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Observations upon the State of the
By Sir THOMAS OVERBURY.
S SOON as I entered into the Archduke's country, which begins after Lillow; presently, I beheld [the] works of a Province, and those of a Province distressed with war. The people heartless; and rather repining against their Governors than revengeful against their enemies. The bravery of that gentry which was left, and the industry of the merchant, quite decayed. The husbandman labouring only to live, without desire to be rich to another's use. The towns (whatsoever concerned not the strength of them) ruinous. And, to conclude, the people here growing poor with less taxes, than they flourish with on the States' side.
This war hath kept the King of Spain busy ever since it began, which [is] some thirty-eight years ago: and, spending all the money that the Indies, and all the men that Spain and Italy could afford, hath withdrawn him from persevering in any other enterprise. Neither could he give over this, without foregoing the means to undertake anything hereafter upon France or England; and, consequently, the Hope of the Western Monarchy. For without that handle [i.e., that hope]
Sir T. Overbury. THE HOPE OF THE WESTERN MONARCHY. 219
the mines of Peru had done little hurt in these parts, in comparison of what they have. The cause of the expensefulness of it, is the remoteness of those Provinces from Spain; by reason of which every soldier of Spain or Italy, before he can arrive there, costs the King a 100 crowns [=£30 then = £135 now], and not above one in ten that arrive, proves good. Besides, by reason of the distance, a great part of the money is drunk up betwixt the Officers that convey it, and pay it.
The cause of the continuance of it, is not only the strength of the enemy; but partly, by reason that the Commanders themselves are content [that] the war should last, so to maintain and render themselves necessary; and partly, because the people of those Countries are not so eager to have the other reduced, as willing to be in the like state themselves.
The usual revenue of those Provinces which the Archduke hath, amounts to 1,200,000 crowns [=, at 6s. the Crown, £360,000 then about £1,600,000 now] a year. Besides which, there come from Spain every month, to maintain the war, 150,000 crowns [=£45,000 a month, or £540,000 a year, then; =£2,430,000 annually now]. It was, at the first, 300,000 crowns a month [or, in present annual value, about £5,000,000]; but it fell by fifties [i.e., 50,000] to this, at the time when the Treaty began. Flanders pays more towards the war, than all the rest; as Holland doth, with the States. There is no Spaniard of [belonging to] the Council of State, nor Governor of any Province: but of the Council of War, which is only active; there [in which] they only are, and have in their hands all the strong towns and castles of those Provinces, of which the Governors have but only the title.
The nations of which their army consists are chiefly Spaniards and Italians, emulous one of another there; as on the other side, [are] the French and English: and of the country, chiefly Burgundians and Walloons. The Pope's Letters, and SPINOLA'S inclination keep the Italians there; almost in equality of command with the Spaniard himself. The Governors for the King of Spain there, successively, have been the Duke of ALVA, Don LOUIS DE Requiescens, Don JOHN of Austria, the Prince of PARMA, the Archduke EARNEST, the Cardinal ANDREW of Austria, and the Cardinal ALBERT till he married the Infanta.
Where the dominion of the Archduke and the States
220 STRENGTH AND BEAUTY OF ANTWERP. [Sir T. Overbury.
part, there also changeth the nature of the country; that is, about Antwerp. For all below, being flat, and betwixt meadow and marsh; thence, it begins to rise and become champion [open country]: and consequently, the people are more quick and spiritful, as the Brabanter, Fleming, and Walloon.
The most remarkable place on that side is Antwerp, which rose upon the fall of Bruges; equally strong and beautiful; remaining yet so upon the strength of its former greatness: twice spoiled by the Spaniards, and the like attempted by the French. The Citadel was built there by the Duke of ALVA, but renewed by the Prince of PARMA, after his eighteen months' besieging it; the town accepting a castle, rather than a garrison to mingle among them. There are yet in the town, of citizens 30,000 fighting men, 600 of which keep watch nightly; but they [are] allowed neither cannon upon the rampier [ramparts], nor magazines of powder. In the Castle are 200 pieces of ordnance, and commonly 700 or 800 soldiers.
Flanders is the best of the Seventeen Provinces, but the havens thereof are naught [worthless].
Observations on the State of France, 1609, under HENRY IV.
By Sir THOMAS OVERBURY.
AVING seen the form of a Commonwealth, and a Province, with the different effects of wars in them; I entered France, flourishing with peace; and of Monarchies, the most absolute. Because the King there, not only makes peace and war, calls and dissolves Parliaments, pardoneth, naturaliseth, ennobleth, names the value of money, [im]presseth to the war; but even makes laws, and imposes taxes at his pleasure. And all this he doth alone. For, as for that form that his Edicts must be authorised by the next Court of Parliament, that is, the next Court of Sovereign Justice: first, the Presidents thereof are to be chosen by him, and to be put out by him; and secondly, when they concur not with the King, he passeth anything without them, as he did the last Edict [? of Nantes] for the Protestants. And for the Assembly of the Three Estates, it is grown now almost as extraordinary as a General Council [of the Church]; with the loss of which, their liberty fell: and when occasion urgeth, it is possible for the King to procure that all those that shall be sent thither, shall be his instru
222 THE FRENCH KING'S EDICTS ARE LAWS. [Sir T. Overbury.
ments. For the Duke of GUISE effected as much, at the Assembly of Blois.
The occasion that first procured the King that supremacy, that his Edicts should be Laws, was the last invasion of the English. For, at that time, they possessing two parts of France, the Three Estates could not assemble: whereupon they did then grant that power unto CHARLES VII. during the war. And that which made it easy, for Louis XI. and his successors to continue the same, the occasion ceasing; was that the Clergy and the Gentry did not run the same fortune with the People there, as in England. For most of the taxes falling only upon the people; the Clergy and Gentry, being foreborne [exempt], were easily induced to leave them to the King's mercy. But the King having got strength upon [subverted] the peasants, hath been since the bolder to invade part of both their [the Clergy's and Gentry's] liberties.
For the succession of this monarchy. It hath subsisted, without intermission, these 1,200 years, under three Races of Kings. No nation hath, heretofore, done greater things abroad, in Palestine and Egypt, besides all parts of Europe; but, for these last four hundred years, they have only made sallies into Italy, and [have] often suffered at home. Three hundred years the English afflicted them, making two firm invasions upon them, and taking their King prisoner: the second greatness of Christendom (next [to] the Emperor) being then in competition betwixt us and them. And to secure themselves against us, rather than the House of Austria, as it then stood; they chose to marry the heir of Brittany before that of Burgundy. And for this last hundred years, the Spaniard undertaking [attacking] them, hath eaten them out of all but France, and endangered that too!
But for this present, France had never, as France, a more entire greatness; though it hath often been richer. For since the war; the King has only [simply] got aforehand, the country is but yet in recovering; the war having lasted, by spaces, thirty two years; and so generally, that [as there was] no man but had an enemy within three miles, so the country became frontier all over. Now that which hath made them, at this time, so largely great at home, is their adopting into themselves the lesser adjoining nations, without destruction or leaving any mark of strangeness upon them: as the Bretons,