Holland`s role - a refuge for the persecuted.
Extract from Exiles of the Covenant, W.D. Carslaw,  Gardner, Paisley,1908, p95-98.

  As early as the reign of David I., who died in 1153, a considerable number of the industrious and enterprising inhabitants of the Netherlands had already settled in Scotland and carried on trade in its eastern ports. This number was largely augmented in consequence of a decree of Henry II., in 1156, expelling all Flemings from England, and, by the time that religious persecution drove so many of our countrymen from their native shores, it seemed only reasonable that Holland should repay the debt she so long owed to Scotland by offering an asylum to her persecuted sons. Moreover, after a long and bloody struggle with the powers of darkness, Holland (by which name we prefer to call the United Provinces) had won for herself the blessings of civil and religious freedom. True to her symbol of a lion struggling with the waves, and her motto, Luctor et emergo, "I struggle and I rise," she had recovered herself not merely from the devouring sea by which she is surrounded and assailed, but from the assaults of principalities and powers, from the rulers of the darkness of this world, and from spiritual wickedness in high places. This, however, had not been accomplished without tremendous sacrifices. According to reliable authorities, the Netherlanders who were burned, strangled, beheaded, and buried alive during the reign of Charles V. and under his orders amounted to 100,000. The Venetian ambassador reckoned that, even ten years before his abdication, that despot had already put to death, for their religious opinions, no fewer than 30,000 persons in Holland and Friesland alone. His son and successor, Philip II., who married Mary Tudor of England, the "Bloody Mary," and cruelly deserted her when there was no prospect of her giving England a Spanish king, was a less capable but more fanatical and bloodthirsty tyrant than his father.

 The reign of Charles had been one long crime against his subjects. He had trampled on their liberties, wasted their resources by inordinate taxation, and established the Inquisition among them. But if he chastised them with whips, Philip chastised them with scorpions. After a residence of four years in the Netherlands, he left it, never to revisit the country again : but as his representative and plenipotentiary he sent the Duke of Alva, who was now sixty years of age, and after a long life spent in war had earned for himself the reputation of being the most accomplished and capable warrior in Europe, and also the most cruel and bloodthirsty of men. During the six years of his cruel reign before 1574, when William the Silent, Prince of Orange, was proclaimed Governor, as many as 18,000 persons of all ages and rank had been put to death, over and above the numerous victims in cities captured by his troops.

But this reign of terror at length came to an end, and, having broken the yoke of Spanish and Popish tyranny, Holland was able to stretch forth a helping hand to the oppressed of every creed and nation. The Jews, who were despised and hated else­where, found in her an asylum, and helped to increase her wealth. The Jansenists, expelled from France by their natural enemies the Jesuits, found not only a refuge but a recognition, when recognition was a dangerous offence. And nowhere else did our countrymen meet with so much sympathy and help during the twenty-eight miserable years which elapsed between the Restoration and the Revolution. The marriage of William II., in 1648, to a daughter of Charles I., and that of William III. to Mary, the elder daughter of James II., made it difficult occasionally to resist successfully the malign influence of the English Court. Even the fact that Charles II. himself, during the period of his exile, had found a home at the Court of his brother-in-law, at The Hague, was fitted to awaken in some quarters suspicion and alarm. But as we read the history of that age, no one can fail to recognise the noble stand which Holland made for truth and liberty, or refuse to acknowledge the debt which Scotsmen in particular owe for the aid and protection so generously extended to them in the day of their calamity.

 18/07/2011

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