16th Century rebellions of the Netherlands Essay
16th Century rebellions of the Netherlands
Yet the Church still held the power to imprison, fine and even maim those who insulted the clergy. People deeply resented this and the Church’s extensive wealth, which many felt was undeserved. Not all the clergy behaved in this manner, but enough to disillusion many to the point where they abandoned the Church. The weakness of the Catholic Church was extremely important in the spread of Calvinism. Had people been entirely content with Catholicism, the Huguenots and other Calvinist influences would never have had such an impact.
Once the country’s Calvinists had been converted, they were able to avoid detection and punishment successfully. The flourishing community of Jewish marranos based in Antwerp were able to advise them on such matters, as they themselves had experience of religious persecution. Their advice was warmly and freely given, as the marranos looked favourably upon any opponent of Catholicism. The country’s boggy marshlands also provided retreats for Calvinists that the authorities found difficult to uncover. However, many figures of authority did support the Calvinists.
Gentry such as the Marnix brothers failed to implement Philip’s heresy laws and implicitly offered protection for Calvinists within their communities. – and – openly welcomed Calvinism, but these were exceptions. If Calvinists were facing persecution by authorities unsympathetic to their religion, then it was a simple process to simply escape to a more Calvinist-friendly province. As every state enforced its own laws, a punishment delivered in one state could be entirely disregarded in another. The refusal of the magistrates to prosecute Calvinists from the early 1560’s allowed the Huguenots to trigger the Revolt.
The protection that Calvinists received from these magistrates, the marranos, the gentry and the geographical landscape all allowed the religion to largely avoid suppression by the authorities and continue to spread across the Netherlands. Another reason why the Netherlanders felt able to revolt in 1566 is that Calvinism advocates rebellion against a ruler if he upholds an alternative faith or rules unjustly. The Calvinists in the Netherlands regarded Charles V as guilty of both charges, and therefore felt supported by God in their revolt.
Had the rebels been Lutheran or Anabaptist, some may have been uncomfortable with the idea of violent rebellion to achieve their religious aims. Yet as Calvinists, such rebellion was justified by God’s support. For those with no genuine Calvinist beliefs but a desire to revolt, this justification was convenient and led them to readily adopt the religion. However, the rebels were not motivated by purely religious concerns. Short-term economic hardship exacerbated their disillusionment with Philip, and bred such discontent with the ruler and their daily conditions that they longed to vent their anger in some way or other.
The Iconoclast Fury was the easiest form for this anger to take, as the public’s religious and economic grievances blurred. The first economic difficulties occurred in 1563. Annoyed by increases in English duty rates and harassment by English customs officials, Philip imposed a temporary ban on the import of certain goods from England. The country responded by transferring all its wool and cloth exports to Germany, leaving thousands of Flemish textile workers unemployed.
In the same year, the Baltic states became engaged in a war and subsequently sealed themselves off from the rest of Europe. This worsened the already severe unemployment in the Netherlands, since many relied upon work either with the raw materials produced in the Baltic or on the 2000 or so ships which sailed between the Baltic States and the Netherlands every year. This unemployment made it difficult for people to afford food, a problem severely exacerbated by the lack of grain imports from the Baltic- the Netherlands were reliant upon these to provide 15% of its national intake.
Appalling weather ruined the 1565 harvest and made bread even scarcer and more expensive At Diksmuide in Flanders a hoet of wheat escalated from 150 groats in March to 440 groats by December. This price rise affected the nobility as well as the middle and lower classes. Shortly before the outbreak of rebellion, a government minister in Brussels noted that discontent with the economic situation was becoming synonymous with religious discontent: ‘The shortage of grain grows worse every day… If the people rise up, I fear that the religious issue will become involved’.
CONC -Compromise important because provided focus for public discontent -Segovia Woods equally important because compromise wouldn’t have happened without -All the reasons for bad relations between grandees and Phil equally important because SW wouldn’t have been written otherwise. Decide between. -Grievances of masses most important, because while revolt might have occurred anyway without nobility, could not possibly have occurred without the manpower that the middle and lower classes provided. Of these, Calv and economic difficulties equally weighted in importance.
The Revolt occurred because opposition to Philip’s heresy laws existed among every class. The grandees’ discontent alone would have been powerless to effect an uprising had serious discontent not existed among the middle and lower classes. The nobility played an important part in the outbreak of the Revolt by providing the trigger, but the middle and lower classes were essential to its outbreak by providing the manpower necessary to carry out the Iconoclast Fury. The reasons for their discontent are thus reasons for the outbreak of the First Revolt. NEW CONC: Triggers impt, esp Huguenots as masses crucial to revolt, unlike nobles
Neither trigger entirely essential. Eco difficulties had bred such discontent and Calv had spread so widely that ppl bound to revolt some time or other. Both equally essential- eco blackened mood, while fact that ppl Calvinist made them keen to rebel against laws threatening them (specifically) The grandees’ challenge to Philip’s authority in their 1564 was very important, perhaps even crucial, to the outbreak of revolt amongst the nobility. Had this challenge not been made, it is unlikely that the nobility would ever have felt safe or supported enough to form the antagonistic Compromise.
However, revolt would still have occurred among the masses without this trigger. The influx of Huguenots into the Netherlands combined with the magistrates’ willingness to tolerate their openly ‘heretical’ preaching really triggered revolt among the ordinary people of the Netherlands. It is therefore the more important of the two triggers, because while the revolt could have occurred without the nobility, it could not possibly have occurred without the manpower that the middle and lower classes provided.
Yet neither trigger was completely essential to the outbreak of mass revolt in the Netherlands in the 1560’s. Economic hardship had bred such discontent and Calvinism had spread so widely that people were bound to revolt at some time or other in protest at their conditions and in defence of their religion. These two essential motivations are fairly equal in their contribution to the First Revolt. The triggers merely provided a focus for their discontent.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 14 September 2017
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