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outside of the breastwork, listening, if perchance he might catch, as was not unusual, a portion of the conversation among the beleaguered burghers within. Prying about on every side, he at last discovered a chink in the wall, the result, doubtless, of the last cannonade, and hitherto overlooked. He enlarged the gap with his fingers, and finally made an opening wide enough to admit his person. He crept boldly through, and looked around in the clear starlight. The sentinels were all slumbering at their posts. He advanced stealthily in the dusky streets. Not a watchman was going his rounds. Soldiers, burghers, children, women, exhausted by incessant fatigue, were all asleep. Not a footfall was heard ; not a whisper broke the silence; it seemed the city of the dead. The soldier crept back through the crevice, and hastened to apprise his superiors of his adventure.
Alexander, forthwith instructed as to the condition of the city, at once ordered the assault, and the last wall was suddenly stormed before the morning broke. The soldiers forced their way through the breach or sprang over the breastwork, and surprised at last—in its sleep—the city which had so long and vigorously defended itself. The burghers, startled from their slumber, bewildered, unprepared, found themselves engaged in unequal conflict with alert and savage foes. The battle, as usual when Netherland towns were surprised by Philip's soldiers, soon changed to a massacre. The townspeople rushed hither and thither, but there was neither
escape nor means of resisting an enemy who now poured into the town by thousands upon thousands. An indiscriminate slaughter succeeded. Women, old men, and children, had all been combatants; and all, therefore, had incurred the vengeance of the conquerors. A cry of agony arose, which was distinctly heard at a distance of a league. Mothers took their infants in their arms, and threw themselves by hundreds into the Maas—and against women the blood-thirst of the assailants was especially directed. Females who had fought daily in the trenches, who had delved in mines and mustered on the battlements, had unsexed themselves in the opinion of those whose comrades they had helped to destroy. It was nothing that they had laid aside the weakness of women in order to defend all that was holy and dear to them on earth. It was sufficient that many a Spanish, Burgundian, or Italian mercenary had died by their hands. Women were pursued from house to house, and hurled from roof and window. They were hunted into the river; they were torn limb from limb in the streets. Men and children fared no better; but the heart sickens at the oft-repeated tale. Horrors, alas, were commonplaces in the Netherlands. Cruelty too monstrous for description, too vast to be believed by a mind not familiar with the outrages practised by the soldiers of Spain and Italy upon their heretic fellow creatures, were now committed afresh in the streets of Maestricht.
On the first day four thousand men and women were slaughtered. The massacre lasted two days longer; nor would it be an exaggerated estimate if we assume that the number of victims upon each of the last two days was equal to half the number sacrificed on the first. It was said that
not four hundred citizens were left alive after the termination of the siege. These soon wandered away, their places being supplied by a rabble rout of Walloon sutlers and vagabonds. Maestricht was depopulated as well as captured. The booty obtained after the massacre was very large, for the city had been very thriving, its cloth manufacture extensive and important. Sebastian Tappin, the heroic defender of the place, had been shot through the shoulder at the taking of the Parma ravelin, and had been afterwards severely injured at the capture of the demilune. At the fall of the city he was mortally wounded, and carried a prisoner to the hostile camp, only to expire. The governor, Swartsenburg, also lost his life.
Alexander, on the contrary, was raised from his sick bed with the joyful tidings of victory, and, as soon as he could be moved, made his appearance in the city. Seated in a splendid chair of state, borne aloft on the shoulders of his veterans, with a golden canopy above his head to protect him from the summer's sun, attended by the officers of his staff, who were decked by his special command in their gayest trappings, escorted by his body-guard, followed by his "plumed troops,” to the number of twenty thousand, surrounded by all the vanities of war, the hero made his stately entrance into the town. His way led through deserted streets of shattered houses. The pavement ran red with blood. Headless corpses, mangled limbs, an obscene mass of wretchedness and corruption, were spread on every side, and tainted the summer air. Through the thriving city which, in the course of four months, Alexander had converted into a slaughter-house and a solitude, the pompous procession took its course to the Church of St. Servais. Here humble thanks were offered to the God of Love, and to Jesus of Nazareth, for this new victory. Especially was gratitude expressed to the Apostles Paul and Peter, upon whose festival, and by whose sword and key, the crowning mercy had been accomplished, and by whose special agency eight thousand heretics now lay unburied in the streets. These acts of piety performed, the triumphal procession returned to the camp.
So ends the Story of the SIEGE OF MAESTRICHT.
BOUT six years after the Spanish Fury Antwerp was
again in peril of a similar massacre. The United Provinces had concluded a treaty with the Duke of Anjou.
His services, apparently honest in their character, had won for him the good will of the Hollanders, and he even deceived the shrewd intelligence of William the Silent. He had been formally accepted as Duke of Gueldres and Lord of Friesland ; had been ceremoniously inaugurated as Count of Flanders ; had been received at Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp with royal pomp; but his proud heart chafed at the restraints put upon him. He felt that he was but the servant of the States-General; he aspired to be an absolute ruler, and his religious bigotry was stirred within him at the toleration given to Protestants.
One night he sent for two or three of his intimate friends and consulted with them, after he had retired to rest, as to the best method of asserting his dignity. He declared that the position he then occupied was ignoble to "a Son of France ;" that it disgraced him in the eyes of all Christendom; and that he must either retire altogether from the Netherlands, or maintain his authority with a strong hand. This latter alternative was more favoured by himself and friends. It was arranged that possession should be taken on a given day of all the chief cities of Flanders-Antwerp, the duke himself would carry by surprise, resigning it to sack and slaughter; Catholic supremacy re-established and the Netherlands annexed to France.
Finding that his plan was approved, the Duke of Anjou leapt from his bed, and kneeling down, foreswore all the lusts of the flesh, if God Almighty would give him success in the enterprise.
A few days elapsed—busy days for the Frenchmen making ready for their treacherous work. Anjou under pretence of some military strategy concentrated his troops under the walls of Antwerp. But one night a man in a mask appeared in the Antwerp guard house and mysteriously gave warning that a great crime was in contemplation. His accent was French, but he vanished before he could be arrested.
Strange rumours flew about the streets, a vague uneasiness pervaded the whole population. A suspicion of foul play on the part of Anjou induced the magistrates and chief citizens to lay the matter before the Prince of Orange. He accompanied them to the duke's quarters, where Anjou met their suspicion with indignant warmth—“his soul as far from fraud as heaven from earth.” Vehement in his protestations of loyalty
' to the States-General, and of deep affection for Brabant and Antwerp in particular, a city for which he was willing "to shed the last drop of his blood,” Anjou succeeded in disarming all suspicion. He readily complied with their request, not to leave the city that day; and took leave of the deputation with every indignation of a man whose honour had been cruelly and unjustly attacked.
The circumstances which followed are thus graphically related by J. L. Motley :
Orange returned with confidence to his own house, which was close to the citadel, and therefore far removed from the proposed point of attack, but he had hardly arrived there when he received a visit from the duke's private secretary, Quinsay, who invited him to accompany his highness