Holland - The History of the Netherlands
by Thomas Colley Grattan
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B.C. 50—A.D. 250

Extent of the Kingdom—Description of the People—Ancient State of the Low Countries—Of the High Grounds—Contrasted with the present Aspect of the Country—Expedition of Julius Caesar—The Belgae—The Menapians—Batavians—Distinguished among the Auxiliaries of Rome—Decrease of national Feeling in Part of the Country— Steady Patriotism of the Frisons and Menapians—Commencement of Civilization—Early Formation of the Dikes—Degeneracy of those who became united to the Romans—Invasion of the Netherlands by the Salian Franks.



A.D. 250—800

Character of the Franks—The Saxon Tribes—Destruction of the Salians by a Saxon Tribe—Julian the Apostate—Victories of Clovis in Gaul—Contrast between the Low Countries and the Provinces of France—State of Friesland—Charles Martell—Friesland converted to Christianity—Finally subdued by France.



A.D. 800—1000

Commencement of the Feudal System in the Highlands—Flourishing State of the Low Countries—Counts of the Empire—Formation of the Gilden or Trades—Establishment of popular Privileges in Friesland—In what they consisted—Growth of Ecclesiastical Power—Baldwin of Flanders—Created Count—Appearance of the Normans—They ravage the Netherlands—Their Destruction, and final Disappearance—Division of the Empire into Higher and Lower Lorraine—Establishment of the Counts of Lorraine and Hainault—Increasing Power of the Bishops of Liege and Utrecht—Their Jealousy of the Counts; who resist their Encroachments.



A.D. 1018—1384

Origin of Holland—Its first Count—Aggrandizement of Flanders—Its growing Commerce—Fisheries—Manufactures—Formation of the County of Guelders, and of Brabant—State of Friesland—State of the Provinces—The Crusades—Their good Effects on the State of the Netherlands—Decline of the Feudal Power, and Growth of the Influence of the Towns—Great Prosperity of the Country—The Flemings take up Arms against the French—Drive them out of Bruges, and defeat them in the Battle of Courtrai—Popular Success in Brabant—Its Confederation with Flanders—Rebellion of Bruges against the Count, and of Ghent under James d' Artaveldt—His Alliance with England—His Power, and Death—Independence of Flanders—Battle of Roosbeke—Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, obtains the Sovereignty of Flanders.



A.D. 1384—1506

Philip succeeds to the Inheritance of Brabant—Makes War on England as a French Prince, Flanders remaining neuter—Power of the Houses of Burgundy and Bavaria, and Decline of Public Liberty—Union of Holland, Hainault, and Brabant—Jacqueline, Countess of Holland and Hainault—Flies from the Tyranny of her Husband, John of Brabant, and takes Refuge in England—Murder of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy—Accession of his Son, Philip the Good—His Policy—Espouses the Cause of John of Brabant against Jacqueline—Deprives her of Hainault, Holland, and Zealand—Continues his Persecution, and despoils her of her last Possession and Titles—She marries a Gentleman of Zealand, and Dies—Peace or Arras—Dominions of the House of Burgundy equal to the present Extent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands—Rebellion of Ghent—Affairs of Holland and Zealand—Charles the Rash—His Conduct in Holland—Succeeds his Father—Effects of Philip's Reign on the Manners of the People— Louis XI.—Death of Charles, and Succession of Mary—Factions among her Subjects—Marries Maximilian of Austria—Battle of Guinegate—Death of Mary—Maximilian unpopular—Imprisoned by his Subjects—Released—Invades the Netherlands—Succeeds to the Imperial Throne by the Death of his Father—Philip the Fair proclaimed Duke and Count—His wise Administration—Affairs of Friesland—Of Guelders—Charles of Egmont—Death of Philip the Fair.



A.D. 1506—1555

Margaret of Austria invested with the Sovereignty—Her Character and Government—Charles, Son of Philip the Fair, created Duke of Brabant and Count of Flanders and Holland—The Reformation—Martin Luther—Persecution of the Reformers—Battle of Pavia—Cession of Utrecht to Charles V.—Peace of Cambray—The Anabaptists' Sedition at Ghent—Expedition against Tunis and Algiers—Charles becomes possessed of Friesland and Guelders—His increasing Severity against the Protestants—His Abdication and Death—Review—Progress of Civilization.



A.D. 1555—1566

Accession of Philip II.—His Character and Government—His Wars with France, and with the Pope—Peace with the Pope—Battle of St. Quentin—Battle of Gravelines—Peace of Cateau-Cambresis—Death of Mary of England—Philip's Despotism—Establishes a Provisional Government—Convenes the States—General at Ghent—His Minister Granvelle—Goes to Zealand—Embarks for Spain—Prosperity revives— Effects of the Provisional Government—Marguerite of Palma— Character of Granvelle—Viglius de Berlaimont—Departure of the spanish Troops—Clergy—Bishops—National Discontent—Granvelle appointed Cardinal—Edict against Heresy—Popular Indignation— Reformation—State of Brabant—Confederacy against Granvelle— Prince of Orange—Counts Egmont and Horn join the Prince against Granvelle—Granvelle recalled—Council of Trent—Its Decrees received with Reprobation—Decrees against Reformers—Philip's Bigotry—Establishment of the Inquisition—Popular Resistance.



A.D. 1566

Commencement of the Revolution—Defence of the Prince of Orange—Confederacy of the Nobles—Louis of Nassau—De Brederode—Philip de St. Aldegonde—Assembly of the Council of State—Confederates enter Brussels—Take the Title of Gueux—Quit Brussels, and disperse in the Provinces—Measures of Government— Growing Power of the Confederates—Progress of the Reformation— Field Preaching—Herman Stricker—Boldness of the Protestants— Peter Dathen—Ambrose Ville—Situation of Antwerp—The Prince repairs to it, and saves it—Meeting of the Confederates at St. Trond—-The Prince of Orange and Count Egmont treat with them— Tyranny of Philip and Moderation of the Spanish Council—Image Breakers—Destruction of the Cathedral, of Antwerp—Terror of Government—Firmness of Viglius—Arbitration between the Court and the People—Concessions made by Government—Restoration of Tranquillity.



A.D. 1566—1573

Philip's Vindictiveness and Hypocrisy—Progress of Protestantism—Gradual Dissolution of the Conspiracy—Artifices of Philip and the Court to disunite the Protestants—Firmness of the Prince of Orange—Conference at Termonde—Egmont abandons the Patriot Cause—Fatal Effects of his Conduct—Commencement of Hostilities—Siege of Valenciennes—Protestant Synod at Antwerp—Haughty Conduct of the Government—Royalists Repulsed at Bois-le-duc—Battle of Osterweel, and Defeat of the Patriots—Antwerp again saved by the Firmness and Prudence of the Prince of Orange—Capitulation of Valenciennes—Success of the Royalists—Death of De Brederode—New Oath of Allegiance; Refused by the Prince of Orange and others—The Prince resolves on voluntary Banishment, and departs for Germany—His Example is followed by the Lords—Extensive Emigration—Arrival of the Duke of Orleans—Egmont's Humiliation—Alva's Powers—Arrest of Egmont and others—-Alva's first Acts of Tyranny—Council of Blood—Recall of the Government—Alva's Character—He summons the Prince of Orange, who is tried by Contumacy—Horrors committed by Alva—Desolate State of the Country—Trial and Execution of Egmont and Horn—The Prince of Orange raises an Army in Germany, and opens his first Campaign in the Netherlands—Battle of Heiligerlee—Death of Adolphus of Nassau—Battle of Jemminghem—Success and skilful Conduct of Alva—Dispersion of the Prince of Orange's Army—Growth of the naval Power of the Patriots—Inundation in Holland and Friesland—Alva reproached by Philip—Duke of Medina-Celi appointed Governor—Is attacked, and his fleet destroyed by the Patriots—Demands his Recall—Policy of the English Queen, Elizabeth—The Dutch take Brille—General Revolt in Holland and Zealand—New Expedition of the Prince of Orange—Siege of Mons—Success of the Prince—Siege of Haarlem—Of Alkmaer—Removal of Alva—Don Luis Zanega y Requesens appointed Governor-General.



A.D. 1573—1576

Character of Requesens—His conciliating Conduct—Renews the War against the States—Siege of Middleburg—Generosity of the Prince of Orange—Naval Victory—State of Flanders—Count Louis of Nassau—Battle of Mookerheyde—Counts Louis and Henry slain—Mutiny of the Spanish Troops—Siege of Leyden—Negotiations for Peace at Breda—The Spaniards take Zuriczee—Requesens dies—The Government devolves on the Council of State—Miserable State of the Country, and Despair of the Patriots—Spanish Mutineers—The States-General are convoked, and the Council arrested by the Grand Bailiff of Brabant—The Spanish Mutineers sack and capture Maestricht, and afterward Antwerp—The States-General assemble at Ghent and assume the Government—The Pacification of Ghent.



A.D. 1576—1580

Don John of Austria, Governor-General, arrives in the Netherlands—His Character and Conduct—The States send an Envoy to Elizabeth of England—She advances them a Loan of Money—The Union of Brussels—The Treaty of Marche-en-Famenne, called the Perpetual Edict—The impetuous Conduct of Don John excites the public Suspicion—He seizes on the Citadel of Namur—The Prince of Orange is named Protector of Brabant—The People destroy the Citadels of Antwerp and other Towns—The Duke of Arschot is named Governor of Flanders—He invites the Archduke Mathias to accept the Government of the Netherlands—Wise Conduct of the Prince of Orange—Ryhove and Hembyse possess themselves of supreme Power at Ghent—The Prince of Orange goes there and establishes Order—The Archduke Mathias is installed—The Prince of Parma arrives in the Netherlands, and gains the Battle of Gemblours—Confusion of the States-General—The Duke of Alencon comes to their Assistance—Dissensions among the Patriot Chiefs—Death of Don John of Austria—Suspicions of his having been Poisoned by Order of Philip II.—The Prince of Parma is declared Governor-General—The Union of Utrecht—The Prince of Parma takes the Field—The Congress of Cologne rendered fruitless by the Obstinacy of Philip—The States-General assemble at Antwerp, and issue a Declaration of National Independence—The Sovereignty of the Netherlands granted to the Duke of Alencon.



A.D. 1580—1584

Proscription of the Prince of Orange—His celebrated Apology—Philip proposes sending back the Duchess of Parma as Stadtholderess—Her son refuses to act jointly with her, and is left in the exercise of his Power—The Siege of Cambray undertaken by the Prince of Parma, and gallantly defended by the Princess of Epinoi—The Duke of Alencon created Duke of Anjou—Repairs to England, in hopes of marrying Queen Elizabeth—He returns to the Netherlands unsuccessful, and is inaugurated at Antwerp—The Prince of Orange desperately wounded by an Assassin—Details on John Jaureguay and his Accomplices—The People suspect the French of the Crime— Rapid Recovery of the Prince, who soon resumes his accustomed Activity—Violent Conduct of the Duke of Anjou, who treacherously attempts to seize on Antwerp—He is defeated by the Townspeople— His Disgrace and Death—Ungenerous Suspicions of the People against the Prince of Orange, who leaves Flanders in Disgust—Treachery of the Prince of Chimay and others—Treason of Hembyse—He is executed at Ghent—The States resolve to confer the Sovereignty on the Prince of Orange—He is murdered at Delft—Parallel between him and the Admiral Coligny—Execution of Balthazar Gerard, his Assassin—Complicity of the Prince of Parma.



A.D. 1584—1592

Effects of William's Death on the History of his Country—Firm Conduct of the United Provinces—They reject the Overtures of the Prince of Parma—He reduces the whole of Flanders—Deplorable Situation of the Country—Vigorous Measures of the Northern States—Antwerp besieged—Operations of the Siege—Immense Exertions of the Besiegers—The Infernal Machine—Battle on the Dike of Couvestien—Surrender of Antwerp—Extravagant Joy of Philip II.—The United Provinces solicit the Aid of France and England—Elizabeth sends them a supply of Troops under the Earl of Leicester—He returns to England—Treachery of some English and Scotch Officers—Prince Maurice commences his Career—The Spanish Armada—Justin of Nassau blocks up the Prince of Parma in the Flemish Ports—Ruin of the Armada—Philip's Mock Piety on hearing the News—Leicester dies—Exploits and Death of Martin Schenck—Breda surprised—The Duke of Parma leads his Army into France—His famous Retreat—His Death and Character.



A.D. 1592—1599

Count Mansfield named Governor-General—State of Flanders and Brabant—The Archduke Ernest named Governor-General—Attempts against the Life of Prince Maurice—He takes Groningen—Death of the Archduke Ernest—Count Fuentes named Governor-General—He takes Cambray and other Towns—Is soon replaced by the Archduke Albert of Austria—His high Reputation—He opens his first Campaign in the Netherlands—His Successes—Prince Maurice gains the Battle of Turnhout—Peace of Vervins—Philip yields the Sovereignty of the Netherlands to Albert and Isabella—A new Plot against the Life of Prince Maurice—Albert sets out for Spain, and receives the News of Philip's Death—Albert arrives in Spain, and solemnizes his Marriage with the Infanta Isabella—Review of the State of the Netherlands.



A.D. 1599—1604

Cardinal Andrew of Austria Governor—Francisco Mendoza, Admiral of Aragon, invades the neutral States of Germany—His atrocious Conduct—Prince Maurice takes the Field—His masterly Movements—Sybilla of Cleves raises an Army, which is, quickly destroyed—Great Exertions of the States-General—Naval Expedition under Vander Goes—Its complete Failure—Critical Situation of the United Provinces—Arrival of the Archduke in Brussels—Success of Prince Maurice—His Expedition into Flanders—Energy of the Archduke—Heroism of Isabella—Progress of Albert's Army—Its first Success—Firmness of Maurice—The Battle of Nieuport—Total Defeat of the Royalists—Consequences of the Victory—Prince Maurice returns to Holland—Negotiations for Peace—Siege of Ostend—Death of Elizabeth of England—United Provinces send Ambassadors to James I.—Successful Negotiations of Barneveldt and the Duke of Sully in London—Peace between England and Spain—Brilliant Campaign between Spinola and Prince Maurice—Battle of Roeroord—Naval Transactions—Progress of Dutch Influence in India—Establishment of the East India Company.



A.D. 1600—1619

Spinola proposes to invade the United Provinces—Successfully opposed by Prince Maurice—The Dutch defeated at Sea—Desperate Conduct of Admiral Klagoon—Great naval Victory of the Dutch, and Death of their Admiral Heemskirk—Overtures of the Archdukes for Peace—How received in Holland—Prudent Conduct of Barneveldt—Negotiations opened at The Hague—John de Neyen, Ambassador for the Archdukes—Armistice for Eight Months—Neyen attempts to bribe D'Aarsens, the Greffier of the States-General—His Conduct disclaimed by Verreiken, Counsellor to the Archdukes—Great Prejudices in Holland against King James I. and the English, and Partiality toward France—Rupture of the Negotiations—They are renewed—Truce for Twelve Years signed at Antwerp—Gives great Satisfaction in the Netherlands—Important Attitude of the United Provinces—Conduct of the Belgian Provinces—Disputes relative to Cleves and Juviers—Prince Maurice and Spinola remove their Armies into the contested states—Intestine Troubles in the United Provinces—Assassination of Henry IV. of France—His Character—Change in Prince Maurice's Character and Conduct—He is strenuously opposed by Barneveldt—Religious Disputes—King James enters the Lists of Controversy—Barneveldt and Maurice take Opposite sides—The cautionary Towns released from the Possession of England—Consequences of this Event—Calumnies against Barneveldt—Ambitious Designs of Prince Maurice—He is baffled by Barneveldt—The Republic assists its Allies with Money and Ships—Its great naval Power—Outrages of some Dutch Sailors in Ireland—Unresented by King James—His Anger at the manufacturing Prosperity of the United Provinces—Excesses of the Gomarists—The Magistrates call out the National Militia—Violent Conduct of Prince Maurice—Uncompromising Steadiness of Barneveldt—Calumnies against him—Maurice succeeds to the Title of Prince of Orange, and Acts with increasing Violence—Arrest of Barneveldt and his Friends—Synod of Dort—Its Consequences—Trial, Condemnation, and Execution of Barneveldt—Grotius and Hoogerbeets sentenced to perpetual Imprisonmemt—Ledenburg commits Suicide.



A.D. 1619—1625

The Parties Of Arminianism quite subdued—Emigrations—Grotius resolves to attempt an Escape from Prison—Succeeds in his Attempt—He repairs to Paris, and publishes his "Apology"—Expiration of the Twelve Years' Truce—Death of Philip III. And of the Archduke Albert—War in Germany—Campaign between Prince Maurice and Spinola—Conspiracy against the Life of Prince Maurice—Its Failure—Fifteen of the Conspirators executed—Great Unpopularity of Maurice—Death of Maurice.



A.D. 1625—1648

Frederick Henry succeeds his Brother—Charles I. King of England—War between France and England—Victories of Admiral Hein—Brilliant Success of Frederick Henry—Fruitless Enterprise in Flanders—Death of the Archduchess Isabella—Confederacy in Brabant—Its Failure, and Arrest of the Nobles—Ferdinand, Prince-Cardinal, Governor-General—Treaty between France and Holland—Battle of Avein—Naval Affairs—Battle of the Downs—Van Tromp—Negotiations for the Marriage of Prince William with the Princess Mary of England—Death of the Prince-Cardinal—Don Francisco de Mello Governor-General—Battle of Rocroy—Gallantry of Prince William—Death of Cardinal Richelieu and of Louis XIII.—English Politics—Affairs of Germany—Negotiations for Peace—Financial Embarrassment of the Republic—The Republic negotiates with Spain—Last Exploits of Frederick Henry—His Death, and Character—William II. Stadtholder—Peace of Munster—Resentment of Louis XIII.—Peace of Westphalia—Review of the Progress of Art, Science, and Manners—Literature— Painting—Engraving— Sculpture—Architecture—Finance—Population—Commercial Companies—Manners.



A.D. 1648—1678

State of the Republic after the Peace of Munster—State of England—William II. Stadtholder—His ambitious Designs and Violent Conduct—Attempts to seize on Amsterdam—His Death—Different Sensations caused by his Death—The Prerogatives of the Stadtholder assumed by the People—Naval War with England—English Act of Navigation—Irish Hostilities—Death of Tromp—A Peace with England—Disturbed State of the Republic—War with Denmark—Peace concluded—Charles II. restored to the English Throne—Declares War against Holland—Naval Actions—Charles endeavors to excite all Europe against the Dutch—His Failure—Renewed Hostilities—De Ruyter defeated—Peace of Breda—Invasion of Flanders by Louis XIV.—He overruns Brabant and Flanders—Triple League, 1668—Perfidious Conduct of Charles II.—He declares War against Holland, etc., as does Louis XIV.—Unprepared State of United Provinces—William III. Prince of Orange—Appointed Captain-General and High Admiral—Battle of Solebay—The French Invade the Republic—The States-General implore Peace—Terms demanded by Louis XIV. and by Charles II.—Desperation of the Dutch—The Prince of Orange proclaimed Stadtholder—Massacre of the De Witts—Fine Conduct of the Prince of Orange—He takes the Field—Is reinforced by Spain, the Emperor, and Brandenburg—Louis XIV. forced to abandon his Conquests—Naval Actions with the English—A Peace, 1674—Military Affairs—Battle of Senef—Death of De Ruyter—Congress for Peace at Nimeguen—Battle of Mont Cassel—Marriage of the Prince of Orange—Peace of Nimeguen.



A.D. 1678—1713

State of Europe subsequently to the Peace of Nimeguen—Arrogant Conduct of Louis XIV.—Truce for Twenty Years—Death of Charles II. of England—League of Augsburg—The Conduct of William—He invades England—James II. Deposed—William III. proclaimed King of England—King William puts himself at the Head of the Confederacy against Louis XIV., and enters on the War—Military Operations—Peace of Ryswyk—Death of Charles II. of Spain—War of Succession—Death of William III.—His Character—Duke of Marlborough—Prince Eugene—Successes of the Earl of Peterborough in Spain and Portugal—Louis XIV. solicits Peace—Conferences for Peace—Peace of Utrecht—Treaty of the Barrier.



A.D. 1713—1794

Quadruple Alliance—General Peace of Europe—Wise Conduct of the Republic—Great Danger from the bad State of the Dikes—Death of the Emperor Charles VI.—Maria Theresa Empress—Her heroic Conduct—Battle of Dettingen—Louis XV. invades the Netherlands—Conferences for Peace at Breda—Battle of Fontenoy—William IV. Stadtholder and Captain-General—Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle—Death of the Stadtholder, who is succeeded by his Son William V.—War of Seven Years—State of the Republic—William V. Stadtholder—Dismemberment of Poland—Joseph II. Emperor—His attempted Reforms in Religion—War with England—Sea-Fight on the Doggerbank—Peace with England, 1784—Progress of Public Opinion in Europe, in Belgium, and Holland—Violent Opposition to the Stadtholder—Arrest of the Princess of Orange—Invasion of Holland by the Prussian Army—Agitation in Belgium—Vander Noot—Prince Albert of Saxe-Teschen and the Archduchess Maria Theresa joint Governors-General—Succeeded by Count Murray—Riots—Meetings of the Provisional States—General Insurrection—Vonckists—Vander Mersch—Takes the Command of the Insurgents—His Skilful Conduct—He gains the Battle of Turnhout—Takes Possession of Flanders—Confederation of the Belgian Provinces—Death of Joseph II.—Leopold Emperor—Arrest of Vander Mersch—Arrogance of the States-General of Belgium—The Austrians overrun the Country—Convention at The Hague—Death of Leopold—Battle of Jemmappes—General Dumouriez—Conquest of Belgium by the French—Recovered by the Austrians—The Archduke Charles Governor-General—War in the Netherlands—Duke of York—The Emperor Francis—The Battle of Fleurus—Incorporation of Belgium with the French Republic—Peace of Leoben—Treaty of Campo-Formio.



A.D. 1794—1818

Pichegru invades Holland—Winter Campaign—The Duke of York vainly resists the French Army—Abdication of the Stadtholder—Batavian Republic—War with England—Unfortunate Situation of Holland—Naval Fight—English Expedition to the Helder—Napoleon Bonaparte—Louis Bonaparte named King of Holland—His popular Conduct—He abdicates the Throne—Annexation of Holland to the French Empire—Ruinous to the Prosperity of the Republic—The people desire the Return of the Prince of Orange—Confederacy to effect this Purpose—The Allied Armies advance toward Holland—The Nation rises to throw off the Yoke of France—Count Styrum and his Associates lead on that Movement, and proclaim the Prince of Orange, who lands from England—His first Proclamation—His second Proclamation.



A.D. 1813—1815

Rapid Organization of Holland—The Constitution formed—Accepted by the People—Objections made to it by some Individuals—Inauguration of the Prince-Sovereign—Belgium is occupied by the Allies—Treaty of Paris—Treaty of London—Formation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands—Basis of the Government—Relative Character and Situation of Holland and Belgium—The Prince-Sovereign of Holland arrives in Belgium as Governor-General—The fundamental Law—Report of the Commissioners by whom it was framed—Public Feeling in Holland, and in Belgium—The Emperor Napoleon invades France, and Belgium—The Prince of Orange takes the Field—The Duke of Wellington—Prince Blucher—Battle of Ligny—Battle of Quatre Bras—Battle of Waterloo—Anecdote of the Prince of Orange, who is wounded—Inauguration of the King.




The Duke of Alva Deposes Margaret of Parma.

Storming the Barricades at Brussels During the Revolution of 1848.

William the Silent of Orange.

A Holland Beauty.



B.C. 50—A.D. 200

The Netherlands form a kingdom of moderate extent, situated on the borders of the ocean, opposite to the southeast coast of England, and stretching from the frontiers of France to those of Hanover. The country is principally composed of low and humid grounds, presenting a vast plain, irrigated by the waters from all those neighboring states which are traversed by the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt. This plain, gradually rising toward its eastern and southern extremities, blends on the one hand with Prussia, and on the other with France. Having, therefore, no natural or strongly marked limits on those sides, the extent of the kingdom could only be determined by convention; and it must be at all times subject to the arbitrary and varying influence of European policy. Its greatest length, from north to south, is about two hundred and twenty English miles; and its breadth, from east to west, is nearly one hundred and forty.

Two distinct kinds of men inhabit this kingdom. The one occupying the valleys of the Meuse and the Scheldt, and the high grounds bordering on France, speak a dialect of the language of that country, and evidently belong to the Gallic race. They are called Walloons, and are distinguished from the others by many peculiar qualities. Their most prominent characteristic is a propensity for war, and their principal source of subsistence the working of their mines. They form nearly one-fourth of the population of the whole kingdom, or about one million three hundred thousand persons. All the rest of the nation speak Low German, in its modifications of Dutch and Flemish; and they offer the distinctive characteristics of the Saxon race—talents for agriculture, navigation, and commerce; perseverance rather than vivacity; and more courage than taste for the profession of arms. They are subdivided into Flemings—those who were the last to submit to the House of Austria; and Dutch—those who formed the republic of the United Provinces. But there is no difference between these two subdivisions, except such as has been produced by political and religious institutions. The physical aspect of the people is the same; and the soil, equally law and moist, is at once fertilized and menaced by the waters.

The history of this last-mentioned portion of the nation is completely linked to that of the soil which they occupy. In remote times, when the inhabitants of this plain were few and uncivilized, the country formed but one immense morass, of which the chief part was incessantly inundated and made sterile by the waters of the sea. Pliny the naturalist, who visited the northern coasts, has left us a picture of their state in his days. "There," says he, "the ocean pours in its flood twice every day, and produces a perpetual uncertainty whether the country may be considered as a part of the continent or of the sea. The wretched inhabitants take refuge on the sand-hills, or in little huts, which they construct on the summits of lofty stakes, whose elevation is conformable to that of the highest tides. When the sea rises, they appear like navigators; when it retires, they seem as though they had been shipwrecked. They subsist on the fish left by the refluent waters, and which they catch in nets formed of rushes or seaweed. Neither tree nor shrub is visible on these shores. The drink of the people is rain-water, which they preserve with great care; their fuel, a sort of turf, which they gather and form with the hand. And yet these unfortunate beings dare to complain against their fate, when they fall under the power and are incorporated with the empire of Rome!"

The picture of poverty and suffering which this passage presents is heightened when joined to a description of the country. The coasts consisted only of sand-banks or slime, alternately overflowed or left imperfectly dry. A little further inland, trees were to be found, but on a soil so marshy that an inundation or a tempest threw down whole forests, such as are still at times discovered at either eight or ten feet depth below the surface. The sea had no limits; the rivers no beds nor banks; the earth no solidity; for according to an author of the third century of our era, there was not, in the whole of too immense plain, a spot of ground that did not yield under the footsteps of man.—Eumenius.

It was not the same in the southern parts, which form at present the Walloon country. These high grounds suffered much less from the ravages of the waters. The ancient forest of the Ardennes, extending from the Rhine to the Scheldt, sheltered a numerous though savage population, which in all things resembled the Germans, from whom they derived their descent. The chase and the occupations of rude agriculture sufficed for the wants of a race less poor and less patient, but more unsteady and ambitious, than the fishermen of the low lands. Thus it is that history presents us with a tribe of warriors and conquerors on the southern frontier of the country; while the scattered inhabitants of the remaining parts seemed to have fixed there without a contest, and to have traced out for themselves, by necessity and habit, an existence which any other people must have considered insupportable.

This difference in the nature of the soil and in the fate of the inhabitants appears more striking when we consider the present situation of the country. The high grounds, formerly so preferable, are now the least valuable part of the kingdom, even as regards their agriculture; while the ancient marshes have been changed by human industry into rich and fertile tracts, the best parts of which are precisely those conquered from the grasp of the ocean. In order to form an idea of the solitude and desolation which once reigned where we now see the most richly cultivated fields, the most thriving villages, and the wealthiest towns of the continent, the imagination must go back to times which have not left one monument of antiquity and scarcely a vestige of fact.

The history of the Netherlands is, then, essentially that of a patient and industrious population struggling against every obstacle which nature could oppose to its well-being; and, in this contest, man triumphed most completely over the elements in those places where they offered the greatest resistance. This extraordinary result was due to the hardy stamp of character imprinted by suffering and danger on those who had the ocean for their foe; to the nature of their country, which presented no lure for conquest; and, finally, to the toleration, the justice, and the liberty nourished among men left to themselves, and who found resources in their social state which rendered change neither an object of their wants nor wishes.

About half a century before the Christian era, the obscurity which enveloped the north of Europe began to disperse; and the expedition of Julius Caesar gave to the civilized world the first notions of the Netherlands, Germany, and England. Caesar, after having subjugated the chief part of Gaul, turned his arms against the warlike tribes of the Ardennes, who refused to accept his alliance or implore his protection. They were called Belgae by the Romans; and at once pronounced the least civilized and the bravest of the Gauls. Caesar there found several ignorant and poor but intrepid clans of warriors, who marched fiercely to encounter him; and, notwithstanding their inferiority in numbers, in weapons, and in tactics, they nearly destroyed the disciplined armies of Rome. They were, however, defeated, and their country ravaged by the invaders, who found less success when they attacked the natives of the low grounds. The Menapians, a people who occupied the present provinces of Flanders and Antwerp, though less numerous than those whom the Romans had last vanquished, arrested their progress both by open fight and by that petty and harassing contest—that warfare of the people rather than of the soldiery—so well adapted to the nature of the country. The Roman legions retreated for the first time, and were contented to occupy the higher parts, which now form the Walloon provinces.

But the policy of Caesar made greater progress than his arms. He had rather defeated than subdued those who had dared the contest. He consolidated his victories without new battles; he offered peace to his enemies, in proposing to them alliance; and he required their aid, as friends, to carry on new wars in other lands. He thus attracted toward him, and ranged under his banners, not only those people situated to the west of the Rhine and the Meuse, but several other nations more to the north, whose territory he had never seen; and particularly the Batavians—a valiant tribe, stated by various ancient authors, and particularly by Tacitus, as a fraction of the Catti, who occupied the space comprised between these rivers. The young men of these warlike people, dazzled by the splendor of the Roman armies, felt proud and happy in being allowed to identify themselves with them. Caesar encouraged this disposition, and even went so far on some occasions as to deprive the Roman cavalry of their horses, on which he mounted those new allies, who managed them better than their Italian riders. He had no reason to repent these measures; almost all his subsequent victories, and particularly that of Pharsalia, being decided by the valor of the auxiliaries he obtained from the Low Countries.

These auxiliaries were chiefly drawn from Hainault, Luxemburg, and the country of the Batavians, and they formed the best cavalry of the Roman armies, as well as their choicest light infantry force. The Batavians also signalized themselves on many occasions, by the skill with which they swam across several great rivers without breaking their squadrons ranks. They were amply rewarded for their military services and hazardous exploits, and were treated like stanch and valuable allies. But this unequal connection of a mighty empire with a few petty states must have been fatal to the liberty of the weaker party. Its first effect was to destroy all feeling of nationality in a great portion of the population. The young adventurer of this part of the Low Countries, after twenty years of service under the imperial eagles, returned to his native wilds a Roman. The generals of the empire pierced the forests of the Ardennes with causeways, and founded towns in the heart of the country. The result of such innovations was a total amalgamation of the Romans and their new allies; and little by little the national character of the latter became entirely obliterated. But to trace now the precise history of this gradual change would be as impossible as it will be one day to follow the progress of civilization in the woods of North America.

But it must be remarked that this metamorphosis affected only the inhabitants of the high grounds, and the Batavians (who were in their origin Germans) properly so called. The scanty population of the rest of the country, endowed with that fidelity to their ancient customs which characterizes the Saxon race, showed no tendency to mix with foreigner, rarely figured in their ranks, and seemed to revolt from the southern refinement which was so little in harmony with their manners and ways of life. It is astonishing, at the first view, that those beings, whose whole existence was a contest against famine or the waves, should show less inclination than their happier neighbors to receive from Rome an abundant recompense for their services. But the greater their difficulty to find subsistence in their native land, the stronger seemed their attachment; like that of the Switzer to his barren rocks, or of the mariner to the frail and hazardous home that bears him afloat on the ocean. This race of patriots was divided into two separate peoples. Those to the north of the Rhine were the Frisons; those to the west of the Meuse, the Menapians, already mentioned.

The Frisons differed little from those early inhabitants of the coast, who, perched on their high-built huts, fed on fish and drank the water of the clouds. Slow and successive improvements taught them to cultivate the beans which grew wild among the marshes, and to tend and feed a small and degenerate breed of horned cattle. But if these first steps toward civilization were slow, they were also sure; and they were made by a race of men who could never retrograde in a career once begun.

The Menapians, equally repugnant to foreign impressions, made, on their part, a more rapid progress. They were already a maritime people, and carried on a considerable commerce with England. It appears that they exported thither salt, the art of manufacturing which was well known to them; and they brought back in return marl, a most important commodity for the improvement of their land. They also understood the preparation of salting meat, with a perfection that made it in high repute even in Italy; and, finally, we are told by Ptolemy that they had established a colony on the eastern coast of Ireland, not far from Dublin.

The two classes of what forms at present the population of the Netherlands thus followed careers widely different, during the long period of the Roman power in these parts of Europe. While those of the high lands and the Batavians distinguished themselves by a long-continued course of military service or servitude, those of the plains improved by degrees their social condition, and fitted themselves for a place in civilized Europe. The former received from Rome great marks of favor in exchange for their freedom. The latter, rejecting the honors and distinctions lavished on their neighbors, secured their national independence, by trusting to their industry alone for all the advantages they gradually acquired.

Were the means of protecting themselves and their country from the inundations of the sea known and practiced by these ancient inhabitants of the coast? or did they occupy only those elevated points of land which stood out like islands in the middle of the floods? These questions are among the most important presented by their history; since it was the victorious struggle of man against the ocean that fixed the extent and form of the country. It appears almost certain that in the time of Caesar they did not labor at the construction of dikes, but that they began to be raised during the obscurity of the following century; for the remains of ancient towns are even now discovered in places at present overflowed by the sea. These ruins often bring to light traces of Roman construction, and Latin inscriptions in honor of the Menapian divinities. It is, then, certain that they had learned to imitate those who ruled in the neighboring countries: a result by no means surprising; for even England, the mart of their commerce, and the nation with which they had the most constant intercourse, was at that period occupied by the Romans. But the nature of their country repulsed so effectually every attempt at foreign domination that the conquerors of the world left them unmolested, and established arsenals and formed communications with Great Britain only at Boulogne and in the island of the Batavians near Leyden.

This isolation formed in itself a powerful and perfect barrier between the inhabitants of the plain and those of the high grounds. The first held firm to their primitive customs and their ancient language; the second finished by speaking Latin, and borrowing all the manners and usages of Italy. The moral effect of this contrast was that the people, once so famous for their bravery, lost, with their liberty, their energy and their courage. One of the Batavian chieftains, named Civilis, formed an exception to this degeneracy, and, about the year 70 of our era, bravely took up arms for the expulsion of the Romans. He effected prodigies of valor and perseverance, and boldly met and defeated the enemy both by land and sea. Reverses followed his first success, and he finally concluded an honorable treaty, by which his countrymen once more became the allies of Rome. But after this expiring effort of valor, the Batavians, even though chosen from all nations for the bodyguards of the Roman emperors, became rapidly degenerate; and when Tacitus wrote, ninety years after Christ, they were already looked on as less brave than the Frisons and the other peoples beyond the Rhine. A century and a half later saw them confounded with the Gauls; and the barbarian conquerors said that "they were not a nation, but merely a prey."

Reduced into a Roman province, the southern portion of the Netherlands was at this period called Belgic Gaul; and the name of Belgium, preserved to our days, has until lately been applied to distinguish that part of the country situated to the south of the Rhine and the Meuse, or nearly that which formed the Austrian Netherlands.

During the establishment of the Roman power in the north of Europe, observation was not much excited toward the rapid effects of this degeneracy, compared with the fast-growing vigor of the people of the low lands. The fact of the Frisons having, on one occasion, near the year 47 of our era, beaten a whole army of Romans, had confirmed their character for intrepidity. But the long stagnation produced in these remote countries by the colossal weight of the empire was broken, about the year 250, by an irruption of Germans or Salian Franks, who, passing the Rhine and the Meuse, established themselves in the vicinity of the Menapians, near Antwerp, Breda and Bois-le-duc. All the nations that had been subjugated by the Roman power appear to have taken arms on this occasion and opposed the intruders. But the Menapians united themselves with these newcomers, and aided them to meet the shock of the imperial armies. Carausius, originally a Menapian pilot, but promoted to the command of a Roman fleet, made common cause with his fellow-citizens, and proclaimed himself emperor of Great Britain, where the naval superiority of the Menapians left him no fear of a competitor. In recompense of the assistance given him by the Franks, he crossed the sea again from his new empire, to aid them in their war with the Batavians, the allies of Rome; and having seized on their islands, and massacred nearly the whole of its inhabitants, he there established his faithful friends the Salians. Constantius and his son Constantine the Great vainly strove, even after the death of the brave Carausius, to regain possession of the country; but they were forced to leave the new inhabitants in quiet possession of their conquest.



A.D. 250—800

From this epoch we must trace the progress of a totally new and distinct population in the Netherlands. The Batavians being annihilated, almost without resistance, the low countries contained only the free people of the German race. But these people did not completely sympathize together so as to form one consolidated nation. The Salians, and the other petty tribes of Franks, their allies, were essentially warlike, and appeared precisely the same as the original inhabitants of the high grounds. The Menapians and the Frisons, on the contrary, lost nothing of their spirit of commerce and industry. The result of this diversity was a separation between the Franks and the Menapians. While the latter, under the name of Armoricans, joined themselves more closely with the people who bordered the Channel, the Frisons associated themselves with the tribes settled on the limits of the German Ocean, and formed with them a connection celebrated under the title of the Saxon League. Thus was formed on all points a union between the maritime races against the inland inhabitants; and their mutual antipathy became more and more developed as the decline of the Roman empire ended the former struggle between liberty and conquest.

The Netherlands now became the earliest theatre of an entirely new movement, the consequences of which were destined to affect the whole world. This country was occupied toward the sea by a people wholly maritime, excepting the narrow space between the Rhine and the Vahal, of which the Salian Franks had become possessed. The nature of this marshy soil, in comparison with the sands of Westphalia, Guelders, and North Brabant, was not more strikingly contrasted than was the character of their population. The Franks, who had been for a while under the Roman sway, showed a compound of the violence of savage life and the corruption of civilized society. They were covetous and treacherous, but made excellent soldiers; and at this epoch, which intervened between the power of imperial Rome and that of Germany, the Frank might be morally considered as a borderer on the frontiers of the Middle Ages. The Saxon (and this name comprehends all the tribes of the coast from the Rhine as far north as Denmark), uniting in himself the distinctive qualities of German and navigator, was moderate and sincere, but implacable in his rage. Neither of these two races of men was excelled in point of courage; but the number of Franks who still entered into the service of the empire diminished the real force of this nation, and naturally tended to disunite it. Therefore, in the subsequent shock of people against people, the Saxons invariably gained the final advantage.

They had no doubt often measured their strength in the most remote times, since the Franks were but the descendants of the ancient tribes of Sicambers and others, against whom the Batavians had offered their assistance to Caesar. Under Augustus, the inhabitants of the coast had in the same way joined themselves with Drusus, to oppose these their old enemies. It was also after having been expelled by the Frisons from Guelders that the Salians had passed the Rhine and the Meuse; but, in the fourth century, the two peoples, recovering their strength, the struggle recommenced, never to terminate—at least between the direct descendants of each. It is believed that it was the Varni, a race of Saxons nearly connected with those of England (and coming, like them, from the coast of Denmark), who on this occasion struck the decisive blow on the side of the Saxons. Embarking on board a numerous fleet, they made a descent in the ancient isle of the Batavians, at that time inhabited by the Salians, whom they completely destroyed. Julian the Apostate, who was then with a numerous army pursuing his career of early glory in these countries, interfered for the purpose of preventing the expulsion, or at least the utter destruction, of the vanquished; but his efforts were unavailing. The Salians appear to have figured no more in this part of the Low Countries.

The defeat of the Salians by a Saxon tribe is a fact on which no doubt rests. The name of the victors is, however, questionable. The Varni having remained settled near the mouths of the Rhine till near the year 500, there is strong, probability that they were the people alluded to. But names and histories, which may on this point appear of such little importance, acquire considerable interest when we reflect that these Salians, driven from their settlement, became the conquerors of France; that those Saxons who forced them on their career of conquest were destined to become the masters of England; and that these two petty tribes, who battled so long for a corner of marshy earth, carried with them their reciprocal antipathy while involuntarily deciding the destiny of Europe.

The defeat of the Franks was fatal to those peoples who had become incorporated with the Romans; for it was from them that the exiled wanderers, still fierce in their ruin, and with arms in their hands, demanded lands and herds; all, in short, which they themselves had lost. From the middle of the fourth century to the end of the fifth, there was a succession of invasions in this spirit, which always ended by the subjugation of a part of the country; and which was completed about the year 490, by Clovis making himself master of almost the whole of Gaul. Under this new empire not a vestige of the ancient nations of the Ardennes was left. The civilized population either perished or was reduced to slavery, and all the high grounds were added to the previous conquests of the Salians.

But the maritime population, when once possessed of the whole coast, did not seek to make the slightest progress toward the interior. The element of their enterprise and the object of their ambition was the ocean; and when this hardy and intrepid race became too numerous for their narrow limits, expeditions and colonies beyond the sea carried off their redundant population. The Saxon warriors established themselves near the mouths of the Loire; others, conducted by Hengist and Horsa, settled in Great Britain. It will always remain problematical from what point of the coast these adventurers departed; but many circumstances tend to give weight to the opinion which pronounces those old Saxons to have started from the Netherlands.

Paganism not being yet banished from these countries, the obscurity which would have enveloped them is in some degree dispelled by the recitals of the monks who went among them to preach Christianity. We see in those records, and by the text of some of their early laws, that this maritime people were more industrious, prosperous, and happy, than those of France. The men were handsome and richly clothed; and the land well cultivated, and abounding in fruits, milk, and honey. The Saxon merchants carried their trade far into the southern countries. In the meantime, the parts of the Netherlands which belonged to France resembled a desert. The monasteries which were there founded were established, according to the words of their charters, amid immense solitudes; and the French nobles only came into Brabant for the sport of bear-hunting in its interminable forests. Thus, while the inhabitants of the low lands, as far back as the light of history penetrates, appear in a continual state of improvement, those of the high grounds, after frequent vicissitudes, seem to sink into utter degeneracy and subjugation. The latter wished to denaturalize themselves, and become as though they were foreigners even on their native soil; the former remained firm and faithful to their country and to each other.

But the growth of French power menaced utter ruin to this interesting race. Clovis had succeeded about the year 485 of our era, in destroying the last remnants of Roman domination in Gaul. The successors of these conquerors soon extended their empire from the Pyrenees to the Rhine. They had continual contests with the free population of the Low Countries, and their nearest neighbors. In the commencement of the seventh century, the French king, Clotaire II., exterminated the chief part of the Saxons of Hanover and Westphalia; and the historians of those barbarous times unanimously relate that he caused to be beheaded every inhabitant of the vanquished tribes who exceeded the height of his sword. The Saxon name was thus nearly extinguished in those countries; and the remnant of these various peoples adopted that of Frisons (Friesen), either because they became really incorporated with that nation, or merely that they recognized it for the most powerful of their tribes. Friesland, to speak in the language of that age, extended then from the Scheldt to the Weser, and formed a considerable state. But the ascendency of France was every year becoming more marked; and King Dagobert extended the limits of her power even as far as Utrecht. The descendants of the Menapians, known at that epoch by the different names of Menapians, Flemings, and Toxandirans, fell one after another directly or indirectly under the empire of the Merovingian princes; and the noblest family which existed among the French—that which subsequently took the name of Carlovingians—comprised in its dominions nearly the whole of the southern and western parts of the Netherlands.

Between this family, whose chief was called duke of the Frontier Marshes (_Dux_Brabantioe_), and the free tribes, united under the common name of Frisons, the same struggle was maintained as that which formerly existed between the Salians and the Saxons. Toward the year 700, the French monarchy was torn by anarchy, and, under "the lazy kings," lost much of its concentrated power; but every dukedom formed an independent sovereignty, and of all those that of Brabant was the most redoubtable. Nevertheless the Frisons, under their king, Radbod, assumed for a moment the superiority; and Utrecht, where the French had established Christianity, fell again into the power of the pagans. Charles Martell, at that time young, and but commencing his splendid career, was defeated by the hostile king in the forest of the Ardennes; and though, in subsequent conquests, he took an ample revenge, Radbod still remained a powerful opponent. It is related of this fierce monarch that he was converted by a Christian missionary; but, at the moment in which he put his foot in the water for the ceremony of baptism, he suddenly asked the priest where all his old Frison companions in arms had gone after their death? "To hell," replied the priest. "Well, then," said Radbod, drawing back his foot from the water, "I would rather go to hell with them, than to paradise with you and your fellow foreigners!" and he refused to receive the rite of baptism, and remained a pagan.

After the death of Radbod, in 719, Charles Martell, now become duke of the Franks, mayor of the palace, or by whatever other of his several titles he may be distinguished, finally triumphed over the long-resisting Frisons. He labored to establish Christianity among them; but they did not understand the French language, and the lot of converting them was consequently reserved for the English. St. Willebrod was the first missionary who met with any success, about the latter end of the seventh century; but it was not till toward the year 750 that this great mission was finally accomplished by St. Boniface, archbishop of Mayence, and the apostle of Germany. Yet the progress of Christianity, and the establishment of a foreign sway, still met the partial resistance which a conquered but not enervated people are always capable of opposing to their masters. St. Boniface fell a victim to this stubborn spirit. He perished a martyr to his zeal, but perhaps a victim as well to the violent measures of his colleagues, in Friesland, the very province which to this day preserves the name.

The last avenger of Friesland liberty and of the national idols was the illustrious Witikind, to whom the chronicles of his country give the title of first azing, or judge. This intrepid chieftain is considered as a compatriot, not only by the historians of Friesland, but by those of Saxony; both, it would appear, having equal claims to the honor; for the union between the two peoples was constantly strengthened by intermarriages between the noblest families of each. As long as Witikind remained a pagan and a freeman, some doubt existed as to the final fate of Friesland; but when by his conversion he became only a noble of the court of Charlemagne, the slavery of his country was consummated.



A.D. 800—1000

Even at this advanced epoch of foreign domination, there remained as great a difference as ever between the people of the high grounds and the inhabitants of the plain. The latter were, like the rest, incorporated with the great monarchy; but they preserved the remembrance of former independence, and even retained their ancient names. In Flanders, Menapians and Flemings were still found, and in the country of Antwerp the Toxandrians were not extinct. All the rest of the coast was still called Friesland. But in the high grounds the names of the old inhabitants were lost. Nations were designated by the names of their rivers, forests, or towns. They were classified as accessories to inanimate things; and having no monuments which reminded them of their origin, they became as it were without recollections or associations; and degenerated, as may be almost said, into a people without ancestry.

The physical state of the country had greatly changed from the times of Caesar to those of Charlemagne. Many parts of the forest of the Ardennes had been cut down or cleared away. Civilization had only appeared for a while among these woods, to perish like a delicate plant in an ungenial clime; but it seemed to have sucked the very sap from the soil, and to have left the people no remains of the vigor of man in his savage state, nor of the desperate courage of the warriors of Germany. A race of serfs now cultivated the domains of haughty lords and imperious priests. The clergy had immense possessions in this country; an act of the following century recognizes fourteen thousand families of vassals as belonging to the single abbey of Nivelle. Tournay and Tongres, both Episcopal cities, were by that title somewhat less oppressed than the other ancient towns founded by the Romans; but they appear to have possessed only a poor and degraded population.

The low lands, on the other hand, announced a striking commencement of improvement and prosperity. The marshes and fens, which had arrested and repulsed the progress of imperial Rome, had disappeared in every part of the interior. The Meuse and the Scheldt no longer joined at their outlets, to desolate the neighboring lands; whether this change was produced by the labors of man, or merely by the accumulation of sand deposited by either stream and forming barriers to both. The towns of Courtraig, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Berg-op-Zoom, and Thiel, had already a flourishing trade. The last-mentioned town contained in the following century fifty-five churches; a fact from which, in the absence of other evidence, the extent of the population may be conjectured. The formation of dikes for the protection of lands formerly submerged was already well understood, and regulated by uniform custom. The plains thus reconquered from the waters were distributed in portions, according to their labor, by those who reclaimed them, except the parts reserved for the chieftain, the church, and the poor. This vital necessity for the construction of dikes had given to the Frison and Flemish population a particular habit of union, goodwill, and reciprocal justice, because it was necessary to make common cause in this great work for their mutual preservation. In all other points, the detail of the laws and manners of this united people presents a picture similar to that of the Saxons of England, with the sole exception that the people of the Netherlands were milder than the Saxon race properly so called—their long habit of laborious industry exercising its happy influence on the martial spirit original to both. The manufacturing arts were also somewhat more advanced in this part of the continent than in Great Britain. The Frisons, for example, were the only people who could succeed in making the costly mantles in use among the wealthy Franks.

The government of Charlemagne admitted but one form, borrowed from that of the empire in the period of its decline—a mixture of the spiritual and temporal powers, exercised in the first place by the emperor, and at second-hand by the counts and bishops. The counts in those times were not the heads of noble families, as they afterward became, but officers of the government, removable at will, and possessing no hereditary rights. Their incomes did not arise from salaries paid in money, but consisted of lands, of which they had the revenues during the continuance of their authority. These lands being situated in the limits of their administration, each regarded them as his property only for the time being, and considered himself as a tenant at will. How unfavorable such a system was to culture and improvement may be well imagined. The force of possession was, however, frequently opposed to the seigniorial rights of the crown; and thus, though all civil dignity and the revenues attached to it were but personal and reclaimable at will, still many dignitaries, taking advantage of the barbarous state of the country in which their isolated cantons were placed, sought by every possible means to render their power and prerogatives inalienable and real. The force of the monarchical government, which consists mainly in its centralization, was necessarily weakened by the intervention of local obstacles, before it could pass from the heart of the empire to its limits. Thus it was only by perpetually interposing his personal efforts, and flying, as it were, from one end to the other of his dominions, that Charlemagne succeeded in preserving his authority. As for the people, without any sort of guarantee against the despotism of the government, they were utterly at the mercy of the nobles or of the sovereign. But this state of servitude was quite incompatible with the union of social powers necessary to a population that had to struggle against the tyranny of the ocean. To repulse its attacks with successful vigor, a spirit of complete concert was absolutely required; and the nation being thus united, and consequently strong, the efforts of foreign tyrants were shattered by its resistance, as the waves of the sea that broke against the dikes by which it was defied.

From the time of Charlemagne, the people of the ancient Menapia, now become a prosperous commonwealth, formed political associations to raise a barrier against the despotic violence of the Franks. These associations were called Gilden, and in the Latin of the times Gildonia. They comprised, besides their covenants for mutual protection, an obligation which bound every member to give succor to any other, in cases of illness, conflagration, or shipwreck. But the growing force of these social compacts alarmed the quick-sighted despotism of Charlemagne, and they were, consequently, prohibited both by him and his successors. To give a notion of the importance of this prohibition to the whole of Europe, it is only necessary to state that the most ancient corporations (all which had preceded and engendered the most valuable municipal rights) were nothing more than gilden. Thus, to draw an example from Great Britain, the corporative charter of Berwick still bears the title of Charta Gildoniae. But the ban of the sovereigns was without efficacy, when opposed to the popular will. The gilden stood their ground, and within a century after the death of Charlemagne, all Flanders was covered with corporate towns.

This popular opposition took, however, another form in the northern parts of the country, which still bore the common name of Friesland; for there it was not merely local but national. The Frisons succeeded in obtaining the sanction of the monarch to consecrate, as it were, those rights which were established under the ancient forms of government. The fact is undoubted; but the means which they employed are uncertain. It appears most probable that this great privilege was the price of their military services; for they held a high place in the victorious armies of Charlemagne; and Turpin, the old French romancer, alluding to the popular traditions of his time, represents the warriors of Friesland as endowed with the most heroic valor.

These rights, which the Frisons secured, according to their own statements, from Charlemagne, but most undoubtedly from some one or other of the earliest emperors, consisted, first, in the freedom of every order of citizens; secondly, in the right of property—a right which admitted no authority of the sovereign to violate by confiscation, except in cases of downright treason; thirdly, in the privilege of trial by none but native judges, and according to their national usages; fourthly, in a very narrow limitation of the military services which they owed to the king; fifthly, in the hereditary title to feudal property, in direct line, on payment of certain dues or rents. These five principal articles sufficed to render Friesland, in its political aspect, totally different from the other portions of the monarchy. Their privileges secured, their property inviolable, their duties limited, the Frisons were altogether free from the servitude which weighed down France. It will soon be seen that these special advantages produced a government nearly analogous to that which Magna Charta was the means of founding at a later period in England.

The successors of Charlemagne chiefly signalized their authority by lavishing donations of all kinds on the church. By such means the ecclesiastical power became greater and greater, and, in those countries under the sway of France, was quite as arbitrary and enormous as that of the nobility. The bishops of Utrecht, Liege, and Tournay, became, in the course of time, the chief personages on that line of the frontier. They had the great advantage over the counts, of not being subjected to capricious or tyrannical removals. They therefore, even in civil affairs, played a more considerable part than the latter; and began to render themselves more and more independent in their episcopal cities, which were soon to become so many principalities. The counts, on their parts, used their best exertions to wear out, if they had not the strength to break, the chains which bound them to the footstool of the monarch. They were not all now dependent on the same sovereign; for the empire of Charlemagne was divided among his successors: France, properly so called, was bounded by the Scheldt; the country to the eastward of that river, that is to say, nearly the whole of the Netherlands, belonged to Lorraine and Germany.

In the state of things, it happened that in the year 864, Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald, king of France, having survived her husband Ethelwolf, king of England, became attached to a powerful Flemish chieftain called Baldwin. It is not quite certain whether he was count, forester, marquis, or protector of the frontiers; but he certainly enjoyed, no matter under what title, considerable authority in the country; since the pope on one occasion wrote to Charles the Bald to beware of offending him, lest he should join the Normans, and open to them an entrance into France. He carried off Judith to his possessions in Flanders. The king, her father, after many ineffectual threats, was forced to consent to their union; and confirmed to Baldwin, with the title of count, the hereditary government of all the country between the Scheldt and the Somme, a river of Picardy. This was the commencement of the celebrated county of Flanders; and this Baldwin is designated in history by the surname of Bras-de-fer (iron-handed), to which his courage had justly entitled him.

The Belgian historians are also desirous of placing about this epoch the first counts of Hainault, and even of Holland. But though it may be true that the chief families of each canton sought then, as at all times, to shake off the yoke, the epoch of their independence can only be fixed at the later period at which they obtained or enforced the privilege of not being deprived of their titles and their feudal estates. The counts of the high grounds, and those of Friesland, enjoyed at the utmost but a fortuitous privilege of continuance in their rank. Several foreigners had gained a footing and an authority in the country; among others Wickmand, from whom descended the chatelains of Ghent; and the counts of Holland, and Heriold, a Norman prince who had been banished from his own country. This name of Normans, hardly known before the time of Charlemagne, soon became too celebrated. It designated the pagan inhabitants of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, who, driven by rapacity and want, infested the neighboring seas. The asylum allowed in the dominions of the emperors to some of those exiled outlaws, and the imprudent provocations given by these latter to their adventurous countrymen, attracted various bands of Norman pirates to the shores of Guelders; and from desultory descents upon the coast, they soon came to inundate the interior of the country. Flanders alone successfully resisted them during the life of Baldwin Bras-de-fer; but after the death of this brave chieftain there was not a province of the whole country that was not ravaged by these invaders. Their multiplied expeditions threw back the Netherlands at least two centuries, if, indeed, any calculation of the kind may be fairly formed respecting the relative state of population and improvement on the imperfect data that are left us. Several cantons became deserted. The chief cities were reduced to heaps of ruins. The German emperors vainly interposed for the relief of their unfortunate vassals. Finally, an agreement was entered into, in the year 882, with Godfrey the king or leader of the Normans, by which a peace was purchased on condition of paying him a large subsidy, and ceding to him the government of Friesland. But, in about two years from this period, the fierce barbarian began to complain that the country he had thus gained did not produce grapes, and the present inspiration of his rapacity seemed to be the blooming vineyards of France. The emperor Charles the Fat, anticipating the consequence of a rupture with Godfrey, enticed him to an interview, in which he caused him to be assassinated. His followers, attacked on all points by the people of Friesland, perished almost to a man; and their destruction was completed, in 891, by Arnoul the Germanic. From that period, the scourge of Norman depredation became gradually less felt. They now made but short and desultory attempts on the coast; and their last expedition appears to have taken place about the year 1000, when they threatened, but did not succeed in seizing on, the city of Utrecht.

It is remarkable that, although for the space of one hundred and fifty years the Netherlands were continually the scene of invasion and devastation by these northern barbarians, the political state of the country underwent no important changes. The emperors of Germany were sovereigns of the whole country, with the exception of Flanders. These portions of the empire were still called Lorraine, as well as all which they possessed of what is now called France, and which was that part forming the appanage of Lothaire and of the Lotheringian kings. The great difficulty of maintaining subordination among the numerous chieftains of this country caused it, in 958, to be divided into two governments, which were called Higher and Lower Lorraine. The latter portion comprised nearly the whole of the Netherlands, which thus became governed by a lieutenant of the emperors. Godfrey count of Ardenne was the first who filled this place; and he soon felt all the perils of the situation. The other counts saw, with a jealous eye, their equal now promoted into a superior. Two of the most powerful, Lambert and Reginald, were brothers. They made common cause against the new duke; and after a desperate struggle, which did not cease till the year 985, they gained a species of imperfect independence—Lambert becoming the root from which sprang the counts of Louvain, and Reginald that of the counts of Hainault.

The emperor Othon II., who upheld the authority of his lieutenant, Godfrey, became convinced that the imperial power was too weak to resist singly the opposition of the nobles of the country. He had therefore transferred, about the year 980, the title of duke to a young prince of the royal house of France; and we thus see the duchy of Lower Lorraine governed, in the name of the emperor, by the last two shoots of the branch of Charlemagne, the dukes Charles and Othon of France, son and grandson of Louis d'Outremer. The first was a gallant prince: he may be looked on as the founder of the greatness of Brussels, where he fixed his residence. After several years of tranquil government, the death of his brother called him to the throne of France; and from that time he bravely contended for the crown of his ancestors, against the usurpation of Hugues Capet, whom he frequently defeated in battle; but he was at length treacherously surprised and put to death in 990. Othon, his son, did not signalize his name nor justify his descent by any memorable action; and in him ingloriously perished the name of the Carlovingians.

The death of Othon set the emperor and the great vassals once more in opposition. The German monarch insisted on naming some creature of his own to the dignity of duke; but Lambert II., count of Louvain, and Robert, count of Namur, having married the sisters of Othon, respectively claimed the right of inheritance to his title. Baldwin of the comely beard, count of Flanders, joined himself to their league, hoping to extend his power to the eastward of the Scheldt. And, in fact, the emperor, as the only means of disuniting his two powerful vassals, felt himself obliged to cede Valenciennes and the islands of Zealand to Baldwin. The imperial power thus lost ground at every struggle.

Amid the confusion of these events, a power well calculated to rival or even supplant that of the fierce counts was growing up. Many circumstances were combined to extend and consolidate the episcopal sway. It is true that the bishops of Tournay had no temporal authority since the period of their city being ruined by the Normans. But those of Liege and Utrecht, and more particularly the latter, had accumulated immense possessions; and their power being inalienable, they had nothing to fear from the caprices of sovereign favor, which so often ruined the families of the aristocracy. Those bishops, who were warriors and huntsmen rather than ecclesiastics, possessed, however, in addition to the lance and the sword, the terrible artillery of excommunication and anathema, which they thundered forth without mercy against every laic opponent; and when they had, by conquest or treachery, acquired new dominions and additional store of wealth, they could not portion it among their children, like the nobles, but it devolved to their successors, who thus became more and more powerful, and gained by degrees an authority almost royal, like that of the ecclesiastical elector of Germany.

Whenever the emperor warred against his lay vassals, he was sure of assistance from the bishops, because they were at all times jealous of the power of the counts, and had much less to gain from an alliance with them than with the imperial despots on whose donations they throve, and who repaid their efforts by new privileges and extended possessions. So that when the monarch, at length, lost the superiority in his contests with the counts, little was wanting to make his authority be merged altogether in the overgrown power of these churchmen. Nevertheless, a first effort of the bishop of Liege to seize on the rights of the count of Louvain in 1013 met with a signal defeat, in a battle which took place at the little village of Stongarde. And five years later, the count of the Friesland marshes (_comes_Frisonum_ _Morsatenorum_) gave a still more severe lesson to the bishop of Utrecht. This last merits a more particular mention from the nature of the quarrel and the importance of its results.



A.D. 1018—1384

The district in which Dordrecht is situated, and the grounds in its environs which are at present submerged, formed in those times an island just raised above the waters, and which was called Holland or Holtland (which means wooded land, or, according to some, hollow land). The formation of this island, or rather its recovery from the waters, being only of recent date, the right to its possession was more disputable than that of long-established countries. All the bishops and abbots whose states bordered the Rhine and the Meuse had, being equally covetous and grasping, and mutually resolved to pounce on the prey, made it their common property. A certain Count Thierry, descended from the counts of Ghent, governed about this period the western extremity of Friesland—the country which now forms the province of Holland; and with much difficulty maintained his power against the Frisons, by whom his right was not acknowledged. Beaten out of his own territories by these refractory insurgents, he sought refuge in the ecclesiastical island, where he intrenched himself, and founded a town which is believed to have been the origin of Dordrecht.

This Count Thierry, like all the feudal lords, took advantage of his position to establish and levy certain duties on all the vessels which sailed past his territory, dispossessing in the meantime some vassals of the church, and beating, as we have stated, the bishop of Utrecht himself. Complaints and appeals without number were laid at the foot of the imperial throne. Godfrey of Eenham, whom the emperor had created duke of Lower Lorraine, was commanded to call the whole country to arms. The bishop of Liege, though actually dying, put himself at the head of the expedition, to revenge his brother prelate, and punish the audacious spoiler of the church property. But Thierry and his fierce Frisons took Godfrey prisoner, and cut his army in pieces. The victor had the good sense and moderation to spare his prisoners, and set them free without ransom. He received in return an imperial amnesty; and from that period the count of Holland and his posterity formed a barrier against which the ecclesiastical power and the remains of the imperial supremacy continually struggled, to be only shattered in each new assault. John Egmont, an old chronicler, says that the counts of Holland were "a sword in the flanks of the bishops of Utrecht."

As the partial independence of the great vassals became consolidated, the monarchs were proportionally anxious to prevent its perpetuation in the same families. In pursuance of this system, Godfrey of Eenham obtained the preference over the Counts Lambert and Robert; and Frederick of Luxemburg was named duke of Lower Lorraine in 1046, instead of a second Godfrey, who was nephew and expectant heir to the first. But this Godfrey, upheld by Baldwin of Flanders, forced the emperor to concede to him the inheritance of the dukedom. Baldwin secured for his share the country of Alost and Waas, and the citadel of Ghent; and he also succeeded in obtaining in marriage for his son the Countess Richilde, heiress of Hainault and Namur. Thus was Flanders incessantly gaining new aggrandizement, while the duchy of Lorraine was crumbling away on every side.

In the year 1066 this state of Flanders, even then flourishing and powerful, furnished assistance, both in men and ships, to William the Bastard of Normandy, for the conquest of England. William was son-in-law to Count Baldwin, and recompensed the assistance of his wife's father by an annual payment of three hundred silver marks. It was Mathilda, the Flemish princess and wife of the conqueror, who worked with her own hands the celebrated tapestry of Bayeux, on which is embroidered the whole history of the conquest, and which is the most curious monument of the state of the arts in that age.

Flanders acquired a positive and considerable superiority over all the other parts of the Netherlands, from the first establishment of its counts or earls. The descendants of Baldwin Bras-de-fer, after having valiantly repulsed the Normans toward the end of the ninth century, showed themselves worthy of ruling over an industrious and energetic people. They had built towns, cut down and cleared away forests, and reclaimed inundated lands: above all things, they had understood and guarded against the danger of parcelling out their states at every succeeding generation; and the county of Flanders passed entire into the hands of the first-born of the family. The stability produced by this state of things had allowed the people to prosper. The Normans now visited the coasts, not as enemies, but as merchants; and Bruges became the mart of the booty acquired by these bold pirates in England and on the high seas. The fisheries had begun to acquire an importance sufficient to establish the herring as one of the chief aliments of the population. Maritime commerce had made such strides that Spain and Portugal were well known to both sailors and traders, and the voyage from Flanders to Lisbon was estimated at fifteen days' sail. Woollen stuffs formed the principal wealth of the country; but salt, corn, and jewelry were also important branches of traffic; while the youth of Flanders were so famous for their excellence in all martial pursuits that foreign sovereigns were at all times desirous of obtaining bodies of troops from this nation.

The greatest part of Flanders was attached, as has been seen, to the king of France, and not to Lorraine; but the dependence was little more than nominal. In 1071 the king of France attempted to exercise his authority over the country, by naming to the government the same Countess Richilde who had received Hainault and Namur for her dower, and who was left a widow, with sons still in their minority. The people assembled in the principal towns, and protested against this intervention of the French monarch. But we must remark that it was only the population of the low lands (whose sturdy ancestors had ever resisted foreign domination) that now took part in this opposition. The vassals which the counts of Flanders possessed in the Gallic provinces (the high grounds), and in general all the nobility, pronounced strongly for submission to France; for the principles of political freedom had not yet been fixed in the minds of the inhabitants of those parts of the country. But the lowlanders joined together under Robert, surnamed the Frison, brother of the deceased count; and they so completely defeated the French, the nobles and their unworthy associates of the high ground, that they despoiled the usurping Countess Richilde of even her hereditary possessions. In this war perished the celebrated Norman, William Fitz-Osborn, who had flown to the succor of the defeated countess, of whom he was enamored.

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