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“no adversity could ever move, nor policy at any time entice to shrink “ from God and his word.” When Maurice was killed in 1553, John Frederick petitioned that his states and dignity might be restored to him. A family arrangement was made, whereby the Electorate was to return to the Ernestine line on the failure of the male issue of Augustus, successor and brother of Maurice. That event has not yet happened; but scions of the despoiled Ernestine house sit, or will sit, on three of the royal thrones of Europe. John Frederick died on the 3rd of March 1554, in his fifty-first year, a few days after his faithful consort Sybilla of Cleve, and was laid beside her at Weimar.'
It does not fall within the scope of this work, or of the present article, to dwell upon the contests of the declining years of Charles V. They were marked by troubles and reverses which probably heightened his desire to transmit the burden of government to his son; and they are not celebrated by Heemskerck or by the numerous biographers of the great Emperor among the triumphs of his reign. But the concluding scene of it, his abdication, is an event at once so singular and so dramatic, that Sir William Stirling Maxwell has devoted to it the concluding portion of his own labours, and in this portion of his work he has thrown a fresh and vivid light upon a scene repeatedly described by other historians, and he has illustrated it by the reproduction of engravings of the time which bring the whole august ceremony before us.
We shall, therefore, transcribe his narrative of this transaction.
• Charles V. touched the imagination of his contemporaries and of posterity more keenly by the manner of his exit from this world's stage than by any other act of a long and enterprising reign. His surrender of his crowns cannot be said to have had any influence on the affairs of Europe, because the foreign policy of Spain was during his life directed as much from Yuste as from Brussels or Valladolid. Yet the abdication was an event so novel and dramatic, that even now it is more famous than any other incident of a life passed at the very fountainhead of great affairs.
• The idea had been in the Emperor's mind long before it took the shape of a definite resolve; and he seems to have spoken no more than the truth, when he told his audience, on the day of its accomplishment, that it was no sudden matter, nor a determination of to-day or “ yesterday.” The Venetian ambassador at his camp in 1546, Bernardo Navagero, mentioned it in a despatch as a rumour of that day. At Yuste, the Emperor reminded St. Francis Borja that he had confided it to him at Monzon in 1542, and he told another visitor, Lorenzo Pires, the Portuguese envoy, that he had conceived it so long ago as 1535 when he returned to Naples triumphant from Tunis. It was at the same hour of success that he detected the first streak of silver in his chestnut locks. In life's high noon, it is rare to find successful men thus taking thought for the evening of their days.
The first steps taken by the Emperor towards his retirement occurred early in 1554, and consisted in transmitting plans and orders for an addition to the Jeromite convent at Yuste, in Estremadura, which he had chosen for his retreat. Philip, on his way to meet his English bride, visited the place in May by his father's desire. the Prince of Spain was receiving the hand of the Queen of England at Winchester, the Emperor was at the head of his army, watching the proceedings of the superior French forces with which Henry II. had invaded the province of Namur. Charles left his camp on the 17th of August and never again took the field. His desire was to hold his abdication early in 1555, but the supposed pregnancy of Mary Tudor, and afterwards want of money, detained Philip in England. He did not reach Bruxelles till the Sth September. The abdication was then fixed for the 14th October, and for that day the deputies of the estates and cities of the Netherlands were summoned to the capital. The day came, but the ceremony was postponed, to the discontent of the deputies, who finding living at Bruxelles inconvenient and expensive, petitioned that they might no longer be kept waiting. The 25th was then named for the solemnity ; and on the 21st the Emperor held a chapter of the Order of the Golden Fleece, announced his approaching abdication, and proposed that the King of England should become chief of the Order, on being invested with the sovereignty of the dominions of the House of Burgundy. The proposal being put to the vote, was unanimously agreed to, and Philip being called in, received the congratulations of his knight-companions. On the same day the Emperor filled up a great number of vacant civil and ecclesiastical appointments.
* For some months Charles had been rehearsing the part of a retired monarch. In 1554, he had fitted up for himself a house, recently purchased at the north-cast end of the park, somewhere between or near the present Park Theatre and the palace of the Belgian Chambers. It was a building of one storey, reached by a flight of ten or twelve steps. The Emperor's apartment consisted of two rooms, each of 20 or 25 feet square, painted green, the walls and windows being adorned with his coat of arms and his columns and Plus oultre. From the bed-room a passage led to a small chapel where he heard divine service.
· From this modest dwelling Charles set forth on the afternoon of the 25th October. Dressed in a long black gown, and wearing his badge of the Golden Fleece, he rode a small mule, and was attended by the King of England, Emmanuel Philibert the Duke of Savoy, and other personages. Crossing the park, they rode to the ancient castle of the Dukes of Burgundy, standing on the brow of Coudenberg, the Cold hill, and looking over the city clustered round the splendid spire of its old town-ball below. This old residence all perished, except its chapel, in the great fire of 1731, when the Archduchess-Regent narrowly escaped with her life. The site is now occupied by the Place Royale, with its church of St. Jacques de Coudenberg. Its old park has been in part covered with buildings, and in part turned by Maria Theresa into the fine urban garden known as the modern park of Brussels. *
• On alighting at the palace, the Emperor went first to the room he had been wont to occupy, and afterwards to the Council Chamber, where his sister, Mary, Queen of Hungary and Regent of the Netherlands, the King, the Duke of Savoy, and the Knights of the Golden Fleece were assembled. The doors communicating with the grand hall were then thrown open. The grand historical room had been carefully prepared by the Queen for the occasion. The walls were hung with splendid tapestry called the tapestry of the Golden Fleece, in which the looms of Flanders had depicted the story of Gideon. A dais, raised six or seven steps from the floor covered with rich carpets, occupied the west end of the hall and extended as far as the two fireplaces. On this dais were placed the throne and canopy worked with the arms of Burgundy and three arm-chairs. In this same hall, somewhat more than forty years before, on the 5th January 1515, Charles, then in his fifteenth year, had been presented by his Aunt Margaret to a similar audience, as reigning sovereign of the Netherlands. He was then a lad of fifteen. He now came before his subjects in premature old age, his left hand holding a staff, and his right leaning on the shoulder of the young Prince of Orange, William the Silent of future history. At his entrance, the whole assembly rose uncovered and bowed. Charles returned their salute, and after he and other royal personages and the Knights of the Fleece had taken their places, he ordered the Electors to be seated.'
Two very complete narratives exist of the proceedings of that memorable day, and of the speeches delivered, the one in a despatch from Sir John Mason, Queen Mary's envoy, to the Secretary of State, Sir William Petre; the other in a despatch from Federigo Badoer, the Venetian ambassador, to the Seignory. Sir William has printed them both, and reproduced the remarkable engravings by Francis Hogenberg, which bring the scene before us. Mason's despatch is here printed for the first time from the copy in the Record Office
Mary, Vol. VII. No. 428), which ought to have been published in the Calendars. It differs materially from the account of the Emperor's speech given by Robertson from Fabian Strada. We regret that our space renders it impossible for us to insert it here. But we are tempted to give the narrative in a still more attractive form. There exists in the Cancionero General, printed by Martin Nucio at Antwerp in 1577, a Spanish ballad or romance, which describes the scene so faithfully that Sir William conjectures that the writer may have been one of the spectators who filled the lower end of the hall; and although it has no pretensions to lofty poetic excellence, and is in fact a 'venerable rhyming gazette,' the spirit with which it records this great event in popular language has lost nothing, as it appears to us, in Sir William's translation. • In Bruxelles Emperor Charles abode, fifth Cæsar of the name; Weary with life's long toil was he, and rack'd with gout
* The site of the castle and the exact spot of earth on which the abdication took place was probably within a few yards of the present Hôtel de Bellevue at Brussels, so well known to all travellers.
his frame; His cheek was pale, his step was frail, seldom he crossed the door, He could not rule as he had rul'd in the good days of yore, Nor meet the French in field and trench as he was wont to do, When o'er the Flemish border the lilied banner flew; Wherefore he had devis'd and dealt to lay the burden down Of pomp, and power, and majesty; of sceptre, orb, and crown; And all his world-wide heritage, and all his sword had won, To give unto Don Philip now, his dear and only son, Don Philip, King of England, who that noble realm had brought Back to Christ's faith from heresy by rebel Luther taught. So Cæsar and the English King in Bruxelles town were met, And paction was between them made, and time of signing set; The year of grace one thousand was, five hundred fifty-five, The famous year that saw the morn of this great deed arrive, Friday, October twenty-five, three afternoon, the day And hour, when Cæsar sign'd and seal'd his diademe away. ' At Bruxelles, in the ancient hall within the castle gate, Where valiant Dukes of Burgundy erst kept their royal state, Upon the dais richly dight, beneath the canopy, The throne was set, and all a-row stood chairs of honour three, Fair Flanders' looms had spread the walls with storied hangings o'er; And Cæsar and Don Philip came, with trumpets blown before, With Mary, Queen of Hungary, high lady wise and wight, And Savoy's Duke of iron mould, and many a lord and knight Of broad Brabant and proud Castille, great chiefs of war and peace, Grave magistrates of towns and states, and knights of Golden Fleece. Then Cæsar sat upon his throne with calm and gracious mien, And right and left on either hand, bade sit the King and Queen; And near the Queen the Duke was set, and down below, the floor Scarce held the folk that throng'd to see, a thousand souls and more. So when the heralds silence call'd, the whispering hum was still, And rose the Chancellor cf the Fleece to speak the Emperor's will; In weighty well-grac'd words he said how Cæsar's Majesty Would
pass the evening of his days from broil of battle free, And giving to Don Philip now his royal place and state, Will’d that his loving people's will the gift should consecrate. " Then slowly, when the Chancellor ceas'd, the Emperor arose, And told of all his toils at home and wars with foreign foes, How twice to heathen Barbary his Christian flag he bore, And now eleven times had pass'd the stormy ocean o'er,
And how one passage more, the twelfth, for him did yet remain,
The tradition adopted by Robertson from Van Meteren, that Charles had reserved to himself after his abdication an income of 100,000 ducats or crowns, and that on his arrival at Burgos he was embarrassed by a delay in the payment of this moderate allowance, is not confirmed by any of the documents connected with the surrender of his dominions. Indeed, although he abdicated the sovereignty of the Low Countries in 1555, and that of Spain and Sicily in January 1556, it was not till the spring of 1558, about eight months before his death, that he laid down the Imperial Crown and ceased to beCæsar semper Augustus.'
" The renunciation of the Imperial dignity was not communicated to the Electoral college at Frankfort until the 24th of February, 1558. On the 12th of March, Ferdinand I. was formally recognised as the VOL. CXXXII. NO. CCLXIX.