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16th Century rebellions of the Netherlands.

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Introduction

The First Revolt was triggered by two events. The first was the grandees' bid to change Philip's heresy laws in 1564, which took Count Egmont to Spain to proposition the king in person. This failed, but gave the nobility the encouragement they needed to make a formal gesture of rebellion. In 1565, a group of around 400 noblemen formed an organisation called the Compromise that echoed the aims of the grandees. Their supporters, the Confederates, rode into Brussels in 1566 and demanded that Margaret soften the punishment for heresy. They made it clear that refusal would be met with violence. Rebellion among the nobility was established. The second trigger of the Revolt catalysed rebellion among the middle and lower classes of the Netherlands. The Confederates had already found support among these social groups, but rebellion was really ignited by the surge in public preaching during the early 1560's. The Huguenots flooding into the Netherlands from neighbouring France found that local magistrates were prepared to overlook illegal Calvinist activity. Their preaching therefore became more confident and conspicuous to the point where they began encouraging iconoclasm among their flocks. So began the Iconoclast Fury, a widespread attack on Catholic churches throughout the Netherlands. By this point, rebellion among the lower classes was virulent. Philip was largely to blame for the outbreak of revolt. In the short term, his response to Margaret's requests for the softening of the heresy laws in 1565 was foolishly slow. ...read more.

Middle

However, as the Catholic Charles V was entirely unprepared to condone openly Lutheran princes, the religion struggled to establish itself. Because of this weakness, many Lutherans simply converted to Calvinism. It offered the same appealing alternative to Catholicism, but required no support from those in authority. Often people made the transition from Lutheran or humanist to Calvinist in one of the Netherlands' chambers of rhetoric. These were combined amateur dramatic societies and debating clubs, and were found in most important towns. They provided a forum in which Calvinist ideas could be discussed and spread freely. As these were essentially a middle-class preserve, they served mainly to convert this class to Calvinism and were not as important as those influences that also reached the lower class en masse, such as the Huguenots. Nevertheless, among the middle class the chambers of rhetoric spread the religion extremely effectively. Their influence upon the expansion of Calvinism is evident in the fact that many prominent Protestants such as Lenaert Bouwens and David Joris were members in their early years. Many people were so keen to abandon Catholicism for Calvinism (or another religion) because of the profoundly unholy way in which many of the clergy behaved. Absenteeism was rife, leading some communities to feel they lacked spiritual guidance and leadership. Many of the clergy were also guilty of drunkenness, liaisons with prostitutes and ignorance of basic religious knowledge. ...read more.

Conclusion

NEW CONC: Triggers impt, esp Huguenots as masses crucial to revolt, unlike nobles Neither trigger entirely essential. Eco difficulties had bred such discontent and Calv had spread so widely that ppl bound to revolt some time or other. Both equally essential- eco blackened mood, while fact that ppl Calvinist made them keen to rebel against laws threatening them (specifically) The grandees' challenge to Philip's authority in their 1564 was very important, perhaps even crucial, to the outbreak of revolt amongst the nobility. Had this challenge not been made, it is unlikely that the nobility would ever have felt safe or supported enough to form the antagonistic Compromise. However, revolt would still have occurred among the masses without this trigger. The influx of Huguenots into the Netherlands combined with the magistrates' willingness to tolerate their openly 'heretical' preaching really triggered revolt among the ordinary people of the Netherlands. It is therefore the more important of the two triggers, because while the revolt could have occurred without the nobility, it could not possibly have occurred without the manpower that the middle and lower classes provided. Yet neither trigger was completely essential to the outbreak of mass revolt in the Netherlands in the 1560's. Economic hardship had bred such discontent and Calvinism had spread so widely that people were bound to revolt at some time or other in protest at their conditions and in defence of their religion. These two essential motivations are fairly equal in their contribution to the First Revolt. The triggers merely provided a focus for their discontent. ...read more.

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