Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 45

League of Nobles - Setting

margaret persecution brederode petition

In Dutch history (1565), a league of aristocrats, referred to as ‘the Compromise’ at first in the S Netherlands, but quickly gaining support from the N. They came together initially to protest against Philip II's ‘letters from Segovia’, the introduction of the Inquisition, and the ‘placards’ (plakkaten), ordering the persecution of heretics. Both Catholics and Protestants were worried by the centralizing policy of the Habsburgs. They were led by Louis of Nassau, Hendrik van Brederode, and Floris van Pallandt, Count of Culemborg. The leading aristocrats - Orange, Egmont, Horne, Montigny, Hoogstraten, and others - at first stood aside, but were sympathetic. As it began to appear more like a military conspiracy, Egmond warned the Governess (Margaret of Parma) and Orange advised the League to try to soften Philip's orders peacefully. As a result about 200 nobles, led by Brederode and unarmed, presented a petition to Margaret of Parma in 1566. Margaret agreed to moderate the placards. Persecution would be stopped pending a definitive decision by Philip; Calvinists could also preach openly. Meanwhile the government in Brussels started raising troops, and the League presented a further petition. Negotiations were interrupted by the Iconoclasm. Margaret agreed to stop persecution if the nobles would stop the Iconoclasm and disband the League. The Catholics left the League and the few Calvinists left took up arms under Brederode, but were defeated in 1567 by royal troops. It was during the presentation of the petition that the nobles were first labelled ‘beggars’, when Berlaymont remarked to Margaret ‘Ce ne sont que des gueux’ (they are only beggars), a title which the reformers adopted as an honour.

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