Project 500 Years
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Project 500 Years

Key developments of 1572

Two silver medals cast by the Netherlandish “Beggars”. The one on the left has the interesting inscription “Better Turk than Papist”

Here were the main developments of world-historical impact that happened in 1572 CE:

Protestant “Sea Beggars” in Netherlands establish first land base in Brielle

Back in 1566, a group of Protestant nobles had petitioned the Habsburg (Catholic) regent of the Netherlands to be allowed some freedom of religion, organization, etc, but the regent, Margaret of Parma, derided them as “beggars.” Far from being humiliated, the nobles adopted the name with gusto, declaring themselves the “Beggars’ Party.”

Brielle today

In 1569 William of Orange, who had placed himself at the head of the rebels granted “letters of marque” to a number of vessels, that “permitted” them to capture and loot the cargoes of Habsburg-captained ships. These “privateering” ships became known as the Sea Beggars (“Watergeuzen” in Dutch.) By the end of 1569, 84 well-armed Sea Beggars ships were in action. At first they would carrying their booty to English ports, where they were able to refit and replenish their stores- and also, presumably, to fence their looted treasure.

In 1572, England’s Queen Elizabeth abruptly told them they could no longer do that. So a group of Sea Beggars attacked and were able to seize the West-Netherlands seaport of Brielle, and then the nearby town of Vlissingen. The capture of the two towns prompted several nearby towns to declare for revolt, starting a chain reaction that resulted in the majority of Holland joining in a general revolt and is regarded as the real beginning of Dutch independence.

However, the Habsburgs did not give up easily and the 80 Years’ War continued.

China’s Longqing Emperor dies; experienced Mandarin oversees succession

Zhang Juzheng

Over in the Ming Empire meanwhile, in 1572 the Longqing Emperor died after a fairly undistinguished five-year reign. His successor, who became known as the Wanli Emperor, was his third son, who was only nine or ten years old at the time. Not surprisingly, the person who was the Wanli’s regent for the next ten years had an outsize role in policymaking. This was Zhang Juzheng, a very experienced civil servant who had passed his imperial examinations in 1547.

English-WP tells us this about Zhang:

One of his chief goals was to reform the gentry and rationalize the bureaucracy together with his political rival Gao Gong, who was concerned that offices were providing income with little responsibility… Zhang’s true historical significance comes from his centralization of existing reforms, positing the reformative agency of the state over that of the gentry — the “Legalist” idea of the sovereignty of the state.

The Wanli Emperor deeply respected Zhang as a mentor and valued minister. During the first ten years of the Wanli era, the Ming dynasty’s economy and military power prospered in a way not seen since the [period] from 1402 to 1435. However, after Zhang’s death [in 1582], the Wanli Emperor felt free to act independently, and reversed many of Zhang’s administrative improvements.

Ivan the Terrible routs the Tartar-Ottoman invaders

Last year, we had left the joint army of between 60,000 and 85,000 Crimean Tartars and Ottomans camped somewhere south of Moscow, having just burned a huge portion of the city to the ground. Tsar Ivan and his military had been distracted elsewhere at that point. This year, the Tartar-Ottoman forces tried to attack Moscow again. Were they in for a bad surprise! This time, a Russian force variously estimated at 23,000–25,000 men was waiting for them and had a smart plan to vanquish them.

Reconstruction of the Russians’ “mobile towns”

On 30 July the armies engaged near the village of Molodi, 40 miles (64 km) south of Moscow. The fighting continued for several days, reaching its peak on 8 August. English-WP tells us: “The large amount of close-in fighting made the Tatars’ famed skill in archery quite useless: the battle was fought principally with sabers and spears. Artillery was also used by the Russians to great effect. The outcome was decided by Prince Khvorostinin who bypassed the horde with his gulyay-gorod (гуляй-город, “mobile town”) fortifications and infiltrated into the rear.”

After the battle, only 20,000 Tatar horsemen returned to the Crimea, while their khan, Devlet I Giray, “left his tent and banner on the battlefield and barely managed to escape alive. The battle claimed the lives of his sons and a grandson.”

Yet another War of Religion in France

And so it goes on…

Conquistador capture of Túpac Amaru ends the Neo-Inca State

Túpac Amaru

This item is so sad. Back in 1537, after the defeat of the attempts the Inca remnants had made to recapture Cusco, their leader Manco Inca retreated to Vilcabamba where they set up a small rump state, known as the “Neo-Inca State”, which eventually had a form of coexistence with the Spanish invaders. In 1571, the Neo-Inca ruler Titu Cusi, who had been trying to deal with the Spanish died suddenly, and was succeeded by his 27-year-old brother Túpac Amaru.

In April 1572, the Spanish viceroy decided to conquer Vilcabamba. Túpac Amaru’s forces fought bravely but were eventually forced to retreat.

Long story short, eventually the Spanish managed to capture Túpac Amaru. (They also destroyed the sacred items of the Inca. No surprise.) They hauled him and a few other captives back to Cusco, where they gave him a kangaroo trial and sentenced him to death. English-WP says:

Túpac Amaru mounted the scaffold accompanied by the Bishop of Cuzco. As he did, it was reported by the same witnesses that a “multitude of Indians, who completely filled the square, saw that lamentable spectacle [and knew] that their lord and Inca was to die, they deafened the skies, making them reverberate with their cries and wailing.”

As reported by eyewitnesses Baltasar de Ocampa and Friar Gabriel de Oviedo, Prior of the Dominicans at Cuzco, the Sapa Inca [Túpac Amaru] raised his hand to silence the crowds, and his last words were: “Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yawarniy hichascancuta.” (“Pacha Kamaq [God], witness how my enemies shed my blood.”)…

Túpac Amaru’s memory lived on and would become personified in an important late eighteenth century insurgency that was rooted in aspirations toward a revival of Inca status vis-a-vis the Spanish administration. In 1780, José Gabriel Condorcanqui (Túpac Amaru II), who claimed to be a direct descendant of Túpac Amaru, led an indigenous uprising against continued Spanish presence in Peru alongside his wife Micaela Bastidas.

His legacy was also memorialized by the parents of the Harlem-born, late-20th century musician Lesane Parish Crook who, when the boy was one year old, renamed him Tupac Amaru Shakur. His mother explained, “I wanted him to have the name of revolutionary, indigenous people in the world. I wanted him to know he was part of a world culture and not just from a neighborhood.”

Portuguese writer publishes national epic of “discovery”

The same year that in Peru, the Spanish conquistadors were working hard to snuff out any memory of the Incas’ greatness, Portuguese writer Luís Vaz de Camões was publishing a lengthy epic poem called Os Lusíadas that used a neo-Homeric approach to create what English-WP describes as, “a fantastical interpretation of the Portuguese voyages of discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries.”

It adds:

Os Lusíadas is often regarded as Portugal’s national epic…

The heroes of the epic are the Lusiads ( Lusíadas), the sons of Lusus-in other words, the Portuguese. The initial strophes of Jupiter’s speech in the Concílio dos Deuses Olímpicos (Council of the Olympian Gods), which open the narrative part, highlight the laudatory orientation of the author.

In these strophes, Camões speaks of Viriatus and Quintus Sertorius, the people of Lusus, a people predestined by the Fates to accomplish great deeds. Jupiter says that their history proves it because, having emerged victorious against the Moors and Castilians, this tiny nation has gone on to discover new worlds and impose its law in the concert of the nations. At the end of the poem, on the Island of Love, the fictional finale to the glorious tour of Portuguese history, Camões writes that the fear once expressed by Bacchus has been confirmed: that the Portuguese would become gods.

Illustration for Canto IV of the Lusiad

Originally published at https://justworldnews.org.

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Helena Cobban

Helena Cobban

Veteran analyst of global affairs, with a focus on the Middle East. Senior Fellow, Ctr for International Policy. Fuller bio at my Wikipedia page.