Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

XI.

1555.

BOOK Having assembled the States of the Low-Countries at Brus

sels, on the twenty-fifth of October, Charles seated himself, for the last time, in the chair of state, on one side of which was placed his son, and on the other his sister the Queen of Hungary, regent of the Netherlands, with a splendid retinue of the Princes of the Empire and grandees of Spain standa ing behind him. The president of the council of Flanders, by his command, explained in a few words, his intention in calling this extraordinary meeting of the States. He then read the instrument of resignation, by which Charles surrendered to his son Philip all his territories, jurisdiction, and áuthority in the Low-Countries, absolving his subjects there from their oath of allegiance to him, which he required them to transfer to Philip his lawful heir, and to serve him with the same loyalty and zeal which they had manifested, during so long a course of years, in support of his government.

CHARLES then rose from his seat, and leaning on the shoulder of the Prince of Orange, because he was unable to stand without support, he addressed himself to the audience, and from a paper which he held in his hand, in order to assist his memory, he recounted, with dignity, but without ostentation, all the great things which he had undertaken and performed since the commencement of his administration. He observed, that from the seventeenth year of his age he had dedicated all his thoughts and attention to public objects, reserving no portion of his time for the indulgence of his ease, and very little for the enjoyment of private pleasure; that either in a pacific or hostile manner, he had visited Germany nine times, Spain six times, France four times, Italy seven times, the Low-Countries ten times, England twice, Africa as often, and had made eleven voyages by sea ; that while his health permitted him to discharge his duty, and the vigour of his constitution was equal, in any degree, to the arduous office of governing such extensive dominions, he had never shunned labour, nor repined under fatigue ; that now when his health was broken, and his vigour exhausted by the rage of an incurable distemper, his growing infirmities admonished him to retire, nor was he so fond of reigning, as to retain the sceptre in an impotant hand, which was no

XI.

1555.

longer able to protect his subjects, or to secure to them the BOOK happiness which he wished they should enjoy ; that instead of a sovereign worn out with diseases, and scarcely half alive, he gave them one in the prime of life, accustomed already to govern, and who added to the vigour of youth all the attention and sagacity of maturer years; that if, during the course of a long administration, he had committed any material error in government, or if, under the pressure of so many and great affairs, and amidst the attention which he had been obliged to give to them, he had either neglected or injured any of his subjects, he now implored their forgiveness ; that, for his part, he should ever retain a grateful sense of their fidelity and attachment, and would carry the remembrance of it along with him to the place of his retreaty as his sweetest consolation, as well as the best reward for all his services, and in his last prayers to Almighty God would pour forth his most earnest petitions for their welfare.

Then turning towards Philip, who fell on his knees and kissed his father's hand, “ If,” says he,“ I had left you by my death this rich inheritance, to which I have made such large additions, some regard would have been justly due to my memory on that account; but now, when I voluntarily resign to you what I might have still retained, I may well expect the warmest expression of thanks on your part. With these, however, I dispense, and shall consider your concern for the welfare of your subjects, and your love of them, as the best and most acceptable testimony of your gratitude to me. It is in your power, by a wise and virtuous administration, to justify the extraordinary proof which I, this day, give of my paternal affection, and to demonstrate that you are worthy of the confidence which I repose in you. Preserve an inviolable regard for religion ; maintain the Catholic faith in its purity; let the laws of your country be sacred in your eyes; encroach not on the rights and privileges of your people; and if the time should ever come, when you shall wish to enjoy the tranquillity of private life, may you have a son endowed with such qualities, that you can resign your sceptre to him, with as much satisfaction as I give up mine to

you.”

[blocks in formation]

1555.

BOOK As soon as Charles had finished this long address to his XI.

subjects and to their new sovereign, he sunk into the chair, exhausted and ready to faint with the fatigue of such an extraordinary effort. During his discourse, the whole audience melted into tears, some from admiration of his magnanimity, others softened by the expressions of tenderness towards his son, and of love to his people ; and all were affected with the deepest sorrow at losing a sovereign, who, during his administration, had distinguished the Netherlands, his native country, with particular marks of his regard and attachment.

Philip then arose from his knees, and after returning thanks to his father, with a low and submissive voice, fot the royal gift which his unexampled bounty had bestowed upon him, he addressed the assembly of the States, and regretting his inability to speak the Flemish language with such facility as to express what he felt on this interesting occasion, as well as what he owed to his good subjects in the Netherlands, he begged that they would permit Granvelle, Bishop of Arras, to deliver what he had given him in charge to speak in his name. Granvelle, in a long discourse, expatiated on the zeal with which Philip was animated for the good of his subjects, on his resolution to deVote all his time and talents to the promoting of their happiness, and on his intention to imitate his father's example in distinguishing the Netherlands with peculiar marks of his regard. Maës, a lawyer of great eloquence, replied, in the name of the States, with large professions of their fidelity and affection to their new sovereign.

15 6

THEN Mary, Queen Dowager of Hungary, resigned the

regency with which she had been intrusted by her brother January 6.

during the space of twenty-five years. Next day Philip, in presence of the States, took the usual oaths to maintain the rights and privileges of his subjects; and all the members, in their own name, and in that of their constituents, swore allegiance to him.

t Godleveus Relatio Abdicationis Car. V. ap. Goldast. Polit. Imper. p. 377. Strada de Bello Belgico, lib. i. p. 5.

A Few weeks after this transaction, Charles, in an assem- BOOK bly no less splendid, and with a ceremonial equally pompous,

XI. resigned to his son the crowns of Spain, with all the terri

1556. tories depending on them, both in the old and in the new world. Of all these vast possessions, he reserved nothing for himself but an annual pension of an hundred thousand crowns, to defray the charges of his family, and to afford him a small sụm for acts of beneficence and charity ".

u The Emperor's resignation is an event not only of such importance, but of such a nature, that the precise date of it, one would expect, should have been ascertained by historians with the greatest accuracy. There is, however, an amazing and unaccountable diversity among them with regard to this point. All agree, that the deed by which Charles transferred to his son his dominions in the Netherlands, bears date at Brussels the 25th of October. Sandoval fixes on the 28th of October, as the day on which the ceremony of resignation happened, and he was present at the transaction, vol. ii. p. 592. Godleveus, who published a treatise de Abdicatione Caroli V. fixes the public ceremony, as well as the date of the instrument of resignation, on the 25th. Pere Barre, I know not on what authority, fixes it on the 24th of November, Hist. d'Alem. viii. 976. Herrera agrees with Godleveus in his account of this matter, tom. i. 155. as likewise does Pallavicini, whose authority with respect to dates, and every thing where a minute accuracy is requisite, is of great weight, Hist. lib. xvi. p. 168. Historians differ no less with regard to the day on which Charles resigned the crown of Spain to his son. According to M. de Thou, it was a month after his having resigned his dominions in the Netherlands, i. e. about the 25th of November, Thuan. lib. xvi. p. 571. According to Sandoval, it was on the 16th of January 1556, Sand. ii. 603. Antonio de Vera agrees with him, Epitome del Vida del Car. V. p. 110. According to Pallavicini, it was on the 17th, Pal. lib. xvi. p. 168. and with him Herrera agrees, Vida del D. Felipe, tom. i. p. 233. But Ferreras fixes it on the first day of January, Hist. Gener. tom, ix. p. 371. M. de Beaucaire supposes the resignation of the crown of Spain to have been executed a few days after the resignation of the Netherlands, Com. de. Reb. Gall. p. 879. It is remarkable, that in the treaty of truce at Vaucelles, though Charles had made over all his dominions to his son some weeks previous to the conclusion of it, all the stipulations are in the Emperor's name, and Philip is only styled King of England and Naples. It is certain Philip was not proclaimed King of Castile, &c. at Valladolid sooner than the 24th of March, Sandov. ii. p. 606; and previous to that ceremony, he did not choose, it should seem, to assume the title of King of any of his Spanish kingdoms, or to perform any act of royal jurisdiction. In a deed annexed to the treaty of truce, dated April 19, he assumes the title of King of Castile, &c. in the usual style of the Spanish monarchs in that age, Corps Dipl. tom. iv. Append. p. 85.

BOOK As he had fixed on a place of retreat in Spain, hoping XI.

that the dryness and the warmth of the climate in that coun

try might mitigate the violence of his disease, which had 1556. Resolves

been much increased by the moisture of the air and the ri. residence gour of the winters in the Netherlands, he was extremely in Spain. impatient to embark for that kingdom, and to disengage

himself entirely from business, which he found to be impos

sible while he remained in Brussels. But his physicians reObliged to remain for monstrated so strongly against his venturing to sea at that

cold and boisterous season of the year, that he consented, therlands. though with reluctance, to put off his voyage for some months.

some time in the Ne.

Promotes

By yielding to their entreaties, he had the satisfaction, bethe negociation for fore he left the Low-Countries, of taking a considerable step peace. towards a peace with France, which he ardently wished for,

not only on his son's account, but that he might have the merit, when quitting the world, of re-establishing that tranquillity in Europe, which he had banished out of it almost from the time that he assumed the administration of affairs. Previous to his resignation, commissioners had been appointed by him and by the French King, in order to treat of an exchange of prisoners. In their conferences at the abbey of Vaucelles, near Cambray, an expedient was accidentally proposed for terminating hostilities between the contending monarchs, by a long truce, during the subsistence of which, and without discussing their respective claims, each should retain what was now in his possession. Charles, sensible how much his kingdoms were exhausted by the expensive and almost continual wars in which his ambition had engaged him, and eager to gain for his son a short interval of peace, that he might establish himself firmly on his throne, declared warmly for closing with the overture, though manifestly dishonourable as well as disadvantageous; and such was the respect due to his wisdom and experience, that Philip, notwithstanding his unwillingness to purchase peace by such concessions, did not presume to urge his opinion in opposition to that of his father.

A truce

HENRY could not have hesitated one moment about giving concluded. his consent to a truce, on such conditions as would leave

« VorigeDoorgaan »