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Reconquista and Reconciliation in the Dutch Revolt: The Campaign of Governor-General Alexander Farnese (1578-1592)

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Abstract The campaign in the Low Countries led by governor-general Alexander Farnese from October 1578 onwards resulted in the reconquest of more cities for the King of Spain than had been achieved by any of his predecessors or successors. It serves here as a starting point for a contextual analysis of the relationship between the ruler and the city defiant during the Dutch Revolt, not only to cast new light on the oft-neglected and complex Spanish Habsburg policies, but also to understand the broader context of questions of resistance and reconciliation during the Dutch Revolt. Most capitulation treaties accorded by Farnese show at least four features at odds with the pattern of repression of urban revolts. The governor aimed at keeping the civic patrimony intact, he granted full pardon and oblivion, he conditionally restored urban privileges and he often felt obliged not to insist on immediate reconciliation with the Catholic Church. The divergent reactions to this Habsburg policy indicate that the Dutch Revolt showed striking features of a civil war, in which not only the conditions of revolt but also of reconciliation caused discord.

Affiliations: 1: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

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