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ECCLESIASTICAL AND POLITICAL
THE POPES OF ROME
DURING THE SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES.
By LEOPOLD RANKE,
PROFESSOR IN THE UNIVERSITY OF BERLIN.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
By SARAH AUSTIN.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
tUlNTED BY RICHARD AND JOHN E. TAYLOR,
RED LION COURT, FLEET STREET.
First period, 1563—1589 3
^ 1. State of jDrotestantism in the year 1563 5
2. Resources possessed by the papacy for active contest 20
3. The first Jesuits' colleges in Germany 25
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4. Beginning of the counter-reformation in Germany. 37
5. Disturbances in the Netherlands and in France , . 56
6. Resistance of the protestants in the Netherlands,
France, and Germany 71
7. Contrasts exhibited in the rest of Europe 81
8. Crisis in the Netherlands 95
9. Progress of the counter-reformation in Germany . . 115
10. The League 149
1 1. Savoy and Switzerland 161
12. Attempt upon England 165
13. Assassination of Henry III 175
} 1. Theory of the connexion between church and state 185
2. Conflict of opinions , 197
3. Latter times of Sixtus V 205
4. Urban VII., Gregory XIV., Innocent IX., and their
Conclaves. 1590, 1591 225
5. Election and character of Clement VIII 234
6. Absolution of Henry IV 244
7. Ferrara under Alfonso II 265
8. Conquest of Ferrara 278
9. Dissensions among the Jesuits 289
10. Political situation of Clement VIII 316
11. Election and first proceedings of Paul V 330
12. Disputes between Rome and Venice 335
13. Issue of the affairs of the Jesuits 364
BOOK VII. 1590—1630.
Progress of the restoration of Catholicism.
§ 1. Measures undertaken for the spread of Catholicism
in Poland and the neighbouring countries 375
2. Attempt upon Sweden 383
3. Designs on Russia 400
4. Troubles in Poland 402
5. Progress of the counter-reformation in Germany . . 410
6. Nuntiatura in Switzerland 433
7- Regeneration of Catholicism in France 439
General war — Triumphs of Catholicism. 1617 — 1623.
§ 1. Breaking out of the war 452
2. Gregory XV 468
3. Bohemia and the hereditary dominions of Austria. 473
4. The empire. — Transfer of the electorate 481
5. France 488
6. United Netherlands 493
7. State of Catholicism in England 495
8. Missions ,. . 503
Conflicting political relations — New triumphs
of catholicism. 1623 — 1628 517
Mantuan war. — Thirty-years' war.
Revolution in the state of things 543
§ 1. Mantuan succession 545
2. Urban VIII 552
3. The power of Ferdinand II. in the year 1629 .... 564
4. Negotiations with Sweden. — Electoral diet of Ra-
5. Swedish war. — Situation and policy of the pope . . 578
6. Restoration of the balance of the two confessions . . 585
FIRST PERIOD, 1563 1589.
One of the most difficult problems presented
to the historian of a nation or other political com-
munity is, to apprehend correctly the connection of
its particular with its general relations.
It is true that the peculiarities in the life of a
nation, like those in the life of an individual, are
determined by causes inherent in its original cha-
racter, and therefore retain through every age a cer-
tain uniformity. It is, however, equally true that
every nation is continually influenced by general
causes, which powerfully affect its progress.
It may be affirmed that the character of modern
Europe rests on these two conflicting principles.
States and peoples are severed by eternal barriers,
yet are at the same time united in an indissoluble
community. There is no national history of which
universal history does not constitute a large part.
So inevitable, so all-embracing is the sequence of
4 INTRODUCTION. [bOOK V.
events, that the most powerful state often appears
merely as a member of the political community, en-
tangled with, and governed by, its destinies. Who-
ever has tried to conceive the history of a people as
a whole, to survey its course without prejudice or
illusion, will have experienced the difficulty arising
from this cause. In the several crises of the pro-
gressive existence of a nation we trace the various
currents of the destiny of the human race.
This difficulty is however doubled when, as some-
times happens, an individual power gives the first
impulse to a movement which agitates the whole
world ; when it appears as the special representa-
tive of a principle. It then takes so large a share
in the collective action of the century, it stands in
so intimate a relation to all the powers of the world,
that its history, in a certain sense, expands into a
Such was the epoch upon which the papacy en-
tered after the council of Trent.
Shaken to its very core, endangered in the very
ground-work of its being, it had found means to
maintain and to renew itself. In the two southern
peninsulas it had promptly repelled all hostile in-
fluences, and had once more attracted and pervaded
all the elements of thought and action. It now
conceived the idea of reclaiming apostates in all
other parts of the world, and subjecting them once
more to its sway. Rome was once more a conquer-
ing power ; once more she meditated projects and
enterprises such as, in ancient times, or in the
middle ages, had emanated from the Seven Hills.
§ I.] THE YEAR 1563. 5
We should have but an imperfect conception of the
restored papacy were we to contemplate it only at
its centre. It is in 4ts operation on the world at
large that we apprehend its real significancy.
We shall begin by taking a review of the power
and the situation of its opponents.
§ 1. STATE OF PROTESTANTISM IN THE YEAR 1563.
Up to the time of the last sittings of the council
of Trent, protestant opinions had continued to make
their way with irresistible force, north of the Alps
and the Pyrenees ; their dominion extended far and
wide Dver the Germanic, Sclavonic, and Romance
Protestantism was the more firmly established in
the Scandinavian countries, inasmuch as its intro-
duction coincided with the foundation of new dy-
nasties, and the entire remodelling of their political
institutions. From the very first it was hailed with
delight, as if it bore a natural affinity to the national
feelings-; Bugenhagen, the founder of lutheranism
in Denmark, dwells with enthusiasm on the eager-
ness with which his preaching was listened to there,
" even on working-days," as he expresses it, "even
before daybreak, and on holydays, all day long*."
* Narrative of D. Pomerani, 1539 : Sabb. p. visit., in Miiller's
Entdecktem Staatscabinet, 4te Eröffn, p. 365.
6 STATE OF PROTESTANTISM. [bOOK V.
Protestantism had now spread to the remotest re-
gions. In 1552 the last representatives of Catho-
licism in Iceland finally succumbed. In 1554 a
lutheran bishopric was established in Wyborg ;
evangelical preachers accompanied the Swedish go-
vernors to the remote region of Lapland, Gustavus
Vasa, in his will, made in 15G0, earnestly exhorted
his successors and their descendants to adhere firm-
ly to the evangelical doctrines, and not to tolerate
any false teachers; he made this almost a condition
of their right to the throne*.
On the eastern shores of the Baltic also, luther-
anism had gained a complete ascendency, at least
among such of the inhabitants as spoke the Ger-
man tongue. Prussia had set the first example of
a great secularisation ; in 1561 Livonia followed it;
and the first condition of submission to Poland made
by that province was, that it should be allowed
to adhere to the Augsburg confession. Thus, by
their relation to countries whose submission was
contingent on the maintenance of protestantism,
the Jagellonian kings were prevented from opposing
the progress of the reformation. The right of the
chief towns in Prussian Poland to the exercise of
religion according to the lutheran forms, was con-
firmed in the years 1 557 and 1 558 by express char-
ters ; and still more distinct were the privileges
shortly after granted to the small towns, which were
more exposed to the attacks of the powerful bi-
* Testamentum religiosum Gustavi I., in Baaz: Inventarium
Ecclesise Sueogoth., p. 282.
§ I.] IN THE YEAR 1563. 7
shops ^. In Poland proper, too, many of the nobles
had embraced protestant opinions, which were more
agreeable to the feelings of independence generated
and kept alive by the nature of their constitution.
"A Polish nobleman is not subject to the king;
should he then be so to the pope? " Protestants even
obtained possession of bishop's sees, and indeed un-
der Sigismund Augustus they formed the majority
in the senate. This prince was undoubtedly a catho-
lic : he heard mass every day and a catholic sermon
every Sunday, and even sang the 'Benedictus' him-
self with the singers of his quire ; he confessed at
the appointed times, and received the Lord's supper
in one kind ; but he appeared extremely indifferent
to the faith of his court or of his country, and was
by no means disposed to embitter the last years of
his life by a struggle with a conviction so rapidly
In the neighbouring territory of Hungary the
government had certainly gained nothing by at-
tempting a resistance to the current of opinion.
Ferdinand I. could never prevail on the Hungarian
diet to pass resolutions unfavourable to protestant-
ism. In the year 1554, a Lutheran was elected
palatine of the empire, and soon after forced con-
* Lengnich: Account of the religious changes in Prussia; pre-
fixed to the Fourth Part of the History of the Prussian States, § 20.
t Relatione di Polonia del Vescovo di Camerino, about the date
of 1555: MS. in the Chigi Library: "A molti di questi (those
who live at court) comporta che vivano come li piace, perche si
vede, che S. Maesta h tanto benigna che non vorria mai far cosa
che dispiacesse ad alcuno, ed io vorrei che nelle cose della religi-
one fosse un poco piu severa."
8 STATE OF PROTESTANTISM [bOOK V.
cessions were made in favour of the Helvetic con-
fession in the valley of Erlaii, Transylvania sepa-
rated itself altogether; the property of the church
was coutiscated in 1556 by a formal decree of the
diet, and the sovereign even seized upon the greater
pai't of the tithes.
We now come toGermany, where the new church,
first raised into being by the original character of
the nation, had, by long and perilous wars, obtained
consideration and legal existence in the empire, and
was now on the point of gaining entire possession
of the several members of the Germanic body. Great
progress towards this result was already made. Pro-
testantism prevailed, not only in northern Germany,
where it had arisen, and in the districts of southern
Germany, where it has retained a permanent ascend-
ency, but extended itself far beyond those limits.
In Franconia the bishops vainly opposed its pro-
gress. In Wiirzbiu'g and Bamberg by far the greater
part of the nobility and the episcopal authorities,
the majority of the magistrates and burghers of
the towns, and the whole mass of the people, had
embraced the new doctrines. In the bishopric of
Bamberg there was a lutheran preacher in almost
every parish*. The administration was carried on
in a Protestant spirit ; since the States, which were
regularly constituted bodies and possessed the power
of imposing taxes, had the principal conduct of it.
In the same spirit judicial appointments were made,
* Jack has made this point his particular object in the 2nd
and 3jrd volumes of his History of Bamberg.
§ I.] IX THE YEAR 15G3. 9
and it was remarked that most of the decisions of
the courts were adverse to the interests of catholic-
ism*. Tlie prince-bishops had not much influence;
even those who still, with "old German and Fran-
conian fideUty," revered the sovereigns of the coun-
try in their persons, could not endure to see them
appear in their clerical ornaments, crowned with
The Protestant movement had proceeded with'
equal activity in Bavaria. A large majority of the
nobles had embraced the protectant faith, and many
of the towns showed a decided inclination to follow
their example. At the meeting of his states in the
year 1 5.56, the duke was obliged to make conces-
sions which elsewhere had led to the complete es-
tablishment of the confession of Augsburg, and
which seemed likely to produce the same results
in Bavaria. The duke himself was not so entirely
opposed to the new opinions, but that he from time
to time attended a protectant sermon f.
In Austria protestantism had made still greater
progress. The nobles studied at Wittemberg ; all
the colleges of Austria proper were filled with pro-
testants, and it was asserted that only about one
thirtieth part of the inhabitants had adhered to Ca-
tholicism ; even the constitution of the Austrian
states gradually underwent changes derived from the
free principles of protestantism.
The archbishops of Salzburg, enclosed between
* Grupp, Dissertatio de statu religionis in Franconia Luther-
anismo infecta. Scriptores Wirceb. i., p. 42.
t Sitzinger in Strobel's Beiträge zur Literatur, i. 313.
10 STATE OF PROTESTANTISM [bOOK V.
Bavaria and Austria, had found it impossible to
maintain the ancient faith in their states. It is true
they did not as yet tolerate protestant preachers,
but the sentiments of the people were not the less
distinctly pronounced. In the capital, mass was no
longer attended, and neither fasts nor festivals ob-
served. Those who were prevented by distance from
hearing the protestant preachers in the Austrian vil-
lages, read Spangenberg's sermons for their edifica-
tion at home. The mountaineers were not content
with this ; in Rauris, Gastein, St. Veit, Tamsweg and
Radstadt, the country people loudly demanded the
cup at the Lord's supper, and as it w^as not granted
to them, they avoided the sacrament entirely. They
no longer sent their children to school ; and on one
occasion a peasant rose up in church and called
aloud to the priest, "thou liest". The peasants
preached to each other*. It is not surprising
that in consequence of the prohibition of all divine
service conformable with the newly adopted faith,
wild and fantastic opinions arose in these Alpine
It was an immense advantage, when compared
with this state of things, that in the dominions of the
ecclesiastical electors on the Rhine, the nobles were
sufficiently independent to procure for their vassals
a freedom of opinion which a spiritual prince could
hardly have granted. The Rhenish nobles had very
early adopted protestantism ; and allowed the sove-
* Extract from a Report by the Canon Wilh. v. Trautmanns-
dorf, dated 1555; in Zauner's Chronicle of Salzburg, vi. 327.
§ I.] IN THE YEAR 1563. 11
reign to make no encroachments on their domains,
even of a religious nature. A protestant party exist-
ed in every city. It evinced its activity in Cologne
by repeated petitions. In Treves it had become so
powerful as to send for a protestant preacher from
Geneva, and to maintain him in defiance of the elec-
tor. In Aix-la-Chapelle it aimed at nothing less
than ascendency. The citizens of Mayence did not
scruple to send their children to protestant schools,
for instance to Nuremberg. Commendone, who was
in Germany in 1561, is at a loss for words to de-
scribe the subservience of the prelates to the luther-
an princes, and their concessions to protestantism*.
Even in their privy councils he thinks he observes
protestants of the most violent opinions f. He is
astonished to find that time had so entirely failed
to bring any succour to Catholicism.
The same state of things prevailed in Westphalia
as elsewhere. The whole peasantry w^as engaged in
the labours of the harvest on St. Peter's day, and
the fasts ordained by the church w^ere generally neg-
lected. The town-council of Paderborn guarded
with a kind of jealousy its protestant profession.
In Münster most of the priests were publicly mar-
ried with all due forms : duke William of Cleves,
it is true, professed himself in the main a catholic,
but in his private chapel he received the sacrament
in both kinds ; the greater part of his council were
* Gratiani, Vie de Commendon, p. 116.
t De' piü arrabbiati heretici. — " Mi k parso che il tempo non
habbia apportato alcun giovamento." Comraendone, Relatione
dello state della Religione in Germania : MS. Vallicell.
12 STATE OF PROTESTANTISM [bOOK V.
confessedly protestants, and no important obstacle
was placed in the way of the evangelical form of
In short, throughout the whole of Germany, from
east to west and from north to south, protestant-
ism decidedly predominated. The nobles were in-
clined to it from the very first ; the official function-
aries — even then a numerous and influential body,
— were educated in the new belief; the common peo-
ple would hear no more of certain articles of faith,
for example, the doctrine of purgatory, or of certain
ceremonies, such as pilgrimages ; not a convent could
continue to support itself, nor did any one venture
to exhibit the relics of saints to the multitude. A
Venetian ambassador in the year 1558 reckons that
only a tenth part of the inhabitants of Germany
had remained faithful to the old religion.
It is not surprising that the power and the pos-
sessions of the catholic church continued to decline
together with her spiritual authority. In most of
the ecclesiastical foundations the canons were either
inclined to the reformed religion, or were at any rate
lukewarm and indifferent. What then was to hin-
der them, when a vacancy occurred, from proposing
Protestant bishops, if the measure appeared advan-
tageous in other respects ?
It is true that, according to the terms of the
* Tempesti, Vita di Sisto V.; from the Anonymo di Campi-
doglio, i, xxiii. : " Da molt' anni si comunicava con ambe le specie,
quantunque il sue capellaiio glieii' havesse parlato inducendolo a
comunicarsi cosi nella sua capella segreta per non dar mal esem-
pio a' sudditi."
§ I.] IN THE YEAR 1563. 13
peace of Augsburg, a spiritual prince forfeited his
office and revenues if he forsook the ancient faith ;
but this was not thought in any degree to restrain
a chapter which had embraced evangelical opi-
nions from electing an evangelical bishop ; the only
law binding upon them was that the endowments
should not be made hereditary. In this manner a
prince of Brandenburg obtained the archbishopric
of Magdeburg, a prince of Lauenburg that of Bre-
men, and a prince of Brunswick that of Halber-
stadt. Even the bishoprics of Lübeck, Verden,
Minden and the abbey of Quedlinburg fell into
These changes were accompanied by a propor-
tionate confiscation of church property ; the bi-
shopric of Augsburg, for instance, sustained great
losses in the course of very few years. In 1557 it
was stripped of all the convents in Wirtemberg,
and in 1 558 of the convents and livings of the coun-
ty of Oettingen. It was not till after the peace of
Augsburg that the protestants raised themselves to
equality in Dünkelsbühl and Donauwerth, and to
supremacy in Nördlingen and Memmingen ; when
the convents in those towns, among which was the
rich preceptory of St. Antony at Memmingen, and
the parochial livings, were irrecoverably lostf.
Nor were the future prospects of Catholicism more
encouraging than its present condition, since Pro-
testant opinions had become the predominant ones
* On this subject see also my Hist. Pol. Zeitschrift, i., ii.,
269, u. f.
t Placidus Braun, Histor}' of the Bishops of Augsburg, vol.
iii., 533, 535, et. seq., in this case, from authentic sources.
14 STATE OF PROTESTANTISM [bOOK V.
in the establishments for education. The ancient
champions of cathoHcism, wlio had taken the field
against Luther, and distinguished themselves in
religious controversies, were either dead or at a
very advanced age, and no young men competent
to supply their places had arisen. It was now
twenty years since any student at the university of
Vienna had taken priest's orders. In Ingolstadt
itself, which was so pre-eminently catholic, no qua-
lified members of the faculty of theology presented
themselves as candidates for important offices which
had hitherto always been filled by ecclesiastics*.
A school, with foundations for the benefit of the
scholars, was opened by the city of Cologne, but
when all the arrangements were made, it appeared
that the new regent was a protestantf. Cardinal
Otto Truchsess built a new university in his town
of Dillingen for the express purpose of combating
protestantism. For a few years it flourished, under
certain eminent Spanish theologians ; but at their
departure, no learned catholic could be found in
Germany to fill their places ; even these were occu-
pied by protestants. At this period almost all the
teachers in Germany were protestants ; the rising
generation sat at their feet, and, with the first rudi-
ments of knowledge, imbibed hatred of the pope.
Such was the condition of afiairs in the north and
east of Europe. In many places Catholicism was
* Agricola, Historia provincise societatis Jesu Germanise su-
perioris, i., p. 29.
t Orlandinus, Historia Societatis Jesu, torn, i., lib. xvi., nr.
25. : " Hujus nova? bursae regens, quern primum prsefecerant. Ja-
cobus Lichius, Lutheranus tandem apparuit."
§ I.] IN THE YEAR 1563. 15
entirely crushed, in all oppressed and despoiled ; and
whilst it was striving to defend itself here, enemies
yet more formidable had arisen against it in the
south and west.
For undoubtedly the calvinistic view of Christi-
anity was far more decidedly opposed to the doc-
trines of the church of Rome, than lutheranism ;
and it was precisely during the epoch of which we
are now speaking that Calvinism took possession
of men's minds with irresistible force.
It had arisen on the frontiers of Italy, Germany
and France, and had extended in all directions : in
Hungary, Poland and Germany it formed a subor-
dinate, but yet considerable element of the protest-
ant movement ; in the west of Europe it had alrea-
dy acquired independent power.
While the Scandinavian nations had adopted the
lutheran faith, Britain had become calvinistic,
though the protestant church had assumed two
wholly opposite forms in England and Scotland.
In Scotland, where it attained to power in opposi-
tion to the government, it was poor, popular and
democratic ; but so much more resistless was the
enthusiasm which it inspired. In England, on the
contrary, it had gained the ascendency by its alli-
ance with the existing government ; there it was
rich, monarchical and magnificent, and was con-
tent with exacting conformity to its ritual. The
former naturally bore a far stronger resemblance to
the church of Geneva, and was infinitely more in
accordance with the spirit of Calvin.
The French had embraced the doctrines of their
16 STATE OF PROTESTANTISM [bOOK V.
countryman with their national vehemence ; and
in spite of all persecutions, the French churches
were soon organized in a protestant form, on the
model of those of Geneva ; they even held a synod
as early as the year 1559. In 1561 the Venetian
ambassador Micheli did not find a single province
free from the protestant doctrines: he says, "three-
fourths of the kingdom were filled with them ; name-
ly, Brittany and Normandy, Gascony and Langae-
doc, Poitou, Touraine, Provence and Dauphine."
"At many places in these provinces," says he,
" meetings are held, sermons preached, and rules of
life laid down, entirely on the model of Geneva,
without any regard to the royal prohibition : these
opinions are adopted by all, and, what is most re-
markable, even by the clergy; not only by priests,
monks and nuns — few indeed of the convents re-
main uninfected — but even by the bishops and
many of the most considerable prelates." " Your
Highness," says he to the Doge, "may be as-
sured that with the exception of the lower classes,
who still zealously frequent the churches, all the
rest have fallen away, especially the nobles, and,