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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

His troops forced from Flemish territories


When

the Prince of Orange was ambassador in the court of France, Henry II, supposing him to be privy to his master's plans, on a hunting-excursion, casually mentioned a private treaty with Alva to join with Philip to exterminate heresy from their joint kingdoms. Small wonder if Orange, riding beside French royalty that day, grew pitiful toward unsuspicious, doomed thousands, and pitiless toward Philip and his Spanish soldiers and followers, or that, to use his own words from the famous "Apology," "From that moment I determined in earnest to clear the Spanish venom from the land." Watch his flushed face; his eyes, like coals taken fresh from an altar of vengeance; his hand, nervously fingering his sword-hilt; his form, dilating as if for the first time he guessed he had come to manhood,--and I miss in reckoning if we are not looking on the person of a patriot. For this William of Orange and Nassau is William the Silent, keeping his dreadful secret; but keeping the secret, too, that the Inquisition and Catholicism, and Spain, and Philip have an enemy whose hostility can only be silenced by a bullet. The day the French king gave William this fatal confidence was an epoch in the life of William and of Europe.

His life divides into two periods, this dialogue between himself and Henry II closing the one and opening the other. With that fatal confidence his youth ended and his manhood began. Get a closer view of his youth. From his fifteenth to his

twenty-first year he was in constant attendance at the court of Charles V, who loved, trusted, and honored him. He was at this age, rich, frivolous, spendthrift; in short, a petted nobleman of the greatest monarch in Christendom. He had evident gifts; was generous to lavishness; mortgaged his estate to gratify his luxurious tastes; was given to political expediency, caring less for conviction than popularity with his sovereign; wearing his religion, if he may be said to have possessed any, as lightly as a lady's favor; lacking in reverence, he was flippant rather than irreligious, but a youth of fashion, pleasure, and luxury. Charles V, discovering in him extraordinary parts, invested him, at the age of twenty-two, with command of the imperial forces before Marienburg, and at his abdication leaned affectionately on William's shoulder. Count Egmont alone excepted, Orange was the most distinguished Flemish nobleman who passed from Charles to Philip as part of the emperor's bequest. Early in Philip's reign, Orange was made one of the king's counselors and Knight of the Golden Fleece, at that time most coveted and honorable of any military knighthood. At the age of twenty-six, he was one of the peace commissioners between Henry II and Philip II, and at this time he came into possession of that secret which changed his life. Here ends the youth of William of Nassau. Let us get this man more clearly in the eye. He was above middle height, spare, sinewy; dark in complexion; had gentle brown eyes, auburn hair and beard; face thin, nose aquiline; head small, but well formed; his hair luxuriant, his beard trimmed to a point; about his neck the superb collar of the Golden Fleece. He is married, and his home is Breda.

Between the young king and his Flemish Stadtholder was never any warmth of feeling. When Orange, pursuant to his resolution formed in the French king's presence, spurred the States to demand the removal of the Spanish soldiers from the Netherlands, with a pertinacity dogged and changeless till the king, in sheer desperation, acquiesced in the just demand, though with a chagrin of spirit toward the instrument of his defeat which became settled hatred, and never lifted from his heart for a moment in those long succeeding years, when the king, like a recluse in the Escurial, brooded over his defeat. His troops forced from Flemish territories, Philip himself departed from a region he had never loved and had scarcely tolerated, departed, not to return any more, save by proxy of fire and sword, and cruel soldiery, and more cruel generals--the pitiless Parmas and Alvas--and departing, he embraced the other noblemen with such cold warmth as was native to him, but upbraided Orange bitterly for the action of the States, and when Orange replied the action was not his, but the States-General, Philip, beside himself with rage, cried, "Not the States, but you! you! you!" Thus King Philip passed into Spain, and the Prince of Orange into the second era of his life.


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