The dealings of Spain with Holland and the Netherlands are dyed in stains of deepest crimson. This chapter in the history of Spain is a tragedy of the most dreadful type. During the few short years in which this dependency of the Spanish crown struggled for freedom, crimes, monumental in their proportions and unnumbered for their multitude stand registered against the government and warfare of Spain.PRUS 61.1
Of all the people of Europe, none were more brave than the Hollanders. To an unparalleled degree they were tenacious of liberty, both in things civil and in things religious. From time to time during their history they had wrested valuable charters of freedom from their masters. These had been won at great cost of blood and treasure, and at all times their owners showed a disposition to cling to them firmly. From the earliest days of their history, sovereignty had resided in the great assembly of the people, and this same assembly elected the village magistrates, and decided upon all matters of great importance. The government may have been a fierce democracy, but it was a democracy nevertheless.PRUS 61.2
At length, however, Holland fell under the rule of Spain; and with the advent to the throne of Charles V. of Reformation fame, ill times began for the little land.
This monarch made continued effort to drain their treasure, and to hamper their industry.
He hated their ancient and dearly bought civil liberties, and did all in his power to restrict and overthrow them. The Netherlands at this time were divided into seventeen distinct and separate provinces; but this prince was determined to construct them into one kingdom, in order that he might rule them the more effectually with the iron hand of absolutism.1PRUS 61.3
His hand it was that planted the Inquisition in the Netherlands. For reading the Scriptures, for looking irreverently at a graven image, for even daring to hint that the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ was not present in the consecrated wafer, from fifty to one hundred thousand Dutch perished according to his edicts.
Well has Motley said that his “name deserves to be handed down to eternal infamy, not only throughout the Netherlands, but in every land where a single heart beats for political or religious freedom.”