The eighty years war

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The Eighty Years War
The most accepted opinion is that the Rebellion or the Eighty years war starts with the ransacking of churches and convents (Beeldenstorm) in 1566. The cause of this uprising can be found in the bad economic position of the common people and the oppression of the new calvinistic religion. This oppression was policy of king Philip II of Spain who also ruled the low countries.The result of this outburrst of violence was that the breach between Catholics and King on one hand, and Calvinists together with unsatisfied noblemen, who demanded freedom of religion on the other, was unrepairable. The last were lead by William the silent, Prince of Orange.

To crush this rebellion Philip II sent a new governor to the Netherlands: Ferdinand Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva,who began very energetic on his new task. On the day of his arrival he installed a new court of law: The Blood Council (De Raad van Beroerten or Bloedraad) with himself as chairman. This council was famous for its many harsh sentences. He also had two leaders of the rebellion imprissoned and sentenced to death by decapitation: the count of Egmont and the count of Hoorne. Alva also created new taxes,a new criminal code, garrisons in major cities and he supported the inquisition.

William of Orange wasn't idle either. He invaded the low countries several times with a mercenary army. Due to a lack of money and little public support these invasions were doomed from the start. There rebels were not entirely unsuccesfull. The "Watergeuzen" had captured the harbortown of Den Briel. Thesesailors were a colourful lot of people. The fleet consisted out of noblemen, scientists, merchants, fishermen, craftsmen and riff-raff from every region of the Netherlands as rank and file. William the Silent made use of these seamen as privateers. The fall of Den Briel or Brielle was the first in a row of several cities mainly in Holland and Zeeland. These cities created a government (DeStatenvergadering in Dordrecht 1572) with on its head William of Orange as stadtholder.

The Spaniards also had their successes, but the war was costing huge amounts of money. Therefor peacenegotiatians were started but whad to fail from the start. In the meantime Alva who did not like the low countries and its wet climate at all had asked several times a relief of his duties. Philip in the end gave inand appointed in 1573 Don Louis de Requesens as new governer. This Requesens died suddenly in 1576 and with no successor the serious discontent of the Spanish troops which had not had payment in months became visible. They started a mutiny. Many civilian would meet his end in an encounter with these troops. To end this mutiny a treaty was signed (Pacificatie van Gent) The Government came in handsof the States of the districts and the States General, royal troops had to leave the country and religious persecution had to sease. In Holland and Zeeland the church stayed reformed in a calvinistic way and had to be recognized by others.

This treaty could not work out right. The King in Spain never would recognize religious freedom and he never would give up power in favor of the StatesGeneral. Protestants also were not satisfied they wanted to be the calvinistic church to be the only one. When Spanish troops returned the treaty was cancelled. In the meantime William of Orange grew more powerfull. He united some districts in a union: De Unie van Utrecht to continue the struggle for freedom of religion and parlamentary power. The new Spanish governor Alexander Farnese, duke ofParma made alliance with the States of Henegouwen and Artesië the so called Unie van Atrecht. In 1584 William of Orange was for the second time assasinated. This time it would be succesfull. The assasin Balthasar Gerards was sentenced to death. His skull would be kept as a relic. His family was raised to the peerage.

The military genius of Parma and the conservatism of the majority was the...
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