Leopold von Ranke.

The ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) online

. (page 28 of 39)
Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 28 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

The states now manifested extreme discontent
in their several provincial meetings, — the general
assembly having been prohibited by Ferdinand.
They refused to grant subsidies, and the soldiers
on the frontiers already began to show a spirit
of insubordination. But the archduke declared
he would rather lose all that he possessed by the
grace of God, than recede one step. The danger
to be apprehended from the Turks, who, during
these proceedings, had already taken Canischa and
daily advanced in a more threatening attitude, at
length compelled the states to grant supplies with-
out having obtained any concessions.

Accordingly there was now nothing to restrain
the archduke. In October, 1599, the protestant
church in Grätz was shut up, and the lutheran
service forbidden under pain of corporal punish-
ment or death. There was a commission appointed
which visited every part of the country with an
armed force. Styria was first reformed, then Ca-
rinthia, and lastly Carniola. From place to place
resounded the cry of, "The reformation is coming! "
The churches were torn down, the preachers ba-
nished or thrown into prison, and the inhabitants
compelled either to embrace the catholic faith or
to quit the country. Many were still found, for ex-
ample fifty burghers in the small town of St. Veit,

currence : "Such a petition, interspersed with warning, found but
a block of marble, which their pens were not skilled to penetrate
or soften."


who preferred exile to apostasy*. The exiles were
compelled to pay the tax of the tenth penny, which
for them was a heavy burthen.

Such were the cruelties perpetrated in the name
of religion. Such were the means by which Fer-
dinand earned the satisfaction of knowing, that in
the year 1603 there were above forty thousand
catholic communicants more than before.

This immediately produced an extensive effect
on all the Austrian provinces.

At first the emperor Rudolf had dissuaded his
young cousin from the schemes he contemplated ;
but their success induced him to imitate them.
We find a reformation commission actively at
work from 1599 to 1601 in upper, and from 1602
to 1603 in lower Austriaf. The preachers and
schoolmasters in Linz and Steier, who had grown
grey in the lutheran service, were compelled to
leave the country. Their lamentations were bitter.
" Now," exclaims the rector of Steier, " when
" bowed down by age, I am driven out to exile
and want];." One of those who still remained be-
hind writes, " destruction threatens us daily; our
enemies lie in wait for us, and mock us, and thirst
after our blood §."

The protestants of Bohemia thought themselves
more effectually protected by the ancient privileges
of the Utraquists, and those of Hungary by the

* Herrmann, St. Veit; in the Karinthian Chronicle, v. 3. p. 1G3.

t Raupach, Evangel. Oestreich, i. 215.

I " Jam senio squalens trudor in exilium." Valentine Pru-
enhueber, Annales Styrenses, p. 326.

§ Hofmarius ad Lyserum, Raupach, iv. 151.
VOL. II. 2 E


independence and power of the states. But Rudolf
now seemed little disposed to respect either the one
or the other. He had been persuaded that the old
Utraquists had ceased to exist, and that the lu-
therans had no legal claim to the privileges granted
to that sect. In the year 1602, he pubhshed an
edict, commanding the churches of the Moravian
brethren immediately to be closed, and forbidding
their meetings*. All the other sects felt that the
same fate awaited them ; nor were they long left in
doubt as to what they had to expect. Open force
was already resorted to in Hungary. Basta and
Belgiojoso, who commanded the imperial troops in
that country, took possession of the churches of
Caschau and Clausenburg ; with their assistance the
archbishop of Colocsa endeavoured to bring back
to Catholicism the thirteen towns of Zips. In an-
swer to the complaints of the Hungarians, the em-
peror published a resolution in these terms : " His
majesty, who sincerely believes in the holy roman
faith, wishes to propagate it in all his kingdoms,
and especially in Hungary ; he therefore hereby
confirms and ratifies all the decrees which have
been issued in favour of that faith, since the times
of Saint Stephen, the apostle of Hungary f."

For in spite of his advanced age and his cautious
temper, the emperor had thrown aside his modera-

* Sclimidt, Neuere Geschichte der Deutschen, iii. 260. An ex-
tract from the apjDendices attached to the Apology for the Bohe-
mians, published in 1618, which are frequently wanting in the
later editions.

f Art. XXIT., anno 1604. In Ribiny, Memorabilia Augu-
stanae Confessionis, i. p. 321.

CH. I. § v.] IN GERMANY.— AUSTRIA. 419

tion. The catholic princes, in a body, followed the
same policy ; as far as their power extended the
stream of Catholicism overspread the land, driven
onwards by the combined operation of argument
and of force ; nor did the constitution of the em-
pire afford any means of arresting its course. On
the contrary the efforts of Catholicism were so
strong and so successful, that they began at this
crisis to interfere with the affairs of the empire, and
to endanger the still existing rights of the protest-
ant part of its subjects*.

Already, aided by the influence of the papal
nuncio, particularly of cardinal Madruzzi, who first
drew attention to this point, changes were made
in the constitution of the courts of the empire,
which afforded both opportunity and means for at-
tacks on the protestants.

The Kammergericht had also assumed, towards
the commencement of the seventeenth century, a
more catholic complexion, and had given judge-
ments in conformity with the catholic interpretation
of the terms of the peace of Augsburg. Those
who thought themselves aggrieved, on the other
hand, had adopted the legal remedy of applying for
a revision of judgement ; but even these revisions
had come to a stand, in consequence of the cessa-

* Relatione del Nuntio Ferrero, 1606, contains a summary of
the consequent events : " Da alcuni anni in qua si e convertito
alia nostra santa religione una grandissima quantita d' anime,
restorate le chiese, rivocate molte religioni di regolari alii loro
antichi monasteri, restituite in bona parte le cerimonie ecclesia-
stiche, moderata alquanto la licenza degli ecclesiastici, e domesti-
cato il nome del pontefice Romano riconosciuto per capo della
chiesa universale."

2 E 2


tion of the visitations ; business accumulated, and
things remained as they were*.

It was under these circumstances that the Aulic
Council was established. This at any rate appeared
to give some promise of an end to litigation ; since
the weaker party could not have recourse to a legal
process which could never be executed. But the
aulic council was not only more decidedly catholic
than the Kammergericht, it was absolutely de-
pendent upon the court. " The aulic council,"
says the Florentine minister Alidosi, " gives no fi-
nal judgements, without previously communicating
them to the emperor and the privy council, who
seldom return them without some alterations f."

* Missive and Memorial from the Reichskammergericht to
the Imperial Diet of 1 608, from the collection of the Acts of the
Diet at Frankfort on the Main, of which I was kindly permitted
to make a previous examination. The Kammergericht affirms it
to be " land und reichskündig in wass grosser und merklicher
Anzall seit Ao. 86 die Revisionen deren von gedachtem Kammer-
gericht ergangenen und aussgesprochenen Urthell sich gehäuft,
dergestalt dass derselben nunmehr in die Einhundert allbereit
beim kaiserlichen Collegio denunciirt und deren vielleicht täglich
mehr zu gewarten." — " Known to the country and empire, to
how much greater and more remarkable a number the revisions of
the sentences passed and declared by the before-mentioned Kam-
mergericht had accumulated since the year 86 ; to such a degree,
that at the present moment notice was given of a hundred of the
same at the Imperial College, and more were probably to be ex-
pected every day."

t Relatione del S-" Rod. Alidosi, 1607—1609 : " E vero che
il consiglio aulico a questo di meno che tutte le definitioni che
anno virtu di definitiva non le pronuntia se prima non dia parte
a S. M'^, o in suo luogo al consiglio di stato, il quale alle volte o
uugumenta o toglie o modera 1' opinione di questo consiglio, e
cosi fatto si rimanda a detto consiglio tal deliberatione e cosi si

CH. I. § v.] IN GERMANY. — AUSTRIA. 421

But indeed what effective institutions were there
in the empire except the judicial ones? It was to
them that the unity of the German people as a na-
tion was attached. And these too w^ere now under
the influence of catholic opinions, and of court ex-
pediency. Complaints had already been heard of
partial judgements and arbitrary executions, when
the danger which threatened the country from this
source came prominently to view in the affair of

It happened that a catholic abbot in a protestant
town, w^ho wished to celebrate his processions with
greater publicity and solemnity than usual*, was
interrupted and insulted by the mob ; this incident
afforded a sufficient pretext for the aulic council to
inflict on the whole city tedious and vexatious pro-
cesses, mandates, citations and commissions, and
finally to place it under the ban of the empire,
which a neighbouring prince of the most rigid

* It is said in the report " on the Execution at Donawerth,"
which is to be found amongst the Acts of the Diet of the 4tli of
February, 1608, and with which the other accounts and notices
agree, that the abbot had only '• allein so viel herbracht dass er
mit niedergelegten und zusammengewickelten Fahnen ohne
Gesang und Klang und zwar allein durch ein sonderes Gässlein
beim Kloster hinab bis ausser der Stadt und ihrem Bezirk gan-
gen, und die Fahnen nit eher aufrichten und fliegen oder singen
und klingen lassen, er sey denn ausser deren von Donawerth
Grund." — " The right to issue from the city and its domain, with
banners furled and lowered, without song or music, and more-
over by passing through a particular alley near the monasteiy ;
neither was he to allow his banners to be raised and unfurled,
nor song or music to be heard, till he was out of Donawertli
ground." These restrictions he had now broken through.


catholic opinions, Maximilian of Bavaria, was com-
missioned to carry into effect. He was not satisfied
with taking immediate possession of Donauwerth,
but invited the Jesuits thither, prohibited protestant
worship, and took the usual measures for effecting
a counter-reformation.

Maximilian him.self regarded this incident as an
affair of general interest. He wrote to the pope
that it might be received as a test of the general
decline of heresy.

But he deceived himself, when he imagined that
the protestants would suffer patiently. They clearly
saw what they had to expect if things were allowed
to go on in that course.

The Jesuits had already had the audacity to deny
the validity of the treaty of Augsburg ; they af-
firmed that its ratification could not be valid with-
out the consent of the pope ; at all events it could
have been binding only down to the time of the
council of Trent, and was to be considered as a
kind of interim.

Even those who recognised the validity of this
treaty, held, that at least all the property confis-
cated by the protestants since its ratification, ought
to be restored ; they paid no attention to the con-
struction put upon it by the protestants. What
then was to be expected when these views were
adopted by the highest courts of judicature, when
judgements had actually been given, and carried
into execution in accordance with them ?

At the meeting of the diet at Ratisbon in the
year 1608, the protestants would proceed to no con-


ference, until the validity o the treaty of Augsburg
should be absolutely recognised and confirmed*.
Even Saxony, which had hitherto always inclined
to the emperor's side, now required the abolition of
the suits instituted by the aulic council, in so far as
they were contrary to precedent ; reforms in the ad-
ministration of the law ; and not only the renewal of
the religious peace, as concluded at the diet of Augs-
burg in the year 1555, but also a pragmatic sanc-
tion prohibiting the Jesuits from writing against

On the other side, however, the catholics were
zealous and united ; the bishop of Ratisbon had
previously issued a circular, in which he exhorted
his brethren in the faith to enjoin upon their
delegates an unanimous defence of the catholic
religion; "to stand together firm and fast as a
wall ;" by no means to temporize ; there was no-
thing now to fear, since they had inflexible and
zealous defenders in the most august and illustri-

* Protocollum im Correspondenzrath, dated 5th of April 1608,
to be found in the acts of the diet : " Die Hauptconsultation jetzi-
ger Reichsversammlung sey bisher darumben eingestelt verbli-
ben dass die Stend evangelischer Religion den Religionsfriden
zu confirmiren begert und der papistische Theil die Clausulam
dem Abschied zu inseriren haben wollen : dass alle Güter die
sinthero a. 55 von den Evangelischen Stenden eingezogen wor-
den restituirt werden sollen." — " The chief consultation of the
present assembly of the states of the empire had remained at a
standstill, because the states professing the evangelical religion
had desired to confirm the peace of Augsburg, while the catholic
party had wanted to insert in the edict, the clause, that all
possessions which had fallen into the hands of the evangelical
states from the year 55, should be restored."


ous princely houses. Though the catholics showed
a disposition to confirm the treaty of Augsburg, it
was only under condition that a clause should be
inserted, " that whatever contravened that treaty
should be abolished, and things restored to the sta-
tus quo ;" a clause which contained precisely what
the protestants feared, and wished to avoid.

While such disunion existed on important ques-
tions, there was not the smallest hope that on any
single point an unanimous determination could be
formed ; or that the supplies which the emperor
wished for and wanted for the Turkish war, would
be voted.

It appears as if this had made some impression
on the emperor ; as if the court had really deter-
mined to comply in good faith with the requests of
the protestants. This at least is the impression
made by a very remarkable report which the papal
envoy drew up of the proceedings of this diet.

The emperor was not present, being represented
by the archduke Ferdinand. The nuncio was also
absent from Ratisbon, and had sent thither, in his
name, an Augustine friar, one Fra Felice Milensio,
the vicar-general of his order, who laboured with
uncommon zeal to maintain intact the interests of

This same Fra Milensio, the author of the report
in question, asserts that the emperor had actually
determined on issuing an edict conformable to the
wishes of the protestants. He traces this to the
immediate influence of Satan ; and adds, that the
document was doubtless concocted by the privy


chamberlains of the emperor, one of whom was a
jew, the other a heretic*.

I give in his own words this further account of
the transaction : " Upon the report of the intended
pubUcation of this edict, which was communicated
to rae and some others, I went to the archduke,
and asked if such a decree had arrived : the arch-
duke rephed it had. ' And is it your imperial
highness's intention to publish it ? ' The archduke
answered, ' Such are the commands of the emperor's
privy council : you, reverend father, must see your-
self in what situation we are placed.' Thereupon I
answeredf, ' Your imperial highness will not belie

* Ragguaglio della DIeta imperiale fatta in Ratisbona 1608,
nella quale in luogo dell' ecc'"° e rev'"" Mons"" Antonio Gaetano
arcivescovo di CajDua, nuntio apostolico, riraasto in Praga appresso
la M'^ Cesarea, fu residente il padre Felice Milensio maestro
Agostiniano vicario generale sopra le provincie aquilonari. " E
certo fu machinato dal demonio e promosso da suoi ministri, di
quali erano i due camericri intimi di Ridolfo, heretico 1' uno, He-
breo r altro, e quei del consiglio ch' eran Hussiti o peggiori."

t " Sovenga le, Ser™" Altezza, di quella cattolica pieta con la
quale ella da che nacque fu allevata e per la quale pochi anni a
dietro non temendo pericolo alcuno, anzi a rischio di perdere i
suoi stati, ne band! tutti gli heretici con ordine che fra jDochi
mesi si dichiarassero cattolici o venduti gli stabili sgombrassero
via dal paese : sovengale che nella tavola dipinta della chiesa
dei padri Capuccini in Gratz ella sta effigiata con la lancia im-
pugnata come un altro Michele e con Luthero sotto i piedi in
atto di passarli la gola : et hora essendo ella qui in persona di
Cesare, non devo credere che sia per soffrire se perdano i beni
dotali della chiesa il patriraonio di Christo, e molto meno che ia
diabolica setta di Luthero sia con questa moderna concessione
confirmata e per peggio quella ancor di Calvino gia incorporata,
la quale non riceve mai tolleranza alcuna imperiale. Questo e

piu dissi io et ascoltö il piissimo principe Priegola, dissi,

a sospender questa materia fino alia risposta del sommo ponte-


the piety in which you have been educated ; the
piety with which you have dared, in the face of so
many imminent dangers, to banish all heretics
without exception from your dominions. I can-
not beUeve that your highness will by this new
concession, sanction the plunder of the church, or
the establishment of the devilish sect of Luther, or
the still more detestable one of Calvin, which have
never yet enjoyed legal and public toleration in the
empire.' The pious prince listened to me. ' But
what is to be done ? ' said he. I answered, ' I en-
treat your highness to lay the matter before the
pope, and to take no step until we have his reply.'
This the archduke did, having more regard to the
commands of God, than to the decrees of men."

If this is all true, we see what an important
part this obscure augustine friar plays in German
history. At the decisive moment, he prevented the
publication of concessions which would probably
have satisfied the protestants. Instead of these,
Ferdinand published an edict of interposition which
virtually included the clause objected to by the
protestants. At a meeting of the 5th of April
1608, the protestants were unanimous in their de-
termination not to receive the edict, nor to give
way*. As the other party was equally obstinate, and

fice : e cosi fece difFerendo i decreti degli liuomini per non ofFen-
dere i decreti di Dio."

* Vote of the Palatinate, in the Correspondenzrath : " Dass
die Confirmation des Religionsfriedens keineswegs einzugehn
wie die Interpositionschrift mit sich bringe : dann selbige den
evangelischen Stenden undienlich, weilen der Abschied anno 66
eben die Clausulam habe so jetzt disputirt werde." — " That the
confirmation of the peace of Augsburg, as stated in the letter of


as nothing was to be obtained from the emperor or
his representative calculated to appease their fears,
they resorted to extreme measures, and quitted the
diet. For the first time the diet separated without
any formal dissolution ; agreement was out of the
question. It was a moment in which the unity of
the empire was virtually dissolved.

Matters could not possibly remain in this state.
Each party was too weak to maintain single-handed
the position it had assumed ; the exigency of the
moment drove the protestants to form an union
which they had long intended, advised, and pre-
pared. Immediately after the diet there was a
meeting at Ahausen between two palatine princes,
— the elector Frederick and the count palatine of
Neuburg ; two Brandenburg princes, — the mar-
graves Joachim and Christian Ernest ; the duke
of Wiirtemberg and the margrave of Baden, who
concluded a treaty known under the name of the
Union. They pledged themselves to assist each
other in every way, even with arms ; especially in
relation to the grievances brought forward at the
late diet. They immediately put themselves in a
state of military organization, and every member
engaged to try to induce his neighbours to join the
Union. Their object was, to procure for themselves
that security which, in the present state of things,
the imperial government failed to afford them.

interposition, can by no means be assented to : for the same is of
no service to the evangelical states, since the decree of the year
66, contains the very clause which is now in dispute." It was
not contained in the decrees of 1557 and 1559. The letter of in-
terposition refeiTed merely to 1566, and was rejected for the rea-
son that it treated the emperor as judge in matters of religion.


This was an innovation pregnant with the most
extensive consequences ; the more so from an event
of a corresponding nature which occurred in the
hereditary dominions of the emperor.

The emperor had quarrelled with his brother
Matthias on various grounds; the estates of Austria,
deprived both of civil and religious freedom, saw
in these differences an opportunity of shaking off
their yoke, and threw their weight into the scale of
the archduke.

In the year 1606, the archduke, with their con-
currence, concluded a peace with the Hungarians,
without even consulting the emperor. The estates
alleged as an excuse, that the emperor neglected
public business, and that the state of affairs had
compelled them to act. But as Rudolf refused to
recognise this peace, they raised the standard of
rebellion, in virtue of the convention they had
formed*. In the first place the Hungarian and
Austrian estates concluded a mutual alliance, of-
fensive and defensive ; they then, aided by the in-
fluence of one of the Lichtenstein family, induced
the Moravians to join them ; and all pledged them-
selves to peril property and life for the archduke.
On the very day on which the diet of Ratisbon
broke up, (May 1608,) they took the field against

* The act of stipulation contained this clause : " Quodsi jn-op-

ter vel contra tractationem Viennensem et Turcicam hostis

aut turbator aliquis ingrueret, turn serenissimum archiducem et
omnes status et ordines regni Hungariai et archiducatus supe-
rioris et inferioris Austriae mutuis auxiliis sibi et suppetiis non
defuturos." Reva ap. Schwandtner, Script, rerum Ung. ii. Kurz,
Beiträge zur Geschichte des Landes Oestreich ob der Ens, vol. iv.
p. 21.


the emperor under the command of a leader of their
own choice. Rudolf could make no resistance,
and was obliged to cede to his brother, Hungary,
Austria, and Moravia.

Matthias was of course compelled to repay by
concessions the services which the estates had ren-
dered him. For forty-eight years the emperors had
evaded the appointment of a palatine in Hungary :
a Protestant was now advanced to that dignity.
Religious toleration was secured in the most so-
lemn manner, not only to the magnates, but also
to the cities ; to all classes in short, even to the
soldiers serving on the frontiers * ; nor would the
Austrians do homage till the exercitium religionis
was secured to their castles and villages, as well as
to the private houses of the towns.

What the Austrians and Hungarians had obtain-
ed by offensive, the Bohemians gained by defensive
measures. Rudolf was forced from the first to
consent to make large concessions, in order to op-
pose any effectual resistance to his brother. After
Hungary and Austria had, with the aid of Matthias,
obtained so considerable a share of freedom, Ru-
dolf could not refuse the demand of the Bohemians,
whatever the papal nuncio or the Spanish minister
might say to the contrary. He granted them the
imperial letter, which not only renewed the former
concessions made by MaximihanH., but permitted
them to establish certain authorities for their spe-
cial protection.

The posture of affairs in the German, and parti-
cularly the hereditary, dominions of the emperor,

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 28 of 39)