Military Plans in the Netherlands—The Elector and Electorate of Cologne—Martin Schenk—His Career before serving the States— Franeker University founded—Parma attempts Grave—Battle on the Meuse—Success and Vainglory of Leicester—St. George’s Day triumphantly kept at Utrecht—Parma not so much appalled as it was thought—He besieges and reduces Grave—And is Master of the Meuse— Leicester’s Rage at the Surrender of Grave—His Revenge—Parma on the Rhine—He besieges aid assaults Neusz—Horrible Fate of the Garrison and City—Which Leicester was unable to relieve—Asel surprised by Maurice and Sidney—The Zeeland Regiment given to Sidney—Condition of the Irish and English Troops—Leicester takes the Field—He reduces Doesburg—He lays siege to Zutphen—Which Parma prepares to relieve—The English intercept the Convoy—Battle of Warnsfeld—Sir Philip Sidney wounded—Results of the Encounter— Death of Sidney at Arnheim—Gallantry of Edward Stanley.
Five great rivers hold the Netherland territory in their coils. Three are but slightly separated—the Yssel, Waal, and ancient Rhine, while the Scheldt and, Meuse are spread more widely asunder. Along each of these streams were various fortified cities, the possession of which, in those days, when modern fortification was in its infancy, implied the control of the surrounding country. The lower part of all the rivers, where they mingled with the sea and became wide estuaries, belonged to the Republic, for the coasts and the ocean were in the hands of the Hollanders and English. Above, the various strong places were alternately in the hands of the Spaniards and of the patriots. Thus Antwerp, with the other Scheldt cities, had fallen into Parma’s power, but Flushing, which controlled them all, was held by Philip Sidney for the Queen and States. On the Meuse, Maastricht and Roermond were Spanish, but Yenloo, Grave, Meghem, and other towns, held for the commonwealth. On the Waal, the town of Nymegen had, through the dexterity of Martin Schenk, been recently transferred to the royalists, while the rest of that river’s course was true to the republic. The Rhine, strictly so called, from its entrance into Netherland, belonged to the rebels. Upon its elder branch, the Yssel, Zutphen was in Parma’s hands, while, a little below, Deventer had been recently and adroitly saved by Leicester and Count Meurs from falling into the same dangerous grasp.
Thus the triple Rhine, after it had crossed the German frontier, belonged mainly, although not exclusively, to the States. But on the edge of the Batavian territory, the ancient river, just before dividing itself into its three branches, flowed through a debatable country which was even more desolate and forlorn, if possible, than the land of the obedient Provinces.
This unfortunate district was the archi-episcopal electorate of Cologne. The city of Cologne itself, Neusz, and Rheinberg, on the river, Werll and other places in Westphalia and the whole country around, were endangered, invaded, ravaged, and the inhabitants plundered, murdered, and subjected to every imaginable outrage, by rival bands of highwaymen, enlisted in the support of the two rival bishops—beggars, outcasts, but high-born and learned churchmen both—who disputed the electorate.