BLTC Press Titles


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Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


The Bhagavad Gita

Anonymous


Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe


Memoirs of Spain during the reigns of Philip IV. and Charles II. from 1621 to 1700

by John Colin Dunlop

Excerpt:

Gray's Bard.

Towards the close of the preceding reign, the Bohemians having resolved to defend their civil and religious privileges against the Emperor Ferdinand's encroachments, had thrown off their allegiance to that potentate, and conferred their crown on the Elector Palatine. They were supported.for some time in their revolt by the talents of Henry Count Thorn and the celebrated military adventurer Count Mansveldt. an illegitimate son of that Count Mansveldt whom Philip II. had appointed Governor of the Netherlands after the death of the Duke of Parma. In this conjuncture, Philip III. of Spain had determined to support, with his utmost power, the hereditary rights of the German branch of his family. Spinola, the most celebrated general of the age for skill, enterprise, and activity, had been placed at the head of an army of 30,000 Spaniards and Italians, with which he invaded and overran the Lower Palatinate. The influence and authority of Spain had procured for the Emperor extensive alliances in Germany and Italy, while her treasures enabled him to raise the army which gained the decisive battle of Prague. That important victory restored to him the crown of Bohemia, and drove the Palsgrave a wretched exile into foreign lands. The Palatinate, his hereditary domain, was bestowed on the Duke of Bavaria, who, during this contest, had been a useful ally of the Emperor; and, throughout the whole of Germany, those who professed the reformed religion experienced all the rigours and severities which were to be anticipated from the vindictive arm of a powerful, bigoted, and unrelenting conqueror.

Such, apparently, was the prosperous situation of the affairs of the House of Austria, and such the distressed condition of the German Protestants, when Philip IV. ascended the throne of Spain. The twelve years' truce, which had been concluded with the United Provinces in the year 1609, expired shortly after his accession. The Archduke Albert, governor of the Spanish Netherlands, attempted to renew it; but the States insisted on an unrestrained freedom of commerce to America and India, with an absolute and perpetual acknowledgment of their independence. To the terms proposed by Albert, of which the preliminary article was a recognition of his sovereignty or that of Spain, the States returned a spirited and indignant answer, That they would enter into no conference as to details, except on a footing of complete equality,—that they would never renounce a freedom for which their countrymen had shed their blood,—and that it was an insufferable injury even to suppose for a moment that they were capable of relinquishing their independence.1

Soon after the failure of this negotiation, the Archduke Albert died. To him the Spanish monarchs had transferred the nominal sovereignty of the revolted provinces, which now remained with his relict the Infanta Isabella, daughter of Philip II. By the Spanish deed of abdication, it had been provided, that in the event of the 1 Cespedes, Histor. lib. ii. c. 8.

death of the Archduke and the princess without issue, the claim to the United Provinces should revert to the King of Spain. The demise of Albert without children, and the advanced age of the Infanta, now opened up a near prospect of the succession to Philip IV. It thus became an object of the Spanish counsels, by recovering the Seven Provinces, and again joining them with the districts of the Netherlands which still preserved their allegiance, to restore those valuable dominions to their original integrity. In conformity with the instructions he had received from Madrid, Spinola quitted the Palatinate, which he had so recently conquered, and hastening to the Netherlands, placed himself at the head of an army of 50,000 men destined for the subjugation of Holland. His success was scarcely commensurate to what had been expected from so formidable an army, and so renowned a commander. But he was opposed by Prince Maurice, who at this time governed the United Provinces with almost absolute authority, and who, although somewhat too free in his morals for a chief who combated in behalf of religion, and too ambitious for a patriot who drew his sword in the cause of liberty, had been reputed, since the death of Henry IV"., the greatest and most glorious of European warriors. If any could contest with him the pre-eminence, it was the noble Italian who now met him on " the classic land of fortified defence." But Spinola, after some unavailing plans for more important undertakings, was obliged to content himself with laying siege to the town of Juliers, which he invested for seven months before the garrison surrendered on favourable conditions. He then marched to the siege of Bergen-opzoom, which he was forced to relinquish at the approach of the troops commanded by Mansveldt, after having lost two months and 9000 of his best troops in the unsuccessful enterprise.

In order to secure farther protection against their powerful enemy, the Dutch entered into a strict alliance with France, which, though distracted by civil dissensions, was sufficiently alive to the sense of external danger and the disadvantages she must suffer from the predominance of Spain over the United Provinces.

About the same period, a new confederacy of the Protestant princes in Germany was rapidly formed, and as quickly dissolved by the successful arms of the Emperor. James I. of England, the father-in-law of the unfortunate Elector Palatine, was no great friend to that civil and religious liberty for which the Bohemians had been contending; and a support of his relative in the rash attempt which he made on the crown of Bohemia, was incompatible with his notions of the unalienable right of princes. But when the Elector was despoiled of his hereditary states, James found it more difficult to resist the solicitations of a daughter, and the united voice of his kingdoms, which loudly called for his interposition. His natural timidity and indolence deterred him from undertaking any warlike operations of difficulty or importance. He attempted, however, to open a negotiation for the establishment of peace between the Palatine and the Emperor, and the restoration of the former to his hereditary dominions ; but he, at the same time, permitted the Spaniards to levy troops in England for the purpose of recruiting their armies in Germany and Flanders. In fact, though closely bound to the Elector by the ties of affinity, an alliance with the crown of Spain had always been the anxious wish of the British monarch, and his farther interposition would have frustrated that project of a matrimonial union between his son and a daughter of Spain, which he had been long earnestly labouring to accomplish.


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