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nuuh' the following comment on reading from the jnilpit
the inspectoral mandate : ' It must grieve the heart of
CUxl Himself that we should have to read such things,
while we are forced to be silent about God's Word. It
will not be long, however, before the pure evangel is pro-
claimed everywhere.' The same man called the Holy
Sacrament monkey-play and repudiated good works,
for, ' C'hrist has done everything, we have no need to do
anything.' In Bruck the new doctrine had abeady
taken deep root ; it was often preached there, ' God has
taken away heaven, hell, and sin. The devil is no longer
anything.' In Leoben there w^as a vicar who was quite
Lutheran and who had ' taken his mistress to wife.'
The miners of Schladming would have only a general
confession of sin. In Knittelfeld some of the burghers
were accused of having t\vo, or even three, wives. In
Marchburg there were ' few priests who celebrate, and
few people go to church.' It was almost only in the
mountain districts that a better state of things was
found. In the capital of the land, Gratz, on the other
band, numbers of the burghers called for Lutheranism ;
a schoolmaster there incited the children to bm'n the
pictures of saints. ^

No less serious was the rehgious and moral anarchy
in the Tyrol. Here too the rehgious innovation — not
without the fault of the clergy — had found entrance
into wide circles. In the ranks of the secular clergy,
up to the highest grades of the hierarchy there had been,
through the whole of the sixteenth century, few men
blameless in conduct, spiritually minded and zealous

' Robitsch, 35-59.


for the care of souls. Moral transgressions, above all
the deeply rooted evil of concubinage, a low degree of
culture and straightened material means debased the
clerical estate. On the occasion of a church visitation
in 1577 each of the five canons of the Brixen chapter
was found to ])e without Holy Orders. From Trent the
town-captain Kuen reported in 1565 that half of the
eighteen canons never celebrated a mass (some of them
for the reason that they were mider the charge of having
committed murder), and that the cathedral provost
only came once in the whole year to the cathedral and
that ' once ' was when it was a question of receiving the
* annual dues." Under these circumstances it is easy
to understand why, in 1567, on the occasion of festivities
at Innsbruck in honour of the territorial sovereign,
it was necessary to provide a special place for the
clergy out of reach of the fury of the populace.^

How widespread concubinage was among the clergy
is seen from the visitation protocols ; one such for
Brixen in 1578 counts up in some sixty parishes nearly
100 concubinists. Still worse in this respect were the
conditions in the Trent diocese. In the Tyrol, where the
lack of priests was also felt, there was an added evil,
viz. the want of German pastors ; the Italian substitutes
proved, for the most part, unworthy. The convents
and abbeys, with few exceptions, had also become very
worldly ; many of them were almost entirely deserted.^

Rehgious conditions of this sort not only were bound
to help on the invasion of the new doctrine, but also
to injure the moral life of the people in the highest
measure. Already in 1551 Mameranus, in opposition

' Hirn, i. 78-80, 91-92. See also Uistor.-polit. Bl. vi. 577 ff.
^ Hirn, i. 8G, 88, 92 IL, 98 fT.

72 HIS Tom' of thk ckrman teople

to i\\v iDiuuillors of King Ferdiiiaiul, pointed out liow
particularly evil conditions liad become in the Tyrol.
There was no longer, he said, any reverence for things
sacred ; nobody would go to church, not even on Sun-
day ; out of 300 adults scarcely twenty attended divine
service on Sunday, and even this handful did not stop
to hear the whole sermon or the whole of Holy Mass.^
Even in the towns there were grown-up people who
did not know the Ten Commandments or the Lord's
Prayer. With ignorance like this, coarseness and crime
\vent hand in hand. Judicial documents give lists of
gross violation of property, of murder and other crimes
' in appalling quantity." The provincial ordinance of
1573 testifies to the ascendancy of blasphemy, cursing
and swearing, to excess in eating and drinking, to
extravagance in dress, to gambhng, bloodshed, and
heavy sins against morahty, to usury and fraudulence.-
In the Austrian frontier lands, also, moral and
rehgious disorder had spread incontinently. The con-
vents especially w^ere completely ruined. The same
was the case in Alsatia.^ ' We cannot deny,' said a
writer thoroughly acquainted with the conditions in
West and South Germany, ' that there are in the con-
vents numbers of idlemongers, numbers of arrogant,

' Druffel, Briefe und Akten, i. 861-864. - Hirn, i. 74 ff., 457.

^ Him, i. 122 flf., and 125 S., on the convent destroyer Heinrich von
Istetten. See also Levy, Gesch. des Klosters Herbitzheim (Strasburg, 1892),
p. 47 £F. The Strasburg bishop Erasmus wrote on September 14, 1551,
to the Emperor : ' Respecting the Reformation, the present schisma and
spUt have brought the clergy and the priesthood into such dissolute, free
and bold hving, that it has not been possible to preserve or organise
much here. To take proceedings against the concubines of the pastors
would only lay waste the pastorates. Already there is a dearth of pastors ;
the old ones die, and few nowadays decide to take Holy Orders.' Druffel,
Briefe und Akten, iii. 126.


defiant despisers of holy obedience ; but their number
has been increased by the unhallowed new teaching/ ^

Concerning the moral anarchy among the high and
low clergy, and also in the lay world, in South-west
Germany, the Zinnner chronicle gives terrible accounts.
What is told here, for instance, concerning the abbot
of Weingarten or the nunneries at Kirchberg and at
Oberndorf (the harlot-house of the nobihty), gives a
ghmpse into a fearful abyss of wantonness and vice. By
far the greater number of revolting incidents (related
here with the greatest frankness) in which clerics took
part, belong to the period after the Church spHt. The
standpoint of the chronicler is expressed in the following
words : ' But it is not rehgion or our Christian and
unfaihng Church, or the monastic Order, or old tradition
and the authority of our forefathers and so many holy
godly people, that are responsible for this state of
things.' '^

Like the Zimmer chronicle, so, too, the memoirs of
the Cologne burgher Hermann von Weinsberg afEord a
deep insight into the religious and moral conditions of
a CathoUc district. The picture which confronts the
reader is in this case also thoroughly unedifying. Pro-
gressive decline in the whole realm of private and
pubhc hfe is unmistakable. Family hfe, to the great
injury of child-education, was disturbed by constant
discontent and breach of conjugal fidehty ; and in
chiirch hfe many pleasing manifestations were opposed
by numbers of very distressing ones.''

' Paulus, Uoffmeister, 24. -' Zimmerische Chronik, ii. 552.

•'' See Unkel in the Histor. Jahrbuch, xi. 545 ff. The dark side is pre-
eminently shown by Ennen, iv. 46 ff. Concerning the religious and moral
disorder in other ecclesiastical districts see the present work, vol. vii. 180,
vol. viii. 215, 327. Better conditions prevailed in the Duchy of Jiilich ;


A similar iiu})rrssit)ii is produced by turning over
the pages of the historical work of the Hildesheim
chronicler John Oldecop. The author, moreover, does
not fall into the error, common to almost all the writers
of the time, viz. the incapacity to see the good which
exists, on account of the evil which strikes the eye far
more forcibly. Oldecop is able to tell of not a few
excellent, pious and zealous clergymen.^ Deep signs
of \Wqs of inward rehgion, of sincere enthusiasm for the
Catholic faith, showing themselves actively in loving
deeds, are not wanting in this chronicle. Specially
dehghtful it is to meet in the town of St. Bernward
with two distinguished bishops, Valentin von Teutleben
(1537-1551), who died of grief and anguish for his
beloved bishopric Hildesheim, and whose ' chaste Hfe,
faithful industry and labours in the diocese no one can
adequately describe,' and Burchard von Oberg (1557-
1579), who with rare courage opposed a front to the
bhnd fury of Lutheran burghers, and spent whole nights
in the cathedral praying for the salvation of his bishopric.
The situation was indeed an imspeakably sad one ; had
not Frederick of Holstein, a man utterly destitute of
morals, been posing as Bishop of Hildesheim from
1551-1556, without consecration and without papal
confirmation of the title ? John Oldecop was not mis-
taken as to the seriousness of the times. Sure witness
of it is the still preserved inscription in his house at
Hildesheim :

see the ' Mitteilungen aus den Visitationsprotokollen ' of 1559 in Koch ;
Die Reformation im Herzogtum Jiilich, Heft ii. (Frankfort-on-the-Maine,
1888), pp. 83 fE., 107 ff. (p. 109 read in Merssen : ' Der Pastor erhielt ein
gutes Zeugnis — ' instead of ' schlechtes ').

' Chronik of Oldecop, 100, 222 ff., 243 ff., 308, 419 ff., 445 ; for the
corruption of the higher clergy see especially p. 262.


' In the year of the Lord 1549, Virtue, the Church,
the clergy, the devil, simony, Ceases, is shattered, err,
reigns, prevails. The Word of God endures for ever.' ^

Of all the German territories Bavaria had kept itself
the most separate from the new doctrines and had also
most seriously endeavoured to remove the heavy abuses.
In spite, however, of the great energy which the Bavarian
rulers had developed in this respect, the end aimed at
was still far from accomphshed. Many bishops, to
whose dioceses Bavaria belonged, persisted in idle
indifference ; others complained that ' their hands were
tied ' by the numerous exemptions. The canons,
mostly chosen from the demorahsed nobihty, caused
the greatest offence by their openly scandalous hves
of sin. As regards the lower secular clergy and the
monastic clergy, matters were no better. According to
Eck's testimony concubinage was already ' universally
common ' as early as 1540.^ The inspections of 1558
and 1559 showed that, speaking generally, the most
unhappy conditions prevailed, but that individually
much good still existed ; ^ thus among the convents
there were some that were permeated by an excellent
spirit, for instance the old Benedictine foundation of
Metten. The majority of them, however, were dis-
organised and corrupt ; many were only kept together
by fear of the Duke. Under such circmnstances the
stringent pohce regulations of the government were of
no avail to stem the invasion of Protestant influences.

' Anno Dom. 1549. Virtus, ecclesia. clerus. demon, simonia. Cessat.
turbatur. errat. regnat. dominatui'. Vcrbum Domini manet in etcrnura,

2 See present work, vol. vii. 168 ff.

■' Knopfior, Kelchbewegung, 55 ff., where Sugcnheim's partiality is well


Tlio rosult was the format ion of a mixed religion of the
strangest kind. This rehgion * thought nothing of the
Pope, and very httle of the bishops, rejected oral con-
fession, confirmation and the last unction, encouraged
the administering of the Communion in both kinds and
the rejection, or the Germanising, of the Mass, laughed
at indulgences and consequently did not beheve in
pm'gatory, declared the fasts and abstinence from meat
prescribed by the Church to be unnecessary, inveighed
against pilgrimages and stations of the cross, as well
as against the invocation of saints and the veneration
of rehcs, despised conventual hfe and the rule of
cehbacy.' ^

Open transition to Protestantism was, meanwhile,
for the preachers of this persuasion, only a question of
time. The latent Protestantism in that portion of the
clergy who, outwardly, still remained Catholic, ^vrote a
German archbishop in 1560, did incomparably more
harm to the Church and to the nation than open
apostasy.- The reaction of these rehgious conditions on
the moral hfe brought about the same manifestations as
in places where the new doctrine was openly acknow-
ledged. The people became completely demorahsed.
In many places only a few women and old dames
attended church. The taverns, on the other hand,
were always full. It happened one year that the
peasants, on Easter day, drank up a barrel of beer in the
church and set fire to the pastor's house. Blasphemy,
swearing, cursing, drunkenness, and debauchery were
almost everywhere the order of the day. If Musculus

' Stieve, 'Die Reformationsbewegung im Herzogtum Bayem,' in the
AUg. Ztg. 1892, Beil. No. 38.

- See present work, vol. vii. 184.


asserts that cursing and blaspheming were specially in
vogue in the Protestant districts and towns, the man-
dates of the Bavarian dukes show that these ' terrible
evils ' went on steadily increasing among their subjects
also. ' Blaspheming and swearing/ says the Bavarian
provincial ordinance of 1553, ' increase from day to day.
The peasantry and the common people give themselves
up day and night to gambling, not only on holiday
nights and feast days, but also on working days.' A
mandate of Duke Albert V. of 1566 shows the growth
of the ' two vices of blasphemy and drunkenness '
not only ' among adults and old men, but also — a thing
unheard of before — among women ; young children
even are tainted with the evil.' ^

* All his repeatedly issued police and land ordinances,'
says an edict of the above-mentioned Duke in 1570,
* were not regarded : almost everybody — above all the
common people, young and old — falls openly and shame-
lessly into these vices : the evil grows worse and worse.' ~

When we look back at the condition of things in
Austria, Bavaria, and the ecclesiastical dominions, the
question is forced upon us whether indeed, after the
middle of the sixteenth century, there was really a
CathoHc Germany opposed to the Protestant one. The
complete victory of the new doctrine, in this part of the
empire also, was at any rate infinitely more probable
than the contrary. There was no point in which, at
that time in Germany, the Church was not threatened :
even the protection which she met with from some of
the Cathohc princes was a danger not only to her

' Sugenheim, Bayerns Kirchen- und Volkszustdnde, 530 ; cf. 53 ff.
2 Westenriedcr, viii. 352 ff. Concerning the depravity of the female
sex, see Sugenheim, 530 note.


fivedom l)ut also to her teaching and discipUne. Had
not the emperor and tlie Bavarian dukes for a long time
regarded the concession of the communion chahce and
the marriage of priests— which had always proved a
rapid mode of transition to Protestantism — as the
salvation of the Church ?

Never had the Church in Germany been in greater
danger : but from her extremest peril God the Lord
saved her.

Many factors worked together to this end : the Council
of Trent, the new Orders — above all the Jesuits and
Capuchins, the exertions of distinguished popes and
their nuncios, and finally the efforts of a few Catholic
princes and blameless bishops such as an Otto von
Truchsess, a Balthasar von Dernbach, an Echter
von Mespelbrimn.

All that was lasting in the efforts after reform had
its origin in the labours of the three first Jesuits who
worked on German soil : Peter Faber, Claudius Jajus,
and Nicholas Bobadilla. The letters and diaries of
these men breathe a spirit of holy earnestness, of
love and tenderness even towards the heretics. Their
success they referred essentially to the Book of Exercises
of St. Ignatius. This book gained for the Order a
man who was among the most prominent and influential
Cathohc reformers of the sixteenth century : Peter
Canisius, the first provincial of the Order for South
Germany and Austria. What this man and his brothers
of the Order did in pulpits, in schools, and by the side
of sick-beds, excited the wonder even of Protestant
contemporaries. Jesuitical and strictly Catholic became
synonymous terms in the German language.

It was the Council of Trent, through the decrees of


which a reHgious and moral renovation was also effected
in Germany, which gave the efforts of the Jesuits a
firm basis and assured them lasting success. Bavaria
was the district first and most powerfully influenced
by the Catholic reform movement, and it became the
chief centre of the newly awakened church hfe and
acquired, in consequence, the importance almost of an
European great power. The Ehenish archbishoprics,
such as Fulda, next caught the inspiration, and finally
Austria too roused herself and began in earnest a crusade
against the prevalent corruption. ^ Of immense im-
portance for the regeneration of Catholic Germany
was the Collegium Germanicum at Rome, which was
' the nursery of numbers of secular clergymen distin-
guished by virtue and learning, as well as the many
copies of this institution which sprang up on German
soil and of which Dilhngen became the most renowned.' ^
All the efforts of individuals to stem the intellectual
and moral misery had hitherto remained fruitless.
Not till the mighty stream of a fresh, inward rehgious
life was turned on Germany by means of the men of
the Cathohc restoration, above all the Jesuits, did any

1 See present work, vol. viii. 215 ff., 231 flf., 251 ff., 307 ff., 327 ff., 375 ff.,
and vol. ix. 381. Concerning the great change effected by Canisius in Augs-
burg, see Braunsberger, Epist. Canisii, p. 34 sq.

- Schmid, in the Histor. Jahrb. xvii. 96, rightly draws attention to this
fact. For the melancholy conditions on the Catholic side Schmid refers
to Scheffold's Geschichte des Landkapitels Amrichshausen (Heilbronn, 1882),
and to Cardinal Steinhuber's Geschichle des Kollegium Germanicum Hun-
garicum in Rom (2 vols. Freiburg, 1895), which contains such a wealth
of matter. See especially i. 1 ff., 74 ff., 189 ff. The co-operation of the
Germanikers in the Catholic restoration in Germany (1573-1600) is here
exhaustively described. The conditions which confronted these men
were lamentable, their labours were everywhere meritorious. Steinhuber
justly denounces the unworthy, in part protestantised, canons of noble
birth, as one of the greatest dangers for the Church in Germany.


iinproveinont becomo noticeable. True, the activity of
the best and most energetic representatives of the
movenient met at first with the greatest hindrances,
not soldoni with obstinate resistance, from the rehgious
indill'eronce, the anarchy and demorahsation prevalent
also among the Cathohcs. It is incredible with what
difficulties the first Fathers of the Society of Jesus, a
Faber, a Canisius, had to battle. It cost untold labour
to repopulate the empty ' God's houses,' to set going
again attendance at church and partaking of the Holy
Sacraments. In Ingolstadt and Munich it was the
same as in Prague and Vienna. Gradually, however,
the revival of religious practices, the training up of a
new generation in Christian disciphne and piety, the
education of a morally pure clergy opposed a dam to
the invading demorahsation around.

From town to town, from place to place, meanwhile,
the difficulties increased ; warnings and disturbances
too often overthrew what with infinite labour had
scarcely been built up. It needed Herculean energy
to carry on, and in no slight measure carry through, on
constantly threatened hues, amid persecutions, obstacles
and difficulties of all sorts, the seemingly hopeless work
of moral renovation.

Notwithstanding all these efforts the improvement
of the moral and rehgious conditions of the Cathohc
people was, in the main, by no means thoroughgoing
and general. The evils were too great, they had
penetrated too deeply, and they came up again now here,
now there. Inspections and consultations of provincial
synods constantly brought heavy abuses to hght. The
bishops encountered manifold difficulties in enforcing
the prescriptions of the Council of Trent, not only from


the rich and powerful abbeys and convents appeahng
to their immune position, but also from individual
clergymen. Proofs of this are given, for instance, in the
inspectoral protocols of the diocese of Constance of the
years 1571 to 1586, which contain very distressing moral
pictures and show the enormous spread of concubinage
among the clergy. ^ The reports of the Cologne Nuncio
contain much that is pleasant, but much also that is
the opposite. ' In Cologne,' it says here, ' there is a
great deal of piety and upright hving. The Cologne
pastors are learned men and they compete with the
Jesuits in zeal for souls and in self-sacrifice during plague
times. Many very efficient canonists are to be found in
the towns and a sufficient number of clergy capable
of ruhng any diocese. The Cologne cathedral clergy
are not self-sacrificing for the general welfare. The
Rhenish population is particularly ignorant in religion ;
it is very self-seeking, as are the clergy also. Great
corruption of character prevails in the Rhine district,
the people are always undecided, and much addicted
to the pleasures of the table ; in spite of the bad times
banqueting among both clergy and laity is never-ending.' ^
Particularly distressing were the conditions in the
ancient diocese of Bamberg. In the sixteenth century
one-half of it had lapsed into Protestantism. At the

'■ See Gmelin in the Zeitschr. fur Oesch. des Oberrheins, xxv. 129 ff. Cf.
Bldiler fur wurttemherg. Kirchengesch., vi. 1 flf., 17 ff., 28 ff., 36 ff., 43 ff., and
Zeitschr. fiir Kirchengeschichte, xvi. 606 ff. See this passage also for the
carHer conditions. See also the ' Beitrag zui' Gesch. dcs Zolibats nach
Akton dcs Fiirstl. Lowenstcinischen Ai-chivs in Werthcim,' in the Zeitschr.
fiir Kirchengesch., xxi. 240 ff. For the general conditions under which a
dearth of priests again showed itself, see also W. E. Schwarz, Zehn
Outachten iiber die Lage der katholischen Kirche in Deutschland, 1573-1576.
Paderborn, 1891.

- Unkel in the Hislor. Jahrb. xi. 546 ff,



bo'TiiminLT of the seveiitcontli centiirv the opmions and
tendencies of the new rehgiunists had also penetrated
into the remaining portion. There was no longer
anything but sham Cathohcism in the diocese ; all
was ready for complete apostasy. This is shown with
appalling distinctness by the inspectoral reports. ^
In IGil the Vicar-General Dr. Frederick Horner made
a tour of inspection through the whole of the then
diocese. This was followed the next year by inspections
of special districts by the deans. After the issue of the
inspectoral reports the Bamberg clergy of that period
were seen to stand on a very low level both as regards
morahty and learning. In contradistinction to this
the clergy of the forty- three AViirzburg parishes, in 1807
incorporated in the archbishopric of Bamberg, were
shown to be exemplary.-

The Nuncio Minutio Minucci, in Lis memorandum
on the condition of the Cathohc Church in Germany
from 1588, insists that, first and foremost, care must be
taken to provide good bishops and canons. Many of
the bishops were still too weak, many of the canons
still led sinful Uves, and were withal avowed heretics.

' M. Lingg, Kullurgesch. der Didzese und Erzdiozese Bamberg sett
Beginn des 17'f" J ahrhunderts auf Grund der Pfarr-Visitationsherichte,
vol. i. 'Das siebzehnte Jahrhundert,' Kempten, 1900. See Heimbucher
in the Histor.-polit. Bl (1901), 127, 841 ft.

- If Lingg, I.e. p. 37, says that the bishops of the closing sixteenth and
the seventeenth centuries do not appear in a good light in the inspectoral
reports, we may set against this the fact that, as Heimbucher {I.e. p. 845)
aptly remarks, it was John Gottfried of Aschliausen (1609-1622) who
instituted the inspection of 1611, and also made over to the Jesuits the
work of counter-reform, and who, according to Weber's Biography (Wiirz-
burg, 1889, p. 145), was a saintly bishop, and the bishops who followed
him lived some of them as fugitives in exHe, while others had to repair the
ruins of the Thirty Years' War. Here and elsewhere, so it seems to us,
there ia too mucli generaUsation in the book.


Specially harmful were the continual dissensions between
bishop and chapter, and the unlawful contracts by

Online LibraryJohannes JanssenHistory of the German people at the close of the middle ages (Volume 16) → online text (page 7 of 45)