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By David Maland

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Trade, religion and politics in the United Provinces The foundations ofDutch prosperity were laid at the end ofthe fifteenth century, when they wrested control of the North Sea herring fisheries from the Hanseatic League. The League, comprising nearly eighty ports around the Baltic and the north Atlantic coasts, had been catching, salting and distributing up to 13,000 tons ofherring each year, but it could no longer compete with the initiative and hard work ofthe Dutch seamen. Recognising that the herring live in shoals near the EURO PE DURING THE TWELVE YEARS TRUCE 16°9-21 45 surface in order to feed upon the plankton, they invented a drift net 350 feet long which they towed at night, when the luminous surface shoals were easily detectable.

The archdukes, however, made no move. So relieved were they at the turn of events, so anxious not to precipitate a general conftict, that they did nothing to saveJülich, nor to prevent the passage of French troops across Luxemburg and Liege. Events were EURO PE DURING THE TWELVE YEARS TRUCE 1609-21 43 beginning to move their way. ' Most important of all was the diplomatic revolution achieved in France by Cardenas, the Spanish ambassador, in alliance with the divots, influential Roman Catholics who disapproved of alliances with Protestants and believed that France should cultivate the friendship of the champion of the Counter-Reformation.

He refused outright and threatened that unless he were given the supreme command he would return to private life in Genoa. Spinola's ability to raise 5 million florins on his own account carried the day, and he returned to Flanders as head of the junta de hacienda and maestre de campo general. Any direct assault on the Dutch position from the south involved crossing the Maas, the Waal, the Linge and the Lek. In 1605, therefore, Spinola left a force under Henri van der Bergh to hold Flanders against any surprise move by Maurice, and, by crossing the Maas and the Waal alone, led the main army into Cleves, from where he was able to threaten the Dutch fron tier at its weakest point, in Overijssel.

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