20. Instruction issued on behalf of my Lord, the Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau which N.N. shall be obliged to follow if God gives hem the Grace to take the Town of N., 24 November 1570

Explanatory Note : These instructions express Orangist policy on the question of religion. Although Orange advocated freedom of worship for both Catholics and Calvinists, the proposal to inventory church furnishings must have alarmed loyal Catholics. The Instructions issued by Orange to Diederick Sonoy on 20 April 1572 in his capacity as Governor of Enkhuizen, Medemblik and Hoorn are almost word-for-word the same as those of 1570.

Text : 1 … the aforesaid N.N. shall in accordance with his commission and with God’s help do everything possible to gain entry to the aforesaid town of N. and once in possession to deliver one and all of its inhabitants from their present slavery and tyranny and to bring back and to restore to them their former liberties, rights, usages and privileges.

2. From the first he shall with all diligence ensure that the Word of God may be proclaimed and preached there. Moreover, if the inhabitants or some of them so desire, he shall permit also the exercise of the Religion in agreement with the Word of God. Nevertheless he shall not suffer the members of the Roman Church to be molested or prevent the exercise of their religion, until such time as we have otherwise ordered, or that necessity and malice should in the opinion of the governor and corporation require otherwise. Meanwhile the aforesaid N. should do his duty so that all the aforesaid inhabitants may as far as possible live together in harmony and peace. No clandestine meetings shall be permitted either at night or during the day.

6. Those who, on account of the Religion, the compromise of the nobility and the presentation of the requests in the past in the Low Countries or for any matter relating to these, might have departed or been banished from the town, shall be allowed to return. They shall be restored to all their property, legal documents and rights, even though these may have been seized, confiscated and alienated to another party.

8. In order that he may more effectively carry out our good intention, he shall retain all those who in the aforesaid town sit as magistrates or councillors if he discover these to be well disposed. Otherwise, he shall remove the same and appoint others in their place, as seems necessary for the greater security of the said town.

[Magistrates,officers and all the inhabitants should take the following oath; those who refuse to do so, shall be regarded as rebels and enemies.]

10. They shall swear as follows:

…that they shall remain faithful and loyal to the King under my lord the prince and also that they shall obey his Excellency in all that he bids and commands to them to do to the furtherance of God’s Word, the service of His Majesty, the welfare, deliverance and liberty of the province … that they shall champion the liberty and privileges of the town and its prosperity; that they shall in no wise permit or suffer anyone to be obstructed, injured or disturbed in the preaching of the true Word of God in accordance with the gospel, or that anyone be examined in his conscience or persecuted on that account by inquisition or placards. Likewise, those of the Religion shall not molest or injure those of the religion of the Roman Church. Further, that they shall not enter into any agreement with those who pretend to have a commission from the King, irrespective of the conditions, even though they promised to extend the privileges and liberties of the town and to permit the exercise of the Religion, without the express consent of my lord the prince of Orange … as my lord the Prince for his part likewise promises [not to enter into any agreement] without the consent of the towns. For they may rest assured that such promises will not be kept, as has been demonstrated in the past by the agreement concerning the preaching [August 1566] and also by the conspiracy made between the King and Pope against the Religion.

15. He shall not allow any minister, irrespective of his religion, to proceed provisionally to the office of preacher or to preach any sermons, even though he has preached in the past and been appointed to that office, without first showing himself to the authorities and the magistrates.

16. As soon as our governor has entered the town, he shall give every assistance to our commissioners whom we shall send in order to make an inventory and to put into safe keeping, (with a notary and witnesses who shall be taken from among the magistrates) all the movables from the churches, religious houses and other such chapels, be they money, gold and silver, both wrought and unfashioned, consecrated or unconsecrated. Likewise, in the presence of such witnesses, to help our commissioners and permit them to list all the incomes from excises, tolls, domain lands, tenths and all other similar rights of His Majesty and to remove the account books of the treasurers or receivers, along with everything which has been received or shall be received.

Dillenberg, 24 November 1570

Source : J.F. van Someren, La Correspondance du prince Guillaume d’Orange avec Jacques de Wesenbeke (Utrecht, 1896) 148-153. For the Instructions issued by Orange to Diederick Sonoy on 20 April 1572 see P. Bor, Oorsprongk, begin en vervolgh , I, 375-76.