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THE UNITED NETHERLANDS.
Military Plans in the Netherlands - The Elector and Electorate of Cologne
- Martin Schenk - His Career before serving the States — Franeker University founded - Parma attempts Grave - Battle on the Meuse -- Success and Vainglory of Leicester - St. George's Day triumphantly kept at Utrecht - Parma not so much appalled as it was thought He besieges and reduces Grave -- And is Master of the Meuse --- Leicester's Rage at the Surrender of Grave - His Revenge - Parma on the Rhine - He besieges and assaults Neusz Horrible Fate of the Garrison and City - Which Leicester was unable to relieve -- Axel surprised by Maurice and Sidney - The Zeeland Regiment given to Sidney - Condition of the Irish and English Troops -- Leicester takes the Field - He reduces Doesburg He lays siege to Zutphen Which Parma prepares to relieve ---The English intercept the Convoy - Battle of Warnsfeld - Sir Philip Sidney wounded Results of the Encounter -- Death of Sidney at ArnheimGallantry of Edward Stanley.
FIVE great rivers hold the Netherland territory in their coils. Three are but slightly separated-the Yssel, Waal, and ancient Rhine, while the Scheldt and Meuse are spread more widely asunder. Along each of these streams were various fortified cities, the possession of which, in those days, when modern fortification was in its infancy, implied the control of the surrounding country. The lower part of all the rivers, where they mingled with the sea and became wide estuaries, belonged to the Republic, for the coasts and the ocean were in the hands of the Hollanders and English. Above, the various strong places were alternately in the hands of the Spaniards and of the patriots.
Thus Antwerp, with the other Scheldt cities, had fallen into Parma's power, but Flushing, which controlled them all, was
held by Philip Sidney for the Queen and States. On the Meuse, Maastricht and Roermond were Spanish, but Venloo, Grave, Meghem, and other towns, held for the commonwealth. On the Waal, the town of Nymegen had, through the dexterity of Martin Schenk, been recently transferred to the royalists, while the rest of that river's course was true to the republic. The Rhine, strictly so called, from its entrance into Netherland, belonged to the rebels. Upon its elder branch, the Yssel, Zutphen was in Parma's hands, while, a little below, Deventer had been recently and adroitly saved by Leicester and Count Meurs from falling into the same dangerous grasp.
Thus the triple Rhine, after .it had crossed the German frontier, belonging mainly, although not exclusively, to 'the States. But on the edge of the Batavian territory, the ancient river, just before dividing itself into its three branches, flowed through a debateable country which was even more desolate and forlorn, if possible, than the land of the obedient Provinces.
This unfortunate district was the archi-episcopal electorate of Cologne. The city of Cologne itself, Neusz, and Rheinberg, on the river, Werll and other places in Westphalia and the whole country around, were endangered, invaded, ravaged, and the inhabitants plundered, murdered, and subjected to every imaginable outrage, by rival bands of highwaymen, enlisted in the support of the two rival bishops-beggars, outcasts, but high-born and learned churchmen both-who disputed the electorate.
At the commencement of the year a portion of the bishopric was still in the control of the deposed protestant elector Gebhard Truchsess, assisted of course by the English and the States. The city of Cologne was held by the Catholic elector, Ernest of Bavaria, bishop of Liege ; but Neusz and Rheinberg were in the hands of the Dutch republic.
The military operations of the year were, accordingly, along the Meuse, where the main object of Parma was to
* Meteren, xiii. 23500
1686. THE ELECTOR AND ELECTORATE OF COLOGNE 3 wrest Grave from the Netherlands; along the Waal, where, on the other hand, the patriots wished to recover Nymegen ; on the Yssel, where they desired to obtain the possession of Zutphen ; and in the Cologne electorate, where the Spaniards meant, if possible, to transfer Neusz and Rheinberg from Truchsess to Elector Ernest. To clear the course of these streams, and especially to set free that debateable portion of the river-territory which hemmed him in from neutral Germany, and to cut off the supplies from his starving troops, was the immediate design of Alexander Farnese.
Nothing could be more desolate than the condition of the electorate. Ever since Gebhard Truchsess had renounced the communion of the Catholic Church for the love of Agnes Mansfeld, and so gained a wife and lost his principality, he had been a dependant upon the impoverished Nassaus, or a supplicant for alms to the thrifty Elizabeth. The Queen was frequently implored by Leicester, without much effect, to send the ex-elector a few hundred pounds to keep him from starving, as “he had not one groat to live upon,”1 and, a little later, he was employed as a go-between, and almost a spy, by the Earl, in his quarrels with the patrician party rapidly forming against him in the States.
At Godesberg—the romantic ruins of which stronghold the traveller still regards with interest, placed as it is in the midst of that enchanting region where Drachenfels looks down on the crumbling tower of Roland and the convent of Nonnenwerth—the unfortunate Gebhard had sustained a conclusive defeat. A small, melancholy man, accomplished, religious, learned, “ very poor but very wise,” comely, but of mean stature, altogether an unlucky and forlorn individual,?
15 Leyc. Corresp.' 378.
I would to God your Lordship could 3“When I spake of the Elector but procure her Majesty to bestow here," said Leicester, “I assure you 500 or 600 pound on him for a token. he is a very wise gentleman; and if it I have received more comfort and good were possible to set him in his place advice of him than of any man hero. again, these countries were soon at He is very virtuous, and very sound in quiet. . . . . He is exceeding poor, and religion; very grave, and a comely great pity. Believe me, my Lord, he person, but of a mean stature. His is worthy to be esteemed. He doth adversary doth all he can to put the greatly love and honour her Majesty. | King of Spain into his territories, yea,
he was not, after all, in very much inferior plight to that in which his rival, the Bavarian bishop, had found himself. Prince Ernest, archbishop of Liege and Cologne, a hangeron of his brother, who sought to shake him off, and a stipendiary of Philip, who was a worse paymaster than
possession of the see. He was forced to go, disguised and in secret, to the Prince of Parma at Brussels, to ask for assistance, and to mention, with lacrymose vehemence, that both his brother and himself had determined to renounce the episcopate, unless the forces of the Spanish King could be employed to recover the cities on the Rhine. If Neusz and Rheinberg were not wrested from the rebels, Cologne itself would soon be gone. Ernest represented most eloquently to Alexander, that if the protestant archbishop were reinstated in the ancient see, it would be a most perilous result for the ancient church throughout all northern Europe. Parma kept the wandering prelate for a few days in his palace in Brussels, and then dismissed him, disguised and on foot, in the dusk of the evening, through the park-gate. He encouraged him with hopes of assistance, he represented to his sovereign the importance of preserving the Rhenish territory to Bishop Ernest and to Catholicism, but hinted that the declared intention of the Bavarian to resign the
even into Cologne itself. He is very | Parma to Philip II. 28 Feb. 1586. poor, and weary of his keeping that I (Archivo de Simancas, MS.) Compare place with such charge. His bishopric | Strada, II. 426. of Liege is all spoiled also with these Parma to Philip II. (MS. last wars, and he no longer able to main cited.) Compare Strada, who aptain his charges. A small matter pears to be very much mistaken in would set up this man now. He hath representing the Elector Ernest as many friends in Germany, and more of having been dismissed by Parma with late than ever he had." Leicester to great state, and with a magnificent Burghley, 28 Feb. 1586. (S. P. Office escort of Belgian nobility,-“because MS.)
no mask can ever entirely disguise a Lord North had also conceived a | prince, and because suns, even when favourable opinion of Truchsess, whom under a cloud, have more spectators he spoke of as a “rare gentleman, than ever.” notably furnished with excellent gifts, “Nempe nulla larva totum princi. religious, and worthy of all honour and pem tegit; immo soles, etiam isti quum estimation." . North to Burghley, 28 | deficiunt, tunc maxime spectatores haFeb. 1586. (S. P. Office MS.) I bent," and so on, II. 427.
dignity, was probably a trick, because the archi-episcopate was no such very bad thing after all."
The archi-episcopatė might be no very bad thing, but it was a most uncomfortable place of residence, at the moment, for prince or peasant. Overrun by hordes of brigands, and crushed almost out of existence by that most deadly of all systems of taxations, the "brandschätzung,' it was fast becoming a mere den of thieves. The 'brandschätzung' had no name in English, but it was the well-known impost, levied by roving commanders, and even by respectable generals of all nations. A hamlet, cluster of farm-houses, country district, or wealthy city, in order to escape being burned and ravaged, as the penalty of having fallen into a conqueror's hands, paid a heavy sum of ready money on the nail at command of the conqueror. The free companions of the sixteenth century drove a lucrative business in this particular branch of industry; and when to this was added the more direct profits derived from actual plunder, sack, and ransoming, it was natural that a large fortune was often the result to the thrifty and persevering commander of free lances.
Of all the professors of this comprehensive art, the terrible Martin Schenk was preeminent; and he was now ravaging the Cologne territory, having recently passed again to the service of the States. Immediately connected with the chief military.events of the period which now occupies us, he was also the very archetype of the marauders whose existence was characteristic of the epoch. Born in 1549 of an ancient and noble family of Gelderland, Martin Schenk had inherited no property but a sword. Serving for a brief term as page to the Seigneur of Ysselstein, he joined, while yet a youth, the banner of William of Orange, at the head of two men-at-arms. The humble knight-errant, with his brace of squires, was received with courtesy by the Prince and the Estates, but he soon quarrelled with his patrons. There was a castle of
1 " Porque no le esta tan mal el electorado.” cited.
MS. letter of Parma last