Heroic Holland!!

Heroic Christian Holland bankrupted the Spanish Empire and thus saved the entire world from the Spanish Inquisition!!

Here is the dictionary definition of heroic:

HERO'IC, a. Pertaining to a hero or heroes; as heroic valor.
1. Becoming a hero; bold; daring; illustrious; as heroic action; heroic enterprises.
2. Brave; intrepid; magnanimous; enterprising; illustrious for valor; as Hector, the heroic son of Priam; a heroic race.

One of the first nations to embrace the glorious Reformation of Saint Martin Luther was the heroic little nation of Holland. Holland is actually just 2 of several states comprising the Netherlands or Low Countries. As soon as the Netherlands or Low Countries embraced the blessed Reformation, they were exalted and very high in the sight of JEHOVAH:

Then shalt thou delight thyself in JEHOVAH; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of JEHOVAH hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:14).

One the most famous Hollanders was Erasmus of Rotterdam, who edited the Greek New Covenant, which Saint Martin translated into German.

Most people know the Netherlands as Holland or the land of the Dutch, so that is the name we will use for this historical study.

By 1600, In spite of horrible persecution, Holland was becoming the most advanced nation on earth. Leiden University was renowned for its learning, and Hans Lipperskey invented the telescope which Galileo stole and later used to "prove" his heliocentric theory.

Because of Holland's proximity to England, and the great increase of true Christianity there, it was the prime target of the Spanish Inquisition.

Heroic William of Orange (1533 - 1584).
William of Orange (1533 - 1584).
Reigned from 1559 to 1584.

Netherlands flag.
Netherlands flag.


Statue of William of Orange at the Hague.
Statue of William of Orange at the Hague.

William of Orange is considered the father of his country. He was the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years' War, and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648.

William of Orange was called William the Silent!!

William of Orange was also called WILLIAM THE SILENT and here is the reason why: In 1558, William and King Henry II of France were hunting together in the Wood of Vincennes. King Henry related to the Prince of Orange a plot to massacre all the Protestant Christians in Europe:

They appeared to receive still further authentication, at least in the eyes of William, Prince of Orange, from the circumstance that a plot precisely identical had been disclosed to him six years before, by Henry II, when the king and the prince were hunting together in the Wood of Vincennes. The rest of the hunting party had left them, Henry and William were alone, and the mind of the French king being full of the project, and deeming the prince, then the intimate friend both of Philip II and the Duke of Alva, a safe depositary of the great secret, he unhappily for himself, but most happily for humanity, communicated to the prince the details of the plan. Henry II told him how apprehensive he was of his throne being swept away in the flood of Protestantism, but he hoped, with the help of his son-in-law Philip II, soon to rid France of the last Huguenot. The monarch went on to explain to the prince how this was to be done, by entrapping the Protestants at the first convenient moment, destroying them at a single blow; and extending the same thorough purgation to all countries to which heresy had spread. William could not have been more astounded although the earth had suddenly yawned at his feet; however, he carried the secret in his breast from that dark wood, without permitting the French king to read, by word or look of his, the shock the disclosure had given him. And he retained it in his breast for years, without speaking of it to anyone, although from the moment of his coming to the knowledge of it, it began to shape his conduct. It is from this circumstance that he received the significant name of William the Silent. (Wylie, History of Protestantism, vol. II, p. 40.)

William was the author of the expression "loose lips sink ships."

King Henry II of France (1519-1559).
King Henry II of France (1519-1559).
Reigned from 1547 to 1559.


King Henry II was killed in 1559 when a lance went through his brain at a jousting tournament.

Catherine de' Medici—mother in law to Mary Queen of Scots—later helped engineered the dreadful St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.



Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589).
Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589).
Wife of King Henry.

Thanks to new world gold, the Spanish Empire was the most powerful in the world.

The Spanish Empire in the Netherlands

By 1550, Spain was the military SUPERPOWER of the world with unlimited finances from the gold and silver mines of the New World. Nothing stood in her way to eventual world hegemony.

In 1567, Philip II dispatched a ruthless soldier named the Duke of Alva, with 12,000 men, to subjugate the Netherlands, and use it as a springboard to conquer England.

Throughout Europe, the Spanish army was notorious for their ferocity and ruthlessness. It had taken them over 700 years to drive the Moors from Spain . . . and suddenly they were the most feared army in the world!!

Duke of Alva (1507-1582).
Duke of Alva (1507-1582).

The Netherlands was ideally situated for an invasion of England.
The Netherlands was ideally situated for an invasion of England.

The Spanish Netherlands.
The Spanish Netherlands.

This "Iron Duke" as he was called began a 6 year reign of terror in the Netherlands. On August 22, Alba, accompanied by a body of select Spanish troops, made his entry into Brussels. He immediately appointed a council to condemn without trial those suspected of heresy and rebellion. On June 1, 1568, Brussels witnessed the simultaneous decapitation of twenty-two noblemen; on 6 June followed the execution of the Counts of Egmond and Horne. The "Council of Blood" was the popular designation of Alba's tribunal.

Philip II ordered the death of all the inhabitants of Holland!!

On February 16, 1568, the entire population of the Netherlands—three million—was condemned to death as heretics, apart from a few named exceptions:

Philip next submitted a "Memorial and Representation" of the state of the Low Countries to the Spanish Inquisition craving the judgment of the Fathers upon it. After deliberating, the inquisitors pronounced their decision on the 16th of February, 1568. It was to the effect that, "with the exception of a select list of names which had been handed to them, all the inhabitants of the Netherlands were heretics or abettors of heresy, and so had been guilty of the crime of high treason." On the 26th of the same month, Philip confirmed this sentence by a proclamation, in which he commanded the decree to be carried into immediate execution, without favour or respect of persons. The King of Spain actually passed sentence of death upon a whole nation. We behold him erecting a common scaffold for its execution, and digging one vast grave for all the men, and women, and children of the Low Countries. "Since the beginning of the world," says Brandt, "men have not seen or heard any parallel to this horrible sentence. (Wylie, History of Protestantism, vol. II, p. 70.)

Ten days later, the Spanish King Philip II ordered Alba to carry out the sentence. In the terror which followed, the wealth of the prosperous merchants made them a particular target, and axe, rope, and fire consumed the natural leaders of Dutch society. Alba wrote to Philip coolly estimating the number to be executed after Holy Week 1568 'at eight hundred heads'. Alba is said to have admitted to personal responsibility for 18,600 executions during his six-year tenure—a plausible figure, but the additional number massacred with increasing barbarity by his troops is incalculable.
The siege of Haarlem

On December 11, 1572, the Spanish army led by Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, 4th Duke of Alba, began to encompass the city. Regiment after regiment arrived until the besieging army numbered over 30,000 men. The population of Haarlem was about 30,000, equal to the number of besiegers.

Map of Haarlem around 1550. The city was completely surrounded by a city wall and defensive canal.
Map of Haarlem around 1550. The city was completely surrounded by a city wall and defensive canal.


The besieged Hollanders put up a heroic defense of their city during the 7 month siege of Haarlem.

Even the woman joined the men in defending the city.

Famine alone caused them to surrender.




Wigbolt Ripperda—city governor of Haarlem—admonishing the citizens not to give in to the Spanish army.
Wigbolt Ripperda—city governor of Haarlem—admonishing the citizens not to give in to the Spanish Army.

Many a Spaniard wished he had stayed in Spain or exercised his cruelty on the New World natives instead.

Even the woman of Haarlem joined the men on the ramparts and sallied out to attack the Spaniards:

The population of Haarlem did not exceed 30,000; that is, it was only equal in number to that of the host now encamped outside its walls. Its ramparts were far from strong; its garrison, even when at the highest, was not over 4,000 men, and it was clear that the defence of the town must lie mainly with the citizens, whom patriotism had converted into heroes. Nor did the war-spirit burn less ardently in the breasts of the wives and daughters of Haarlem than in those of their fathers and husbands. Three hundred women, all of them of unblemished character, and some of high birth, enrolled themselves in defence of the city, and donning armour, mounted the walls, or sallying from the gates, mingled with their husbands and brothers in the fierce conflicts waged with the enemy under the ramparts. This army of amazons was led by Kenau Hasselaer, a widow of forty seven years of age, and a member of the first families of Haarlem."Under her command" says Strada, "her females were emboldened to do soldiers' duty at the bulwarks, and to sally out among the firelocks, to the no less encouragement of their own men than admiration of the enemy. (Wylie, History of Protestantism, vol. II, p. 92.)

Famine and disease finally forced the Heroic Hollanders to surrender.

Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, 4th Duke of Alba, led the Spanish besiegers.
Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, 4th Duke of Alba, led the Spanish besiegers.


On July 13, 1573, the city was finally forced to surrender due to the terrible toll that famine was taking on the citizens.

Most of the survivors were massacred by the Spanish soldiers.

Dutch print showing the massacre after the surrender of the city.
Dutch print showing the massacre after the surrender of the city.

The capitulation of Haarlem was a "victory" for the Spanish, but many more "victories" like this would leave the Spanish Empire BANKRUPT.

The assassination of William of Orange

The heroic defense of his country was bleeding the Spanish Empire dry, so the Jesuits resorted to assassination.

The Prince of Orange was assassinated by a Jesuit named Balthasar Gérard (1557-1584).
The Prince of Orange was assassinated by a Jesuit named Balthasar Gérard (1557-1584).


On July 10, 1584, the heroic Prince of Orange was assassinated by a Jesuit assassin named Bathasar Gerard.

This was the first murder of a world leader by a handgun.




Tomb of William of Orange in the city of Delft.
Tomb of William of Orange in the city of Delft.

The resistance of the Prince of Orange to Spanish tyranny was causing the Spanish Empire to go BANKRUPT.

The Dutch foiled the "Invincible" Armada!!

The basic plan of the "Invincible" Armada was to sail up the English Channel and rendezvous with the Duke of Parma in the Netherlands. Then the combined fleets would cross the Channel and the invasion of England would be a cakewalk. . . or so they planned.

The Duke of Medina Sidonia (1550-1615), led the "Invincible" Armada.
The Duke of Medina Sidonia (1550-1615), led the "Invincible" Armada.


The basic strategy of the "Invincible" Armada was that Medina Sidonia and the Duke of Parma would shake hands in the Netherlands.

Then they expected to cross into England, dethrone Queen Elizabeth, and return the land to Rome.




The Duke of Parma (1545-1592), led the invasion force in the Netherlands.
The Duke of Parma (1545-1592), led the invasion force in the Netherlands.


The ships were filled with fanatical Jesuits . . . and racks, pulleys, thumbscrews, iron virgins, gridirons and other diabolical instruments of torture to be used once the Spanish Inquisition was set up in England:

All the while, Parma was as desirous to be on the scene of action as Medina Sidonia was to have him there. The duke had assembled a mighty force. One of his regiments was accounted the finest known in the history of war, and had excited great admiration on its march from Naples to the Netherlands, by its engraved arms and gilded corslets, as well as its martial bearing. A numerous fleet as we have already said, of flat bottomed vessels was ready to carry this powerful host across to England. But one thing was wanting, and its absence rendered all these vast preparations fruitless. Parma needed an open door from his harbours to the sea, and the Dutch took care not to leave him one. They drew a line of warships along the Netherlands coast, and Parma, with his sailors and soldiers, was imprisoned in his own ports. It was strange that this had not been foreseen and provided against. The oversight reveals the working of a Hand powerful enough by its slightest touches to defeat the wisest schemes and crush the mightiest combinations of man. (Wylie, History of Protestantism, vol. II, p. 445.)

Thanks to the Dutch, the rendezvous of the Invincible Armada with the Duke of Parma never took place.

Coastal sailing barges of the kind gathered by Parma for the invasion of England.
Coastal sailing barges of the kind gathered by Parma for the invasion of England.

The Dutch foiled the attempts of the Spanish fleet to link up with the Duke of Parma.

Dutch warships blockaded the coast and Parma was unable to join with the rest of the "Invincible" Armada.
Dutch warships blockaded the coast and Parma was unable to join with the rest of the "Invincible" Armada.

The gallant Dutch foiled the invasion attempt of the "Invincible Armada:"

While Howard and Drake held the British fleet in readiness to oppose the Spanish Armada, that of Holland, consisting of but twenty-five ships, under the command of Justin of Nassau, prepared to take a part in the conflict. This gallant though illegitimate scion of the illustrious house, whose name he upheld on many occasions, proved himself on the present worthy of such a father as William, and such a brother as Maurice. While the duke of Medina Sidonia, ascending the Channel as far as Dunkirk, there expected the junction of the duke of Parma with his important reinforcement, Justin of Nassau, by a constant activity, and a display of intrepid talent, contrived to block up the whole expected force in the ports of Flanders from Lillo to Dunkirk. The duke of Parma found it impossible to force a passage on any one point; and was doomed to the mortification of knowing that the attempt was frustrated, and the whole force of Spain frittered away, discomfited, and disgraced, from the want of a cooperation, which he could not, however, reproach himself for having withheld. The issue of the memorable expedition, which cost Spain years of preparation, thousands of men, and millions of treasure, was received in the country which sent it forth with consternation and rage. Philip alone possessed or affected an apathy which he covered with a veil of mock devotion that few were deceived by. At the news of the disaster, he fell on his knees, and rendering thanks for that gracious dispensation of Providence, expressed his joy that the calamity was not greater. (Grattan, Holland. The History of the Netherlands, pp. 204-205).

The British would later show their gratitude by declaring war on Heroic Holland in 1654.
The Battle of the Downs in 1639

In a naval engagement entitled the Battle of the Downs, which took place off the coast of England in 1639, the Spanish were decisively defeated by the Dutch navy.

The Battle of Downs was fought on Oct. 31, 1639.
The Battle of Downs was fought on
Oct. 31, 1639.


The Battle of the Downs was a decisive defeat for the mighty Spanish navy.

It was then that the Spanish realized that they would need the English navy to do their fighting for them.




Dutch admiral Maarten Tromp (1598-1653),
Dutch admiral Maarten Tromp (1598-1653),
commanded the Dutch navy.

This victory led to the English civil wars and the dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell.

The beheading of King Charles I in 1649

Up to the time of King Charles I, peace and amity existed between England and Holland. The oldest daughter of King Charles, Mary Henrietta, was actually married to William II, Prince of Orange. This marriage between the Stuarts and the House of Orange cemented the friendship between the two allies and made war highly unlikely.

Holland was a big winner at the end of the Jesuit instigated 30 Years' War. The Spanish Empire was the big loser, and the tiny Dutch Republic was replacing Spain as mistress of the seas.

From January 1631, Charles I of England engaged in a number of secret agreements with Spain, directed against Dutch sea power. He also embarked on a major program of naval construction, enforcing ship money to built such prestige vessels as HMS Sovereign of the Seas. Charles's policy was not very successful however. Fearing to endanger his good relations with the powerful Dutch stadtholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, his assistance to Spain limited itself to allowing Habsburg troops on their way to Dunkirk to employ neutral English shipping. In 1636 and 1637 he made some halfhearted attempts to extort North Sea herring rights from Dutch fishermen until intervention by the Dutch navy made an end to such practices. When in 1639 a large Spanish transport fleet sought refuge in the English Downs moorage, Charles did not dare to protect it against a Dutch attack; the resulting Battle of the Downs undermined both Spanish sea power and Charles' reputation.

Obviously the king was not cooperating with the Jesuits in destroying the Dutch, navy so he had to be taught a lesson.

King Charles I (1600-1649).
King from 1625 to 1649.


King Charles I was beheaded on Jan. 30, 1649.

Oliver Cromwell was one of the signers of his death warrant.

The new regime completely changed English foreign policy vis-à-vis the Dutch.



Depiction of the beheading of King Charles I in 1649.
Depiction of the beheading of King Charles I in 1649.

The public beheading of King Charles I of England on January 30, 1649, took place on a specially erected scaffold outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall, in Westminster. One week later his body was buried in Henry VIII’s vault at Windsor.

The Navigation Act of 1651

Cordial relations existed between England and Holland until the regime of Cromwell. An act was passed by the Cromwell "Parliament" in 1651 called the Navigation Act. It was aimed basically at the Dutch who carried on a brisk shipping trade between the New World, England, and Holland.

The new policy was pursued with the fervour so characteristic of all new régimes. Moreover, when Cromwell soon afterwards rid the country of internal enemies, there was even less reason for fearing the Dutch. Charles II, defeated at Worcester in September, once again took refuge on the continent; Scotland and Ireland lay at Cromwell's feet. By October, Parliament felt free to pass the contentious Navigation Act which provided that all imports should be brought into England in English vessels or vessels of the country producing the goods. The Act was clearly directed against the Dutch traders; it denied them the freedom of the seas on which they had insisted throughout the negotiations at the Hague. Soon afterwards, the English government gave an even stronger proof of its hostility to the United Netherlands, when it issued letters of reprisal to the heirs of an English merchant, who was said to have suffered damage by the Dutch. These letters not only caused the Netherlands an unexpected financial loss, but involved recourse to a maritime law that had always been resented by the Dutch and had been the subject of long and tedious negotiations with the kings of England. To top it all English men-of-war began to search Dutch ships quite arbitrarily for 'contraband.' (Geyl, Orange and Stuart, pp. 89-90).

Cromwell went to war with the Dutch!!

Spain was the FIRST country to recognize the Cromwell regime....Cromwell declared war on England's faithful ally the Dutch. The first of the Anglo-Dutch wars lasted from 1652 to 1654.....Of course the Jesuits were DELIGHTED that the British were fighting for them and destroying the Dutch navy.

General Robert Blake (1599-1657),
commanded the English navy.

At least 8 great sea battles were fought between the English and Dutch:
Battle of Goodwin Sands
Battle of Plymouth
Battle of the Kentish Knock
Battle of Dungeness
Battle of Portland
Battle of Leghorn
Battle of the Gabbard
Battle of Scheveningen

Dutch admiral Maarten Tromp (1598-1653),
commanded the Dutch navy.

Most of the generals that fought for Cromwell also remained in the English navy after the restoration of Charles II.

The Glorious (Dutch) Revolution of 1688!!

By 1688, King James II was absolutely determined to turn back the clock (which only God can do), and restore Roman Catholicism in England. England was rescued from such a dire fate by the invasion of the Protestant King William of Orange. William III was the great-grandson of the heroic Prince of Orange.

The gallant Dutch could have left England to that dreadful fate because of their many wars against their country and colonies. As true Christians, they did not render evil for evil, but came to the rescue of the beleaguered country.

King James II (1633-1701).
King from 1685 to 1688.


King James II—a bigoted Latin Church member —was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and replaced by the King William of Orange.

The Dutch did not abandon England to its fate, but came to their rescue, even though England made war upon them several times.


King William III (1633 -1701).
King William III (1633 -1701).
King from 1689 to 1701).

King William granted the people a Bill of Rights which eventually became the model for the U.S. Bill of Rights. However, King William also charted the Bank of England which made London the financial capital of the world instead of Amsterdam.

The Dutch also planted a colony in the New World

The gallant Dutch nation was a leader in world exploration. They had colonies in the Far East, Africa, and the New World.

Henry Hudson (1570-1611).


Englishman Henry Hudson explored the New York area for the Dutch East India Company in 1609.

The Dutch founded a settlement in present day New York City called New Amsterdam.


New Amsterdam was founded by the Dutch in 1625.

The enterprising Dutch even had a colony in Brazil and would eventually have replaced the Spanish . . . and Portuguese . . . in the New World.

New York City was formerly called New Amsterdam!!

New York City—the greatest city in the world—was called New Amsterdam until the city was conquered by the English in 1664, and renamed New York, after the Duke of York—the future king James II.

King James II (1633-1701).
King from 1685 to 1688.


King James II, who was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 by Dutch king William of Orange, was also called the Duke of York and Albany.

New York City was renamed after him in 1664.

Aerial view of lower New York City.
The city was called New Amsterdam until its conquest by the English.

New York City was named after the Duke of York in 1664.

Heroic Holland helped establish Plymouth Plantation!!

In 1620, the first successful English colony in the New World was established by the Pilgrim Fathers in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This colony eventually became the nucleus for the United States, and is recognized as such by a national Thanksgiving holiday every November.

The Pilgrim Fathers found a refuge in Holland for 11 years prior to their arrival in the New World. King James I—son of Mary Queen of Scots and David Riccio, persecuted and imprisoned them. Only by the grace of God were they able to escape from England, and heroic Holland opened its arms of welcome to them:

City of Leiden where the Pilgrims found a refuge.
City of Leiden where the Pilgrims found a refuge.

The Pilgrim Fathers found a refuge in heroic Holland before sailing to the New World.


The Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock.
The Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock.

Holland had a United Provinces 200 years before the United States.....Holland was also the first republic in the modern era that began at the Reformation, and the U.S. Republic is modeled on that of Holland.

Vital Links


Brandt, Geeraert. History of the Reformation in the Low Countries. T. Wood, London, 1720. Reprinted by AMS Press, New York, 1979.

Geyl, Pieter. History of the Dutch Speaking People 1555-1648. Phoenix Press, London, 2001.

Geyl, Pieter. Orange and Stuart 1641-1672. Phoenix Press, London, 2001.

Grattan, Thomas Colley, Holland. The History of the Netherlands. Peter Fenelon Collier, New York. 1899.

Jardine, Lisa. The Awful End of Prince William the Silent. HarperCollins, New York, 2005.

J.W. Schulte Nordholt & Robert P. Swierenga. A Bilateral Bicentennial. A History of Dutch-American Relations, 1782-1982, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1982.

Motley, John Lothrop. The Rise of the Dutch Republic. Harper & Brothers, New York, 1855.

Roger Hainsworth & Christine Churches. The Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars 1652-1674. Sutton Publishing, Gloustershire, UK, 1998.

Wylie, J.A. History of Protestantism (in 2 volumes), Cassell Petter & Galpin, London, 1870.

Copyright © 2008 by Niall Kilkenny

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