The Act of Abjuration (Dutch: Plakkaat van Verlatinghe, literally 'placard of abjuration') is the declaration of independence by many of the provinces of the Netherlands from the allegiance to Philip II of Spain, during the Dutch Revolt.
Signed on 26 July 1581 in The Hague, the Act formally confirmed a decision made by the States General of the Netherlands in Antwerp four days earlier. It declared that all magistrates in the provinces making up the Union of Utrecht were freed from their oaths of allegiance to their lord, Philip, who was also King of Spain. The grounds given were that Philip had failed in his obligations to his subjects, by oppressing them and violating their ancient rights (an early form of social contract). Philip was therefore considered to have forfeited his thrones as ruler of each of the provinces which signed the Act.
The Act of Abjuration allowed the newly-independent territories to govern themselves, although they first offered their thrones to alternative candidates. When this failed in 1587 by, among other things, the Deduction of François Vranck the provinces became a republic in 1588.
During that period the largest parts of Flanders and Brabant and a small part of Gelre were recaptured by Spain. The partial recapture of these areas to Spain led to the creation of Staats-Vlaanderen, Staats-Brabant, Staats-Overmaas and Spaans Gelre.
|Act of Abjuration|
First page of the Act of Abjuration
|Ratified||26 July 1581|
Pieter van Dieven
Jan van Asseliers
|Purpose||Declaration of independence of the Dutch Republic|
The Seventeen Provinces of the Habsburg Netherlands were united in a personal union by Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V with the incorporation of the duchy of Guelders in his Burgundian territories in 1544. They were constituted as a separate entity with his Pragmatic Sanction of 1549. His son, King Philip II of Spain, inherited these provinces on Charles' abdication in 1555. But this actually meant that he assumed the feudal title of each individual province, as Duke of Brabant, Count of Holland etc. There never was a single, unified state of the Netherlands, though the provinces were all represented in the States General of the Netherlands, since the Great Charter or Privilege of Mary of Burgundy of 10 February 1477.
In the Dutch Revolt, from 1568 several of these provinces rose in rebellion against Philip. At first they pretended just to have revolted against his viceroys, successively the Duke of Alba, Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens, John of Austria, and the Duke of Parma, while the stadtholders appointed by the provincial estates continued to pretend they represented Philip. This pretence was wearing thin, however, by the time of the Pacification of Ghent in 1576. When Don Juan attacked Antwerp and Namur in 1577, the States General, as the provincial estates did with the non-royalist stadtholders, appointed Archduke Matthias, Philip's nephew, as viceroy, without Philip's consent.[note 1] Matthias was young and inexperienced, and brought no resources of his own to the battle with Philip. This became a serious problem, after the Duke of Parma started to make serious inroads against the tenuous unity of the Pacification with his Union of Arras of a number of southern Provinces, which the rebellious northern provinces answered with their own Union of Utrecht, both in 1579. Each union formed its own Estates General. William the Silent, the leader of the Dutch Revolt, therefore decided that the rebellious Netherlands should look for an overlord who could bring useful foreign allies. Francis, Duke of Anjou, the younger brother and heir-presumptive of King Henry III of France, was such a man. He did not wish to be someone else's viceroy, especially not of the Habsburg king. The rebel States General therefore offered him the sovereignty of the Netherlands, which he accepted by the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours. (Holland and Zeeland did not join in the offer.) Meanwhile, Matthias was bought off with a generous annuity.
This, however, presented a problem: the magistrates of the cities and rural areas, and the provincial states themselves, had sworn allegiance to Philip. Oaths of allegiance were taken very seriously during this era. As long as the conflict with Philip could be glossed over these magistrates could pretend to remain loyal to the king, but if a new sovereign was recognised, they had to make a choice. The rebellious States General decided on 14 June 1581 to officially declare the throne vacant, because of Philip's behaviour, hence the Dutch name for the Act of Abjuration: "Plakkaat van Verlatinghe", which may be translated as "Placard[note 2] of Desertion." This referred not to desertion of Philip by his subjects, but rather, to a suggested desertion of the Dutch "flock" by their malevolent "shepherd," Philip.
A committee of four members – Andries Hessels, greffier (secretary) of the States of Brabant; Jacques Tayaert, pensionary of the city of Ghent; Jacob Valcke, pensionary of the city of Ter Goes (now Goes); and Pieter van Dieven (also known as Petrus Divaeus), pensionary of the city of Mechelen – was charged with drafting what was to become the Act of Abjuration. The Act prohibited the use of the name and seal of Philip in all legal matters, and of his name or arms in minting coins. It gave authority to the Councils of the provinces to henceforth issue the commissions of magistrates. The Act relieved all magistrates of their previous oaths of allegiance to Philip, and prescribed a new oath of allegiance to the States of the province in which they served, according to a form prescribed by the States General.[note 3] The actual draft seems to have been written by an audiencier[note 4] of the States General, Jan van Asseliers.
The Act was remarkable for its extensive Preamble, which took the form of an ideological justification, phrased as an indictment (a detailed list of grievances) of King Philip. This form, to which the American Declaration of Independence bears striking resemblance, has given rise to speculations that Thomas Jefferson, when he was writing the latter, was at least partly inspired by the Act of Abjuration.
The Preamble was based on Vindiciae contra tyrannos by Philippe de Mornay, and other works of monarchomachs may have been sources of inspiration also. The rebels, in their appeal to public opinion, may have thought it more important to quote "authoritative" sources and refer to "ancient rights" they wished to defend. By deposing a ruler for having violated the social contract with his subjects, they were the first to apply these theoretical ideas. Historian Pieter Geyl described the Act of Abjuration as a "rather splendid, albeit late, expression of the sturdy medieval tradition of liberty," and noted that while the principles expressed in the act were derived from Calvinism, the document lacked a purely religious argument.
In order of appearance, these provinces are mentioned in the declaration: the Duchies of Brabant and Guelders, the Counties of Flanders, Holland and Zeeland, and the Lordships of Frisia, Mechelen and Utrecht. The provinces of Overijssel (which included Drenthe) and Groningen also seceded but are not separately mentioned as they strictly speaking were not separate entities but parts of Utrecht and Guelders, respectively. Large parts of Flanders and Brabant were later occupied again by the Spanish king.
Many magistrates refused to take the new oath and preferred to resign from their offices. The Act therefore had the consequence of bringing about a wholesale change in the political makeup of many rebellious cities in the Netherlands, strengthening the radicals. Philip, of course, did not recognise the Act, nor the sovereignty of the Duke of Anjou.[note 5] The Duke himself was not satisfied with his limited powers and he made an attempt to subjugate a number of cities, including Antwerp; the latter instead attacked his forces in what became known as the French Fury. This caused the States General to start looking for a different sovereign. After a first attempt to interest Elizabeth I of England in assuming sovereignty did not succeed, William the Silent was asked to assume the "vacant" title of Count of Holland, but he was assassinated in 1584, before the arrangements could be finalised. After the Treaty of Nonsuch Elizabeth agreed to send aid to the Dutch rebels after all, though without assuming sovereignty. Under the provisions of the treaty, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester was appointed Governor-General of the Netherlands. However, like the "reign" of the Duke of Anjou, this proved to be a disappointment. After Leicester's departure in 1587 the States General decided to assume sovereignty themselves, thereby making the seven[note 6] United Provinces a republic.
Year 1581 (MDLXXXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar, and a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Proleptic Gregorian calendar.County of Flanders
The County of Flanders (Dutch: Graafschap Vlaanderen, French: Comté de Flandre) was a historic territory in the Low Countries.
From 862 onwards the Counts of Flanders were one of the original twelve peers of the Kingdom of France. For centuries their estates around the cities of Ghent, Bruges and Ypres formed one of the most affluent regions in Europe.
Up to 1477, the area under French suzerainty was located west of the Scheldt River and was called "Royal Flanders" (Dutch: Kroon-Vlaanderen, French: Flandre royale). Aside from this the Counts of Flanders from the 11th century on also held land east of the river as a fief of the Holy Roman Empire, an area called "Imperial Flanders" (Rijks-Vlaanderen or Flandre impériale). Part of the Burgundian Netherlands from 1384, the county was finally removed from French to Imperial control after the Peace of Madrid in 1526 and the Peace of Ladies in 1529.
In 1795 the remaining territory within the Austrian Netherlands was incorporated by the French First Republic and passed to the newly established United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. The former County of Flanders, except for French Flanders, is the only part of the medieval French kingdom that is not part of modern-day France.County of Holland
The County of Holland was a State of the Holy Roman Empire and from 1432 part of the Burgundian Netherlands, from 1482 part of the Habsburg Netherlands and from 1648 onward the leading province of the Dutch Republic, of which it remained a part until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. The territory of the County of Holland corresponds roughly with the current provinces of North Holland and South Holland in the Netherlands.De Materie
De Materie (Matter) is a four-part vocal and orchestral work by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, written over the period 1984 to 1988. Robert Wilson directed the first staging of the work on 1 June 1989 at the Muziektheater, Amsterdam, with James Doing, Wendy Hill, Beppie Blankert and Marjon Brandsma as the soloists at the premiere. In the US, Part II of the work, "Hadewijch", was performed at the Tanglewood Festival in 1994. The complete work received its first US performance in 2004 at Lincoln Center, New York City. "Hadewijch" received its UK premiere at the 1993 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. The UK premiere of the full work was at the Meltdown Festival in 1994.The work incorporates eclectic musical influences, ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach and Igor Stravinsky to the old Netherlands chanson "L'homme armé" and 20th-century boogie-woogie. The work opens with 144 iterations of the same chord played fortissimo (very loud) and features an extended solo for two large metal boxes played with hammers. The texts are both sung and spoken. The four sections of the work incorporate various texts, with the dates of composition of each section in parentheses:
Part I ("De Materie", 1986–1987): the 1581 Plakkaat van Verlatinge (Act of Abjuration), with a text on shipbuilding by Nicolaes Witsen and the Idea Physicæ of David van Goorle
Part II ("Hadewijch", 1987–1988): Zevende Visioen (Seventh Vision) by Hadewijch
Part III ("'De Stijl", 1984–1985): text from The Principles of Plastic Mathematics by M. H. J. Schoenmaekers, along with quotes by M. van Domselaer-Middelkoop about his friend, the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian
Part IV (untitled): excerpts from two sonnets by Willem Kloos, along with a passage from the diary of Marie Curie and her Nobel Prize speechDeclaration of independence
A declaration of independence or declaration of statehood is an assertion by a defined territory that it is independent and constitutes a state. Such places are usually declared from part or all of the territory of another nation or failed nation, or are breakaway territories from within the larger state. In 2010, the UN's International Court of Justice ruled in an advisory opinion in Kosovo that "International law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence", though the state from which the territory wishes to secede may regard the declaration as rebellion, which may lead to a war of independence or a constitutional settlement to resolve the crisis.Delft
Delft ([dɛlft] (listen)) is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.
Delft is a popular tourist attraction in the country. It is home to Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), regarded as center of technological research and development in the Netherlands, Delft Blue pottery and the currently reigning House of Orange-Nassau. Historically, Delft played a highly influential role in the Dutch Golden Age. Delft has a special place in the history of microbiology. In terms of science and technology, thanks to the pioneering contributions of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and Martinus Beijerinck, Delft can be considered to be the true birthplace of microbiology, with its several sub-disciplines such as bacteriology, protozoology, and virology.Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic or United Provinces was a republic that existed from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces (which earlier seceded from Spanish rule) until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. It was the predecessor state of the modern Netherlands and the first nation state of the Dutch people.Dutch Revolt
The Dutch Revolt (1568–1648) was the revolt of the northern, largely Protestant Seven Provinces of the Low Countries against the rule of the Roman Catholic Habsburg King Philip II of Spain, hereditary ruler of the provinces. The northern provinces (Netherlands) eventually separated from the southern provinces (present-day Belgium and Luxembourg), which continued under Habsburg Spain until 1714.
The religious "clash of cultures" built up gradually but inexorably into outbursts of violence against the perceived repression of the Habsburg Crown. These tensions led to the formation of the independent Dutch Republic, whose first leader was William the Silent (William of Orange), followed by several of his descendants and relations. This revolt was one of the first successful secessions in Europe, and led to one of the first European republics of the modern era, the United Provinces.
King Philip was initially successful in suppressing the rebellion. In 1572, however, the rebels captured Brielle and the rebellion resurged. The northern provinces became independent, first in 1581 de facto, and in 1648 de jure. During the revolt, the United Provinces of the Netherlands, better known as the Dutch Republic, rapidly grew to become a world power through its merchant shipping and experienced a period of economic, scientific, and cultural growth. The Southern Netherlands (situated in modern-day: southern Netherlands,
Belgium, Luxembourg and northern France) remained under Spanish rule. The continuous heavy-handed rule by the Habsburgs in the south caused many of its financial, intellectual, and cultural elite to flee north, contributing to the success of the Dutch Republic. The Dutch imposed a rigid blockade on the southern provinces that prevented Baltic grain from relieving famine in the southern towns, especially from 1587 to 1589. By the end of the war in 1648, large areas of the Southern Netherlands had been lost to France, which had, under the guidance of Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIII of France, allied itself with the Dutch Republic in the 1630s against Spain.
The first phase of the conflict can be considered the Dutch War of Independence. The focus of the latter phase was to gain official recognition of the already de facto independence of the United Provinces. This phase coincided with the rise of the Dutch Republic as a major power and the founding of the Dutch Empire.Grand pensionary
The grand pensionary (Dutch: raad(s)pensionaris) was the most important Dutch official during the time of the United Provinces. In theory he was only a civil servant of the Estates of the dominant province among the Seven United Provinces: the county of Holland. In practice the grand pensionary of Holland was the political leader of the entire Dutch Republic when there was no stadtholder (in practice the Prince of Orange) at the centre of power.
The Dutch name raad(s)pensionaris literally translates as "councillor or advisor pensionary". Indeed, other provinces could also have a raadspensionaris, e.g. Zeeland, but only the one of Holland was considered by foreign powers to be of any importance, so they called him the grand pensionary.
The position of the grand pensionary was in many ways similar to what through later political and constitutional developments came to be a prime minister.Habsburg Netherlands
Habsburg Netherlands is the collective name of Holy Roman Empire fiefs in the Low Countries held by the House of Habsburg and later by the Spanish Empire, also known as the Spanish Netherlands. The rule began in 1482, when after the death of the Valois-Burgundy duke Charles the Bold the Burgundian Netherlands fell to the Habsburg dynasty by the marriage of Charles's daughter Mary of Burgundy to Archduke Maximilian I of Austria.Then known as Seventeen Provinces, they were held by the Spanish Empire from 1556, and are therefore also known as the Spanish Netherlands from that time on. In 1581, the Seven United Provinces seceded to form the Dutch Republic; the remaining Spanish Southern Netherlands eventually passed on to Habsburg Austria. Finally, the Austrian Netherlands were annexed by the French First Republic in 1795.Holland
Holland is a region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used informally to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. This usage is commonly accepted in other countries, and sometimes employed by the Dutch themselves. However, some in the Netherlands, particularly those from regions outside Holland, may find it undesirable or misrepresentative to use the term for the whole country.
From the 10th to the 16th century, Holland proper was a unified political region within the Holy Roman Empire as a county ruled by the Counts of Holland. By the 17th century, the province of Holland had risen to become a maritime and economic power, dominating the other provinces of the newly independent Dutch Republic.
The area of the former County of Holland roughly coincides with the two current Dutch provinces of North Holland and South Holland in which it was divided, which together include the Netherlands' three largest cities: the de jure capital city of Amsterdam; Rotterdam, home of Europe's largest port; and the seat of government of The Hague.List of monarchs of the Netherlands
This is a list of monarchs of the Netherlands (Dutch: Koningen der Nederlanden). By practical extension, the list includes the stadtholders of the House of Orange Nassau since 1556. However, they were voted into office by and were civil servants and generals of the semi-independent provinces of the Dutch Republic and cannot be seen as monarchs. From William IV they were the direct male line ancestors of later monarchs when the monarchy was established in 1813 (first as a Sovereign Principality, but in 1815 as a Kingdom).Manifesto
A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual's life stance. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds.Sean na Sagart
Seán na Sagart (John of the Priests in Irish) (c. 1690 – 1726) was a notorious priest hunter during Penal Times in Ireland.
Born John Mullowney in Derrew, near Ballyheane, County Mayo, he began his career as a horse thief but was arrested and sentenced to death in Castlebar in his youth. When the Grand Jury became aware of his low character, they cut a deal with him in which he agreed to turn priest hunter to escape the hangman's noose. The 1709 Penal Act demanded that Catholic priests take the Oath of Abjuration and recognise the Protestant Queen Anne as Supreme Head of the Church of England and Ireland. Any cleric that refused was sentenced to death by the Anglican controlled judicial system.
Mullowney was a talented rogue and excelled at the activity of hunting clergy. He received £100 for the capture of an archbishop or bishop, £20 for a priest, and £10 for obtaining a hedge school teacher, and £5 for a priest in training; sizable amounts at the time. These men would then be executed if they refused to take the Act of Abjuration. Mullowney used the money to fund his heavy drinking and expensive tastes. One technique used by him was to pretend to be sick and close to death. He would then call for a priest to confess his numerous sins. When a priest would arrive, Mullowney would grab a knife hidden under the bedclothes, and attempt to capture or kill his confessor.
Mullowney was a deeply unpopular individual, and hated by all. He murdered with steady success until he had killed all but two of the area priests. The last two knew well who he was and lived in disguise. But Mullowney discovered one of the last two and killed him. He expected that the last remaining priest would attend that funeral, which he did, dressed as a woman. The priest's disguise did not fool Mullowney, who attacked him at the funeral. Unlike other priests who had been ambushed by someone whom they thought was dying, this priest was expecting an attack and fought back. He was able to hold off Mullowney long enough for a homeless man known as McCann to stab Mullowney and kill him.Spanish Netherlands
Spanish Netherlands (Spanish: Países Bajos Españoles; Dutch: Spaanse Nederlanden; French: Pays-Bas espagnols, German: Spanische Niederlande) was the collective name of States of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries, held in personal union by the Spanish Crown (also called Habsburg Spain) from 1556 to 1714. This region comprised most of the modern states of Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as parts of northern France, southern Netherlands, and western Germany with the capital being Brussels.
The Imperial fiefs of the former Burgundian Netherlands had been inherited by the Austrian House of Habsburg from the extinct House of Valois-Burgundy upon the death of Mary of Burgundy in 1482. The Seventeen Provinces formed the core of the Habsburg Netherlands which passed to the Spanish Habsburgs upon the abdication of Emperor Charles V in 1556. When part of the Netherlands separated to form the autonomous Dutch Republic in 1581, the remainder of the area stayed under Spanish rule until the War of the Spanish Succession.States of Brabant
The States of Brabant were the representation of the three estates (nobility, clergy and commons) to the court of the Duke of Brabant. The three estates were also called the States. Supported by the economic strength of the cities Antwerp, Brussels and Leuven, the States always were an important power before the rulers of the country, as was reflected by the charter of the duchy.
After the duchy of Brabant and all Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands came under the rule of the dukes of Burgundy, the States of Brabant became the host of the States-General of the Netherlands, who used to assemble in Brussels.
In 1579 and 1580, during the Eighty Years' War, most cities and States of Brabant joined Dutch independence declaration (Union of Utrecht and Act of Abjuration), but Spanish troops reconquered most of the territory of the duchy and restored Spanish Catholic rule (except for North Brabant. See also Siege of Antwerp (1584-1585)).
By the end of 1789, the States of Brabant again declared independence, this time from Austrian imperial rule, and, on January 11, 1790, they joined the United States of Belgium. All Southern Netherlands "States" disappeared four years later because of the French revolutionary occupation.States of Flanders
The States of Flanders were a representative institution in the medieval and early modern County of Flanders. Initially it consisted only of the Third Estate, with representatives of the three cities of Bruges, Ghent and Ypres. Around 1350 the rural Liberty of Bruges also obtained representation in the States.Turncoat
A turncoat is a person who shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party. In political and social history, this is distinct from being a traitor, as the switch mostly takes place under the following circumstances:
In groups, often driven by one or more leaders.
When the goal that formerly motivated and benefited the person becomes (or is perceived as having become) either no longer feasible or too costly even if success is achieved.From a military perspective, opposing armies generally wear uniforms of contrasting colors to prevent incidents of Friendly fire. Thus the term "turn-coat" indicates that an individual has changed sides and his uniform coat to one matching the color of his former enemy. For example, in the English Civil War during the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell's soldiers turned their coats inside out to match the colours of the Royal army (see Examples below).Union of Utrecht
The Union of Utrecht (Dutch: Unie van Utrecht) was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain.
The Union of Utrecht is regarded as the foundation of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, which was not recognized by the Spanish Empire until the Twelve Years' Truce in 1609.
The treaty was signed on 23 January by Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht (but not all of Utrecht) and the province (but not the city) of Groningen. The treaty was a reaction of the Protestant provinces to the 1579 Union of Arras (Dutch: Unie van Atrecht), in which the southern provinces declared their support for Roman Catholic Spain.
During the following months of 1579, other states signed the treaty as well, such as Ghent, cities from Friesland, as well as three of the quarters of Guelders (Nijmegen Quarter, Veluwe Quarter, Zutphen County). In the summer of 1579, Amersfoort from the province of Utrecht also joined, together with Ypres, Antwerp, Breda and Brussels. In February 1580, Lier, Bruges and the surrounding area also signed the Union. The city of Groningen shifted in favor under influence of the stadtholder for Friesland, George van Rennenberg, and also signed the treaty. The fourth quarter of Guelders, Upper Guelders, never signed the treaty. In April 1580, Overijssel and Drenthe signed on.
This leads to a general and simplified overview of the parts that joined:
the County of Holland
the County of Zeeland
the Lordship of Utrecht
the Duchy of Guelders
the Lordship of Groningen
the Lordship of Friesland
the County of Drenthe
the Lordship of Overijssel
the Duchy of Brabant
the County of Flanders
the cities of Tournai and ValenciennesAntwerp was the capital of the union until its fall to the Spanish.Flanders was almost entirely conquered by the Spanish troops, as was half of Brabant. The United Provinces still recognized Spanish rule after the Union of Utrecht. However, the Union contributed to the deterioration in the relationship between the provinces and their lord, and in 1581 the United Provinces declared their independence of the king in the Act of Abjuration.
The Twelve Years' Truce of 1609 essentially marked the end of the Dutch struggle for independence and a pause in one of history's longest running conflicts, the Eighty Years' War. As Pieter Geyl puts it, the truce marked "an astonishing victory for the Dutch." They gave up no land and did not agree to halt their attacks on Spanish colonies and the Spanish trade empire. In return the Spanish granted the United Provinces de facto independence by describing them as "Free lands, provinces and states against who they make no claim" for the duration of the truce.