Este curioso documento, anónimo y datado en 1578, defiende, tras atacar la rapacidad y avaricia española, la convivencia pacífica de las religiones. Se basa para ello en testimonios del pasado histórico, indicando que los imperios que han aceptado diferentes religiones en su seno han prosperado económicamente. También indica que la pérdida que se ha ocasionado por las luchas de religión ha sido de índole eminéntemente económica para los habitantes de los Países Bajos. Acusa a España y su gobierno de so color de religión haberse apropiado de los bienes de ciudadanos y solicita del rey reflexión sobre la ventaja económico-político-social de la tolerancia religiosa.

Antonio Cortijo Ocaña, University of California, Santa Barbara

A REQUEST / PRESENTED TO THE / KING OF SPAYN AND THE / LORDES OF THE COUN- / SEL OF THE STATE, / By the inhabitants of the Lowe Coun- / treyes, protesting that they will live accor- / ding to the reformation of the / Gospell; the xxii. of  / June. 1578 / AT EDINBURGH, /  Imprintit be Leighe Mannenby, / Anno Dominis 1578.

    In all humilitie and reverence, the inhabitants of the Lowe Countreys do shew protesting that they mind to live according to the reformation of the Gospell, that sithence fiftie yeares past and more some of the sayed Countreys have bin sevrred from the religion commonly helde in the Romane church for many reasons kowne to the whole worlde, as well by bookes published as by the confessions of many whiche have yielded reason of their separation, even to the death. And albeit they have curiously searched all the meanes possible to roote them out, yet the more they killed and persecuted, the more the number hathe encreased, in such fort that even in the time of the Duke of Alva, who as he hath surpassed the bloudiest tirantes in all manner of crueltie so hathe he surmounted himselfe in this behalfe having put to death betweene eighteene and nineteene thousande persons by the hands of the hangman, having also driven away an infinite number of honest people [4] lovers of their countrey and common wealth. And yet sithence notwithstanding, that wich hath bin practised by don Loys de Requesens, such devices have bin set forward as were forecast for the overthrow of the said Protestants, who contrari-wise have shewed themselves more openly than before, even in withrawing themselves from the obedience and subiection of the Pope, to certaine whole provinces and a farre greater number, leaving their countrey and the place where they were borne, desiring rather to suffer all extremitie going voluntary into banishment out of a countrey of muche loved of them that are strangers, and to suffer ioyfully the losse of their goodes rather than yeelde themselves subject to the sayed Romish religion. Then of the banishmets of the banishments of the Duke of Alva and other the like, there have followed great and dangerous warres throughout and the Low Countreys, the traffike greatie decaied and the handy craftes transported and made common to strange antions, in whiche things chieflie consisted the principall wealth of the said countrey. But as the intent of the councell of Spaine, [5] sithence this countrey was ioined to it , hath alwaies bin whoolie to make these provinces subiect to the Spanyarde, as in all places were they have set their foot they goe aboute to make the subiects their slaves and tributaries, and that the most part of them under the colour of rewarde and recompence have long since devoured in their heartes the goodes and possesions of the inhabitants of these countreys. The occasion of persecuting the sayd Protestants, under the shadow of devotion, hathe seemed to them a fitte meane to atchieve their miserable purpose to bring all under their government, after they had overthrowen one of so great a side, reaping prayse and commendation of many, both of godlinesse and zeale to the religion and service of God.  So Youre Highnesse and my Lordes knowe how the Lord don Iohn, going no without of the way troden by the Spanyards, hath gone about by policies and subtilties to make these countreys subiect to this miserable estare of boundage, whereto the Duke of Alva was not able to atteyne for all his crultie, and howe by the will of God that wiche many, and namely [6] the said Protestants, have wel foreseene hath bin discovered and made manifest to everye one. Whereto at the beginning there was made resistance with one accord by all good countreymen and lovers of their common wealth, religion being set aparte, untill that the said don Iohn by placards, letters, writings and people suborned being among us, namely by the Iesuites and other like, hathe laide such foundation as hath seemed to him fitte to breede and mainteyne a deadly division, sowing mutuall suspitions and defiances, by reason of the diversitie of religion, a foundation then very fitten, whereon to build covertly a whole disagreement and division of the countreys, for of the one part he dyd blowe continually into the eares of prelates and other ecclesiasticall persons, and generally of those that make profesion of the Romish church, that the sayde Protestants had no other intente but when they saw time to take away their goodes and to lay in wayte for their lives, that for their defence onely he was in armes and that he woulde warrante them from suche and the like daungers into which they would cast themselves headlong [7] unless they openly took his part.
    As to the contrary, he saw well ynough that the sayde Protestants thought as much sith that there was no speech touching the quiet exercise of the religion and that they purposed nothing else, but as soone as might be to make them efrsoones [sic] subiect to the fire in suche wise that of the victory of the common enimie they could not hope for any other frute, after they had faithfully spent their lives and goodes and all that whiche God had lente them for the most iust defence of the countrey and for the expelling of the coniured enimie, but a newe beginning of mishappes which might cause that the said Protestants (iudging themselves not to be more assured of their countreymen, with whome in common they susteyned the laboures of the warre, that of the enimie) tooke partie apart in good time regarding their suretie; sith that in the end they saw no other remedie to save themselves. And although such wicked practises have not altogither fallen out according as they have bin devised, which ought to be attributed to God's Providence, who hath bin watchfull over this countrey and [8] over the vigilancie and carefulnesse of oure good superioures and other of oure good countreymen so neere they had most daungerous effects. For whereas we should all have bin united to mainteyne oure libertie and to preserve our privileges againste the tyrannie of straungers, contrari-wise of this cursed seede have issued in many the frutes of colde heartes, estraungings and withdrawing of mindes, diverse practises, secrete assemblies and intelligences with the enimie and generally some falsing their faith, have openly stucke to him, at the beginning making some shewe to defend themselves, have suffered themselves to be caried away by the sayd persuasions, whiche is the principall frute that don Iohn hathe ever hoped to gather by his craftie skill and dissimulation.  And indeede it is impossible that the heartes and mindes coulde well unite and drawe themselves togither, as in one body, where the one and the other being full of suspition, thinke that everyone hath him for his companion who either is his declared enimie or which hideth a secret hatred which in time and place must be discovered to the [9] spoyle of the goodes and life of his fellowe, there is no trust, but rather a continuall hidden defiance that engendreth a hatred and imprinteth in the heart all other sortes of vehement passions. And albeit that some ill experienced in dealing in the State and ordering of matters , as naughtie chirurgions which found not the bothome of the wound but contente themselves to cure the upper most part of the diseased member, so these men only assay outwardly to heale the hurt, without discovering the roote, to pull away altogither that hurte whiche wasteth us by little and little, even to our utter ruine and desolation. Notwithstanding these meanes cannot close up the wounde of our harmes, but rather it commeth to passe that of the one side and the other, the least faulte that is committed is that the service of the common wealth is slowly and litherly done and dayly this heate of resisting the enimie groweth colde, and it is to be feared that the enimie, who all this while is not asleepe but rather continually spreading among us flames of suspition, will in the ende lighten suche a fire of division, that of the one side, and the [10] other we shall be consumed and destroyed by the same fire, which our owne suspitions and passions have nourished and mainteyned.
     These things have caused that the Protestantes, having an unspeakeable grife that the religion whereof they make profession, in the which without offending and person they seeke nothing but to serve God with cleannesse of heart, is so untowardly expounded, and that to their greatest displeasure they see that it serveth don Iohn foundation whereon to build his practises (which are to oppresse the one by the other), as good countreymen and citizens they have diligently fought out the welspring and originall of these mischiefes, and if they were redressed it shoulde be easie to come to a good unitie, all suspitions being layde apart and defiances extinguished, a thing so greately desired of good men and so necessarie to the whole common weale. This it is that of the one part they seeing many places the prelates and other ecclesiasticall persons to bee in continuall feare that one daye the sayde Protestantes will sette uppon them to the [11] whole overthrowe of their religion and spoyle of goodes. Of the other parte, the sayde protestantes thinke that they are onelye reserved to bee ledde by them to the butcherie, seeing that after so many loyall services they cannot have the libertie of their religion graunted them whereuppon there ariseth some proude speeche of both sydes, and overmuche libertie of the souldyoures or people, whiche notwithstanding under most humble correction of youre highnesse and my Lordes mighte seeme to bee remedied if in dealing with both parts freelie &withoute dissimulation in disclosing among themselves the causes of the mischiefe, which is but too muche encreased, they would graunte of the one parte the sayde Protestantes the free exercise of theyr religion, seeing that this is the onely cause whiche bringeth them in suspition and causeth that some doe enterprise matters not pleasing everie man.  Of the other parte , that the sayed  Protestantes by meete meanes shoulde assure the sayde of the Romishe religion that they sougthte nothyng lesse than to roote out by force [12] the said religion to take away and possesse their goodes, and to do any acte contrary to the dutie of their fellow-contreyman.  Contrri-wise, that they are readye to employe themselves for the whole preservation of the countrey, and of all the inhabitants thereof, as wel generally as perticularly [sic]. And if these things be executed, there is no doubte but that all matter of division will ceasse and a good peace shall be well established, the occasions of mutuall defiance beeyng by thys meane take away and the old grudges and hatreds altogither buried.
     Most humblie beseeche Youre Highnesse and my Lords to consider the long time that they have looked that the generall estates should provide for matters of religion. But if for the discommoditie of the time the occasion be not yet ofered to assemble, or else by the drift of some who savouring privily the partie of don Iohn do let it mainteyning by this meane the said defiances, or others which hope yet after the victorie to burne the said Protestants (meanes no lesse daungerous the one that the other and no lesse unworthy of good countreymen.) If [13] then for suche reasons or the like they could not yet well provide for this, it resteth only (if by your most wise councell there be no other remedie) the one of these two meanes, to weete either that the saide Protestantes who for some danger could not be brought to the exercise of the Romith religion doe abide alwayes without religion, or else that in deede they take in hande the publike exercise of their religion. The firste is so hurtfull to the common wealth that nothing can be thought more, for it bringeth with it the contempt of God, despising of religion, atheisme, whereof followeth the breaking of the lawes of God and man.  The second may be a cause of a division in the contrarie, whiche mighte turne upside downe the presente state, the one taking one partie, the other another, which might open a gappe to overthrow the one by the other, following the entreprise of the dead Escovedo, the verie sirebrand of this countrey.  But if the rules and lessons of the auncients and of those which have bin reputed for their wisedome ought to take place, it is certain that in affaires of such weight we can not take better [14] councell than of oure enimie. For if this argumente of the diversitie of religion be the best weapon whiche he taketh in hande to beate us, it is good for us to sette oure side in order, that this falling out serve not him for a breach to make his tirannie enter in among us. And for as muche as experience of time past fheweth us that oure sinnes have bin so great that we coulde not all be brought to one religion alone, it rested (under moste humble correction) to advice how without altering the unitie of the countrey the one and the other religion might be mainteyned withoute the preiudice of one and other.
     Whereupon the saide Protestantes most humblie beseeche Youre Highhess and my Lordes not to give eare to those whiche to hinder so good a matter alleage firste of all the pacification of Gant, secondly the two religions cannot abide togither in one countrey, and thirdly that there is no assurance, this point being agreed upon, that the ecclesiasticall persons may be mainteyned. For touching the first, it is wel knowen that the enimie hathe plainely renounced it by [15] open declaration sent by Sieur de Selles, that he would not in anie wise holde it wherein he sheweth manifestlie whereat he shooteth and teacheth the said Protestantes whereof they shoulde take heede. Wherefore we are not bound to keepe oure oth with him, seeing that disloyally he first brake it. And concerning that which toucheth us among oureselves, for so muche as the saide pacification was concluded by the advice and consente of other provinces which my Lorde the Prince of Orange and the Estates of Holland and Zelande, it is certaine, and nature teacheth it, withoute wronging of any, that there is nothing so naturall but as by the consent of the two partes the contracte hathe bin made, passed, and promised; so by the consente of the one parte and the other it could not bee in parte broken, qualifyed, and interpreted for the common weale of the countrey and for cutting off the secrete working of the enimie. But the sayed Protestantes thinke not in anye wise to withstande it nor doe mynde to be the cause of the breache thereof, seeyng that they, abyding in [16] the teames of the saide pacification most humblie damaunde and require that by the meane of the generall estates there shoulde provision be made for the free and publike exercise of religion.
    Concerning the second poynte, experience hath at all times shewed the contrary, whether we consider the auncient or new emperoures or behold the nations neere adioyning. For it is well knowen to them which are but meanely seene in histories that the emperoures being at the beginning paynims have neverthelesse maynteyned under their empire Christians and Paynims, having whole legions of Christians and the rest of their armie paynims, all marching under one generall of the armie. And notwithstanding there were founded in that time, as at this present, uncircumspect councellers whiche did put suche opinions into their princes heads, that the two religions whereof the emperoures fell to persecute the most part, but incontinentlie they firste suffered the punishmente for suche foolishe councels. Afterward in the times of Christian emperours the like hath bin a verie long [17] time, and not only that but also among them that did beare in common the name of Christians the Church hath bin allowed to stand open to them which helde doctrine altogither contrarie, whiche may be seene in the histories of Constantine, his children, Theodosius, and others. As for our time, there are so many examples that if we are to iudge them by the numbe, one may sooner saye, and more certainely, that whosoever hathe gone about to abolishe one of the two religions hath put his state in greate daunger. Howsoever it be, if we looke about us the two mightiest nations and with which we are environed  to weete, Germanie and Fraunce, after so much spilling of bloud have founde no meane to staunch it but by condescending to the exercise of the one and the other religion. We beare yet in minde the greate invasions that the emperoure Charles of most famous memorie made into Germanie, of the great likelyhoodes of good successe that he had in the beginning, having subdued the better part thereof and having in his power the chiefest, bravest, and mightiest princes, the issue notwithstanding was such that after he was brought to greater ex[18]tremitie that ever such a mightie prince was he had no way to assure himself but in condescending to the one and other religion. Your Highnes grandfather, a prince of greate and rare iudgement and councell, the emperour Ferdinand, perceiving that he had no other meane to assure the one and the other & to take away the suspitions that were in Germanie, condescended to the religionsfriedt, and since that time there hath not bin one mutinie in Gemanie, the ecclesiasticall persons might enioy their goodes, dignities, and preheminences with greater assurance than in any other place of christendome, & in many townes, as at Francfort, Wormes, Ulme, Ausbourg, and others, is exercised the one & the other religion, without division or uprore in the churches of any of these townes. The emperour of most noble memorie, Your Highnesse father, hath not onely mainteined that wiche hath bin so well framed by his predecessors, but besides hath alowed it in his owne countreys, well perceiving that this was the onely meane to keepe his subiects in peace. In like maner, Rodolph, Your Highnes brother, at this preset enioying the sacred seate of his predecessors, hath not [19] many days past granted the same to the nobles of his kingdome of Hungarie. I will not say what the state of Hungarie hath bin since Sigismund. As touching Fraunce, we are too neere neybors to be ignorant that the stremes of bloud wich ran in such abundance could never be stayd untill that she had hir libertie granted, whiche hath always brought with it quietnes, as when she was hindred. Forthwith the realme hath bin wholly on fire, ready to consume himself & to bring himselfe to ashes. But if likewise we can take example by the common enimie of christendome to weete, the Turke, who knoweth too well what it is to beare rule, we see that he suffereth alike under his empire, the Christians and the Iews, being for al this in no doubt of any revolting, yet he hath under his empire without comparison, more Christians whiche do not acknowlege, nor wil acknowlege the Pope, than ther be in this Europe whiche do acknowlege him. The King of Marroques & Fleez doth the like. And as for the King of Poland, besides the diversitie of Christian religion that he hath in his countrey, he hath also a great number of Mahomeranes which obey him, not having for this respect any commotion in his countrey. The [20] Pope himself, whome they of the Romith church hold for their head & his examples for infallible rules, suffereth at Rome and in all places where he hath any propertie that the Iewes have their publike sinagoges, yea for a little money he will suffer that every one may have it to himself. The like is seene in many cities of the empire. Likewise, my Lordes, the estates heere with us have not let the said Iewes to dresse their sinagogs  in some places of these countreys, and that in consideration of a small profite, which in no wise is to be compared to that, whereof there is question at this presente. And notwithstanding the said Iewes do denie Iesus Christe and are enimies of the churche of God, the whiche shall not be found in thousands of Protestants, which hope in Christ as the onely worker of their salvation, and are not enimies of the church, but rather desire only the reformation.
     As touching the thirde pointe, the sayde Protestants cannot so soone make knowen to al the world the good desire they have to live peaceably with their townesmates and countreymen, but hope in time to make most certaine proofe thereof, the said defiances [21] being set aside and suspitions taken away, the which they shall promise before God to performe. In the meane season, they most humblie beseeche Youre Highnesse and my Lords, to offer all such meanes of assurance as you shall thinke meete, and they shall be bery forward as muche as lieth in them thoroughly to obey, and to frame themselves thereto and persuade themselves with this that they shall promise: that they will find some princes, good friendes to this countrey and great Lords, which will doe them this honoure, to aunswer for their faithfulnes and stedfastnes in their promises.
     These things considered, the saide Protestantes beseeche with all their most humble and obedient heart & affection that it would please Your Highnesse and you, my Lords, as those to whome this common wealth is committed and for which you are bound to give accompt before God & man, that it would please you in taking away all occasions of defiances and suspitions among the poore subiects of the Low Countrey, all which bend their eyes upon you, to find the meanes with the liking and contentment of all to agree to the equall exercise of both religions untill [22] that it hath pleased God, surmounting by his mercy the multitude of our sinnes (which are the only causes of so many mischiefes) by the meane of a good, holy, and free councell generall, or at the least nationall, to end the controversies that we see in this countrey touching matters of religion to prevent by your wise councels and deliberations so many mischiefes as you have seene to lightupon neybours, who with much adoe can yet fetch breath to cut off by your wisedome the enterprises of the enimie, who under the shadow of this variance would cast us headlong into a bottomlesse pit of confusion, and by your ripe deliberations to give contentment to all the poore subiects which feele the smart but looke for the remedie at their handes, whome they have chosen for their phisitians, and to be guided to the Haven by them whom they have chosen for their governoures. That it woulde please you to behold rather the examples of our neybours and others, of which the one by their wise foresighte have remedied the mischiefe to come, the other being taughte by their calamitie had rather seeke remedie, though the disease hath bin long and deepe rooted, than in despairing [23] their oven safetie to cast themselves headlong into utter destruction. That it woulde please you to have pitie & compassion of them that have placed themselves betweene your armes & looke not for any comfort next after God, but of you, and so doing ordeine that by a sacred law of forgetfulnes al things past of the one parte may be buried, without that heereafter none may be sifted for any thyng happened by reason of the diversitie of religion. And the said Protestants shall promise to submit themselves to all reasonable conditions, such as it shall please Your Highnesse to offer, to keepe them inviolably and to put in such assurance as they are able. And albeit the said Protestants owe themselves their lives and their goods to their countrey, notwithstanding they most humblie beseech that it would please you to remember howe many yeares they have suffered for the service of the country, and since the unitie of the provinces what their faithfuluesse & obedience is & hath bin. But if any of them hathe committed any acte which is not allowed of all, there is nothing whereto a fitte remedy may not be given and they are not deadly faultes as theirs are whiche openly under pretence [24] of zeale drawe themselves to the enimie. Although also that the said Protestants should receive any wrong whiche they hope not they have determined by God's grace to stick to that which they know they owe of duty to their coutrey.
    Notwithstanding they trusting to your wisedome & equitie, most humblie desire you to fulfill their request, as for a free recompence of so many travels and for to encourage them more and more to do wel, so that you do well, and the said suppliants shall be bounde to pray to God for the wealth & advancement of your estate, the universal quietnesse of the coutrey, and as til this present, they have bin very forward and disposed to serve faithfully and by the grace of God, withoute reproche to the common wealth so that they ienttle themselves by means thereof to do better in time to come.


    Of late advertisements are come over that the xiiij of this present moneth of Iuly the estates assemble theselves to deliberate upon this request, the sequele wherof is uncertain, for as Euripides in Iphigenia saith, aproselwn tauta de brotoisi ta twn qewn swzousi o ws jilousin, that is, God's doings fall out otherwise than men looke for and he saveth whome he loveth.