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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

Who were to assist them in all inquisitorial cases


opposition took their stand on three things, all of which hung together--the presence of Spanish troops on the soil of the Netherlands, the cruelties perpetrated in the execution of the _Placards_ against heresy, and the institution of the new bishoprics in accordance with the Bull of Pope Paul IV., reaffirmed by Pius IV. in 1560 (Jan.). The common fighting ground for the opposition to all the three was the invasion of the charters and privileges of the various provinces which these measures necessarily involved, and the consequent violation of the King's coronation oath.

Philip had solemnly promised to withdraw the Spanish troops within three or four months after he left the country. They had remained for fourteen, and the whole land cried out against the pillage and rapine which accompanied their presence. The people of Zeeland declared that they would rather see the ocean submerge their country--that they would rather perish, men, women, and children, in the waves--than endure longer the outrages which these mercenaries inflicted upon them. They refused to repair the Dykes. The presence of these troops had been early seen to be a degradation to his country by William of Orange.[251] At the States General held on the eve of Philip's departure, he had urged the Assembly to make the departure of the troops a condition of granting subsidies, and had roused Philip's wrath in consequence. He now voiced the cry of the whole country. It was so strong

that Granvelle sent many an urgent request to the King to sanction their removal; and at length he and the Regent, without waiting for orders, had the troops embarked for Madrid.

The rigorous repression of heresy compelled the Government to override the charters of the several provinces. Many of these charters contained very strong provisions, and the King had sworn to maintain them. The constitution of Brabant, known as the _joyeuse entree_ (_blyde inkomst_), provided that the clergy should not be given unusual powers; and that no subject, nor even a foreign resident, could be prosecuted civilly or criminally except in the ordinary courts of the land, where he could answer and defend himself with the help of advocates. The charter of Holland contained similar provisions. Both charters declared that if the Prince transgressed these provisions the subjects were freed from their allegiance. The inquisitorial courts violated the charters of those and of the other provinces. The great objection taken to the increase of the episcopate, according to the provisions of the Bulls of Paul IV. and of Pius IV., was that it involved a still greater infringement of the chartered rights of the land. For example, the Bulls provided that the bishops were to appoint nine canons, who were to assist them in all inquisitorial cases, while at least one of them was to be an Inquisitor charged with ferreting out and punishing heresy. This was apparently their great charm for Philip II. He desired an instrument to extirpate heretics. He knew that the Reformation was making great progress in the Netherlands, especially in the great commercial cities. "I would lose all my States and a hundred lives if I had them," he wrote to the Pope, "rather than be the lord of heretics."

The opposition at first contented itself with protesting against the position and rule of Granvelle, and with demanding his recall. Philip came to the reluctant conclusion to dismiss his Minister, and did so with more than his usual duplicity. The nobles returned to the Council, and the Regent affected to take their advice. But they were soon to discover that the recall of the obnoxious Minister did not make any change in the policy of Philip.

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