The New Ruler
In 1555, Charles V abdicated from the throne leaving the crown to his son Philip II who inherited his possessions in Spain, Italy, the New World and the Netherlands.
During the first years of Philip's reign, the Netherlands saw a new wave of heresy.
John Calvin's ideas which originated in Switzerland spread and won converts.
Calvinism with its easily understood theological structure proved attractive to a wide social spectrum. Calvinism's appeal was greater in the towns. Both nobles and peasants were drawn into membership of reformed churches.
It was unlikely that in the early 1560's Calvinism made up more than a few per cent of the population.Philip was alarmed at the growth of this new heresy and much like his father, as a devout Catholic, he was intent on maintaining his faith as the exclusive one.
Philip stepped up the persecution and ordered magistrates to proceed with the 'utmost rigour'.
However many local officials continued to conceal heretics and secret Calvinist congregations still gathered. In regions were the persecutions were the most intense the Calvinists fled abroad as exiles to England, France and Germany. From here they sent pamphlets, Bibles and trained Calvinist clergy to their fellow believers in the Netherlands.