Apology of William of Orange

A New Annotated English Translation.

This new translation has been published by Alastair Duke in: Dutch Crossing. A Journal of Low Countries Studies 22 (1998), nr. 1, 3-96. The editorial board of the website is very grateful both to Alastair Duke and Dutch Crossing for their permission to offer this translation here. The annotation will soon follow.


Against the Proclamation and Edict, published by the King of Spain, by which he proscribed the said Lord, whereby shall appear the calumnies and false accusations contained in the said Proscription.

[ Introduction ]

My Lords, Ever since I dedicated myself and my worldly possessions for the restoration of your liberty and for the preservation of you, your property and consciences, I have always prayed to God and longed with all my heart that He would grant that if I ever put my particular interests before your general welfare, I should in such a case suffer everlasting pain and ignominy which I would have brought upon myself by my doing. But if, on the other hand, what I have done until now, I undertook solely to preserve your estate; if I have borne a great part of the burden of this present war for no other reason than the common good of the country; if the hatred conceived by certain wicked persons against the country, against all good and honourable people, which had for some time been dissembled and hidden in their hearts, should have suddenly vomited itself on me alone rather than on so many good people and especially on the general estate of the commonweal; if such has been my intention towards you, my Lords, your children, your towns and communities, [it has always been my hope] that I might some day be able to recover a solemn testimony to that effect, both for my peace of conscience and for the defence of my own honour before all the nations on earth and before all posterity.

And now I greatly rejoice and give continual thanks to our good God. I have good reason to be glad and to feel a sense of satisfaction, because He suffers me to receive a mark of such rarity, nobility and excellence by means of this Proscription, whose cruelty and barbarity has no parallel in these countries, praised among all peoples and nations for their singular and exceptional humanity. A man can wish for nothing more than that he might always lead a blessed, prosperous and steady life, free from shocks or rude encounters. Yet if everything had turned out for me as I might have wished, if I had not encountered the hatred of the Spanish nation and its adherents, I should have not have gained this testimony, which my very enemies have rendered me and which I esteem the finest garland of glory with which I would have wanted to be crowned before I die. What in this world can be more acceptable, especially to one, who has undertaken such a great and excellent work, as the liberation of so worthy a people oppressed by such evil men, than to be mortally hated by his enemies, the enemies likewise of the country, and to receive from their very lips and by their own confession such a pleasing attestation of his loyalty to his own people and of his constancy against tyrants and those who disturb the common peace? The Spaniards and their adherents, thinking to do me a disservice, have in fact done me great service. By this infamous Proscription they intended to hurt me more than before; instead they have given me greater cause for rejoicing and contentment. In addition to reaping the benefit of this, they have given me a more spacious arena than I could ever have desired to defend myself in order that I might advertise to everyone the equity and justice of my enterprises. As a result I leave to my posterity an example of virtue meet to be followed by all those who would not dishonour the nobility of our ancestors, from whom we are sprung, not one of whom has ever favoured tyranny; instead, they cherished the liberty of the people, among whom they exercised office and authority.

I should not complain that I have not before had a sufficient opportunity to speak for myself and to reprove the grievous and heinous offences of my enemies, but neither would modesty allow me to sing my own praises which is surely hard to avoid, no matter how modest a man might claim to be in such a matter. Nor would common decency permit me to expatiate and rehearse the offences of my enemies, for I preferred to bury some part of their heinous acts in silence rather than advertise these (albeit true) and run the risk of being suspected of slander. But, my Lords, the purpose in this Proscription is not only to rebuke me personally and, in barbarous fashion, to expose me as prey; by striking me, they also intend, as everyone knows, to vex the commonweal and the estate of all these lands. Nor has this come from some minor defamatory libels, written by persons of no account, whose wrongs should no more provoke me than the bite of a little snake, which ought rather to be crushed underfoot than fought against with weapons. But when men of such great countenance have so demeaned themselves as to deal in false reproaches and slanders, I thought it necessary to speak out so that our common country, for which I am ready to give my life, as I have already given my property, should not be dishonoured by my silence and so that, on the other hand, these illustrious titles of so many countries and kingdoms, extending as far as Africa and Asia, should not dazzle the eyes of those who would rather judge the affairs of this world, by shadows and appearances than by strength and sound reason.

Yet I know that those who persecute me have the advantage in many respects and principally in two points. First, they exhibit and parade their great titles which do infinitely exceed my condition. Secondly, it is natural for everyone to listen to evil speeches and slanders — I have often heard what the most elegant of all the poets well said that at a feast no sauce tastes as sweet to the palate as evil speech does to the ear — and on the other hand that nothing is heard as grudgingly as the speech of one who praises himself. Whereas that part which brings pleasure is granted to my enemy, mine is, in the eyes of almost everyone, hard and distasteful. But I hope that, with your favour and customary goodwill, neither shall cause me any harm. For many years you have proved that if these high and illustrious titles are stained with tyranny they cannot make much impression on free and noble hearts. Besides you know the usual disposition of my life, that I no more like to blame another man, than to praise myself. Yet if it should so come to pass that I do one or the other, as it is difficult to avoid (although it shall be done as modestly as I know how) and if there be anything which strikes you, my Lords, as unbecoming you should rather ascribe this to the necessity to act which my enemies have laid on me than to my nature, and so exonerate me and lay the blame wholly on their own shamelessness and importunity. And I would beseech you, my Lords, to remember that I have been falsely accused of being ungrateful, unfaithful, a heretic, a hypocrite, comparable with Judas and Cain, a troublemaker in the land, rebellious, a foreigner, an enemy of mankind, a public plague of the Christian commonwealth, a traitor and a wicked person; that I have been put at risk of being slain like a beast, with a reward set for all assassins and all poisoners who would wish to undertake the same . I leave it you to judge, my Lords, whether it is possible to clear myself from such slanders, without departing in some respects, from the ordinary tenor of my life and from the manner in which I speak about myself and other men. Meanwhile, I am so certain of the justice of my cause and my probity and faithfulness to you and, on the other side, of your equity and good earnest and knowledge of how everything came to pass that I ask nothing of you except that you would judge and take cognizance of this matter and pass judgement for your own good, safety and preservation as the laws, freedoms, liberties and privileges of the country require you, in accordance with the expectation that everyone has of your wisdom and probity. I also pray and earnestly beseech you, by all that is holy and sacred and indeed by your oath and the obligation you have towards the country. I find assurance that though in many other matters I am less than my enemies, yet I shall be in this respect so much their superior. Whereas they have sought by every means and artifice to violate, break and suppress your laws, privileges and liberties, I have honestly and faithfully applied myself to maintain and preserve the same.

My Lords, I am not in such sort an enemy of my own good name, as not to take delight in being well esteemed (as also I trust my deeds deserve the same) among all the Princes, Potentates, and Commonwealths of the world, excepting only among the Spaniards and their adherents, who as they persist in the pursuit of their tyranny, I desire neither grace nor favour nor any sort of friendship. Nevertheless since to you alone in this world I have taken an oath and to you alone do I consider myself bound and since you alone also have the power to approve or to turn to good account my deeds, I shall consider myself well satisfied, when I receive a testimony from you which conforms with my purposes which have always been bound up with your good, profit and service. I shall patiently suffer other peoples and nations passing judgement according to their passions and affections, or rather, which I prefer, according to equity, reason and justice, having first put aside all prejudice and set free their minds, clouded by such grandeur, which might previously have dazzled them.

Now if my enemies, my Lords, had come directly to the point of the Proscription, setting out the reasons for this barbarous sentence, which indeed declares all too clearly the baseness of their heart, which had degenerated from the virtue of their ancestors, I would not have used such circumlocution. I would instead have immediately declared my own innocence and shown how feeble and ill-founded is their case. But in order to render me odious, they have preferred to set at the very beginning before the eyes of the whole world a heap of wrongs and pointlessly to insert these in their discourse. They have spoken so impudently about me that it is, I suppose, necessary and indeed most reasonable that I reply to such calumnies lest anyone being moved or persuaded by such talk, might receive this my defence, with a mind which had been more estranged from me than the law received among all peoples and justice itself requires.

As for this heap of wrongs, by which I am so brazenly torn in shreds, and which when it has been removed from this Proscription, nothing shall remain there but smoke, you will see, my Lords, how plain and unvarnished is my defence. If you know me to be such as my enemies make out, if I bear either in my body or in my soul those colours in which the inventor of this document says that he has depicted me (for, my Lords, you have known me from my youth and I have spent my years nowhere else than with you), immediately close your ears and refuse to hear a single word from my lips. But if, on the other hand, I have throughout my life been more honest, upright, continent and less covetous than the authors of this slanderous document and the one who has published the same, to wit the Prince of Parma and his predecessors, whose deeds are too well known to history; if, as I say, you have known me and my ancestors to be more honest people than these (for I do not yet speak of the King) and their ancestors, then you can be certain that as they falsely slander at the very start, all the rest of their shameless accusations are no more to be trusted. What purpose, prithee, does this recitation of so many wrongs serve? It only demonstrates to the world that my enemies excel in slander and detraction and that since they, by the grace of God, have not been able to murder me, either by poison or by the sword, or to deceive me with promises or to distract me with vain hopes, and that they now seek at least to wound me with the venom of their tongue, accustomed as they are since their youth to such an infamous trade.

[ Orange Refutes the Charge of Ingratitude]

They start with a recitation of the many good turns which I have received from the Emperor, in respect of the succession of my late Lord the Prince of Orange my cousin that the King made me a member of his Order his lieutenant general in the governorship of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Burgundy and a member of the Council of State . Why do they make these allegations? To show that I am greatly obliged to the house of Spain and that I cannot escape being convicted of ingratitude. Moreover, on account of the oaths sworn by me and also of the lands and lordships that I hold in homage of the said Lord, I was bound to procure the profit and the furtherance of his affairs , thinking to make me likewise guilty of disloyalty.

Truly I confess and agree with the King and the whole house of Spain that nothing is so much to be condemned in this world, as a man defiled with these two stains, to wit ingratitude and disloyalty. Whoever has alleged these two wrongs of a man, has said as much of him, as if he had reproached him with all the charges that wise men and fools, the discreet and indiscreet, could rake together. Above all the nobler and more illustrious is the house of a Lord, the more he shall be dishonoured, if he can be convicted of such offences. If I were found to be such a man, I would deserve to be hated by the whole world, to be rooted out of the earth and my memory forever disgraced. But that shall be depend on this condition. If I demonstrate that no Prince in this world has been more ungrateful to a poor Lord, than he, who has accused me and would condemn me, has been to me and mine; that the unfaithfulness with which he has treated me (for I will not yet speak of his openly violating his faith towards the country) beggars belief, then he should also be subject to the same condition and should be recognised by everyone alive and by all posterity for what he is. I consider that his punishment should be greater than that which he prescribes for me and which he seeks to bring about by means of this dismal Proscription, by which I am, by God’s grace, no more daunted than by some apparition.

First of all, my Lords, I declare that I shall always honour the memory of the Emperor Charles, both because of his deeds and because it pleased him to honour me so greatly, having me raised in his household for the space of nine years, to whom also I gave most loyal and willing service. But when his son who by reason is most bound of all mankind to uphold his reputation, accuses me of ingratitude on the grounds that I have not acknowledged the favours which he says I have received from the Emperor, I pray you to excuse me, when I am compelled in order to defend my innocence and to declare with regard to the alleged favours, that I received none at all from him. Indeed while in his service I suffered huge losses, as you shall plainly understand it you are willing to listen to me patiently.

[ Orange’s Succession to the Inheritance of Prince René of Chalon 1544 ]

Now then he says concerning the succession to the late Lord, Prince René my cousin, that the Emperor treated me favourably. But in what respect? First, no would have been so ill advised as to have wanted to contest my right to the succession. If the Emperor did not hinder me, what did he do for me that the most prejudiced judge would not also have done? Has any party yet been found so rash that would dare to come forward to speak against it? And though I have had opponents, if my right were so clear and so well grounded that nothing so far has ever yet been alleged against it which could obscure or shake it, when the Emperor therefore gave judgement in my favour, what did he do for me but give me justice and refuse to deny me what the laws, reason, and nature itself gave me? But if it please you, my Lords, to consider the nature and quality of this succession, you shall find my right and title to have been so well founded that the Emperor could not have deprived me of it, or taken it from me, without committing an extreme injury and a most manifest wrong.

There were in the succession, two principal members or branches. The first came through our house of Nassau which my Lord forebears, my grandfathe and great-grandfathers, paternal uncles and cousins germane on my father’s side had enjoyed. This consisted of the properties which now belong to me in Brabant, Flanders, Holland and Luxembourg. The other was the succession of the house of Chalon. As for the Nassau succession commonly called Breda because it was the chief seat of my lordships where I and my predecessors held our chambers of accounts and received counsel and principal instruction no one could stand in my way here except my Lord father, for he was the uncle while I was cousin germane of my Lord the Prince René, who was the only son of my Lord Henry, count of Nassau my uncle, and the brother of my Lord father. But far from hindering me in that succession my said Lord and father himself took pains to come and solicit that I might be put in possession. Nor was anyone so shameless as to oppose it except the president Van Schor who said in council that the son of an heretic should not inherit , the more so since my Lord father, following the examples of good Kings like David, Josiah and others had reformed the Churches in his lands, which he held in Germany and had purged them from abuses, according to the Word of God and with the permission of the Emperor. Nevertheless this did not stop the Council from giving advice according to reason and equity, as indeed it could not otherwise do, since it had upheld the succession of my Lord and uncle, the Count of Königstein, to the County of Rocheforte, although he himself were Protestant. The issue (if it can be called such) to be settled was whether according to the law the succession which lay in our house passed to the father or to his son: no one except ourselves could justly make a claim.

As for the house of Chalon, first it cannot be said in respect of the baronies which I quietly hold and possess in the duchy of Burgundy and in the Dauphiné of Vienne, that I am therefore bound to the Emperor, for he had no more power there than I. All these are subject to the French King, who also seized the county of Charolais which belonged to the Emperor as well as my baronies, when war broke out between them. In this respect therefore I cannot be obliged to him except that I was included in the peace treaty made at Soissons which was the least duty he could render to the memory of my Lord cousin, who had died shortly before in the same expedition, and that on foot, at the siege of Saint-Dizier after so many feats of arms in his service. Still less could he favour me in my principality of Orange, where neither he nor any other prince had anything to say, for I hold the same in a naked and absolute sovereignty of which few other lords can boast. And in respect of my said principality there is no prince, whose amity and good grace I need except the French kings, who I hope will not touch what belongs to a poor prince, who is his most humble servant, out of respect for justice which does not permit him to go beyond what he would not wish to go and also because of the loyal services that my predecessors have performed for the crown of France and the duchy of Brittany (from which he is descended and of which he is the heir) at great danger to their lives, great expense and infinite toil.

There remains then what belongs to me in Franche-Comté of Burgundy and of which I have for so long been so unjustly and tyrannically despoiled and dispossessed, which because I have had to borrow, has caused me losses amounting to this present day to two millions [livres]. But first I would remind you why the Franche-Comté of Burgundy is so-called, namely, among other reasons, because the lords and those who have possessions in the said country have the freedom, liberty and power to bequeath and to dispose of their goods how and to whom they think fit; they are free to dispose of their possessions as seems best to them without being obliged to either their wives, their children or to any other heirs. That being the case, my Lord Prince René freely and without having any other regard for me, (who was still then a young child living in Germany under the power and instruction of my masters and governors) except that I was his cousin germane, appointed me as his general heir and this he did according to the power that he had by the laws and customs of the country. I declare that if I ought to render thanks to anyone, it is to the memory of the said Lord Prince, who being the eldest of our house, intended that as I should succeed to this rank of seniority so I should also succeed to his possessions. I did not then, nor do I to this present time, see that I am in any way obliged to the house of Spain for this succession nor is there anyone in the world who can truthfully make that claim.

But the Emperor gave a grant to the said Lord Prince allowing him to bequeath to whom he thought fit and by virtue of that grant the Prince chose me for his heir. This, my Lords, is much to my advantage and cannot be turned against me by my enemies. When the Emperor allowed the grant, he did not know whom the Prince would nominate as his heir, nor did anyone know until the day when the will was opened in the presence of Queen Mar after the death of the said Lord Prince. Since, when the Emperor gave his consent to the grant, he had no intention to advance me, I do not think myself obliged to him, because the favour which was shown to the Prince (which notwithstanding the meanest person may easily obtain by ordinary letters from the Chancery) was not shown on my behalf. Besides to judge the grant by what followed afterwards would be to judge against the rules, which I have often heard the Emperor repeat, who said that advice should be examined, approved or reproved in respect of their causes and not their effects. But even if he had not had the grant, nothing was appointed by the will of my Lord Prince René but what accorded with the laws, as has already been said.

But how will they answer when, besides all these reasons, I shall tell them that the testament of my Lord my cousin is a military testamen which they cannot deny or conceal and, what is more, made with such solemnity and deliberation? It had already been made and expressly established because the said Lord Prince (who had previously experienced the perils of war in so many expeditions undertaken in the Emperor’s service) was about to embark on such a dangerous war with a Prince as mighty as the French King. Although I am no doctor of laws, I very well remember having often many learned persons discuss this matter in the presence of my Lord father. They said that not only military testaments but also codicils were so highly valued according to the laws of the Empire that if a soldier had before his death had given the smallest indication of his will, the merest sign one could imagine, for example, if he had done no more than trace with his blood on his shield the name of he whom he would appoint as his heir or written it with the point of his halberd or sword in the earth, then that decree of his last will was inviolable and took precedence over all other ordinances, according to the ancient privileges of those who are honoured to wear the soldier’s baldric How much more then was this privilege due to such a valiant Prince and to such a noble Knight? For the issue here is not some simple mark; here was a testament, properly and advisedly made, not one made in haste or by a simple wounded soldier ready to die but one drawn up by an honourable Prince who is worthy of everlasting honour, with the assistance of his advisers, who was about to set forth on the expedition. Nor did he bequeath his inheritance to some stranger, but to his cousin germane, nor to an importunate flatterer, but to a young child far away from the Emperor’s army which was about to lay siege to Saint Dizier and intent on doing likewise at Paris.

Here, I declare, we have an ordinance made not only with the knowledge of the Emperor, but by his own grant, an ordinance according to the laws and customs of the country. Because it was therefore so well established, no one had the power to oppose it and still less to frustrate it unless by recourse to means which would have been manifestly tyrannical and which might perhaps have done more harm than good to the renown and credit of the Emperor, especially if he had intended to treat me unreasonably. And since there have been among my predecessors some, who have indeed found ways of making unjust and ungrateful princes, who have withheld their possessions from then, see reason, I therefore hope that God will yet favour me by bringing a happy issue against him who has unjustly despoiled my possessions and would also barbarously take my life. But since I am still obliged to speak about the succession, I wish someone would tell me whether the Emperor by allowing me to enjoy the succession has given it to me of his own or no. If I have received nothing from him save what previously belonged to my Lord, Prince René, I do not see how the King can in any manner reproach me because neither he nor the Emperor his father, have given me anything, unless the bestowal of the goods of others be esteemed an act of munificence.

But on the other side, albeit for the present, I will be silent about the wrongs that have been done to me in the said County [of Burgundy] where I have so many rights and prerogatives and of which they have despoiled me and of which I say nothing at this time, deferring the resolution of this dispute until arms shall have given me more reason than the injustice of him that keeps all from me. I had no sooner succeeded to the lordship of Châteaubelin than I was robbed of it, which is worth so little that at this present I am owed on that account three hundred fifty thousand livres in arrears. And this is the gist of the injustice. The Emperor was requested by my Lord my father that at the least I might, in accordance with the laws, be first restored to those possessions, which had belonged to my predecessor. But he would not suffer it; he would only allow me, although I had been disinherited, to pursue my claim in the courts, in which matter he left me at least some opening because he did not prevent me from arguing my right against him, for the case was summoned before the Parlement [Grand Conseil] of Mechelen. But when the son (who still dares to reproach me with his good turns) saw that the judgement was about to be given in the case, he forbade his court to proceed any further, on the very day that the process should have been determined and when the advice of the President and Counsellors had already been registered, and I had received word that I should find money to pay the judges’ fees. Consequently the case remains in suspension to this day. (You see, my Lords, how well justice was administered by he who had taken an oath to me and to the Barons of this country.) Such are the great benefits that I have received from the house of Spain; this is the foundation and basis of all their reproaches on which they have erected the infamous edifice of proscription.

But if, on the other hand, I should rehearse how greatly the house of Spain has been obliged to my predecessors (for I will say nothing as yet about myself) I would, I fear, be setting sail on a voyage that would require many months. Therefore I will only touch upon the principal matters leaving you, my Lords and my readers, to study the histories and ancient records of this country for particulars about the said obligations.

The Emperor Maximilian, then Archduke of Austria, was the first of the house of Austria to come to the Low Countries, but that was long after my predecessors held counties and baronies there. Now who does not know that it was Count Engelbrecht my great uncl, who maintained the said Emperor and employed his goods, his life, and his intelligence to protect him? Was it not Count Engelbrecht who together with my Lord of Romon won the day at Guinegat where by his boldness he kept the infantry together, when the cavalry had been routed and, as a result, halted the great conquests of King Louis XI and henceforth confirmed the inheritance of Maximilian? Was it not he, who on his return from captivity in France, found Maximilian embroiled in Flanders against my Lord of Ravenstein and the inhabitants of Bruge and who prevailed so well by arms and by counsel that an agreement was made. Once again he succeeded in upholding the said Archduke and likewise sustained the accord made with the inhabitants of Bruges, of which to this very day there remain notable marks both of his fidelity and of the gratitude of the inhabitants of Bruges? The same Engelbrecht subdued those that rebelled on the borders of the Rhine and on behalf of the emperor restored peace in the lands of Overmaze I shall say nothing of the dangerous journeys undertaken on behalf of the said Emperor, such as that made to Brittany in connection with the marriage treaty between the said Lord Archduke and the Lady Anne heiress of the duchy and subsequently twice Queen of France He had negotiated this so skilfully that all was agreed and should have proceeded further had not my Lord Jean Prince of Orange, father of my Lord Philibert, dashed everything and procured the marriage of the said Lady’s cousin germane with the French king Charles. The deserts and achievements of the said Lord Count were so highly esteemed in these lands that he was made Lieutenant general throughout the Low Countries.

The successor and heir to the possessions in these countries of the said Lord Count Engelbrecht was his brother, my Lord Count John of Nassau, and my great uncle On his death my uncle, my lord Count Henry, the eldest son of the said Lord Count, inherited the possessions he had here in Brabant, Luxembourg, Holland and Flander and my father, the Lord Count William, inherited his German possessions No one can deny that in his lifetime no lord in all these lands laboured more in the service of the emperor Charles than he. In order not to dwell overlong on reciting what is so well known, I will only mention in a word that it was he who placed the imperial crown upon the Emperor’s head. He had so earnestly pursued this matter, even when the Emperor because of his youth and because of his absence (for he was in Spain) was unable to pursue the same that he persuaded the Electors to prefer the Emperor to the French King, who also contended for the said election. And as everyone knows this imperial crown served as the bridge, which afterwards enabled the Emperor to obtain so many conquests.

No one can deny that acknowledgement of this was due to the said Lord Count. But can anyone show me at this present so much as a single mark of recompense, or as much as one good turn that our house received from the house of Spain? You may see in several places in these lands pieces of ordnance bearing the arms of Hungary which the King of Hungary gave my predecessors, as a testimony and memorial to the prowess they had shown in their service against the Turks. The Duke of Alba forcibly removed some of these pieces from my residence at Breda, when he tyrannised this country, though several still remain there. I have declared this because as long as these pieces survive the marks of my ancestors’ virtue shall endure; they also provide a notable testimony which the King of Hungary rendered them. But because my predecessors have been so noble and, by the grace of God and their own good house-keeping, have never been poor, they neither asked anything from the Princes of these lands, nor did they receive any free gift although surely the imperial crown at the least deserved some recompense.

I acknowledge that our house has gained greatly from the succession to Chalon and to the principality of Orange, but if we are obliged to anyone for that, truly it is to the great King Francis who gave in marriage to my Lord uncle, the sister my Lord Prince Philibert, the daughter of my Lord Prince John who had been brought up with Queen Anne, the mother-in-law of the said Lord Kin and whose cousin the said Princess was. And so you see here, my Lords, the honourable conduct of this Monarch. Whereas the Emperor received his crown by the pains and labours of my uncle, King Francis who knew what the said Lord had done for his rival, did not let this stop him from giving this Princess in marriage, who was the heiress presumptive of my Lord Prince Philibert; the said King acknowledged that he should not be displeased with him because he had constantly followed the side he had chosen to take. Therefore I may say of him, as the historiographers of his time said, that this testified to the Prince’s noble and liberal character. But suppose the Emperor had granted something in memory of my Lord Prince René and, in accordance with the last testament, had conferred some special privilege and benefit which he had desired. Would this, prithee, sufficiently recompense such loyal and signal services as he had performed? He had been such a valiant and courageous Prince and had performed so many services for him. By force of arms, he had not only recovered for the Emperor the damage of a battle lost, but also reconquered for him the duchy of Geldre and subsequently died at the Emperor’s feet and that for his service.

What shall I say about Prince Philibert who single-handedly acquired Lombardy for him and the Kingdom of Naples, and who with my Lord the Duke of Bourbon assured him of the state of Rome, and took the Pope prisoner and, in short, brought him greatness and prosperity in abundance? And yet now his son comes, reproaching the remembrance of such Princes and saying that the Emperor dealt justly with their successor and cousin. But if the Nassaus had not previously lived and the Oranges not performed so many feats of arms before the King was born, he would not have had so many titles to put at the beginning of this Proscription, in which he falsely and maliciously accuses me of being a traitor and an ingrate, crimes which have never been, and I trust never will be, committed by any of my race. But let them tell me who ordered Cardinal Granvelle to poison the last Maximilian to be Emperor, when he was the King of the Romans. I know what he told me concerning that matter and that afterwards he was so afraid of the King and of the Spaniards that he was too fearful to profess that religion that he knew nevertheless to be the best

[ The supposed favours Philip has shown to Orange ]

It goes on to say that he has continued to show me more and more favour having successively made me a member of his Order, afterwards lieutenant general in the governorship of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Burgundy and a member of his Council of State and that he has bestowed on me many possessions and honours . As for the possessions I am quite at a loss to know what these were, unless one should regard as benefits the great expenses that I have incurred in the service of both the Emperor and the King. For those alive at that time, and especially in the King’s time, may well remember how the Court was always greatly attended by the nobility from many different nations, for the most part by the nobility from Germany. Now every one knows that my house always stood open and that usually I bore the costs and charges of the Court supplementing the small allowance made on behalf of the King. Everyone also knows the great and excessive expenses which I sustained for the journey when I was obliged to carry the imperial Crown to the emperor Ferdinand a commission undertaken reluctantly and despite several protestations to the Emperor and to the Queen of Hungary, all the more because I did not think it reasonable that I should remove from my Master’s head the Crown which had been placed there in the past by my predecessors. After this I travelled to France where I was sent as one of the hostages for the execution of the peace of Câteau-Cambrésis. This also put me to great expense in so much that I can in these three points assure you that I spent more than one million five hundred thousand guilders (to which should be added the charges that I incurred in the last wars, especially at Philippeville and Charlemont where I was in command) despite which the Exchequer will testify that I never received so much as a pennypiece in recompense for these services. Even as lieutenant general of the army I did not receive more than three hundred guilders a month for all charges, which was not enough to pay the servants who pitched my tents. Indeed if the Queen of Hungary were alive, she would certainly recall what she said to me when the Emperor, finding himself in the greatest extremity that he had ever been because, on the one hand, of the power of Duke Maurice and of the Landgrave William and on the other that of the French King, made the peace of Passau at great expense to our house, which had served him (to our great detriment and cost) in order to save the Empire which he had previously acquired.

Although the Emperor, in a full assembly of the Empire, being set on his throne and imperial seat, had with the advice of the Electors, passed final judgement to the effect that we should have the County of Katzenelnbogen with more than two million guilders for arrears, he notwithstanding made his peace at our expense for by the Passau agreement he gave possession to the other party without giving us any recompense I am not rehearsing this now to rekindle the case for our house has since reached an agreement with the most illustrious house of the landgraves of Hesse, whose good kinsmen and servants we are, but so that everyone may understand what great benefits we have received from the house of Spain and may know who can properly be accused of ingratitude. And this, my Lords, is not the first such treatment they have shown to us. When my Lord Prince René, then the eldest of our house, prosecuted the war so courageously in Cleves, the Emperor promised him that he would never conclude peace with the Duke of Cleves unless he should peaceably leave us the third part of the duchy of Julich which belonged to us by the succession of my Lord, Count John of Nassau, my great uncle, and Margaret the Countess of Julich and Mark. Yet when he realised that he was victorious, he made peace with him as he pleased forgetting that this victory had been obtained by the travail and valour of my said Lord and cousin.

As for honours, I will never deny what I have said already, that the Emperor did greatly honour me, whilst he nourished me and made me [a member] of his Chamber for the space of nine years, and afterwards in my two first wars he gave me charge over all his ordnance companies in these lands. And although I was not then twenty-one years old and moreover absent from the Court at Buren, yet when the Duke of Savoy left on a journey, the Emperor himself chose me as captain general of the army, even though the Lords of the Council and the Queen herself proposed several others whose capacity was very great. These included such veteran knights as my Lords, the Counts of Boussu, Lalaing, Martin van Rossum and the Counts of Aremberg, Meghen and Egmont, who was twelve years older than I. Although no one proposed me, (as they afterwards affirmed to the Emperor) on account of my youth, it nevertheless pleased the Emperor to choose me for the reasons which he then declared and which the Queen of Hungary, prevailing on me to take the command, later informed me, though I would prefer to conceal rather than reveal these for the present lest I might seem overmuch to praise and esteem myself. Furthermore, my Lords, it then pleased the Emperor to summon me from the field, on the occasion when he informed you of his intention to place his kingdoms in the care of the King and it pleased him to honour me still further by refusing to perform this solemn act in my absence, indeed he appeared in your assembly leaning on me by reason of his infirmity, which many at that time considered to be a singular honour for me Although since that time the King has bestowed upon me some honours yet I cannot see that this in any way advances his case because contrary to all right and reason and contrary to his own oath, he has sought to take these from me.

As for the Order since the Emperor and the College of the Knights elected me, I am under no greater obligation to him than to any other of the Knights for he was bound to permit what the College approved. He knows that against his advice and wishes we elected at the last assembly held in these lands several knights by a majority vote and caused them to be admitted. But suppose that I were indebted to him, nevertheless he could not therefore reproach me; on the contrary it is he who has demeaned himself. He took an oath and it is written down in the constitution of the same that the knights of the order should be judged by their peers. Indeed Duke Philip surnamed the Good never had the power to constrain my Lord Jean de Luxembourg to forsake the oath he had made to the King of England; instead he remitted the dispute between himself and the said Lord of Luxembourg to the college of the Knights. But the peers whom the King appointed to try my Lords, the Counts of Egmont and Hoorne, the Marquis of Bergen and de Montigny were base-born persons, rascally lawyers and people of no account. By such too he had me condemned contrary to all legal process about which I have also already protested and exposed the absurdities of this before the whole of Europe. Therefore as he himself has contravened his own oath and the constitution of the College, these reproaches which betray the marks of his broken and violated oath ought in no wise to be heard. And besides, if I should render thanks to any for [admission to] the order, for governorships and other dignities, then it must be to the Emperor, whose wish it was and who had so decreed the same before he departed from the country, having previously known my sense of duty and fidelity, especially on account of my services in the conduct of his army. In this matter my witnesses are my Lord of Nevers, and the late Lord Châtillon, Admiral of France, who later showed that he was tough adversary, yet notwithstanding, they failed (thanks be to God) to gain any advantage over me, while under their noses I built Philippeville and Charlemont and this despite the plague that sorely afflicted our army.

As for the governorship of Burgundy, I can certainly assure you that I have not received any thing except what my forebears have at all times maintained as belonging to them by inheritance. Indeed when my Lord Prince Philibert was away in Italy, his mother Lady Philibert of Luxembourg caused the States of Burgundy to assemble in my town of Nozeroy. And when some thought this inconvenient, because the said town was situated on one of the frontiers of the County [of Franche-Comté], she answered that she intended to maintain the possession of the Lords of the house of Chalon, who were hereditary governors of the county of Burgundy. But whatsoever it be, the King’s conduct toward me clearly shows that he cannot reproach me for these honours which contrary to all codes of honour, he has sought to take from me, including my life and goods, having violently seized my own son, contrary to all law either of God or man, indeed contrary to the privileges of the country which he swore to observe at his state entry

As for the charge of being a councillor of state, I have sufficiently declared in my defence of 156 that the Cardinal and others schemed that I might be called to this post, thereby thinking that they might hide behind my authority with the people. Therefore I should not think myself obliged to them for this, because in doing this they sought not so much my advantage as their own profit. But if their hopes were deceived, they should attribute this either to their own inability to direct their own enterprise wisely or else, which indeed is more plausible (for they did not lack wit), to their wickedness which had become so great, so apparent and so palpable, that no one could endure them and they were therefore cast out of the country, as if they were a venomous poison and indeed a public plague.

[ Orange rebuts the charge of immorality and accuses Philip of incest ]

Now, in as much as they have not only directed themselves against my person, accusing me of ingratitude and disloyalty but, even as rage and madness do indiscriminately bite the whole world, both the innocent and those whom men judge guilty, so has their impudence become so great that they have sought to taint the honour of my wife by the ill-repute which they suppose surrounds my last marriage. I do not know whether I find them more guilty of impudence or sottishness, for these learned men who claim to be such good judges of character do not practise that lesson which is daily recited by the youngest pupils, namely whoever would speak ill of others must be without fault . How impudent and rash are those who know their notable faults yet nevertheless pass over their own thorns and thistles as if they were roses; likewise, how foolish and blockish are those who do not see what is visible every hour before their eyes. Daily they see before them an incestuous king, who is only half a degree from being a Jupiter, who married his own sister Juno Yet they dare to reproach me for a holy, honourable and lawful marriage, made according to God’s Word and celebrated according to the ordinances of the Church of God And here again I am obliged to beseech you, my Lords, not to attribute to me [motives] which you have never witnessed in me, namely that I have been moved by their wicked speeches to expose these detestable scabs and to set before the eyes of the whole world their seared consciences. On the contrary you should blame the rage and desperate madness of the enemies of God, of all Christendom and in particular your enemies who are inflamed against me for no other reason than that they know how solicitously and faithfully I have been concerned for your preservation.

He then who has married his niece dares reproach my marriage, a lawful marriage, I say, and made according to God’s ordinance. The same in order to obtain such a marriage cruelly murdered his wife the daughter and sister of the kings of France (as I understand there is information in France concerning that matter), his lawful wife, the mother of two daughters, the true heirs of Spain. I am sure that the Crown of France (which has previously given the Crown of Castile to a bastard from whom Philip is descended, dispossessing a tyrant, though he were legitimate) shall have no less authority to keep it for the true heirs, if God who is a just judge and never suffers such wickedness to go unpunished, does not avenge it in his life time and deprive him of his estate, as he has most richly deserved, even if he had committed no other crime than this incest, accompanied by so foul a murder. But you will say that he had a dispensation for it. From whom then? The Pope of Rome, who is some sort of god on earth. Certainly that is what I believe for the God in Heaven would never have consented to this. But what was the foundation for this semi-divine dispensation? No doubt that he must not leave so fine a kingdom without an heir.

Mark why there was added to the former horrible faults, a most cruel murder. The father unnaturally murdered his own child and heir so that the Pope might have an opportunity to give a dispensation for so execrable an incest, which was an abomination to God and men. If therefore we declare that we do reject the rule of such an incestuous king, who slew his son and murdered his wife, who can justly accuse us? How many kings have there been who have been banished and driven from their kingdoms who have not committed such execrable crimes? As for Don Carlos, his son, was he not our future Lord and heir presumptive? And if the father could bring against his son charges worthy of death, surely this matter should have been left to us, who had so keen an interest in it, rather than to be judged by three or four friars or Spanish Inquisitors? But it may be that he was uneasy about leaving him as his heir, for he knew he had been born in unlawful marriage, the more so because at the time he intended to marry the Infanta of Portugal, the mother of Don Carlos, he was married to Doña Isabel Osorio, by whom he also had two or three children, of whom the first was named Don Pedro, and the second son Don Bernardino. Ruy Gómez the Prince of Eboli could provide good testimony of this marriage were he alive, for he negotiated it and as a result obtained such prestige and so many possessions in Spain, which they now unkindly wring out of his widow, as if they were squeezing a sponge Now if he conducted himself so well in that supposed marriage, the one he contracted with the daughter of France has not so far been any happier. Besides, having murdered the Queen his wife, he also embellished it with an adultery, excelling all other adulteries. When he slept with the Doña Eufrasia [de Guzmán], who became pregnant as a result, he forced the Prince of Ascoli to marry her, and after some time, the poor Prince (as the ministers of the King’s tyranny say) died of grief because having too strong an adversary, he could not prevent another man’s bastard becoming his heir. But those who speak more certainly about this matter, affirm that he received a morsel easier to swallow than to digest And yet he who is decked with a crown of three such marriages, being I say, himself three times such a husband, dares to upbraid me for my marriage.

But even suppose he were not so defiled and we might consider him as innocent, I am not afraid that he could reproach me with having committed any wrong. Thanks be to God, I have always acted most advisedly and with the counsel of several honourable wise, and discreet persons. Nor need he go to such trouble in a matter which does not concern him and about which I am also not obliged to render any account to him. As for my late wife, her family were princes of very high rank, princes both wise and honourable who I know are certainly completely satisfied in that respect If I wanted to pursue this matter further, I could easily demonstrate to him that the most learned of his doctors would find him in the wrong.

As for the marriage in which I am presently joined, although they eagerly place their trust in the traditions of the Romish church, yet they shall never convince any man in the world that they are more devoted to that Church than my Lord father-in-law, the Lord of Montpensier, who professes his religion not like Cardinal Granvelle and his sort, but as he thinks his conscience bids him. Notwithstanding this, having carefully weighed what is already past and having heard the advice of many leading persons from the Court of the Parlement of Paris, meeting in extraordinary session at Poitiers and having also heard the advice of Bishops and Doctors, he has at last found out the truth. Although a vow had been made on my wife’s behalf, yet it was not legally binding because it had been made when she was under age contrary to the laws and ordinances of France and the decisions of the sovereign courts, indeed contrary to the Canons of the Council of Trent, which my foe esteems so highly Besides, moreover, not only was no such promise ever made but rather several protestations to the contrary as has come to light following thorough investigations made even in the absence of my wife. And even supposing this were not the case, I am sufficiently versed in good doctrine to know that all these bonds of conscience, laid upon us by men, cannot place us under any obligation before God. Nor can that prevent me from remarking that if such a thing were permitted to a Lord of my standing, at the very least the Pope ought to give a dispensation for it. For it is long since, thanks be to God, that I understood just how lucrative is this traffic in dispensations from Rome and I am so unlikely to have recourse to him (who until now has procured against me all the mischief he could) that I sincerely hope that since this good shepherd has done his damnedest to me and to all good people, God will give me grace to promote the destruction of that mystical kingdom which he has set up in his den at Rome, from where he has hitherto ruled over the whole earth, causing Princes and Kings to kiss his slipper and even treading an Emperor underfoot.

[ Orange refutes the Charge of being a Foreigner ]

They also object that I am a foreigner . As if the Prince of Parma were such a fine compatriot, he who was neither born in this country nor possesses hap’orth of land here nor any title; nevertheless he holds absolute command over some foolish persons who obey him as if they were poor slaves. But what do they mean by the term foreigner? Someone born outside the country. He is then as much a foreigner as I, for he was born in Spain, a country which is naturally hostile to the Low Countries, while I was born in Germany, which is by nature well-disposed towards, and has a common border with, this country. They will reply that he is the King to which I counter by saying that I do not recognise the name of ‘King’. He may be a King in Castile, in Aragon, at Naples, in the Indies and wherever he commands according to his pleasure; let him be a King if he pleases in Jerusalem and a pacific Master in Asia and Africa. As for this country I only recognise him as a Duke and a Count, whose power is limited according to our privileges, which he swore to observe at his state entry. As for myself it is well known that I and my predecessors, from whom I am descended in the direct male line, began more than two hundred years ago to possess counties and baronies in the lands of Luxembourg, Brabant, Flanders and Holland. Around 1340 my Lord Count Otto, from whom I am descended in the seventh degree and whose eldest heir I am, married the Countess of Vianden ever since the county of Vianden has remained in our house and we have always enjoyed peaceful possession of it until the King unjustly deprived me of it. Subsequently my Lord Count Engelbrecht I, the grandson of Count Otto, married the Lady of the Lek and Breda from whom I am also descended in the direct male line in the fifth degree. Can I therefore properly be called a foreigner? For the present I will not mention my estates in Burgundy, of which, thanks be to God, I have a fair portion.

I leave it to you, my Lords, who know our laws better than anyone else in the world, to determine whether according to the immemorial customs of our ancestors the Lords of Ravenstein, Luxembourg, Saint Pol, Nevers, Étampes and other lords possessing counties and baronies in this country, were regarded as foreigners and whether you do not still consider as natives all who possess such lordships, if they choose to take this country’s part. Do we not indeed have a specific law among us in Brabant and elsewhere? As for the titles Duke of Brabant, Count of Flanders and others which he bears, I confess that these are great dignities. Yet if he and his Spaniards are ignorant, they should learn that the barons of Brabant, with the good towns of the country, have indeed, when the Dukes of Brabant have so far forgotten themselves and acted unreasonably, taught them how great was the power of the Barons and generally of the States of the country of Brabant. Now it is well known that I am descended from Lords who have been in possession for several centuries principal baronies and lordships in Brabant, Flanders, Holland and Luxembourg. But I hope that my Lords the States have begun to make it abundantly clear to him how signally he has failed in his duty and also that their Lordships will teach him such a lesson that the poor people of Sicily, Calabria, Lombardy, Aragon and Castile will learn by our example that this tyrant should not be suffered on earth and indeed that the poor people of Granada themselves will know how they should treat a tyrant, who during the war with the Moriscos had some hundred merchants living in Granada, all of whom were Christians, imprisoned, the least of whom was worth fifty thousand ducats. Subsequently he had them slaughtered in a riot and put into his coffers all the possessions of these wretched people. In short, my Lords the States will, with God’s help, teach him how one should treat those who perjure the oaths made and given to such a fine people, at their Joyeuse Entrée.

But, my Lords, were I to proceed further and set before you how long ago my predecessors not only sprang from these lands but were also lords and possessed great estates, titles and dignities here, I would tell you that when his predecessors were Counts of Habsburg living in Switzerland, mine had long since been Lords in the country of Gelre: to this day the arms of our house of Nassau have remained as the arms of the Dukes of Gelre. Nor have we held lands in the said country in passing, as it were: ever since my Lord, Count Otto, married the daughter and heiress of the Voogd or Regent of Gelre (as the Lords of Gelre were then called), my predecessors have been Lords, Counts and Dukes of Gelre, from 1039 until 1350, as one can still see from the monuments. This gives me confidence because it is most unlikely that he who calls me a foreigner can show such evidence that he originated from these countries; on the contrary at the said time his ancestors were quite unknown here.

[ The Inclinations of the Spaniards ]

He has been busy making a false, foolish and ridiculous tale, containing according to him, the progress of my enterprise. Some among you were either not old enough to understand when these affairs began or else, because you were not then involved in public affairs, could not appreciate that all things were directed by the crafty Cardinalists and by the advice coming from Spain, which always intended to rule this country, as it had done others — Spain itself being in their opinion the head of [our] lordships, and we their subjects and slaves. I will [therefore] tell you how all things have been directed by those fine wits who suppose that the rest of the world are but beasts when compared with them. We were within a hair’s breadth of being overthrown and falling into a wretched bondage, if God by His providence had not watched over us and delivered us from their cruel counsels and bloody hands. I beseech you, my Lords, as I still here need your patience, to continue to listen as carefully to me, as you have already done. I am certain that those of you who know my demeanour and conduct, in full or in part, or have heard about this from their fathers and other good men, who have witnessed it, will having heard me, readily decide that my words are as true as those of my foes are false and shameless. I will not, however, my Lords, recount anything that I saw in the time of the Emperor. I was aware that the Spaniards had wrought and contrived several matters of which, although I disapproved, yet I did not sufficiently understand that the disease would in due time become so serious that in the end it would be necessary to use a strong and powerful medicine to purge the country of these pernicious Spanish humours. But I did not then know the profound treachery of the Spaniards and their adherents because of my age and inexperience and I could not imagine that we should have to cauterise this Spanish canker or even to cut it out.

But since then, as I grew older, I have also come to a more settled mind; I took the opposite opinion to some who could not believe that the rage and cruelty of the Spaniards could go to such lengths. Although nothing happened which could provide clear evidence of their cruel, covetous and proud dispositions, I assuredly looked out for it a long time before. I will therefore pass over that time, which also cannot in any way compare with the scale of disorder and tyranny which has since occurred in the time of his son, the King, not that the Spaniards were then any better than they are at this present. They furnished unmistakable proof of their perverse nature and cruel disposition in the Indies and in other places, where they are in complete command. But their ambition and pride was in some measure restrained by the good affection that the Emperor bore to the poor subjects of this country and also because these provinces were full of brave lords, wise and valiant men, sensible of their ancient nobility, (would to God they had children like them who served to bridle their insolence and to combat their pride and foolhardiness. I will then come to the time which followed because he who inherited the possessions though not the virtues of the Emperor is the same who comes to attack me in a most barbarous and cruel manner.

[ The Abdication of Charles V 1555 removes a Restraint on Spanish Ambitions ]

The Emperor of most excellent memory and Queen Mary saw that their affairs had gone from bad to worse. The outcome of the wars in Germany was very different from that promised by the Pope and the Spaniards, because the French king entered into an alliance with some of the chief Princes of Germany. As his affairs had come to such a pass, his Majesty was obliged to reach an agreement with his enemy. Despairing of his ability to protect his own countries, he decided to retire to Spain and there to lead a private life, after he had committed all his kingdoms, lands and lordships into the hands of his son. Because of the condition of his own estate and lordships, namely the Low Countries, the King needed to retain the good will and affection of his subjects, (as [his father] had also most expressly bidden him) since the prosperity of the country and the maintenance of his honour wholly depended on their resources and wealth. Yet whether it were by reason of his upbringing in Spain or on the advice of those, who then did and even to this day possess him, he has always cherished in his heart the desire to subject you to a simple and absolute bondage, which they call, complete obedience . They would deprive you altogether of your ancient privileges and liberties treating you, your wives and your children as his officers do the poor Indians, or at the least as they do the inhabitants of Calabria, Sicily, Naples and Milan. They forget that these countries have not been conquered, but have for the most part either been inherited or have willingly yielded themselves up to his predecessors on good conditions. Besides, these lands had served both his father the Emperor and his grandfather the King as the foundation on which was erected the edifice of kingdoms and lordships. On this basis the house of Austria, which is to-day unquestionably the greatest and the mightiest in all Christendom, arose. And this affection was all too manifest in him immediately after the departure of the Emperor, as the Lords that then lived could have sufficiently testified to you had they still been alive. Since he was soon obliged to enter again into war with the French king, he should, considering the power of his enemy and also the wise warnings of the Emperor, at least have maintained his subjects in good devotion, if he had shown but one spark of good and sincere affection towards these countries. But in the midst of his great affairs — such was his boundless desire to play the tyrant — he demonstrated his wicked intention all too clearly and certainly. The Emperor, who my Lords knew better than any Prince or man in the world, the arrogance and pride of the Spaniards, and perhaps also the inclination of the King his son, and on the other side knew the condition of this country and what might destroy or preserve it, earnestly warned his son that, if he did not keep this Spanish pride in check, he could clearly foresee that it would bring about the utter ruin of this state, which could not long endure this arrogant rule which Spaniards exercise wherever they can. And he issued this warning in the presence of the late Lord, the Count of Boussu, whose father recently died myself and several other Lords of his Chamber, some of whom are still alive. But neither the authority and command of his father, the well-being of his own affairs, justice nor his oath (which restrains the most barbarous nations) could in any way moderate his disposition and desire to tyrannise over us, but on the contrary he broke all bonds and gave himself over to all manner of irreconcilable hatred and cruelty, as if he stood above all laws privileges and liberties of the country, even above equity and justice itself.

[ Spanish Mistrust of the Netherlands States ]

At the same time you, my Lords, granted him the subsidy known as the novennale Thanks to this subsidy and to the valour and wise conduct of the lords and nobles of this country and of many brave German lords and soldiers, his affairs prospered so well that having won two battles, taken some towns and captured important prisoners in large numbers, he obliged his enemy to accept a peace as disadvantageous for the French king as it was honourable and beneficial to the King of Spain.

If I am permitted to say something about myself, he could not deny, if he had a single drop of gratitude, that I had been one of the chief instruments and means to achieve for him so excellent and profitable a peace. The King assured me that the greatest service that I could perform for him on this earth was to make a peace at whatever price because he desired to go to Spain. At his urging I treated secretly with my Lords the Constable de Montmorency, and the Marshal Saint-André But far from showing gratitude for this good help and for the happy issue that followed, he and his council made up of Spaniards and certain other persons from this country, who have always hated you, your liberty and the whole country, considered this subsidy to have been an act of high treason for which you had justly incurred (and above all the late Lord de Lalaing sentence of punishment. And for what reason? Because you, my Lords, would not agree to anything without the convocation of the States General, and because you, wanting to pare the claws of these harpies Barlaymont and their like, decreed that the money should be distributed by your commissioners subject to set conditions. Behold indeed two great crimes. The first, to wit, was to demand a meeting of the States, for insofar as it serves as a bit and bridle to tyranny, this is a crime, greatly hated by tyrants, devourers of the people, and enemies of their subjects and their own crown; contrariwise, this noble assembly is cherished, honoured and revered by true kings and true princes and such as are good fathers to their people because it is the true foundation of a state, the assurance of the commonwealth and the only repose of princes. The other crime will never be pardoned for these predators of the people who prey on the blood of the poor, have for so long reckoned on their thefts and rackets that they consider their spoils to be a source of income as legitimate and assured, if much more profitable, as that derived from their fields and gardens. They cover up the true cause of the mischief, hiding it from their princes, and they take refuge in flattery and in telling lies to inflame their hearts against their subjects. I saw, my Lords, their doings, I heard their reports, I was a witness when they passed sentence of death on you all, taking no more heed of you than of animals They would have slaughtered you had they had the power, as they have done in the Indies, where they have miserably put to death more than twenty million people and have laid waste a country thirty times as large as the Low Countries with such horrible excesses that all the barbarities, cruelties and tyrannies which have ever been perpetrated are but sport when compared with what befell those poor Indians. Their own bishops and doctors put it in writing and the history of this was dedicated to the King by one of his own subjects, in whom there remained some sense of justice The King therefore cannot plead any excuse before God and mankind.

From that time, my Lords, I and other nobles and several of the best and wisest both from the nobility and the people, thought it good to bring about the departure of the Spaniards from the country. We reckoned indeed that some corrupt blood in our midst still remained, as we see more than sufficient, (descended from this race infected by the contagion of the fathers), who then served the ambition of the Spaniards and the deceits of the Cardinal but that nevertheless the greater number and all the Lords with the highest standing, would be opposed to this Spanish tyranny. But partly on account of other business and partly by reason of the journey I and some other Lords made in France, where we were sent as hostages and also to attend the wedding of the French King’s daughter, that business was interrupted and its execution hindered. Now far be it from me, my Lords, to deny a great part of that, which is set out against me; on the contrary I reckon it greatly to my credit, and I will tell you more about it than my enemies know. The more that they shall write against me and testify to their rage and their ingrained enmity against this country, the more will I rejoice that God has been pleased to favour me by allowing me to assist in cutting short the course of this insatiable tyranny and by that means also to have been able to help in the introduction of the true Religion.

[ Orange’s Inclination towards the Reformed Religion ]

They say that from the time that the King left these Low Countries, I tried by sinister practices, devices and wiles to win the goodwill of the disaffected, those encumbered by debts, of those who hated justice, of those who were addicted to novelties and especially of those suspected of belonging to the Religion. As for those who profess the Religion, I confess I have never hated them. From my cradle I have been nurtured in it; my Lord father lived and died in it, after he had expelled the abuses of the Church from his lordships. Who will therefore think it strange if this teaching were so engraved in my heart and had put down such roots that in due time it bore fruit? For many years I was brought up in the Emperor’s chamber and when I became old enough to bear arms, I soon found myself preoccupied with important military commands. For these reasons, I say, and for want of a good education in respect of religion, I was then more interested in feats of arms, hunting and the other activities of young nobles than in those things that concern my salvation. Yet I have good cause to thank God that He did not allow this holy seed, which He Himself had planted in me, to be choked. I say moreover that I never took any pleasure in those cruel executions by burning, by the sword and by drowning which were all too commonly used against those of the Religion, as the author or (as he would prefer to call himself) the painter of this infamous ban describes them. Although everywhere else he employs flattery, lies, and slanders, yet here he has spoken very truly when he says that those whom he condemns are of the Religion, since indeed she alone deserves this name by virtue of her excellence; this acknowledgement and this truth has been wrung from his lips because of the great strength and power of its truth.

When I was in France King Henry himself told me that the Duke of Alba was discussing ways to root out all those suspected of being of the Religion in France, in this country and throughout the whole of Christendom The Lord King (who thought that, as I had been one of the Commissioners for the peace treaty and was informed of such matters of state, I therefore also belonged to that party) told me the secret plans of the King of Spain and the Duke of Alba. In order not to fall in the King’s estimation, as one from whom they had wanted to conceal something, I replied in such a way that the Lord King would not lose his opinion of me. This gave him the opportunity to talk to me so that I could grasp the underlying purpose of the Inquisitors. I confess that I was then greatly moved by pity and compassion for so many good people who had been destined for slaughter and generally for this entire country, to which I was so greatly obliged, and to which they intended to introduce an Inquisition worse and crueller than that of Spain. Indeed nets laid were laid to ensnare the nobles of the country as well as the people so that those whom the Spaniards and their accomplices could not trip up in one way, would fall into their hands by another from which it would have been impossible to escape, since one only had to look askance at a statue to be condemned to the fire. When I saw these things, I confess that thenceforth I undertook in earnest to help drive those Spanish vermin from the country Nor do I repent what I have done, indeed I believe that I and the nobles who joined me and all those who supported this most laudable enterprise, performed a deed worthy of immortal praise. This would indeed have been accomplished and we would therefore have achieved the full measure of honour, if we had also shut the door on their heels so that they would never return and found the means to purge the country of them.

And I will tell you yet more, my Lords, and I want the whole council of Spain, indeed the whole world, to hear it. If my brethren and companions of the Order and of the Council of State had preferred to join forces with me rather than to sell themselves so cheaply, then all of us would have used our lives and our property to prevent the Duke of Alba and the Spaniards returning to the country. For the present I am content that they should know that as already one part of the country has been cleansed of this scum, so that there is no memory there except their bones. I will not cease, with God’s help and your favour, (which I hope will never fail me) to employ all my power, together with you my Lords, to purge the whole country in general, of this vermin and to oblige them and all their adherents to return hence across the mountains to trouble their own countries and to allow us to live here in peace and quiet possession of our bodies, property and conscience.

Those who think that I put my hand to this work after their [Spanish soldiers] departure from this country, are therefore very much mistaken. For I set about it then, while I was in France, hunting with the King, when they were yet here and I did not cease until by the mediation of the late Lady of Savoy, of most noble memory I had obtained leave to come again to this country, having faithfully promised to return to Rheims for the coronation of King Francis II. When I came here, I did not importune bankrupts but good and honourable men, the leading and most eminent persons in the country, to urge in the name of the States that the Spaniards should be obliged to retire. This was finally executed and the enemies may recall who those good and honourable personages were who conveyed to them that most unpleasant message. When these shall show themselves, their adversaries shall recognise their shamelessness and calumnies.

[ The Request ]

But as for what they say that I was the principal author of the Request which was presented I will indeed tell you, my Lords, the whole story. Perceiving that the mischief had grown to such an extent, and that it was no longer a question of only burning the poor people, who suffered themselves to be thrown into the fire, but that many of the best nobility and of the chief men among the people muttered about it, I feared some dangerous outcome. France, as I had seen with my own eyes had suffered a dangerous bout of civil war in similar circumstances and I was fearful lest we in this country would be assailed by a like disease which commonly brings very dangerous calamities, themselves more difficult to cure than the disease itself (as alas we see all too well). When, as I say, I saw these things, and being bound on account of my oath and of my duty toward the country, I entreated my Lords, my brethren, and fellow knights and the chief counsellors of state to meet at Hoogstrate with the purpose of setting before them the evident danger facing the country, namely of falling into civil war. There was only one sure way to prevent this: we who by reason of our standing and offices had authority in the country, should take matters into our own hands and employ the remedy which we should find best suited for the country’s good. We should only ensure that the Cardinal’s creatures who wanted nothing but bloodshed, banishments, confiscation of property, in brief, injuries and murders should have no part because they had brought certain ruin on the country. If it came to it, those who disapproved of burning as a matter of course should not lack for a leader, who would want to prevent it. I set out many reasons why they should heed my advice, which was furthermore supplemented by the friendship that existed between us, as well as by the advice received from my Lord, the Count of Schwarzburg, my brother-in-law and from my Lord Georg von Holl who were then highly regarded among the nobles for their signal services to this country. Yet for all my entreaties, I was unable to obtain anything; this meeting brought me no advantage except that it proved to everyone that having foreseen the mischief from afar which we see at present, I had looked for all the good ways to prevent and divert the same. But those of whom I have spoken, found these persecutions hard and saw as long as they endured no assured peace in this country. As always happens in such cases, they looked to hatch new schemes, about which, because of my offices, I found a way of discovering. I confess that I did not think it wrong that the request be presented, for I feared greatly that the outcome might be very dangerous and I judged that this was the most moderate and indeed lawful way. Far be it from me to wish to dissemble what I regard as having been of so beneficial to my honour and reputation and to the service of the King and the country. If the wise counsellors of the King had been so well advised as to agree to this, we would have been spared so many miseries, of which only a few are required to destroy the whole country. But if they will know the true and most immediate cause of the said request and of what followed from it, they should ascribe it to their insatiable cruelty. Not being satisfied with the intolerable rigour of placards, they followed the example of that fool Rehoboam and believed the counsel of an ill-advised woman of a Cardinal who was the creature of the Pope, and other such like; they said: ‘The father chastised with whips and the son will chastise you with scorpions. Immediately they eagerly set out to install the new bishops, chosen a short while before, that is to say, so many executioners to burn poor Christians, while the privileges were trodden underfoot, and by whom? By a distraught woman, armed nevertheless with the mask of regal power, and with the villanies, perjuries and subtleties of a Cardinal. That was, I say, the anvil, my Lords, upon which was forged all the evil that ensued. Nor did they take the correct and necessary measures in response to the request which the nobility presented.

I know this and I can testify before God and before you, my Lords, that I did nothing contrary to my honour and my oath, but I warned the Duchess and all the nobles of the Council about the great misfortunes which have since followed, so that all the mischief must be blamed on them. Rather than heed me, they thought on the contrary that they had found convenient grounds to put into effect what they had long before intended, that is to say, that having destroyed those who were suspected of being of the Religion, they could afterwards more easily bring the rest into a miserable and intolerable bondage. And they were not only warned by me, my Lords; they were also given several other admonitions, both public and private, by both good men and people who loved their country, and indeed loved their King, more than he deserved, and they warned him in good time of the dangers to come and made known the King’s duty which arose from his oath, his obligations and the conditions on which he, and his predecessors before him, had been received as the overlord of these lands.

My Lord, the Count of Egmont himself, was sent to Spain to convey the said admonitions to the King in person. Yet instead of taking any advantage from this, the said Lord Count was on the contrary deceived. He believed the word of a King, which afterwards cost him very dear, and brought letters [whose purport was] clean contrary to what the King with his own mouth had charged him to say, so that he was then obliged to acknowledge that what I had clearly foreseen before his journey would come to pass. And yet these disciples of Machiavelli would here want to dim our eyes with these fine masks of loyalty, fidelity, natural clemency, and other similar golden and specious words, and yet they readily play fast and loose with the oaths they take and with the words they give to men of such countenance. These then are the authors, promotors, and framers of the disturbances that have occurred by reason of the first request and you have heard, my Lords, what counsel I gave in this matter.

As for what they say of the late, my Lord Count Louis my brother they would do better to leave such a fine knight in peace since he was incomparably more honourable than they, indeed beyond comparison, and a better Christian. I take no more account that they call him a heretic than our Lord Jesus Christ did, when people as good as our enemies are, called him a Samaritan.

[ The Preachings and Image-breaking ]

As for the public preaching, which after their manner they call heretical, you yourselves, my Lords, know well enough by whom and how they were introduced. Although I did not at that time have so much credit with them that they would seek my advice, nor indeed did I ever give them advice, nevertheless matters having reached such a pass, I acknowledge that I was of the opinion that the Duchess of Parma should reach an agreement with them. If I gave ill counsel, then subsequent events at least sufficiently demonstrate that those who supposed my counsel to be bad, looked after their Master’s affairs most excellently. In due season God demonstrated that although He afflicts for a time his own children, yet He never fails to punish severely a breach of faith as blatant as that committed by the King and the Duchess of Parma so that everyone may know that He does not speak idly when He says that He will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain

As for the imagebreakers and other disorders, I believe, my Lords, that all of you know well enough that I strongly disapprove of such methods and ways of proceeding. A great many of those who should have assisted and supported me have on the contrary most unjustly torn me to pieces because I would never agree that such things should be done without the authorization of the magistrates.

[ The Reasons why Orange left the Netherlands ]

They are on no stronger ground when they say that the foresight of the Duchess of Parma was so great, that I was forced to leave the country . They would perhaps be closer to the truth, if they mentioned the deceits and perjuries committed by the Duchess, or spoke about the irresolution and excessive credulity of some who awaited their executioners and the excessive affection that I and other nobles showed to the King. We persuaded the Lords Berghes and Montigny to go to Spain supposing that because of their good services and the nobility of their lineage the King would prefer to hear from them in person, rather than from Spaniards, what was necessary for the preservation of the country. But because of the way they had been treated, as everyone knows I thought that I had good reason to look more promptly to my own safety. To my mind, if they spoke of such matters, they would get closer to the truth.

But a year before I had decided to withdraw and to lay down my offices, as appears from letters written in the King’s own hand. These are appended to this present writing and do sufficiently demonstrate the falsehood of their account And if anyone wishes to know why I withdrew to Germany a year later, my defence published in [15]6 does sufficiently declare the reasons for this, to wit, chiefly because I would not agree that the Spanish Inquisition should be received in my govenorships. For this reason I had resigned them before into the hands of the said Duchess, intending to live in peace and tranquillity with my kinsfolk and friends, until it would either please God to give the King better counsel, or that God himself would open a way to deliver this poor country, which I saw plunged into an abyss of evils and miseries. For, who can rehearse without being overcome with grief the banishments, confiscations, imprisonments, afflictions endured and the kinds of horrible and miserable deaths, whereby these bloody people, outdoing in their cruelty Phalaris Busiris Nero Domitian and all tyrants, persecuted the poor subjects of this country?

Despite these things, I bided myself in peace because I saw no way to lessen its misery. And since in this Proscription they say that it [the opportunity to withdraw] was at least offered to me during the last treaty held at Cologne they should acknowledge that they should [have been] satisfied with my voluntary banishment, and not pursued me any further, the more so indeed because I gave them to understand by someone of repute who is still alive, that if they attempted to touch my honour and my possessions, they would oblige me to order my affairs as necessity demanded.

[ Orange’s Justification for Taking up Arms ]

But, like madmen, having failed to trap me with their honeyed words and flattery — the King thinking he could entertain me with his excessively courteous letters, which I nonetheless plainly perceived to be full of deceit — they directed themselves, first to my young son, a child and a scholar, and forcefully removed him from Leuven contrary to the privileges of the University Indeed after the University made a protest that barbarous fellow Varga answered in barbarous Latin, ‘ Non curamus vestros privilegios ‘ They then removed him from Brabant, contrary to the privileges of the province and the King’s oath and sent him to Spain in order to take him away from me, who am his father, and to the present time they detail this innocent in a harsh and cruel prison. If they had done no other injury to me, I should be unworthy not only of my stock and of the name I bear, but also of the name of a father, if I had not used all the wit and means that God had given me, to seek to deliver him from this wretched servitude and to right such a this wrong. For I am not, my Lords, so inhuman as not to feel the affections of a father, nor yet so resigned that the sorrow for the long absence of my son does not often come to mind. And still they were not content: contrary to all forms of justice, they arrested my knight companions they pursued me with summonses and distraint of possessions and in this way forced me to undertake many things, of which I had never thought. Contrary to the articles of the Order and to the King’s oath, who presided over the Order, they put the trial of my companions and myself in the hands of heaven knows what sort of base fellows, who were unfit to serve as pages to my companions and myself. They deprived me of my offices and my goods and they condemned me to death. Does this not release me from my oaths and set me at liberty to proceed to the assault of my foes by all the means that God shall give me? You see then, how when I seek nothing but tranquillity, they stir up trouble, when I seek peace, they provoke me to war. And what sort of a war? A war undertaken to deliver my child, to save my life, to recover my possessions and, what is dearest of all, to defend my honour. And yet, I make no mention here, my Lords, of anything which concerns the common cause.

These then, my Lords, are the matters over which they pass quickly and silently, omitting them on purpose because indeed they do not much help their case. If then, I am not the King’s natural subject (as he himself says); if I am absolved from my oaths by this unjust proscription and decree; if I have such a good grounds to demand forcibly my son and my possessions; if, supposing, I had driven him not only from the Low Countries, but also from all his lands and lordships, and even if I wanted to take these for myself (since against all right and equity, against his own oath, he has forcibly obliged me to undertake so necessary a war, even though with all my power I did avoid it and he committed these outrages against me at the very time, or a little after, when by his own letters written in his own hand, he gave me such great and solemn testimony of faithfulness, so that no one could have wished for more, as appears from the copy of the letter appended hereafter), who can accuse me of any other fault, except that I hesitated too long before taking up arms and did not wish to avail myself of what the laws of war and of nations accorded me, who I say was born a free lord and who has the honour to bear the title of an absolute Prince, even if my principality be not of great size?

But since their chief ground is that I have taken up arms against my superior, I am equally content to proceed in this matter for they shall discover that they have as good grounds here as elsewhere. And in the first place I would gladly have them to tell me by what title King Philip, the heir of the bastard Henry of Castile, came into possession of the kingdom of Castile and of Leon? For it is all too well-known that his predecessor Henry was a bastard, who rebelled against the lawful heir, his own brother and lord whom he also killed by his own hand. What right then had this bastard, the King’s great grandfather? They answer that Don Pedro was a tyrant and indeed they commonly they call him ‘the Cruel’ But if Philip holds Castile by this title, why does he not realise that men may by the same token drive him out as he has chased others away? And if moreover there has never been a crueller tyrant, who has violated the privileges of the country more arrogantly and disrespectfully and who has broken his sworn oath more shamelessly than Philip himself, is he not far less worthy to wear the crown of Castile than Don Pedro? At least Don Pedro did not commit incest, kill his son or murder his wife.

And if some should say that this in no way concerns me, I am content to examine this more closely, although I had not intended to dwell on what I am about to tell you. But suppose I did take up arms against him, and that he were plainly my superior, and that I were born his subject (which is not the case as even he acknowledges), would I not be doing what his predecessor had done, against his superior, the Emperor Adolf of Nassau Anyone who is at all familiar with the affairs of Germany, knows how Albert, the first Duke of Austria, of that name and family (for previously he had borne the title of Count of Habsburg) took up arms against the said Lord Emperor my predecessor. And although it was God’s will that the said Emperor should die in battle, yet I know what the wisest writers thought of it, although Gerard, then archbishop of Mainz, the chief author of that conspiracy, wanted to disguise and conceal it. And in fact, if you wish to look more closely into the history, you shall find that this faction was set up by Pope Boniface (of whom it has been said that intravit ut vulpes, regnavit ut leo, moritur ut canis because the Emperor refused to acknowledge his claims. He therefore incited Albert against him. Albert was already very angry since at the election Adolf had been preferred to him, and some bishops also, who excessively favoured the Pope, joined in support of Albert. But what sort of person would revere a man so wicked that at his Jubilee he had two swords borne in triumph before him and caused the bearer of one to cry out, ‘Christ, behold your Vicar on earth!’ and the other, ‘Peter, behold your successor!’? And indeed after he had committed such a wicked deed against the Emperor, and with Albert devoted to him, he wanted, for the same reason, to deal likewise with the French king, Philip the Fair, and to give his kingdom to the said Albert, whom he had named as King of the Romans and of the French. But he found the French clergy less amenable to him and less powerful. The entire kingdom was aroused by the learned arguments of Master Pierre de Coignières and a resolute King who had his ‘foolishness’ (as the King referred to him in his letters) seized at Anagni, by one of the Lords, the first-born of the noble house of Colonna and by a gentleman from Languedoc, named de Nogaret, who brought him to Rome, where they put him to death, as he had most justly deserved But, as I have said, I do not wish to rest my case on these grounds; I wish to come to the mutual obligations which exist between him and us.

Let us suppose that all this were not so, does he not clearly realise that if he is the Duke of Brabant, then I am one of principal members of Brabant on account of my baronies? Does he not know what his obligations are to me, my brothers and companions, and the good towns of the country? Nor on what terms he holds this state? Does he no longer remember his oath? Or if he does, why does he care so little about what he promised to God and the country and about the conditions attached to his ducal coronet? I need not remind you, my Lords, what he promised us, before we swore to serve him for most of you know it well. But because many others will also see my defence, I would like to place on record the main points of his oath.

You know, my Lords, the obligations which bind him and that he is not free to do what he pleases, as he does in the Indies. Here he may not use force to compel any of his subjects to do anything unless the customs of the local court permit it. Nor can he in any way change the settled order of the country by ordinance or decree. He must live from his ordinary revenues. He may not raise or demand any taxes, without the consent and express agreement of the country [province], in accordance with its privileges; he may not introduce soldiers to the province without the consent of the same; he may not alter the value of the coinage without the permission of the States of the country; he may not arrest any subject until the local magistrate has made a preliminary investigation, nor may he send a prisoner out of the province.

I implore you, my Lords, do you not realize, having only heard this summary, that if the barons and nobles of the country, who by reason of their prerogatives have military commands, did not resist when these clauses were not simply violated, but were tyrannically and haughtily trampled under foot, when not one but all the clauses were broken and corrupted, not once but a million times, not only by the Duke himself but by barbarians, if, I repeat, the nobles did not honour their oath and obligation and did not force the Duke to deal justly with the country, then they themselves should be condemned for their perjury, disloyalty and rebellion against the States of the country. As for me, I have a very particular reason, and one which touches me still more closely. I have been deprived of all my possessions, without any semblance of justice, and contrary to all the privileges. Moreover the fate of my son, the count of Buren, provides the clearest proof of the enemy’s faithlessness and the violation of the privileges. No one can therefore be in any doubt that I have taken up arms lawfully.

What matter if I had little success when I first attempted to set foot in the country, as he upbraids me? Is that such a novelty? Did this not happen to the greatest commanders in the world? Indeed even to him who entered Holland and Zeeland so often with large and powerful armies, only to be shamefully driven forth by a handful of men, aided by, my Lords, the States of these provinces? Did this not befall that great captain, the Duke of Alba and his successor so that he [Philip] now does not hold a single square foot of land in those provinces? I hope, with your assistance, that ere long he will occupy none anywhere in the country.

In short, according to his oath he desires that if it is broken, we should no longer be bound to him, nor need we render him any service or obedience, as appears by the last clause. If I am then not obliged to him, if I no longer owe him any service or obedience, why is he so foolhardy as to say that I have taken up arms against my Lord? Of course, there is a mutual bond between all lords and vassals and people will always esteem the following words of a certain senator to a consul: ‘If you do not consider me as a Senator, I likewise will not consider you as a Consul’. But between vassals there are very great differences and some enjoy incomparably greater liberty than others. In Brabant we have such privileges that we may freely bestow grants in our lands: apart from the homage we owe, we could not have more liberty. Among other rights we have this privilege: we stand in the same relation to our Dukes as the Ephors at Sparta stood to their Kings, that is to keep the kingdom securely in the hand of a good prince, and to bring whoever breaks his oath to his senses

But some will say that there is a condition attached, that is that we shall be absolved from our oath until he has amended the fault But what if he never wants to amend it? What if, after the Emperor Maximilian and the Princes of the Empire have entreated him and interceded on our behalf that he might be willing to spare the country, the sum total of his response is to tell them that they should concentrate on their own affairs and that the King knows well enough how to govern his subjects? What if, after having delivered countless admonitions through the most illustrious nobles in this country, beseeching him to give us justice, he haughtily rejects our requests and puts to death these nobles and delivers whomsoever he can apprehend into the hands of the hangman, and persecutes the remainder by every base and cruel method? What if he brings against us new armies to destroy us utterly? Shall we tarry forever waiting for mercy until the Spanish cruelty shall have deprived us of all hope of respite? But he now desires to amend the fault and he has entrusted the means to the Seigneur de Selles — he has disavowed the Duke of Alba We shall consider all these things in due order. For the present I am content to declare that I have taken up arms against him with good reason, first, with the States of Holland and Zeeland and afterwards with you, my Lords. He has committed perjury against the whole country, and in respect of me, against the articles of the Chapter of the Order, against the privileges of Brabant by abducting my son and taking him to Spain, by depriving me of my possessions and dignities. He has therefore sufficiently absolved me from my oath to him, and has now demonstrated his most base yet tyrannical nature by publishing this cruel and barbaric proscription, which plumbs the depths of all injustice and unworthiness.

[ The Revolt in Holland and Zeeland, 1572-1576 ]

Now, my Lords, since he has decided to cover the subsequent years, I will likewise follow after, and I do so all the more readily because I have done none of the things of which he accuses me without the advice, good will and consent, first, of the States of Holland and Zeeland, and, afterwards, your general agreement. Therefore if any fault has been committed, it should not be imputed to me; on the contrary I should be greatly praised because I have served you so well and so faithfully. I will then turn to the other charges, but I shall do so, my Lords, on this condition that I may, as I have already done, rehearse and plainly set out what he has craftily omitted in order to conceal his wicked and cruel heart, though he never ceases to disseminate these things in defamatory pamphlets.

I have observed, my Lords, that the entire accusation, or rather abuse, which then follows, falls into two parts. The first concerns matters associated with the Duke of Alba’s coming and what followed from this, and especially what was done after my arrival in Holland and Zeeland under my guidance and that of my Lords, the said provincial States. The other concerns what happened when God, following the outrages of the Spaniards, opened your eyes, and you pronounced them and their accomplices to be rebels and enemies of the country in order to deliver this wretched country from this accursed race I shall therefore follow the same order.

First I thank God that, from the very silence of my foes, you my Lords may know, and I hope that the whole world shall know, no one so much as suspects me of having taken a single penny from the public purse for my own benefit. In other things, as you already have begun to see, they have not hesitated to bring forward false accusations and to charge me with what are quite patently slanders. Therefore since they do not reproach me with being in the slightest degree avaricious, they clearly demonstrate not only that I am innocent of this crime, but also that, although my mortal enemies may be shameless, yet they have never dared to reproach me with this offence of which provincial governors are, rightly or not, commonly accused. But, I thank God, that I learned long ago that he who has command must in all things have clean hands, and be indeed beyond all suspicion. For this reason from my youth, I exempted myself from the oversight of finance which others were very pleased to accept. It was not strictly necessary, my Lords, for me to mention these things to you who know that I never handled a penny piece from the public purse. As for what you were pleased to provide me with for my state and for the extraordinary expenses of the wars, you know how little of this I have received and how with such means as remained to me, I have defrayed and sustained many great expenses since I entered your service, which I do not attribute to any lack of goodwill towards me but to the circumstances of the time in which we live. But since I might gain such an advantage from the tacit confession of my enemies, I did not wish to pass this over in silence, [but] to make certain small vipers in our midst understand that they should be ashamed of having spread, either against their conscience or else from their crass stupidity and treachery, accusations which even the sworn enemies of myself and of the country have not been so shameless as to bring against me. They should realise that in putting this forward, the brightness of the truth would uncover their filthy lies.

As they have therefore placed me in such a good position to relate not what I have done, but what the States of Holland and Zeeland have done with my help and service, I do not refuse both before you, my Lords, and before all mankind to take issue with them. But since you are also the sovereign judges of what is done in the country, it is eminently reasonable that you should consider what they have done in all the other provinces, while my Lords of Holland and Zeeland and I served as bridles and hindrances to their enterprises.

First they say that I schemed to return to Holland and Zeeland . Though this were the case, what else should I have done than my duty? And if I had entered the country previously, on such good grounds, as I have previously explained, with an army, why should I have hesitated to enter into what belonged to my governorship and to which I was more sworn and bound and where I occupy the chief rank among the nobility? Yet I had no such intentions; on the contrary I am ready to show the letters from leading citizens in the towns and from other eminent persons who called on me to deliver the country from the tyranny of the Spaniards, and especially that of Alba. And as for the promises that I made when I entered there: what they say, namely, that I promised to maintain the said States if the Duke of Alba should oppress them with the Tenth and Twentieth Penny , shall be found to be quite untrue. But it is true that I did expressly come to the country on the second occasion with an army so that I might deliver it from that oppressive tyranny, not only because of the Tenth Penny, but because of a thousand other sorts of yet more barbaric cruelty and especially on account of the great slaughter which the Duke of Alba then carried out on the poor inhabitants of the said countries.

And as for what they say about my having persecuted the Romanist clergy, driving them from their possessions and introducing the Religion , do I require, my Lords, for this any other defence than that which you yourselves know, to wit that the whole change which followed was rather a work of God, than of men? You know how often people complained that I did not resist the enemy forcefully enough, that I was too long suffering and that I would be the undoing of the country because I was too remiss in driving them forth and rooting them up. And when the question arose whether to destroy some of them, you know the lengths to which I went so that everyone one might live in peace, one with another. But the States, which had at first thought it fit and profitable for the preservation of the country that both Religions should be tolerated, subsequently learned from the arrogance, intrigues and treasons of the enemies in our midst that their state was in danger of inevitable ruin, unless they hindered the exercise of the Roman religion. They realised that those who professed it, at least the priests, had taken an oath to the Pope, (as they do everywhere) which they placed above the oath they had sworn to the country. Consequently at the meeting of the States at Leiden as also in the Union of the provinces of Holland and Zeeland this article was unanimously agreed. Nor can the enemy be ignorant of these things because when during the peace negotiations at Breda the question of religion arose and some of the enemy alleged that this change had been brought about by the actions of certain individuals, they were shown the consent of all the towns with their seals.

What obligation do I now have, when those to whom I had made a promise, not only release me from it but do themselves also cancel, break and annul it? Yet whether I have here done well or ill, I will leave to the judgement of the wise. I will only say this, that when such things were proposed, I desired that they should not push matters too far, and still more, when they put these things into effect. Not only my Lords of Holland and Zeeland will testify to this, but also certain troublesome and wayward persons among us who against all reason have defamed me in foreign countries. I hope, therefore, that I shall not need any great defence against such accusations, which being by me denied as false, as they are indeed, I am not afraid that they shall be able to provide any proof. I leave it to you, my Lords, to judge the foolishness of an accusation that may be repelled with a simple denial. Nevertheless most of the fine colours, which this painter brags he has employed to portray me, can be wiped off with such a sponge. If they allege that notwithstanding those who were driven out, have just occasion to complain because the promise made to them was not kept, I will, although this is not directed against me, nevertheless answer in defence of the States of Holland and Zeeland that this complaint would be very ill-founded. It is not reasonable that such people should enjoy a privilege which they wanted to exploit in order to deliver the country into the hands of the enemy. They intended to betray the lives and the possessions of the subjects, and not merely one, two or three privileges, but all the franchises and liberties, preserved since time out of mind and passed down from age to age by our predecessors and ancestors.

They interject that I introduced freedom of conscience . If they mean by this that I permitted the sort of impieties, which are commonly committed in the Prince of Parma’s house, where atheism and other Roman virtues are forms of recreation, then I reply that it is among the heirs of Lord Pier Luigi Farnes that one must search for such liberty, or rather unbridled licence. But I will certainly confess that I never took any delight in watching the bright fires in which so many poor Christians were tormented, although the Duke of Alba and the Spaniards enjoyed the spectacle, and, furthermore, that I was of the opinion that the persecutions should cease in the Low Countries. I will moreover confess to you, so that my foes may know that they have to do with someone who speaks bluntly and without any pretence, that the King, when he departed from Zeeland, his last stopping place before he left this country, bade me put to death several good people, suspected of being of the Religion. Having no desire to do this, I warned them since I knew that I could not, in good conscience, carry this out and that I would rather obey God than man. Let the Spaniards say what they will, I know that several peoples and nations, as good as they, who have learned that burnings and executions achieve nothing, will praise and approve what I did. But since you, my Lords, together with the universal consent of the people, have since shown your approval by condemning the harshness of the edicts and stopping the cruel executions, I do not care whether the Spaniards and their adherents grumble about it.

But I cannot but be astonished by their stupidity when they shamelessly reproach me for the massacres of the people of their Church for they know that my nature is quite foreign to such violence. Moreover you and everyone else in the world know that on my orders and decree some were put to death for having committed those outrages which they wish to impute to me and that others, persons of rank and noble house, were arrested by the chief servants in my own household; after these had been kept in prison for a long time, they were released from serving their long prison sentences to which they had been deservedly condemned for their crimes, but only out of respect for the family to which they had the honour to belong But what was done on my orders is so well known to everyone that they can neither disguise nor conceal it. Yet they are masters of so telling the truth that when I have behaved virtuously, they say I have been pretending and that I was displeased by what was done. But who told them that I was pretending? Who has revealed to them so many of my secrets? They can see what I have done, but they cannot judge my heart. There is none so malicious, except the begetter of this document or a Spaniard, who would not base his judgement on what he sees rather than on what he maliciously suspects.

They cast countless aspersions on our religion, and they call us ‘heretics’. But they have been endeavouring to prove this for such a long time, and still they have had little success. Their ‘wrongs’, like the words of women spoken in the heat of passion, do not deserve an answer, still less this stupid report that I never trusted any priest or monk unless he were married, and that I forced them to marry . Surely everyone knows that their fury is so great and their passion so boundless that they indiscriminately and imprudently throw at me whatever comes to hand? And even supposing these things were true — though indeed they are neither true nor reasonable (for our Religion teaches us that marriage ought to be free and should be neither forced nor forbidden), nevertheless this fault should not be compared to the tyranny of consciences, which forbids part of Christendom from marrying, a tyranny which is opposed not only by the Eastern Churches but also by the Churches of Germany and France.

[The King’s Responsibility for the Tenth Penny]

But what, my Lords, is to be most esteemed in this Proscription, which is so well grounded in the truth is the statement that the King did not command the Duke of Alba to impose the Tenth and Twentieth Penny, without the consent of the people . If then the Duke of Alba in a matter of such great importance, which caused the death and ruin of so many thousands of people, exceeded his commission, what punishment followed? The Duke of Alba was imprisoned and fell out of favour for having done his own son a good turn. He helped him to marry his niece and to abandon a lady, whom he had misused on the pretext that a marriage had been completed as Ruy Gómez had previously done to the King, as has been stated above. He would not yet have been released but they could not find in the whole of Spain a tyrant better suited than he to tyrannize the Portuguese. He was then punished for a minor offence, yet honoured, cherished and loaded with riches for having committed such a grave offence.

Whoever would charge the King with the death of my Lords Egmont and Hoorne, would say as much, and directly disown the Duke of Alba. Is this not a fine way to exonerate oneself of all offences, at least if they had waited until after the death of this enemy of the world But let them choose which part they will. Either the King ordered it, in which case he cannot avoid the name of a tyrant, or else he did not, yet the same name will remain with him because he did not punish the man who, on his own authority, had tyrannised over a frank and free people, from which it appears that he can be accounted guilty. I have always considered the Duke of Alba to be the enemy of the country, one who delighted to bathe in our blood, and in the blood of all Christians, for a Turkish heart lies deep within him. Yet I have known him too well and am too experienced to believe that he would have been so foolish and presumptuous as to dare to attempt to put an imposition of such consequence, and to proceed with it for such a long time and to go to such extraordinary lengths which were intolerable to the country unless he had received clear orders, not once but on several occasions. I ask you, my Lords, to ponder carefully the great confidence of those who dared to sentence, or look with favour on those who sentenced, the burgomaster of Amsterdam personally to pay a fine of 25,000 guilders because he had resisted the Tenth Penny Did he not have full authority for what he had done from his Superior?

[Spain’s Military Reputation in Question]

We need, my Lords, no other passage than this to recognize the frauds, dissemblings and contrivances which the King has for so long used to lead and deceive us and still intends to do, if we allow him to vex us with his sharp tongue or strike fear by threatening us with his armies. When he boasts about the towns in Holland which he has taken and forced to surrender, to wit in two, three, or four years, claiming that he fought more vigorously than against the Turk, I reply that he should consider whether, having the advantages of which he brags, it is not greatly to his shame that he has been completely driven out of that country. It does him no good here to advance the mutiny of the Spaniards. A Governor, especially one with such great resources as he had, clearly advertises that he is incompetent and unworthy to command, when with such resources he cannot keep his own soldiers in submission. On the other hand, in excusing himself so foolishly, he sees, whether he likes it or not, that he is obliged to confess that I and my Lords of Holland and Zeeland, with only the slenderest of means and four or five thousand men, have broken his attempts and caused him to waste more than sixty thousand lives.

And while, my Lords, he lost time, men and money in this country, he also lost in the space of two months the Kingdom of Tunis and La Goleta with the greatest shame and confusion, that ever befell any mighty Prince, who had been driven from his own lands, although some would lay the blame for this on the youth of Don John and the villany of the Cardinal. While he put his forces here to such ill use, Sinam Bassch took from him that Kingdom and that fortress, which was considered to be impregnable, within sight of Spain and of Sicily without ever anyone on the King’s side, daring so much as to show his head to oppose him or merely to divert his attention. And yet, if he had no regard for the good of Christendom (which indeed he never had, witness his painted league which cost the Venetians so dear) or respect for his own honour, at the least, the memory of his father, the Emperor, (who considered as nothing all his notable deeds and feats of arms in comparison with that conquest) should have aroused and urged him forward with a noble and earnest desire to maintain wisely what his father, the Emperor, had so valiantly conquered for him and for all Christendom. But the rage and fury to destroy us, which so distracted him that he averted his eyes and could not see that evil, also affected his understanding so that he could not discern it. He much preferred to demonstrate his weakness against his own people than to show his might against the common and universal enemy of Christendom.

[ Esteem of States General for Orange refutes Charges in the Proscription ]

This, my Lords, is what he lays to my charge and what also took place before we joined together. It was perhaps not strictly necessary to answer it, though I have not only to satisfy you but also silence them and make everyone aware of their shameless calumnies. This is only a matter which concerns you and those who were formerly on our side but who have since most untimely withdrawn from us. You and those with you have already sufficiently shown that you had a far better opinion of me. In the first place the treaty to which you agreed at Ghent with me and my Lords of Holland and Zeeland has sufficiently cleared my name. If you had believed me to be the person described in this infamous Proscription, you neither would, nor could, have made a treaty with me. Neither would you have subsequently sent so many honourable embassies to me at Geertruidenberg and also to Antwerp to persuade me to enter Brabant and to come to Brussels to help advise you nor would you have wanted to honour me with the title of Lieutenant general All these things, I believe, clearly show your opinion and judgement of all these false and frivolous accusations, which I suppose are so self-evident that I do not need to refute them.

[The Spanish Tyranny 1567-1576]

But let us now consider how haughtily, insolently and with what contempt for our whole nation they governed before that time. I shall not rehearse the perjuries and deceits of the Duchess nor those of the King, in respect of my Lords, the Counts of Egmont and Hoorne, nor the traps set for me, nor in general what occurred before the coming of the Duke of Alba but only what was done afterwards, until the time when we joined together so that the memory of past wrongs and sorrows shall bring pleasure and satisfaction to you and, I hope, to me who gladly assisted you here. In this way you will be more than ever confirmed in your sacred resolve, which deserves everlasting praise, to withstand the Spaniards and their accomplices. Now both the said Duke of Alba and those that served under him and after him, have left us in no doubt as to what has always been the secret purposes of Spain, to wit, to destroy and enslave us. Like Hannibal who when he was but nine years old took an oath on the altar of his gods that he would be a lifelong enemy of the Romans, this Duke of Alba has been nourished and brought up from childhood with an irreconcilable hatred against this country, which no matter how much blood he spilled, could never be satisfied. Even though he caused still more to flow in every town in this country, to the extent of having put to death, as he himself boasted, more than eighteen thousand poor innocents at the hands of the hangman, yet for all that, his cruel lust could never be quenched. Whoever wishes to know the secret purposes of Spain, the King’s pleasure and his great affection towards us, shall find it all deciphered in the bloody deeds of the Duke of Alba, as if it had been set out before his eyes, and depicted in a painting. For he has employed every kind of dissimulation, treachery and perfidy to render the great lords of this country completely subservient to him, making them offers and promises and conferring new titles of honour on them. But those good men whom he could entice, he had cruelly put to death, without regard, either for their innocence or for the privileges of the country and yet nothing was done except on the orders of the King. He did the same in respect of the citizens and good merchants, trampling underfoot so haughtily our liberties and ancient freedoms, indeed all that remained among us of our forebears’ splendour, that it seemed you were not worthy to be reckoned among the number of men. And where can we find a proof more certain, more notorious and more visible, displayed as it were before all Christendom, of his intolerable contempt for all these lands than in that proud, ambitious, profane, heathen and quite ridiculous statue of him erected in the middle of the citadel at Antwerp, brazenly treading on the bellies of my lords the States, and of all the people of this country Was not this a monument to his tyranny and a testimony to his pride? What shall I to say of his servants, and of all that vermin that came out of Spain, who speak of us, not even as vel laco but as brute beasts? You still have ears, my Lords, which they assaulted; you can recall their gestures, their swagger and their presumptuous, proud and contemptuous manner of speech, their intolerable acts, and how insolently they ordered you about when they were in your towns. Therefore if it be true, as the sages say, that in order to discover the nature of a lord, you should examine his friends and family, and likewise a master by his servants, you may, my Lords, judge what good affection the King bears towards you from the merits of the Duke of Alba, his master’s chief minister and the instrument of all his counsels, whom the King sent to torment you. You may also judge what lies in store for you, unless you take steps, as you are in duty bound to do, and as all the good people of this land expect you to do.

I will say nothing of the violations, oppression and exactions committed by the Spaniards; I will only dwell on the principal point. You never could obtain a free assembly of the States General because your enemy knew very well by preventing such an assembly, he could, as it were, pluck up the tree of your privileges by the roots and cause the spring of your liberty to run dry. For what good are privileges on fine parchment in a chest to the people, if those privileges are not maintained by means of the States so that they can feel the effects. And indeed long ago the King obtained a dispensation from the Pope for the oath which he had made to you concerning the maintenance of your privileges. By so doing he not only broke his faith but he also gave credence too lightly and with damaging consequences to foolish advisors and advertised his own great prudence. Could he not understand that if he regarded himself as absolved from the oath, which he had made to you, you were likewise discharged from your oath to him? Since he desired to be released from his oath to you, you owe him neither obedience nor subjection. I may therefore for the present leave to others more experienced in such matters than I to discuss whether or not the Pope may justly brag of having any such power and authority and whether anything in the world shall remain certain and sure, if oaths made so solemnly, can be violated on such a pretext.

At the same time marriages contracted outside the country were completely forbidden. Something which had never been done [before] was prohibited, namely, students were not allowed to attend any university in the world outside the country except in that of Rome. By so doing, they condemned with an excessive arrogance all other universities; without thinking (for they were so careless) they also condemned those of the Jesuits. But what is much worse they showed the way to true barbarism. Whereas the congregation of all manner of learned men has given us in this country several persons of distinction who have greatly ennobled these provinces, this interdiction was bound in time to give rise to a more than Turkish ignorance. I need hardly say that in this way they would subject the country to conditions previously unknown. About the same time the Council of Trent was published, although this Council seemed, even to the French, to be so unjust that to this day it cannot be published in the kingdom of France.

Some time before they had eagerly sought after and obtained the installation of the new bishops This had been previously debated for such a long time on account of the misfortunes which all wise people and those who love their country as well as those who hated the torturing of men’s consciences foresaw must necessarily follow, as I myself wrote to the King, not to mention the warnings that I gave to the Duchess in open council and often elsewhere. This entire project had no other purpose than to establish the cruel Spanish Inquisition and the said bishops as inquisitors, burners of bodies and tyrants over consciences. It is true that now they deny any intention of introducing this accursed Inquisition, but if I produce for them a trustworthy man who was then pensionary of the [Brugse] Vrije and who was twice shown the rack for the purposes of torture that he might reveal who among the Lords of the said Vrije had been inclined to refuse the Inquisition, will they say his testimony has been fabricated Nevertheless he is one to whom they can raise no objections and if necessary, I would find sufficient other clear and most certain proofs. There followed the most rigorous placards accompanied by the order that none of their former severity should be relaxed. Indeed the bull which the Pope sent for the erection of the said bishops specifically states that each bishop might confer two prebends in his own cathedral church, that each of the canons would be obliged to assist him in the matter of the inquisition and that in particular two of them should indeed be inquisitors

When princes or tyrants take possession of new kingdoms and lordships, they place them under tribute as a mark of their victory. In like manner the Duke of Alba, by way of demonstrating his conquest (for such was his manner of speech, to wit, that these countries belonged to the King not by hereditary right but as lands which his armies had conquered), in order, as I say, to advertise to the world the condition to which he had subjected this country, he imposed on the people, by command of his master, perpetual payment of the Tenth Penny, without the consent of either the States or the towns and provinces, and he was determined, with his men, to execute the same by force. When he heard that some brave spirits began to rouse themselves precisely at the very time (you see, my Lords, how great is God’s providence) that he received news of the capture of Den Briel, he had decided to put to death that night the leading citizens of Brussels, because they had opposed this imposition which had been published in violation of their privileges. The executioner, one Master Charles, was ordered to prepare seventeen nooses and ladders ten or twelve feet high and the soldiers were harnessed; Don Fadrique came to the residence of the President Viglius to deliver the order of condemnation, when these happy tidings for the good citizens of Brussels arrived. Among these was the amman ‘s deputy because he had refused to execute those who had resisted. Indeed, the Duke of Alba intended to keep the promise that he had made shortly before: Por estas, si vos no lo hazeis, yo os haré ahorcar. And, on being told, Los juezes son vellacos: basta que yo os lo mando

And I confess that at the same time being again urged both by many good men as well as by my own oath and my sense of duty to the country, I returned a second time with an army. I shall not say anything more about this expedition since all of you know what happened then and repercussions down to present. Now then, my Lords, if you are prepared to consider on the one side what the Duke of Alba had done before this war began, what just causes he gave me and the States of Holland and Zeeland to resort to arms, what he and the Grand Commande did until the day when the Spaniards revolted and rebelled, and how I have since conducted and governed myself, I am willing to be judged and sentenced by you as you find fit. But you have already shown clearly enough what you think by the Pacification of Ghent, by the expulsion of Don John and by so many acts and testimonies that there is no need for more; still more by your refusal to discharge me although I have so often requested this.

[Pacification of Ghent, 1576]

I come then to what they say in their cruel proscription in the second place, to wit, concerning the period after the Spaniards were declared to be rebels and enemies of the country

About that time, my Lords, the Pacification of Ghent was negotiated and concluded to the very great joy and satisfaction of the people and of all the Provinces, both generally and particularly, so that there is no one alive who can recall the like. Everyone can remember the promises of friendship, understanding, mutual consultation contained there. But then what? Those who subsequently clearly revealed the inveterate hatred of their heart, although they took part with those who negotiated with my deputies and those of Holland and Zeeland, placed every possible obstacle in the way during the discussions in an endeavour to nip it in the bud. Without doubt they would have succeeded, if they had not been afraid of falling into danger and if the people and all the provinces, who sensed and anticipated from afar that this Pacification should be the foundation of their liberty and bring the restoration of their ancient privileges, had not, as it were with one voice, forced them to conclude it. Since, my Lords, in their execrable Proscription and in their foolish defamatory pamphlets and clandestine letters, they often reproach me with having violated it [the Pacification], let us see how well they have kept it for their part.

It was no sooner confirmed by oath than the Lord of Haussy made at your command several journeys to see me in Zeeland to obtain military assistance and munitions of war for the siege of the castle at Ghent, one of the nests of the Spanish tyranny, and this he duly received. But a certain fellow, a disgrace to his family and his country, could not contain himself; at the same time he began to spew out his venom, rebuking the said Lord as a reward for such a fine service, which was also the very gateway to the liberty of the country and the county of Flanders, in particular of the town of Ghent, which had been kept under by tyranny for such a long time. The said Sweveghen the Count of Roeulx Mouscro and others did not care whether the Spaniards, still all gory from the massacre at Antwerp and laden with the spoils of good citizens, carried out in the town of Ghent an act like that which they had committed in the most renowned town of Antwerp, which they would have done (as the letters of Roda and others testify), if the said assistance had not forestalled this. Mark how even as the trumpet sounded to proclaim the Pacification of Ghent, these honourable men began to break it.

[Don John of Austria]

Immediately afterwards Don John arrived, and although my foe would here falsify and alter the record, I still possess the letters signed by the King himself and by one of the secretaries of state and sealed with his arms which reliably attest to the commission given to Don John. Have these not been published to the whole world? Are there still Spaniards so shameless that they would dare to dispute these? From these we knew that the only difference between Don John, the Duke of Alba and Luís de Requesens was that the first was younger and more foolish than the others, and could not for so long conceal his venom, dissemble his business and restrain his burning desire to wash his hands in our blood. I will not, my Lords, rehearse these matters to you here, for even small children know their contents and the whole earth has been apprised. These matters were set out before the whole world and the appeaser knew and understood the same. Yet such was their inveterate hatred towards this poor people, so accustomed were they to assist those who oppressed your privileges, and so inclined by nature to submit to tyranny that, like wild boars foaming with rage, they impaled themselves on the javelin of the cruel heart of Don John. Against my advice and that of Holland and Zeeland and against their oath taken at the Pacification of Ghent they came to an agreement with him And yet these men dare to hold forth about the Pacification and my oath, as though those chains had only been prepared to shackle me and my Lords of Holland and Zeeland, whereas those fine and loyal peacemakers, having broken every bond of law, loyalty and fidelity, would have a licence to do, commit and perpetrate whatever entered their disloyal hearts. They will say that they caused Don John to promise that the Spaniards should depart, as though our entire agreement and alliance had consisted in that one point. But before they had reached a conclusion with Don John, should they not have given me back my governorships, put me in possession of my property and restored my son, who was one of the prisoners, to me? Did they once think of it, although several of them are his kinsmen? Not for one moment, for they had a quite different objective, which they did clearly declare by all the deliberations they entered into so that they might find a way to oppress me and to bring Holland and Zeeland to submit. They knew that I was then still the only person, with the States of these countries, who did openly hinder their pernicious purposes. They intended to take the place of the Spaniards and to exercise the same tyranny as the Spaniards but yet, as they thought, with more power and authority and also, because they were in their own lands, with more impunity. On this matter, I refer to the instructions, given to those who came to negotiate with me at Geertruidenberg, which I will produce if need be. At the same time they addressed the Queen of England, feeding her with all manner of false stories to persuade her to take up arms against me and my Lords, the States of Holland and Zeeland, but her acquaintance with the truth and the singular wisdom, with which she is endowed, caused her to take a decision clean contrary to that for which they had hoped. To be short, they schemed as best they could to put into operation again the same practices as the Spaniards. You see, my Lords, how well they observed the Pacification of Ghent from the beginning.

And as for the Spaniards whom Don John had told them he had sent away, they saw (at the least if they had a scintilla of intelligence, for there was no lack of warnings) that some disported themselves in Luxembourg, others in Burgundy, and yet others in France, on the pretext of the civil war, which had resumed there, and were only waiting for the word to return immediately, as indeed they did. Besides, they knew Don John retained fourteen thousand Germans, from the former companies, which he kept in garrisons, in the chief towns of the country; that at Mechelen, he treated with the said Germans; that he said one thing to them, and quite another to you my Lords; that he tried to wrest the castle of Antwerp from the power of the Duke of Aarschot and his son, the Prince of Chimay, and hand it over to Treslong They saw, I say, these things, yet they neverthess assisted and supported him there and still they will say that they kept the Pacification of Ghent. As for what my enemies say about Don John having sworn [to keep] it, I acknowledge moreover that the King himself promised to observe it, which serves the more to convict him, for at the selfsame time, as appears from his letters, he ordered Don John to break it.

As for Don John, it is true that he promised on oath to keep it. But he made one condition, of which he had previously spoken in the presence even of some of your deputies, that should be added, to wit, until such time, as he repented having done so, and this condition was fulfilled soon afterwards. For this young fellow, supposing he had things under control and was master of the best towns (thanks to the garrisons of Germans and many traitors to their country), seized the Castle of Namur (in so doing shamefully insulting the Queen of Navarre for he thought it was convenient, indeed essential, for the return of the Spaniards. But when the castle of Antwerp was surrendered to you, he found that he had badly miscalculated and this caused him for a time to lose many friends, who immediately began to change their tune. As a result Don John was so perplexed that he had no choice but, having corrupted some of your own deputies, to play for time and to entertain you with a feigned hope of peace. I would to God that those fine observers of the Pacification of Ghent had not then hindered you, my Lords, from trusting my counsel, for with a very small army we might have been rid of Don John, his Spaniards and adherents, and of the many miseries which subsequently followed.

At this point I would like to know, my Lords, whether Don John did then keep this Pacification and his Union which he had made with these Spaniolized persons and to which (according to them) he had taken such a solemn oath. Why should he come to reproach me with the Pacification of Ghent, he who, in the person of the Lord of Selles, announced to us that he would not keep it? Shall he enjoy a privilege, at my expense, which he himself renounces? And when all is said and done, I and the States of Holland and Zeeland did not enter into a contract with him, but with you, my Lords. Who could blame you, my Lords, if, after so many breaches of the Pacification, and that in so many ways, and after they have destroyed, contrary to the said Pacification, the towns, where they could exercise their tyrannical rule, and ruined their leading citizens, against whom they alleged false and wicked things, you judged that for your own safety, you needed to amplify or change some of the articles, indeed if you were minded to break them completely, rescind and revoke them? Who could blame you, if you have used what was yours as you thought convenient for your own profit? Only he who would use his oath as a net to catch you. As for what they say that the change has been made on my behalf, even were that true, yet I am no more bound in respect of those of who entered into a contract with me because they have broken it in so many ways. Since you, on your side, thought it convenient that the change should be made, you have as much authority and power to arrange this, as a Lord has the right by inheritance, for the Pacification was yours, and you could use it as you pleased.

But it has been been demonstrated so often, both by word of mouth and in writing, that nothing was violated there; therefore I do not need to spend more time setting this before you. I will only acknowledge that the inhabitants of Holland and Zeeland were indeed forbidden to make any changes in these provinces. But you will not find there any obligation which prevented the other States from providing within their own provinces by one means or other for their own security, as you can plainly see and understand by reading articles eleven and twelve Indeed during the drafting of the said Pacification, one of the deputies on our side did declare to one of the chief persons on the other side that some such matter might arise and that it would therefore be better to concede some liberty to the subjects of the provinces on whose behalf they negotiated. To which he received the reply that he did not need to worry about such matters and that the inhabitants of Brabant, Flanders and the other provinces would never demand a change in the matter of Religion. Now if they have been deceived why do they round on me so furiously? I also give them the same answer concerning the change [of religion] which occurred in certain towns in my governorships. For I can solemnly affirm before God that I have given neither advice nor consent to this and that many things occurred there, as likewise in Flanders, which displeased me greatly. But I do maintain against them that if some [of our] soldiers behaved insolently, such acts pale into insignificance beside the intolerable excesses they have committed. At least there has been no disloyalty, no treason and no intelligence with the Spaniards on our part, unlike our enemies. Did they not, contrary to their protestations of good faith and their promise, begin to wage open war, and attack their allies, when we were within two days of joining battle with our enemies? Did they not seek to execute their plot and conspiracy against their allies? Did they not defect at that time when the good town of Maastricht was under siege Is not this the most vile act in the world? While you relied on the might of your allies to relieve an important town under siege, with which they had entered into a sworn league and of which they could not in any way, rightly or wrongly, complain, even then I say, did they not only forsake you; they also waged war, as fiercely as they could, against you. We are told that Suffetius was pulled asunder by four horses because he did not intervene but merely watched while his ally Tullus Hostilius was fighting What gibbets, what sorts of retribution can anyone devise which are sufficient to punish such disloyalty and treason? And who are the guilty men? The same, my Lords, who previously had laid hands on the Count of Mansfeld Viglius, Fonck Assonleville Berty and others of the Council of State At this time I was not so closely bound to them, as I have since been, for I had not yet gone to Brabant. By making these arrests, these men, I say, had let the whole world know what they thought of the King and his Council.

I leave it to you, my Lords, to judge the great discernment of those who could not foresee that while we were waging war, they were sharpening the swords of those whom they had imprisoned in order to cut off their own heads. They will say that I have not restrained those on our side, who went beyond the limits. In fact I have not approved the excesses of any, but do they think that I am so careless that in order to please them I should lay the country open to destruction and make a prophet of Escovedo Have they ever heard of a wise father who sought the downfall of his own children to please his foes? It is his duty to correct their faults and, by remedying these to preserve his household. But are Bours Montign and others ignorant of my endeavours to establish everything in good order? Have they forgotten the Articles agreed upon, articles they had demanded and which they have since violated contrary to their oath? It was then rage, folly, ambition, hatred of the Religion and the desire to govern that possessed them, tossing them about madly. These were their original motives, which they have since concealed under the cloak of the Pacification of Ghent. For I know, my Lords, the trouble they took to lend colour to their enterprise, and that a mere captain where they were taking counsel opened the way which they promptly followed.

[The Malcontents]

I know many will find it strange that the offspring of good houses and the sons of such fathers should have so far forgotten themselves, as to heap up such reproaches on their own family, and some will think it incredible that they had the capacity to be so fickle. For my part I cannot but grieve because of my close friendship with their fathers whom I honoured and because of my desire to see them grow in every virtue, honour and reputation (which they could have attained, if only they had learned to be patient for a short while and borne some part of the misery of their fatherland) and I still wish that they might be so wise as to atone for their past errors by a good repentance. But in order not to speak too much about their private actions, which have not been revealed to all the world even though these are filled with fickleness, if we only consider what everyone knows and has been set before the eyes of the entire world, who cannot but be astonished at the inconstancy and vanity of their purposes? They served the Duke of Alba and the Commendador Mayor like pages and they fought against me tooth and nail; shortly afterwards they treated with me and became reconciled and, behold, they were the enemies of the Spaniard. Don John came: they followed him, they served him and they plotted my downfall. Don John failed in his attempt on the castle at Antwerp; they forsook him immediately and they called me. I was no sooner come, than contrary to their oath and without conferring either with you, my Lords, or with me, they called my Lord, the Archduke Matthias. When he came, they saw that they could not achieve their aim; they left him and, without warning, they went in search of my Lord, the Duke of Anjou; they fetched him, they promised him wonderful things. When they saw they could not bring him to this point, namely that he might lead them against you, my Lords, and those of the Religion, they forsook him and joined the Prince of Parma. Are the waves of the ocean more fickle, Euripus more uncertain than the counsels of such men, who suppose themselves to be so superior, so elevated and so assured that they can play the fool in this way with great princes? If then they have done such things, which everyone knows about, you may be assured that there is nothing so slight and trifling but they will attempt it. And what could they have done that is more heinous than to have consented to this base Proscription, which has been raised against the head of him who has stood surety for theirs and has caused their possessions to be restored to the chief among them? And believe me, my Lords, this is not the end. For, if they should quickly acknowledge this (as I would wish), you shall still see them change horse and saddle more than ten times before this affair is unravelled.

[Orange’s Conduct as Governor of Brabant]

As for their charge, that I had myself chosen Governor of Brabant by force and tumult , you, my Lords, will remember that I never spoke to you nor did I in any way entreat you about this matter. On the contrary you will remember how strongly I resisted and protested against it. Even in respect of the office of Lieutenant general, I wanted to have the advice and consent of the captains in the army, which was very soon afterwards routed (I will not say now who was to blame); they sent it to me and I have it still, signed in their own hand. If some people promoted this choice, although it was not at my entreaty or instigation, yet I am bound to acknowledge that they were wiser and more prescient in the affairs of this country, than I was at that time. For they well understood that if they should leave the management of affairs and the administration of the state in the hands of these Spaniolized persons, it would like building a great edifice on quick and unstable sands. There is as much truth in this allegation as when they say that I owed my election as Governor of Flanders to the mob. It betrays a profound ignorance of our affairs because the Four Member chose me, not once, but many times, and not only while the disturbances lasted; since things have quietened down, they have often eagerly taken this up, both with you and with me and yet so far I have refused to accept it.

I also do not think, my Lords, it is reasonable that I should reply about the money raised by you and which has been administered in accordance with your advice and under your authority and managed by your treasurers, commissioners, and receivers, without either I, or any of mine, ever having seen a penny of it. But if anyone should be blamed for it, is it not the enemy who forced you to find the means to defend yourselves? And if he lays such great and excessive charges to cause mischief, exercise tyranny and oppress your liberty, why should you not make some charges for good purposes in order to restrain the tyrant and to preserve your privileges and priceless liberty? If it were a question of giving everything we have, down to the last farthing, to the last drop of our blood, what should we do except that which we are bound and obliged to do? The ancient histories both of strangers and of our brave and valiant forebears and ancestors provide us with so many fitting examples. But we are far from the point where we should have cease our struggle; on the contrary, since we see what vexes them, we must strive to make that the focus of our endeavours.

As for his allegation that I have had some of those who opposed these contributions imprisoned and others put to death , I do not believe it is necessary to answer them in your presence. You, my Lords, will recognise that these are manifest slanders and know that I have been more blamed for my excessive gentleness and patience in tolerating many wicked spirits, who hindered our affairs with their subtleties and secret conspiracies, than I have been accused of harshness by my enemies. But if these accusations were true, many of those who now speak so loudly should have had their vocal chords cut. Nevertheless I do not as yet repent that I have treated them in this way. I will always be glad that I have been more inclined to accept, than to do, wrong, for I am certain that God, who is a just Judge, will bring upon the heads of these traitorous and disloyal people, who broke break bread with us and sat in our councils and yet are now in their council chambers, the wages of their wickedness. Already vengeance pursues them for their minds are perpetually agitated and distracted.

As for the business which the Baron de Selles undertook, this was known to be full of trickery and deceits This accusation is, I say, addressed to you, my Lords, who have so wisely exposed his wiles and who made him understand that those who have not seen Spain are not therefore the beasts that he and those like him suppose. I confess that like you, I considered he was no more to be trusted than a cozener and deceiver and treated as an instrument chosen to sow dissension everywhere, of which he himself did more than anyone to convince me. He told me that I was so much in the King’s favour, that no nobleman in these countries stood higher in his opinion than me and no one whom he more wished to employ. This made me think more and more that they would certainly have had my head, if I had accepted the deal into which this Spaniolized fellow wanted to persuade me so I I was of the very same opinion as you. You have very sensibly resolved, namely, to close your ears to these Spanish Sirens, following the example of that wise chief But what if this was my opinion? Did those wretches who have consented to this accursed proscription not also resist as well as I? Did those selfsame magistrates, who have had this Proscription published, not also reject the Baron de Selles and all his rigmaroles?

This sufficiently answers what they have to say concerning the replacing of Catholic officers . Would to God that I had had the power, or that I had not been hindered by the hastiness of some from carrying out such changes everywhere. There would not have followed such a flood of evils as we have seen on account of the division of the provinces, which it is to be feared will daily increase and lead to the general downfall of the country. At the very least I hope that if those Provinces, which have so cravenly forsaken us, do not repent so great an offence, they shall realise that no one has ever been more justly punished for wicked counsel than those who first gave it. On this score, I will not labour to answer this calumny that I have given charge to the said officers on my own private authority , since wherever I have assisted in changing the magistracy I have only discharged that office, which you have seen fit to give me, and as your commissioner and deputy, and I have done nothing there contrary to the laws and privileges. I certainly will acknowledge that I sought as far as was possible to introduce men of virtue, honour and good conscience, and especially men who love their country. But I know very well why they are vexed; I did not readily favour those who belonged to their faction, men without credit, without piety toward their country, cruel men and slaves of the tyrant. This is what, my Lords, these men call confusion, to wit the government of our commonwealth, according to our laws, which are as contrary to their barbarous purposes as day is to night. Indeed, my Lords, we have no great need to answer such reproaches when our own enemies furnish a sufficient answer. For who were these officers, of whom they say we have discharged ourselves? They were (they say) well-affected to the King , that is to say they were true enemies of their country, and therefore, my Lords, you understand that it was very proper to replace them in many places.

They upbraid me for having great credit among the people . Far from being ashamed of this, I regret that I did not have more, I mean that I did not sufficiently know how to persuade them to do what I repeatedly urged them by word of mouth and in writing. Had I done so, I would long ago, with God’s help, have cleansed the country of this Spanish filth. But if they are as they say they are, and I am as they describe me (to please them I will grant them this), they will have to acknowledge that their tyrannies and cruelty have been outrageous in every respect because they have incurred universal hatred from all those who were previously so well affected and faithful to their predecessors and to themselves before they committed such excesses. If, on the contrary, the people have freely chosen me to defend their liberty, what else can you say, what else can foreign nations and posterity say except that the people saw in me something worthy of their favour and friendship and in them something worthy of their extreme hatred? I therefore admit that I am, and will be throughout my life popular because I will seek, maintain and defend your liberty and your privileges. You see how these geniuses lack any common sense; when they suppose they are blaming me, in fact they are praising me.

Indeed when five or six ill-advised fellows, who are the enemies of your liberty, put their heads together, their counsels, thoughts and secret purposes are all directed at finding ways of subjecting you to their tyranny which would be more cruel or at least more unworthy and slavish than the Spanish tyranny has been. These men measure the intelligence of all the world by the yardstick of their own wit and suppose everyone will condemn as evil, whatever they judge to be so. But when the whole matter is weighed on the common scales, they shall find that they have seriously miscalculated. As a result of their folly, the man whom they judge unworthy to live to serve the common good (for what else is this other thing, the public good than the good of the people?), the same is honoured all the more. The people will esteem more highly he who seeks to defend the commonweal than he who would oppress it.

I am also amazed they have here forgotten what so many malicious and petty scribblers have forged in their foolish defamatory pamphlets, namely, that I hate the nobility. Shall I begin by hating myself, my own kinsmen and friends, who are (thanks be to God) all descended from a noble and illustrious lineage which is of such antiquity, wealth and rank that I can boldly state that many of my enemies cannot rightfully compare themselves with us and few among them can match us? Experience can also show whether or not I have done everything in my powers to advance the nobility. If I foresaw long ago that certain ambitious individuals, who have long since forsaken us, wanted to seize governorships and offices in order they might afterwards abandon their country and betray their oath and if, I say, I knew their frivolity, vanity and inconstancy and their natural disposition towards tyranny and for that reason did not wish to favour them and consequently helped to preserve the better, greater and sounder part of our state, all that does not mean that I hated or despised the nobility, but rather that I wished by good counsel above all to prevent the downfall of the country which might have followed. Their fathers, with whom I lived in good amity, were wiser, more valiant and virtuous than they. If they had still been alive, I tell you they would have died of shame, to see their lineage decline from the constancy and virtue of their forebears, who lived honourably and irreproachably. I tell you they are now regarded in every province as vacillators and great fortune-seekers. Even the Spaniards, whom they serve, and the Cardinal, who is the spindle on which their mill turns, play ball with them as if they were children. They lead them by the nose like animals and amuse them until it is time to recall the statues, instruments, tapestries and other furnishings which they have stolen and fatten them up ready to be led away to the slaughterhouse. All this appears from their own letters written in their own hand, which you, my Lords, have seen and acknowledged.

[Negotiations at Cologne, 1579]

And my enemy, as if distrusting his own authority and doubting whether the weight of his own titles would be sufficient to crush me, goes still further. He wants to add to those the authority of the Emperor and of certain Lords, the ecclesiastical Electors. He says that they had proposed such articles that everyone of good judgement judged them to be entirely sufficient He could not, in a word, my Lords, speak better than you — what am I saying? — than all the inhabitants of these lands who unanimously refused the said articles as impertinent, captious, and unreasonable, indeed as being void of judgement and reason. But who do they think they are fooling? Would a people battered by such long war (which necessarily brings in its wake a hundred thousand discomforts) refuse a peace, if it were reasonable? Or that good, indeed very good and long-suffering subjects would refuse to reach agreement with their superior, if they did not see that such agreements were lures to catch them unawares? Or that such a peace was worse then war? Or that such honeyed language was more to be feared than the swords of tempered steel? It may be, that the Emperor, who considers such a condition and state as proper in his hereditary lands, believes it should also be proper here. The Emperor was told about our state by our enemies, by the traitors among us, who under the pretext of an embassy to Cologne, tried to overthrow your affairs. The Emperor informed other Princes, who trusted his report, believing that what came from this source, came as from an oracle. But you, my Lords, who thoroughly know the state of these provinces, the advantages and the drawbacks, the true causes for its maintenance or its overthrow, you who have so much at stake there and who are obliged by all laws to preserve the same, judged differently. Everyone has been consulted about it and the people has with one voice rejected those terms as most unreasonable, and this was the opinion not of one single town, but of them all. Certainly we have petitioned his Imperial Majesty, the King the France, the Queen of England and the King of Portugal to intercede on our behalf so that we might be granted a good peace, but we do not suppose any wise man would think we should accept this one, which implies we had submitted ourselves to them.

And as for the prohibition they say was placed on the publication of the said Articles , your patience and mildness ought greatly to be praised because you did not punish in an exemplary way those who were rash enough to publish the same without your leave. Far from being afraid that these would be communicated and spread abroad, we had them published together with a declaration as to their worthlessness, and distributed to all the provinces and towns for deliberation in order that the advice and resolution of all might be obtained, and you have given it unanimously Besides, there is a world of difference when something is published in due order through the proper channels and on the authority of those who have the power so to do and when certain petty spies stealthily disseminate pamphlets among the people, [especially] when some of these who had been sent to Cologne in your service put about in an underhand manner what they had negotiated with the enemy. In so doing they betrayed both you and the country as their own letters amply testify. I will not speak more about these because it has been fully exposed and brought to the notice of everyone.

[The Union of Utrecht]

They consider the union of the Provinces, made at Utrecht, exceedingly wicked For what reasons? Because whatever is good for us is evil to them and whatever is salutary for us strikes them as deadly. They had pinned all their hope upon disunity and they have meddled in some provinces, which have received as many counsels, as there are months in a year and they had at their command certain venemous fellows in our midst. What better remedy could be devised against disunity than this union? What antidote could be more effective against their poison of discord than concord? By this means their designs, their webs of intrigue, dark counsels and secret intelligences were in a trice dissipated, revealing how much God, who is the God of peace and concord, hated those deceitful tongues and how easily He can overthrow such false and abominable enterprises. You see, my Lords, what a fine target I offer for their ranting and raving. I admit to them that I procured the Union, that I promoted it and that I endeavoured to maintain it and I say to you, my Lords, again and I say it loudly that I am content that not only they but also the whole of Europe should hear it Maintain your union, keep your union, but see that you do this, my Lords, not by word of mouth or writing but that indeed you live up to that sheaf of arrows tied by a single band which you bear in your seal Let them go now and accuse me of having brought all to confusion, when I procured the union, for I shall never be ashamed of what I did. Since on the pretext of a peace, they would intrigue to divide us, assembling on one occasion at Arras, on another at Mons, always giving us fair words, to the end that they might break away from us and so draw to their side fickle spirits like themselves, why should it not be lawful for us to unite and tie ourselves together? Perhaps they imagine they are permitted to do evil and to abandon the country — as they did when Maastricht was being besieged (when you read this will you wretched people not feel the hot iron sear your conscience? — but that it is not lawful for us to do good and to defend the country. Let us then here, my Lords, learn what is profitable and necessary, taking our lesson from the greatest enemy that the country has ever had, indeed from the greatest tyrant on earth.

They accuse me next of a horrible crime which deserves this Proscription which exceeds that pronounced against Sulla and Carbo namely that I did not leave Antwerp for two years and that I went to Utrecht. It is good to see how well they know what I do, as if, to their very great sorrow, I had not been twice during these two years to Flanders, where with the help of the Four Members I placed better order in the said province than they would have wished. Well now, let us grant that for two years I did not leave Antwerp: was it not a great crime that I should be always close to you in order to serve you in whatever way it pleased you to command? But I went to Utrecht. You see, my Lords, the evil, you see the festering sore, for this is the journey that cuts them to the quick. They had already laid their plans so wisely; they had laid such a sure foundation for their affairs; they were so pleased about it; they wrote about it to their friends; they held in their hands so many provinces and governorships; they had written so many letters, put forward so many schemes. Yet I only had to show myself at Utrecht and, with the good assistance and counsel of my Lords, the Deputies of the Provinces, behold that thick fog dispersed. So many of the citadels they had marked out for their tyranny were overthrown and so many of our own towns secured that only one important town was left to them. Here lay the leader of the enterprise and he knew no other way to secure its loyalty than by abominably murdering the man whom he called his father and who had sat at his table the previous evening when Judaslike he kissed him falsely You see, my Lords, what makes them cry so loudly; that is the Helen for whom they fight.

[ Developments in 1580 ]

And as for their accusation that I have driven out certain churchmen , you know, my Lords, that this is not true. Their leader who was in Groningen had imprisoned those of the Religion, slaughtering some, including the burgomaster himself This was clean contrary to his oath, for he had previously introduced and sworn to uphold the Religievrede [Religious Peace], having solemnly confirmed by his oath and signature the Union of Utrecht. Who would think it strange, if those on our side wished for their part to feel secure? They saw their enemies, without any regard for their oath, trampling underfoot whatever was holy and sacred, after they had, to the eternal disgrace of themselves and their lineage, violated what justice and equity there remained in this world. At least no one can accuse us in the midst of those troubles, which our enemies themselves stirred up, of stooping to the depths of injustice as their leaders have done who dipped their very own hands in the blood of their confederates and of those whom they had assured of their loyalty.

As for the Nobles, which he says have been removed from the country , who ever drove out a single one? But if the terrors of their own consciences have pursued them, if they have been vexed by their own feeling and hounded from place to place like the infernal Furies, who should be blamed but they themselves who have disloyally plotted the downfall of their own country? Would to God that they had sooner found this gateway and that those who remain smitten with the same madness might follow at their heels. They would deliver us from great travail and the commonwealth from the fear that some day or other they would execute their pernicious purposes.

[ Orange refutes the Charge of Hypocrisy ]

It is ridiculous to call me who never hid my opinions about them a hypocrite . For while I was their friend, I openly warned them that, by adopting the barbarous policy of persecution, they were spinning the thread of their own destruction. If their rage and unrestrained passion combined with contempt for us had not prevented them from following my advice, they would not have been brought to that state, in which they now find themselves. When I became their adversary and enemy for the sake of your liberty, I do not know what hypocrisy they found in me, unless they will call it ‘hypocrisy’ to make open war on them, to take towns from them, to drive them out of the country and, without dissembling, to take such measures against them as the laws of war permitted me. But, if it please you, my Lords, to read again my defence, which I published thirteen years ago you shall see there the letters of a deceitful and hypocritical King, who then thought to entrap me in the snares of his sweet and deceptive letters, as he now supposes to overawe me with his threats and thunderous words. But, thanks to God, I have an antidote against both these poisons.

They then proceed with a great heap of foolish words to amplify the charge that I am consumed by distrust . Were this so, should I therefore be compared to Cain and Judas as he accuses me? It is one thing to distrust the promises and the grace of God, who cannot lie, and quite another to disbelieve the words of a false and deceitful man, who is neither faithful nor nor trustworthy. The poor Moors of Grenada could speak at length about this and the deaths of my Lords, the counts of Egmont and Hoorne, of blessed memory, furnish proof enough. But if these fine theologians like the Cardinal, one of the pillars of his Church, had thoroughly searched the true and immediate cause of the fall and overthrow of Judas and Cain, they would have found that it was despair to which, by the grace of God, I have not been brought and hope never shall be. On the contrary, if you consider the extraordinary and terrible language employed in this Proscription whose savagery exceeds anything the Turk might devise, do you not find there the style of desperate men such as we hear the Poets use when they would conjure up the frenzied or mad? Their conscience then has been seared like that of Judas, stricken like that of Cain and chastened like that of Saul. Yet you see, my Lords, the great wisdom of these know-alls: distrust, they say, is a common characteristic of all wicked persons. But I appeal to you, O Cardinal, who have wasted so much time in the schools, to say whether you call this learning, namely, to be from one’s youth taught how to lie and deceive. I bid you then say how you will answer that most pithy and solid of all orators and the greatest lover of his country, who says (as I have heard since my youth from all learned men) that distrust is the surest fortress that a free people can have against a tyrant. This speech was directed against another Philip, who was but a novice in tyranny beside your Don Philip who surpasses all others and to whom no philippic can do justice, not even one described as divine You will take counsel concerning this matter; in the meantime I shall proclaim, write, and cause to be engraved everywhere this fine maxim which should always be remembered. Would to God that I may be given more credence than was that fine Orator among his people. They allowed themselves to be distracted and finally overthrown and completely ruined by men in your position and other petty busybodies who were at your command and had venal tongues and pens. But I expect more, my Lords, from your constancy and valour.

[ Alleged Offers to Orange on his Withdrawal ]

Like good orators who always keep back to the end some compelling or striking reason or good captains who station their best soldiers in the rearguard, these learned and experienced men come at the last to overwhelm me with the weight of a great and a grievous charge. They have offered me (they say) very great inducements so that I might withdraw to my birthplace (where everyone ought to desire most to live) which I have refused . What could they say, my Lords, which was more advantageous to me? Consider their folly or their shamelessness for they must either speak shamelessly or else be so utterly devoid of common sense as to praise me, when they think to blame me. It is pleasant thing for everyone to live in his own country . Why then does this accursed race of Spaniards, go from country to country, afflicting the entire world? But if because of the many obligations that I have to you, I place your service, (as I ought) before the land of my birth, should I therefore be accounted a wicked traitor and the public plague of the world ? Yet you know that from the age of eleven or twelve, I was brought up among you, and no where else, so that this country has become as it were second nature to me. If then they have made me promises, if they have offered me, as they say, very great inducements and I have nevertheless refused these, what can they condemn me for unless it be my constancy and faithfulness to God and the country, by which I set more store than all the possessions on earth? Do not imagine, my Lords, that I like to be forever engaged in travail and labour, or to hear my enemies as they inveigh and traduce me so vehemently, especially not from those who ought to be my friends and are obliged to me, or that I take delight in being deprived of my possessions for so long, or to see my son kept for so long in cruel captivity, or to see myself burdened with infinite debts when I could put a stop to such great difficulties. Do not think that I am any different from other men on earth, who all prefer rest to labour and prosperity to affliction. But what if I cannot attain these blessings and this happy state without betraying you, without forsaking you, without delivering you over (insofar as it was up to me) as prey to be devoured by these bloodthirsty wolves? Let the rest of the world pardon me (for I know that you approve me, and that I need no excuse before you) if I refuse to mix one drop of the poison of treason in my drink for the sake of my possessions, my life, my wife, or my children. But for as long as it shall please God, to give me a drop of blood, one pennyworth of my goods and a modicum of understanding, industry, credit and authority, I shall employ, dedicate and consecrate these entirely to your service.

Since, however, they make such charges against me, I will yet tell you, my Lords, that without embellishing the truth, as is their wont, they have not done so. The offers of which they speak were never made to me, although I have been well and truly informed that there was nothing that I might demand for myself that would not have been granted. They would promise to set my son free, leaving to him all my estates, assigning me in Germany as much property as I have here, as well in respect of what I possess, as of what is held of me, discharge my debts, which are very great and give me in ready coin a million guilders and good guarantees for all these things. These are, my Lords, fine offers; it did not cost as much to subvert those who have withdrawn from us. But they were so far from offering such terms to me that on the contrary, that they could never even get me, whether by letters from the imperial ambassador, or by schemes laid with some of my servants and my nearest kinsmen or by official letters to the point where I should submit private terms in my own name I have always answered that if the terms of peace for the country accorded with your demands, I would be satisfied; I did not wish to have any other conditions, either good or bad, than those you accepted nor did I intend, directly or indirectly, to separate myself from the common cause, on which I judged my fortune, for good or ill, depended. Is it not a grave accusation to make against someone namely, that he is a man of honour and loyalty, as steadfast before the winds of fair promises, as he is also, by God’s grace, before the threatening waves?

[The Inhumanity of the Proscription]

So far, my Lords, you have heard the accusations, or rather the abuse, obloquy and slanders, which they have marshalled against my honour and reputation. It will be for you, to whom I am alone obliged on account of my goods and their circumstances, and above all of my oaths, to judge me as you think fit; nor shall I refuse, if I am found guilty, to be punished. But if, as I hope, you judge, that my accusers are tyrants and slanderers, then I shall think my modest, though most loyal and faithful, service to have been put to very good use.

Now then, my Lords, they come to build, on these frail and feeble foundations, the sentence of their Proscription and to that end they deploy all their deadly eloquence. They thunder, they fulminate, they storm, they behave like these Corybantes or Furies in the theatre: they hurl forth all the accursed words, steeped in the waters of Cocytus, Styx and Acheron, against this poor leader. But this, thanks be to God, frightens me as much, as the fulminations of Pope Clement, hurled from the Tarpeian Rock against my forebear, the Lord Prince Philibert, who did not let these stop him from taking him prisoner For, when I looked about me, I find that they are but winds of words, noises to frighten children but not a man who, by God’s grace, did not lose courage when confronted by the roaring of all their cannons and by eighty thousand men under Alba’s command, nor by so many fleets and so many acts of treachery committed by the said Duke, his successor nor, before these, of the Duchess of Parma. Yet this was indeed something more terrible than the empty noise of such a clap of thunder, which vanishes immediately and hurts no one. It is sufficient for me to say in word to you, my Lords, and to the whole of Europe, that every Spaniard or Spaniolised person without exception, no matter his quality and circumstances, who has said, or shall say, as this infamous Proscription proclaims it, that I am a traitor and a wicked man, has spoken falsely and against the truth . Meanwhile let them deny me for as long as they please both fire and water. I shall go on living with my friends, despite their rage for as long as it shall please God to look favourably on me. He alone has power over my life and death and has numbered all the hairs of my head; I have known His great favour and assistance until this present time, and I hope He will preserve me to the end. As for the goods that I possess which he gives away (for he manages his affairs so thriftly that he refuses to part with anything which he has taken from me by force) I hope, with God’s help, that these will cost him so dearly they will buy others elsewhere far more cheaply. As for my other goods, which they keep from me, I trust that God will give me grace so that I might dispossess them of these as I have already done a good part and that never will goods seized from a poor Prince (although they have plundered many more) weigh on them more heavily.

He promises twenty-five thousand écus, in lands or in ready money, to whoever shall deliver me dead or alive into his cruel hands, or shall take my life from me . But although he has not published this until now, does he think that I am unaware how many times he and his men have done deals with murderers and poisoners to take away my life? And as God has shown me His grace by enabling me to preserve myself even when I was not apprised of any such danger, I trust He will show me no less favour at this time, when I have been warned. Since I have still greater reason to look after myself, I also trust that He will raise up many honourable men to watch over my safety. Although I know there is no impudence in the world so brazen as to bear comparison with that of the Spaniards, I am nevertheless still amazed that they have been so shameless as to dare to publish before the whole of Europe not only that they put a price on the head of a frank and free-born leader who, thanks be to God, has never feared them, but also that they should attach rewards which are so barbarous and alien to every rule of virtue and humanity. In the first place they will ennoble whoever will perform such a gentlemanly act, if he were not already a noble . But I beseech you, suppose whoever should execute such a wicked act, (which I hope God will never suffer) were of a noble birth. Do you think that there is a gentleman in the world, I mean among the nations, which know what nobility is, who would so much as eat with someone who had been such a base and wicked villain as to kill a man, even if he were the lowliest and most abject that could be found, for money? Now, if the Spaniards consider such people as nobles and if this be the road to honour in Castile, I shall no longer marvel at what the whole world believes, namely that the blood of Moors and Jews runs in the veins of most Spaniards, and especially those who call themselves nobles and these retain this virtue of their forebears who sold for ready money the life of our Saviour, a circumstance which makes me bear the injury more patiently

Secondly, they grant him pardon for every offence and crime, no matter how grievous . But suppose he had uprooted the Christian Religion from one of his kingdoms or had ravished his daughter or had spoken ill of the Inquisition, which is the worst possible crime in Spain? My enemy so far forgets himself as to make an assault upon my possessions, my life and my honour and, then in order to have more witnesses to his injustice and follies, he publishes it throughout the world in numerous languages. I could not have wished more for my own great benefit than that he should have enriched his Proscription with other ornaments than these here, namely that for killing me he should ennoble not only the baseborn and men of ignominy but also the most evil and detestable people on earth and reward so outstanding an act of courage with such great honour. For what more fitting demonstration of my righteousness could he find than to seek to exterminate me in this way and to oppress the defender of the liberty of a people, cruelly and tyrannically afflicted, by recourse to tyranny, poison, issuing pardons for grievous crimes and by the ennoblement of wicked men?

I do not doubt, my Lords, that God who is just, has deprived him and his men of their judgement and that He has suffered him to bring before the whole world evidence so that they may know that his heart has been so poisoned against this country and against our liberty that he pays no heed to any act, no matter how wicked and detestable in order to accomplish the death of him, who has hitherto served you so faithfully. Furthermore, he is not ashamed to mingle in such sacrilegious acts the name of God, calling himself his Minister ! Has the minister then the power not only to permit what God has forbidden, but also to reward it with money, with nobility and the remission of crimes? And what sort of crimes? Any crime, no matter how grievous they might be. But I do not doubt that God, by his most just judgement,will cause the just vengeance of His wrath to fall on the head of such ministers and that He will by His great goodness maintain my innocence and my honour for as long as I live and for posterity. As for my possessions and my life, I long ago dedicated these to His service; He will do with these whatsoever He pleases for His glory and for my salvation.

[ Orange Submits to the Judgement of the States General ]

My Lords, you should not be provoked because he also proceeds to pour the effluent of this infamous Proscription on your heads. Instead you should think that here the Spaniard and his accessories follow the natural disposition of women, who having wept and bitten, take their final refuge in abuse; likewise, your enemy now makes his last stand. If we give proof of our constancy, determination and courage, his wretched enterprises will come to naught. Sulla, Carbo, Marius, Antony and such other tyrants, who were the first begetters of such abominable proscriptions, did not provide an example to the Spaniards for this particular act of folly and insolence, although they set the example of cruelty and barbarity which these wretches have carried out. But they only proscribed men who were fugitives, hounded or in hiding within the countries in which they had power. And to this extent they resemble these men, that is to say in their cruelty, because they proscribed good, virtuous and honourable persons; but in this respect, they reveal their folly and ineptitude for they proscribe someone whom they must fight by force of arms. If, like the Duchess of Parma, you send a poisoner, or, like her son, the universal heir of his forefathers’ virtues an assassin, you do not implement a proscription; instead you commit an act of brigandage.

I have, my Lords, not said everything here that could be said against this cruel Proscription, but only what I deemed appropriate at this time. When I address you who have knowledge of many things, I have omitted these because they are known to you. Besides were I to attempt to speak of the individual enterprises of the King and of his chief ministers, I should be attempting something no Orator could sufficiently describe, indeed what no honourable man could ever conceive, such is the nature of their cruelty, tyranny and injustice of every sort. Yet I hope both by reason of what this Proscription contains, which sufficiently testifies to their base and contemptible spirit, and my answer that you shall well enough recognise their pernicious and wretched purposes and therefore also understand what you must diligently heed and understand. Since they despair of being able to subdue you by force, they strive all the harder to sow divisions among us. First and foremost they praise those who have not only forsaken us contrary to their oath, and that in a time of peril when one of our towns was under siege. Nor can these make any just complaint nor plead their customary excuse, indeed — and this was the height of disloyalty — at the very same time they proceeded to attack us in other quarters.

The threats which accompany this proscription are only intended to shock you into parting company with me. They make it seem as if this war is being waged against me and not against you, just as the wolf would like to make the sheep believe that he only intends to fight against the dogs, and having killed them, would easily reach an understanding with the flock, for the dogs had always been responsible for the fighting. But, my Lords, when I was away, when I withdrew to Germany, did they stop burning, shedding blood and drowning people? Was your freedom maintained by that sweet-natured man, the Duke of Alba? Was it not at then that your ambassadors, the lords Berghes and Montigny, met their deaths in sinister circumstances in Spain? Was it not at that time that they displayed to you the heads of your leading captains and governors impaled on pikes.

The other point on which they are utterly determined is the extermination of the Religion. I will not here, my Lords, enter into the debate about which is the true religion, in which God is truly served and invoked and which accords with His Word. I leave this to be determined by others better trained in this matter than I, especially as every one can discover what I believe here by my profession of faith. But I tell you frankly that the condition of your country is such that without the exercise of the same, it could not survive for three days. You see how miraculously its numbers have increased and how the hatred of the pope has taken deep root in the hearts of all the inhabitants of the country because his abominable practices against this whole state have been so clearly exposed. Who therefore can boast that he loves his country and still recommend that so many people should be driven out of it? Will their departure not leave the country desolate, poor and wretched while increasing the population and wealth of foreign countries? But if they refuse to leave, who can force them to do so? Cast your eye on our neighbours and consider our own experiences. Unless we are raving mad, we will never follow such pernicious advice which would overturn this state from top to bottom. Furthermore, my Lords, although it is true that among those who follow the Roman Church there are many honest men, who love their country, some of whom have acquitted themselves most honourably, yet you may be certain that you will not find a single one among those of the Religion who has any understanding or collusion with the enemy for all of them are unanimously opposed to him. Though there are some among them who, like wanton and mischievous children, have by their imprudence caused trouble at home, they have certainly had no dealings with the common enemy

Since then, my Lords, you know their scheme, there is nothing for it but to find a remedy. And what is this? To put into effect what you always have on your lips and what is symbolised by the badge of arrows which you have chosen to have engraved on your seal No limb of this fine body should only have regard for its own interests, but for what concerns the whole body. One part of the body should not take for itself victuals prepared for the whole body. It should allow the stomach, which stands for the council you will establish, to digest it and then send it through the veins to all other parts of this state; especially wherever some malady manifests itself, the physic should be sent swiftly there and the sick should patiently bear their suffering for a time so as to enjoy thereafter a happy deliverance from their illness. Would it not be to our everlasting shame if we, who have such a splendid state in our hands and possess such fair resources, allowed ourselves through miserable avarice and the desire to get rich at the expense of our compatriots — some pulling in one direction, others in the opposite – to be crushed at a stroke by our mortal enemies?

Remember, my Lords, how greatly this state declined after the death of Duke Charles, merely because of trivial disputes between the provinces about certain alleged privileges and advantages, while everything else was forsaken Do not suppose, things being as they are, that I can resist the enemy for long with the very limited resources that you know, my Lords, I have at my disposal. But on the other hand, having some experience of the workings of government and of war and knowing well this country and the resources of the enemy, I tell you that if all the armies of Spain and Italy, with which they now threaten us next year, should come against us, they would accomplish no more, indeed far less than the Duke of Alba did in Holland and Zeeland. If it is within your power, as it is, to give order and yet you fail to do so, what name will people give to the offence, if you, my Lords here assembled, were to commit it? All these honest men rely on you; they look to you as their fathers and protectors, and they would welcome any good order you might establish as if it were a new revelation from heaven. Therefore take pity on yourselves and, if you are not moved by your own needs, take pity on the many poor people who have been utterly ruined and on the many poor widows and orphans. Think of the countless murders and bloodshed committed in the bowels of your country, of the many churches destroyed and of the many pastors wandering with their poor flocks. Keep before you the cruel and barbaric execution carried out by Count Mansfeld at Nivelles You can avoid all these and throw back all the misery of this war on the enemy, if you would only stay aloof from faction and apply all your resources with the same courage, without stinting — I do not say scrape the bottom of your purses — what is there in abundance.

And as for myself in particular, you see, my Lords, that it is this head they seek and this head they have vowed and destined for death, putting upon it so high a price and so large a sum of money, and saying that while I remain among you, the war will not come to an end. Would to God, my Lords, that either my lifelong exile or even my death could indeed deliver you from all the evil and misery the Spaniards devise and prepare for you. I have so often heard them deliberating in the council and giving their opinion in private, that I know them inside and out. How sweet would such a ban be to me and how delightful a death for such purpose! Why did I put all my goods at risk? Was it to get rich? Why have I lost my own brothers, who were dearer to me than life itself? Was it to find others? Why have I left my son so long in captivity, my son I say whom I as his father must love so dearly? Are you able to give me another or to restore him to me? Why have I risked my life so often? What prize, what reward can I expect for my long travail in your service, in which I have grown old and lost all my possessions, unless it be to win and to purchase your freedom, if necessary, with my blood? If, my Lords, you therefore believe that my absence or even my death could be of use to you, I am willing to obey. Order me, bid me go to the ends of the world, and I shall obey. Here is my head over which no prince or monarch has power, but you alone; do with it as you please for your own good and for the preservation and maintenance of the commonwealth. But if you believe my modest experience and diligence, acquired through such long and unremitting toil, if you believe that what is left of my goods and my life can still be of use to you (for I devote it entirely to you and consecrate it to the country), resolve to do what I have proposed to you. And if you think I bear some love to the fatherland, that I have some capacity to give counsel, then believe that this is the only way to protect and save yourselves. This done, let us go forward together with one heart and will, let us together undertake the defence of this good people who only ask for good counsel and desire nothing more than to follow it. If, in so doing you should continue to show me favour, as you have hitherto granted me, I hope, with your help and with God’s grace, of which I have so often in the past been conscious in desperate circumstances, that whatever you will decide will be for the welfare and preservation of yourselves, your wives and your children and everything that is holy and sacred.