Papal Intrigues in Germany under the reigns of Otho I—of Henry IV.—of Henry V—of Frederic I—of Frederic II—of Conrad IV.—of ALbert I—of Henry VII—of Louis of Bavaria— of Charles IV.—of Sigis-mund—of Charles V.—of Ferdinand II,—Papal Intrigues in Austria—in Prussia—and in the Netherlands.
Wittikind the Great, King of Saxony, after a vigorous resistance for thirty-three years against the arms of Charlemagne, the confederate of the pope, submitted to be baptized to spare the further effusion of the blood of his subjects. But in the events of one hundred years, the conquered became the emperors, and the Franks were supplanted on the throne by the Saxons. From the time that the Carlovingian dynasty was established until the dissolution of the empire in 1806, the secular power had to continually struggle against the intrigues and usurpations of the Papal See.
The pope's claim of being the disposer of crowns, and the source of secular power, achieved something of a triumph in 962, when through a crafty policy the pontiff bestowed the diadem on Otho. From motives of policy the emperor conceded the spiritual claims of the pope, but prudently nullified them by placing him under his authority. While Otho acknowledged that he was emperor by the grace of God and the pope, he required the latter, who was John XII., to swear allegiance to him, and the Roman See to enter into a solemn agreement with him that henceforth no pope should be chosen except in the presence of a Germanic imperial commission. This judicious check on the intriguing policy of the Papal See, was too unpleasant to be tolerated longer than weakness made it unavoidable. Presumptuous as false, Pope John XII. was led to violate his oath of allegiance, and to take up arms to acquire independence of secular authority. For this act of perjury, treason, and violation of a solemn treaty—which in a layman would have been a capital offence, but in a priest was aggravated by the additional crime of hypocrisy—the emperor could not do less than depose him.
In the papal monarchy virtue and ability were seldom conspicuous, and generally when either appeared in its administration, it was less the offspring of Catholicism than of the Germanic authority. The emperors of Germany were far better men than the popes of Rome. While the first labored to reform the church, the latter did little else than corrupt it. Virtue, the foundation of public order and concord, could not but be encouraged in the subjects by a sagacious monarch; and vice, the indulgent mother of fraud and imposition, could not but be cultivated by a crafty and ambitious priest. In the progress of the conduct of the papal and the imperial policy, so mutually antagonistical, Henry III., who became Emperor of Germany in 1046, had to depose three popes, and to fill the papal chair during his life with men of his own choice. He also held the papal monarchy under strict surveillance, and forbade the bestowal of any spiritual dignity, or the appropriation of any church property without his sanction. The wholesome effects of his severity won commendations even from those upon whom they were most rigorously enforced; in proof of which it may be stated that the clergy spontaneously bestowed on him the title of "The Pious," which he condescended to accept.
In 1056 Henry IV. ascended the throne of Germany. The Papal See, bitterly groaning under the jealous restraint which had been imposed on it by the secular authority, eagerly watched, and artfully intrigued for an opportunity to remove them. The impolitic and tyrannical conduct of Henry IV. appeared, perhaps in its eye, as a providential circumstance designed to aid the success of its long cherished design. The emperor, governed by the advice of Archbishop Adelbert, attempted, by building castles, and committing brutal and violent acts, to rule his people through the terror of his authority. Neglecting to guard popular interests, which alone can secure popular attachment, his efforts to overawe his subjects produced only dissatisfaction and insurrection. In an outburst of popular violence provoked by his imprudence, considerable damage was done to some churches in Saxony and Thuringia. These disorders gave Henry the opportunity of gratifying his revengeful feelings in accusing the inhabitants before the pope of sacrilege, and of entering their territory and perpetrating the most barbarous cruelty. The consequences of this proceeding eventuated in such a favorable crisis to the papal designs, that, had the ablest pope projected and engineered them they could not have culminated more propitiously. The injured and exasperated inhabitants appealed to the pope. Pope Gregory VII., having ascended the papal throne without the consent of the German court, eagerly embraced a cause which enabled him to assert his claim claim to independent sovereignty, and supremacy over all secular authority. Fully aware that the tyranny of Henry had deprived him of the affections and support of his subjects, he commanded the unpopular monarch to appear before him, under pain of excommunication. In punishment for this ferocious warrant the emperor summoned a council of bishops at Worms, and obliged them to renounce their allegiance to Gregory. This daring act so irritated the pope that he began to lavish, with unsparing liberality, anathemas on the head of the monarch. Henry at first treated this display of arrogated divinity with scornful indifference, but his vices had too much disembarrassed the action of the papal machinery not to allow it to disable his power and revenge. His subjects disowned their allegiance to him; his friends deserted him; his soldiers disobeyed his orders; and he found himself helplessly at the mercy of a revengeful and irritated priest. With a refinement of malice that seems to do credit to papal ingenuity, at least, the emperor was required to dress in penitential robes, formally to solicit for three days an interview with the sacerdotal despot, and then to promise unconditional obedience to him in all things. But the acts of tyranny carry with them the seeds of retribution. The tyrant who could impose such conditions on a fallen foe, could also have been guilty, in the exercise of his power, of inflicting injuries on his subjects which would be calculated to excite a disposition to revolt and retaliation, This was precisely the case with Pope Gregory VII. He had oppressed the Italian provinces to such a degree that the inhabitants longed for an opportunity to depose him; and now the misfortunes of Henry appearing to render him an available agent in the accomplishment of their designs, they proposed a coalition with him. The pope becoming acquainted with this secret machination, set about to counteract it. By the operation of his skilful machinery he was enabled suddenly to create a conspiracy in the heart of Germany, for the deposition of the emperor; but the vigilance and valor of the latter defeated the revolutionary movement. Having in vain exhausted all resources to subject the incorrigible monarch to his absolute authority, he now sought to beguile the mortification of his defeat by hurling anathemas at his obstinate head. But the temper of Henry not disposing him to indulge the chagrined pope in insolent sports, summoned a council of German and Italian bishops at Brixen, and by proving to their satisfaction that Pope Gregory VII. was a heretic, a sorcerer, and had dealings with the devil, effected his degradation, and placed Clement III. in the papal chair.
The spirit and pretensions of Catholicism are so inimical to secular authority that, to whatever extent they obtain a controlling influence in a government they tend to abridge its sovereignty, and threaten its subversion. This tendency, so clearly indicated by the principles of the papal monarchy, and so fearfully illustrated in its history, is incapable of being restrained by any sense of gratitude, or by any obligation of oaths, A knowledge of this unhappy truth will prevent surprise that the munificent favors which Henry bestowed on Pope Clement III., in elevating him to the papal dignity, should not have caused the repeal of the anathemas and excommunications which had been pronounced against him, nor arrested the papal machinery in its insidious and treacherous operations, in fostering the elements of discord which existed in the empire. Nothing but the surrender of the principles of sovereignty will ever conciliate a pope to the authority of a secular government. The prudence, courage, and talents of the king were hence constantly called into requisition to defeat the secret machinations of his enemies. His eldest son was instigated to rebel against him. After he had subdued him, his second son, whom he had crowned as his successor, obliged him to surrender into his hands the imperial authority. By the implacable revenge of the Papal See, operating through its varied machinery, he was deprived of power, reduced to scorn and neglect, and after it had murdered him by degrees, prohibited the interment of his anathematized corpse in consecrated ground.
After Henry V., in 1106, had wrung from his father's hand the imperial sceptre, he sought to have this atrocious act sanctified in the eyes of his subjects by being crowned at Rome by the pope—Paschal II. This sanction of unfilial conduct the pope was willing to accord; but as it seemed to present an opportunity for making a good speculation, he exacted, as the only condition on which the favor could be granted, a concession to the Holy See of all the rights and privileges which had been claimed for it by Pope Gregory VII.
This proposition startled Henry; he saw the ambitious designs of the pope, and he felt the importance of checking them. Boldly denying the papal pretensions, and rejecting with indignant contempt the proposition of Paschal, he marched his army on Rome, dragged the pope from the altar while he was celebrating mass, and casting him into prison, determined that he should there remain until he consented to crown him without any condition. To be restored to liberty and luxury the pope acceded to all the terms dictated to him by the emperor, but with a secret disposition to render them nugatory at the first opportunity. Disturbances occurring in Germany, the pope was agreeably relieved of the embarrassing restraints of the emperor's presence. To suppress the Germanic revolution the skill and valor of Henry was occupied for two years. In the meantime the pope, in order to nullify the concessions which he had made, organized an Italian conspiracy against the emperor. Soon as Henry had quelled the insubordination in Germany, he therefore returned to Italy to punish the author of the calamities of his reign. But Pope Paschal evaded the designed chastisement by absconding to Apulea, where he shortly afterwards died.
Pope Galatius II., an enemy of Henry, having obtained the papal dignity, the latter deposed him, and caused Bourden, under the name of Gregory VIII., to be substituted in his place. The deposed pope and his cardinals, having the control of the papal machinery, were enabled to oppose, with great success, the policy of Henry in every part of his dominion. Galatius assembled a council of bishops at Vienna and excommunicated him; Calaxtus II. convened one at Rheims, and repeated the sentence; the nobles broke out in frequent rebellion; and finally such insubordination prevailed in the empire, and such violent outbursts so frequently disturbed the public peace, that in order to restore tranquillity Henry was compelled to subscribe to a concordat at Worms, in which he renounced the right of investiture, and to any interference in the consecration of bishops.
Frederic I. succeeded to the imperial throne in 1152. The increasing opulence and power of the Italian and Lombardine cities owing allegience to Germanic authority, the ambitious aspirations of the Papal See for illimitable dominion, and the insidious operations of its machinery in producing public taste and opinion in harmony with its desires, had, at the beginning of the reign of Frederic I., produced revolts and usurpations in Lombardy and Italy, which obliged the emperor to visit and chastise the insurrectionary districts. Pope Alexander III., the chief source of the public discord, fled on the approach of Frederic to France, and excommunicated him. A league was then formed between the pope, Venice, and the Greek empire against Frederic; and for twenty years the calamities of war were protracted. The cruelty which the emperor had exercised towards the rebellious cities created a desperate opposition to his authority, and exercised an important influence in stimulating the valor and energy of the people, by which their freedom was finally achieved in the treaty of Venice in 1177.
The spiritual and temporal crown of the world which the Roman See attempted to manufacture out of the fishhooks of St. Peter, however visionary it might originally have appeared, assumed in the progress of the papal political intrigues, the appearance of a stubborn, formidable and frightful reality. With the profound policy which it elaborated, and the systematic course of measures which it adopted, accommodated to all exigencies and pursued through all periods, and at all places; with its' machinery ramifying the political, social, and literary institutions of Christendom; with its confessors transmitting to Rome every important fact; with its inquisition extorting from victims an admission of every false charge of which ecclesiastical interests required the establishment; with its preachers and spiritual guides manufacturing, private and public opinion suitable to its demands by perverted facts and false statements; and with its army of monks, knights, sycophant princes, servile kings, and deluded devotees; it had at the period of Pope Innocent III. subjugated Christendom under its despotic authority. During the progress of its aggressive course the voice of reason and patriotism had often lifted up remonstrances against its advancement; but the eloquent tones died away unheeded amid the clamorous chaunts of superstitious rites. But now, after supineness had allowed it to amass supreme and despotic power, and fortify itself by every means of defence, the antagonism of the people began to be energetically manifested. It is the fate of despotism of every form, when it has developed the full strength of its all-blasting power, to awaken another power destined to trample it in the dust. That power is the strength which slumbers in the popular arm. When the papal despotism was no more a pretension, but a fact, when it stood distinctly before the world clotted with the blood of generations, surrounded by broken sceptres and crushed thrones, with its feet on the neck of kings and people, and its usurping hand grasping at the crowns of earth, heaven and hell, a murmur of horror broke from the lips of the world. Then learning began to scoff at its claims, research to expose its frauds, wit to ridicule its pretensions; and then religious liberty, through the Albigenses and Waldenses uttered that memorable peal, which is destined to reverberate as an undying tone through all future ages. Then arose the free cities from their long degradation, and began to perfect their internal organizations by the establishment of corporations; then appeared the first universities, arousing the dormant spirit of free inquiry and investigation; then the abrogation of the system of violence began to restore public security; and then the separate members of the empire began to be assembled and deliberate on public affairs, originating the principle of the provincial diets.
Frederic II., son of the emperor Henry VI., was born at this illustrious period of German history. Philip, Duke of Suabia, was nominated regent during Frederic's minority, but the pope, wishing a more pliant instrument, substituted Berthold. Finding this scheme impracticable he recommended Otho, and Philip being murdered, the papal policy succeeded. But the pope soon found that his intrigue had vested with power a mortal foe to the Papal See. For Otho clearly manifested a design of not only wresting Sicily from Frederic, which the latter inherited from his mother, princess of Constance, but of establishing the authority of Germany over certain possessions of Italy which it claimed as an inheritance. To counteract the mistake of his policy the pope took Frederic under his protection, and called into requisition all the power of his machinery. At the age of twenty-one years he crowned his protege Emperor of Germany; but in order to bind him to his interests he exacted a coronation oath that he would undertake a crusade in behalf of the church. Frederic, enjoying the favor and influence of the pope, and the advantageous co-operation of his machinery, soon defeated Otho, and became sole sovereign of the empire.
With a grasp of intellect, and versatility of talent that rarely have sprung from a royal cradle, Frederic II. elaborated projects which, although they transcended the liberality and enlightenment of his age, yet laid the foundation for their development in a future period. The possession of the German and Sicilian crowns led him to hope that he would be able to repress the powerful hierarchy of Rome, and reduce the pope to the dignity of a bishop. Impressed with the importance of this object, and the difficulty of its accomplishment, he slowly and cautiously removed obstacle after obstacle, and selected the elements for his great enterprise. As a preliminary measure he caused his son to be crowned King of Rome. This act alarmed the jealousy of Pope Honorious III., who desired to be acquainted with the motive of it. The emperor replied that his coronation oath required him to undertake a crusade, and the fulfilment of it rendered it necessary to invest his son with regal authority. However ungratifying this reasoning was to the pope, he could not refute it, and as the emperor promised to deal severely with the heretics, and to exclude them from offices of trust or profit, he became greatly pacified. In maturing his measures for the restoration of the Italian empire, the emperor procrastinated for twelve years the fulfilment of his undertaking, a crusade; and though the pope frequently reminded him of the solemnity of his obligation, yet his apologies were so plausible that they seemed fully to justify the delay. The inexplicable mystery of Frederic's conduct, however, excited the apprehensions of Pope Gregory IX.—and to get rid of his presence in Europe he peremptorily demanded that he should undertake the promised crusade. With a show of obedience to the pope's injunction, he commenced preparing for the enterprise, but upon such an extensive scale, and so interruptedly and slowly that it damped the fire, consumed the provisions, and thinned the ranks of the pilgrims. At length he set sail with his fleet, but becoming indisposed after three days' voyage returned home. The return of his formidable army alarmed the fears of the pope, who appears to have equally dreaded the success of his arms abroad and of his presence at home. Adopting the customary policy of the popes in their emergency, he endeavored to embarrass the designs of Frederic by pronouncing sentence of excommunication on him, and suspending all religious services in his dominions. The justice of this sentence being attempted to be supported by the failure of the emperor to fulfil his coronation oath, Frederic endeavored to nullify it, if not in the eyes of the pope, yet in those of the people, by undertaking a vigorous crusade. But the infallible pope who had excommunicated him for not becoming a crusader, now excommunicated him for becoming one. During the emperor's absence the pope preached a crusade against him in his own dominions, organized a conspiracy against him, and devastated his empire with his own troops. That he might weaken the power and popularity of the emperor abroad, he ordered the bishops and knights of the army of the cross in Palestine to dispute his command and oppose his designs. But the remarkable genius of Frederic, undaunted by difficulties, and unimpressible by discouragement and reverses, made him victorious, as well over the arms of the Turks as over the intrigues of the pope. He entered Jerusalem in triumph; and, not finding a bishop who would incur the papal anathemas by crowning him, he performed the ceremony himself. The success of Frederic filled Christendom with joy, but the pope with indignation. He declared every church into which he entered profaned; interdicted the celebration of divine worship in Jerusalem; and such was his influence with the chivalrous knighthood, that among its members were found persons base enough to secretly inform the Sultan how he might dispose of his victor, by assassination, in his customary visits to the river Jordan. But the magnanimity of the Sultan rejected the proposition with contempt, and communicated the matter to the emperor to place him on his guard.
While Frederic exacted from the pope what justice and self respect demanded, he was so far from being disposed to treat him with unnecessary rigor that, when his vices and tyranny had excited his subjects into a rebellion, he interposed in his behalf and restored tranquillity, An act so generous in the emperor should have awakened in the pope an equal degree of magnanimity, but so far was he incapable of any sense of gratitude, that he instigated the emperors son to conspire against him, and assured him of the assistance of the Lombards. This conspiracy was detected, and defeated in its bud; and, the emperor regarding his son more as the victim of sacerdotal craft than as a real foe to his authority, pardoned his disloyalty. The sense of gratitude naturally arising from this act of clemency, added to the weight of filial affection, should have been sufficient to form a disposition which would have subjected the son to the most affectionate subordination to the father. But the dispensations and absolutions with which the church pretends to nullify social and civil obligations, unhappily interfered with the natural instincts of the son's mind, and led him to add to the guilt of his treason, the ignominy of attempting to assassinate his father. This atrocious act cancelling every obligation of nature, would have justified the emperor in proceeding to extremes; but his native magnanimity prevailed, and he sentenced his son to perpetual banishment.
The success of the policy of Frederic comprehended a union of the hostile elements of his southern territory, the subjugation of the Germanic aristocracy, and of the Italian cities in alliance with the pope. Preparatory to the execution of this policy he made some conquests in Lombardy These successes excited the revenge of the pope, who accordingly visited on his head another excommunication. But the Vatican thunder was allowed to roll on, as amid its music the emperor inarched on from victory to victory. At length, in the development of the policy of Frederic, the time arrived for striking a decisive blow at the heart of the public disorder. By a sudden movement he entered the papal dominions. The pope trembled on his throne. He saw his monarchy at the mercy of an emperor, whom he had anathematized, whose son he had taught to rebel, whose subjects he had corrupted, and whose downfall he had labored to effect. The consummation of the policy of Frederic was in his grasp; but the magnificent prospect which skill and valor had obtained, superstition blasted. Having some reverence for the office, though none for the character of the pope, and conscious of the powerful influence it wielded over the superstitious, he ventured to listen to the papal monarch, who professed a willingness to concede all his demands, but proposed that they should first be sanctioned by a council of the bishops of the church. The emperor soon perceived, but too late, that this specious proposition was but a popish device. The preliminaries for holding the proposed council established the fact, that the pope intended to have it chiefly composed of the most inveterate enemies of the emperor; in fact none but such were invited to participate in its proceedings. Frederic felt justified, therefore, in forbidding the convention to assemble. As his prohibition was disregarded, he intercepted a Genoese fleet of one hundred bishops, and brought them captive to Naples. This manoeuvre broke up the council, and perhaps broke the pope's heart, as he shortly afterwards died.
Cardinal Fiesco, a warm friend of the emperor, became Pope Innocent IV.; but the dignity of pope making him regard the emperor as hostile to his monarchial pretensions; converted his former friendship into bitter annimosity. Returning to Lyons, he confirmed all the anathemas that had been pronounced against Frederic, and summoned him to appear at the bar of a grand council to be convened at that place. In the proceedings of this council the most ridiculous and groundless charges were preferred against Frederic, and though completely refuted by his deputies, yet as the proceedure was merely the semblance of a judicial trial, to sanction preconcerted malice and revenge by forms of legality, the council did not hesitate to declare him guilty, any proof of innocence to the contrary, It seems to have concentrated its ingenuity in devising new and unheard of methods to give terrific importance to the ventilation of its hate. An anathema was pronounced on the body and soul of the emperor, and on all his interests, friends and allies. While pronouncing these religious curses, the priests, like fiends administering at some infernal ceremonies, held in their hands lighted torches, and upon its conclusion suddenly extinguished them; and by the theatrical trick of uttering discordant shrieks and howls, seemed in the darkness of the cathedral to have converted the holy place into the lower regions, peopled with the arch-fiend and his agents. Though these artistical elaborations were not without some effect, yet the vigor of the emperor's genius, the magnanimity which he constantly displayed, his vast popularity, and the triumph of his arms—which continued to his death—demonstrated to the intelligent that there was no real curse in the papal anathemas.
Conrad IV., son of Frederic II., became emperor of Germany in 1250. Innocent IV., whose policy it was to profess any friendship, and violate any obligation that contributed to his interests, determined to complete on the son the vengeance he had commenced on the father. Presumptuous as vindictive he declared that inasmuch as Frederic II. had been excommunicated, his son could not inherit the throne. On the ground of this ridiculous pretext, he pronounced him dispossessed of all his inheritance; laid on him an interdict; and persecuted him by all the means which his power and influence afforded. But notwithstanding a revengeful pope, whose malice through his machinery operated everywhere, yet, he had more than his equal to contend with. The courage and heroism of Conrad defeated the papal army, kept the pope's allies in check, and was about to enter Lombardy with the fairest prospects of success when his illegitimate brother, by administering poison to him, relieved the pope of a formidable adversary.
Conradin, son of Conrad IV., the last of the noble house of Hohenstaufen, was the heir to the throne, The pope refused to acknowledge his right to succession, because his father had been excommunicated. He declared also that Conradin had forfeited his right of inheritance to the crown of Naples and Sicily, and undertook to bestow it on Charles of Anjou. But Conradin entered Italy and defeated the usurper; but while he was pursuing the flying enemy with too much recklessness, he was captured by the vanquished. The world expected that his youth and valor could not but win compassion even from the iron-hearted pope, but the intense hatred of the papal monarch to the noble house of which this intrepid lad was the last scion, would not permit him to allow an opportunity to escape of extinguishing it forever. Conradin was therefore, though but sixteen years old, publicly executed as a criminal; but his heroism, and the circumstances under which he met death, crowned his memory with immortal honor, while it cast a deeper tinge of ignominy on the already blackened character of the pope.
The usurpation of territory, and interference in political affairs, which are so strongly characteristic of the papal policy, originate from the constitutional principles of the Roman See. In conformity with them Pope Boniface VIII. proclaimed himself King of Rome; and declared that the Roman See was the source whence the Germanic electors derived their rights. Albert I. being chosen emperor by the electors in 1298; was summoned by the pope to appear before him and apologize for having accepted the crown without consulting his pleasure, and to expiate the guilt of his offence by the performance of such penance as should be prescribed. To enforce compliance with this injunction the pope formed an allegiance with the archbishop of Mentz, a powerful military bishop, and a former friend of Albert. To resist the belligerent pope Albert effected an alliance with Philip la Belle, of France. Making a sudden diversion into the electorate of Mentz, Albert obliged the bishop to form a league with him for five years. The pope then suggested peaceful negotiation rather than disastrous war. It was finally agreed between the two contracting parties that the pope should give to Albert the possessions of his ally, and that Albert should acknowledge that the western empire was a grant as a fief from the pope, that the electors derived their right from the Roman See, and that he would defend the papal interests with his arms. The pope then proceeded, by virtue of an excommunication, to invalidate the title of Louis la Belle, of France, to his kingdom, and officially to transfer it to Albert I.
During the reign of Henry VII., who became emperor of Germany in 1308, the tyranny and ambition of the pope were held in decent check, and the Papal See was unusually quiet and respectable. The emperor, whom the pope hated, but whom he dared not anathematize, was finally removed by poison administered in the sacramental wine, by Moltipulcian, a Dominican monk. Soon as this event occurred the pope's vengeance, which had been accumulating in fury for years, but which was too much overawed to utter a murmur, now burst forth with the most impetuous and indecent violence in anathemas on the soul, the corpse, the coffin, and the tomb of the dead emperor; but it is not supposed that they done any damage, except to the character and good sense of the Roman See.
Louis IV., of Bavaria, became emperor of Germany in 1330, To arrest the encroachments of the Papal See on the rights of the sovereignty of the empire, the diet of Rense framed a constitution, in 1338, which provided that the choice of the electors of the union should be final in its decision, and independent of the Pope of Rome. These patriotic proceedings seemed to the pope to be interfering with his rights; and John XXI. accordingly prohibited the performance of divine worship in the empire, until the obnoxious constitution should be annulled. But Louis soon repaired this calamity by the creation of Pope Nicholas V., who, having equal authority with Pope John XXI., nullified all his acts. Pope Clement VII., who succeeded to the papal throne in 1342, excommunicated Louis, and by his intrigues caused five electors to declare in favor of Charles of Luxemburg. This violation of the celebrated constitution of 1338 induced three electors to assemble at Lahstein, and declare the choice of Charles null and void; and as Louis had died, they elected Edward of England, but he declining, they elected Frederic the Severe; he also declining, the crown was finally settled on Gunter of Schwarzburg. But Gunter being removed by poison, the papal policy triumphed in the coronation of Charles of Luxemburg.
Charles IV., in 1346, wishing to be crowned by the pope at Rome, visited Italy to negotiate for that favor; Pope Innocent VI., always inclined to make the vanity and ambition of his subjects administer to his aggrandizement, signified a disposition to accommodate the emperor, but on such disgraceful conditions that, by accepting them he subjected himself to the scorn and derision of the world. This self-degradation was much aggravated by the fact that many distinguished Romans, oppressed by the papal administration, united in requesting Charles to claim the city of Rome as a portion of his empire. Instead of improving this opportunity to extend the limits of his government, he renounced all rights, not only to the city of Rome, but to the States of the Church, to Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. He also consented to impose a tax on the empire for the benefit of the Papal See, equal to one-tenth of the ecclesiastical revenues; and further added to his disgrace by taking an oath never to enter Italy without the pope's sanction. For this base sycophancy he was assailed by princes and people with a storm of indignation. To allay the fury of this tempest he announced an intention of convening a council for the reformation of the clergy, and for making liberal concessions to the popular demands. But this attempt to calm the people aroused the indignation of the Papal See. The pope exhorted the electors to depose him instantly. Assailed on all sides, dangers thickening around him from all quarters, but dreading less the indignation of the empire than the anathema of the Roman See, he yielded to the dictation of the pope and confirmed the clergy in all their privileges, sanctioned all their abuses, protected them in all their possessions, and made them entirely independent of the secular power.
The papal power, at the period of Frederic II., seemed to tremble on the verge of inevitable destruction; but by a profound and unscrupulous policy, and a system of crafty intrigues, aided by a political machinery whose various parts ramified every portion of the empire, and acted in concert through all ages and dynasties, it had steadily carried its advancements through the blood of millions and the ruins of thrones, until, at the time of Charles, it had regained its supremacy in the empire; and dictated treaties to the emperors, measures to the diets, and laws to the people. A power that could at its option excite or quell a popular outburst, create or destroy a dynasty, might be an object of terror to people and princes, but never an object of reverence. The dread it cast on the mind was always unpleasant, and in proportion as its power became oppressive and disadvantageous, opposition and resistance were inevitably excited. The love of independence, the native individualism of the Germanic character, was always a mortal foe to papal despotism. It might be cowered into silence, but it still grew in vigor, became more impatient as the pope became more despotic, and bolder as it became more conscious of its numerical strength. This spirit, in 1411, when Sigismund became Emperor of Germany, displayed an energy prophetic of stirring events and important consequences. The spirit of Germanic individualism led distinguished men of the nation to deny, with emphatic boldness, the pretensions of the pope; to denounce the profligacy of the clergy; and to demand in the body and head of the church a thorough reformation. Prominent among the apostles of religious freedom, which rose into consequence at that time, was John Huss, and his disciples. The success of these reformers excited and alarmed the pope. Hating any semblance of a right to participate in his authority, or to assume any approach to an equality with him, he was strongly averse to the assembling of a deliberative council; but conscious that his divine attributes and prerogatives were not adequate to the existing emergency, he consented that the Council of Constance should be called, on condition that it should adopt the most energetic means for the extirpation of the heretics.. With the secret design of betraying the amiable reformer, John Huss, he was invited to respond in person to a summons of the council. To quiet his apprehensions of danger, the emperor furnished him with a safe conduct, and the pope pledged his honor to protect him from harm. Thus guarded by the honor of the state and the church, he was, notwithstanding, perfidiously betrayed, and condemned to be burnt alive. The perfidy of the infallible pope is justified by the saints and authorities of the Catholic church, on the ground that no pledge, assurance, or oath, can rightfully protect a heretic from punishment. Sigis-mund attended the horrid ceremonies; and being reminded by a by-stander that the course of the wind might bear an offensive efluvia to the position he occupied, answered: "The odor of a burning heretic can never be offensive to Sigismund."
The death of John Huss was terribly revenged. The stake became the watchword of union. The hitherto mild and submissive reformers became desperate revengers. Churches and convents were burnt; monks and priests slaughtered without mercy. The insurgents met and defeated the imperial forces. The strongest armies of the cross withered before their ferocity. For fifteen years they devastated the Papal dominions, and shook the government with the violence of their retribution. Seeing it impossible to restrain their rage, Sigismund obliged the Council of Basle to negotiate with them for the adjustment of their difficulties. This politic measure so incensed Pope Eugenius IV., whose uncompromising vengeance longed for the extermination of every opponent to papal despotism, that he ordered his legates to dissolve the obnoxious assembly. But the laity had advanced in liberality and knowledge far beyond the possible attainment of a papal despot, and in defiance of his maledictions and intrigues, continued their useful session, and terminated, by peaceful concessions, the war with the Hussites.
The grand struggle between religious freedom and Catholic despotism was visibly approaching when Charles V., King of Spain, in 1519 became Emperor of Germany. His design was to conquer the world, and his policy was to unite all parties in augmenting the national strength. To secure the favor of the pope, and the co-operation of his extensive and effective machinery, he declared himself the defender of the Catholic faith. To conciliate the Protestants he convened a diet at Worms, at which, under a plausible show of toleration he allowed Luther, in his presence, to defend the principles of the reformation. But his ambiguous policy becoming offensive to the Roman See, he issued an edict against the Protestants. A Catholic from interest, he was more disposed to make the pope auxiliary to the success of his designs than to be governed by him. Hence, when Francis I. preferred claims to certain portions of the Germanic empire, he leagued with the pope and accomplished the defeat of the king; but he was equally disposed to defend his interests against the pope. The papal monarch, always apprehensive of the political power of friend or foe, seeing that his confederacy with Charles had vastly augmented the latter's preponderating power, and placed the papal interests at his disposal, formed against him a counter league with the Italian States. This effort to retrieve the errors of his policy only aggravated his misfortune. The forces of the Holy League were defeated by the arms of Charles, Rome taken by storm, the city plundered, the pope imprisoned, and four hundred thousand crowns of gold demanded for his ransom. When Charles heard of the success of his arms, in evident mockery he dressed himself in mourning for the pope, ordered masses to be said in all the churches for his deliverance from prison, and in alleviation of his misfortune reduced the ransom to 100,000 crowns, The power of Charles overawing the papal throne, it prudently refrained from venting in insulting anathemas the ebullitions of its wrath. Pope Clement VII., after the peace of Cambray in 1592, crowned Charles as King of Lombardy and Rome.
On this occasion the emperor dutifully kissed the feet of the papal monarch. The cause of this affection and harmony was shortly afterwards manifested in an intolerant edict against the Protestants. This significant menace led the Protestant princes to form the Smalkalden League for the protection of Protestantism. Two years afterwards a holy league was formed by the Catholic princes for the protection of Catholicism. After some abortive attempts at negotiation, the Protestant league raised the standard of war. The emperor by strategetic movements, and by creating jealousy and divisions among the Protestant confederates, obtained important advantages over their arms, and finally succeeded in dissolving the league. But Maurice of Saxony had secretly formed another league, which was joined by Henry II., King of France. While Charles was at Innspruck, attending the Council of Trent, Maurice suddenly appeared at the head of an army, and the emperor barely escaped amid the darkness of a stormy night from being captured. The council was consequently dissolved, and the Protestants dictated the terms of peace at Passau; which the emperor ratified at Augsburg. By the terms of this treaty it was agreed that no one should be attacked on account of his religious belief; that no one should be molested in the enjoyment of his property or mode of worship; that religious disputes should be adjusted by pacific means; that persons for religious reasons should be allowed to change their residences; that bishops on becoming Protestants should forfeit their office and salary; and that every Protestant should enjoy his faith until a religious compromise should be established!
Charles, broken down in health and constitution, enfeebled in mind, and conceiving that he was haunted by some invisible power which blasted all his prospects, abdicated the throne and retired to a monastery, where he passed the remainder of his life in making wooden clocks, and in performing his funeral ceremonies.
Ferdinand II., King of Spain, succeeded to the crown of Germany in 1619. He was by nature of a morose and revengeful disposition, and the bigotry and prejudice which had been instilled into his mind by Catholic preceptors made him an accomplished instrument in the hands of the church, in executing its exterminating vengeance on the heretics. During the course of his tutelage he made a pilgrimage to Rome, where an oath was administered to him by the pope, that if he should ever become emperor he would exterminate heresy in his dominions. When he ascended the throne Germany was divided into two factions. The one was known as the "Catholic League," and the other as the "Evangelical Union." The Catholic League was headed by Maximilian, elector of Bavaria, and comprised the bishops and princes attached to the house of Austria.
The Evangelical Union was headed by the Duke of Wittenberg, the elector of Saxony and Brandenburg, and composed of Lutheran and Calvinistic princes and knights. A number of the princes of Bavaria assembled at Prague, and declaring that they would not submit to Maximilian, chose for their king Frederic, elector of the Palatina, a member of the Evangelical Union. This revolt benefited the Evangelical Union by a powerful accession. A desperate and bloody struggle was imminent between these two parties. Notwithstanding the Protestant influence in Bavaria, Ferdinand succeeded in having himself elected king. After this event he tore up in a violent rage the charter which Rudolph II. had granted the Bohemians, because it allowed them to build churches and school-houses. He then showed his remembrance of his popish oath by persecuting the Protestants, banishing their preachers, and depopulating the kingdom by an intolerance which caused emigrations of whole sections from his dominions. The victory of his troops near Prague enabling him to dictate a treaty which crushed the Protestant cause, and dissolved the Evangelical Union, he proceeded to restore the ecclesiastical institutions which had been abolished by the Protestants, to exclude Calvinists from the benefits of the religious peace of Augsburg, and to require Protestants living under Catholic princes to believe in Catholicism. Besides these decrees, enforced by the military power, the conquest of the Palatinate of Frederic, the bestowal of that dignity on Maximilian, the emperor's favorite, giving the Catholics the ascendency in the electoral college, the army of Tilly in Lower Saxony, where no existing enemy made it excusable, depriving the Protestants of their churches, committing wanton violence on the Lutherans, and compelling thousands to abandon their homes, property and country, were such gross violations of treaties, and such strong incentives to resistance, that the Protestant princes were impelled to unite in a league with the King of Denmark and the Duke of Holstein, determining to exhaust every resource in the defence of religious liberty. After some successes the confederated forces were defeated, and the Protestants lost all that they had acquired since the peace of Augsburg. At this dark hour in the fortunes of the league, Gustavus Adolphus, with an army of thirty thousand veterans, espoused its cause. His heroism, strategetic skill, and indomitable valor soon annihilated Tilly's army, reduced the imperial allies to extreme distress, conquered Lower Saxony and Bavaria, and delivered the Protestants from their perilous situation. Tilly having died, Wallenstein assumed command. Having raised an immense and formidable army, the new general was enabled to attack Adolphus with such overwhelming force that he compelled him to retire from Bavaria. In 1642, at Lutzen, the two powerful armies came to a general and decisive engagement; the genius of Adolphus crowned his arms with victory, but his intrepidity cost him his life. Through a wise policy the Swedes still continued a triumphant career, victoriously marching through the empire with incredible rapidity, and finally, after the battle of Prague, dictating the peace of Westphalia.
By the terms of the peace of Westphalia Calvinists acquired the same rights with Lutherans; princes were bound not to persecute subjects on account of religious differences; all acquisitions of Protestants since the peace of Augsburg were confirmed; entire equality of sect, liberty of conscience, and the exercise of all modes of religion were guaranteed, and the independence of Switzerland and of the Netherlands acknowledged.
Pope Innocent X. strenuously protested against this peace, complaining in bitter terms of the deep injury it inflicted on the church. Though the consequences of the treaty have been of the most benignant nature to Europe, still the Papal See has, through all periods maintained, with unabated animosity, its original opposition to the invaluable treaty.
The papal intrigues, so prolific of disastrous wars, were no less pernicious to Austria than they had been to other powers. Upon the death of Duke Frederic, its ruler, Frederic II., of Germany, declared the duchy a vacant fief of his empire, and appointed over it a governor. Pope Innocent V. persuaded Margaret, the sister of the deceased duke, and Gertrude, his neice, to claim the duchy as their inheritance. The Margrave Hermann, by the aid of the pope and his machinery, was enabled to command a strong party in support of the project. After a war of thirty-six years the dispute was settled by the interference of the emperor Rodolph, who gave it to his two sons, Albert and Ro-dolph.
On the death of Maria Theresa, Joseph, her son, succeeded to the throne of Austria. Maria Theresa was a very devout and superstitious princess, a circumstance which enabled the sacerdotal fraternity to gain and betray her confidence. But in making her an object of their craft they made her son their enemy. Their duplicity having excited in the mind of Joseph a strong aversion to the intermeddling and intriguing profession, he no sooner ascended the throne than he manifested a disposition to adopt a policy more in accordance with the enlightenment of the age than was agreeable to the pope and the clergy. The world with pleasure, but the church with consternation, beheld him enlarging the liberty of the press, tolerating the Protestants, treating the Jews with moderation, annulling ecclesiastical sinecures, and abolishing such monasteries and nunneries as were not useful as schools or hospitals. Uneasy at these useful reforms, yet not daring to mutter his Vatican thunder, and finding his machinery unable to stop their progress, Pope Pius IV. sought a personal interview with the liberal minded emperor, to dissuade him from the further prosecution of his beneficent intentions. But notwithstanding the earnest remonstrances of the vicar of Christ, the emperor still continued to reduce the number of the monasteries, and to effect reforms in the churches, and in the various departments of the government. This wise and sagacious policy, which relieved the people of the oppression of spiritual despotism, and renewed the vigor of national energy, was not appreciated by the masses through the ignorance and superstition of the age. The emperor not only had to contend with opposition from those for whose moral advancement he was laboring, but also with the disguised hostility of the pope, and the subtle operation of his treacherous machinery. But still, amid wars, seditions and rebellions, he pursued his magnanimous policy; and if he did not effect all the reforms in the church, and in his government, that he had contemplated, it was more through the intrigues of the pope than through any want of disposition, skill and energy on his part.
The various orders of knights, whose avocation it was to enforce conformity to the demands of Catholicism by the vengeance of the sword, was an important part of the papal machinery. All who yielded not to this argument were threatened with extermination; all who did, became the slaves of spiritual despotism. Under pretext of protecting Poland from the ravages of Prussian heathen, the Teutonic Knights, in 1226, won from Conrad of Masovia a small strip of land on the Vistula. For fifty-three years they carried on a war against the Persian tribes, and finally obliged them to embrace Catholicism. This war, suggested by papal craft, continued by incredible barbarity, culminated in the grossest perfidy. In their protection of Poland they inflicted deeper injuries on her than the savages of Prussia had ever contemplated, or in fact had the ability to inflict. They subjugated the Baltic seaboard, from the Oder to the Gulf of Finland, and wrung from her her maritime commerce, and her northern line of defence. Poland and Prussia having both been plundered and oppressed by the knights, united in a bond of union against their common enemy, and a ferocious war was inaugurated, during which the knights lost a great portion of their territory, and finally their power was broken. In the various vicissitudes of the succeeding fifty years the knights became abolished in Prussia, and their possessions converted into a hereditary duchy, under the male line of Prince Albert, which, under Francis III. became the kingdom of Prussia.
The papal intrigues with regard to the Netherlands, were fruitful of sanguinary and deplorable consequences. Under the reign of Charles V. one hundred thousand Protestants fell a sacrifice to the papal intolerance. Philip, his son and successor, narrow in his views, irritable in his temper, and implacable in his hate, transcended even Charles in the inhumanity of his measures towards his Protestant subjects. Cardinal Granvella having introduced into the Netherlands the inquisition, for the extirpation of religious freedom, the Prince of Orange, in conjunction with other distinguished personages, remonstrated against the measure. This remonstrance was regarded by the government as an act of treason. The haughtiness of the cardinal, and the severe measures he introduced to intimidate the people, produced great disorder and alarm. The nobles conspired to defend their rights; the Protestants boldly celebrated their religious ceremonies, and the people fled in crowds to England and Saxony. In spite of intolerant edicts and excruciating torture, a bold spirit of resistance was excited in the provinces. Philip recalled Cardinal Granvella, but appointed in his place Alva, a more cruel and implacable tyrant. Proud, fierce and imperious, this man knew of nothing but to command in a despotic tone, and expect his subjects to tremble and obey. Sixty years of warfare always successful, had familiarized him to deeds of blood, without humbling him by the salutary lessons of misfortune. Death, the usual penalty of disobedience to his commands, gave his mandate a terrific importance. As soon as he had assumed the direction of the Netherland provinces, he established a council of blood by means of, which he condemned all whom he suspected of heresy, or whose fortunes excited a prospect of increasing his own, The noblest of the nation fell under the axe of his executioner; and as avarice had always been a prominent trait of his character, he now illustrated the obduracy with which it is capable of debasing humanity, by confiscating the property, not only of the present but of the absent; not only of the living but of the dead. Having cited the Prince of Orange to appear before his council, and that prince having refused on the ground of his exemption by privilege, law and usage, he declared him dispossessed of all property, and seizing on his son, sent him to Spain as a hostage. The prince, heretofore a liberal-minded Catholic, now declared himself a Protestant, and drew his sword in favor of religious freedom. By a perseverance which no difficulties could prostrate, a sagacity which no subterfuge could deceive, a heroism which no danger could appall, and a magnanimity which commanded the admiration of the world, he struggled through discouragement, vexation and defeat until he had laid a solid foundation for the freedom of the provinces, by reconstructing them in a judicious confederacy, under the name of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and inducing them to renounce allegiance to Spain. Philip hence declared the prince an outlaw, and offered a reward of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for either his apprehension or his assassination. In 1584 the noble prince was shot dead by Balthazar Gerard, who confessed that he had been instigated to the deed by a Franciscan monk and a Jesuist priest. But though the founder of the republic fell a victim to Romish treachery, its defence was continued with insuperable skill and valor. Army after army sent against the republic was annihilated by the indomitable bravery of its troops, until its soil became the cemetery of the military strength of Spain. Its tolerance gave it population; its freedom, energy; its maritime contests, a knowledge of navigation; and its enterprise, commerce trade and prosperity. After a war of thirty years, replete with heroism and magnanimity, it wrung from Spain, in the Westphalia treaty, a full recognition of independence.
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