The Iconoclastic Riots in the Netherlands were a series of riots spurred by mass famine caused by the raiding Spaniards. The text is an excerpt from an early 18th-century history book that discusses the riots. The riots started as a rebellion against the famines, but quickly turned against the Catholic church in the face of the Spanish Inquisitions (Brandt). The riots started after the local peasants, fed up with the rule of the Spanish-appointed governor of the region, and lacking their local nobility (William of Orange, who was commanding revolutionary armies in the field), decided to protest against their Spanish overlords (Brandt). The riots quickly took on a different flavor, however, as they turned to anger against the church for the oppression of freedom of religion and the inquisitions (Brandt). Thus, the riots turned into what is called iconoclastic riots. Religious art, statues, and imagery were pulled down and destroyed by the angry mob. Churches were set ablaze, and chaos reigned across the province for some time. Together, this all proves a point: desperate times call for desperate measures. When a group of people is scorned and punished unjustly for so long, they will take action. That is precisely what occurred among the populace of the Netherlands: they were left with little food, and were punished for their beliefs by the same monarch whose policies starved them. Is it any wonder, then, that they had little choice but to rise up and make a statement to their oppressors? It is also important to note that these were not the actions of the rebel groups themselves, to whom the Spanish attributed the riots. The populace was left with no guidance, while William of Orange and his levies were off to war with the Spanish. Thus, these religiously heretic acts which are so commonly attributed to the rebels actually cannot be assigned to them at all - they were merely the work of a disgruntled populace.
The Compromise was a famous letter composed by the nobles of the Netherlands and sent to King Phillip II of Spain (Rowen). King Phillip at the time was the single most powerful, influential figure in all of Europe. The Compromise was a petition to the king to end the current Inquisition that was taking place on his orders within the Netherlands. It warns the king that drastic action may have to be taken if the king should fail to act. The letter states that although they are sworn to be loyal to the king, and have every intent of being loyal to the king, they must act on behalf of their brethren and their countrymen first and foremost (Rowen). The king, however, did not take action, leading directly to the Eighty Years' War being started by one of the nobles, William of Orange. William would later go on to become the King of the Netherlands. This letter clearly shows that the nobles of the Netherlands attempted to warn their king about the destruction and wrath that his inquisition was bringing down upon their countrymen, but the king took no heed. The king pressed on with his inquisition and the killing of the peoples of the lowlands, and thus the lowlanders acted to defend themselves. Having warned their king, and given their king time, and pleading with their king for mercy, the Netherlands became their own defenders against the merciless tyranny of the king.
This is the transcribed and translated text of an address given by the leader of the Dutch Revolt, William of Orange. The address states the Lowland's reasons for discontent with Spanish rule, and expresses the sentiment that the Netherlands should form their own, independent nation (Rowen). The text says that those reasons involve excessive taxation, slaughters of their people, and the Inquisition among others (Rowen). In addition, the address states that while prior to now support for the rebellion has not been strong, increased support has been shown every day, and the rebellion now has the power of much of the Dutch nobility on their side. It expresses the hope of the rebellion to be able to help more of the poor souls whose lives and properties have been devastated by the ravages of the war, and that more of the rebellion's resources from now on will be devoted not to the war effort, but to aiding their own citizenry (Rowen). In addition, it states that the help and cooperation of the citizens would be greatly appreciated such that this conflict can be ended promptly (Rowen). This source demonstrates perfectly the attitude of the Dutch rebels. It shows that they did not wish the conflict to continue - for the sakes of the innocent citizenry being killed in the fighting. However, they viewed the fight as a rightful and necessary means to an end, for fear that should the Spanish be allowed to continue their rule, even more lives would be lost thanks to their terrible practices. It shows the rebellion's commitment to their citizenry as well, and their recognition of the citizenry as an essential component in their fight, as well as their willingness to help innocents when it is imperative that all their efforts be focused on the war machine.
The Massacre at Naarden was a famous capture of a Dutch city by Spanish forces during the Dutch Revolt. This book provides a secondhand account of some of the massacre from a modern historian's perspective. The book says that it is unknown precisely what occurred at the massacre, but that what is known is that it resulted in a mass slaughter of the vast majority of the residents of the town. According to the book, the Spanish forces sacked, raped, and murdered their way through the city, with the commander of the Spanish forces later bragging to the king of Spain that 'not a man alive escaped' (Arnade). Rebellious Dutch propagandists went on to have a field day with the news of the massacre, and the name of the city became a word synonymous with the brutality of the Spaniards. Indeed, the massacre later became a rallying cry for revolutionaries all around the province, and contributed in no small part to the eventual end of the war in the favor of the Dutch (Arnade). This excerpt is a blatant demonstration of the sheer violence and depravity of the Spanish forces. The Spanish committed an act of purely senseless violence and hatred towards the Dutch people. The Spanish simply had no reason to act this way, and moreover to be proud of their accomplishments afterward. The incident proves that the Dutch had to do something to save themselves from the callous, oppressive yoke of the Spanish, lest they all be slaughtered in a similar fashion. It is important to remember that this carnage occurred not while the Dutch were in a position of power, but instead while the rebellion was still largely a fledgling fighting a guerrilla war. The Spanish killing innocent civilians, therefore, was not an act of final desperation, but instead an action that a conquering army took as a punishment for a minor rebellion. This exemplifies the callous attitude the Spanish took toward their subjects.