Netherlands and War of Religion

Spain, Netherlands, England
• Philip II of Spain (1556-598)
• Goals: consolidate & Secure lands he
inherited from Charles V
• Wanted strict uniformity in religion
• Use of Spanish Inquisition
• Strong monarchial authority
• Monarchy became less dependent upon
landed aristocracy
• Became center of government:
administered all departments, but could
not delegate authority—became ineffective
Philip’s Economy
• Importation of gold/silver from New
• Agriculture, industry: textiles, silk,
leather goods, commerce
• BUT inflation from influx of money
disrupted Spanish economy—hurt
textiles and agriculture
• Expense of wars after 1580
devastated economy
• American gold/silver never more than
20% of royal revenue
• Forced to impose crushing direct and
indirect taxes on citizens
• Gov’t still had to borrow
• Philip repudiated his debts 7 times:
yet 2/3 of state income went to
interest payments on debt
• Attempt to make Spain great power
led to its decline
• Catholicism to Spanish People most
important aspect of Spanish heritage
• Saw themselves as saviors of
Catholic Christianity (from Protestant
• Philip II “Most Catholic King”
• 1571—Battle of Lepanto: Spanish, led
by Philip II’s half-brother Don Jon,
sent forth a holy league against
Turks, led by Ali Pasha (Ottoman
• Result of battle in Mediterranean:
1/3 Turkish fleet sunk
• 30,000 Turks died
• Portugal annexed in 1580
• But Spain less successful in
Northern Europe, especially in
regards to the Netherlands
• Netherlands were pivot point of
European diplomacy and war.
• Movement to reform church became
struggle for Dutch independence
• Charles V (HRE) sees 17 provinces
and Flanders as very important for
trade w/in the empire
• Antwerp: intersection of trade routes
• International commerce and finance
English: wool
Portuguese: spices
Baltic: wheat, fur, timber
German states: iron
Antwerp harbor could hold 2500 vessels
All Dutch cities wealthy:
Historical liberties
Self-governing—own laws
Collected own taxes
Recognized Charles V as common ruler;
he gave unity to provinces
17c Dutch Global Commerce
• Netherlands held a States General:
delegates from all provinces gathered, but
decisions were made in the provinces
• Religion in Netherlands:
Same story: corruption in Catholic church;
Spirit of Renaissance—reform movement
Lutheran tracts spread; Dutch Bible flooded
the provinces;
1520-1530’s: many become Protestant
Charles V response:
• Condemnation and mild repression of
• Not effective policy, but worked for him b/c
he was born in Ghent and raised in the
Netherlands; this stopped the spread of
• Dutch were loyal to Charles V.
• 1556—Charles V abdicates the HRE
throne; splits his empire: Bro Ferdinand I
gets Austria & Germany; son Philip II gets
Spain, Netherlands, Milan, Sicily, New
The Spanish Hapsburgs & Europe (1556)
Philip II consolidated Hapsburg lands
at the end of the 16c.
Revolt of the Netherlands 1566-1587
• Calvinism threat to Spain
• By 1560’s: most cities had strong militant
minority members: Large middle class—
Calvinism appealed to them:
– Intellectual seriousness
– Moral gravity
– Emphasis on any labor well done
– Working class
– Encouraged opposition to ‘illegal civil
• Philip II aroused resentment when
people of Netherlands realized that
taxes they paid went to Spain to
support Spanish interests
• Philip II tried to crush Calvinism
• 1566: violence erupted when Calvinist
esp. nobles, began the destruction of
statues, stained glass windows in
Catholic churches
• 1559: Margaret, Philip II’s half-sister,
made regent of the Netherlands
• *1559-1567: pushed Philip’s orders to
wipe out Protestantism via the
• *Raised taxes to finance government
despite opposition of the States
General (Netherlands’ taxes higher
than Spain’s)
• This move unites repressed Calvinists
w/those opposed to government fiscal
• Repressive policies alienated many
• Special tribunal: Council of Troubles,
established a reign of terror in the north
• Powerful aristocrats executed
• Revolt became organized, especially In
the northern provinces
• William the Silent and Sea beggars met
growing resistance
• High grain prices
• Popular preaching incite violent
destruction aimed at:
• Images of false doctrines, not people
• Cathedral of Notre Dame—Antwerp 1st
• Preaching spread to Brussels, Ghent,
Holland, Zeeland
Philip II Reacts
• Duke of Alva, accompanied by 20,000
troops sent from Madrid to pacify the
Low Countries
• Alva: Ruthless extermination of
political and religious dissidents
• Between Inquisition and Alva’s
Council of Blood, 1500 men executed
on March 3, 1568
• Margaret sickened by this and
resigned the regency
• Duke of Alva remained
–Solved financial crisis: 10% sales
tax on all transactions
–1568-1578: Civil War between
Catholics and Protestants in Low
Countries and also between Low
Countries and Spain
–1576: 17 Provinces of the
Netherlands united under Prince
William of Orange (William the
• Philip II sends his nephew, Alexander
Farnese (Duke of Parma) to crush the
revolt for good.
• Farnese:
–Superb sense of timing
–Knowledge of lowland geography
–Perfect plan
–German mercenaries in army
–Fought by sieges
• All cities in South fall; finally Antwerp
• Calvinism forbidden in South; Protestants
convert or leave
• Antwerp—most northern city under
Spanish jurisdiction
• Religious division of Netherlands
• 10 southern provinces: controlled by
Spanish Hapsburgs (future Belgium)
Union of Arras—1579—Catholic union
• 7 Northern provinces, led by Holland, form
Union of Utrecht
The Spanish Netherlands:
Union of Utrecht, 1579
The United Provinces still recognized Spanish rule,
but, in 1581, they declared their independence.
1581: United Provinces of Netherlands
Union of Utrecht declares independence
from Spain to form United Provinces of
North and South very different:
Ardennes mts. Interrupt
canals & sluices
flat terrain
Broke dikes &
Flooded countryside
To halt Farnese
• Commercial
aristocracy held
• Protestant
• Landed nobility held
• Catholic
Geographical division not acceptable
to Philip II or Farnese
Struggle continued after 1581
United Provinces got help from
Elizabeth I of England
Holland’s Dikes
Patrician Houses Along the Canal in Leiden
The “Dagger”
The “Dagger”
Pointing at the
Heart of Britain!
1558: Mary Tudor died/Elizabeth I
becomes queen
Intelligent, cautious, self-confident
Moved to solve religious division in
England (Mary had returned to
Catholicism and killed protestants)
Elizabeth: moderation and compromise
1559: Catholic legislation repealed
New Act of Supremacy/Act of
Uniformity revised to be more
acceptable to Catholics
• Catholics and Puritans continued to
oppose Elizabeth’s settlement
• Mary, queen of Scots, next in line to
throne, challenged Elizabeth
• Calvinists ousted her from Scotland in
1568; she fled for her life to England
• Elizabeth placed her under house
arrest for 14 years/tolerated her
involvement in plots on Elizabeth’s life
• Beheads her to end threat to Queen’s
• Foreign Policy:
• Officially, Elizabeth knew that war would
devastate England
• Unofficially, she encouraged SEA Dogs:
Drake and company, to raid Spanish ships
and colonies
• English piracy encouraged
• If she failed to help the Dutch, Farnese
would crush them and then try to invade
England so she sends covert aid to French
Huguenots and Dutch Calvinists trying to
weaken those countries
3 things forced her hand
• 1) English economy badly hurt (no wool
• 2) Murder of William the Silent (July 1584)
(no military check on Farnese)
• 3) Collapse of Antwerp: signal of Catholic
sweep through the Netherlands—England
• Result—Elizabeth sent 250,000 pounds
and 2,000 troops to Protestant cause in
Low Countries 1585-1587
• Philip II then encouraged to invade
Spanish Armada sent—was a disaster
from the beginning: not enough ships,
or troops
English ships battered the fleet
Ships sailed back to Spain by
northward route around Scotland
Battered by storms, and most of fleet
The Netherlands (1609)

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