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The Revolt Of The Netherlands - Book 1. Earlier History Of The Netherlands Up To The 16th Century Continued Post by :alvinphk Category :Nonfictions Author :Frederich Schiller Date :May 2012 Read :3489

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The Revolt Of The Netherlands - Book 1. Earlier History Of The Netherlands Up To The 16th Century Continued


In the year 1491 the Hanseatic League held its solemn meetings in this town, which had formerly assembled in Lubeck alone. In 1531 the exchange was erected, at that time the most splendid in all Europe, and which fulfilled its proud inscription. The town now reckoned one hundred thousand inhabitants. The tide of human beings, which incessantly poured into it, exceeds all belief. Between two hundred and two hundred and fifty ships were often seen loading at one time in its harbor; no day passed on which the boats entering inwards and outwards did not amount to more than five hundred; on market days the number amounted to eight or nine hundred. Daily more than two hundred carriages drove through its gates; above two thousand loaded wagons arrived every week from Germany, France, and Lorraine, without reckoning the farmers' carts and corn-vans, which were seldom less than ten thousand in number. Thirty thousand hands were employed by the English company alone. The market dues, tolls, and excise brought millions to the government annually. We can form some idea of the resources of the nation from the fact that the extraordinary taxes which they were obliged to pay to Charles V. towards his numerous wars were computed at forty millions of gold ducats.

For this affluence the Netherlands were as much indebted to their liberty as to the natural advantages of their country. Uncertain laws and the despotic sway of a rapacious prince would quickly have blighted all the blessings which propitious nature had so abundantly lavished on them. The inviolable sanctity of the laws can alone secure to the citizen the fruits of his industry, and inspire him with that happy confidence which is the soul of all activity.

The genius of this people, developed by the spirit of commerce, and by the intercourse with so many nations, shone in useful inventions; in the lap of abundance and liberty all the noble arts were carefully cultivated and carried to perfection. From Italy, to which Cosmo de Medici had lately restored its golden age, painting, architecture, and the arts of carving and of engraving on copper, were transplanted into the Netherlands, where, in a new soil, they flourished with fresh vigor. The Flemish school, a daughter of the Italian, soon vied with its mother for the prize; and, in common with it, gave laws to the whole of Europe in the fine arts. The manufactures and arts, on which the Netherlanders principally founded their prosperity, and still partly base it, require no particular enumeration. The weaving of tapestry, oil painting, the art of painting on glass, even pocketwatches and sun-dials were, as Guicciardini asserts, originally invented in the Netherlands. To them we are indebted for the improvement of the compass, the points of which are still known by Flemish names. About the year 1430 the invention of typography is ascribed to Laurence Koster, of Haarlem; and whether or not he is entitled to this honorable distinction, certain it is that the Dutch were among the first to engraft this useful art among them; and fate ordained that a century later it should reward its country with liberty. The people of the Netherlands united with the most fertile genius for inventions a happy talent for improving the discoveries of others; there are probably few mechanical arts and manufactures which they did not either produce or at least carry to a higher degree of perfection.

Up to this time these provinces had formed the most enviable state in Europe. Not one of the Burgundian dukes had ventured to indulge a thought of overturning the constitution; it had remained sacred even to the daring spirit of Charles the Bold, while he was preparing fetters for foreign liberty. All these princes grew up with no higher hope than to be the heads of a republic, and none of their territories afforded them experience of a higher authority. Besides, these princes possessed nothing but what the Netherlands gave them; no armies but those which the nation sent into the field; no riches but what the estates granted to them. Now all was changed. The Netherlands had fallen to a master who had at his command other instruments and other resources, who could arm against them a foreign power.

(The unnatural union of two such different nations as the Belgians and Spaniards could not possibly be prosperous. I cannot here refrain from quoting the comparison which Grotius, in energetic language, has drawn between the two. "With the neighboring nations," says he, "the people of the Netherlands could easily maintain a good understanding, for they were of a similar origin with themselves, and had grown up in the same manner. But the people of Spain and of the Netherlands differed in almost every respect from one another, and therefore, when they were brought together clashed the more violently. Both had for many centuries been distinguished in war, only the latter had, in luxurious repose, become disused to arms, while the former had been inured to war in the Italian and African campaigns; the desire of gain made the Belgians more inclined to peace, but not less sensitive of offence. No people were more free from the lust of conquest, but none defended its own more zealously. Hence the numerous towns, closely pressed together in a confined tract of country; densely crowded with a foreign and native population; fortified near the sea and the great rivers. Hence for eight centuries after the northern immigration foreign arms could not prevail against them. Spain, on the contrary, often changed its masters; and when at last it fell into the hands of the Goths, its character and its manners had suffered more or less from each new conqueror. The people thus formed at last out of these several admixtures is described as patient in labor, imperturbable in danger, equally eager for riches and honor, proud of itself even to contempt of others, devout and grateful to strangers for any act of kindness, but also revengeful, and of such ungovernable passions in victory as so regard neither conscience nor honor in the case of an enemy. All this is foreign to the character of the Belgian, who is astute but not insidious, who, placed midway between France and Germany, combines in moderation the faults and good qualities of both. He is not easily to be imposed upon, nor is he to be insulted with impunity. In veneration for the Deity, too, he does not yield to the Spaniard; the arms of the Northmen could not make him apostatize from Christianity when he had once professed it. No opinion which the church condemns had, up to this time, empoisoned the purity of his faith. Nay, his pious extravagance went so far that it became requisite to curb by laws the rapacity of his clergy. In both people loyalty to their rulers is equally innate, with this difference, that the Belgian places the law above kings. Of all the Spaniards the Castilians require to be, governed with the most caution; but the liberties which they arrogate for themselves they do not willingly accord to others. Hence the difficult task to their common ruler, so to distribute his attention, and care between the two nations that neither the preference shown to the Castilian should offend the Belgian, nor the equal treatment of the Belgian affront the haughty spirit of the Castilian."--Grotii Annal. Belg. L. 1. 4. 5. seq.)

Charles V. was an absolute monarch in his Spanish dominions; in the Netherlands he was no more than the first citizen. In the southern portion of his empire he might have learned contempt for the rights of individuals; here he was taught to respect them. The more he there tasted the pleasures of unlimited power, and the higher he raised his opinion of his own greatness, the more reluctant he must have felt to descend elsewhere to the ordinary level of humanity, and to tolerate any check upon his arbitrary authority. It requires, indeed, no ordinary degree of virtue to abstain from warring against the power which imposes a curb on our most cherished wishes.

The superior power of Charles awakened at the same time in the Netherlands that distrust which always accompanies inferiority. Never were they so alive to their constitutional rights, never so jealous of the royal prerogative, or more observant in their proceedings. Under, his reign we see the most violent outbreaks of republican spirit, and the pretensions of the people carried to an excess which nothing but the increasing encroachments of the royal power could in the least justify. A Sovereign will always regard the freedom of the citizen as an alienated fief, which he is bound to recover. To the citizen the authority of a sovereign is a torrent, which, by its inundation, threatens to sweep away his rights. The Belgians sought to protect themselves against the ocean by embankments, and against their princes by constitutional enactments. The whole history of the world is a perpetually recurring struggle between liberty and the lust of power and possession; as the history of nature is nothing but the contest of the elements and organic bodies for space. The Netherlands soon found to their cost that they had become but a province of a great monarchy. So long as their former masters had no higher aim than to promote their prosperity, their condition resembled the tranquil happiness of a secluded family, whose head is its ruler. Charles V. introduced them upon the arena of the political world. They now formed a member of that gigantic body which the ambition of an individual employed as his instrument. They ceased to have their own good for their aim; the centre of their existence was transported to the soul of their ruler. As his whole government was but one tissue of plans and manoeuvres to advance his power, so it was, above all things, necessary that he should be completely master of the various limbs of his mighty empire in order to move them effectually and suddenly. It was impossible, therefore, for him to embarrass himself with the tiresome mechanism of their interior political organization, or to extend to their peculiar privileges the conscientious respect which their republican jealousy demanded. It was expedient for him to facilitate the exercise of their powers by concentration and unity. The tribunal at Malines had been under his predecessor an independent court of judicature; he subjected its decrees to the revision of a royal council, which he established in Brussels, and which was the mere organ of his will. He introduced foreigners into the most vital functions of their constitution, and confided to them the most important offices. These men, whose only support was the royal favor, would be but bad guardians of privileges which, moreover, were little known to them. The ever-increasing expenses of his warlike government compelled him as steadily to augment his resources. In disregard of their most sacred privileges he imposed new and strange taxes on the provinces. To preserve their olden consideration the estates were forced to grant what he had been so modest as not to extort; the whole history of the government of this monarch in the Netherlands is almost one continued list of imposts demanded, refused, and finally accorded. Contrary to the constitution, he introduced foreign troops into their territories, directed the recruiting of his armies in the provinces, and involved them in wars, which could not advance even if they did not injure their interest, and to which they had not given their consent. He punished the offences of a free state as a monarch; and the terrible chastisement of Ghent announced to the other provinces the great change which their constitution had already undergone.

The welfare of the country was so far secured as was necessary to the political schemes of its master; the intelligent policy of Charles would certainly not violate the salutary regiment of the body whose energies he found himself necessitated to exert. Fortunately, the opposite pursuits of selfish ambition, and of disinterested philanthropy, often bring about the same end; and the well-being of a state, which a Marcus Aurelius might propose to himself as a rational object of pursuit, is occasionally promoted by an Augustus or a Louis.

Charles V. was perfectly aware that commerce was the strength of the nation, and that the foundation of their commerce was liberty. He spared its liberty because he needed its strength. Of greater political wisdom, though not more just than his son, he adapted his principles to the exigencies of time and place, and recalled an ordinance in Antwerp and in Madrid which he would under other circumstances have enforced with all the terrors of his power. That which makes the reign of Charles V. particularly remarkable in regard to the Netherlands is the great religious revolution which occurred under it; and which, as the principal cause of the subsequent rebellion, demands a somewhat circumstantial notice. This it was that first brought arbitrary power into the innermost sanctuary of the constitution; taught it to give a dreadful specimen of its might; and, in a measure, legalized it, while it placed republican spirit on a dangerous eminence. And as the latter sank into anarchy and rebellion monarchical power rose to the height of despotism.

Nothing is more natural than the transition from civil liberty to religious freedom. Individuals, as well as communities, who, favored by a happy political constitution, have become acquainted with the rights of man, and accustomed to examine, if not also to create, the law which is to govern them; whose minds have been enlightened by activity, and feelings expanded by the enjoyments of life; whose natural courage has been exalted by internal security and prosperity; such men will not easily surrender themselves to the blind domination of a dull arbitrary creed, and will be the first to emancipate themselves from its yoke. Another circumstance, however, must have greatly tended to diffuse the new religion in these countries. Italy, it might be objected, the seat of the greatest intellectual culture, formerly the scene of the most violent political factions, where a burning climate kindles the blood with the wildest passions--Italy, among all the European countries, remained the freest from this change. But to a romantic people, whom a warm and lovely sky, a luxurious, ever young and ever smiling nature, and the multifarious witcheries of art, rendered keenly susceptible of sensuous enjoyment, that form of religion must naturally have been better adapted, which by its splendid pomp captivates the senses, by its mysterious enigmas opens an unbounded range to the fancy; and which, through the most picturesque forms, labors to insinuate important doctrines into the soul. On the contrary, to a people whom the ordinary employments of civil life have drawn down to an unpoetical reality, who live more in plain notions than in images, and who cultivate their common sense at the expense of their imagination--to such a people that creed will best recommend itself which dreads not investigation, which lays less stress on mysticism than on morals, and which is rather to be understood then to be dwelt upon in meditation. In few words, the Roman Catholic religion will, on the whole, be found more adapted to a nation of artists, the Protestant more fitted to a nation of merchants.

On this supposition the new doctrines which Luther diffused in Germany, and Calvin in Switzerland, must have found a congenial soil in the Netherlands. The first seeds of it were sown in the Netherlands by the Protestant merchants, who assembled at Amsterdam and Antwerp. The German and Swiss troops, which Charles introduced into these countries, and the crowd of French, German, and English fugitives who, under the protection of the liberties of Flanders, sought to escape the sword of persecution which threatened them at home, promoted their diffusion. A great portion of the Belgian nobility studied at that time at Geneva, as the University of Louvain was not yet in repute, and that of Douai not yet founded. The new tenets publicly taught there were transplanted by the students to their various countries. In an isolated people these first germs might easily have been crushed; but in the market-towns of Holland and Brabant, the resort of so many different nations, their first growth would escape the notice of government, and be accelerated under the veil of obscurity. A difference in opinion might easily spring up and gain ground amongst those who already were divided in national character, in manners, customs, and laws. Moreover, in a country where industry was the most lauded virtue, mendicity the most abhorred vice, a slothful body of men, like that of the monks, must have been an object of long and deep aversion. Hence, the new religion, which opposed these orders, derived an immense advantage from having the popular opinion on its side. Occasional pamphlets, full of bitterness and satire, to which the newly-discovered art of printing secured a rapid circulation, and several bands of strolling orators, called Rederiker, who at that time made the circuit of the provinces, ridiculing in theatrical representations or songs the abuses of their times, contributed not a little to diminish respect for the Romish Church, and to prepare the people for the reception of the new dogmas.

The first conquests of this doctrine were astonishingly rapid. The number of those who in a short time avowed themselves its adherents, especially in the northern provinces, was prodigious; but among these the foreigners far outnumbered the natives. Charles V., who, in this hostile array of religious tenets, had taken the side which a despot could not fail to take, opposed to the increasing torrent of innovation the most effectual remedies. Unhappily for the reformed religion political justice was on the side of its persecutor. The dam which, for so many centuries, had repelled human understanding from truth was too suddenly torn away for the outbreaking torrent not to overflow its appointed channel. The reviving spirit of liberty and of inquiry, which ought to have remained within the limits of religious questions, began also to examine into the rights of kings. While in the commencement iron fetters were justly broken off, a desire was eventually shown to rend asunder the most legitimate and most indispensable of ties. Even the Holy Scriptures, which were now circulated everywhere, while they imparted light and nurture to the sincere inquirer after truth, were the source also whence an eccentric fanaticism contrived to extort the virulent poison. The good cause had been compelled to choose the evil road of rebellion, and the result was what in such cases it ever will be so long as men remain men. The bad cause, too, which had nothing in common with the good but the employment of illegal means, emboldened by this slight point of connection, appeared in the same company, and was mistaken for it. Luther had written against the invocation of saints; every audacious varlet who broke into the churches and cloisters, and plundered the altars, called himself Lutheran. Faction, rapine, fanaticism, licentiousness robed themselves in his colors; the most enormous offenders, when brought before the judges, avowed themselves his followers. The Reformation had drawn down the Roman prelate to a level with fallible humanity; an insane band, stimulated by hunger and want, sought to annihilate all distinction of ranks. It was natural that a doctrine, which to the state showed itself only in its most unfavorable aspect, should not have been able to reconcile a monarch who had already so many reasons to extirpate it; and it is no wonder, therefore, that be employed against it the arms it had itself forced upon him.

Charles must already have looked upon himself as absolute in the Netherlands since he did not think it necessary to extend to these countries the religious liberty which he had accorded to Germany. While, compelled by the effectual resistance of the German princes, he assured to the former country a free exercise of the new religion, in the latter he published the most cruel edicts for its repression. By these the reading of the Evangelists and Apostles; all open or secret meetings to which religion gave its name in ever so slight a degree; all conversations on the subject, at home or at the table, were forbidden under severe penalties. In every province special courts of judicature were established to watch over the execution of the edicts. Whoever held these erroneous opinions was to forfeit his office without regard to his rank. Whoever should be convicted of diffusing heretical doctrines, or even of simply attending the secret meetings of the Reformers, was to be condemned to death, and if a male, to be executed by the sword, if a female, buried alive. Backsliding heretics were to be committed to the flames. Not even the recantation of the offender could annul these appalling sentences. Whoever abjured his errors gained nothing by his apostacy but at farthest a milder kind of death.

The fiefs of the condemned were also confiscated, contrary to the privileges of the nation, which permitted the heir to redeem them for a trifling fine; and in defiance of an express and valuable privilege of the citizens of Holland, by which they were not to be tried out of their province, culprits were conveyed beyond the limits of the native judicature, and condemned by foreign tribunals. Thus did religion guide the hand of despotism to attack with its sacred weapon, and without danger or opposition, the liberties which were inviolable to the secular arm.

Charles V., emboldened by the fortunate progress of his arms in Germany, thought that he might now venture on everything, and seriously meditated the introduction of the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands. But the terror of its very name alone reduced commerce in Antwerp to a standstill. The principal foreign merchants prepared to quit the city. All buying and selling ceased, the value of houses fell, the employment of artisans stopped. Money disappeared from the hands of the citizen. The ruin of that flourishing commercial city was inevitable had not Charles V. listened to the representations of the Duchess of Parma, and abandoned this perilous resolve. The tribunal, therefore, was ordered not to interfere with the foreign merchants, and the title of Inquisitor was changed unto the milder appellation of Spiritual Judge. But in the other provinces that tribunal proceeded to rage with the inhuman despotism which has ever been peculiar to it. It has been computed that during the reign of Charles V. fifty thousand persons perished by the hand of the executioner for religion alone.

When we glance at the violent proceedings of this monarch we are quite at a loss to comprehend what it was that kept the rebellion within bounds during his reign, which broke out with so much violence under his successor. A closer investigation will clear up this seeming anomaly. Charles's dreaded supremacy in Europe had raised the commerce of the Netherlands to a height which it had never before attained. The majesty of his name opened all harbors, cleared all seas for their vessels, and obtained for them the most favorable commercial treaties with foreign powers. Through him, in particular, they destroyed the dominion of the Hanse towns in the Baltic. Through him, also, the New World, Spain, Italy, Germany, which now shared with them a common ruler, were, in a measure, to be considered as provinces of their own country, and opened new channels for their commerce. He had, moreover, united the remaining six provinces with the hereditary states of Burgundy, and thus given to them an extent and political importance which placed them by the side of the first kingdoms of Europe.

(He had, too, at one time the intention of raising it to a kingdom; but the essential points of difference between the provinces, which extended from constitution and manners to measures and weights, soon made him abandon this design. More important was the service which he designed them in the Burgundian treaty, which settled its relation to the German empire. According to this treaty the seventeen provinces were to contribute to the common wants of the German empire twice as much as an electoral prince; in case of a Turkish war three times as much; in return for which, however, they were to enjoy the powerful protection of this empire, and not to be injured in any of their various privileges. The revolution, which under Charles' son altered the political constitution of the provinces, again annulled this compact, which, on account of the trifling advantage that it conferred, deserves no further notice.)

By all this he flattered the national pride of this people. Moreover, by the incorporation of Gueldres, Utrecht, Friesland, and Groningen with these provinces, he put an end to the private wars which had so long disturbed their commerce; an unbroken internal peace now allowed them to enjoy the full fruits of their industry. Charles was therefore a benefactor of this people. At the same time, the splendor of his victories dazzled their eyes; the glory of their sovereign, which was reflected upon them also, had bribed their republican vigilance; while the awe-inspiring halo of invincibility which encircled the conqueror of Germany, France, Italy, and Africa terrified the factious. And then, who knows not on how much may venture the man, be he a private individual or a prince, who has succeeded in enchaining the admiration of his fellow-creatures! His repeated personal visits to these lands, which he, according to his own confession, visited as often as ten different times, kept the disaffected within bounds; the constant exercise of severe and prompt justice maintained the awe of the royal power. Finally, Charles was born in the Netherlands, and loved the nation in whose lap he had grown up. Their manners pleased him, the simplicity of their character and social intercourse formed for him a pleasing recreation from the severe Spanish gravity. He spoke their language, and followed their customs in his private life. The burdensome ceremonies which form the unnatural barriers between king and people were banished from Brussels. No jealous foreigner debarred natives from access to their prince; their way to him was through their own countrymen, to whom he entrusted his person. He spoke much and courteously with them; his deportment was engaging, his discourse obliging. These simple artifices won for him their love, and while his armies trod down their cornfields, while his rapacious imposts diminished their property, while his governors oppressed, his executioners slaughtered, he secured their hearts by a friendly demeanor.

Gladly would Charles have seen this affection of the nation for himself descend upon his son. On this account he sent for him in his youth from Spain, and showed him in Brussels to his future subjects. On the solemn day of his abdication he recommended to him these lands as the richest jewel in his crown, and earnestly exhorted him to respect their laws and privileges.

Philip II. was in all the direct opposite of his father. As ambitious as Charles, but with less knowledge of men and of the rights of man, he had formed to himself a notion of royal authority which regarded men as simply the servile instruments of despotic will, and was outraged by every symptom of liberty. Born in Spain, and educated under the iron discipline of the monks, he demanded of others the same gloomy formality and reserve as marked his own character. The cheerful merriment of his Flemish subjects was as uncongenial to his disposition and temper as their privileges were offensive to his imperious will. He spoke no other language but the Spanish, endured none but Spaniards about his person, and obstinately adhered to all their customs. In vain did the loyal ingenuity of the Flemish towns through which he passed vie with each other in solemnizing his arrival with costly festivities.

(The town of Antwerp alone expended on an occasion of this kind two hundred and sixty thousand gold florins.)

Philip's eye remained dark; all the profusion of magnificence, all the loud and hearty effusions of the sincerest joy could not win from him one approving smile.

Charles entirely missed his aim by presenting his son to the Flemings. They might eventually have endured his yoke with less impatience if he had never set his foot in their land. But his look forewarned them what they had to expect; his entry into Brussels lost him all hearts. The Emperor's gracious affability with his people only served to throw a darker shade on the haughty gravity of his son. They read in his countenance the destructive purpose against their liberties which, even then, he already revolved in his breast. Forewarned to find in him a tyrant they were forearmed to resist him.

The throne of the Netherlands was the first which Charles V. abdicated. Before a solemn convention in Brussels he absolved the States-General of their oath, and transferred their allegiance to King Philip, his son. "If my death," addressing the latter, as he concluded, "had placed you in possession of these countries, even in that case so valuable a bequest would have given me great claims on your gratitude. But now that of my free will I transfer them to you, now that I die in order to hasten your enjoyment of them, I only require of you to pay to the people the increased obligation which the voluntary surrender of my dignity lays upon you. Other princes esteem it a peculiar felicity to bequeath to their children the crown which death is already ravishing from then. This happiness I am anxious to enjoy during my life. I wish to be a spectator of your reign. Few will follow my example, as few have preceded me in it. But this my deed will be praised if your future life should justify my expectations, if you continue to be guided by that wisdom which you have hitherto evinced, if you remain inviolably attached to the pure faith which is the main pillar of your throne. One thing more I have to add: may Heaven grant you also a son, to whom you may transmit your power by choice, and not by necessity."

After the Emperor had concluded his address Philip kneeled down before him, kissed his hand, and received his paternal blessing. His eyes for the last time were moistened with a tear. All present wept. It was an hour never to be forgotten.

This affecting farce was soon followed by another. Philip received the homage of the assembled states. He took the oath administered in the following words: "I, Philip, by the grace of God, Prince of Spain, of the two Sicilies, etc., do vow and swear that I will be a good and just lord in these countries, counties, and duchies, etc.; that I will well and truly hold, and cause to be held, the privileges and liberties of all the nobles, towns, commons, and subjects which have been conferred upon them by my predecessors, and also the customs, usages and rights which they now have and enjoy, jointly and severally, and, moreover, that I will do all that by law and right pertains to a good and just prince and lord, so help me God and all His Saints."

The alarm which the arbitrary government of the Emperor had inspired, and the distrust of his son, are already visible in the formula of this oath, which was drawn up in far more guarded and explicit terms than that which had been administered to Charles V. himself and all the Dukes in Burgundy. Philip, for instance, was compelled to swear to the maintenance of their customs and usages, what before his time had never been required. In the oath which the states took to him no other obedience was promised than such as should be consistent with the privileges of the country. His officers then were only to reckon on submission and support so long as they legally discharged the duties entrusted to them. Lastly, in this oath of allegiance, Philip is simply styled the natural, the hereditary prince, and not, as the Emperor had desired, sovereign or lord; proof enough how little confidence was placed in the justice and liberality of the new sovereign.

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The Revolt Of The Netherlands - Philip II., Ruler Of The Netherlands The Revolt Of The Netherlands - Philip II., Ruler Of The Netherlands

The Revolt Of The Netherlands - Philip II., Ruler Of The Netherlands
Philip II. received the lordship of the Netherlands in the brightest period of their prosperity. He was the first of their princes who united them all under his authority. They now consisted of seventeen provinces; the duchies of Brabant, Limburg, Luxembourg, and Gueldres, the seven counties of Artois, Hainault, Flanders, Namur, Zutphen, Holland, and Zealand, the margravate of Antwerp, and the five lordships of Friesland, Mechlin (Malines), Utrecht, Overyssel, and Groningen, which, collectively, formed a great and powerful state able to contend with monarchies. Higher than it then stood their commerce could not rise. The sources of their wealth were above

The Revolt Of The Netherlands - Book 1. Earlier History Of The Netherlands Up To The 16th Century The Revolt Of The Netherlands - Book 1. Earlier History Of The Netherlands Up To The 16th Century

The Revolt Of The Netherlands - Book 1. Earlier History Of The Netherlands Up To The 16th Century
BOOK I. EARLIER HISTORY OF THE NETHERLANDS UP TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURYBefore we consider the immediate history of this great revolution, it will be advisable to go a few steps back into the ancient records of the country, and to trace the origin of that constitution which we find it possessed of at the time of this remarkable change. The first appearance of this people in the history of the world is the moment of its fall; their conquerors first gave them a political existence. The extensive region which is bounded by Germany on the east, on the south by France,