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Op 24 september 1577 bracht prins Willem van Oranje op verzoek van de Staten-Generaal een bezoek aan Brussel, waar hij als een bevrijder werd binnengehaald. De Engelse agent Davison berichtte hierover aan Walsingham, Leicester en Burgley. Voor een goed begrip van de tekst: `His Excellency' is prins Willem van Oranje, `His Highness' is Don Juan van Oostenrijk.
Calendar of State Papers, foreign series, of the reign of Elizabeth, 1577-1578 preserved in the Public Record Office (London, 1901) p. 170-172, 199-200, 206.
Op 19 september aan Walsingham, vanuit Antwerpen:
His Excellency arrived in this town yesternight, where he was received with that incredible joy and to that unspeakable comfort of all good patriots, as if an angel had been sent from heaven to their safeguard. They have lodged him in the abbey of St. Michael's, and are importune suitors to keep him there. But divers of the noblemen are come hither to conduct him to Brussels.
As soon as he was arrived at his lodging, I went to congratulate his coming, and supped with him that night. We fell into `purpose' of divers matters, but especially of the proceedings of the States, utterly discommending their irresolution; and I communicated to him the effect of your last letter, touching her Majesty's great favour and affection towards him, which as he was right glad to hear, so he assured me that her Majesty might be most assured that in faithful duty and devotion he would give place to no servant or subject of what quality soever she had. Concluding that as long as the poor Prince of Orange had any credit or men in Holland and Zealand, and as long as with his life and all that he had he might serve her Majesty, she should be sure he should put all in adventure against any that should in any respect attempt against her Majesty; with a number of other speeches full of affection, and I dare protest sproken from the heart. And surely, sir, if I may under correction speak my own opinion, the omitting of the present opportunity of assuring her Majesty of these countries may be a thing of so dangerous consequence as may afterward be repented, when it is too late to be helped. I may seem, perhaps, to commit a fault of presumption in proceeding thus far with your Honour, to whom the necessity hereof is sufficiently known; but my duty towards her Majesty and zeal to my country has drawn me thus far. But this much I may say, that if her Majesty, both in the conclusion she shall take with the Marquis of Havrech and otherwise, shows what opinion she has of his Excellency, and lend her favour or help as condition of his direction among them, she shall give such a blow to her enemies as shall go near utterly to break their necks. And for Don John, `I doubt not it will be such a maim unto him, as no one thing could more cross him.' And unless the Prince's credit go forward, I see not but all would to naught; for if they shall make a peace with his Highness, which can never succeed but through his extreme necessity and to gain time, so many and great are the offences on both sides, and such his great ambitions and revenging mind, yet are they not unlike to fall from one mischief into another, if he were gone and they in peace. For they have already sent one to the Emperor to practise the coming down of his brother, the Archduke Matthias, whom, since he was never in Spain, they have some great opinion of. But being of the house of Austria it is not doubted but that he retaineth somewhat of their unquiet and ambitious nature, which all the world doth smart for. And being here, there is no doubt but things could never rest in a quiet state, for the country of Holland, etc. will never abandon the Prince, so long as he lives, and they fare well. And he that shall be governor will neither brook the alienation of those provinces, nor the greatness of the Prince; for regni sociis nulla fides omnisque potestas impatiens consortis erit.1 And we cannot expect from any other in the world the good neighbourhood and surety that we have from the Prince. And if the practice which has been in hand and is not yet dead for Monsieur (who the common opinion is shall marry with his niece the daughter of Spain) should succeed, I leave it to you of what unhappy consequence as well to us as to this poor country it might prove. But if her Majesty continue her countenance and favour to the Prince, things are like to take so good a train as the neck of this practice will be broken. If in treating with the Marquis her Majesty have a respect to the Prince the knowledge thereof would confirm a great number here. Your Honour would hardly believe what love and affection I have won for my labour among the good patriots. The greatest ill that I now fear is the concluding of a treacherous and short peace, wherein these ministers do employ themselves with the more earnestness in that they see the people do generally depend upon the Prince, so that if it come to a war he is likely to grow to that credit that he may do what he will, and though no man could show less ambition than he, yet are they jealous of his credit, and think that being once master of the forces, their Roman religion will stand in desperate terms. So they think on the one side to stop the Prince's credit, and on the other to bring Don John to reason, like men that have two strings to their bow. But if it fall out that Don John do abuse them, for which no doubt he will watch his advantage, the authors of this peace may chance to smell of it to their cost; for the people are resolute if they once feel the thirst to be revenged on such as shall be the occasion of their trouble; and among them Swevinghem and Ressinghen are like to have their part.
Within a day or two we shall see what course they take at Namur, and whereto his Highness will incline; though whatever peace they make, there is no doubt but it shall be the seed of an new war. And as his lack of men and money was the cause of the last peace, so now the coming of the Prince would bring such an alteration that his enterprise would be of far greater difficulty, the rather for that he would take another course with him than the rest have done; so that he shall be driven to some hard terms and to break the purpose of the Prince he may perhaps fall to some conditions of peace, persuading himself that though he have lost the principal foundations of his new-intended war, he will hope with the time to have that advantage; `for to think that he will so leave his enterprize and the country with a note of perpetual infamy to him, I say that stands so much upon his slippers'. I do not see any other reason than mere necessity. - Antwerp, 19 September 1577. (p.171-172)
Op 19 september aan Leicester, vanuit Antwerpen:
Coming to this town on Sunday, on purpose to ride to Gertruydenberg, I met some of the commissioners returned from the Prince, who said that he would be here within two or three days, and yesterday, about five o'clock, his Excellency arrived in this town; the circumstances of which Mr. Chester, who waited on him into the town, can tell you at large. I repaired to him at his lodgings, as well to congratulate him on his return from ten years'exile, as to communicate the charge which I received from her Majesty, and the like which I had in particular from your Lordship; which did so much comfort him as he protested he would sooner die than forget to serve, reverence, and honour her Majesty. For your Lordship's particular favour, he doubted not but it should one day appear by deed how much he is your Lordship's, and that among all the friends and well-willers your good nature hath won you, there is no man of whom you may more entirely dispose. Your Lordship never bestowed friendship nor favour in a place where it might bring forth fruits of greater honour and love to yourself or greater benefit to the whole common weal of our country. Your Lordship may perceive by the course of things here, confronted with the matters of France, what is to be expected and what is like to succeed if we look not well about us; whose ruin is generally conspired, and will, no doubt, be attempted if God do not cut off the thread which is in spinning. How necessary and `importune', therefore, it shall be to her Majesty to make sure those provinces of Holland and Zealand with the Prince. I refer to your judgement; and truly, my Lord, he is the man that her Majesty must make much of , and they are the provinces that she must not lose if she will sit safe at home. You have seen both by original letters and by divers other demonstrations what intelligence is between the French and Spanish, confederate with other princes, to attempt against us. Now is the time that her Majesty must not sleep, for her enemies were never more watchful. I hear a muttering of some practising in Scotland, and do the rather believe it by reason of my Lord Seton's abode here, who, I doubt not, has daily intelligence with Don John. For France, the peace which is held here for concluded cannot but tend to the troubling of her neighbours, between whose legs they must needs cast the cat, as the French proverb is, ere they can bring their own matters to the point they desire. The sparing of a little money will be cause of the expense of a great deal. Well, I will not trouble your Lordship any further; I will only beseech you to tread the steps you have held hitherto. For such occurrent as we have since my last, you may see them by the enclosed. - Antwerp, 19 Sept. 1577. (p. 173)
Op 25 september aan Walsingham, vanuit Brussel:
A summary report of the Prince of Orange his entry into Brussels September 22 [read: 24], 1577.
On Sunday, September 21, at 11 p.m., the tide so falling out, his Excellency, with the Estates' Commissioners, myself, and other gentlemen took boat at Antwerp, and at 4 a.m. landed at Willebrock, where the river, made 14 or 15 years since by the town of Brussels, has its first `scluse.' There his Excellency stayed till eight, by which time the Bruxellers had placed boats at every lock, very neatly and finely decked, for his transport up the river. At the second lock he was met by 200 Bruxellers, who with those of Antwerp marched on the banks all the way. At every lock the numbers increased, where they stood to receive him with numbers of people, who strewed the way with boughs and flowers as he went from one boat to another. At the lock by Villevoorde he was met by so many armed burgesses, as, with those that had before received him, were reckoned to amount to above 30 ensigns. On the water they had ordained to meet him at that lock three boats very gallantly hung with red cloth, as near as they could get it tho the orange colour, in the largest of which they had placed their pageants and shows with divers kinds of music. At this lock his Excellency stayed awhile, and was welcomed with four speeches alluding to their pageants, setting forth the stories of Joseph, Moses, and David, deliverers of God's people. And almost at the gate of Brussels they had set forth the picture of Ganymedes [read: Perseus, red.] slaying of a monster in the water, and saving of a lady chained to a tree ready to be devoured thereof, where likewise his Excellency was entertained with another solemn speech alluding to that fable. Which finished he entered the town, and was received by the Duke of Aerschot, the Prince de Chimay, his son, Count Lalaing, Egmont, and Bossu, and the rest of the nobility, and by them conducted to his own house. That night he supped with the Duke of Aerschot, and the next day feasted the Lords at his own house, having been before dinner at the town house, where the Estates offered him the place of President among them, which he utterly refused. But the next day falling to serious affairs they resolved to dispatch commissioners once again to his Highness, whereunto was departed the Bishop of Bruges and M. de Willerval, who this day departed towards Namur, having orders to return in four days with a final resolution of peace or war. (p. 199-200).
Op 28 september aan Walsingham, vanuit Brussel:
Just after I had despatched the last post, his Excellency did me the honour to come from his lodging to the English house, which was a long mile off, to see me. He spent an hour walking in the garden in discourse of divers things, and afterwards partook of a little banquet which we had provided for him, behaving himself with so great humanity and courtesy as did infinitely content and satisfy our whole nation. The same night I came with him hither when he was received ut Pater Patriae, the particulars of which you may see in a little report which I send herewith. (p. 205)
Op dezelfde dag schreef Davison aan Burgley: `With such singular demonstrations of joy was he welcomed of every man, as if he had been an angel come down from heaven they would not have done no more'. (p. 206)