Charles V greeted Philip in Brussels on 8 September; once again, the emperor was reduced to tears by a reunion with his son. On 25 October 1555 in the Great Hall of the Palace of Brussels, in one of the most romantic ceremonies in European political history, Charles renounced the Low Countries in favour of Philip. He spoke movingly of the forty journeys that he had made on land and sea and of the wars that he had fought against infidel and Christian. He exhorted Philip to have regard above all his other responsibilities for the maintenance of the Catholic religion and for the execution of justice. As a separate but ancillary act, Charles had three days earlier handed over to Philip the command of the Order of the Golden Fleece, the chivalric order founded in 1430 that was the embodiment of Burgundian culture. He now formally confirmed that endowment, emphasising in the most public manner the commitment that he was imposing upon his son to maintain the Burgundian heritage. Replying in Spanish, Philip insisted that he would have preferred Charles to have remained in office until his death, but he swore to execute the responsibilities that now fell to him ‘to the utmost’ of his power. He and Charles embraced emotionally. The audience, or much of it, was moved to tears. Philip then had to address the assembly but because he could not speak more than a few words of French or Flemish he had Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, bishop of Arras, perform the task for him. It was a moment as poignant as it was embarrassing: the Low Countries had passed into foreign hands.
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