Holland`s role –  a refuge for the persecuted.

[Extract from Exiles of the Covenant, W.D. Carslaw,  Alexander
Gardner, Paisley,1908.[

  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


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.