The Rise of the Dutch Republic: A History - Vol. 3

By John Lothrop Motley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II.

Triumphal entrance of Don John into Brussels -- Reverse of the picture -- Analysis of the secret correspondence of Don John and Escovedo with Antonio Perez -- Plots against the Governor's liberty -- His desponding language and gloomy anticipations -- Recommendation of severe measures -- Position and principles of Orange and his family -- His private views on the question of peace and war -- His toleration to Catholics and Anabaptists censured by his friends -- Death of Viglius -- New mission from the Governor to Orange -- Details of the Gertruydenberg conferences -- Nature and results of these negotiations -- Papers exchanged between the envoys and Orange -- Peter Panis executed for heresy -- Three parties in the Netherlands -- Dissimulation of Don John -- His dread of capture.

As already narrated, the soldiery had retired definitely from the country at the end of April, after which Don John made his triumphal entrance into Brussels on the 1st of May. It was long since so festive a May-day had gladdened the hearts of Brabant. So much holiday magnificence had not been seen in the Netherlands for years. A solemn procession of burghers, preceded by six thousand troops, and garnished by the free companies of archers and musketeers, in their picturesque costumes, escorted the young prince along the streets of the capital. Don John was on horseback, wrapped in a long green cloak, riding between the Bishop of Liege and the Papal nuncio.1 He passed beneath countless triumphal arches. Banners waved before him, on which the battle of Lepanto and other striking scenes in his life were emblazoned. Minstrels sang verses, poets recited odes, rhetoric clubs enacted fantastic dramas in his honour, as he rode along. Young virgins crowned him with laurels. Fair women innumerable were clustered at every window, roof, and balcony, their bright robes floating like summer clouds above him. "Softly from those lovely clouds," says a gallant chronicler, "descended the gentle rain of flowers."2 Garlands were strewed before his feet, laurelled victory sat upon his brow. The same conventional enthusiasm and decoration which had characterised the holiday marches of a thousand conventional heroes were successfully produced. The proceedings began with the church, and ended with the banquet, the day was propitious, the populace pleased, and, after a brilliant festival, Don John of Austria saw himself Governor-General of the provinces.

Three days afterwards, the customary oaths, to be kept with the customary conscientiousness, were rendered at the Town House,3 and for a brief moment all seemed smiling and serene.

There was a reverse to the picture. In truth, no language can describe the hatred which Don John entertained for the Netherlands and all the inhabitants. He had come to the country only as a stepping-stone to the English throne, and he never spoke, in his private letters, of the provinces or the people but in terms of abhorrence. He was in a "Babylon of disgust," in a "hell," surrounded by "drunkards," "wine-skins," "scoundrels," and the like. From the moment of his arrival he had strained every nerve to retain the Spanish troops, and to send them away by sea when it should be no longer feasible to keep them. Escovedo shared in the sentiments, and entered fully into the schemes of his chief. The plot, the secret enterprise, was the great cause of the advent of Don John in the uncongenial clime of Flanders. It had been, therefore, highly important, in his estimation, to set, as soon as possible, about the

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1
Bor, x. 811. Meteren, vi. 120. Hoofd, xii. 500, sqq. Van d. Vynckt, ii. 233. Strada, ix. 433. Lettre de Barthelemi Liebart (avocat et bailli General de Tournay) me Mai 1577. -- "Estant le Sr. Dom Jean affublé d'un manteau de drap de couleur verd," etc. The Duke of Aerschot was magnificent as usual -- "Vestu d'un collet de velours rouge cremoisy brodé d'or," etc., etc. -- Ibid., apud Gachard, Documens Inédits concernant l'Histoire de la Belgique ( Bruxelles, 1833), i. 362-364.
2
"Een lieflyke reeghen uit zoo helde wolken." -- Hoofd, xii. 500.
3
Bor, x. 812. Meteren, vi. 120.

-675-

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The Rise of the Dutch Republic: A History - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • The Rise of the Dutch Republic 1
  • Part I - Philip the Second in the Netherlands 50
  • Chapter I 50
  • Chapter II 70
  • Chapter III 104
  • Part II - Administration of the Duchess Margaret. 1559-1567 116
  • Chapter I 116
  • Chapter II 137
  • Chapter III 164
  • Chapter IV 191
  • Chapter V 215
  • Chapter VI 242
  • Chapter VII 273
  • Chapter VIII 286
  • Chapter IX 300
  • Chapter X 322
  • Part III - Alva. 1567-1573 335
  • Chapter I 335
  • Chapter II 361
  • Chapter III 393
  • Chapter IV 406
  • Chapter V 424
  • Chapter VI 447
  • Chapter VII 470
  • Chapter VIII 494
  • Chapter IX 518
  • Note 543
  • Part IV - Administration of the Grand Commander 545
  • Chapter I 545
  • Chapter II 566
  • Chapter III 582
  • Chapter IV 608
  • Chapter V 623
  • Part V - Don John of Austria 648
  • Chapter I 648
  • Chapter II 675
  • Chapter III 696
  • Chapter IV 717
  • Chapter V 746
  • Part VI - Alexander of Parma 769
  • Chapter I 769
  • Chapter II 795
  • Chapter III 813
  • Chapter IV 827
  • Chapter V 848
  • Chapter VI 866
  • Chapter VII 887
  • Index 905
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