William of Orange and the Revolt 1576-84

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Orange's Position in 1576

  • Early in 1576, he appeared a spent force.
  • He had established a relationship with the estates as stadholder and had altered his religious views to fit in with the changing religious balance of power in the north.
  • He had successfully defended the rebel provinces against Philip's armies.
  • However, there was little chance he could break through the line of garrisons which hemmed him in and go on the offensive.
  • At Mook in 1574, Orange's last major engagement with the Spanish, he had been pitifully crushed.
  • Guerrilla actions and successful war of defence did not amount to a final victory.
  • Plight recognised abroad, Elizabeth regarded his chances of victory as slender so did not send any aid.
  • 'Abandoned by the world'; 'defending ourselves even to the last man', recognised it himself.
  • Contribution to the coup of 4th September 1576 unknown but he certainly took advantage of it and moved his troops south and sent commisioners to Ghent to conclude a treaty with the States-General.
  • Still, influence remained limited as Aerschot and the COS were reluctant to give him power in the south that might diminish their own.
  • States-General more important than COS but they also were reluctant to accept Orange's leadership.
  • States-General ignored Orange and chose to come to terms with Don John and sign a truce with him- Perpetual Edict 1577.
  • Pacification of Ghent did not give Orange more authority and influence; only removed the threat to Holland and Zealand and effectively recognised his regime there.

Aims of William of Orange

  • Orange had been brought up Catholic although his parents were Protestants.
  • Unlikely he was either a serious Catholic or a secret Lutheran/Calvinist.
  • He was a politique: one for whom political expediency counted for more…

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