Lamoral, Count of Egmont
Prince of Gavre, beheaded for not following the Prince of Orange into exile, b. Nov. 18, 1522; d. June 5, 1568
Egmont, LAMORAL, COUNT OF, PRINCE OF GAVRE, b. at the Château de La Hamaide, in Hainault, November 18, 1522; beheaded at Brussels, June 5, 1568. He was a descendant of one of the oldest families of the Low Countries; his patrimonial castle, near the abbey of the same name, was on the coast of the North Sea, about three miles west of Alkmaar, Holland. In 1538 he went to Spain with his elder brother, Charles, and both took part in the expedition to Algiers in 1541, in which Charles was injured. Charles died the following year. Lamoral succeeded to the title and estates, which, beside those of Holland, comprised the principality of Gaevre, seven or eight baronies, and a number of seigniories. When, in 1544, he married Sabina, Duchess of Bavaria and Countess Palatine of the Rhine, the emperor and the King of the Romans assisted at his wedding. Egmont distinguished himself in various campaigns during the reign of Charles V, who, when he was only twenty-six years of age, invested him with the Order of the Golden Fleece, and appointed him to several confidential missions such as sending him to England to seek the hand of Queen Mary for Philip II. His principal titles to military glory are two battles which he won against the French: the battle of St-Quentin, which was fought through his vehement per-suasion (1557), and that of Gravelines, the honor of which is due to him exclusively. As a reward for his services he was nominated by Philip II, in 1559, stadtholder of the province of Flanders, and a member of the Council of State for the Low Countries.
But these honors did not satisfy Egmont. Though handsome, brave, rich, generous, and popular, still he viewed with jealousy the prominence given Cardinal Granvella, who was in the confidence of the king. He entered a vigorous protest against the proceedings of this minister and clamored for his removal, going so far as to refuse to sit in the Council of State if Granvella were allowed to remain. His hatred of the king’s favorite led him into the plots of William of Orange against the Spanish Government. Later, when religious troubles broke out in Flanders, it was evident that he did not rise to the occasion; he granted the sectarians concessions emphatically disapproved of by the king and assumed a quite equivocal attitude in the matter of the iconoclasts. It is true that he alleged, in excuse, that there were no troops at his disposal and that he was therefore rendered powerless. On the other hand, he refused to take part in the plots against the Government, and when the Duke of Alva arrived in the Netherlands, he would not follow the Prince of Orange into exile, saying that his was a clear conscience. This attitude cost him his life. With the Count of Hoorn he was arrested by the orders of the duke and condemned to death, despite his appeal to the privilege of the Golden Fleece. Both were declared guilty of high treason by the Conseil des Troubles, a court established by the Duke of Alva, and which was his servile instrument. The two friends were beheaded amid universal grief. Egmont met his death with dignity and Christian resignation; he protested to the last moment his devotion to his religion and his king, and to the latter’s compassion recommended his wife, who, through the confiscation of his property, was left penniless with the care of eleven children. Egmont had been imprudent, but was guilty of no crime. His death was thenceforth one of the principal grievances of the Low Countries against the Spanish Government.