*Cession of the Netherlands by Philip II. of Spain to his daughter, Isabella-Clara-Eugenia, on condition of her marriage with the Archduke Albert. Madrid, May 6, 1598.
On May 6, 1598, Philip II., the dying king of Spain, signed two acts, a public and a private, conditionally ceding to his daughter Isabella, in anticipation of her marriage to the Archduke Albert of Austria, the old Burgundian dominions--the seventeen provinces of the Netherlands, and the counties of Burgundy and Charolais. The public act--part of which is printed below-- regulated the mode of succession to the principality; provided that in default of descendants from the "Archdukes" the territory should revert to the Spanish crown; that the principality should not be infeoffed or alienated without the consent of Spain; that a female ruler should marry the King of Spain, his son, or some one acceptable to the king, and that marriages of children of rulers should also be acceptable to the king; that future rulers must take an oath to hold to the Catholic faith; and that neither the rulers nor their subjects should trade in the East or West Indies. The private act1 stipulated that Spain should, at its discretion, keep Antwerp, Ghent, and some other strong places in the southern provinces, regulating and paying for their defense; and that the archdukes and their successors should persecute heretics and retain none but Catholics in their household or service.
By thus establishing a quasi-independent government in the Netherlands, Philip II. had hoped to induce the rebellious northern provinces to reunite with the southern.2 In August, 1598, the government at Brussels wrote to the States General at the Hague, urging them to reunion.3 Toward the end of 1598, the new King of Spain, Philip III., attempted to coerce the Dutch by closing to them the very profitable trade with Spain and Portugal; and about the same time the archdukes also prohibited commerce with the rebels.4 But the Dutch would be neither persuaded nor coerced into submission. In March, 1599, they responded to the overtures of the Brussels government by pointing out the disadvantageous character of the terms of Philip's cession,____________________