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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Egmont, martyr of the Dutch Revolt

Lamoral, Count of Egmont, Prince of Gavere
(1522-1568) On 4 June, 1568, the Count of Egmont was condemned to death by the Spanish army under the command of the Duque de Alva, and lodged that night in the maison du roi in Brussels. On June 5, 1568, aged only 46, he was beheaded by the Spaniards at the Grande Place in Brussels. Egmont became a hero of the Dutch revolt, and has been famously commemorated, among others, by Goethe and by Beethoven in his Overture, opus 84, of 1810. His death led to public protests throughout the Netherlands, and contributed to the resistance against the Spaniards.

The high-flying, flourishing and triumphant finale of Beethoven's Egmont Overture illustrates the conception of a later Romantic of the significance of Egmont's death as the harbinger and foreshadowing of the freedom of worship and thought in Europe, - a result, as it was then conceived, of the victorious struggle against Catholicism in the Netherlands.

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