himself too easily with such cheap and commonplace materials as lay directly in his path; and that, consequently, the foundations of his history are much too slight for the superstructure. For these reasons, the reign of Philip the Second must still be regarded as open ground for English and American writers.

And at no time could the history of this reign have been undertaken with the same advantages as at present, when the more enlightened policy of the European governments has opened their {iv}national archives to the inspection of the scholar; when he is allowed access, in particular, to the Archives of Simancas, which have held the secrets of the Spanish monarchy hermetically sealed for ages.

The history of Philip the Second is the history of Europe during the latter half of the sixteenth century. It covers the period when the doctrines of the Reformation were agitating the minds of men in so fearful a manner as to shake the very foundations of the Romish hierarchy in the fierce contest which divided Christendom. Philip, both from his personal character, and from his position as sovereign of the most potent monarchy in Europe, was placed at the head of the party which strove to uphold the fortunes of the ancient Church; and thus his policy led him perpetually to interfere in the internal affairs of the other European states,—making it necessary to look for the materials for his history quite as much without the Peninsula as within it. In this respect the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella presents a strong contrast to that of Philip the Second; and it was the consideration of this, when I had completed my history of the former, and proposed at some future day to enter upon that of the latter, that led me to set about a collection of authentic materials from the public archives in the great European capitals. It was a work of difficulty; and, although I had made some progress in it, I did not feel assured of success until I had the good fortune to obtain the coöperation of my friend, Don Pascual de Gayangos, Professor of Arabic in the University of Madrid. This eminent scholar was admirably qualified for the task which he so kindly undertook; since, with a remarkable facility—such as long practice only can give—in deciphering the mysterious handwriting of the sixteenth century, he combined such a thorough acquaintance with the history of his country as enabled him to detect, amidst the ocean of manuscripts which he inspected, such portions as were essential to my purpose.

With unwearied assiduity he devoted himself to the examination of many of the principal collections, both in England and on the Continent. Among these may be mentioned the British Museum and the State-Paper Office, in London; the Library of the Dukes of Burgundy, in Brussels; that of the University of Leyden; the {v}Royal Library, at the Hague; the Royal Library of Paris, and the Archives of the Kingdom, in the Hôtel Soubise; the Library of the Academy of History, the National Library at Madrid, and, more important than either, the ancient Archives of Simancas, within whose hallowed precincts Señor Gayangos was one of the first scholars permitted to enter.

Besides these public repositories, there are several private collections to the owners of which I am largely indebted for the liberal manner in which they have opened them for my benefit. I may mention, in particular, the late Lady Holland, who kindly permitted copies to be made by Señor Gayangos from the manuscripts preserved in Holland House; Sir Thomas Phillips, Bart., who freely extended the same courtesy in respect to the present work which he had shown to me on a former occasion; and Patrick Fraser Tytler, Esq., the late excellent historian of Scotland, who generously placed at my disposal sundry documents copied by him in the public offices with his own hand, for the illustration of the reign of Mary Tudor.

In Spain the collection made by Señor Gayangos was enriched by materials drawn from the family archives of the marquis of Santa Cruz, whose illustrious ancestor first had charge of the Spanish armada; from the archives of Medina Sidonia, containing papers of the duke who succeeded to the command of that ill-starred expedition; and from the archives of the house of Alva,—a name associated with the most memorable acts of the government of Philip.

The manuscripts, thus drawn from various quarters, were fortified by such printed works as, having made their appearance in the time of Philip the Second, could throw any light on his government. Where such works were not to be purchased, Señor Gayangos caused copies to be made of them, or of those portions which were important to my purpose. The result of his kind, untiring labors has been to put me in possession of such a collection of authentic materials for the illustration of the reign of Philip as no one before had probably attempted to make. Nor until now had the time come for making the attempt with success.

There still remained, however, some places to be examined where I might expect to find documents that would be of use to {vi}me. Indeed, it is in the nature of such a collection, covering so wide an extent of ground, that it can never be complete. The historian may be satisfied, if he has such authentic materials at his command, as, while they solve much that has hitherto been enigmatical in the accounts of the time, will enable him to present, in their true light, the character of Philip and the policy of his government. I must acknowledge my obligations to more than one person, who has given me important aid in prosecuting my further researches.

One of the first of them is my friend, Mr. Edward Everett, who, in his long and brilliant career as a statesman, has lost nothing of that love of letters which formed his first claim to distinction. The year before his appointment to the English mission he passed on the Continent, where, with the kindness that belongs to his nature, he spent much time in examining for me the great libraries, first in Paris, and afterwards more effectually in Florence. From the Archivio Mediceo, in which he was permitted by the grand duke to conduct his researches, he obtained copies of sundry valuable documents, and among them the letters of the Tuscan ministers, which have helped to guide me in some of the most intricate parts of my narrative. A still larger amount of materials he derived from the private library of Count Guicciardini, the descendant of the illustrious historian of that name. I am happy to express my lively sense of the courtesy shown by this nobleman; also my gratitude for kind offices rendered me by Prince Corsini; and no less by the Marquis Gino Capponi, whose name will be always held in honor for the enlightened patronage which he has extended to learning, while suffering, himself, under the severest privation that can befall the scholar.

There was still an important deficiency in my collection,—that of the Relazioni Venete, as the reports are called which were made by ambassadors of Venice on their return from their foreign missions. The value of these reports, for the information they give of the countries visited by the envoys, is well known to historians. The deficiency was amply supplied by the unwearied kindness of my friend, Mr. Fay, who now so ably fills the post of minister from the United States to Switzerland. When connected with the American legation at Berlin, he, in the most obliging manner, {vii}assisted me in making arrangements for obtaining the documents I desired, which, with other papers of importance, were copied for me from the manuscripts in the Royal Library of Berlin, and the Ducal Library of Gotha. I have also, in connection with this, to express my obligations to the distinguished librarian of the former institution, Mr. Pertz, for the good-will which he showed in promoting my views.

Through Mr. Fay, I also obtained the authority of Prince Metternich to inspect the Archives of the Empire in Vienna, which I inferred, from the intimate relations subsisting between the courts of Madrid and Vienna in that day, must contain much valuable matter relevant to my subject. The result did not correspond to my expectations. I am happy, however, to have the opportunity of publicly offering my acknowledgments to that eminent scholar, Dr. Ferdinand Wolf, for the obliging manner in which he conducted the investigation for me, as well in the archives above mentioned, as, with better results, in the Imperial Library, with which he is officially connected.

In concluding the list of those to whose good offices I have been indebted, I must not omit the names of M. de Salvandy, minister of public instruction in France at the time I was engaged in making my collection; Mr. Rush, then the minister of the United States at the French court; Mr. Rives, of Virginia, his successor in that office; and last, not least, my friend, Count de Circourt, a scholar whose noble contributions to the periodical literature of his country, on the greatest variety of topics, have given him a prominent place among the writers of our time.

I am happy, also, to tender my acknowledgments for the favors I have received from Mr. Van de Weyer, minister from Belgium to the court of St. James; from Mr. B. Homer Dixon, consul for the Netherlands at Boston; and from my friend and kinsman, Mr. Thomas Hickling, consul for the United States at St. Michael's, who kindly furnished me with sundry manuscripts exhibiting the condition of the Azores at the period when those islands passed, with Portugal, under the sceptre of Philip the Second.

Having thus acquainted the reader with the sources whence I have derived my materials, I must now say a few words in regard {viii} to the conduct of my narrative. An obvious difficulty in the path of the historian of this period arises from the nature of the subject, embracing, as it does, such a variety of independent, not to say incongruous topics, that it is no easy matter to preserve anything like unity of interest in the story. Thus the Revolution of the Netherlands, although, strictly speaking, only an episode to the main body of the narrative, from its importance, well deserves to be treated in a separate and independent narrative by itself.[1] Running along through the whole extent of Philip's reign, it is continually distracting the attention of the historian, creating an embarrassment something like that which arises from what is termed a double plot in the drama. The best way of obviating this is to keep in view the dominant principle which controlled all the movements of the complicated machinery, so to speak, and impressed on them a unity of action. This principle is to be found in the policy of Philip, the great aim of which was to uphold the supremacy of the Church, and, as a consequence, that of the crown. "Peace and public order," he writes on one occasion, "are to be maintained in my dominions only by maintaining the authority of the Holy See." It was this policy, almost as sure and steady in its operation as the laws of Nature herself, that may be said to have directed the march of events through the whole of his long reign; and it is only by keeping this constantly in view that the student will be enabled to obtain a clew to guide him through the intricate passages in the history of Philip, and the best means of solving what would otherwise remain enigmatical in his conduct.

In the composition of the work, I have, for the most part, conformed to the plan which I had before adopted. Far from confining myself to a record of political events, I have endeavored to present a picture of the intellectual culture and the manners of the people. I have not even refused such aid as could be obtained {ix} from the display of pageants, and court ceremonies, which, although exhibiting little more than the costume of the time, may serve to bring the outward form of a picturesque age more vividly before the eye of the reader. In the arrangement of the narrative, I have not confined myself altogether to the chronological order of events, but have thrown them into masses, according to the subjects to which they relate, so as to produce, as far as possible, a distinct impression on the reader. And in this way I have postponed more than one matter of importance to a later portion of the work, which a strict regard to time would assign more properly to an earlier division of the subject. Finally, I have been careful to fortify the text with citations from the original authorities on which it depends, especially where these are rare and difficult of access.

In the part relating to the Netherlands I have pursued a course somewhat different from what I have done in other parts of the work. The scholars of that country, in a truly patriotic spirit, have devoted themselves of late years to exploring their own archives, as well as those of Simancas, for the purpose of illustrating their national annals. The results they have given to the world in a series of publications, which are still in progress. The historian has reason to be deeply grateful to those pioneers, whose labors have put him in possession of materials which afford the most substantial basis for his narrative. For what basis can compare with that afforded by the written correspondence of the parties themselves? It is on this sure ground that I have mainly relied in this part of my story; and I have adopted the practice of incorporating extracts from the letters in the body of the text, which, if it may sometimes give an air of prolixity to the narrative, will have the advantage of bringing the reader into a sort of personal acquaintance with the actors, as he listens to the words spoken by themselves.

In the earlier part of this Preface, I have made the acknowledgments due for assistance I have received in the collection of my materials; and I must not now conclude without recording my obligations, of another kind, to two of my personal friends,—Mr. Charles Folsom, the learned librarian of the Boston Athenæum, who has repeated the good offices he had before rendered me in {x} revising my manuscript for the press; and Mr. John Foster Kirk, whose familiarity with the history and languages of Modern Europe has greatly aided me in the prosecution of my researches, while his sagacious criticism has done me no less service in the preparation of these volumes.

Notwithstanding the advantages I have enjoyed for the composition of this work, and especially those derived from the possession of new and original materials, I am fully sensible that I am far from having done justice to a subject so vast in its extent and so complicated in its relations. It is not necessary to urge in my defence any physical embarrassments under which I labor; since that will hardly be an excuse for not doing well what it was not necessary to do at all. But I may be permitted to say, that what I have done has been the result of careful preparation; that I have endeavored to write in a spirit of candor and good faith; and that, whatever may be the deficiencies of my work, it can hardly fail—considering the advantages I have enjoyed over my predecessors—to present the reader with such new and authentic statements of facts as may afford him a better point of view than that which he has hitherto possessed for surveying the history of Philip the Second.

Boston, July, 1855



Book I.

Introductory Remarks—Spain under Charles the Fifth—He prepares to resign the Crown—His Abdication—His Return to Spain—His Journey to Yuste



Birth of Philip the Second—His Education—Intrusted with the Regency—Marries Mary of Portugal—Visit to Flanders—Public Festivities—Ambitious Schemes—Returns to Spain



Condition of England—Character of Mary—Philip's Proposals of Marriage—Marriage Articles—Insurrection in England



Mary's Betrothal—Joanna Regent of Castile—Philip embarks for England—His splendid Reception—Marriage of Philip and Mary—Royal Entertainments—Philip's Influence—The Catholic Church restored—Philip's Departure



Empire of Philip—Paul the Fourth—Court of France—League against Spain—The Duke of Alva—Preparations for War—Victorious Campaign



Guise enters Italy—Operations in the Abruzz—Siege of Civitella—Alva drives out the French—Rome menaced by the Spaniards—Paul consents to Peace—Paul's Subsequent Career



England joins in the War—Philip's Preparations—Siege of St. Quentin—French Army routed—Storming of St. Quentin—Successes of the Spaniards



Extraordinary Efforts of France—Calais surprised by Guise—The French invade Flanders—Bloody Battle of Gravelines—Negotiations for Peace—Mary's Death—Accession of Elizabeth—Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis



Charles at Yuste—His Mode of Life—Interest in Public Affairs—Celebrates his Obsequies—Last Illness—Death and Character


Book II.

Civil Institutions—Commercial Prosperity—Character of the People—Protestant Doctrines—Persecution by Charles the Fifth



Unpopular Manners of Philip—He enforces the Edicts—Increase of the Bishoprics—Margaret of Parma Regent—Meeting of the States-General—Their spirited Conduct—Organization of the Councils—Rise and Character of Granvelle—Philip's Departure



Philip's Arrival in Spain—The Reformed Doctrines—Their Suppression—Autos da Fé—Prosecution of Carranza—Extinction of Heresy—Fanaticism of the Spaniards



Reception of Isabella—Marriage Festivities—The Queen's Mode of Life—The Court removed to Madrid



The Reformation—Its Progress in the Netherlands—General Discontent—William of Orange



Grounds of Complaint—The Spanish Troops—The New Bishoprics—Influence of Granvelle—Opposed by the Nobles—His Unpopularity



League against Granvelle—Margaret desires his Removal—Philip deliberates—Granvelle dismissed—Leaves the Netherlands



Policy of Philip—Ascendancy of the Nobles—The Regent's Embarrassments—Egmont sent to Spain



Philip's Duplicity—His Procrastination—Despatches from Segovia—Effect on the Country—The Compromise—Orange and Egmont



Design of the Confederates—They enter Brussels—The Petition—The Gueux



The Edicts suspended—The Sectaries—The Public Preachings—Attempt to suppress them—Meeting at St. Trond—Philip's Concessions



Cathedral of Antwerp sacked—Sacrilegious Outrages—Alarm at Brussels—Churches granted to Reformers—Margaret repents her Concessions—Feeling at Madrid—Sagacity of Orange—His Religious Opinions



Reaction—Appeal to Arms—Tumult in Antwerp—Siege of Valenciennes—The Government triumphant



Oath imposed by Margaret—Refused by Orange—He leaves the Netherlands—Submission of the Country—New Edict—Order restored


Book III.

Alva's Appointment—His remarkable March—He arrives at Brussels—Margaret disgusted—Policy of the Duke—Arrest of Egmont and Hoorne



The Council of Blood—Its Organization—General Prosecutions—Civil War in France—Departure of Margaret—Her administration reviewed



Numerous Arrests—Trials and Executions—Confiscations—Orange assembles an Army—Battle of Heyligerlee—Alva's Proceedings



The Examination—Efforts in their Behalf—Specification of Charges—Sentence of Death—The Processes reviewed



The Counts removed to Brussels—Informed of the Sentence—Procession to the Scaffold—The Execution—Character of Egmont—Fate of his Family—Sentiment of the People



Bergen and Montigny—Their Situation in Spain—Death of Bergen—Arrest of Montigny—Plot for his Escape—His Process—Removal to Simancas—Closer Confinement—Midnight Execution


Book IV.

Condition of Turkey—African Corsairs—Expedition against Tripoli—War on the Barbary Coast



Masters of Rhodes—Driven from Rhodes—Established at Malta—Menaced by Solyman—La Valette—His Preparations for Defence



Condition of Malta—Arrival of the Turks—They reconnoitre the Island—Siege of St. Elmo—Its Heroic Defence—Its Fall



Il Borgo invested—Storming of St. Michael—Slaughter of the Turks—Incessant Cannonade—General Assault—The Turks Repulsed—Perilous Condition of Il Borgo—Constancy of La Valette



The Turks dispirited—Reinforcement from Sicily—Siege raised—Mustapha defeated—Rejoicings of the Christians—Mortification of Solyman—Review of the Siege—Subsequent History of La Valette



His Education and Character—Dangerous Illness—Extravagant Behavior—Opinions respecting him—His Connection with the Flemings—Project of Flight—Insane Conduct—Arrest



Causes of his Imprisonment—His Rigorous Confinement—His Excesses—His Death—Llorente's Account—Various Accounts—Suspicious Circumstances—Quarrel in the Palace—Obsequies of Carlos



Queen Isabella—Her Relations with Carlos—Her Illness and Death—Her Character


{Page 1}



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Introductory Remarks.—Spain under Charles the Fifth.—He prepares to resign the Crown.—His Abdication.—His Return to Spain.—His Journey to Yuste.


In a former work, I have endeavored to portray the period when the different provinces of Spain were consolidated into one empire under the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella; when, by their wise and beneficent policy, the nation emerged from the obscurity in which it had so long remained behind the Pyrenees, and took its place as one of the great members of the European commonwealth. I now propose to examine a later period in the history of the same nation,—the reign of Philip the Second; when, with resources greatly enlarged, and territory extended by a brilliant career of discovery and conquest, it had risen to the zenith of its power; but when, under the mischievous policy of the administration, it had excited the jealousy of its neighbors, and already disclosed those germs of domestic corruption which gradually led to its dismemberment and decay.

By the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, most of the states of the Peninsula became united under one common rule; and in 1516, the sceptre of Spain, with its dependencies both in the Old and the New World, passed into the hands of their grandson, Charles the Fifth, who, though he shared the throne nominally with his mother, Joanna, became, in consequence of her incapacity, the real sovereign of this vast empire. He had before inherited, through his father, Philip the Handsome, that fair portion of the ducal realm of Burgundy which comprehended Franche Comté and the Netherlands. In 1519, he was elected to the imperial crown of Germany. Not many years elapsed before his domain was still further enlarged by the barbaric empires of Mexico and Peru; and Spain then first realized the magnificent vaunt, since so often repeated, that the sun never set within the borders of her dominions.

Yet the importance of Spain did not rise with the importance of her acquisitions. She was, in a manner, lost in the magnitude of these acquisitions. Some of the rival nations which owned the sway of Charles, in Europe, were of much greater importance than Spain, and attracted much more attention from their contemporaries. In the earlier period of that monarch's reign, there was a moment when a contest was going forward in Castile, of the deepest interest to mankind. Unfortunately, the "War of the Comunidades,"{2} as it was termed, was soon closed by the ruin of the patriots; and, on the memorable field of Villalar, the liberties of Spain received a blow from which they were destined not to recover for centuries. From that fatal hour,—the bitter fruit of the jealousy of castes and the passions of the populace,—an unbroken tranquillity reigned throughout the country; such a tranquillity as naturally flows not from a free and well-conducted government, but from a despotic one. In this political tranquillity, however, the intellect of Spain did not slumber. Sheltered from invasion by the barrier of the Pyrenees, her people were allowed to cultivate the arts of peace, so long as they did not meddle with politics or religion,—in other words, with the great interests of humanity; while the more adventurous found a scope for their prowess in European wars, or in exploring the boundless regions of the Western world.

While there was so little passing in Spain to attract the eye of the historian, Germany became the theatre of one of those momentous struggles which have had a permanent influence on the destinies of mankind. It was in this reign that the great battle of religious liberty was begun; and the attention and personal presence of Charles were necessarily demanded most in the country where that battle was to be fought. But a small part of his life was passed in Spain, in comparison with what he spent in other parts of his dominions. His early attachments, his lasting sympathies, were with the people of the Netherlands; for Flanders was the place of his birth. He spoke the language of that country more fluently than the Castilian; although he knew the various languages of his dominions so well, that he could address his subjects from every quarter in their native dialect. In the same manner, he could accommodate himself to their peculiar national manners and tastes. But this flexibility was foreign to the genius of the Spaniard. Charles brought nothing from Spain but a religious zeal, amounting to bigotry, which took deep root in a melancholy temperament inherited from his mother. His tastes were all Flemish. He introduced the gorgeous ceremonial of the Burgundian court into his own palace, and into the household of his son. He drew his most trusted and familiar counsellors from Flanders; and this was one great cause of the troubles which, at the beginning of his reign, distracted Castile. There was little to gratify the pride of the Spaniard in the position which he occupied at the imperial court. Charles regarded Spain chiefly for the resources she afforded for carrying on his ambitious enterprises. When he visited her, it was usually to draw supplies from the cortes. The Spaniards understood this, and bore less affection to his person than to many of their monarchs far inferior to him in the qualities for exciting it. They hardly regarded him as one of the nation. There was, indeed, nothing national in the reign of Charles. His most intimate relations were with Germany; and as the Emperor Charles the Fifth of Germany, not as King Charles the First of Spain, he was known in his own time, and stands recorded on the pages of history.


When Charles ascended the throne, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, Europe may be said to have been much in the same condition, in one respect, as she was at the beginning of the eighth. The Turk menaced her on the east, in the same manner as the Arab had before menaced her on the west. The hour seemed to be fast approaching which was to decide whether Christianity or Mahometanism should hold the ascendant. The Ottoman tide of conquest rolled up to the very walls of Vienna; and Charles, who, as head of the empire, was placed on the frontier of Christendom, was called on to repel it. When thirty-two years of age, he marched against the formidable Solyman, drove him to an ignominious retreat, and, at less cost of life than is often expended in a skirmish, saved Europe from invasion. He afterwards{3} crossed the sea to Tunis, then occupied by a horde of pirates, the scourge of the Mediterranean. He beat them in a bloody battle, slew their chief, and liberated ten thousand captives from their dungeons. All Europe rang with the praises of the young hero, who thus consecrated his arms to the service of the Cross, and stood forward as the true champion of Christendom.

But from this high position Charles was repeatedly summoned to other contests, of a more personal and far less honorable character. Such was his long and bloody quarrel with Francis the First. It was hardly possible that two princes, so well matched in years, power, pretensions, and, above all, love of military glory, with dominions touching on one another through their whole extent, could long remain without cause of rivalry and collision. Such rivalry did exist from the moment that the great prize of the empire was adjudged to Charles; and through the whole of their long struggle, with the exception of a few reverses, the superior genius of the emperor triumphed over his bold, but less politic adversary.

There was still a third contest, on which the strength of the Spanish monarch was freely expended through the greater part of his reign,—his contest with the Lutheran princes of Germany. Here, too, for a long time, fortune favored him. But it is easier to contend against man than against a great moral principle. The principle of reform had struck too deep into the mind of Germany to be eradicated by force or by fraud. Charles, for a long time, by a course of crafty policy, succeeded in baffling the Protestant league; and, by the decisive victory at Muhlberg, seemed, at last, to have broken it altogether. But his success only ministered to his ruin. The very man on whom he bestowed the spoils of victory turned them against his benefactor. Charles, ill in body and mind, and glad to escape from his enemies under cover of the night and a driving tempest, was at length compelled to sign the treaty of Passau, which secured to the Protestants those religious immunities against which he had contended through his whole reign.

Not long after, he experienced another humiliating reverse from France, then ruled by a younger rival, Henry the Second, the son of Francis. The good star of Charles—the star of Austria—seemed to have set; and as he reluctantly raised the siege of Metz, he was heard bitterly to exclaim, "Fortune is a strumpet, who reserves her favors for the young!"

With spirits greatly depressed by his reverses, and still more by the state of his health, which precluded him from taking part in the manly and martial exercises to which he had been accustomed, he felt that he had no longer the same strength as formerly to bear up under the toils of empire. When but little more than thirty years of age, he had been attacked by the gout, and of late had been so sorely afflicted with that disorder, that he had nearly lost the use of his limbs. The man who, cased in steel, had passed whole days and nights in the saddle, indifferent to the weather and the season, could now hardly drag himself along with the aid of his staff. For days he was confined to his bed; and he did not leave his room for weeks together. His mind became oppressed with melancholy, which was, to some extent, a constitutional infirmity. His chief pleasure was in listening to books, especially of a religious character. He denied himself to all except his most intimate and trusted counsellors. He lost his interest in affairs; and for whole months, according to one of his biographers, who had access to his person, he refused to receive any public communication, or to subscribe any document, or even letter.[2] One cannot understand how the business of the nation{4} could have been conducted in such a state of things. After the death of his mother, Joanna, his mind became more deeply tinctured with those gloomy fancies which in her amounted to downright insanity. He imagined he heard her voice calling on him to follow her. His thoughts were now turned from secular concerns to those of his own soul; and he resolved to put in execution a plan for resigning his crown and withdrawing to some religious retreat, where he might prepare for his latter end. This plan he had conceived many years before, in the full tide of successful ambition. So opposite were the elements at work in the character of this extraordinary man!

Although he had chosen the place of his retreat, he had been deterred from immediately executing his purpose by the forlorn condition of his mother, and the tender age of his son. The first obstacle was now removed by the death of Joanna, after a reign—a nominal reign—of half a century, in which the cloud that had settled on her intellect at her husband's death was never dispelled.

The age of Philip, his son and heir, was also no longer an objection. From early boyhood he had been trained to the duties of his station, and, when very young, had been intrusted with the government of Castile. His father had surrounded him with able and experienced counsellors, and their pupil, who showed a discretion far beyond his years, had largely profited by their lessons. He had now entered his twenty-ninth year, an age when the character is formed, and when, if ever, he might be supposed qualified to assume the duties of government. His father had already ceded to him the sovereignty of Naples and Milan, on occasion of the prince's marriage with Mary of England. He was on a visit to that country, when Charles, having decided on the act of abdication, sent to require his son's attendance at Brussels, where the ceremony was to be performed. The different provinces of the Netherlands were also summoned to send their deputies, with authority to receive the emperor's resignation, and to transfer their allegiance to his successor. As a preliminary step, on the twenty-second of October, 1555, he conferred on Philip the grand-mastership—which, as Lord of Flanders, was vested in himself—of the toison d'or, the order of the Golden Fleece, of Burgundy; the proudest and most coveted, at that day, of all the military orders of knighthood.

Preparations were then made for conducting the ceremony of abdication with all the pomp and solemnity suited to so august an occasion. The great hall of the royal palace of Brussels was selected for the scene of it. The walls of the spacious apartment were hung with tapestry, and the floor was covered with rich carpeting. A scaffold was erected, at one end of the room, to the height of six or seven steps. On it was placed a throne, or chair of state, for the emperor, with other seats for Philip, and for the great Flemish lords who were to attend the person of their sovereign. Above the throne was suspended a gorgeous canopy, on which were emblazoned the arms of the ducal house of Burgundy. In front of the scaffolding, accommodations were provided for the deputies of the provinces, who were to be seated on benches arranged according to their respective rights of precedence.[3] {5}


On the twenty-fifth of October, the day fixed for the ceremony, Charles the Fifth executed an instrument by which he ceded to his son the sovereignty of Flanders.[4] Mass was then performed; and the emperor, accompanied by Philip and a numerous retinue, proceeded in state to the great hall, where the deputies were already assembled.[5]

Charles was, at this time, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. His form was slightly bent,—but it was by disease more than by time,—and on his countenance might be traced the marks of anxiety and rough exposure. Yet it still wore that majesty of expression so conspicuous in his portraits by the inimitable pencil of Titian. His hair, once of a light color, approaching to yellow, had begun to turn before he was forty, and, as well as his beard, was now gray. His forehead was broad and expansive; his nose aquiline. His blue eyes and fair complexion intimated his Teutonic descent. The only feature in his countenance decidedly bad was his lower jaw, protruding with its thick, heavy lip, so characteristic of the physiognomies of the Austrian dynasty.[6]

In stature he was about the middle height. His limbs were strongly knit, and once well formed, though now the extremities were sadly distorted by disease. The emperor leaned for support on a staff with one hand, while with the other he rested on the arm of William of Orange, who, then young, was destined at a later day to become the most formidable enemy of his house. The grave demeanor of Charles was rendered still more impressive by his dress; for he was in mourning for his mother; and the sable hue of his attire was relieved only by a single ornament, the superb collar of the Golden Fleece, which hung from his neck.

Behind the emperor came Philip, the heir of his vast dominions. He was of a middle height, of much the same proportions as his father, whom he resembled also in his lineaments,—except that those of the son wore a more sombre, and perhaps a sinister expression; while there was a reserve in his manner, in spite of his efforts to the contrary, as if he would shroud his thoughts from observation. The magnificence of his dress corresponded with his royal station, and formed a contrast to that of his father, who was quitting the pomp and grandeur of the world, on which the son was about to enter.{6}

Next to Philip came Mary, the emperor's sister, formerly queen of Hungary. She had filled the post of regent of the Low Countries for nearly twenty years, and now welcomed the hour when she was to resign the burden of sovereignty to her nephew, and withdraw, like her imperial brother, into private life. Another sister of Charles, Eleanor, widow of the French king, Francis the First, also took part in these ceremonies, previous to her departure for Spain, whither she was to accompany the emperor.

After these members of the imperial family came the nobility of the Netherlands, the knights of the Golden Fleece, the royal counsellors, and the great officers of the household, all splendidly attired in their robes of state, and proudly displaying the insignia of their orders. When the emperor had mounted his throne, with Philip on his right hand, the Regent Mary on his left, and the rest of his retinue disposed along the seats prepared for them on the platform, the president of the council of Flanders addressed the assembly. He briefly explained the object for which they had been summoned, and the motives which had induced their master to abdicate the throne; and he concluded by requiring them, in their sovereign's name, to transfer their allegiance from himself to Philip, his son and rightful heir.

After a pause, Charles rose to address a few parting words to his subjects. He stood with apparent difficulty, and rested his right hand on the shoulder of the Prince of Orange, intimating, by this preference on so distinguished an occasion, the high favour in which he held the young nobleman. In the other hand he held a paper, containing some hints for his discourse, and occasionally cast his eyes on it, to refresh his memory. He spoke in the French language.

He was unwilling, he said, to part from his people without a few words from his own lips. It was now forty years since he had been intrusted with the sceptre of the Netherlands. He was soon after called to take charge of a still more extensive empire, both in Spain and in Germany, involving a heavy responsibility for one so young. He had, however, endeavored earnestly to do his duty to the best of his abilities. He had been ever mindful of the interests of the dear land of his birth, but, above all, of the great interests of Christianity. His first object had been to maintain these inviolate against the infidel. In this he had been thwarted, partly by the jealousy of neighboring powers, and partly by the factions of the heretical princes of Germany.

In the performance of his great work, he had never consulted his ease. His expeditions, in war and in peace, to France, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Flanders, had amounted to no less than forty. Four times he had crossed the Spanish seas, and eight times the Mediterranean. He had shrunk from no toil, while he had the strength to endure it. But a cruel malady had deprived him of that strength. Conscious of his inability to discharge the duties of his station, he had long since come to the resolution to relinquish it. From this he had been diverted only by the situation of his unfortunate parent, and by the inexperience of his son. These objections no longer existed; and he should not stand excused, in the eye of Heaven or of the world, if he should insist on still holding the reins of government when he was incapable of managing them,—when every year his incapacity must become more obvious.


He begged them to believe that this, and no other motive, induced him to resign the sceptre which he had so long swayed. They had been to him dutiful and loving subjects; and such, he doubted not, they would prove to his successor. Above all things, he besought them to maintain the purity of the faith. If any one, in these licentious times, had admitted doubts into his bosom, let such doubts be extirpated at once. "I know well," he concluded,{7} "that, in my long administration, I have fallen into many errors, and committed some wrongs, but it was from ignorance; and, if there be any here whom I have wronged, they will believe that it was not intended, and grant me their forgiveness."[7]

While the emperor was speaking, a breathless silence pervaded the whole audience. Charles had ever been dear to the people of the Netherlands,—the land of his birth. They took a national pride in his achievements, and felt that his glory reflected a peculiar lustre on themselves. As they now gazed for the last time on that revered form, and listened to the parting admonitions from his lips, they were deeply affected, and not a dry eye was to be seen in the assembly.

After a short interval, Charles, turning to Philip, who, in an attitude of deep respect, stood awaiting his commands, he thus addressed him:—"If the vast possessions which are now bestowed on you had come by inheritance, there would be abundant cause for gratitude. How much more, when they come as a free gift in the lifetime of your father! But, however large the debt, I shall consider it all repaid, if you only discharge your duty to your subjects. So rule over them, that men shall commend, and not censure me for the part I am now acting. Go on as you have begun. Fear God; live justly; respect the laws; above all, cherish the interests of religion; and may the Almighty bless you with a son, to whom, when old and stricken with disease, you may be able to resign your kingdom with the same good-will with which I now resign mine to you."

As he ceased, Philip, much affected, would have thrown himself at his father's feet, assuring him of his intention to do all in his power to merit such goodness; but Charles, raising his son, tenderly embraced him, while the tears flowed fast down his cheeks. Every one, even the most stoical, was touched by this affecting scene; "and nothing," says one who was present, "was to be heard, throughout the hall, but sobs and ill-suppressed moans." Charles, exhausted by his efforts, and deadly pale, sank back upon his seat; while, with feeble accents, he exclaimed, as he gazed on his people, "God bless you! God bless you!"[8]

After these emotions had somewhat subsided, Philip arose, and, delivering himself in French, briefly told the deputies of the regret which he felt at not{8} being able to address them in their native language, and to assure them of the favor and high regard in which he held them. This would be done for him by the bishop of Arras.

This was Antony Perennot, better known as Cardinal Granvelle, son of the famous minister of Charles the Fifth, and destined himself to a still higher celebrity as the minister of Philip the Second. In clear and fluent language, he gave the deputies the promise of their new sovereign to respect the laws and liberties of the nation; invoking them, on his behalf, to aid him with their counsels, and, like royal vassals, to maintain the authority of the law in his dominions. After a suitable response from the deputies, filled with sentiments of regret for the loss of their late monarch, and with those of loyalty to their new one, the Regent Mary formally abdicated her authority, and the session closed. So ended a ceremony, which, considering the importance of its consequences, the character of the actors, and the solemnity of the proceedings, is one of the most remarkable in history. That the crown of the monarch is lined with thorns, is a trite maxim; and it requires no philosophy to teach us that happiness does not depend on station. Yet, numerous as are the instances of those who have waded to a throne through seas of blood, there are but few who, when they have once tasted the sweets of sovereignty, have been content to resign them; still fewer who, when they have done so, have had the philosophy to conform to their change of condition, and not to repent it. Charles, as the event proved, was one of these few.

On the sixteenth day of January, 1556, in the presence of such of the Spanish nobility as were at the court, he executed the deeds by which he ceded the sovereignty of Castile and Aragon, with their dependencies, to Philip.[9]

The last act that remained for him to perform was to resign the crown of Germany in favor of his brother Ferdinand. But this he consented to defer some time longer, at the request of Ferdinand himself, who wished to prepare the minds of the electoral college for this unexpected transfer of the imperial sceptre. But, while Charles consented to retain for the present the title of Emperor, the real power and the burden of sovereignty would remain with Ferdinand.[10]

At the time of abdicating the throne of the Netherlands, Charles was still at war with France. He had endeavored to negotiate a permanent peace with that country; and, although he failed in this, he had the satisfaction, on the fifth of February, 1556, to arrange a truce for five years, which left both powers in the possession of their respective conquests. In the existing state of these conquests, the truce was by no means favorable to Spain. But Charles would have made even larger concessions, rather than leave the legacy of a war to his less experienced successor.


Having thus completed all his arrangements, by which the most powerful prince of Europe descended to the rank of a private gentleman, Charles had{9} no longer reason to defer his departure, and he proceeded to the place of embarkation. He was accompanied by a train of Flemish courtiers, and by the foreign ambassadors, to the latter of whom he warmly commended the interests of his son. A fleet of fifty-six sail was riding at anchor in the port of Flushing, ready to transport him and his retinue to Spain. From the imperial household, consisting of seven hundred and sixty-two persons, he selected a hundred and fifty as his escort; and accompanied by his sisters, after taking an affectionate farewell of Philip, whose affairs detained him in Flanders, on the thirteenth of September he sailed from the harbor of Flushing.

The passage was a boisterous one; and Charles, who suffered greatly from his old enemy, the gout, landed, in a feeble state, at Laredo, in Biscay, on the twenty-eighth of the month. Scarcely had he left the vessel, when a storm fell with fury on the fleet, and did some mischief to the shipping in the harbor. The pious Spaniard saw in this the finger of Providence, which had allowed no harm to the squadron till its royal freight had been brought safely to the shore.[11]

On landing, Charles complained, and with some reason, of the scanty preparations that had been made for him. Philip had written several times to his sister, the regent, ordering her to have everything ready for the emperor on his arrival.[12] Joanna had accordingly issued her orders to that effect. But promptness and punctuality are not virtues of the Spaniard. Some apology may be found for their deficiency in the present instance; as Charles himself had so often postponed his departure from the Low Countries, that, when he did come, the people were, in a manner, taken by surprise. That the neglect was not intentional is evident from their subsequent conduct.[13]

Charles, whose infirmities compelled him to be borne in a litter, was greeted, everywhere on the road, like a sovereign returning to his dominions. It was evening when he reached the ancient city of Burgos; and, as he passed through its illuminated streets the bells rang merrily, to give him welcome. He remained there three days, experiencing the hospitalities of the great constable, and receiving the homage of the northern lords, as well as of the people, who thronged the route by which he was to pass. At Torquemada, among those who came to pay their respects to their former master was Gasca, the good president of Peru. He had been sent to America to suppress the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro, and restore tranquillity to the country. In the execution of this delicate mission, he succeeded so well, that the emperor, on his return, had raised him to the see of Plasencia; and the excellent man now lived in his diocese, where, in the peaceful discharge of his episcopal functions,{10} he probably enjoyed far greater contentment than he could have derived from the dazzling, but difficult post of an American viceroy.

From Torquemada, Charles slowly proceeded to Valladolid, where his daughter, the Regent Joanna, was then holding her court. Preparations were made for receiving him in a manner suited to his former rank. But Charles positively declined these honours, reserving them for his two sisters, the dowager queens of France and Hungary, who accordingly made their entrance into the capital in great state, on the day following that on which their royal brother had entered it with the simplicity of a private citizen.

He remained here some time, in order to recover from the fatigue of his journey; and, although he took little part in the festivities of the court, he gave audience to his ancient ministers, and to such of the Castilian grandees as were eager to render him their obeisance. At the court he had also the opportunity of seeing his grandson Carlos, the heir of the monarchy; and his quick eye, it is said, in this short time, saw enough in the prince's deportment to fill him with ominous forebodings.

Charles prolonged his stay fourteen days in Valladolid, during which time his health was much benefited by the purity and the dryness of the atmosphere. On his departure, his royal sisters would have borne him company, and even have fixed their permanent residence near his own. But to this he would not consent; and, taking a tender farewell of every member of his family,—as one who was never to behold them again,—he resumed his journey.

The place he had chosen for his retreat was the monastery of Yuste, in the province of Estremadura, not many miles from Plasencia. On his way thither he halted near three months at Jarandilla, the residence of the count of Oropesa, waiting there for the completion of some repairs that were going on in the monastery, as well as for the remittance of a considerable sum of money, which he was daily expecting. This he required chiefly to discharge the arrears due to some of his old retainers; and the failure of the remittance has brought some obloquy on Philip, who could so soon show himself unmindful of his obligations to his father. But the blame should rather be charged on Philip's ministers than on Philip, absent as he was at that time from the country, and incapable of taking personal cognizance of the matter. Punctuality in his pecuniary engagements was a virtue to which neither Charles nor Philip—the masters of the Indies—could at any time lay claim. But the imputation of parsimony, or even indifference, on the part of the latter, in his relations with his father, is fully disproved by the subsequent history of that monarch at the convent of Yuste.[14]{11}


This place, it is said, had attracted his eye many years before, when on a visit to that part of the country, and he marked it for his future residence. The convent was tenanted by monks of the strictest order of Saint Jerome. But, however strict in their monastic rule, the good fathers showed much taste in the selection of their ground, as well as in the embellishment of it. It lay in a wild, romantic country, embosomed among hills that stretch along the northern confines of Estremadura. The building, which was of great antiquity, had been surrounded by its inmates with cultivated gardens, and with groves of orange, lemon, and myrtle, whose fragrance was tempered by the refreshing coolness of the waters that gushed forth in abundance from the rocky sides of the hills. It was a delicious retreat, and, by its calm seclusion and the character of its scenery, was well suited to withdraw the mind from the turmoil of the world, and dispose it to serious meditation. Here the monarch, after a life of restless ambition, proposed to spend the brief remainder of his days, and dedicate it to the salvation of his soul. He could not, however, as the event proved, close his heart against all sympathy with mankind, nor refuse to take some part in the great questions which then agitated the world. Charles was not master of that ignoble philosophy which enabled Diocletian to turn with contentment from the cares of an empire to those of a cabbage-garden.—In this retirement we must now leave the royal recluse, while we follow the opening career of the prince whose reign is the subject of the present history.



Birth of Philip the Second.—His Education.—Intrusted with the Regency.—Marries Mary of Portugal.—Visit to Flanders.—Public Festivities.—Ambitious Schemes.—Returns to Spain.


Philip the Second was born at Valladolid, on the twenty-first of May, 1527. His mother was the Empress Isabella, daughter of Emanuel the Great of Portugal. By his father he was descended from the ducal houses of Burgundy and Austria. By both father and mother he claimed a descent from Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic of Spain. As by blood he was half a Spaniard, so by temperament and character he proved to be wholly so.

The ceremony of his baptism was performed with all due solemnity, by Tavera, archbishop of Toledo, on the twenty-fifth of June, when the royal infant received the name of Philip, after his paternal grandfather, Philip the Handsome, whose brief reign—for which he was indebted to his union with Joanna, queen-proprietor of Castile—has hardly secured him a place in the line of Castilian sovereigns.

The birth of a son—the heir of so magnificent an empire—was hailed with delight both by Charles and by the whole nation, who prepared to celebrate it in a style worthy of the event, when tidings reached them of the capture of Pope Clement the Seventh and the sack of Rome by the Spanish troops under{12} the constable de Bourbon. The news of this event, and the cruelties inflicted by the conquerors, filled all Europe with consternation. Even the Protestants, who had no superfluous sympathy to spare for the sufferings of the pope, were shocked by the perpetration of atrocities compared with which the conduct of Attila and Alaric might almost be deemed merciful. Whatever responsibility may attach to Charles on the score of the expedition, it would be injustice to him to suppose that he did not share in the general indignation at the manner in which it was conducted. At all events, he could hardly venture to outrage the feelings of Christendom so far as to take the present moment for one of public rejoicing. Orders were instantly issued to abandon the intended festivities, greatly to the discontent of the people, whose sympathy for the pope did not by any means incline them to put this restraint on the expression of their loyalty; and they drew from the disappointment an uncomfortable augury that the reign of the young prince boded no good to the Catholic religion.[15]

It was not long, however, before the people of Castile had an opportunity for the full display of their enthusiasm, on the occasion of Philip's recognition as rightful heir to the crown. The ceremony was conducted with great pomp and splendor in the cortes at Madrid, on the nineteenth of April, 1528, when he was but eleven months old. The prince was borne in the arms of his mother, who, with the emperor, was present on the occasion; while the nobles, the clergy, and the commons took the oath of allegiance to the royal infant, as successor to the crown of Castile. The act of homage was no sooner published, than the nation, as if by way of compensation for the past, abandoned itself to a general jubilee. Illuminations and bonfires were lighted up in all the towns and villages; while everywhere were to be seen dancing, bull-fights, tilts of reeds, and the other national games of that chivalrous and romantic land.

Soon after this, Charles was called by his affairs to other parts of his far-extended empire, and he left his infant son to the care of a Portuguese lady, Doña Leonor Mascareñas, or rather to that of the Empress Isabella, in whose prudence and maternal watchfulness he could safely confide. On the emperor's return to Spain, when his son was hardly seven years old, he formed for him a separate establishment, and selected two persons for the responsible office of superintending his education.[16]

One of these personages was Juan Martinez Siliceo, at that time professor in the College of Salamanca. He was a man of piety and learning, of an accommodating temper,—too accommodating, it appears from some of Charles's letters, for the good of his pupil, though not, as it would seem, for his own good, since he found such favor with the prince, that, from an humble ecclesiastic, he was subsequently preferred to the highest dignities of the Church.{13}


Under him Philip was instructed in the ancient classics, and made such progress in Latin, that he could write it, and did write it frequently in after life, with ease and correctness. He studied, also, Italian and French. He seems to have had little knowledge of the former, but French he could speak indifferently well, though he was rarely inclined to venture beyond his own tongue. He showed a more decided taste for science, especially the mathematics. He made a careful study of the principles of architecture; and the fruits of this study are to be seen in some of the noblest monuments erected in that flourishing period of the arts. In sculpture and painting he also made some proficiency, and became, in later life, no contemptible critic,—at least for a sovereign.

The other functionary charged with Philip's education was Don Juan de Zuñiga, commendador mayor of Castile. He taught his pupil to fence, to ride, to take his part at the tilts and tourneys, and, in short, to excel in the chivalrous exercises familiar to cavaliers of his time. He encouraged Philip to invigorate his constitution by the hardy pleasures of the chase, to which, however, he was but little addicted as he advanced in years.

But, besides these personal accomplishments, no one was better qualified than Zuñiga to instruct his people in the duties belonging to his royal station. He was a man of ancient family, and had passed much of his life in courts. But he had none of the duplicity or of the suppleness which often marks the character of the courtier. He possessed too high a sentiment of honor to allow him to trifle with truth. He spoke his mind plainly, too plainly sometimes for the taste of his pupil. Charles, who understood the character of Zuñiga, wrote to his son to honor and to cherish him. "If he deals plainly with you," he said, "it is for the love he bears you. If he were to flatter you, and be only solicitous of ministering to your wishes, he would be like all the rest of the world, and you would have no one near to tell you the truth;—and a worse thing cannot happen to any man, old or young; but most of all to the young, from their want of experience to discern truth from error." The wise emperor, who knew how rarely it is that truth is permitted to find its way to royal ears, set a just value on the man who had the courage to speak it.[17]

Under the influence of these teachers, and, still more, of the circumstances in which he was placed,—the most potent teachers of all,—Philip grew in years, and slowly unfolded the peculiar qualities of his disposition. He seemed cautious and reserved in his demeanor, and slow of speech; yet what he said had a character of thought beyond his age. At no time did he discover that buoyancy of spirit, or was he betrayed into those sallies of temper, which belong to a bold and adventurous, and often to a generous nature. His deportment was marked by a seriousness that to some might seem to savor of melancholy. He was self-possessed, so that even as a boy he was rarely off his guard.[18]

The emperor, whose affairs called him away from Spain much the greater part of his time, had not the power of personally superintending the education of his son. Unfortunately for the latter, his excellent mother died when{14} he was but twelve years old. Charles, who loved his wife as much as a man is capable of loving whose soul is filled with schemes of boundless ambition, was at Madrid when he received tidings of her illness. He posted in all haste to Toledo, where the queen then was, but arrived there only in time to embrace her cold remains before they were consigned to the sepulchre. The desolate monarch abandoned himself to an agony of grief, and was with difficulty withdrawn from the apartment by his attendants, to indulge his solitary regrets in the neighboring monastery of La Sisla.

Isabella well deserved to be mourned by her husband. She was a woman from all accounts, possessed of many high and generous qualities. Such was her fortitude, that, at the time of her confinement, she was never heard to utter a groan. She seemed to think any demonstration of suffering a weakness, and had the chamber darkened that her attendants might not see the distress painted on her countenance.[19] With this constancy of spirit, she united many feminine virtues. The palace, under her rule, became a school of industry. Instead of wasting her leisure hours in frivolous pleasures, she might be seen busily occupied, with her maidens, in the elegant labors of the loom; and, like her ancestor, the good Queen Isabella the Catholic, she sent more than one piece of tapestry, worked by her own hands, to adorn the altars of Jerusalem. These excellent qualities were enhanced by manners so attractive, that her effigy was struck on a medal, with a device of the three Graces on the reverse side, bearing the motto, Has Habet et superat.[20]

Isabella was but thirty-six years old at the time of her death. Charles was not forty. He never married again. Yet the bereavement seems to have had little power to soften his nature, or incline him to charity for the misconduct, or compassion for the misfortunes of others. It was but a few months after the death of his wife, that, on occasion of the insurrection of Ghent, he sought a passage through the territory of his ancient enemy of France, descended on the offending city, and took such vengeance on its wretched inhabitants as made all Europe ring with his cruelty.[21]

Philip was too young at this time to take part in the administration of the kingdom during his father's absence. But he was surrounded by able statesmen, who familiarized him with ideas of government, by admitting him to see the workings of the machinery which he was one day to direct. Charles was desirous that the attention of his son, even in boyhood, should be turned to those affairs which were to form the great business of his future life. It seems even thus early—at this period of mental depression—the emperor cherished the plan of anticipating the natural consequence of his decease, by resigning his dominions into the hands of Philip so soon as he should be qualified to rule them.

No event occurred to disturb the tranquillity of Spain during the emperor's absence from that country, to which he returned in the winter of 1541. It was after his disastrous expedition against Algiers,—the most disastrous of any that he had yet undertaken. He there saw his navy sunk or scattered by the tempest, and was fortunate in finding a shelter, with its shattered remnants, in the port of Carthagena. Soon after landing, he received a letter from Philip, condoling with him on his losses, and striving to cheer him with the reflection, that they had been caused by the elements, not by his enemies. With this tone of philosophy were mingled expressions of sympathy; and Charles may have been gratified with the epistle,—if he could believe it the composition{15} of his son.[22] Philip soon after this made a journey to the south; and, in the society of one who was now the chief object of his affections, the emperor may have found the best consolation in his misfortunes.


The French had availed themselves of the troubled state of Charles's affairs to make a descent upon Roussillon; and the Dauphin now lay in some strength before the gates of Perpignan. The emperor considered this a favorable moment for Philip to take his first lesson in war. The prince accordingly posted to Valladolid. A considerable force was quickly mustered; and Philip, taking the command, and supported by some of the most experienced of his father's generals, descended rapidly towards the coast. But the Dauphin did not care to wait for his approach; and, breaking up his camp, he retreated, without striking a blow, in all haste, across the mountains. Philip entered the town in triumph, and soon after returned, with the unstained laurels of victory, to receive his father's congratulations. The promptness of his movements on this occasion gained him credit with the Spaniards; and the fortunate result seemed to furnish a favorable augury for the future.

On his return, the prince was called to preside over the cortes at Monzon,—a central town, where the deputies of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia continued to assemble separately, long after those provinces had been united to Castile. Philip, with all the forms prescribed by the constitution, received the homage of the representatives assembled, as successor to the crown of Aragon.

The war with France, which, after a temporary suspension, had broken out with greater violence than ever, did not permit the emperor long to protract his stay in the Peninsula. Indeed, it seemed to his Spanish subjects that he rarely visited them, except when his exchequer required to be replenished for carrying on his restless enterprises, and that he stayed no longer than was necessary to effect this object. On leaving the country, he intrusted the regency to Philip, under the general direction of a council consisting of the duke of Alva, Cardinal Tavera, and the Commendador Cobos. Some time after this, while still lingering in Catalonia, previous to his embarkation, Charles addressed a letter to his son, advising him as to his political course, and freely criticising the characters of the great lords associated with him in the government. The letter, which is altogether a remarkable document, contains, also, some wholesome admonitions on Philip's private conduct. "The duke of Alva," the emperor emphatically wrote, "is the ablest statesman and the best soldier I have in my dominions. Consult him, above all, in military affairs; but do not depend upon him entirely in these or in any other matters. Depend on no one but yourself. The grandees will be too happy to secure your favor, and through you to govern the land. But, if you are thus governed, it will be your ruin. The mere suspicion of it will do you infinite prejudice. Make use of all; but lean exclusively on none. In your perplexities, ever trust in your Maker. Have no care but for him." The emperor then passes some strictures on the Commendador Cobos, as too much inclined to pleasure, at the same time admonishing Philip of the consequences of a libertine career, fatal alike, he tells him, to both soul and body. There seems to have been some ground for this admonition, as the young prince had shown a disposition to gallantry, which did not desert him in later life. "Yet, on the whole," says the monarch, "I will admit I have much reason to be satisfied with your behavior. But I would have you perfect; and, to speak frankly, whatever other persons may tell you, you have some things to mend yet. Your confessor," he continues, "is now your old preceptor, the bishop{16} of Carthagena,"—to which see the worthy professor had been recently raised. "He is a good man, as all the world knows; but I hope he will take better care of your conscience than he did of your studies, and that he will not show quite so accommodating a temper in regard to the former as he did with the latter."[23]

On the cover of this curious epistle the emperor indorsed a direction to his son, to show it to no living person; but if he found himself ill at any time, to destroy the letter, or seal it up under cover to him. It would, indeed, have edified those courtiers, who fancied they stood highest in the royal favor, to see how, to their very depths, their characters were sounded, and how clearly their schemes of ambition were revealed to the eye of their master. It was this admirable perception of character which enabled Charles, so generally, to select the right agent for the execution of his plans, and thus to insure their success.

The letter from Palamos is one among many similar proofs of the care with which, even from a distance, Charles watched over his son's course, and endeavored to form his character. The experienced navigator would furnish a chart to the youthful pilot, by which, without other aid, he might securely steer through seas strange and unknown to him. Yet there was little danger in the navigation, at this period; for Spain lay in a profound tranquillity, unruffled by a breath from the rude tempest, that, in other parts of Europe, was unsettling princes on their thrones.

A change was now to take place in Philip's domestic relations. His magnificent expectations made him, in the opinion of the world, the best match in Europe. His father had long contemplated the event of his son's marrying. He had first meditated an alliance for him with Margaret, daughter of Francis the First, by which means the feud with his ancient rival might be permanently healed. But Philip's inclination was turned to an alliance with Portugal. This latter was finally adopted by Charles; and, in December, 1542, Philip was betrothed to the Infanta Mary, daughter of John the Third and of Catharine, the emperor's sister. She was, consequently, cousin-german to Philip. At the same time, Joanna, Charles's youngest daughter, was affianced to the eldest son of John the Third, and heir to his crown. The intermarriages of the royal houses of Castile and Portugal were so frequent, that the several members stood in multiplied and most perplexing degrees of affinity with one another.

Joanna was eight years younger than her brother. Charles had one other child, Mary, born the year after Philip. She was destined to a more splendid fortune than her sister, as bride of the future emperor of Germany. Since Philip and the Portuguese princess were now both more than sixteen years old, being nearly of the same age, it was resolved that their marriage should no longer be deferred. The place appointed for the ceremony was the ancient city of Salamanca.


In October, 1543, the Portuguese infanta quitted her father's palace in Lisbon, and set out for Castile. She was attended by a numerous train of nobles, with the archbishop of Lisbon at their head. A splendid embassy was sent to meet her on the borders, and conduct her to Salamanca. At its head was the duke of Medina Sidonia, chief of the Guzmans, the wealthiest and most powerful lord in Andalusia. He had fitted up his palace at Badajoz in the most costly and sumptuous style, for the accommodation of the princess. The hangings were of cloth of gold; the couches, the sideboards, and some of {17}the other furniture, of burnished silver. The duke himself rode in a superb litter, and the mules which carried it were shod with gold. The members of his household and his retainers swelled to the number of three thousand, well mounted, wearing the liveries and cognizance of their master. Among them was the duke's private band, including several natives of the Indies,—then not a familiar sight in Spain,—displaying on their breasts broad silver escutcheons, on which were emblazoned the arms of the Guzmans. The chronicler is diffuse in his account of the infanta's reception, from which a few particulars may be selected for such as take an interest in the Spanish costume and manners of the sixteenth century.

The infanta was five months younger than Philip. She was of the middle size, with a good figure, though somewhat inclined to embonpoint, and was distinguished by a graceful carriage and a pleasing expression of countenance. Her dress was of cloth of silver, embroidered with flowers of gold. She wore a capa, or Castilian mantle, of violet-colored velvet, figured with gold, and a hat of the same materials, surmounted by a white and azure plume. The housings of the mule were of rich brocade, and Mary rode on a silver saddle.

As she approached Salamanca, she was met by the rector and professors of the university, in their academic gowns. Next followed the judges and regidores of the city, in their robes of office, of crimson velvet, with hose and shoes of spotless white. After these came the military,—horse and foot,—in their several companies, making a brilliant show with their gay uniforms; and, after going through their various evolutions, they formed into an escort for the princess. In this way, amidst the sound of music and the shouts of the multitude, the glittering pageant entered the gates of the capital.

The infanta was there received under a superb canopy, supported by the magistrates of the city. The late ambassador to Portugal, Don Luis Sarmiento, who had negotiated the marriage treaty, held the bridle of her mule; and in this state she arrived at the palace of the duke of Alva, destined for her reception in Salamanca. Here she was received with all honour by the duchess, in the presence of a brilliant company of cavaliers and noble ladies. Each of the ladies was graciously permitted by the infanta to kiss her hand; but the duchess, the chronicler is careful to inform us, she distinguished by the honor of an embrace.

All the while, Philip had been in the presence of the infanta, unknown to herself. Impatient to see his destined bride, the young prince had sallied out, with a few attendants, to the distance of five or six miles from the city, all in the disguise of huntsmen. He wore a slouched velvet hat on his head, and his face was effectually concealed under a gauze mask, so that he could mingle in the crowd by the side of the infanta, and make his own scrutiny, unmarked by any one. In this way he accompanied the procession during the five hours which it lasted, until the darkness had set in; "if darkness could be spoken of," says the chronicler, "where the blaze of ten thousand torches shed a light stronger than day."

The following evening, November the twelfth, was appointed for the marriage. The duke and duchess of Alva stood as sponsors, and the nuptial ceremony was performed by Tavera, archbishop of Toledo. The festivities were prolonged through another week. The saloons were filled with the beauty of Castile. The proudest aristocracy in Europe vied with each other in the display of magnificence at the banquet and the tourney: and sounds of merriment succeeded to the tranquillity which had so long reigned in the cloistered shades of Salamanca.

On the nineteenth of the month the new-married pair transferred their residence to Valladolid,—a city at once fortunate and fatal to the princess. Well might the chronicler call it "fatal;" for, in less than two years, July 8th,{18} 1545, she there gave birth to a son, the celebrated Don Carlos, whose mysterious fate has furnished so fruitful a theme for speculation. Mary survived the birth of her child but a few days. Had her life been spared, a mother's care might perhaps have given a different direction to his character, and, through this, to his fortunes. The remains of the infanta, first deposited in the cathedral of Granada, were afterwards removed to the Escorial, that magnificent mausoleum prepared by her husband for the royalty of Spain.[24]

In the following year died Tavera, archbishop of Toledo. He was an excellent man, and greatly valued by the emperor; who may be thought to have passed a sufficient encomium on his worth when he declared, that "by his death Philip had suffered a greater loss than by that of Mary; for he could get another wife, but not another Tavera." His place was filled by Siliceo, Philip's early preceptor, who, after having been raised to the archiepiscopal see of Toledo, received a cardinal's hat from Rome. The accommodating spirit of the good ecclesiastic had doubtless some influence in his rapid advancement from the condition of a poor teacher in Salamanca to the highest post,—as the see of Toledo, with its immense revenues and authority, might be considered,—next to the papacy, in the Christian Church.

For some years, no event of importance occurred to disturb the repose of the Peninsula. But the emperor was engaged in a stormy career abroad, in which his arms were at length crowned with success by the decisive battle of Muhlberg.

This victory, which secured him the person of his greatest enemy, placed him in a position for dictating terms to the Protestant princes of Germany. He had subsequently withdrawn to Brussels, where he received an embassy from Philip, congratulating him on the success of his arms. Charles was desirous to see his son, from whom he had now been separated nearly six years. He wished, moreover, to introduce him to the Netherlands, and make him personally acquainted with the people over whom he was one day to rule. He sent instructions, accordingly, to Philip, to repair to Flanders, so soon as the person appointed to relieve him in the government should arrive in Castile.

The individual selected by the emperor for this office was Maximilian, the son of his brother Ferdinand. He was a young man of good parts, correct judgment, and popular manners,—well qualified, notwithstanding his youth, for the post assigned to him. He was betrothed, as already mentioned, to the emperor's eldest daughter, his cousin Mary; and the regency was to be delivered into his hands on the marriage of the parties.

Philip received his father's commands while presiding at the cortes of Monzon. He found the Aragonese legislature by no means so tractable as the Castilian. The deputies from the mountains of Aragon and from the sea-coast of Catalonia were alike sturdy in their refusal to furnish further supplies for those ambitious enterprises, which, whatever glory they might bring to their sovereign, were of little benefit to them. The independent people of these provinces urged their own claims with a pertinacity, and criticized the conduct of their rulers with a bluntness, that was little grateful to the ear of majesty. The convocation of the Aragonese cortes was, in the view of the{19} king of Spain, what the convocation of a general council was in that of the pope,—a measure not to be resorted to but from absolute necessity.

On the arrival of Maximilian in Castile, his marriage with the Infanta Mary was immediately celebrated. The ceremony took place, with all the customary pomp, in the courtly city of Valladolid. Among the festivities that followed may be noticed the performance of a comedy of Ariosto,—a proof that the beautiful Italian literature, which had exercised a visible influence on the compositions of the great Castilian poets of the time, had now commended itself, in some degree, to the popular taste.

Before leaving the country, Philip, by his father's orders, made a change in his domestic establishment, which he formed on the Burgundian model. This was more ceremonious, and far more costly, than the primitive usage of Castile. A multitude of new offices was created, and the most important were filled by grandees of the highest class. The duke of Alva was made mayor-domo mayor; Antonio de Toledo, his kinsman, master of the horse; Figueroa, count of Feria, captain of the body-guard. Among the chamberlains was Ruy Gomez de Silva, prince of Eboli, one of the most important members of the cabinet under Philip. Even the menial offices connected with the person and table of the prince were held by men of rank. A guard was lodged in the palace. Philip dined in public in great state, attended by his kings-at-arms, and by a host of minstrels and musicians. One is reminded of the pompous etiquette of the court of Louis the Fourteenth. All this, however, was distasteful to the Spaniards, who did not comprehend why the prince should relinquish the simple usages of his own land for the fashions of Burgundy. Neither was it to the taste of Philip himself; but it suited that of his father, who was desirous that his son should flatter the Flemings by the assumption of a state to which they had been accustomed in their Burgundian princes.[25]

Philip, having now completed his arrangements, and surrendered the regency into the hands of his brother-in-law, had no reason longer to postpone his journey. He was accompanied by the duke of Alva, Enriquez, high-admiral of Castile, Ruy Gomez, prince of Eboli, and a long train of persons of the highest rank. There was, besides, a multitude of younger cavaliers of family. The proudest nobles of the land contended for the honor of having their sons take part in the expedition. The number was still further augmented by a body of artists and men of science. The emperor was desirous that Philip should make an appearance that would dazzle the imaginations of the people among whom he passed.

With this brilliant company, Philip began his journey in the autumn of 1548. He took the road to Saragossa, made an excursion to inspect the fortifications of Perpignan, offered up his prayers at the shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat, passed a day or two at Barcelona, enjoying the fête prepared for him in the pleasant citron-gardens of the cardinal of Trent, and thence proceeded to the port of Rosas, where a Genoese fleet, over which proudly waved the imperial banner, was riding at anchor, and awaiting his arrival. It consisted of fifty-eight vessels, furnished by Genoa, Sicily, and Naples, and commanded by the veteran of a hundred battles, the famous Andrew Doria.

Philip encountered some rough weather on his passage to Genoa. The doge and the principal senators came out of port in a magnificent galley to receive him. The prince landed, amidst the roar of cannon from the walls and the adjacent fortifications, and was forthwith conducted to the mansion{20} of the Dorias, preëminent, even in this city of palaces, for its architectural splendor.

During his stay in Genoa, Philip received all the attentions which an elegant hospitality could devise. But his hours were not wholly resigned to pleasure. He received, every day, embassies from the different Italian states, one of which came from the pope, Paul the Third, with his nephew, Ottavio Farnese, at its head. Its especial object was to solicit the prince's interest with his father, for the restitution of Parma and Placentia to the Holy See. Philip answered in terms complimentary, indeed, says the historian, "but sufficiently ambiguous as to the essential."[26] He had already learned his first lesson in kingcraft. Not long after, the pope sent him a consecrated sword, and the hat worn by his holiness on Christmas eve, accompanied by an autograph letter, in which, after expatiating on the mystic import of his gift, he expressed his confidence that in Philip he was one day to find the true champion of the Church.

At the end of a fortnight, the royal traveller resumed his journey. He crossed the famous battle-field of Pavia, and was shown the place where Francis the First surrendered himself a prisoner, and where the Spanish ambuscade sallied out and decided the fortune of the day. His bosom swelled with exultation, as he rode over the ground made memorable by the most brilliant victory achieved by his father,—a victory which opened the way to the implacable hatred of his vanquished rival, and to oceans of blood.

From Pavia he passed on to Milan, the flourishing capital of Lombardy,—the fairest portion of the Spanish dominions in Italy. Milan was, at that time, second only to Naples in population. It was second to no city in the elegance of its buildings, the splendor of its aristocracy, the opulence and mechanical ingenuity of its burghers. It was renowned, at the same time, for its delicate fabrics of silk, and its armor, curiously wrought and inlaid with gold and silver. In all the arts of luxury and material civilization, it was unsurpassed by any of the capitals of Christendom.

As the prince approached the suburbs, a countless throng of people came forth to greet him. For fifteen miles before he entered the city, the road was spanned by triumphal arches, garlanded with flowers and fruits, and bearing inscriptions, both in Latin and Italian, filled with praises of the father and prognostics of the future glory of the son. Amidst the concourse were to be seen the noble ladies of Milan, in gay, fantastic cars, shining in silk brocade, and with sumptuous caparisons for their horses. As he drew near the town, two hundred mounted gentlemen came out to escort him into the place. They were clothed in complete mail of the fine Milanese workmanship, and were succeeded by fifty pages in gaudy livery, devoted to especial attendance on the prince's person, during his residence in Milan.

Philip entered the gates under a canopy of state, with the cardinal of Trent on his right hand, and Philibert, prince of Piedmont, on his left. He was received, at the entrance, by the governor of the place, attended by the members of the senate, in their robes of office. The houses which lined the long street through which the procession passed were hung with tapestries, and with paintings of the great Italian masters. The balconies and verandahs were crowded with spectators, eager to behold their future sovereign, and rending the air with their acclamations. The ceremony of reception was closed, in the evening, by a brilliant display of fireworks,—in which the Milanese excelled,—and by a general illumination of the city.


Philip's time glided away, during his residence at Milan, in a succession of{21} banquets, fêtes, and spectacles of every description which the taste and ingenuity of the people could devise for the amusement of their illustrious guest. With none was he more pleased than with the theatrical entertainments, conducted with greater elegance and refinement in Italy than in any of the countries beyond the Alps. Nor was he always a passive spectator at these festivities. He was especially fond of dancing, in which his light and agile figure fitted him to excel. In the society of ladies he lost much of his habitual reserve; and the dignified courtesy of his manners seems to have made a favorable impression on the fair dames of Italy, who were probably not less pleased by the display of his munificence. To the governor's wife, who had entertained him at a splendid ball, he presented a diamond ring worth five thousand ducats; and to her daughter he gave a necklace of rubies worth three thousand. Similar presents, of less value, he bestowed on others of the court, extending his liberality even to the musicians and inferior persons who had contributed to his entertainment. To the churches he gave still more substantial proofs of his generosity. In short, he showed, on all occasions, a munificent spirit worthy of his royal station.

He took some pains, moreover, to reciprocate the civilities he had received, by entertaining his hosts in return. He was particularly fortunate in exhibiting to them a curious spectacle, which, even with this pleasure-loving people, had the rare merit of novelty. This was the graceful tourney introduced into Castile from the Spanish Arabs. The highest nobles in his suite took the lead in it. The cavaliers were arranged in six quadrilles, or factions, each wearing its distinctive livery and badges, with their heads protected by shawls, or turbans, wreathed around them in the Moorish fashion. They were mounted à la gineta, that is, on the light jennet of Andalusia,—a cross of the Arabian. In their hands they brandished their slender lances, with long streamers attached to them, of some gay color, that denoted the particular faction of the cavalier. Thus lightly equipped and mounted, the Spanish knights went through the delicate manœuvres of the Moorish tilt of reeds, showing an easy horsemanship, and performing feats of agility and grace, which delighted the Italians, keenly alive to the beautiful, but hitherto accustomed only to the more ponderous and clumsy exercises of the European tourney.[27]

After some weeks, Prince Philip quitted the hospitable walls of Milan, and set out for the north. Before leaving the place, he was joined by a body of two hundred mounted arquebusiers, wearing his own yellow uniform, and commanded by the duke of Arschot. They had been sent to him as an escort by his father. He crossed the Tyrol, then took the road by the way of Munich, Trent, and Heidelberg, and so on towards Flanders. On all the route, the royal party was beset by multitudes of both sexes, pressing to catch a glimpse of the young prince who was one day to sway the mightiest sceptre in Europe. The magistrates of the cities through which he passed welcomed him with complimentary addresses, and with presents, frequently in the form of silver urns, or goblets, filled with golden ducats. Philip received the donatives with a gracious condescension; and, in truth, they did not come amiss in this season of lavish expenditure. To the addresses, the duke of Alva, who rode by the prince's side, usually responded. The whole of the long journey was performed on horseback,—the only sure mode of conveyance in a country where the roads were seldom practicable for carriages.

At length, after a journey of four months, the royal cavalcade drew near{22} the city of Brussels. Their approach to a great town was intimated by the crowds who came to welcome them; and Philip was greeted with a tumultuous enthusiasm, which made him feel that he was now indeed in the midst of his own people. The throng was soon swelled by bodies of the military; and with this loyal escort, amidst the roar of artillery and the ringing of bells, which sent forth a merry peal from every tower and steeple, Philip made his first entrance into the capital of Belgium.

The Regent Mary held her court there, and her brother, the emperor, was occupying the palace with her. It was not long before the father had again the satisfaction of embracing his son, from whom he had been separated so many years. He must have been pleased with the alteration which time had wrought in Philip's appearance. He was now twenty-one years of age, and was distinguished by a comeliness of person, remarked upon by more than one who had access to his presence. Their report is confirmed by the portraits of him from the pencil of Titian,—taken before the freshness of youth had faded into the sallow hue of disease, and when care and anxiety had not yet given a sombre, perhaps sullen, expression, to his features.

He had a fair, and even delicate complexion. His hair and beard were of a light yellow. His eyes were blue, with the eyebrows somewhat too closely knit together. His nose was thin and aquiline. The principal blemish in his countenance was his thick Austrian lip. His lower jaw protruded even more than that of his father. To his father, indeed, he bore a great resemblance in his lineaments, though those of Philip were of a less intellectual cast. In stature he was somewhat below the middle height, with a slight, symmetrical figure and well-made limbs. He was attentive to his dress, which was rich and elegant, but without any affectation of ornament. His demeanor was grave with that ceremonious observance which marked the old Castilian, and which may be thought the natural expression of Philip's slow and phlegmatic temperament.[28]

During his long residence in Brussels, Charles had the opportunity of superintending his son's education in one department in which it was deficient,—the science of government. And, surely, no instructor could have been found with larger experience than the man who had been at the head of all the great political movements in Europe for the last quarter of a century. Philip passed some time, every day, in his father's cabinet, conversing with him on public affairs, or attending the sessions of the council of state. It can hardly be doubted that Charles, in his private instruction, inculcated on his son two principles so prominent throughout Philip's administration,—to maintain the royal authority in its full extent, and to enforce a strict conformity to the Roman Catholic Communion. It is probable that he found his son an apt and docile scholar. Philip acquired, at least, such habits of patient application, and of watching over the execution of his own plans, as have been possessed by few princes.[29]{23}


The great object of Philip's visit to the Low Countries had been, to present himself to the people of the different provinces, to study their peculiar characters on their own soil, and obtain their recognition as their future sovereign. After a long residence at Brussels, he set out on a tour through the provinces. He was accompanied by the queen-regent, and by the same splendid retinue as on his entrance into the country, with the addition of a large number of the nobles.

The Netherlands had ever been treated by Charles with particular favor, and, under his royal patronage, although the country did not develop its resources as under its own free institutions of a later period, it had greatly prospered. It was more thickly studded with trading towns than any country of similar extent in Europe; and its flourishing communities held the first rank in wealth, industry, and commercial enterprise, as well as in the splendid way of living maintained by the aristocracy. On the present occasion, these communities vied with one another in their loyal demonstrations towards the prince, and in the splendor of the reception which they gave him. A work was compiled by one of the royal suite, setting forth the manifold honors paid to Philip through the whole of the tour, which, even more than his former journey, had the aspect of a triumphal progress. The book grew, under the hands of its patriotic author, to the size of a bulky folio, which, however interesting to his contemporaries, would have but slender attraction for the present generation.[30] The mere inscriptions emblazoned on the triumphal arches, and on the public buildings, spread over a multitude of pages. They were both in Latin and in the language of the country, and they augured the happy days in store for the nation, when, under the benignant sceptre of Philip, it should enjoy the sweets of tranquillity and freedom. Happy auguries! which showed that the prophet was not gifted with the spirit of prophecy.[31]

In these solemnities, Antwerp alone expended fifty thousand pistoles. But no place compared with Brussels in the costliness and splendor of its festivities, the most remarkable of which was a tournament. Under their Burgundian princes the Flemings had been familiar with these chivalrous pageants. The age of chivalry was, indeed, fast fading away before the use of gunpowder and other improvements in military science. But it was admitted that no tourney had been maintained with so much magnificence and knightly prowess since the days of Charles the Bold. The old chronicler's narrative of the event, like the pages of Froissart, seems instinct with the spirit of a feudal age. I will give a few details, at the hazard of appearing trivial to those who may think we have dwelt long enough on the pageants of the courts of Castile and Burgundy. But such pageants form part of the natural accompaniment of a picturesque age, and the illustrations they afford of the manners of the time may have an interest for the student of history.{24}

The tourney was held in a spacious square, inclosed for the purpose, in front of the great palace of Brussels. Four knights were prepared to maintain the field against all comers, and jewels of price were to be awarded as the prize of the victors. The four challengers were Count Mansfeldt, Count Hoorne, Count Aremberg, and the Sieur de Hubermont; among the judges was the duke of Alva; and in the list of the successful antagonists we find the names of Prince Philip of Spain, Emanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, and Count Egmont. These are names famous in history. It is curious to observe how the men who were soon to be at a deadly feud with one another were thus sportively met to celebrate the pastimes of chivalry.

The day was an auspicious one, and the lists were crowded with the burghers of Brussels, and the people of the surrounding country. The galleries which encompassed the area were graced with the rank and beauty of the capital. A canopy, embroidered with the imperial arms in crimson and gold, indicated the place occupied by Charles the Fifth and his sisters, the regent of the Netherlands, and the dowager queen of France.

For several hours the field was gallantly maintained by the four challengers against every knight who was ambitious to prove his prowess in the presence of so illustrious an assembly. At length the trumpets sounded, and announced the entrance of four cavaliers, whose brilliant train of followers intimated them to be persons of high degree. The four knights were Prince Philip, the duke of Savoy, Count Egmont, and Juan Manriquez de Lara, major-domo of the emperor. They were clothed in complete mail, over which they wore surcoats of violet-colored velvet, while the caparisons of their horses were of cloth of gold.

Philip ran the first course. His antagonist was the Count Mansfeldt, a Flemish captain of great renown. At the appointed signal, the two knights spurred against each other, and met in the centre of the lists with a shock that shivered their lances to the very grasp. Both knights reeled in their saddles, but neither lost his seat. The arena resounded with the plaudits of the spectators, not the less hearty that one of the combatants was the heir apparent.

The other cavaliers then tilted, with various success. A general tournament followed, in which every knight eager to break a lance on this fair occasion took part; and many a feat of arms was performed, doubtless long remembered by the citizens of Brussels. At the end of the seventh hour a flourish of trumpets announced the conclusion of the contest, and the assembly broke up in admirable order, the knights retiring to change their heavy panoplies for the lighter vestments of the ball-room. A banquet was prepared by the municipality, in a style of magnificence worthy of their royal guests. The emperor and his sisters honored it with their presence, and witnessed the distribution of the prizes. Among these, a brilliant ruby, the prize awarded for the lança de las damas,—the "ladies' lance," in the language of chivalry,—was assigned by the loyal judges to Prince Philip of Spain.

Dancing succeeded to the banquet; and the high-bred courtesy of the prince was as much commended in the ball-room as his prowess had been in the lists. Maskers mingled with the dancers in Oriental costume, some in the Turkish, others in the Albanian fashion. The merry revels were not prolonged beyond the hour of midnight, when the company broke up, loudly commending, as they withdrew, the good cheer afforded them by the hospitable burghers of Brussels.[32]{25}


Philip won the prize on another occasion, when he tilted against a valiant knight, named Quiñones. He was not so fortunate in an encounter with the son of his old preceptor, Zuñiga, in which he was struck with such force on the head, that, after being carried some distance by his horse, he fell senseless from the saddle. The alarm was great, but the accident passed away without serious consequences.[33]

There were those who denied him skill in the management of his lance. Marillac, the French ambassador at the imperial court, speaking of a tourney given by Philip in honor of the princess of Lorraine, at Augsburg, says he never saw worse lance-playing in his life. At another time he remarks, that the Spanish prince could not even hit his antagonist.[34] It must have been a very palpable hit to be noticed by a Frenchman. The French regarded the Spaniards of that day in much the same manner as they regarded the English at an earlier period, or as they have continued to regard them at a later. The long rivalry of the French and Spanish monarchs had infused into the breasts of their subjects such feelings of mutual aversion, that the opinions of either nation in reference to the other, in the sixteenth century, must be received with the greatest distrust.

But, whatever may have been Philip's success in these chivalrous displays, it is quite certain they were not to his taste. He took part in them only to conform to his father's wishes, and to the humor of the age. Though in his youth he sometimes hunted, he was neither fond of field-sports nor of the athletic exercises of chivalry. His constitution was far from robust. He sought to invigorate it less by exercise than by diet. He confined himself almost wholly to meat, as the most nutritious food, abstaining even from fish; as well as from fruit.[35] Besides his indisposition to active exercises, he had no relish for the gaudy spectacles so fashionable in that romantic age. The part he had played in the pageants, during his long tour, had not been of his own seeking. Though ceremonious, and exacting deference from all who approached him, he was not fond of the pomp and parade of a court life. He preferred to pass his hours in the privacy of his own apartment, where he took pleasure in the conversation of a few whom he honored with his regard. It was with difficulty that the emperor could induce him to leave his retirement and present himself in the audience-chamber, or accompany him on visits of ceremony.[36]{26}

These reserved and quiet tastes of Philip by no means recommended him to the Flemings, accustomed as they were to the pomp and profuse magnificence of the Burgundian court. Their free and social tempers were chilled by his austere demeanor. They contrasted it with the affable deportment of his father, who could so well conform to the customs of the different nations under his sceptre, and who seemed perfectly to comprehend their characters,—the astute policy of the Italian, the home-bred simplicity of the German, and the Castilian propriety and point of honor.[37] With the latter only of these had Philip anything in common. He was in everything a Spaniard. He talked of nothing, seemed to think of nothing, but Spain.[38] The Netherlands were to him a foreign land, with which he had little sympathy. His counsellors and companions were wholly Spanish. The people of Flanders felt, that, under his sway, little favor was to be shown to them; and they looked forward to the time when all the offices of trust in their own country would be given to Castilians, in the same manner as those of Castile, in the early days of Charles the Fifth, had been given to Flemings.[39]

Yet the emperor seemed so little aware of his son's unpopularity, that he was at this very time making arrangements for securing to him the imperial crown. He had summoned a meeting of the electors and great lords of the empire, to be held at Augsburg, in August, 1550. There he proposed to secure Philip's election as king of the Romans, so soon as he had obtained his brother Ferdinand's surrender of that dignity. But Charles did not show, in all this, his usual knowledge of human nature. The lust of power on his son's account—ineffectual for happiness as he had found the possession of it in his own case—seems to have entirely blinded him.

He repaired with Philip to Augsburg, where they were met by Ferdinand and the members of the German diet. But it was in vain that Charles solicited his brother to waive his claim to the imperial succession in favor of his nephew. Neither solicitations nor arguments, backed by the entreaties, even the tears, it is said, of their common sister, the Regent Mary, could move Ferdinand to forego the splendid inheritance. Charles was not more successful when he changed his ground, and urged his brother to acquiesce in Philip's election as his successor in the dignity of king of the Romans; or, at least, in his being associated in that dignity—a thing unprecedented—with his cousin Maximilian, Ferdinand's son, who, it was understood, was destined by the electors to succeed his father.

This young prince, who meanwhile had been summoned to Augsburg, was as little disposed as Ferdinand had been to accede to the proposals of his too grasping father-in-law; though he courteously alleged, as the ground of his refusal, that he had no right to interfere with the decision of the electors. He might safely rest his cause on their decision. They had no desire to perpetuate the imperial sceptre in the line of Castilian monarchs. They had suffered enough from the despotic temper of Charles the Fifth; and this temper they had no reason to think would be mitigated in the person of Philip.



They desired a German to rule over them,—one who would understand the German character, and enter heartily into the feelings of the people. Maximilian's directness of purpose and kindly nature had won largely on the affections of his countrymen, and proved him, in their judgment, worthy of the throne.[40]

Philip, on the other hand, was even more distasteful to the Germans than he was to the Flemings. It was in vain that, at their banquets, he drank twice or thrice as much as he was accustomed to do, until the cardinal of Trent assured him that he was fast gaining in the good graces of the people.[41] The natural haughtiness of his temper showed itself on too many occasions to be mistaken. When Charles returned to his palace, escorted, as he usually was, by a train of nobles and princes of the empire, he would courteously take them by the hand, and raise his hat, as he parted from them. But Philip, it was observed, on like occasions, walked directly into the palace, without so much as turning round, or condescending in any way to notice the courtiers who had accompanied him. This was taking higher ground even than his father had done. In fact, it was said of him, that he considered himself greater than his father, inasmuch as the son of an emperor was greater than the son of a king![42]—a foolish vaunt, not the less indicative of his character, that it was made for him, probably, by the Germans. In short, Philip's manners, which, in the language of a contemporary, had been little pleasing to the Italians, and positively displeasing to the Flemings, were altogether odious to the Germans.[43]

Nor was the idea of Philip's election at all more acceptable to the Spaniards themselves. That nation had been long enough regarded as an appendage to the empire. Their pride had been wounded by the light in which they were held by Charles, who seemed to look on Spain as a royal domain, valuable chiefly for the means it afforded him for playing his part on the great theatre of Europe. The haughty Castilian of the sixteenth century, conscious of his superior pretensions, could ill brook this abasement. He sighed for a prince born and bred in Spain, who would be content to pass his life in Spain, and would have no ambition unconnected with her prosperity and glory. The Spaniards were even more tenacious on this head than the Germans. Their remote situation made them more exclusive, mere strictly national, and less tolerant of foreign influence. They required a Spaniard to rule over them. Such was Philip; and they anticipated the hour when Spain should be divorced from the empire, and, under the sway of a patriotic prince, rise to her just preëminence among the nations.

Yet Charles, far from yielding, continued to press the point with such pertinacity, that it seemed likely to lead to an open rupture between the different branches of his family. For a time Ferdinand kept his apartment, and had no intercourse with Charles or his sister.[44] Yet in the end the genius or the{28} obstinacy of Charles so far prevailed over his brother, that he acquiesced in a private compact, by which, while he was to retain possession of the imperial crown, it was agreed that Philip should succeed him as king of the Romans, and that Maximilian should succeed Philip.[45] Ferdinand hazarded little by concessions which could never be sanctioned by the electoral college. The reverses which befell the emperor's arms in the course of the following year destroyed whatever influence he might have possessed in that body; and he seems never to have revived his schemes for aggrandizing his son by securing to him the succession to the empire.

Philip had now accomplished the great object of his visit. He had presented himself to the people of the Netherlands, and had received their homage as heir to the realm. His tour had been, in some respects, a profitable one. It was scarcely possible that a young man, whose days had hitherto been passed within the narrow limits of his own country, for ever under the same local influences, should not have his ideas greatly enlarged by going abroad and mingling with different nations. It was especially important to Philip to make himself familiar, as none but a resident can be, with the character and institutions of those nations over whom he was one day to preside. Yet his visit to the Netherlands had not been attended with the happiest results. He evidently did not make a favorable impression on the people. The more they saw of him, the less they appeared to like him. Such impressions are usually reciprocal; and Philip seems to have parted from the country with little regret. Thus, in the first interview between the future sovereign and his subjects, the symptoms might already be discerned of that alienation which was afterwards to widen into a permanent and irreparable breach.

Philip, anxious to reach Castile, pushed forward his journey, without halting to receive the civilities that were everywhere tendered to him on his route. He made one exception at Trent, where the ecclesiastical council was holding the memorable session that occupies so large a share in Church annals. On his approach to the city, the cardinal legate, attended by the mitred prelates and other dignitaries of the council, came out in a body to receive him. During his stay there, he was entertained with masks, dancing, theatrical exhibitions, and jousts, contrived to represent scenes in Ariosto.[46] These diversions of the reverend fathers formed a whimsical contrast, perhaps a welcome relief, to their solemn occupation of digesting a creed for the Christian world.


From Trent Philip pursued his way, with all expedition, to Genoa, where he embarked, under the flag of the veteran Doria, who had brought him from Spain. He landed at Barcelona, on the twelfth day of July, 1551, and proceeded at once to Valladolid, where he resumed the government of the kingdom. He was fortified by a letter from his father, dated at Augsburg, which contained ample instructions as to the policy he was to pursue, and freely discussed both the foreign and domestic relations of the country. The letter, which is very long, shows that the capacious mind of Charles, however{29} little time he could personally give to the affairs of the monarchy, fully comprehended its internal condition and the extent of its resources.[47]

The following years were years of humiliation to Charles; years marked by the flight from Innsbruck, and the disastrous siege of Metz,—when, beaten by the Protestants, foiled by the French, the reverses of the emperor pressed heavily on his proud heart, and did more, probably, than all the homilies of his ghostly teachers, to disgust him with the world and its vanities.

Yet these reverses made little impression on Spain. The sounds of war died away before they reached the foot of the Pyrenees. Spain, it is true, sent forth her sons, from time to time, to serve under the banners of Charles; and it was in that school that was perfected the admirable system of discipline and tactics which, begun by the Great Captain, made the Spanish infantry the most redoubtable in Europe. But the great body of the people felt little interest in the success of these distant enterprises, where success brought them no good. Not that the mind of Spain was inactive, or oppressed with the lethargy which stole over it in a later age. There was, on the contrary, great intellectual activity. She was excluded, by an arbitrary government, from pushing her speculations in the regions of theological or political science. But this, to a considerable extent, was the case with most of the neighboring nations; and she indemnified herself for this exclusion by a more diligent cultivation of elegant literature. The constellation of genius had already begun to show itself above the horizon, which was to shed a glory over the meridian and the close of Philip's reign. The courtly poets in the reign of his father had confessed the influence of Italian models, derived through the recent territorial acquisitions in Italy. But the national taste was again asserting its supremacy; and the fashionable tone of composition was becoming more and more accommodated to the old Castilian standard.

It would be impossible that any departure from a national standard should be long tolerated in Spain, where the language, the manners, the dress, the usages of the country, were much the same as they had been for generations,—as they continued to be for generations, long after Cervantes held up the mirror of fiction, to reflect the traits of the national existence more vividly than is permitted to the page of the chronicler. In the rude romances of the fourteenth and the fifteenth century, the Castilian of the sixteenth might see his way of life depicted with tolerable accuracy. The amorous cavalier still thrummed his guitar, by moonlight, under the balcony of his mistress, or wore her favors at the Moorish tilt of reeds. The common people still sung their lively seguidillas, or crowded to the fiestas de toros,—the cruel bull-fights,—or to the more cruel autos da fé. This last spectacle, of comparatively recent origin,—in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella,—was the legitimate consequence of the long wars with the Moslems, which made the Spaniard intolerant of religious infidelity. Atrocious as it seems in a more humane and enlightened age, it was regarded by the ancient Spaniard as a sacrifice grateful to Heaven, at which he was to rekindle the dormant embers of his own religious sensibilities.

The cessation of the long Moorish wars by the fall of Granada, made the most important change in the condition of the Spaniards. They, however, found a vent for their chivalrous fanaticism, in a crusade against the heathen of the New World. Those who returned from their wanderings brought back to Spain little of foreign usages and manners; for the Spaniard was the only civilized man whom they found in the wilds of America.{30}

Thus passed the domestic life of the Spaniard, in the same unvaried circle of habits, opinions, and prejudices, to the exclusion, and probably contempt of everything foreign. Not that these habits did not differ in the different provinces, where their distinctive peculiarities were handed down, with traditional precision, from father to son. But, beneath these, there was one common basis of the national character. Never was there a people, probably, with the exception of the Jews, distinguished by so intense a nationality. It was among such a people, and under such influences, that Philip was born and educated. His temperament and his constitution of mind peculiarly fitted him for the reception of these influences; and the Spaniards, as he grew in years, beheld, with pride and satisfaction, in their future sovereign, the most perfect type of the national character.



Condition of England.—Character of Mary.—Philip's Proposals of Marriage.—Marriage Articles.—Insurrection in England.

1553, 1554.

In the summer of 1553, three years after Philip's return to Spain, occurred an event which was to exercise a considerable influence on his fortunes. This was the death of Edward the Sixth of England,—after a brief but important reign. He was succeeded by his sister Mary, that unfortunate princess, whose sobriquet of "Bloody" gives her a melancholy distinction among the sovereigns of the house of Tudor.

The reign of her father, Henry the Eighth, had opened the way to the great revolution in religion, the effects of which were destined to be permanent. Yet Henry himself showed his strength rather in unsettling ancient institutions than in establishing new ones. By the abolition of the monasteries, he broke up that spiritual militia which was a most efficacious instrument for maintaining the authority of Rome; and he completed the work of independence by seating himself boldly in the chair of St. Peter, and assuming the authority of head of the Church. Thus, while the supremacy of the pope was rejected, the Roman Catholic religion was maintained in its essential principles unimpaired. In other words, the nation remained Catholics, but not Papists.


The impulse thus given under Henry was followed up to more important consequences under his son, Edward the Sixth. The opinions of the German Reformers, considerably modified, especially in regard to the exterior forms and discipline of worship, met with a cordial welcome from the ministers of the young monarch. Protestantism became the religion of the land; and the Church of England received, to a great extent, the peculiar organization which it has preserved to the present day. But Edward's reign was too brief to allow the new opinions to take deep root in the hearts of the people. The greater part of the aristocracy soon showed that, whatever religious zeal they had affected, they were not prepared to make any sacrifice of their temporal interests. On the accession of a Catholic queen to the throne, a reaction soon became visible. Some embarrassment to a return to the former faith was found in the restitution which it might naturally involve of the confiscated{31} property of the monastic orders. But the politic concessions of Rome dispensed with this severe trial of the sincerity of its new proselytes; and England, after repudiating her heresies, was received into the fold of the Roman Catholic Church, and placed once more under the jurisdiction of its pontiff.

After the specimens given of the ready ductility with which the English of that day accommodated their religious creeds to the creed of their sovereign, we shall hardly wonder at the caustic criticism of the Venetian ambassador, resident at the court of London, in Queen Mary's time. "The example and authority of the sovereign," he says, "are everything with the people of this country in matters of faith. As he believes, they believe; Judaism or Mahometanism,—it is all one to them. They conform themselves easily to his will, at least so far as the outward show is concerned; and most easily of all where it concurs with their own pleasure and profit."[48]

The ambassador, Giovanni Micheli, was one of that order of merchant-princes employed by Venice in her foreign missions; men whose acquaintance with affairs enabled them to comprehend the resources of the country to which they were sent, as well as the intrigues of its court. Their observations were digested into elaborate reports, which, on their return to Venice, were publicly read before the doge and the senate. The documents thus prepared form some of the most valuable and authentic materials for the history of Europe in the sixteenth century. Micheli's report is diffuse on the condition of England under the reign of Queen Mary; and some of his remarks will have interest for the reader of the present day, as affording a standard of comparison with the past.[49]

London he eulogizes, as one of the noblest capitals in Europe, containing, with its suburbs, about a hundred and eighty thousand souls.[50] The great lords, as in France and Germany, passed most of their time on their estates in the country.

The kingdom was strong enough, if united, to defy any invasion from abroad. Yet its navy was small, having dwindled, from neglect and an ill-judged economy, to not more than forty vessels of war. But the mercantile{32} marine could furnish two thousand more, which, at a short notice, could be well equipped and got ready for sea. The army was particularly strong in artillery, and provided with all the munitions of war. The weapon chiefly in repute was the bow, to which the English people were trained from early youth. In their cavalry they were most defective. Horses were abundant, but wanted bottom. They were, for the most part, light, weak, and grass-fed.[51] The nation was, above all, to be envied for the lightness of the public burdens. There were no taxes on wine, beer, salt, cloth, nor, indeed, on any of the articles that in other countries furnished the greatest sources of revenue.[52] The whole revenue did not usually exceed two hundred thousand pounds. Parliaments were rarely summoned, except to save the king trouble or to afford a cloak to his designs. No one ventured to resist the royal will; servile the members came there, and servile they remained.[53]—An Englishman of the nineteenth century may smile at the contrast presented by some of these remarks to the condition of the nation at the present day; though in the item of taxation the contrast may be rather fitted to provoke a sigh.

The portrait of Queen Mary is given by the Venetian minister, with a coloring somewhat different from that in which she is commonly depicted by English historians. She was about thirty-six years of age at the time of her accession. In stature, she was of rather less than the middle size,—not large, as was the case with both her father and mother,—and exceedingly well made. "The portraits of her," says Micheli, "show that in her youth she must have been not only good-looking, but even handsome;—though her countenance, when he saw her, exhibited traces of early trouble and disease."[54] But whatever she had lost in personal attractions was fully made up by those of the mind. She was quick of apprehension, and, like her younger sister, Elizabeth, was mistress of several languages, three of which, the French, Spanish, and Latin, she could speak; the last with fluency.[55] But in these accomplishments she was surpassed by her sister, who knew the Greek well, {33}and could speak Italian with ease and elegance. Mary, however, both spoke and wrote her own language in a plain, straightforward manner, that forms a contrast to the ambiguous phrase and cold conceits in which Elizabeth usually conveyed, or rather concealed, her sentiments.


Mary had the misfortune to labour under a chronic infirmity, which confined her for weeks, and indeed months, of every year to her chamber, and which, with her domestic troubles, gave her an air of melancholy, that in later years settled into a repulsive austerity. The tones of her voice were masculine, says the Venetian, and her eyes inspired a feeling, not merely of reverence, but of fear, wherever she turned them. Her spirit he adds, was lofty and magnanimous, never discomposed by danger, showing in all things a blood truly royal.[56]

Her piety, he continues, and her patience under affliction, cannot be too greatly admired. Sustained, as she was, by a lively faith and conscious innocence, he compares her to a light which the fierce winds have no power to extinguish, but which still shines on with increasing lustre.[57] She waited her time, and was plainly reserved by Providence for a great destiny.—We are reading the language of the loyal Catholic, grateful for the services which Mary had rendered to the faith.

Yet it would be uncharitable not to believe that Mary was devout, and most earnest in her devotion. The daughter of Katharine of Aragon, the granddaughter of Isabella of Castile, could hardly have been otherwise. The women of that royal line were uniformly conspicuous for their piety, though this was too often tinctured with bigotry. In Mary, bigotry degenerated into fanaticism, and fanaticism into the spirit of persecution. The worst evils are probably those that have flowed from fanaticism. Yet the amount of the mischief does not necessarily furnish us with the measure of guilt in the author of it. The introduction of the Inquisition into Spain must be mainly charged on Isabella. Yet the student of her reign will not refuse to this great queen the praise of tenderness of conscience and a sincere desire to do the right. Unhappily, the faith in which she, as well as her royal granddaughter, was nurtured, taught her to place her conscience in the keeping of ministers less scrupulous than herself; and on those ministers may fairly rest much of the responsibility of measures on which they only were deemed competent to determine.

Mary's sincerity in her religious professions was placed beyond a doubt by the readiness with which she submitted to the sacrifice of her personal interests whenever the interests of religion seemed to demand it. She burned her translation of a portion of Erasmus, prepared with great labor, at the suggestion of her confessor. An author will readily estimate the value of such a sacrifice. One more important, and intelligible to all, was the resolute manner in which she persisted in restoring the Church property which had been confiscated{34} to the use of the crown. "The crown is too much impoverished to admit of it," remonstrated her ministers. "I would rather lose ten crowns," replied the high-minded queen, "than place my soul in peril."[58]

Yet it cannot be denied, that Mary had inherited, in full measure, some of the sterner qualities of her father, and that she was wanting in that sympathy for human suffering which is so graceful in a woman. After a rebellion, the reprisals were terrible. London was converted into a charnel-house; and the squares and principal streets were garnished with the unsightly trophies of the heads and limbs of numerous victims who had fallen by the hand of the executioner.[59] This was in accordance with the spirit of the age. But the execution of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey—the young, the beautiful, and the good—leaves a blot on the fame of Mary, which finds no parallel but in the treatment of the ill-fated queen of Scots by Elizabeth.

Mary's treatment of Elizabeth has formed another subject of reproach, though the grounds of it are not sufficiently made out; and, at all events, many circumstances may be alleged in extenuation of her conduct. She had seen her mother, the noble-minded Katharine, exposed to the most cruel indignities, and compelled to surrender her bed and her throne to an artful rival, the mother of Elizabeth. She had heard herself declared illegitimate, and her right to the succession set aside in favor of her younger sister. Even after her intrepid conduct had secured to her the crown, she was still haunted by the same gloomy apparition. Elizabeth's pretensions were constantly brought before the public; and Mary might well be alarmed by the disclosure of conspiracy after conspiracy, the object of which, it was rumored, was to seat her sister on the throne. As she advanced in years, Mary had the further mortification of seeing her rival gain on those affections of the people which had grown cool to her. Was it wonderful that she should regard her sister, under these circumstances, with feelings of distrust and aversion? That she did so regard her is asserted by the Venetian minister; and it is plain that, during the first years of Mary's reign, Elizabeth's life hung upon a thread. Yet Mary had strength of principle sufficient to resist the importunities of Charles the Fifth and his ambassador, to take the life of Elizabeth, as a thing indispensable to her own safety and that of Philip. Although her sister was shown to be privy, though not openly accessory, to the grand rebellion under Wyatt, Mary would not constrain the law from its course to do her violence. This was something, under the existing circumstances, in an age so unscrupulous. After this storm had passed over, Mary, whatever restraint she imposed on her real feelings, treated Elizabeth, for the most part, with a show of kindness, though her name still continued to be mingled, whether with or without cause, with more than one treasonable plot.[60] Mary's last act—perhaps the only one in which she openly resisted the will of her husband—was to refuse to compel her sister to accept the hand of Philibert of Savoy. Yet this act would have relieved her of the presence of her rival; and by it Elizabeth would have forfeited her independent possession of the crown,—perhaps the possession of it altogether. It may be doubted whether Elizabeth, under similar circumstances, would have shown the like tenderness to the interests of her successor.{35}


But, however we may be disposed to extenuate the conduct of Mary, and in spiritual matters, more especially, to transfer the responsibility of her acts from herself to her advisers, it is not possible to dwell on this reign of religious persecution without feelings of profound sadness. Not that the number of victims compares with what is recorded of many similar periods of persecution. The whole amount, falling probably short of three hundred who perished at the stake, was less than the number who fell by the hand of the executioner, or by violence, during the same length of time under Henry the Eighth. It was not much greater than might sometimes be found at a single Spanish auto da fé. But Spain was the land in which this might be regarded as the national spectacle,—as much so as the fiesta de toros, or any other of the popular exhibitions of the country. In England, a few examples had not sufficed to steel the hearts of men against these horrors. The heroic company of martyrs, condemned to the most agonizing of deaths for asserting the rights of conscience, was a sight strange and shocking to Englishmen. The feelings of that day have been perpetuated to the present. The reign of religious persecution stands out by itself, as something distinct from the natural course of events; and the fires of Smithfield shed a melancholy radiance over this page of the national history, from which the eye of humanity turns away in pity and disgust.—But it is time to take up the narrative of events which connected for a brief space the political interests of Spain with those of England.

Charles the Fifth had always taken a lively interest in the fortunes of his royal kinswoman. When a young man he had paid a visit to England, and while there had been induced by his aunt, Queen Katharine, to contract a marriage with the Princess Mary,—then only six years old,—to be solemnized on her arriving at the suitable age. But the term was too remote for the constancy of Charles, or, as it is said, for the patience of his subjects, who earnestly wished to see their sovereign wedded to a princess who might present him with an heir to the monarchy. The English match was, accordingly, broken off, and the young emperor gave his hand to Isabella of Portugal.[61]

Mary, who, since her betrothal, had been taught to consider herself as the future bride of the emperor, was at the time but eleven years old. She was old enough, however, to feel something like jealousy, it is said, and to show some pique at this desertion by her imperial lover. Yet this circumstance did not prevent the most friendly relations from subsisting between the parties in after years; and Charles continued to watch over the interests of his kinswoman, and interposed, with good effect, in her behalf, on more than one occasion, both during the reign of Henry the Eighth and of his son, Edward the Sixth. On the death of the latter monarch, he declared himself ready to assist Mary in maintaining her right to the succession;[62] and, when{36} this was finally established, the wary emperor took the necessary measures for turning it to his own account.[63]

He formed a scheme for uniting Philip with Mary, and thus securing to his son the possession of the English crown, in the same manner as that of Scotland had been secured by marriage to the son of his rival, Henry the Second of France. It was, doubtless, a great error to attempt to bring under one rule nations so dissimilar in every particular, and having interests so incompatible as the Spaniards and the English. Historians have regarded it as passing strange, that a prince, who had had such large experience of the difficulties attending the government of kingdoms remote from each other, should seek so to multiply these difficulties on the head of his inexperienced son. But the love of acquisition is a universal principle; nor is it often found that the appetite for more is abated by the consideration that the party is already possessed of more then he can manage.

It was a common opinion, that Mary intended to bestow her hand on her young and handsome kinsman, Courtenay, earl of Devonshire, whom she had withdrawn from the prison in which he had languished for many years, and afterwards treated with distinguished favor. Charles, aware of this, instructed Renard, his minister at the court of London, a crafty, intriguing politician,[64] to sound the queen's inclinations on the subject, but so as not to alarm her. He was to dwell, particularly, on the advantages Mary would derive from a connection with some powerful foreign prince, and to offer his master's counsel, in this or any other matter in which she might desire it. The minister was to approach the subject of the earl of Devonshire with the greatest caution; remembering that, if the queen had a fancy for her cousin, and was like other women, she would not be turned from it by anything that he might say, nor would she readily forgive any reflection upon it.[65] Charles seems to have been as well read in the characters of women as of men; and, as a natural consequence, it may be added, had formed a high estimate of the capacity of the sex. In proof of which, he not only repeatedly committed{37} the government of his states to women, but intrusted them with some of his most delicate political negotiations.


Mary, if she had ever entertained the views imputed to her in respect to Courtenay, must have soon been convinced that his frivolous disposition would ill suit the seriousness of hers. However this may be, she was greatly pleased when Renard hinted at her marriage,—"laughing," says the envoy, "not once, but several times, and giving me a significant look, which showed that the idea was very agreeable to her, plainly intimating at the same time that she had no desire to marry an Englishman."[66] In a subsequent conversation, when Renard ventured to suggest that the prince of Spain was a suitable match, Mary broke in upon him, saying that "she had never felt the smart of what people called love, nor had ever so much as thought of being married, until Providence had raised her to the throne; and that, if she now consented to it, it would be in opposition to her own feelings, from a regard to the public good;" but she begged the envoy to assure the emperor of her wish to obey and to please him in everything, as she would her own father; intimating, however, that she could not broach the subject of her marriage to her council; the question could only be opened by a communication from him.[67]

Charles, who readily saw through Mary's coquetry, no longer hesitated to prefer the suit of Philip. After commending the queen's course in regard to Courtenay, he presented to her the advantages that must arise from such a foreign alliance as would strengthen her on the throne. He declared, in a tone of gallantry rather amusing, that, if it were not for his age and increasing infirmities, he should not hesitate to propose himself as her suitor.[68] The next best thing was to offer her the person dearest to his heart,—his son, the prince of Asturias. He concluded by deprecating the idea that any recommendation of his should interfere, in the least degree, with the exercise of her better judgment.[69]{38}

Renard was further to intimate to the queen the importance of secrecy in regard to this negotiation. If she were disinclined to the proposed match, it would be obviously of no advantage to give it publicity. If, on the other hand, as the emperor had little doubt, she looked on it favorably, but desired to advise with her council before deciding, Renard was to dissuade her from the latter step, and advise her to confide in him.[70] The wary emperor had a twofold motive for these instructions. There was a negotiation on foot at this very time for a marriage of Philip to the infanta of Portugal, and Charles wished to be entirely assured of Mary's acquiescence, before giving such publicity to the affair as might defeat the Portuguese match, which would still remain for Philip, should he not succeed with the English queen.[71] In case Mary proved favorable to his son's suit, Charles, who knew the abhorrence in which foreigners were held by the English beyond all other nations,[72] wished to gain time before communicating with Mary's council. With some delay, he had no doubt that he had the means of winning over a sufficient number of that body to support Philip's pretensions.[73]


These communications could not be carried on so secretly but that some rumor of them reached the ears of Mary's ministers, and of Noailles, the French ambassador at the court of London.[74] This person was a busy and{39} unscrupulous politician, who saw with alarm the prospect of Spain strengthening herself by this alliance with England, and determined, accordingly, in obedience to instructions from home, to use every effort to defeat it. The queen's ministers, with the chancellor, Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, at their head, felt a similar repugnance to the Spanish match. The name of the Spaniards had become terrible from the remorseless manner in which their wars had been conducted during the present reign, especially in the New World. The ambition and the widely-extended dominions of Charles the Fifth made him the most formidable sovereign in Europe. The English looked with apprehension on so close an alliance with a prince who had shown too little regard for the liberties of his own land to make it probable that he or his son would respect those of another. Above all, they dreaded the fanaticism of the Spaniards; and the gloomy spectre of the Inquisition moving in their train made even the good Catholic shudder at the thought of the miseries that might ensue from this ill-omened union.

It was not difficult for Noailles and the chancellor to communicate their own distrust to the members of the parliament, then in session. A petition to the queen was voted in the lower house, in which the commons preferred an humble request that she would marry for the good of the realm, but besought her, at the same time, not to go abroad for her husband, but to select him among her own subjects.[75]

Mary's ministers did not understand her character so well as Charles the Fifth did, when he cautioned his agent not openly to thwart her. Opposition only fixed her more strongly in her original purpose. In a private interview with Renard, she told him that she was apprised of Gardiner's intrigues, and that Noailles, too, was doing the impossible to prevent her union with Philip. "But I will be a match for them," she added. Soon after, taking the ambassador, at midnight, into her oratory, she knelt before the host, and, having repeated the hymn Veni Creator, solemnly pledged herself to take no other man for her husband than the prince of Spain.[76]

This proceeding took place on the thirtieth of October. On the seventeenth of the month following, the commons waited on the queen at her palace of Whitehall, to which she was confined by indisposition, and presented their address. Mary, instead of replying by her chancellor, as was usual, answered them in person. She told them, that from God she held her crown, and that to him alone should she turn for counsel in a matter so important;[77] she had not yet made up her mind to marry; but since they considered{40} it so necessary for the weal of the kingdom, she would take it into consideration. It was a matter in which no one was so much interested as herself. But they might be assured that, in her choice, she would have regard to the happiness of her people, full as much as to her own. The commons, who had rarely the courage to withstand the frown of their Tudor princes, professed themselves contented with this assurance; and, from this moment, opposition ceased from that quarter.

Mary's arguments were reinforced by more conciliatory, but not less efficacious persuasives, in the form of gold crowns, gold chains, and other compliments of the like nature, which were distributed pretty liberally by the Spanish ambassador among the members of her council.[78]

In the following December, a solemn embassy left Brussels, to wait on Mary and tender her the hand of Philip. It was headed by Lamoral, Count Egmont, the Flemish noble so distinguished in later years by his military achievements, and still more by his misfortunes. He was attended by a number of Flemish lords and a splendid body of retainers. He landed in Kent, where the rumor went abroad that it was Philip himself; and so general was the detestation of the Spanish match among the people, that it might have gone hard with the envoy, had the mistake not been discovered. Egmont sailed up the Thames, and went ashore at Tower Wharf, on the second of January, 1554. He was received with all honor by Lord William Howard and several of the great English nobles, and escorted in much state to Westminster, where his table was supplied at the charge of the city. Gardiner entertained the embassy at a sumptuous banquet; and the next day Egmont and his retinue proceeded to Hampton Court, "where they had great cheer," says an old chronicler, "and hunted the deer, and were so greedy of their destruction, that they gave them not fair play for their lives; for," as he peevishly complains, "they killed rag and tag, with hands and swords."[79]

On the twelfth, the Flemish count was presented to the queen, and tendered her proposals of marriage in behalf of Prince Philip. Mary, who probably thought she had made advances enough, now assumed a more reserved air. "It was not for a maiden queen," she said, "thus publicly to enter on so delicate a subject as her own marriage. This would be better done by her ministers, to whom she would refer him. But this she would have him understand," she added, as she cast her eyes on the ring on her finger, "her realm was her first husband, and none other should induce her to violate the oath which she had pledged at her coronation."


Notwithstanding this prudery of Mary, she had already manifested such a prepossession for her intended lord as to attract the notice of her courtiers, one of whom refers it to the influence of a portrait of Philip, of which she had become "greatly enamored."[80] That such a picture was sent to her appears from a letter of Philip's aunt, the regent of the Netherlands, in which she tells the English queen that she has sent her a portrait of the prince,{41} from the pencil of Titian, which she was to return so soon as she was in possession of the living original. It had been taken some three years before, she said, and was esteemed a good likeness, though it would be necessary, as in the case of other portraits by this master, to look at it from a distance in order to see the resemblance.[81]

The marriage treaty was drawn up with great circumspection, under the chancellor's direction. It will be necessary to notice only the most important provisions. It was stipulated that Philip should respect the laws of England, and leave every man in the full enjoyment of his rights and immunities. The power of conferring titles, honors, emoluments, and offices of every description, was to be reserved to the queen. Foreigners were to be excluded from office. The issue of the marriage, if a son, was to succeed to the English crown and to the Spanish possessions in Burgundy and the Low Countries. But in case of the death of Don Carlos, Philip's son, the issue of the present marriage was to receive, in addition to the former inheritance, Spain and her dependencies. The queen was never to leave her own kingdom without her express desire. Her children were not to be taken out of it without the consent of the nobles. In case of Mary's death, Philip was not to claim the right of taking part in the government of the country. Further it was provided that Philip should not entangle the nation in his wars with France, but should strive to maintain the same amicable relations that now subsisted between the two countries.[82]

Such were the cautious stipulations of this treaty, which had more the aspect of a treaty for defence against an enemy than a marriage contract. The instrument was worded with a care that reflected credit on the sagacity of its framers. All was done that parchment could do to secure the independence of the crown, as well as the liberties of the people. "But if the bond be violated," asked one of the parliamentary speakers on the occasion, "who is there to sue the bond?" Every reflecting Englishman must have felt the inefficacy of any guaranty that could be extorted from Philip, who, once united to Mary, would find little difficulty in persuading a fond and obedient wife to sanction his own policy, prejudicial though it might be to the true interests of the kingdom.

No sooner was the marriage treaty made public, than the popular discontent, before partially disclosed, showed itself openly throughout the country. Placards were put up, lampoons were written, reviling the queen's ministers and ridiculing the Spaniards; ominous voices were heard from old, dilapidated buildings, boding the ruin of the monarchy. Even the children became infected with the passions of their fathers. Games were played in which the English were represented contending with the Spaniards; and in one of these an unlucky urchin, who played the part of Philip, narrowly escaped with his life from the hands of his exasperated comrades.[83]

But something more serious than child's play showed itself, in three several insurrections which broke out in different quarters of the kingdom. The most{42} formidable of them was the one led by Sir Thomas Wyatt, son of the celebrated poet of that name. It soon gathered head, and the number of the insurgents was greatly augmented by the accession of a considerable body of the royal forces, who deserted their colours, and joined the very men against whom they had been sent. Thus strengthened, Wyatt marched on London. All there were filled with consternation,—all but their intrepid queen, who showed as much self-possession and indifference to danger as if it were only an ordinary riot.

Proceeding at once into the city, she met the people at Guildhall, and made them a spirited address, which has been preserved in the pages of Holinshed. It concludes in the following bold strain, containing an allusion to the cause of the difficulties:—"And certainly, if I did either know or think that this marriage should either turn to the danger or loss of any of you, my loving subjects, or to the detriment or impairing of any part or parcel of the royal estate of this realm of England, I would never consent thereunto, neither would I ever marry while I lived. And on the word of a queen, I promise and assure you, that, if it shall not probably appear before the nobility and commons, in the high court of parliament, that this marriage shall be for the singular benefit and commodity of all the whole realm, that then I will abstain, not only from this marriage, but also from any other whereof peril may ensue to this most noble realm. Wherefore now as good and faithful subjects pluck up your hearts, and like true men stand fast with your lawful prince against these rebels, both our enemies and yours, and fear them not; for I assure you that I fear them nothing at all!"[84] The courageous spirit of their queen communicated itself to her audience, and in a few hours twenty thousand citizens enrolled themselves under the royal banner.

Meanwhile, the rebel force continued its march, and reports soon came that Wyatt was on the opposite bank of the Thames; then, that he had crossed the river. Soon his presence was announced by the flight of a good number of the royalists, among whom was Courtenay, who rode off before the enemy at a speed that did little credit to his valor. All was now confusion again. The lords and ladies in attendance gathered round the queen in Whitehall, as if to seek support from her more masculine nature. Her ministers went down on their knees, to implore her to seek refuge in the Tower, as the only place of safety. Mary smiled with contempt at the pusillanimous proposal, and resolved to remain where she was, and abide the issue.

It was not long in coming. Wyatt penetrated as far as Ludgate, with desperate courage, but was not well seconded by his followers. The few who proved faithful were surrounded and overwhelmed by numbers. Wyatt was made prisoner, and the whole rebel rout discomfited and dispersed. By this triumph over her enemies, Mary was seated more strongly than ever on the throne. Henceforward the Spanish match did not meet with opposition from the people, any more than from the parliament.

Still the emperor, after this serious demonstration of hostility to his son, felt a natural disquietude in regard to his personal safety, which made him desirous of obtaining some positive guaranty before trusting him among the turbulent islanders. He wrote to his ambassador to require such security from the government. But no better could be given than the royal promise that everything should be done to insure the prince's safety. Renard was much perplexed. He felt the responsibility of his own position. He declined to pledge himself for the quiet deportment of the English; but he thought matters had already gone too far to leave it in the power of Spain to recede.



He wrote, moreover, both to Charles and to Philip, recommending that the prince should not bring over with him a larger retinue of Spaniards than was necessary, and that the wives of his nobles—for he seems to have regarded the sex as the source of evil—should not accompany them.[85] Above all, he urged Philip and his followers to lay aside the Castilian hauteur, and to substitute the conciliatory manners which might disarm the jealousy of the English.[86]



Mary's Betrothal.—Joanna Regent of Castile.—Philip embarks for England.—His splendid Reception.—Marriage of Philip and Mary.—Royal Entertainments.—Philip's Influence.—The Catholic Church restored.—Philip's Departure.

1554, 1555.

In the month of March, 1554, Count Egmont arrived in England, on a second embassy, for the purpose of exchanging the ratifications of the marriage treaty. He came in the same state as before, and was received by the queen in the presence of her council. The ceremony was conducted with great solemnity. Mary, kneeling down, called God to witness, that, in contracting this marriage, she had been influenced by no motive of a carnal or worldly nature, but by the desire of securing the welfare and tranquillity of the kingdom. To her kingdom her faith had first been plighted; and she hoped that Heaven would give her strength to maintain inviolate the oath she had taken at her coronation.

This she said with so much grace, that the bystanders, says Renard,—who was one of them,—were all moved to tears. The ratifications were then exchanged, and the oaths taken, in presence of the host, by the representatives of Spain and England; when Mary, again kneeling, called on those present to unite with her in prayer to the Almighty, that he would enable her faithfully to keep the articles of the treaty, and would make her marriage a happy one.

Count Egmont then presented to the queen a diamond ring which the emperor had sent her. Mary, putting it on her finger, showed it to the company; "and assuredly," exclaims the Spanish minister, "the jewel was a precious one, and well worthy of admiration." Egmont, before departing for Spain, inquired of Mary whether she would intrust him with any message to Prince Philip. The queen replied, that "he might tender to the prince her most affectionate regards, and assure him that she should be always ready to vie with him in such offices of kindness as became a loving and obedient wife." When asked if she would write to him, she answered, "Not till he had begun the correspondence."[87]{44}

This lets us into the knowledge of a little fact, very significant. Up to this time Philip had neither written, nor so much as sent a single token of regard to his mistress. All this had been left to his father. Charles had arranged the marriage, had wooed the bride, had won over her principal advisers,—in short, had done all the courtship. Indeed, the inclinations of Philip, it is said, had taken another direction, and he would have preferred the hand of his royal kinswoman, Mary of Portugal.[88] However this may be, it is not probable that he felt any great satisfaction in the prospect of being united to a woman who was eleven years older than himself, and whose personal charms, whatever they might once have been, had long since faded, under the effects of disease and a constitutional melancholy. But he loved power; and whatever scruples he might have entertained on his own account were silenced before the wishes of his father.[89] "Like another Isaac," exclaims Sandoval, in admiration of his conduct, "he sacrificed himself on the altar of filial duty."[90] The same implicit deference which Philip showed his father in this delicate matter, he afterwards, under similar circumstances, received from his own son.


After the marriage articles had been ratified, Philip sent a present of a magnificent jewel to the English queen, by a Spanish noble of high rank, the Marquis de las Nayas.[91] The marquis, who crossed from Biscay with a squadron of four ships, landed at Plymouth, and, as he journeyed towards London, was met by the young Lord Herbert, son of the earl of Pembroke, who conducted him, with an escort of four hundred mounted gentlemen, to his family seat in Wiltshire. "And as they rode together to Wilton," says Lord Edmund Dudley, one of the party, "there were certain courses at the hare, which was so pleasant that the marquis much delighted in finding the course so readily appointed. As for the marquis's great cheer, as well that night at supper as otherwise at his breakfast the next day, surely it was so abundant, that it was not a little marvel to consider that so great a preparation could be made in so small a warning.... Surely it was not a little{45} comfort to my heart to see all things so honorably used for the honor and service of the queen's majesty."[92]

Meanwhile, Philip was making his arrangements for leaving Spain, and providing a government for the country during his absence. It was decided by the emperor to intrust the regency to his daughter, the Princess Joanna. She was eight years younger than Philip. About eighteen months before, she had gone to Portugal as the bride of the heir of that kingdom. But the fair promise afforded by this union was blasted by the untimely death of her consort, which took place on the second of January, 1554. Three weeks afterwards, the unhappy widow gave birth to a son, the famous Don Sebastian, whose Quixotic adventures have given him a wider celebrity than is enjoyed by many a wiser sovereign. After the cruel calamity which had befallen her, it was not without an effort that Joanna resigned herself to her father's wishes, and consented to enter on the duties of public life. In July, she quitted Lisbon,—the scene of early joys, and of hopes for ever blighted,—and, amidst the regrets of the whole court, returned, under a princely escort, to Castile. She was received on the borders by the king, her brother, who conducted her to Valladolid. Here she was installed, with due solemnity, in her office of regent. A council of state was associated with her in the government. It consisted of persons of the highest consideration, with the archbishop of Seville at their head. By this body Joanna was to be advised, and indeed to be guided in all matters of moment. Philip, on his departure, left his sister an ample letter of instructions as to the policy to be pursued by the administration, especially in affairs of religion.[93]

Joanna seems to have been a woman of discretion and virtue,—qualities which belonged to the females of her line. She was liberal in her benefactions to convents and colleges; and their cloistered inmates showed their gratitude by the most lavish testimony to her deserts. She had one rather singular practice. She was in the habit of dropping her veil, when giving audience to foreign ambassadors. To prevent all doubts as to her personal identity, she began the audience by raising her veil, saying, "Am I not the princess?" She then again covered her face, and the conference was continued without her further exposing her features. "It was not necessary," says her biographer, in an accommodating spirit, "to have the face uncovered in order to hear."[94] Perhaps Joanna considered this reserve as suited to the season of her mourning, intending it as a mark of respect to the memory of her deceased lord. In any other view, we might suspect that there entered into her constitution a{46} vein of the same madness which darkened so large a part of the life of her grandmother and namesake, Joanna of Castile.

Before leaving Valladolid, Philip formed a separate establishment for his son, Don Carlos, and placed his education under the care of a preceptor, Luis de Vives, a scholar not to be confounded with his namesake, the learned tutor of Mary of England. Having completed his arrangements, Philip set out for the place of his embarkation in the north. At Compostella he passed some days, offering up his devotions to the tutelar saint of Spain, whose shrine, throughout the Middle Ages, had been the most popular resort of pilgrims from the western parts of Christendom.

While at Compostella, Philip subscribed the marriage treaty, which had been brought over from England by the earl of Bedford. He then proceeded to Corunna, where a fleet of more than a hundred sail was riding at anchor, in readiness to receive him. It was commanded by the admiral of Castile, and had on board, besides its complement of seamen, four thousand of the best troops of Spain. On the eleventh of July, Philip embarked, with his numerous retinue, in which, together with the Flemish Counts Egmont and Hoorne, were to be seen the dukes of Alva and Medina Cœli, the prince of Eboli,—in short, the flower of the Castilian nobility. They came attended by their wives and vassals, minstrels and mummers, and a host of idle followers, to add to the splendor of the pageant and do honor to their royal master. Yet the Spanish ambassador at London had expressly recommended to Philip that his courtiers should leave their ladies at home, and should come in as simple guise as possible, so as not to arouse the jealousy of the English.[95]

After a pleasant run of a few days, the Spanish squadron came in sight of the combined fleets of England and Flanders, under the command of the Lord Admiral Howard, who was cruising in the channel in order to meet the prince and convoy him to the English shore. The admiral seems to have been a blunt sort of man, who spoke his mind with more candor than courtesy. He greatly offended the Flemings by comparing their ships to muscle-shells.[96] He is even said to have fired a gun as he approached Philip's squadron, in order to compel it to lower its topsails in acknowledgment of the supremacy of the English in the "narrow seas." But this is probably the patriotic vaunt of an English writer, since it is scarcely possible that the haughty Spaniard of that day would have made such a concession, and still less so that the British commander would have been so discourteous as to exact it on this occasion.

On the nineteenth of July, the fleets came to anchor in the port of Southampton. A number of barges were soon seen pushing off from the shore; one of which, protected by a rich awning and superbly lined with cloth of gold, was manned by sailors, whose dress of white and green intimated the royal livery. It was the queen's barge, intended for Philip; while the other boats, all gaily ornamented, received his nobles and their retinues.


The Spanish prince was welcomed, on landing, by a goodly company of English lords, assembled to pay him their obeisance. The earl of Arundel presented him, in the queen's name, with the splendid insignia of the order of the Garter.[97] Philip's dress, as usual, was of plain black velvet, with a{47} berret cap, ornamented, after the fashion of the time, with gold chains. By Mary's orders, a spirited Andalusian jennet had been provided for him, which the prince instantly mounted. He was a good rider, and pleased the people by his courteous bearing, and the graceful manner in which he managed his horse.

The royal procession then moved forward to the ancient church of the Holy Rood, where mass was said, and thanks were offered up for their prosperous voyage. Philip, after this, repaired to the quarters assigned to him during his stay in the town. They were sumptuously fitted up, and the walls of the principal apartment hung with arras, commemorating the doings of that royal polemic, Henry the Eighth. Among other inscriptions in honor of him might be seen one proclaiming him "Head of the Church," and "Defender of the Faith;"—words which, as they were probably in Latin, could not have been lost on the Spaniards.[98]

The news of Philip's landing was received in London with every demonstration of joy. Guns were fired, bells were rung, processions were made to the churches, bonfires were lighted in all the principal streets, tables were spread in the squares laden with good cheer, and wine and ale flowed freely as water for all comers.[99] In short, the city gave itself up to a general jubilee, as if it were celebrating some victorious monarch returned to his dominions, and not the man whose name had lately been the object of such general execration. Mary gave instant orders that the nobles of her court should hold themselves in readiness to accompany her to Winchester, where she was to receive the prince; and on the twenty-first of July she made her entry, in great state, into that capital, and established her residence in the episcopal palace.

During the few days that Philip stayed at Southampton, he rode constantly abroad, and showed himself frequently to the people. The information he had received, before his voyage, of the state of public feeling, had suggested to him some natural apprehensions for his safety. He seems to have resolved, from the first, therefore, to adopt such a condescending, and indeed affable demeanor, as would disarm the jealousy of the English, and if possible conciliate their good-will. In this he appears to have been very successful, although some of the more haughty of the aristocracy did take exception at his neglecting to raise his cap to them. That he should have imposed the degree of restraint which he seems to have done on the indulgence of his natural disposition, is good proof of the strength of his apprehensions.[100]

The favor which Philip showed the English gave umbrage to his own nobles. They were still more disgusted by the rigid interpretation of one of the marriage articles, by which some hundreds of their attendants were prohibited, as foreigners, from landing, or, after landing, were compelled to reembark, and return to Spain.[101] Whenever Philip went abroad he was accompanied{48} by Englishmen. He was served by Englishmen at his meals. He breakfasted and dined in public, a thing but little to his taste. He drank healths, after the manner of the English, and encouraged his Spanish followers to imitate his example, as he quaffed the strong ale of the country.[102]

On the twenty-third of the month, the earl of Pembroke arrived, with a brilliant company of two hundred mounted gentlemen, to escort the prince to Winchester. He was attended, moreover, by a body of English archers, whose tunics of yellow cloth, striped with bars of red velvet, displayed the gaudy-colored livery of the house of Aragon. The day was unpropitious. The rain fell heavily, in such torrents as might have cooled the enthusiasm of a more ardent lover than Philip. But he was too gallant a cavalier to be daunted by the elements. The distance, not great in itself, was to be travelled on horseback,—the usual mode of conveyance at a time when roads were scarcely practicable for carriages.

Philip and his retinue had not proceeded far, when they were encountered by a cavalier, riding at full speed, and bringing with him a ring which Mary had sent her lover, with the request that he would not expose himself to the weather, but postpone his departure to the following day. The prince, not understanding the messenger, who spoke in English, and suspecting that it was intended by Mary to warn him of some danger in his path, instantly drew up by the road-side, and took counsel with Alva and Egmont as to what was to be done. One of the courtiers, who perceived his embarrassment, rode up and acquainted the prince with the real purport of the message. Relieved of his alarm, Philip no longer hesitated, but, with his red felt cloak wrapped closely about him and a broad beaver slouched over his eyes, manfully pushed forward, in spite of the tempest.

As he advanced, his retinue received continual accessions from the neighboring gentry and yeomanry, until it amounted to some thousands before he reached Winchester. It was late in the afternoon when the cavalcade, soiled with travel and thoroughly drenched with rain, arrived before the gates of the city. The mayor and aldermen, dressed in their robes of scarlet, came to welcome the prince, and, presenting the keys of the city, conducted him to his quarters.

That evening Philip had his first interview with Mary. It was private, and he was taken to her residence by the chancellor, Gardiner, bishop of Winchester. The royal pair passed an hour or more together; and, as Mary spoke the Castilian fluently, the interview must have been spared much of the embarrassment that would otherwise have attended it.[103]{49}


On the following day the parties met in public. Philip was attended by the principal persons of his suite, of both sexes; and as the procession, making a goodly show, passed through the streets on foot, the minstrelsy played before them till they reached the royal residence. The reception-room was the great hall of the palace. Mary, stepping forward to receive her betrothed, saluted him with a loving kiss before all the company. She then conducted him to a sort of throne, where she took her seat by his side, under a stately canopy. They remained there for an hour or more, conversing together, while their courtiers had leisure to become acquainted with one another, and to find ample food, doubtless, for future criticism, in the peculiarities of national costume and manners. Notwithstanding the Spanish blood in Mary's veins, the higher circles of Spain and England had personally almost as little intercourse with one another at that period, as England and Japan have at the present.

The ensuing day, the festival of St. James, the patron saint of Spain, was the one appointed for the marriage. Philip exchanged his usual simple dress for the bridal vestments provided for him by his mistress. They were of spotless white, as the reporter is careful to inform us, satin and cloth of gold, thickly powdered with pearls and precious stones. Round his neck he wore the superb collar of the Golden Fleece, the famous Burgundian order; while the brilliant riband below his knee served as the badge of the no less illustrious order of the Garter. He went on foot to the cathedral, attended by all his nobles, vying with one another in the ostentatious splendor of their retinues.

Half an hour elapsed before Philip was joined by the queen at the entrance of the cathedral. Mary was surrounded by the lords and ladies of her court. Her dress, of white satin and cloth of gold, like his own, was studded and fringed with diamonds of inestimable price, some of them, doubtless, the gift of Philip, which he had sent to her by the hands of the prince of Eboli, soon after his landing. Her bright-red slippers, and her mantle of black velvet, formed a contrast to the rest of her apparel, and, for a bridal costume, would hardly suit the taste of the present day. The royal party then moved up the nave of the cathedral, and were received in the choir by the bishop of Winchester, supported by the great prelates of the English Church. The greatest of all, Cranmer, the primate of all England, who should have performed the ceremony, was absent,—in disgrace and a prisoner.

Philip and Mary took their seats under a royal canopy, with an altar between them. The queen was surrounded by the ladies of her court; whose beauty, says an Italian writer, acquired additional lustre by contrast with the shadowy complexions of the south.[104] The aisles and spacious galleries were crowded with spectators of every degree, drawn together from the most distant quarters to witness the ceremony.

The silence was broken by Figueroa, one of the imperial council, who read aloud an instrument of the emperor, Charles the Fifth. It stated that this marriage had been of his own seeking; and he was desirous that his beloved son should enter into it in a manner suitable to his own expectations and the{50} dignity of his illustrious consort. He therefore resigned to him his entire right and sovereignty over the kingdom of Naples and the duchy of Milan. The rank of the parties would thus be equal, and Mary, instead of giving her hand to a subject, would wed a sovereign like herself.

Some embarrassment occurred as to the person who should give the queen away,—a part of the ceremony not provided for. After a brief conference, it was removed by the marquis of Winchester and the earls of Pembroke and Derby, who took it on themselves to give her away in the name of the whole realm; at which the multitude raised a shout that made the old walls of the cathedral ring again. The marriage service was then concluded by the bishop of Winchester. Philip and Mary resumed their seats, and mass was performed, when the bridegroom, rising, gave his consort the "kiss of peace," according to the custom of the time. The whole ceremony occupied nearly four hours. At the close of it Philip, taking Mary by the hand, led her from the church. The royal couple were followed by the long train of prelates and nobles, and were preceded by the earls of Pembroke and Derby, each bearing aloft a naked sword, the symbol of sovereignty. The effect of the spectacle was heightened by the various costumes of the two nations,—the richly-tinted and picturesque dresses of the Spaniards, and the solid magnificence of the English and Flemings, mingling together in gay confusion. The glittering procession moved slowly on, to the blithe sounds of festal music, while the air was rent with the loyal acclamations of the populace, delighted, as usual, with the splendor of the pageant.

In the great hall of the episcopal palace, a sumptuous banquet was prepared for the whole company. At one end of the apartment was a dais, on which, under a superb canopy, a table was set for the king and queen; and a third seat was added for Bishop Gardiner, the only one of the great lords who was admitted to the distinction of dining with royalty.

Below the dais, the tables were set on either side through the whole length of the hall, for the English and Spanish nobles, all arranged—a perilous point of etiquette—with due regard to their relative rank. The royal table was covered with dishes of gold. A spacious beaufet, rising to the height of eight stages, or shelves, and filled with a profusion of gold and silver vessels, somewhat ostentatiously displayed the magnificence of the prelate, or of his sovereign. Yet this ostentation was rather Spanish than English; and was one of the forms in which the Castilian grandee loved to display his opulence.[105]

At the bottom of the hall was an orchestra, occupied by a band of excellent performers, who enlivened the repast by their music. But the most interesting part of the show was that of the Winchester boys, some of whom were permitted to enter the presence, and recite in Latin their epithalamiums in honor of the royal nuptials, for which they received a handsome guerdon from the queen.


After the banquet came the ball, at which, if we are to take an old English authority, "the Spaniards were greatly out of countenance when they saw the English so far excel them."[106] This seems somewhat strange, considering that dancing is, and always has been, the national pastime of Spain. Dancing is to the Spaniard what music is to the Italian,—the very condition of his{51} social existence.[107] It did not continue late on the present occasion, and, at the temperate hour of nine, the bridal festivities closed for the evening.[108]

Philip and Mary passed a few days in this merry way of life, at Winchester, whence they removed, with their court, to Windsor. Here a chapter of the order of the Garter was held, for the purpose of installing King Philip. The herald, on this occasion, ventured to take down the arms of England, and substitute those of Spain, in honor of the new sovereign,—an act of deference which roused the indignation of the English lords, who straightway compelled the functionary to restore the national escutcheon to its proper place.[109]

On the twenty-eighth of August, Philip and Mary made their public entry into London. They rode in on horseback, passing through the borough of Southwark, across London Bridge. Every preparation was made by the loyal citizens to give them a suitable reception. The columns of the buildings were festooned with flowers, triumphal arches spanned the streets, the walls were hung with pictures or emblazoned with legends in commemoration of the illustrious pair, and a genealogy was traced for Philip, setting forth his descent from John of Gaunt,—making him out, in short, as much of an Englishman as possible.

Among the paintings was one in which Henry the Eighth was seen holding in his hand a Bible. This device gave great scandal to the chancellor, Gardiner, who called the painter sundry hard names, rating him roundly for putting into King Harry's hand the sacred volume, which should rather have been given to his daughter, Queen Mary, for her zeal to restore the primitive worship of the Church. The unlucky artist lost no time in repairing his error by brushing out the offending volume, and did it so effectually, that he brushed out the royal fingers with it, leaving the old monarch's mutilated stump held up, like some poor mendicant's, to excite the compassion of the spectators.[110]

But the sight which, more than all these pageants, gave joy to the hearts of the Londoners, was an immense quantity of bullion, which Philip caused to be paraded through the city on its way to the Tower, where it was deposited{52} in the royal treasury. The quantity was said to be so great, that, on one occasion, the chests containing it filled twenty carts. On another, two wagons were so heavily laden with the precious metal as to require to be drawn by nearly a hundred horses.[111] The good people, who had looked to the coming of the Spaniards as that of a swarm of locusts which was to consume their substance, were greatly pleased to see their exhausted coffers so well replenished from the American mines.

From London the royal pair proceeded to the shady solitudes of Hampton Court, and Philip, weary of the mummeries in which he had been compelled to take part, availed himself of the indisposition of his wife to indulge in that retirement and repose which were more congenial to his taste. This way of life in his pleasant retreat, however, does not appear to have been so well suited to the taste of his English subjects. At least, an old chronicler peevishly complains that "the hall-door within the court was continually shut, so that no man might enter unless his errand were first known; which seemed strange to Englishmen that had not been used thereto."[112]

Yet Philip, although his apprehensions for his safety had doubtless subsided, was wise enough to affect the same conciliatory manners as on his first landing,—and not altogether in vain. "He discovered," says the Venetian ambassador, in his report to the senate, "none of that sosiego—the haughty indifference of the Spaniards—which distinguished him when he first left home for Italy and Flanders.[113] He was, indeed, as accessible as any one could desire, and gave patient audience to all who asked it. He was solicitous," continues Micheli, "to instruct himself in affairs, and showed a taste for application to business,"—which, it may be added, grew stronger with years. "He spoke little. But his remarks, though brief, were pertinent. In short," he concludes, "he is a prince of an excellent genius, a lively apprehension, and a judgment ripe beyond his age."

Philip's love of business, however, was not such as to lead him to take part prematurely in the management of affairs. He discreetly left this to the queen and her ministers, to whose judgment he affected to pay the greatest deference. He particularly avoided all appearance of an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice, unless it were to obtain some act of grace. Such interference only served to gain him the more credit with the people.[114]{53}


That he gained largely on their good-will may be inferred from the casual remarks of more than one contemporary writer. They bear emphatic testimony to the affability of his manners, so little to have been expected from the popular reports of his character. "Among other things," writes Wotton, the English minister at the French court, "one I have been right glad to hear of is, that the king's highness useth himself so gently and lovingly to all men. For, to tell you the truth, I have heard some say, that, when he came out of Spain into Italy, it was by some men wished that he had showed a somewhat more benign countenance to the people than it was said he then did."[115] Another contemporary, in a private letter, written soon after the king's entrance into London, after describing his person as "so well proportioned that Nature cannot work a more perfect pattern," concludes with commending him for his "pregnant wit and most gentle nature."[116]

Philip, from the hour of his landing, had been constant in all his religious observances. "He was as punctual," says Micheli, "in his attendance at mass, and his observance of all the forms of devotion, as any monk;—more so, as some people thought, than became his age and station. The ecclesiastics," he adds, "with whom Philip had constant intercourse, talked loudly of his piety."[117]

Yet there was no hypocrisy in this. However willing Philip may have been that his concern for the interests of religion might be seen of men, it is no less true that, as far as he understood these interests, his concern was perfectly sincere. The actual state of England may have even operated as an inducement with him to overcome his scruples as to the connection with Mary. "Better not reign at all," he often remarked, "than reign over heretics." But what triumph more glorious than that of converting these heretics, and bringing them back again into the bosom of the Church? He was most anxious to prepare the minds of his new subjects for an honorable reception of the papal legate, Cardinal Pole, who was armed with full authority to receive the submission of England to the Holy See. He employed his personal influence with the great nobles, and enforced it occasionally by liberal drafts on those Peruvian ingots which he had sent to the Tower. At least, it is asserted that he gave away yearly pensions, to the large amount of between fifty and sixty thousand gold crowns, to sundry of the queen's ministers. It was done on the general plea of recompensing their loyalty to their mistress.[118]

Early in November, tidings arrived of the landing of Pole. He had been detained some weeks in Germany, by the emperor, who felt some distrust—not ill-founded, as it seems—of the cardinal's disposition in regard to the{54} Spanish match. Now that this difficulty was obviated, he was allowed to resume his journey. He came up the Thames in a magnificent barge, with a large silver cross, the emblem of his legatine authority, displayed on the prow. The legate, on landing, was received by the king, the queen, and the whole court, with a reverential deference which argued well for the success of his mission.

He was the man, of all others, best qualified to execute it. To a natural kindness of temper he united an urbanity and a refinement of manners, derived from familiar intercourse with the most polished society of Europe, his royal descent entitled him to mix on terms of equality with persons of the highest rank, and made him feel as much at ease in the court as in the cloister. His long exile had opened to him an acquaintance with man as he is found in various climes, while, as a native-born Englishman, he perfectly understood the prejudices and peculiar temper of his own countrymen. "Cardinal Pole," says the Venetian minister, "is a man of unblemished nobility, and so strict in his integrity, that he grants nothing to the importunity of friends. He is so much beloved, both by prince and people, that he may well be styled the king where all is done by his authority."[119] An English cardinal was not of too frequent occurrence in the sacred college. That one should have been found at the present juncture, with personal qualities, moreover, so well suited to the delicate mission to England, was a coincidence so remarkable, that Philip and Mary might well be excused for discerning in it the finger of Providence.

On the seventeenth of the month, parliament, owing to the queen's indisposition, met at Whitehall; and Pole made that celebrated speech in which he recapitulated some of the leading events of his own life, and the persecutions he had endured for conscience' sake. He reviewed the changes in religion which had taken place in England, and implored his audience to abjure their spiritual errors, and to seek a reconciliation with the Catholic Church. He assured them of his plenary power to grant absolution for the past; and—what was no less important—to authorize the present proprietors to retain possession of the abbey lands which had been confiscated under King Henry. This last concession, which had been extorted with difficulty from the pope, reconciling, as it did, temporal with spiritual interests, seems to have dispelled whatever scruples yet lingered in the breasts of the legislature. There were few, probably, in that goodly company, whose zeal would have aspired to the crown of martyrdom.

The ensuing day, parliament, in obedience to the royal summons, again assembled at Whitehall. Philip took his seat on the left of Mary, under the same canopy, while Cardinal Pole sat at a greater distance on her right.[120]



The chancellor, Gardiner, then presented a petition in the name of the lords and commons, praying for reconciliation with the papal see. Absolution was solemnly pronounced by the legate, and the whole assembly received his benediction on their bended knees. England, purified from her heresy, was once more restored to the communion of the Roman Catholic Church.

Philip instantly despatched couriers, with the glad tidings, to Rome, Brussels, and other capitals of Christendom. Everywhere the event was celebrated with public rejoicings, as if it had been some great victory over the Saracens. As Philip's zeal for the faith was well known, and as the great change had taken place soon after his arrival in England, much of the credit of it was ascribed to him.[121] Thus, before ascending the throne of Spain, he had vindicated his claim to the title of Catholic, so much prized by the Spanish monarchs. He had won a triumph greater than that which his father had been able to win after years of war, over the Protestants of Germany; greater than any which had been won by the arms of Cortés or Pizarro in the New World. Their contest had been with the barbarian; the field of Philip's labors was one of the most potent and civilized countries of Europe.

The work of conversion was speedily followed by that of persecution. To what extent Philip's influence was exerted in this is not manifest. Indeed, from anything that appears, it would not be easy to decide whether his influence was employed to promote or to prevent it. One fact is certain, that, immediately after the first martyrs suffered at Smithfield, Alfonso de Castro, a Spanish friar, preached a sermon in which he bitterly inveighed against these proceedings. He denounced them as repugnant to the true spirit of Christianity, which was that of charity and forgiveness, and which enjoined its ministers not to take vengeance on the sinner, but to enlighten him as to his errors, and bring him to repentance.[122] This bold appeal had its effect, even in that season of excitement. For a few weeks the arm of persecution seemed to be palsied. But it was only for a few weeks. Toleration was not the virtue of the sixteenth century. The charitable doctrines of the good friar fell on hearts withered by fanaticism; and the spirit of intolerance soon rekindled the fires of Smithfield into a fiercer glow than before.

Yet men wondered at the source whence these strange doctrines had proceeded. The friar was Philip's confessor. It was argued that he would not have dared to speak thus boldly, had it not been by the command of Philip, or, at least, by his consent. That De Castro should have thus acted at the suggestion of his master is contradicted by the whole tenor of Philip's life. Hardly four years elapsed before he countenanced by his presence an auto da fé in Valladolid, where fourteen persons perished at the stake; and the burning of heretics in England could have done no greater violence to his feelings than the burning of heretics in Spain. If the friar did indeed act in obedience to Philip, we may well suspect that the latter was influenced less by motives of humanity than of policy; and that the disgust manifested{56} by the people at the spectacle of these executions may have led him to employ this expedient to relieve himself of any share in the odium which attached to them.[123]

What was the real amount of Philip's influence, in this or other matters, it is not possible to determine. It is clear that he was careful not to arouse the jealousy of the English by any parade of it.[124] One obvious channel of it lay in the queen, who seems to have doated on him with a fondness that one would hardly have thought a temper cold and repulsive, like that of Philip, capable of exciting. But he was young and good-looking. His manners had always been found to please the sex, even where he had not been so solicitous to please as he was in England. He was Mary's first and only love; for the emperor was too old to have touched aught but her vanity, and Courtenay was too frivolous to have excited any other than a temporary feeling. This devotion to Philip, according to some accounts, was ill requited by his gallantries. The Venetian ambassador says of him, that "he well deserved the tenderness of his wife, for he was the most loving and the best of husbands." But it seems probable that the Italian, in his estimate of the best of husbands, adopted the liberal standard of his own country.[125]


About the middle of November, parliament was advised that the queen was in a state of pregnancy. The intelligence was received with the joy usually manifested by loyal subjects on like occasions. The emperor seems to have been particularly pleased with this prospect of an heir, who, by the terms of the marriage treaty, would make a division of that great empire which it had been the object of its master's life to build up and consolidate under one sceptre. The commons, soon after, passed an act empowering Philip, in case it should go otherwise than well with the queen at the time of her confinement, to assume the regency, and take charge of the education of her child during its minority. The regency was to be limited by the provisions{57} of the marriage treaty. But the act may be deemed evidence that Philip had gained on the confidence of his new subjects.

The symptoms continued to be favorable; and, as the time approached for Mary's confinement, messengers were held in readiness to bear the tidings to the different courts. The loyal wishes of the people ran so far ahead of reality, that the rumor went abroad of the actual birth of a prince. Bells were rung, bonfires lighted; Te Deum was sung in some of the churches; and one of the preachers "took upon him to describe the proportions of the child, how fair, how beautiful and great a prince it was, as the like had not been seen!" "But for all this great labor," says the caustic chronicler, "for their yoong maister long looked for coming so surely into the world, in the end appeared neither yoong maister nor yoong maistress, that any man to this day can hear of."[126]

The queen's disorder proved to be a dropsy. But, notwithstanding the mortifying results of so many prognostics and preparations, and the ridicule which attached to it, Mary still cherished the illusion of one day giving an heir to the crown. Her husband did not share in this illusion; and, as he became convinced that she had no longer prospect of issue, he found less inducement to protract his residence in a country which, on many accounts, was most distasteful to him. Whatever show of deference might be paid to him, his haughty spirit could not be pleased by the subordinate part which he was compelled to play, in public, to the queen. The parliament had never so far acceded to Mary's wishes as to consent to his coronation as king of England. Whatever weight he may have had in the cabinet, it had not been such as to enable him to make the politics of England subservient to his own interests, or, what was the same thing, to those of his father. Parliament would not consent to swerve so far from the express provisions of the marriage treaty as to become a party in the emperor's contest with France.[127]

Nor could the restraint constantly imposed on Philip, by his desire to accommodate himself to the tastes and habits of the English, be otherwise than irksome to him. If he had been more successful in this than might have been expected, yet it was not possible to overcome the prejudices, the settled antipathy, with which the Spaniards were regarded by the great mass of the people, as was evident from the satirical shafts, which, from time to time, were launched by pamphleteers and ballad-makers, both against the king and his followers.

These latter were even more impatient than their master of their stay in a country where they met with so many subjects of annoyance. If a Spaniard bought anything, complains one of the nation, he was sure to be charged an exorbitant price for it.[128] If he had a quarrel with an Englishman, says{58} another writer, he was to be tried by English law, and was very certain to come off the worst.[129] Whether right or wrong, the Spaniards could hardly fail to find abundant cause of irritation and disgust. The two nations were too dissimilar for either of them to comprehend the other. It was with no little satisfaction, therefore, that Philip's followers learned that their master had received a summons from his father to leave England, and join him in Flanders.

The cause of this sudden movement was one that filled the Castilians, as it did all Europe, with astonishment,—the proposed abdication of Charles the Fifth. It was one that might seem to admit of neither doubt nor delay on Philip's part. But Mary, distressed by the prospect of separation, prevailed on her husband to postpone his departure for several weeks. She yielded, at length, to the necessity of the case. Preparations were made for Philip's journey, and Mary, with a heavy heart, accompanied her royal consort down the Thames to Greenwich. Here they parted; and Philip, taking an affectionate farewell, and commending the queen and her concerns to the care of Cardinal Pole, took the road to Dover.

After a short detention there by contrary winds, he crossed over to Calais, and on the fourth of September made his entry into that strong place, the last remnant of all their continental acquisitions that still belonged to the English.

Philip was received by the authorities of the city with the honors due to his rank. He passed some days there receiving the respectful courtesies of the inhabitants, and, on his departure, rejoiced the hearts of the garrison by distributing among them a thousand crowns of gold. He resumed his journey, with his splendid train of Castilian and English nobles, among whom were the earls of Arundel, Pembroke, Huntington, and others of the highest station in the realm. On the road, he was met by a military escort sent by his father; and towards the latter part of September, 1555, Philip, with his gallant retinue, made his entry into the Flemish capital, where the emperor and his court were eagerly awaiting his arrival.[130]{59}




Empire of Philip.—Paul the Fourth.—Court of France.—League against Spain.—The Duke of Alva.—Preparations for War.—Victorious Campaign.

1555, 1556.

Soon after Philip's arrival in Brussels took place that memorable scene of the abdication of Charles the Fifth, which occupies the introductory pages of our narrative. By this event, Philip saw himself master of the most widely extended and powerful monarchy in Europe. He was king of Spain, comprehending under that name Castile, Aragon, and Granada, which, after surviving as independent states for centuries, had been first brought under one sceptre in the reign of his father, Charles the Fifth. He was king of Naples and Sicily, and duke of Milan, which important possessions enabled him to control, to a great extent, the nicely balanced scales of Italian politics. He was lord of Franche Comté, and of the Low Countries, comprehending the most flourishing and populous provinces in Christendom, whose people had made the greatest progress in commerce, husbandry, and the various mechanic arts. As titular king of England, he eventually obtained an influence, which, as we shall see, enabled him to direct the counsels of that country to his own purposes. In Africa he possessed the Cape de Verd Islands and the Canaries, as well as Tunis, Oran, and some other important places on the Barbary coast. He owned the Philippines and the Spice Islands in Asia. In America, besides his possessions in the West Indies, he was master of the rich empires of Mexico and Peru, and claimed a right to a boundless extent of country, that offered an inexhaustible field to the cupidity and enterprise of the Spanish adventurer. Thus the dominions of Philip stretched over every quarter of the globe. The flag of Castile was seen in the remotest latitudes,—on the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the far-off Indian seas,—passing from port to port, and uniting by commercial intercourse the widely scattered members of her vast colonial empire.

The Spanish army consisted of the most formidable infantry in Europe; veterans who had been formed under the eye of Charles the Fifth and of his generals, who had fought on the fields of Pavia and of Muhlberg, or who, in the New World, had climbed the Andes with Almagro and Pizarro, and helped these bold chiefs to overthrow the dynasty of the Incas. The navy of Spain and Flanders combined far exceeded that of any other power in the number and size of its vessels; and if its supremacy might be contested by England on the "narrow seas," it rode the undisputed mistress of the ocean. To supply the means for maintaining this costly establishment, as well as the general machinery of government, Philip had at his command the treasures of the New World; and if the incessant enterprises of his father had drained the exchequer, it was soon replenished by the silver streams that flowed in from the inexhaustible mines of Zacatecas and Potosí.

All this vast empire, with its magnificent resources, was placed at the disposal of a single man. Philip ruled over it with an authority more absolute than that possessed by any European prince since the days of the Cæsars. The Netherlands, indeed, maintained a show of independence under the shadow of their ancient institutions. But they consented to supply the necessities of the crown by a tax larger than the revenues of America. Naples and Milan were ruled by Spanish viceroys. Viceroys, with delegated{60} powers scarcely less than those of their sovereign, presided over the American colonies, which received their laws from the parent country. In Spain itself, the authority of the nobles was gone. First assailed under Ferdinand and Isabella, it was completely broken down under Charles the Fifth. The liberties of the commons were crushed at the fatal battle of Villalar, in the beginning of that monarch's reign. Without nobles, without commons, the ancient cortes had faded into a mere legislative pageant, with hardly any other right than that of presenting petitions, and of occasionally raising an ineffectual note of remonstrance against abuses. It had lost the power to redress them. Thus all authority vested in the sovereign. His will was the law of the land. From his palace at Madrid he sent forth the edicts which became the law of Spain and of her remotest colonies. It may well be believed that foreign nations watched with interest the first movements of a prince who seemed to hold in his hands the destinies of Europe; and that they regarded with no little apprehension the growth of that colossal power which had already risen to a height that cast a shadow over every other monarchy.

From his position, Philip stood at the head of the Roman Catholic princes. He was in temporal matters what the pope was in spiritual. In the existing state of Christendom, he had the same interest as the pope in putting down that spirit of religious reform which had begun to show itself, in public or in private, in every corner of Europe. He was the natural ally of the pope. He understood this well, and would have acted on it. Yet, strange to say, his very first war, after his accession, was with the pope himself. It was a war not of Philip's seeking.


The papal throne was at that time filled by Paul the Fourth, one of those remarkable men, who, amidst the shadowy personages that have reigned in the Vatican, and been forgotten, have vindicated to themselves a permanent place in history. He was a Neapolitan by birth, of the noble family of the Caraffas. He was bred to the religious profession, and early attracted notice by his diligent application and the fruits he gathered from it. His memory was prodigious. He was not only deeply read in theological science, but skilled in various languages, ancient and modern, several of which he spoke with fluency. His rank, sustained by his scholarship, raised him speedily to high preferment in the Church. In 1513, when thirty-six years of age, he went as nuncio to England. In 1525, he resigned his benefices, and, with a small number of his noble friends, he instituted a new religious order, called the Theatins.[131] The object of the society was, to combine, to some extent, the contemplative habits of the monk with the more active duties of the secular clergy. The members visited the sick, buried the dead, and preached frequently in public, thus performing the most important functions of the priesthood.{61} For this last vocation, of public speaking, Caraffa was peculiarly qualified by a flow of natural eloquence, which, if it did not always convince, was sure to carry away the audience by its irresistible fervor.[132] The new order showed itself particularly zealous in enforcing reform in the Catholic clergy, and in stemming the tide of heresy which now threatened to inundate the Church. Caraffa and his associates were earnest to introduce the Inquisition. A life of asceticism and penance too often extinguishes sympathy with human suffering, and leads its votaries to regard the sharpest remedies as the most effectual for the cure of spiritual error.

From this austere way of life Caraffa was called, in 1536, to a situation which engaged him more directly in worldly concerns. He was made cardinal by Paul the Third. He had, as far back as the time of Ferdinand the Catholic, been one of the royal council of Naples. The family of Caraffa, however, was of the Angevine party, and regarded the house of Aragon in the light of usurpers. The cardinal had been educated in this political creed, and, even after his elevation to his new dignity, he strongly urged Paul the Third to assert the claims of the holy see to the sovereignty of Naples. This conduct, which came to the ears of Charles the Fifth, so displeased that monarch that he dismissed Caraffa from the council. Afterwards, when the cardinal was named by the pope, his unfailing patron, to the archbishopric of Naples, Charles resisted the nomination, and opposed all the obstacles in his power to the collection of the episcopal revenues. These indignities sank deep into the cardinal's mind, naturally tenacious of affronts; and what, at first, had been only a political animosity, was now sharpened into personal hatred of the most implacable character.[133]

Such was the state of feeling when, on the death of Marcellus the Second, in 1555, Cardinal Caraffa was raised to the papal throne. His election, as was natural, greatly disgusted the emperor, and caused astonishment throughout Europe; for he had not the conciliatory manners which win the favor and the suffrages of mankind. But the Catholic Church stood itself in need of a reformer, to enable it to resist the encroaching spirit of Protestantism. This was well understood not only by the highest, but by the humblest ecclesiastics; and in Caraffa they saw the man whose qualities precisely fitted him to effect such a reform. He was, moreover, at the time of his election, in his eightieth year; and age and infirmity have always proved powerful arguments with the sacred college, as affording the numerous competitors the best guaranties for a speedy vacancy. Yet it has more than once happened that the fortunate candidate, who has owed his election mainly to his infirmities, has been miraculously restored by the touch of the tiara.

Paul the Fourth—for such was the name assumed by the new pope, in gratitude to the memory of his patron—adopted a way of life, on his accession, for which his brethren of the college were not at all prepared. The austerity and self-denial of earlier days formed a strong contrast to the pomp of his present establishment and the profuse luxury of his table. When asked how he would be served, "How but as a great prince?" he answered. He usually passed three hours at his dinner, which consisted of numerous courses of the most refined and epicurean dishes. No one dined with him, though one or more of the cardinals were usually present, with whom he freely conversed; and as he accompanied his meals with large draughts of the thick, black wine of Naples, it no doubt gave additional animation to his discourse.[134] At such{62} times, his favorite theme was the Spaniards, whom he denounced as the scum of the earth, a race accursed of God, heretics and schismatics, the spawn of Jews and of Moors. He bewailed the humiliation of Italy, galled by the yoke of a nation so abject. But the day had come, he would thunder out, when Charles and Philip were to be called to a reckoning for their ill-gotten possessions, and be driven from the land![135]

Yet Paul did not waste all his hours in this idle vaporing, nor in the pleasures of the table. He showed the same activity as ever in the labors of the closet, and in attention to business. He was irregular in his hours, sometimes prolonging his studies through the greater part of the night, and at others rising long before the dawn. When thus engaged, it would not have been well for any one of his household to venture into his presence, without a summons.

Paul seemed to be always in a state of nervous tension. "He is all nerve," the Venetian minister, Navagero, writes of him; "and when he walks, it is with a free, elastic step, as if he hardly touched the ground."[136] His natural arrogance, was greatly increased by his elevation to the first dignity in Christendom. He had always entertained the highest ideas of the authority of the sacerdotal office; and now that he was in the chair of St. Peter, he seemed to have entire confidence in his own infallibility. He looked on the princes of Europe, not so much as his sons—the language of the Church—as his servants, bound to do his bidding. Paul's way of thinking would have better suited the twelfth century than the sixteenth. He came into the world at least three centuries too late. In all his acts he relied solely on himself. He was impatient of counsel from any one, and woe to the man who ventured to oppose any remonstrance, still more any impediment to the execution of his plans. He had no misgivings as to the wisdom of these plans. An idea that had once taken possession of his mind lay there, to borrow a cant phrase of the day, like "a fixed fact,"—not to be disturbed by argument or persuasion. We occasionally meet with such characters, in which strength of will and unconquerable energy in action pass for genius with the world. They, in fact, serve as the best substitute for genius, by the ascendancy which such qualities secure their possessors over ordinary minds. Yet there were ways of approaching the pontiff, for those who understood his character, and who, by condescending to flatter his humors, could turn them to their own account. Such was the policy pursued by some of Paul's kindred, who, cheered by his patronage, now came forth from their obscurity to glitter in the rays of the meridian sun.{63}


Paul had all his life declaimed against nepotism as an opprobrious sin in the head of the Church. Yet no sooner did he put on the tiara than he gave a glaring example of the sin he had denounced, in the favors which he lavished on three of his own nephews. This was the more remarkable, as they were men whose way of life had given scandal even to the Italians, not used to be too scrupulous in their judgments.

The eldest, who represented the family, he raised to the rank of duke, providing him with an ample fortune from the confiscated property of the Colonnas,—which illustrious house was bitterly persecuted by Paul, for its attachment to the Spanish interests.

Another of his nephews he made a cardinal,—a dignity for which he was indifferently qualified by his former profession, which was that of a soldier, and still less fitted by his life, which was that of a libertine. He was a person of a busy, intriguing disposition, and stimulated his uncle's vindictive feelings against the Spaniards, whom he himself hated, for some affront which he conceived had been put upon him while in the emperor's service.[137]

But Paul needed no prompter in this matter. He very soon showed that, instead of ecclesiastical reform, he was bent on a project much nearer to his heart,—the subversion of the Spanish power in Naples. Like Julius the Second, of warlike memory, he swore to drive out the barbarians from Italy. He seemed to think that the thunders of the Vatican were more than a match for all the strength of the empire and of Spain. But he was not weak enough to rely wholly on his spiritual artillery in such a contest. Through the French ambassador at his court, he opened negotiations with France, and entered into a secret treaty with that power, by which each of the parties agreed to furnish a certain contingent of men and money to carry on the war for the recovery of Naples. The treaty was executed on the sixteenth of December, 1555.[138]

In less than two months after this event, on the fifth of February, 1556, the fickle monarch of France, seduced by the advantageous offers of Charles, backed, moreover, by the ruinous state of his own finances, deserted his new ally, and signed the treaty of Vaucelles, which secured a truce for five years between his dominions and those of Philip.

Paul received the news of this treaty while surrounded by his courtiers. He treated the whole with scepticism, but expressed the pious hope, that such a peace might be in store for the nations of Christendom. In private he was not so temperate. But without expending his wrath in empty menaces, he took effectual means to bring things back to their former state,—to induce the French king to renew the treaty with himself, and at once to begin hostilities. He knew the vacillating temper of the monarch he had to deal with. Cardinal Caraffa was accordingly despatched on a mission to Paris, fortified with ample powers for the arrangement of a new treaty, and with such tempting promises on the part of his holiness as might insure its acceptance by the monarch and his ministers.

The French monarchy was, at that time, under the sceptre of Henry the Second, the son of Francis the First, to whose character his own bore no resemblance;{64} or rather the resemblance consisted in those showy qualities which lie too near the surface to enter into what may be called character. He affected a chivalrous vein, excelled in the exercises of the tourney, and indulged in vague aspirations after military renown. In short, he fancied himself a hero, and seems to have imposed on some of his own courtiers so far as to persuade them that he was designed for one. But he had few of the qualities which enter into the character of a hero. He was as far from being a hero as he was from being a good Christian, though he thought to prove his orthodoxy by persecuting the Protestants, who were now rising into a formidable sect in the southern parts of his kingdom. He had little reliance on his own resources, leading a life of easy indulgence, and trusting the direction of his affairs to his favorites and his mistresses.

The most celebrated of these was Diana of Poictiers, created by Henry duchess of Valentinois, who preserved her personal charms and her influence over her royal lover to a much later period than usually happens. The persons of his court in whom the king most confided were the Constable Montmorency and the duke of Guise.

Anne de Montmorency, constable of France, was one of the proudest of the French nobility,—proud alike of his great name, his rank, and his authority with his sovereign. He had grown gray in the service of the court, and Henry, accustomed to his society from boyhood, had learned to lean on him for the execution of his measures. Yet his judgments, though confidently given, were not always sound. His views were far from being enlarged; and though full of courage, he showed little capacity for military affairs. A consciousness of this, perhaps, may have led him to recommend a pacific policy, suited to his own genius. He was a stanch Catholic, extremely punctilious in all the ceremonies of devotion, and, if we may credit Brantôme, would strangely mingle together the military and the religious. He repeated his Pater-Noster at certain fixed hours, whatever might be his occupation at the time. He would occasionally break off to give his orders, calling out, "Cut me down such a man!" "Hang up another!" "Run those fellows through with your lances!" "Set fire to that village!"—and so on; when, having thus relieved the military part of his conscience, he would go on with his Pater-Nosters as before.[139]

A very different character was that of his younger rival, Francis, duke of Guise, uncle to Mary, queen of Scots, and brother to the regent. Of a bold, aspiring temper, filled with the love of glory, brilliant and popular in his address, he charmed the people by his manners and the splendor of his equipage and dress. He came to court, attended usually by three or four hundred cavaliers, who formed themselves on Guise as their model. His fine person was set off by the showy costume of the time,—a crimson doublet and cloak of spotless ermine, and a cap ornamented with a scarlet plume. In this dress he might often be seen, mounted on his splendid charger and followed by a gay retinue of gentlemen, riding at full gallop through the streets of Paris, and attracting the admiration of the people.


But his character was not altogether made up of such vanities. He was sagacious in counsel, and had proved himself the best captain of France. It{65} was he who commanded at the memorable siege of Metz, and foiled the efforts of the imperial forces under Charles and the duke of Alva. Caraffa found little difficulty in winning him over to his cause, as he opened to the ambitious chief the brilliant perspective of the conquest of Naples. The arguments of the wily Italian were supported by the duchess of Valentinois. It was in vain that the veteran Montmorency reminded the king of the ruinous state of the finances, which had driven him to the shameful expedient of putting up public offices to sale. The other party represented that the condition of Spain, after her long struggle, was little better; that the reins of government had now been transferred from the wise Charles to the hands of his inexperienced son; and that the coöperation of Rome afforded a favorable conjunction of circumstances, not to be neglected. Henry was further allured by Caraffa's assurance that his uncle would grant to the French monarch the investiture of Naples for one of his younger sons, and bestow Milan on another. The offer was too tempting to be resisted.

One objection occurred, in certain conscientious scruples as to the violation of the recent treaty of Vaucelles. But for this the pope, who had anticipated the objection, readily promised absolution. As the king also intimated some distrust lest the successor of Paul, whose advanced age made his life precarious, might not be inclined to carry out the treaty, Caraffa was authorized to assure him that this danger should be obviated by the creation of a batch of French cardinals, or of cardinals in the French interest.

All the difficulties being thus happily disposed of, the treaty was executed in the month of July, 1556. The parties agreed each to furnish about twelve thousand infantry, five hundred men-at-arms, and the same number of light horse. France was to contribute three hundred and fifty thousand ducats to the expenses of the war, and Rome one hundred and fifty thousand. The French troops were to be supplied with provisions by the pope, for which they were to reimburse his holiness. It was moreover agreed, that the crown of Naples should be settled on a younger son of Henry, that a considerable tract on the northern frontier should be transferred to the papal territory, and that ample estates should be provided from the new conquests for the three nephews of his holiness. In short, the system of partition was as nicely adjusted as if the quarry were actually in their possession, ready to be cut up and divided among the parties.[140]

Finally, it was arranged that Henry should invite the Sultan Solyman to renew his former alliance with France, and make a descent with his galleys on the coast of Calabria. Thus did his most Christian majesty, with the pope for one of his allies and the Grand Turk for the other, prepare to make war on the most Catholic prince in Christendom![141]

Meanwhile, Paul the Fourth, elated by the prospect of a successful negotiation, threw off the little decency he had hitherto preserved in his deportment. He launched out into invectives more bitter than ever against Philip, and in a tone of defiance told such of the Spanish cardinals as were present that they might repeat his sayings to their master. He talked of instituting a legal process against the king for the recovery of Naples, which he had forfeited by omitting to pay the yearly tribute to the holy see. The pretext was ill-founded, as the pope well knew. But the process went on with suitable gravity, and a sentence of forfeiture was ultimately pronounced against the Spanish monarch.{66}

With these impotent insults, Paul employed more effectual means of annoyance. He persecuted all who showed any leaning to the Spanish interest. He set about repairing the walls of Rome, and strengthening the garrisons on the frontier. His movements raised great alarm among the Romans, who had too vivid a recollection of their last war with Spain, under Clement the Seventh, to wish for another. Garcilasso de la Vega, who had represented Philip, during his father's reign, at the papal court, wrote a full account of these doings to the viceroy of Naples. Garcilasso was instantly thrown into prison. Taxis, the Spanish director of the posts, was both thrown into prison and put to the torture. Saria, the imperial ambassador, after in vain remonstrating against these outrages, waited on the pope to demand his passport, and was kept standing a full hour at the gate of the Vatican, before he was admitted.[142]

Philip had full intelligence of all these proceedings. He had long since descried the dark storm that was mustering beyond the Alps. He had provided for it at the close of the preceding year, by committing the government of Naples to the man most competent to such a crisis. This was the duke of Alva, at that time governor of Milan, and commander-in-chief of the army in Italy. As this remarkable person is to occupy a large space in the subsequent pages of this narrative, it may be well to give some account of his earlier life.

Fernando Alvarez de Toledo was descended from an illustrious house in Castile, whose name is associated with some of the most memorable events in the national history. He was born in 1508, and while a child had the misfortune to lose his father, who perished in Africa, at the siege of Gelves. The care of the orphan devolved on his grandfather, the celebrated conqueror of Navarre. Under this veteran teacher the young Fernando received his first lessons in war, being present at more than one skirmish when quite a boy. This seems to have sharpened his appetite for a soldier's life, for we find him at the age of sixteen, secretly leaving his home and taking service under the banner of the Constable Velasco, at the siege of Fontarabia. He was subsequently made governor of that place. In 1527, when not twenty years of age, he came, by his grandfather's death, into possession of the titles and large patrimonial estates of the house of Toledo.

The capacity which he displayed, as well as his high rank, soon made him an object of attention; and as Philip grew in years, the duke of Alva was placed near his person, formed one of his council, and took part in the regency of Castile. He accompanied Philip on his journeys from Spain, and, as we have seen, made one of his retinue both in Flanders and in England. The duke was of too haughty and imperious a temper to condescend to those arts which are thought to open the most ready avenues to the favor of the sovereign. He met with rivals of a finer policy and more accommodating disposition. Yet Philip perfectly comprehended his character. He knew the strength of his understanding, and did full justice to his loyalty; and he showed his confidence in his integrity by placing him in offices of the highest responsibility.


The emperor, with his usual insight into character, had early discerned the military talents of the young nobleman. He took Alva along with him on his campaigns in Germany, where from a subordinate station he rapidly rose to the first command in the army. Such was his position at the unfortunate{67} siege of Metz, where the Spanish infantry had nearly been sacrificed to the obstinacy of Charles.

In his military career the duke displayed some of the qualities most characteristic of his countrymen. But they were those qualities which belong to a riper period of life. He showed little of that romantic and adventurous spirit of the Spanish cavalier, which seemed to court peril for its own sake, and would hazard all on a single cast. Caution was his prominent trait, in which he was a match for any graybeard in the army;—a caution carried to such a length as sometimes to put a curb on the enterprising spirit of the emperor. Men were amazed to see so old a head on so young shoulders.

Yet this caution was attended by a courage which dangers could not daunt, and by a constancy which toil, however severe, could not tire. He preferred the surest, even though the slowest, means to attain his object. He was not ambitious of effect; he never sought to startle by a brilliant coup-de-main. He would not have compromised a single chance in his own favor by appealing to the issue of a battle. He looked steadily to the end, and he moved surely towards it by a system of operations planned with the nicest forecast. The result of these operations was almost always success. Few great commanders have been more uniformly successful in their campaigns. Yet it was rare that these campaigns were marked by what is so dazzling to the imagination of the young aspirant for glory,—a great and decisive victory.—Such were some of the more obvious traits in the military character of the chief to whom Philip, at this crisis, confided the post of viceroy of Naples.[143]

Before commencing hostilities against the Church, the Spanish monarch determined to ease his conscience, by obtaining, if possible, a warrant for his proceedings from the Church itself. He assembled a body composed of theologians from Salamanca, Alcalá, Valladolid, and some other places, and of jurists from his several councils, to resolve certain queries which he propounded. Among the rest, he inquired whether, in case of a defensive war with the pope, it would not be lawful to sequestrate the revenues of those persons, natives or foreigners, who had benefices in Spain, but who refused obedience to the orders of its sovereign;—whether he might not lay an embargo on all revenues of the Church, and prohibit any remittance of moneys to Rome;—whether a council might not be convoked to determine the validity{68} of Paul's election, which, in some particulars, was supposed to have been irregular;—whether inquiry might not be made into the gross abuses of ecclesiastical patronage by the Roman see, and effectual measures taken to redress them. The suggestion of an ecclesiastical council was a menace that grated unpleasantly on the pontifical ear, and was used by European princes as a sort of counterblast to the threat of excommunication. The particular objects for which this council was to be summoned were not of a kind to soothe the irritable nerves of his holiness. The conclave of theologians and jurists made as favorable responses as the king had anticipated to his several interrogatories; and Philip, under so respectable a sanction, sent orders to his viceroy to take effectual measures for the protection of Naples.[144]

Alva had not waited for these orders, but had busily employed himself in mustering his resources, and in collecting troops from the Abruzzi and other parts of his territory. As hostilities were inevitable, he determined to strike the first blow, and carry the war into the enemy's country, before he had time to cross the Neapolitan frontier. Like his master, however, the duke was willing to release himself, as far as possible, from personal responsibility before taking up arms against the head of the Church. He accordingly addressed a manifesto to the pope and the cardinals, setting forth in glowing terms the manifold grievances of his sovereign; the opprobrious and insulting language of Paul; the indignities offered to Philip's agents, and to the imperial ambassador; the process instituted for depriving his master of Naples; and, lastly, the warlike demonstrations of the pope along the frontier, which left no doubt as to his designs. He conjured his holiness to pause before he plunged his country into war. As the head of the Church, it was his duty to preserve peace, not to bring war into Christendom. He painted the inevitable evils of war, and the ruin and devastation which it must bring on the fair fields of Italy. If this were done, it would be the pope's doing, and his would be the responsibility. On the part of Naples, the war would be a war of defence. For himself, he had no alternative. He was placed there to maintain the possessions of his sovereign; and, by the blessing of God, he would maintain them to the last drop of his blood.[145]

Alva, while making this appeal to the pope, invoked the good offices of the Venetian government in bringing about a reconciliation between Philip and the Vatican. His spirited manifesto to the pope was intrusted to a special messenger, a person of some consideration in Naples. The only reply which the hot-headed pontiff made to it was to throw the envoy into prison, and, as some state, to put him to the torture.

Meanwhile, Alva, who had not placed much reliance on the success of his appeal, had mustered a force, amounting in all to twelve thousand infantry,{69} fifteen hundred horse, and a train of twelve pieces of artillery. His infantry was chiefly made up of Neapolitans, some of whom had seen but little service. The strength of his army lay in his Spanish veterans, forming one third of his force. The place of rendezvous was San Germano, a town on the northern frontier of the kingdom. On the first of September, 1556, Alva, attended by a gallant band of cavaliers, left the capital, and on the fourth arrived at the place appointed. The following day he crossed the borders at the head of his troops, and marched on Pontecorvo. He met with no resistance from the inhabitants, who at once threw open their gates to him. Several other places followed the example of Pontecorvo; and Alva, taking possession of them, caused a scutcheon displaying the arms of the sacred college to be hung up in the principal church of each town, with a placard announcing that he held it only for the college, until the election of a new pontiff. By this act he proclaimed to the Christian world that the object of the war, as far as Spain was concerned, was not conquest, but defence. Some historians find in it a deeper policy,—that of exciting feelings of distrust between the pope and the cardinals.[146]

Anagni, a place of some strength, refused the duke's summons to surrender. He was detained three days before his guns had opened a practicable breach in the walls. He then ordered an assault. The town was stormed and delivered up to sack,—by which phrase is to be understood the perpetration of all those outrages which the ruthless code of war allowed, in that age, on the persons and property of the defenceless inhabitants, without regard to sex or age.[147]

One or two other places which made resistance shared the fate of Anagni; and the duke of Alva, having garrisoned his new conquests with such forces as he could spare, led his victorious legions against Tivoli,—a town strongly situated on elevated ground, commanding the eastern approaches to the capital. The place surrendered without attempting a defence; and Alva, willing to give his men some repose, made Tivoli his head-quarters; while his army spread over the suburbs and adjacent country, which afforded good forage for his cavalry.

The rapid succession of these events, the fall of town after town, and, above all, the dismal fate of Anagni, filled the people of Rome with terror. The women began to hurry out of the city; many of the men would have followed but for the interference of Cardinal Caraffa. The panic was as great as if the enemy had been already at the gates of the capital. Amidst this general consternation, Paul seemed to be almost the only person who retained his self-possession. Navagero, the Venetian minister, was present when he received tidings of the storming of Anagni, and bears witness to the composure with which he went through the official business of the morning, as if nothing had happened.[148] This was in public; but the shock was sufficiently strong to strike out some sparkles of his fiery temper, as those found who met him that day in private. To the Venetian agent who had come to Rome{70} to mediate a peace, and who had pressed him to enter into some terms of accommodation with the Spaniards, he haughtily replied, that Alva must first recross the frontier, and then, if he had aught to solicit, prefer his petition like a dutiful son of the Church. This course was not one very likely to be adopted by the victorious general[149]

In an interview with two French gentlemen, who, as he had reason to suppose, were interesting themselves in the affair of a peace, he exclaimed: "Whoever would bring me into a peace with heretics is a servant of the Devil. Heaven will take vengeance on him. I will pray that God's curse may fall on him. If I find that you intermeddle in any such matter, I will cut your heads off your shoulders. Do not think this an empty threat. I have an eye in my back on you,"—quoting an Italian proverb,—"and if I find you playing me false, or attempting to entangle me a second time in an accursed truce, I swear to you by the eternal God, I will make your heads fly from your shoulders, come what may come of it!" "In this way," concludes the narrator, one of the parties, "his holiness continued for nearly an hour, walking up and down the apartment, and talking all the while of his own grievances and of cutting off our heads, until he had talked himself quite out of breath."[150]

But the valor of the pope did not expend itself in words. He instantly set about putting the capital in the best state of defence. He taxed the people to raise funds for his troops, drew in the garrisons from the neighboring places, formed a body-guard of six or seven hundred horse, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing his Roman levies, amounting to six thousand infantry, well equipped for the war. They made a brave show, with their handsome uniforms and their banners richly emblazoned with the pontifical arms. As they passed in review before his holiness, who stood at one of the windows of his palace, he gave them his benediction. But the edge of the Roman sword, according to an old proverb, was apt to be blunt; and these holiday troops were soon found to be no match for the hardy veterans of Spain.

Among the soldiers at the pope's disposal was a body of German mercenaries, who followed war as a trade, and let themselves out to the highest bidder. They were Lutherans, with little knowledge of the Roman Catholic religion, and less respect for it. They stared at its rites as mummeries, and made a jest of its most solemn ceremonies, directly under the eyes of the pope. But Paul, who at other times would have punished offences like these with the gibbet and the stake, could not quarrel with his defenders, and was obliged to digest his mortification as he best might. It was remarked that the times were sadly out of joint, when the head of the Church had heretics for his allies and Catholics for his enemies.[151]

Meanwhile the duke of Alva was lying at Tivoli. If he had taken advantage of the panic caused by his successes, he might, it was thought, without much difficulty, have made himself master of the capital. But this did not suit his policy, which was rather to bring the pope to terms than to ruin him. He was desirous to reduce the city by cutting off its supplies. The possession of Tivoli, as already noticed, enabled him to command the eastern approaches to Rome, and he now proposed to make himself master of Ostia and thus destroy the communications with the coast.{71}


Accordingly, drawing together his forces, he quitted Tivoli, and directed his march across the Campagna, south of the Roman capital. On his way he made himself master of some places belonging to the holy see, and in the early part of November arrived before Ostia, and took up a position on the banks of the Tiber, where it spread into two branches, the northern one of which was called the Fiumicino, or little river. The town, or rather village, consisted of only a few straggling houses, very different from the proud Ostia, whose capacious harbor was once filled with the commerce of the world. It was protected by a citadel of some strength, garrisoned by a small but picked body of troops, so indifferently provided with military stores, that it was clear the government had not anticipated an attack in this quarter.

The duke ordered a number of boats to be sent round from Nettuno, a place on the coast, of which he had got possession. By means of these he formed a bridge, over which he passed a small detachment of his army, together with his battering train of artillery. The hamlet was easily taken, but, as the citadel refused to surrender, Alva laid regular siege to it. He constructed two batteries, on which he planted his heavy guns, commanding opposite quarters of the fortress. He then opened a lively cannonade on the outworks, which was returned with great spirit by the garrison.

Meanwhile he detached a considerable body of horse, under Colonna, who swept the country to the very walls of Rome. A squadron of cavalry, whose gallant bearing had filled the heart of the old pope with exultation, sallied out against the marauders. An encounter took place not far from the city. The Romans bore themselves up bravely to the shock; but, after splintering their lances, they wheeled about, and, without striking another blow, abandoned the field to the enemy, who followed them up to the gates of the capital. They were so roughly handled in their flight, that the valiant troopers could not be induced again to leave their walls, although Cardinal Caraffa—who had a narrow escape from the enemy—sallied out with a handful of his followers, to give them confidence.[152]

During this time Alva was vigorously pressing the siege of Ostia; but though more than a week had elapsed, the besieged showed no disposition to surrender. At length, the Spanish commander, on the seventeenth of November, finding his ammunition nearly expended and his army short of provisions, determined on a general assault. Early on the following morning, after hearing mass as usual, the duke mounted his horse, and, riding among the ranks to animate the spirits of his soldiers, gave orders for the attack. A corps of Italians was first detached, to scale the works; but they were repulsed with considerable loss. It was found impossible for their officers to rally them, and bring them back to the assault. A picked body of Spanish infantry was then despatched on this dangerous service. With incredible difficulty they succeeded in scaling the ramparts, under a storm of combustibles and other missiles hurled down by the garrison, and effected an entrance into the place. But here they were met with a courage as dauntless as their own. The struggle was long and desperate. There had been no such fighting in the course of the campaign. At length, the duke, made aware of the severe loss sustained by his men, and of the impracticability of the attempt, as darkness was setting in, gave the signal for retreat. The assailants had doubtless the worst of it in the conflict; but the besieged, worn out with fatigue, with their ammunition nearly exhausted, and almost without food, did not feel themselves in condition to sustain another assault on the following day. On the nineteenth of November, therefore, the morning after the{72} conflict, the brave garrison capitulated, and were treated with honor as prisoners of war.[153]

The fate of the campaign seemed now to be decided. The pope, with, his principal towns in the hands of the enemy, his communications cut off both with the country and the coast, may well have felt his inability to contend thus single-handed against the power of Spain. At all events, his subjects felt it, and they were not deterred by his arrogant bearing from clamoring loudly against the continuance of this ruinous war. But Paul would not hear of a peace. However crippled by his late reverses, he felt confident of repairing them all on the arrival of the French, who, as he now learned with joy, were in full march across the territory of Milan. He was not so disinclined to a truce, which might give time for their coming.

Cardinal Caraffa, accordingly, had a conference with the duke of Alva, and entered into negotiations with him for a suspension of arms. The proposal was not unwelcome to the duke, who, weakened by losses of every kind, was by no means in condition at the end of an active campaign to contend with a fresh army under the command of so practised a leader as the duke of Guise. He did not care to expose himself a second time to an encounter with the French general, under disadvantages nearly as great as those which had foiled him at Metz.

With these amiable dispositions, a truce was soon arranged between the parties, to continue forty days. The terms were honorable to Alva, since they left him in possession of all his conquests. Having completed these arrangements, the Spanish commander broke up his camp on the southern bank of the Tiber, recrossed the frontier, and in a few days made his triumphant entry, at the head of his battalions, into the city of Naples.[154]

So ended the first campaign of the war with Rome. It had given a severe lesson, that might have shaken the confidence and humbled the pride of a pontiff less arrogant than Paul the Fourth. But it served only to deepen his hatred of the Spaniards, and to stimulate his desire for vengeance.{73}




Guise enters Italy.—Operations in the Abruzzi.—Siege of Civitella.—Alva drives out the French.—Rome menaced by the Spaniards.—Paul consents to Peace.—Paul's subsequent Career.


While the events recorded in the preceding pages were passing in Italy, the French army, under the duke of Guise, had arrived on the borders of Piedmont. That commander, on leaving Paris, found himself at the head of a force consisting of twelve thousand infantry, of which five thousand were Swiss, and the rest French, including a considerable number of Gascons. His cavalry amounted to two thousand, and he was provided with twelve pieces of artillery. In addition to this, Guise was attended by a gallant body of French gentlemen, young for the most part, and eager to win laurels under the renowned defender of Metz.

The French army met with no opposition in its passage through Piedmont. The king of Spain had ordered the government of Milan to strengthen the garrisons of the fortresses, but to oppose no resistance to the French, unless the latter began hostilities.[155] Some of the duke's counsellors would have persuaded him to do so. His father-in-law, the duke of Ferrara, in particular, who had brought him a reinforcement of six thousand troops, strongly pressed the French general to make sure of the Milanese before penetrating to the south; otherwise he would leave a dangerous enemy in his rear. The Italian urged, moreover, the importance of such a step in giving confidence to the Angevine faction in Naples, and in drawing over to France those states which hesitated as to their policy, or which had but lately consented to an alliance with Spain.

France, at this time, exercised but little influence in the counsels of the Italian powers. Genoa, after an ineffectual attempt at revolution, was devoted to Spain. The coöperation of Cosmo de'Medici, then lord of Tuscany, had been secured by the cession of Sienna. The duke of Parma, who had coquetted for some time with the French monarch, was won over to Spain by the restoration of Placentia, of which he had been despoiled by Charles the Fifth. His young son, Alexander Farnese, was sent as a hostage, to be educated under Philip's eye, at the court of Madrid,—the fruits of which training were to be gathered in the war of the Netherlands, where he proved himself the most consummate captain of his time. Venice, from her lonely watch-tower on the Adriatic, regarded at a distance the political changes of Italy, prepared to profit by any chances in her own favor. Her conservative policy, however, prompted her to maintain things as far as possible in their present position. She was most desirous that the existing equilibrium should not be disturbed by the introduction of any new power on the theatre of Italy; and she had readily acquiesced in the invitation of the duke of Alva, to mediate an accommodation between the contending parties. This pacific temper found little encouragement from the belligerent pontiff who had brought the war upon Italy.

The advice of the duke of Ferrara, however judicious in itself, was not relished by his son-in-law, the duke of Guise, who was anxious to press forward{74} to Naples as the proper scene of his conquests. The pope, too, called on him, in the most peremptory terms, to hasten his march, as Naples was the object of the expedition. The French commander had the address to obtain instructions to the same effect from his own court, by which he affected to be decided. His Italian father-in-law was so much disgusted by this determination, that he instantly quitted the camp, and drew off his six thousand soldiers, declaring that he needed all he could muster to protect his own states against the troops of Milan.[156]

Thus shorn of his Italian reinforcement, the duke of Guise resumed his march, and, entering the States of the Church, followed down the shores of the Adriatic, passing through Ravenna and Rimini; then, striking into the interior, he halted at Gesi, where he found good accommodations for his men and abundant forage for the horses.

Leaving his army in their pleasant quarters, he soon after repaired to Rome, in order to arrange with the pope the plan of the campaign. He was graciously received by Paul, who treated him with distinguished honor as the loyal champion of the Church. Emboldened by the presence of the French army in his dominions, the pope no longer hesitated to proclaim the renewal of the war against Spain. The Roman levies, scattered over the Campagna, assaulted the places but feebly garrisoned by the Spaniards. Most of them, including Tivoli and Ostia, were retaken; and the haughty bosom of the pontiff swelled with exultation as he anticipated the speedy extinction of the Spanish rule in Italy.

After some days consumed in the Vatican, Guise rejoined his army at Gesi. He was fortified by abundant assurances of aid from his holiness, and he was soon joined by one of Paul's nephews, the duke of Montebello, with a slender reinforcement. It was determined to cross the Neapolitan frontier at once, and to begin operations by the siege of Campli.

This was a considerable place, situated in the midst of a fruitful territory. The native population had been greatly increased by the influx of people from the surrounding country, who had taken refuge in Campli as a place of security. But they did little for its defence. It did not long resist the impetuosity of the French, who carried the town by storm. The men—all who made resistance—were put to the sword. The women were abandoned to the licentious soldiery. The houses, first pillaged, were then fired; and the once flourishing place was soon converted into a heap of smouldering ruins. The booty was great, for the people of the neighborhood had brought their effects thither for safety, and a large amount of gold and silver was found in the dwellings. The cellars, too, were filled with delicate wines; and the victors abandoned themselves to feasting and wassail, while the wretched citizens wandered like spectres amidst the ruins of their ancient habitations.[157]


The fate of Italy, in the sixteenth century, was hard indeed. She had advanced far beyond the age in most of the arts which belong to a civilized community. Her cities, even her smaller towns, throughout the country, displayed the evidences of architectural taste. They were filled with stately temples and elegant mansions; the squares were ornamented with fountains of elaborate workmanship; the rivers were spanned by arches of solid masonry. The private as well as public edifices were furnished with costly works of art, of which the value was less in the material than in the execution. A generation had scarcely passed since Michael Angelo and Raphael{75} had produced their miracles of sculpture and of painting; and now Correggio, Paul Veronese, and Titian were filling their country with those immortal productions which have been the delight and the despair of succeeding ages. Letters kept pace with art. The magical strains of Ariosto had scarcely died away when a greater bard had arisen in Tasso, to take up the tale of Christian chivalry. This extraordinary combination of elegant art and literary culture was the more remarkable, from the contrast presented by the condition of the rest of Europe, then first rising into the light of a higher civilization. But, with all this intellectual progress, Italy was sadly deficient in some qualities found among the hardier sons of the north, and which seem indispensable to a national existence. She could boast of her artists, her poets, her politicians; but of few real patriots, few who rested their own hopes on the independence of their country. The freedom of the old Italian republics had passed away. There was scarcely one that had not surrendered its liberties to a master. The principle of union for defence against foreign aggression was as little understood as the principle of political liberty at home. The states were jealous of one another. The cities were jealous of one another, and were often torn by factions within themselves. Thus their individual strength was alike ineffectual, whether for self-government or self-defence. The gift of beauty which Italy possessed in so extraordinary a degree only made her a more tempting prize to the spoiler, whom she had not the strength or the courage to resist. The Turkish corsair fell upon her coasts, plundered her maritime towns, and swept off their inhabitants into slavery. The Europeans, scarcely less barbarous, crossed the Alps, and, striking into the interior, fell upon the towns and hamlets that lay sheltered among the hills and in the quiet valleys, and converted them into heaps of ruins. Ill fares it with the land which, in an age of violence, has given itself up to the study of the graceful and the beautiful, to the neglect of those hardy virtues which can alone secure a nation's independence.

From the smoking ruins of Campli, Guise led his troops against Civitella, a town but a few miles distant. It was built round a conical hill, the top of which was crowned by a fortress well lined with artillery. It was an important place for the command of the frontier, and the duke of Alva had thrown into it a garrison of twelve hundred men under the direction of an experienced officer, the marquis of Santa Fiore. The French general considered that the capture of this post, so soon following the sack of Campli, would spread terror among the Neapolitans, and encourage those of the Angevine faction to declare openly in his favor.

As the place refused to surrender, he prepared to besiege it in form, throwing up intrenchments, and only waiting for his heavy guns to begin active hostilities. He impatiently expected their arrival for some days, when he caused four batteries to be erected, to operate simultaneously against four quarters of the town. After a brisk cannonade, which was returned by the besieged with equal spirit, and with still greater loss to the enemy, from his exposed position, the duke, who had opened a breach in the works, prepared for a general assault. It was conducted with the usual impetuosity of the French, but was repulsed with courage by the Italians. More than once the assailants were brought up to the breach, and as often driven back with slaughter. The duke, convinced that he had been too precipitate, was obliged to sound a retreat, and again renewed the cannonade from his batteries, keeping it up night and day, though, from the vertical direction of the fire, with comparatively little effect. The French camp offered a surer mark to the guns of Civitella.

The women of the place displayed an intrepidity equal to that of the men. Armed with buckler and cuirass, they might be seen by the side of their husbands and brothers, in the most exposed situations on the ramparts; and, as{76} one was shot down, another stepped forward to take the place of her fallen comrade.[158] The fate of Campli had taught them to expect no mercy from the victor, and they preferred death to dishonor.

As day after day passed on in the same monotonous manner, Guise's troops became weary of their inactive life. The mercurial spirits of the French soldier, which overleaped every obstacle in his path, were often found to evaporate in the tedium of protracted operations, where there was neither incident nor excitement. Such a state of things was better suited to the patient and persevering Spaniard. The men began openly to murmur against the pope, whom they regarded as the cause of their troubles. They were led by priests, they said, "who knew much more of praying than of fighting."[159]

Guise himself had causes of disgust with the pontiff which he did not care to conceal. For all the splendid promises of his holiness, he had received few supplies either of men, ammunition, or money; and of the Angevine lords not one had ventured to declare in his favor or to take service under his banner. He urged all this with much warmth on the pope's nephew, the duke of Montebello. The Italian, recriminated as warmly, till the dialogue was abruptly ended, it is said, by the duke of Guise throwing a napkin, or, according to some accounts, a dish, at the head of his ally.[160] However this may be, Montebello left the camp in disgust and returned to Rome. But the defender of the Church was too important a person to quarrel with, and Paul deemed it prudent, for the present, at least, to stifle his resentment.

Meanwhile heavy rains set in, causing great annoyance to the French troops in their quarters, spoiling their provisions, and doing great damage to their powder. The same rain did good service to the besieged, by filling their cisterns. "God," exclaimed the profane Guise, "must have turned Spaniard."[161]

While these events were taking place in the north of Naples, the duke of Alva, in the south, was making active preparations for the defence of the kingdom. He had seen with satisfaction the time consumed by his antagonist, first at Gesi, and afterwards at the siege of Civitella; and he had fully profited by the delay. On reaching the city of Naples, he had summoned a parliament of the great barons, had clearly exposed the necessities of the state, and demanded an extraordinary loan of two millions of ducats. The loyal nobles readily responded to the call; but as not more than one third of the whole amount could be instantly raised, an order was obtained from the council, requiring the governors of the several provinces to invite the great ecclesiastics in their districts to advance the remaining two thirds of the loan. In case they did not consent with a good grace, they were to be forced to comply by the seizure of their revenues.[162]

By another decree of the council, the gold and silver plate belonging to the monasteries and churches, throughout the kingdom, after being valued, was to be taken for the use of the government. A quantity of it, belonging to a city in the Abruzzi, was in fact put up to be sent to Naples; but it caused such a tumult among the people, that it was found expedient to suspend proceedings in the matter for the present.


The viceroy still further enlarged his resources by the sequestration of the revenues belonging to such ecclesiastics as resided in Rome. By these various expedients the duke of Alva found himself in possession of sufficient funds,{77} for carrying on the war as he desired. He mustered a force of twenty-two, or, as some accounts state, twenty-five thousand men. Of these three thousand only were Spanish veterans, five thousand were Germans, and the remainder Italians, chiefly from the Abruzzi,—for the most part raw recruits, on whom little reliance was to be placed. He had besides seven hundred men-at-arms and fifteen hundred light horse. His army, therefore, though, as far as the Italians were concerned, inferior in discipline to that of his antagonist, was greatly superior in numbers.[163]

In a council of war that was called, some were of opinion that the viceroy should act on the defensive, and await the approach of the enemy in the neighborhood of the capital. But Alva looked on this as a timid course, arguing distrust in himself, and likely to infuse distrust into his followers. He determined to march at once against the enemy, and prevent his gaining a permanent foothold in the kingdom.

Pescara, on the Adriatic, was appointed as the place of rendezvous for the army, and Alva quitted the city of Naples for that place on the eleventh of April, 1557. Here he concentrated his whole strength, and received his artillery and military stores, which were brought to him by water. Having reviewed his troops, he began his march to the north. On reaching Rio Umano, he detached a strong body of troops to get possession of Giulia Nuova, a town of some importance lately seized by the enemy. Alva supposed, and it seems correctly, that the French commander had secured this as a good place of retreat in case of his failure before Civitella, since its position was such as would enable him readily to keep up his communications with the sea. The French garrison sallied out against the Spaniards, but were driven back with loss; and, as Alva's troops followed in their rear, the enemy fled in confusion through the streets of the city, and left it in the hands of the victors. In this commodious position, the viceroy for the present took up his quarters.

On the approach of the Spanish army, the duke of Guise saw the necessity of bringing his operations against Civitella to a decisive issue. He accordingly, as a last effort, prepared for a general assault. But, although it was conducted with great spirit, it was repulsed with still greater by the garrison; and the French commander, deeply mortified at his repeated failures, saw the necessity of abandoning the siege. He could not effect even this without sustaining some loss from the brave defenders of Civitella, who sallied out on his rear, as he drew off his discomfited troops to the neighboring valley of Nireto. Thus ended the siege of Civitella, which, by the confidence it gave to the loyal Neapolitans throughout the country as well as by the leisure it afforded to Alva for mustering his resources, may be said to have decided the fate of the war. The siege lasted twenty-two days, during fourteen of which the guns from the four batteries of the French had played incessantly on the beleaguered city. The viceroy was filled with admiration at the heroic conduct of the inhabitants; and, in token of respect for it, granted some important immunities, to be enjoyed for ever by the citizens of Civitella. The women, too, came in for their share of the honors, as whoever married a maiden of Civitella was to be allowed the same immunities, from whatever part of the country he might come.[164]

The two armies were now quartered within a few miles of each other. Yet no demonstration was made, on either side, of bringing matters to the issue of{78} a battle. This was foreign to Alva's policy, and was not to be expected from Guise, so inferior in strength to his antagonist. On the viceroy's quitting Giulia Nuova, however, to occupy a position somewhat nearer the French quarters, Guise did not deem it prudent to remain there any longer, but, breaking up his camp, retreated, with his whole army, across the Tronto, and, without further delay, evacuated the kingdom of Naples.

The Spanish general made no attempt to pursue, or even to molest his adversary in his retreat. For this he has been severely criticized, more particularly as the passage of a river offers many points of advantage to an assailant. But, in truth, Alva never resorted to fighting when he could gain his end without it. In an appeal to arms, however favorable may be the odds, there must always be some doubt as to the result. But the odds here were not so decisively on the side of the Spaniards as they appeared. The duke of Guise carried off his battalions in admirable order, protecting his rear with the flower of his infantry and with his cavalry, in which last he was much superior to his enemy. Thus the parts of the hostile armies likely to have been brought into immediate conflict would have afforded no certain assurance of success to the Spaniards. Alva's object had been, not so much to defeat the French as to defend Naples. This he had now achieved, with but little loss; and rather than incur the risk of greater, he was willing, in the words of an old proverb, to make a bridge of silver for the flying foe.[165] In the words of Alva himself, "he had no idea of staking the kingdom of Naples against the embroidered coat of the duke of Guise."[166]

On the retreat of the French, Alva laid siege at once to two or three places, of no great note, in the capture of which he and his lieutenants were guilty of the most deliberate cruelty; though, in the judgment of the chronicler, it was not cruelty, but a wholesome severity, designed as a warning to such petty places not to defy the royal authority.[167] Soon after this, Alva himself crossed the Tronto, and took up a position not far removed from the French, who lay in the neighborhood of Ascoli. Although the two armies were but a few miles asunder, there was no attempt at hostilities, with the exception of a skirmish in which but a small number on either side were engaged, and which terminated in favor of the Spaniards. This state of things was at length ended by a summons from the pope to the French commander to draw nearer to Rome, as he needed his presence for the protection of the capital. The duke, glad, no doubt, of so honorable an apology for his retreat, and satisfied with having so long held his ground against a force superior to his own, fell back, in good order, upon Tivoli, which, as it commanded the great avenues to Rome on the east, and afforded good accommodations for his troops, he made his head quarters for the present. The manner in which the duke of Alva adhered to the plan of defensive operations settled at the beginning of the campaign, and that, too, under circumstances which would have tempted most men to depart from such a plan, is a remarkable proof of his perseverance and inflexible spirit. It proves, moreover, the empire which he held over the minds of his followers, that, under such circumstances, he could maintain implicit obedience to his orders.


The cause of the pope's alarm was the rapid successes of Alva's confederate,{79} Mark Antony Colonna, who had defeated the papal levies, and taken one place after another in the Campagna, till the Romans began to tremble for their capital. Colonna was now occupied with the siege of Segni, a place of considerable importance; and the duke of Alva, relieved of the presence of the French, resolved to march to his support. He accordingly recrossed the Tronto, and, passing through the Neapolitan territory, halted for some days at Sora. He then traversed the frontier, but had not penetrated far into the Campagna when he received tidings of the fall of Segni. That strong place, after a gallant defence, had been taken by storm. All the usual atrocities were perpetrated by the brutal soldiery. Even the sanctity of the convents did not save them from pollution. It was in vain that Colonna interfered to prevent these excesses. The voice of authority was little heeded in the tempest of passion.—It mattered little, in that age, into whose hands a captured city fell; Germans, French, Italians, it was all the same. The wretched town, so lately flourishing, it might be, in all the pride of luxury and wealth, was claimed as the fair spoil of the victors. It was their prize-money, which served in default of payment of their long arrears,—usually long in those days; and it was a mode of payment as convenient for the general as for his soldiers.[168]

The fall of Segni caused the greatest consternation in the capital. The next thing, it was said, would be to assault the capital itself. Paul the Fourth, incapable of fear, was filled with impotent fury. "They have taken Segni," he said in a conclave of the cardinals; "they have murdered the people, destroyed their property, fired their dwellings. Worse than this, they will next pillage Palliano. Even this will not fill up the measure of their cruelty. They will sack the city of Rome itself; nor will they respect even my person. But, for myself, I long to be with Christ, and await without fear the crown of martyrdom."[169] Paul the Fourth, after having brought this tempest upon Italy, began to consider himself a martyr!

Yet even in this extremity, though urged on all sides to make concessions, he would abate nothing of his haughty tone. He insisted, as a sine qua non, that Alva should forthwith leave the Roman territory and restore his conquests. When these conditions were reported to the duke, he coolly remarked, that "his holiness seemed to be under the mistake of supposing that his own army was before Naples, instead of the Spanish army being at the gates of Rome."[170]

After the surrender of Segni, Alva effected a junction with the Italian forces, and marched to the town of Colona, in the Campagna, where for the present he quartered his army. Here he formed the plan of an enterprise, the adventurous character of which it seems difficult to reconcile with his habitual caution. This was a night assault on Rome. He did not communicate his whole purpose to his officers, but simply ordered them to prepare to march on the following night, the twenty-sixth of August, against a neighboring city, the name of which he did not disclose. It was a wealthy place, he said, but he was most anxious that no violence should be offered to the inhabitants, in either their persons or property. The soldiers should be forbidden{80} even to enter the dwellings; but he promised that the loss of booty should be compensated by increase of pay. The men were to go lightly armed, without baggage, and with their shirts over their mail, affording the best means of recognizing one another in the dark.

The night was obscure, but unfortunately a driving storm of rain set in, which did such damage to the roads as greatly to impede the march, and the dawn was nigh at hand when the troops reached the place of destination. To their great surprise, they then understood that the object of attack was Rome itself.

Alva halted at a short distance from the city, in a meadow, and sent forward a small party to reconnoitre the capital, which seemed to slumber in quiet. But, on a nearer approach, the Spaniards saw a great light, as if occasioned by a multitude of torches, that seemed glancing to and fro within the walls, inferring some great stir among the inhabitants of that quarter. Soon after this, a few horsemen were seen to issue from one of the gates, and ride off in the direction of the French camp at Tivoli. The duke, on receiving the report, was satisfied that the Romans had, in some way or other, got notice of his design; that the horsemen had gone to give the alarm to the French in Tivoli; and that he should soon find himself between two enemies. Not relishing this critical position, he at once abandoned his design, and made a rapid countermarch on the place he had left the preceding evening.

In his conjectures the duke was partly in the right and partly in the wrong. The lights which were seen glancing within the town were owing to the watchfulness of Caraffa, who, from some apprehensions of an attack, in consequence of information he had received of preparations in the Spanish camp, was patrolling this quarter before daybreak to see that all was safe; but the horsemen who left the gates at that early hour in the direction of the French camp were far from thinking that hostile battalions lay within gunshot of their walls.[171]

Such is the account we have of this strange affair. Some historians assert that it was not the duke's design to attack Rome, but only to make a feint, and, by the panic which he would create, to afford the pope a good pretext for terminating the war. In support of this, it is said that he told his son Ferdinand, just before his departure, that he feared it would be impossible to prevent the troops from sacking the city, if they once set foot in it.[172] Other accounts state that it was no feint, but a surprise meditated in good earnest, and defeated only by the apparition of the lights and the seeming state of preparation in which the place was found. Indeed, one writer asserts that he saw the scaling-ladders, brought by a corps of two hundred arquebusiers, who were appointed to the service of mounting the walls.[173]

The Venetian minister, Navagero, assures us that Alva's avowed purpose was to secure the person of his holiness, which, he thought, must bring the war at once to a close. The duke's uncle, the cardinal of Sangiacomo, had warned his nephew, according to the same authority, not to incur the fate of their countrymen who had served under the Constable de Bourbon, at the sack of Rome, all of whom, sooner or later, had come to a miserable end.[174]



This warning may have made some impression on the mind of Alva, who, however inflexible by nature, had conscientious scruples of his own, and was, no doubt, accessible, as others of his time, to arguments founded on superstition.

We cannot but admit that the whole affair,—the preparations for the assault, the counsel to the officers, and the sudden retreat on suspicion of a discovery,—all look very much like earnest. It is quite possible that the duke, as the Venetian asserts, may have intended nothing beyond the seizure of the pope. But that the matter would have stopped there, no one will believe. Once fairly within the walls, even the authority of Alva would have been impotent to restrain the licence of the soldiery; and the same scenes might have been acted over again as at the taking of Rome under the Constable de Bourbon, or on the capture of the ancient capital by the Goths.

When the Romans, on the following morning, learned the peril they had been in during the night, and that the enemy had been prowling round, like wolves about a sheepfold, ready to rush in upon their sleeping victims, the whole city was seized with a panic. All the horrors of the sack by the Constable de Bourbon rose up to their imaginations,—or rather memories, for many there were who were old enough to remember that terrible day. They loudly clamored for peace before it was too late; and they pressed the demand in a manner which showed that the mood of the people was a dangerous one. Strozzi, the most distinguished of the Italian captains, plainly told the pope that he had no choice but to come to terms with the enemy at once.[175]

Paul was made more sensible of this by finding now, in his greatest need, the very arm withdrawn from him on which he most leaned for support. Tidings had reached the French camp of the decisive victory gained by the Spaniards at St. Quentin, and they were followed by a summons from the king to the duke of Guise, to return with his army, as speedily as possible, for the protection of Paris. The duke, who was probably not unwilling to close a campaign which had been so barren of laurels to the French, declared that "no chains were strong enough to keep him in Italy." He at once repaired to the Vatican, and there laid before his holiness the commands of his master. The case was so pressing, that Paul could not in reason oppose the duke's departure. But he seldom took counsel of reason, and in a burst of passion exclaimed to Guise, "Go, then; and take with you the consciousness of having done little for your king, still less for the Church, and nothing for your own honor."[176]

Negotiations were now opened for an accommodation between the belligerents, at the town of Cavi. Cardinal Caraffa appeared in behalf of his uncle, the pope, and the duke of Alva for the Spaniards. Through the mediation of Venice, the terms of the treaty were finally settled, on the fourteenth of September, although the inflexible pontiff still insisted on concessions nearly as extravagant as those he had demanded before. It was stipulated in a preliminary article, that the duke of Alva should publicly ask pardon, and receive absolution, for having borne arms against the holy see. "Sooner than surrender this point," said Paul, "I would see the whole world perish; and this, not so much for my own sake as for the honor of Jesus Christ."[177]

It was provided by the treaty, that the Spanish troops should be immediately{82} withdrawn from the territory of the Church, that all the places taken from the Church should be at once restored, and that the French army should be allowed a free passage to their own country. Philip did not take so good care of his allies as Paul did of his. Colonna, who had done the cause such good service, was not even reinstated in the possessions of which the pope had deprived him. But a secret article provided that his claims should be determined hereafter by the joint arbitration of the pontiff and the king of Spain.[178]

The treaty was, in truth, one which, as Alva bitterly remarked, "seemed to have been dictated by the vanquished rather than by the victor." It came hard to the duke to execute it, especially the clause relating to himself. "Were I the king," said he haughtily, "his holiness should send one of his nephews to Brussels, to sue for my pardon, instead of my general's suing for his."[179] But Alva had no power to consult his own will in the matter. The orders from Philip were peremptory, to come to some terms, if possible, with the pope. Philip had long since made up his own mind, that neither profit nor honor was to be derived from a war with the Church,—a war not only repugnant to his own feelings, but which placed him in a false position, and one most prejudicial to his political interests.

The news of peace filled the Romans with a joy great in proportion to their former consternation. Nor was this joy much diminished by a calamity which at any other time would have thrown the city into mourning. The Tiber, swollen by the autumnal rains, rose above its banks, sweeping away houses and trees in its fury, drowning men and cattle, and breaking down a large piece of the wall that surrounded the city. It was well that this accident had not occurred a few days earlier, when the enemy was at the gates.[180]

On the twenty-seventh of September, 1557, the duke of Alva made his public entrance into Rome. He was escorted by the papal guard, dressed in its gay uniform. It was joined by the other troops in the city, who, on this holiday service, did as well as better soldiers. On entering the gates, the concourse was swelled by thousands of citizens, who made the air ring with their acclamations, as they saluted the Spanish general with the titles of Defender and Liberator of the capital. The epithets might be thought an indifferent compliment to their own government. In this state the procession moved along, like the triumph of a conqueror returned from his victorious campaigns to receive the wreath of laurel in the capitol.

On reaching the Vatican, the Spanish commander fell on his knees before the pope, and asked his pardon for the offence of bearing arms against the Church. Paul, soothed by this show of concession, readily granted absolution. He paid the duke the distinguished honor of giving him a seat at his own table; while he complimented the duchess by sending her the consecrated golden rose, reserved only for royal persons and illustrious champions of the Church.[181]{83}


Yet the haughty spirit of Alva saw in all this more of humiliation than of triumph. His conscience, like that of his master, was greatly relieved by being discharged from the responsibilities of such a war. But he had also a military conscience, which seemed to be quite as much scandalized by the conditions of the peace. He longed to be once more at Naples, where the state of things imperatively required his presence. When he returned there, he found abundant occupation in reforming the abuses which had grown out of the late confusion, and especially in restoring, as far as possible, the shattered condition of the finances,—a task hardly less difficult than that of driving out the French from Naples.[182]

Thus ended the war with Paul the Fourth,—a war into which that pontiff had plunged without preparation, which he had conducted without judgment, and terminated without honor. Indeed, it brought little honor to any of the parties concerned in it, but, on the other hand, a full measure of those calamities which always follow in the train of war.

The French met with the same fate which uniformly befell them, when, lured by the phantom of military glory, they crossed the Alps to lay waste the garden of Italy,—in the words of their own proverb, "the grave of the French." The duke of Guise, after a vexatious campaign, in which it was his greatest glory that he had sustained no actual defeat, thought himself fortunate in being allowed a free passage, with the shattered remnant of his troops, back to his own country. Naples, besides the injuries she had sustained on her borders, was burdened with a debt which continued to press heavily for generations to come. Nor were her troubles ended by the peace. In the spring of the following year, 1558, a Turkish squadron appeared off Calabria; and, running down the coast, the Moslems made a landing on several points, sacked some of the principal towns, butchered the inhabitants, or swept them off into hopeless slavery.[183] Such were some of the blessed fruits of the alliance between the grand seignior and the head of the Catholic Church. Solyman had come into the league at the invitation of the Christian princes. But it was not found so easy to lay the spirit of mischief as it had been to raise it.

The weight of the war, however, fell, as was just, most heavily on the author of it. Paul, from his palace of the Vatican, could trace the march of the enemy by the smoking ruins of the Campagna. He saw his towns sacked, his troops scattered, his very capital menaced, his subjects driven by ruinous taxes to the verge of rebellion. Even peace, when it did come, secured to him none of the objects for which he had contended, while he had the humiliating consciousness that he owed this peace, not to his own arms, but to the forbearance—or the superstition of his enemies. One lesson he might have learned,—that the thunders of the Vatican could no longer strike terror into the hearts of princes, as in the days of the Crusades.

In this war Paul had called in the French to aid him in driving out the Spaniards. The French, he said, might easily be dislodged hereafter; "but the Spaniards were like dog-grass, which is sure to strike root wherever it is cast."—This was the last great effort that was made to overturn the Spanish{84} power in Naples; and the sceptre of that kingdom continued to be transmitted in the dynasty of Castile, with as little opposition as that of any other portion of its broad empire.

Being thus relieved of his military labors, Paul set about those great reforms, the expectation of which had been the chief inducement to his election. But first he gave a singular proof of self-command, in the reforms which he introduced into his own family. Previously to his election, no one, as we have seen, had declaimed more loudly than Paul against nepotism,—the besetting sin of his predecessors, who, most of them old men and without children, naturally sought a substitute for these in their nephews and those nearest of kin. Paul's partiality for his nephews was made the more conspicuous by the profligacy of their characters. Yet the real bond which held the parties together was hatred of the Spaniards. When peace came, and this bond of union was dissolved, Paul readily opened his ears to the accusations against his kinsmen. Convinced at length of their unworthiness, and of the flagrant manner in which they had abused his confidence, he deprived the Caraffas of all their offices, and banished them to the farthest part of his dominions. By the sterner sentence of his successor, two of the brothers, the duke and the cardinal, perished by the hand of the public executioner.[184]

After giving this proof of mastery over his own feelings, Paul addressed himself to those reforms which had engaged his attention in early life. He tried to enforce a stricter discipline and greater regard for morals, both in the religious orders and the secular clergy. Above all, he directed his efforts against the Protestant heresy, which had begun to show itself in the head of Christendom, as it had long since done in the extremities. The course he adopted was perfectly characteristic. Scorning the milder methods of argument and persuasion, he resorted wholly to persecution. The Inquisition, he declared, was the true battery with which to assail the defences of the heretic. He suited the action so well to the word, that in a short time the prisons of the Holy Office were filled with the accused. In the general distrust no one felt himself safe; and a panic was created, scarcely less than that felt by the inhabitants when the Spaniards were at their gates.

Happily, their fears were dispelled by the death of Paul, which took place suddenly, from a fever, on the eighteenth of August, 1559, in the eighty-third year of his age, and fifth of his pontificate. Before the breath was out of his body, the populace rose en masse, broke open the prisons of the Inquisition, and liberated all who were confined there. They next attacked the house of the grand-inquisitor, which they burned to the ground; and that functionary narrowly escaped with his life. They tore down the scutcheons, bearing the arms of the family of Caraffa, which were affixed to the public edifices. They wasted their rage on the senseless statue of the pope, which they overturned, and, breaking off the head, rolled it, amidst the groans and execrations of the by-standers, into the Tiber. Such was the fate of the reformer, who, in his reforms, showed no touch of humanity, no sympathy with the sufferings of his species.[185]

Yet, with all its defects, there is something in the character of Paul the Fourth that may challenge our admiration. His project—renewing that of Julius the Second—of driving out the barbarians from Italy, was nobly conceived, though impracticable. "Whatever others may feel, I at least will have some care for my country," he once said to the Venetian ambassador.



"If my voice is unheeded, it will at least be a consolation to me to reflect, that it has been raised in such a cause; and that it will one day be said that an old Italian, on the verge of the grave, who might be thought to have nothing better to do than to give himself up to repose, and weep over his sins, had his soul filled with this lofty design."[186]



England joins in the War.—Philip's Preparations.—Siege of St. Quentin.—French Army routed.—Storming of St. Quentin.—Successes of the Spaniards.


While the events related in the preceding chapter were passing in Italy, the war was waged on a larger scale, and with more important results, in the northern provinces of France. As soon as Henry had broken the treaty, and sent his army across the Alps, Philip lost no time in assembling his troops, although in so quiet a manner as to attract as little attention as possible. His preparations were such as enabled him, not merely to defend the frontier of the Netherlands, but to carry the war into the enemy's country.

He despatched his confidential minister, Ruy Gomez, to Spain, for supplies both of men and money; instructing him to visit his father, Charles the Fifth, and, after acquainting him with the state of affairs, to solicit his aid in raising the necessary funds.[187]

Philip had it much at heart to bring England into the war. During his stay in the Low Countries, he was in constant communication with the English cabinet, and took a lively interest in the government of the kingdom. The minutes of the privy council were regularly sent to him, and as regularly returned with his remarks, in his own handwriting, on the margin. In this way he discussed and freely criticized every measure of importance; and, on one occasion, we find him requiring that nothing of moment should be brought before parliament until it had first been submitted to him.[188]

In March, 1557, Philip paid a second visit to England, where he was received by his fond queen in the most tender and affectionate manner. In her letters she had constantly importuned him to return to her. On that barren eminence which placed her above the reach of friendship, Mary was dependent{86} on her husband for sympathy and support. But if the channel of her affections was narrow, it was deep.

Philip found no difficulty in obtaining the queen's consent to his wishes with respect to the war with France. She was induced to this, not merely by her habitual deference to her husband, but by natural feelings of resentment at the policy of Henry the Second. She had put up with affronts, more than once, from the French ambassador, in her own court; and her throne had been menaced by repeated conspiracies, which, if not organized, had been secretly encouraged by France. Still, it was not easy to bring the English nation to this way of thinking. It had been a particular proviso of the marriage treaty, that England should not be made a party to the war against France; and subsequent events had tended to sharpen the feeling of jealousy rather towards the Spaniards than towards the French.

The attempted insurrection of Stafford, who crossed over from the shores of France at this time, did for Philip what possibly neither his own arguments nor the authority of Mary could have done. It was the last of the long series of indignities which had been heaped on the country from the same quarter; and parliament now admitted that it was no longer consistent with its honor to keep terms with a power which persisted in fomenting conspiracies to overturn the government and plunge the nation into civil war. On the seventh of June, a herald was despatched, with the formality of ancient and somewhat obsolete usages, to proclaim war against the French king in the presence of his court and in his capital. This was done in such a bold tone of defiance, that the hot old constable, Montmorency, whose mode of proceeding, as we have seen, was apt to be summary, strongly urged his master to hang up the envoy on the spot.[189]

The state of affairs imperatively demanded Philip's presence in the Netherlands, and, after a residence of less than four months in London, he bade a final adieu to his disconsolate queen, whose excessive fondness may have been as little to his taste as the coldness of her subjects.

Nothing could be more forlorn than the condition of Mary. Her health wasting under a disease that cheated her with illusory hopes, which made her ridiculous in the eyes of the world; her throne, her very life, continually menaced by conspiracies, to some of which even her own sister was supposed to be privy; her spirits affected by the consciousness of the decline of her popularity under the gloomy system of persecution into which she had been led by her ghostly advisers; without friends, without children, almost it might be said without a husband,—she was alone in the world, more to be commiserated than the meanest subject in her dominions. She has had little commiseration, however, from Protestant writers, who paint her in the odious colors of a fanatic. This has been compensated, it may be thought, by the Roman Catholic historians, who have invested the English queen with all the glories of the saint and the martyr. Experience may convince us that public acts do not always furnish a safe criterion of private character,—especially when these acts are connected with religion. In the Catholic Church the individual might seem to be relieved, in some measure, of his moral responsibility, by the system of discipline which intrusts his conscience to the keeping of his spiritual advisers. If the lights of the present day allow no man to plead so humiliating an apology, this was not the case in the first half of the sixteenth century,—the age of Mary,—when the Reformation had not yet diffused that spirit of independence in religious speculation, which, in some{87} degree at least, has now found its way to the darkest corner of Christendom.


A larger examination of contemporary documents, especially of the queen's own correspondence, justifies the inference, that, with all the infirmities of a temper soured by disease, and by the difficulties of her position, she possessed many of the good qualities of her illustrious progenitors, Katharine of Aragon and Isabella of Castile; the same conjugal tenderness and devotion, the same courage in times of danger, the same earnest desire, misguided as she was, to do her duty,—and, unfortunately, the same bigotry. It was, indeed, most unfortunate, in Mary's case, as in that of the Catholic queen, that this bigotry, from their position as independent sovereigns, should have been attended with such fatal consequences as have left an indelible blot on the history of their reigns.[190]

On his return to Brussels, Philip busied himself with preparations for the campaign. He employed the remittances from Spain to subsidize a large body of German mercenaries. Germany was the country which furnished, at this time, more soldiers of fortune than any other; men who served indifferently under the banner that would pay them best. They were not exclusively made up of infantry, like the Swiss, but, besides pikemen,—lanzknechts,—they maintained a stout array of cavalry, reiters, as they were called,—"riders,"—who, together with the cuirass and other defensive armor, carried pistols, probably of rude workmanship, but which made them formidable from the weapon being little known in that day. They were, indeed, the most dreaded troops of their time. The men-at-arms, encumbered with their unwieldy lances, were drawn up in line, and required an open plain to manœuvre to advantage, being easily discomposed by obstacles; and once broken, they could hardly rally. But the reiters, each with five or six pistols in his belt, were formed into columns of considerable depth, the size of their weapons allowing them to go through all the evolutions of light cavalry, in which they were perfectly drilled. Philip's cavalry was further strengthened by a fine corps of Burgundian lances, and by a great number of nobles and cavaliers from Spain, who had come to gather laurels in the fields of France, under the eye of their young sovereign. The flower of his infantry, too, was drawn from Spain; men who, independently of the indifference to danger, and wonderful endurance, which made the Spanish soldier inferior to none of the time, were animated by that loyalty to the cause which foreign mercenaries could not feel. In addition to these, the king expected, and soon after received, a reinforcement of eight thousand English under the earl of Pembroke. They might well fight bravely on the soil where the arms of England had won two of the most memorable victories in her history.

The whole force, exclusive of the English, amounted to thirty-five thousand foot and twelve thousand horse, besides a good train of battering artillery.[191] The command of this army was given to Emanuel Philibert, prince of Piedmont,{88} better known by his title of duke of Savoy. No man had a larger stake in the contest, for he had been stripped of his dominions by the French, and his recovery of them depended on the issue of the war. He was at this time but twenty-nine years of age; but he had had large experience in military affairs, and had been intrusted by Charles the Fifth, who had early discerned his capacity, with important commands. His whole life may be said to have trained him for the profession of arms. He had no taste for effeminate pleasures, but amused himself, in seasons of leisure, with the hardy exercise of the chase. He strengthened his constitution, naturally not very robust, by living as much as possible in the open air. Even when conversing, or dictating to his secretaries, he preferred to do so walking in his garden. He was indifferent to fatigue. After hunting all day he would seem to require no rest, and in a campaign had been known, like the knights-errant of old, to eat, drink, and sleep in his armor for thirty days together.

He was temperate in his habits, eating little, and drinking water. He was punctual in attention to business, was sparing of his words, and, as one may gather from the piquant style of his letters, had a keen insight into character, looking below the surface of men's actions into their motives.[192]

His education had not been neglected. He spoke several languages fluently, and, though not a great reader, was fond of histories. He was much devoted to mathematical science, which served him in his profession, and he was reputed an excellent engineer.[193] In person the duke was of the middle size; well-made, except that he was somewhat bow-legged. His complexion was fair, his hair light, and his deportment very agreeable.

Such is the portrait of Emanuel Philibert, to whom Philip now intrusted the command of his forces, and whose pretensions he warmly supported as the suitor of Elizabeth of England. There was none more worthy of the royal maiden. But the duke was a Catholic; and Elizabeth, moreover, had seen the odium which her sister had incurred by her marriage with a foreign sovereign. Philip, who would have used some constraint in the matter, pressed it with such earnestness on the queen as proved how much importance he attached to the connection. Mary's conduct on the occasion was greatly to her credit; and, while she deprecated the displeasure of her lord, she honestly told him that she could not in conscience do violence to the inclinations of her sister.[194]

The plan of the campaign, as determined by Philip's cabinet,[195] was that the duke should immediately besiege some one of the great towns on the northern borders of Picardy, which in a manner commanded the entrance into the Netherlands. Rocroy was the first selected. But the garrison, who were well provided with ammunition, kept within their defences, and maintained so lively a cannonade on the Spaniards, that the duke, finding the siege was likely to consume more time than it was worth, broke up his camp, and resolved to march against St. Quentin. This was an old frontier town of Picardy, important in time of peace as an entrepôt for the trade that was carried on between France and the Low Countries. It formed a convenient place of deposit, at the present period, for such booty as marauding parties from time to time brought back from Flanders. It was well protected by its{89} natural situation, and the fortifications had been originally strong; but, as in many of the frontier towns, they had been of late years much neglected.


Before beginning operations against St. Quentin, the duke of Savoy, in order to throw the enemy off his guard, and prevent his introducing supplies into the town, presented himself before Guise, and made a show of laying siege to that place. After this demonstration he resumed his march, and suddenly sat down before St. Quentin, investing it with his whole army.

Meanwhile the French had been anxiously watching the movements of their adversary. Their forces were assembled on several points in Picardy and Champagne. The principal corps was under the command of the duke of Nevers, governor of the latter province, a nobleman of distinguished gallantry, and who had seen some active service. He now joined his forces to those under Montmorency, the constable of France, who occupied a central position in Picardy, and who now took the command, for which his rash and impetuous temper but indifferently qualified him. As soon as the object of the Spaniards was known, it was resolved to reinforce the garrison of St. Quentin, which otherwise, it was understood, could not hold out a week. This perilous duty was assumed by Gaspard de Coligni, admiral of France.[196] This personage, the head of an ancient and honored house, was one of the most remarkable men of his time. His name had gained a mournful celebrity in the page of history, as that of the chief martyr in the massacre of St. Bartholomew. He embraced the doctrines of Calvin, and by his austere manners and the purity of his life well illustrated the doctrines he embraced. The decent order of his household, and their scrupulous attention to the services of religion, formed a striking contrast to the licentious conduct of too many of the Catholics, who, however, were as prompt as Coligni to do battle in defence of their faith. In early life he was the gay companion of the duke of Guise.[197] But as the Calvinists, or Huguenots, were driven by persecution to an independent and even hostile position, the two friends, widely separated by opinion and by interest, were changed into mortal foes. That hour had not yet come. But the heresy that was soon to shake France to its centre was silently working under ground.

As the admiral was well instructed in military affairs, and was possessed of an intrepid spirit and great fertility of resource, he was precisely the person to undertake the difficult office of defending St. Quentin. As governor of Picardy he felt this to be his duty. Without loss of time, he put himself at the head of some ten or twelve hundred men, horse and foot, and used such despatch that he succeeded in entering the place before it had been entirely invested. He had the mortification, however, to be followed only by seven hundred of his men, the remainder having failed through fatigue, or mistaken the path.

The admiral found the place in even worse condition than he had expected. The fortifications were much dilapidated; and in many parts of the wall the masonry was of so flimsy a character, that it must have fallen before the first{90} discharge of the enemy's cannon. The town was victualled for three weeks, and the magazines were tolerably well supplied with ammunition. But there were not fifty arquebuses fit for use.

St. Quentin stands on a gentle eminence, protected on one side by marshes, or rather a morass of great extent, through which flows the river Somme, or a branch of it. On the same side of the river with St. Quentin lay the army of the besiegers, with their glittering lines extending to the very verge of the morass. A broad ditch defended the outer wall. But this ditch was commanded by the houses of the suburbs, which had already been taken possession of by the besiegers. There was, moreover, a thick plantation of trees close to the town, which would afford an effectual screen for the approach of an enemy.

One of the admiral's first acts was to cause a sortie to be made. The ditch was crossed, and some of the houses were burned to the ground. The trees on the banks were then levelled, and the approach to the town was laid open. Every preparation was made for a protracted defence. The exact quantity of provision was ascertained, and the rations were assigned for each man's daily consumption. As the supplies were inadequate to support the increased population for any length of time, Coligni ordered that all except those actively engaged in the defence of the place should leave it without delay. Many, under one pretext or another, contrived to remain, and share the fortunes of the garrison. But by this regulation he got rid of seven hundred useless persons, who, if they had staid, must have been the victims of famine; and "their dead bodies," the admiral coolly remarked, "would have bred a pestilence among the soldiers."[198]

He assigned to his men their several posts, talked boldly of maintaining himself against all the troops of Spain, and by his cheerful tone endeavored to inspire a confidence in others which he was far from feeling himself. From one of the highest towers he surveyed the surrounding country, tried to ascertain the most practicable fords in the morass, and sent intelligence to Montmorency, that, without relief, the garrison could not hold out more than a few days.[199]

That commander, soon after the admiral's departure, had marched his army to the neighborhood of St. Quentin, and established it in the towns of La Fère and Ham, together with the adjoining villages, so as to watch the movements of the Spaniards, and coöperate, as occasion served, with the besieged. He at once determined to strengthen the garrison, if possible, by a reinforcement of two thousand men under Dandelot, a younger brother of the admiral, and not inferior to him in audacity and enterprise. But the expedition miserably failed. Through the treachery or the ignorance of the guide, the party mistook the path, came on one of the enemy's outposts, and, disconcerted by the accident, were thrown into confusion, and many of them cut to pieces or drowned in the morass. Their leader, with the remainder, succeeded, under cover of the night, in making his way back to La Fère.


The constable now resolved to make another attempt, and in the open day. He proposed to send a body, under the same commander, in boats across the Somme, and to cover the embarkation in person with his whole army. His{91} force was considerably less than that of the Spaniards, amounting in all to about eighteen thousand foot and six thousand horse, besides a train of artillery consisting of sixteen guns.[200] His levies, like those of his antagonist, were largely made up of German mercenaries. The French peasantry, with the exception of the Gascons, who formed a fine body of infantry, had long since ceased to serve in war. But the chivalry of France was represented by as gallant an array of nobles and cavaliers as ever fought under the banner of the lilies.

On the ninth of August, 1557, Montmorency put his whole army in motion; and on the following morning, the memorable day of St. Lawrence, by nine o'clock, he took up a position on the bank of the Somme. On the opposite side, nearest the town, lay the Spanish force, covering the ground, as far as the eye could reach, with their white pavilions; while the banners of Spain, of Flanders, and of England, unfurled in the morning breeze, showed the various nations from which the motley host had been gathered.[201]

On the constable's right was a windmill, commanding a ford of the river which led to the Spanish quarters. The building was held by a small detachment of the enemy. Montmorency's first care was to get possession of the mill, which he did without difficulty; and, by placing a garrison there, under the prince of Condé, he secured himself from surprise in that quarter. He then profited by a rising ground to get his guns in position, so as to sweep the opposite bank, and at once opened a brisk cannonade on the enemy. The march of the French had been concealed by some intervening hills, so that, when they suddenly appeared on the farther side of the Somme, it was as if they had dropped from the clouds; and the shot which fell among the Spaniards threw them into great disorder. There was hurrying to and fro, and some of the balls striking the duke of Savoy's tent, he had barely time to escape with his armor in his hand. It was necessary to abandon his position, and he marched some three miles down the river, to the quarters occupied by the commander of the cavalry, Count Egmont.[202]

Montmorency, as much elated with this cheap success as if it had been a victory, now set himself about passing his troops across the water. It was attended with more difficulty than he had expected. There were no boats in readiness, and two hours were wasted in procuring them. After all, only four or five could be obtained, and these so small that it would be necessary to cross and recross the stream many times to effect the object. The boats, crowded with as many as they could carry, stuck fast in the marshy banks, or rather quagmire, on the opposite side; and when some of the soldiers jumped out to lighten the load, they were swallowed up and suffocated in the mud.[203] To{92} add to these distresses, they were galled by the incessant fire of a body of troops which the Spanish general had stationed on an eminence that commanded the landing.

While, owing to these causes, the transportation of the troops was going slowly on, the duke of Savoy had called a council of war, and determined that the enemy, since he had ventured so near, should not be allowed to escape without a battle. There was a practicable ford in the river, close to Count Egmont's quarters; and that officer received orders to cross it at the head of his cavalry, and amuse the enemy until the main body of the Spanish army, under the duke, should have time to come up.

Lamoral, Count Egmont, and prince of Gavre, a person who is to occupy a large space in our subsequent pages, was a Flemish noble of an ancient and illustrious lineage. He had early attracted the notice of the emperor, who had raised him to various important offices, both civil and military, in which he had acquitted himself with honor. At this time, when thirty-five years old, he held the post of lieutenant-general of the horse, and that of governor of Flanders.

Egmont was of a lofty and aspiring nature, filled with dreams of glory, and so much elated by success, that the duke of Savoy was once obliged to rebuke him, by reminding him that he was not the commander-in-chief of the army.[204] With these defects he united some excellent qualities, which not unfrequently go along with them. In his disposition he was frank and manly, and, though hasty in temper, had a warm and generous heart. He was distinguished by a chivalrous bearing, and a showy, imposing address, which took with the people, by whom his name was held dear in later times for his devotion to the cause of freedom. He was a dashing officer, prompt and intrepid, well fitted for a brilliant coup-de-main, or for an affair like the present, which required energy and despatch; and he eagerly undertook the duty assigned him.

The light horse first passed over the ford, the existence of which was known to Montmorency; and he had detached a corps of German pistoleers, of whom there was a body in the French service, to defend the passage. But the number was too small, and the Burgundian horse, followed by the infantry, advanced, in face of the fire, as coolly and in as good order as if they had been on parade.[205] The constable soon received tidings that the enemy had begun to cross; and, aware of his mistake, he reinforced his pistoleers with a squadron of horse under the duc de Nevers. It was too late; when the French commander reached the ground, the enemy had already crossed in such strength that it would have been madness to attack him. After a brief consultation with his officers, Nevers determined, by as speedy a countermarch as possible, to join the main body of the army.


The prince of Condé, as has been mentioned, occupied the mill which commanded the other ford, on the right of Montmorency. From its summit he could descry the movements of the Spaniards, and their battalions debouching on the plain, with scarcely any opposition from the French. He advised the constable of this at once, and suggested the necessity of an immediate retreat. The veteran did not relish advice from one so much younger than himself, and testily replied, "I was a soldier before the prince of Condé was born; and, by the blessing of Heaven, I trust to teach him some good lessons{93} in war for many a year to come." Nor would he quit the ground while a man of the reinforcement under Dandelot remained to cross.[206]

The cause of this fatal confidence was information he had received that the ford was too narrow to allow more than four or five persons to pass abreast, which would give him time enough to send over the troops, and then secure his own retreat to La Fère. As it turned out, unfortunately, the ford was wide enough to allow fifteen or twenty men to go abreast.

The French, meanwhile, who had crossed the river, after landing on the opposite bank, were many of them killed or disabled by the Spanish arquebusiers; others were lost in the morass; and of the whole number not more than four hundred and fifty, wet, wounded, and weary, with Dandelot at their head, succeeded in throwing themselves into St. Quentin. The constable, having seen the last boat put off, gave instant orders for retreat. The artillery was sent forward in the front, then followed the infantry, and, last of all, he brought up the rear with the horse, of which he took command in person. He endeavored to make up for the precious time he had lost by quickening his march, which, however, was retarded by the heavy guns in the van.

The duc de Nevers, as we have seen, declining to give battle to the Spaniards who had crossed the stream, had prepared to retreat on the main body of the army. On reaching the ground lately occupied by his countrymen, he found it abandoned; and joining Condé, who still held the mill, the two officers made all haste to overtake the constable.

Meanwhile, Count Egmont, as soon as he was satisfied that he was in sufficient strength to attack the enemy, gave orders to advance, without waiting for more troops to share with him the honors of victory. Crossing the field lately occupied by the constable, he took the great road to La Fère. But the rising ground which lay between him and the French prevented him from seeing the enemy until he had accomplished half a league or more. The day was now well advanced, and the Flemish captain had some fears that, notwithstanding his speed, the quarry had escaped him. But, as he turned the hill, he had the satisfaction to descry the French columns in full retreat. On their rear hung a body of sutlers and other followers of the camp, who, by the sudden apparition of the Spaniards, were thrown into a panic, which they had wellnigh communicated to the rest of the army.[207] To retreat before an enemy is in itself a confession of weakness sufficiently dispiriting to the soldier. Montmorency, roused by the tumult, saw the dark cloud gathering along the heights, and knew that it must soon burst on him. In this emergency, he asked counsel of an old officer near him as to what he should do. "Had you asked me," replied the other, "two hours since, I could have told you; it is now too late."[208] It was indeed too late, and there was nothing to be done but to face about and fight the Spaniards. The constable, accordingly, gave the word to halt, and made dispositions to receive his assailants.{94}

Egmont, seeing him thus prepared, formed his own squadron into three divisions. One, which was to turn the left flank of the French, he gave to the prince of Brunswick and to Count Hoorne,—a name afterwards associated with his own on a sadder occasion than the present. Another, composed chiefly of Germans, he placed under Count Mansfeldt, with orders to assail the centre. He himself, at the head of his Burgundian lances, rode on the left against Montmorency's right flank. Orders were then given to charge, and, spurring forward their horses, the whole column came thundering on against the enemy. The French met the shock like well-trained soldiers, as they were; but the cavalry fell on them with the fury of a torrent sweeping everything before it, and for a few moments it seemed as if all were lost. But the French chivalry was true to its honor, and, at the call of Montmorency, who gallantly threw himself into the thick of the fight, it rallied, and, returning the charge, compelled the assailants to give way in their turn. The struggle, now continued on more equal terms, grew desperate; man against man, horse against horse,—it seemed to be a contest of personal prowess, rather than of tactics or military science. So well were the two parties matched, that for a long time the issue was doubtful; and the Spaniards might not have prevailed in the end, but for the arrival of reinforcements, both foot and heavy cavalry, who came up to their support. Unable to withstand this accumulated force, the French cavaliers, overpowered by numbers, not by superior valor, began to give ground. Hard pressed by Egmont, who cheered on his men to renewed efforts, their ranks were at length broken. The retreat became a flight; and, scattered over the field in all directions, they were hotly pursued by their adversaries, especially the German schwarzreiters,—those riders "black as devils,"[209]—who did such execution with their fire-arms as completed the discomfiture of the French.

Amidst this confusion, the Gascons, the flower of the French infantry, behaved with admirable coolness.[210] Throwing themselves into squares, with the pikemen armed with their long pikes in front, and the arquebusiers in the centre, they presented an impenetrable array, against which the tide of battle raged and chafed in impotent fury. It was in vain that the Spanish horse rode round the solid masses bristling with steel, if possible, to force an entrance, while an occasional shot, striking a trooper from his saddle, warned them not to approach too near.

It was in this state of things that the duke of Savoy, with the remainder of the troops, including the artillery, came on the field of action. His arrival could not have been more seasonable. The heavy guns were speedily turned on the French squares, whose dense array presented an obvious mark to the Spanish bullets. Their firm ranks were rent asunder; and, as the brave men tried in vain to close over the bodies of their dying comrades, the horse took advantage of the openings to plunge into the midst of the phalanx. Here the long spears of the pikemen were of no avail, and, striking right and left, the cavaliers dealt death on every side. All now was confusion and irretrievable ruin. No one thought of fighting, or even of self-defence. The only thought was of flight. Men overturned one another in their eagerness to escape. They were soon mingled with the routed cavalry, who rode down their own countrymen. Horses ran about the field without riders. Many of the soldiers threw away their arms, to fly the more quickly. All strove to escape from the terrible pursuit which hung on their rear. The artillery and ammunition{95}-wagons choked up the road, and obstructed the flight of the fugitives. The slaughter was dreadful. The best blood of France flowed like water.


Yet mercy was shown to those who asked it. Hundreds and thousands threw down their arms, and obtained quarter. Nevers, according to some accounts, covered the right flank of the French army. Others state that he was separated from it by a ravine or valley. At all events, he fared no better than his leader. He was speedily enveloped by the cavalry of Hoorne and Brunswick, and his fine corps of light horse cut to pieces. He himself, with the prince of Condé, was so fortunate as to make his escape, with the remnant of his forces, to La Fère.

Had the Spaniards followed up the pursuit, few Frenchmen might have been left that day to tell the story of the rout of St. Quentin. But the fight had already lasted four hours; evening was setting in; and the victors, spent with toil and sated with carnage, were content to take up their quarters on the field of battle.

The French, in the mean time, made their way, one after another, to La Fère, and, huddling together in the public squares, or in the quarters they had before occupied, remained like a herd of panic-struck deer, in whose ears the sounds of the chase are still ringing. But the loyal cavaliers threw off their panic, and recovered heart, when a rumor reached them that their commander, Montmorency, was still making head, with a body of stout followers, against the enemy. At the tidings, faint and bleeding as they were, they sprang to the saddles which they had just quitted, and were ready again to take the field.[211]

But the rumor was without foundation. Montmorency was a prisoner in the hands of the Spaniards. The veteran had exposed his own life throughout the action, as if willing to show that he would not shrink in any degree from the peril into which he had brought his followers. When he saw that the day was lost, he threw himself into the hottest of the battle, holding life cheap in comparison with honor. A shot from the pistol of a schwarzreiter, fracturing his thigh, disabled him from further resistance; and he fell into the hands of the Spaniards, who treated him with the respect due to his rank. The number of prisoners was very large,—according to some accounts, six thousand, of whom six hundred were said to be gentlemen and persons of condition. The number of the slain is stated, as usual, with great discrepancy, varying from three to six thousand. A much larger proportion of them than usual were men of family. Many a noble house in France went into mourning for that day. Among those who fell was Jean de Bourbon, count d'Enghien, a prince of the blood. Mortally wounded, he was carried to the tent of the duke of Savoy, where he soon after expired, and his body was sent to his countrymen at La Fère for honorable burial. To balance this bloody roll, no account states the loss of the Spaniards at over a thousand men.[212]

More than eighty standards, including those of the cavalry, fell into the{96} hands of the victors, together with all the artillery, ammunition-wagons, and baggage of the enemy. France had not experienced such a defeat since the battle of Agincourt.[213]

King Philip had left Brussels, and removed his quarters to Cambray, that he might be near the duke of Savoy, with whom he kept up daily communication throughout the siege. Immediately after the battle, on the eleventh of August, he visited the camp in person. At the same time, he wrote to his father, expressing his regret that he had not been there to share the glory of the day.[214] The emperor seems to have heartily shared this regret.[215] It is quite certain, if Charles had had the direction of affairs, he would not have been absent. But Philip had not the bold, adventurous spirit of his father. His talent lay rather in meditation than in action; and his calm, deliberate forecast better fitted him for the council than the camp. In enforcing levies, in raising supplies, in superintending the organization of the army, he was indefatigable. The plan of the campaign was determined under his own eye; and he was most sagacious in the selection of his agents. But to those agents he prudently left the conduct of the war, for which he had no taste, perhaps no capacity, himself. He did not, like his rival, Henry the Second, fancy himself a great captain because he could carry away the prizes of a tourney.

Philip was escorted to the camp by his household troops. He appeared on this occasion armed cap-à-pie,—a thing by no means common with him. It seems to have pleased his fancy to be painted in military costume. At least, there are several portraits of him in complete mail,—one from the pencil of Titian. A picture taken at the present time was sent by him to Queen Mary, who, in this age of chivalry, may have felt some pride in seeing her lord in the panoply of war.

On the king's arrival at the camp, he was received with all the honors of a victor; with flourishes of trumpets, salvos of artillery, and the loud shouts of the soldiery. The duke of Savoy laid at his feet the banners and other trophies of the fight, and, kneeling down, would have kissed Philip's hand; but the king, raising him from the ground, and embracing him as he did so, said that the acknowledgments were due from himself to the general who had won him such a victory. At the same time, he paid a well-deserved compliment to the brilliant part which Egmont and his brave companions had borne in the battle.[216]


The first thing to be done was to dispose of the prisoners, whose number embarrassed the conquerors. Philip dismissed all those of the common file, on the condition that they should not bear arms for six months against the Spaniards. The condition did no great detriment to the French service, as the men, on their return, were sent to garrison some distant towns, and their{97} places in the army filled by the troops whom they had relieved. The cavaliers and persons of condition were lodged in fortresses, where they could be securely detained till the amount of their respective ransoms was determined. These ransoms formed an important part of the booty of the conqueror. How important, may be inferred from the sum offered by the constable on his own account and that of his son,—no less, it is said, than a hundred and sixty-five thousand gold crowns.[217] The soldier of that day, when the penalty was loss of fortune as well as of freedom, must be confessed to have fought on harder conditions than at present.

A council of war was next called, to decide on further operations. When Charles the Fifth received tidings of the victory of St. Quentin, the first thing he asked, as we are told, was "whether Philip were at Paris."[218] Had Charles been in command, he would doubtless have followed up the blow by presenting himself at once before the French capital. But Philip was not of that sanguine temper which overlooks, or at least overleaps, the obstacles in its way. Charles calculated the chances of success; Philip, those of failure. Charles's character opened the way to more brilliant achievements, but exposed him also to severer reverses. His enterprising spirit was more favorable to building up a great empire; the cautious temper of Philip was better fitted to preserve it. Philip came in the right time; and his circumspect policy was probably better suited to his position, as well as to his character, than the bolder policy of the emperor.

When the duke of Savoy urged, as it is said, the expediency of profiting by the present panic to march at once on the French capital, Philip looked at the dangers of such a step. Several strong fortresses of the enemy would be left in his rear. Rivers must be crossed, presenting lines of defence which could easily be maintained against a force even superior to his own. Paris was covered by formidable works, and forty thousand citizens could be enrolled, at the shortest notice, for its protection. It was not wise to urge the foe to extremity, to force a brave and loyal people, like the French, to rise en masse, as they would do for the defence of their capital. The emperor, his father, had once invaded France with a powerful army, and laid siege to Marseilles. The issue of that invasion was known to everybody. "The Spaniards," it was tauntingly said, "had come into the country feasting on turkeys; they were glad to escape from it feeding on roots!"[219] Philip determined, therefore, to abide by his original plan of operations, and profit by the late success of his arms to press the siege of St. Quentin with his whole force.—It would not be easy for any one, at this distance of time, to pronounce on the wisdom of his decision. But subsequent events tend considerably to strengthen our confidence in it.

Preparations were now made to push the siege with vigor. Besides the cannon already in the camp, and those taken in the battle, a good number of{98} pieces were brought from Cambray to strengthen the battering-train of the besiegers. The river was crossed; and the Faubourg d'Ile was carried by the duke, after a stout resistance on the part of the French, who burned the houses in their retreat. The Spanish commander availed himself of his advantage to establish batteries close to the town, which kept up an incessant cannonade, that shook the old walls and towers to their foundation. The miners also carried on their operations, and galleries were excavated almost to the centre of the place.

The condition of the besieged, in the mean time, was forlorn in the extreme; not so much from want of food, though their supplies were scanty, as from excessive toil and exposure. Then it was that Coligni displayed all the strength of his character. He felt the importance of holding out as long as possible, that the nation might have time to breathe, as it were, and recover from the late disaster. He endeavored to infuse his own spirit into the hearts of his soldiers, toiling with the meanest of them, and sharing all their privations. He cheered the desponding, by assuring them of speedy relief from their countrymen. Some he complimented for their bravery; others he flattered by asking their advice. He talked loudly of the resources at his command. If any should hear him so much as hint at a surrender, he gave them leave to tie him hand and foot, and throw him into the moat. If he should hear one of them talk of it, the admiral promised to do as much by him.[220]

The duc de Nevers, who had established himself, with the wreck of the French army and such additional levies as he could muster, in the neighborhood of St. Quentin, contrived to communicate with the admiral. On one occasion he succeeded in throwing a reinforcement of a hundred and twenty arquebusiers into the town, though it cost him thrice that number, cut to pieces by the Spaniards in the attempt. Still the number of the garrison was altogether inadequate to the duties imposed on it. With scanty refreshment, almost without repose, watching and fighting by turns, the day passed in defending the breaches which the night was not long enough to repair. No frame could be strong enough to endure it.

Coligni had, fortunately, the services of a skilful engineer, named St. Rémy, who aided him in repairing the injuries inflicted on the works by the artillery, and by the scarcely less destructive mines of the Spaniards. In the want of solid masonry, every material was resorted to for covering up the breaches. Timbers were thrown across; and boats filled with earth, laid on the broken rampart, afforded a good bulwark for the French musketeers. But the time was come when neither the skill of the engineer nor the courage of the garrison could further avail. Eleven practicable breaches had been opened, and St. Rémy assured the admiral that he could not engage to hold out four-and-twenty hours longer.[221]


The duke of Savoy also saw that the time had come to bring the siege to a close by a general assault. The twenty-seventh of August was the day assigned for it. On that preceding he fired three mines, which shook down some fragments of the wall, but did less execution than was expected. On the morning of the twenty-seventh, his whole force was under arms. The duke divided it into as many corps as there were breaches, placing these{99} corps under his best and bravest officers. He proposed to direct the assault in person.

Coligni made his preparations also with consummate coolness. He posted a body of troops at each of the breaches, while he and his brother Dandelot took charge of the two which, still more exposed than the others, might be considered as the post of danger. He had the satisfaction to find, in this hour of trial, that the men, as well as their officers, seemed to be animated with his own heroic spirit.

Before proceeding to storm the place, the duke of Savoy opened a brisk cannonade, in order to clear away the barricades of timber, and other temporary defences, which had been thrown across the breaches. The fire continued for several hours, and it was not till afternoon that the signal was given for the assault. The troops rushed forward,—Spaniards, Flemings, English, and Germans,—spurred on by feelings of national rivalry. A body of eight thousand brave Englishmen had joined the standard of Philip in the early part of the campaign;[222] and they now eagerly coveted the opportunity for distinction which had been denied them at the battle of St. Quentin, where the fortune of the day was chiefly decided by cavalry. But no troops felt so keen a spur to their achievements as the Spaniards, fighting as they were under the eye of their sovereign, who from a neighboring eminence was spectator of the combat.

The obstacles were not formidable in the path of the assailants, who soon clambered over the fragments of masonry and other rubbish which lay scattered below the ramparts, and, in the face of a steady fire of musketry, presented themselves before the breaches. The brave men stationed to defend them were in sufficient strength to occupy the open spaces; their elevated position gave them some advantage over the assailants, and they stood to their posts with the resolution of men prepared to die rather than surrender. A fierce conflict now ensued along the whole extent of the ramparts; and the French, sustained by a dauntless spirit, bore themselves as stoutly in the fight as if they had been in training for it of late, instead of being enfeebled by scanty subsistence and excessive toil. After a severe struggle, which lasted nearly an hour, the Spaniards were driven back at all points. Not a breach was won; and, broken and dispirited, the assailants were compelled to retire on their former position.

After this mortifying repulse, the duke did not give them a long time to breathe, before he again renewed the assault. This time he directed the main attack against a tower where the resistance had been weakest. In fact, Coligni had there placed the troops on whom he had least reliance, trusting to the greater strength of the works. But a strong heart is worth all the defences in the world. After a sharp but short struggle, the assailants succeeded in carrying the tower. The faint-hearted troops gave way; and the Spaniards, throwing themselves on the rampart, remained masters of one of the breaches. A footing once gained, the assailants poured impetuously into the opening, Spaniards, Germans, and English streaming like a torrent along the ramparts, and attacking the defenders on their flank. Coligni, meanwhile, and his brother Dandelot, had rushed, with a few followers, to the spot, in the hope, if possible, to arrest the impending ruin. But they were badly supported. Overwhelmed by numbers, they were trodden down, disarmed, and made prisoners. Still the garrison, at the remaining breaches, continued to make a desperate stand. But, with one corps pressing them on flank, and another in front, they were speedily cut to pieces, or disabled and{100} taken. In half an hour resistance had ceased along the ramparts. The town was in possession of the Spaniards.[223]

A scene of riot and wild uproar followed, such as made the late conflict seem tame in comparison. The victorious troops spread over the town in quest of plunder, perpetrating those deeds of ruthless violence, usual, even in this enlightened age, in a city taken by storm. The wretched inhabitants fled before them; the old and the helpless, the women and children, taking refuge in garrets, cellars, and any other corner where they could hide themselves from their pursuers. Nothing was to be heard but the groans of the wounded and the dying, the cries of women and children,—"so pitiful," says one present, "that they would grieve any Christian heart,"[224]—mingled, with the shouts of the victors, who, intoxicated with liquor, and loaded with booty, now madly set fire to several of the buildings, which soon added the dangers of conflagration to the other horrors of the scene. In a short time, the town would have been reduced to ashes, and the place which Philip had won at so much cost would have been lost to him by the excesses of his own soldiers.

The king had now entered the city in person. He had never been present at the storming of a place, and the dreadful spectacle which he witnessed touched his heart. Measures were instantly taken to extinguish the flames, and orders were issued that no one, under pain of death, should offer any violence to the old and infirm, to the women and children, to the ministers of religion, to religious edifices, or, above all, to the relics of the blessed St. Quentin. Several hundred of the poor people, it is said, presented themselves before Philip, and claimed his protection. By his command they were conducted, under a strong escort, to a place of safety.[225]

It was not possible, however, to prevent the pillage of the town. It would have been as easy to snatch the carcass from the tiger that was rending it. The pillage of a place taken by storm was regarded as the perquisite of the soldier, on which he counted as regularly as on his pay. Those who distinguished themselves most, in this ruthless work, were the German mercenaries. Their brutal rapacity filled even their confederates with indignation. The latter seem to have been particularly disgusted with the unscrupulous manner in which the schwarzreiters appropriated not only their own share of the plunder, but that of both English and Spaniards.[226]{101}


Thus fell the ancient town of St. Quentin, after a defence which reflects equal honor on the courage of the garrison, and on the conduct of their commander. With its fortifications wretchedly out of repair, its supplies of arms altogether inadequate, the number of its garrison at no time exceeding a thousand, it still held out for near a month against a powerful army, fighting under the eyes of its sovereign, and led by one of the best captains of Europe.[227]

Philip, having taken measures to restore the fortifications of St. Quentin, placed it under the protection of a Spanish garrison, and marched against the neighboring town of Catelet. It was a strong place, but its defenders, unlike their valiant countrymen at St. Quentin, after a brief show of resistance, capitulated on the sixth of September. This was followed by the surrender of Ham, once renowned through Picardy for the strength of its defences. Philip then led his victorious battalions against Noyon and Chaulny, which last town was sacked by the soldiers. The French were filled with consternation, as one strong place after another, on the frontier, fell into the hands of an enemy who seemed as if he were planting his foot permanently on their soil. That Philip did not profit by his success to push his conquests still further, is to be attributed not to remissness on his part, but to the conduct, or rather the composition, of his army, made up, as it was, of troops, who, selling their swords to the highest bidder, cared little for the banner under which they fought. Drawn from different countries, the soldiers, gathered into one camp, soon showed all their national rivalries and animosities. The English quarrelled with the Germans, and neither could brook the insolent bearing of the Spaniards. The Germans complained that their arrears were not paid,—a complaint probably well founded, as, notwithstanding his large resources, Philip, on an emergency, found the difficulty in raising funds, which every prince in that day felt, when there was no such thing known as a well-arranged system of taxation. Tempted by the superior offers of Henry the Second, the schwarzreiters left the standard of Philip in great numbers, to join that of his rival.

The English were equally discontented. They had brought from home the aversion for the Spaniards which had been festering there since the queen's marriage. The sturdy islanders were not at all pleased with serving under Philip. They were fighting, not the battles of England, they said, but of Spain. Every new conquest was adding to the power of a monarch far too powerful already. They had done enough, and insisted on being allowed to return to their own country. The king, who dreaded nothing so much as a rupture between his English and his Spanish subjects, to which he saw the state of things rapidly tending, was fain to consent.

By this departure of the English force, and the secession of the Germans, Philip's strength was so much impaired, that he was in no condition to make conquests, hardly to keep the field. The season was now far advanced, for{102} it was the end of October. Having, therefore, garrisoned the conquered places, and put them in the best posture of defence, he removed his camp to Brussels, and soon after put his army into winter-quarters.[228]

Thus ended the first campaign of Philip the Second; the first, and, with the exception of the following, the only campaign in which he was personally present. It had been eminently successful. Besides the important places which he had gained on the frontier of Picardy, he had won a signal victory in the field.

But the campaign was not so memorable for military results as in a moral view. It showed the nations of Europe that the Spanish sceptre had passed into the hands of a prince who was as watchful as his predecessor had been over the interests of the state; and who, if he were not so actively ambitious as Charles the Fifth, would be as little likely to brook any insult from his neighbors. The victory of St. Quentin, occurring at the commencement of his reign, reminded men of the victory won at Pavia by his father, at a similar period of his career, and, like that, furnished a brilliant augury for the future. Philip, little given to any visible expression of his feelings, testified his joy at the success of his arms, by afterwards raising the magnificent pile of the Escorial, in honor of the blessed martyr St. Lawrence, on whose day the battle was fought, and to whose interposition with Heaven he attributed the victory.



Extraordinary Efforts of France.—Calais surprised by Guise.—The French invade Flanders.—Bloody Battle of Gravelines.—Negotiations for Peace.—Mary's Death.—Accession of Elizabeth.—Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis.


The state of affairs in France justified Philip's conclusions in respect to the loyalty of the people. No sooner did Henry the Second receive tidings of the fatal battle of St. Quentin, than he despatched couriers in all directions, summoning his chivalry to gather round his banner, and calling on the towns for aid in his extremity. The nobles and cavaliers promptly responded to the call, flocking in with their retainers; and not only the large towns, but those of inferior size, cheerfully submitted to be heavily taxed for the public service. Paris nobly set the example. She did not exhaust her zeal in processions of the clergy, headed by the queen and the royal family, carrying with them relics from the different churches. All the citizens capable of bearing arms enrolled themselves for the defence of the capital; and large appropriations were made for strengthening Montmartre, and for defraying the expenses of the war.[229]


With these and other resources at his command, Henry was speedily enabled to subsidize a large body of Swiss and German mercenaries. The native troops serving abroad were ordered home. The veteran Marshal{103} Termes came, with a large corps, from Tuscany, and the duke of Guise returned, with the remnant of his battalions, from Rome. This popular commander was welcomed with enthusiasm. The nation seemed to look to him as to the deliverer of the country. His late campaign in the kingdom of Naples was celebrated as if it had been a brilliant career of victory. He was made lieutenant-general of the army, and the oldest captains were proud to take service under so renowned a chief.

The government was not slow to profit by the extraordinary resources thus placed at its disposal. Though in the depth of winter, it was resolved to undertake some enterprise that should retrieve the disasters of the late campaign, and raise the drooping spirits of the nation. The object proposed was the recovery of Calais, that strong place, which for more than two centuries had remained in possession of the English.

The French had ever been keenly sensible to the indignity of an enemy thus planting his foot immovably, as it were, on their soil. They had looked to the recovery of Calais with the same feelings with which the Spanish Moslems, when driven into Africa, looked to the recovery of their ancient possessions in Granada. They showed how constantly this was in their thoughts, by a common saying respecting any commander whom they held lightly, that he was "not a man to drive the English out of France."[230] The feelings they entertained, however, were rather those of desire than of expectation. The place was so strong, so well garrisoned, and so accessible to the English, that it seemed impregnable. These same circumstances, and the long possession of the place, had inspired the English, on the other hand, with no less confidence, as was pretty well intimated by an inscription on the bronze gates of the town,—"When the French besiege Calais, lead and iron will swim like cork."[231] This confidence, as it often happens, proved their ruin.

The bishop of Acqs, the French envoy to England, on returning home, a short time before this, had passed through Calais, and gave a strange report of the decay of the works, and the small number of the garrison, in short, of the defenceless condition of the place. Guise, however, as cautious as he was brave, was unwilling to undertake so hazardous an enterprise without more precise information. When satisfied of the fact, he entered on the project with his characteristic ardor. The plan adopted was said to have been originally suggested by Coligni. In order to deceive the enemy, the duke sent the largest division of the army, under Nevers, in the direction of Luxemburg. He then marched with the remainder into Picardy, as if to menace one of the places conquered by the Spaniards. Soon afterwards the two corps united, and Guise, at the head of his whole force, by a rapid march, presented himself before the walls of Calais.

The town was defended by a strong citadel, and by two forts. One of these, commanding the approach by water, the duke stormed and captured on the second of January, 1558. The other, which overlooked the land, he carried on the following day. Possessed of these two forts, he felt secure from any annoyance by the enemy, either by land or by water. He then turned his powerful battering-train against the citadel, keeping up a furious cannonade by day and by night. On the fifth, as soon as a breach was opened, the{104} victorious troops poured in, and, overpowering the garrison, planted the French colors on the walls. The earl of Wentworth, who commanded in Calais, unable, with his scanty garrison, to maintain the place now that the defences were in the hands of the enemy, capitulated on the eighth. The fall of Calais was succeeded by that of Guisnes and of Hames. Thus, in a few days the English were stripped of every rood of the territory which they had held in France since the time of Edward the Third.

The fall of Calais caused the deepest sensation on both sides of the Channel. The English, astounded by the event, loudly inveighed against the treachery of the commander. They should rather have blamed the treachery of their own government, who had so grossly neglected to provide for the defence of the place. Philip, suspecting the designs of the French, had intimated his suspicions to the English government, and had offered to strengthen the garrison by a reinforcement of his own troops. But his allies, perhaps distrusting his motives, despised his counsel, or at least failed to profit by it.[232] After the place was taken, he made another offer to send a strong force to recover it, provided the English would support him with a sufficient fleet. This also, perhaps from the same feeling of distrust, though on the plea of inability to meet the expense, was declined, and the opportunity for the recovery of Calais was lost for ever.[233]

Yet, in truth, it was no great loss to the nation. Like more than one, probably, of the colonial possessions of England at the present day, Calais cost every year more than it was worth. Its chief value was the facility it afforded for the invasion of France. Yet such a facility for war with their neighbors, always too popular with the English before the time of Philip the Second, was of questionable value. The real injury from the loss of Calais was the wound which it inflicted on the national honor.

The exultation of the French was boundless. It could not well have been greater, if the duke of Guise had crossed the Channel and taken London itself. The brilliant and rapid manner in which the exploit had been performed, the gallantry with which the young general had exposed his own person in the assault, the generosity with which he had divided his share of the booty among the soldiers, all struck the lively imagination of the French; and he became more than ever the idol of the people.

Yet, during the remainder of the campaign, his arms were not crowned with such distinguished success. In May he marched against the strong town of Thionville, in Luxemburg. After a siege of twenty days, the place surrendered. Having taken one or two other towns of less importance, the French army wasted nearly three weeks in a state of inaction, unless, indeed, we take into account the activity caused by intestine troubles of the army itself. It is difficult to criticize fairly the conduct of a commander of that age, when his levies were made up so largely of foreign mercenaries, who felt so little attachment to the service in which they were engaged, that they were ready to quarrel with it on the slightest occasion. Among these the German schwarzreiters were the most conspicuous, manifesting too often a degree of insolence and insubordination that made them hardly less dangerous as friends than as enemies. The importance they attached to their own services made them exorbitant in their demands of pay. When this, as was too frequently the case, was in arrears, they took the matter into their own hands, by pillaging the friendly country in which they were quartered, or by breaking out into open mutiny. A German baron, on one occasion, went so far as to level his pistol at the head of the duke of Guise. So widely did this{105} mutinous spirit extend, that it was only by singular coolness and address that this popular chieftain could bring these adventurers into anything like subjection to his authority. As it was, the loss of time caused by these troubles was attended with most disastrous consequences.


The duke had left Calais garrisoned by a strong force, under Marshal Termes. He had since ordered that veteran to take command of a body of fifteen hundred horse and five thousand foot, drawn partly from the garrison itself, and to march into West Flanders. Guise proposed to join him there with his own troops, when they would furnish such occupation to the Spaniards as would effectually prevent them from a second invasion of Picardy.

The plan was well designed, and the marshal faithfully executed his part of it. Taking the road by St. Omer, he entered Flanders in the neighborhood of Dunkirk, laid siege to that flourishing town, stormed and gave it up to pillage. He then penetrated as far as Nieuport, when the fatigue and the great heat of the weather brought on an attack of gout, which entirely disabled him. The officer on whom the command devolved allowed the men to spread themselves over the country, where they perpetrated such acts of rapacity and violence as were not sanctioned even by the code of that unscrupulous age. The wretched inhabitants, driven from their homes, called loudly on Count Egmont, their governor, to protect them. The duke of Savoy lay with his army, at this time, at Maubeuge, in the province of Namur; but he sent orders to Egmont to muster such forces as he could raise in the neighboring country, and to intercept the retreat of the French, until the duke could come to his support and chastise the enemy.

Egmont, indignant at the wrongs of his countrymen, and burning with the desire of revenge, showed the greatest alacrity in obeying these orders. Volunteers came in from all sides, and he soon found himself at the head of an army consisting of ten or twelve thousand foot and two thousand horse. With these he crossed the borders at once, and sent forward a detachment to occupy the great road by which De Termes had penetrated into Flanders.

The French commander, advised too late of these movements, saw that it was necessary to abandon at once his present quarters, and secure, if possible, his retreat. Guise was at a distance, occupied with the troubles of his own camp. The Flemings had possession of the route by which the marshal had entered the country. One other lay open to him along the sea-shore, in the neighborhood of Gravelines, where the Aa pours its waters into the ocean. By taking advantage of the ebb, the river might be forded, and a direct road to Calais would be presented.

Termes saw that no time was to be lost. He caused himself to be removed from his sick-bed to a litter, and began his retreat at once. On leaving Dunkirk, he fired the town, where the houses were all that remained to the wretched inhabitants of their property. His march was impeded by his artillery, by his baggage, and especially by the booty which he was conveying back from the plundered provinces. He however succeeded in crossing the Aa at low water, and gained the sands on the opposite side. But the enemy was there before him.[234]

Egmont, on getting tidings of the marshal's movements, had crossed the river higher up, where the stream was narrower. Disencumbering himself of artillery, and even of baggage, in order to move the lighter, he made a rapid{106} march to the sea-side, and reached it in time to intercept the enemy. There was no choice left for Termes but to fight his way through the Spaniards or surrender.

Ill as he was, the marshal mounted his horse, and addressed a few words to his troops. Pointing in the direction of the blazing ruins of Dunkirk, he told them that they could not return there. Then turning towards Calais, "There is your home," he said, "and you must beat the enemy before you can gain it." He determined, however, not to begin the action, but to secure his position as strongly as he could, and wait the assault of the Spaniards.

He placed his infantry in the centre, and flanked it on either side by his cavalry. In the front he established his artillery, consisting of six or seven falconets,—field-pieces of smaller size. He threw a considerable body of Gascon pikemen in the rear, to act as a reserve wherever their presence should be required. The river Aa, which flowed behind his troops, formed also a good protection in that quarter. His left wing he covered by a barricade made of the baggage and artillery wagons. His right, which rested on the ocean, seemed secure from any annoyance on that side.

Count Egmont, seeing the French thus preparing to give battle, quickly made his own dispositions. He formed his cavalry into three divisions. The centre he proposed to lead in person. It was made up chiefly of the heavy men-at-arms and some Flemish horse. On the right he placed his light cavalry, and on the left wing rode the Spanish. His infantry he drew up in such a manner as to support the several divisions of horse. Having completed his arrangements, he gave orders to the centre and the right wing to charge, and rode at full gallop against the enemy.

Though somewhat annoyed by the heavy guns in their advance, the battalions came on in good order, and fell with such fury on the French left and centre, that horse and foot were borne down by the violence of the shock. But the French gentlemen who formed the cavalry were of the same high mettle as those who fought at St. Quentin. Though borne down for a moment, they were not overpowered; and, after a desperate struggle, they succeeded in rallying and in driving back the assailants. Egmont returned to the charge, but was forced back with greater loss than before. The French, following up their advantage, compelled the assailants to retreat on their own lines. The guns, at the same time, opening on the exposed flank of the retreating troopers, did them considerable mischief. Egmont's horse was killed under him, and he had nearly been run over by his own followers. In the mean while, the Gascon reserve, armed with their long spears, pushed on to the support of the cavalry, and filled the air with their shouts of "Victory!"[235]

The field seemed to be already lost; when the left wing of Spanish horse, which had not yet come into action, seeing the disorderly state of the French, as they were pressing on, charged them briskly on the flank. This had the effect to check the tide of pursuit, and give the fugitives time to rally. Egmont, meanwhile, was mounted on a fresh horse, and, throwing himself into the midst of his followers, endeavored to reanimate their courage and reform their disordered ranks. Then, cheering them on by his voice and example, he cried out, "We are conquerors! Those who love glory and their fatherland, follow me!"[236] and spurred furiously against the enemy.


The French, hard pressed both on front and on flank, fell back in their turn, and continued to retreat till they had gained their former position. At the{107} same time, the lanzknechts in Egmont's service, marched up, in defiance of the fire of the artillery, and got possession of the guns, running the men who had charge of them through with their lances.[237] The fight now became general; and, as the combatants were brought into close quarters, they fought as men fight where numbers are nearly balanced, and each one seems to feel that his own arm may turn the scale of victory. The result was brought about by an event which neither party could control, and neither have foreseen.

An English squadron of ten or twelve vessels lay at some distance, but out of sight of the combatants. Attracted by the noise of the firing, its commander drew near the scene of action, and, ranging along shore, opened his fire on the right wing of the French, nearest the sea.[238] The shot, probably, from the distance of the ships, did no great execution, and is even said to have killed some of the Spaniards. But it spread a panic among the French, as they found themselves assailed by a new enemy, who seemed to have risen from the depths of the ocean. In their eagerness to extricate themselves from the fire, the cavalry on the right threw themselves on the centre, trampling down their own comrades, until all discipline was lost, and horse and foot became mingled together in wild disorder. Egmont profited by the opportunity to renew his charge; and at length, completely broken and dispirited, the enemy gave way in all directions. The stout body of Gascons who formed the reserve alone held their ground for a time, until, vigorously charged by the phalanx of Spanish spearmen, they broke, and were scattered like the rest.

The rout was now general, and the victorious cavalry rode over the field, trampling and cutting down the fugitives on all sides. Many who did not fall under their swords perished in the waters of the Aa, now swollen by the rising tide. Others were drowned in the ocean. No less than fifteen hundred of those who escaped from the field are said to have been killed by the peasantry, who occupied the passes, and thus took bloody revenge for the injuries inflicted on their country.[239] Two thousand French are stated to have fallen on the field, and not more than five hundred Spaniards, or rather Flemings, who composed the bulk of the army. The loss fell most severely on the French cavalry; severely indeed, if, according to some accounts, not very credible, they were cut to pieces almost to a man.[240] The number of prisoners was three thousand. Among them was Marshal Termes himself, who had been disabled by a wound in the head. All the baggage, the ammunition, and the rich spoil gleaned by the foray into Flanders, became the prize of the victors.—Although not so important for the amount of forces engaged, the victory of Gravelines was as complete as that of St. Quentin.[241]{108}

Yet the French, who had a powerful army on foot, were in better condition to meet their reverses than on that day. The duke of Guise, on receiving the tidings, instantly marched with his whole force, and posted himself strongly behind the Somme, in order to cover Picardy from invasion. The duke of Savoy, uniting his forces with those of Count Egmont, took up a position along the line of the Authie, and made demonstrations of laying siege to Dourlens. The French and Spanish monarchs both took the field. So well appointed and large a force as that led by Henry had not been seen in France for many a year; yet that monarch might justly be mortified by the reflection that the greater part of this force was made up of foreign mercenaries, amounting, it is said, to forty thousand. Philip was in equal strength, and the length of the war had enabled him to assemble his best captains around him. Among them was Alva, whose cautious councils might serve to temper the bolder enterprise of the duke of Savoy.

A level ground, four leagues in breadth, lay between the armies. Skirmishes took place occasionally between the light troops on either side, and a general engagement might be brought on at any moment. All eyes were turned to the battle-field, where the two greatest princes of Europe might so soon contend for mastery with each other. Had the fathers of these princes, Charles the Fifth and Francis the First, been in the field, such very probably would have been the issue. But Philip was not disposed to risk the certain advantages he had already gained by a final appeal to arms. And Henry was still less inclined to peril all—his capital, perhaps his crown—on the hazard of a single cast.


There were many circumstances which tended to make both monarchs prefer a more peaceful arbitrament of their quarrel, and to disgust them with the war. Among these was the ruinous state of their finances.[242] When Ruy Gomez de Silva, as has been already stated, was sent to Spain by Philip, he was commanded to avail himself of every expedient that could be devised to raise money. Offices were put up for sale to the highest bidder. The public revenues were mortgaged. Large sums were obtained from merchants at exorbitant rates of interest. Forced loans were exacted from individuals, especially from such as were known to have received large returns by the late arrivals from the New World. Three hundred thousand ducats were raised on the security of the coming fair at Villalon. The Regent Joanna was persuaded to sell her yearly pension, assigned her on the alcavala, for a downright sum{109} to meet the exigencies of the state. Goods were obtained from the king of Portugal, in order to be sent to Flanders for the profit to be raised on the sale.[243] Such were the wretched devices by which Philip, who inherited this policy of temporizing expedients from his father, endeavored to replenish his exhausted treasury. Besides the sums drawn from Castile, the king obtained also no less than a million and a half of ducats, as an extraordinary grant from the states of the Netherlands.[244] Yet these sums, large as they were, were soon absorbed by the expense of keeping armies on foot in France and in Italy. Philip's correspondence with his ministers teems with representations of the low state of his finances, of the arrears due to his troops, and the necessity of immediate supplies to save him from bankruptcy. The prospects the ministers hold out to him in return are anything but encouraging.[245]

Another circumstance which made both princes desire the termination of the war was the disturbed state of their own kingdoms. The Protestant heresy had already begun to rear its formidable crest in the Netherlands; and the Huguenots were beginning to claim the notice of the French government. Henry the Second, who was penetrated, as much as Philip himself, with the spirit of the Inquisition, longed for leisure to crush the heretical doctrines in the bud. In this pious purpose he was encouraged by Paul the Fourth, who, now that he was himself restrained from levying war against his neighbors, seemed resolved that no one else should claim that indulgence. He sent legates to both Henry and Philip, conjuring them, instead of warring with each other, to turn their arms against the heretics in their dominions, who were sapping the foundations of the Church.[246]

The pacific disposition of the two monarchs was, moreover, fostered by the French prisoners, and especially by Montmorency, whose authority had been such at court, that Charles the Fifth declared "his capture was more important than would have been that of the king himself."[247] The old constable was most anxious to return to his own country, where he saw with uneasiness the ascendancy which his absence and the prolongation of the war were giving to his rival, Guise, in the royal counsels. Through him negotiations were opened with the French court, until, Henry the Second thinking, with good reason, that these negotiations would be better conducted by a regular congress than by prisoners in the custody of his enemies, commissioners were appointed on both sides, to arrange the terms of accommodation.[248] Montmorency{110} and his fellow-captive, Marshal St. André, were included in the commission. But the person of most importance in it, on the part of France, was the cardinal of Lorraine, brother of the duke of Guise, a man of a subtle, intriguing temper, and one who, like the rest of his family, notwithstanding his pacific demonstrations, may be said to have represented the war party in France[249]

On the part of Spain the agents selected were the men most conspicuous for talent and authority in the kingdom; the names of some of whom, whether for good or for evil report, remain immortal on the page of history. Among these were the duke of Alva and his great antagonist,—as he became afterwards in the Netherlands,—William of Orange. But the principal person in the commission, the man who in fact directed it, was Anthony Perrenot, bishop of Arras, better known by his later title of Cardinal Granvelle. He was son of the celebrated chancellor of that name under Charles the Fifth, by whom he was early trained, not so much to the duties of the ecclesiastical profession as of public life. He profited so well by the instruction, that, in the emperor's time, he succeeded his father in the royal confidence, and surpassed him in his talent for affairs. His accommodating temper combined with his zeal for the interests of Philip to recommend Granvelle to the favor of that monarch; and his insinuating address and knowledge of character well qualified him for conducting a negotiation where there were so many jarring feelings to be brought into concord, so many hostile and perplexing interests to be reconciled.

As a suspension of hostilities was agreed on during the continuance of the negotiations, it was decided to remove the armies from the neighborhood of each other, where a single spark might at any time lead to a general explosion. A still stronger earnest was given of their pacific intentions, by both the monarchs disbanding part of their foreign mercenaries, whose services were purchased at a ruinous cost, that made one of the great evils of the war.

The congress met on the fifteenth of October, 1558, at the abbey of Cercamps, near Cambray. Between parties so well disposed, it might be thought that some general terms of accommodation would soon be settled. But the war, which ran back pretty far into Charles the Fifth's time, had continued so long, that many territories had changed masters during the contest, and it was not easy to adjust the respective claims to them. The duke of Savoy's dominions, for example, had passed into the hands of Henry the Second, who, moreover, asserted an hereditary right to them through his grandmother. Yet it was not possible for Philip to abandon his ally, the man whom he had placed at the head of his armies. But the greatest obstacle was Calais. "If we return without the recovery of Calais," said the English envoys, who also took part in this congress, "we shall be stoned to death by the people."[250]{111}


Philip supported the claim of England; and yet it was evident that France would never relinquish a post so important to herself, which, after so many years of hope deferred, had at last come again into her possession. While engaged in the almost hopeless task of adjusting these differences, an event occurred which suspended the negotiations for a time, and exercised an important influence on the affairs of Europe. This was the death of one of the parties to the war, Queen Mary of England.

Mary's health had been fast declining of late, under the pressure of both mental and bodily disease. The loss of Calais bore heavily on her spirits, as she thought of the reproach it would bring on her reign, and the increased unpopularity it would draw upon herself. "When I die," she said, in the strong language since made familiar to Englishmen by the similar expression of their great admiral, "Calais will be found written on my heart."[251]

Philip, who was not fully apprised of the queen's low condition, early in November sent the count, afterwards duke, of Feria as his envoy to London, with letters for Mary. This nobleman, who had married one of the queen's maids of honor, stood high in the favor of his master. With courtly manners, and a magnificent way of living, he combined a shrewdness and solidity of judgment, that eminently fitted him for his present mission. The queen received with great joy the letters which he brought her, though too ill to read them. Feria, seeing the low state of Mary's health, was earnest with the council to secure the succession for Elizabeth.

He had the honor of supping with the princess at her residence in Hatfield, about eighteen miles from London. The Spaniard enlarged, in the course of conversation, on the good-will of his master to Elizabeth, as shown in the friendly offices he had rendered her during her imprisonment, and his desire to have her succeed to the crown. The envoy did not add that this desire was prompted not so much by the king's concern for the interests of Elizabeth as by his jealousy of the French, who seemed willing to countenance the pretensions of Mary Stuart, the wife of the dauphin, to the English throne.[252] The princess acknowledged the protection she had received from Philip in her troubles. "But for her present prospects," she said, "she was indebted neither to the king nor to the English lords, however much these latter might vaunt their fidelity. It was to the people that she owed them, and on the people she relied."[253] This answer of Elizabeth furnishes the key to her success.

The penetrating eye of the envoy soon perceived that the English princess was under evil influences. The persons most in her confidence, he wrote, were understood to have a decided leaning to the Lutheran heresy, and he augured most unfavorably for the future prospects of the kingdom.{112}

On the seventeenth of November, 1558, after a brief, but most disastrous reign, Queen Mary died. Her fate had been a hard one. Unimpeachable in her private life, and, however misguided, with deeply-seated religious principles, she has yet left a name held in more general execration than any other on the roll of English sovereigns. One obvious way of accounting for this, doubtless, is by the spirit of persecution which hung like a dark cloud over her reign. And this not merely on account of the persecution; for that was common with the line of Tudor; but because it was directed against the professors of a religion which came to be the established religion of the country. Thus the blood of the martyr became the seed of a great and powerful church, ready through all after time to bear testimony to the ruthless violence of its oppressor.

There was still another cause of Mary's unpopularity. The daughter of Katharine of Aragon could not fail to be nurtured in a reverence for the illustrious line from which she was descended. The education begun in the cradle was continued in later years. When the young princess was betrothed to her cousin, Charles the Fifth, it was stipulated that she should be made acquainted with the language and the institutions of Castile, and should even wear the costume of the country. "And who," exclaimed Henry the Eighth, "is so well fitted to instruct her in all this as the queen, her mother?" Even after the match with her imperial suitor was broken off by his marriage with the Portuguese infanta, Charles still continued to take a lively interest in the fortunes of his young kinswoman; while she, in her turn, naturally looked to the emperor, as her nearest relative, for counsel and support. Thus drawn towards Spain by the ties of kindred, by sympathy, and by interest, Mary became in truth more of a Spanish than an English woman; and when all this was completed by the odious Spanish match, and she gave her hand to Philip the Second, the last tie seemed to be severed which had bound her to her native land. Thenceforth she remained an alien in the midst of her own subjects.—Very different was the fate of her sister and successor, Elizabeth, who ruled over her people like a true-hearted English queen, under no influence, and with no interests distinct from theirs. She was requited for it by the most loyal devotion on their part; while round her throne have gathered those patriotic recollections which, in spite of her many errors, still render her name dear to Englishmen.

On the death of her sister, Elizabeth, without opposition, ascended the throne of her ancestors. It may not be displeasing to the reader to see the portrait of her sketched by the Venetian minister at this period, or rather two years earlier, when she was twenty-three years of age. "The princess," he says, "is as beautiful in mind as she is in body; though her countenance is rather pleasing from its expression, than beautiful.[254] She is large and well-made; her complexion clear, and of an olive tint; her eyes are fine, and her hands, on which she prides herself, small and delicate. She has an excellent genius, with much address and self-command, as was abundantly shown in the severe trials to which she was exposed in the earlier part of her life. In her temper she is haughty and imperious, qualities inherited from her father, King Henry the Eighth, who, from her resemblance to himself, is said to have regarded her with peculiar fondness."[255]—He had, it must be owned, an uncommon way of showing it.



One of the first acts of Elizabeth was to write an elegant Latin epistle to Philip, in which she acquainted him with her accession to the crown, and expressed the hope that they should continue to maintain "the same friendly relations as their ancestors had done, and, if possible, more friendly."

Philip received the tidings of his wife's death at Brussels, where her obsequies were celebrated, with great solemnity, on the same day with her funeral in London. All outward show of respect was paid to her memory. But it is doing no injustice to Philip to suppose that his heart was not very deeply touched by the loss of a wife so many years older than himself, whose temper had been soured, and whose personal attractions, such as they were, had long since faded under the pressure of disease. Still, it was not without feelings of deep regret that the ambitious monarch saw the sceptre of England—barren though it had proved to him—thus suddenly snatched from his grasp.

We have already seen that Philip, during his residence in the country, had occasion more than once to interpose his good offices in behalf of Elizabeth. It was perhaps the friendly relation in which he thus stood to her, quite as much as her personal qualities, that excited in the king a degree of interest which seems to have provoked something like jealousy in the bosom of his queen.[256] However this may be, motives of a very different character from those founded on sentiment now determined him to retain, if possible, his hold on England, by transferring to Elizabeth the connection which had subsisted with Mary.

A month had not elapsed since Mary's remains were laid in Westminster Abbey, when the royal widower made direct offers, through his ambassador, Feria, for the hand of her successor. Yet his ardor did not precipitate him into any unqualified declaration of his passion; on the contrary, his proposals were limited by some very prudent conditions.

It was to be understood that Elizabeth must be a Roman Catholic, and, if not one already, must repudiate her errors and become one. She was to obtain a dispensation from the pope for the marriage. Philip was to be allowed to visit Spain, whenever he deemed it necessary for the interests of that kingdom;—a provision which seems to show that Mary's over-fondness, or her jealousy, must have occasioned him some inconvenience on that score. It was further to be stipulated, that the issue of the marriage should not, as was agreed in the contract with Mary, inherit the Netherlands, which were to pass to his son Don Carlos, the prince of Asturias.

Feria was directed to make these proposals by word of mouth, not in writing, "although," adds his considerate master, "it is no disgrace for a man to have his proposals rejected, when they are founded, not on worldly considerations, but on zeal for his Maker and the interests of religion."

Elizabeth received the offer of Philip's hand, qualified as it was, in the most gracious manner. She told the ambassador, indeed, that, "in a matter of this kind, she could take no step without consulting her parliament. But his master might rest assured, that, should she be induced to marry, there{114} was no man she should prefer to him."[257] Philip seems to have been contented with the encouragement thus given, and shortly after he addressed Elizabeth a letter, written with his own hand, in which he endeavored to impress on her how much he had at heart the successes of his ambassador's mission.

The course of events in England, however, soon showed that such success was not to be relied on, and that Feria's prognostics in regard to the policy of Elizabeth were well founded. Parliament soon entered on the measures which ended in the subversion of the Roman Catholic, and the restoration of the Reformed religion. And it was very evident that these measures, if not originally dictated by the queen, must at least have received her sanction.

Philip, in consequence, took counsel with two of his ministers, on whom he most relied, as to the expediency of addressing Elizabeth on the subject, and telling her plainly, that, unless she openly disavowed the proceedings of parliament, the marriage could not take place.[258] Her vanity should be soothed by the expressions of his regret at being obliged to relinquish the hopes of her hand. But, as her lover modestly remarked, after this candid statement of all the consequences before her, whatever the result might be, she would have no one to blame but herself.[259] His sage advisers, probably not often called to deliberate on questions of this delicate nature, entirely concurred in opinion with their master. In any event, they regarded it as impossible that he should wed a Protestant.

What effect this frank remonstrance had on the queen we are not told. Certain it is, Philip's suit no longer sped so favorably as before. Elizabeth, throwing off all disguise, plainly told Feria, when pressed on the matter, that she felt great scruples as to seeking a dispensation from the pope;[260] and soon after she openly declared in parliament, what she was in the habit of repeating so often, that she had no other purpose but to live and die a maid.[261]—It can hardly be supposed that Elizabeth entertained serious thoughts, at any time, of marrying Philip. If she encouraged his addresses, it was only until she felt herself so securely seated on the throne, that she was independent of the ill-will she would incur by their rejection. It was a game in which the heart, probably, formed no part of the stake on either side. In this game, it must be confessed, the English queen showed herself the better player of the two.


Philip bore his disappointment with great equanimity. He expressed his regret to Elizabeth that she should have decided in a way so contrary to what the public interests seemed to demand. But since it appeared to her otherwise,{115} he should acquiesce, and only hoped that the same end might be attained by the continuance of their friendship.[262] With all this philosophy, we may well believe that, with a character like that of Philip, some bitterness must have remained in the heart; and that, very probably, feelings of a personal nature mingled with those of a political in the long hostilities which he afterwards carried on with the English queen.

In the month of February, the conferences for the treaty of peace had been resumed, and the place of meeting changed from the abbey of Cercamps to Cateau-Cambresis. The negotiations were urged forward with greater earnestness than before, as both the monarchs were more sorely pressed by their necessities. Philip, in particular, was so largely in arrears to his army, that he frankly told his ministers "he was on the brink of ruin, from which nothing but a peace could save him."[263] It might be supposed that, in this state of things, he would be placed in a disadvantageous attitude for arranging terms with his adversary. But Philip and his ministers put the best face possible on their affairs, affecting a confidence in their resources, before their allies as well as their enemies, which they were far from feeling; like some half-famished garrison, which makes a brave show of its scanty stock of supplies, in order to win better terms from the besiegers.[264]

All the difficulties were at length cleared away, except the vexed question of Calais. The English queen, it was currently said in the camp, would cut off the head of any minister who abandoned it. Mary, the young queen of Scots, had just been married to the French dauphin, afterwards Francis the Second. It was proposed that the eldest daughter born of this union should be united to the eldest son of Elizabeth, and bring with her Calais as a dowry. In this way, the place would be restored to England without dishonor to France.[265] Such were the wild expedients to which the parties resorted in the hope of extricating themselves from their embarrassment!

At length, seeing the absolute necessity of bringing the matter to an issue, Philip ordered the Spanish plenipotentiaries to write his final instructions to Feria, his minister in London. The envoy was authorized to say, that,{116} although England had lost Calais through her own negligence, yet Philip would stand faithfully by her for the recovery of it. But, on the other hand, she must be prepared to support him with her whole strength by land and by sea, and that not for a single campaign, but for the war so long as it lasted. The government should ponder well whether the prize would be worth the cost. Feria must bring the matter home to the queen, and lead her, if possible, to the desired conclusion; but so that she might appear to come to it by her own suggestion rather than by his. The responsibility must be left with her.[266] The letter of the plenipotentiaries, which is a very long one, is a model in its way, and shows that, in some particulars, the science of diplomacy has gained little since the sixteenth century.

Elizabeth needed no argument to make her weary of a war which hung like a dark cloud on the morning of her reign. Her disquietude had been increased by the fact of Scotland having become a party to the war; and hostilities, with little credit to that country, had broken out along the borders. Her own kingdom was in no condition to allow her to make the extraordinary efforts demanded by Philip. Yet it was plain if she did not make them, or consent to come into the treaty, she must be left to carry on the war by herself. Under these circumstances, the English government at last consented to an arrangement, which, if it did not save Calais, so far saved appearances that it might satisfy the nation. It was agreed that Calais should be restored at the end of eight years. If France failed to do this, she was to pay five hundred thousand crowns to England, whose claims to Calais would not, however, be affected by such a payment. Should either of the parties, or their subjects, during that period, do anything in contravention of this treaty, or in violation of the peace between the two countries, the offending party should forfeit all claim to the disputed territory.[267] It was not very probable that eight years would elapse without affording some plausible pretext to France, under such a provision, for keeping her hold on Calais.

The treaty with England was signed on the second of April, 1559. On the day following was signed that between France and Spain. By the provisions of this treaty, the allies of Philip, Savoy, Mantua, Genoa, were reinstated in the possession of the territories of which they had been stripped in the first years of the war. Four or five places of importance in Savoy were alone reserved, to be held as guaranties by the French king, until his claim to the inheritance of that kingdom was determined.

The conquests made by Philip in Picardy were to be exchanged for those gained by the French in Italy and the Netherlands. The exchange was greatly for the benefit of Philip. In the time of Charles the Fifth, the Spanish arms had experienced some severe reverses, and the king now received more than two hundred towns in return for the five places he held in Picardy.[268]


Terms so disadvantageous to France roused the indignation of the duke of Guise, who told Henry plainly, that a stroke of his pen would cost the country{117} more than thirty years of war. "Give me the poorest of the places you are to surrender," said he, "and I will undertake to hold it against all the armies of Spain!"[269] But Henry sighed for peace, and for the return of his friend, the constable. He affected much deference to the opinions of the duke. But he wrote to Montmorency that the Guises were at their old tricks,[270]—and he ratified the treaty.

The day on which the plenipotentiaries of the three great powers had completed their work, they went in solemn procession to the church, and returned thanks to the Almighty for the happy consummation of their labors. The treaty was then made public; and, notwithstanding the unfavorable import of the terms to France, the peace, if we except some ambitious spirits, who would have found their account in the continuance of hostilities, was welcomed with joy by the whole nation. In this sentiment all the parties to the war participated. The more remote, like Spain, rejoiced to be delivered from a contest which made such large drains on their finances; while France had an additional reason for desiring peace, now that her own territory had become the theatre of war.

The reputation which Philip had acquired by his campaigns was greatly heightened by the result of his negotiations. The whole course of these negotiations—long and intricate as it was—is laid open to us in the correspondence fortunately preserved among the papers of Granvelle; and the student who explores these pages may probably rise from them with the conviction that the Spanish plenipotentiaries showed an address, a knowledge of the men they had to deal with, and a consummate policy, in which neither their French nor English rivals were a match for them. The negotiation all passed under the eyes of Philip. Every move in the game, if not by his suggestion, had been made at least with his sanction. The result placed him in honorable contrast to Henry the Second, who, while Philip had stood firmly by his allies, had, in his eagerness for peace, abandoned those of France to their fate.

The early campaigns of Philip had wiped away the disgrace caused by the closing campaigns of Charles the Fifth; and by the treaty he had negotiated, the number of towns which he lost was less than that of provinces which he gained.[271] Thus he had shown himself as skilful in counsel as he had been successful in the field. Victorious in Picardy and in Naples, he had obtained the terms of a victor from the king of France, and humbled the arrogance of Rome, in a war to which he had been driven in self-defence.[272] Faithful to his allies and formidable to his foes, there was probably no period of Philip's life{118} in which he possessed so much real consideration in the eyes of Europe, as at the time of signing the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis.

In order to cement the union between the different powers, and to conciliate the good-will of the French nation to the treaty by giving it somewhat of the air of a marriage contract, it was proposed that an alliance should take place between the royal houses of France and Spain. It was first arranged that the hand of Henry's daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, should be given to Carlos, the son and heir of Philip. The parties were of nearly the same age, being each about fourteen years old. Now that all prospect of the English match had vanished, it was thought to be a greater compliment to the French to substitute the father for the son, the monarch himself for the heir apparent, in the marriage treaty. The disparity of years between Philip and Elizabeth was not such as to present any serious objection. The proposition was said to have come from the French negotiators. The Spanish envoys replied, that, notwithstanding their master's repugnance to entering again into wedlock, yet, from his regard to the French monarch, and his desire for the public weal, he would consent to waive his scruples, and accept the hand of the French princess, with the same dowry which had been promised to his son Don Carlos.[273]

Queen Elizabeth seems to have been not a little piqued by the intelligence that Philip had so soon consoled himself for the failure of his suit to her. "Your master," said she, in a petulant tone, to Feria, "must have been much in love with me not to be able to wait four months!" The ambassador answered somewhat bluntly, by throwing the blame of the affair on the queen herself. "Not so," she retorted, "I never gave your king a decided answer." "True," said Feria, "the refusal was only implied, for I would not urge your highness to a downright 'No,' lest it might prove a cause of offence between so great princes."[274]

In June, 1559, the duke of Alva entered France for the purpose of claiming the royal bride, and espousing her in the name of his master. He was accompanied by Ruy Gomez, count of Melito,—better known by his title of prince of Eboli,—by the prince of Orange, the Count Egmont, and other noblemen, whose high rank and character might give lustre to the embassy. He was received in great state by Henry, who, with his whole court, seemed anxious to show to the envoy every mark of respect that could testify their satisfaction with the object of his mission. The duke displayed all the stately demeanor of a true Spanish hidalgo. Although he conformed to the French usage by saluting the ladies of the court, he declined taking this liberty with his future queen, or covering himself, as repeatedly urged, in her presence,—a piece of punctilio greatly admired by the French, as altogether worthy of the noble Castilian breeding.[275]



On the twenty-fourth of June, the marriage of the young princess was celebrated in the church of St. Mary. King Henry gave his daughter away. The duke of Alva acted as his sovereign's proxy. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the prince of Eboli placed on the finger of the princess, as a memento from her lord, a diamond ring of inestimable value; and the beautiful Elizabeth, the destined bride of Don Carlos, became the bride of the king his father. It was an ominous union, destined, in its mysterious consequences, to supply a richer theme for the pages of romance than for those of history.

The wedding was followed by a succession of brilliant entertainments, the chief of which was the tournament,—the most splendid pageant of that spectacle-loving age. Henry was, at that time, busily occupied with the work of exterminating the Protestant heresy, which, as already noticed, had begun to gather formidable head in the capital of his dominions.[276] On the evening of the fifteenth of June, he attended a session of the parliament, and arrested some of its principal members for the boldness of their speech in his presence. He ordered them into confinement, deferring their sentence till the termination of the engrossing business of the tourney.

The king delighted in these martial exercises, in which he could display his showy person and matchless horsemanship in the presence of the assembled beauty and fashion of his court.[277] He fully maintained his reputation on this occasion, carrying off one prize after another, and bearing down all who encountered his lance. Towards evening, when the games had drawn to a close, he observed the young count of Montgomery, a Scotch noble, the captain of his guard, leaning on his lance, as yet unbroken. The king challenged the cavalier to run a course with him for his lady's sake. In vain the queen, with a melancholy boding of some disaster, besought her lord to remain content with the laurels he had already won. Henry obstinately urged his fate, and compelled the count, though extremely loth, to take the saddle. The champions met with a furious shock in the middle of the lists. Montgomery was a rude jouster. He directed his lance with such force against the helmet of his antagonist, that the bars of the visor gave way. The lance splintered; a fragment struck the king with such violence on the temple as to lay bare the eye. The unhappy monarch reeled in his saddle, and would have fallen but for the assistance of the constable, the duke of Guise, and other nobles, who bore him in their arms senseless from the lists. Henry's wound was mortal.{120} He lingered ten days in great agony, and expired on the ninth of July, in the forty-second year of his age, and the thirteenth of his reign. It was an ill augury for the nuptials of Elizabeth.[278]

The tidings of the king's death were received with demonstrations of sorrow throughout the kingdom. He had none of those solid qualities which make either a great or a good prince. But he had the showy qualities which are perhaps more effectual to secure the affections of a people as fond of show as the nation whom Henry governed.[279] There were others in the kingdom, however,—that growing sect of the Huguenots,—who looked on the monarch's death with very different eyes,—who rejoiced in it as a deliverance from persecution. They had little cause to rejoice. The sceptre passed into the hands of a line of imbecile princes, or rather of their mother, the famous Catherine de Medicis, who reigned in their stead, and who ultimately proved herself the most merciless foe the Huguenots ever encountered.



Charles at Yuste.—His Mode of Life.—Interest in Public Affairs.—Celebrates his Obsequies.—Last Illness.—Death and Character.


While the occurrences related in the preceding chapter were passing, an event took place which, had it happened earlier, would have had an important influence on the politics of Europe, and the news of which, when it did happen, was everywhere received with the greatest interest. This event was the death of the Emperor Charles the Fifth, in his monastic retreat at Yuste. In the earlier pages of our narrative, we have seen how that monarch, after his abdication of the throne, withdrew to the Jeronymite convent among the hills of Estremadura. The reader may now feel some interest in following him thither, and in observing in what manner he accommodated himself to the change, and passed the closing days of his eventful life. The picture I am enabled to give of it will differ in some respects from those of former historians, who wrote when the Archives of Simancas, which afford the most authentic records for the narrative, were inaccessible to the scholar, native as well as foreign.[280]


Charles, as we have seen, had early formed the determination to relinquish{121} at some future time the cares of royalty, and devote himself, in some lonely retreat to the good work of his salvation. His consort, the Empress Isabella, as appears from his own statement at Yuste, had avowed the same pious purpose.[281] She died, however, too early to execute her plan; and Charles was too much occupied with his ambitious enterprises to accomplish his object until the autumn of 1555, when, broken in health and spirits, and disgusted with the world, he resigned the sceptre he had held for forty years, and withdrew to a life of obscurity and repose.

The spot he had selected for his residence was situated about seven leagues from the city of Plasencia, on the slopes of the mountain chain that traverses the province of Estremadura. There, nestling among the rugged hills, clothed with thick woods of chestnut and oak, the Jeronymite convent was sheltered from the rude breezes of the north. Towards the south, the land sloped by a gradual declivity, till it terminated in a broad expanse, the Vera of Plasencia, as it was called, which, fertilized by the streams of the sierra, contrasted strongly in its glowing vegetation with the wild character of the mountain scenery. It was a spot well fitted for such as would withdraw themselves from commerce with the world, and consecrate their days to prayer and holy meditation. The Jeronymite fraternity had prospered in this peaceful abode. Many of the monks had acquired reputation for sanctity, and some of them for learning, the fruits of which might be seen in a large collection of manuscripts preserved in the library of the monastery. Benefactions were heaped on the brotherhood. They became proprietors of considerable tracts of land in the neighborhood, and they liberally employed their means in dispensing alms to the poor who sought it at the gate of the convent. Not long before Charles took up his residence among them, they had enlarged their building by an extensive quadrangle, which displayed some architectural elegance in the construction of its cloisters.

Three years before the emperor repaired thither, he sent a skilful architect to provide such accommodations as he had designed for himself. These were very simple. A small building, containing eight rooms, four on each floor, was raised against the southern wall of the monastery. The rooms were low, and of a moderate size. They were protected by porticos, which sheltered them on two sides from the rays of the sun, while an open gallery, which passed through the centre of the house, afforded means for its perfect ventilation. But Charles, with his gouty constitution, was more afraid of the cold damps than of heat; and he took care to have the apartments provided with fire-places, a luxury little known in this temperate region.

A window opened from his chamber directly into the chapel of the monastery; and through this, when confined to his bed, and too ill to attend mass, he could see the elevation of the host. The furniture of the dwelling—according to an authority usually followed—was of the simplest kind; and Charles, we are told, took no better care of his gouty limbs than to provide himself with an arm-chair, or rather half a chair, which would not have brought four reals at auction.[282] The inventory of the furniture of Yuste tells{122} a very different story. Instead of "half an arm-chair," we find, besides other chairs lined with velvet, two arm-chairs especially destined to the emperor's service. One of these was of a peculiar construction, and was accommodated with no less than six cushions and a footstool, for the repose of his gouty limbs. His wardrobe showed a similar attention to his personal comfort. For one item we find no less than sixteen robes of silk and velvet, lined with ermine or eider-down, or the soft hair of the Barbary goat. The decorations of his apartment were on not merely a comfortable, but a luxurious scale;—canopies of velvet; carpets from Turkey and Alcaraz; suits of tapestry, of which twenty-five pieces are specified, richly wrought with figures of flowers and animals. Twelve hangings, of the finest black cloth, were for the emperor's bed-chamber, which, since his mother's death, had been always dressed in mourning. Among the ornaments of his rooms were four large clocks of elaborate workmanship. He had besides a number of pocket-watches, then a greater rarity than at present. He was curious in regard to his timepieces, and took care to provide for their regularity by bringing the manufacturer of them in his train to Yuste. Charles was served on silver. Even the meanest utensils for his kitchen and his sleeping apartment were of the same costly material, amounting to nearly fourteen thousand ounces in weight.[283]

The inventory contains rather a meagre show of books, which were for the most part of a devotional character. But Charles's love of art was visible in a small but choice collection of paintings, which he brought with him to adorn the walls of his retreat. Nine of these were from the pencil of Titian. Charles held the works of the great Venetian in the highest honor, and was desirous that by his hand his likeness should be transmitted to posterity. The emperor had brought with him to Yuste four portraits of himself and the empress by Titian; and among the other pieces by the same master were some of his best pictures. One of these was the famous "Gloria," in which Charles and the empress appear, in the midst of the celestial throng, supported by angels, and in an attitude of humble adoration.[284] He had the painting hung at the foot of his bed, or according to another account, over the great altar in the chapel. It is said, he would gaze long and fondly on this picture, which filled him with the most tender recollections; and as he dwelt on the image of one who had been so dear to him on earth, he may have looked forward to his reunion with her in the heavenly mansions, as the artist had here depicted him.[285]{123}


A stairway, or rather an inclined plane, suited to the weakness of Charles's limbs, led from the gallery of his house to the gardens below. These were surrounded by a high wall, which completely secluded him from observation from without. The garden was filled with orange, citron, and fig trees, and various aromatic plants that grew luxuriantly in the genial soil. The emperor had a taste for horticulture, and took much pleasure in tending the young plants and pruning his trees. His garden afforded him also the best means for taking exercise; and in fine weather he would walk along an avenue of lofty chestnut-trees, that led to a pretty chapel in the neighboring woods, the ruins of which may be seen at this day. Among the trees, one is pointed out,—an overgrown walnut, still throwing its shade far and wide over the ground,—under whose branches the pensive monarch would sit and meditate on the dim future, or perhaps on the faded glories of the past.

Charles had once been the most accomplished horseman of his time. He had brought with him to Yuste a pony and a mule, in the hope of being able to get some exercise in the saddle. But the limbs that had bestrode day after day, without fatigue, the heavy war-horse of Flanders and the wildest genet of Andalusia, were unable now to endure the motion of a poor palfrey; and, after a solitary experiment in the saddle on his arrival at Yuste, when he nearly fainted, he abandoned it for ever.[286]

There are few spots that might now be visited with more interest, than that which the great emperor had selected as his retreat from the thorny cares of government. And until within a few years the traveller would have received from the inmates of the convent the same hospitable welcome which they had always been ready to give to the stranger. But in 1809 the place was sacked by the French; and the fierce soldiery of Soult converted the pile, with its venerable cloisters, into a heap of blackened ruins. Even the collection of manuscripts, piled up with so much industry by the brethren, did not escape the general doom. The palace of the emperor, as the simple monks loved to call his dwelling, had hardly a better fate, though it came from the hands of Charles's own countrymen, the liberals of Cuacos. By these patriots the lower floor of the mansion was turned into stables for their horses. The rooms above were used as magazines for grain. The mulberry-leaves were gathered from the garden to furnish material for the silkworm, who was permitted to wind his cocoon in the deserted chambers of royalty. Still the great features of nature remain the same as in Charles's day. The bald peaks of the sierra still rise above the ruins of the monastery. The shaggy sides of the hills still wear their wild forest drapery. Far below, the eye of the traveller ranges over the beautiful Vera of Plasencia, which glows in the same exuberant vegetation as of yore; and the traveller, as he wanders among the ruined porticos and desolate arcades of the palace, drinks in the odors of a thousand{124} aromatic plants and wild-flowers that have shot up into a tangled wilderness, where once was the garden of the imperial recluse.[287]

Charles, though borne across the mountains in a litter, had suffered greatly in his long and laborious journey from Valladolid. He passed some time in the neighboring village of Xarandilla, and thence, after taking leave of the greater part of his weeping retinue, he proceeded with the remainder to the monastery of Yuste. It was on the third of February, 1557, that he entered the abode which was to prove his final resting-place.[288] The monks of Yuste had been much flattered by the circumstance of Charles having shown such a preference for their convent. As he entered the chapel, Te Deum was chanted by the whole brotherhood; and when the emperor had prostrated himself before the altar, the monks gathered round him, anxious to pay him their respectful obeisance. Charles received them graciously, and, after examining his quarters, professed himself well pleased with the accommodations prepared for him. His was not a fickle temper. Slow in forming his plans, he was slower in changing them. To the last day of his residence at Yuste,—whatever may have been said to the contrary,—he seems to have been well satisfied with the step he had taken and with the spot he had selected.


From the first, he prepared to conform, as far as his health would permit, to the religious observances of the monastery. Not that he proposed to limit himself to the narrow circumstances of an ordinary friar. The number of his retinue that still remained with him was at least fifty, mostly Flemings;[289] a number not greater, certainly, than that maintained by many a private gentleman of the country. But among these we recognize those officers of state who belong more properly to a princely establishment than to the cell of the recluse. There was the major-domo, the almoner, the keeper of the wardrobe, the keeper of the jewels, the chamberlains, two watchmakers, several secretaries, the physician, the confessor, besides cooks, confectioners, bakers, brewers, game-keepers, and numerous valets. Some of these followers seem not to have been quite so content as their master with their secluded way of life, and to have cast many a longing look to the pomps and vanities of the world they had left behind them. At least such were the feelings of Quixada, the emperor's major-domo, in whom he placed the greatest confidence, and who had the charge of his household. "His majesty's bedroom," writes the{125} querulous functionary, "is good enough; but the view from it is poor,—barren mountains, covered with rocks and stunted oaks; a garden of moderate size, with a few straggling orange-trees; the roads scarcely passable, so steep and stony; the only water, a torrent rushing from the mountains; a dreary solitude!" The low, cheerless rooms, he predicts, must necessarily be damp, boding no good to the emperor's infirmity.[290] "As to the friars," observes the secretary, Gaztelu, in the same amiable mood, "please God that his majesty may be able to tolerate them,—which will be no easy matter; for they are an importunate race."[291] It is evident that Charles's followers would have been very willing to exchange the mortifications of the monastic life for the good cheer and gaiety of Brussels.

The worthy prior of the convent, in addressing Charles, greeted him with the title of paternidad, till one of the fraternity suggested to him the propriety of substituting that of magestad.[292] Indeed, to this title Charles had good right, for he was still emperor. His resignation of the imperial crown, which, as we have seen, so soon followed that of the Spanish, had not taken effect, in consequence of the diet not being in session at the time when his envoy, the prince of Orange, was to have presented himself at Ratisbon, in the spring of 1557. The war with France made Philip desirous that his father should remain lord of Germany for some time longer. It was not, therefore, until more than a year after Charles's arrival at Yuste, that the resignation was accepted by the diet, at Frankfort, on the twenty-eighth of February, 1558. Charles was still emperor, and continued to receive the imperial title in all his correspondence.[293]

We have pretty full accounts of the manner in which the monarch employed his time. He attended mass every morning in the chapel, when his health permitted. Mass was followed by dinner, which he took early and alone, preferring this to occupying a seat in the refectory of the convent. He was fond of carving for himself, though his gouty fingers were not always in the best condition for this exercise.[294] His physician was usually in attendance during the repast, and might, at least, observe how little his patient, who had not the virtue of abstinence, regarded his prescriptions. The Fleming, Van Male, the emperor's favorite gentleman of the chamber, was{126} also not unfrequently present. He was a good scholar; and his discussions with the doctor served to beguile the tediousness of their master's solitary meal. The conversation frequently turned on some subject of natural history, of which the emperor was fond; and when the parties could not agree, the confessor, a man of learning, was called in to settle the dispute.

After dinner,—an important meal, which occupied much time with Charles,—he listened to some passages from a favorite theologian. In his worldly days, the book he most affected is said to have been Comines's Life of Louis the Eleventh,[295]—a prince whose maxim, "Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare," was too well suited to the genius of the emperor. He now, however, sought a safer guide for his spiritual direction, and would listen to a homily from the pages of St. Bernard, or more frequently St. Augustine, in whom he most delighted.[296] Towards evening, he heard a sermon from one of his preachers. Three or four of the most eloquent of the Jeronymite order had been brought to Yuste for his especial benefit. When he was not in condition to be present at the discourse, he expected to hear a full report of it from the lips of his confessor, Father Juan de Regla. Charles was punctual in his attention to all the great fasts and festivals of the Church. His infirmities, indeed, excused him from fasting, but he made up for it by the severity of his flagellation. In Lent, in particular, he dealt with himself so sternly, that the scourge was found stained with his blood; and this precious memorial of his piety was ever cherished, we are told, by Philip, and by him bequeathed as an heirloom to his son.[297]

Increasing vigilance in his own spiritual concerns made him more vigilant as to those of others,—as the weaker brethren sometimes found to their cost. Observing that some of the younger friars spent more time than was seemly in conversing with the women who came on business to the door of the convent, Charles procured an order to be passed, that any woman who ventured to approach within two bowshots of the gate should receive a hundred stripes.[298] On another occasion, his officious endeavor to quicken the diligence of one of the younger members of the fraternity is said to have provoked the latter testily to exclaim, "Cannot you be contented with having so long turned the world upside down, without coming here to disturb the quiet of a poor convent?"


He derived an additional pleasure, in his spiritual exercises, from his fondness{127} for music, which enters so largely into those of the Romish Church. He sung well himself, and his clear, sonorous voice might often be heard through the open casement of his bedroom, accompanying the chant of the monks in the chapel. The choir was made up altogether of brethren of the order, and Charles would allow no intrusion from any other quarter. His ear was quick to distinguish any strange voice, as well as any false note in the performance,—on which last occasion he would sometimes pause in his devotions, and, in half-suppressed tones, give vent to his anger by one of those scurrilous epithets, which, however they may have fallen in with the habits of the old campaigner, were but indifferently suited to his present way of life.[299]

Such time as was not given to his religious exercises was divided among various occupations, for which he had always had a relish, though hitherto but little leisure to pursue them. Besides his employments in his garden, he had a decided turn for mechanical pursuits. Some years before, while in Germany, he had invented an ingenious kind of carriage for his own accommodation.[300] He brought with him to Yuste an engineer named Torriano, famous for the great hydraulic works he constructed in Toledo. With the assistance of this man, a most skilful mechanician, Charles amused himself by making a variety of puppets representing soldiers, who went through military exercises. The historian draws largely on our faith, by telling us also of little wooden birds which the ingenious pair contrived, so as to fly in and out of the window before the admiring monks![301] But nothing excited their astonishment so much as a little hand-mill, used for grinding wheat, which turned out meal enough in a single day to support a man for a week or more. The good fathers thought this savored of downright necromancy; and it may have furnished an argument against the unfortunate engineer in the persecution which he afterwards underwent from the Inquisition.

Charles took, moreover, great interest in the mechanism of timepieces. He had a good number of clocks and watches ticking together in his apartments; and a story has obtained credit, that the difficulty he found in making any two of them keep the same time drew from him an exclamation on the folly of attempting to bring a number of men to think alike in matters of religion, when he could not regulate any two of his timepieces so as to make them agree with each other; a philosophical reflection for which one will hardly give credit to the man who, with his dying words, could press on his son the maintenance of the Inquisition as the great bulwark of the Catholic faith. In the gardens of Yuste there is still, or was lately, to be seen, a sun-dial constructed by Torriano to enable his master to measure more accurately the lapse of time as it glided away in the monotonous routine of the monastery.[302]{128}

Though averse to visits of curiosity or idle ceremony,[303] Charles consented to admit some of the nobles whose estates lay in the surrounding country, and who, with feelings of loyal attachment to their ancient master, were anxious to pay their respects to him in his retirement. But none who found their way into his retreat appear to have given him so much satisfaction as Francisco Borja, duke of Gandia, in later times placed on the roll of her saints by the Roman Catholic Church. Like Charles, he had occupied a brilliant eminence in the world, and like him had found the glory of this world but vanity. In the prime of life, he withdrew from the busy scenes in which he had acted, and entered a college of Jesuits. By the emperor's invitation, Borja made more than one visit to Yuste; and Charles found much consolation in his society, and in conversing with his early friend on topics of engrossing interest to both. The result of their conferences was to confirm them both in the conviction, that they had done wisely in abjuring the world, and in dedicating themselves to the service of Heaven.

The emperor was also visited by his two sisters, the dowager queens of France and Hungary, who had accompanied their brother, as we have seen, on his return to Spain. But the travelling was too rough, and the accommodations at Yuste too indifferent, to encourage the royal matrons to prolong their stay, or, with one exception on the part of the queen of Hungary, to repeat their visit.

But an object of livelier interest to the emperor than either of his sisters was a boy, scarcely twelve years of age, who resided in the family of his major-domo, Quixada, in the neighboring village of Cuacos. This was Don John of Austria, as he was afterwards called, the future hero of Lepanto. He was the natural son of Charles, a fact known to no one during the father's lifetime, except Quixada, who introduced the boy into the convent as his own page. The lad, at this early age, showed many gleams of that generous spirit by which he was afterwards distinguished,—thus solacing the declining years of his parent, and affording a hold for those affections which might have withered in the cold atmosphere of the cloister.

Strangers were sure to be well received who, coming from the theatre of war, could furnish the information he so much desired respecting the condition of things abroad. Thus we find him in conference with an officer arrived from the Low Countries, named Spinosa, and putting a multitude of questions respecting the state of the army, the organization and equipment of the different corps, and other particulars, showing the lively interest taken by Charles in the conduct of the campaign.[304]


It has been a common opinion, that the emperor, after his retirement to Yuste, remained as one buried alive, totally cut off from intercourse with the world;—"as completely withdrawn from the business of the kingdom and the concerns of government," says one of his biographers, "as if he had never taken part in them;"[305]—"so entirely abstracted in his solitude," says another{129} contemporary, "that neither revolutions nor wars, nor gold arriving in heaps from the Indies, had any power to affect his tranquillity."[306]

So far from this being the case, that not only did the emperor continue to show an interest in public affairs, but he took a prominent part, even from the depths of his retreat, in the management of them.[307] Philip, who had the good sense to defer to the long experience and the wisdom of his father, consulted him, constantly, on great questions of public policy. And so far was he from the feeling of jealousy often imputed to him, that we find him on one occasion, when the horizon looked particularly, dark, imploring the emperor to leave his retreat, and to aid him not only by his counsels, but by his presence and authority.[308] The emperor's daughter Joanna, regent of Castile, from her residence at Valladolid, only fifty leagues from Yuste, maintained a constant correspondence with her father, soliciting his advice in the conduct of the government. However much Charles may have felt himself relieved from responsibility for measures, he seems to have been as anxious for the success of Philip's administration as if it had been his own. "Write more fully," says one of his secretaries in a letter to the secretary of the regent's council; "the emperor is always eager to hear more particulars of events."[309] He showed the deepest concern in the conduct of the Italian war. He betrayed none of the scruples manifested by Philip, but boldly declared that the war with the pope was a just war, in the sight of both God and man.[310] When letters came from abroad, he was even heard to express his regret that they brought no tidings of Paul's death, or Caraffa's![311] He was sorely displeased with the truce which Alva granted to the pontiff, intimating a regret that he had not the reins still in his own hand. He was yet more discontented with the peace, and the terms of it, both public and private; and when Alva talked of leaving Naples, his anger, as his secretary quaintly remarks, was "more than was good for his health."[312]{130}

The same interest he showed in the French war. The loss of Calais filled him with the deepest anxiety. But in his letters on the occasion, instead of wasting his time in idle lament, he seems intent only on devising in what way he can best serve Philip in his distress.[313] In the same proportion he was elated by the tidings of the victory of St. Quentin. His thoughts turned upon Paris, and he was eager to learn what road his son had taken after the battle.[314] According to Brantôme, on hearing the news, he abruptly asked, "Is Philip at Paris?"—He judged of Philip's temper by his own.[315]

At another time, we find him conducting negotiations with Navarre;[316] and then, again, carrying on a correspondence with his sister, the regent of Portugal, for the purpose of having his grandson, Carlos, recognized as heir to the crown, in case of the death of the young king, his cousin. The scheme failed, for it would be as much as her life was worth, the regent said, to engage in it. But it was a bold one, that of bringing under the same sceptre these two nations, which, by community of race, language, and institutions, would seem by nature to have been designed for one. It was Charles's comprehensive idea; and it proves that, even in the cloister, the spirit of ambition had not become extinct in his bosom. How much would it have rejoiced that ambitious spirit, could he have foreseen that the consummation so much desired by him would be attained under Philip![317]{131}


But the department which especially engaged Charles's attention in his retirement, singularly enough, was the financial. "It has been my constant care," he writes to Philip, "in all my letters to your sister, to urge the necessity of providing you with funds,—since I can be of little service to you in any other way."[318] His interposition, indeed, seems to have been constantly invoked to raise supplies for carrying on the war. This fact may be thought to show that those writers are mistaken who accuse Philip of withholding from his father the means of maintaining a suitable establishment at Yuste. Charles, in truth, settled the amount of his own income; and in one of his letters we find him fixing this at twenty thousand ducats, instead of sixteen thousand, as before, to be paid quarterly and in advance.[319] That the payments were not always punctually made may well be believed, in a country where punctuality would have been a miracle.

Charles had more cause for irritation in the conduct of some of those functionaries with whom he had to deal in his financial capacity. Nothing appears to have stirred his bile so much at Yuste as the proceedings of some members of the board of trade at Seville. "I have deferred sending to you," he writes to his daughter, the regent, "in order to see if, with time, my wrath would not subside. But, far from it, it increases, and will go on increasing till I learn that those who have done wrong have atoned for it. Were it not for my infirmities," he adds, "I would go to Seville myself, and find out the authors of this villany, and bring them to a summary reckoning."[320] "The emperor orders me," writes his secretary, Gaztelu, "to command that the offenders be put in irons, and in order to mortify them the more, that they be carried, in broad daylight, to Simancas, and there lodged, not in towers or chambers, but in a dungeon. Indeed, such is his indignation, and such are the violent and bloodthirsty expressions he commands me to use, that you will pardon me if my language is not so temperate as it might be."[321] It had been customary for the board of trade to receive the gold imported from the Indies, whether on public or private account, and hold it for the use of the government, paying to the merchants interested an equivalent in government bonds. The merchants, naturally enough, not relishing this kind of security so well as the gold, by a collusion with some of the members of the board of trade, had been secretly allowed to remove their own property. In this way the government was defrauded—as the emperor regarded it—of a large sum on which it had calculated. This, it would seem, was the offence which had roused the royal indignation to such a pitch. Charles's phlegmatic temperament had ever been liable to be ruffled by these{132} sudden gusts of passion; and his conventual life does not seem to have had any very sedative influence on him in this particular.

For the first ten months after his arrival at Yuste, the emperor's health, under the influence of a temperate climate, the quiet of monastic life, and more than all, probably, his exemption from the cares of state, had generally improved.[322] His attacks of gout had been less frequent and less severe than before. But in the spring of 1558, the old malady returned with renewed violence. "I was not in a condition," he writes to Philip, "to listen to a single sermon during Lent."[323] For months he was scarcely able to write a line with his own hand. His spirits felt the pressure of bodily suffering, and were still further depressed by the death of his sister Eleanor, the queen-dowager of France and Portugal, which took place in February, 1558.

A strong attachment seems to have subsisted between the emperor and his two sisters. Queen Eleanor's sweetness of disposition had particularly endeared her to her brother, who now felt her loss almost as keenly as that of one of his own children. "She was a good Christian," he said to his secretary, Gaztelu; and, as the tears rolled down his cheeks, he added, "We have always loved each other. She was my elder by fifteen months; and before that period has passed I shall probably be with her."[324] Before half that period, the sad augury was fulfilled.

At this period—as we shall see hereafter—the attention of the government was called to the Lutheran heresy, which had already begun to disclose itself in various quarters of the country. Charles was possessed of a full share of the spirit of bigotry which belonged to the royal line of Castile, from which he was descended. While on the throne, this feeling was held somewhat in check by a regard for his political interests. But in the seclusion of the monastery he had no interests to consult but those of religion; and he gave free scope to the spirit of intolerance which belonged to his nature. In a letter addressed, the third of May, 1558, to his daughter Joanna, he says: "Tell the grand-inquisitor from me to be at his post, and lay the axe at the root of the evil before it spreads further. I rely on your zeal for bringing the guilty to punishment, and for having them punished, without favor to any one, with all the severity which their crimes demand."[325] In another letter to his daughter, three weeks later, he writes: "If I had not entire confidence that you would do your duty, and arrest the evil at once by chastising{133} the guilty in good earnest, I know not how I could help leaving the monastery, and taking the remedy into my own hands."[326] Thus did Charles make his voice heard from his retreat among the mountains, and by his efforts and influence render himself largely responsible for the fiery persecution which brought woe upon the land after he himself had gone to his account.


About the middle of August, the emperor's old enemy, the gout, returned on him with uncommon force. It was attended with symptoms of an alarming kind, intimating, indeed, that his strong constitution was giving way. These were attributed to a cold which he had taken, though it seems there was good reason for imputing them to his intemperate living; for he still continued to indulge his appetite for the most dangerous dishes, as freely as in the days when a more active way of life had better enabled him to digest them. It is true, the physician stood by his side, as prompt as Sancho Panza's doctor, in his island domain, to remonstrate against his master's proceedings. But, unhappily, he was not armed with the authority of that functionary; and an eel-pie, a well-spiced capon, or any other savory abomination, offered too great a fascination for Charles to heed the warnings of his physician.

The declining state of the emperor's health may have inspired him with a presentiment of his approaching end, to which, we have seen, he gave utterrance some time before this, in his conversation with Gaztelu. It may have been the sober reflections which such a feeling would naturally suggest that led him, at the close of the month of August, to conceive the extraordinary idea of preparing for the final scene by rehearsing his own funeral. He consulted his professor on the subject, and was encouraged by the accommodating father to consider it as a meritorious act. The chapel was accordingly hung in black, and the blaze of hundreds of wax-lights was not sufficient to dispel the darkness. The monks in their conventual dresses, and all the emperor's household, clad in deep mourning, gathered round a huge catafalque, shrouded also in black, which had been raised in the centre of the chapel. The service for the burial of the dead was then performed; and amidst the dismal wail of the monks, the prayers ascended for the departed spirit, that it might be received into the mansions of the blessed. The sorrowful attendants were melted to tears, as the image of their master's death was presented to their minds, or they were touched, it may be, with compassion for this pitiable display of his weakness. Charles, muffled in a dark mantle, and bearing a lighted candle in his hand, mingled with his household, the spectator of his own obsequies; and the doleful ceremony was concluded by his placing the taper in the hands of the priest, in sign of his surrendering up his soul to the Almighty.

Such is the account of this melancholy farce given us by the Jeronymite chroniclers of the cloister life of Charles the Fifth, and which has since been repeated—losing nothing in the repetition—by every succeeding historian, to the present time.[327] Nor does there seem to have been any distrust of its correctness till the historical scepticism of our own day had subjected the{134} narrative to a more critical scrutiny. It was then discovered that no mention of the affair was to be discerned in the letters of any one of the emperor's household residing at Yuste, although there are letters extant written by Charles's physician, his major-domo, and his secretary, both on the thirty-first of August, the day of the funeral, and on the first of September. With so extraordinary an event fresh in their minds, their silence is inexplicable.

One fact is certain, that, if the funeral did take place, it could not have been on the date assigned to it; for on the thirty-first the emperor was laboring under an attack of fever, of which his physician has given full particulars, and from which he was destined never to recover. That the writers, therefore, should have been silent in respect to a ceremony which must have had so bad an effect on the nerves of the patient, is altogether incredible.

Yet the story of the obsequies comes from one of the Jeronymite brethren then living at Yuste, who speaks of the emotions which he felt, in common with the rest of the convent, at seeing a man thus bury himself alive, as it were, and perform his funeral rites before his death.[328] It is repeated by another of the fraternity, the prior of Escorial, who had ample means of conversing with eye-witnesses.[329] And finally, it is confirmed by more than one writer near enough to the period to be able to assure himself of the truth.[330] Indeed, the parties from whom the account is originally derived were so situated that, if the story be without foundation, it is impossible to explain its existence by misapprehension on their part. It must be wholly charged on a wilful misstatement of facts. It is true, the monkish chronicler is not always{135} quite so scrupulous in this particular as would be desirable,—especially where the honor of his order is implicated. But what interest could the Jeronymite fathers have had in so foolish a fabrication as this? The supposition is at variance with the respectable character of the parties, and with the air of simplicity and good faith that belongs to their narratives.[331]

We may well be staggered, it is true, by the fact that no allusion to the obsequies appears in any of the letters from Yuste; while the date assigned for them, moreover, is positively disproved. Yet we may consider that the misstatement of a date is a very different thing from the invention of a story; and that chronological accuracy, as I have more than once had occasion to remark, was not the virtue of the monkish, or indeed of any other historian of the sixteenth century. It would not be a miracle if the obsequies should have taken place some days before the period assigned to them. It so happens that we have no letters from Yuste between the eighteenth and twenty-eighth of August. At least, I have none myself, and have seen none cited by others. If any should hereafter come to light, written during that interval, they may be found possibly to contain some allusion to the funeral. Should no letters have been written during the period, the silence of the parties who wrote at the end of August and the beginning of September may be explained by the fact, that too long a time had elapsed since the performance of the emperor's obsequies, for them to suppose it could have any connection with his illness, which formed the subject of their correspondence. Difficulties will present themselves, whichever view we take of the matter. But the reader may think it quite as reasonable to explain those difficulties by the supposition of involuntary error, as by that of sheer invention.

Nor is the former supposition rendered less probable by the character of Charles the Fifth. There was a taint of insanity in the royal blood of Castile, which was most fully displayed in the emperor's mother, Joanna. Some traces of it, however faint, may be discerned in his own conduct, before he took refuge in the cloisters of Yuste. And though we may not agree with Paul the Fourth in regarding this step as sufficient evidence of his madness,[332] we may yet find something in his conduct, on more than one occasion, while there, which is near akin to it. Such, for example, was the morbid relish which he discovered for performing the obsequies, not merely of his kindred, but of any one whose position seemed to him to furnish an apology for it. Not a member of the toison died, but he was prepared to commemorate the event with solemn funeral rites. These, in short, seemed to be the festivities of Charles's cloister life. These lugubrious ceremonies had a fascination for him, that may remind one of the tenacity with which his mother, Joanna, clung to the dead body of her husband, taking it with her wherever she went. It was after celebrating the obsequies of his parents and his wife, which occupied several successive days, that he conceived, as we are told, the idea of rehearsing his own funeral,—a piece of extravagance which becomes the more credible when we reflect on the state of morbid excitement to which his mind may have been brought by dwelling so long on the dreary apparatus of death.

But whatever be thought of the account of the mock funeral of Charles, it appears that on the thirtieth of August he was affected by an indisposition which on the following day was attended with most alarming symptoms. Here also we have some particulars from his Jeronymite biographers which{136} we do not find in the letters. On the evening of the thirty-first, according to their account, Charles ordered a portrait of the empress, his wife, of whom, as we have seen, he had more than one in his collection, to be brought to him. He dwelt a long while on its beautiful features, "as if," says the chronicler, "he were imploring her to prepare a place for him in the celestial mansions to which she had gone."[333] He then passed to the contemplation of another picture,—Titian's "Agony in the Garden," and from this to that immortal production of his pencil, the "Gloria," as it is called, which is said to have hung over the high altar at Yuste, and which, after the emperor's death, followed his remains to the Escorial.[334] He gazed so long and with such rapt attention on the picture, as to cause apprehension in his physician, who, in the emperor's debilitated state, feared the effects of such excitement on his nerves. There was good reason for apprehension; for Charles, at length, rousing from his reverie, turned to the doctor, and complained that he was ill. His pulse showed him to be in a high fever. As the symptoms became more unfavorable, his physician bled him, but without any good effect.[335] The Regent Joanna, on learning her father's danger, instantly despatched her own physician from Valladolid to his assistance. But no earthly remedies could avail. It soon became evident that the end was approaching.[336]

Charles received the intelligence, not merely with composure, but with cheerfulness. It was what he had long desired, he said. His first care was to complete some few arrangements respecting his affairs. On the ninth of September, he executed a codicil to his will. The will, made a few years previous, was of great length, and the codicil had not the merit of brevity. Its principal object was to make provision for those who had followed him to Yuste. No mention is made in the codicil of his son Don John of Austria. He seems to have communicated his views in regard to him to his major-domo, Quixada, who had a private interview of some length with his master a few days before his death. Charles's directions on the subject appear to have been scrupulously regarded by Philip.[337]


One clause in the codicil deserves to be noticed. The emperor conjures his son most earnestly, by the obedience he owes him, to follow up and bring to justice every heretic in his dominions; and this without exception, and without favor or mercy to any one. He conjures Philip to cherish the Holy Inquisition,{137} as the best instrument for accomplishing this good work. "So," he concludes, "shall you have my blessing, and the Lord shall prosper all your undertakings."[338] Such were the last words of the dying monarch to his son. They did not fall on a deaf ear; and the parting admonition of his father served to give a keener edge to the sword of persecution which Philip had already begun to wield.

On the nineteenth of September, Charles's strength had declined so much that it was thought proper to administer extreme unction to him. He preferred to have it in the form adopted by the friars, which, comprehending a litany, the seven penitential psalms, and sundry other passages of Scripture, was much longer and more exhausting than the rite used by the laity. His strength did not fail under it, however; and the following day he desired to take the communion, as he had frequently done during his illness. On his confessor's representing that, after the sacrament of extreme unction, this was unnecessary, he answered, "Perhaps so, but it is good provision for the long journey I am to set out upon."[339] Exhausted as he was, he knelt a full quarter of an hour in his bed during the ceremony, offering thanks to God for his mercies, and expressing the deepest contrition for his sins, with an earnestness of manner that touched the hearts of all present.[340]

Throughout his illness he had found consolation in having passages of Scripture, especially the Psalms, read to him. Quixada, careful that his master should not be disquieted in his last moments, would allow very few persons to be present in his chamber. Among the number was Bartolomé de Carranza, who had lately been raised to the archiepiscopal see of Toledo. He had taken a prominent part in the persecution in England under Mary. For the remainder of his life he was to be the victim of persecution himself, from a stronger arm than his, that of the Inquisition. Even the words of consolation which he uttered in this chamber of death were carefully treasured up by Charles's confessor, and made one of the charges against him in his impeachment for heresy.

On the twenty-first of September, St. Matthew's day, about two hours after midnight, the emperor, who had remained long without speaking, feeling that his hour had come, exclaimed, "Now it is time!" The holy taper was placed lighted in his right hand, as he sat up leaning on the shoulder of the faithful Quixada. With his left he endeavored to clasp a silver crucifix. It had comforted the empress, his wife, in her dying hour; and Charles had ordered Quixada to hold it in readiness for him on the like occasion.[341] It had lain for some time on his breast; and as it was now held up before his glazing eye by the archbishop of Toledo, Charles fixed his gaze long and earnestly on the sacred symbol,—to him the memento of earthly love as well as heavenly. The archbishop was repeating the psalm De Profundis,—"Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord!"—when the dying man, making a feeble effort to embrace the crucifix, exclaimed, in tones so audible as to be heard in the adjoining room, "Ay Jesus!" and sinking back on the pillow, expired without a struggle.[342] He had always prayed—perhaps fearing the{138} hereditary taint of insanity—that he might die in possession of his faculties.[343] His prayer was granted.

The emperor's body, after being embalmed, and placed in its leaden coffin, lay in state in the chapel for three days, during which three discourses were pronounced over it by the best preachers in the convent. It was then consigned to the earth, with due solemnity, amidst the prayers and tears of the brethren and of Charles's domestics, in presence of a numerous concourse of persons from the surrounding country.

The burial did not take place, however, without some difficulty. Charles had requested by his will that he might be laid partially under the great altar, in such a manner that his head and the upper part of his body might come under the spot where the priest stood when he performed the service. This was dictated in all humility by the emperor; but it raised a question among the scrupulous ecclesiastics as to the propriety of permitting any bones save those of a saint to occupy so holy a place as that beneath the altar. The dispute waxed somewhat warmer than was suited to the occasion; till the momentous affair was finally adjusted by having an excavation made in the wall, within which the head was introduced, so as to allow the feet to touch the verge of the hallowed ground.[344] The emperor's body did not long abide in its resting-place at Yuste. Before many years had elapsed, it was transported, by command of Philip the Second, to the Escorial, and in that magnificent mausoleum it has continued to repose, beside that of the Empress Isabella.

The funeral obsequies of Charles were celebrated with much pomp by the court of Rome, by the Regent Joanna at Valladolid, and, with yet greater magnificence, by Philip the Second at Brussels. Philip was at Arras when he learned the news of his father's death. He instantly repaired to a monastery in the neighborhood of Brussels, where he remained secluded for several weeks. Meanwhile he ordered the bells in all the churches and convents throughout the Netherlands to be tolled thrice a day for four mouths, and during that time that no festivals or public rejoicings of any kind should take place. On the twenty-eighth of December the king entered Brussels by night, and on the following day, before the hour of vespers, a procession was formed to the church of St. Gudule, which still challenges the admiration of the traveller as one of the noblest monuments of mediæval architecture in the Netherlands.


The procession consisted of the principal clergy, the members of the different religious houses, bearing lighted tapers in their hands, the nobles and cavaliers about the court, the great officers of state and the royal household, all clad in deep mourning. After these came the knights of the Golden Fleece, wearing the insignia and the superb dress of the order. The marquis{139} of Aguilar bore the imperial sceptre, the duke of Villahermosa the sword, and the prince of Orange carried the globe and the crown of the empire. Philip came on foot, wrapped in a sable mantle, with his head buried in a deep cowl. His train was borne by Ruy Gomez de Silva, the favorite minister. Then followed the duke of Savoy, walking also alone, with his head covered, as a prince of the blood. Files of the Spanish and German guard, in their national uniforms, formed an escort to the procession, as it took its way through the principal streets, which were illumined with a blaze of torchlight, that dispelled the gathering shadows of evening.

A conspicuous part of the procession was a long train of horses led each by two gentlemen, and displaying on their splendid housings, and the banners which they carried, the devices and arms of the several states over which the emperor presided.

But no part of the pageant attracted so much notice from the populace as a stately galley, having its sides skilfully painted with battle-pieces suggested by different actions in which Charles had been engaged; while its sails of black silk were covered with inscriptions in letters of gold, that commemorated the triumphs of the hero.

Although the palace was at no great distance from St. Gudule's, the procession occupied two hours in passing to the church. In the nave of the edifice stood a sort of chapel, constructed for the occasion. Its roof, or rather canopy, displaying four crowns embroidered in gold, rested on four Ionic pillars curiously wrought. Within lay a sarcophagus covered with a dark pall of velvet, surmounted by a large crimson cross. The imperial crown, together with the globe and sceptre, was deposited in this chapel, which was lighted up with three thousand wax tapers.

In front of it was a scaffolding covered with black, on which a throne was raised for Philip. The nobles and great officers of the crown occupied the seats, or rather steps, below. Drapery of dark velvet and cloth of gold, emblazoned with the imperial arms, was suspended across the arches of the nave; above which ran galleries, appropriated to the duchess of Lorraine and the ladies of the court.[345]

The traveller who at this time visits this venerable pile, where Charles the Fifth was wont to hold the chapters of the Golden Fleece, while he gazes on the characteristic effigy of that monarch, as it is displayed on the superb windows of painted glass, may call to mind the memorable day when the people of Flanders, and the rank and beauty of its capital, were gathered together to celebrate the obsequies of the great emperor; when, amidst clouds of incense and the blaze of myriads of lights, the deep tones of the organ, vibrating through the long aisles, mingled with the voices of the priests, as they chanted their sad requiem to the soul of their departed sovereign.[346]{140}

I have gone somewhat into detail in regard to the latter days of Charles the Fifth, who exercised, in his retirement, too important an influence on public affairs for such an account of him to be deemed an impertinent episode to the history of Philip the Second. Before parting from him for ever, I will take a brief view of some peculiarities in his personal, rather than his political character, which has long since been indelibly traced by a hand abler than mine.

Charles, at the time of his death, was in the fifty-eighth year of his age. He was older in constitution than in years. So much shaken had he been, indeed, in mind as well as body, that he may be said to have died of premature old age. Yet his physical development had been very slow. He was nearly twenty-one years old before any beard was to be seen on his chin.[347] Yet by the time he was thirty-six, gray hairs began to make their appearance on his temples. At forty the gout had made severe inroads on a constitution originally strong; and before he was fifty, the man who could keep the saddle day and night in his campaigns, who seemed to be insensible to fatigue as he followed the chase among the wild passes of the Alpuxarras, was obliged to be carried in a litter, like a poor cripple, at the head of his armies.[348]

His mental development was equally tardy with his bodily. So long as Chievres lived,—the Flemish noble who had the care of his early life,—Charles seemed to have no will of his own. During his first visit to Spain, where he came when seventeen years old, he gave so little promise, that those who approached him nearest could discern no signs of his future greatness. Yet the young prince seems to have been conscious that he had the elements of greatness within him, and he patiently bided his time. "Nondum"—"Not yet"—was the motto which he adopted for his maiden shield, when but eighteen years old, at a tournament at Valladolid.


But when the death of the Flemish minister had released the young monarch from this state of dependence, he took the reins into his own hands, as Louis the Fourteenth did on the death of Mazarin. He now showed himself in an entirely new aspect. He even displayed greater independence than his predecessors had done. He no longer trusted everything, like them, to a council of state. He trusted only to himself; and if he freely communicated with some one favorite minister, like the elder Granvelle, and the cardinal,{141} his son, it was in order to be counselled, not to be controlled by their judgments. He patiently informed himself of public affairs; and when foreign envoys had their audiences of him, they were surprised to find him possessed of everything relating to their own courts and the objects of their mission.

Yet he did not seem to be quick of apprehension, or, to speak more correctly, he was slow in arriving at his results. He would keep the courier waiting for days before he could come to a decision. When he did come to it, no person on earth could shake it. Talking one day with the Venetian Contarini about this habit of his mind, the courtly minister remarked, that "it was not obstinacy to adhere to sound opinions." "True," said Charles, "but I sometimes adhere to those that are unsound."[349]

His indefatigable activity both of mind and body formed a strong contrast to the lethargy of early years. His widely scattered empire, spreading over the Low Countries, Spain, Germany, and the New World, presented embarrassments which most princes would have found it impossible to overcome. At least they would have been compelled to govern, in a great measure, by deputy,—to transact their business by agents. But Charles chose to do everything himself,—to devise his own plans, and to execute them in person. The number of his journeys by land and by water, as noticed in his farewell address, is truly wonderful; for that was not the day of steamboats and railways. He seemed to lead the life of a courier. But it was for no trivial object that he made these expeditions. He knew where his presence was needed; and his promptness and punctuality brought him, at the right time, on the right spot. No spot in his broad empire was far removed from him. He seemed to possess the power of ubiquity.

The consciousness of his own strength roused to a flame the spark of ambition which had hitherto slept in his bosom. His schemes were so vast, that it was a common opinion he aspired to universal monarchy. Like his grandfather, Ferdinand, and his own son, Philip, he threw over his schemes the cloak of religion. Or, to deal with him more fairly, religious principle probably combined with personal policy to determine his career. He seemed always ready to do battle for the Cross. He affected to identify the cause of Spain with the cause of Christendom. He marched against the Turks, and stayed the tide of Ottoman inroad in Hungary. He marched against the Protestants, and discomfited their armies in the heart of Germany. He crossed the Mediterranean, and humbled the Crescent at Algiers. He threw himself on the honor of Francis, and travelled through France to take vengeance on the rebels of Flanders. He twice entered France as an enemy, and marched up to the gates of Paris. Instead of the modest legend on his maiden shield; he now assumed the proud motto, "Plus ultra;" and he vindicated his right to it, by sending his fleets across the ocean, and by planting the banner of Castile on the distant shores of the Pacific. In these enterprises he was generally successful. His success led him to rely still more on himself. "Myself and the lucky moment," was his favorite saying. The "star of Austria," was still a proverb. It was not till the evening of life that he complained of the fickleness of fortune; that his star, as it descended to the horizon, was obscured by clouds and darkness.

Thus Charles's nerves were kept in a state of perpetual excitement. No wonder that his health should have sunk under it; like a plant forced by extraordinary stimulants to an unnatural production at the expense of its own vitality.{142}

His habits were not all of them the most conducive to health. He slept usually only four hours; too short a time to repair the waste caused by incessant toil.[350] His phlegmatic temperament did not incline him to excess. Yet there was one excess of which he was guilty,—the indulgence of his appetite to a degree most pernicious to his health. A Venetian contemporary tells us, that, before rising in the morning, potted capon was usually served to him, dressed with sugar, milk, and spices. At noon he dined on a variety of dishes. Soon after vespers he took another meal; and later in the evening supped heartily on anchovies, or some other gross and savory food of which he was particularly fond.[351] On one occasion, complaining to his maître d'hôtel that the cook sent him nothing but dishes too insipid and tasteless to be eaten, the perplexed functionary, knowing Charles's passion for timepieces, replied, that "he did not know what he could do, unless it were to serve his majesty a ragout of watches!" The witticism had one good effect, that of provoking a hearty laugh from the emperor,—a thing rarely witnessed in his latter days.[352]

It was in vain that Cardinal Loaysa, his confessor, remonstrated, with an independence that does him credit, against his master's indulgence of his appetite, assuring him that resistance here would do more for his soul than any penance with the scourge.[353] It seems a pity that Charles, considering his propensities, should have so easily obtained absolution from fasts, and that he should not, on the contrary, have transferred some of the penance which he inflicted on his back to the offending part. Even in the monastery of Yuste he still persevered in the same pernicious taste. Anchovies, frogs' legs, and eel-pasties were the dainty morsels with which he chose to be regaled, even before the eyes of his physician. It would not have been amiss for him to have exchanged his solitary repast more frequently for the simpler fare of the refectory.

With these coarser tastes Charles combined many others of a refined and intellectual character. We have seen his fondness for music, and the delight he took in the sister art of design,—especially in the works of Titian. He was painted several times by this great master, and it was by his hand, as we have seen, that he desired to go down to posterity. The emperor had, moreover,{143} another taste, perhaps talent, which, with a different training and in a different sphere of life, might have led him to the craft of authorship.

A curious conversation is reported as having been held by him with Borja, the future saint, during one of the visits paid by the Jesuit to Yuste. Charles inquired of his friend whether it were wrong for a man to write his autobiography, provided he did so honestly, and with no motive of vanity. He said that he had written his own memoirs, not from the desire of self-glorification, but to correct manifold mistakes which had been circulated of his doings, and to set his conduct in a true light.[354] One might be curious to know the answer, which is not given, of the good father to this question. It is to be hoped that it was not of a kind to induce the emperor to destroy the manuscript, which has never come to light.

However this may be, there is no reason to doubt that at one period of his life he had compiled a portion of his autobiography. In the imperial household, as I have already noticed, was a Flemish scholar, William Van Male, or Malinæus, as he is called in Latin, who, under the title of gentleman of the chamber, wrote many a long letter for Charles, while standing by his bedside, and read many a weary hour to him after the monarch had gone to rest,—not, as it would seem, to sleep.[355] This personage tells us that Charles, when sailing on the Rhine, wrote an account of his expeditions to as late a date as 1550.[356] This is not very definite. Any account written under such circumstances, and in so short a time, could be nothing but a sketch of the most general kind. Yet Van Male assures us that he had read the manuscript, which he commends for its terse and elegant diction; and he proposes to make a Latin version of it, the style of which should combine the separate merits of Tacitus, Livy, Suetonius, and Cæsar![357] The admiring chamberlain laments that, instead of giving it to the world, Charles should keep it jealously secured under lock and key.[358]

The emperor's taste for authorship showed itself also in another form. This was by the translation of the "Chevalier Délibéré," a French poem then popular, celebrating the court of his ancestor, Charles the Bold of Burgundy.{144} Van Male, who seems to have done for Charles the Fifth what Voltaire did for Frederick, when he spoke of himself as washing the king's dirty linen, was employed also to overlook this translation, which he pronounces to have possessed great merit in regard to idiom and selection of language. The emperor then gave it to Acuña, a good poet of the court, to be done into Castilian verse. Thus metamorphosed, he proposed to give the copy to Van Male. A mischievous wag, Avila the historian, assured the emperor that it could not be worth less than five hundred gold crowns to that functionary. "And William is well entitled to them," said the monarch, "for he has sweat much over the work."[359] Two thousand copies were forthwith ordered to be printed of the poem, which was to come out anonymously. Poor Van Male, who took a very different view of the profits, and thought that nothing was certain but the cost of the edition, would have excused himself from this proof of his master's liberality. It was all in vain; Charles was not to be balked in his generous purpose; and, without a line to propitiate the public favor, by stating in the preface the share of the royal hand in the composition, it was ushered into the world.[360]

Whatever Charles may have done in the way of an autobiography, he was certainly not indifferent to posthumous fame. He knew that the greatest name must soon pass into oblivion, unless embalmed in the song of the bard or the page of the chronicler. He looked for a chronicler to do for him with his pen what Titian had done for him with his pencil,—exhibit him in his true proportions, and in a permanent form, to the eye of posterity! In this he does not seem to have been so much under the influence of vanity as of a natural desire to have his character and conduct placed in a fair point of view,—what seemed to him to be such,—for the contemplation or criticism of mankind.


The person whom the emperor selected for this delicate office was the learned Sepulveda. Sleidan he condemned as a slanderer; and Giovio, who had taken the other extreme, and written of him with what he called the "golden pen" of history, he no less condemned as a flatterer.[361] Charles encouraged Sepulveda to apply to him for information on matters relating to his government. But when requested by the historian to listen to what he{145} had written, the emperor refused. "I will neither hear nor read," he replied, "what you have said of me. Others may do this when I am gone. But if you wish for information on any point, I shall be always ready to give it to you."[362] A history thus compiled was of the nature of an autobiography, and must be considered, therefore, as entitled to much the same confidence, and open to the same objections, as that kind of writing. Sepulveda was one of the few who had repeated access to Charles in his retirement at Yuste;[363] and the monarch testified his regard for him, by directing that particular care be taken that no harm should come to the historian's manuscript before it was committed to the press.[364]

Such are some of the most interesting traits and personal anecdotes I have been able to collect of the man who, for nearly forty years, ruled over an empire more vast, with an authority more absolute, than any monarch since the days of Charlemagne. It may be thought strange that I should have omitted to notice one feature in his character, the most prominent in the line from which he was descended, at least on the mother's side,—his bigotry. But in Charles this was less conspicuous than in many others of his house; and while he sat upon the throne, the extent to which his religious principles were held in subordination by his political, suggests a much closer parallel to the policy of his grandfather, Ferdinand the Catholic, than to that of his son, Philip the Second, or of his imbecile grandson, Philip the Third.

But the religious gloom which hung over Charles's mind took the deeper tinge of fanaticism after he had withdrawn to the monastery of Yuste. With his dying words, as we have seen, he bequeathed the Inquisition as a precious legacy to his son. In like manner, he endeavored to cherish in the Regent Joanna's bosom the spirit of persecution.[365] And if it were true, as his biographer assures us, that Charles expressed a regret that he had respected the safe-conduct of Luther,[366] the world had little reason to mourn that he exchanged the sword and the sceptre for the breviary of the friar,—the throne of the Cæsars for his monastic retreat among the wilds of Estremadura.

The preceding chapter was written in the summer of 1851, a year before the appearance of Stirling's "Cloister Life of Charles the Fifth," which led the way in that brilliant series of works from the pens of Amédée Pichot, Mignet, and Gachard, which has made the darkest recesses of Yuste as light as day. The publication of these works has deprived my account of whatever novelty it might have possessed, since it rests on a similar basis with theirs, namely, original documents in the Archives of Simancas. Yet the important influence which Charles exerted over the management of affairs, even in his monastic retreat, has made it impossible to{146} dispense with the chapter. On the contrary, I have profited by these recent publications to make sundry additions, which may readily be discovered by the reader, from the references I have been careful to make to the sources whence they are derived.

The public has been hitherto indebted for its knowledge of the reign of Charles the Fifth to Robertson,—a writer who, combining a truly philosophical spirit with an acute perception of character, is recommended, moreover, by a classic elegance of style which has justly given him a preëminence among the historians of the great emperor. But in his account of the latter days of Charles, Robertson mainly relies on commonplace authorities, whose information, gathered at second hand, is far from being trustworthy,—as is proved by the contradictory tenor of such authentic documents as the letters of Charles himself, with those of his own followers, and the narratives of the brotherhood of Yuste. These documents are, for the most part, to be found in the Archives of Simancas, where, in Robertson's time, they were guarded, with the vigilance of a Turkish harem, against all intrusion of native as well as foreigner. It was not until very recently, in 1844, that the more liberal disposition of the government allowed the gates to be unbarred which had been closed for centuries; and then, for the first time, the student might be seen toiling in the dusty alcoves of Simancas, and busily exploring the long-buried memorials of the past. It was at this period that my friend, Don Pascual de Gayangos, having obtained authority from the government, passed some weeks at Simancas in collecting materials, some of which have formed the groundwork of the preceding chapter.

While the manuscripts of Simancas were thus hidden from the world, a learned keeper of the archives, Don Tomas Gonzalez, discontented with the unworthy view which had been given of the latter days of Charles the Fifth, had profited by the materials which lay around him, to exhibit his life at Yuste in a new and more authentic light. To the volume which he compiled for this purpose he gave the title of "Retiro, Estancia, y Muerte del Emperador Carlos Quinto en el Monasterio de Yuste." The work, the principal value of which consists in the copious extracts with which it is furnished from the correspondence of Charles and his household, was suffered by the author to remain in manuscript; and, at his death, it passed into the hands of his brother, who prepared a summary of its contents, and endeavored to dispose of the volume at a price so exorbitant that it remained for many years without a purchaser. It was finally bought by the French government at a greatly reduced price,—for four thousand francs. It may seem strange that it should have even brought this sum, since the time of the sale was that in which the new arrangements were made for giving admission to the archives that contained the original documents on which the Gonzalez MS. was founded. The work thus bought by the French government was transferred to the Archives des Affaires Etrangères, then under the direction of M. Mignet. The manuscript could not be in better hands than those of a scholar who has so successfully carried the torch of criticism into some of the darkest passages of Spanish history. His occupations, however, took him in another direction; and for eight years the Gonzalez MS. remained as completely hidden from the world in the Parisian archives as it had been in those of Simancas. When, at length, it was applied to the historical uses for which it had been intended, it was through the agency, not of a French, but of a British writer. This was Mr. Stirling, the author of the "Annals of the Artists of Spain,"—a work honorable to its author for the familiarity it shows, not only with the state of the arts in that country, but also with its literature.


Mr. Stirling, during a visit to the Peninsula, in 1849, made a pilgrimage to Yuste; and the traditions and hoary reminiscences gathered round the spot left such an impression on the traveller's mind, that, on his return to England, he made them the subject of two elaborate papers in Fraser's Magazine, in the numbers for April and May, 1851. Although these spirited essays rested wholly on printed works, which had long been accessible to the scholar, they were found to contain many new and highly interesting details; showing how superficially Mr.{147}

Stirling's predecessors had examined the records of the emperor's residence at Yuste. Still, in his account the author had omitted the most important feature of Charles's monastic life,—the influence which he exercised on the administration of the kingdom. This was to be gathered from the manuscripts of Simancas.

Mr. Stirling, who through that inexhaustible repository, the Handbook of Spain, had become acquainted with the existence of the Gonzalez MS., was, at the time of writing his essays, ignorant of its fate. On learning, afterwards, where it was to be found, he visited Paris, and, having obtained access to the volume, so far profited by its contents as to make them the basis of a separate work, which he entitled "The Cloister Life of Charles the Fifth." It soon attracted the attention of scholars, both at home and abroad, went through several editions, and was received, in short, with an avidity which showed both the importance attached to the developments the author had made, and the highly attractive form in which he had presented them to the reader.

The Parisian scholars were now stimulated to turn to account the treasure which had remained so long neglected on their shelves. In 1854, less than two years after the appearance of Mr. Stirling's book, M. Amédée Pichot published his "Chronique de Charles-Quint," a work which, far from being confined to the latter days of the emperor, covers the whole range of his biography, presenting a large amount of information in regard to his personal habits, as well as to the interior organization of his government, and the policy which directed it. The whole is enriched, moreover, by a multitude of historical incidents, which may be regarded rather as subsidiary than essential to the conduct of the narrative, which is enlivened by much ingenious criticism on the state of manners, arts, and moral culture of the period.

It was not long after the appearance of this work that M. Gachard, whom I have elsewhere noticed as having been commissioned by the Belgian government to make extensive researches in the Archives of Simancas, gave to the public some of the fruits of his labors, in the first volume of his "Retraite et Mort de Charles-Quint." It is devoted to the letters of the emperor and his household, which form the staple of the Gonzalez MS.; thus placing at the disposition of the future biographer of Charles the original materials with which to reconstruct the history of his latter days.

Lastly came the work, long expected, of M. Mignet, "Charles-Quint; son Abdication, son Séjour, et sa Mort au Monastère de Yuste." It was the reproduction, in a more extended and elaborate form, of a series of papers, the first of which appeared shortly after the publication of Mr. Stirling's book. In this work the French author takes the clear and comprehensive view of his subject so characteristic of his genius. The difficult and debatable points he discusses with acuteness and precision; and the whole story of Charles's monastic life he presents in so luminous an aspect to the reader as leaves nothing further to be desired.

The critic may take some interest in comparing the different manners in which the several writers have dealt with the subject, each according to his own taste, or the bent of his genius. Thus through Stirling's more free and familiar narrative there runs a pleasant vein of humor, with piquancy enough to give it relish, showing the author's sensibility to the ludicrous, for which Charles's stingy habits, and excessive love of good cheer, even in the convent, furnish frequent occasion.

Quite a different conception is formed by Mignet of the emperor's character, which he has cast in the true heroic mould, not deigning to recognize a single defect, however slight, which may at all impair the majesty of the proportions. Finally, Amédée Pichot, instead of the classical, may be said to have conformed to the romantic school in the arrangement of his subject, indulging in various picturesque episodes, which he has, however, combined so successfully with the main body of the narrative as not to impair the unity of interest.

Whatever may be thought of the comparative merits of these eminent writers in the execution of their task, the effect of their labors has undoubtedly been to make that the plainest which was before the most obscure portion of the history of Charles the Fifth.{148}




Civil Institutions.—Commercial Prosperity.—Character of the People.—Protestant Doctrines.—Persecution by Charles the Fifth.

We have now come to that portion of the narrative which seems to be rather in the nature of an episode, than part and parcel of our history; though from its magnitude and importance it is better entitled to be treated as an independent history by itself. This is the War of the Netherlands; opening the way to that great series of revolutions, the most splendid example of which is furnished by our own happy land. Before entering on this vast theme, it will be well to give a brief view of the country which forms the subject of it.

At the accession of Philip the Second, about the middle of the sixteenth century, the Netherlands, or Flanders, as the country was then usually called,[367] comprehended seventeen provinces, occupying much the same territory, but somewhat abridged, with that included in the present kingdoms of Holland and Belgium.[368] These provinces, under the various denominations of duchies, counties, and lordships, formed anciently so many separate states, each under the rule of its respective prince. Even when two or three of them, as sometimes happened, were brought together under one sceptre, each still maintained its own independent existence. In their institutions these states bore great resemblance to one another, and especially in the extent of the immunities conceded to the citizens as compared with those enjoyed in most of the countries of Christendom. No tax could be imposed, without the consent of an assembly consisting of the clergy, the nobles, and the representatives of the towns. No foreigner was eligible to office, and the native of one province was regarded as a foreigner by every other. These were insisted on as inalienable rights, although in later times none were more frequently disregarded by the rulers.[369]{149}


The condition of the commons in the Netherlands, during the Middle Ages, was far in advance of what it was in most other European countries at the same period. For this they were indebted to the character of the people, or rather to the peculiar circumstances which formed that character. Occupying a soil which had been redeemed with infinite toil and perseverance from the waters, their life was passed in perpetual struggle with the elements. They were early familiarized to the dangers of the ocean. The Flemish mariner was distinguished for the intrepid spirit with which he pushed his voyages into distant and unknown seas. An extended commerce opened to him a wide range of observation and experience; and to the bold and hardy character of the ancient Netherlander was added a spirit of enterprise, with such enlarged and liberal views as fitted him for taking part in the great concerns of the community. Villages and towns grew up rapidly. Wealth flowed in from this commercial activity, and the assistance which these little communities were thus enabled to afford their princes drew from the latter the concession of important political privileges, which established the independence of the citizen.

The tendency of things, however, was still to maintain the distinct individuality of the provinces, rather than to unite them into a common political body. They were peopled by different races, speaking different languages. In some of the provinces French was spoken, in others a dialect of the German. Their position, moreover, had often brought these petty states into rivalry, and sometimes into open war, with one another. The effects of these feuds continued after the causes of them had passed away; and mutual animosities still lingered in the breasts of the inhabitants, operating as a permanent source of disunion.

From these causes, after the greater part of the provinces had been brought together under the sceptre of the ducal house of Burgundy, in the fifteenth century, it was found impossible to fuse them into one nation. Even Charles the Fifth, with all his power and personal influence, found himself unequal to the task.[370] He was obliged to relinquish the idea of consolidating the different states into one monarchy, and to content himself with the position—not too grateful to a Spanish despot—of head of a republic, or, to speak more properly, of a confederacy of republics.

There was, however, some approach made to a national unity in the institution which grew up after the states were brought together under one sceptre. Thus, while each of the provinces maintained its own courts of justice, there was a supreme tribunal established at Mechlin, with appellate jurisdiction over all the provincial tribunals. In like manner, while each state had its own legislative assembly, there were the states-general, consisting of the clergy, the nobles, and the representatives of the towns, from each of the provinces. In this assembly—but rarely convened—were discussed the great questions having reference to the interests of the whole country. But the assembly was vested with no legislative authority. It could go no further than to present petitions to the sovereign for the redress of grievances. It possessed no right beyond the right of remonstrance. Even in questions of taxation, no{150} subsidy could be settled in that body, without the express sanction of each of the provincial legislatures. Such a form of government, it must be admitted, was altogether too cumbrous in its operations for efficient executive movement. It was by means favorable to the promptness and energy demanded for military enterprise. But it was a government which, however ill-suited in this respect to the temper of Charles the Fifth, was well suited to the genius of the inhabitants, and to their circumstances, which demanded peace. They had no ambition for foreign conquest. By the arts of peace they had risen to this unprecedented pitch of prosperity, and by peace alone, not by war, could they hope to maintain it.

But under the long rule of the Burgundian princes, and still more under that of Charles the Fifth, the people of the Netherlands felt the influence of those circumstances which in other parts of Europe were gradually compelling the popular, or rather the feudal element, to give way to the spirit of centralization. Thus in time the sovereign claimed the right of nominating all the higher clergy. In some instances he appointed the judges of the provincial courts; and the supreme tribunal of Mechlin was so far dependent on his authority, that all the judges were named and their salaries paid by the crown. The sovereign's authority was even stretched so far as to interfere not unfrequently with the rights exercised by the citizens in the election of their own magistrates,—rights that should have been cherished by them as of the last importance. As for the nobles, we cannot over-estimate the ascendancy which the master of an empire like that of Charles the Fifth must have obtained over men to whom he could open such boundless prospects in the career of ambition.[371]

But the personal character and the peculiar position of Charles tended still further to enlarge the royal authority. He was a Fleming by birth. He had all the tastes and habits of a Fleming. His early days had been passed in Flanders, and he loved to return to his native land as often as his busy life would permit him, and to seek in the free and joyous society of the Flemish capitals some relief from the solemn ceremonial of the Castilian court. This preference of their lord was repaid by the people of the Netherlands with feelings of loyal devotion.


But they had reason for feelings of deeper gratitude in the substantial benefits which the favor of Charles secured to them. It was for Flemings that the highest posts even in Spain were reserved, and the marked preference thus shown by the emperor to his countrymen was one great source of the troubles in Castile. The soldiers of the Netherlands accompanied Charles on his military expeditions, and their cavalry had the reputation of being the best appointed and best disciplined in the imperial army. The vast extent of his possessions, spreading over every quarter of the globe, offered a boundless range for the commerce of the Netherlands, which was everywhere admitted on the most favorable footing. Notwithstanding his occasional acts of violence and extortion, Charles was too sagacious not to foster the material interests of a country which contributed so essentially to his own resources. Under his protecting policy, the industry and ingenuity of the Flemings found ample scope in the various departments of husbandry, manufactures, and trade. The country was as thickly studded with large towns as other countries were with villages. In the middle of the sixteenth century it was computed to contain above three hundred and fifty cities, and more than six{151} thousand three hundred towns of a smaller size.[372] These towns were not the resort of monks and mendicants, as in other parts of the Continent, but they swarmed with a busy, laborious population. No man ate the bread of idleness in the Netherlands. At the period with which we are occupied Ghent counted 70,000 inhabitants, Brussels 75,000, and Antwerp 100,000. This was at a period when London itself contained but 150,000.[373]

The country, fertilized by its countless canals and sluices, exhibited everywhere that minute and patient cultivation which distinguishes it at the present day, but which in the middle of the sixteenth century had no parallel but in the lands tilled by the Moorish inhabitants of the south of Spain. The ingenious spirit of the people was shown in their dexterity in the mechanical arts, and in the talent for invention which seems to be characteristic of a people accustomed from infancy to the unfettered exercise of their faculties. The processes for simplifying labor were carried so far, that children, as we are assured, began, at four or five years of age, to earn a livelihood.[374] Each of the principal cities became noted for its excellence in some branch or other of manufacture. Lille was known for its woollen cloths, Brussels for its tapestry and carpets, Valenciennes for its camlets, while the towns of Holland and Zealand furnished a simpler staple in the form of cheese, butter, and salted fish.[375] These various commodities were exhibited at the great fairs held twice a year, for the space of twenty days each, at Antwerp, which were thronged by foreigners as well as natives.

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the Flemings imported great quantities of wool from England, to be manufactured into cloth at home. But Flemish emigrants had carried that manufacture to England; and in the time of Philip the Second the cloths themselves were imported from the latter country to the amount of above five millions of crowns annually, and exchanged for the domestic products of the Netherlands.[376] This single item of trade with one of their neighbors may suggest some notion of the extent of the commerce of the Low Countries at this period.

But in truth the commerce of the country stretched to the remotest corners of the globe. The inhabitants of the Netherlands, trained from early{152} youth to battle with the waves, found their true element on the ocean. "As much as Nature," says an enthusiastic writer, "restricted their domain on the land, so much the more did they extend their empire on the deep."[377] Their fleets were to be found on every sea. In the Euxine and in the Mediterranean they were rivals of the Venetian and the Genoese, and they contended with the English, and even with the Spaniards, for superiority on the "narrow seas" and the great ocean.

The wealth which flowed into the country from this extended trade was soon shown in the crowded population of its provinces and the splendor of their capitals. At the head of these stood the city of Antwerp, which occupied the place in the sixteenth century that Bruges had occupied in the fifteenth, as the commercial metropolis of the Netherlands. Two hundred and fifty vessels might often be seen at the same time taking in their cargoes at her quays.[378] Two thousand loaded wagons from the neighboring countries of France, Germany, and Lorraine daily passed through her gates;[379] and a greater number of vessels, freighted with merchandise from different quarters of the world, were to be seen floating at the same time on the waters of the Scheldt.[380]

The city, in common with the rest of Brabant, was distinguished by certain political privileges, which commended it as a place of residence even to foreigners. Women of the other provinces, it is said, when the time of their confinement drew near, would come to Brabant, that their offspring might claim the franchises of this favored portion of the Netherlands.[381] So jealous were the people of this province of their liberties, that in their oath of allegiance to their sovereign, on his accession, it was provided that this allegiance might lawfully be withheld whenever he ceased to respect their privileges.[382]

Under the shelter of its municipal rights, foreigners settled in great numbers in Antwerp. The English established a factory there. There was also a Portuguese company, an Italian company, a company of merchants from the Hanse Towns, and, lastly, a Turkish company, which took up its residence there for the purpose of pursuing a trade with the Levant. A great traffic was carried on in bills of exchange. Antwerp, in short, became the banking-house of Europe; and capitalists, the Rothschilds of their day, whose dealings were with sovereign princes, fixed their abode in Antwerp, which was to the rest of Europe in the sixteenth century what London is in the nineteenth,—the great heart of commercial circulation.[383]


In 1531, the public Exchange was erected, the finest building of its kind at that time anywhere to be seen. The city, indeed, was filled with stately edifices, the largest of which, the great cathedral, having been nearly destroyed by fire, soon after the opening of the Exchange, was rebuilt, and still remains{153} a noble specimen of the architectural science of the time. Another age was to see the walls of the same cathedral adorned with those exquisite productions of Rubens and his disciples, which raised the Flemish school to a level with the great Italian masters.

The rapidly increasing opulence of the city was visible in the luxurious accommodations and sumptuous way of living of the inhabitants. The merchants of Antwerp rivalled the nobles of other lands in the splendor of their dress and domestic establishments. Something of the same sort showed itself in the middle classes; and even in those of humbler condition, there was a comfort approaching to luxury in their households, which attracted the notice of an Italian writer of the sixteenth century. He commends the scrupulous regard to order and cleanliness observed in the arrangement of the dwellings, and expresses his admiration, not only of the careful attention given by the women to their domestic duties, but also of their singular capacity for conducting those business affairs usually reserved for the other sex. This was particularly the case in Holland.[384] But this freedom of intercourse was no disparagement to their feminine qualities. The liberty they assumed did not degenerate into licence; and he concludes his animated portraiture of these Flemish matrons by pronouncing them as discreet as they were beautiful.

The humbler classes, in so abject a condition in other parts of Europe at that day, felt the good effects of this general progress in comfort and civilization. It was rare to find one, we are told, so illiterate as not to be acquainted with the rudiments of grammar; and there was scarcely a peasant who could not both read and write;[385]—this at a time when to read and write were accomplishments not always possessed, in other countries, by those even in the higher walks of life.

It was not possible that a people so well advanced in the elements of civilization should long remain insensible to the great religious reform which, having risen on their borders, was now rapidly spreading over Christendom. Besides the contiguity of the Netherlands to Germany, their commerce with other countries had introduced them to Protestantism as it existed there. The foreign residents, and the Swiss and German mercenaries quartered in the provinces, had imported along with them these same principles of the Reformation; and lastly the Flemish nobles, who, at that time, were much in the fashion of going abroad to study in Geneva, returned from that stronghold of Calvin well fortified with the doctrines of the great Reformer.[386] Thus the seeds of the Reformation, whether in the Lutheran or the Calvinistic form, were scattered wide over the land, and took root in a congenial soil. The phlegmatic temperament of the northern provinces, especially, disposed them to receive a religion which addressed itself so exclusively to the reason, while they were less open to the influences of Catholicism, which, with its gorgeous accessories, appealing to the passions, is better suited to the lively sensibilities and kindling imaginations of the south.{154}

It is not to be supposed that Charles the Fifth could long remain insensible to this alarming defection of his subjects in the Netherlands; nor that the man whose life was passed in battling with the Lutherans of Germany could patiently submit to see their detested heresy taking root in his own dominions. He dreaded this innovation no less in a temporal than in a spiritual view. Experience had shown that freedom of speculation in affairs of religion naturally led to free inquiry into political abuses; that the work of the reformer was never accomplished so long as anything remained to reform, in state as well as in church. Charles, with the instinct of Spanish despotism, sought a remedy in one of those acts of arbitrary power in which he indulged without scruple when the occasion called for them.

In March, 1520, he published the first of his barbarous edicts for the suppression of the new faith. It was followed by several others of the same tenor, repeated at intervals throughout his reign. The last appeared in September, 1550.[387] As this in a manner suspended those that had preceded it, to which, however, it substantially conformed, and as it became the basis of Philip's subsequent legislation, it will be well to recite its chief provisions.

By this edict, or "placard," as it was called, it was ordained that all who were convicted of heresy should suffer death "by fire, by the pit, or by the sword;"[388] in other words, should be burned alive, be buried alive, or be beheaded. These terrible penalties were incurred by all who dealt in heretical books, or copied or bought them, by all who held or attended conventicles, by all who disputed on the Scriptures in public or private, by all who preached or defended the doctrines of reform. Informers were encouraged by the promise of one half of the confiscated estate of the heretic. No suspected person was allowed to make any donation, or sell any of his effects, or dispose of them by will. Finally, the courts were instructed to grant no remission or mitigation of punishment under the fallacious idea of mercy to the convicted party, and it was made penal for the friends of the accused to solicit such indulgence on his behalf.[389]

The more thoroughly to enforce these edicts, Charles took a hint from the terrible tribunal with which he was familiar in Spain,—the Inquisition. He obtained a bull from his old preceptor, Adrian the Sixth, appointing an inquisitor-general, who had authority to examine persons suspected of heresy, to imprison and torture them, to confiscate their property, and finally sentence them to banishment or death. These formidable powers were intrusted to a layman,—a lawyer of eminence, and one of the council of Brabant. But this zealous functionary employed his authority with so good effect, that it speedily roused the general indignation of his countrymen, who compelled him to fly for his life.

By another bull from Rome, four inquisitors were appointed in the place of the fugitive. These inquisitors were ecclesiastics, not of the fierce Dominican order, as in Spain, but members of the secular clergy. All public officers were enjoined to aid them in detecting and securing suspected persons, and the common prisons were allotted for the confinement of their victims.


The people would seem to have gained little by the substitution of four inquisitors{155} for one. But in fact they gained a great deal. The sturdy resistance made to the exercise of the unconstitutional powers of the inquisitor-general compelled Charles to bring those of the new functionaries more within the limits of the law. For twenty years or more their powers seem not to have been well defined. But in 1546 it was decreed that no sentence whatever could be pronounced by an inquisitor without the sanction of some member of the provincial council. Thus, however barbarous the law against heresy, the people of the Netherlands had this security, that it was only by their own regular courts of justice that this law was to be interpreted and enforced.[390]

Such were the expedients adopted by Charles the Fifth for the suppression of heresy in the Netherlands. Notwithstanding the name of "inquisitors," the new establishment bore faint resemblance to the dread tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition, with which it has been often confounded.[391] The Holy Office presented a vast and complicated machinery, skilfully adapted to the existing institutions of Castile. It may be said to have formed part of the government itself, and, however restricted in its original design, it became in time a formidable political engine, no less than a religious one. The grand-inquisitor was clothed with an authority before which the monarch himself might tremble. On some occasions, he even took precedence of the monarch. The courts of the Inquisition were distributed throughout the country, and were conducted with a solemn pomp that belonged to no civil tribunal. Spacious buildings were erected for their accommodation, and the gigantic prisons of the Inquisition rose up, like impregnable fortresses, in the principal cities of the kingdom. A swarm of menials and officials waited to do its bidding. The proudest nobles of the land held it an honor to serve as familiars of the Holy Office. In the midst of this external pomp, the impenetrable veil thrown over its proceedings took strong hold of the imagination, investing the tribunal with a sort of supernatural terror. An individual disappeared from the busy scenes of life. No one knew whither he had gone, till he reappeared, clothed in the fatal garb of the san benito, to take part in the tragic spectacle of an auto da fé. This was the great triumph of the Inquisition, rivalling the ancient Roman triumph in the splendor of the show, and surpassing it in the solemn and mysterious import of the ceremonial. It was hailed with enthusiasm by the fanatical Spaniard of that day, who, in the martyrdom of the infidel, saw only a sacrifice most acceptable to the Deity. The Inquisition succeeded in Spain, for it was suited to the character of the Spaniard.

But it was not suited to the free and independent character of the people of the Netherlands. Freedom of thought they claimed as their birthright; and the attempt to crush it by introducing the pernicious usages of Spain was everywhere received with execration. Such an institution was an accident, and could not become an integral part of the constitution. It was a{156} vicious graft on a healthy stock. It could bear no fruit, and sooner or later it must perish.

Yet the Inquisition, such as it was, did its work while it lasted in the Netherlands. This is true, at least, if we are to receive the popular statement, that fifty thousand persons, in the reign of Charles the Fifth, suffered for their religious opinions by the hand of the executioner![392] This monstrous statement has been repeated by one historian after another, with apparently as little distrust as examination. It affords one among many examples of the facility with which men adopt the most startling results, especially when conveyed in the form of numerical estimates. There is something that strikes the imagination, in a numerical estimate, which settles a question so summarily, in a form so precise and so portable. Yet whoever has had occasion to make any researches into the past,—that land of uncertainty,—will agree that there is nothing less entitled to confidence.

In the present instance, such a statement might seem to carry its own refutation on the face of it. Llorente, the celebrated secretary of the Holy Office, whose estimates will never be accused of falling short of the amount, computes the whole number of victims sacrificed during the first eighteen years of the Inquisition in Castile, when it was in most active operation, at about ten thousand.[393] The storm of persecution there, it will be remembered, fell chiefly on the Jews,—that ill-omened race, from whom every pious Catholic would have rejoiced to see his land purified by fire and fagot. It will hardly be believed that five times the number of these victims perished in a country like the Netherlands, in a term of time not quite double that occupied for their extermination in Spain;—the Netherlands, where every instance of such persecution, instead of being hailed as a triumph of the Cross, was regarded as a fresh outrage on the liberties of the nation. It is not too much to say, that such a number of martyrs as that pretended would have produced an explosion that would have unsettled the authority of Charles himself, and left for his successor less territory in the Netherlands at the beginning of his reign, than he was destined to have at the end of it.

Indeed, the frequent renewal of the edicts, which was repeated no less than nine times during Charles's administration, intimates plainly enough the very sluggish and unsatisfactory manner in which they had been executed. In some provinces, as Luxembourg and Groningen, the Inquisition was not introduced at all. Gueldres stood on its privileges, guaranteed to it by the emperor on his accession. And Brabant so effectually remonstrated on the mischief which the mere name of the Inquisition would do to the trade of the country, and especially of Antwerp, its capital, that the emperor deemed it prudent to qualify some of the provisions, and to drop the name of Inquisitor altogether.[394] There is no way more sure of rousing the sensibilities of a commercial people, than by touching their pockets. Charles did not care to press matters to such extremity. He was too politic a prince, too large a gainer by the prosperity of his people, willingly to put it in peril, even for conscience' sake. In this lay the difference between him and Philip.


Notwithstanding, therefore, his occasional abuse of power, and the little respect he may have had at heart for the civil rights of his subjects, the government of Charles, as already intimated, was on the whole favorable to their commercial interests. He was well repaid by the enlarged resources of the country, and the aid they afforded him for the prosecution of his ambitious{157} enterprises. In the course of a few years, as we are informed by a contemporary, he drew from the Netherlands no less than twenty-four millions of ducats.[395] And this supply—furnished not ungrudgingly, it is true—was lavished, for the most part, on objects in which the nation had no interest. In like manner, it was the revenues of the Netherlands which defrayed great part of Philip's expenses in the war that followed his accession. "Here," exclaims the Venetian envoy, Soriano, "were the true treasures of the king of Spain; here were his mines, his Indies, which furnished Charles with the means of carrying on his wars for so many years with the French, the Germans, the Italians, which provided for the defence of his own states, and maintained his dignity and reputation."[396]

Such then was the condition of the country at the time when the sceptre passed from the hands of Charles the Fifth into those of Philip the Second;—its broad plains teeming with the products of an elaborate culture; its cities swarming with artisans, skilled in all kinds of ingenious handicraft; its commerce abroad on every sea, and bringing back rich returns from distant climes. The great body of its people, well advanced in the arts of civilization, rejoiced in "such abundance of all things," says a foreigner who witnessed their prosperity, "that there was no man, however humble, who did not seem rich for his station."[397] In this active development of their powers, the inquisitive mind of the inhabitants naturally turned to those great problems in religion which were agitating the neighboring countries of France and Germany. All the efforts of Charles were unavailing to check the spirit of inquiry; and in the last year of his reign he bitterly confessed the total failure of his endeavor to stay the progress of heresy in the Netherlands.[398] Well had it been for his successor, had he taken counsel by the failure of his father, and substituted a more lenient policy for the ineffectual system of persecution. But such was not the policy of Philip.



Unpopular Manners of Philip.—He enforces the Edicts.—Increase of Bishoprics.—Margaret of Parma Regent.—Meeting of the States-General.—Their spirited Conduct.—Organization of the Councils.—Rise and Character of Granvelle.—Philip's Departure.


Philip the Second was no stranger to the Netherlands. He had come there, as it will be remembered, when very young, to be presented by his father to his future subjects. On that occasion he had greatly disgusted the{158} people by that impenetrable reserve which they construed into haughtiness, and which strongly contrasted with the gracious manners of the emperor. Charles saw with pain the impression which his son had left on his subjects; and the effects of his paternal admonitions were visible in a marked change in Philip's deportment on his subsequent visit to England. But nature lies deeper than manner; and when Philip returned, on his father's abdication, to assume the sovereignty of the Netherlands, he wore the same frigid exterior as in earlier days.

His first step was to visit the different provinces, and receive from them their oaths of allegiance. No better occasion could be offered for conciliating the good-will of the inhabitants. Everywhere his approach was greeted with festivities and public rejoicing. The gates of the capitals were thrown open to receive him, and the population thronged out, eager to do homage to their new sovereign. It was a season of jubilee for the whole nation.

In this general rejoicing, Philip's eye alone remained dark.[399] Shut up in his carriage, he seemed desirous to seclude himself from the gaze of his new subjects, who crowded around, anxious to catch a glimpse of their young monarch.[400] His conduct seemed like a rebuke of their enthusiasm. Thus chilled as they were in the first flow of their loyalty, his progress through the land, which should have won him all hearts, closed all hearts against him.

The emperor, when he visited the Netherlands, was like one coming back to his native country. He spoke the language of the people, dressed in their dress, conformed to their usages and way of life. But Philip was in everything a Spaniard. He spoke only the Castilian. He adopted the Spanish etiquette and burdensome ceremonial. He was surrounded by Spaniards, and, with few exceptions, it was to Spaniards only that he gave his confidence. Charles had disgusted his Spanish subjects by the marked preference he had given to his Flemish. The reverse now took place, and Philip displeased the Flemings by his partiality for the Spaniards. The people of the Netherlands felt with bitterness that the sceptre of their country had passed into the hands of a foreigner.

During his progress Philip caused reports to be prepared for him of the condition of the several provinces, their population and trade,—presenting a mass of statistical details, in which, with his usual industry, he was careful to instruct himself. On his return, his first concern was to provide for the interests of religion. He renewed his father's edicts relating to the Inquisition, and in the following year confirmed the "placard" respecting heresy. In doing this, he was careful, by the politic advice of Granvelle, to conform as nearly as possible to the language of the original edicts, that no charge of innovation might be laid to him, and thus the odium of these unpopular measures might remain with their original author.[401]



But the object which Philip had most at heart was a reform much needed in the ecclesiastical establishment of the country. It may seem strange that in all the Netherlands there were but three bishoprics,—Arras, Tournay, and Utrecht. A large part of the country was incorporated with some one or other of the contiguous German dioceses. The Flemish bishoprics were of enormous extent. That of Utrecht alone embraced no less than three hundred walled towns, and eleven hundred churches.[402] It was impossible that any pastor, however diligent, could provide for the wants of a flock so widely scattered, or that he could exercise supervision over the clergy themselves, who had fallen into a lamentable decay both of discipline and morals.

Still greater evils followed from the circumstance of the episcopal authority's being intrusted to foreigners. From their ignorance of the institutions of the Netherlands, they were perpetually trespassing on the rights of the nation. Another evil consequence was the necessity of carrying up ecclesiastical causes, by way of appeal, to foreign tribunals; a thing, moreover, scarcely practicable in time of war.

Charles the Fifth, whose sagacious mind has left its impress on the permanent legislation of the Netherlands, saw the necessity of some reform in this matter. He accordingly applied to Rome for leave to erect six bishoprics, in addition to those previously existing in the country. But his attention was too much distracted by other objects to allow time for completing his design. With his son Philip, on the other hand, no object was allowed to come in competition with the interests of the Church. He proposed to make the reform on a larger scale than his father had done, and applied to Paul the Fourth for leave to create fourteen bishoprics and three archbishoprics. The chief difficulty lay in providing for the support of the new dignitaries. On consultation with Granvelle, who had not been advised of the scheme till after Philip's application to Rome, it was arranged that the income should be furnished by the abbey lands of the respective dioceses, and that the abbeys themselves should hereafter be placed under the control of priors or provosts depending altogether on the bishops. Meanwhile, until the bulls should be received from Rome, it was determined to keep the matter profoundly secret. It was easy to foresee that a storm of opposition would arise, not only among those immediately interested in preserving the present order of things, but among the great body of the nobles, who would look with an evil eye on the admission into their ranks of so large a number of persons servilely devoted to the interests of the crown.[403]

Having concluded his arrangements for the internal settlement of the country, Philip naturally turned his thoughts towards Spain. He was the more desirous of returning thither from the reports he received, that even that orthodox land was becoming every day more tainted with the heretical doctrines so rife in the neighboring countries. There were no hostilities to detain him longer in the Netherlands, now that the war with France had been brought to a close. The provinces, as we have already stated, had furnished the king with important aid for carrying on that war, by the grant of a stipulated annual tax for nine years. This had not proved equal to his necessities. It was in vain, however, to expect any further concessions from the states. They had borne, not without murmurs, the heavy burdens laid on them by Charles,—a monarch whom they loved. They bore still more impatiently the impositions of a prince whom they loved so little as Philip. Yet the latter seemed ready to make any sacrifice of his permanent interests for such temporary{160} relief as would extricate him from his present embarrassments. His correspondence with Granvelle on the subject, unfolding the suicidal schemes which he submitted to that minister, might form an edifying chapter in the financial history of that day.[404] The difficulty of carrying on the government of the Netherlands in this crippled state of the finances doubtless strengthened the desire of the monarch to return to his native land, where the manners and habits of the people were so much more congenial with his own.

Before leaving the country, it was necessary to provide a suitable person to whom the reins of government might be intrusted. The duke of Savoy, who, since the emperor's abdication, had held the post of regent, was now to return to his own dominions, restored to him by the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis. There were several persons who presented themselves for this responsible office in the Netherlands. One of the most prominent was Lamoral, prince of Gavre, count of Egmont, the hero of St. Quentin and of Gravelines. The illustrious house from which he was descended, his chivalrous spirit, his frank and generous bearing, no less than his brilliant military achievements, had made him the idol of the people. There were some who insisted that these achievements inferred rather the successful soldier than the great captain;[405] and that, whatever merit he could boast in the field, it was no proof of his capacity for so important a civil station as that of governor of the Netherlands. Yet it could not be doubted that his nomination would be most acceptable to the people. This did not recommend him to Philip.

Another candidate was Christine, duchess of Lorraine, the king's cousin. The large estates of her house lay in the neighborhood of the Netherlands. She had shown her talent for political affairs by the part she had taken in effecting the arrangements of Cateau-Cambresis. The prince of Orange, lately become a widower, was desirous, it was said, of marrying her daughter. Neither did this prove a recommendation with Philip, who was by no means anxious to raise the house of Orange higher in the scale, still less to intrust it with the destinies of the Netherlands. In a word, the monarch had no mind to confide the regency of the country to any one of its powerful nobles.[406]

The individual on whom the king at length decided to bestow this mark of his confidence was his half-sister, Margaret, duchess of Parma. She was the natural daughter of Charles the Fifth, born about four years before his marriage with Isabella of Portugal. Margaret's mother, Margaret Vander Gheenst, belonged to a noble Flemish house. Her parents both died during her infancy. The little orphan was received into the family of Count Hoogstraten, who, with his wife, reared her with the same tenderness as they did their own offspring. At the age of seventeen she was unfortunate enough to attract the eye of Charles the Fifth, who, then in his twenty-third year, was captivated by the charms of the Flemish maiden. Margaret's virtue was not proof against the seductions of her royal suitor; and the victim of love—or of vanity—became the mother of a child, who received her own name of Margaret.


The emperor's aunt, then regent of the Netherlands, took charge of the{161} infant; and on the death of that princess, she was taken into the family of the emperor's sister, Mary, queen of Hungary, who succeeded in the regency. Margaret's birth did not long remain a secret; and she received an education suited to the high station she was to occupy in life. When only twelve years of age, the emperor gave her in marriage to Alexander de'Medici, grand duke of Tuscany, some fifteen years older than herself. The ill-fated connection did not subsist long, as, before twelve months had elapsed, it was terminated by the violent death of her husband.

When she had reached the age of womanhood, the hand of the young widow was bestowed, together with the duchies of Parma and Placentia as her dowry, on Ottavio Farnese, grandson of Paul the Third. The bridegroom was but twelve years old. Thus again it was Margaret's misfortune that there should be such disparity between her own age and that of her husband as to exclude anything like sympathy or similarity in their tastes. In the present instance, the boyish years of Ottavio inspired her with a sentiment not very different from contempt, that in later life settled into an indifference in which both parties appear to have shared, and which, as a contemporary remarks with naïveté, was only softened into a kindlier feeling when the husband and wife had been long separated from each other.[407] In truth, Margaret was too ambitious of power to look on her husband in any other light than that of a rival.

In her general demeanor, her air, her gait, she bore great resemblance to her aunt, the regent. Like her, Margaret was excessively fond of hunting, and she followed the chase with an intrepidity that might have daunted the courage of the keenest sportsman. She had but little of the natural softness that belongs to the sex, but in her whole deportment was singularly masculine; so that, to render the words of the historian by a homely phrase, in her woman's dress she seemed like a man in petticoats.[408] As if to add to the illusion, Nature had given her somewhat of a beard; and, to crown the whole, the malady to which she was constitutionally subject was a disease to which women are but rarely liable,—the gout.[409] It was good evidence of her descent from Charles the Fifth.

Though masculine in her appearance, Margaret was not destitute of the kindlier qualities which are the glory of her sex. Her disposition was good; but she relied much on the advice of others, and her more objectionable acts may probably be referred rather to their influence than to any inclination of her own.

Her understanding was excellent, her apprehension quick. She showed much versatility in accommodating herself to the exigencies of her position, as well as adroitness in the management of affairs, which she may have acquired in the schools of Italian politics. In religion she was as orthodox as Philip the Second could desire. The famous Ignatius Loyola had been her confessor in early days. The lessons of humility which he inculcated were not lost on her, as may be inferred from the care she took to perform the ceremony, in Holy Week, of washing the dirty feet—she preferred them in this condition—of twelve poor maidens;[410] outstripping, in this particular,{162} the humility of the pope himself.—Such was the character of Margaret, duchess of Parma, who now, in the thirty-eighth year of her age, was called, at a most critical period, to take the helm of the Netherlands.

The appointment seems to have given equal satisfaction to herself and to her husband, and no objection was made to Philip's purpose of taking back with him to Castile their little son, Alexander Farnese,—a name destined to become in later times so renowned in the Netherlands. The avowed purpose was to give the boy a training suited to his rank, under the eye of Philip; combined with which, according to the historian, was the desire of holding a hostage for the fidelity of Margaret and of her husband, whose dominions in Italy lay contiguous to those of Philip in that country.[411]

Early in June, 1559, Margaret of Parma, having reached the Low Countries, made her entrance in great state into Brussels, where Philip awaited her, surrounded by his whole court of Spanish and Flemish nobles. The duke of Savoy was also present, as well as Margaret's husband, the duke of Parma, then in attendance on Philip. The appointment of Margaret was not distasteful to the people of the Netherlands, for she was their countrywoman, and her early days had been passed amongst them. Her presence was not less welcome to Philip, who looked forward with eagerness to the hour of his departure. His first purpose was to present the new regent to the nation, and for this he summoned a meeting of the States-General at Ghent, in the coming August.

On the twenty-fifth of July, he repaired with his court to this ancient capital, which still smarted under the effects of that chastisement of his father, which, terrible as it was, had not the power to break the spirits of the men of Ghent. The presence of the court was celebrated with public rejoicings, which continued for three days, during which Philip held a chapter of the Golden Fleece for the election of fourteen knights. The ceremony was conducted with the magnificence with which the meetings of this illustrious order were usually celebrated. It was memorable as the last chapter of it ever held.[412] Founded by the dukes of Burgundy, the order of the Golden Fleece drew its members immediately from the nobility of the Netherlands. When the Spanish sovereign, who remained at its head, no more resided in the country, the chapters were discontinued; and the knights derived their appointment from the simple nomination of the monarch.

On the eighth of August, the States-General assembled at Ghent. The sturdy burghers who took their seats in this body came thither in no very friendly temper to the government. Various subjects of complaint had long been rankling in their bosoms, and now found vent in the form of animated and angry debate. The people had been greatly alarmed by the avowed policy of their rulers to persevere in the system of religious persecution, as shown especially by the revival of the ancient edicts against heresy and in support of the Inquisition. Rumors had gone abroad, probably with exaggeration, of the proposed episcopal reforms. However necessary, they were now regarded only as part of the great scheme of persecution. Different nations, it was urged, required to be guided by different laws. What suited the Spaniards would not for that reason suit the people of the Netherlands. The Inquisition was ill adapted to men accustomed from their cradles to freedom of thought and action. Persecution was not to be justified in matters of conscience, and men were not to be reclaimed from spiritual error by violence, but by gentleness and persuasion.


But what most called forth the invective of the Flemish orators was the presence of a large body of foreign troops in the country. When Philip disbanded{163} his forces after the French war had terminated, there still remained a corps of the old Spanish infantry, amounting to some three or four thousands, which he thought proper to retain in the western provinces. His avowed object was to protect the country from any violence on the part of the French. Another reason assigned by him was the difficulty of raising funds to pay their arrears. The true motive, in the opinion of the states, was to enforce the execution of the new measures, and overcome any resistance that might be made in the country. These troops, like most of the soldiers of that day, who served for plunder quite as much as for pay, had as little respect for the rights or the property of their allies, as for those of their enemies. They quartered themselves on the peaceful inhabitants of the country, and obtained full compensation for loss of pay by a system of rapine and extortion that beggared the people, and drove them to desperation. Conflicts with the soldiery occasionally occurred, and in some parts the peasantry even refused to repair the dikes, in order to lay the country under water rather than submit to such outrages! "How is it," exclaimed the bold syndic of Ghent, "that we find foreign soldiers thus quartered on us, in open violation of our liberties? Are not our own troops able to protect us from the dangers of invasion? Must we be ground to the dust by the exactions of these mercenaries in peace, after being burdened with the maintenance of them in war?" These remonstrances were followed by a petition to the throne, signed by members of the other orders as well as the commons, requesting that the king would be graciously pleased to respect the privileges of the nation, and send back the foreign troops to their own homes.

Philip, who sat in the assembly with his sister, the future regent, by his side, was not prepared for this independent spirit in the burghers of the Netherlands. The royal ear had been little accustomed to this strain of invective from the subject. For it was rare that the tone of remonstrance was heard in the halls of Castilian legislation, since the power of the commons had been broken on the field of Villalar. Unable or unwilling to conceal his displeasure, the king descended from his throne, and abruptly quitted the assembly.[413]

Yet he did not, like Charles the First of England, rashly vent his indignation by imprisoning or persecuting the members who had roused it. Even the stout syndic of Ghent was allowed to go unharmed. Philip looked above him to a mark more worthy of his anger,—to those of the higher orders who had encouraged the spirit of resistance in the commons. The most active of these malecontents was William of Orange. That noble, as it may be remembered, was one of the hostages who remained at the Court of Henry the Second for the fulfilment of the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis. While there, a strange disclosure was made to the prince by the French monarch, who told him that, through the duke of Alva, a secret treaty had been entered into with his master, the king of Spain, for the extirpation of heresy throughout their dominions. This inconsiderate avowal of the French king was made to William on the supposition that he was stanch in the Roman Catholic faith, and entirely in his master's confidence. Whatever may have been the prince's claims to orthodoxy at this period, it is certain he was not in Philip's confidence. It is equally certain that he possessed one Christian virtue which belonged neither to Philip nor to Henry,—the virtue of toleration. Greatly shocked by the intelligence he had received, William at once communicated it to several of his friends in the Netherlands. One of the letters unfortunately{164} fell into Philip's hands. The prince soon after obtained permission to return to his own country, bent, as he tells us in his Apology, on ridding it of the Spanish vermin.[414] Philip, who understood the temper of his mind, had his eye on his movements, and knew well to what source, in part at least, he was to attribute the present opposition. It was not long after, that a Castilian courtier intimated to the prince of Orange and to Egmont, that it would be well for them to take heed to themselves; that the names of those who had signed the petition for the removal of the troops had been noted down, and that Philip and his council were resolved, when a fitting occasion offered, to call them to a heavy reckoning for their temerity.[415]

Yet the king so far yielded to the wishes of the people as to promise the speedy departure of the troops. But no power on earth could have been strong enough to shake his purpose where the interests of religion were involved. Nor would he abate one jot of the stern provisions of the edicts. When one of his ministers, more hardy than the rest, ventured to suggest to him that perseverance in this policy might cost him the sovereignty of the provinces, "Better not reign at all," he answered, "than reign over heretics!"[416]—an answer extolled by some as the height of the sublime, by others derided as the extravagance of a fanatic. In whatever light we view it, it must be admitted to furnish the key to the permanent policy of Philip in his government of the Netherlands.

Before dissolving the States-General, Philip, unacquainted with the language of the country, addressed the deputies through the mouth of the bishop of Arras. He expatiated on the warmth of his attachment to his good people of the Netherlands, and paid them a merited tribute for their loyalty both to his father and to himself. He enjoined on them to show similar respect to the regent, their own countrywoman, into whose hands he had committed the government. They would reverence the laws and maintain public tranquillity. Nothing would conduce to this so much as the faithful execution of the edicts. It was their sacred duty to aid in the extermination of heretics,—the deadliest foes both of God and their sovereign. Philip concluded by assuring the states that he should soon return in person to the Netherlands, or send his son Don Carlos as his representative.

The answer of the legislature was temperate and respectful. They made no allusion to Philip's proposed ecclesiastical reforms, as he had not authorized this by any allusion to them himself. They still pressed, however, the removal of the foreign troops, and the further removal of all foreigners from office, as contrary to the constitution of the land. This last shaft was aimed at Granvelle, who held a high post in the government, and was understood to be absolute in the confidence of the king. Philip renewed his assurances of the dismissal of the forces, and that within the space, as he promised, of four months. The other request of the deputies he did not condescend to notice. His feelings on the subject were intimated in an exclamation he{165} made to one of his ministers: "I too am a foreigner; will they refuse to obey me as their sovereign?"[417]


The regent was to be assisted in the government by three councils which of old time had existed in the land;—the council of finance, for the administration, as the name implies, of the revenues; the privy council, for affairs of justice and the internal concerns of the country; and the council of state, for matters relating to peace and war, and the foreign policy of the nation. Into this last, the supreme council, entered several of the Flemish nobles, and among them the prince of Orange and Count Egmont. There were, besides, Count Barlaimont, president of the council of finance, Viglius, president of the privy council, and lastly Granvelle, bishop of Arras.

The regent was to act with the coöperation of these several bodies in their respective departments. In the conduct of the government, she was to be guided by the council of state. But by private instructions of Philip, questions of a more delicate nature, involving the tranquillity of the country, might be first submitted to a select portion of this council; and in such cases, or when a spirit of faction had crept into the council, the regent, if she deemed it for the interest of the state, might adopt the opinion of the minority. The select body with whom Margaret was to advise in the more important matters was termed the Consulta; and the members who composed it were Barlaimont, Viglius, and the bishop of Arras.[418]

The first of these men, Count Barlaimont, belonged to an ancient Flemish family. With respectable talents and constancy of purpose, he was entirely devoted to the interests of the crown. The second, Viglius, was a jurist of extensive erudition, at this time well advanced in years, and with infirmities that might have pressed heavily on a man less patient of toil. He was personally attached to Granvelle; and as his views of government coincided very nearly with that minister's, Viglius was much under his influence. The last of the three, Granvelle, from his large acquaintance with affairs, and his adroitness in managing them, was far superior to his colleagues;[419] and he soon acquired such an ascendancy over them, that the government may be said to have rested on his shoulders. As there is no man who for some years is to take so prominent a part in the story of the Netherlands, it will be proper to introduce the reader to some acquaintance with his earlier history.

Anthony Perrenot—whose name of Granvelle was derived from an estate purchased by his father—was born in the year 1517, at Besançon, a town in Franche Comté. His father, Nicholas Perrenot, founded the fortunes of the family, and from the humble condition of a poor country attorney rose to the{166} rank of chancellor of the empire. This extraordinary advancement was not owing to caprice, but to his unwearied industry, extensive learning, and a clear and comprehensive intellect, combined with steady devotion to the interests of his master, Charles the Fifth. His talent for affairs led him to be employed not merely in official business, but in diplomatic missions of great importance. In short, he possessed the confidence of the emperor to a degree enjoyed by no other subject; and when the chancellor died, in 1550, Charles pronounced his eulogy to Philip in a single sentence, saying that in Granvelle they had lost the man on whose wisdom they could securely repose.[420]

Anthony Perrenot, distinguished from his father in later times as Cardinal Granvelle, was the eldest of eleven children. In his childhood he discovered such promise, that the chancellor bestowed much pains personally on his instruction. At fourteen he was sent to Padua, and after some years was removed to Louvain, then the university of greatest repute in the Netherlands. It was not till later that the seminary of Douay was founded, under the auspices of Philip the Second.[421] At the university, the young Perrenot soon distinguished himself by the vivacity of his mind, the acuteness of his perceptions, an industry fully equal to his father's, and remarkable powers of acquisition. Besides a large range of academic study, he made himself master of seven languages, so as to read and converse in them with fluency. He seemed to have little relish for the amusements of the youth of his own age. His greatest amusement was a book. Under this incessant application his health gave way, and for a time his studies were suspended.

Whether from his father's preference or his own, young Granvelle embraced the ecclesiastical profession. At the age of twenty-one he was admitted to orders. The son of the chancellor was not slow in his advancement, and he was soon possessed of several good benefices. But the ambitious and worldly temper of Granvelle was not to be satisfied with the humble duties of the ecclesiastic. It was not long before he was called to court by his father, and there a brilliant career was opened to his aspiring genius.

The young man soon showed such talent for business, and such shrewd insight into character, as, combined with the stores of learning he had at his command, made his services of great value to his father. He accompanied the chancellor on some of his public missions, among others to the Council of Trent, where the younger Granvelle, who had already been promoted to the see of Arras, first had the opportunity of displaying that subtle, insinuating eloquence, which captivated as much as it convinced.


The emperor saw with satisfaction the promise afforded by the young statesman, and looked forward to the time when he would prove the same pillar of support to his administration that his father had been before him. Nor was that time far distant. As the chancellor's health declined, the son became more intimately associated with his father in the counsels of the emperor. He justified this confidence by the unwearied toil with which he devoted himself to the business of the cabinet; a toil to which even night seemed to afford no respite. He sometimes employed five secretaries at once, dictating to them in as many different languages.[422] The same thing, or something{167} as miraculous, has been told of other remarkable men, both before and since. As a mere tour de force Granvelle may possibly have amused himself with it. But it was not in this way that the correspondence was written which furnishes the best key to the events of the time. If it had been so written, it would never have been worth the publication.

Every evening Granvelle presented himself before the emperor, and read to him the programme he had prepared of the business of the following day, with his own suggestions.[423] The foreign ambassadors who resided at the court were surprised to find the new minister so entirely in the secrets of his master; and that he was as well instructed in all their doings as the emperor himself.[424] In short, the confidence of Charles, given slowly and with much hesitation, was at length bestowed as freely on the son as it had been on the father. The two Granvelles may be truly said to have been the two persons who most possessed the confidence of the emperor, from the time that he took the reins of government into his own hands.

When raised to the see of Arras, Granvelle was but twenty-five years old. It is rare that the mitre has descended on a man of a more ambitious spirit. Yet Granvelle was not averse to the good things of the world, nor altogether insensible to its pomps and vanities. He affected great state in his manner of living, and thus necessity, no less than taste, led him to covet the possession of wealth as well as of power. He obtained both; and his fortunes were rapidly advancing when, by the abdication of his royal master, the sceptre passed into the hands of Philip the Second.

Charles recommended Granvelle to his son as every way deserving of his confidence. Granvelle knew that the best recommendation—the only effectual one—must come from himself. He studied carefully the character of his new sovereign, and showed a wonderful flexibility in conforming to his humors. The ambitious minister proved himself no stranger to those arts by which great minds, as well as little ones, sometimes condescend to push their fortunes in a court.

Yet, in truth, Granvelle did not always do violence to his own inclinations in conforming to those of Philip. Like the king, he did not come rapidly to results, but pondered long, and viewed a question in all its bearings, before arriving at a decision. He had, as we have seen, the same patient spirit of application as Philip, so that both may be said to have found their best recreation in labor. Neither was he less zealous than the king for the maintenance of the true faith, though his accommodating nature, if left to itself, might have sanctioned a different policy from that dictated by the stern, uncompromising spirit of his master.

Granvelle's influence was further aided by the charms of his personal intercourse. His polished and insinuating manners seem to have melted even the icy reserve of Philip. He maintained his influence by his singular tact in suggesting hints for carrying out his master's policy, in such a way that the suggestion might seem to have come from the king himself. Thus careful not to alarm the jealousy of his sovereign, he was content to forego the semblance of power for the real possession of it.[425]{168}

It was soon seen that he was as well settled in the confidence of Philip as he had previously been in that of Charles. Notwithstanding the apparent distribution of power between the regent and the several councils, the arrangements made by the king were such as to throw the real authority into the hands of Granvelle. Thus the rare example was afforded of the same man continuing the favorite of two successive sovereigns. Granvelle did not escape the usual fate of favorites; and whether from the necessity of the case, or that, as some pretend, he did not on his elevation bear his faculties too meekly, no man was so generally and so heartily detested throughout the country.[426]

Before leaving the Netherlands, Philip named the governors of the several provinces,—the nominations, for the most part, only confirming those already in office. Egmont had the governments of Flanders and Artois; the prince of Orange, those of Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, and West Friesland. The commission to William, running in the usual form, noticed "the good, loyal, and notable services he had rendered both to the emperor and his present sovereign."[427] The command of two battalions of the Spanish army was also given to the two nobles,—a poor contrivance for reconciling the nation to the continuance of these detested troops in the country.

Philip had anxiously waited for the arrival of the papal bull which was to authorize the erection of the bishoprics. Granvelle looked still more anxiously for it. He had read the signs of the coming storm, and would gladly have encountered it when the royal presence might have afforded some shelter from its fury. But the court of Rome moved at its usual dilatory pace, and the apostolic nuncio did not arrive with the missive till the eve of Philip's departure,—too late for him to witness its publication.[428]


Having completed all his arrangements, about the middle of August the king proceeded to Zealand, where, in the port of Flushing, lay a gallant fleet, waiting to take him and the royal suite to Spain. It consisted of fifty Spanish and forty other vessels,—all well manned, and victualled for a much{169} longer voyage.[429] Philip was escorted to the place of embarkation by a large body of Flemish nobles, together with the foreign ambassadors and the duke and duchess of Savoy. A curious scene is reported to have taken place as he was about to go on board. Turning abruptly round to the prince of Orange, who had attended him on the journey, he bluntly accused him of being the true source of the opposition which his measures had encountered in the States-General. William, astonished at the suddenness of the attack, replied that the opposition was to be regarded, not as the act of an individual, but of the states. "No," rejoined the incensed monarch, shaking him at the same time violently by the wrist, "not the states, but you, you, you!"[430] an exclamation deriving additional bitterness from the fact that the word you, thus employed, in the Castilian was itself indicative of contempt. William did not think it prudent to reply, nor did he care to trust himself with the other Flemish lords on board the royal squadron.[431]

The royal company being at length all on board, on the twentieth of August, 1559, the fleet weighed anchor; and Philip, taking leave of the duke and duchess of Savoy, and the rest of the noble train who attended his embarkation, was soon wafted from the shores,—to which he was never to return.

Luc-Jean-Joseph Vandervynckt, to whom I have repeatedly had occasion to refer in the course of the preceding chapter, was a Fleming,—born at Ghent in 1691. He was educated to the law, became eminent in his profession, and at the age of thirty-eight was made a member of the council of Flanders. He employed his leisure in studying the historical antiquities of his own country. At the suggestion of Coblentz, prime minister of Maria Theresa, he compiled his work on the Troubles of the Netherlands. It was designed for the instruction of the younger branches of the imperial family, and six copies only of it were at first printed, in 1765. Since the author's death, which took place in 1779, when he had reached the great age of eighty-eight, the work has been repeatedly published.

As Vandervynckt had the national archives thrown open to his inspection, he had access to the most authentic sources of information. He was a man of science and discernment, fair-minded, and temperate in his opinions, which gives value to a book that contains, moreover, much interesting anecdote, not elsewhere to be found. The work, though making only four volumes, covers a large space of historical ground,—from the marriage of Philip the Fair, in 1495, to the peace of Westphalia, in 1648. Its literary execution is by no means equal to its other merits. The work is written in French; but Vandervynckt, unfortunately, while he both wrote and spoke Flemish, and even Latin, with facility, was but indifferently acquainted with French.{170}



Philip's Arrival in Spain.—The Reformed Doctrines.—Their Suppression.—Autos da Fé.—Prosecution of Carranza.—Extinction of Heresy.—Fanaticism of the Spaniards.


The voyage of King Philip was a short and prosperous one. On the twenty-ninth of August, 1559, he arrived off the port of Laredo. But while he was in sight of land, the weather, which had been so propitious, suddenly changed. A furious tempest arose, which scattered his little navy. Nine of the vessels foundered, and though the monarch had the good fortune, under the care of an experienced pilot, to make his escape in a boat, and reach the shore in safety, he had the mortification to see the ship which had borne him go down with the rest, and with her the inestimable cargo he had brought from the Low Countries. It consisted of curious furniture, tapestries, gems, pieces of sculpture, and paintings,—the rich productions of Flemish and Italian art, which his father, the emperor, had been employed many years of his life in collecting. Truly was it said of Charles, that "he had sacked the land only to feed the ocean."[432] To add to the calamity, more than a thousand persons perished in this shipwreck.[433]

The king, without delay, took the road to Valladolid; but on arriving at that capital, whether depressed by his late disaster, or from his habitual dislike of such empty parade, he declined the honors, with which the loyal inhabitants would have greeted the return of their sovereign to his dominions. Here he was cordially welcomed by his sister, the Regent Joanna, who, long since weary of the cares of sovereignty, resigned the sceptre into his hands, with a better will than that with which most persons would have received it. Here, too, he had the satisfaction of embracing his son Carlos, the heir to his empire. The length of Philip's absence may have allowed him to see some favorable change in the person of the young prince, though, if report be true, there was little change for the better in his disposition, which, headstrong and imperious, had already begun to make men tremble for the future destinies of their country.

Philip had not been many days in Valladolid when his presence was celebrated by one of those exhibitions, which, unhappily for Spain, maybe called national. This was an auto da fé, not, however, as formerly, of Jews and Moors, but of Spanish Protestants. The Reformation had been silently, but not slowly, advancing in the Peninsula; and intelligence of this, as we have already seen, was one cause of Philip's abrupt departure from the Netherlands. The brief but disastrous attempt at a religious revolution in Spain is an event of too much importance to be passed over in silence by the historian.


Notwithstanding the remote position of Spain, under the imperial sceptre of Charles she was brought too closely into contact with the other states of Europe not to feel the shock of the great religious reform which was shaking those states to their foundations. Her most intimate relations, indeed, were{171} with those very countries in which the seeds of the Reformation were first planted. It was no uncommon thing for Spaniards, in the sixteenth century, to be indebted for some portion of their instruction to German universities. Men of learning, who accompanied the emperor, became familiar with the religious doctrines so widely circulated in Germany and Flanders. The troops gathered the same doctrines from the Lutheran soldiers, who occasionally served with them under the imperial banners. These opinions, crude for the most part as they were, they brought back to their own country; and a curiosity was roused which prepared the mind for the reception of the great truths which were quickening the other nations of Europe. Men of higher education, on their return to Spain, found the means of disseminating these truths. Secret societies were established; meetings were held; and, with the same secrecy as in the days of the early Christians, the Gospel was preached and explained to the growing congregation of the faithful. The greatest difficulty was the want of books. The enterprise of a few self-devoted proselytes at length overcame this difficulty.

A Castilian version of the Bible had been printed in Germany. Various Protestant publications, whether originating in the Castilian or translated into that language, appeared in the same country. A copy, now and then, in the possession of some private individual, had found its way, without detection, across the Pyrenees. These instances were rare, when a Spaniard named Juan Hernandez, resident in Geneva, where he followed the business of a corrector of the press, undertook, from no other motive but zeal for the truth, to introduce a larger supply of the forbidden fruit into his native land.

With great adroitness, he evaded the vigilance of the custom-house officers, and the more vigilant spies of the Inquisition, and in the end succeeded in landing two large casks filled with prohibited works, which were quickly distributed among the members of the infant church. Other intrepid converts followed the example of Hernandez, and with similar success; so that, with the aid of books and spiritual teachers, the number of the faithful multiplied daily throughout the country.[434] Among this number was a much larger proportion, it was observed, of persons of rank and education than is usually found in like cases; owing doubtless to the circumstance that it was this class of persons who had most frequented the countries where the Lutheran doctrines were taught. Thus the Reformed Church grew and prospered, not indeed as it had prospered in the freer atmospheres of Germany and Britain, but as well as it could possibly do under the blighting influence of the Inquisition; like some tender plant, which, nurtured in the shade, waits only for a more genial season for its full expansion. That season was not in reserve for it in Spain.

It may seem strange that the spread of the Reformed religion should so long have escaped the detection of the agents of the Holy Office. Yet it is{172} certain that the first notice which the Spanish inquisitors received of the fact was from their brethren abroad. Some ecclesiastics in the train of Philip, suspecting the heresy of several of their own countrymen in the Netherlands, had them seized and sent to Spain, to be examined by the Inquisition. On a closer investigation, it was found that a correspondence had long been maintained between these persons and their countrymen, of a similar persuasion with themselves, at home. Thus the existence, though not the extent, of the Spanish Reformation was made known.[435]

No sooner was the alarm sounded, than Paul the Fourth, quick to follow up the scent of heresy in any quarter of his pontifical dominions, issued a brief, in February, 1558, addressed to the Spanish inquisitor-general. In this brief, his holiness enjoins it on the head of the tribunal to spare no efforts to detect and exterminate the growing evil; and he empowers that functionary to arraign and bring to condign punishment all suspected of heresy, of whatever rank or profession,—whether bishops or archbishops, nobles, kings, or emperors. Paul the Fourth was fond of contemplating himself as seated in the chair of the Innocents and the Gregories, and like them setting his pontifical foot on the necks of princes. His natural arrogance was probably not diminished by the concessions which Philip the Second had thought proper to make to him at the close of the Roman war.

Philip, far from taking umbrage at the swelling tone of this apostolical mandate, followed it up, in the same year, by a monstrous edict, borrowed from one in the Netherlands, which condemned all who bought, sold, or read prohibited works to be burned alive.

In the following January, Paul, to give greater efficacy to this edict, published another bull, in which he commanded all confessors, under pain of excommunication, to enjoin on their penitents to inform against all persons, however nearly allied to them, who might be guilty of such practices. To quicken the zeal of the informer, Philip, on his part, revived a law fallen somewhat into disuse, by which the accuser was to receive one fourth of the confiscated property of the convicted party. And finally, a third bull from Paul allowed the inquisitors to withhold a pardon from the recanting heretic, if any doubt existed of his sincerity; thus placing the life as well as fortune of the unhappy prisoner entirely at the mercy of judges who had an obvious interest in finding him guilty. In this way the pope and the king continued to play into each other's hands, and while his holiness artfully spread the toils, the king devised the means for driving the quarry into them.[436]

Fortunately for these plans, the Inquisition was at this time under the direction of a man peculiarly fitted to execute them. This was Fernando Valdés, cardinal-archbishop of Seville, a person of a hard, inexorable nature, and possessed of as large a measure of fanaticism as ever fell to a grand-inquisitor since the days of Torquemada. Valdés readily availed himself of the terrible machinery placed under his control. Careful not to alarm the suspected parties, his approaches were slow and stealthy. He was the chief of a tribunal which sat in darkness, and which dealt by invisible agents. He worked long and silently under ground before firing the mine which was to bury his enemies in a general ruin.


His spies were everywhere abroad, mingling with the suspected, and insinuating themselves into their confidence. At length, by the treachery of{173} some, and by working on the nervous apprehensions or the religions scruples of others, he succeeded in detecting the lurking-places of the new heresy, and the extent of ground which it covered. This was much larger than had been imagined, although the Reformation in Spain seemed less formidable from the number of its proselytes than from their character and position. Many of them were ecclesiastics, especially intrusted with maintaining the purity of the faith. The quarters in which the heretical doctrines most prevailed were Aragon, which held an easy communication with the Huguenots of France, and the ancient cities of Seville and Valladolid, indebted less to any local advantages than to the influence of a few eminent men, who had early embraced the faith of the Reformers.

At length, the preliminary information having been obtained, the proscribed having been marked out, the plan of attack settled, an order was given for the simultaneous arrest of all persons suspected of heresy, throughout the kingdom. It fell like a thunderbolt on the unhappy victims, who had gone on with their secret associations, little suspecting the ruin that hung over them. No resistance was attempted. Men and women, churchmen and laymen, persons of all ranks and professions, were hurried from their homes, and lodged in the secret chambers of the Inquisition. Yet these could not furnish accommodations for the number, and many were removed to the ordinary prisons, and even to convents and private dwellings. In Seville alone eight hundred were arrested on the first day. Fears were entertained of an attempt at rescue, and an additional guard was stationed over the places of confinement. The inquisitors were in the condition of a fisherman whose cast has been so successful that the draught of fishes seems likely to prove too heavy for his net.[437]

The arrest of one party gradually led to the detection of others. Dragged from his solitary dungeon before the secret tribunal of the Inquisition, alone, without counsel to aid or one friendly face to cheer him, without knowing the name of his accuser, without being allowed to confront the witnesses who were there to swear away his life, without even a sight of his own process, except such garbled extracts as the wily judges thought fit to communicate, is it strange that the unhappy victim, in his perplexity and distress, should have been drawn into disclosures fatal to his associates and himself? If these disclosures were not to the mind of his judges, they had only to try the efficacy of the torture,—the rack, the cord, and the pulley,—until, when every joint had been wrenched from its socket, the barbarous tribunal was compelled to suspend, not terminate, the application, from the inability of the sufferer to endure it. Such were the dismal scenes enacted in the name of religion, and by the ministers of religion, as well as of the Inquisition,—scenes to which few of those who had once witnessed them, and escaped with life, dared ever to allude. For to reveal the secrets of the Inquisition was death.[438]

At the expiration of eighteen months from the period of the first arrests, many of the trials had been concluded, the doom of the prisoners was sealed, and it was thought time that the prisons should disgorge their superfluous inmates. Valladolid was selected as the theatre of the first auto da fé, both from the importance of the capital and the presence of the court, which would thus sanction and give greater dignity to the celebration. This event took place in May, 1559. The Regent Joanna, the young prince of the Asturias,{174} Don Carlos, and the principal grandees of the court, were there to witness the spectacle. By rendering the heir of the crown thus early familiar with the tender mercies of the Holy Office, it may have been intended to conciliate his favor to that institution. If such was the object, according to the report it signally failed, since the woeful spectacle left no other impressions on the mind of the prince than those of indignation and disgust.

The example of Valladolid was soon followed by autos da fé in Granada, Toledo, Seville, Barcelona,—in short, in the twelve capitals in which tribunals of the Holy Office were established. A second celebration at Valladolid was reserved for the eighth of October in the same year, when it would be graced by the presence of the sovereign himself. Indeed, as several of the processes had been concluded some months before this period, there is reason to believe that the sacrifice of more than one of the victims had been postponed, in order to give greater effect to the spectacle.[439]

The auto da fé—"act of faith"—was the most imposing, as it was the most awful, of the solemnities authorized by the Roman Catholic Church. It was intended, somewhat profanely, as has been intimated, to combine the pomp of the Roman triumph with the terrors of the day of judgment.[440] It may remind one quite as much of those bloody festivals prepared for the entertainment of the Cæsars in the Colisæum. The religions import of the auto da fé was intimated by the circumstance of its being celebrated on a Sunday, or some other holiday of the Church. An indulgence for forty days was granted by his holiness to all who should be present at the spectacle; as if the appetite for witnessing the scenes of human suffering required to be stimulated by a bounty; that too in Spain, where the amusements were, and still are, of the most sanguinary character.

The scene for this second auto da fé at Valladolid was the great square in front of the church of St. Francis. At one end a platform was raised, covered with rich carpeting, on which were ranged the seats of the inquisitors, emblazoned with the arms of the Holy Office. Near to this was the royal gallery, a private entrance to which secured the inmates from molestation by the crowd. Opposite to this gallery a large scaffold was erected, so as to be visible from all parts of the arena, and was appropriated to the unhappy martyrs who were to suffer in the auto.

At six in the morning all the bells in the capital began to toll, and a solemn procession was seen to move from the dismal fortress of the Inquisition. In the van marched a body of troops, to secure a free passage for the procession. Then came the condemned, each attended by two familiars of the Holy Office, and those who were to suffer at the stake by two friars, in addition, exhorting the heretic to abjure his errors. Those admitted to penitence wore a sable dress; while the unfortunate martyr was enveloped in a loose sack of yellow cloth,—the san benito,—with his head surmounted by a cap of pasteboard of a conical form, which, together with the cloak, was embroidered with figures of flames and of devils fanning and feeding them; all emblematical of the destiny of the heretic's soul in the world to come, as well as of his body in the present. Then came the magistrates of the city, the judges of the courts, the ecclesiastical orders, and the nobles of the land on horseback. These were followed by the members of the dread tribunal, and the fiscal, bearing a standard of crimson damask, on one side of which were displayed the arms of the Inquisition, and on the other the insignia of{175} its founders, Sixtus the Fifth and Ferdinand the Catholic. Next came a numerous train of familiars, well mounted, among whom were many gentry of the province, proud to act as the body-guard of the Holy Office. The rear was brought up by an immense concourse of the common people, stimulated on the present occasion, no doubt, by the loyal desire to see their new sovereign, as well as by the ambition to share in the triumphs of the auto da fé. The number thus drawn together from the capital and the country, far exceeding what was usual on such occasions, is estimated by one present at full two hundred thousand.[441]


As the multitude defiled into the square, the inquisitors took their place on the seats prepared for their reception. The condemned were conducted to the scaffold, and the royal station was occupied by Philip, with the different members of his household. At his side sat his sister, the late regent, his son, Don Carlos, his nephew, Alexander Farnese, several foreign ambassadors, and the principal grandees and higher ecclesiastics in attendance on the court. It was an august assembly of the greatest and the proudest in the land. But the most indifferent spectator, who had a spark of humanity in his bosom, might have turned with feelings of admiration from this array of worldly power, to the poor martyr, who, with no support but what he drew from within, was prepared to defy this power, and to lay down his life in vindication of the rights of conscience. Some there may have been, in that large concourse, who shared in these sentiments. But their number was small indeed in comparison with those who looked on the wretched victim as the enemy of God, and his approaching sacrifice as the most glorious triumph of the Cross.

The ceremonies began with a sermon, "the sermon of the faith," by the bishop of Zamora. The subject of it may well be guessed, from the occasion. It was no doubt plentifully larded with texts of Scripture, and, unless the preacher departed from the fashion of the time, with passages from the heathen writers, however much out of place they may seem in an orthodox discourse.

When the bishop had concluded, the grand-inquisitor administered an oath to the assembled multitude, who on their knees solemnly swore to defend the Inquisition, to maintain the purity of the faith, and to inform against any one who should swerve from it. As Philip repeated an oath of similar import, he suited the action to the word, and, rising from his seat, drew his sword from its scabbard, as if to announce himself the determined champion of the Holy Office. In the earlier autos of the Moorish and Jewish infidels, so humiliating an oath had never been exacted from the sovereign.

After this, the secretary of the tribunal read aloud an instrument reciting the grounds for the conviction of the prisoners, and the respective sentences pronounced against them. Those who were to be admitted to penitence, each, as his sentence was proclaimed, knelt down, and, with his hands on the missal, solemnly abjured his errors, and was absolved by the grand-inquisitor. The absolution, however, was not so entire as to relieve the offender from the penalty of his transgressions in this world. Some were doomed to perpetual imprisonment in the cells of the Inquisition, others to lighter penances. All were doomed to the confiscation of their property,—a point of too great moment to the welfare of the tribunal ever to be omitted. Besides this, in many cases the offender, and, by a glaring perversion of justice, his immediate descendants, were rendered for ever ineligible to public office of any kind, and their names branded with perpetual infamy. Thus blighted in fortune and in character, they were said, in the soft language of the Inquisition, to be reconciled.{176}

As these unfortunate persons were remanded, under a strong guard, to their prisons, all eyes were turned on the little company of martyrs, who, clothed in the ignominious garb of the san benito, stood waiting the sentence of the judges,—with cords round their necks, and in their hands a cross, or sometimes an inverted torch, typical of their own speedy dissolution. The interest of the spectators was still further excited, in the present instance, by the fact that several of these victims were not only illustrious for their rank, but yet more so for their talents and virtues. In their haggard looks, their emaciated forms, and too often, alas! their distorted limbs, it was easy to read the story of their sufferings in their long imprisonment, for some of them had been confined in the dark cells of the Inquisition much more than a year. Yet their countenances, though haggard, far from showing any sign of weakness or fear, were lighted up with a glow of holy enthusiasm, as of men prepared to seal their testimony with their blood.

When that part of the process showing the grounds of their conviction had been read, the grand-inquisitor consigned them to the hands of the corregidor of the city, beseeching him to deal with the prisoners in all kindness and mercy;[442] a honeyed, but most hypocritical phrase, since no choice was left to the civil magistrate, but to execute the terrible sentence of the law against heretics, the preparations for which had been made by him a week before.[443]

The whole number of convicts amounted to thirty, of whom sixteen were reconciled, and the remainder relaxed to the secular arm,—in other words, turned over to the civil magistrate for execution. There were few of those thus condemned who, when brought to the stake, did not so far shrink from the dreadful doom that awaited them as to consent to purchase a commutation of it by confession before they died; in which case they were strangled by the garrote, before their bodies were thrown into the flames.

Of the present number there were only two whose constancy triumphed to the last over the dread of suffering, and who refused to purchase any mitigation of it by a compromise with conscience. The names of these martyrs should be engraven on the record of history.

One of them was Don Carlos de Seso, a noble Florentine, who had stood high in the favor of Charles the Fifth. Being united with a lady of rank in Castile, he removed to that country, and took up his residence in Valladolid. He had become a convert to the Lutheran doctrines, which he first communicated to his own family, and afterwards showed equal zeal in propagating among the people of Valladolid and its neighborhood. In short, there was no man to whose untiring and intrepid labors the cause of the Reformed religion in Spain was more indebted. He was, of course, a conspicuous mark for the Inquisition.


During the fifteen months in which he lay in its gloomy cells, cut off from human sympathy and support, his constancy remained unshaken. The night preceding his execution, when his sentence had been announced to him, De Seso called for writing materials. It was thought he designed to propitiate his judges by a full confession of his errors. But the confession he made was of another kind. He insisted on the errors of the Romish Church, and avowed his unshaken trust in the great truths of the Reformation. The document, covering two sheets of paper, is pronounced by the secretary of the Inquisition to be a composition equally remarkable for its energy and precision.[444] When{177} led before the royal gallery, on his way to the place of execution, De Seso pathetically exclaimed to Philip, "Is it thus that you allow your innocent subjects to be persecuted?" To which the king made the memorable reply, "If it were my own son, I would fetch the wood to burn him, were he such a wretch as thou art!" It was certainly a characteristic answer.[445]

At the stake De Seso showed the same unshaken constancy, bearing his testimony to the truth of the great cause for which he gave up his life. As the flames crept slowly around him, he called on the soldiers to heap up the fagots, that his agonies might be sooner ended; and his executioners, indignant at the obstinacy—the heroism—of the martyr, were not slow in obeying his commands.[446]

The companion and fellow-sufferer of De Seso was Domingo de Roxas, son of the marquis de Poza, an unhappy noble, who had seen five of his family, including his eldest son, condemned to various humiliating penances by the Inquisition for their heretical opinions. This one was now to suffer death. De Roxas was a Dominican monk. It is singular that this order, from which the ministers of the Holy Office were particularly taken, furnished many proselytes to the Reformed religion. De Roxas, as was the usage with ecclesiastics, was allowed to retain his sacerdotal habit until his sentence had been read, when he was degraded from his ecclesiastical rank, his vestments were stripped off one after another, and the hideous dress of the san benito thrown over him, amid the shouts and derision of the populace. Thus apparelled, he made an attempt to address the spectators around the scaffold; but no sooner did he begin to raise his voice against the errors and cruelties of Rome, than Philip indignantly commanded him to be gagged. The gag was a piece of cleft wood, which, forcibly compressing the tongue, had the additional advantage of causing great pain, while it silenced the offender. Even when he was bound to the stake, the gag, though contrary to custom, was suffered to remain in the mouth of De Roxas, as if his enemies dreaded the effects of an eloquence that triumphed over the anguish of death.[447]

The place of execution—the quemadero, the burning-place, as it was called—was a spot selected for the purpose without the walls of the city.[448] Those who attended an auto da fé were not, therefore, necessarily, as is commonly imagined, spectators of the tragic scene that concluded it. The great body of the people, and many of higher rank, no doubt, followed to the place of execution. On this occasion, there is reason to think, from the language—somewhat equivocal, it is true—of Philip's biographer, that the monarch chose to testify his devotion to the Inquisition by witnessing in person the{178} appalling close of the drama; while his guards mingled with the menials of the Holy Office, and heaped up the fagots round their victims.[449]

Such was the cruel exhibition which, under the garb of a religious festival, was thought the most fitting ceremonial for welcoming the Catholic monarch to his dominions! During the whole time of its duration in the public square, from six in the morning till two in the afternoon, no symptom of impatience was exhibited by the spectators, and, as may well be believed, no sign of sympathy for the sufferers.[450] It would be difficult to devise a better school for perverting the moral sense, and deadening the sensibilities of a nation.[451]


Under the royal sanction, the work of persecution now went forward more briskly than ever.[452] No calling was too sacred, no rank too high, to escape{179} the shafts of the informer. In the course of a few years, no less than nine bishops were compelled to do humiliating penance in some form or other for heterodox opinions. But the most illustrious victim of the Inquisition was Bartolomé Carranzo, archbishop of Toledo. The primacy of Spain might be considered as the post of the highest consideration in the Roman Catholic Church after the papacy.[453] The proceedings against this prelate, on the whole, excited more interest throughout Christendom than any other case that came before the tribunal of the Inquisition.

Carranza, who was of an ancient Castilian family, had early entered a Dominican convent in the suburbs of Guadalajara. His exemplary life, and his great parts and learning, recommended him to the favor of Charles the Fifth, who appointed him confessor to his son Philip. The emperor also sent him to the Council of Trent, where he made a great impression by his eloquence, as well as by a tract which he published against plurality of benefices, which, however, excited no little disgust in many of his order. On Philip's visit to England to marry Queen Mary, Carranza accompanied his master, and while in that country he distinguished himself by the zeal and ability with which he controverted the doctrines of the Protestants. The alacrity, moreover, which he manifested in the work of persecution made him generally odious under the name of the "black friar,"—a name peculiarly appropriate, as it applied not less to his swarthy complexion than to the garb of his order. On Philip's return to Flanders, Carranza, who had twice refused a mitre, was raised—not without strong disinclination on his own part—to the archiepiscopal see of Toledo. The "nolo episcopari," in this instance, seems to have been sincere. It would have been well for him if it had been effectual. Carranza's elevation to the primacy was the source of all his troubles.

The hatred of theologians has passed into a proverb; and there would certainly seem to be no rancor surpassing that of a Spanish ecclesiastic. Among the enemies raised by Carranza's success, the most implacable was the grand-inquisitor, Valdés. The archbishop of Seville could ill brook that a humble Dominican should be thus raised from the cloister over the heads of the proud prelacy of Spain. With unwearied pains, such as hate only could induce, he sought out whatever could make against the orthodoxy of the new prelate, whether in his writings or his conversation. Some plausible ground was afforded for this from the fact, that, although Carranza, as his whole life had shown, was devoted to the Roman Catholic Church, yet his long residence in Protestant countries, and his familiarity with Protestant works, had given a coloring to his language, if not to his opinions, which resembled that of the Reformers. Indeed, Carranza seems to have been much of the same way of thinking with Pole, Contarini, Morone, and other illustrious Romanists, whose liberal natures and wide range of study, had led them to sanction more than one of the Lutheran dogmas which were subsequently proscribed by the Council of Trent. One charge strongly urged against the primate was his assent to the heretical doctrine of justification by faith. In support of this, Father Regla, the confessor, as the reader may remember, of{180} Charles the Fifth, and a worthy coadjutor of Valdés, quoted words of consolation employed by Carranza, in his presence, at the death-bed of the emperor.[454]

The exalted rank of the accused made it necessary for his enemies to proceed with the greatest caution. Never had the bloodhounds of the Inquisition been set on so noble a quarry. Confident in his own authority, the prelate had little reason for distrust. He could not ward off the blow, for it was an invisible arm stronger than his own that was raised to smite him. On the twenty-second of August, 1559, the emissaries of the Holy Office entered the primate's town of Torrelaguna. The doors of the episcopal palace were thrown open to the ministers of the terrible tribunal. The prelate was dragged from his bed at midnight, was hurried into a coach, and while the inhabitants were ordered not so much as to present themselves at the windows, he was conducted, under a strong guard, to the prisons of the Inquisition at Valladolid. The arrest of such a person caused a great sensation throughout the country, but no attempt was made at a rescue.

The primate would have appealed from the Holy Office to the pope, as the only power competent to judge him. But he was unwilling to give umbrage to Philip, who had told him in any extremity to rely on him. The king, however, was still in the Netherlands, where his mind had been preoccupied, through the archbishop's enemies, with rumors of his defection. And the mere imputation of heresy, in this dangerous crisis, and especially in one whom he had so recently raised to the highest post in the Spanish church, was enough, not only to efface the recollection of past services from the mind of Philip, but to turn his favor into aversion. For two years Carranza was suffered to languish in confinement, exposed to all the annoyances which the malice of his enemies could devise. So completely was he dead to the world, that he knew nothing of a conflagration which consumed more than four hundred of the principal houses in Valladolid, till some years after the occurrence.[455]

At length the Council of Trent, sharing the indignation of the rest of Christendom at the archbishop's protracted imprisonment, called on Philip to interpose in his behalf, and to remove the cause to another tribunal. But the king gave little heed to the remonstrance, which the inquisitors treated as a presumptuous interference with their authority.

In 1566, Pius the Fifth ascended the pontifical throne. He was a man of austere morals and a most inflexible will. A Dominican, like Carranza, he was greatly scandalized by the treatment which the primate had received, and by the shameful length to which his process had been protracted. He at once sent his orders to Spain for the removal of the grand-inquisitor, Valdés, from office, summoning, at the same time, the cause and the prisoner before his own tribunal. The bold inquisitor, loth to lose his prey, would have defied the power of Rome, as he had done that of the Council of Trent. Philip remonstrated; but Pius was firm, and menaced both king and inquisitor with excommunication. Philip had no mind for a second collision with the papal court. In imagination he already heard the thunders of the Vatican rolling in the distance, and threatening soon to break upon his head. After a confinement of now more than seven years' duration, the archbishop{181} was sent under a guard to Rome. He was kindly received by the pontiff, and honorably lodged in the castle of St. Angelo, in apartments formerly occupied by the popes themselves. But he was still a prisoner.


Pius now set seriously about the examination of Carranza's process. It was a tedious business, requiring his holiness to wade through an ocean of papers, while the progress of the suit was perpetually impeded by embarrassments thrown in his way by the industrious malice of the inquisitors. At the end of six years more, Pius was preparing to give his judgment, which it was understood would be favorable to Carranza, when, unhappily for the primate, the pontiff died.

The Holy Office, stung by the prospect of its failure, now strained every nerve to influence the mind of the new pope, Gregory the Thirteenth, to a contrary decision. New testimony was collected, new glosses were put on the primate's text, and the sanction of the most learned Spanish theologians was brought in support of them. At length, at the end of three years further, the holy father announced his purpose of giving his final decision. It was done with great circumstance. The pope was seated on his pontifical throne, surrounded by all his cardinals, prelates, and functionaries of the apostolic chamber. Before this august assembly, the archbishop presented himself unsupported and alone, while no one ventured to salute him. His head was bare. His once robust form was bent by infirmity more than by years; and his care-worn features told of that sickness which arises from hope deferred. He knelt down at some distance from the pope, and in this humble attitude received his sentence.

He was declared to have imbibed the pernicious doctrines of Luther. The decree of the Inquisition prohibiting the use of his catechism was confirmed. He was to abjure sixteen propositions found in his writings; was suspended from the exercise of his episcopal functions for five years, during which time he was to be confined in a convent of his order at Orvieto; and, finally, he was required to visit seven of the principal churches in Rome, and perform mass there by way of penance.

This was the end of eighteen years of doubt, anxiety, and imprisonment. The tears streamed down the face of the unhappy man, as he listened to the sentence; but he bowed in silent submission to the will of his superior. The very next day he began his work of penance. But nature could go no further; and on the second of May, only sixteen days after his sentence had been pronounced, Carranza died of a broken heart. The triumph of the Inquisition was complete.

The pope raised a monument to the memory of the primate, with a pompous inscription, paying a just tribute to his talents and his scholarship, endowing him with a full measure of Christian worth, and particularly commending the exemplary manner in which he had discharged the high trusts reposed in him by his sovereign.[456]

Such is the story of Carranza's persecution,—considering the rank of the party, the unprecedented length of the process, and the sensation it excited throughout Europe, altogether the most remarkable on the records of the Inquisition.[457] Our sympathy for the archbishop's sufferings may be reasonably{182} mitigated by the reflection, that he did but receive the measure which he had meted out to others.

While the persecution of Carranza was going on, the fires lighted for the Protestants continued to burn with fury in all parts of the country, until at length they gradually slackened and died away, from mere want of fuel to feed them. The year 1570 may be regarded as the period of the last auto da fé in which the Lutherans played a conspicuous part. The subsequent celebrations were devoted chiefly to relapsed Jews and Mahometans; and if a Protestant heretic was sometimes added to this list, it was "but as the gleaning of grapes after the vintage is done."[458]

Never was there a persecution which did its work more thoroughly. The blood of the martyr is commonly said to be the seed of the church. But the storm of persecution fell as heavily on the Spanish Protestants as it did on the Albigenses in the thirteenth century; blighting every living thing, so that no germ remained for future harvests. Spain might now boast that the stain of heresy no longer defiled the hem of her garment. But at what a price was this purchased! Not merely by the sacrifice of the lives and fortunes of a few thousands of the existing generation but by the disastrous consequences entailed for ever on the country. Folded under the dark wing of the Inquisition, Spain was shut out from the light which in the sixteenth century broke over the rest of Europe, stimulating the nations to greater enterprise in every department of knowledge. The genius of the people was rebuked, and their spirit quenched, under the malignant influence of an eye that never slumbered, of an unseen arm ever raised to strike. How could there be freedom of thought, where there was no freedom of utterance? Or freedom of utterance, where it was as dangerous to say too little as too much? Freedom cannot go along with fear. Every way the mind of the Spaniard was in fetters.

His moral sense was miserably perverted. Men were judged, not by their practice, but by their professions. Creed became a substitute for conduct. Difference of faith made a wider gulf of separation than difference of race, language, or even interest. Spain no longer formed one of the great brotherhood of Christian nations. An immeasurable barrier was raised between that kingdom and the Protestants of Europe. The early condition of perpetual warfare with the Arabs who overran the country had led the Spaniards to mingle religion strangely with their politics. The effect continued when the cause had ceased. Their wars with the European nations became religious wars. In fighting England or the Netherlands, they were fighting the enemies of God. It was the same everywhere. In their contest with the unoffending natives of the New World, they were still battling with{183} the enemies of God. Their wars took the character of a perpetual crusade, and were conducted with all the ferocity which fanaticism could inspire.


The same dark spirit of fanaticism seems to brood over the national literature; even that lighter literature which in other nations is made up of the festive sallies of wit, or the tender expression of sentiment. The greatest geniuses of the nation, the masters of the drama and of the ode, while they astonish us by their miracles of invention, show that they have too often kindled their inspiration at the altars of the Inquisition.

Debarred as he was from freedom of speculation, the domain of science was closed against the Spaniard. Science looks to perpetual change. It turns to the past to gather warning, as well as instruction, for the future. Its province is to remove old abuses, to explode old errors, to unfold new truths. Its condition, in short, is that of progress. But in Spain, everything not only looked to the past, but rested on the past. Old abuses gathered respect from their antiquity. Reform was innovation, and innovation was a crime. Far from progress, all was stationary. The hand of the Inquisition drew the line which said, "No further!" This was the limit of human intelligence in Spain.

The effect was visible in every department of science,—not in the speculative alone, but in the physical and the practical; in the declamatory rant of its theology and ethics, in the childish and chimerical schemes of its political economists. In every walk were to be seen the symptoms of premature decrepitude, as the nation clung to the antiquated systems which the march of civilization in other countries had long since effaced. Hence those frantic experiments, so often repeated, in the financial administration of the kingdom, which made Spain the byword of the nations, and which ended in the ruin of trade, the prostration of credit, and finally the bankruptcy of the state.—But we willingly turn from this sad picture of the destinies of the country to a more cheerful scene in the history of Philip.



Reception of Isabella.—Marriage Festivities.—The Queen's Mode of Life.—The Court removed to Madrid.


So soon as Philip should be settled in Spain, it had been arranged that his young bride, Elizabeth of France, should cross the Pyrenees. Early in January, 1560, Elizabeth,—or Isabella, to use the corresponding name by which she was known to the Spaniards,—under the protection of the Cardinal de Bourbon and some of the French nobility, reached the borders of Navarre, where she was met by the duke of Infantado, who was to take charge of the princess, and escort her to Castile.

Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza, fourth duke of Infantado, was the head of the most illustrious house in Castile. He was at this time near seventy years of age, having passed most of his life in attendance at court, where he had always occupied the position suited to his high birth and his extensive property, which, as his title intimated, lay chiefly in the north. He was a fine specimen of the old Castilian hidalgo, and displayed a magnificence in his way{184} of living that became his station. He was well educated, for the time; and his fondness for books did not prevent his excelling in all knightly exercises. He was said to have the best library and the best stud of any gentleman in Castile.[459]

He appeared on this occasion in great state, accompanied by his household and his kinsmen, the heads of the noblest families in Spain. The duke was attended by some fifty pages, who, in their rich dresses of satin and brocade, displayed the gay colors of the house of Mendoza. The nobles in his train, all suitably mounted, were followed by twenty-five hundred gentlemen, well equipped, like themselves. So lavish were the Castilians of that day in the caparisons of their horses, that some of these are estimated, without taking into account the jewels with which they were garnished, to have cost no less than two thousand ducats![460] The same taste is visible at this day in their descendants, especially in South America and Mexico, where the love of barbaric ornament in the housings and caparisons of their steeds is conspicuous among all classes of the people.

Several days were spent in settling the etiquette to be observed before the presentation of the duke and his followers to the princess,—a perilous matter with the Spanish hidalgo. When at length the interview took place, the cardinal of Burgos, the duke's brother, opened it by a formal and rather long address to Isabella, who replied in a tone of easy gaiety, which, though not undignified, savored much more of the manners of her own country than those of Spain.[461] The place of meeting was at Roncesvalles,—a name which to the reader of romance may call up scenes very different from those presented by the two nations now met together in kindly courtesy.[462]

From Roncesvalles the princess proceeded, under the strong escort of the duke, to his town of Guadalajara in New Castile, where her marriage with King Philip was to be solemnized. Great preparations were made by the loyal citizens for celebrating the event in a manner honorable to their own master and their future queen. A huge mound, or what might be called a hill, was raised at the entrance of the town, where a grove of natural oaks had been transplanted, amongst which was to be seen abundance of game. Isabella was received by the magistrates of the place, and escorted through the principal streets by a brilliant cavalcade, composed of the great nobility of the court. She was dressed in ermine, and rode a milk-white palfrey, which she managed with an easy grace that delighted the multitude. On one side of her rode the duke of Infantado, and on the other the cardinal of Burgos. After performing her devotions at the church, where Te Deum was chanted, she proceeded to the ducal palace, in which the marriage ceremony was to be{185} performed. On her entering the court, the princess Joanna came down to receive her sister-in-law, and, after an affectionate salutation, conducted her to the saloon, where Philip, attended by his son, was awaiting his bride.[463]


It was the first time that Isabella had seen her destined lord. She now gazed on him so intently, that he good-humoredly asked her "if she were looking to see if he had any gray hairs in his head?" The bluntness of the question somewhat disconcerted her.[464] Philip's age was not much less than that at which the first gray hairs made their appearance on his father's temples. Yet the discrepancy between the ages of the parties in the present instance was not greater than often happens in a royal union. Isabella was in her fifteenth year,[465] and Philip in his thirty-fourth.

From all accounts, the lady's youth was her least recommendation. "Elizabeth de Valois," says Brantôme, who know her well, "was a true daughter of France,—discreet, witty, beautiful, and good, if ever woman was so."[466] She was well made, and tall of stature, and on this account the more admired in Spain, where the women are rarely above the middle height. Her eyes were dark, and her luxuriant tresses, of the same dark color, shaded features that were delicately fair.[467] There was sweetness mingled with dignity in her deportment, in which Castilian stateliness seemed to be happily tempered by the vivacity of her own nation. "So attractive was she," continues the gallant old courtier, "that no cavalier durst look on her long, for fear of losing his heart, which in that jealous court might have proved the loss of his life."[468]

Some of the chroniclers notice a shade of melancholy as visible on Isabella's features, which they refer to the comparison the young bride was naturally led to make between her own lord and his son, the prince of Asturias, for whom her hand had been originally intended.[469] But the daughter of Catherine{186} de Medicis, they are careful to add, had been too well trained, from her cradle, not to know how to disguise her feelings. Don Carlos had one advantage over his father, in his youth; though, in this respect, since he was but a boy of fourteen, he might be thought to fall as much too short of the suitable age as the king exceeded it. It is also intimated by the same gossiping writers, that from this hour of their meeting, touched by the charms of his step-mother, the prince nourished a secret feeling of resentment against his father, who had thus come between him and his beautiful betrothed.[470] It is this light gossip of the chroniclers that has furnished the romancers of later ages with the flimsy materials for that web of fiction, which displays in such glowing colors the loves of Carlos and Isabella. I shall have occasion to return to this subject when treating of the fate of this unhappy prince.

When the nuptials were concluded, the good people of Guadalajara testified their loyalty by all kinds of festivities in honor of the event,—by fireworks, music, and dancing. The fountains flowed with generous liquor. Tables were spread in the public squares, laden with good cheer, and freely open to all. In the evening, the regidores of the town, to the number of fifty or more, presented themselves before the king and queen. They were dressed in their gaudy liveries of crimson and yellow velvet, and each one of these functionaries bore a napkin on his arm, while he carried a plate of sweetmeats, which he presented to the royal pair and the ladies of the court. The following morning Philip and his consort left the hospitable walls of Guadalajara, and set out with their whole suite for Toledo. At parting, the duke of Infantado made the queen and her ladies presents of jewels, lace, and other rich articles of dress; and the sovereigns took leave of their noble host, well pleased with the princely entertainment he had given them.[471]

At Toledo preparations were made for the reception of Philip and Isabella in a style worthy of the renown of that ancient capital of the Visigoths. In the broad vega before the city, three thousand of the old Spanish infantry engaged in a mock encounter with a body of Moorish cavalry, having their uniforms and caparisons fancifully trimmed and ornamented in the Arabesque fashion. Then followed various national dances by beautiful maidens of Toledo, dances of the Gypsies, and the old Spanish "war-dance of the swords."[472]


On entering the gates, the royal pair were welcomed by the municipality of the city, who supported a canopy of cloth of gold over the heads of the king and queen, emblazoned with their ciphers. A procession was formed, consisting of the principal magistrates, the members of the military orders, the officers of the Inquisition,—for Toledo was one of the principal stations of the secret tribunal,—and, lastly, the chief nobles of the court. In the cavalcade might be discerned the iron form of the duke of Alva, and his more{187} courtly rival, Ruy Gomez de Silva, count of Melito,—the two nobles highest in the royal confidence. Triumphal arches, ornamented with quaint devices and emblematical figures from ancient mythology, were thrown across the streets, which were filled with shouting multitudes. Gay wreaths of flowers and flaunting streamers adorned the verandas and balconies, which were crowded with spectators of both sexes in their holiday attire, making a display of gaudy colors that reminds an old chronicler of the richly tinted tapestries and carpetings of Flanders.[473] In this royal state, the new-married pair moved along the streets towards the great cathedral; and after paying their devotions at its venerable shrine, they repaired to the alcazar,—the palace-fortress of Toledo.

For some weeks, during which the sovereigns remained in the capital, there was a general jubilee.[474] All the national games of Spain were exhibited to the young queen; the bull-fight, the Moorish sport of the cañas, or tilt of reeds, and tournaments on horseback and on foot, in both of which Philip often showed himself armed cap-à-pie in the lists, and did his devoir in the presence of his fair bride, as became a loyal knight. Another show, which might have been better reserved for a less joyous occasion, was exhibited to Isabella. As the court and the cortes were drawn together in Toledo, the Holy Office took the occasion to celebrate an auto da fé, which, from the number of the victims and quality of the spectators, was the most imposing spectacle of the kind ever witnessed in that capital.

No country in Europe has so distinct an individuality as Spain; shown not merely in the character of the inhabitants, but in the smallest details of life,—in their national games, their dress, their social usages. The tenacity with which the people have clung to these amidst all the changes of dynasties and laws is truly admirable. Separated by their mountain barrier from the central and eastern parts of Europe, and during the greater part of their existence brought into contact with Oriental forms of civilization, the Spaniards have been but little exposed to those influences which have given a homogeneous complexion to the other nations of Christendom. The system under which they have been trained is too peculiar to be much affected by these influences, and the ideas transmitted from their ancestors are too deeply settled in their minds to be easily disturbed. The present in Spain is but the mirror of the past, in other countries fashions become antiquated, old errors{188} exploded, early tastes reformed. Not so in the Peninsula. The traveller has only to cross the Pyrenees to find himself a contemporary of the sixteenth century.

The festivities of the court were suddenly terminated by the illness of Isabella, who was attacked by the small-pox. Her life was in no danger; but great fears were entertained lest the envious disease should prove fatal to her beauty. Her mother, Catherine de Medicis, had great apprehensions on this point; and couriers crossed the Pyrenees frequently, during the queen's illness, bringing prescriptions—some of them rather extraordinary—from the French doctors for preventing the ravages of the disorder.[475] Whether it was by reason of these nostrums, or her own excellent constitution, the queen was fortunate enough to escape from the sick-room without a scar.

Philip seems to have had much reason to be contented not only with the person, but the disposition, of his wife. As her marriage had formed one of the articles in the treaty with France, she was called by the Spaniards Isabel de la Paz,—"Isabella of the Peace." Her own countrymen no less fondly styled her "the Olive-Branch of Peace,"—intimating the sweetness of her disposition.[476] In this respect she may be thought to have formed a contrast to Philip's former wife, Mary of England; at least after sickness and misfortune had done their work upon that queen's temper, in the latter part of her life.

If Isabella was not a scholar, like Mary, she at least was well instructed for the time, and was fond of reading, especially poetry. She had a ready apprehension, and learned in a short time to speak the Castilian with tolerable fluency, while there was something pleasing in her foreign accent, that made her pronunciation the more interesting. She accommodated herself so well to the usages of her adopted nation, that she soon won the hearts of the Spaniards. "No queen of Castile," says the loyal Brantôme, "with due deference to Isabella the Catholic, was ever so popular in the country." When she went abroad, it was usually with her face uncovered, after the manner of her countrywomen. The press was always great around her whenever she appeared in public, and happy was the man who could approach so near as to get a glimpse of her beautiful countenance.[477]

Yet Isabella never forgot the land of her birth; and such of her countrymen as visited the Castilian court were received by her with distinguished courtesy. She brought along with her in her train to Castile several French ladies of rank, as her maids of honor. But a rivalry soon grew up between them and the Spanish ladies in the palace, which compelled the queen, after she had in vain attempted to reconcile the parties, to send back most of her own countrywomen. In doing so, she was careful to provide them with generous marriage portions.[478]{189}


The queen maintained great state in her household, as was Philip's wish, who seems to have lavished on his lovely consort those attentions for which the unfortunate Mary Tudor had pined in vain. Besides a rare display of jewels, Isabella's wardrobe was exceedingly rich. Few of her robes cost less than three or four hundred crowns each,—a great sum for the time. Like her namesake and contemporary, Elizabeth of England, she rarely wore the same dress twice. But she gave away the discarded suit to her attendants,[479] unlike in this to the English queen, who hoarded up her wardrobe so carefully, that at her death it must have displayed every fashion of her reign. Brantôme, who, both as a Frenchman and as one who had seen the queen often in the court of Castile, may be considered a judge in the matter, dwells with rapture on the elegance of her costume, the matchless taste in its arrangement, and the perfection of her coiffure.

A manuscript of the time, by an eye-witness, gives a few particulars respecting her manner of living, in which some readers may take an interest. Among the persons connected with the queen's establishment, the writer mentions her confessor, her almoner, and four physicians. The medical art seems to have been always held in high repute in Spain, though in no country, considering the empirical character of its professors, with so little reason. At dinner the queen was usually attended by some thirty of her ladies. Two of them, singularly enough as it may seem to us, performed the office of carvers. Another served as cupbearer, and stood by her majesty's chair. The rest of her attendants stood round the apartment, conversing with their gallants, who, in a style to which she had not been used in the French courts, kept their heads covered during the repast. "They were there," they said, "not to wait on the queen, but her ladies." After her solitary meal was over, Isabella retired with her attendants to her chamber, where, with the aid of music, and such mirth as the buffoons and jesters of the palace could afford, she made shift to pass the evening.[480]

Such is the portrait which her contemporaries have left us of Elizabeth of France; and such the accounts of her popularity with the nation, and the state maintained in her establishment. Well might Brantôme sadly exclaim, "Alas! what did it all avail?" A few brief years only were to pass away before this spoiled child of fortune, the delight of the monarch, the ornament and pride of the court, was to exchange the pomps and glories of her royal state for the dark chambers of the Escorial.

From Toledo the court proceeded to Valladolid, long the favourite residence of the Castilian princes, though not the acknowledged capital of the country.{190} Indeed there was no city, since the time of the Visigoths, that could positively claim that preëminence. This honor was reserved for Madrid, which became the established residence of the court under Philip, who in this but carried out the ideas of his father, Charles the Fifth.

The emperor had passed much time in this place, where, strange to say, the chief recommendation to him seems to have been the climate. Situated on a broad expanse of table-land, at an elevation of twenty-four hundred feet above the level of the sea, the brisk and rarefied atmosphere of Madrid proved favorable to Charles's health. It preserved him, in particular, from attacks of the fever and ague, which racked his constitution almost as much as the gout. In the ancient alcazar of the Moors he found a stately residence, which he made commodious by various alterations. Philip extended these improvements. He added new apartments, and spent much money in enlarging and embellishing the old ones. The ceilings were gilded and richly carved. The walls were hung with tapestries, and the saloons and galleries decorated with sculpture and with paintings,—many of them the productions of native artists, the first disciples of a school which was one day to rival the great masters of Italy. Extensive grounds were also laid out around the palace, and a park was formed, which in time came to be covered with a growth of noble trees, and well stocked with game. The alcazar, thus improved, became a fitting residence for the sovereign of Spain. Indeed, if we may trust the magnificent vaunt of a contemporary, it was "allowed by foreigners to be the rarest thing of the kind possessed by any monarch in Christendom."[481] It continued to be the abode of the Spanish princes until, in 1734, in the reign of Philip the Fifth, the building was destroyed by a fire, which lasted nearly a week. But it rose like a phoenix from its ashes; and a new palace was raised on the site of the old one, of still larger dimensions, presenting in the beauty of its materials as well as of its execution one of the noblest monuments of the architecture of the eighteenth century.[482]

Having completed his arrangements, Philip established his residence at Madrid in 1563. The town then contained about twelve thousand inhabitants. Under the forcing atmosphere of a court, the population rose by the end of his long reign to three hundred thousand,[483]—a number which it has probably not since exceeded. The accommodations in the capital kept pace with the increase of population. Everything was built for duration. Instead of flimsy houses that might serve for a temporary residence, the streets were lined with strong and substantial edifices. Under the royal patronage public works on a liberal scale were executed. Madrid was ornamented with bridges, aqueducts, hospitals, the Museum, the Armory,—stately structures which even now challenge our admiration, not less by the excellence of their designs than by the richness of their collections and the enlightened taste which they infer at this early period.{191}


In the opinion of its inhabitants, indeed we may say of the nation, Madrid surpassed, not only every other city in the country, but in Christendom. "There is but one Madrid," says the Spanish proverb.[484] "When Madrid is the theme, the world listens in silence!"[485] In a similar key, the old Castilian writers celebrate the glories of their capital,—the nursery of wit, genius, and gallantry,—and expatiate on the temperature of a climate propitious alike to the beauty of the women and the bravery of the men.[486]

Yet, with all this lofty panegyric, the foreigner is apt to see things through a very different medium from that through which they are seen by the patriotic eye of the native. The traveller to Madrid finds little to praise in a situation where the keen winds from the mountains come laden with disease, and where the subtle atmosphere, to use one of the national proverbs, that can hardly put out a candle, will extinguish the life of a man;[487] where the capital, insulated in the midst of a dreary expanse of desert, seems to be cut off from sympathy, if not from intercourse, with the provinces;[488] and where, instead of a great river that might open to it a commerce with distant quarters of the globe, it is washed only by a stream,—"the far-famed Manzanares,"—the bed of which in summer is a barren watercourse. The traveller may well doubt whether the fanciful advantage, so much vaunted, of being the centre of Spain, is sufficient to compensate the manifold evils of such a position, and even whether those are far from truth who find in this position one of the many causes of the decline of the national prosperity.[489]

A full experience of the inconveniences of the site of the capital led Charles the Third to contemplate its removal to Seville. But it was too late. Madrid had been too long, in the Castilian boast, "the only court in the world,"[490]—the focus to which converged talent, fashion, and wealth from all quarters of the country. Too many patriotic associations had gathered round it to warrant its desertion; and, in spite of its local disadvantages, the capital planted by Philip the Second continued to remain, as it will probably ever remain, the capital of the Spanish monarchy.{192}



The Reformation.—Its Progress in the Netherlands.—General Discontent.—William of Orange.

The middle of the sixteenth century presented one of those crises which have occurred at long intervals in the history of Europe, when the course of events has had a permanent influence on the destiny of nations. Scarcely forty years had elapsed since Luther had thrown down the gauntlet to the Vatican, by publicly burning the papal bull at Wittenberg. Since that time, his doctrines had been received in Denmark and Sweden. In England, after a state of vacillation for three reigns, Protestantism, in the peculiar form which it still wears, was become the established religion of the state. The fiery cross had gone round over the hills and valleys of Scotland, and thousands and tens of thousands had gathered to hear the word of life from the lips of Knox. The doctrines of Luther were spread over the northern parts of Germany, and freedom of worship was finally guarantied there, by the treaty of Passau. The Low Countries were the "debatable land," on which the various sects of Reformers, the Lutheran, the Calvinist, the English Protestant, contended for mastery with the established church. Calvinism was embraced by some of the cantons of Switzerland, and at Geneva its great apostle had fixed his head-quarters. His doctrines were widely circulated through France, till the divided nation was preparing to plunge into that worst of all wars, in which the hand of brother is raised against brother. The cry of reform had even passed the Alps, and was heard under the walls of the Vatican. It had crossed the Pyrenees. The king of Navarre declared himself a Protestant; and the spirit of the Reformation had secretly insinuated itself into Spain, and taken hold, as we have seen, of the middle and southern provinces of the kingdom.

A contemporary of the period, who reflected on the onward march of the new religion over every obstacle in its path, who had seen it gather under its banners states and nations once the most loyal and potent vassals of Rome, would have had little reason to doubt that, before the end of the century, the Reform would have extended its sway over the whole of Christendom. Fortunately for Catholicism, the most powerful empire in Europe was in the hands of a prince who was devoted with his whole soul to the interests of the Church. Philip the Second understood the importance of his position. His whole life proves that he felt it to be his especial mission to employ his great resources to restore the tottering fortunes of Catholicism, and stay the progress of the torrent which was sweeping away every landmark of the primitive faith.

We have seen the manner in which he crushed the efforts of the Protestants in Spain. This was the first severe blow struck at the Reformation. Its consequences cannot well be exaggerated; not the immediate results, which would have been little without the subsequent reforms and increased activity of the Church of Rome itself. But the moral influence of such a blow, when the minds of men had been depressed by a long series of reverses, is not to be estimated. In view of this, one of the most eminent Roman Catholic writers does not hesitate to remark, that "the power and abilities of Philip the Second afforded a counterpoise to the Protestant cause, which prevented it from making itself master of Europe."[491] The blow was struck; and from this{193} period little beyond its present conquests was to be gained for the cause of the Reformation.


It was not to be expected that Philip, after having exterminated heresy in one part of his dominions, should tolerate its existence in any other, least of all, in a country so important as the Netherlands. Yet a little reflection might have satisfied him that the same system of measures could hardly be applied with a prospect of success to two countries so differently situated as Spain and the Netherlands. The Romish faith may be said to have entered into the being of the Spaniard. It was not merely cherished as a form of religion, but as a principle of honor. It was part of the national history. For eight centuries the Spaniard had been fighting at home the battles of the Church. Nearly every inch of soil in his own country was won by arms from the infidel. His wars, as I have more than once had occasion to remark, were all wars of religion. He carried the same spirit across the waters. There he was still fighting the infidel. His life was one long crusade. How could this champion of the Church desert her in her utmost need?

With this predisposition, it was easy for Philip to enforce obedience in a people naturally the most loyal to their princes, to whom, moreover, since the fatal war of the Comunidades, they had been accustomed to pay an almost Oriental submission. Intrenched behind the wall of the Pyrenees, Spain, we must bear in mind, felt little of the great shock which was convulsing France and the other states of Europe; and with the aid of so formidable an engine as the Inquisition, it was easy to exterminate, before they could take root, such seeds of heresy as had been borne by the storm across the mountains.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, lay like a valley among the hills, which drinks in all the waters of the surrounding country. They were a common reservoir for the various opinions which agitated the nations on their borders. On the south were the Lutherans of Germany. The French Huguenots pressed them on the west; and by the ocean they held communication with England and the nations of the Baltic. The soldier quartered on their territory, the seaman who visited their shores, the trader who trafficked in their towns, brought with them different forms of the new religion. Books from France and from Germany circulated widely among a people, nearly all of whom, as we have seen, were able to read.

The new doctrines were discussed by men accustomed to think and act for themselves. Freedom of speculation on religious topics soon extended to political. It was the natural tendency of reform. The same spirit of free inquiry which attacked the foundations of unity of faith, stood ready next to assail those of unity of government; and men began boldly to criticize the rights of kings and the duties of subjects.

The spirit of independence was fostered by the institutions of the country. The provinces of the Netherlands, if not republican in form, were filled with the spirit of republics. In many of their features they call to mind the free states of Italy in the Middle Ages. Under the petty princes who ruled over them in early days, they had obtained charters, as we have seen, which secured a certain degree of constitutional freedom. The province of Brabant, above all, gloried in its "Joyeuse Entrée," which guarantied privileges and immunities of a more liberal character than those possessed by the other states of the Netherlands. When the provinces passed at length under the sceptre of a single sovereign, he lived at a distance, and the government was committed to a viceroy. Since their connection with Spain, the administration had been for the most part in the hands of a woman; and the delegated authority of a woman pressed but lightly on the independent temper of the Flemings.

Yet Charles the Fifth, as we have seen, partial as he was to his countrymen in the Netherlands, could ill brook their audacious spirit, and made vigorous{194} efforts to repress it. But his zeal for the spiritual welfare of his people never led him to overlook their material interests. He had no design by his punishments to cripple their strength, much less to urge them to extremity. When the regent, Mary of Hungary, his sister, warned him that his laws bore too heavily on the people to be endured, he was careful to mitigate their severity. His edicts in the name of religion were, indeed, written in blood. But the frequency of their repetition shows, as already remarked, the imperfect manner in which they were executed. This was still further proved by the prosperous condition of the people, the flourishing aspect of the various branches of industry, and the great enterprises to facilitate commercial intercourse and foster the activity of the country. At the close of Charles's reign, or rather at the commencement of his successor's, in 1560, was completed the grand canal extending from Antwerp to Brussels, the construction of which had consumed thirty years, and one million eight hundred thousand florins.[492] Such a work, at such a period,—the fruit, not of royal patronage, but of the public spirit of the citizens,—is evidence both of large resources and of wisdom in the direction of them. In this state of things, it is not surprising that the Flemings, feeling their own strength, should have assumed a free and independent tone little grateful to the ear of a sovereign. So far had this spirit of liberty or licence, as it was termed, increased, in the latter part of the emperor's reign, that the Regent Mary, when her brother abdicated, chose also to resign, declaring, in a letter to him, that "she would not continue to live with, much less to reign over, a people whose manners had undergone such a change,—in whom respect for God and man seemed no longer to exist."[493]

A philosopher who should have contemplated at that day the condition of the country, and the civilization at which it had arrived, might feel satisfied that a system of toleration in religious matters would be the one best suited to the genius of the people and the character of their institutions. But Philip was no philosopher; and toleration was a virtue not understood, at that time, by Calvinist any more than by Catholic. The question, therefore, is not whether the end he proposed was the best one;—on this, few at the present day will differ;—but whether Philip took the best means for effecting that end. This is the point of view from which his conduct in the Netherlands should be criticized.

Here, in the outset, he seems to have fallen into a capital error, by committing so large a share in the government to the hands of a foreigner,—Granvelle. The country was filled with nobles, some of them men of the highest birth, whose ancestors were associated with the most stirring national recollections, and who were endeared, moreover, to their countrymen by their own services. To several of these Philip himself was under no slight obligations for the aid they had afforded him in the late war,—on the fields of Gravelines and St. Quentin, and in the negotiation of the treaty which closed his hostilities with France. It was hardly to be expected that these proud nobles, conscious of their superior claims, and accustomed to so much authority and deference in their own land, would tamely submit to the control{195} of a stranger, a man of obscure family, like his father indebted for his elevation to the royal favor.


Besides these great lords, there was a numerous aristocracy, inferior nobles and cavaliers, many of whom had served under the standard of Charles in his long wars. They there formed those formidable companies of ordonnance, whose fame perhaps stood higher than that of any other corps of the imperial cavalry. The situation of these men, now disbanded, and, with their roving military habits, hanging loosely on the country, has been compared by a modern author to that which, on the accession of the Bourbons, was occupied by the soldiers whom Napoleon had so often led to victory.[494] To add to their restlessness, many of these, as well as of the higher nobility, were embarrassed by debts contracted in their campaigns, or by too ambitious expenditure at home, especially in rivalry with the ostentatious Spaniard. "The Flemish nobles," says a writer of the time, "were too many of them oppressed by heavy debts and the payment of exorbitant interest. They spent twice as much as they were worth on their palaces, furniture, troops of retainers, costly liveries, their banquets and sumptuous entertainments of every description,—in fine, in every form of luxury and superfluity that could be devised. Thus discontent became prevalent through the country, and men anxiously looked forward to some change."[495]

Still another element of discontent, and one that extended to all classes, was antipathy to the Spaniards. It had not been easy to repress this even under the rule of Charles the Fifth, who had shown such manifest preference for his Flemish subjects. But now it was more decidedly called out, under a monarch, whose sympathies lay altogether on the side of their rivals. No doubt this popular sentiment is to be explained partly by the contrast afforded by the characters of the two nations, so great as hardly to afford a point of contact between them. But it may be fairly charged, to a great extent, on the Spaniards themselves, who, while they displayed many noble and magnanimous traits at home, seemed desirous to exhibit only the repulsive side of their character to the eye of the stranger. Cold and impenetrable, assuming an arrogant tone of superiority over every other nation, in whatever land it was their destiny to be cast, England, Italy, or the Netherlands, as allies or as enemies, we find the Spaniards of that day equally detested. Brought with them, as the people of the Netherlands were, under a common sceptre, a spirit of comparison and rivalry grew up, which induced a thousand causes of irritation.

The difficulty was still further increased by the condition of the neighboring countries, where the minds of the inhabitants were now in the highest state of fermentation in matters of religion. In short, the atmosphere seemed everywhere to be in that highly electrified condition which bodes the coming tempest. In this critical state of things, it was clear that it was only by a most careful and considerate policy that harmony could be maintained in the Netherlands; a policy manifesting alike tenderness for the feelings of the nation and respect for its institutions.{196}

Having thus shown the general aspect of things when the duchess of Parma entered on her regency, towards the close of 1559, it is time to go forward with the narrative of the prominent events which led to the War of the Revolution.

We have already seen that Philip, on leaving the country, lodged the administration nominally in three councils, although in truth it was on the council of state that the weight of government actually rested. Even here the nobles who composed it were of little account in matters of real importance, which were reserved for a consulta, consisting, besides the regent, of Granvelle, Count Barlaimont, and the learned jurist Viglius. As the last two were altogether devoted to Granvelle, and the regent was instructed to defer greatly to his judgment, the government of the Netherlands may be said to have been virtually deposited in the hands of the bishop of Arras.

At the head of the Flemish nobles in the council of state, and indeed in the country, taking into view their rank, fortune, and public services, stood Count Egmont and the prince of Orange. I have already given some account of the former, and the reader has seen the important part which he took in the great victories of Gravelines and St. Quentin. To the prince of Orange Philip had also been indebted for his counsel in conducting the war, and still more for the aid which he had afforded in the negotiations for peace. It will be proper, before going further, to give the reader some particulars of this celebrated man, the great leader in the war of the Netherlands.

William, prince of Orange, was born at Dillenburg, in the German duchy of Nassau, on the twenty-fifth of April, 1533. He was descended from a house, one of whose branches had given an emperor to Germany; and William's own ancestors were distinguished by the employments they had held, and the services they had rendered, both in Germany and the Low Countries. It was a proud vaunt of his, that Philip was under larger obligations to him than he to Philip; and that, but for the house of Nassau, the king of Spain would not be able to write as many titles as he now did after his name.[496]

When eleven years old, by the death of his cousin René he came into possession of a large domain in Holland, and a still larger property in Brabant, where he held the title of Lord of Breda. To these was added, the splendid inheritance of Chalons, and of the principality of Orange; which, however, situated at a distance, in the heart of France, might seem to be held by a somewhat precarious tenure.

William's parents were both Lutherans, and in their faith he was educated. But Charles saw with displeasure the false direction thus given to one who at a future day was to occupy so distinguished a position among his Flemish vassals. With the consent of his parents, the child, in his twelfth year, was removed to Brussels, to be brought up in the family of the emperor's sister, the Regent Mary of Hungary. However their consent to this step may be explained, it certainly seems that their zeal for the spiritual welfare of their son was not such as to stand in the way of his temporal. In the family of the regent the youth was bred a Catholic, while in all respects he received an education suited to his rank.[497] It is an interesting fact, that his preceptor{197} was a younger brother of Granvelle,—the man with whom William was afterwards to be placed in an attitude of such bitter hostility.


When fifteen years of age, the prince was taken into the imperial household, and became the page of Charles the Fifth. The emperor was not slow in discerning the extraordinary qualities of the youth; and he showed it by intrusting him, as he grew older, with various important commissions. He was accompanied by the prince on his military expeditions, and Charles gave a remarkable proof of his confidence in his capacity, by raising him, at the age of twenty-two, over the heads of veteran officers, and giving him the command of the imperial forces engaged in the siege of Marienburg. During the six months that William was in command, they were still occupied with this siege, and with the construction of a fortress for the protection of Flanders. There was little room for military display. But the troops were in want of food and of money, and their young commander's conduct under these embarrassments was such as to vindicate the wisdom of his appointment. Charles afterwards employed him on several diplomatic missions,—a more congenial field for the exercise of his talents, which appear to have been better suited to civil than to military affairs.

The emperor's regard for the prince seems to have increased with his years, and he gave public proof of it, in the last hour of his reign, by leaning on William's shoulder at the time of his abdication, when he made his parting address to the states of the Netherlands. He showed this still further by selecting him for the honorable mission of bearing the imperial crown to Ferdinand.

On his abdication, Charles earnestly commended William to his successor. Philip profited by his services in the beginning of his reign, when the prince of Orange, who had followed him in the French war, was made one of the four plenipotentiaries for negotiating the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, for the execution of which he remained as one of the hostages in France.

While at the court of Henry the Second, it will be remembered, the prince became acquainted with the secret designs of the French and Spanish monarchs against the Protestants in their dominions; and he resolved, from that hour, to devote all his strength to expel the "Spanish vermin" from the Netherlands. One must not infer from this, however, that William, at this early period, meditated the design of shaking off the rule of Spain altogether. The object he had in view went no further than to relieve the country from the odious presence of the Spanish troops, and to place the administration in those hands to which it rightfully belonged. They, however, who set a revolution in motion have not always the power to stop it. If they can succeed in giving it a direction, they will probably be carried forward by it beyond their intended limits, until, gathering confidence with success, they aim at an end far higher than that which they had originally proposed. Such, doubtless, was the case with William of Orange.

Notwithstanding the emperor's recommendation, the prince of Orange was not the man whom Philip selected for his confidence. Nor was it possible for William to regard the king with the same feelings which he had entertained for the emperor. To Charles the prince was under obvious obligations for his nurture in early life. His national pride, too, was not wounded by having a Spaniard for his sovereign, since Charles was not by birth, much less in heart, a Spaniard. All this was reversed in Philip, in whom William saw only the representative of a detested race. The prudent reserve which marked the character of each, no doubt, prevented the outward demonstration{198} of their sentiments; but from their actions we may readily infer the instinctive aversion which the two parties entertained for each other.

At the early age of eighteen, William married Anne of Egmont, daughter of the count of Büren. The connection was a happy one, if we may trust the loving tone of their correspondence. Unhappily, in a few years their union was dissolved by the lady's death. The prince did not long remain a widower, before he made proposals to the daughter of the duchess of Lorraine. The prospect of such a match gave great dissatisfaction to Philip, who had no mind to see his Flemish vassal allied with the family of a great feudatory of France. Disappointed in this quarter, William next paid his addresses to Anne of Saxony, an heiress, whose large possessions made her one of the most brilliant matches in Germany. William's passion and his interest, it was remarked, kept time well together.

The course of love, however, was not destined to run smoothly on the present occasion. Anne was the daughter of Maurice, the great Lutheran champion, the implacable enemy of Charles the Fifth. Left early an orphan, she had been reared in the family of her uncle, the elector of Saxony, in the strictest tenets of the Lutheran faith. Such a connection was, of course, every way distasteful to Philip, to whom William was willing so far to defer as to solicit his approbation, though he did not mean to be controlled by it.[498] The correspondence on the subject, in which both the regent and Granvelle took an active part, occupies as much space in collections of the period as more important negotiations. The prince endeavored to silence the king's scruples, by declaring that he was too much a Catholic at heart to marry any woman who was not of the same persuasion as himself; and that he had received assurances from the elector that his wife in this respect should entirely conform to his wishes. The elector had scruples as to the match, no less than Philip, though on precisely the opposite grounds; and, after the prince's assurance to the king, one is surprised to find that an understanding must have existed with the elector that Anne should be allowed the undisturbed enjoyment of her own religion.[499] This double dealing leaves a disagreeable impression in regard to William's character. Yet it does not seem, to judge from his later life, to be altogether inconsistent with it. Machiavelli is the author whom he is said to have had most frequently in his hand;[500] and in the policy with which he shaped his course, we may sometimes fancy that we can discern the influence of the Italian statesman.

The marriage was celebrated with great pomp at Leipsic, on the twenty-fifth of August, 1561. The king of Denmark, several of the electors, and many princes and nobles of both Germany and the Low Countries, were invited guests; and the whole assembly present on the occasion was estimated at nearly six thousand persons.[501] The king of Spain complimented the bride by sending her a jewel worth three thousand ducats.[502] It proved, however, as Granvelle had predicted, an ill-assorted union. After living together for nearly thirteen years, the prince, weary of the irregularities of his wife, separated from her, and sent her back to her friends in Germany.{199}


During his residence in Brussels, William easily fell into the way of life followed by the Flemish nobles. He was very fond of the healthy exercise of the chase, and especially of hawking. He was social, indeed convivial, in his habits, after the fashion of his countrymen;[503] and was addicted to gallantries, which continued long enough, it is said, to suggest an apology for the disorderly conduct of his wife. He occupied the ancient palace of his family at Brussels, where he was surrounded by lords and cavaliers, and a numerous retinue of menials.[504] He lived in great state, displaying a profuse magnificence in his entertainments; and few there were, natives or foreigners, who had any claim on his hospitality, that did not receive it.[505] By this expensive way of life, he encumbered his estate with a heavy debt; amounting, if we may take Granvelle's word, to nine hundred thousand florins.[506] Yet, if William's own account, but one year later, be true, the debt was then brought within a very moderate compass.[507]

With his genial habits and love of pleasure, and with manners the most attractive, he had not the free and open temper which often goes along with them. He was called by his contemporaries "William the Silent." Perhaps the epithet was intended to indicate not so much his taciturnity, as that impenetrable reserve which locked up his secrets closely within his bosom. No man knew better how to keep his counsel, even from those who acted with him. But while masking his own designs, no man was more sagacious in penetrating those of others. He carried on an extensive correspondence in foreign countries, and employed every means for getting information. Thus, while he had it in his power to outwit others, it was very rare that he became their dupe. Though on ordinary occasions frugal of words, when he did speak it was with effect. His eloquence was of the most persuasive kind;[508] and as towards his inferiors he was affable, and exceedingly considerate of{200} their feelings, he acquired an unbounded ascendancy over his countrymen.[509] It must be admitted that the prince of Orange possessed many rare qualities for the leader of a great revolution.

The course William took in respect to his wife's religion might lead one to doubt whether he were at heart Catholic or Protestant; or indeed whether he were not equally indifferent to both persuasions. The latter opinion might be strengthened by a remark imputed to him, that "he would not have his wife trouble herself with such melancholy books as the Scriptures, but instead of them amuse herself with Amadis de Gaul, and other pleasant works of the kind."[510] "The prince of Orange," says a writer of the time, "passed for a Catholic among Catholics, a Lutheran among Lutherans. If he could, he would have had a religion compounded of both. In truth, he looked on the Christian religion like the ceremonies which Numa introduced, as a sort of politic invention."[511] Granvelle, in a letter to Philip, speaks much to the same purpose.[512] These portraits were by unfriendly hands. Those who take a different view of his character, while they admit that in his early days his opinions in matters of faith were unsettled, contend that in time he became sincerely attached to the doctrines which he defended with his sword. This seems to be no more than natural. But the reader will have an opportunity of judging for himself, when he has followed the great chief through the changes of his stormy career.

It would be strange, indeed, if the leader in a religious revolution should have been himself without any religious convictions. One thing is certain, he possessed a spirit of toleration, the more honorable that in that day it was so rare. He condemned the Calvinists as restless and seditious; the Catholics, for their bigoted attachment to a dogma. Persecution in matters of faith he totally condemned, for freedom of judgment in such matters he regarded as the inalienable right of man.[513] These conclusions, at which the world, after an incalculable amount of human suffering, has been three centuries in arriving, (has it altogether arrived at them yet?) must be allowed to reflect great credit on the character of William.{201}




Grounds of Complaint.—The Spanish Troops.—The New Bishoprics.—Influence on Granvelle.—Opposed by the Nobles.—His Unpopularity.


The first cause of trouble, after Philip's departure from the Netherlands, arose from the detention of the Spanish troops there. The king had pledged his word, it will be remembered, that they should leave the country by the end of four months, at farthest. Yet that period had long since passed, and no preparations were made for their departure. The indignation of the people rose higher and higher at the insult thus offered by the presence of these detested foreigners. It was a season of peace. No invasion was threatened from abroad; no insurrection existed at home. There was nothing to require the maintenance of an extraordinary force, much less of one composed of foreign troops. It could only be that the king, distrusting his Flemish subjects, designed to overawe them by his mercenaries, in sufficient strength to enforce his arbitrary acts. The free spirit of the Netherlanders was roused by these suggestions, and they boldly demanded the removal of the Spaniards.

Granvelle himself, who would willingly have pleased his master by retaining a force in the country on which he could rely, admitted that the project was impracticable. "The troops must be withdrawn," he wrote, "and that speedily, or the consequence will be an insurrection."[514] The states would not consent, he said, to furnish the necessary subsidies while they remained. The prince of Orange and Count Egmont threw up the commands intrusted to them by the king. They dared no longer hold them, as the minister added, it was so unpopular.[515]

The troops had much increased the difficulty by their own misconduct. They were drawn from the great mass, often the dregs, of the people; and their morals, such as they were, had not been improved in the life of the camp. However strict their discipline in time of active service, it was greatly relaxed in their present state of inaction; and they had full license, as well as leisure, to indulge their mischievous appetites, at the expense of the unfortunate districts in which they were quartered.

Yet Philip was slow in returning an answer to the importunate letters of the regent and the minister; and when he did reply, it was to evade their request, lamenting his want of funds, and declaring his purpose to remove the forces so soon as he could pay their arrears. The public exchequer was undoubtedly at a low ebb; lower in Spain than in the Netherlands.[516] But no one could believe the royal credit so far reduced as not to be able to provide{202} for the arrears of three or four thousand soldiers. The regent, however, saw that, with or without instructions, it was necessary to act. Several of the members of the council became sureties for the payment of the arrears, and the troops were ordered to Zealand, in order to embark for Spain. But the winds proved unfavorable. Two months longer they were detained, on shore or on board the transports. They soon got into brawls with the workmen employed on the dikes; and the inhabitants, still apprehensive of orders from the king countermanding the departure of the Spaniards, resolved, in such an event, to abandon the dikes, and lay the country under water![517] Fortunately, they were not driven to this extremity. In January, 1561, more than a year after the date assigned by Philip, the nation was relieved of the presence of the intruders.[518]

Philip's conduct in this affair is not very easy to explain. However much he might have desired originally to maintain the troops in the Netherlands, as an armed police on which he could rely to enforce the execution of his orders, it had become clear that the good they might do in quelling an insurrection was more than counterbalanced by the probability of their exciting one. It was characteristic of the king, however, to be slow in retreating from any position he had taken; and, as we shall often have occasion to see, there was a certain apathy or sluggishness in his nature, which led him sometimes to leave events to take their own course, rather than to shape a course for them himself.

This difficulty was no sooner settled, than it was followed by another scarcely less serious. We have seen, in a former chapter, the arrangements made for adding thirteen new bishoprics to the four already existing in the Netherlands. The measure, in itself a good one, and demanded by the situation of the country, was, from the posture of affairs at that time, likely to meet with opposition, if not to occasion great excitement. For this reason, the whole affair had been kept profoundly secret by the government. It was not till 1561 that Philip disclosed his views, in a letter to some of the principal nobles in the council of state. But, long before that time, the project had taken wind, and created a general sensation through the country.

The people looked on it as an attempt to subject them to the same ecclesiastical system which existed in Spain. The bishops, by virtue of their office, were possessed of certain inquisitorial powers, and these were still further enlarged by the provisions of the royal edicts. Philip's attachment to the Inquisition was well understood, and there was probably not a child in the country who had not heard of the auto da fé which he had sanctioned by his presence on his return to his dominions. The present changes were regarded as part of a great scheme for introducing the Spanish Inquisition into the Netherlands.[519] However erroneous these conclusions,{203} there is little reason to doubt they were encouraged by those who knew their fallacy.


The nobles had other reasons for opposing the measure. The bishops would occupy in the legislature the place formerly held by the abbots, who were indebted for their election to the religious houses over which they presided. The new prelates, on the contrary, would receive their nomination from the crown; and the nobles saw with alarm their own independence menaced by the accession of an order of men who would naturally be subservient to the interests of the monarch. That the crown was not insensible to these advantages is evident from a letter of the minister, in which he sneers at the abbots, as "men fit only to rule over monasteries, ever willing to thwart the king, and as perverse as the lowest of the people."[520]

But the greatest opposition arose from the manner in which the new dignitaries were to be maintained. This was to be done by suppressing the offices of the abbots, and by appropriating the revenues of their houses to the maintenance of the bishops. For this economical arrangement Granvelle seems to have been chiefly responsible. Thus the income—amounting to fifty thousand ducats—of the Abbey of Afflighen, one of the wealthiest in Brabant, was to be bestowed on the archiepiscopal see of Mechlin, to be held by the minister himself.[521] In virtue of that dignity, Granvelle would become primate of the Netherlands.

Loud was the clamor excited by this arrangement among the members of the religious fraternities, and all those who directly or indirectly had any interest in them. It was a manifest perversion of the funds from the objects for which they had been given to the institutions. It was interfering with the economy of these institutions, protected by the national charters; and the people of Brabant appealed to the "Joyeuse Entrée." Jurists of the greatest eminence, in different parts of Europe, were consulted as to the legality of these proceedings. Thirty thousand florins were expended by Brabant alone in this matter, as well as in employing an agent at the court of Rome to exhibit the true state of the affair to his holiness, and to counteract the efforts of the Spanish government.[522]

The reader may remember, that, just before Philip's departure from the Netherlands, a bull arrived from Rome authorizing the erection of the new bishoprics. This was but the initiatory step. Many other proceedings were necessary before the consummation of the affair. Owing to impediments thrown in the way by the provinces, and the habitual tardiness of the court of Rome, nearly three years elapsed before the final briefs were expedited by Pius the Fourth. New obstacles were raised by the jealous temper of the Flemings, who regarded the whole matter as a conspiracy of the pope and the king against the liberties of the nation. Utrecht, Gueldres, and three other places, refused to receive their bishops; and they never obtained a footing{204} there. Antwerp, which was to have been made an episcopal see, sent a commission to the king to represent the ruin this would bring on its trade, from the connection supposed to exist between the episcopal establishment and the Spanish Inquisition. For a year the king would not condescend to give any heed to the remonstrance. He finally consented to defer the decision of the question till his arrival in the country; and Antwerp was saved from its bishop.[523]

In another place we find the bishop obtaining an admission through the management of Granvelle, who profited by the temporary absence of the nobles. Nowhere were the new prelates received with enthusiasm, but, on the contrary, wherever they were admitted, it was with a coldness and silence that intimated too plainly the aversion of the inhabitants. Such was the case with the archbishop of Mechlin himself, who made his entry into the capital of his diocese with not a voice to cheer or to welcome him.[524] In fact, everywhere the newly elected prelate seemed more like the thief stealthily climbing into the fold, than the good shepherd who had come to guard it.

Meanwhile the odium of these measures fell on the head of the minister. No other man had been so active in enforcing them, and he had the credit universally with the people of having originated the whole scheme, and proposed it to the sovereign. But from this Philip expressly exonerates him in a letter to the regent, in which he says, that the whole plan had been settled long before it was communicated to Granvelle.[525] Indeed, the latter, with some show of reason, demanded whether, being already one of four bishops in the country, he should be likely to recommend a plan which would make him only one of seventeen.[526] This appeal to self-interest did not wholly satisfy those who thought that it was better to be the first of seventeen, than to be merely one of four where all were equal.

Whatever may have been Granvelle's original way of thinking in the matter, it is certain that, whether it arose from his accommodating temper, or from his perceptions of the advantages of the scheme being quickened by his prospect of the primacy, he soon devoted himself, heart as well as hand, to carry out the royal views. "I am convinced," he writes, in the spring of 1560, to Philip's secretary, Perez, "that no measure could be more advantageous to the country, or more necessary for the support of religion; and if necessary to the success of the scheme, I would willingly devote to it my fortune and my life."[527]


Accordingly we find him using all his strength to carry the project through, devising expedients for raising the episcopal revenues, and thus occupying a position which exposed him to general obloquy. He felt this bitterly, and at times, even with all his constancy, was hardly able to endure it. "Though I{205} say nothing," he writes in the month of September, 1561, to the Spanish ambassador in Rome, "I feel the danger of the situation in which the king has placed me. All the odium of these measures falls on my head; and I only pray that a remedy for the evil may be found, though it should be by the sacrifice of myself. Would to God the erection of these bishoprics had never been thought of!"[528]

In February, 1561, Granvelle received a cardinal's hat from Pope Pius the Fourth. He did not show the alacrity usually manifested in accepting this distinguished honor. He had obtained it by the private intercession of the duchess of Parma; and he feared lest the jealousy of Philip might be alarmed, were it to any other than himself that his minister owed this distinction. But the king gave the proceeding his cordial sanction, declaring to Granvelle that the reward was no higher than his desert.

Thus clothed with the Roman purple, primate of the Netherlands, and first minister of state, Granvelle might now look down on the proudest noble in the land. He stood at the head of both the civil and the ecclesiastical administration of the country. All authority centred in his person. Indeed, such had been the organization of the council of state, that the minister might be said to be not so much the head of the government as the government itself.

The affairs of the council were conducted in the manner prescribed by Philip. Ordinary business passed through the hands of the whole body; but affairs of moment were reserved for the cardinal and his two coadjutors to settle with the regent. On such occasions the other ministers were not even summoned, or, if summoned, such only of the despatches from Spain as the minister chose to communicate were read, and the remainder reserved for the consulta. When, as did sometimes happen, the nobles carried a measure in opposition to Granvelle, he would refer the whole question to the court at Madrid.[529] By this expedient he gained time for the present, and probably obtained a decision in his favor at last. The regent conformed entirely to the cardinal's views. The best possible understanding seems to have subsisted between them, to judge from the tone of their correspondence with Philip, in which each of the parties bestows the most unqualified panegyric on the other. Yet there was a strange reserve in their official intercourse. Even when occupying the same palace, they are said to have communicated with each other by writing.[530] The reason suggested for this singular proceeding is, that it might not appear, from their being much together, that the regent was acting so entirely under the direction of the minister. It is certain that both Margaret and Granvelle had an uncommon passion for letter-writing, as is shown by the length and number of their epistles, particularly to the king. The cardinal especially went into a gossiping minuteness of detail, to which few men in his station would have condescended. But his master, to whom his letters at this period were chiefly addressed, had the virtue of patience in an extraordinary degree, as is evinced by the faithful manner in which he perused these despatches, and made notes upon them with his own hand.

The minister occupied a palace in Brussels, and had another residence at a short distance from the capital.[531] He maintained great pomp in his establishment, was attended by a large body of retainers, and his equipage and liveries{206} were distinguished by their magnificence. He gave numerous banquets, held large levées, and, in short, assumed a state in his manner of living which corresponded with his station, and did no violence to his natural taste. We may well believe that the great lords of the country, whose ancestors had for centuries filled its highest places, must have chafed as they saw themselves thrown into the shade by one whose fortunes had been thus suddenly forced to this unnatural height by the sunshine of royal favor. Their indignation was heightened by the tricky arrangement, which, while it left them ciphers in the administration, made them responsible to the people for its measures. And if the imputation to Granvelle of arrogance, in the pride of his full-blown fortunes, was warranted, feelings of a personal nature may have mingled with those of general discontent.

But, however they may have felt, the Flemish lords must be allowed not to have been precipitate in the demonstration of their feelings. It is not till 1562 that we observe the cardinal, in his correspondence with Spain, noticing any discourtesy in the nobles, or intimating the existence of any misunderstanding with them. In the spring of the preceding year we find the prince of Orange "commending himself cordially and affectionately to the cardinal's good will;" and subscribing himself, "your very good friend to command."[532] In four months after this, on the twenty-third of July, we have a letter from this "very good friend" and count Egmont, addressed to Philip. In this epistle the writers complain bitterly of their exclusion from all business of importance in the council of state. They were only invited to take part in deliberations of no moment. This was contrary to the assurance of his majesty when they reluctantly accepted office; and it was in obedience to his commands to advise him if this should occur that they now wrote to him.[533] Nevertheless, they should have still continued to bear the indignity in silence, had they not found that they were held responsible by the people for measures in which they had no share.[534]—Considering the arrangement Philip had made for the consulta, one has little reason to commend his candor in this transaction, and not much to praise his policy. As he did not redress the evil, his implied disavowal of being privy to it would hardly go for anything with the injured party. In his answer, Philip thanked the nobles for their zeal in his service, and promised to reply to them more at large on the return of Count Hoorne to Flanders.[535]

There is no reason to suppose that Granvelle was ever acquainted with the fact of the letter having been written by the two lords. The privilege claimed by the novelist, who looks over the shoulders of his heroes and heroines when they are inditing their epistles, is also enjoyed by the historian. With the materials rescued from the mouldering archives of the past, he can present the reader with a more perfect view of the motives and opinions of the great actors in the drama three centuries ago, than they possessed in respect to one another. This is particularly true of the period before us, when the correspondence of the parties interested was ample in itself, and, through the care taken of it, in public and private collections, has been well preserved. Such{207} care was seldom bestowed on historical documents of this class before the sixteenth century.


It is not till long—nearly a year—after the date of the preceding letter, that anything appears to intimate the existence of a coldness, much less of an open rupture, between Granvelle and the discontented nobles. Meanwhile, the religious troubles in France had been fast gathering to a head; and the opposite factions ranged themselves under the banners of their respective chiefs, prepared to decide the question by arms. Philip the Second, who stood forth as the champion of Catholicism, not merely in his own dominions, but throughout Christendom, watched with anxiety the struggle going forward in the neighboring kingdom. It had the deeper interest for him, from its influence on the Low Countries. His Italian possessions were separated from France by the Alps; his Spanish, by the Pyrenees. But no such mountain barrier lay between France and Flanders. They were not even separated, in the border provinces, by difference of language. Every shock given to France must necessarily be felt in the remotest corner of the Netherlands. Granvelle was so well aware of this, that he besought the king to keep an eye on his French neighbors, and support them in the maintenance of the Roman Catholic religion. "That they should be maintained in this is quite as important to us as it is to them. Many here," he adds, "would be right glad to see affairs go badly for the Catholics in that kingdom. No noble as yet among us has openly declared himself. Should any one do so, God only could save the country from the fate of France."[536]

Acting on these hints, and conformably to his own views, Philip sent orders to the regent to raise two thousand men, and send them across the borders to support the French Catholics. The orders met with decided resistance in the council of state. The great Flemish lords, at this time, must have affected, if they did not feel, devotion to the established religion. But they well knew there was too large a leaven of heresy in the country to make these orders palatable. They felt no desire, moreover, thus unnecessarily to mix themselves up with the feuds of France. They represented that the troops could not safely be dispensed with in the present state of feeling at home; and that, if they marched against the Protestants of France, the German Protestants might be expected to march against them.

Granvelle, on the other hand, would have enforced the orders of Philip, as essential to the security of the Netherlands themselves. Margaret, thus pressed by the opposite parties, felt the embarrassment of either course. The alternative presented was, that of disobeying the king, or of incurring the resentment, perhaps the resistance, of the nation. Orange and Egmont besought her to convoke the states-general, as the only safe counsellors in such an emergency. The states had often been convened on matters of less moment by the former regent, Mary of Hungary. But the cardinal had no mind to invoke the interference of that "mischievous animal, the people."[537] He had witnessed a convocation of the states previous to the embarkation of Philip; and he had not forgotten the independent tone then assumed by that body. It had been, indeed, the last injunction of the king to his sister, on no account to call a meeting of the national legislature till his return to the country.{208}

But while on this ground Margaret refused to summon the states-general, she called a meeting of the order of the Golden Fleece, to whom she was to apply for counsel on extraordinary occasions. The knights of the order consisted of persons of the highest consideration in the country, including the governors of the provinces. In May, 1562, they assembled at Brussels. Before meeting in public, the prince of Orange invited them to a conference in his own palace. He there laid before them the state of the country, and endeavored to concert with the members some regular system of resistance to the exclusive and arbitrary course of the minister. Although no definite action took place at that time, most of those present would seem to have fallen in with the views of the prince. There were some, however, who took opposite ground, and who declared themselves content with Granvelle, and not disposed to prescribe to their sovereign the choice of his ministers. The foremost of these were the duke of Arschot, a zealous Catholic, and Count Barlaimont, president of the council of finance, and, as we have already seen, altogether devoted to the minister. This nobleman communicated to Margaret the particulars of the meeting in the prince's palace; and the regent was careful to give the knights of the order such incessant occupation during the remainder of their stay in the capital, as to afford the prince of Orange no opportunity of pursuing his scheme of agitation.[538]

Before the assembly of the Golden Fleece had been dissolved, it was decided to send an envoy to the king to lay before him the state of the country, both in regard to the religious excitement, much stimulated in certain quarters by the condition of France, and to the financial embarrassments, which now pressed heavily on the government. The person selected for the office was Florence de Montmorency, lord of Montigny, a cavalier who had the boldness to avow his aversion to any interference with the rights of conscience, and whose sympathies, it will be believed, were not on the side of the minister.

Soon after his departure, the vexed question of aid to France was settled in the council by commuting personal service for money. It was decided to raise a subsidy of fifty thousand crowns, to be remitted at once to the French government.[539]

Montigny reached Spain in June, 1562. He was graciously received by Philip, who, in a protracted audience, gathered from him a circumstantial account of the condition of the Netherlands. In answer to the royal queries, the envoy also exposed the misunderstanding which existed between the minister and the nobles.

But the duchess of Parma did not trust this delicate affair to the representations of Montigny. She wrote herself to her brother, in Italian, which, when she would give her own views on matters of importance, she used instead of French, ordinarily employed by the secretaries. In Italian she expressed herself with the greatest fluency, and her letters in that language, for the purpose of secrecy, were written with her own hand.


The duchess informed the king of the troubles that had arisen with the nobles; charging Orange and Egmont, especially, as the source of them. She accused them of maliciously circulating rumors that the cardinal had advised Philip to invade the country with an armed force, and to cut off the heads of some five or six of the principal malecontents.[540] She paid a high tribute to the minister's loyalty, and his talent for business; and she besought the king{209} to disabuse Montigny in respect to the common idea of a design to introduce the Spanish Inquisition into the country, and to do violence to its institutions.

The war was now openly proclaimed between the cardinal and the nobles. Whatever decorum might be preserved in their intercourse, there was no longer any doubt as to the hostile attitude in which they were hereafter to stand in respect to each other. In a letter written a short time previous to that of the regent, the cardinal gives a brief view of his situation to the king. The letter is written in the courageous spirit of one who does not shrink from the dangers that menace him. After an observation intimating no great confidence in the orthodoxy of the prince of Orange, he remarks: "Though the prince shows me a friendly face, when absent he is full of discontent. They have formed a league against me," he continues, "and threaten my life. But I have little fear on that score, as I think they are much too wise to attempt any such thing. They complain of my excluding them from office, and endeavoring to secure an absolute authority for your majesty. All which they repeat openly at their banquets, with no good effect on the people. Yet never were there governors of the provinces who possessed so much power as they have, or who had all appointments more completely in their own hands. In truth, their great object is to reduce your majesty and the regent to the condition of mere ciphers in the government."

"They refuse to come to my table," he adds, "at which I smile. I find guests enough in the gentry of the country, the magistrates, and even the worthy burghers of the city, whose good-will it is well to conciliate against a day of trouble. These evils I bear with patience, as I can. For adversity is sent by the Almighty, who will recompense those who suffer for religion and justice." The cardinal was fond of regarding himself in the light of a martyr.

He concludes this curious epistle with beseeching the king to come soon to the Netherlands; "to come well attended, and with plenty of money; since, thus provided, he will have no lack of troops, if required to act abroad, while his presence will serve to calm the troubled spirits at home."[541] The politic minister says nothing of the use that might be made of these troops at home. Such an intimation would justify the charges already brought against him. He might safely leave his master to make that application for himself.

In December, 1562, Montigny returned from his mission, and straightway made his report to the council of state. He enlarged on the solicitude which Philip had shown for the interests of the country. Nothing had been further from his mind than to introduce into it the Spanish Inquisition. He was only anxious to exterminate the growing heresy from the land, and called on those in authority to aid in the good work with all their strength. Finally, though pressed by want of funds, he promised, so soon as he could settle his affairs in Spain, to return to Flanders.—It was not unusual for Philip to hold out the idea of his speedy return to the country. The king's gracious reception seems to have had some effect on Montigny. At all events, he placed a degree of confidence in the royal professions, in which the sceptical temper of William was far from acquiescing. He intimated as much to his friend, and the latter, not relishing the part of a dupe, which the prince's language seemed to assign to him, retorted in an angry manner; and something like altercation took place between the two lords, in the presence of the duchess.{210} At least, such is the report of the historians.[542] But historians in a season of faction are not the best authorities. In the troubles before us we have usually a safer guide in the correspondence of the actors.

By Montigny despatches were also brought from Philip for the duchess of Parma. They contained suggestions as to her policy in reference to the factious nobles, whom the king recommended to her, if possible, to divide by sowing the seeds of jealousy among them.[543] Egmont was a stanch Catholic, loyal in his disposition, ambitious, and vain. It would not be difficult to detach him from his associates by a show of preference, which, while it flattered his vanity, would excite in them jealousy and distrust.

In former times there had been something of these feelings betwixt Egmont and the prince of Orange. At least there had been estrangement. This might, in some degree, be referred to the contrast in their characters. Certainly no two characters could be more strongly contrasted with each other. Egmont, frank, fiery, impulsive in his temper, had little in common with the cool, cautious, and calculating William. The showy qualities of the former, lying on the surface, more readily caught the popular eye. There was a depth in William's character not easy to be fathomed,—an habitual reserve, which made it difficult even for those who knew him best always to read him right. Yet the coolness between these two nobles may have arisen less from difference of character than from similarity of position. Both, by their rank and services, took the foremost ground in public estimation, so that it was scarcely possible they should not jostle each other in the career of ambition. But however divided formerly, they were now too closely united by the pressure of external circumstances to be separated by the subtle policy of Philip. Under the influence of a common disgust with the administration and its arbitrary measures, they continued to act in concert together, and, in their union, derived benefit from the very opposition of their characters. For what better augury of success than that afforded by the union of wisdom in council with boldness in execution?

The consequences of the troubles in France, as had been foreseen, were soon visible in the Low Countries. The Protestants of that time constituted a sort of federative republic, or rather a great secret association, extending through the different parts of Europe, but so closely linked together that a blow struck in one quarter instantly vibrated to every other. The Calvinists in the border provinces of the Low Countries felt, in particular, great sympathy with the movements of their French brethren. Many Huguenots took shelter among them. Others came to propagate their doctrines. Tracts in the French tongue were distributed and read with avidity. Preachers harangued in the conventicles; and the people, by hundreds and thousands, openly assembled, and, marching in procession, chanted the Psalms of David in the translation of Marot.[544]


This open defiance of the edicts called for the immediate interposition of the government. At Tournay two Calvinist preachers were arrested, and, after a regular trial, condemned and burned at the stake. In Valenciennes two others were seized, in like manner, tried, and sentenced to the same terrible punishment. But as the marquis of Bergen, the governor of the province,{211} had left the place on a visit to a distant quarter, the execution was postponed till his return. Seven months thus passed, when the regent wrote to the marquis, remonstrating on his unseasonable absence from his post. He had the spirit to answer, that "it neither suited his station nor his character to play the part of an executioner."[545] The marquis of Bergen had early ranged himself on the side of the prince of Orange, and he is repeatedly noticed by Granvelle, in his letters, as the most active of the malecontents. It may well be believed he was no friend to the system of persecution pursued by the government. Urged by Granvelle, the magistrates of the city at length assumed the office of conducting the execution themselves. On the day appointed, the two martyrs were escorted to the stake. The funeral pile was prepared, and the torch was about to be applied, when, at a signal from one of the prisoners, the multitude around broke in upon the place of execution, trampled down the guards and officers of justice, scattered the fagots collected for the sacrifice, and liberated the victims. Then, throwing themselves into a procession, they paraded the streets of the city, singing their psalms and Calvinistic hymns.

Meanwhile the officers of justice succeeded in again arresting the unfortunate men, and carrying them back to prison. But it was not long before their friends, assembling in greater numbers than before, stormed the fortress, forced the gates, and, rescuing the prisoners, carried them off in triumph.

These high-handed measures caused, as may be supposed, great indignation at the court of the regent. She instantly ordered a levy of three thousand troops, and, placing them under the marquis of Bergen, sent them against the insurgents. The force was such as to overcome all resistance. Arrests were made in great numbers, and the majesty of the law was vindicated by the trial and punishment of the ringleaders.[546]

"Rigorous and severe measures," wrote Philip, "are the only ones to be employed in matters of religion. It is by fear only that the rabble"—meaning by this the Reformers—"can be made to do their duty, and not always then."[547] This liberal sentiment found less favor in the Low Countries than in Spain. "One must ponder well," writes the cardinal to Perez, the royal secretary, "before issuing those absolute decrees, which are by no means as implicitly received here as they are in Italy."[548] The Fleming appealed to his laws, and, with all the minister's zeal, it was found impossible to move forward at the fiery pace of the Spanish Inquisition.

"It would raise a tumult at once," he writes, "should we venture to arrest a man without the clearest evidence. No man can be proceeded against without legal proof."[549] But an insurmountable obstacle in the way of enforcing the cruel edicts lay in the feelings of the nation. No law repugnant to such feelings can long be executed. "I accuse none of the nobles of being heretics," writes the regent to her brother; "but they show little zeal in the cause of religion, while the magistrates shrink from their duty from fear of the people."[550]{212} "How absurd is it," exclaims Granvelle, "for depositions to be taken before the Inquisition in Spain, in order to search out heretics in Antwerp, where thousands are every day walking about whom no one meddles with!"[551] "It is more than a year," he says, "since a single arrest on a charge of heresy has taken place in that city."[552] Yet whatever may have been the state of persecution at the present time, the vague dread of the future must have taken strong hold of people's minds, if, as a contemporary writes, there were no less than eighteen or twenty thousand refugees then in England, who had fled from Flanders for the sake of their religion.[553]

The odium of this persecution all fell on the head of Granvelle. He was the tool of Spain. Spain was under the yoke of the Inquisition. Therefore it was clearly the minister's design to establish the Spanish Inquisition over the Netherlands. Such was the concise logic by which people connected the name of Granvelle with that of the most dreaded of tribunals.[554] He was held responsible for the contrivance of the most unpopular measures of government, as well as for their execution. A thousand extravagant stories were circulated both of his private and his political life, which it is probably doing no injustice to the nobles to suppose they did not take much pains to correct. The favorite of the prince is rarely the favorite of the people. But no minister had ever been so unpopular as Granvelle in the Netherlands. He was hated by the nobles for his sudden elevation to power, and for the servile means, as they thought, by which he had risen to it. The people hated him, because he used that power for the ruin of their liberties. No administration—none certainly, if we except that of the iron Alva—was more odious to the nation.


Notwithstanding Granvelle's constancy, and the countenance he received from the regent and a few of the leading councillors, it was hard to bear up under this load of obloquy. He would gladly have had the king return to the country, and sustain him by his presence. It is the burden of his correspondence at this period. "It is a common notion here," he writes to the secretary, Perez, "that they are all ready in Spain to sacrifice the Low Countries. The lords talk so freely, that every moment I fear an insurrection.... For God's sake, persuade the king to come, or it will lie heavy on his conscience."[555] The minister complains to the secretary that he seems to be entirely abandoned by the government at home. "It is three months," he writes, "since I have received a letter from the court. We know as little of Spain here as of the Indies. Such delays are dangerous, and may cost the king dear."[556]—It is clear his majesty exercised his royal prerogative of having the correspondence all on one side. At least his own share in it, at this period, was small, and his letters were concise indeed in comparison with the{213} voluminous epistles of his minister. Perhaps there was some policy in this silence of the monarch. His opinions, nay, his wishes, would have, to some extent, the weight of laws. He would not, therefore, willingly commit himself. He preferred to conform to his natural tendency to trust to the course of events, instead of disturbing them by too precipitate action. The cognomen by which Philip is recognized on the roll of Castilian princes is "the Prudent."



League against Granvelle.—Margaret desires his Removal.—Philip deliberates.—Granvelle dismissed.—Leaves the Netherlands.


While the state of feeling towards Granvelle, in the nation generally, was such as is described in the preceding chapter, the lords who were in the council of state chafed more and more under their exclusion from business. As the mask was now thrown away, they no longer maintained the show of deference which they had hitherto paid to the minister. From opposition to his measures, they passed to irony, ridicule, sarcasm; till, finding that their assaults had little effect to disturb Granvelle's temper, and still less to change his policy, they grew at length less and less frequent in their attendance at the council, where they played so insignificant a part. This was a sore embarrassment to the regent, who needed the countenance of the great nobles to protect her with the nation, in the unpopular measures in which she was involved.

Even Granvelle, with all his equanimity, considered the crisis so grave as to demand some concession, or at least a show of it, on his own part, to conciliate the good-will of his enemies. He authorized the duchess to say that he was perfectly willing that they should be summoned to the consulta, and to absent himself from its meetings; indeed, to resign the administration altogether, provided the king approved of it.[557] Whether Margaret communicated this to the nobles does not appear; at all events, as nothing came of these magnanimous concessions of the minister, they had no power to soothe the irritation of his enemies.[558]

On the contrary, the disaffected lords were bending their efforts to consolidate their league, of which Granvelle, it may be recollected, noticed the existence in a letter of the preceding year. We now find the members binding themselves to each other by an oath of secrecy.[559] The persons who{214} formed this confederacy were the governors of the provinces, the knights of the Golden Fleece, and, in short, most of the aristocracy of any consideration in the country. It seemed impossible that any minister could stand against such a coalition, resting, moreover, on the sympathies of the people. This formidable association, seeing that all attempts to work on the cardinal were ineffectual, resolved at length to apply directly to the king for his removal. They stated that, knowing the heavy cares which pressed on his majesty, they had long dissembled and kept silence, rather than aggravate these cares by their complaints. If they now broke this silence, it was from a sense of duty to the king, and to save the country from ruin. They enlarged on the lamentable condition of affairs, which, without specifying any particular charges, they imputed altogether to the cardinal, or rather to the position in which he stood in reference to the nation. It was impossible, they said, that the business of the country could prosper, where the minister who directed it was held in such general detestation by the people. They earnestly implored the king to take immediate measures for removing an evil which menaced the speedy ruin of the land. And they concluded with begging that they might be allowed to resign their seats in the council of state, where, in the existing state of affairs, their presence could be of no service.—This letter, dated the eleventh of March, 1563, was signed, on behalf of the coalition, by three lords who had places in the council of state,—the prince of Orange, Count Egmont, and Count Hoorne.[560]

The last nobleman was of an ancient and most honorable lineage. He held the high office of admiral of the Netherlands, and had been governor both of Zütphen and of Gueldres. He accompanied Philip to Spain, and during his absence the province of Gueldres was transferred to another, Count Megen, for which Hoorne considered that he was indebted to the good offices of the cardinal. On his return to his own country, he at once enrolled himself in the ranks of the opposition. He was a man of indisputable bravery, of a quick and impatient temper; one, on the whole, who seems to have been less indebted for his celebrity to his character, than to the peculiar circumstances in which he was placed.

On the day previous to this despatch of the nobles, we find a letter to the king from Granvelle, who does not seem to have been ignorant of what was doing by the lords. He had expostulated with them, he tells Philip, on the disloyalty of their conduct in thus banding against the government,—a proceeding which in other times might have subjected them to a legal prosecution.[561] He mentions no one by name except Egmont, whom he commends as more tractable and open to reason than his confederates. He was led away by evil counsellors, and Granvelle expresses the hope that he will one day open his eyes to his errors, and return to his allegiance.


It is difficult to conceive the detestation, he goes on to say, in which the Spaniards are held by the nation. The Spaniards only, it was everywhere said, were regarded by the court of Madrid as the lawful children; the Flemings, as illegitimate.[562] It was necessary to do away this impression to place the Flemings on the same footing with the Spaniards; to give them{215} lucrative appointments, for they greatly needed them, in Spain or in Italy; and it might not be amiss to bestow the viceroyalty of Sicily on the prince of Orange.—Thus, by the same act, the politic minister would both reward his rivals and remove them from the country. But he greatly misunderstood the character of William, if he thought in this way to buy him off from the opposition.

It was four months before the confederates received an answer; during which time affairs continued to wear the same gloomy aspect as before. At length came the long-expected epistle from the monarch, dated on the sixth of June. It was a brief one. Philip thanked the lords for their zeal and devotion to his service. After well considering the matter, however, he had not found any specific ground of complaint alleged, to account for the advice given him to part with his minister. The king hoped before long to visit the Low Countries in person. Meanwhile, he should be glad to see any one of the nobles in Spain, to learn from him the whole state of the affair; as it was not his wont to condemn his ministers without knowing the grounds on which they were accused.[563]

The fact that the lords had not specified any particular subject of complaint against the cardinal gave the king an obvious advantage in the correspondence. It seemed to be too much to expect his immediate dismissal of the minister, on the vague pretext of his unpopularity, without a single instance of misconduct being alleged against him. Yet this was the position in which the enemies of Granvelle necessarily found themselves. The minister acted by the orders of the king. To have assailed the minister's acts, therefore, would have been to attack the king himself. Egmont, some time after this, with even more frankness than usual, is said to have declared at table to a friend of the cardinal, that "the blow was aimed not so much at the minister as at the monarch."[564]

The discontent of the lords at receiving this laconic epistle may be imagined. They were indignant that so little account should be made of their representations, and that both they and the country should be sacrificed to the king's partiality for his minister. The three lords waited on the regent, and extorted from her a reluctant consent to assemble the knights of the order, and to confer with them and the other nobles as to the course to be taken.

It was there decided that the lords should address a second letter, in the name of the whole body, to Philip, and henceforth should cease to attend the council of state.[565]

In this letter, which bears the date of July the twenty-ninth, they express their disappointment that his majesty had not come to a more definite resolution, when prompt and decisive measures could alone save the country from ruin. They excuse themselves from visiting Spain in the critical state of affairs at home. At another time, and for any other purpose, did the king desire it, they would willingly do so. But it was not their design to appear as accusers, and institute a process against the minister. They had hoped their own word in such an affair would have sufficed with his majesty. It{216} was not the question whether the minister was to be condemned, but whether he was to be removed from an office for which he was in no respect qualified.[566] They had hoped their attachment and tried fidelity to the crown would have made it superfluous for them to go into a specification of charges. These, indeed, could be easily made, but the discontent and disorder which now reigned throughout the country were sufficient evidence of the minister's incapacity.[567]

They stated that they had acquainted the regent with their intention to absent themselves in future from the council, where their presence could be no longer useful; and they trusted this would receive his majesty's sanction. They expressed their determination loyally and truly to discharge every trust reposed in them by the government; and they concluded by apologizing for the homely language of their epistle,—for they were no haranguers or orators, but men accustomed to act rather than to talk, as was suited to persons of their quality.[568]—This last shaft was doubtless aimed at the cardinal.—The letter was signed by the same triumvirate as the former. The abstract here given does no justice to the document, which is of considerable length, and carefully written. The language is that of men who to the habitual exercise of authority united a feeling of self-respect, which challenged the respect of their opponents. Such were not the men to be cajoled or easily intimidated. It was the first time that Philip had been addressed in this lofty tone by his great vassals. It should have opened his eyes to the condition and the character of his subjects in the Netherlands.

The coalition drew up, at the same time, an elaborate "remonstrance," which they presented to Margaret. In it they set forth the various disorders of the country, especially those growing out of the state of religion and the embarrassment of the finances. The only remedy for these evils is to be found in a meeting of the states-general. The king's prohibition of this measure must have proceeded, no doubt, from the evil counsels of persons hostile to the true interests of the nation. As their services can be of little use while they are thus debarred from a resort to their true and only remedy in their embarrassments, they trust the regent will not take it amiss, that, so long as the present policy is pursued, they decline to take their seats in the council of state, to be merely shadows there, as they have been for the last four years.[569]


From this period the malecontent lords no more appeared in council. The perplexity of Margaret was great. Thus abandoned by the nobles in whom the country had the greatest confidence, she was left alone, as it were, with the man whom the country held in the greatest abhorrence. She had long seen with alarm the storm gathering round the devoted head of the minister. To attempt alone to uphold his falling fortunes would be probably to bury herself in their ruins. In her extremity, she appealed to the confederates, and, since she could not divide them, endeavored to divert them from their{217} opposition. They, on the other hand, besought the regent no longer to connect herself with the desperate cause of a minister so odious to the country. Possibly they infused into her mind some suspicions of the subordinate part she was made to play, through the overweening ambition of the cardinal. At all events, an obvious change took place in her conduct, and while she deferred less and less to Granvelle, she entered into more friendly relations with his enemies. This was especially the case with Egmont, whose frank and courteous hearing and loyal disposition seem to have won greatly on the esteem of the duchess.

Satisfied, at last, that it would be impracticable to maintain the government much longer on its present basis, Margaret resolved to write to her brother on the subject, and at the same time to send her confidential secretary, Armenteros, to Spain, to acquaint the king with the precise state of affairs in the Netherlands.[570]

After enlarging on the disorders and difficulties of the country, the duchess came to the quarrel between the cardinal and the nobles. She had made every effort to reconcile the parties; but that was impossible. She was fully sensible of the merits of Granvelle, his high capacity, his experience in public affairs, his devotion to the interests both of the king and of religion.[571] But, on the other hand, to maintain him in the Netherlands, in opposition to the will of the nobles, was to expose the country, not merely to great embarrassments, but to the danger of insurrection.[572] The obligations of the high place which she occupied compelled her to lay the true state of the case before the king, and he would determine the course to be pursued.—With this letter, bearing the date of August twelfth, and fortified with ample instructions from the duchess, Armenteros was forthwith despatched on his mission to Spain.

It was not long before the state of feeling in the cabinet of Brussels was known, or at least surmised, throughout the country. It was the interest of some of the parties that it should not be kept secret. The cardinal, thus abandoned by his friends, became a more conspicuous mark for the shafts of his enemies. Libels, satires, pasquinades, were launched against him from every quarter. Such fugitive pieces, like the insect which dies when it has left its sting, usually perish with the occasion that gives them birth. But some have survived to the present day, or at least were in existence at the close of the last century, and are much commended by a critic for the merits of their literary execution.[573]

It was the custom, at the period of our narrative, for the young people to meet in the towns and villages, and celebrate what were called "academic games," consisting of rhetorical discussions on the various topics of the day, sometimes of a theological or a political character. Public affairs furnished a fruitful theme at this crisis; and the cardinal, in particular, was often roughly handled. It was in vain the government tried to curb this licence. It only served to stimulate the disputants to new displays of raillery and ridicule.[574]{218}

Granvelle, it will be readily believed, was not slow to perceive his loss of credit with the regent, and the more intimate relations into which she had entered with his enemies. But whatever he may have felt, he was too proud or too politic to betray his mortification to the duchess. Thus discredited by all but an insignificant party, who were branded as the "Cardinalists," losing influence daily with the regent, at open war with the nobles, and hated by the people, never was there a minister in so forlorn a situation, or one who was able to maintain his post a day in such circumstances. Yet Granvelle did not lose heart; as others failed him, he relied the more on himself; and the courage which he displayed, when thus left alone, as it were, to face the anger of the nation, might have well commanded the respect of his enemies. He made no mean concession to secure the support of the nobles, or to recover the favor of the regent. He did not shrink from the dangers or the responsibilities of his station; though the latter, at least, bore heavily on him. Speaking of the incessant pressure of his cares, he writes to his correspondent, Perez, "My hairs have turned so white you would not recognize me."[575] He was then but forty-six. On one occasion, indeed, we do find him telling the king, that, "if his majesty does not soon come to the Netherlands, he must withdraw from them."[576] This seems to have been a sudden burst of feeling, as it was a solitary one, forced from him by the extremity of his situation. It was much more in character that he wrote afterwards to the secretary, Perez: "I am so beset with dangers on every side, that most people give me up for lost. But I mean to live as long, by the grace of God, as I can; and if they do take away my life, I trust they will not gain everything for all that."[577] He nowhere intimates a wish to be recalled. Nor would his ambition allow him to resign the helm; but the fiercer the tempest raged, the more closely did he cling to the wreck of his fortunes.

The arrival of Armenteros with the despatches, and the tidings that he brought, caused a great sensation in the court of Madrid. "We are on the eve of a terrible conflagration," writes one of the secretaries of Philip; "and they greatly err who think it will pass away as formerly." He expresses the wish that Granvelle would retire from the country, where, he predicts, they would soon wish his return. "But ambition," he adds, "and the point of honor are alike opposed to this. Nor does the king desire it."[578]

Yet it was not easy to say what the king did desire,—certainly not what course he would pursue. He felt a natural reluctance to abandon the minister, whose greatest error seemed to be that of too implicit an obedience to his master's commands. He declared he would rather risk the loss of the Netherlands than abandon him.[579] Yet how was that minister to be maintained in his place, in opposition to the will of the nation? In this perplexity, Philip applied for counsel to the man in whom he most confided,—the{219} duke of Alva; the very worst counsellor possible in the present emergency.


The duke's answer was eminently characteristic of the man. "When I read the letters of these lords," he says, "I am so filled with rage, that, did I not make an effort to suppress it, my language would appear to you that of a madman."[580] After this temperate exordium, he recommends the king on no account to remove Granvelle from the administration of the Netherlands. "It is a thing of course," he says, "that the cardinal should be the first victim. A rebellion against the prince naturally begins with an attack on his ministers. It would be better," he continues, "if all could be brought at once to summary justice. Since that cannot be, it may be best to divide the nobles; to win over Egmont and those who follow him by favors; to show displeasure to those who are the least offenders. For the greater ones, who deserve to lose their heads, your majesty will do well to dissemble, until you can give them their deserts."[581]

Part of this advice the king accepted; for to dissemble did no violence to his nature. But the more he reflected on the matter, the more he was satisfied that it would be impossible to retain the obnoxious minister in his place. Yet when he had come to this decision, he still shrunk from announcing it. Months passed, and yet Armenteros, who was to carry back the royal despatches, was still detained at Madrid. It seemed as if Philip here, as on other occasions of less moment, was prepared to leave events to take their own course, rather than direct them himself.

Early in January, 1564, the duchess of Parma admonished her brother that the lords chafed much under his long silence. It was a common opinion, she said, that he cared little for Flanders, and that he was under the influence of evil counsellors, who would persuade him to deal with the country as a conquered province. She besought him to answer the letter of the nobles, and especially to write in affectionate terms to Count Egmont, who well deserved this for the zeal he had always shown for his sovereign's interests.[582]

One is struck with the tone in which the regent here speaks of one of the leaders of the opposition, so little in unison with her former language. It shows how completely she was now under their influence. In truth, however, we see constantly, both in her letters and those of the cardinal, a more friendly tone of feeling towards Egmont than to either of his associates. On the score of orthodoxy in matters of religion he was unimpeachable. His cordial manners, his free and genial temper, secured the sympathy of all with whom he came in contact. It was a common opinion, that it would not be difficult to detach him from the party of malecontents with whom his lot was cast. Such were not the notions entertained of the prince of Orange.

In a letter from Granvelle to Philip, without a date, but written perhaps about this period,[583] we have portraits, or rather outlines, of the two great{220} leaders of the opposition, touched with a masterly hand. Egmont he describes as firm in his faith, loyally disposed, but under the evil influence of William. It would not be difficult to win him over by flattery and favors.[584] The prince, on the other hand, is a cunning and dangerous enemy, of profound views, boundless ambition, difficult to change, and impossible to control.[585] In the latter character we see the true leader of the revolution.

Disgusted with the indifference of the king, shown in his long-protracted silence, the nobles, notwithstanding the regent's remonstrances, sent orders to their courier, who had been waiting in Madrid for the royal despatches, to wait no longer, but return without them to the Netherlands.[586] Fortunately Philip now moved, and at the close of January, 1564, sent back Armenteros with his instructions to Brussels. The most important of them was a letter of dismissal to the cardinal himself. It was very short. "On considering what you write," said the king, "I deem it best that you should leave the Low Countries for some days, and go to Burgundy to see your mother, with the consent of the duchess of Parma. In this way, both my authority and your own reputation will be preserved."[587]

It has been a matter of dispute how far the resignation of the cardinal was voluntary. The recent discovery of this letter of Philip determines that question.[588] It was by command of the sovereign. Yet that command was extorted by necessity, and so given as best to save the feelings and the credit of the minister. Neither party anticipated that Granvelle's absence would continue for a long time, much less that his dismissal was final. Even when inditing the letter to the cardinal, Philip cherished the hope that the necessity for his departure might be avoided altogether. This appears from the despatches sent at the same time to the regent.


Shortly after his note to Granvelle, on the nineteenth of February, Philip{221} wrote an answer to the lords in all the tone of offended majesty. He expressed his astonishment that they should have been led, by any motive whatever, to vacate their seats at the council, where he had placed them.[589] They would not fail to return there at once, and show that they preferred the public weal to all private considerations.[590] As for the removal of the minister, since they had not been pleased to specify any charges against him, the king would deliberate further before deciding on the matter. Thus, three weeks after Philip had given the cardinal his dismissal, did he write to his enemies as if the matter were still in abeyance; hoping, it would seem, by the haughty tone of authority, to rebuke the spirit of the refractory nobles, and intimidate them into a compliance with his commands. Should this policy succeed, the cardinal might still hold the helm of government.[591]

But Philip had not yet learned that he was dealing with men who had little of that spirit of subserviency to which he was accustomed in his Castilian vassals. The peremptory tone of his letter fired the blood of the Flemish lords, who at once waited on the regent, and announced their purpose not to reënter the council. The affair was not likely to end here; and Margaret saw with alarm the commotion that would be raised when the letter of the king should be laid before the whole body of the nobles.[592] Fearing some rash step, difficult to be retrieved, she resolved either that the cardinal should announce his intended departure, or that she would do so for him. Philip's experiment had failed. Nothing, therefore, remained but for the minister publicly to declare, that, as his brother, the late envoy to France, had returned to Brussels, he had obtained permission from the regent to accompany him on a visit to their aged mother, whom Granvelle had not seen for fourteen years.[593]{222}

The news of the minister's resignation and speedy departure spread like wildfire over the country. The joy was universal; and the wits of the time redoubled their activity, assailing the fallen minister with libels, lampoons, and caricatures, without end. One of these caricatures, thrust into his own hand under the pretence of its being a petition, represented him as hatching a brood of young bishops, who were crawling out of their shells. Hovering above might be seen the figure of the Devil; while these words were profanely made to issue from his month: "This is my son; hear ye him!"[594]

It was at this time that, at a banquet at which many of the Flemish nobles were present, the talk fell on the expensive habits of the aristocracy, especially as shown in the number and dress of their domestics. It was the custom for them to wear showy and very costly liveries, intimating by the colors the family to which they belonged. Granvelle had set an example of this kind of ostentation. It was proposed to regulate their apparel by a more modest and uniform standard. The lot fell on Egmont to devise some suitable livery, of the simple kind used by the Germans. He proposed a dark-gray habit, which, instead of the aiguillettes commonly suspended from the shoulders, should have flat pieces of cloth, embroidered with the figure of a head and a fool's cap. The head was made marvellously like that of the cardinal, and the cap, being red, was thought to bear much resemblance to a cardinal's hat. This was enough. The dress was received with acclamation. The nobles instantly clad their retainers in the new livery, which had the advantage of greater economy. It became the badge of party. The tailors of Brussels could not find time to supply their customers. Instead of being confined to Granvelle, the heads occasionally bore the features of Arschot, Aremberg, or Viglius, the cardinal's friends. The duchess at first laughed at the jest, and even sent some specimens of the embroidery to Philip. But Granvelle looked more gravely on the matter, declaring it an insult to the government, and the king interfered to have the device given up. This was not easy, from the extent to which it had been adopted. But Margaret at length succeeded in persuading the lords to take another, not personal in its nature. The substitute was a sheaf of arrows. Even this was found to have an offensive application, as it intimated the league of the nobles. It was the origin, it is said, of the device afterwards assumed by the Seven United Provinces.[595]


On the thirteenth of March, 1564, Granvelle quitted Brussels,—never to return.[596] "The joy of the nobles at his departure," writes one of the privy{223} council, "was excessive. They seemed like boys let loose from school."[597] The three lords, members of the council of state, in a note to the duchess, declared that they were ready to resume their places at the board; with the understanding, however, that they should retire whenever the minister returned.[598] Granvelle had given out that his absence would be of no long duration. The regent wrote to her brother in warm commendation of the lords. It would not do for Granvelle ever to return. She was assured by the nobles, if he did return, he would risk the loss of his life, and the king the loss of the Netherlands.[599]

The three lords wrote each to Philip, informing him that they had reëntered the council, and making the most earnest protestations of loyalty. Philip, on his part, graciously replied to each, and in particular to the prince of Orange, who had intimated that slanderous reports respecting himself had found their way to the royal ear. The king declared "he never could doubt for a moment that William would continue to show the same zeal in his service that he had always done; and that no one should be allowed to cast a reproach on a person of his quality, and one whom Philip knew so thoroughly."[600] It might almost seem that a double meaning lurked under this smooth language. But whatever may have been felt, no distrust was exhibited on either side. To those who looked on the surface only,—and they were a hundred to one,—it seemed as if the dismissal of the cardinal had removed all difficulties; and they now confidently relied on a state of permanent tranquillity. But there were others whose eyes looked deeper than the calm sunshine that lay upon the surface; who saw, more distinctly than when the waters were ruffled by the tempest, the rocks beneath, on which the vessel of state was afterward to be wrecked.

The cardinal, on leaving the Low Countries, retired to his patrimonial estate at Besançon,—embellished with all that wealth and a cultivated taste could supply. In this pleasant retreat the discomfited statesman found a solace in those pursuits which in earlier, perhaps happier, days had engaged his attention.[601] He had particularly a turn for the physical sciences. But he was fond of letters, and in all his tastes showed the fruits of a liberal culture. He surrounded himself with scholars and artists, and took a lively{224} interest in their pursuits. Justus Lipsius, afterwards so celebrated, was his secretary. He gave encouragement to Plantin, who rivalled in Flanders the fame of the Aldi in Venice. His generous patronage was readily extended to genius, in whatever form it was displayed. It is some proof how widely extended, that, in the course of his life, he is said to have received more than a hundred dedications. Though greedy of wealth, it was not to hoard it, and his large revenues were liberally dispensed in the foundation of museums, colleges, and public libraries. Besançon, the place of his residence, did not profit least by this munificence.[602]

Such is the portrait which historians have given to us of the minister in his retirement. His own letters show that, with these sources of enjoyment, he did not altogether disdain others of a less spiritual character. A letter to one of the regent's secretaries, written soon after the cardinal's arrival at Besançon, concludes in the following manner: "I know that God will recompense men according to their deserts. I have confidence that he will aid me; and that I shall yet be able to draw profit from what my enemies designed for my ruin. This is my philosophy, with which I endeavor to live as joyously as I can, laughing at the world, its calumnies and its passions."[603]

With all this happy mixture of the Epicurean and the Stoic, the philosophic statesman did not so contentedly submit to his fate as to forego the hope of seeing himself soon reinstated in authority in the Netherlands. "In the course of two months," he writes, "you may expect to see me there."[604] He kept up an active correspondence with the friends whom he had left in Brussels, and furnished the results of the information thus obtained, with his own commentaries, to the court at Madrid. His counsel was courted, and greatly considered, by Philip; so that from the shades of his retirement the banished minister was still thought to exercise an important influence on the destiny of Flanders.

A singular history is attached to the papers of Granvelle. That minister resembled his master, Philip the Second, in the fertility of his epistolary vein. That the king had a passion for writing, notwithstanding he could throw the burden of the correspondence, when it suited him, on the other party, is proved by the quantity of letters he left behind him. The example of the monarch seems to have had its influence on his courtiers; and no reign of that time is illustrated by a greater amount of written materials from the hands of the principal actors in it. Far from a poverty of materials, therefore, the historian has much more reason to complain of an embarras de richesses.


Granvelle filled the highest posts in different parts of the Spanish empire; and in each of these—in the Netherlands, where he was minister, in Naples, where he was viceroy, in Spain, where he took the lead in the cabinet, and in Besançon, whither he retired from public life—he left ample memorials under his own hand of his residence there. This was particularly the case with Besançon, his native town, and the favorite residence to which he turned, as he tells us, from the turmoil of office to enjoy the sweets of privacy,—yet not, in truth, so sweet to him as the stormy career of the statesman, to judge from the tenacity with which he clung to office.{225}

The cardinal made his library at Besançon the depository, not merely of his own letters, but of such as were addressed to him. He preserved them all, however humble the sources whence they came, and, like Philip, he was in the habit of jotting down his own reflections in the margin. As Granvelle's personal and political relations connected him with the most important men of his time, we may well believe that the mass of correspondence which he gathered together was immense. Unfortunately, at his death, instead of bequeathing his manuscripts to some public body, who might have been responsible for the care of them, he left them to heirs who were altogether ignorant of their value. In the course of time the manuscripts found their way to the garret, where they soon came to be regarded as little better than waste paper. They were pilfered by the children and domestics, and a considerable quantity was sent off to a neighboring grocer, who soon converted the correspondence of the great statesman into wrapping-paper for his spices.

From this ignominious fate the residue of the collection was happily rescued by the generous exertions of the Abbé Boissot. This excellent and learned man was the head of the Benedictines of St. Vincent in Besançon, of which town he was himself a native. He was acquainted with the condition of the Granvelle papers, and comprehended their importance. In the course of eighty years, which had elapsed since the cardinal's death, his manuscripts had come to be distributed among several heirs, some of whom consented to transfer their property gratuitously to the Abbé Boissot, while he purchased that of others. In this way he at length succeeded in gathering together all that survived of the large collection; and he made it the great business of his subsequent life to study its contents and arrange the chaotic mass of papers with reference to their subjects. To complete his labors, he caused the manuscripts thus arranged to be bound, in eighty-two volumes, folio, thus placing them in that permanent form which might best secure them against future accident.

The abbé did not live to publish to the world an account of his collection, which at his death passed by his will to his brethren of the abbey of St. Vincent, on condition that it should be for ever open for the use of the town of Besançon. It may seem strange that, notwithstanding the existence of this valuable body of original documents was known to scholars, they should so rarely have resorted to it for instruction. Its secluded situation, in the heart of a remote province, was doubtless regarded as a serious obstacle by the historical inquirer, in an age when the public took things too readily on trust to be very solicitous about authentic sources of information. It is more strange that Boissot's Benedictine brethren should have shown themselves so insensible to the treasures under their own roof. One of their body, Dom Prosper l'Evesque, did indeed profit by the Boissot collection to give to the world his Mémoires de Granvelle, a work in two volumes, duodecimo, which, notwithstanding the materials at the writer's command, contain little of any worth, unless it be an occasional extract from Granvelle's own correspondence.

At length, in 1834, the subject drew the attention of M. Guizot, then Minister of Public Instruction in France. By his direction a commission of five scholars was instituted, with the learned Weiss at its head, for the purpose of examining the Granvelle papers, with a view to their immediate publication. The work was performed in a prompt and accurate manner, that must have satisfied its enlightened projector. In 1839 the whole series of papers had been subjected to a careful analysis, and the portion selected that was deemed proper for publication. The first volume appeared in 1841; and the president of the commission, M. Weiss, expressed in his preface the confident hope that in the course of 1843 the remaining papers would all be given to the press. But these anticipations have not been realized. In 1854 only nine volumes had appeared. How far the publication has since advanced I am ignorant.

The Papiers d'Etat, besides Granvelle's own letters, contain a large amount of historical materials, such as official documents, state papers, and diplomatic correspondence{226} of foreign ministers,—that of Renard, for example, so often quoted in these pages. There are, besides, numerous letters both of Philip and of Charles the Fifth, for the earlier volumes embrace the times of the emperor.—The minister's own correspondence is not the least valuable part of the collection. Granvelle stood so high in the confidence of his sovereign, that, when not intrusted himself with the conduct of affairs, ha was constantly consulted by the king as to the best mode of conducting them. With a different fate from that of most ministers, he retained his influence when he had lost his place. Thus there were few transactions of any moment in which he was not called on directly or indirectly to take part. And his letters furnish a clew for conducting the historical student through more than one intricate negotiation, by revealing the true motives of the parties who were engaged in it.

Granvelle was in such intimate relations with the most eminent persons of the time, that his correspondence becomes in some sort the mirror of the age, reflecting the state of opinion on the leading topics of the day. For the same reason it is replete with matters of personal as well as political interest; while the range of its application, far from being confined to Spain, embraces most of the states of Europe with which Spain held intercourse. The French government has done good service by the publication of a work which contains so much for the illustration of the history of the sixteenth century. M. Weiss, the editor, has conducted his labors on the true principles by which an editor should be guided; and, far from magnifying his office, and unseasonably obtruding himself on the reader's attention, he has sought only to explain what is obscure in the text, and to give such occasional notices of the writers as may enable the reader to understand their correspondence.



Policy of Philip.—Ascendancy of the Nobles.—The Regent's Embarrassments.—Egmont sent to Spain.

1564, 1565.

We have now arrived at an epoch in the history of the revolution, when, the spirit of the nation having been fully roused, the king had been compelled to withdraw his unpopular minister, and to intrust the reins of government to the hands of the nobles. Before proceeding further, it will be well to take a brief survey of the ground, that we may the better comprehend the relations in which the parties stood to each other at the commencement of the contest.


In a letter to his sister, the regent, written some two years after this period, Philip says: "I have never had any other object in view than the good of my subjects. In all that I have done, I have but trod in the footsteps of my father, under whom the people of the Netherlands must admit they lived contented and happy. As to the Inquisition, whatever people may say of it, I have never attempted anything new. With regard to the edicts, I have been always resolved to live and die in the Catholic faith. I could not be content to have my subjects do otherwise. Yet I see not how this can be compassed without punishing the transgressors. God knows how willingly I would avoid shedding a drop of Christian blood,—above all, that of my people{227} in the Netherlands; and I should esteem it one of the happiest circumstances of my reign to be spared this necessity."[605]

Whatever we may think of the sensibility of Philip, or of his tenderness for his Flemish subjects in particular, we cannot deny that the policy he had hitherto pursued was substantially that of his father. Yet his father lived beloved, and died lamented, by the Flemings; while Philip's course, from the very first, had encountered only odium and opposition. A little reflection will show us the reasons of these different results.

Both Charles and Philip came forward as the great champions of Catholicism. But the emperor's zeal was so far tempered by reason, that it could accommodate itself to circumstances. He showed this on more than one occasion, both in Germany and in Flanders. Philip, on the other hand, admitted of no compromise. He was the inexorable foe of heresy. Persecution was his only remedy, and the Inquisition the weapon on which he relied. His first act on setting foot on his native shore was to assist at an auto da fé. This proclaimed his purpose to the world, and associated his name indelibly with that of the terrible tribunal.

The free people of the Netherlands felt the same dread of the Inquisition that a free and enlightened people of our own day might be supposed to feel. They looked with gloomy apprehension to the unspeakable misery it was to bring to their firesides, and the desolation and ruin to their country. Everything that could in any way be connected with it took the dismal coloring of their fears. The edicts of Charles the Fifth, written in blood, became yet more formidable, as declaring the penalties to be inflicted by this tribunal. Even the erection of the bishoprics, so necessary a measure, was regarded with distrust on account of the inquisitorial powers which of old were vested in the bishops, thus seeming to give additional strength to the arm of persecution. The popular feeling was nourished by every new convert to the Protestant faith, as well as by those who, from views of their own, were willing to fan the flame of rebellion.

Another reason why Philip's policy met with greater opposition than that of his predecessor was the change in the condition of the people themselves. Under the general relaxation of the law, or rather of its execution, in the latter days of Charles the Fifth, the number of the Reformers had greatly multiplied. Calvinism predominated in Luxemburg, Artois, Flanders, and the states lying nearest to France. Holland, Zealand, and the North, were the chosen abode of the Anabaptists. The Lutherans swarmed in the districts bordering on Germany; while Antwerp, the commercial capital of Brabant, and the great mart of all nations, was filled with sectaries of every description. Even the Jew, the butt of persecution in the Middle Ages, is said to have lived there unmolested. For such a state of things, it is clear that very different legislation was demanded than for that which existed under Charles the Fifth. It was one thing to eradicate a few noxious weeds, and quite another to crush the sturdy growth of heresy, which in every direction now covered the land.

A further reason for the aversion to Philip, and one that cannot be too often repeated, was that he was a foreigner. Charles was a native Fleming; and much may be forgiven in a countryman. But Philip was a Spaniard,—one of a nation held in greatest aversion by the men of the Netherlands. It should clearly have been his policy, therefore, to cover up this defect in the eyes of the inhabitants by consulting their national prejudices, and by a show, at least, of confidence in their leaders. Far from this, Philip began with placing a Spanish army on their borders in time of peace. The administration{228} he committed to the hands of a foreigner. And while he thus outraged the national feeling at home, it was remarked that into the royal council at Madrid, where the affairs of the Low Countries, as of the other provinces, were settled in the last resort, not a Fleming was admitted.[606] The public murmured. The nobles remonstrated and resisted. Philip was obliged to retrace his steps. He made first one concession, then another. He recalled his troops, removed his minister. The nobles triumphed, and the administration of the country passed into their hands. People thought the troubles were at an end. They were but begun. Nothing had been done towards the solution of the great problem of the rights of conscience. On this the king and the country were at issue as much as ever. All that had been done had only cleared the way to the free discussion of this question, and to the bloody contest that was to follow.

On the departure of Granvelle, the discontented lords, as we have seen, again took their seats in the council of state. They gave the most earnest assurances of loyalty to the king, and seemed as if desirous to make amends for the past by an extraordinary devotion to public business. Margaret received these advances in the spirit in which they were made; and the confidence which she had formerly bestowed on Granvelle, she now transferred in full measure to his successful rivals.[607]

It is amusing to read her letters at this period, and to compare them with those which she wrote to Philip the year preceding. In the new coloring given to the portraits it is hard to recognize a single individual. She cannot speak too highly of the services of the lords,—of the prince of Orange, and Egmont above all,—of their devotion to the public weal and the interests of the sovereign. She begs her brother again and again to testify his own satisfaction by the most gracious letters to those nobles that he can write.[608] The suggestion seems to have met with little favor from Philip. No language, however, is quite strong enough to express Margaret's disgust with the character and conduct of her former minister, Granvelle. It is he that has so long stood betwixt the monarch and the love of the people. She cannot feel easy that he should still remain so near the Netherlands. He should be sent to Rome.[609] She distrusts his influence, even now, over the cabinet at Madrid. He is perpetually talking, she understands, of the probability of his speedy return to Brussels. The rumor of this causes great uneasiness in the country. Should he be permitted to return, it would undoubtedly be the signal for an insurrection.[610]—It is clear the duchess had sorely suffered from the tyranny of Granvelle.[611]{229}


But notwithstanding the perfect harmony which subsisted between Margaret and the principal lords, it was soon seen that the wheels of government were not destined to run on too smoothly. Although the cardinal was gone, there still remained a faction of Cardinalists, who represented his opinions, and who, if few in number, made themselves formidable by the strength of their opposition. At the head of these were the viscount de Barlaimont and the President Viglius.

The former, head of the council of finance, was a Flemish noble of the first class,—yet more remarkable for his character than for his rank. He was a man of unimpeachable integrity, stanch in his loyalty both to the Church and to the crown, with a resolute spirit not to be shaken, for it rested on principle.

His coadjutor, Viglius, was an eminent jurist, an able writer, a sagacious statesman. He had been much employed by the emperor in public affairs, which he managed with a degree of caution that amounted almost to timidity. He was the personal friend of Granvelle, had adopted his views, and carried on with him a constant correspondence, which is among our best sources of information. He was frugal and moderate in his habits, not provoking criticism, like that minister, by his ostentation and irregularities of life. But he was nearly as formidable, from the official powers with which he was clothed, and the dogged tenacity with which he clung to his purposes. He filled the high office of president both of the privy council and of the council of state, and was also keeper of the great seal. It was thus obviously in his power to oppose a great check to the proceedings of the opposite party. That he did thus often thwart them is attested by the reiterated complaints of the duchess. "The president," she tells her brother, "makes me endure the pains of hell by the manner in which he traverses my measures."[612] His real object, like that of Granvelle and of their followers, she says on another occasion, is to throw the country into disorder. They would find their account in fishing in the troubled waters. They dread a state of tranquillity, which would afford opportunity for exposing their corrupt practices in the government.[613]

To these general charges of delinquency the duchess added others, of a more vulgar peculation. Viglius, who had taken priest's orders for the purpose, was provost of the church of St. Bavon. Margaret openly accused him of purloining the costly tapestries, the plate, the linen, the jewels, and even considerable sums of money belonging to the church.[614] She insisted on the impropriety of allowing such a man to hold office under the government.

Nor was the president silent on his part, and in his correspondence with Granvelle he retorts similar accusations in full measure on his enemies. He roundly taxes the great nobles with simony and extortion. Offices, both ecclesiastical and secular, were put up for sale in a shameless manner, and disposed of to the highest bidder. It was in this way that the bankrupt nobles paid their debts, by bestowing vacant places on their creditors. Nor are the regent's hands, he intimates, altogether clean from the stain of these transactions.[615] He accuses the lords, moreover, of using their authority to{230} interfere perpetually with the course of justice. They had acquired an unbounded ascendancy over Margaret, and treated her with a deference which, he adds, "is ever sure to captivate the sex."[616] She was more especially under the influence of her secretary, Armenteros, a creature of the nobles, who profited by his position to fill his own coffers at the expense of the exchequer.[617] For himself, he is in such disgrace for his resistance to these disloyal proceedings, that the duchess excludes him as far as possible from the management of affairs, and treats him with undisguised coldness. Nothing but the desire to do his duty would induce him to remain a day longer in a post like this, from which his only wish is that his sovereign would release him.[618]

The president seems never to have written directly to Philip. It would only expose him, he said, to the suspicions and the cavils of his enemies. The wary statesman took warning by the fate of Granvelle. But as his letters to the banished minister were all forwarded to Philip, the monarch, with the despatches of his sister before him, had the means of contemplating both sides of the picture, and of seeing that, to whichever party he intrusted the government, the interests of the country were little likely to be served. Had it been his father, the emperor, who was on the throne, such knowledge would not have been in his possession four and twenty hours, before he would have been on his way to the Netherlands. But Philip was of a more sluggish temper. He was capable, indeed, of much passive exertion,—of incredible toil in the cabinet,—and from his palace, as was said, would have given law to Christendom. But rather than encounter the difficulties of a voyage, he was willing, it appears, to risk the loss of the finest of his provinces.[619]


Yet he wrote to his sister to encourage her with the prospect of his visiting the country as soon as he could be released from a war in which he was{231} engaged with the Turks. He invited her, at the same time, to send him further particulars of the misconduct of Viglius, and expressed the hope that some means might be found of silencing his opposition.[620]

It is not easy at this day to strike the balance between the hostile parties, so as to decide on the justice of these mutual accusations, and to assign to each the proper share of responsibility for the mismanagement of the government. That it was mismanaged is certain. That offices were put up for sale is undeniable; for the duchess frankly discusses the expediency of it, in a letter to her brother. This, at least, absolves the act from the imputation of secrecy. The conflict of the council of state with the two other councils often led to disorders, since the decrees passed by the privy council, which had cognizance of matters of justice, were frequently frustrated by the amnesties and pardons granted by the council of state. To remedy this, the nobles contended that it was necessary to subject the decrees of the other councils to the revision of the council of state, and, in a word, to concentrate in this last body the whole authority of government.[621] The council of state, composed chiefly of the great aristocracy, looked down with contempt on those subordinate councils, made up for the most part of men of humbler condition, pledged by their elevation to office to maintain the interests of the crown. They would have placed the administration of the country in the hands of an oligarchy, made up of the great Flemish nobles. This would be to break up that system of distribution into separate departments established by Charles the Fifth for the more perfect despatch of business. It would, in short, be such a change in the constitution of the country as would of itself amount to a revolution.

In the state of things above described, the Reformation gained rapidly in the country. The nobles generally, as has been already intimated, were loyal to the Roman Catholic Church. Many of the younger nobility, however, who had been educated at Geneva, returned tinctured with heretical doctrines from the school of Calvin.[622] But whether Catholic or Protestant, the Flemish aristocracy looked with distrust on the system of persecution, and held the Inquisition in the same abhorrence as did the great body of the people. It was fortunate for the Reformation in the Netherlands, that at its outset it received the support even of the Catholics, who resisted the Inquisition as an outrage on their political liberties.

Under the lax administration of the edicts, exiles who had fled abroad from persecution now returned to Flanders. Calvinist ministers and refugees from France crossed the borders, and busied themselves with the work of proselytism. Seditious pamphlets were circulated, calling on the regent to confiscate the ecclesiastical revenues, and apply them to the use of the state, as had been done in England.[623] The Inquisition became an object of contempt,{232} almost as much as of hatred. Two of the principal functionaries wrote to Philip, that, without further support, they could be of no use in a situation which exposed them only to derision and danger.[624] At Bruges and at Brussels the mob entered the prisons, and released the prisoners. A more flagrant violation of justice occurred at Antwerp. A converted friar, named Fabricius, who had been active in preaching and propagating the new doctrines, was tried and sentenced to the stake. On the way to execution, the people called out to him, from the balconies and the doorways, to "take courage, and endure manfully to the last."[625] When the victim was bound to the stake, and the pile was kindled, the mob discharged such a volley of stones at the officers as speedily put them to flight. But the unhappy man, though unscathed by the fire, was stabbed to the heart by the executioner, who made his escape in the tumult. The next morning, placards written in blood were found affixed to the public buildings, threatening vengeance on all who had any part in the execution of Fabricius; and one of the witnesses against him, a woman, hardly escaped with life from the hands of the populace.[626]

The report of these proceedings caused a great sensation at Madrid; and Philip earnestly called on his sister to hunt out and pursue the offenders. This was not easy, where most, even of those who did not join in the act, fully shared in the feeling which led to it. Yet Philip continued to urge the necessity of enforcing the laws for the preservation of the Faith, as the thing dearest to his heart. He would sometimes indicate in his letters the name of a suspicious individual, his usual dress, his habits, and appearance,—descending into details which may well surprise us, considering the multitude of affairs of a weightier character that pressed upon his mind.[627] One cannot doubt that Philip was at heart an inquisitor.

Yet the fires of persecution were not permitted wholly to slumber. The historian of the Reformation enumerates seventeen who suffered capitally for their religious opinions in the course of the year 1564.[628] This, though pitiable, was a small number—if indeed it be the whole number—compared with the thousands who are said to have perished in the same space of time in the preceding reign. It was too small to produce any effect as a persecution, while the sight of the martyr, singing hymns in the midst of the flames, only kindled a livelier zeal in the spectators, and a deeper hatred for their oppressors.


The finances naturally felt the effects of the general disorder of the country. The public debt, already large, as we have seen, was now so much increased, that the yearly deficiency in the revenue, according to the regent's own statement, amounted to six hundred thousand florins;[629] and she knew of no way of extricating the country from its embarrassments, unless the king should come to its assistance. The convocation of the states-general was insisted on as the only remedy for these disorders. That body alone, it was contended, was authorized to vote the requisite subsidies, and to redress the manifold grievances of the nation.—Yet, in point of fact, its powers had hitherto been little more than to propose the subsidies for the approbation of the several{233} provinces, and to remonstrate on the grievances of the nation. To invest the states-general with the power of redressing these grievances would bestow on them legislative functions which they had rarely, if ever, exercised. This would be to change the constitution of the country, by the new weight it would give to the popular element; a change which the great lords, who had already the lesser nobles entirely at their disposal,[630] would probably know well how to turn to account.[631] Yet Margaret had now so entirely resigned herself to their influence, that, notwithstanding the obvious consequences of these measures, she recommended to Philip both to assemble the states-general and to remodel the council of state;[632]—and this to a monarch more jealous of his authority than any other prince in Europe!

To add to the existing troubles, orders were received from the court of Madrid to publish the decrees of the Council of Trent throughout the Netherlands. That celebrated council had terminated its long session in 1563, with the results that might have been expected,—those of widening the breach between Protestant and Catholic, and of enlarging, or at least more firmly establishing, the authority of the pope. One good result may be mentioned, that of providing for a more strict supervision of the morals and discipline of the clergy;—a circumstance which caused the decrees to be in extremely bad odor with that body.

It was hoped that Philip would imitate the example of France, and reject decrees which thus exalted the power of the pope. Men were led to expect this the more, from the mortification which the king had lately experienced from a decision of the pontiff on a question of precedence between the Castilian and French ambassadors at his court. This delicate matter, long pending, had been finally determined in favor of France by Pius the Fifth, who may have thought it more politic to secure a fickle ally than to reward a firm one. The decision touched Philip to the quick. He at once withdrew his ambassador from Rome, and refused to receive an envoy from his holiness.[633] It seemed that a serious rupture was likely to take place between the parties. But it was not in the nature of Philip to be long at feud with the court of Rome. In a letter to the duchess of Parma, dated August 6, 1564, he plainly intimated that in matters of faith he was willing at all times to sacrifice his private feelings to the public weal.[634] He subsequently commanded the decrees of the Council of Trent to be received as law throughout his dominions, saying that he could make no exception for the Netherlands, when he made none for Spain.[635]{234}

The promulgation of the decrees was received, as had been anticipated, with general discontent. The clergy complained of the interference with their immunities. The men of Brabant stood stoutly on the chartered rights secured to them by the "Joyeuse Entrée". And the people generally resisted the decrees, from a vague idea of their connection with the Inquisition; while, as usual when mischief was on foot, they loudly declaimed against Granvelle as being at the bottom of it.

In this unhappy condition of affairs, it was determined by the council of state to send some one to Madrid to lay the grievances of the nation before the king, and to submit to him what in their opinion would be the most effectual remedy. They were the more induced to this by the unsatisfactory nature of the royal correspondence. Philip, to the great discontent of the lords, had scarcely condescended to notice their letters.[636] Even to Margaret's ample communications he rarely responded, and when he did, it was in vague and general terms, conveying little more than the necessity of executing justice and watching over the purity of the Faith.

The person selected for the unenviable mission to Madrid was Egmont, whose sentiments of loyalty, and of devotion to the Catholic faith, it was thought, would recommend him to the king; while his brilliant reputation, his rank, and his popular manners would find favor with the court and the people. Egmont himself was the less averse to the mission, that he had some private suits of his own to urge with the monarch.

This nomination was warmly supported by William, between whom and the count a perfectly good understanding seems to have subsisted, in spite of the efforts of the Cardinalists to revive their ancient feelings of jealousy. Yet these feelings still glowed in the bosoms of the wives of the two nobles, as was evident from the warmth with which they disputed the question of precedence with each other. Both were of the highest rank, and, as there was no umpire to settle the delicate question, it was finally arranged by the two ladies appearing in public always arm in arm,—an equality which the haughty dames were careful to maintain, in spite of the ridiculous embarrassments to which they were occasionally exposed by narrow passages and doorways.[637] If the question of precedence had related to character, it would have been easily settled. The troubles from the misconduct of Anne of Saxony bore as heavily on the prince, her husband, at this very time, as the troubles of the state.[638]{235}


Before Egmont's departure, a meeting of the council of state was called, to furnish him with the proper instructions. The president, Viglius, gave it as his opinion, that the mission was superfluous; and that the great nobles had only to reform their own way of living to bring about the necessary reforms in the country. Egmont was instructed by the regent to represent to the king the deplorable condition of the land, the prostration of public credit, the decay of religion, and the symptoms of discontent and disloyalty in the people. As the most effectual remedy for these evils, he was to urge the king to come in person, and that speedily, to Flanders. "If his majesty does not approve of this," said Margaret, "impress upon him the necessity of making further remittances, and of giving me precise instructions as to the course I am to pursue."[639]

The prince of Orange took part in the discussion with a warmth he had rarely shown. It was time, he said, that the king should be disabused of the errors under which he labored with respect to the Netherlands. The edicts must be mitigated. It was not possible, in the present state of feeling, either to execute the edicts or to maintain the Inquisition.[640] The Council of Trent was almost equally odious; nor could they enforce its decrees in the Netherlands while the countries on the borders rejected them. The people would no longer endure the perversion of justice, and the miserable wrangling of the councils.—This last blow was aimed at the president.—The only remedy was to enlarge the council of state, and to strengthen its authority. For his own part, he concluded, he could not understand how any prince could claim the right of interfering with the consciences of his subjects in matters of religion.[641]—The impassioned tone of his eloquence, so contrary to the usually calm manner of William the Silent, and the boldness with which he avowed his opinions, caused a great sensation in the assembly.[642] That night was passed by Viglius, who gives his own account of the matter, in tossing on his bed, painfully ruminating on his forlorn position in the council, with scarcely one to support him in the contest which he was compelled to wage, not merely with the nobles, but with the regent herself. The next morning, while dressing, he was attacked by a fit of apoplexy, which partially deprived him of the use of both his speech and his limbs.[643] It was some time{236} before he could resume his place at the board. This new misfortune furnished him with a substantial argument for soliciting the king's permission to retire from office. In this he was warmly seconded by Margaret, who, while she urged the president's incapacity, nothing touched by his situation, eagerly pressed her brother to call him to account for his delinquencies, and especially his embezzlement of the church property.[644]

Philip, who seems to have shunned any direct intercourse with his Flemish subjects, had been averse to have Egmont, or any other envoy, sent to Madrid. On learning that the mission was at length settled, he wrote to Margaret that he had made up his mind to receive the count graciously, and to show no discontent with the conduct of the lords. That the journey, however, was not without its perils, may be inferred from a singular document that has been preserved to us. It is signed by a number of Egmont's personal friends, each of whom traced his signature in his own blood. In this paper the parties pledge their faith, as true knights and gentlemen, that if any harm be done to Count Egmont during his absence, they will take ample vengeance on Cardinal Granvelle, or whoever might be the author of it.[645] The cardinal seems to have been the personification of evil with the Flemings of every degree. This instrument, which was deposited with the Countess Egmont, was subscribed with the names of seven nobles, most of them afterwards conspicuous in the troubles of the country. One might imagine that such a document was more likely to alarm than to reassure the wife to whom it was addressed.[646]

In the beginning of January, Egmont set out on his journey. He was accompanied for some distance by a party of his friends, who at Cambray gave him a splendid entertainment. Among those present was the archbishop of Cambray, a prelate who had made himself unpopular by the zeal he had shown in the persecution of the Reformers. As the wine-cup passed freely round, some of the younger guests amused themselves with frequently pledging the prelate, and endeavoring to draw him into a greater degree of conviviality than was altogether becoming his station. As he at length declined their pledges, they began openly to taunt him; and one of the revellers, irritated by the archbishop's reply, would have thrown a large silver dish at his head, had not his arm been arrested by Egmont. Another of the company, however, succeeded in knocking off the prelate's cap;[647] and a scene of tumult ensued, from which the archbishop was extricated, not without difficulty, by the more sober and considerate part of the company. The{237} whole affair—mortifying in the extreme to Egmont—is characteristic of the country at this period; when business of the greatest importance was settled at the banquet, as we often find in the earlier history of the revolution.


Egmont's reception at Madrid was of the most flattering kind. Philip's demeanor towards his great vassal was marked by unusual benignity; and the courtiers, readily taking their cue from their sovereign, vied with one another in attentions to the man whose prowess might be said to have won for Spain the great victories of Gravelines and St. Quentin. In fine, Egmont, whose brilliant exterior and noble bearing gave additional lustre to his reputation, was the object of general admiration during his residence of several weeks at Madrid. It seemed as if the court of Castile was prepared to change its policy, from the flattering attentions it thus paid to the representative of the Netherlands.

During his stay, Egmont was admitted to several audiences, in which he exposed to the monarch the evils that beset the country, and the measures proposed for relieving them. As the two most effectual, he pressed him to mitigate the edicts, and to reorganize the council of state.[648] Philip listened with much benignity to these suggestions of the Flemish noble; and if he did not acquiesce, he gave no intimation to the contrary, except by assuring the count of his determination to maintain the integrity of the Catholic faith. To Egmont personally he showed the greatest indulgence, and the count's private suits sped as favorably as he could have expected. But a remarkable anecdote proves that Philip, at this very time, with all this gracious demeanor, had not receded one step from the ground he had always occupied.

Not long after Egmont's arrival, Philip privately called a meeting of the most eminent theologians in the capital. To this conclave he communicated briefly the state of the Low Countries, and their demand to enjoy freedom of conscience in matters of religion. He concluded by inquiring the opinion of his auditors on the subject. The reverend body, doubtless supposing that the king only wanted their sanction to extricate himself from the difficulties of his position, made answer, "that, considering the critical situation of Flanders, and the imminent danger, if thwarted, of its disloyalty to the crown and total defection from the Church, he might be justified in allowing the people freedom of worshipping in their own way." To this Philip sternly replied, "He had not called them to learn whether he might grant this to the Flemings, but whether he must do so."[649] The flexible conclave, finding they had mistaken their cue, promptly answered in the negative; on which Philip, prostrating himself on the ground before a crucifix, exclaimed, "I implore thy divine majesty, Ruler of all things, that thou keep me in the mind that I am in, never to allow myself either to become or to be called the lord of those who reject thee for their Lord."[650]—The story was told to the historian who records it by a member of the assembly, filled with admiration at the pious{238} zeal of the monarch! From that moment the doom of the Netherlands was sealed.

Yet Egmont had so little knowledge of the true state of things, that he indulged in the most cheerful prognostications for the future. His frank and cordial nature readily responded to the friendly demonstrations he received, and his vanity was gratified by the homage universally paid to him. On leaving the country, he made a visit to the royal residences of Segovia and of the Escorial,—the magnificent pile already begun by Philip, and which continued to occupy more or less of his time during the remainder of his reign. Egmont, in a letter addressed to the king, declares himself highly delighted with what he has seen at both these places, and assures his sovereign that he returns to Flanders the most contented man in the world.[651]

When arrived there, early in April, 1565, the count was loud in his profession of the amiable dispositions of the Castilian court towards the Netherlands. Egmont's countrymen—William of Orange and a few persons of cooler judgment alone excepted—readily indulged in the same dream of sanguine expectation, flattering themselves with the belief that a new policy was to prevail at Madrid, and that their country was henceforth to thrive under the blessings of religious toleration.—It was a pleasing illusion, destined to be of no long duration.



Philip's Duplicity.—His Procrastination.—Despatches from Segovia.—Effect on the Country.—The Compromise.—Orange and Egmont.

1565, 1566.

Shortly after Egmont's return to Brussels, Margaret called a meeting of the council of state, at which the sealed instructions brought by the envoy from Madrid were opened and read. They began by noticing the count's demeanor in terms so flattering as showed the mission had proved acceptable to the king. Then followed a declaration, strongly expressed and sufficiently startling. "I would rather lose a hundred thousand lives, if I had so many," said the monarch, "than allow a single change in matters of religion."[652] He, however, recommended that a commission be appointed, consisting of three bishops with a number of jurists, who should advise with the members of the council as to the best mode of instructing the people, especially in their spiritual concerns. It might be well, moreover, to substitute some secret methods for the public forms of execution, which now enabled the heretic to assume to himself the glory of martyrdom, and thereby produce a mischievous impression on the people.[653] No other allusion was made to the pressing grievances of the nation, though, in a letter addressed at the same time to the duchess, Philip said that he had come to no decision as to the council of{239} state, where the proposed change seemed likely to be attended with inconvenience.[654]


This, then, was the result of Egmont's mission to Madrid! This the change so much vaunted in the policy of Philip! "The count has been the dupe of Spanish cunning," exclaimed the prince of Orange. It was too true; and Egmont felt it keenly, as he perceived the ridicule to which he was exposed by the confident tone in which he had talked of the amiable dispositions of the Castilian court, and by the credit he had taken to himself for promoting them.[655]

A greater sensation was produced among the people; for their expectations had been far more sanguine than those entertained by William, and the few who, like him, understood the character of Philip too well to place great confidence in the promises of Egmont. They loudly declaimed against the king's insincerity, and accused their envoy of having shown more concern for his private interests than for those of the public. This taunt touched the honor of that nobleman, who bitterly complained that it was an artifice of Philip to destroy his credit with his countrymen; and the better to prove his good faith, he avowed his purpose of throwing up at once all the offices he held under government.[656]

The spirit of persecution, after a temporary lull, now again awakened. But everywhere the inquisitors were exposed to insult, and met with the same resistance as before; while their victims were cheered with expressions of sympathy from those who saw them led to execution. To avoid the contagion of example, the executions were now conducted secretly in the prisons.[657] But the mystery thus thrown around the fate of the unhappy sufferer only invested it with an additional horror. Complaints were made every day to the government by the states, the magistrates, and the people, denouncing the persecutions to which they were exposed. Spies, they said, were in every house, watching looks, words, gestures. No man was secure, either in person or property. The public groaned under an intolerable slavery.[658] Meanwhile, the Huguenot emissaries were busy as ever in propagating their doctrines; and with the work of reform was mingled the seed of revolution.

The regent felt the danger of this state of things, and her impotence to relieve it. She did all she could in freely exposing it to Philip, informing him at the same time of Egmont's disgust, and the general discontent of the nation, at the instructions from Spain. She ended, as usual, by beseeching her brother to come himself, if he would preserve his authority in the Netherlands.[659] To these communications the royal answers came but rarely; and, when they did come, were for the most part vague and unsatisfactory.

"Everything goes on with Philip," writes Chantonnay, formerly minister to France, to his brother Granvelle,—"Everything goes on from to-morrow{240} to to-morrow; the only resolution is, to remain irresolute.[660] The king will allow matters to become so entangled in the Low Countries, that, if he ever should visit them, he will find it easier to conform to the state of things than to mend it. The lords there are more of kings than the king himself.[661] They have all the smaller nobles in leading-strings. It is impossible that Philip should conduct himself like a man.[662] His only object is to cajole the Flemish nobles, so that he may be spared the necessity of coming to Flanders."

"It is a pity," writes the secretary, Perez, "that the king will manage affairs as he does, now taking counsel of this man, and now of that; concealing some matters from those he consults, and trusting them with others, showing full confidence in no one. With this way of proceeding, it is no wonder that despatches should be contradictory in their tenor."[663]

It is doubtless true, that procrastination and distrust were the besetting sins of Philip, and were followed by their natural consequences. He had, moreover, as we have seen, a sluggishness of nature, which kept him in Madrid when he should have been in Brussels,—where his father, in similar circumstances, would long since have been, seeing with his own eyes what Philip saw only with the eyes of others. But still his policy, in the present instance, may be referred quite as much to deliberate calculation as to his natural temper. He had early settled it as a fixed principle never to concede religious toleration to his subjects. He had intimated this pretty clearly in his different communications to the government of Flanders. That he did not announce it in a more absolute and unequivocal form may well have arisen from the apprehension, that, in the present irritable state of the people, this might rouse their passions into a flame. At least, it might be reserved for a last resort. Meanwhile, he hoped to weary them out by maintaining an attitude of cold reserve; until, convinced of the hopelessness of resistance, they would cease altogether to resist. In short, he seemed to deal with the Netherlands like a patient angler, who allows the trout to exhaust himself by his own efforts, rather than by a violent movement risk the loss of him altogether. It is clear Philip did not understand the character of the Netherlander,—as dogged and determined as his own.

Considering the natural bent of the king's disposition, there seems no reason to charge Granvelle, as was commonly done in the Low Countries, with having given a direction to his policy. It is, however, certain, that, on all great questions, the minister's judgment seems to have perfectly coincided with that of his master. "If your majesty mitigates the edicts," writes the cardinal, "affairs will become worse in Flanders than they are in France."[664] No change should be allowed in the council of state.[665] A meeting of the states-general would inflict an injury which the king would feel for thirty years to come![666] Granvelle maintained a busy correspondence with his partisans in the Low Countries, and sent the results of it—frequently the original letters themselves—to Madrid. Thus Philip, by means of the reports{241} of the great nobles on the one hand, and of the Cardinalists on the other, was enabled to observe the movements in Flanders from the most opposite points of view.


The king's replies to the letters of the minister were somewhat scanty, to judge from the complaints which Granvelle made of his neglect. With all this, the cardinal professes to be well pleased that he is rid of so burdensome an office as that of governing the Netherlands. "Here," he writes to his friend Viglius, "I make good cheer, busying myself with my own affairs, and preparing my despatches in quiet, seldom leaving the house, except to take a walk, to attend church, or to visit my mother."[667] In this simple way of life, the philosophic statesman seems to have passed his time to his own satisfaction, though it is evident, notwithstanding his professions, that he cast many a longing look back to the Netherlands, the seat of his brief authority. "The hatred the people of Flanders bear me," he writes to Philip, "afflicts me sorely; but I console myself that it is for the service of God and my king."[668] The cardinal, amid his complaints of the king's neglect, affected the most entire submission to his will. "I would go anywhere," he writes,—"to the Indies, anywhere in the world,—would even throw myself into the fire, did you desire it."[669] Philip, not long after, put these professions to the test. In October, 1565, he yielded to the regent's importunities, and commanded Granvelle to transfer his residence to Rome. The cardinal would not move. "Anywhere," he wrote to his master, "but to Rome. That is a place of ceremonies and empty show, for which I am nowise qualified. Besides, it would look too much like a submission on your part. My diocese of Mechlin has need of me; now, if I should go to Spain, it would look as if I went to procure the aid which it so much requires."[670] But the cabinet of Madrid were far from desiring the presence of so cunning a statesman to direct the royal counsels. The orders were reiterated, to go to Rome. To Rome, accordingly, the reluctant minister went; and we have a letter from him to the king, dated from that capital, the first of February, 1566, in which he counsels his master by no means to think of introducing the Spanish Inquisition into the Netherlands.[671] It might seem as if, contrary to the proverb, change of climate had wrought some change in the disposition of the cardinal.—From this period, Granvelle, so long the terror of the Low Countries, disappears from the management of their affairs. He does not, however, disappear from the political theatre. We shall again meet with the able and ambitious prelate, first as viceroy of Naples, and afterwards at Madrid occupying the highest station in the councils of his sovereign.

Early in July, 1565, the commission of reform appointed by Philip transmitted its report to Spain. It recommended no change in the present laws, except so far as to authorize the judges to take into consideration the age and sex of the accused, and in case of penitence to commute the capital punishment of the convicted heretic for banishment. Philip approved of the{242} report in all particulars,—except the only particular that involved a change, that of mercy to the penitent heretic.[672]

At length, the king resolved on such an absolute declaration of his will as should put all doubts on the matter at rest, and relieve him from further importunity. On the seventeenth of October, 1565, he addressed that memorable letter to his sister, from the Wood of Segovia, which may be said to have determined the fate of the Netherlands. Philip, in this, intimates his surprise that his letters should appear to Egmont inconsistent with what he had heard from his lips at Madrid. His desire was not for novelty in anything. He would have the Inquisition conducted by the inquisitors, as it had hitherto been, and as by right, divine and human, belonged to them.[673] For the edicts, it was no time in the present state of religion to make any change; both his own and those of his father must be executed. The Anabaptists—a sect for which, as the especial butt of persecution, much intercession had been made—must be dealt with according to the rigor of the law. Philip concluded by conjuring the regent and the lords in the council faithfully to obey his commands, as in so doing they would render the greatest service to the cause of religion and of their country,—which last, he adds, without the execution of these ordinances, would be of little worth.[674]

In a private letter to the regent of nearly the same date with these public despatches, Philip speaks of the proposed changes in the council of state as a subject on which he had not made up his mind.[675] He notices also the proposed convocation of the states-general as a thing, in the present disorders of the country, altogether inexpedient.[676]—Thus the king's despatches covered nearly all the debatable ground on which the contest had been so long going on between the crown and the country. There could be no longer any complaint of ambiguity or reserve in the expression of the royal will. "God knows," writes Viglius, "what wry faces were made in the council on learning the absolute will of his majesty!"[677] There was not one of its members, not even the president or Barlaimont, who did not feel the necessity of bending to the tempest so far as to suspend, if not to mitigate, the rigor of the law. They looked to the future with gloomy apprehension. Viglius strongly urged, that the despatches should not be made public till some further communication should be had with Philip to warn him of the consequences. In this he was opposed by the prince of Orange. "It was too late," he said, "to talk of what was expedient to be done. Since the will of his majesty was so unequivocally expressed, all that remained for the government was to execute it."[678] In vain did Viglius offer to take the whole responsibility of the{243} delay on himself. William's opinion, supported by Egmont and Hoorne, prevailed with the regent, too timid, by such an act of disobedience, to hazard the displeasure of her brother. As, late in the evening, the council broke up, William was heard to exclaim, "Now we shall see the beginning of a fine tragedy!"[679]


In the month of December, the regent caused copies of the despatches, with extracts from the letters to herself, to be sent to the governors and the councils of the several provinces, with orders that they should see to their faithful execution. Officers, moreover, were to be appointed, whose duty it was to ascertain the manner in which these orders were fulfilled, and to report thereon to the government.

The result was what had been foreseen. The publication of the despatches—to borrow the words of a Flemish writer—created a sensation throughout the country little short of what would have been caused by a declaration of war.[680] Under every discouragement, men had flattered themselves, up to this period, with the expectation of some change for the better. The constantly increasing number of the Reformers, the persevering resistance to the Inquisition, the reiterated remonstrances to the government, the general persuasion that the great nobles, even the regent, were on their side, had all combined to foster the hope that toleration, to some extent, would eventually be conceded by Philip.[681] This hope was now crushed. Whatever doubts had been entertained were dispelled by these last despatches, which came like a hurricane, sweeping away the mists that had so long blinded the eyes of men, and laying open the policy of the crown, clear as day, to the dullest apprehension. The people passed to the extremity of despair. The Spanish Inquisition, with its train of horrors, seemed to be already in the midst of them. They called to mind all the tales of woe they had heard of it. They recounted the atrocities perpetrated by the Spaniards in the New World, which, however erroneously, they charged on the Holy Office. "Do they expect," they cried, "that we shall tamely wait here, like the wretched Indians, to be slaughtered by millions?"[682] Men were seen gathering into knots, in the streets and public squares, discussing the conduct of the government, and gloomily talking of secret associations and foreign alliances. Meetings were stealthily held in the woods, and in the suburbs of the great towns, where the audience listened to fanatical preachers, who, while{244} discussing the doctrines of religious reform, darkly hinted at resistance. Tracts were printed, and widely circulated, in which the reciprocal obligations of lord and vassal were treated, and the right of resistance was maintained; and, in some instances, these difficult questions were handled with decided ability. A more common form was that of satire and scurrilous lampoon,—a favorite weapon with the early Reformers. Their satirical sallies were levelled indifferently at the throne and the Church. The bishops were an obvious mark. No one was spared. Comedies were written to ridicule the clergy. Never since the discovery of the art of printing—more than a century before—had the press been turned into an engine of such political importance as in the earlier stages of the revolution in the Netherlands. Thousands of the seditious pamphlets thus thrown off were rapidly circulated among a people, the humblest of whom possessed what many a noble in other lands, at that day, was little skilled in,—the art of reading. Placards were nailed to the doors of the magistrates, in some of the cities, proclaiming that Rome stood in need of her Brutus. Others were attached to the gates of Orange and Egmont, calling on them to come forth and save their country.[683]

Margaret was filled with alarm at these signs of disaffection throughout the land. She felt the ground trembling beneath her. She wrote again and again to Philip, giving full particulars of the state of the public sentiment, and the seditious spirit which seemed on the verge of insurrection. She intimated her wish to resign the government.[684] She besought him to allow the states-general to be summoned, and, at all events, to come in person and take the reins from her hands, too weak to hold them.—Philip coolly replied, that "he was sorry the despatches from Segovia had given such offence. They had been designed only for the service of God and the good of the country."[685]

In this general fermentation, a new class of men came on the stage, important by their numbers, though they had taken no part as yet in political affairs. These were the lower nobility of the country; men of honorable descent, and many of them allied by blood or marriage with the highest nobles of the land. They were too often men of dilapidated fortunes, fallen into decay through their own prodigality, or that of their progenitors. Many had received their education abroad, some in Geneva, the home of Calvin, where they naturally imbibed the doctrines of the great Reformer. In needy circumstances, with no better possession than the inheritance of honorable traditions, or the memory of better days, they were urged by a craving, impatient spirit, which naturally made them prefer any change to the existing order of things. They were, for the most part, bred to arms; and, in the days of Charles the Fifth, had found an ample career opened to their ambition under the imperial banners. But Philip, with less policy than his father, had neglected to court this class of his subjects, who, without fixed principles or settled motives of action, seemed to float on the surface of events, prepared to throw their weight, at any moment, into the scale of revolution.


Some twenty of these cavaliers, for the most part young men, met together in the month of November, in Brussels, at the house of Count Culemborg, a nobleman attached to the Protestant opinions. Their avowed purpose was to listen to the teachings of a Flemish divine, named Junius, a man of parts and learning, who had been educated in the school of Calvin, and who, having returned to the Netherlands, exercised, under the very eye of the regent, the{245} dangerous calling of the missionary. At this meeting of the discontented nobles, the talk naturally turned on the evils of the land, and the best means of remedying them. The result of the conferences was the formation of a league, the principal objects of which are elaborately set forth in a paper known as the "Compromise."[686]

This celebrated document declares that the king had been induced by evil counsellors,—for the most part foreigners,—in violation of his oath, to establish the Inquisition in the country; a tribunal opposed to all law, divine and human, surpassing in barbarity anything ever yet practised by tyrants,[687] tending to bring the land to utter ruin, and the inhabitants to a state of miserable bondage. The confederates, therefore, in order not to become the prey of those who, under the name of religion, seek only to enrich themselves at the expense of life and property,[688] bind themselves by a solemn oath to resist the establishment of the Inquisition, under whatever form it may be introduced, and to protect each other against it with their lives and fortunes. In doing this, they protest that, so far from intending anything to the dishonor of the king, their only intent is to maintain the king in his estate, and to preserve the tranquillity of the realm. They conclude with solemnly invoking the blessing of the Almighty on this their lawful and holy confederation.

Such are some of the principal points urged in this remarkable instrument, in which little mention is made of the edicts, every other grievance being swallowed up in that of the detested Inquisition. Indeed, the translations of the "Compromise," which soon appeared, in various languages, usually bore the title of "League of the Nobles of Flanders against the Spanish Inquisition."[689]

It will hardly be denied that those who signed this instrument had already made a decided move in the game of rebellion. They openly arrayed themselves against the execution of the law and the authority of the crown. They charged the king with having violated his oath, and they accused him of abetting a persecution which, under the pretext of religion, had no other object than the spoil of its victims. It was of little moment that all this was done under professions of loyalty. Such professions are the decent cover with which the first approaches are always made in a revolution.—The copies of the instrument differ somewhat from each other. One of these, before me, as if to give the edge of personal insult to their remonstrance, classes in the same category "the vagabond, the priest, and the Spaniard."[690]{246}

Among the small company who first subscribed the document, we find names that rose to eminence in the stormy scenes of the revolution. There was Count Louis of Nassau, a younger brother of the prince of Orange, the "bon chevalier," as William used to call him,—a title well earned by his generous spirit and many noble and humane qualities. Louis was bred a Lutheran, and was zealously devoted to the cause of reform, when his brother took but a comparatively languid interest in it. His ardent, precipitate temper was often kept in check, and more wisely directed, by the prudent counsels of William; while he amply repaid his brother by his devoted attachment, and by the zeal and intrepidity with which he carried out his plans. Louis, indeed, might be called the right hand of William.

Another of the party was Philip de Marnix, lord of St. Aldegonde. He was the intimate friend of William of Orange. In the words of a Belgian writer, he was one of the beautiful characters of the time;[691] distinguished alike as a soldier, a statesman, and a scholar. It is to his pen that the composition of the "Compromise" has generally been assigned. Some critics have found its tone inconsistent with the sedate and tranquil character of his mind. Yet St. Aldegonde's device, "Repos ailleurs,"[692] would seem to indicate a fervid imagination and an impatient spirit of activity.

But the man who seems to have entered most heartily into these first movements of the revolution was Henry, viscount of Brederode. He sprung from an ancient line, boasting his descent from the counts of Holland. The only possession that remained to him, the lordship of Viana, he still claimed to hold as independent of the king of Spain, or any other potentate. His patrimony had been wasted in a course of careless indulgence, and little else was left than barren titles and pretensions,—which, it must be owned, he was not diffident in vaunting. He was fond of convivial pleasures, and had a free, reckless humor, that took with the people, to whom he was still more endeared by his sturdy hatred of oppression. Brederode was, in short, one of those busy, vaporing characters, who make themselves felt at the outset of a revolution, but are soon lost in the course of it; like those ominous birds which with their cries and screams herald in the tempest that soon sweeps them out of sight for ever.

Copies of the "Compromise," with the names attached to it, were soon distributed through all parts of the country, and eagerly signed by great numbers, not merely of the petty nobility and gentry, but of substantial burghers and wealthy merchants, men who had large interests at stake in the community. Hames, king-at-arms of the Golden Fleece, who was a zealous confederate, boasted that the names of two thousand such persons were on his paper.[693] Among them were many Roman Catholics; and we are again called to notice, that in the outset this Protestant revolution received important support from the Catholics themselves, who forgot all religious differences in a common hatred of arbitrary power.


Few, if any, of the great nobles seem to have been among the number of those who signed the "Compromise,"—certainly none of the council of state. It would hardly have done to invite one of the royal councillors—in other words, one of the government—to join the confederacy, when they would have been bound by the obligations of their office to disclose it to the regent.{247}

But if the great lords did not become actual parties to the league, they showed their sympathy with the object of it, by declining to enforce the execution of the laws against which it was directed. On the twenty-fourth of January, 1566, the prince of Orange addressed, from Breda, a letter to the regent, on the occasion of her sending him the despatches from Segovia, for the rule of his government in the provinces. In this remarkable letter, William exposes, with greater freedom than he was wont, his reasons for refusing to comply with the royal orders. "I express myself freely and frankly," he says, "on a topic on which I have not been consulted; but I do so, lest by my silence I may incur the responsibility of the mischief that must ensue." He then briefly, and in a decided tone, touches on the evils of the Inquisition,—introduced, as he says, contrary to the repeated pledges of the king,—and on the edicts. Great indulgence had been of late shown in the interpretation of these latter; and to revive them on a sudden, so as to execute them with their ancient rigor, would be most disastrous. There could not be a worse time than the present, when the people were sorely pressed by scarcity of food, and in a critical state from the religious agitations on their borders. It might cost the king his empire in the Netherlands, and throw it into the hands of his neighbors.[694]

"For my own part," he concludes, "if his majesty insists on the execution of these measures, rather than incur the stain which must rest on me and my house by attempting it, I will resign my office into the hands of some one better acquainted with the humors of the people, and who will be better able to maintain order in the country."[695]

In the same tone several of the other provincial governors replied to Margaret, declaring that they could never coolly stand by and see fifty or sixty thousand of their countrymen burned to death for errors of religion.[696] The regent was sorely perplexed by this desertion of the men on whom she most relied. She wrote to them in a strain of expostulation, and besought the prince, in particular, not to add to the troubles of the time, by abandoning his post, where the attachment of the people gave him such unbounded influence.[697]

The agitations of the country, in the mean time, continued to increase. There was a scarcity of bread,—so often the forerunner of revolution,—and this article had risen to an enormous price. The people were menaced with famine, which might have led to serious consequences, but for a temporary relief from Spain.[698]

Rumors now began to be widely circulated of the speedy coming of Philip, with a large army, to chastise his vassals; and the rumors gained easy credit with those who felt they were already within the pale of rebellion. Duke Eric of Brunswick was making numerous levies on the German borders, and it was generally believed that their destination was Flanders. It was in vain that Margaret, who ascertained the falsehood of the report, endeavored to undeceive the people.[699]



A short time previously, in the month of June, an interview had taken place, at Bayonne, between the queen-mother, Catherine de Medicis, and her daughter, Isabella of Spain. Instead of her husband, Isabella was accompanied at this interview by the counsellor in whom he most trusted, the duke of Alva. The two queens were each attended by a splendid retinue of nobles. The meeting was prolonged for several days, amidst a succession of balls, tourneys, and magnificent banquets, at which the costly dress and equipage of the French nobility contrasted strangely enough with the no less ostentatious simplicity of the Spaniards. This simplicity, so contrary to the usual pomp of the Castilian, was in obedience to the orders of Philip, who, foreseeing the national emulation, forbade the indulgence of it at a foolish cost, which in the end was severely felt by the shattered finances of France.

Amid the brilliant pageants which occupied the public eye, secret conferences were daily carried on between Catherine and the duke of Alva. The results were never published, but enough found its way into the light to show that the principal object was the extermination of heresy in France and the Netherlands. The queen-mother was for milder measures,—though slower not less sure. But the iron-hearted duke insisted that to grant liberty of conscience was to grant unbounded licence. The only way to exterminate the evil was by fire and sword! It was on this occasion that, when Catherine suggested that it was easier to deal with the refractory commons than with the nobles, Alva replied, "True, but ten thousand frogs are not worth the head of a single salmon."[700]—an ominous simile, which was afterwards remembered against its author, when he ruled over the Netherlands.[701]

The report of these dark conferences had reached the Low Countries, where it was universally believed that the object of them was to secure the coöperation of France in crushing the liberties of Flanders.[702]{249}


In the panic thus spread throughout the country, the more timid or prudent, especially of those who dwelt in the seaports, began to take measures for avoiding these evils by emigration. They sought refuge in Protestant states, and especially in England, where no less than thirty thousand, we are told by a contemporary, took shelter under the sceptre of Elizabeth.[703] They swarmed in the cities of London and Sandwich, and the politic queen assigned them also the seaport of Norwich as their residence. Thus Flemish industry was transferred to English soil. The course of trade between the two nations now underwent a change. The silk and woollen stuffs, which had formerly been sent from Flanders to England, became the staple of a large export-trade from England to Flanders. "The Low Countries," writes the correspondent of Granvelle, "are the Indies of the English, who make war on our purses, as the French, some years since, made war on our towns."[704]

Some of the Flemish provinces, instead of giving way to despondency, appealed sturdily to their charters, to rescue them from the arbitrary measures of the crown. The principal towns of Brabant, with Antwerp at their head, intrenched themselves behind their Joyeuse Entrée. The question was brought before the council; a decree was given in favor of the applicants, and ratified by the regent; and the free soil of Brabant was no longer polluted by the presence of the Inquisition.[705]

The gloom now became deeper round the throne of the regent. Of all in the Netherlands, the person least to be envied was the one who ruled over them. Weaned from her attachment to Granvelle by the influence of the lords, Margaret now found herself compelled to resume the arbitrary policy which she disapproved, and to forfeit the support of the very party to which of late she had given all her confidence. The lords in the council withdrew from her, the magistrates in the provinces thwarted her, and large masses of the population were arrayed in actual resistance against the government. It may seem strange that it was not till the spring of 1566 that she received positive tidings of the existence of the league, when she was informed of it by Egmont, and some others of the council of state.[706] As usual, the rumor went beyond the truth. Twenty or thirty thousand men were said to be in arms, and half that number to be prepared to march on Brussels, and seize the person of the regent, unless she complied with their demands.[707]

For a moment Margaret thought of taking refuge in the citadel. But she{250} soon rallied, and showed the spirit to have been expected in the daughter of Charles the Fifth. She ordered the garrisons to be strengthened in the fortresses throughout the country. She summoned the companies of ordonnance to the capital, and caused them to renew their oaths of fidelity to the king. She wrote to the Spanish ministers at the neighboring courts, informed them of the league, and warned them to allow no aid to be sent to it from the countries where they resided. Finally, she called a meeting of the knights of the Golden Fleece and the council of state, for the twenty-seventh of March, to deliberate on the perilous situation of the country. Having completed these arrangements, the duchess wrote to her brother, informing him exactly of the condition of things, and suggesting what seemed to her counsellors the most effectual remedy. She wrote the more freely, as her love of power had yielded to a sincere desire to extricate herself from the trials and troubles which attended it.[708]

There were but two courses, she said, force or concession.[709] The former, to say nothing of the ruin it would bring on the land, was rendered difficult by want of money to pay the troops, and by the want of trustworthy officers, to command them. Concessions must consist in abolishing the Inquisition,—a useless tribunal where sectaries swarmed openly in the cities,—in modifying the edicts, and in granting a free pardon to all who had signed the Compromise, provided they would return to their duty.[710] On these terms, the lords of the council were willing to guaranty the obedience of the people. At all events, they promised Margaret their support in enforcing it. She would not express her own preference for either of the alternatives presented to Philip; but would faithfully execute his commands, whatever they might be, to the best of her ability.—Without directly expressing her preference, it was pretty clear on which side it lay. Margaret concluded by earnestly beseeching her brother to return an immediate answer to her despatches by the courier who bore them.


The person who seems to have enjoyed the largest share of Margaret's confidence, at this time, was Egmont. He remained at Brussels, and still kept his seat in council after William had withdrawn to his estates in Breda. Yet the prince, although he had left Brussels in disgust, had not taken part with the confederates; much less—as was falsely rumored, and to his great annoyance—put himself at their head.[711] His brother, it is true, and some of his particular friends, had joined the league. But Louis declares that he did so without the knowledge of William. When the latter, a fortnight afterwards, learned the existence of the league, he expressed his entire disapprobation of it.[712] He even used his authority, we are told, to prevent the confederates{251} from resorting to some violent measures, among others the seizure of Antwerp, promising that he would aid them to accomplish their ends in a more orderly way.[713] What he desired was, to have the states-general called together by the king. But he would not assume a hostile attitude, like that of the confederates, to force him into this unpalatable measure.[714] When convened, he would have had the legislature, without transcending its constitutional limits, remonstrate, and lay the grievances of the nation before the throne.

This temperate mode of proceeding did not suit the hot blood of the younger confederates. "Your brother," writes Hames to Louis, "is too slow and lukewarm. He would have us employ only remonstrance against these hungry wolves; against enemies who do nothing in return but behead, and banish, and burn us. We are to do the talking, and they the acting. We must fight with the pen, while they fight with the sword."[715]

The truth was, that William was not possessed of the fiery zeal which animated most of the Reformers. In his early years, as we have seen, he had been subjected to the influence of the Protestant religion at one period, and of the Roman Catholic at another. If the result of this had been to beget in him something like a philosophical indifference to the great questions in dispute, it had proved eminently favorable to a spirit of toleration. He shrunk from that system of persecution which proscribed men for their religious opinions. Soon after the arrival of the despatches from Segovia, William wrote to a friend: "The king orders, not only obstinate heretics, but even the penitent, to be put to death. I know not how I can endure this. It does not seem to me that such measures are either Christian-like or practicable."[716] In another letter he says: "I greatly fear these despatches will drive men into rebellion. I should be glad, if I could, to save my country from ruin, and so many innocent persons from slaughter. But when I say anything in the council, I am sure to be misinterpreted. So I am greatly perplexed; since speech and silence are equally bad."[717]

Acting with his habitual caution, therefore, he spoke little, and seldom expressed his sentiments in writing. "The less one puts in writing," he said to his less prudent brother, "the better."[718] Yet when the occasion demanded{252} it, he did not shrink from a plain avowal of his sentiments, both in speaking and writing. Such was the speech he delivered in council before Egmont's journey to Spain; and in the same key was the letter which he addressed to the regent on receiving the despatches from Segovia. But, whatever might be his reserve, his real opinions were not misunderstood. He showed them too plainly by his actions. When Philip's final instructions were made known to him by Margaret, the prince, as he had before done under Granvelle, ceased to attend the meetings of the council, and withdrew from Brussels.[719] He met in Breda, and afterwards in Hoogstraten, in the spring of 1566, a number of the principal nobles, under cover, as usual, of a banquet. Discussions took place on the state of the country, and some of the confederates who were present at the former place were for more violent measures than William approved. As he could not bring them over to his own temperate policy, he acquiesced in the draft of a petition, which, as we shall see in the ensuing chapter, was presented to the regent.[720] On the whole, up to the period at which we are arrived, the conduct of the prince of Orange must be allowed to have been wise and consistent. In some respects it forms a contrast to that of his more brilliant rival, Count Egmont.

This nobleman was sincerely devoted to the Roman Catholic faith. He was stanch in his loyalty to the king. At the same time he was ardently attached to his country, and felt a generous indignation at the wrongs she suffered from her rulers. Thus Egmont was acted on by opposite feelings; and, as he was a man of impulse, his conduct, as he yielded sometimes to the one and sometimes to the other of these influences, might be charged with inconsistency. None charged him with insincerity.

There was that in Egmont's character which early led the penetrating Granvelle to point him out to Philip as a man who by politic treatment might be secured to the royal cause.[721] Philip and his sister, the regent, both acted on this hint. They would hardly have attempted as much with William. Egmont's personal vanity made him more accessible to their approaches. It was this, perhaps, quite as much as any feeling of loyalty, which, notwithstanding the affront put on him, as he conceived, by the king, induced him to remain at Brussels, and supply the place in the councils of the regent which William had left vacant. Yet we find one of Granvelle's correspondents speaking of Egmont as too closely united with the lords to be detached from them. "To say truth," says the writer, "he even falters in his religion; and whatever he may say to-day on this point, he will be sure to say the contrary to-morrow."[722] Such a man, who could not be true to himself, could hardly become the leader of others.


"They put Egmont forward," writes the regent's secretary, "as the boldest, to say what other men dare not say."[723] This was after the despatches had{253} been received. "He complains bitterly," continues the writer, "of the king's insincerity. The prince has more finesse. He has also more credit with the nation. If you could gain him, you will secure all."[724] Yet Philip did not try to gain him. With all his wealth, he was not rich enough to do it. He knew this, and he hated William with the hatred which a despotic monarch naturally bears to a vassal of such a temper. He perfectly understood the character of William. The nation understood it too; and, with all their admiration for the generous qualities of Egmont, it was to his greater rival that they looked to guide them in the coming struggle of the revolution.



Design of the Confederates.—They enter Brussels.—The Petition.—The Gueux.


The party of the malecontents in the Netherlands comprehended persons of very different opinions, who were by no means uniformly satisfied with the reasonable objects proposed by the compromise. Some demanded entire liberty of conscience. Others would not have stopped short of a revolution that would enable the country to shake off the Spanish yoke. And another class of men without principle of any kind—such as are too often thrown up in strong political fermentations—looked to these intestine troubles as offering the means of repairing their own fortunes out of the wreck of their country's. Yet, with the exception of the last, there were few who would not have been content to accept the compromise as the basis of their demands.

The winter had passed away, however, and the confederacy had wrought no change in the conduct of the government. Indeed, the existence of the confederacy would not appear to have been known to the regent till the latter part of February, 1566. It was not till the close of the following month that it was formally disclosed to her by some of the great lords.[725] If it was known to her before, Margaret must have thought it prudent to affect ignorance, till some overt action on the part of the league called for her notice.

It became, then, a question with the members of the league what was next to be done. It was finally resolved to present a petition, in the name of the whole body, to the regent, a measure which, as already intimated, received the assent, if not the approbation, of the prince of Orange. The paper was prepared, as it would seem, in William's own house at Brussels, by his brother Louis; and was submitted, we are told, to the revision of the prince, who thus had it in his power to mitigate, in more than one instance the vehemence, or rather violence, of the expressions.[726]{254}

To give greater effect to the petition, it was determined that a large deputation from the league should accompany its presentation to the regent. Notice was given to four hundred of the confederates to assemble at the beginning of April. They were to come well-mounted and armed, prepared at once to proceed to Brussels. Among the number thus enrolled, we find three gentlemen of Margaret's own household, as well as some members of the companies of ordonnance commanded by the prince, and by the Counts Egmont, Hoorne, and other great lords.[727]

The duchess, informed of these proceedings, called a meeting of the council of state and the knights of the Golden Fleece, to determine on the course to be pursued. The discussion was animated, as there was much difference of opinion. Some agreed with Count Barlaimont in regarding the measure in the light of a menace. Such a military array could have no other object than to overawe the government, and was an insult to the regent. In the present excited state of the people, it would be attended with the greatest danger to allow their entrance into the capital.[728]

The prince of Orange, who had yielded to Margaret's earnest entreaties that he would attend this meeting, took a different view of the matter. The number of the delegates, he said, only proved the interest taken in the petition. They were men of rank, some of them kinsmen or personal friends of those present. Their characters and position in the country were sufficient sureties that they meditated no violence to the state. They were the representatives of an ancient order of nobility; and it would be strange indeed, if they were to be excluded from the right of petition, enjoyed by the humblest individual.—In the course of the debate, William made some personal allusions to his own situation, delivering himself with great warmth. His enemies, he said, had the royal ear, and would persuade the king to kill him and confiscate his property.[729] He was even looked upon as the head of the confederacy. It was of no use for him to give his opinion in the council, where it was sure to be misinterpreted. All that remained for him was to ask leave to resign his offices, and withdraw to his estates.[730] Count Hoorne followed in much the same key, inveighing bitterly against the ingratitude of Philip. The two nobles yielded, at length, so far to Margaret's remonstrances, as to give their opinions on the course to be pursued. But when she endeavored to recall them to their duty by reminding them of their oaths to the king, they boldly replied, they would willingly lay down their lives for their country, but would never draw sword for the edicts or the Inquisition.[731]—William's views in regard to the admission of the confederates into Brussels were supported by much the greater part of the assembly, and finally prevailed with the regent.


On the third of April, 1566, two hundred of the confederates entered the gates of Brussels. They were on horseback, and each man was furnished{255} with a brace of pistols in his holsters, wearing in other respects only the usual arms of a private gentleman. The Viscount Brederode and Louis of Nassau rode at their head.[732] They prudently conformed to William's advice, not to bring any foreigners in their train, and to enter the city quietly, without attempting to stir the populace by any military display, or the report of fire-arms.[733] Their coming was welcomed with general joy by the inhabitants, who greeted them as a band of patriots ready to do battle for the liberties of the country. They easily found quarters in the houses of the principal citizens; and Louis and Brederode were lodged in the mansion of the prince of Orange.[734]

On the following day a meeting of the confederates was held at the hotel of Count Culemborg, where they listened to a letter which Brederode had just received from Spain, informing him of the death of Morone, a Flemish nobleman well known to them all, who had perished in the flames of the Inquisition.[735] With feelings exasperated by this gloomy recital, they renewed, in the most solemn manner, their oaths of fidelity to the league. An application was then made to Margaret for leave to lay their petition before her. The day following was assigned for the act; and at noon, on the fifth of April, the whole company walked in solemn procession through the streets of Brussels to the palace of the regent. She received them, surrounded by the lords, in the great hall adjoining the council-chamber. As they defiled before her, the confederates ranged themselves along the sides of the apartment. Margaret seems to have been somewhat disconcerted by the presence of so martial an array within the walls of her palace. But she soon recovered herself, and received them graciously.[736]

Brederode was selected to present the petition, and he prefaced it by a short address. They had come in such numbers, he said, the better to show their respect to the regent, and the deep interest they took in the cause. They had been accused of opening a correspondence with foreign princes, which he affirmed to be a malicious slander, and boldly demanded to be confronted with the authors of it.[737]—Notwithstanding this stout denial, it is very possible the audience did not place implicit confidence in the assertions of the speaker. He then presented the petition to the regent, expressing the hope that she would approve of it, as dictated only by their desire to promote the glory of the king and the good of the country. If this was its object, Margaret replied, she doubted not she should be content with it.[738] The following day was named for them again to wait on her, and receive her answer.

The instrument began with a general statement of the distresses of the land, much like that in the Compromise, but couched in more respectful language. The petitioners had hoped that the action of the great lords, or of the states-general, would have led to some reform. But finding these had not{256} moved in the matter, while the evil went on increasing from day to day, until ruin was at the gate, they had come to beseech her highness to lay the subject herself before the king, and implore his majesty to save the country from perdition by the instant abolition of both the Inquisition and the edicts. Far from wishing to dictate laws to their sovereign, they humbly besought her to urge on him the necessity of convoking the states-general, and devising with them some effectual remedy for the existing evils. Meanwhile they begged of her to suspend the further execution of the laws in regard to religion until his majesty's pleasure could be known. If their prayer were not granted, they at least were absolved from all responsibility as to the consequences, now that they had done their duty as true and loyal subjects.[739]—The business-like character of this document forms a contrast to the declamatory style of the Compromise; and in its temperate tone, particularly, we may fancy we recognize the touches of the more prudent hand of the prince of Orange.

On the sixth, the confederates again assembled in the palace of the regent, to receive her answer. They were in greater force than before, having been joined by a hundred and fifty of their brethren, who had entered the city the night previous, under the command of Counts Culemborg and Berg. They were received by Margaret in the same courteous manner as on the preceding day, and her answer was made to them in writing, being endorsed on their own petition.

She announced in it her purpose of using all her influence with her royal brother to persuade him to accede to their wishes. They might rely on his doing all that was conformable to his natural and accustomed benignity.[740] She had herself, with the advice of her council and the knights of the Golden Fleece, prepared a scheme for moderating the edicts, to be laid before his majesty, which she trusted would satisfy the nation. They must however, be aware, that she herself had no power to suspend the execution of the laws. But she would send instructions to the inquisitors to proceed with all discretion in the exercise of their functions, until they should learn the king's pleasure.[741] She trusted that the confederates would so demean themselves as not to make it necessary to give different orders. All this she had done with the greater readiness, from her conviction that they had no design to make any innovation in the established religion of the country, but desired rather to uphold it in all its vigor.

To this reply, as gracious in its expressions, and as favorable in its import, as the league could possibly have expected, they made a formal answer in writing, which they presented in a body to the duchess, on the eighth of the month. They humbly thanked her for the prompt attention she had given to their petition, but would have been still more contented if her answer had been more full and explicit. They knew the embarrassments under which she labored, and they thanked her for the assurance she had given,—which, it may be remarked, she never did give,—that all proceedings connected with the Inquisition and the edicts should be stayed until his majesty's pleasure should be ascertained. They were most anxious to conform to whatever the king, with the advice and consent of the states-general, duly assembled,{257} should determine in matters of religion,[742] and they would show their obedience by taking such order for their own conduct as should give entire satisfaction to her highness.


To this the duchess briefly replied, that, if there were any cause for offence hereafter, it would be chargeable, not on her, but on them. She prayed the confederates henceforth to desist from their secret practices, and to invite no new member to join their body.[743]

This brief and admonitory reply seems not to have been to the taste of the petitioners, who would willingly have drawn from Margaret some expression that might be construed into a sanction of their proceedings. After a short deliberation among themselves, they again addressed her by the mouth of one of their own number, the lord of Kerdes. The speaker, after again humbly thanking the regent for her favorable answer, said that it would have given still greater satisfaction to his associates, if she would but have declared, in the presence of the great lords assembled, that she took the union of the confederates in good part and for the service of the king;[744] and he concluded with promising that they would henceforth do all in their power to give contentment to her highness.

To all this the duchess simply replied, she had no doubt of it. When again pressed by the persevering deputy to express her opinion of this assembly, she bluntly answered, she could form no judgment in the matter.[745]—She gave pretty clear evidence, however, of her real opinion, soon after, by dismissing the three gentlemen of her household whom we have mentioned as having joined the league.[746]

As Margaret found that the confederates were not altogether satisfied with her response to their petition, she allowed Count Hoogstraten, one of her councillors, to inform some of them, privately, that she had already written to the provinces to have all processes in affairs of religion stayed until Philip's decision should be known. To leave no room for distrust, the count was allowed to show them copies of the letters.[747]

The week spent by the league in Brussels was a season of general jubilee. At one of the banquets given at Culemborg House, where three hundred confederates were present, Brederode presided. During the repast he related to some of the company, who had arrived on the day after the petition was delivered,{258} the manner in which it had been received by the duchess. She seemed at first disconcerted, he said, by the number of the confederates, but was reassured by Barlaimont, who told her "they were nothing but a crowd of beggars."[748] This greatly incensed some of the company,—with whom, probably, it was too true for a jest. But Brederode, taking it more good-humoredly, said that he and his friends had no objection to the name, since they were ready at any time to become beggars for the service of their king and country.[749] This sally was received with great applause by the guests, who, as they drank to one another, shouted forth, "Vivent les Gueux!"—"Long live the beggars!"

Brederode, finding the jest took so well,—an event, indeed, for which he seems to have been prepared,—left the room, and soon returned with a beggar's wallet, and a wooden bowl, such as was used by the mendicant fraternity in the Netherlands. Then, pledging the company in a bumper, he swore to devote his life and fortune to the cause. The wallet and the bowl went round the table; and, as each of the merry guests drank in turn to his confederates, the shout arose of "Vivent les Gueux!" until the hall rang with the mirth of the revellers.[750]

It happened that at the time the prince of Orange and the Counts Egmont and Hoorne were passing by on their way to the council. Their attention was attracted by the noise, and they paused a moment, when William, who knew well the temper of the jovial company, proposed that they should go in, and endeavor to break up their revels. "We may have some business of the council to transact with these men this evening," he said, "and at this rate they will hardly be in a condition for it." The appearance of the three nobles gave a fresh impulse to the boisterous merriment of the company; and as the new-comers pledged their friends in the wine-cup, it was received with the same thundering acclamations of "Vivent les Gueux!"[751] This incident, of so little importance in itself, was afterwards made of consequence by the turn that was given to it in the prosecution of the two unfortunate noblemen who accompanied the prince of Orange.

Every one knows the importance of a popular name to a faction,—a nom de guerre, under which its members may rally and make head together as an independent party. Such the name of "Gueux" now became to the confederates. It soon was understood to signify those who were opposed to the government, and, in a wiser sense, to the Roman Catholic religion. In every language in which the history of these acts has been recorded,—the Latin, German, Spanish, or English,—the French term Gueux is ever employed to designate this party of malecontents in the Netherlands.[752]{259}


It now became common to follow out the original idea by imitations of the different articles used by mendicants. Staffs were procured, after the fashion of those in the hands of the pilgrims, but more elaborately carved. Wooden bowls, spoons, and knives became in great request, though richly inlaid with silver, according to the fancy or wealth of the possessor. Medals resembling those stuck by the beggars in their bonnets were worn as a badge; and the "Gueux penny," as it was called,—a gold or silver coin,—was hung from the neck, bearing on one side the effigy of Philip, with the inscription, "Fidèles au roi;" and on the other, two hands grasping a beggar's wallet, with the further legend, "jusques à porter la besace;"—"Faithful to the king, even to carrying the wallet."[753] Even the garments of the mendicant were affected by the confederates, who used them as a substitute for their family liveries; and troops of their retainers, clad in the ash-gray habiliments of the begging friars, might be seen in the streets of Brussels and the other cities of the Netherlands.[754]

On the tenth of April, the confederates quitted Brussels, in the orderly manner in which they had entered it; except that, on issuing from the gate, they announced their departure by firing a salute in honor of the city which had given them so hospitable a welcome.[755] Their visit to Brussels had not only created a great sensation in the capital itself, but throughout the country. Hitherto the league had worked in darkness, as it were, like a band of secret conspirators. But they had now come forward into the light of day, boldly presenting themselves before the regent, and demanding redress of the wrongs under which the nation was groaning. The people took heart, as they saw this broad ægis extended over them to ward off the assaults of arbitrary power. Their hopes grew stronger, as they became assured of the interposition of the regent and the great lords in their favor; and they could hardly doubt that the voice of the country, backed as it was by that of the government, would make itself heard at Madrid, and that Philip would at length be compelled to abandon a policy which menaced him with the loss of the fairest of his provinces.—They had yet to learn the character of their sovereign.{260}



The Edicts suspended.—The Sectaries.—The Public Preachings.—Attempt to suppress them.—Meeting at St. Trond.—Philip's Concessions.


On quitting Brussels, the confederates left there four of their number as a sort of committee to watch over the interests of the league. The greater part of the remainder, with Brederode at their head, took the road to Antwerp. They were hardly established in their quarters in that city, when the building was surrounded by thousands of the inhabitants, eager to give their visitors a tumultuous welcome. Brederode came out on the balcony, and, addressing the crowd, told them that he had come there, at the hazard of his life, to rescue them from the miseries of the Inquisition. He called on his audience to take him as their leader in this glorious work; and as the doughty champion pledged them in a goblet of wine which he had brought with him from the table, the mob answered by such a general shout as was heard in the furthest corners of the city.[756] Thus a relation was openly established between the confederates and the people, who were to move forward together in the great march of the revolution.

Soon after the departure of the confederates from Brussels, the regent despatched an embassy to Madrid to acquaint the king with the recent proceedings, and to urge his acquiescence in the reforms solicited by the league. The envoys chosen were the baron de Montigny—who had taken charge, it may be remembered, of a similar mission before—and the marquis of Bergen, a nobleman of liberal principles, but who stood high in the regard of the regent.[757] Neither of the parties showed any alacrity to undertake a commission which was to bring them so closely in contact with the dread monarch in his capital. Bergen found an apology for some time in a wound from a tennis-ball, which disabled his leg; an ominous accident, interpreted by the chroniclers of the time into an intimation from Heaven of the disastrous issue of the mission.[758] Montigny reached Madrid some time before his companion, on the seventeenth of June, and met with a gracious reception from Philip, who listened with a benignant air to the recital of the measures suggested for the relief of the country, terminating, as usual, with an application for a summons of the states-general, as the most effectual remedy for the disorders. But although the envoy was admitted to more than one audience, he obtained no more comfortable assurance, than that the subject should receive the most serious consideration of his majesty.[759]



Meanwhile the regent was busy in digesting the plan of compromise to which she had alluded in her reply to the confederates. When concluded, it was sent to the governors of the several provinces, to be laid before their respective legislatures. Their sanction, it was hoped, would recommend its adoption to the people at large. It was first submitted to some of the smaller states, as Artois, Namur, and Luxemburg, as most likely to prove subservient to the wishes of the government. It was then laid before several of the larger states, as Brabant and Flanders, whose determination might be influenced by the example of the others. Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, and one or two other provinces, where the spirit of independence was highest, were not consulted at all. Yet this politic management did not entirely succeed; and although some few gave an unconditional assent, most of the provinces coupled their acquiescence with limitations that rendered it of little worth.[760]

This was not extraordinary. The scheme was one which, however large the concessions it involved on the part of the government, fell far short of those demanded by the people. It denounced the penalty of death on all ministers and teachers of the reformed religion, and all who harbored them; and while it greatly mitigated the punishment of other offenders, its few sanguinary features led the people sneeringly to call it, instead of "moderation," the act of "murderation."[761] It fared, indeed, with this compromise of the regent, as with most other half-way measures. It satisfied neither of the parties concerned in it. The king thought it as much too lenient as the people thought it too severe. It never received the royal sanction, and of course never became a law. It would therefore hardly have deserved the time I have bestowed on it, except as evidence of the conciliatory spirit of the regent's administration.

In the same spirit Margaret was careful to urge the royal officers to give a liberal interpretation to the existing edicts, and to show the utmost discretion in their execution. These functionaries were not slow in obeying commands, which released them from so much of the odium that attached to their ungrateful office. The amiable temper of the government received support from a singular fraud which took place at this time. An instrument was prepared, purporting to have come from the knights of the Golden Fleece, in which this body guarantied to the confederates that no one in the Low Countries should be molested on account of his religion until otherwise determined by the king and the states-general. This document, which carried its spurious origin on its face, was nevertheless eagerly caught up and circulated among the people, ready to believe what they most desired. In vain the regent, as soon as she heard of it, endeavored to expose the fraud. It was too late; and the influence of this imposture combined with the tolerant measures of the government to inspire a confidence in the community which was soon visible in its results. Some who had gone into exile returned to their country. Many, who had cherished the new doctrines in secret, openly avowed them; while others who were wavering, now that they were relieved from all fear of consequences, became fixed in their opinions. In short, the Reformation, in some form or other, was making rapid advances over the country.[762]

Of the three great sects who embraced it, the Lutherans, the least numerous, were the most eminent for their rank. The Anabaptists, far exceeding{262} them in number, were drawn almost wholly from the humbler classes of the people. It is singular that this sect, the most quiet and inoffensive of all, should have been uniformly dealt with by the law with peculiar rigor. It may, perhaps, be attributed to the bad name which attached to them from the excesses committed by their brethren, the famous Anabaptists of Münster. The third denomination, the Calvinists, far out-numbered both of the other two. They were also the most active in the spirit of proselytism. They were stimulated by missionaries trained in the schools of Geneva; and as their doctrines spread silently over the land, not only men of piety and learning, but persons of the highest social position, were occasionally drawn within the folds of the sect.

The head-quarters of the Calvinists were in Flanders, Hainault, Artois, and the provinces contiguous to France. The border land became the residence of French Huguenots, and of banished Flemings, who on this outpost diligently labored in the cause of the Reformation. The press teemed with publications,—vindications of the faith, polemical tracts, treatises, and satires against the Church of Rome and its errors,—those spiritual missiles, in short, which form the usual magazine for controversial warfare. These were distributed by means of peddlers and travelling tinkers, who carried them, in their distant wanderings, to the humblest firesides throughout the country. There they were left to do their work; and the ground was thus prepared for the laborers whose advent forms an epoch in the history of the Reformation.[763]

These were the ministers or missionaries, whose public preaching soon caused a great sensation throughout the land. They first made their appearance in Western Flanders, before small audiences gathered together stealthily in the gloom of the forest and in the silence of night. They gradually emerged into the open plains, thence proceeding to the villages, until, growing bolder with impunity, they showed themselves in the suburbs of the great towns and cities. On these occasions, thousands of the inhabitants, men, women, and children, in too great force for the magistrates to resist them, poured out of the gates to hear the preacher. In the centre of the ground a rude staging was erected, with an awning to protect him from the weather. Immediately round the rude pulpit was gathered the more helpless part of the congregation, the women and children. Behind them stood the men,—those in the outer circle usually furnished with arms,—swords, pikes, muskets,—any weapon they could pick up for the occasion. A patrol of horse occupied the ground beyond, to protect the assembly and prevent interruption. A barricade of wagons and other vehicles was thrown across the avenues that led to the place, to defend it against the assaults of the magistrates or the military. Persons stationed along the high roads distributed religious tracts, and invited the passengers to take part in the services.[764]


The preacher was frequently some converted priest or friar, accustomed to speak in public, who, having passed the greater part of his life in battling for the Church, now showed equal zeal in overturning it. It might be, however, that the orator was a layman; some peasant or artisan, who, gifted with more wit, or possibly more effrontery, than his neighbors, felt himself called on to assume the perilous vocation of a preacher. The discourse was in French or Flemish, whichever might be the language spoken in the neighborhood. It{263} was generally of the homely texture suited both to the speaker and his audience. Yet sometimes he descanted on the woes of the land with a pathos which drew tears from every eye; and at others gave vent to a torrent of fiery eloquence, that kindled the spirit of the ancient martyr in the bosoms of his hearers.

These lofty flights were too often degraded by coarse and scurrilous invectives against the pope, the clergy, and the Inquisition,—themes, peculiarly grateful to his audience, who testified their applause by as noisy demonstrations as if they had been spectators in a theatre. The service was followed by singing some portion of the Psalms in the French version of Marot, or in a Dutch translation which had recently appeared in Holland,[765] and which, although sufficiently rude, passed with the simple people for a wonderful composition. After this, it was common for those who attended to present their infants for baptism; and many couples profited by the occasion to have the marriage ceremony performed with the Calvinistic rites. The exercises were concluded by a collection for the poor of their own denomination. In fine, these meetings, notwithstanding the occasional licence of the preacher, seem to have been conducted with a seriousness and decorum which hardly merit the obloquy thrown on them by some of the Catholic writers.

The congregation, it is true, was made up of rather motley materials. Some went out merely to learn what manner of doctrine it was that was taught; others, to hear the singing, where thousands of voices blended together in rude harmony under the canopy of heaven; others, again, with no better motive than amusement, to laugh at the oddity—perhaps the buffoonery—of the preacher. But far the larger portion of the audience went with the purpose of joining in the religious exercises, and worshipping God in their own way.[766] We may imagine what an influence must have been exercised by these meetings, where so many were gathered together, under a sense of common danger, to listen to the words of the teacher, who taught them to hold all human law as light in comparison with the higher law of conscience seated in their own bosoms. Even of those who came to scoff, few there were, probably, who did not go away with some food for meditation, or, it may be, the seeds of future conversion implanted in their breasts.

The first of these public preachings—which began as early as May—took place in the neighborhood of Ghent. Between six and seven thousand persons were assembled. A magistrate of the city, with more valor than discretion, mounted his horse, and, armed with sword and pistol, rode in among the multitude, and undertook to arrest the minister. But the people hastened to his rescue, and dealt so roughly with the unfortunate officer, that he barely escaped with life from their hands.[767]

From Ghent the preachings extended to Ypres, Bruges, and other great towns of Flanders,—always in the suburbs,—to Valenciennes, and to Tournay, in the province of Hainault, where the Reformers were strong enough to demand a place of worship within the walls. Holland was ready for the Word. Ministers of the new religion, as it was called, were sent both to that quarter and to Zealand. Gatherings of great multitudes were held in the environs of Amsterdam, the Hague, Haarlem, and other large towns, at which the magistrates were sometimes to be found mingled with the rest of the burghers.

But the place where these meetings were conducted on the greatest scale was Antwerp, a city containing then more than a hundred thousand inhabitants, and the most important mart for commerce in the Netherlands. It{264} was the great resort of foreigners. Many of these were Huguenots, who, under the pretext of trade, were much more busy with the concerns of their religion. At the meetings without the walls, it was not uncommon for thirteen or fourteen thousand persons to assemble.[768] Resistance on the part of the magistrates was ineffectual. The mob got possession of the keys of the city; and, as most of the Calvinists were armed, they constituted a formidable force. Conscious of their strength, they openly escorted their ministers back to town, and loudly demanded that some place of worship should be appropriated to them within the walls of Antwerp. The quiet burghers became alarmed. As it was known that in the camp of the Reformers were many reckless and disorderly persons, they feared the town might be given over to pillage. All trade ceased. Many of the merchants secreted their effects, and some prepared to make their escape as speedily as possible.[769]

The magistrates, in great confusion, applied to the regent, and besought her to transfer her residence to Antwerp, where her presence might overawe the spirit of sedition. But Margaret's council objected to her placing herself in the hands of so factious a population; and she answered the magistrates by inquiring what guaranty they could give her for her personal safety. They then requested that the prince of Orange, who held the office of burgrave of Antwerp, and whose influence with the people was unbounded, might be sent to them. Margaret hesitated as to this; for she had now learned to regard William with distrust, as assuming more and more an unfriendly attitude towards her brother.[770] But she had no alternative, and she requested him to transfer his residence to the disorderly capital, and endeavor to restore it to tranquillity. The prince, on the other hand, disgusted with the course of public affairs, had long wished to withdraw from any share in their management. It was with reluctance he accepted the commission.


As he drew near to Antwerp the people flocked out by thousands to welcome him. It would seem as if they hailed him as their deliverer; and every window, verandah, and roof was crowded with spectators as he rode through the gates of the capital.[771] The people ran up and down the streets, singing psalms, or shouting, "Vivent les Gueux!" while they thronged round the prince's horse in so dense a mass that it was scarcely possible for him to force a passage.[772] Yet these demonstrations of his popularity were not altogether satisfactory; and he felt no pleasure at being thus welcomed as a chief of the league, which, as we have seen, he was far from regarding with{265} approbation. Waving his hand repeatedly to those around him, he called on them to disperse, impatiently exclaiming, "Take heed what you do, or, by Heaven, you will have reason to rue it."[773] He rode straight to the hall where the magistrates were sitting, and took counsel with them as to the best means of allaying the popular excitement, and of preventing the wealthy burghers from quitting the city. During the few weeks he remained there, the prince conducted affairs so discreetly, as to bring about a better understanding between the authorities and the citizens. He even prevailed on the Calvinists to lay aside their arms. He found more difficulty in persuading them to relinquish the design of appropriating to themselves some place of worship within the walls. It was not till William called in the aid of the military to support him, that he compelled them to yield.[774]

Thus the spirit of reform was rapidly advancing in every part of the country,—even in presence of the court, under the very eye of the regent. In Brussels the people went through the streets by night, singing psalms, and shouting the war-cry of Vivent les Gueux! The merchants and wealthy burghers were to be seen with the insignia of the confederates on their dress.[775] Preparations were made for a public preaching without the walls; but the duchess at once declared, that in that event she would make one of the company at the head of her guard, seize the preacher, and hang him up at the gates of the city![776] This menace had the desired effect.

During these troublous times, Margaret, however little she may have accomplished, could not be accused of sleeping on her post. She caused fasts to be observed, and prayers to be offered in all the churches, to avert the wrath of Heaven from the land. She did not confine herself to these spiritual weapons, but called on the magistrates of the towns to do their duty, and on all good citizens to support them. She commanded foreigners to leave Antwerp, except those only who were there for traffic. She caused placards to be everywhere posted up, reciting the terrible penalties of the law against heretical teachers and those who abetted them; and she offered a reward of six hundred florins to whoever should bring any such offender to punishment.[777] She strengthened the garrisoned towns, and would have levied a force to overawe the refractory; but she had not the funds to pay for it. She endeavored to provide these by means of loans from the great clergy and the principal towns; but with indifferent success. Most of them were already creditors of the government, and they liked the security too little to make further advances. In her extremity, Margaret had no resource but the one so often tried,—that of invoking the aid of her brother. "I have no refuge,"{266} she wrote, "but in God and your majesty. It is with anguish and dismay I must admit that my efforts have wholly failed to prevent the public preaching, which has spread over every quarter of the country."[778] She bitterly complains, in another letter, that, after "so many pressing applications, she should be thus left, without aid and without instructions, to grope her way at random."[779] She again beseeches Philip to make the concessions demanded, in which event the great lords assure her of their support in restoring order.

It was the policy of the cabinet of Madrid not to commit itself. The royal answers were brief, vague, never indicating a new measure, generally intimating satisfaction with the conduct of the regent, and throwing as far as possible all responsibility on her shoulders.

But besides his sister's letters, the king was careful to provide himself with other sources of information respecting the state of the Netherlands. From some of these the accounts he received of the conduct of the great lords were even less favorable than hers. A letter from the secretary, Armenteros, speaks of the difficulty he finds in fathoming the designs of the prince of Orange,—a circumstance which he attributes to his probable change of religion. "He relies much," says the writer, "on the support he receives in Germany, on his numerous friends at home, and on the general distrust entertained of the king. The prince is making preparations in good season," he concludes, "for defending himself against your majesty."[780]

Yet Philip did not betray any consciousness of this unfriendly temper in the nobles. To the prince of Orange, in particular, he wrote: "You err in imagining that I have not entire confidence in you. Should any one seek to do you an ill office with me, I should not be so light as to give ear to him, having had so large experience of your loyalty and your services."[781] "This is not the time," he adds, "for men like you to withdraw from public affairs." But William was the last man to be duped by these fair words. When others inveighed against the conduct of the regent, William excused her by throwing the blame on Philip. "Resolved to deceive all," he said, "he begins by deceiving his sister."[782]{267}


It was about the middle of July that an event occurred which caused still greater confusion in the affairs of the Netherlands. This was a meeting of the confederates at St. Trond, in the neighborhood of Liege. They assembled, two thousand in number, with Count Louis and Brederode at their head. Their great object was to devise some means for their personal security. They were aware that they were held responsible, to some extent, for the late religious movements among the people.[783] They were discontented with the prolonged silence of the king, and they were alarmed by rumors of military preparations, said to be designed against them. The discussions of the assembly, long and animated, showed some difference of opinion. All agreed to demand some guaranty from the government for their security. But the greater part of the body, no longer halting at the original limits of their petition, were now for demanding absolute toleration in matters of religion. Some few of the number, stanch Catholics at heart, who for the first time seem to have had their eyes opened to the results to which they were inevitably tending, now, greatly disgusted, withdrew from the league. Among these was the younger Count Mansfeldt,—a name destined to become famous in the annals of the revolution.

Margaret, much alarmed by these new demonstrations, sent Orange and Egmont to confer with the confederates, and demand why they were thus met in an unfriendly attitude towards the government which they had so lately pledged themselves to support in maintaining order. The confederates replied by sending a deputation of their body to submit their grievances anew to the regent.

The deputies, twelve in number, and profanely nicknamed at Brussels "the twelve apostles,"[784] presented themselves, with Count Louis at their head, on the twenty-eighth of July, at the capital. Margaret, who with difficulty consented to receive them in person, gave unequivocal signs of her displeasure. In the plain language of Louis, "the regent was ready to burst with anger."[785] The memorial, or rather remonstrance, presented to her was not calculated to allay it.

Without going into details, it is only necessary to say, that the confederates, after stating their grounds for apprehension, requested that an assurance should be given by the government that no harm was intended them. As to pardon for the past, they disclaimed all desire for it. What they had done called for applause, not condemnation. They only trusted that his majesty would be pleased to grant a convocation of the states-general, to settle the affairs of the country. In the mean time, they besought him to allow the concerns of the confederates to be placed in the hands of the prince of Orange, and the Counts Egmont and Hoorne, to act as their mediators with the crown, promising in all things to be guided by their counsel. Thus would tranquillity be restored. But without some guaranty for their safety, they should be obliged to protect themselves by foreign aid.[786]{268}

The haughty tone of this memorial forms a striking contrast with that of the petition presented by the same body not four months before, and shows with what rapid strides the revolution had advanced. The religious agitations had revealed the amount of discontent in the country, and to what extent, therefore, the confederates might rely on the sympathy of the people. This was most unequivocally proved during the meeting of St. Trond, where memorials were presented by the merchants, and by persons of the Reformed religion, praying the protection of the league to secure them freedom of worship, till otherwise determined by the states-general. This extraordinary request was granted.[787] Thus the two great parties leaned on each other for support, and gave mutual confidence to their respective movements. The confederates, discarding the idea of grace, which they had once solicited, now darkly intimated a possible appeal to arms. The Reformers, on their side, instead of the mitigation of penalties, now talked of nothing less than absolute toleration. Thus political Revolution and religious Reform went hand in hand together. The nobles and the commons, the two most opposite elements of the body politic, were united closely by a common interest; and a formidable opposition was organized to the designs of the monarch, which might have made any monarch tremble on his throne.

An important fact shows that the confederates coolly looked forward, even at this time, to a conflict with Spain. Louis of Nassau had a large correspondence with the leaders of the Huguenots in France, and of the Lutherans in Germany. By the former he had been offered substantial aid in the way of troops. But the national jealousy entertained of the French would have made it impolitic to accept it. He turned therefore to Germany, where he had numerous connections, and where he subsidized a force consisting of four thousand horse and forty companies of foot, to be at the disposal of the league. This negotiation was conducted under the eye, and, as it seems, partly through the agency, of his brother William.[788] From this moment, therefore, if not before, the prince of Orange may be identified with the party who were prepared to maintain their rights by an appeal to arms.


These movements of the league could not be kept so close but that they came to the knowledge of Margaret. Indeed, she had her secret agents at St. Trond, who put her in possession of whatever was done, or even designed, by the confederates.[789] This was fully exhibited in her correspondence with Philip, while she again called his attention to the forlorn condition of the government, without men, or money, or the means to raise it.[790] "The sectaries go armed," she writes, "and are organizing their forces. The league is with them. There remains nothing but that they should band together, and sack the towns, villages, and churches, of which I am in marvellous great fear."[791]—Her fears had gifted her with the spirit of prophecy. She implores{269} her brother, if he will not come himself to Flanders, to convoke the states-general, quoting the words of Egmont, that, unless summoned by the king they would assemble of themselves, to devise some remedy for the miseries of the land, and prevent its otherwise inevitable ruin.[792] At length came back the royal answer to Margaret's reiterated appeals. It had at least one merit, that of being perfectly explicit.

Montigny, on reaching Madrid, as we have seen, had ready access to Philip. Both he and his companion, the marquis of Bergen, were allowed to witness, it would seem, the deliberations of the council of state, when the subject of their mission was discussed. Among the members of that body, at this time, may be noticed the duke of Alva; Ruy Gomez de Silva, prince of Eboli, who divided with Alva the royal favor; Figueroa, count of Feria, a man of an acute and penetrating intellect, formerly ambassador to England, in Queen Mary's time; and Luis de Quixada, the major-domo of Charles the fifth. Besides these there were two or three councillors from the Netherlands, among whose names we meet with that of Hopper, the near friend and associate of Viglius. There was great unanimity in the opinions of this loyal body, where none, it will be readily believed, was disposed to lift his voice in favour of reform. The course of events in the Netherlands, they agreed, plainly showed a deliberate and well-concerted scheme of the great nobles to secure to themselves the whole power of the country. The first step was the removal of Granvelle, a formidable obstacle in their path. Then came the attempt to concentrate the management of affairs in the hands of the council of state. This was followed by assaults on the Inquisition and the edicts, as the things most obnoxious to the people; by the cry in favor of the states-general; by the league, the Compromise, the petitions, the religious assemblies; and, finally, by the present mission to Spain. All was devised by the great nobles, as part of a regular system of hostility to the crown, the real object of which was to overturn existing institutions, and to build up their own authority on the ruins. While the council regarded these proceedings with the deepest indignation, they admitted the necessity of bending to the storm, and under present circumstances judged it prudent for the monarch to make certain specified concessions to the people of the Netherlands. Above all, they earnestly besought Philip, if he would still remain master of this portion of his empire, to defer no longer his visit to the country.[793]

The discussions occupied many and long-protracted sittings of the council; and Philip deeply pondered, in his own closet, on the results, after the discussions were concluded. Even those most familiar with his habits were amazed at the long delay of his decision in the present critical circumstances.[794] The haughty mind of the monarch found it difficult to bend to the required concessions. At length his answer came.

The letter containing it was addressed to his sister, and was dated on the thirty-first of July, 1566, at the Wood of Segovia,—the same place from which he had dictated his memorable despatches the year preceding. Philip began, as usual, with expressing his surprise at the continued troubles of the country. He was not aware that any rigorous procedure could be charged on the tribunals, or that any change had been made in the laws since the days of Charles the Fifth. Still, as it was much more agreeable to his nature to{270} proceed with clemency and love than with severity,[795] he would conform as far as possible to the desires of his vassals.

He was content that the Inquisition should be abolished in the Netherlands, and in its place be substituted the inquisitorial powers vested in the bishops. As to the edicts, he was not pleased with the plan of Moderation devised by Margaret; nor did he believe that any plan would satisfy the people short of perfect toleration. Still, he would have his sister prepare another scheme, having due reference to the maintenance of the Catholic faith and his own authority. This must be submitted to him, and he would do all that he possibly could in the matter.[796] Lastly, in respect to a general pardon, as he abhorred rigor where any other course would answer the end,[797] he was content that it should be extended to whomever Margaret thought deserving of it,—always excepting those already condemned, and under a solemn pledge, moreover, that the nobles would abandon the league, and henceforth give their hearty support to the government.

Four days after the date of these despatches, on the second of August, Philip again wrote to his sister, touching the summoning of the states-general, which she had so much pressed. He had given the subject, he said, a most patient consideration, and was satisfied that she had done right in refusing to call them together. She must not consent to it. He never would consent to it.[798] He knew too well to what it must inevitably lead. Yet he would not have her report his decision in the absolute and peremptory terms in which he had given it to her, but as intended merely for the present occasion; so that the people might believe she was still looking for something of a different tenor, and cherish the hope of obtaining their object at some future day![799]

The king also wrote, that he should remit a sufficient sum to Margaret to enable her to take into her pay a body of ten thousand German foot and three thousand horse, on which she could rely in case of extremity. He further wrote letters with his own hand to the governors of the provinces and the principal cities, calling on them to support the regent in her efforts to enforce the laws and maintain order throughout the country.[800]

Such were the concessions granted by Philip, at the eleventh hour, to his subjects of the Netherlands!—concessions wrung from him by hard necessity; doled out, as it were, like the scanty charity of the miser,—too scanty and too late to serve the object for which it is intended. But slight as these concessions were, and crippled by conditions which rendered them nearly nugatory, it will hardly be believed that he was not even sincere in making them! This is proved by a revelation lately made of a curious document in the Archives of Simancas.


While the ink was scarcely dry on the despatches to Margaret, Philip summoned{271} a notary into his presence, and before the duke of Alva and two other persons, jurists, solemnly protested that the authority he had given to the regent in respect to a general pardon was not of his own free will. "He therefore did not feel bound by it, but reserved to himself the right to punish the guilty, and especially the authors and abettors of sedition in the Low Countries."[801] We feel ourselves at once transported into the depths of the Middle Ages. This feeling will not be changed when we learn the rest of the story of this admirable piece of kingcraft.

The chair of St. Peter, at this time, was occupied by Pius the Fifth, a pope who had assumed the same name as his predecessor, and who displayed a spirit of fierce, indeed frantic intolerance, surpassing even that of Paul the Fourth. At the accession of the new pope there were three Italian scholars, inhabitants of Milan, Venice, and Tuscany, eminent for their piety, who had done great service to the cause of letters in Italy, but who were suspected of too liberal opinions in matters of faith. Pius the Fifth demanded that these scholars should all be delivered into his hands. The three states had the meanness to comply. The unfortunate men were delivered up to the Holy Office, condemned, and burned at the stake. This was one of the first acts of the new pontificate. It proclaimed to Christendom that Pius the Fifth was the uncompromising foe of heresy, the pope of the Inquisition. Every subsequent act of his reign served to confirm his claim to this distinction.

Yet, as far as the interests of Catholicism were concerned, a character like that of Pius the Fifth must be allowed to have suited the times. During the latter part of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth, the throne had been filled by a succession of pontiffs notorious for their religious indifference, and their carelessness, too often profligacy, of life. This, as is well known, was one of the prominent causes of the Reformation. A reaction followed. It was necessary to save the Church. A race of men succeeded, of ascetic temper, remarkable for their austere virtues, but without a touch of sympathy for the joys or sorrows of their species, and wholly devoted to the great work of regenerating the fallen Church. As the influence of the former popes had opened a career to the Reformation, the influence of these latter popes tended materially to check it; and long before the close of the sixteenth century the boundary line was defined, which it has never since been allowed to pass.

Pius, as may be imagined, beheld with deep anxiety the spread of the new religion in the Low Countries. He wrote to the duchess of Parma, exhorting her to resist to the utmost, and professing his readiness to supply her, if need were, with both men and money. To Philip he also wrote, conjuring him not to falter in the good cause, and to allow no harm to the Catholic faith, but to march against his rebellious vassals at the head of his army, and wash out the stain of heresy in the blood of the heretic.[802]{272}

The king now felt it incumbent on him to explain to the holy father his late proceedings. This he did through Requesens, his ambassador at the papal court. The minister was to inform his holiness that Philip would not have moved in this matter without his advice, had there been time for it. But perhaps it was better as it was; for the abolition of the Inquisition in the Low Countries could not take effect, after all, unless sanctioned by the pope, by whose authority it had been established. This, however, was to be said in confidence.[803] As to the edicts, Pius might be assured that his majesty would never approve of any scheme which favored the guilty by diminishing in any degree the penalties of their crimes. This also was to be considered as secret.[804] Lastly, his holiness need not be scandalized by the grant of a general pardon, since it referred only to what concerned the king personally, where he had a right to grant it. In fine, the pope might rest assured that the king would consent to nothing that could prejudice the service of God or the interests of religion. He deprecated force, as that would involve the ruin of the country. Still, he would march in person, without regard to his own peril, and employ force, though it should cost the ruin of the provinces, but he would bring his vassals to submission. For he would sooner lose a hundred lives, and every rood of empire, than reign a lord over heretics.[805]{273}


Thus all the concessions of Philip, not merely his promises of grace, but those of abolishing the Inquisition and mitigating the edicts, were to go for nothing,—mere words, to amuse the people until some effectual means could be decided on. The king must be allowed, for once at least, to have spoken with candor. There are few persons who would not have shrunk from acknowledging to their own hearts that they were acting on so deliberate a system of perfidy as Philip thus confided in his correspondence with another. Indeed, he seems to have regarded the pope in the light of his confessor, to whom he was to unburden his bosom as frankly as if he had been in the confessional. The shrift was not likely to bring down a heavy penance from one who doubtless held to the orthodox maxim of "No faith to be kept with heretics."

The result of these royal concessions was what might have been expected. Crippled as they were by conditions, they were regarded in the Low Countries with distrust, not to say contempt. In fact, the point at which Philip had so slowly and painfully arrived had been long since passed in the onward march of the revolution. The men of the Netherlands now talked much more of recompense than of pardon. By a curious coincidence, the thirty-first of July, the day on which the king wrote his last despatches from Segovia, was precisely the date of those which Margaret sent to him from Brussels, giving the particulars of the recent troubles, of the meeting at St. Trond, the demand for a guaranty, and for an immediate summons of the legislature.

But the fountain of royal grace had been completely drained by the late efforts. Philip's reply at this time was prompt and to the point. As to the guaranty, he said, that was superfluous when he had granted a general pardon. For the states-general, there was no need to alter his decision now, since he was so soon to be present in the country.[806]

This visit of the king to the Low Countries, respecting which so much was said and so little was done, seems to have furnished some amusement to the wits of the court. The prince of Asturias, Don Carlos, scribbled one day on the cover of a blank book, as its title, "The Great and Admirable Voyages of King Philip;" and within, for the contents, he wrote, "From Madrid to the Pardo, from the Pardo to the Escorial, from the Escorial to Aranjuez," &c., &c.[807] This jest of the graceless son had an edge to it. We are not told how far it was relished by his royal father.



Cathedral of Antwerp sacked.—Sacrilegious Outrages.—Alarm at Brussels.—Churches granted to Reformers.—Margaret repents her Concessions.—Feeling at Madrid.—Sagacity of Orange.—His Religious Opinions.


While Philip was thus tardily coming to concessions which even then were not sincere, an important crisis had arrived in the affairs of the Netherlands. In the earlier stages of the troubles, all orders, the nobles, the commons, even{274} the regent, had united in the desire to obtain the removal of certain abuses, especially the Inquisition and the edicts. But this movement, in which the Catholic joined with the Protestant, had far less reference to the interests of religion than to the personal rights of the individual. Under the protection thus afforded, however, the Reformation struck deep root in the soil. It nourished still more under the favor shown to it by the confederates, who, as we have seen, did not scruple to guaranty security of religions worship to some of the sectaries who demanded it.

But the element which contributed most to the success of the new religion was the public preachings. These in the Netherlands were what the Jacobin clubs were in France, or the secret societies in Germany and Italy,—an obvious means for bringing together such as were pledged to a common hostility to existing institutions, and thus affording them an opportunity for consulting on their grievances, and for concerting the best means of redress. The direct object of these meetings, it is true, was to listen to the teachings of the minister. But that functionary, far from confining himself to spiritual exercises, usually wandered to more exciting themes, as the corruptions of the Church and the condition of the land. He rarely failed to descant on the forlorn circumstances of himself and his flock, condemned thus stealthily to herd together like a band of outlaws, with ropes, as it were, about their necks, and to seek out some solitary spot in which to glorify the Lord, while their enemies, in all the pride of a dominant religion, could offer up their devotions openly and without fear, in magnificent temples. The preacher inveighed bitterly against the richly benefited clergy of the rival Church, whose lives of pampered ease too often furnished an indifferent commentary on the doctrines they inculcated. His wrath was kindled by the pompous ceremonial of the Church of Rome, so dazzling and attractive to its votaries, but which the Reformer sourly contrasted with the naked simplicity of the Protestant service. Of all abominations, however, the greatest in his eyes was the worship of images, which he compared to the idolatry that in ancient times had so often brought down the vengeance of Jehovah on the nations of Palestine; and he called on his hearers, not merely to remove idolatry from their hearts, but the idols from their sight.[808] It was not wonderful that, thus stimulated by their spiritual leaders, the people should be prepared for scenes similar to those enacted by the Reformers in France and in Scotland; or that Margaret, aware of the popular feeling, should have predicted such an outbreak. At length it came, and on a scale and with a degree of violence not surpassed either by the Huguenots or the disciples of Knox.

On the fourteenth of August, the day before the festival of the Assumption of the Virgin, a mob, some three hundred in number, armed with clubs, axes, and other implements of destruction, broke into the churches around St. Omer, in the province of Flanders, overturned the images, defaced the ornaments, and in a short time demolished whatever had any value or beauty in the buildings. Growing bolder from the impunity which attended their movements, they next proceeded to Ypres, and had the audacity to break into the cathedral, and deal with it in the same ruthless manner. Strengthened by the accession of other miscreants from the various towns, they proceeded along the banks of the Lys, and fell upon the churches of Menin, Comines, and other places on its borders. The excitement now spread over the country. Everywhere the populace was in arms. Churches, chapels, and convents were involved in indiscriminate ruin. The storm, after sweeping over Flanders, and desolating the flourishing cities of Valenciennes and{275} Tournay, descended on Brabant. Antwerp, the great commercial capital of the country, was its first mark.[809]


The usual population of the town happened to be swelled at this time by an influx of strangers from the neighboring country, who had come up to celebrate the great festival of the Assumption of the Virgin. Fortunately the prince of Orange was in the place, and by his presence prevented any molestation to the procession, except what arose from the occasional groans and hisses of the more zealous spectators among the Protestants. The priests, however, on their return, had the discretion to deposit the image in the chapel, instead of the conspicuous station usually assigned to it in the cathedral, to receive there during the coming week the adoration of the faithful.

On the following day, unluckily, the prince was recalled to Brussels. In the evening some boys, who had found their way into the church, called out to the Virgin, demanding "why little Mary had gone so early to her nest, and whether she were afraid to show her face in public."[810] This was followed by one of the party mounting into the pulpit, and there mimicking the tones and gestures of the Catholic preacher. An honest waterman who was present, a zealous son of the Church, scandalized by this insult to his religion, sprang into the pulpit, and endeavored to dislodge the usurper. The lad resisted. His comrades came to his rescue; and a struggle ensued, which ended in both the parties being expelled from the building by the officers.[811] This scandalous proceeding, it may be thought, should have put the magistrates of the city on their guard, and warned them to take some measures of defence for the cathedral. But the admonition was not heeded.

On the following day a considerable number of the reformed party entered the building, and were allowed to continue there after vespers, when the rest of the congregation had withdrawn. Left in possession, their first act was to break forth into one of the Psalms of David. The sound of their own voices seemed to rouse them to fury. Before the chant had died away, they rushed forward as by a common impulse, broke open the doors of the chapel, and dragged forth the image of the Virgin. Some called on her to cry, "Vivent les Gueux!" while others tore off her embroidered robes, and rolled the dumb idol in the dust, amidst the shouts of the spectators.

This was the signal for havoc. The rioters dispersed in all directions on the work of destruction. Nothing escaped their rage. High above the great altar was an image of the Saviour, curiously carved in wood, and placed between the effigies of the two thieves crucified with him. The mob contrived to get a rope round the neck of the statue of Christ, and dragged it to the ground. They then fell upon it with hatchets and hammers, and it was soon broken into a hundred fragments. The two thieves, it was remarked, were spared, as if to preside over the work of rapine below.

Their fury now turned against the other statues, which were quickly overthrown from their pedestals. The paintings that lined the walls of the cathedral were cut into shreds. Many of these were the choicest specimens of Flemish art, even then, in its dawn, giving promise of the glorious day which was to shed a lustre over the land.

But the pride of the cathedral, and of Antwerp, was the great organ, renowned throughout the Netherlands, not more for its dimensions than its perfect workmanship. With their ladders the rioters scaled the lofty fabric,{276} and with their implements soon converted it, like all else they laid their hands on, into a heap of rubbish.

The ruin was now universal. Nothing beautiful, nothing holy, was spared. The altars—and there were no less than seventy in the vast edifice—were overthrown one after another; their richly embroidered coverings rudely rent away; their gold and silver vessels appropriated by the plunderers. The sacramental bread was trodden under foot; the wine was quaffed by the miscreants, in golden chalices, to the health of one another, or of the Gueux; and the holy oil was profanely used to anoint their shoes and sandals. The sculptured tracery on the walls, the costly offerings that enriched the shrines, the screens of gilded bronze, the delicately carved wood-work of the pulpit, the marble and alabaster ornaments, all went down under the fierce blows of the iconoclasts. The pavement was strewed with the ruined splendors of a church, which in size and magnificence was perhaps second only to St. Peter's among the churches of Christendom.

As the light of day faded, the assailants supplied its place with such light as they could obtain from the candles which they snatched from the altars. It was midnight before the work of destruction was completed. Thus toiling in darkness, feebly dispelled by tapers the rays of which could scarcely penetrate the vaulted distances of the cathedral, it is a curious circumstance—if true—than no one was injured by the heavy masses of timber, stone, and metal that were everywhere falling around them.[812] The whole number engaged in this work is said not to have exceeded a hundred men, women, and boys,—women of the lowest description, dressed in men's attire.

When their task was completed, they sallied forth in a body from the doors of the cathedral, some singing the Psalms of David, others roaring out the fanatical war-cry of "Vivent les Gueux!" Flushed with success, and joined on the way by stragglers like themselves, they burst open the doors of one church after another; and by the time morning broke, the principal temples in the city had been dealt with in the same ruthless manner as the cathedral.[813]

No attempt all this time was made to stop these proceedings on the part of magistrates or citizens. As they beheld from their windows the bodies of armed men hurrying to and fro by the gleam of their torches, and listened to the sounds of violence in the distance, they seem to have been struck with a panic. The Catholics remained within doors, fearing a general rising of the Protestants. The Protestants feared to move abroad, lest they should be confounded with the rioters. Some imagined their own turn might come next, and appeared in arms at the entrances of their houses, prepared to defend them against the enemy.


When gorged with the plunder of the city, the insurgents poured out at the gates, and fell with the same violence on the churches, convents, and other religious edifices in the suburbs. For three days these dismal scenes continued, without resistance on the part of the inhabitants. Amidst the ruin in the cathedral, the mob had alone spared the royal arms and the escutcheons of the knights of the Golden Fleece, emblazoned on the walls. Calling this to mind, they now returned into the city to complete the work. But some of the knights,{277} who were at Antwerp, collected a handful of their followers, and, with a few of the citizens, forced their way into the cathedral, arrested ten or twelve of the rioters, and easily dispersed the remainder; while a gallows erected on an eminence admonished the offenders of the fate that awaited them. The facility with which the disorders were repressed by a few resolute men naturally suggests the inference, that many of the citizens had too much sympathy with the authors of the outrages to care to check them, still less to bring the culprits to punishment. An orthodox chronicler of the time vents his indignation against a people who were so much more ready to stand by their hearths than by their altars.[814]

The fate of Antwerp had its effect on the country. The flames of fanaticism, burning fiercer than ever, quickly spread over the northern, as they had done over the western provinces. In Holland, Utrecht, Friesland,—everywhere, in short, with a few exceptions on the southern borders,—mobs rose against the churches. In some places, as Rotterdam, Dort, Haarlem, the magistrates were wary enough to avert the storm by delivering up the images, or at least by removing them from the buildings.[815] It was rare that any attempt was made at resistance. Yet on one or two occasions this so far succeeded that a handful of troops sufficed to rout the iconoclasts. At Anchyn, four hundred of the rabble were left dead on the field. But the soldiers had no relish for their duty, and on other occasions, when called on to perform it, refused to bear arms against their countrymen.[816] The leaven of heresy was too widely spread among the people.

Thus the work of plunder and devastation went on vigorously throughout the land. Cathedral and chapel, monastery and nunnery, religious houses of every description, even hospitals, were delivered up to the tender mercies of the Reformers. The monks fled, leaving behind them treasures of manuscripts and well-stored cellars, which latter the invaders soon emptied of their contents, while they consigned the former to the flames. The terrified nuns, escaping half naked, at dead of night, from their convents, were too happy to find a retreat among their friends and kinsmen in the city.[817] Neither monk nor nun ventured to go abroad in the conventual garb. Priests might be sometimes seen hurrying away with some relic or sacred treasure under their robes, which they were eager to save from the spoilers. In the general sack not even the abode of the dead was respected; and the sepulchres of the counts of Flanders were violated, and laid open to the public gaze![818]

The deeds of violence perpetrated by the iconoclasts were accompanied by such indignities as might express their contempt for the ancient faith. They snatched the wafer, says an eye-witness, from the altar, and put it into{278} the mouth of a parrot. Some huddled the images of the saints together, and set them on fire, or covered them with bits of armor, and, shouting "Vivent les Gueux!" tilted rudely against them. Some put on the vestments stolen from the churches, and ran about the streets with them in mockery. Some basted the books with butter, that they might burn the more briskly.[819] By the scholar, this last enormity will not be held light among their transgressions. It answered their purpose, to judge by the number of volumes that were consumed. Among the rest, the great library of Vicogne, one of the noblest collections in the Netherlands, perished in the flames kindled by these fanatics.[820]

The amount of injury inflicted during this dismal period it is not possible to estimate. Four hundred churches were sacked by the insurgents in Flanders alone.[821] The damage to the cathedral of Antwerp, including its precious contents, was said to amount to not less than four hundred thousand ducats![822] The loss occasioned by the plunder of gold and silver plate might be computed. The structures so cruelly defaced might be repaired by the skill of the architect. But who can estimate the irreparable loss occasioned by the destruction of manuscripts, statuary, and paintings? It is a melancholy fact, that the earliest efforts of the Reformers were everywhere directed against those monuments of genius which had been created and cherished by the generous patronage of Catholicism. But if the first step of the Reformation was on the ruins of art, it cannot be denied that a compensation has been found in the good which it has done by breaking the fetters of the intellect, and opening a free range in those domains of science to which all access had been hitherto denied.

The wide extent of the devastation was not more remarkable than the time in which it was accomplished. The whole work occupied less than a fortnight. It seemed as if the destroying angel had passed over the land, and at a blow had consigned its noblest edifices to ruin! The method and discipline, if I may so say, in the movements of the iconoclasts, were as extraordinary as their celerity. They would seem to have been directed by some other hands than those which met the vulgar eye. The quantity of gold and silver plate purloined from the churches and convents was immense. Though doubtless sometimes appropriated by individuals, it seems not unfrequently to have been gathered in a heap, and delivered to the minister, who, either of himself, or by direction of the consistory, caused it to be melted down, and distributed among the most needy of the sectaries.[823] We may sympathize with the indignation of a Catholic writer of the time, who exclaims, that in this way the poor churchmen were made to pay for the scourges with which they had been beaten.[824]


The tidings of the outbreak fell heavily on the ears of the court of Brussels,{279} where the regent, notwithstanding her prediction of the event, was not any the better prepared for it. She at once called her counsellors together and demanded their aid in defending the religion of the country against its enemies. But the prince of Orange and his friends discouraged a resort to violent measures, as little likely to prevail in the present temper of the people. "First," said Egmont, "let us provide for the security of the state. It will be time enough then to think of religion." "No," said Margaret, warmly; "the service of God demands our first care; for the ruin of religion would be a greater evil than the loss of the country."[825] "Those who have anything to lose in it," replied the count, somewhat coolly, "will probably be of a different opinion,"[826]—an answer that greatly displeased the duchess.

Rumors now came thick on one another of the outrages committed by the image-breakers. Fears were entertained that their next move would be on the capital itself. Hitherto the presence of the regent had preserved Brussels, notwithstanding some transient demonstrations among the people, from the spirit of reform which had convulsed the rest of the country. No public meetings had been held either in the city or the suburbs; for Margaret had declared she would hang up, not only the preacher, but all those who attended him.[827] The menace had its effect. Thus keeping aloof from the general movement of the time, the capital was looked on with an evil eye by the surrounding country; and reports were rife, that the iconoclasts were preparing to march in such force on the place, as should enable them to deal with it as they had done with Antwerp and the other cities of Brabant.

The question now arose as to the course to be pursued in the present exigency. The prince of Orange and his friends earnestly advised that Margaret should secure the aid of the confederates by the concessions they had so strenuously demanded; in the next place, that she should conciliate the Protestants by consenting to their religious meetings. To the former she made no objection. But the latter she peremptorily refused. "It would be the ruin of our holy religion," she said. It was in vain they urged, that two hundred thousand sectaries were in arms; that they were already in possession of the churches; that, if she persisted in her refusal, they would soon be in Brussels, and massacre every priest and Roman Catholic before her eyes![828] Notwithstanding this glowing picture of the horrors in store for her, Margaret remained inflexible. But her agitation was excessive: she felt herself alone in her extremity. The party of Granvelle she had long since abandoned. The party of Orange seemed now ready to abandon her. "I am pressed by enemies within and without," she wrote to Philip; "there is no one on whom I can rely for counsel or for aid."[829] Distrust and anxiety brought on a fever, and for several days and nights she lay tossing about, suffering equally from distress of body and anguish of spirit.[830]{280}

Thus sorely perplexed, Margaret felt also the most serious apprehensions for her personal safety. With the slight means of defence at her command, Brussels seemed no longer a safe residence, and she finally came to the resolution to extricate herself from the danger and difficulties of her situation by a precipitate flight. After a brief consultation with Barlaimont, Arschot, and others of the party opposed to the prince of Orange, and hitherto little in her confidence, she determined to abandon the capital, and seek a refuge in Mons,—a strong town in Hainault, belonging to the duke of Arschot, which, from its sturdy attachment to the Romish faith, had little to fear from the fanatics.

Having completed her preparations with the greatest secrecy, on the day fixed for her flight Margaret called her council together to communicate her design. It met with the most decided opposition, not merely from the lords with whom she had hitherto acted, but from the president Viglius. They all united in endeavoring to turn her from a measure which would plainly intimate such a want of confidence on the part of the duchess as must dishonor them in the eyes of the world. The preparations for Margaret's flight had not been conducted so secretly but that some rumor of them had taken wind; and the magistrates of the city now waited on her in a body, and besought her not to leave them, defenceless as they were, to the mercy of their enemies.

The prince was heard to say, that, if the regent thus abandoned the government, it would be necessary to call the states-general together at once, to take measures for the protection of the country.[831] And Egmont declared that, if she fled to Mons, he would muster forty thousand men, and besiege Mons in person.[832] The threat was not a vain one, for no man in the country could have gathered such a force under his banner more easily than Egmont. The question seems to have been finally settled by the magistrates causing the gates of the town to be secured, and a strong guard placed over them, with orders to allow no passage either to the duchess or her followers.—Thus a prisoner in her own capital, Margaret conformed to necessity, and, with the best grace she could, consented to relinquish her scheme of departure.[833]


The question now recurred as to the course to be pursued; and the more she pondered on the embarrassments of her position, the more she became satisfied that no means of extricating herself remained but that proposed by the nobles. Yet, in thus yielding to necessity, she did so protesting that she was acting under compulsion.[834] On the twenty-third of August, Margaret executed an instrument, by which she engaged that no harm should come to the members of the league for anything hitherto done by them. She further authorized the lords to announce to the confederates her consent to the religious meetings of the Reformed, in places where they had been hitherto{281} held, until his majesty and the states-general should otherwise determine. It was on the condition, however, that they should go there unarmed, and nowhere offer disturbance to the Catholics.

On the twenty-fifth of the month the confederate nobles signed an agreement on their part and solemnly swore that they would aid the regent to the utmost in suppressing the disorders of the country, and in bringing their authors to justice; agreeing, moreover, that, so long as the regent should be true to the compact, the league should be considered as null and void.[835]

The feelings of Margaret, in making the concessions required of her, may be gathered from the perusal of her private correspondence with her brother. No act in her public life ever caused her so deep a mortification; and she never forgave the authors of it. "It was forced upon me," she writes to Philip; "but, happily, you will not be bound by it." And she beseeches him to come at once, in such strength as would enable him to conquer the country for himself, or to give her the means of doing so.[836]—Margaret, in early life, had been placed in the hands of Ignatius Loyola. More than one passage in her history proves that the lessons of the Jesuit had not been thrown away.

During these discussions the panic had been such, that it was thought advisable to strengthen the garrison under command of Count Mansfeldt, and keep the greater part of the citizens under arms day and night. When this arrangement was concluded, the great lords dispersed on their mission to restore order in their several governments. The prince went first to Antwerp, where, as we have seen, he held the office of burgrave. He made strict investigation into the causes of the late tumult, hung three of the ringleaders, and banished three others. He found it, however, no easy matter to come to terms with the sectaries, who had possession of all the churches, from which they had driven the Catholics. After long negotiation, it was arranged that they should be allowed to hold six, and should resign the rest to the ancient possessors. The arrangement gave general satisfaction, and the principal citizens and merchants congratulated William on having rescued them from the evils of anarchy.

Not so the regent. She knew well that the example of Antwerp would become a precedent for the rest of the country. She denounced the compact, as compromising the interests of Catholicism, and openly accused the prince of having transcended his powers, and betrayed the trust reposed in him. Finally, she wrote, commanding him at once to revoke his concessions.

William, in answer, explained to her the grounds on which they had been made, and their absolute necessity, in order to save the city from anarchy. It is a strong argument in his favor, that the Protestants, who already claimed the prince as one of their own sect, accused him, in this instance, of sacrificing their cause to that of their enemies; and caricatures of him were made, representing him with open hands and a double face.[837] William, while thus explaining his conduct, did not conceal his indignation at the charges brought against him by the regent, and renewed his request for leave to resign his offices, since he no longer enjoyed her confidence. But whatever disgust she may have felt at his present conduct, William's services were too important to Margaret in this crisis to allow her to dispense with them; and she made{282} haste to write to him in a conciliatory tone, explaining away as far as possible what had been offensive in her former letters. Yet from this hour the consciousness of mutual distrust raised a barrier between the parties never to be overcome.[838]

William next proceeded to his governments of Utrecht and Holland, which, by a similar course of measures to that pursued at Antwerp, he soon restored to order. While in Utrecht, he presented to the states of the province a memorial, in which he briefly reviewed the condition of the country. He urged the necessity of religious toleration, as demanded by the spirit of the age, and as particularly necessary in a country like that, the resort of so many foreigners, and inhabited by sects of such various denominations. He concluded by recommending them to lay a petition to that effect before the throne,—not, probably, from any belief that such a petition would be heeded by the monarch, but from the effect it would have in strengthening the principles of religious freedom in his countrymen. William's memorial is altogether a remarkable paper for the time, and in the wise and liberal tenor of its arguments strikingly contrasts with the intolerant spirit of the court of Madrid.[839]

The regent proved correct in her prediction that the example of Antwerp would be made a precedent for the country. William's friends, the Counts Hoorne and Hoogstraten, employed the same means for conciliating the sectaries in their own governments. It was otherwise with Egmont. He was too stanch a Catholic at heart to approve of such concessions. He carried matters, therefore, with a high hand in his provinces of Flanders and Artois, where his personal authority was unbounded. He made a severe scrutiny into the causes of the late tumult, and dealt with its authors so sternly, as to provoke a general complaint among the reformed party, some of whom, indeed, became so far alarmed for their own safety, that they left the provinces and went beyond sea.

Order now seemed to be reëstablished in the land, through the efforts of the nobles, aided by the confederates, who seem to have faithfully executed their part of the compact with the regent. The Protestants took possession of the churches assigned to them, or busied themselves with raising others on the ground before reserved for their meetings. All joined in the good work; the men laboring at the building, the women giving their jewels and ornaments to defray the cost of the materials. A calm succeeded,—a temporary lull after the hurricane; and Lutheran and Calvinist again indulged in the pleasing illusion, that, however distasteful it might be to the government, they were at length secure of the blessings of religious toleration.

During the occurrence of these events a great change had taken place in the relations of parties. The Catholic members of the league, who had proposed nothing beyond the reform of certain glaring abuses, and, least of all, anything prejudicial to their own religion, were startled as they saw the inevitable result of the course they were pursuing. Several of them, as we have seen, had left the league before the outbreak of the iconoclasts; and after that event, but very few remained in it. The confederates, on the other hand, lost ground with the people, who looked with distrust on their late arrangement with the regent, in which they had so well provided for their own security. The confidence of the people was not restored by the ready aid which their old allies seemed willing to afford the great nobles in bringing{283} to justice the authors of the recent disorders.[840] Thus deserted by many of its own members, distrusted by the Reformers, and detested by the regent, the league ceased from that period to exert any considerable influence on the affairs of the country.


A change equally important had taken place in the politics of the court. The main object with Margaret, from the first, had been to secure the public tranquillity. To effect this she had more than once so far deferred to the judgment of William and his friends, as to pursue a policy not the most welcome to herself. But it had never been her thought to extend that policy to the point of religious toleration. So far from it, she declared that, even though the king should admit two religions in the state, she would rather be torn in pieces than consent to it.[841] It was not till the coalition of the nobles, that her eyes were opened to the path she was treading. The subsequent outrages of the iconoclasts made her comprehend she was on the verge of a precipice. The concessions wrung from her, at that time, by Orange and his friends, filled up the measure of her indignation. A great gulf now opened between her and the party by whom she had been so long directed. Yet where could she turn for support? One course only remained; and it was with a bitter feeling that she felt constrained to throw herself into the arms of the very party which she had almost estranged from her counsels. In her extremity she sent for the president Viglius, on whose head she had poured out so many anathemas in her correspondence with Philip,—whom she had not hesitated to charge with the grossest peculation.

Margaret sent for the old councillor, and, with tears in her eyes, demanded his advice in the present exigency. The president naturally expressed his surprise at this mark of confidence from one who had so carefully excluded him from her counsels for the last two years. Margaret, after some acknowledgment of her mistake, intimated a hope that this would be no impediment to his giving her the counsel she now so much needed. Viglius answered by inquiring whether she were prepared faithfully to carry out what she knew to be the will of the king. On Margaret's replying in the affirmative, he recommended that she should put the same question to each member of her cabinet. "Their answers," said the old statesman, "will show you whom you are to trust." The question—the touchstone of loyalty—was accordingly put; and the minister, who relates the anecdote himself, tells us that three only, Mansfeldt, Barlaimont, and Arschot, were prepared to stand by the regent in carrying out the policy of the crown. From that hour the regent's confidence was transferred from the party with which she had hitherto acted, to their rivals.[842]{284}

It is amusing to trace the change of Margaret's sentiments in her correspondence of this period with her brother. "Orange and Hoorne prove themselves, by word and by deed, enemies of God and the king."[843] Of Egmont she speaks no better. "With all his protestations of loyalty," she fears he is only plotting mischief to the state. "He has openly joined the Gueux, and his eldest daughter is reported to be a Huguenot."[844] Her great concern is for the safety of Viglius, "almost paralyzed by his fears, as the people actually threaten to tear him in pieces."[845] The factious lords conduct affairs according to their own pleasure in the council; and it is understood they are negotiating at the present moment to bring about a collision between the Protestants of Germany, France, and England, hoping in the end to drive the house of Austria from the throne, to shake off the yoke of Spain from the Netherlands, and divide the provinces among themselves and their friends![846] Margaret's credulity seems to have been in proportion to her hatred, and her hatred in proportion to her former friendship. So it was in her quarrel with Granvelle, and she now dealt the same measure to the men who had succeeded that minister in her confidence.

The prince of Orange cared little for the regent's estrangement. He had long felt that his own path lay wide asunder from that of the government, and, as we have seen, had more than once asked leave to resign his offices, and withdraw into private life. Hoorne viewed the matter with equal indifference. He had also asked leave to retire, complaining that his services had been poorly requited by the government. He was a man of a bold, impatient temper. In a letter to Philip he told him that it was not the regent, but his majesty, of whom he complained, for compelling him to undergo the annoyance of dancing attendance at the court of Brussels![847] He further added, that he had not discussed his conduct with the duchess, as it was not his way to treat of affairs of honor with ladies![848] There was certainly no want of plain-dealing in this communication with majesty.

Count Egmont took the coolness of the regent in a very different manner. It touched his honor, perhaps his vanity, to be thus excluded from her confidence. He felt it the more keenly as he was so loyal at heart, and strongly attached to the Romish faith. On the other hand, his generous nature was deeply sensible to the wrongs of his countrymen. Thus drawn in opposite directions, he took the middle course,—by no means the safest in politics. Under these opposite influences he remained in a state of dangerous irresolution. His sympathy with the cause of the confederates lost him the confidence of the government. His loyalty to the government excluded him from the councils of the confederates. And thus, though perhaps the most popular{285} man in the Netherlands, there was no one who possessed less real influence in public affairs.[849]


The tidings of the tumults in the Netherlands, which travelled with the usual expedition of evil news, caused as great consternation at the court of Castile as it had done at that of Brussels. Philip, on receiving his despatches, burst forth, it is said, into the most violent fit of anger, and, tearing his beard, he exclaimed, "It shall cost them dear; by the soul of my father I swear it, it shall cost them dear!"[850] The anecdote, often repeated, rests on the authority of Granvelle's correspondent, Morillon. If it be true, it affords a solitary exception to the habitual self-command—displayed in circumstances quite as trying—of the "prudent" monarch. The account given by Hopper, who was with the court at the time, is the more probable of the two. According to that minister, the king, when he received the tidings, lay ill of a tertian fever at Segovia. As letter after letter came to him with particulars of the tumult, he maintained his usual serenity, exhibiting no sign of passion or vexation. Though enfeebled by his malady, he allowed himself no repose, but gave unremitting attention to business.[851] He read all the despatches; made careful notes of their contents, sending such information as he deemed best to his council, for their consideration; and, as his health mended, occasionally attended in person the discussions of that body.

One can feel but little doubt as to the light in which the proceedings in the Netherlands were regarded by the royal council of Castile. Yet it did not throw the whole, or even the chief blame, on the iconoclasts. They were regarded as mere tools in the hands of the sectaries. The sectaries, on their part, were, it was said, moved by the confederates, on whom they leaned for protection. The confederates, in their turn, made common cause with the great lords, to whom many of them were bound by the closest ties of friendship and of blood. By this ingenious chain of reasoning, all were made responsible for the acts of violence; but the chief responsibility lay on the heads of the great nobles, on whom all in the last resort depended. It was against them that the public indignation should be directed, not against the meaner offenders, over whom alone the sword of justice had been hitherto suspended. But the king should dissemble his sentiments until he was in condition to call these great vassals to account for their misdeeds. All joined in beseeching Philip to defer no longer his visit to Flanders; and most of them recommended that he should go in such force as to look down opposition, and crush the rebellion in its birth.

Such was the counsel of Alva, in conformity with that which he had always given on the subject. But although all concurred in urging the king to expedite his departure, some of the councillors followed the prince of Eboli in advising Philip that, instead of this warlike panoply, he should go in peaceable{286} guise, accompanied only by such a retinue as befitted the royal dignity. Each of the great rivals recommended the measures most congenial with his own temper, the direction of which would no doubt be intrusted to the man who recommended them. It is not strange that the more violent course should have found favor with the majority.[852]

Philip's own decision he kept, as usual, locked in his own bosom. He wrote indeed to his sister, warning her not to allow the meeting of the legislature, and announcing his speedy coming,—all as usual; and he added, that, in repressing the disorders of the country, he should use no other means than those of gentleness and kindness, under the sanction of the states.[853] These gentle professions weighed little with those who, like the prince of Orange, had surer means of arriving at the king's intent than what were afforded by the royal correspondence. Montigny, the Flemish envoy, was still in Madrid, held there, sorely against his will, in a sort of honorable captivity by Philip. In a letter to his brother, Count Hoorne, he wrote: "Nothing can