The Southern Netherlands: Spanish and Austrian
The negotiators at Arras in early January, 1579, who reached an agreement bringing back the Catholic rebels of the Walloon provinces of the southern Netherlands to the allegiance of Philip II had no notion that they were taking the first step in the creation of a new nation. They sought only to restore peace and repose in the Netherlands under Philip’s authority, but with respect for the traditional political rights of the provinces and to end the “excesses” of the Calvinists, who had control not only of the principal provinces north of the river line of Rhine and Meuse, but also in many of the great Flemish and Brabant towns south of it, like Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. Just as the Prince of Orange and the rebels in Holland and Zeeland had not yet limited their vision to defending the North, far less to creating an independent state there, so the Duke of Parma and the reconciled Catholics did not yet accept the permanency of the rule of their opponents above the river line. But military and political events—the inability of Parma to sustain his northward course of triumph, the consolidation of political authority in an effectively independent regime in the North, the closing of the “garden” of the Dutch Republic and its conquests below the river line under Princes Maurice and Frederick Henry—led to the emergence of two states in the Low Countries.
KeywordsImport Duty Sovereign Power United Province River Line Close Union
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