To what extent did the Pacification of Ghent provide a framework for lasting peace?

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Resentment of Spanish rule

  • The 15 'obedient' provinces at war against Holland and Zealand were only the reluctant allies of Spain, many percieved it as not a war against heretics but as a conflict only serving the interests of Spain.
  • This discontent turned into bitterness directed aginst the occupying forces.
  • The Spaniard's destructive campaigning, persistent demans for taxes, the government's disregard for liberties and the insults of their troops fed a dislike of Spain which grew dangerously.
  • 'Believe me the people abhor our nation more than they abhor the devil.'
  • Resentment of Spanish policy and methods was voiced by the provincial estates which protested loudly against the 'tyrannical behaviour' of the Spanish troops and against the 'general mismanagement of the country.'
  • The deputies were unwilling to take resistance further for fear of arrest.
  • They looked to the Grandees, traditional leaders of the opposition to unpopular policies.

The Grandees

  • Throughout 1566-76, the aristocracy kept loyal to Philip and the Catholic faith.
  • The grandees although they maintained their allegiance to Spain, they greatly resented the centralisation of authority  and the continued exclusion from decision-making.
  • They plotted to restore their influence in public affairs.
  • Grandees demanded that the COS on which they still formed the majority, be made the principal instrument of government.
  • Grandees' chance came in March 1576.
  • Requesens died without any successor having been named and Philip dallied in electing his successor, not knowing who he could trust.
  • As a result, political authority in the Netherlands passed to the COS which traditionally assumed the reins of govenment in the absence of a ruler.
  • The Grandees had no wish to be accused of treason by the King so they avoided making any changes of policy.
  • The Council ordered the war to continue until Philip sent orders otherwise.
  • However, the mutiny of the Spanish army made war quite impossible; the Spanish troops were refusing to obey the commands of the Council and were devastating the towns and countryside of the 'obedient provinces'.

The Mutiny

  • The mutiny was accompanied by apalling savagery.
  • In Brabant and Flanders, the mutineers collected their arrears by plundering the local population; formally loyal communities were subjected to violent looting.
  • The worst atrocities- November 1676 when Spanish troops sacked Antwerp.
  • They tortured the inhabitants to make them give their valuables; even the monasteries were forced to give up their treasures.
  • The Spaniards subjected the women to gang-**** and humiliating death. 
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