Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

John Bohstedt

Committee Members

John R. Finger, Michael McDonald, Paul Barette


By situating the language of Philippe de Marnix in its cultural context, I identify his ideology or rebellion which for him justified the Dutch Revolt. Marnix's problem was to accommodate Calvinist freedom of conscience in a society which traditionally linked heresy and sedition. According to the accepted theory of correspondences, God created the universe, and thus earthly order corresponded to heavenly order. To disturb the peace and order of society was to do the work of the Devil and threaten total destruction--the apocalypse--strict conformity to secular and sacred authority, which were seen as united to preserve order was required.

This dissertation reveals a shift in the concept of order. Marnix justified the Calvinist rebellion against Catholicism on the grounds Catholicism did not correspond to God's spiritual order. He then justified the Dutch Revolt against Philip II by claiming that Philip caused a disturbance of earthly order (peace and prosperity) by attempting to suppress Calvinism. Thus, Philip was a tyrant to be removed legitimately by the States of Holland and Zeeland. Marnix separated the link between sacred and secular order. He reserved religious conscience to private order, which was not subject to public interference so long as temporal disorder was not created. This separation of sacred from secular order was institutionalized in the Dutch Republic, which allowed individual freedom of conscience, whereby being a good subject or citizen did not require conforming to a state or provincial church.

Traditional historiography of a Calvinist ideological justification of rebellion has focused on France and consequently dates its emergence only after St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572. However, if one studies the Low Countries and the works of Marnix, one finds a Calvinist ideology of rebellion articulating a new separation of sacred and secular order fully in place by 1567.

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