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|Title: The Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1563-64||1|
|MOTLEY’S HISTORY OF THE NETHERLANDS, PG EDITION, VOLUME 8.||1|
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Author: John Lothrop Motley
Release Date: January, 2004 [EBook #4808] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on March 12, 2002]
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THE RISE OF THE DUTCH REPUBLIC
John Lothrop Motley, D.C.L., LL.D.
1563-1564 [Chapter IV.]
Joint letter to Philip, from Orange, Egmont, and Horn—Egmont’s quarrel with Aerschot and with Aremberg—Philip’s answer to the three nobles—His instructions to the Duchess—Egmont declines the King’s invitation to visit Spain—Second letter of the three seigniors—Mission of Armenteros—Letter of Alva—Secret letters of Granvelle to Philip—The Cardinal’s insinuations and instructions— His complaints as to the lukewarmness of Berghen and Montigny in the cause of the inquisition—Anecdotes to their discredit privately chronicled by Granvelle—Supposed necessity for the King’s presence in the provinces—Correspondence of Lazarus Schwendi—Approaching crisis—Anxiety of Granvelle to retire—Banquet of Caspar Schetz— Invention of the foolscap livery—Correspondence of the Duchess and of the Cardinal with Philip upon the subject—Entire withdrawal of the three seigniors from the state council—the King advises with Alva concerning the recall of Granvelle—Elaborate duplicity of Philip’s arrangements—His secret note to the Cardinal—His dissembling letters to others—Departure of Granvelle from the Netherlands—Various opinions as to its cause—Ludicrous conduct of Brederode and Hoogstraaten—Fabulous statements in Granvelle’s correspondence concerning his recall—Universal mystification—The Cardinal deceived by the King—Granvelle in retirement—His epicureanism—Fears in the provinces as to his return—Universal joy at his departure—Representations to his discredit made by the Duchess to Philip—Her hypocritical letters to the Cardinal— Masquerade at Count Mansfeld’s—Chantonnay’s advice to his brother— Review of Granvelle’s administration and estimate of his character.
On the 11th March, 1563, Orange, Horn, and Egmont united in a remarkable letter to the King. They said that as their longer “taciturnity” might cause the ruin of his Majesty’s affairs,
The gentlemen who sent the letter were annoyed at the premature publicity which it seemed to have attained. Orange had in vain solicited Count Aremberg to join the league, and had quarrelled with him in consequence. Egmont, in the presence of Madame de Parma, openly charged Aremberg with having divulged the secret which had been confided to him. The Count fiercely denied that he had uttered a syllable on the subject to a human being; but added that any communication on his part would have been quite superfluous, while Egmont and his friends were daily boasting of what they were to accomplish. Egmont reiterated the charge of a breach of faith by Aremberg. That nobleman replied by laying his hand upon his sword, denouncing as liars all persons who should dare to charge him again with such an offence, and offering to fight out the quarrel upon the instant. Here, again, personal combat was, with much difficulty, averted.
Egmont, rude, reckless, and indiscreet, was already making manifest that he was more at home on a battle-field than in a political controversy where prudence and knowledge of human nature were as requisite as courage. He was at this period more liberal in his sentiments than at any moment of his life. Inflamed by his hatred of Granvelle, and determined to compass the overthrow of that minister, he conversed freely with all kinds of people, sought popularity among the burghers, and descanted to every one with much imprudence upon the necessity of union for the sake of liberty and the national good. The Regent, while faithfully recording in her despatches every thing of this nature which reached her ears, expressed her astonishment at Egmont’s course, because, as she had often taken occasion to inform the King, she had always considered the Count most sincerely attached to his Majesty’s service.
Berlaymont, the only other noble of prominence who did not approve the 11th of March letter, was at this period attempting to “swim in two waters,” and, as usual in such cases, found it very difficult to keep himself afloat. He had refused to join the league, but he stood aloof from Granvelle. On a hope held out by the seigniors that his son should be made Bishop of Liege, he had ceased during a whole year from visiting the Cardinal, and had never spoken to him at the council-board. Granvelle, in narrating these circumstances to the King, expressed the opinion that Berlaymont, by thus attempting to please both parties, had thoroughly discredited himself with both.
The famous epistle, although a most reasonable and manly statement of an incontrovertible fact, was nevertheless a document which it required much boldness to sign. The minister at that moment seemed omnipotent, and it was obvious that the King was determined upon a course of political and religious absolutism. It is, therefore, not surprising that, although many sustained its principles, few were willing to affix their names to a paper which might prove a death-warrant to the signers. Even Montigny and Berghen, although they had been active in conducting the whole cabal, if cabal it could be called, refused to subscribe the letter. Egmont and Horn were men of reckless daring, but they were not keen-sighted enough to perceive fully the consequences of their acts.
Orange was often accused by his enemies of timidity, but no man ever doubted his profound capacity to look quite through the deeds of men. His political foresight enabled him to measure the dangerous precipice which they were deliberately approaching, while the abyss might perhaps be shrouded to the vision of his companions. He was too tranquil of nature to be hurried, by passions into a grave political step, which in cooler moments he might regret. He resolutely, therefore, and with his eyes open, placed himself in open and recorded enmity with the most powerful and dangerous man in the whole Spanish realm, and incurred the resentment of a King who never forgave. It may be safely averred that as much courage was requisite thus to confront a cold and malignant despotism, and to maintain afterwards, without flinching, during a whole lifetime, the cause of national rights and liberty of conscience, as to head the most brilliant charge of cavalry that ever made hero famous.
Philip answered the letter of the three nobles on the 6th June following. In this reply, which was brief, he acknowledged the zeal and affection by which the writers had been actuated. He suggested, nevertheless, that, as they had mentioned no particular cause for adopting the advice contained in their letter, it would be better that one of them should come to Madrid to confer with him. Such matters, he said, could be better treated by word of mouth. He might thus receive sufficient information to enable him to form a decision, for, said he in conclusion, it was not his custom to aggrieve any of his ministers without cause.
This was a fine phrase, but under the circumstances of its application, quite ridiculous. There was no question of aggrieving the minister. The letter of the three nobles was very simple. It consisted of a fact and a deduction. The fact stated was, that the Cardinal was odious to all classes of the nation. The deduction drawn was, that the government could no longer be carried on by him without imminent danger of ruinous convulsions. The fact was indisputable. The person most interested confirmed it in his private letters. “’Tis said,” wrote Granvelle to Philip, “that grandees, nobles, and people, all abhor me, nor am I surprised to find that grandees, nobles, and people are all openly against me, since each and all have been invited to join in the league.” The Cardinal’s reasons for the existence of the unpopularity, which he admitted to the full, have no bearing upon the point in the letter. The fact was relied upon to sustain a simple, although a momentous inference. It was for Philip to decide upon the propriety of the deduction, and to abide by the consequences of his resolution when taken. As usual, however, the monarch was not capable of making up his mind. He knew very well that the Cardinal was odious and infamous, because he was the willing impersonation of the royal policy. Philip was, therefore, logically called upon to abandon the policy or to sustain the minister. He could make up his mind to do neither the one nor the other. In the mean time a well-turned period of mock magnanimity had been furnished him. This he accordingly transmitted as his first answer to a most important communication upon a subject which, in the words of the writers, “admitted neither of dissimulation nor delay.” To deprive Philip of dissimulation and delay, however, was to take away his all. They were the two weapons with which he fought his long life’s battle. They summed up the whole of his intellectual resources. It was inevitable, therefore, that he should at once have recourse to both on such an emergency as the present one.
At the same time that he sent his answer to the nobles, he wrote an explanatory letter to the Regent. He informed her that he had received the communication of the three seigniors, but instructed her that she was to appear to know nothing of the matter until Egmont should speak to her upon the subject. He added that, although he had signified his wish to the three nobles, that one of them, without specifying which, should come to Madrid, he in reality desired that Egmont, who seemed the most tractable of the three, should be the one deputed. The King added, that his object was to divide the nobles, and to gain time.
It was certainly superfluous upon Philip’s part to inform his sister that his object was to gain time. Procrastination was always his first refuge, as if the march of the world’s events would pause indefinitely while he sat in his cabinet and pondered. It was, however, sufficiently puerile to recommend to his sister an affectation of ignorance on a subject concerning which nobles had wrangled, and almost drawn their swords in her presence. This, however, was the King’s statesmanship when left to his unaided exertions. Granvelle, who was both Philip and Margaret when either had to address or to respond to the world at large, did not always find it necessary to regulate the correspondence of his puppets between themselves. In order more fully to divide the nobles, the King also transmitted to Egmont a private note, in his own handwriting, expressing his desire that he should visit Spain in person, that they might confer together upon the whole subject.
These letters, as might be supposed, produced any thing but a satisfactory effect. The discontent and rage of the gentlemen who had written or sustained the 11th of March communication, was much increased. The answer was, in truth, no answer at all. “’Tis a cold and bad reply,” wrote Louis of Nassau, “to send after so long a delay. ’Tis easy to see that the letter came from the Cardinal’s smithy. In summa it is a vile business, if the gentlemen are all to be governed by one person. I hope to God his power will come soon to an end. Nevertheless,” added Louis, “the gentlemen are all wide awake, for they trust the red fellow not a bit more than he deserves.”
The reader has already seen that the letter was indeed “from the Cardinal’s smithy,” Granvelle having instructed his master how to reply to the seigniors before the communication had been despatched.
The Duchess wrote immediately to inform her brother that Egmont had expressed himself willing enough to go to Spain, but had added that he must first consult Orange and Horn. As soon as that step had been taken, she had been informed that it was necessary for them to advise with all the gentlemen who had sanctioned their letter. The Duchess had then tried in vain to prevent such an assembly, but finding that, even if forbidden, it would still take place, she had permitted the meeting in Brussels, as she could better penetrate into their proceedings there, than if it should be held at a distance. She added, that she should soon send her secretary Armenteros to Spain, that the King might be thoroughly acquainted with what was occurring.
Egmont soon afterwards wrote to Philip, declining to visit Spain expressly on account of the Cardinal. He added, that he was ready to undertake the journey, should the King command his presence for any other object. The same decision was formally communicated to the Regent by those Chevaliers of the Fleece who had approved the 11th of March letter —Montigny; Berghen, Meghem, Mansfeld, Ligne, Hoogstraaten, Orange, Egmont, and Horn. The Prince of Orange, speaking in the name of all, informed her that they did not consider it consistent with their reputation, nor with the interest of his Majesty, that any one of them should make so long and troublesome a journey, in order to accuse the Cardinal. For any other purpose, they all held themselves ready to go to Spain at once. The Duchess expressed her regret at this resolution. The Prince replied by affirming that, in all their proceedings, they had been governed, not by hatred of Granvelle but by a sense of duty to his Majesty. It was now, he added, for the King to pursue what course it pleased him.
Four days after this interview with the Regent, Orange, Egmont, and Horn addressed a second letter to the King. In this communication they stated that they had consulted with all the gentlemen with whose approbation their first letter had been written. As to the journey of one of them to Spain,—as suggested, they pronounced it very dangerous for any seignior to absent himself, in the condition of affairs which then existed. It was not a sufficient cause to go thither on account of Granvelle. They disclaimed any intention of making themselves parties to a process against the Cardinal. They had thought that their simple, brief announcement would have sufficed to induce his Majesty to employ that personage in other places, where his talents would be more fruitful. As to “aggrieving the Cardinal without cause,” there was no question of aggrieving him at all, but of relieving him of an office which could not remain in his hands without disaster. As to “no particular cause having been mentioned,” they said the omission was from no lack of many such. They had charged none, however, because, from their past services and their fidelity to his Majesty, they expected to be believed on their honor, without further witnesses or evidence. They had no intention of making themselves accusers. They had purposely abstained from specifications. If his Majesty should proceed to ampler information, causes enough would be found. It was better, however, that they should be furnished by others than by themselves. His Majesty would then find that the public and general complaint was not without adequate motives. They renewed their prayer to be excused from serving in the council of state, in order that they might not be afterwards inculpated for the faults of others. Feeling that the controversy between themselves and the Cardinal de Granvelle in the state council produced no fruit for his Majesty’s affairs, they preferred to yield to him. In conclusion, they begged the King to excuse the simplicity of their letters, the rather that they were not by nature great orators, but more accustomed to do well than to speak well, which was also more becoming to persons of their quality.
On the 4th of August, Count Horn also addressed a private letter to the King, written in the same spirit as that which characterized the joint letter just cited. He assured his Majesty that the Cardinal could render no valuable service to the crown on account of the hatred which the whole nation bore him, but that, as far as regarded the maintenance of the ancient religion, all the nobles were willing to do their duty.
The Regent now despatched, according to promise, her private secretary, Thomas de Armenteros, to Spain. His instructions, which were very elaborate, showed that Granvelle was not mistaken when he charged her with being entirely changed in regard to him, and when he addressed her a reproachful letter, protesting his astonishment that his conduct had become auspicious, and his inability to divine the cause of the weariness and dissatisfaction which she manifested in regard to him.
Armenteros, a man of low, mercenary, and deceitful character, but a favorite of the Regent, and already beginning to acquire that influence over her mind which was soon to become so predominant, was no friend of the Cardinal. It was not probable that he would diminish the effect of that vague censure mingled with faint commendation, which characterized Margaret’s instructions by any laudatory suggestions of his own. He was directed to speak in general terms of the advance of heresy, and the increasing penury of the exchequer. He was to request two hundred thousand crowns toward the lottery, which the Regent proposed to set up as a financial scheme. He was to represent that the Duchess had tried, unsuccessfully, every conceivable means of accommodating the quarrel between the Cardinal and the seigniors. She recognized Granvelle’s great capacity, experience, zeal, and devotion—for all which qualities she made much of him—while on the other hand she felt that it would be a great inconvenience, and might cause a revolt of the country, were she to retain him in the Netherlands against the will of the seigniors. These motives had compelled her, the messenger was to add, to place both views of the subject before the eyes of the King. Armenteros was, furthermore, to narrate the circumstances of the interviews which had recently taken place between herself and the leaders of the opposition party.
From the tenor of these instructions, it was sufficiently obvious that Margaret of Parma was not anxious to retain the Cardinal, but that, on the contrary, she was beginning already to feel alarm at the dangerous position in which she found herself. A few days after the three nobles had despatched their last letter to the King, they had handed her a formal remonstrance. In this document they stated their conviction that the country was on the high road to ruin, both as regarded his Majesty’s service and the common weal. The bare, the popular discontent daily increasing, the fortresses on the frontier in a dilapidated condition.
After this remonstrance had been delivered, the Prince of Orange, Count Horn, and Count Egmont abstained entirely from the sessions of the state council. She was left alone with the Cardinal, whom she already hated, and with his two shadows, Viglius and Berlaymont.
Armenteros, after a month spent on his journey, arrived in Spain, and was soon admitted to an audience by Philip. In his first interview, which lasted four hours, he read to the King all the statements and documents with which he had come provided, and humbly requested a prompt decision. Such a result was of course out of the question. Moreover, the Cortes of Tarragon, which happened then to be in session, and which required the royal attention, supplied the monarch with a fresh excuse for indulging in his habitual vacillation. Meantime, by way of obtaining additional counsel in so grave an emergency, he transmitted the letters of the nobles, together with the other papers, to the Duke of Alva, and requested his opinion on the subject. Alva replied with the roar of a wild beast, “Every time,” he wrote, “that I see the despatches of those three Flemish seigniors my rage is so much excited that if I did not use all possible efforts to restrain it, my sentiments would seem those of a madman.” After this splenitive exordium he proceeded to express the opinion that all the hatred and complaints against the Cardinal had arisen from his opposition to the convocation of the states-general. With regard to persons who had so richly deserved such chastisement, he recommended “that their heads should be taken off; but, until this could be done, that the King should dissemble with them.” He advised Philip not to reply to their letters, but merely to
Here, at least, was a man who knew his own mind. Here was a servant who could be relied upon to do his master’s bidding whenever this master should require his help. The vigorous explosion of wrath with which the Duke thus responded to the first symptoms of what he regarded as rebellion, gave a feeble intimation of the tone which he would assume when that movement should have reached a more advanced stage. It might be guessed what kind of remedies he would one day prescribe in place of the “mild medicines” in which he so reluctantly acquiesced for the present.
While this had been the course pursued by the seigniors, the Regent and the King, in regard to that all-absorbing subject of Netherland politics —the straggle against Granvelle—the Cardinal, in his letters to Philip, had been painting the situation by minute daily touches, in a manner of which his pencil alone possessed the secret.
Still maintaining the attitude of an injured but forgiving Christian, he spoke of the nobles in a tone of gentle sorrow. He deprecated any rising of the royal wrath in his behalf; he would continue to serve the gentlemen, whether they would or no; he was most anxious lest any considerations on his account should interfere with the King’s decision in regard to the course to be pursued in the Netherlands. At the same time, notwithstanding these general professions of benevolence towards the nobles, he represented them as broken spendthrifts, wishing to create general confusion in order to escape from personal liabilities; as conspirators who had placed themselves within the reach of the attorney-general; as ambitious malcontents who were disposed to overthrow the royal authority, and to substitute an aristocratic republic upon its ruins. He would say nothing to prejudice the King’s mind against these gentlemen, but he took care to omit nothing which could possibly accomplish that result. He described them as systematically opposed to the policy which he knew lay nearest the King’s heart, and as determined to assassinate the faithful minister who was so resolutely carrying it out, if his removal could be effected in no other way. He spoke of the state of religion as becoming more and more unsatisfactory, and bewailed the difficulty with which he could procure the burning of heretics; difficulties originating in the reluctance of men from whose elevated rank better things might have been expected.
As Granvelle is an important personage, as his character has been alternately the subject of much censure and of more applause, and as the epoch now described was the one in which the causes of the great convulsion were rapidly germinating, it is absolutely necessary that the reader should be placed in a position to study the main character, as painted by his own hand; the hand in which were placed, at that moment, the destinies of a mighty empire. It is the historian’s duty, therefore, to hang the picture of his administration fully in the light. At the moment when the 11th of March letter was despatched, the Cardinal represented Orange and Egmont as endeavoring by every method of menace or blandishment to induce all the grand seigniors and petty nobles to join in the league against himself. They had quarrelled with Aerschot and Aremberg, they had more than half seduced Berlaymont, and they stigmatized all who refused to enter into their league as cardinalists and familiars of the inquisition. He protested that he should regard their ill-will with indifference, were he not convinced that he was himself only a pretext, and that their designs were really much deeper. Since the return of Montigny, the seigniors had established a league which that gentleman and his brother, Count Horn, had both joined. He would say nothing concerning the defamatory letters and pamphlets of which he was the constant object, for he wished no heed taken of matters which concerned exclusively himself, Notwithstanding this disclaimer, however, he rarely omitted to note the appearance of all such productions for his Majesty’s especial information. “It was better to calm men’s spirits,” he said, “than to excite them.” As to fostering quarrels among the seigniors, as the King had recommended, that was hardly necessary, for discord was fast sowing its own seeds. “It gave him much pain,” he said, with a Christian sigh, “to observe that such dissensions had already arisen, and unfortunately on his account.” He then proceeded circumstantially to describe the quarrel between Aerschot and Egmont, already narrated by the Regent, omitting in his statement no particular which could make Egmont reprehensible in the royal eyes. He likewise painted the quarrel between the same noble and Aremberg, to which he had already alluded in previous letters to the King, adding that many gentlemen, and even the more prudent part of the people, were dissatisfied with the course of the grandees, and that he was taking underhand but dexterous means to confirm them in such sentiments. He instructed Philip how to reply to the letter addressed to him, but begged his Majesty not to hesitate to sacrifice him if the interests of his crown should seem to require it.
With regard to religious matters, he repeatedly deplored that, notwithstanding his own exertions and those of Madame de Parma, things were not going on as he desired, but, on the contrary, very badly” For the-love of God and the service of the holy religion,” he cried out fervently, “put your royal hand valiantly to the work, otherwise we have only to exclaim, Help, Lord, for we perish!”
Having uttered this pious exhortation in the ear of a man who needed no stimulant in the path of persecution, he proceeded to express his regrets that the judges and other officers were not taking in hand the chastisement of heresy with becoming vigor.
Yet, at that very moment Peter Titelmann was raging through Flanders, tearing whole families out of bed and burning them to ashes, with such utter disregard to all laws or forms as to provoke in the very next year a solemn protest from the four estates of Flanders; and Titelmann was but one of a dozen inquisitors.
Granvelle, however, could find little satisfaction in the exertions of subordinates so long as men in high station were remiss in their duties. The Marquis Berghen, he informed Philip, showed but little disposition to put down heresy, in Valenciennes, while Montigny was equally remiss at Tournay. They were often heard to say, to any who chose to listen, that it was not right to inflict the punishment of death for matters of religion. This sentiment, uttered in that age of blood and fire, and crowning the memory of those unfortunate nobles with eternal honor, was denounced by the churchman as criminal, and deserving of castigation. He intimated, moreover, that these pretences of clemency were mere hypocrisy, and that self-interest was at the bottom of their compassion. “’Tis very black,” said he, “when interest governs; but these men are a in debt, so deeply that they owe their very souls. They are seeking every means of escaping from their obligations, and are most desirous of creating general confusion.” As to the Prince of Orange, the Cardinal asserted that he owed nine hundred thousand florins, and had hardly twenty-five thousand a-year clear income, while he spent ninety thousand, having counts; barons, and gentlemen in great numbers, in his household. At this point, he suggested that it might be well to find employment for some of these grandees in Spain and other dominions of his Majesty, adding that perhaps Orange might accept the vice-royalty of Sicily.
Resuming the religious matter, a few weeks later, he expressed himself a little more cheerfully, “We have made so much outcry,” said he, “that at last Marquis Berghen has been forced to burn a couple of heretics at Valenciennes. Thus, it is obvious,” moralized the Cardinal, “that if he were really willing to apply the remedy in that place, much progress might be made; but that we can do but little so long as he remains in the government of the provinces and refuses to assist us.” In a subsequent letter, he again uttered com plaints against the Marquis and Montigny, who were evermore his scapegoats and bugbears. Berghen will give us no aid, he wrote, despite of all the letters we send him. He absents himself for private and political reasons. Montigny has eaten meat in Lent, as the Bishop of Tournay informs me. Both he and the Marquis say openly that it is not right to shed blood for matters of faith, so that the King can judge how much can be effected with such coadjutors. Berghen avoids the persecution of heretics, wrote the Cardinal again, a month later, to Secretary Perez. He has gone to Spa for his health, although those who saw him last say he is fat and hearty.
Granvelle added, however, that they had at last “burned one more preacher alive.” The heretic, he stated, had feigned repentance to save his life, but finding that, at any rate, his head would be cut off as a dogmatizer, he retracted his recantation. “So,” concluded the Cardinal, complacently, “they burned him.”
He chronicled the sayings and doings of the principal personages in the Netherlands, for the instruction of the King, with great regularity, insinuating suspicions when unable to furnish evidence, and adding charitable apologies, which he knew would have but small effect upon the mind of his correspondent. Thus he sent an account of a “very secret meeting” held by Orange, Egmont, Horn, Montigny and Berghen, at the abbey of La Forest, near Brussels, adding, that he did not know what they had been doing there, and was at loss what to suspect. He would be most happy, he said, to put the best interpretation upon their actions, but he could not help remembering with great sorrow the observation so recently made by Orange to Montigny, that one day they should be stronger. Later in the year, the Cardinal informed the King that the same nobles were holding a conference at Weerdt, that he had not learned what had been transacted there, but thought the affair very suspicious. Philip immediately communicated the intelligence to Alva, together with an expression of Granvelle’s fears and of his own, that a popular outbreak would be the consequence of the continued presence of the minister in the Netherlands.
The Cardinal omitted nothing in the way of anecdote or inuendo, which could injure the character of the leading nobles, with the exception, perhaps, of Count Egmont. With this important personage, whose character he well understood, he seemed determined, if possible, to maintain friendly relations. There was a deep policy in this desire, to which we shall advert hereafter. The other seigniors were described in general terms as disposed to overthrow the royal authority. They were bent upon Granvelle’s downfall as the first step, because, that being accomplished, the rest would follow as a matter of course. “They intend,” said he, “to reduce the state into the form of a republic, in which the King shall have no power except to do their bidding.” He added, that he saw with regret so many German troops gathering on the borders; for he believed them to be in the control of the disaffected nobles of the Netherlands. Having made this grave insinuation, he proceeded in the same breath to express his anger at a statement said to have been made by Orange and Egmont, to the effect that he had charged them with intending to excite a civil commotion, an idea, he added, which had never entered his head. In the same paragraph, he poured into the most suspicious ear that ever listened to a tale of treason, his conviction that the nobles were planning a republic by the aid of foreign troops, and uttered a complaint that these nobles had accused him of suspecting them. As for the Prince of Orange, he was described as eternally boasting of his influence in Germany, and the great things which he could effect by means of his connexions there, “so that,” added the Cardinal, “we hear no other song.”
He had much to say concerning the projects of these grandees to abolish all the councils, but that of state, of which body they intended to obtain the entire control. Marquis Berghen was represented as being at the bottom of all these intrigues. The general and evident intention was to make a thorough change in the form of government. The Marquis meant to command in every thing, and the Duchess would soon have nothing to do in the provinces as regent for the King. In fact, Philip himself would be equally powerless, “for,” said the Cardinal, “they will have succeeded in putting your Majesty completely under guardianship.” He added, moreover, that the seigniors, in order to gain favor with the people and with the estates, had allowed them to acquire so much power, that they would respond to any request for subsidies by a general popular revolt. “This is the simple truth,” said Granvelle, “and moreover, by the same process, in a very few days there will likewise be no religion left in the land.” When the deputies of some of the states, a few weeks later, had been irregularly convened in Brussels, for financial purposes, the Cardinal informed the monarch that the nobles were endeavoring to conciliate their good-will, by offering them a splendid series of festivities and banquets.
He related various anecdotes which came to his ears from time to time, all tending to excite suspicions as to the loyalty and orthodoxy of the principal nobles. A gentleman coming from Burgundy had lately, as he informed the King, been dining with the Prince of Orange, with whom Horn and Montigny were then lodging. At table, Montigny called out in a very loud voice to the strange cavalier, who was seated at a great distance from him, to ask if there were many Huguenots in Burgundy. No, replied the gentleman nor would they be permitted to exist there. “Then there can be very few people of intelligence in that province,” returned Montigny, “for those who have any wit are mostly all Huguenots.” The Prince of Orange here endeavored to put a stop to the conversation, saying that the Burgundians were very right to remain as they were; upon which Montigny affirmed that he had heard masses enough lately to last him for three months. These things may be jests, commented Granvelle, but they are very bad ones; and ’tis evident that such a man is an improper instrument to remedy the state of religious affairs in Tournay.
At another large party, the King was faithfully informed by the same chronicler, that Marquis Berghen had been teasing the Duke of Aerschot very maliciously, because he would not join the league. The Duke had responded as he had formerly done to Egmont, that his Majesty was not to receive laws from his vassals; adding that, for himself, he meant to follow in the loyal track of his ancestors, fearing God and honoring the king. In short, said Granvelle, he answered them with so much wisdom, that although they had never a high opinion
Granvelle implored the King to keep these things entirely to himself; adding that it was quite necessary for his Majesty to learn in this manner what were the real dispositions of the gentlemen of the provinces. It was also stated in the same letter, that a ruffian Genoese, who had been ordered out of the Netherlands by the Regent, because of a homicide he had committed, was kept at Weert, by Count Horn, for the purpose of murdering the Cardinal.
He affirmed that he was not allowed to request the expulsion of the assassin from the Count’s house; but that he would take care, nevertheless, that neither this ruffian nor any other, should accomplish his purpose. A few weeks afterwards, expressing his joy at the contradiction of a report that Philip had himself been assassinated, Granvelle added; “I too, who am but a worm in comparison, am threatened on so many sides, that many must consider me already dead. Nevertheless, I will endeavor, with God’s help, to live as long as I can, and if they kill me, I hope they will not gain every thing.” Yet, with characteristic Jesuitism, the Cardinal could not refrain, even in the very letter in which he detailed the rebellious demonstrations of Berghen, and the murderous schemes of Horn, to protest that he did not say these things “to prejudice his Majesty against any one, but only that it might be known to what a height the impudence was rising.” Certainly the King and the ecclesiastic, like the Roman soothsayers, would have laughed in each other’s face, could they have met, over the hollowness of such demonstrations. Granvelle’s letters were filled, for the greater part, with pictures of treason, stratagem, and bloody intentions, fabricated mostly out of reports, table-talk, disjointed chat in the careless freedom of domestic intercourse, while at the same time a margin was always left to express his own wounded sense of the injurious suspicions uttered against him by the various subjects of his letters. “God knows,” said he to Perez, “that I always speak of them with respect, which is more than they do of me. But God forgive them all. In times like these, one must hold one’s tongue. One must keep still, in order not to stir up a hornet’s nest.”
In short, the Cardinal, little by little, during the last year of his residence in the Netherlands, was enabled to spread a canvas before his sovereign’s eye, in which certain prominent figures, highly colored by patiently accumulated touches, were represented as driving a whole nation, against its own will, into manifest revolt. The estates and the people, he said, were already tired of the proceedings of the nobles, and those personages would find themselves very much mistaken in thinking that men who had any thing to lose would follow them, when they began a rebellion against his Majesty. On the whole, he was not desirous of prolonging his own residence, although, to do him justice, he was not influenced by fear. He thought or affected to think that the situation was one of a factitious popular discontent, procured by the intrigues of a few ambitious and impoverished Catilines and Cethegi, not a rising rebellion such as the world had never seen, born of the slowly-awakened wrath of, a whole people, after the martyrdom of many years. The remedy that he recommended was that his Majesty should come in person to the provinces. The monarch would cure the whole disorder as soon as he appeared, said the Cardinal, by merely making the sign of the cross. Whether, indeed, the rapidly-increasing cancer of national discontent would prove a mere king’s evil, to be healed by the royal touch, as many persons besides Granvelle believed, was a point not doomed to be tested. From that day forward Philip began to hold out hopes that he would come to administer the desired remedy, but even then it was the opinion of good judges that he would give millions rather than make his appearance in the Netherlands. It was even the hope of William of Orange that the King would visit the provinces. He expressed his desire, in a letter to Lazarus Schwendi, that his sovereign should come in person, that he might see whether it had been right to sow so much distrust between himself and his loyal subjects. The Prince asserted that it was impossible for any person not on the spot to imagine the falsehoods and calumnies circulated by Granvelle and his friends, accusing Orange and his associates of rebellion and heresy, in the most infamous manner in the world. He added, in conclusion, that he could write no more, for the mere thought of the manner in which the government of the Netherlands was carried on filled him with disgust and rage. This letter, together with one in a similar strain from Egmont, was transmitted by the valiant and highly intellectual soldier to whom they were addressed, to the King of Spain, with an entreaty that he would take warning from the bitter truths which they contained. The Colonel, who was a most trusty friend of Orange, wrote afterwards to Margaret of Parma in the same spirit, warmly urging her to moderation in religious matters. This application highly enraged Morillon, the Cardinal’s most confidential dependent, who accordingly conveyed
It is sufficiently obvious, from the picture which we have now presented of the respective attitudes of Granvelle, of the seigniors and of the nation, during the whole of the year 1563, and the beginning of the following year, that a crisis was fast approaching. Granvelle was, for the moment, triumphant, Orange, Egmont, and Horn had abandoned the state council, Philip could not yet make up his mind to yield to the storm, and Alva howled defiance at the nobles and the whole people of the Netherlands. Nevertheless, Margaret of Parma was utterly weary of the minister, the Cardinal himself was most anxious to be gone, and the nation—for there was a nation, however vile the animal might be—was becoming daily more enraged at the presence of a man in whom, whether justly or falsely, it beheld the incarnation of the religious oppression under which they groaned. Meantime, at the close of the year, a new incident came to add to the gravity of the situation. Caspar Schetz, Baron of Grobbendonck, gave a Great dinner-party, in the month of December, 1563. This personage, whose name was prominent for many years in the public affairs of the nation, was one of the four brothers who formed a very opulent and influential mercantile establishment.
He was the King’s principal factor and financial agent. He was one of the great pillars of the Bourse at Antwerp. He was likewise a tolerable scholar, a detestable poet, an intriguing politician, and a corrupt financier. He was regularly in the pay of Sir Thomas Gresham, to whom he furnished secret information, for whom he procured differential favors, and by whose government he was rewarded by gold chains and presents of hard cash, bestowed as secretly as the equivalent was conveyed adroitly. Nevertheless, although his venality was already more than suspected, and although his peculation, during his long career became so extensive that he was eventually prosecuted by government, and died before the process was terminated, the lord of Grobbendonck was often employed in most delicate negotiations, and, at the present epoch, was a man of much importance in the Netherlands.
The treasurer-general accordingly gave his memorable banquet to a distinguished party of noblemen. The conversation, during dinner, turned, as was inevitable, upon the Cardinal. His ostentation, greediness, insolence, were fully canvassed. The wine flowed freely as it always did in those Flemish festivities—the brains of the proud and reckless cavaliers became hot with excitement, while still the odious ecclesiastic was the topic of their conversation, the object alternately of fierce invective or of scornful mirth. The pompous display which he affected in his equipages, liveries, and all the appurtenances of his household, had frequently excited their derision, and now afforded fresh matter for their ridicule. The customs of Germany, the simple habiliments in which the retainers of the greatest houses were arrayed in that country, were contrasted with the tinsel and glitter in which the prelate pranked himself. It was proposed, by way of showing contempt for Granvelle, that a livery should be forthwith invented, as different as possible from his in general effect, and that all the gentlemen present should indiscriminately adopt it for their own menials. Thus would the people whom the Cardinal wished to dazzle with his finery learn to estimate such gauds at their true value. It was determined that something extremely plain, and in the German fashion, should be selected. At the same time, the company, now thoroughly inflamed with wine, and possessed by the spirit of mockery, determined that a symbol should be added to the livery, by which the universal contempt for Granvelle should be expressed. The proposition was hailed with acclamation, but who should invent the hieroglyphical costume? All were reckless and ready enough, but ingenuity of device was required. At last it was determined to decide the question by hazard. Amid shouts of hilarity, the dice were thrown. Those men were staking their lives, perhaps, upon the issue, but the reflection gave only a keener zest to the game. Egmont won. It was the most fatal victory which he had ever achieved, a more deadly prize even than the trophies of St. Quentin and Gravelingen.
In a few days afterwards, the retainers of the house of Egmont surprised Brussels by making their appearance in a new livery. Doublet and hose of the coarsest grey, and long hanging sleeves, without gold or silver lace, and having but a single ornament, comprised the whole costume. An emblem which seemed to resemble a monk’s cowl, or a fool’s cap and bells, was embroidered upon each sleeve. The device pointed at the Cardinal, as did, by contrast, the affected coarseness of the dress. There was no doubt as to the meaning of the hood, but they who saw in the symbol more resemblance to the jester’s cap, recalled certain biting expressions which Granvelle had been accustomed to use. He had been wont, in the days of his greatest insolence, to speak of the most eminent nobles as zanies, lunatics, and buffoons.
A bundle of arrows, or in some instances a wheat-sheaf, was substituted for the cowls. Various interpretations were placed upon this new emblem. According to the nobles themselves, it denoted the union of all their hearts in the King’s service, while their enemies insinuated that it was obviously a symbol of conspiracy. The costume thus amended was worn by the gentlemen themselves, as well as by their servants. Egmont dined at the Regent’s table, after the Cardinal’s departure, in a camlet doublet, with hanging sleeves, and buttons stamped with the bundle of arrows.
For the present, the Cardinal affected to disapprove of the fashion only from its rebellious tendency. The fools’ caps and cowls, he meekly observed to Philip, were the least part of the offence, for an injury to himself could be easily forgiven. The wheat-sheaf and the arrow-bundles, however, were very vile things, for they betokened and confirmed the existence of a conspiracy, such as never could be tolerated by a prince who had any regard for his own authority.
This incident of the livery occupied the public attention, and inflamed the universal hatred during the later months of the minister’s residence in the country. Meantime the three seigniors had become very impatient at receiving no answer to their letter. Margaret of Parma was urging her brother to give them satisfaction, repeating to him their bitter complaints that their characters and conduct were the subject of constant misrepresentation to their sovereign, and picturing her own isolated condition. She represented herself as entirely deprived of the support of those great personages, who, despite her positive assurances to the contrary, persisted in believing that they were held up to the King as conspirators, and were in danger of being punished as traitors. Philip, on his part, was conning Granvelle’s despatches, filled with hints of conspiracy, and holding counsel with Alva, who had already recommended the taking off several heads for treason. The Prince of Orange, who already had secret agents in the King’s household, and was supplied with copies of the most private papers in the palace, knew better than to be deceived by the smooth representations of the Regent. Philip had, however, at last begun secretly to yield. He asked Alva’s advice whether on the whole it would not be better to let the Cardinal leave the Netherlands, at least for a time, on pretence of visiting his mother in Burgundy, and to invite Count Egmont to Madrid, by way of striking one link from the chain, as Granvelle had suggested. The Duke had replied that he had no doubt of the increasing insolence of the three seigniors, as depicted in the letters of the Duchess Margaret, nor of their intention to make the Cardinal their first victim; it being the regular principle in all revolts against the sovereign, to attack the chief minister in the first place. He could not, however, persuade himself that the King should yield and Granvelle be recalled. Nevertheless, if it were to be done at all, he preferred that the Cardinal should go to Burgundy without leave asked either of the Duchess or of Philip; and that he should then write; declining to return, on the ground that his life was not safe in the Netherlands.
After much hesitation, the monarch at last settled upon a plan, which recommended itself through the extreme duplicity by which it was marked, and the complicated system of small deceptions, which it consequently required. The King, who was never so thoroughly happy or at home as when elaborating the ingredients of a composite falsehood, now busily employed himself in his cabinet. He measured off in various letters to the Regent, to the three nobles, to Egmont alone, and to Granvelle, certain proportionate parts of his whole plan, which; taken separately, were intended to deceive, and did deceive nearly every person in the world, not only in his own generation, but for three centuries afterwards, but which arranged synthetically,
The courier who was to take Philip’s letters to the three nobles was detained three weeks, in order to allow Armenteros, who was charged with the more important and secret despatches for the Duchess and Granvelle to reach Brussels first. All the letters, however, were ready at the same time. The letter of instructions for Armenteros enjoined upon that envoy to tell the Regent that the heretics were to be chastised with renewed vigor, that she was to refuse to convoke the states-general under any pretext, and that if hard pressed, she was to refer directly to the King. With regard to Granvelle, the secretary was to state that his Majesty was still deliberating, and that the Duchess would be informed as to the decision when it should be made. He was to express the royal astonishment that the seigniors should absent themselves from the state council, with a peremptory intimation that they should immediately return to their posts. As they had specified no particularities against the Cardinal, the King would still reflect upon the subject.
He also wrote a private note to the Duchess, stating that he had not yet sent the letters for the three nobles, because he wished that Armenteros should arrive before their courier. He, however, enclosed two notes for Egmont, of which Margaret was to deliver that one, which, in her opinion, was, under the circumstances, the best. In one of these missives the King cordially accepted, and in the other he politely declined Egmont’s recent offer to visit Spain. He also forwarded a private letter in his own hand-writing to the Cardinal. Armenteros, who travelled but slowly on account of the state of his health, arrived in Brussels towards the end of February. Five or six days afterwards, on the 1st March, namely, the courier arrived bringing the despatches for the seigniors. In his letter to Orange, Egmont, and Horn, the King expressed his astonishment at their resolution to abstain from the state council. Nevertheless, said he, imperatively, fail not to return thither and to show how much more highly you regard my service and the good of the country than any other particularity whatever. As to Granvelle, continued Philip, since you will not make any specifications, my intention is to think over the matter longer, in order to arrange it as may seem most fitting.
This letter was dated February 19 (1564), nearly a month later therefore than the secret letter to Granvelle, brought by Armenteros, although all the despatches had been drawn up at the same time and formed parts of the same plan. In this brief note to Granvelle, however, lay the heart of the whole mystery.
“I have reflected much,” wrote the King, “on all that you have written me during these last few months, concerning the ill-will borne you by certain personages. I notice also your suspicions that if a revolt breaks out, they will commence with your person, thus taking occasion to proceed from that point to the accomplishment of their ulterior designs. I have particularly taken into consideration the notice received by you from the curate of Saint Gudule, as well as that which you have learned concerning the Genoese who is kept at Weert; all which has given me much anxiety as well from my desire for the preservation of your life in which my service is so deeply interested, as for the possible results if any thing should happen to you, which God forbid. I have thought, therefore, that it would be well, in order to give time and breathing space to the hatred and rancor which those persons entertain towards you, and in order to see what coarse they will take in preparing the necessary remedy, for the provinces, for you to leave the country for some days, in order to visit your mother, and this with the knowledge of the Duchess, my sister, and with her permission, which you will request, and which I have written to her that she must give, without allowing it to appear that you have received orders to that effect from me. You will also beg her to write to me requesting my approbation of what she is to do. By taking this course neither my authority nor yours will suffer prejudice; and according to the turn which things may take, measures may be taken for your return when expedient, and for whatever else there may be to arrange.”
Thus, in two words, Philip removed the unpopular minister forever. The limitation of his absence had no meaning, and was intended to have none. If there were not strength enough to keep the Cardinal in his place, it was not probable that the more difficult task of reinstating him after his fall would be very soon attempted. It, seemed, however, to be dealing more tenderly with Granvelle’s self-respect thus to leave a vague opening for a possible return, than to send him an unconditional dismissal.
Thus, while the King refused to give any weight to the representations of the nobles, and affected to be still deliberating whether or not he should recall the Cardinal, he had in reality already recalled him. All the minute directions according to which permission was to be asked of the Duchess to take a step which had already been prescribed by the monarch, and Philip’s indulgence craved for obeying his own explicit injunctions, were fulfilled to the letter.
As soon as the Cardinal received the royal order, he privately made preparations for his departure. The Regent, on the other hand, delivered to Count Egmont the one of Philip’s two letters in which that gentleman’s visit was declined, the Duchess believing that, in the present position of affairs, she should derive more assistance from him than from the rest of the seigniors. As Granvelle, however, still delayed his departure, even after the arrival of the second courier, she was again placed in a situation of much perplexity. The three nobles considered Philip’s letter to them extremely “dry and laconic,” and Orange absolutely refused to comply with the order to re-enter the state council. At a session of that body, on the 3d of March, where only Granvelle, Viglius, and Berlaymont were present, Margaret narrated her fruitless attempts to persuade the seigniors into obedience to the royal orders lately transmitted, and asked their opinions. The extraordinary advice was then given, that “she should let them champ the bit a little while longer, and afterwards see what was to be done.” Even at the last moment, the Cardinal, reluctant to acknowledge himself beaten, although secretly desirous to retire, was inclined for a parting struggle. The Duchess, however, being now armed with the King’s express commands, and having had enough of holding the reins while such powerful and restive personages were “champing the bit,” insisted privately that the Cardinal should make his immediate departure known. Pasquinades and pamphlets were already appearing daily, each more bitter than the other; the livery was spreading rapidly through all classes of people, and the seigniors most distinctly refused to recede from their determination of absenting themselves from the council so long as Granvelle remained. There was no help for it; and on the 13th of March the Cardinal took his departure. Notwithstanding the mystery of the whole proceeding, however, William of Orange was not deceived. He felt certain that the minister had been recalled, and thought it highly improbable that he would ever be permitted to return. “Although the Cardinal talks of coming back again soon,” wrote the Prince to Schwartzburg, “we nevertheless hope that, as he lied about his departure, so he will also spare the truth in his present assertions.” This was the general conviction, so far as the question of the minister’s compulsory retreat was concerned, of all those who were in the habit of receiving their information and their opinions from the Prince of Orange. Many even thought that Granvelle had been recalled with indignity and much against his will. “When the Cardinal,” wrote Secretary Lorich to Count Louis, “received the King’s order to go, he growled like a bear, and kept himself alone in his chamber for a time, making his preparations for departure. He says he shall come back in two months, but some of us think they will be two long months which will eat themselves up like money borrowed of the Jews.” A wag, moreover, posted a large placard upon the door of Granvelle’s palace in Brussels as soon as the minister’s departure was known, with the inscription, in large letters, “For sale, immediately.” In spite of the royal ingenuity, therefore, many shrewdly suspected the real state of the case, although but very few actually knew the truth.
The Cardinal left Brussels with a numerous suite, stately equipages, and much parade. The Duchess provided him with her own mules and with a sufficient escort, for the King had expressly enjoined that every care should be taken against any murderous attack. There was no fear of such assault, however, for all were sufficiently satisfied to see the minister depart. Brederode and Count Hoogstraaten were standing together, looking from the window of a house near the gate of Caudenberg, to feast their eyes with the spectacle of their enemy’s retreat. As soon as the Cardinal had passed through that gate, on his way to Namur, the first stage of his journey, they rushed into the street, got both upon one horse, Hoogstraaten, who alone had boots on his legs, taking the saddle and Brederode the croup, and galloped after the Cardinal, with the exultation of school-boys. Thus mounted, they continued to escort the Cardinal on his journey. At one time, they were so near his carriage, while it was passing through a ravine, that they might have spoken to him from the heights above, where they had paused to observe him; but they pulled the capes of their cloaks over their faces and suffered him to pass unchallenged. “But they are young folk,” said the Cardinal, benignantly, after relating all these particulars to the Duchess, “and one should pay little regard to their actions.” He added, that one of Egmont’s gentlemen dogged their party on the journey, lodging in the same inns with them, apparently in the hope of learning something from their conversation or proceedings. If that were the man’s object, however, Granvelle expressed the conviction that he was disappointed, as nothing could have been more merry than the whole company, or more discreet than their conversation.
The Cardinal began at once to put into operation the system of deception, as to his departure, which had been planned by Philip. The man who had been ordered to leave the Netherlands by the King, and pushed into immediate compliance with the royal command by the Duchess, proceeded to address letters both to Philip and Margaret. He wrote from Namur to beg the Regent that she would not fail to implore his Majesty graciously to excuse his having absented himself for private reasons at that particular moment. He wrote to Philip from Besancon, stating that his desire to visit his mother, whom he had not seen for nineteen years, and his natal soil, to which he had been a stranger during the same period, had induced him to take advantage of his brother’s journey to accompany him for a few days into Burgundy. He had, therefore, he said, obtained the necessary permission from the Duchess, who had kindly promised to write very particularly by the first courier, to beg his Majesty’s approval of the liberty which they had both taken. He wrote from the same place to the Regent again, saying that some of the nobles pretended to have learned from Armenteros that the King had ordered the Cardinal to leave the country and not to return; all which, he added, was a very false Renardesque invention, at which he did nothing but laugh.
As a matter of course, his brother, in whose company he was about to visit the mother whom he had not seen for the past nineteen years, was as much mystified as the rest of the world. Chantonnay was not aware that any thing but the alleged motives had occasioned the journey, nor did he know that his brother would perhaps have omitted to visit their common parent for nineteen years longer had he not received the royal order to leave the Netherlands.
Philip, on the other side, had sustained his part, in the farce with much ability. Viglius, Berlaymont, Morillon, and all the lesser cardinalists were entirely taken in by the letters which were formally despatched to the Duchess in reply to her own and the Cardinal’s notification. “I can not take it amiss,” wrote the King, “that you have given leave of absence to Cardinal de Granvelle, for two or three months, according to the advices just received from you, that he may attend to some private affairs of his own.” As soon as these letters had been read in the council, Viglius faithfully transmitted them to Granvelle for that personage’s enlightenment; adding his own innocent reflection, that “this was very different language from that held by some people, that your most illustrious lordship had retired by order of his Majesty.” Morillon also sent the Cardinal a copy of the same passage in the royal despatch, saying, very wisely, “I wonder what they will all say now, since these letters have been read in council.” The Duchess, as in duty bound, denied flatly, on all occasions, that Armenteros had brought any letters recommending or ordering the minister’s retreat. She conscientiously displayed the letters of his Majesty, proving the contrary, and yet, said Viglius, it was very hard to prevent people talking as they liked. Granvelle omitted no occasion to mystify every one of his correspondents on the subject, referring, of course, to the same royal letters which had been written for public reading, expressly to corroborate these statements. “You see by his Majesty’s letters to Madame de Parma,” said he to Morillon, “how false is the report that the King had ordered me to leave Flanders, and in what confusion those persons find themselves who fabricated the story.” It followed of necessity that he should carry out his part in the royal program, but he accomplished his task so adroitly, and with such redundancy of zeal, as to show his thorough sympathy with the King’s policy. He dissembled with better grace, even if the King did it more naturally. Nobody was too insignificant to be deceived, nobody too august. Emperor Ferdinand fared no better than “Esquire” Bordey. “Some of those who hate me,” he wrote to the potentate, “have circulated the report that I had been turned out of the country, and was never to return. This story has ended in smoke, since the letters written by his Majesty to the Duchess of Parma on the subject of the leave of absence which she had given me.”
Granvelle remained month after month in seclusion, doing his best to philosophize. Already, during the latter period of his residence in the Netherlands, he had lived in a comparative and forced solitude. His house had been avoided by those power-worshippers whose faces are rarely turned to the setting sun. He had, in consequence, already, before his departure, begun to discourse on the beauties of retirement, the fatigues of greatness, and the necessity of repose for men broken with the storms of state. A great man was like a lake, he said, to which a thirsty multitude habitually resorted till the waters were troubled, sullied, and finally exhausted. Power looked more attractive in front than in the retrospect. That which men possessed was ever of less value than that which they hoped. In this fine strain of eloquent commonplace the falling minister had already begun to moralize upon the vanity of human wishes. When he was established at his charming retreat in Burgundy, he had full leisure to pursue the theme. He remained in retirement till his beard grew to his waist, having vowed, according to report, that he would not shave till recalled to the Netherlands. If the report were true, said some of the gentlemen in the provinces, it would be likely to grow to his feet. He professed to wish himself blind and deaf that he might have no knowledge of the world’s events, described himself as buried in literature, and fit for no business save to remain in his chamber, fastened to his books, or occupied with private affairs and religious exercises. He possessed a most charming residence at Orchamps, where he spent a great portion of his time. In one of his letters to Vice-Chancellor Seld, he described the beauties of this retreat with much delicacy and vigor—“I am really not as badly off here,” said he, “as I should be in the Indies. I am in sweet places
Thus it is obvious that the Cardinal was no ascetic. His hermitage contained other appliances save those for study and devotion. His retired life was, in fact, that of a voluptuary. His brother, Chantonnay, reproached him with the sumptuousness and disorder of his establishment. He lived in “good and joyous cheer.” He professed to be thoroughly satisfied with the course things had taken, knowing that God was above all, and would take care of all. He avowed his determination to extract pleasure and profit even from the ill will of his adversaries. “Behold my philosophy,” he cried, “to live joyously as possible, laughing at the world, at passionate people, and at all their calumnies.” It is evident that his philosophy, if it had any real existence, was sufficiently Epicurean. It was, however, mainly compounded of pretence, like his whole nature and his whole life. Notwithstanding the mountains high as heaven, the cool grottos, the trout, and the best Burgundy wines in the world, concerning which he descanted so eloquently, he soon became in reality most impatient of his compulsory seclusion. His pretence of “composing himself as much as possible to tranquillity and repose” could deceive none of the intimate associates to whom he addressed himself in that edifying vein. While he affected to be blind and deaf to politics, he had eyes and ears for nothing else. Worldly affairs were his element, and he was shipwrecked upon the charming solitude which he affected to admire. He was most anxious to return to the world again, but he had difficult cards to play. His master was even more dubious than usual about everything. Granvelle was ready to remain in Burgundy as long as Philip chose that he should remain there. He was also ready to go to “India, Peru, or into the fire,” whenever his King should require any such excursion, or to return to the Netherlands, confronting any danger which might lie in his path. It is probable that he nourished for a long time a hope that the storm would blow over in the provinces, and his resumption of power become possible. William of Orange, although more than half convinced that no attempt would be made to replace the minister, felt it necessary to keep strict watch on his movements. “We must be on our guard,” said he, “and not
There was certainly discrepancy between the language thus used simultaneously by the Duchess to Granvelle and to Philip, but Margaret had been trained in the school of Macchiavelli, and had sat at the feet of Loyola.
The Cardinal replied with equal suavity, protesting that such a letter from the Duchess left him nothing more to desire, as it furnished him with an “entire and perfect justification” of his conduct. He was aware of her real sentiments, no doubt, but he was too politic to quarrel with so important a personage as Philip’s sister.
An incident which occurred a few months after the minister’s departure served, to show the general estimation in which he was held by a11 ranks of Netherlanders. Count Mansfeld celebrated the baptism of his son, Philip Octavian, by a splendid series of festivities at Luxemburg, the capital of his government. Besides the tournaments and similar sports, with which the upper classes of European society were accustomed at that day to divert themselves, there was a grand masquerade, to which the public were admitted as spectators. In this “mummery” the most successful spectacle was that presented by a group arranged in obvious ridicule of Granvelle. A figure dressed in Cardinal’s costume, with the red hat upon his head, came pacing through the arena upon horseback. Before him marched a man attired like a hermit, with long white beard, telling his beads upon a rosary, which he held ostentatiously in his hands. Behind the mounted Cardinal came the Devil, attired in the usual guise considered appropriate to the Prince of Darkness, who scourged both horse and rider with a whip of fog-tails, causing them to scamper about the lists in great trepidation, to the immense delight of the spectators. The practical pun upon Simon Renard’s name embodied in the fox-tail, with the allusion to the effect of the manifold squibs perpetrated by that most bitter and lively enemy upon Granvelle, were understood and relished by the multitude. Nothing could be more hearty than the blows bestowed upon the minister’s representative, except the applause with which this satire, composed of actual fustigation, was received. The humorous spectacle absorbed all the interest of the masquerade, and was frequently repeated. It seemed difficult to satisfy the general desire to witness a thorough chastisement of the culprit.
The incident made a great noise in the country. The cardinalists felt naturally very much enraged, but they were in a minority. No censure came from the government at Brussels, and Mansfeld was then and for a long time afterwards the main pillar of royal authority in the Netherlands. It was sufficiently obvious that Granvelle, for the time at least, was supported by no party of any influence.
Meantime he remained in his seclusion. His unpopularity did not, however, decrease in his absence. More than a year after his departure, Berlaymont said the nobles detested the Cardinal more than ever, and would eat him alive if they caught him. The chance of his returning was dying gradually out. At about the same period Chantonnay advised his brother to show his teeth. He assured Granvelle that
Stung or emboldened by these remonstrances, and weary of his retirement, Granvelle at last abandoned all intention of returning to the Netherlands, and towards the end of 1565, departed to Rome, where he participated in the election of Pope Pius V. Five years afterwards he was employed by Philip to negotiate the treaty between Spain, Rome, and Venice against the Turk. He was afterwards Viceroy of Naples, and in 1575, he removed to Madrid, to take an active part in the management of the public business, “the disorder of which,” says the Abbe Boisot, “could be no longer arrested by men of mediocre capacity.” He died in that city on the 21st September, 1586, at the age of seventy, and was buried at Besancon.
We have dwelt at length on the administration of this remarkable personage, because the period was one of vital importance in the history of the Netherland commonwealth. The minister who deals with the country at an epoch when civil war is imminent, has at least as heavy a responsibility upon his head as the man who goes forth to confront the armed and full-grown rebellion. All the causes out of which the great revolt was born, were in violent operation during the epoch of Granvelle’s power. By the manner in which he comported himself in presence of those dangerous and active elements of the coming convulsions, must his character as a historical personage be measured. His individuality had so much to do with the course of the government, the powers placed in his hands were so vast, and his energy so untiring, that it is difficult to exaggerate the importance of his influence upon the destiny of the country which he ’vas permitted to rule. It is for this reason that we have been at great pains to present his picture, sketched as it were by his own hand. A few general remarks are, however, necessary. It is the historian’s duty to fix upon one plain and definite canvas the chameleon colors in which the subtle Cardinal produced his own image. Almost any theory concerning his character might be laid down and sustained by copious citations from his works; nay, the most opposite conclusions as to his interior nature, may be often drawn from a single one of his private and interminable letters. Embarked under his guidance, it is often difficult to comprehend the point to which we are tending. The oarsman’s face beams upon us with serenity, but he looks in one direction, and rows in the opposite course. Even thus it was three centuries ago. Was it to be wondered at that many did not see the precipice towards which the bark which held their all was gliding under the same impulse?
No man has ever disputed Granvelle’s talents. From friend and foe his intellect has received the full measure of applause which it could ever claim. No doubt his genius was of a rare and subtle kind. His great power was essentially dramatic in its nature. He mastered the characters of the men with whom he had to deal, and then assumed them. He practised this art mainly upon personages of exalted station, for his scheme was to govern the world by acquiring dominion over its anointed rulers. A smooth and supple slave in appearance, but, in reality, while his power lasted, the despot of his masters, he exercised boundless control by enacting their parts with such fidelity that they were themselves deceived. It is impossible not to admire the facility with which this accomplished Proteus successively assumed the characters of Philip and of Margaret, through all the complicated affairs and voluminous correspondence of his government.
When envoys of high rank were to be despatched on confidential missions to Spain, the Cardinal drew their instructions as the Duchess—threw light upon their supposed motives in secret letters as the King’s sister —and answered their representations with ponderous wisdom as Philip; transmitting despatches, letters and briefs for royal conversations, in time to be thoroughly studied before the advent of the ambassador. Whoever travelled from Brussels to Madrid in order to escape the influence of the ubiquitous Cardinal, was sure to be confronted with him in the inmost recesses of the King’s cabinet as soon as he was admitted to an audience. To converse with Philip or Margaret was but to commune with Antony. The skill with which he played his game, seated quietly in his luxurious villa, now stretching forth one long arm to move the King at Madrid, now placing Margaret upon what square he liked, and dealing with Bishops, Knight of the Fleece, and lesser dignitaries, the Richardota, the Morillons, the Viglii and the Berlaymonts, with sole reference to his own scheme of action, was truly of a nature to excite our special wonder. His aptitude for affairs and his power to read character were extraordinary; but it was necessary that the affairs should be those of a despotism, and the characters of an inferior nature. He could read Philip and Margaret, Egmont or Berlaymont, Alva or Viglius, but he had no plummet to sound the depths of a mind like that of William the Silent. His genius was adroit and subtle, but not profound. He aimed at power by making the powerful subservient, but he had not the intellect which deals in the daylight face to face with great events and great minds. In the violent political struggle of which his administration consisted, he was foiled and thrown by the superior strength of a man whose warfare was open and manly, and who had no defence against the poisoned weapons of his foe.
His literary accomplishments were very great. His fecundity was prodigious, and he wrote at will in seven languages. ’This polyglot facility was not in itself a very remarkable circumstance, for it grew out of his necessary education and geographical position. Few men in that age and region were limited to their mother tongue. The Prince of Orange, who made no special pretence to learning, possessed at least five languages. Egmont, who was accounted an ignorant man, was certainly familiar with three. The Cardinal, however, wrote not only with ease, but with remarkable elegance, vigor and vivacity, in whatever language he chose to adopt. The style of his letters and other documents, regarded simply as compositions, was inferior to that of no writer of the age. His occasional orations, too, were esteemed models of smooth and flowing rhetoric, at an epoch when the art of eloquence was not much cultivated. Yet it must be allowed that beneath all the shallow but harmonious flow of his periods, it would be idle to search for a grain of golden sand. Not a single sterling, manly thought is to be found in all his productions. If at times our admiration is excited with the appearance of a gem of true philosophy, we are soon obliged to acknowledge, on closer inspection, that we have been deceived by a false glitter. In retirement, his solitude was not relieved by serious application to any branch of knowledge. Devotion to science and to the advancement of learning, a virtue which has changed the infamy of even baser natures than his into glory, never dignified his seclusion. He had elegant tastes, he built fine palaces, he collected paintings, and he discoursed of the fine arts with the skill and eloquence of a practised connoisseur; but the nectared fruits of divine philosophy were but harsh and crabbed to him.
His moral characteristics are even more difficult to seize than his intellectual traits. It is a perplexing task to arrive at the intimate interior structure of a nature which hardly had an interior. He did not change, but he presented himself daily in different aspects. Certain peculiarities he possessed, however, which were unquestionable. He was always courageous, generally calm. Placed in the midst of a nation which hated him, exposed to the furious opposition of the most powerful adversaries, having hardly a friend, except the cowardly Viglius and the pluralist Morillon, secretly betrayed by Margaret of Parma, insulted by rude grandees, and threatened by midnight assassins, he never lost his self-possession, his smooth arrogance, his fortitude. He was constitutionally brave. He was not passionate in his resentments. To say that he was forgiving by nature would be an immense error; but that he could put aside vengeance at the dictate of policy is very certain. He could temporize, even after the reception of what he esteemed grave injuries, if the offenders were powerful. He never manifested rancor against
His extravagance was enormous, and his life luxurious. At the same time he could leave his brother Champagny—a man, with all his faults, of a noble nature, and with scarcely inferior talents to his own—to languish for a long time in abject poverty; supported by the charity of an ancient domestic. His greediness for wealth was proverbial. No benefice was too large or too paltry to escape absorption, if placed within his possible reach. Loaded with places and preferments, rolling in wealth, he approached his sovereign with the whine of a mendicant. He talked of his property as a “misery,” when he asked for boons, and expressed his thanks in the language of a slave when he received them. Having obtained the abbey of St. Armand, he could hardly wait for the burial of the Bishop of Tournay before claiming the vast revenues of Afflighem, assuring the King as he did so that his annual income was but eighteen thousand crowns. At the same time, while thus receiving or pursuing the vast rents of St. Armand and Afflighem, he could seize the abbey of Trulle from the expectant hands of poor dependents, and accept tapestries and hogsheads of wine from Jacques Lequien and others, as a tax on the benefices which he procured for them. Yet the man who, like his father before him, had so long fattened on the public money, who at an early day had incurred the Emperor’s sharp reproof for his covetousness, whose family, beside all these salaries and personal property, possessed already fragments of the royal domain, in the shape of nineteen baronies and seigniories in Burgundy, besides the county of Cantecroix and other estates in the Netherlands, had the effrontery to affirm, “We have always rather regarded the service of the master than our own particular profit.”
In estimating the conduct of the minister, in relation to the provinces, we are met upon the threshold by a swarm of vague assertions which are of a nature to blind or distract the judgment. His character must be judged as a whole, and by its general results, with a careful allowance for contradictions and equivocations. Truth is clear and single, but the lights are parti-colored and refracted in the prism of hypocrisy. The great feature of his administration was a prolonged conflict between himself and the leading seigniors of the Netherlands. The ground of the combat was the religious question. Let the quarrel be turned or tortured in any manner that human ingenuity can devise, it still remains unquestionable that Granvelle’s main object was to strengthen and to extend the inquisition, that of his adversaries to overthrow the institution. It followed, necessarily, that the ancient charters were to be trampled in the dust before that tribunal could be triumphant. The nobles, although all Catholics, defended the cause of the poor religious martyrs, the privileges of the nation and the rights of their order. They were conservatives, battling for the existence of certain great facts, entirely consonant to any theory of justice and divine reason—for ancient constitutions which had been purchased with blood and treasure. “I will maintain,” was the motto of William of Orange. Philip, bigoted and absolute almost beyond comprehension, might perhaps have proved impervious to any representations, even of Granvelle. Nevertheless, the minister might have attempted the task, and the responsibility is heavy upon the man who shared the power and directed the career, but who never ceased to represent the generous resistance of individuals to frantic cruelty, as offences against God and the King.
Yet extracts are drawn from his letters to prove that he considered the Spaniards as “proud and usurping,” that he indignantly denied ever having been in favor of subjecting the Netherlands to the soldiers of that nation; that he recommended the withdrawal of the foreign regiments, and that he advised the King, when he came to the country, to bring with him but few Spanish troops. It should, however, be remembered that he employed, according to his own statements, every expedient which human ingenuity could suggest to keep the foreign soldiers in the provinces, that he “lamented to his inmost soul’ their forced departure, and that he did not consent to that measure until the people were in a tumult, and the Zealanders threatening to lay the country under the ocean. “You may judge of the means employed to excite the people,” he wrote to Perez in 1563, “by the fact that a report is circulated that the Duke of Alva is coming hither to tyrannize the provinces.” Yet it appears by the admissions of Del Ryo, one of Alva’s blood council, that, “Cardinal Granvelle expressly advised that an army of Spaniards should be sent to the Netherlands, to maintain the obedience to his Majesty
The manly and open opposition of the nobles was stigmatized as a cabal by the offended priest. He repeatedly whispered in the royal ear that their league was a treasonable conspiracy, which the Attorney-General ought to prosecute; that the seigniors meant to subvert entirely the authority of the Sovereign; that they meant to put their King under tutelage, to compel him to obey all their commands, to choose another prince of the blood for their chief, to establish a republic by the aid of foreign troops. If such insinuations, distilled thus secretly into the ear of Philip, who, like his predecessor, Dionysius, took pleasure in listening daily to charges against his subjects and to the groans of his prisoners, were not likely to engender a dangerous gangrene in the royal mind, it would be difficult to indicate any course which would produce such a result. Yet the Cardinal maintained that he had never done the gentlemen ill service, but that “they were angry with him for wishing to sustain the authority
The men who refused to burn their fellow-creatures for a difference in religious opinion were stigmatized as demagogues; as ruined spendthrifts who wished to escape from their liabilities in the midst of revolutionary confusion; as disguised heretics who were waiting for a good opportunity to reveal their true characters. Montigny, who, as a Montmorency, was nearly allied to the Constable and Admiral of France, and was in epistolary correspondence with those relatives, was held up as a Huguenot; of course, therefore, in Philip’s eye, the most monstrous of malefactors.
Although no man could strew pious reflections and holy texts more liberally, yet there was always an afterthought even in his most edifying letters. A corner of the mask is occasionally lifted and the deadly face of slow but abiding vengeance is revealed. “I know very well,” he wrote, soon after his fall, to Viglius, “that vengeance is the Lord’s-God is my witness that I pardon all the past.” In the same letter, nevertheless, he added, “My theology, however, does not teach me, that by enduring, one is to enable one’s enemies to commit even greater wrongs. If the royal justice is not soon put into play, I shall be obliged to right myself. This thing is going on too long-patience exhausted changes to fury. ’Tis necessary that every man should assist himself as he can, and when I choose to throw the game into confusion I shall do it perhaps more notably than the others.” A few weeks afterwards, writing to the same correspondent, he observed, “We shall have to turn again, and rejoice together.
Thus, it will be seen by this retrospect how difficult it is to seize all the shifting subtleties of this remarkable character. His sophisms even, when self-contradictory, are so adroit that they are often hard to parry. He made a great merit to himself for not having originated the new episcopates; but it should be remembered that he did his utmost to enforce the measure, which was “so holy a scheme that he would sacrifice for its success his fortune and his life.” He refused the archbishopric of Mechlin, but his motives for so doing were entirely sordid. His revenues were for the moment diminished, while his personal distinction was not, in his opinion, increased by the promotion. He refused to accept it because “it was no addition to his dignity, as he was already Cardinal and Bishop of Arras,” but in this statement he committed an important anachronism. He was not Cardinal when he refused the see of Mechlin; having received the red hat upon February 26, 1561, and having already accepted the archbishopric in May of the preceding year. He affirmed that “no man would more resolutely defend the liberty and privileges of the provinces than he would do,” but he preferred being tyrannized by his prince, to maintaining the joyful entrance. He complained of the insolence of the states in meddling with the supplies; he denounced the convocation of the representative bodies, by whose action alone, what there was of “liberty and privilege” in the land could be guarded; he recommended the entire abolition of the common councils in the cities. He described himself as having always combated the opinion that “any thing could be accomplished by terror, death and violence,” yet he recommended the mission of Alva, in whom “terror, death, and violence” were incarnate. He was indignant that he should be accused of having advised the introduction of the Spanish inquisition; but his reason was that the term sounded disagreeably
If popularity be a test of merit in a public man, it certainly could not be claimed by the Cardinal. From the moment when Gresham declared him to be “hated of all men,” down to the period of his departure, the odium resting upon him had been rapidly extending: He came to the country with two grave accusations resting upon his name. The Emperor Maximilian asserted that the Cardinal had attempted to take his life by poison, and he persisted in the truth of the charge thus made by him, till the day of his death. Another accusation was more generally credited. He was the author of the memorable forgery by which the Landgrave Philip of Hesse had been entrapped into his long imprisonment. His course in and towards the Netherlands has been sufficiently examined. Not a single charge has been made lightly, but only after careful sifting of evidence. Moreover
Attempting to swim in two waters
Dissimulation and delay
Excited with the appearance of a gem of true philosophy
Insinuating suspicions when unable to furnish evidence
Maintaining the attitude of an injured but forgiving Christian
More accustomed to do well than to speak well
Perpetually dropping small innuendos like pebbles
Procrastination was always his first refuge
They had at last burned one more preacher alive
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