As the position of the Prince of Orange on the Yssel, which in consequence of the drought was fordable throughout nearly the whole of its course, was now no longer tenable, he retired to Utrecht.
Continuing The Dutch Crisis 1672,
our selection from History of Holland and the Dutch, 900 – 1799 by C.M. Davies. The selection is presented in eight easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in The Dutch Crisis 1672.
Time: 1672 – 78
Nothing less than entire unanimity and the most undaunted resolution could have enabled the Dutch to resist the overwhelming force employed against them; whereas, the miserable effect of the internal dissensions of the republic had been to destroy for the time all mutual confidence. In some places the garrisons, despising their incapable commanders, refused to act; or the governors, mistrustful of their undisciplined troops, lost all hope of prolonging a defense; in others, the detestation entertained by the magistrates toward the Orange party was so great that, preferring to submit to France rather than to a native stadtholder, they hastened to deliver up their towns to the invader; on the other hand, the friends of the house of Orange looked not without some complacency on the misfortunes which threatened the state, and which they hoped would reduce it to the necessity of raising the Prince to the dignities of his family; while in those places where the Catholics were numerous, the populace, under the guidance of the priests, forced both garrisons and governments to open their gates to the sovereign whom they hailed as the restorer of their religion. With scarcely a show of opposition, therefore, Louis advanced to the Rhine.
The drought of the summer was so excessive that this river had become fordable in three places, which, being pointed out to the French by some peasants of Guelderland, the King determined on attempting the passage between Schenkenschans and Arnhem, near the Tollhuys, a village and tower about two miles distant from the separation of the branch of the river called the Wahal. The Prince of Orange, who was stationed with about twenty-two thousand men at Arnhem, and along the banks of the Yssel, instead of concentrating his forces to oppose the passage of the enemy, contented himself with detaching De Montbas to guard the Betuwe, and to throw succors if requisite into Nimwegen. But this general, deeming the troops placed under his command insufficient for the purpose required, abandoned his post. He was arrested and sent to Utrecht, but afterward allowed to escape. Immediately on the retreat of Montbas the Prince dispatched General Wurtz, but still with a vastly inadequate force, to occupy the post at the Tollhuys. The French cuirassiers, led on by the Counts de Guiche and Revel, first waded into the ford under the fire of the artillery from the tower, which, however, as there were no more than seventeen men stationed in it, was not very formidable. They were followed by a number of volunteers, and in a short time the whole of the cavalry passed over with trifling loss. The Dutch troops, discouraged as well by the unexpectedness of the attempt as by their own inferiority in number, were driven back after a short skirmish. A bridge was then thrown across the river for the infantry, and thus this famous passage was accomplished with comparative ease and safety.
As the position of the Prince of Orange on the Yssel, which in consequence of the drought was fordable throughout nearly the whole of its course, was now no longer tenable, he retired to Utrecht, abandoning Arnhem to the enemy, who soon after received the submission of Nimwegen and the whole of Guelderland, Thiel, and the Bommel. In order to put Utrecht into a state of defense, the Prince considered it necessary to burn down all the suburbs; a measure which, when he proposed to the States of the Province, he found them reluctant to comply with. He therefore immediately quitted that city, and with the whole of his forces made a further retreat into Holland. Thus left wholly unprotected, the States of Utrecht conceived that the only resource which remained to them was to mollify the conqueror by a speedy submission; and accordingly, while Louis was yet at Doesburg, they sent deputies to tender to him the keys of the city and the submission of the whole province. The King shortly after entered Utrecht in triumph.
While the good-fortune, rather than the arms, of Louis subdued Guelderland and Utrecht, his allies, the Bishops of Cologne and Muenster, found no more vigorous resistance in Overyssel. Oldenzeel, Entschede, and other small towns yielded at once to their summons; Deventer, though well garrisoned and amply provided, was surrendered at once by the municipal government, who, by their exhortations and example, induced that of Zwol to adopt a like disgraceful course of conduct. The easily acquired spoil was divided among the captors; the King of France, who had furnished a subsidy of troops, placed garrisons in Campen and Elburg; the Archbishop of Cologne retained Deventer; Groll and Breevoort being allotted to the Bishop of Muenster, while Zwol was held in common. The troops of these warlike prelates exercised everywhere unbounded license and cruelties. Numbers of unhappy families were driven from their homes, and, taking refuge in Holland, added to the consternation which prevailed there.
This province was now in imminent danger. No barrier remained, as it appeared, to oppose the progress of the enemy; the army of the Prince had dwindled to about thirteen thousand men; two of the frontier towns, Woerden and Oudewater, had solicited safeguards from the invaders; and Naarden was surprised by the Count of Rochefort. Had he marched on at once to Muyden he might have occupied that town also, a post of immense importance from its situation, as ships going to Amsterdam must come within reach of its cannon; and by means of a sluice there, the surrounding country may at any time be inundated. It had been left destitute of a garrison; but, the French commander remaining two or three days inactive at Naarden, time was afforded to John Maurice of Nassau to enter Muyden with a strong body of troops, and the chance thus lost was gone forever.
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