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Habsburg Communication in the Dutch Revolt

Habsburg Communication in the Dutch Revolt

Monica Stensland
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  • Book Info
    Habsburg Communication in the Dutch Revolt
    Book Description:

    The rebels of the Dutch Revolt, their political thoughts and the media they used to express them, have long been a focus of historical attention. This book, however, focuses on the largely untold story of what the other side, the Habsburg regime and its local supporters, thought about the conflict and how they responded to rebel accusations. To this end, a variety of oral, written and theatrical media have been examined to discover how the regime made use of the different communication channels available. In addition, available sources have been used to document ordinary people's response to the conflict and the various messages they encountered in the public sphere. The result is a study that sheds new and sometimes surprising light on the Habsburg regime's approach to communication and opinion-forming, while also providing a useful corrective to our understanding of rebel propaganda.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1377-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Notes on References and Translations
    (pp. 13-14)
  2. Introduction
    (pp. 15-26)

    ‘The Rise of the Dutch Republic must ever be regarded as one of the leading events of modern times.’ With these words, J. L. Motley began his bookThe Rise of the Dutch Republic, before going on to insist that the birth of the independent United Provinces, a direct result of the Dutch Revolt, was of such significance that, had it not happened, ‘the various historical phenomena of the sixteenth and following centuries must have either not existed, or have presented themselves under essential modifications’.¹ Why was it so important?

    To Motley, the Revolt had established new and lasting political...

  3. Rooting out Heresy and Rebellion, 1567-1572
    (pp. 27-54)

    The cruelty and tyranny of Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, third Duke of Alva, have become proverbial in the historiography of the Low Countries. From the beginning of his governorship, his name and image came to represent the injustice and tyranny the rebels identified in the Spanish regime. It was the defence of freedom against this Spanish tyranny that from early on was presented as theraison d’êtreof first the rebel movement and later the Dutch Republic, and Alva was the person who more than anyone personified what the freedom-loving Dutch had been up against.¹ The allegations of cruelty were...

  4. From Rebellion to War, 1572-1576
    (pp. 55-70)

    On 1 April 1572, the rebellion that Alva had been working to crush changed into a war. On this day the so-called Sea Beggars, rebel privateers operating under the nominal authority of William of Orange, seized the little port town of Brill in Southern Holland. After having been expelled from their refuge in English Channel ports a month previously, they needed to stock up on supplies, but rather than limiting themselves to some plunder they decided to take full control of the whole town. Brill was a small place and the Sea Beggars did not possess large forces, but their...

  5. The Breakdown of Royal Authority, 1576-1578
    (pp. 71-88)

    On 5 March 1576, Don Luís de Requesens died in desperate circumstances. His governorship had coincided with the first major cycle of mutinies that were to hit the royal army during the Revolt, and the bankruptcy Philip had declared in September 1575 suggested there would be many more to come.¹ A month prior to his death, Requesens had estimated that there was not even enough money to buy an ounce of gunpowder, and in an act of desperation he had had to give the army’s paymaster all his silverware. So certain was Requesens that the Habsburg regime would be defeated...

  6. Communicating Reconciliation, 1578-1585
    (pp. 89-114)

    ‘I predict that the disagreements and the confusion prevailing among the States will be good,’ wrote Cardinal Granvelle to Alexander Farnese, the new governor-general of the Low Countries since Don John’s death on 1 October 1578 and son of Margaret of Parma, the former governess.¹ Granvelle was referring to the divisions between the different provinces of the Generality that had become more and more apparent during 1578. The Calvinist coups and the suggestedReligionsvredehad profoundly antagonised the Catholic provinces, and in September a number of towns in Gelderland petitioned the States General that, in accordance with the Pacification of...

  7. Losing the Peace, 1585-1595
    (pp. 115-132)

    ‘It is highly required and necessary that, from the moment of his arrival, His Highness work hard to find all the good and firm remedies to all these evils and calamities which have almost ruined and overwhelmed them [these lands].’ Thus began privy councillor d’Assonleville’s memo to the newly arrived Archduke Ernest, the new governor-general, in January 1594. The rest of the memo went on to describe a series of problems so severe that to find a solution seemed to require ‘more divine work than human’.¹

    The situation was indeed worse than it had ever been before. The harvest of...

  8. A New Beginning, 1596-1609
    (pp. 133-154)

    Archdukes Albert and Isabella occupy a special place in Belgian historiography. When Albert arrived as Philip’s new governor-general to succeed his deceased older brother Ernest, the country was devastated after almost thirty years of continual warfare, for part of the time on more than one front. Yet, within fifteen years, peace had been successfully negotiated with France and England, and the conflict against the rebel Northern provinces had also come to a negotiated, albeit temporary, conclusion. With the end of these conflicts, economic recovery could begin in earnest, and trade, industry and agricultural production increased after years of decline. It...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 155-160)

    We began this book by noting the tendency to dismiss Habsburg public communication during the Dutch Revolt as non-existent or of bad quality. It should now be clear, however, that the Habsburg regime remained highly visible on the public scene, and that there was considerable awareness among members of the regime of what was said in rebel pamphleteering and what the effects of this might be, as well as concerns about how best to respond to it.

    But awareness of dissident pamphleteering took a full ten years to translate into active pamphleteering on the part of the regime. When it...