The Compromise of the Nobility was a petition supported by the lesser nobles of the Netherlands
during the early stages of the Dutch Revolt
. These lesser nobles, also known as the Confederates, were almost entirely Protestant (mostly Calvinist
). The Confederation was formed in November 1565
to attempt to institute a relaxation of the heresy
laws that previous attempts by the Grandees (higher nobility) had failed to alter. These lesser nobles, or Gueux (Beggars) as they were christened by Count Berlaymont
, were willing to use violence as well as words to achieve their goals.
The primary members of the Confederation were John Marnix, Count Brederode, Charles de Mansfield and Count Louis of Nassau. They wrote a petition protesting against the heresy edicts and in particular the Inquisition:
That most pernicious tribunal, which is not only contrary to all human and divine laws, but exceeds in cruelty the most barbarous institutions of the most savage tyrants in the heathen world. For these reasons we whose names are here subscribed have resolved to provide for the security of our families, goods, and persons; and for this purpose we hereby enter into a secret league with one another, promising with a solemn oath to oppose with all our power the introduction of the above-mentioned Inquisition into these Provinces, whether it shall be attempted secretly or openly, or by whatever name it shall be called.
The Beggars attempted to win support from the Grandees and met with nobles such as William of Orange
who had previously spoken out against the heresy
laws. However the Grandees were unwilling to involve themselves with the Beggars. The Beggars decided to act on their own and on the 5th April 1566
around 200 noblemen entered Brussels
at their head and set the petition before Margaret of Parma
, the Governor General
They approached Parma with pistols on clear display and, despite the petitions protestations of loyalty to Spain and Parma, were obviously willing to use force should their proposals be refused. Parma had little option but to give into their demands. She relied heavily on the Grandees for her control of the Netherlands and despite their unwillingness to be associated with the Beggars they were however sympathetic to their cause and so unwilling to act against them. In addition there was some popular support for the Beggars and Brederode in particular, demonstrated by the phrase "Vivent les Gueux" - "Long live the Beggars" - and the selling of decorative begging bowls.
Margaret issued the "Moderation" commanding all magistrates to "discreetly and modestly" investigate heresy. This is quite a contrast to the previous harsh laws but it still required Philip II's approval and even then it was not as great a change as the Beggars had hoped for. The public meetings of Protestants were still outlawed however Calvinist hedge preaching began and the situation began to extend out of Margaret of Parma's control.
http://whatsaiththescripture.com/Voice/History.Protestant.v3.b18.html - "The History of Protestantism" Volume Three, Book 18 - James A Wylie
My own notes made in class
"The Netherlands: Revolt and Independence, 1550-1650" - Martyn Rady, Arnold 1987
"Years of Renewal: European History 1470-1600" - Edited by John Lotherington, Hodder and Stoughton, 1991
"The Dutch Revolt, 1559-1648" - Peter Limm, Longman 1989
"Philip II" - Geoffrey Woodward, Longman 1993