The Tyranny of Alva: the creation and development of a Dutch patriotic image
In 1622 Jan Pietersz. van de Venne published a print, Afbeeldinghe van den ellendighen staet der Nederlanden, onder de wreede tijrannije van den Hertoghe van Alba (A picture of the miserable state of the Netherlands, under the cruel tyranny of the Duke of Alva; see fig. 1).1 It is a finely executed, and aesthetically pleasing image; but there is another good reason for examining it. The existence of the composition in five other prints and at least twenty-two paintings,2 produced between 1569 and c. 1650, all testify to its significance as a major patriotic theme in the Dutch Republic - if one composition were to be singled out as typifying the new state, it should be the Tyranny of Alva. Here, it will be seen that whilst the numerous variants of the Tyranny of Alva are superficially similar, the composition was in fact reinterpreted over many decades as the Republic shaped its history to suit its needs.
Turning to Van de Venne's print, four verses are shown at the foot, and the first of them sets the scene:
Hier siet ghy Nederland den dwingheland geseten,
In wreedheyt meer vergryst als door den tyt gesleten:
Hier sit hy in syn throon met bloedich tuych verciert,
Van alle man geruft, van alle man geviert.
Fig. 1 Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne, 1622: The Tyranny of Alva. Reproduced with the kind permission of Stichting Atlas Van Stolk, Rotterdam (nr. 25 in the Appendix).
In addition to the caption, a key identifies particular figures, commencing with the ‘tyrant’, Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva (A). Spain's finest military commander, and a councillor of Philip II of Spain, he arrived in the Netherlands in 1567 as Captain-General of the Spanish troops; on Margaret of Parma's resignation, he became Governor General of the Netherlands (Philip's deputy). Manacles, swords, and ropes adorn the baldachin over his throne. Antoine Perrenot, another of Philip's advisors, made Cardinal Granvelle in 1561, puffs evil counsel into his ear (B):
Granvelle blaest hem wraeck en moord-lust in de ooren,
En gheeft het loopend peerd met vollen toom noch spooren
Aen d'een een keyserdom (de boose Geest belooft),
Aen dees een Pauscken kroon te setten op syn hooft.
Thus the Devil proffers worldly power to Alva and the papacy to Granvelle. To the right of Alva can be seen Juan de Vargas, a lawyer who had arrived with Alva (C). He owes his prominence to his sinister role on the ‘Council of Troubles’ established by Alva on his arrival (and dubbed the ‘Blood Council’ by his opponents). The Council tried cases of heresy and rebellion, and Vargas was the harshest and most active of its members. Continuing from left to right, is Maarten Rythovius, Bishop of Ieper (E), confessor to Lamoraal, Count of Egmont. Next to him is Dr Louis Del Rio (D), another of Alva's advi-
sors, and a member of the Council. Peering over his shoulder is Broer Cornelis (F): this controversial cleric became a stock figure in Protestant propaganda.3 The figure with the bound hands is identified as Backerzeele (K). Though a scholar and secretary to Egmont, and a staunch Catholic, Backerzeele had in 1566 signed the ‘Request’ or ‘Compromise of the Nobility’ in opposition to Philip's policies.4 In the background, Margaret of Parma (G) ‘vist int bloet’, that is to say, she is fishing for the possessions confiscated by the Council of Troubles. Behind her, on the left, the Batenburg brothers, Gijsbert and Diderik, are being
executed (I); minor nobles, they
had also signed the Compromise. On the scaffold opposite, Lamoraal, Count of Egmont, and Philippe de Montmorency, Count of Horn, are executed (H). The unexpected arrest and execution of Egmont and Horn in 1568 caused a considerable stir in the Netherlands and beyond. Centre stage, personified as maidens, the Provinces kneel in chains (L). As the next verse says, they have been deprived of freedom, law, justice and power.
De landen ligghen (laes) geketent neer-gheboghen,
Van vryheyd, wet en recht, van alle macht ont-toghen,
Den Adel staet verstomt, de Staeten gantsch verstaeckt,
Zyn als door groot gewelt van blixems vier geraeckt.
Meanwhile, at the left the nobility of the Netherlands are ‘dumbstruck’, and at the right the impotent States (N) place their hands on their mouths, and are thus implicated in their own speechlessness. Certainly they are immobile, and powerless to intervene, as their feet have been turned to posts (‘verstaeckt’ is a pun on ‘staec’, log or pole).5 The Bible is cast to the floor (O), and the Privileges (M) are torn by Alva and scattered at the feet of the States.6 On either side, wall hangings depict scenes of torture and execution:
Men bant, men spant, men brant, men moort aen alle houcken,
Men vischt in 'smensches bloed, men treed op Godes boucken:
O heylich vader-land, denckt doch aen desen tyd,
En segh, hoe wonderbaer heeft ons de Heer bevryt.
The conclusion exhorts the viewer of 1622 to recall the terrible days of Alva's regime, and sets the fatherland's deliverance in an explicitly religious setting - the Spaniards' contempt for the Bible, the holy nature of the ‘fatherland’, and the wonderful and su-
Along with the implements of torture on the baldachin hang Alva's armorial shield, and from it the symbol of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which Alva also wears;7 in his right hand he holds a staff of authority. The Provinces depicted are Holland, Brabant, Zeeland, Gelderland, and Friesland.8 One of the badges is partly obscured, and one of the maidens holds a book, presumably the Bible. Two hounds may be seen among the nobles on the left, perhaps indicating fidelity. The scene has been set against a classical architectural background: the townscape behind presumably represents the Grote Markt at Brussels, where Egmont and Horn were executed. On the left of the print is a scene showing figures being tortured and beaten, and on the right, hangings, beheadings, and burnings take place. But these scenes are shown as wall hangings, pictures within a picture as it were, a step further removed from the viewer. Other important features include, at Alva's feet, a moneybox and a crucifix, references perhaps to the Tenth Penny tax and to the Inquisition.
Only three figures are not totally engaged in the events portrayed. One is the aged Alva himself, who gazes out of the image into another space altogether. A second stands with the nobles on the extreme left of the picture - but is he one of them? Instead of the rich capes, plumed hats, and broad ruffs they wear, he is modestly attired with a plain collar and jacket (and in a coloured version of the print is dressed in drab green in contrast to the nobles). He gazes out of the image at the viewer, and balances the third, a magistrate at the extreme right of the image. Between these two gazes, the viewer is ‘framed’ as it were: between the nobility, who at least gesture towards the powerless Provinces, and the limp response of the States. The confusion shown here conveys to us some of the dilemmas facing the Netherlandish elite when confronted by Alva's new order.
The designer applied a propaganda ‘spin’ to events with some of the details. For example, however colourful Broer Cornelis' career, he was not a serious political player in Alva's government,9 despite being depicted prominently in the print. Here he serves to caricature Catholic belief, in the style which Van de Venne applied to an earlier painting, his Fishing for Souls of 1614. Likewise Granvelle had left the Netherlands in 1564, well before Alva's arrival, although he remained in close touch with events there and continued to proffer counsel about the Netherlands. The group seen around Alva is not, therefore, a depiction of the leaders of his regime, but is rather (taken together with Satan and the imagery of persecution on the baldechin and so forth), a metaphor for it.
As for the Inquisition, and the controversy about the Tenth Penny tax, these were
both cardinal issues in the Revolt: already, by the early 1560s the former had for some time generated significant opposition to the Habsburg regime, whilst Alva's attempts at imposing the Tenth and Twentieth Penny taxes had roused bitter resentment by the Summer of 1571,10 resentment which would be exploited by the Sea Beggars in 1572. But whilst the crucifix at Alva's feet, and the ‘trampling of God's Word’, together with the spaarpot (moneybox), may refer to these issues, they are somewhat oblique references,11 even if we assume that the scenes of torture (on the left of the image, in the background) also invoke the Inquisition.
Adriaen van de Venne's work has been associated with the Orangist cause, and several editions of his print were purchased by the States General.12 The active patronage of the States implicate the image in the politics of the early 1620s. These years constitute ‘one of the most sombre periods in the history of the United Provinces’:13 as well as a range of difficult external factors, there were the increasingly apparent failings of the Contra-Remonstrant regime instituted by Maurits, together with the Stadholder's own failing health. These trials may have encouraged the Orangist Van de Venne to produce a morale-boosting image, and the States to give some backing to the cause. Van de Venne's design is thus a patriotic image suited to its age, a reminder of the aims of, and reasons for, the war against Spain, and of God's wonderful deliverance. The whole would have been especially acceptable to the Contra-Remonstrants, staunch Calvinists, and supporters of Maurits and the House of Orange. The quality and size of the print, the existence of a version on silk/satin (and indeed a coloured version, if it was contemporary with the initial print run) all suggest that it was aimed at the wealthy and influential end of what was a very broad market for prints.
But however fit for the times when this image appeared, by 1622, the events shown here were slipping from living memory into history. To be sure the conflict with Spain still raged (and indeed the end of the Twelve Years Truce in 1621 brought this home). However, Alva had departed from the Netherlands in 1573, almost fifty years earlier. The appeal to ‘remember still this time’ (the ‘cruel tyranny of the Duke of Alva’) is thus not literally demanded from the viewers, since few could, in fact, have remembered his regime. Nor, as has been shown, was Van de Venne depicting Alva and his advisors in any literal sense. Rather, he was presenting a concept of tyranny. Though inspired by historical events, the engraving is about the evils associated with Spanish tyranny, as much as an illustration of Alva's regime. Moreover the concept of that tyranny was already
Fig. 2 Anon., 1569: The Tyranny of Alva. Reproduced with the kind permission of Simon van Gijn - Museum aan Huis, Dordrecht (nr. 9 in the Appendix).
lodged in the minds of the viewers, created by numerous earlier examples of the same composition, and others in which elements of the design appeared, from earlier decades.
As is well known, the earliest extant example of the theme appears in a print bearing the date of 1569, during the period of Alva's Governor Generalship.14 (See fig. 2.) Although the scene itself is original, it may have been inspired by Heemskerk's print, Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (fig. 3).15 However, a far more likely candidate is a design entitled Submission of the Cities of Germany (fig. 4).16 Here, figures representing five German cities, with badges on their shoulders, and holding the keys to their towns, kneel before Charles V, who is seated on a throne; he wears the Order of the Golden
Fig. 3 Dirck Volkertsz. Coornhert, after Maarten van Heemskerk, Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Reproduced with the kind permission of the British Museum, London.
Fleece, is flanked by military advisors, and soldiers can be seen in the background. This print, dating from around 1555 to 1556 and attributed to Dirck Volkertsz. Coornhert, is a depiction of the triumph of sovereign power. But whatever its antecedents, the print of 1569 was almost certainly the original design for the overtly patriotic versions which followed.
There is no reason to doubt the date:17 it was obviously designed after June 1568, when Egmont and Horn were executed. The omission of some other topoi, popular in propaganda of the period, but which refer to events just after 1569, suggests that the date is correct. These are the infamous statue which Alva raised at Antwerp in 1571;18 the
Fig. 4 Dirck Volkertsz. Coornhert (att.), The Submission of the Cities of Germany. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Tenth Penny, which became a serious issue by 1571;19
and the amnesty of July 1570, which Alva reputedly announced from a golden throne, wearing a jewelled hat and a sword sent him by the Pope;20
no hint of these events appears in F.M. 518. The provincial arms provide a further clue to its date, although without colour it is hard to differentiate between Brabant, Holland, and Flanders, for all employed lions rampant. The first figure has the arms of Brabant (or less probably, Holland). Gelderland is the most northerly Province shown, whilst Artois and Hainault are prominent. The focus is thus on the rich centre of Habsburg Netherlands rather than the provinces which would in
the future make up the Republic. This again places its production early in the Revolt. The prominent group displayed to Alva's left is described as ‘Die blutige morderische Spanishe Inquisition sampt der gantze rhat und papistische hauff’, by which is intended the Inquisition, perhaps the Council of Troubles, and Alva's administration, a depiction appropriate to the time. As for the content of the print, Pollmann, in her study of the development of the ‘Black Legend’ of Spanish rule in the Netherlands, declares that ‘deze prent geeft een goed beeld van de themata die de propaganda in de jaren 1567 en 1570 beheersten’.21
Many of the most important elements, found in later versions, are present in the 1569 print: Alva, Granvelle, the Devil, Horn, and Egmont; two other gentlemen being executed; the provinces kneeling at Alva's feet; and the magistrates, hands on mouths, standing impotently by. The precious privileges are torn and scattered on the ground, and in the background are scenes of torture and execution. Yet, beyond these initial similarities, there are also striking differences between this image and Van de Venne's version. The prominence given to Zeeland, Gelderland and Friesland reflects a shift from the wealthy centre of the Habsburg Netherlands to the provinces of the new Republic.22 The cluster of nobles on the left of Van de Venne's print are not in the original. And if one looks closely, there is only one group of magistrates on the 1569 version, whilst Van de Venne has a distinct second group of magistrates, or other regent figures, in the background. Another notable difference is that the group around Alva are not named in the older picture. They include a bishop, and we might expect to see him named, perhaps the Bishop of Ieper, Maarten Rythovius; other candidates, such as Franciscus Sonnius, who was closely associated with the reforming of the bishoprics in the Netherlands, pushed through by Alva in the face of stiff opposition, could be intended. However there are no clues to the identity of these figures, nor can the identification of this group be reliably based on that used by Van de Venne, since as we saw he did not attempt an ‘historical’ portrayal of Alva's regime.
Moreover, the texts on the images bear little relation to each other. First, those used by Van de Venne have been included at the head and foot of the print, and keyed to the elements in the picture, whilst the earlier scene incorporates much of the text in the image. The 1622 version presents them in verse, in contrast to the simple annotations of the precursor. The significant and prominent statement about Alva being the ‘Rod of God’ is absent from the later print, which does however identify the anonymous fishing figure as Margaret of Parma. Perhaps most noticeably, Van de Venne's image appears to have been aimed primarily at the Netherlandish market, whilst the original of 1569 appealed to a wider audience, for apart from a few words of Latin and an address in Dutch, it carries prominent annotations in German, with a French caption, in smaller text, at the foot of the page. It is true that print making was an international trade, and
that prints with German (and certainly French) texts might be published in the Netherlands. However, if the choice of languages were a conscious decision - and even more so if they were carefully thought out, as might appear to be the case - it can be assumed that the designer had a German speaking audience chiefly in mind. The original image is therefore not a simple precursor of Dutch patriotic imagery.
Whoever designed the 1569 print had a good knowledge of recent events in the Low Countries and was most probably a Netherlander. The presumption of Dutch authorship is reinforced by the few words of Dutch which do appear, in the address, ‘Gedruckt Buiten Civilien Anno 1569’, which implies Netherlandish authorship.23 Where was is produced? It may very probably have been designed and printed outside the Low Countries by Netherlanders who had been forced to flee the country during Alva's rule and taken refuge in German lands (where Netherlandish stranger churches had been established). These included people with the skills and equipment to produce such an image. For example, Hogenberg (c. 1540-c. 1590) was banished by Alva in 1568, and settled in Cologne around 1570, where he produced prints illustrating the early years of the Revolt. He was only one of many Netherlandish artists who fled to that city.24 Other engravers were also abroad: Joris Hoefnagel travelled to England in 1568, whilst Dirck Volkertzoon Coornhert, arrested in Haarlem in 1567, escaped and fled to the Rhineland. The address on the print is not quite close enough to the Duchy of Cleves - Cliviensis ducat - to be considered a misspelling, but both Cleves and Cologne - Colonia - would make good candidates for the place of publication.
What was the original message of the composition, and to whom was it addressed? Van de Venne portrays an arrest, in common with the later versions of the image, including the paintings. Often the victim is named. Arrests, executions, and confiscations were certainly central to the work of the Council of Troubles, and indeed there can be no doubt that an arrest forms the centrepiece of the original 1569 print. If the gazes of Granvelle, Alva, the Spanish crowd, and the Magistrates are mapped, they can be seen to converge on one figure in the group. This noble (indicated by his sword, gloves, and breeches) is, in turn, engaged in an eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a figure with the long robes of a scholar or lawyer. The main actors - even Alva - ‘see’ this confrontation as the central drama of the event.25 Besides the obvious confrontation as the
noble is subjected to the gaze of the Spanish ‘mob’, two other figures have sinister import. They both carry swords which are too large to be carried in the usual scabbard slung from belt or baldric; hence they are carried under the arm or in the hand. They have simple heavy cross hilts with large pommels, rather than the embryonic basket hilt which was by then in common use, and long straight heavy blades. They are in fact not the usual military sword carried by gentlemen, but the type of sword used by executioners in the Netherlands and other Germanic lands.26 The victim is destined for the scaffold.
The figure being arrested might be intended to be Egmont or Horn. However, the artist has deliberately left him unidentified, despite his pivotal role in the image, and despite naming the nobles in the execution scene. Furthermore, the figure is not wearing the medallion of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which appears in many portraits of Egmont, whilst the depiction of the arrest is quite different from the arrest of Egmont and Horn as illustrated by Hogenberg, (which does show them wearing the medallion of the Order), and others.27 Given the artist's care in identifying other actors in the drama, the anonymity of this central figure is notable.
The careful handling of religious issues is also significant in this prototype: descriptions such as ‘Christian’ and ‘Evangelical’ would be acceptable to Lutherans or Calvinists. Although ‘Evangelical’ rules out Catholics, there is no criticism of Roman Catholic practice (for example, satirical depictions of monks, the mass and religious processions, all of which feature in other print propaganda attacking Catholic practice). Instead, the attack highlights the alleged papal ambitions of Granvelle, (who is chained to the Devil), together with reminders of the activities of the Inquisition. Among the victims, the execution of Egmont, a Catholic nobleman, is held up as an example of Alva's tyranny. The identity of the figure who is shown fishing in the blood of the martyrs for houses, barrels of coins and fine goblets (‘Des duc de alba confiscator fischt der evengelisten guter nach verfolgen seindt’)28 is not clear. It appears to be male, and, to judge by the hat, a cardinal, but in later versions of the theme, Margaret of Parma (dressed in similar clothes) is named as the ‘confiscator’. So the picture has a generally religious tone without being manifestly Calvinist or blatantly anti-Catholic.
A further and very significant theological aspect of the print was first highlighted by Horst, who pointed out that Alva is described, exceptionally, in three languages - French, German, and Latin - as the Rod of God.29 This he traced to Isaiah where the prophet has God say ‘Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger, the staff of my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets’.30 Horst set this key concept in the context of a contemporary understanding that the life of a people might follow a cycle of wealth, pride, downfall, humility, and restoration, noting this theme in other prints of the period. As for Assyria (which may be taken as an allusion to Spain), the passage goes on to declare that God will punish the arrogant boasting of the Assyrians: ‘Shall the axe vaunt itself over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!’.31 The passage then describes the punishment of Assyria and the return of the exiled Israelites, which would surely have been seen as a message of consolation by any of the Netherlandish refugees who saw the image.
It is important, particularly when setting this print among other, sharply political pictures which identify ‘good’ and ‘bad’ leaders, and adopt an exhorting or confrontational tone, to note that in this case the viewer's thoughts are directed away from action. Instead, events are shown in the context of a larger, spiritual canvas where Alva appears simply as a tool in a wider, providential scheme, related to the Biblical exile of Israel. Presumably, such exilic texts would have been familiar to Protestants who also found themselves in exile. In a secular age it is easy to overlook the deeply spiritual outlook of many of the those swept up in the events of the Revolt.32
The print's title or superscript emphasises its pacifist, spiritual nature:
Hie kan man warhafftig sehen, zur ewigen gedechtnusz alle Execution und verfolgung die der Duc de Alba gethan hat under die Evangelisten im Niderland von Anno 1567 bis auff dise Zeit. Gott der Allmechtig wolle alle ding zum besten wenden.
The civil authorities, the regents or magistrates, are shown dumb from fear, standing with feet turned to stone. The portrayal of the magistrates as herms, or termini, is striking, and may have emblematic significance. In the emblem books of the day, herms are usually portrayed negatively, symbolising ineffectiveness.33 Moreover, there is a passage in Juvenal which applies this ineffectiveness, as an insult, to political opponents.34 Given that the same passage refers to the Batavians, it would have been likely to attract the attention of Netherlanders, for whom the ‘Batavian Myth’35 had begun to acquire a special significance. Finally, we should note the conspicuous absence of the Compromise of the Nobility, William of Orange and King Philip of Spain.
Who might have produced the print? At first glance one is tempted to look at the circle surrounding William, or perhaps one of his sympathisers. The ‘politique’ tone of the print, especially regarding the religious elements, would certainly reflect Orange's views. As we observed, criticism of the Catholic Church is carefully selective - it is the secular power and ambition, not the practices or doctrines of the Church, that are attacked. Again, the focus on Alva would seem a useful ploy which suited Orange's public stance at the time as one who opposed the King's evil counsellors, not the King himself (and implied that Alva himself had designs on the crown). This would also explain the absence of King Philip from the print. The print is an indictment not just of Alva
but of the magistrates too: ‘Oberkeit ist in steine seulen verwandelt, ist stumm und mat worden; darfft nit reden um wegen ire guter’. Though the criticism of the magistrates might at first sight seem surprising, it could be interpreted as an indictment of the apparent timidity of the urban elites in opposing Alva's regime. For example, Orange was certainly disappointed at their lack of support in 1568, a failure noted by the Welsh mercenary Roger Williams: ‘at that time the people in general hated the Spanish deadly; in such sort, that for all the Duke d'Alvaes instruments, (but for their buttered hearts and phlegmatic livers) they would have opened their gates’.36 Nonetheless, the magistrates were drawn from a class who were to prove vital to Orange's future strategy37 (and as will be seen, the ‘Tyranny of Alva’ would later put a more positive ‘spin’ on their role). These
features might all imply a source within Orange's circle.
If the designer had a German audience in mind (given the language of the texts), could it be a ‘recruiting poster’ to draw military support from the German princes? If it was, the timing was not very good. By 1569 Orange had, for the moment, ‘shot his bolt’ (and run out of money), with the failed invasions of 1568: on 21 July at Jemmingen in East Friesland, an army commanded by his brother Louis was slaughtered by Alva's veterans; and William himself, who led an army into the Netherlands in October, was comprehensively outmanoeuvred in a series of skirmishes, until his force ran out of money and supplies and collapsed ignominiously. By 1569 he was reduced to travelling incognito to avoid his creditors - not a good moment to be seeking to raise mercenaries in Germany. Perhaps of more significance, the quietist and spiritual tone of the print seems out of keeping with the militancy of Orange's propaganda at this time. As the events of 1568 had shown, his supporters were ready, given the resources, to intervene militarily in the Netherlands for their perceived rights and privileges. The tone of the print contrasts strongly with at least some of the (rather desperate) propaganda produced by Orangists in 1568 to 1569, when Netherlanders were being urged to ‘restore themselves with violence and power in their old usual liberty’.38
It therefore seems unlikely that the print was designed to serve as Orangist propaganda, or to carry a secular political message, (which is not to say that the designer would have opposed Orange's political ambitions). Rather the image should be taken at face value: it aimed to record Alva's tyranny, and explains events in the Netherlands
as being the will of God, and given that religious standpoint, condemns Alva without appealing for action against him. The viewer is exhorted, in this interpretation of events, to trust in God who is able to turn all things to the best.
If this is the case, the message would have been extremely pertinent to one part of Netherlandish society in particular in 1569: namely the refugees from Alva's regime, many of whom fled to Emden, north-west Germany, the Rhineland, or other German speaking areas, and who had to establish a new life in exile. Although some found a welcome (among existing exile communities, or on account of the skills they brought), others did not. As an example of the problems the exiles faced, the situation in the Duchy of Cleves is instructive. The magistrates at Wesel had originally agreed to allow the refugees there to stay, but on 7 December 1567, the Duke of Cleves, threatened by Alva for sheltering rebels, sent commissioners to examine them on their conduct, origin, religious confessions and skills, and on 2 January 1568, he gave them until Candlemas to leave. Faced with a month's notice, the newcomers swore that they would be circumspect in matters of religion, that they were not guilty of rebellion or sedition against Philip II, and that they would obey the government. Nevertheless, only ‘by humble entreaty, by friends and by presents’, did they get leave to stay.39 Similarly, when Alva crushed Louis of Nassau's army at Jemmingen, there was real fear at nearby Emden that he would follow up his victory with an attack on that town - and although he marched his veterans south to deal with William of Orange's force, his administration mounted a prolonged and worrying diplomatic campaign against Emden which made life uncomfortable for the refugees there.40
The advantage of a print such as The Tyranny of Alva to refugees from the Low Countries is clear. The attitude towards religious issues is generally Protestant, but it eschews rebellion, there is no criticism of Phillip II, and its pacifist tone makes clear that the present circumstances should be accepted, rather than being a cause for action. The portrayal of a generic arrest, rather than the arrest of a specific person, broadens the threat of the Inquisition, already notorious in Germany,41 where anxieties went back to the Schmalkaldic Wars (in which Alva had played a prominent role, in the defeat of the Lutheran cause at the battle of Mühlberg).42 In combination these images might be expected to draw a sympathetic response in particular from Lutheran rulers. Above all, by studiously avoiding any mention of rebellious activity, clearly an issue in Cleves at least, the print allows the exiles to present themselves as obedient and innocent subjects. The Tyranny of Alva was conceived primarily as an explanation, made on behalf of the thousands of Netherlanders now in exile, to their hosts. In this interpretation, the unknown
Fig. 5 Anon., The Tyranny of Alva. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (nr. 4 in the Appendix).
persons responsible for the Tyranny
exploit their technical and artistic expertise to shift the climate of opinion in the communities to which they had fled, and to alter perceptions among the populations into which they hoped to integrate. This picture did not have an aesthetic role - though it is not unattractive. Nor was it intended to ‘illustrate’ an event - though events are illustrated. It was created primarily to generate and alter points of view, and deployed as a means to an end by refugees whose cultural background attuned them to the power of pictures.
However, on leaving the artist's hand, the image took on a life of its own, and the theme of Alva's tyranny quickly ‘escaped’ into a wider discourse, being taken up by print makers and painters. This can be seen in a particularly coarse print, F.M. 516 (fig. 5). Produced for a German audience, the emotive heading declares that it is:
Ein Wunderbare figur darin die jetzige grewliche Tyranney, verfolgen und elende sevitut der armen Christen im Niderland abgemalt so durch die Bapstisch Heyligh Hispanische Inquisition unnd der selben Executorn Duc d'Alba gantz Tyrannisch one alle erbende (greuleche dann dann die Turckenn) guebet. Allen frommen Christen zu betrachten sonderlich fur augen gestellt.
Fig. 6 Anon., The Tyranny of Alva. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (nr. 17 in the Appendix).
The image is the reverse of F.M. 518 and all the figures are left-handed, which confirms that it is almost certainly a hurried copy of F.M. 518 itself: and if digital versions of the images are created, and that of F.M. 516 reversed and overlaid transparently on F.M. 518,43 it can be shown to be almost a mirror image. The most obvious difference is the key omission of Alva as the ‘Rod of God’. Instead, the text reads ‘Den stul der Bebstischen Tiranney hat Besessen Due d'Alba durchs Bapstes rat’ explaining Alva purely in terms of papal policy. Events are no longer seen as signs of some greater spiritual reality. This is significant and repositions the image as a warning, rather than preserving the pacifist, explanatory role seen in F.M. 518. It would presumably play on anxieties felt in the German states at the time. The build up of Habsburg troops in the Netherlands under Alva might have caused great unease in Lutheran Germany, and the energetic Counter-Reformation pursued by Pius V, the then Pope (1566-1572), only served to heighten tensions.
Three other early prints employ the same composition. These appear to have been produced from the same plate, which was altered twice. The print in its original form is F.M. 515 (fig. 6). In F.M. 515b (fig. 7), the top few centimetres are missing, but some
Fig. 7 Anon., The Tyranny of Alva. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (nr. 16 in the Appendix).
attempt has been made to ‘tidy up’ the deletion, by removing the lower halves of the victims on the left of the image, replacing one of them with a window.44
A third, intermediate version (not in Muller) is extant, which has not been adjusted to take account of the missing strip at the top - elements are simply cut off.45
It is possible that this print (as F.M. 515) is in fact the earliest version of the Tyranny. However, whilst the date of 1569 (formed of a sword, manacle, and rope) adorns the baldachin over Alva's throne, it is not clear that this is a ‘date of publication’.
In F.M. 515, in its various states, the central group has been changed, and some identities given; but despite Vargas and Del Rio being named, it is unclear precisely what is being represented in the scene. Vargas is obviously central to the debate, but his gestures are difficult to interpret. Louis Del Rio, of mixed Spanish and Netherlandish parentage, was a member of the Council of Troubles. Significantly, the focus has shifted away from the group itself: most of the figures look to Alva. One of the group carries a heavy executioners' sword. The French text suggests that it was aimed at an audience in the southern Netherlands or perhaps France. It is true that the text is letterpress, and pasted onto the sheet bearing the print, and could thus be replaced with text in another language: but the prominence given to the allegorical figure of Artois suggests an audience from the Walloon provinces.
In contrast to the first print, this variation employs a theology at once both apocalyptic and conducive to action. Alva's ‘legitimate’ role as the ‘Rod of God’ is ignored, and in the subscript, texts from the book of Daniel are employed in order to label Alva as an ‘abomination’,46 and the ‘subject and vassal of Antichrist, inspired by Granvelle, the diabolical Cardinal’.47 Margaret of Parma is described as Jezebel in the text, the blood-thirsty queen of King Ahab in the first book of Kings. There is perhaps an attempt to link her to the story in 1 Kings, where Elijah tries to purify Israel by destroying the idolatrous prophets of Baal, and Jezebel reacts by making him an exile and restoring the old order;48 or possibly the reference alludes to Naboth, who was tricked by Jezebel into an appearance of treason so that he might be executed and his property seized.49 By combining references to idols,
the persecution of the ‘Godly’, the accusations
of treason and the confiscation, F.M. 515 looks at events from the standpoint of thoroughgoing Calvinists and of those who had been sentenced by the Council of Troubles and suffered confiscation of property. Such a treatment would explain why Margaret has been portrayed fishing in blood as the ‘confiscator’.
Whilst like the earliest print, the text attacks the magistrates for failing to oppose Alva, classical allusions are abandoned, and the language of the Psalms is employed instead - ‘Os habent & non loquentur, oculos habent & non uidebunt, aures habent & non audient & etc.’.50 Their inactivity is thus condemned, but becomes linked with idolatry. A new motif, the spaarpot (moneybox), at Alva's feet, labels him as avaricious, and probably points to the notorious Tenth Penny, and other new taxes (connected with Alva's urgent need to pay his troops), which were under discussion in 1569. With Egmont and Horn on the scaffolds are two victims named as Backerzeele and Van Straelen. As we saw above, Backerzeele's inclusion is understandable. Antoon van Straelen was an Antwerp merchant, banker, and leading magistrate, a major figure in the south, and his appearance is a further pointer to the origins of the print. The chair shown behind Straelen is a reference to his having been racked so severely that he was unable to kneel for the executioner.51 By shifting from the pacifist and almost detached
stance of the original, to an apocalyptic portrayal - from a vision of events as ultimately part of God's plan, to one with the inherent instability of revelatory scripture - resistance to Alva's regime is more easily justified, and the message is not so much an explanation of events, but an exhortation to resistance. Once again there is no clue as to the designer of the print, or the author of the text.
The gap between these early prints (which appear to be from the late 1560s and early 1570s) and Van de Venne's engraving of 1622 is interesting. Perhaps the composition did not in fact serve the needs of the rebel provinces in the earliest years of the revolt, and the complexities of the events of the 1570s and 1580s; or perhaps there were other prints of the topic but they have not survived. Elements did, however, emerge elsewhere: Alva on a throne, for example, in F.M.-RPK 518A, dating to around 1573, and F.M. 1373, c. 1619. Also, the scene appeared in paintings during this period.
Parts of the composition also featured on an engraved locket now in the Koninklijk Penningkabinet, Leiden (fig. 8).52 This is perhaps the most puzzling of the depictions. On the side marked 1566 is a scene of iconoclasm (which is very close to the illustration by Frans Hogenberg of 1570), depicting the image breaking at Antwerp. A figure, possibly a cleric, gestures towards some soldiers: but they do not take action, but rest on their pikes, and appear to point to the magistrates - who, portrayed as herms, are looking towards scenes of persecution. A noble kneels in prayer and receives a heart from heaven, annotated with the text ‘cor regis in manu dei’, part of Proverbs 21. 1: ‘The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord. He turns it where ever he will’. Could this be a sign of trepidation at Philip's response to iconoclasm, or an indication that God will guide him to a constructive response? A maiden with two children watch Margaret: the maiden, Misericordia, is a specific depiction of charity, which emerged in the late fourteenth century, as a woman suckling two children. (Conventionally, the opposing vice is Crudelitas shown attacking a child, possibly suggestive of a fear of retribution.) On the side marked 1560, there is a scene showing Granvelle - with a papal tiara, either above his head or carved on the chair behind him. It also shows a cat, wearing a bishop's mitre, worrying a mouse, presumably a criticism of the bishops. Other scenes show the ‘hedge preaching’, and the Compromise being submitted to Margaret, in scenes strongly reminiscent of Hogenberg's work.
Based on the themes shown on each,53 what is the connection between the locket, the early prints of the Tyranny of Alva (especially F.M. 518) and the prints of Hogenberg? None of the scenes appear in both Hogenberg and F.M. 518 - the topoi on the prints can only be linked via the locket. It seems most likely, then, that the locket was produced after the prints, combining elements from both, sometime in or after 1570. However, one side of the locket bears the date 1560, the other 1566, and the events portrayed clearly re-
Fig. 8 Anon., medallion, reproduced with the permission of the Rijksmuseum Het Koninklijk Penningkabinet, Leiden. One side (a) shows Granvelle and the bishops and Margaret of Parma, with the date 1560; the other (b) shows the iconoclasm, with the date 1566.
late to the period before the start of the Revolt in 1568: there is no mention of Alva, the Tenth Penny, the executions of Egmont and Horn, or of William of Orange, all of which might be expected to appear in an image of, say, the 1570s. On the other hand, there is perhaps a suggestion that the country was waiting in some trepidation for the response of Philip II; whilst the text ‘Vive Dieu la sante du Roy et la Prosperite des Geus’ (‘Long live God, good health to the King, and the prosperity of the Beggars’) might have been credible, just, in 1566 (as the expressed sentiments of some of the Beggars), but it rapidly ceased to be viable in the following years. The dates on the locket, and the messages conveyed by the images, might indicate that it was produced around 1566.
However, if the locket were made as early as 1566, it is conceivable that that the designer of F.M. 518 had seen the locket, from which s/he drew the role of the magistrates, and from which the diabolic role of Granvelle was developed. Likewise, the unnamed figure fishing in blood - which appears to be a cardinal but is dressed similarly to Margaret on the locket - lost its identity, because she resigned in September 1567, and left the Netherlands in December, and thus was not relevant. Hogenberg, meanwhile, drew on it for his depiction of the iconoclasm, and possibly scenes of hedge preaching and the Compromise. The overtly illustrative nature of his print series could not usefully employ the heavily allegoricised portrayal of the magistrates. If this surmise is correct, it would suggest that both designers had seen the locket, which may seem unlikely - or that there was another print circulating at the time which carried some of these themes, or that there were perhaps copies of the locket, which are no
longer extant.54 Whilst it may not be possible to date this locket precisely, or locate it in a chronology with the prints, it does demonstrate how imagery could emerge in media other than prints, and also how topoi could be reconfigured to convey different messages.
The Tyranny was also taken up enthusiastically by painters. At the time of writing, no fewer than twenty-two paintings have been identified. None of them can be dated with any precision and very few can be attributed with any confidence. It would seem most likely that others have been lost.55 In this connection, we should be aware that in general the remaining paintings from the period which have survived are only a small fraction of those produced. For example, there were in Delft in the mid-seventeenth century, with a population of twenty eight to thirty thousand people in around four thousand houses, a total of about forty to fifty thousand pictures, and very few of these remain.56
The emergence of the theme in paintings marks an extension of the audience both numerically and over time, given the more durable nature of the medium. The paintings can be divided into three groups (on stylistic grounds) in an attempt to track the progress of the image through several generations of Netherlandish political discourse. The earliest paintings of the Tyranny make a rather heterogeneous group.57 In aesthetic terms, they cannot bear comparison with fine art from the ‘Golden Age’. In the example shown (see fig. 9),58 certain features - the treatment of the weapons and the fringe on the baldachin, and the figures in the top left corner - mirror F.M. 518, although in other respects there have been considerable changes. The provincial badges in this example, if they are original, are those of Brabant, Flanders, Zeeland, Gelderland, and (part obscured) Holland. Since this directs our attention to the provinces that formed the backbone of the resistance until the fall of Antwerp (1585), this too might suggest an early date for these paintings. Another important change is that instead of just the ‘useless’ magistrates (bareheaded, with their hands on their mouths), we see a second group behind them (with hats, and gesturing with their hands). Likewise, to the left of Alva, a group of nobles is shown. In picturing these groups, some of the elite are consciously differentiated from the timid magistrates - by position, and by their animated gestures. This implies that some among the elite of the Low Countries voiced opposition to Alva's regime, and represents the emergence, identification, and acknowledgement in political discourse of a ruling group with an alternative to the Habsburg inheritance. As
Fig. 9 Anon: Alva and the Seventeen Provinces. Reproduced with the permission of Domain de Beloeil, Beloeil, Belgium (nr. 20 in the Appendix).
such the theme becomes a ‘consciousness raising exercise’ among those elements of the Netherlandish elite who had to invent a credible and robust alternative to the extension of Habsburg sovereignty. The depiction of division and debate is entirely in tune with the nature of power in the new state, which was diffuse by comparison with, for example, the more centralised regimes developing in the English and French monarchies. Finally, whereas the scenes in the print of 1569 are not located in any real geography (apart from some woodland edges), in these early paintings, a civic townscape is now prominent. Alva's regime has become less a diagram of tyranny, an explanation for the plight of Netherlandish refugees and perhaps a warning for whatever regime they find themselves in. Now it is much more an event set in a Dutch town, demanding a response - provided not by the useless magistrates, but by other leaders, who are now depicted prominently.
Second, there are a number of paintings which display the scene in a more classical setting.59 Some are not very painterly and have some unusual features:60 in one, Granvelle, if Granvelle it is, wears a turban;61 in another, the lithe hunting dogs often ac-
companying the nobles on the left are replaced by a very different hound.62 However, most of them are extremely close in all respects to Van de Venne's print, and usually show Holland as the foremost province, followed by Zeeland, Gelderland, and Friesland.63 The participants in the drama have settled down to a fixed pattern. Now, also, there is a chance to discover the artists: one has been attributed to Frans Francken II (1581-1642).64 In this composition the Tyranny has become a crucial episode in the historical consciousness of the United Provinces. The maidens, as befit representatives of a powerful state whose ships circled the globe, are finely dressed. Alva, from the harsh portrayal in the prints, appears aged and remote, in some cases gazing out of the image, and being himself subject to the gaze of the other actors. Whereas all eyes were upon the arrest of an anonymous gentlemen in the 1569 print, now most eyes are turned upon Alva. It is as if the Republic has created and then mastered its own past.
Finally, there are three paintings which are believed to be by Dirck van Delen (1605-1671),65 an example of which may be seen in fig. 10.66 The most noticeable feature of these works is the splendidly executed classical architecture, which in this example may be the work of Bartholomeus van Bassen. The groups of magistrates are pushed into the background, and what appears to be the Council of Troubles is shown, with a prisoner. Among the provinces, Brabant is set in the foreground, with Holland second. The tattered privileges and the Bible are shown at Alva's feet, and the words ‘Religie wert Vervolgt’ give a clue to the reasons for the Revolt. The persecutions - the racking, burning, and breaking on the wheel of the victims of Alva's regime - have disappeared. The executions of Egmont and Horn are present, but have receded into the distance, becoming an exercise in perspective. This perspective was created by time as well as space, since the events Van Delen depicts had occurred thirty-six years before he was born, and around sixty years before he painted them. The darkest days of Alva's tyranny, on the edge of memory when Van de Venne published his print, were now history.
How many people would have seen these images as the composition evolved? For the early prints, a conservative estimate might be around fifteen hundred copies for each variant (they were not particularly finely executed works),67 and each could easily have been seen by several thousands of people. Van de Venne was of course producing a finer engraving for a very different society, and he may or may not have limited the numbers he produced, but again, it does not seem unreasonable to assume a print
Fig. 10 Dirck van Delen & Bart. van Bassen: The Tyranny of Alva. Reproduced with the permission of the Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht (nr. 15 in the Appendix).
run reaching four figures. As to the prices of prints, these varied considerably: according to Riggs, Plantin charged 13-20 stuivers for his largest prints, but smaller prints could cost as little as one stuiver.68
Most of these prints are quite small (ranging from 24cm. by 29cm. to 42cm. by 57cm.),69
and if the smaller ones were sold, they would have been quite cheap. How would they have been used? The largest - Van de Venne's - was expensive, and was aesthetically pleasing and large enough to display in a public room. However, all the prints have to be held quite close to examine the smaller text and details (and the largest prints include a considerable amount of text). This, and the limited aesthetic appeal of most, suggests that the early prints were unlikely to have been hung as decorative pictures, but rather were treated like pamphlets, as ephemera, perhaps pinned to settles or displayed in taverns. But whether in a public room, or circulating from hand to hand, each print would have been seen by many people.
As for the paintings, if they were hung in public or semi-public situations, they also would have been seen by quite large numbers of people. Some were large enough to have been designed for public display,70 and could have been hung in the largest of rooms or halls, including perhaps rooms in civic buildings. The larger paintings are all
very close in design to Van de Venne's print, and some include the same text. Of the other paintings, it can be seen that many of them were of a respectable size and could be set in public rooms. The smallest versions, those by Van Delen and Van Bassen, express the events in a restrained and classicist style, and were probably produced nearer 1650 than 1600. They are small and appear to have been for purely domestic settings.
To conclude: the anonymous designer of the print F.M. 518 created an image primarily as an explanation for refugees from Alva's regime, a deliberate attempt to engineer a more favourable reception from their hosts. The scene was quickly exploited in another version as a dire warning to German states, and likewise, was presented in a very inflammatory interpretation, targeting the southern provinces of the Netherlands. After this, there are, as far as we know, no further prints of the scene during the early years of the Revolt, although some elements found an echo in other subjects, and the engraved locket may be linked with these early prints. The theme is taken up again in a series of rather mediocre paintings. These are large enough for public display, suggesting that the Tyranny of Alva had taken on a semi-public role in large rooms and perhaps communal settings, as a well-known and accepted explanation of the Revolt. Moreover, by the tailoring of architectural detail and heraldic devices, they could be linked to the locality in which they were displayed. Then, with Van de Venne's print in 1622 - or possibly an original painting upon which Van de Venne modelled his design - another series of paintings appear, again invoking the early years of the Revolt, but this time in a more Orangist interpretation, with a pleasing classical setting, and some ‘toning down’ of the scenes of torture and execution. Given the large size and similar style of these paintings, it seems the design was seized upon and exploited in a flurry of copies, to be hung in large public rooms, perhaps in an attempt to muster support for the war and for the regime Maurits had established. Finally, the image found a role as an aesthetically attractive vehicle for fine architectural scenes peopled with luxuriously clad figures. In these small and finely executed paintings, probably produced after 1630, the savage treatment of the victims of Alva's regime is
invisible. Now the perspective is that of a remarkably powerful, wealthy, and cultured global power which had mastered its own past. So, by 1622 the Tyranny of Alva as Van de Venne depicted it had already come a long way since its emergence among the refugees of Alva's regime - and, on a trajectory which its designer could never have imagined, it would serve to define perceptions of the Revolt into the seventeenth century and beyond.71
Abstract - In 1622 Jan Pietersz. van de Venne published a patriotic image illustrating the regime of the Duke of Alva (Governor General of the Netherlands 1568-1573). The article examines the genesis of the image in a print of 1569, and its development in the many paintings of the scene which were produced. This development is examined in the light of claims by some art historians, such as N. Bryson and K. Moxey, that such imagery is fundamentally a means of articulating power. Details of the prints, and of twenty-two known paintings of the scene, are appended.
||inventory number or catalogue reference
||provenance & notes
||Ooidonk, Belgium, Kasteel van Ooidonk (2000).
Bears sig. ‘Jan Molenaar 1671’.
||Delft, Netherlands, Gemeente Museum (Prinsenhof) (1993)
||Amsterdam, Netherlands, Rijksprentenkabinet (1995).
||Besançon, France, Musee de Besançon (1994).
||Brussels, Belgium, Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I (Prentenkabinet) (1995).
This print is found in three states. The first is FM515 (17, below).
The second is this one (7). It has the top few centimetres removed, but otherwise has not been altered to reconcile pictorial elements with the change. The third state is FM515b (16, below). In this final state some changes have been made to reconcile the details with the removal of the top few centimetres. (It also exists less the text, for example at Utrecht, Catharijneconvent, their ABM g209.)
||SV 75885 (FM517)
||Brussels, Belgium, Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I (Prentenkabinet). (1994)
||FM518 (AvS 409, SvG444)
||Amsterdam, Netherlands, Rijksprentenkabinet (1995); Rotterdam, Netherlands, Atlas Van Stolk (1995); Dordrecht, Netherlands, Museum Mr. Simon van Gijn (1995); Brussels, Belgium, Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I (Prentenkabinet) (1995).
||Utrecht, Netherlands, Centraalmuseum (1995).
||Brussels, Belgium, Museum Schone Kunsten (1995).
Identified by the museum as from the first half of the 17th century, inspired by Van de Venne.
||Ghent, Netherlands, Bylokemuseum (1995)
||Dirck van Delen and Bart. van Bassen?
||London, UK, sold Christies May 2, lot 155 (1953); Cologne, Germany, Abels Gemäldgalerie (1953); Utrecht, Netherlands, Catharijneconvent (1993).
Photograph of this painting at Warburg Library shows it in very poor condition, possibly from before the sale of 1953.
||Amsterdam, Netherlands, Rijksprentenkabinet (1995).
The third state (see notes to 7 above).
||Amsterdam, Netherlands, Rijksprentenkabinet (1995).
The first state (see notes to 7 above).
||London, UK, sold Roy Miles 1984.
||Brussels, Belgium, M. Faure (1835?); Beloeil, Belgium, Kasteel van Beloeil (1995).
||Eerde, Netherlands, Kasteel van Eerde (2001).
||painted on wood
|(iii), p. 108.c.
||painted on wood
|(iv), afb. XXX
|(i) p.21, (ii) p.50, (iv), afb XXIX
||painted on wood
||painted on oak
||painted on wood
|London, UK, Warburg Library has a photograph of this painting
||painted on oak
|(iv), afb XXXII
|(ii), p.52, (iv), afb XXXI
|London, UK, Warburg Library has a photograph
||Hoar Cross, Staffordshire, UK (c.1850-1994); sold to Christies, London, UK (1994); Berlin, Germany, Deutsches historisches Museum (2000).
Identified by the museum as c. 1600, Antwerp School.
||Middelburg, Netherlands, Zeeusmuseum (1995).
||Dirck van Delen
||London, UK, sold Christies, April 27, lot 28 (1901); Budapest, Austria-Hungary, Gustav von Gebhardt, Budapest (1901-1911); Berlin, Germany, sold Lepke, Nov 11, lot 62, ill. 32 (1911); Tancred Borenius (1911-1923); London, UK, sold Christies Dec. 14 lot 45 (1923); Sir Henry Howarth (1923-1927); Berlin, Germany, sold (1927); Amsterdam, Netherlands, sold Kunstahandel W. Peach (1953); in private collection, USA (1994).
||FM514 (AvS 408-II)
||Amsterdam, Netherllands, Rijksprentenkabinet (1995); Rotterdam, Netherlands, Atlas Van Stolk (1995) (Atlas VanStolk have a rare coloured version); London, UK, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings (1995); The Hague, Netherlands, Huisarchief s'-Gravenhage (1995) (this version printed on silk, their catalogue F.I. 11).
Believed to have been engraved by Willem Jacobsz. Delff (1580-1638) after a drawing by A. van de Venne, and published by Jan Pietersz. van de Venne.
||Information on rear of photograph: ‘Alderley Edge Cheshire, UK, H. Milne-Atkinson, “The Lochins”’.
||London, UK, sold Sotheby's (1974)
||Dunrobin Castle, Scotland, Duke of Sutherland, sold (1965).
||London, UK, sold Sotheby's, 12th December (1984).
||Dole, France, Musee des Beaux Arts de Dole (1994).
||Frans Francken II
||Bornem, Belgium, Schloss Bornem (1999).
||Dirck van Delen
||Delft, Netherlands, Gemeente Museum (Prinsenhof) (1994).
||Rotterdam, Netherlands, Bellstingmuseum (1999).
||St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, The Hermitage.
||Dirck van Delen?
||Rohrau, Austria, Schloss Rohrau.
(i) G. Pieken, ‘“Voor een' vryen Staet”. Die Niederlande, das Reich und “Tyrannen” in den Krisenjahren 1572 und 1672’, in: DHM Magazin 21 (1997), p. 1-52.
(ii) J. Tanis and D. Horst, Images of Discord, Rotterdam 1993.
(iii) M.J. Rodriguez-Salgada et al, Armada 1588, Harmondsworth 1988.
(iv) D. Horst, De Opstand in zwart-wit: Propagandaprenten uit de Nederlandse Opstand 1566-1584, Amsterdam 2000.
|(i) p.23; (ii) p.62 and back cover illustration
|Photograph with example of FM514 in the Department of Prints and Drawings of the British Museum (Foreign History)
|London, UK, Warburg Library has a photograph.
|National Gallery of Scotland has a photograph
||painted on wood
See F. Muller, De Nederlandsche geschiedenis in platen, beredeneerde beschrijving van Nederlandsche historieplaten, zinneprenten en historische kaarten
, 4 vols., Amsterdam 1863-1882; reprinted 1970, vol. 1, nr 514, and G. van Rijn, Atlas van Stolk, Katalogus der historie- spot- en zinneprenten betrekkelijk de geschiedenis van Nederland
, 10 vols., Amsterdam, 1895-1933, vol. 6, nr 408. Conventionally, prints such as Van de Venne's are referenced by their catalogue numbers in Muller and Van Rijn, which, though dated, provide the best introduction to the range of historical and satirical prints from the period. In this article, Muller's catalogue number will be used for clarity. All the images are listed in the Appendix, and the Appendix number is used in the text for images such as paintings which do not have a commonly recognised catalogue number. There are several copies of F.M. 514 extant, including those in the Muller collection in the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam, the Atlas van Stolk, Rotterdam (which has two, one coloured), the Koninklijk Huisarchief, The Hague (a rare example on satin), the Kongelige Kobberstiksamling, Copenhagen, and the British Museum, London.
In an article in 1981, Van der Zijp referred to five paintings of the scene and intimated that there were others: see R.P. van der Zijp, ‘Allegorie op de Tirannie van Alva’, in: R.P. van der Zijp et al. (red.),
Geloof en Satire anno 1600
1981, p. 52. See G. Pieken, ‘“Voor een' vryen Staet”. Die Niederlande, das Reich und “Tyrannen” in den Krisenjahren 1572 und 1672’, in: DHM Magazin
21 (1997), p. 1-52 for further examples. A summary of all those known to the author is in the Appendix, taken from A.C. Sawyer, Pictures, power and the polity. A vision of the political images of the early Dutch Republic
, unpublished thesis, University of Southampton, 2000. This can be consulted at the Rijksmuseum - Amsterdam, the Centraal Museum - Utrecht, the Prinsenhof - Delft, the British Library - London, and the Hartley Library - University of Southampton.
For the actual Cornelis Brouwer (1521-1581) and the satirised biography, see K. Bostoen, ‘Reformation, Counter-Reformation and literary propaganda in the Low Countries in the sixteenth century. The case of Brother Cornelis’, in: N. Amos, A. Pettegree and H. van Nierop (ed.), The education of a Christian society. Humanism and the Reformation in Britain and the Netherlands
, Aldershot 1999, p. 164-192.
A document drawn up and signed by leading members of the nobility in December 1565, and presented to Margaret of Parma in April 1566, asking for an end to the inquisition.
This group is split between those at the front - referred to by the line ‘Den Adel staet verstomt, de Staeten gantsch verstaeckt’, and a second group towards the back, differentiated by headgear, dress, and gesture, who are not mounted on posts.
The disregard of the ‘Privileges’ of the Netherlanders belonged to the stock-in-trade of rebel propaganda.
This celebrated Order included leading members of the Netherlands nobility such as William of Orange. Egmont and Horn cited its statutes in their defence, which claims were dismissed: see L.P. Gachard (ed.), Correspondance de Philippe II sur les affairs des Pays Bas
, 5 vols., Brussels 1848-1879, vol. 2, p. 3-4.
Without colour, the identification cannot be certain. However, taking into account the context of the print, and the shading the artist has used, a red lion on a gold ground for Holland and a gold lion on a dark ground for Brabant would seem logical. This is certainly the scheme followed by a coloured edition of the print held at Atlas van Stolk.
A satirical book about Cornelis was published in 1569, Historie van Broer Cornelis
with a second volume appearing in 1578. This suggests that he gained notoriety after 1569.
J.I. Israel, The Dutch Republic. Its rise, greatness and fall 1477-1806
, Oxford 1995, p. 167.
For the popularity of the Tenth Penny as a favourite subject of pamphlets, songs and images see J. Tanis and D. Horst, Images of discord
, Rotterdam 1993. In these examples the depictions are blunt: for example nine coins on a shield, with the tenth marked by a cross. By contrast the money box may ‘refer to the tax but could also simply point to Alva's greed’, (p. 28). The connection between the trampled Bible and the Inquisition is not obvious. Had the designer wished to draw attention to the Inquisition, he could have labelled one of the characters as the notorious persecutor Pieter Titelmans, for example.
Twenty-one impressions were purchased by the States General, paying 6.5 fl per impression; see M. Royalton-Kisch, Adriaen van de Venne's album in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum
, London 1988, p. 62, 124, footnote 163.
Israel, The Dutch Republic
, p. 478.
F.M. 518, in Muller, vol. 1, p. 77.
See A. Schryver and C. van de Velde, Stad Gent Oudheidkundig Museum Abdij van de Bijloke, catalogus van de schilderijen
, Ghent 1972, p. 208; the authors suggest that this print may have been inspired by Heemskerk's print of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, which can be seen in G. Luijten, Hollstein's Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts, 1450-1700. Maarten van Heemskerk, the new Hollstein
, 1, New York 1993.
See I.M. Veldman (ed.), The illustrated Bartsch, 55, Netherlandish artists - Coornhert
, New York 1991, p. 252, 070.11.
Horst, who has spent some time studying images of Alva, has concluded that the date is genuine: none of the other literature consulted regarding this image has questioned the date. See D. Horst, De Opstand in zwart-wit. Propagandaprenten uit de Nederlandse Opstand 1566-1584
, Doctoral thesis, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam 2000, p. 60-62 (which, with a catalogue and illustrations, provides an excellent guide to the material and literature about the early prints). I am very grateful to Dr. Horst for his assistance during this research.
The statue was cast from the cannon of defeated rebels, and showed Alva trampling Heresy and Rebellion. It caused something of an uproar-see Tanis and Horst, Images of discord
, p. 30 - being regarded as a symbol of Alva's contempt for the Netherlands, with the figures being trampled by Alva eventually being regarded as the States in rebel propaganda: ‘And where can we find a proof more certain, more notorious and more visible... than in that proud, ambitious, profane, heathen and quite ridiculous statue of him... brazenly treading on the bellies of my lords the States...’. A.C. Duke, ‘William of Orange's Apology (1580). A new annotated English translation’, in: Dutch Crossing
22 (1998), p. 3-96, spec. p. 56. The statue was removed in 1574 and probably melted down.
See for example F.M. 569A, which shows the statue and the placard announcing the Tenth Penny. It may be seen in Tanis and Horst, Images of discord
, p. 86.
The scene was illustrated by the engraver Frans Hogenberg (c. 1540-c. 1590) showing Alva enthroned with his gifts: see K. Kinds, Kroniek van de Opstand in de Lage Landen 1555-1609
, 2 vols., Wenum Wiesel 2000, vol. 1, facing page 66. See also F.M. 521a-d, AvS412, a series of four prints: Tanis and Horst believed that the second of these prints referred to the gifts. See Tanis and Horst, Images of discord
, p. 66.
J. Pollmann, ‘Een naturlicke Vijantschap. Het ontstaan van de Zwarte Legende over Spanje in de Nederlanden’, unpublished doctoraalscriptie, Amsterdam University 1989, p. 63.
On F.M. 518, they are Brabant (or possibly Holland), Gelderland, Artois, Hainault, and Holland (or possibly Brabant). On Van de Venne's print, F.M. 514, they are Holland, Brabant, Zeeland, Gelderland, Friesland.
Beyond this it is unhelpful - there is no town called ‘Civilien’, nor does it appear among fictitious names of the period listed in standard works: see P. Valkema Blouw et al, Typographia Batavia
, 2 vols., Nieuwkoop 1968-, vol. 2, p. 531, or E. Cockx-Indestige, G. Glorieux and B. op de Beek, Belgica Typographica, 1541-1600
, 4 vols., Nieuwkoop 1968-1994, vol. 4, p. 455. See also J.G.Th. Graesse, Orbis Latinus
, Berlin 1909; reprinted Braunschweig 1972, and H. Cotton, Typographical Gazetteer
, Oxford 1831. Could it mean Seville? A letter from one of the first missionaries to South America, Joos de Rijcke (1498-1578), sent in 1536, refers to the town of New Seville (then the Spanish capital in Jamaica) as ‘Civilien’. I would like to thank Kristine Steenbergh for drawing this to my attention.
See I.M. Veldman, ‘Keulen als toevluchtsoord voor Nederlandse kunstenaars’, in: Oud
107 (1993), p. 34-58, for the importance of Cologne to
Netherlandish artists at this time.
Depictions of gaze and gesture are critical indicators of meaning in art. For an introduction, see E.H. Gombrich, ‘Action and expression in Western art’, in: R.A. Hinde (ed.), Non-verbal communication
, Cambridge 1972, p. 373-392. For patterns of meaning, see M. Barasch, Giotto and the language of gesture
, Cambridge 1987. The author is concerned to demonstrate that Giotto did not paint gestures ‘realistically’, but according to a well known code which flourished in court and church (p. 5, 13). See J. Spicer, ‘The Renaissance Elbow’, in: J. Bremmer and H. Roodenburg (ed.), A cultural history of gesture
, Cambridge 1991, p. 84-128, who suggests a correlation between gestures in Dutch art and the level of external threat to the Republic. For contemporary observations, see the work of Karel van Mander, who shows how gaze and gesture were read at the time, for example: ‘Eva Adam lieflijck aensiende biedt hem den Appel’ and ‘eenighe de doot- veruwe al gheset seer veerlijck de handen wronghen, Andere uyt den
hoofde de ruckende’; K. van
Mander, The Lives of the illustrious Netherlandish and German painters
, translated by H. Miedema, Doornspijk 1994, fol. R4r
, p. 18 (a translation of Van Mander's Schilder-Boeck
, first published in Haarlem in 1604).
Examples of such swords can be seen in, for example, A.R. Dufty, European swords and daggers in the Tower of London
, London 1974, pl. 12.
Egmont and Horn were invited to view plans of the citadel Alva was designing at Antwerp. They were arrested at that meeting (10 September 1567); Hogenberg's depiction was probably the inspiration for others, for example the scene shown in the frontispiece to Willem Baudaert, De Spaensche tiranije,
Danswick, c. 1620.
Close inspection shows the strange object in the net to be four money bags, tied together.
See Horst, De Opstand in zwart-wit
(n. 17), p. 60-62, 68-70.
For another view of the Netherlands, informed by a deep spirituality, see anon., Le Diable est dechaine
(vii 627) in: M. Hennin, Inventaire de la collection d'estampes relatives à l'histoire de France léguée en 1853 à la Bibliothèque Nationale par le Chevalier Hennin
, 5 vols., Paris 1877-1884, vol. 1, p. 76. Here we see a bitter criticism of the primacy of commerce over spirituality, and condemnation of the murders and squabbles of the nobility - especially William of Orange and the Duke of Alva. These are set as background causes of the unleashing of satanically inspired warfare. A different example may be found in the work of Marnix, (a leading Orangist propagandist), in his pamphlet Trouwe vermaninge aende christelicke gemeynten van Brabant, Vlanderen, Henegou, ende andere omliggende landen
, Leiden 1589. This pamphlet is not listed in W.P. Knuttel, Catalogus van de pamflettenverzameling berustende in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek
, 10 vols., 's-Gravenhage 1898-1920; reprinted 1978, but see Blouw, vol. 1, 3374, p. 378. Ostensibly it encourages Reformed Christians to come to the new state in the north; but it devotes space to arguing that their
morals were the cause of God's wrath against
them. Their sins include riot, drunkenness, gluttony, whoring, adulteries, covetousness, usury, scandal, pride, hatred, envy. Marnix recommends the use of the prayer of Daniel (which he had translated) and Psalms 51 and 130. Psalms 51 and 130 are two of the seven ‘penitential psalms’ (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143). References to the restoration of Jerusalem give a ‘spin’ acceptable to a vision of the Dutch as the New Israel. Likewise, Daniel's prayer (Daniel 9. 1-19) is one of repentance for sins (among which rebellion is prominent), with themes of the return of exiles and restoration of Jerusalem. This is the pamphlet quoted in G. Brandt, History of the Reformation in the Low Countries
, 4 vols., London 1720-1723; reprinted 1979, vol. 1 (Book 15), p. 431-432, as A faithful admonition to the Christian congregations of Brabant, Flanders and Hainault
For herms see first J. Hall, Dictionary of subjects and symbols in art
, revised edition, London 1984, p. 153. For their role in renaissance emblems, see A. Alciati, Emblematum flumen abundans
, edited by H. Green, Manchester 1871, p. 170 (the terminus, or herm, first appeared in the 1546 edition of Alciati). Hence, ‘[the insult] would strike us more strongly were we used to see these terminal Mercuries as commonly as the Romans were of old. The satire turns upon this assertion, that where there is no virtue there cannot be any nobility. Virtue, among the Romans, was “a man's exerting himself in the service of his country and friends;” so that the comparing a man to a figure without arms or legs must convey the strongest idea of his being the most useless of mortals’: J. Elmes, A general, and bibliographical dictionary of the fine arts
, London 1826, under herms - the volume is unpaginated.
‘Who is it whom I admonish thus? It is to you, Rubellius Blandus, that I speak. You are puffed up with the lofty pedigree of the Drusi, as though you had done something to make you noble, and to be conceived by one glorying in the blood of Iulus, rather than by one who weaves for hire under the windy rampart. “You others are dirt”, you say; “the very scum of our populace; not one of you can point to his father's birthplace; but I am one of the Cecropidae!” Long life to you! May you
long enjoy the glories of your birth! And yet
among the lowest rabble you will find a Roman who has eloquence, one who will plead the cause of the unlettered noble; you must go to the toga-clad herd for a man to untie the knots and riddles of the law. From them will come the brave young soldier who marches to the Euphrates, or to the eagles that guard the conquered Batavians, while you are nothing but a Cecropid, the image of a limbless Hermes! For in no respect but one have you the advantage over him: his head is of marble, whilst yours is a living effigy!’ This translation of Juvenal's Satire
, vol. 8, 37-55 is from G.G. Ramsay, Juvenal and Perseus
, London 1918, p. 160-162.
For the ‘Batavian Myth’ see E.O.G. Haitsma Mulier, ‘De Bataafse mythe opnieuw bekeken’, in: Bijdragen en mededelingen betreffende de geschiedenis der Nederlanden
111 (1996), p. 344-367; also I. Schöffer, ‘The Batavian myth during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries’, in: J.S. Bromley and E.H. Kossmann (ed.), Britain and the Netherlands
, 5, The Hague 1975, p. 78-101.
For Orange's disillusion see the report of the campaign written at the end of November 1568 by an anonymous English soldier, J.M.B.C. Kervyn de Lettenhove and L. Gilliodst van Severen (ed.), Relations politiques des Pays-Bas et de l'Angleterre sous le règne de Philippe II
, 11 vols., Brussels 1882-1900, vol. 5, p. 189. Roger Williams, ‘The actions of the Lowe Countries’, in: J.X. Evans (ed.), The works of Sir Roger Williams,
Oxford 1972, p. 53-153, spec. p. 78.
‘It was also in his years of exile [i.e. 1568 to 1572] that Orange established his first contact with a section of the population whose support was in the long run of decisive importance for the outcome of the revolt: prominent representatives of the middle classes’: K.W. Swart, William the Silent and the Revolt of the Netherlands
, Historical Association Pamphlet, General Series 94, London 1978, p. 16.
William of Orange, Waerschouwinge des Princen van Oraengien, aende inghesetenen ende ondersaten van den Nederlanden
, 1568, quoted in M. van Gelderen, The political thought of the Dutch Revolt 1550-1590
, Cambridge 1992, p. 121. See Knuttel, vol. 1, p. 35, nr 168. The text is attributed by Van Gelderen to Wesembeke, one of Orange's propagandists.
See Brandt, History of the Reformation
, vol. 1 (Book 9), p. 262,
See A. Pettegree, Emden and the Dutch Revolt. Exile and the development of Reformed Protestantism
, Oxford 1992, p. 160-161.
See for example F. Bethancourt, ‘The “Auto da Fé”. Ritual and imagery’, in: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld institutes
55 (1992), p. 155-168, which discusses a German print of the Spanish Inquisition.
Charles V had confronted Lutheran forces in Germany in a campaign commencing in 1546, and culminating in a crushing victory at Mühlberg in 1547. It shattered the Lutheran cause (and gained almost iconic significance in portraits of Charles V by Titian, and in a sculpture by Leone Leoni).
I am grateful to Manfred Thaller for the KLEIO Image Analysis System used for the research from which this article is drawn. See G. Jaritz, Images. A primer of computer-supported analysis with KLEIO IAS
, St. Katharinen 1993.
The effort has not been entirely successful: the weights, which in F.M. 515 were suspended from a victim's feet, remain hovering incongruously in mid-air.
Appendix, no. 3. A copy exists in the Cabinet des Estampes at the Bibliothèque Royale Albert I, Brussels, as S.II, 12208.
The text reads ‘que l'abomination (dont le Prophete Daniel parle)’. See Daniel 11. 31, and 12. 11.
The text commences ‘En laquelle se represente au vis la Tyránie du Duc D'albe, subiect & vassal de L'antichrist’. The term ‘antichrist’ is found only in the Johannine epistles; it has associations with terms used in Daniel and Revelation and is closely connected with eschatological themes. See J.D. Douglas (ed.), The New Bible Dictionary
, Leicester 1976, p. 39-40.
See I Kings 21. 5-16. Jezebel certainly figured in the Netherlandish mentality of the day. The last verse of a popular song from 1568, addressed to Alva, starts with: ‘With your teeth dripping with blood / Like Pharaoh and Jezebel, / You come to these Netherlands’. Quoted in Tanis and Horst, Images of discord
, p. 27.
‘They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear & etc. ’, which presumably refers to Psalm 115. 2-9: ‘Why should the nations say “Where is their God?”. Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them’. A less likely source may be Psalm 135.
A Frisian nobleman, Galena, Backerzeele, La Loo (Horn's secretary), and Van Straelen were all racked to the extent that they had to be roped to chairs to facilitate
their execution. See J.L.
Motley, The rise of the Dutch Republic
, London 1862, p. 406.
A comprehensive analysis of this locket and its relationship to Hogenberg's prints was carried out by H.J. de Dompierre de Chaufepié, ‘Een penning op den aanvang der Nederlandsche beroerten’, in: Oud Holland
17 (1899), p. 193-200.
That is: Margaret of Parma fishing; an unnamed person, possibly a cardinal, fishing; Granvelle in his diabolic role; the Iconoclasm at Antwerp; the Compromise; the hedge preaching; Alva's regime; the magistrates as herms; the execution of Egmont and Horn. (None show William of Orange.)
De Dompierre de Chaufepié speculated that there had existed another print, from slightly earlier, from which the designer of the locket and the prints drew their inspiration. See De Dompierre de Chaufepié, p. 199-200.
Of one example, a nineteenth-century observer writes that ‘il est possédé actuellement par M. Faure [...] cet amateur l'a soustrait à une perte presque certaine et l'a fait restaurer avec soin’: M. de Reiffenberg, ‘Sur un tableau satirique relatif au gouvernement du duc d'Albe’, in: Bulletin de l'Académie Royale de Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Bruxelles
5 (1838), p. 116-123, spec. p. 120.
See J.M. Montias, Artists and artisans in Delft. A socio-economic study of the seventeenth century
, Princeton, NJ 1982, p. 220.
See Nrs 12, 19, 20, 22 and 28.
Nrs 1, 3, 5, 13, 14, 21, 23, 26, 27, 29, 32, 33, 35 and 36.
Where the provincial badges can be made out with any certainty, which is the case in most of these paintings, Holland is always in prime position.
Nr 15 (detail - some of the surrounding architecture is omitted).
Coupe suggested that two thousand prints could be obtained from a plate by the end of the sixteenth century: see W.A. Coupe, The German illustrated broadsheet in the seventeenth century. Historical & iconographical studies
, 2 vols., Baden-Baden 1966, vol. 1, p. 15. See also D. Landau and P. Parshall, The Renaissance print, 1470-1550
, London 1994, p. 31, who note that a printmaker from the eighteenth century (when techniques were essentially unchanged from the Renaissance), claimed he had a good copperplate pressman who could obtain four thousand impressions from a plate before it needed retouching.
T.A. Riggs, Hieronymous Cock. Printmaker and publisher
, New York 1977, p. 227-228.
For sizes of images of the Tyranny of Alva
, see the Appendix.
Nrs 3 (150cm by 190cm), 13 (91cm by 154cm), 19 (108cm by 209cm), 23 (165cm by 193cm) and 29 (102cm by 168cm).
In November 1994, H.F.K. van Nierop gave a paper to a joint meeting of the Historisch Genootschap and the Vereniging van Geschiedenisleraren in Nederland. The meeting reflected the return of the Dutch Revolt to the school curriculum, for the eindexamen
, after an interval of many years. The paper, entitled ‘De troon van Alva. Over de interpretatie van de Nederlandse opstand’ appeared in Bijdragen en mededelingen betreffende de geschiedenis der Nederlanden
110 (1995), p. 205-223, and was illustrated by the print of 1569. Van Nierop was convinced by the image: ‘Waar ging het in de Opstand om? Blijkbaar had de anonieme ontwerper van de prent die bekend staat als “de troon van Alva
” het bij het rechte eind’, (p. 223). Recently translated as ‘Alva's Throne - making sense of the Revolt of the Netherlands’, and prefaced by F.M. 518, it appears in G. Darby (ed.), The origins and development of the Dutch Revolt
, London 2001, p. 29-47. The cover illustration from the same print shows the arrest.