now to trace the feudal liberties of the Netherlands to
the Isle of Manhattan
The contest in the Low Countries
was one of the most memorable in the history of the human race.
All classes were roused to opposition.
The nobles framed a solemn petition; the common people broke in pieces the images that filled the churches.
Despotism then seized possession of the courts, and invested a commission with arbitrary power over life and property; to overawe the burghers, the citadels were filled with mercenary soldiers; to strike terror into the nobility, Egmont and Horn
Men fled; but whither?
The village, the city, the court, the camp, were held by the tyrant; the fugitive had no asylum but the ocean.
The establishment of subservient courts was followed by arbitrary taxation.
But feudal liberty forbade taxation except by consent; and the levying of the tenth penny excited more commotion than the tribunal of blood.
Merchant and landholder, citizen and peasant, catholic and protestant, were ripe for insurrection; and even with foreign troops Alba
vainly attempted to enforce taxation without representation.
Just then, in April, 1572, a party of the
fugitive ‘beggars’ succeeded in gaining the harbor of Briel; and in July of the same year, the states of Holland
, creating the prince of Orange
their stadtholder, prepared to levy money and troops.
Zealand joined with Holland
in demanding for freedom some better safeguard than the word of Philip II., and in November of the following year nearly all
the provinces united to drive foreign troops from their soil.
‘The spirit that animates them,’ said Sydney to Queen Elizabeth, ‘is the spirit of God, and is invincible.’