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On Thursday, 200 of Count Egmont's horsemen arrived at St. Bernard's Monastery, about two miles from the town, sent, it was supposed, to break up the meeting on the following Sunday.
Two members of the Court party having coming to Antwerp, where they were personally unpopular, some nobles of the league formed against the introduction of the Inquisition, fearing a disturbance which might injure their cause, met at a village near the town, to be at hand in case any rioting took place. Here they were joined by others of the Gueux faction, and the preachers and some of the wealthier inhabitants of the town determined to visit them on the Saturday. Hearing that a conspiracy was being hatched against them, to which several of the Lords of Antwerp were privy, they entered the town on Thursday night to the great rejoicing of the populace. The next morning they walked through the streets, which were thronged, and were welcomed by the more influential members of the new church, whom they encouraged to proceed as they had begun.
Meanwhile the Regent and her Council prepared a proclamation commanding all strangers at Antwerp, not being there about matters of commerce or other lawful business, to depart forthwith from the town, and ordering the apprehension and punishment of all who "induced the people of the Low Countries to any new learnings," and that no townsman should attend sermons which had been forbidden by ordinances of the King or the Magistrates, the clause being directed against "certain lewd persons who were come out of France, wellknown, who had been at spoils in their own country."___This proclamation was printed, and was posted on the Town House and at other places on Saturday morning, the 6th July. The preachers, nothing daunted, put up bills in writing upon several of the churches, and at street corners, announcing that the next day, Sunday, four sermons would be preached.
The excitement in Antwerp was now intense. Keyle, writing to Cecil says, "for the present both sides are mar"vellously in fear in this town; for yesterday, being a house "by mischance on fire, all the people ran here and there in the "streets as though Doomsday had been come, and every man "shut up his doors and shop windows. Armour and weapons are as fast bought up here as drink is drunk up, which is fast " enough."
At a meeting of the Common Council held at the Town House, it was proposed to apprehend the preachers by force,
but the resolution was not carried. It was then intimated that the Lady Regent desired to come to Antwerp, but as it was understood that she intended to bring a larger train than usual, it was decided that entrance should be denied to her, except she came with only her ordinary number of attendants. If the Prince of Orange came they would gladly receive him, but it was reported that the Regent would not permit him to come. Great preparations were made in case of any tumult arising the next day, as it was expected that the people would attend the field services in spite of the proclamation. In every one of the twelve wards of the town one of the Magistrates, accompanied by forty armed men, kept watch, and the gates were well guarded, and only two of them opened.
Notwithstanding a heavy rain, which fell on Sunday morning, the people flocked to the fields as before, the sermon being delivered to an audience of about 12,000 persons. In the afternoon service was held again, the number of those present being somewhat increased. The assemblies were guarded by two or three hundred horsemen stationed a little way off, as it was expected that an attack would be made by Egmont's troop. But no action was taken by the authorities.
About eleven o'clock on Monday night, a rumour spread that the town had been betrayed, and that a number of horse and foot soldiers were to be admitted through the gates. Armed burghers kept watch all night. The six brotherhoods, numbering some 800 men, took to their weapons. Mistrusting the Magistrates, they obtained possession of the town keys, and appointed some of their members to be always present at the opening and shutting of the gates, saying they would keep the town themselves if their Lords were not able to do so without soldiers, and would preserve it from sack and tumult. The next day, those of the Magistrates who were suspected of having intended to admit soldiers, were in great danger of their lives.
On Wednesday, the 10th July, there were preachings again, and it was arranged that services should be held on the following Friday and Sunday, and so every week.
On Saturday, the 13th, the Hereditary Burgrave, the Prince of Orange, entered Antwerp, amidst the joyful acclamations of the people.
The next morning, three sermons were preached, about 25,000 persons attending. Many of the gentlemen of the Prince's train were present, and the meeting was guarded by horsemen. Services were also held in the afternoon. The
preachers were brought back into the town by different gates some riding and some on foot, and all well guarded, the French preacher having an escort of twenty-five armed horsemen.
Fitzwilliams, who happened at this time to be in London, says that the common desire was "to have the Confession of Augsburg till other order were taken by a general council for religion.' Doubtless, however, the rumour he reports originated with the adherents of the Prince of Orange, who looked for assistance in the coming troubles to Germany, where the Lutheran form of worship was adopted by many of the Princes, who had no affection towards the followers of Calvin. As later events show, the Calvinists were more numerous in Antwerp than the Lutherans or Martinists as they were indifferently called. Meanwhile the Gueux faction was strongly supported by the people and most of the Lords of the town. The nobles of this party avowed they would maintain their cause, as it was "God's quarrel," though it should be the means of losing the country to the King, whose faithful subjects they
During the whole of the next week, the Prince was trying to arrange some compromise with the leaders of the Protestants. From Wednesday to Saturday the Lords and the Common Council discussed their demand to have liberty of preaching and places assigned to them for their services. Clough, who states that the great Council had declared itself unable to decide the matter without the advice of all the Commons, gives the following account of how it was obtained: "First, all the "wards of the town gathered together, as touching the same, "as also every street apart, the one day. And the next day, "the Wardens, and all the Occupations, with all the Gilds, and their Companies, as also all the Rhetoric Chambers, and the Companies of the Masters of the Poor, so that there was no "street of the town left, but they must give over their advice "in writing. So that on Saturday, at noon, they gave over "their answers; but there was much ado before the Masters of "the Poor would agree, who were not determined till the just "hour that they must give their answer," and even then it was only obtained by the persuasion of "Gylles Houffeman,* who " is a very earnest Protestant."
Refusing to listen to all propositions from the Lords to stop the services, the Commons asserted that everywhere in Germany and Italy, "the Jews had places permitted to them "to serve their Gods (sic), which service is manifestly known
*See p. 191.
"to be directly against God, why then should the Protestants "who preached and confessed Christ, be denied liberty and "places appointed them." Being requested to arrange amongst themselves what places should be assigned for the services, they refused, declaring it was only their duty to make known their wishes, but that it pertained to the Lords to give them effect. The Lords, they said, "were wise enough to foresee the inconveniences, and to take such orders as should be most meet "for the preservation of the town, which they openly showed, [did] stand more in contenting the people, than in seeking to 'follow the desires that came out of Spain." Their final answer was, "that at no hand, would they consent to have the people molested at the preaching, but they should be let alone "till such time that all the States of the country had met, and then what order soever they did take, that they would observe "with life and goods." They were then "secretly" desired to ask for the Confession of Augsburg, but this they also declined to do. In the end, it was resolved to leave the whole matter to be determined by the States General, as the people "showed 'plainly enough, they would not have any restraint of liberty to their preachings."
While these matters were under discussion, the chiefs of the Protestant party sat in an adjoining chamber. When it became evident that no compromise could be arrived at, they were called before the Prince, who in vain entreated them "to stay their assemblies for a month or six weeks,* offering them "what assurance they would for quietness to be used towards "them, consenting that they might assemble fifty or a hundred "together within the town without disturbance, with divers 'other like conditions, which were not accepted, neither for "fair words nor threatenings, both of which were used after a (6 sort."
Antwerp had now become "marvellously desolated." Many of the inhabitants, especially "strangers," had for some time been removing their goods out of the town and the practice was now prohibited by the authorities. The foreign merchants were consulting as to the best place for establishing another mart for their wares. Gilpin writing to Cecil on the 21st July, says the Prince of Orange intended to remain there until matters became quieter, of which in his, Gilpin's, opinion, there was "small appearance, for the professors of the Gospel do still "continue and increase their assemblies, with that stoutness "and constancy as neither force, persuasions, nor great *Two months, according to another account.
"threatenings, will as yet stay them any jot. And [it] is not "in one place only that they are so busy, but through the whole Basse-Countries, especially nigh unto France, where the[ir] "numbers are great, and [they are] strong, and think them"selves nigh unto succour, if need require."
Hearing that the Regent had prepared a force to attack the people at the preachings next day, Sunday, the Lords sent to her to Brussels in the afternoon, protesting that such an attack would lead to the utter destruction of Antwerp. If she shed "the poorest man's blood that went to the preaching, they were "well assured, that before night, there should not one spiritual "man nor Papist live within the town; wherein, if they should "take part to defend the spirituality, they should die as "well as the others." Alarmed at this, the Regent sent off in haste to stop the troops, her messenger arriving at five o'clock on Sunday morning, just as the people were going out to the services. Her intention had evidently become known, for preparations had been made for defence. Four or five thousand persons came armed with daggers and other weapons, and 200 coryers" were bought to give to the poorer members of the congregation. The guard was also much increased, being now composed of 200 horsemen and 500 arquebusiers.* But the threatened attack instead of deterring the people from attending the services had the contrary effect of increasing the numbers present. Gilpin says, that above 12,000 attended; but others estimated that there were over 30,000, counting young and old. Clough, who saw them returning, thought that at least 20,000 were present.
Service was also held the next day, Monday.
On both days, Clough says, 66 as soon as the sermon was done, "and the psalms sung, there was such a peal of guns, as I have "not heard the like, more like thunder than otherwise, and "that being done all men came home quietly. But, if they had 'been molested, and but a man hurt, here would have been a "sorrowful day to the Papists, and great doubt to others also, for they do not here, as we do in England, play with both "the hands, for they are of the richest and worthiest in the "town that maintain the preachers and soldiers, the footmen 'having seven stivers a day and their weapons."
The Prince of Orange now wished to introduce 1,500 or 2,000 men into the town, in case of tumult arising. To this the Common Council and the Brotherhoods, which met several times during the next week to discuss the matter, firmly refused to grant their consent. In the end the Prince was obliged *Letter of Gilpin, 21 July. Clough says, 150 horsemen and 400 to 800 footmen.