Philipe de Croÿ, Duke of Aerschot

Philipe de Croÿ, Duke of Aerschot

Philipe de Croÿ, Duke of Aerschot (1526 – 1595), governor-general of Flanders, was born at Valenciennes and inherited the estates of the ancient and wealthy family of Croÿ. Becoming a soldier, he was made a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece by Philip II, king of Spain, and was afterwards employed in diplomatic work.

He took part in the troubles in the Netherlands, and in 1563 refused to join William the Silent and others in their efforts to remove Cardinal Granvelle from his post. This attitude, together with Arschot's devotion to the Roman Catholic Church, which he expressed by showing his delight at the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, led Philip of Spain to regard him with still greater favor, which, however, was withdrawn in consequence of Aerschot's ambiguous conduct when welcoming the new governor, John of Austria (Don Juan de Austria), to the Netherlands in 1576.

In spite, however, of his being generally distrusted by the inhabitants of the Netherlands, he was appointed governor of the citadel of Antwerp when the Spanish troops withdrew in 1577. After a period of vacillation he deserted Don John towards the end of that year. Jealous of the Prince of Orange, he was then the head of the party which induced the Archduke Matthias (afterwards emperor) to undertake the sovereignty of the Netherlands, and soon afterwards was appointed governor of Flanders by the state council. A strong party, including the burghers of Ghent, distrusted the new governor; and Arschot, who was taken prisoner during a riot at Ghent, was only released on promising to resign his office. He then sought to regain the favor of Philip of Spain, and having been pardoned by the king in 1580 again shared in the government of the Netherlands; but he refused to serve under the count of Fuentes when he became governor-general in 1594, and retired to Venice, where he died in of December 1595.

Aarschot is a town in Flanders, Belgium.

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