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Lamoral Egmont, count of

Egmont, Lamoral, count of (läˌmōrälˈ, ĕgˈmônt) [key], 1522–68, Flemish general and statesman, member of one of the noblest families of the Netherlands. In the service of Philip II of Spain he helped defeat the French at Saint-Quentin (1557) and Gravelines (1558) and was governor of Brabant and Artois. Although a devout Catholic, Egmont protested against the persecution inflicted on the Protestants of the Low Countries, and he helped force the removal of Cardinal Granvelle. In 1565 he journeyed to Madrid to persuade Philip II to change his policy but he failed. When the duke of Alba arrived (1567) at Brussels, he quickly had Egmont and Count Hoorn arrested. Although they had sympathized with William the Silent, they had actually never entertained the thought of treason against their king. Egmont held that Philip was the rightful ruler of the Netherlands and believed he would agree to a compromise with his subjects. Nevertheless, Alba meant to spread terror among the population by securing a death sentence. Egmont and Hoorn, both knights of the Golden Fleece, vainly sought to be tried by a court of their order or even to obtain a fair trial by the judges Alba had appointed. In 1568, Egmont and Hoorn were publicly beheaded in Brussels. Their deaths plunged the Low Countries into a state of unrest and upheaval and are generally considered the immediate cause of the outbreak of open rebellion against Spanish rule. Egmont is the central figure of Goethe's tragedy, Egmont, for which Beethoven composed an overture and incidental music.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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