Part 10 out of 13
Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the new Creed.
Thus was the English Church cared for by its self-appointed shepherd. What
it should be called under Henry it would be hard to say. It was not
Protestant; and it was just as far from being Catholic.
THE SUPPRESSION OF THE MONASTERIES.--The suppression of the monasteries
was one of Henry's most high-handed measures. Several things led him to
resolve on the extinction of these religious houses. For one thing, he
coveted their wealth, which at this time included probably one-fifth of
the lands of the realm. Then the monastic orders were openly or secretly
opposed to Henry's claims of supremacy in religious matters; and this
naturally caused him to regard them with jealousy and disfavor. Hence
their ruin was planned.
In order to make the act appear as reasonable as possible, it was planned
to make the charge of immorality the ostensible ground of their
suppression. Accordingly two royal commissioners were appointed to inspect
the monasteries, and make a report upon what they might see and learn. If
we may believe the report, the smaller houses were conducted in a most
shameful manner. The larger houses, however, were fairly free from faults.
Many of them served as schools, hospitals, and inns, and all distributed
alms to the poor who knocked at their gates. But the undoubted usefulness
and irreproachable character of the larger foundations did not avail to
avert the indiscriminate ruin of all. A bill was passed which at once
dissolved between three and four hundred of the smaller monasteries, and
gave all their property to the king (1536).
The unscrupulous act stirred up a rebellion in the north of England, known
as the "Pilgrimage of Grace." This was suppressed with great severity, and
soon afterwards the larger monasteries were also dissolved, their
possessors generally surrendering the property voluntarily into the hands
of the king, lest a worse thing than the loss of their houses and lands
should come upon them. [Footnote: Altogether there were 90 colleges, 110
hospitals, 2374 chantries and chapels, and 645 monasteries broken up. Such
Roman Catholic church property as was spared at this time, was confiscated
during the reign of Edward VI., and a portion of it used to establish
schools and hospitals.] Pensions were granted to the dispossessed monks,
which relieved in part the suffering caused by the proceeding.
A portion of the confiscated wealth of the houses was used in founding
schools and colleges, and a part for the establishment of bishoprics; but
by far the greater portion was distributed among the adherents and
favorites of the king. The leading houses of the English aristocracy of
to-day, may, according to Hallam, trace the title of their estates back to
these confiscated lands of the religious houses. Thus a new nobility was
raised up whose interests led them to oppose any return to Rome; for in
such an event their estates were liable of course to be restored to the
PERSECUTION OF CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS.--Our disapproval of Henry's
unscrupulous conduct in compassing the ruin of the religious houses flames
into hot indignation when we come to speak of his atrocious crimes against
the lives and consciences of his subjects. The royal reformer persecuted
alike Catholics and Protestants. Thus, on one occasion, three Catholics
who denied that the king was the rightful Head of the Church, and three
Protestants who disputed the doctrine of the real presence in the
sacrament (a dogma which Henry had retained in his creed), were dragged on
the same sled to the place of execution.
The most illustrious of the king's victims were the learned Sir Thomas
More and the aged Bishop Fisher, both of whom were brought to the block
because their consciences would not allow them to acknowledge that the
king was rightfully the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
HENRY'S WIVES.--Henry's troubles with his wives form a curious and
shameful page in the history of England's kings. Anne Boleyn retained the
affections of her royal husband only a short time. She was charged with
unfaithfulness and beheaded, leaving a daughter who became the famous
Queen Elizabeth. The day after the execution of Anne the king married Jane
Seymour, who died the following year. She left a son by the name of
Edward, The fourth marriage of the king was to Anne of Cleves, who enjoyed
her queenly honors only a few months. The king becoming enamoured of a
young lady named Catherine Howard, Anne was divorced on the charge of a
previous betrothal, and a new alliance formed. But Catherine was proved
guilty of misconduct and her head fell upon the block. The sixth and last
wife of this amatory monarch was Catherine Parr. She was a discreet woman,
and managed to outlive her husband.
HIS DEATH AND THE SUCCESSION.--Henry died in 1547. His many marriages and
divorces had so complicated the question of the succession, that
Parliament, to avoid disputes after Henry's death, had given him power,
with some restrictions, to settle the matter by will. This he did,
directing that the crown should descend to his son Edward and his heirs;
in case Edward died childless, it was to go to Mary and her heirs, and
then to Elizabeth and her heirs.
LITERATURE UNDER HENRY VIII.: MORE'S UTOPIA.--The most prominent literary
figure of this period is Sir Thomas More. The work upon which his fame as
a writer mainly rests is his _Utopia_, or "Nowhere," a political romance
like Plato's _Republic_ or Sir Philip Sidney's _Arcadia_. It pictures an
imaginary kingdom away on an island beneath the equinoctial in the New
World, then just discovered, where the laws, manners, and customs of the
people were represented as being ideally perfect. In this wise way More
suggested improvements in social, political, and religious matters: for it
was the wretchedness, the ignorance, the social tyranny, the religious
intolerance, the despotic government of the times which inspired the
_Utopia_. More did not expect, however, that Henry would follow all his
suggestions, for he closes his account of the Utopians with this
admission: "I confess that many things in the commonwealth of Utopia I
rather _wish_ than _hope_ to see adopted in our own." And, indeed, More
himself, before his death, materially changed his views regarding
religious persecution. Although in his book he had expressed his decided
disapproval of persecution for conscience' sake, yet he afterwards, driven
into reaction by the terrible excesses of the Peasants' War in Germany,
and by other popular tumults which seemed to be the outgrowth of the
Protestant movement, favored persecution, and advised that unity of faith
be preserved by the use of force.
4. CHANGES IN THE CREED AND RITUAL UNDER EDWARD VI. (1547-1553).
CHANGES IN THE CREED.--In accordance with the provisions of Henry's will,
his only son Edward, by Jane Seymour, succeeded him. As Edward was but a
child of nine years, the government was entrusted to a board of regents
made up of both Protestants and Catholics. But the Protestants usurped
authority in the body, and conducted the government in the interests of
their party. The young king was carefully taught the doctrines of the
reformers, and changes were made in the creed and service of the English
Church which carried it still farther away from the Roman Catholic Church.
By a royal decree all pictures, images, and crosses were cleared from the
churches; the use of tapers, holy water, and incense were forbidden; the
worship of the Virgin and the invocation of saints was prohibited; belief
in purgatory was denounced as a superstition, and prayers for the dead
were interdicted; the real or bodily presence of Christ in the bread and
wine of the sacrament was denied; the prohibition against the marriage of
the clergy was annulled (a measure which pleased the clergy and reconciled
them to the other sweeping innovations); and the services of the Church,
which had hitherto been conducted in Latin, were ordered to be said in the
language of the people.
In order that the provision last mentioned might be effectually carried
out, the English Book of Common Prayer was prepared by Archbishop Cranmer,
and the first copy issued in 1549. This book, which was in the main simply
a translation of the old Latin service-books, with the subsequent change
of a word here and a passage there to keep it in accord with the growing
new doctrines, is the same that is used in the Anglican Church at the
In 1552 were published the well-known Forty-two Articles of Religion,
which formed a compendious creed of the reformed faith. These Articles,
reduced finally to thirty-nine, form the present standard of faith and
doctrine in the Church of England.
PERSECUTIONS TO SECURE UNIFORMITY.--These sweeping changes in the old
creed and in the services of the Church would have worked little hardship
or wrong had only everybody, as in More's happy republic, been left free
to follow what religion he would. But unfortunately it was only away in
"Nowhere" that men were allowed perfect freedom of conscience and worship.
By royal edict all preachers and teachers were forced to sign the Forty-
two Articles; and severe enactments, known as "Acts for the Uniformity of
Service," punished with severe penalties any departure from the forms of
the new prayer-book. The Princess Mary, who remained a firm and
conscientious adherent of the old faith, was not allowed to have the Roman
Catholic service in her own private chapel. Even the powerful intercession
of the Emperor Charles V. availed nothing. What was considered idolatry in
high places could not be tolerated.
Many persons during the reign were imprisoned for refusing to conform to
the new worship; while two at least were given to the flames as "heretics
and contemners of the Book of Common Prayer." Probably a large majority of
the English people were still at this time good Catholics at heart.
5. REACTION UNDER MARY (1553-1558).
RECONCILIATION WITH ROME.--Upon the death of Edward, an attempt was made,
in the interest of the Protestant party, to place upon the throne Lady
Jane Grey, [Footnote: The leaders of this movement were executed, and Lady
Jane Grey was also eventually brought to the block.] a grand-niece of
Henry VIII.; but the people, knowing that Mary was the rightful heir to
the throne, rallied about her, and she was proclaimed queen amidst great
demonstrations of loyalty. Soon after her accession, she was married to
Philip II. of Spain.
[Illustration: MARY TUDOR.]
Mary was an earnest Catholic, and her zeal effected the full
reestablishment of the Catholic worship throughout the realm. Parliament
voted that the nation should return to its obedience to the Papal See; and
then the members of both houses fell upon their knees to receive at the
hands of the legate of the Pope absolution from the sin of heresy and
schism. The sincerity of their repentance was attested by their repeal of
all the acts of Henry and of Edward by which the new worship had been set
up in the land. The joy at Rome was unbounded.
But not quite everything done by the reformers was undone. Parliament
refused to restore the confiscated Church lands, which was very natural,
as much of this property was now in the hands of the lords and commoners
(see p. 548). Mary, however, in her zeal for the ancient faith, restored a
great part of the property still in the possession of the crown, and
refounded many of the ruined monasteries and abbeys.
PERSECUTION OF THE PROTESTANTS.--With the reestablishment of the Roman
worship, the Protestants in their turn became the victims of persecution.
The three most eminent martyrs of what is known as the Marian persecutions
were Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer. Altogether, between two and three
hundred persons suffered death, during this reign, on account of their
For the part she took in the persecutions that marked her reign, Mary
should be judged not by the standard of our time, but by that of her own.
Punishment of heresy was then regarded, by both Catholics and Protestants
alike, as a duty which could be neglected by those in authority only at
the peril of Heaven's displeasure. Believing this, those of that age could
consistently do nothing less than labor to exterminate heresy with axe,
sword, and fagot.
THE LOSS OF CALAIS.--The marriage of Philip and Mary had been earnestly
wished for by the Emperor Charles V., in order that Philip, in those wars
with France which he well knew must be a part of the bequest which he
should make to his son, might have the powerful aid of England. This was
Philip's chief reason in seeking the alliance; and in due time he called
upon Mary for assistance against the French king. The result of England's
participation in the war was her mortifying loss of Calais (see p. 487),
which the French, by an unexpected attack, snatched out of the hands of
its garrison (1558). The unfortunate queen did not live out the year that
marked this calamity, which she most deeply deplored.
6. FINAL ESTABLISHMENT OF PROTESTANTISM UNDER ELIZABETH (1558-1603).
THE QUEEN.--Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn. She
seems to have inherited the characteristics of both parents; hence the
inconsistencies of her disposition.
[Illustration: ENTRANCE OF QUEEN ELIZABETH INTO LONDON. (Showing the
costumes of the time.)]
When the death of Mary called Elizabeth to the throne, she was twenty-five
years of age. Like her father, she favored the reformed faith rather from
policy than conviction. It was to the Protestants alone that she could
look for support; her title to the crown was denied by every true Catholic
in the realm, for she was the child of that marriage which the Pope had
forbidden under pain of the anathemas of the Church.
Elizabeth possessed a strong will, indomitable courage, admirable
judgment, and great political tact. It was these qualities which rendered
her reign the strongest and most illustrious in the record of England's
sovereigns, and raised the nation from a position of insignificance to a
foremost place among the states of Europe.
Along with her good and queenly qualities and accomplishments, Elizabeth
had many unamiable traits and unwomanly ways. She was capricious,
treacherous, unscrupulous, ungrateful, and cruel. She seemed almost wholly
devoid of a moral or religious sense. Deception and falsehood were her
usual weapons in diplomacy. "In the profusion and recklessness of her
lies," declares Green, "Elizabeth stood without a peer in Christendom."
HER MINISTERS.--One secret of the strength and popularity of Elizabeth's
government was the admirable judgment she exercised in her choice of
advisers. Around her Council-board she gathered the wisest and strongest
men to be found in the realm. The most eminent of the queen's ministers
was Sir William Cecil (Lord Burleigh), a man of great sagacity and
ceaseless industry, to whose able counsel and prudent management is
largely due the success of Elizabeth's reign. He stood at the head of the
Queen's Council for forty years. His son Robert, Sir Nicholas Bacon, and
Sir Francis Walsingham were also prominent among the queen's advisers.
REESTABLISHMENT OF THE REFORMED CHURCH.--As Mary undid the work in
religion of Henry and Edward, so now her work is undone by Elizabeth. The
religious houses that had been reestablished by Mary were again dissolved,
and Parliament, by two new Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, relaid the
foundations of the Anglican Church.
The Act of Supremacy required all the clergy, and every person holding
office under the crown, to take an oath declaring the queen to be the
supreme governor of the realm in all spiritual as well as temporal things,
and renouncing the authority or jurisdiction of any foreign prince or
prelate. For refusing to take this oath, many Catholics during Elizabeth's
reign suffered death, and many more endured within the Tower the worse
horrors of the rack.
The Act of Uniformity forbade any clergyman to use any but the Anglican
liturgy, and required every person to attend the Established Church on
Sunday and other holy days. For every absence a fine of one shilling was
imposed. The persecutions which arose under this law caused many Catholics
to seek freedom of worship in other countries.
THE PROTESTANT NON-CONFORMISTS.--The Catholics were not the only persons
among Elizabeth's subjects who were opposed to the Anglican worship. There
were Protestant non-conformists--the Puritans and the Separatists--who
troubled her almost as much as the Romanists.
The Puritans were so named because they desired a _purer_ form of
worship than the Anglican. To these earnest reformers the Church Elizabeth
had established seemed but half-reformed. Many rites and ceremonies, such
as wearing the surplice and making the cross in baptism, had been
retained; and these things, in their eyes, appeared mere Popish
superstitions. What they wanted was a more sweeping change, a form of
worship more like that of the Calvinistic churches of Geneva, in which
city very many of them had lived as exiles during the Marian persecution.
They, however, did not at once withdraw from the Established Church, but
remaining within its pale, labored to reform it, and to shape its
doctrines and discipline to their notions.
The Separatists were still more zealous reformers than the Puritans: in
their hatred of everything that bore any resemblance to the Roman worship,
they flung away the surplice and the Prayer-book, severed all connection
with the Established Church, and refused to have anything to do with it.
Under the Act of Conformity they were persecuted with great severity, so
that multitudes were led to seek an asylum upon the continent. It was from
among these exiles gathered in Holland that a little later came the
passengers of the Mayflower,--the Pilgrim Fathers, who laid the
foundations of civil liberty in the New World.
MARY STUART, QUEEN OF SCOTS.--A large part of the history of Elizabeth's
reign is intertwined with the story of her cousin, Mary Stuart, Queen of
Scots. Mary Stuart was the daughter of James V. of Scotland, and to her
_in right of birth_--according to all Catholics who denied the validity of
Henry's marriage with Anne Boleyn--belonged the English crown next, after
Mary Tudor. Upon the death, in 1560, of her husband Francis II. of France,
Mary gave up life at the French court, and returned to her native land.
She was now in her nineteenth year. The subtle charm of her beauty seems
to have bewitched all who came into her presence--save the more zealous of
the Protestants, who could never forget that their young sovereign was a
Catholic. The stern old reformer, John Knox, made her life miserable. He
was a veritable Elijah, in whose eyes Mary appeared a modern Jezebel. He
called her a "Moabite," and the "Harlot of Babylon," till she wept from
sheer vexation. She dared not punish the impudent preacher, for she knew
too well the strength of the Protestant feeling among her subjects.
Other things now conspired with Mary's hated religion to alienate entirely
the love of her people. Her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley,
was murdered. The queen was suspected of having some guilty knowledge of
the affair. She was imprisoned and forced to abdicate in favor of her
infant son James.
Escaping from prison, Mary fled into England (1568). Here she threw
herself upon the generosity of her cousin Elizabeth, and entreated aid in
recovering her throne. But the part which she was generally believed to
have had in the murder of her husband, her disturbing claims to the
English throne, and the fact that she was a Catholic, all conspired to
determine her fate. She was placed in confinement, and for nineteen years
she remained a prisoner. During all this time Mary was the centre of
innumerable plots and conspiracies on the part of the Catholics, which
aimed at setting her upon the English throne. The Pope aided these
conspirators by a bull excommunicating Elizabeth, denying her right to the
crown she wore, and releasing her subjects from their allegiance.
Events just now occurring on the continent tended to inflame the
Protestants of England with a deadly hatred against Mary and her Catholic
friends and abettors. In 1572 the Huguenots of France were slaughtered on
St. Bartholomew's Day. In 1584 the Prince of Orange fell at the hands of a
hired assassin. That there were daggers waiting to take the life of
Elizabeth was well known. It was evident that so long as Mary lived the
queen's life was in constant danger. In the feverish state of the public
mind, it was natural that the air should be filled with rumors of plots of
every kind. Finally, a carefully laid conspiracy to assassinate Elizabeth
and place Mary on the throne, was unearthed. Mary was tried for complicity
in the plot, was declared guilty, and, after some hesitation, feigned or
otherwise, on the part of Elizabeth, was ordered to the block (1587).
THE INVINCIBLE ARMADA.--The execution of Mary Stuart led immediately to
the memorable attempt against England by the Spanish Armada. Before her
death the Queen of Scots had bequeathed to Philip II. of Spain her claims
to the English crown. To enforce these rights, to avenge the death of
Mary, to punish Elizabeth for rendering aid to his rebellious subjects in
the Netherlands, and to deal a fatal blow to the Reformation in Europe by
crushing the Protestants of England, Philip resolved upon making a
tremendous effort for the conquest of the heretical and troublesome
island. Vast preparations were made for carrying out the project. Great
fleets were gathered in the harbors of Spain, and a large army was
assembled in the Netherlands to cooperate with the naval armament. The
Pope, Sixtus V., blessed the enterprise, which was thus rendered a sort of
These threatening preparations produced a perfect fever of excitement in
England; for we must bear in mind that the Spanish king was at this time
the most powerful potentate in Europe, commanding the resources of a large
part of two worlds. Never did Roman citizens rise more splendidly to avert
some terrible peril threatening the republic than the English people now
arose as a single man to defend their island-realm against the revengeful
and ambitious project of Spain. The imminent danger served to unite all
classes, the gentry and the yeomanry, Protestants and Catholics. The
latter might intrigue to set a Mary Stuart on the English throne, but they
were not ready to betray their land into the hands of the hated Spaniards.
[Illustration: SPANISH AND ENGLISH WAR-VESSELS OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.]
July 19, 1588, the Invincible Armada, as it was boastfully called, was
first descried by the watchmen on the English cliffs. It swept up the
channel in the form of a great crescent, seven miles in width from tip to
tip of horn. The English fleet, commanded by Drake, Howard, and Lord Henry
Seymour, disputed its advance. The light build and quick movements of the
English ships gave them a great advantage over the clumsy, unwieldy
Spanish galleons. The result was the complete defeat of the immense
Armada, and the destruction of many of the ships. The remaining galleons
sought to escape by sailing northward around the British Isles; but--a
terrible tempest arising, many of the fleeing ships were dashed to pieces
on the Scottish or the Irish shores. Barely one-third of the ships of the
Armada ever reentered the harbors whence they sailed. When intelligence of
the woeful disaster was carried to Philip, he simply said, "God's will be
done; I sent my fleet to fight with the English, not with the elements."
The destruction of the Invincible Armada was not only a terrible blow to
Spanish pride, but an equally heavy blow to Spanish supremacy among the
states of Europe. From this time on, Spain's prestige and power rapidly
As to England, she had been delivered from a great peril; and as to the
cause of Protestantism, it was now safe.
MARITIME AND COLONIAL ENTERPRISES.--The crippling of the naval power of
Spain left England mistress of the seas. The little island-realm now
entered upon the most splendid period of her history. The old Norse blood
of her people, stirred by recent events, seemed to burn with a feverish
impatience for maritime adventure and glory. Many a story of the daring
exploits of English sea-rovers during the reign of Elizabeth seems like a
repetition of some tale of the old Vikings. [Footnote: Among all these
sea-rovers, half explorer, half pirate, Sir Francis Drake (1545-1595) was
preeminent. Before the Armada days he had sailed around the globe (1577-
1579), and for the achievement had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth. The
whole life of this sixteenth century Viking was spent in fighting the
fleets of his sovereign's enemy, Philip II., in capturing Spanish
treasure-vessels on the high sea, and in pillaging the warehouses and
settlements on every Spanish shore in the Old and the New World.]
Especially deserving of mention among the enterprises of these stirring
and romantic times are the undertakings of Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618).
Several expeditions were sent out by him for the purpose of making
explorations and forming settlements in the New World. One of these, which
explored the central coasts of North America, returned with such glowing
accounts of the beauty and richness of the land visited, that, in honor of
the Virgin Queen, it was named "Virginia."
Sir Walter Raleigh sent two colonies to the new land, but they both failed
to form permanent settlements. It is said that the returning colonists
first acquainted the English with the Indian custom of smoking tobacco,
and that Sir Walter Raleigh made the practice popular. This may be true;
yet prior to this, Europeans had acquired a knowledge of the plant and
some of its uses through Spanish explorers and settlers. At this same time
also, the potato, likewise a native product of the New World, was
introduced into the British Isles.
THE QUEEN'S DEATH.--The closing days of Elizabeth's reign were, to her
personally, dark and gloomy. She seemed to be burdened with a secret
grief, [Footnote: In 1601 she sent to the block her chief favorite, the
Earl of Essex, who had been found guilty of treason. She wished to spare
him, and probably would have done so, had a token which he sent her from
his prison reached her. Read the story as told in all the histories of
England.] as well as by the growing infirmities of age. She died March 24,
1603, in the seventieth year of her age, and the forty-fifth of her reign.
With her ended the Tudor line of English sovereigns.
_Literature of the Elizabethan Era._
INFLUENCES FAVORABLE TO LITERATURE.--The years covered by the reign of
Elizabeth constitute the most momentous period in history. It was the age
when Europe was most deeply stirred by the Reformation. It was, too, a
period of marvellous physical and intellectual expansion and growth. The
discoveries of Columbus and Copernicus had created, as Froude affirms,
"not in any metaphor, but in plain and literal speech, a new heaven and a
new earth." The New Learning had, at the same time, discovered the old
world--had revealed an unsuspected treasure in the philosophies and
literatures of the past.
No people of Europe felt more deeply the stir and movement of the times,
nor helped more to create this same stir and movement, than the English
nation. There seemed to be nothing too great or arduous for them to
undertake. They made good their resistance to the Roman See; they humbled
the pride of the strongest monarch in Christendom; they sailed round the
globe, and penetrated all its seas.
An age of such activity and achievement almost of necessity gives birth to
a strong and vigorous literature. And thus is explained, in part at least,
how the English people during this period should have developed a
literature of such originality and richness and strength as to make it the
prized inheritance of all the world.
THE WRITERS.--To make special mention of all the great writers who adorned
the Elizabethan era would carry us quite beyond the limits of our book.
Having said something of the influences under which they wrote, we will
simply add that this age was the age of Shakespeare and Spenser and Bacon.
[Footnote: William Shakespeare (1564-1616); Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599);
Francis Bacon (1561-1626). Shakespeare and Bacon, it will be noticed,
outlived Elizabeth. Two other names hold a less prominent place,--that of
Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), the courtly knight, who wrote the
_Arcadia_, a sort of pastoral romance, and _A Defence of Poesy_, a work
intended to counteract the Puritanical spirit then rising; and that of
Richard Hooker (1553-1600), who in his _Ecclesiastical Polity_ defends the
[Illustration: REDUCED FAC-SIMILE OF THE SIGNATURE OF QUEEN ELIZABETH]
THE REVOLT OF THE NETHERLANDS: RISE OF THE DUTCH REPUBLIC. (1572-1609.)
THE COUNTRY.--The term Netherlands (low-lands) was formerly applied to all
that low, marshy district in the northwest of Europe, sunk much of it
below the level of the sea, now occupied by the kingdoms of Holland and
Belgium. The entire strip of land is simply the delta accumulations of the
Rhine and other rivers emptying into the North Sea. Originally it was
often overflowed by its streams and inundated by the ocean. But this
unpromising morass, protected at last by heavy dykes against the invasions
of the ocean and the overflow of its streams, was destined to become the
site of cities which at one period were the richest and most potent of
Europe, and the seat of one of the foremost commonwealths of modern times.
No country in Europe made greater progress in civilization during the
medi�val era than the Netherlands. At the opening of the sixteenth century
they contained a crowded and busy population of 3,000,000 souls. The
ancient marshes had been transformed into carefully kept gardens and
orchards. The walled cities alone numbered between two and three hundred.
THE LOW COUNTRIES UNDER CHARLES V. (1515-1555).--The Netherlands were part
of those possessions over which Charles V. ruled by hereditary right.
Though Charles could not prevent the growth of Protestantism in Germany,
he resolved to root out the heresy from his hereditary possessions of the
Netherlands. By an Imperial edict he condemned to death all persons
presuming to read the Scriptures, or even to discuss religious topics. The
Inquisition was introduced, and thousands perished at the stake and upon
the scaffold, or were strangled, or buried alive. But when Charles retired
to the monastery at Yuste (see p. 534), the reformed doctrines were,
notwithstanding all his efforts, far more widely spread and deeply rooted
in the Netherlands than when he entered upon their extirpation by fire and
ACCESSION OF PHILIP II.--In 1555, in the presence of an august and
princely assembly at Brussels, and amidst the most imposing and dramatic
ceremonies, Charles V. abdicated the crown whose weight he could no longer
bear, and placed the same upon the head of his son Philip (see p. 534),
who was a most zealous Catholic. Philip remained in the Netherlands after
his coronation four years, employing much of his time in devising means to
root out the heresy of Protestantism. In 1559 he set sail for Spain, never
LONG LIVE THE BEGGARS.--Upon his departure from the Netherlands Philip
entrusted their government to his half-sister, Margaret, Duchess of Parma,
as Regent. Under the administration of Margaret (1559-1567) the
persecution of the Protestants went on with renewed bitterness. Philip
declared that "he would rather lose a hundred thousand lives, were they
all his own, than allow the smallest deviation from the standards of the
Roman Catholic Church." Thousands fled the country, many of the fugitives
finding a home in England. At last the nobles leagued together for the
purpose of resisting the Inquisition. They demanded of the Regent a
redress of grievances. When the petition was presented to the Duchess, she
displayed great agitation, whereupon one of her councillors exclaimed,
"Madam, are you afraid of a pack of beggars?"
The expression was carried to the nobles, who were assembled at a banquet.
Immediately one of their number suspended a beggar's wallet from his neck,
and filling a wooden bowl with wine, proposed the toast, "Long live the
Beggars." The name was tumultuously adopted, and became the party
designation of the patriot Netherlanders during their long struggle with
the Spanish power.
THE ICONOCLASTS (1566).--Affairs now rapidly verged towards violence and
open revolt. The only reply of the government to the petition of the
nobles was a decree termed the _Moderation_, which substituted hanging for
burning in the case of condemned heretics. The pent-up indignation of the
people at length burst forth in an uncontrollable fury. They gathered in
great mobs, and arming themselves with whatever implements they could
first seize, proceeded to demolish every image they could find in the
churches throughout the country. The rage of the insurgents was turned in
this direction, because in their eyes these churches represented the hated
Inquisition under which they were suffering. Scarcely a church in all the
Netherlands escaped. The monasteries, too, were sacked, their libraries
burned, and the inmates driven from their cloisters. In the province of
Flanders alone there were four hundred sacred buildings visited by the
mob, and sacked. The tempest destroyed innumerable art treasures, which
have been as sincerely mourned by the lovers of the beautiful as the
burned rolls of the Alexandrian Library have been lamented by the lovers
These image-breaking riots threw Philip into a perfect transport of rage.
He tore his beard, and exclaimed, "It shall cost them dear! I swear it by
the soul of my father!"
THE DUKE OF ALVA AND WILLIAM OF ORANGE.--The year following the outbreak
of the Iconoclasts, Philip sent to the Netherlands a veteran Spanish army,
headed by the Duke of Alva. The duke was one of the ablest generals of the
age; and the intelligence of his coming threw the provinces into a state
of the greatest agitation and alarm. Those who could do so hastened to get
out of the country. William the Silent, Prince of Orange, fled to Germany,
where he began to gather an army of volunteers for the struggle which he
now saw to be inevitable. Egmont and Horn, noblemen of high rank and great
distinction, were seized, cast into prison, and afterwards beheaded
The eyes of all Netherlanders were now turned to the Prince of Orange as
their only deliverer. Towards the close of the year 1568, he marched from
Germany against Alva, at the head of an army of 30,000 men, which he had
raised and equipped principally at his own expense. The war was now fully
joined. The struggle lasted for more than a generation,--for thirty-seven
[Illustration: WILLIAM OF ORANGE (the Silent). (After a copper-plate by
William Jacobz Delff, 1580-1638.)]
The Spanish armies were commanded successively by the most experienced and
distinguished generals of Europe,--the Duke of Alva, Don John of Austria
(the conqueror of the Moors and the hero of the great naval fight of
Lepanto), and the Duke of Parma; but the Prince of Orange coped ably with
them all, and in the masterly service which he rendered his country, thus
terribly assaulted, earned the title of "the Founder of Dutch Liberties."
ISOLATION OF THE PROVINCES.--The Netherlanders sustained the unequal
contest almost single-handed; for, though they found much sympathy among
the Protestants of Germany, France, and England, they never received
material assistance from any of these countries, excepting England, and it
was not until late in the struggle that aid came from this source.
Elizabeth did, indeed, at first furnish the patriots with secret aid, and
opened the ports of England to the "Beggars of the Sea"; but after a time
the fear of involving herself in a war with Philip led her to withhold for
a long period all contributions and favors. As regards the German states,
they were too much divided among themselves to render efficient aid; and
just at the moment when the growing Protestant sentiment in France
encouraged the Netherlanders to look for help from the Huguenot party
there, the massacre of St. Bartholomew extinguished forever all hope of
succor from that quarter (see p. 576). So the little revolted provinces
were left to carry on unaided, as best they might, a contest with the most
powerful monarch of Christendom.
The details of this memorable struggle we must, of course, leave
unnoticed, and hurry on to the issue of the matter. In so doing we shall
pass unnoticed many memorable sieges and battles. [Footnote: Read in
Motley's _Rise of the Dutch Republic_ the siege and sack of Harlem
and the relief of Leyden.]
PACIFICATION OF GHENT (1576).--The year 1576 was marked by a revolt of the
Spanish soldiers, on account of their not receiving their pay, the costly
war having drained Philip's treasury. The mutinous army marched through
the land, pillaging city after city, and paying themselves with the
spoils. The beautiful city of Antwerp was ruined. The horrible massacre of
its inhabitants, and the fiendish atrocities committed by the frenzied
soldiers, caused the awful outbreak to be called the "Spanish Fury."
The terrible state of affairs led to an alliance between Holland and
Zealand and the other fifteen provinces of the Netherlands, known in
history as the Pacification of Ghent (1576). The resistance to the Spanish
crown had thus far been carried on without concerted action among the
several states, the Prince of Orange having hitherto found it impossible
to bring the different provinces to agree to any plan of general defence.
But the awful experiences of the Spanish Fury taught the necessity of
union, and led all the seventeen provinces solemnly to agree to unite in
driving the Spaniards from the Netherlands, and in securing full liberty
for all in matters of faith and worship. William of Orange, with the title
of Stadtholder, was placed at the head of the union. It was mainly the
strong Catholic sentiment in the Southern provinces that had prevented
such a union and pacification long before.
THE UNION OF UTRECHT (1579).--With the Spanish forces under the lead first
of Don John of Austria, the hero-victor of Lepanto, and afterwards of
Prince Alexander of Parma, a commander of most distinguished ability, the
war now went on with increased vigor, fortune, with many vacillations,
inclining to the side of the Spaniards. Disaffection arose among the
Netherlanders, the outcome of which was the separation, of the provinces.
The Prince of Orange, seeing the impossibility of uniting all the states,
devoted his efforts to effecting a confederation of the Northern ones. His
endeavors were fortunately crowned with success, and the seven Protestant
states of the North, [Footnote: The ten Catholic provinces of the South,
although they continued their contest with Philip a little longer,
ultimately submitted to Spanish tyranny. A portion of these provinces were
absorbed by France, while the remainder, after varied fortunes amidst the
revolutions and dynastic changes of the European states, finally became
the present kingdom of Belgium] the chief of which were Holland and
Zealand, by the treaty of Utrecht (1579), were united in a permanent
confederation, known as the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands. In
this league was laid the foundation of the Dutch Republic.
Fortunate would it have been for the Netherlands, could all of the states
at this time have been brought to act in concert. Under the leadership of
the Prince of Orange, the seventeen provinces might have been consolidated
into a powerful nation, that might now be reckoned among the great powers
THE "BAN" AND THE "APOLOGY."--William of Orange was, of course, the
animating spirit of the confederacy formed by the treaty of Utrecht. In
the eyes of Philip and his viceroys he appeared the sole obstacle in the
way of the pacification of the provinces and their return to civil and
ecclesiastical obedience. In vain had Philip sent against him the ablest
and most distinguished commanders of the age; in vain had he endeavored to
detach him from the cause of his country by magnificent bribes of titles,
offices, and fortune.
Philip now resolved to employ assassination for the removal of the
invincible general and the incorruptible patriot. He published a ban
against the prince, declaring him an outlaw, and offering to any one who
should kill him the pardon of all his sins, a title of nobility, and
25,000 gold crowns.
The prince responded to the infamous edict in a remarkable paper, entitled
"The Apology of the Prince of Orange,"--the most terrible arraignment of
tyranny that was ever penned. The "Apology" was scattered throughout
Europe, and everywhere produced a profound impression. The friends of the
prince, while admiring his boldness, were filled with alarm for his
safety. Their apprehensions, as the issue shows, were not unfounded.
ASSASSINATION OF THE PRINCE OF ORANGE.--"The ban soon bore fruit." Upon
the 10th day of July, 1584, five previous unsuccessful attempts having
been made upon his life, the Prince of Orange was fatally shot by an
assassin. The heirs of the murderer received substantially the reward
which had been offered in the ban, being enriched with the estates of the
prince, and honored by elevation to the ranks of the Spanish nobility.
The character of William the Silent is one of the most admirable portrayed
in all history. [Footnote: He was not, however, without faults. The most
serious of these was his habit of dissimulation. Some charge to this the
separation of the Northern and Southern provinces after the Pacification
of Ghent. The Southern provinces would not trust the "double-dealer." For
references to various writers on this point, consult Young's _History of
the Netherlands_, p, 320.] His steadfast and unselfish devotion to the
cause of his country deservedly won for him the love of all classes. His
people fondly called him "Father William."
PRINCE MAURICE: SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.--Severe as was the blow sustained by
the Dutch patriots in the death of the Prince of Orange, they did not lose
heart, but continued the struggle with the most admirable courage and
steadfastness. Prince Maurice, a youth of seventeen years, the second son
of William, was chosen Stadtholder in his place, and proved himself a
worthy son of the great chief and patriot. The war now proceeded with
unabated fury. The Southern provinces were, for the most part, in the
hands of the Spaniards, while the revolutionists held control, in the
main, of the Northern states.
Substantial aid from the English now came to the struggling Hollanders.
Queen Elizabeth, alarmed by the murder of the Prince of Orange,--for she
well knew that hired agents of the king of Spain watched likewise for her
life,--openly espoused the cause of the Dutch. Among the English knights
who led the British forces sent into the Netherlands was the gallant Sir
Philip Sidney, the "Flower of Chivalry." At the siege of Zutphen (1586),
he received a mortal wound. A little incident that occurred as he rode
from the field, suffering from his terrible hurt, is always told as a
memorial of the gentle knight. A cup of water having been brought him, he
was about to lift it to his lips, when his hand was arrested by the
longing glance of a wounded soldier who chanced at that moment to be
carried past. "Give it to him," said the fainting knight; "his necessity
is greater than mine."
PROGRESS OF THE WAR: TREATY OF 1609.--The circle of war grew more and more
extended. France as well as England became involved, both fighting against
Philip, who was now laying claims to the crowns of both these countries.
The struggle was maintained on land and on sea, in the Old World and in
the New. The English fleet, under the noted Sir Francis Drake (see p. 560,
n.), ravaged the Spanish settlements in Florida and the West Indies, and
intercepted the treasure-ships of Philip returning from the mines of
Mexico and Peru; the Dutch fleet wrested from Spain many of her
possessions in the East Indies and among the islands of the South Pacific.
Europe at last grew weary of the seemingly interminable struggle, and the
Spanish commanders becoming convinced that it was impossible to reduce the
Dutch rebels to obedience by force of arms, negotiations were entered
into, and by the celebrated treaty of 1609, comparative peace was secured
The treaty of 1609 was in reality an acknowledgment by Spain of the
independence of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, although the
Spanish king was so unwilling to admit the fact of his being unable to
reduce the rebel states to submission, that the treaty was termed simply
"a truce for twelve years." Spain did not formally acknowledge their
independence until forty years afterwards, in the Peace of Westphalia, at
the end of the Thirty Years' War (1648) (see p. 586).
DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROVINCES DURING THE WAR.--One of the most remarkable
features of the war for Dutch independence was the vast expansion of the
trade and commerce of the revolted provinces, and their astonishing growth
in population, wealth, and resources, while carrying on the bitter and
protracted struggle. When the contest ended, notwithstanding the waste of
war, the number of inhabitants crowded on that little patch of sea-bottom
and morass constituting the Dutch Republic, was equal to the entire
population of England; that is to say, to three or four millions. But the
home-land was only a small part of the dominions of the commonwealth.
Through the enterprise and audacity of its bold sailors, it had made
extensive acquisitions in the East Indies and other parts of the world,
largely at the expense of the Spanish and the Portuguese colonial
possessions. The commerce of the little republic had so expanded that more
than one hundred thousand of its citizens found a home upon the sea. No
idlers or beggars were allowed a place in the industrious commonwealth.
And hand in hand with industry went intelligence. Throughout the United
Provinces it was rare to meet with a person who could not both read and
THE HUGUENOT WARS IN FRANCE.
BEGINNING OF THE REFORMATION IN FRANCE.--Before Luther posted his ninety-
five theses at Wittenberg, there appeared in the University of Paris and
elsewhere in France men who, from their study of the Scriptures, had come
to entertain opinions very like those of the German reformer. The land
which had been the home of the Albigenses was again filled with heretics.
The movement thus begun received a fresh impulse from the uprising in
Germany under Luther.
The Reformation in France, as elsewhere, brought dissension, persecution,
and war. We have already seen how Francis I., the second of the Valois-
Orleans dynasty, [Footnote: The Valois-Orleans sovereigns, whose reigns
cover the greater part of the period treated in the present chapter, were
Louis XII. (1498-1515), Francis I. (1515-1547), Henry II. (1547-1559),
Francis II. (1559-1560), Charles IX. (1560-1574), Henry III. (1574-1589).
The successor of Henry III.--Henry IV.--was the first of the Bourbons.]
waged an exterminating crusade against his heretical Waldensian subjects
(see p. 533). His son and successor, Henry II., also conceived it to be
his duty to uproot heresy; and it was his persecution of his Protestant
subjects that sowed the seeds of those long and woful civil and religious
wars which he left as a terrible legacy to his three feeble sons, Francis,
Charles, and Henry, who followed him in succession upon the throne. At the
time these wars began, which was about the middle of the sixteenth
century, the confessors of the reformed creed, who later were known as
Huguenots, [Footnote: This word is probably a corruption of the German
_Eidgenossen_, meaning "oath-comrades" or "confederates."] numbered
probably 400,000. The new doctrines found adherents especially among the
nobility and the higher classes, and had taken particularly deep root in
the South,--the region of the old Albigensian heresy.
THE CATHOLIC AND THE HUGUENOT LEADERS.--The leaders of the Catholic party
were the notorious Catherine de Medici, and the powerful chiefs of the
family of the Guises. Catherine, the queen-mother of the last three
Valois-Orleans sovereigns, was an intriguing, treacherous Italian.
Nominally she was a Catholic; but only nominally, for it seems certain
that she was almost destitute of religious convictions of any kind. What
she sought was power, and this she was ready to secure by any means. When
it suited her purpose, she favored the Huguenots; and when it suited her
purpose better, she incited the Catholics to make war upon them. Perhaps
no other woman ever made so much trouble in the world. She made France
wretched through the three successive reigns of her sons, and brought her
house to a shameful and miserable end.
At the head of the family of the Guises stood Francis, Duke of Guise, a
famous commander, who had gained great credit and popularity among his
countrymen by many military exploits, especially by his capture of Calais
from the English in the recent Spanish wars (see p. 553). By his side
stood a younger brother Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine. Both of these men
were ardent Catholics. Mary Stuart, the queen of the young king Francis
II., was their niece, and through her they ruled the boy-king. The Pope
and the king of Spain were friends and allies of the Guises.
The chiefs of the Huguenots were the Bourbon princes, Anthony, king of
Navarre, and Louis, Prince of Cond�, who, next after the brothers of
Francis II., were heirs to the French throne; and Gaspard de Coligny,
Admiral of France. Anthony was not a man of deep convictions. He at first
sided with the Protestants, probably because it was only through forming
an alliance with them that he could carry on his opposition to the Guises.
He afterwards went over to the side of the Catholics. A man of very
different character was Admiral Coligny. Early in life he had embraced the
doctrines of the reformers, and he remained to the last the trusted and
consistent, though ill-starred, champion of the Protestants.
THE CONSPIRACY OF AMBOISE (1560).--The foregoing notice of parties and
their chiefs will render intelligible the events which we now have to
narrate. The harsh measures adopted against the reformers by Francis II.,
who of course was entirely under the influence of the Guises, led the
chiefs of the persecuted party to lay a plan for wresting the government
from the hands of these "new Mayors of the Palace." The Guises were to be
arrested and imprisoned, and the charge of the young king given to the
Prince of Cond�. The plot was revealed to the Guises, and was avenged by
the execution of more than a thousand of the Huguenots.
THE MASSACRE OF VASSY (1562).--After the short reign of Francis II. (1559-
1560), his brother Charles came to the throne as Charles IX. He was only
ten years of age, so the queen-mother assumed the government in his name.
Pursuing her favorite maxim to rule by setting one party as a counterpoise
to the other, she gave the Bourbon princes a place in the government, and
also by a royal edict gave the Huguenots a limited toleration, and forbade
their further persecution.
These concessions in favor of the Huguenots angered the Catholic chiefs,
particularly the Guises; and it was the violation by the adherents of the
Duke of Guise of the edict of toleration that finally caused the growing
animosities of the two parties to break out in civil war. While passing
through the country with a body of armed attendants, at a small place
called Vassy, the Duke came upon a company of Huguenots assembled in a
barn for worship. His retainers first insulted and then attacked them,
killing about forty of the company and wounding many more.
Under the lead of Admiral Coligny and the Prince of Cond�, the Huguenots
now rose throughout France. Philip II. of Spain sent an army to aid the
Catholics, while Elizabeth of England extended help to the Huguenots.
THE TREATY OF ST. GERMAIN (1570).--Throughout the series of lamentable
civil wars upon which France now entered, both parties displayed a
ferocity of disposition more befitting pagans than Christians. But it
should be borne in mind that many on both sides were actuated by political
ambition, rather than by religious conviction, knowing little and caring
less about the distinctions in the creeds for which they were ostensibly
fighting. [Footnote: What are usually designated as the _First_,
_Second_, and _Third Wars_ were really one. The table below
exhibits the wars of the entire period of which we are treating. Some make
the Religious Wars proper end with the Edict of Nantes (1598); others with
the fall of La Rochelle (1628).
First War (ended by Peace of Amboise) . . . . . . . 1562-1563.
Second War (ended by Peace of Longjumeau) . . . . . 1567-1568.
Third War (ended by Peace of St. Germain) . . . . . 1568-1570.
Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, Aug. 24. . . . . . . .1572.
Fourth War (ended by Peace of La Rochelle). . . . . 1572-1573.
Fifth War (ended by Peace of Chastenoy) . . . . . . 1574-1576.
Sixth War (ended by Peace of Bergerac). . . . . . . . . .1577.
Seventh War (ended by Treaty of Fleix). . . . . . . 1579-1580.
Eighth War (War of the Three Henries) . . . . . . . 1585-1589.
Henry of Bourbon, King of Navarre, secures the throne . .1589.
Edict of Nantes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1598.
Siege and fall of La Rochelle . . . . . . . . . . . 1627-1628.
By the fall of La Rochelle the political power of the Huguenots was
Sieges, battles, and truces followed one another in rapid and confusing
succession. Conspiracies, treacheries, and assassinations help to fill up
the dreary record of the period. The Treaty of St. Germain (in 1570)
brought a short but, as it proved, delusive peace. The terms of the treaty
were very favorable to the Huguenots. They received four towns,--among
which was La Rochelle, the stronghold of the Huguenot faith,--which they
might garrison and hold as places of safety and pledges of good faith.
To cement the treaty, Catherine de Medici now proposed that the Princess
Marguerite, the sister of Charles IX., should be given in marriage to
Henry of Bourbon, the new young king of Navarre. The announcement of the
proposed alliance caused great rejoicing among Catholics and Protestants
alike, and the chiefs of both parties crowded to Paris to attend the
wedding, which took place on the 18th of August, 1572.
THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY (Aug. 24, 1572).--Before the
festivities which followed the nuptial ceremonies were over, the world was
shocked by one of the most awful crimes of which history has to tell,--the
massacre of the Huguenots in Paris on St. Bartholomew's Day.
The circumstances which led to this fearful tragedy were as follows: Among
the Protestant nobles who came up to Paris to attend the wedding was the
Admiral Coligny. Upon coming in contact with Charles IX., the Admiral
secured almost immediately an entire ascendency over his mind. This
influence Coligny used to draw the king away from the queen-mother and the
Guises. Fearing the loss of her influence over her son, Catherine resolved
upon the death of the Admiral. The attempt miscarried, Coligny receiving
only a slight wound from the assassin's ball.
The Huguenots at once rallied about their wounded chief with loud threats
of revenge. Catherine, driven on by insane fear and hatred, now determined
upon the death of all the Huguenots in Paris as the only measure of
safety. By the 23d of August, the plans for the massacre were all
arranged. On the evening of that day, Catherine went to her son, and
represented to him that the Huguenots had formed a plot for the
assassination of the royal family and the leaders of the Catholic party,
and that the utter ruin of their house and cause could be averted only by
the immediate destruction of the Protestants within the city walls. The
order for the massacre was then laid before him for his signature. The
king at first refused to sign the decree, but, overcome at last by the
representations of his mother, he exclaimed, "I agree to the scheme,
provided not one Huguenot be left alive in France to reproach me with the
A little past the hour of midnight on St. Bartholomew's Day (Aug. 24,
1572), at a preconcerted signal,--the tolling of a bell,--the massacre
began. Coligny was one of the first victims. After his assassins had done
their work, they tossed the body out of the window of the chamber in which
it lay, into the street, in order that the Duke of Guise, who stood below,
might satisfy himself that his enemy was really dead. For three days and
nights the massacre went on within the city. King Charles himself is said
to have joined in the work, and from one of the windows of the palace of
the Louvre to have fired upon the Huguenots as they fled past. The number
of victims in Paris is variously estimated at from 3,000 to 10,000.
With the capital cleared of Huguenots, orders were issued to the principal
cities of France to purge themselves in like manner of heretics. In many
places the instincts of humanity prevailed over fear of the royal
resentment, and the decree was disobeyed. But in other places the orders
were carried out, and frightful massacres took place. The entire number of
victims throughout the country was probably between 20,000 and 30,000.
The massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day raised a cry of execration in almost
every part of the civilized world, among Catholics and Protestants alike.
Philip II., however, is said to have received the news with unfeigned joy;
while Pope Gregory XIII. caused a _Te Deum_, in commemoration of the
event, to be sung in the church of St. Mark, in Rome. Respecting this it
should in justice be said that Catholic writers maintain that the Pope
acted under a misconception of the facts, it having been represented to
him that the massacre resulted from a thwarted plot of the Huguenots
against the royal family of France and the Catholic Church.
REIGN OF HENRY III. (1574-1589).--The massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day,
instead of exterminating heresy in France, only served to rouse the
Huguenots to a more determined defence of their faith. Throughout the last
two years of the reign of Charles IX., and the fifteen succeeding years of
the reign of his brother Henry III., the country was in a state of turmoil
and war. At length the king, who, jealous of the growing power and
popularity of the Duke of Guise, had caused him to be assassinated, was
himself struck down by the avenging dagger of a Dominican monk. With him
ended the House of Valois-Orleans.
Henry of Bourbon, king of Navarre, who for many years had been the most
prominent leader of the Huguenots, now came to the throne as the first of
the Bourbon kings.
ACCESSION OF HENRY IV. (1589).--Notwithstanding that the doctrines of the
reformers had made rapid progress in France under the sons of Henry II.,
still the majority of the nation at the time of the death of Henry III.
were Roman Catholics in faith and worship. Under these circumstances, we
shall hardly expect to find the entire nation quietly acquiescing in the
accession to the French throne of a Protestant prince, and he the leader
and champion of the hated Huguenots. Nor did Henry secure without a
struggle the crown that was his by right. The Catholics declared for
Cardinal Bourbon, an uncle of the king of Navarre, and France was thus
kept in the whirl of civil war. Elizabeth of England aided the
Protestants, and Philip II. of Spain assisted the Catholics.
HENRY TURNS CATHOLIC (1593).--After the war had gone on for about four
years,--during which time was fought the noted battle of Ivry, in which
Henry led his soldiers to victory by telling them to follow the white
plume on his hat,--the quarrel was closed, for the time being, by Henry's
abjuration of the Huguenot faith, and his adoption of that of the Roman
Catholic Church (1593).
Mingled motives led Henry to do this. He was personally liked even by the
Catholic chiefs, and he was well aware that it was only his Huguenot faith
that prevented their being his hearty supporters. Hence duty and policy
seemed to him to concur in urging him to remove the sole obstacle in the
way of their ready loyalty, and thus bring peace and quiet to distracted
THE EDICT OF NANTES (1598).--As soon as Henry had become the crowned and
acknowledged king of France, he gave himself to the work of composing the
affairs of his kingdom. The most noteworthy of the measures he adopted to
this end was the publication of the celebrated Edict of Nantes (April 15,
1598). This decree granted the Huguenots practical freedom of worship,
opened to them all offices and employments, and gave them as places of
refuge and defence a large number of fortified towns, among which was the
important city of La Rochelle.
The temporary hushing of the long-continued quarrels of the Catholics and
Protestants by the adoption of the principle of religious toleration,
paved the way for a revival of the trade and industries of the country,
which had been almost destroyed by the anarchy and waste of the civil
wars. France now entered upon such a period of prosperity as she had not
known for many years.
LOUIS XIII, AND HIS MINISTER, CARDINAL RICHELIEU.--Henry IV. was
assassinated by a fanatic named Ravaillac, who regarded him as an enemy of
the Roman Catholic Church. As his son Louis, who succeeded him as Louis
XIII. (1610-1643), was a child of nine years, during his minority the
government was administered by his mother, Mary de Medici. Upon attaining
his majority, Louis took the government into his own hands. He chose, as
his chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, one of the most remarkable
characters of the seventeenth century. From the time that Louis admitted
the young prelate to his cabinet (in 1622), the ecclesiastic became the
virtual sovereign of France, and for the space of twenty years swayed the
destinies not only of that country, but, it might almost be said, those of
Europe as well.
[Illustration: CARDINAL RICHELIEU. (After a painting in the Louvre.)]
Richelieu's policy was twofold: first, to render the authority of the
French king absolute in France; secondly, to make the power of France
supreme in Europe.
To attain the first end, Richelieu sought to crush the political power of
the Huguenots, and to trample out the last vestige of independence among
the old feudal aristocracy; to secure the second, he labored to break down
the power of both branches of the House of Hapsburg,--that is, of Austria
For nearly the life-time of a generation Richelieu, by intrigue,
diplomacy, and war, pursued with unrelenting purpose these objects of his
ambition. His own words best indicate how he proposed to use his double
authority as cardinal and prime minister to effect his purpose: "I shall
trample all opposition under foot," said he, "and then cover all errors
with my scarlet robe."
In the following paragraph we shall speak very briefly of the cardinal's
dealings with the Huguenots, which feature alone of his policy especially
concerns us at present.
POLITICAL POWER OF THE HUGUENOTS CRUSHED.--In the prosecution of his
plans, Cardinal Richelieu's first step was to break down the political
power of the Huguenot chiefs, who, dissatisfied with their position in the
government, and irritated by religious grievances, were revolving in mind
the founding in France of a Protestant commonwealth like that which the
Prince of Orange and his adherents had setup in the Netherlands. The
capital of the new Republic was to be La Rochelle, on the southwestern
coast of France. In 1627, an alliance having been formed between England
and the French Protestant nobles, an English fleet and army were sent
across the Channel to aid the Huguenot enterprise.
Richelieu now resolved to ruin forever the power of these Protestant
nobles who were constantly challenging the royal authority and threatening
the dismemberment of France. Accordingly he led in person an army to the
siege of La Rochelle, which, after a gallant resistance of more than a
year, was compelled to open its gates to the cardinal (1628). That the
place might never again be made the centre of resistance to the royal
power, Louis ordered that "the fortifications be razed to the ground, in
such wise that the plough may plough through the soil as through tilled
The Huguenots maintained the struggle a few months longer in the south of
France, but were finally everywhere reduced to submission. The result of
the war was the complete destruction of the political power of the French
Protestants. A treaty of peace, called the Edict of Grace, negotiated the
year after the fall of La Rochelle, left them, however, freedom of
worship, according to the provisions of the Edict of Nantes (see p. 578).
The Edict of Grace properly marks the close of the religious wars which
had desolated France for two generations (from 1562 to 1629). It is
estimated that this series of wars and massacres cost France a million
lives, and that between three and four hundred hamlets and towns were
destroyed by the contending parties.
RICHELIEU AND THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR.--When Cardinal Richelieu came to the
head of affairs in France, there was going on in Germany the Thirty Years'
War (1618-1648), of which we shall tell in the following chapter. This was
very much such a struggle between the Catholic and Protestant German
princes as we have seen waged between the two religious parties in France.
Although Richelieu had just crushed French Protestantism, he now gives aid
to the Protestant princes of Germany, because their success meant the
division of Germany and the humiliation of Austria. Richelieu did not live
to see the end either of the Thirty Years' War or of that which he had
begun with Spain; but this foreign policy of the great minister, carried
out by others, finally resulted, as we shall learn hereafter, in the
humiliation of both branches of the House of Hapsburg, and the lifting of
France to the first place among the powers of Europe.
THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR.
NATURE AND CAUSES OF THE WAR.--The long and calamitous Thirty Years' War
was the last great combat between Protestantism and Catholicism in Europe.
It started as a struggle between the Protestant and Catholic princes of
Germany, but gradually involved almost all the states of the continent,
degenerating at last into a shameful and heartless struggle for power and
The real cause of the war was the enmity existing between the German
Protestants and Catholics. Each party by its encroachments gave the other
occasion for complaint. The Protestants at length formed for their mutual
protection a league called the Evangelical Union (1608). In opposition to
the Union, the Catholics formed a confederation known as the Holy League
(1609). All Germany was thus prepared to burst into the flames of a
THE BOHEMIAN PERIOD OF THE WAR (1618-1623).--The flames that were to
desolate Germany for a generation were first kindled in Bohemia, where
were still smouldering embers of the Hussite wars, which two centuries
before had desolated that land (see p. 506). A church which the
Protestants maintained they had a right to build was torn down by the
Catholics, and another was closed. The Protestants rose in revolt against
their Catholic king, Ferdinand, elected a new Protestant king, [Footnote:
Frederick V. of the Palatinate, son-in-law of James I. of England.] and
drove out the Jesuits. The Thirty Years' War had begun (1618). Almost an
exact century had passed since Luther posted his theses on the door of the
court church at Wittenberg. It is estimated that at this time more than
nine-tenths of the population of the empire were Protestants.
The war had scarcely opened when, the Imperial office falling vacant, the
Bohemian king, Ferdinand, was elected emperor. With the power and
influence he now wielded, it was not a difficult matter for him to quell
the Protestant insurrection in his royal dominions. The leaders of the
revolt were executed, and the reformed faith in Bohemia was almost
THE DANISH PERIOD (1625-1629).--The situation of affairs at this moment in
Germany filled all the Protestant rulers of the North with the greatest
alarm. Christian IV., king of Denmark, supported by England and Holland,
threw himself into the struggle as the champion of German Protestantism.
He now becomes the central figure on the side of the reformers. On the
side of the Catholics are two noted commanders,--Tilly, the leader of the
forces of the Holy League, and Wallenstein, the commander of the Imperial
army. What is known as the Danish period of the war now begins (1625).
The war, in the main, proved disastrous to the Protestant allies, and
Christian IV. was constrained to conclude a treaty of peace with the
emperor (Peace of L�beck, 1629), and retire from the struggle.
By what is known as the Edict of Restitution (1629), the Emperor Ferdinand
now restored to the Catholics all the ecclesiastical lands and offices in
North Germany of which possession had been taken by the Protestants in
violation of the terms of the Peace of Augsburg. This decree gave back to
the Catholic Church two archbishoprics, twelve bishoprics, besides many
monasteries and other ecclesiastical property.
THE SWEDISH PERIOD (1630-1635): GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS, WALLENSTEIN, AND
TILLY.--At this moment of seeming triumph, Ferdinand was constrained by
rising discontent and jealousies to dismiss from his service his most
efficient general, Wallenstein, who had made almost all classes, save his
soldiers, his bitter enemies. In his retirement, Wallenstein maintained a
court of fabulous magnificence. Wherever he went he was followed by an
imperial train of attendants and equipages. He was reserved and silent,
but his eye was upon everything going on in Germany, and indeed in Europe.
He was watching for a favorable moment for revenge, and the retrieving of
The opportunity which Wallenstein, inspired by faith in his star, was so
confidently awaiting was not long delayed. Only a few months before his
dismissal from the Imperial service, Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden,
with a veteran and enthusiastic army of 16,000 Swedes, had appeared in
Northern Germany as the champion of the dispirited and leaderless
Protestants. The Protestant princes, however, through fear of the emperor,
as well as from lack of confidence in the disinterestedness of the motives
of Gustavus, were shamefully backward in rallying to the support of their
deliverer. But through an alliance formed just now with France, the
Swedish king received a large annual subsidy from that country, which,
with the help he was receiving from England, made him a formidable
The wavering, jealous, and unworthy conduct of the Protestant princes now
led to a most terrible disaster. At this moment Tilly was besieging the
city of Magdeburg, which had dared to resist the Edict of Restitution (see
p. 583). Gustavus was prevented from giving relief to the place by the
hindrances thrown in his way by the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony,
both of whom should have given him every assistance. In a short time the
city was obliged to surrender, and was given up to sack and pillage.
Everything was burned, save two churches and a few hovels. 30,000 of the
inhabitants perished miserably.
The cruel fate of Magdeburg excited the alarm of the Protestant princes.
The Elector of Saxony now at once united his forces with those of the
Swedish king. Tilly was defeated with great loss in the celebrated battle
of Leipsic (1631), and Gustavus, emboldened by his success, pushed
southward into the very heart of Germany. Attempting to dispute his march,
Tilly's army was again defeated, and he himself received a fatal wound. In
the death of Tilly, Ferdinand lost his most trustworthy general (1632).
The Imperial cause appeared desperate. There was but one man in Germany
who could turn the tide of victory that was running so strongly in favor
of the Swedish monarch. That man was Wallenstein; and to him the emperor
now turned. This strange man had been watching with secret satisfaction
the success of the Swedish arms, and had even offered to Gustavus his aid,
promising "to chase the emperor and the House of Austria over the Alps."
[Illustration: DEATH OF GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS AT THE BATTLE OF LUTZEN.]
To this proud subject of his, fresh from his dalliances with his enemies,
the emperor now appealed for help. Wallenstein agreed to raise an army,
provided his control of it should be absolute. Ferdinand was constrained
to grant all that his old general demanded. Wallenstein now raised his
standard, to which rallied the adventurers not only of Germany, but of all
Europe as well. The array was a vast and heterogeneous host, bound
together by no bonds of patriotism, loyalty, or convictions, but by the
spell and prestige of the name of Wallenstein.
With an army of 40,000 men obedient to his commands, Wallenstein, after
numerous marches and counter-marches, attacked the Swedes in a terrible
battle on the memorable field of Lutzen, in Saxony. The Swedes won the
day, but lost their leader and sovereign (1632).
Notwithstanding the death of their great king and commander, the Swedes
did not withdraw from the war. Hence the struggle went on, the advantage
being for the most part with the Protestant allies. Ferdinand, at just
this time, was embarrassed by the suspicious movements of his general
Wallenstein. Becoming convinced that he was meditating the betrayal of the
Imperial cause, the emperor caused him to be assassinated (1634). This
event marks very nearly the end of the Swedish period of the war.
THE SWEDISH-FRENCH PERIOD (1635-1648).--Had it not been for the selfish
and ambitious interference of France, the woeful war which had now
desolated Germany for half a century might here have come to an end, for
both sides were weary of it and ready for negotiations of peace. But
Richelieu was not willing that the war should end until the House of
Austria was thoroughly crippled. Accordingly he encouraged Oxenstiern, the
Swedish chancellor, to persevere in carrying on the war, promising him the
aid of the French armies.
The war thus lost in large part its original character of a contest
between the Catholic and the Protestant princes of Germany, and became a
political struggle between the House of Austria and the House of Bourbon,
in which the former was fighting for existence, the latter for national
THE TREATY OF WESTPHALIA (1648).--And so the miserable war dragged on. The
earlier actors in the drama at length passed from the scene, but their
parts were carried on by others. The year 1643, which marks the death of
Richelieu, heard the first whisperings of peace. Everybody was
inexpressibly weary of the war, and longed for the cessation of its
horrors, yet each one wanted peace on terms advantageous to himself. The
arrangement of the articles of peace was a matter of immense difficulty;
for the affairs and boundaries of the states of Central Europe were in
almost hopeless confusion. After five years of memorable discussion and
negotiation, the articles of the celebrated Treaty of Westphalia, as it
was called, were signed by the different European powers.
The chief articles of this important treaty may be made to fall under two
heads: (1) those relating to territorial boundaries, and (2) those
As to the first, these cut short in three directions the actual or nominal
limits of the Holy Roman Empire. Switzerland and the United Netherlands
were severed from it; for though both of these countries had been for a
long time practically independent of the empire, this independence had
never been acknowledged in any formal way. The claim of France to the
three cities of Metz, Toul, and Verdun in Lorraine, which places she had
held for about a century, was confirmed, and a great part of Alsace was
given to her. Thus on the west, on the southwest, and on the northwest,
the empire suffered loss.
Sweden was given cities and territories in Northern Germany which gave her
control of a long strip of the Baltic shore, a most valuable possession.
But these lands were not given to the Swedish king in full sovereignty;
they still remained a part of the Germanic body, and the king of Sweden as
to them became a prince of the empire.
The changes within the empire were many, and some of them important.
Brandenburg especially received considerable additions of territory.
The articles respecting religion were even more important than those which
established the metes and bounds of the different states. Catholics,
Lutherans, and Calvinists were all put upon the same footing. The
Protestants were to retain all the benefices and Church property of which
they had possession in 1624. Every prince was to have the right to make
his religion the religion of his people, and to banish all who refused to
adopt the established creed: but such non-conformists were to have three
years in which to emigrate.
The different states of the empire were left almost independent of the
emperor. They were given the right to form alliances with one another and
with foreign princes; but not, of course, against the empire or emperor.
This provision made Germany nothing more than a lax confederation, and
postponed to a distant future the nationalization of the German states.
EFFECTS OF THE WAR UPON GERMANY.--It is simply impossible to picture the
wretched condition in which the Thirty Years' War left Germany. When the
struggle began, the population of the country was 30,000,000; when it
ended, 12,000,000. Many of the once large and flourishing cities were
reduced to "mere shells." Two or three hundred ill-clad persons
constituted the population of Berlin. The duchy of W�rtemburg, which had
half a million of inhabitants at the commencement of the war, at its close
had barely 50,000. On every hand were the charred remains of the hovels of
the peasants and the palaces of the nobility. The lines of commerce were
broken, and some trades and industries were swept quite out of existence.
The effects upon the fine arts, upon science, learning, and morals were
even more lamentable. Painting, sculpture, and architecture were driven
out of the land. The cities which had been the home of all these arts lay
in ruins. Education was entirely neglected. For the lifetime of a
generation, men had been engaged in the business of war, and had allowed
their children to grow up in absolute ignorance. Moral law was forgotten.
Vice, nourished by the licentious atmosphere of the camp, reigned supreme.
"In character, in intelligence, and in morality, the German people were
set back two hundred years."
To all these evils were added those of political disunion and weakness.
The title of emperor still continued to be borne by a member of the House
of Austria, but it was only an empty name. By the Peace of Westphalia, the
Germanic body lost even that little cohesion which had begun to manifest
itself between its different parts, and became simply a loose assemblage
of virtually independent states, of which there were now over two hundred.
Thus weakened, Germany lost her independence as a nation, while the
subjects of the numerous petty states became the slaves of their ambitious
and tyrannical rulers. Worse than all, the overwhelming calamities that
for the lifetime of a generation had been poured out upon the unfortunate
land, had extinguished the last spark of German patriotism. Every
sentiment of pride and hope in race and country seemed to have become
CONCLUSION.--The treaty of Westphalia is a prominent landmark in universal
history. It stands at the dividing line of two great epochs. It marks the
end of the Reformation Era and the beginning of that of the Political
Revolution. Henceforth men will fight for constitutions, not creeds. We
shall not often see one nation attacking another, or one party in a nation
assaulting another party, on account of a difference in religious opinion.
[Footnote: The Puritan Revolution in England may look like a religious
war, but we shall learn that it was primarily a political contest,--a
struggle against despotism in the state.]
But in setting the Peace of Westphalia to mark the end of the religious
wars occasioned by the Reformation, we do not mean to convey the idea that
men had come to embrace the beneficent doctrine of religious toleration.
As a matter of fact, no real toleration had yet been reached--nothing save
the semblance of toleration. The long conflict of a century and more, and
the vicissitudes of fortune, which to-day gave one party the power of the
persecutor and to-morrow made the same sect the victims of persecution,
had simply forced all to the practical conclusion that they must tolerate
one another,--that one sect must not attempt to put another down by force.
But it required the broadening and liberalizing lessons of another full
century to bring men to see that the thing they _must_ do is the very
thing they _ought_ to do,--to make men tolerant not only in outward
conduct, but in spirit.
With this single word of caution, we now pass to the study of the Era of
the Political Revolution, the period marked by the struggle between
despotic and liberal principles of government. And first, we shall give a
sketch of absolute monarchy as it exhibited itself in France under the
autocrat Louis XIV.
SECOND PERIOD.--THE ERA OF THE POLITICAL REVOLUTION.
(FROM THE PEACE OF WESTPHALIA IN 1648 TO THE PRESENT TIME.)
THE ASCENDENCY OF FRANCE UNDER THE ABSOLUTE GOVERNMENT OF LOUIS XIV.
THE DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS.--Louis XIV. stands as the representative of
absolute monarchy. This indeed was no new thing in the world, but Louis
was such an ideal autocrat that somehow he made autocratic government
strangely attractive. Other kings imitated him, and it became the
prevailing theory of government that kings have a "divine right" to rule,
and that the people should have no part at all in government.
According to this theory, the nation is a great family with the king as
its divinely appointed head. The duty of the king is to govern like a
father; the duty of the people is to obey their king even as children obey
their parents. If the king does wrong, is harsh, cruel, unjust, this is
simply the misfortune of his people: under no circumstances is it right
for them to rebel against his authority, any more than for children to
rise against their father. The king is responsible to God alone, and to
God the people, quietly submissive, must leave the avenging of all their
Before the close of the period upon which we here enter, we shall see how
this theory of the divine right of kings worked out in practice,--how dear
it cost both kings and people, and how the people by the strong logic of
revolution demonstrated that they are not children but mature men, and
have a divine and inalienable right to govern themselves.
THE BASIS OF LOUIS XIV.'s POWER.--The basis of the absolute power of Louis
XIV. was laid by Cardinal Richelieu during the reign of Louis XIII. (see
p. 580). Besides crushing the political power of the Huguenots, and
thereby vastly augmenting the security and strength of the royal
authority, the Cardinal succeeded, by various means,--by annulling their
privileges, by banishment, confiscations, and executions,--in almost
extinguishing the expiring independence of the old feudal aristocracy, and
in forcing the once haughty and refractory nobles to yield humble
obedience to the crown.
In 1643, barely six months after the death of his great minister, Louis
XIII. died, leaving the vast power which the Cardinal had done so much to
consolidate, as an inheritance to his little son, a child of five years.
THE ADMINISTRATION OF MAZARIN.--During the minority of Louis the
government was in the hands of his mother, Anne of Austria, as regent. She
chose as her prime minister an Italian ecclesiastic, Cardinal Mazarin,
who, in his administration of affairs, followed in the footsteps of his
predecessor, Richelieu, carrying out with great ability the comprehensive
policy of that minister. France was encouraged to maintain her part--and a
very glorious part it was, as war goes--in the Thirty Years' War, until
Austria was completely exhausted, and all Germany indeed almost ruined.
Even after the Peace of Westphalia, which simply concluded the war in
Germany, France carried on the war with Spain for ten years longer, until
1659, when the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which gave the French the two
provinces of Artois and Roussillon, asserted the triumph of France over
Spain. Richelieu's plan had at last, though at terrible cost to France
[Footnote: The heavy taxes laid to meet the expenses of the wars created
great discontent, which during the struggle with Spain led to a series of
conspiracies or revolts against the government, known as the _Wars of
the Fronde_ (1648-1652). "Notwithstanding its peculiar character of
levity and burlesque, the Fronde must be regarded as a memorable struggle
of the aristocracy, supported by the judicial and municipal bodies, to
control the despotism of the crown.... It failed;... nor was any farther
effort made to resuscitate the dormant liberties of the nation until the
dawning of the great Revolution."] and all Europe, been crowned with
success. The House of Austria in both its branches had been humiliated and
crippled, and the House of Bourbon was ready to assume the lead in
LOUIS XIV. ASSUMES THE GOVERNMENT.--Cardinal Mazarin died in 1661. Upon
this event, Louis, who was now twenty-three years of age, became his own
prime minister, and for more than half a century thereafter ruled France
as an absolute and irresponsible monarch. He regarded France as his
private estate, and seemed to be fully convinced that he had a divine
commission to govern the French people. It is said that he declared,
_L'�tat, c'est moi_, "I am the State," meaning that he alone was the
rightful legislator, judge, and executive of the French nation. The
States-General was not once convened during his long reign. Richelieu made
Louis XIII. "the first man in Europe, but the second in his own kingdom."
Louis XIV. was the first man at home as well as abroad. He had able men
about him; but they served instead of ruling him.
COLBERT.--Mazarin when dying said to Louis, "Sire, I owe everything to
you; but I pay my debt to your majesty by giving you Colbert." During the
first ten or twelve years of Louis's personal reign, this extraordinary
man inspired and directed everything; but he carefully avoided the
appearance of doing so. His maxim seemed to be, Mine the labor, thine the
praise. He did for the domestic affairs of France what Richelieu had done
for the foreign. So long as Louis followed the policy of Colbert, he gave
France a truly glorious reign; but unfortunately he soon turned aside from
the great minister's policy of peace, to seek glory for himself and
greatness for France through new and unjust encroachments upon neighboring
THE WARS OF LOUIS XIV.--During the period of his personal administration
of the government, Louis XIV. was engaged in four great wars: (1) A war
respecting the Spanish Netherlands (1667-1668); (2) a war with Holland
(1672-1678); (3) the War of the Palatinate (1689-1697); and (4) the War of
the Spanish Succession (1701-1714).
All these wars were, on the part of the French monarch, wars of conquest
and aggression, or were wars provoked by his ambitious and encroaching
policy. The most inveterate enemy of Louis during all this period was
Holland, the representative and champion of liberal, constitutional
THE WAR CONCERNING THE SPANISH NETHERLANDS (1667-1668).--Upon the death of
Philip IV. of Spain (1665), Louis immediately claimed, in the name of his
wife, portions of the Spanish Netherlands (see p. 568, n.). The Hollanders
were naturally alarmed, fearing that Louis would also want to annex their
country to his dominions. Accordingly they effected what was called the
Triple Alliance with England and Sweden, checked the French king in his
career of conquest, and, by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, forced him to
give up much of the territory he had seized.
THE WAR WITH HOLLAND (1672-1678).--The second war of the French king was
against Holland, whose interference with his plans in the Spanish
Netherlands, as well as some uncomplimentary remarks of the Dutch
humorists on his personal appearance, had stirred his resentment. Before
entering upon the undertaking which had proved too great for Philip II.
with the resources of two worlds at his command, Louis, by means of bribes
and the employment of that skilful diplomacy of which he was so perfect a
master, prudently drew from the side of Holland both her allies (Sweden
and England), even inducing the English king, Charles II., to lend him
active assistance. Money also secured the aid of several princes of
Germany. Thus the little commonwealth was left alone to contend against
The brave Hollanders made a stout defence of their land. It was even
seriously proposed in the States-General, that, rather than submit to the
tyranny of this second Philip, they should open the dykes, bury the
country and its invaders beneath the ocean, and taking their families and
household goods in their ships, seek new homes in lands beyond the sea.
The desperate resolve was in part executed; for with the French
threatening Amsterdam, the dykes were cut, and all the surrounding fields
were laid under water, and the invaders thus forced to retreat.
The heroic resistance to the intruders made by the Hollanders in their
half-drowned land, the havoc wrought by the stout Dutch sailors among the
fleets of the allies, and the diplomacy of the Dutch statesmen, who,
through skilful negotiations, detached almost all of the allies of the
French from that side, and brought them into alliance with the republic,--
all these things soon put a very different face upon affairs, and Louis
found himself confronted by the armies of half of Europe.
For several years the war now went on by land and sea,--in the
Netherlands, all along the Rhine, upon the English Channel, in the
Mediterranean, and on the coasts of the New World. At length an end was
put to the struggle by the Treaty of Nimeguen (1678). Louis gave up his
conquests in Holland, but kept a large number of towns and fortresses in
the Spanish Netherlands, besides the province of Franche-Comt� and several
Imperial cities on his German frontier.
Thus Louis came out of this tremendous struggle, in which half of Europe
was leagued against him, with enhanced reputation and fresh acquisitions
of territory. People now began to call him the _Grand Monarch_.
THE REVOCATION OF THE EDICTS OF NANTES (1685).--Louis now committed an act
the injustice of which was only equalled by its folly,--an act from which
may be dated the decline of his power. This was the Revocation of the
Edict of Nantes, the well-known decree by which Henry IV. secured
religious freedom to the French Protestants (see p. 578). By this cruel
measure all the Protestant churches were closed, and every Huguenot who
refused to embrace the Roman Catholic faith was outlawed. The persecution
which the Huguenots had been enduring and which was now greatly increased
in violence, is known as the _Dragonnades_, from the circumstance that
_dragoons_ were quartered upon the Protestant families, with full
permission to annoy and persecute them in every way "short of violation
and death," to the end that the victims of these outrages might be
constrained to recant, which multitudes did.
Under the fierce persecutions of the _Dragonnades_, probably as many
as three hundred thousand of the most skilful and industrious of the
subjects of Louis were driven out of the kingdom. Several of the most
important and flourishing of the French industries were ruined, while the
manufacturing interests of other countries, particularly those of Holland
and England, were correspondingly benefited by the energy, skill, and
capital which the exiles carried to them. Many of the fugitive Huguenots
found ultimately a refuge in America; and no other class of emigrants,
save the Puritans of England, cast
"Such healthful leaven 'mid the elements
That peopled the new world."
[Footnote: See Baird, _History of the Huguenot Emigration to America._]
THE WAR OF THE PALATINATE (1689-1697).--The indirect results of the
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes were quite as calamitous to France as
were the direct results. The indignation that the barbarous measure
awakened among the Protestant nations of Europe enabled William of Orange
to organize a formidable confederacy against Louis, known as the League of
Louis resolved to attack the confederates. Seeking a pretext for beginning
hostilities, he laid claim, in the name of his sister-in-law, to portions
of the Palatinate, and hurried a large army into the country, which was
quickly overrun. But being unable to hold the conquests he had made, Louis
ordered that the country be turned into a desert. The Huns of an Attila
could not have carried out more relentlessly the command than did the
soldiers of Louis. Churches and abbeys, palaces and cottages, villas and
cities, were all given to the flames.
This barbarous act of Louis almost frenzied Germany. Another and more
formidable coalition, known as the "Grand Alliance," was now formed
(1689). It embraced England, Holland, Sweden, Spain, the German emperor,
the Elector Palatine, and the Electors of Bavaria and Saxony. For ten
years almost all Europe was a great battle-field. Both sides at length
becoming weary of the contest and almost exhausted in resources, the
struggle was closed by the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). There was a mutual
surrender of conquests made during the course of the war, and Louis had
also to give up some of the places he had unjustly seized before the
beginning of the conflict.
[Illustration: DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH. (After a painting by F. Kneller.)]
WAR OF THE SPANISH SUCCESSION (1701-1714).--Barely three years passed
after the Treaty of Ryswick before the great powers of Europe were
involved in another war, known as the War of the Spanish Succession.
The circumstances out of which the war grew were these: In 1700 the king
of Spain, Charles II., died, leaving his crown to Philip of Anjou, a
grandson of Louis XIV. "There are no longer any Pyrenees," was Louis's
exultant epigram, meaning of course that France and Spain were now
practically one. England and Holland particularly were alarmed at this
virtual consolidation of these two powerful kingdoms. Consequently a
second Grand Alliance was soon formed against France, the object of which
was to dethrone Philip of Anjou and place upon the Spanish throne Charles,
Archduke of Austria. The two greatest generals of the allies were the
famous Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill), the ablest commander, except
Wellington perhaps, that England has ever produced, and the hardly less
noted Prince Eugene of Savoy.
For thirteen years all Europe was shaken with war. During the progress of
the struggle were fought some of the most memorable battles in European
history,--Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet,--in all of which
the genius of Marlborough and the consummate skill of Prince Eugene won
splendid victories for the allies.
Finally, changes wrought by death in the House of Austria brought the
Archduke Charles to the imperial throne. This changed the whole aspect of
the Spanish question, for now to place Charles upon the Spanish throne
also would be to give him a dangerous preponderance of power, would be, in
fact, to reestablish the great monarchy of Charles V. Consequently the
Grand Alliance fell to pieces, and the war was ended by the treaties of
Utrecht (1713) and Rastadt (1714).
By the provisions of these treaties the Bourbon prince of Anjou was left
upon the Spanish throne, but his kingdom was pared away on every side.
Gibraltar and the island of Minorca were ceded to England; while Milan,
Naples, Sardinia, and the Netherlands (Spanish) were given to Austria.
France was forced to surrender to England considerable portions of her
possessions in the New World,--Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the Hudson
DEATH OF THE KING.--Amidst troubles, perplexities, and afflictions, Louis
XIV.'s long and eventful reign was now drawing to a close. The heavy and
constant taxes necessary to meet the expenses of his numerous wars, and to
maintain an extravagant court, had bankrupted the country, and the cries
of his wretched subjects clamoring for bread could not be shut out of the
royal chamber. Death, too, had invaded the palace, striking down the
dauphin, the dauphiness, and two grandsons of Louis, leaving as the
nearest heir to the throne his great-grandson, a mere child. On the
morning of September 1st, 1715, the Grand Monarch breathed his last,
bequeathing to this boy of five years a kingdom overwhelmed with debt, and
filled with misery, with threatening vices and dangerous discontent.
THE COURT OF LOUIS XIV.--The Court sustained by the Grand Monarch was the
most extravagantly magnificent that Europe has ever seen. Never since Nero
erected his Golden House upon the burnt district of Rome, and ensconcing
himself amid its luxurious appointments, exclaimed, "Now I am housed as a
man ought to be," had prince or king so ostentatiously lavished upon
himself the wealth of an empire. Louis had half a dozen palaces, the most
costly of which was that at Versailles. Upon this and its surroundings he
spent fabulous sums. The palace itself cost what would probably be equal
to more than $100,000,000 with us. Here were gathered the beauty, wit, and
learning of France. The royal household numbered fifteen thousand persons,
all living in costly and luxurious idleness at the expense of the people.
[Illustration: LOUIS XIV. IN HIS OLD AGE.]
One element of this enormous family was the great lords of the old feudal
aristocracy. Dispossessed of their ancient power and wealth, they were
content now to fill a place in the royal household, to be the king's
pensioners and the elegant embellishment of his court.
As we might well imagine, the life of the French court at this period was
shamefully corrupt. Vice, however, was gilded. The scandalous immoralities
of king and courtiers were made attractive by the glitter of superficial
accomplishment and by exquisite suavity and polish of manner.
But notwithstanding its immorality, the brilliancy of the Court of Louis
dazzled all Europe. The neighboring courts imitated its manners and
emulated its extravagances. In all matters of taste and fashion France
gave laws to the continent, and the French language became the court
language of the civilized world.
LITERATURE UNDER LOUIS XIV.--Louis gave a most liberal encouragement to
men of letters, thereby making his reign the Augustan Age of French
literature. In this patronage Louis was not unselfish. He honored and
befriended poets and writers of every class, because he thus extended the
reputation of his court. These writers, pensioners of his bounty, filled
all Europe with their praises of the Great King, and thus made the most
ample and grateful return to Louis for his favor and liberality.
Almost every species of literature was cultivated by the French writers of
this era, yet it was in the province of the Drama that the greatest number
of eminent authors appeared. The three great names here are those of
Corneille (1606-1684), Racine (1639-1699), and Moli�re (1622-1673).
DECLINE OF THE FRENCH MONARCHY UNDER LOUIS XV.--The ascendency of the
House of Bourbon passed away forever with Louis XIV. In passing from the
reign of the Grand Monarch to that of his successor, Louis XV. (1715-
1774), we pass from the strongest and most brilliant reign in French
history to the weakest and most humiliating.
France took part, but usually with injury to her military reputation, in
all the wars of this period. The most important of these were the War of
the Austrian Succession (see p. 644), and the Seven Years' War (see p.
631), known in America as the French and Indian War, which resulted in the
loss to France of Canada in the New World and of her Indian possessions in
Though thus shorn of her colonial possessions in all quarters of the
globe, France managed to hold in Europe the provinces won for her by the
wars and the diplomacy of Louis XIV., and even made some fresh
acquisitions of territory along the Rhenish frontier.
But taken all together, the period was one of great national humiliation:
the French fleet was almost driven from the sea; the martial spirit of the
nation visibly declined; and France, from the foremost place among the
states of Europe, fell to the position of a third or fourth rate power.
ENGLAND UNDER THE STUARTS: THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION. (1603-1714.)
I. THE FIRST TWO STUARTS.
1. _Reign of James the First_ (1603-1625).
THE "DIVINE RIGHT" OF KINGS AND THE "ROYAL TOUCH."--With the end of the
Tudor line (see p. 561), James VI. of Scotland, son of Mary Stuart, came
to the English throne, as James I. of England. The accession of the House
of Stuart brought England and Scotland under the same sovereign, though
each country still retained its own Parliament.
The Stuarts were firm believers in the doctrine of the "Divine Right" of
kings. They held that hereditary princes are the Lord's anointed, and that
their authority can in no way be questioned or limited by people, priest,
or Parliament. James I.'s own words were, "As it is atheism and blasphemy
to dispute what God can do, so it is high contempt in a subject to dispute
what a king can do, or to say that the king cannot do this or that."
This doctrine found much support in the popular superstition of the "Royal
Touch." The king was believed to possess the power--a gift transmitted
through the royal line of England from Edward the Confessor--of healing
scrofulous persons by the laying on of hands. [Footnote: Consult Lecky,
_A History of England in the Eighteenth Century_, Vol. I. p. 73. The
French kings were also supposed to possess the same miraculous power,
inherited, as most believed, from Louis the Saint.] It is simply the
bearing of this strange superstition upon the doctrine of the divine right
of kings that concerns us now. "The political importance of this
superstition," observes Lecky, "is very manifest. Educated laymen might
deride it, but in the eyes of the English poor it was a visible, palpable
attestation of the indefeasible sanctity of the royal line. It placed the
sovereignty entirely apart from the categories of mere human
By bearing this superstition in mind, it will be easier for us to
understand how so large a proportion of the people of England could
support the Stuarts in their extravagant claims, and could sincerely
maintain the doctrine of the sinfulness of resistance to the king.
THE GUNPOWDER PLOT (1605).--In the third year of James's reign was
unearthed a plot to blow up with gunpowder the Parliament Building, upon
the opening day of the Session, when king, lords, and commons would all be
present, and thus to destroy at a single blow every branch of the English
Government. This conspiracy, known as the Gunpowder Plot, was entered into
by a few Roman Catholics, because they were disappointed in the course
which the king had taken as regards their religion. [Footnote: Though son
of the Catholic Mary Stuart, James had been educated as a Protestant.] The
leader of the conspiracy, Guy Fawkes, was arrested, and after being put to
the rack, was executed. His chief accomplices were also seized and
punished. The alarm created by the terrible plot led Parliament to enact
some very severe laws against all the Roman Catholics of the realm.
COLONIES AND TRADE SETTLEMENTS.--The reign of James I. is signalized by
the commencement of that system of colonization which has resulted in the
establishment of the English race in almost every quarter of the globe.
In the year 1607 Jamestown, so named in honor of the king, was founded in
Virginia. This was the first permanent English settlement within the
limits of the United States. In 1620 some Separatists, or Pilgrims, who
had found in Holland a temporary refuge from persecution, pushed across
the Atlantic, and amidst heroic sufferings and hardships established the
first settlement in New England, and laid the foundations of civil liberty
in the New World.
Besides planting these settlements in the New World, the English during
this same reign established themselves in the ancient country of India. In
1612 the East India Company, which had been chartered by Elizabeth in
1600, established their first trading-post at Surat. This was the humble
beginning of the gigantic English empire in the East.
CONTEST BETWEEN JAMES AND THE COMMONS.--We have made mention of James's
idea of the divine right of kingship. Such a view of royal authority and
privileges was sure to bring him into conflict with Parliament, especially
with the House of Commons. He was constantly dissolving Parliament and
sending the members home, because they insisted upon considering subjects
which he had told them they should let alone.
The chief matters of dispute between the king and the Commons were the
limits of the authority of the former in matters touching legislation and
taxation, and the nature and extent of the privileges and jurisdictions of
As to the limits of the royal power, James talked and acted as though his
prerogatives were practically unbounded. He issued proclamations which in
their scope were really laws, and then enforced these royal edicts by
fines and imprisonment, as though they were regular statutes of
Parliament. Moreover, taking advantage of some uncertainty in the law as
regards the power of the king to collect customs at the ports of the
realm, he laid new and unusual duties upon imports and exports. James's
judges were servile enough to sustain him in this course, some of them
going so far as to say that "the sea-ports are the king's gates, which he
may open and shut to whom he pleases."
As to the privileges of the Commons, that body insisted, among other
things, upon their right to determine all cases of contested election of
their members, and to debate freely all questions concerning the common
weal, without being liable to prosecution or imprisonment for words spoken
in the House. James denied that these privileges were matters of right
pertaining to the Commons, and repeatedly intimated to them that it was
only through his own gracious permission and the favor of his ancestors
that they were allowed to exercise these liberties at all, and that if
their conduct was not more circumspect and reverential, he should take
away their privileges entirely.
On one occasion, the Commons having ventured to debate certain matters of
state which the king had forbidden them to meddle with, he, in reproving
them, made a more express denial than ever of their rights and privileges,
which caused them, in a burst of noble indignation, to enter upon their
journal a brave protest, known as "The Great Protestation," which declared
that "the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of
Parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the
subjects of England, and that the arduous and urgent affairs concerning
the king, state, and defence of the realm ... are proper subjects and
matter of council and debate in Parliament" (1621).
When intelligence of this action was carried to the king, he instantly
sent for the journal of the House, and with his own hands tore out the
leaf containing the obnoxious resolution. Then he angrily prorogued
Parliament, and even went so far as to imprison several of the members of
the Commons. In these high handed measures we get a glimpse of the Stuart
theory of government, and see the way paved for the final break between
king and people in the following reign.
King James died in the year 1625, after a reign as sovereign of England
and Scotland of twenty-two years.
LITERATURE.--One of the most noteworthy literary labors of the reign under
review was a new translation of the Bible, known as _King James's
Version_. This royal version is the one in general use at the present
The most noted writers of James's reign were a bequest to it from the
brilliant era of Elizabeth (see p. 560). Sir Walter Raleigh, the petted
courtier of Elizabeth, fell on evil days after her death. On the charge of
taking part in a conspiracy against the crown, he was sent to the Tower,
where he was kept a prisoner for thirteen years. From the tedium of his
long confinement, he found relief in the composition of a _History of
the World_. He was at last beheaded.
[Illustration: THE TOWER OF LONDON.]
The close of the life of the great philosopher Francis Bacon, was scarcely
less sad than that of Sir Walter Raleigh. He held the office of Lord
Chancellor, and yielding to the temptations of the corrupt times upon
which he had fallen, accepted bribes from the suitors who brought cases
before him. He was impeached and brought to the bar of the House of Lords,
where he confessed his guilt, pathetically appealing to his judges "to be
merciful to a broken reed." He lived only five years after his fall and
disgrace, dying in 1626.
Bacon must be given the first place among the philosophers of the English-
speaking race. His system is known as the _Inductive Method of
Philosophy_. It insists upon experiment and a careful observation of
facts as the only true means of arriving at a knowledge of the laws of
2. _Reign of Charles the First_ (1625-1649).
THE PETITION OF RIGHT (1628).--Charles I. came to the throne with all his
father's lofty notions about the divine right of kings. Consequently the
old contest between king and Parliament was straightway renewed. The first
two Parliaments of his reign Charles dissolved speedily, because instead
of voting supplies they persisted in investigating public grievances.
After the dissolution of his second Parliament Charles endeavored to raise
the money he needed to carry on the government, by means of "benevolences"
and forced loans. But all his expedients failed to meet his needs, and he
was compelled to fall back upon Parliament. The Houses met, and promised
to grant him generous subsidies, provided he would sign a certain
_Petition of Right_ which they had drawn up. Next after Magna Charta,
this document up to this date is the most noted in the constitutional
history of England. It simply reaffirmed the ancient rights and privileges
of the English people as defined in the Great Charter and by the good laws
of Edward I. and Edward III. Four abuses were provided against: (i) the
raising of money by loans, "benevolences," taxes, etc., without the
consent of Parliament; (2) arbitrary imprisonment; (3) the quartering of
soldiers in private houses--a very vexatious thing; and (4) trial without
[Illustration: CHARLES I. (After a painting by A. Vandyke.)]
Charles was as reluctant to assent to the Petition as King John was to
affix his seal to the Magna Charta; but he was at length forced to give
sanction to it by the use of the usual formula, "Let it be law as desired"
CHARLES RULES WITHOUT PARLIAMENT (1629-1640).--It soon became evident that
Charles was utterly insincere when he put his name to the Petition of
Right. He immediately violated its provisions in attempting to raise money
by forbidden taxes and loans. For eleven years he ruled without
Parliament, thus changing the government of England from a government by
king, lords, and commons, to what was in effect an absolute and
irresponsible monarchy, like that of France or Spain.
As is always the case under such circumstances, there were enough persons
ready to aid the king in his schemes of usurpation. Prominent among his
unscrupulous agents were his ministers Thomas Wentworth (Earl of Stafford)
and William Laud. Wentworth devoted himself to establishing the royal
despotism in civil matters; while Laud, who was made Archbishop of
Canterbury, busied himself chiefly with exalting above all human
interference the king's prerogatives in religious affairs as the supreme
head of the English Church.
All these high-handed and tyrannical proceedings of Charles and his agents
were enforced by certain courts that had been wrested from their original
purpose and moulded into instruments of despotism. These were known as the
_Council of the North_, the _Star Chamber_, and the _High Commission
Court_. [Footnote: The first was a tribunal established by Henry VIII.,
and was now employed by Wentworth as an instrument for enforcing the
king's despotic authority in the turbulent northern counties of England.
The Star Chamber was a court of somewhat obscure origin, which at this
time dealt chiefly with criminal cases affecting the government, such as
riot, libel, and conspiracy. The High Commission Court was a tribunal of
forty-four commissioners, created in Elizabeth's reign to enforce the acts
of Supremacy and Uniformity.] All of these courts sat without jury, and
being composed of the creatures of the king, were of course his
subservient instruments. Their decisions were unjust and arbitrary; their
punishments, harsh and cruel.
JOHN HAMPDEN AND SHIP-MONEY.--Among the illegal taxes levied during this
period of tyranny was a species known as ship-money, so called from the
fact that in early times the kings, when the realm was in danger, called
upon the sea-ports and maritime counties to contribute ships and ship-
material for the public service. Charles and his agents, in looking this
matter over, conceived the idea of extending this tax over the inland as
well as the sea-board counties.
Among those who refused to pay the tax was a country gentleman, named John
Hampden. The case was tried in the Exchequer Chamber, before all the
twelve judges. All England watched the progress of the suit with the
utmost solicitude. The question was argued by able counsel both on the
side of Hampden and of the crown. Judgment was finally rendered in favor
of the king, although five of the twelve judges stood for Hampden. The
case was lost; but the people, who had been following the arguments, were
fully persuaded that it went against Hampden simply for the reason that
the judges stood in fear of the royal displeasure, and that they did not
dare to decide the case adversely to the crown.
The arbitrary and despotic character which the government had now assumed
in both civil and religious matters, and the hopelessness of relief or
protection from the courts, caused thousands to seek in the New World that
freedom and security which was denied them in their own land.
THE COVENANTERS.--England was almost ready to rise in open revolt against
the unbearable tyranny. Events in Scotland hastened the crisis. The king
was attempting to impose the English liturgy (slightly modified) upon the
Scotch Presbyterians. At Edinburgh this led to a riot, one of the women
worshippers throwing a stool at the bishop who attempted to read the
service. The spirit of resistance spread. All classes, nobles and peasants
alike, bound themselves by a solemn covenant to resist to the very last
every attempt to make innovations in their religion. From this act they
became known as Covenanters (1638).
The king resolved to crush the movement by force, but he soon found that
war could not be carried on without money, and was constrained to summon
Parliament in hopes of obtaining a vote of supplies. But instead of making
the king a grant of money, the Commons first gave their attention to the
matter of grievances, whereupon Charles dissolved the Parliament. The
Scottish forces crossed the border, and the king, helpless, with an empty
treasury and a seditious army, was forced again to summon the two Houses.
THE LONG PARLIAMENT.--Under this call met on November 3, 1640, that
Parliament which, from the circumstance of its lasting over twelve years,
became known as the Long Parliament. The members of the Commons of this
Parliament were stern and determined men, who were resolved to put a check
to the despotic course of the king.