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Another step, and a wide one, into the great stream of European history. The Lady Mary espouses the Archduke Maximilian. The Netherlands are about to become Habsburg property. The Ghenters reject the pretensions of the dauphin, and select for husband of their duchess the very man whom her father had so stupidly rejected. It had been a wiser choice for Charles the Bold than for the Netherlanders. The marriage takes place on the 18th of August, 1477. Mary of Burgundy passes from the guardianship of Ghent burghers into that of the emperor's son. The crafty husband allies himself with the city party, feeling where the strength lies. He knows that the voracious Kabbeljaws have at last swallowed the Hooks, and run away with them. Promising himself future rights of reconsideration, he is liberal in promises to the municipal party. In the mean time he is governor and guardian of his wife and her provinces. His children are to inherit the Netherlands and all that therein is. What can be more consistent than laws of descent, regulated by right divine? At the beginning of the century, good Philip dispossesses Jacqueline, because females can not inherit. At its close, his granddaughter succeeds to the property, and transmits it to her children. Pope and emperor maintain both positions with equal logic. The policy and promptness of Maximilian are as effective as the force and fraud of Philip. The Lady Mary falls from her horse and dies. Her son, Philip, four years of age, is recognized as successor. Thus the house of Burgundy is followed by that of Austria, the fifth and last family which governed Holland, previously to the erection of the republic. Maximilian is recognized by the provinces as governor and guardian, during the minority of his children. Flanders alone refuses. The burghers, ever prompt in action, take personal possession of the child Philip, and carry on the government in his name. A commission of citizens and nobles thus maintain their authority against Maximilian for several years. In 1488, the archduke, now King of the Romans, with a small force of cavalry, attempts to take the city of Bruges, but the result is a mortifying one to the Roman king. The citizens of Bruges take him. Maximilian, with several councillors, is kept a prisoner in a house on the market-place. The magistrates are all changed, the affairs of government conducted in the name of the young Philip alone. Meantime, the estates of the other Netherlands assemble at Ghent; anxious, unfortunately, not for the national liberty, but for that of the Roman king. Already Holland, torn again by civil feuds, and blinded by the artifices of Maximilian, has deserted, for a season, the great cause to which Flanders has remained so true. At last, a treaty is made between the archduke and the Flemings. Maximilian is to be regent of the other provinces; Philip, under guardianship of a council, is to govern Flanders. Moreover, a congress of all the provinces is to be summoned annually, to provide for the general welfare. Maximilian signs and swears to the treaty on the 16th May, 1488. He swears, also, to dismiss all foreign troops within four days. Giving hostages for his fidelity, he is set at liberty. What are oaths and hostages when prerogative, and the people are contending? Emperor Frederic sends to his son an army under the Duke of Saxony. The oaths are broken, the hostages left to their fate. The struggle lasts a year, but, at the end of it, the Flemings are subdued. What could a single province effect, when its sister states, even liberty- loving Holland, had basely abandoned the common cause? A new treaty is made, (Oct.1489). Maximilian obtains uncontrolled guardianship of his son, absolute dominion over Flanders and the other provinces. The insolent burghers are severely punished for remembering that they had been freemen. The magistrates of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres, in black garments, ungirdled, bare-headed, and kneeling, are compelled to implore the despot's forgiveness, and to pay three hundred thousand crowns of gold as its price. After this, for a brief season, order reigns in Flanders.

The course of Maximilian had been stealthy, but decided. Allying himself with the city party, he had crushed the nobles. The power thus obtained, he then turned against the burghers. Step by step he had trampled out the liberties which his wife and himself had sworn to protect. He had spurned the authority of the "Great Privilege," and all other charters. Burgomasters and other citizens had been beheaded in great numbers for appealing to their statutes against the edicts of the regent, for voting in favor of a general congress according to the unquestionable law. He had proclaimed that all landed estates should, in lack of heirs male, escheat to his own exchequer. He had debased the coin of the country, and thereby authorized unlimited swindling on the part of all his agents, from stadholders down to the meanest official. If such oppression and knavery did not justify the resistance of the Flemings to the guardianship of Maximilian, it would be difficult to find any reasonable course in political affairs save abject submission to authority.

In 1493, Maximilian succeeds to the imperial throne, at the death of his father. In the following year his son, Philip the Fair, now seventeen years of age, receives the homage of the different states of the Netherlands. He swears to maintain only the privileges granted by Philip and Charles of Burgundy, or their ancestors, proclaiming null and void all those which might have been acquired since the death of Charles. Holland, Zeland, and the other provinces accept him upon these conditions, thus ignominiously, and without a struggle, relinquishing the Great Privilege, and all similar charters.

Friesland is, for a brief season, politically separated from the rest of the country. Harassed and exhausted by centuries of warfare, foreign, and domestic, the free Frisians, at the suggestion or command of Emperor Maximilian, elect the Duke of Saxony as their Podesta. The sovereign prince, naturally proving a chief magistrate far from democratic, gets himself acknowledged, or submitted to, soon afterwards, as legitimate sovereign of Friesland. Seventeen years afterward Saxony sells the sovereignty to the Austrian house for 350,000 crowns. This little country, whose statutes proclaimed her to be "free as the wind, as long as it blew," whose institutions Charlemagne had honored and left unmolested, who had freed herself with ready poniard from Norman tyranny, who never bowed her neck to feudal chieftain, nor to the papal yoke, now driven to madness and suicide by the dissensions of her wild children, forfeits at last her independent existence. All the provinces are thus united in a common servitude, and regret, too late, their supineness at a moment when their liberties might yet have been vindicated. Their ancient and cherished charters, which their bold ancestors had earned with the sweat of their brows and the blood of their hearts, are at the mercy of an autocrat, and liable to be superseded by his edicts.

In 1496, the momentous marriage of Philip the Fair with Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile and Aragon, is solemnized. Of this union, in the first year of the century, is born the second Charlemagne, who is to unite Spain and the Netherlands, together with so many vast and distant realms, under a single sceptre. Six years afterwards (Sept. 25, 1506), Philip dies at Burgos. A handsome profligate, devoted to his pleasures, and leaving the cares of state to his ministers, Philip, "croit-conseil," is the bridge over which the house of Habsburg passes to almost universal monarchy, but, in himself, is nothing.

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